And now, some photos

Saw a few of these little fellows whilst on the blue route a couple of weeks back with Toast’s sister – apparently they’re Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.  They feed on ragwort, which makes both moth and caterpillar alike unpleasant to eat (not that I’ve tried…).  Their numbers are declining daaahn saaarf, and they’ve added to the BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) list as a result.  So even though there’s lots of them over the Chase, do try not to run over them.

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And this was where I was attacked by a very small bear.

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And another thing!

When I die, I want to be reincarnated as one of the little finches that lives around The Hub in Glentress.  The Hub does the best…cake…ever!  I can particularly recommend the Millionaire’s Shortbread and Chocolate covered flapjack.  The little finches were happily hoovering up any crumbs left behind, and looked thoroughly pleased with themselves.

I really want to go to Scotland again when the weather picks up, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get chance this year.  We were supposed to be going on a camping trip to t’other Stanes (Dalbeattie, Mabie, etc), but alas, work commitments has knocked that idea on the head.  Sadly we found this out a little too late into our holiday, we would have ventured westward to sample one of the others if we’d known earlier. 🙁

Map of Joy: Volume II, Update II

Now with added Llandegla!  Bought a rather attractive RSPB pin badge of a flower – last year’s black grouse one is now pinned to my biking wallet.

My arm is healing up well, by the way, although the biggest graze is still oozing.  And iodine hurts. Still, nothing can dampen the raging excitement for Glentress!  Only a week away!

27/06/10: A call to arms

So after my spectacular Saturday performance, I decided to take Sunday easier and go biking with my friend Chris and her little girl.  I had planned to do some trail building, but I was feeling particularly sorry for myself and decided to have a lie in – plus my right arm was feeling a bit weak.  When you’re already limited to the upper-body strength of a kitten, this is quite a downgrade.  I think I could lift cake and little else…

Little Alisha had been biking with us before, but had struggled with any form of slope.  She did much better this time around, riding with much more confidence and only throwing the occasional strop, normally when I suggested that she wouldn’t get ice-cream unless she displayed a sufficent amount of ‘awesomeness’.  To be fair to  the poor child, her bike weighs more than any of my bikes, but she rose to the challenge admirably, and got to see ducklings, baby coots and… er, fairies for her trouble.  She could actually go at a fair old clip when she put her mind to it, but I decided to be cautious on the dangerous fireroad. -_-

Before setting out, Chris had bandaged up my arm as it was oozing.  I looked a bit of a sorry sight – a mashed up, bandaged arm and a scraped face.  Went into Swinnertons and looked at the helmets, as my previous one is now a bit dented. Fielded a few concerned queries about my arm, and felt a bit of a pillock explaining how it happened.  Fireroad.  Really.  Fortunately I managed a gentle pootle around the greens without doing myself any further harm!

Today I bowled into work and again had many queries about my injuries, the answers to which became increasingly ridiculous (fox attacks are on trend at the moment, by the way).  The mortified head of admin strongly suggested that I should have seen a doctor or visited A&E, and said that given my arm was oozing yellow stuff (proper medical term there) I should at the very least see a pharmacist.  So I popped out at lunch, the pharmacist took one look at said, “Doctors”.

The boss gave the go ahead to go to the doctors, expressing amazement that I hadn’t had it looked at earlier.  This slightly puzzled me – one doesn’t take up valuable NHS time for a mere flesh wound!  The nurse thought differently.  Apparently my arm is a bit infected (I like to think of it as The Monkey Clap), so I’m now dosed up on antibiotics and have a special iodine dressing.  Oh, and I also had to have a tetanus jab, and got a stern telling off for not getting it looked at sooner. :/  Hopefully I’ll be cured of the Monkey Clap soon, my arm will stop oozing and be back to its previous glory!

Oh dear, another late update.  What did I do last week?  What have I been doing this week to keep me busy?

Well, on Saturday I brought my friend Chris to the Chase for the ladies ride.  Deciding to keep it fairly gentle, we headed around the green, joined the blue on the Heritage Trail, did section 12 of Follow the Dog and then down Tackaroo Blast.

Section 12 was an odd ‘un – it took me a few attempts to get up Evil Root Number 2, but I managed it.  My non-mountain biking friend managed to put me to shame by getting over it on her second ever attempt.

Tackaroo Blast was good fun – I’ve never been down ventured off any of the official routes.  I did wince slightly for my helmetless friend as I ducked under low hanging branches that thunked off my helmet-protected bonce, particularly as she’s quite a bit taller than me.

After we got back to the café, we had a bite to eat, wished Petra a happy birthday and then headed around the full blue route.  My friend was a little apprehensive as she had a charity run the next day, and wasn’t really used to doing off-road riding, but she managed magnificently, hammering up the hills.  She didn’t really have a huge amount of choice in this as her bike’s gearing is set up more for road riding – she doesn’t have the same range of granny-tastic gears as me. 😛  Fortunately, despite being tired and achey after the ride, she was fine the next day and completed her run easy.  Woot!

