Monday, 28 February 2011

February Fun

The past couple of weeks has seen rain kaibosh our night rides, and dual slalom racing plans. But that's not stopped us from getting some cracking rides in. Last weekend we hit China' and then took a little trip up Mt Tam to see the snow. This weekend : first session of the year at Tamarancho and a shred at Skeggs. Tamarancho has been groomed since I last rode there. A new drop feature plus some trail work has added spice to an already outstanding place to ride. The usual technical challenges and frustrations (mainly on the climb) were soothed by some sweet sweet singletrack descending. Such a great place to ride and develop those technical kung fu skills.

A missed turn at Skeggs meant me and Chris did the Blueblossom trails twice. No bad thing given how much fun it is. I've started employing advice from Dave about stance, especially on cornering. Using a more aggressive body position and really leaning the bike over to rail the turns. I found it really coming together at Skeggs. Judging by how many people we dropped and overtook, I obviously gained some speed somewhere. Fun times and immensely satisfying to feel my riding progress. All to be put on ice soon though as I'll be in NYC for 8 weeks on a shoot..... The poor Nomad will be mothballed during one of the year's best race months. Ah well. I'll just have to keep getting her muddy as often as possible in the meantime. :o)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Look!... Look at this...

… This is "The Cyclisk." It's a massive tower constructed out of old bike bits and mounted on a concrete plinth in Santa Rosa in the name of urban art. Cracking. Having had another leg surgery to rid me of rusty leg pipes I decided to take it easy this weekend. But the call of the dirt was too strong. The thought of another missed weekend in the Nomad's company was too distressing. So, as a compromise, I suggested to Rich he blow the dust off his Gary Fisher 29er and we head over to Helen Putnam park for some mellow shredding.

HP is a fantastic place, and perfect for a low level session. The whole place is made up of little loops of sweeping, twisty singletrack with some relaxed climbing. A few steeper sections throw in a suprise every now and again, but for the most part it's just fun and fast with little chance of spillage or over-exertion. Having said that, a hastily scoffed panini and lengthy periods between rides got the better of Rich on one of the climbs and a little "trail omelette" was offered up to cook in the glorious Sonoma sunshine :oS

After checking out the Cyclisk, I took a little trip to Howard Park (next to Annadel state park.) Seemed like a waste not to, given I was in the 'hood an' all. A few loops around the lovely Howard Park singetracks, plus a dirt jump session with some local kids, and I was all done. Sun, dirt and a bit of culture. Good times ;o)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bish Bash Bosh

I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks. Had a couple of rogue leg pipes frazzled by the good doctor. So this weekend's shred session had been eagerly anticipated. Our last ride at China' saw the Nomad in bad shape : belligerent back brake and creaky suspension pivots to name a few ails. Some love was needed. So, whilst out of action myself, I took her into Big Swingin' Cycles and had a full tune up completed. I also added some subtle, but significant upgrades. The Nomad has strong all-mountain credentials, but anyone who's taken one up a steep techy climb know's it's leanings are more towards the fun end of gravity. So I decided to nudge it further towards it's downhill leanings and have the big ring swapped out for a dirty great bashguard with chain guide! The middle ring now has a few extra teeth and the rear derailleur is short caged. Beautiful. The whole drivetrain is much tighter, snappier and tucked out of harms way.

To try out the new setup me and Chris took a trip down to Skeggs Point. Always guaranteed to deliver a good day's riding, Skeggs was on top form. Conditions : perfect. The ground tackier than cake mix and dappled in glorious sunshine. We decided on a new route. We'd heard whisperings that the Blue Blossom trail is "the best trail at Skeggs." So we decided to forego our usual Fir to Resolution route and sample trails new. Our curiosity was rewarded with some epic, sweeping trails. Almost immediately, as you hit Sierra Morena towards Bear Gulch, you're on a roller coaster ride of sweeping dirt, jumps and the occasional rutted, rocky or steep section. All of this flies by in a blur of speed and grin - only stopping briefly to make sure we were on track for Blue Blossom.

Blue Blossom was more of the same. Over too soon, it seemed, we were soon back on the fairground ride as we hit Crossover trail and then Crosscut trail. At one point, I was actually drooling as we tore through the woods. Probably due to my new braces, but it seemed appropriate as a sign of sheer joy! After the fun of the new, it was time to hit familiar trails. Taking Salamander to South Leaf. By now we were well warmed up and hitting jumps with tail flicks, all the while riding as fast as we dare. My usual tricks/mistakes kept surfacing, but I was soon to correct with new found technique. Weighting the outside foot to gain traction in corners (instead of braking to scrub speed,) looking far down the trail and relaxing as much as possible we're all coming together nicely. A great confidence ride in fact, as I really felt the benefits of riding properly.

So that was that. Such a fun ride. But the climb out nearly killed us. I've never pushed my bike up Skegg's hills as much as I did today. Luckily Chris was in similar shape so neither us felt too shamed. We have a date with the hills of San Francsco on Tuesday. We've been hitting them to build up climbing strength. It's amazing how climbing 80 odd concrete blocks is feasible, but a few miles of steep dirt gets you out of the saddle and on your feet in minutes. Still, it won't stop us hitting Skeggs anytime soon. Especially as we've found the funfair route ;o)