Monday, 29 February 2016

Peak District Dash - Sunday Fun

I met up with Geoff and Lee, two mates of mine on Sunday morning nice and early at Grindleford Cafe in the Peak.

Geoff had his shiny new Freeride 350 out to play and Lee had his PR4 AJP, which has just come back from being serviced and fettled a little bit...

The plan,finish a route we started last year but Geoff's KTM had no teeth left on his front sprocket so we had to bail... The route ran in a loop out to Macclesfield and back, so across a couple of counties at least!

First lane was a great short little twisty climb, leading to tarmac and then into a descent that was the same but longer... we passed through sleepy little Derbyshire villages, climbed up hill and down hill all finding some lovely lanes that were just a joy to ride.

As we inched our way west, the terrain changed from the long steady limestone lanes to the rougher gritstone and sandstone versions, we saw a couple of groups of other riders out, one lot on old classic trail bikes, some grumpy and some chatty... then we saw a group who we eventually got to have a chat with.

It turned out to be the lad who had showed Greg Villalobos through the Peak on his Green Lane Relay from Newcastle to London a couple of years ago... Along with another AJP rider which always make Lee smile!

Lunch was at a little farm cafe that we'd used last time, and a quick tightening of chains was needed for Lee and I at this point... Geoff's Freeride was a big hit, Geoff loved it, the bike just went where he pointed it and as it was much lower than his previous KTM 450 EXCF, he was much more relaxed on it. Fuel range was about 60 miles with a 15 mile reserve.

We came across a group of quad bike riders, all nice a polite, albeit a few loud exhausts on them, they let us past as we were a bit quicker but then I fluffed a big step at the bridge on the Three Shires and held everyone up!

After this it was Hollinsclough and then onto the lanes back to Grindleford to round off the day.

One of the things that struck me was the amount of lane closure paperwork that has been stapled to various lanes on this route... we saw about 10 sets altogether, Derbyshire County Council are busy beavering away at changing the landscape to suit their idea of perfection and a cost effective management structure and bugger the consequences it appears.

Despite this we had a good day out and all of the cyclists, horse riders and walkers we saw were chatty and pleasant, no issues what so ever...

We rounded the day off with a descent back to Stoney Middleton and a blast back up the road to Grindleford before the long drive home...

Another great weekend of biking spending time is a beautiful part of the country and with some good mates...

Derbyshire County Council Green Lanes Website Info Pages

Peak District Weekend: Saturday - A solo ride...

Work and family commitments took me south late last week, so with Lucy on a first aid course all weekend, I arranged to meet up with some mates in the Peak on the Sunday, which left me with a solo day on Saturday.

It's been ages since I went out on the lanes alone, so after I'd spent a bit of time researching and planning a route, I was quite keen to check out a bunch of new lanes... then get myself to Matlock and get the bike out...

My route started from Matlock and was a steady 93 mile loop heading down towards Ashbourne and then up and around to Bakewell.

Most of the lanes were steady away with no real tricky bits, but the majority were on a limestone base so were a bit slippy in the ice and damp conditions. The day was a bit cloudy and cold but nice and dry with good vies, so although the  pictures didn't come out to well, it was a grand day out.

I met loads of folk out on the trails, walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the majority of whom I chatted with. Some interesting stories about people and what they do in their lives.

One of the nicer bits of riding alone is you have no pressures to do or be somewhere, you can stop when you fancy etc... I had a bit of a mooch around Royston Grange, an interesting little stop next to a lane...

One of the things that was a bit of a mar on the day was as I passed bu Brushfield at Monsal Head.

This is a lane with some great views and a nice rocky descent, at either entrance to the lane, there is the sign, which I seem to find really offensive... at the very least it's incorrect, but then there are 3 gates in front to the farm building which force people to stop to open them, usually people leave their engine running when they do this, so is this a case of creating a problem and then moaning about it?
The final part of this that I find annoying is the sign is asking for the locals to be treated with respect, yet they cannot even be bothered to use the right name for the users of what is a public highway/road. So if it's a road, how can the users be 'offroaders'?? Then to add insult to injury, this sign has the logos of Derbyshire County Council, the National Park and Derbyshire Constabulary, are all of the authorities so ignorant of the basic tenet of signage?

Isn't respect a two way process?

Anyway once past all this utter ignorance there is then the next phase of how to ruin someones enjoyment of the day, by Derbyshire County Council looking to downgrade the lane to a bridleway and remove vehicular access altogether.

DCC do seem to be the most aggressive and offensive protagonists of lane closures in the UK that I've seen so far. They appear to have no care about due diligence or what is legal, they do just seem to be forcing through their plans to close down as many lanes in the Peak as possible. I wonder what they will do will all the illegal off road activity that will happen when they do this?

Anyway rant over and back to enjoying my day out in the Peak.

The rest of the day passed by nicely, with a bit of lunch sat enjoying the views and  then some nice riding on the edge of the moors, a stark contrast to the limestone regions I had been traversing most of the day.

To suit my puerile sense of humour I took a photo of a lane name that made me smile...

