Category Archives: Opinions

Not that I expect anyone to care but this is what I think about stuff.

Taxpayer Funded Vandalism of the Peak District

Taxpayer Funded Vandalism of the Peak District

Like many other Twitter agitators I received a tweet with a link to a DCC page. This was in response to my tweets to Derbyshire County Council about the destruction of the Chapel Gate / Rushup Edge bridleway. It looked like this:

dcc-tweet

I will be reproducing the full Derbyshire County Council post at the bottom of this page in unalterable, Rosetta stone, screen shotted jpeg format for these things have a habit changing (£70K dropping to £30K for instance) and previous statements being denied. In this post I will address and expose the specious and facile arguments put forward by DCC.

Derbyshire County Council Chapel Gate

Derbyshire County Council Chapel Gate

As you can see from Derbyshire County Council’s own illustrative photograph, this bridleway is down to bedrock. the rocks you see in the picture are stable and are not going anywhere.  Let us look at what Derbyshire County Council have deemed suitable to resurface Rushup Edge with.

#rushopgone

If this is what Derbyshire County Council do in the name of safety I dread to think how they behave when they are being negligent.

To give you a sense of perspective the smallest of these rocks is the size of a large fist and when you ride a bike over them they undulate like a carpet of marbles. If this is what Derbyshire County Council do in the name of safety I dread to think how they behave when they are being negligent. Now imagine the surface area of a horse’s hoof. Does this in anyway look conducive to the safety and comfort of a horse or rider? My concern is genuine because it highlights the only real question I want Derbyshire County Council to answer: Who are you doing this for?

Walkers?

This is a wide group that encompasses young and old from every section of society. Walking is a unique human trait, one of the cornerstones of our evolution as a species, freeing up the hands to develop the fine motor skills to use tools, write down lanugage, share ideas, poetry and pass on knowledge to the next generation. Walking transcends class and financial means, to do it in comfort costs no more than the price of a waterproof jacket and a pair of boots. The one thing that we can safely assume, without fear of contradiction, is that everyone in this group can walk.

Now that we have established that walkers can walk, and they would have to do a fair bit of it to reach Chapel Gate / Rushup Edge in the first place, I would like you to imagine this scenario. You are standing at the bottom of a steep set of steps that reach up meters into the air, they number 10, maybe 13 and they stand between you… and your toilet. How are you going to conquer this monumental barrier? One approach could be to contact Derbyshire County Council’s PROW department and they’ll pop round and turn your house into a bungalow, not particularly practical or cost effective but that’s how they roll. My point being that most people encounter steps no bigger than those on Rushup Edge everyday of their lives, to say that these steps are impeding walkers is frankly laughable.

Does anyone go walking in the Peak District expecting it to be smooth, even and flat? Isn’t the fact that it’s rugged, exposed and natural part of the attraction of these routes? In September 2014 I rode up these steps on my bike as part of the Hope Valley Moutnain Bike Challenge. I am not especially fit or talented so if I can do it on a bike, I put it to DCC that even those of below average fitness would be able to walk up them at a steady pace. These steps were not impassable they were a unique natural feature that has been carelessly destroyed.

The Peak District Sponsored By Stannah

If I can ride up Rushup Edge steps most people can walk up them.

Horse Riders?

The following is taken from www.peakhorsepower.co.uk and I believe reflects the positive ownership of responsibility felt by the majority of those who use these bridleways.

This is a VERY CHALLENGING but very rewarding ride. The Loop is rugged and strenuous in places so you and your horse need to be fit and prepared. Sections of the route follow rough paths across exposed moorland.

The bridleways used in the Kinder Loop are often stony and steep because of the very nature of the countryside they are set in.

This has been lifted verbatim from Peak Horse Powers website (capitals and all)  and what I find most encouraging about the statement is not the recognition that it is a “very challenging” ride but acknoledgement that it is “very rewarding”. This is language I can relate to. I know it would seem to many mountain bikers that horse riders are just ambling along but it seems to me that they enjoy pushing themselves and their steeds just as much as we do.

This one sentence gives me a renewed sense that horse riders and mountain bikers are on the same side despite attempts by Derbyshire County Council to pit our communities against each other with sentences like “Mountain bikers prefer challenging, rockier routes, whereas these might not be suitable for horse riders or walkers.” Hear that walkers and horse riders? DCC think you can’t handle the Peak District’s rugged terrain. Feeling patronised? You should be.

The fact of the matter is that if Derbyshire County Council genuinely want their resurfacing to ensure these bridleways can be “enjoyed by everyone” then surely they have to cater to the one group who are most impeded by these routes. The group they have failed to mention in their post.

Wheelchair Users

If we take Derbyshire County Council at their word and their resurfacing is for the benefit of “everyone” then surely this should mean making the bridleways so smooth as to not impede wheelchairs. To level bridleways sufficiently would preclude the use of rough cut aggregate and certainly involve tarmac or concrete. I doubt even the most ardent wheelchair access advocate would expect Derbyshire County Council to take such drastic action.

