Tag Archives: december

Bloco Dos Sujos

Bloc Dos Sujos samba bristolBloco Dos Sujos is a Brazillian percussion bateria based in Bristol UK. It was formed in 2014 by Paul Baxter who was also a founder of Ziriguidum. Paul described the concept as a simple idea: “play samba properly”. I went to introductory sessions with the band on Thursdays in October through to December and the playing was inspiring. It felt relaxed and fluid and at the same time it was really tight. A good drug. Bloco Dos Sujos facebook page.

Many people in the UK associate the term “samba band” with a group of percussionists who generally play a range of styles to build a set. A drumming bateria is one part of the whole machine and usually joined by singers and a cavaquinho player (a small guitar type instrument) as well as dancers. Bloco Dos Sujos concentrate on playing the arrangements and songs of Rio samba. As some people say: “they just play samba”. There are many variations of the samba style that are generally named after the main samba schools in Rio that originated them.

This video is from a performance at No1 Habourside in Bristol in December 2015. The band were joined by singer Xavier Osmir and cavaquinho player Adriano Dias.

I took these photographs without flash using a Canon G1X. It was very dark in the venue so I was running a very high ISO level. I’m still impressed with the results this camera can produce.

Picton Street Fayre

Picton Street Fayre poster 2015The Picton Street Fayre is a street fair and music festival held near the centre of Bristol in Decemeber. The event is advertised via the Picton Street facebook page.

I was there to perform with the African Sambistas. I had some time to look around since we were playing last on the bill. I caught the end of the The Longest Johns vocal group on stage. They were followed by the Bristol swing dancers. I’m actually a world record holder in the field of swing dancing. Well, I took part in the world record for the largest group dancing jive on the street. Before we went off to prepare I watched the entertaining Jelly Roll.

When we returned to Picton Street with the band and dancers it was dark and the crowd were ready for us. Everyone in a band will tell you that they go through all the toil that goes on behind the scenes because they are chasing the high that they experience when performing to a good crowd. Picton Street didn’t let us down. The energy was there and the African Sambistas finished the year on a high.

Thank you to Paul Phillips for the video and photos (some photos here by Tom).

Picton street fayre

Picton street fair

The African Sambistas rehearse on Wednesday evenings in Easton, Bristol. New members are always welcome. No experience necessary, come along and have a go. African Sambistas are also on Facebook and Twitter.

Red Kite winter series xc race

Red Kite winter xc race round 3.This was round three of the Red Kite events winter series. See the write ups from Oct 2013  and Nov 2013.

The event was based at the familiar Coed Trallwm trail centre with another variant on the route. The wet weather warnings meant that the upper section of the trail centre was used in place of the tight singletrack that’s been a feature of many of the races. The cottage loop was included but with a short cut near the top.

I’d ridden 20km on Thursday and 30km on Friday and then had a day of rest on Saturday to go Christmas shopping. After a 1am bike maintenance session I managed a few hours sleep and set off from Stroud at 8am. I had a two hour drive ahead of me. A lot of rain had been forecast but I saw none of it in south Wales. After observing a stunning rainbow near Abergavenny the clouds opened and I wondered if the car was any good at floating. The rain stopped by the time I reached Crickhowel and it I was treated to a beautiful morning.  The journey took longer than expected and after stopping to move a disorientated pheasant out of the middle of the road I arrived with 10 minutes to spare. The race start was delayed by a few minutes to allow me to register.

Fallen tree in a forest.

Thirty seconds later we were off. As usual a group of riders shot straight off up the hill into the distance and I settled somewhere in the middle of the race procession. The damp and muddy track was very draggy to pedal through so I concentrated on finding my comfort point and erased any thoughts of pain or tiredness from my mind. The familiar top of the hill was now a false summit. A short descent on a slippery track lead to a power sapping ramp and then a climb  to the highest point of the trail.

Coed Trallwm mountain bike trails.

The upper section of the descent is actually pretty good as long as you’re aware that the last jump delivers you into the bottom of a ditch. The kicker jumps were a blast in the dry and when I was riding my Stump Jumper. In the wet and on my Camber I wasn’t enjoying them so much.

I passed a guy having mechanical issues and one rider moved over to let me past on the descent. Unlike many of the previous races I hardly saw any other riders after that. I occasionally caught sight of the rider in front but I wasn’t gaining ground on them. The mechanical guy caught me up, introduced himself and shook my hand. After following me down the cottage descent he powered off into the distance. I passed him a few minutes later as he grappled with a stuck chain. A few laps later he passed me again.

I wasn’t in the mood for beasting myself so I very carefully adjusted my pace so that I was working quite hard but I wasn’t grinding myself down. The best thing about this was that I actually felt really good!

I was very encouraged that I had balanced back ache. Often my left side will start hurting and limit how hard I can pedal. Today I had an ache on both sides and I was able to push on anyway without any worrying pain. This was very encouraging and hopefully means that I’m building strength.

My bike maintenance session had been well worth it – the gears worked perfectly. For about five minutes and then were back to over eager shifting in one direction and a lack of interest in the other. Considering I had a new chain, cassette and cable I wasn’t impressed. I think the wobbly jockey wheels are to blame.

Despite the extreme weather warnings no rain fell for the first hour and a half of the race. Then an icy sleet fell from the sky. I contemplated stopping to put my anorak on but decided to brave it out.

Results and prizes at Red Kite winter xc race.

The lap times were 29:50, 32:46, 33:37, 35:03 so there was a steady drop in pace as the race went on. Neil from Red Kite events told me that the fastest lap times were significantly down on normal – confirmation that the conditions were heavy going.

