Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Camcorder Fun

An increasingly popular trend, what with all these blogs kicking about over t'internet, is to put your own video footage up on the 'web. Skills and spills adorn video.google.com. So how do you go about capturing your exploits for web sharing?

I'm going to make it easy and exclude certain methods because, frankly, they're either too expensive or too crap. In the former bracket are things like the solid-state recorders you'll find popular with the motoring fraternity, as sold by the likes of DriveData - it's very swizz, yes, but extortionately costly. At the other end of the scale would be attempts to strap mobile phones to your forehead, or else use something like the Tony Hawks Helmet Cam which, while cracking value for money for the kids, doesn't offer brilliant picture quality or, more importantly, frame rate.

So what makes a good bit of video? Well, for it to appear smooth to the eye you want at least 25 fps (frames per second) and you want a quality to the picture that makes it watchable. In computer terms, that means a good balance of resolution versus compression. High resolution and low compression makes for great footage but it's size is often not suited to distribution over the internet - ~20MB a minute if you take raw, DVD-quality MPEG2 footage like you would find on a DVD or digital television.

Anyway, we'll come back to the ins and outs of converting the footage to computerised format. How do we get the video captured in the first place? Well, some people suggest bolting a camcorder onto your helmet but personally I find this a rather daft proposition; the camera is a delicate item liable to get smashed to pieces on your first off, plus you've got lense and tape head jitter plus the problems of making the camera rain-proof.

First off, get yourself a digital (MiniDV) camcorder with Firewire/USB2.0/DV output and AV Input. Canon do great value products; the MV range has varying models from the 730i upwards (or the older MV600i is perfect). Digital is there so you can get the footage off onto a PC easily, and it's also a suggestion because the cameras suffer from little head shake (ie. they shake around but the heads that record the signal onto the tape don't jitter about too much resulting in loss of picture quality). Firewire/USB2.0/DV is there to offer connectivity to your PC. If your PC doesn't have either a USB or Firewire interface, they can be purchased separately as add-in cards relatively cheaply (<£20). Finally, and most essentially, AV Input allows you to connect an external camera lense to your camcorder. Next, then, is to sort out your external lense - head over to RF Concepts and grab yourself one of their waterproof, colour, PAL bullet cams (the 21CW does the job). Then take a look on this page, and grab yourself the microphone kit (£12.50), battery pack (£5) and if you don't have any at home already choose some suitable batteries and chargers. Personally, I think you'll find alternative cheaper sources of AA batteries. Essentially, your remote camera lense needs 12v of power, so you'll need 8 suitable batteries to power it.

You might want to treat yourself to a LANc remote control if your camcorder has a LANc port on it; this means you can tuck the camcorder away in your packpack, plug the remote control into it, and feed this outside of your backpack so you can stop and start recording with ease.

Don't bother with any fancy helmet mounting systems - a trip to your local motor factors for some gaffer tape will sort the lense mounting system out cheaply!

So, running bill so far (worst case; if you had to get everything but assuming you've got a PC!) :-

  • Camcorder (Canon MV700i; £250 from Amazon)
  • 21CW Bullet cam (colour, PAL, waterproof; £103.40)
  • Microphone kit (£15)
  • Battery pack (£6)
  • LanC remote control (£41)
  • 8x NiMH batteries & charger (£32)
  • Gaffer tape (~£2)

So that's £450 and you're sorted! Now granted, that's a lot to spend purely to record your mountain bike exploits but realistically you might have another justification for buying the camcorder... "Darling, I was thinking of getting a camcorder to record the little sweethearts on holiday" etc etc. You could also live without the remote control and possibly even the microphone if you didn't want sound.

All you then need is a PC to download it all onto, chop and change it (there's plenty of free internet software to do this, as well as Microsoft's Movie Editor on Windows XP) and convert it to a web-friendly format. This will most likely involve reducing the resolution to something a little smaller (320x240 pixels minimum) and converting it to a suitable compression format. I would recommend any of the free MPEG4 codec out there - DivX, XViD or the latest H.264 HD codecs. Once you've converted it and reduced the size to something sensible, upload it onto your favourite website and start bragging!

You can see some examples from the first test run of Knobblie's Helmet Cam below; for comparison I've included what codecs were used for each one so you can see the difference. All were edited and re-encoded with Pinnacle Studio 9 rather than anything fancy, so they're good examples of what a non-professional home user can achieve...

