Sunday, 30 August 2009

Right, that's it.

When I get home tomorrow, I'm rebuilding myself a singlespeed.

Not fussy about which one of the three it is, it's just been too long.

That is all.


Friday, 28 August 2009

Some advice please

Fi writes:

Next weekend is the Kielder 100 - the UK's first 100 mile, one loop mtb race. I entered a long time ago and it seems to be right up my street.

But, I've lost my mojo. I'm tired and disheartened after the Trans Wales. I've been away from my home in Bristol all summer and the thought of driving all the way to Kielder on Friday (6hrs) is unappealing.

So, tell me, what shall I do? Shall I be Part Of It and sacrifice a few hours in a car for my sport, all shall I ignore it, find a hill, go running, paint the spare room and bake a cake?


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Transwales 09. Dung and Dusted.

Fi writes:

Back is a funny place to be. I haven't been at home, feet up on the sofa on a Sunday night, cup of tea in hand, for many many months. I am home.

Months of PhD research up north, weekends travelling the country visiting The Boy, family, riding bikes, carting kayaks and shifting kit up, down, this way, that way... then home last week, pack, Builth Wells, Trans Wales, mud, sunshine, coffee, cider, home. Bosh.

The washing is in, the post opened, 3 mince pies defrosted for tea because I had no food in and missed Sunday supermarket times. Now time to think.

This year's Trans Wales was Very Different. It was smaller, more intimate, less wet, less hard. It was, in fact, fairly tame. We were eased in with heaps of road and fire road and only at the back end of the week got hit by the Mid Wales bog-stick full on. But this time it was wiggly singletrack, giggling and spluttering across the moors, rideable and fun. I walked maybe 15 minutes of the whole week. Last year? 15 hours.

Last year it was home, dump kit, crawl into bed, sob, shiver, sleep. This year it was open a map, decide on a nice hill to walk up, navigate around said hill, return to Builth for lunch, drive home, wash kit, relax.

It was my fourth Trans Event. I have done 3 Trans Wales' and the Trans Rockies. That makes me unadventurous, so I probably won't do another one. But should you?

Do you love riding your bike and love the idea of munching big miles? Do you like the idea of being fed for a week and sitting around in a marquee surrounded by Welsh mountains chatting to fun folk? Do you like sleeping under canvass and waking up early to the smell of dew and the roar of a generator which you know has produced your morning coffee and porridge. If this is you and you want the challenge of riding for 7 days then go with it.

[Don't go if you want 7 days of singletrack, 7 days of uninterupted sunshine, a comfortable bed, a navigational challenge and a journey from one side of the country to another].

I return with another smile on my face from another great week, better organised and better supported than ever before (sponsored this time by Gore Bike Wear who were utterly fantastic). Riding-wise it wasn't my finest moment, with a summer of missed mad-fast Tuesday Night Rides denting my speed, but it was possibly the finest moment of team mate Mikey T, who overcame a year of injury to storm ahead and carry us onto the podium. The boy is Rapid.

I might not be back but if you haven't experienced Trans Wales, you should. It's a home grown endurance event which has attracted massive attention world wide. Go support it.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Trans Wales

Rumour has it the weather is going to be good for this year's Trans Wales.

Pah! No way. Last year was all knee-deep mud, wind that lifted your tent off the floor (while you were in it), horizontal rain and gritty chamois.

I'd done it before and went prepared in 2008. But THIS time there will be nothing making me miserable. I have waterproof EVERYTHING - shorts, tops, shoes, jackets. I have packed wellies, 2 waterproof coats (one a ski jacket), a down jacket, bin bags for manky kit. And all my clothes are in dry bags inside my kit bag. I mean come on, it's Wales!

I have allowed myself to sneak in a clothes line and some pegs though, just in case the sun comes out!

I am really excited. This afternoon I'll pick up my friend Matt Carr (Trek 69ers) and we'll drive to Builth Wells where we'll faff, register, faff some more, get really excited, go to the pub and then not sleep in preparation for the first of 7 hard days in the saddle.

It is a race, but fulfills my race criteria fully. I used to be a full on race head. Recently. I am very competitive and love pushing and pushing and riding hard. But I reached the point where races had to have a favourable FUN/PAIN ratio for me to be prepared to cart my self and my life to it for the weekend.

At the Trans Wales the pain is there, for sure (I was in bed for a week after last year's efforts) but the fun is bigger, stronger, more obnoxious and unwavering. There are so few points when you think 'why do I do this to myself?' that all is left is happy memories, tired legs and lots of new friends.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Something for the weekend

One full week back at work after two full weeks of Alpine downhills.

The Portes du Soleil was amazing, always is.
I fell in love with the mountains all over again.
Good times with good friends.
Banter with the same lifties who always remember us.
Mutzig and gin.
Blood, sweat and tears (no gears, I broke those).
I even managed to ride 50% of Champery WC track (beats the 20% from 2 years ago...).
Then back to reality and back to work, back to wishing life really was that simple.

But it's going to be sunny this weekend. That's something.

Have fun.

SJ. x

Thursday, 13 August 2009


Sometimes bike testing is hard work but this is the last ride of the day, the last of the test, nearly time to untether my own bikes again but this is still a job.

Winch up Jack Bridge. Tired. Bored. Meant to turn right for a quick hit but go left and longer, up into the low sun. So low it's setting and over the hill I end up unearthing kit to fix the pinch flat. One tube, no patches, and a few rocky miles to go.


I could head home down the road. It would be wiser.

I should.

I don't.

Cruising down the hill there's a barn owl hunting over the heather and a stoat flows across the tarmac ahead. Two neat black ears poke up from behind the wall: hare. The sun is going, going, gone in a burning disc of pink and a fast clear run at Whirlaw clears the gnadgery bit for the second time today.

(all the while thinking without thinking, don't flat don't flat don't flat, don't pay it too much or too little attention, don't flat don't flat don't flat)

Lights on in the houses, yellow without warmth. Sky turning blue again. Everyone's indoors and resting, dogs dads kids and a fat line of geese flies down the valley at eye height from the second turn of Rodwell, melting into the gloom. The bridges in the water are perfect balls of brick, the canal cats are out for mice and the smoke from the stoves of the narrow boats rises like it's on a string.

The locks are overflowing, Stubbings is noise and street light. Chip shop's shut and the key's in the door like it belongs. The thinking stopped some time ago. No flat.


Sunday, 2 August 2009

Last down of the day

last down of the day
Originally uploaded by Good Hank
Final descent of the day down into Hope in the Dark Peak. My first mountain bike ride in an absolute age and what a cracker it was. A fab day out with friends old and new, a right mish-mash of bikes from fully rigid and fixed to suspension and gears, a good cross section of ability and fitness, all brought together by a shared desire to get out in the sunshine, enjoy the scenery and eat cake.