Monday, 18 April 2016

Bantu Beausage or Bicycle Butchery?

I'm going with Bike Butchery...

The gorgeous weather yesterday had lured me out for another ride on the Voodoo Bantu, albeit only for a brief potter, and having lugged the Manfrotto Magic Arm around on the last few rides and not used it, I thought I'd give it a go to try and get some low down, into the sun, on board, riding shots.

I do like messing about with cameras and gear from time to time, but on this occasion, these rather less than exciting shots came at a cost to the poor Voodoo.

Now, the clamp on the arm is a bit of a brute, so I normally use a short length of old inner tube inside the jaws to protect paintwork, unless I'm clamping it on the Carrera, which being an old snotter, can only be enhanced by additional scars. Old inner tube is ideal for the job, as it grips the paint as well as protecting it, and allows the clamp to get a firm hold, so it's an important item in my kit. Well it is when I can find it anyway, and yesterday I couldn't. I went through every pocket, nook and cranny of my rucksack but to no avail. Oh well I thought, just be careful doing the clamp up and don't twist it and all will be fine. Yeah right.

All went well until I had finished with taking the photos and on dismounting, caught the arm with my leg and yes, it gave the clamp a good twist. The result was a dreadfully ugly gash in the paint on the left seat stay, and the air was as blue as the flakes of paint now resting in the grass below.... I was rather less than delighted with my clumsiness, and am still beating myself up about it now, a day later. 

Not a scratch... that is a big gash on the seat stay there. It makes me want to cry just looking at the photo...

Now I do like a bit of Beausage as it goes - beauty through usage, wearing its scars with pride, memories marked in the paint and so on. Cars/motorcycles/bicycles can gain a lot of character with the patina of use. But this is not beautiful, nor is it born out of some epic ride or rides, but rather out of my being a Klutz, and that just isn't right. It is bordering on bike abuse in fact, and I feel ashamed to have done such a careless thing. The Voodoo may only be a cheapo entry level model, but that's no excuse for slipshod treatment. The finish on the bike is very fragile though, with paint flaking off the rims almost since it was new, and clamping straight onto the Carrera hasn't in fact marked that bike at all. So the Voodoo has soft or brittle paint, but still... I'm a weapons grade Dufus and I hang my head in shame.

I spent a while sat on this bench muttering sweary rebukes to myself and probably looking very grumpy.

Oh well, it was still a nice day weather wise, so recriminations over, for the time being anyway, I carried on with the ride and taking more photos.

I even had a little off road mooch up a remote footpath. Footpaths of course, are a bit of a no-no on a bike, but this one is used by farm vehicles and shooting enthusiasts, as well as horse riders so knickers to it, I'm going for a potter. I do also think a lot of footpaths should be opened up to bikes anyway, although I know the Ramblers won't like it one bit, but it would really open up a lot more trails for riders to explore safely and away from roads.

It's that time of year again...

But, even though I was sorely miffed with myself, I did go on to enjoy the rest of the ride (only after I'd spent a while sat on a bench beating myself up for being a numpty, until I finally ran out of new and exciting words to scold myself with and actually started to chill out a bit once again). Just me, the bike, a few birds and the crackle of tyres on gravel, all in the sunshine - bliss!

What is more, Craig, my neighbour, is building up a Spesh Tricross out of bits, and I came to his rescue in the evening with an external BB tool, so making myself feel at least slightly useful after all. 

He has long regretted selling his old Tricross, a bike he clearly loved, and was in our local LBS asking if they knew of any locally for sale. Well they didn't know of any complete bikes, but did have a frame from one, and in his (giant) size too. So with the frame now resprayed to match the colour of his earlier model, he is now assembling the bike out of all the bits he's bought, and I must say, it's all looking rather good. 

Building a bike up out of bits is something I'd love to do one day - so much more rewarding than just opening a box and pulling a bike out. Not as cheap, granted, but a heck of a lot more satisfying. 

Right, touch up paint... blue... Gaaahhhhh....

The route was exactly the same as I did on Fatso the other day, but still. The bigger version is Here

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Niggles And Some Retail Therapy.

Another ride in the bag yesterday, so time to look back at that, but it wasn't the only ride I had this past week.

Things were a bit out of sorts for me at the start of the week, the culprits being anxiety and a bit of 'depression lite'. Not a full blown depressive episode, I wouldn't be writing about it so soon if it had been as I'd still be in bed or sat staring at some random telly channel for hours, but the first few days weren't much fun, a not unusual state of affairs to be honest, but still.

