As my hardtail mountain bike evolved from the Vitus Nucleus to the Orange Clockwork Evo it became a much better mountain bike, but also too valuable to use for running errands around the city. So a new bike was needed! I started off looking at retro mountain bikes, from the nineties, but wanted something low maintenance – ideally without suspension or gears. In any case, for running errands around town I did not really need a mountain bike, although I was not too keen on a roadie-style bike with dropped handlebars. I eventually narrowed my search down to a Mongoose Maurice – a single-speed, flat-bar urban bike, and set up eBay alerts and started daily checks on Facebook Marketplace.
Before long, a nice bike popped up in York at £120 – usually, I would consider that too far to travel for a bike, but we had a trip planned to York, so I decided to make a mental note to check if it was still available at the time of our trip. I stupidly forgot. Only realising a few days after our return when I came across the advert. A few weeks later another one popped up on eBay – a twenty-minute drive away, with the auction starting at £60. I put in an early bid and waited. I was the only bidder!
I picked up the bike from a fellow VW Transporter owner on my lunch break, it looked to be in decent condition, albeit with a few paint scuffs, a bargain at £60. Even though the frame is a size medium, it is slightly too tall for me, the reach is fine but I guess that is part and parcel of having short legs. I took the bike for a quick shakedown ride, and other than the grips being a bit worn, and the front wheel being mounted back to front, all it needed was a good wash. I had some spare DMR Deathgrips in my spares box, and a black Charge Spoon saddle, so I washed the bike, then fitted those. Fitting the wheel the right way around was not quite so easy, as the brakes rubbed the wheel when it was fitted the correct way around. My options were to flip the tyre around, or to dish the wheel over. I chose the latter, more confident in my abilities with the spoke key than refitting such narrow tyres. The one good thing about bikes with rim brakes is that I did not even need to remove the wheel to adjust it.
Coming from mountain bikes, it is a very different ride! It is so twitchy, which I think is down to the thin tyres, long stem and narrow handlebars, of course without suspension it is a bumpy ride. Also, the brakes are rubbish. Despite that, it is still fun to ride and is perfect for running errands around the city. Coventry is fairly flat, so only having one gear is not a problem for me, it is slower than riding a bike with gears, but I like the simplicity.
I do not have any specific plans for “Maurice”, other than just riding around Coventry. Hopefully, it can stay out of the workshop for a bit, as I am rebuilding a commuter bike for Jen – that is a much bigger project, requiring a full strip down to the frame, thorough cleaning and reassembling, so expect another bike check post soon…
After what feels like the world’s slowest rebuild, I am finally back on an Orange Four mountain bike. Except that it is not my old one, well mostly not…
My last ride on the Four was on the 31st of December 2021 – a session at the pumptrack, it was feeling tired and in need of a full rebuild. The next day I swapped the wheels and brake pads onto my other bike and left the Four hanging in the garage for a few months. In what was to become the norm for this project, work was in fits and starts, the first bit of progress being after I struggled riding my hardtail at Woburn. At the time I thought that my difficulties were due to all of the roots across the trail and riding a hardtail, but I did also test positive for Covid the following week. At least it gave me some motivation, and the enforced time at home gave me the opportunity to strip the bike down. After the tedious job of removing the stickers, I could send the frame to the Orange factory for a repaint, and the suspension to Fox UK for a full service. The suspension came back quickly, but I had not heard anything from Orange. Until a large box unexpectedly arrived at the door, but it did not have my frame in, it was an updated warranty replacement, still painted the new colour I had asked for! I still do not know what was wrong with my old frame, but the new one looked great in the lighter “Norlando” grey colour.
