Friday, February 22, 2013

Feeling stronger - The long road to Liguria.

After Sundays ride up on the moor, we were keen to get back during the week, so Des, Robin and myself ventured out on a cold, clear Wednesday night for what is fast becoming our night ride of choice. I've been night riding at a big variety of trails over the last few years, like Drumlanrig, Carron valley, Mugdock park, Mabie and a fair few more, but FM has become my favourite. Pretty lucky that, as it's just up the road.

Although it's tough on both legs and lungs, the geography of the area means that you gain height very quickly straight away, no big long dull slogs, it's straight up, which means the descending is never far away. The trails don't tend to hold too much water either, and after the last weeks dry spell, it's riding really, really well.

I love the way that there is a real feeling of exposure at certain parts of the ride, then you pop out onto a wee promontary or hillock, and get a view of all the lights of the ayrshire coast, from Ayr in the south, to Largs a few miles up the road and beyond. An hour and a half is perfect before heading home for a warming shower and hot tea.

I had another spin class this week as well, my 2nd in 5 days. I'm pretty sure this will be good, concentrated training for this years events, as well as July's trip to the Italian Maritime Alps. I'm pretty sure I could feel small benefits already, on today's ride.

I left work at 3 this afternoon, straight out onto the trails around the river Ayr. At a pretty decent pace, I was at Stair in less than 45 minutes, and again managed to restrain myself from venturing in for an ale by the fire. Back down through Annbank, think I may have nailed my KOM time on the bowling descent but I've not checked yet, and on toward Ayr. Checked out the pump track and new trails being built at Kyle academy looks very promising, they've got through a power of work in barely a week. 20 miles later, I was back home and had just enough time for a hot shower before Maz had a huge plate of spaghetti and meatballs in from of me. I'm a lucky Bowser indeed.

3 good rides this week, hopefully next week will offer similar weather, as I'm off all week. Sweet.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fairlie great

Meeting at Dalry station at Half past ten on Sunday morning, some of us were on time, but as usual, the walkers divas rolled in ready to ride, well, ready to chat and faff, if that counts. As usual, Stuart blamed Julie and vice versa.
Anyway, on we went with an 8k road climb, before turning off road onto cauldron hill, where the proper climbing, also known as pushing, begins. A wee double track contours round the hill, which usually gives the legs some respite, bit it was so wet it was like pedalling in sand. This trail leads onto another push up onto glentane hill, and the first strava descent of the day. Young Lloyd, aka Craig tried in vain to take my crown, but was thwarted by mud and big peaty drops.
Lloyd tries to no avail... Largs in the background
Des then departed as the rest of us headed up the big climb, kaim hill, for the most techy descent in the fairlie alps. My thighs were struggling after a spin class in the days previous, but managed to hold on. Again, young Lloyd tried to take another of my KOMs, in vain. He'll get them one day, but not just yet!. This time it was Julie and Stuart's turn to bail out, as Stuart had a dog to eat, or feed, or something like that. Vegans are weird.
Robin, Lloyd and myself then had a cracking run down kilruskin glen,the new trail, before slogging back up the moor road, which was busier than ever, due to fairlie Main Street still being closed after the weeks tragic events.
So, softer contouring along the bottom of black hill, another great descent ensued, all the way back down into fairlie glen, and the rockfest that lies therein. 30k and over 2700ft of climbing later, a train delivered us back to prestwick, and the delights of Finbar flanagans emporium, and it's ice cold comforting Heineken.
Today was almost like the first day of spring, and the weather looks great for the rest of the week, so a busy biker means a busy blogger. Sweet.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

No biking today...

But this is almost as good...

If anyone goes and rides the lovely natural trails at Dumlanrig, be sure to pop in to Thomas Tosh in Thornhill afterwards for caffeine and cake!. The skinny wedge is a kids small portion btw. Then had a nice misty walk round the drum to burn it off.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Grim ride, in more ways than the weather...

Big Ross @ Dalbeattie

After the previous punctures and wrecked mechs this week, it was no surprise that I carried on in the same vein into sunday's ride at Dalbeattie. 8 of us turned up on what was a grim, cold and wet February morning with the intention of riding the trails there, then heading along to Mabie to take in the red there.

After a briskly paced climb up to the top of moyle hill, the first descent claimed another tyre. The end of this trail is a steep rocky chute, with multiple line options. Needless to say the one I took (far too fast btw) had a sting in the tail. Launching off the drop right at the end, I just caught a tyre busting jaggy mofo of a rock. The rip was to deflate the tyre straight away, sending me off into the muddiest puddle in the whole of the stewartry.

I don't know if it was this tumble, or flipping my bike upside down which did the next damage, but either way, the remote for my reverb seatpost disappeared into the mire as well. Jesus wept. This, combined with constant sleet and a freezing cold wind, kind of put paid to my enjoyment for the day. So much so, that when it was suggested that we don't bother with Mabie, and head to the tearoom at the end of the ride instead, there was no argument from me.

This has brought about a premature end to the Heckler. I was planning on selling it soon anyway to make way for a new frame, so this has brought about the inevitable. My first ride on the heckler was at Dalbeattie in July 2011, so it's a fitting end. I've had all the bearings replaced under warranty recently, so someone will get a cracking frame out of it. I've also taken this period of no-full-susser-ness as a chance to get the reverb serviced, while I await the replacement lever.

