Shaun Lewis | Transalps | WA 12hr | riding the Canary Islands | nutrition for stage races | BMC | GT | Jamis
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FRAME/FORK: Felt SIX Carbon XC series UHM carbon fiber. Modular Monocoque: 1 Piece carbon dropouts,1250grams; RockShox Reba SL 100mm DRIVETRAIN: Shimano SLX Shifter; SLX FD; SLX “SHADOW” RD; SLX 44/32/22t Crankset WEIGHT: 10.7kg/23.6lbs
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D BY E T N E PRES
Riders get the knobbies humming during the Transalp stage race. Photo courtesy of Jeantex Bike Transalp powered by Nissan
Cover Photo: Shaun Lewis riding the rocks at Stromlo Forest Park during the ’09 National XC Champs. Photo: Adam MacLeod
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Photo: Adam MacLeod
This is the 11th Issue of Enduro. Enduro started out as a magazine slapped together in a couple of weeks with plenty of midnight sessions, then thrown in an old van and driven to the Mont 24hr in Canberra in ’04. Born out of a vision, passion, enthusiasm and hard work, Enduro has had an action-packed history. It began as a magazine to accompany the Mont 24hr, full of advice, tips and stories centred around 24hr racing, and quickly developed from there. Like a foal leaving its mother, in ’07, we started releasing Enduro more than once a year, and not necessarily in conjunction with the Mont 24hr race, and what had started as a glorified 24hr brochure became a stand alone magazine. Enduro began as a means to reflect the way the Aussie mountain bike scene was developing and 11 issues on we still have the same aim. We have followed the trends (24hr racing, 100km racing and now, stage racing) but have constantly been looking to the fringes for possible new, or just interestingly different, trends. Either way
we’ve tried to maintain that connection with the Aussie enduro scene, something that certainly gives Enduro a unique and genuine flavour. As often happens when you start something with no plans to necessarily continue, Enduro’s popularity has exceeded any of our expectations and, especially after a few beers on Friday arvo, makes us pretty proud to have seen it grow. In this issue you’ll see more developments and changes: a column looking at our industry, a dedicated girls’ section, a section introducing our columnists, some pages dedicated to reader’s training and, of course, more tips to get you excited about riding. And while we no longer necessarily drive to 24hr races with boxes of magazines, ink still drying, and the manic midnight sessions are fewer and farther apart, Enduro is still as it started: a magazine for the riders. Have a good read and hit up some trails! Willo
SORE NECK OR SHOULDERS FROM RIDING? RELIEVE THE PAIN FAST! Guarantee Your Absolute Iron Clad
You’ve probably never thought about what you’re doing to your body every time you go out for a ride “hunched up” over the handlebars for hours on end. No matter how well adjusted your bike, the problem is that in the head forward cycling position the load on your neck and shoulders doubles for every 2-3cm your head moves forward! The result is that you may feel pain in the neck (which may radiate into the arm and hand), in the shoulders or in the upper back and may include symptoms
other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling. Now a safe and simple remedy, the Posturepole, is available from health professionals or through the web. It helps relieve tension, re-align your spine and gives quick relief in just 5-10 minutes! Ideal for cyclists, it’s terrific for after-ride relaxation and upper body stretch and at just $69.95 it’s great value. You’ll have happy memories of your ride rather than sore neck, shoulders and arms!
Purchase a Posturepole and try it for 90 days. If, within that time, you don’t get relief from back pain quickly and effectively after bike riding…you be the sole judge… we will instantly refund every cent you paid. No questions asked!
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Photo: La Ruta 2008/Mayela López-José Salazar
It’s all well and good reading about an awesome trail adventure, or epic stage race, but who are the people behind these stories? Here’s a snapshot of a few of our contributors:
Brian Cooke Brian, or ‘Big Bri’, is a local of Canmore in Canada, host of the World Solo 24hr Champs. We met him at his bike shop, Bicycle Café, last year when we were over there for the 24hr Worlds. Back then he was just about to set off on another TransRockies adventure. He likes the stage races, which is why he travelled to Costa Rica late last year for the La Ruta de los Conquistadores. He also likes a laugh, making him the perfect choice for some running commentary in the article.
Andrew Blair ‘Blairy’ loves riding. He represented Australia in cross country at the World Champs in the late ‘90’s but then he got sick. He worked out that his sickness was in fact an intollerance to gluten, so he cut it out of his diet and has never looked back. Now he’s back into it, without a loaf of bread or bag of pasta in sight, and keener than ever. He did plenty of racing overseas in ‘08, including the Transalps featured in this issue of Enduro. His ’09 schedule looks similarly hectic so you can expect more north-side reporting from him in the future.
Hamish Elliot Riding for Rockstar Racing, ‘Hamo’ is a bit of a shredder on the bike and not too bad with a pen either. He’s won plenty, including the Dirt Works 100km race and Noosa Enduro, and was also Craig Gordon’s key supporter when he won the World 24hr Champs in ’06, since featured in the film 24 Solo. In this issue he gives us an insight into the popular Sydney Fat Tyre Festival.
CREW ISSUE 11 publisher Freewheel Media Adam Macleod editor james williamson email@example.com SUB Editor mikkeli godfree firstname.lastname@example.org art director | designer Niki fisher Niki@designbypeppi.com.au www.designbypeppi.com.au Editorial assistants Mikkeli Godfree, Joel Mcfarlane-Roberts, Peter Knight, James Williamson editorial contributors James Williamson, Joel Mcfarlane-Roberts, Hamish Armstrong, Nic Eccles, Peter Hatton, Peter Knight, Niki Fisher, Robbie Morris, Dan Mackay, Steve Partridge, Evan Jeffery, Liam Delany, Hamish Elliot, Jason English, Kath Bicknell, Travis Deane, Mark Fenner, Anthony Zahra, Brian Cooke, Wayne Chapman, William Bird, Raymond Leddy, Dion Shaw snaparazzi Damian Breach, Mikkeli Godfree, Adam Macleod, Adam McGrath, Travis Deane, Russ Baker, Sportograf, Benoit Bohly, Niki Fisher, Jo Frew, Krystle Wright, Wayne Chapman, Donna Kelly, Kyria Tame, Evan Jeffery, Sven Martin/Absa Cape Epic, Craft Bike Trans Germany powered by Nissan, Jeantex Bike Transalp powered by Nissan, La Ruta 2008/Mayela López-José Salazar, Norm Douglas, Eric Li – Canberra Pictorial, Joe Ward advertising editorial ph: +613 9853 0841 mob: 0438 292 006 email: Adam@freewheel.com.au post correspondence to 29 loch st, kew, vic 3101 Articles printed in this publication are the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editors or publishers of enduro. www.freewheel.com.au print post approved PP320258/0114
Expect plenty of open, green paddocks in the Craft Bike Trans Germany Photo courtesy of Craft Bike Trans Germany powered by Nissan
Terra Australis 29th March-4th April
Australian Marathon Champs TBA
According to Iain Moore, Director of Finish The Australian Marathon Champs were to Line Events and organiser of the race, “This be held at Wondong, Victoria on the 29th of race is in the true spirit of the overseas March but with the February fires ripping stage races. The days will be long and we’ll through the area, the section of forest be heading up plenty of mountains.” has been closed. At the time of printing, Described as the ‘Great Southern new details for the event are yet to be anMountain Bike Epic’, the Terra Australis nounced. Keep an eye on the website is a new stage race for Australia in 2009, for updates. traversing the high peaks and exploring www.bighillevents.com.au historic high country villages. The race 4// promises amazing scenery and some sweet singletrack. It’s a seven day stage race entered in April 4th and 5th April 2009 teams of two or three. Riders work together as a team throughout the race, similar For 2009, the organisers have created a to overseas events like the Cape Epic and riders’ event at the new home of the Mont the TransRockies. The race will take riders - Sparrow Hill, ACT. Anyone who has ridden from the alpine town of Falls Creek to the Sparrow’s famous trail network knows inland city of Wangaratta. that the Mont in ‘09 should be a blast. This If you want to put all that summer fityear’s course is loaded with fast-flowing ness to good use in a tough but rewardsingle track through both pines and naing 7-day stage race, check out the Terra tives, and is full of challenges for first-time Australis. 24 hour participants and pro riders alike. www.terraaustralismtbepic.com Capturing the relaxed atmosphere of Monts past, the spacious Sparrow camping 2// ground will be close to the track, allowing team members to motivate those dawn riders with shouts of ‘encouragement’ and 21-22 March the sweet smell of wok-fried bacon! As with the Mont in 2007, you can camp by Set in the ski resort of Mount Buller in the your car or do it in style with a caravan or Victorian Alps, the Bike Buller MTB Festival motor home – lugging your heavy gear in to is a new race on the calendar offering the venue is just not done at the Mont. three stages including a 7km downhill race This event is as much about camaradeand a big party on Saturday to make sure rie and having a great weekend away with things don’t get too serious. Mt Buller has your mates and family as it is about racing been quietly establishing its mountain bike hard and exceeding your own expectations. credentials under renowned trail builder There will be plenty going on off the Glen Jacobs, so expect some awesome bike too. At the event village you can check trails in a great alpine setting. out the latest gear from event sponsors, www.bikebullermtbfestival.com
Bike Buller MTB Festival
demo some new season bikes, talk up your performances with other riders and fuel up on an enormous range of food options from local vendors. Of course, coffee carts will be there to keep you well caffeinated throughout the event, as life is too short for bad coffee let alone no coffee. The organisers invite you to get into the spirit of the event by heading out on the Friday night to enjoy a great Sydney pub band. The Velvet Action. There’ll be food on hand and the word is that a local premium brewer will make an appearance to quench your thirst. Why not bail out of work early and make your way out to the campground ahead of the Saturday scramble. However or whatever you ride, it promises to be a big weekend! www.mont24.com.au 5//
BMC 100k Classic race 19th April
Only it its second year, the BMC 100 went down a treat in ’08 and is guaranteed to be a very popular day out again this year. While other 100km races go for big hills and lots of fire road, the BMC 100 is the mountain biker’s 100 with heaps of singletrack and not too many big climbs. The race goes through the popular Wombat State Forest trails and promises no tarmac. You can race the 100km or 50km option. There’s also an 18km option, but it’s only for riders less than 16yrs so train up and we’ll see you there! www.maxadventure.com.au
Titus 24hr MTB Challenge & 6hr Corporate Challenge
Anaconda MTB Enduro 25-29th May
Craft Bike Trans Germany powered by Nissan 21-27th June
Enduro went to Alice Springs for this race Held at Benobble, Canungra, 40 minutes inWe don’t usually preview overseas events last year and we had a great week. The land from Brisbane, the Titus 24hr is a great but this one is new and it looks pretty cool. trails through the local MacDonnell ranges excuse to get away for the weekend. Each It traverses the mountains from West to provide plenty of variety, as do the stages lap of the course will be about 9km long, East Germany. It’s hilly too – 15300m of on offer – from a 90k epic to a 45 second meaning you’re never too far from transivertical climbing over 660km. Much like the hill sprint. Logistically the race is also a tion. The terrain in the area is not too deTransalps featured in this issue, don’t exbreath of fresh air, with all stages starting manding too, with singletrack, switchbacks, pect heaps of singletrack but if big mounand finishing around a central event hub. fire roads, and flowing downhill sections to tains, Euro vibes and awesome scenery are The majestic scenery, crisp mornings and keep the fun factor high. Incorporated in your thing, this event looks to be right up open blue skies cap off an awesome week. the event is the corporate 6hr challenge, a your alley! We’ll be back, hope to see you there! separate 6hr race for a bit of out-of-thewww.bike-transgermany.de www.anacondamtbenduro.com office bonding amongst work mates. The 11// race is open to solo riders and teams so you 9// can take it as seriously or relaxed as you like. The race will also offer toilets, showers, 30th January-2nd February 2010 music and spicy race commentary. 30th May www.twowheelpromotions.com.au The Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB is still al7// It’s been muttered about amongst Canmost a year away but based on its popularberra locals for years, it’s been ridden as a ity in previous years it’ll sell out fast! There social ride with mates, but it’s never been a are only 400 places on offer and entries race…until now. The Capital Punishment will open 1st June ’09. It’s a four day race with 3rd May traverse all the popular trail networks in 140km of racing and 60km of ‘cruise’ stages This ever-popular 100k race in one of the Canberra – Sparrow Hill, Kowen Forest, Maand takes riders from the mountains to the bigger 100k races in the Aussie scene and jura Pines, Bruce Ridge and Black Mountain, sea through Tasmania’s west coast. Stage it sells out rapidly every year. The course is and finish up at Mt Stromlo. For those not races are the latest craze in the enduro has some tough climbs, rocky terrain and up to the 100km, there is a 50km option as mountain bike scene at the moment but some awesome scenery. It’s already sold out well. With such some of the tastiest trails Wildside started it all. for the year though so if you’re one of the in Australia on the menu, the Capital Punwww.wildsidemtb.com lucky ones, consider those who missed out ishment is guaranteed to keep you buzzing and try to enjoy every moment for them! through winter! www.maxadventure.com.au www.arocsport.com.au
Capital Punishment 100k
Dirt Works 100
The Clict Photo Annual is 196 pages of awesome MOUNTAINBIKE photography capturing the best downhill and freeriders out there. While slightly more fast-paced than slogging it up a hill in a 24hr race, it’s a great read and offers some pretty inspiring visuals for those rainy days. THIS HARD CASED BOOK IS the PERFECT ADDITION TO your COFFEE TABLE COLLECTION
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The Canmore Nordic Centre provided a spectacular race village for the Solo World 24hr Champs in ’08, expect a very similar set up this year. Photo: Adam McGrath
Verticon 6 Hr Enduro Despite the threat of rain there was a real sense of anticipation as riders prepared for the Verticon 6hr Enduro. Located in the Gold Coast Hinterland, this Canungra venue was hosting only its second event, and to many riders the first lap would be an adventure of discovery. The course is characterised by a gentle grassy climb followed by a dusty descent passing close to the start/finish providing great viewing for spectators. Much of the 6Km course has tree cover, with switchback climbs, rocky descents and some sandy areas in between providing interest to the 300 plus riders. The low cloud cover kept the temperature down, and by the mid-way point some intense battles were underway. In the final hour activity increased as teams and solo riders pushed for that last extra lap, with 1 team squeezing in with 2 secs to spare. As some tired and very dirty riders completed their laps, the final results were being checked. Matthew Faehrmann completed 18 laps to win the men’s solo class, Gina Costley the women’s solo class with 11 laps and team BSOA (with a 16:16 fastest lap of the day), completed 20 laps to win the 3 Person open class and the outright victory. Two Wheel Promotions are still developing the course at Canungra and more course changes are planned for future events – Anthony Zahra. www.twowheelpromotions.com.au
Pivot Cycles Summer Enduro Series November – January saw the Western Sydney Mountain Bike Club host the Pivot Cycles Summer Enduro Series. The three races were supported, in turn, by local bike shops Lifecycles, Blackman Bicycles and Panther Cycles with the middle round run as a twilight race. Attendance was high with 238 riders at the final event. The shorter 4hr length, enduro format race saw some new faces giving the solo category a go, and was a great chance for local riders to catch up and to put their fitness to the test over the Christmas season. Nicholas Menager took out the series solo win, and Karen Donnelly put in consistent rides to take out the women’s - Kath Bicknell.