The worst part of the build was fitting the headset cups, as the tool I have does not seem to play well with Hope headsets, which is all I use on my mountain bikes. Hitting setbacks like these seemed to put me off spending time in the garage and are probably the reason that the build took so long. As the wheels from what I am now calling my old Four, had been fitted to my hardtail I needed to build up some new wheels. I had one decent Hope rear hub from the hardtail, after an expensive trip to my local bike shop, Albany Cycles, I hard the remaining components to make my perfect wheelset for trail riding – Hope hubs, DT Swiss XM481 (30mm internal) rims and back DT Swiss spokes/nipples. The bike shop recommended using the Squorx nipples, which needed a special tool, but it made the build a lot easier. Unfortunately, the rear wheel of the hardtail (which was the wheel originally fitted to my old Four) died last autumn, and could not be repaired, so it seemed logical to pinch the new rear wheel that I had built up for the Four, and fit that to the hardtail to keep me riding. Meaning another expensive trip to Albany Cycles for the parts to build another wheel.
This took us into 2023, and realising I had been without my bike for a whole year motivated me to spend more time in the garage, and the bike slowly started to come together, until there were two main jobs left, both of which I had been dreading: servicing the dropper post and fitting the rear brake, which now had to be routed through the frame. As I stripped down the dropper post, I began to remember just how bad it had been the last few times I rode the bike, it needed a full service, including an oil cartridge – the parts for this came to over £100. The dropper post I had fitted on my hardtail had not even cost that. However, remembering that the dropper post on the hardtail was not great, I did the sensible thing and bought a One Up dropper post, more expensive but with better performance than either of my existing dropper posts. As the One Up post did not come with a remote lever, I also ordered a Wolf Tooth remote – I have one on the hardtail and it works well, spares are readily available and it can be mounted to brake levers directly, rather than adding another clamp on the handlebars. I did manage to resist the version with the purple anodised lever – it worked out as twice the price of the standard black version I bought. On the subject of purple bling, purple tubeless valves and a black/purple version of my go-to saddle (SDG Bel Air 3) also found their way onto the parts pile, along with the purple parts removed from the old Four. I also have some fresh DMR Deathgrips to fit, also in purple.
The dropper post and remote proved easy to fit, which gave me some hope for the rear brake. I decided to buy a new hose, as although the new frame was the same size as the old one, the hose routing was slightly longer, and this was one job I did not want to do twice! Routing the hose was not too tricky, but getting the rubber grommets to fit was an absolute nightmare, which I am dreading having to do again. I made a last-minute decision to fit the same brake pads as on the hardtail, which were originally on the Four, Shimano finned sintered pads, as I was fitting new brake discs – when it came to bedding in the brakes I was glad of this decision, as have bedded in nicely. Every mountain biker seems to swear by a particular brake pad, I have tried a few over the years, but keep coming back to Shimano pads for Shimano brakes.
The final step was fitting the tyres and setting them up tubeless. I made the decision early on in the build process that I would use the Maxxis Minion DHR/DHF tyre combination. For years it was almost the defacto choice for mountain bikers without a tyre sponsor (and occasionally even riders sponsored by their competitions rode DHF/DHR tyres with the Maxxis logos Sharpie’d out), Continental and Michelin seem to have caught up with Maxxis, but their tyres are only available in a 2.4″ width, which I fear may be a bit too wide for the rear end on the Four, so I have stuck with 2.3″ Maxxis tyres. The front, DHF, tyre is the only part of the build that I am unhappy with – it has a wobble. I noticed on the first ride, just up and down the road to bed in the brakes, and worried that I had messed up the wheel build somehow. Putting the wheel back on the wheel-building stand vindicated my skills, the rim was perfectly true, it was just the tyre that was deformed. Online research has indicated that this is a fairly common issue with some models of Maxxis tyres.
Parts in italics are carried over from my old Four:
Frame: 2019 Orange Four, size medium.
Fork: Fox 34 130mm travel
Shock: Fox DPS
Wheels: Custom build, DT Swiss XM481 laced onto Hope Pro4 hubs. DT Swiss spokes, nipples and washers and Muc-Off valves.