Trying to get my my head on an even keel I did get on Fatso on Tuesday and headed off down my beloved Tregassow Lane for some bimbling. Sometimes a good bimble does wondrous things for the general mood, sometimes it doesn't, and Tuesday it was the latter that prevailed. It wasn't a bad day weather wise at all, and the lanes are getting very spring like now in colour and warmth, but I just couldn't relax, nor find my riding rhythm. Everything seemed a bit niggly, although I was still enjoying being on Fatso, the bike wasn't the problem, it was my head that still wasn't playing ball. I did still get a couple of photos though, including a ride past selfie, which took some doing given I wasn't really in the mood for faffing about, so it wasn't a complete disaster. But on the whole, it wasn't a ride to look back on with satisfaction.

Fatsoing Tregassow Lane. General grumpiness and excess of glums not shown.

The banks along Tregassow Lane are thick with Primroses in places, and really light the lane up with colour.

Meanwhile, I had indulged in a little retail therapy to cheer me up, and from mid week onwards, a few things started to arrive in the post.

First up was a pair of full finger mountain biking gloves from Aldi. Along with their rival Lidl, Aldi do some half decent stuff in their bike related range, the workstands for £25 being a particular bargain. My yellow cycling jacket cost £20 from Aldi back in 2013, and it has done sterling service, with there being absolutely nothing wrong with it after some fairly robust use. All the zips work, none of the pockets have holes etc. I only got another jacket as I've lost weight and the Aldi number was getting a bit baggy on me. Their stuff may not be up to Rapha standards of quality and desirability, but for the money, it ain't bad at all. 
The only issue in the past has been their gear has only been available in store, and then mostly only on certain dates. So I was very pleased to learn they have started selling online, and even better, to begin with, goods are sent postage free. Reading some posts on a couple of forums about it, the MTB gloves seemed a good bet for a penny under £7, as I need something between the full on cosyness of the winter gloves, and my shorty fingered jobs for the cold mornings.
So a pair duly arrived by courier (one of their smaller packages to carry I imagine) and they aren't bad at all. I take a medium glove, and these are tight in the cuff, so getting my hand into them requires a little wriggling and pulling, but once on, they feel fine, although there is a seam at the ends of the fingers, but so far it hasn't bothered me in my only ride with them. They also do some with gel pads, but I'm wary of the pad being in the wrong place for me and causing discomfort so just opted for a plain pair. Build wise they seem pretty good for the money, but we'll see how they stand up to use. I've found I can operate my camera ok with them on which is always good, but wouldn't like to say about a touch screened phone, and I don't own such a device of the devil, so can't comment on that angle. On the whole though, they look a decent enough buy, and were certainly warm and comfortable on my ride yesterday.

Aldi MTB gloves. A good commuting glove too I'd say, they are quite warm to wear and wrap themselves around the hand nicely to fit... well, like a glove really.

Now in the photo above the gloves are seen resting on top of a box, that arrived almost at the same time. That box came from Merlin Cycles who are fast becoming another fave of mine for bike stuff online, and contained a rack for the Jamis. I've long harboured thoughts of adding a rack and panniers to the 29er, and finally decided to get the deed done. 

A chap I know on Flickr often does tease photos of new gear he's bought, just showing little corners or details of things before the big reveal a few days later. So I was going to do that with the rack and panniers, but didn't try very hard, as this shot is a bit of a give away as to what this is part of. I also haven't photographed the panniers yet anyway... doh...

Now here begins a minor rant. Rack manufacturers do themselves few favours with their vague product descriptions. Just look at the questions and answers to staff/customers on the web sites and see how many questions are asked relating to the rack in question's suitability for disc braked bikes. So many racks I looked at gave no clue in their blurb as to whether they would fit the wider mounts of a disced up bike, which is pretty dumb given how the brakes can be found on so many types of bike these days. But Tortec have seen sense, and trumpet the discability loudly and clearly of their Transalp rack. 

Now this is what we like - Clear details of what this rack is intended for and will fit. Other manufacturers, not just of racks mind you, but of anything, please note.
This rack seems well made, (5 year guarantee too) the finish looks hard wearing, and that separate pannier rail below the top rail is a great feature. Mudguard bodge not yet thought of...
Another maker's rack was advertised as being 29er disc specific, which is great, well done them, but was just a triangle down to the drop outs, and didn't have the extended rear sections to keep panniers out of the back wheel. Doh... Uh uh... 1/10.