Windows Media, Low quality, 180x144 res - 409Kb
Windows Media, Medium Quality, 360x288 res - 6.5MB
MPEG4 (DivX), Half Size (360x288), 85% quality, MP3 audio - 18.3MB
MPEG2 (DVD), Full Size (768x576) - original 100% quality - 21.8MB

For some example footage of my setup (rally car, though, not mountain biking - yet) check out some of the event dates here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Woburn Blat Anyone ?

I've recently received a few casual requests for another ride around Woburn / Aspley Heath, this time without the "dull commute" from CMK :huh With the intention of a fresh leg'd attack on the sweetest sections and some "hucking" in the jump arena.

My ever increasing knowledge of the area is now such that I'm confident of providing the posse with a variety of entertaining trails that'll easily last a couple of hours. My guinea pigs (Dozer and Rob) seemed to have a good time on their last visit (link shows a sample route/time/profile).

As it's a relatively compact venue, it'll be very easy to extend or shorten the ride and accomodate everyone's wishes or tired legs ;) Also, if any DH'ers wants to continue practicing their hucking rather than cranking, then the XC crowd will be looping back for some more fun :p

Trailhead: Just south of Woburn Sands on the A5130 beside the jump arena.

When? Sunday, 16th June for a 10.30am start [previously - Either Sunday July 9th? or sometime over the wkend 15/16th? - for a morning, afternoon or both! Stamp your knobblies on a preference.]

PS: If there's sufficient interest, then we might also consider;
  • finishing at a pub, for lunch
  • finishing at a pub, for dinner
  • splitting the ride, with a pub lunch and post drink wobble
  • alternatives ? - I'm looking forward to your suggestions...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Norton Loop

Last night, the Northants posse and I met at the White Horse in Norton and had great,. scenic hack around the Northants countryside. This is DDave and Uphilla's local stomping ground and they'd graciously offered to show me around. Plus I was keen to see what they usually ride - that's not perverse is it ?!

Ok, there's not much in the way of singletrack but the bridleways flow through some glorious contryside and the rolling hills usually give you a great view. Which is a complete contrast to the limited sights I get in my local woods. The area has very similar terrain to the Westoning posse's with a mix of bridleways slicing through farmland. Most of the villages look like they've been lifted from chocolate boxes with some fab houses which made this "towny" wonder about a life with less concrete...

It's official, Uphilla is a nasty man ! Why? After a few miles crankin' he whizzed us straight past a great lookin' chippy (in Long Buckby) which smelt absolutely magnificent. But did he stop, oh no - the cruel man :p

Crossing over the A5, M1 and railway "corridor" we found it hellish noisy and I felt quite relieved to be out on a bike rather than those poor stressed out commuters, cramed into tin cans, travelling gawd-knows how many miles. Only to it all again the next day !

All in all, this was a very pleasant way to spend an evening in some good company. Topped off with a pint in the local pub - where they ignore spandex clad strangers...

You'll fine some more pic's here and even a Tracklog of the route here.

Posse: DDave, Farqui, Uphilla
Mechanicals: DDave had a loose chainring bolt and a noisy chain guide.
Weather: Windy, cloudy, cool yet pleasant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Coed-y-Brenin Revamp

Checkout the Bikemagic report that outlines the significant changes that are now complete at one of the original Forestry Commission Welsh trail center's.

The revisions look set to update what had become a tired resource. Earlier this year, I noticed that the MBR route had changed ever so slightly, definitely for the better.

I particularly like the the mighty cool new trailhead "sculpture" (picture from BM website).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

London to Brighton (sans knobblies)

Posse:
Rob - Canondale F1000 (with new Avid disc on front and baldy tyres)
Les - Specialized Hardrock (slicks)
Mark - Specialized Hardrock (slicks)
Dave (Dozer) - Raleigh Pioneer (hybrid?), lump of junk according to some, but it rooooooles a lot better than the Enduro on the road!!!!!

