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Surrey Hills MTB

Shall we go ride in Les Arcs then?

Wooooohooooo.

Finally, we’re here. It’s been a long old wait but today, this most halcyon of days, it’s time to kick off “The Foam Tour 2017”.

After a successful “LAVOJ packing” last night at Matt W’s, the LAVOJ is now winging its way through France and the remainder of the TFITers are counting the seconds.

So, all I can say is, check your passport is in your bag for the 15th time and see you at the Star at 14.30 sharp.

And finally, a “Happy Birthday” to both Mark T and Malcolm W, well done to Stephan F for organising this year’s trip and have a good drive to the D brothers. We’ll see you on the flipside.

If I get time (and I’m not too inebriated) I’ll write an update while we’re on the ground about how my Transition Scout and perhaps Mark’s G13 is handling the Alps.

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The Foam Tour: Les Arcs MTB 2017 – 1 day to go

Nearly there… just one teeny, tiny (but biblically long I suspect) day to go before “The Foam Tour” kicks of in earnest!

So tonight is “packing the LAVOJ night”, so we all need to get to Matt W’s as soon as you can after 18:15pm so we can get everything stored with some kind of order! Bike padding is optional (but recommended), unless you are James G who enjoys padding up his YT just a bit too much…

Remember to check your rucksack for any metal items if you’re taking it as hand luggage and get them out (ok Bob?) and maybe once we’re packed, we can have a cheeky pint to send Craig and Tig on their way.

So, if like me you are counting the seconds before you can get the hell out of Dodge, I invite you to tackle the annual “TFIT going on tour Crossword”. First correct set of answers wins… wins… erm… my undying respect and admiration – yeah, that’ll do!

Across

3. They’ve had a customer service failure this year – just ask Bob
5. It drips in your eyes, it burns, IT BURNS…
8. What Mark will say if we take him down La Varda
9. Four again on the trails this year?
10. It’s a pseudonym for La Panoramique
11. French girls like Mark covered in this
13. Where I knackered my shoulder
14. First run of the day?
16. Emily, our Guide from InsideLine
17. Might not get Mark down this one
18. Like Optimus Prime, but with Wheels
19. Not a Boardman…
20. Best downhill in Surrey?

Down

1. How I describe parental child control
2. Can’t get Bob to run this
4. What will Chris and Matt crash?
6. Red and Green are often seen in the Alps
7. Will there be one or two?
9. Sadly defunct Les Arcs tour company
12. 20-30 minute hike-a-bike here
15. Not the MVOJ
18. Matt is now a Whatsapp master of these
21. Matt has 10 working this year
22. Longest serving Alpine trail tamers
23. Triple failure for Bob and single failure for James
24. Was an Alpine call, what will this years be?

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…

 

 

Tick Tock… Tick Tock…

Monday. 8:30am. Bored

Just checked clock again. Now 8:31am. Emotional state has not changed.

Colleagues want to talk about their weekends. This all sounds lovely. Although have to confess am mostly thinking about what I have yet to pack and don’t care about Love Island. Keep trying to move conversation back to “best Alps tyre choice”. Colleagues have all inserted headphones.

    8:32am. Really?

    As Douglas Adams succinctly put it “…Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so…“. I have to be honest, I’m not sure I agree, from my perspective this “time” thing seem pretty real to me.

    8:33am. Oh COME ON…

    Need to focus on something. Perhaps actual work. Throw myself into something tricky and all consuming….. Now did I put my spare mech hanger in the bag?

    8:34am. DAMN

    Have made fourth coffee of the morning. Sadly only requires walking to kitchen area next to my desk. Am speaking at 1000 words per minute. Corner my junior developer on the grounds they might actually listen to constant stream of bike conversation. Junior Developer has gone to complain to HR. Other colleagues have convened a meeting I’m not invited to….

    8.35am. Oh ahhhrrgghh…

    Checked Whatsapp for 79th time since arriving in office. Other TFITers apparently have things to actually do. Am starting to crack. Not sure I have the stamina to last until Thursday. Might have to go stand next to bike shelter outside office and talk to roadie crowd. HR have just left a message on my phone.

    8.36am. F*****ckity

     

    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.

     

     

    Longer, Slacker, Faster, Harder

    Just been reading an fascinating article on PinkBike by Mike Kazimer about Transition Bike’s movement towards what they are calling “Speed Balanced Geometry“.

    Mike talks to Lars Sternberg and Sam Burkhardt from Transition to give the lowdown on Transition’s take on ever evolving bike geometry but more specifically a brilliant breakdown of just exactly what the hell it all means when you actually ride.

    With Mark T on his Nicolai G13 which has made the TFITers collectively go “Oooooohhh I see…” I can only wait with baited breath for some announcement from Bellingham’s best as to what this means for their upcoming bikes.

    I thoroughly recommend you check out the article on PinkBike here.

    The Foam Tour: Les Arcs MTB 2017 – 1 week to go

    1 week. 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes or 604,800 seconds.

    To mark this most happy of occasions (albeit a passing very slowly occasion) I thought I’d take the opportunity to check out the weather forecast on Accuweather and also on the trusty iPhone weather app for Les Arcs as we’ve now reached the time where we can have “reasonable” confidence in any predictions. Based on historical onservations I tend to give Accuweather a 75-80% accuracy rating and the iWeather (or whatever it’s called) about an 80-85% accuracy rating.

    Not that it matters to be honest with you, the weather does not make or break an MTB outing, particularly if you are going somewhere you’ve never been before, but, for those that are interested the outlook is on Accuweather is…

    Scorchio / Good / Meh / Appalling / Biblical

    And on iPhone weather thingy the outlook is…

    Scorchio / Good / Meh / Appalling / Biblical

    So, maybe somewhere between the two then. A lot can change in a week weather wise, particularly in the Alps, but so far it’s so looking interesting!

