Thursday, 27 November 2014

The birthday continues...

So after a night of friends, beer, cow pie & cake in the George Inn, Keswick, Lucy needed a day off to go to work & recover on Wednesday, so Thursday morning came around & Lucy is starting work late this afternoon, so that left us time to go out & play this morning at a local farm that we have just found out about...

Go on, give us some cake!!

This was the ideal place for Lucy to put into practice all the things she had learnt on the KTM training day in Kendal on Tuesday... Gaz & I came along for a play too & of course to take the pics again!!

Lucy topped it all off with getting her front wheel airborne a few times, popping over an old oak beam, some fence posts & a few old tyres...


A very happy lady on her KTM!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Birthday Training Days on a KTM...

Lucy had a BIG birthday yesterday, one ending in a zero... so her parents decided that it would be good for her to have a few lessons in dirt bike riding!! I got to go along as moral support & for the piccies...

Neil, the owner of Triple D at Kendal gave us a great afternoon out at Holmescales Activity Centre, which is a place he uses to run try out days & general training sessions for the D3 racing team which he sponsors who seem to compete at all levels with Ben, (Lucy's favorite mechanic) & Neil competing in the Eddy's Extreme Events that run around the UK. He's a very capable rider to say the least!!

Lucy was really nervous as we drove down, still, when we got there she seemed to settle down a bit, especially after she fell off on the wet practice track, then Neil fell off on a wet hump & I rounded it all off falling off on the first ascent of a gravel & mud slope.

Ironically this seemed to settle us all down & Lucy's nerves started to disappear!

Neil on his 2014 250 EXC-F

Neil's 2014 KTM 250 EXC-F -  A very nice bike!!
Lots of info passed around

oooh the first descent!!

After an up of course!
We moved from the practice track to our first steep gradient, then Neil talked us through a fair few bits about bike stability, the basics of body position & using the throttle more effectively, we all had a go & Neil generally played around, clearly extremely happy on his bike, none of this put the side stand, find neutral lark, just cut the engine & lay the bike on the ground, talk to us, then lift it back up & head off to show another thing to us...

Neil's obvious skill & natural enthusiasm cut through any nerves & really helped Lucy to start to gain more confidence in her bike & herself.

From the initial practice area, we moved into a trials type area on the site, this was used for paintball shootouts as well so had lots of things like tyres, horse jumps, plane wrecks & an old Land Rover shell that people could hide behind, there were also a lot of tyre tracks from the quad bike tours that run here as well, these provided a good obstacle for us & also the ruts, which were pretty deep, often trapped the bike tyres & forced you into them which is the same as when we trail ride, so more good practice for us...

Here we also learnt the value of better tyres! I had some Midas tyres which are not very good for the lakes really, I think they must be better in mud or for just the road as they are extremely slippy on the various gravel & cobbles we have here in the Lakes, plus both Lucy's & my tyres are coming to the end of their life & this really showed up on this type of terrain & whilst trying out loads of the skills. Good tyres are essential for this playing stuff really!!

From here we moved out onto the fell side near to the M6, we followed Neil around the site, rolling down slopes, crossing the quad ruts, blatting up gravel sections & generally just riding around a bit. Neil took us to a larger flat area & taught us how to do a power turn whilst standing still, this is great fun, it needs a lot of confidence to trust yourself as you dump the clutch but is very satisfying to do right... more practice needed for me once my leg is strong enough to support the weight of the bike!!

After this we moved to the steeper ground, this was the main reason for Lucy wanting some training really, she has a mental block about steep descents & sometimes will just freeze at the top of a drop off, then when she does move, she's rigid & grabbing brakes all the time which often causes her to then fall off, 'It's like I'm fighting the bike all the time' is how she puts it... The easier rolling stuff is sometimes OK, but sometimes not, so Neil started her on small stuff & built it up, with lots of uphill runs so she was used to the slope & it's lumpy bits & hidden rocks, then slowly he introduced the downhill sections, at first Lucy fell of a few times until she got the hang of things, then she was off, playing with the brakes & rolling down the hillsides until she was comfortable to release the clutch & let the engine do it's part in the job... it was great to see although a little worrying when she piled into the ground near some rocks!!