The Ride
I checked the weather forecast in the morning, it was promising to be a hot one (up to 28C) with no rain, which meant the clothing selection was easy (i.e. didn't bother with the water proofs or extra top like 2 years ago!) but decided to take extra water! It was another early start, leaving the house at 5.30 to cycle to Flitwick (2 miles), which is due East into the low sun. 'Sun glasses!' quick U turn to get them out of the car.
There were already a few cyclists on the train. The rest of the team (Rob, Les & Mark) got on the train at Leagrave (2 stops down). Unfortunately this early train stops at every station into London so takes a while to get there. There was the usual stacking of bikes everywhere and anywhere, it gets quite comical. This year we got off the train at the correct station (Blackfriars) and a gentle 5 mile cycle to the start at Clapham common. Well for Mark and myself at least, the other 2 set off at a quick pace and soon left us, which meant guessing at a few roundabouts and following cars with the bikes on the back, to be fair to Rob he did turn round and come looking for us.
We got to the start at about 7:30 (start time 8) and got in one of the queues. On the ride to the start I noticed my saddle had slipped down a few inches (much harder to pedal, I had adjusted it 2 days earlier), so a quick trip to the Halfords tent to get a wrench and adjust the saddle (not a sophisticated bike with quick release or anything!). With getting there early we were towards to the front of our queue and managed to start more or less on time 8.05 ish.
The first 10 miles through London were very busy and slow. Things thinned out a little after this, but still big delays at the marshalled road junctions and lights. It was a mixture of sun and overcast conditions, everyone on the ride was in good humour, even with the mixed abilities which means 56 miles of weaving in and out of each other. Unfortunately there seemed to be a lot more accidents this year with the ambulances and paramedics keeping busy, mainly on the downhill sections. There must have been a bad one somewhere between the 10 - 15 miles mark as the whole ride came to a halt for 20?? mins. We were all off the bikes just waiting. It went on that long, that the ones at the front started off a few Mexican waves! I do hope no one was seriously hurt, quite a few of the people on the road were not wearing helmets!!!
We stopped for lunch/a rest after about 33 miles at our usual spot, which was needed as I was starting to feel tired and in need of a walk and sugar intake (cereal bars). It's too hard to cycle together in all the traffic so this allowed us all to meet up, Rob (10:30) was miles ahead as usual, Les (10:40) in front of me somewhere and poor old Mark had dropped off the pace, having problems with his knee and had to stop and change to normal pedals. The sun came out for a short period, while we were sat there which was nice. After a nice break we hit the road again at about 11:45.
The rest of the ride was very much the same, although the crowd thinned out and I could get into my own rhythm and enjoyed the 2nd half much more than the first. There is a big hill (600 foot climb) to go up, about 8 miles outside of Brighton and the mood noticeably changed leading up to this, everyone went quiet and slowed down! To make matters worse the sun had just come out again and it was warming up. It was a long slog up the hill but I felt OK, apart from the over heating and the heavy breathing. I actually over took a few people on bikes, along with the hundreds walking up, not that I was going that much faster!
It was a nice gentle ride down hill towards Brighton, Les and myself were still more or less together at this point and had a 5 min break. Most people stop at the top, it's much better to ride down for 5 mins and let the wind cool you down!!!
There is a steep downhill section on the outskirts of Brighton, but with one lane coned off and a few cyclist on the road I only managed to get up to 47 mph this year, 51.1 last time! (Rob managed 49.7mph). Brighton was the usual battle through all the traffic, but it was nice finishing along side one of our own riders, even if this did mean playing chicken with on coming vehicles to keep up with Les!

Stats
Elapsed time approx 5:20, actual cycling time 3:55, just over 56 miles. Elapsed time slightly slower but cycling slightly quicker than last time (traffic jams!). Dehydration was a slight concern, I got through 4 litres of water while cycling and another 1/2 litre just afterwards and still couldn't manage a decent pee! I felt a headache coming on, on the train home, so drank another 1.5 litres on the train which seemed to do the trick, I dare say there were a few other riders a lot worse looking at the amount of water they were carrying.
I hope to raise just over £270 (will be over £300 with the gift aid added in) for the British Heart foundation.

The Return Home
Les' s family had gone down the night before and stayed over night so they could take the bikes back on the car (you can not take them back on the train, as a few shocked people found out!! :-), so the Hayne's were all waiting at the finish line, cheering.
After some health food from the peer (something with salt n vinegar on!), we went back to the multi-storey car park with Les, Jan (Mrs Les) and kids to get the Nova (not the biggest car I know). We had another nice break sitting around in the sun, while waiting for the parking attendant to fix the pay machine that had eaten the parking ticket (no salt n vinegar!). After a little bit of faffing around to get all 4 bikes on the roof (width is important, not just length!). We waved goodbye to the Haynes and our bikes, knowing we would beat them home on the train, as the traffic getting out of Brighton is terrible, for some reason? :-) The station was only a 10 min walk away and we had chance to buy some drinks (no alcohol, it's not a Friday!) at the station before getting on the train. The train was packed and not with cyclists, unless they had all changed and showered. We ended up sitting on the floor, just outside the 1st class section (that only had 2 people in it!), don't think they would have been happy with 3 smelly blokes gate crashing! The good news is that every time the train pulled in to the stations, someone would open the door for us and let fresh air in, they would then mumble something (sorry I can't understand what you Southerners are saying!) and walk to another doorway that was not blocked! We had a few slow sections due to track work going on (I did see people working!!), but the train ride home was quite pleasant. Although to our horror, Les had beaten us!!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

SRAM 2007

NSMB.e.Magazinehave now written up two reports on the 2007 lineup from SRAM that make interesting reading.

