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Riding in the Surrey HIlls

Playing with the Parrot

As I mentioned earlier this year, I managed to accidentally buy a drone with Matt W, namely a Parrot Bebop 2 which was intended for use in Les Arcs to maybe, just maybe, get some “non-standard-GoPro-hammering-down-the-trail-holding-on-for-grim-death” type footage.

The basic idea was that the Bebop would be small enough to carry in our packs and stable enough to not get blown away by sudden alpine gusts of wind at the top of Mont Jovet on Saturday.

However, with a rapidly diminishing number of days to go before wheels down in Les Arcs 2017 I realised there was a slight flaw in this well thought out plan – basically neither of us have tried:

a) actually carrying the drone in our packs

b) actually trying to film bikes

So, this weekend a few of us headed up to the Punchbowl with the Parrot neatly tucked into Matt’s pack (tick) and with the Parrot’s “Follow Me” functionality installed and ready to go (tick).

Basically what this allows you to do (trees and other obstacles permitting) is get the Parrot to focus on the person carrying the controlling phone and it’ll try its best to auto follow you down the trail, keeping you in focus as best as it can.

There were a couple of “holy crap” moments as the Parrot sailed VERY close to a couple of trees but essentially all was good. You have to ride quite close together if you’re trying to get a group shot and I’m not sure how the Parrot is going to handle if speeds get very high. However, I’m genuinely impressed and it bodes quite well for trying to film above the tree line in the Alps at any rate.

Checkout the our first attempt below.

Riding the Summer Solstice

OK, so the summer solstice was technically speaking on Wednesday this year, however, one day late, we had a well timed TFIT – and as is tradition, we marked the occasion with a ride out to the “Temple of the Wiinnnddddsss” (Blackdown) in Haslemere.

If I’m honest I’m always a tad sad at this time, cos you know, it’s gonna start getting dark soon… (what a misery guts I am…) but riding with your mates who are all fully frisky in a pre-Alps trip kind of way?

Priceless.

So my advice, get out and ride – you’ve got until July 1st before sunset starts getting earlier…

Retail Therapy: Alps ready Transition Scout

I am a tool.

27 Days until we hit Les Arcs for the “Foam Tour 2017” and I managed to bugger my knee during last night’s TFIT. And the most annoying thing about doing that? I did it just dismounting from the bike onto some uneven ground – no failed “6 foot gap jump” for me – oh no, I just have to get of my bloody bike! The net result of this awesome skill? I’ve hyperextended my knee.

Not the end of the world I know, but deeply annoying (and highly painful to boot). Also annoying because I’m supposed to rest it for four weeks and I must…

… avoid the activity which caused the injury in the first place, particularly if that is a sport…

Right. Yeah, that’s gonna happen – not.

Anyway, knee related shenanigans aside (and not forgetting a massive thanks for all TFIT attendees who put up with my moaning last night!) I’ve consoled myself with a bit of retail therapy today and some minor pre-Alps preparation for my Transition Scout today and I have to say, she’s looking ready and raring to go.

The “enhancements” are fairly minor if I’m honest – I’ve fitted a Specialized Butcher Grid and Purgatory Grid front and back respectively and they are looking good. I do like Spesh tyres and the grids did sterling service last year in Morzine. So aside from new brake pads (which I’ll fit a week or so before we go) I’m basically done on the bike front – benefits of having a new bike I guess!

I also took the opportunity to replace a slightly faulty tubeless valve and replenish my tubeless goo (technical term). Although in a slight departure from my normal choice of Stans, I’ve gone for Seal “Endurance Tubeless Sealant” and I have to say I rather impressed.

Seal’s goo spreads around the tyre nicely and certainly helped with the “tubeless-frantic-pump-of-misery” that if you run tubeless you’ll know all about, by sealing any small gaps before the tyre was fully seated. Very, very impressed with it so far. Although top tip – it dries really quickly on a newly laid warm paving slab. Which makes your significant other really cross. And they shout at you. And you have to clean it up…

I’ve also invested in a very overdue new pair of riding shoes. I’ve gone for Specialized 2FO which despite their quite narrow looking design are extremely comfy for someone with freakishly wide feet like me. I’ve not taken them out for a ride yet but they are very stiff, supportive and have well placed toe protection. And they have red bits on them. Red bits are important.

