Friday, 3 December 2010

Well that'll be the winter started then. Last year we had a "big" winter, it started about Christmas, snowed massively and carried on like that until about March, great skiing, but very bad if you make your living building and even trying to survey mountain bike trails.
But hey, no need to worry, a winter like that won't happen again for years. Wrong. This picture was taken last Friday (26th November) and that may be the last day of construction work this year. Bad. The problem is I'm a keen skier, actually, when the powder is deep and untracked I could be called an addict. So on the one hand I stare out of the office window willing it to snow harder and on the other I'm slowly watching my livelihood disappear.
Even non machine based jobs are fast disappearing, it's hard to design and plan a trail when your clients land is under 80cm of snow - that's assuming you can actually get anywhere on out crippled road network - main roads ok-ish, backcountry B roads - nightmare.
4 wheel drive and snow tyres are great up to a point, but with the depth of snow now lying around pushing on to reach work sites is just a bit too silly.
Soooo, take care of office based projects that you were storing for the winter (?) shovel snow and look after the family, ski whenever possible and just go with the flow, after all, you can't argue with mother nature.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Is it done yet?

Normally having riders hanging around or riding trail as it's being built is a right pain - Health & Safety matters and on brand new "delicate" surfacing i.e. too wet, too dry or recently thawed, it damages the trail, but on this project it's kinda fun.
This trail is for these guys, so whether they're on bmx's, jumpy hardtails, dh rigs or cross bikes (?) I like to listen to what they've got to say. It's nice to have riders, who you know are dying to get on the trail and ride it, politely hanging back, just waiting until you say ok to give it a go.
The tyre marks left overnight make for an interesting read next morning, no panic braking and tracks "right down the middle" show the designs working, sometimes it even highlights "cheat" lines that I hadn't seen, which means we can do something about it there and then - all good on trails that have to squeeze as much as possible out of a small area.
All in all a good week, the frosts have been mild (once the ground and materials freeze up you're buggered!) no major rain and in fact the biggest issue is the amount of leaves we have to keep clearing out of our way - this is the first time I've ever seen a leaf blower used on a trailbuild! Other projects are coming in, which being design and planning jobs, should allow for a nice little buffer of office time should the winter close down builds like last year. In fact the smart money would be to not plan for any winter builds. Skiing's already started on our local hill, but at this time of year I still prefer to use any "spare" time to grab some cycling miles, lord knows if we have a winter like last year we'll soon be forced onto the treaded "turbo".

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A cracking week work wise, good progress up in Alness, good news on the funding front for a local project and a couple of juicy leads to follow up, oh and a major feasibility report finally done (haven't typed so much in ages).
Hopefully now I can squeeze some riding in somewhere, the bikes always in the van, but even I sometimes can't find time in a busy day to ride and before you know it another week's gone by with no proper saddle time. I had hoped to race a cyclo-cross race this weekend, but no time to ride in the last week or so has severely dented my racing "edge", what with that and working in the evenings to catch up on report writing means I just didn't fancy a 5 hour round trip for a forty minute race. These bloody "Scottish" cross races are just all so far away - I might have to dip my toe in the race organising arena and get one sorted for up here. I think I'll just have to admit the season is over and get the mudguards fitted!
Winter has suddenly arrived anyway and much as I love all things bike I always will lust after a "big" winter, in my wildest dreams I couldn't imagine another winter as good as last year, but it's already snowy on Cairngorm, enough for skiing, enough for the old excitement to start bubbling up again, enough to start reading ski reviews and checking the winter kit is all ready. Well Sunday night, better load up the van for another week, turn this computer off and try to get to bed early - bypassing the XFactor / Strictly exclusion zone (front room)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Back to trail building

Ok, I'll be the first to admit it, I've spent too long planning or directing (standing around) trail builds, but for the latest job I'm pitching in with the team to make sure we're all done before Christmas - and the possible return to an Arctic winter! So it's no surprise that proper grafting has come as something of a shock to my bike conditioned (skinny) body. I love this wee project; an interesting site, a feature packed design, jumps, rocks, North-Shore, a good client and above all a good team. I've missed real trail building; flagging, felling, digging, woodwork and using the machinery are all tasks that keep the "consultancy" part of my work grounded with what can actually be done on the ground. I'm mean it's all very designing a trail, but if you don't know how to actually build it then you'll never know what's really "do-able" - like when you ask a digger driver to build a rock staircase on a 45º slope in tight trees. Well done Chris! But, grafting, plus clocks going back has left me with no daylight, or more truthfully, energy for training - turbo? I don't think so! Hopefully, I'll get sorted to do some lunchtime rides with the local riders next week, but at the moment next weekends cyclo-cross race at Lochore Meadows looks like a trundle round in the middle of the pack sort of a race. Oh and I noticed the 'Puffer entries are on line now, still undecided about that race, but at least the Solo's now full - that's that decision made!