Kona 24hr The Kona 24hr is set in the increasingly popular Forrest trails in the Otway Ranges, close to Apollo Bay in Victoria. The race is a relaxed affair, run over three different courses throughout the event so riders can experience the full range of singletrack in the region. Aussie 24hr Champ Jason English was there and re-caps his 24hrs. “On Saturday we got out to the race about 9:30am with just enough time to bust open the bike boxes and assemble the race machines. I was keen for a sleep and the race was just about to start!
I haven’t done many 24hr races where both teams and solo riders head out together and it made it hard to know who you were actually racing against. As per normal, we started the race at a fairly stupid pace but I was determined to ride to heart rate and kept backing off to ensure I was riding at a suitable intensity. The night stage really hurt because of sleep deprivation from travelling on Friday night. Every lap I begged my wife Jen to let me have a 15min nap but she wouldn’t allow it until about 4am where she said I could try and sleep for 5min. It’s funny how I was falling asleep on the bike yet sitting in the chair at transition didn’t have the same effect. I recall a moment in the race where a giant sleep monster was trying to pull me off the bike. I was drifting in and out of sleep while riding a fire road. I looked down and noticed my heart rate was between 70 and 80bpm... I was suffering big time and I couldn’t shake the monster. I have never been so tired in a 24hr race. I wasn’t going to pull the pin, but I was amazed at how bad I felt. In the early morning my 60min plus lead shrunk down to under 30mins but as soon as the sun came up my body decided it was a new day and it was ready to race again. My legs felt fresh from taking it so easily during the night and I really started to enjoy riding again! The 3rd loop started at 6am and I really enjoyed it. It had a few fun technical sections and high speed cornering. I managed to lap
the field by about 8am in the morning which meant I could just ride around with second place until the time ticked down. It was good to have some company again on the fairly quiet track. Riding over the line together with second place we decided at 10:30am that we were far enough ahead of the other riders to finish early! I really need to thank my wife Jen, my BMC bikes, and all the locals down in Melbourne and Forrest for making this race a possibility for me.” Thanks to Jason for an account of his 22.5hr win.
World 24hr Champs return to Canmore, Canada Canmore was host to the mountainous and muddy World Championships in ’08 that saw the Aussies take a clean sweep of the podium. This year’s race will be held on the 25th and 26th of July and, with entries already half full, you better get in quick if you want to be there. The Canmore region is as picturesque as anywhere and the Nordic Centre event-hub provides an awesome 24hr race atmosphere. There are rumours that the largely fire road course of last year will be replaced by more singletrack to keep things interesting but, based on last year, you can expect plenty of hills, some bears and maybe some mud. www.24hoursofadrenalin.com
Gordo to Canada? Word is that Rockstar Racing’s Craig Gordon and Hamish Elliot could be heading to Canada to race the BC Bike Race and (maybe) have another head-to-head battle with Chris Eatough, 24 Solo-style. It’s all rumours, but it’d be good to see these singletrack-shredding Aussies give the Yanks another shake-up, stay tuned.
Tahune Marathon – Tasmania The Tahune 100km and 50km MTB Marathon was held on the 7th of February and also doubled as the Tasmanian Marathon Championships. The race was held deep in the south of Tasmania in the majestic Tahune Forest nestled in the Hartz Mountains. Given the hot weather over the previous two weeks, I don’t think anyone was prepared for the 40mm of rain that showered over the 300 competitors during the race. With some strong riders making up the field including Olympian Sid Taberlay and newly crowned Women’s National XC Champion Rowena Fry, it was going to be a fast day no matter what the conditions. The mass start from the bridge was kicked off by Premier David Bartlett and the pace started pretty conservatively before hitting the singletrack where the race was on! After some challenging muddy descents and slippery climbs it quickly turned into a five man bunch at the front which I was
happy to be involved in. After a gradual rock laden fire trail there were three left at the front as I struggled to keep in touch. As the rain continued to fall, so did the competitors with numerous riders pulling out with broken bikes or brake pads worn to the metal. Over the next 60 km it was a mixture of clay, sand, stone and dense forest. Even the logging roads proved tough as the rain had soaked through the top layer which made it feel like riding through wet cement. The 2275 meters of climbing over the 100km also helped to make it a tough day out. It was a welcome site to see the 10 km to go sign where riders passed through some spectacular dense forest. From there it was onto two swinging suspension bridges and onto a gravel-laden walking track marking a sprint to the finish line, a very welcome sight. Sid (‘The Bear’) Taberlay took the race out and promptly passed out on a table in the food hall – testament to the toughness of the event. Ben Grieve-Johnson and Nathan Earle from Praties Cycling rounded out the rest of the podium. In the women’s race there was no denying the form of Rowena Fry, who finished 40 minutes in front of her nearest competitor Lee Schultz from Victoria, with local Mel Webber taking out third. After the mud cleared everyone had a smile on their face, the stories started and the beer flowed. We all had Tamed the Tahune - Dion Shaw www.tahunemtbmarathon.com.au
Rocky Mountain ‘09 Preview The idea of taking a Nishiki roadie, popping some wide tyres on it, and calling it a mountain bike seems like a recipe for a pretty sorry end. Well maybe today; but in 1978 such goings on lead to the start of Rocky Mountain Bikes. Theirs is the classic tale of the upstart mountain bike company, gardening gloves-and-all starting at the ground floor and working its way up to sit among the current premium brands. Given their status, it’s a fine thing that we’re welcoming the Canadian bikes back to Australia after a brief absence, to give the discerning rider even more hot options for a new bike. I had the pleasure of being introduced to their 2009 range of mountain bikes out at the Lysterfield MTB course on a Wednesday when I should have been sitting at my desk. Now that’s more like it. The Rocky Mountain guys had brought their most promising rides
and were accompanied by the people from Adventure Brands, the new distributors for Rocky Mountain in Australia, who were there to set the bikes up and tune the suspension for the gathered industry types of widely varied weight… For most of the day I rode the Element 50, a cross country racing bike that, quite frankly, I didn’t want to give up and share with the others. I haven’t felt that fast on the dirt in a long time as the suspension setup allowed for out of the saddle cranking with minimal bobbing, while still doing a fine plush job on the rough downhill sections. This thing felt like a rocket in the twisty singletrack in between the trees too. The Element offered a great ride but I did ride the other bikes as well, and it just confirmed what the Element 50 exemplifies about the Rocky Mountain approach. All the bikes are designed in-house and designed for Canadian conditions. This means they
include simple stuff that works, like reverse seat clamps to keep the mud out and down tube shaping to deflect debris. The technology side of things is obviously well advanced and would require a couple of pages to get into, check their website for all the nitty-gritty on suspension-geometry, material-tech. and setup. What the Element 50 showed me was that the passion for riding that inspired people to hit the dirt on road frames with hacked-up parts is still alive and well at Rocky Mountain 30 years on. The bikes coming to Australia all have a really solid mix of parts and represent another fine choice for Aussie riders when it comes to replace, upgrade or simply expand your collection. Thanks to Adventure Brands for the preview ride, and welcome back Rocky Mountain – Peter Knight www.adventurebrands.com.au
Below: riders gather for the Bushfire Relief 6 hr Photo: Rodney Sims
Above and below: a close-up of the Element rear suspension design; From left: the racy 100mm travel Element, the upwards of 200mm travel Flatline, and the 150mm travel ‘Super XC’ Slayer are all ready to roll
You Yangs Bushfire Relief 6hr If you organised a race 6 days out, pulled it off with an awesome atmosphere and slick management and with a generous $3600 from MTBA, raised close to $37000, you’d feel pretty chuffed I reckon. And that’s exactly what the Victorian clubs did in mid-Feb with awesome support from the bike industry, all in the name of helping out those who’d suffered in the Victorian bushfires. The Bushfire Relief 6hr also doubled as Round One of the Victorian Enduro Series and was held on the 15th of February at the You Yangs regional park. With over 320 competitors rocking up to give it their best, it was perfect high-20’s weather and the course was one of the best out there. It was broken up with two major climbs interspersed with flowing, undulating terrain and two ripper descents. The mix of having a greater cause for the day and a relaxed race crew, including comical race commentary from Richard Grant, made the mood at the event something special – relaxed and appreciative for the fun that mountain biking offers. Money was raised by selling a ‘truck load’ of raffle tickets and by randomly fining people $5 for doing such things as warming up before a lap, doing a skid in transition, or accidentally dropping a naughty word. The focus of the presentations was on the fund raising raffle and auction. The combined enthusiasm throughout the presentation was a real experience, even to the point that $1,500 was kindly donated by event organisers Rapid Ascent for Steve Clausen (GMBC President) to race a base-model mountain bike for the 100km Otway Odyssey the following weekend. It was a memorable day, probably the most memorable in the Victorian enduro scene in recent memory and should be for some time to come. The day was capped of with a heartfelt presentation from a competitor who’d lost his house, bikes and everything else in the recent fires but still managed to get out there for a ride. Details on other Vic Enduro Series events can be found at: www.mountainbikevictoria.com
GT Golden Bike Series Kicking off at the Mont 24hr in Australia in April, this is an exciting GT global competition to win a sweet rig – the fastest trail-legal bike GT has ever made, featuring a golden carbon monocoque frame and boutique XTR components. All you have to do win is be the fastest amateur rider out there. “The idea is simple: the only way to get the Golden Bike is to crush the competition”, said Jenni Cathcart, Director of Marketing for GT Bicycles. “Win one of the Golden Bike races and you’ll go home with the GT Golden Bike.” Basically it’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all over again, but different. The GT Golden Bike is available in three models. If you want a hardtail you can go for the Zaskar; if a dually is more your thing you can choose the lightweight Marathon, or the 6inch travel Force. All three models come with the unique ‘Golden Bike’ paintwork. Just to add a bit more excitement for Aussie readers, the first race of the Golden Bike Series will be the Mont 24hr race in
Canberra on April 4th and 5th. From Canberra, the series will travel around the world to twenty one officially sanctioned Golden Bike races held in Germany, South Africa, Japan and Portugal, just to name a few. Racers are encouraged to enter as many of the races across the world as they like, but they can only win one Golden Bike. To be eligible to win the Golden Bike at the Mont 24hr, riders will have to complete at least five laps of the course. The rider’s fastest four laps will then be averaged out and the person with fastest average lap time will take home the Golden Bike. This competition is all about showcasing the unsung heroes of our sport – the amateurs, who have to fit in work, family and personal commitments around their sport, but still make time to get out there for a ride. Any rider who gets paid to race, got their bike from a sponsor, or holds a professional cycling license is not eligible. All racers must also be over 18 years of age. www.gtisgolden.com
4. 5. 2.
