The third week of Project Freelance started well. A cheque from Harvey Maps arrived in the post, only two working days since I sent them an invoice. I don’t expect chasing payment being so easy as that. After eagerly rushing to the bank to pay in the cheque I headed over into the White Peak to visit Cotic Bikes HQ. Rather than just have them send me a test bike in a box to my house I thought I’d make the most of their relative proximity and pick up the bike in person – and go for a ride whilst I was there. The current spell of great weather needs to be exploited too.
Cy (Cotic chief) is always up for a ride so he took me on a guided ride from his premises. As it happens I’m quite familiar with the test bike in question (Cotic Hemlock) but it’s always useful to spend time with the designer to hear about their thoughts and intentions with a bike. It’s also good to ride the trails where a lot of a bike’s R&D was carried out.
During the week I rode in Delamere Forest. I had meaning to ride there ever since I relocated to Manchester but had never quite managed to sort it out. I have Charlotte (my other half) to thank for me finally sorting it out; she had an urge to ride after her work but neither us had the time or inclination to head over to my usual riding spot (Hebden Bridge) so Delamere popped into my head. Being 30 miles away it isn’t exactly “doorstep riding” but it only took about 45 minutes to get there and there was much less of the sort of attendant hassle we have when going to Hebden Bridge (waiting for trains or getting stuck in M62 traffic, not getting home until late).
With some helpful pointers from a friend about where the best trails were in the forest – combined with my nose for sniffing out singletrack – we had a brilliant time. The conditions were perfect and the trails were great fun. Crucially they were something different to my usual fare. There was no steep, technical, stoney sketchiness. Just miles of “speederbike” woodland singletrack. Fast and flowy but with frequent tight turns and dips and rises.
From a personal point of view it’s lovely to have riding like that within reach of where I live. From a professional point of view it’s extremely useful to have a different type of terrain and trail to test bikes and stuff on. I was riding a steel singlespeed with 100mm forks that had felt fun but a bit out of its depths in my other test riding areas but in Delamere Forest it really was the tool for the job. Manchester may not be great for “doorstep riding” but there are plenty of near-enough riding spots within reach and they are all quite different and distinct.
The main work I did this week was a feature for the CTC’s “Cycle” magazine called “Dirty Weekends”. The idea of the feature was “where to go this summer weekend” with riding suggestions for the 30/40/50-something year old mountain biker who doesn’t want to blat around the nearest trail centre. I chose 3 different areas of the country and discussed 4 routes in each area. A short “box out” of a few other brief suggestions was requested too, as was a brief “stand first” introduction.
I had been worried about how long it would take me to sort out all the required info and then to write it all up (the deadline was quite tight). I find stepping away from the computer and doing some “paper and pen” work extremely useful. Once I’d broken the task down into sections, drafted each one with some scrawls and put things into order it was much less daunting. The actual typing-up didn’t take anywhere near as long as I’d predicted. The whole thing was started and finished in one full working day. Once checked over, tweaked and spellchecked, I emailed it in to the Editor. I hope he appreciated having something handed in before its deadline date.
I won’t be paid as instantly as I was from Harvey Maps. As with most magazines, “Cycle” pay freelancers after the magazine has been published (up to 30 days after publication is fairly standard). The issue of the mag that my “Dirty Weekends” feature will be in is the August-September issue.
I didn’t get to ride at the weekend (family visits and stuff) and it was torture. There’s nothing worse for a mountain biking addict than to not be riding when the conditions are like they are. I’m going to try and ride every day this week to make up for it – even it’s just for half an hour play in my local park woods.