joe

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.

Cyclocross?

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 :

DO

– 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!

 

DONT

– 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.

 

 

Cheers.

Joe.

 

 

Turns out the French don’t always surrender…

Turns out the French don’t always surrender…

4:48am is not a time to be getting up, especially to ride bikes with 700 others, all intent on beating you to the line.

It’s a similair feeling to the Sunday at the Megavalanche, with an early lift ride, wrapped up to the nines, heading up to 3000+ with skiers in tow.

One huge gondola ride later and we were out huddling in the cold, looking for somewhere warm to wait before the last train to the top. An old kitchen was spot on at the time, before we got upgraded to a pretty swanky restaurant, which had everything you could ask for… Coffee,bagels, croissant all sitting there looking at us. Awesome, apart from no-one had their wallet, as we were about to do the Mtn of Hell, duh.

I drank some warm water from the taps (yum) and headed out onto the snow to get a glimpse at the start piste, the section which definitely makes this race famous. It’s roughly 200m in length, completely straight and hard as ice. Luckily conditions were prime today and the grip was there for the taking… Not going to lie, this bit shit me up just looking at it. Coming over the last brow onto the steepest part looked brutal from below and that’s before you slam or tram into the next left/right chicane around the restaurant. Scary stuff.

We got a quick run round the corner on the way down to the last tram to the top… Wise words from Obi Wan, Sven Martin, who for a tog, is pinned on a bicycle. “Stay out of the carnage and keep it lit to the first fireroad” 10/4 Sven.

The tram up top lurked through a cave for a good 5 minutes before leaving you at 3400m, crammed in a room full of sweaty, nervous people, who all either needed or were queuing for the toilet.

Walking out into a near 360 view was pretty cool, even more spectacular than the Mega… with some decent weather to top it off. Saying that though, with wind chill thrown in, it was -10 when we were laying our bikes down, no temperature to be dressing down to a jersey in.

We had a good hour or so spare, waiting for the rest to fill up the huge starting field, of around 700, including women. To calm the nerves, the organisers had obviously got in touch with Corp and borrowed their playlist, because after 10 minutes of discothequing (new word) with Sambo and Al Stock, we could have been in the main room sweating it out to Rage back home.

“10 minute to go” oh shit, we’ve got to ride down that thing now. Nerves, turtle heads, dizzyness and thoughts of loose bolts rush through your head like normal, but keeping calm and getting tucked in was the only way down.

Psyched to go, the heli is circling with Gee Milner dangling his skinny little white legs high above, adrenaline buzzing, people shouting and then….. Nickelback comes on.

But only for a second… thank god. ACDC Highway to Hell comes blaring on, Linford Christie stance commences and BOOM the horn goes. Sprint like a duck to your bike, pick her up, hop on and pedal until you spin out.

Now I had a pretty sweet spot tucked away on the right hand side of the piste. By halfway down nearly every had picked left or right, due to  a huge ice patch in the middle… Those lefties, turned out to be my biggest enemy later on…

Being fully tucked, heading towards 80k+ down snow on a bicycle is insane. Literally whichever way you or on-lookers look at it, it’s just plain mental. Nico Vink who started behind me, came past and made me think twice about being stood still, rumour has it he hit 124KMPH further down….

So on we trucked… I grabbed a bit of brake probably half way down and watch a few people pull away. It’s amazing at that speed how the slightest dab drops you metres behind. After manning up and letting off, I remembered Obi Wans words from earlier about getting left for the chicane…

Looking for it, I dabbed some speed and started to peel over left, looking good for the moment, aiming to avoid a huge crash/bunch on the inside. Then BOOM.

Out of nowhere, at the last second I heard shouting, coming closer, really fast. A quick glance and BOOM, some French dude, who had either lost his brakes or brain t-boned me full tilt. It was mental… he literally can’t have touched his brakes and if it wasn’t for my body and bike, he would have plowed straight up the rocky bank and took off into oblivion. At first once I got my shit together, I thought ‘kill him’ but he’d long gone… without even a ‘sorry’, ah well, i’m sure he didn’t intend to do anything like that anyway… But then recovery mode and a wave of pain kicked in…Time to get off the slopes.

It was the biggest/hardest hit I’ve ever took on a bike for sure and it knocked the crap out of me. Feeling like a tool, dizzy, breathless and battered, i crawled off to the side to lie down and later got a helping hand down the chair by an English couple, who seemed mortified by everything they’d witnessed over the last 10 minutes, haha!

So things didn’t go quite to plan this year… But would I do it all again? Yep. It’s completely bonkers and has some of the best terrain/trails ever.

Get it done.

In the mean time, check out my Go-Pro view of the carnage:

Boom.

