Hang on, let me explain…

I know I profess to be a mountain biker but you do see me on something different from time to time, so I thought I’d so a little post about me and my flirtations with the curly bars.

Firstly let me put this out there LOUD and CLEAR – I hate riding on the road!

It’s my least favourite place to ride and I just hope I am a more considerate driver than most of the drivers that seem to pass me on my local roads.  So why do I ride such a bike?

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So this is a cyclocross (or CX) or gravel bike, not a road bike. That means I can (and do) ride it in places that are not suitable for your average road bike.

Someone told me a road bike would be good for fitness and winter riding. I’m not sure I ever really believed that but I first got interested in something like this when I saw pictures of bikes being ridden on the Tour Divide. Ok they are not cyclocross bikes, they are adventure bikes, rigid 29ers and basically sturdy mile munching cart horses. I liked the idea of this and as I explored and Googled around the topic I started to come across what I considered to be cool looking bikes with drop / curly bars but in muddy and dusty places.  I was hooked!

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So now what?

Well I often get the cyclocross bike out when I want a quick blast and don’t want to get too dirty, so I take in a few quite roads, have an urban explore and hit some tracks.  Occasionally I go full off road and take it up the local hill, but mostly its road and gravel tracks.

I really honestly don’t enjoy the road bits. I’m not against the concept of road riding and I actually enjoy the speed and covering the distance – but I really hate being buzzed by inconsiderate motorists. Its pretty scary when a car passes within 2 feet of you at 40 miles an hour!  But its a means to an end sometimes.

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Connecting up some trail and gravel tracks with road is a necessity around where I live and is certainly easier on a cyclocross bike that a mountain bike.

But why the cyclocross bike? What’s so good about riding a cyclocross bike? Why not just ride your mountain bike?

  • For starters it gets me off the road a little quicker! Making light work of the road sections.
  • I don’t take a pack, travel light which is refreshing and simplifies my ride.
  • It makes you very aware of where your wheels are going – line choice becomes very important when your wheel is only an inch wide instead of 2-3 inches!
  • The bike is not forgiving off road so I think improves your bike handling skills
  • Variety is the spice of life isn’t it?

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Britain’s Favourite Walks

NW7
Snowdonia

You watched it. I watched it. We all watched it.

You didn’t?  What? This has to have been one of the best things on TV so far this year – maybe in a long time (for me).

“From one end of the country to the other, from the mountains to the sea – we’ve pretty much covered every bit of Britain that there is for hikers to explore.”
– Ore Oduba
It was a two-and-a-half-hour special on ITV and was a countdown of Britain’s favourite 100 walks – featuring all your favourite mountains and coastal paths.
Based on the results of the largest survey ever conducted into the UK’s hiking habits, the top 100 have been voted for by more than 8,000 walking enthusiasts. You can watch it on the ITV Hub here if you missed it –  https://www.itv.com/hub/britains-favourite-walks-top-100/2a5330a0001
“This could be your next big adventure – you’re going to be blown away.” – Julia Bradbury
All the walks (slash hikes) are available on the Ordnance Survey website and downloadable to subscribers.

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/itvs-britains-100-favourite-walks/

Why am I talking about this? Well I’ve taken my bike to a few of these places as well as walked a few too. But this morning I’ve seen so many bike forums and Facebook pages flooded with requests like “Can you ride on Helvellyn?” and its great. Bikers, hikers and sofa sitters up and down the country probably broke the OS website last night looking up routes to explore.

But before you all head off to Glencoe, Stanage Edge, Snowdon, the Lake District etc just remember that not all walkers paths can be ridden both practically and legally. Snowdon has set times for mountain bikers – check before you go.

Check the OS map for bridleways and byways and not footpaths! Or hire a guide!

Walna Scar Road Shuttle Drop Off
Walna Scar Road

Ask me even!  Or check out some of the published guide books on mountain biking on the Lakes, Peaks or Snowdonia for instance or online lists on MBR for example.

http://www.mbr.co.uk/news/20-best-mountain-bike-trails-uk-322684

There’s a reason why us mountain bikers havent been to Malham Cove and Gordale Scar – its simple not possible by bike due to the sheer cliffs and the footpath only access.

Suiting up after our dip in Windermere
Lake Windermere

Make these locations absolutley part of your plans but PLEASE check before you go taking a bike.

