Manifesto á Velo

The person who distinguishes himself from that purposeful crowd by conceiving it as such should be called a cycleur. And that person – who has discovered cycling to be an occupation with no interest in ultimate outcomes – knows he possesses a strange freedom which can only be compared with that of thinking or writing.

– Valeria Luiselli

Off Camber #8

Tragic News – Stevie Smith Passes Away

Pinkbike reporting the sad, sad news that Canadian rider Stevie Smith passed away yesterday at only 26 years of age after an enduro motorcycle accident in his hometown of Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Stevie was an inspiration to me as he was to countless others. Watching him ride was a pleasure, he always seemed impossibly fast and fluid.

“Today we lost a great person, who taught me about myself and influenced many,” says Devinci Global Racing Team Manager, Gabe Fox. “Stevie was a fierce competitor, an honest friend and a rider who made me proud on countless occasions. I am honoured to consider him my friend for so long.”

If you like to, donations in his memory can be made to the “Stevie Smith Legacy Fund” at https://www.gofundme.com/23k7fus, the money raised will help support other talented young athletes.

Dirt Magazine has a memorial roundup of Stevie on-screen.

Strava’s Global Bike to Work Day

So May 10th rolled around, I wasn’t even aware of this event until a biking friend mentioned it when I was already at work having taken the bus in. It was a day of near constant rain here so I probably would have left the bike here.

Some of the commute durations seem a little long to me at over 13 hours, call me suspicious but for all I know they could be right. Right?

A Journey to Harris, Scotland’s Forgotten Island

I really enjoyed this article from Enduro Mountainbike magazine, it’s a great read and the photography is fantastic remote places like this are calling to me, the urge to go on adventures like these get stronger as more time passes.

WGE Eastridge

The final round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series is next weekend. We rode some of the trails a few weekends back and there is some excellent riding. I’ll be in Scotland on holiday so best wishes to buddy Paul Williams who will be smashing it on his Stanton hardtail.

Shimano Tweedlove International Enduro in Peebles

As luck would have it (oh look honey there is a big mountain biking event in the area the exact week I’ve suggested we should holiday in the area) we are going to be there to watch the racing.

All being well I will be riding the trails the day after before we head home via a stopover in the Lake District.

Off Camber #7

An occasional, sometimes-kinda weekly, roundup of thoughts, recent riding, news, videos and other entertaining bike stuff from around the Internet.

Not Afan

Thanks to car parts suppliers refusing a warranty claim and then supplying a faulty part, the fuel pump on our car wasn’t replaced till Saturday lunchtime. With a broken front coil spring on the other car driving to Afan to ride the trails Saturday and watch the WGE Round 1 on Sunday wasn’t happening.

A big well done to my friend and riding buddy Paul Williams for placing 11th in the Hardtail category in his first Enduro race. The weather looked very grim on both practice and race days. Looking at the photos a life jacket would not have too extreme in places.

Car still not fixed I rode Cannock Chase with friend and colleague Steve.

Steve on FTD

 

It’s not Afan, but I’m a fan! (See what I did there?)

12 Survival Tips For An Unplanned Night On The Trail – Singletrack

The contents of my riding backpack have grown over the years. These days for any ride that’s not a quick loop of the local trail centre (during the day) I am riding with a bigger pack and more gear “just in case”.

I also plan more, especially when riding on my own and in places or at times when I am likely to be the only one around. Part of this is letting someone know where I am going to be riding, my planned route and when I am likely to be back. Kinda common sense stuff but it could turn out to be a lifesaver, or at least spare some perhaps needless discomfort.

Riding at night and/or in remote areas carries extra risk but prep and some basic kit can make a lot of difference if the unfortunate occurs.

Go read the linked article, it’s got some basic, common sense points (to most people) but the CHALET nemonic is handy. Also the Bothy shelter is one of the next bits of kit I’ll be adding in for longer rides (and walks) with inclement weather or planned rest stops.

Video: Bike Park Wales 2016

Great teaser vid the the trails at BPW, take a look at the trail map sections on their website for more videos is fine of the individual runs.

All being well I will be there on Saturday watching the Enduro racing, cheering my riding buddy Paul on, and taking some photos.

