Yearly Archives: 2013

Winter Dual Round 4 – The Christmas Special

Winter Dual Round 4 – The Christmas Special

Sticking with the age old tradition, the last dual before Christmas was a festive affair. This consists of everyone togged up Santa outfits and all the prizes being wrapped up secret santa style. Its adds to the fun and gets us in the festive mood. This year we outdid ourselves and everyone made a real effort including our lady timers, Steph and LJ who were sporting red dresses and LJ even had matching lingerie. Amazing. Thanks as ever to both of them for keeping us on track and timing us.

Ho Ho Ho – A great sackful of Santas. Photo – John Horscroft.

I set out a slightly different course on our familiar hillside with the corners and the big traverse working the other way round. The first set of double lefts into a big right around trees got slick quick but not as much as the traverse. If you lost speed here, you were screwed as it meant a slightly uphill pedal. The remainder of the corners were fast, loose and close to your competitor, especially the last few tight ones. Great fun.

The Lovely LJ Showing off her Christmas goods. Furry Muff. Photo – John Horscroft

The Christmas spesh has also brought a few dual stalwarts out of the wardrobe which was great to see. First off I got a massive man hug from our own James Swinden who’d forgone Pilates in favour of getting sideways in the loam again. Also showing his winter Hobo Chic look for the first time this season was Stephen Peater of Ecclesfield. It was great to have them both back and in the same Santa suits they rocked last year. As well as Cheg’s, Steve brought along his mate Turtle who hadn’t raced our dual before, but more about him later. Henry Norman was also back racing for the first time this season and especially in the festive spirit as his wife Helen is expecting their first child! Congratulations to you both! (Just hope it misses the ginger gene…).

Timmy and Swinny Facing off – Not trying at all. Photo – John Horscroft

We had 28 entries overall which tested the new bye system (which means my comprehension of it). It worked out well though as the Pearsons turned up after eight with Joe Spivey in tow. As punishment they got no practise at all but unfortunately Chay didn’t get the bye he’s been promised. The first round saw a few interesting match ups as ever. JoBo got drawn again Swinny but had an epic fail in the second leg and didn’t put up a fight. Henry was paired up again Jake Monk and unfortunately failed to beat a child, something I hope he continues with into fatherhood. I was drawn against the ever quick Will Swinden. He fell badly in the second leg on the big right hander leaving me with a clear lead. Unfortunately I panicked, froze and still managed to lose. Gutted. In the second round Chegs and Swinny faced off first and it was a close one with Swinny only winning by half a second. Peaty came up against Will who resoundingly took him apart on both legs and 5 seconds overall, maybe it was the increased drag from the beard? Then came the Pearsons. They’d had a few rides down the sides of the track to figure out where it went but no actual practise. Tim had the easier draw and showed Joe Spivy who it was done. Chris was up against Chay who’d been practising for an hour and is rapid anyway. It was very close but Chris took the win in both legs and went through to the quarters. The Quarters were all tight, non more so than the brothers Pearson however Turtle, in his first dual outing, was smashing his way through the field. Watching him ride was an education, he was cornering on drifty loam like no one else, bike right over but still in control, feet up and peddling. I was impressed. The semis saw him face up again Swinny who managed to get a half second vitory and move on to the big final. Timmy brought a halt to Will’s progress and also moved through to the Big final, where Swinden senior beat him enough in the first leg to make up for a second leg loss. First time back this season and he takes the win. That boy can’t half ride a bike (and gives the best man hugs).

Get on board the Santa Train. Photo: John Horscroft

Once the poles and the lights were packed away it was on to the prize giving. With all the prizes wrapped up it made for an exciting selection process. The first few were shown off but it soon descended in to a blur of flying paper. As Turtle picked up his prize for 3rd place a definite grumble was heard from that side of the ring of people. He stepped back in to the ring, head bowed and admitted shamefully that he’d been running spikes. Swifter than the USADA with Lance he was stripped of his prize and his crys of not knowing the rules fell on deaf ears. Spikes are banned to keep things even and this was a very good demonstration of why. Tsk tsk Turtle.

