Thursday, 22 December 2011

Las Vegas!*

*of the North (of England.)

Not much dirt to be ridden around where my folks live. But a diet of 9000 calories a day, consumed on the sofa watching tv, needs some sort of offsetting. So I took a ride down the prom to get the blood pumping. Riding into gale force winds keeps the heart rate up, and a few drops down concrete stairs adds a bit of fun. But I'm ready to climb aboard the Nomad and hit some Cali' dirt soon. Just need to plough through a few more cakes and chocolate bars first. Lay down some insulation ;o)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Fasties and Pasties! - The 4th Annual Christmas Ride

My 100th post! Woo hoo! I'm suprised I've managed to keep this going for this long. But as it turns out, writing this blog is quite good fun and a nice place to stick my pics. Plus some things are worth continuing with. Including the Annual Christmas Ride! This year was the 4th year we've done it. The line up changed a bit, and the venue was different. But we kept the traditions alive by getting in some quality blighty style riding, some (Thai) curry and plenty of cups of tea and biscuits.

This year we decided to hit the Forest of Dean trail centre. After a decent full english carb load and mug of tea we geared up and hit the M4 in convoy. I've been eagerly anticipating a ride here. From what I'd seen on the googletube the trails looked amazing. Plus I was excited to dust off my English Rose hardtail and take her for a spin.

The UK is getting spoilt with some amazing trail centres. National parks are embracing the business mountain bikers bring and providing epic trails and fantastic facilities. As awesome as northern Cali' is, we have to fend for ourselves and fight for space with hikers and the like. At places like the FoD you have miles of beautifully manicured trails, bike shops, showers (for you AND the bike) and somewhere warm to get a chip butty and a hot brew before the drive home. Lush!

We managed a couple of laps of the centre's XC routes. Mellow climbs intermingled with some swooping, flowey descents kept everyone grinning. The Rose is such a joy to ride. As much as I love the Nomad, it is a bit of a barge... Having something shorter and twitchier made for a nice change. After a few miles of rolling singletrack, we hit the final descent for a spirited run back to the car park. Full of burms, whoops and really satisfying jumps, the mud wasn't enough to stop us from shredding hard and finishing feeling knackered and happy. Great fun. As ever, I can't wait for next year's!

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Spangles has shied away from the dirt for much of this year. A big shame for those of us who like to shred with the fecker, and for his dust covered Stumpy. But he's not lost his love for bikes.... Or at least I think this is a bike. It has 2 wheels and handlebars... but no seat!?! Whatever it is, it looks bad ass and a LOT of dirty fun.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Soquel Demonstration Forest

We're well into December  now and the final ride of the year (in Cali' at least) came and went this weekend. Almost hard to believe another year of Northern California riding has come to a close. And what a great year it's been. I've had a few injuries, surgeries and a long stint on the east coast. Time away from the bike that simply fueled the fires of my passion for the dirt and made the riding all the more sweeter. We also got to experience Whistler for the first - and definitely not the last - time. And whilst the racing was sparse, what I managed to partake in was awesome. This year's Downieville was so epic I still get chills thinking about it.

This Sunday we took to trails new, and I took the Nomad back to it's spiritual home - Santa Cruz. The fellas at Big Swinging Cycles closed shop for the day and lead a caravan of bike laden vehicles down the coast to check out 'demo (Soquel demonstration forest.) I've heard of this popular place before and have always been curious about it. But I've neglected to check it out as it seems Santa Cruz is best ridden with people who already know where the gems are. So this was a great chance to ride some gnarly trails and get the maximum fun out the day with people who know the place well.

20 odd riders strong, we climbed road, then single track to the trailheads. We started on the Pig and Bacon trails. Steep, twisty and covered in leaves and debris from the recent storms. These trails were a challenge. Fun, but hard to really let go and shred as the front wheel kept washing out as it fought for grip on the trail shrapnel. After another climb, we hit more solid dirt - Ridge. Steep but tacky with some fantastic single track and rutted, rocky sections to test the mettle. I've been getting my mojo back recently after the ankle injury and this was a good reaffirmation that I can tackle the gnarlier stuff and enjoy it. Awesome!

After we climbed the fireroad once again to the trail heads, we hit our final descent - Braille. Known for it's steep, fast, burmed and super flowey singletrack, Braille is also littered with free ride features that invite the brave to sample. I chose to be cautious on the bigger drops and jumps. Not knowing exactly what the landing is like, or how far away it is, always freaks me somewhat. So I took it easy and vowed to come back and session the trail some more. But the large drops and rooty sections were a fantastic test of the Nomad's 6 inches and my own willingness to grin, hold on, and try to ease off the brakes.

Santa Cruz is known to have burlier, gnarlier and beefier trails by Marin standards. 'Demo is a prime example. I can't wait to go back and ride some more of it's delights. I bought a trail guide book on the way home. Turns out we barely scratched the surface.... Looks like I'll be taking the Nomad back there a few more times when I return from my England xmas trip :o)