1. Serfas Tigu Ti saddle
This is a competition MTB saddle that comes with a bit of comfort, and tubular titanium rails you can brag to your mates about. With a synthetic Lorica leather cover, it has a high back section for comfort and dual density base for bump absorption. In subtle two tone finish, it also looks stealth. www.velovita.com.au 2. Torq Recovery $46.95 (500g), $117.50 (1500g) Available in two flavours: Chocolate Orange and Banana & Mango, Torq Recovery is designed to refuel fatigued muscles allowing you to bounce back from a tough day quicker. The powder has a mix of whey protein to carbohydrate at a 3:1 ratio. For optimum effect, it’s recommended that you take it within 15 minutes of exercise, when your muscles are most receptive. With skim milk powder included, you simply add water, shake it up and enjoy fresher legs the next day. www.torqaustralia.com.au
3. Rock Shox Reba Team
The Reba has been a popular fork since its release, offering light weight and stiffness. This latest Reba takes the stiffness equation a bit further with the tool-free Maxle QR 20mm axle, great for cornering confidence. The Reba Team also comes with all the adjustment options we are familiar with from Rockshox; external rebound, lock-out with threshold adjustment and the dual-air compression system. If you want a stiff, light enduro fork, these are a solid option. www.monzabicycle.com.au 4. Torq Bars $3.50 (individual) $84 (Box of 24) For an energy bar, these are impressively full of ‘real food’ like oats, raisins and puffed rice. They come in four flavours, have a high carb content and very little fat. Unlike other artificial or dry-tasting energy bars out there, these are moist, tasty, easy to eat, and have all the important ingredients to keep you punching out the pedal strokes. www.torqaustralia.com.au
5. Salsa Selma
$1949 (frame only)
Singlespeed riding is all about getting away from the race scene and enjoying the simplicity of riding, right? Not with the Selma, a bike Salsa calls its “dedicated singlespeed 29’er race frame.” With scandium aluminium tubing it’s light and with an eccentric bottom bracket, it’s simple to adjust chain tension. It also features flattened rear seat-stays and chain-stays for increased bump absorption. Who said singlespeed bikes were simple? If you’re one who wants to know just how fast you can go with one gear, the Selma could be just your thing. www.dirtworkscom.au 6. NiteRider Cherry Bomb LED
NiteRider has put itself on the map by making lights to help you see, this one is all about being seen. It has a multi-directional beam pattern that directs light to the sides as well as the rear, increasing visibility. It also incorporates a reflector, so if you forget to turn it on you’ll still be visible in the truck headlights. It has flash and steady modes and runs on two AAA batteries. www.jetblackproducts.com
7. Syncros FL Grunge Stem
This is a pretty tough looking stem for cross country and marathon use – even tougher with the words ‘grunge’ next to its name. If you think it looks a bit odd, that’s because it uses ‘bi-oval’ technology that keeps strength high and weight low. It’s light, has a six degree rise and comes in a range of sizes from 70-120mm. www.dirtworks.com.au 8. CygoLite Trion
This is a neat idea for those who want a bright, lightweight and simple bike light without any messy wires or complicated battery mounts. The Trion is a wireless one-piece unit that pumps out a whopping 600 Lumens and lasts 2.5-12 hours depending on the brightness setting. It comes with a 3-stage battery indicator, so you know when your getting low, takes a bit less than 4 hours to charge, and includes a quick release bar mount. We’re keen to get our hands on one and take it to the trails, stay tuned. www.bicorp.com.au
9. Bikinvention Squirt Lube
This is a wax based lube that is designed to be durable and keep the chain clean, no degreasing required. If hearing the words ‘wax lube’ brings back nightmares of a separated and claggy water-like substance that doesn’t do a thing to quieten your chain, don’t worry, this lube is different. Excess lube dries and falls off your chain, rather than gathering and forming a nasty paste. Stay tuned for an in-depth test. www.squirtlube.com 10. Serfas Mirador
Lock-on grips are everywhere these days and for good reason. If you’ve ever had your grips come off in a muddy race you’ll know why people use lock-ons. These ones come in loud green just to keep things interesting. They have lock-on clamps which are compatible with the ODI system, and a funky looking grip complete with the Lizard Skins logo. www.bicorp.com.au 12. Avid Elixir CR
These big-windowed shades come with four different lens options and include soft nose pads and temple tips for added comfort. They also come with a hard case and lens cleaning bag. Featuring vents at each side of the lens to prevent fogging, they’re a great option for stylin it up both on and off the bike. www.velovita.com.au
11. Lizard Skins Logo Lock-On
160mm CR: $349.95 | 185mm $359.95 This is the brake from Avid that’s been receiving plenty of attention for stopping power and modulation. With the new TaperBore technology and finished in a strong black, they have looks and performance all wrapped up. There’s also a carbon lever blade option for those who just have to have it. Being Avid, they have tool-free reach adjustment and come in at a decent weight – around 380grams (an end). www.monzabicycle.com.au
13. Knog BIG DOG
The suitably named BIG DOG is, well, pretty big. It has enough room for a 17” laptop and just about anything else you’d care to throw in. Big isn’t its only strength, it’s also got plenty of pockets and a water resistant covering with taped and sealed seams for those hectic, traffic-and-rain-bashing commutes. It all locks down with a plastic buckle system, ski-boot style and comes with a waist strap so you can wear it as you would a backpack. We’re testing it now, look for a review next issue. www.knog.com.au 14. Look Quartz Pedal
The Quartz pedal is new from Look. The pedals range in price from a base model with steel axle and glass-fibre polyamide body, to the Carbon Ti model with Ti axle and carbon fibre body. The pedal design makes for a lightweight system that also clears mud well and offers a solid pedal platform. www.groupesportif.com
15. Truvativ Noir Team Riser
At 640mm wide, these bars are more race day than trail ride. They’re oversize and come in 15mm and 30mm rise options and have a 9 degree backsweep with a 5 degree upsweep. With a raw finish and bright decals, they’ll add plenty of trail-cred to your rig. www.monzabicycle.com.au 16. St Mel Designs
$15 - $90
17. Serfas CNC Mini Pump
It’s made from aluminium making it tough and pretty looking, it’s Presta and Schrader valve compatible making it practical, and it’s compact, making it a snug fit in your jersey pocket. It weighs 90grams and Serfas claim it can pump to 140psi – well and truly enough to blow your tyre off and spray sealant all over your face if that’s what you are into. www.velovita.com.au
Want some urban street wear to kick around in post-race? The crew at St Mel are devoted to small, limited edition runs of screen printed T’s, hoodies and other gear. Hand screened by the artists in Aus, the brand specialises in unique, wearable artwork that looks and feels the goods. St Mel offers kids, women’s and men’s gear and even a great range of bike-inspired designs for us pushie lovers who just can’t get enough.
These are a great looking set of cranks. They feature carbon crank arms with a forged alloy spine and the GXP Team external bottom bracket. The chain ring bolts are also alloy and the whole system weighs in at around the 800gram mark. If you’re looking to add that bit of performance to your rig, these will do the job well.
18. Truvativ Noir XC Team
19. Gu Roctane
The name alone is enough to make you feel like pulling the bike out of the shed and going fast. The Roctane has 35mg of caffeine plus some fast and slow acting carbs for quick and sustained energy. All up it gives you 25g of carbs and 100 calories in a small and convenient brightly coloured little sachet – meaning you won’t lose it and the dreaded 3am night lap shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. www.gusports.com.au 20. Knog N.E.R.D. cycle computer 9 function: $99 12 function: $109 The Kong N.E.R.D. is a wireless cycle computer that has a funky, rolling display. Rather than using fiddly, messy buttons below the screen, the computer’s screen doubles as the main button – you press it to scroll between functions. It comes in two different models, with 9 or 12 functions and the design incorporates characteristic Knog big rubber mounting bands for simple installation. www.knog.com.au
21. Topeak Whitelite
These bar mounted lights come in a set of two for a broad beam on the trail. They burn for almost 3hrs at their brightest setting and take about 6hrs to charge. The battery mounts on the stem, meaning no long wires to clutter the frame, and the complete system weighs in at 205grams. www.cassons.com.au 22. DT Swiss XMC 130-15mm
These 130mm forks come in at a very respectable 1750 grams (claimed) and feature a 15mm Thru Axle for added stiffness. The forks are covered in sexy technology with a hollow carbon arch, carbon tubes and magnesium dropouts. They also have the excitingly titled “Threshold Launch Control”, holding the fork at a certain level of compression for responsive climbing. www.dirtworks.com.au
23. Look 996 and 986 996: (available May) $6799, 986: $4799 Look know how to make their bikes stand out. The 996 is a four-inch travel dual suspension enduro bike guaranteed to psych out a few competitors pre-race. The front and rear triangles are carbon fibre tied together with aluminium linkages and matched to a Rock Shox Monarch rear shock. The 986 is a carbon hardtail with integrated seat tube for added bump absorption, stiffness and reduced weight. These frames are on the pricey side but there’s no doubting their boutique appeal. www.groupesportif.com
Throw some words together and you’ll have the chance to win a $399 Jet Black Fluid Trainer!!
a fabulous display of generosity, JetBlack Products have donated a beautiful Fluid Trainer to be given away to the person who provides the most entertaining, insightful or downright funny letter of the month. JetBlack products, also distributors of NiteRider lights, are huge supporters of the Australian scene, sponsoring top Aussie endurance athletes like Craig Gordon and supporting tonnes of Aussie events including the JetBlack 24hr race in Sydney. JetBlack’s latest Fluid Trainer features progressive resistance, meaning it automatically adjusts the resistance as you change gears or increase your speed, kkk"XYg][bVmdYdd]"Wca"Ui
e’ve been umming and ahhrring about it for a while now but we’ve finally decided – it’s time! As we get more and more emails with feedback and trail stories, we’ve decided from next issue that we are going to start publishing them. So from Issue 12 we’ll officially start a dedicated Letters to the Editor section. Innovative, aren’t we. Send us some feedback, stories of why your ride, what you ride, where you ride…whatever really. As long as it’s loosely based on mountain biking (and we think it’ll go well in the mag) we’ll publish it. But it’s not just about seeing your name in print and framing it on the wall. In
no fuddy-duddy levers here! Being a Fluid trainer rather than a magnetic unit, it also encourages smooth pedalling input, helping you to develop an efficient pedal action. It’s also foldable for transport and storage and fits both mountain and road bikes. With winter fast approaching, what are you waiting for? Put pen to paper and one of these technological beauties could be yours Email letters to: email@example.com or post to: Enduro Magazine, 29 Loch Street, Kew, VIC, 3101.
