Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Jacobs Ladder

A few weeks back the Notts contingent took a sunny drive over to Derbyshire to see what Jacobs Ladder is like when the weather is good.

It's been 7 years since we last rode it (time flies) and the hills are still as steep as we remembered.  The Chapel Gate climb out of Edale has been resurfaced and the deep ruts replaced with a slippery scree.  T'was at this point that my pal found his rear gear cable was hanging on by a thread and that he'd lost his lowest gears - doh, your going to need them.

The decent past the Cairn Circles is fast and technical and best of all goes on for ages, as do all the DH's on this ride - along with the ups :-(  The next climb is okay if you're fit (we aren't) and the decent to Coldwell Clough is a belter.

I remember the final climb up to JL being an okay grassy climb but it's now a tight, fenced in track with lots of water ruts and loose boulders.  We'll be pushing this then.

The drop down Jacobs Ladder (riding it the correct direction!) is still as challenging, fun and to be taken with great care is places.  The route wasn't awash with walkers either, they get steps down the side of the ladder anyhoo.

Posse: Farqui (5Spot), Roger (FSR)
Weather: bloomin marvelous (too hot)
Mechanicals: nil






Saturday, August 31, 2013

Glentress

Hey bloggers, long time no post. Found myself visiting family in Peebles at the tail end of this week so it wouldn't be right to go all the way up there and not check out Glentress, part of the 7 Stanes network of trails (of which I've now ticked off 4). This review takes a bit of an alternative look, though, because I was accompanied by my daughter of 6 years old and an adult rider unaccustomed to serious off-road MTB. On top of this, my absence from the trails for far too long has meant my fitness isn't what it should be (although I was pleansantly surprised to find it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be), so we ventured on nothing more than blues, a green and a brief section of red.

So, what faces you at Glentress?

The visitor centre down at the base of the forest provides a small but excellent shop providing many a demo bike and juicy offers, plus the usual cafe and £3-all-day parking. It's all very new (less than 2 years old I believe) and excellent quality; very classy looking.

You can drive to the middle of the trails and park in Buzzard's Nest too, if you prefer (or have a friend who can uplift you there to save the climb). Less facilities here (just 3 portaloos) but it's more central to the trails. However, if you plan on enjoying the final run of the trails down the hill to the base, you'll be faced with a fair climb back up to your car.

We had cycled in from Peebles so had already covered just under 2km, so while the adults were capable of cycling up to Buzzard's Nest, it was a bit beyond a 6 year old... muggins ended up pushing two bikes instead, so if you can get a lift up for kids it will save their legs for the important stuff.

We took the little'un to the skills loop just down from Buzzard's Nest, where she practised her log run balance and handling of yumps and berms. This is an excellent little area where your kids can build their confidence up for what faces them on the trails; there are some small graded loops that show them what to expect if they want to trek out to one of the proper trails. Daughter fully confident, we ventured off to the green loop on the west edge of Glentress ("Roundhouse"). This is a lovely, short and easy green loop then any newly-found MTBer will have no problem traversing. My daughter managed it with no falls, no dabs but just one minor stop on the initial climb where she failed to anticipate a climb and lost momentum. Nothing dangerous and it teaches her the art of conserving momentum!

We then took an unmarked fireroad exit out of the park to the west and back to Peebles via Janet's Brae, and called it a day for day 1.

Returning the next day, this time with a car in tow full of family, we revisited the green loop with daughter. With confidence from the previous day, she enjoyed the trail even more and she couldn't resist a play in the skills area once more. But then it was time for the adults to break off for an afternoon and sample something a little more challenging.

As said before, we were taking things easy on this visit so I'm afraid I can't do the place full justice - we only sampled the blue route really. We started from post 11 at Buzzard's Nest, a short fireroad hack takes you to post 13 where we followed the blue/red east, climbing up a number of switchbacks. The climb burnt my withered legs a little and by the time we reached post 15 I was feeling the lack of saddle time. Another pretty boring climb up to post 24, then fireroad climb to 17, meant so far I wasn't "feeling it" much.

Here we split from the red, following the blue fireroad route over to post 43 and the start of Betty Blue. Unfortunately, Betty was in some state of disrepair and the makeshift trail that bled away all our gained height didn't really do much for me. We soon find ourselves back on fireroad, heading back west to post 16 again. In hindsight, I can't really recommend this section of blue much until Betty's fixed - the red is probably a better bet (Spooky Wood).

We're staying off reds for the sake of my 'fresh' riding buddy, so Hit Squad Hill takes a miss as we fireroad it round, past Pie Run and rejoining the red/black at Magic Mushroom. This takes us back across to post 57, then a 200yd fireroad stretch south-west to post 31 and the top of the final return descent back to base. Falla Brae is a short, fast and flowing run with a few small options for air-time, then we split at post 32 and take "Good Game" down the side of the hill and past the Go Ape activities. "Good Game" is fun - it's childs play, fast and flowing with neat little jumps (all offering you the option of an easy bail-out for the 'green' ones amongst you) and it's a nice unwind towards the end of the route - no effort, all fun.

"The Admiral" - the final blue section - is of a similar vein but over just as you get into it. A short fireroad drop back down to the main car park and it's the end of day two.