One of the great things about this was that Neil was always there on hand whenever Lucy binned it or just needed a confidence boost, lots of good positive chat some more ideas into the pot & off she went again... excellent!!

The light was starting to fade so we headed down into the woods for the last part of the day, to put some of this practice to the test, the short steep ups, the longer loose descents all threw a different slant to things & you could see where Neil & the D3 team practiced stuff in here too, with some really steep slopes into tight turns etc, Neil took me round a few where I promptly binned the bike, buried it in a tree & generally rode like a muppet... although to be fair to myself, the old DR wasn't very helpful with this type of riding either, still if I was a better rider then the bike wouldn't matter as much I guess, hey ho, much more skills to learn to get any good at this stuff!!

mud, glorious mud...
Where's the ground gone??

An average descent in an Extreme Enduro event!
Lucy was totally knackered now, needing chocolate & the light was fading fast so we headed back to the vans to close up for the day. Neil was fitting new lights to his bike so he could train in the dark & was gonna hang around for a couple more hours, we had an appointment with a shower, change of clothes & a pub meal with a few friends in Keswick, so headed off...

Key learning points for us:
1. Stay flexible on the bike, bow legged & relaxed.
2. Plan ahead
3. Use 1st gear more on technical up & down hills, there is much more control
4. Steep descents, clutch in, use the brakes 80% front, 20% rear
5. Really steep descents need clutch & brake control but same brake ratio's
6. Better tyres needed!
7. Lucy has 'long legs' as Neil kept on saying all day ;-)

A great afternoon of biking fun... meeting more people, learning more good skills & above all for me personally seeing a reason to buy a newer bike & giving my motorcycling another direction... beginners enduro events coming up next??

For Lucy, more confidence, growing skills & more contacts, all of which you just can't put a price on, she is now gagging to get out & practice some more, then we have a Coast to Coast trip planned for the coming weekend, camping & all, which will be another new experience for her too... Bring it on!!

Leggy chick on a KTM!! ;-)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A visit to the Dales - errr not exactly!!

I spent Wednesday sorting the bike, then loading the van, setting up the route in the GPS, with a planned 6am start on Thursday to drive the 2.5 hours down to Settle to meet Geoff, how gutted was I when, as we unloaded the van I realised I'd left the bike key at home... Truly a muppet moment!!

Of course, Geoff took advantage of my daftness by taking the piss a fair bit & so he should!! We even tried & failed to hot wire the little ole DR, but stopped  when we realised there was the added problem of a locking fuel cap & an empty fuel tank!!

The drive down was beautiful too, the sunrise a lovely red glow, the summit of Ingleborough had a little hat of cloud on it & the day just had that feel of being a beautiful autumn day

So switch plans, head back to mine, collect the key & razz round the northern Lakes for the afternoon before Geoff had to head back home to head out on his weekly piss up with the lads he grew up with ...

We still managed a cool little ride, taking in a few new lanes for Geoff & having a nice chat with one of Penrith's finest who questioned Geoff about his KTM as a few have been nicked locally apparently... nice guy, just driving round the area keeping an eye out!!

We took in the Coach Road, (of course), a couple of lanes around Mealsgate, then off to Longlands, Mungrisdale & Little Mell Fell finishing up at Mosser Fell after a stop for tea & cake at the Filling Station Cafe in Keswick.

The lanes were a little wet & greasy, Geoff's KTM 450 was settling in, he was getting used to the way it rides & handles, albeit still finding the battery is a bit poor & requiring the use of the kick start rather than the electric start. This also has affected the lights so the last bit of the ride was a race back home before the light faded too quickly!! Some halogen bulbs & a bigger battery coming up I reckon...

So back home, it's dark, the bikes are all muddy but the tea pot is full of hot tea & the chocolate digestives are open... clean the bike later me thinks!!