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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Ok, I've been a bit slack with blog updates - sorry. But what with work, school holidays, family holidays, being knackered at night.... etc, etc.
So, it's been a busy time, I don't know whether it's the website, or authorities just trying to get something done before all the money dries up - gulp, but there's quite a few jobs on the cards at the mo'.
Problem is I don't really want to go into them here, it's part of the process of the whole feasability, planning, funding, process and discussing a clients "possible" project on line is just not good.
But, most of the jobs are at the "figuring it all out" stage which is the trickiest bit for me, kinda like an artist or writer staring at a blank page! In my case I have to walk the area available for as many times as it takes to really get to know all it's nooks, crannies and hidden secrets, once I've done this I spend ages just trying to link the best bits together in the best way.
It's a hell of a responsibility really; I have to figure out what will work, how it would be built, costs, who's it for, will they like it, is it safe, will it be fun, is it sustainable....... There's lots of just sitting on top of hills thinking.
I'm lucky that simply by doing this for quite a few years now I know what does and doesn't work, but the early design stages are always the hardest, get the "flow" wrong and no matter how well it's built it'll never be any good. I think being older *cough* helps, I used to just think of the expert trail riders, but now I know what the family user needs (or more specifically the frustrated dad of the family user!)
Technology helps nowadays though, I'm more computer "savvy", my computer and software allow me to work faster and produce slicker reports, photos can be taken and easily imported, almost even whilst still on the hill, and the iphone (sorry, shameless plug, but it really has proved invaluable) allows me to record grid references, gradients, gps traces, take pictures all in one gadget - it really is amazing compared to having to carry a theodolite, measuring wheel, clinometer, gps, etc, etc. Ok, those gadgets have their place later on, but for the initial survey, light and fast is good!
So, work, interesting and enough on the horizon to feel "relaxed"
Bikewise, welllllllllll, a wee lay off after the 3 Peaks, family time, mainly bike free holiday and now itching to do something again. I would dearly love to do a "proper" cyclo-cross race, but most of them are in the central belt - 3 odd hours away and weekend family time is busy enough as it is. But I've picked one or two that are closer - 2 hours and hopefully I'll manage to get to them. Training wise, cyclo-cross should be ok as most races are only about an hour, so training time needs only be short'n'hard i.e. squeezed in anywhere.
But and it's only a but, there's a part of me thinking about the StrathPuffer, never fancied it before - not fit enough, but with a wee bit of form now, maybe I should give it a go? Problem is once there's snow on the ground my ski head goes on and spare time equals skiing!
Well, that's a bit of a catch up, nights closing in, lights now needed for evening runs and I'm just about to start a new trail build just in time for the wet yeuch that is November.....

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Big Post 3Peaks De-brief

Ok, that was an education! The start, the steepness of those hills, the other competitors, the descents, the supporters, all these things made for a truly overwhelming experience.
In my past I've raced road and mtb to a reasonable standard and further back been a fairly quick long distance runner, but nothing really prepared me for my first encounter with the 3 Peaks.
I had read all the info including the various blogs on Dave Haygarths 3Peaks blogsite and had trained reasonably well, but even so my first encounter with Ingleborough was a shock; the way what seemed like half the field accelerated away from me on it's foot hills made me doubt if I'd even break into the top 100. The descent was fun though and I managed to make up a few places before we hit the road and here I luckily hooked in with a group of fairly like minded chaingang experienced roadie types - through and off - good lads. But whoah, no-one really warned me about the second hill; yes, Ingleborough this, Simons Fell that, but hang on a mo', steps, steps, steps, nooo that wasnae what I wanted! Jings, what a slog, really wasn't ready for that. And the descent, well, whilst I was showing off my mastery of riding the rock armoured path fast, I was aware of riders flying past to left and right on the grass! Buggers, local knowledge be damned. Back on the road and again caught up with a a few guys keen to work hard, so we quickly despatched the road section to Pen Y Ghent. This last climb was better, as I managed to ride a good long way up to the last steep snap, aided by the terrific crowds cheering on anyone who passed. Amazing. Luckily on this final descent I followed someone who seemed to know where they were going and had a really nice fast clean descent back to the road. The last road section was a sprint all the way, I had a wee bit left in me so pounded the 50x12 round, passing a couple (or three?) to cruise in to a 3.52
Happy, aye, but........ I finished too strong, the first climb really rocked me back and I think I was a wee bit cautious with my exertions after that, knowing that I hadn't really got the measure of the challenge ahead.
I'll be back, me and those hills have some unfinished business!