“Inside” by Jamie Flanagan

Reeves & Swayze In 'Point Break'
“its that place where your lose yourself and find yourself”

I’ve asked a few friends and followers to submit some content as “guest” blogs and Jamie Flanagan is the first up.  I’ve met Jamie a few times on uplifts at Bike Park Wales, we share a love of 90s rock that many wont even have heard of and he likes to take pictures of car parks.

However, he is a downhill shredder, top bloke and I should ride more often with him.  Anyway, this is his blog not mine today so have a read below.  Over to you buddy…

This article has been written before and I’d think there are close parallels in surfing and climbing amongst others but they are what they are. So I’d like to talk to you about something that drives a lot of my riding – that feeling of being ‘inside’.

I was first there many years ago on a trail just up above Peaslake called Silent Treatment on my first real mountain bike with the guy who started MTB for me. I was back in the same place only a couple of years ago riding abroad down a never ending loam filled natural corkscrew rollercoaster on a single pivot sledge hammer of a bike. Lastly there is a wood in Shropshire that we rode in spring of last year that I will always remember.

In all the hours of over twenty years of riding, these are the stand out memories. The bikes come and go as do those with whom I ride, but there were a few common feelings to all of those runs above. Firstly there is silence – no noise from the outside world not even those of tires in dirt. Secondly, I don’t feel a thing whilst in this place – I’m not breathing hard, no aches or pain even at the end of a hard-charging day. Lastly, it all comes together as the bike and I seem to blend together with the track.

There are also circumstances that seem to bring on the feeling – sunshine helps for sure, companions can be key and conditions for some speed stand out for me. You don’t need a £7K bike or a foreign holiday however. Lastly, the knowledge of that run being inside only comes later after the day is done, sometimes long after.

I’ve no idea when I will be back here, but the possibility keeps me fascinated so I’ll keep trying to get back ‘in’. Maybe inside is a gift you have to earn but won’t necessarily receive. It can’t be bought, trained for, planned, booked or even anticipated. As a result, inside slips through my fingers like smoke.

This is me and you may very well be entirely different, but I’d be delighted if some of you know what I am trying to say. To those of you that do, I need add nothing. To those that don’t I am sorry to admit I can’t help either as I know no definite recipe. In many respects, none of the above really matters as long as you’re having fun. Each to their own, but for myself I’m fascinated and can’t stop chasing inside down thin lines of dirt in the woods.

https://www.instagram.com/thatwilddirtyflanimal/

The Next Best Thing

Adidas TERREX Trail Cross MTB Shoes
Adidas TERREX Trail Cross MTB Shoes

If you have just starting out in mountain biking its likely you’ve gone out and bought yourself a hardtail from your LBS (local bike shop) along with some basics such as a helmet, multitool, tyre levers and a pump.

I know I thought I had everything I needed at home as I had bikes of sorts, so must have all that I needed. I didn’t really but I had enough to get me started. Before long you will find excuses to buy new tools, fancy mini pumps, specific clothing and backpacks with more pockets than you think you will ever need.  Continue reading “The Next Best Thing”

The e-bikes are coming

the ebikes are coming

It looks like 2018 is going to be the year of the e-bike whether you like it or not.

Chris Smith has been tearing up Windhill Bike Park on a Cannondale Moterra for a few months. GMBN (Global Mountain Bike Network) have started a dedicated E Bike channel, Sam Pilgrim has signed to Hai Bike – whatever next?

I’m undecided on this move by Sam. I’m a big fan of his YouTube channel and I’m a fan (and owner of one) NS Bikes, so this doesn’t sit easy with me.

The general opinion is he has “sold his soul”, I’m thinking they have offered a lot of money. They have also built (or are building) a custom slopestyle / freeride bike so he can continue his “day job” on the FMB World Tour.

Whatever happens his videos will continue to entertain and I’m sure we’ll see more of him and Chris Smith shredding on the e bikes and doing some stuff no one has thought of doing with this new bike genre.

I’ll be honest this video from EMBN got me interested. I heard Steve Jones talking on the HKT Podcast about e bikes a few months ago and he sounded convincing and this video showing him and Neil on techy climbs in Alicante looked like loads of fun.

But…

If money was no object I might consider one, however at the moment this is not for me.

Yet. Never say never, as I’ll sell my soul to Hai Bike if they come knocking on my door too!