Got a bit dark after work….
The second round of the Schwalbe British 4x kicked off this weekend with great weather, many spectators and a broad field of riders enjoying what is one of the fastest courses of the series.
However, in the semi-finals Scott Shepherd, known for his baked beans top took a heavy crash and remains in intensive care in hospital. Racing was cancelled for the rest of the day.
The air ambulance had two call outs on Sunday, a big shout out to them and the ground emergency crews who worked so efficiently.
Best wishes to Scott on a healthy and speedy recovery.
So, here’s the race video from this weekend’s round.
Photo credit: Henry Marsh
Over my easter break I visited the Isle of Skye with my Dad and twin brother, Pat. I’ve been numerous times in my life but it’s only on our recent visits there in ’09 and ’11 that I’ve been old enough to appreciate the spectacular scenery of this magnificent island (long words are loooong). The skyline from pretty much anywhere on Skye is dominated by the Red and the Black Cuillin. Rising straight out of the sea and culminating in thin ridges and small, exposed summits with lethal drops in every direction. There are few mountain ranges in the world as jagged as these (so I’ve read).
Out of the 6 days we were there I rode a few solo XC loops and climbed, with Pat, Sgurr Alasdair (tallest of the Black Cuillin, 5th highest summit in the UK and highest point on Skye) and Glamaig (tallest of the Red Cuillin). From these points we were able to sample some of the most impressive views in the UK.
So, for the riding. The day after we arrived I fancied stretching my legs after the long drive up from Bourne (my insipid hometown near Peterborough) so went for a quick 20km spin on-road, then off-road following above the coast, then back onto another road and home. However, due to the map being about 10 years out of date, the path I was expecting to ride wasn’t exactly there anymore. Neither were about 40 square kilometers of trees I was expecting to ride through. Ahhh well!
The next day we went out to the Sligachan Glen, where I would ride the Sligachan trail. There was a loop suggested, however I decided just to ride the 12ish km section to Camasunary bay and then come back on myself to the Sligachan hotel as Pat and my Dad were walking in the area. I was looking forward to this trail as I had heard good things about it on t’internet.
The trail started well with a few undulations but still gradually gaining gradient along the glen, I was looking forward to riding it in the opposite direction with gravity aiding me slightly. It was fairly tough going, having to keep pedalling hard to carry momentum to make the techy sections more fun and flowy. This didn’t really give me time to take in the scenery so I decided to have a break.
Here’s what I saw:
Not bad eh?
I continued onto Camasunary which had a nice, steepish descent from a loch and then levelled out to the bay. I stopped here for lunch and to take a few more snaps. I also tried to get some self portraits but they turned out shit and they make me feel like a sad and lonely bastard…
So here’s one of my bike instead:
The route back to the Sligachan hotel was equally as hard going as the way out despite having an overall downhill gradient once I’d reached the level of the loch. On my return I bumped into 2 pairs of riders and chatted to them for a bit. Turns out both pairs were from Sheffield! I also spoke to another bloke who’d been quite unfortunate and had had at least 2 pinch punctures I seem to remember. He was a fan of ThisiSheff and was looking forward to my article (I hope he still is!!). What a small world.
Unfortunately, this track just didn’t live up to my expectations and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want something fun and slightly challenging to ride.
Right! The Quiraing loop. This was absolutely ace! Some really tough rocky sections, not even rideable in places. It was a nice quick loop, about 15km in total I guess, so I decided to do it twice. The views were epic, from both below and from the top of the sheer, monstrous cliffs:
The loop starts off from a car park at the top of the last road climb. As I got going I went by a few small groups of people all saying similar things like “Good luck!” and “You’re mental”. It turns out that the trail narrows to about 20cm wide in places with steep slopes down the side. Also, there are some quite big and tricky rolling rock drops and off camber sections which definitely test your nerve. My advice is to just stay off of the brakes and worry about it after something goes wrong… that way you have some momentum to get through sections instead of slowing up and having to dab onto thin air.
The track splits about half way along. On my first lap, not knowing where I was going, I took the left fork and continued to stay beneath the cliff face and climbed the path at the end to get a view over the top. The wind was quite strong when I reached the highest point of my ride, luckily it was blowing me away from the edge…
I went back to the fork and took the right hand line. This was the start of a fast, rough and challenging descent through a few big rock gardens. I was holding on tighter than I ever have before, the front end taking massive hits and my hands and wrists rolling back, almost losing their grip at times!
