Calnefornia to Snowdonia

Last weekend 7 of us headed from Wiltshire to North Wales for what promised to be a good weekend on the bikes.

Friday, 2 of the gang went straight to Coed y Brenin while the rest of us headed for Cadair Idris and a grueling climb in temperatures just shy of 30C.

It was hot and hard work but the views were staggering and the descent simply brilliant!

This was the second time for me and I was keen to check out a short bridleway on the return leg and its fair to say it didn’t disappoint!

Saturday saw 7 tired campers hit a muggy Penmachno at an agreed later time, that almost back fired on us!  One of the guys had a free hub issue and we didn’t leave any time to get to a bike shop on Saturday evening.

Luckily, we bumped into Tom Hutton (MTB Guiding) at Coed y Brenin who arranged to meet us Sunday morning and loan us a wheel. What a gent!

So Sunday, all of us made our way around the Dyfi Forest, around the Climach-X trail north of Machynlleth where we rode the epic final descent, but not before exploring some of the Welsh Gravity Enduro stages still widely used but not sign posted in the forest.

We had a cracking weekend and I want to get back to the Dyfi Forest ASAP..

Please watch my video and sub to my Youtube channel.

Thanks!

Over and Over and Over Again

I love everything about mountain biking (apart from the cost, changing standards and that I can’t do it every damn day!)…

I enjoy a long ride in the mountains, uplift days, exploring and a good trail centre.

I like packing a bag, with lunch and a stove and heading out for hours on end, and I love a quick blast up and down my local hill before the sun sets.

I love singletrack, bridleways, hardpacked dirt, rocks, roots, mud, puddles and overgrown byways.

I love learning to jump, doing track stands and sliding down steep gnarly bits of trail.

Yeah mountain biking is great fun and I love everything about it.  Last weekend 2 of us went out for about 4 hours and didn’t go far at all. What we did was we found a steep bank and rode it over and over and over again.

At first we thought it wasn’t possible, then by the end we were satisfied we’d achieved something pretty cool, progressed our riding and moved on to find something else.

Why?

Well this is how you beat it. This is how you learn. This is how you win. But mostly this is how you figure out how to deal with surprise obstacles on a trail and add to your “bag of tricks” and build your confidence when being shown stuff by other riders in new locations.

We don’t have a great deal of elevation where I live so we have to make the most of what we find and often this means sessioning and repeating short bits of trail to tune our skills.

Go and session something this weekend until you nail it!

LUTs, resolution and FPS – Do you care?

Those are not cycling terms, or the names of mountain bike components – they are a whole new set of nerdy things you *have* to learn about if you are going to try and make videos for YouTube.

*Disclaimer – You don’t have to learn about these things at all.  I just like to and there are times when understanding these and MANY other things can improve your videos

Like some people might sketch, paint model planes or read books, editing videos is just a hobby for me. Like taking pictures – its just an extension of my biking hobby.  If I can share it with people or relive a fun day out with some mates then that a bonus.

This might sound like I don’t care if anyone watches my videos – I do, but it doesn’t really matter.

However, making videos for Youtube is not easy. Strapping a GoPro to our chest/helmet and riding down a trail looks pretty dull unless you are riding like Sam Hill, Danny Hart, Rachel Atherton etc..  Filming jumps looks easy unless you are riding massive Rampage sized drops and gaps.

So in order to make your ordinary average riding, watchable to have to spice it up with something.  I try to have some fun, don’t take myself too seriously and lately I’ve been trying to make the videos look a whole lot better.

Your GoPro is a pretty powerful tool with a lot of the functionality of bigger more professional cameras. But in order to get the best from them you need to understand more than just is it pointing in the right direction.

Putting your camera on AUTO will mostly get you OK results and allow you to relive a day out or a ride of some sort.  But to make the image clearer, brighter, sharper etc you need to understand framerates, light temperature, ISO settings.

But I’m not going to try and explain that – go and watch, listen and learn from Ryan (aka The Loam Ranger) over on his YouTube – link below…

Disclaimer 2 – I still have soooo much to learn by the way so I am not suggesting my videos are setting some sort of standard that you should aspire to.  But if you do think they are any good – thats great and Thanks!

 

Have I gone a bit mad?

Yes I spent 10 minutes talking to myself.  Its not unusual to be honest, last week I pretended to get phone calls from “no claim no fee” lines and my boss, while recording a fake phone in show.

All in the name of YouTube and why?  I am no sensation – I don’t have the subscribers or the skills to make it big on “the platform”.  I’m not even sure I’m using YouTube correctly.

I just like having fun…

On a serious note if you fancy making a video with me please get in touch below…

Here’s what I filmed then clipped and cut together to make the top film all in my lunch break.

Is there too much bravado in mountain biking?

A few Facebook posts in the last month or so triggered this train of thought and prompted me to make a short video. The video says it all but writing words here anyway.

Rule Number 5

We’ve all heard of Rule number 5 – or MTFU, Man The F**k Up and we’ve probably all had it spouted at us when we are feeling a little ill and shy off from a group ride or event.

Well I’m all for manning up, but not when it can do more harm than good.  I’ve been out with a cold, that’s turned into something worse. I’ve ridden with a cold, and it just doesn’t seem to leave for weeks on end.

Its not ideal, you probably don’t enjoy the ride, your mates don’t need to hear you coughing and spluttering for a few hours and you are not actually going to get better by doing this.  You can make yourself worse.

Take some advice from your Doc or the dreaded internet if you are wondering if you should be exercising with your cold.  Basically its your call, but even in the case below where they say its OK to go out, be aware your body may not truly appreciate it.

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick#1

Go Hard or Go Home

What idiot thought that was a good idea when it comes to trail riding?

If you’re not falling off, you’re not trying hard enough!

Woah!  You know we do learn by our mistakes, and we will only get better if we push harder, but no one said you had to break your collar bone to do this!

Push yourself. Progress. But do what you feel comfortable with.

Those that repeat the mantra above of “falling off” are probably using the statement as an excuse for their own misadventures.

Rider 1 “Dude did you break your arm again?”

Rider 2 “Yeah man! You know what they say if you’re not falling off…!!! I’m gonna clear that gap on that Black run one of these days. Once I rest for 8 weeks and get my bike fixed.”

Rider 1 “That’s nails mate.  You’re such a rad rider! See you in a few months.”

Rider 2 “Yeah man! Enjoy the trip to Finale, I’ll have to try and make the next trip”

I say go at your own pace and do what you feel comfortable doing.  Most of my MTB mates are in their 40s and have families, jobs etc and a few broken bones a year is going to seriously annoy their employer.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have fun or push ourselves, just know when to stop!

What do you think?