Mountain Bike Shenanigans

July 28th, 2007

I’ve been putting off an unsavory job for some time, namely upgrading my WordPress version from 2.0. I’ve procrastinated on the matter for so long that I’ve been able to move to version 2.2.1 now and very nice it is too. Well aside from the snazzy interface elements of the GUI there is some nice bits of new code that let the me do more dynamic site content with less code. It’s ace.

The biggest visible change to the site is the new photos section. I’ve spent a large portion of the day trying to get the Photo Album plug-in working. I’m glad to say it’s been a success, so there’s a bit of polishing to be done, but essentially all the gallery photos will now be migrating to Flickr since I opted into their Flickr Pro scheme. It’ll make my life a lot easier in terms of adding pictures in future and save me a lot of time in manually coding HTML and creating galleries.

The Hill of Death
July 26th, 2007

In my post from the Alps, I mentioned the Hill of Death. This is the UCI Downhill course that was carved out of a steep mountain side for the Swiss round of the series, in the resort of Champery. There is a summary of the race weekend on Steve Peat’s website which gives you some idea of what the course and conditions were like:

‘STEEP’ is the word to summarize this downhill track which twists it’s way through the trees down a serious, slippery slope. Even in the team manager’s meeting it was brought up that one risked breaking both ankles to attempt to walk the course. In fact, during a walking inspection Greg Minnaar slipped and dislocated a tricky shoulder, so it was no joke. The only way to get injured riders off the mountain was to pluck them off the mountain with a helicopter, which was fondly called “Carcass ‘Copter” and “Yard Sale Collector”.

Peat says, “The track is easy for half the field and hard for half the field. I like it, a lot of people don’t, but I liked it from the first practice. If it rains it will be a horrible mess. If it stays dry it will be good to race. The turns are blowing out now, and when it comes to finals tomorrow we’re going to have to be a little cautious. (Saturday afternoon brought a heavy rain shower).

“It’s a tough track and you need to relax in practice but that is tough because it’s steep and you don’t know the track for the first few runs. It’s a good track and it challenges everybody. It’s good the guys clipped in can see the advantages of flat pedals. Yesterday a bunch of guys ran out and bought 5 Ten shoes and trained on flats,” said Rennie.

Tire changes happened each run as riders tested the traction and they ran bigger rotors for better stopping to manage the steep track. The sounds of the beating helicopter blades were heard repeatedly though the day plucking up course casualties.

It’s a beast of a course. Certainly the steepest thing I’ve ever tried to ride (it wasn’t much of it). In the dry it was difficult to walk down most of it so god only knows how the top riders raced down it in the wet. Hang on I’ve found the answer on You Tube – many of them didn’t. Helmet Cam footage of the course (dry weather run) in this video.

Photos Up
July 23rd, 2007

All the best highlights from the photos from the week of Alpine Singletrack are now up on the website. Ch-check’em out and leave some comments…

AST Week

Access Rights
July 23rd, 2007

Mountain Bikers currently have less than 90 miles of bridleway and byway access along the 2000 mile English coast and much of this is under water at high tide. DEFRA are now consulting on access to the English coast and for once, IMBA have been told that if a cycling need is demonstrated, then the politicians could for once be positive… A brief e mail would be great making some of the following points:

  • IMBAs preference would be for an open access corridor based on the Scottish Land Reform Act provisions
  • Cycle clubs and Local Authorities could work together to identify suitable “core routes”
  • Much of the coastal downland is very suitable for mountain bike journeys
  • Ideally cyclists should consider what is appropriate for them to ride
  • IMBA would at least want Local Authorities to have a duty to consider upgrading appropriate footpaths to bridleways

So drop an e mail giving your views to:
The full document can be found on

Meanwhile in the USA, the future of the trails that form the heart of the Great Divide Race are under threat. IMBA is calling all riders to help save bike access to the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which is truly a unique resource for the mountain biking community. Running the spine of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico it appears to be in danger.

The Forest Service just released a draft rule that would encourage land managers to kick bikes off existing routes, and not include us on future segments. Riders can make formal comments with the Forest Service and IMBA’s simple form makes it easy. Comments have to be received by 13 August.

That Was Ace
July 22nd, 2007

Back from the Alps. Words can’t begin to describe the quality of the riding in France and Switzerland with friends and the group from Lancaster known as the Passouts Ltd over the last few days.

Into Switzerland

Words can describe trying to be clever on a bike after six pints of Stella and a day in the hot sun: stupid. More photos over the next few days…

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