Friday, October 24, 2008

Morzine June 27 – July 4 2009

After a 4-5 year wait I have a pass again to return to the Alps. I have looked at a few options and decided to return to the Les Portes du Soleil area (but this time when the whole area is open).

The recommendation is to stay in Morzine this time as it is more central (see dahnhilla’s recent trip).

As well as the miles and miles or way marked cycle trails, there is a lot more to this area if you are prepared to get a map out and explore. We spent a whole week last time just around Les Gets and that is about 1/10 of the area :-)

More info and videos here

There is the option of flying to Geneva but I intend to drive again, it is probably about 12-15 hours door to door.

Eurotunnel - £30 tescos vouchers per car :-)
Ins & breakdown £100 per car
Tolls £70 per car
Fuel – 1300 miles (hopefully in something more economical than a Honda Shuttle 2.3 petrol Auto.)

While we are there:
Accommodation S/C allow £200/head
Lift pass £50
Food & beer???

So if we optimise cars well I reckon about £450/person + food and drink

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mabie - First Taste

After a couple of aborted visits I finally got to my knobbly's out around Mabie earlier this week.

Before you ask, "yes it was wet and falling from the sky" :-( Comically it was bright and sunny when we arrived, before the heavens opened whilst I changed into my ride togs. Which then cleared for 5mins whilst I assembled the bike and then dumped big time just as I rolled off road. Fortunately I then only had to tackle a strong wind and the odd spot of drizzle.

The red graded Phoenix trail unfolded as a typically well drained trail (thankfully) consisting of a slate, small rocks and mud with a good dose of slippery roots which made me feel right at home :p The trail doesn't have any long nasty climbs or descents and keeps you busy with little challenges throughout.

There are a few 2-3ft drops dotted around to keep you on your toes but they can all be taken carefully - although one at the end of a board walk really made me grin as I floated into a level drop :D

Did I mention raised board walks ?...there's a few of these and the first is the worst being uphill, around a couple of corners and off camber. Oh and like Dalbeattie there are short technical black sections available to those with many more skills than I. I did commit to x1 "black" right at the end which simply turned out to be a steep roll back to the fire road :rolleyes

There's even a couple of small stream crossings which were good fun and flowing strongly.

A number of small open berms (unlike Brechfa) were great fun and easily railed even though I didn't know what was coming around the next bend.

"The Scorpion" is a fairly challenging steep albeit relatively short climb that played with my mind and seemed to repeatedly yell "dismount" as my legs and lungs burnt. It was a shame that riders were resting at the top (the fireroad) which forced me to dig deep and crank my way ever upwards atop my knobblies ;)

The route isn't very long at 10miles-ish and although it's graded "red" I'd say it'd be a good trail for a competent rider to cut their teeth on as it doesn't have any nasty surprises but has plenty of nice bits to entertain.

A special thank you must also go to Mabie House for making this trip as special as the others.


Penmachno/Llandegla 1st November

A while back Farqui an myself did the first Penmachno loop straight after the Marin Trail. It is a great trail, but we were not at our best and struggled a bit!

We have put diaries together again and come up with Saturday 1st November as date to give this now extended and much loved trail another try.

Daanhilla and myself are heading up Friday eve and meeting Farqui at the trail head Saturday am. If time and energy allow we will head back via Llandegla and see what is going on there.

Please feel welcome to come along!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wendover to Princess Risborogh Autumn Ride

Recently I've been piecing together some new routes in order to add a little variety to my riding. As a consequence, last week I discovered this gem and suggested to Farqui that he might like to give it a go. He was particularly impressed with the route on our recent night ride and I was sure this would provide even more thrills! Unfortunately, he couldn't make it but with the help of a few emails a collection of the posse had quickly vol entered.

The meeting point was Wendover Forest (just opposite Aston Hill MTB centre). The Planned Route was a figure of 8 picking up the Ridgeway at Wendover and working towards the ridge point overlooking Princess Risborough.

The ride starts with a long down hill section into Wendover town centre. From there, the Ridgeway climbs back up to the top of Becombe Hill. Its a reasonably tough climb rewarded by some spectacular views. To the East Ivinghoe Beacon, to the West Princess Risborough, Chinnor and beyond....

We continued our ride and picked up the Ridgeway Riders Route which just behind Chequers (no sign of Mr Brown!) and slowly climbed up through route strewn woodland and then fast single track until we reached Risborough and the halfway point. We took a few moments to re-fuel with energy bars and absorb another fine view before we quickly descended into Risborough. Now for the bit I chose not to tell everyone....a hard slog road climb back to the top to pick up the Ridgeway and return on our previous route. With plenty of huffing and puffing with reached the top and and made the most of the long down hill single and forest tracks back to Chequers. From here we climbed once again to take a circular route back to Wendover and the final climb to the car pack.

From my perspective it was a tough ride (2500ft accent) with some rewarding descents. It was great to ride with a good size posse and I look forward to our next day out! It's a real shame Farqui missed this one but weather permitting I'm happy to do it again as soon as his got a free weekend!!

Once again, thanks to the posse for supporting the ride and I hope it gave you a good sense of what the Ridgeway has to offer.


Posse: R2, Rob, Paul, Dozer, Darren, Les.

