Thursday, July 31, 2008

Forks, grease, Oh..... and Unemployment, please.

Big fat bum. I was made unemployed on Tuesday as our perfectly profitable studio and less profitable and poorly managed umbrella company went into administration. Whats more, the month of work that I've just done isn't being payed to me and we are all supposed to be off on holiday tomorrow...

However, I'm beating off the suicidal tendencies and trying to be pro-active. Hopefully there is freelance work in the wings and we have the outside possibility of being bought up lock stock. I can only wait until Friday...

I had just spent lots of money on making my bike work again and although I really wish I could get the parts refunded, I can't as I put them on the bike on Monday night! So I'm going to enjoy the parts, take the holiday and think very seriously about what I'm going to do.

Before the new parts were bolted on, I serviced my forks, shock and other various parts on the frame, which, hopefully wont develop problems out in Morzine. Below are pictures!

Lots of sand came out of these and are the cause of the wear on the anodizing on the sauntions. I will have to replace them at some point.

I was really concerned about doing this until watching a video from Mojo on Mpora. Nice one Mojo!

Frame in a well cladded, lightly tightened vice...

All back together again, with a new Blackspire Dewlie, Nukeproof Generator/Sun wheelset, 08 XT casette, 08 XT shifters and XT front mech and chain.

Before the arrival of the shiny new parts, I had the pleasure of visiting Gav to sweat all night in his studio flat, after a few beers and rounds of Mared Tete with Jim and Sarah at their local. Proper lock-in bo. Then off to Leith to ride with loads of Pompey-ites on the hottest day I think I have ever exercised on! Lost my weight in sweat, but was shown some amazing new lines next to BKB with jumps etc and had a great ride. Cheers all involved.

Red hot Welshman!

Daryl surveys Phil's bloody off.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I arranged for it to snow last week in Morzine so we could get some nice exterior shots of the chalet in a winter stylee. I have now re-requested sunshine before the IBFC crew head out to Les Gets next week for two wheeled fun.

Avec Neige

We're heading out again on the 16th to pick up any body/bike parts left on the mountain by an over enthusiatic Finter and co. and to get some interior shots for the website and do a load of other odds and sods all of which will more than likely require us to part with more cash for the pleasure of experiencing some more French bureaucracy, which so far hasn't been too bad but I'm not holding my breath.

wanna flake in that luv?

We met with a couple of guys last night who are going to give us an idea of website and logo design having decided on the name MountainSpaces, clearly not as inspired as Tom's Chalet-I-Shan't-I but unfortuntaley dot com wasn't available, neither was ho hum, such is life.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What I have mostly been learning this week... that taking doors off old wonky cars is much easier than putting them back on.

The Beast sans la porte droit

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tremadog and Ogwen.

With little time for post roast relax, I headed north as our guests went south, on Sunday evening. I was off to North Wales, to hook up with James Linford, an old climbing/oudoors acquaintance who is training for his MIA (Mountain Leader, not Missing In Action) award and needed some less experienced climbers to instruct. I was/am less experienced and James brought along another climbing instructor friend, Simon, who was slightly less experienced than James.


After a very windy camp setup in darkness, followed by a pretty sleepless, flappy night, the dawn came cold and cloudy. Bum. But not to worry as massive amounts of porridge with Jam and Tea were consumed, as plans were made to head to the cliffs at Tremadog for some multi pitch fun. I had expressly requested some multi pitch stuff as I've not done any before and needed to put the rope theory into practice.


Finding the start of your route is quite a challenge for the un-seasoned Tremadog climber, as the lower section of the cliff is in dense woodland and a lot of wandering, consultation with two guide books and some pacing eventually saw us at the bottom of Oberon, a Severe route with a nice slabby start.


Climbing in threes is something that I've only done a few times, and whilst sociable, takes longer, which was fine for me as I got to really take in the new rope procedures as I climbed in the middle. After a pleasant climb, we were up on top and taking in the amazing views, before finding the precipitous climb down path. Then off to Eric's Cafe for some of his advice on which route may offer another good route where James could ascend a fixed rope next to our lead climb. We decided not to do this in the end and headed for 'Poor Man's Peuterey', another Severe.

James on the traverse stance just before the 'Nose'.

Gulp! Standing on the 'Nose' of PMP with some good exposure to the right!



