Category: mountain bikes

mountain bikes

Spring is just around the corner

All the hope of getting out on the bike at the beginning of autumn fell flat on its face. Won’t bore you with the details but it was the normal things from the past few months. I have got my ankle sorted out at long last, guess what it was??? One of the tablets I was taking as part of my treatment for diabetes. Apparently muscle\tendon inflammation is one of the side affect of taking Simvastin (a statin). Why the doctor never told me this on the two occasions I went to the doctors about my ankle I don’t know. Within days of stopping taking the tablets my ankle was feeling a lot better. Get the occasional twinge but nothing like it was.

As part of my diabetes treatment I was offered a flu vaccination, never had one before, I have heard stories of getting a bad case of the flu after having the vaccination so I asked a few people who had had the vaccination in the past there thoughts on it. On the whole they said they would recommend it so I had my injection mid Oct. Glad to report at the time no ill affects……………………..had to wait until Christmas for the cold\flu\bug to kick in. The son and the wife had been suffering with a cold bug for a couple of weeks and though they were on the road for getting rid of it before Christmas but the bug had other ideas. By bedtime Christmas eve all three of us were suffering badly. I think the wife summed it up best on Christmas day, if it was not for the daughter coming round for Christmas dinner we all would of stayed in bed. While it ruined Christmas for all of us the wife and the son were well recovered by new years, I had to wait until mid February before my throat felt OK. With that and the lousy weather, riding went out the window.

Diabetes check up went well in September, diabetes eye test in January did not, had to go for my annual eye check for diabetic retinopathy (its damage to the blood vessels in the eye that can lead to blindness). It seems as though I have background retinopathy, it does not affect my sight but I have to work harder at managing my diabetes and I thought I was. Now have to wait for my next check up which is due in April-ish sort of time.

The fish tank is going well, at least it is better than it was a few weeks ago, not sure how (I have my suspicions) but got a major infection in the fish tank, had several different infection going on at the same time but could only treat one infection at a time. In the world of fish keeping (at least for 95% of fish keepers) fish illness is a case of self diagnosis by the fish keeper (you can hardly take your fish to the vet!!). Unfortunately I lost a few fish but the remainder of now well on the way to full health even to the point a couple of them are pregnant!!

muddy bike

This is from this morning ride, the first of 2016, it was only a short ride, it was a very muddy ride, by the time I had finished I ached in places I had forgotten, I was blummin cold, not freezing but the dreaded windchill factor cold, by the time I got home I was freezing. My knee is giving me a few twinges at the moment but I am determine to go out again next weekend. Certainly a different route than today’s to avoid the mud. Well I am out of here for now.

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It has been a long time

The last few weeks have been a real mixed bag of events, so good some not so good and some ho hum.

I had to check my last posting I made as I could not remember what had been said. Well the bike was rebuilt with all the new bits added and I managed a short ride the following day. The following weekend was a stunning weekend, but first the story. I am a moderator on a Mountain Bike forum and back towards the end of last year we found out that one of the forum members (lets call him Tazz) was facing his 4th battle with Mr C (cancer). Not content with battling MR C again he was also going to be a guinea pig for a new cancer treatment. To help keep Tazz focussed on recovery it was suggested that when he was recovered we would join him for a ride. No exact date was set but April 2013 was the chosen month. What happened over the next 8 months was stunning. I produced a banner for those forum members who wanted to, could put it in their signature to show their support for our fellow forum member. Within days the forum was awash with posts showing the small blue banner showing our support for Tazz.

When Tazz was under going treatment his wife would come on to the forum and post updates of Tazz’s progress for all of us and with each update there would come a wave of support from the forum members, not only for Tazz but for his wife and family as well. So great was our support that Tazz’s wife would print off all the forum messages and then read them back to her husband at his bed side in hospital. The messages that Tazz’s wife past on to us varied from the heart wrenching “he is seriously ill and were not sure if he will make it” through to Tazz being banned from running a card school with the other patients and has been stopped from jousting with wheel chairs and crutches!!

Tazz made it home just before xmas (or as Tazz said, they were glad to get rid of him) but the stories still continued as did two return trips to hospital. As the new year started a date was confirmed for the recovery ride which suddenly became a weekend event, a party, a meal and a celebration.