Rhubard. Photo – John Horscroft

The Controversial Turtle using his unfair advantage to challenge the mighty Swinny. Photo – John Horscroft

After the 4th round the top of the Gnar points table is already hotting up. The best 7 out of the 10 rounds will decided the winner but at the moment Timmy is comfortably sitting at the top, with Chay 14 points behind in 2nd and Will Swinden sitting in 3rd.


X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

In this case, if X is a spot, then it’s a long-lasting, ugly, painful bugger.

If we have any regulars to this wee site, you’d know it’s been mainly Nick holding down the fort this year, (and doing a bluddy good job) whilst I’ve been swanning off round the world/trying to concentrate on running on a new business. This, has resulted in two things… A lack of posts on this here site and a lack of any actual bicycle riding.

So coming into this winter, things began to get quieter and like many, it was time to catch up on things, whether that’s family, friends or a new lego set, the off-season is a blank canvas at the moment. We all know that it can be a time to have our own little ‘Rocky’ moment and fill ourselves with ideas and plans about how we’re going to get mega fit for ‘next season’. I’m not gonna lie, come end of November, I was feeling pretty grim and un-fit, so plans began to form… After a quick encounter (at the Climbing Works) with local Olympian and old school mate Annie Last, I somehow ended up promising to attend a Cyclocross race, out near her home in Great Longstone.


There’s a few things that come to my mind straight away, replicated through the images below:

Now I think you’ll agree, none of those 4 things above, look like a laugh.

But come December 29th, full of Turkey, Beer and anger from visiting family, me and Rich Baybutt, another one of those media types who swans off all over the place, lined up bar to bar, at the SRAM NDCXL Round 12, Thornbridge Hall.

Turning up, we had no idea what to bring, where to go or what to do. There was a lot of folk looking pretty serious, going full bore on wet rollers, with crazy soft tyres (apparently your not meant to have 60psi for X, who’d have known!) all looking ready for war. Walking down to the ‘track’, I imagined we’d be seeing a mix of woods, tarmac and surfaced trails, but I was wrong, very wrong. Thick, wet ,muddy grass straights, 15 feet wide, were taped in up and down the field,  interspersed with 180 switchbacks, all on a completely flat gradient. It looked like the worlds shittest go Kart Track and to say It looked grim, would be an under-statement… Thoughts of  ‘making up time on the downhill sections’, went well out the window and smashed one over the road.

But even after realising our fate, we were both still relatively psyched… Operations ‘don’t finish last’ and ‘beat the gompers on mountain bikes’ was put in place from the off and we JUST about achieved it. To keep things short, as we are talking about riding road bikes round fields after all … It was fun. Yep, in some weird twisted way, kind of like when you listen to Taylor Swift driving by yourself, it just felt right. Being knee deep in mud, with 100+ lycra clad men in December ended up being not too bad ya know. 50 minutes of pain went by pretty quick and during that time, you got to see the top boys come past you like they were on tarmac, pushing that big ring whilst your sat in the granny straining away. Local lad and MTB legend, Nick Craig, races a lot of X and boy can he corner on it… There’s grip somewhere on those tyres. He kind of got stuck in the tape though at one point when he pushed it a bit too far, after flying past me on the inside…. but none the less ended up 2nd, good work chap.

After it was all over, freezing our bollocks off and wanting to puke the morning diet of jelly babys and gatorade back up, it was a surreal moment, as we stood in a sleepy estate getting changed out the back of a van. ‘People actually move to Belgium to do this?’ was the main concern.

Next round’s on the 19th in Ashbourne. Get on it. Here’s a few do’s and don’ts from a first timer, good luck :


– Be fit

– Enjoy gruelling slog fests in mud

– Make sure your brakes are working prior to starting

– Let some air out of your tyres.

– Pass as many on the first lap as you can, find a rhythm!