Cockpit: Renthal Fatbar Lite. DMR Deathgrips. BrandX 50mm stem (temporarily to confirm size). Wolftooth ReMote dropper post remote. One Up v2.1 150mm dropper post. Ride Works seat clamp (made in Coventry!). SDG Bel Air 3 saddle.
The First Ride
After all of that work, what was it like to ride? Bloody awesome!!! The suspension is not quite fully set up to my liking, but on my first proper ride, at the Forest of Dean, it felt super fast, to the point I was carrying too much speed into some corners, after being used to a bumpy ride on the hardtail for the last sixteen months. Fortunately, the new brakes and grippy tyres allowed me to reign in the speed and make the corner safely. I hit a variety of trails – starting on the blue-graded Verderers Trail, then switching to the new red-graded Adit Trail, which is more natural (read as muddy) with a fun final descent. Then after a short stop for lunch, some suspension tweaks and swapping to my full-face helmet, I hit the downhill trails. After the long ride/push up the hill I hit the Countdown and Launchpad trails – both fast, flowy and seriously fun trails. I was really tempted to hit them again, but on the push back to the top, I decided that as fun as they would be, I would get more benefit from riding the last sections of the Verderers Trail, which are not quite as fast, but still flowy and fun. I felt like a bit of a wally riding down the blue-graded trail with a full-face helmet and goggles, but re-riding some of the sections from the morning let me confirm my updated suspension settings. And it was good to ride the longer, slightly rougher, Verderers Final descent to get experience with the bike on a different trail. As you can see from the muddy image below, the Four has been suitably christened!
The ride was split into three Strava sections, as my Apple Watch was running low on battery, so I had to switch to recording on my phone, then a third for the downhill session after lunch.
When we got to Cannock Chase, the weather was cold but sunny, and thankfully, not raining. I still opted to wear a waterproof jacket though. It has been a while since Owen last rode his bike, I think it was our trip to Llandegla, and his kit is starting to look small on him (again). We rode the first five sections of the blue-graded Perry’s Trail, which Owen has ridden loads and enjoys, before diverting away from the blue-graded trail and riding up the fire road to pick up the red-graded Follow the Dog trail, which Owen had not yet ridden. In fact, he was yet to ride any red-graded trails.
Owen was cautious through the first section, the newly resurfaced “Bombhole”, walking down the first rockgarden, but I would rather he be cautious, rather than sending it off everything. However, after that he started to find his groove and began to enjoy the trail. After a short stop at the Marquis Drive playground where it seemed that small boys have a separate energy store for running around a playground after declaring they are too tired to pedal, we crossed the road to Takeroo and the boys enjoyed messing around in the bomb hole section, seeing to could make the biggest splash through puddles. I had been expecting the “Son of Chainslapper” section to be closed, as it is next on the list for the Forestry England contractors to work on – but it was still open, and Owen flew down it! The Takeroo side of the road seemed much wetter than the main side, with some particularly big puddles – especially for Owen on his 20″ wheeled Orbea. “Snow White”, “The Seven Dwarves” and “Let Loose” are some of the most technical trails that Owen has ever ridden, especially in the wet, but he made some good line choices and gathered things up on the few occasions when he unexpectedly pinged off a rock etc. As we rode through the last few sections of the trail: “Are we nearly there yet?” and “Snakes and Adders”, which are smoother and more in his comfort zone he seemed to be particularly enjoying himself and keeping a good pace.
At the end of “Snakes and Adders”, I asked if wanted to repeat the last section, and was surprised when he declined – but only because he wanted to do a full lap of Perry’s Trail, then hit the skills area instead. I have no idea where he gets the energy from! I was not going to deny him the opportunity to ride another lap, especially as it had turned into a lovely sunny evening, so we set off for another lap of Perry’s Trail. Owen was definitely in his element back on familiar trails. I am sure it was our fastest lap together – although my Apple Watch had run out of battery so I do not have an accurate time for the full loop (and why I have embedded two Strava files below). Owen managed to stay awake for the drive back to Coventry, but I could tell he was tired – he was not chattering away like he usually does, but it was a good tired as it had been a great day together!
