Archive for the ‘Rides’ Category

Sunday Ride

Posted: November 14, 2011 in 2011, Rides

If it is possible to ride on a November morning in summer kit (except for an unnecessary base layer) in perfect conditions with the sun shining and potentially perfect trail conditions, yet still have a less than ideal ride then I had it yesterday.

I hooked up with young Dan and Rich at BCP. A minimal amount of faffing and we were off. Dan pushed the pace from the start and we spread out on the long, sandy climb to High Lodge. At the top we caught up with each other and cranked the speed up down ‘Chris’s Knickers’, then over towards Tightrope. So far so good, the mini Santon Downham downhill came and went (I love it, the others hate it). We all grabbed the chance to shed clothing at the bottom and moved on to the gay trail. Sadly, little of it was rideable and we all struggled to make any decent progress. Despte choosing some perfect, alternative lines where they existed, it just was no fun at all so we headed out of the trees and up to FR24. Some sublime singletrack followed which we rode as fast as we could….except over my weak point. I can’t keep speed up through moguls and despite doing my best, and Dan bellowing ‘pump the …..ers’ I just lost speed. No matter, the dodgy section out of the way and we were all fairly rattling along again. We rode the green bombhole and then took the decision to try and find some trails we used to ride, which used to be great fun and certainly deserve looking for again.

Many years ago, we stumbled upon some really fun singletrack, twisty, tight, fast, huge berms and totally untouched. No one rides it because no one knows it is there…well, no mountain bikers anyway. Following some catastrophic damage by motorbikes we left it to go fallow hoping for nature to do her thing and let it recover. I knew where the entrances were but couldn’t remember which one was the best option. Anyway, we dived in, hoping for the best. Nature has done a good job overall, the surface was firm yet grippy, and once the trees, branches and general debris were removed, we only had to contend with ruts. For those of you who know San Andreas, well that is for wimps, a sort of fault line with stabilisers. The trails retained the potential for speed and, given a bit of clearing they will be fine, but some sections lead you along the edge of deep, deep ruts. If you fell in you’d need a crane to get you out! It certainly concentrates the mind and you have to click into a different mode of riding. Slow, technical riding is called for…and yes, I failed! The bike slid into the ravine(s) on more than one occasion but it was a bit of a hoot! The next section used to be hidden away and yes, it still is. Years of leaf litter, branches and neglect have covered up the trails plus, motorbikes have diverted the track away from some of the nicer sections (more slow, technical bits). We found some of it and it needs a bit of tlc, no – a LOT of tlc, and some imagination and only them will we be able to restore it to its former glory. There is hope, it has great potential and I’m sure we’ll be back over the winter to clear the trails of leaves.

Anyway, by now, my time was getting short and we headed back when, disaster. I got a puncture, a puncture that was too big for the sealant to cope with. Left to itself, the hole would close over but as soon as I started to ride, it opened again. Cue the replacement inner tube. As we didn’t want to be faffing about all day, Dan took control and did the honours. Tube pumped up, we headed up the road to High Lodge where I got that sinking feeling. The tube became increasingly unable to hold air. I haven’t had a look but I reckon the adhesive on the patches was degraded by the latex goo and soon the tube refused to hold any air at all. I had to walk the last mile or so which was a drag but it was a nice day so…..

Thanks to all the people who offered tubes, shame none of you rode 29ers! Anyway, lesson number one – make sure you carry a new tube! In the car park I presumed upon Stovey’s better nature and asked him to sort out a tyre patch for me.

A strange sort of ride, great, bad, great, bad then a walk. Hmmmm. Still, far from ideal as it was, you need rides like this to appreciate the good ones!


Thursday Night Ride

Posted: November 11, 2011 in 2011, Rides

A disappointingly short ride, under two hours, because a huge chunk of the loop was taped off (for shooting) and we didn’t want to risk it! Having said that, we rode for over 26 miles at an average of 15.7mph which wasn’t too bad. Lots of road work and plenty of climbing. I am glad to report that I won every climb with ease! You really must get some bigger wheels Rich, it will make all the difference!

The weather was so warm I was sweating buckets. The only down side to the whole ride (apart from the above) is that about half way round I missed my bottle cage and a full water bottle hit the deck, the top came off and the road gratefully received my drink. I managed to salvage about an inch in the bottom so scraped by until we got home. I didn’t really need the whole bottle full but it is strange how much of a psychological crutch a bottle of drink is!

Anyone out there want to lend Rich a 29er?????

Sunday Ride

Posted: November 7, 2011 in 2011, Rides

Billed as a big ride i.e. plenty of saddle time, I arranged to meet up with Rich, RM (Duracell Bunny) and DT. I have a feeling there was either a communication breakdown or orders from SWMBO as DT didn’t show. Conditions were ideal, trails were damp but grippy and rolling fast. Heading out, our aim was to make Santon Downham in a couple of hours and turn back. We were, I am afraid, too optimistic and the furthest point on the outward leg was High Lodge. There is little to report except that RM was on good form, maintaining a good pace and putting us old folk under a little bit of pressure. Having yet to see his 48th birthday, there is no stopping the young whippersnapper!

On the homeward run we popped over to see the racers and saw our friend Chris the Beardy Weirdy kicking butt on his SS 29er. Nipping in and out of the tape we made our way home. I owned the ‘Orange Hill’ sprint. Rich wasn’t playing and RM didn’t know that it was a sprint point, nor did he know where it finished. I sucked his rear wheel until 50 yards out and went for it, holding him off until the (movable) finish. Victory is sweet particularly when you have someone at a disadvantage! 🙂

Maybe 10 miles out I started to get a strange sensation in the tendon behind my knee, it felt like low level cramp and it did inhibit my riding so I just engaged spin mode. I was on the pace until just before Lackford Lane when it all became a bit too uncomfortable but I held on until just before the tarmac section when it just hurt too much. I was only about 10 seconds behind the two Richards at the end so it wasn’t too bad a result.

Not sure what I have done to my leg but it’s nothing a little rest won’t sort! According to the GPS it was just shy of 56 miles so not a bad spin.

A couple of wimps????

Posted: November 4, 2011 in 2011, Rides

Headed out for a ride last night, right sort of clothing albeit with a lightweight waterproof (ish) race cape. Hooked up with Rich at the bottom of Mere Lane and the rain that had been intermittent…off….showery….off showery, turned really heavy. Rich informed me he was capitulating and offered me a lift home. As the rain was getting increasingly unpleasant (I couldn’t see out of my glasses there was so much water about) I accepted his offer and, once deposited at my front door, discovered the rain had stopped. It was too late and I packed my kit away.

Something we discussed was the difference that the dark makes. We normally ride to places that are out of the way (not properly remote) and there is no frequent foot/bike/horse traffic. We are quite happy to go on solo rides in the summer, quite late into the evening; somehow the light makes it seem less of a problem. Once the winter and dark comes along though, we tend not to ride alone. This really is illogical…or is it? I’d love to hear what other people feel about this.

To go back to the title then, were we a couple of wimps? Probably, but dry and warm wimps nevertheless!

Sunday Ride

Posted: October 31, 2011 in 2011, Rides

First of all a quick mea culpa for neither hearing nor seeing Berm Bandit at High Lodge. Deaf and blind is my excuse! Anyway, homage has been paid to the Grand Wazoo and he has given me penance… though I can’t tell you what it is!

Met Rich and (young) Dan at BCP. Dan showed up with his new uber bike, a carbon Look with an awesome spec and to die for finishing kit. I wasn’t sure about the skinny tyres (2.1s that looked more like 1.95s or smaller) but otherwise very much a full on race machine. It promised to go fast but it looked as stiff as…well, without lapsing into the vernacular, a very stiff thing indeed. By the amount of stretching going on towards the end of the ride it was as stiff as it looked.

We rode favourite sections on the HL and BCP sides. The harvesting of BCP seems imminent and I guess we will lose swathes of single track in the very near future. This is a real blow but one has to accept that it is a commercial forest and harvesting is one of those things.

I normally start off quickly but was left in Dan’s wake as he explored the ballistic capabilities of his new speed machine. All I can say is ‘it is very fast’ and early on, Dan overcooked one or two bends as his speed entering bends was far higher than normal. Rich simply kept pace, popping onto the front now and then, conserving energy and riding within himself until we got to the grey hill. I would like to say that I not only made up a lot of lost ground at the start of the climb but overhauled Rich and dropped him on the way up. Yes, I am making the most of it while I can, sort of making up for the fact that when he was leading, Rich chose every bit of trail that would be tough on those with bigger wheels…i.e. me!

We rode for just under 27 miles, averaging 12.5s which was a reasonable pace.