For £19.95 it's not a bad deal at all, although it doesn't have a platform on top if that is important (it's not for me). Furthermore, fitting it was an absolute breeze, rather than the skinned knuckle swear fest of a gruesomely bitter bout with a rack I had in the past. I had hoped the floppy seat post mounted rear guard could be squeezed beneath the rack, but it wasn't to be. So, not to be outdone, I removed the guard from its mount, butchered it by boring some holes in it and mounted it beneath the rack using the bodgers favourite tool - cable ties. Not pretty, but with panniers in place it'll be largely hidden, and hopefully will keep some crud off my back. I'm debating whether to go for full touring mudguards though, but they can wait until later in the year I think. 

And now an info fail from me.

For some daft reason, I haven't taken a photo of the panniers, (yet),  but they turned up on Thursday afternoon, not bad given I ordered them on Tuesday morning. Oh, and they came from Germany. So hats off to Bikester from whom they came (they're a trader on Amazon), and also DHL. I've had stuff posted in Truro 4 miles away take longer than that to arrive.

The panniers were £55 a pair including shipping and seem decent enough. They're not as big or made from as tough vinyl as Ortliebs, but don't cost as much either to be fair. They have a roll top closure beneath the lid, and are apparently fully waterproof according to reviews. They are available in all black, or black back and ends with red front and lids, but having seen how the pair of Avenirs on the Carrera have faded I opted for all black. 
Buying these new bags was pure vanity really, the Avenirs would fit in seconds of course, but they just look rather disreputable now, while the rest of the bike is clean and tidy.
I've yet to try these bags out as I haven't ridden the bike, and I've also decided on another couple of changes for which I'm waiting on the parts, so photos will follow once all the mods are done.

I also did some shoppery on another online fave - Decathlon. Nothing too major, just a pair of black cargo type trousers (£13, not bad at all), another baseball type hat for on the bike (£4) and a pair of very cheap and cheerful sunglasses (also £4). 

So where are we up to now? Ah yes, coffee. Now I like a drop of coffee, and drink more than is good for me, especially given one of my ailments, but still.  Coffee is the elixir of life itself. Well coffee and ketchup, ketchup is right up there as well. 
Where was I? Oh yes, I also want to improve my stamina on the bike for longer rides (although I'm still going to be a bit limited by other factors but there we go) and a review in a mountain bike mag of some Truestart Performance Coffee caught my eye. 
The folk behind Truestart say that regular coffees contain varying amounts of caffeine, hence how sometimes a mug of your fave brew will see you buzzing sometimes, while on other occasions, another jar of the same coffee won't. Truestart say they maintain a consistent 95mg of caffeine per scoop, and the whole deal is aimed at sporty types wanting to make sure they are alert and up for going harder and longer from the off, which sounds good. So three sample sachets duly arrived (go on their Web site if you want to try them yourselves) and yesterday was my first go with some (yay! We're almost up to date!)

Hmmmm... Road testing some coffee? Yep, I'm up for that.

Feeling a bit more balanced by now, and with decent weather forecast, I had to get out on a bike. So yesterday morning I supped a steaming mug of this turbo coffee and headed out on the Voodoo (I'd just cleaned Fatso...again...). The sachets of coffee are quite small, and it's sort of hard to tell how much of a boost it gave me, but I was certainly awake and enjoying myself, so it may well have played a part. 

The Voodoo was clean on setting off as well, but I'm not so fussy about it as I am with Fatso...

Yesterday was certainly a nice morning to potter about in the lanes.


"Awright mate? Coming through..."

And there he goes... I don't think I was the only one using performance enhancing chemicals yesterday, this snail was clearly on a mission and going straight as an arrow, though not quite as fast, up the road. 

Thursday night had seen rain a plenty, and indeed the skies still looked like they could dump on me at any time, but the sun was also in and out like a Fiddler's elbow, warming these old bones nicely when out, leaving them to feel the freshness of the cold northerly wind when it went behind a cloud. But the countryside is really a bit special in these conditions - the air is clear and with the ground wet, and the sun shining, the colours are saturated and the views distinct and contrasty. 

