Sunday, December 29, 2013

A wee mess about pre-work

As I was working this afternoon, and it was a nice crisp day, I decided to take the new bike up to some wee local trails and see how it felt after making some adjustments to the suspension and cockpit set up. What a difference, although I'm looking forward to getting the right rear wheel fitted after it comes back form the shop. I'll have to do a bit of tinkering with the shock set up yet, but the bike was far, far better than it was last time at North Third. 

Looks better with a bit of mud on it, too!.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A wet, wild struggle

Today was the only day I could ride this week, as it's been family time over Christmas, and work calls tomorrow and Sunday, so face the weather we did. Robin and myself met up with Aron and Charlie at cambusbarron to ride the trails at North third reservoir. It was pretty wild all day, with a Robin nearly being blown off his bike at one point, whilst we were crossing the dam wall at the head of the reservoir, indeed, the reservoir was more like a raging sea than an inland water.

I had the new bike out for its first outing, and as there was an issue with my back wheel, I borrowed a wheel from young Lloyd, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but Jesus! Those minion dhf dual ply tyres are unbelievably draggy and slow, I felt as if I was towing Des along behind me the whole way. My rear brake was dragging a little too, so I understandably struggled to keep up with the others. I've not really looked at shock and fork settings and pressures yet, so I'll need to get on with that as it felt incredibly slack. Not enough air in the rear and too much in the forks, aligned to a massive front tyre meant I was too far back for the whole ride. I've a feeling the hans dampf tyres may be swapped out, but I'll give them another chance, once I get the rear wheel sorted.

Going down hill was a different matter, very confidence inspiring and I'm looking forward to some big days in the mountains on it!.

We have friends coming for dinner and drinks on Saturday night, but I may try and get a sneaky morning ride in before work on sunday...

Monday, December 23, 2013


When I was a wee lad, I always enjoyed Christmas Eve more than the day itself, as I always thought it was a more magical day. I think this was down to the anticipation, what would santa bring?, would I see his sleigh?, all these things were very exciting for a young lad.

Well, anticipation is still a magical thing, even as I creep toward my 39th year!. As some of you may know, I've waited over 10 months for a certain big bouncy bike frame to come. Last month, I gave up the chase, a man can only wait so long...

So, I went for something else, something I hadn't even really considered before, indeed I even surprised myself a little. I got the phone call today, from the local bike shop 'Big fella! your frame is here! come and get it'. I had the Christmas food shopping to do first, so I flew round and got everything we needed, and headed up the A77 to the shop. You can imagine the disbelief when Dave told me that they'd sent the wrong one, the 29" wheeled version instead.... Oops.

So, I thought this was going to be like Christmas Day today, only to be disappointed by a wee clerical error, but not to worry, the replacement has been dispatched and I'm assured it will arrive tomorrow.

I've been given another Christmas Eve, I can feel the anticipation building, like a young 5 year old Bowser, waiting for the big day....

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This is the path?


After Robin and I getting a wee bit lost in the Carrick hills last time, I decided to head up and stick to the path this time. Robin had called off, as his cat was unwell, and Des is in the middle of his winter hibernation, so I was on my tod again.

The 10 miles out to Fisherton was into a right bugger of a headwind, so it was a relief to climb up to the forest with a sidewind for a change. The trails were a wee bit muddier than a fortnight ago, and I was on and off the bike quite a bit at some of the bogs, slow going. I finally came to the fork that Robin and I had turned the wrong way at, and although the trail looked nice then, the cattle have made a right mess of it now. Bloody farmers. For the next mile and a half it was pretty grim, and I eventually got fed up of following the 'path' and blasted down through some fields when the road was in sight.

What looked like a firm, fast grassy field, turned out to be a muddy quagmire, but not until I was battering down at warp speed, how I stayed on the bike I'll never know. By the time I got to the bottom, I was head to toe in mud, so that was my plan for a soup and coffee stop hit on the head. Onward and upward, I climbed back up toward the mast, turned off to head over the open moorland leading to nether auchindrain, but this was pretty poor too, and dark skies were gathering. I bailed across more fields, and eventually down through balig farm, and back through Ayr to home.

I think I'll give the Carricks a miss from now on.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

Burning the midnight oil

I had the bright idea to get a training run for the puffer in, straight off my backshift at 11pm on Thursday night. It was a really mild night, into double figures degC, so the odd rain shower wasn't too bad. I took some back roads to tarbolton where the plan was to pick up some new trails I'd found recently and then hit the trails on the river Ayr way, and stay out into the wee small hours.

