Archive for December, 2006

Reunion Ride 2007

A few people have got back to us about the idea of a reunion ride one weekend. We thought one of the mtb enduro events would be ideal. What’s more, they’re great for anyone coming with us this year too, as they’re a way to gauge what’s it’s like to sit in a saddle all day. The atmosphere is superb; they’re not competitive but tough enough for a real sense of accomplishment.

Held on May 6, the Howies Difi Enduro is a highlight in the calender. The 2007 website has yet to be posted, but it should where the 2006 one is. Last year, the sun even shone all day, a little miracle in this part of Mid Wales. But to those of you who enjoyed the full deluge of the monsoon rain halfway up Rohtang Pass, what’s a few drops of rain amongst friends?!

The ride is set in the forests around Machynlleth, which is a great place to visit in itself – there’s the Centre of Alternative Technology just down the road, teepees dotted about the valley, and a really upbeat atmosphere when it comes to bikes. If you’re not into mountain biking, there’s some superb road riding in the area too – Sustrans Route 8 is a cracker.

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The Holey Trail is our favourite bike shop. Jon runs it (we’re working on getting him out to India some time) and Annie works there – she joined us on Manali-Leh in 2005.

The riding is ace. Proper mtb’ing, so you’ll need a suspension fork for this one (-: Some big long climbs and some singletrack blasts back down again. Every year there’s a band to serenade your arrival at the top of the first monster climb. Last year it was a steel band. Very cool.

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The coolest box of chocolates in the world…ever.

A parcel arrived from Justine’s Austrian in-laws, and in it were various gifts for the family, most of them edible.

When I was young, I used to prefer big presents. On average, they tended to be better. Although I’m wiser now, this one wasn’t much bigger than a 2p coin, so I was initially a little suspicious…

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At first glance, merely a pretty cardboard box, measuring just 5x5cm. Not so big. But appearances can be deceiving…

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Purbeck and Mince Pie Christmas Ride

Despite a thick-pea-souper down in the Purbeck, we escaped the Christmas gluttony to head out for a coastal loop. It seemed like ions ago that we’d last enjoyed some good old Dorset mud; the eerie, misty backdrop of Corfe Castle gave a cinematic quality to the ride.

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Cara was on a Trek Fuel, and I’d opted for the On One twenty niner…

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…with On One’s own Superlight rigid carbon forks, to see how they dealt with an old fashioned bridleway forray. It proved to be a winning combination. Light and direct for climbing, with just enough flex to smooth out the bumpy descents and barely any brake flutter at all. Nice.

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Holly is preparing to take over the mantle of chief-mincepie-maker from mum so we road tested some of her offerings. These are some of her earlier works, while she was still perfecting her own style. We call them, “Individually Hand Made”. Like snowflakes, no two mince pies are ever the same.

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Clear the cobwebs

We went for a ride today. A quick, muddy loop round Ashton Court and Leigh Woods. It was cold, the trail was greasy, the mist hung heavy. Yet still it was good to get out. (-:

Happy Christmas!

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The pics were taken on my new Fuji Finepix F30, a point and shoot that’s particularly good in low light.

Confirmed Dates 2007. The lines are open!

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Apologies for the delay. Cara’s just finished the first round of her medical courses in the US (specialising in wilderness emergencies, handily) so we’ve finally had time to works things through. This post is to confirm that we’ll be running the trips as we’ve listed, albeit with a couple of date changes, and are now officially taking bookings for the 2007 season. If you’re thinking about a trip, drop us a line and we can have a chat. Don’t delay ! (-:

The reason we’ve tweaked the dates is simply to allow an extra day per trip to deal with any unexpected weather or altitude issues. It’s a long way to travel. Our rides are tough, but they’re not races. Easing the time pressure means we can all get on with enjoying things all the more. And get some extra riding in! As a result, the trips have inched up just a little in price to reflect this. We’ve tried to be cunning and place them on weekends where we can, so you don’t have to take an extra day off work…

Manali-Leh, via Wari-La, 12 August-31st August: £795 (jeep-supported)

We’ll be running the classic Manali-Leh ride with minimal jeep support for 2007. And adding an extra sting in the tail by exploring the Patan Valley, venturing off the Morei Plains and looping round to take in two *bonus* 5000m+ passes in the Nubra Valley en route to Leh. Want to hit all the big passes in one go? Then this is the trip for you.

