The DownHill Yearbook – your new Christmas Annual?

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I used to love getting a new “annual” for Christmas. Star Wars, Beano, Batman – whatever it was it would keep me occupied for weeks.  New comic strips, pictures to colour in, trivia, character bios, competitions etc.  It became an easy item for my Christmas list and would go in pride of place on my book shelves as my collections would grow.

Times change and I don’t get annuals for Christmas anymore for obvious reasons, I don’t really read comics but I am tempted to start on The Walking Dead…  But what has just been launched from some MTB industry folk – photographers and journos from the likes of DIRT, is what I hope will become my new Christmas Annual.

I give you Hurly Burly…. Well I don’t, but you know what I mean…

With contributions from – Alan Milway | Martin Whiteley | Nigel Reeve | Rachael Walker | Mike Rose | Victor Lucas | Chris Ball | Chris Kilmurray | Steve Jones | Paul Aston | John Parkin | Boris Beyer | Myriam Nicole | Ben Greenland | Ric McLaughlin

its a 200 page “hit-by-hit account” of the 2016 World Cup series and World Championships.

I’ve ordered mine and can’t wait to thumb through it.. Go find out more and get your copy at:

https://downhillyearbook.com/

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Photos Courtesy of DownHill YearBook

 

Ride Through Winter The Hard Way

The Hard Way to Tackle Winter Riding
A Winter’s HardTail

There are many reasons to own and of course ride a hardtail.

As a second bike (assuming your first is a full suspension MTB of some description) it makes perfect sense. We all know the N+1 rule – so why not get a hardtail as your second bike?

They are very fashionable at the moment and in the UK in particular we have a particular taste for them and often in steel. Maybe its the simplicity, maybe its our riding style or maybe its the marketing!

There are a bunch of UK manufacturers making a tidy living out of hardtails – Bird Cycleworks, BTR fabrications, Stanton, Charge, On One etc all have a great line in hardtails and do well in the UK.  I think the profile of XC racing and the 2012 Olympics has also raised the awareness of how capable a 29er hardtail can be and us cyclists do like a new bike.

Hardtail geometry is changing too.  Longer and slacker bikes are turning what was once a tame trail machine into an aggressive trail machine and with right set up a half decent all mountain or trail centre rig.  650b wheels and 140mm forks and I think you have a very capable all year round steed that can cope with most you can throw it at.

So the landscape is changing and hard tails are getting a new lease of life – but that’s not really what I was here to discuss. But it does mean that the list of reasons to ride or even advantages of riding a hardtail is now getting longer.

  • Cheaper – With no rear shock, suspension linkage, bearings etc the set up become simpler and less costly.
  • Lighter – For the same reasons above the bike is simpler and therefore lighter.
  • Quicker – Yes they can be quicker. Shedding the weight and having a direct drive to the rear wheel with no suspension bobbing, acceleration and speed can be increased. They is a point where the benefits of suspension can be a drag – sucking you into berms, absorbing jumps for instance.  Take a hardtail to a trail centre and watch those personal best times pop up on your popular training app – oh alright Strava!
  • Easier to maintain – Now we are getting close to the winter angle I was leading with.  With less frame complexities you have less bearings and frame to clean and maintain.
  • 1 by x – The growing popularity on 1x set ups combined with a hard tail means the simplicity and weight reductions just keep on coming. No front derailleur, one less cable and shifter results in less weight and a few less items you need to look after.

Combine all these benefits with Winter riding and you have a winner!

 

So as the UK trails get wetter and muddier you want a bike that’s easier to clean and maintain then you should consider riding a hard tail.

Mine took almost an hour to clean after Sunday’s ride around the soggy, claggy soil of Wiltshire.

TV Show – MTB Adventures

Well i wasn't going to lead with a pic of Doddy was I!
Well I wasn’t going to lead with a pic of Doddy was I?

It reminds me a little of Ride Guide that used to be on Extreme TV a few years back; I’m talking about the new show on the Bike Channel that started last night called –

MTB Adventures

Hosted by Andrew Dodd of Factory Jackson and Anna Glowinski of well of Anna Glowinski I suppose. That’s a little unfair, Anna has hosted ITV The Cycle Show and pops up every so often as a spokeswoman for womens cycling and for various brands and media organisations.

