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Moove Torque Flat Pedals

timfromwales:

A brief pedal review from my other blog. That is all…

Originally posted on The Gear Factor:

Moove MTB Torque Flat Pedals

Haven’t written a review for a while, but finally I have some new gear to share my thoughts on. Flat pedals are a pretty key part of your MTB set up: without them how are you going to rotate the cranks, to turn the wheels, to climb that hill, so you can come down again with a big smile on your face?

My Alpitude was crying out for a bit of bling and so what better way than to add some orange pedals. I will admit that my first stop was SuperStarComponents – having already had a more than satisfactory experience with their Nano Thru Pin Flats there was no doubt I was going to start with their pedals. However, no orange in stock! Time to moove on.

I had seen some favourable review of the Moove pedals and they looked pretty similar so I gave them a call and…

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Ryan Leech wheelie e-learning

Ryan Leech has got some skills. I think I first spotted him on Extreme Sports Ride Guide mountain bike show. It was a kind travel programme for mountain bikers – only one episode was in the UK which is a shame, but it was great to see some cool riding and stunning locations from around the world.

Anyway, Ryan is a trials rider and in one or two episodes demonstrates his Danny Mackaskill’s and hopes around some rocks by a mountain lake and in another rides with Hans Rey.

But here we are with what I think might be a first – a paid for ‘learn how to wheelie’ course with a legend but in the form of webisodes (videos etc) delivered weekly on the internet. I am intrigued and am considering subscribing for the $30 fee just to see how he presents a wheelie course on line like this.

Here’s the link for you to see for yourself –

http://www.ryanleech.com/wheelies/

Scouting new MTB routes

#SingleTrackSunday #tongueoutflatout #mtb #traildog #wiltshire #sunny #springishere

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

One of the many benefits of getting a dog has been the additional exercise and fresh air that we collectively as a family have been getting. For me, a nice long dog walk also provides opportunities to check out new riding spots. Taking the gamble on the bike of hoping over a fence or into some woods can be fruitless and a bit of a drag if there is nothing to ride there. But with the dog its never a waste of time as we get to explore and just walk somewhere different.

We have explored a few spots this way and I have been able to add some extra loops to my local riding routes.

Cool tree #lonelytree #wiltshire

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

I also like riding alone to scout out new spots – nobody else to let down if you hike up a hill or through some woods to find nothing. The days are getting longer and a little drier (though not today) so there will be more opportunity to ride and dog walk in the light soon and more hidden gems to find on my doorstep.

If it felt like spring on Wednesday, then it feels like summer today #mtb #wilthsire #bikelife

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

Right now I am planning a route for tomorrow’s group ride that will take my fellow riders to new spots and show them new sections to link up our usual trails.

#singletracksunday but no bike with me – must come back #mtb #wiltshire

A photo posted by Tim Norris (@_timfromwales) on

Lead the way

fodmtb ride with a guide

There is nothing more satisfying for me as a mountain biker than riding somewhere new. Riding in a new location, twisting along singletrack and dropping into bomb holes that I have never seen before brings back the thrill of my first mountain bike rides.

So when I saw that FOD MTB did guided rides through the Forest of Dean I knew it had to be done. The trail centre is one of my favourites with its natural feel and great mix of singletrack and technical features – so a ride away from the sign posted routes was going to be interesting.

It was an early start for us and we left at around 7am to be sure we got to the Pedalabikeaway centre in plenty of time for our start at 9am. We met Paul and Mattie (our guides for the morning) and a few other riders for a safety briefing before heading off.

Starting with some fire road and a short section of the Verderers, we soon picked up part of the Enduro route. These routes are off the beaten track and not maintained like the main trails, so extra caution is needed as they are not cleared of sticks, rocks or leaves. Jumps, drops and stream crossings do not necessarily have clearly defined entrances or exit points so listening to some basic advice from the guides is vital.

Each section of trail was clearly explained before we rode it; this was everything from a simple just “follow me and try not to fall in the water” to a proper stop and look at a jump or drop to see if you felt you had the nerve or the skill to have a go.

Before long we were twisting our way through parts of the forest that I had never been to before and we were heading for the first of the surprises Paul had in store for us. At well paced intervals we were met with a drop or small jump to test our skill and nerve, between them was some great singletrack and natural riding. No berms or table tops, no wooden bridges to cross streams – all natural twisty trails.

The first half of our ride culminated in a huge near vertical drop followed immediately by some steep loamy trail and another technical drop onto a fire road. Straight after we were into a fast flowy section that had everyone smiling.

Only the guides did the big drop – it was really big and steep and the whole section was probably one of the most technical parts of the ride. We will be going back to take another look no doubt.

As the ride progressed, we were met with more trail features and some pretty big jumps – not to be taken lightly! I was pleased with myself for doing the jumps I did, and equally as happy to have not done to ones I avoided. All the time the guides gave us plenty of notice and time to take a look before attempting them. The only pressure you were under to jump a stream or gap was your own.

