Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dangerous Does Dusk Till Dawn and eats cake

Whilst packing and modding* uphillas mighty XC race machine, I began to think to myself; "Why the bloody hell am I entering a XC race? I race Downhill and I even hate that!".

But I'd already payed my money and Alex was coming to mine to pick me up so no chance to back out...

Saturday Morning:

Two portions of Porridge, cup of tea, pancakes and a ubersized "jug" of coffee later, and I sat around in my garage doing a final check on kit and bike to make sure everything was ready....

Alex turns up late, having me thinking, "maybe he's forgotten me and I can go back to bed?"

No such luck, he turns up at 10:45 and after meeting with the rest of the posse, we head off towards the flattest place on earth**

The journey took 1hr, 30mins, and was largely due to the Americans causing havoc on our back roads (Two big RAF air bases near by and all the yanks import their own tanks cars.)

We arrived, found a suitable lumpy patch of ground, and set up camp. I passed over the XC717 on Pro II to Alex I'd built, went for a test pedal, and my tubeless tyre blew clean off the rim! Much to the amusement of the infidels that don't believe in tubeless!!

After a fairly lengthy, faffy getting ready period, we all set off for a practice lap so we could check out the course, and gauge how long we'd have before each team member would have back at base before we'd have to meet their team member at the swap point.

It took us roughly an hour with several stops and talk of cake eating.

The Course:

Very nice, smooth flowy single track, but the up and down whoops can be a killer on your back, you can be going at these things for 10mins solid! No real downhill sections but the tight twisty singletrack made up for it. A few 90 degree corners which were great for drifting around Sam hill Style past the bemused XC boys....

Saturday Night:

The Race: We casually made our way down to the start line only to find it wasn't the start line... you had to go down the fireroad for 2mins before you got to the start line.... approaching it was like something out of some si-fi movie, all you could see was a hundred odd lights in the blackness.... really eerie!

Arriving at the start line it was good to see we weren't the only ones not taking it seriously at all, people next to us were wearing masks, somebody was wearing full body armour and some were on light DH bikes!

I can only describe the start as a slow version of a MX start, everybody all trying to get into the bottleneck of the fireroad to get the lead on everyone else before you got into the singletrack!!! Even got someone caught on my bars who tried to shove me off the course.... you picked the wrong kid to mess with brother, I was racing 4x a few weekends ago and you're small time!!!

The first section of singletrack was absolute chaos! Think the M25 is bad? Not compared to this it wasn't!

Eventually the mob started to spread out and chances opened for me to take people out and gradually I started making my way through.... didn't do to badly from starting at the back!

After the first lap I was knackered and my back had gone on protest, so I got back to the pit area and passed the baton onto my team mate and left him to go off and do his lap!

The organised take over point descended into chaos for us, no one could be arsed to wait on their own, so we waited back at the site burning stuff and consuming as much cake as we could get our hands on.

I put in 3 laps in total, my third being the quickest, knowing if I didn't get around quick, my lights would die on the last pieces of singletrack, which would have been.... painful... sure enough they cut out dead just before the finish line!!!! Thank god for my back up commuter lights and the Hope LED lamp on the helmet! Angry beats from Trivium also helped!

MY light setup:

HOPE Vision H.I.D Lamp mounted on the bars for floodlighting everything in my path

Hope Vision LED double mounted on the helmet so I can see where I'm looking

2x Cateye commuter LED's for backup.

Worked very well, and I found myself pushing just as hard as I did in the day... night riding rocks!!!!!

The Aftermath:

Boy, I have never been so tired, ever! I'm still tired today (Tuesday) it was a mission!!

Very good fun and most people are quite friendly apart from the elites, and they don't seem to mind people not entering it seriously.....

I'm going to do it again next year with a little more training though.....

I'm not sure how they measure lap times, but the average time for us all was about an hour, I think they assume that you have one person on course all the time, meh I don't know but we did take a fairly lazy approach to the whole thing!

Some Pics: Me

Groupshot in the morning

*MODS included: Formula Oro Brakes, some Easton EA50 lowrise bars, my 819 wheeset, XT HTII cranks, and X.O group



Asshat Team (Serious): Alex (SX trail with jey wheels) Stu (Giant XTC weighing 23lbs) Chris (old Specialized Enduro)

B-tarted Team (semi serious): Phil (old ground control FSR weighing in at a colossal 23.5lbs!) Simon B (Singlespeed Jumpbike) Son of Stu on random XC hardtail.

