Monthly Archives: May 2011

Carrie Poole Faffing her way to first place

Carrie Poole In Dirt, Greggers spot on with the caption!

Carrie Poole Faffing her way to first place

Carrie Poole won the womens category at the recent first round of the Gravity Enduro Series as Ae (she would have placed 2nd if she’d entered the Elite Class). This didn’t go unnoticed by Dirt who published this photo of her along with the most accurate caption possible. Great work Greggers.

Carrie Poole In Dirt, Greggers spot on with the caption!

Spring Race Series – Round 4 – MegaDeath!

Your truly presiding over the prize giving (Photo: Dom Worrall)

Spring Race Series – Round 4 – MegaDeath!

Round 4 will go down in history as the one on broken road, where two world champions turned up and half the racers puked on the finish line. Carnage from start to finish, just like it was meant to be. Dreamed up drunk in the Lescar and held back until the time was right, it couldn’t have gone better. Watch out for a write up of this race and the whole series in Dirt soon.

You’ve probably seen this video Duncan edited together of all of our amazing helmet camera footage,  it captures the atmosphere perfectly so you can witness the carnage first hand.

ThisISheffield Team Kit, Stokes, Bowman and Hamilton (Photo: John Alexander)

We all met up for a ride up the broken road on Mam tour, 36 of us in the end. Steve Peat came along and brought along his house guest Brian Lopes who was in the country to race at Dalby. Rob Stokes even made a guest appearance flying in especially from Chamonix again and the new This Is Sheffield team kit also made its first appearance. We met at the bus terminus, geared up and rolled out. As we crossed what would be the finish line I explained a few rules. In order to complete the race you had to neck a pint of ale on the finish line. Spilling or chucking away of beer would be severely punished by DQ. We continued to ride up and everyone took in the features they would have to negotiate on the way down. Nothing too bad but elbow to sharp elbow with you mate put a new perspective on things.

Pushing up to the top (Photo: Dom Worrall)

World Champions Rolling Through (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Once at the top, everyone was instructed to turn their bikes upside down and line them up. 36 bikes actually take up a surprisingly amount of room. We walked down the hill about 50 metres with loud groans from most complaining that they were riders not fell runners, some of us are both! The Le Mans style start worked brilliantly and it was carnage from Peaty hollering ‘Go!’. We all battled for position pushing and shoving for all we were worth. Ruari POD obviously hadn’t been listening too closely as he ran straight to his bike rather than running round the back with everyone else as instructed. Joe Bowman was similarly deaf as he took off straight down the hill rather than following everyone else around the end of the line. Thankfully Lopes set him straight as sent him back up the hill with the rest of the pack. The first few corners were open and uneven meaning lots of shoulders were rubbed and places stolen. Swinny was well out in front from the start, a combination of talent and pole position, he took advantage and shot back down the hill, closely followed by Timmy. Tim had turned up somewhat late and had sprinted all the way up the hill to catch up, he and his brother Chris were still panting at the word go.

The Off Camber Shale (Photo: Dom Worrall)

Checking out the lines (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Once through the first gate we hit tarmac and the big ring was engaged. To keep it interesting we used grassy parking lumps to slow us down or catch air depending on your speed. Shane Townsend took a tumble here and left a bit of skin behind, all in a nights riding. Further down we slid through the next gate on to the Broken Road Proper, where the sides got distinctly precipitous. Negotiating a descent drop at speed or risking a pinch puncture chute was first up. Several riders punctured that night, including Alec Hartley who had a flat by the time he got to the start line. After a fast grassy or tarmac corner came a brilliant off camber shale slope with multiple lines. Steve Taylor made a last minute course correction on entry and nearly lost it on the way in, thankfully his skills saved him and Joe captured everything on video. Rob Jolley took a tumble on entry here too thankfully stopping before the edge and getting going again quickly.

