XC Mountainbiking

XC Mountainbiking

Spring Time On The Home Trail

Birdsong, Sun breaking through the trees, and the leaves growing again. Spring. My favourtie time of year.

Singlespeed racing

Breathing hard. My face hides how much I love racing even on one gear!

Downhill Mountainbiking

Downhill Mountainbiking

Tour de France

Sunflowers on the Tour

XC Racing

World Cup Racing where the best fight it out over some of the most demanding terrain


Taking the sport to extremes

No matter what or how you ride, enjoy the trails out there.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Want It Wednesday #9 - Hope R4 Lights

This week I have been doing a bit of research into what decent off road lights there are on the market.  My first reaction is that there are some awesomely powerful, over 2000 lumen's, light sets that you could get.  My second reaction is to the prices of them.  Seriously, I've seen them escalate to up to £850.  Granted they give you stadium light brightness but then I begin to wonder whether they are defeating the point of fun off road riding.  Why make night into day with mad lights?

Now most people buy their lights to extend their rides or to be able to go out on a winter.  However, I have started to look at them for a different reason. In a phrase, '24 hour racing'.  I've competed in 24 hour races in the past with team mates and have enjoyed, suffered, hated and loved the experience.  Whatever my emotions the one thing is it is something I probably won't forget and experiences like that in life are always worth doing.

The difference this time is that I want to for fill an ambition.  I want to do one SOLO.  Yep, this is usually reserved for the insane but its popularity is growing.  Even if I only get to do one, then at least then I can say I've done it, or given it my best shot.  So plans are in place and I'll talk more about that in future posts.

For now my Want It Wednesday has been between two lights.  The Hope R4 and Exposer Toro Mk3.  The Exposure is a great light and I love the fact there is no battery pack for it and with 975 lumens is a powerful enough light.  However I have picked out the Hope R4 instead.

The Hope R4 belts out 1000 lumens set on max and will last up to 2 hours 45 minutes, but there are options to run this lower so preserving the battery life for a few hours more.  The endurance set that I've looked at also comes with two batteries so one can be used when the other runs out and put on charge.  I also like the versatility of this light in that it comes with a decent handlebar clamp, helmet clamp and also a head harness (which would be useful for my trail running). The two Li-ion batteries endurance pack comes in at £295 although I've seen it cheaper.

What are your wants for this week?

To join in then please go to my tab page marked Want It Wednesday and follow the instructions to join in, and also be able to see who else is taking part in the party!

Those that have written their wants this week and you can read are Paul

Monday, 14 November 2011

Do You Actually Have A Driving Licence?!?!?!

On my blog I write a great deal on my mountain bike rides, equipment and professional road racing.  Yet what I spend most of my actual riding time doing is commuting on my road bike. 
I have commuted for many years in various places, including the busy city of Birmingham, congested roads of County Surrey and my home town area of Durham.  My routes have often varied between four to ten miles one way, so are never over taxing on the legs, but I have never in all my time been allowed to forget the danger that I put myself in.

A few years ago my luck finally ran out and I was involved in my first proper collision.  It was an early October morning it was a clear day and the light conditions were good.  I was on my usual run out of my town, a route I had taken many times before, and I suppose ride automatically without much thought.  I was on a straight road when I noticed a blue little Nissan Micra pull upto the T-junction that led onto the road I was on.  His intention was to turn left, and so by head in the same direction as I was (we drive on the left hand side of the road remember my foreign readers!).  The junction was open and clear and I'd spotted him early on.  In most circumstances I will eyeball a driver in this situation to ensure I have an idea of whether they have seen me or are really looking out properly.  I know this time I didn't, I stupidly trusted that the driver will have seen me easily.

As I came to pass this junction he pulled out.  I got a big image of blue car on my left hand side and was doing my best to move aside to the right hand side to avoid hitting him.  The car struck me from the side sending me crashing from my bike and onto the other side of the road.  I was lucky that the road was restricted to 30mph so the cars heading toward my prone body were able to react and slow accordingly.  Although I'd hit the ground hard I wasn't badly hurt, I got up fast acutely aware of being in a dangerous position.  As I did so the car that had knocked me over was reving its engine but not going anywhere fast because my bike was wedged under its front wheel.  He finally stopped the car so I could retrieve my bike, and limp to the safety of the side of the road.

He checked whether I was alright, apologising saying he was in a rush to pick up his daughter. (he never once left his car).  He said he'd pay for any damage, and when I told him where I worked and to see me there (where I was going) he drove off.  Obviously this was stupid.  I should have done many things, like call the police to the scene.  Asked for insurance details etc.  I was just totally shaken up and not thinking clearly.  The only saving grace was a he drove off I took his number plate details and instantly put them in my phone.

Apart from a sore hand and grazes to my hips and elbow I was in one piece and nothing broken but my bike was a mess.  The bars were twisted and the wheel crushed and twisted beyond repair.  I wasn't riding to work that day!  I limped home, got in and (being totally emotional) cried. 

That incident was resolved in court and my bike was replaced but mentally it scarred me.  It was another six months before I even touched my bikes.  I was even ready to sell them, and convinced I was ready to give up cycling for good.  Even when I got back on my bike every time a car pulled up to a junction I'd get flash backs.  I was a nervous wreck on the roads.

