Thursday, 4 January 2018

Arboreal Gymnastics

storm Eleanor wreaked havoc around the NWAlps, leaving lots of trees down and everywhere littered with dead wood and detritus. I even had to swing out around a fallen tree to get past on the canal towpath. With gusts still up to 46 mph it wasn't the easiest of rides and sure was a proper workout. lots of the usual trails are now blocked and as they aren't official paths there's little chance of them being cleared any time soon. hopefully the trails will evolve around them and the old girls of the forest will become features as they return to the soil from which they came.
Ride 2
20 miles
Total 42

Number 1

Goals for this year? simple 5000 miles please on any bike of any size or shape. simple, thats' only approx 100 miles per week.....gulp!
Ride 1
22 miles
Total 22

The End

ride 93
17 miles
total 1947
Commuting 1318
total for the year 3265 in 202 rides 
not the 5k miles i was hoping for, i think the fat bike has held me back this year and limited the distances i've been doing. I may do more normal sized mtb miles next year. this years goal was quality rather than quantity but that has made me realise i really like beating totals! must do better!

Boxing Day

Post Christmas excess shifting ride? not really we just played around in the woods and scared the life out of a first time MTBer and actually think we broke him a little bit :-(
ride 92
15 miles
total 1930

Christmas Eve

It's not often that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday and i got the day off to ride, cold and a complete contrast to the last ride in Scotland it was never the less a great way to start the holidays
ride 91
22 miles
total 1915 December???

When you get a call asking if you want a free trip to Scotland to ride bikes you don't even think that the weather might not play ball. there are trails to ride and maybe experience in a way you've not done before.
Yes we broke down on the way, yes there was a lot more snow than was forecast, yes i didn't take my fat bike (i'd have been tempted if the NWAlps hadn't experienced all that snow last week) but boy it was a great few days!
I wasn't expecting to use the 50T cog on the eagle cassette but as we climbed janet's brae in ever thicker snow i didn't change out of it for about 45 mins!, paths down in the town were trecherous ice but the higher we got the more grip there was. the resistance of the thick snow got more and more though so by the time we stood looking at the view over the tweed valley i was both shattered and boiling hot.
we carried on higher up the final climb to Spooky wood. what an experience in the snow! the brakes weren't needed, just go slightly off line and slow down instantly! i came down the backside of a table top with the front wheel perpendicular to the trail, front wheel locked and survived with a huge grin on my face.
although there was plenty of snow the trails under the trees went fron 4" deep to ice to no snow back to 4" deep again in the space of a few yards so i had to keep my wits about me to stay upright. i was so glad about the 130mm of suspension front and rear as the ground was hard and i'd have been even more tired on a hardtail.
it was an exhilarating experience  and i'm so glad i took the opportunity to go and ride there. 
ride 90
15 miles
total 1893

Thursday, 14 December 2017

a tale of two snow rides, ride 2, the reality

two days after the amazing snow biking day and we've had significantly more snow overnight. what a difference this has made. the snow is now deep! the consequence of this is to increase the effort needed to power the bike along twofold at least. the trails that had been compacted by other bikes and snow users were great and a real hoot but off piste riding was a real effort, so was the crazy wind. the wind had also caused very deep drifts that stop the bike dead when you ride into them. unfortunately the rider doesn't stop so quickly and they carry on, leaving the bike very inelegantly to hoots of laughter from the other riders.
I'm not complaining though, it was something i'm so glad i experienced even if it was exhausting. there were other effects of the deeper snow too. my rear brake also froze on every climb, the frozen snow making the pads stick open. this took a bit of commitment to then throw myself down the next hill knowing there'd be no braking until friction heat melted the ice enough for the pads to move
we'd had fun on beacon hill two days ago but conditions there had changed dramatically, there were drifts over my knees in places, thank goodness for a frame with lots of standover
another visit to Lizzies just to show our support (ok, have a warm and cake!) was done and for once no one minded riding back up the step hill as it was a great way to warm back up after sitting stil for a while in a warm room and coming back out into -4 degree conditions
I'm glad to experience this weather but i'd prefer the much ore riding friendly conditions of Friday. but to be honest i'll take the deep stuff again any day! . 
ride 89
13 miles
total 1878

