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Weather

So Bike Radar recently asked the question “If you could ban weather which would you pick?” which is an excellent question IMHO, and one to occupy an entire Friday at the very least. I mean, we’ve all done it, got kitted up, then looked out of the window at the fat drops bouncing off the ground and… gone and put the kettle, But, I thought, what indeed would I choose?

Of course the correct answer is “None whatsoever just get on your bike and stop moaning” but that did not stop me thinking about MTB “weather” in general.

So how to choose? What are the criteria?

“Simples” methinks – I’ll just come up with a “TFIT Surrey Hills MTB Weather Scale of Truth“. Clearly this is a geographic thingy as I imagine anyone slinging a leg over their steed in Banff in mid-December is likely to face a “different scale of peril” than us down here in mild and nonthreatening Surrey! However, without further ado and in descending level of unpleasantness I present:

The “TFIT Surrey Hills MTB Weather Scale of Truth”

1) Swengemaggedon

One of “those” days. You were sweaty before you got on the bike, 3L Camelback’s worth of water is just not enough. Arguable to hot to work hard on the bike, but you do anyway – because if you stop insects will devour you. You consume extraordinary amounts of beer in the post-ride pub because you are convinced it will help you re-hydrate. It won’t. Any unwashed bike kit smells like the devil’s armpit. Clothing should probably be burnt post-ride as it will be just unspeakably nasty. Falls onto the floor with a noise like a frog exploding. Every head movement results in copious quantities of “weeks old ride-sweat” dripping into your eyes. It burns… IT BURNS…

2) Warm, dusty and dry

What the word “awesome” was invented for. Trails are likely to be hard-packed with not a sign of “mid trail mud” anywhere to spoil flow. You contemplate riding at any point of the day. Sod work, parenting, eating or other people. Your riding dangerously fast and it’s just fantastic on every level. High probability you’ll swallow one small and one “uncomfortably large” bug during the ride. Th night’s are light until late and there is no better time to be out. Chance are this is why you ride and also the chances are everyone else in the family would like to come for a “family ride” as well. Leave before they realise you’ve gone. Shhhh…

3) Eeeee, that’s pleasant

I grant you it’s a bit of a “Yorkshire-ism” but you know the feeling. Sun is shining, probably still solidly dry on the trails. You are likely to illicit irritation from your partner by a) riding *just* that bit further than normal b) regaling your partner non-stop with how wonderful your ride was. Highly probable you will have a “smug mountain biker” face on at all times. Only reason for cleaning the bike is if you encounter a “dog bomb” mid trail.

4) Quite nice

Weather still ok, may be a bit cloudy, even the occasional shower is permitted. Mid-trail mud bombs are to be expected. Trails are running well. In certain “non-Surrey” parts of the UK this is when the thermometer gets above freezing. You may well have reached the halcyon stage of single layers of clothing.

5) “Meh”

More of an emotional response than a descriptive word. It’s not warm and it’s not sunny. It’s probably cloudy and probably dribbly. You might instantly regret clothing choice (or lack of it) as soon as you stop pedaling. You hold out eternal optimism that the sun might come out. It won’t. Get over it. RYFB.

6) “Sprinter”

Not quite Spring but also not quite Winter. You’re not prepared yet to abandon the base layer or winter gloves or even jacket. You grudgingly have to clean your bike – AGAIN – despite being sure you could managed a dry ride.

7) “Bitwet” or “Dribbly”

Definitely just a one-word description. The “wet” is not yet all pervasive yet but it is definitely determined. Tyres do a fabulous job of flicking water into your face irrespective of any “bike related protection”. Roots can be dicey.

8) Soggy / Sheeting / Just Bloody Unpleasant

OK. It’s raining. Deal with it.  It’s heavy, persistent and bloody cold. Chances are that is not a bead of sweat you can feel dripping down your back. If you don’t have a cold, you will soon. Usually occurs with varying degrees of wind which make it all the worse. Good chance you’ll have to squeeze your gloves dry at the end of the ride. Pub may not welcome you with open arms. Definitely cold. Did I mention it was cold? It’s cold. You will spend following day looking at summer riding videos to remind you why you do this.

9) Biblical

The rain is falling down, sideways and sometimes up. And it hurts and it’s bloody freezing. Face it, you came riding in a f*cking storm you idiot. Likelihood of being “up to your hubs” in mud of a questionable source is high. The back of your bike (and you) look like you’ve been mud wrestling. Despite showering you will find lumps of mud about your person days later. Often as hard to ride down as it is up. Tyre contact with root will result in instant death. Bike may stop suddenly in deep gloopy pit of mud while you continue into the nearest obstacle. Trees may spontaneously “deposit themselves” onto the trail. Base layer, waterproof and winter gloves fail. Is acceptable to be wearing full length tights. You contemplate digging out a drysuit for the next ride. People look at you like your a lunatic. That’s ok, you are. Pub tends to fall silent with disbelief when you walk in. Partner may change locks while you are out. If you get into the house at all you drain all hot water trying to thaw out.