In my category I was 2nd out of 5 which was great. Map on Garmin Connect and also as gpx (view using bikehike.co.uk). Also on Strava!

The squiggle analysis below is very promising. If I knocked a few minutes off my average lap time of 32m:50s then I would be close to 5th place overall. I know that sounds like “if I was faster then I’d do better” but it means that better results are within grasp.

Results anaylsis of the Red Kite winter xc race round 3.

Stats for this and the previous races are shown below.

 Oct 2013 Nov 2013 Dec-13
Distance km 18.5 24.1 27.1
Time hh:mm:ss 01:43:18 01:57:13 02:07:46
Time hours 1.72 1.95 2.13
Elevation m 819 812 795
Average speed km/h 10.7 12.3 12.7
mph 6.7 7.6 7.9
Energy KCal 991 1094 1170
laps  – 6 4 4
Dist/lap km 3.1 6.0 6.8
Time/lap minutes 17.22 29.30 31.94
Elev/lap m 137 203 199
Elev/h m/h 476 416 373
Elev/dist m/km 44 34 29
Energy/hour KCal/hour 576 560 549

Red Kite winter xc race map round 3.

Another 100 mile weekend. Part 2 – Prospect big ride recce

This was ride number two of the weekend. I’d covered over 40km the previous evening on the Noah’s shop ride.

The plan for this was to drive to Swindon, meet up with Phil Allum and go and investigate and rate various pieces of trail that were intended for the Prospect Big Ride 2014. I designed the routes in 2013 & 2012 with a bit of input from others.

2012 2013
photos | maps photos | maps
gpx gpx
50.5 km / 617m 49 km / 610m
Prospect Big Ride 2012 map Prospect big ride 2013 map long

Phil and myself set off on our voyage of discovery on a cold morning. I know the early stages of the ride too well so it was great to reach the first descent and appreciate it. After crossing under the bridge at Ogbourne we had a list of places to visit. As we rode we discussed the various options and ideas for linking them together. Our vision was that the route had to be different from previous years and it had to incorporate the best bits of trail. Phil was clear that the rickety bridge track descent to Ogbourne Maizey was the best section in the area.

Prospect big ride viewThe ride was quite heavy going since we were pedalling at a good pace and we had more than 55km to cover and repeat visits to some areas.

We trialled an old favourite descent near Ramsbury. This got a thumbs up from Phil. I’ve got some video of it below. Back nearer to Ogbourne we rode up or down every bridleway on the hill. We agreed on the best parts and I knew that linking them together would require some effort.

Riding along I decided that with the Stump Jumper off the road due to knackered forks then only having one spare bike was really not good enough. I needed the n+1 bike. I decided that if Hargroves Swindon still had the ex demo Camber 29″ then I’d buy it.

We were not looking forwards to riding up Smeathe’s ridge but after a sit down we were ready and found it not as bad as we expected. it’s a funny hill – it really doesn’t work as a descent, probably due to the grass swallowing up the speed.

Specialized saddleWe took a slightly new route back to Ladder Lane. Phil engaged his full downhill speed here, leaving me a fair distance behind. I was still quite happy with my performance though – I am a bit cautious on downhills really but I have my crazy days where I’m a bit faster.

After a quick ride round the second half of the Croft Trail we were both knackered and happy to stop. The Garmin plot showed 61km, 730m of ascent and 2,100 KCal. Gpx file.

I called round Hargroves but my bike plans were thwarted – they’d sold the Camber 29″ a few weeks ago. I settled on a new saddle for the existing bike.

Prospect big ride 2014 route recceAt home I spent many, many hours drawing route options and measuring the distances. I ended up with a few main choices, Phil expressed some opinions and finally a decision was made. It’s an option we named “tangled route”. It is going to be 55km long with 710m of ascent – slightly harder than previous years.

Preview video from 2013 showing many of the good sections.

The photos below are from the event, marking out and recce rides from previous years.


Another 100 mile weekend. Part 1 – Noah’s Shop Ride

Daneway pub near Stroud.
Daneway pub

This was another weekend with three rides planned. I had covered 168km (104 miles) on the previous weekend over the space of three rides.

Ride number one was the Noah’s bike shop ride on Friday evening. The route sort of developed as we went along, so we rode up to Minchinhampton and then down the woods back into Chalford. We followed the canal path as far as the Daneway pub. In the dark and mist this was surprisingly entertaining. The bike lights picked out a twisting path through tight trees that emerged from the dark and mist.

We liked the descent in the woods so much that we did it twice. I had a vivid moment when I arrived a T junction with far more speed than I wanted. Somehow I managed to tail wag it off. There was also a big giggle with a steep bank back onto the canal path. The descent wasn’t a problem; the pitch black was the problem.

We followed some roads round to a great descent near France Lynch. With all riders feeling fresh we covered the ground at a good rate.

I was feeling so pumped up on the way home that I cycled up to the Winstone’s ice cream factory and tried out another descent that I’d been looking at on the map. Then I rode half way up the hill and continued home. I reached top speed down the road descent in Stroud, leaving a car behind at both sets of lights. That was amusing.

Map showing an off road ride near Stroud.Overall I felt in great shape physically. Which was nice.

I noticed that my front forks were not working properly on this ride. They were very harsh over small bumps. I reasoned that the six months since their servicing with no oil change had caused the issues.

Garmin connect says 45.00km, 590m, 16.1km/h moving speed, max speed 50.7 km/h and 1709 KCal.

Gpx file.