Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ivana Falloffalot!

That was my name on today's ride! I've not fallen off this much in years, three times in one less than 15 miles ride!

I had hoped to do 20 miles but there were some very tired legs in our group so we did the short version of the ride. It was great to be out on proper Lakes bridleways, good technical riding and hard climbs. We have a regular ride that we do that starts at Wray Castle, heads up towards Iron Keld, down from there towards Little Langdale and Hodge Close, then back past Iron Keld then normally towards Hawkshead and up into Claife Heights. We missed out the Claife Heights section today.

Its a good ride, a bit of everything and not massively prone to being boggy. We were a bit later than normal setting off due to Jez's physio appointment, I don't think we started riding until after 11, there were 7 of us in total with 3 girlies riding.

First few miles were fine, my legs felt good after a full rest day of pigging out and I had to stop myself going off too hard at the start, it wasn't a local easy ride. It was really still but not massively sunny, which was suprising considering how windy it had been on the drive up. I ended up taking my waterproof off and putting my gilet on as I was too warm. I had my camera in one of the back pockets, there was some nice snow covering on the hills:

I hung back to take some pictures after we'd climbed up Iron Keld and were about to head down Arnside. I had a nice chat with a couple of elderly blokes, one of whom was fascinated by my bike, particularly the pedals. I then set off on the first part of the descent to catch up the others. This is one of my favourite Lakes descents, as it has a little bit of everything: rocks, rubble, ruts, sheep, grass, water spashes...

It was nice to do some more technical stuff though I had forgotten the rocky section at the top and just kind of blundered my way down it, I got better later.

We regrouped about half way down, just after the wall above. We continued down some more, I was in front for some reason and I was crossing a bit of a grassy plateau and looking well ahead as the track was about to split and there were quite a few line choices I could make.

All of a sudden I felt the front wheel slide away, now I've gotten lots of front wheel slides back before but not this one it went too fast and I slammed to the ground on my left side, still holding onto the handlebars wondering what the hell just happened. I had felt my head hit off the ground but as it was grass the helmet took it and I was fine.

My foot was stuck in the right pedal and I was tangled up with the bike, I shook my foot out and stuck my hand up to wave that I was ok. Then I realised that the ground was sopping wet and my kit was doing a fantastic job of soaking up the water, so I scrambled up. Fall No. 1.

In my world all this took a bit of time but according to everyone else I was only on the ground a matter of seconds before I jumped back up like a scalded cat. It was very spectacular and dramatic to watch apparently, particularly the bit where my head bounced off the ground. I felt fine, very wet and cold now but ok. I was very lucky a few metres further on and the rocks started again and it would have probably been a very different story.

We had a look to see what I had skidded on, there wasn't much but you could just see where my wheel had slid on a small rut (ruts and me at the minute!) hidden in the grass. I checked the camera and it had survived but I put it back in my bag and then proceeded to forget about it for the rest of the ride. I hate to think what I landed in but I seemed to spend the rest of the ride accompanied by the smell of sheep poo, though we were never far from sheep during most of the ride so I'm not sure.

I got back on and set off actually quite unshaken for me, rode the rest of the descent fine. Everything went ok for ages and I was generally riding well then we came to a "challenge" climb. It only a short but steep rise, it has a few rocks on it so you can't just take a straight line up it and you can't do it in too easy a gear as the front will wander but too hard a gear and you won't get up it either. Now I've cleaned it before but I think it has been on the Titus as on the On One the rocks were getting in the way of my back wheel.

On the second attempt I was really close but still had to unclip, but my left foot (normal unclipping foot) got stuck and I toppled over onto a big rock. It took me a while to wriggle it out. Fall No 2, not quite so dramatic. I've been having a few problems with unclipping since I changed the cleats but thought it was because the old cleats were so worn that I only had to think about unclipping and my foot was out, I obviously wasn't twisting out enough.

We continued, I was annoyed at this fall and was becoming sure that my brakes weren't working properly, I think the rear needs new pads and I wasn't imagining that one. I was also thinking that my forks were blowing through their travel and also rebounding very quick but I put that down to the gremlins getting into my head after falling off.

My legs were still feeling strong and I was generally riding better and better. I realised that my technical skills needed sharpening up a bit really but I was still trying to descend at a speed too fast for my current ability. I decided to slow my descending down a bit, until the next descent where I forgot of course.

On the evil climb back up to Iron Keld I had the tell tale throb of a forming bruise just above my left knee. I managed to clean the climb with a gear to spare which is the first time ever, it has a lot of loose stuff on it and some roots but I managed it all ok today, was puffing like a train at the top as usual though. I also noticed on this climb that the instep seem on my right boot was now unstitched, oh great, I hope I don't have to fork out for a new pair of winter boots. I didn't notice when setting off so may have done this in the first crash?

The track rolls along in a generally upwards direction, some technical sections I clean easily though they have filled in some of the bigger holes annoyingly. We were almost at the top where there is a bit of a rockstep, at least on the line I was on. I have cleaned it before but this time I didn't quite lift my front wheel high enough or something, whatever I stalled with front up step and back wheel still below it. I just couldn't unclip my left foot at all and I fell hard onto my left knee on the rocks. I was extremely peed off with this, I didn't spud myself (or should it be egg myself as I ride eggbeaters?) this much when I first had clipless! Well I did but that's not the point. Fall No 3.

After various people had finished laughing at me I realised that my left foot was still stuck in the pedal and I couldn't move. I couldn't seem to get my right foot to a position where it would help me get up. In the end after a bit of pointless flailing of limbs, Jez had to lift my bike up a bit and Ed had to help me up a bit before I could free my foot.

I sat down at the side of the track and had a look at my shoe, the cleat had moved. Jez got the multitool out and one of the cleat screws was really loose. What cretin put them on? Oh, that would be me! D'oh. It was tightened up for me. I was annoyed at not getting up something I'd managd in the past so as everyone else continued on I pushed back down a bit so I could ride what I'd just messed up and cleaned it no problem at all, typical.

Downhill for a bit as I caught up with Pam and cruised downhill, her back tyre rolled over a rock which threw her back wheel seriously sideways, almost level with the front. She calmly just kept riding, when we got to the bottom she said she had quite a scare! Didn't look like it from where I was though so well done to Pam.

After that is was a short slide along a muddy track then back along the road for a bit to the cars. We packed up and decided to head to Wilfs for some food, I was wondering how I was going to find room for some food as I'd had energy drink in my Camelbak and we hadn't really been out that long. As we set off driving I was soon starving. Even though we had done quite a short ride we had been out for quite a while, actual moving speed was about the same as normal but there were a lot more rest and faff stops (and not just me falling off) than normal which I hadn't taken account of.

Having had a think about my forks, the last time I can remember that I put or messed around with the air in the forks was when the On One was built. I can't remember exactly when that was but it was built around 8 - 9 months after the Titus was built. The Titus was built in August 2005!

I run the Revelations at 115 mm on the On One and over the last couple of months I've been gradually unwinding the UTurn doofer to keep it at 115mm, so I think its about time I looked at what the settings are. The Rev forks have been utterly fit and forget.

Oh, MTB gods..its someone else's turn to fall off!


  1. I've had a day of falls like that due to cleats being lose. I never think to check they are tight, should check often! Sounds a good ride, lakes riding is hard!

  2. Some very nice photos. Sounds like a good ride.