Bikes were supplied by GT
Bikes were supplied by GT

Anyway, MTB Adventures is at last a TV show about riding in UK. Most mountain bike media is a bit too “Top Gear” for me – you know expensive bikes and beautiful riding in far away exotic places.  Finally we have a show based here in the UK that looks set to explore the UK trail centres (maybe some natural /wild stuff too Doddy/Anna?) – places I can ride and visit with out too much investment in money or use of my annual holiday allowance!

How was Episode 1?

Well no-one really liked Jar Jar Binks, Yoda looked bizarrely older than in Return of the Jedi and the less said about Ewan Mcgregor’s weird Obi Wan voice the better. Hang on…

In episode 1 of MTB Adventures Doddy and Anna visited Dalby Forest and showed us some of the riding available there from the 1 mile Green trails, to Dixon’s Hollow Bike Park and the 21 mile Red loop.  All good stuff.

Just like in a Singletrack route guide they covered some accommodation, talked about the visitor centre, surrounding area and gave a local bike shop a mention.

The show is trying to cater for a broad audience, talking about some basic stuff like tightening skewers and carrying spare tubes and also giving some info on the more detailed elements of the trail – how it flows and what to expect.

Some discussion on bike tech (this week how Doddy would rather a dropper post than suspension forks) added to the mix and altogether it was an enjoyable 30 mins of TV.

The show was filmed by the talented Liam Murphy and has been book marked in my series planner.

If you missed it, I’m not sure Bike has a catch up option but you can be sure this show will be repeated a few times throughout the week ahead.

Black and White Mountain Biking

Do or Do not

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda said this to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back

The whole Dagobah sequence in Episode V is full of great lines and is a favourite part of the whole franchise for many fans, as we watch Luke struggle with his powers and see him fail and refuse to believe he can do it.  Yoda is a harsh but calm teacher who watches him make his mistakes, shakes his head when he refuses to listen and eventually lets him learn the hard way that he isn’t ready. #SpoilerAlert (really after all these years?) he duels his Dad who is actually Darth Vader, and has his hand chopped off. Sorry if this was news to you!

Anyway I went to Dagobah this weekend and found some cool jumps! Or was it Endor?

Black and White

There was a point to this (and thanks Jonathan for the pics btw), and that is that some times is just like that in mountain biking. You can’t try to ride down that hill, or go off that drop, or ride that skinny line; you simply have to do it or not do it. Ok , so the amount of success or pain or mud that ends up on your face at the end depends on some luck and hopefully some learned skills, but basically you have to do it.  What I mean here is the “doing it” part doesn’t necessarily mean you get it right, it simply means you have had a good go at it.

But there are some  gap jumps and large drop offs for instance that allow for almost no margin for error and I use the qualifier jump on Dai Hard at Bike Park Wales as the example here. Its a proper gap, not too wide really, but wide enough to get in your head and the landing is either on the transition, or well, not! These you simply have to do – 100%. Because 90% might mean a new wheel. 75% a cracked frame and 50% a visit to A&E.

How do you learn to jump something that has such a consequence if you get it wrong? You can go and see Tony Doyle at UK Bike Skills, this will help loads trust me!  Then once you have done this, you must go and practice, practice and practice what you have learnt some more until you are so confident you can do it that when you approach that jump at BPW you know you are going to clear it before you even start rolling towards it. There can’t be any doubt.

But while some jumps require a simple black or white approach (watch Red Bull Rampage this weekend and you will know what I mean) there are in reality plenty of places where you can get a little bit grey. A table top is a perfect example.

Find one you’d like to clear and practice.  If you don’t make it you’ll land on the top, you can roll it slowly or you can hit it at speed.

Find or even build a jump in your local woods. Now you have control over the height, control over the landing and everything that happens in between.

I only wrote this post so you could see some pics of me in the air!  However the jump in the picture was a jump with a lot of grey. You could jump 4 foot or 14 foot and so long as you landed up right you did it.  The aim is to land on the transition of course (around 9-10 feet from the take off), but in between is ok too.

1,2,3 and 417

I never could count. OK so I could a bit and got a flippin’ good solid A in my Maths O level (yes I am just about that age)…

Anyway….. Last Friday evening I went to the 417 Bike Park near Cheltenham just off the A417 – see what they did?  And well I loved it!

Me and a friend only did 5 runs (Red x2, Black x2 and Blue x1) but after that and a play on the very smallest of the dirt jumps we were ready for some food. Continue reading “1,2,3 and 417”