    Just one more weekend of “bike fettling” to go chaps where you have opportunity to make any last minute preparations, replacements or additions to your steed. I will be mostly fitting some new brake pads (and maybe a quick brake bleed), charging the GoPro and Parrot Bebop’s batteries and packing my LABOJ (Les Arcs Bag of Joy).

    Just a reminder – we are packing the LAVOJ on the evening of 5th July from 18:15 onwards at Matt W’s place. Tig and Craig D are heading out early in the am so let’s try not to take too long getting the van sorted!

    If you’re not sure of any details, check out this post here or drop Mr F a message on Whatsapp. Also, to make the next seven days run a bit quicker (maybe), check out this YouTube nugget from Nicolas Secorov “Woodstock” which if I’m reading the route map right is at the top of the Vallandry lift…

    Also, taking on board awesome and sage advice from the lovely Emily Horridge from InsideLine MTB, there is Dre Dans L’Pentu, courtesy of Jérôme Asselin :

    And speaking of The Inside Line, “rumours abound” that Emily has been scouting out some new routes and rides for holidays / guiding slightly further south in France (I won’t say where yet in case it’s top secret…) – but I recommend you check out Emily’s site where details will be forthcoming I have no doubt.

    Tick… tick… tick…

     

    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.

    G-13 prior to the Alps

    Me and my Mojo G13 “gelled” last night (and just in time, with Les Arcs looming!) over the course of a cracking ride up and down the Temple of the Windz on a fantastic Summer Solstice evening.

    It is expected (by Chris) to write about your new bike, you know, “how was your first ride”, “what are your first impressions” and such like…. but during the last 2 months I’ve felt like things weren’t right enough to talk about.

    I mean I hadn’t “dialled-in” the set up to fully do the bike justice. Or indeed I thought, this could be bollocks!!  Perhaps more accurately, in my hurry to build up the G13, I’d buggered it up!

    The small 10t Hope cassette needed a chain that could cope, so the first one went into the bin, my seat was too far back, I didn’t tighten the chainring properly, leading to a rebuild, the handle bars were too low and my Mallet pedals hit the dust, leading to SPD shuffling on shiny new HT pedals that entailed taking multiple “nettle baths from hell” for a couple of weeks.

    The journey has been long… (and considered… [ed]) but with the last fettle on Thursday night of adding riser handle bars I’m now very, VERY at home on my new bike and oh my it’s a whole lotta fun!!

    This is the bike I’ve always wanted, but prior to this I had accidentally bought a very nice bike (50% discount my excuse) and this is a good way of letting you know what I have now.

    My old bike was an aggressive Specialized Enduro 29er. 155mmm at the rear and 160mm at the front.

    In the first two weeks of owning it, I replaced the brakes, seat post, handle bar stem (much shorter),  bars (much wider) but more telling was it was still way “too upright”

    I reduced shock pressure for more sag, put in an offset bearing and a 10mm spacer between the forks and the frame, but it still wasn’t slack enough!

    The geometry was the same as any cross-country 29er in the 69 to 71 degree range and a year ago there were no “progressive” 29ers. I see them coming onto the market now, and this year 29ers are being used on the DH circuit but the daddy of them all, in my opinion, is my bike, the Mojo Nicolai G13.

    It’s a glorious looking machine, an all “raw aluminium and Kashima’d monkey”! Oh yes, it’s a long, low and slack 29er to be sure.

    Evolution of my Nicolais
    The beast

     

    I have mine set up in the low setting (slacker)  64.2 degree and you know, in the first few yards it feels normal, “a tad different” but also very normal. All that wheel in front brings bags of confidence.

    I set off on my first ride on the flat for starters and let me tell you this bike is responsive. Put in some effort and off you go, it just … keeps … accelerating… (yeah ha!!!), turning some dull flat trails, in to super-whizzy-turny trails. (note to self need to be fitter and maybe I do need a bigger chain ring).

    Oh yes. the “turny” bits. So is a super long bike, poor in the turns?

    Well my first proper corner was hammering into into Yoghurt Pots up at Peaslake, and wow, the G13 just absolutely railed it! The 2nd time down, I smashed my PB and had a total ball.

    The G13 is surprisingly agile, popping around all over the place. I do feel I’m slightly getting pushed over the front at times, but raising the bars and a riser bars on Thursday has totally sorted that.

    I have the suspension feeling fantastic, and the fiercest Surrey rocks and roots are a joy as you float over them. This bike does downhill with no sacrifice in the corners. Getting the whole bike in the air as a bunny hop is fine, but lifting the front wheel up is a bit tricky because it’s just so “planted” I’ve discovered getting the front wheel up needs a slighly different technique (which is probably the correct technique of pushing rather than pulling). On Thursday all this was coming together and it felt mighty fine.

    There’s also a bizarre bit too. The G13 climbs like a goat strapped to a rocket, no seriously, I really mean it, it really, really does And it’s a bit weird!

    I’ve claimed hills where I’ve normally pushed, which if I’m honest is quite enjoyable and slightly novel!

    There some technical reasons why it does this including the seat post angle for one. As the testing fraternity have often mentioned it climbs and climbs, it really is that noticeable.

    So There you have it. I summary the G13 is a beast. It climbs like a pro, oozes confidence, is very responsive, is totally huge bags of fun, and it is now very comfy. Sorted

    Bring on Les Arcs is all I can say .

    Mark T

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