So, I'll be on a hardtail til about the end of April. I should be fine, as I managed for over 8 years before buying the Santa Cruz. Bye bye, heckler, it's been a blast.....

Oh, before I go, check this out - never mind the shroud of Turin, or all these faces of long dead stars you see in the sun when some tube cuts open a potato or something.....

A bike saddle appeared in my coffee this morning! Not only that, it bears a startling resemblance to a Bel-air, my saddle of choice!. Freaky....


Friday, February 8, 2013

Mud, sausage, and a bit of a walk....

Sometimes you can ride for weeks, and never use any of your trail tools, tubes and other stuff we tend to carry with us. This has not been one of these weeks. Sometimes you can head out for a local ride, and not take the likes of a camelbak, with all it's pockets for tools and water, not even a water bottle, just you and the bike. Today was not one of those days.

Setting the alarm to awake me from my night shift slumber, after some good coffee and toast, I headed out on the Cyclo cross bike for a wee change. I'm always amazed at just how fast you can cover the ground on a CX bike, reaching the trails of the river Ayr in 12 minutes instead of my usual 15 served to re-affirm this. That is, until you hit the roots and glaur (an auld scots word for mud, Adele;-) then it just feels insufficient, but still lots of fun.

I decided to head up through the enterkine estate, and immediately noticed signs for a farm shop, promisingly new. The old dear from the farm welcomed me in and showed me her wares (steady now). I'll definitely be back for some of their beef, as it looks really good stuff, all taken from their herd of heilan coos (highland cows, Adele) the old deary gave me a flyer, and I told her to gimme a few more, as we employ over 900 people at work, and I'd post some on the notice board. With this, her eyes lit up and she said 'well in that case, take a pack of sliced sausage and let me know what you think'. Farmers never miss a trick.

So, off I went, sausage in tow, back down the river from stair, ignoring the obvious pull of the stair inn and its lovely real ales within, back to the trails and river views. Wildlife was everywhere today, mainly in the form of plenty of buzzards and sparrow hawks, and also a lovely squadron of waxwings. Spring definitely seems to be around the corner. Halle-feckin-lujah.

Then came this weeks latest mechanical. Riding through the deep, compost like mud of the Auchincruive estate, cue a loopy great twig going through the rear mech and ripping it clean in half. Bugger. After a couple of miles walking on trails that would have been easier ridden, I was met by an angel in the form of Craig, my Lloyd Christmas lookalike riding buddy from the local bike shop. Back home, and Marianne has rustled up an absolutely awesome roast chicken with wine, cream and tarragon sauce. Fire on, and Bowser is a happy bunny.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chasing the Deer...

Last nights night ride started off in the usual manner with a grunt up the Fairlie moor road from Fencebay smokehouse, but had a couple of unexpected twists....


We headed off into Kilruskin woods to ride the twisty woodland singletrack that lies within, leading back down to the starting point. About two Thirds of the way down, I came over the top of a steep muddy chute, which was like greased weasel shite as usual. Robin had already opted for a comedy fall, and I duly followed, a few yards back after the front wheel washed out. The next few seconds was a blur of madness. Little did I know that Robin had startled a young deer on the way down, and the daft thing had ran down the trail ahead of him, him chasing quickly behind, until his dismount.

As I was about to get back up, I heard Robin shout something, and turned round to see the deer absolutely hammering back up the hill past him, and then it promptly hurdled my prostrate bike, which was lying in the middle of the trail, with the front wheel twisted skyward. It actually clipped my front wheel with quite a thump on the way over it, and I thought it was going to topple over in mid air, but the graceful buck recovered and was gone as quickly as it had appeared. Mucho laughter ensued.

Then it was up the moor road for a second time, but this time peeling off northward for a hoot of a descent down Fairlie glen, but instead of riding the full down, we headed further north in search of the unknown trails hidden within kelburn country park. This resulted in another strange occurrence. A ripped tyre. Fairlie moor is muddy and soft, who knows how the tear occurred, maybe that deer had a ragged toe-nail?. It was increasingly colder at this point, below zero and getting on a bit. After a quick repair, we were off again down kelburn glen on paths that really were not worth the long climb up to find them.

Back to the car a little later than expected, and home at 10.30 pm with just enough time for a pre-nightshift shower, and in to work. A ride like this keeps you going through the night, with the added adrenalin giving extra zip.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stolen rides...

Sometimes having a little one makes you realise that you have to make best use of your time, grabbing a ride here and there when the inevitable chance comes calling. I've not been out on the bike all week, due to many reasons, but mainly, painting, having workman in all week, and the truly biblical wind and rain we have been blessed with all week.

So come Saturday, and with Maz working all weekend, there didn't look like I had a chance to reverse the trend. But wait, what is this in the calendar? Maria has a birthday party from 1 til 3?! Happy days. So it was, I dropped her off looking unlike any other parent dropping there wee yin off, in full bike regalia, and the heckler propped up at their gate. Thing is, I didn't even get a strange look, all the other parents must be used to it by now. Probably even have a name for me....

90 minutes later, I'm peeling off mud covered layers, a satisfactory smile on my face, heading for a hot shower. The trails were not as muddy as I had thought they would be, but the longest puddle in ayrshire shows no sign of draining.

I'll definitely be night riding this week, need to get the climbing legs working again, and plan on heading to one of the stanes on Sunday. Happy biking.