And that about rounded off the day really... then it was a drive upto to Edale to recce some sites where I have teams working in the coming months and a visit to the Cheshire Cheese pub in Hope to see a mate before getting my head down for a nights sleep before a big day on the Sunday.

Derbyshire County Council Green Lanes Website Info Pages

Monday, 22 February 2016

Aughertree Trial - CCMCC / MHB Motorcycles

On another really wet and windy Cumbrian day, Lucy and I set off to the Aughtertree Trial for me to have a go at the trial and for Lucy to wander around with the dog practicing her navigation as I still haven't sorted her rear brake out yet on her little 125.

I didn't take any photos this time as I forgot my camera and it was such shite weather they probably woudln't have come out anyway! ;-)

Once I'd paid my £15.00 and filled out the forms, got the bike set up and myself changed, the riders were all starting to set off across the moorland to the first section, which turned out to be a little twisty one around and over a few rocks with a short climb out to finish... I didn't clear it the first time but did the next two times so was happy with that...

The second and third were together and were really nice and flowing, swooping up and over grassy hummocks and onto short steep climb outs.

Section 4 was a good little twisty one with some good off camber sections and a few rocks thrown in for good measure. Again first time around, no joy, but after this I managed to clear it each time...

Next up was a steeper climb up some wet grass, my bike tends to spin out on this, partly due to my lack of control and inexperience and partly due to the bike. (I may well look at the gearing options and change them to see if I can get more or less low down grunt to try to stop the wheel spinning/sliding that seems to be the norm). I bailed on this section each time I tried it and got a 5 for not finishing it.

Section 6 was a proper swoopy thing, all flowing and lovely, I really liked this and did it a few times to practice. It was here that I figured out, (with some help), that my number was one from the 'experts' category which explained why the observers kept telling me I'd done the wrong section all the time! After this I had to tell any observer I was a novice so they would mark me correctly. No worries as to be honest I was happy mixing and matching as I went along and was not eplanning to do the full four laps anyway...

I seem to have completely forgotten 7 & 8 so can't tell you what they were like! getting old and my memory is going!! ;-) 

Section 9 was a good ride across the fells and was actually in a stream bed, but the water was too high for the modern trials bikes so people missed it out.

Section 10 was a steep beck climb, really good, I managed half of it before I put my foot down, from there on though it was practically a walk up the thing pushing my bike as it was a bit too hard for me. I'm a long way off being good enough to do these with any style at all! That said I watched a young lad who failry danced up it, it was a joy to watch how relaxed and easy he was with it, a naturally balanced and capable rider...

Section 11 was a lovely one, loads of little tight turns and hops over rocks, really good fun and I cleaned it on the second go, which I was very happy with...

All in all this was a pretty easy trial and ideal for beginners, with enough to test you but somethings to boost your confidence. Apart from the weather and a couple of grumpy people, both Lucy & I really enjoyed the day. Some of the harder sections looked possible as well and it would be good to just have some practice days on things like this, but with how difficult it can be to get permissions just to run these events there is little chance of getting a chance at that.

I had a good catch up with Martin Bell & his partner who runs MHB Motorcycles in Kirkby Stephen, they were obseving on the last section from their truck... good call!
Martin sponsors the event with CCMCC and is always a nice helpful chatty guy to have around...

I was also lucky enough to have a bit of a chat with Drew Morten, who is pretty handy on a trials bike to say the least, he showed me a technique I'd seen before but not picked up on, the 'Double Blip or Tap'. You bounce your front wheel onto an obstacle and then use that to get your back over it... it keeps the bike more balanced and is less jerky so your more in control... like it, so a bit more practicing coming up...

I also saw a lad who was on the same bike as mine, he was having the same problems I'd had with my Sherco when I first got it, so we had a bit of a chat about that in the rain, he was also spinning up as he climbed the wet grassy slopes, which was comforting to see if not to experience!

A big thankyou must go to the guys who laid the course out for us to ride. They were out in some really crap weather on Saturday sorting out where to put things and flag the whole lot... its a lot of effort which is done for others benefit... and of course the Observers who came out to stand in the wind and rain, hopefully they all got a beer and a big dinner at the end of the day!

Meanwhile for Lucy and I, its back to practicing at the places where we have the permission of the owner/farmer and of course at my place with some mates til the next trial...

Biking, always a good social bit of fun...

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Cumbria TRF: February Ride Out.

A really wet cumbrian day greeted us this morning, Lucy had that face on that says 'Really, have you seen the forecast???', then 'Is everyone still going??'

I gathered she wasn't that keen at 7am this morning!!

Still, the van was loaded, the bikes fuelled and the meeting point set, so off we set to Kendal.

We arrived in more rain, people and bikes started turning up, a very shiny & new Honda CRF 450 with Whitehaven based Dan at the helm, Simon, the rally rider... on his KTM EXC 500, another new bike, then Mike with his brand new AJP... Lots of shiny toys looking to get muddy, meanwhile the rest of us all had our ruck of KTM's and another AJP...

The planned group was 6, then one more turned up, then two more turned up, so 9 in all, a bit big a group really but hey... they made the effort, so just this once we turned a blind eye to it.

