Wednesday, December 02, 2009

They finally stole my bike

Well, after a total of two years of them failing to steal my bike at the station, my Rockhopper finally disappeared on Monday. In the past they have attempted on a number of occasions to cut through the lock and have taken my front wheel and saddle. A few months ago I fitted some locking nuts (pinheads - actually quite good I think) to the front wheel and seatpost but they still bent my back wheel out of (I think) vindictiveness.

This time, they actually cut through the frame and rear wheel after having tried without success to smash the lock. So what have they ended up with? Well the forks are pretty good (but you will have to get the front wheel off first), the front wheel was Hope (but again they will have to detach without damaging) the seatpost is Thomson (again locked though) and they may get smtg for the brakes (a mismatch Hope and Deore set). Perhaps £200 value - keeping an eye on e-bay...

I don't hold out much hope from the police - generally the cameras are either not working or pointing in the wrong direction.

What's next? I will not leave another bike there so I will have to resort to a folding thingy and take it on the train in future. Do not want a small wheeled one so looking at Dahon - anyone have any experience of these or anything else similar?

Yours, in mourning


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AyUp Knobblies Boost

Over the weekend the Aussy lights doubled their foot hold amongst the Knobbly clan with AyUp noobs
(Chas /  myself) both opting for "kits" and existing users boosting their range (Dozer / R2).  

As I intend to also use my AyUp's for commuting I wanted the convenient Gecko helmet mount, Saxon and flashing option available within the V4 Adventure but not the MTB set.  The V4's hardware box is handy (once the foam insert is removed) and defo better than the fiddly neoprene pouch in the pre'09 range.

I've seen Dozer / R2 using these and thought they looked slick but I only realised just how simple and effective the mounts are once I started plumbing in my own gear, e.g. the handle bar mount.

Until I decide what what I'm doing with my helmet I've just cable tied the mounting plate atop the skid lid so that I can use the Saxon facing behind with one lamp facing forwards to supplement my been seen (but not see) commuter lamp.  Initial tests are favourable and I'll report back once I've tried a few more combo's. 

As two kits were ordered the kinda Aussy's shipped for free.  Oh and another cool feature is that AuYp sort out the duty charges at source so you not only know what you'll be paying up front but you also won't have the hassle paying duty upon delivery :-)

Manufacturer; AyUp

R2's previous review.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Black Mountain 'Killer' Loop - Take 2

When the Afan weekend was planned I suggested to Dangerous that, if the weather was good, we could head North on the Sunday and ride the Black Mountain ‘Killer’ loop – we had talked about doing it in the past and I knew it might be some time before another opportunity came up.
Farqui, Dozer and myself had done the ride a while back, but on the chosen day the weather was poor with rain and low cloud. I was determined to do it again to experience the views and real sense of wilderness riding.
I had hoped to get an early start and take a break at the pub in Llanbedr, but in the end we did not reach the Castle Inn at Pengenffordd until well after 12, which left just about enough time to get round before dusk. The weather was perfect, clear, sunny, but not too hot.
After a trail centre riding this kind of terrain is a quite a contrast – be clear if you do this route there is some walking to be done and the hardest bit comes up very quickly – we chose what I suspect is the easiest option up Y Grib, long and slow, but we had the entertainment of watching gliders being dragged up and released as we trekked.
At the top there is a gentle upwards traverse to reach first descent which is all of 6 miles! Not easy in places as the track is very rocky, but as you reach the reservoir is gets easier and faster until you reach the road at the bottom with a big smile on your face.
The next climb is easier and mostly ride-able on forest fire roads. Just a couple of short pushes to get to the top of Crug Mawr. The descent from this peak is a Black Mountain favourite with fabulous views on a clear day and just when you think it is over there is a steep and tricky bridleway drop onto the road, great fun! It is at this point that you can divert to Llanbedr, but today we slogged on the road towards the next climb.
After our exertion at Afan our legs were not at their freshest today and at this point they were starting to run out of steam. We took a break and then got stuck in to the long grind in the remotest part of this ride. On a good day it is a climb that can be ridden to the top, but today we walked the last steep track. Fine views in all direction rewarded our efforts, the sun was still shining and ahead was another testing downhill on Rhiw Tramau – this one more technical than the others with some lose rocky sections and narrow hillside trails to negotiate before a final painful climb back to the pub car park.
A great route, but I did have a sense of ‘never again’ at the end, however after a few days I am already thinking about the next time and maybe with a bit more time to play with….There are quite a few more routes to try in this area too.
Tested on this trip: Silicone Grips, XT tubeless rims, Gold Lube, Aldi Soft Shell jacket. Grips, rims and jacket all worked well - The jacket in particular was perfect for this time of year keeping me just the right temperature. Gold Lube did not work so well and needed re-applying regularly.

Posse: DangerousDave: SC Chameleon. Uphilla: 5-Spot
Weather: Bright & Sunny autumn day
Mechanicals: None.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

AFAN - Penhydd, 4th October 2009 (pm)

After the disappointment of the morning’s mechanical problem I was glad for the chance to get back out on my bike. So Willy and myself loaded our bikes into the car for the short journey down the road to the other trail centre. As we pulled into the car park the attendant was there collecting money, it would appear that my (unfounded) reputation has even made it to Wales, I asked him how much, to which he replied ‘£1 for an hour or £3.50 for all day’ slight pause ‘so make that £2’ (I wasn’t going to argue).

We quickly assembled our bikes and set off. The climb starts with some nice twisty singletrack, but then does become a bit of a slog up the fire roads, I didn’t mind too much as I could just plod along and watch Willy’s rear wheel disappear into the distance. I really do enjoy a couple of sections on this trail, no matter how many times I do them. The hidden valley was good fun, I now just ignore the drop to one side and I am getting better at the switch backs, but still had a couple of dabs (well a dab on one and a walk on the other). I think my favourite section is the sidewinder, carrying lots of speed from one corner to the next and no drops to worry about if you get anything wrong. The only thing to watch out for on this section is the little tree stump on the outside exit of every bend (outside foot down???).


Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: Fine.
Mechanicals: Both of us had our chains come off at the same time, Willy at the front jamming between the cranks and the frame (day one of the Alps again) and mine at the rear, jamming between the spokes and the cassette.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Afan Skills Training


I'm sure that a few of you will recall that my first visit to Afan (2007) was somewhat of an 'in at the deep end' experience for me resulting in more then a few tumbles. Whilst my riding has improved since then, when I was offered the chance of 4 hours skills training at Afan for £38.00 I considered it would probably be money well spent.

The skills training was provided by a local guy called Nigel Thomas. He runs a part time business providing skills training and 'off piste guided routes' (more of that later). Nigel's approach was professional and he has a very relaxed style. He spent some time with us understanding what we wanted to achieve from the course. In our case it was basic to ride Afan with confidence, improved technique on switchbacks, drop offs, roots etc. and increase our speed and flow on the technical single track sections.

In truth my expectations were generally low, I knew that I'd have to take a lot of information on board and felt that if things went well I'd be able to convert some of it into practice. However, I found Nigel's training style very relaxed and simple. He was able to make numerous but simple changes to my riding style through changes to weight distribution, set up and braking that really made a significant difference to my ability to ride Afan with confidence. We used the Hidden valley and Dead Sheep Gully on the Penhydd trail to practice different technical elements and then went back to the top and rode the whole section to combine our new found skills. The result of the days training was a significant boost to my confidence and a reasonable improvement in my skill level. The following day I rode Whites level with the objective of tackling everything that came my way (up hill and down hill). As a result I remained tumble free for the whole day and rode the trail much faster and smother than my first attempt. I now look forward to returning to Afan with fondness and not fear!

I'm happy to recommend Nigel to most. Nigel is happy to deal direct (at reduced prices) and can be contacted on the following:

tel: 07723343500

'Off Piste' guided routes:

Nigel explained that he often takes keen riders of an all day 'off piste' route which lets riders make the most of the Afan valley. It's a bit of an epic with features including a 4 mile down hill section and 'river riding'. Next time we have a group in Afan he offered to take 6 of us out for £60.00 (£10.00 each). It's something i will definitely be interested in.

Finally, a big thanks to Chas for organising the days event. Best money I've spent in years!


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

AFAN 3rd 4th October 2009

After much discussion, it was decided that the camping group would go down to Afan on Saturday morning. The Uphillas decided they needed their beauty sleep so advised the remaining 5 riders (including a non regular, Jonny, my brother in law) to “start without them” and the three cars rolled into a wet Glyncorrwg car park around 10.30. Unfortunately much of Skyline (the original planned Saturday route) was closed due to forestry activities and so we decided eventually after customary faffing around to do W2 which comprises Whytes Level plus the Wall (geddit?). The route up to the top was still quite dry and therefore not too bad to get up although 10km of climbing is tough whatever the conditions. However the downs were really enjoyable, not too slippery but with enough roots and rocks to get you thinking. About half way around Whytes Level at the top of the “Energy” descent you take a fire road link to the Wall which then takes you down close to the Afan side of the park. Again the downs were fun – nothing too outlandish and fortunately no tabletops for me to crash on. Part way down we passed the B&B where Rob#2 and Chas were staying where it was unanimously agreed that camping was far better and who on earth would want a dry warm place to sleep with a slap up breakfast included?

From sWales'09

By this time it was also clear that Jonny had a level of fitness and speed that the rest of the group had not had for some time (if ever) so Darren cunningly managed a couple of pinch flats to give everyone a short break. Jonny soon realised that at our pace, he was never going to get home in time to baby sit the kids and with the fear of his wife’s retribution in his veins, set off for Glyncorrwg at a pace that beggared belief. For some reason I was nominated to go with him and there followed what felt like a lifetime (actually about 90mins) of gruelling climbs and seat of the pants descents with barely a break for banana bread between. I don’t remember too much of that part of the ride except falling off the north shore bit (no witnesses fortunately as Jonny was way in front by then) and arriving totally sh*gged back to the car at 3.45. Jonny leapt into his car and was home in two hours so clearly drives in the same way he cycles. The rest of the group arrived back about 30 mins later having spent the afternoon in the pub and cadging a lift back (that bit is not true btw). At roughly the same time we met with the Uphillas who were heading up for the second time to do the end piece of Skyline – which some of us managed to do on Sunday.

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting tents up, cleaning the bikes, drinking tea and beer with a great dinner in the café by the campsite serving up huge portions of lasagne and potatoes. More beer on the comfy seats followed by more beer back at Les / Darren’s place (ie tent) with cakes and crisps provided by Mrs Les. Unfortunately sleep was not easy to come by; Darren p*ssing into a glass and Dave’s snoring not to mention considerable contributions to greenhouse gases by some of the party, kept the whole site up until the early hours.

The next day dawned (eventually) and it was clear that the weather was going to be good. The Uphillas were not riding Afan (black mountain route which no doubt will be blogged in due course) so the remaining four went off up to the top again to do the bottom piece of Skyline. Sadly, Dave’s rear freewheel gave way part way up (it’s not as if it is under any stress is it?) so it was left to Darren, Les and me to struggle once again to the top – a quick couple of miles on the fire road to an intersection with the trail. Then down….virtually non stop perhaps 20 minutes of fast and furious descent with some big (for me anyway) drops swoopy curvy bits and twisty switchbacks. What an absolute hoot – overall a bit more difficult than previous day’s fare but more rewarding I think for being like that. By the end, Darren’s rear mech cable had failed so he was stuck in 8th but that just made him go faster so the small uphill bits without having to pedal. One of the best things about it was that because most of the trail was shut, virtually no one was to be seen and big thanks to Uphilla for working out the way off the signposted route.

We met up with Dave at the campsite and eventually Les and Darren left to get back to their loved ones…but not without having the largest bacon and egg sandwich ever in the Dropoff Café. Dave eventually managed to get the freewheel fixed and we went off to the other side of the park to do a ride there – Dozer will post that in due course.

Thanks to Dozer for organising a great weekend. Camping certainly added a dimension but unsure whether to be repeated….

More Pic's and also here.

Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Darren (Heckler), Les (Pitch), Jonny (Trek Fuel thingy), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: Damp on Saturday but mild. Sunday fine but overcast. Not bad for October in Wales!
Darren: 2x pinch punctures, rear gear cable failed; Dozer: rear freewheel failed; Willy: front and rear mech minor niggles.