Conditions : Generally very good. Very dry for this time of year.

Mechanicals: Darren...two punctures!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Black Mountain 'Killer'

This was supposed to be the antidote to the lack of riding in the wet summer, a date had to be picked out and I was being optimistic and hoping for a drier autumn. It did not happen, for once the forecast was spot-on – Periods of heavy rain, wind and low cloud.

Full marks to our small posse who turned up and did the ride regardless without complaint.

The advice is to allow 6 hours for the ride, which seems a lot for 23 miles, but when you see the terrain it starts to make sense.

We set off from the Castle Inn at Pengenfford and soon met our first tough climb and were off pushing up lose rocks. After skirting the base of the hills now towering above us we made a choice to push up y Grib rather than the steep rocky climb a little further round at y Das, thinking it might be easier in the wet. It was still a tough walk with the wind and rain cutting hard by the time we reached the top. Promised views were only briefly glimpsed through the wind blown cloud – we had already climbed 1000ft.
We were grateful to be cranking again across a moorland track and soon picked up the ‘proper’ route again and the long steady descent to Grwyne Fawr reservoir – this was welcome, but not easy in places with much lose rock and slippy ruts – it tested us all, but was great fun. This eventually brought us out in valley bottom with another ‘big hill’ looming over us – I think hearts may have been sinking a bit at this point, but up we went on forest fire roads thankfully zigzagging. The GPS then pointed us up a track to the right and once again we were off and pushing until we reached a remote and narrow hillside singetrack. Another short push brought to the top of Crug Mawr and the start of a brilliant downhill, well it would have been if it had not been for the conditions and all took it very easy this time :-(

The optional lunch stop at Llanbedr was not taken, the preference was to keep going this time. It was quite relief to be back on predictable tarmac for a while as we started the gradual ascent – the tracklog show this to last for 6½ miles in all. On a clear day it would have been a bearable with some great scenery, on this day it was a real slog at times. We passed a group carrying an injured dog back to civilization who wished us the best of luck as we headed ever upwards.
The wet and grime had taken its toll on Dozers chain by this point and all the lube had gone, luckily Farqui had packed some Purple Extreme and a quick squirt restored the gears sufficiently to get to the top.

Needless to say we were all weary by the time we got to the top and the prospect of a fast downhill blast was not that appealing, so we picked our way carefully down what would be challenging on a dry day and sensibly chose to dismount in places not wanting any last minute injuries. As the descent levelled out it did not get any easier with unrelenting lose rock to negotiate rattling our teeth all the way to the bottom!

What a relief to get back to the Castle Inn change into dry clothes and get into the warm bar for a much needed pint. Sadly the hot food we had also hoped for was not available.

What can I say? Well I am not sure about the others, but I am glad I did the ride and had a real sense of achievement getting round unscathed. It is a real ‘Killer’ loop as had been promised through some stunning, wild countryside. Sadly we did not get the views promised. On balance, one to do in better weather, but picking the right time would be more luck than judgement this year.

Posse: Dozer- Canyon; Farqui – 5-Spot; Pete – Cannondale Scalpel; Uphilla – 5-Spot
Mechanicals Dozer, chain suck?
Weather: Almost as bad as it gets.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Berko Loops

Last night R2 arranged to take us cranking around his local patch and both Rob and I jumped at the opportunity. R2 was worried the trails would be gloopy but after checking the trails the wkend before he committed a date and prayed it would stay dry.

With lamps lit we started out and lifted ourselves up a quiet gentle tarmac incline before diving off-road in amongst the trees. As you can see from the route profile the first few miles were mostly flat pedal-y sections through Berko common which were great fun. R2 needn't have worried about the trails as there were only a few puddles to contend with. Dodging the occasional black pool actually added to the fun as we ducked and dived around the the trees :p

As predicted the 2nd half of the ride involved a number of great descents that were promptly dispatched with massive grins. R2 wasn't too keen on getting run over so he often hung back letting those with less sense than travel hammer a line down the trail. With my single bar mounted lamp I often had to trust in my machine to get me around, over and under! the rapidly approaching obstacles. A head mounted lamp would have been a great help and might have given my fast beatin' ticker a breather ;) Squish suspension helped me out on numerous occasions but I really must give my ol'steed some TLC as the rear shock was way too soft.

Rob had a chance to demonstrate his climbing prowess as he winched himself up the "Donkey Trail" with it's loose, channeled, steadily steep track there to grind down a tired rider. To his snotty credit R2 kept up but I lost the will and hop'd off to push for a few meters.

My companions with their helmet mounted lights scanned the trails and undergrowth which often found eyes peering back at us. Lots of eyes. It seems that the deer are rampant in these parts but I'm still not convinced that the grunts came from our antlered onlookers rather than my lycra clad companions :D

Big props to R2 for a truly fantastic hack. I could have ridden numerous sections again and again, mostly the downhill bits ! ...and to Rob for repairing my snap'd chain.

A big thanks has also gotta go to MrsR2 who cooked up some top post ride nosh for the hungry posse :thumbu


Posse: Farqui (5spot), R2 (Canyon), Rob (Flux)
Weather: Dry, cool, windy
Mechanicals: Farqui - snapped chain