C-atstrophe Team: Me (dad's uber xc race beast) Avi (Kona Steel hardtail).

Mechanicals: Alex forgot his skewer, Phil had a skewer that self destructed, I had a blow out riding around the camp on the front tyre but didn't happen again, Chris had an indexed headset, replaced in the field, and both me and chris had creaking links on our FSR's.

Dads forks also needed a service which I have done;). The genny blew up a light charger, 2 floodlight bulbs before it was tamed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

British Heart Foundation - Robin Hood rides

Rob recently spotted a charity ride that's close to our Notts reps and wondered if it'd interest the posse ? (We'll overlook the fact that he sent me details of the '05 ride :p)

When ? Sunday, 5th November 2006

Two rides on one day.

Robin Hood Challenge Bike Ride - A spectacular 36 mile off road challenge through the beautiful and spectacular ancient woodlands around Sherwood Forest. The route starts and finishes at Sherwood Pines Forest Park and also takes in Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park.

Robin Hood Scramble Bike Ride - Ideal for families, novices or occasional cyclists. A fun 6 mile off road scramble on a circular route that can be followed to do 6, 12, 18, 24 or 30 miles. Riders of all ages and abilities can take the opportunity to enjoy picturesque woodland.

For further information on either of these events and entry forms please call 0800 085 2280, email north@bhf.org.uk or Register For This Event Online!

Original link; British Heart Foundation - Event Finder

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chicksands 4x day 14th October

Chicksands is a great place to hone your skills, no matter what ever type of MTB'er you consider you to be there is something to do!

There is a red graded XC route, which I've not ridden so I can't comment on it's quality.
  • Nationals 4x Course (Graded as "Severe"!)
  • Dual course that is a little old and rutted from the n00bs from dragging your brakes down it.
  • Proper Dirt Jumpers Saw teeth sets, that, unlike Woburn, there are small ones and maahooosive ones to suit all levels of Dirtjumper.
  • Freeride Area with a large network of Northshore skinnys, berms, wallrides, see saws and drops. Also a few short DH runs to hone your highspeed skills.
Riding at the weekend at peak times costs £5 if your old, £3 if your a ankle biter. Which when you consider the amount of building and maintenance goes on there, it's worth it. (you don't get charged during the week, or doing the XC course, as far as I'm aware)

The Dual Course is a lot of fun, and all the jumps are easily rollable, so it's a good introduction to racing your mates, it's really easy to build the speed up though and I certainly find myself going skywards off the jumps at the end. Not so much fun with all the Braking bumps when riding a Hardtail, but you can't beat the jumping ability that mine has on it so it's worth it.

The 4X course is always something thats eluded me the two previous times I've visted The Rowney Warren, the first time was with my long time riding buddy, Alex from Cannock, and we were both in a bit over our heads! The second time was with a bunch of near pros, so I felt useless but managed to get over my fear of being on that start ramp and looking at the face of the landing of the first double.

Me and Alex are at about the same standard, so it's always good to ride with each other because we end up pushing each other to go faster, and there over the course of the day, I was starting to match his speed on the 4x course (he had been there another four times so was pretty experienced on it) to the point where I was beating him to the bottom:D

As much as I love DH and XC, they don't quite have the potential to have the rush of riding, literally 2cm away from someone else, literally landing on top of each other, all whilst you are pedalling like buggery to win the race!

One time I remember being in the air and feeling this thing touch my elbow pad, I glanced to the left (I had my full facer on so peripheral vision was limited) and there was Alex, on my arm!!! We stayed like it until we landed with me shouting "Get on yer own bars!!!"

We got to the bottom in fits of giggles, just thinking how utterly mad it was! "That was incredible", Alex said. So we walked to the top, and did it all again!!!

I am chuffed to have managed to double up the Triple on the 4x, something I refused to do before Saturday...it's a big jump near the bottom of the track and there are several options of how to ride it: From easy to mentalist(and order of slow to fast method):

Simply braking like mad and Rolling them
Trying to "pump" them to keep your speed up but not taking off
Manualling them (hard and slow)
Doubling up from the take off to the middle hump and manualling the last one
Jumping from one side of the world to the other the whole lot (needs warp factor 7 to clear).

