Apr 24 2012
Archive for the 'XC Rides' Category
Apr 17 2012
Litter Pick XC ride. This Sunday (22nd April).
It’s a Mini Dig Day re-allocation of resources…
It’ll combine a leisurely ride with litter collection. It should only take a couple of hours if there’s enough of us. We’ll set off for a section of the forest in pairs, each with an empty rucksack lined with a bin-liner. One rider fills the others person’s rucksack so he/she doesn’t have to keep taking it off or putting it on. Simple as. Maybe take a few spare bin-liners with you, and leave filled ones at strategic (discreet) points ready to take back to the car park on your way back.
We did one last year and it was a huge success. In light of recent events, now’s the time to do another one (and before it all gets too overgrown).
We realise collecting other people’s litter is an unpleasant chore, but as well as giving you that inner glow of being really useful, at the very least it’s a gesture of goodwill to the Longleat estate proving that we genuinely care about the forest we ride in. Let’s make an effort. It’s all about the greater good etc etc. C’mon, people, let’s get as many riders out as possible.
If you want to get all competitive about it there’ll probably be a prize for the do-gooder does the best good (ie collects the most rubbish).
Meet at 10am at the club car park this Sunday. Bring your own BIG rucksack, hi-vis vest (if you’ve got one) and a bike. Binbags will be provided, as will anti-septic hand-gel-cleaning stuff. Gloves will be provided if you need them. Oh, and don’t pick up anything you don’t want to (that means anything that scores a 7 or higher on the Eeeeeeeew-o-meter™).
NB – Bring your own Eeeeeeeew-o-meter™.
Mar 17 2012
We convened on a misty Sunday morning at the Cheese and Grain, ready to make the hour-and-a-bit journey to “that car park” in Dunster. The drive was pretty uneventful, i was looking forward to seeing the views as we got closer to Dunster, but they were hidden under a blanket of foggy nothingness.
Mr Truelove met us there aboard his new steed, Penny. It was possibly the biggest bike i have ever seen, yet looked completely in proportion! The next 10 minutes contained faffing, fueling and flapjack which led to everyone being ready and raring to go.
After a short road section we were at the beginning of the trail, which was a steep narrow bridleway (which turned out to be the main ingredient of the ride). I was already struggling, as i was aboard a rigid/ Singlespeed 29er but it was too late to swap bikes now. We had only been riding for 2 minutes and Kev managed to snap his new chain due to his raw hill climbing power (or the fact it wasn’t fitted properly). This was a quick fix though and we struggled on, turning left at heaven and going up a little further.
The climbs were always repaid by exciting downhills, however, the first descent was something a little different. It must be the steepest gradient i have ever ridden, mixed with the loose dusty ground it was more a test of nerve rather than ability. All made it down in one piece and we made our way back up via another steep climb.
You needed serious legs to make each of the climbs, they were made to torture enthusiastic mountain bikers which meant many ended up pushing to reach the summit. But it was at the top that we found a selection of breath-taking singletrack. Fast, flowing, technical, rooty, rocky and steep (obviously) trails that left a lasting impression.
It was very much a case of rinse and repeat for the remainder of the ride, but with a little more road and fire track mixed in to gain some easy altitude. We made it back to the car park with 3 minutes to spare on the 4hr parking tickets, perfec’ timing. Everything got packed away into the cars, and we wondered into Dunster to grab a bite to eat. There was a quient Deli that sold pies and pasties, so we filled ourselves with some home made tastiness and ambled back to the cars.
All together a brilliant day was had by all, the mist eventually cleared to provide some amazing views and the trails were in surprisingly good condition considering the fact it’s March. There was only one injury, a rogue boulder jumped up and bit Chas, providing him with a “Shin Nose”, but he managed to soldier on after a plaster and some jelly snakes.
Thanks to Chas for leading and providing the route and thanks to everybody for good company. See you next month
Jan 16 2012
January Ride-Away to the Quantocks… The Black Canon’s ‘Plan B’ ride featuring: Bigfoot, Babies’ heads, Brother-of-Chris Noble and Benatar.