Everyone who has climbed at Tremadog will know Eric's Cafe, run by Eric Jones a famous climber who now looks to be in his late 60s. He was the first person to solo the North Face of the Eiger (!) and his Cafe is adorned with some amazing shots of his exploits in climbing and base jumping. Quite a dude.

PMP was wicked, with some real exposure on the last pitch and hot, hot hot! It was amazing to have a family of buzzards or Kites (not sure) cruising the crag at eye level, quite amazing. I will be back to do this climb again, only leading, I think! The video below is of Simon, coming up the last pitch.

We retired from the crag and after a meal of left over Arny rations at the tent, headed to Plas Y Brenin for a pint and discussion on what to do tomorrow. Plans were made, and rehashed after a meeting with Pls Y Brenin's top assessor next morning and we ended up doing the Idwal Staircase with a different top route to the one we did earlier in the year, then on to the Cneifon Arete and then roped down climb of the same arete.

Interesting to see the scramble we did earlier in the year from an instructor's perspective and how he protected the moves that we were soloing. We then rope climbed the first pitch of Cneifon and then soloed the rest, re roping for an 'instructor with two clients' roped descent. Again, new rope work for me and a good experience in procedures.





Counterbalanced abseil off the last climbing pitch of Cneifon Arete.

Then it was down and back, before the long drive home and the realisation that I was sunburnt! Don't get that every North Wales trip! :P


With Wingstock hastily re-scheduled for some other time, the remaining party animals gathered for a BBQ Dave and Steffi style - ie lots of food and clouds! It was great to catch up with everyone, especially to show Rich the house and he show us his new raspy Alpha...

Suitably gorged, from the night before, the 'lads' headed out early on various steeds including the DDG bad-ass-ness and a hired 08 Enduro SL form Phil Corleys.

Straight off to Chicksands, and as it must have been over a year since I was there last, some stuff had changed! Different shore sections a plenty, some of which I even rode, and new lips and bits all over, very satisfying...

Gav was out for the first time in absolutely ages and he had a real blast which was brilliant! He rode better than I've seen before and is now going to hire a bike for the Alps, what a turn up! Mike and Gav were sharing the SL and although confidence inspiring for Gav, the general consensus as that its not as good a frame or bike in general as the Enduro of old. It felt lighter (but not in a good way - less rigid and more breakable!) and the suspension wasn't anywhere near as solid as the Fox predecessors.


Anyway, Daryl was riding well, too, doing the small ladder before he'd pedaled anything else... We all ran the dual course a few times for a warm up and I believe that this was instrumental in gearing Gav up for the day. :p

Then on to other trails, drops and jumps before some really good runs on the excellent dual, again... Whips aplenty of those lovely lips!



After all this excitement, we hightailed it over to Woburn, beating the rain and nailing the hip line (badly) for some video and doing a small roadgap/stepdown thingy that I couldn't face on my own! Wahey! Back home for a roast and amazing choccy cake courtesy of Steffi and Gemma! And relax!



Monday, July 21, 2008

I'll have the snails please, red wine......and a Chalet

Well here it is, Chalet Clair Matin.

These are all pretty poor shots taken under extreme mental fatigue having spent the day negotiating an agreement in my best (worst) French with the unfeasibly friendly owner. The rest of the shots are up on Flickr but really don't do it justice

It's not quite ours yet but it's all over bar the fat lady lady singing and we are now registering our company at which point it becomes legally binding, although we have sent a sizeable enough deposit to cause involuntary twitching to make sure it's a done deal.

Ext I
Chalet from the road into Morzine 4 mins walk from the lifts

There is a self contained 3 bed apartment downstairs (on the left looking at the above pic) complete with kitchen. Seperate on the right side through the side door is the sauna, wet room shower and hot tub that looks out over the valley.

On the middle floor is the kitchen and dining room, three double bedrooms and the lounge, widescreen home cinema, balcony and a wicked view.

Upstairs is a large loft room that could sleep 5 friends comfortably or a family and a small loft room that sleeps 3 -4.

Website, availability, contact numbers and prices, transfer details are all on the way for some kind of launch by the end of August, just after the captive bred flying pigs are released back into the wild!!!