Sunday was a bit special.  I knew it was going to be a bit special after seeing a Scottie and and Minature Schnauzer before we’d even gotten out of the car.  Bumped into the full Pearson Posse ™, Jez and Andrew and decided to tag along as there’s nothing quite as inspirational as watching small girls fearlessly tackling obstacles that you’ve been mincing around for three years.  Got to section 7 and Evil Root Number One, and decided today was the day I was going to give it go.  First attempt was nearly there, front wheel over then an abrupt self-induced halt.  Second attempt…

VICTORY!  VICTORY OVER EVIL ROOT NUMBER ONE!

I’d like to say that I effortlessly tackled it then carried on up around the corner, but I’d be a filthy, filthy liar.  What actually happened was I managed to get both wheels over the root, and in my surprise ploughed (or capsized briskly) into the bank.   But still… I got over the bloody thing, and I didn’t even have to mince over the left hand side!  Rest of the ride went pretty smoothly, apart from some tree hugging attempts on Evil Root Number 2 – again, I managed to get up and over, but nearly barrelled into Jez’s bike via a tree.

Floundered on Werewolf Drop – nearly psyched myself up to do it, but struggled getting my initial balance and getting my feet square on the pedals.  Part of the problem is that people tend to congregate around there, and the longer you have to wait, the worse it gets.  Needless to say, Charlotte and Jessica had already flown over it and were halfway to the next section, probably slightly bemused by my cowardice.

So, apart from Werewolf drop I have now ridden all of Follow the Dog.  Soon, my pretties!  Soon!

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Green, blue, red, cheeky

Highlights:  Defeating Evil Root Number One. Andrew may have classed it as being “75% done”, but that’s good enough for me… for now!

Bad bits:  Freaking out on Werewolf Drop.

Post ride food snaffled: I can’t actually remember. Had a mid-ride bacon sandwich on the Saturday (mmm, nutrition), but think we got back too late for anything on the Sunday.

Good dogs seen: Loads!  Scotty, Schnauzer, Husky, Collie, Russells, Borders!

The following week was a heady combination of basking in victory and being slightly spaced out from insomnia.  Managed to get a reasonable night’s sleep on Tuesday, and rode into work on Wednesday – I was quite pleased to beat my previous record of 43 minutes, getting into work in 37 minutes.  I love riding into work, for the most part it’s pretty quiet and traffic free – only downside is walking into the office sweaty with helmet hair…

Really looking forward to Scotland next month, and I’m also planning a possible solo adventure to Coed Y Brenin on August Bank Holiday.

05 – 06/06/10: Ball ache

Did two days at the Chase at the weekend.  Saturday was glorious – beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  Did a lap in just over an hour (1 hour 5 minutes, to be exact) – I was going fairly speedy on the trail, but I found the warmth, although very welcome, to be a bit draining.  I took a fair few breaks at the end of certain sections, especially when there were already riders congregated there.  Rode everything with no trouble with the exception of the Evil Roots and the Werewolf Drop – I think I need to be in the presence of small children to shame me into it…

To be fair, the Werewolf Drop genuinely doesn’t look too bad from the bottom.  It doesn’t really look any steeper than the exit to 8.  I think that the main thing that worries me about it is the turn – if it went in a straight line ahead like the exit to 8, I’d probably ride it.  But then again, it took me two years before I’d ride the exit to 8 on a regular basis.  Ho hum.  I don’t think my confidence is helped much watching other riders go down it – so many skip it, a lot come down it in a wobbly fashion and struggle to take the turn, or get their wheel wedged between the rock and the tree… given my innate belief that I’m possibly the worst rider on the trail, I can’t help but feel that if they struggle then I’m doomed to painful failure.

Got back in time for a rounders match and barbecue.  I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain our team (go Team Charlotte!) beat the other team eleventy hundred to three.   The match was somewhat hampered by the fact that nobody knew or could remember the rules of rounders, and that nobody on either team could catch.  Or throw.  Alex reflected that the reason most people became mountain bikers was because they were rubbish at team based sports featuring balls…

After  Team Charlotte’s glorious victory, it was time for a barbecue.  After nomming through a variety of meat and an obscene (but delicious) amount of cake, Mr Toast and I eventually decided to go on a second lap.  To our credit, we managed the first few seconds before deciding we were too sausage filled to manage the fireroad hill, and elected to go home.

On Sunday we decided to hit the trails again – we still had a lot of barbecue and cake to work off (note: despite what certain Forestry officials may say, barbecued cakes don’t work…)!  Bizarrely, the trails were transformed – it had evidentally been raining heavily Saturday night, so there were puddles!  Puddles!

