Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Horizons...

Time for a change, I've sort of slowed to a drip on Blogger, blog re-launched on Wordpress now instead.

Click here

Bye Bye,  Blogger!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Still here......

It's been a while.

7 months to be precise....

And summer has been and gone without as much as a picture or a comment from yours truly. I never made a decision to stop posting, give it up, and I certainly haven't done any less biking, I just haven't really made the effort to be brutally honest.

But, it's time I started making an effort again, and I'll have more time now that the annual dark to dark work days are once again with us, more time to think, plan and procrastinate about kit, routes and the far away promise of a summer.

Anyhoo, I've had a cracking biking year, possibly the best yet. We had an amazing week in the Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain with Ciclo Montana, meeting up with Adele and Rik and were fortunate enough that the other couple that were there were equally as great people - that's possibly the great legacy of mountain biking for me, I've met and made some fantastic people whom I'll always consider as friends.

We've also had the usual brilliant weekends in the lakes, the odd Munro or 2 and my absolute favourite event - the 'Ard Rock in swaledale. Spent some really good times riding with Aron and his cronies around Stirling, a wee impromptu trip to Torridon and some other great rides that I can't quite recall at the moment!.

Possibly the biggest change in my biking this year has been discovering some new local stuff, a long enough distance away to tag it onto my old rides up the river to mean that I can ride 60K from the house with very, very little of it being on the hard black stuff. It's a great ride for getting the miles in, lots of wildlife and even a couple of good pubs happy days.

Oh, and I bought a van. Well, not just any van, I bought.........   Vanny! - christened by Maria, and now firmly ensconced in the enjoyrider family. I'll post some pics soon, got a wee overnighter planned for a few weeks, so that'll give me the perfect opportunity to show y'all!.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Humble beginnings....

Robin and I met Aron at Comrie croft this morning, planning to do a couple of hours of a familiar loop up to Loch Turret, and then some man made trail fun at Comrie.

That was the plan anyway, but once we climbed up toward the reservoir, We decided that it was far, far too nice a day to not venture a bit higher into the hills. It's a fair old climb up to Turret, but s really nice one, in beautiful Perthshire countryside. 

There was a wee bit of hike a bike, but once up on the plateau, some really nice LR track, though there was some serious pockets of snow on occasion. Scotland - where else can you be traipsing through 2 foot of snow in short sleeves?!.

A really enjoyable, fast, fun descent from the summit down to the water again was great reward, then some gorgeous deciduous woodland, red squirrels and red kites to boot. Then coffee and an awfa' lump of carrot cake to finish. 

Great prep for next week in Spain!.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

You can't get any pudding, If you don't eat your meat...

Is the infamous battlecry from the Scotsman in Pink Floyds' 'The wall', and in terms of the weekend just past, never has a truer word been spoken. The 'meat' in question was definitely tough, 1600 metres of climbing and clambering over four Lakeland passes on the saturday, and another 900 metres on the sunday. Some brave souls never faultered from the task ahead, and enjoyed some of the best 'pudding' that the Lakes, and indeed the country, had to offer.

Some lesser mortals failed, and fell in battle, never reaching the sweet taste of success, instead, they were left to curse their lack of fortitude, and return north, tail between their legs, hungry and unfulfilled...

After an early morning alarm call and a couple of hours on the motorway south, 7 of us arrived at Borrowdale Youth Hostel in glorious, wall to wall sunshine. This was to be a bit of an epic, but as suggested above, some hadn't read the script. The four passes is a long, tough day, hence the early start. The first climb of the day, indeed the only one that is really bikeable at all - Honister pass - was dispatched reasonably quickly, leaving a big techy first descent ahead of us all the way down to Buttermere.

I'd like to ride this again, after a couple of other descents, as a lot more of it was rideable than perhaps we achieved, but that's what always happens on the first descent in the lakes, particularly an unfamiliar one, you need a bit of time to get your eye in.

