Sunday, June 30, 2013

'Reet in Reeth....


Bloody hell it's windy down in t'yorkshire!. Des and I headed down to Reeth in the Arkengarthdale valley on Saturday morning, planning to practice on the Saturday, and ride the inaugural 'Ard rock enduro on the Sunday.

We never really got riding til after 2 o'clock on the Saturday, as we had tents and stuff to set up, and we were in no rush to be honest. So we set off up a steep road climb and had a look at stage 4 on the way up, which would be the final stage on the day. It didn't look too hard, so we decided against riding it, to save having to ride back up the climb again, and wanting to save energy for the enduro itself.

So we carried on along fremington edge to the start of stage 1. What an absolute joy!, fast, grassy, rocky and steep, brilliant, the kind of riding both Des and I enjoy. After that, we pushed up the steep path back up onto the escarpment and rode onto the start of stage 2. This was similar to stage 1, but I liked it even more. There were two sections which were in steep, fast, but really rocky gullies, with high bankings on either side, giving a Star Wars type sensation of speed, and then more steep, loose, shaley chutes to keep us on our toes.

There was a really nice rocky bridleway descent straight from the bottom of stage 2, which I would personally have added into the the stage, but the organisers thought better, I'm sure there was a good reason, probably something to do with the archaic English access laws.

To access stage 3, there was a bit of a monster climb, first on road, then on dusty track, all the way to the top of the old mine workings on top of high Reeth moor. The wind up there was hellish, and was exacerbated by the start position, on top of an old slag heap. A points we were standing holding onto our bikes, trying to stop them blowing away, and only the helmet straps stopped them blowing clean off our heads!.

This was a longer stage, a bit more pedally, but still a hoot!, I didn't think I'd done too well on this stage, but my time wasn't bad.then we had this climb to the final stage! You can see the road section, then the track slicing its way up to the top right of the picture below.


Again, it wasn't too bad, and by the time we were back up on fremington edge, I was starting to feel quite strong, maybe the cheese n ham salad roll and bananas were working on me. There was a final windy hill top ride along the edge, before hitting the last stage.

The course here went down through farmers fields, battering through downed sections of dry stane dykes which could nip the unwary tyre (more on that later!) and some really steep, off camber grassy sections, interspersed with massive rocks and loose shale. Brilliant.

I got to the bottom, and looked back up for my ulster buddy, only to see him walking sullenly down the trail. Bugger. Puncture. Shame, as we were both on decent times up until then, but that's the danger of enduro racing, any mechanical at all will mess up your section, and ultimately your total combined time.

I ended up finishing 134th out of about 300 riders, pretty happy with that, way better than the last enduro at Glentress. But with a bit more training, and a bit less 'enjoyment' on the Saturday night, I can't help feeling that a top 100 finish would have been achieved.

Still, a great weekend, topped off with a good curry in Penrith, and completely finished to perfection when I got home and my lovely mother in law had left a couple of bottles of Arran blonde for me. Woohoo!.


Top of stage 2


Looking down stage 2


This enduro lark is ace!




Robin would have loved it...


The bar!


Nice chilled vibe


Dales bike centre - HQ for the weekend


Sunday, June 23, 2013

British road race championship Glasgow.

Standard, Fenn and the Manx missile

During an evening of BBQ, beers and good company, I decided that I fancied getting the road bike out to cycle up to Glasgow to watch the men's race at the British Road race champs in the city. Lizzie armitsted won the women's race earlier, and we saw her later on walking down bath street, always amazes me how small most of these roadies are.

Anyway, Craig and I left about half eleven and rode up the Kerrix road to symington and then into Kilmarnock, and onto the old A77 which is an excellent cycling road now, since the new M77 upgrade was done a few years back.

We met up with Drew and Julie at the clunch road, about halfway to Glasgow, and rode in with them. Drews a helluva strong rider and towed us all in the final few miles into the city. I've not ridden road for quite a while, but I felt pretty good and particularly enjoyed the sprinting and darting around the traffic in Glasgow, as I always do.

Just under 34 miles all in, not a bad run in 2 hours, as we had a fair old headwind most of the way to contend with. It's a different world watching these guys perform, they are so, so fast. They must have been hitting 50mph coming down West George street, and the speed in the chicane through Nelson Mandela square was quite jaw dropping.