The last bit of retail therapy was a new pair of riding shorts – Endura MT500s which are great, roomy and comfortable and not bazillions of pounds either. Certainly not when compared the £90 Fox shorts I “briefly” picked up earlier.

So there, I’m done (with the exception of some new knee/elbow pads maybe), the Scout is ready and I cannot get through the next 27 days quickly enough!

 

Helmet Swenge

Swenge

/sw-EN-j/

noun informal

  1. Originating in South-East London as a slang term referring to something which is dubiously sweaty. Can be used as a derogatory term for a person.

e.g. “Ewww, he’s a bit swenge” or “I get really swenge when I run

Helmet Swenge

/Hell-met sw-EN-j/

noun very-informal

  1. Made up by me last night as I felt the need to take my helmet into the post-ride shower because it was so vile and foul smelling it nearly made Mrs M vomit on the spot.

e.g. “(Mrs M) Oh my God, go away, you really smell. (Me) That’s not me, that’s my helmet swenge

 

So my top tip of the day is for the sake of domestic bliss, you need to get rid of your “Helmet Swenge” (and let’s be honest, if you’re riding at the moment you WILL have Helmet Swenge) by taking your lid into the shower with you.

Shower Gel helps.

You look weird.

But it helps

If only I’d fitted a tow bar

I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world where I can ride out from my front door and get to a mass of excellent trails without ever having to look at my car. But, as with everyone else who likes to mix it up occasionally there comes a point where your MTB has to be attached to / inserted into your car to get to the trailhead.

And seeing as I live in the UK where a pickup truck is not really an option as a daily runabout that means using a bike rack of one kind or another. And that, if I’m honest, terrifies the living pants off me.

You know, that highly uncomfortable feeling when you catch sight of the “bike shadow” as you drive (clearly at no more than 65mph…) to the ride site and feel that slightly puckering feeling as you see it wobbling around in the wind or as you go round the corner.

So I’m always interested in any method of “securely” and “safely” transporting your beloved and highly precious bike that does not involve borrowing a van from your local friendly Bob. So it was with great interest I followed a link from James G this morning to check out Scorpion Racks.

This Surrey Hills based company offer a very sturdy and securely fixed mounting rack (with two fitting options – plate or towbar) which will take up to two bikes, is apparently Carbon Fibre friendly (they are from Surrey after all…), folds away and allows you to still access the boot if needed.

It’s not cheap at £349 but to be honest, securely fitting your bike to your car is not really something you want to skimp on. So all I’ve got to do is fit a towbar…

Consider the G13

So Mark T is 50. Let’s get that out of the way first. To celebrate he bought himself a new bike – a Mojo/Nicolai Geometron Ion 13 (G13 from now on – not typing that again).

Mark is not only 50, he is also a number or other things.

A bit left field? Certainly. A demon suspension fettler? Unquestionably. Perilously fast? Beyond question. So busy at work he could’t write a blog? Definitely.

But is he highly considered in his kit choices? Yes, 100%, unequivocally without a shadow of a doubt.

This bike has been a long time coming (I’ll let Mark describe the saga of the carbon wheels at a later date) and watching Mark going through the process of choosing each bit of kit has been a pleasure (if a confusing one at times).

So Mark, Bob M and I headed out on Tuesday this week for a brief Punchbowl leg stretch and the silver demon that is the G13 was in attendance so I thought I’d take the opportunity to badger Mr T for the reasons for his kit choices. Again, I’ll let Mark report on his first riding impressions at a future time as my brief spin on the G13 could not do it justice.

I will say however that it’s a “slightly strange” looking thing. Not in a bad way mind you, just in a “you can tell it’s a bit different” kind of way.

Various bits of the bike are just “a bit longer” or “a bit shorter” or indeed “a bit slacker”. But the overall impression is that of a much smaller bike (for a 29er) than for example the Specialized Mr T used to ride. But OMG it’s long. Longer than a very long thing with an extra bit of long added on.

Well unfeasibly long or not, let me tell you that holy bananas Mother of God it’s fast. I mean jaw droppingly, leave you eating dust pedaling furiously to keep up fast. On Tuesday we ran down Flat out Fun and Mark just simply dissapeared….

