Parkwood springs is poised to host its first official race in just over a weeks time on Sunday 23rd June. Those sweet berms and tables will be pounded by many sets of wheels all vying to take the win. As Parkwood is only a 2km loop its a bit short for this kind of race so Dan Cook, who’s actually partly responsible for Parkwoods existence, has been plotting some interesting additions which will be unveiled on the day. This will make it up to a nearly 5km loop so there’s going to plenty of new trails to ride.
This is a mass start format with the number of laps depending on which category you enter. Everyone will line up next to each other in category and smash it out, shoulder to shoulder. With parkwood being as tight as it is, that start is going to be all important.
Now, you may have noticed, Sheffield doesn’t get many bike races. Other than the Steel City DH, Stilettos on wheels and Rother Valley events we’ve always had to travel to race (officially) so this is a great chance to actually race in the city centre (ish).
Entries are live and pre-entries end this weekend so you need to be quick. Personally I’ve entered the Sport Category, for 4 laps, so if you want to find out how sharp my elbows are, lineup next to me. They accept racers from 8 years old and upwards to bring your kids along to get a taste of racing.
As ever, they are a few Marshalls short of a race, so if you don’t fancy racing or are just coming to watch your loved one race, please drop Dan a line dan.cook@CTC.ORG.UK
This past weekend I headed abroad once more on the quest my those oh so valuable UCI points.. So here’s what happened..
The plan was crack out a top ten at the Norges Cup in Drammen, Norway. A quick Bank holiday weekend trip with a happy ending.. Well, it nearly wasn’t..
I had planned everything to run quick & smooth without taking any more time off work, who have so supportive of me these past two seasons, so I could save that valuable holiday allowance to book time off for the World Cup rounds I was hoping to head off to..
Friday night ship out, me & Mari (PA/wag) were on the road to the airport for 17:30, loads of time to get stuck in traffic in Glossop & still make our 20:45 flight. Easy done as it turned out Glossop was not even that bad! (For a first) Everything was going according to plan, on time, organized, right up until check in. Lost wallet. Uh oh. Hadn’t a clue where it could be. Last I remember I had it at the bus stop, damn. A quick call to the bus company but no sign of it. A 45 minute round trip with only 45 minutes to our flight time.. even bigger uh oh.. Jet Parks plus were awesome, they sent me a personal pick up from an Irish fella named Willy, top guy, cant thank him enough for ragging that bus around getting me back to the car park to search foe the wallet. But no joy. It must be either checked in with my bag.. or someone has it. Hoping for the former i was rushed back to the airport, bouncing over kerbs & worrying other drivers as we sped back to the terminal. Dropped as close as possible i ran to meet Mari, picked up both hand luggage bags & sprinted to the gate, girlfriend in tow. Just in time we made it to are gate, only to find the flight itself had been delayed slightly, which was nice. A bit more time to add that bit of worry as to where the wallet actually was..
A few anxious hours later & the time had come to collect baggage & see what situation we were in… was good news? At first no, no signs of the little fella. oh bugger, my heart sank a little, then success! Nestled away in between my shoes, there he was, sneaky thing! relief..
So, on we pressed. Rent-a-car, then hotel for a sound nights sleep.
Again all was running smooth but time was really getting on. Gone 01:00 in the morning & still traveling, I had been up since 04:30 am the day before! Starting to feel tired & really want sleep we pulled up at the hotel, Which turns out they mixed up our booking with another hotel some 15 minutes back up the road. So off we went again. 03:30 am we eventually got our heads down. 23 hours awake in total, great.
Up at 07:45 am for breakfast. An all you can eat mix of hot & cold buffet style delights & those that know me when it comes to food know this is never a ‘quick feed’. A little insight into how I ate..
It started with a large warm plate, A large helping (and large means what you would imagine as large, plus more) of eggs, beans, meatballs, little sausages, some onion omelet things & potato chunks, with a side helping of a couple of sizeable hand cut slices of seeded bread & coffee. The size of meal you’d normally look & think, ‘Wow, I’m gonna feel full after this!’
But that’s not all.. Onto a helping of porridge & more coffee, before helping myself to the cold buffet, a couple of bread cob sandwiches stacked with hams, cheeses & salads before heading back for another plate of warm. Not as much as first time around admittedly but considering the size of round one, even half that portion size was still pretty sizable.
