I'll just leave this here for the New Year, Here's the master shaper, power logger and cultural stylist Tyler Hatzikien. Look and Learn.
Always a pleasure to see what comes out of the house of the '50 to 1' Crew. The riding is so sick and like the most of us in the woods or up the local hill, making the most of whats on offer. Watch and enjoy, then go and ride.
When you've got bored of the crap on TV this Crimbo, here's a few of my favourite films I wanted to share to inspire if your new bike is under the tree, or board waiting outside for the wind to turn, tide to drop, rain to stop or snow to fall. I used to post a few videos of what was pretty cool on the ol' You Tube or really what I was into, othings I found inspiration from on this outddor journey.
As a 52 year old bloke with a love of wheels and waves and even as I enter my 'fuck my body aches all the time phase', or If I went to the doctor 'where do I start Doc' period of life; there's always room for progression in life, always moving forward with what I love to do and videos have always played a major part in that learning. Whether it be noseriding a longboard, or learning to manual a pushbike, watching movements, lighting a fire without a match, body position or gaining some stoke before heading out the door to follow your passion. Whatever we love to do, whatever blows our hair back then take your pick.
I'm a Youtube addict I reckon. My pre-work ritual in the morning from 5.30am is coffee, stretch and Youtube before heading out the door an hour later. 15 minutes of the most creative inspiring edits does help my mind wander to my happy place throughout the working day. When I get home from a pretty physical job in construction, it's shower, cup of tea, couple of edits and then either out the door for a pre-dinner or post-dinner ride or surf, depending on the time of year. Some people watch the soaps, some read books, some spend hours on Tik Tok, or Instagram which I have been committed to spending less time on, and more time writing this blog or researching for the Trail Head Project I'm working on, but I do love a spot of Youtube.
My point being is Youtube is a huge part of our downtime now, but also personally my 'get ready to rumble' time. A mate used to flick through the pages of a surf magazine, find a sick shot of Kelly Slater, or Occy, or whoever, but it had to be a sick shot, visualise that shot and head to the beach and shred, with that image in his mind. He became the British Junior and Open Surfing Champion; now we have thousands of edits to choose from, maybe too many, maybe a saturated amount, but thats another blog. Some do it better than others, some use basic equipment like the 'Dad Cam', and some GoPro and some are high end, high investment 'RED' Eighty Trillion frames per second quality, some tell a story, and some just draw you in to the beauty of the production, the slo-mo action, the landscapes, the skill, the passion, the people, but if it's great, it's great, if it engages and inspires, then who cares, if there's style; well... we love style.
So here's a little selection for viewing over Crimbo, some real bangers and a few choice films I've gathered up and put here on this wet Christmas Eve morning over a cup of coffee before I walk the dog. Have an amazing Christmas everyone, eat well my Chunky Brothers and Sister, ride everything and drop us a comment if you have some good recommendations. I'll add some more each week as sometimes we miss the odd banger.
I posted some of this on my social media but felt like I needed to add a little more.
I frickin' love bikes and how they make a person feel is often mind-blowing, the same way that riding a perfect wave on a beautiful summers evening can add a sense of next level surreal to the session. As the nights have drawn in my waveriding is limited to weekend warrior status and only then if the conditions prevail, but that's Ok, I've surfed my fair share of winter waves, put on my fair share of cold and damp wetsuits, been blasted by the coldest of cold easterly winds to land on our Cornish shores, had hyperthermic water flush down my neck, and had ice cream head freezers an abundance of times, so I'm content with getting in when I can and when I feel like it. I reckon surfing in Brighton for many years also taught me a little patience too, so if I don't surf for a few weeks, well thats OK I can live with that. But you can't really surf at night, but you can ride bikes.
When I think about how long I've been riding bikes, it's a damn sight longer than I've been a surfer, and I even put riding on hold for some years whilst I was selfishly addicted to becoming a surfer, travelling and main veining the oceans energy, and will always be stoked I did. What an experience and what a journey yet riding bikes fills that gap when surfing becomes inaccessible like on cold dark winter nights.