Verdict? Marvellous - typical quality you'd expect if you've ridden any of the other 7 Stanes sites. The blue route is pretty mild and more fun is to be had at the lower sectio below Buzzard's Nest - the effort for the upper section doesn't seem to offer much by way of reward. I think the red route is really one to look into for a better level of reward but unfortunately I wasn't able to venture along it this time, let alone the black. The greens on offer are perfect intros for kids or newbies; nothing intimidating and very enjoyable.

The trails do offer a good selection of fireroads and cross-overs so it's actually very easy to tailor your route to something more along your needs (ie. shorten the black, or tie together a number of different routes). Facilites are excellent and it definately gets my thumbs up. I will return!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Watlington Ride August

Anyone around for a Watlington ride in August. I'm available for the first three weekends in August and happy to plan a route. I suggest a good meeting point is Watlington town centre. The car park is right next to a nice pub for post ride debriefing....

R2

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Lakes- Exploring the North

To be honest I have been intrigued by the idea of riding in the Lake District for years and perhaps a bit apprehensive having walked there in the past. It is also 4 hours away!
Last year I finally managed a day riding in the South Lakes around Ambleside with a combination of trail centre and natural riding. The 'natural' riding was one of the best days I have had on the bike despite wind and rain, so I finally 'got' the appeal.
I have since been reading the "Lake District Mountain Biking" Book form Vertebrate Publishing and had suggested North lakes could be an option for a weekend away. Out of the blue the chance to do a 'recce' came up this month sharing the trip with a walking buddy and so I found myself in Keswick youth hostel for a couple of days exploring.
There were a number of options for routes. My first idea was to try the Winlatter Trail Centre and then try a natural route. There were two obvious choices - The Borrowdale Bash, (just featured in Singletrack mag), and  a Skiddaw loop. With some advice from the STW Forum I decided to do the two natural trails with Whinlatter as a bad weather back up.
The plan for Saturday was the Skiddaw route as it was over 30 miles, but the morning brought rain and low cloud, so reluctantly I gave up this idea and headed for Whinlatter.
There were a few hardy mountain bikers there, but I passed many more road cyclists on the way up - I guess Winlatter is one of the 'passes' that people try to do in a day, there are a number of road challenges in the Lakes. The rain was still coming down heavily, but I set off on the blue trail for a 'warm up'. This was quite a testing trail, more so with the rain. Maybe it was the weather, but way marking did not seem that good and with a closed section diversion I found myself going around in circles! So, I set off again, on the red this time. The terrain is challenging and steep and I found one of the climbs to be the steepest I have come across in a trail centre. Once again I lost the trail and ended up back at the car park. The mistake I made at this point was to stop because I very soon felt chilled. With the rain still pouring down I decided to call it a day. From what I saw I would like to try this centre again, in better weather. Cafe seemed good, there is a bike shop, but parking was a massive £6.90.
Lonscale Fell
After killing a few hours in the town the rain finally stopped and with some fresh kit on I set off to do part of the Skiddaw loop by Threlkeld and up to Lonscale Fell. Heading up the bridleway from Threlkeld soon reminded me what attracts people to the Lakes - the scenery was fanatastic and very soon a sense of remoteness set in. Lonscale Fell is well know for some tricky rocks and narrow hillside trail. It did not disappoint and I took it very carefully being on my own. Most is ride-able if you are brave, though maybe easier when dry. After Lonscale you meet the Skiddaw summit trail and from this point there is a fantastic downhill for about 2 miles! Ended the day with a big grin and back to the hostel for a shower, beer and good grub!
Sunday Morning was better, so off to tour Derwent water. Locals had given me some 'extra' off road bits to try, but as there was still much wetness I gave these a miss and headed up the road to Watendlath - a climb that proved less difficult than predicted. Once again scenery, views and remoteness were features of the route. The tiny hamlet of Watendlath does have a tearooms though!

I knew the descent to Rosthwaite was challenging, but it was certainly more technical and rocky than expected (and wet!). So was ultra-cautious and walked anything that I felt unsure about. It reinforced the message from the previous day that the Lakes is not really a place to ride on your own and on this basis missed out the Castle Crag descent, said to be even more tricky!
Despite the weather I had a great time. Keswick or Ambleside are good bases for rides and as long as you accept that you may have to push and carry at times the riding is top class! Got to go back and do these two properly in better weather! Also tempted to do Skiddaw summit as it offers the longest downhill run in England.







Sunday, April 07, 2013

Anyone for Cannock Sun 28/4

Hi Everyone,
after a very muddy winter we are back off road again and fancy a sneaky Sunday ride, somewhere other than Beds. To keep things simple we are heading off for just a day to Cannock on Sunday 28th April, should be there for around 10:30.

Let us know if anyone else is interested in joining us.

Looks like some sections of the Monkey trail and Follow The Dog may be closed, but I am sure there will be enough to keep us going for the day?

Cheers.... Dozer, Darren, Sicknote and Les.

Monday, January 07, 2013

2012 Alps WhiteRoom MTB trail Video


Alps! 2012 from Nick Jones on Vimeo.

Here is a great Video taken by Nick Jones from the 2012 'WhiteRoom Chalet' Alps MTB trip detailed in a previous post.

R2

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