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, 24 August 2011

I Want It Wednesday #2 - Cannondale Liquigas Team Bike

Mmmmm lots of lovely bike kit out there!!!  There were lots of things I've come across that I could have used for this Wednesdays 'Want'.  However, I fallen in love with an entire bike this time!!  I love Cannondale road bikes......erm and mountain bikes.  I used to own one and swear that I'll go back to them again one day.  Bikes of beauty that ride really well.  Shame I can't afford one right now, particularly this really lush team Liquigas edition one.  Price: Lots. Just assume lots........I won't be owning it any time soon. Or ever!!

Well for this want it Wednesday I've been joined by Paul who has also posted up his 'want'.  You can see it on his blog site on http://www.ilovemybrookssaddle.blogspot.com/.

If you too would like to join in then its very simple.  Just go to my page tab that says 'Want It Wednesday', and follow the instructions.  The idea is that you will gain traffic to your blog, get to see other peoples blogs and hopefully gain more followers which can't be a bad thing.  I know people who do this kind of thing and have a very popular blogs for it.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Crank Brothers Eggbeater 1 2011 - Preview

I'm going to call this more of a preview than a review as I've not had enough testing time on these pedals to see if they have the same issues that previous years models have had.

However, I will say that I am an Eggbeater fan. Despite its bearing faults.  Its had a lot of stick over the years despite receiving rave reviews when it first came out.  I was one of those that jumped onto the bandwagon and bought myself a pair many years ago.
Now I've used a few different pedals over the years such as Shimano, Wellgo, and Ritchey, but its the eggbeaters that I've ended up sticking with. I even have a set on my road bike.  I appreciate these aren't for everyone.  In fact they are a bit of a Marmite issue, some loving them others hating them.  Bike forums are full of praise and disappointment for them.

Lets start with what makes them so good.  Mud clearance is the most obvious part.  These have never let me down no matter how gloppy, claggy the mud. You stamp down and the mud just pushes through, which is great for pedal and go action.  No other Pedal I've used has been so effective.  I also like the four sided entry on these pedals making engagement easy.  They seem to roll nicely into the cleat position and once in they hold onto you firmly but allow for a great float (which can be set to 15 or 20 degrees) which is great for dodgy knees.  They also don't have any tightness adjusters meaning the tension doesn't slacken and I'm yet to do a comical or sometimes dangerous Can-Can moment when climbing up hills.  This inspires me with more confidence to 'drag' my foot as well as push.  I like the fact that these pedals are slightly wider than some giving you a better stance on the pedals and stop your heels rubbing on the cranks.  For the weight weenies they also only weigh 256grams for the pair so are lighter than many similar priced models

On the negative side, I do remember them taking more time to get used to.  It is like re learning how to use clipless pedals with these.  I'll just say give them time like you first did.  Within a few months this will pass.  However, they don't have that lovely click or positive clunk that you get when entering them, which can lead you to question whether you have got in.  I've ended up stamping harder just to hear the slight engagement click.  Its not a major gripe but Shimano do this well and it a positive reassuring sound.  Exiting these pedals is also a bit squirmy.  Its soundless and just has little in the way of 'feel'. It is something you get used to.  Another point that I know others have had is that the foot rests on the bars can make them uncomfortable over long rides if you use more casual shoes.  These require a stiff sole to take that discomfort away but will also add more difficulty in getting into them.  Some have also reported that the bars from the pedals will wear down the shoes plate and that the cleats themselves are like marshmallows and wear down fast.  I've never had these problems. 

The eggbeater 11 shares it's titanium spindle with candy 11; the new spindle is 2mm shorter than the old standard axle, but 2mm longer than the old short spindle.: At only £40 these are great value.  The Eggbeater 2 and 3 are more expensive and I'm not sure if the prices for them are justified.  They are heavier for some reason the only thing I can see to be different is you can set them further away or closer to the crank by removing a collar on the spindle shaft.  But to do this you need to take them apart.  Oh and they look a bit prettier with the anodised bits but I bet they look even more scruffy in the months to come than mine will.  If your feeling flush you could always buy the Titanium Eggbeater 11s which retail at £345 and weigh only about 170 grams!

If the bearings hold up with these then I shall be more than happy and I'll let you know if they go pear shaped.  On the plus side, spares are readily available so when they wear you can get them back up to scratch again.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sky Team Kit and Hairy Legs

Well as I already mentioned in my last post, I am now sporting the Sky Team kit on my bike rides. I can go out and imagine being Bradley Wiggins!! I like the kit, and I suppose being British its seems patriotic enough, British team with some great British riders. Well I have to bleat. It's about time we had some success. Least unlike the Linda Mcartney it has actually been a success. Anyhow here is a very sexy/ugly/cheesy (delete as applicable) picture of me.

