Tag Archives: specialized

10 minutes @ Cannock Chase

The camera never lies – or so they say.  Just below (and over in the video section) is a 10 minute clip from what will be my last bash around Cannock for this year.

Need I say more ? – Your vote counts – voting instructions at the end of the video.

 

 

 


Eating on a budgie

I just read through my last post.  When I wrote that, I was sick as a dog and not running…..hmmmm, something of a theme developing here then.

To keep a long story long, on Wednesday last week, I went to Cannock Chase with Poopie Pants and my mountain bikes.  After suffering a binding front brake on all of the climbs, I finally stopped to release some hydraulic fluid and stop the bind.

It needed to be done, I had struggled to climb at the same pace as poopie, in fact, there were a couple of places that I got left behind – and as you might guess, that right pissed me off – the only person that is allowed to get left behind at Cannock is Steve Brown, because he is old and slow.

So, with some hydraulic pressure released and my front wheel now spinning free as a bird, we sat at the entrance to the only big downhill section that was open that day.  I told poopie that as this section was fast and technical, I would put my crash helmet back on.  Normally I get too hot on the climbs to keep it on and generally our uphill speeds are much safer than our downhill stuff.

Helmet on and I lead the way.  It is fair to say that all of my uphill frustration was now manifesting itself as pure leg power mixed with brain out bravery.  Like a man possessed, I took off.  I have to say at this point that Mr. Brown who we would normally consider the downhill master, would have been left in my wake.  I was on a mighty mission.  The Specialized was absorbing the bumps as if they were mere pebbles.  Jumps were fluid, air time was abundant, the landings – like a boss.  In short – I was a World Champion, flying like a recently released Banshee.

Until

Just one little mistake and 20mph in the forest on a downhill track can suddenly appear to be a tad too fast.

I couldn’t hear Rupert behind me, he hadn’t stayed anywhere near on pace.  I hit a jump with my left foot slightly out of position on the pedal which then caused the bike to veer slightly to the right from the top of the jump.

The 200 year old tree loomed in front of me.  You don’t need to be a Rocket Scientist to know that mountain bike brakes and steering have little if no effect when airborne. Instantly I knew I was in trouble.  I wasn’t going to be in the air all the way to the tree, that was obvious enough but at the side of the cycle track, at the base of the tree was the root system of the 200 year old beast.  Now I say root system but to accurately describe it I need to use a word that rarely comes out of my vocabulary locker.

These roots were gnarly roots – yep, gnarly mother fu**ers. Polished and shining at the side of the track and standing maybe half a metre above the ground and I was heading straight at them at almost 20mph.  At this point, my life didn’t flash before my eyes but instead a quiet calmness reminded be about the physics (gyroscopic effect) of a spinning wheel.  The best chance I had of survival was to continue at full speed directly at them and let the bike ‘do the work’ as it floats across the top.

For anyone that rides, drives, runs, skates, skis etc you will be aware of this theory – keep up the speed and you will be ok.  The problem is, as your brain very quickly makes the association between your speed, the obstacle in front of you and a great deal of pain when it all goes wrong. It wants to slow down as it quite rightly makes the calculation of  ‘less speed = less pain’ which is of course true but it doesn’t take into account the greater  possibility of clearing the obstacle at the higher speed and thus, no pain.

There is another part of the physics equation that I either forgot about or just didn’t have time to compute after landing very close to those gnarly mother fu**er roots.  The bunny hop.  The simple thing here was that those roots stood at around half a metre or 50cm, whereas my front axle stands around 36 or 37cm.  For the mass of my flying body and bike to have any chance of going up and over the roots, my axle (or to be more scientific, what would soon be my ‘Pivot Point’) needed to be above the gnarly mofo root height.  Without the hop, it wasn’t.

My Runkeeper GPS showed and initial speed of just under 20mph before coming to a complete and abrupt stop using only the hard forest floor as cushioning. I remember hitting the roots, then seeing the track fast approaching my face as my arms naturally stretched out to break my fall.  Then, I thought it was over as I lay in the dirt until my bike came crashing in on top of me in some sick kind of comedy fashion.

Laying on the floor like a stale sack of potatoes, I went through my self checks.  Hole in my knee, very pale skin, some blood.  Right forearm light scratching, right hand, light scratching, left foot – big toe very painful. Moaning from the shock, I continued self checks and was still in one piece.  About 15 seconds later – Poopie caught up, slowed as he negotiated the new obstacle in the middle of the track and then called out ‘Looks like I will beat you to the bottom this time’ as he released his brakes and pedaled on – the wanker!  Never even stopped to see if I was OK.  I later found out that this was because he was afraid of finding broken bones poking out of skin and general bloodiness.

