Funny Bikes

Not a bad office….Jenn living the freelance dream

Had a couple of long cyclocross rides in the last week. I’d never ridden one before and expected them to be rubbish on anything but smooth tracks. How wrong I was, they are a hoot to ride. Get in the drops, get your weight over the front, let the brakes off and you can ride all sorts of stuff. Even steps! I was also surprised that I only got the one pinch flat.

‘Slopestyle Nial’ in lycra

I don’t know that I’d want to race on one, but I loved the way these bikes cover a long distance mixing up the road, pack horse track, singletrack and exciting rock sections. They were the kind of bikes that had me dreaming up long distance adventures and they make even the most familiar trails exciting again.

Ready for Race – The Food of Champions

I took Nial out on a 5 1/2 hour Calderdale epic ride. His verdict was that they were, “the best unnatural bikes I’ve ridden”. I think this means that, even though they don’t have a slack head angle and super tacky tyres, these bikes are still a lot of fun.

Up above…well everywhere really

The trails are bone dry and very fast at the moment, but I think it would have also been good in the mud, with the skinny tyres and light weight of these bikes.

Descending into Luddenden Dean

We were both pretty tired by the time we got back to Mooch for some cake. In fact Nial was quite broken and we had to call for mum to uplift him out of the valley and back home. I went in the van too to keep him company.

DO NOT put me back on my bike

Pass Storming Trip to Rossett Ghyll

Looking down Langdale from Rossett Ghyll

Looking down Langdale from Rossett Ghyll

Pass Storming is all about carrying your bike up the biggest hill you can find and riding off the top using the most bonkers way down. Recently I went back to Rossett Ghyll in the Lakes after having first ridden it with friends in February for a Singletrack magazine feature. As Benji pointed out in the article big forks, tyres and brakes make such a ride possible. Last time I rode the Ibis Mojo, but this is a pile of bits at the moment while it’s fork is being used elsewhere. This time I took Chipps’ long term Orange Blood which was a perfect choice. Very capable downhill and not too heavy to push, even with dual ply tyres, at around 34lbs.

Blood in pink next to Jim's Patriot

Blood in pink next to Jim's Patriot

After four hours of riding and pushing up Langdale and Stake Pass, Jim, Gary and myself stood at the top of the pass. It’s a VERY technical descent and as we put full face helmets and knee pads on we were pretty quiet. I had just spent the last four hours in a state of mounting anxiety about the ride to come.

Oh dear

Oh dear

As soon as you kick off down the gullies, steps and loose rock chutes fear is replaced by attention, adrenaline and good old fashioned whoop-de-whoop. The rocks were hard on the two Patriots though and within a few minutes Gary’s bike had a bent mech hanger and a broken spoke and Jim’s bike had a snapped gear cable and smashed rear mech. Lucky for me I hadn’t smashed the carbon XO rear mech (in pink) on Chipps’ bike. 40 minutes of bodging and we were rolling again although Jim had to ride chainless as singlespeeding his bike was not possible because of chain growth under suspension compression! Rather him than me.

We'd ridden from the pointy bit

We'd ridden from the pointy bit

You get a descent of around 45 minutes and it’s worth every bit of the effort to get to the top. Tight, steep and a bit exposed, the way down is pretty much all on steps and you have to concentrate hard as there are plenty of bits to catch you and put you over the bars.

Hit the commit button

Hit the commit button

We rode it all and were pretty pleased to be still alive at the bottom. Feeling like righteous Pass Stormtroopers we called in at The Dungeon Ghyll Inn for a celebratory pint.

Gisburn Forest

Nicola on The Slab

Had a sunny day up at Gisburn Forest last week on the new trails with Nicola, Steve and Alan. It’s massively improved from the pretty dull loop that used to be there thanks to the work of Rowan Sorrel and his trail building crew. Like the sections that he designed for Lee Quarry, the new stuff at Gisburn is challenging and technical. Lots of berms, big roller coaster banked wall rides, tight wooded singletrack, rocky jumps and lovely flowing blue graded trail all add up to a fun day out with plenty of chance to progress your riding, especially if you repeat sections and get your lines just right. The downhill tracks, off the main loop, are well worth trying as well, with their intermediate level drop offs, kickers and berms.

Nicola shows the “limp wrist” as a comment on the riding of the boys.

I’ll be running skills days up at Gisburn, see the contents page over on the right of here for details of group days or get in touch for one to one or bespoke group days.

There’s always hope….and beer.

Good beer, accommodation, parking and food is to be found at the Dog and Partridge in Tosside, a really nice pub and cafe run by mountain bikers. Check them out here.

Mountain Biking Breaks in Hebden Bridge

photo by Benji Haworth of Rodwell singletrack looking to Stoodley Pike on the horizon

Great Rock is offering a days guided riding and/or skills coaching as part of a two night accommodation package with Croft Mill apartments. The four star self catering apartments are part of a high quality modern mill development located in the centre of Hebden Bridge, with all the cafes, restaurants and shops nearby.

The day’s riding will be led by Ed Oxley, Hebden Bridge’s local mountain bike guide, and can include skills coaching, as well as guiding, on the renowned and all weather trails of the upper Calder Valley. This will be a day tailored to suit the group and can be made suitable for experienced riders wanting a taste of the technical riding of the area or beginners for whom the more melow trails are more suitable. The choice is yours.

All rides start, break for lunch and end in Hebden Bridge so there will be ample time for visiting cafes for well earned refreshment.

Click this link for more details

Embracing the Filth

The trails are wet and I’m loving it. It’s a chance to develop and use a whole range of different skills to those we use for drier summer riding. Get some decent tyres on your bike, stay loose, easy on the brakes (especially the front) and let the bike move around – it’s what it was designed to do! Wrap yourself up in good quality clothing and get out there. There’s nothing like the feeling as you come in after a great filth ride with a big grin on your face.

I’m running skills days through the autumn and winter in Hebden Bridge, Gisburn Forest and Lee Quarry. Keep checking on the site or on my Twitter for details.

Lunch is an important part of the riding day…

Here’s a photo that ‘Evil’ Gordon took a couple of months ago while we were having lunch in Mooch in Hebden Bridge. Gordon was up for a skills day and as well as riding some of Calderdale’s finest trails we had time for this lovely lunch and a post ride beer down at the Blue Pig Working Men’s Club. It’s not all hard work on a skills day you know.