Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 - The Year I Discovered Strava

OK, so there's not been a whole lot going on on this blog for more than a little while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been riding my bike, I've just been remembering why I started riding and riding a whole lot, just by myself, with friends, purely for transport or just because.

One thing was different in 2015 however. In 2015 I discovered Strava and a great tool for motivating me to get out of bed and on my bike when it was dark, wet, cold or windy or even all four. The result: See for yourself, a huge (for me) annual mileage, a satisfying weight loss too and inevitably some plans to return to the race course next year to see what kind of fitness all this has re-built. In the meantime I'm going to keep chasing PBs, KOMs and weekly mileage throughout the winter, racing myself to try and be a faster me, to enjoy the empty trails when the weather's less than perfect and I'm determined not to let all that riding go to waste.
......and now to plan some races, starting with no less than the Olympia Park Münhen 24hr Race. Watch this space :-)

Oh, and just because, here's a little movie of "Rob's Year On Strava" (bike stats discounting Zwift):

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Old Bikes Never Die..... they just get tinkered with - The General Lee's new clothes

My New-Old Tallboy - Ready to go up, and down, the Bavarian Alps
In with the old AND in with the new! I have been riding my giant orange Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon, aka The General Lee, for a few years now, and it has lost the position of race bike to become a "do it all" trail bike, as a newer, bluer Tallboy has taken this role. But that doesn't mean it ever stopped being my favorite. I now find myself living a rideable distance from the Alps and have swapped the UK's rolling trails for some seriously grown up hills. The hot weather is finally upon us, time to build a bike for the Alps......

Sunday, 20 October 2013

New Toy For Winter: SP PD-8X QR15 Dynamo Hub

SP's latest QR15 Dynamo Hub
I must confess to being a long time convert to dynamo lights when combined with modern LED technology. But not just for touring and commuting, actually for mountain biking, proper mountain biking, on technical trails. The latest lights & hubs allow you to run discs and have more light for longer, without worrying about recharging between rides, burntimes or fiddling around in winter gloves to turn the light down.

There is one obvious problem though: Modern MTBs are moving rapidly to QR15 forks and at 6"4' I like the extra stiffness that these forks provide. I need worry no more. Just a couple of weeks before the clocks change and my long rides home are in complete darkness, I now have a QR15 dynamo, the latest offering from the clever guys at Shutter Precision, from the ever helpful guys at Intelligent Design Cycles.

Now time to start wheel building. Bring on the changing of the clocks!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Glorious Little Bikepacking Adventure To Austria & Back Along The Isar

Last week some friends joined me in Munich for their first bikepacking adventure. They left tired, full of BBQ and beer and exhausted from fab 3 days from Munich across the the Baravrian Alps, a dart into Austria overnight beforea 2 day loop back home again with some more wild camping an 900m climb in 29 degree heat (followed by a spectacular 900m descent), a couple of crashes, a mountain top dinner at the Hutte at the summit of Brauneck, topped of by a huge grin on all of our faces and a celebratory beer and BBQ supper with friends upon our return.

That's more than enough words, we had an amazing time, some tough moments and went through some incredible scenery. We also took a lot of photos, so I'll let them do the talking. Here's our bikepacking photo diary:

Review: Dosun U1 Dynamo Headlight

At the start of the winter, the lovely folks at IDC gave me a Dosun U1 Dynamo headlight to put to the test as I battled to work through whatever weather the winter chose to throw at me during the dark morning and evening commutes that winter brings.

