Tuesday, 29 October 2013


The picture above is the new mark II version of a very good winter jacket. I had had the mark one version for about 4 winters and it had been my go to jacket for when the temps start hitting single figures Celsius . It is a bit too warm for me with just a short sleeve base layer above +5 C but the beauty of this jacket is it can be worn with a good layer system down to about minus 15 C and be warm enough which I have tested so it's a very versatile jacket. It's as waterproof as anything else I've ever worn with it's Softshell front and Thermal Roubaix fabric on the underarms,side and back. It has pit zips to help regulate your temps when your working hard, it has a useful chest pocket with a little hole for your headphones and three rear pockets with a little waterproof zipped pocket too. The fit is good too and the sizing seems spot on. 

If your on the lookout for a good value, hard wearing jacket you won't go too far wrong with the ENDURA WINDCHILL II but here's the clincher, I mentioned I had had the previous version for about 4 winters but some of the stitching around the cuffs, chest pocket and rear pockets had started to come away, so I emailed ENDURA to ask if they could repair it which they replied they could and to send it to them with the returns code they give me.

A week later I was amazed to find they had sent me back a brand new mark II version which is in my book the best customer service bar none and has guaranteed my loyalty for many years to come and if I was you reading this it would certainly make me think I need to give them a try. 


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Dark & White MTB Orienteering, Hayfield, Peak District, Derbyshire, 13/10/13

Last Sunday I enjoyed my first foray into MTB orienteering and what fun it was too. Along with my girlfriend Deb, we entered as a mixed couple in the vets category in the first of six rounds of the winter series organised by Dark & White under the umbrella of the BMBO (British Mountain Bike Orienteering) who's membership you need to have to be able to take part.  So for a paltry some of £6 for an annual membership we were in and for a couple of weeks prior we eagerly kept tabs on the weather.  We had been enjoying quite a prolonged dry spell with the weather but our luck ran out when strong winds & rain were forecasted for the weekend.

Deb's dipping her dibber

Sunday morning arrived and the forecast was right, the weather was 'stinkingly foul' but we were both committed and there was no way we were going to be put off by a bit of bad weather, after all if you want to be a mtber in the UK then you had better not mind getting a soaking now and again.

That would be me checking the map on the homemade map board

It was an early start for us being about an hour and half's drive from the Scout Hut in Hayfield that was being used as the HQ for the event. The event was scheduled for 3hrs with a start time anytime between 9.00am & 10.30. We arrived about 9.30 and there were already plenty of mtbers, some very professional looking,  flying off in all directions undeterred by the monsoon like conditions.

My own little mighty atom - the indomitable Deb's

It was with a little nervous trepidation that we unloaded the bikes and got saddled up for the short ride from where we parked to the event HQ to pick up our maps and our electronic dibbers for checking in at the checkpoints.  I had been scouring the BMBO website for tips on what to do and about strategy and timing and as I have been able to use a map & compass since my army cadet days in my early teens, I was reasonably confident we would do ok or at least not get lost.

Muddy bums

So with our dibbers dibbed we were off and within minutes we were literally off and walking as we were in the bottom of a valley and as everybody knows when you're in the bottom of a valley all roads lead up and this valley was no different and with stiff cold legs it was just a bit too much too early and had us both wondering what we had got ourselves in to ?

We still managed a smile despite the weather

We huffed & puffed to our first checkpoint and with our first one in the bag we now took a little time to study the map for some semblance of  of a route. After all the effort it took gaining our elevation we decided to go after all the checkpoints that could be reached at our height. This turned out to be a good plan in the end as they were high value points.

The checkpoints are awarded points values dependent on how difficult they are to attain, be that in distance or elevation or if it's a particularly difficult track, which in the Peak District means very rocky paths and tracks.

We were plodding along nicely picking up a checkpoint every 20 mins or so which when considering the weather was getting worse by the minute we  weren't doing too badly for our first attempt.

I've got to give Deb a mention here because she really surprised me with how well she was coping with the technical nature of the course, as we were either bouncing down very rocky trails with rivers flowing down them or ploughing through deep rut's & puddles, which considering she has only been riding a few months and had been really struggling with her confidence of late after having a few falls, was quite amazing.

With an hour left we decided to head back and see if we could pick up a couple more checkpoints on the way back,  which we managed to do and finish within 2 mins of the 3 hr cut off time where you start to lose the points you've gained with every minute your late, and if you're half hour late you lose all your point's !