Bandaged but determined…Lewey grabs a bit of air at the UCI World Cup at Stromlo, Canberra in August ‘08. Photo: Adam McGrath
I can have a win on the weekend or come last but none of it matters on Monday, it’s just back to reality and hanging out with people who couldn’t care less about bike racing
Lewis rides on rails at the ’07 Mont 24hr. Photo: Mikkeli Godfree
Shaun (lewey) Lewis is Australia’s marathon man, since ’05 he’s been racing – and winning – 100k races all over the east of Australia. He’s one of Australia’s fastest 100k racers but he’s also one our most humble; Shaun lets his pedals (or more specifically, his legs) do the talking. But if we listed his results next to a few photos you proably wouldn’t learn much so we went behind the results, cheques and podium girls to find out what makes this marathon man tick. interview by james williamson
Why 100k racing? I raced the Flight Centre Epic in ’04 and then, in ’05, it seemed like there were suddenly heaps of 100k races all around Australia. Having not had much experience in the format I decided I wanted to try to race a few. That year I raced the Dirt Works 100k, the Flight Centre Epic and the Highland Fling and I was hooked! I realised how fun it is to actually race these events fast and hard. I enjoy the tactics of these races and the way they pan out over the four hours. They aren’t too quick so you can make a mistake but still be up there at the finish. What do you think it takes to be a good 100k racer? You have to be able to pace yourself and you have to have enough speed in your legs so you can go with the front guys early on in the race without digging too deep You also obviously need good endurance, this is based on being smart with eating and drinking and riding smaller gears early so you don’t blow yourself up. You have to be able to keep a steady head too, it gets really hard at some points and you just have to suck it up and not think about what’s in front of you. The races are long; if something goes wrong you have to believe that you can still ride back into it. What’s been your most memorable 100k race? The Flight Centre Epic in ’05. It was a really tough day. I got dropped from the bunch early on the first major climb so I had to really fight to get back to them. I caught the
front group along with a few other guys at about the 65km mark. It all broke up in the hills towards the finish and I got 2nd. It was the first 100k race that I felt I’d really raced hard and put in a solid performance. It was great feeling to have been struggling early but then come through with a strong result in the end. I’ll never forget that day. Do you think being a fast cross country racer helps you in the longer format? I don’t think it’s as big a gap as people think. Some cross country races go for two and a half hours and a marathon generally goes for around four hours. If you’re fast at cross country you’ll be competitive at 100k racing. Also, cross country racing is very intense, if you can go that deep for two hours it means you’re more efficient at slightly less intensity. At a 100k race my heart rate is 10-15bpm lower on average than a cross country race but there are points where my heart rate gets really high – normally the first and last hour of the race. Speaking of long races, you’re no stranger to 24hr races either, having raced every Canberra 24hr in a team since it started in ’99. Have you ever racing considered a 24hr solo? I’ve thought about it but never committed. I definitely want to do it one day, maybe once I get a few more years under my belt, maybe when I’m old...[laughs] When you’re not racing you work full time as an electrician, is it hard to balance a full-time job and
training? Well sometimes it’s hard to fit in all the training but I actually really like working fulltime away from the sport. It gives my life balance. I can have a win on the weekend or come last but none of it matters on Monday, it’s just back to reality and hanging out with people who couldn’t care less about bike racing. It’s really refreshing sometimes! Describe a typical week of training? The week days are limited with work. I try to get some hills in at least one day during the week. In Canberra there are a few decent 10 minute climbs close by so I do 4-6 reps of them one day a week. In summer I do a road criterium (circuit) race as well on Wednesday afternoons – these races are really fast, good for getting speed in the legs. Then during the weekend I either race or get some long days in, I usually do a local road bunch ride on Saturday and a mountain bike ride Sunday. What motivates you to train and race? I enjoy being fit and living a healthy lifestyle which helps me get out on the bike. I find that I get the best out of myself on race days when the competition’s hot. I really love the competition and the push to continually try to improve, it keeps me young!
What about future dreams? I hope to be able to ride for years to come, but I think one day I’ll lose the ability to be at the pointy end and then I’ll lose a bit of that competitive spirit! I would love to win a national title on the bike one day.
de los Conquistadores This four day mountain bike race held in Costa Rica is a tough one, but that’s obviously part of the attraction. For 2008, the La Ruta gave riders a huge 14000 metres of climbing; to put that in perspective, the ’08 Otway Odyssey in Australia climbed 2700 metres. With 384km to cover through the renowned, claggy Costa Rican mud, it was also the longest version of the race to date. Canadian Brian Cooke provides some insight into a memorable four days. Words by Brian Cooke Photos: La Ruta 2008/Mayela López-José Salazar
Jaco Beach We started off at 5:00 am from the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica at a town called Jaco. It seemed like an early start – in the dark – but we needed it: the first stage was the hardest and the longest. My computer at the end of the day read out 5030m of climbing over 120km. I learned not to look at it again, for me it was better to ride and not know.
Costa Rican Children This was one of the highlights of the La Ruta. The school kids spent the day cheering on racers all along the race course. Sometimes I could get twenty or more high fives in a row. Unfortunately I was trying to get a top ten finish so I wasn’t able to share with them the more contemporary pounding of the knuckles. Costa Rica has a large rural population; I’ve never seen so many people living in the middle of nowhere – which lead me to believe we were ‘somewhere’ instead of ‘nowhere’. This race was like having a two week trip intensified into 4 days.
Reventazon River The last 75km was relatively flat as we made our way back and forth onto rail tracks, dirt roads and through plantations. This is one of many bridge crossings. You had to watch your step as the railroad ties were a couple feet apart – super sketchy – but apparently no one has ever fallen in. Some previous articles have called the waters below crocodile infested. I only watched with envy as local kids swam and played around in the river!
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Limon Day one started in infernal heat and humidity, day two and three were quite reasonable but it was only fitting that we finish in the heat. This rider got a good cool-down from a kind local. The many waterholes on the course at this point were warmer than my hot tub!
Brian Cooke This is me on the rail tracks, I wasn’t happy. I got caught behind some slower riders at the start and couldn’t get onto the lead group. You really needed to be in a good group for this stage because the last part was three hours of flat road with a headwind. I rode by myself for five hours, dangling a couple of minutes off the lead group for the first two hours, until the group disappeared on the flat roads.
Llano Grande This is Federico Ramirez climbing up the Irazu volcano on day three. It’s good to see some pics of him since he was way ahead of the field most of the time. The locals rode really well, they certainly benefited from knowing where the hell they were going. Part of the fun of racing in Central America was figuring out where to go, the course markings were pretty poor! Watching the locals get total motorcycle support (drinks and food on the fly with spare wheels and parts ready to go) was also a bit of an eye-opener. The race seems to me like a smaller picture of how things operate down that way – all the rules are in place, they just need to figure out how to follow them!
LIFE IS A RACE BICYCLES D’OPINION /
/ PRINCIPAT D’ANDORRA / WWW.COMMENCAL.COM
Federico Ramirez (CRC) and Paolo Montoya (CRC) This is the start of day four. The day started up a steep loose climb through a beautiful coffee plantation. Here you can see the race leaders are already putting the hurt on.
Llano Grande This is a dude on the short hike-a-bike section of day three’s Irazu’s volcano stage. There is so much topsoil around that trails and roads can develop trenches five metres deep. Notice the long sleeve jersey; it seems Costa Ricans get cold when it’s 25 degrees. This stage did have pleasant weather because of the altitude; we got up to 3300metres before descending almost 2000 metres on a rock-strewn fire road.
Jessica Douglas is a woman on a mission. A few years ago she was living in Geelong looking after her daughter with a cobwebbed mountain bike hanging in the garage. In the few years since, she’s bought a new bike and hasn’t given the cobwebs a chance to settle – not even at 2am – she’s won a bunch of 24hr races, has her sights set firmly on the ’09 World Champs and has estalished a company to promote mountain biking to anyone who wants to listen. We did our best to pin her down for a few minutes, between training rides, gym sessions and training clinics, to learn more. Words by james williamson
remember chatting to Jess Douglas at the Scott 24hr in October. It was the morning of the race and she was as energetic as ever. The solo riders in the tents around her had their feet up, drink bottles in hand, food at arms length, looking serious and contemplative, but not Jess: she was walking around as relaxed as someone about to take on the event in a beer-drinking team. A bit over 24hrs later she’d won the race. Jess isn’t one to muck around. She likes getting things done. Which is why, at the age of 17, the Geelong teenager met a guy called Norm from the Navy, thought he
looked like a good husband, and married him. “I didn’t like Norm much at first – we’re both really head-strong – but I was young and thought life would be pretty hard on my own so we decided to get married. It was more of a business-contract than a romantic bond, there were no proposals or anything, but he showed good character and I thought it would work well in our marriage.” With that out of the way – “I just wanted to get that part of my life sorted, one less thing to worry about” – the newlyweds hit the road. The first stop was Rose Bay in Sydney, where they sold their car and rode bikes everywhere. Then Jess and Norm
moved to the Gold Coast, and it was here that they first discovered mountain biking. In Jess’ case it was on a fully rigid Shogun Trail Breaker at the nearby Nerang State Forest. “I loved the challenge and started to race. I did a few XC races and some 3hr events. Jeez I loved my brakes though! I was easily scared and quite a timid rider back then.” So the mountain bike seed was planted but so was another – the couple decided to start a family around the same time. “I tried riding for a while but the bump got in the way, then we became parents and I turned 21 five days later.”
Jess heads down to the welcoming lights of race village at last yearâ€™s Scott 24hr in Canberra. Photo: Sportograf
Jess on her way to a win at the ’07 Kona 24hr. Photo: Mikkeli Godfree
I didn’t want to continue just to spite him. Our relationship troubles showed themselves on the race track. Racing is very raw; you don’t have the energy to be nice About 10 years on, having moved back to Geelong and with their growing daughter, Saskia, the couple bought some $500 Avanti hardtails and went for a ride in the You Yangs Regional Park, near Geelong. They loved the trails, bought some more expensive bikes with front suspension, and started racing enduro events at the start of ‘06. “We raced in a team of 6 at the Scott 24hr in 2006. Having never done any night riding we were instantly hooked.” Jess was the ‘token’ female and was only allowed to do three laps for the team despite doing similar lap times as the guys, “but hey, I’m a chick so I sucked it up.” Wanting to do more laps to get her money’s worth and her instant love of night riding – “so peaceful” – was enough motivation for Jess to give solo racing a go. In characteristic get-down-and-do-it style, it didn’t take her long either, less than two months, in fact, at Victoria’s Kona 24hr. “I slept for one and a half hours and came third. That’s when I realised I had to do it again and not sleep as much. I wanted to learn how to win these races.” A year later she won the same race, qualifying her for the World Solo 24hr Champs in ’08, a race she chose not to do. “I know that travelling
overseas would cost a lot of money, but not only that, it would require a lot emotionally to devote myself to the race, I didn’t feel ready to take that on.” Having lived with the commitment of being a young mother and having had to put her personal goals on hold has certainly contributed to Jess’ mad enthusiasm for the sport. It’s obviously something that she has mixed feelings about, “I often think about what I could have achieved if I’d started when I was young. But on the flipside, the decision to have a child has given me another reason for living and it certainly helps me to appreciate the life I have now.” Being a hard-edged, goal-oriented 24hr solo racer and caring, domesticated mother is a balancing act Jess works hard to maintain. “It’s hard for me to think about being a mother and wanting to be World Solo 24hr Champ as well. It’s often been the case where it’s five minutes to go in a local enduro race and I’ll have time to do one more lap but I have to weigh it up – doing that last lap means I’ll get home later and there’s dishes to be done and clothes to be washed. I often end up finishing early. Something in me wants to be selfish though, to smash that last lap and smash the competition even more.”