I'm an enthusiastic advocate of dynamo lights, but not all lights are equal, by a long way, and there are some terrible products out there too. Several years ago I was unhappy with what was available buy and so I made my own lights (which got nicknamed the Deanamo by my friends), I have happily used a light from K-Lite and have now settled on the Exposure Revo, both of which are head and shoulders above anything else I have ever come across, so I was a little apprehensive going back to "just" a normal light.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Tegernsee Tal MTB Marathon 2013 That Wasn't

Pinning a number on it seems is, for now, the closest me and my
will get to a big European MTB marathon
At least my helmet and glasses were colour co-ordinated!
One of the first things on the to do list when I moved to Germany was to sign up to a big European MTB marathon event. With an entry of 3500 riders and attached to a two day long MTB festival they don't get any bigger than the Tegernsee MTB Marathon, which kicked off on 2nd June in "Tegernsee Tal" (Tegernsee Valley) at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, with a punishing 90km course promising 10'800ft of climbing. So, on Saturday Grace and I headed off on the BOB with a tent on our back and a little bit of trepidation in our stomachs, this was promising to be a little tougher, with bigger, steeper hills than my previous UK marathon series experiences. 

However, I sit here now, typing, at the time I was previously expecting to be finishing, wet and tired and, hopefully, excited by the experience of my first big European MTB marathon. The weather, it seems, had other ideas.....

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Highball Aluminium - A Bike For Riding

I am very lucky to have a few very nice Santa Cruz bikes, a Tallboy Carbon and a Highball Carbon for race days, a super light Highball Carbon as a singlespeed, and my favourite race bike of all time, The General Lee, my resplendent orange Tallboy Carbon.

However, superlight carbon race exotica isn't always what's needed, and a move to Munich and the Alps on my doorstep made me hanker after a "normal" bike; wide bars, shorter stem, big discs, a bigger fork, something I could hurl down the side of a mountain without worrying about shaving the last gram racing back up the other side. And then Santa Cruz brought out the Highball in Aluminium. I didn't hesitate to place my order, only this time "only" in a compact and whippy (for me) XL not my normal XXL, this was going to be a real trail bike and I couldn't wait......

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Commuting to Work - Bavarian Style

not a bad ride, but a glorious commute
I've lived in Germany a few weeks now, and as well as already developing a taste for the local food (Weißbier & Wurst, what's not to like?!), I'm getting settled in and have been exploring the trails in my new back yard. Conveniently for me, the woods start less than 1km from my front door (that's half a mile in English), even closer than back in the UK, I've begun sniffing out some lovely stretches of singletrack and have even found an old quarry to play in, about 4miles from home, that the local riders have started to work on by the looks of things.

My commute to work is a pretty nice way to start the day too. However, this week, my working week starts with an early Monday morning meeting in Jenbach, Austria, meaning my normal commute around the green outskirts of Munich and up the banks of the River Isar can't happen. Faced with an early morning dash on the Autobahn (blurrgghhhh....) or a train journey on the lovely, but crowded, commuter train, I was left with only one option: Cycle to 100miles to the office.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

All Change for 2013 - Ich werde in München wohnen!

After a 2012 full of very big rides indeed, 2013 sees me going down a very different road indeed. I will still be riding my bike a long way and a lot, I will still be riding Santa Cruz bikes, but ....... I will be doing it in Munich!

But why? Well, I have had an offer of an amazing job, but I do love my bikes and the opportunity to live a few km from riding in the Alps, as well as living in one of the nicest cities in Europe, was just too good to pass up. For those of you in any doubt, just look at this view of the city centre and its backdrop:
Munich and the Alps, not a bad back yard at all
Apart from my local trails taking quite a different shape, not much else has changed but, as well as the forests to the South of the city, which start less than a mile from our new house, there's hopefully a lot of opportunity for adventure in them there hills :-)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Santa Cruz Santa Cruise 2012

Pic: Josh Lewis, courtesy of Joe Whitaker
Every year the ever brilliant Joe Whitaker organises all the Santa Cruz Bikes people from all around the UK, across all disciplines, to get together to benefit a good cause close to his heart and to celebrate another great year having a lot of fun on some lovely bikes, Santa Cruz Bikes Santa Cruise. The ride is fast becoming a UK Santa Cruz Bikes institution and it's great to see so many riders (yes, this includes the legend that is Steve Peat), from so many disciples meeting up, smiling and just enjoying riding so many varieties types of bike.