Injuries: Dozer, minor scratch falling off going uphill.

Monday, October 05, 2009

AFAN Accommodation update

I've just returned from a weekend in Afan and thought I'd update all on a couple of recent developments that may be of interest:

1) Bryn Bettws Lodge has just been completed and sleep 40 with mini dorms accommodating between 2, 4 and 6 in a room all with en suite facilities. It's been open for just 3 weeks and it seems that I was one of their first guests. The accommodation is small but very new, clean and the wash facilities have a basic electric shower. At £25.00/night including a substantial cooked breakfast I'd recommend for a budget stay. The Kitchen breakfast facilities are also available at an extra cost for those staying in the log cabins too. It seems that the plan is for the lodge to offer evening meals and a licenced bar at some point in the future.

2) For those in search of very reasonably priced high quality food, an excellent bar or even plush accommodation I'd recommend I ate there on Saturday night. The food and bar atmosphere was excellent...highly recommend. Its so popular you need to book the restaurant or risk missing some fine scoff. Average price for a V large main course £10.00.

Hope the information is of some use

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Afan, 2-4th October

Anyone fancy another weekend in Afan? Hoping to do Fri 2nd - Sun 4th. To keep the costs down and make the organistation a lot easier, how about camping at the cente?

The cafe/bar stays open until at least 10pm (Fri & Sat), so if the weather is bad we can have some comfort in the evenings.



Wednesday, July 08, 2009

South Downs Way June 2009

SDW June 18th -20th

Following on from my previous Ridgeway rides, I felt it was time to move on to a new challenge. SDW was an easy choice, relatively close to home and highly recommended. A quick review of the official SDW map and a conversion to Tracklogs confirmed that although the SDW was a similar length to the Ridgeway (99 miles compared to 87) there is significantly more hill climbing. As a result I decide that it was best to attempt the ride over 2 days to ensure that plenty of time was available to enjoy the MTB and scenery. An epic endurance ride was not on the agenda. My original plan was to Blog invite the ride and organise a posse adventure. This soon became an unrealistic target when it became apparent that my preferred dates clashed with the Morzine trip and furthermore the realisation that decent B&B accommodation is hard to come by unless booked 6 months in advance! As a result the final ride team consisted of Rob, Mark (Ridgeway veteran), Chas and I. The basic itinerary for the ride was as follows:
  • Drive to Winchester, B&B to enable a reasonable am start
  • Day 1 Winchester start….ride 50miles to Tillington B&B/pub about 5 miles from SDW.
  • Day 2 Tillington start… ride 55 miles to Alciston B&B/pub about ½ mile from SDW
  • Day 3 Alciston to Beachy Head around 11 miles to finish.
Rob kindly volunteered to drive us all to Winchester where I’d found a low cost B&B for the night. Our plan was, whilst on route, to drop off overnight bags at the B&B’s for day 1 and 2. Nice idea but the result was a 4 hours journey to Winchester. In addition to this Rob had decided to carry all necessary spare clothing in his camelback which the rest of us considered to be an unusual and challenging approach to maintaining personal hygiene! Anyway, we eventually arrived at around midnight and set about parking and the unloading the car. The events of that first evening set the humorous tone for the coming days. Rob was slightly fatigued by the long drive and between spontaneous bouts of Terrets syndrome, smashed a flower pot parking his car and then had us all close to tears pointing out the all too obvious shortcoming of our accommodation. These were best summarised by the comments Rob found in the guest book posted by a previous traveler “fine location for helmet wearing midgets…please add to the list of places to bang your head..!” In spite of the space constraints and the fact that the bath room was too small for Rob or Mark to be able to use the toilet effectively, we managed a goods nights sleep and awoke ready for Day1.

Day 1:

Bikes ready and Camelbaks fully loaded with hydration fluid, energy bars and in Rob’s case spare underpants! we set off at round 10.30 am. However, we had only been riding for around 10 minutes when Rob noticed that Mark’s rear wheel hub had about ½ inch play in the bearings! Urgent repair required! Fortunately we managed to find a friendly bike store in Winchester who provided a temporary repair and our SDW journey had official begun.

The first 20 miles, a mix or generally flat gravel track and country lanes were by any standards very easy.. So much so that I was beginning to think that I would be at the B&B by around 3.00pm accompanied by three fellow riders wondering why we had not ridden it in a day!

However, not long after passing the 20 mile mark we met a local rider who duly informed us that the SDW was just about to become much tougher! From that stage onwards all was revealed! Classic SDW terrain. Very dry hard chalk or flint gravel tracks. Long grinding ‘granny cog’ accents followed by fast exhilarating descents….In general it was the length of the climbs not the steepness of the gradient that presented the biggest challenge. However, they were always made easier by the knowledge that there would be a rewarding decent soon after. Well this was at least the motivation during the early stages. Towards the end of the day the descents because a cause of anxiety as the mind began to prepare for the pain of another long climb! The most memorable decent of the day was a fast grass descent to the SDW trail centre during which Rob managed to exceed 40mph. For the remainder of the day we churned out the mileage and eventually left the SDW trail for a road hack to our B&B. B&B, food and pub beer were of the highest quality. We were able to take a shower, change our clothes and relax our aching legs whilst Rob (fresh from a change of underpants) provided a demonstration on how not to chat up an over developed 17 year old waitress!

Day 2:

The morning of day two presented us all with some anxious moments. By the end of the first day we were all fatigued and ready for a rest. However, we new that the second day was longer and had an even higher concentration of ascents and descents. We made a slow and tentative start to the day at around 10.00am. The gentle B road route back to the SDW trail helped us considerably to warm up but the track back to the top of the SDW ridge was fierce and steep and we all eventually dismounted to push the final few yards. Thereafter and for the first 10 miles the going was very enjoyable.

Similar to the first day, the route suddenly changes and once again threw a continuous serious of ascents and descents.

