Itching to get out…

the view to the bus stop from our living room…notice the snow ūüôā

Well we have been chilling out in Chalet Chambertin with the Mountain Mavericks team for a day now, and I just can’t wait to get started. The snow has just started falling heavily and we went to take a look at Chalet L’Aterlier (the place we shall be hosting in a week or so) today and it looks amazing. Our apartment where we will be staying is right next door and looks extremely nice also…me and Ems just want to get stuck in and start!
I am still impressed with the ease of getting over here by car, and I will certainly consider it in future travels! We went for a walk around the Morzine town today and it was desolate, so many road works going on to get finished before the snow comes (oops, too late!) but probably only about 3 or 4 non workers wandering around. Almost every shop was shut, with displays being stripped of mountain bike components and redeployed with snowboard kit. I would love to experience the summer atmosphere here…well…I would prefer to see the winter one in a couple of weeks.
The town is a really picturesque place and the views are pretty breath taking, I can understand why this is such a popular place. I just can’t wait to get out and ride!

View from the kitchen

Our morzine season has just begun…well kinda…but look at the view from our temp accommodation…

A lot of driving….DONE

Here are some images in a slideshow of our journey down, it was like driving on the same road for 7 hours except each hour was a different month. The drive itself was amazing, really nice country side to be driven through, no traffic and not too taxing. The ferry was pretty fun too…I can highly recommend…especially for ¬£19.
Arrived at Chalet Chambertin 8:40 so we made pretty good time. This chalet is…incredible…I want one!

White cliffs of dover

We can’t actually see the white cliffs due to the fact we are facing the wrong way, sat in the ferry queue. All good, arrived here in good time, although feeling pretty tired right now, and my android Blogger app thing won’t let me do pictures ūüôĀ
405.5 miles travelled so far, one top up of 53.03 quid to refill the tank from empty…

far too early!

Up in time! Pepper just thought she would have one last hug, right before I make Ems pack the car.

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Dan and Ems do a season…

…and so it begins, its 3 in the mornin and I’ve just crawled into bed. We want to set off for 9…you reckon we can do it? Place your bets now!
5 months of chalet hosting and Snowboarding here we come, watch out morzine…
Sleep time

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Settmurthy "freeride" trails

Grave and I got invited out to some downhill style trails in Settmurthy, so we decided to check them out. I say downhill type trails because I am guessing that downhill riders would find it a bit too smooth, so maybe its more of a freeride place…I dunno, we took the bikes anywho! Walking up the trail, you could see so many different lines heading all over the place, I felt like a kid in a toyshop. “I wanna try that one, ooo, I wanna try that one….OOOO I wanna try that one!”. Gaps, berms, drop, tables, roots, rocks, dirt, trees…totally awesome!¬†Good evenings ride had with Grave, Original Tom and James. Cheers lads.

Stainburn with sunburn

After a night at the wakeboarding campsite, we put Ricks bike together and headed up to Stainburn. A mountain bike trail found near Harrogate with a red and a black loop. The only issue I have with Stainburn is that the loops are very short in comparrison to a lot of trail, but they are really nice none the less.

We started out by doing the red route, with some nice little rock gardens , and technical climbs descents, not too technical but still enough to make you think. When we got to the bottom, we saw that 3 other lads had headed down even further, so we followed, then ended up walking up the black downhill after the northshore.
I had heard about this northshore from some friends so fancied giving it a go. It is really well built and all very achievable with a bit of precision. This was my first time on the seesaw feature, and I must say, I quite enjoyed it even though I was filling my pants while waiting for it to tip over! 

Then Herring followed, successfully but I must say I was a little nervous as he ain’t been on a bike for a few years! All ok though, and then Rick decided try it, even though he openly admitted that he wasn’t very good at northshore…

Well he tried the skinny before hand and it went well, so he went for it, and then got to the tipping point, only for it to put him off balance, fortunatly a near by tree caught him…no injuries.

Back up for a second attempt, (by the way I had tried to stop him) which was good to see, determination helps you progress to the next level and as us Jackrabbitt people say, Passion Beyond Reason! Anyway, same thing again but on the otherside where there is no tree, only to watch Rick go over the bars so much so that he landed square on his head and coming down with a thud on his arm. 

It looked painful but we are certainly glad he was wearing a lid, otherwise we would have been going to hospital. A few scrapes on his arm, a bit of screaming and a quick check of the helmet (which has a crack all the way down the centre from the rock it perfectly lined up with) and we were off again, back to the car where it was a little bit safer!

Our muscles hurt and our sunburn stung, so we were happy to call it a day with one lap, a bit of northshore and a play on the lovely little pump track, which I sucked at! If Stainburn had a longer red it would be far more popular I think.

Wakeboarding at Sheffield Cable Water Ski

In the spirit of trying something new, we decided to try and organise a wakeboarding trip. We had been told it was much like snowboarding therefore I think it was inevitable that we would love it. Unfortunately due to the lack of money and the fact that trying this sport wasn’t cheap we only had a turn out of 4 which was somewhat a disappointing turnout but it made for a stress free weekend!
So there was Rick, Napper, Herring and me, with only Napper having tried it before, the rest of us were wakeboard virgins. We aimed to be there for 10am…which Rick did, and then we finally arrived at 11am…sorry Rick! The place didn’t open till 11am anyway so it wasn’t like we had wasted wakeboarding time. The sun was out and we were ready for anything!