Wow.

However, I digress. Onto the kit.

The frame is obviously a Nicolai Ion-G13. Mark’s wanted this since they were first announced, simply because 29er’s have not been this slack since, well, ever. So you think that’ll make it hard to climb? Guess again. Mojo and Nicolai have taken care of that issue by having such a steep seat angle.

Bounce is handled at the rear by a 2017 Fox Float-X 2017 (there are other acronyms associated with this –  namely F-S, K, 3pos-Adj Evol LV, but I’ve frankly no idea what they mean) and up front by a beast of a thing – a 2017 36 K FLOAT 29 F-S 160 RC2 BLK 15QRx110 1.5T R-51. Yes, I also played spot the acronym on that one. And lost. All I can say is that it appears rumours of the “death of the long travel 29er” do not appear to have reached Mojo HQ. Front and back are complimented by a Fox Factory series Kashima 150mm dropper. Mark however says it:

…(the shock) looks good, is tuned by Mojo and the piggy back air can reduces heating up in the Alps… (the fork) is super sturdy and offers lots of fine tuning and (the seat post) matches the others…

Stopper pots are Hope Tech 3 Evo 4s dual-pots which are very tidy indeed. Mark noted that they are also pretty light, usual super Hope hight quality and have let him use smaller rotors for the same stopping power.

Go gear is sorted by Shimano XTR shifters (the only ones that can handle frost and mud and still maintain a rapid change says Mark), Shimano XT rear derailleur, a Hope 28 tooth crank (yes – that’s not a typo – 28), a Hope BB, and XTR 11 speed chain and a VERY nice Hope 10/44 cassette which is specific to the Hope Boost Evo 4 148×12 hubs. Of the cassette Mr T says:

… a light 11 speed cassette , together with Hope drive saves a lot of weight – and cost! But I still get a big range

Other kit is handled by Hope for the headset, Renthal for the carbon bar, grips by Ergon, pedals by Crank Brothers, rims are Race Face Arc 30s, seatpost clamp by Hope and tyre duty is performed by Maxxis Forekasters (which is a new one on me).

So all round some amazing kit on this beast of a bike but perhaps the most unusual is the seat – and this is one you won’t be finding on Wiggle. The seat is a custom carbon creation by British Aerospace. Yep, you read that right… oh yeah, and it weighs 125g. Don’t be thinking it’s uncomfortable either – it’s flipping not – it’s amazing!

So all in all some amazing kit on a genuinely impressive steed. Let’s see which PRs Mark manages to destroy on this evening’s TFIT….

Ruthless German efficiency, I think not

The YT circus had rolled into Swinley for the next three days, obviously to let prospective punters the chance to swing a leg over the internet only brand Capra, Jeffsy and Tues models. I must admit that during a black period when I was waiting for replacement chainstays, I very nearly brought one in a moment of weakness. Nevertheless I was there and ready for the advertised start time of 9am, but Hans, Claus and Heidi were clearly not. Being on a tight deadline I cheekily asked if I could just sit on a couple of the Jeffsy 29ers to gauge the size. This was agreed, and a couple of prospective bounces on the large and extra large had me veering to the grander size.

Suddenly it was announced they would be commencing the sign in very soon so being about 6th in line I hung around. A mere 30 minutes laters I was astride the AL One Jeffsy in XL.

A quick tweaking of the shock and fork, and it was into the Blue run that elevates you up to the more interesting parts of the forest. The voluminous 2.5 in Onza Ibex tyres looked odd to my eyes, but they provided a massive level of grip on the man made trail surface and this proved to be the case on the later natural tracks too, so tyre choice seemed good. There was noticeable lack of pedal bob, even when out of the saddle, and spinnng the bike up the hill all seemed efficient and comfortable, so another tick there, and not once did I feel any kick back through the pedals under braking.

The first few mini-downhill sections came and went with no real drama, it does carry speed very well and with good grip can be quite forcibly corrected when necessary. As I started to get away from the start point and heading towards the more interesting sections on the red route I was looking forward to see how it coped. Short answer is extremely well, it does give you confidence to attack and know that, the brakes and suspension are all well up to the task if you overdo it.