Not done yet, a bowl of cereal & yoghurt, more coffee before another sandwich & a take away coffee.. That just about covered it I reckon.
Enough about food, Time to ride!
30 minutes down the road we arrived at Drammen Skisenter. Pulling into the car park a noticeable in feel between British rounds & this one. So much more relaxed, no one rushing about, no struggling to squeeze runs in, just calm & welcoming. The chairlift probably helped a lot, set just off the road, such easy access.
We set up our pits for the day, built the bike up & headed to the lift, around 11:00 for first runs.
The track was cool, a huge rock slab to build speed before dropping into a very loamy section. Due to pretty severe weather in the build up to the race, this section as littered with thick deep mud bogs that killed your flow, but as more riders descended, soon dispersed the most & dug down to the bare rock.
A tricky switchback before a large rock roller to build speed! A couple switchbacks later before opening up a bit. Building speed was fun on this track! Smashing through 2 very soft turns, easy to bury the front end & get pitched forward before opening up over large rolly rocks again. 1 more tricky wooded section before exiting onto the ski slope to the finish line turns & jump.
A rad track. so enjoyable it didn’t feel anywhere near as long as the race times suggest.
I headed straight back up.. no queue, at most it was 3 people deep, just pleasant.
Unfortunately this time around I clipped a rock in the high speed rock roll section, got bucked pretty bad but held her down! Determined not to crash! (it pays off being strong!!) damn rock though bent my pedal pretty bad, too bad to be able to ride it.
A quick call at the Norwegian Santa Cruz & one of their riders sorted me out with a fresh set of pedals, cheers guys! would have been really stuck without you!
New pedals fitted & back up the hill. 2 more runs but was starting to struggle with fatigue & tiredness. So headed back to pits for a lie down.
So, 4 runs, a lengthy pit stop & it was still barely 14:00!
A lie down turned into a nap.. nap turned into a sleep.. so I called it a day & went for a track walk. 17:45 & still riders on track, Norwegians have riding priorities dialed!
A couple of fresh lines had appeared in the tech sections, something I was keen to try out in Sunday mornings practice.
We headed back to our hotel, passed out pretty early on after scouring what delights Norway had to offer on telly. Why oh why do you guys seem to have a channel dedicated to breast feeding?! Its just creepy!
Back up for more breakfast (see above for portions) Before arriving for 09:00.
To the the lift for 9:30, practice closed.. oops.
So, First run Sunday with trying new lines would be seeding run, not the best prep but that’s the position I got myself in!
A gentle run scoping things out. Over the line & in 10th place. Pretty positive.
Top ten was the goal for the weekend, this would give me the points needed to compete at World Cups this year.
Off for race runs.
A bit different to what I’m used to this year, no trainer, no music, just myself & my thoughts.
Its easy to over think things & get wound up before a race run, something I have struggled with greatly in the past. So for now its off for a walk, a bit off warming up whilst picturing back to back clean runs of the track.
Into the start gate & a sudden flutter of nerves, before being able to shut them out with some clean thinking.
Onto the pedals & away! cranking hard I could feel I was under power from fatigue but no excuses, time to race.
A small error into the first woods dropped me off line slightly, not loosing too much time though as moment was kept.
Onto the open section & time to open up, some stiff pedal strokes before nearly ditching it in the soft switchbacks. Thrown over the front wheel as it dug in, foot dab to hold upright, before getting back on with it.
The final wood section was clean & smooth before smoothing out the final turns, squashing the last jump before crossing the line.
Slightly nervous as id crossed the line in 2nd & waited for the next man down to see where id end up.. A chance of missing out on that top ten was a possibility.
Fortunately for me that didn’t happen! 7th the end result, a little further back than id have liked but still, job done! Happy with the result & 100Euros better off! Cheers Norway!
So, back off to pack up with smiles on our faces. A good weekend of sun & bikes with a result that would give a life long ambition of competing in World Cups a reality.
Thanks Norway for having me! You were all so awesome! See you later in the year for Hafjel!!