What's done is done

Well that's the training done. Is it enough, no, is it as much as I could have done, yes.
The last hard week, pushed the "training envelope" out to eight and a half hours, not a lot to some people, but probably one hour too much in my family/work/life delicate balance.
I must admit to being selfish in the last week; I really wanted three hard sessions, 1 x 3hr, 2 x 2.5hr and a 30 min run and no-one was stopping me, cue a few tense "are you going out again" moments and my short temper with the young un's (so tired by the weekend). This added to my strict diet has made my wife wonder if it's all worth it. I mean it's not like I'm a contender or anything, it's just that this race has really got under my skin!
What will all this hard won training yield? I have no idea, as a first timer sub 4 hr would be nice, but unsupported means a Camelbak, and mechanicals will have to be fixed as no spare wheels or bike.
Actually the bike needs those Landcruisers fitted, otherwise it's all good to go, but it's bloody heavy - 22lbs on the local bike shops scales, jings, my full suss' 29er only weighs 2 odd pounds more!
So, just a few moderate sessions and some easy spins on the bike this week, "resting", dodging anyone that so much as sniffles near me, oh and no "comfort" eating either…… see you there.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Push push push

Aye, everything got pushed this week; my body, my bike and my cross riding skills. With two hard training weeks left til the final "taper" week, I knew some pain had to be had. So; some hard hill running intervals, long cross rides on rocky mountain terrain, long slog hill intervals, short "sprinty" bike carrying sessions, roadie speed work and descending rocky tracks fast. Work, calorie counting and family eventually caught up with me, and after a sleepless midweek night due to a sick kid, Thursdays big hill sesh' of Bynack Mor, Cairngorm and the Burma road felt really, really hard, like shouting "F*CK OFF" into the headwind hard! Mr Haygarth, a seasoned 3Peaks'er reminded me not to train when you've not slept, advice that I normally give to others, but when caught in a tight schedule I just ignored my own common sense and trained on. Got away with it, just, by eating well that night (having pudding!) and bed by 9. Friday was just for fun, a blast round Laggan Wolftrax on the cx bike, cruising up the climbs and bombing down on the (ragged) edge of control, until the inevitable metallic clang of rim hitting rock and my first snakebite puncture in years and that's with the tyres pumped up to 70 odd psi. Landcruisers ordered and 100 psi will be going in them! But how I'd love to use tubs or tubeless. Weight bang on target, no illness and no injuries - apart from my bumpy collarbone which really doesn't like my toptube, toughen up or pipe lagging?

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Location:The Strath

Monday, 6 September 2010

And so the days tick down

After a bike free weekend, albeit with a nice wee fell running session squeezed in, it had to be a hard one today. 34 miles, 4003' and 3 hrs later, job done.
A bike/carry up Bynack Mor, then the same up to Coire Cas on Cairngorm, a lap of Badaguish xc course then a bike/carry up the steep bit on Craigellachie, all mixed up with as fast as you can road bits in between.
Nicely knackered after that and struggled a bit with the rest of the day! But, no cramps or "must just lie down" feelings, so not too bad.
What's worrying me is I'm 4 miles and 1000' short of race distance. Must try harder. Times running out though!

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

3 weeks to go and getting worried...

