English Summer

I missed a good part of the washout of a summer England has had (more on that later), but the last two weeks of bog based churning have been a somewhat welcome reintroduction to the realities of UK trail riding. I'm sure it'll start to piss me off soon enough, but for now I'm embracing the slither.

A Bit Full On

Both sides on Nan Bield in one day, one hell of a ride. Rick described it as 'Hands down the most challenging trail I have ridden, and some singletrack to die for'. Says it all really.



TurnsTurnsFoot In, Quite Fast

 Some shots from a day of Uplifting with the Twelve50 boyos at Revolution Bike Park in Llangynog. Gnar tracks in a dark forest, there should be more words in an upcoming Wideopenmag. Even on a tiny trail bike, with a super XC 'brain' suspension doodah, it was an ace day. Got pretty close to 3000 meters of vertical about an hour from home. Only problem is affording a DH bike now....   


Warming Down

Josh, Summer
Josh, Garburn Pass, Late March
The day after the first round of the UK Enduro Series. Knees in the breeze lakeland XC seemed like a good way to wind down.


Enduring #1 - UK Gravity Enduro Innerliethen

A bit past the event now, but still. At the end of March's sensational dry spell Josh and I were heading north to represent the West Cheshire Massive at the first round of the UK Gravity Enduro series. Due to miscalculated driving distances, and accidently staying in the pub until midnight the day before we rolled into Innerliethen just before lunch on the saturday. On the plus side the instant coffee had exploded somewhere in the depths of the boot and we would race smelling like a high class bistro.

So, what of the racing. It was bloody awesome, knackering and a little scary all at the same time. Pretty early on it dawned on me that I hadn't ridden my bike down hill with out stopping for 7 minutes in a long time. To unfit to attack the whole course, I opted for to stay on, and hope for the best. Trailcenter black runs, old downhill tracks and fresh cut loam/mud death ruts seemed to be the order of the day. Pre-race I was feeling a little nervous, but just about up to it. Pretty much hit me that at a national level race, everyone is pretty bloody fast. Clearly I was near the bottom of the 300 strong field, the plan was hang on and hope, and try not to get beaten by too many girls.

Stage 1: Saturday night's (late afternoon) all right for seeding. In the queue, damn scared. The field is unseeded, fast guys littered throughout. A gated start and a shitty clip in kicked things off badly, few corners in and things had relaxed slightly. Things go well, then someone is on me, 30 seconds lost on the downhill bit. Sprint the fireroad then into more trails, it feels like it is going well. Two corners remain. 'On your left mate' Shit, lost a minute, though he sounded local, thats ok. Seeded 234 out of 300. Crap, but I'll take it.

Stage 2: Much happier, in with people my pace. Relaxed chat at the start of stage 1, and then we are off. Old DH tracks ridden on sight, stay calm, get down, no one caught me, happy days.

Stage 3: Again no idea what is coming up. Get clipped in, crash, shit. 6 minutes of it all going to shit, followed by two of competent riding. A bad stage

Stage 4: Huuuuge transition, times are tight. Drop in to the most glorious bit of singletrack, probably had a bit too much fun, should have pedalled more. A glorious start gets better. Loam shoot-traverse-repeat. Happy days, not caught, good stuff.

Stage 5: Worried, we practised this one, no idea how I am going to ride it fast. Opening death ruts are clean, trail center stuff is fine, though I'm pretty sure it is up hill. 6 minutes in, I'm knackered allready. Man ahead is taking a rest at the top of the 'death section'. Probably a good plan. Fuck it, drop in, it goes well to start with. Really shouldn't be too finger braking, too knackered not to. Oh Shit, over the bars we go. Have a sit down. Are you allowed to have a sit down in a race? Probably not. Get it finished. A disaster, though not just for me.

Stage 6: Stage 1 again, I know where I'm going, I know it is a fun one. I'm hanging, menatlly & physically. Get down well, pleased with that, pleased to finish. 31km, 1500 meters up, 1500 meters down, brutal. 233rd, beaten by girls and old men alike, happy to finish.

