Sunday, 25 November 2012

Cheers Then!

... or, Thanksgiving, as it's called over here. Four whole days with nothing planned beyond some awesome riding and pumpkin pie refueling. Sorted. As is now tradition, the long weekend was kicked off by getting up before sunrise on Thursday and meeting a few hundred other MTB enthusiasts at the Fairfax Java Hut for the annual Appetite Seminar ride. This year I feared I'd be on me tod as Chris couldn't make it and neither could Aaron (recently back after a lengthy summer's abstinence from the dirt.) However, Rosson was riding with his Zeitgeist crew so me and Sam tagged along. I was hoping for a mellow ride, but was actually quite thankful for the spirited pace set by the Zeit' boys. Note - by their standards, it was a mellow ride.... but their mellow is not far off my race pace so I had to push hard. I needed it though. As winter has crept in, my natural winter insulation has grown and made some of our usual rides tougher than they should be. A hard ride of 25 miles with 3500ft of climbing was just what I needed to keep the ever growing fatty sludge at bay.

The Turkey ride was a great start to the weekend. Muddy as hell, rocky and loose and loads of fun. On Friday me and Chris hit China for a quick loop. My legs were slightly cooked from the previous day and Chris was coming down with the lurg, but we layed down some decent shredding all the same. Conditions right now are epic. A steady mixture of alternating rain and sunshine has turned the local trail's dirt into beautiful loamey goodness.

The weekend was rounded off with a quick hangover clearing bez around the city on the Jackal and then a trip to Annadel to ride with Jaime. This weekend is the penultimate one before I go back to blighty for 3 weeks. I felt I made the most of it. The Annadel ride was quite outstanding. We sampled the new South Burma descent (flowey and groomed but not as much fun as the mental rocky goodness of the old Burma.) And I think I only hit my brakes 3 or 4 times on North Burma (highly unlikely but it felt that way...) What a great (almost) end to the year's riding!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Solstice Revisited

Marin's Solstice trail has somewhat plagued my riding conscience for the past couple of years. I've only ridden it once before, not long after I got the Nomad. I managed to fall and smash my ribs before we'd even hit the steep stuff, so the rest of the ride went downhill from there (though not in the "rad" way I'd anticipated.) So I limped away, tail tucked between my legs, having skulked down most of it on foot and feeling shamed that it had beaten me. Since that time, the previously illegal trails which lead to Solstice have been made bike legal and strava times have been popping up from the likes of Aaron, Chris and Dave. Time to get back out there. A rematch was long overdue. So this past weekend I met up with Dave and we climbed the (somewhat) newly created 680 trail so that I could face my demons.

In truth, the vision I had in my head compared to what Solstice is actually like was quite distorted. A couple of year's riding confidence (including some decent downhilling) helped to put the trail's steepest, techiest sections in perspective. Rooty, rocky and definitely challenging, a quick walkthrough scout confirmed that it was all totally doable, perhaps not at breakneck speed, but nothing to worry about. We did the loop twice. By the second lap my brakes were cooked. I could barely stop the bike. But we had a great run, and we even met Mountain Biking Marin's Celia Graterol, who joined us for the final descent. Good stuff. Solstice still has a couple of features I wanna master, but the rest of it is fun, a little sketchy but nice and steep. My perception has changed. Which pleases me. It's a good sign that my riding has progressed.