We saw two people clear the whole thing, but they were proper 4x racers with higher gears than me :(

A few times while I was doubling it up, I was aware that if I had just gone that bit faster I could stand a chance of clearing it, but it's just tooo scary for the moment and I'm happy enough to have gotten over the fear of doubling it up. I have this habit of going at stuff really fast when I don't have the confidence for it, so I can't not do it, and overshooting and going into the face of the last lump would have been near fatal (it'd claimed broken collar bones only the week before!), but following Alex into it soon had me flying off it!

Altogether a mint days riding, gotta say I love that Chameleon to pieces, yeah the back end is harsh, but it just rewards you for punishment like no other frame I've ridden. It also gave me a chance to check out the tuning I'd done on the forks, and it worked sooo well :D

Posse: DDave (Chameleon), Alex ('06 Specialized SX Trail II - [a 7" travel endozer])
Technicals: none

Check out the local club's website for piccys of the schweeet trails!



What a blast last nights ride was - my first pukka night ride since the spring. Damn it was good, all the more so as it was my 1st decent off road blat for ages.

Sneaking over to Woburn I found that I needed my lights on even before entering the woods, at something like 6pm. Bring it on...

It took a few miles to get accustomed to the blackness and those eerie shadows cast by branches / trees. I'd also forgotten just how big roots appear in the shadows and how some rises then disappear into complete darkness as you rise'n'fall / sneak left'n'right. Great fun ! I soon started to enjoy the solitude cast by a single lamp, focusing the attention.

I've never ridden one particular section in total darkness so I was quite cautious not to slither off and wreck my healin' arm. However, it was so good that I rode it twice :)

The woods felt excellent, being so quiet and calm...even the mud was a good consistency ! A few loud rustlings (by deer / squirrels / birds) soon got the pulse racing, hairs on the back of my neck standing proud, buttocks tighten and my legs spinning a little quicker :p

I can't wait for next time...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

MBR Chilterns Killer Loop

I noticed this route in MBR, (October 2006), recently and as it is not too far away I thought it might be worth giving it a try - though after recent rain I suspect it may well be quite muddy!

What do you think, currently I can do most weekends in November apart from the last one.

Also thinking of testing it out in advance one weekday if anyone else has flexibility.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

STW free download

Spotted over at the STW forums, those cheeky peeps are are offering an issue of their mag for free download, yes posse "free". Here's the extract from within an MBR related thread;

I've just set issue 29 FREE in our online shop for downloads.

That's to let anyone who has never read a copy of Singletrack have a look and also to allow anyone who has never tried a download version to have a go :-)

It will stay free for a couple of days.. Enjoy; free order

Peaks This Sunday

Words from Chris...for the weekend I’m thinking of 25 ish miles starting in Hope then taking in Shatton Moor, Pindale, Mam Tor, Jaggers Clough up to Hope brink then the Beast then round the back end of Derwent water back to Hope.

No maps required as I have done this a few times there are some ripping downs and some mother ups but all worth it with great views.

Does anyone fancy joining in ? - unfortunately Farqui and Dozer are still sidelined, but will be with ya in spirit...

PS: I'm also checking out 2 areas in Wales at the end of October one in Denbighshire and one in North Wales, blog's to follow...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Afan'd Rim

On Friday doctor Rob took delivery of my busted rear wheel from Afan and set about replacing the rim which took a substatial strike. The poor rim (DT 4.1d didn't really stand a chance while I was learning that tubeless tyres need more pressure - a soft boot on rocky terrain equal...

Unfortunately, the UST strip didn't survive my clumsy attempt at stripping off the old tyre, etc so I'm back to using tubes again :X My tame wheel builder then took a moment to study the lacing pattern before promptly choppin' out the old spokes. Gulp. After some odd four handed re-spokin' (I think I was a help rather than a hindrance :p) the bits were starting to look wheel like again. Phew. MrDexterous then set about tensioning the spokes and truing the hoop which I thought went really well.