With no set plan for the ride in mind, I just got bimblesome on some of my regular routes, heading down to Boswiddle Ford to annoy the crows in the tree tops and to listen to the roar of the water dropping off the road and into the stream. Soon it'll fall silent as all the water passes beneath the road, but for now, there is still an invigorating roar to enjoy.

Leaving Boswiddle on the road to Ladock.

Boswiddle Ford. I don't think I've ever ridden straight through here without stopping for a good linger. It's a spot I enjoy poking about and just taking in the surroundings.

A quick blat along the Ladock main road, a bit of a slog up to the hamlet of Trendeal and once again up to Carland Cross, and then home via a bit of a hoon along the old A39 saw the ride knock up 12 miles and the niggles of earlier in the week all forgotten. 
Actually, I think that coffee really did give me a boost, as on that hoon I hit 34mph - not bad for a broken old giffer on a 26 inch wheeled mountain bike. I was pedaling like an Armstrong being chased by a dope tester mind you, but maybe I will invest in some more of this octane booster... Look out roadies, I'm coming for ya!

 Ladock Cricket Club clearly don't like dog bombs on their pitch, and quite right too.

Those cheapo sunglasses have quite large lenses and the frames wrap around the sides quite a lot too, so they keep out eye watering draughts and pesky insects as well. They are a bit like looking through a big ND filter though, and keep revealing detail in the sky for example which on taking them off, disappears, annoyingly enough! I also often found myself pulling them down a bit and peering over them to see just how sunny it was at that given time, they are that effective, yet seeing where I was going in the shadow of dense trees was no problem.

They do look darn sexy on me though... (ok, ok... I can dream can't I?)

Map of the bimblage and potterage. 

The bigger interactive jobbie (well you can enlarge it, and find out what elevations I gasped up) can be found Here

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Doing The (Cornish) Coast To Coast.

Friday evening, at about 6.45pm, my phone went. This was lucky on two counts: A – I hadn't had dinner yet so could opt for something lighter than usual given the nature of the call, and B – Coronation Street ahem... erm... my world affairs and foreign arts programme wasn't on until 7.30pm, because if that gets interrupted, I get muchly miffed.

The caller was Craig, professional northerner, banter dispenser, and next door neighbour, asking if I fancied a ride the following day. The initial plan was for something more road focused, so having left the final choice of route up to him, I went and fished the Jamis out of the shed and gave it a wipe and a check over ready for the morning.

Saturday (yesterday) morning dawned colder than the knocker on an Eskimo's front door, and wet with it. It was utterly mank outside as another mucky, blustery, shower drove hard against the windows while I huddled up with a cup of coffee and gloomily checked the forecast on the internet, which actually wasn't too bad. Soon enough, the phone rang again and it was Craig, full of optimism and enthusiasm for the ride ahead, but with a change of plan ride wise. He thought the Coast to Coast Mineral Tramway Trail (snappy name eh?) would be worth a go, as it isn't far from home if we got a soaking (one option discussed had been a ride out of Plymouth, and that's up country that is, where they talk funny n'stuff, and about 50 miles away) and also offered some sheltered sections.

So that was it, meteorological misgivings still rumbling around in my thoughts, I bunged the Jamis back in the shed from it's overnight spot in the kitchen, and fished the sparkly clean Fatso out of the living room, as this route is mostly off road and more suited to something better equipped for the rougher stuff.

Not long after, we found ourselves in Devoran and started unloading the van, after driving through one light but hellishly windy shower, which did little lift my spirits.

Pre ride checks revealed soft Schwalbes necessitating some unplanned aerobic exercise.

Now calling this ride a coast to coast might seem a bit of a stretch, but that is its official title, and Devoran and its quays were once visited by some quite large ships. Just don't go there with your deck chairs and bucket and spade, expecting golden beaches and sand in your ice cream. No. What you will find though is mud, or if the tide is in, a creek, but it qualifies as being on the coast, (It's just off Carrick Roads) so there.

The trail links the two old mining ports of Devoran on the south coast with the more seasidey Portreath on the Atlantic coast 11 miles away, and is made up of two old horse drawn tramways – The Portreath Tramroad and the Redruth and Chasewater (that's the old spelling of Chacewater) Railway. On the way it passes old mine workings, rivers that are still heavily polluted by various metals, through woods and hamlets, open farmland and across or along lanes. All in all, an interesting ride and mostly flat(ish).

