Monday, May 31, 2004

Bank Holiday Madness 

Packed up the Clio straight after the Gisburn Forest ride and headed off to Brum for some fun 'n' frolics with the SecretSingleSpeeder. Sunday night was spent throwing bottled alcohol down our necks as quick as possible in the Custard Factory and dancing like a pair of crazy gazelles to a cool-as-funk Mr Scruff DJ set. Trouser jazz indeed! I think we finally hit the hay at about 4:30am - rock ' n' roll!

Why can't all mondays be like this? Riding amazing new trails in great weather with top riding buddies (Rob, Juicy Jim and Steve 2) on a reborn bicycle (the Red Baron). Rob was heroically hauling his Stinky around to great effect, JJ was in Cotical Madness Xtreem mode and Steve 2 was climbing like a God on the orangiest bicycle on Earth (DMR Sidekick). I won't go into great detail, as you will probably already have read the ace round-up on Rob's site, but here's a run down of the best bits:

All of it :o)

I could have done without the crazy bonk attack at the end (I forgot how quickly I crumble when it comes) but I can't think of any other ride that is so demanding on skill, strength and bottle and yet so utterly, utterly rewarding. I realise I say this every week but we really did ride The Best Trail Ever on this charmed day. The stoopid grins, all out incredulous laughter and congratulatory handshakes (English gent freeriders!) at the foot of one particular descent was truly a great moment. I soooo cannot wait to go back there later this year to do an even harder ride. Hopefully after a bit more sleep and food next time!
Photo's Taken By Jimmy Of This Shropshire Lunacy.
(as usual none of the best trails were photographed 'cos we were too busy riding them!)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Heroes To Zeros" by The Beta Band.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Guess who's (also) back?... 

... The Droid! Guided Craig and trainee Northerner Simon Barnes around Gisburn Forest. The weather was absolutely great, I was riding the Laser Bike (Klein) and so I got a little bit carried away and made us all ride pretty much every trail I know in the forest. Which was a bit risky considering Coogle's fragile state (hip okay but twingy hand) but I could tell that he was very determined to reign in his labrador instincts and was actually taking things fairly easy and getting off or slowing right down when things got a bit dodgy. Nice one dude! The main car parks and waymarked trails were fairly busy but The Special Stuff was deserted as usual - groovy. A cool, hot, chilled time was had by all. If only we managed to get to the ice cream store five minutes earlier(!).
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "The Best Of..." by Sly & The Family Stone.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Guess who's back?... 

... The Red Baron that's who! I'm gonna give it one last chance not to piss me off on a ride before I consign it to the shed for all eternity. I am giving it a sporting chance by slapping on these tyres...

... how can it possibly go wrong now? ;o)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts" by M83.


Friday, May 28, 2004

"I only crash when I go slow!" 

A Classic thursday evening ride from the Stubbing Wharf. Big mixed group of riders. Some old, some new. All in good cheer (even after being subjected to the most climb-tastic start to a night ride I can remember - Hebden up to Limer's Gate). The rutted singletrack on top of High Brown Knoll was absolutely brilliant in its unusually dry state and I make no apologies for attempting to ride it as fast as possible. I was rulin', maan. There wasn't even a trace of moisture on the rock-infested gully alongside the barbed wired wall - wow! There was a group of us at the front (me, Sex Midget, Stu and TimK) who couldn't help ourselves and were riding everything absolutely at full pelt. It was pretty cool in that it seemed as if we were all on good form and upping our usual game to "compete" with each other (but in a nice way). Gotta rank as one of the best follow-the-leader sessions that I've had for an awful long time. I decided to bring the pace down a bit and turn my lights on to see the ground a bit better whilst descending Pecket Well B and instantly crashed going over a silly lickle waterbar (cut knee and bruised hip). Decided to turn the lights off and go back to riding fast again. No further problems were encountered! Rode straight down Bolty's Steps without hesitation and even rode the infamous the-walls-are-closing-in final steps (after a quick self-motivating shout of "don't stop you twat!"). Back alongside Riverside Run and into the Stubbing for a much needed pint of Coca-Cola and a beer. It was a pretty atypical ride really (1 big climb followed by 1 big descent, big mixed group, not much cheeky action, no new trails) but it has to rank up there with the best of 'em.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Anti NY" by Various Artists.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

"Who knew THAT was there?" 