MTB race on Sunday, laying slabs Monday, a couple of hours on easy tracks on the cross bike Tuesday, Wednesday rest, so today I felt like turning the screw and hitting the big hills. Our local pain venue is the climb up the Burma road, a bitch on mtb gears, so perfect for a cyclocross bike hurtfest. A ten minute warm up from the house to the foot of the climb, a wee stretch after the hillroad gate, gilet off, start the lap timer and up we go. Gotta simulate race pressure, so hit it hard, then try and settle down into a rhythm. It's a long slog, thirty odd minutes and the tracks pretty loose and rubbly, so can't even stand to ease the legs and back, just got to sit and grind, "spin", I wish. Up a few gears over the top, a wee out of the saddle effort, gilet on, no-handed - "Tour de France stylee", then straight down the other side, turn round and do it all again... Three weeks to go, no cake reward and thinking I should "beast it" for at least another 10 days.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

I'm a bike racer again. After several years off, I decided to dip my toe back into the frenzied waters of vets sxc mtb racing. The Laggan course is local and the course was going to be a harder, more natural one than previous years, which appealed to me, as manmade ones are just like work (!) I also fancied a change to my current 3Peaks cyclo-cross training of running up very steep hills carrying the bike!
However, the powers that be deemed the course too hard for xc and "pulled" the major downhill section, on the eve of the race. I'm obviously out of touch with the current xc scene as I thought riders in this day and age would be "rad" enough to cope. I mean aren't the youth coming through being reared on a diet of riser bars, fat tyres, discs and "hucking" sick (sic) lines? On a more serious note, the head commissar had worries about casevac - fair enough, but shouldn't there be guidelines about this for course setters? Anyhoo, Lindsay of Basecamp worked into the night re-jigging the alignment to tame things down, well done, Lindsay.
I could see my locals advantage slipping away! I was really nervous pre-race, being so long out of competition, knowing I don't get as many miles in as I used to and just all that pre-race "stuff" buzzing around my head. A good warm up settled me down and I tried to muscle forward in the line up. Bugger, the start was a shock to the system, everyone tore off, my heart rate max'd out and all I could think about was how the hell was I going to maintain this. Gulp. But. Once we all piled into the downhill the fun started, crashes left right and centre and from then on in I had no idea who I was racing or what place I was in!
Generally it settled down into slog up hill and then tear back down slipping and sliding past anyone in front. Luckily I heard the announcer mention I was in fourth and realised I could out descend the third placed man just up ahead, so I was able to finish with a wee "the race is on" buzz. Ace. Loved it a lot. Next please.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Bugger. I've just been informed by the road race organiser that I can't race on a day licence, which I had been told would suffice. Bum. Now there's not time to get a licence, and have you seen the BCF website? flipping nightmare to find out just what you need, how is anyone meant to easily get into this sport. Anyway, buying a year membership then a licence on top of that just for one race - I don't think so. Ok, so as a an ex roadie I should have known better, but I just fancied a race having started to get some decent training in and as a wee tester on my way to the goal of the 3Peaks cyclo cross race. This race was local-ish (where I live sub 2 hrs is local!) and having checked with the race organiser I was assured that a day licence would be ok, but now it's not... Alternatives, none really, there is an SXC mtb race in Perth, but they cost waaaay too much to enter for the "pleasure" of getting changed at the side of the F.C. road, charging around some ad-hoc course for 1 hour 40 mins then driving home wet and muddy, no showers, not even a free cup of tea and a piece of cake. Would someone explain why mtb races are £30? So, come Sunday morning I'll just head out for a good long sesh' on the cx bike. Feel a bit silly I shaved my legs now!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Well, the time has come to rid the legs of several years of growth; aye road racing is back in my life and say what you want, you do not turn up to the Scottish Vets Championships with hairy legs - the commissars would probably just send me home. I've never had a problem with the whole roadie leg shaving thing (apart from that wee bit behind the knee!), regardless of the whys and wherefores, it's just what you do. I even did it for mtb races, it's part of my pre-race ritual, hairless legs = race pain! Those mtb'ers that have a problem with it should study the history of road racing, they are the real hard men, not the trail centre weekend warriors wrapped up in body armour (?!) on their 6" travel earth movers. Anyhoo, I've squeezed in all the training I can, not enough to win, but hopefully enough to be in the fight and am now "tapering". As this is my first road race since marriage and kids I'm getting quite nervous, I know it's going to "really" hurt and I haven't felt that on a bike for years now.