Sunday, September 09, 2012

A roadie, i am not.

I am too heavy to climb well and i mash the cranks rather than dance on the pedals. I'm too scared of descending on rough roads on 25c tyres on a 17lb bike to be fast. I can roll along but i get fed up if there is too much of a head wind.

So it goes.

But sometimes, if the trails are too soggy or i need to burn some miles into the legs, i grab the Spooky and head out on the asphalt.

So it was today.

Fat, slow and unfit, with the Tour de Ben coming up, i needed to at least pretend i can gain some form. Hmmmm...

Sometimes, if i hit a good gradient and move at a decent clip in a highish gear, i end up smiling anyway. So it was round Carron valley reservoir. A slight tail wind earned by a drop off the Tak ma doon road and i got to Killearn with an average speed of 18mph. Thats ok given my fitness, i s'pose. Home after 44 miles in 2 hours 30 min.

Heres the map of where i was and what i did. 2 hours and 30 minutes of grovelling. A good wee bit of computer route planning geekery.

Friday, September 07, 2012


Yesterday the rain stopped and I immediately grabbed the Jones and headed for the local trails. I’m sure you can imagine the conditions given that it has been the wettest ‘summer’ for a hundred years here: of the 90 days of summer, it has rained for 60. I would add that I certainly can’t remember there being 30 days without rain, but I don’t mean to quibble.

 With blue skies, warmth in the air and a gentle breeze it took me 10 minutes to get to a spot I really like. The ground was hard going, but it was still good fun. The bridges were slightly drier and as such, didn’t cause the front wheel to skate off alarmingly if approached at any angle other than perfectly upright and perpendicular. I could throw some shapes which felt good.

 Still the stoke was missing.

Soon enough, with a window of a little over an hour possible, I turned tail and headed home. On the way, there is a small section of trail behind a wide, all-conditions path that is typically pretty muddy in several spots. For some reason I decided to give it a go despite the fact I might have ended up hub deep. It winds, dives, ducks and rattles over complexes of slick, grasping roots. Rhododendrons and gnarly old trees are close to you and there are several tree stumps that need to be avoided. It feels like an obstacle course in a corridor of greenery.

In order to make it through any potential deep mud baths I decided to absolutely batter into the trail, full steam ahead. In doing so, I came to realise how seldom I let it all hang out and give the trail everything I have. The risk of crashing is too great I suspect. But for that 50 odd meters of trail I gave it some proper sausage.

 Near the exit point back onto the wider trail there is a sharp left straight into a hard right hand carve around a tree stump before exiting over some roots and taking a far right line around a mud pit and over some more roots. The move feels kind of like a slingshot. As I made the transition from the initial left hand into the carve around the stump it became apparent that I was leaning so far over and the tyres were sliding out to the degree that my knee was going to impact the stump. I adjusted, unclipped and stamped on the stump with my right foot before careening into the mud pit section and at the last split second hauling the bars up and slamming the bike into the roots and then onwards. The Jones responds to these inputs ridiculously well. The harder you go the more it excels. As I joined the main path I did indeed whoop. Stoke achieved. Mission accomplished.