– Forget to make sure your brakes are working

– Eat too many Jelly Babys and Gatorade for breakfast beforehand

– Have a bottle-cage on your bike

– Use a Mountain Bike.








From a previous trip. Banger by Duncan Philpott


It’s the last week of 2012, the weather is typically wet but abnormally warm. Danny ‘Widehead’ Whitehead (my very good friend who’s been studying in America since the summer), Dave ‘shit line choice’ Camus and myself decided to do something a bit different. After much persuasion and being asked “Are you on crack?” I managed to sway them into riding somewhere that wasn’t a busy trail centre or muddy, boggy local XC loop.

Instead we went to Snowdon.
Why, you might ask, did we choose to do this? It may be without the dust, jumps, tree cover, bright sunshine or chairlifts and gondolas of the alps but for some reason it gives just as good a buzz but without driving for 24 hours and splashing a load of cash.

The Ranger Path is not designed for anything more than plastic walking boots from your local outdoor store so the trail does have a few sneaky rocks which you don’t see until the last second, especially when trying to go flat out and holding a straight line rather than weaving around to avoid obstacles.
There are flat out and wide open sections where you’re hopping over rocks hoping that there’s not something jagged on the landing. Other sections are slower and rockier but still quite wide so staying off of the brakes and skipping over holes is much easier than trying to take each hit as it comes. Other sections have a few flat or off-camber corners with loose gravel but also banked, almost switchback sections which allow you to feel like you’re on a proper track. The very last section, known as Mordor, is much slower and involves picking lines to make it through without catching your front wheel on a gap between boulders and being pitched over the bars.

From a previous trip. Banger by Duncan Philpott

The combination of high speed at the top and slow, tech stuff at the bottom make it feel like you have the variation of tracks like bike parks in France, Italy, etc. Perhaps not quite as much variety but it’s better than nothing. Also, weather conditions can definitely spice it up a little. 50-60mph winds, snow, ice and cloud cover definitely alter the experience a touch as Danny, Dave and I found out on the penultimate day of 2012. As we were pushing up we spotted at least 3 people with crampons attached to their boots and rucksacks full of survival gear, yet all we had were five tens on our feet and sandwiches in our bags.

As we neared the summit the wind picked up, it was the strongest I’d felt for a long time, and we didn’t think we’d be able to ride at all from the summit to the start of the Ranger path. Climbing to the top, we stopped for brief periods when the bikes were almost being blown from our hands and crouched when we were being toppled over. The view wasn’t spectacular although we didn’t plan on staying long as cold and numb hands aren’t ideal when trying to descend a mountain.

Due to the conditions we doubted it’d even be possible to ride. Every attempt at trying to walk with the bike on a slippery surface in high wind would almost put you on your arse. However, once we’d set off and had enough momentum to stay up it was an amazing feeling. Leaning into the wind to stay on course, the tyres having just enough grip to counteract the moment and not disappear from beneath you. Every now and then the wind would pick up an extra 5-10 mph and you’d slide from the left to the right without even steering in that direction. Seemingly easy sections on previous visits were made all that more challenging so the feeling of accomplishment for making it through the top section with just a couple of dabs on the thicker sheets of ice was much greater.

Once we had made it over the railway track and further down the Ranger path we dropped out of the cloud line and there was less ice. The trail was now riding like on previous experiences, still a bit damp but when only making a few direction changes this isn’t much of an issue. The wind speed was still quite high until we reached the lower third of the mountain, until then you had to try and keep both wheels on the ground to prevent the front wheel being swiped away by a side wind. This is more difficult than it sounds though as there are boulders just asking to be hopped off and over. The last section of the main descent is known as Mordor and contains a few surprises with it being a steep, narrowly cut path with rocks of all shapes and sizes littering it. Every time I’ve come to this section I’ve somehow managed to make it through blind. Once we reached the end of it cleanly Dave and myself couldn’t resist a cheesy high five…

‘Mordor’. Banger credit: Duncan ‘Dirt cover’ Philpott

The gradient of the Ranger path levels out so a short pedal is required. To make it back down to correct side of the mountain a short push is required to reach the start of the ‘Telegraph Valley descent’. A flatout section of track with rocky drainage ditches that you’re hoping at around 35mph (according to strava…) and one or two flat corners. This leads you onto a road taking you straight back into the heart of Llanberis.

