Tag Archives: MTB

Things I have seen

I was just thinking the other day about how far removed from the real world some of my cycling experiences are.  Tyres, for example.  The company which I work for is sponsored by Continental.  I needed new tyres, so I speak to our contact and he says that he will send me something.

The tyres come, but there is something about them.  They are labelled like normal tyres, but there are numbers on the sidewall after the GP4000 S logo.  He tells me to test ride them, then let him know what I think was special about them.

The first ride was enough.  These were cornering tyres.  They held on and on and on in the switchbacks.  I was able to carry a lot of speed through the turns.  I called him up, and he confirmed it.  “Yes, we did that compound for Astana for the Tour de France in the mountains.”  Nice.

A couple of years earlier, in fact when I had just started in this job, one of the MTB pro riders was product testing the day before a race.  He came back from a practice lap, and was happy.  I asked what was good, “the tyres, they roll so well.  Really fast, there is a road section in the race tomorrow.  I am going to make up so much time there.  I just wish they were a little grippier in the corners”.  About 30 mins later, his phone rang.  The product development guy from Conti asked him about the tyres, he gave the same feedback.  The guy on the other end of the phone said, “no problem, I will make the changes now, and bring the tyres to you before the start tomorrow”.

The next morning (on a Sunday) the Conti guy shows up with a set of tyres.  Our rider has them fitted to his bike, rides the race, and wins.  He came back saying the tyres had been modified precisely as he had wished for.

I wish I could tell my 14 year old self some of this at times, I really do.

I love Taiwan too.

I go to Taiwan twice a year, and have only managed it once to go into the mountains, and never like this. I wondered what Richie was doing in Taipei this year – I didn’t ask him straight out – it only occurred to be later that I wasn’t at Eurobike, or Interbike and so chatting with Richie or Hans was a bit odd at the show. Oh well, they all melt into another after a while (the shows, not the riders). Anyway, check this out.

http://www.pinkbike.com/v/249678/l/

Richie Schley – Made in Taiwan on pinkbike.com

Getting my ride on.

I have tired legs. The feeling of not just one day of abuse, but two, is there – vaguely tingling. I have a week now before my next ride, so I have plenty of recovery time.

Friday night was a ride with Neil and Ben. Full on muddy night ride around Swinley. Neil and Ben are team mates for 24 hr racing, and Neil works for Whyte. I met him a few years back and our paths cross every now and then at events. You recognise people, chat, Facebook each other and eventually meet up. What’s great about this job is that you are never short of good riders to have a spin with. Even if they do completely outclass me (which they did). Still, it was a great ride, and the lights are awesome (thanks EXPOSURE) so even fast singletrack is unhindered in terms of speed.

We rode for a couple of hours, or perhaps less. All I know was that the pace and some of the steep climbs really caused me to feel the burn.

Knowing that I am in Germany this coming week allows me to recover a little. In order to make that worthwhile, today I am at my parents place. Road bike was the tool of choice, so I set off into Somerset. This area doesn’t do flat. A 53km loop results in 450m climbed. Not much by mountain standards, but these are short sharp climbs. It was breezy and got cold too. A proper workout for me, with yesterday still in my legs.

I will perhaps vainly take the running shoes to Germany – but it will be a busy trip, flying in on Monday, driving to Stuttgart on Tuesday (going to Magura) with work and friends to catch up with in Koblenz before flying back on Friday. No plans for next weekend yet though – perhaps it will involve a bike?!

Coffee to go

It was cold.  The alarm went off at 8am, and I rolled over and thought about how warm the bed was.  Outside the temperature was minus 4 degrees.  I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed and threw some porridge oats into a pan, added some milk and put the hob on at a low heat.  I then started making a mental list, as I went into the study to one of the bike clothing drawers.  Scrambling around I found a pair of tights, a thermal base layer and a winter jacket.

Kitting up takes ages in this sort of weather.  That wasn’t the worst of it though.  The worst thing was that I needed to put the bike on the back of the car to go and meet with Abi and Sarah riding for Charge.

Now I use a Saris Bones bike rack.  The reason I mention the type is because it is awesome.  It really is that good.  It anything, the weakness of it is the same thing that makes it great.  It is based around an aluminium tube, about 10cm in diameter.  The legs and arms slot on to this.  It has notches to allow different positions depending on your car.  The thing with it though is that this tube construction makes it massively secure – doing away with hinges and pivots – but also makes it a little time consuming to fold up.  On a cold day like this Sunday, it is also very cold.  So cold in fact, that my hand initially stuck to it.  It zapped all of my warmth right away.  Assembling it was not fun.

After about 20mins the bike was on the back of the car, and I was happy with how secure it was.  Back into the house for a cup of tea to return feeling to my hands!  I stuck the TV on for 10 minutes with the still warm hot water bottle under my feet.  Then I make a coffee to go.

I was heading to Sarah’s house.  Sarah and Abi are friends who I know through Trevor Allen, who is sponsored by us.  Both of them are good riders, with Sarah being a lot newer to the sport than Abi is.  Abi has was bottle fed mountain bikes as a kid, and consquently her whole life – she is kind of crazy about it – driving up from Bristol for this ride – Bristol, where she had only been for one night having been in London the day before.

I don’t ride enough.  This last weekend was glorious though.  The road ride on the Saturday and this, on the Sunday.

We winced at each other in the cold, joking about whether we really wanted to do this.  There was no way that we weren’t going to though.  By this time we had all committed so much effort to it.  Off we headed into Crowthorn Woods.

It was perfect for riding.  The ground was frozen solid.  The sun had peeked through the clowds and the light was perfect.  Crowthorn is swooshy singletrack – and plenty of it.  I am slowly beginning to know my way around and with Sarah’s parents living just around the corner the ironic thing was that we let Abi lead.  That is the fun of this place, you can go in circles and not have the disappointment of feeling that you aren’t getting anywhere.  Everything is so interwoven and intertwined.  It was a couple of hours of bliss, and I long for the next time.  Long for it.

So why don’t I ride today in the snow….?  There is no snow where I am.

Korean Show

I am pretty sure I am the only westerner here!

It is a compact show, but pretty well attended. Unlike London Shimano and Giant bothered to be here, as well as Cannondale, Specialized, SRAM and Campagnolo (and oh dear, what have they done to their entry level groups?)

Visitors on the first day is a good cross section of ages with many riding here (glorious sunny day). Those who did ride don’t do casual bike wear, so it is a bit like a fancy dress party with many people, not just those riding here, wearing Lycra cycling tops.

As this is a local show for the Korean Market what surprises me is just how much effort the distributors are putting in to the brands they have. Many other countries should take note of the ownership that the companies here feel. Our distributor has had large banners printed up. Presentation is generally really good and the quality of booth materials is impressive. Basically it is more Eurobike than most shows, which at times look as if a half arsed Saturday boy has just lifted the contents of the shop floor up and plonked it in an exhibition centre. The newness of the venue helps here too.

As I suspected there is a large array of titanium on show. This Ibis caught my eye as I once fell in love with a Silk Ti riding it in California.

The other trend which is very apparent is that of the ‘Mini Velo’. These are based around 20 inch wheels with a non folding frame. The idea, I think, is that the bike takes up less room in an apartment. Clearly these arent cheap altenatives, as the carbon frames and these 20inch carbon wheels illustrate.

Another thing which caught my eye was bike storage solutions. The Pretty One should perhaps worry as after seeing the bike safe shown below, I now lust after a five bike version.

