Monday, 25 April 2011

Ride, ride, ride, ride.





























































































































































































It's a Bank Holiday weekend. The sun is out. Conditions offroad are about as good as they get (especially around here); beech leaves are that budfresh® acid green, great lakes of bluebells in every copse, dirt dry with enough dust to leave a rime around socks and shorts, wildlife in abundance and apparently as drunk with the excessive loveliness of it all as I am. Better ride then.

Helping friends move and chores at home keep me sensibly out of the sun during the hours that a Southern peely wally like me ought to be and riding is fitted into every other daylight orifice.

Time is made to sniff out new trails (and today, lanes) and old places not visited recently enough. A visit to see friends (fellow VCMers Gareth and Lisa) in Surrey means a jaunt around stupidly fun trails there too followed by beers and chilli in front of Liege-Bastogne-Liege (Mr Gilbert's having a good week, eh?).

To top it off, today I meandered over to the Thames on lanes mostly known and some nose-followed. One memorably so little used as to have singletrack on either side of a mossy bank down the centre leading to two-inch deep pea-gravel-wash-off at the bottom. Should make an appearance on the Chill-ton, that one...

Thoroughly decompressed.

Monday, 18 April 2011

A new kit is born...

The all new VCM kit is now well on the way to our backs/backsides.


Deano's designs have worked their way through Endura's graphics team and the print shop and have now been printed onto paper. The prints head on to the heat presses to be transferred onto lycra pieces by a special blend of magic. These then get passed to the line and sewn into our kits.


Boom!

bikelove

its been a while since there was any bike porn on here so I will endeavour to rectify this, some alterations since the build(mainly that paranoia stack of headset spacers) but its came together nice, now to find some time to ride the lovely thing. A big thank you firstly to Will at Cadence Bikes in Bath and of course uncle Carl at Bikelove

bike + love

and talking of riding bikes, watch this space for the inaugural 'Midsummer Moulin Ton' details very soon once the route is finalised but the smart among you should be able to work out the gist of this!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Tour of Flanders Sportive.. Loving the cobbles..

Its taken me nearly a week to find the time to sit down and write this blog post...

After the madness of the Flanders weekend I came home to England to the best week of weather I can remember for a long time so every spare minute has been taken up with riding :)

The idea to go and ride the Tour of Flanders sportive had been brewing for a while.. work has an office in Brussels and one of the guys that worked there was a cyclist so the opportunity to organise some inter office training and combine it with a weekend of riding was not to be missed.

This was my first trip to Belgium and it didn't dissapoint ... it wasn't all waffles and frites as I had been lead to believe but the first few hours riding there after work on the thursday before the sportive gave a taste of the cobble and climbs to come.

The weather for the sportive was immense.. 25 plus degrees... 7am start from Bruge saw us roll out with hundreds of riders..

Without giving a blow by blow account of the ride the day was fantastic... for some reason I didn't figure on the long flat cobble sections that would have to be ridden.. make no mistake pro's make it look easy but cobbles are brutal and can only be tackled in the big ring and with best choice of line.. when in a bunch of riders you take the line you are given.

The sportive is race distance at 260km ... but you don't really get into the thick of the cobbled climbs until 170km in when you hit the Pattenberg.. then the Koppenberg... both 20% plus climbs and luckily the extra distance had thinned the field so myself and work colleague Bruno got to ride them .. unfortunately the other guys riding the 150km had to walk them due to traffic.








Rate this as probably one of the best days in a bike i've ever had.. the sun was out.. new bike was flying.. the course was amazing and the company was good.

Huge thanks to Bruno Stuyts, a work colleague, friend and all round good guy who helped out with all logistics even setting up free accommodation for a few nights.. hoping to get back to Belgium soon for more riding.

hell of the tweed



1100: 7 VCMers roll out to tackle the inaugral 'Hell of the Tweed' ride. 1102: Greigs crank parts company with bike. 1115: replacement bike sorted and back on our merry way.

Several gates negotiated then onto the main climb of the day up Glensax Valley. Then the 'hell' part, a 45min humph a bike upto Birkscairn Hill. I'm regretting bringing my jumpy (hefty) bike. Simon talks lots and my mind forgets about the humphing. It's a sod of a climb but the others are polite after a few varying line choices we all make the ridge.

