Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Planet X SL Pro carbon new arrival to the family

Planet X SL Pro

Planet X SL Pro Carbon

Any followers or anybody that's read my blog before will know that I'm a big fan of the online bike retailer Planet X/On One, with me owning 5 of their bikes, starting with a 26" Inbred steel hardtail that was stolen.  I replaced it with a single speed Pompino and set it up for riding cyclocross which is a cracking bike and I absolutely love it. Then I bought a Macinato frame & fork going cheap in one of their many sales and built it up as cheap as I could but still tried to make it a nice build and was meant for something to just knock about on but sadly hasn't had much use. Up next was my first carbon bike and first mtb since the Inbred was stolen and is the Lurcher 29er  and yet another great bike from On One and getting the most use.

I have been lusting a road bike for a few years now especially the Planet X SL Pro carbon so the time had finally come and  with the girlfriend we took the plunge. You get a lot of bike for the money, I don't know of any other company's offering full carbon bikes with a full 2x10 compact Shimano Ultegra including the chainset and brakes for a penny under a grand .

This is my first road bike so I'm no expert but on my first impressions it's a lovely bike and unless I'm expecting to turn pro anytime soon I can't see me needing any more than this.

When I specked it I chose Deda for the stem & seatpost purely because I liked the look of them but the seatpost is quite heavy and stiff, so I tried the carbon seatpost from my Lurcher, and this transformed the ride feel making it much more comfortable and makes more sense to me to use a carbon post with a carbon frame to get the stiff but compliant characteristics you get from a carbon frame, so I will replace the Deda as soon as the funds allow.

The quiver is steadily growing. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Dark & White MTB Orienteering rnd 2 Matlock, Derbyshire

Round 2 Round Up

After a pretty good start to our first foray into MTB Orienteering at the first rnd at Hayfield last month where we came second in our age category mixed pairs finishing with a 105 pts which isn't anything special but we were really pleased to get a great finishing time of 2 hrs58mins leaving us 2 Min's before you start losing points. So Deb & I were really looking forward to rnd two in Matlock and even went for a recce ride in the area in shit weather and doing the last hr in the dark up some real tetchy tracks. But because of Deb's commitments with her uni studies she had only had one little road ride in the fortnight up to the Sunday of the event which isn't ideal as Deb's is still trying to build her fitness but I have to give her credit for even taking on these rides as I'm finding them tuff and I have way more miles in my legs than she does. 

We weren't very organised and paid for it by running a bit late and cutting it fine and sods law intervened when we hit Bakewell which was closed when we got there,  another 5 mins and we would have missed it but it was closed to traffic for the Remembrance Sunday parade which meant a detour round the outlying villages to get to Matlock. By the time we were saddled up and ready to go with maps and dibbers we were an hr late from the 10.30 cutoff  so we were leaving a bit stressed and didn't study the map properly and we just went for the checkpoints not too far away from the start. We picked up a couple of easy ones in about 30 Min's but after that all the others meant we were going up hill and the climbs were brutal and even had me worried Deb was going to have an asthma attack at one point, I was a bit hard on her too and not very sympathetic which wasn't fair at all considering she hadn't ridden much up too the event. It can be very difficult finding the right balance when the team is so miss matched in terms of skill & fitness but that is my responsibility to try a manage it so i don't make her feel like she is holding me back or letting me down which she has said that's how she feels sometimes which makes me feel like a right shit because that's the last thing iIwant because i'm really proud of the way she has taken to the sport and showing a real & genuine interest in all the aspects of cycling and I feel really lucky to have her riding with me and can''t wait to see her progress & gain her confidence.

We managed to get 5 checkpoints worth 10 points each in the 1,40 Min's we were on the course and one bonus was we finished a lot cleaner than the rest of the contestants and remarkably we didn't come last which was a nice surprise finishing 124th from 128 with somebody not getting any points in over 3 hrs and another team only getting 70 points after 3hrs so it wasn't all bad and like i said to Deb you learn from your mistakes.

