Mountain Bike Shenanigans

WooHoo it’s the Holidays
June 30th, 2006

Tomorrow I’m off and heading south towards Europe and the Alps. It’s going to be ace. No updates for a couple of weeks and pretty much as soon as I land back in the UK it’ll be time to start getting ready for 24/12. Photos from Eastnor are now up here the ones with a distictive Indy Fab theme are lurking over at

Line them up...

Over at Singletrack’s IMBA forum discussion about the merits of Northshore are still going on. I’ve been following it and finding it quite interesting. I think these comments from Mr Fish are really some of the best I have heard yet:

still, rules, regulations, plans, ideas etc etc are all open to different interpretations and if i don’t like the sound of something i will say so, like for instance building lots of easy low level NS stuff without some sort of progression to MUCH bigger stuff is just wasting time and energy and making it not that envoirmently sound as peeps will get bored and go off where you can’t see them and build there own big stuff (shonky shore) on your fc land with no control, still have an accident and still sue you for it whilst still not hitting your target audience of teen scum/fat kids because its low and… well sod it …gay

Amen to that. Check out the fall out here. On a final note the Digital Camera Magazine competition is open to everyone and why not…

Mountain Mayhem 2006
June 29th, 2006

I rocked up at Mountain Mayhem about 9pm said hello to the Jim Morrison and his friends, setup the tent (having cocked it up the first time I eventually remembered that the long poles support the inner), cracked open some beers and set off in search of food. The catering tent didn’t appear on the radar until the next day, the night before was spent watching Roam in the big Singletrack tent and then getting leathered in the Heckler’s Corner with the cheeky clique.

Saturday was largely spend rehydrating and trying to recover from a monstrous headache. Breakfast didn’t really happen. I managed to queue, get food and make it to a table where I contemplated my collection of hash browns, sausages and beans and tea, before deciding it was all too much and I had to go for a lie down behind the food tent. Eventually I summoned up the strength to crawl back to the table recover my food and return to a foetal position under the shade of a tree to bemoan my excessive alcohol consumption and pick at my fry up and curse the loss of the tea that was sent flying as I staggered back.

At some point Nige Harris and Jam Price arrived and delivered lots of west midlands humour, team moral, support and a good opportunity to talk about porn. Inevitably we talked about Indy Fabs a lot and then before you knew it 2pm had snuck up and it was race time. Jam did the run and carried one for two laps. I ended up last man out around 5pm. The first two laps were fliers. The next two laps started well, but I went too hard on the first and my forth lap was marked by the dreaded stomach cramps leading to a need for a lie down at the top of the course to stretch and relax. Hence an extra 15 minutes to the lap and a recognition that I was a lot better off only going out for one at a time from then on.

The dawn lap was ace. The baking heat that had been radiating up off the grass was gone, it was warm but not sticky and close and there was a cool breeze. It was a cracking lap. Lap six I later realised had been completed without the transponder on and the final lap was undertaken only about five minutes before the 2pm race end. We ended up 44th in the Race Results, but given my cock up with the transponder would have been 35th in the mixed men otherwise. Hell if I hadn’t done such a shocking lap in the night we could probably have made it 36 laps and climbed into the low 20s. Anyway it was still the best 24hr I’ve done in a long time and I’m really glad to have raced.

Unfortunately as a result the Magura riders have gone down in my estimation too. There was a big difference between the professional riders on the Scott and Giant teams who were patient and courteous (and went on to finish 1st and 2nd) and at least one of the riders racing for Magura. The bridges in the singletrack at the top of the course after the long climb really were not wide enough for over taking. Still a certain Magura rider saw a gap that didn’t really exist and went for it.

