Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Double header: Erlestoke 6hr and Dorset Gravel Dash 100

Back to my local endurance race, Erlestoke 12 has been blessed with awesome weather for as long as I can remember, unfortunately it wasn't to be this year. A wet week in the run up then torrential race just before the start meant it was going to be a tough day. Being a local i'd pre-empted the mud and set up my spare bike with awesome Maxxis Beaver mud tyres, they are grippy yet fast, just a great tyre, turned from my spare bike, to the bike I rode for the whole race!

I didn't get the best start, being held up, but I was top 10, George Budd, last years winner,  was riding his awesome Salsa Beargrease carbon fat bike, was gone, never to be seen again, but I expected this.

I made steady progress trying to conserve energy through the sections which were unrideable, I was around 5th or 6th, not great but it was a 6hr race, i had time to close them down. Each lap was taking around 50minutes which was reducing my time to catch people, luckily i was getting faster!

I was up to 3rd place with one lap to go, I knew I could catch 2nd, he is a good friend but a competitor, I caught him halfway through the lap, and made sure I kept my pace high. I finished 2nd which i was pleased with, a lap behind George on his fat bike of shame.

I'm glad I raced in the challenging conditions, it disappointments me when people bail because its muddy, running the right tyre make a huge difference.
I got back to my parents, had dinner then got back to Poole. The day after we headed to Swanage for Charlie the Bike Monger Gravel Dash 100, the inaugural 100mile gravel race. I was feeling ok, so i knew i just needed to eat lots and turn the pedals! I rode with my friends for a few hours then left them on the longest climb of the day, I spent the rest of the ride by myself, keen to get back to Swanage. The route was nice, great views and fun terrain, not much single track but it wasn't about that. In all it was 92miles and 6300feet of climbing, just under 8hrs. It given me lots of ideas for new routes and it was nice to hang out with a different type of racers. 14hours of racing and riding in 2 days, the bank holiday was useful for recovery! 
Vacant look after 14hrs of racing in 2day
Trusty chinese 29er, 2500miles old

Friday, 9 May 2014

Gorrick 100 - 7laps

Gorrick 100 is a classic race, it moved from the Swinley Forest to Deepcut barracks last year and to one of my favourite courses at Windmill Hill, but it still starts too early!

With the XC Nationals taking place on the same day a few top riders were missing, but enough fast riders remained! I got a good start off the front row, but I let the front 6 riders go, and was caught by another 2, but I was riding nowhere near my limit, Heart rate was low, knowing it was at least a 5hr race.
The course was great, last years loamey sections had been replaced with well ridden singletrack, which flowed together nicely, I was pedalling a lot, at least 80% of the lap was pedalling!!!

The first 3 laps went without issue, my housemate was also racing had stuck to my wheel, seeming to trust my pacing, at the beginning of the 4th lap I caught a glimpse of a rider in front, so I sped up to make the catch, and proceeded to gap him and my housemate. Later on I caught another rider, so I was upto 4th, feeling ok, with no back issues which everyone else seemed to complain about, maybe my gym sessions do help!?!

Beginning of the 6 lap I just managed to miss the start of the 3 lap race, although I did get caught in their shoddy overtaking, I kept up with a few, but let the fast boys go. By the 7th lap I felt in my groove, the course was still fun and it was quiet. I finished in 5hours 44minutes, and 3rd place, chuffed! finally a good result at the Gorrick 100. My housemate had a good race finishing 6/48. Chapeau to Scott Swalling, 19th on a fat bike!!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

2014 Race bike Review-KTM Myroon 29er

Thought it was about time I wrote a review of my new race bike.

I bought it as frame only through my team. I ride a 19" which comes in about perfect for me, 6ft, but very long legs but I don't like a long reach, so the 608mm top tube suits me well, i'd say upto 6ft 2 would fit depending on leg length etc.

Frame weight is 1250grams, this is on par with most xc race hardtails, maybe 150grams over the lightest frames. The build quality is good, nice paint work, I heli taped most of frame from new to avoid any scuffs. The frame uses a 27.2mm post, this is useful for adding a bit of comfort, but makes dropper post choices limited, so far I've liked the thinner post, no slipping like my Chinese frames.

The frame uses full length cable outer, which runs through the frame, keeps any mud out and avoids the cable fouling in the frame.

Frame uses a 142 x 12 maxle axle, adds stiffness, no issues with this, apart from the supplied KTM one is a bit cheapy.

Overall I've been happy with the frame, a few issues frustrate me; the lack of rear mud clearance. I use Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25" tyres which are a tight squeeze, I only use it for racing so I've yet to experience deep mud, but having had issues in races past with my frame clogging i'm not keen to repeat it, my Chinese frames have much more clearance, with similar seatstay lengths.
The frame uses a PF30 bottom bracket, they seem fragile by nature and SRAM versions are particularly poor, it makes the frame stiffer but I prefer the robustness of external BB's.
Another issue is the lack of SRAM compatibility, the frame comes as standard with a direct mount rear mech hanger which is only compatible with Shimano rear mechs, luckily a SRAM hanger can be ordered in. The frame uses a direct mount front mech, again it is not compatible with SRAM DM front mech's which fouls on the frame, how this is possible on a big brand frame is surprising and annoying.

I've had the bike built with 2 x 10 and 1 x 10 gearing, depending on the race. The built weight is approx. 21pounds built as 1 x 10, depending on tyre choice. Mixed of SRAM X0 drivetrain, Hope Race X2 Brakes, Lefty XLR 29er fork & Strada Carbon Wheels.

Overall the frame makes a good xc race hard tail, it feels more lively compared to my chinese frames, I can live with the frustrations, but i feel they could be improved upon.