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Les Arcs MTB: Woodstock

We’ve been back from Les Arcs now for a couple of weeks. I think it’s fair to say I’m into the “post-ride-holiday-with-your-mates-blues” period without a shadow of a doubt.

This is not helped of course by the fact I cannot TFIT tonight due to urgent need to deposit my kids with Grandparents for the start of their summer holidays which involves enjoying the M1 for longer than anyone should have to.

It was however while thinking about that impending pleasure my hastily put together “Woodstock: Top to Bottom” video finished exporting and has been hastily uploaded to YouTube.

This was my last run at Les Arcs when my front brake had pretty much given up the ghost and my front wheel had two questionable and one fully detached spoke but I still managed to have a bucket full of fun on my Scout – which is what its all about for sure.

Woodstock starts at the top of the Vallandry lift and just draws you in from the start. It’s only a blue but by God it’s good fun – from the very top to the very bottom.

So if anyone is asking the question, “Les Arcs, is it any good for MTB” or indeed “should I even go to the Alps”, my one comment is a pure and simple – “oh yes”.

 

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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)

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…

The Foam Tour: Les Arcs MTB 2017

So we have 21 days.

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 LAVOJ

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:

CGCOJ

  • Chris G
  • Bob M
  • Malcolm W
  • Mark T

SFCOJ

  • Steve F
  • Tim W
  • Matt W
  • James G
  • Andy T

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!

Insurance

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”…

Dress Code

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:

 

TFIT tonight anyone?

Significant Day

So today is a most significant of days – one of the original TFITers, our one and only Mark T has reached his 50th year.

Now I won’t wax lyrical about what a genuinely top dude Mark is – mostly cos he’d hate it – but I have to say as one of the “TFIT originals” who headed out into the Surrey Hills (some would argue to escape the joys of having young children… but I digress) to start the institution that is TFIT – the rest of us are eternally grateful.

I also will not mention OR pay tribute to the special “Mark locations” that are dotted around the Surrey Hills (raising the overall elevation by at least several feet), his multitude of awesome bikes with perfectly setup suspension, uncanny ability to locate “foam parties” at great distance (like some kind of beer soaked homing pigeon), preternatural skill at opening pubs that are firmly shut (for quite serious and sober reasons…), all round appreciation for late night roast beef and of course his ability to crash into “Mark shaped holes” with more style than anyone I know!

So Happy Birthday Mark – have a great one!

Les Arcs: 100 days to go

Woop Woop there’s 100 days to go. That, by any definition, counts as a good day.

Yep, in 100 days from today the TFITers will be wheels down in Les Arcs for the “2017 Foam Tour” and the next 100 days cannot go quickly enough in my book. To slightly focus the mind of the TFIT massive – that would be 14 weeks and 2 days in old money.

Working on the principle of 3 rides a week thats only 42 rides until the Mont Jovet climb of pain…. *gulp*. However, the clocks have changed and we are in the realm of post-work rides so this is only a good thing.

So, what else do we need to know seeing as time is getting short? Over to our “man in the know”, Steve F for the details:

Super Important News

The 2nd Deposit of £200 due from everyone (excluding drivers) by 5th April. No excuses please. This will leave a final balance of £185 due around 15th June.

Other Important News

  • There is still a bucket load of snow on the hills – check out the webcams here
  • Steve is fully in control of all things Les Arcs – but ping him any questions if you’re in doubt
  • James G is now coming to the party after initially denying any interest and then swooping in at the last minute. It’s all about the “Foam Tour” t-shirt methinks. Anyway, we have now cancelled one of the hire cars and James has booked two smaller cars instead. Bottom line is we can all now fit in and this is a good thing
  • Emily has promised not to break any of us. Actually, no, she hasn’t
  • In terms of the new bike front, Matt has got his new Transition Smuggler, I have just taken delivery of my new Transition Scout (it’s large, black and a total trail nutter). Steve F has a mended and enhanced Specialized FSR and a certain Mark “Foam King” T has just taken delivery of one Mojo/Nicolai Geometron frame…
  • Mr F has produced an excellent tour logo – “The Foam Tour” and Matt “T-Shirt Inc” W is getting these onto t-shirts, I am contemplating a tattoo on my left bum cheek. Yes, it’s that good!
  • Don’t forget to get insurance for the trip. I used snowcard last year and found them ideal for what we are doing. Others are available.

So, if you’re chomping at the bit like me and just for your general perusal, enjoy the following nuggets of “Les Arcs Goodness” from the interweb and thanks to Anant Patel, PJ Channel and Vincent Pernin for sharing the love.