Our first lane was steady, a bit of mud and a few sheep, then we slowly wound our way splashing in the many puddles to the ferry at Sawrey, which took us across Windermere and onto Coniston for a play on the Fox.

We managed most of the classic lanes in central lakes, the Fox, Parkamoor, Tilberthwaite, Hodge Close, Cartmel, Whitbarrow and Gamblesmire, with a long stop at Meadowdore Cafe in Coniston for the log fire and some hot food.

Simon getting the front wheel up
Log fire at the cafe...

Not many fell off, but the ones that did were pretty funny... Simon, thumped his ribs onto a boulder and was a bit sore for the rest of the day, then managed to slide off in soft mud, leaving a long smear of shite down his right arm and thigh. Dan nearly looped his bike giving it too much gas on a rock step, only his size and strength kept him in contact with the bike!

Dan looking a bit cooler than previously!

Parkamoor and the Drunken Duck lane claimed their fair share of scalps today to as a few of the team spun up the back wheels to slide away to one side, leaving them paddling to plant a foot and keep the bike upright! Lucy manged to land in a hole and get stuck, requiring a little aid from the guys...

I had a couple of moments as normal, with a corker on the descent of Parkamoor, dithering about which side of a little rock to go, the front wheel tucked and I launched down the hill at a run trying to keep on my feet.. all caught on film by Nigel!!

We arrived back at the vans at a very leisurely 4pm ish.. all smiling and chatting about the daring do for the day and planning the next ride out!

Once back home it was time to get the the log fire going, cook some sausage, bacon and curly fries for tea and top it all off with a beer in a hot bath! Happy days...

Another great day out on bikes, (despite the weather), another group of new faces and some more memories...

It's what it's all about!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Valentines Day Trial at Lindale, South Lakes

Bassenthwaite and District Motor Club had planned to hold their Robin Hood Trophy Trial at Glenridding in the Central Lakes, but due to the amount of rain that has fallen in the last couple of months, the landowners weren't happy to let it run as the ground was totally sodden, so this trial nearly never happened...

However in a really generous inter-county manner, Westmorland Motor Club offered Bassenthwaite the use of their venue just outside the village of Lindale in South Lakeland, so the fun was back on!

Lucy and I drove down on Sunday morning, it's an hour and a quarter from here down the motorway, so it was an early start for us on a beautiful sunny Valentines Day.

We arrived and I immediately went searching for the van of AB Sherco, a Kendal based Sherco dealer who had a replacement short gear lever for my bike, I'd manged to break mine playing yesterday! Great timing... £22 saw a shiny alloy blue short version attached... lovely new shiny bits!

After some warming up, people started to gather at the 1st section, this proved to have a few twisty bits and a nice but tricky little rock step at the end... This trial was another Northern Round event and as such the sections weren't meant to be easy!

My first attempt saw me sliding around on the wet grass... I don't have the throttle and clutch control as yet to do this with any panache, so a lot of feet dabs and even a little push saw me at the rock step, which I almost cleared!

Section 2 was a steep hill climb with a couple of steps in it... The good guys made it look easy. Me, I was chuffed at clearing the first step, but then lost traction and had to be pulled up the second step! Apparently 3psi max is needed in your tyres for this... Thanks guys!!

Section 3 was a tight little twisty bugger, with a finish down a rocky step between two overhanging trees... I really liked this section and felt given a bit of practice I might be able to clear this... not to be today though!!

Section 4 was a rocky beck climb, with a twist around a tree and a muddy steep climb to finish... I was all over the place, the bike bouced here and there, feet down and finally I fell over on the muddy slope, another 'pulled out' moment!!

Section 5 was Lucy's section, as her bike was still waiting for the rear brake to be fixed, she'd decided to ride her bike to the sections and be an observer for the day.

So Section 5 wasn't too bad, it had an odd rock step and a slippy mud climb, neither of which I seemed to be able to do, I eventually got the rock step, mostly by bouncing over it out of control,       but on the climb, I always seemed to lose traction and end up slewed off to one side... frustrating!!

Sections 6 & 7 were both rocky beck climbs, with 7 being the harder one with bigger rock steps in it. I enjoyed these and bounced my way up. Again I could see that section 6 just needed to be ridden a few times and I could see how to clean it, but 7 was well above me at the moment. It was good to watch the guys who have been riding for years doing this and seeing the skill, balance & control involved!!

Section 8 was ace, a big rock slab, then the scree behind it... the slab was easy for me ironically, but I needed to relax to get the scree without dabbing a foot, something I wasn't at all!! Hey ho...

Sections 9& 10 were more beck climbs, I had a go but knew I couldn't do the rock steps so didn't go back on the next couple of runs...

What was really cool about this trial, apart from the beautiful weather, the general camaraderie of the riders and beautiful views was the fact that I got to ride with a lot of levels of abilty, which in turn passed on some little gems of info to me. I also practiced at a venue that I would normally not be able to ride at, this all helps as I develop as a trials rider, something that takes years to become good at... for some longer than others!! ;-)

Lucy & I rounded the morning off with a ride around the rest of the sections for her to see them, a razz along with the dog and some more playing on the rock slabs and other bits before heading home to finish the day off with a lovely valentines meal together...

Happy days...