Wednesday night Club good to go
I went out for a quick spin around Wednesday night’s route from Twyford and I can report that the trails are in top condition. Ideal for getting a taste of mountain biking.

The dirt is that lovely consistency that flatters you at every turn. Just dry enough that there’s no mud and just damp enough that there’s grip in spades.

Much more pleasingly though, the verges have been cut back so the final descent beside Hockley Golf Course is wide open and great fun.

There are still a few places if you fancy joining us. I look forward to seeing you.
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Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments
Wear and tearing my hair out.

Wear and tearing my hair out.

If you ride a mountain bike for long enough, there are two certainties:

  1. You will get muddy
  2. Parts of the bike will wear out

Mud is part and parcel of the fun. If I’m honest, it’s part of the attraction. Riding in the mud is a lot of fun and there’s something about coming home covered in mud that puts me in touch with the child in me.

QE Park mud covered

QE Park mud covered

I’m fine with mud (but don’t quote me on that in February)

Wear and tear is another matter entirely

Things wearing out means that the bike spends more time on a workstand and less time out on the trails.

Some mountain bikers are tinkerers and fettlers. Some people really enjoy “optimising” their bike with new bits and pieces. I’m not one of them: repairs are a necessary evil that cuts down my riding time. I’ve got better at fixing things because it means I can spend more time riding. Simple.

So the inevitability of things wearing out is something I could live without. The problem is that, seen over a long enough time frame, everything on the bike is consumable. Chains & brake pads: easy fix and not really a problem. Cables: fair enough. Rear cassettes: OK, I suppose. Even chainrings: eventually, and it’s not that much of a faff.

There is, however, one piece of breakage that really does my nut in. And that is spokes.

Why so bad?

In the old days, a broken spoke was an embuggerance but nothing more. You whip off the tyre, lift out the tube and stick a new one in. No biggie.

However, I run my wheels with the new-fangled tubeless setup. It means exactly what it says: there are no inner tubes. The tyre fits on the rim like a car tyre and is held tight with latex sealant. There are some really good reasons for tubeless: it virtually eliminates pinch-flats (where the rim hits the ground and pinches the inner tube), it virtually eliminates punctures too and you can run tyres at lower pressures for more grip. Everyone’s a winner.

The downside is that fitting them and setting them up can be a bit of a pain. There are a whole lot of potential leaky spots to be eliminated. That latex can go anywhere if you’re not careful.

So once they’re on and up I tend to leave them alone as much as possible. Changing them for winter ones in October and back again in about March is about all I can stand.

Which is why I hate snapped spokes.

That means taking the whole careful set up completely to pieces and beginning again from scratch.

Why tearing your hair out?

I went out for a ride on Monday. At one point I hit a lip slightly wrong. At another I put too much side load through the rear wheel. Result: one snapped spoke on each wheel.

That translates to taking both wheels apart before I can go out and ride again.

That’ll be fun.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments
Riding through a rainforest

Riding through a rainforest

I nipped out for a quick ride this morning and was faced with some of the oddest conditions I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve been riding in this area for a decade. I know what to expect in any given month. I know which trails to avoid in winter because they’re too muddy and which to avoid in summer because they’re overgrown. I know which ones have a sweet spot in spring and autumn when they achieve “goldilocks” conditions. I know these trails like the back of my gloves.

It’s almost July. July means, dry trails, dust motes in the air and lots of free speed. It also usually means lots of vegetation and a sea of green every time I go into the woods.

That’s what I was expecting

Yes, there is a lot of greenery out there. An awful lot. The amateur botanist in me suggests that the warm winter, the bright spring and the incredibly wet conditions over the last few weeks have given everything a massive growth spurt. So there really is green absolutely everywhere, some trails are narrower than usual but some are utterly impassable because of the vegetation. It gets even more exciting when the weight of the water is causing things to lean over more and I’ve seen several trees come down in the last couple of weeks. It’s also REALLY humid out there. It’s overcast, sweaty and close.

What really caught me unawares, though, was the sheer amount of mud out there. I’ve not seen that level of mud since April. Some places are clarty as anything and others are really quite skitey at the moment.

Crab Wood Rainforest

Crab Wood Rainforest: local trails this morning

It’s weird. It’s as though I’m riding through all the fun of summer and all the fun of winter at the same time. I’ve got shortened the sight-lines and nettle-dodging of summer combined with the mud spray and sideways riding of winter. All whilst boiling in the bag.

It’s like riding through a rainforest. I came home soaked and caked in mud.

I also came home grinning like a loon. It was great fun.

Posted by BackPedalling Andy in Rides, 0 comments