Thankfully, the bike survived without damage.  I can’t say without a scratch because it is already full of them, I wouldn’t notice a new one.  It does mean however that since Wednesday last week, I haven’t been able to keep up with my run training.  I am hoping to get out again tomorrow.

 

Eating on a budget is where this all started.  I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday and looking for some baked beans.  I had a flashback to a TV program some time ago where they compared own brand foods to big label stuff.  One thing that had stuck in my mind was their baked bean experiment.  I decided to give it a go for myself.

Heinz baked beans – the main stay of any childs diet that liked to fart.  I found many variants of these on the shelf, 90p per can.  I looked around and found a Sainers own brand for 40p and then looking even further, found another Sainers own brand for just 25p.  Sneaky I thought.  But what is the nutritional comparison?  Well, this is where I got a shock.  Both the cheaper brands were  lower in Sugar and Salt – that has to be a winner right?

The taste test needed to be completed so this morning I had beans on toast.  I bought a can of each of the own brands to see what the difference was.  This morning I opted for the 25p can.  No ‘easy open’ lid so I had to get the can opener out but let me tell you – these were good.  They did in fact taste a bit sweeter than how I remember Heinz but for almost a quarter of the price, I had a healthier option.

So a can of beans for 25p, three slices of bread from my fresh loaf that cost £1 (I reckon that’s 10p a slice), a smidge of Lurpak Spreadable 5p and not including the electricity for cooking, I reckon I had a champions breakfast this morning for around 60 pence.

I ROCK !!!

 

 

This post is dedicated to Amy Horne of Leamington Spa – who despite her flatulence problem, is still brave enough to be seen in public.


Now, sit still and think about what you have just done.

Ibiza Ibiza Ibiza – what can I say ?

Do you ever miss the simplicity of childhood?  Never in my adult life has a Jam Sandwich fulfilled my dietary needs or requirements but as a kid, a jam sandwich was the perfect answer.  If I was really hungry, I would have 2.  Lunch or dinner, sometimes even breakfast – a jam sandwich was the way to go.

Later in life, our needs become more complex, the simple jam sarnie just won’t cut it any more

Ibiza – where do we begin?  Just back from a monster session on the island.  I realise that statement has many several meanings dependent on your outlook on life.  It could mean a huge piss up, a monster shagging session, a drug induced clubbing marathon or for the more musically blessed amongst you – maybe you were thinking about a live orchestral mash up.  For me, it was a 1000 mile drive, followed by a 3 ½ hour ferry ride with a 5 day sandwich of mountain biking across two of the Balearics finest islands before returning to the ferry and another 1000 mile road trip back to Brussels.

Nothing less than a red run every day, sometimes slipping onto a black run purely by accident.  Black runs make Rupert moan even more than red runs, and I thought making Rupert moan more was impossible – I achieved it on more than one occasion.  Next time I am going to pretend they are all red runs and head directly for the blacks.

Both bikes and riders have survived the tortuous week in mid 20º’s temperatures, dusty tracks, high speed runs (70kph or 43mph), two Balearic Islands of Formentera and Ibiza (in the same day, end to end and back again), covered just over 300km (188 miles) and climbed a total of 4800m (15,750 feet). The climbing was a particular highlight of mine.  Being both an avid thrill seeker and eternal optimist I have finally realised that climbing a mountain track in order to find the perfect downhill section on the other side, is nothing more than a fable.  The fact that you have to hold your bike above your head to clear the shrubbery while scrambling on loose rocks that even the most hardened hikers would find a challenge has not deterred me.  Reaching the top of the climb to look down into the opposing valley and realise that after that harsh ½ hour uphill climb with my bike – there is no golden path back down, no flowing sweepers where I might crack a new top speed record, no stunning scenery, no jumps, no nothing except the exact same condition that I have just endured on the way up, I now have to endure on the way down, bike held high above my head to make it through the plants all the way back down to the valley floor.  The only compensation is knowing that no-one will have ever been stupid enough to have taken a bike up there before.  It did remind me of a weekend in Genoa when I met a dog walker as I rode to the foot of the climb to the peak.  Even in Italian I understood him when he said you can’t get up there on a bike.  I smiled to myself and thought ‘ Oh yes I can – I am Johnny English’.  He was dead right of course, I carried my bike pretty much from the point where we passed each other, nearly all the way to the summit and then all the way back down the other side.

The tracks generally were very entertaining even though they took some navigating.  In true Spanish tradition, they started with something gold, got to the lunch time siesta and came back in the afternoon with corruption and nepotism to drag them down out of the top spot into a non podium finish.  The Balearics at its best and most natural – corrupt and nepotistic.  Signage and directions went from being too good to being non existent.  I don’t mind the adventure of navigation, I just think that riding a signed route shouldn’t be broken up with the need to look at maps and mobile phones to decide which way to turn at a junction. I wonder if any of the local government officials have completed these routes recently to see how good they are.

