So the racing had finished for a while and the suspension, dropper post and meaty tyres made a return.
The first proper ride back was my new favourite; Staveley, Longsleddle, Sadgill, Gatescarth, Nan Bield Pass, Kentmere, Garburn Pass, Staveley.
This was the second time I’d risen this in 2013 and even with a strong headwind on the way out, the lack of any snow made it much more ridable and much more fun.
The descent from Nan Bield Pass towards Kentmere is truly awesome and would test any rider. A must do!
For a while I’ve been thinking about getting some new forks with a big of extra bounce.
I was running rebas with 100mm and I couldn’t help think it wasn’t quite enough for the riding I’m doing.
I made the leap and ordered some x-fusion 120mm forks.
One of the first rides with the new forks was at Chopwell Woods near Newcastle.
There’s a marked bike trail there that you could do in less than 30mins. It’s OK but the best bit is the manmade single track hidden in the woods.
I spent all day search for perfect lines and fast forest single track.
One section was a steep, super fast track with a road crossing (which I ended up gapping) and leading deeper into the forest. I’d promised myself that I’d go back with a camera and film that line. That’s how good it was.
The day after I took advantage of the bank holiday and sessioned Hamsterley Forest for a few days.
We’d been blessed with 3 days of sun making for dry, dusty and fast trails.
The following week was inov-8’s Brand Conference. This is where we show off our new products and get all our distributors ready to go sell. It was a hard few days with late nights drinking into the early hours and up at 6am.
The following Sunday I flew to Boston, MA to do the same thing but for all of our USA sales reps.
Again, this was a few days of adjusting to USA time, late nights and early mornings.
I was glad to be back and to have some rest for a few days.
And by rest I mean a good run around Langdale with Rob, taking him on his first proper run in the lakes since he moved up earlier in the year.
That was Saturday, and the weather was shit. Sunday was supposed to be glorious so I planned a nice long ride, again on my new favourite ride over some of the Lakes biggest passes and most challenging descents.
In typical Lake District style, the sun didn’t come out. However, there was little wind and it was warm enough for shorts and t-shirt.
The ride was wet. Very wet. It was a slog all the way over to Longsleddle; more than usual!
I climbing up Sadgill to the top ready to descend Gatescarth Pass.
Half way down I stopped to go through a gate. When slowing down I noticed the front end was pretty light. I stopped to examine the tyre to find I had slashed the sidewall. Not what I wanted to see at the first point away from home and with no pump, tube or actually anything to help me continue.
After quite a bit of swearing I started running down to the bottom attempting to run all the way back to the car. Roughly 10miles. Not happy. All this just because I hate carrying anything, especially 29er tubes.
While climbing Nan Bield Pass I met some bikers who lent me a pump and got the tyre back up to full pressure. The tyre was trying to seal itself but would burp as soon as I started riding.
Yoiu can’t ride up Nan Bield anyway so I left the other bikers and continued to the top with the idea that I’d throw myself down the other side and when there was no air left, I’d wait for them to put some more air in. After four or five switchbacks, the tyre came off the rim bead and forced me to push down pretty quick. I kept looking back to see where the other riders were but i guess I’d climbed a little quicker.
I ended up getting to the road at Kentmere and met another biker who’d been out to Badgers rock in Kentmere doing some bouldering. He lent me his pump and I got the tyre pumped up again.;
I rode back to Staveley as fast as i could with no hands so I didn’t put any pressure on the front wheel.
It ended up taking me 3hours to get back from Nan Bield. Something that would have usually taken me an hour.
What have I learnt? ALWAYS carry a pump, tube and repair kit. It’s not an enjoyable experience pushing your bike on some of the best descents in the UK.