Another new bike Sir? Surely not?

No, not for me which considering I already have *ahem* quite a few, this seemed an appropriate time to redress the balance. My wife’s old bike was, in no particular order, too big, too heavy, too old and too rusty. It also employed an innovative braking system technically described as “pointing the behemoth uphill” or, in extreme cases “abandon speeding bike and head for the soft shrubbery“. As she’s not exactly enthusiastic about riding anyway – although this could be because her husband is essentially a mobile scar tissue lab – this seemed the ideal time to add safety and a little style to her cycling environment.

Sideways Tim offered up one of these:

Hardrock Sport Disc Womens

at a very reasonable price since it was all Woman specific with ickle fork springs and lowered standover. My eyes were drawn to a proper set of brakes, although I did warn Carol than her traditional technique of using both hands to wrench the lever barwards was going to require a rethink. Unless she’d kept quiet a pechant for describing a perfect parabola over the bars before being lightly nudged by the riderless bike.

The courier had been obviously playing frisbee with the box which slightly diluted the myth than new bikes are fantastic whoever they are for, but 20 minutes later she’d properly christened it by riding it gently into a wall. I’m proud to say that she’s learnt from the master there; Al ‘target fixation‘ Leigh preaches the word of accident to the entire family. It’s a great little bike and I think we’re going to have loads of fun wobbling around the countryside as a family zoned mobile chicane. So it is mildly ironic to consider I’ve spent way more on a single set of forks than we did on this entire bike. Best to keep that quiet I think.

Having first bought cycle specific clothing in 1994 and never felt the need to purchase anything since, she’s now keen to prod the tender underbelly of modern riding clobber. I’m assuming this opens up all sorts of opportunities for me to add to my modest collection of frames and clothing, but I’ve yet to find the right time to check.

I’m so impressed with this splendid little Spesh that it’s been granted permanent residency in the barn. It’s that good 🙂

Old dogs. New Tricks.

You know how back in the good old days everyone was lumbered with an amusing middle name. Bob “Bogdoor” Smith and Will “GoatFimbler” Jones, that kind of thing. Well maybe it was just my school then, but anyway my friend Andy “The Loon” Hooper is not a man in the first flush of youth nor in possention of a full set of unbroken bones. The two may be connected.

Here he is in happier times. He’ s somewhat vertically challenged but belies his small size by going large, which is why his second nickname “The Crash Test Gnome” resonates so strongly.

He bust a wrist earlier this year which maybe should have peeled some warning bells in a man more aware of his mortality. Instead Andy felt that beginning dirt jumping in his mid 40s would be a more appropriate response. This is a part of the sport generally left to those with low hanging jeans, piss pot helments and acne. Pubety is something they still have to look forward to.

The picture below is at Dalby Forest where Andy managed to clear the “pack” on a number of occasions before stupidly having “one more go

He traded distance for height, left it a little short and straddled the last jump landing his back wheel on the lip. The energy that should have taken him forward, instead pitched him off the bike before planting him face down in the dirt from about seven feet up. Although encased in ankle to forehead body armour, he still re-cracked his wrist, broke a bone in his elbow and tarmac’d his entire left sizes with angry purple bruising. Three weeks on and he’s still limping.

The full face saved his teeth and possibly more as half an hour of his life has disappeared after the accident (although he remembers getting up and pushing the bike to the van). Andy reckons his “going big” days are over and has sold his freeride bike to fund a rather more XC orientated one.

But knowing “The Loon” as I do, I wonder how long it’ll be before he cracks. Hopefully mentally and not physically.

You see, I told you it was sunny.

I was accused of meteorological inaccuracy on declaring that Scotland had indeed but both bonny in terms of riding and weather so here are some random pictures proving my innocence. And giving me a chance to gloat a little on a fantastic – if slightly painful – weeks riding.

Rider lost in crop circle. Mabie Singletrack. Roll Down, Kirroughtree.

Rider lost in corn circleMabie forest - do my pads look big in thisNige - slabby roll down

Nigel Gurning the rock step, KT. Small bike, big balls, Ae. Tim hoisting the dirtbag, Ae.