So that was why I picked the wife up straight from work at 5pm on the April 19th and headed for Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire. I personally had not met Tazz, we had exchanged a few texts messages and I spoke to him for the first time on that Friday morning. Many of those that were attending the recovery ride over the weekend had never met Tazz or any of the other forum members that were coming to the recovery ride event. This was simply a group of people who’s only connection is that they had a love of mountain bike riding and they were all member on the same mountain bike forum.

I am not sure of the exact number of people that attended over the weekend because some rode with Tazz on the Friday only, some rode on Saturday only and other stayed for the entire weekend but I believe the number was in the 30’s, all coming together to congratulate a guy for recovering from cancer.

While all this goodwill was going on, some low life scum bag tried to ruin it for us by stealing one guys bike that was left locked up on the cars bike rack in the car park. While it did dampen all our spirits we were determine not to let it ruin our weekend.

Saturday morning dawned brightly and I don’t mean the weather, as a surprise to Tazz we had all got bright pink (throbbing pink as Tazz called it) cycle t-shirts for the ride so there we were about 20 of us sat in the breakfast room of the hotel glowing in pink when Tazz walks in for breakfast and in totally gob smacked. Many of the other hotel guests asked us or the hotel staff what the pink t shirts were for as they came down to breakfast.

With breakfast over it was off to the car park to unload our bikes and prepare for the ride. With a car park full of pink t-shirts people passing stopped and asked us what was going on, a quick photo call in the hotels beer garden overlooking the Malvern hills and then we were off. For me one of the best moments came as we left the car park and set off up the road, being at the back I was able to get the view of a long pink snake making its way up the road. What the other road users thought was going on I am not sure but it looked impressive if nothing else. As we rode across Cleeve Hill, walkers would stop and watch as the long pink snake made its way past them.

Where we went on Cleeve Hill was an old disused quarry, Tazz had found a small plateau half way up a valley. The sun was shining to the extent that I got burnt, the weather that weekend was stunning we could not have asked for better. Remember the guy who had his bike stolen, he was not left out once up at the plateau not all of us were riding at the same time so he had the choice of well over 25 bikes to choose from to go for a ride, that may not sound anything special but bear in mind that some of these bikes were worth over £2500.

After a day in the sun we headed back to the hotel where we stunned the beer garden into total silence. Having started the ride from the beer garden it seemed a good idea to end the ride in the beer garden, the only problem with that was the beer garden was now full of members of the public enjoying an afternoon drink in the sun when suddenly 20+ mountain bikers wearing pink t-shirts descent on the bear garden, you could of cut the silence with a knife!! We decided to beat a retreat to our rooms and return to the beer garden for drinks more normally dressed.

Having had the problem the previous night with the stolen bike the police had recommended not leaving the bikes in the cars that night just encase the thiefing little scroat came back prepared to nick some more bikes so the hotel allowed us to put our bikes in the rooms, that was an interesting sight with all the bikes being wheeled through the hotel, good job they were not muddy!!

An afternoon trip into Cheltenham (to a bike shop where else) preceded the evening entertainment. First we had a speech from the editor of Mountain Bike Rider magazine who had arrived for the day with a photographer all the way from Croydon. A meal followed, then, messages of support were read out from those who, for one reason or another were unable to make the weekend. We also raised money for Tazz’s charity of choice The Shakespeare Hospice , not sure how much we have raised in the end but even guest at the hotel were donating money.

It is difficult to capture the past 8 months in a 1200 words (or more), but it will certainly be one of the more memorable moments in my life.

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frozen solid

 

No not me the bike, on Friday we had that rare thing here called snow, must have been the first decent snow fall in the area for at least 10 years, ended up with about 4 to 5 inches of snow. I would of loved to have gone out for a ride Friday afternoon but apart from working (they owe me time anyway) and the fact that I was waiting for an insurance accessors to visit and a plumber to visit (more on the later) so I had to stay in. So I was all ready to go riding on Saturday morning after we had done the shopping and running about. By the time I was ready it was mid afternoon and any rides would of led into darkness and my big light is not charged. So Sunday morning it was then, I was reasonably early with the intention of leaving as soon as it got light and that is exactly what I did. We had had no more snow since Friday night, Saturday the snow had become quite slushy and and Saturday night – Sunday morning it froze.