After three weeks of gales driving rain and illness that had kept me from tiding my bike outside, I'd missed riding way too much. I had one frustrating session at bike night at Mount Hawke Skatepark that left me feeling old, and having no confidence amongst the young riders who were getting rad. I mostly just sat and watched sick riders with amazing style, and that's a buzz in itself, and always is, but I wanted to work on a few things but that night left me a little deflated.
Since my last night ride I'd been feeling tense, wound up and pretty negative, the winter blues were setting in and sometimes that just makes you feel a bit crap, and it just creeps up on you. When the weather finally cleared on a recent Friday night, having a simple but very productive manual session was what my mind needed.
Friday nights have quickly become Manual NIght. After dropping my son at Football training I found my new proving ground with it's own floodlights, ample parking spaces for distant measurements and my trusty DMR Sect. I was ready to roll, literally. Manuals are a skill I have been trying to learn for waht seems like years, never really getting the dialled, and yet they're such a valuable skill that can be used out on the trail or at the bike parks, but it's also just fun and athough I'm still inconsisant, finding that balance point is still a little sporadic but I'm making some real breakthroughs.
The instant stoke, a big solo smile on my face in an empty car park on a winter Friday night, that's simplicity and that feels so good. No jumps, no ramps, no need to wait your turn and no-one watching (because thats the intimidating bit), just myself feeling like I'm moving in the right direction on my little jump bike. Riding bikes is so good and progression is rewarding in so many ways. Go ride your bike, winter is just darker, and there is still fun to be had outdoors.
I would usually dread the dark winter nights as it meant the impending end of post-work rides and surfing, and as they take a hard hit and I become a weekend warrior again...But no more. I've dabbled in night rides before but never committed to a full winter. After investing in another set of lights over the past three weeks I've been doing my own HIIT sessions on the local trails. As part of some enduro training for next year this night riding is also a general need to just get a little fitter, and lose a few pounds, and I'm giving it 100% and doing a combination of four climbs and four descents not stopping and on the clock, or hill climb intervals, 10 x 30 second hill sprints (thats a killer).
The winter nights are just as much fun and the stoke is pretty infectious, because I'm finding the benefits are noticebly more that just riding. The most important being that I don't waste winter, I don't waste time. Winter is still a valuable time and even after work their is time for some winter fun. The darks nights mean that my bright triangular beams of light become a personal domain, your own little world and what's seen in that zone can be pretty special. So far in just a four weeks I've had Barn Owls and Buzzards take off in front of me, and then they're prey, the small little voles scurrying across the trail. On the climbs you can use your wondering gaze of a helmet light to spot the eyes of the wildlife like the foxes and rabbits, or the haunting purple eyes of the ponies that reside on our hill. Catch a glimpse of these and five pairs of eyes are looking back at you, it's a little bit 'Stranger Things'.
Feeling pressure to fit a ride into a busy weekend during winter is also tough, especially when you have a family, football duties with your teenage son, dog walks, shopping etc. Spending family time to keep the balalnce could mean no long endurance rides but I've realised that embracing the post-work night ride means I'm not so fussed about desperately riding on the weekend or at least don't feel as pressured to, I can actually make way for some surfing.
Then there is the confidence boost, or belief in your riding ability. How fast can you actually ride at night? Can night riding actually improve that ongoing mistake we often make of not looking down the line? Can we become smoother riders? Personally I'm finding it's helping my riding in so many ways. Doing the climbs I'm really focussed and maybe a little more powerful, and not being a great climber I'll take any improvement. On the descents i've felt more controlled but have yet to see if I'm as fast as I've not done the same session in the daylight yet. Having no distractions outside of that light zone, just the pitch black, focussed solely on the area within that brighness, is making my riding feel smoother with a real sense of flow and movement.
On my first session of the winter, the smile and hoots came out when I'd done a run. On my own, on a dark hill, with none of the boys there, I found myself hooting out loud, the sense stoke 100% real. The only way I can describe it, or relate to this feeling was surfing a perfect wave, on a perfect session, where you finish that ride knowing that every move you made was perfectly in sync with the wave, and the wave just led you the way it wanted to, and when you kick out at the end there is a huge grin on your face and when you paddle back out for another, your mates know. Billabong the Australian Surf brand had a motto 'Only a Surfer knows the feeling'. That's how I felt that first night and every night since. Night riding is an absolute blast and if you haven't tried it, get some lights and get out there.