May the forth be with you. Well it was, last weekend, for the 3rd Steel City DH as this great edit from Gee Milner shows. The biggest little race in the North just keeps on expanding. This year, aside the 200 racers who ensured the entry was sold out within an hour and a half, over 100o spectators filled Grenoside woods heckling and eating and drinking everything that was on offer in the bombhole. When was the last time (other than a fort bill world cup) a mountain bike race had that many spectators in the UK? Peaty had to think back to the Malvern classic’s way back when to remember a similar atmosphere.
This great edit from X Trail Films gives another angle of the day.
This years race was given a bit of a twist as it was on 4th May, we pushed May the forth be with you as much as possible with Cotic offering a BFe frame for the best dressed Star Wars character! It was won by a plastic bin tranformed in to a fully functional R2D2. Peaty himself was rocking a full on Storm Trooper outfit with a custom TLD lid aboard his Santa Cruz Brosnon Speeder Bike
Winner of the Cotic Prize for best Star Wats fancy Dress, R2D2
For the first time ever for the race, the sun had been shining for the fortnight leading up to the race and the woods and the track was dry. The funds raised from last years race had been ploughed back in to the woods by the Sheffield Wildlife Trust and improvements to the track made by local firm Bike Track and volunteers from Ride Sheffield made for the fastest racing yet. Gone were the days of the muddy slog pedal fest, pumping through the rocky course and carrying speed through the bermed corners was the order of the day.
As ever the generosity of the events sponsors was overwhelming with prizes galore for all podiums places and the every popular raffle. The race has always served to be completely inclusive with kids from age 10 upwards racing in the rippers category. This year we also had 30 ladies racing, amazing for a race of 200 people. They were split in to two groups; one for those racing for the first time and the other for those more experienced. Our oldest entrant was Pat Horscroft was in her 70th year and celebrating by racing for the first time ever. She was rewarded with a special award and bear hug from Peaty on the podium.
Track builder David Gregory of Bike Track makes the most of his hard work on race day. – Photo: James Brown
As ever the atmosphere all the way along the track but particularly at the gap jump and finish bomb hole was electric. With so many people out watching and banging the hell out of the noise makers they had brought the racers were often seen smirking from the hilarious heckles.
Well Prepared career marshal Rob Jolley came armed to the teeth
Shef Uni were out in force and the Stoke levels were kept high
Although most prizes were given away on the podium or in the raffle one very important one remains. A brand new Blur TR donated by Santa Cruz bicycles. In a size large it up for auction on Ebay with all proceeds (minus the ebay fees) going directly in to the charity pot. The frame with a Fox Float CTD Adjust Kashima Shock is worth over £1900 and we are open to reasonable offers. Please use the best offer system on Ebay to make your bids. Ideally You’ll collect from Sheffield to give cash on collection so we can avoid paypal fees.
So back to the racing. For the 3rd year running, Dr Peat took the win, this year on his Santa Cruz Brosnon. That means he’s won on a different wheel size each year. Maybe 20″ next year? Full results are available on roots and rain but here’s the podiums
Massive thank you’s to all the event Sponsors, Helpers and Marshals. Many people willingly give up their valuable time to make this race happen and it could not happen without them. Its part of what makes this race so special, the people and smiling faces that help year in and year out. Thank you!
The race is organised by a team of 4 riders, myself Nick Hamilton, Steve Hardcastle, Henry Norman and Joe Bowman. If you see us out on the trails or at the bar, give us a pat on the back if you had a good day in the woods.
Thursday afternoon and im buzzing with excitement ahead of the first BDS of the season! so excited in fact I cant stop eating.. anything in sight was consumed at a rapid rate!!
After my disappointing trip out to Portugal a few weeks back, I was feeling a little behind schedule with my preparation for this event. I didn’t want to start this season as I had started last, A disappointing start followed by a lot of “oh well there’s always next time”, which seemed to circle every event with me throughout 2012.. But not this year! This year I have come with a different mindset, something i’ve been able to work on with Dr Rob from Sheffield Hallam Uni. I’ve given myself more of a focus, a better drive to succeed, and now comes the time to put practice into play.
Friday and the new race truck is packed up and on the road. A 4 to 5 hour trip down south was ahead.. Until we broke down a couple of hours into the journey.. Not the best start to the weekend. Turns out my dad was working not too far away and was able to get to us within an hour to help out.