Throughout Jess’ rise in the enduro race scene her husband Norm has always been close by, “he’s my husband, my mate, the father of my daughter and the backbone of my success in racing.” Racing a 24hr ‘together’ can be a tough test though. “Leading up to the recent Kona 24hr Norm and I were just sort of co-existing. We were both really busy and we weren’t putting much time into our relationship. So it got to Sunday morning in the 24hr race and I was feeling really terrible. It was obvious Norm wanted me to keep going but I felt like I didn’t want to continue just to spite him. Our relationship troubles showed themselves on the race track. Racing is very raw; you don’t have the energy to be nice.” Jess got off her bike with a clear lead and despite finishing at 6am, still managed 2nd place. It was a hard defeat to swallow after the dominating victory at Canberra’s Scott 24hr less than two months earlier. “It was tough to lose and the pain came on full strength that night and the next and the next....until I chose to forgive myself, move on to the next challenge and learn from this stuff up.” Learning from that stuff up includes accepting the highs and lows of a close relationship both on and off the race track. “Racing with Norm makes our rela-
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Clockwise from above: when you’ve been riding for over 18 hours even taking off your gloves becomes a challenge…a dusty Jess takes on some breaky at the Scott 24hr; chatting to Stu Plant pre-race; home bike mechanics. Photos: Norm Douglas
tionship stronger and puts added stress on it at the same time. At the Kona 24hr it didn’t work but at the Scott 24hr it was the opposite, we were getting on really well and it showed in the race.” Jess loves to chat, especially when it’s about mountain biking, she’s an intense character. She’s so passionate and excited about what she’s saying that talking to her can be a challenge because she says so much so quickly. She mentions that 24hr racing gives her a strong sense of belief in all aspects of life. “Some challenges appear very big but when you break them down they’re very achievable, just like a 24hr race – one pedal stroke at a time. People see 24hr racing as such a huge accomplishment but when broken down into little steps it isn’t so bad. Whenever I have a challenge in life I always say, ‘just start it.’ Racing solo has helped me change my mental attitude to challenges; they’re no longer as daunting.” It’s not only 24hr racing that’s changed her mindset. Jess describes herself as a “timid little scaredy cat” before being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 14. The disease changed her; it made her less inclined to take life for granted. That change is obvious – right now, chatting to Jess, ‘timid’ and ‘scared’ aren’t words that immediately spring to mind. The experience gave her motivation to push her physical
side and try things she might previously have been intimidated by. “It wasn’t like I was ever actually afraid for my life but being diagnosed with the disease made me realise that I wasn’t as invincible as I’d previously thought. It helped me to stop worrying so much about what people think and taught me to get on with life and to appreciate the opportunities I have.” Wanting to grab hold of life and get the most out of it means Jess spends 15-20 hours a week on the bike, rain, hail, wind or shine. “I really suit solo racing as I have to do a lot of my training solo.” Mixed in with the training on the bike are gym sessions and sessions on the indoor trainer using specific power and heart rate data. She spends over half her training time on her own and a fair portion on the road bike – “In the Otways where I live there are so many wonderful road rides.” I ask her what she does when she’s not riding and she seems to almost not understand. “Is that trick question? I get the jitters when I don’t ride. When I’m not riding I’m talking crap with mates and devising the next epic ride!” A big dream for Jess, apart from a World 24hr Solo Championship, is to motivate more women to get into the sport. “We’re establishing women’s-specific clinics in an attempt to show women that they don’t have to have the latest bike, the latest gear, or be the fittest to have
fun out on the track. We want to show beginner women that it isn’t as intimidating as it seems.” Jess sees more men than women at mountain bike events and wants to see it change. She believes the stigma of mountain biking as a hard-edged sport turns potential participants away. “Men are inclined to just give it a go. Women are more concerned about their fitness and all that, they think they have to be super-fit to attend a race. They don’t understand how fun and accessible it is, I want to change that.” Goals and drive aside, most mountain bikers have something that ties them to the sport beyond the dream of achieving. For Jess, it’s a mixture of the confidence she gets from the self-reliance of a mountain bike ride alone in the forest, and the camaraderie that the enduro format promotes. “I love the ’brotherhood’, it’s such a friendly sport. It seems to me that mountain bikers are a bunch of people who want something different out of life. On top of this, I love it because it’s a sport that is so accessible to the average punter.” Then there’s the riding, “Within five minutes of riding my mountain bike I’m just thinking about the singletrack in front of me and all the problems of the world don’t exist.” www. jessicadouglas.com
Words by Andy Blair Photos courtesy of JEANTEX BIKE TRANSALP powered by NISSAN
The Jeantex Bike Transalp powered by Nissan is Europe’s answer to Canada’s TransRockies and South Africa’s Cape Epic. Raced from Germany to Italy the event is held over eight stages and has plenty of big mountains you won’t see in Australia, amazing alpine scenery and even some snow. About 1000 competitors took up the challenge. Enduro’s ever-quizzical Andrew Blair got amongst it to find out more.
Racing up the lower slopes of Pass da Costainas on stage 4 from Scoul to Livigno
Clockwise from left: Euro Alps, pace line style… climbing to the top of the Idjoch pass on stage 3 from Ishgl to Scoul; nearing the top of Pass da Costainas on stage 4 to Livigno; another shot taken near the top of the Idjoch pass on stage 3
hen my buddy Matty suggested that we do the Transalp together, I didn’t even know what the race was. He explained that it was an 8 day stage race in a 2-person team format which crosses the European Alps from Germany to Italy. I figured since I was planning on racing in Europe anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to add this race to the schedule. So after not much thought at all I emailed him back to say it was on. As the race loomed, I found out more. I met a few people who had done it and they got me really excited. I studied the elevation profiles of the stages and was amazed at the amount of climbing involved. The average amount of climbing was 2700m, that is more than most marathon races in Australia, and we would be doing it back to back for 8 days. One day in particular stood out, stage 6, it was 97km with 3930m of climbing…this looked to be a tough race. When we arrived in Fussen, Germany for the start, I quickly realised how big this race really was. The town was a real buzz with people everywhere, a huge expo area and heaps of Euro trade teams I’d never even heard of. We got to the start line one and a half hours early in order to get the best possible position amongst the 1000+ field. Despite this we were still a couple of hundred meters from the front, but at least we were closer to the front than the back. The race started in the centre of town and my cross country racing instincts took
over; I was soon jumping up gutters and riding through tables of people eating their breakfast in cafes in order to make up all places that I could. It worked because before I knew it I could see the front of the race. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that it was a team race and I was obliged to stay with my team mate, so I stopped and waited for Matty. We rode the rest of the stage together with the exception of the feed-zone. Since I was a bit stronger, I took Matty’s empty bottles and stopped to fill them up while he forged ahead. I was amazed at the spread of food available. There were drums of water and sports drink, fresh watermelon, bananas, dried fruit, nuts and energy bars. The watermelon really hit the spot, so I didn’t hold back. When I’d had my fill, I stuffed Matty’s bidons down the back of my jersey, imagining I was a loyal domestique in the Tour de France, and set out bridging the gap back to him. Funnily enough, Matty hadn’t noticed the food on offer at the feed-zone as he rode past and, in the interest of us not stopping, I didn’t mention it to him. I managed to keep it a secret until the last day! He wasn’t very happy with me when he finally found out that I’d been getting such a good feed, but good domestiques should get looked after! The men’s race was taken out by Team Bulls of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, while in the women’s it was a complete domination by Team
Introducing the Ibis MojoSL
Our brains were hurting after spending the 1900+ hours of c.a.d and engineering time developing the Mojo, so we took a little bit of time off. It wasn’t a lot of time-maybe a weekend-and we already were thinking about ways to improve it. That’s how we are. Fast forward more than a year and way more than a thousand Mojos later and we present to you the MojoSL. Let's get right down to it, because our brains are starting to hurt again.
Mojo SL WTF – 9.9kg
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Clockwise from right: This was the first stage and the pace was already on, note the typical euro-line straight through the field; the start of the descent down the Idjoch, time to get the wind jackets out; on the start line in Imst for stage 2
Rocky Mountain’s Alison Sydor and Pia Sundstedt who won seven of the eight stages. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of every stage. Basically the race panned out a little bit like that movie Groundhog Day. The routine was as follows: 1. Pre-race - 6am: wake up, 6:30am: head to breakfast, 7:00am: line up for the toilet; 7:30am: drop the bags to be taken to next night’s accommodation, 8:00am: place the bikes on the start block, then wait around for the 9:00am rendition of “Highway to Hell” and the race start. Until now I never realised how much the Euros were into ACDC! 2. Race – The racing usually started with a neutral start through the cobbled centre of the start town before a huge climb that would sort out the field. Matty and I would put in a big effort to get as high up the field as possible before any technical sections. The technical sections were definitely our strength, Euro cross-country riders don’t seem to be into singletrack... bizarre. On most of the narrow singletrack earlier in the race we were held up by euros walking their bikes and unwilling to move out of the way. As the week went on, everyone had mellowed a
little and seemed happier to move over for us. Unfortunately though, there weren’t so many technical sections and we struggled through each stage over the huge mountain passes (through some truly stunning terrain) to usually place somewhere in the 50s. 3. Post-race – This bit started with the post race catering which was put on by each venue and ranged from good to excellent. Fruit, drinks and sandwiches were the basic ingredients, but the best was Livigno where they had baskets of Lindt chocolate broken up into squares (upon seeing this, Matty leant over and ordered: “Blairy…fill your pockets!”), lollies, trays of prosciutto & speck (Italian meaty goodness), cheese, dried fruit, coffee, tea, Coke and plenty more. We would then hose off the bikes and make our way to the biker camp which was usually a town hall, gymnasium or indoor tennis court. The most important thing was to have a shower before the hot water ran out – and most days we succeeded – then wash the knicks & jersey and hang them out. Next we would usually explore the town that we had landed in and sample the local cappuccino and gelato outlets.
A quick check of the bike was also usually squeezed in somewhere. The race really highlighted the importance of having a well maintained bike going into the race. For me it was usually just a matter of lubing the chain on the Spatz and checking tyre pressure, but for some it turned into a regular nightmare of running around town to find a bike shop with the right parts to sort out their particular problem. At 6pm was the nightly “Pasta Party”. This included dinner, presentations, photos and footage of the day’s stage, and a briefing for the following day. Then we’d hit the sack sometime between 9 & 10pm. Overall I really enjoyed the Jeantrez Bike Transalp powered by Nissan. It was a tough race and a real challenge to complete. I met heaps of cool people and I plan to stay in contact with many of them. The trails aren’t super-technical, but the terrain and scenery compensates for this. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Clockwise from above: the summit of the final climb before the descent into Lavigno on stage 4; gushing river crossings and green paddocks broke up the huge mountain passes; these cobbled streets marked the end of stage 3; the sun was out for the start of stage 5 at Livigno; the (mostly) Aussie crew, (from left) Matt Zalewski (AUS), Mike Blewitt (AUS), Andy (AUS), Scott Cornish (UK)
ROTOR Q RINGS
Alpe d’ Huez
1st Tour de France
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Ridden by – Carlos Sastre 1st TDF, 3rd Vuelta – Marianne Vos world championships in road, track and cyclocross – Patrick Vernay winner Port Macquarie and Busselton Ironman See why worldchampions in road, track, MTB and triathlon have gone elliptical. “Any doubts in the professional ranks about Rotor’s elliptical Q-Rings seem to be quickly fading thanks to a string of top-level victories” Bike radar
Go faster, hurt less
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The best bits:
The scenery and terrain are as beautiful as you will find anywhere. All the towns that the race passes through really get behind the event to create a terrific atmosphere.