10) “OhDearGodAlmighty”

Too cold to snow or too much snow. Everything is or will be frozen. Doesn’t matter how many layers you put on, they just don’t work. Chances are suspension, brakes and gears may seize. You are unsure if the crunchy noise is “tyres on ice” or just your knees protesting. You can’t speak. You contemplate peeing yourself just to get some lower body warmth. Rides can go direct to the pub without shame. You contemplate setting fire to a fellow rider just to get some warmth. Counting extremities when you get home is mandatory – particularly for guys. You will ask yourself just why did you come out FFS?

11) Cardiff

Nuff said. If you ride here you’ve got balls the size of a planet.

 

So do I want to ban any weather. Naah – too many giggles! TFIT tonight anyone?

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Mighty Maureen growls in from the East

Allegedly it was meant to be the second day of Spring, but you wouldn’t have known from the -4C temperature and snow laying on the ground. But nothing much can stop a TFIT ride so with some excited WhatsApp banter during the week a number of us set out for a short Birthday ride.

Here’s what happened… (well some of the publishable bits anyway)

 

The Secret is Out

So the best kept secret in Mountain Biking for 2018 is officially out.

The best decisions are often made in haste, you know, no time to think. No analysis. No chin stroking. No faffing. There you go – bosh. And so it was, while David D (who has been sporting a Gingerbread man on the back of his Bell for nigh on two years now) was on yet another foreign adventure, in the pre-ride TFIT preamble this year’s trip was duly named.

And so it is with great pleasure I would like to share yet another bit of Mr F’s superb creativity in announcing “The TFIT Gingerbread Tour of 2018” artwork – supplies are limited – first come first served!

Am also very glad to see this year’s logo is 100% less “meat and two veg” than last years…

Well done Steve … that’ll be 169 days then.

BPW, The Return

It is not uncommon that something you did for the first time, is often a slightly lesser when revisited. For example take The Matrix Reloaded, sequel to The Matrix – crap. Or the Sinclair C5 the follow up to Clive’s ZX80 – utterly shit. You get the picture.

C5
What went wrong?

So, when it was suggested the TFIT crew visited BPW with most of the team (based on Bob, Chris and I’s gushing recommendations) I was both eager and concerned that perhaps we had over egged it. Chris G got very hot under the collar when he learned a certain Tahnee Seagrave was due at the park this day. And he nearly exploded when Simon (who was an estranged Cornwall TFIT guest for the day) announced he had her mobile number and had been texting her earlier that morning.

A dry, sunny, but cold day greeted us in Merthyr Tydfil on a midweek trip in November, and happy with that we faffed for a bit, a few nervous conversations abounded about just how big are the jumps, do I need all my armour on? etc before climbing into the uplift van (which didn’t smell any more pleasant than last time).

That was it, everyone was grinning like a loon, as we took on the flowing blue runs, arriving back at the pickup point I noticed something odd, no queue, something that persisted throughout the day (definitely ride on a schoolday if possible). We truly smashed the back doors in this day, with seven or eight runs squeezed in before the sun started to set. Couple of beers and a warm up before climbing into the frozen cars and vans for an unexciting run home. It was even rumoured that a few Dai Hard’s (see what I’ve done there) met up for a beer later!

Talk is of at least one other trip before the Alps call to us in July – can’t wait.

Video evidence below…

Les Arcs MTB: Woodstock

We’ve been back from Les Arcs now for a couple of weeks. I think it’s fair to say I’m into the “post-ride-holiday-with-your-mates-blues” period without a shadow of a doubt.

This is not helped of course by the fact I cannot TFIT tonight due to urgent need to deposit my kids with Grandparents for the start of their summer holidays which involves enjoying the M1 for longer than anyone should have to.

It was however while thinking about that impending pleasure my hastily put together “Woodstock: Top to Bottom” video finished exporting and has been hastily uploaded to YouTube.

This was my last run at Les Arcs when my front brake had pretty much given up the ghost and my front wheel had two questionable and one fully detached spoke but I still managed to have a bucket full of fun on my Scout – which is what its all about for sure.

Woodstock starts at the top of the Vallandry lift and just draws you in from the start. It’s only a blue but by God it’s good fun – from the very top to the very bottom.