I’m not sure what happens to me when the trails are a bit damp.  I find them so much harder to ride, my confidence drops right down – I don’t know if it’s because I’m going more cautiously, which in turn amplifies every little bump and slid which I’d ignore (or wouldn’t happen) if I was going faster.  I don’t know whether I’d benefit from changing the tyres – tempted to go for some Minions or High Rollers.  Or maybe I’m just solar powered, and don’t fare as well when the weather’s poor.

Nearly had a comedy off on the Stegosaurus, coming off the last rock onto the bridge.  Took it a bit wide, nearly went off to the right, panicked and nearly went over the handlebars.  Some part of my bike smacked into my knee, making me wish my MBR subscription knee pads would arrive.  Feeling a bit wonky, I gave the rocks and the boardwalk on 7 a miss, despite riding them twice the day before.  My cowadice is fuelled by precipitation. 🙁

Second lap I went around with Mr Toast – we did the first few sections, then went up the Heritage trail to take the Tackaroo sections.  And it was awesome… sproingy, sproingy deer.  I blame the braking bumps on Bambi…

Oh, and the saga of Mr Toast’s Mojo has now drawn to a happy close.  A quick recap:

  • Husband buys second hand Mojo
  • Husband loves Mojo
  • Husband spots crack on Mojo – having cracked his carbon Zaskar in the same place, he’s concerned
  • Not knowing whether it’s cosmetic or serious, husband posts on MTBR forum.  Hans Heim, partner at Ibis, responded quick-sharp and said to send it back for warranty
  • Husband is grateful, sends Mojo off to the US
  • Epic disappointment as Parcelforce and Fedex struggle to get the bike out of the country.  Guaranteed next day delivery takes over a week
  • Turned out the crack was just cosmetic though, but a replacement front triangle is offered for a discount.  Not bad considering husband is the second owner, and the bike is out of warranty
  • Customs hold the bike for aaaaages.  Incidentally, customs also lost my Stroopwaffels sent by a friend.  Curse you, customs!
  • Eventually… the Mojo arrives.  Hans has given Mr Toast a very special treat…

Greeen!

Mr Toast mentioned in one of his email to Hans that if he’d been the original owner, he would have got it in green.  So Hans sent him a completely green bike – new front triange, refurbished rear triangle, new bearings, new linkages.  Look at it – JUST LOOK AT IT!  Trust me, the photos don’t do it justice.  Awesome, awesome customer service from Ibis – wish more companies were like them.

The plan is to go off to Llandegla tomorrow, taking the Mojo on his maiden voyage.   Well, maiden-ish – frame’s new, the rest isn’t.  As far as I know… 😛

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Follow the Dog, and some more Follow the Dog

Highlights:  Rounders and barbecue.  And cake.  Lots of cake.

Bad bits:  Being a bit skitty in the wet

Post ride food snaffled: Can’t even begin to list the naughtiness…

Good dogs seen:  Mainly Jack Russells….

Dam Busters

I’m currently in the Peak District, so I’ll post a bigger update at the weekend.  So far I’ve been up Mam Tor (smaller than I remembered…), around the Dams and along the Snake Road.  MANY LAMBS!  Plus our neighbouring cottage has numerous cats, chickens, and a blind Jack Russell called Jim.  He’s ace.

And lo, thus I did arrive at work on two wheels

I’m picking up the new Toastmobile on Saturday, but this still leaves the thorny question, “How do I get to work?”

I’m not a fan of buses.  Partly because they’re expensive, but mainly because I get horribly motion sick.  I get sick on buses, coaches, in cars (when I’m not driving) and on trains.  Strangely I’m fine on rollercoasters – never quite managed to figure that one out.

Anyhoo, today I did something new – I actually rode to work.  Truth be told, I was dreading it – I’m not a morning person, and having never really ridden a bike as a kid, I don’t really have any road riding experience.  Nevertheless, I got a ridiculous amount of stuff together in a huge heavy rucksack (Mr Toast enquired whether I needed to carry so much, I pointed out I needed a change of clothes, deoderant, body wipes, makeup, a hairbrush, and miscellaneous stuff) and took Cletus out for his maiden voyage.

And it was awesome.  My knees were grumbling – it was cold, early and I don’t normally move much during the week.  But otherwise I was fine – the route is fairly quiet, takes in a good chunk of baby bunny riddled bridleway, and even riding into town wasn’t too bad, as we start work before the main rush.  Riding back was a bit harder going as there’s a good chunk of hill* to ride up, but better it’s at the end of the day rather than first thing in the morning.

