Monday, January 30, 2006

2006 LED Lights

Over at I stumbled across this LED light test, including offerings from the likes of DiNotte, Princeton Tec, NIght Hawk, Light and Motion, CygoLite, Blackburn, CatEye.

They're getting better...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Roam Trailer

New Collective Teaser trailer is out, I can’t believe they film it in a sleeping bag, hanging from a rope! Looks very good.

Link to Roam

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

7Stanes : Glentrool

Dudes, Just got the 7 Stames news letter and there's a new 58km route at Glentrool, they reckon 5-9 hours. But there's no singletrack...

Link to the PDF Map

"Glentrool is located in the heart of Galloway Forest Park. It's a fascinating area rich in beauty and home to the south of Scotland's highest mountain รข€" the magnificent Merrick. With all that rugged landscape at your disposal then you'd expect a mountain bike trail to be there somewhere! Well... now there is! The Glentrool Big Country ride is now fully waymarked and open. No single track on this one but 58km of forest tracks and minor public roads. On a good day it packs some of the best views in this part of the world. Be warned though, in bad weather it will feel a very long way and the big climb of the route (200m) comes when you are 40km out and there are no short cuts. Enjoy! If touring amongst brilliant landscapes is your bag then Glentrool is the one for you."

Hope Website

As most of the posse have at least one Hope bauble adorning their steed(s) I thought you'd appreciate a "heads up" about their new website,

It certainly looks mucho slicker than their ealier version, - which remains accessible and still contains their Technical documentation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

AE Line and Kirroughtree weekend

Hello Dudes

Last weekend we did two 7 Stanes courses; AE line red on the Saturday and Kirroughtree red\black on the Sunday. We stayed at the Clachan Inn in Dalry, on the Saturday night, I would highly recommend this pub\B&B, the accommodation and the food was excellent (£30 pppn).

AE line - Red 16.5mile 3 hours 15mins

AE was the last 7 Stanes course to be built and I bet they're still smiling now; this course has more air time, then Evil Knievel. There's some excellent downhill sections with table tops, rollers, drop offs galore and the biggest berms I've ever seen. I’d read on some of the forum’s, that people didn’t like the red at AE and I can see why, but what goes up, must come down and you get rewarded, especially in the last 3 miles. I particularly liked the alternatives routes, where you could choose either red or black. I’m already looking forward to going back and improving my jumping technique. AE Line Photo's

Kirroughtree - Red\Black 20.4miles 4 3/4hours

This is one of the best courses I've ever ridden; in fact, it’s probably is the best course. There's just so much rolling singletrack it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t possibly describe how good this course is, you NEED to try it yourself.

I also tried the double black diamond Chute on McMoab and that was some rush (view from the top) Kirroughtree Photo's

I can see why the 7 Stanes has been voted the best mountain biking in the world. Awards 2004, 2005.

We had a quality weekend with no injuries and only two punctures. We’ll defo be going back very soon.

This was my 5th outing on the 5 spot and I’m still completely blown away how much better this bike gets, it has definitely improved my riding\technique and increased the fun factor ten fold.

Monday, January 23, 2006

PSA : Blog Warning

After changing our MTBing Blog URL / name from; to; may find the odd link that is invalid. Please hit your browsers Refresh icon (F5, Ctrl-F5) to ensure that you've retrieved the latest version of a particular page and retest the link. If it's still broken then please email me with the details. Thank you for your patience.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

To Ride or To Row ?

At this time of year, this is what happens when you ride over at Woburn.

Earlier this wk, the 5Spot was spotless(!) prior to a 2.5hrs bash over/around/back from the woods.
How are your trails ?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Smart goes HID !

BikeMagic report : Smart lights have, up until now, been known primarily for inexpensive offerings, but it's upping the ante with its first foray into HID lights. The Smart HID is a very tidy bit of kit, housing the lamp, electronics and battery in one quick-release bar mounted unit which is ideal for commuters. The battery slides out and drops into a docking-station style charger. You'll get a claimed 3hrs on low beam and 2.5hrs on high. The light unit and battery weighs 417g, which isn't at all shabby. It's a penny under three hundred quid, which in today's light market somehow manages not to look bad in the value stakes. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Blogs, Podcasts and Vodcasts

Hello Dudes
Thought I’d post some Blogs, Podcasts and Vodcasts that I’ve stumbled across on the interweb.

North Shore Mountain Biking e.Magazine - check out the video of the north shore completely insane
Sideways Cycles based in Cheshire, stumbled across this in the singletrack forums.

