Sunday, 27 March 2011

Happy Dias

Well, I managed to squeeze in one last blast before I feck off to NYC for a bit. And what a blast it was. It's been a while since I've ridden with Rosson and his buds. Almost long enough to forget just how strong and fast they are - but not quite. I knew the ride (wherever we went) would be brutal. So much so I almost thought about bailing. But I also knew it would be a huge challenge and extremely good fun. I wasn't disappointed (on both accounts.)

Meeting in Mill Valley the six of us hit the Railroad Grade trail up to the East Peak of Mt Tam. 2500 ft of elevation at (my) race pace was one hell of a warm up. I managed to keep out of the granny and the fellas in my sights. But I struggled on my Nomad against their superlite hardtails - and their legs forged from years of cat 1 racing. But the descents were well worth the comfort zone tugging climbs. Hitting first Coldsprings, a banked, sweeping trail with epic views of Muir Beach and the Pacific, Dias and ending with the Miwok trail. I've ridden these trails before, with Scott, Aaron and Spangles. I'd forgotten how much fun Miwok is, but to be honest I could barely enjoy it as much as I'd like. All the sugary Guup supplies I had couldn't take my focus away from my cramping legs. A great ride though. Definitely one to put hairs on your chest. Hopefully it will go some ways to offsetting the period of riding inactivity that is coming up. Next stop, NYC. Hopefully there'll be one or two posts as I aim to check out some east coast action.....

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Big Rock

Given where I work, it was about time I took a trip down Lucas Valley road to check out the scenery. Waking up to another deluge of english weather ruled out all our usual haunts. We didn't fancy a mud bath. A plan to hit Tam the next day was already in the works, so an alternative, weather friendly locale was needed. And so it was that me and Spangles decided to hit Big Rock. Probably one of the easiest to spot trailheads in Marin :o)

There are several trails and fireroads around Big Rock, but we decided to take the usual out and back route. Passing the rock itself, climbing 2000 feet to the tv towers (and a spectacular view) before doing the whole thing backwards at a much faster click. By the time we hit the top, the heavens opened and our plan to explore the previously inviting fireroads was nixed in favour of a spirited descent back to the warmth of the waiting Scooby'. The trail itself holds up amazingly well in the wet. The few rutted and boggy sections are broken up with some beautifully sweeping rocky singletrack. Once you're done with the cow gates and switchbacks, the trail opens up to an uninterrupted view of epic trail snaking back to Lucas Valley road. Here, you can really drop the hammers and let suspension deal with the unanticipated trail details obscured by dollops of rain sitting on foggy glasses. Awesome fun. Definitely somewhere to hit when a quick shred session is needed.

View through the goggles or post-ride beer?? You decide :o)

Sunday, 20 March 2011

"Just Fishing for Berms Dude!"

A quote so memorable it had to be the blog title :o) We've had a lot of English weather here recently. In fact, it's been a bit of English (ie rain and drizzle) mixed in with some pretty serious gale force winds and bullet like hail. Still, we've managed to dodge into the eye of such storms and catch some dirt (or at least mud) during the calmer moments. Another cracking 'rancho night ride and today, a blast up and down Mt Tam. The looming clouds threatened to drown our enthusiasm and an early shower left me sitting in what felt like a soggy nappy for the rest of the ride. But that, and two snapped derailleur cables, couldn't conspire to stop our grins from hurtling down some fine Marin trails. I head to NYC very soon. My time in the Nomad is limited before the break. Back at Aaron's he showed us his new friend, a Santa Cruz DJ Jackal. Such a fun piece of kit.....And there IS that jump park half an hour from the hotel in Manhattan..... ;o)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Lost Boys

Ok, so we're grown arse men, not boys... and we were never really "lost", we just spent a lot of the ride exploring and picking our way through unfamiliar trails. But we were in Santa Cruz and that's where one of my favorite movies of all time was set. Hence the unashamed use of the title :o)

After an absence of, pushing, 3 months, Spangles dusted off his S-Works Stumpy and hit the dirt with me and Chris. We decided to head for sunnier climbs (and descents) and hit Santa Cruz. The plan was to follow the same route I'd done on the skills clinic with Shaun before Christmas. Arriving at Twin Gates, we saddled up, me in all my nice new kit, and started with the mailboxes trail.

Mailboxes is so much fun. The recent rain left much of it quite muddy. Meaning some sections were more technically challenging than expected. But the fast, sweeping banked turns and bonus jumps and drops were all there for our entertainment. Mailboxes starts out calm enough, albiet fast, but soon descends into some awesome rocky, rooty downhill goodness. Get your breath back and it's an extremely challenging rock garden before the climb out back to the road. From here, we passed through the uni' campus and hit the Star Wars trail before finding our way back to Twin Gates.

