Tuesday, 20 January 2015

it's not all bad, but it was close

when I woke up today the temperature was just nudging -1 degrees centigrade, Not normally a problem for riding but when I went to bed last night it was pouring with rain, wet untreated roads and freezing temperatures are not a good mix when it comes to cycling.
  I started with the alternative From the Door route, still muddy and a couple of guys went down it sideways but at least we avoided the rickety bridge which could collapse at any moment and I didn’t think 7 riders passing over it would help. Then up the rooty climb (I cleaned it!), up the long shortcut and onto the start of “missing lens” the downhill trail we discovered last week. It was a challenge for some of the guys, but it would have been remiss of me not to show it to Ben and the Puppy who flew down it with their usual mix of panache, skill and seat of the pants riding. We regrouped on the other side of the stream crossing and Ant and Jonnie made for the visitor centre while the rest of us checked out the trail with the big drops. Here we got chatting to the guy in the picture, his trail dog was loving it, what a great way to exercise your pet!
After some picture taking we rendezvoused with Ant and Jonnie at the top of the hill and it ws at this point disaster struck for Ant, he’d negotiated all the technical routes both up and downhill but it only takes a lowering of concentration and a patch of ice on innocuous looking tarmac to ruin your day and maybe the next few weeks. Ant went straight over on his shoulder, all I heard was the scrape of bike on tarmac and normally it’s a case of the rider getting up, checking their bike and brushing themselves down whilst the rest of us laugh and take the piss. This time though it was more serious and Ant looked in a lot of pain. Thankfully he still seemed to have full movement in his shoulder and after Dan moved him out of the road onto the verge and the shock of falling wore off he got back on the bike. At the top of the next climb it was clear Ant was struggling and having trouble pulling on the bars. He made the correct decision to stop and head back to his car and home. Thankfully Jonnie was with him to drive. Unable to do anything else and a little concerned as Ant disappeared without letting us know (don’t do that again please Ant, we were concerned something even worse might have occurred for a while!) this I suppose is the trouble with large groups where the leader isn’t totally sure what’s going on at the back. The rest of us carried on and rode the remarkably dry Kids trail, then Bono and the Esses before a well earned cuppa and cake at the visitor centre. It was here the second disaster struck.
Thankfully not life threatening a puncture is still a pain in the back side, especially on a fat bike This time it was Dan’s turn. We took out the ruptured tube, found two separate thorns in the tyre and removed them and then popped in a fresh tube. However this new tube went down even faster than the original!. I offered my tube but we were close to the railway where Dan could get a ride home so he insisted that was what he’d do. Not a great end to the ride.
The final leg for me was with new guy Ian who seems very enthusiastic and I reckon we’ll see him out again despite the incidents we encountered.
It was very icy in the back lanes where the weak sun hadn’t reached and we tiptoed around, I even got rear wheel spin on a slight uphill incline and that was with my backside firmly on the saddle.
So cheers to Dan, The Puppy, Ben, Ian, Ant and Jonnie for coming out. The biggest turn out for a while. I fear we may have put some people off though, it’s not always this hazardous!
ride 7
14 miles
total 94 miles
commute 40 miles

Monday, 19 January 2015

Recce ride

just popped out to test a few routes for tomorrow's group ride, I'd forgotten how early it gets dark and with the sun low in the sky it make the trails more tricky to judge and i hit quite a few stumps and logs, my foot slipped off the pedal at one point  and cracked into my shin, very painful!  but i ithink I have a nice start to the ride planned.
ride 6
8 miles
total 80 miles
commute 40 miles

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Gain and loss

frosty misty start today but things soon warmed up to the point where we thought we were over dressed. despite the picture most of the trails were quite dry, largely due to the high winds we've had in the last few days. An mechanical meant we stopped for tea very early but also meant we avoided cake. once filled with tea and bike sorted we went for a bit of an explore. There used to be a trail at the back of the rednal social club, alas it seems to have fallen into disuse, but we (ok I) am a bit pig headed and convinced there was a trail somewhere i dragged Dan of a walk and stumble through the bilberry bushes. after a couple of false trails and slips on wet roots we literally burst through an ivy bush onto a very interesting bermed trail. so, we followed it upwards and it kept going and going, ever upwards over some quite technical terrain. eventually we got to the top, made a mental note of where it started and headed back down. it was classic NWAlps singletrack, very steep in places, a few drops, very twisty, rooty and finishing with a stream crossing. It was here at the other side of the stream that Dan realised his clear lens sunglasses were missing. He'd wedged then in his helmet when climbing the trail to avoid steaming them up. the only thing to do was walk slowly back upthe trail in the hope we'd spot them.Sadly we came up empty.
Dan had to head back soon after so i decided to go a bit further and dropped down to the Navigation end of the canal and ride back up. This did give me a KOM on strave, more to do with the fact they have reset the totals this year and nobody has ridden the route yet that my athletic prowess, especially as i stopped to chat to an old guy fishing!
so we gined a new trail with lots of potential but lost the only thing stopping Dan from getting his eyes full ofspray and mud
ride 5
22 miles
total 72 miles
commute 18 miles

