Twinkly Dave – Mud splattered bicycle and pizza enthusiast Growing old disgracefully

December 29, 2008

phew

Filed under: bikes,food/booze — dgpowell @ 9:22 pm

crikey, it doesn’t take long for christmas to batter you legs does it?!

just 3 days off the bike, shovelling food down my neck as often as possible and washing it down with copious amounts of booze left my legs aching like a big achey thing after today’s ride (done on the cross bike as the road bike is throwing a big sulk right now)

i won’t complain too much though as everyone else appears to be snotty or wheezy right now, and it was a cracking(if chilly and windy) day to be out int’ hills.

130.29 miles @ 157bpm (av HR). Proper aching pins now, with a funny walk to match…

In other news, i’ve bought myself a nice new tent to replace the had-it cheapo thing i bought off ebay a couple of years ago. it’s got ruddy big steel poles, so there shouldn’t be any repeats of the always-hilarious one wall touching the other in windy conditions scenario. yay.

December 22, 2008

I get urges

Filed under: bikes,lunacy - other peoples,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 12:00 pm

to ride different bikes all the time.
Usually I ride the road bike after work during the week, so come the weekend I’m bored of it. This leaves either scandal and the cross bike (oh, there’s the SC bullit too, but that’s languished behind the fridge for so long now i’d be willing to bet it’s actually broken down into it’s component elements and turned to coal or something) to be battered during the weekend.

Much of the time what I ride at the weekend is dictated by what’s working and what need fettling, rather than what I feel like riding, but yesterday everything bike shaped was in decent enough order to make it a hard decision.
I ended up on the cross bike for no reason other than it was looking all shiney and fast while leaning against the bannisers in the kitchen (which is as good a reason as any). I’d intended to ride over salter fell and experience some nice remote wilderness…OK so it’s not exactly the middle of the highlands, but it is exposed enough to have once needed a mountain rescue point (until mountain rescue points became more expensive than people’s lives and it was replaced with a helpful notice saying “go to the nearest town and ring for help”…nice) and standing up at the highest point you can do a 360 without seeing any signs of civilisation for miles in any direction.
If you can stand up against the constant wind, that is.
I got to slaidburn in just over and hour and twenty minutes, which suggested that there was a fair tailwind pushing me along (it’s just over 30 miles, with a few lumpy hillocks to ride over), in fact as i stopped to check how powerful it was i was nearly blown over. Discretion took the better part of valour and rather than get swept of the side of the exposed hills, mary poppins stylee, i nipped over to gisburn forest to do a couple of laps of the mtb trails there.

The trails were suprisingly quiet, i’m guesing the festive season for most people means barging their way round shops rather than riding bikes, and the cross bike seemed spot on for flying round the singletrack. It didn’t seem spot on for playing on the ever-growing DH course being built up there, so i didn’t stop to check out how much bigger all the drops, jumps and berms had got and concentrated on hammering up the fireoads and round the twisty bits instead. Ace fun.

Rather stupidly I had forgotten to eat while riding out so a quick pitstop after the first lap for a high 5 bar (29p from home bargains, i’m a chav) and energy gel perked me up enough to hammer round again…until i caught up a group of walkers.
There seems to be something about middle aged and older women that requires them to treat everything that happens around them as an excuse to panic and mentally thrash around like…well, like melodramatic old women really; despite riding at 3.4mph towards them (i checked) and politely asking if i could “just nip past on the left”, one women came to a complete halt, hunched up and put her hands over her head, one further ahead of her lept into a ditch with a squeal and one just screamed something unintelligible as she waved her arms around madly.
The male counterparts didn’t seem to need any such mentalness and just politely stepped out of the way with a smile and even the accompanying dogs seemed able to cope, wandering off the path as they were summoned.
As i rode off I heard one of the women start to complain, before being told, in no uncertain terms to “give over, for gods sake woman, you’d think a ruddy bomb had gone off” by one of the now rather bemused men. Took the words right out of my mouth that did!

Another lap finished I headed home the way I’d come, at several mph slower as the now headwind battered into me and finally crawled through the front door, having failed to eat anything else, five and a half hours after i set off. Luckily the fridge was well stocked with cornish pasties, so any calorie deficit was sorted in double quick time 🙂

December 19, 2008

OK maybe I can’t take a hint / the xmas post*

Filed under: bikes,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 10:47 am

Somehow I managed to forget about all the crap that had occurred on Tuesday’s ride by yesterday lunchtime, so I had another go at riding.
I spent the first hour and a half boiling (once again, the forecast rain was late in turning up so i was somewhat overdressed for the balmy double-figures temperatures), then it got silly windy as I got up on to the tops of a few hills, THEN the rain turned up and made everything cold and miserable and then it got dark too.
Climbing up over some of the more exposed fells (where, in summer, you can see right across from morecambe bay, over a big chunk of the lakes, some of the pennines and right across ingleborough, whernside and more of the yorkshire dales in one go, with pendle hill behind you) the combination of lashing rain, gusting strong winds and distinct lack of light made it mans weather. Mans-mans weather in fact, i was hauling myself up the road roaring at the conditions and snarling at anything that dared to try and slow me down.
Yeah, that’s not true, actually.
I was huddled down as low as i could go, whimpering slightly and feeling very, very small and exposed while trying not to think about what would happen should the bike suffer some sort of catastrophic failure when i was so far away from civilisation. Wuss.

