Mountain Bike Shenanigans

All Formal
June 18th, 2006

Yesterday was hot. Not as hot as last year, but still far too hot to be in a winter weight dinner suit and wearing a formal university gown and hood and stuck in a room that could be acurately described as a giant greenhouse. Commitments meant that Saturday was a good opportunity to get some practice in making speeches and drinking. Scotch, Sherry, White Wine, Red Wine, Port, Madeira, Lager, Real Ale, More Wine. Actually I’m quite glad I’m not riding. I’m not feeling too great for some reason today…

I’ve been to Nottingham many times. To be honest, given the last time I was there some one was shot just around the corner from where I was staying in the Meadows, I can believe this:

From: Mike
Subject: You gotta love this one

The Nottingham Forest manager flies to Baghdad to watch a young Iraqi play football and is so impressed he arranges for him to visit England. Two weeks later Forest are 4-0 down to Chelsea in a cup match with only 20 minutes left. The manager gives the young Iraqi striker the nod and on he goes.

The lad is a sensation, scores 5 in 20 minutes and wins the game for Forest.

The fans are delighted, the players and coaches are delighted and the media love the new star.

When the player comes off the pitch he phones his mum to tell her about his first day in English football. “Mum! guess what!” he says. “I played for 20 minutes today, we were 4-0 down but I scored 5 and we won! Everybody loves me, the fans, the media: they all love me!”

“Wonderful”, says his mum, “Now let me tell you about my day. While you were having a great time, your father got shot in the street, your sister and I were robbed and beaten and your brother has joined an armed street gang.”

The young lad is distraught: “What can I say mum, I’m just so sorry.”

“And so you should be,” says his mum “It’s your fault we moved to Nottingham in the first place.”

Chilly knows the person implicated in this. Everyone else is about to know him when team “rothar giant-pygmy south african deadpineapple division” unleash their secret weapon at 24/12. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

From: GB
Subject: Duck and Cover

On Sat we went for a cycle, the usual, along the canal to the Swan with Two Necks and then through Dunham Massey Park and home. But this time……..

We decided to put KB on the back of TB’s bike (I think that was the first and last time!!!) and off we set, the path along the canal was quite busy with walkers and cyclists as it was a nice day. Anyway, TB was in the front and we are coming up behind an old lady and her little maltese poodle. We have slowed down, but TB has not taken his feet out of his cleets. The lady turns around and starts telling tye off because he should have a bell and she couldn’t hear him. TB goes off the path to slowly go around her (remember KB is on the back of TB’s bike!) The lady starts to move out the way, so TB starts to pedal back onto the path but then the lady steps onto the path again to get her dog!!! TB starts to fall, ever so slowly, cant get his feet out the pedal and what does he do?

Sticks his hand out for balance and pushes the old lady into the canal! And her dog was on the lead so the poor thing was dragged in too! SPLOSH! Both of them right under the water. Goodness me, it was terrible! Now KB is on the side on the floor, she was fine I just lifted the bike up and she was fine. But the old lady was saying My Back, My Legs, I’ve just got out of hospital, help, help, I can’t swim!

TB was trying to lift her out but it was quite difficult, luckily someone came to help. Anyway, the lady was fine, we gave her a warm top to put on and her hubby came to fetch her. The worry would be if she swallowed any of the water! The canal is not clean! All she could say to us was, why don’t we have a bell. And boy, are we going to get one! It was soooo terrible!

But afterwards, we couldn’t stop laughing, it must have been the shock. I could not stop giggling! So, needless to say, we will be staying away from that little cycle route for a while!

Ace. I’m sure they can sense him approaching.