It is strange riding practically in November, with shorts and a shirt as opposed to leg warmers, base layers, jackets etc. It can’t last much longer….can it?


Posted: October 24, 2011 in 2011, Rides

Yes, that’s me….. mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa By writing about ‘river root’ I encouraged it to emerge from its slumber and claim its’ first victim…and it wasn’t me! I hooked up with DT and Rich yesterday (Rich M bottled it!) for a long off road ride. A few mentions of ‘river root’ on the way down, a few laughs and that was it. Rich then suggested we go down by the river and show DT what a wuss I am, and how I have been making a fuss about nothing. We headed down, conditions were perfect so the potential for root based malevolence was low. Approaching the ‘danger area’ in high spirits DT was caught. Sensing a newcomer, ‘river root’ pounced and DT went flying over the handlebars to land in a very undignified lump on the floor. Note for future reference….landing on your pump can be painful! DT attested to this and his groans encouraged me to make a mental note to avoid it in future! Luckily, there was no major damage to rider and the bike escaped unscathed too and we were soon on our way. This will either have had the effect of exorcising the root, lancing the pus filled boil of hate, harboured within its woody heart or,having bitten once, it may have developed a taste for cyclist’s blood and emerge stronger, more evil and a bigger threat than ever.

Handlebar jumping aside, we had a decent ride along small, lumpy, sandy, rooty bridleways up to Thetford Forest where we spent a while on selected singletrack as well as bits of the black and red routes. I think we were working quite hard but the average time was in the 13s which seems a bit slow. A total of 42 miles in all, this was a reasonable reintroduction to riding after a rest week.

The weather was unseasonably good, warm sun (which saw us stripping off gilets, leg warmers etc within the first three or four miles) with a brisk wind. The trails were dusty and dry, so much so I had to let air out of my tyres to get grip levels back up. The weather forecasters keep promising rain and the medium term forecast predicts serious cold before Christmas. Quite honestly, I’d be happy if they were wrong and it stayed this good right up until spring! Still, the clocks go back this week I think….. boo!

Saturday Ride

Posted: October 15, 2011 in 2011, Rides

Long Ride by slowjo61 at Garmin Connect – Details.

I had promised DT a long ride today, between 60 and 65 miles so I hoped it was going to be a good day. I crawled out of bed at 6.30 and peered into the inky blackness…hmmm. A pink glow in the sky indicated that dawn was on the way so I headed downstairs for the morning jobs and then breakfast.

I needn’t have worried about the weather, it was fine both metaphorically and literally. A clear sky, light winds and apart from it being a bit chilly, it had the makings of a perfect morning. Dan arrived at 8 and we rolled out at about 8.15 or so.

The first half of the ride was tough going, my legs just would not wake up, nor would they generate much power. Conversation soon drifted onto bike setup and it was pointed out that my saddle was a bit too  low. I was ready to accept this to an extent, as I had just put it down the other day to see what it felt like, whether it would be more efficient or not. The answer was a resounding ‘not’. I put it up slightly higher than it had been before and noticed an immediate improvement, notably, less strain on my lower back and less effort needed to be generated from the major muscle groups in my legs. Result!

The ride was a circuit taking in several of the medieval Suffolk ‘Wool Towns’, the like of which I don’t think they have in the States. Anyway, it being early, they were not busy and the London crowd with their Chelsea tractors were not in evidence. The roads were lumpy, with constant undulations taking their toll on my legs.  Still, we were spinning along at a decent pace (16.7 average I think) and took in villages, back roads and massive climbs to the (almost) highest spot in the county. At the top we had to change our oxygen tanks as the altitude was killing us!

This ride was one of firsts for Dan… the first time he had negotiated a roundabout on a bike, and the first  time he had dealt with a double mini too!

A brief stop in Bildeston saw us checking out Lifecycle UK where we ogled the fantastic array of top end machines they have in store. Gorgeous stuff but way out of my league!

As we neared the end, Dan informed me that his legs had just woken up which was great news (yeah, right!) but we were too near home for him to be able to kill me!

The perfect weather stayed with us to the end and we wound up the ride at a smidge over 62 miles. I was running out of drink at the end but with a refill I could have done another loop! OK, maybe not but it was a good introduction to Suffolk outwith the confines of the US bases. Next time we’ll have to build in a tea and cake stop somewhere.

Tune of the ride from Frank.