All was going fine until I was heading through the new trails, 12 miles from home, and I rode over a stick that snapped and ripped a bloody great gash in the side of my tyre. It was my own fault really, as I had pretty much wrecked this tyre the last weekend we had in the lakes, as it's a fairly thin walled mud tyre, not meant for the rocky abuse that Lakeland trails dish out.

So, I managed to bodge the tyre with an inner tube and an energy gel packet, and limped home at 2am. Pretty disappointed, as I was feeling okay and was just getting to the good bits. A close escape I suppose, as the only inner tube I had was one that Julie had fixed in the back of the car on the way to the cobbler! (I say fixed, I checked it the day after, and it was predictably flat).

I'm feeling okay about the puffer, as I'm getting decent miles in, and spin classes help too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dark, cold, wet and long...

In preparation for the puffer in January, klaus and I decided to get a longer nightride in last night, although I don't know if you can ever really prepare for what this event can possibly bring to the table. I left in the dark, and got home in the dark. 45 miles, mostly on road, but a ride up on the moor in the middle to break the monotony. We got royally soaked early on, the tailwind turned to become a headwind, and our feet were like blocks of ice, but it's more miserable miles in the bank.


Here's hoping it helps.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chicken soup for the soul....

Robin and I decided to have a wee local spin, exploring trails we hadn't ridden before, in the carrick hills south of Ayr. The ride started off with a 10 mile road ride to fisherton, during which Robin was given a gift, a very special gift, from above. From a seagull, right plum in the middle of his napper. Thank heavens for bike helmets!. Possibly the biggest bird toly I have ever seen!.

So, we headed off the road at fisherton, and climbed, up and up to the forest above, with beautiful views over Arran at one side, and the southern uplands on the other, on a glorious November day. The ground was quite dry, so the going wasn't too hard, up until we got a bit lost, and had to heather bash our way over brown carrick to the road we were aiming for.

Robin can only go so long without a shot of soup, it's an age thing, so further exploration was decided against, as the caf├ęs in the town below were in danger of running out of the life-giving elixir, so we headed down the road and back to Ayr, for soup, rolls and coffee at the secret garden.

We had a right good blether, both of us getting the weeks travails off of our chests, which was good. A wee spin back to chez bowser, and the delights within. Fire, food and possibly a beer. 40k deserves a beer, I'd say.




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keeping up with the Millers...

Another lovely autumn day, another sweet local ride. Myself and Lloyd headed up the long way on back country roads to failford for a blast down the river Ayr way, the young Miller had never been up past Stair, so this was new territory for him, not that it slowed him down any.

He's now rooming with another student in Glasgow who is a sponsored rider for canyon bikes, and so is out training and riding with him and it's really showing in his riding. Hopefully he'll reciprocate and this will also rub off on yours truly!. A good run of 40k to blow away the cobwebs from yesterday's riding, followed by a nice Sunday roast and a wander down to watch the Christmas lights being turned on in Prestwick. Ideal Sunday really.

This week coming is my backshift week, so I'm planning on either riding or spin class every day, as I think this puffer thing is gonna need all the training I can give.

Late edit - how could I forget! I saw my first kingfisher on the River Ayr too, stunning and a real surprise, a gorgeous flash of brilliant blue.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Basking in the Ayrshire winter sunshine....


Up bright and early this morning, fresh off the nightshift week (I always wake up early on the first normal sleep coming off nights) I had planned to ride the road miles between home and our usual riding spot, fairlie moor. Continuing my plan to get as many miles in as I can before the puffer, I left the house later than planned, I reckoned I would need the guts of two hours to cover the 44 km to the railway station, where I was to meet Robin and Des.

So, as I pedalled up the hill to the station, 15 minutes later than planned, I was preparing my apologies for holding up the ride ahead. No need, as when I got there, I had been stood up. As I checked my phone, I noticed texts to say that Robin was also cycling over from home, so wanted to change the meeting place, and Des was battling his dozenth man-flu of the year, manfully....

So, off I trudged up the climb to meet Robin, and we spent a couple of hours riding about our fave Fairlie trails, which are riding pretty well in spite of the recent weather. I love it up there...







Then we retired to the village inn , for a pint and some salty snacks. I'd really like to have repeated the 44k home, as I was feeling pretty fresh, but Maz had planned to meet friends in the afternoon, and I was struggling for time, so scotrails finest it was.