The top I'm happy with but the shorts are causing me some issues.  Anything that's tight and hugs a mans figures are never particularly flattering, there's a fine line between looking like an athlete and looking like a gimp.  I probably........no I don't have a great figure, but at least I'm not over weight with squashed rolls of fat poking out of areas of the bibbed shorts where they aren't supposed to.  To be honest, Lycra shorts are practical, and I've worn them for years.  MTBers these days wear baggy shorts to hide there modesty, as I do now but still get awkwardly snagged on the saddle at odd and inappropriate moments.

I'm digressing. Issues with the shorts. How do I put it politely without shocking you dear reader and causing nausea.  Not sure but this short unlike any other I've owned are a bit grabby around the genital areas and really don't seem to hide much.  Often shorts have padding so hide things a little bit at least.  These have less a padding and a sort of flexible material..........I hope you haven't run away. I just better not stand around public toilets in them.  I wouldn't mind but they are also the least comfortable I've owned too.  Adidas you have a lot to answer for.

Talking of looking right in shorts I still get asked why I shave my legs.  Its like doing so I strip myself of my manhood.  I am no longer a gorilla type alpha male. Then follow the questions of why I shave my legs.  I think over time I've given every excuse under the sun and I've heard other cyclist give just a rubbish reason too. It makes you more aerodynamic (this coming from a MTBer?, with legs covered in mud). Its nice when you put trousers on afterwards (strange kinky fetish is only a step away from putting your leather outfit and asking to be whipped). It better for cuts and wounds and massage (if you have a pro masseurs yes.....but I bet you don't). My lame excuse is the mud washes of easier and when your legs get wet they dry quicker.  But really people it boils down to vanity.  Come on. Admit it.  You shave your legs because hairy legs and tight Lycra look odd.  Your legs just look much more defined without all that hair and lastly they tan better.  So lets say sod it with the excuses and next time you're ask why do you shave your legs, answer with pride.  It makes them look more awesome!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Back Out On The Roadie

Well I got out on my roadie today which felt great. For the last year I've not been very in love with being out on the road. My rediscovered of the mtb, love of being technically tested has pulled from the dark side and back to my routes. My skinny wheeled machine has only been used on the same bland route to work and back.

Not sure what gave me the urge to go out, maybe it was the purchase of my lovely new Sky Team kit, or maybe it's just that we've had so much rain recently I couldn't be chewed with a muddy ride.

Anyway it turned out to be a good ride. Id grumbled on Facebook about my legs feeling like anvils on my ride to work, basically feeling heavy and tired with no power. Come today (Sunday), I felt like a different rider. A machine, a train my legs like pistons. I've not trained all year and my riding has been sparse. So I was surprised to find that my route time to be comparable to last year.......when I WAS training.

This kind of got me thinking. I spent all winter, spring, summer riding doing intervals, racing etc and I could still only produce a time that was marginally better than today. What is with that? Maybe I just am training totally wrong?! My legs are usually a good guide to my fitness. They take on this trim square edged and toned look when I'm fit and flabby when not. They look toned. Surely me taking up running can't be the reason for this change?

Think the real tell will be when I'm out with friends. Trip to Glentress hopefully loomin. That'll be a good test for the legs :)
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Friday, 12 August 2011

News From The Week

Well I thought I'd see what was happening out there in the cycling world and what news I can report on.  First up is the start of the Vuelta e Espana, one of the three big grand tours of the year starts next Saturday.  I'm not sure I share the same excitement with this tour as say the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France but, if its on my TV I shall be watching whenever I can.  If not, I'll probably just wait till cycling weekly come out and read on it then.  I thought that instead of me telling you about this race, I'd guide you to Lizzies Blog page, who writes up on the happenings of these races.  She seems more informed on these thing than myself, I know too little about this tour.  Anyway click here to read more.

For the Mark Cavenndish fans out there, its bad news I'm afraid as Mark Renshaw, Cavs main lead out man is off to join the orange and blue ranks of Rabobank.  This is mainly in order to be given the chance at winning stages for himself and gain the glory for once.  Can't blame the guy really, he may have been crucial to the HTC outfit but when people look back through the record books its only winners that counted.  On a negative point this is not such good thing for our Cav.  Renshaw is such an excellent lead out man that he'll be hard to replace and is no doubt a big reason for Cavendishs' victories.  With the collapse of HTC, we still await the news of where Mark Cavendish will actually go.  Large speculation is he will go to Sky.  Seems logical as he is British and its a British team.  But who will lead him.......I just can't see it working somehow.

Further moving news is Thor Husvovd is going to BMC.  This seems like an interesting move but already there is some grumbles from the camp as this is Cadel Evans team and apparently he is not prepared to share the leadership with a sprinter.  The news here is that despite Thors great ride in this years Tour de France he will possible not race in it next year.  He will be there to boost victories in the classics instead. Odd.  But I feel this also won't work. Am I becoming a bit negative here?