Turns out our alternator was faulty, and having to turn the headlamps on during a rainy journey must have drained the last of the battery and cut the engine out.. bit sketchy at 65mph whilst overtaking going up a hill in the pissing rain, cutting up a jeep with minimal vision whilst attempting to get onto the hard shoulder.. Fun.
After some time twiddling the same wires over and over again with no result, something clicked in Dads head and Boom! jump leads from truck to truck and see what happens.. success.. Now to get off the motorway for a proper look.. Run the jump leads from the truck battery through the window and attach to a leisure battery in the foot-well? why not!! Worked a treat!
We eventually got back under way after swapping batteries around and headed off, hopeful to make it before dark so we didn’t have to use headlamps and drain another battery! This didn’t happen, it went dark just before leaving the motorway. Noticing flashing blue lights approaching behind us made me panic a little as it was definitely time for lights, yet we were still plodding without.. fortunately they were not interested in us and pulled someone up only a couple cars back! We survived the rest of the journey with Dad leading as we followed closely, no lights just in case!
Arriving at around 22:00/22:30 we fed and got our heads down ready for the weekend of riding ahead of us.
Saturday – Up at 05:00 for track walk! Peaceful and quiet with no one else seeming to be around or even stiring, I was able to get to the top have a look and come a someway down before even seeing any else on track.
Nothing had changed from last year, still same old same old, just a nice refresher having a look around.
Saturday Practice and things started nice. the new V10 was running sweet and I was enjoying plodding down my first run. Then things didn’t seem to go as planned. The weather turned and rain came, 2nd run was a shambles, I hit my head and shoulder pretty hard into a tree and upset myself. As id got up early I was able to have a little hissy fit while Jamie and Ricky Bobby were tending to my ride. Having those boys around during the weekend helps so much, It gives me the chance to go away and leave my bike in their capable hands, have some food and a clean up and come back fresh knowing my bike is clean, prepped and ready to go as soon as I am. Cheers guys for all your hard work!
The rain was beginning to come down hard and eventually myself and Loosedog made the decision to head up for another couple
of runs. Again, things were not really going to plan and I was struggling to find my flow.
Sunday- Race day. Up early again for First lifts! Knowing how bad the uplifts can get i was sure to be on the first lift, right at the end so the chance to be one of the first down the hill.. The track did not look to appealing. Thick gloopy mud caused by heavy rain through the night, conditions just look draining. I met Loosedog at the top and we proceeded to descend the track. Again, a shambolic morning, nothing I was doing seemed to be going right and I couldn’t figure it out. My final practice run was the worst of all. We stopped a couple of corners up from the step down into the open to see what conditions were like. As I dropped in to attempt to huck, I double un-clipped, reached fro the break levers and slipped of both only to grab again just as my front wheel dropped over the take off and landed me face first into a pile of mud. Funny i’m sure to the onlooking crowd, but not for me!
Back to the pits, leave my bike with Jamie as I sit on the turbo and go through the track in my head, Not thinking about any mistakes!
Qualifying – Just awful. First corner over the bars. Scrappy run, another crash dropping out of the second bus stop. Missed line in the tight woods, then one more crash in the lower woods. Wow, things really were looking terrible.
Once more, back to pits, refresh and forget. Then Irve came out with a cracker, “Forget it lad, its in the past now, Quali is only a ticket to the party”. And he was right, made me smile as I span on the trainer, first, get into the party, then its time to dance!
Finals – Arriving back at the pits with Fresh Jersey, fresh pants, fresh SKINS, fresh shorts, fresh socks, fresh shoes. Fresh head. Ricky and Jamie had set me up Pro with some tyre wraps to keep the thick mud out before the start.Feeling pro now!
I headed up early for a look and some prep work. Jamie traveled up too with the turbo for warm up. I gave myself a plan. Spoke to Loose and told him I had a plan, he replied, ‘Stick to it’, I said, ‘I’m going to’… Sat on the trainer, spinning away with my headphones in, then by accident the best thing that could have happened, happened. a few minutes before my run, “Ludacris, Rollout” came through the speakers. A tune that has always got me fired up not matter the mood. I smiled, eyes shut, felt calm and got pumped!