The organisation is very impressive; I was amazed at how smoothly these guys pulled off such a big job.
The worst bits:
Don’t go to this race expecting much singletrack, there are some sections of steep & rooty euro-gold, but it makes up less than 5% of the riding. The Euro’s seem to be more into “schotter”, which is German for gravel road.
Tips if you are thinking of doing the Transalp:
Make sure your bike is working well and take spare brake pads
Work out a daily routine that avoids the queues
Ride as many big hills as you can before you arrive. There aren’t too many in Australia that will adequately prepare you, but anything over an hour of climbing is a good start.
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Just to prove that this isn’t your typical mountain bike race…
The Urban Polaris is a mountain bike race with a difference. Actually it’s got a few differences, one of which is you don’t even have to spend much time in the dirt. Loosely based on the orienteering format, the event sees competitors pedal for a day through Canberra, both on road and off, to accumulate as many points as they can and hopefully take in some sights along the way. Enduro’s Kath Bicknell strapped on her map-board and threw on some slick tyres to find out more. Words by Kath Bicknell Photos: Eric Li – Canberra Pictorial
Clockwise from below: pouring over maps and devising a strategy for the day at the start area of Stromlo Forest Park; swapping singletrack for bike lanes; pulling the map out…a very common sight at the Urban Polaris; pedalling away for the day with Black Mountain as the perfect Canberra backdrop
he Urban is seven hour bike ride where the winning team aren’t necessarily the fastest people on wheels but the savviest. Riders must be both fit and quick-thinking – an enviably rare package – to link together a series of orienteering-style control points scattered around Canberra. This event is always a great tour of Australia’s bike-friendly city and offers up some healthy alternatives to your typical day on a mountain bike. On top of this, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) has recently taken over organisation of The Urban and the money from entries raised $38,000 for the organisation which, quite frankly, just makes you feel proud to be involved. Different controls have different point values, and teams of two have to decide which ones they want to tackle, in which order, and how to get from one to the next. Easy ones are worth around 10 points, lung busters are worth more. There are usually a few controls dotted around the top of bar-munching hill climbs and some novelty ones with bonus points for grabs when you arrive, or time restrictions on when they are active. This year there was also one on a paddling kayaker, and a welcome ten pointer next door to a convenience store unsuspectingly stocked with cold energy drink. People rode north toward the Federal
Hwy, and south to a face-painting stand in a suburb called Richardson. There were also controls at buildings or sites used by mental health services in the ACT which provided insight into the role of the MHF within the Canberra community. Riders mark the location of the controls on maps of the city before the race, using a list of grid references they receive at registration. I was very thankful that my teammate is a map marking legend, and sat there quietly proud as other teams came to watch what she was doing. Start times are staggered, and it is not until you roll past the clock that you find out what the point values of each control are. This year’s highest value control was the one in Richardson. It had a 40 point value with a bonus 20 if you weren’t too proud for the paint. As the race time begins to tick, teams discuss their route plans based on how many points they hope to achieve given the time – and leg strength – available. Tactics come into play when you consider things like wind direction, whether to do the big climbs early or late, or not at all, and how well your partner’s mood responds to things like jelly snakes and hidden packets of potato chips. Some teams aim to link together as many big pointers as they can while picking up smaller points along the way. Big points
usually take time though, and it can be just as rewarding to stick to the flats and sew together a whole lot of smaller pointers. Many a team also sample Canberra’s café scene and factor in time out for a sandwich or a picnic. Where you go is essentially up to you, but you can be guaranteed to see lots of other riders on the way linking controls in ever-different combinations to you and with more or less speed. Whatever the end result, the smiling faces on the grass at the end of the day usually reveal that most people have strung together a route with a suitable amount of riding and challenges and if they haven’t, they’ve got some cool stories to explain why. Aside from one young lad who landed badly on a seat post, this year’s tales of horror at presentation didn’t get any more dramatic than a puncture or two. Prizes were plentiful and support from UBD meant everyone got some useful car products with their race entry such as windscreen visors, CD holders or funky velcro map holder things that strap behind the front seats of your car. Fortunately, the map for this one gets mailed to you a week in advance, so there are no excuses for lazy grid referencing tactics next year! www.mhf.org.au
Being a night race lights were a must, not that quantity necessarily makes up for quality
Gliding through another corner I held onto the momentum for the next section of track. In fact I’d been milking that same momentum for what seemed like the last couple of sections of trail. The granny gear could have been left at home. I slotted the wheels between more rim-buckling rocks and through another corner. Welcome to 12 hour racing the WA way – flat, fast, techo and, well, dark. Words and photos by Travis Deane
A’s premier enduro race has long been held at Jarrahdale just south of Perth in an area previously used by mining company Alcoa. Jarrahdale has done a great job of revegetating; I mean there is singletrack growing everywhere! The challenge was less about avoiding the mined areas than which bits of premium singletrack would be linked up to form part of the course. Fast and flowy is the popular choice and this track played to the masses. There was barely 200m of height gain per lap and not an uphill grind in site. But don’t be fooled into thinking us West Aussies do things easy. No sir! There were derailleur-mangling boulders mixed in with rim wreckers, seemingly all placed after the apex of a blind corner when you’re fully committed. The race track had more of a trail-ride feel with lots of jumps and logs, I mean, you’d hate to be kept awake
and bored for 12hrs! Held at the end of the race calendar the event has normally been run in December. This year’s event slid forward to the end of November which had the unexpected dividend of having a healthy crop of Movember moustaches out on the race course. El Presidente John Carney of the Perth MTB club which runs the event, had an impressive Mexican Pornstar Mo, perhaps explaining why people didn’t hang around the transition despite the new electronic timing giving instant updates. The crew in WA have always done enduro racing their own way and this year was no exception. No Le-Mans start (it’s just confusing trying to remember which bike was yours…). Also the clock stops at 12hrs, so if you’re out on the course after 12hrs that lap doesn’t count! Oh and did we mention it runs all night?
The winning formula TIRES AND TUBES Rockstar Racing Hamish Elliot winner Dirtworks 100 and the Noosa Enduro on Kenda
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Clockwise from above: Stephanie Wee, barely visible, powers through the half-light; Johnny Waddell doesn’t mind a bit of endurance racing, his last lap of the race gave him the fastest daytime lap; the Troll Pac were there in honour of their mates; once you have a number, light and switch on your bike, bar real estate starts getting tight
Well not all at night. The race started at 6pm and I cursed not wearing a helmet with a visor. At that time of day the sun was just dropping down to retina-burning height and the dappled sunlight strobed my eyes making me feel like I was riding in a night club. But with the sun bedded and the day cooling nicely there was little to complain about. The race had got off to a cracking pace with Johnny Waddell late to start, running through the car park but maintaining his momentum to get the fastest daylight lap. Jon Gregg and Peter Elkington somehow kept up and Jon soon established a lead which he held for most of the night. In the tiny hours of the morning Jon decided he needed to pee so pulled up. He’d barely cracked the seal when Peter came out of nowhere surprising Jon who had no idea the racing was so close! According to Jon, “After finishing my business I managed to catch up to Peter by the end of the lap. He stopped at the transition area but I kept going, determined to put in a faster lap to try and establish a bit of a gap. I hit the fire road and the first climb hard, and kept
going hard. I rode the whole lap flat out.” Johnny Waddell, cursed with lighting issues, dropped off the front but stayed in the race. Mother nature was smiling on everyone and a little rain was on hand to help keep the night fast. It turned out to be one of those perfect nights that event organisers wish they could purchase, keep on file, and pull out every year. Racing finished at the climatic time of 6am. Unlike other events, you have to finish before that time for the lap to be counted. This always leads to some noticeable anxiety with efforts potentially not counted. Johnny Waddell was trying to battle his way back onto the podium: “With only 45 minutes left to spare I had to push out a screaming lap to come across the line within the time bracket. With every little bit of effort I had left I managed to knock 9 minutes off my previous lap time which meant I scraped into 3rd place”. With the buzz from the racing resplendent in advertiser’s flags and inflated archway (who doesn’t love riding through an inflated archway?), it was easy to think it was all about the racing. But a couple of
hundred of metres down the track was a sign signalling the “Troll Pac.” I stopped in for a brew. A loose-knit group of guys and girls who wouldn’t have looked out of place in a front bar of any pub in this land were enjoying the night and each other’s company. But the socialising had a purpose. The boys had a tradition of riding together, several years ago during this event one of them had a heart attack and died mid-lap. To honour their mate they have continued to ride the event only to have another of their crew taken in a non-riding incident last year. Grief stricken, they’d decided to carry on even inviting his mother who was over from New Zealand, along to the event. “They’re all my boys” she told Enduro Magazine. “They don’t call me by my name, they just call me Nan”. As one of the sons came in from a lap on a Kmart bike he announced to me, beaming, that he was riding with his Grandad’s favourite number. The Troll Pac weren’t competitive, hell they weren’t even close. But in a sport where simply participating is a victory they were all proving to be winners. www.wa12hour.com.au
Support crews and officials enjoy a beer at the Birdsville Pub after the final stage
ay back in 1988 I read about a mountain bike event in the centre of Australia – The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge. “WOW” I thought, what kind of idiot would want to ride in a desert? Twenty years later and it’s terrifying to find myself standing on the start line at Purnie Bore on the western edge of the Simpson Desert. This is not a place for intelligent people to be. Hell… it’s not a place for raving lunatics to be. But here I am none the less. Am I ready? Kind of. If by “ready” you mean have I thought about this a lot, have I prepared myself mentally for this and have I spent hours setting up my bike just for this event…? Then the answer is yes. However if your definition of “ready” is; have I done
the amount of training required? Then my answer is a shameful no. I was at least 30kg overweight and I didn’t get to ride a bike (at all) the month leading up to the event But here I am. Heading into this I kept telling myself that my only goal was to complete a stage. Just one. And I’d set my sights on one of the shorter, 50km, afternoon stages. The Simpson Desert Bike Challenge is run over 9 stages. Each morning, beginning at 6am, is an 80km stage. Then at 2pm begins the second “shorter” stage of 50km. To put this into perspective: at 2pm the temperature is in the vicinity of 42 degrees. The first four days feature both a morning and an afternoon stage. The final day has a morning stage only and finishes at the famous Birdsville Pub.