Someone, anyone, remind me to book and uplift day there this year.

Opinion: Will 2016 Be the Year of the 29er? – Pinkbike

An opinion article largely based around the growing adoption of 29ers by some Enduro riders and the increasing availability of better tyres and new bike models.

Now #1

I have added a #Now page to this site at the end of last year with the intention of recording what I’m currently upto bike-wise.

I’m going to try posting changes as blog posts so I, you, anyone who cares can track progression, or not.

If you want to read more about Doff of the hat to Derek Sivers for the idea of /now.

Planning Spring and Summer rides and events. Making excuses due to the cold weather to not ride as much. Enjoying some night rides at Cannock and weekend rides on Monkey trail and some downhill runs at Stile Copy.

Planning

I decided against entering the Batch Burner this year and won’t be attending the Ard Rock Enduro event due to the unanticipated and very exciting arrival around that time of a little Chris & Mel.

After all the bike packing talks I caught at last Years Alpkit BigShakeOut I’v entered the Welsh Ride Thing having last done it a few years back. This time I’ll be riding the Lite version.

Off to Afan soon to ride the trails there and then take photos of the WGE event which a friend is racing.

Bike Fettling

Fitted a Purgatory rear tyre which was the easiest tyre so far to setup tubeless! seated correctly first try. Bought a Stans NoTubes Injector to assist with filling.

Still need to tweak suspension setup a little, for a start making sure the bike is setup as suggested based on my weight with riding gear and pack on, especially now I’ve put a little weight on.

New Kit

Purgatory rear tyre. Morvelo jersey and bib tights (yet to use) thanks to the sales. Vulpine socks thanks to my loving wife.

Kinda want a new pair of glasses for XC as the top ridge on current ones is too thick and obscures my vision a bit.

Mood and Last Updated

Looking forward to riding tomorrow and may venture off to explore some off piste trails. Today is Friday 12th February 2016.

Injury Timeout

Trying new things and exploring our limits carries with it an inherent risk. We all know this. As we grow we learn that trying new things and stepping outside of our comfort zone can sometimes have undesirable consequences.

With the thrill and exhilaration of pushing ourselves there’s a chance, one we acknowledge deep down in the back of our consciousness, that we can all too easily find and exceed our limits.

The limits of our skill, endurance, confidence or knowledge. We may also find the limits of the kit or accessories we are using. Or perhaps a combination of the two.

Finding your limits can hurt

A lot of the time we get away with it. A close call, a story of daring and disaster averted. A near miss to regale our riding buddies with over a post ride coffee/pint/cake.

This year I’ve had some highs and lows in my riding. Alongside new and positive experiences I’ve also had two injuries that have affected my ability to ride, though thankfully/hopefully only in the short term. Previous years Have seen me get away with only had minor scrapes and bruises and some short term knocks to my confidence.

Fractured ribs can get in the way of having fun riding your bike

Back in March I fractured two of my ribs riding a black line rock garden on Follow the Dog at Cannock. I’d successfully ridden that specific part of trail the previous week but this time my line through it was different, the bike stalled and I ended up on my side on the rocks with the wind knocked out of me. I knew something was wrong so I stayed down for a bit and allowed myself time to get my breath back.

Fortunately there were only a few sections of trail left on the route at that point so I managed to ride back to the car park, though not without some quite painful moments.

The recovery time for my ribs impacted on the training I had (loosely, real loosely) planned for the Batch Burner event I’d entered only weeks beforehand.

Aside from the pain and discomfort (when trying to sleep, get in or out of bed, sneeze, cough, lift things, generally do stuff etc) the frustration I felt at loss of time on the bike, along with what little bike fitness I had, was the hardest part to deal with. After all, it was just a rib injury.

Performing everyday physical activities and the temptation to get back on my bike quickly had to be tempered with the fear that pushing too far, too quickly, could further delay recovery.

Patience may be a virtue, it’s just not one of my virtues

I’m not the most patient of people, sorry about that. Resting and allowing myself time to recover does not come naturally to me. I doubt that’s unusual.

After awhile I was back on the bike and took things slowly to ease myself back into riding before progressing to longer and more physical rides.

As of right now I haven’t yet ridden that section of black graded trail again, not yet. Someday I will but first I want to build up my skills and regain some confidence.