Race run started as planned, gently caressing the sticky mud, riding lines outside of the deep stuff. I am not the most skilled rider, nor the most stylish nor fastest, but what I have over a lot of riders is an ability to push my bodies limits. To put in more effort when others don’t want to. I payed attention to my weaknesses from quali, but didnt let it take over what I knew my strengths were. I rode the first awful turns cleanly, then it was power time. I shifted down 2 gears by mistake, so all that meant was pedal harder.. so thats what happened. I cleaned the sections I had previously Struggled on and now was time to push. Cranks were spinning as i felt composed and in control. Things seemed to be running slow, yet not. I was fast but in control, I had found my flow.
Back off again a little in 2 more tricky corners as I dropped back in to the middle woods. Clean the deep ruts then it was pedal time. Approaching the first double pedals were just turning, not good enough, on landing, down 2 gears and smash through the pedal strokes! Holding the bike down over the next few jumps I felt strong. The winter of training was showing.
The final wooded section and again I backed off a little earlier than practice, good as things rolled smoother and cleaner, holding momentum. Then just before the final sketchy crucial Rock roll, I snagged a tree root and get turned 90 degrees left, unable to un-clip.. A slight panic but just managed to get the left foot out. Dab the long way around a tree and roll the rock drop before really having to give it my all to get up the slight off camber incline. I cranked my arse off to the line and over. As I got off the bike I was happy yet frustrated a mistake happened where it did. Legs wobbled as I grabbed a needed Monster and I made my way off to the side to watch. Being 3rd rider down I ignored the hot seat as i didn’t think I had performed. Yet rider after rider were coming down with times slower than mine..
I was still holding onto the position.. how?! The last few descended and the end result was 8th! more than happy with that, but what maybe could have been without that mistake and lost time?.. Looking at the breakdown of times.. I was 6th at split 1, on the same second as 5 time World Champ, Sam Hill. That mistake at the bottom cost me dearly, with every one around me clocking 40.00 seconds I was back on a 43.00+ seconds, but still to manage a top 10 at the first chance of the year boosts my confidenc an joy! This then boosted even more to learn my team mate Josh Lewis bagged a 5th place finish in Expert, and then further boosted learning Brad Swinbank too placed 5th in Youth.
Well done to everyone on the team and again a huge thank you to Ricky and Jamie for keeping us all running smoothly throughout the whole weekend!
A cracking end to a challenging weekend, made better the fact Dad had single handily swapped the alternator in the truck in the pissing rain, and we got home safe and sound!
then to celebrate.. A Jaffa Cake!
So last week saw me enter my first race of the season, The Portuguese cup in Gouveia.
In pursuit of a bit of sunny riding and those all important UCI points, there is a reason Brits head over to Spain and Portugal this time of year.. mainly because our weather is so shit to ride in! and to get up to speed for the year ahead on a fast flowing track.
Weather for the week
On arrival I was struggling a bit with a virus, which gradually got worse over the week! Gastroenteritis, not nice! low on energy and suffering from De-hydration, things weren’t looking good for the week ahead. To make matters even worse, the weather wasn’t looking to be what it had originally promised. Grey skis with menacing clouds hung around all week, the odd bit of sunshine warmed things up but mixed with the amount of rain and riders meant the track to and unusually quick battering, which for a fresh track, just turned it into a mess as the week progressed!
In terms of food, all I could try to stomach all week was water, and dry ham sandwiches. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner, Dry ham sandwiches, all week. And some biscuits here and there!
This year saw the introduction of a new, fresh track dug into the Portuguese landscape. A lovely looking loamy track with high speed off camber section most of the way down.
Friday was sign on and track walk before an evening of practice. I signed on, then slept on the car for a couple of hours, then attempted a track walk. Half way through and energy levels were so low I had to return to the hotel and sleep. From 15:00 till 07:00 I was out like a light! Before returning to the hotel I did watch this cool train of caterpillars though! It was about all I could focus on.
Saturday and a full day of practice ahead. I was feeling slightly better after necking a handful of Imodium tablets and headed off for my first run of the weekend. A blind top section was probably not the best of ideas! although the track wasn’t incredibly technical it had the odd section to catch you out, especially the awkward turn to drop to flat to off camber corner which nearly caught me out severely!