Owen and I were meant to go for a long ride at Sherwood Pines today, as Owen’s goal for 2023 was to better his previous longest ride (16km). We had decided that Sherwood Pines would be the sweet spot of fun, but without too many hills. However, plans changed, and I needed to collect a Facebook Marketplace purchase from near Stafford, which is in the opposite direction for us, we could have gone to Cannock Chase, but fancied somewhere new for Owen, so we decided to continue northwest to Llandegla. After a long drive we arrived at Llandegla around lunch time, so had a quick ride around the skills area, green trail and pump track before getting lunch at their excellent cafe – bacon sandwich for Owen and a burger for me.
The real fun started after lunch – we headed back up the climb past the skills area, and where we had turned off for the green trail. As Llandegla starts with a long climb, we took it easy with plenty of stops, to admire the view and take photos, such as the one above that Owen took on my iPhone. A highlight was when we were able to watch a forester machine chopping down trees and cutting the logs to size – the impressiveness of the machine was only surpassed by the obvious skill of the operator, stacking the logs by size as they went. Each giant tree took no more than a couple of minutes to cut, process and stack. What really struck me on the climb was how different everything looked from my last visit in 2019, it is a working forest, so some areas of trees had been felled, and in others, the trees had grown loads, it gave the ride a completely different feel.
At the top of the climb (519 metres above sea level, having started at around 350 metres above sea level) we treated ourselves to Creme Eggs – we had earned them! However they were quite hard to eat, as although it was sunny, it was a cold day and they had gone hard in my bag. Then we dropped in to the “Rollercoaster” traverse, which is shared with the main red-graded trail, before turning off down “True Blue”, what was already one of my favourite bits of trail anywhere was further improved by being lined with “Christmas trees”, Owen said it felt like we were in a video! It is safe to say that he also enjoyed this section of trail!
I felt a bit guilty after the next few sections of trail, as I had forgotten that there were more climbs, after the long initial climb – I always get caught out by this when visiting Llandegla, but Owen coped really well. As we made our way back to the van it felt like we were climbing more than descending, but as we were drinking our hot chocolates at the cafe after our ride, Owen told me that it was one of his favourite days on the bike ever! I was so proud of how he had ridden, not only on the climbs, but also on the fairly rocky downhill sections, which could not have been east on 20” wheels. As a bonus, it was also his first 18km ride, even though we had not set out for him to do his longest ride, and despite the climbing, he smashed his 2023 cycling goal!
417 Bike Park in Gloucestershire is one of the best places to ride with kids – Owen especially loves their indoor pump track (aka “The Barn of Dreams”), even after smashing his chin there a few years ago. However, Henry had never ridden there, even on his balance bike, so as we had a free afternoon in the Cotswolds, I decided to remedy that.
Henry was nervous at first – it was his first pump track experience on his pedal bike, but after an initial tantrum, and a few laps with me running behind him he started to get the hang of it, eventually completing full laps without putting his feet down. He particularly loved chasing me or Owen around the track. He wanted me on my bike, not taking photos, so I only had a brief opportunity to grab a few shots. Henry was also keen to ride some of the outdoor trails, but we will have to return another day for that…
Owen joined us too – he loves the barn! He just got on with riding laps, and other than one small tumble after carrying too much speed into a berm he had a great time! I also took the opportunity to look at some of the 24″ kids bikes being ridden, but I think that Owen still has a bit more growing to do before his trusty Orbea MX20 needs to be upgraded.
Henry has been riding his pedal bike for a few months now, but in the last week, his confidence has really grown, especially after he had “wheelie day” at nursery on Thursday. He was a bit reluctant to take his pedal bike, and I am glad he did because, after a full day of riding it at nursery, he kept asking to ride it. Building on this enthusiasm, I decided it was time for another family bike ride to Hicks Lodge.
