Friday, 27 February 2015

Round the world on a bike???

Lucy & I have a few plans about a 'BIG' trip at some point in the future, they revolve around getting hold of a couple of bikes, load up with some minimal gear & head off in a direction, with no real aim as to where we end up... but have lots of fun, see lots of the world & generally broaden our horizons as much as we can!

Because of this idea, we both keep looking for info, routes, blogs etc & generally keeping one eye on possibilities, hopefully we'll have a few friends along for some of the ride & most definitely I suspect we'll meet lots of new friends as we travel

In the spirit of this searching, Lucy has come across a film that is touring around the UK at the moment, so on Saturday, she is off to see this film at Rheghed near Penrith...

The fact that this is an Indian team, with a woman as a rider is pretty cool too, it shows how far certain areas of a culture have shifted from when I was a kid growing up in an Indian dominated community. Ladakh is a truly beautiful part of the world, with some fantastic ancient traditions & a culture that is fascinating. Excellent place to go visit but then leave it as you find it...

Also by the same guy, Gaurav Jani, is another film, Riding Solo to the Top of the World

I think it was his first & a solo trip into Ladakh with some harsh conditions & a steep learning curve it seems... but what a beautiful part of the world, seriously on my list of places to go as is the Karakoram Highway & the Wakhan Corridor

Both of these are nice films with some great imagery, some reality & of course they are on Royal Enfields too, not the easier bike to ride off road!!

Well done guys, keep them coming. Enjoy...

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gaz's Aughtertree Trial Day, Cumbria...

This is what Gaz found as he rode the trial that I had planned to do this last weekend in the Lakes, weather sounds atrocious!!

Aughtertree trial sponsored by MHB Motorcycles...
What a day yesterday was, phew. I arrived early with only a couple of cars/trailers parked up in the layby. This turned out to be a good plan as soon enough there were more cars than car park & a bit of parking mayhem ensued as folks got sorted. After  signing-On which was straight forward I sat in the car, sheltering from the weather which was cold as, and pretty windy.
At around 10.30 a bunch of riders headed off to the 1st section. So off I went after them. I'd put all my kit on (6 layers inc body armour) and was feelin pretty cold as I entered the section. Pretty easy, rolling twisty turf route through a pair of bomb hole craters. Blue & white flags only, same route for all, score 0. Encouraging.
Next was a transfer over the fells to find section two. These tranfers turned out to be an unexpected pleasure of the day. Time to relax (sort off) and think and just ride. At times the transfers themselves were challenging with lots of off-camber hillside crossings, rock steps and the inevitable stream crossings. All of which became more difficult as the day went on.
Section two caused a few problems. I couldnt work out the flags. It looked to me like the expert route (marked red/yellow) was easier than the easy route (blue white). But what do I know. I gave it a go anyhow. Dropped in, over some cobles, small step, tight turn, and now faced a big rock step up to a turf ledge, epic fail. Turns out that the sections had been marked out incorrectly for the whole day. Red/yellow normally indicating the expert route now actually became the easy novice route. A bit of heated discussion took place between organisers whilst everyone else stood around confused. Either way they gave me a second go at the section now following the easy route. I stuffed it up anyhow. It was a good interesting section, I just couldn't manage to get out the final gate, 5.
Next section was easy but fun so got a 0. But there was a cock up with the flags again, this time with their placement. Some moving around of flags and general chaos ensued. About now I was starting to get a bit pee'd off. All I wanted to do was blend into the background and get round without making a tit of myself. In hindsight I think that setting off as first of the novices made a me the test mule. I felt like the centre of attention and it rattled me a bit.
The next section was cool but was followed by what was to be my nemises for the day. It was a long section ( two sections together to make one big one). A rocky gully the that had me panting and paddling my way to the end. I was later to boycott this section for the last two rounds as it just took too much out of me.
The rest of the sections were cool and do-able but I made a meal of them. The reason why became more obvious as the day went on. The mud and loss of traction got me. Think about it, there you are sat at home, you loook out the window, ooo weather's nice, lets ride/practice. When we've ridden in mud its been just that mud and we've done ok. At the trial the combinatin of mud and therefore muddy/slimy rocks and stones was a new game. I managed most ok but it sure wasn't pretty.
On the out-lying sections I'd stopped at the end of each section to mark the next man through. I always thought this was trials etiquette but not everyone complys. Which meant that I was travelling slower than most others so I'm afraid I gave up too, as it became clear that I would not complete the four laps of the course if I didnt get a riggle on.
On the lea side of the fells it was pretty sheltered from the wind and I was getting overheated, reminding myself to get rid off a couple of layers as I got back to the car. As I crested the hillside for the return leg I got the full wrath of the Calbeck fells in February. Driving wind & rain. The kind that slaps you in the face and makes you unable to ride in a straight line. By the time I got back to the car I was freezing again and eager to keep moving, so just got on with the second lap. This was much more fun as now without the hassle of route-finding I could just get on with riding.
I re-fueled at the end of the second lap as the thought of getting stuck out on the fell didn't bear thinking about. The players are spread out by this time and I was aware that I was nearing the back of the fleat. I stopped to help a guy who's bike and exhaust had parted company. Whilst I was glad I could help I was aware that the clock was still running. I completed the last lap on my own and i think i was the last out on the course, I marked my own scores as I went, just about making the last section as the task of packing up had begun.
I'm sure to be dead last on the score card, but I did finish and I learnt a lot. Not least that rocks and mud in combination make for difficult riding. My bike served me well and never missed a beat all day long, It took a pasting but survived as did I.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Loughborough Trials Club: Riley's Railway