When we left Cav was in the lead group, so there was only going to be one winner, as the likes of Ian Stannard and David Millar are not known for their sprinting ability, indeed, this was the result. Train back home in time for tea. Good stuff.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bloody hell! Who's all that?!

Myself, Des and young Lloyd turned into west Kilbride railway station car park for the Friday night sprockets bike shop ride and thought just what I said in the title!. An absolutely amazing turnout, 16 of us for a spin up into the ayrshire alps.

The initial enthusiasm of the young bucks who bolted out of the car park didn't last past the first climb, when the old bulls (yes, I am now classed as an old bull!) ripped up the hill past them. Not long into the ride, we came across wee teeny toty Julie, and her trail hound Stuart, getting some secret training in on OUR trails, the bloody cheek of it!.

Anyway, a great night, warm, clear and the trails running fast as as hell. The only thing better than the trails was the pint of schiehallion in the village inn.

Sprockets shop rides may have a bit of potential after all......

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day fairlie.

A full Scottish breakfast is not the best pre-ride meal, and certainly not when the sun is high in the sky and the ride starts off with a climb for over 5 miles, but that's how Sundays ride started!. My good lady wife and daughter had taken me out for a lovely breakfast for Father's Day, the breakfast was lovely, the service was not however.

So it was a rush job to get to Robins' house for a noon meet, and with Robin not riding due to the ladder in his tights still not being healed enough, he had the coffee on to accompany the cracking banoffee pie that Des had made. And we still had all that climbing to go. We had the pleasure of meeting Robins' dad, who seemed a smashing guy, and Robins' own good lady, who as ever was enjoying the bike chat.....

Also riding with us were Julie and her faithful omnipresent trail hound, Stuart, a pair of XC whippets who keep you on your toes, on the way up anyway ;-). We basically rode the big descents and went high to enjoy the views, finishing with the usual blast down Fairlie Glen, avoiding the plunge off the trail at the now renamed Klaus Korner, and jumped on a train back to Dalry. No mention of train fares though....



Friday, June 14, 2013

New trails....

Young Lloyd and myself had a local ride on our local trails up by the river Ayr last night, and had the pleasure of finding a new trail, in woods between Annbank and tarbolton. Must be over a mile of nice XC type woodland singletrack, but as ever, it doesn't lead where you would want it to. Approaching the end of the trail, we could see where we wanted to be at stair, but alas there were a few fields between us and the river Ayr way. Nice piece of singletrack though.

We then retraced or tyre marks and back to the stair section of the river Ayr way, which has become unbelievably overgrown with waist high nettles. This is supposed to be a bloody tourist attraction!. I feel another email to the council coming on.... Anyway, once at the river, the trails are better, but I don't know if I've ever seen the river as low as this in years, never seen anyone fishing at all as it would be pointless. Just goes to show how dry we've had it for a while now.

We then blasted back through Annbank, with Craig trying to get his strava 'king of the mountain' back in the bowling club descent, before hitting the jumps at mount Charles wood, then heading home. Good night, only 18 miles, but mostly singletrack. Nice.

The view toward the jumps



Young Lloyd on the wee double


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Local trails in the good weather.....

I've not posted for a while, but done think for a minute that I've not been biking!, no way, I've been out load, it's just that our local trails are in such good condition just now, I don't really feel the need to travel far and wide and because of that, I don't really want to be posting about riding the same areas all the time. That would be boring (I may be boring you already!).

The last couple of weeks we've been mostly riding fairlie or our little trails up by the river Ayr, around Annbank and Auchincruive estate. There are also some new purpose built trails and a pump track at Kyle academy in Ayr, which is pretty good for honing the skills. Auchincruive estate has a small wood with some mental big jumps built by some young uns, and they've even been kind enough to build some do-able doubles for us old(ish) uns as well!.

I've also started a new job in the last few weeks as well, which means I'm 7-3 mon-fri on training for the whole summer, which although being good at freeing up weekends, curtails my monthly week off riding, and also the morning spins pre-backshift.

But, we've plenty planned, fairlie last night, tomorrow and Saturday, similar next week, and then another enduro event planned for the last weekend in June, at swaledale in Yorkshire. Hopefully not as brutal as the last one!.

And it's only 3 weeks after that we head to molini di Triora and the Italian alpine goodness that it promises!. Woohoo!.