The long wait… (for a new bike)

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.

What happened in januari?

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!

10 Things Every Mountain Biker Should Have Done

  1. Build a bike: many bikes even from DH to singlespeed. Especially when you are a novice: you’ll learn a lot!
  2. Ride at night: at my local trails even in snow (3)
  3. Ride in the snow: Megavalanche baby!
  4. Ride in another country: nothing but I would say
  5. Sleep next to your bike: With your bike next to you in your hotelroom doesn’t really count. Sleeping under the stars with your bike next to you: still on my list.
  6. Explore a new trail: I still consider this open, a new trail like a trailhunter: not fully done!
  7. Cross a mountain range: High Atlas in Marocco and some Alpine crossings.
  8. Ride a race: This Bike Attack was one hell of a race!
  9. Visit a bikepark: most awesome times!
  10. Ride to the sea: going to do that next summer when my buddie and I are riding the Trans Provence (yeah baby)

On wheel size (again)

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.

Roc des Alpes

Any excuse to visit the Alpes is good enough for me. Dutch magazine FIETS invited me to go to the Roc des Alpes, the Alpine version of the famous Roc d’Azur festival. We needed some brilliant pictures for an upcoming edition and we got to ride and cover the event as a bonus.

The event has so many types of rides, it’s hard to choose. Eventually I choose the All Mountain ride on saturday (54km) and the Enduroc on sunday. Saturday we had to wait for the lift for a long time. The PPdS has 11 starting points and thus spreading the crowd, this the Roc could easily try two, we had 3 lifts in the ride and 2 where in the village of La Clusaz. The lifts in this area do not go as high as the PPdS, so we had to climb the rest ourselves. Not often very steep or impossible to ride, but I tell you… it was a lot of climbing!

The downhills where hard too, difficult trails and challenging verts, plenty of mud and roots made us go slower and sometimes even walk. Near the end of the day I was tempted to skip the last section, glad I didn’t. MORE climbing of course, but finally a nice fast decent going home and we finished with a big smile.

Sunday I was knackered. I did the Enduroc but I was very tired, I enjoyed it anyway. 5 stages and the 3rd was very technical. I did the whole weekend on the BMC Fourstroke FS29 Trailcrew. A 100mm 29er with 120mm travel up front and a Reverb in a basically xc race oriented frame. It looks the bomb and it rides very fast. Fair enough, it’s hard work in the Enduroc, but the All Mountain ride… I enjoyed every minute. Light and fast and superb suspension system. It’s a long bike, longer than I would choose, but I must say I get used to it. Especially because I like the speed! A full review will be published in FIETS magazine of Juli (Dutch though) and I hope BMC can spare this bike a little more because as I said… I’m kinda liking the speed!

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One more thing… I got a chance to try out Five Ten Shoes. I’ve been riding clipless since I can remember, even though I tried flats in 2003/2004 ending in a nasty calve injury. Five Ten we all know because of the epic performances of Sam Hill and thanks to Greg Minnaar we also have Five Ten clipless shoes to choose from. The shoes look nice and I know of the reputation of the sole. Would it be anything for me?

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What surprised me the most, was that the shoes where so light! I tried the Freerider VXI and I’ve been told the sole gets even better for 2014. So what should I do… 😉 I know for lengthy rides I’ll do the Minnaars or Cyclones and for the technical rides… these wonderfull Freerider in red/black because they look awesome (also because my wife ‘stole’ the black/blue Danny MacAskill away from me that where actually my first choice.)

What’s going on for 2013

You know me, I like to sleep under a rock during winter. Come out for an occasional ride and sleep more. So here’s an update. Cold is lousy for immune ailments, so it’s been crappy. Until december I was doing great, 2 rides a week and going strong. Then January cold came and I had to take a few steps back. Last weekend I did a ride on one of our islands, Texel, and it wasn’t too bad. I had expected total drama. Just chose the wrong gearing on the singlespeed for the ultimate mud fest it became so I cut my ride short.