“We’ll give her till ten past” was the decision made in the Cheese & Grain car park just prior to our departure for this month’s ride away to the Quantock Hills. At 8:09am Sharon pedalled into sight and by 8:10am we were all on our way. Phew.
During all the nervous foot-tapping and watch-glancing that preceded Sharon’s arrival, Ryan, after a great deal of deliberation (in a rather fetching ‘jim-jams and festival hat’ combo) finally settled on his tyre choice for the day and fitted them. Again. And then promptly changed them again in the car on the drive down.
The short journey to Holford was uneventful, save for the five lucky occupants of Geraint’s Fun Bus being treated to some of the finest pop hits of the 80′s, courtesy of Chas’ iPod and a compatible lead into the van’s ICE system. Contrary to popular opinion, he maintains that a little Pat Benatar turned up to 11 is the perfect hors d’oeuvre to a four-hour mountainbike ride.
By the preceding Saturday evening the ‘Plan B’ ride had evolved into a ‘Plan C’. Wary of the fact that many of those riding on Sunday would be new to the Quantock Hills it was thought best to include as many of the old favourites and highlights as possible, and to save most of the alternative ‘new’ bits for another visit.
11 Black Canons met with five Bigfeet in the Holford layby. The Bigfoot MBC were planning an excursion here anyway and, curious to see any alternatives to their usual routes, had asked a while ago if they could tag along on our ride.
The Quantocks’ trails always hold up well in the winter and didn’t fail to impress yet again. The first evil climb of the day was nailed by just a few and sent a stark warning to most of us as to just how… erm… ‘hilly’ these hills are. An Evil-O-Meter™ was then established with climbs graded on a one to ten scale: one being ‘evil but manageable’ and ten being ‘the purest of all evils’. Most climbs thereafter were between 8 and 10.
An entirely new descent was the first of the day. Starting fast and grassy, the Devil’s Galloping Path (real name) soon dissolves into a twisting carpet of loose rocks the size of babies’ heads covered in leaf litter. Add a smattering of roots to glance off and a fallen tree to limbo under and you have a great new addition to any Quantocks route. All riders made it safely to the bottom, most of them randomly pin-balling their way down with their eyes shut.
There then ensued the usual pattern of any Quantocks XC ride: climb/descend/climb/descend repeat until you can taste blood. Highlights of the day included: Weacombe Combe with its winding narrow singletrack; Smith’s Combe with its steepness, looseness and stream-crossings; the descent from Dead Woman’s Ditch with it’s rocky trench and narrow drop-offs; and Holford Combe with it’s numerous line choices. Even the climbs back up from those trails, though never easy, are always worth the effort. A small price to pay for fantastic, natural downhills.
En-route to the last descent of the day we passed a weary looking bunch who looked a lot like SPAM members. Their number appeared to include Mr Noble’s evil twin-brother sporting fluoro Oakley Jawbones. Our Chris would certainly never wear anything that garish.
Given that we had 16 riders in our group, mishaps and mechanicals were thin on the ground: Geraint’s tired chain snapped under the vast amounts of brutal torque he generated grinding up a short-but-steep climb, and there were a couple of punctures to interrupt the sweet flow of Smith’s Combe. A few riders confessed to going sideways occasionally but no one had any spectacular offs (that they were prepared to share with the group, anyway).
In short, we enjoyed a day of spectacular weather, amazing scenery, brilliant trails and great company. 18 miles of off-road riding in 4 hours (and 3,000ft of climbing) might not seem very much but as ever with this jewel of the southwest, the Quantocks is all about quality, not quantity. Quantock quality.
Jan 09 2012
Another change from 2011 – in 2012 we will be using the Village Hall for the Roller Racing and music. Even though the weather in 2011 was glorious, it was bitterly cold in the evening, so this year we’ll be inside. Scrumpy will be available everywhere and is compulsory.
Here’s a rough itinerary:
Camping opens 3pm on Friday afternoon.
Registration open from 4pm-7pm.
Breakfasts available on site from 7ish am.
Registration open from 8-9am.
50 & 75km rides start at 9.30am.
Food available from 6pm.
Music for dancing / singing / listening to from 8pm.
Roller Racing at 9.30pm – oooh, now you’re interested…
Breakfasts from 8am ish.