Jordan, Nick and Ruari riding the Shale (Photo: John Alexander)

The next feature was a bit of a step up with a couple of line choices then it was on to a sharpish right hander and in to a grassy chute. At the bottom there was a narrow get-off gate just before the road sprint to the finish line. I rolled in 5th place to the finish following Swinny, Timmy, Luke Meredith and Jordan Gould. By the time I got there Swinny was across the line with his pint empty and Tim was well on the way. Taking a couple of deep breathes I managed one large mouthful, that was it, breathing required again. Next to me, Jordan was in even more of a state, he puked as soon as the amber nectar hit the back of this throat and couldn’t hold anymore of it down. One lad spilt most of his pint down his face then chucked the remaining half away, he was DQ’d for such brazen waste of Ale. As my Father said despairingly “you’ve taken a health giving sport and turned it in to a drinking game”, he’ll get to know the CGCC better one day. There were some real wrecks on the finishing line, lots of little voms and quite a few big ones, however after we’d all got our breath back, you could see the grins spreading again. This had been something to tell your mates about, to say you were there.  To laugh about and talk about for the next week and especially bring up at Stoke’s Birthday in Corp on the Friday night.

Rob Jolley hits the deck (Photo: John Alexander)

The usual prize giving followed with Swinny taking first pick and selecting a nice looking packet of cookies, Tim took the Malt Loaf. Katie Hallam took the ladies crown, 16th place out of 31 finishers and the only lass. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of lots a people: Simon Garrard, Adam Wiles, Anna Dearnley, Phil Taylor (I think), Ester Stokes and Jeff King all did their bit, many thanks. Also thanks to all the came to shoot photos and video, Dom Worrall, Henry Marsh and Rich Braybutt, its great to have this shit documented for posterity.

Yours truly presiding over the prize giving (Photo: Dom Worrall)

So to the points, 16 for first place as usual but I’ve now instigated a new rule, everyone that attends gets a point. Also in this case, Jordan got a bonus point for best puke and Stokes got an extra 5 for travelling the farthest to compete.

MegaDeath points

This leaves the series standings with a new leader, Wills poor performance and Swinny’s winning streak catapults him up to first place. Ruari and Tim are also rising up  pushing Jordan down a couple of spots.

Series Standings after Round 4

This was one to remember, but the next race will be too. XC in Endcliffe Park, as many laps as you can complete in an hour and lycra is compulsory, extra points for fluro!

Justin has left the building….

Justin has left the building….

Justin has left the building, just like Elvis, and by the time you read this he’ll be with his rightful owner Mr Rob Stokes. The love affair between Justin and I was never in a vacuum, we we’re free, and he showed me some great times, the gleaming shaft of the air shock, the sound of the forks compressing when riding hard and the firm but forgiving saddle that slid between my legs.

Just being able to ride a bike anywhere at anytime is something I’d forgotten but Justin rekindled that for me. I always felt anxious when riding DH on my own, rather than relaxing into the riding I felt like I was on edge, and enjoyment came only later when riding with friends. Maybe Justin was my friend, someone to hold my hand when things get out of the ordinary and guide me out of the rough into the serene embrace of stability and competence.

For a further insight, here are some of favourite intimate moments with Justin:

Riding him for the first time in the Sheffield Dual Series. Where Rob handed him over to me, then flying over to New Zealand.

Competing in the Wellington Super D race – 13th in Masters after suffering for a week with a bad head cold and leaving the track down a bank after clipping the wrong side of a root. Pedalling so hard into the finish I thought my head was going to explode.

The primo Alpine singletrack of the Craigieburn Forest Park. Alpine Beech forest is something of a New Zealand trademark, the smell and the feel of the loamy wet soil under tyre, where any corner makes you feel like a hero.

Riding the Queen Charlotte Track in a storm with my partner Jen, 71km of singletrack through the Marlborough Sounds. Any ride that starts with a boat journey is a guaranteed epic.

Being in Nelson with my mate Lilly (the girl shreds hard) up in the Coppermines and then riding on the following day in the Hira forest on life-affirming trails.

Not staying on the bike on a long gravelly left-hander and getting cellulitis in my knee and having a dose of Entonox gas on New Years Eve. Not as dramatic as Sam Hill’s World Champs crash, but definitely on a par.

The giant podocarps of Whirinaki Forest Park, a forest described by David Bellamy as ‘one of the great forests of the world’. Nuff said.

Getting up at 4.30am on Christmas Day and ascending Ben Lomond above Queenstown and then riding on pristine soil and tracks back down into the town in time for a feed and a flat white well before lunch.