Once I’d reached the bottom I thought “Right! I’m doing that again!” so I did. This involved riding along the road into a head wind then heading up the steep climb to the car park, but I thought it would definitely be worth it!.
And yes it definitely was worth it. I would highly recommend the Quiraing trail both for the epic scenery, the challenge it presented me and the big grin on my face at the end of it.
I need to get back to revision!
Set including full size versions and a few bonus pics can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ru_ra_ri/sets/72157626683593100/with/5703743721/
Bye for now.
Spain. Sun. Mountains. Bikes. Mates. Riding…. Now that sounds like a good plan for a 4 day weekend to me!
After resting my wrist for 2 weeks and not really doing anything with myself except working I was chomping at the bit when Friday the 1st of April arrived and me and 7 other riders jumped on a flight to Malaga, Spain, at 6am for a 4 day riding holiday (well for myself it was more of a training trip). My wrist hadn’t fully healed but I wanted to chance riding and see how much I could get away with. But with the second round of BDS the following weekend I didn’t want to make the situation worse!
We arrived in Malaga at 10am, the sun was out, and with a full day of riding lying before us. To say we were excited was an understatement! After building up our bikes at the airport and getting some rather funny looks from ‘normal’ tourists while waiting for the van to arrive, we headed to the tracks to get started. I taped up my wrist with a support bandage and as I tied my shoe laces and felt it tweaking away I really worried about how much riding I’d actually be able to do.
The first track we went to was mental! It was so loose and rocky words can’t describe how loose and rocky it actually was. Me and Joe , both of us who have never been to Malaga before, were initially slightly worried I have to admit! If every track had been like that one I don’t think all 8 of us and all our bikes would have made it through the weekend! The second track we rode was called the ‘Antenna’ track, solely because it started at the top of the mountain where the Antenna- like radio mast was. It was a bloody long decent and absolutely amazing. It really did have everything, with the rocky gully at the bottom which was about 30 seconds long being the highlight! Imagine the gnarliest rock garden ever, then make it fast as hell, really narrow and most of the rocks around are really sharp – something like that! Ow and with 50 PSI in your tyres because you’d flat with anything less! If you made it through without touching the breaks you’d just defined commitment on a DH bike!
By the time we rolled up at one of the very English Malagan pubs it had been an epic first day but my wrist was bloody sore! Not that I was the only one with problems – Barry had blown up his rear shock and Mink had smashed a front wheel to pieces (Animals!). However, things took a turn for the better for me and my wrist. After icing it at the pub and then using Biofreeze for the rest of the trip coupled with strapping it I seemed to somehow, ride it better… The vibrations from riding must have strengthened all the muscles around the problematic area and I haven’t really had a peep from it since! BDS round 2 is back on!!
The rest of the riding proved to be equally as awesome as the first day. Malaga has lots and lots of tracks all accessible using a van on tarmac or dirt roads but somehow there doesn’t seem to be a massive riding seen. You very rarely bump into other groups of riders, and if you do they tend to be other tourists rather than locals. We rode a couple if super long tracks and a few shorter, more racey style tracks as well. By the time the 4 days was up we’d probably done the equivalent of a whole seasons worth of DH vertical in the UK.
I’m now fully fit again and very practiced for the race this weekend. For the last number of years I’ve returned from Whistler at the end of the season feeling fully dialled, but then there haven’t been any races left for me to smash out a wicked result! Then again last year would have been my first BDS podium if my chain hadn’t snapped on the sprint to the finish. So now I’ve just returned from 4 awesome days training on some of the hardest longest tracks I’ve ever ridden, I’m confident for a good performance this weekend at Moelfre! Although coming back from those tracks to ride Moelfre might be a bit of a come down!
All images by Nelsonimages.co.uk
Not gonna lie, when I first met Ed I thought he was a southerner…. but looking back, this was probably because he was polite and said Hello instead of grunting (Stokes)
He’s smooth on a bike and looks like a ninja, in his all black steeze. You’ll be seeing him on the site and at the races if his loan stretches that far….