There then followed the first hike a bike up and over to Black sail hut - the dissenters were beginning to murmur...







The descent down to Black sail hut was really good, and I make no apologies for having no images of the trail, as it was too good to stop!. Not long after, we arrived at Black sail hut, and a welcome bask in the sun, sarnies devoured..

Next hike a bike was up and over Black Sail pass to Wasdale head, was equally tough and the descent was a cracker, again - no pics!. The climb from there was epic, and the realisation that we would be tight for daylight was looming, but in such situations there is nothing else for it but to knuckle down and get on with it. The Four passes route offers no bail out options, there are no roads linking you to the end destination, once over Black sail, you're on your own. The image below shows how late it was getting when we summited Sty head....

The descent that followed was exceptional. From Sty head Tarn all the way down to Seathwaite in Borrowdale was truly amazing, with the exception of one river bed boulder field, the rocky ribbon was a joy, a fitting end to the day.

So late were we, I had to nip ahead and ask the local - The Langstrath Inn - If we could put dinner back an hour!. With full bellies, we retired for another days epic riding ahead...


 It was a nice enough pedal up the start of the Langstrath, and after a few river crossings back and forward from south to north banks and vice versa, we reached the bottom of the carry up Stake pass. This is where 6 became 3, which worked out well, as I don't think the climb ahead would have been particularly tastefull to some, as we were heading 250 metres above any of the previous days high point...

Wew had initially planned to descend Stake, and then back up the ghastly looking Rosset Ghyll, but instead opted to head over a footpath (Oops) which cut out the monster hike a bike up RG, as we reckoned we were short of time to get back north and home.

Another carry up from Sprinkling Tarn to the crest above and what followed is possibly the best piece of downhill I have experienced in the Lake District. It was the same descent as the last one on the previous day, but from over 800 feet above. Having ridden it the day before too meant we knew there was nothing we couldn't ride either - bonus!!.


I can't wait to do it all again.





Sunday, February 22, 2015

Early bird catches the worm....

Despite Robin's usual protestations regarding him rising from his chariot at an ungodly hour, he and I set off early on Saturday for the lakes, as we were not staying, instead just a down-and-up cross border raid, cherry picking some of Cumbria's finest trails.

Weather reports had us expecting intermittent rain, sleet and even the chance of lightning. How wrong they were - wall to wall sunshine and hardly a breath of wind until the last roll back to the car in Glenridding was the order of the day. Weather and scenery like this gives a real sense of privelege.

After the initial confusion of where we would actually turn our pedals that day, we set off through Glenridding and Patterdale to Hartsop, and the short climb up to Hayeswater reservoir. A wee bit of hike a bike up to the snowline on The Knott, and then it was back on the bikes for the cheeky footpath along to Satura crag. The views across to the Helvellyn massif were astounding, we had thought about climbing the big hill, but the amount of snow and ice visible across the valley vindicated our decision.

What a fantastic piece of trail, at one point Robin said that 'this is real mountain biking' and rather than wind him up as he would usually expect, I fully agreed. Once off of Satura, the trail along to Angle tarn was superb, a lovely flowing ribbon of singletrack with just enough rocky sections to keep you on your toes, and Angle tarn itself is a glorious spot. 

The descent which followed topped the whole wee loop off, down past Boredale Hause and finishing on a cracking, techy blast back down to the start of the Ullswater lakeside bridleway. Robin and I both agreed that the previous miles were amongst the best we had ever ridden in the Lake District, a mighty accolade.

After a sandwich and some cake, our own stuff as the seasonal cafe was still closed, we headed off along the ullswater bridleway as a simple out and back, as we've now done this a few times and always enjoy it's techy challenges. It's a busy bit of trail, as it's very popular with walkers, but there's room for everyone, even the grumpy ones.

A brilliant days riding, and one that will be repeated in the future I'm sure. Bravo.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cold = good.....