Because I am a sad loner I went for a solo ride around my nearest decent-sized forest (Gisburn). I wasn't terrifically in the mood for a ride really (much prefer riding with someone else) but the nice weather was too good to waste so I forced myself oot on't' beek. As I was on my own I was free to explore and follow whatever crazy vague trail I stumbled across without fear of p!ssing off my riding comrades. And I found some absolutely peachy new singletrack trails - probably the best ones in the whole forest. And I've been riding in this forest for about 10 years! It was quite a simple find really ie. I just decided to ride the waymarked walking routes (gasp!). Spurred on by these discoveries (and by my ever faithful Klein) I then rode ALL of the Red Route and ALL of the cheeky singletrack (including the old Sprogs race course!) which meant lots of to-ing and fro-ing and repeated use of connecting fireroads but it was too much fun to stop. Solo riding is ace! (can't wait to go back with m'colleagues though!)
Cute dappled digi pic's of my latest finds.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Heroes To Zeroes" by The Beta Band.


Saturday, May 22, 2004

"It needs a bit of reworking I reckon" 

A mixture of old Calderdale Classics and new Unknowns with Juicy Jim. The weather was excellent (again!) and The Sheep Track down to Hurstwood Reservoir was the best it has ever been (sooo fast'n'swoopy). After the Wind Farm we intended to follow The Burnley Way from Stiperden Farm all the way down alongside a stream to Brown Birks Farm. To cut a long story short, we struggled manfully with "No Cycling" signs, never-ever ridden overgrown bridleways and vague grassyness at the start but this eventually joined up with a zig-zaggy bit down to a cute packhorse bridge, a streamside slice of whippy singletrack, a steep farmroad climb (hmm... never mind) and a great bit of narrow dusty singletrack through grass that descends sharply at first before turning right and becoming a bit more swoopsome and spitting you out on the outskirts of Portsmouth. Ace! Then it was Mary T back up to the Wind Farm (sweat-tastic!) followed by an impromptu exploration of Hurstwood Hall woods which was ace; two steep slopes to get into it and full of locals-only dirt tracks and jumpy bits once inside. Me and Jim being the responsible grown-ups that we are rose to the various challenges of the inevitable bunch of 10yr olds and rode up'n'down some steep rooty drops. We felt it was time to leave after one of the kids attempted to copy us on his huge 40lb Argos full-susser and crashed his arse off quite badly and also some bigger kids came who looked like they would whip us good'n'proper on the jumps! ;-D
MUSIC OF CHOICE: duh-de-duh, duh-de-duh, duh-de-duh!


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Three Pigs Trotting 

Evening ride with Chipps, Chris, Qwackers, Tim, Stanny and Dave. Tonight I rode a trail I have had my eye on for several years (it finishes very near the road I drive to Tod and Hebden Bridge on). Despite these many, many years of expectation it still did not disappoint. The only downside to the route is that the only way up to the start of the main featured trail is through a hideous post-apocalyptic fly-tipping zone - nice(!). Once on top though we were awarded nice, tempting views of of a potential trail nirvana on the opposite fells (must investigate further). The warm-up to the descent proper was through some pedal-grabbing narrow rutted singletrack across a tufty field (which was ace), then it followed a wall and stream downwards which Qwackers had spent a bit of time "surfacing" (but only enough to make it just about rideable - top work fella!), a quick climb over a wall and the madness began in earnest with a slightly terrifying steep tufts'n'rubble drop on the edge of a cliffette (which I pleasingly just rode without pausing for thought - confidence coming back at last?), the rest of the trail all the way back down to the road was also a bit edgy but not so overly scary and it was packed with lots of most entertaining try-not-to-washouts, drops, micro-berms, footbridges, low branches and rocks. Everyone had big grins plastered all over their chops at the bottom and a few people instantly claimed it to be one the best descents in Calderdale (which it is). Off to the Staff Of Life pub we went and had lots of nice ale. Grrreat!
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Forged Prescriptions" by Spacemen 3.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Always pack the night before 

