22/06/08: Pootle

On Saturday Mr Toast and I decided to pootle around Cannock Chase’s green routes, as I’m a bit wary of disfiguring injury so close to our wedding and honeymoon – I don’t want to look like a battered wife! 😛

For a change, we parked at Marquis Drive and set out from there. The green route was actually a lot of fun, with quite varied scenery and some really beautiful parts – less ragged by timber felling and the like. It was ridiculously windy in parts though – at the top of one hill, I could feel myself being blown sideways. Mr Toast has installed the lockout lever for the Rebas on my bike, and I really felt the benefit going up the hills. My knees felt quite battered on some parts though, REALLY need to get them sorted.

Anyhoo, we did the 20 mile loop, ending up near Marquis Drive. Despite my ‘no FTD a month before the wedding’ resolution, Section 13 was too tempting. As was 14. Er, and 15…

At the start of 14 I managed to misplace Mr Toast (he didn’t realise I’d headed up to Ill Phil’s Hill). Still, I was quite proud, as I managed, for the first time ever, to climb up the hill leading to section 14. I think the fact it had rained the previous day helped quite a bit.

Once I rejoined Mr Toast, we did the fireroad hill, the short downhill bermy bit (not sure if it’s still classed as section 8), then a couple of the woodland sections. Not bad for a day’s work.

I was actually really pleased with my riding around FTD, felt really flowing and consistent. I was also pleased with doing the green loop too – I don’t think I would have had the fitness to do it last year, never mind follow it with some red route action!

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: 20 mile green route loop, sections 13, 14, 15, 8, 10, 11 and 12 of Follow the Dog

Highlights: Seeing more of the Chase, zipping around bits of FTD – everything really

Bad bits: My crap knees, causing me to munch a lot of ibuprofen.

Post ride food snaffled: Didn’t actually eat anything at the café after the ride, as it was closed. I did have a ham and cheese toasty before setting out, though

Good dogs seen: Lots and lots of jack russels

14/06/08: Pimp My Ride

‘Twas my birthday yesterday, and Mr. Toast gave me the most excellent gift of an upgraded bike! My V-brakes were replaced with hydraulic discs – Avid Juicy 3s, my Dart 2 forks replaced with Rebas, my pedals replaced with V8s, and my narrow Bontrager handlebars replaced with slightly wider Specialized handlebars.



The brakes were new, the rest of the stuff was remnants of Mr. Toast’s previous bikes – not that I’m complaining, he keeps his stuff in good nick! 😉

The new brakes were fantastic – it’s amazing how much confidence the ability to stop can give you! The slightly wider handlebars took some getting used to, but it generally made for a more stable ride. Forks were very smooth, but perhaps a bit too squodgy, so Mr. Toast is going to put a little more pressure in them.

My first lap was very slow. I’m not sure whether this is because I was getting used to the new bike setup, or whether I was just fatigued from doing more exercise than usual (I’ve started going to the gym, did a session on Friday night, but I my legs and knees were killing me, and I felt that I couldn’t really push myself.

Despite that, the first lap went pretty well, especially Ill Phil’s Hill. I was a bit disgruntled on the first section, as my flow was disturbed by ‘Harry’ – a large black dog lumbering around the end of the section. At least he stayed off the track, unlike one of his owners – a young boy who was walking up the track whilst his parents looked on. -_-

I started doing a second lap, and I was much, much faster. Again, my flow was disturbed near the end of the track – this time by a huge mass of fly covered horseshit, right on the berm. Nice to know that people pay attention to the ‘mountain bike only trail/bikes only/no entry’ signs. Ho hum. I tried biking up the fireroad hill – failed again – and my knees were screaming at me. So I decided to do on last bit of FTD, before exploring. Found an awesome path which was literally like a rollercoaster, and it made me want to explore more. Maybe next week – got to lay off the risky stuff before the wedding!

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Follow the Dog – one and a bit laps

Highlights: The first three sections of the second lap, and having consistent braking!

Bad bits: Inconsiderate bastards on the track.  What, you can’t give the mountain bikers their one track, which they’ve built and maintained themselves.

Post ride food snaffled: Quavers and a chocolate muffin – the café had stopped doing sandwiches. 🙁

Good dogs seen: Meh, it was a bit barren for good dogs.  There was something that looked like a staffie/jack russell cross – he was nice.

06/06/08: Face + Plant

Bit of a ropey day, this one.  As Mr Toast and I were heading Oop North to his cousin’s wedding, we couldn’t get our normal amount of biking in.  However, we couldn’t go a weekend without biking, so we went to the Chase and hired some bikes for a quick pootle around Follow the Dog.

Being a bit of a shortarse, I couldn’t go on a full suspension, or even on a Trek 6 series, so I went around on a Trek 4 series.  It suffered from the usual issues of me riding a bloke’s bike – the saddle was uncomfortable, and the forks practically imovable.  Yet it really wasn’t too bad, and I kind of liked the slightly wider bars.  Mr Toast was a bit disgruntled with his bike, as it wasn’t particularly well set up for a perfectionist like himself.

Well, I came a cropper almost from the start – did the first section fine, went to do the second section…and skidded on the rock at the very start.   I capsized sideways, am now sporting a large painful bruise to my left leg…and landed face first in a bunch of nettles.  Fortunately I didn’t swell up too badly, but it really shook my confidence, which was already a bit ropey for being on a hire bike.  Got back on a more even keel towards the end, but sadly quite a bit of the trail was closed today. 🙁