Mountain Bike Shenanigans

December 26th, 2006

I think because it’s Christmas and the Ski Season is here I have been thinking about some one I met once who was a real character. One of those people you only meet once, but always remember. John Wilhelmsson (aka Swedish John) was a close friend of my mate  Chris Thorne. He was tragically killed in late February 2006. He was an extremely talented skier and photographer. Check out his memorial website to remember some of his great work. Chris Patient sums him up:

I first met John in Zermatt in the early 90s. I was impressed by his fast and fearless skiing. He could throw progressive manoeuvres with very little air and he would seek out the sickest cliff drops. As a skier, he was ahead of his time. Furthermore, his skiing buddy was a snowboarder, which for me – a confirmed ‘old schooler’ – seemed to open my mind a little.

John Wilhelmsson soon became my top ski model. He was my first front cover, and he was always full of ideas and new energy. Together, we had many memorable powder days (exploring Zermatt’s off-piste and shooting photos) in the early days before fat skis came in.          One day, John told me he was going to jump a huge ice cliff whether or not I photographed it. I was worried about the jump especially when I saw how flat the landing was. But John was undeterred. I shall never forget seeing him hurtling through over 18 metres of space and landing on his back. I never did get the photo published, and John sustained internal injury as a result. I think he calmed down after that.

Today, John continues to show a skier’s enthusiasm and a sense for the unusual now that he has joined the ranks as a lense man. For me, he is not only a briliant photographer, but a friend and confidante and a continued source of inspiration.

It’s Christmas!
December 25th, 2006

It be Crimbo. Time to kick back and relax with a nice cold one or two. Lots of interesting stuff on the t’internet to look at too, including the fact that some crazy Americans will really try and blend anything


From: Mike
Subject: IT and Management

A man in a hot air balloon realised he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below.

He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.?

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be in IT,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”

“I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.

You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems.

The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my f******g fault.”

A South African Perspective
December 20th, 2006

The Epic is drawing nearer and Cris and I are looking to put some decent bike time into the legs. We have been debating the best way for me to tackle the UK winter as my ‘stumpy’ was taken a beating. We looked at some options and after much deliberation decided to build up a single speed. Hence the spunky looking red speed demon on the main page. Thanks to the boyz at sideways cycles the frame and forks were organized and my man Cris put in some good time and spares getting her together. So how does she ride, dam she is smooth and rolling resistance is really good. I was also surprised by the weight, I know there are fewer working parts etc but she really finished up good.

Hit the road for the ride home on Thursday night and dam I felt like my old SA days fitted with my spandex doing spinning classes. It takes a bit of getting used to but after a while settled into a good cadence and hit the traffic home. Taken on Manchester traffic on a single takes on a new meaning. Best part was my first curb hop. Now please to those thinking of going rigid, take my word for it and take head, try a few easy rides first before taken on the traffic. There I was doing my usual beat the oncoming traffic to the opposite side of the road to hop a curb when the first action of pushing down nearly took my teeth out then putting all my energy into pulling up which resulted in me nearly ripping my arms out of their sockets not to mention my feet coming out the cleats. Now picture it, me trying to show I’m the man taken on the traffic with my new stead while smiling at some hotties that happen to be on the street corner with the bike on some funny angle, my legs practically around my ears and the fence on the opposite side careering towards me. Trust me, highly over rated. Anyway somehow managed to survive that one, dignity in tow and headed home. Once I hit the dirt it was all good, Alty came up quick with few scars to show.

Come Sunday I decided to give the new single a good spin on the dirt roads. I chose to go down the Trans Penine trail out towards Lymm and onwards. Dropped in at ‘Bike Shak’ and got me a pair of mud flaps. Now yes I know the manic primal instinct of the mountain Biker with a motto of ‘Dirtier the better’ means this goes against the grain, but riding to work and looking like The swamp thing made me see the errors of my ways. To be honest I used my Beanie more for concealment rather than warmth. I did not have the tools to fit it there and then so packed them into the bag and hit the trail. Night before was an absolute cloud burst so the trail was as muddy and wet as Iv ever seen it. After 50m on the trail me; my newly cleaned and sparkling bike; my father in-laws carry bag were one with the mud & yes Horse riders use the trail so there be some nasty stuff in da mud combination. So I thought what the heck, let’s at least put the mud flap under the front wheel to test as it uses a bungee cord. Boy was I surprised just how well it worked. I rode the rest of the ride with not one more speck of mud on my glasses & I’m talking serious muddy conditions. My ass looked like shit but the mud flap worked.

Thanks to Cris im styling with my new single commuting to work and back. She is a really good ride. I now no longer can take on the Oxford buses and roadies with ease, but with the single it is now a challenge. Thx Guys..

Voodoo People
December 19th, 2006

New bike time, but this one isn’t mine. Tyrrell’s been persuaded that a singlespeed is not only the ideal winter bike, but also the ideal commuter and is now the proud owner of a rather shiny and very red Voodoo Wanga thanks to the help of Tim at Sideways Cycles.

Voodoo Wanga

It’s been built up with various bits out of the bits box and is set so it can move over to discs in the long term and have some bouncy forks fitted if necessary. Yes it does have an exceptionally long stem, but that was all that was kicking around when we built it up. It’d probably look a lot more in proportion with a nice little 100mm effort.

Less than 100 days to go
December 14th, 2006

The Cape Epic is now only 99 days away. I’m getting quite excited about it now. You can follow our progress in the racing section of the site and I’ve also setup a blog on the official site now. Hopefully it’s good promotional material and will help us get some more sponsorship for the CF Trust. We’re now over 10% of the way to our target, but I hope we can get a lot closer.

I surfed across a rather impressive website recently. Steve has a really impressive set of photos that really make me want to get out and ride more and to get over to the US to do some riding. Maybe I’ll manage that with the Owners’ Club in 2008. This weekend I’m off over to Calderdale for a bit of a ride and also to catch up with some good friends.

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