So if anyone is asking the question, “Les Arcs, is it any good for MTB” or indeed “should I even go to the Alps”, my one comment is a pure and simple – “oh yes”.

 

I talk too much

“Focus”, “Precision”, “Execution”. These are the words that often spring to mind when I watch MTB videos.

While I’ve been reviewing my Go Pro footage from Les Arcs I’ve discovered these are not words I would choose to apply to me.

Those words would be “Expletive”, “Noisy” and a bit “Singy”.

Take a look at the video below and you’ll see what I mean. BTW, this is very much NSFW, or indeed NSFCIR (not safe for children in the room)

So enjoy this slice of “real world MTB” rather than “Zen MTB” while I search for suitable music for my Woodstock in one vid (to cover the brake squeal)

Riding the Summer Solstice

OK, so the summer solstice was technically speaking on Wednesday this year, however, one day late, we had a well timed TFIT – and as is tradition, we marked the occasion with a ride out to the “Temple of the Wiinnnddddsss” (Blackdown) in Haslemere.

If I’m honest I’m always a tad sad at this time, cos you know, it’s gonna start getting dark soon… (what a misery guts I am…) but riding with your mates who are all fully frisky in a pre-Alps trip kind of way?

Priceless.

So my advice, get out and ride – you’ve got until July 1st before sunset starts getting earlier…

The Foam Tour: Les Arcs MTB 2017

So we have 21 days.

Woooohooooo. That’s 3 weekends, 3 TFITs and three paltry weeks until wheels down for the TFITers Les Arcs 2017 MTB extravaganza – “The Foam Tour”.

Thought I’d raise a couple of things for general group consumption:

The LAVOJ

The freshly named LAVOJ (Les Arcs Van of Joy) will be packed as per last year at Matt W’s place on the evening of Wednesday 5th July. We will be gently inserting bikes and “hold luggage” so if you want it with you in Les Arcs (spares, beer, foam, suncream, whatever) either fit it on your bike or bring it with you.

Packing will take place from 18:15 on 5th July onward. The intrepid driving partnership that is the “Double D’s” will be heading out very early Thursday morning so lets get it done nice and early if possible. Then we could have a pint. Maybe…

Check-in to your Flight

If you haven’t, get checked in to your flight and confirm travel details. You don’t want to get to the airport and look like a muppet now do you!

Extra Car of Joy

So as there appeared to be 50 bazillion of us trying to squeeze into Steve F’s 7 seater to get to Gatwick I have decided to drive back to Witley (I’m taking a half day – huzzah) so have space for three in the CGCOJ. Seating at the moment is:

CGCOJ

  • Chris G
  • Bob M
  • Malcolm W
  • Mark T

SFCOJ

  • Steve F
  • Tim W
  • Matt W
  • James G
  • Andy T

Not sure if Andy C is going to be in Witley or going straight from London? I’m planning to leave as soon after 2:00 as I can – Steve I think is intending to head off at 3:00.

Driving in France

So this is for me, James and Matt as designated drivers. Don’t forget to get (and bring with you!) a DVLA Licence Check Code.

They are valid for 21 days and you can get them here from today onwards I guess. Oh yeah, don’t forget your driving licence chaps! Let’s be honest, everyone is other than us is gonna be partially / completely full of beer!

Insurance

It’s entirely up to you, but if you haven’t I’d consider getting some “get off the mountain please” insurance for this trip, particularly as we are doing some back-country stuff. I’ll be doing something with Snowcard as per normal but “other insurance companies are available”…

Dress Code

Lastly a massive dollop of Foamy Kudos needs to go to Matt W and Steve F for sourcing and delivering highly appropriate clothing for our Les Arcs shenanigans – yes, the “Foam Tour 2017” tshirts have arrived! Gaze upon their glorious foaminess below:

 

TFIT tonight anyone?

Significant Day

So today is a most significant of days – one of the original TFITers, our one and only Mark T has reached his 50th year.

Now I won’t wax lyrical about what a genuinely top dude Mark is – mostly cos he’d hate it – but I have to say as one of the “TFIT originals” who headed out into the Surrey Hills (some would argue to escape the joys of having young children… but I digress) to start the institution that is TFIT – the rest of us are eternally grateful.

I also will not mention OR pay tribute to the special “Mark locations” that are dotted around the Surrey Hills (raising the overall elevation by at least several feet), his multitude of awesome bikes with perfectly setup suspension, uncanny ability to locate “foam parties” at great distance (like some kind of beer soaked homing pigeon), preternatural skill at opening pubs that are firmly shut (for quite serious and sober reasons…), all round appreciation for late night roast beef and of course his ability to crash into “Mark shaped holes” with more style than anyone I know!

So Happy Birthday Mark – have a great one!

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