YouTube bits
Mosser Fell

Monday, 17 November 2014

Greg Villalobos film - The Green Lane Relay - A superb story

Lucy & I went to see this the other night in Kendal at a film night organised by Clive Barber on behalf of the Cumbria TRF group...

An excellent film, well put together & it really shows the positive side of the community of trail riders here in the UK...

Greg Villalobos


Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Lakes - A perfect green laning day...

Mark came up for the weekend, so as Lucy was busy both days, I was free on the Sunday, we made plans to get out & play early Sunday morning... 

Several choices were available to us for the day... One of the Cumbria TRF guys, Clive Barber, had set up a film night on Saturday in Kendal at the Warehouse Cafe, primarily to show a film made by Greg Villalobos which showcased his trip from Newcastle upon Tyne to London, via the Lakes, the Dales, Lancashire, Wales, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Hants, Surrey, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire & finally back to his place in Newcastle... The whole trip was linked up with lots of TRF leaders showing Greg the trails in their areas to help him pass through. This film was his way of showing the goodwill involved as well as some beautiful trails that we have to play on in the UK... An amazing trip, a great film & I'm guessing a truly memorable 12 days of riding!! Can I have a go please???

Linked to the films was a ride out on the Sunday starting at Triple D in Kendal around 9.30am. Mark & I discussed our options & decided that time pressures for him overrode any wishes to meet new folk unfortunately & so we opted to ride out early from my place.

Thirlmere in the early sunshine & mist

It was like a mirror in most parts... fabulous start to the day!
We rode down past Keswick to Langdale, where we picked up the easy meandering trail through the valley, then headed over Hardknott Pass towards the Coniston slate mines for a play there, taking in a nice new link trail for us... Ace riding all the way through to the ferry over Windemere, also reversing the Grisedale route, which actually is more difficult this way round for me for some reason, must be all those big bloody cobbles bouncing my front wheel everywhere!! :-)

On the descent back to tarmac, we encountered the TRF guys & so pulled over to let them head past, all looking very capable on KTM's almost across the board! We'd already had nearly two hours of riding by this time though so we were happy enough...

A quick stop at Dan's Cafe for a bacon butty & a cuppa once off the ferry saw us fit to tackle another round of lanes, so we headed down several old favorites towards Kendal, the Midas tyres we both have fitted to our bikes at the moment showing their strengths in the mud yet becoming very twitchy on the wet & greasy limestone & cobbles that abound in the south & central Lakes.

Once down into Kendal, we bypassed it up & into Kentmere to tackle the Stile End trail, this turned out to be a bit hard for Mark on his old DR650, it's a big & heavy bike & he's not used to the really steep cobbled descents but with some stop/start techniques & a lot of sweat/eyes out on stalks moments he got down to Sadgill in one piece! Phew... hard place to pick up a bike there...

Cobbled hell for Mark!

Looking north towards Gatesgarth Pass
A quick fuel stop at Morrison's in Kendal saw us booting it north to catch the Coach Road before dark & to meet Lucy who had phoned to say she'd finished & was keen to get out... It was a pretty cold ride to the eastern start of the Coach Road, once there we saw a few 4x4's & a 3 bike trailer in the parking place so we were expecting to see people on the trail for once, that is a very rare sight indeed!!

The route heading west seems to be much easier than the when we head east for some reason, maybe because you can roll over a lot of the obstacles... as expected we saw a posh looking Landy & four bikes, two which were monkey bikes!! The other two bikes were two young lads around 16 ish with one on a trials bike... excellent!!

Evening glow on the Dodd's Ridge

Looking towards sunset on the Solway

En route back home now & we bumped into Lucy, but it was getting dark by now & neither her nor Mark are that keen on riding in the dark, so more tarmac took us back home for a jet spray session, plenty of hot tea & finally a beer to celebrate a beautiful day.. only thing missing really for me was Lucy's presence for the day!! ;-)

A truly stunning sunset as we arrived in our village was the icing on the cake... I do love the Lakes & it's a fabulous place to both live & ride... happy days!!

A few YouTube films for ya...
Coniston Slate Mines
Spigot Lane

The Coach Road, a busy day!!