I was feeling a little fresher however the lack of fluids and nutrients on my body meant I was unable to fully focus and my mind was way behind where my body actually was on track, which eventually caught me out and I had my first crash of the weekend, a simple error but one that wouldn’t normally happen.
4 runs in and I was done, out cold and back to the hotel for more dry ham sandwiches and sleep.
Sunday race day came around and the weather wasn’t playing ball. Rain mixed with periods of sun meant the track really was struggling, wet bog sections dried up slightly and turned to thick mud, then back to water with the rain, then mud with the sun, things were getting really tough! Not good with no energy!
1 practice run and then waiting for seeding.
As bad as I felt seeding went, I turned out a 19th position, 7 seconds off a top ten. With very little pedaling to conserve energy I was surprised to be in touching distance of a top ten.
Finals came around and big rain shower hit before more sun. This effectively ruined any chance I had of a result. The weather massively deteriorated the track and out of the gate i was done, 2 errors to which i stopped and was unable to move with bugger all leg power.
Everyone seemed to suffer, times were 20 seconds slower from quali to finals and I ended up 23rd.
Not the result I was looking for but given the circumstances there wasn’t a great deal I could do about it!
Fresh Royal Racing kit for the year
So the season is well under way now and time to focus on recovering fully before hitting the first BDS hard!
Sorry for the lack of photos! not much riding was done!
Cheers to everyone for the support for the season ahead, here’s to the next race!
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…
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.
Used at Dual for the first time last night. They’re too good for me, I cant get my feet off them yet and didn’t make it past the first round. However, they are still the most amazing present from an amazing group of mates! Thank y0u.
In 5 years time we all will be riding a 29″ bike. This is not by choice but a simple and unfortunate matter of economics and market choice.
To think I’m a ‘hater’ of the big wheel is probably an accurate description especially when my opinion is not based upon experience. The nausea in the bike industry builds up inside when I hear wheel sizes being the next ‘best thing’, the MTB media, especially journos bark on about how much time you can save on section of track, how smooth the ride is, and how the bike feels slower but you’re actually going faster. In one word, ‘poppycock’.
15 years ago mountain bike tracks were a lot different, and the terrain in which the bikes traveled on differed too. V-brakes were a revelation, more than 53 mm of fork travel was confined to the Sunn-Chippie race team and handle bars were lucky to measure anything more than 650mm. I’m not going to discuss the evolution of DH World Cup tracks here, but the tracks we the common people rode, i.e. you, me, your mates and your older sister, bridleways, farm tracks (like Owen’s Mad Track in North Yorks), 4×4 tracks and the odd bit of homegrown single-track was run of the mill especially when your only means of stopping was in the strength of your fingers. As time went on so did advances in bike technology, hydraulic damping was developed, geometry was looked at closely and disc brakes became the norm. A notable progression in bike technology was being noted, and the way in which previous ‘exclusive’ technology became available on much cheaper bikes meant that the playing field was beginning to get leveled.
The days before Superman II
The transfer of seeking to ride technically harder tracks could be subconscious or it was a deliberate move by riders seeking to push limits, but no doubt the ability to hit bumps harder and to leave braking later was attributed to having a bike that didn’t feel like it was going to implode as soon as the tempo increased. The tracks we build and look at riding on a daily basis are subject to the bikes we ride, I wouldn’t look at a DH bike on a track with intense climbs on it, nor would I expect to perform at Val Di Sol on a XC hardtail. Our ability to ride bikes on difficult terrain at higher speeds, through compressions, rooty off-camber corners and square-edged rock gardens is attributed to the development of mountain bikes through out the last 20 years.
26″ of Fun
With a dwindling world economy especially in the leisure classes of the Western World and a saturated market, bike manufactures needed something else to boost their shareholders wallets? It was a realisation to encourage the emergence of a secondary bike industry already in a marginalised market. “We can sell the same amount if we tweak the market, imagine selling the same bike, the same components twice…a whole range of new tyres, wheels, frames and forks…” Cue the birth of 29″ wheels. All of a sudden a new market within the industry emerges and the profits begin to flourish.
Two Gates in a Field.
Giant Cycles 2013 in Australasia import and distribution program is one of the most cynical catalogues I’ve read in recent memory, only one 26″ bike that’s not a DH bike. No longer do I have a choice of what bike I can ride, I’m being marginalised the outer reaches of what I want to ride and how I want to ride them. Did I ever need more of an excuse not to ride a Giant? Will the Big-S; Scott and others head in this direction too? I hope not, but hope does nothing to exonerate market forces.