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A blog a month, doesn't seem hard - does it? Well it is in my world! Last month I quoted that the trails are riding so fast that a change to "quicker" tyres was on the cards - hahaha, stop that foolishness. The Scottish summer is back to normal with day after day of rain, muddy(ish) trails and generally "dreich" and chilly weather. So what do I do, decide to enter the 3 Peaks cyclo-cross race, that's what. This race is the hardest cyclo-cross race in the world (allegedly) and is 38 miles long, of which just over half is off road, involves 5000' of climbing, 7 odd k's of carrying (eh!) and looks like a right good old pain-fest.
Now although I have been sneaking in a lot more roadie miles than the past few years and almost all of last year was dedicated to distance running (no time for decent bike rides) I have never ridden a cross bike off-road in anger. Yes, I've got a crosser, but it see's duty as a winter training bike, decked out in mudguards and roadie gears (53/39 - 12-23) so plainly I have some work to do here.....
First, sort out the bike; the headset, wheels, brakes, sitting and holding bits are ok, but the drivetrain needs serious thought. After a lot of research on Dave Haygarths excellent 3 Peaks blog site I figured some lower than normal cross gears are required, but how to achieve this - without the budget of Nick Craig's XX gruppo. Well, I thought I could bodge it with all the mtb cast offs in the garage, but trying to integrate old STI's and new mtb bits was never going to happen, so I gave in, researched new stuff and plumped for SRAM (would have liked Campag, but there you go)
Secondly, start getting more cross specific with the training and this for me means learning to "gracefully" dismount and mount (cue comedy crashes), run up hills carrying a bike and actually ride off-road with skinny tryes, canti's and drop-bars. Actually I am really enjoying the challenge of off-roading on a cross bike, makes jumping back on the mtb seem like wrapping yourself up in cotton wool.
Training with all the usual family and work pressures is never easy, but luckily all the endurance stuff is largely done and I can now concentrate on shorter, harder rides and runs.
I don't know why, but I really enjoy long hill intervals - weird?
As intermediate training goals, I've entered a roadie race (Scottish vets champs - oooh that'll be aggressive!) and an mtb race - the local sxc @ Laggan, all good stuff.
Works getting busier with the consultancy stuff tailing off into actual builds soon, so time management's going to get tricky, especially with us all needing a summer family holiday, hmmm, take bike.
So the pic of my old fell running shoes, they've been seeing action again and truth be told I still quite enjoy running in the hills (minus bike on shoulder!) the hamstrings don't, but they'll come round eventually.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Jings, a month since my last post; kids, kitchens, work and riding make time disappear! Being a mountainbike trail designer isn't that eco friendly, I've been all over Scotland and Northern England racking up the miles in the van, seeing clients, reccé-ing sites and doing far more consultancy than building. To redress this I've been down at the local trail centre doing F.C. required inspections, raking, pruning and some minor hand repairs, plus some proper "trail fairy" work on my local favourites. The trails are riding beautifully at the moment, fast, grippy and flattering, so much so that I'm entertaining thoughts of taking off the big Panaracer 2.35 Rampages and putting on some fast summer treads (that'd be the kiss of death to the nice weather and I do love the confidence the big fat Rampages give me) hmmmmm, no rush.
I don't know how I've managed, but since the last post I've managed to clock up some almost respectable roadie mileages and am starting to feel stronger on both bikes. I loved the winter of skiing, but I'm a bike rider first and foremost and it's lovely to be back to some sort of decent riding fitness. Hammering along singletrack in the big ring - it's what makes me happiest, I'm even harbouring thoughts of dipping my toes back into the manic world of veterans xc racing, but only if I can keep up; those boys are old hands, fit as elites, shaven legs everywhere and not keen to yield the racing line! But the Tallboy deserves to be raced, it's really what it's for.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What's With This Weather!!!

