On a trip racing in Wales I stayed at Springhill Farm Bunkhouse with 25 mountain bikers from the University of Edinburgh. The self-catered bunkhouse is part of a renovated cottage … Read more
It all started with a phone call in the dark depths of the Scottish winter. Fed up with the snow on the ground, fellow MJ blogger, Richard Lawes had got an itch he had to scratch. Richard had devised a plan to carryout a proper mountain bike expedition, spanning several days and taking in some varied terrain. After agreeing on some dates and penning them in the diary the maps came out.
The British National MTB Cross Country Series kicked off on Sunday at the standard season opening course – Sherwood Pines in the East Midlands. The flat course consisted of large chunks of tight singletrack interspersesed with short fire road sections. A different course to that used in previous years seemed to divide opinions amongst riders. With no big features along the course, there is little to get stuck into or to get too excited about. Whatever you say about the lack of gradient and the tame technical features, it’s a difficult course to ride fast and it promotes very tight racing.
I was really keen to test out Gore’s new Active Shell fabric, so when Gore offered the chance to test out one of their jackets, it proved the perfect opportunity. Having caught a rumour from a riding buddy that Gore where going to release a new super breathable, fully waterproof material I knew that it would be ideal for damp UK winter conditions. The new three-layer laminate has an inner layer, which offers excellent comfort next to skin.
Jack Richards, January 12, 2012
As the name suggests, Colorado-based nutrition company Honey Stinger have a preference for making quality sports nutrition using the natural power of honey. Bars contain over 30% honey and their gels appear … Read more
In June this year I went on a five-day mini cycletour of Northern Scotland. The aim of this trip, outside of being a good adventure and opportunity to see some different parts of Scotland, was to learn the ropes before embarking on a longer trip the following July. I wanted to assess how my kit performed and identify any weaknesses, to see if I go insane in my own company and to see what sort of distance I could cover. With a reasonable base bike fitness, I was not too concerned about the riding but the other aspects of the cycle touring which were largely new to me.
Last September I took delivery of a Yeti 575, as the name would suggest it’s a 5.75’’ travel trail bike. Kitted up with Fox Float forks, an RP23 rear shock, a mix of Sram X9 and X7 running gear, some DT Swiss hoops and Truvative components. Win.
To me the key performance indicator of a tent is that it keeps me dry. The biggest test of this: 2 days of near continuous rain in Slovenia, the tent passed. After a brutal night of rain I woke, and in my usual wet routine, got dressed in the tent into my cycling kit. This requires some contortion due to the tents compact size but is possible. With waterproofs on and kit packed into dry bags I dived out and was able to drop the tent in 2 minutes. Pannier on and I hit the road.
The old capital of Montenegro, Cetinje is an interesting town with eerie old buildings. I had a massive lunch at the excellent Restaurant Kole, super cheap and awesome food. The final 30km or so of my journey undulated a few times before I lost all my altitude as I headed down to the plane and Podgorica at just 40 metres above sea level.
I have now left Croatia behind and ridden into Montenegro. Due to an alteration to my route, I avoided Sarajevo and continued down the Croatian coast, entering Montenegro further south than I had originally planned. So rather than ride in the mountains today, I am still on the coast. This isn’t altogether a bad thing because I’ve heard numerous positive reports of the Kotor fjord,
racked up 3000m of climbing today.
I arrived in Ston sooner than I had anticipated so stopped for a coffee. A bakery sat to the side of the cafe – one great combination. Note: Ston has a fort on the hill with an impressive walled perimeter. Refuelled with awesome local pa
I digress, here I am on the Peljesac Peninsula, a spit of land which juts out the side of Croatia and into the Adriatic Sea just north of Dubrovnik. The ferry this morning took me to Korcula, a stunningly green island with few settlements and some sizeable hills. I rode the length of the island from Vela Luka to Korcula, working along perfectly smooth and deserted roads that made for some nice riding.
Alps and Dolomites. I aim to fix this in the next few days. With just another 3 days riding after today, it’s time to step it up a notch and crack on for Podgorica, hopefully gaining enough slack for a detour into Montenegros’s black mountains.
Entering into Sibnenik I noticed a UNESCO sign, indicating that the town was a World Heritage Sight. A quick check on Wikipedia over coffee revealed my target; The Cathedral of St. James.
So here I am in Pasman, just the sort of place I have been searching for this trip. A real paradise, I could certainly stay here for a few more days. But, tomorrow I continue south and keep on my bearing to Dubrovnik.
I first rode south on Krk towards the ferry at Valbuska. Krk is a nice island with lots of trees and a surprising amount of green. I then had a long 1.5hr ferry to Lopar on Rab, soaking in the sun and looking out at bright blue sea and islands all around.
I am going to hop from Krk to Rab and then on to Pag. A day on idillic Croatian islands sounds pretty appealing.
After 145km I arrived here at Postojna where I am 4 km from the largest caves in Europe, which I plan to check out in the morning. I knew today that if I could get away from the mountains, the weather would be likely to improve. I am now only 100km north of the Dalmatian coast so surely the weather couldn’t be that terrible here?
Today I rode the 26km round trip to Bovec to get food before the shops shut at 12 and to book a canyoning trip for the afternoon. I also sat in the town and drank cheap coffee. I joined a French couple who I met here at Korita Camp in Soca for a three hour canyoning trip. The Karst limestone region here is renowned for its gorges and rivers. Canyoning, rafting and kayaking are all being carried out in a big way.
At 1611m, the Vrsic pass is the highest in the Eastern Julian Alps and a climb I had read about some time ago and been wanting to ride. The descent consists of 26 tight hairpins, but this time they were paved. The highlight was a Porsche 911 pulling over to let me past as he realised I was faster then him.