The next round is Buxton which is a bit closer to us and is an area i have ridden quite a bit but also it got some of the most rocky technical descents int he peak District so i have told deb if we are going to improve on our first round we have got to get some serious training sessions in and to help her with her times constraints with uni & kids I have got her a turbo trainer so she can get the miles in, I have some rollers and I love em because half hr on them can smash you to bits but I think they scare the living daylights out of her so a trainer will do the job.

So The goal for next month is to get a bigger points tally than rnd one which should be possible if we get off our backsides and put in the saddle time  .

Monday, 4 November 2013

British cycling MTB level 2 Leader Award

Living the Dream

I have been riding mtb's since the late 80's so I would like to think I have absorbed a lot of cycling information, some of it useful and some of it less so and since then my passion for cycling has grown to what some people who know me might think of as a bit of an obsession or put it another way an addiction. It's not just mtb's any more either as I ride a road bike, a single speed cross and also an urban fixie for knocking about town on, and if I'm not riding my bikes I'm reading books about cycling or trawling the interweb to glean as much info as I can, be that about riding skills or mechanics or whatever, as long as it's to do with cycling, it's all good in my book and I can't get enough of it.

I'm always being told by friends and family that I ought to get a job as a mechanic as I build all my own bike's and do all my own wrenching, and it's something that I would like to do and no doubt would enjoy and it's something that I have looked at and tried to do a few times in the past, but it isn't as easy as you might think. For starters there aren't a lot of bike shops around and the ones that are like to employ youngsters and train them up.  
The best bet is to get yourself on a Cytech course but your looking at well in excess of a £1000 to gain the basic qualification and then your in the lap of the gods on whether it will lead to employment.

For anyone who loves cycling a job riding your bike is the dream and it's always been mine. I have looked at being a bike courier but there just aren't any courier company's in Stoke on Trent/Newcastle u Lyme that use cycle's ? If anyone reading this knows of any please let me know ?

Another way for you to get to ride your bike and get paid for it is as a mtb guide but when I have read about it in magazines I got the feeling that I wouldn't be anywhere near good enough but that has changed since my brilliant and lovely girlfriend Debs started mtbing with me. I have been coaching her and leading her on rides and it's made me realise that over the years I have learnt a quite a bit afterall and that I could, with a bit of training, become a mtb leader.  We got talking to a British Cycling rep at the Thornbridge Outdoors festival a couple of months ago and he gave me a leaflet on the new British Cycling MTB Leadership  course that has merged with and is replacing from 2014 the SMBLA (Scottish Mountain bike Leadership) which is well regarded as the gold standard mtb leadership course in the UK. After looking at the BC website I thought if I was ever going to live the dream then this was it so I took up membership with BC, which is a course requirement and have taken delivery of the course handbook which tells you everything you need to know and learn about to become a leader. I have to keep a diary of my rides as you need to prove you have the experience in mountainous terrain & in all weathers and you need to have a minimum of 11 2-3 hr rides & 4 4+ hr rides before you attend the 2 day training course which will make sure you are able to plan & deliver rides, your leading techniques, map reading & navigation skills, management of accidents & emergency's, equipment set-up & trail side repairs and core mtb techniques. You also have to pass an online course on child protection and have a two day outdoors first aid certificate before you take your final assessment upon which if your successful you are qualified and insured to lead a group of up to 8 riders in mountainous terrain from spring until the end of autumn in the  UK & Europe. 

There are a few places that you can take the 2 day training course throughout the year and one is at Cannock Chase which is not far from where I live and would be cheaper but I'm going to take the course at the Plas y Brenin National Mountain Sports Centre which means me boarding for a couple of days and costing a little more but I think its worth the extra to have had the training in the Mountains and provided by the experts at the PYB NMSC .

I'm now trying to plan some big rides to make sure I can turn up with the confidence that I have the necessary experience, the Dark & White Orienteering should help with this and with the navigation skills as Debs & I plan to do every round, so fingers & toes crossed this time next year I will be writing about one of my first group rides as a MTB Leader.