I completed the Batch Burner ride and you can read about my experience on this blog. Though I enjoyed the event it was hard going and I really would have benefitted from training beforehand.

Lying on the ground, bike on top, with the sick feeling that along with the usual cuts and bruises you’ve hurt something badly

Four weeks ago while riding at Cwmcarn I found myself in this position. After a quick mental once-over most of me seemed to be intact apart from a fair bit of pain in my left arm and a small bump on my forehead. My head had hit the floor pretty hard (thank you my trusty Giro Hex helmet for saving me there) but I wasn’t in a lot of pain or dizzy, just suffering from a slight bit of shock.

I moved the bike and hobbled away to get off the trail, though anyone coming down after me would have plenty of time to see me and safely stop.

I’d lost the front wheel going down into a tunnel under the fire-road on Section 3 of the Welsh Gravity Enduro track during practice day. The entrance to the tunnel is a bit sketchy when loose and moist as it was that day and it was the first time I’d both seen and ridden it.

Despite having ended up on the floor on my right hand side, a trip to Newport A&E (again thanks to all the doctors, nurses and staff for their care) revealed I’d fractured the Radial Head in my left elbow. It’s a twisting fracture that’s apparently fairly common at my age, usually occurs when putting an arm out during a fall. Since I landed on my right I assume something happened with my left and the bars/frame/something.

The walk down the rest of the course was fairly damn painful, no way I could ride and it was too steep to walk easily. Mostly I was in pain and trying to get down so my riding buddy Paul, who’d gone ahead of me, wouldn’t start panicking as time went on and I failed to appear.

Despite having crashed I got lucky. ‘It could have been worse’, which has become a weird sort of catchphrase for me. Firstly my helmet did it’s job and took the force out of my head hitting the ground and leaving me with a only small bruise on my head. The helmet is cracked/split and ready for the bin, though currently it’s sitting on a shelf as a momento, or maybe a reminder.

Secondly the fracture is a Type 1 fracture. No displacement and no fragmentation means no surgery, usually.

A month later, 3 weeks of which were in a sling I’m not discharged as an outpatient and with some physiotherapy I might regain full range of motion in left left elbow.

It’s still going to be a while before I am back on the bike, and longer still since I am riding off-road with any kind of anger and energy. But I’m on the road to there, I just hope my patience holds out.

It’s natural, so I’m told, to loose some confidence after a crash. I have, but this time it’s confidence in my front tyre and not in myself.

Keeping my weight further forward may have helped, though I don’t believe I was leaning back pushing away from the trail even though I was unsure of it.

Picking a different line, a different speed perhaps?

This is not the first time the front tyre has washed out. I’m more than prepared to accept that sometimes it could have been my fault and not tyres, but not every time.

Following conversations with others, including my local bike shop, I’ve selected and purchased a wider and grippier front tyre. Similar in style to the Maxis Minion DHF I use on my 26er hardtail, I’ll be riding with a Specialised Butcher Control up front.

Hoping that should help get some of that confidence back.

Cranked Magazine

Cranked is a new, print only, quarterly mountain biking from experienced writers and photographers such as Editor Seb Rogers.

With design from Jonathon Bacon the magazine is simple yet elegantly designed. The layout thoughtfully combines carefully crafted writing with beautiful photography, all presented on premium quality paper.

To fund print production the team at Cranked launched a Kickstarter campaign on March 2nd which was fully funded inside just 4 ½ hours. UK subscriptions then sold out within 12 hours.

"Cranked aims to press the reset button on mountain bike journalism"
— Seb Rogers

After hearing about Cranked on Twitter I signed up to the email list to be notified on updates. I was lucky enough that in doing so I won a free years subscription. Now I have held the eagerly awaited first edition in my hands I would have happily paid for it and will most certainly pay to continue receiving and supporting Cranked.

To find out more about Cranked magazine on their website or you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m Backing ‘Alleycats’ on Kickstarter

Thanks to twitter I heard about a kickstarter project to fund an independent feature film about illegal bike racing in London.

After watching the trailer I backed it straight away and really hope this project gets funded. There are only 52 hours as of writing before the project ends so I encourage you to watch the trailer and then go back the project if you feel like I do.