Singletrack Magazine – Its not bad, the interview with Matt from pace was good
To subscribe with iTunes - go to the 'Advanced' tab and select 'Subscribe to Podcast'. Drop this url..
Good round up of what’s happening in the world mountain biking, I did fast forward some of it, mainly local news.
To subscribe in iTunes (cut and paste)

West Coast Style TV - Mountain Biking Instruction
West Coast Style - Freeride Fundamentals is the culmination of over 20 years of mountain bike training from world-class instructors Joan Jones and Damiann Skelton of the West Coast School of Mountain ... To subscribe in iTunes
TrailTapes Mountain Biking Videos Web site
To subscribe in iTunes (cut and paste)

Enjoy Toons

Monday, January 16, 2006

Brampton Valley Way

Earlier today, Chipmunk & I ventured up to Northampton and decided to try our knobblies on the old disused railway that runs between Northampton to Market Harborough, the Brampton Valley Way. Part of the Sustrans cycle network that straddles Leicestershire and Northants.

We'd had a bash at this a couple of years ago and found that the initial section from Northampton is very busy with pedestrians and train spotters. So this time we started a few miles further north beyond the railway tracks. The track gains altitude gently, is wide, would be fast if it were dry - which it wasn't and is ideal for families.

Our route clocked over 23 miles and to ride it all, both ways, should be over 30miles. Tracklogs available here.

We were surprised by the two very long tunnels and after attempting to cycle through we dismounted as they simply weren't safe to cycle without lights, so onwards we plodded. We'll be back with illumination next time, which'll be a blast. I reckon one of 'em was close to a mile long, certainly 3/4's mile. On the return leg we looped up and over the long tunnel, which was very challenging in the gloopy mud.

If we'd have started earlier then we might have even managed some warm food and a beer in MH but as time was ticking (short day & no lights) we only managed a sandwich from Sainsbury's. I know how to treat a gal !

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Trek Fuel 80

This is my bike, it is a Trek Fuel 80, 2001. having an air shock is great because i can change the stiffness as i grow.

On the subject of changing, we have changed the pedals to CODA which are very easy to use, and are very smooth.

We have also changed the front brake to a disc, which also meant we changed the hubs to good old shimano iso6, on both ends.

The frame itself doesnt have a disc brake mount on the back, would be interested if anyone out there has experience with the Woodman v to disc converter, or similar ?

New Bike: Turner Flux

Turner Flux'05 with Horst Link built Jan 06 Supplied by Roundels courtesy of Cyclesurgery.

Planned changes, the SRAM front mech is going, it’s too ugly and frustrating as it’s so easy to fit and works so well. Maybe a slightly longer stem in order to get a touch more front end grip. Brakes ? Perhaps Magura Marta SL ideally but need to work out if I can modify a 180mm front to fit the rear. Otherwise perhaps the wildly expensive Avid Juicy Carbon 180mm. Oh and those tyres are outa here, AC-X 2.1 Bontrager's for me. This bike also deserves a pair of rapid Bonty race lite wheels too.

Impressions of the bike, it’s fast, despite the very draggy Cinders (they only do this when they’re part worn and on road) endless rear end traction, not so much front traction downhill. Pro-pedal setting and lock down fork make it faster still. On the flat it easily out runs my trusty Jekyll, on the gnarly stuff the way it copes with the surface and provides a strong flat pedalling platform is brilliant. Climbing it’s as good as the Cannondale and surprisingly no better despite less weight and nothing handles like a well set up Cannondale albeit you have to be brave cos when it goes, it’s gone. The Flux is much more forgiving and you feel much more “in” than “on” it.

Overall the Flux is a fabulous ride, superbly efficient and direct whilst still managing to be comfortable, like Trek’s FuelEx you think the suspension hasn’t moved until you stop and realise it’s been working overtime.

In comparison to Farqui's 5Spot? Technically, it’s longer and lower with less rear travel (4” instead of 5”) and a touch lighter, but not much. Both share the same, increasing rare yet long established Horst Link rear suspension - new Turner frames now have a Trek-esque pivot point tag'd TNT. Geometry is slightly more XC at 70 deg. The Spot is deeper, more accurate and more comfortable. The Flux feels quicker, if possible more rear traction and potentially more agile but both are so good in this respect compared to anything I’ve ever ridden. You feel like the wheels are your hands and feet and you can put them anywhere you want. I think this is a consequence of the superb balance front to back and low centre of gravity, well done mrTurner.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

PSA: Fox Shox "stuck down" ?

If anyone is running a Fox rear shox then you ought to check the following announcement which details a "stuck down" issue experienced by some users, typically in cold conditions.

Thread over at MTBR.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wire Between Trees - Notts

reported by the BBC yesterday...Police are warning anyone who uses a stretch of woodland where wires were deliberately tied between trees. One cyclist was injured slightly when riding his bike in Ransom Wood off the Rainworth bypass in Nottinghamshire. The 37-year-old cyclist was saved from severe injury by his helmet, which took the force of the impact with the head-height wire.

Officers are also concerned that if a motorcyclist hit the wire they could be seriously, if not fatally, injured. Pc John Albanese said: "If they hit the wire at anything faster than 10mph they would be seriously injured, perhaps even decapitated." He added: "It could be the work of a prankster, but it is more likely a crude attempt to stop illegal off-road bikers from using the path. "It may seem a justified course of action to whoever did this, but their method is very dangerous and could cost someone their life."

...which has sparked an "enthusiastic" thread over at SingleTrackWorld.

Shimano DX pedals - who needs SPDs!

I love my bike, but not that much that I want be anything more than losely attached. Last summer, fed up with being viewed as an oddity for using flats, I gave SPD's a go and over one of my regular routes the average speed was exactly the same as with flats - maybe I was not trying hard enough? So back to my V12's.

In a moment of boredom I was looking around for something different to replace the Specialized pedals on my full susser and, having heard David waxing lyrical about Shimano DX pedals, I picked up a pair from Ebay. When David immediately wanted to buy them off me I was intrigued to see how they performed and now after some months I can see why he was so keen. The grip is fantastic and so far I have only once suffered the dreaded whack in the shin that is the major disadvantage of flats.

The trick with flat pedals is to use the right shoes, until now I've used DC skate shoes which have stiff soles and a pattern that locks to the raised pins. David now tells me that the shoe to have is a Five.Ten - has a special compound sole that grips like the proverbial.I have bought some Shimano shoes to try as these have also had rave reviews and will allow me to try SPD's again if I feel like it - I also like the lace cover which will save some cleaning!

Will let you know later how these work out, Shimano MX-30 DX pedals.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Afan - north shore

I see that the Whytes Trail at Afan now has some north shore style sections that tranverse particularly muddy spots. More pic's here.

With raised sections get more and more common (Cannock and Sherwood Pines, etc) it seems that we're going to have to take a mental leap and get confident riding off the ground...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Woburn Jan 7th

Rob & I joined up today so that he could see in daylight what Woburn has to offer - all his previous visits have all been under darkness. I also wanted to kick start an Xmas weight loss program and to try and blow away the remains of a cold.

A 1pm start was agreed but Rob was running a little late before he then told me that he'd forgotten his helmet ! When he finally turned up he'd also initially left behind his jacket, which was definitely needed today as it was cold (1.5C) and very damp. With the late-ish start and my cold, we whimped out on a cycle to/from the woods and met by the "play area" off the A5130 between Woburn Sands and Woburn.

The trail itself was very entertaining as the mud was an ideal mix that kept the ride interesting but not excessively wet. In total contrast to Xmas eve which was almost dry and much faster. Fast wasn't on my agenda today as my cold was making my chest tight and strangling the lungs, it often felt like just one was working ! Even tho the ground was fairly wet, plenty of grip was available and not many sections caught us out. Although the damp roots still caused a few dismounts.

We also found a great new, albeit short section located on the Danesborough loop before the rooty end, which was has challenging climb and rewarded with a steep drop back to the main trail. The singletrack around the southern edge is now a definite alternative to the wide, horse trodden bridleway. It was good to see the "play area"/jump pit in daylight again and plenty of big machinery was hooning around in there, which helped keep me entertained whilst Rob explored a few trails on my 5Spot.

All in all, a great start to 2006 and although my cold still lingers it's not about to stop me getting the knobblies out.

Friday, January 06, 2006

ALDI CYCLING KIT 2005 - Review

If you hang out on any of the MTB related Forums you will have seen mention of the various cycling clothing etc. that ALDI put out as one of their weekly specials annually. People always ask if the stuff is any good. I have bought a number of items in the past as I did this year and thought it might be worth feeding back after some weeks of use. Items bought this year were: Winter Cycling Trousers; Winter Cycling Gloves; Overshoes; Socks; Hydration Rucksack. There were shoes, spd pedals, shirts, thermal underwear and more on offer.

First thing I noticed this time was that the colour choices were better - some of the past offerings may have been fine, but there is no way you would have been seen in the colour combinations.

Gloves proved to comfy and reasonably warm, but I have now had to buy a better pair for freezing days as they are not that well insulated - will do fine for Spring/Autumn and at £3.99 a pair would be recommended.

Trousers and Jacket have now become my standard wear for cold days, they are comfy, keep the wind out and look fine if not as stylish as branded wear. Trousers could use a bit more padding and i guess the jacket is not that 'breathable', but again at under £10 per item, highly recommended.

Overshoes proved to be a mistake, they are intended to fit over slim cycling shoes and will not go near my 'Skate Shoes'. The zips are reported to be not that durable.