I’m 10 km into the first stage of the first day and rapidly re-evaluating my personal goal. I’ve downgraded it a little to simply being able to “start” every stage. I’m running 2.5” trail weight tyres with Stan’s tubeless kits and 15psi in the rear and 17 psi in the front and I’m still doing a lot of walking. Every 5km there is a blue distance marker on the side of the track placed there by the sadistic race director, just to remind you how much further it is to go. I find myself stopping at every one and taking my shoes off to empty them of sand. They fill up, the sand gets padded down under your foot and your shoes feel like they’re getting smaller. At 15km the dreaded sweep truck rolls up behind me and I’m ashamed to be the first person swept in for the 2008 event. The afternoon’s ride begins in 42 degree
Put simply, the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge is a race across the Simpson Desert. It takes riders from South Australia to Queensland through melting temperatures, sand-biting winds and even some rain. Sound insane? That’s because it is. Wayne Chapman and William Bird were there to shed some light on a very different kind of week away. Words by Wayne Chapman and William Bird Photos: Donna Kelly, Kyria Tame and Wayne Chapman
heat, setting the stage for the rest of the week. I’m totally in awe of the riders that have completed both stages so far. This is not a tough event. It’s not an event for the super-fit. It’s something else again. It sounds corny and clichéd I know… but there is a definite element of heart and mental attitude required to be out here. Age is the one prevailing factor that seems to decide which riders finish and which ones don’t in this event. The average age is 42. Day two is renowned as being the “hard” day. Three riders withdraw from the event today. One sits down at a water stop and can’t get back up again. Welcome to the Simpson Desert. Enjoy your stay. But in the middle of this place, in a place of desolation, I find that I’ve once again altered my personal goal. Oh make no mistake, I’ve accepted that I’m going to be swept on
every stage, but in a strange foreign sense of bravado, I’ve decided that I will not sit down and wait for the sweep truck to pick me up. If he wants me, he’ll have to chase me down. I’m not going to make his job easy. It’s a small thing. But it means something to me. And so continues the event day in, day out. Ride, walk, ride, walk, walk, walk, ride. This is not your usual event. Oh sure, there are times recorded but it’s not about “winning”. It’s about being there and sharing the experience with others. One morning I was trudging over a dune and I just stopped and looked around me and thought, “wow. It doesn’t get any better than this!” Day four brings the start of the hardpack. NO MORE SAND. At least that’s what we were told at the rider briefing the evening before. Someone should have told the desert that. Twenty minutes into stage 7 and I’m
alone in a sandstorm. There are no rider’s tyre tracks on the ground any more. They’re all covered thanks to a 100kph headwind that obscures everything. I dig a little deeper and keep moving, riding when the wind and sand allows and walking otherwise. In the distance I see waterstop 2. I’ve drunk 6 litres of water getting this far. I’m stuffed. But I’ve made a new personal best of 40km today. Today is the day that gives this year’s event its special status. Until today, there were still two riders remaining who’d completed 100% of the race but after this afternoon’s stage there were none. The final stage into Birdsville is 78km. There is a tradition in the SDBC that all the riders will ride together until the 1st waterstop at the 20km mark. Today that happens again. But them something amazing happens, something that really exemplifies what the
From top: how little we knew what we were in for…the start line at Purnie Bore; Wayne and his bike take a rest at 7am on day 2; William Bird has never been so happy to be at the pub
event is about. Four riders, Kane, Vance, William and Heinz refuse to leave me behind on my own (to be swept as usual). They ride with me. They talk me into making a dash for the 40km 2nd waterstop. With abuse, praise and positive enforcement I slowly crawl into waterstop 2. Then something strange happens. They push me to get to the 45km marker, pointing out that it will be a new personal best. Next thing I know I’m at the 55km marker and starting to think very seriously that a complete stage might be in my sights. Waterstop 3, at the 60km mark is painful. I drop into a chair and I can think of no logical reason to get back up again. But then four reasons are standing right in front of me. Four people that I didn’t know 5 days ago, they’re here for no reason other than to help me finish and to reach my personal goal.
Heinz, riding a hardtail (the only one in the event) can’t sit down anymore so he rides the entire 78km stage standing up. Sitting here writing this I have no idea how I managed to ride the last 18 km. I know that once I could see the town, I felt a rush of adrenalin and emotion that I can’t properly describe. The rest of the riders, support crews and officials cheered me in. Someone handed me an Australian flag to carry over the line. I saw my wife who’s supported me the whole way and almost cried. I crossed the line and was besieged with well wishers and slaps on the back. I can’t describe how it felt but I know I want to feel it again. Thanks to my professional support crew (my wonderful wife), who planned and organised everything leading up to and during the
event, the organisers and the ever present volunteers. An enormous thank you must also go to “Wayne’s unofficial support crew” of Kane, Vance, William and Heinz, who dragged, coerced, encouraged and did everything in their power to help me fulfil my dream of completing a stage in the toughest mountain bike event in the world. If someone had told me heading into the event that some of the dunes were 17 meters high (days 2 and 3), that there would be a 100kph sandstorm/headwind (day 4), that the same day would hit a blistering 52degrees, and that the “average” riding temperature would be 38+ degrees, I’d never have gone, but I did. If you want to experience it for yourself, visit www.sdcc.org and sign up. I’ll see you on the start line in September 2009 – Wayne.
William Bird, another of the racesâ€™ competitors, also experienced the extremes of the Simpson Desert in â€™08. He offers his most memorable moments for the week.
* So this is what finishing a stage feels like... Wayne and his support crew at the end of stage 9
Dr Greg using one of his frozen quails as an ice-pack for an injured rider â€“ no skiming on the menu here folks.
Having my crankset fall apart about * 1km into stage 3. That is, looking down and seeing my left pedal and crankarm attached to my shoe but not the bike â€“ luckily another rider (Wayne) was there to assist with a selection of tools. It was at this point that I actually thought my race was over; as I didnâ€™t have the right tool or expect to find the missing bolts in the sand â€Ś but luck was on my side!
ing up in the late afternoon at various points on the horizon around us. The Gibber Plains â€“ a fearful sight I shall * not forget. Picture a desolate and flat moonscape of fist-sized red rocks as far as the eye can see, then add the meanest heat haze possible without melting the rocks. I could have sworn I saw a Mr Whippy ice-cream van driving towards me, full of a selection of his finest cold confectionaries. 90km/hr headwinds * onTheDayunforgettable 4. Who says it doesnâ€™t rain in the desert! * Experiencing the best of the Simpson
The night sky as youâ€™ve never seen it * before Desert: heat, sand dunes, wind, sandthe brightest stars, stretching across storms and yes, rain. * the universe. Priceless! The people â€“ sharing this experience * The impressive electrical storms buildwith great company. *
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The Sydney Spring Fat Tyre Festival, presented by JP Morgan and Kona, was an 8 ¼ hr race held at Ourimbah, north of Sydney. The race gave a variety of participants acclaimed trails and a rockin’ event atmosphere for a memorable day out. Rockstar Racing’s Hamish Elliot was there. Words by Hamish Elliot | Photos: Krystle Wright
efore we start ranting and raving about a bike race held in the scrub some place north of Sydney, let us reflect. Come on fellow pedal pushers, let’s face it, 2008 was dismal. Ok sure, a few pros came over and raced the World Cup at Mt Stromlo and Bush was finally booted from the White House, but what about the world losing all its money down a drainpipe somewhere on Wall Street and speculation about the government banning vegemite due to its high salt content? I must admit, my faith in the world was slipping. Just when I thought people where about to declare triathlon bars and doing supermarket shopping in lycra as “hip”, I stumbled upon a flyer for a race. Not just any race I
tell you, but a race with character and kickass trails – trails built for bikes and not cars. And so my faith in (some parts) of the world was reinstated. I think race organisers are just starting to get it. People paying to ride in a “mountain bike race” really appreciate it when the course coordinator/designer, whatever the title is these days, provide singletrack that is challenging and more importantly, enjoyable. It’s a pleasing sight to see the 2009 race calendar full of a vast array of different race formats on new and exciting courses, trails and routes. Anyway, I digress. I was talking about the annual Fat Tyre Festival, run by the cool, calm and collected posse at Wannaride. This
race is a relatively new addition to the race calendar and is definitely one that should be flagged as important on your I-Calendar, I-Phone or, for the less tech-savvy, a scrap piece of paper stuck to your fridge. It’s a day that presents very similarly to that of a ‘choose your own adventure’ book. With generous prizes awarded for all categories, one can arrive with the raceface securely fastened or alternatively, with the esky and a bunch of mates for a thrash around some superb trails. Ourimbah State Forest was the venue and 8 1/4hrs the format. The Wannaride crew make it clear that their concept is to reward the riders that support the event. With spot prizes, free
From left: riders take in the rich Ourimbah soil; the bridge crossings got a bit testing as the hours wore on…; author Hamish Elliot in between two wheel drifts
coffee, fun events throughout the day, and a beer on completion of your final lap, who could complain or disagree? What attracted me to the race, and approximately 500 others I might add, was the fact that this it’s held on a pure mountain biking course that isn’t raced on every weekend. It offered a perfect mix of flowing singletrack to reward you if you’re paying attention and spit you out if you’re not. Descending upon Ourimbah on this November morning was a wee bit chilly and the blustery overcast conditions gave a somewhat Scottish feel, without the Kilts and muttering red heads of course. This was short-lived as the clouds parted and the festival began with a mass start of lycra-
clad contestants tussling to be first into the trail. This event gave off a kind of underground/alleyway/non-pretentious vibe which was really refreshing to be part of. With competitors sprawled out all through the forest and spectators wandering the trail, it made for an action packed day out. I’m rather fond of having a laugh and taking the piss out of people whilst out on the trail. I mean why not? Remember, races like this are targeted at peeps that enjoy getting two wheels a little rowdy in the dirt, not emerging pro riders on a power trip to see how many “punters” they can abuse for being on “their” track. It’s quite easy to be an arse and burn past someone yelling “track”,
but way more rewarding to complement someone on their riding style and then cut half a lap with them joking about life in general - this was the overall gist intertwined within the festival. It’s a motto that is not too far removed from the “she’ll be right” attitude and an idea that’s really taking off at this style of event. My hat goes off to the people who supported and ran this race. May it be the beginning of more great events to come, on courses that people love to ride. Stay tuned or stay well uncool! www.wannaride.com.au
Sunshine, sand and singletrack – sounds like Alice Springs, but it’s not. The Canary Islands, nestled between Europe and South Africa, offers awesome scenery and great riding. If you’re struggling for some inspiration on the bike, this place is well worth a look. Local Ray Leddy gives us the low-down. Words by Raymond Leddy Photos: Benoit Bohly and James Williamson
he Canary Islands has a curious reputation for being famous for things it shouldn’t be famous for, and having no reputation at all for something it clearly should. Take the name for example, one thinks of little yellow birds that sing sweetly in gently swaying bushes – the image of a large brutish looking dog certainly doesn’t spring to mind. Yet this is precisely where the name came from, and in Las Palmas the tropical capital of the main island Gran Canaria, there are numerous large fibreglass models of these dogs standing around mulling the obvious. When too, we ask about cycling, Gran Canaria is not something we screech out,
hoping for the main prize. No. Beaches with lots of sun, sea, sand, and sex is what Gran Canaria has a name for, and we live with it with fixed smiles. I say smiles because we have a very special secret. Imagine, if you will, a tropical island with constant warm sunshine, when the rest of Europe waits out the long winter under a blanket of cold drizzle and frequent nonappearances of anything resembling blue in the leaden skies above. Imagine an island where temperatures hover consistently around twenty four degrees and wink at you with distant misty green mountains set against an azure sky. The island has a trendy harassed and beaten circular appearance
and boasts a modest 60km x 60km crosssection, although the winding roads through the valleys and gorges will double that distance. The place certainly has a Jurassic era feel to it, and indeed having had no Ice Age, you know you’re in a special place. It’s particularly special if you’re into mountain biking, and I mean mountain biking in the true sense of the word. You can choose the tamer fire-roads but there is also a host of super-technical trail. Here you’ll be jumping, landing, carving, leaning way out and way back, and grinning like a epileptic chicken on speed and whoa, that beer has your name written all over it! Nature made this place for mountain
You can expect the rough trails to take fork compression to new levels…
biking, and who wants to defy nature? The original inhabitants known as the Guanches carved paths out of the lava rock to get around, and the Spanish horses and donkeys that came later in the era of conquest chiselled these footfalls into the wider trails that we have today. The angry, spiky topography means that there was no straight-lining in creating these trails, and so developed a mesh of tracks that criss-cross the island hugging whatever flattish surface they could find. There will be some hike-a-bike in the wilder routes for sure. The heart-stopping nature of the riding is alleviated somewhat by the