Oh, on a lighter note its good to see Jan Ulrich back.  Well OK not in a pro racing capacity but in a more down to earth Sportive event.  He'd apparently signed on with a different name "Max Kraft" (Max Power), not sure of what reception he'd get.  His shoulder got tired from all the taps he got and handshakes!  Bless.  All is forgiven Jan.......you blood doping cheat.  Well who wasn't then? Good to see you are over your 'burnout symdrome' big man.  Now there's an excuse I might have to try out for work one day......

Mountain Bike racing always seems to go under the radar a bit.  But the European MTB championships took place last week.  That super lady Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa won her fifth title.  Hasn't she been around for a long time now?  She's still totally awesome......and to prove a point shes a mum too.  Where the hell does she find the time to train.  Much respect.  In the men's race Julian Absalon was pipped to the post by Czech rider, Jaroslav Kulhavy.  I'm starting to think that the domination that has been Absalons rule is finally coming to an end.  Although it looks like he can't be written off just yet!

That's all the news from me for the time being.  Happy Riding Bloggers


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Bike Bling Wednesday!

I want, I want, I want.............

Bikers can be a dreamy bunch.  I don't know many who have not wish listed their bike together from a plethora of gorgeous and either ridiculously expensive or rare bits of kit.  This doesn't stop at bike parts either but bikes themselves and clothes, helmets and shoes etc.

I suppose unless you are earning an exceptional wage packet there is always that little something we all would like to own.  Some are lucky to own stuff I could only wish to have and sometimes people look at my bike and think the same thing!  These bits of bike bling probably aren't necessary in life but they just look so lovely and shiny we just want them, whether they be the latest carbon tech, the ultimate weight weenies wet dream or anodized to death that you just want to frame it.

Anyway I was thinking of starting a linkie part called Bike Bling Wednesday and allow bloggers to also take part.  For those not in the know, a linkie party is something you can opt to take part in, on every other Wednesday the idea will be to show off your dream bit of bike.  Why bother?  Well the idea is that on linkie party people can see who else takes part and give an easy link to your blog to see what you have written.  It helps divert traffic to your blog, helps people actually know about you which can be hard as many are drowned out by the thousands of blogs out there.

Well today my bit of bike bling is this:
This a Tune Skyline Mag 150 Rear Hub (Tuned): Weight 156grams!  Price:£425.99!
http://www.poshbikes.com/ for further details

Right so if you want to take part then go to the top of the page and look for the tab Want It Wednesday, click on it and fill out the Linky Wizard.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Lance Armstrong - Its Just What I Think

Well I knew it wouldn't be long till I found myself talking about bike books and their writers.  Well I am a librarian so its in my nature I guess.  There are lots of books out there whether fiction, Journeys, Training, biography's etc.  Today I'm going to pick on just one book.  Lance Armstrongs - It's Not About The Bike.  I read it a while ago now at the mid point in Lances Tour de France winning flurry.  Let me make one thing clear, this is not a book review.  I'm sure you can find plenty of those for yourself on the Internet.......or read it yourself perhaps?!  You may already have.  Did you like it?  Good for you. 

Let me back track a bit here.  When I started watching the tour with regular necessity Lance Armstrong was the man of the moment.  The man who'd been on the brink of death from cancer and who's prowess on a bike was like no other.  His domination in the mountains against the best climbers and his nearest rivals was just so impressive to watch.  I think many fans will all hold that image of him eyeballing Jan Ulrick before pedalling off into the distance.  He appeared immortal, unstoppable.  It was like a fairy tale.  He became an instant hero to millions including even non cycling fans.  Me included.  What was there not to like about such an excellent bike rider.

The book Its not about a bike was a welcome present and I was keen to learn more about this hero figure.  The book itself is as the title suggests not about his riding but talks about his discovery and battle with cancer and his eventual win of his first tour.

It was the first book I'd stopped reading half way through.

By all rights I should have absorbed this and read it in a matter of days like I have other cycling books since.  However, I just didn't.  It's not that this is bad book.  By all means his fight is impressive  inspirational even.  Its because something in me stirred (no I didn't need the toilet) I had grown to actually dislike Lance.  At the time saying that out loud amongst cyclists I feared some kind of mad persecution......crucifixion even.  Seriously though, he just came across so arrogant, forceful, aggressive.  It was his way, selfless in his battle and determined to get his own way at all costs.  What an arse.  This is the kind of person in real life I would just avoid and not want to be around.  OK, this is probably what it takes to get over cancer or become a champion.  But this type of person could no longer be a hero to me.

