Got Soul

Going fast on a bike, or in my case, moderately fast requires a few key elements including but not limited to confidence on and in the bike.

If your confidence in the bike is shaken either through potential mechanical, the something not feeling right or the dreaded rattle of something that is definitely not right. This for me usually results in the end of any pace during that particular ride, the off feeling or rattle claws at my confidence until its probably best to just head for home and call it a day.

Or the slightly harder to quantify feeling of confidence on the bike, confidence on the bike only comes from time spent on the saddle. Some bikes take a little longer to bond with than others but once you truly know a bike you can achieve performance beyond what the spec sheet tells you.

A bike like this moves not under you but as part of you.

Some believe that the tools of the craftsman take on some of the knowledge of the owner, the well used hammer helping to guide the hand of the novice, transferring its tactile knowledge born of experience.

When you truly know your bike it feels like this, the bike guiding you as much as you pilot it, the shared experiences and time together bonding you together as brothers of the trail.

Sven Specialized Hardrock 10 under the ben race prepped

Sven is my bike, he is that sort of bike, we have spent the time, the miles, the metres climbed together. Some people name their bikes, Sven told me his but only after time together on the trails.

He has taught me most of what I know about riding bikes, he has taught me the joy of the trail, the elation of the climb, the thrill of the descent and the deep darkness of bonking. His build has been a running project for most of our years together, 3x 2x 1x, 8, 9 and 10 he has been through them all.

Raleigh Max Ogre 15 USA design, where it started

In my youth I rode bikes in the woods but I was oblivious to the growth and evolution of the sport, I simply hurtled down chutes on my rigid Raleigh MAX Ogre. I knew the bike, I knew what the brakes would and mostly wouldn’t do but I did not know what cycling could really mean.

Sven was the bike that brought me back into the sport, he taught me what it was, what it had become and he showed me what it could mean to me and for that he should be cherished.

I want to thank him for the gift.

Fat Creations is a custom painter who specializes in bicycle frames working with 100% paint, no decals or vinyl, his work is fantastic with a flawless finish. A Custom respray is a fitting thank you for a friend this loyal, he is one of a kind and deserves to look that way. It is all a bit of a love letter really.

Thanks for the ride and the adventures to come.


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Rule #9

The seasons march on, the contracting of daylight hours mirroring the trees receding sap, falling like the leaves that blanket the trails on which we play. The sap in the legs also slowing as we are ironically in the best condition of the year if not our lives but tired from a year of training and riding, riding and training, the wheel always spinning. There are those who move away to other pursuits waiting out the wet months for fairer weather and dryer times. There are those who change tyres, clothing, pack lights and every autumn relearn how to let a bike slide. There are those who change discipline and count miles rather than meters descended, on the road or on the trail trying to stem the tide of seasonal decline.

RULE 9 XC Winter Training stravaiging 5

On any given Sunday we can be any of those riders, Struggling to find the motivation to maintain our gains, work on our weaknesses or ride trails that challenge us as they will be too loose, too wet, too sketchy, almost too easy to find reason not to ride. These months are long and many in Scotland, if you don’t ride in the wet here then you won’t ride at all, with the same hill frequently having dusty corners and deep scarred muddy ruts that will never fully dry.

Even so when the mist clings to the hills, the air wet with the slow creeping cold that only a dreich autumn day can provide it can be especially tough to step out the door and turn those wheels. It may be canon to road culture but Rule #9 still applies here, it is still acknowledged by people who ride mountain bikes even if they don’t know its cultural significance to our lycra clad cousins. If such a manifesto as The Rules were ever written for mountain bikes it would be a much shorter tome, probably along the lines of like bikes, like beer and don’t be a dick to your fellow rider, but that is an argument for another time.

RULE 9 XC Winter Training stravaiging 4

Once on the trail and turning into the wind the rain gathering on your helmets visor as your eyes narrow to see, goggles and glasses are useless here, pray you don’t get grit in your eyes at the wrong time. Your feet cold but the worst held off by water proof socks, the wet slowly working its way through the outer layers. You know you are the only person on the hill, everyone else is warm and inside, your mind wanders as you try to keep focus as a tough climb is round the corner.
 RULE 9 XC Winter Training stravaiging 1
Low cadence, just south of top of the block you keep the pedals moving, forcing yourself to look up trail rather than the ground in front of your wheel, each oncoming turn is a new goal, somewhere else too aim for. Metronomic in movement the grit in the drive train equaling that in the limbs, counting your breaths to clear the mind. The meditation of the climb settling in as the heat in your legs starts to mount, you start to enjoy the work as the flow comes from the ups as well as the downs.
Flow comes in the ups as well as the downs.
Transitioning onto the plateau the deraileaur moves the chain through the block to keep a constant cadence whilst building speed, nursing the changes as any oil has long been washed from the chain. Moving into a descent, heals dropping and moving over the back wheel, keeping your weight low carving turns and letting the bike move beneath you. The flow brought on from the climb still in control of your thoughts.
Reaching home you wrap yourself in the warmth and sanctuary, the ride that is begun is never regretted but if taking those first steps to go for a ride are hard and the conditions poor just remember there is always Rule #5 to help motivate us.
RULE 9 XC Winter Training stravaiging 2

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Street Sport Pump Track

Street Sport Pump Track Northfield Academy

My work at Gray’s School of Art is involved with a diversionary program called Street Sport, the program brings a portable football pitch to areas where sports facilities aren’t readily available for kids to get involved in positive sporting activity. Street Sport also runs arts and creative learning sessions along side the football.

The program has been shown to reduce disruptive and antisocial behavior as well as introducing a healthy lifestyle to the kids who engage with Street Sport.

Recently the team with support from partner agencies from across Aberdeen looked to expand the program with cycling and a weekly portable pump track session to engage with a wider audience who don’t just want to play football.

To help secure the funding a portable pump track was set up at Northfield Academy, an area that Street Sport already operates within so that pupils at the school could sample the pump track to help build interest.

We used the session to film a pitch video that kids and young adults at the school will be able to watch, they will have the opportunity to vote on it and other potential projects in their area.

Portable pump track street sport aberdeen Stravaiging northfield aberdeen 3

I used the pump track event as an opportunity to hold an on location filming workshop with some of my students who produced the video above which was used to support the application for funding. Filming and document in live environments is a difficult skill to simulate in the class room so whenever events such as this come up I try to get the student out the school and on site for some real world experience.

Hopefully the demo event and the video will be enough to excite the pupils of the school and win their votes so the project can run for a full year.

Portable pump track street sport aberdeen Stravaiging northfield berm high side bmx aberdeen 5

Portable pump track street sport aberdeen Stravaiging northfield BMX aberdeen 6


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