While we drown under yet another deluge of rain Dan's been playing with the GoPro mount options in Chamonix, enjoy as the rain hammers on the windows. For anyone else riding in Chamonix, I recommend using a tyre with actual tread left on it, don't follow Dan's example or you may die.
General mooching about on trails.
Most days I ride in to work. Sometimes offroad through the woods, and sometimes on road if I need to be in more quickly (or just can't face washing the bike AGAIN). Like most people who ride to work I get aggravated by the dreadful driving by some motorists, of course it's only a minority and most of them don't do it deliberately but I count myself lucky if I manage to get to work without being carved up / pulled-out on / passed too close.
There is one group of drivers though that really seem to go out of their way to put my life at risk, no it's not 4x4 drivers, white van men, or people driving Honda Priuses, it's SUPERTRAM LINK BUS DRIVERS. For those who don't live in Sheffield, there's a tram system, and then there are some buses which link the trams in with surrounding towns and villages, and it's these drivers who seem to have been picked specifically for their inability to drive and deliberate aggression towards passengers and other road users. (Maybe that's not fair. There is at least one driver who is careful, professional and polite). To make matters worse they've recently swapped out the small buses you could just about avoid given cat-like reflexes and eyes in the back of your head, for normal-sized big ones that take up the whole road (and more).
So today as usual I was riding through Wharncliffe Side with one of these devil-buses coming up behind me, and as is increasingly common the bus overtook me a few metres before a bus-stop and pulled straight in forcing me to brake and go round it. I passed it again and banged on the driver's window. A minute later the bus overtook at speed (being a slight downhill I was doing almost 30mph and it overtook pretty fast) and swerved aggressively at me cutting in right against the curb, and yes, I wobbled a lot, although it didn't hit me, not quite anyway.
Normally when this happens I just get angry and formulate scenarios in my head where I storm the bus at the next stop, make a scene, obviously deliver a cutting one-liner which makes the driver reconsider their behaviour, before being cheered by the passengers, but of course I never do. This time though I had enough, I had a very dangerous incident with another driver last week which I hadn't bothered doing anything about and for once, today I wasn't late getting to work. So I rode straight past work and on to the tram link terminal to have a word.
As I got there I knew I had the right bus driver, I came round the corner of their hut and they were having a joke at the cyclist who'd just banged on the window. I'm sorry to say I lost it a bit and had a minor shouting match with the three of them, especially since they wouldn't give me the driver's name. The driver obviously knew he'd driven at me and come too close because he told me that was what I should expect if I went round puddles. One of them slammed the door at me and then another came out and told me to go away lots of times before pretending to phone "South Yorkshire Transport Police". Frustrated I rode off a few metres before going back and shouting something incredibly witty like "learn to drive" (that's the cutting one-liner, folks) at them, and then it was time to get into work.
At work I phoned Stagecoach who run these things. "Oh, you're the cyclist who assaulted our drivers are you?" I was speechless for a second. Maybe shouting at them does count as assault, I don't know, the three of them didn't look very scared at having a skinny cyclist yelling at them, and, y'know, maybe there was a reason I was angry? "Oh well there are 2 witnesses and then afterwards you came back and collared the driver on his own"!! I must have sounded genuinely amazed at that point because the guy on the other end of the phone appeared to believe me when I told him they were making stuff up. "Yes, well anyway, we have CCTV footage and he's reported you to the police." Well maybe he was bluffing, maybe not but either way, I just phoned the police myself so we'll see what happens (they just phoned back as I was typing this out, said they would go and have a word).
So the moral of the story, well I'm not sure really. Make sure you have a blog you can write about them on because you won't get any sympathy from Stagecoach. I probably shouldn't have shouted at them in their hut but they were clearly having a joke about it and I lost my temper, while the man at Stagecoach was totally uninterested in working out whether there might be a reason I went 2 miles out of my way to confront them. Certainly I'm going to start using the GoPro to film every journey, I've avoided in the past in case it turns me into this angry man who seems to like provoking car drivers, but if I'm going to need evidence before anyone takes complaints seriously so be it. Anyway they're probably out to get me now so I should be able to get some good footage. Everyone who cycles along the supertram link route has horror stories about the way they drive, I've seen it myself from onboard (won't be doing that again) and I have just had enough of them. If anyone reading this has had run-ins with them let me know and please phone the police to let them know about it. It's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured by a SL bus.
We might be buried under a couple of feet of the stuff now, but when there was only a light dusting of snow a week ago I headed into Wharncliffe with my GoPro HD camera to watch some downhill action on the Fast track, courtesy of Sheffield-based mountain bike club Urban Extremists.
Music is by local band Two Skies myspace.com/twoskiesuk and the handlebar-mounted footage was taken by Josh Lewis of the Steve Peat Syndicate (SPS) team.
Vimeo won't let me embed HD movies so you'll need to follow the link to watch it on their site if you want it in best quality
A short cautionary tale for anyone indulging in X-treme offroad activities in the woods, someone will be along eventually to scrape you up andpack you off to hospital, but it might take longer than you think.
Last Sunday I was out with the normal riding crowd in Wharncliffe and on the first downhill run, dictated by tradition to be the Nemba course, I came round a corner and had to stop suddenly for what was obviously a victim of a serious stack lying on the ground. One of his friends was holding his ankle together (broken tib and fib just above the ankle) while the other had dialled 999 and, being not entirely familiar with the area, was trying to describe where they were to the operator.
It's cold and dark outside and I've got the flu and haven't ridden my bike in 2 weeks so I thought it was time to bring back some happy autumnal riding memories. This is from our 1 week away from it all in the Sierra Nevada (Spain) with switch-backs.com, some of the best trails I've ridden in a while in warm, sunny mountains.
Even though theres only an hour in it, the clocks changing makes everything seem different from yesterday with longer shadows and brighter light.
On the left, sadly fascinated by our own shadows under Stanage.
Some shonky photos from a dangerous midnight liaison, not as dangerous as the night club where I got a nose bleed and 2 black eyes. For those not in the know (as I wasn't) a bike derby is where you ride round and knock people off until someone's left riding. Sounds OK in concept but on concrete with lots of drunk single speeders even the local yoof just watched from the sidelines while this years bike porn was discarded to make way for the latest sparkley thing next year.
Making the most of the sunshine we took a little spin around Blacka Moor, the recent cow invasion (conservation apparently) has lead it to smell more like a farmyard and given some of the new trails a bumpy surface but it was the dog poo on my front tyre and then helment that won out as the new fragrance of the day.
here's Jon roosting for the camera in the cow free section