last minute ride

Having spent he afternoon waiting for a mate to turn up to fix his bike for him i shot out seconds after he left and just had time to get a bit of daylight riding in before the darkness arrived. the second half of the ride needed lights and the temperature dropped considerably. with a very small riding window I kept to the road and tried to keep the hammer down the whole ride to maximise the effort used.
ride 4
12 miles
total 50 miles
commute 18 miles

Racing the elements

after work quicky in very windy conditions with even worse forecast in the next few days, but weirdly very warm for January, vurrently getting to grips with the new camera, bit nervous to be doing this for fear of dropping the cam, must fit the wrist strap!
ride 3
12 miles
total 38 miles
commute 18 miles

Sunday, 4 January 2015


Bitterly cold day today, It rained all morning yesterday and then the temperatures dropped over night so the roads were lethal, the trails were the safest place as the ground was frozen in places and muddy in others. Todays right was going to be dictated by how many times we fell off or how soon my feet got so cold it became painful.
As we reached the summit of the beacon it was all blue skies and sunshine and down in the valley the city was shrouded in fog, almost making it beautiful. a trip down Bono and The Bus stop took us back into the freezing fog and the hot tea at Waseley was very welcome. It must have been cold as the return route we chose had a lot of climbing and kept us warm. Back in the woods and it was a long very slippery descent back to the village, even the fat bikes were sliding all over the place in the thick mud. I got home and set about cleaning the bike but found that the mud on the frame and parts was actually frozen on and took quite some shifting. My feet by the way couldn't have taken any more and i had to wait about 30 minutes in the warm to defrost before i could face standing in the shower.
ride 2
13 miles
total 26 miles

Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015 ride one

 so another year of riding starts, last year was great despite niggling injuries. This year I'll be moving places of work so commuting from March onwards will be difficult so I'm determined to ride more outside of work to make up for it.
Todays ride was warm, windy and muddy and the trails were busy with people making the most of the public holiday. Happily though all the trail users we met were in good spirits. We had a few people asking about the fat tyres on the bikes, some just pointing and laughing, another lady asked me how they felt to ride on, these fat bikes do draw a crowd but in a positive way.
Dan was feeling under the weather from a cold and a late night of partying, Ant had escaped from the excess of the holidays to come and play in the mud. as a reward we made plans to make his bike half fat in the future!
ride 1
13 miles
total 13 miles

last ride of the year

And so it comes to the last ride of 2014, nearly 300 more miles than last year and beaten the mileage of my best ever year (3313 in 2013) and in 33 rides less than 2013 too. so all in all it's been a good year, the great summer we had helped a lot in this. My riding to work total is lower though making the overall total for this year 4310 miles, 178 short of last years combined total. so i've done more fun riding than boring commuting which can only be a good thing.
here's hoping for the same or better next year
Ride 175
12 miles
Total 3372
commute 938


We rushed back from family responsibilities in London because of the forecast of snow, unfortunately there wasn't much but  that wasn't going to stop me dipping the fat bikes tires in the soft 1/4 of an inch that was left. It was cold as you'd expect but the snow was really wet,sloppy  and patchy so i couldn't really tell if the wide tyres were making any difference. Off the top of the hill there was no snow just the usual mud which the tyres are good at. So, still waiting for more snow to play in
Ride 174
9 miles
Total 3360
commute 938

christmas day ride

as per tradition (can three years on the trot be called a tradition) @charlottetcr and I were out on the bikes by 10am on christmas morning visiting relatives and delivering presents. It was not the warmest year by a long way! but it was dry and we made it back in time for a cheese sandwich lunch. we are soooo rock and roll
Ride 173
13 miles
Total 3364
commute 938