I still had my hydration back pack from the previous year and it serves me well both for liquid intake and carrying tools, spares and snacks, (it has plenty of storage inside and out - thoughtful things like exits for headphones.) The zips gave up on one of last year's bags, will have to wait and see if they have improved then this time - I have bought more for our family skiing trip because at £8.99 each they can't be beat. My main dislike is of the mouthpiece of the bladder, the on-off valve is stiff and when left open is not drip free as claimed. Could easily and cheaply be replaced with another bladder which would make it a perfect back pack!

Will try to add some photos later.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2005 Roundup

Before we jump head long into a whole heap of 2006 rides I thought it'd be cool to review 2005 before it all becomes a distant memory. You know the kinda thang; achievements/goals, highlights, lowlights, etc. Here's my contribution and please feel free to add your own...
  • 5Spot : One of my top highlights has got to be acquiring a new bike along with loads of sparkly new bits and building a steed from the boxes up - another 1st. Sourcing these items from abroad saved me a few bob rather than coughing up Taxes, which was gratifying.
  • Afan : A wkend riding the fabulous Welsh trails at Afan (new to me) with a fine posse of riders and cabin "loungers" making it even more special. The awesome weather helped too.
  • Marin : A serious low was hearing that Brumster had lost his Marin complete with a PUSH'd rear shock and spankin' Pace carbon fork. Neither of which were tried in anger before some half wit turned his pad upside down.
  • Chipmunk : Acquired a new steed over the summer (hurrah, something else for me to "fettle") and I've since seen her confidence and enthusiasm grow ride after ride, truely heart warming.
  • Ridgeway : This lengthy ride was a mixture of success at having ridden so far (way further than before) but also regret at not completing the whole route and abandoning Drudus-maxi-pedalus. Though I was still able to walk afterwards which I mightn't had I continued.
  • Cannock : A thoroughly wet ride around the Chase brought more low's than any other '05 ride, literally - as I struggled to stay upright. Which seemed to be a catalyst for lots more "offs" over the following few weeks. "Chicks dig scars" right ? I still enjoyed the ride though.
  • Posse : Riding pals often make an average ride much more enjoyable and this year I've been lucky enough to almost now be able to loose the "Billy no mates" tag. I've seen Brumster take the reigns of my trusty ol'Marin and watching his enthusiasm for our sport grow has warmed my cockles. Meeting and riding with the colourful Westoning crew, now means that I don't always ride my laocal, gnarly trails on my own. Watching (albeit from afar) Roger and his little'uns gain an interested in the sport. Meeting and riding with Uphilla (another 5Spot owner) and his little posse has been...entertaining ;-) Lastly and by no means least, my foreign 5Spot purchase introduced to me Chaybo (a MTB nut over in Montana) who is a top bloke and now someday deserves to see just how badly I ride.
  • Fitness : Has steadily improved throughout the year which is no doubt attributed to a longer commute since Feb'05. I also came very close to accumulating 3k miles cranking (combined recreation + commute) which is a grand result after a slack 2004 (when I only managed 1/3rd of the '05 miles).
At the start of '05 I set out to improve my riding (as I try to year on year) and I'm happy to report that I now find myself riding much knarlier terrain than before. I'm also fitter, able to ride further and harder whilst still enjoying the trails.

There's still room for improvement though, which is why 2006 is going to be so much fun...

Hope Pro II hub weights & pics....

Larry (MtnHighCyclery) has posted a thread on MTBR about the much anticipated new Hope hubs. As the old ones weren't too shabby, they've taken a while to release 'em and all early reports appear to be favourable, I hope that these are the biz. Check it out if you're after some decent quality spinners but don't want to shell out for Chris Kings or Hadleys.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

BIKEmagic - Follow The Dog gets decked

I see that the Cannock trail builders have been busy as they've now introduced a snazzy boardwalk to an especially boggy section of the Follow The Dog trail. More here.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hiawatha Trail

It's been awhile since i posted anything so i thought i'd share a few pics from a family bike ride last summer. This particular trail is part of the Old Milwaukee of the first RR lines heading West from back in the gold rush days. Towns would establish overnight back then, and many of those old railroad towns are now ghost or decayed. You can still research them and even along the Hiawatha trail you can see visible evidence of life...old leather cowboy boots, shriveled up to an un-noticeable state. Glass...from 100's of broken beer and whiskey bottles mostly centered around the old whiskey saloons and even remnants of old structures. Most of the towns catered to the old boys and gals who made working and traveling on the railway their life.....brothels, and watering holes were a necessity it seems.

But anyway......and now, here in the states converting those old railways into recreational trails is very popular. You can find them in just about every state, and here in Montana and Idaho we have the proclaimed "Hiawatha" , and it's about as scenic as she gets. Along the 15 mile route you encounter countless old tunels, many require a front lamp to make it thru. My kids absolutely loved'em. The surface is crushed limestone and the grade is fairly's just a nice relaxing ride, one that i try to do about once per year.

I'll try to edit in a link a little later