Some more info can be found Here

It wasn't long after we'd set off that Craig started moaning about pointing out that his legs were aching... He hasn't ridden as much as he'd like in recent months, and when he has taken a bike out, it has been his electric mountain bike, and now he was having to provide all the power aboard his Cube 29er, he was feeling it.

Trundling sedatley along the Carnon Valley (Truro to Falmouth branch on the viaduct ahead) but already the other half of this dynamic duo is grumbling about aching legs and dragging tyres, despite pumping 'em up a few minutes previously.

Fording one of the bigger puddles found along the route. Clean looking water too.

Not such clean water beneath this bridge though. Thanks to all the mine workings around here, the rivers,streams and occasional pond are polluted with a cocktail of nasties probably containing lead, arsenic, tin, copper, zinc and anything else you can think of.

In parts the trail is very rough and stony, but Fatso was soaking it all up in grand fashion and I was soon really enjoying the ride, more so than on previous rides along here. The weather was behaving itself as well, with warm sunshine seeing off the chills as we motored northwards, going from gravel one minute to mud plugging the next, and having a good old chat along the way.

The trail features a variety of surfaces and scenery.

It can be busy too. Not just with oldies either, plenty of family groups with young 'tackers' on tiny bikes were in evidence as well.

Getting closer to Portreath, it wasn't just his legs that were bothering the northern half of our mini peleton though, Craig was clearly suffering another malady as he subtly pointed out - "Woo me bloody arse, it's flippin' killing me it is. I feel like I'm sat on a flippin' fence post and I've got an arse full o' splinters."  So bad were things getting, that barely a mile from Portreath he needed a rest stop to ease his backside and to suck on a gel or two to boost flagging legs. Craig is off on a ten day ride up to and across Devon in a few weeks aboard his Giant hybrid, so this lack of fitness was clearly worrying him. 

Poor old Craig was really feeling it after about ten miles so needed a quick pit stop. Leaving his bike on its drive side was making my teeth itch... Path here looks nice - looks can be deceiving though...

The section of trail we'd stopped on is all tarmac, but it feels like it was just laid straight on top of every tree root, stone, dead body and random lump going. It looks smooth enough as you approach, but is very lumpy and is actually not that nice to ride on, lurching and pitching the unfortunate pilot out of his or her seat one minute and jarring the handlebars the next.

Portreath was finally reached though, along with the unmistakable smell of the sea, as we threaded our way along a side road, then the main road, to the harbour side car park. The holiday season hasn't kicked in yet, and most of the locals would be working, in the pub, or the shops, of a Saturday lunch time, and so the car park was pretty much empty, and only a few hardy souls were out and about taking the air. Here, with the wind blowing in off the sea, it was a bit chilly, even when the sun was out, so we decided not to stay long, and then on seeing a huge black cloud clearly dumping large amounts of rain out at sea, but coming towards us, we opted to linger even less long, so saddled up again and got out of there quicker than a Bishop leaving a Brothel raid, hoping to outrun the looming deluge.

Yay! The end of the line at Portreath. The couple on the right give a strong clue as to how the weather felt rather than how it looked at this point. Looming, leaking, cloud to the left of the frame not shown.

Messing about with the bleach bypass filter in the Nik software collection (now free to download by the way).

So, with the wind now behind us, we set off at quite a good pace, back the same way we'd come, ploughing through the muddy puddles and over the gravelly bits with a grim determination to keep moving. This of course took an even bigger toll on Craig's flagging legs, and once again we pulled up so he could swallow another couple of gels and some of my Jelly Babies. Whilst there he also angled his seat down, which looked all wrong but apparently eased the bum soreness considerably.

Plenty of slaloming fun through gates to be had.

A quick shot taken while Craig was resting his legs again. (the bike is facing back the way we'd just come at this point).

On we went again, maintaining a steady pace expecting at any moment to be swallowed up from behind by advancing shadow and pelted by blustery rain, but it never happened! We made it back to the van without a drop of water hitting us (at least not from the sky, plenty did from the puddles but we didn't mind that). Now I know we were piling on the coals a bit coming back, but even I know we couldn't outrun weather that is travelling at about 20 mph or more, not on that trail we couldn't anyway. So that ominous looking cloud must've diverted off somewhere else or something, whatever, from an awful looking start to the day, it had turned out to be a belter.

So that was 22 very enjoyable miles, although my legs were starting to go towards the end too.
As ever when riding with others, the focus was on riding, so there weren't any photo stops, or at least, not as many as I would have if I were on my own, so this post hasn't featured the usual photospam, relying instead on mostly GoPro shots.

As for Fatso, I love this bike! I've said it before but I'll say it again, Fat Bikes aren't just for snow and sand, as the 'never ridden one but will still pass judgement' critics will have it known. The Tramway Trail can be tooth looseningly juddery at times on the stony parts, but Fatso just absorbed the lot with aplomb, as he/it did with everything else we encountered along the way, and without any noticeable tyre drag, or heavy weight to heave around. Doubtless if someone is used to a featherweight full susser flying machine, a Fat Bike will seem like a bit of a bus, but they really are much better all rounders than the looks, and critics, suggest. 
I should've rewarded Fatso though with a thorough wash on getting home as the bike is truly grooted, but my showering needs were deemed greater, along with pressing food and coffee requirements, so it is a very, very mucky bike that is sat behind me now as I type this, but it's also a reminder of what a darned good ride on the trails we had.

A map of the route is best found on the Sustrans site.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Byway and Bridleway, Birds and Planes. Oh And A Blast From The Past.

Yesterday's ride was produced in association with Immodium, purveyors of fine tablet based bowel bungs, just as part of a belt and braces approach to boost confidence after my last ride was cut short rather prematurely, not to mention stressfully, by some unwanted inner turbulence and stirrings.

But anyway, enough of all that, it was another sunny morning and I needed to get out again on a bike for a ride. I'd just given Fatso a big old clean after my trip through the woods the other day, but the Voodoo was pre muddied so that was the bike for the job. But where to go? I didn't have anything in mind so just set sail and decided to find out where I was going when I got there.

The Voodoo does have one advantage over Fatso I've found, and that is in regard to the freehub. Coasting on Fatso is accompanied by a noise not unlike a chainsaw, which does have its advantages when approaching dozy pedestrians in the road or on the paths and so on. Meanwhile the Voodoo's budget jobbie barely makes a sound when freewheeling, which when you're drifting down a country lane with the warming sun on your face and listening to the birds, revelling in the peace and tranquillity of the moment, is very welcome.

Pottering towards Ladock enjoying the fresh morning, I soon became aware of the machine gun rattle of a Woodpecker busy nearby. In fact, the 'pecker in question was drilling away at a tree right beside the road, so I spent a couple of minutes trying to look up into said tree, and getting a severe neck ache in the process, and watch him, while marvelling at how such a small bird can combine with a tree to make such an incredible noise. Had I been on Fatso I reckon old Woody Woodpecker there would've beggared off smartish on hearing me approaching, fearing a lumberjack had plotted up intent on a bit of tree felling.

Well soon enough I found myself in Ladock, which it must be said, isn't exactly a teeming metropolis. There's not a whole lot going in Ladock of a Tuesday morning to delay the happy wanderer, so after pushing the Voodoo up the footpath to the church, I headed out of the village up a lane which joins the road from Grampound Road to Fraddon. Neither of those villages tickled my fancy much either, they're a funny lot in Grampound Road and in Fraddon they're just plain odd, but a plan was soon hatched to get a bit of off roading in and head back in a loop by using a Bridleway and a Byway I know of.

Downtown Ladock. 

Up the footpath from the middle of Ladock are the remains of an old cottage, with these Campion growing outside.

Either that was one hell of a blow out or the farmer has cut his old tractor tyre in half, possibly to use as a water trough or a feeder.

The first Bridleway (point 7 on the map) is a peach. It passes Great Hewas Farm and also several houses, indeed I passed a couple of cars as I made my way down it, so is in pretty good nick surface wise. It is also lined with Daffodils so is all rather pleasant it must be said. Not so good though, at least at first, is the concrete surface. In some sections, it has had some diagonal wavy grooves tamped into the surface and the initial reaction on encountering these is to think the wheels have suddenly come loose. Look up 'Squirrely' in the cyclist's dictionary and it'll probably say 'see Great Hewas Bridleway...' maybe. Whatever, it feels like the back wheel is no longer related to the front and has gone freelance, making its own way up the lane. Once the initial alarm subsides though, it's quite good fun bombing along with the bike squirming about beneath you, yet still heading straight ahead, mostly.

One of my favourite signs...

The start of the Bridleway and very inviting it is too.

 Oh joy... More blurry photo uploads... 