Bit more climbing to the summit of Birkscairn, then rutty,rapid, rocky, holey goodness down the other side. Ian seems well chuffed with the descent. Climbing again upto Kirkhope Law then descend,descend descend; Chris M 'rails' the ruts in front with style and speed. Happy. Cheeky little ridge addition with nadge, narrow, heather singletrack descent and back on to the main track.

Gates opened for uninterrupted descending bring more smiles. Brief panic over a dropped phone then relief as Chris D finds it sitting around the front of his gilet! Lucky!

A final little loop of some trails in Southpark woods to finish the legs off then back for the last 30km of Paris Roubaix and food.

Thanks to Marty, Chris M, Chris D, Simon, Ian and Greig for coming down and for being so polite about the bloody hike a bike! and to Rossie for the food.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

FBROTY - Westhighland Way Weekender




Hamish, Dan and I got the Friday evening train to the Fort only to be met by the Lochaber Drug Squad and dog team. Want to know how to put a sniffer dog off the scent? It will cost you...

Chups found and eaten then a short ride in the dark to the Ben Nevis Inn bunkhouse. Breakfast fail. Rescued by some of Hamish's mighty homemade energy bars and some 'borrowed' instant coffee.

We make tracks for the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven. Chups, breakfast rolls and first effective coffee of the day. Wobble off up over the hill and down [via a wee wheel swallowing snow incident] the Dei'ls Staircase.



No time for anything else but some water at the Kingshouse and on to attack the climb past the ski area to the wide, wild expanse of Ranoch Moor.

Well, when I say attack... I mean more powered by Ventolin.

Bridge of Orchy! Sweet bunkhouse and bar tick past at gin o'clock but we must ride on by with dark thoughts about when we will get to tonights rest stop - the Beinglass Campsite at the top of Loch Lomond.

Tyndrum conundrum: a quick snack from the mini-mart or Chups and Stuff from the realfood place. A compromise is settled on as we sup our take out double espressos on the doorstep of the cafe and eat our various mini-mart confections. It is around 2 hours to sleepy place from here and we expect night fall around Crianlarich. Best get going...

Most folks will have a view on the least enjoyable bits of the WHW. Many pinpoint the trail North of Inversnaid to the Bothy. I don't mind that - it has its frustrations but it is at least a scenic place to be. My personal hell exists between the A82 and A82 south of Crianlarich. The push-ups in the pine forest and the cowshit besmirched farm tracks. Oh. and it got lights-on dark here. Thankfully the trail is not so technical that a bar mounted joystick was just about able to cope.

Twelve hours on the dot and we three rock up to collect the keys to our hut, dump the bikes, pull on a clean buff and head over to the Drovers Inn for a much needed dinner and beer amonst the amusing taxidermy and one man hard rock cover band.

Sunday comes an hour sooner and we have a later start needing to wait for a cooked breakfast at the Drovers. Fun trails abound down lochlomondside. In the sun and the dust we link a tea break at Inversnaid with a coffee and crisps at Balmaha chewing over the question of Conic Hill.

I was up for it as the views are amazing for relatively little effort and the descent is always an engaging bumpy-scrapy rattle. Hamish didn't say no. Dan had no previous, so it was on.

Photos = words.



As we circled around to the outskirts of Drymen the scenery changed again and we entered the final phase of the way - silence fell as we ground out the scant few easy miles back to Milngavie - savouring the buff loam of Riverside in perfect condition as a final singletrack fling in the failing light.

Lights on again for the final road scoot in to Glasgow. It seems apt that my light gives out 5 minutes from Queen Street Station as do my legs...

Food. Train. Home. Beer. Sleep.

Weekend done.

Cross or Tunnel?


I was overdue a spot of Cross action.


Would you cross the rickety bridge?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Goatee of Filth



Thanks to everyone that came up, down and across for this. Thanks also to dRj0n for the photos.

Good clean fun on Ronde van Vlaanderen day, will be replaced with a dirty, filthy tarmac / dirt road mix for Paris-Roubaix next year. No cyclocross bikes.

We'll also be doing a little homework on bunch riding etiquette for the mountainbikers... ;)


















The Cycling Bible - as featured on Singletrackworld.com