Discovering the joys of commuting back home from work….

Justin has been a great addition to my life, but now he has gone I realise I don’t miss him – he’ll live on and travel to the world’s best riding, he enhanced my life and was never a hindrance, but I had to make room in my heart for another addition to my life…..but more on that soon…..

Winter 11 is dead….

…Long live summer!

Col des Courtes

I am actually hoping to keep skiing all through the summer this year, searching out patches of snow in hidden shadowy gullies and probably skiing into some rock climbs up high, but my proper winter skiing is over now. It ended on a high. T’other week I skinned up the Argentiere Glacier with long time Cham local Ross Hewitt and Dave ‘Milky bar kid’ Searle intending to ski the Ammone, a huge and very asthetic line that would have dropped us bastard miles from Chamonix in Switzerland. Due to the logistics of ferrying cars and setting up lifts, and our apparent inept ability to organise anything more than ‘first bin at GM’ we decided the North facing Col des Courtes could be a good, and logistically easyer line.

Searler on the leisurely approch

Touring up to the face was pretty cool, the going was easy with a firm snow surface and just a couple of inches of fresh made it a very social skin with the 3 of us side by side having some good man-chat.  It was all very leisurely really. As our line came into view it was all looking very nice, no tracks, fresh snow and beautiful runnels running down the upper part of the face.

Myself approaching. Photog cred:Ross Hewitt

The bergschrund was conquered after a small false start too far left, with skis on and roped up. Crampons on now for the duration of the climb. Ross put a slightly ascending traverse in, and then started up the face proper. The going was fairly deep. No bootpack in before us meant some hard work, with some steps sinking boot deep, some waist deep wallowing and a bit of swimming. At least everything felt stable and the deep snow offset the ever-apparent exposure as we gained more height on the face. The rock band was ascended through a short gully on some ice and then a wee bit more wallowing.

Myself about half way up the face. Photo: Ross Hewett

My ‘bomber’ belay at the transition

The snow started to get hard and shitty near the top so we decided to crack the skis on, and forgo gaining the actuall col. Ledges were dug and sketchy belays were improvised with ice axes and ski poles in the unconsolidated pow. The battle to change over from crampons to skis is never an easy one, frozen crampon straps, exposure, dynafiddles, the ever present risk of dropping something important has me taking my time here for sure. I don’t wanna’ rag-doll to my death while trying to take a piss ether, so that had to wait. Though thinking about it I could use a few more GNAR points…

Searle

Down time. This is what we are here for. Ross and Milky are much much stronger climbers than me, both technically and fitness wise, but I can ski well so its a level playing field again. I feel an equal again. Rather impressively Milky is first ready and skis the first turns. A bit sketch at first after a few cautious jump turns we all relax a bit. The snow is good. He gets to a safe spot so our slough doesn’t kill him and its my go. The snow is good. Still cautiously jump turning I start to link a few turns instead of stopping in-between turns. It feels steep, even in the perfect conditions we have it in. We estimate it at 55degree’s. Its pretty hard to estimate pitch though. Everything feels so different in different snow conditions….45degree’s feels nearly flat in perfect powder, but put even the best skiers in the world on 45* in icy conditions, and over fatal exposure and they will be shitting bricks. A few weeks earlier I skied Cunningham couloir (50*) in hard hard snow conditions….it was scary as shit. I stayed on the rope for a fair way…..so we figured if this feels steeper than Cunningham despite having perfect snow…it was definitely fucking steep.

Why does looking up always look flat? Searle skiing

Me just after the ‘choke’. photo: Ross Hewett

Ice axes in hand we got through the rock band with skis on, and ropes away which made it all a bit quicker and we soon found ourself on the lower face linking some nice turns. Little jump over the bergschrund and we were free. Awesome line! Looking back up Ross and I took the piss out of Milky Searle’s ‘epileptic’ and erratic tracks and then for his apparent loss of his ice axe somewhere on route. Truth be told, Searle is doing very good skiing lines like this after the amount of skiing he has done. He has a bloody good jump turn on him, and will become a very good skier for sure.

The ski-out wasn’t without its fun ether…there was pretty much no snow down low, so we linked up patches of heather and grass until even the Scots man had to walk.

Good end to the season! Bike time now…

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