The condition of the trail and terrain combined with the fantastic sea vista presented us with some fantastic MTB riding. Tough climbs and fantastic descents…we all loved it. As a result by mid afternoon we were a little perturbed to find that our progress had not been as fast as the riding felt. We still had 20 miles of tough riding to complete and fatigue was starting to set in. Rob and I decided to set the pace. Within an hour we had made some good progress and the groups moral was now focused on the next B&B and pub dinner. Once again the trail had a few tough climbs for us to contend with but we eventually made the B&B at 8.00pm. We were fortunate to have chosen another excellent B&B and pub combination. Entertainment for the evening was once again provided by Rob’s use of his Terrets syndrome, homophobia, sexism, extreme right wing politics and a generally creative use of discrimination in every form. Another highly entertaining evening!

Day 3:

The start of day three presented a general feeling of relief amongst the group. We had over 100 miles riding behind us and what appeared to be like a relatively short and gentle 12 miles to the finish. In keeping with the previous two days the weather was fantastic and group spirits were high. We were initially met by another tough climb back to the top to the SDW trail. Thereafter and quite unexpectedly the SDW presented us with its final challenge. Two tough and long assents each climbing over 600 feet. The final long climb resulted in a clear and impressive view of our finish…..Eastbourne and Beachy Head. Essentially all down hill from here we raced down the final long decent and short road section to complete a memorable and very enjoyable ride.
We all enjoyed what the SDW had to offer. Without hesitation I’d recommend the last 60 miles to anyone. I will ride it again and when I do it’s this final section that I’ll head for. Physically challenging, great downhill fun and very scenic!

Final Mileage: 116 miles

Total Ascent: 13,300 feet


Rob, R2, Chas, Mark

Rigs: Canyon Nerve XC6 (R2 & Chas), Turner Flux (Rob), Specialized S/jumper (Mark)

  • R2…worn shock bushes creaking, sticky Oro brake lever.
  • Chas…None….new machine!
  • Rob…Rear mech/cabling issues
  • Mark…Rear Hub close to collapse, Sheered stem cap nut, puncture…general bike neglect issues!
Weather: Warn, Sunny, dry…..Perfect.

Injuries: Plenty of saddle sore, back spasms from granny cog climbing, aching legs, wild uncontrollable flatulence from Mark! Stomach Ache as a result uncontrollable laughter.

Memorable Moments: Mark soiling his shorts from over confident flatulence, Rob upsetting everyone he met, R2 for being too happy and chirpy on relentless climbs, Chas for polishing his new bike every day!

Next Challenge: Coast to Coast? Pennine Way?....

Friday, July 03, 2009

Morzine Day 6 - the final frontier

Last day of the epic visit to Morzine and the plan was to do a grand tour taking in Morgins (where we were stranded day 2), Champoussin and Champery. We made it up to the top of the Mossette lift (sans Uphilla due to continuing rear brake issues) but unfortunately the Swiss side looked very misty and rainy. Rather than risk another 40km road trip to get back to Morzine, discretion was the better part of valour and we turned around and went down the smooth looking fire track back to Lindarets that we saw each day from the chair lift on the way up.

From Morzine Day 6

Yet again, Dozer lived up to his navigation record and the trail was actually crap - rocky, unstable and never ending jaw breaking stuff - the only good thing about this trail was that we managed to get away with only one pinch puncture (Dozer again). After that disappointment we went up the Avoriaz and made our way back down to Morzine exploring some of the stuff up from the Super Morzine chair. One little cut off from the main trail looked interesting but unfortunately within a few minutes we were off the bikes struggling down a rooty extremely steep thing that only a lunatic (aka much better cyclists than us) would even attempt.

After a snack at the chalet we tracked up Pleney lift and after one pleasant blue down picked up Uphilla and lost Farqui so the posse stayed at 4. Up Pleny again and into Les Gets with some pleasant stuff on the more straightforward DH runs. The final curtain was a couple of beers in the bar on the way down into Morzine with the run into Morzine considerable more smooth and relaxed.

Overall a great way to end the trip!!



Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot) part, Les (Pitch), Uphilla (5Spot) part, Willy (Cotic)
Weather: absolutely fabulous sunny with little breeze and toasty warm.
Mechanicals: Dozer punctured.
Injury's: None really apart from a few bruises.
Cock up of the day: It did not rain in Switzerland after all so we could have completed the Portes du Soleil tour. Willy lost his lift pass.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Morzine Day 5

The day started with the Super Morzine lift and the schweet hack over to Les Brochaux/Les Lindarets where I came belting out of a rocky section, slithered through a wet dip stradling a rut and fortunately managed to collect the 4 or 5 tank slappers B)

Using the lifts :) we tackled the blue run twice at Avoidiaze but birthday boy (Willy) bust his seatclamp at the end of run#1 and had to slog back to Morzine for a replacement. Meanwhile we headed over to Les Crossettes and schralped the red run which had open, flowing berms but was quite steep in places.

From Morzine Day 5

Back at Point De Mossette we met up with Willy and took the GR5 we did earlier in the week. On this descent Dozer bust a tyre near the refuge and as it was open this time we decided to par-take of a brew. Back to the lift at Les Brochaux we head up to 2,277m again at Point De Mossette and this time we took the alternate GR5 around the back of Avoidiaze to Col De Caux.

The Col involved one heck of a hike a bike with short cranking sections in roasting heat all the way up to the summit - which straddles France and Switzerland.

On the descent we Les and I ended up racing down the awkward fireroad and sat patiently at a road crossing for the rest of our crew. Only to find that we'd missed a turn and they'd slithered further down the valley without us.



Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot), Les (Pitch), Uphilla (5Spot), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: absolutely fabulous sunny with little breeze and toasty warm.
Mechanicals: Willy's Hope seat clamp let go on the GR5, Dozer punctured, Uphilla lacking brakes, Farqui's leaking Pike.
Injury's: Farqui face planted on the GR5 escaping with a bloody ankle, Uphilla inner thigh scuff to compliment the pad rub.
Cock up of the day: Farqui lost yet another Floodgate adjuster - Willy's this time !