Rode to work on me road bike. 17 miles 'xactly in 1hr02mins (timing sponsored by coogle.co.uk). Fairly interesting ride - mostly due to novelty factor I'd imagine though. Forgot my office keys so had to sit on a bench in the sunshine eating a bacon sarnie until Mark showed up (nightmare eh?). Got spare keys off Mark as he left to pick his kid dudes up from school. Got ready to leave at 5pm with all my stuff packed in a nice Outcast courier bag borrowed off Chipps with my bike ready in the hallway, both of us quite looking forward to slower paced return leg in the sunshine. Remembered at last minute to go to the Post Office to post a letter. Left bag and bike in office. Grabbed spare keys and went to the Post Office. Returned to the office. Put key in door. Turned it. Nothing. Turned it again (a tad more frantically). Nothing. Shit. Locked out. No mobile phone on me either (in office) so couldn't call anyone local with a spare key to help me out. Shit. An alarmingly lycra-d TimK cycled up and stopped and we stood there for a bit wondering how best to deal with my situation. Ended up calling Mum at her work (the only phone number I could remember, weirdly) and getting her to call Dad (who was at my brother's new house) who came and rescued me. I sat on a bench reading a newspaper and drinking Fanta in the sunshine while I waited. Lessons learned 1) don't forget your fucking key you dickhead 2) sunshine is great :o)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Black Devil EP" by Joachim Sherylee & Junior Claristidge.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Back to that old skool groove thang 

Big, fast, fun 'n' sunny as hell. That's what mine and Crumbs' ride was like. A truly great ride encompassing all the best things I like about MTBing: great scenery (the untouchable Dales), perfect weather (azure blue skies with the odd fluffy cloud scudding gently across now and again), a responsive and tactile bicycle (the laser-sighted hardliner Klein), ice cream (yer classic 99), beer (Phoenix brewery) and last but by no means least Mr Crumbs! We ride so similarly and know what kind of terrain/environment we each like best that it's quite eerie. This particularly special brand of telepathic cycling verisimilitude is what I have been missing of late. Crumbs showed me a new steep up'n'over section over a crag that ranks as one of the best trails I have ridden in the Dales and whereas most people would only focus on the (admittedly awesome) descent Crumbs knew that I actually liked the technical climb up to it even more(!). A special day. Crumbs needs to ride more - if only for my sake! ;o)
Pic's of this most excellent of days.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Rejoicing In The Hands" by Devendra Banhart.

Friday, May 14, 2004

No place on a pushbike 

Left work early and decided to borrow the team disk brake bleeding kit to sort out my Heckler's stopping quirks. After half an hour of reading the worst instructions I have ever come across (note to Hope Technology: inserting the words "the", "a", "old" and "new" into your guides would be A Good Thing so we might be able to tell which bit you're feckin' talkin' about at any one time!). Anyway better instructions were found but I still found the theory behind what I was trying to achieve unfathomable ("have I put in too much fluid or not enough?", "should the lever be to the bars now or not?" etc) and the execution overly tricksy. After over an hour of faffing, and with incredibly raw hands due to noxious brake fluid, I decided to say "balls" to it and gave up (another job for Blazing Saddles methinks).

Last year I put an Avid mechanical disk brake on my Klein. From opening the box to going for a ride was less than 30 minutes. I shortened the outer cable earlier this year when new forks were put on - 5 minute job. I haven't had to replace the inner cable yet but if I do - 5 minute job. I have put new pads in this year which brings the total amount of time spent sorting my Avid brake out to 40 swear-free minutes. They are bloody powerful brakes (better than Mini's) and the pads last ages.

Why the flaming fuck did I buy hydraulic brakes?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Diamonds on my windshield, dogshit on my pedals... 

Calderdale evening ride from Singletrack Towers. Quite a big posse out and all rockin' da joint to varying degrees of success. Extra bonus points for Comrade Felix for commuting 63,4567km earlier in the day - rrrrrrrrriss-spek! Honourable mention to Alec for being the complete cycling renaissance man as he arrived on a skinny-ass road bike and then hopped aboard a full-on mofo DH bike for the ride (the increasingly admired Specialized "Big Hit"). I lost style points (but gained comedy tokens) for collecting a huge stinking mass of fresh dog turdage on my flat pedals at the start of the ride while passing through Tod Park Woods. Nice. Serves me right for riding the gay Heckler which also threw various tantrums throughout the ride with tightening headset and loosening BB etc etc - back in the shed with you then! Tim's Sneaky Cheeky was 10 feet wider than usual and full of JCB-style mud troughs (boo!) but once on the hillside proper the backmarker group of Cheekfinder Generals (lead by Capt Anderson) did spot a prime zone of hot'n'saucy zig-zag action on the hillside opposite which will be ours. The section along to Orchan Rocks and all the way down Rodwell B was shockingly brilliant! I had been taking it for granted for quite some time beforehand but tonight it was really rhythmic and flowy. I made a mental note to ride the big Calderdale Classic as soon as possible (see Singletrack issue ??). Everyone was having so much fun that for once the traditionally slacktastic Singletrack night ride team opted to ride some more - wowsers! So off we went to Ollie's Drop (new to me and Dave and most entertainingly nadgery narrowness), along to the Shepherd's Rest and down Hunny Hole right into the throbbing heart of Tod Central. Quick couple of Erdingers in the Tenth Muse and off to bed. Super-duper!
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "The Stereo And God" by Joy Zipper.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