Spiti and Lahaul Epic, 2nd September-17th September: £750 (jeep-supported)

Spiti Valley is beautiful, quiet and very remote. It’s also riddled with jeep tracks and noodles of singletrack. Aside from a few tweaks and an extra day of riding, this trip will be running pretty much unchanged; it’s the most mtb orientated of the rides and we keep finding new challenges to throw in. There’s some mean switchbacks and optional technical bits for added flavour.

Manali to Dharamsala, via Sach Pass, 18th September to 3rd October: £750 (jeep-supported)

After posting details of the ride here and getting such a positive response, we’re really pleased to be running a new trip that ventures into the quiet Pangi and Chamba valleys. It’s a more *chilled out* tour; it’s a little lower in altitude, the roads are (a little) better and it’s set in a part of the Indian Himalaya where tourists rarely travel.

We hope to run all the trips with 8 people. As usual, jeep supported will be minimal and we have our excellent Spitian and Ladakhi crew to help transport kit and rustle up delicious local delicacies.

Continue reading ‘Confirmed Dates 2007. The lines are open!’

Me and BOB, BOB and I

Now that we sold the car and just have an old, dear but clumsy van with no power steering that’s a barge to drive round town – unless you’re a bus driver trained in the Indian Himalayas and can muscle your way round hairpin bends with grace and ease – I’m getting more and more use from my Beast of Burden and Y-Frame.

Trailers are uber versatile, as you can carry all kinds of awkwards shapes in them. From bags of shopping to cardbox boxes, to trips to B&Q and beyond. In one easy step you have both a utility bike, and something that will carry a cargo of possessions around the word. When we bought Cara’s lovely new Cotic Soul, we picked up all the bits with our trailer from Ben at Bike, across town. This pic is from when we were off to do a shoot for Cycling Plus in the centre of Bristol.

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Trailers are fun. Loading up them up makes every outing into a mini-expedition. People point and wave. In India, kids try and jump on like miniature stunt men. The other day some blokes in a lorry packed with scrap metal beeped and gave me a big thumbs up. And the nice thing is it’s really no big effort: leaving the car behind fills you with a disproportionate amount of feel-good-factor and goodwill.

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Burning down some Ladakhi singletrack…

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Taking Bonnie down to the beach…

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Kindred spirits… Kind of.

There’s lots of other interesting trailers about. Here’s some of my favourites:

www.carryfreedom.com

www.extrawheel.com

www.bobtrailers.com

www.weber-products.de

www.edinburghbicycle.com who do the Revolution Bob-a-like, which flat packs like Ikea.

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Not quite a trailer:

www.xtracycle.com

And the daddy of cool ultility bikes, Surly’s Big Dummy:

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Arnos Vale

I’m not really into cemeteries but seeing as I live next to one, thought it was time I do some exploring. I brought backup. Liv was down to for the weekend, a friend from school and uni who I’d successfully managed to cajole into joining us in India on our Spiti Trip.

But as cemetaries go, this is a very unusual and beautiful one. It’s Victorian, and the atmosphere is quiet and forgotten rather than sombre. In many ways it’s more of an overgrown, fairytale-like wood, an escape from the confines of Bristol. Criss-crossed with singletracks and slippery paths (a shortcut to Sainsburys), it’s flanked by ancient gravestones slick with moss, protruding at odd angles from the earth. In mid summer, when the vines dangle down and the leaves blot out the sky, it even reminded my mum of the rainforest in French Guyana, where I lived for a bit. Mind you, a lot of woods now remind my mum of the Amazon Basin – she likes to see the best in things.

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The cemetery includes the tomb of the Bengali humanist and religious reformer Raja Rammohun Roy (“a bridge over which India marches from her unmeasured past to her incalculable future”), some mausoleums and two chapels that are being renovated, to be turned into spaces for chamber music and local art. I like reading the different names, and so far my favourite, and one calls out to be the name of a character in a novel, is Wilberforce Tribe. J.P. For some reason I imagine he had dark, curly sideburns and a serious yet fiery demeanour.

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Please check out our main website for details on our bike trips to the Indian Himalayas.

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