It's May and therefore the 2 pairs of shoes on the right should be getting used i.e. lightweight road and mtb carbon fibery things, instead the two pairs on the left are back in service i.e. the full on wintery, thermal, Goretexy things! It's hard finding the motivation for yet another wet and cold 3 hour road ride, but I do want to be race fit before the end of the season!
Work at the mo' is a mixture of trail surveys for up and coming projects interspersed with the inevitable hours on the computer typing up reports or trying to do costings for clients. Trail building is not all rakes, spades and diggers! Unfortunately. Well, maybe it's not a bad thing, because this weather is far too cold for enjoying groundworks!
The new website is up and running, I'm very pleased with it - cheers Stuart @ webhighland! It's already generated some interesting new leads, but I'll let you know about them if they ever come off - v' exciting stuff though......

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A great week; did some hand maintenance on Laggan Wolftrax trails, got two good long bike rides in - one road, one mtb, some office based pre-project stuff and a lovely visit to see how the Knoydart Trust trail is coming on.
On the down side, my bum is still a long way from being "at one" with my trusty old saddles - which were perfectly comfy before the winter, but 12 odd skiing weeks later are causing me untold grief. Flite saddles have been under me for 15 odd years now, so I doubt it's them, just my lack of saddle time - need to get some Assos MAL.... Oh and our carefully structured bedtime routine for our two young boys has slipped slightly, with the nice n easy "all quiet by 7.30" replaced by "aaaaaaaaagh" til nearly 9 some nights - bang goes evening rides! Interesting things afoot, I'll let you know if they come come to fruition.

Friday, 23 April 2010

One week now with the Tallboy and I can report it's very good! Without rehashing all the usual 29er benefits, I can say that even ignoring the big wheel issue it's still very good! The frame is laterally very stiff and this combined with the short chainstays makes powering out of corners great fun. Suspension wise it's plush and active, which as someone who likes to sit and spin proves a real boon when climbing rooty rocky trails, it certainly feels like a very good 100mm. It is very nimble without being twitchy at speed; the front end can really be chucked into corners, it's just soooo much fun to really lean the bike in and let it carve round - it really is the best "carving" bike I've ever had (skiers will know what I mean!) So, it climbs technical terrain well, effortlessly covers rough ground and descends like a bigger trail bike and it's very light! It makes me want to ride more.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Winer Training, it's meant to be hard - right?

Ooookaaay, so I've found a small training window in my busy day, its just above freezing, its blowing a hooly out of the north and I just know I've got to get the miles in - I mean you can't head into a summer without some real hard man winter epics, anyway the forecasts ok 'til later (more on that later)
Dressing for this is simple; put everything on! Bib knicks, thermal t shirt, arm warmers, bib tights, long wooly socks, mid layers, Roubaix top, gilet, winter gloves/boots, buff, helmet, then spare gloves and waterproof in back pocket along with the obligatory jelly babies and flapjack thingy.
Click in and spin off into a solid wall of ice cold headwind, on the flat I'm in 39x19, with only a 21 and 23 left for the lumpy bits ahead, hmmm. The next hour or so is hard work, but I'm on top of the gear and in no rush, mindful of "it's base miles, take it easy, it's base miles". Turn and the next leg is with the wind, which is good as there is a dirty big dark cloud chasing me, which before long catches up and celebrates by snowing on me. Final leg, nasty sidewind blowing me around, stinging snow on my right cheek, dayglo waterproof on - not only for warmth, but vis is poor now and I'm genuinely worried about being sideswiped by a lorry. Hill ahead, ignore the base miles mantra and dance up in the big ring, desperate to try and outrun what is now a blizzard (guess the forecast was a bit out then) Over the top, change up, sit down and....... crack, snap, wobble, WTF, everything's gone very wobbly - the seatpost bolt has snapped. Oh. Dear. Me. I'm still 10 miles from home. After realising it's not fixable with a multi tool, chain tool or spoke key, I have no option but to stay in the big ring and stay out of the saddle all the way. Ouch.
As I said, winter training (even if it supposed to be Spring) is meant to be hard - it's character building!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Spring is here; more work, more riding, new bikes.

Well, its been a cracking wee run of weather, mainly dry and warm (!), in fact I was stripped down to just arm/knee warmers and lightweight gilet for riding - which is pretty good for me. Work has been mainly "hands-on" trail fairy type stuff; checking trails, clearing tree debris, cleaning out ditches and general trail TLC (I love working away from those noisy diggers sometimes). With this good weather I'm loath to spend time on project work in the office, but this years starting to look good work wise, with projects fairly close to home this year.
On the riding front, I'm trying to gain a "winter" base - in Spring! Legs feel good due to the number of skiing days this year, but the heart and lungs need a lot more work. I'd like to think I could get race fit for some events later in the season (like the cx season!) But to really kick off the riding year I've just built up a new bike, a Santa Cruz Tallboy, which is a 29er, a wheel size I've really taken to and at the time of writing this I've yet to have a proper ride on. So far though all I know is that it's light - 23lbs and feels very "sprinty", might even do a review type report on it when time allow.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Oh and these have now been used in 2010

