Sunday, 27 January 2013

January Update: Snow Rides and Bike Fits

January has flown by! after the disappointment of Brass Monkeys I tried not let it distract me from the more important races.

Luckily it snowed which was a welcome change to my usual trails, single speeds are good fun in the snow. Check some of my rides here

Next up I went for a bike fit at Fit2Ride near Wareham in Dorset. I've wanted a pro bike fit for a while, so when I got proper road shoes for xmas I decided that it was good time to go. I thought I had it my road bike set up quite well, turns out my saddle was too low, and I was far to far behind the crank spindle. With my fit dialled I was making 10-12watts  more power with a lower heart rate for a given cadence. Luckily my pedal stroke was already very smooth, and my handlebar drop was described as pro level, I guess having no excess baggage make it easier to have low bars. The same aspects where applied to my 29er, which now feels much faster. 

I really recommend a fitting, people think they can "feel" their bike setup, but something so important should be left to the pro's.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Magicshine MJ872 1600 lumen: A Review

I've been a big fan of night rides for the last few year, there are lots of good reasons to ride at night; it improves your technical skills, keeps you fit during the winter, makes riding all year and all conditions possible, helps with those summer 24hr team races when the sun goes down and it's FUN! A good set of lights gives you access to all this fun!

When I bought my first light almost 6 years ago it was £60 and it wasn't really bright enough for riding off road at any pace, the battery life was poor, it was heavy and gave no indication of remaining battery life. Fast forward to present day and there is a huge choice. I’ve owned several Exposure lights, they have very good build quality and nice features, but these come at a premium, the cost. An Exposure light suitable as a main light starts at £200 which is a lot of money for a casual rider who wants to dabble in night riding.

Enter Magicshine, originally they could be bought direct from China, but now its much easier to get hold of them, with several UK distributors selling at the same prices.

I tested the £90 Magicshine MJ872, with a claimed maximum output of 1600 lumen it's almost as bright as my £450 Exposure Six Pack.
Magicshine MJ872

I'd never seen the light before testing it, but I had it installed on my bike within 5minutes, the light head mounted on my bars with the simple, but secure O-ring mount, making angle adjustment simple and tool-free, the battery pack tucked away under my top tube. It was a nice change to have the low profile light head on the bars instead of my large Six Pack.

The light was very simple to use, the brightness button was easy to operate even with thick winter gloves, and once I understood the button had a brightness up & down function as part of the same button it was easy to adjust the brightness. It had 4 brightness settings, the button indicates the remaining charge by changing colour, the same as an Exposure light.

I used it in conjunction with a Helmet light as I like to look around whilst riding and it helps illuminate twisty single track, and I understand this light can be helmet mounted with the correct mounts and leads, which can be purchased cheaply. The beam pattern was a large flood of light, which is what I am used to, so it felt familiar.

In conclusion the light was brilliant for the money its costs and for the rider experimenting with night riding and the casual night rider it is perfectly suited and a great investment, for me personally I still think my Exposure lights have the edge, due to their slightly lighter weight and longer battery life which is essential for races like Dusk 'til Dawn where it was dark for 9 hours, even with my Exposure lights it was hard to race all night, but they lasted 8 hours and helped me to second overall.
Brighton MTB night ride

Monday, 14 January 2013

Gorrick Brass Monkey's Rd.3: Lessons must be learnt

I had been looking forward to the last round of the Brass Monkey’s series,I was 7th overall and felt I was in good shape after a good xmas training week, and I liked the venue.

My biggest concern before the race was the weather, I feel the cold quite easily, so made sure I dressed in warm, but not too warm clothing. I went through my typical race prep, and lined up for the start, we held a minutes silence over the tragic death of Burry Stander, South African Marathon racer, and a personal hero of mine.

For once I got a relatively good start, made good progress passing through the faster starters once the terrain ramped up. Working through the singletrack I caught and passed a rider I thought would be a front runner, this gave me confidence and i settled into my pace, but then disaster struck!

I landed on the back of my saddle, and the saddle clamp gave way. Game over, i got back to the pits and tried to tighten it but it was shot, I finished the lap, disappointed but that is racing sometimes, and mistakes are made. I spent the rest of the race cheering on my competitors, whilst trying to keep warm!

From the experience I will take that I can’t assume things that perform well during training will perform as well during racing, speeds are higher, forces are different. Racing goes on, I have no major targets until the National Marathon Championships in April, from now until then I will concentrate on quality training, with one week of warm weather training in Gran Canaria at the end of february, which is something i’ve never done before.