My new altura gloves apparently push the limits of what can truely be classed as waterproof by not slowing the ingress of water at all, so by the time I started descending my hands were soaked through and painfully cold. In fact i ended up using the silly waterproof mitten things that came sewn into my gore waterproof jacket for the first time (I’d never used them in the past as I felt they were just too close to being like the mittens the “special” kid you knew in school had sewn into his duffel coat…). That helped keep some feeling in my fingers, but made braking a bit more interesting and reduced my ability to wipe my nose (and would have made giving drivers ‘the finger’ practically impossible…which would have been a shame as the altura gloves come with handy reflective finger tips for just such gestures), so my the time i hit the main roads again i was fairly snotty!

Thankfully the rain died off as the ride continued and, had the wind sodded off, it would have been quite a nice evening. The wind didn’t sod off of course, so i just mashed the pedals for a few more hours without ever getting anywhere while getting blow dried.

It’s nearly christmas, so i’ve dug out a nice old piccie (3 years old in fact) that sums up what the season should be all about:

xmas card

farting about in the snow 🙂
that was an awesome ride.

*i’m still in work next week, so this probably won’t be the last post before xmas, but on the off chance i actually do some work instead of tinternet surfing…bah humbug.

December 16, 2008

i can take a hint

Filed under: bikes,rubbish weather — dgpowell @ 10:20 pm

OK, so i took the afternoon off to go for a ride. The weathermen forecast rain, but i was up for it anyway – the ice that had started to outstay it’s welcome had gone so i could get up into the hills again. Woo.

Setting off I saw two magpies hopping about together and decided that it meant i would have good luck for the afternoon (i’m not in the slightest bit supersticious, but hey, you takes what you can gets). The rain was late in arriving so i set off in warmer temperatures than the previous few weeks had offered and span along nicely for an hour or so before hitting the climb up over the nick of pendle. I cruised up it in just about the same time as i was last summer, but with less gasping for breath, which was ace and as i dropped back down the other side of the hill into sabden a black cat wandered across my path. Obviously this meant more good luck.

Nope, it didn’t. On the next climb (a nice half mile long 1 in 6) I managed to pull my left foot right out of the pedal and nearly threw myself into a hedge. I doubted that the cleat could have worn out already so presumed that i’d just not got enough tension on for silly hauling-up-hills manouvres…i doubted it at that point in time, anyway.

The rain finally arrived after just under 3hrs of riding, so i pulled on my newly re-DWTed waterproof, hunkered down and got on with storming up some more hills. Sadly, the 1001 mile old cateye conputer decided that it’d had enough of me and promptly gave up working. Rubbish.

Scarily, on the big long descents down into wray i had to wind out the barrell adjuster on the rear brake…despite fitting brand new pads just last night, evidently there’s a fair bot of kit out there that isn’t compatible with wet weather!

Riding through lancaster at rush hour, in the dark and pissing rain wasn’t much fun, but mercifully didn’t take too long. I say mercifully as i was getting right royally fed up with dopey xmas shoppers wandering out into the road without bothering to look where they were going. I actually poughed straight into one womans bags of shopping as she lept out from behind a parked lorry to a chorus of “oohh sorry luv, didn’t see you there”. Gah! I’ve got somwhere in the region of 390 lumen blatting out onto the road in front of me, how can you not notice that you stupid cow! Anyway, she came off worse as her parcels of no-doubt-crap pressies took the brunt of the collision. Ha.

Back out of lancaster and onto the A6, still in the pisssing rain and it started geting harder and harder to keep up speed. I wailed in acknowledgement of the puncture i obvously had and set about hunting down a bus stop or similar shelter to sit in and fix it. I found one not far past lancaster uni and squatted in the dark, trying not to think about why everything around me stank of piss while i ran my finger round the inside of the tyre to find the offending thorn.

I popped a new tube in and fired it up to pressure using one of my recently purchased cheapo C02 cartridges. Ha, sorted in double quick time!
Nope.
About half a mile down the road and something was definately wrong. I stopped and span the back wheel. The tyre had somehow managed to pop off the rim and repuncture itself. Arse. there’s not even anything to shelter from the still pissing rain under now.

2nd Spare tube was fitted, 2nd gas canister was dumped into the tyre. With the realisation that any more rubber related failures would mean a long walk*, as well as the knowledge that, should anything else go wrong and involve me stopping for any period of time i’d get very cold very quickly in this weather, I decided to cut the ride short and head home.