Another great day out on a bike, learning loads & finding out just how far I am away from being a good trials rider too!

Gaz & I had planned to do the Aughtertree trial together with the CCMCC, but family stuff called me down to the Midlands, so I had to look elsewhere.

In my searching for somewhere to practice/ride whilst I'm down south I came across the Loughborough Trial at Rileys Railway and after a quick call to Richard, the organiser, I was ready for some playtime in the mud.

Before the trial with my first comp number...

Tilton on the Hill is the nearest village, then it's a couple of small lanes through some farmland to the old railway line. Around 30 people turned up, including some lovely classic twin shocks & a few teenagers on their more modern machines. A nice varied group with some beautiful looking bikes to play on...

Oh what a mudfest it was too... there were 10 sections, with 4 circuits, they used the old abandoned railway line as a foundation & all of the sections went up, down, around & across the sides of the embankment. Added to the difficulty of the natural obstacles was all the vehicles of the competitors parked along the top, by the end of the day, loads of these were sprayed with some good splodges of mud!!

I failed abysmally at the 1st section, ending up completely missing out a big part of it, the next three were cleared, which boosted my confidence a bit, then I found some more technical sections with tight turns in deep mud, this requires a totally different set of balancing skills, one I don't possess as yet, so I fluffed all of these with 5's on each one, then I stalled a couple of times to add insult to injury!!

Whilst waiting for each section, I got talking to a few of the folk there, teaming up with a lad called Nick on his Gas Gas, we were pretty similar in levels, some I'd clear & he'd fluff & vice a versa... it was good to share the whole thing with someone else too & listen to different perspectives about each section.

By 1pm it had started to rain, it got steadily heavier as the afternoon wore on, the mud was super sticky on the bike but really slippy when trying to ride it!

The scoring works as ride the round clear = C, 1 foot dabbing the ground = 1, 2 dabs = 2, anything after this is a 5, as is stalling, I have no idea what my score was but it was a great laugh & I'll definitely be trying some more in other areas...

Now I just have to clean the bike & try to sort out the ongoing problem with my van's electrics before I can play again...

And after the mudfest!!

Great stuff...

Oh & we got the results this morning, classed as 'Retired', I thought I'd just missed out one of the sections, because I had decided not to attempt it as I knew it was too hard for me, but turns out I only went round 3 times!!... Muppet... ;-)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Trials Riding Stuff... Skills & a bit of fun...