Nigel - woooah where's he goingSmall bike, big ballsTim - Ae

Dave. Ae. Climbing. Ae. Tim, Darkside, Mabie

See told you the sun shinedMore climbingAnd once more

Dave/Jay, Lakes. Dave/Jay, having a nice push, Lakes. Descending, Lakes.

Jay's lip gets some exerciseAre we there yet?Downhill at last

Tim, Darkside. Dave, Darkside. Tim, gap jump, Darkside.

Tim - Mabie, darksideDave having a thinkTim - gap, darkside

Al, Rock roll down, KT. Al, Cold, McMoab. Nige, Darkside. Tim, Log skinny, Mabie.

First ride after accident. 10 minutes in. Thanks.Al - wet on McMoabNigel - dark side MabieTim - mabie, log skinny

Photo’s 2,3,9, 10, 12,13,15 and 15 (C) Tim Beresford. Reproduce without his permission and he’ll drop the Dirtbag on you 🙂

Okay it wasn’t exactly Sunny all the time but hopefully you can see how much fun we were having.

Might be a trip back in September. I am bidding on ebay for a suit of armour 🙂

Scotland was indeed bonny..

.. and while rain was sweeping the south, we were bathed in Scottish Sunshine. This is not the same as English sunshine as the Sun is rather shy and hides behind the clouds and often a short sharp shower reminds you that venturing out without a waterproof is an act of extreme foolhardiness. As was falling off on the second day while riding a knarly flat bit of trail. With perfect precision I ripped open the same elbow that had recently acquired a thin layer of scar tissue after the previous unplanned al/flint interface.

Luckily my riding buddies lashed me back together and through the medicinal power of alcohol I was able to stoically continue if at a slightly reduced pace. And with significantly more pain every time a bump was encountered which when you’re riding mountain bikes in Scotland is about every second. Fortunately I had sufficient body armour to protect a small frightened elephant against a nuclear attack, less fortunately, I’d left most of it in the car when gravity came calling.

While carefully wheeling the bike into our rather splendid accommodation, my bleeding and brooding elbow was perfectly positioned to slam into the door jam. For a while afterwards, I lay on the floor and tried to find my happy place. This proved to be in the pub opposite which sold painkillers under the name of “Shag-Nasties Bottom Biter” or whatever the local ale was called.

Here’s a picture taken by a friend who has kindly cut my head off. That was one course of action I was considering after impaling an open wound on the mortice lock.


Those knee pads saw some action on the last day when I fell off twice within half a mile. The first in front of a ghoulish audience who applauded loudly my ham fisted attempt to navigate a rock garden (“plants” including spikey flint, hard edged boulder and nervous perennial). When I say applauded, of course I mean after I’d dispensed with the services of the bike and rock surfed to a grinding halt balanced precariously on, what I’m euphemistically referring to as, “the fruit basket“.

In a huff, I remounted the trusty steed and pedalled off without a backward glance. God knows where I was looking tho because a minute later, the whole sky and ground thing inverted and yet again the mean trail searched out uninjured limbs to bruise. Essentially I am now considering renting myself out as mobile scar tissue.

Still it was a fantastic week’s riding even if Easyjet provided me with no confidence in their ability to find a plane to take me home. Instead I hitched a lift in a mate’s camper van whose top speed would not trouble any form of speed camera but this was more than made up for in it’s fixtures and fittings. Nice cup of tea on the move, fridge with cold beer in it and enough space to get some decent kip. Probably should make it clear, I wasn’t doing the driving.

Back on the commuting bike tomorrow. Hopefully no one will try and kill me, it really isn’t necessary considering my recent policy of self harm 😉

Forget hangover cures…

I need something slightly stronger for this:

Riding on Sunday as an excuse to go for a couple of beers. Lost the front end on an off camber corner and ripped open my knee (and other various body parts) on some Chiltern flint. Couldn’t helped noticing that when I was looking at my knee, the  tendon was staring back at me. That’s not right I thought and it wasn’t.

Seven hours in A&E while they prodded, cleaned, injected into the open wound and before deciding it’d have to be cleaned out under a general. Of those seven hours, about one hour was being treated while the other six were spent waiting for x-rays, doctors, consultants and lots of other busy people. Still nice to see the NHS is staffed up on all our Taxes eh?

