Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Racing shadows

I raced my shadow today. It seemed like we started on the east coast, as I left the office and turned the bike into the rain. But the rain was too cold and too spiteful and too thin, nipping at my shins in icy shards. This wasn’t Virginia, it didn’t sit right. So before I knew it we were in the Rockies. We’d raced straight over the plains of Kansas, flocks of black birds rising out of the corn as we whipped by, making the most of the glorious tailwind. I must have been going too fast to feel the damp heat of Missouri and Kentucky too, the languid pace of life lost in a quick rotation of the pedals. But I could feel the Rockies as the road grabbed at my tyres, forcing me to plunge the pedals downwards while the cold kissed my cheeks. The elevation was so high it took my breath away. We cycled softly and swiftly, dwarfed into silence by the landscape; the view too epic to comprehend with the small amount of time we had – you needed a lifetime. And then we were on again. We flew through Teton and Yellowstone, nervous on every bend lest we encountered some creature we couldn’t avoid. And then we backtracked through Wyoming when the headwind kicked in. But it was when we arrived at Lolo that we realised we had been here all along. The cold seeped through our Gore-Tex and set up home in our bones. The Lochsa never left our side, its raging water swollen by the rain. We called a truce there in Idaho, supping on tepid hot chocolate will a deep mist settled on the thick, knowing trees. A new day would dawn, a new race would end in a new truce.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Still need a post-Christmas ride?

Boxing Day may be done and dusted but here's a little piece I pulled together in case you need a post-Boxing Day ride. Lord knows I do.

Happy trails mean happy hols ...

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The ice age cometh

I wasn't here for the first ice age (I'm not THAT old) and the second one in the 1600's kind of got overlooked what with burning London to the ground and batting off the plague. And the snow in Feb this year? Nah wasn't here for that either. So in terms of riding on snow and ice I think it's fair to say I'm a newbie.

But I've never seen Dorking look so good. Beautiful. And sections that I usually took for granted, suddenly became a new adventure. First tracks were a bit touch and go - in most cases ending up ankle deep in snow when riding over a root you didn't see.

We headed to Barry Knows Best and it was the first time I'd ridden it since they changed the ending, swapping the gnarly DH rooty section for three or four swoopy berms. It's certainly easier to ride (but in the ice pretty committing) but I kind of miss the old end. A bit of old-school technical DH, something to work up to getting faster and faster on. A berms a berm you know?

Then we hit up Telegraph which was fun and I even managed to anticipate the tree stump halfway down even though it was covered in snow, keeping my pedals free and me not over the handlebars.

Then to top it all off, we even managed to reverse the van out of a snowdrift without having to push it manually. Now that's what I call a good day on the hill.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Freeride festival and other shenanigans

Make no absurd mistake: Howard Donald, DJ, is not a reason to visit Saalbach Hinterglemm, deep in the Austrian Alps near Zell am See where, by the way, no coffee shops open on a Sunday morning. Fact.

But this being Austria and taste in music questionable ( I know this from watching five days worth of MTV), it probably seemed fair to assume on their part that we would be impressed by an ex-Take Thatter (now reestablished Take Thatter) taking to the decks at the annual Rave on Snow. This event is massive. It is literally a big fat massive rave. On snow. And in a kindergarten. The music goes on for 48 hours and the outfits get wierder the longer people rave. Quality.

We were blessed too with fantastic snow. But you don't need to hear that. What you do need to hear is that Saalbach plays host to Europe's longest freeride MTB trail, plus 400km of MTB trails in total, including DH and a bike park. Dates have been released already for next year's Freeride Festival which is taking place from 9 to 11 July. The resort also has five big cable cars carrying bikes up the hill.

Here are some snapshots of the freeride route in the snow. Me likey. Is it time to ditch Morzine?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Let it snow, let it snow

Pedalfeet is in Austria. There is snow. And lots of skiing. But no cycling until summer. Boo. Sing it now: 'You can't always get what you waaaaaant, you can't always get what you waaaaaaant. But if you try sometimes, you might just find. You get what you neeeeeeeeed.'

Ah yes.