Looking around on the web for some techniques stuff, I found loads of films, but the funniest & most informative seems to be the Auzzie films by the Western District Trials Club.

The narrator has a great sense of humour & there are loads of good silly bits in the each film to take any kind of seriousness out of the stuff their teaching... ;-)

I've learnt loads form watching these films, although I've only just got to the stage where I can pop a wheelie on the wee little beastie, so long way to go yet!!

Anyhoo, I thought I'd pop the links on here for anybody else to have a mooch at... I've also put some good entertainment clips from YouTube too, so we can easily while away a few hours on a wet cold night in!!

Spotting for another trials rider
Setting up your bike
Auzzie pre comp mechanical inspection
How to balance your bike
Body position
Full lock & pivot turns
How to wheelie

Intermediate stuff...
Steep descents & drop offs
Steep climbs
Using the bashplate
Double blips & zaps
Slow sit down Wheelies - Graham Jarvis styly...
SLOWMOTION moto trial - clearing big obstacles, all slowed down to show the technique

Advanced stuff...
Hopping for traction
Flip turns
Jumping gaps
Floater turns

Fun stuff...

Dougie Lampkin did an ace film of riding through a giant igloo, check this out... here & a fun one through the Red Bull factory

Toni Boui on his 4 stroke Repsol Montessa... nice short good film... here & some rock hopping on Facebook.

Portland Boys - some lads who live in Portland, who are pretty good riders & they make some cool little vids including the out takes at the end!!

The Portland Freeride Trials Project 2014
The Best of Sherco, Ricky Wiggins
Gas Gas TXT 280
Moto Trial Freestyle with Darren Brice
Fun Day Sunday Trials

Some Cumbrian Trials Events...
Bassenthwaite Club -
The Robin Hood Trial - very cool music too, Ben Howard...

Cumberland Country Motorcycle Club -
Blaze Fell
Greenhead - get up that river!

So that's a few for you, hope you like 'em... here's some pics too! ;-)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentines Day Ride Out...

What a weekend here in the Lakes... blue skies, no wind, the Northern Trial, oh & my first valentines day with Lucy... ;-)

Lucy wanted to get her bike out, so after sorting the flat battery on the KTM, we did a loop around North Lakes to take in the sun, some grand views & our old favourite lanes... We did try to check out a new lane that has been seriously left to nature, but were defeated by the brambles & the trees, sawing session coming up I feel!!

The pics don't do the day justice at all, but the lanes were really good fun, all the more so as we hadn't ridden for awhile.

A very knackered gate on the Blindcrake Lane

Deep mud, overgrow trees at Blindcrake lane...

A spectacular Lakes day

Snowdrops basking in the sunshine

Trail bike at play, where they should be!!
 En route we started to encounter loads of old classic cars, so as one had a broken half shaft & a lass from Skipton sat in it, we stopped for a chat... turns out her partner had headed back to Wigton to collect their trailer as they had to retire. The next section was at Sandale, with some still going through Whinlatter, so we headed to Whinlatter forest to see what we could see.

Northern Trial Competitor

Brilliant light in Whinlatter Forest

Another Northern Trial competitor...
Most of the people competing in the trial were couples, although the odd car had two guys in it, we unfortunately missed most of the bikes except for an old Armstrong 500 with a side car, we helped them get through a gateway as they had had to retire due to lack of fuel... the side car even had no seat, just a metal floor pan, she was hard that lass!!

Armstrong 500 with sidecar... bugger that for a laugh! 

After Whinlatter we stopped off in Keswick for a romantic lunch of a sandwich & a bag of Walkers crisps on the garage forecourt before heading off to the Coach Road for a razz along there... We found a stranded Landy with a young Cumbrian couple about a 1/3 of the way along, they'd tried to go round a snow patch but had gotten properly stuck, a phone was in progress to get some help!!

As there was nowt we could do to help, we carried on & the snow got deeper & the patches got longer, with a couple of points where both Lucy & I had to 'bounce' the back wheel to get any traction forward. Great views & a first for Lucy, riding in snow!!