I'm sorry Rob, but the art of lacing is still something of a mystery to me (the "rapid fire" words didn't mean much :blush) but at least his rapid spoke tightening tallied with my crude understanding of wheel truing.

Update: I managed to crank this new hoop for a few gentle miles yesterday (my 1st outing since Afan'g myself :rolleyes) and the hoop seems to be so darn well built that I didn't get hardly any of the usual musical chimes as it groans under my girth. I'll need to mend a little more before I start chucking it around in anger and really testing it - but at least my rig is now repaired.

I'd like to thank Robberty for his speedy master class and for re-assembling what appears to now be a very stout rear hoop. The beer is in the post...

Friday, October 06, 2006


Thanks to Farqui for arranging a great weekend for us, weather, trails and company were all good.

Hope you don’t mind if I share some thoughts and observations from the weekend.

“Sicknote” said to me a couple of times, ‘I don’t know how you do it (at your age)!’ well I am not sure I have an answer, it amazed me that I was able to do that climb at ‘the Ponds’ twice in one day. After our trip to Coed y Brenin earlier this year and two days of demanding climbs my hip joint went into spasm and I could hardly walk in the days following, a visit to the doctor brought no comfort and I was told that I might have to reduce or give up the cycling :-(. I had been taking Glucosomine to help keep joints in shape, but decided to review this based a thread I spotted on STW Forum, seems like a combination of supplements work better. So I changed to these and these and although there were twinges this time there were no after-effects. I know people half my age who take similar supplements, so it is obviously not necessarily an age related problem. I have no background in sport and came to mountain biking proper in my fifties, I am fortunate to have time to go out ‘training’ around 3 times a week locally, but this is mostly road riding and relatively flat. My Garmin edge has been a useful aid in trying to improve fitness.

My personal awards for the weekend go to my 5-Spot & Fox suspension, which despite gear problems inspired confidence and felt solid. Also to my new set of tyres (Daahnhilla thought I was mad riding them brand new), these were Kenda combination recommended last year by Singletrack mag in their massive tyre test – Nevegal front, Blue groove on the back, both 2.1 in the dual tread compound version – they just gripped everything well. Also very grippy were my Shimano DX shoes on DX flat pedals – it really was like being clipped in! I know that flats are in the minority here, but both Daahnhilla and myself have tried SPD’s and gone back to flats, one less thing to worry about in my view and no discernable loss in pedal power. Also very pleased with the performance of the XT 4-pot brakes, now 4 years old and still working well on 160 rotors! The gears are another matter and defied most attempts to get them sorted, but in the end they did not stop the fun at least they worked in the bottom range for climbing.

One thought I always get after these weekends is ‘I must do this more often’, a couple of trips a year is not enough to keep my confidence and skills up. Not sure if this will happen, but if I could fit in the occasional one-day trip it might help, whole weekends away are not easy to fit in. It could be done by driving Friday evening, maybe camping B&B overnight, a couple of trails on Saturday and then home Saturday evening?? Penmachno and Marin Trail might be one trip, perhaps a bit ambitious. Also back to Afan for that July trail! Some training might help, (mentioned as a possibility at the end of our trip), and I had even thought of building a small ramp to get those jumps sorted. What do you think??

Thursday, October 05, 2006

RedBarn Jersey

It's been quiet since Afan so I guess you're all still exhausted ;) Me ? I've not turned a knobbly in some 10 days, so I'm going a teeny bit crazy. I hope some of ya have managed to get in the dirt on my behalf.

My arm is well on the mend and the strong ache that kept me awake earlier this week, has subsided. I'm hopefull that I'll be able to get astride my Afan'd rig this weekend and take a steady crank along the Grand Union. If all goes well then I should be able to start commuting from Monday.

We've now got all the bits to rebuild my rear wheel and doctor Rob will help me spanner it into shape shortly. The sooner I can get back to a tubeless boot the better - since fitting an inner tube at the start of the July trail the ride has felt 'orrible and dull. Much like fitting a solid rubber ring rather than the supple and great feel of tubeless.

Chad and Toons have done their best to keep my spirits up with the arrival of a custom summer jersey (gawd bless 'em)...
..it's just a shame that summer has passed us by :rolleyes

For all of ya that whimped out on supporting our pal in Montana, the large fits a treat :)