Sauna, conspicous lack of superhero underpants, long may it continue

hot tub

table from lounge
Kitchen and dinning room from the entrance

loft big I
Large loft room

loft big II

balcony middle view
view from the dinning room

Table from Mezanine
Looking down from the stairs.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

King of the Castle

Well, maybe not the King. A serf or peasant, more like. Had a great weekend all round, went to Mum's retirement bash on Friday night, which was ace as loads of the village community turned out and thanked for all her hard work over the last 18 (!) years... Lots of sandwiches and cake. Mmmm. Then lounged at home and caught up with what M+D had been up to, getting back in time for a blast on my bike at Woburn, where the jumping is coming along nicely. Still not done the small road gap. Need motivating partner to shout at me.

Then off to Gav's on Sunday morning for a peak at his flat, to lend drill bits and most importantly, to climb at the Castle! We got in around mid day and met up with Gav's friend Steven before getting stuck into the bouldering. Routes were dispatched with grace and ease, less grace and less ease and not dispatched at all!




The Castle is a seriously good venue and I reckon, probably the best indoor wall I've been to - loads of nooks and crannies, various rooms and a great vibe (with not too many tops-off-heroes). We had a good run on the bouldering before roping up and doing a few top ropes and leads. Either their grading is steep or I'm less good than I thought I was. I'll let you draw your own conclusions!

PS. We know about the Banner absence and are sorting it. Somehow it never rises to the top of the 'important' pile in work...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New things my phone has seen

As life is turgidly boring, here are some of the exciting things that I/my phone have witnessed over the last few weeks...

Peter, Steffi's brother's sweet music setup - including waa waa pedal, chaos pad and death ray. Too legit. Peter and Pippa are getting married and have got a sprog (gummage in Peter talk) on the way! congratulations!

Some sweet taxidermy. Taxidermy rocks and is a constant source of boredom beater. Lots of it on e-bay. This fine specimen was lurking in a royal hunting lodge in Epping Forrest.

Our super fighting, spikey attack cat, Minou, complete with her first kill. Which she brought into the lounge and dropped at our feet. It then flew through the house, pooing and squawking... She knows that Taxidermy rocks and wants to get her collection started. Nice one, mog.

Climbing at Castle with El Ginge on Sat as massive clouds stop wet play.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Despite the midweek busting of my head-DIY disaster strikes again, Jeremy and me managed to get up to Llandegla on Sunday and have a blast about-very wet it was but the trails were still fast and grippy. Very impressed by the place overall and I would say on a par with Afan at least albeit there is only one trail. Some not overly impressive cameraphone action below to give a taster....

Daryl on nice jump on the black run-this section ran really nice

same jump jez-whipper!!
Jez on a jump in the trail

big jump!!!!!
Nice little drop off the end of the North Shore-Big Jump!!!!!!

Jez airing over north shore

jump in trail daryl
Pretty small air over jump in trail

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Swinley and Tillgate

No pics at the moment until I sort my PC out then we'll have moving pictures, hurahh.

Bracknell was super super dry and dusty, met up with Daryl and his crew from Pompey for an hour or so until his riding green card expired, would have been there earlier had it not been for the combined navigational excellence of myself and the Manning-Jones in a) Getting out of sussex b) Getting to Bracknell c) Finding the trails, well done us.

On account of being late, first thing we rode was a do-able but not insignificant drop that branched of one of the downhills.

On the trails running from the trail head by the resovoir all you could do was lock the back brake and fishtail down the first 3 or 4 corners before it became hardpacked and smooth. Less pedalling and more pumping made for a quick, smooth run.

The jump gully was inviting as ever, really really hardpacked and fast all you had to do was roll in for the first small table followed by the middle 'straight up and down' double then a couple of pedal strokes to clear the floaty double at the end.

Made it to Tillgate downhill last night, there is some BIG stuff dotted around the woods. The main downhill course is made up of well established hard packed smooth berms that have to be ridden and connected to stand any chance of making down the course never mind quickly.

Middle section is tight and has a small pump then dropoff table thingy as a connect between two berms that flows nicely if you get it right and can send you completely flying off camber and out of shape if you get it wrong.

End section is a tight steep berm followed by a loooooong floaty double and a long left hand berm and drop.

You can't rush any of it, you just have to pedal in and try and brake as little as possible and flow through the corners, any attempt to get all hectic and pedally just results in coming into the corners off kilter and with you weight all in the wrong place. All much easier said than done.

Out of 15 odd runs I connected various sections really nicely as a group of two berms and a drop for example but only came close to stringing the whole thing together propeerly once or twice, one of those places you can't really try harder you just have to keep riding it till you learn all the corners.

Vid clips hopefully coming soon.