Coach Road fun

Oops, got that stuck then!

Lucy gets through the soft deep wet snow!!
 From the end of the Coach Road, it was a blast towards Sandale to see if we could watch the last few of the Northern Trial guys going through, as we got there, the last but one car was being pulled out by a 4x4 & the very last car had a very bouncy blast up through the mud & the ruts... cheered on by the spectators as they cleared the lane!! Ace fun to watch...

From here, it was home with a glowing red sky as the backdrop...

Another great day out in the Lakes & on bikes, but it was definitely time for some nice Cumbrian Rump Steak from a local farm!! mmm...

Monday, 2 February 2015

Illegal Off Road Riding: White Pike & the Walna Scar Road

The conditions in the Lakes are truly beautiful at the moment, snow on all the high fells, plenty of pictures of people having fun skiing, climbing, walking & of course playing on motorbikes.


Blencathra Summit
Unfortunately, there also seems to be a few arseholes out there who think it is OK to blat across the fells tearing up the hillsides nowhere near a legal lane, doing lots of damage at the same time.

White Pike, near Coniston
A friend of mine was out near White Pike in the South Lakes yesterday and sent me this today...

'Sadly I saw a group of seven trail riders cut up the hill near Coniston (White Pike) yesterday. They left the main track and made a right old mess of a hillside for well over a mile and frightened a lot of sheep in the process. Didn't look good.

Sorry to be the harbinger of bad news, didn't get a pic sadly. Initially they came up below us on the track (we were heading up to the summit of White Maiden). It was only after we heard them on the ridge and saw them shoot along it to join up with the Walna Scar road that we saw the mess they had made of a hillside. They didn't even try to follow each other but rather made their own scar up the steep hillside. I'm certainly not against trail bikes - each to their own - but it didn't endear me to these particular guys'

So not only did they tear up  the open fell land, they then rode a sensitive lane that is actually closed to all motor traffic at the moment.

Walna Scar Road, Closed to all motor traffic
If this is you or you know who it is, tell them to either sell their bikes or get a conscience, treat the Lakes with respect & follow the rules that pertain to all of us or don't come here to play!

And if you live here, you should know better!

Short sighted & crap behaviour hat impacts on everybody else in the long run.

For information about the legal lanes in Cumbria, go to the Hierachy of Trails pages on the Cumbria County Council website.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Trials playtime...

Since I bought the Sherco I've not really been in a fit state to ride it, (small matter of some health issues now I'm getting older I guess it'll become the norm... bugger!!), anyhoo, the last couple of days I've managed to get out in the garden & have a bit of fun with a neighbour, Tony & Gaz on his Gas Gas.

So over the last couple of weeks as the weather has allowed, I've been putting together some bits of old rubble, some cut down trees & plenty of scavenged bits of building flotsam to make up some obstacles in my allotment... the result is a little playground right on my doorstep which is just right for the trials bikes!!

Tony hasn't ridden a bike for a lot of years, but he used to dispatch in Germany so has plenty of experience... a bit shaky at first he soon got the hang of the basics & was off around the place having great fun... fitness became the issue rather than the riding! ;-)

For me, I'm happy just to be back on a bike, I was a little scared of the Sherco, it's got no weight & a lot of power... it bit me a bit today as I was trying to pop the front wheel over a log, too much throttle & it was up in the air with me hanging on for grim death!! I felt that one I must admit, but for the most part it was just a pleasure, it's really light to steer, will stop when you want on top of a bank or before an obstacle & then will burst forward in a (usually) controlled way... I can't wait to enter it into some comps to see how I get on...

The biggest obstacle at the moment is a pile of slabs, which for me is too high at the mo, but Gaz, who has a long background in trials from some years ago, managed to 'style' his way over them at the first attempt... it took three more for me to get this picture!!

So I have a few more ideas for obstacles, some old car tyres & maybe a tractor tyre too, but first I have to master popping the front wheel in the air, something I'm shite at on any bike! Great stuff...

More motorbiking fun to be had!!