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Morzine Day 4 - Part 2

After a morning resting, fettling the bike and window shopping in town withdrawal symptons set in and despite black clouds I headed up the Pleney lift to try something local.
As soon as I reached the top the thunder started again and the lifts closed down, so my options were limited. I opted for one of the 'Blue' runs back down to Morzine, but in error started on part of one Black run and scared the s**t out of myself. Fortunately there were a few options and although the rest was fast and 'bermy' it was more 'blue' than black and I got down in one piece to find Dozer, Les and Willy back at the Ranch - Willy reclining in style in 'boxers' and ice pack.
The Alpine storm cleared enough and we could see the Pleney lift operating again, so three of us headed back up for more action.
First shot was the 'Blue' proper to the right of the lift, (our first sight of heavily padded trees!), - good flowing start and then the big berms, drops and finishing with a fireroad blast and a final few twists across the hillside back to the lift.
Back up the lift, and another blue down to Les Gets - much gentler than the last with a finish on the berms of the red back to the lift to keep us on our toes! Just in time to catch the lift back up.
A little bit of 'cross-country' back to the top of the Pleney Lift, (xc generally included a hike in these parts :-( ), and Dozer decided we would finish the day with a repeat attempt at the blue back home - all this to the accompaniment of Les's squeeling brakes.
It is worth saying that XC bikes are heavily outnumbered in Morzine and as the week goes by it is easy to understand why. A heavier, long travel bike with big tyres and a low saddle comes into its element here...



Posse: Uphilla: Turner. Dozer:Canyon, Les: Pitch
Mechanicals: None, (well Les's brakes were very noisy)

Morzine Day 4 - Part 1

Uphilla and Farqui decided to take the morning off - yesterday's experience in the storm was too much for them. Crew was limited to Willy, Les and Dozer with once again Dozer in charge of the map. Usual route down to Les Lindarets and then up to the top of Avoriaz - yes we found it finally. "OK we'll start with the blue or the green run off the top just to get ourselves warmed up" says Dozer - so what does he does he do but flies off the top of the red - despite the red sign and us shouting at him... hey ho, someone else will have to do the map reading tomorrow. Anyway we caught him up half way down "s**t this is a difficult blue" he says - now claiming he is colour blind...

Second time up and we go down the blue - much more suited to my style (and ability) and really good fun with nice berms and only the one table top to bottle out of (but see later...). So we decided to give that another go with Dozer placed strategically to take some cool shots of of the run down - see video attached. All went well until aforesaid table top, took it a bit quicker this time and found myself balancing on my front wheel down the far side before coming off....

At this stage things become a bit fuzzy with a bit of double vision and short term memory loss "where are we, have we been here before?" so sat down for a while remembering how many kids I have and what my wife's name is....

After that took it very slow down to the bottom (unfortunately without stopping to speak to Les's favourite English waitress at the lake) - back to the chalet for rest, neurofen, ice pack for big lump on thigh and then a sleep. I think the others (including Uphilla this time) went out in the afternoon whilst Farqui babysat and made sure I did not fall unconscious. See part two for the report of the real men who manage to say on two wheels...



Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Les (Pitch), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: Perfect
Mechanicals: Only the one puncture today - Dozer, not much else apart from stiff front mech for Willy caused by dimwitted assembly
Injury's: Farqui suspected tendonitis is much better but thinks he may need another soak in the jacuzzi, Willy rather bruised upper thing needs a massage plus sore head.
Cock up of the day: Table top....

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Morzine Day 3

Decided to go over to Switzerland agin today to Morgins via Chatel (France). So far Dozer has been in charge of the navigating - Day one planned to do the Passport du Soleil - got lost. Day two planned to go to Avoriaz (ended up in Champery - Avoriaz now renamed Avoidiaz) so we were all looking forward to the magical mystery tour that was to be day 3. In fact all went reasonably well for the first couple of hours, nice tracks beautiful weather as we made our way over to Chatel - but that is where things again started to go wrong. A track had been closed for forestry so the route into Chatel was a long hack on the road ending with a long drag of a climb. Still a nice gentle blue DH run awaited us in Chatel which actually started well until I punctured (3rd of the tour so far), then immediately Les did too, then Les again (he walked down after that). Still, great fun so we did it again and then started to make our way over to Morgins - big mistake - near vertical walk up and a buttock clenching descent with Les puncturing a further two times on the way down and incredibly Dozer puncturing whilst walking up - how the **** did he do that? Eventually made our way into Morgins on the road and Les punctured yet again as we got to the lift back towards home at around 3pm.

From Morzine Day 3

It then started raining, then hailing then lightening and thundering so much so that they shut the lift up and we had to get the Riders retreat guy (thanks Paul) to come and pick Les & me up so Les could cook dinner and then I could treck the 40km back again to pick up Dozer, Uphilla and Farqui in the car. We finally got back to the chalet at 8.15pm - has to be said morale was a bit low. Still with Les's curry to look forward to things are now a bit brighter. Will let you know how the curry is tomorrow - provided we are still alive :p



Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot), Les (Pitch), Uphilla (5Spot), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: absolutely fabulous sunny with little breeze and toasty warm followed by a bloody great storm at 3pm.
Mechanicals: More pinch punctures than has ever been recorded (one whilst walking uphill) Farqui's Pike still not well.
Injury's: Farqui suspected tendonitis (though we are doubtful that was caused by cycling), Uphilla inner thigh rub from pads (sceptical about that too). Willy - ant bites whilst fixing puncture.
Cock up of the day: Dozer for navigation and managing to delete all his photos - drunk again...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Morzine Day 2

Sunday, 28th June

From Morzine Day 2



We ended up in Switzerland today - Champery and found a whole heap of much more flowing trails that were great fun. Oh and it's high over there :p


  • Uphilla stacked on the G5 but his armour saved him
  • plenty of other minor stacks
Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot), Les (Pitch), Uphilla (5Spot), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: absolutely fabulous sunny with little breeze and toasty warm. x1 downpour mid afternoon
Mechanicals: Farqui's Pike decided to dump it's damping fluid (Floodgate cap gone and o-ring not sealing), Uphilla and Les replaced their brake pads. Willy and Les had a few pinch punctures.
Injury's: plenty more bruises

Ambergate Downhill 28 06 09

Gareth (friend from when I used to work for Nationwide) emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to ride ‘someplace’ on 28th and after a bit of searching about, and trying to locate somewhere that was under 2 hrs away and had an uplift service (this failed) we decided on ‘Shining Cliff Woods in Ambergate, near Derby. I’d been there a few times before and although the trek from the car park (read poorly surfaced lay by on a very steep hill) is about 500 MBUK miles from the trails, it’s worth it. The place is full of big boulders and roots and jumps and drops and berms and steepness.