Mountain Of Hell so far…

Mountain Of Hell so far…

They pretty much hit the nail on the head with the title of this one…

After a couple of months off the bike, it was off to the Alps to find the missus, do some editing in the sun and take part in Crankworx Europe.

14 hours later, with a few near misses, a high-speed cop bi-pass, 3 large coffees, 2 cans of red bull and 3 Lucozades, I arrived in Les Deux Alpes at 11pm. I’m pretty sure with that diet on the road, I exceeded my daily sugar and caffeine amount by 10x. Come 4am I was still twitching and sleep wasn’t on the cards, this meant Wednesday was a bit of a write off, with only a couple of runs in the afternoon.

Like most people in the Uk scene, 5-6 inch travel bikes seem to be taking over, getting the most use out of anyones stable. I was fortunate to borrow a rather shiny Santa Cruz Carbon Nomad for this trip and holy shit, what a bike. Carbon wheels both ends (not pictured) plus carbon frame,bars and stem means a seriously stiff bike, which rolls like a train. It’s amazing what you can get done on these types of bikes… This one as pictured weighed in at 29lbs on the dot, with dual ply tyres, coil Lyriks, big tubes and dropper post.

Compared to the Mega, you don’t hear much about the Mtn of Hell. I’m not sure if that’s down to Marketing, luck of the draw or because of how dam full on it is.

First practice run from near the top of finals was a cold affair. -3 with wind chill… Sambo was still psyched though!

Les Deux Alpes has a glacier, which is open nearly all summer for skiing and other winter activities. It was literally rammed with them up top, even in the white-out conditions. With the mornings rain, the snow was slushy and tough to work with, fingers crossed that things freeze for finals. At 2700, you kind of forget how high you are, compared to back home for most of us. I heard that Mick Hannah lives at roughly 1600m over in Colorado and was seen doing sprints up top for training… animal.

As you can’t hit the real start/top section until race day, via train access, we checked in a little way down on a flat out fire-road section, leading into the first huge boulder field, stacked with lines.

The picture doesn’t do it any justice, but basically it’s a blank canvas, with tonnes of options to chose from. We hit it 3 different ways, all with their own pros and cons… Picking and choosing lines the entire way down a mountain is what makes these style of events so awesome and unique.

After this, there was a similar theme for the next 5-10 minutes… Real tech, wideopen boulder fields, interspersed with flat out fire-road segments. Very French and very cool to ride.

Speaking of French things, check this blokes attire out. Royal 2013 leak?

Watching the top boys scope and walk lines is funny, as none of them are too keen to show their cards too early on. A few passes up top can make life a lot easier further down the line, especially if your off the back.

So things had been pretty tech, but fun so far… nothing out of the ordinary, until we came across this beast…

It doesn’t look like much here, but A, it wobbles and B, when it’s wet and your tired… it’s deep enough that you’ll be swimming across that’s for sure. The organisers have cleverly made sure that if you don’t take the higher/skinnier right hand line, you have to take a de-tour once you’ve disembarked, losing vital seconds. One good point someone made though… If you get off and walk, no-one will pass you and you can’t fall in! Bonus.

By now, this should have split people up nicely, leaving with some flat out singletrack down to the mid-station, with a few mega steep scree slopes and switchbacks thrown in for good fortune.

After all this descending, your probably starting to perk up again, but oh no, here comes the big one. See those tiny poles in the distance? That’s nearly the top… smooth fireroad it may be, but after 20 minutes of high altitude descending, this will suck major balls.

So you’ve done the big climb… breather? No… your heading into the ENTIRE Air Dh track from earlier in the week…. The only thing they’ve made easier, is the jumps have been taken out. Thank god. Sambo hit them all bar 2 on his little bike though.

Check out the Parkins coverage of the Air Dh to get a taster of the carnage, HERE

The bit you don’t see on most coverage is the tight, steep turns halfway down in the trees that will wreak havoc on your tired little arms. No places to pass too, unless you’ve got big balls… Cross the old finish line and your back into town, where you’ll take a left, head through a FOAM FILLED PUB, and down a hikers path to the valley bottom, which is stricly off limits for practice. So it’s even blind for the last 10-15mins…. Hardcore stuff.

Quali went well today for me, with a top 10ish finish in my heat (I think) and a 6th row start line for tomorrow.

The whole thing was captured on Go-Pro, so if you want to get a feel for things and have a spare 15mins, check back tomorrow!

It’s a 5am start … to be up the top ready for 7:20am sharp. Predicted -10 temperture with a 9am kick off… can’t wait.

Boom.

Scandi Tales.

Scandi Tales.

Normally, any TIS media produced  is a testosterone fuelled sausage banquet, whether it’s late nights in the woods wit’lads, or camping at races with a 10/1 ratio.