Midweek News
June 14th, 2006

I’ve been interested to see what people have been saying about kitting bikes out for the Alps. I’ve ridden out there and done some epic and rocky descents on nothing more than v-brakes and front suspension. In fact not so long ago some one went to a french hypermarche, bought the equivalent of a £99 bargain and then rode the Les Gets downhill course. So why is it that you now need a 6″ full suspension bike with 200mm discs with phenolic pistons and floating calipers? I reckon it’s all a marketing ploy to make people buy more bikes and bits. There’s a great thread on Singletrackworld about it. Jed and I are quite taken by Colin Burgess’s comment:

I should think you’ll die horribly, screaming down the hill with your brakes spontaneously combusting, and your wheels resplendent as firey discs from hell, to a chorus from onlookers chanting ‘you should have bought avid juicys, they cure cancer’.

I am also a big fan of Alex Leigh over at Pickled Hedgehog. I have a lot of time for his accounts of real life. i can particularly concur with his views on riding while under the influence. I had always thought that riding off road when drunk was bad (particularly at night, during beach parties and along cliff top paths), but come to think of it Al has a point. Urban riding has that added danger of traffic…

Riding whilst drink has much to commend it. Firstly it renders you immortal by sheathing your squashy bits in what I like to think of as “lager armour”. Secondly it engenders a certain raffish approach to risk. Rather than assess the many and potentially fatal hazards awaiting the unwary cyclist, one can throw the entire risk management system out of the window; although a more apt description would be “in front of an oncoming car”

Thirdly, it grants you god like riding skills. Well that’s not entirely true of course, you think you have magically attained god like riding skills otherwise why would you attempt to craft a cheeky manoeuvre of placing a 24inch handlebar in a 20inch gap? As I wobbled down the Strand, it became increasingly clear that while I had no issues whatsoever powering the bike, steering it was quite another matter. Still what with being immortal, immune to risk and infused with divine bike skills, my progress was serene if a little erratic. It put me in mind of that old joke “I’ve never been in an accident but I’ve seen quite a few”.

IF have just bought out a rather nice courier bag and I added it to their on-line store yesterday. It’s made by those very nice people over at Crumpler in Australia. They have a fantastic flash website. The videos of people trying to swap beer for other goods in the US are hilarious. I also had a look over at Paul Component Engineering‘s website too. I always wanted one of their custom made rear derailleurs…

I never really was bitten by the surfing bug, I tried it a few times. I tried windsurfing too. I actually quite liked cliff jumping, but really all the friends I made were just cool people to hang around with. Still I follow it occassionally and recently came across what big man Laird Hamilton has ben up to. Biking and Paddling from London to Paris. Good work from the big guy.

Sunday in the Sun
June 12th, 2006

4,730Kcal, 1,500m climbing and six and a half hours riding yesterday. It was an epic ride and a full day out in the Dark Peak District. Rides in this part of the world often turn out like this. The trails are hard and technical riding and it turned out to be probably one of the hardest days riding I have done in years. My legs are still aching today from propelling me and suspending me over all those rocks – my back is fairly tight too. More photos are up here…

Ace riding in the Dark Peak

The saddle on Tyrrell’s Stumpy gave up the ghost at the foot of Cranberry Clough and the head of Ladybower. It was a weird break that I haven’t seen the likes of before and I think it was just a one off. As a fix we adopted the Wilderness approach and looked for some Ray Mears style solution to get us home. A chunky bit of pine branch did the business and without any tape or string stayed in place for the rest of the ride including some sketchy rock descents.

Stuff at work today made me wonder quite how TV detection works these days?

It seems to be largely based on the database of licenced users and targeting people who don’t have a licence. If you buy a TV or other related equipment like DVD players these days the retailer (well John Lewis at least) pass on your details to the TVLA so they can start sending you threatening letters (pseudo-invoices, other trumped up mailshots, etc).

The TVLA website says:

At the heart of our operation is the TV Licensing database of over 28 million home and business addresses, telling us which of these have TV Licences.

All of our enforcement officers have access to this database and will check whether or not you have a licence. If you are using a TV and are unlicensed, you could face prosecution and a hefty fine.