Despite a fairly rubbish result, this was the best mtb event I have ever taken part in. The race was knackering, yet awesome, and the course was unrelentingly brilliant. I will be back to 'just ride' it for sure. Hats off to the team behind the race. Superb from start to finish.

West Cheshire Massive:
97) Matt S 100) Ryan 197) Josh (On a hardtail) 221) Dave M 241) Russ (With a puncture in seeding) 252) Ian S (A whole world of issues)


And Now For Something Completely Different...

So when we were out making the Twelve50 / Yeti film below, we also shot some footage with Teaboy Joe. It ended up like this:

I think it is a pretty useful resource.

Filming Yeti

The Twelve50 Bikes boyos are now Yeti stockists, we helped them out with a short film to celebrate. Loamy fun out west:

Look at the Trail On That

North Lakes
Cal, somewhere in the North Lakes
A month of riding & racing bicycles, pretty busy, but in a good way. Hopefully a bit more blogging to tell the tale but for now here is a picture of a near perfect bit of trail Cal and I had had our eyes on for a while. 95% brilliant, 5% certain death.



Enduro: Mountain biking’s activity du jour. It seems like it might just be a large part of the future of racing bicycles up and across, but mostly back down the mountains. As normal with ‘The Future’ it has turned up not a moment too soon, for me at least. Yes, I am clambering aboard the Enduro racing bandwagon, but I’ve been waiting for it to turn up for some time now. Going as fast as possible down whatever trail I can find is pretty much the rhyme and reason of why I mountain bike and finally it seems what I enjoy about mountain bicycles has been turned into a race. No longer must we compromise in order to race. No longer must we choose between endless laps of the same XC course, or a 20 minutes of fear filled DH time on a bike that is ideal for neither. The days of racing in an XC queue or Queuing for a DH race are over, An Enduro race is a Mountain Bike Race.

So yes, this is a blog about doing a bit of enduroing (endurage?). If all goes to plan 3 of the UK rounds, a splash of euro action (read: being destroyed by the euro brigade) at a Superenduro and whatever else the budget will allow. The bike? A 140/120mm Stumpjumper of 2007 vintage since you ask, chosen because it is the bike that I own. It’ll have three chainrings on the front, a nine speed cassette on the back and a normal ‘just a tube’ seatpost, because that is what it has. I could pass those of as disadvantages, but this bike has one trick up its aluminium sleeve; It is mine. I ride it every day, on everything. It is not dug out the shed three times a year, it is the bike that I ride, the bike that I know. And if I come last I’ll keep the ‘no dropper’ card close to hand. Any other preparations then? Aside from the daily bicycle commute through umpteen sets of lights, the monthly fight club that is the local mate’s race and all the ‘just normal mountain biking’ I can fit in, that is a no.

The plan is to race for fun, but nothing makes me question myself like finding out how fast I can actually ride a mountain bike. As I sit waiting at the top of another trail about to twist its way into the darker parts of a English/Scottish/Welsh plantation hopefully the self doubt will not weigh to heavily on my shoulders. If I can keep my chin up both physically and metaphorically and keep it together for long enough to reach the fireroad and marshall at the other side of that particular bit of forest all should be well. Fingers crossed, the lower half of the seniors cat won’t know what’s hit it. Whatever happens, it is better to know where you stand, and nothing makes me push the limits of what I can do astride a bicycle like knowing there will be a few mates waiting at the finish line, with times to compare. I may not be riding particularly fast, but it is fast for me. Thing is, fast is fun, there is something good about ragging yourself silly, putting in every pedal stroke possible, that doesn’t seem appropriate on a normal ‘just riding’ bicycle jaunt.

So there you have it, riding fast, for fun, on my bicycle. Sounds like a good way to spend a few Sundays.


