Friday, 24 September 2010

It's all about the sheep...

Faith in human nature and bikes roughly restored. And sheep too. So what is it with me, I go riding with mates in the best places and I come home with pictures of sheep. Again.

'If I act coy, will you love me? Will you?'

Not just any sheep mind, these were weird homing sheep that spotted us from the other side of the field, trotted over and stood there looking all clean and blow dried and 'your sandwiches wouldn't melt in our mouths' seductive.

'And now I'm playing hard to get...'

They were some sort of pedigree sheep I reckon. Show sheep. Pampered, prima-dona-ish, glitterati types, fed on prime, virgin alpine meadow grass, specially imported from Switzerland and shampooed daily at an exclusive local hair salon...


... in the Goyt Valley. So maybe not.

Anyway, a brilliant secret singletrack mission, some on tracks I knew already and some on new stuff. And all of it ace in a twisty, rocky, moor-ish - see what I did there. And see what I did there too, lazy or what - forbidden fruit, weekday morning sort of way.

'Can I eat it?' - either participant...

Made all the better by getting home in time to hear rolling thunder usher in an afternoon of blackest, darkest, Peak rain. Good trails, good company, good sheep. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Fork hell

I'm essentially conservative when it comes to my own bikes. I don't see the point in changing things that work well, I tend to replace like with like unless something comes along that's either a definite upgrade or free, preferably both...

... so the trashed Pushed Pike - anodising worn off big time, gritty slurry getting in past seals and gungeing up fork as a result - on the Pace is a pain in the butt. It's a brilliant fork, eats rocks at speed unlike a standard Pike, and has a steamroller-like implacability to it.

One problem, they don't make Pike Air U-Turns any more.

Rats. I've bored 'them as ought to know' stupid with questions, been confused by the new RS line-up with multiply revised Revelations in 2010 and 2011 spec, thought about Sektors, tried to work out which other RS fork will take the Push damper gubbins currently in the Pike and the answer seems to be to buy a Revelation with the dual wotnot rebound damping and stick the Push damper in the coil Pike that's currently on the Blue Pig.

Or I could stick the coil Pike on the Pace and Push it then put a cheaper Sektor on the Pig. Or I could hang around eBay with my hands in my pockets, whistling quietly, until a suitable donor Pike appears. Or... I could just buy a bloody fork, stick it on the Pace and then go ride it.

And then there's colour. The Pace looks right with black forks, but mostly 2011 Revelations seem to be white. And what is a 'titanium spring tube' anyway? Hmmmph...

Sod it. White 2011 Revelation RLT Ti it is. And if I don't like it. Or it looks wrong. Or both. I can simply stick it on the Blue Pig and put the Pushed coil Pike on the Pace. Or could I buy a 140mm Maxle Recon and stick the innards from the Pushed Air U-Turn in it. Or I guess I could just go ride my bike.

Sorry, just wanted to share my inner turmoil. If the Revs were readily available in black I'd just buy the bloody things. Or I could get a Sektor and save 200 quid. Or...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Wetness returns...

Blimey, did I really say that I liked autumn? First proper wet ride of the season yesterday. It was supposed to be the Mary Townley Loop on cross bikes since some people are racing the Three Peaks next weekend, but given that it was tanking down with rain in a biblical stylee, a mass decision was made to head out to Marsden for tea and cake and back again. Good move as it turned out.

It were wet in a proper wet, northern, grey sort of comedy riding up streams kind of way. And then the streams sort of rode up us and well, the rest is wet history. Boots, gloves, base layers you name it. It always seems worse because you've half forgotten how to dress for chilled rain, waterproof gloves and boots are lurking forgotten in distant cupboards and so you're not really properly dressed at all.

But the cafe - Crumbles on the Corner - in Marsden, was amazing in that steamed-up, fogged-up, friendly and welcoming way with ace food and the best cakes ever. Apparently they're sourced from local women and clearly there's something in the local gene pool because they're all extraordinarily yummy. The Caramac and ginger one went down very nicely thanks.

Then it was back on the bikes for a cold, wet, shivery slog home to Rich and Shona's for assorted chilli, cake, ace home-made crumble and inane jabbering, mostly by yours truly in full-on, over-caffeinated mode. I shouldn't be allowed near coffee without the presence of a responsible adult.

A funny old business autumn. Time for recalibration. New Specialized Defrosters - thank you eBay - and looking around and forwards not back. And time for some Nepal dreaming.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Another one gone...

Love my road bike. Hate fucking moronic brain-dead murdering car drivers. Over the crest of Chunal and flat out big-ringing it down into the sweeping S-bends towards Little Hayfield. Pedal down, knee out and leeeean into the lefthander, drift to the side of the overbanding, loads of traffic coming the other way. Dead people, commuters.

Then, fuck, some wanker in a silver grey Defender driving straight at me, overtaking on my side of the road, because I don't exist and he's a fuckwit and he'd rather kill me that get home 30 seconds later and of course, in his superfast Defender, he's going to scream past the 20-odd cars in front of him and reach clear, blue tarmac.

But first he wants to kill me. Tuck hard left into the wall as close as I dare, too much focus even to bother to shout at the cock. And then the moment's gone. I'm still alive, anger brushed into me by the draft of his passing. And I want to murder him. I want to slam his head repeatedly into the dry-stone wall. I want to torch his wanky, life-styling Landrover in front of his piggy eyes. But mostly I just want to kill him. Because then he'll understand.

And the funny thing is that I'm angry, but I'm not scared. I don't really know why. It's not like nearly dying on mountaineering epics. Or almost dying on my motorbike when I was 19. For some reason, I just don't care any more. Not in a bleak, despairing sort of way. Not in a 'my life's pointless and worthless' sort of way. Not in any sort of way at all really.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Two weeks...

Two weeks - mostly - off the bike. Resting. Feeding ducks. Dosing myself with weird supplements to make it feel as if I'm doing something about it. Just broken by my own stupidity, which is arguably better than being broken by someone else's stupidity, but has the flipside of removing any possible get out clauses.

Bikes sulking and stropping in the bike cave. Bike shoes skulking unseen. Chain lube getting dusty.

Mornings watching RHR dropping daily, frustratingly, slowly, like a stone through treacle - 50-ish - 48, 47, 46, 44, 43, 43, 42, 41. Which is almost normal.

So this evening, the Pace got dragged out, lubed up, lit up, pumped up and loved. Local shop ride, old people, new people and familiar trails, grippy in that slightly damp grit way. Up Chunal, cruising, then onto the Shooting Cabin backwards. Clean across the bridge, then swing right and wide, cruise the first step then through the scrabbly loose stuff, gently through the ruts then wide, left and soft-pedally up the loose climb.

And yeah, to cut to the nub of it, better. Or at least close to it. Just lovely to be back on a bike, the speed, the movement, watching the sun slowly sinking. All the familiar sensations I've missed - the chattering speed of loose, rocky descents; burning legs on friendly climbs; a half creditable attempt on the Middle Moor steps - I'll nail it one day and soon - and a fuss-free clean of the bottom of William Clough.

And the kick is back - fierce and bright and sharp. I can't stop smiling.