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Riding in the Surrey HIlls

I talk too much

“Focus”, “Precision”, “Execution”. These are the words that often spring to mind when I watch MTB videos.

While I’ve been reviewing my Go Pro footage from Les Arcs I’ve discovered these are not words I would choose to apply to me.

Those words would be “Expletive”, “Noisy” and a bit “Singy”.

Take a look at the video below and you’ll see what I mean. BTW, this is very much NSFW, or indeed NSFCIR (not safe for children in the room)

So enjoy this slice of “real world MTB” rather than “Zen MTB” while I search for suitable music for my Woodstock in one vid (to cover the brake squeal)

Wild Horses…

So nine days in and seven rides on the new YT Industries Jeffsy 29er.

Two over the bars bars and one over the side incident. The first two were a direct result of the speed that the Jeffsy carries, the last a direct result of five pints and showing off.

140mm of travel front and back coupled with the large wheels (2.4” tyres add even more) give the bike plenty of bounce for my riding style around Surrey but there seems to be a hidden turbo-charger in the back where once the bike hits a certain speed it just takes off.

There’s been a few hairy moments when I’ve over-cooked it going in to corners by going to fast, the big wheels give you a false sense of speed. This morning’s ride to Ceasars Camp to try out some familiar more technical descents resulted in one over the bars moment as the bike decided to throw a turn of speed at me that wasn’t expected off a drop in which rolls in to and out of a river bed. Jumping out of the other side at full tilt the bike was just going too fast and landed beyond the corner in to a trunk… a handful of brake didn’t help especially when I then realised that they’d been set up Continental style and I hadn’t noticed on the previous rides (but probably explains the first OTB)! That’s the next job on the list to change.

Speaking of which, from getting the bike out of the box there’s not been too much fettling needed; the seat position took some getting right due to the slack seat post angle and a bit of playing getting the suspension sag right and the obligatory rebound adjustments (ongoing) buts that’s about it so far.

Not only is the Jeffsy quick on the descents it’s fast uphill as well. Having looked carefully at the gearing ratios I was concerned as it was going to mean losing the bottom two rings in comparison to my Canyon 1×11. The last few weeks on the Canyon were spent desperately trying to avoid using the granny ring and no. 2 to acclimatise to the impending lack of gears.

The reviews I read before hand, and the test ride on a borrowed bike, all spoke of it climbing well but the proof is in the Strava. Of the seven rides I had in the last week or so there’s been a lot of PBs, many of them uphill so something’s certainly going right with the bike! I normally hate riding uphill but I have to say the Jeffsy has taken some of that pain away.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to tame the bloody thing on descents!

Leigh B

Transition Bikes: Engineered to Party

They’re having a busy year are those lovely people at Transition Bikes.

So aside from already launching two new carbon hardtails this year, namely the 27.5 Throttle (dribble…) and the 29er Vanquish (double dribbles…) they not only gone and done it again with the equally excellently named Transition Sentinel.

Transition Sentinel

PinkBike had some “spy shots” of the Sentinel the other day which I was deeply appreciative of but now you can see a +rider shot on Transition’s site, which 108% more awesomer…

So as I wrote a few days ago, PinkBike had a cracking article the other week about Transition Bikes new approach to bike geometry call “Speed Balanced Geometry”. I wondered out loud what that would mean for their 2018’s bike lineup. Well, it did not take them very long to answer that with the announcement of the Sentinel long travel 29er.

Looks like Transition have definitely found a bit of “Nicolai-esque” inspiration in this approach and totally made it their own, and I have to say – JUST WOW! OMG that’s a slack looking beast of a bike. And it’s grey. And that just helps. It just does. I’m also interested to see Fox fork, dropper (I think?), but can’t make out the shock.

If you want to see what Transition say about “SBG” (that just sounds so cool…), check out this video:

I cannot wait to see the full spec of the Sentinel when it’s released later this year. Of course I now have to try to work which of the three new bikes I would like most of all.

That could take months…

 

 

Altitude Sickness

Every year this happens. You’ve been bombing around all year on your bike. Got winter out the way with minimal damage, hit spring hard, and fine tuned early summer. The bike is running spot on. Pressures are angled and travel is pumped, and you fondly pat your bike after a ride.

Then the Alps start looming, and suddenly you start looking at your bike in a completely different way. So now my bike is up in the stand, and I have altitude sickness: Lordy me, look at these tyres – basically slicks, and the pads are gone (they’re fine), when did I last change the bb? (Maybe I should change the whole chainset?) Is this dropper post feeling sticky? Wait – is that a KINK in my brakehose! How did I survive the last ride – let alone the season? Someone find me a computer and a credit card…

This phenomenon sneaks up on you, and I count myself lucky that I caught it in time. I did order a new tyre (ok – there may have been other things too) but after fitting, I suddenly noticed I had the wrong one – I wanted the thick-walled enduroallmountainradhardcore type, and what I had was the ordinary kind. (The same kind that had pulled me up and down the Surrey Hills for the last year – not to mention a clutch of top tens – even a KOM or two) But nope – now its just not good enough. Its not ALPS enough. Grabbed my phone and double checked the order – they must have messed up? Nope – I messed up. Can you return a tyre after it’s been loaded up? E-Bay? Check online – oh yeah, this version sucks. The other one is like 5 stars everywhere. What the hell was I thinking? What if I put the old one back on? Ok STOP. Deep breath – the tyre is fine. It’s just the front – the rear was still enduroallmountainradhardcore. It would be fine. This is altitude sickness, that all. And that was that. I cleaned up my tools, put the bike away, and slept well that night, knowing the bike was ready, and I did not overreact.

Sunday morning 7:30am. Ordered new tyre, paid extra for next day delivery. My name is David and I have Altitude Sickness.

 

 

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…

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