Mountain Bike Shenanigans

Scotland Road Trip Day 3
February 27th, 2007

Glentress in the Tweed Valley has to be one of my favourite trails. I think because I have ridden there many times it has the kind of appeal that you get from revisiting something familiar. The black run is one of my favourites. I know the first climb up to the mast at the top of Dunslair Heights is a big climb. The secret is not to go at it like a bat out of hell, but to sit and spin and work your way up. You need the energy for the climb up redemption later in the trail.

Sunday’s blast around the forest didn’t disappoint. After making it to the wooden hut just before riding Brittany Spears last, I still had plenty in the tank to take on the rest of the climb and lead off through the singletrack down to the top of Deliverance. The Patriot really is a fantastic bike. I don’t think I have ridden anything so confident inspiring on the downhill trails. Front wheel drifts, rear wheel slides, two wheel drifts where the tyres are scrabbling for traction, but all the time just on the right side of the ragged line between being in control and in danger.

It was also quite satisfying to be pulling away from the others. The honest truth is that the Orange probably isn’t the best climbing bike in the world and getting dropped on the climbs isn’t much fun. The grip is fantastic. It’s not a question of traction, but more to do with a freeride kind of setup that isn’t best for powerful climbing that you can get away with on a hardtail or singlespeed. On the downhills though the bike just comes into its own. The suspension travel seems endless and plush and wit the Fox 36s up front and oversized wide bars it goes where it’s pointed.

After a wet ride in the forest with Neil getting lost just before the Ewok Village and then picking up a puncture just afterwards, by the time we made it down to the Hub it was cold and our enthusiasm for Innerleithen had vanished. We consoled ourselves in the fact that four trails in three days and some great and hard riding had been a good accomplishment. We’re already making plans for when we’ll head back.

Dyfi Enduro
February 27th, 2007

Tyrrell and I are entered under the rothar.com racing banner at the 2007 howies Dyfi Enduro. This will be held in Machynlleth, Mid-Wales on Sunday May 6th 2007. The start time is 11am. There’s a load more information over at the official website. It’s the 6th year of the racem, but it’ll be my first. The route is about 60km long and involves around 1500m of climbing and descending. There will be a free well stocked feed station at around half way and plenty of marshals.

After stepping in at the 11th hour last year as title sponsor, a few of the Howies team came up to ride the enduro last year. They went away knackered, covered in mud, but with big grins on their faces. The organisers must be doing something right, because they told them they wanted to continue to support the event. What could be better? Awesome prizes, from a company just down the road. Along with Howies, Formula brakes, Trek Bicycles, Topeak tools, Continental Tyres, Endura Clothing and HiFive energy products support the event by providing heaps of prizes.

Scotland Road Trip Update
February 26th, 2007

Just tried to download the photos from the trip. There weren’t many as the weather was grim, but the few I had and some snippets of video have all disappeared off the memory card. Doh! Might have to try and find some recovery software for that then. Road Trip Report Part 3 soon.

Scotland Road Trip Day 2
February 26th, 2007

The Plan for saturday was was to drive westwards cross country to Kirroughtree and ride the legendary red and black run combo. The lure of highly rated trails and challenges like McMoab and Heartbreak Hill were too good to miss. The trails lived up to our collective expectations with massive lengths of swoopy Singletrack that had is all grinning at the end. The trails were pedally but flowed and it was fair to say that we rocked around.

The legendary bits of trail proved to be every but as good as we had hoped and every but as evil. Towards the end of the day one of the multistep rock drop downs proved to be too much for Tyrrells riding style and the forks on his bike, which blew through thru travel and promptly stopped, pitching him over the bars. Superman acrobatics led to a midair somersault to running landing off piste, saving some expensive dental work and facial reconstruction.

Shortly afterwards the terrain took another savage turn and took a big bite out of his rear tyre. The smarties cake wrapper came into play agains and with a swift patch up we were ready to roll again. The trails were great but it was a real work out in the wet conditions plugging through the route.

By the time we made it back to the car it was clear there was no way we could fit in a trip to Ae as well in one day. Of course by the time we made it back to the car the continual drizzle we had endured all day had disappeared and the sun had come out. That was just typical! In the end after a quick lunch stop by the time we reached Ae it was 4pm and with only an hour left of daylight it was time to crack onto Glentress. A cafe stop in Moffat allowed us to recover a bit before continuing the trip.

Scotland Road Trip Day 1
February 26th, 2007

After a drive up from Manchester on Thursday night, we rode around Dalbeattie on Friday morning. Unfortunately like last time the weather was the nasty side of grim. Thursday night saw a torrential downpour which meant that the ground was already saturated and the day long drizzle didn’t help either. The fireroads were dragging and some of the Singletrack was boggy, but it was still a top place to burn around on the bikes.

Unlike last time we took a bit of time out to ride the slabs. For the uninitiated these are fairly massive steeply sloping granite faces, complete with eroded faults and cracks. Once you’ve rolled in you’re committed, but we all gave our best on this. Towards the end of the day on a section of rocks I managed to catch the rear wheel and sustain a pinch puncture.

For lunch we headed over to Mabie and the ace cafe cum bike shop. After soup and a combination of sausage and haggis butties we headed off in pursuit of the red run and the infamous darkside black run. Conrad and I had wisely missed this out on our trip three years ago, but a brief emergence of sunshine gave us the encouragement to try it.

The truth is that even with Stick-E rubber tires, appropriate use of tyres, brakes and handling, the wet wood (especially the natural timber as opposed to the cut materials) was just too slippery. We mucked about on the first section down to the lake and then headed up to the the start of the double black diamond. Puncture number two struck here with a thorn. The challenge of the double black diamond stuff was far too much. The combo of the tretcherous surface and tired legs and challenging trails was just too much. After a few offs and some near misses we decided to head back to the red.

The red run has some of the best sections of any man made trail I know. The bermed corners, jumps and drops were a great combination. It was in one of the later sections that a rifle shot signalled the end of a days riding at any pace. The Kenda Nevegal that had been doing an ace job had blown the side wall just above the beading. I sent everyone else ahead and rumaged through the rucksack for a tyre patch. Fortunately a Smarties cake wrapper saved the day and a cautious trip back down to the cafe was achieved.

IMBA: Long Live Long Rides