The terrain may seemingly flatten out on big wheels, but no doubt in a few years time we’d be wanting more challenging terrain, where line choice is not a simple matter of the size of your wheel’s radius.
However, the media-slaves, which only groom the hype and further poor science, will no doubt prove me wrong with metaphysical data. See the following clip:
It seems that rational thought was temporarily suspended and replaced with opinions that were grounded through a mixture of dog vomit and cat piss. When will we see the MTB media actually start testing and reviewing on a more scientific basis, rather than the supposed ‘feel’ and then back this ‘feel’ with ‘bad science’? The lapdog journo industry have access to testing bikes that only a few of us dream of owning, yet after extinguishing the smoke and smashing the mirrors, the tests reveal nothing, a void that has been being left gaping open more times than Bella Donna’s fridge door. The ivory towers of reviewing bikes needs to be demolished. How many times have we ridden our own bikes down the same track and all of a sudden it ‘felt’ faster? Has anything changed? Which way is the wind blowing? What did you eat the night before? Have you paid your bills? Did you receive a work bonus? Did you just recover from an injury? All these things no doubt enter our minds when riding, and in many ways we try and leave modern life’s bullshit behind but invariably it catches up with us in one way or another. Take a look at how the pro’s perform, if we were all riding equal, and all capable of 100% accuracy and having a race track dialed then there would be no competition, just a bunch of people on a mountain side that can get to the bottom in the same time. Saying that a 29″ bike is faster than a downhill bike on a down hill section of a trail is nonsense. Was it a scientific test? Did they use the same rider, leaving at the same point, with no wind, no other exterior influences? Or did they use two different riders, leaving at different points, with variable wind conditions and many other exterior influences? Please don’t insult my intelligence.
Does 29″ really give you that much of an advantage? Such an advantage that 29″ bikes are now winning races? No. Was there a top 25 29″ bike in the downhill world cup this year? No. Was there a winning 29″ on a euro-enduro round last season? No. Riding courses where bike handling skills and psychology is prime to top competition there is yet again another void staring right back at us, the advantage that the media has us believing that big wheels are faster are not coming true. The magazines drape the pages with corpses of advertising, and when the results are played out in the real world there is nothing to see. The begging question comes to light, if I bought a 29″ bike would I then be more competitive? Quite possibly yes, maybe I’d nudge closer to the podium, but no doubt the riders that I nudged to get there would be forced into the 29″ bandwagon. If everyone is riding the same wheel size the advantage becomes zero, and we are back to where we started, a bike industry selling us dreams impossible to yield, and another empty wallet.
Without the progression in MTB’s we would be riding mediocre tracks in mediocre environments. When all of us are riding 29ers we will be longing for the technical hit, and then suddenly trails will again change. In one hand the emergence of bikes that travel faster over terrain will become more apparent, and in the other hand there will be the trail builders, shovel swingers, course designers and youths in the wood longing to slow you down so line choice, body position is crucial to speed.
All the Amazing Photos: The PhilPOD(Click on them for full glory)
It’s been a busy old year personally for many good reasons so my race organisation became somewhat concentrated post winter dual. I only put on one mates race series over the summer consisting of 7 races, however, that isn’t to say I didn’t miss it and my mates who attend. With the impending arrival of winter it seemed like we should have a bit of a get together to toast the successes of the Summer Series and fuck about on bikes. Since the outing of the ManWolfs I’ve wanted to do something similar again but those torn denim sleeves and ski masks feel somewhat sacred so I didn’t want to go there again (yet). However, mates, bikes, booze and movies is a heady combo and pretty simple to do.
I’d seen a video edit on Vital a couple of years back of a contest at a skate park that I’d always wanted to try. They called it Foot Down, it turned out Baybutt called it Edging Off. The BMX crew play it competitively each summer on their Southern French pilgrimage and the idea is very simple. Mark out an area on the floor, fill it full of lads on bikes and the last one standing wins. The only rule we imposed was keeping your feet on the pedals after my kicking got a bit ‘breakie’ in the trail run.