Great Hewas Bridleway has open stretches, and more sheltered parts, and I have another fuzzy upload... grrrr....

Whilst hardly challenging riding, nor particularly remote from other people, it's still an enjoyable little jaunt. Less so is the short dodge along the B3275 Ladock main road, which is a bit twisty and so likely to see you with an artic breathing down your neck if you're unlucky. Being unlucky, and seeing another Bridleway signposted on the left, I took the opportunity to get out of the trucker's way and have a quick poke of my nose up this path too, which I'm yet to explore. I hadn't gone far before I found a chap in thje middle of the path with binoculars watching some avian unruliness going on in the adjacent tree tops. Once again I was straining my neck and back trying to look up as the chap explained there was a Buzzard trying to see off some Rooks or Ravens in an aerial battle for nesting territory. Sure enough, it was all kicking off up there, as the Buzzard swooped majestically about, dive bombing the Corvids who in turn tried to give chase, accompanied by what must in the bird world be some pretty strong language. I couldn't watch for long unfortunately, so bid the chap goodbye and headed back to, and across, the main road once again, to the Byway I'd planned to use to head me back in the vague direction of home turf (point 8 on the map from the B3275 up to the T junction).

Where the Byway starts to open up a bit after the overgrown entrance. It doesn't look bad, but it was pretty muddy and wheelspin became an issue several times, making for an abrupt halt and prang saving dab.

Now this track is a Byway, and so technically legally accessible to motor vehicles, but rather than legally, the key word there is technically, 'cos the going up this track is very technical. Rough as a Badger's backside is another description perhaps, as it's narrow, stony, rutted and rooty. Oh and muddy. Lots of mud. I was certainly missing Fatso now, as the fat bike would've blitzed this terrain, even with old clueless here in the saddle, but on the Voodoo I struggled a lot. This I must point out is operator failure and not the fault of the bike, which would be fine with lower tyre pressures and a more skilled and able bodied pilot at the helm. But after romping through or over anything in my path in the woods the other day on Fatso, I was a bit miffed to be struggling so badly on the Bantu.

The start of this track also feels positively tropical. The previous Bridleway was all wide open to the sky and countryside, this Byway though feels very jungle like as the long and straggly vegetation hems you in, and running water babbles all around as a couple of streams pass beneath, or across, the track on their way to joining a small river on the other side. It felt humid with just the warm spring sun , in summer it feels really rainforest like. Sort of.

Hoi! Flipping Biggles... Will you please stop dicking about and beggar off?! 
This thing was doing laps over my head all morning, or so it seemed, and it even made the local paper's online pages. It's a Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS jobbie, with a rotating radar wotsname on the back. Couldn't have been working though, or their sat nav was frozen or something,  as I think they were lost and flying around looking for something they recognised... 

Now apart from bird related noises, this ride also featured other airborne audio assaults mostly in the form of a flipping air force jet with the steering lock stuck on or something, doing left wise circles over my head all morning. But at the top of this Byway it is the demented Wasp sound of radio controlled model planes that assaults the ears, as close by is the field the local RC club use and on a sunny day like yesterday, it's like Gatwick on a summer Saturday up there for take offs and landings, and planes buzzing about all over the shop.

Getting to the top of the Byway and alongside Ladock airfield. It wasn't just big beggars buzzing me yesterday, but model planes as well.

But, turning left at the end of the Byway took me away from the model planes, into the hamlet of Trendeal and then the lane towards Trelassick. It was on this latter section, that passes through Duchy of Cornwall owned woodland, that I heard some heavy metal clanking ahead. Getting closer revealed the source of the noise, and the smell that wafted towards me – a steam roller, presumably out for a pre show season shake down and all but filling the lane. Add the smell of steam, oil and grease to the smell of the freshly cut timber in the woods and my nose was getting a very real treat indeed.

Mmmmm... Jelly Babies - fuel of champions.

A 'quick' spin up the road to check all is well after winter hibernation. Flipping fuzzy uploads are getting on my pip now...

From there it was just a case of which way to head home, and I elected to head up to Carland Cross and have a good hoon down the old A39 bridleway.

So, a good old ride around on a sunny morning and it did me the world of good again. I still enjoy riding the Voodoo, as I do the Jamis (although the Carrera has fallen by the wayside) even though Fatso is an absolute hoot, and comfy with it. But they all have their own feel and it's good fun riding them all.

As usual, the full sized map and other info can be found Here