As for lights, I'm sure there are some super expensive all singing all dancing set ups running into the hundreds of pounds, like Exposure and Hope and one day I shall make that purchase. I thought I'd go the cheaper option for now, and bought a set of lights from Planet X for £12.99 (reduced from £25) and so far I am absolutely stoked with the 700 lumins. I'm running these on my bars alongside a Lezyne 1000 Lumin light on my helmet. Having a light on your helmet is essential as your looking at corners when your bike is looking staright, believe me if you haven't tried it please do. Combining the two lights, the amount of light in front of me is superb and with 1.5 hours on full power for each light (not fully tested on the Planet X ones yet) I have more than enough for a fun filled evening.
Myself and my wife have also begun a regular Thursday night cruise around here in the Wild West, just getting some miles in on the quiet back lanes and it's just great fun. Safety wise you can see any car coming, if any and riding two a breast is no issue and we can happily chat and seek out the wildlife with the head torches, and with bright rear lights and a bit of hi-viz we can be seen from both directions. My wife has two 1000 lumin lights on her bars, again from Planet X at £24.95 each. I've got my eye on another Lezyne light for my bars, but if the ones I have now last unitl spring, at £12.99 I'll get another set. We've also bought some for my son, so this week he has his first intro to a night session on the trails and that's another blog!
All I can say is that if you ride, get some lights and don't waist winter. On a clear chilly night, or a foggy overcast one, what's not to love.....ahhhh...a dirty bike and a dark evening when it needs cleaning. But that's a small price to pay for a big ol' smile, some winter exercise and the feeling that winter will not just pass you by sitting in front of the TV.
Enjoy the Ride.
Its been some time since writing a blog or adding pages to the Trail Head Book Project seems to have become my toughest challenge. But I asked myself why the brakes had been pulled so hard on what I was, sorry I am, so invested in? The answer is simple. This is an ongoing task, and one that must be completed organically, one that I'm 100% comitted to and yes this does sound like I'm trying to convince myself.
Professional MTB rider, trail builder and podcaster, Matt McDuff talks of resistance, from the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, essentially the barriers we place in front of ourselves to avoid doing the work we know we should be doing, or those blocks that stop us achieving our potential and beating as he calls them the 'inner creative battles'. As a self confessed world class procrastinator I am well versed in putting things off, but this being the mundane chores, like banking, paying a bill, student loans, or booking an MOT before my vehicle becomes Illegal, fixing a surfboard before it is water logged, or building a bigger bike shed, this is where I could win medals in resistance.
But in the case of Trail Head, a book project that I hope will truly make a difference, and one that might shine a light on those who are looking for a few answers to their struggle to find positivity, or require a push in the right direction towards well being. Putting pen to paper last year (2020) during lockdown I was struck with the idea of setting off on a personal journey, (but not travelling far due to Covid restrictions) to better understand mental well being through mountain biking; and that journeys has not stopped, in fact the areas I wanted to ask others about I have experienced myself at a level far beyond what I'd expected.
As we near the end of 2021, the book is not finished, it's far from it, and the journey continues. Everytime I ride, each session on the hill with friends, the coaching I've received and more planned, the goals I have set and achieved, each enduro entered this year, (which I might add I'm slightly addicted too), the stretching and training that have entered my lifestyle, the injuries, the bike park trips, the events I've been too, people I've met and interviewed, the skills and progression that this 52 years old Chunky Brother has developed and experience over the past year are all fuel for the book. The journey is well under way, and the areas that I intended to write about have become the diary, a record of what has gone well or not.
