It’s not often that I get the chance for a full day out on the hills, so when the chance of a whole Easter Saturday out came up I grabbed it with both hands. The weather forecast looked good, although cold, so I decided to have another crack at an old favourite, a nice big loop down on the Isle of Purbeck. I got in touch with my buddy Pete who has ridden down there quite a lot and does a slightly different loop to my normal one. So the aim was to get the good bits in, find some new bits, and of course stop for the odd bit of cake en route.
I forgot the GoPro, but remembered my FlipCam, so although I took some video the on bike stuff is rather shaky as I was riding one handed!!
Mike got in touch, he was looking for a skills tune up, he’s been riding a long time and has a lot of experience having done events like the Mega Avalanche. Stanmer Park was incredibly chilly yet again, where is spring exactly? Having said that though the trails have started to dry out nicely.
We headed on out into the singletrack and after a quick chat about body positioning and what we were going to be looking at Mike decided to make a change to his brake lever positioning to help with the process. So we started off with cornering, repeating the same singletrack section and gradually adding the the various elements. I took it in turns to ride both in front and behind Mike, giving him a ‘gentle reminder’ on each element as we went. Then we moved on to one of the steeper trails that has more switchbacked corners just to cement what we had done thus far.
Then we dropped in the tea rooms for a quick mid-flight refuel before heading off to the university side for some more singletrack. We did several runs down ‘Buzz Lightyear’ reinforcing the work we’d done already, then adding in pumping the terrain for some extra free speed.
Then we had a look at getting over trail obstacles, and did some manualling and rear wheel lifts, finishing with bunny hops.
We went back down to the car taking in as many bits of singletrack as we could before stopping for a final wheelie session on the grass as Mike was looking to impress his daughters next time they go out!
A really fun session with loads of (almost) dry singletrack at last
I’ve been guiding the rides on Quest Adventure‘s demo day for a few years now and there seems to be an underlying feature, rain and mud! When my alarm clock went off I looked at the window straight away and was rather gutted to see the rain still hammering on it. A quick look on the excellent Rain today showed that it wouldn’t be raining for too much longer, so I got up safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be needing a snorkel for the day!
As we have seen in the past despite the conditions mountain bikers are a hardy bunch, and with the year we’ve just had we have to be don’t we? So there were good groups booked on for each of the four demo rides. The shop is ideally placed as it allows a 5.2 mile loop with a mixture of climbing and descending that allows you to get a good feel for a bike and takes around forty five minutes depending on conditions.
Ride 1 group
I rode my first 29er back in July 2010 when I went on the Scott dealer trip that year and it’s amazing to see in that small space of time how much they have taken over, many riders were keen to have their first spin on a 29er though and there were loads to choose from. Amazingly the ONLY 26″ wheeled bike there was the Whyte 146 (which proved popular). I took the opportunity to try the Niner Jet 9 carbon, Scott Genius 720, Whyte M109 and Scott Scale 920. All 29ers except the Scott Genius 720 which is the ‘new kid on the block’ 650B wheel size for inbetweeners. At every stop on every ride the conversation was all about the wheel size and people’s feelings on what it did for them.
Discussing the finer points of 29ers!
So what did I think?
Well I don’t have space for it all here, but the two stand outs for me are the Whyte and the Niner, but for entirely different reasons. The Whyte M109 has been specced with Whyte’s own carbon rimmed wheelset, you should not underestimate the difference this makes. It’s not the lightest of bikes, but the wheels turn it into a fast responsive beast that eggs you on to ride it quickly. They’re stiff, seem to track really well and just make the bike come alive, really nice.
Niner Jet 9 Carbon – Can I keep it? Can I? Can I?
Top honours must go to the Niner though. Of course you’d hope that this would be the case for a bike when the frame alone costs £2599! I’d not ridden a Niner before though and had no preconceptions of what it was like. However it gets the best praise because I did the ride and never thought about the bike at all, not even for a second! It’s rare to get on a demo bike and feel completely at home, but the Niner was simply amazing. I usually end up riding a demo and thinking “well I’d change this and this” but I couldn’t even tell you what parts it had as it just got on with the job. Nice. So if you’re in the market for a superbike get yourself a demo on this, you won’t be disappointed!
A quick mention must go to my new Endura Stealth jacket (the green one in the picture above) as my friends will tell you I always end up shivering at the slightest pause in proceedings, but I was well layered up with my Baa Baa top, shirt and winter training top with the Stealth on top, toasty!!
So anyway, to wrap up, another great day, lots of happy mud splattered faces, lots of bikes to ride, Good times
This Saturday is the Quest Adventure demo day, I can’t believe a year has passed again already, mores the point this time last year I was not able to ride. What a difference a year makes!
So as per usual there are a nice selection of bikes to try, I will be guiding the demo rides and you’ll get round about an hour on the downs, so it’s a good opportunity to get a really good feel for a bike.
For full details contact the shop, all the details are on this page.
Amazingly the sun decided to shine today, although everywhere is still very muddy as the snow is still melting away, there’s still some around in places! I decided to take the ‘cross bike out as I haven’t used it for ages, though my intention was to stay on the sea front cycle path and stay dry and clean.
The weather was so nice though that I went up the Downs Link and as the tide was out I did the secret riverbank singletrack. By the time I got up to the cement works I was relishing the off road fun, so I decided to go cross country up through Combes Farm and across to the Steyning Bostal road.
So I did a bit more than I intended and certainly got a lot muddier than intended, great fun though
So this was the very last week of the workshops for the FitBitch Boot Camp performance team. We’ve done a MTB skills session, three guided rides and to finish it off I’d organised a navigation session. The team are doing an adventure race in a couple of weeks time and the navigation is a big part of it. I got up early and headed off into Stanmer Park with a bit of map printed off, a pen and some green electrical tape!
I gave them six checkpoints, each worth ten points, and sixty minutes to find them all, with two points deducted for every minute over the hour.
So in the end we took seventy minutes, but found all the checkpoints and so there were deductions. Despite the high wind and rain we all had a great time before hitting the tea rooms for a hot beverage, to be used as a handwarmer, while we also covered how to change an inner tube if punctured.
It was misty and murky for this ride, fortunately not too cold though. We had a good group of six for this ride, we went over some of the techniques we had covered previously, rode some of Stanmer’s sweet singletrack sections. There was even a return of the ‘singing in the singletrack’ – I know it so well
Richard got in touch, although he has been riding a long time and is fit he felt he needed a bit more help finding that all important ‘flow’ on the singletrack and descents. Amazingly the weather decided to play ball for the first time in a long time and it was sun, dry trails and no coats, hurrah!!
Richard is a fellow Kinesis rider although he currently opts for a rigid carbon fork, while this is great during the winter from a maintenance perspective when the speed comes up a bit as the trails dry out there’s no denying that (for most anyway) the addition comfort and control a suspension fork offers is the way to go. Indeed if you look at my FF29 now I’ve ‘given in’ and gone for a X Fusion fork to smooth things out a bit.
So we headed out on to sunny trails and rode some sweet singletrack before stopping to take a look at body position, footwork and looking. Then going into line choices and braking too.
Thinking inside the box!
After that we looked at bermed corners and slightly more complex descents.
Before moving on to clearing trail obstacles and manualing.
Finishing off with a whole load of lush, dry singletrack to reinforce what we had been looking at.
The second guided ride for the FitBitch Boot Camp performance team turned out to be considerably warmer than the previous one thank goodness! We were back at Stanmer Park and trail conditions were excellent. We went back over some of the techniques that we’d looked at the first week and generally reinforced them, whilst riding lots of lush, mud free singletrack