We paid, got out rental stuff, life jacket, helmet and knee board and headed for our quick lesson. It all seemed pretty straight forward, to turn you lean your board! Next we had to line up and try it in front of everyone, you get pulled off a jeti and this is done by using a tow rope that is attached to a cable with 8 engagements on it, so only 8 people can go on at a time. The cable runs at 19 mph with 4 corners and it runs for about 0.45 of a mile (this was my estimation worked out from the time we got round etc).
Watching the other group of beginners getting pull into the water face first etc we started to worry a little bit, but when it got to us, we all got it fine, mastering the corners on the first go, which is the hardest bit about all of this! One thing we noticed by this point is that after your 3 laps of the cable, (only allowed 3 as it was fairly busy) your arms felt like they had just towed an elephant through some really boggy marshland…ie. knackered!
After a few goes, we decided it was time to try the real reason we were there, the wakeboarding! It cost us ¬£35 each to use all the first lot of kit, with an extra ¬£8 for hiring the wakeboard for the day. After watching the people on knee boards and the people on wakeboards, we realised there was a certain ‘cool’ element missing from the knee boarding, so desperately wanted to it with a wakeboarding so we could look as awesome as the other people there.

I know I am not fat-fat, but I know I have a bit of a belly, however walking into the wakeboarding place on a day with no clouds in the sky and near 30 degrees Celsius, I couldn’t help but feel a little inadequate…all the guys there were stacked with their 6 packs and arms as big as my head. Time to go on a healthy eating plan I think! As vein as it is, I would love to look like that and I am sure Ems wouldn’t complain either!
However before the inadequate feeling made me want to ride with my tee shirt on, we couldn’t help but notice the amount of extremely attractive girls dotted around the place, most of them with their ripped boyfriends etc, but for any single guys looking for a hot girl you should certainly look into the wakeboard scene!
Due to it being so busy, we could only get one board between 4 for the start of it, so Rick decided to head off and line up in the massive queue, telling the cable guy that he hadn’t done it before, he then got some tips and a bit of hand on set off, only for the water to grab his board and pull him under the water. Remember this is a sitting start onto a 19mph tow rope, it ain’t going to be easy!
Next Napper was up, and you could tell he had done it before, also he was at a slight advantage of being goofy so it was easier to set off…ahem…after one full lap he then fell off at the first or second corner, which is a long haul back, having to walk around the lake and back to the start. Due to Napper being Napper and being small, he didn’t do the bindings up tight enough and got pull out of them leaving him with EPIC injuries…ahem.

Next up was Herring, who managed the set off, only to fall on the first or second corner, again for the long walk back.

Next up was me, extremely nervous, chatting to the two people either side of me and asking for any tips I could use before I set off. The cable guy helped me and my turn came, heart pounding like crazy, the cable caught and off we went, not very smoothly but I got away none the less.

The feeling is fantastic, even if it does feel a lot slower than the knee board, it still felt amazing! You can carve etc so easily and just generally mess around, no tricks for me just yet though! Now, the corners are most peoples nemesis, I spoke to a few people who said that this was their 4th time and they still hadn’t managed a full loop due to issues with turning the corners!
The cable goes slack for a second and you have to go wide otherwise you will sink, you then have to turn your board and not catch an edge, almost every corner I did was sketchy. Anyway, I managed 3 laps on my first go and came to a dignified stop in the right place!
This wasn’t to last though, beginners luck! The next time I tried, I got to the second corner and fell, with a long walk of shame to think about what I had done. Next go, I fell in at the start, only to look back up at all the people watching, good job I have little pride in myself anyway! Next one, I fell on the second corner again, and then the next one I got 1 and a half laps…falling on the second corner again!
At this point I could understand what people meant about the corners being quite hard! All in all, I had an awesome day, got very sunburnt, had good banter and then headed for some sleep in the on-site camp-site.
My arms were a wreck, I can now appreciate why everyone of them wakeboarders have such toned bodies!

Anyone that is thinking about trying wakeboarding, just do it. The people are really laid back, we encountered a couple of obnoxious riders that were really good, but stayed on longer than their 3 laps and obviously knew they were good, but other than that, everyone was chatty, friendly and more than willing to give advice and share stories.
The next day we went to Stainburn on the bikes…(next blog post)
Photos can be found here.
Sheffield Cable Water Ski website can be found here.

My first real Mountain Bike ride! (Walna Scar)

For someone that has ridden a mountain bike for 6 – 7 years that may seem like an odd title for this post…but its true! I have only been riding trail centres with the man made trails or little bits of natural trails but never a 6 and a half hour epic ride. After watching Eddie Izzard¬†marathon¬†man on TV, I decided I really needed to challenge myself with something, so when I got invited to this Walna Scar ride in the lake district it seemed inevitable! The lads that normally plan these rides are¬†renowned¬†for their fitness, which isn’t something I am currently in¬†possession¬†of… so there were a lot of nerves on my part as I know a lot of people hate waiting!