The picture above was taken at the Southern Enduro Championships, a race I'm still reflecting upon. I've written about his journey to enduro on this blog in the past, but this was the big one, the event that I wanted to enter in 2020, and a race I’d heard so much about. Mentally this event was a huge challenge and one that would test whether I would really be able to ride at my best for two days and push my physical stamina to the limit, but one to really enjoy and savour every moment possible. The weekend turned out to be everything I expected and more, and this really became apparent on day two, when I realised as I crossed the finish line after 13 stages this was a huge learning and growth curve in my own positive mindest. By day two, I rode faster and smoother, and was so pleased with myself, I was knackered, exhausted, smiling and properly stoked.
After thirteen stages, 4500ft of climbing (walking) and 30 plus minutes of descending on exceptional trails, the weekend was only made better by great company, friendships made, hilarious banter, super friendly marshalls, and superb organisation all centered at a beautiful location in North Devon, so what’s not to love about this enduro thing. As a side note I finished a respectable 16th out of 40 entries in the Grand Veterans (over 50's), and in my last enduro at Grogley woods In Cornwall, I finsihed third
In 2021 I have completed four enduro events, in 2022 I hope to compete in more, there will be more riding and progression. So far the Trail Head Project has been a process of nerves, limiting beliefs, anxiety, small steps and a changing mindset. The enjoyable nature of this journey and the experiences of each event, ride or conversation that I continue to write about helps me believe that eventually this exciting personal journey will make a difference to others too. It's just taking a little time, but I'm Ok with that. As 2022 approaches I'm so excited, and in the meantime we have a winter training and fun programme to get through, the lights are charged and the trails are still there at night.
If you like to find out a little more, or would like to support this project as we enter 2022, then please take a look at the page above or drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd really like to thank the boys at Upgrade Bikes and DMR for their endless support, Clif Bar for an early care package of energy products that got me through those enduros, Hayle Cycles for keeping me rolling and Davi at HKT Podcast for giving me an opportunity to chat about this project on his amazing podcast.
Before Covid hit I was training to do some enduro events and two I had previously booked into had been cancelled, so finally this was the enduro I'd been waiting for with anxious anticipation and my Trail Head Project had also based partly on reaching this point. The training, the coaching, the mindset, the laps of my local hill and other trails and the progression I needed to achieve as a rider. The first enduro (Edge Cycles RD 1) was a mud fest and an event that sprung up and was not really on my radar. That being said, I entered and really didn't go well, as I mostly slid my way down each stage and covered myself in mud. But it was a challenge, both physically and mentally as I almost went home after practice, the conditions were that bad, but actually we stayed and really glad I did. My resistance was strong that day but kept thinking positive thing, positive outcome and this was achieved. I could have ridden better, but there were more important lessons taken from that event that I knew I could use at Tiverton for round 2 of the Southern Enduro. Simple lessons from signing on, timing chips, and energy food and positivity.
A four stage race, set in private woodland near Tiverton, I had this feeling that if I could just ride well, I wouldn't embarrass my self, put all my learnt skills into a few good runs, have a great day out on the bike, and without doubt enjoy myself. That has always been my goal, to just ride at my best, learn as much as I can and have fun. That's what bikes are about.
I also wanted to experience the highs and lows of an enduro event and experience those race day nerves again, to see if I actually do enjoy racing. Not since giving up BMX racing I have I felt that pre-gate anxious feeling, that adrenaline that means you have visit the toilet about fifteen times before a race, or that jelly leg feeling before the gate drops. I wanted to know if I'd enjoy racing enduro, as I love watching it and it's the type of riding that I do most.
On arrival I immediately met Stuart Catford and Torben Cook, two other 50+ riders who so kindly offered to let me roll round with them for practice and subsequently race each stage together, and would like to thank them again for such a laugh. This was a real tick in the box for a sense of community within the competition realms of enduro and it wasn't long before we were chatting with so many other riders. I thought I would be the only newbie, my second enduro, but there were so many other riders new to the sport and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I also spoke to my old BMX pal Ben Leach, who is doing really well racing MTB in the 40-49 Division. His words of wisdom from his early races were also so helpful when he spoke about pacing, something I really listen to and used all day.