"There they are! Praise the Lord!" 

Evening ride up Pendle Hill in a not-so-discreet group of me, Dave, Chipps, Mark, Carvel, Paul, Lucy, Phil and Steve. I wasn't in quite such good form on the technical stuff as last saturday but I was climbing very well (smooth and powerful!). I think singlespeeding so much is really helping my pedalling technique (less "stompy"). The ground was fairly dry and it was surprisingly mild on top with no real wind to speak of which is highly unusual for Pendle. The group spirit wasn't quite so slacker-stylee as usual (macho men anyone?) and all but two of us carried onwards to reach the summit trigpoint. And then we got lost! Visibility due to heavy mist was limited to about 50ft and the group quickly split into about 3 separate factions each plowing their own bearing. A regrouping was ordered and it was then that we noticed the glow of Dave and Chipps' HID lights on the horizon - revealing that the best of our directional guesses was still at least 90 degrees off! Phew - we're saved! Now I know why you're always hearing about people getting lost on Pendle - quite scary really. Anyway, upon regrouping we all descended down the slabbed section quite gingerly so as to avoid the usual pinch-flatting tedium and began the ravine singletrack. Paul has his usual light problems but was sorted out with a new set from Chipps' Camelbak of wonders. I was first to go on the uber-narrow rollercoaster trail and was riding okay but felt a bit sketchy so didn't attempt to ride any of the dicier gullies myself but I was very impressed by Mark's new found have-a-go attitude (until he nearly fell down the ledge!). The "motorway" descent after the ravine felt much less nervy and with the absence of a headwind I began to hammer it, stopping occasionally to let someone catch up so I could "race" them and/or show them the best lines. Top fun! One of the best Pendle descents I can remember actually. We'd been out a ridiculous amount of time (3.5hrs?) so no time for beer, straight off to bed (boo!)
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Midnite Vultures" by Beck.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Comfy Old Slippers 

After being inspired by the previous week's high quotient of techno singletrack I felt like a return to Ogden Clough's prime sliver of trail was much overdue. I neglected to set my alarm clock so was awoken by Juicy Jim banging on the door at 10am - oops! Thankfully it didn't take too long to get ready and we were on the bikes by 11am (Jim on my Bonty and me on my beloved Redline). From the very off it was clear that it was going to be a Jimmy moan-fest! Every single incline or boggy bit was met with a glum pout and/or cursing. I took this as (no doubt unintended) criticism of my guiding and tried in vain to desperately piece together an easier way of getting to and from Ogden Clough (which is fairly difficult considering it's basically the top of Pendle Hill and we started at the bottom of Pendle Hill!). Anyways, the Redline stomped over Wiswell Moor and all the way up Pendle's southern slope to join Ogden Clough's ravine-edge skinny trail's halfway point no problem. 32:17 is the future of singlespeeding! The singletrack at this point is really narrow with loads of BB-high sidewalls to catch pedals on. I know these trails very well (been ridin' em for 10yrs don't you know?) and know that the secret is to ride them as fast and smooth as possible because there will be long sections where you cannot pedal due to the narrowness and you'll need momentum to carry you on. Jim didn't know this (and wasn't taking heed of my advice) so really struggled and had to put feet down a lot and couldn't build up any rhythm or confidence (it was his first time on Time pedals too which didn't help!). The Witch Trail on to the top was too steep and too muddy to ride so we pushed most of it. The slab descent off the top of Pendle Hill trigpoint was great fun and for once I didn't have a front wheel washout on them despite them being wet and me riding Conti Vert tyres (yikes!). On commencing the start of the Ogden Clough ravine singletrack I mistakenly let Jim go first in the belief that I could speed him up to the required speed by riding very closely behind him. He didn't speed up, and riding that trail at that speed was a nightmare - really, really hard work. So I dodgily overtook him on one of the very few passing sections and proceeded to ride the trail better than I have ever ridden it before. Having no derailleur to worry about smashing and no big ring to ground out was an obvious advantage the Redline had but there was something else, something more intangible that it had too. Terry Henry would call it "va va voom" - and he'd be right! Fan-fucking-tastic! We took in the rocky descent to Wiswell on the way back (where Jim had a go on the Redline) which was quite fun but I was still thinking about Ogden Clough and the "in-the-zone" period I had experienced on my Monocog; thinking about how soon I can organise an evening ride from Barley so I can ride the ravine singletrack in one uninterrupted contrary burst of adrenaline and calmness.

