Monday, December 03, 2007

Is it ever dry in Bracknell?


I've figured out why it didn't actually rain when we were in Bracknell, because all the water, in the world, was already on the floor. Until we arrived at which point it mixed with mud and most of it ended up on me and Dave.
I was going to night ride ride one evening with Adam this week except the water from Bracknell has recirculated and is falling on Brighton, below is an artists impression of me and Adam riding at night

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Birthday rain walk...

Mud, mud, mud. Rain, rain, rain. Oh, and some sheep. Steffi took me on a nice walk around the Cotswold hillocks on Saturday, for my birfdee. We wore jeans and got very wet and cold. How irresponsible! Luckily it wasn't too bad and we really enjoyed it, retiring to a pub and a cruise round the Christmas market at Stow on the Wold, complete with mulled wine, minced pie, tarteflette and a bloomin nice blue cheese dried sausage. Mon Dieu.




Crash. Bang. Wallop. Daryl's broken.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lakes trip with Out There

What ho internet land!

Last weekend saw Jay, Jay's housemate Chris, and I mission it up to the Lakes on Friday night after possibly some of the most hectic couple of weeks at work, for me at least. Luckily we were in the safe hands of James Linford, a wise old mountain goat of a man that got most of us hooked on the outdoors as kids. James runs an outdoor club based in Colchester, Out There, and brought along some familiar old faces from when we where younger and in my case, more athletic!

The weather was bad to say the least and as we approached Ambleside, the SPORT rated tank that Jay had borrowed from work, was reading -5 C. After what seemed like three hours sleep, we woke to cold, dark rain and made ready to become miserable. Saturday really was quite a horrific weather up on the hills - sleet, ice and 55 knot winds making it one of those days that sting your face and make you look forward to a hot bath and a pint, but it was great to have such good company and whats life without a challenge? We did a route from Langdale up Crinckle Crags and then onto Pike of Blisco which was a good challenge and made more interesting by the ice and generally slippery rock! It was great to get back to the YHA and warm up though and a typically epic pasta meal ensued along with some engaging mared tete and a few sly ales...

Sunday dawned better with no rain and the promise of clearing weather, which held true and our route from the Copper Mines, Miner's Bridge up round the Old Man of Conniston was thoroughly pleasant with the cloud closing a bit towards the end. Lots of fell running chaps were about to make us feel inadequate as they jogged on past us. Jay, Chris and I had to cut the route a bit short as we popped in to Arnside to visit Jays Grandparents and drove home all tired and satisfied!





Thats what 55 knots windspeed does to you!



Saturday, November 24, 2007

Captain Slow goes all X-Country

Last Sunday I competed in the ActionAsia MTB Classic race, consisting of two 15km loops around Tai Lam Chung reservoir in the west of Hong Kong. You could either do one lap or two - I thought I was doing just the one until the guy from work (James 'Fishboy') who entered me informed me that I was doing the whole shabang; obviously I didn't want to look unmanly so I didn't dispute this. So with my saddle up to the maximum and some power-energy-gel stuff at the ready, off I went. It was really quite hard!

I finished in 2:26:47, slightly ahead of the people whose bikes had broken so they had to carry them. I was actually quite proud of my time considering a) I am a lard-arse b) my bike weighs quite a lot and is all squidgy and c) I fell off in true style and had to get minor medical attention (seriously, it was a beauty - I tried to ride up a small set of steps, got it all wrong, punted straight into them and went over the handlebars in front of a group of elderly chinese ramblers, who all started screaming. It doesn't get much more rad). James finished in 2:07:55. Also riding that day was James's brother-in-law Martyn who was visiting from NZ - he finished in a very impressive 1:49:47. Thanks to Martyn for the photo below, which was taken after the race. Note the particularly pleasant belly-sweat patch.

Finished! Nice portaloo in the background.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bracknell Sleet Fest

Damn cold and wet... Thats right. Thats what it was and there was no escaping it. The trees tried to stop it but when your pants are wet, your PANTS ARE WET and the heated carpark debate about which waterproof to put on really didn't matter. May I point out that Daryl actually said that he was going to buy some leggings. 3/4 lenght buggers to boot. AND I AM LORD LYCRA?!?! I ASK YOU!

Anyway. We hit up a familiar route round Bracknell's trails with a few forays off to find some new stuff and I was quite impressed with how Gareth's riding has come on, on his new Orange Crush, complete with whopping discs. Even though it was sodden, we had a good bash and found some of the gems that have been constructed since I, at least, rode there last in the summer... Up near the tree run downhills (which are now a lot more channeled into the earth and a bit tighter) the one on the left as you approach has been finished off in style. Much better than last time with some tight banked and bermed corners and a few little jumps it was very flow-y! Think this was what Adam had been talking about, and a nice surprise.

We ended up back at the cars, exhausted after I stacked in the ice-mud of the gully jumps and spent about three hours restoring core temperature and driving home looking like St Trinian's Girls.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mike Rides Again! (Hong Kong stylee)

I finally got my buttocks in gear today and took my bike out. I discovered that the old Enduro very nearly fits into the boot of a standard Hong Kong taxi, with just enough fork sticking out for the flapping, bungeed boot to smack up and down on the front caliper. Perfect!