Next day they didn’t do the op as they were busy. That’s ok as I didn’t really want to eat or drink anything for 30 hours while they threatened to take me to theatre. Finally cleaned and stitched it up on Tuesday and sent me home today mainly as I am the man who put the patient into impatient.

10 days before the stitches come out. Can’t have a shower, can’t drive, can’t do more than a comedy shuffle. Wife not impressed as we’re on hols next week and my contribution will likely be lying in a chair drinking beer.

And in case you’re interested, yes it bloody hurts.

It’s dropped off!

It’s been an odd weekend – not totally fulfilling nor entirely without incident but odd none the less.

Firstly – and you may wish to imitate the sound of a one person’s ego trumpet being sounded here – I managed to limp off that total mind fuck that is the log drop at Chicksands. It looks a bit like this.

For those of you who don’t ride bikes, think of the challenge as essentially riding off a small cliff with no ground visible whatsoever as you fly blindly into space. For those of you who do, I’ll just lightly bask in your adoration.

There are a few caveats though. Firstly it’s taken a year of non progression to get this far. June 26th 2005 was a date neon pinked in the ride diary as I conquered the qualifier for the log drop. Once you’ve done the large ladder (drop 5-6 feet, carry about 10-12 feet), you’re ready for the log.

Well not me obviously. Six more visits, six times it never looked likely. There’s one bigger obstacle that the log drop, and at this rate I’ll be 192 before attempting it based on this level of progression. Secondly I was talent compensated in terms of the bike. A kindly soul lent me a six inch travel full suspension sort of trail bike that a proper rider could launch off Jupiter and land smoothly in Milton Keynes.

And for most of the day it wasn’t really happening. This super sprung bike mirrored my normal chosen steed for Chicksands only in that had two wheels. It was longer and heavier which made for some quality nose first dives off the ladders. Big forks saved me but didn’t really give me much confidence nor did lending it to a mate who rode it off almost everything with consummate ease. So not the bike then. Like that was a surprise.

The run in to the drop is a fast downslope downgrading to almost flat before the log appears large in your focus and the rest of the world disappears. The phrase “A leap of faith” could have been specifically coined for this drop. I’d never really tried it before – oh I’d rolled up to the end and stared down into the abyss but at all times both hands were locked hard onto the brake levers. This time though when I took a sighter, I knew it’d have to go the next run or it’d have beaten me for the day. Maybe forever. Lots of my riding buddies, who I don’t think are beneficiaries from of my death in service insurance policies, repeatedly point out that there’s no reason I can’t ride this. Except that I’m shit scared of course – I’m not sure they’ve taken that into account. I was twitching nervously, sweating from glands I’m sure don’t exist in any medical dictionary and breathing like Darth Vader having sex with a vacuum cleaner.

Top of the slope, clear my mind. And I mean clear, think of nothing at all, not technique, not consequences, just release the brakes and be a happy passenger cleared for take off. Half way down my brain rebelled and attempted to wrest control of the brake levers but by then it was far too late. Failing to stop at the edge is akin to falling off the edge of a waterfall. The first thing to hit the ground would be my head closely followed by an all body impact from a 40lb bike. That was even scarier than just – as those who understand the nuances of such things “riding off the fucker

I just rode off the fucker then. It was fine, no big deal, dunno why I’d made such a huge fuss about it. Certainly the seconds of silence between take off and landing were mildly perturbing but really there was no excuse for the emotional celebrations that followed. I threw the bike away and high fived complete strangers smug in the knowledge that I was now in the “log drop club” and other people weren’t. Yes, I really am that shallow. No I don’t intend to do anything about it.

Riding off it looks like this for those with cahoonies the size of village show root vegetables. I was having it somewhat more medium verging on the small.

But to “own” any drop (frankly I’ve never owned a drop, but I’ve rented a few on a good day), one has to survive three times at the scaffold of fear. Only then are you admitted to the club and can cheekily ignore it for a while on future visits claiming “fork issues“, “inappropriate tyres” or “bad fish the previous evening“. But now it wasn’t messing with my head, it was just another thing I knew I could do. Not well, not that quickly and certainly lacking in any style, unless hanging on for dear life and gurning has come back into fashion, but serially and without too much fear.