Few niggly things that needed to be sorted with Cletus, most of which Mr Toast sorted tonight – a few gearing issues and the rotor needed realigning slightly.  I’m also looking at new saddles, at the moment he has the original saddle off Mr Toast’s Avalanche.  I’ve ordered some new brake pads, as The Professor’s pads were looking a bit worse for wear…and oh my, don’t they get a lot of wear!

Riding in again tomorrow, going to try a smaller backpack though, as my huge one** sometimes throws me off-balance. Hopefully it’s something I’ll be able to do more regularly – it’ll save on mileage and fuel bills, and get me fitter and thinner for weekend riding!***

* By Leamington standards

** Not a euphemism

*** Also not a euphemism

17/04/10: Oh what a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you

An eventful weekend to say the least!  We managed to get ourselves and our bikes to the launch on Saturday, which was awesome.  It was also the maiden voyage of Mr Toast’s Mojo – as we exited Basset’s Pole island, Mr Toast pointed out that if we managed to get over the bridge, it’d be the furthest the Mojo had ever been.  There may possibly have been a Lord of the Rings movie reference uttered…

And here’s a picture of the aforementioned Mojo – Mr Toast requested that it be pimped across the interwebs!  As it was the first ride, he decided to go it alone, which was fortunate as there were a couple of minor niggly mechanicals that held up his ride.  All good now though!

 

Arrived at Birches Valley with an eager crowd huddled around the start of Follow the Dog.  There were speeches, champagne (ish) and peanuts aplenty, and Giant gift bags – modelled here by the lovely Jez.

Makes a change from splitting logs and dragging rocks, I suppose…

After a lot of photos, the ribbon was cut (I still maintain it should have been done by Chase Trails’ Martin, with a chainsaw…), and the hordes rode onto Follow the Dog, eagerly anticipating the new content.  These included posh new signage:

Are these trails for you?

 

I like the ribbon

First ride of the day was the guided ladies ride, headed up by Veronica from Swinnertons.  There were quite a few of us, with quite a range of experience and confidence levels.  The most confident being Jessica, who was also the youngest (eight, I think?).  She rode everything, including Evil Root Number Two and Werewolf Drop (oh dear, I see a new nemesis for me there – the drop, not Jessica!).

The new sections that have replaced 13 onwards are amazing – incredibly fast and flowing.  With huge berms.  HUGE!  The last section caught me by surprise with some drops, which I rode in a slightly panicky fashion.  Then at the end a series of jumps which are awesome, and incredibly easy to get air on.  I think I’m actually going to have to learn how to land properly! It was actually awesome to ride in a group with no pressure and a lot of encouragement, and there was a great sense of camaraderie (and slight heckling of men-folk, after all the new entry posts to each section do have ‘No Men’ signs on…).

After that, there was a little Chase Trails get together.  I ate a delicious Bambi Burger:

Mmmm, deer…

…and acquired a rather attractive blue hoodie.  As in the garment, not a chav.  After declining the Forestry Commission’s kind offer of free bananas, I set off for a lap of Follow the Dog with Abby.   It was the first time I’d ridden 6 & 7 for a while – the Stegosaur has had its teeth pulled somewhat, with the last couple of rocks onto the bridge made considerably easier.  Still good fun though, and prior to the repair, the last rock was a bit mental after the erosion.  Besides, there’s lots of new rocks on the Monkey for people to smash themselves up on, so it’s all good!

I rode section 8 quite slowly whilst Abby went flying off ahead – I was quite annoyed with myself, because I was braking far more than I needed to.  I just tend to brick it on the pebbly sections, same as with bits of section 2.  I seemed to take the jumps a bit more comfortably this week, I’m not sure whether that’s because it was dry, or because of the slight adjustments to my rear shock and saddle position. Part way around there’s the crossroads – Monkey or Dog?

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Monkey or Dog?

 

Given that I was on a bit of a time limit (meeting Mr Toast back at Swinnertons), we carried on down the Dog.  Fortunately 9-11 were re-opened, but felt strange in some places due to the tree felling.  Not bad strange, just different from how they used to be.  Sadly we ran out of time, and took the Heritage trail to see if Mr Toast and his Mojo had made it out of the Monkey alive.  Both were unscathed, and rather cheerful!

I’m really looking forward to riding more of the new stuff, and pushing my riding a bit more.  Good work to Chase Trails!  We managed to get a car this weekend as well, just need to get a towbar fitted and we’re off!

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Bit of green, bit of blue, all of FtD (just not in order!)

Highlights: General awesomeness, beautiful sunny weather and dry trails

Bad bits:  Getting shown how to ride by a small girl, yet still knowingI’m going to have a complex about that drop…

Post ride food snaffled: A midday Bambi Burger.  Had a mahoosive Chinese meal in the evening, omnomnom!

Good dogs seen: Leo of the Grimey Limeys, who’s possibly one of the best dogs in the universe.  He sings as well!