This ride wasn’t just about nerve and skill, there was plenty of picturesque singletrack to enjoy also. One particular section will certainly be on the list for a visit with my camera as spring progresses as it promises to be full of bluebells.

The final section of the ride involved some of the jumps hinted at above. A small stream gap and some other jumps required confidence and commitment, not just because of the gaps involved but also the not so straightforward entry and exits. Definitely something to work up to, and to master, to fully appreciate the natural terrain.

In summary, the 4 of us that travelled from Calne had a great time and enjoyed some new experiences in terms of terrain and trail obstacles. Huge thanks to Paul and Mattie from FODMTB for showing us some of the lesser known parts of the Forest of Dean. I think I speak for us all in saying we thoroughly enjoyed it, would recommend to anyone and will be booking again so we can discover some more of the hidden gems of the forest.

For more info visit http://www.fodmtb.com

Cwmcarn broke me

March the 1st is St David’s day so it was only right we went to Wales to ride at Cwmcarn. My mate was demoing a new Whyte 650b full sus and he wanted to give it a proper test.

Cwmcarn is known for its brutal climbs that tests your fitness and your technical climbing ability. We were going to do both the Cafall and Twrch trails and boy was it gonna hurt.

The weather was great and we drove up the M4 and we were greeted by a practically full car park. Once we were unpacked and kitted up we headed off up the climb.

Cafall is about 400m up and offers a few moments of relief by way of some short downhill sections, but mostly it’s up through sections such as Quadzilla and the Hideout! At the top you descend following the signs and smiling.

It’s a great trail with some sections worthy of the Red grading. When we got to PowderHouse we took a right and headed for The Kaiser – this is the last section of a new down hill (extreme graded) section and we were in for a minute or so of big drops, roots and speed.

A tea and some some lunch later we headed back up, the other side of the valley this time, and started on the ascent of the Twrch trail. This is notoriously technical and tough. After we had already climbed then rested this was hard work. We typically only climb around 400m on a ride in Calne so having already done that size ride plus the added downhill workout, this was hard work.

To finish us off the weather took a turn for the worst and it even started snowing at one point!

It was an exhausting and tough afternoon, but we pushed on and finished the second trail. Then a quick change in the car park was followed by another tea and some light refreshments before heading back home.

It’s been a long time since I was completely exhausted and worn out after an mtb ride

Planning Ahead

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Sunday morning rides have been great over the last few months but its time to start going further afield. So I’m feeling pretty excited cos I have some proper biking plans on the calendar now.

1st March – This coming Saturday a few of us are off to Cwmcarn. A ride of the Twrch and the Cafall are in order I think. Should be fun and hard work all at the same time. Might even try the new DH run – PedalHounds I think its called.

21st March – This is going to be a proper bit of mountain biking. 4 of us have opted for a guided ride around some of the excellent singletrack at the Forest Of Dean. Singletrack descents, drops and maybe some adrenalin fueled nonsense!  GoPro will have to be charged with spare batteries for 3 hours of frolics in the forest.

16th April – North Wales Weekender with MB Swindon – This is my bike holiday for the year, unless I can squeeze in another weekend or two at some point.  We stay in Dolgellau and will be riding Coed-y-Brenin, maybe Llandegla, will be doing some classic local routes around Cadair Idris and the famous Pont Scethin trail as well as maybe hitting Cannock Chase on the way home.

1st May – May Day! May Day! Finally after a year of it being open I have myself an uplift booked for Bike Park Wales.  Nuff Said!

Stay tuned!

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Back in the saddle

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For the month of November I have felt like I have made far too many excuses not to get out on a bike.

I have had a lingering cold, but the other excuses have been a bit weaker.

1 – Hangover. Feeling very sorry for yourself the day after a heavy session feels like the right thing to do, but the truth is a little spin and plenty of rehydrating is the best cure. I know this cos I’ve done it before. So why have not done it recently?

2 – Wet, dark and cold. Come on – you’ve ridden in the winter before, get on with it!

3 – Not enough time. A few lazy weekends have left me me leaving it too late to get out and make the most of the day as other demands on my time encroach on riding time.

If I’m honest number 3 has been the most common excuse this last month, and it’s the weakest of the lot.

I often wax lyrical about having some half decent terrain and countryside to ride on my doorstep. Many a time I have been able to grab a quick ride and blast around 13-14 km in an hour or so – though that is so much more appealing in the spring and summer months.

Well today i dropped everything and went for a quick blast in the mud and setting sun.

Bike fitness fades quickly and I definitely noticed this today. Forgetting how quickly the sun goes down at this time of the year I went out at about 3.30pm and found myself racing home in the dark at about 4.45.

But I finally got on the bike for the first time in a month – that’s the important step.

Now I have to keep it up…