Sunday Muddy Sunday

Mountain bikers are some of the hardiest fools around- whilst families are queueing up outside cosy country pubs for Sunday lunch and students are sleeping off tinnitus and gout, we’re out in the mud and filth, shredding the best trails around in our beautiful countryside...

I ride a lot, but normally my XC missions are solo, as friends seem to make excuses for not coming out on a lung burner. But Sunday was to be a good ride with Jamer and Irish Ric, except at 9.55am with a banging hangover, I'd forgotten Jamer was to meet at mine for 10am. Bugger. 

Whilst he downed a cuppa and made a nuisance of himself, I bumbled around trying to get ready in the only way a person with 5hrs sleep after a dinner party could have done. Needless to say the sooner I got out the door, the better I felt. Hooking up with Ric we began the arsehole climb up to the top of Lansdown - not the one without being warmed up and a hangover. The only way I can get to grips with hills like this is the get on with it and get a sweat on- by the time I got to the top and had finished feeling like I was about to blow chunks, I felt spot on. And so the ride ensued… 

There are a lot of ace down-hills in bath, and one of my favourites is known locally as Barnstormer. It’s an old tractor track littered with baby head rocks and hub-deep puddles of slop- best hit flat out. When we reached the bottom, it looked like we’d been out for a 5hr mud plug- not how you’d normally look like at the bottom of the first descent! 

 

Our ride took us all around the back end of Bath- and the conditions were horrific. I hate wind- especially at the end of a ride when you’re really tired… On the way back, Ric split off to head home and myself and Jamer headed via the potential Bath Urban DH route that I scoped out with Scott Beaumont and Chris Roberts. But more on that soon… 

Winter is a great season for testing as natures grinding paste wears stuff out fast, and the slop really tests out tyres. I’ve been running a full XTR groupset on my Commencal for the best part of a year now, and I’m really impressed with it all. The cranks have been fit and forget numbers that look clean and tidy and get on with the job- although I did manage to bend the outer chain ring on a rock, but an adjustable spanner soon fixed that. Shifting-wise, the new XTR shadow mech is simply brilliant- the low profile means knocking it on a rock would be really unlucky- sometimes I have to crane my neck round to check it’s even there as I can’t see it by looking down! 

The shifter too are brilliant- but I’ll spare you the waffle on those, as they won the group test in our latest issue, so you can read all about them there! Finally, the Hayes Stroker brakes are really impressive. Personally I don’t like the appearance of the lever unit, but they feel really good- just the right amount of progression but retaining a nice woody feel. And they laugh in the face of mud, water and even Muc-off- not that you should get that stuff anywhere near your brakes of course!

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