Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rosedale Killer

Opening the curtains and being greeted with drizzle wasn't the ideal way to start the last days riding in north Yorkshire but to everyone's credit we all loaded up and headed over to Rosedale for a "wilderness" ride.

Uphila had pulled this option together and it promised much although many of the posse had other commitments or simply weren't committed ;-) and didn't opt for a full loop.

After a few km's of road climbing we plunged off onto the soggy moorland and off up into the low cloud. With dodgy conditions and/or poor line choices several of the posse took a nap on the soft springy terrain. Rob#3 executed a particularly "awesome" roll that generated more than a few :lol

To reach a short road section most of the posse (the nesh'uns) stopped line a stern at a large(ish) puddle which Jenni was already steaming towards. Down shifting I cranked onto her 6 and dived ankle deep into the surprisingly warm, shimmering obstacle. Just the ticket !

After a quiet section of quiet black top we heaved off down a stunning hillside drop with a trail that gave a myriad of options and obstacles. Whist watchin' the rest of the crew make their way down Baggy entertained us with a goof on the slippery grass.

At this point 3/4's of the posse headed off along a more gentle trail while those with less sense slithered down boggy double track to a gate. The only option to the left was a complete hoot of a descent on grass and mud that offered absolutely NO traction. With Darren perched on the ground we all sighed relief after clocking the near vertical 40-50ft drop he opted not to plunge down. Around the corner we were greeted with a farm yard "stench" and ankle deep, toxic green goo.

A few cranks along a lane found us strugglin' for traction on a long technical climb where we eventually met up with the "easy option" posse ;-) After rotating maps for a while we decided to blast back down the climb which turned out to be a complete hoot.

With the posse snaking their way back to Rosedale I found myself at the back (with Checkov and Dozer) about to negotiate a damp and slightly muddy looking right hander. On the brakes in a straight line I scrubbed off speed, set up for the turn, leaned in only to find the back starting to slide around the turn. I'm not sure what happened next but I think I caught the back before the front plunged into the asphalt. Fortunately my inside leg was now unclipped and as I heaved the slidin' rig half back up as momentum faded to a stop. Turning around I clocked my wide eyed pals wondering how they hadn't ridden over me - phew !

Back at the car park the posse dwindled to just 2 (Dozer and myself) who would now take on the southern loop that Dom/Zena rode on Friday. Personally I could have quite easily removed my damp clobber and eaten cake with the others but Dozer was riding this afternoon and that was that. Thanks for the motivation dude.

The southern loop soon had us winching up wet, slippery tracks that gradually dwindled from asphalt to double track, to single track and heath before closing on the top around Ana's Cross. The brakes then began grinding as mud, glorious mud was flung from our rapidly spinning knobbly's as we steadily descended "sarf".

I've learnt the hard way that when Dozer says "the flat bit"that's is gonna be far from FLAT and true to his word the final leg to the car park was a long and steady rise over tracks that soon deteriorated into boulder strewn obstacles. On a fresh pair of pins, a dry day and with a rear tyre that offered some traction this would be a great section. But today was far from perfect and it's been a long while since I've been so happy to feel easy pedaling on asphalt.

What a great weekend but boy oh boy do my legs know that they've cranked over 100km's.

Tracklog and pic's and pic's.

Posse: yup plenty of 'em, minus 3 from yesterday
Weather: Drizzle all ride long. Oh wait it did stop raining as we got back to the car !
Mechanicals: pads, the wet ate our brakes
Injuries: Do wrinkled fingers and toes count ! I managed to twist my left knee after misjudging soggy ruts.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dalby Red - Round Two

With relatively clear sky's the posse snaked it's way from the car park and up into the switchback loveliness of the woods.

With the snake of riders following it wasn't long before the fitter / rested riders were heading the queue and chasing tyre's up down and around the first few km's of the Red route.