Report1; Rockshox reveal their long travel, single crown forks, plus subtle tweaks to their existing, bullet proof lineup.

Report2; Avid introduce a new 4-pot brake, with tweaks to their Juicy range. Truvativ hollow formed cranks. SRAM shifters and mech's with x9's now lookin' very tasty indeed with a great deal of x0 "trickle down" without the x0 price tag :)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

DDave Game !

You've gotta checkout DangerousDave's new game !

I had no idea that our DH guru had other outlets beyond spanner monkey :P

Update; Rob's our current "champion", with proof right here ->

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Midsummer Mudless? Midweek Ride

I can't believe that it is nearly the longest day, but as the evenings are now so long it seems a good time for an evening ride. Especially with all the dry weather, though I think I might be tempting fate.

Location: Long Buckby.
Distance: Around 16 miles. The trails around here are a well kept secret that I am prepared to share with you as long as you do not tell anyone else ;-)

Start Time: 7.30 pm (approx 45 Mins from Westoning/MK on a good day).
Date: can do Wed or Thurs next wk (21st or 22nd June)

Meant to be a 'social ride' rather than a serious challenge, but it will be a combination of Bridleways, By-ways, Canal paths and minor roads. May be some nettles in places by now :-(

Let me know if you are interested and I will post some directions.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A play in Woburn

Last night we had a thoroughly enjoyable blat around Aspley Heath with plenty of new bits for the boys to try, along with a few sections that I'd not ridden in a couple of years of more. Our plan was to start and finish alongside the jump area and cut out the ride from my pad, allowing us more time to play and explore :D

The trails are now getting quite overgrown but a few unexpected "diversions" were pleasant enough. Most of the standing water has drained away now although there are still a few patches of gloop to entertain. Which brings me neatly onto an early bath in a deceptively deep pool that nearly caught me out but did manage to drag Rob off his steed and into it's murky depths. No injury's were sustained and it was reminiscent of Uphilla's tumble at Cannock last year which also occurred within the first mile or so.

We looped around a to the jump area a couple of times and found a few new routes from top to bottom. I'm sure that the DH boys had a good chuckle at us XC guys tippy-toeing around in there but we all enjoyed it. There were a few lads there to entertain us with their big air and somehow making it all look so easy :X

Heading over to the hardly ridden south west corner, behind the golf course where Rob gallantly cleared the chest high nettles in his full length leggings with his Flux come threshing machine. Around the corner, we found some big (fairly) downs and ups along with more gloop, where Farq's clumsily misjudged a line and slithered to a premature halt. It was on the return leg that Dozer misjudged a trough, steep rise, steeper drop and final trough and all Rob and I clocked was his handle bars slamming into his chest and kinda breaking his fall. Again no nasty injuries were acquired but I did find it funny that he'd just seen me struggle to clear it, yet still got caught out. But that's why we ride off road right ? - for the challenge.

It wasn't a mega mileage ride but the ol'legs were still tested, especially having cranked out my normal commute.

A good evening with good weather, good company, good trails - what more could you ask for ? "When's the next one ?"

A Tracklogs version of the route can be downloaded here.

Posse: Dozer, Rob, Farq's
Mechanicals: Rob suffered a dragging rear brake (not that it slowed him down much), his fork settings were skewed along with wearing far too many clothes on such a sticky night. Farq's has a mysterious creak which prob'ly means a strip and regrease of the cranks.
Weather: Dry, warm, still and very clear evening - perfect.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

LUDLOW ROUTES

Computer/Internet problems have delayed a report on the 14th May ride, but just having returned from a weekend in Ludlow I am going to have another try!

14th May 2006 - Well I asked for it!

I just love Shropshire and have had the chance to ride and walk in the area around Ludlow several times in the past, but realised that some local knowledge would be needed to get the best out of it. So, my request for help on STW forum was answered by local, Ben, who was very keen to show people around.

