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.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Names On Frames - Personalised Decals Review

There is a trend increasing within the cycling world to make what you ride and what you wear more unique than ever.  More options than ever are open to us the cyclist.  Recently, I got some home designed cycle jerseys and I also talked in my Want It Wednesday about your own coloured saddle from Charge.  No you can design your own helmet or even get shoes made in special colour as well.

All great stuff, but a couple of weeks ago I came across this little gem from Names On Frames on twitter.  I've often loved looking at Pro cyclists bikes and loved knowing which is there bike parked up by the team bus.  The little name tag on the frame giving away who they are and in my soul I've harboured a little desire to have something similar.  I've always meant to find a company that would help me achieve this little dream without being stupidly priced.  Names On Frames, @NamesOnFrames just fits the bill perfectly and they are so easy to use.

Via their website you just fill in the drop down boxes with the kind of flag, script and colouring you want and your done.  Very easy.  Prices start from a happy on your wallet £5.95 for four stickers.

So to the review itself, and over all I am very happy with the services of Name On Frames.  Granted there was a technical hic-cup and my details of what I wanted hadn't work right for some reason or other either on my behalf or theirs.  However, I was contacted swiftly by David via E-Mail and when I didn't respond straight away he even tried me on Twitter too which in my mind is great customer service.  Once everything was ironed out the stickers came in the post within a few days so the wait really isn't long either.

The stickers are of good quality and easy to apply and have found a happy home on my helmet and frame.  Being white, they obviously don't stand out on my frame but all my decals are white as I'm after a subtle look.  Obviously others may want to purchase theirs in black script.  Still, you can see the stickers better on my helmet in the image below.

Overall, I would happily use Name On Frames again and if you want something similar then I see no reason to look elsewhere.

Subtle in White but goes well with the rest of my Decals

Feeling like a Pro

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Planning for the 2013 season - Keider 100, Three Peaks and C2C

My original plans of doing the UK 24hr solo championships were sadly put to a halt this year when I discovered that the venue had been moved from its usual hilly all weather surface to something quite the oposite.  It had been moved I think to make it more accessable for a larger number of riders and so increase the entries but sadly it is now a 7 hour trip and one I'm not willing to make.

So I've had to do a bit of head scratching.  It seems that endurance races in my part of the country are getting rarer.  I thought therefore that I would have to spend my season just doing short xc races instead.  No bad thing but anything over an hour and I struggle to make any impact no matter how much training I fit in.  I have however found something!  The Kielder 100 is a race I dismissed as being beyond my capabilities, but then I thought the same of a 24hr race so after a bit of reading I decided that it would be my main target for the year.  As a bonus it is held in September so my training for it wouldn't start till late winter (I hate training through the winter!)  This means I can still do bits of xc racing to keep up my speed and motivation.

The Kielder 100 is one tough race. The 100 stands for its distance in MILES, with about 14,000ft of climbing.  As its a race there are check points along the massive one lap course with cut off times.  If you don't make it in time your race is over.  Basically, it works out you have to keep over an 8mph average!  I'll be doing it on my rigid singlespeed........just because I can and they a proper SS category.

Anyway here is a video from the winners point of view during last years race.

There is also another race I am interested in doing and that is the Three Peaks Cyclo Cross race which is 38miles with 5,000ft of climbing and labelled as the worlds toughest CX race.  It is about two weeks after the Kielder 100 so I'm still not sure and places are limited so it may have to be a target for another year. That and I need a CX bike!  It looks hard, grim, challenging and fantastic all rolled into one.  Perfect.  Couples of videos below to whet the appetite.

Hopefully in preparation for these events I will also be finally getting my act together and doing the Coast to Coast which isn't a race but more a challenge.  Its a 150 mile ride taking in some tough road climbs of the lake district and pennines.  Some people take about 3 - 5 days to do it but it is possible to do it in one day and that will be my target.
So there we go.  I'll get some prep training in January started which will include some good cross training like trail running and weights, then time on the bike from February.  It's going to be a fab year if all goes to plan!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Want It Wednesday - Custom Charge Spoon Saddle

Came across this 'Want' last night.  I'm going to be buying a new saddle for my new mtb and was looking at buying this rather lovely one here.

However, is that good enough for my my WIW? No, I don't think so either.  So how about if you could have it custom coloured? Well now you can, because after a couple of years of rumour the lovely people of Charge now have a designated personalised saddle service allowing you to choose the colour of the cover, underside, bumpers, logo and stitching! You can have a go here
So is that a bit more exciting? I think so but obviously this bumps up the price quite a bit more and starts to put it out of my range a bit.  A normal saddle costs about £25 ($40) but a custom will cost from £70 ($112) which is a hefty jump!
There are some other people who also like to take part in Want It Wednesday and you can see them in the link.  Here you can see how to take part and see what others have been talking about.  So why not give it a go.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Eclipse Cycling Custom Made Cycle Clothing - Review

Recently I formed a group on facebook called North East Single Speed.  It's aim was to get together a group of like minded individuals to share thoughts, go on rides and socialise.  I know in the group there are some who will just do casual rides but then there are those like myself who would like to race.  On a trip to one such race I was travelling with a friend and we were discussing how cool it would be to have our own team kit so that we would be recognised at races and group meetings.  I explained that I'd already had a quick look and even had ideas for the design but sadly most of the companies would only allow you to order in bulk and we'd have to have more willing buyers before it could be considered.