Hicks Lodge, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire is perfect for new mountain bikers, the trail is relatively short, and mostly flat, but has lots of features like berms and rollers to keep the enjoyment factor high. For the littlest riders, it is possible to ride the last two sections of the trail without committing to the entire loop. This was where Owen got his first taste of mountain biking.
The plan was that Owen would ride a lap with Jen, whilst Henry and I did laps of the last section of trail, then we would swap and I would ride a lap with Owen. However, even just riding out of the car park it was clear to me that Henry had made some serious progress. So we joined Jen and Owen for the ride to the trailhead – with Henry confidently leading the way! After leaving the others to ride the full blue-graded loop, Henry and I joined the last two sections of the trail – Henry loved it and coped so well with the rollers and berms. At the end of the trail Henry did not stop riding, he wanted to do it again! We had a stop for a biscuit and a selfie, but only briefly, as Henry wanted to get back on the trail.
On the second lap, Henry was even more confident, although I could tell he was getting tired. He took some convincing to stop and let me take a photo, but I am really pleased with the photo at the top of the post. After the photo Henry carried on, whilst I packed the camera away, I could still see him through the trees, but thought it was good that he was confident enough to ride off. I had to sprint to catch up, but found him waiting for me, because he needed a wee. As Henry was relieving himself by the side of the trail, Owen and Jen whizzed past and I managed to grab my iPhone in time to get photos of them. Henry was most put out that they had not stopped for him, and pedalled his little legs off to catch them up!
The plan had been for me to do a full lap of the blue trail with Owen, but he did not fancy it, so Jen rode back to the van/playground with the boys, whilst I did a solo lap. It has been a while since I rode at Hicks Lodge on my own, so I enjoyed blasting around the trails, setting a lot of Strava PRs in the process, including for the full lap!
Even though we barely rode together, it was a good family trip out, and I think that Henry’s riding has come on enough that maybe next time we will all be able to ride the full lap together!
One of my goals for 2023 is to get out for more bike rides with Partho – we are aiming for at least one a month. Yesterday we got out for another ride at Cannock Chase, and it could not have been any different to the wet and muddy ride we did there last month. The sun was out and the trails were unseasonably dry – we had a great time!
Rather than pushing ourselves to do the full Monkey Trail red-graded loop, we cherry-picked some of our favourite sections and hit them a few times – including Lower Cliff. On our second run down we both got caught by a faster rider, so when I pulled over to let him pass I grabbed my phone from my pocket and captured this photo of Partho on the way down – his smile sums up what a fun ride we had!
Yesterday was the Little Rippers Christmas Ride at Cannock Chase, and also my birthday. I love riding with the Little Rippers crew, so that was my birthday plans sorted! And after a tasty breakfast, we loaded up the van and set off for Cannock Chase.
The rain just about held off for the ride, but it was cold, so I was surprised to see such a good turnout. Henry seemed excited to ride with the group, but realistically the planned route would be too difficult for him, so he went for a more leisurely ride with Jen. Owen and I went on the group ride, although at the start the kids set off together and I barely saw Owen for the whole ride, just catching the occasional glimpse of him in the distance. We rode Perry’s Trail, which Owen knows well, so I was happy for him to head off with his friends, and I enjoyed a leisurely ride at the back of the group with the other parents.
After the ride, we all gathered near the car park, ramps were set up for the kids (and some bigger kids) to jump, which gave me a chance to catch up with friends I had not seen for a while, and got a ribbing for being old.