Ogden Clough: unquestionably My Favourite Trail Of All Time :-0
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Guerilla" by Super Furry Animals.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Shonky Shuttling 

Details in the next issue of Singletrack.

Subscribe now! ;o)

Suffice to say it was lots of fun and should make an entertaining article. On a personal note it was bizarre and brilliant to be out riding with Paul "I Invented The Suspension Fork" Turner - especially duelling with him down Ali's Zig-Zags. Ace!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

A New Dawn 

As of next Monday I am an employee of Singletrack. Money is (currently) nowt special but it sounds like it should be an interesting experience.

Want to place an ad in Singletrack? Then talk to me :o)

Also, went to watch Adem (okay but shit sound) and Explosions In The Sky (bland post-rock bobbins) in Manchester with Crumbs.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Freeride Wales 

Borrowed a pair of downhill monster bikes from Singletrack, met up with Rob in north Wales, found a B+B, went to pub for a few beers to catch up on things. The plan was to bag Snowdon. Due to voluntary bike we had to start at 5am.

Rob's excellent write-up here.

I'd just like to state that The Special Trail is even better than Rob implies!
MUSIC OF CHOICE: "Parsley Sounds" by Parsley Sound.

Monday, May 03, 2004

North York Moors Weekender 

Friday April 30: Last day at work (yay!). Drove to Little Fryup Dale in the North York Moors in Jim's Juicy Wagon for a weekend of old skool MTBing exploration and navigation.

Saturday May 1: 35 mile epic based around Rudland Rigg. Mostly on pretty uneventful fireroads but the weather was gorgeous, the views impressive and the trail down off Carr Ridge was fecking brilliant - worth the effort for that section alone we agreed (re: the power of a Great Trail). Got back quite late so stayed in watching The Top 100 Erotic Moments on C4 whilst drinking organic ale. Classy.

Sunday May 2: 27 mile classic route circumnavigating Great Fryup Dale. Set off from B+B doorstep at 10:30am, returned at 10:30pm! Nine hours out and about on the bikes (don't be too impressed by the time - it was mostly due to hangover pace cruising, lots of photos and navigating nightmares!). Found some seriously amazing trails - one the best being the one straight out of the B+B, which was so good Jim had to phone someone up to tell them about it ASAP!. More ace trails followed, including one of the scariest bridleway drops I've ever done in the UK! Loads of narrow-as-hell (never used) singletrack through heather moorland, "rock garden" style wide techno trailsing, comically steep road climbs(!) and much much more! The best thing is that we can piece together an even better ride from what we learned/found and a return visit later in the year is on the cards! At 7:30pm we were on the hill that lies between the pub and the B+B. We decided to go straight to the pub and worry about how we'd get back later with no lights (very hungry at this point y'see!). Anyways to cut a long story short we found another great trail shortcut to the pub, had a great meal there, got pissed off 3 pints and cycled back over the hill lit purely by moonlight (clear sky and full-ish moon) - YAY!

Monday May 3: 15 miles around Rosedale old railway trails. I was well up for riding a lot more, Jim wasn't (due to dreaded deadlines and fatigue). Weather was great yet again (apart from 15 minutes of rain) and the views were splendid. The trails we were on were the sort that only really come alive if ridden quite fast'n'hard (ultra swoopy) so I was lovin' it but Jim clearly wasn't getting so much out of it. Thankfully Jim's lack of energy and time meant we had to improvise a shortcut across open moorland and it was here that we found The Best Moorland Singletrack In The World Ever. Wow! Swooptastic.

All in all a pretty strong candidate for my best ever weekend of biking :-D
Digi pics taken (mostly) by Jim here.
MUSIC OF CHOICE: Cee-Lo Brown's new LP.

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