Archives: Words

Bikes On A Budget

It’s fair to say that when you like riding bikes you like to ride nice bikes. This usually means spending lots of money…

The cost of having such an expensive whip caught up with me so I was forced to make the tough decision and downgrade from my 224 Evo with a Cane Creek shock, Boxxer Team fork, Saint brakes, etc. Gutted!

So, the search was on for something 2nd hand that was fairly cheap but durable enough to stand up to the beating I would unleash upon it. Straight away I looked at frames which have less travel but still a relatively slack head angle, the popular Specialized Pitch sprung to mind. There’s a reason these bikes are so common: good angles; nice looks; light weight; and durable. But… you’re still looking at spending £400 for one in an okay condition. This doesn’t sound like much to some but I knew I could go cheaper still.

After searching on the numerous internet forums (*vomit*) and ebay I still couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. Until, Duncan Philpott discovered an almighty bargain on ebay at 1am on a Sunday morning, a Banshee Rune anodised black with a DHX Air 5.0 shock in mint condition for £275. I couldn’t say no!

Here it is, not the best quality picture but you get the idea:

A few weeks later and I’m well on the way to getting grips with how it handles. When deciding on the kind of bike I wanted I knew it had to have between 140 and 160mm of travel. The Rune has 150mm of travel, perfect! For me, the sensation of riding a bike isn’t about overall speed, it’s about being as close to crashing as possible whilst still maintaining control and pushing the limits of grip. The Orange was a nice bike to ride but I don’t yet have the balls or skill to ride it on the “edge”. Another reason for having a bike with less travel is to have something easier to pedal allowing me to access trails which I would otherwise have to be driven to (not that I would ever say no to a lift…).

So, am I enjoying my time on the Banshee?

Loam Explosion!

Hell yeah! However, there are still a few changes I would like to make to enhance my experience even more. First of all, the DHX Air shock isn’t great. I need to run it at quite a high pressure to prevent it from bottoming out quite so much, however, this reduces the amount of sag. Also, I often blow through the travel on my quite shagged pikes (if you’ve seen them you’ll know how bad they are) so this combination on the steeper stuff can make the head angle pretty terrifying. Solution: Get a coil shock and a better, longer fork! Once that is done I’m pretty sure this bike will fly down a hill with ease. And I cannot wait.

On a side note: I thought it would be a good idea (let me know if you think otherwise) if I posted a youtube clip of either the song I’m listening to when it comes to publishing an article, a song I like at the moment or just something funny at the end of my posts…
Can’t go wrong with a bit of Del Boy.

Bonjour!

Motivated by Snakes

Motivated by Snakes

I’ve been in Christchurch since March 10th, and New Zealand since December 18th, and my home, Sheffield feels like a long way away. I miss the Peak, I miss my mates, I miss Wharny, I miss all of the thisisheffield crew, I miss my family, I miss Bragazzi sandwiches, I miss the open moorland and the quirkiness of loam against shin, I miss getting sweaty in a nightclub watching my favourite DJ, I miss watching in awe my favourite bands, I miss riding to a mates house and chatting shit, I miss the hills and tram network of the city, I miss bluebells in the woods, I miss hating mainstream politics, I miss that awkward right hander on NEMBA, I miss wet summers and warm winters, I miss cramming into a van and emerging somewhere new, I miss the banter of riding on a bad day, I miss the banter of riding on a good day, I miss the sweat and leg-ache of pushing a DH bike uphill…..imisssheffield.co.uk.

But like someone mentioned to me once whilst I was lamenting about being back in Sheffield “How can you tell if a plane is full of Brits? You can still hear the whining after the engines have stopped!”. New Zealand is pretty special, especially for riders, epic backcountry singletrack or urban-esque Super D or council funded mountain bike parks. Life is full of distractions, too many at times, work, television, religion, food, film, news, fashion, culture all seek or so it seems to takes us somewhere else, somewhere more exciting, but a reality check is needed, and something I make a conscious effort in doing. Our culture dictates we have to wait for a future, save and earn, pray and heaven, plan and travel, vote and submit, work hard and holiday. Something is missing, our imaginations run dry and life becomes mundane, and we look for a way out, we miss experiences, we miss finding out our limits, our expectations and our boundaries. Our existence is what we make it, it will never be elsewhere, no matter how many films we watch we won’t be in them. We have our noses pushed against the windows of commerce and told ‘this is life’, but to be honest I don’t accept such thought and such practices, I want life, I don’t just want a slice of life, I want the whole fucking bakery.

I find it hard to stop myself missing Sheffield, but when I have access to such riding like the ‘Anaconda’ in such beautiful settings it makes my ‘missing‘ a whole lot easier….

Gee

Justin has left the building….

Justin has left the building….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering the joys of commuting back home from work….

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

Winter 11 is dead….

…Long live summer!

Col des Courtes

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

Searler on the leisurely approch

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

Myself approaching. Photog cred:Ross Hewitt

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

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

My ‘bomber’ belay at the transition

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

Searle

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

Why does looking up always look flat? Searle skiing

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

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

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

Good end to the season! Bike time now…

Jally pallez Franceh?

Although I fear writing about spring is very clichéd (note French thing on top of the ‘e’) I feel like I need too…. It seems to be every outdoor-orientated persons favourite season, the lights are getting nighter, the trails are drying up and the sun is coming out. Read on for a few words and a big ass picture dump….

Continue reading

A touch of nepotism, perhaps?

A touch of nepotism, perhaps?

I received a message from Joe today inviting me to join the This Is Sheffield team and all of a sudden my head filled with ideas (not necessarily good) of what I could write about that other people could find interesting.

Before we get to the interesting stuff I’ll just give a quick introduction of myself:

My name is Ruari Hallam and I am Gee’s little brother. We are very much alike so if you know him you’ll have some idea of what I’m like. However, I am younger, fresher faced, fitter, faster, better looking… the list goes on. He has read a lot of books about stuff I’ve never even contemplated and has used the phrase “I’ve forgotten more than you know” so he would consider himself wiser than me (I wouldn’t say 10 more years has made much difference though). Other than being Gee’s brother, I am an Engineering student at the University of Sheffield. Also, I like to ride my bouncy bike, when I can afford to run it, and my Ragley mmmbop ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop…
I like Hobnobs, Milk Chocolate Hobnobs and Dark Chocolate Hobnobs. I don’t believe in god, I don’t eat meat or drink alcohol. I can often be found throwing shapes at The Tuesday Club but my music taste covers anything from soul and funk to hardcore punk to electo beats. Is that enough?

Here’s a picture of me you may have seen before.

Here’s one that shows that I can not only turn right.

Right, onto some slightly more interesting content:

I’ve been studying at Sheff Uni since September ’08. The main thing that brought me here was the huge amount of riding that’d be available on my doorstep. In the Crookes area of Sheffield you are 5 minutes ride from Bolehills BMX track (which has been newly resurfaced and the pump track updated thanks to the hard work from Malco, Dave Camus and many, many more people), another 10 minutes and you can be riding some challenging singletrack along the Rivelin valley. Or, if you’ve got the energy, you can explore the numerous crags and valleys that lie beyond Stanage.

Just yesterday, I decided to explore around the Derwent valleys and came across Cut Gate Path, one of the best descents in the Peak district! There are some epic views as you follow the numerous dams to their source, I’m sure the ride was 30 minutes longer than it should have been due to me stopping to take pictures. I’m certain that throughout my life I will continue to be mesmerised by the Peak District and I will discover many more epic riding spots in the years to come. Sheffield will always be my home!

Howden Clough, there’s small dam that looks like it’d be nice to chill in on a hot day this summer. There’s also an nice look descent

At the summit of somewhere, still not sure where to be honest…

Chow for now.

Introducing….

Introducing….

Ed Thomsett…

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.

Looking good.

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! “

Peaty’s Steel City Downhill – Race Report, Images and Video
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