Earlier this year I’d chucked in $20 to a crowd funding project which got Shaun Palmers biographical DVD off the ground. This secured me a copy of the final cut and seemed ideal as post riding entertainment. The chosen venue was Hagglers corner in Sheffield, a fairly new enterprise full of workshops, yoga studios and freshly serving cafe. They had a large courtyard, a white wall in the cafe to project on and most importantly were up for the idea of 20 riders smashing the shit out of each other for fun. On seeing the proprietors BMX with 4 pegs and a newly fitted basket on the bars I suspected we’d come to the right place.
The evening rolled around soon enough and naturally, was wet and miserable. As the rabble arrived we assembled in the cafe and dried off, drank coffee and ate the freshly baked cakes. Once all the bikes were stacked and the beers cracked we donned our waterproofs ready for battle to commence.
It has to be said that sometimes I go to the Nth degree when planning mates race activities, other times its more just about the idea and the details tend to sort them self out. This was one of those times. My beautiful assistant, Rich Baybutt, had kindly taped out an area on the floor and we all approached tentatively. After a few minutes of circling around, track standing and few explorative rammings I called order and explained the rules. We were playing Bellend: each time you’re knocked out, that is put your footdown, you had to leave the ‘arena’ immediately and you got a letter. Once we’d played enough rounds and you’d spelt B.E.L.L.E.N.D., you were out. Simple.
We were 17 riders strong plus spectators so with a 3, 2, 1, the arena suddenly felt VERY small. What followed was about 30 seconds of pure chaos with rider smashing in to rider, bike in to bike, elbows out, shoulders charged and several folk on the floor. After this initial carnage what was left was about 3 or 4 riders circling around each other trying to figure out some kind of tactics that might give them an advantage. Once they’d realised they hadn’t got a clue what to do it came down to a ramming-trackstand off- with the odd pull, many saves and lots of kamikaze krashes.
This pattern repeated itself each round with that initial period just being amazing: There were many domino take outs (especially by the two metre Penis who was clipped in on his single speed road bike); Lots of hanging on post footdown to make sure you took someone else with you; wild tail whips which soon became band for bike damaging potential; so many entanglements of things that should not be tangleable; constant howls of laughter, pain and despair; and the growing realisation that the fucking trials riders were winning. Team Splatshop, consisting of Tim and Chris Pearson with their sponsored rider, Joe Spivy, were left standing each round. Chris cleaned up on the first round with the three of them battling it out and leaving the brothers fiercely facing off.
The next round we went back to the school yard. Our two team captains, the Pearsons naturally, singled us out one by one leaving the weakest and least confident behind to face the shame. I won’t be naming names. What followed was a mano-a-mano contest; a faceoff; a battle to the death. Each captain picked their best warrior and sent them in, whoever was left standing remained in the ring to face the next member of the opposite team. The last team in the ring was declared the victor. In the first round of this Rich Baybutt earned his nickname; Slayer. Second in the ring for our team he destroyed the whole of Chris’ squad on his own, almost down to Chris himself. However, The Pearson just survived and we had to rely on our own team captain to take him out. Not before I’d had my own go at him though. I attempted Baybutt’s run up and ram technique which left me with a flat tyre and a bent rotor after the front wheel collision. The noise that emanated was enough to stop me in my tracks, cause a very brief silence which was followed by screams of hilarity.
Chris took the overall in the Summer Series with a total of 185 Gnar Points, I was second with 177, with Timmy taking 3rd, Baybutt storming to 4th and Martin Baker roundedout the Podium. Contested over the best 6 of 7 rounds, it was a hell of a lot of fun and we covered many disciplines some of which were featured on the site (hopefully I’ll get chance to write up the rest). There’s a brief overview included in the animation below.
Post rum we settled down to watch The Miserable Champion, Shaun Palmers DVD. Everyone really enjoyed it despite the mountain bike content being minimal. Peaty had some brilliant cameos in it basically saying what a fool Palmer was for turning down some of his big money contracts. But it showed what a true champion Napalm was at any sport he chose to turn his hand to despite being pissed and just how destructive addiction can be, to anything. Its really worth a watch if you can get hold of a copy and I think Palm could do with the cash from the sounds of it.
All in all another great night at a great venue… but my bike will never be the same again.