Steve F’s Special Dance

I will not explain that post title any further. You kind of had to be there to witness it first hand.

However, I’m very much still laughing.

Anyway – twas another excellent TFIT last night out to Hascombe and back around the White Horse for a bit of Hascombr joy n’ giggles. And a well done to Carl for his second TFIT as well as sharing driving duties with David D!

The trails were mostly dry (if you exclude the large muddy bits that I managed to find with fair regularity) and as we start heading towards “CLOCK CHANGE DAY” things are firming up quite nicely down here in the wilds of Surrey.

Mr F had his replacement chainstay installed on his Spesh FSR and I was enjoying my last ride on Bob M’s Scout before mine is built hopefully next week.

To that end, look what the Rockshox faeries have provided. Yep it’s all going a bit 150mm Pike up front on the Scout. Not much more travel but just a ‘bit’ more. It’s well within the bounds of acceptability for the Scout (so say Transition) so we’ll see what it feels like when I get on the trails.

Aside from giving me a bit more bounce the Pike is slightly lighter than my Fox Float Kashima 140s, not by much I think, but every little helps as they say. And not that this matters, except it does, they match the Rockshox shock on the back of the Scout frame! Yum…

Mucking about with the Parrot Bebop

Well, snow or no snow, I decided I needed to cheer myself up yesterday (more on why I needed to be cheered up later this week) and I should probably get the drone that I’ve “accidentally purchased” with Matt W out and to have a go flying it “on the trail” as it were.

The Bebop 2 is a properly funky bit of kit and Matt and I are trying to make sure we are capable of taking this thing out on a ride, without the need for the ride being all about the filming.

Or at least thats the plan!

So to that end, we’ve bought a groovy little Lowenpro bag which takes the drone, two batteries and the props all snuggled up with lovely padding. It’s also small enough to strap to the back of a pack – although I’ve not tried that yet.

The Parrot also has a big chunk “Sky Controller” (the big joysticky thing above) which you attach your phone or tablet into and use to fly it. The Sky Controller is really good and very easy to use, even for a fat fingered goon like me (which is saying something) and it has a massive range extender transmitter thingy on the top so you can fly it over a km away from where you are (not tried that either!).

However, and more realistically for MTB, you can fly the drone just from your mobile – which is what yesterday was all about trying out. So I headed up to the Devil’s Punchbowl and walked down to one of my favourite trails “Flat out Fun”, determined to try some drone camera angles imagining I would be filming some bikes. Take a look at the video below to see the first results.

So, initial conclusions are:

  1. Controlling the drone from the phone is really scary – and much harder than using the Sky Controller. I was totally paranoid about the wireless range between the drone and the phone. Not helped by the fact that the live stream to the phone starts to break up after about 20 metres.
  2. Cold is absolutely no good for battery life – I got just over 15 mins of flight time from each battery
  3. “Buttons are not toys”. If you randomly press things when flying a drone weird things will happen which will totally freak you out. If you want to see what I mean, forward the video to 2.44!
  4. You really do need a good open trail to film BUT the opportunities for awesome camera angles are just brilliant

So the next plan is to try out both the “follow me’ functionality as well as the waypoint flying stuff. I suspect if I’m honest the drone is probably better at flying itself than I will ever be. However, I do need get out on the bike and film some TFITers coming down the same trail – what could possibly go wrong?

Well hello there 2017 you little minx

Hoorah. Huzzah. It’s yet another New Year.

Despite the fact I am still suffering from #ohmygodimbackatworkwhyohwhyohwhy syndrome, and we are in the throws of January’s alternating mud/ice fest AND I’m very light in the ‘bum on seat’ time you’ve gotta love a new year with all the potential shenanigans ahead.

So last night was the first TFIT of 2017 and it was all about “slightly” new trails with Mr F leading us out to Crooksbury and Monks Hill. It was a very unfriendly -4 on the trails which is a little unfriendly but by God it was rolling well. The winter weather also lead to a severe case of ‘winteritis’ with slightly frozen droppers, brakes and very much for James G who’s YT Capra sounded like it was murdering a budgie for the entire ride.

But Crooksbury also provided a bit of a revelation – a well constructed trail with lovingly crafted berms, rollers and gaps – well done Surrey trail pixies, you’ve been busy once again. Mr F has also provided a video of the trail in the daylight – he thinks of everything!

And speaking of videos, I saw this on Pinkbike yesterday – “4 Seasons at Bike Park Wales” which is just generally and all round awesome film but is also interesting as it looks like a lot of the shots are filmed via drone. It looks awesome – helped by the fact that all the riders are rather talented!

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