I gingerly rode down the centre of the road trying to avoid the patches of ice that had formed from the melting ice of Saturday. I had decided to ride over Canford Heath, I can’t make my mind up if this was a good or bad idea, the heath is a well trodden route with dog walkers, family wanders etc. all the slushy snow was frozen solid. Riding a cross the top of the heath was like riding on a cobbled street to the sound of Rice Krispies going snap, crackle and pop in your ear as the ice cracked as I rode over it. The back wheel was skipping and sliding all over the place and I was nervously trying to hold the front straight. I had a few respites from the icy cobbles but then I had to look out for sheet ice, there was still quite a lot of soft snow about but that quite often hid a muddy section underneath.

At one stage my front brake froze up after riding through a few puddles and by the time I started to make my way back I found I could not change the front dérailleur as it had frozen solid so I had a very slow pedal home. A ride that normally takes me about 1hrs 40 minutes took 3hrs today and I was knackard . Finally to make things worst, I had to put the bike away covered in mud as there was no way I could clean the bike.

Here a view of Poole from Canford Heath

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The plumber, on Tuesday we noticed that we had no hot water, heating was ok but the water was just of the chill. After the now customary argument with the utility company  about being covered for central heat breakdowns we were eventually told that we were not a priority and it could be 5 days before they could come out. Following day wife get s phone call from the plumber but she at work and so am I so we rebook for Friday. So there I was waiting for the plumber who decided not to show or even call to say why. Fortunately with the help of a friend of the wife’s on Facebook we managed to get the hot water working (and is still going), it was a stuck valve on the motorised valve.

Today this site hit the magic 10000 page views, in fact it is probably more than that as the site had been running several months before I added the counter, so I will give myself a pat on the back and thanks all those that made up those 10000 page views.

Tonight tunes comes from the aptly named Snow Patrol

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16 days

That how long it has been since I last posted on here, thing are pretty much as they were when I last posted. The wife is now a government artist , drawing the dole (an old 80’s jokes). Her 4 days work turned into three days as they got it done quicker than expected.

The weekend of the 5th, 6th and 7th May were booked to go to Tosside (Gisburn Forest)in Lancashire to meet up with some friends from a mountain bike forum. I had planned to leave early Friday morning going to our branch in Preston and then when finished head over to Tosside about 40 minutes away for a weekend of trail riding. Things did not go to plan, Thursday night I got a phone call at 9pm to say that the power had again gone off at head office (they had had power problems all day but we had been told by Eon at 5pm that everything was sorted). So a change of plans for Friday morning, I now had to get to head office before they start work on Friday morning. They start at 7:30am and I live 130 miles away, you do the sums, at least head office is sort of on the way to Preston.

I arrived just after 7am and thankfully all the servers fired up without a problem, but by now it was rush hour time so we hung around head office before hitting the road shortly after 9am and headed for the M5\M6. Preston was reached just after midday after an interesting drive through the town centre (missed turn off on M6, sat nav choose the route through town).

Things did not improve with the job I had to do at Preston, missing instructions, people not putting me through correctly on phone systems and idiots on the other end of the phone. Once everything was working (well at least my part was working) I phoned the alarm company, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get things working I was told that they would need to call me back which may be on the following Monday I told them that I would not be there on the Monday and that they can come out and resolve the problem themselves, I had had enough.

We eventually made it to the camp site by early evening, lovely and sunny but a bit windy, a small group of riders went of for a early evening ride but I decided not to go, but then I decided that I would and got changed and then headed out towards Gisburn Forest (we were and 1/2 mile from the forest). I came across the new Hope trail and headed off down the trail. The first thing I will say is it not really my sort of trail big jumps and big drop offs, not my sort of ride by I got to the bottom and met up with the riders. After a play and chat we decided to ride back up to the top and do another ride down the Hope trail. Once back at the bottom we headed back into the strong wind back to the camp-site.

Back at the camp site I came across a problem, despite filling the water tank up with water the previous night our water tank was empty, not good. In the end I used the on-site facilities and then joined everybody else for our hot pot evening meal (provided by the camp site manager). It had been a very long day so it was not long before I was heading for my bed. I wanted a good night sleep for the following mornings ride.

In the end I had a lousy nights sleep, got up with a stinking head ache. As I sat there drinking tea and feeling sorry for myself, my phone rang it was my son, “Dad we have got a leak”, then I heard my daughter in the background and my son past the phone to her. Apparently she had woken up to water coming through the bedroom ceiling in our room. We made a few phone calls and past on instructions but in the end there was only one thing we could do, go home. So we packed up, said a quick good bye to everybody and embarked on a 295 mile 6 hour drive home.