Relaxing day (recovery day). Course will be marked out for you to revisit your favourite bits from Saturday.
Campsite closes at 1pm.”
Oct 20 2011
Hopefully most of you know who I am now, I’ve started a blog about my racing & riding which will cover next years events, but to start off i’ve covered what i’ve been upto this year.
CLIC24, Cheddar, Somerset 14/05/11
First 12hr of the year was CLIC24 a charity “ride”, originally a 24hr only but this year it had a 12 and 6hr category, the course was 10miles of mainly bridleway, double track and a small amount of tarmac. Thought I’d start the race on my singlespeed 29er as I found it feels much less effort compared to my 26er. The start felt relaxed after 3 xc races and I happily cleared the 24hr racer traffic and rolled through the start top 10. I kept a steady pace all day, feeling settled and comfortable, in the end I finished first in the 12hr solo by 2 laps, beat the 12hr teams and was leading the 24hr solo field. It felt a good start after the winter.
Erlestoke 12, Erlestoke, Wiltshire 28/05/11
2 weeks after CLIC was Erlestoke 12, originally a 6pm-6am race, now a more social 12pm-12am, the course was a mixture of fast flowing singletrack, spikey climbs and longer tarmac climbs. Felt quite a bit of pressure after a good ride at CLIC and hoping to perform well in the singlespeed category. Got another good start and stayed near the front, conscious not to race to hard from the start.
With lots of support from the Black Canon guys and great pit work from my dad the hours ticked through, the small amount of raining making little difference to the course. As the day drew on I still felt good, but as the lights went on I had a very grotty lap, getting back into the pits I had a bottle of water, getting back out on the next lap I felt much better. By then my 12hours were up, turned out i’d lead the SS class since the start, had won by 2 clear laps and came 5th overall. Some nice prizes from Charge bikes and a sit by the BCC fire helped me forget my tired legs and sore hands.
Are You Tough Enough, Deepcut Barracks, Surrey 3/07/11
After a nice break I found a Gorrick Based 4hr Enduro lap race with a singlespeed class to enter. During my warm up I noticed quite a few big names from the enduro world were there, including Anthony White of Cannondale/MT Zoom racing. Got another flying start, leading the whole field down into the first singletrack, which came out onto a road section, legs span like crazy so I lost touch with the leaders until we got back into the singletrack. The course was tough! Very little chance to rest and very technical in places, I was glad it was only a 4hr races. Half way through the first lap I manage to wash the front wheel out on a loose corner, as I collected myself up the then second placed singlespeeder went through, and that’s how the race ended, as hard as I pushed I could not bridge the gap to him. Great respect to him, Mr White only beat me by 15minutes or so and my time would have placed me 5th in the Open class.
Bontrager TwentyFour 12, Plymouth, Devon 23/07/11
After another little break of reduced riding I managed to get a later entry for Twentyfour 12 after writing it off for the year. Having raced Newnham Park years ago and briefly this spring I had a fair idea of the terrain, but after listening to report from people had pre-ridden the course it sounded tough, lots of climbing but a rewarding course. Having not done the race before I was caught off guard by how early people queued up at start! So I snuck in near the middle, from the off the course climbed straight up a grassy slope where I weaved through the hoards of gear’d riders who are incapable of riding quickly up hills!
As I had no pit crew I had little idea of my race position, but luckily 4hrs in I overheard the race commentator mention I was leading 12hr solo male, so I pushed on, after about 7hrs I had my usual feeling of feeling sick and getting slight cramps, luckily this eased as darkness well but I had lost first and was down to 4th, luckily some friends popped by to check my progress, I put them to use sorting my lights and lubing my bike whilst I ate. After that I put in two strong laps which bumped me back to 3rd, I rolled back in hoping for it to be passed 12am and leave me in third, unfortunately it wasn’t but I had called and end to my day, I went to bed thinking I’d been passed by 4th and 5th but luckily they had stopped before 12, leaving me in 3rd, I was very pleased as I had gone hoping to get some endurance back and came away with a podium and prize money.
Brighton Big Dog 6hr, Brighton, East Sussex 20/08/11
I had been looking forward to the Big Dog all year as I used to live in Brighton and knew the trails well. I went down the day before to practice the course with an old friend, the course suited me well, not too rough and manageable climbs. The day of the race was very warm, riding around before the start I noticed a few familiar faces from the racing world, including defending solo champion Ian Leitch on his factory Cannondale Flash 29er.
I had a mediocre start so was pleased when the first climb appeared and I could pass people. I rolled through the start/finish line to be told I was “atleast top 20” I was happy with this an continued to push hard up all the hills and enjoyed the fast singletrack. I began to struggle with heat after a few hours and wasn’t drinking enough, but I was in a solid 7th place so needed to keep my head. I managed to keep pushing and kept consistent lap times and had a great last two laps. After finishing I checked the lap board to see I’d came in 6th, was pleased with that as it was a shorter race to what I’m used to, so I was surprised during the podium presentation that I was called up for 5th place! A collection of nice prizes helped ease my headache and the drive home the next day. Definitely going back next year to push top 3.
Kielder 100Miles, Scottish Boarders 3/09/11
A race only in its 3rd year but widely renowned as an epic, which meant I had to give it a try. So on the Friday we drove the 300miles in lovely sunshine to the Campsite, checked in and stuck my tent in the only dry patch of ground I could find! We went and signed on, where I was forced to buy a survival blanket and whistle, what had I let myself into….
As the race is such a long way and they want everyone to get in before its dark the race starts at 6.30am! So I get up at 5am to discover it had been raining all night and was still raining, undeterred I dressed to suit and hoped the rain would stop. We assembled at the start, around mid pack, and followed the lead quad bike for about half and hour, luckily no one seemed keen in racing so I could make my way through the pack quite easily.
So the race got going well, I had made my way forward and the pace was good, the rain was still falling but I felt good, then disaster my brake pad wore out after only 25miles! I only had one spare set so I knew I need to save these for the rear, so I plodded on, taking it steady down the descents and pushing hard up the hills, then after another 15miles my rear brake was totally shot, stuck in the new pads and proceeded to pass all the riders I had just passed =( I reached the 50mile point and felt so cold as I was soaked through, I put on another layer and pressed on.
I reached the 65mile point and was relieved to find a tech station where I could get new brake pads for the front brake. I crossed the boarder back into the UK feeling better but still very cold, reaching the final feed station at 78miles I was ready to finish but I knew I had to keep going! 10miles from the end and I was knackered, I had been riding with another chap and we kept each other going, he left me as his brakes were working better than mine, 2miles from the finish and my front brake wore out again! So the last descent, which should have been really fun was taken with extreme care as to not crash!
I crossed the finish line in 10hrs 53 minutes, 44th place out of 600 starters! and the 4th singlespeed rider. As the afternoon wore on the riders slowly came in, in the end 177 finished, less than 1/3!
Singlespeed UK Championship, Pippingford, East Sussex 17/09/11
My first SSUK Champs and I had been advised not to take it too seriously! Undeterred I headed out on a practice lap to check the course, it then started raining heavily and I could tell the course was going to be tough in wet conditions.
As is customary at SSUK races you leave your bike and walk to the start line, in the meantime your bike is “arranged” mainly into piles of colours or brands. After the Le Mans style running start I quickly found my bike and got going, unfortunately I took a tumble and damaged my rear brake lever, at this point I thought it was race over, but I managed to get them working again I contuined racing.
Eventually I crossed the line in joint 4th officially, the organisers only count the first 3, or 9th unofficially, and happy enough to be top ten, but wondered how well it could have gone. Always another year.
Bristol Oktoberfest, Ashton Court, Bristol 15/10/11
Had been looking forward to this race, partly because it was the last long race of the year, and because it had a singlespeed category. The format was 9am-5pm which meant an early start but less time for me to stand around fretting! Being a local race there was a few familiar faces to catch up with before the start, the start was a Le mans style running start, with such a big field it meant finding my bike and getting going quite frustrating, eventually I was going and trying to get through the field! The course was very fast and flowing man made singletrack, with a few long climbs but nothing too testing, i was expecting to struggle on the rougher sections but the 29er made light work of most of it, only struggling with a section of rock garden.