-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Grampian Rd,Aviemore,United Kingdom

Change of Seasons

Well, I think, at last, that winter has finally thrown in the towel after 3 months of ruling the roost. We had made a good start 2 weeks ago to the green climbing link at Laggan then it snowed again - ugh! Actually down at Laggan it wasn't too bad, but it did make bringing in materials a wee bit trickier and when it all thawed......... It was a good test of the drainage regime!
I'll be back on the spade and rake (and saw) after Easter to deliver some TLC to the trails down there after the first big test of the trails after the snow has melted - and to get them in tip top condition for their demo day in a couple of weeks.
On the home front it's been more skiing for me the missus and number one son and finally some road miles to try and convert my skiing legs into cycling legs! I feel a new bike coming on.......

-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Grampian Rd,Aviemore,United Kingdom

Friday, 26 March 2010

Well as the thaw continues another good week of work at Laggan Wolftrax. After a busy weekend of riders and lots of rain I was keen to quickly re-assess the trails as the previous week had been so dry and quiet, all generally ok, with the worst of the puddling and mud being on the climb to the black and the black itself. In fact the poor old black needed quite a bit of spade work to clear some v deep puddles and nasty muddy patches. No worries with this level of erosion, it's just added character! What I was worried about was how much "short-cutting" there was around the demanding rock problems - I mean, come on folks - ride it or walk, going around only drags more mud onto the proper trail and causes more erosion. After much rolling of rocks, dragging of trees and raking over rut lines, order was restored - bring on Easter..... it may well be that the FC eventually decide to "formalise" these "cheat" lines. Discuss! Back on the new green climb all goes well, well apart from the amount of trees I had to fell on my own - ouch! Generally I don't like to fell too many trees when building trails, but in this case they had never been thinned and there was no option but to fell a machine wide corridor, anyway it'll allow more native species to regenerate. (tree hugger bit over!) Off for Easter now, might even ride my bike!

Friday, 19 March 2010

The thaw continues. At last the snow has gone from our local trails and I've been able to assess how our local trail centre - Laggan has fared. So the van was emptied of all the winter kit and loaded with chainsaws, handtools, bike, lots of warm kit, trainers (sometimes I run the trails!), various bike shoes, big work boots and loads of green flags for a new trail.
The bike came out first and it was great to blast round the deserted trails, they're riding really well, I suppose a 2 foot snow blanket over the last 3 months has kept them cosy and unused.
Then a slower more critical walk round with the tools, just checking on the drainage and dealing with any downed branches. The black needed some TLC, so two good hard days digging and moving rocks took care of that for the moment, but I'll need to head higher up next week to sort out some drainage issues near the top.
The new green climbing link has started, don't go getting all excited at that, it's only a link from the big motorway by the road to the wee wiggly green run home trail. But it's good to stick some flags in and work again with Duncan - the local (and one of the best) digger drivers.
Oh and there is the small matter of having to fell the trees for him, which after a winter of being a skibum is a rude wake up shock to my soft body! So a busy 5 days, much aching and blistering, bring on the weekend.....

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ok then that's me back on line: the snow has started melting at most levels all over Scotland and much as I have "fully" enjoyed my skiing winter it's good to smell the earth and get back to digging.
Whilst we're a few weeks away from anything happening in my neck of the woods - Northern Scotland, Fife is well clear of the freeze and it was a pleasure to get down the A9 and catch up with the Lochore Meadows gang and boy they've been busy. Not only have they installed some very smart and professional looking signs, but the volunteer group have been tidying and sorting out access routes / hanging out areas.
The user group they've got running is keen and well supported, both by the cyclists, but also by the local community.
This is great to see and a surefire way of guaranteeing a trails success. As a trail designer this level of community support at an urban based, easily accessible facility is I think the way forward and great for the future of our sport.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

This is the Cycletherapy office and it looked like this for about 4 weeks! Needless to say this winter has severely limited the amount of trail building that can be done. Planning future projects can be still be done, but as for cutting trail - forget it. However, whilst the business hibernates through this snowiest of winters, I have grasped the opportunity of some spare time and spent more time with my family and skied more in the past 6 weeks than I have done in the past 6 years!
The old leg muscles are adapting to miles and miles of Telemark turns (think hundreds and hundreds of lunges at 20 odd miles an hour!) so hoping I won't be too slow when the biking kicks in again.