There – moan out of the way (that’s going to happen after a week with Poopie).  Apart from a few ‘minor’ navigational issues, the week was as epic as it ever could have been for two first timers there.  There is always room for improvement with experience, so next time, we will know a little bit more about what we are doing – whether we choose to apply that knowledge is a different matter, and in all honesty, highly unlikely.  All in all, I give Ibiza a big thumbs up as a biking destination.

Now lets get to the new videos.  There are 5 new uploads this week for your viewing pleasure.  Generally 1 from each day except day 4.  After covering over 140km on day 3, I had no energy left to keep switching on the Go Pro and capturing what we were doing.  In fact, day 4 was noticeably slower anyway so not worth covering.  The final day, I just lumped loads of long bits together and laid over some Ibiza modern classics – my mac could no longer keep up with my editing requests and was failing fast.

This alone, in the coming weeks will spark another mac v laptop debate as my admiration for all things Apple has been gradually eroding over the last 12 months or so.

So whats next for me?  I will tell you – pizza, cup of tea, afternoon of Xbox live then a run in the forest before sampling the taste of the long awaited 2014 Duvel Tripel Hop.

Sadly next week – I have to return to work

 

Don’t forget to watch the latest 5 videos.  Roll your cursor over the ‘Video’ tag at the top of this page, turn up the volume and enjoy.  Remember, all of these videos were filmed in HD on Ibiza or Formentera in real time.  There are parts where may think that they have been sped up but this is not the case.

A quick chance for you to welcome my 30th subscriber to these hallowed pages, please welcome Armada Boat Hire, from sunny Warwickshire.  I wonder if we can get 10 more subscriptions before our 10th birthday next year?

 

No Animals were harmed or unduly distressed during the making of these videos……………..  Well,  maybe one exception.

 

 


Red Snot

Americans huh – they have either got guns or Aids – some even have both!

I had a wander around the Big Apple today, or as I think it should be called – The Big Cluster Fuck! Maybe New Yoike as they say it here isn’t quite so bad, maybe its just more of the fact that I am not a fan of cities. The subway (that´s aparently not something you use for crossing a busy road) was very confusing – see, I am a great fan of the London Underground, where you choose the line by colour, walk down to the platform and there are two options, lets say Northbound and Southbound, and just to make it even simpler it gives you the final destination too so it is easy to know where you are going – here in Yoike, I am still at a loss.  I did manage to buy a week long pass though, for the very cheap sum of 29 dollars.  The subway has to be the only way to go though, the roads seem to be permanently gridlocked.

Hardly surprising though – when the names of the streets are stupid – West 59th Street East & Wall Street for gods sake ! Then there’s 79th Street and the Hudson River – No wonder Sully touched down on the water, I think he had lost his way a little.

I did make it to the Empire State Building today.  The lift went up so quickly my ears popped.  You have all seen those lift counters counting up the floors each floor at a time?  Well, this one was so quick it went in tens. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 !!  I had to take 2 more lifts to get up to the 109th floor – and I can tell you it was bloody windy up there!

I also managed a trip to ground zero where the World Trade Centre once stood.  We can all remember where we were and what we were doing when that news broke. The city streets are small around that area – it was easy to imagine just how horrific that time must have been.

The new towers are going up now, I think they are calling them Freedom Towers, looking all nice and shiny too.  Don’t suppose it will be too long before someone takes a pop at them too.

Tomorrow I might head to Liberty Island or up to the war ship along the river – they have a submarine there too.  Machines of War ! Times square is on the list too, as is Madison Square Garden.  Of course, I will do Central Park but we are moving up the river on Tuesday and will be 3 blocks away so I intend to run and cycle the park – dodging bullets, bandits and baddies.

New running shoes today too, my Saucony Triumph 9’s are seriously munted after less than 200 miles so after a decade of Saucony – I have switched brands.  I also had two new wheels for the mountain bike courtesy of Specialized.  After a problem with the rear hub that they couldn’t replace, they agreed to the shop buying me two other wheels and fitting them – so I now have SRAM rims front and rear.  Had a quick 26 mile burn on it yesterday and it felt good.  It was beginning to feel a bit harder to pedal – at the time I thought it was me just getting worn out but no,  bent axle and extra bearing friction were the cause.

My route was a little curious.  I wanted to cross the George Washington bridge, and I did manage it too but not without cycling through one of those areas where I did think I would get shot while dodging the pats of human shit left behind by the crack heads. I was pleasantly surprised when I got out of there and back along the river – life is just one great big adventure!

I have added a few more photos – strangely enough, in the photo album called ‘America 2012’ feel free to take a look but give me an hour or so to upload them first.


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