Friday, February 1, 2019

Look out Nepal - Here's Nellie!





So far so good. My excellent friend Mitch Bryan dropped me off at Derby Railway Station, and with only a minor delay to the trains in Birmingham I boarded my flight to Doha seamlessly with the super efficient Qatar Airways. I scraped in on the 30kg luggage allowance with only 2.5 pouches of Aldi cat treats over the limit. The nice lady at check-in let it go, and the shop cat at Himalayan Singletrack in Thamel, Kathmandu was, later, very pleased.
The flight to Doha had barely anyone aboard and I had a row of three seats all to myself, that’s a rare luxury indeed for the frequent traveller; all I had to do was try not to fall asleep. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh kept me royally entertained for quite a while. The inflight meal was a delicious Chicken Biryani, followed by an even more delicious blackcurrant cheesecake. I’m very happy about the improvement of inflight meals; I thought about the first one I ever had, on a Balkan Airlines flight to Bulgaria in 1984, it was so bad that on my return flight home I pretended to be asleep so that I didn’t have to eat it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2018. A shit-happens kind of a year.


2018 was a bit of a strange old year for me.
I was still firmly in the recovery stages from my shoulder operation by the time The Puffer (Strathpuffer 24 hour race) came around in late January. I was entered to race in the solo category along with a bunch of other mates with the same idea. It turned out that the trail conditions, fairly heavy with snow, were a bit too sketchy for me; I was still under strict guidelines from the Consultant Surgeon not to take any risks. So instead of racing I elected to man the pits and support the guys instead.
It was a nice way to experience the event, and I got a tremendous buzz from helping and encouraging my mates to finish, even though I would have much preferred to be racing. Hey-ho. This year I will be racing in a quad team for Alpkit. I'm really looking forward to this even though I am a bit short on fitness.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Sonder Signal Ti - Building a Dream Machine.


The Motel du Mugling is an oasis of calm on the bustling Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway. I called in and ate an unplanned lunch with my friend Sagar, the manager. It was unplanned because I had already eaten breakfast there a few hours previously; inbetween times I had made a minor navigational error and cycled 26 or so kilometres in the wrong direction before retracing my steps to begin all over again. My initial 90km trundle to Pokhara was now to be a slightly more hectic race against daylight.
I'd arrived in Kathmandu a few days prior to this and spent my time pleasantly hanging out in the - now traffic-free - tourist hub of Thamel, catching up with old friends, drinking coffee, and riding familiar trails around the valley rim.
Familiar trails with familiar friends on an unfamiliar bike.
I'd been given a great opportunity to ride the final prototype of the new Sonder Bikes Signal Ti 29" Hardtail with the explicit purpose of capturing some high mountain images of the bike in its natural environment (see my initial review here).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Yak Attack - The Essentials (2018 onwards)


As a seasoned Yak Attacker I get asked a lot of questions throughout the year; what kit? what bike? what to expect?
I wrote a piece about this in 2013 (See here), most of which is still relevant, some of it is not.
After being involved in six consecutive editions I've accumulated a fair bit of experience. I've now pretty much got my own kit dialled. This is my attempt to bring everything up to date for the benefit of anyone planning to take it on. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Not The Manx 100.


The Manx 100 is a 100 mile single day ultra-endurance mountain bike race around the mountainous terrain of The Isle of Man.
It had been on my radar since it inception in, I think, 2012. This year was the first time that I had found a window to enter.
Mitch, Paul, Pascal (Fluffy), Alan, and I set off from Belper with great expectations - not of winning, I might add, but of an adventure and a great challenge.
Unfortunately, as we were driving up the M6 on our way to Liverpool, Mitch received a text message announcing the cancellation of the ferry crossings due to bad weather in the Irish Sea. Sod's Law dictated that during one of the hottest and driest summers on record we were heading to The Isle of Man on the only shitty weekend for months, you couldn't make it up. We sat in limbo at the dreary Knutsford Services whilst trying to figure something out. A phone call to the ferry provider - The Steam Packet Company - confirmed our worst fears, no places were available on subsequent ferries until the following day which meant we wouldn't be toeing the start line for the race. A phone call to Nigel Morris, the race organiser, didn't bring any further hope even though he bent over backwards to help us out, thank you Nigel. It also turned out that Nigel had never known of a ferry ever being cancelled in July.