Jase hit mechanical issues so retired. Me and Chris, not quite spent, hit Mailboxes again. The Nomad is completely at home here, and not just by name. Having warmed up on the first run I really felt good flow and a need for increased speed. Hitting the steep stuff again, I felt things get sketchy under the bike's rubber, but the sensation of flying down such amazing terrain was too good to bail out of, so I kept my head up, picked a line and gunned it. Woo Hoo! This is what proper mountain biking feels like!

Jase and Chris are getting well into their trials type urban shennanigans. The results out on the trail today were plain to see. On the way back we stopped off at a Specialized shop to sort Spangles' bike issues. They had a nice 26" chromoly steel P1 dirt jump bike. Perfect for urban mountain biking.... I'll be in NYC very soon. Lots of concrete. I wonder if they have a Specialized store near the hotel? ;o)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Half Inched

Aah look. There I am at the Lake Sonoma series. Wearing a shirt earned with blood, sweat and grinding gears at last year's Lemurian. My very first pair of MTB shorts, battered through countless incidents of my arse hitting dirt, lovingly stitched back together by my own fair, fumbling hands. Shoes, purchased the day of our first xmas ride. And a camel sack, so precious I saw fit to protect it from the elements with a bespoke cover. All this good stuff digitally recorded on my little blue and white Garmin friend (and Nick's camera..) And lost the very same day to some thieving feckers who thought a bag full of sweaty, muddy clothing was worth smashing a Scooby's window for. Feck all for them, the cost of new glass for me, and the loss of some well loved kit. :o(

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Lake Sonoma Series I

This past Friday I was all set to go and see our new movie, Rango with my fellow ILM'ers and then toast our success with a few drinks too many down the pub. The weather forecast for the weekend was dire so I could afford the hangover and maybe do a quick spin around Tamarancho later the following afternoon. Well, that plan went out the window as soon as I saw a cheeky post on Facetube by the fellas at Bike Monkey. The Lake Sonoma Series race 1 (of 4) was to be held the very next day! The chance to strap on a bib and hit new dirt, all in the name of competitive fun was too strong of a draw. So my Friday eve saw me hunched over the Nomad scrubbing off Tuesday night's mud whilst my kit sat spinning in the laundrette.

The Sonoma Series takes place over 3 laps (for the Sport cat) with each lap being 5 miles. Arriving early Saturday am, I met up with Aaron who was there with his high school crew. The first race of the season was upon us! I certainly hadn't trained for it, but felt 15 miles would be totally fine given all the riding I've squeezed in recently. Mainly, I just wanted to have a fun ride around pastures new and enjoy the ambience these events generate. The Bike Monkey fellas always put on a good spread and this race was no exception. At around 10:00am, warmed up and gu'd up, we we're off!

Climbing the initial fireroad ascent, we quickly veered left into Lake Sonoma's signature singletrack. Sweeping, twisty-turny and banked - it's possible to really drop the hammers and fly around this place. Once the throng thinned out a bit, I started to get into the riding and found some good flow. The weather was perfect, but the previous week's rain had left sections of the trail muddy. By lap 2 we were getting bogged down in ruts and hike-a-biking up some of the climbs. Our knobbly tyres no match for the thick goop. Still, it didn't hamper the fun too much. The technical sections were a lot of fun. Recent trips to Tamarancho helped out a lot here. But the main grin was the singletrack.... so flowey and lovely. I can't wait to hit the other races in the series and shred some here when it's dry and dusty.

Doing the same circuit 3 times was a great experience. You learn where you can ease off and drop some Gu, and then when to turn it back up even if the heart is going like the clappers. I kept a decent, and for the most part, race pace. By the end I started to feel the flutterings of cramp in my quads. I probably could've pushed a bit harder, but not much. Overall I came 4th in my category. I'm really chuffed with that. It shows good progress from last year's racing and potential for a good season. But mostly, I'm just pleased with my riding. Always room for improvement, but I had a consistent pace and found some good flow. That'll do me for now :o)

I was going to post the race circuit GPS data, but alas... my poor Garmin friend (along with all my muddy, sweaty bike crap) was stolen from my car.... So I'll be styling all new kit at the next ride, looking like a proper noob.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Tuesday Night Ride

Look at that face! That's the green glowing grin of a man riding by torchlight for the first time. We've been scheduling it for weeks to no avail. But finally the weather was decent enough to allow a cheeky evening session at Tamarancho. A light sleet, plunging temperatures and a snapped chain weren't enough to stop me, Chris and (new riding bud) Zach from enjoying some nocturnal shredding. It's always hugely satisfying to ride the Nomad on a school night, and last night was no exception. Awesome fun!