Monday 4 March 2013

Crossing over with Dirty Harry

Summer 1991, or thereabouts. That was when I last went mountain biking and it was shortly before I had an extended break from cycling for 14 years or so. On returning, I resumed my love affair with cyclocross and ignored its off road sibling discipline completely. It was with some excitement then that I erm, 'appropriated' 'cross team mate Dave Haygarth's Planet X 29er race bike, Dirty Harry and headed for Wales to reacquaint myself with fat tyres and suspension.

Things have moved on a little in the mountainbike world since 1991. There are purpose built trail centres (fancy that), suspension that works and doesn't spit oil at you and bikes that don't weigh a ton. In fact Dirty Harry seemed to weigh little more than my cross bikes despite having a chunky, menacing 'I mean business' look.

Cue a trip to Betws-y-Coed and a days riding with friend and Stoic Focus coach Greg. Starting with the now venerable but classic Marin Trail and finishing the day on the community-built Penmachno circuit, I managed to build my skills and speed without serious injury to body or ego, as well as racking up a solid full day of glorious trail riding - somewhat of a contrast to the off-road riding that I have done in recent years on a cross bike.

That contrast was mainly in the form of the concentration required to ride quickly on singletrack. By contrast 'cross feels slow, and whilst absorbing and engrossing in terms of technique and choice of line, it has none of the 'video game' quality that barreling through forests and hillsides, barely the right side of in-control brings to the off-road experience. It's all highly addictive, and an experience I intend to repeat soon. If I can just prise Dirty Harry off Dave again....

The video doesn't really do the whole thing justice but does at least go to demonstrate how unfeasibly wide Dave's handlebars are.

Crossjunkie meets Dirty Harry from Alan Dorrington on Vimeo.

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