Back out again tomorrow for some road miles, I hope the weather gods shine again like they did today.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grinding it out

I've not been posting much recently, due to a combination of a few things really. The riding I have been doing in the past few weeks hasn't been particularly 'exciting' per se, as I'm really just trying to grind out the miles in preparation for the strathpuffer in January. As such, I've not been taking the camera out either, so don't really have much in the way of pictures for the blog either.

So, after a week of road riding and ploughing through the mud on the river Ayr trails, I fancied a ride on an all weather trail, step up the handy trail centre. Robin, Julie and myself headed for kirroughtree and the black route in what turned out to be very mild temperatures. I don't ride trail centres anywhere near as much as I used to, due to a preference for more natural rides these days, but the ready made nature of these places is unquestionably perfect for when the rest of the country is mud-bound.

Jackets were quickly jettisoned, as there wasn't a breath of wind. Lovely.



So, onto my nightshift week, it'll be local nightrides all week, grinding away.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First cold, crisp nightride

As much as I love a group ride with friends, I also absolutely love solo nightrides, and even more so when conditions were as perfect as last night. A mere 3 degC, not a breath of wind, clear skies and a panorama of stars. The trails were littered with crunchy autumn leaves, hiding the mud and roots below. Brilliant.

I headed up the River Ayr Way, up the long side to Annbank, the first time I've rode that side of the river since spring. Sad to see that the damage that had been done then by cattle breaking through the paltry fence hasn't been repaired, which is purely down to council apathy for not pursuing the farmer to get the damage repaired. You better believe if the shoe was on the other foot the farmer would have been paid handsomely by now.

Just before Annbank, my helmet light gave up the ghost prematurely, that's the second time in a few weeks, so it'll be going back for a wee warranty visit. Fortunately I had a light on the bars too, so could continue on and enjoy the rest of the ride. The woods at Auchincruive were eerily silent, save for the odd owl hoot, and some far distant fireworks, switching the light off and taking in the calm, coal-like darkness is quite something.

I was out for less than two hours, and only covered about 14 miles, but home for before 8.30 for tea and toast, with a rosy glow and a hot shower to look forward to. Bring on winter.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn colours. Wind and rain included.

Klaus and myself had decided on Thursday night to ride up to fairlie, getting some road miles in (and the odd bit of trail along the way) instead of the usual car journey. The extra hour in bed this morning was welcome, and softened the blow of going out in the wind and rain whilst Maz and Maria were enjoying a leisurely Sunday breakfast.

The winds not always bad, and a prevailing southerly blew me all the way to Eglinton park where I met klaus. Lots of chat followed of klaus' next bike, my next bike, the strathpuffer and other less worthy things, such as work and home life, before we started to climb up and out of Dalry toward the moor.

I must admit, once we got up to the start of the big descent, I wasn't feeling the love. Cold, wet and windy, with the trails slithering around below your tyres means all thoughts of quick times and wheels off the ground were quickly replaced by thoughts of getting down off the hill and into the village inn for hot soup and a pint of the shires finest ale, schiehallion. We weren't disappointed, with a hot cream of asparagus to accompany the beer.

55k all in, so some good training for the forthcoming rides.



Friday, October 25, 2013

You wait ages for a post...

And then two come along at once.

I know I've not posted for ages, still been doing lots of biking, but not really anything different, just the usual local trails. I was back up at fairlie again last night with klaus, as Des was nursing a fatal case of manflu, and Robin is away doing his best Thelma and Louise in the states, I've been coughing up green stuff all week, so struggled a bit on the climbs, but otherwise a great, clear night. Good way to get gee'd up for a night shift.

We also hatched a wee plan for a longer ride than usual through the shire on Sunday, I'll need to remember the camera for that. We were supposed to be doing the Perth enduro this weekend, but the weather has been stinking, and the trails will be a mire, so I'll save the forty quid entrance fee for another day.

Lake District autumn weekend


So mild there's still ladybirds!

Robin, Des, klaus and myself joined 4 members of my bike club, GMBC, at Ambleside for a weekend which promised rocky trails, hike a bikes, pub food and the odd beer, and it didn't disappoint. Staying at the YHA down at the lakeside, we met up and had a bite to eat in Dodds, which was great as ever and then retired back to the hostel for a beer and a bit of trail planning. With plans hatched, we retired to bed (or some of us did! The beardy brothers decided to try and recreate their youth and stay out til mental o'clock!).