A little faster, a little more committed and little further out before falling back to earth cushioned by my borrowed big springs changed my state to “log ownee”. I’ve never been so proud – no honestly.

Nobody cares though. All my friends did it ages ago, my wife and kids don’t understand it and – rightfully – care even less as long as I’m back in one piece and even my ego shudders against the prospect of shouting it from the rooftops of an Internet forum.

I tell you what though, it sure beats hell out of putting up fence posts. I should know, that’s my reward for playing silly buggers yesterday.

Bristol Bikefest. Ow, Ow, Ow.

“On your right please mate, whenever you’re ready“. Oh I was ready alright, ready to lie down in the cool embrace of the leafy wood and wait to be stretchered out or abandoned as a rotting corpse, whichever came first. Either were preferable to actually riding another lap, or come to that another corner.

Having not ridden my hardtail for more than two hours at a stretch and almost never ridden for six hours in a day, my piss poor performance hardly merits an entry. But being crap wasn’t what really bothered me, it’s the whole “endurance” scene man – I’m more you Enjoyence rider; couple of laps, have a few goes at the good bits, retire to the bar and point aggressively at those zero fat body Nazi’s tightly wrapped in billboard lycra.

It hadn’t started badly. Having feasted on a balanced carbo load of fish AND chips washed down with a couple of fizzy lagers, the prospect of spending any longer in a waist high field of blowing pollen drove us out to do a lap. Since this was the night before the race, the track was all ours which considering our pedestrian pace was no bad thing. At 8k, the course is short enough to be tackled with vigour, but varied enough to suspend tedium on multiple laps. Rocky and rooty sections linked buff singletrack and height was gained on a couple of easy climbs. Super quick on a hardtail if you had the strength to manual over obstacles and stand tall when the trail added gradient and undulation. Big grins at the end of the lap, we felt pretty good for the race tomorrow. But that probably was the post lap beers talking.

Continue reading Bristol Bikefest. Ow, Ow, Ow.

Burnt at one end, reamed at the other..

The Bristol BikeFest was a fantastic event. If you like that kind of thing. Which I really don’t. I’ll download the entire theorapy session later but – and this is the last time – I’d yet again failed to detect the subtle nuance between Endurance Racing and Enjoyment Riding.

The bike was great. The course was fantastic. The weather was hot. The beer was most welcome. I hated it after about 3 hours.

Oh and waist high grass, a strong breeze and a hayfever sufferer make not a happy trio.

Why oh why oh why?

This post is written in the style of an eighties revisionist parady of Barry Took presenting Points Of View. Proper Public Service Broadcasting hosted by a man for whom a Christmas Cardigan held no fashion fears.

Alison B Yoghurt writes “I see that you’ve decided to waste both your time and money entering an enduro race in which only embarrassment and possible permanent injury awaits. Why oh Why?

To answer honestly, I’ve absolutely no idea. Other than to wheel out the old staple that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Since this broad category includes painting barn doors, relocating sofas and abandoning alcohol self medication, it’s should be obvious that it lacks efficacy when compared to anything within striking distance of sensible.

Continue reading Why oh why oh why?

Welsh Rarebit

That’ll be what’s euphemistically known as my “thin bit” then. Summer arrived in Wales and with it my perennial battle of my pasty white skin versus the power of the sun. And since I accelerate from zero to angry lobster in about 30 seconds in direct sunlight, it’s a battle I’m sure to lose. None of this is helped by the fading sun cover once afforded by a full head of hair. Still I can always reconcile the rapidly receding hairline against the almost proven fact that a bald pate is a solar panel for a sex machine.

Aside from raw patches of sunburn breaking out on exposed limbs, this was the best riding weekend for bloody ages. Dry fast trails and long cold beers interspersed with drivelled bollocks being talked and the odd disaster befalling the wrecking crew.

We managed exactly no miles out of the car park Saturday before Dave fixed Brad’s brakes through the dark mechanical art of pissing the hydraulic fluid out of the calliper. No matter, this gave us time to “carbo load” on Bacon sarnies and strong coffee. Oops, yes fell off the coffee wagon this weekend although “set fire to it in glee” is probably a more accurate simile.

And again. Tes that's dustBrad - Whytes HairpinBrad and Brian - 9 foot river crossing

Continue reading Welsh Rarebit