Their official website is at www.alleycatsfilm.com.

Year Ahead : 2015

As last year was ending I sat down and thought about what I wanted to achieve in 2015. These goals centred around my chosen four areas of focus, personal, professional, cycling and photography (cycling kinda comes under an overarching theme of outdoor adventure, but it forms the core of that theme).

I am setting myself goals in each of these areas, targets I feel are ambitious and will require me to push myself, but ultimately should be achievable while allowing myself the flexibility to increase my target if possible.

My cycling related targets for this year are based on more riding, more fun, more skills and more social notworking.

Leadership Award

At the start of 2014 I joined British Cycling in order to work towards the Level 2 Mountain Bike Leadership Award. Having made little/no progress I want to kick myself into action and complete the training necessary to complete this award. There’s a bit of cost involved but mostly it’s my fitness, my confidence and lack of planning that have held me back.

Starting fresh this year I have 4 rides in my course logbook and now need to increase the duration and geographical spread of my future rides to meet the attendance pre-requisites for the course (11 or more rides of 2-3 hours and 4 or more of 4-5+ hours in suitable terrain).

Mileage

I’ve never set a mileage target before so I’m a bit unsure about this one. Things like fitness, weather, holidays etc will all affect what I will be able to achieve here. With that in mind I’ve decided to aim for 2000km (1242 miles), which is less than an original (and arbitrarily picked) target of around 2500 to 3000km.

I’m counting any miles I spend commuting in my yearly total so in the back of my mind I’m still really aiming for 2500 or more but I’m sticking with the more conservative figure of 2000 to keep it achievable. It’s still a fair bit further than I believe I rode last year.

This equates to around 24 miles a week and at the end of January I am already somewhat behind that target (bad weather, laziness and so on). Hopefully this should be much easier over the summer and I’ll catch up and perhaps even raise my target mileage as the year progresses.

Community and Events

Riding socially is fun. Riding alone is great too, but it’s nice to have the option to ride with friends, or to meet other people and ride with them. Last year Mel and I rode the Great Manchester Cycle Ride with friends Steve and Lisa. It was the first event we’ve ridden at and we had a great time riding the empty streets and enjoyed the atmosphere of riding with a lot of other people.

To give myself someone to aim (and train) for this year I’ve entered the Batch Burner event. Taking place over the Long Mynd in June it is 48k of riding, mostly off-road, with around 4000ft of climbing – meaning 4000ft of great descents.

Last year I planned to take part in a trail building day though this didn’t happen (no excuses). This year I want to make the effort to attend at least one build day and put something back into the trails at Cannock that I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) riding.

Explore

The more memorable rides from past years have always been the experience of riding somewhere new, usually on natural trails. A mix of natural trails and trail centre riding in a number of different locations is another goal for this year. Hopefully riding somewhere new each month, even if it’s not that far afield, there’s plenty of places reasonably local to me that I haven’t ridden.

Essentially want to get out there, to explore and ride new places and to make more good memories.

Bikepacking

When I rode the WRT a few years back with friends I enjoyed most of it, but couldn’t relax and enjoy it fully due to some anxiety issues and low mood at the time. I still have some hangups but I worry less now, which is good so now I’m more relaxed I’d like to organise and ride a 3 day trip with the first night wildcamping and the second night either wildcamp/campsite/B&B depending on how I feel.

Tracking Progress

I’m recording mileage and rides using Day One (a journalling) app on iOS. Rides as part of my progress to the British Cycling award are being recorded in a course logbook. Other than that I’m using Strava to record most of my rides, including to and from work, so I can track my progress of the year. I’ll also be posting updates to here and Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your year too. I hope we all have many two-wheeled adventures and make some great memories.

Blank Slate

Wipe the slate clean – to forgive all past mistakes and start over. Sounds good.

There’s a good many things I wouldn’t mind erasing from history, it could end up with a long list. Ultimately I think moving on is more about being forgiven, forgiving yourself and giving yourself permission to put things behind you.

Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic in this case though, here we are just considering the scrapping of a previous unsuccessful attempt on blogging about riding bikes. Yeah, a bit.

Permission given, maybe one day forgiveness (from myself) too.