We had planned to tackle the three passes, garburn, gatesgarth and nan bield, starting at staveley, with Julie and Stuart driving down and riding with us for the day. This plan was doomed to failure after some folk decided to fanny about and take nearly an hour and a half to get ready. You know who you are....

Anyway, we headed up the long slog up garburn from dubbs reservoir into the autumn mist, sadly, as the view over to troutbeck is usually lovely. The unseasonably warm weather meant jackets never stayed on for long, as 13 degC and a waterproof mean a sweaty biker.

Anyway, we got to the top, with Des a bellyful lighter due to his late night hijinx! And got ready for a nice big long, loose rocky descent to kentmere.

Looser than it looks

Once at the bottom, whilst we were debating a change of route plan due to the lack of daylight, Graham, a mate of mine from the club, developed a bit of a headache which soon got worse. He and John bailed out to the car, feeling he couldn't go on. We knew it must be a bad one, as G doesn't give up on a ride easily.

So, we decided to miss out on the mega hike a bike up onto Harter fell, promising to return on another day when the-folk-that-don't-do-early-starts ain't about!. Instead, we headed to staveley fell head, and then up through troutbeck and the short but mega sweet delights of the Jenkins crag descent. Great day.

This great day was tempered by the news that Graham had been whipped off in an ambience to Lancaster hospital, and then again to Preston with a suspected serious head injury, which resulted in a week in hospital. Get well soon mate.

A quiet night followed, with the chuckle brothers not keen to repeat the previous nights heroics. We had again decided to change our route for the following day, as the weather was worsening and helvellyn, at over 3000ft, might not be the best place to be in zero visibility!. So, after a hearty hostel breakfast, we drove up to pooley bridge and headed off up onto askham moor, and a return to a descent we'd tackled a wee while back, down to ullswater and the cracking bridleway around the lake. This is an out and back route, and John decided it was a bit too techy and tough for him, instead opting to ride the A592 back to the cars. Sod that.

Das face stuffer!


Eilidh fixing her own punctures, take note Julie!


Ullswater bridleway

After an immaculately timed stop at the tea room at the south end of the lake, we headed back the way we'd came, and back to a plate of well earned hot food at the sun inn in pooley. Cracking weekend again, the lakes never fails to deliver. Just like Robins snoring....


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Are you sure summer is finished?

What a weekend. The weather gods have been kind to us in the shire, basking in unheard of temperatures of 20 degrees and we're only a couple of days short of October. After a lovely family day on Saturday, Sunday was set aside for biking duties, and a wee jaunt up a mountain fitted the bill perfectly.

So, after a reasonably early start, I picked up young Lloyd and then the not so young Julie on the way to Arrochar to tackle our target for the day, Ben Arthur, better known as the cobbler. The cobbler climb starts at sea level, so with 881 metres of climbing ahead of us, we set off, accompanied by some friends from my old bike club, Stuart, Les and Gavin.

Jules carrying her bikes 'enduro stylee'

The cobbler, whilst not quite qualifying as a Munro as it's a mere 100ft short, is a very popular wee hill, especially on Glasgow bank holiday weekend, at times it was like braehead shopping centre, but at least the people weren't annoying fat weegies... You get the odd ignoramus, but in general most walkers out on the hills have a good attitude to mountain bikers these days, with the usual mix being one of inquisitiveness and incredulity at the same time.

Realistically, the last 150 metres of so is pretty much not rideable up or down, as we knew on the way up, but the summit had to be achieved on such a stunning day, as the views promised to be excellent. And excellent they were.




So, the descent....

As I said, most of the first section was unrideable, as it's too steep and on man made steps, which you really can't get any braking traction on. After that, the fun began. In between Julie and les' numerous punctures, the descending was fantastic, and only maybe a dozen or so water bars and gorges that require the bike to be lifted over. The last section down through the forest was an absolute hoot, with Robin, Young Lloyd, Stuart and myself riding pretty close together and having a right carry on. Brilliant,



As ever, I never really got many pictures on the descent, as it's always the last thing that's thought of whilst you're doing what you enjoy most, I try to make a point of doing it, but it doesn't always work out. And if you stop to take pics, there's always a chance of getting stuck behind a mincer. Nightmare.

A cracker of a day in the autumn sunshine, followed by coffee and cake. Long live summer.