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

August 17, 2009

Ragley impresses again

Filed under: bikes — dgpowell @ 11:47 am

Finished work early on Friday to give me enough time to ride over to Gisburn Forest to have another go on the new trails over there. My previous exploration of them, a couple of weeks ago with Wayne had been done on a big, heavy full suss bike that didn’t seem to fit with the newly created route at all, so I was eager to give them another go on a more suitable bike.

Riding out of the office into a heavy drizzle that wasn’t forecast by the weathermen and women of the BBC it dawned on me that I hadn’t checked the bike over properly since racing it at SITS – it was very clean, but I had no idea if any of the newly fitted cables had bedded in and needed readjusting, or whether the headset was still properly tensioned. Never mind, I thought as I wiped the fog off my glasses for the first time before getting to the end of the first road, it’ll be reet.
The route over to the forest was all on road and took a couple of hours, I did have to stop briefly to fettled the headset but didn’t seem to drag. Riding out in a pretty straight line took me past a lot of the hills I use when out on the road bike on big all day rides, without having to grovel over them meant I could enjoy the scenery (or what was visible of it through the low cloud and general rainy misery) and I arrived at the car park where the trails start soaked through but nicely relaxed after a crappy day at work.

More of the waymarkers on the new red route had been put up since my last visit and, after following a long standing section of bike trail in the opposite direction to what I was used to, I arrived at the first volunteer-built section of new singletrack without getting lost. I remembered from a sneak preview that it was seriously tight and twisty through the trees as I ducked off the fireroad into the dark, claustrophobia of the forest itself and immediately set about gliding the bike around as smoothly as I could with little daylight filtering through canopy and fogged up glasses reducing my view drastically. The trail contoured, climbed, briefly popped out into a bright, open section and threw up some cheeky little rocky sections as I built up speed, tyres growling over the hardpack surface and frame zinging from root to rock to root. As the narrow path dived back into the trees and the gloom I became totally immersed in the flow of the trail, constantly moving around the top tube, dipping shoulders, knees in, knees out, tuck yourself in to squeeze through the impossibly tight gap between trees as you force the front wheel down into the corner, exhale in relief as you skim past the wood and suck in the fresh, pine scented air. Still a blur of movement on the bike I hit a series of mini-bermed corners, snapping left and right with the frame singing over a carpet of roots and rough gravel, lulling me into speeding up before suddenly leaving me, still half blind in the darkness with rain coated glasses, at the top of a steeper, super slippery rock garden.
If I’d spotted it early enough I would have stopped and had a look at it before rolling down it, but I didn’t. My front wheel was dropping down before I realised it was there and as the back end slithered over the rough edges and despite lurching up onto the front wheel for what felt like an eternity I got to the bottom in one wide-eyed piece.

I’d caught and passed seven or eight other riders on that section, all just as focussed as I was and despite not working on riding fast as I dropped out of the treeline onto another fireroad all around me was utter silcence, I’d glided so far ahead I couldn’t even make out the sounds of bikes being thrown around the singletrack minutes back behind me. Fast without even trying, ace!

The trails further round the new red route that Wayne and I had ridden previously seemed to make much more sense this time – the exposed moorland crossing was engaging and didn’t seem to take anywhere near as long, partly because of the faster bike but also partly because the lack of suspension made the trails that bit more interesting and the first real downhill section was so smooth that no squidge at either end didn’t seem to be any sort of issue…in fact it would probably be just as nice on a BMX.

I dared myself to ride the ‘black’ graded section that includes the Monster Berms From Hell and must admit I did become acutely aware, as I rounded the first of the massive turns at a near horizontal angle to the ground, that I was on a lightweight xc bike and not a freeride rig. In fact I nearly convinced myself that I would be bucked off, over the suddenly-very-low-feeling bars as I slid the rear wheel round and up above my head (or so it felt, you’ll have to excuse the artistic licence here) across the sodden hardpack at the apex of the berm to leave me pointing almost vertically downwards facing a set of pretty deep braking ruts.
I needn’t have worried, the combination of shorter stem and wonderfully supple frame meant I was far enough back and the hits through the rear wheel were muted enough for me to roll through the section without death or destruction occurring. For me to roll through quite quickly in fact. Not DH speed by any means, but fast enough to get that ‘roller coaster’ feeling going a bit. In fact it was probably quick enough for a “Whoop” to have been acceptable – I didn’t utter one, but I felt like one would have been justified.

I picked up my speed to finish off the rest of the route as time seemed to have ticked by quite a lot, which seemed to please the bike as it positively skimmed over everything the trailbuilders put in front of it, and headed home along the same roads that I had cruised out along earlier to see the clouds finally break and some evening sun burst through.

Sunday this week meant play day, a chance to mess about up at Lee Quarry with Wayne, Jason and Mike with no heart rate monitor or bike computer measuring and analysing things, just some nice trails and a few hours to rag round them in.
We did rag round them, I did a few race-pace laps throughout the day just to see if I could…I’m presuming the whole race day experience contributes a bit to my performance as I definitely wasn’t going as fast as I was last time I raced there, but it was nice to open up the lungs a bit in between bouts of playing on the jumps and mincing down the black runs.
We nearly got some glamour shots of the Ragelys being washed at a bikini car wash taking place just down the road too, but the standard of bikini-car-washer was, shall we say a little sub par, for what we felt the bikes were worth…

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Jason rags his ragley down the rock garden

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Mike thunders down

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Wayne rips it up off the berm

2 Comments

  1. I didn’t realise you had your camera. You didn’t get any of the car wash Flabogram-Gran then?

    Comment by terrahawk — August 18, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  2. eww no

    in fact one glance as the chubbiest one bent over nearly made me crash into a wall on the other side of the road…
    …on purpose

    Comment by dgpowell — August 19, 2009 @ 1:57 pm

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