The trails are ‘semi official’ and it seems that the riders have built up a good rapport with the locals and keep the trails to the bits you wouldn’t want to walk up anyway.

After a long ol’ slog on the M1 (speed limits enforced by average speed cameras, further enforced by a Mercedes having a blow out and bringing the north bound side to a standstill for about 15 minutes!) we arrived and set off down the newly smoothed out path and past all the derelict warehouses and factories. After several ups and downs we eventually reached the bottom of the main trails and set off up the track.

It was at this point that I was glad I hadn’t brought my body armour (although I usually wear it here due to the many pointy rocks!) and Gareth was regretting it big time. Although it was still a touch overcast from the morning’s fog, and the light was pretty poor in the woods, it was like a tropical garden in there. I could have showered in my sweat (probably).

Anyway, for a warm up we headed off down one of the swoopy, bermy and rooty tracks and ended up using about 10 different tracks on the way down as I entered corners with a little too much speed and ended up coming out of them on the wrong line, onto a different line. No matter though, they all end in the same place!

We slogged our way back up the hill for another run, choosing a rootier jumpy track that’s just flat out fast fun and after a few runs decided to head right to the top. Where it gets all rocky and steep! Some of the lines up the top are just insane. Steep corners on rocks, steep corners on rocks that have roots randomly growing inbetween them with trees as crash barriers… There are a few different options up here but I think my highlight is the trail that ends in this rock garden:

Before hand there are a whole bunch of rock gardens that you really have to commit to 100%. If you go in too slow you’ll stall and end up with a rock to the face… Pinning and just holding the front wheel straight and trusting your tyres and suspension to do the work was the way to do these.

After this we found a few more trails, with a sweet little drop onto a fireroad then off onto another trail with a steep bombhole and a rock garden that’s a good 2 or 3 feet of the ground… (???).

Our stomachs started complaining so we gave in and headed back to the car… only to get 75% of the way there for Gareth to realise he’d lost his goggles! Off he sprinted back up the hill only to return a few minutes later empty handed.

We fed and monster’d ourselves whilst Gareth reflected on the loss of his trusted goggles, “it gives me an excuse to buy some new ones”. Tsk tsk!

We figured we’d have a more thorough search after lunch just so we could feel happy we tried but this was fruitless so we carried on riding for another hour or so.

Utterly spent from sweating and pushing and sweating and pushing and swe.. yeah you get the idea, we took a final run down the fast jumpy track (although just in case we didn’t announce it was the last until we’d both safely made it to the bottom!) and blasted back down the fireroad to the car. Despite all the rock gardens with the tightly packed mech eating rocks, it was here that I got my only battle scar for the day… whilst flying down a particularly loose fireroad (back wheel getting a bit frisky) I heard some rock slam against the rim, taking a little groove out the side. Not bad, considering!

The day was topped off nicely by a pair of walkers approaching us and asking, “are these your goggles, by any chance?” Talk about timing and good fortune!

Overall the day was awesome, with some epically bumpy but fast and flowing trails. You also really get a feeling here that everyone (walkers and bikers alike) all get along.

Recently I’ve been feeling on a bit of a downer with DH, and begun to feel a bit despondent about it as I started to ride with less and less confidence. I started to feel utterly frustrated that I don’t even attempt stuff when riding DH whilst I don’t get this problem when riding my little XC hardtail. I even considered quitting and just sticking to ‘XC’ or whatever that thing is when you just get on your bike and go for a ride someplace that doesn’t require as much pushing as riding but today firmly put a stop to these thoughts. The Judge excelled, really eating everything I threw at it and for the first time since I’ve had it, it actually made sense. When riding the rock gardens and aiming for that pointy rock that will give a little kick to clear the next few rocks or holding it straight and true through the tech fests I was reminded of why I love DH so much. There’s still one jump there I wouldn’t try but next time…!

Posse: Dangerous Dave (Cannondale Judge DH), Gareth (Kona Coiler)
Weather: Foggy early on with the sun making an appearance later on. No breeze and toasty warm
Mechanicals: Warped disc caused irritating squeak on push ups but everything else stayed attached
Injury none!

Dangerous Dave is back, and now planning to ride every knarly DH track I can seeing as I'm not going to France this year!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Morzine Day1

Sunday, 28th June

From Morzine Day 1

The plan had been to miss the crowds and duck out of Morzine early (tick) and then head over Avoriaz/Chatel/Morgines/etc but as the route shows we ended up back at the start :rolleyes The descent was a mudfest of awkward slippery roots and was far from a gentle start to a weeks long riding.

We then headed over to Les Gets where we found the trails quieter, drier, more flowing and less rooty.

  • Uphilla stacked within the first few minutes, winded after landing on his chest
  • within a couple of miles Farqui decided enough with all this brake-on malarky and promptly parted company with his rig - kneeing a divot with his armour :p
  • plenty of other minor stacks


Posse: Dozer (Canyon), Farqui (5Spot), Les (Pitch), Uphilla (5Spot), Willy (Cotic)
Weather: absolutely fabulous sunny with little breeze and toasty warm
Mechanicals: Willy suffered from severe chain-suck, Farqui's FD required a reset, Les broke a spoke
Injury's: plenty of bruises

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Gap (extended)

Yesterday Uphilla, DDave and I made good use of the excellent weather cranking ourselves silly riding The Gap in s.Wales (nr Brecon). The day started early for DDave and I who drove there/back in the same day, meaning a 4.45am start for yours truly :o but behind the curtains lay clear blue sunny skies which soon cleared my groggy bonce. Prop's to DDave who was 100% keen with a fettled rig and at 6am was keeping an eye out for his "taxi". Several doses of strong black coffee later we found ourselves parking in Talybont-on-Usk when Uphilla rpuled up (he's camping nearby at Hay-on-Wye for the week). Under a mild sunny sky it didn't take us long to jump aboard our steeds and head off into the wilderness...

Along a tree lined track, with gradually improving views of the Talybond Reservoir the Taff-Trail provides a steady gradient for around the first hour albeit riddled with small rocks to focus your attention. Admittedly they weren't too much hassle for Uphilla and I on our plush rigs but poor DDave was getting a right batterin' on his h/tail.

