Search

Surrey Hills MTB

Les Arcs MTB: Done

So the TFITers are down from the final run, ending very appropriately at the bottom of Woodstock, possibly our favourite run of the trip. Yes, the Foam Tour 2017 has drawn to a close.

I’m glad to report everyone is in one piece – our bikes somewhat less so, but that’s to be expected after a weekend of big mountains and equally big descents.

I’m still trying to process the weekend (and the reality of another epic delay getting back from Geneva airport), however, I guess the big question is, “is MTB in Les Arcs worth it?”

Well, to put it simply, I can confirm that is an emphatic, unequivocal, massive YES.

Les Arcs is awesome. Different to Morzine / Les Gets in many ways and better in others. Personally I think the trails lean towards a bit more ‘real world’. They are rougher than we are used to (Marbles… they are everywhere) but I think all the better for it.

We’ve rode a checklist of the trails, Woodstock, Marsupalami, Le Tranks, Yellow Stone and of course the simply-epic-best-big-day-out-I’ve-ever-had on the Mont Jovet descent with Emily and Evan from The Inside Line MTB (more on that to come at a later date) and have all left with some stupidly wide grins.

The trails did not disappoint. They were technical in places and challenging in others but also felt very “familiar” to a UK trail rider. The major benefit to my mind though was there were no MTB super highways (like Morzine!) and 90% less braking bumps (yayyyy).

The most surprising thing of all though was just how quiet it was. Les Arcs is definitely not as popular a resort to head to and is all the better for it. Even on the Saturday (official opening day) we were blessed with VERY empty trails and VERY quiet lifts. Which was simply fantastic!

I’d recommend you get up to the higher trails if you can and weather permitting. The trails are very worth it and the views are simply stunning.

We stayed at an awesome chalet in Peisey (note: a great place to use as a base) and our a brilliant host (John – who has some new chalets through Icebreaker Chalets for riding and skiing as of next year) who fed us to within an inch of our lives.

Are there any downsides of MTB in Les Arcs? Not many, but I would recommend anyone heading out to take plenty of spares for your traditional MTB consumables (brake pads, mech hangers, spokes, bleed kits) as bike shops offering repairs were surprisingly a bit thin on the ground. I’d also very much recommend that you have some form of transport there as well – it does come in handy. If you’ve broken something I advise you head to Bourg St Maurice or to Moutiers.

Now that we’re back the TFITers are collectively and feverishly editing some footage together and I hope to get some videos up here soon so we can do some “show and tell”.

I think on balance Les Arcs has not fully woken up to the potential of MTB in the summer and unlike Morzine / Les Gets is high enough to still routinely get awesome winters so it’s not as important.

However, don’t let that put you off, it is 100% worth a visit and we WILL be heading back!

 

 

Advertisements

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

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.

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…

     

    Blog at WordPress.com.

    Up ↑

    %d bloggers like this: