Thursday, January 06, 2005


Busted my rear axle, great eh? Landed a jump and ‘crack’, something gave. I looked down at the nasty scraping noise and realised that my wheel was at an angle and the brake disk was scoring a nice groove in the pads.

The bike is going into Bad Ass Bikes next week. I need to get back out and improve fitness as Im snowboarding in a few weeks!!

Monday, December 20, 2004


6 lads and a Newbie

Been pretty busy the last few weeks and haven't had time to update the Blog. Anyhow, last weekend was a pretty enjoyable blast with 6 of us out for a scream around the local woods. It was fairly sticky mud but OK considering the time of year.

It was great to welcome Julian out with his new Kona, his first time out in 'proper' woods with real mud, rocks and roots. The fact that he went over the handlebars twice should not take away from the fact that he did really well. He is a little like my buddy Ed who is naturally fit and seems not to need to warm up, have any previous experience or indeed worry about turning up in jeans and a sweatshirt to have a good time. Julian did a pretty good job of keeping upright and generally keeping up with the group. Of course we had to wait at each intersection of trees but not as long as I thought we would. On the final drag up the hill to home he was no more than 90 seconds back which is great going. Nice one Ju!

I break up for the pagan festival of Christmas ( this weekend and am looking forward to a stack of riding over the week and a bit of free time.


Friday, December 03, 2004


Eventful few weeks

When ever I ride with others I always get really boring and suggest that they carry a spare inner tube and tool kit for those on trail emergencies. Last weekend I head off into the woods alone and 45 minutes out - Hisss - front puncture. Not only had I forgotten an inner tube, I was also short a tire iron and when I tried to pump up the old tube to see if it would last the distance my pump had a perished seal! Great, long walk home.

Today just got back from a tough few hours doing the Twrch trail at Cwm Carn in South Wales. The initial climb was a killer today with the steep parts strewn with very slippery rocks and roots. Even though it was only about 3degrees I found myself in my T-Shirt within 1/2 hour. The climb took almost an hour, over 15 minutes more than normal. However the awesome downhill sections made it all worthwhile with my suspension working overtime and lots of airtime.

They are working on the lower section turning it into a full downhill course and although not finished it was fabulous, loads of jumps and berms and flowing corners. When the mud is sorted out it will be a superb if trecherous stretch.

Can't wait to go back.

Monday, November 08, 2004


Mud, nothing else, just mud

The title just about sums it up. Busy weekend this time; Saturday saw Ben and I trying on suits for his wedding and once that was done we got out in the woods and found.....mud. Now, normally I enjoy the forest in any weather but this time I didnt have time to look around. The normally slippery roots and rocks were now covered in slimy mud with a nice slippy leaf topping, masking the obstacle from view. The bike's handling was not dissimilar to driving a rally car with the front and back wheels sliding all over the place requiring some fairly deft balance and technique.

Considering the conditions we moved pretty quickly with only a few hairy moments. One spot on a trail dives steeply away on your right and the rider must drop into a ditch and then pedal like mad up the other side. This time a kind walker, badger or just wind had deposited a branch on the left of the trail leaving only 6 inches to ride.. or so I thought! The 6 inches were leaves which actually covered the edge of the drop. I dived into the ditch, avoided the branch, kept right and bike slipped off the edge and threatened to spit me into oblivion. Idiotically I put my right foot down which was about 3ft above the slope and I dropped. Somehow I managed not to go A over T down the slope and was able to recover and push the bike out.

I cant see the conditions getting any better this winter so better get used to it or put the body armour on!

Later all.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Is it dark or have I got my eyes closed

Bad Ass Bikes did a fabulous job on my bike although it did need a new headset, lots of TLC and copious amounts of grease and silicon. They also put some sort of treatment on the frame and if it wasn't for assorted war wounds you would think the steed was brand new. Nice one BAB!

Sunday afternoon was set aside for a tad of riding this weekend and I couldn't help feeling a bit of sadness as I contemplated the flith that would soon throw itself at my lovely clean paintwork, but hey, thats what it's there for!

Ben came over about 4:30, a little later than arranged and we headed for Leigh Woods. Now for the more intelligent among you, you may remember the clocks going back on Saturday night and it was for this reason we now found ourselves in thick woods with only the slightest glimmer of light filtering down though the trees. No problem, we are tough lads so off we set.

