Thursday, 14 December 2017

a tale of two snow rides, ride 2, the reality

two days after the amazing snow biking day and we've had significantly more snow overnight. what a difference this has made. the snow is now deep! the consequence of this is to increase the effort needed to power the bike along twofold at least. the trails that had been compacted by other bikes and snow users were great and a real hoot but off piste riding was a real effort, so was the crazy wind. the wind had also caused very deep drifts that stop the bike dead when you ride into them. unfortunately the rider doesn't stop so quickly and they carry on, leaving the bike very inelegantly to hoots of laughter from the other riders.
I'm not complaining though, it was something i'm so glad i experienced even if it was exhausting. there were other effects of the deeper snow too. my rear brake also froze on every climb, the frozen snow making the pads stick open. this took a bit of commitment to then throw myself down the next hill knowing there'd be no braking until friction heat melted the ice enough for the pads to move
we'd had fun on beacon hill two days ago but conditions there had changed dramatically, there were drifts over my knees in places, thank goodness for a frame with lots of standover
another visit to Lizzies just to show our support (ok, have a warm and cake!) was done and for once no one minded riding back up the step hill as it was a great way to warm back up after sitting stil for a while in a warm room and coming back out into -4 degree conditions
I'm glad to experience this weather but i'd prefer the much ore riding friendly conditions of Friday. but to be honest i'll take the deep stuff again any day! . 
ride 89
13 miles
total 1878

#fatbike #mtb #smokestonebikes #mudjugger #wrenfork

Snow comes to the NWAlps....finally!


so the promised snow came, the first significant snow in the area since i bought my first fat bike 3 years ago. I cannot tell you how excited i was!
Luckily it coincided with my day off from work so i had a proper snow day!. i arranged to meet Russ at 1030 but i was too impatient to get out there and left the house at 0930 to do the 15 minute ride to the meet point. the fat bike just coped so well with the 3 inches or so of snow that was on the ground. the more i pedalled the more confident i got at trusting that there was going to be some grip. sat down position was best to get more traction to the rear wheel. conditions were perfect, virgin uncompacted powdery snow iis very grippy. this also means it takes more effort to propel yourself forward though so the ride was a proper workout. Howard met us after his work day was cancelled and we went to play on Beacon hilll, the traditional place to sledge as there's a big slope down to the golf course. slaloming a fat bike over the lumps and pumps of the golf course was brilliant fun with minimum risk of injury as the snow was so deep and soft here.
we then headed over to Waseley on the way to Lizzies farm, we went this way to avoid potential problems with the icy lane down to the cafe. I'm glad we did though as the ride down the hill was fantastic with the added adrenaline rush of not quite knowing where the potential deeper snow was as it had begun to drift on this side of the hill. we encounter stampeding sheep and i had to remove ice from my beard before going inside, which hurt a lot!
what a day, great fun and there's more snow forecast!
ride 88

17 miles
total 1865


#fatbike #mtb #smokestonebikes #mudjugger #wrenfork


Monday, 4 December 2017

the recovery ride

after two days of riding, quality beer and food.....omg the food....and cheese....what was needed was a quick ride to blow away the cobwebs before returning to the NWAlps. Judy and Roy devised a ride, once again a stunner, lots of sand, quality singletrack and narrow gulleys that finished at a cafe before a gentle ride back to base. the perfect end to a great weekend of fat bikes and friends
ride 87
11 miles
total 1848

People who go the extra mile

There are lots of people in this world to admire. those that do heroic things, make sacrifices for others or in some way are inspirational. we could all name a few of the high profile ones i'm sure but there a lot of unsung heroes who go unnoticed and prefer it that way because they think they are doing nothing special, it's their daily routine, it's how they choose to live their lives.
I'm going to embarrass Judy and Roy now, I'm not going to give their Surnames as publicity is not what they crave. in fact if what they do just gets one more person to ride a bicycle i'm sure they would think all their hard work was worth it.

Judy and Roy organise the annual Frensham Foray fat bike ride on global fat bike day and this is the third year they have done it. they don't do it for money, there is no entry fee, all you need to bring to ride is a fat bike and a smile. they go out of their way to plan the route, organise free food (i say free but they are actually paying for it, sorry embarrassing them again) and a trip to a brewery mid ride. it's all so slickly run and they make it look easy. it isn't easy though, there is a lot of stress involved, as there's no fee there's no guarantee anyone will turn up and the food will be wasted, will people like the route? will the weather play ball? it is December in the UK after all. they could just as easily just go for a ride themselves without all this hassle but they don't because they are good people. they are generous with their precious time and always have a smile. they are such positive people it's hard not to be the same in their company, it's infectious.