E-bikes are also on the march here too, although I am told that the price is still putting a lot of people off. Personally I not so sure about that, as I don’t think an e-bike and a standard bike really appeal to the same users. Good to see that as well as Bosch getting in on the act, Mando (who I am told are a large car components manufacuter) where also showing their cards. Those of you who automatically tune out at the mention of electric bikes – you shouldn’t. They will increase the acceptance of cycling in general as they open the door to users who may have previously decided they were too unfit to ride. Think 40 – 60 something golfers, highly paid professionals with money who aren’t the fittest people in the world. E-bikes may get them in the road and thus not in their Jaguars passing you far to close.

On he topic of giving bikes enough room Landlord were displaying their bike lane light. I have seen this concept before and would love to give it a go. Only real problem I see is giving every other numpty a laser to play with – they aren’t good for the eyes if looked at directly.

Unable to communicate enough in Korean to get one to play with though.

Elsewhere in the show there was a good array CNC MTB parts, available only in Korea from the likes of Fierce. I spotted another brand too.

Proving that annodizing and colours are also never out of fashion, or indeed are coming back continued were Chosen:

Another small Korean CNC specialist were there:

On the same booth was this frame and suspension performance recording and logging machine. All done with GPS and sensors all over the bike. Pretty cool, if tuning a frame.

Finally, my friends from Simplon were there with their mobile specification list (see Marketing Bollocks post from a few weeks back).

Any questions relating to any of this, please ask away (preferably here, and not Weight Weenies, because I don’t check in much). I have the brochure from Fierce (If I didn’t leave it in the hotel) and the other CNC people.

Fat Tyre Buzz

There is a thing about being spoilt and having a selection of bikes. To be honest though, I don’t feel that spoilt as I did buy them all! That aside, if, like me, you started as a mountain biker, and took many years to get into road cycling, then you might be able to relate.

Yesterday I went for my mid week ride with Trevor. He was riding well, and seems fresh and ready to go following his 24hr podium. I am trying to get a little fitness, and having ridden 3 or 4 times recently with The Pretty One I am beginning to get there.

My decision yesterday was that I would ride to the meeting point, and then start the ride from there. I had been told that it was 13miles, which sounded reasonable. It was 16 miles in the end, but the main point of what I am writing is this.

Riding a mountain bike on the road isn’t ideal! I know that it is good training and if you are double hard like Jeff you can do it, but I would prefer not to! I chose the hardtail, with Conti Race Kings, because they roll so well. After the road bike though, this setup will always feel really sluggish, and trying to TT to the meeting point I was sorely missing the road bike. The route included a few long straight uphill sections, and is traffic heavy with commuter traffic which passes mere cms from my bar ends. It was a case of tucking in, ducking down and concentrating on turning the gears. The wind was against me too, so the 17.5mph average was extremely good work.

Once in the woods though, the bike came alive again, and all was forgiven. The singletrack was twisty and demanding like always, and my nerves aren’t as strong as they have been following my face plant last week. Also, the race king tyres met their limits on some of the more polished compacted gravel sections, where the small knobs of the profile couldn’t get traction and the front end was a ‘little’ wishy washy.

50km on a school night is a good effort in my lardy arsed opinion.

Thanks to Trevor for bringing me home too.

Update

It doesn’t take long for the blog to become neglected. It isn’t intentional, more that other things take priority. Should I write the blog, or use my free hour to ride a bike?

The weekend was interesting. The Pretty One works for the BBC and her entire department is relocating to Manchester. To sell this to it’s staff they invited them, and their partners for an introduction to Manchester. As it is, we know people there, so we made a weekend out of it. My feelings are mixed. Mostly for work I need a good international airport, which Manc has, although it doesn’t cover the 290 destinations than Heathrow currently offers. What it does offer is the Peak District National Park about 20 mins drive. This is an awesome prospect for me, with none of the problems for riding that a close proximity to London brings. The city itself is also nice. I am not from the South East, and haven’t inheritted the blinkered view that sometimes is associated with that. Chances are, I am off in the next couple of years to the some of the best cycling in the country.

We went walking in the peaks. I have included pictures.