At the top of (Labryinth) I was joined by a younger like minded soul who was on the 27.5 version, we were both grinning and exchanged positive vibes about the bikes before we ran down Babymaker where it was an opportunity to try some tight berms and get some air under the wheels. Another tick, exiting here we bumped into a couple more locals, also on demo Jeffsy’s, who invited us to join them on more off piste areas (some of which I hadn’t ridden in about 6 years) so riding kind of blind but following someone who knows the line and speed makes a massive difference and I had the confidence that it would only be my own shortcomings and not the Jeffsy’s when navigating drops and jumps.

Reluctantly it was time to head back to reality and a client meeting so dropped the bike off (passing the still sizeable queue) and retired home.

So, conclusions?

There are so many monetary reasons why this bike makes sense. You get a do anything bike, with all the ‘right’ bits, it pedals well, it descends well, it makes you smile, but… I still have misgivings with what happens when things go wrong.

I can barely stand not having my bike for a week when technical disasters strike, so when you consider you will have to ship it back to Germany and wait for it to come back I just don’t think I could handle it.

Sorry YT, but I think I’ll be looking elsewhere for my next ride.

Trail Hazards, Mark’s G13 and a Jeffsy

Ah summer in Surrey. Dry trails. The marbles are in full blossom and the BOA (Bramble on Apex) have their thorny goodness available to snag the unwary rider on every corner. It is a thing of wonder and joy. Except of course for the little bitey bastard bugs or of course the ones with a death wish that seem to want to be eaten by you as you hurl yourself down your local trail.

However, mountain bikers of Surrey we should all rejoice – at least we have no bears! I refer you to the video James G sent me this morning posted by Dušan Vinžík on YouTube which shows what riders in Slovakia have to deal with. Kind of puts those “bitey bugs” in perspective doesn’t it – they may bite but they’re unlikely to eat you AND your bike…

I have to agree with panzerfaulst12345 though – just exactly why the fuck did they stop!?!

Anyway – for those that can there is a brief PB ridette this evening planned leaving mine at 7:30ish. After all we only have a rapidly reducing 58 days until wheels down in Les Arcs for “The Foam Tour 2017”.

And speaking of that, most have heard (and seen the results on Strava…) that Mark T has taken delivery of his Mojo/Nicolai G13. I think that’s what its called at any rate. I did catch Mr T taking delivery of it at Cycleworks and I’m looking forward to Mark leaving me in his dust on a TFIT in the near future. Hopefully now Mark has had chance to get a couple of rides in (and bagged some well respectable PRs and a 3rd on the TFIT roller) he’ll be commenting on his most considered of first impressions here soon.

And speaking of bike reviews – a certain Mr F spent last Friday at Swinley Forest at the YT Industries demo day trying out his current source of major temptation – the YT Jeffsy 29er – again, we hope for a post ride appraisal shortly

See you later or on Thursday

Sense of humour and DaveFest 2017

Ride a mountain bike? Chances are you probably have a sense of humour – and you don’t shave your legs – and you like mud – just like the guys at Transition Bikes!

While drooling over the new Transition Throttle 27.5 on their site yesterday I came across a couple of highly appropriate “cos its Friday” type videos for your general amusement. The first is the “Carbon Hardtail launch” video:

These perhaps might also get the TFITers into an appropriate mood for tonight’s inaugural “DaveFest” ride at Peaslake (thank you for the bed space Mr D and sorry for naming this as a fest…). Also a massive thank you in advance is rightly due to Mrs D who is simply a legend for agreeing to not only put up with crashing but also has agreed to FEED a houseful of slightly smelly guys on Saturday am!

Yep tonight we all have a free pass to head out to Peaslake for some of the best fun in the Surrey Hills – it’s been a while and I cannot wait. I’m hoping we get to try the drops I saw Hoong K and James G having some fun on a couple of weeks ago as well as maybe a bit of “Barry knows Best” before retiring for several post ride beers. And then some more. Meeting a David D’s ready to ride at 6:00 sharp!

So – it’s Friday – settle back with your bacon butty and morning coffee and enjoy some more Transition love as well as “How to be a Mountain Biker” (cheers to James G for the link).

This second one is particularly for Matt W, who somewhat shares Transition’s feelings about eBikes methinks!

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