So all in all I think our first little foray into MTB orienteering was a success, we even made onto the leaders board finishing second in our category with 105 points which we got quite excited about until we realised that there were only two couples in our age category ! Oh well we'll at least we'll have a chance to finish first next time.

We have definitely got a taste for it now and I don't think the weather could be any worse for the next round in Matlock unless it snows,  so I think we can really go for it and see if we can do better.  We're both really looking forward to it.

Roll on round 2 !

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Debby's On One Inbred

I love my girlfriend's bike

On One Inbred -Debby's pride & joy

Pink Hope Pro 2'S

My girlfriends Inbred has taken a big step towards being the pink-tastic bike of her dreams recently with the addition of some cracking upgrades.

First up was a pink Chris King sotte voce headset which need no explanation because if you're looking to add some colour co-ordination and bling to your bike Chris King is an easy if a little expensive choice. It really sets the pink theme off.

Next came the Salsa fliplock seatpost quick release binder.  This is another quality bit of kit and has a really positive feel to it when locking it down, a much nicer feel to the similar offering from Hope. I wanted Deb to have the simpler seatpost collar with just the Allen key bolt as it's a bit more pleasing to the eye,  but I'm glad she has stuck to her gun's and gone for the quick release option really so she can drop her seat easier to give her a bit more confidence when the trail starts to point downwards.

The pink gear cabling was up next. I wasn't too sure about this thinking it might be a step too far in the co-ordination stakes but Debs had been wanting them for a while so on went the Clark's cabling. Like my Lurcher the Inbred runs full outers so I like to add a couple of Middleburn cable oilers to help keep the cables running smooth.
These little aluminium thingies fit on the cables and have a rubber o-ring that pop's off to reveal a little hole that fits the red pipe you get with cans of wd40 or GT85 so you can just squirt in the lube to keep the cables running free. They also double as frame protectors as a bonus. I would just like to add I think they look great after my initial reservations and would even like to see the brake hoses going pink too when Deb's upgrades the brakeset.

Last but certainly not least is the new  Stans Crest/pink Hope hubs wheelset.
Debs was really lusting after some pink hubs to finish the look of her bike but I was more concerned about shedding some weight off the bike and everyone knows that the wheels is the best place to do that.  I have the 29er Stans Crest / Hope Pro 2'S wheelset on my Lurcher and Stans Alpha 340 rims on Goldtec hubs on my Pompino and I can't think of one negative thing to say about Stans tubeless rims. They build into inexpensive light weight wheelset's and with Hope Pro 2'S they are probably in my view the best value for money upgrade you can make for your bike and are one of a very few genuine bargains to be had in mtbing and will give instant performance enhancements to your bike like no other. So when we did a search and found out that Hope had started a limited run of their pink hubs we were chuffed. I emailed Hope to ask if they offered the pink hub option in their wheel builds because it wasn't available on the website and was puzzled when the reply said they didn't do the wheel builds with the pink hubs. Strange. Anyway after much searching we found On Yer Bike were offering a Stans Crest / pink Hope Pro 2'S wheelset build and that was that we thought. Deb's was buzzing with anticipation for her new wheels, but we hadn't heard anything back after a week so I contacted On Yer Bike who explained that it would take a bit longer for the wheels to arrive as Hope as a rule don't make the wheels with the pink hubs, like the email to me from Hope had said. But after a day of phone calls between Hope and On Yer Bike, Hope agreed to make the wheels as a one off only because On Yer Bike were a Hopetech centre.  On Yer Bike had mistakenly been offering the pink hubs in the wheel builds on their website luckily for us. Full marks must go to On Yer Bike for going the extra mile for us to get Hope to build the wheels for us though, I bet there are a few shops out there who would of just turned round and told us they couldn't be done.  Deb's likes to think she now has a custom set of wheels  which I suppose in a way she has. Thanks again to On Yer Bike.

Deb's hasn't had much chance to put her new wheels to test yet apart from a few hours on a core skills course at the Alpkit-Big shakeout festival but what she has done she has been able to feel the benefit of a good lightweight tubeless wheelset that the Stans/Hope combination gives you.

The groupset is in the firing line next with the low end elixir brakes and clunky & stiff Sram gears being replaced with a lot nicer female friendly lighter action Shimano SLX groupo.

The poor girl has well and truly been infected with my affliction for mtb upgrade-itis.

Sorry Debs I hope you can forgive me.