Autumn is most definitely here, and that means its time to get out in the woods and feel the leafy goodness beneath our wheels. Here are ten things to remember to take with you:
Your mountainboard – And yes, I’ve known people turn up to a freeride meet having forgotten their board.
Helmet and pads – Always a good idea with trees, rocks, roots, team bad, etc.
Spare wheel – Getting a puncture is no fun if you’re deep in the woods and the car park is a mile away.
Tools – A spanner to change the punctured wheel and Allen keys to adjust your trucks.
Water – Dehydrated brains don’t work as well as hydrated ones, and if you’re feeling thirsty its already too late.
Snacks – Something light and easy, just in case you get peckish or need a bit of an energy boost.
Camera – Whether you go for a headcam, a pocket snaps camera, or something more serious, its nice record what you get up to and share it with those less fortunate.
Mobile Phone – GPS New runs, tweet that sweet slide, call other mountainboarders for a jumpstart if you’ve left your lights on; these new-fangled smart phones are very handy to have. Just don’t smash it.
Headtorch – So the setting sun doesn’t have to ruin your fun.
A philosophical approach to life. Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you don’t. Freeriding is all about going with the flow, and not just when you’re riding.
Scottish freeridey goodness on the 17-18th September? In typical Jock fashion this promises to be badly thought out, unplanned and with probably rubbish weather. 2 mile forest runs, singletrack steepness and puddles are guaranteed though.
Can’t say no to that. Better get the week off work and plan some riding. Think I’ll head north on Tuesday, spend Wednesday and Thursday in the Lake District to check out a track for a Downhill Comp next year and get myself one of those ridgelines I’ve been eye-ing up for a while. I’ll head up to Scotland on Friday, maybe check out Drumlanrig on the way, meet up with Marvin, ride the BX track in Perth Friday night. Then over to Dunkeld to camp for a Saturday and Sunday of riding the 2005 ATBA-UK DH track and scouting potential courses for a Scottish DH comp next year.
How many ways are there to go round a corner on a mountainboard? The answer is lots
But to start with let’s think of a corner as having nine points on it. Three of them are on the outside edge, one at start of the corner, one at the apex, and one at the end. Let’s call them A, B and C. And then we have the same along the inside edge of the corner. Let’s call them D, E, and F. Now, let’s add another three points that follow the middle of the corner and call them G, H and I, and draw all the connecting lines.
Those nine points can be joined up like this:
Which gives us:
A, B, C
A, B, I
A, B, F
A, H, C
A, H, I
A, H, F
A, E, F
A, E, I
A, E, C
D, B, C
D, B, F
D, B, I
D, H, C
D, H, I
D, H, F
D, E, F
D, E, I
D, E, C
G, B, F
G, B, I
G, B, C
G, H, F
G, H, I
G, H, C
G, E, F
G, E, I
G, E, C
Those nine points give us 27 different ways to go round a corner.
So, what the point of all this? Surely we just ride into a corner, go round it, come out of it and carrying on riding, right? Is it really worth thinking about your line? What are the benefits?
There are two benefits to choosing your line round a corner; speed and control.
Taking a corner at the maximum speed is all about getting it as smooth as possible. In motor sports, the ‘racing line’ would be A, E, C as it’s the shortest line though the corner (rather than going round it), and on some corners that would work just fine. But on a boarderX track this might not be the case. As berms are built to hold the rider on the track following the central line of G, H, I might be the faster line. But, out freeriding on a loose surface might mean that taking the widest line of A, B, C might be fastest as we don’t slide.
Control is all about being able to put your board exactly where you want it, to be able to come out of a corner on the best line for the next feature or obstacle. Remember, line out is more important than line in, so if we want to exit the corner at point I we have nine lines to follow. If we knew we were going too fast to get round the corner we might go D, B, I and lose some speed by going out wide. Or maybe we came into the corner on the G, H, I line but a rider had fallen in front of us so we had to go G, B, I. And, of course, this is all based on the perfect corner, but in the real world the track might narrow at the exit of the corner so that F, I, and C are all in the same place. Then we really need to consider our line in to make the exit clean.
So, regardless of whether we have a berm to help us get round the corner or not, choosing the right line can be really useful for maintaining speed, loosing speed, avoiding obstacles (and other riders), or even just making it round the corner. As every corner is different, it’s up to you to decide what you think is the best line to take (and if you’re a boarderX racer, practice every line).
It’s lucky there are so many corners in the world.
Walked into a dark and misty Conigree Woods and felt my way up the nearest track-looking thing. Dropped into the gulley to warm up with my headtorch to light my way. Have to say thanks to the bikers for their strategically placed safety can (you know when you’ve been impaled), and for clearing loads of new tracks which I shall have to check out one day soon.
Then I wandered over to Threading The Needle, which unfortunately has a tree down about three quarters up, but with the moon shining through the trees I strapped in and rode it without lights. It’s easier than you might think, riding in near total darkness, you’ve just got to shut your silly brain off and let your body do it’s thing.
Final run was a nice chilled down after The Needle and even with a light I managed to fall over, but you can’t win ’em all.
And I almost got lucky. I think something in the woods thought my clicking ratchets was a mating call and kept answering with it’s own clicking.
I’ve been exploring the mountain bike tracks at Glentress and found loads of cool tracks that are rideable on a board, including built tracks, northshore drops, footpaths, and tarmac roads. And I’m sure there are loads more out there. Think I need another roadtrip to Scotland next summer.
Mountainboarding down Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England at 950m, was ok. Not great, but ok. Not great fun, but ok fun. I hiked up to the top, just me, my board and a hundred or so hikers. I padded up and strapped in to the usual puzzled looks and chortles about being crazy, and then I set off. The top half was a bit boring, just a mellow stony track. And the bottom half was hard work with big rocks everywhere. Most of it was rideable but there is quite a bit of walking to be done too. It was worth doing but Skiddaw is still the best mountain descent in England.
Went looking for a bit of poaching that was hinted at a while ago and found something so much better. I don’t know what it’s called so I named it Animal Kingdom as it seems to have a wooden animal at the top of each run. The runs are pretty chilled footpaths with all kinds of stony corners, rock drops, logs to jump, roots to ride over, and trees to hug.