Most people don't really like the cold, and the mere mention of winter sets folk into a downward spiral. I think us amounting bikers - and probably most other folks that enjoy the outdoors - are a wee bit different. I enjoy all the seasons, each one has its pros and cons, but all of them have far more of the plus points.

Take the last few weeks for instance. It's been pretty uninspiring up until around mid January, bit of wet, lots of wind and dark, dark, dark. Then, all of a sudden a cold snap, and the place changes beyond all recognition, ignoring the BBC and their ridiculous reporting of the weather, as if we're into some sort of modern day ice age, this little cold front from the North has been very welcome.

Last week, I had 3 night rides on fairlie moor. In the depths of our hottest summers, I don't manage 3 night rides on fairlie moor... But when all of a sudden, trails that have been wet, marshy and generally quite slow become like lightning quick, dry and uber grippy, you better bet I'll be out more than usual. Indeed, I was gutted when I ventured up into the moor last week and found that the thaw was well and truly on. Until 2016.......

I've had a few really nice local-ish rides recently, including a really good day with some mates from the Glasgow club up in the Kilpatricks above Glasgow, that's an area I've been meaning to ride for a few years, but sort of taken for granted. I'll definitely be back there, some really nice, snaking singletrack and so close to home too.

Some really great days up on fairlie moor too, as ever. I used to think ayrshire was pretty shit for MTB, but it's only in the last few years that I've appreciated what we have here, not just in the shire, but within a very short drive or train journey, lots of folks down south would love the sheer volume of options we have.

And, after all that, we come to the point. Spring. Is. Nearly. Here. I spotted a huge patch of snowdrops and a few crocuses last week at St quivox kirk, that made me so happy, it really did. It's not really the seasons that I love per se, it's the transitions from each to the next, the promise of what is to come next, so to speak. But, the best part of this time of year, it's planning. I love to sit with maps and plan where I'm going to go in the year ahead, and this year is no different. A few Enduro races, lots of lakes and cairngorm weekends, a week in Spain with good friends and so, so much more, not to mention the first ever enduro here in ayrshire.

Roll on 2015 and all you bring for us, I'm in.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bit of building, bit of riding...

The festive period seems a long time ago now, I really enjoyed having a nice long extended break, but I'm glad it's finished to be honest. I quite like January, mainly because it's the time of year I start to think toward better weather, weekends biking with friends, and nice night rides up the moor without having to pack lights and waterproofs, not to mention the mass of washing when you get home.

Speaking of which, I've not been doing much nightriding this winter at all, probably less than any time in the last 5 years, but my commute is providing me with plenty of miles riding during the week, so I don't feel bad about not going out again when I get home. Also, in the last few months, maybe even longer, we've been aware of the need for some maintenance on our trails above the village of Fairlie, so  in between Christmas and new year, Craig and I spent a couple of days digging and hauling rocks in a section that has been getting more and more eroded over the last few years, and had turned into a bog. I think a mixture of the popularity of cycling, and strava have meant that there's more and more people riding the paths that used to be pretty much only ridden by ourselves and a few lads from west Kilbride. 

I've only really been out off-roading a few times over the last while, myself, Robin, Julie and Stuart had a nice afternoons ride up over the moor last week, even though the rest of Ayrshire basked in clear blue skies, the moor was a cold, dark, cloudy and damp place. Then today, in what was to be Klaus and Robins final pre-strathpuffer ride up the river trails, we were also joined for an early morning Sunday ride with Stuart, Julie and Gav.

It was purgatory. The wettest I've ever been on a ride. The loudest thunder and brightest lightning ever witnessed by thee, hailstones, sleet, monstrous headwinds, rivers where trails used to be.... All is was missing was a plague of locusts. 

But, and it's a good but, this is when you earn your karma points for summer dusty rides, ye can't get any puddin' if ye don't eat yer meat!.

Best of luck to my two mates in the 'puffer next week, looks like it might be a cold one, I'll be watching their progress on the SI website, curled up in front of the fire with Maria. Best of luck boys!.