#fatbike #mtb #smokestonebikes #mudjugger #wrenfork

Snow comes to the NWAlps....finally!

so the promised snow came, the first significant snow in the area since i bought my first fat bike 3 years ago. I cannot tell you how excited i was!
Luckily it coincided with my day off from work so i had a proper snow day!. i arranged to meet Russ at 1030 but i was too impatient to get out there and left the house at 0930 to do the 15 minute ride to the meet point. the fat bike just coped so well with the 3 inches or so of snow that was on the ground. the more i pedalled the more confident i got at trusting that there was going to be some grip. sat down position was best to get more traction to the rear wheel. conditions were perfect, virgin uncompacted powdery snow iis very grippy. this also means it takes more effort to propel yourself forward though so the ride was a proper workout. Howard met us after his work day was cancelled and we went to play on Beacon hilll, the traditional place to sledge as there's a big slope down to the golf course. slaloming a fat bike over the lumps and pumps of the golf course was brilliant fun with minimum risk of injury as the snow was so deep and soft here.
we then headed over to Waseley on the way to Lizzies farm, we went this way to avoid potential problems with the icy lane down to the cafe. I'm glad we did though as the ride down the hill was fantastic with the added adrenaline rush of not quite knowing where the potential deeper snow was as it had begun to drift on this side of the hill. we encounter stampeding sheep and i had to remove ice from my beard before going inside, which hurt a lot!
what a day, great fun and there's more snow forecast!
ride 88

17 miles
total 1865

#fatbike #mtb #smokestonebikes #mudjugger #wrenfork

Monday, 4 December 2017

the recovery ride

after two days of riding, quality beer and food.....omg the food....and cheese....what was needed was a quick ride to blow away the cobwebs before returning to the NWAlps. Judy and Roy devised a ride, once again a stunner, lots of sand, quality singletrack and narrow gulleys that finished at a cafe before a gentle ride back to base. the perfect end to a great weekend of fat bikes and friends
ride 87
11 miles
total 1848

People who go the extra mile

There are lots of people in this world to admire. those that do heroic things, make sacrifices for others or in some way are inspirational. we could all name a few of the high profile ones i'm sure but there a lot of unsung heroes who go unnoticed and prefer it that way because they think they are doing nothing special, it's their daily routine, it's how they choose to live their lives.
I'm going to embarrass Judy and Roy now, I'm not going to give their Surnames as publicity is not what they crave. in fact if what they do just gets one more person to ride a bicycle i'm sure they would think all their hard work was worth it.

Judy and Roy organise the annual Frensham Foray fat bike ride on global fat bike day and this is the third year they have done it. they don't do it for money, there is no entry fee, all you need to bring to ride is a fat bike and a smile. they go out of their way to plan the route, organise free food (i say free but they are actually paying for it, sorry embarrassing them again) and a trip to a brewery mid ride. it's all so slickly run and they make it look easy. it isn't easy though, there is a lot of stress involved, as there's no fee there's no guarantee anyone will turn up and the food will be wasted, will people like the route? will the weather play ball? it is December in the UK after all. they could just as easily just go for a ride themselves without all this hassle but they don't because they are good people. they are generous with their precious time and always have a smile. they are such positive people it's hard not to be the same in their company, it's infectious.

I've known Judy and Roy for at least 5 years and i can honestly say I'm a better person now than i was before just from their enthusiasm, kindness, generosity, and positivity rubbing off on me. I'm not perfect, i need a Judy hug now and then to top up my glass half full demeanor and a telling look from Roy over his spectacles when i say something daft, usually involving beer.

they are human though and they were visibly relieved after the ride when everything had turned out perfect, the smiles were there all the time, they just got a tiny bit wider back in the carpark at the end.

now i've gone and done it, they will probably be deeply embarrassed but anyone who has ever met them knows these facts anyway, it's not breaking news. If only a few more people were like these two the world would definitely be a better place and there'd be many more people riding fat bikes!

oh and the ride? best route so far, certainly the warmest weather and the brewery now has a tap room with heating!! I'm sorry to the young lady i spilt my beer over though, she was nice enough to say it didn't matter but i'm sure smelling of beer on the way home wasn't how she envisioned the day!

so sorry Roy and Judy, but also not sorry, thanks so much for organising this and for just being you. 
ride 86
24 miles
total 1837