Just One Frame 2

Tim, Matt & Ian - Strawberry Clough, Edale
Good trails, good company and good weather collided in a perfect way out in the Peaks. We have waited a while for the perfect winter sun conditions to hit in the North West, it has been a damp, grey winter. I had forgotten how good riding in the sun is until we had this one day of wall to wall sunshine in mid february. It is fair to say I have neglected the Peaks, and instead headed north to the Lakes or west to Snowdonia for big days out on bicycles. This was a great ride however, with the trails frozen enough to roll fast, but just damp enough to plaster on the shit eating grins. Some old classics, some secret singletracks, and some 'straight down a field' action to finish. It was good one.


Just One Frame

Josh finds a tiny bit of BC
Trails are the reason I mountain bike. New ones, old ones, good ones. Every little trail is different, taking you down (or up) the mountain in its own unique way. Sometimes trails take you somewhere else entirely. Another trail, another mountain range, another continent. Somehow the 400 meter stretch of trail, hidden out on Grizedale Forest's western ridge took us a good three thousand miles. Neither of us has been to Vancouver's North Shore, yet we agreed it felt 'a little bit BC' in that small part of the woods. Perhaps it was because of the North Shore's continuing exposure in the magazines and websites of the mtb world, perhaps the lack of light through a long grey winter caused internal compasses to go awry. Either way, it was a great 400 meters of trail. So great we rode it twice.


Not Racing #2

8:15 pm on a friday evening and I am one of a group of 14 bicyclists stood in the fog and drizzle . My bike is somewhere ahead in the dark. We have just walked up a course containing pretty much every mountain bicycle based test known to man. A rocky opening which would be far from charitable if things go wrong. A road bit with a van. A kissing gate, some rock, some root, an awesomely silly 50 meter stepped climb and a whole load of muddy singletrack goodness to the pub to finish it all off. Now we are going to race back down.


Back Covers Are The New Front Covers

Never has a truer word been said.
Good new arrived through the online post last week in the form of the 17th Occasional Wideopen Magazine. Even if the guys at Wideopen got a bit sloppy with their timekeeping this year, the magazine they put out is always a pleasure to read. A mountain bikers' mountain bike mag. Highlights have got to be the Enduro Des Nations report (Must do that one day) and the feature on Les Gets locals. Even if you are not into DH, get it downloaded.

The most excellent news of all was news that Matt and I's 8 attempts at getting a good autumnal drifty shot were not wasted, and ended up on the closing page of the magazine. Ok,ok, it is not the cover, but it is the first time a photo of mine has seen print 'just because', so pretty chuffed with that. Getting roosted by twigs and leaves over and over seems worth it now. Hopefully a few more shots will see the printed light of day this year.

So there you have it. Go and read Wideopen 17 here

And while you are at it, why not check out Matt's excellent bike shop Twelve50 Bikes Tell them we sent you.


Not Racing

If you ask Dirt Mag what two of the most important things in mountain bicycling are at the moment, I give you any money Mates Racing and Enduro feature highly. With The Woods being a bang on trend sort of place we knew this already. A such Dave W and I headed out into the dark dark woods to represent Pretty Sweet in a bit of Nightime Mates Enduro(TM).  Read on to find just how good it was...



The last six months have been a bit old fashioned in mountain biking terms. Since the end of another Alpine summer at the end of August we have been doing a lot of riding. This year though, the overwhelming majority of rides have started straight out the door. Yep, it is like 2005 all over again. Sure there was one 5 day trip to the Lakes (more on that soon hopefully) but every other bike ride I have been on has been either down the woods, or a short blast down the A55 at the Marin trail. Weirdly though, despite a lack of semi-exotic locations I have done more riding this winter than ever before. Consecutive days out in the woods on  bicycles as it went from drifty loam, through slidy mud, and on to frozen goodness. Here are a few photos from the last 6 months spent on our local hills.

Cal at home in the woods during a 4 day riding holiday at home.


The Year That Was

Cal high above the Otztal Valley on another Alpine morning.
So, 2011, another year of mountains and bicycles. Whilst me may not have followed up last years blogging standards, the riding this year has excelled once again.

