Friday, March 21, 2008

FtDx3

Yesterday Dozer and I consummed the last of our annual leave and sneaked off up to Cannock Chase for some knobbly action. We'd originally considered an assault around Hope and fly down Jacobs Ladder but alas the weather conspired to put dampeners on that idea. With less than favourable weather reports we opted for the less exposed FC site of n.Brum, as it was the wind was howling on the ridges and I bet the Peaks were much worse.

As it happens this was going to be one of the more knarly rides that Dozer has attempted on his new steed and thinking about it the "Ladder" would have probably been too much too soon for the big lad who's still familiarising himself with his rig. Since bedding in his bouncer, he's been concerned that the spring within his Pike wasn't beefy enough - so gradually introducing knarlier and knarlier terrain should give us a better idea if it actually needs changing. Numerous comments on the web all suggest that someone of his "girth" will need a mega xtra stiff coil, not that we know what's inside his...

Yesterday started bright and calm here in the Magic Kingdom so we were soon loaded, stocked up on fresh coffee and heading north. Relatively little traffic meant we made good time and we were saddled up and heading over to the trail head in no time. Damn, the revised opening section is a beaut - being tight'n'twisty with the polished cobbles causing your rig to slither around underneath ya. A few subtle tweaks to our shox's calmed things down a little and after a few miles we were dialled and flicking in/out of the trees.

The trails were dry with hardly any puddles or slime to negotiate, "could this be the same Cannock that's typically submerged" :p

I was very pleased to find the new sections had bedded in much better since my last visit and that they'd not broken up into a sludge bath. There's now a good mix out there that allow you to practice berms, jumps and linking fast/slow open/tight corners - well done to the trail pixies. Actually I found some of the more established sections were faster now as they'd mostly been brushed clear of their loose marbles.

Dozer found a terrific spot to lie down, right in front of 20 youths, after failing to clean a large knarly oblique root atop a short rise. I myself was fortunate enough to have a front row seat, tx D ;)

I'd already warned my companion that I intended to hammer the next section, the sweeping open section just after we'd normally return from the heath. We found that it was blindingly fast and even though it's suffering from huge, long braking bumps I found I could clear most of them after launching off the 1st :D I railed the berms and was soon at the other end with my eyes watering from the speed and g's. I was then so fired up that I blitzed the subsequent cobbled rise in the middle ring.

Finding the final section closed we were soon back at the start and mulling over what our next loop would be. "Head up across the heath for a bite to eat at the cafe?" or "blitz around another loop of FtD?" or "both?". Either way we'd start with the opening section of FtD so after a fairly cautious first loop we both raced off into the splendid 1st section again. With much of the short trail now fresh in our minds we were able to open the taps a little and pick cleaner lines between the obstacles, well almost, towards the end I was looking so far ahead that I completely forgot about a monster puddle which was only brought to my attention by a cold and damp feeling - eek. Much to Dozer's amusement I pulled my soggy boot out of the gloop and chuckled my way back to the finish.

Completing loop#2 we headed over to Birches Valley cafe for a cup a joe and a bagette whilst we blathered about all things knobbly.

Recharged we decided to rip out another loop but found the drizzle had turned the exposed cobbles into attention focusing slippery blotches. Keeping an eye out for the damp bits we still had another fun loop that oddly seemed to dry out towards then end that soon had us both racing for the finish.

Dozers coil Pike didn't blow through it's travel and looked very supple throughout. So D's next big outing needs some pukka knarly trails before his lordship can decide if he needs a firmer coil. My Pike felt much smoother since s.Wales having soaked the stanchions in teflon, although it did start to feel notchy again towards the end of the damp 3rd loop.

Sneaky mid week rides are the best :p

Posse; Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot)
Weather; overcast, windy, drizzle on loop#3
Mechanicals; none

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