I peddled up to the top of Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong's highest peak (957 metres - massive), with a view to riding down a trail I'd been spying on the way up. There is, however, a considerable weather station on the peak, and there was no way to get anywhere near any trails, so I rolled back down the hill trying to look as rad as possible. Hooking up with a trail further down, I experienced first-hand an issue that is upsetting many a local rambler; everytime there is something even vaguely approaching an incline, the kindly HK government build a lot of steps. If it looks like it's going to break the 1:10000 incline limit, they put in a handrail as well. This is very annoying.

Close to despair, my luck changed when I ran into a group of local riders tweaking their bikes in a layby. Turns out they were running a couple of downhill routes, and invited me along. Better still, they'd hired an uplift van. They made it very clear to me that this was an illegal activity, and if we got caught I'd have to go to court and pay a fine of £30! I accepted the risk, safe in the knowledge that I could say 'I'M BRITISH, DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!' and still get away with it, God bless the Empire. And the good times ensued. Safe to say, I'm now an official member of the Hong Kong downhilling scene of 12 people.

mike riding big

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday feeling.

As its been hard to get out and ride together because of weekend commitments, I thought I'd make use of Chris' slack working practices (i.e. half day Fridays) and we hooked up down at Holmbury Hill in the ghettos of the Surrey badlands... Ahem.

Had rained the day previously and was a little soggy under tread but still thoroughly enjoyable as I wondered if Yoghurt Pots got its name from the soggy pits in the bottom of the little whoops? First trail was the afore mentioned 'Pots' which we ran a blew the cobwebs away a bit and then carried on in true style down the Telegraph Road and down the rest of the Hill. After climbing back up we had a had a word with the Ranger who pointed us in direction of Barry Knows Best which was better than I remembered from riding it with Adam ages ago. It was so good in fact that even after the steepest push up in history (a challenge for Manning Jones to ride up I think!), I got out the full face and Heath Robinson-ed the video camera onto it to film a second run, which will appear below this writing in a day or so...

After this and the steep push up again (!) the light was seriously starting top fade so we thought what better than to run T'Pots and Telegraph again at breakneck speed which made it all the more enjoyable. QUALITY!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A lovely jolly to Keenya!

Last week I went on a trip with school to Kenya to do some charity work with a school near Nairobi, followed by 3 days on safari in the Maasai Mara. It was an amazing experience overall, Kenya is very interesting and I'd certainly consider a trip back there again. On the last night we had an 'meat extravaganza' - I ate beef, pork, chicken, ostrich, camel, crocodile and buffalo in one sitting. The next day I had a dodgy stomach, I wonder why?

The photo below shows me lookning unbelievably smug in front of the Great Rift Valley, which is really quite big.

Kenya 1

kenya 3

kenya 2

Monday, October 22, 2007

Beautiful Welsh cwm









Well, late on the words, but nice to reflect on what was another ace weekend of weather, which we were fortunate enough to be walking in Wales for. Saturday saw an early start from MK and after driving there, we had the firm intention of doing a route up the Caniefon Arette. This would have been great, but we misjudged the actual arette and basically did a variation/scramble up the down route for the Idwal slabs... Was a good route though and we Topped out on the West end of Glyder Fawr and then headed round to Y Garn, after a spot of lunch. Stunning views down the valley.

Then it Was off to Ffyninon Wen (i think) to our yha, which was brand new and very well appointed except that there were no kitchen facilities... You could have food gourmet cooked though - not the YHA way and I'd much prefer a kitchen! We braved watching the Rugby world cup in a N Wales pub, which could have been spicy, but was OK...

Next day we had decided to do the Crib Goch route up to Snowdon, as Rich hasn't been up before and the weather was perfect, if not a bit windy with some truely epic views of the summit and others!

Jay unfortunately had to bow out half way up as he had killer blisters and was really going through the mill. Southern Softy. Only damper really, other than Daryl's absence. Another excellent IBFC trip!

On a more serious note, I got an email from freind James Linford with a shocking bit of news from his trip to Wales last week:

Sadly, on the Friday, a 10 year old boy died after taking a serious fall on Crib Goch. It was wet, windy and very cloudy. A man and three boys had wandered off the main ridge and got stuck in a steep area of loose rock. They tried to climb out and one lad fell to his death. We were some of the first people on the scene and were very involved in looking after the rest of his group and looking for the casualty. Kelvin and I found his body and did CPR until mountain rescue arrived. He died from severe head injuries. The dense cloud prevented a helicopter rescue. Our group worked really well together; looking after the others, communicating with mountain rescue HQ and dealing with the casualty.

Be careful out there.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

English driving sportscar country pub, wot wot

Not only did I get to spend me birfday swanning around in the med with Rents, the International Bob of Mystery and me Julie, I got bought a day in the best motor the worlds ever seen, in my opinion, and they managed to get it in the right colour! British Racing Green.

Taking care to to emulate the recent driving sucess of Lewis Hamilton in China or certain other IBFC members in the rainy sheep loving part of the UK we had an awesome day round the back lanes of Surrey and West Sussex. Problem is now I want one even more.