The first 1/2 hour was the standard mix of water, mud and rocks but by the time we were 40 minutes into our route the latter had ceased to be a problem as we simply couldn't see the floor! Now I know that night riding is a bit of a sport in its own right, blasting through forests with just the narrow beam from your rack of halogen lights to illuminate the path and I can see the attraction. However, take all the above and then remove the lights from the equation and you see our predicament, even better next time you are riding a trail, hopping logs, ducking branches and trying to hit roots square on to avoid being spat off, close your eyes. Seriously, close them, and you will get the idea. It was pitch dark, no lights, no moon, no nothing.

Sensibly we decided to avoid the next part of the trail and find our way to the path, but being 'mountain bikers' we couldn't go back, that wouldn't be cricket, we would find a new way down. So now it is pitch black on an 18 inch wide rocky, rooty trail and we are root finding (get the pun - root finding, route, yeah - ahh forget it)! Stupid? Yeah I think so.

At last Ben says he thinks he saw a break in the undergrowth to our left so we stop, backtrack 10 feet and head down.....something. It is soon apparent that this is no trail, it being less than a foot wide with a nasty great rut in the middle, I found myself plumetting downhill in what was obviously a natural drainage channel. I began to think that I could see or perhaps my other senses were compensating, I even heard a ghostly voice saying 'Use the force Luke', but the reality was gravity pulling me into a black void at an increasing velocity.

I figured that as gravity was the only thing working in my favour at this moment I might aswell go with it, stick my weight over the back wheel and pray for no fallen trees in the way (being a bit of a coward at heart I unclipped one foot from my SPDs anyway!). With a sudden thud and a huge compression of my forks my front wheel ploughed into a ditch full of mud, unclipped foot managed to get down before a unwanted face pack ensued.

Sy some miracle this brought us down on the main path home.

A little scary? Yup. Fun? Bring on next week!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Bike in hospital for a check up

With winter fast approaching I decided my bike needed a bit of TLC. I usually use BIKE in Bristol where I bought it but you currently wait weeks for a slot for even a cursory look. They have also been promising to source some replacement bushings for my rear shock for months and every time I call they know nothing about my previous call; a pain to say the least.

So last week I contacted Bad Ass Bikes just south of Bristol and they were very helpful so this morning I left my trusty steed in their care. Cool workshop with views right out over Chew Magna and the surrounding countryside. He reckons I should chuck some Hope Minis on instead of the Magura Julie disks I've got at the moment. When I've £200 with nowhere to go I think Ill do it. I find the Julies rub like mad when they get hot so it would be good to change.

Just organising with Ben for a decent ride this weekend so looking forward to a good thrash.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Flying chick

At last it has happened, after 2 years of solid riding I managed to coax my better half (C) out on a mountain bike! Once a quick trip to Halfords and some arguements over colour, style and other such vital elements when buying a helmet were over we returned home and I eyed the slippery, muddy trails off to the left of the road with some concern.

A VERY kind friend lent her £1500 worth of Kona, staggering considering she hasn't ridden since she was a girl(not long ago honestly!) and soon she was preparing to dive into some very slippery, rocky woods.

I'm proud to say that she did very well for her first time; following some puffing up the first hill, which is fairly hard going, we got into the hard stuff and she quickly realised how slippery, slippery roots can be. 15 minutes of mud and one 'off' and we were out and on our way home.

I think she actually enjoyed it, perhaps a bike for a present? Or give her my bike and invest in a new Whyte? Or..., ok getting carried away. Hopefully she will come out again although some nice dry woods I think would give a better impression.

Technical stuff aside, being out with a flying chick is always good for the street cred!

Monday, October 11, 2004


On a charge

Great outing yesterday. Sun was out which was a great start although my garden was a bit wet and muddy demonstrating that the woods would be hard going.

Ben arrived and we discovered a punture in his front, amazingly it was his original inner tube and the bike is almost 2 years old. Quick trip down to Halfords and all was solved. I have had a bit of movement in my headset the last few weeks and to my amazement following the instructions in 'Zeds' Bike maintenance book managed to solve the problem with nothing more than an Allen key. Yay me!

Needing to be at my parents for tea (Mum is Queen of the roast dinner!) left us with only about 1 1/2 hours which was a bit of a pain so we thought we would go find the end to a new route we started in Leigh Woods. For some reason, even though I'd gone out feeling a bit crappy, I was on a complete charge, busting through the initial singletrack like a man possessed. I was in a 'why go around obstacles when you can hit them head on' frame of mind. It was pretty dry but I was hitting the mud patches and big puddles hard and getting covered.

Needless to say I've been dormant for 2 weeks and within 40 minutes I was puffing like a smoker having throughly overdone it; glad I wasnt doing a days cycling! Ben wanted to ride the 'The Snake', probably the most dangerous bit of riding in those woods. It's so named for its staggeringly steep switchbacks and a top part that can bite. 2 Broken ribs and some nasty puncture wounds has led me to promise my wife that I'll only ride it with body armour on. (She is very supportive of my riding, so it s small price to pay!) Ben rode it clean and we met at the top of the hill.

We fired up some track we had only done once which was superb and linked up with the new trail, a technical track which was very muddy and left us down on the cycle path near the River Avon.

On the climb back up we met some extremely dodgy looking lads with a mountain board who looked like they had just 'borrowed' it from some kid who was probably now lying in the bushes somewhere. We smiled and put on our toughest 'awrite mate, we've just been beating up walkers' voices and hoped that they didnt notice that our combined bike value would fund their Speed habit for the next 3 months. Right on cue one of the lads fell off the mountain board giving us the opportunity to laugh with the other lads at the unfortunate meathead and make our escape.

Big hill back and time for a shower, day over all too soon.

In a previous post I promised to introduce you to some of the lads I bike with. Can't be bothered today, I'll do it another time.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Rain , rain and more rain

It's been raining here all weekend forcing us to stay home and watch pointless TV. Normally I wouldn't think twice about hitting the trails in inclement weather but Ben could not come over and I just couldn't find the 'uumph' to get wet, cold and muddy on my own. Ended up watching a DVD of CSI with the heating on. What a wimp!

I've also got a bit of a problem with my Headset; there is movement either indicating that it is loose or something has worn. I havn't serviced it in 18 months so I'm guessing that grit and stuff has worn a seal or the bearings or something. There is a good 2-3mil of movement now which is not good. The bike needs a really good service I think.

Roll on next weekend which is set to be sunny, should be a good ride as Ed is keen to go out and I can't see Ben missing 2 weeks straight.

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Our patch

For those that dont know Bristol is a mid-sized town in the west of England. Although it is an industrial town with factories to its west and a thriving leisure based harbour at its centre it is slightly odd thats its centre is offset to the south west. This means that although I can drive to the 'centre' of Bristol in a little under 10 minutes I actually live surrounded by forest. I think they call this, the best of both worlds.

I have lived in my current house for 2 years and although I mountain bike at least once a week I still have not discovered every trail and track that wind their way through the woodland around me. The trails range from prebuilt singletrack with some obstacles and challenges to trails that have just been carved by use over time. All are in thick forest on very narrow trails, some flat, some undulating and some fabulous downhill into the Avon Gorge below.

The trails dont drain too well and so the winter gets very muddy and boggy which calls for a very different style of riding with lots of power needed in the legs to drive hard through areas of thick mud. It also gets really slippery which means that falls become a regular occurance. I mention this as I arrived home with my buddy Ben last Sunday covered in mud; the autumn is truely upon us. Actually the weather has been so awful this summer that the trails have hardly dried out at all, not a good few months.

Last year saw the opening of the Timberland Trail, a purpose built trail that has interesting parts for most skill levels although I wouldnt recommend the area around 50 acre wood unless you have at least front suspension and are confident on rocky rooty ground. It's about 13k from memory and is good for a hours training.

Just over the Severn Bridge are the biking areas of Cwm Carn and Afan Argoed. They are purpose built trails which drain well and are good for all-weather riding.

Although there is a jump park just up the road and a good trials riding scene here, the whole area is great for XC and tight winding singletrack

So in a tiny nutshell thats our local area. In my next post I'll intoduce some of my biking buddies.

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