We met up on Sunday 14th, Ben, (the raceface), Nigel, (slownige), Carla, Ddave and myself. Weather forecast was for thunder storms, but we remained optimistic and were rewarded by a warm, dry day, though the trails were quite slippery in places from earlier rain. It was a busy day in the forest with a Horse riding event and an uplift day for the Downhill track in Bringewood.

It was clear from the start that Ddave an myself were at a big disadvantage on the fitness front, our companions had done xc racing, enduros etc. in this area and went up the hills like mountain goats, but they were very kind to us and waited for us to catch our breath from time to time.

Natural trails are far less predictable than man-made, and in places some bits were beyond my skills, also hard to find and littered with debris from the winter. There was also quite a bit of fire road climbing – one took around 20 minutes, but the views were superb despite less than perfect visibility. Some big hills here! Well big enough for me!

We skirted around the Mortimer Forest only covering a small selection of the trails on offer there and then headed over the road to Bringewood where the downhill courses are, there is also an old xc trail there, but all had been changed by forestry work and the going was quite tricky in places. We dipped into one downhill track for a short section and had to pick the way very carefully, some big roots and deep ruts/bomb holes.

It was a good ride and good to have such an enthusiastic guide, Ben is keen to do another ride and perhaps cover some other trails, so watch out on STW Forum if you are interested.

Mechanical/Offs: I had a couple of ‘moments’, felt like an amateur at times. Ddave had added another chain wheel to cope with the hills and had some problems with the gears as a result, resulting in a very painful contact with the bars at one point.

This area is clearly well used by mountain bikers and cries out for some proper trail development. Ben suggests that the local Pearce Cycles are talking to the Forestry Commision about this, (Pearce were involved with trails at Hopton Wood and have developed the local downhill courses).

Photo's here and here, with the listed route in Tracklogs format here and a family friendly route here.

Over the last weekend I had a little time to explore some flatter terrain that Ben had pointed out. Ludlow makes a great destination for an all family holiday with cycling of all sorts. The hills are quite severe, but I remember picking up some routes from the local Wheely Wonderful Cycling that avoided most hils and took insome fabulous contryside. This time I worked out my own route out of the town which could take in part of the Bringwood area or return by road, all would be suitable for most abilities. The ride was helped by good weather, but the countryside was so peaceful, it was a real tonic.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

UCI MTB World Cup at Ft William and ride report.

Dangerous Dave goes to see the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup – and rides FT Bill too.

Ok, so Friday afternoon, we set off North from Leicester at 1:00pm, and after hitting every traffic jam between there and Glasgow, and hitting an average speed of 20mph, with the odd Clio 2.0L Sport fuelled 140mph, we roll up to our caravan site at near 11, to find the rest of the raveracing troop has buggered off to the pub… so we quickly lob all of our kit in the Caravans, and head out to vibrant night life that is Ft William during WC season….

We wake up Saturday morning to the splitting headache of drinking far too much Stella and mixing it with unknown amounts of Vodka and various alcohol…. Looking outside we are greeted by grey, grey, and well, a dash of green: it’s pissing it down. Nice.

Bundling into the back of Beef’s van, we head up to the Nevis range to find all the top Dh guns well into the days practise runs. Your initial reaction to the size of the course is just how big it is. You can just about make the top where the Gondola station drops you off, and the tiny dots of the pros blating down at warp factor 10!

We walked half way up to this rock garden section, and watched dumbstruck for ages as the big guys like Rennie and Peaty just straight lined the whole thing…

Eventually we decided we’d get a Gondola up to the top, where there is a real nice cafĂ© and oh yea, a bar!!! A few pints later (we decided the best antidote to a hang over was to mask it with yet more alcohol;) ) we moved off to check out the gruelling top section of the course.

To say that the DVD’s do it no justice is an understatement, it’s simply huge, it really boggles the mind that you are standing at the top of the course, and that way down there were you can just about make out the finish line arena is where it finishes…. Epic Dh stuff…

DH practice finished so we wandered off to check out some trials action, and some WC Clas s XC mens racing… Now I’m not sure whether you normally cheer the riders or not, but we were the only ones! Rave Racing, as usual, was THE loudest bunch of the entire day. (And I’m afraid we did boo the riders who walked the DH section! They obviously forgot to bring the mountain bike and were riding the road bike instead, or summat…)

After gulping down our excellent Morrisons Roast Chicken, it was time to hit the streets again… and boy did we feel it Sunday morning!