According to this thread on Singletrackworld I wasn’t alone in my experience of being buzzed. Whilst I am not going to be put off buying Magura kit (it’s ace stuff after all and in fact since the race I’ve ordered some of these bad boys), I would agree with this comment from Clubber:

“Being sponsored, I’d suggest that not pissing people off is even more important. Maybe it’s going too far not to buy Magura kit but it’s the only way I’ve got of making my point (I did consider finding someone from the Magura team but TBH I was too knackered to want to do anything other than head back to our camp). Team managers should be falling overthemselves instilling the importance to their sponsored riders of making a good impression. Either that’s not happening or the riders are ignoring it.

And for the record, I’m not someone who doesn’t understand what it means to be a serious racer but the fact is that if you do SSMM, you’ve got to accept that you’re going to be held up at some point. Acting in an arrogant way isn’t excusable under the guise of ‘racing’. As usual, the really top riders (Giant and Scott) seemed able to overtake without pissing off anyone I’ve heard of.”

I’m a big guy and I can take being buzzed by someone who was a faster rider on the day. My problem isn’t with being overtaken, it was the execution of the manoeuvre and the timing. I’m also concerned that another less experienced rider could have had a really nasty off and ended up getting taken down badly and getting injured. Despite the drama, the course was in my humble opinion on of the best 24hr courses in recent years.

Yes it might have benefited from being a bit longer. Especially at night you could see the riders bunched up quite a lot, but that was mostly on the climbs and on the flat sections people did become a lot more spread out. However the shorter course did allow riders to double lap if they wanted to do a longer ride or just go out for one as they became more tired. Out team tried both and it worked for us really well.

I think the important thing to remember is that the course was being ridden by many riders for whom this might have been their first ever race or at least their first ever 24hr. As such the course did I think meet the need to cater for every one. If you were fast the challenge was to peg it through the Singletrack and not clip a tree with your bars or shoulder or to ride the Kenda climb in the middle ring. From my point of view as a singlespeeder, the fact the whole course was ridable mostly seated was a big advantage.

In summary then a cracking course, a lot of which could be seen from the campsite which added to the excellent atmosphere and creative heckling. Big respect to the course designers and a big thanks to Pat for putting on another year of great racing for us all. To finish off this post,  Andy Armstrong started this SSMM06 Group at Flickr, there’s an interesting Caption Comp here and quite how this guy managed to get his leg stuck in a frame is quite mind boggling. Good effort there chief. Singletrack race photos are here and finally here are Joolz Dymond’s pictures.

Best 24hr Race Ever
June 26th, 2006

The sun beat down, the rain kept away, the course designers had excelled themselves. It was a great weekend and I had a fantastic time. More photos and a proper race report soon.

Just before the start at SSMM06

Eastnor Tomorrow
June 22nd, 2006

The race team will be heading off to Eastnor Castle and the Malverns for Mountain Mayhem tomorrow. I did the big shop yesterday and am pretty much ready to go as soon as I get home from work tomorrow. Singlespeed, mud tyres and a range of gears and I’m hoping that the weekend and my racing is going be be okay. The forecast isn’t much to go on. I guess everyone will soon find out what the conditions are going to be like for the race.

Malvern's Forecast

Morning Post
June 22nd, 2006

On Tuesday morning as I battled against tiredness to drag myself out of bed, the thought that Harry Halls had been completely refitted and changed into an ultra modern palace of bike bits, rather than an Aladdin’s cave, entered my mind. To be sure I wasn’t just imagining things, I dropped in on my way home last night and picked up some bits for Mountain Mayhem this weekend.

Mel was in with her partner and they were sorting out bikes for the Manchester to Blackpool ride. Mel worked at Harry’s the year I started there and then went on to a proper job teaching kids. She is without doubt one of the nicest people I have ever met. It was great to catch up with her (I think it’s the first time I’ve seen her for about five years) and the guys from the shop and find out what everyone has been up to. I miss working there quite a lot.

These look like a great set of wheels. If I rode the road bike more I’d try and justify getting some. In comparison to Manchester right now Mt Snow looks like a great place to be. It actually looks like they have a summer. Recycling stuff is good. Stealing so you can recycle isn’t. In fact it can get you into a lot of trouble. Oh and Harry’s was just the same as I remembered it.

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