By the time we got home the leak had stopped, I was in no mood to venture into the loft so I decided that was going to be a Sunday morning job. Unfortunately at around 1am in the morning the leaking started again and in short I just lost the plot. I could not sleep in the bedroom I was curled up on the sofa and the black clouds were now at ground level.

Sunday morning dawned and I was in no mood to venture into the loft so we did the only thing we could do and called a plummer, it was a cost we could do without but we had to fix the leak. Thankfully they came out quite quickly and considering it was a call out on a bank holiday Sunday it was reasonably priced.

By now it was to late in the day to do anything so I just sat on the sofa feeling sorry for myself for missing out on the weekend.

The miserable weather has stopped me from riding lately, I went out riding this past Saturday and Sunday but both were shortish rides. I did consider riding yesterday except it rained and it rained again tonight. Tomorrows an early start, Thursday is shopping night as it is our sons birthday on Friday. So it is the weekend now before I get back on the bike.

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fresh bugs don’t taste nice

I had a plan for today, get up, breakfast, fit the new front brake to the bike, test ride the bike round the block, shopping and then out for a club ride this afternoon. What actually happen was, get up, breakfast, fit brake new to bike, take new brake off bike, fit new brake, take new brake off again, fit new brake on bike, take new brake………….. and so it went on. The problem was the brake calliper was rubbing on the brake disc. It did not matter what did I could not get it to fit. I made a phone call to my favourite bike shop to see what they said, they confirmed from my description I was doing everything right. In the end I decided to fit a new disc rotor, I was going to wait until the end of the month to buy a new one but they were cheap enough for a basic disc rotor so I opted to get one in the hope that it would solve the problem.

Back home with the new shiny rotor I quickly fitted the new rotor to the wheel refitted the wheel, fitted the brake calliper and it was still rubbing on the calliper. After checking the internet for inspiration I decided to take all the bits off and start again. It was only as I was taking the adaptor off the forks (for those non cyclist out there, there is an adaptor that fits onto the front forks that the brake calliper is bolted to), that I noticed that there was a small arrow printed on the adaptor saying up, it was currently pointing down doh! Refitted the adaptor the right way up, refitted the calliper, adjusted the fit and everything was working as it should. In my defence what I will say is the instruction that came with adaptor had drawing on showing the positioning of the adaptor on the forks, one picture showed my adaptor fitted to the forks in a position that was actually upside down. There were no specific instruction just general instruction, it was only the arrow on the adaptor which pointed out my error.

By now it was to late for the shopping or the club ride, so I opted for lunch and an afternoon ride on my own. I had been reading on the local club forum about exploring Ramsdown Forest, this is normally part of my Throop Loop ride. So I set off towards the Stour River which for a sunny afternoon was quite quiet, I was expecting a running battle with walkers and their dogs. If I need any proof that spring was here, a mouth full of bugs did that and had me grinding to a halt coughing and spluttering much to the amusement of those around me. I made it down to Throop Mill where I met two fire engines, an ambulance, ambulance car and a police car blocking the entire road. It seems as though somebody had had an accident on the river bank about half mile away and this was as close as they could get. As I crossed the bridge over the weir I could see a group of florescent green jackets down along the river bank to the west of the weir, I was heading east.

In Ramsdown Forest I decided to ride up to the view point, I have only done this once and as I want to improve my hill climbing it seemed like a good idea at the time. By the time I got to the top of was a gasping spluttering wreck again and again an amusement to those already at the top of the view point.

I took the opportunity to have a rest and take some photos (see below) before heading back down the way I came up. I did some more exploring around the forest and while I did try a couple of paths I had not ridden before none of them revealed anything special. From Ramsdown I decided to carry on like I would do on a Throop Loop and headed out towards Hurn Forest and then out onto Parley Common and home.

A very pleasant afternoon and where until near the end of the ride I actually felt I had a pair of riding legs, hopefully they will be there again tomorrow!!

Looking west towards Hurn Airport, you can just make out the roofs of building on the industrial estate alongside the airport.
Looking out towards Ringwood (hidden behind the trees) A338 in the middle ground
Looking east towards the Isle of Wight and the needles
Been a while since my bike has snuck in to a picture
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