We’re lucky enough though, to have a few core female riders who ride and attend a whole host of events/races both far and wide. Hanna Jonsson, Joe’s Swedish import is one of them…

She’s currently trawling round Europe with another Hannah (Barnes), riding, racing, cooking and cleaning. Check out Part 1 of her adventures here!

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Strength In Numbers + Dudes Of Hazzard Premiere!!

Strength In Numbers + Dudes Of Hazzard Premiere!!

It’s that time of year again…. Competition to follow.

“Strength in Numbers” – UK cinema tour dates announced

Dates have been announced for the UK cinema tour of “Strength in Numbers”, the eagerly awaited new mountain bike film from Anthill Films, the guys behind The Collective series of films, Follow Me and From the Inside Out.

“Strength in Numbers” is a new mountain bike documentary that explores mountain bike culture through the experiences of the world’s best riders. Anthill Films have created a film, which will change the way the world sees mountain biking, both on and off the screen. Presented by Shimano and Trek, Strength in Numbers combines progressive action and beautiful cinematography with compelling stories to show how the many different sides of mountain biking are all connected.  The filmmakers, who brought you ‘The Collective’, ‘Roam’, ‘Seasons’ and ‘Follow Me’, traveled the globe to find communities that represented the many sides of the sport, with film shoots in British Columbia, Nepal, Scotland, Austria, Switzerland, California, Utah and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

Strength in Numbers features a diverse selection of riders with some of the biggest names in the sport, including: Andrew Shandro, Brandon Semenuk, Cam McCaul, Gee Atherton, Graham Agassiz, Matt Hunter, Rene Wildhaber, Thomas Vanderham and Wade Simmons.  The cast consists of a mix of established pros, up and comers and local riders, with Anthony Messere, Adam Billinghurst, Rachel Atherton, Ryan Howard and Steve Smith also appearing in the film. “It’s been a long time coming and I can’t wait to see what the Anthill boys have put together”, says world cup downhill champion Gee Atherton. “For me, as a rider, it’s exciting to be part of something like this – it’s a chance to help progress and grow our sport.”

For everyone who catches the tour in the cinema, they will enjoy not only the opportunity to see “Strength in Numbers ” in the big screen in all it’s Blu Ray HD glory but also get to watch “The Dudes of Hazzard” from homegrown rippers Jo Barnes, Liam Moynihan and Fergus Lamb, best known from their work with www.mtbcut.tv on the MOJO trail diaries and “The Dudes of Hazard” online films, in their inaugural big screen outing.

Following the boys on their European road trip adventures last summer, “The Dudes of Hazzard” is an irreverent and funny take on the mountain bike film chronicling their madcap attempts to race, ride, film and have fun on the way. Following on from it’s sell out world premiere in February, the tour will be the only chance to see the film on the big screen.

To follow the Dudes on their latest hair brained adventure, go to

www.facebook.com/TheDudesofHazzard

TOUR DATES

The tour kicks off with a double premiere night in GLASGOW at the GFT  (www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre) on THURSDAY 31ST MAY 2012 at 8.30pm and in Peebles at the Eastgate Centre as part of the Tweedlove Festival before doing a limited tour of venues across the UK.

Dates and locations already confirmed are as follows:-

GLASGOW Thursday 31st May 2012   GFT, 12 Rose Street 0141 332 6535 www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre

PEEBLES Thursday 31st May 2012  Eastgate Theatre, Eastgate 01721 725 777

www.eastgatearts.com
EDINBURGH Monday 11th June 2012  Cameo Cinema,  38 Home Street, Edinburgh  0871 902 5723        www.picturehouses.co.uk

LEEDS Friday 15th June 2012    Hyde Park Picturehouse, 73 Brudenell Road, Leeds   0113 275 2045   www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk

SHEFFIELD Tuesday 19th June 2012   Showroom, 7 Paternoster Row, Sheffield  0114 275 7727         www.showroomworkstation.org.uk

PENRITH Date TBC     Rheged IMAX Cinema, Redhills, Penrith   01768 868 000

www.rheged.com

Tickets for all the venues (with the exception of the Rheged screening) are on sale from this week onwards.

Houston we have lift off.

Houston we have lift off.

There’s been a bunch of hype surrounding Cotic’s second venture into the full squish market. So as expected ,Cy Turner the one man band behind the entire brand, took his time and got it right before he released it to the masses…

We’ve got a pre-production one for a little while, for a few things… so watch this space. But Joe squeezed in a few laps today around Wharncliffe to give her a bash.

Yes it’s nearly a full steel setup, but don’t start thinking it’s heavy… with a frame weight of around  7.6 lbs including shock, it’s still a competitive trail centre weapon.

It’s a sensual ride, making love to the trail, not ploughing it. Basically, it rides light and likes to ‘pop’.

Watch this space for more bits over the next month….

Photo by Philpod.

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