The Specialized Stumpjumper has been sold (sigh) and the Specialized Camber Evo 29 is nearly done, waiting for some parts in the shop. You know I’m holding my breath here! A few other upgrades are next on my list for the next few months:
- Ryde Trace trail rims on Hope Evo hubs: are already on their way.
- Rock Shox Pike: all reviewers on these types of bikes agree: 32mm just doesn’t cut it. Adds some weight sadly, but the added qualities can’t be argued with.
- Easton Haven Carbon bars with Haven stem: they’ll look great!
- Lighter cassette and chain (you know… being nerdy about things)
- Crank Brothers Candy’s in red: just because..
Strava’s Gran Fondo challenge was early booked for yesterday in our schedule. With only figuring out where to ride, we had pretty much nothing getting in the way of ticking off this challenge.
Oh, but wait how about a root-canal and a flu followed by the common cold, all in just 5 days time? I mean, really? Really? 70km was just about all I could manage, staying out of the wind most of the time thanks to my buddy!
Spring was early this year, and the first road-ride with the Madone was a fact. Half a Fondo, but just as Grand!
The day after, a blue monday, I’m sitting behind my screen. Blue sky and the sun shines in my eye. Bruises on my shoulder and hip remind me of another great day of riding in Belgium. Yes, with the Piet and the Plons once again.
We where pushed of cliffs, into tight corners and fast berms, just to see how we would hold up. But nothing could get the smile of our faces.
The only thing we can really do at this moment… get them to ride with us again soon, we can’t get enough! Riding with them is buckets of fun and very inspirational. See for yourself:
After a lot of thought, blogposts and talks with friends I managed to choose what bike to buy. You may have read about my preference for the bigger wheel-size and I’ve stuck to it. Also, I bought a Stumpjumper FSR 140mm last year to tight me over until I had made this decision and riding with Specialized agreed with me. It’s also nice to do business with my old sponsor Stappenbelt in Apeldoorn. They are a Specialized Concept Store and gave me ample opportunity to test bikes that I considered to buy.
Of course there are many contenters and exotic brands to consider, but you know… why bother? I have my LBS just around the corner, they are skilled and the bikes are good. Granted, Specialized is a little pricey but that was the only downsize for me.
After the Stumpjumper FSR a new Stumpjumper seemed most logical, but it was a little too much bike for me. I wanted a light bike, capable for technical descents and great at climbing. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. Now that sounds like a slogan ;-) It’s arriving first week of april, oh dear that’s a long wait.
So, time is ticking and we can’t waist any of it with the Trans Provence getting closer and closer. In januari I rode (inside on a Tacx and outside) about 300km and ran 35km. Give or take 40 hours of training and 2.326 meters of uphill movement.
What where the highlights? Running 8km straight for the first time, without fighting myself all the way. Commuting to work, with getting lost in the woods at the crack of dawn. Of course the first trainingsweekend, with Belgium and Limburg on our schedule: priceless! Countless singletrails and riding with the Piet and the Plons, awesome day!
The weather has been very soft and kind, let’s hope we can continue this even when spring is officially here and temperature rises.
Next up: Next sunday first trail running competition with cycling training afterwards (auch) the Strava Gran Fondo 2: one ride of 130km. And in March the E3 again! With another trainingweekend in April. Can’t wait!
Since a couple of months I live a short commute away from my job, I don’t know why I pass up a short ride only 30 kilometers (two times a day makes it a decent 60 km). I don’t think I’m that lazy or afraid of bad weather.
I do however dread the logistics. Taking the cx bike because the carbon roady seems to appealing for thieves. Packing a bag with clothes, a big lock and lights too. Food (I have specific…. ‘needs’) and stuff to shower; then where do you put your damp, wet or even dirty clothes for the day? Too many questions for me not to be bothered so I commute by bus 2x a day, a boring 45 minute drive. Not too bad at all, it’s a direct line, but it’s a shame to not take this ‘free’ extra training.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to do it. Get all my stuff in my new Vaude backpack and just go for it, this week even… oh darn… not I’ve said it…
The after thought
It was really dark when I left the house a little after 7am. And I steadily rode past the canal toward Lieren en I think I made a mistake here. There is a fairly simple route from my house to Arnhem, but for some reason that looked a little inefficient to me, whilst it is not. Past Loenen I was send into a street that within a few kilometers stopped being a street and entered the forrest. There I was, pitch dark without a clue where I was and a tiny gps screen that made me pissed off. So I decided not to stress out, just have the gps take me to arnhem and well if I had to be late… so be it.
