Sunday, 19 April 2015

Pocket Brown Pow


                                               “Time to shred some brown pow bro!”

Today has confirmed that the current time of year, the current weather and current trail conditions are the best of at any time in the NWAlps calendar. Perfection doesn't come often here, there are months of wet and muddy conditions, which, if you read this blog, you'll probably be sick of hearing me moan about, but all that slogging through rain, snow, wind and near unrideable conditions becomes worth it for riding like today.
Riding on a carpet of dry crackling needles, you turn into the bend and the tyre cuts through to the loamy under surface kicking up a deep brown coffee grind like soil that has been mulching since last summer. The grip is phenomenal and only aggressive braking can lock up the rear wheel to slide around and straighten the corner for a speedier exit. roots are now an opportunity for air time rather than slide out time and late braking is the order of the day getting later and later to the point it gets scary, yet still you make it, that feeling of being on the limit one to savour.
There was no point trekking all over the NWAlps today, we had a pocket of perfect and made good use of it, fast downhills, long climbs, a trip over the bars, water splashes all in a compact arena of fun
ride 46
20 miles
total 761
commute 233

Thursday, 16 April 2015

perfect evening

 I could write a gushing eulogy on how perfect this night ride was but I'll just list some words which will say it all;
Dry
Dusty
Loamy
Fast
Warm
Sunset
Mates
Beer
the End (until next time)
ride 45
13 miles
total 741
commute 212

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

trois cols, colline verte et un renard

at 20 degrees and sunny it was too nice an evening to do chores, so the grass remained uncut and i took the road bike out for a spin instead. This was a compact ride, not a great distance but I tried to pack a few climbs in on the way.
It nearly ended half a mile from home though as a cyclist and  her son crossed without looking from the pavement into the road in front of me, luckily for all concerned i was paying attention and was able to stop, If i had been a motor vehicle I think there would have been some serious injuries.
relieved not to have been involved in a RTA i rode up and over the Col d' Lickey, the col de Clent including St Kenelms pass, the Col de télévision before a final ascent up colline verte to finish.
So quite strenuous but good fun, only marred by the near miss and wearing too dark a lens on my sunglasses as with the sun flickering through the hedgerows it was difficult to see the state of the road on the descents, especially when i went from brightly lit to shaded parts. I hit a few unseen potholes that unnerved me slightly and i resorted to not wearing glasses in the end and put up with streaming eyes from the speed just to be able to see hazards ahead.
the final incident came 2 miles from home where, if i had been a split second slower the fox that ran out in front of me whilst i was sprinting up a short incline would have had a nasty impact with my wheel. It seems it was an evening of things throwing themselves in front of me!
ride 44
22 miles
total 728
commute 212

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Pedalling practice

There's a 45 mile through the Forest of Dean in May so today was a "can we do that distance" ride. from home to Worcester and back by a different way, a lot of it off road. We can't simulate the gradients and technicality of the terrain in the FoD but the fact that there's barely any respite from tuning the pedals because there's hardly any downhill bits must be a comparable factor. there'll be a lot more coasting in the forest along with the extra climbing so things should balance out, Actually, who are we kidding? it's going to be hard! and that's if it stays dry, a wet 45 miles on muddy terrain is a kind of hell i really don't want to experience.
oh and a mid ride beer probably isn't performance enhancing.
ride 43
45 miles
total 706
commute 192

Thursday, 9 April 2015

light night rides are back

nothing beats riding in daylight on a lovely summers day but riding from a lovely sunny day into a clear night comes a very close second. It takes a bit more preparation, you'll need to take clothing to cope with the temperature drop when the sun drops below the horizon and of course some lights, it's an idea to use some sort of insect repellent too if you are out in the woods after dark in spring. Also don't forget money for the pub!
looking forward to more light start night rides in the near future!
ride 42
19 miles
total 661
commute 173

Tips for chasing an average speed

-pretend it's the last 20k of the tour of flanders & you're holding off the peleton

-don't get lost

-don't have to use a very muddy lane and cross a ford

-ignore the pain from your legs

-go at least one harder gear up than you think you need

-spin spin spin those legs!

-make split second decisions at junctions

-sprint past other riders

-don't go down a gear before hills, go up a gear and sprint!

-push push push!

i was successful, an average of 15mph, rubbish really but my previous best was below this and the route was quite lumpy (and wet, and muddy)
ride 41
22 miles
total 642

steering woes

Apart from having something to rest your hands on  it was pointless having handle bars on the bike today. They were of little value, the mud was so sticky it even clogged the fat bike's tyres and cornering was like being part of a comedy act. Turn left or right and the bike went straight ahead, lean over and the front wheel slips from under you and only plunging your foot deep into the mud stopped a trip into the sodden undergrowth minus the bike. It was bllody good fun though.
Ant came with us on today's ride, the last one he'd  managed had ended painfully with a shoulder injury on a patch of ice, it was great to see him gradually regain his confidence with every mile that passed
Ride 40
22 miles
total 620
commute 173

bit of a tart

On a cycling forum I was once accused of being into self promotion, I wasn't quite sure what the poster meant, probably an attempt at an insult, especially since this was years before seeking sponsorship for team NWAlps, It takes all sorts i guess.
I will admit though that todays picture was an attempt to win a competition that a cycling website was running. The competition was for pictures of cycling in Spring and this was one of my efforts. give it another 3 weeks and this picture would be a sea of bluebells but the closing date was the weekend so I couldn't wait
In the event, I didn't win and the picture wasn't published online, better luck next time but at least i had a good ride and it was of a decent length for once
ride 39
23 miles
total 598
commute 173

Home is where the heart is


We cut our losses in Wales, with over night winds up to 70mph and the forecast not looking good we came home. The next day, feeling a little deflated I went for a ride on familiar territory to cheer myself up. 
Conditions were awful though, probably worse than I'd seen all winter, the old home turf seemed to have taken a soaking just like the Welsh coast but the fatty coped well and it was warm (and not at all windy!) so my spirits were lifted even if it took longer to clean the bike and myself than the time I'd been riding it
ride 38
8 miles
total 575
commute 173

consolation prize



After the fun we had on natural Welsh trails we were a little pissed off that things hadn't gone to plan so, while the rain hadn't shown up some bright spark suggested we drive to the Marin trail near Betws-y-coed and mess about on the final descents. Obviously we'd need to climb up first to get to them. As we unpacked the van the rain caught up with us and we climbed through worsening weather. My tyres felt much better on this more rocky terrain and the descents were great fun. It was a relief to get back to the van though and all thoughts of another lap were forgotten
ride 37
4 miles
total 567
commute 173