As you may have guessed, I continue to ride my bike and didn't give up.  Even though my confidence is back I still come across totall idiots on the road.  Only the other day on the return from work I was subject to stupid driving.  Coming up to a roundabout I was at the junction ready and waiting to go straight ahead.  A car came on my right with indicators on to turn left.  Did she wait?  Nope she pulled away at the same time as me and was in full intent to still turn left and go across me.  Realising her intent to do this dangerous manouver I backed off, waiting until she had gone past.  I was furious.  How senseless do you have to be to pull a stunt like that?

As a rider I have always been defensive.  I ride a good metre from the curb, hold position in the road when over taking cars and approaching right hand turns.  I always, always assume that drivers are idiots and can't see me, and so never try to dominate the road and ride recklessly.  At the end of the day in a collision I know who will loose.

Talking of safety for bikers, it was good to see that the Tour Du Danger went well in London.  This was a ride across London visiting ten of the most dangerous junctions (black spots).  Word had spread and hundreds of cyclists turned up to support the ride.  Over 15 cyclists in London have been killed  this year so far, and with a large amount of cyclist using the road there and terrible road layouts which still favour the motor vehicles this will continue to rise.  I hope this sort of action will lead to some forward development not just in London but the country over.  You can see the report here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Want It Wednesday #8 - Niner Jet RDO

Want It Wednesday Party Time!!!

Firstly, although this maybe a 29 inch bike it doesn't mean I'm sold on the concept of 29ers just yet.  But when I was looking through the Niner website, I have to admit falling in love with this beautiful bike. A Niner Jet RDO. Well I say beautiful, its looks to have thrown some mixed opinions with some saying its ugly.  Not sure how they think that as its not a million miles away from many other full suspension designs

Niner Jet 9 Carbon Tango

Orange Jet 9 Carbon CVA LinkageNiner Jet 9 Carbon HeadtubeVana White Jet 9 Carbon CVA LinkageNiner Jet 9 Carbon RockerNiner Jet 9 Carbon SeatstayOrange Jet 9 Carbon Frame Detail

what makes this bike stand out for me is not the fact its carbon or the fact its (fairly) lightweight but more the attention to detail thats gone into the bike.  Its things like the titanium chain guards that rest on the chain stay and bottom bracket area to protect the frame if the chain falls off.  The internal cable routing, meaning there is no need for ugly lugs.  The suspension rocker is stamped with the Niner badge, and the red anodized pivot points  Its small stuff, buts attention to detail you don't get with big brand bikes that are churned out by the cart load.

I've often liked the smaller brand names over large companies such as Trek and Giant.  You're guaranteed not to see many on the trails, and rare bikes often attract conversation amongst fellow trail users. I'm not in anyway saying I want people to be jealous of what I'm riding, the bike I ride now you won't see many of yet cost more than most.  Its just more unique and people notice these things.  Its often a case of 'what's that?'

I've got to say the Niner range in general look really good, from hard tails and single speeds, and judging from reviews they ride well too.  Granted the Jet at over a couple of thousand dollars or pounds for the frame alone means its out of my price range, yet I could easily be turned by such lovely bikes and be eventually seen on a 29er yet!!

If you want to see the range then just click here to link to their website

You can also see other Want It Wednesdays from Paul here
and new to the party Syl here

You too could join in, the more that take part the better it becomes.  To do so just go to the tab with 'Want It Wednesdy' and follow the instructions.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fox Racing Shox - Smart Pump Concept

The qr code on a fox f32 series fork:
Image from www.bikeradar.com

I like new technology when it comes to bikes.  Granted I've grumbled at certain things (my latest being 29 inch wheels). I truthfully never really liked full suspension when it first came out, but then it was totally pants at the time and as designs became better I liked it more.  I'll probably like 29ers soon too.......

Some of you who read around may already be aware of this new tech but I thought I'd share it on my blog. This is a concept idea from Fox Racing Shox, which they were showing off at the 2011 Interbike. The Smart Pump.  Rather than trying to explain it all in detail, and probably making a hash of it I thought I'd show you a video demonstration of it instead.

This is obviously not a released product yet but if this is the future it would be great.  Ok granted it may not be useful for the average rider, that is yet to be seen.  But this could be used in bike shops to help get riders set on their bikes before leaving the shop.  Having worked for many years in a bike shop, this idea seems sound to me.  Nothing looks more professional when selling an expensive bike than having it set up right and helping a customer get the right fit and suspension set up.  It could be used for mechanics for race teams setting up bikes for particular riders for particular courses.  If it were to be affordable for the general biking public then we can rejoice too as most of the guess work will be taken out of ensuring our shocks are set up if we race or ride.  I can see this being particularly handy for downhillers or even cross country racers.

Fox's concept IRD Smart Pump
Image from www.bikeradar.com
Perhaps this is too much tech for some, but at the end of the day its not crucial.  You won't be left feeling that you ought to have to buy it because everyone else is.  I thinks its a great technical solution using new mobile phone tech.  Reassuringly its not just for IPhone users but works for Android too and so a great majority of smart phones.

The only problem is this may never get released.  Or if it does it'll probably still be some time.

See.  I'm not that much of a technophobe!