But I’m sure the sun is coming very soon, I have some great events planned. Probably in modus tourismus, but I don’t care anymore, riding all day in the Alpes is a gift no matter how well I ride.  So I will be showing my face:

  • Esneux and Neupré for the Easyphone enduro’s
  • Twice in France: Roc des Alpes and Passportes du Soleil, yes can’t stay away.
  • Another Swiss expedition you might have guessed: Trek Bike Attack!

If I had my way I’ll be going to The Blast in Juli, but work is crazy at the moment and I should bask in this rush as most of my colleagues are struggling to get by and… well something has to pay for this expensive but awesome hobby.

I hope you are all doing fine, eagerly awaiting summertime. Hapy and in good health. I can’t wait to see you all again soon. Now go out and ride some more!

Thank you Lenzerheide, Trek Bike Attack

Last weekend we went to the Trek Bike Attack in Lenzerheide Switzerland. With phenomenal weather we had so much fun, we didn’t want to go home and had a big smile throughout the weekend. Team-rider Eline Nijhuis took 7th in the qualli and 19th in the race. And our friend Iris ten Kaaten took 9th in the qualli, 2 dutch girls in the top 10 on the qualli, how about that!

For me the race was great, lately I’ve been feeling excellent. Even though I wasn’t fully fit, my endurance-level was not up to par, I could ride! And rode with fun. Marginally slower than last year, so I was pretty stoked… that’s not that bad! I crashed in the qually and in the race. In the race I had to take two pauses to catch my breath and cool down, switched to AM helmet on the bottom (I hid my full face lid and thankfully it was still there after) and had a great time in the bottom part. I could do all climbs on the bike, wasn’t as overheated as last year, and highfived and thanked all volunteers along the way. These guys are so enthusiastic, cheering us on and making it possible for us to have the best time possible. THANK YOU!

I came across the finish line with a little tear of happiness, a few months ago I thought I would have to stay home. But no pain, no ugliness… just pure riding fun. Blessed me!

My friend Ernies had trained to ride her first ever enduro downhillrace and finished as last participant while being welcomed by winner René Wildhaber, she did so well and the highfive of this hero was the best thing!

Modus-tourismus

My last post dates from march 16th, about 3 month ago. Not long ago, but a lot has happened since. Races, riding, selling and buying of stuff and personal challenges. I should elaborate some more 🙂

The next level

Last year I’ve been working with a trainer and learned a lot about how to train, how to enjoy training and how much fun being fit really is. It is! So, I had plenty wishes for this season, first things first: get rid of asthma as an obstacle. So I finally asked my doctor and she referred me to a lung specialist, one I thought would adjust medication and send me off to to get brilliantly fit…

February second I had done a fit-test which was not bad, but not really good either. Max 190 watt and one of the things I noticed was that I couldn’t really stand much ‘pain’ from riding in the max zone. I hooked up with an online trainer from webtrainer.com and soon started to get into form. A lot of improvement in the climbs and I actually learned to like road cycling and training on the road bike. March 25th I actually did a road-tour in Belgium, the E3 about 83km lap with 726m uphill, I was in the zone!

House MD

A series of tests were done before I could talk to the specialist, bloodworks, long function tests and CT scan. The results were unclear and more tests had to be done and more tests were done before I finally was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. “Have you ever heard of sarcoidosis?”, he asked and I dare not reply “House is talking about is all the time… does that count?” (he actually does!).

So, no I didn’t know what it was, and I’m not alone… as they’re still doing much research on it to learn HOW people get it, and WHY and how to TREAT it, because they don’t actually know this. So, this changes… nothing (as sarcoidosis is usually left untreated and needs to heal by itself).

Keeping at it

After Esneux I rode the enduro of Sart Tilman and came 2nd, had to stop in Remouchamps after 3hours of hard labour and not being able to continue and in Winterberg… well it was even sadder. I couldn’t recuperate from hard intensive work anymore, intensive riding actually started to hurt, riding in the max-zone was impossible and basically things was going downhill… yeah pun intended.

After Winterberg came Ovifat and I dared not to ride at first, afraid of how I’d feel if I had to quit again, but did in the end. It was a lovely day and without hard labour, just fun on two wheels. So I got into a tourist mode and kept from exhaustion just kept rolling and smiling, finished the day in 4th amazingly and best thing of all I had some sense of accomplishment again and had fun. A thing that was missing the last few weeks.

The body

By this time I was in the midst of nasty tests and knew what I probably was up against sarcoidosis without knowing the full extend of it, so I had to make a decision. This couldn’t continue, even though I was told I could do what ever I wanted… as long as the body wanted it too. And the body had their own set of wishes. The body wished rest.

I arrested my training schedule, there was no point without the energy to go at it anyway. And took a long rest.

I now do about a -slow- ride a week and work a little less with less projects and the same time (or rather 1 project), eat super healthy, read more and get as much sleep as possible. I should add that my intentions are to get back into a rhythm of training as soon as possible as I believe my fitness it a positive contributor to how I can cope with this disease. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I where in a poor physical state and then got sarcoidosis to boot… I have improved about 10 watts over the last few months as my last fit-test (lung/heart function may 31st) showed good -potential- form. Hurray!

The new rules

When I stick to my new rules, I feel good. Food has a mayor impact on that; no gluten, no processed foods, no fructose (so no sodas). But more fruits/vegetables and a daily juice of these and a protein-shake before bed. This helps me feel strong and able. Fructose is a nasty thing that’s in so many drinks these days and it’s super bad for your liver energy for instance. Giving up fructose and gluten was most impact full on how I felt and recuperated. Without it, it means less stress to the body and that makes all the difference. Also, when I go away for a ride I should pay extra attention to food and not cheat (believe me I learned). The combination of stress of food and stress of exhaustion it too much and sets me back a few steps immediately.  Summary of new rules: reduce stress!

Dukkha. Maybe I can meditate myself back into shape 😉

Modus-tourismus

So that’s my story, you’re now back up to date. Next up: Passportes du Soleil! The ‘tourist-mode with new rules’ will be put into practice. I’m looking forward to a nice long weekend with friends and the Trek Slash in Morzine.

I’ve also sold my Session 🙁 sad I know, but I bought a new toy that I’ll pick up today and will keep me entertained in modus-tourismus for a while. More on that later!

2012, what’s on the calendar this year?

Yesterday was the first day we could actually enjoy some sun during the ride and after talk. Sign of the birth of a new season, and while plans have already been made long ago, it’s fun to share and let the fun begin.

  • Trek Bike Attack
  • Passportes du Soleil
  • Easyphone Enduro cup
  • L’EREC Dark Dog Enduro Remouchamps
  • Bluegrass enduro Dabo
  • 11Steden-MTBtocht
  • E3 (roadie stuff)

TBA, ofcourse, in August, this year with 10 Dutch girls on the grid. Oh boy… Must be awesome! And a few weeks later, 11steden-MTBtocht. Do me a favor and google “elfstedentocht”, is an iceskating tour of 220km and only held when our winters are fierce enough, which is hardly ever. We came close this year though and that made this subject hot again. The organization of the 11steden-MTBtocht redesigned their route and came to a 3-day event with 260km for duo’s only. So me and my friend Annemieke enrolled just because we can and now we are stuck training for it 😉 It’s good though, because I want to ride the Trans Provence next year and I can use the extra milage.

We had decided against the PPdS this year, but other plans got delayed and we impulsively registered for the PPdS anyway, opted for a few extra days of riding near Morzine, we’ll have a blast!

Speaking of The Blast, this new format of enduro-racing has two dates announced. First in Malmedy and next in the Vosges, just a week before the PPdS. Not the best timing for me, but you should consider, it’ll be legendary!

About 5 races in the Easyphone enduro cup and two others are the races I’ve committed to this year and I think that’ll keep me busy enough this year.

What are your plans?