He’s never had a tv in his house, loves Balti King (filth.), travelled to London to see the Saturdays and got beaten up by a bouncer for wearing lycra.
Check out Duncan Philpotts short edit of Ed (and friends at the end) :
Here’s some shots from him aswell:
Someone also sent in this funny story about Ed getting the shit kicked out of him by Swiss farmers:
“i was having a bit of trouble with this, i cant really think of anything really hilarious that has happened to ed, HW, this is a good tale which involves him.
Swiss farmer story-
In summer 2009, while staying over with ed for a few weeks while he was on a season, a group of us decided to go over and ride at champery. After riding the wc track, we then decided to go ride a piece of single track that guy and chris had seen on a map. Getting to the trail involved a real long hikeabike up to the top of the hill it started on.
So we began riding down this trail and it was real sweet, after about 5 mins riding we got to an electric fence with a young swiss farmer stood behind it. He started shouting at us, and said that he wasnt gonna let us continue riding the trail through his land.
Our friend Alex, who has lived in france for a long time started shouting at the guy in french, this lasted for about 5 minutes and resulted in alex calling the farmer an ‘ignorant swiss fuck’, at this the farmer pulled out his phone and called sum of his boys up, we were like fuck you and walked back off up the trail. So after a half hour climb our group reaches the top of the descent and now faced the prospect of a further half hour push back up to the lift station home to morzine or an easy cruse down the fire road to get a different lift home.
At this point alex claims that we should not go down the fire road because the farmers round there were real inbred and wud not mind fucking us up, we ignored his advice and all decided it would be better to just bomb the fire road back to the lift.
We ride past a real shit restaurant and sum guy pops his head out on his phone, we think nothing of it then ride down a connecting bit of single track which misses out a big loop of road, when we reconnect with the road a car screams to a halt in front of us. Out jumps this little prick swiss farmer we had argued with earlier and his fucking gorilla dad, who was going totally wild on us.
Then another 3 or 4 farmers come out of a nearby barn and start getting involved.
So we are a bit stuck, the car is blocking the road and his kinda split the group in half, chris, alex and guy on one side, me and ed on another. The gorilla turns on the larger group first and tries to take chris’s bike off him by roundhouse kicking him! Monkey starts squaring up to him in an old school fisty cuffs stance! Then alex, guy and chris manage to escape. While all this was going on I leg it back up the trail and hide, shouting at ed the whole time to do one. Then, when about 50m back up the trail, i look back and see ed shitting himself, frozen to the spot. Then the farmers start on ed, They start proper teeing off on him and goin mental, ed is in a little ball and the farmer is punching his fullface and trying to rip it off his head!! mad shit! then i walk down the trail after hiding my bike and try get the farmer to calm down, this fails real bad and i just end up on the floor with ed while the farmers surround us and contemplate where they are gonna dump our dead-tourist-fucking-biker bodies. they keep screaming at us and me and ed just shout back at them in english making prayer signs at them with our hands! loads of bikers and walkers came past while all this was happening and did totally fuck all, they just looked at the floor while they walked past and allowed us poor bastards to just continue getting schooled by Switzerland’s most inbred farm G’s. It was pretty scary stuff because we were really in the sticks and there were no police or anything for miles.
We were saved by some swiss woman who came out of one of the buildings a fair while later and managed to calm the farmers down to a certain extent, but they were still mega pissed and it was real tense walking out of there after going and retrieving our bikes. Then after finding the others we got followed by the farmers on a quad and we had to run the border out of Switzerland, up a real steep trail while constantly shitting ourselves that they were gonna bezz up behind us on their quad and murk us.
eventually we got back to morzine, no one hurt, no bikes nicked, and a real good story! “
This is my first post on this bit of cyberspace so i thought I’d give you a taster of what i do… Photos.
The slightly ambiguous title is all about where these photos were taken, Sheffield! Here are some shots from the past couple of months from riding spots local to Sheffield.
From the urban areas of the city we have the Bolehill BMX and Downhill:
And not to forget the occasional street spot!
Next up we have one of the more widely known spots, Wharncliffe:
Then, not forgetting, the many miles of Peak District which border the city:
Well thanks for reading! Expect some of those moving photos in the future and enjoy the sun while its here.