Good Stuff Of The Year

It has been a good year. I guess you could call these the best bits.

Best Trail: Eckham, Western Austria,
Deep in the Oetztal valley, on a small unassuming hill there is a trail. Its 400 meter height loss may seem paltry compared to the quadruple figure descents that can be found in the mountains roundabout, but this is the trail from the past year that is occupying my thoughts the most. It was 400 meters of steep, rooty challenge. For the most part right on the edge of what I can comfortably ride, in sections somewhere over that line. With my modest skill it could be cleaned, just, one glorious day, but until that day comes I can only dream. This year has been a good one for trails, both old and new and whilst the north side of Eckham is number one, honourable mentions must go to trails new and old. Achnasellach was worth waiting a year for, a whole heap of trails from the Euro adventure, plus some new lakeland passes in the mix. The Marin trail still has me coming back for more, and Nan Beild will always bring a smile to my face.

Best Trip: Torridon
...was amazing, The trails there were exactly what we were looking for. A wise man once said that. He had a point. Two days around Gairloch bookended by the Ciaran Path and Glentress was one hell of a way to spend a long weekend. Not even the worst camp spot ever could take the shine of those trails

Best Resort: Davos
Cal's and my supereuromegaride was a pretty fantastic experience, however a lot of that was down to gleaned trail knowledge from the interwebs, and past holidays. In terms of the set up at the actual resorts, Davos stood head and shoulders above the rest. Whilst the other resorts we visited had trails aplenty, it was not immediately obvious where they where. In Davos, top notch singletrack was layed out, ready to ride. Indeed a day of lift assisted riding with 10kms of vertical descent is possible. The sensible option is to spread it out a bit though. Cal and I rode most of these signposted trails over our 2 days, so spreading the whole thing over three days would be ace, then there is the riding to the east, complementary lift passes, oh yeah, and this place...

Best Bike Shop: Ivan's Velosport
Broken gear cable. A bit of an annoyance on the third day of our euro adventure. It meant we found ourselves propping bikes outside Ivan's Velo Sport around 3pm. Then the mechanic came out and offered to fix it. Being tight bastards we asked for the bits and resigned ourselves to fixing it. 'It's cool, maintenance free'
And so we discovered one of the best bicycle shops there is. We left with a whole load of out of the way trails highlighted on to our map and some of the crispest shifting I have experienced. It was ace, they have all the normal products, but what stood out was the staff. These guys were so knowledgeable, and clearly loved mountain biking. I ask for no more.

Speaking of good bike shops, a local one has been hard to come by for donkeys years. There are a few ok offerings, but Rick and Matt at Twelve50 have really stepped things up a notch. Awesome service, awesome stuff, awesome guys, group rides in't woods, plus without them I think about 10 people would have showed up for our film night. Top stuff. We have been waiting for this.

Best Tea Room: The Station House, Torridon
Tea shops are important to Pretty Sweet. They should be important to everyone. Forestry Commission leased places at the trail centre can be pretty good, but it is the out of the way places we like. And that brings us on to The Station House. The best tea room I have been to, and I have been to a few. Torridon has some pretty nice trails, and at the bottom of the best of them is a small house, with a husband and wife duo who open when they feel like it. Luckily we had tea, cake and flannels to wash our faces with. Just superb.

Best Event: Delamere Fundraiser
I would pick this, wouldn't I? To be honest, projector stresses aged me a few years beforehand at 10 mins before the start I was saying never again. Then I had a way good night. The decent crowd was great to see, but the best thing was the sheer level of enthusiasm everyone had for riding. It warmed the cockles of my heart. It was great to chat about bike films, bike trails and other bike crap with folk who just seemed to get it. Cheers to everyone that came. Oh yeah, there was two films and a good wodge for charity as well. Have to say that the Tour de Ben Nevis was also great, the best mtb race I have done by a long shot. Hopefully we will be back next year.

Best New Stuff: Osprey Talon
I'll be honest, most of us are not that really into the 'gear' side of mountain biking. Hell, Cal and I ride Rockhoppers and the majority of stuff is fairly aged kit. So yeah, we like stuff that works and lasts. This year was a big year for new kit for me, getting a new rucksack, after a zip explosion, and some new shoes after the soles of the old ones went AWOL. The new rucksack was a definite step up. It is soo dang comfortable, and it survived the over stuffing, zip stretching marathon that was the summer's euro adventure. It is plenty big enough for an SLR and all the gubbins and cake I like to take around the hills with me. So, for being noticeably better than its predecessor, this bag deserves a mention.

Best Old Stuff: Marzocchi AM3
There is a nagging thought in the back of my head that mentioning this fork here will cause it to finally leak, but for now the Bombers are still going strong. 6 years and a lot of riding and what have I done to them? Once put a bit more air in, but that was because I got fat. Seriously, I have hardly touched these forks, no servicing, nothing, and they are still as smooth as butter. Good Stuff

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