The stages were so much fun, between 2-3 minutes long or thereabouts and with everything from roots, off camber, pedalling sections and loam, It was so much fun. My race runs were good and I was really pleased in the most part, but I reflected on a couple of silly mistakes. The first was not setting my rear brake up properly and this led to a little panic after practice but quickly and efficiently sorted by John from Blackout Cycles, who kindly provide free labour on race day. But riding wise, I went a little wide on stage 2 losing my front end in the loam and hitting the dirt which was frustrating as I was going well, and then there was the part where I was coming in too hot, trying too hard and dropped into a steep section, off line and nearly hit the marshal (sorry about that). Both mistakes cost me time and I'm sure a couple of overall places, but that's racing and I'm learning. What went well? My pace felt really good and only struggled in the rooty sections but it seemed I wasn't alone there. I felt I was flowing into my turns, my pedalling and sprinting was strong and overall felt I was riding well. Yes at 51 years old, I'm learning to race mountain bikes and I managed to finish 7th out of 18 riders in the Super Veterans Category (50+) and I was stoked with that, although I also need to work on my endurance, the Heart rate monitor was screaming, but here's the real point, here's why the Trail Head Project is a journey to understand positive well-being within mountain biking.
Over these two enduro events I used everything I have taught others in managing and developing their own positive mindset, all the Racehead coaching with BMX racers like Brynley Savage, like challenging the negative emotions or those limiting beliefs, the breathing exercises that relax us before a race, or the visualisation of both the tracks, and of what will be viewed as a successful race, and I used it all. Did it help me. Absolutely. Will I continue to practice what I Preach? Hell Yes. Did I enjoy the Enduro? 100%. Will I do another? Why not, it's so much fun, physically tough but what a buzz.
You'll be able to read more about this whole experience when The Trail Head Project is produced. It's an organic book project and as long as these experiences keep happening then I''l keep adding to the book.
Thanks Southern Enduro for an amazing event in some stunning woodland, and all the marshalls.
Photo Credit; Gareth Dalley via Roots and Rain
Yep, this 51 year old Chunky Brother has completed his first enduro, and absolute Mud Fest and stoked. Last weekend I went to the Kernow Enduro, near Plymouth, with one goal to simply enjoy myself and learn about the process of racing, and also give the new van its first riding road trip. I'm planning to do a few more this year and next as part of the Trail Head Project, which is my journey to understand more about mental well-being through mountain biking. I'll put a page up on this site very soon, but so far, so much has happened since the birth of this project.
Despite the mud which was of biblical portions, the rain, a couple or four crashes, standing aside to let the fast elite riders through which I'm sure is good etiquette, all of which cost me time and a couple of places, that's cool, I learnt so much which was the purpose of doing this event.
I'm stoked I met so many lovely people and finished 6th out of 8 in the super vets category (over 50's) and 70th overall from 118 starters. My first race and so much to take away and work on, especially wet, muddy off camber roots, or simply staying on my bike in the wet. Mostly I took away a great memory of a weekend meeting some fantastic people, all who simply love to ride their bikes, whatever the weather.
Congrats to my riding buddy from here in Sennen, Adam Semmens, who got 5th in the male masters and 17th overall.
The photos of the bike do not do the mud justice, my trousers are a better representation of how many times I slid down the track and the mud!!! Roll on the Southern Enduro in June.
Thanks to @edgecycles for a fun day out., the weather was not our friend but fun was had by most.
Had to share this. I miss taking my dog on the trails but he'll be back. A nagging shoulder isn't helped by manic chasing and although Kylo loves it, I'm sensitive that he has an injury so time out is a great healer. In the meantime watch this incredible film and see how rad these dogs are. Enjoy.
Been waiting for this to come to come out for what seems like ages. The last post and this one are so refreshing, I love to watch these stylish surfers just ride these waves how they should be ridden. Torryn Martin IS my favourite surfer right now and this film by his best mate Ishka is just beautifully fimed and presented. Episode 2 is going to be epic. Might I suggest a cup of tea, a comfy armchair and just enjoy.
This blog contains the ramblings, outdoor adventures and experiences of Russ Pierre. If you have a few moments, take a look through the previous posts and you might just find something interesting. There might also be words, film and contributions from others who also enjoy the outdoors life.