As Rob and I cranked past Dixon's Hollow (where the others stopped for a play) we soon found ourselves waiting around and getting cold. So with Rob gaining in confidence (after his leg op) we dived down a short Black graded gully and had a nice challenging slime covered rock climb back up to the Red. We didn't take every additional challenge around the Red, however we did select what turned out to be a beltin' north shore section towards the end of the northern Black bits. It wasn't just long (thankfully not too tall or narrow) but had plenty of steep drops, rises and cross camber woodwork to negotiate. This was rapidly followed by a long, algae covered, narrow rocky canyon which twisted and turned it's way to a mighty difficult climb. Rob gave it a good shot and I'm thankful that my suddenly skipping gears gave me the perfect excuse to hike a bike ;-) It transpires that my inner cassette sprocket now had a substantial "ding" effectively wiping out the bottom gears. Rob pushed and grunted it straight enough to not give any further problems, a top fix mister.

Instead of myself pulling Dozer along (as per loop#1) the tables were turned as Rob hammered on and on with my now wobbly legs in steady pursuit. With just a section or two to go he even suggested I could take a bail out option back to the start and in return he got abuse and a knobbly to chew :)

On the final descent I summoned my remaining reserves and whooped my way back to a thoroughly well earned coffee, panni-whats-it and moosive slice of cake: thumbu After a quick re-charge t'was time for me to source a replacement cassette from the lbs.

With some 65km's cranked, I did wonder if my pins would be up for the 100km challenge I'd set myself for wkend...


Posse: yup, loads of 'em
Weather: Dry, warm with a light breeze.
Mechanicals: Roger had skipping gears rectified by removing the plastic sprocket guard. Jenni's crank arm kept parting company with her crankset. My buckled cassette.
Injuries; Paul acquired himself a bloody leg and I'd be surprised if a few of the others didn't have a few xtra lumps at the finish ;-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dalby Red - A First Taste

The thought of some en-mass knobbly action in North Yorkshire with our ride buddies tempted some of the posse to make a long wkend of it. So Dozer and I loaded the car to the brim and headed up shortly after rush hour, with Uphilla/Daanhilla and C3PO not too far behind.

Some 3hrs later we were checking out the cabins and deciding on where to ride. As the accommodation wasn't available until later in the afternoon we decided not to wait around and opted to get a decent ride in over at Dalby, map.

After paying the fee to get into the forest (£7 a day, later topped up with £3 to make a handy 7 day pass - tx Uphilla) we assembled our rigs at the well equipped center amidst dappled sunshine.

Heading out from the car park sets the tone of the trail with ample switchback practice throughout the duration of the ride. As usual you initially climb your way up and out of the valley with the trail gradually "contouring" the valleys (or riggs) that flank 3/4's of the forest.

With over 20miles of Red rated trails and plenty of steady pedal-ie sections defo it puts your fitness to the test, but with fresh legs we found ourselves zipping along nicely :) Thankfully Dozer's tight rear brake was steadily freeing itself as we cranked out the miles.

Dalby's Red route is interspersed with optional Black "bits" or complete sections should you fancy something more than a vanilla cross country ride. We past Dixon's Hollow, the play area, and decided to leave it for another day and crack on. As this was our 1st visit, we mainly kept to the Red and easily settled into the obstacles and terrain that typify this trail. Our knobbly's coped with a thin layer of mud, roots, sand, small rocks and numbing crocodile back "pavement" through to a full range of tight, open, fast and slow corners. Only a few climbs are steep enough to cause any headaches and there are plenty of short drops to rapidly pull your speed back. Traction was good throughout with just the later sections being a little sketchy in the dampness.

The last section is a tease as the GPS showed the finish around 1 mile away (as the crow fly's) but the trail zig zags left and right with ample climbing to shred your spirits and legs. Fortunately the final section rewards your efforts with a schweet switchback combo back to the coffee shop.

Our first taste of the area allowed us to dial in our rigs a little better and get ourselves out of our "flatland" routine ;-) I was pleased to find that Dozer getting on well with his new rig and the new spring up front (medium to x-firm) meant he wasn't rapidly blowing through his travel.

Tracklog and pic's.

Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot). Uphilla (5Spot), Daaanhilla (Commencal), Rob (Flux), Dom/Zena arrived a little later but we didn't manage to meet up.
Weather: Warm 12c-ish, light breeze, dry to start with drizzle to finish.
Mechanicals: Dozer had a dragging rear brake
(new pads) which sloooowly loosened up.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Gap

Since a Drude moved to Herefordshire my roadie pal and I have been gradually hatchin' a plan to go for a pukka MTB ride in this gorgeous part of the country. Taking a while to match up a suitable free weekend we finally turned our wheels over the Brecon Becons today. Even though we'd had plenty of prep time we hadn't really settled on a route until a few days before and the writeup suggested we'd get a good taste of the area without killin' us. ;-)

With snow forecast for Sunday and the air temp dropping we wrapped up and rolled out of Talybont-on-Usk onto a disused railway line. I thought this'd be a gentle, wide'n'smooth warm up to the open moorland ahead but we quickly found the trail was rocky (albeit with the rocks plugged into the earth) and as it narrowed so did our focus on the next few lumps ahead. The gradient wasn't anything to worry about and we were soon removing the layers in the dappled sunshine, especially as we were still shielded from the wind by the valley'n'trees.

As the tree line receded the views became more dramatic, the wind steadily increased and the rocky terrain continued to focus your ridin'. After a short rocky scrabble (both of us hiked) we rolled out onto a ridge and carefully navigated our way through "The Mother of All Bogs" - I kid you not. We found it was fairly dry but in winter I suspect this section would be a nightmare. After some rocky and boggy moments, Drude soon learned to latch on the line I'd be continually adjusting for the less hazardous option. At this point the wind wasn't too bad (it was still behind us) and the views were difficult to ignore until your front wheel got bounced/sucked off line ! A nice technical and twisting climb followed that got me (aka Mr Flatlands) back in the steep'n'techie groove.

After racing through and around long 4x4 scars we started to plunge down into the forest where the bridleway gradually became more rocky. Then rockier. Steeper and rockier. Until Drude hoped we were done with the rocks, then we rounded a corner for the mother of all loose, rocky drops. "Commitment" was all mumbled and I jostled my way down.

A comparatively gentle section followed before we popped out onto the road around Pentwyn reservoir. This is the lowest point before "The Gap" and it's gentle drag up, all the way, for mile after mile of road that then breaks to double track. We past a few walkers but they didn't hinder our jolly progress upwards. Thankfully the track wasn't too technical but the increasing headwind made some bits quite awkward.

After a catching our breath in the lee of the ridge (and gorgeous sunshine) we continued through "The Gap". OMG, the wind was tearing through and forced us both to dismount purely because we simply could not see - our eyes were watering soooo much, even behind sunnies. You're quickly plunged down and around the mtn that pleasingly reduced the headwind but now it became a gusty cross wind ! The descent isn't as deep in loose rocks as earlier but it just goes on and on and on with just a few short and sandy (packed) sections to give your limbs and eye's a rest. Proving that a full susser ain't such a bad thang I hammered down and at the gate I found my roadie chum was upping his game on the challenging terrain. At least I couldn't hear his singing as I crashed down the trail :)

Back in the warm sunshine of the valley we decided not to bother riding up to Brecon and zipped around the quiet country lanes. After slip streaming a 4x4 :p we were soon at signs for the Taff trail and a few corner later we opted for the even quieter canal tow path back Tally b.

This ride has plenty of climbing but it's relatively gentle and riding the route clockwise means you get rewarded with loads-a-fast and/or technical downhills to make the steady drag's well worthwhile. Although it's technical in places it's a got some great sections to hone your skills and even "scared y cats" can get around without too much walking.

After a well earned pint and a bite to eat we headed back to Drude's to clean up, pop open a cold one and soak the ol'bones in his hot tub. Tip top.

It's a route I'd definitely like to tackle again, who's interested ?

Tracklog, pic's and a partial writeup from WhatMTB here.

Posse: Drude (Giant XTC), Farqui (5Spot)
Weather: Dry, sunny spells, warm in the valleys but windy and cold up top
Mechanicals: none