So I return to my original question, who are you doing this for DCC? Surely you must have some data? A deluge of correspondence or a petition for improvements from a group of users? A statistical spike in injuries on Rushup Edge that would perhaps support your claim that it is unsafe? What are you basing your decisions on?

In Summary

Before DCC’s resurfacing we had a bridelway that was suitable for the majority of users and loved by mountain bikers (who apparently don’t count). £70,000 later we have an unstable surface making it more likely to injure walkers, cyclists, horses and their riders. Further more, despite their claims to be championing the right of access to all users we still have a surface that is unsuitable for wheelchair users.

Your arguments and claims thus far Derbyshire County Council have been shown to be contradictory, false and lacking in supporting evidence. The work you have carried out has damaged the character of the Peak District and benefits no one.

Derbyshire Country Council’s Response to #rushupgone

DCC Full Post Rushup Edge

DCC Full Post Rushup Edge

Buying a new bike… 29er vs 26er

Buying a new bike… 29er vs 26er

When my On One 456 was nicked I had every intention of replacing it with a carbon version of the same bike. I don’t like to sound like a sales rep for On One but I just think they make great bikes and they don’t take the piss with their prices, I mean why would you pay more than £200 quid for a few steel pipes welded together? I had my heart set on the SRAM X9 456 build for £1299, unfortunately there’s been some delays in getting the money together and the price has now gone up to £1499, still great value but at this price point there are other options that present themselves. One is a new carbon 29er called the Lurcher that is arriving in the UK in March, it’s been in the pipe line for nearly 2 years. The 29er is the new standard that everyone is talking about, the fact is that big wheels roll over big rocks more easily and now that designers have got a handle on the geometry needed to solve the handling issues of early incarnations of big wheelers, there’s no reason not to give them a try.

Having owned a 26er and loved it, it’s very tempting to stick with what you know, that said I know that I ended up going over the handlebars of that bike a number of times. Most of these instance I put down to bad positioning on the bike, but there were several times where I felt that being flung over the front was a harsh punishment for a minor error. The more I think about the times I’ve scrubbed off speed on the approached to a steep section or step and not had the momentum to roll over the first root, rock or rut that’s met my front wheel, bringing the bike to a sudden halt and sending me over the bars, the more I think that the 29er is the solution.

I went to One One’s showroom at the weekend and although the staff were very helpful it didn’t really make the decision any easier. The carbon 456s are very pretty and chucking my leg over a 20 inch frame felt like home but I also got to see the Lurcher. I had thought I’d need a 19.5″ in the 29er but the cockpit of the 18″ prototype felt very roomy even with a short stem and is probably the size for me. I’d be happy with either bike, the 150mm travel of the 456 is great but you don’t need as much with the  a 29er, making the fork cheaper or a lighter, higher spec fork the same price. It’s a tough one but the Lurcher has it by a nose at the moment, it’s not landing until the 2oth March so plenty of time change my mind.

[slideshow]Here’s a list of 29er problems that I believe have been solved.

Handling – Big wheels may be stable but they’re not as manoeuvrable as 26″ wheels

I think this has been solved with the geometry of the new breed of 29ers, I needed an 80mm stem on my 26er, the longer the stem the less responsive the steering, but 80mm was necessary to fit a 6ft 2in bloke on to a 20 inch frame. The 18″ Lurcher had a longer cockpit, and a shorter stem (about 40mm),  shorter stem means more responsive handling, my theory is that these differences in layout should negate any differences in handling between the two bikes.

Parts and Spares – 29ers are not as common and replacing parts is a problem and there is not the choice.

The 29er standard is being embraced by all the major manufacturers and with Fox and Rock Shox expanding their range of 29er forks in 2012 this problem is of the past.

For big guys only – 29ers are only good for bigger riders

You may have a point, I read that really big guys (25 stone +) should stick with 26″ wheels, but shorter riders may not experience the benefits of big wheels in the same way as us six footers. Would you want a 16″ frame with 29″ wheels?

Wheel Strength – Bigger wheels have more flex in them, don’t track as well and are weaker than 26 inch wheels.

I understand that the shop return rates for both standards are about the same, you could argue that there are less 29ers out there so if the return rates are the same then that suggests 29er wheels are weaker. That said I’ve bent in half a 26 inch wheel, mainly due to being fat and clumsy, but if 29er geometry suits a bigger rider it might make wheel bending accidents less likely. With the introduction of the 15 and 20mm front axles last year the issues of tracking for both 26 and 29 inch wheels should be a thing of the past.

No good for Down Hill – You’ll never replace the 26″ standard in this discipline, it’s just the best tool for the job.

Only time will tell, I guess we won’t know until riders start winning events on 29ers.

Having not yet ridden a 29er this is all conjecture and imbibed wisdom, but I thought I would share my decision-making process with you.  I hope to have a 29er in place by the end of March so then I’ll be able to speak from experience.