Anyhoo, the trail then soon changed from the wooded climb into open moorland ranging from often steep rocky double track to boggy bits as we continued the grind upward. You're then confronted with what initially appears to be an increasingly steep, old road but it transforms into a rocky step fest that requires a level of riding prowess (and fitness) that none of us posses. After a short hike-a-bike the trail levelled before gently descending into a hard worn 4x4 tracks that provided numerous line choices complete with the odd puddle and rocky section to plant smiles on our chops.

Ducking down into the woods the trail became very rocky with plenty of loose rocks that could be heard pinging from our down tubes, rims, spokes, shoes, etc, etc. The mossy wood lined track continued downward eventually turning to asphalt where we cranked our way around to the picturesque Pentwyn Reservoir. A short section of asphalt then brings you to the Taf Fechan river crossing which marks the start of the climb up to The Gap.

A steady road climb leads into a steady off road slog around those ever present rocks as you winch your way skyward alongside Tor Glas. Should you look up there are lovely views of the Neudadd Resv's not to mention the Graig's. Not long after leaving the road you get a sneak peak at the The Gap that gradually gets closer and closer the more feet you crank yourself ever upwards.

Whilst I sun'd myself in the lea of The Gap I saw that the peaks were mobbed with folk and as we hadn't seen many walkers coming up our side of the trail I feared our descent on the Brecon side would be full of walkers. Considering it's a Bank Holiday weekend I was very pleasantly surprised to find our descent was only dotted with the odd grumpy. I wonder if we'd missed the morning rush up and our lunchtime descent meant clear trails - a point to consider for next time.

After a rest (and moan from DDave) we saddle up and cranked into The Gap...

Having tried and failed last time this section previously I was 1k% focused on clearing the next few feet of trail that gently dips between rocky outcrops cut into the hillside. I'd forgotten about the nasty steps that keep appearing yet with loose boulders flying and my suspension working overtime I dived in. Whoomp, slip, drop, twang, eek, drop, phew, twang, eek, drop and plenty of pullin' and a pushin' on the tiller had me spring back into daylight and the awesome view to Brecon. My companions were a little more cautious (perhaps I yelped too loudly!) and after a sneaky peek they both slithered and slipped their way through.

The next 6 miles are ever downward, first on the rocky boulder strewn summit before hitting a twisty asphalt lane all the way down to the pub at Groesffordd for a well earned brew. After braking hard into the many asphalt turns I was just thinking how lucky we'd been not to meet an oncoming car when a jeep roar nto view. Thankfully our anchors slowed us enough to slither safely past although I think we each flat spotted a knobbly ;-)

Re-fueled after a long cold beer and a bowl of tasty soup we headed off into the unknown (non of us had done this northern loop) and these 3 off roaders weren't prepared for what lay ahead. Mile after mile of asphalt :-( We initially thought we'd be ridding off road atop an nearby ridge but the route had us push well beyond that and into a sweaty panting distance past Llangors. With ever steepening roads we gratefully hit dirt again at Cockit Hill, unfortunately the trail was so steep that it we knew it meant another hike-a-bike. Oh how this short steep climb teased us into at least 3 false summits before we all collapsed near the top in the sunshine. The views were worth the effort though, as the valley beneath us was awesome complete with Llangorse Lake and The Gap in the distance.

With just one more climb to go (grrr) we cranked our way along grassy moorland trying to match up the trails with our GPS. It meandered gently down with the odd fast section but the grass meant cranking was mandatory for our tired pins. Uphilla even got carried away and dived off down the wrong way but soon came back after realizing, by which time a whacked DDave had caught up.

A short while later the trail dived down over blind crests which'd be fun to ride again now we know there's nothing too sinister on the other side. A few 2ft drops would also be fun to loft next time :B The trail steepens into tight switchbacks down into Bwlch before hitting a monster long asphalt descent to Llansantffraed which had me cranking and the guys slip streaming - come on lads, there's no "i" in team :x

Back at Talybont-on-Usk DDave whimpered that he never been so glad to see a VW Golf (his ride home) :lol The village had picked up a few visitors since we left and after securing our rigs we nipped into the local for another well earned brewski.

With plenty of techie climbs and descents The Gap loop is challenging and satisfying but throw in the northern slog and you've bagged yourself an Epic Ride. The northern leg adds extra miles, lots of ascending but IMO not the smiles you'd hope for. However this monster loop did help justify the long journey there/back.

Thanks to Uphilla for arranging the ride and DDave for keeping me company for the 6hr journey. Oh and prop's to Volkswagen for 50mpg+ with the bikes on the back :p



Posse: Farqui (5Spot), DDave (Solid h/tail), Uphilla (Ventana)
Mechanicals: None (amazing considering the abuse)
Weather: Absolutely fabulous darlings, barely a breath of wind and sunnier than I can remember in a long time

Saturday, April 25, 2009


This morning a bunch of my knobbly chums and I met up a few miles south of Watlington in another area boasting many a red kite swirling overhead. R2 had pulled together quite a tasty route that enticed even clipperty-clopperty Robbery out of knobbled retirement :p

The weather forecast didn't look promising but after driving thru a few small showers, saddlin' up and cranking a few clicks the skys brightened and the layers were removed. Reviewing R2's route we knew that it wouldn't be long before we'd be panting up another ascent. But "what goes up, MUST come down" and the pantin' was soon replaced with "whoops" :)

The route consists mainly of bridleways but as is the norm around here they're often dug into the landscape and provide excellent banked turns to liven up the long fast descents. Thankfully the drizzle hadn't turned the chalky ground into a quagmire but I can image the route would be a serious grind in the wetter months.

The MG club followed us through the back lanes for most of the day which reminded us how far the old tin-tops have come along these days.

In preparation for our summer Alpine assault I decided to boot up with moosive 2.5" DH knobblies and give the new rubber a pukka test. They didn't seem to drag on a recent Woburn but my oh my was I getting fed up of constantly crankin' the blighters up 3k ft+. The trade off were completely solid DH run's were I could pick'n'choose my line with greater confidence. Mind you on the last flinty descent I had to temper my rapid descent as the sole of my feet were getting pounded with rocks kicked up by the front hoop ! Yes DHilla, I've finally been converted to Maxxis!