Setting off from Coniston in the Lake District, we headed up our first ascent, up to Parkamoor, which was a fair bit of road then onto a bridal way, which was an easy enough climb until about the last 300 metres, then I started to struggle, walking about 60 metres up the really loose gravel, then finally reaching the top.

After this was our first summit, and even though my body hated me, the view was inspiring over lake Coniston, to know that I had just¬†ridden¬†from the tiny collection of houses so far away to be this high up and looking down. If you are reading this and have never been up a mountain/massive hill I advise you to get out there as soon as possible, it is greatly humbling and awe inspiring. Such beauty and so close, it makes me that much more proud to be northern, London has its sky scrapers but they ain’t a patch on this!

Anyway, at this point I knew the riders I were riding with, were not your average mountain bikers…they were fit and knew what they were doing, which worried me. We descended from the top, all the way down to Water Yeat, and it was so fast, intense and crazy, it reminded me why I had built my bike up to be the way it is.
160mm travel at the front, solid rear end and a whole lot of commitment, made for an amazing ride down, split seconds to think about the direction you are going and the next obstacle to overcome. It was nice to be able to keep up, even over take one or two people on the down, it made me feel a little less inadequate on the bike.

The rush and the buzz over with at the bottom of the trail and on with a bit more “faffy” road riding to quote Kieran. I didn’t mind the road riding if I am honest, it made a change from the loose gravel climbing! I was pushing on to make sure I didn’t make anyone annoyed, but I don’t think they would have been anyway, so if any of you boys are reading this, thanks, I really appreciated your patience. We then climbed what I thought at the time was a bit of a monster hill, but¬†every time¬†I thought that, it got steeper and steeper, but I didn’t walk any!

Then we cut off and did some levelish riding on some lovely single track, then heading down to the river for some lunch and home made flapjack. At that point Kieran told us that we had gone the wrong way, but it isn’t an adventure unless you get a little lost! We then did another really fun descent which was wide enough for 2 or 3 bikes enticing a few of us to battle it out, a lot smoother than the first descent, but still with some challenging quick thinking rocks etc.

More road climbing, then onto a rough track, which, if I am honest, I walked about 100 metres as I just couldn’t be bothered to try getting over the rocks etc, but I used the group of 10 or 11 moto cross riders sessioning a steep hill as an excuse to slow down and watch.

Another fun descent after a short food¬†pit stop, which was fantastic to start with but after I stopped to get photos, my arms and legs decided to lose all energy! The route was¬†immensely¬†rocky, with rocks averaging about a foot diameter, they weren’t easy to negotiate on a hard tail, although, I am guessing it wouldn’t have been much easier on any amount of full suspension! Finally getting to the bottom, utterly drained and ready for our next climb.

I think this was our final climb, but I didn’t realise what kind of climb it was, finding the rest of the group waiting at the bottom of a crazy steep, huge rock, gnarly ascent…so I got off my bike and started walking without a thought of even trying it! A few of them tried and a few of them managed, nobody cleared it, but ¬†there were a few people that really impressed us! You can see the climb going up and up, and even walking with your bike was punishing enough, but then to look up and see Willy, Steve and Dave still riding was demoralising! The walk took a while and a lot of effort, but the view was more than worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone!

When we got to our highest point, the others were raring to go, so we set off straight away and started our 4 mile descent! It was again like the very first descent, so rocky and gnarly that you had very little time to think, but I found the best way was just to commit to everything you did and throw a fair bit of speed at it all, it gets your arms pumping and your legs running, with your brain running on overdrive it makes for one of the best descents around.¬†After about a third of the way down, I started noticing a few alternative routes, so was taking these, as they weren’t as loose etc, but often leaving me with a 3 or 4 foot drop to get back on the trail, ¬†but sometimes the alternative routes were smooth grass tracks and it made it so much faster and smoother, and in my opinion a lot more fun…until you wanted to stop.

This and the first descent were my favourite parts of the day, but then only to finish off with a mile long ride down a smooth tarmac road into Coniston, which at first I liked the thought of going fast, but only to realise that cars were coming up the same road in the opposite direction, still, it increased the adrenalin rush none the less. After I overtook the rest of the group at high speed, whilst having my brakes on full, I realised I had a bit of an issue with stopping, but fortunately no cars came the opposite way and the road flattened out, giving me time to slow down before the T-junction. Scary scary times!

All in all, I had an awesome day and I performed a lot better than I ever imagined I could. However, it is now the day after and I will not be taking that same seat with me on any rides longer than 3 hours, as I cannot sit down properly! I have a lot of respect to all the lads that went out that day and they all made for a ride that I will never forget. A real mountain bike ride, where you choose your own line instead of the trail builders line.
Here is a link to the photo album.
Here is a link to the Endomondo Android tracking results.
ps. I also think it was worth all the effort just for this photo…