The main reason for fewer blog posts, was we had a bit of a race against time getting the 2nd film finished. We came into the year with a few nice segments and a fairly loose idea of what we wanted, however in late spring an invite to premier at this years Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival pinged into my inbox and was to good to turn down. This put the pressure one to get the film finished for late summer. We had the Torridon and Les Arcs sections completed from the previous year, and Ste and I managed to fashion a completed intro section during late May. Thanks to help from Swiss Alpine Adventure, Dave and I spent a glorious week trucking around Graubunden and shot an hours worth of Alpine footage to form the final section, however it was the Lakes section was causing us significant headaches.

I felt strongly that the riding on the Lakeland passes was an important element to the film, however two previous visits that year were thwarted by injury and terrible weather. We had a fairly 'fractured' part, lacking a decent amount of the real lakes gnar we wanted to show. Thankfully Rick and Matt of the ever excellent Twelve50 Bikes stepped in and helped out. The weather finally came onside and despite a terminal mech issue the much needed footage was found. Big thanks to Rick and Matt for trusting that a hike up Stake Pass' wall of grass was worth it, and for the endless patience that allowed us to get some quality shots in the bag.

So far we have had an overwhelmingly positive reception both at the premier, in front of an mostly rock climbing crowd, and online. We have a few more plans for screenings before we roll out the film for general internets release, but the HD two parter on Singletrackworld seemed to go down a treat. nearly 10,000 views and 200 likes on the facebooks was pleasing to see. No one seemed to mind that we said Gnarly this time.

The other pleasing news was Cal and I's Alpine Dirtbags story popping up in Singletrack's 10th Birthday Issue. I reckon it was a fitting piece on what was a sensational trip. Occasional trip based writing and photography is something that we can hopefully do a bit more of in the upcoming year.

Shit things about this year (really minor shit things it must be said, it was a good year) were no racing, and no Scotland. Hopefully both will be rectified, possibly at the same time.

So yeah, in short, 2011 was good, I'm hoping for more of the same in 2012


Hats of to EMFF 2011

OK, so this post might have wiff of basking in glory about it, but what the hell. The Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival looks like it has been another huge success, which is ace news not only for the reasons on the picture above, but also because it is a film festival that gives little guys like us a chance to tell our stories. Yeah, there are some of the years biggest and best mountain films on the bill, but Stevie always seems to find space for a few slightly smaller efforts. The faith he put in Pretty Sweet 2 really helped it hit home how worthwhile this film making thing can be. It is great news that the festival continues to shine and hopefully will continue to give a few of the little guys like us a chance to show what we are worth.


Cubes In The Woods

So earlier this week I headed out into the woods to help Matt off of the ever excellent Twelve50 Bikes make a bit short film about his new bicycle:


Swiss Alpine Adventuring

Sometimes the internet can be an awesome thing. It was one of those times that saw an email drop into my inbox. It's message went along the lines of 'really liked your film, if you are filming a 2nd one, how about you come over to Switzerland and I'll show you some trails'. That is not really something you say no to.

And so it came to be that Dave and I were booting a Fiat Panda up the steep side of the Malojapass, and probably one of the best riding weeks I've had was about to start. We were returning to Davos, my and Cal's favourite resort from the Dirtbag Megatour before meeting up with Dave (yep, that is three Daves) of Swiss Alpine Adventure. In short it was super awesome. Certainly one of the best weeks riding I have had. As we racked up almost an hour of footage we have very few photos, but what we did film is looking really quite good.

I think what made this trip was the local trail knowledge we were let in on, both the massive descents Dave showed us around Lenzerheide and the smaller trails the super friendly expat population of Davos/Klosters let us in on. (If your reading this Stewart, thanks for one of the best days riding I have ever had, and also, get in touch man) Whilst locals will always know their local trails well though, it appears Swiss Alpine Dave's knowledge extends to every corner of Switzerland. If you want a few days guiding get in touch with him...

Other highlights were the pass camping, the kebabs, the breakfasts and the free lift passes.

A week of Swiss Bliss