Jen and Henry joined us, and Hen even had a go at hitting the ramps. As Henry seemed happier riding with me and Owen, so we rode up to the “Pedal and Play” trail. Henry enjoyed followed Owen around, and looked so pleased with himself when he managed to sneak ahead of him. He coped really well, considering it was his first time at Cannock Chase on his pedal bike. He hit his first rockgardens, although he was disapointed that the bell at the end of the trail has been removed. Unfortunately the fun came to an end when Henry’s front wheel slipped on a wet wooden skinny and he went down fairly hard. He was OK though, other than the shock and a small nosebleed, so we rejoined the group. The boys were given goodie bags, which was a great surprise. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the fire at home.
Hopefully, next year Henry will be able to ride “Perry’s Trail” and Owen will be able to ride the red-graded “Follow the Dog” trail, although after having a season pass for Cannock Chase in 2022, we will make more of an effort to visit other trail centres in 2023.
Yesterday, was a teacher training day at the boys’ school, and I woke up looking forward to a day at work, as I had an interesting little project to complete – however, upon checking my calendar, I realised that I also had the day booked off! After double-checking that I really was not meant to be working, the disappointment was quickly replaced by thoughts of “where should I ride?”. Jen and the boys had plans in the afternoon, so it was tempting to ride by myself, but I had not ridden with Owen since falling off at Northampton Bike Park, and I had taken Henry to the trails in Bedworth the day before, so I thought it best to ride with Owen.
Given the choice of a few local places to ride, Owen just wanted to ride the skatepark at the War Memorial Park, where we go most weekends. So I switched things up – we would ride there! Owen did not take much convincing to take a longer route, via a fun trail alongside the Kenilworth road. Which I had handily pre-ridden the day before. There were a few road sections, but all on quiet roads and we were past the rush hour. I know that Owen is sensible when it is just the two of us out on bikes.
The fun part of the ride starts at pretty much the furthest point from home, especially when you add a detour to see the ducks at Warwick Uni. It is also the highest point, so we stopped for a snack before hitting the trail. The run down the first few sections was fun, albeit slower than I am used to. Owen coped admirably with the natural trail conditions – he is more used to purpose-built trails, and the leaves hiding roots and other obstacles added to the difficulty. Luckily (or more likely due to global warming?) the trail was not too muddy yet, so he did not have that to cope with. About halfway down, just before we crossed Cannon Hill Road, we stopped for a photo break, as I really liked how the leaves on the ground matched Owen’s jersey (that he chose when we were in Wales the previous month). One benefit of not being on a dedicated mountain bike trail was that I could get Owen to ride the “wrong way” down the trail to get better light on the photo.
At the War Memorial Park, Owen conquered the wet grassy bank that had caught him out on a previous visit, learning that knobbly mountain bike tyres are much grippier on wet grass than smooth BMX tyres. The mountain bike was also easier to roll down the ramps at the skatepark. I was disappointed to find that the new ice cream shack, opposite the skatepark was closed – I am yet to see it open. Owen wanted to ride straight back from the park, so we went along the road, through Earlsdon, then our regular route along Hearsall Common, through the woods and down the “Co-op Hill”. The ride was almost 16km – one of Owen’s longest. After the ride Owen had a busy day – a play date and a Halloween party. I had an afternoon of life admin, somewhat spoilt by my van not starting, which also happened on a day off earlier in the year.
My old hometown of Northampton is more famous for motorsport than mountain biking, so I was surprised when I heard rumours that a disused golf course was going to be turned into a bike park. Naturally, once it had opened I had to check it out!
