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!