Monday, March 29, 2010

Dangerous Dave Returns!

Since the crash that killed the Gemini frame, I’ve suffered from a severe lack of confidence in anything that involves getting my wheels off the ground. Sure I’ll pop a little hop or jump over a root or log jump on an XC loop but as soon as the full face goes on, my entire mindset changes and I spend my entire time thinking “what if?” even before hitting things I’ve mastered previously.

A lot of this was down to me and my Judge being utterly incompatible, no matter how hard I tried it just felt wrong… however, I now have a new DH frame (blog to follow in due course when it’s finished!) which has put the fun back into riding and in addition increased my confidence…

To help with this I’ve been paying some visits to Chicksands on a Sunday morning with some mates. This Sunday was my second visit so far, and I am happy to report that the Dangerous Dave of old is resurfacing! Racing down the dual I found myself enjoying the air time and pushing harder and harder to clear jumps or go higher rather than shying away and s****ing myself. There’s still a good way to go and I hope I can get there before I head out to France this year but I’m starting to remember I can jump and drop off things without concussing myself and as a result I’m starting to enjoy riding again rather than kicking myself for being such a wus!
This Sunday I was also lucky enough to get a good shot of me “styling” it up over one of the jumps on the dual!

Conditions were good with some slush on parts from the recent rain fall but overall, both the dual and 4x track were running nice and fast.

It’s also been the first time I’ve ridden the Meta since the last time it came out on a Knobblies ride, it had been decommissioned to bring the Chameleon back from retirement for Afan. Eagle eyed viewers will note the absence of the Pikes; those that were with me at Afan will remember me spending the entire time cursing them and on returning home I looked into converting them to coil and getting the PUSH rebound damper fitted. Given the cost involved and that the coil kit is incompatible with the UTURN Air chassis, I binned this idea, deciding not to polish a turd and plumped for some Marz 55 customised with RC3 and air cartridges. I must say it was a good decision, although the weight is up the performance gains are massive and that big 35mm stanchion chassis makes light work of badly landed jumps and rock sections.

Precious Metal - Duster Ti

It has been a while since I indulged my addiction to bike building, but when I spotted a Charge Duster Ti frame on Singletrack Classifieds some weeks back it all kicked off again!
The long cold winter had made me think about rationalising my choice of bikes. The 5-Spot is now refined to the point I am completely happy with it for the rougher stuff. The other bike that I use most is the S-Works hardtail, but with only 80mm of travel I had been thinking of a longer travel hardtail. The Duster is about the same weight as the S-Works, but a more comfortable ride in theory.
Although I did carry over some bits from other bikes, the classifieds provided some quality bits to add to match my 'niche' frame - you will notice a red theme, (not sure what came over me here). Brakes are Avid Elixir, shifters SRAM X-9 with matching front mech and X-0 rear. Cranks came from On-One sale -FSA MegaExo Carbon 170mm. I did a deal with a guy on Ebay for the Fox F100RL forks. Wheels are Bontranger Rhythm tubeless ready off a Trek - came new with tyres, but I have added a pair of Racing Ralphs.

The 'build' did stretch out over more weeks than I had hoped and provided one or two challenges - the biggest puzzle was that the rear mech mounting fouled the chain as the hanger is quite thin and I ended up making a washer to solve this conflict.
Last Friday it all came together and I was able to get out for the first ride. The geometry and set-up is very different to the S-Works, which is now really set up as a road bike, so it felt like much harder work in places. I think the 2.25 tyres may be a bit OTT, but do offer a good ride. Trying a Fizik Gobi saddle again and this feel good, but realised that the seatpost is slipping down, which partially explained why it felt like hard work at times.
Sunday saw a longer ride with some nice off road sections - pleased to say that it felt very comfy and agile, so feel I am getting used to it. I had tried and given up on SRAM shifters before, but this time I am completely sold they work perfectly and I love the space-saver mounts on the Avids. Some will remember that i had 170mm cranks once before, (without knowing it), hopefully I wont regret this choice...certainly smaller tyres might just make it all a bit easier on the legs.
It will be sad to see the Specialized hardtail go, it has been with me a long time now and has covered more miles than any other bike, but hopefully the Duster will serve just as well and be a bit more versatile.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Harelstone Firs - Spring is here!!

If you live in Northamptonshire and enjoy Mountain Biking it is going to hard to find anything exciting locally. Harlestone Firs is one of the only places where you can find anything vaguely like singletrack. It has been used for off-road riding for years - though you have to share it with dog walkers, horse riders and (illegal) dirt-bikes.
Dahnhilla has been suggesting we have a look at his local patch again as some new bits of singletrack have appeared - mysterious trail fairies inhabit these woods ;-)
It was great to be out on the 5-Spot again, the sun was shining and the trails were relatively dry. We enjoyed some tight and twisty sections through the trees that reminded me a bit of Cannock and then cranked along some wide paths until my local guide dived off into the trees again.
Quite a compact area, but worth a couple of circuits and some exploring - if you look at the map you will see that a longer ride could be made up from bridleways that lead away from the woods. For those that way inclined there are some jumps amongst the trees too. Watch out for the ants in the summer !
Thanks Dahnhilla, a great kick start to 2010 trail riding and now I am keen to get some more miles in before long.
Posse: dahnhilla; SC Chameleon; uphilla: Turner
Weather: Clear and Sunny, but cold
Mechanicals: None.