I have ever since been an Armstrong cynic.  I don't care whether or not he took drugs or if others think he did.  Even if he did, he still beat others behind him who were also taking stuff so it would have been a fairly level playing field.  It's his aggressive nature and take no prisoner attitude that grate.  Take his unnecessary chase down of Filippo Simeoni on stage 18 of 2004 Tour de France.  He didn't have to chase down this group attack but purely did because Filippo had spoken out against Michele Ferrari in an allegation to do with drugs and Lances association with him.  Armstrong later said he did it with the approval of the peleton for speaking out. A peleton no doubt to afraid to speak out in case of receiving similar treatment.  Armstrongs hold on the Peleton was strong and he took no crap from anyone.  To get a taste of this type of pelton, Jeremy Whittle in his book Bad Blood (a really good read) talks about the last stage of this 2004 tour.  Filippo not happy attacks early in the race whilst The Jersey leaders are supping champagne. (odd I know)  Lance has to throw his away to get his team to chase down this attack.  Filippo is eventually caught but is given bad treatment even by his Italian team mates, he is shouted and abused at and eventually comes over the lines spit from other riders covering his body.  Grim.

I like Simeonis saddle he used to have.  A picture of Lances face on it so he could shove his arse on it when he went riding.  I liked to think he still rides that saddle.

So there you go I don't like Lance.  Its not hate.  He's an amazing rider. Period. I'd just liked to see him brought down a level.  Part of me would like to see him loose his upcoming trial.  Be found guilty of drug taking and stripped of his Jerseys.  That might bring him back to earth.  Would help if those bloody Lanceophiles would stop putting him on a pedestal.  (read his twitter and facebook pages) Seriously guys get out of the texans arse.

Lets find real heros of the pelton.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

3Sixty Bicycle Stunt Team

OK today I thought I'd touch up a very different wing of the cycling sport. It's one of those pushed a-side 'are they really associated with us bunch of cyclists'. Trails Riders. Dum dum durrrrr.

Yes them. I'm not sure why the sport is not more popular as what these guys can do, if done by the right people, is nothing short of amazing. Hands up who have seen these guys at demo events. They are the ones on silly geared, saddle-less bikes hopping from object to object on their back wheel and usually up a height. Ring any bells? I've come to the conclusion its probably more to with it not being as aerobically athletic, or an Olympic sport. Yet I know it has other qualities such total skill, balance and incredible upper body strength.

Anyway I'd like to talk about one particular trials group and a few of its members.  3Sixty Bicycle Stunt team is still a relatively young team out there but has been doing many demos the length and breadth of the country.  When I say young I mean the team concept......not its members they are ageing even if they may deny it!  I'm picking on this particular team as I can say quite proudly that I know three of its members, two of them quite well having worked with them at Halfords for a number of years.  Ian Drummond, Craig Lambton, and Brett Penfold.  Ian I didn't really get to work with much apart from one busy Christmas period where he was building up the many bikes that customers wanted assembled.  The only thing that sticks in my mind is presenting a customer his bike that has been built by Ian.  Now from a customers point of view you'd expect the bike to be safe and rideable. Not a few metres of walking down the shop floor for the pedal to fall off with a rather disconcerting thump to the floor.  The customer was luckily very understanding as an embarrassed me made many apologies before whisking it away to double check its safety.  Ian hadn't apparently finished it and had been side tracked whilst putting the pedal in.  Still, I saw the funny side eventually although I swore if he left his bike near me for to long his pedal might also be a bit 'loose'!

Craig....aka Lamby.  A guy I got to know quite well.  Hes always been so down to earth, relaxed and above all totally modest.  I never even had clue how good he was on a bike for quite sometime until he back wheel hopped of a large storage container.  If I could do things like that, EVERYONE WOULD KNOW!  Hes just such a gifted bike rider.  Crap poker player.  But I tried my best to teach him during boring late night shifts in the shop.  I think if Lamby were to remember something about me it would be our only trip out together
to Hamsterley forest with other members from work.  On that day I crashed badly and broke and dislocated both my elbows and had to be rushed off to hospital.  He's never been in a rush to go out riding with me again!
 Brett was really only there on weekend work.  Also a very laid back guy, his modesty of how skillful he is was also admirable.  Ever the style man, his hair always groomed he was certainly one for the ladies.  He is of the riders the master of bunny hopping.  I was never sure if he held the record for the highest standing hop but seeing him do one is something most of us could only dream of doing.  I'm happy just to get my bike an inch off the ground!

Good trials riders are a rarer breed than say road racers or mountain bike warriors.  This can purely be only because it is so hard to be so good.  I've left this video of the guys below which shows off this skill I'm talking about.  A lot of it is of the three guys pre event, practising lines.  Check it out and if you'd like further information and future events then please look at their website which is http://www.3sixty.me.uk/


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