Glad I took the cx bike, as I was doing some serieus trailriding in the dark. Great stuff, not just as much by myself. A few kilometers later the path became a little more road and soon enough I was on a road I actually knew with 13 kilometers to go. It slowly became light and because I was on more familiair territory I became more relaxt and enjoyed the ride. Showering at work was actually really okay, within minutes fresh behind my desk and already kudos on Strava :-)
The trip back I took the smart way back home and I think it’s easier, also you body is fully functional not half asleep. I’ll try it again for sure, maybe when we have more daylight in the mornings!
A while back I wrote about wheelsize, in the first race of the first Enduro World Series the *new* wheel sizes lead the pack. The racers seem still undecided and the discussion still carries on, there will be 26″ purists. 29″ Evangelists and 650b believers that want the best of both worlds. I’m too still undecided, partly because I’m only going to get a new bike as soon as 2014 so I have time to wander and hopefully try out some more bikes.
What I like most about mountain biking is being outside all day and go anywhere and have fun with friends and your bike. Your bike shouldn’t be the limiting factor and for All Mountain it should be a middle-of-the-road-bike. After about a month on board my test bike, the BMC Trailcrew, I discovered that travel is not often perceived as too little. The Trailcrew had a 12omm fork and 100mm rear (of excellent CTD-Kashima quality) and 29″ wheels, my findings:
- It wants me to pedal faster and stand an power climb: I like it because it gives me the feeling of speed and that I’m pushing myself more: more fun!
- It has some oversteer: what I eventually liked once I got the hang of drifting, again makes me feel faster and makes me a better rider too: more fun!
- Fox Float 32 needed a lot of time to properly get broken in, also worked best for me with less pressure.
- In fast descents, especially technical ones, was hard work. It’s still fun, but hard work, more tired armes and hands.
- Rear never bottomed once.
- Climb position on both shocks made for a ultimate climb machine: more fun!
- Switchbacks: well what can I say… 1. I need more skills. 2. It’s way harder and more dismounting of the bike happened.
- My overall skills grew on board this confident bike, I learned more: more fun!
- Steep vertical and technical descents: I had to re-adjust my position on the bike more. Sometimes you are aware of the “big bike” and I had more cramped feet, something I had never experienced before. Afterwards I realize why: to compensate for the “big bike” feeling I pushed one pedal downward to lower my position on the bike, shifting my weight to one pedal in stead of two in a neutral position.
The 29″ is gaining my preference at the moment. Why? I want a bike that allows me to grow as a climber and helps me carry overall speed, is as light as I can possibly pay for. As long as the character of the bike is suitable for technical descents and singletrails, any shortcomings (if there are any) I could compensate with my skills. This could mean that less travel is more fun.
Of course these findings are subjective to my personal abilities and perceptions, and are 26″ and 650b equally sufficient and it’s nothing I NEED ;-)
The one doubt I have, will 650b be better for me, I’ve tried a hand full of 650b bikes and no “home-sweet-home” on any of them, this could also be a very effective wheel-size for enduro-racing; most of them have too much travel and weight for my liking. Only the Santa Cruz Solo looks attractive still, but I want to tried it first. VPP isn’t always what I like in a bike. My short list:
- Specialized: Camber vs Stumpjumper w/brain (testing in september)
- Rocky Mountain Instinct (testing later this year)
- Santa Cruz Solo (distribution issue)
- Ibis Ripley (budget issue)
- Whyte T129s (distribution issue)
- Lapierre Zesty (wide read angle and noisy e:i is getting used to)
Do you have a suggestion for a bike that would suit me and it’s not on this list? Please comment below, I’m eager to hear your suggestions.