I've known Judy and Roy for at least 5 years and i can honestly say I'm a better person now than i was before just from their enthusiasm, kindness, generosity, and positivity rubbing off on me. I'm not perfect, i need a Judy hug now and then to top up my glass half full demeanor and a telling look from Roy over his spectacles when i say something daft, usually involving beer.

they are human though and they were visibly relieved after the ride when everything had turned out perfect, the smiles were there all the time, they just got a tiny bit wider back in the carpark at the end.

now i've gone and done it, they will probably be deeply embarrassed but anyone who has ever met them knows these facts anyway, it's not breaking news. If only a few more people were like these two the world would definitely be a better place and there'd be many more people riding fat bikes!

oh and the ride? best route so far, certainly the warmest weather and the brewery now has a tap room with heating!! I'm sorry to the young lady i spilt my beer over though, she was nice enough to say it didn't matter but i'm sure smelling of beer on the way home wasn't how she envisioned the day!

so sorry Roy and Judy, but also not sorry, thanks so much for organising this and for just being you. 
ride 86
24 miles
total 1837

Surrey Hill delight


I was down south in the tropical paradise that is the Surrey Hills for this ride. met up with some great friends who know the area like the back of their hands which was just as well as i'd have got lost instantly. the very sandy terrain is made for fat bikes though and after the second beer i didn't worry where we were!
ride 85

11 miles
total 1813

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Beach Baby, Beach Baby, give me your hand...

cheeky riding, it's an emotive subject. In England, unlike Scotland we don't have the chance to ride any where we want to. access is restricted. designated footpaths are out of bounds for bicycles unless you are pushing them. we are confined by the bylaws that say bicycles are only allowed on bridleways, byways open to all traffic (BOAT) or roads used as a public path (RUPP), green lanes and permissive paths. sounds like there are loads of options right? well no, it all depends on your area. locally here there are a few bridleways and paths in a very heavily populated few square miles and there can be conflict with other users.
The NWAlps group are very careful not to antagonise these users, after all we are all out there to enjoy the countryside and the last thing anyone wants is an argument or the very worst an injury
so it was with mixed feelings we ventured onto the reservoir sand. this is usually at least 15ft deep with water but has been drained for a week or two and it was just too good an opportunity to miss....and the gate wasn't locked. 
it was a mix of sandy soil at the top and very squelchy mud nearer the water line. we didn't linger just marvelled at the probably once in a lifetime chance to ride here. we can tell everyone in the future that "we rode our bikes on the bottom of that" as the yachts sail past and they will probably look at us as if we were mad. at that point i'll whip out the photos and just grin at their disbelief.
ride 84
21 miles
total 1802

Sunday, 19 November 2017

the ride after the night before

after a great night of music and beers i felt, lets just say a little below par this morning, so did Dan but for other reasons, so a small ride was prescribed, take one bike, mix with mud applied liberally to the affected areas and this should clear up after about 10 miles.
and so it was, anyone who knows me or follows the blog wouldn't be surprised how fast i can move when there is cake involved and my performance today just confirms it
ride 83
11 miles
total 1781

mid week hump ride

unusual wednesday off today so of course i went out for a ride, just to Waseley and then a play in the woods, conditions better than expected but as you can see some places are pretty cut up and boggy. it certainly gets your adrenaline going when you attempt to ride down something like this. this is "certain death", the camera always makes things look less steep than they are and this is no exception. it's also a rooty drop in at the top. i dropped in at ususl angle and it all went rong from there. sideways and with the back wheel trying to overtake the front it was a pinball like ride down through the narrow gaps in the trees, over log drop and into the washed out stream bed. miraculously i survived the trip including the drop down to the road and stayed on the bike the whole way down! 
ride 82
15 miles
total 1770

Leaf surfing


Autumn has come with a thump, suddenly there is deep leaf litter covering very soft ground. time to learn how to ride slick roots and mud again. Time to get those summer tyres off and exchange them for something with more bite.
ride 81
21 miles
total 1755

Saturday, 11 November 2017

a play in the woods

after last weeks long ride and the resulting continuation ofillness i was determined to not overdo things this week however desperate i was to get out.
So i just went for a play in the woods, sessioning a couple of trails and not really going far. Luckily having a day off in the week meant the woods were quiet and i could lurk about taking pictures of myself.
I do wonder what people think when they catch sight of me with a camera and a bike in the middle of no where running back up a trail to get into position before the timer expires and the camera starts snapping pictures Probably think I'm as mad as i often feel doing it!
so with 14 miles in the bank i was home, feeling ok and hoping that there isn't of last weeks relapse
ride 80
14 miles
total 1734