With all the Canyon rigs on this ride I kinda felt left out on my hefty Turner. I know that my German climbs a darn sight easier with skinny 2.2's. The last few climbs were long and the gully up the final haul caught out the few who still had the legs to winch their way up.

Thanks to R2 for organising another great ride on some tasty trails.



Posse: Chaz (Nerve XC), Darren (Heckler), Dozer (Nerve ES), Farqui (5Spot), Rob (Flux), R2 (Nerve XC), Sicknote (Pitch), Uphilla (El Salty), Willy (Spesh h/tail)
Mechanicals: None - not even a flat tyre
Weather: Overcast clearing to sunny yet breezy

Sunday, March 29, 2009


It's been roughly 3 years (to the day) since I first rode Penmachno on a set of Marin trail weakened pins. Although "rode" isn't accurate as I was completely shattered and don't remember much except the never ending pain. Both Uphilla and I were keen to revisit this trail, this time on fresh legs and also try a new loop donated by the trail pixies.

With busy weeks behind us and daylight savings kicking in we decided on a later than normal start and took a leisurely amble up the autobahn arriving at roughly 1pm, in glorious sunshine. Now don't get carried away, this is Wales and it's fickle weather also supplied a fairly brisk'n'chilly breeze that kept us from standing idly around. Although with knobblies promptly unloaded we didn't need any further encouragement to leap off up the fireroad...

My ride buddy has a fresher and more favourable recollection of this trail which helped spur on his wibbly wobby legs. After a couple of tentative opening sections (these trails ain't like those in the flat lands) we started to find our groove and start hammerin' along. The original trail follows the hillside in/out/up/down and is a relatively point'n'shoot afair with plenty of grip on hand 90% of the time. The other 10% was spent "catching" ourselves from near tumbles :p

The extended loop starts with a long fireroad descent (boo) but then show us some crackin' flowing singletrack that tempts you to lay off the stoppers and keep your speed up. Until it all gets too much and your forced to reign yourself in (a little) - beltin' stuff.

During my first visit I don't recall the wonderful almost panoramic vista of the Snowdon range, complete with snow capped peaks - awesome.

The new loop also has some of the longest board walk I've ever ridden. It's also got a fair number of turns that keep your focus at 110% Oh and a part fallen tree almost forces you to slow and duck underneath...tempting you to dab, but on we soldiered :-)

Shortly after the start I was grateful to find that the climbing eased off to a nice gradient with plenty of steady winches through rock gardens to keep you focused. The exposed, pedalie open section of the original is still there...along with the same 'orrid head wind :x

Unfortunately I missed my ride buddy take one of his now typical over-the-bars dive on a hidden dip that suddenly reared itself. Thankfully he came out unscathed.

Although the car park busier than we've ever seen it, we only saw two riders on the hillside so pretty much had the place to ourselves :thumbu

Worth the trip.


Posse: Farqui (5Spot), Uphilla (5Spot)
Mechanicals: None
Weather: Bright'n'sunny (no really!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Formula Oro K18 FCS adjuster conversion

I recently upgraded a set of Formula Oro K18 brakes to K24 spec by adding the K24 master cylinder piston and FCS adjuster. The total cost of upgrade for front and rear is around £25.00. The addition of the FCS adjuster enables the front and rear brake lever travel to be adjusted in order to ensure even/balanced application of brake force front and rear.

Exploded parts diagram and spares listing at

It's a simple upgrade and here are some pictures to demonstrate the procedure. I hope its' of use to bloggers with K18's.........

Here are the spare parts kits purchased form

The piston kit consists of a piston, seals, spring/plunger and seal grease. The FCS kit has the FCS adjuster, seal and C clip fastener.
The following picture shows how to access the master cylinder by removing the brake lever (note the small lever shaft retaining grub screw) which once removed then enables removal of the shaft and lever and provides access to the piston retention C clip. Once this is removed the whole piston assembly and FCS adjuster can be easily used to replace the original K18 piston assy.
I have already substituted the K24 spec piston and FCS adjuster in the picture shown.
Here is the re-assembled piston, C clip and retaining screw just before its assembly back into the master cylinder.

Finally, here is the master cylinder re-assembled and ready to use!

Chiltern Ride Invite

Ibstone - Chiltern Ride Invite...........

Ibstone is located between High Wycombe and Henley On Thames and is in close proximity to the nearby 'Ridgeway' village of Watlington. Watlington already has two blog posts. The first an MBR killer route, the second a fine route posted by Uphilla. It's a great area for riding and admiring stunning views, not to mention some decent MTB hills! The proposed route is just over 23 miles with 3100feet ascent. It should be a great ride to exercise the legs and lungs prior to summer or a trip to Morzine!

The proposed date for the ride is Saturday April 25th and you can see from the route map that the start point is in located close to the Pub at Ibstone Green. The time of ride is flexible as long as it allows for suitable refreshment in the pub ride!

Let me know if you are interested.


Monday, February 23, 2009

DW Turner 5 Spot

Hello Dudes

Here’s my latest bike; I decided purchase the new DW Turner 5 Spot, this was a little risky because I tested the Ibis Mojo (DW Suspension) last April and hated it. The Mojo didn’t engage the trail and felt lifeless compared to my HL 5 Spot.

We rode Dalbeattie Red last weekend and the new 5 Spot is tremendous, does every my HL 5 Spot did but better, thank goodness the bike rides like a Turner.

It climbs better than the HL 5 Spot\TNT RFX; I managed to get further on one section, when you get the power down, it feels as though the back wheel just digs in. The handling is superb and it corners like it's on rails, I had no problem jumping off stuff and it was very very smooth down the qualifier to the Slab.

The DW Turner 5 Spot did feel a bit sketchy coming down Moyle hill (rocky downhill section) compared to the RFX, but I’m running a lighter wheelset, so going to try the DT 5.1’s on it.

I did have a few pedals strikes, also I clipped my heal on the elevated chain stay.

I missed the gravity dropper soooooooooo much, so need to sort that out. Also I need to get a bash ring, as the rocks at Dalbeattie just ate the race face ring.
Its 27.84lbs and the full spec is here

See you on the trails