Friday 3

Yesterday’s explore of some new (to me) bridleways done in -5 c and very icy trails was just brilliant.

I dropped Dan off at school at 0830hrs and cracked on.

Up Brake Lane past Fay’s School then turn off left into the countryside.

The weather was grey but dry and as I said, very cold and very icy. A good opportunity to see if my Specialized FSR designed in California, where I’m told there isn’t much mud, ice and snow could cut the Mustard in typical Northern European Winter conditions.

tyre and ice

The photo above was pretty much typical of conditions for the entire ride. And with the rutted bridleways I had confirmed a minor irritation with the bike. I have fitted Tioga Flatties as the mud encrusted conditions earlier in the month have made SPDs virtually unusable.

When the supension bottoms out and I’m pedalling hard the pedals are catching on the ground at their lowest point. It doesn’t happen with SPDs, but a bit of ‘mare none the less.

Anyway, with careful pedal planning and even more careful line choice it was kept to a minimum. Which sort of negates the point of full suspension!

I had planned to go to a bridleway I’d pedalled with my old army buddy Jeff back in the 90s but go the opposite way, this meant belting over towards Blakedown and careering past the the local Equine population.


I found the correct way with a bit of map reading and help from my Garmin and went for it. But the grounding pedals were starting to piss me off a bit!


My gloves parked on a gate post while I took the photo above this one, the little sign underneath is highlighting the Monarch’s Way. Click the link for a bit of History!


This is the bridleway I was looking for (I’m sure there’s a Star Wars joke in there somewhere), this went from Blakedown to the Kidderminster Road.


I was perfectly warm though, base layer, fleece etc, plus the effort of pedalling all made for epic toastyness.

bike and gate

You may have seen this on Twitter yesterday via  @j4m1eb Jamie Bishop’s #bikeandgate  

After this trail a bit of road work to the trail to Belbroughton and it’s Mill Pool.

mill pool

After around 14 odd miles home. And the remnants of the trail still attached to my bike.

mud and gears

I had one of Specialized’s original FSR’s back in the day, multi link suspension, box Y frame, Banana Yellow in colour, you may remember them.

One of these actually.


The thing is, when conditions were good it was a great bike and much like my modern FSR it suffered in UK conditions. After my much loved and effective Marin’s simple single pivot swing arm suspension, I’m convinced that that is the way for British MTB’s as per Orange’s 5.

So, I’m now looking to sell the FSR frame and transfer the bits onto an Orange 5 frame which I’ll buy, as I did with my original FSR and my Marin.




11 responses to “Friday 3

  1. Every time I come here and read about your adventures, it makes me want to buy a mountain bike.

    I had one disastrous turn on a mtb, and swore I’d never do it again, but I think this year may be the year I take the plunge and buy one.

    It certainly seems to have some nice alternatives to road cycling.

  2. Quite an adventure, enjoyed reading about it. Much like Fizzhogg, your writing tempts me to have a go at this mountain biking mullarkey,(says he, who’s terrified of coming off in these icy conditions). But it sounds great, those tyres of yours aren’t great on ice, are they?

    • The tyres are ok on rough ice Welshy, but sheet ice does concentrate the mind a tad!
      Good win last week mate, you must fancy your chances now!

      • I was thrilled to see the welsh backs having a go. Bradley Davies was an idiot and should have had a red card. The yellow card against Ireland was way over the top. So we’re still a long way from consistency vis a vis the interpretation of the rules by referees and their assistants. Having said that it was a really enjoyable game. I was disappointed for Italy yesterday, overall I believe England did enough, but Italy were their own worst enemies, and couldn’t finish their opportunities. I was really geared up for the France v. Ireland clash last evening, had a few bottles of cider to hand in our conservatory, ready and waiting, only to be disappointed at the last minute….no game. Safety of the players is obviously paramount, but cancelling 10 minutes or so before kick-off?
        Especially when the weather had been like it in France for the entire week. Still Wales is positively balmy compared with the rest of the UK at the moment, so Scotland this afternoon, is something to look forward to, and I’ve still got that cider. Cheers and cheers.

      • Wait, are you chaps talking football or rugby?

      • Rugby Union Football Fizz.

  3. California is a big place. Google Sierra Nevadas and you’ll see some terrain that could be described as snowy , icy, and muddy. It looks like you had a great day, although I believe you missed an opportunity to reenact the escape of Charles II. That would have been enjoyable to see in pictures!

  4. Was a good day Steve, I sort of guessed that a State as big as California would have some “Brit” biking conditions, but if my MTB history is correct, most big US MTB companies are from the warm dry bit!

  5. I had one of the early ‘ground control’ just like you pictured. It was my first ‘proper’ MTB and my first full suspension bike. I loved it!

    Later on I purchased a second-hand stump jumper like yours. I’m afraid I never really got on with this bike. The rear suspension was bob free and very plush however I was always hitting the pedals or the chainrings on rocks and the bike clogged with mud too easily. The bike went after just 6month when I realised just how much it was going to cost to service the ‘brain’ rear suspension shock(s) this bike had.

    I also had a Marin Wolf ridge for a bit. It was impossible to set the suspension on this bike so that all the 6″ of travel remained plush and useable downhill without the bike turning into a pogo-stick uphill. Therefore, as i’m a wimp, the bike spent most of it’s life with the suspension set in the short travel mode and was never really used as it was intended. It was also a very heavy beast of a bike. However, it did have a massive amount of ground and mud clearance which made it great for the uk winter.

    Before going out and buying an orange 5 (which is absolutely fantastic btw) have a try at a 29er. The larger wheels really do grip better in mud and roll noticable easier over small rocks.

  6. Just to clarify. If you turn up to any long distance mountain bike race where the course is mostly muddy XC bridleways then you’ll probably see most of the top riders using 29ers. 29ers are unbelivably quick on stoney bridleways and have no trouble with the muddy sections or small rocks.

    However, if you turn up to a short XC race where there is rock gardens, jumps and drops then you’ll probably find the leaders on the likes of the Orange.

    When the going gets tough the full suspension of the Orange really comes into it’s own. But on more lesuirely terrain then the easier rolling 29er is a much quicker bike.

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