Monday, 3 May 2010

Of Dalby Forest, a terminal mechanical, and bank holiday traffic nightmare

Bank Holiday and time for a ride, Dom and Jim are heading up from Sheffield and the plan is to head out to the North York Moors for a bit of trail centre action at Dalby Forest. Not ridden Dalby before but have heard out target for the day the red route is known to be a bit of a stamina test at 23 miles mostly on dedicated single track.


Meet Dom and Jim at the car park in the middle of a hail storm, the weather having staidly got worse the further from Leeds I drove. Thankfully it’s over quickly and bikes are assembled for the off.

The trail is good, the track is well made, flows nicely, and the climbs switchback and are never too steep. The downhill sections run well allowing me to link smooth transitions from corner into corner may of them bermed allowing me to carry my momentum through. The technical runs are just the right length to get properly involved before you drop out onto a fire road for a rest.

I love the feeling once you get rolling on single-track; working out your line into upcoming obstacles, trees, boulders, berms, roots, and drop-offs. There are enclosed sections through woods with trees flashing past and decisions about line need to be made quickly and more open sections were the trail falls away in front of you giving a buzz as you see what is to come. Adrenaline flows and I’m breathing hard by each rest.



(Photo forestry commission)


All was going well up to about the 4.5 miles mark when suddenly the whole peddle mechanism jams up catastrophically. I dismount and it immediately becomes obvious that the mechanical is terminal with the rear derailure having been twisted backwards through 90o and jammed in the spokes.


Lightning strikes twice. I suffered the same with my last bike although with that one I manage to bend the frame at the same time and deliver the bike a KO from which it did not recover and I’m a little disconcerted that it has happened again suggesting it may be something to do with my riding style.

There is no way we can fix the derailure as it stands so we remove it and chop the chain down in an attempt to make the bike a single speed. Unfortunately due to the bike geometry the only gears that are available in the Heath Robinson set up at right at the top of the range. Whilst undertaking the repair the weather decides to do four seasons in about twenty miuntes with sun, rain hail and wind. Dom who has almost no body fat in his mission to climb hard has to resort to doing shuttle runs to keep warm.

Rolling again and it quickly becomes apparent that repair has seriously effected my ability to control the bike and made it very hard to get going on any thing but flat ground. The trail climbs turns and drops, the gears give me no power at the crucial moment and I perform a neat pirouette over the handle bars with a text book landing on my chin. Winded and shaken I offer thanks for my decision about six months ago to invest in full face helmet otherwise I would have done my face some serious damage.

Giving up on even freewheeling the downhill sections I wish the boys luck and push the bike along the trail to the nearest fire-road. Bit depressing limping back towards the visitors centre with a broken bike, the day cut short and expensive repairs in the offing. Still from what I have seen of the trail it is defiantly worth coming back to.

My ride for the day was my Gary Fisher Hi-Fi full suspension bike although if I had a hard-tail I would probably have brought that as the trail does not warrant a very bouncy bike, and I’m convinced a £1000 pound hard-tail would monster a £1500 full-sus round here.

The drive back is a complete nightmare with caravan chaos on the A64. I really don’t understand, why do people insist on buying these things? But that’s a whole new blog in itself.

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