I decided to skip the opening weekend as I thought it would be too busy, so I rode at Cannock Chase instead. I had a great ride, checking out some new and resurfaced sections of trail, but I also noticed some crunching noises from my bike. Given that I have only been riding my Clockwork Evo this year, and focusing my workshop time on rebuilding my Four, some wear and tear was inevitable. The reason I am covering this will become apparent soon…
I knew the chain was worn but was sure that the noises were not down to the chain. Stripping the bike down revealed the problem – the pawls on the freehub were decidedly worn. This was not a huge surprise as these were the original wheels that had come fitted to my Orange Four in 2017, and have probably covered the best part of 5,000km. Unfortunately, even the guys at Albany Cycles could not source spares, nor was it worth replacing the hub on what are fairly cheap rims, so it was time for a new wheel. In a reversal of fortunes, I had recently built up a suitable wheel (DT Swiss XM 481 on a Hope hub) to go on my Four rebuild, so I built the Clockwork Evo back up with that, as well as a new chain and gear cable. At lunchtime, on the day I had promised Owen that we would ride at Northampton Bike Park…
I got the bike sort of working, with minimal brake rub and gears very roughly indexed, loaded up the van and set off for Northampton with Owen. Pulling up to a golf course, I was concerned that the sat nav had got the location wrong, but eventually, we saw a load of VW Transporters and people wearing Fox Racing kit at the far end of the car park – we were in the right place. Looking around it was very easy to tell who was there to ride bikes and who was there to play golf – it was a bit surreal. We quickly got kitted up and rode through the tunnel at the back right of the car park to the trails.
We started on the easier “Eastside” trails, which we pretty much had to ourselves. It was only a short climb up to the trailhead, and we dropped straight into “Uncle Fester”, a flowy blue trail that spat us back out at the base of the climb, ready for another lap. After stopping for a selfie, Owen set off down “PDQ”. I let him get past the first few berms, then followed, only just catching him by the bottom of the short trail. Next, we rode over to the dual slalom track, which upped the difficulty with bigger berms and jumps to negotiate. It was fun being able to race each other down the parallel trails – on the first few runs I gave Owen too much of a head start, so on our third run down we started together and it felt like I finished further ahead of him than I had been giving him for a headstart. Maybe it is easier to be the leader, rather than the chaser…
After the dual slalom, we went to the “Westside” trails – the main attraction. These trails were busier, with a constant stream of riders on the push-up trail, although Owen held his own mixing with all the big riders, looking the part with all his kit on. After waiting for our turn, we pushed up the top of the roll-in and set off down the “Blue Nun” trail. It started off pretty flat, then a short climb, before left and right berms dropped us into the main field – at this point, a huge smile spread across my face, as all I could see were mountain bike trails, with people having fun on them. “Blue Nun” was another step up in technicality from the dual slalom trail, but Owen coped well and really enjoyed it, to the point he just wanted to go straight back up for another run. However, before we went up we did a lap of the skills area, as we passed it on the way up.
We rode back up to the top of the trail and decided to ride the “Mother Superior” jump line, which forks off from “Blue Nun”. Owen was ready before me and raring to go – he dropped in whilst I was still faffing. And that was where it all went wrong. I dropped in down the roll-in and got on the pedals hard to catch him up. My chain slipped, which threw me off balance on a big pedal stroke and I hit the ground. Hard. Fortunately, nothing seemed to be broken, but Owen was riding off into the distance – so I had to shout for him to stop before I could check myself and my bike over. Of course, all of this happened in front of a big crowd waiting to drop in. I asked the next riders down to let Owen know that I would be down in a few minutes and checked my bike over. The chain was stuck between the cassette and the frame – limit screws not set correctly? Or hub spacer missing? The rear brake lever had also shifted around, but I was able to ride to Owen, and down the rest of the trail.
I let Owen do some more laps of the skills area whilst I sorted my brake lever and gave the rest of the bike a more thorough check. Owen loved doing laps on his own, chatting to people in the queue, probably telling them about his dad crashing… We did a few more laps, although I took it easy, as I did not want to risk putting too much power through the pedals. Owen had a close call on one of the “Mother Superior” jumps, the lip was steeper than anything he had ridden before, and Owen came down on his front wheel – I thought that he was going to go over the bars, but he managed to ride it out.
Owen had said that he wanted to try the “A45” red-graded trail, but after our incidents on the blue trails, he sensibly decided that we would save it for our next visit. And there will be a next visit, as despite my fall, we both had a great time and really enjoyed the trails.