May have been slightly anal about the route preperation to make sure it was all twisty A and B road goodness, co-driver Townsend coped admirably.


Mostly spent the day grinni ng like the village idiot, see above

probably not practical for bike transport.....................or driving to Gambia

wrong side of the road....................for the right reasons.............................................Dave

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Solo walk.

After the couple of weeks I've had, I thought it best to head off to N Wales on my own for a walk with the intention of bivvying out for the first time. After much weight watching and repacking to achieve as light a weight backpack as pos, Including changing the steel tent pegs for aluminium ones, I was off. Weather couldn't have been better and I managed to get to the top of Pen Yr Ole Wen via the corrie to the east of it in no time at all after a bit of a scramble. The view was epic and I pitched the tent and was in bed by 8:30. Woke up at 6 and was walking at 7 before the sun was up which was quite magical. Didn't see a soul the whole way round Carnedd Daffyd, Carnedd Fach and Carnedd Llewellyn. Back down to the car near Llyn Ogwen by 11am and off home, via an interesting lunch stop. But thats another story...





Monday, September 17, 2007

Mike the Expat

Thought I'd put up some pictures of me working very, very hard in Hong Kong. But I can't because I don't work very hard, so here are a couple of me on a Junk trip instead. Hong Kong is a lot of fun, hectic, beer is expensive but watches are cheap. And there are lots of friendly ladies from the Philipines who all keep trying to hold my hand, which I must say is most welcoming of them. I've finally unpacked my bike but don't have my mountain biking licence yet (seriously!) so I'm yet to try out the trails (Hong Kong is small enough to actually get caught!), but I joined the HK Ultimate Frisbee league, yet another extreme sport for IBFC!

It is good here, everyone should come and visit (but not in August or September, because you'll die of sweating).

Hong Kong 2

Hong Kong

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wow, photos on Film!

I had a bunch of really old film processed today and found some pictures of a ride we had in Surrey the day after the Bunsfield oil depot blew up. I knew something major was up at 7am when driving down the A41 and seeing a massive bomb-esqe cloud! Anyway, a good ride as I remember and a nice sunset from all those oil particles...







Sunday, September 09, 2007

Demise of my trusty(pah!) steed

A sad week for me as i finally said a sad goodbye to my very underused Alfa 156 2.5 v6.


Since moving back to London, i use it approximately once a month so in all fairness its the right decision. So for the first time in 9 years, i am carless!

But...i bought a house this week in london (pending the usual paperwork/mortgage schlap), so i definately don't need a car.

fairfwell betsy. i will miss you and the way you corner. but not the way you invaribly cost me massive amounts of money, or decide to not start, the windows stop working, the airbag lights coming on and off..the list goes on...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Goodwood Revival

I've just noticed this is the 100th post on IBFC!!

Spent a thoroughly British weekend at teh Goodwood revival last weekend with Kate and her 'rents. Quite different to the Festival of Speed as it was more about the racing. Having watched come of the big engined American cars and particularly the bikes I have decided that racing drivers from the 50's and 60's have to do all the stuff todays drivers do plus have an enourmous set of b****cks to account for the fact the cornering and stopping were equal measures of pot luck and skill executed at high speed whilst sliding sidways on rubbish tyres with no roll bars. I could be a Formula One driver today piece of cake................mmmm cake

Evening Officer
Durin' the war

Chris & Kate
Woollen trousers itch and make your nuts hot, fact.

Race 2
broom broom

Chris & Car
Did I mention I've chopped the Golf in?

Oi oi.

I say, spiffing day Winco', mmm fabulous General, more Pimms

Thursday, September 06, 2007

see below

finally got the lakes post up...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Stanage Edge



Wasson Ho?!?! Amazing day out at Stanage Edge in the Peaks on Sat. After deciding to have a few ales in Stoney on Friday, Gav and I woke with the birds (or more likely the cat licking my face) and were in Shef at 9am just as Decathlon were opening their doors, allowing me to purchase some more nuts and a rope bag. Then a bit of faffing ensued (!) as we waited for the climbing shop to open and buy the Eastern Grit Rockfax book... Arrived at the High Neb car park just before 12 and headed west to a climb called New Years Eve (Vdiff, I think). Proper Bo. We hit a couple more before I decided to up the anti and had a go at 'February Crack', a VS and took three attempts to do the last move after about a 15 min shakey gear placement trauma. Gav didn't fancy it, so I abbed down and spent a further 10 mins trying to get said bit of gear out after sitting on it. Last up was back towards High Neb and having got up the first part, realised that we didn't have the right gear to protect the moves on the Vdif we were on (cam needed, I thought) so had a crack at another VS next door and again after much grunting, made the last move. Gav fairly flashed it on the top rope and we both left with big silly grins!

Climbing with a madman!!!

Gav on 'New Year's Eve' our first outdoor lead. Vdiff.

If it wasn't bombproof, I wasn't climbing...

Cheeky ab to get my brand new nut back out.

Last climb of the day and pump enduced panicky last move above that hex... Just like to point out that I did indeed climb the first bit, not just walk up the dirt to the right. Just resting contemplating defeat, here.