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Les Arcs MTB

Bad language

I have a foul mouth.

Yes, it’s a problem I admit it, and I guess I should feel some kind of remorse about it, but I just don’t so there you go.

So I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through all the footage (and OMG there is a lot) from the Gingerbread Tour 2018 looking for the slightly “rubbish” side of TFIT MTB.

Yes, it’s most definitely not all “sweeping left turns” or “berms of joy”. It’s quite “sweary”, mostly a bit rubbish but fundamentally it is deeply amusing.

So without further ado, I give you the annual “Outtakes Mashup” from this summer’s trip.

It is most definitely NOT safe for work! It is most definitely NOT appropriate for children!

Sorry Internet…

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Simples

As a man, I am unadshamedly happy when I get my hands on a new gadget, thingamajig, whotsit, doodger (call it what you will). In this case, and with a mind to being fully prepared for our Alpine trip (now less than 60 hours away) I decided to try and get hold of a set of master link pliers. We all know what a ball ache it can be, sat trailside trying to free up a stuck masterlink, either your own, or a comrade in need. I hate seeing grown men cry, and carrying tissues in the pack just isn’t practical.

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I had seen something that had caught my eye in one of the MTB magazines and with a little searching found a company called Bike School Asia which were selling the doodar above. I did have some trepidation when the PayPal confirmation was in Singapore Dollars, which equated to £11, and even more so when I recieved an email from Bike School Asia saying they would ‘let me know’ how much postage was going to be. I had no such qualms when a well written email from them said it was on it’s way and that there would be no charge for postage!

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It is truly simplicity itself, it’s a definite ‘Ronseal’ type of product. It feels sturdy, isn’t heavier than any other set of tyre levers, and at a push I recon you could eat your dinner with them.

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Come on England.

Transition Scout: 10 days and counting till it gets a bit Ginger

10 days to go. TEN days to go. Spank me with a haddock it’s only ten tiny days to go!

Ahem. Can you tell I’m a bit excited? Maybe.

Anyway, yes, next week the TFIT massive are off once again to the Alps for some concentrated shenanigans of the two-wheeled variety and I’m very pleased to report that my Transition Scout has been lovingly prepped, polished and fettled to within an inch of it’s life.

Aside from the Hope V4 brakes I fitted earlier this year (which I am massively loving), the latest pre-Alpine fettlage has been a bit left field but the first impressions are really good – it’s all gone a bit oval down in the Surrey Hills for me.

Yep, I’m trying out a 34 tooth oval AbsoluteBlack RaceFace chainring which is… is… well, it’s a total punt to be honest. As a potential upgrade, an oval chaining was about as far off my radar of “things to do to my bike” as it possible. I mean round is good. Round is normal. Round.. is round!

BUT, following on from a lengthy chat (we love a LBC) with Matt down at MB Cyclery as to the potential merits (and pitfalls to be fair) of an oval chainring, I’ve taken the plunge. I’m gonna give it a bit more time before I draw my absolute conclusion but I have to say – my overall impression so far is very positive. Does it feel weird? No. Do you notice the action? No (unless you look at it). Does it help you get a bit more power down? Well, yes, I think it does. The other benefit I guess it that I’ve gone up from a 32t to a 34t with no noticeable difference.

I’m also talking a set of 3 spokes per side per wheel for my Hope Techs this year. As per normal I’m hoping not to need them but previous form tells me that at some point over our trip I’ll have an argument with a “marble” or two and I want to be able to attempt a repair without having to bail and go find a bike shop.

Aside from that I’ve finally installed my now tyre related “weapons of choice”, namely Specialized Butcher and Purgatory Grids (thanks Andy T) front and back respectively. These are now my standard Alpine tyres of choice, being super grippy in the dust.

Oh yeah. AND I’ve been buying GoPro mounts. I and my bike are a one-man camera rig. Clearly this appeals to my inner narcissist but my logic is sound I promise. Come August I am determined not to be watching only endless “Chest-cam” and “rear helmet-cam” footage on a permanent loop.

So we now have:

  • Parrot Bebop 2 (new frame, repaired and ready to rock)
  • Chestcam (naturally)
  • Bell Super 2r Top Helmet Cam forwards and backwards
  • Bell Super 2r Side Helmet Cam
  • Ass Cam (courtesy of a kEdge seatr rail)
  • Big Bar / Fork Cam (with an oversized GoPro mount)
  • And, Narwhal cam. Or as I like to call it, “idiot who has zip tied a selfie stick to his helmet” cam.

Too soon to start packing? Nah, definitely not.

30 something

No, definitely not a reference to my age. No, that ship sailed well over a decade ago.

But it is definitely a reference to the 30 something days until we have wheels down in our two centre La Plagne / Les Arcs “Gingerbread Tour” 2018.

I’ve been (mostly) quiet on this year’s tour to date – guilty as charged. You can blame either GDPR or laziness, take your pick as both are to blame as excuses.

However I thought I should remedy that, put finger to keyboard and post a nugget of interweb goodness, because, well, just because I can!

Kudos to Thomas SOCQUET-CLERC for sharing the love including Shoshone, Blue Tomato and Redskins

Getting all gingery

One of the advantages of my job (computerery related shenanigans) is every now and then I get to play with a bit of software or service that is, well, a bit cool.

And so it was recently that I’ve been playing with Apple Motion, a “Final Cut Pro-esque” thing for creating effects (specifically motion graphics). Of course, when playing with said offering from Apple I immediately seized the opportunity and threw together a video based on last year’s Alpine adventure using a template from VideoHive.