However, after a little search I came across this company Eclipse Cycling.  The company, still very young and based in China, struck me for two reasons.  There is NO MINIMUM orders on anything you design and the clothing wasn't expensive.  I did some research and found only a small amount of information but there was enough out there to make me think that they could be trusted.  As there wasn't a load of cost involved I took the gamble and I thought I'd share my experiences with you.

On the website you go to their design software where you are given a number of pre set stencils which with a large range of colours gives you the scope to create something quite unique and stylish.  They have a showcase of some of there designs but really a little imagination is needed and you can produce some great looking tops.  I had already made designs on Photoshop for the jerseys logos on the front and the back which the software allow you to use on the jerseys and shorts.  Overall, the process of design is easy to use and quite fun so have a play around but bear in mind you can't save these unless you submit them to the company, but more on that in a bit. What I will say before you submit the design is don't rush it.  Get it as good and as close to your finished design as you can as it will save further complications in the future.  This is what I created:

Once you have submitted a 'ticket' then the real process begins.  You will then receive an email with a message from Eclipse and that will show you the image of your design. You can now, for the first time save the image and use it to show friends if you like, you have not yet committed to buying. I was contacted by Annie Lee, others have dealt with Max, but from my experience you keep in contact with the same person throughout the process.  You are now given the chance to finalise the product or make any changes, of which you are given three chances.

This is in my opinion where things got tricky and at times long winded.  Obviously here in the UK time zones mean that Emails to China would be slow and I'd often have to wait till the next morning to have any information from them. At first this was fine.  I made a small change to where I wanted the writing and that was done promptly and with no problems. However, I had grown a little impatient over a design on the long jersey whereby I wanted the sleeves done a certain way.  I explained as best I could but each time it was not done, sometimes with the design it went back to the original look that I'd already said was wrong.  Basically, although their written English is good, some things are lost in translation. You can see examples of their English on the website and grammar can let them down and not give a very professional impression.  In the end I took the image and saved it and manipulated it in photoshop to show what I wanted.  My advise stands as before, if you want it to look right and save a long process and explanation, try and get it as good as near finished first time.

With the design confirmed you are given a list of prices.  The prices are excellent.  You will find it hard to find normal tops that compare let alone ones with your own design.  Here is their list prices:

Short Sleeve Jersey $29.99
Wind Vest $37.99
Thermal Wind Vest $37.99
Long Sleeve Jersey $33.99
Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey $40.99
Regular Shorts $27.99
Bib Shorts $29.99
Pants $40.99
Thermal Pants $42.99
Bib Pants $42.99
Thermal Bib Pants $46.99
Arm Warmers $18
Thermal Arm Warmers $20

Short Sleeve Jersey + Regular Shorts $50
Short Sleeve Jersey + Bib Shorts $52
Long Sleeve Jersey + Pants Kits $65
Long Sleeve Jersey + Bib Pants Kits $70
Long Sleeve Jersey + Pants (Both Thermal) $70
Long Sleeve Jersey + Bib Pants Kits (Both Thermal) $78

There is on top of this postage to pay which is $12 if under $100 in total.

In UK currency it cost me £34 for a thermal jersey INCLUDING postage.  You will be informed about about how long the making and ordering process is expected to take.  Overall it takes about a month and you will be sent and Email when your item is shipped. The item can be tracked also but I found this was never updated and even now says processing! I know others who have said similar things. If you intend to want the jersey for an event or charity then I'd give the whole process at least two months from start to finish to avoid disappointment.

One more thing that bothers me about the current website is you can't see all the designs of others as you could previously. It also meant that I had to email again to get information on my design so others could also order. This in my mind needs to be addressed to make it easier for the consumer.

When my long sleeve thermal jersey came i couldn't have been more pleased. The jersey itself is made by Descente, and fitted just right. The sizing guide from experience is accurate and the top fitted the same as many of my other tops.  The actual jersey is much more like a training top, slightly loose on the chest allowing me to put it over my short sleeved jersey. I can confirm that after some cold weather here the top does a good job in adding warmth.  The top has also retained it colour and shape after a few washes. On a negative side, the print quality isn't 100%.  There is some 'ghosting' with parts of the logo and some of the red letters, but you'd have to be looking fairly close to really notice. There is, if you also look carefully at the back logo, a couple of small red spots that shouldn't be there  In fairness I suppose if you want Assos style gear with a unique well printed design be prepared to pay twice if not three times the amount and look elsewhere. The clothes at Eclipse, are good and allow you to have something unique for yourself or your team so on the whole I'd recommend them and will be placing further orders with them.  Below are some pictures of the final product.  Hope you like it as much as I do!