Due to my poor start i found myself in 4th, the second and third laps went much better with consistent 28/29minute laps, this put me upto 2nd, where i was informed the leader was “2 minutes” in front, it took me another 2 laps to catch him, when i did overtake him he was looking spent, but I continued lapping at a consistant 30minutes, ensuring no one could catch me. As the day drew on i felt good and was enjoying flying through singletrack, trying my best to pass back markers in a polite manner, due to the amount of singletrack this proved difficult at times!
I finished with 25minutes till the end, knowing i couldn’t squeeze in another lap, to my surprise I was only clear by 5minutes! I was happy to end the season with a win, gives me motivation to work hard over the winter.
Thanks for your time, and thanks for the support over this year.
Sep 21 2011
By Ryan Mckee...
Well, I always moan about having to endure a 10 mile journey to my closest trails, so I thought I would dust off the trusty OS map and see what I could discover. I sketched out a rough route over breakfast, prepped the bike and ventured off into the (relative) unknown…
It took all my determination to get out of the door, it had been threatening to rain for the past few hours and I am highly allergic to rain! However, I am glad I did, stumbling across some hidden trails that I shall definitely be re-visiting in the near future.
So with the OS in my pocket and “Don’t worry be happy” on repeat I trudged along the 1/2 mile section of road to reach The Bell Inn where the trail begins.
My mind was soon drawn to other things as the track became narrow, rocky and very steep. This is exactly what I was hoping I would find. The climb continued for several punishing minutes, reaching a clearing at the top gave me a perfect excuse to have a much needed drink and check the map.
A short, steep push up and I was back en-route.
I then emerged onto a gravel double track path which ran parallel to the Westbury Chalk Quarry. This is quite a sight, seeing such a large space of the Earth missing seemed like quite a shame when you consider the rolling landscape that Westbury is nestled in. Another road section followed, stretching from the White Horse to Eddington, where the next trail was located.
This is where things began to unravel somewhat, I had accidentally ended up on a footpath, which lead in the opposite direction to the bridleway I was originally aiming for. There was a steep, grass track climb to reach the the summit. It was at this point I had realised I was more than likely in the wrong place. There were several hints:
- It could be the lack of any visible tracks
- It could be the gunfire which echoed across the plains
- Or it could be the large “Military Firing Range KEEP OUT!” and red flags whistling in the high winds that swept across the vast space before me
All was well, I put my foot down mindful that the clock was ticking, re tracing my footsteps and revisiting the trails I had found only hours previously. They were fast and loose, and definitely made the steep climbs and risk of being “neutralized” by the T.A worth it. It was quite an adventure, I can no longer moan that nothing exciting ever happens, and to top it off I made it to work on time. Bonus.
Aug 15 2011
Jun 29 2011
As a club we think it is important to have ride leaders with the necessary skills to safely lead enjoyable rides. We have a number of ride leaders, but due to other time constraints too frequently the responsibility to lead the rides falls on a few. To take the strain away from these members, (and to encourage the development of the club’s riding calendar) we are looking to identify and train some new ride leaders.
The course will be partially funded by the club, and we will operate a payback system that allows ride leaders to recover the rest of the course cost annually as they lead rides.
If you are interested in becoming a ride leader – and you feel you have the time to take on the role (a couple of rides a month) – we would be grateful to hear from you, e-mail email@example.com to state your interest or to find out more.
Apr 23 2011
That’s what it’s all about. Shiny bikes, blue skies, warm sunshine, dry trails, stunning scenery, good company, big grins and lots of wildlife.
Three of us went for a local loop starting early on Good Friday morning. We met up at the Allotment, headed out through Horningsham, went up over Cold Kitchen Hill and came back through Longleat forest. Explored a couple of new trails, rode a few favourite trails backwards (didn’t ride the BIKES backwards, obviously), performed some health-and-safety on one, admired the views, drank in the scenery and generally set the world to rights. A superb morning well spent.
Anyhoo, the pictures speak for themselves. Long may this summer weather continue.
Oh, and I hope at least some of you picked up on the obscure 80s lyric reference.