We have a fleet of detector vans, plus, our enforcement officers have access to hand-held detection devices capable of detecting a magnetic field when a TV is switched on. In fact, we catch an average of over 1,000 people watching TV without a licence every day.

We have a range of detection tools at our disposal in our vans. Some aspects of the equipment have been developed in such secrecy that engineers working on specific detection methods work in isolation – so not even they know how the other detection methods work. This gives us the best chance of catching licence evaders.


My big question is that if you live in a block of flats with one common shared aerial how do they work out who has a TV and who doesn’t these days when there are so many devices that are based on LCD and Plasma technology and don’t transmit the same electromagnetic fields as conventional TV sets. For example how do they detect a digital LCD TV as opposed to an LCD computer monitor?

I raise this because we’re just all be warned about the fact that individual offices at work may need to have a TV licence to watch the World Cup over the Internet via the BBC website and I’cve jsut had to issue a warning along these lines. Any way there has been plenty of discussion about this over on the Singletrackworld forum.

Two Gates and a Stick
June 11th, 2006

Yesterday when the football was on I took an opportunity to get out on the roadbike and cover some miles with noticeably less traffic. It was hot and windy and despite trying to pla a route with a headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way home, it didn’t quite work out. The result was a solid ride in both directions, but it was deinitely worth getting out there.

How to fix a broken saddle...

Today Tyrrell and I were out all day in the Dark Peak heat. It an epic ride from Padfield taking in Longendale, Langsett, Cut Gate, Ladybower, Edale and Doctor’s Gate on the way back. Riding was somewhat spoilt by a broken saddle rail around Ladybower, but the stick that’s shown in the photo above some how managed to stay in place for the rest of the ride. Loads of ace photos due to blue skies all day. Full ride report and pictures in the next update.

The Convergence of Technology
June 9th, 2006

My research led me to read a lot of work by Nicholas Negroponte. He’s a guru when it comes to matters involving technology and has written a quite a bit on the topic of the convergence of technology. I am not sure that people ten years ago would have predicted the successes that have arisen in so many field of technology. Look at mobile phones for example.

In two decades they have gone from the equivalent of carrying around something the size of a car battery with a telephone attached to devices smaller than a pack of cigarettes. These small phones include digital cameras that are increasingly high resolution, have memories that allows thousands of songs to be stored, radio tuners, wordprocessors, calendars, wireless technology… The list goes on.

In sport, probably due to a smaller market base for sporting electronic consumables, the arms race has been slower. A few companies like Vetta, Cateye and Polar combined things early on in the bike market. So you could get a bike computer and a heartrate monitor in one package. It’s not really the show stopping stuff that gets people all excited though.

Recently the sort of stuff that will get people interested is starting to appear. Nike have teamed up with Apple to develop a unique iPod nano plug-in device that is a digital receiver and software package that works with a sensor transmitter that is build into special pairs of Nike running shoes. It’ll also search through your playlist to speed up the soundtrack you’re listening to so that it matches your pace.

Apple and Nike

Polar have teamed up with Adidas to develop a line of clothing that works specifically with the ir range of heartrate monitors. These mean the wearer can have a running top with a built in transmitter. Like the Nike Apple system, Polar’s wrist mounted computer will let you download your work out to a computer and check your performance.

Adidas and Polar

For some athletes just being able to record to a computer isn’t enough. If your a pro cyclist your coach might need to be able to monitor your performance from the field and Polar have also teamed up with Finnish counterparts Nokia to offer a system whereby data can be downloaded from the Heartrate monitor to a phone and either stored or sent to recipients.

Polar and Nokia

All of this is of course fairly cool stuff. The question is what will we see next. Other portable electronics have included Oakley’s foray into Sunglasses with built-in MP3 players. Burton have offered a wired Snowboard/Ski Jacket designed for iPod use for a number of seasons and there are numerous other examples.

I think the next big thing is going to involve fabric based electrical systems being developed further so that full systems such as MP3 Players and phones become part of the garment. It’s the evolutions of something that Burton and Motorola have already started. Active sport is an energy producing activity so the next challenge is to harness the body’s heat to power the devices and negate the need for batteries.

It might sound like futuristic stuff, but if you’d told an early BBC B computer user that in twenty years time they would have something thousands of time more powerful on a wrist watch they’d probably just have thought you were a dreamer too.

After a week without riding, it’s inspiring to hear a great ride report, so here’s one from MacPuppy in France – Tyrrell and I have made plans for a Peak District Epic this Sunday due to his inspiration. Did I mention that my cheeky South African colleague has entered us as a team into the draw for the Cape Epic for next March? If we get drawn from the hundreds of entry applications we are going to have to do some serious training and fundraising if we’re to actually make an impression on the field!

From: MacPuppy
Subject: Ride of the year (So Far)

So yesterday morning I went out for a ride with one of the locals, called Denis – that’s a slight understatement, he’s about as local as anyone could ever be, his family have lived on the plateau for over 300 years and used to own half the land that the village is now built on.

His folks own the local hotel and he is the chef. This means that he has time to ride for a few hours every day …. and it shows !!!

So he took me out to show me some trails and we started off as usual by heading straight up the ridge putting me straight into the red zone. From the off he was showing me stuff I already knew so I was quite pleased with myself but then 20mins into the ride he turned left onto the faintest line and plunged deep into the forest. I’d tried something like this on my own, in almost the same spot, a few weeks ago and ended up scrambling / dragging Musher down a huge bank when it became impossible to ride.

Down and down and down we went at breakneck speed on soft forest soil swooping between the trees on a line that suggested someone might have been down here a couple of decades ago. I think he got slightly lost because we had to ride across some fields at the bottom but I’ll happily lose myself on that one again. Musher was on the very edge of control, Denis was riding an Epic faster ….

So we meandered across the floor of the next valley (Meadre) towards the now flower filled Alpin ski slopes and he casually mentioned we were going up a very long climb !

Ashley – remember the good old days of the Graeme challenges ?
Feck me … we climbed forever and then a Graeme challenge came into view near the top when I was soooo busted I could barely see. A steep washed out climb with a gully down the centre which you had to hop over as you approached the top.

Denis the trials riding mountain goat cleaned it and Musher and I have a new challenge to master, we think we might get it one day.

Were now at the top of something and Denis’ favourite trail awaits. I know were waaaaaayyyyy above the Gorge de la Bourne (road riding pics of me over on the fotopic site) so he tells me were going to descend a very fast rocky section and then a bit where we’ll have to walk before we appear on a ledge which we’ll ride across. 200ft of vert rock on the left and about 800ft vert on the right down to the river – just keep following the blue markers he says.

We pass some walkers who look bemused to see two guys on bikes, a quick bonjour, smile politely and ease past.
Inpirational stuff …. Jawdropping views and only a cameraphone to capture them. Ho hum must return with proper camera.

So we navigate the ledge with only one heartstopping ‘pedal catches on tree to right of trail’ moment ! And then it’s off into the trees again swooping at warp speed down narrow twisty trails of super bright sunlit green and flashes of purple flowers and eventually spill out onto the gorge road.

Pheeeeeeuuuuuuuuuwwwwwww groof woof yip gruff awooooooooo – deed you bark he says ? I sought a beeg dog waz chaseeng me

And that was just the main course, we went on for 2 rounds of desert and a couple of expresso’s on the way back to the kennel. 3.5hrs of riding and I was so gubbed, I felt like I’d just done Mayhem solo.

Daisy : oh hi daddy, can you take me swimming ?
Daddy : just let me have awee drink first

With riding scenery like this I can’t wait to get out there and see the trails that are being ridden for myself. It sounds fantastic! To close with, i thought I’d share this absolutely brilliant find – the patience of this eBay seller has had people in tears.

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