As i set off i had to wind out the barrell adjuster again – the rear pads now visably worn down after only about 75 miles of riding. Maybe the 2 month old cleats were knackered afterall and the tension on the pedals was fine. Maybe stuff doesn’t last anymore.
The not-too-old chain seemed to agree with that sentiment and decided that it would protest about being used in the winter by crunching, grinding and generally feeling like crap all the way home. Boo.

Oh, and to make sure i didn’t change my mind and head back out in to the hills, mother nature made sure all the roads were flooded. Properly flooded, especially the cycle lanes. Flooded to the point where i had 2 choices: ride over god-knows-what under the water, with my feet disappearing at the bottom of every pedal turn or get flattened by the tit-head drivers who decided that they should still drive flat out on the speed limit, despite not being able to see as far, or stop as quickly while giving me all of about 3 inches of room as they passed. Grr.

So, trying to find some positives from todays ride while my overshoes dry slowly on the radiator (and make the house smell of wet dog): 1) the jacket kept the weather out brilliantly, water was still beading off it after over 3.5hrs of properly lashing down rain. 2) I rode over the hills at a speed not dissimilar to last summer’s and i can’t tell i’ve been for a ride (legs wise, the house full of sopping wet clothes kind of gives it away) 3) i can’t think of anything else…oh wait, yes i can – now i get to have some banana and mango torq recovery drink, which is hella-tasty. Woo.

*well, i had some instant-patch things, should another tube have popped, but it would have required sitting around fixing the tube, which is a rubbish thing to have to do mid ride. Oh and i would have had to try and get the tyre back up to around 90psi with a mini pump, which is also rubbish.

December 15, 2008

penmachno

Filed under: bikes — dgpowell @ 1:39 pm

Yeah, it was good that. The plan to check out how penmachno matched up to other trail centres went off without a hitch, I set off early (for me), met up with richpips in the car park there (after the ubiquitous wrong turn) and did a bit of mid-december shivering while getting kitted up.

Thankfully the trails start with a climb, so the shivering didn’t last long. Neither did the fireroad for that matter, we were swooping though the trees within a few minutes of the car park, warming up nicely as we railed round corners and brushed foliage hanging suprisingly close to shoulders. More fireroad arrived after a nice few minutes of swooping, skipping and thundering through the december gloom in the forest, which gave a chance to discuss the comparitive benefits of anything and everything to do with bikes, trail building, brake pads, support at races and the ben wyvis hotel.

Breath suitably caught, it was back to the singletrack again, wonderfully empty singletrack. The order of the day established itself early; rich would shoot off on his commencal, flowing over the rocks and drops that had sat patiently waiting for someone to skim over them all morning, i chased. He’d get away a bit on the descents, then we’d come back together on the climbs, I’d try to keep up as the trail sloped downwards again, travelling at what felt like “slightly too fast pace” given that i had no idea what was coming up, rich’d still get away. We’d both rip round the corners and splash puddles, tyres would pop as tread fought for battle over slate and grit. We’d push slightly too hard occasionally and “just survive”, with a grin as proof, then back to the fireroad for agreement on how good the still buzzing singletrack was. Nice.

Repeat that, then repeat again. Throw in some friendly locals and a full on winter-epic view or two of the surrounding mountains (with cunningly placed corners on the trail, obviously designed by someone with an evil sense of humour…”hey everyone, look at that vista…HA, caught you out there didn’t I? You missed that left turn didn’t you, HA, you should look where you’re riding…the views nice though, eh?” etc) and that’s, pretty much what penmachno had to offer us.

Suitably soaked through – thanks to some interesting drainage solutions mid way round the 2nd loop – we rolled back up to the cars and met an annoyingly toastie warm looking jason, whose day had not run as smoothly as it might of. He and son had still done enough to warrant singletrack-grins though, even missing out the fastest singletrack drop through the trees i’ve ridden in a long time and a cracking final descent. He recounted their tales of woe as I fought my way out of sopping kit and rich hit the overdrive on his car’s heating system to bring his feet back to life.

Sadly there’s no on-site café (or facilities generally) for coffee and cake stops – though I guess penmachno town (village? hamlet?) centre is only a mile or so down the road – but you can definitely get your fill of swoopy fun out on the hillside*

I’d enjoyed it much more than the altura trail up at whinlatter and it’s very different to places like llandegla, glentress etc – much less trail centre-y and more natural feeling. You’re not going to come whizzing round a corner at full pelt to suddenly find yourself faced with a 10ft drop at any point during the route and i was happy enough with my saddle up at xc height throughout, so if you’re after innerleithen style DHs or stainburn style super-technical trails penmachno doesn’t really deliver, but it is involving, fast, flowing and obviously grin-inducing. I liked it, anyway.

*sorry, that was appauling.

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