Seeing as this is a blog about MTB I am no gonna review the software or service here – suffice to say if a buffoon like me can use it, anyone can.

However to mark less than 50 days until wheels down for the “Gingerbread Tour” I thought I’d post the video here.

 

Hope you like it

MTB brakes. Important? Yes. Something else that I was able to obsess about? You know it!

As with tyre choice (and indeed any other primary component choice I guess), getting it right is important at any point of the year but the warmer the days get and the drier the trails, the more getting your choice right can impact on your summer.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been been let down by my brake choice in the past but I also confess – I do like Shimano brakes.

I’ve had SLX and two different sets of XTs and these have always performed flawlessly in the Surrey Hills BUT have tended to put their tail between their legs and ran to mum when they saw their first Alp. This has now happened to me on my last three Alps visits.

I’ve dabbled with increased rotor sizes, swapped pad compound for the appropriate conditions and have become a dab hand at bleeding Shimano bakes.

I even tried braking less. That sort of worked but may have aged me by about a decade…!

And although all of these things have made small performance gains, not one Shimano set has ever made a full Alps trip or indeed, as happened recently, a full day at Bike Park Wales.

So this year I’ve vowed to do all I can to address this and have fitted, what the TFITers regard, as the de facto brake for all occasions.

Hope V4s.

These have been beautifully fitted by the guys down at MB Cycles in Haslemere and I’m pleased to report a brief test ride yesterday was as drama-less as it’s possible to be. I’m VERY pleased to report that the brakes did not throw me into the nearest tree when I looked at the levers and the response from squeezing the lever is not wooden, or harsh (two complaints I’ve heard previously).

Indeed if I had to pick a phrase to describe the Hope brakes, it would be “smooth, assured and insistent”. So take that internet – in your face.

Clearly with the trails being 89.7 pure Surrey slop with the rest made up of snow and dog bombs, this is not the time of year to gauge just how effective an upgrade this will be or indeed to try to understand what the advantages of floating rotors are versus standard ones.

However, so far I can say I am very happy with the Hopes. The proof will indeed be in the riding and we’ll see how these puppies handle La Plagne, Les Arcs and Tigne in the summer.

So I just can’t talk about it

Yeah. It’s true. I just can’t talk about it.

Despite the fact that I am in possession of some “hot off the press industry type spy shots” sent to me by a like minded sole which concern some genuinely innovative future mtb frame designs… I have promised I will not talk about it.

I just won’t…

*Sigh*

I ALSO cannot talk about the type of bike that the “individual who came by the above information” has recently acquired. Mostly cos that would sort of give the game away.

So I just can’t…

*Double Sigh*

And despite the fact this is the one and only genuine scoop I am ever likely to get in my life, a promise made to a mate is more important.

So moving on…

*Arse*

Anyway, to make myself feel better and because I’ve fundamentally got nothing to say in this blog post but mostly because the TFITers expressed a desire to see it – I thought I’d share a video for one of this summer’s “Gingerbread Tour” destinations – Tigne.

No-one has ridden there but if the little nugget below is anything to go by, oh yeah baby – bring it on!

Thanks to Mirko R for sharing the love

The Secret is Out

So the best kept secret in Mountain Biking for 2018 is officially out.

The best decisions are often made in haste, you know, no time to think. No analysis. No chin stroking. No faffing. There you go – bosh. And so it was, while David D (who has been sporting a Gingerbread man on the back of his Bell for nigh on two years now) was on yet another foreign adventure, in the pre-ride TFIT preamble this year’s trip was duly named.

And so it is with great pleasure I would like to share yet another bit of Mr F’s superb creativity in announcing “The TFIT Gingerbread Tour of 2018” artwork – supplies are limited – first come first served!

Am also very glad to see this year’s logo is 100% less “meat and two veg” than last years…

Well done Steve … that’ll be 169 days then.

Thoughts of summer

It’s getting cold. *Sniff*.

Oh yes, the mud pixies have definitely arrived and although we’ve not reached the “eyeball and feet freezing” stage yet, things are definitely feeling a bit autumnal on TFITs right now.

So as I nursed my slightly thick post-TFIT head this morning I had to smile when my mind was kicked back to memories of warm summer days and dusty Alpine trails as I received an email from Les Arcs MTB guide and all round awesome rider type person Emily Horridge at The Inside Line MTB with some big news for summer 2018.

For the coming year Inside Line are a very tasty looking fully catered package in Les Arcs but with the added benefit of 5 DAYS of guiding around the resort. If you’ve never ridden in Les Arcs, the collective TFIT can thoroughly recommend it as a destination AND when married with Emily’s guiding you can guarantee a fully “big day out”. This year Emily took us up and down the stunning Mont Jovet ride which you can read about here.

It also looks like Emily has been very busy scouting out another potentially awesome venue for back country MTB fun, now offering another catered and guided break in the Queyras Regional Park.

While we were being beasted up to the top of Mont Jovet Emily was describing this destination to us and it sounds awesome to put it mildly. You can check out the full details (as well as some of the other guiding she offers) on Emily’s site at theinsideline.com.

The other good news is that despite being 251 days away I think we have emotionally committed to MTB 2018 with Les Arcs again being our preferred destination!

Thursday post-ride pub sessions are just great!

Oh yeah – and for your Friday enjoyment, just a quick share of Dave D, Andy T and Steve F riding a section of “Thick and Creamy” last weekend (beautiful camera work by Bob!)

 

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