Monday, April 23, 2012

Team Stoned Fish's big day out

After the nightmare result for me at the Brechfa Frostbite 40 in January, I was determined to do better this time out. The event was the first in the 2012 Enduro1/X-Fusion Gravity Enduro Series and was held in the Forest of Dean at the Pedalabikeaway trail centre.
Fellow team mates were the usual suspects of Jay, JT, and Aidan. The decision had been made to have team jerseys made up, one as the event encouraged it, and two as actually the price for them wasn't too bad at all, actually cheaper than buying generic branded ones!
Here we all are post race (after handing our numbers back in)-
So how did the race itself go?
In a style similar to a motorcycle long distance trial there were 6 timed stages, but as each rider was sent off on the minute, and had a preset time to be at the start of each stage. This meant that there was little time for chat and tomfoolery on each transit section. I found that I was reaching the start of each stage around 3-8 minutes before my start time. This meant there was just enough time to be taking food on, or having a pee.
In my usual style I managed two crashes on the first stage, first one was over the bars and into the mud with no damage done. Second was riding into a tree and managing to squish my left ring finger with enough force that it is now (not quite 24hrs later) swollen, sore and turning black. Suffice to say it hurt.
After that no more unplanned visits to the scenery occurred thankfully, and the race was well underway. The marshalls at each stage were friendly, and whilst we weren't allowed to pre-ride the course we were allowed to have a walk around if desired.
Some of the transit stages were absolute monsters and necessitated pushing the bike up the steep muddy hillsides, others were a mix of fire roads and singletrack. By the time we got to stage 6, the final one which made use of the Corkscrew section of the DH track we were feeling the burn.
My first ever incursion on a DH track and I've got to say some of it was properly 'oh sh1t!' scary, especially on a light steel framed hardtail. That said, once I accepted that I was simply long for the ride and it would be easier to go quicker it was actually quite fun, especially the hip kicker just near the end.
With a final sprint to the finish line that was it, race over. 3 hours and some minutes and it was all done.
A good day out, and I'm definitely feeling the aches today!
A couple more pics.
Me and my mate Jay (note humourous Tee shirt slogan...)
 and the good old Quickspaz with pushbike alongside, pre-race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Too long, a cathartic ramble.

I'm not sure if this is going to be one of those long emotional posts or not. I don't think so. I took a couple of days and went to visit family, and my Dad's memorial tree. Pretty much all my family live up Derby way so I jotted a quick route on a post-it, stuck it to the screen on the Tenere and headed off along some interesting roads.
There's a lot to be said for avoiding the motorways.

I had a little P for Piddle break on the Alcester road and enjoyed a sausage butty and a creme egg for lunch at the same time. Long gone was the heavy rain of Monday, but a sneaky cloud kept appearing in my peripheral vision and eventually our paths crossed around Nuneaton.

First stop was my cousin's in Stanton-by-bridge, where I got to catch up with her two lads who despite being under strict instructions that they weren't allowed motorcycles until they were 40, seemed to rather enjoy the Tenere and my kit.

After a good few hours there it was onto my mate Dave's where he and his good lady Sarah put me up for the night. Thanks both, I appreciated it.

This morning dawned bright and I headed off towards the Peaks where my Uncle John has a smallholding farm. Last time I was here was about 25 years ago we reckoned. He and my Aunty Maureen gave me a walking tour of the farm and as we spoke about various things it came out that he'd been there for 40 years now. They've just got 3 goats now, the eldest being 20 years old. At one point they were up to 13!

It was really great to see the work he's put in, how the trees have come along and how the land is being cared for. The arable sections are all ploughed by horse and they have two good looking stallions in the stables.

We had a tea and home made jam tart break and chatted about life in general. The caravan makes a great tea room, and as we sat out listening to the thrush calling and not much else on the breeze I thought they had a pretty good lot.

From there I went to visit my Dad's memorial tree in a nearby woodland. Seems strange that it's 14 years now since we buried his ashes there. With a few words spoken I set off to my Nannie's down in Mickleover. It's been a few years since I saw here but she was looking well for someone in their mid 80s. I was spoiled again with homemade scones and mug of tea and we sat out and chatted about the garden and nothing much in particular. Time passes and soon it was time for me to wend my way South again to home. I made the mistake of using the motorway and realised that I really do hate the bloody things.
A bag of freshly cooked fish n chips from my local chippy and the last few miles drifted by happily enough.
I shan't leave it so long next time.