Strava Smashing 5 – January

Strava Smashing 5 – January

Its Wet out there, there is no denying it, so I’ve been thinking about something rocky that we wont do too much damage too and will still be fun to ride. Therefore, we’re heading out to the Peak District and the classic descent of Hope Cross, The Beast. This is also motivated somewhat by the uphill domination of the last couple of segments but this will still require pedalling to get in and out of the DH as it starts way before the steep bit. Watch out for the sharp left at the bottom and there are two gates to negotiate, don’t leave them open!!!

If you don’t know The Beast, there is a great description, photos and details of over on MonkeySpoon. Here is Jeff King’s video of Bike Garage’s James Irwin riding it on a hard tail.

Be careful riding this segment you’re on a public bridleway. You’re Strava time is not the most important thing, the use, acceptance and permanence of the trail are. If there are others on the trial, give way to them, give them a smile, you can always have another go. DONT FUCK IT UP FOR EVERYONE ELSE.

You’ve got until the 31st January and can have as many goes as you like, only your fastest will count.

All we ask is that you ride responsibly. Be respectful to other trail users, the trail itself and yourself. Don’t piss anyone off, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple. There’s not prizes, only bragging rights. You race completely at your own risk. We take absolutely no responsibility for your actions or any injuries sustained to you or anyone else.

Strava Smashed 4 – Dallow’s Deliverance

The 4th outing of Strava Smashing was a celebration of the newest addition to Sheffield’s network of trails, the purpose built 2km loop at Parkwood Springs. Entitled Dallows Deliverance in deference to Jon Dallow of Sheffield city council that made it all happen, we cant do new years honours so this will have to do.

The Loop is great fun and the ups are soon forgotten when you hit the flowing downs, railing berms and pumping bumps. However, its only short so to make it a bit more interesting I decided to start the segment at the bottom of Rutland road to give a nice little warm up before hitting the trail itself. When having a go at the segment myself, I did actually question the wisdom of this, but it was a good bit of winter training I suppose.

The Segment was another popular one with about 30 people having a go, many multiple times with 79 total rides in November. Pete Crawforth put in 6 laps alone. Again it was great to get feedback from riders through Twitter and Facebook, we always like a bit of banter. As usual the action didn’t really get going until a week or so was left to go but it came thick and fast. This being a mainly uphill segment it was really a fit mans track which showed in the results. Chris Siddall took an early lead with a 12:14 on the 17th November which lasted until the 22nd when Will Bloomfield cracked out a 11:48. This was snatched from him by Pete Crawforth the following morning with a 10:22 but his crown was stolen by Ross Phelps that afternoon with a 9:57. The following day, the 24th, Andrew Douglas again stood up to the plate and smashed out an 8:56, the winning time which no one else could get near.

Using RaceShape gives an interesting result. Andrew was well ahead but struggled a bit getting off Rutland road before putting the hammer down and pulling away.

Our ladies league this month was won by Victoria Gray with a 12:58, a great time and good enough for 18th overall

This then leaves the overall league and once again it shows that turning up is the key, as somehow I’m topping the table. Just. Sim Hartley, who consistently beats me by a few seconds, is in 2nd by 2 points, with Ross Phelps, John Inman and Andrew Douglas making up the top 5.

Great work all. Hope you enjoyed last month’s race, the next segment for January will be revealed shortly and will be different than the last two. As always if you have any suggestions for segments you’d like to race or comments please get in touch at

Finally a massive shout out and our sincere thanks to Dan Nisbet who made all this possible through the original Thank you Dan, you’re a legend!

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