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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.

 

 

“Prey” that all service is as good as this!

I love my trusty sack (stick with me here).

I’m talking about the poor abused backpack that only ever rarely gets the odd hose down or any TLC after a particularly mucky ride. So when donning my Osprey Raptor 14 for this Thursday’s ride I was mightily miffed when the magnetic sternum buckle that secures my drinks hose snapped clean off but with a quick bodge and it was still good for the nights ride.

Come Friday and having had a quick look online for a replacement with no success I was starting to scratch my head as to what to do. Finding Osprey’s website I noted they offer a lifetime guarantee, so I quickly filled out the online form and crossed my fingers.

Just one hour later I had had a real human being’s response (not just some automated mailbot) saying “no problem” and that “they would send one straight out to me”.

Fantastic I thought, but I have to say I was even more impressed that it dropped on my doormat the following morning.

osprery

Now that is service in my book, and I know that when it comes to replace my reliable well thought out backpack it will almost certainly be another Osprey product.

I doff my cap to you.

Stephan F

Technophile or Technophobe

Shimano. Love it. I know there are horses for courses but I unashamedly hold my hand up and wave the Japanese flag here. I sit in the Shimano camp – always have, and I suspect I always will.

Later this month I drop my Bandit off with the kind people at Cycleworks in Haslemere for some pre-spring care and attention. I’ve accepted that my go-kit is sadly not going to make it until February – again – dammit!

So this morning I found myself browsing the interweb checking out offers on an XT M8000 1×11 replacement but I also found myself reading the Shimano XTR site about their electronic shifting DI2 system.

Now I love a bit of technology. I really do. If it’s gadget related, I’m 100% in – every time. But I have to say I am less than convinced about electronic gearing. I’m not completely sure why, but somewhere buried deep is the impression that this could be… “cheating”?

I guess it’s the same feeling I get from e-bikes or specifically e-mtbs. I love the idea but would I buy one? That would be a no (caveat: for the very foreseeable future…)

I watched a brilliant documentary over Christmas “The Untold Story of British Mountain Biking” – a cornucopia of the history of riding in this country – trust me, you should watch it.

Seeing the evolution of the tech on bikes was just fascinating – suspension forks, full suspension, disc brakes, droppers, etc, etc but all of these changes still rely on the simple, elegant and mechanical joy of getting a bike up hill.

The Di2 components are very sexy looking though, I applaud the engineers and designers for their creativity. However I think my biggest reticence with it is the thought your bike kit being so complicated that you are unable to make a trailside repair and a malfunction just ends your ride.

Maybe Shimano have factored this in? Maybe the tech is so clever in this instance it’s a revolutionary as the front suspension fork? Maybe I have to accept I’m turning into a luddite?

Maybe, but in excess of £1200 for a groupset (*cough*) I think I’ll be sticking with good old mechanical “crapness” for a while yet.

Hawaiian’ down the hill

Just emailed out the latest “Morzine Official Email” to all and sundry, confirming some details and what the next steps are. Unsurprisingly the response to “shall we have unlimited wine and beer appears to be a resounding yes”. Funny that.

Anyway, in the myriad of email responses, Leigh B raised a very good point, namely how to identify ones-self in the gallons of GoPro footage that we will be recording? Last year, Mark T employed the ‘genius’ technique of wearing his “OMG” Hawaiian shirt. I feel therefore we should all employ this technique this year because:

  1. It will be outstandingly funny
  2. I can’t imagine what a beauty Bob would wear
  3. The French will be all like “Porquoi?”

So, in tribute of this idea I advise you head over to karmakula.co.uk and pick yourself a winner or indeed one that matches your frame colour – it appears MTB frame and Hawaiian t-shirts draw from the same colour range (they do Bermuda shorts as well Bob…). Karmakula have their shirts at £28.95 a pop and are frankly…. astounding!

Upgrade day

So apparently it’s not only me putting shiny new bits on my bike – James G has been been applying an HT X2 pedal upgrade as well. This would probably explain the “has anyone got a pedal spanner” text from earlier…

These are some nice looking slabs he has fitted there and possibly much more stable than the Crank Brothers ones he had – I guess they must be cos Aaron Gwin rides them!

Updates from James to follow I have no doubt once he’s taken them for a spin

Boost hubs

boost

Yay, another ‘standard’ introduced to the mtb world. I think this has largely stemmed from the drive to stiffen up the 29er wagon wheels, and the mega growth of 27.5. Hubs have grown from 35mm, to the 142mm seen on most new bikes. So whats the deal with the new Boost variant?

For starters, the boost hubs offer an extra 6mm on the rear, and 10mm on the front hub. So that’s 3mm and 5mm increase on each side respectively. Put into real world – a boost hub offers the same amount of stiffness on a 29er, that you would get from a 27.5 wheel on the 142 standard. The blurb tell us this means more clearance between chainstays / forks, added stiffness = better bike handling (?).

But here’s the rub: Moving from 135mm hubs to 142mm hubs is a straight forward process of using an adapter for the hub. With the boost hub changes every aspect of your wheel – The position of the cassette, the brake rotor and the crankset. Oh, and the wheel needs to be re-dished to accommodate the extra width. So forget about using any adapters or spacers (the brake rotor needs to move too). To top it all off, up front, you need a wider fork casing to fit the hub.

Engineering: ‘Hey, I made a wider hub that makes the wheel stiffer.’

Marketing: ‘Great, lets build them!’

Engineering: ‘But it will make all our customers existing cranks, forks, frames, rims and drivechain obsolete!’

Marketing: ‘Great, let’s build them!’

 

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