The washing machine is groaning away under the weight of four days dirty riding kit as I am just back from riding a tour of the Cairngorms with 5 friends. Expertly led and fed by Phil of Scottish Mountain Bike Guides. This is easily the best riding I have ever done, proper mountains to make you feel like a tiny rider in a big country. Simply stunning, with breath-taking views round every corner. With 120 miles in four days my legs have been nicely worked and scratched at by the heather, my nerves tested by singletrack with steep drop offs to lochs below, my feet dipped in icy rivers (some ridden through, some waded) and my face blasted by wind, rain and sun.
I don't think words can do justice to the adventure, I'm not sure photos do either but there are some more here and here.
the ride: lovely. wall to wall sunshine, lambs and daffodils. first swifts of summer. rollercoaster road. bolton abbey easter bunny. dougie lampkin's dad. cadbury's creme eggs. peckett well (aka the only smooth road in west yorkshire) both ways. fishnchips. sun tan.
the numbers: 88 miles of riding. 11,364 feet of ascent.
Last blog: 28th December Last flickr post: 3rd January Last day off: not entirely sure...
Racing for fun this year whilst work and health take precedence. Lacking the usual markers of training months, rest weeks, M25 days and two-hour tests that always seemed too brief to tell any honest truths. Not missing them, though. 'Just riding' reveals that I've somehow kept enough base to climb as fast as I want to despite a winter of laziness, and that the drive to ride bigger, harder and faster still exists, despite numbing myself with volume over the past few years. Trails that make mind work as hard as legs, arms and back strong once more, shins bruised and scabby, knees shiver and quake. It's a progression of sorts but also a regression, because this is how it used to be: out in the sun with friends in tow, encouraged and pushed beyond previous limits, bravery and laughter, germolene and plasters.
RIDES a Surly Cross Bike, a borrowed fixie (badly) and a steel Jones. Yes singlespeed and with the truss fork since you ask.... LISTENS to Midge Ure 'May Your Good Lord' in her head when climbing hills. Has RACED slowly but with passion. WISHES she had the attitude of Marla Streb. THINKS Greg LeMond chasing down Laurent Fignon in 1989 was the best tour ending ever. LIKES pre-ride coffee at Marrocos. BEST TRAIL riding with Jeff Jones in Oregon. NEMESIS Porcupine Rim. LOVES the moments it comes together. HATES the hours that it doesn't. MISSES Marco Pantani.
LIVES a southerner in the north and loving it. WORKS freelance bike journo. RIDES Trek 69er, beloved Kona Unit, Kona Jake the Snake, rugged Kogswell, Omega Helix for the road. BEST TRAIL Nightride Cheek. FAVOURITE POST-RIDE FOOD crumpets, tea, cake, cake, cake..... FILM somewhat predictably Belleville Rendezvous SONG Subject to frequent change but often something from Lamb...
LIVES South London WORKS in branding stuff RIDES Orbea Orca and Orbea Aqua (yup, Orbeas ROCK) BEST TARMAC Col D'Aravis FAVOURITE POST-RIDE FOOD Always cake FILM Indochine - gloriously epic but tragic SONG Harper Valley PTA by Dolly Parton
LIVES in Wiltshire; only in her minds eye are there mountains.
WORKS freelance sustainability, writer, researcher & consultant, saving the world from itself.
RIDES Nukeproof Mega, On One ‘as heavy as the suspension bike darn it’ 456, slicked up Rocky Mountain Oxygen for scooting round the lanes.
BEST TRAIL is still waiting for me to ride it.
FAVOURITE POST RIDE FOOD tea and cake, always.
FILM ‘Breaking Away’, bikes and coming of age classic.
SONG Underworld’s ‘To Heal’ never fails to fix me.
LIVES sunny/windy Edinburgh WORKS doing hard sums on spreadsheets RIDES oh dear... Santa Cruz Juliana Superlight, pretty little Spot Singlespeed, Santa Cruz Juliana Cushtail, Cannondale CX9 and my trusty, very old, very beat up Specialized Hardrock commuter BEST TRAIL the extreme canal towpath near Trevelez and Stoory Brae FAVOURITE POST-RIDE FOOD a big mug of hot chocolate and really good gingerbread lathered in butter (proper Scottish style!) FILM Cinema Paradiso (it makes her cry every time) SONG Ca Plane Pour Moi (just for the memories of bad dancing at SSWC in Stockholm) WISHES the tune of Dad's Army would stop going round in her head every time she races
LIVES the hills of Lancashire. WORKS not since returning to Uni to be an art student. RIDES Surly Cross-Check, On-One Pompino, Endorphin VP-4 and a Voodoo Bokor - anything with pedals really. BEST TRAIL the tree and nettle lined, leg scratching trails through the woods at the end of my road. FAVOURITEPOST-RIDE FOOD malt loaf, toasted bagels or marmite on granary bread and mugs of tea. FILM 50 First Dates for when only cheesy will do, Fargo for something sinister and Le Grand Bleu for pure inspiration. SONG sorry but impossible for an i-tunes junky to pick just one.
LIVES sunny Clifton in Bristol. WORKS as a lecturer at UWE. RIDES Kona Hei Hei, Marshmallowed Commencal Supernormal (handmedown from Jenn), Trek singlespeed cross bike, Scott cross bike, On One singlespeed, Focus Cayo road bike. BEST TRAILsingletrack descent off Chinley Churn in the High Peak. FAVOURITE POST-RIDE FOODtea and sandwiches. FILM Truly, Madly, Deeply for wistful moments, or anything James Bond for Sunday evening escapism. SONG‘Where is the Love?’ by the Black Eyed Peas.