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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
So my advice, get out and ride – you’ve got until July 1st before sunset starts getting earlier…
So the other day Mark T did a Google Streetview of Peisy Vallandry and quietly raised concerns he could not find a bar using this technique. I reassured Mark that it would be fine as we all know he’d have no problem finding a bar in Vatican City (never mind a French Alpine resort – he has “skillz” in the locating a bar department).
However this afternoon while I was interwebrowsing I happened to visit the Piesey Vallandry website and saw a link to “Bars and Tearooms” (cos you know, tea is important…).
And what do you know, there among a fine array of establishments was “LeMojoBar“.
There you go Mark. Clearly they are expecting you, having only gone and named a bar in your honour.
And maybe we could ask the owners if they’d consider renaming it to “Le Mojo/Geometron G13 Bar” over the first couple of beers!
Woooohooooo. That’s 3 weekends, 3 TFITs and three paltry weeks until wheels down for the TFITers Les Arcs 2017 MTB extravaganza – “The Foam Tour”.
Thought I’d raise a couple of things for general group consumption:
The freshly named LAVOJ (Les Arcs Van of Joy) will be packed as per last year at Matt W’s place on the evening of Wednesday 5th July. We will be gently inserting bikes and “hold luggage” so if you want it with you in Les Arcs (spares, beer, foam, suncream, whatever) either fit it on your bike or bring it with you.
Packing will take place from 18:15 on 5th July onward. The intrepid driving partnership that is the “Double D’s” will be heading out very early Thursday morning so lets get it done nice and early if possible. Then we could have a pint. Maybe…
Check-in to your Flight
If you haven’t, get checked in to your flight and confirm travel details. You don’t want to get to the airport and look like a muppet now do you!
Extra Car of Joy
So as there appeared to be 50 bazillion of us trying to squeeze into Steve F’s 7 seater to get to Gatwick I have decided to drive back to Witley (I’m taking a half day – huzzah) so have space for three in the CGCOJ. Seating at the moment is:
Not sure if Andy C is going to be in Witley or going straight from London? I’m planning to leave as soon after 2:00 as I can – Steve I think is intending to head off at 3:00.
Driving in France
So this is for me, James and Matt as designated drivers. Don’t forget to get (and bring with you!) a DVLA Licence Check Code.
They are valid for 21 days and you can get them here from today onwards I guess. Oh yeah, don’t forget your driving licence chaps! Let’s be honest, everyone is other than us is gonna be partially / completely full of beer!
It’s entirely up to you, but if you haven’t I’d consider getting some “get off the mountain please” insurance for this trip, particularly as we are doing some back-country stuff. I’ll be doing something with Snowcard as per normal but “other insurance companies are available”…
Lastly a massive dollop of Foamy Kudos needs to go to Matt W and Steve F for sourcing and delivering highly appropriate clothing for our Les Arcs shenanigans – yes, the “Foam Tour 2017” tshirts have arrived! Gaze upon their glorious foaminess below: