Mountain Bike Shenanigans

October 16th, 2008

Just tried catching up with what a few friends have been up to and it look’s like they’re having a time out from being online. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have a break every now and then…

32:16 Simon Barnes

October 16th, 2008

The nights are drawing in. It’s almost twilight riding home now and with the leaves on the trees now all shades of autumn it feels like summer is officially over. That said it’s still quite warm, but I think in less than two weeks it’ll be time for roubaix base layers…

Student Newspaper

Manchester Student Newspaper Article with gratuitous photo of random attractive woman* in grey skinsuit. *Bike not models own.

Inbred Bites Back
October 13th, 2008

So a weekend away produced a proper mountain bike ride. Unknown countryside, map, some recommended sections and a route picked without any local knowledge. The result was several hours riding, some good bits and some bits you’ll never forget. I’m not sure it’s a good sign that the first trail you ride is a muddy uphill climb, followed by a wet moorland summit into a waterlogged downhill where you have to pedal to go downhill, but either way it kind of set the tone for what followed.

Map Reading

The mainstay of the ride turned out to be several miles of hike-a-bike. After much more map reading than is generally necessary, the right direction was generally found, but there was no sign of any trail. The absence of a trail led to a session of what could be accurately described as bog orienteering, because the mission became navigating wet upland without sinking upto your waist in peat mire and taking advantage of any hilly bits to spot for the next fence/wall and gate. Basically the bridleway was signposted excellently at these gates, it’s just that no one other than cows and sheep can have used that trail in between them in about the last 18 months and it’s been reclaimed by the land.


Clambering through one particularly nasty bit, with a bike on my shoulder and pushing another I slipped and fell scoring a handlebar in the jaw and a chainring in the arm. It was a nice touch. The former made chewing Tangfastics interesting and the latter is going to leave a nice scar. On top of the that the fantastic bruises from the NDE earlier in the week made technical riding a bit tender, but in all it was a great ride and I’d do it again…

Massive thanks to Tim and Bee at Northumberland Bike Breaks for a great weekend – can’t wait to go back and get the guided riding in next time!

October 7th, 2008

On Sunday some bloody idiot received a torrent of abuse. I was riding at a fair pace in the middle of my side of the road because I was about to take a right turn towards home. It’s a leafy suburban road with lots of parked cars and a 30mph limit, but that didn’t stop muggins, who hooted at me and then over took giving me a look of the evils. Quite what he was intending to achieve with this little manouvre is anyone’s guess, but I decided I’d ask him at the set of lights he’d then had to screech to a stop in front of.

Interestingly he made the perhaps unwise decision to wind down his window. Which only made the vitriolic torrent of abuse that then poured forth from my angry lips a lot louder for him than it would have been from behind the relative safety of 4mm of glass. I don’t think I’ve had a swearing out burst like that in some time and a litany of profanties about said driver being the illegitimate child of a pig dog and likening him to womens gentitals through vulgar phrase certainly made me feel better, even if it did have passers by left jaw dropped and staring. Fact is he was a 100% cock not so much for the stupid overtaking, but for conducting said move at a junction whilst simulatneously smoking and holding a mobile phone.

Now I’m not sure if what happened tonight is some kind of bizarre karma or just plain luck, but tonight I had a Near Death Experience (NDE) for the first time in a few years. I’d picked down the commuter again today because after buzzing into work on the Ti Deluxe yesterday, I fancied a quicker ride in today. Ride in was fine and so was most of tonight’s. One minute I’m jamming along with the flow of traffic, buzzing past wing mirrors and keeping pace with the cars, next minute something has gone very wrong.

At first I thought the chain had snapped, there was that sudden loss of drive that when you’re flying along suddenly destroys your balance. Next thing I’m straddling the top tube and doing a tank slapper all over the front of the bike, I’m seriously out of control veering across both lanes of traffic sideways. I remember thinking that the only thing that could make this worse was being rear ended by some of the traffic behind me or ending up in the oncoming traffic lanes. I’d like to claim it was Ryan Leech-esque bike handling skills that saved me from eating tarmac, but I suspect that lady luck had more than a little say in my fate.

Somehow I didn’t go down. I kept that bike upright and finally managed to bring it to a stop. Hobbled off it and dragged it over to the pavement. Damage assessment part 1: sore inner left thigh and arse cheek and mangled right calf. Damage assessment part 2: snapped pedal axle. Damn that’d do it.

Eeek Ouch

Eventually I spot the pedal body and finally get a chance to extract it from the middle of the carriageway. Stop for a minute or two to calm down a bit and get the wind back in me. No one stopped to see if I was okay, which was nice. Eventually figured I’d try some single pedal action and made it about 500m before I worked out the rear tyre was punctured too. That’s be me walking home then.

Reckon that was as close a call as I’d like for a while – I feel lucky the Ti axle sheered so cleanly, I’ve about four contact points from the loss of control in my right calf – if it had broken and left a more jaggedy metal stump, I’d be writing this after a trip to A&E (which was conveniently on the way home). Had a nice brew and a chat with Jon and Paula tonight which helped take my mind of things a bit. Their son Alex has generously offered a bike for a friend this weekend which is fantastic. The commuter’s off the roads now until I get various bits sorted out. Wiggle have emailed me to say the Truvativ BBs still aren’t available and that’s just rubbish.

So Mere
October 4th, 2008

Plans for riding today had to be change en route and what had been planned as a blast around Penmachno turned into a session around Delamere. Tyrrell and I rode out for the first time in ages and I even found some new bits of Singletrack I hadn’t tackled before so it was an interesting ride. Rode the Ti Deluxe for the first time since March and as you’d expect it feels totally different to the Remedy. It’s just feels so fast and agile, whereas the Remedy almost feels like you have to really put effort into things.

Had to clean both bikes after the ride today as I’d just run out of time last weekend. I’m going to have to order a new stem, because at the moment they’re sharing the same one and the same set of pedals and while swapping the latter isn’t an issue it’s just a pain having to swap stems. To add to the recent electronic catalogue of disaster, my work Blackberry has now packed up and seems dead to the world…

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