You could just feel the buzz of the atmosphere as you rolled into the Venue, all hopes were raised high for another brit win after Peaty’s fantastic victory last year….

Nathan Rennie was looking on top form, powering his way and punishing the rocks into submission, claiming the hotseat for what seemed like forever, until Cedric Came hurtling down the hill, putting in the fastest split time of the day at the bottom section… It seemed like the crown was yet again going to the flamboyant Frenchman (you could tell if someone was going to beat the time or not by the time on the clock when they hit the tissot jump) until Sam Hill came flying over it a second before Cedric.. The crow went absolutely crazy, he may not be British, but everyone loves his mad cornering skills and he is just one of those people that looks cool on a bike…. He doesn’t disappoint and takes the win with a second to spare….

Sunday night was spent rubbing shoulders with all the pros, and you know what? They are all just normal, easy going guys. Just they have a hell of a lot of talent and get payed for what they enjoy!

RIDING THE MONSTER
We turn up Monday morning to a light drizzle and the place looking like ghost town… you’d never have thought that there was several thousand people around yesterday and any company that was worth it’s space there.

Having the Gondola is a true god send, no damaged bike, no handlebar jabbing your butt as per normal uplifts, only the thought running through your mind: “shit, did I do my seat collar up tight enough”

The start is a start ramp: this course means business, no dodgey grass patch or fireroad crossing seen at most DH courses. “Holy crap I’m riding the World Cup course!”

All weekend the Rave Racers were trying to explain just how much pain your arms get from arm pump. Remember Coedy? Get any arm pump there? THAT WASN’T ARM PUMP.
You start off on a fairly smooth bit, though it has a lot of loose rocks about, you think to yourself, yeah, my 8” forks are working very well, and the 2.5” tyres are doing a good job of sorting everything else out. Then it all starts. First you realise just how big the rocks are, just how big the ruts are, as you ride into ruts that swallow half your wheel. Then you start noticing that your wheel is being bounced in all directions, mostly opposite ones to the course, then it hits you “OW, OW, EH, AH, OH, AUGH!”

You’re braking to stop it from getting out of control, but braking hurts your arms more. So you let go of the brakes for one second and you accelerate soo quickly you haul the anchors back on again….. We stopped halfway down, and no joke, I peeled my hands off the bars, and the fingers wouldn’t move! Not good.

By my 3rd run however, I was used to the course, and was actually pedalling over stuff, and just letting go of the brakes, jumping everything in sight, loving every minute of it, some aggressive rock music helped a hell of a lot, just made me attack everything. Was great. I did have to stop cos I thought I was going so f ast and mad at everything it was only a time before the adrenaline got to my head and hooned it off the edge of Ft William to Australia or some place… once the party at the top starts, it gets a bit mushy, unfortunaltly the middle section used for the WC has been tapped off and you have to ride down the old switchbacks… which was the walk up track yesterday. I’ll say no more.

After a bit of drifting and sliding in the gloopy shit, you blast across a fire road and drop into a wooded section with some more craters to gobble your front wheel…then some lovely rooty rocky turns and into another rock garden that was almost impossible to get through cleanly.

After catching your breath the fun starts… time for the “Motorway section”.

Basically a whole 2minutes of solid jumping and flat out pedalling to the finish. Yup the Tissot/Redbull jump really is that big! And the bank you come down after is steep as hell, almost vertical, proper tyres buzzing cos they are not quite in contact with the ground moment!

Sum up:
Sam Hill really is the fastest man on a bike around a corner.
Fort William is knarly as f—k
I want to go back – now!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Woburn Rhodies

I finally managed to get over to Woburn again last night, it's been ages since I'd ventured that way what with my sore back, the rain and family illness. Although it was a tad chilly the sun was out (for the most part) and it felt great to be back on dirt.

As I was alone :( I decided to have an explore and found a couple of new tracks amongst the trees. One of which diverts gently upwards around the steep "lights out" and Danesborough loop. Excellent and there's plenty more new bits for me to map out too ;)

Just before I left the woodland, I thought I'd check to see if the rhododendron's on the north east-ish side were in bloom and was greeted with a fabulous display of colour.

So we've just had the wettest May for 20 years, with almost double the typical rainfall nationwide and we've still got water restrictions in place. At least the plants are doing well...

PS: the Racing Ralph's are defo more sketchy in the odd patch of sandy Woburn gloop, but still manage to provide a surprising amount of traction given their relative lack of tread. They certainly livened up the ride, especially on tired legs :p

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