fact that your opt-out clause is never too far away, and if the muscles demand it, one can drop on to the roads for a tyre humming fast descent home. That in itself gives a greater sense of fun. The four hour flight from most European hubs deters the cyclists with distance phobia, a problem not, I suspect, for the Aussie reader, so generally you have the feeling that you are path finding, trail breaking or back in the ‘80s. Something rare in overcrowded, over biked Europe. A glance at Google Earth will show you that the northern half of the island has some cloud cover while the south has an arid
appearance. There is a conflict between the cooler temperatures of the north and the warmer African winds from the southeast that is refereed by the 2000m mountain ranges in the middle. This accounts for the lush green valleys, fertile landscape, the beautiful climate and constant sunshine. So let’s get biking! Head south, this is where the cycling infrastructure is with bike hire shops and of course, the trailheads. Due again to the topography, the riding here is generally all or nothing, in as much as to get a decent loop, you’ll be out for 3.5hrs minimum assuming you start and finish from Playa del Ingles in Maspalomas. This first
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OUR NEW XC MARATHON BIKE
From top: a typically breathtaking view; Free Motion bike hire; tasty local treats
stage route is known as the Gran Canyon trail, and boasts similar scenery albeit on a slighter smaller and less petrifying scale than its Yankee cousin. As a taster for what type of riding exists on Gran Canaria, the Gran Canyon route is a good starter. Best of all, you can hire your own bike from the local Free Motion bike shop, thus saving yourself a divorcee’s handbag full of trouble like airline carriage costs and recalcitrant bus drivers’ inability to see bikes as baggage however packed. You will notice too, between grins and checking that you are in fact still alive, that the mountain bikes available for rent are admirably suited to the terrain here. Wide bars and short stems for control and long travel suspension, perfect for soaking up those rocks and rock holes the size of sheep heads. So travel light to Gran Canaria, and you´ll realise life is actually ok after all. You´ll also find that daily shuttle vehicles can take you up into the mountains for a day of screaming descents, guided, or you can go it alone with some food and a smile. There are daily guided excursions too to all the best routes. A bit of quiet reading and chatting with the staff at Free Motion who are all bikers at various levels, will elicit sufficient advice to help you pimp your ride with confidence. A large detailed map and route profiles in the Free Motion bike shop will help you plan your own week. The operation there is used to accomodating customised requests for shuttles into the mountains if you want to do the indie rider thing. One reccommended ride is the Devil´s Staircase which is the loner’s version of the
Summit Tour albeit down a rather different route. This descent from 2000 metres to 0.001 metres in 55km takes in the infamous staircase that has been hewn in the rock face. It serpentines downward with sickening regularity and requires pin point accuracy with where you choose to use the controls. There’s zero room for error here so bring insurance but know that is listed as one of the 10 best rides in the world by some German mags. It is easy to dwell on the fascinating and dangerous but exciting parts of any mountain bike route, but if the truth be told riding here is fast and furious. The UCI even deigned to hold a World Cup Marathon 100km race in the Canary Islands in 2006 and there is a local Open Marathon every March that the European pros come over and race to so they can see how their form is after a long winter. A typical marathon route here, there are 4 to be precise, is between 90 and 125km long and will clock up 1500 metres of altitude gain. The good news is that they all start and finish in the same area at Playa del Ingles. Come here in the months of January or Febuary and you will see all sorts of pros who, if you’re able, will usually let you ride with them as this stage of their training is usually just clocking up the daily kilometres. Accomodation is reasonable easy to come by, either by checking the internet or by emailing Free Motion ahead of time. Expect to pay about 45€ per night half board per person sharing over the Australian summer. That will be a basic two key aparthotel across the road from Free Motion and 100m from
Finding a line through the mountains
the beach. I stayed there myself and found it quiet and sleep-inducing which was just what we wanted. However, to bring out the party animal in you, the nightclubs, bars, restaurants and eateries are within walking distance. Taxis are numerous and cheap, you will pay around €3/€4 for any local journey. The beach I mentioned is the 6km long Playa del Ingles (Beach of the English), it was named after
the British ships that used to drop anchor here to pick up fresh fruit and water for the long last leg to, yes you’ve guessed it, Austrailia! The famous Maspalomas Dunes are immediatly adjacent to the beach and a short walk will take into the Sahara landscape, I’m talking 50m high dunes of fine shifting white sands over an enormous area. Walk through here and you will see endless ocean to your
south, white dunes all around you and jagged towering green mountains to your north. A place for a picture if ever one existed, and all within walking distance of a frosty beer. For information on Free Motion bike hire and local bike tours: www.free-motion.net For general information on the island: www.grancanaria.com
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Testing Industry Columnists Girl talk Get Fast Track Talk
Hamo grabbed Joelâ€™s lunch money and tried to make a quick getaway. Photo: Damian Breach
Carver Killer B Words by Joel McFarlane-Roberts. Photos: Damian Breach
50b is a wheel size which, when fitted with a mountain bike tyre, has a diameter about halfway between the 26” and 700c or 29” size. Accordingly, it is sometimes referred to as the 27.5” size. What do all these numbers mean? Nothing really, wheel size talk is getting a bit tiring – it’s the bike and the ride that are important. The Bike The build quality of the titanium frame is great, with neat Ti welds, nicely shaped tubing and a simple brushed finish. A bent top tube gives extra clearance while maintaining a decent seat tube length (19” on the large-sized test bike). The chain-stays are shaped to provide a fairly compact rear end while still giving ample clearance for 2.3” tyres. Subtle gusseting at the head tube/ down tube intersection, two sets of bottle mounts, and rack mounts on the rear dropouts are all nice touches to ensure versatility. The parts build on the bike was good, without being distracting. SRAM X.9 derailleurs and shifters, Avid Juicy 5 brakes, Truvativ Stylo crankset, Velocity Blunt wheelset and Raceface bar/stem/seatpost are all solid and versatile performers. The new-to-this-tester X-Fusion Velvet R fork is customised to the 650b size, has rebound and air pressure adjustments, and looks like a nice trail fork. With the bike assembled and tweaked, it was time to have a spin.
Carver Bikes is a small US builder specialising in bikes with strange wheel sizes. Figuring that the 26” market is pretty well covered by thousands of others, Carver’s line-up sports mountain bikes with 24” wheels, 26”/29” hybrids (69ers, oh dear), “regular” 29ers and interestingly, the 650b Killer B.
The Ride The Killer B is a titanium hardtail. With this in mind, I had some preconceptions before the bike even arrived. I expected it to be stiff, light and comfortable. And I wasn’t disappointed. Under sprinting load the frame flexed within a range which didn’t cost too much energy or compromise handling. It also meant I was confident enough to crank out big gears without distorting the frame too much despite my 85kg. The bike comes in at a reasonable weight too, a claimed 1.55kg in the 19” size. Ti frames can be lighter than this, but stiffness is compromised. A steel frame of the same stiffness would be significantly heavier due to the material’s higher density. The stiffness under power also didn’t come at the cost of ride comfort like alloy frames. I guess this is where people normally chime in with the “magical ride of Ti” rant. Without getting quite that religious, the ride was definitely supple and natural. This is not something I noticed much in use, however. I only noticed when I jumped back onto other bikes, and found myself spending more time out of the saddle. The Carver’s seated comfort, with this hindsight, makes it a great hardtail candidate for longer rides, possibly even really long rides. You know the ones. With regard to handling, the front end came set up super-high, with a riser bar and the 6 degree stem pointing up. Coupled with the taller fork this resulted in a more upright seating position, which was comfortable,
but also shifted weight further back. With the front end relatively unweighted, I found the front wheel washing out quite easily. Fortunately, this was easily fixed by flipping the stem over and getting more weight onto that front tyre into corners. The handling improved immensely, and it even began to feel more like a race bike. The Pivot behaved so much like a race bike that I rode it in the National Champs at Mt Stromlo. The course was short but most notably included a fairly long, really steep fire road climb and a great fun, flowing bermed descent. Hitting the bottom of the climb I realised that I normally avoid such things and had no idea how the Carver would ride. The short rear end, which meant I could enjoy doing wheelies around the streets, also gave it a good climbing position, and the Pacenti 2” tyres maintained their traction nicely on the eroded gravel. The stiff rear end again proved itself, maintaining its dimensions and allowing the power to go through to the rear wheel. The wheels rolled smoothly over bumps and ruts – important for maintaining speed when climbing. Hitting the downhill is always great, and the Carver was a super-predictable descender. With a 70 degree head angle, pushing the bike into corners fast didn’t present any problems. The bigger wheels, as mentioned, rolled better over trail imperfections, which the rain-eroded course had plenty of. On the trail this meant that at high speed I could concentrate better on where I
Joel stares intently at Hamo’s wheel tracks
was going, not the little things you have to avoid in order to keep your flow. At the end of the day, the strongest impression the bike gives is that it’s very natural. As soon as I got on it I felt comfortable, and confident with its handling. It wasn’t just me, everyone who rode it commented on how easy it was to ride, given its predictable nature. The no-nonsense parts kit worked great, the tyres offered good volume without being super-chunky, and the wheels were nice and stiff. The VERDICT This is a rider’s bike, but that doesn’t stop it from being a racer’s
bike as well. It’s fast, comfortable and predictable, and in my book that makes it a perfect enduro bike. If you don’t want a duallie for whatever reason (I can come up with a few!) then it’ll be hard to find something more comfortable and forgiving than the Carver. If you pick one up, you might even get forgiveness from your spouse (presuming you have one). The bike as tested retails for about $4395, which is seriously comparable to a lot of alloy hardtails hanging in shops at the moment. Considering the standard of the frame and the years of use you’re likely to get out of it, I rate the value for money you get out of the Carver.
the best Predictable, smooth, comfortable and fun ride. the worst Tall front end may need some cockpit surgery; I’ve yet to find a 650b tube in Australia! Frame Carver Killer B 19” (Large) Fork X-Fusion Velvet R Derailleurs SRAM X.9 Shifters SRAM X.9 trigger Rims Velocity Blunt disc-only 650b Tyres Pacenti Quasi-Moto 650b x 2” Brakes Avid Juicy 5 Crankset Truvativ Stylo Handlebar Raceface Deus XC Stem Raceface Evolve XC Seat & post Raceface Evolve XC RRP $4395 (bike), $2195 (frame)
BMC Fourstroke 02 TESTING
Words by Hamish Armstrong Photos: Damian Breach
The Bike The Fourstroke 02 offers plenty of features to get excited about. Out of the box the bike looks the goods painted up in loud green and white. The colour may look a bit ‘off’ in photos but trust me: it looks a whole lot better in the flesh. The aluminium frame of the test bike is triple butted, meaning it has three different wall thicknesses according to tail forces placed on the frame. Characteristically, it also features the Integrated Skeleton Concept (ISC) at the top of the seat tube which, according to BMC, allows for effective force distribution through the frame. No stranger to acronyms, BMC stick with the theme, the bike uses the Advanced Pivot System (APS) which provides a stable rear end, minimal pedal-induced bob, and a fully active system under braking – every mountain bikers dream. Complimented by the silver Shimano highlights and 7inch front rotor, the bike looks tough and fast. Overall, the bike comes with a solid and thoroughly considered parts mix. You’re hard-earned cash gets you full Shimano XT running gear, Fox F100 RL front forks and RP2 rear shock with a DT Swiss X 1800 wheelset. The BMC in-house brand Scor Race takes care of the stem, bars, seat and post. Made with quality 7050 forged alloy, the parts look simple and stylish. Time to get it dirty!
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand recently you’d have noticed that BMC bikes have a strong representation at the top end of the Aussie 24hr race scene. With riders like Jason English winning just about every 24hr he enters on the bikes, they’ve caused a few people to stop and take notice. BMC are a Swiss-based bike company with a reputation for quality and individuality.
The Ride Hopping on this bike you immediately notice its lightweight and nimbleness. The rear end particularly felt stiff and solid. It felt like all the pedal input was going into getting the bike up the hill, rather than getting lost in suspension bob or elsewhere through the frame. Whether this was because of ISC, APS, or any other carefully crafted acronym, I’m not sure – fact is, the bike pedals well. With the added benefit of lock-out at the front and rear, you could easily turn this bike into a responsive hardtail (or fully-rigid) without too much trouble. So, having proved itself as a climber, it was time for some descending. The head angle of this bike is on the steeper side for a dual suspension bike, indicating its racey intentions. This made for a slightly twitchy front end. When matched to the slightly narrow bars, this made the bike fast to react but also a little unstable and unpredictable at times. Descending was fun but the weight balance of the bike made me feel like I was slightly too far over the front, making me nervous on super-steep descents. This would be helped with some wider bars and a higher-rise stem. The nervousness was only noticeable in the steep stuff; it felt stable and solid in typical singletrack riding. The front end of the bike is clearly well engi
neered – stiff and direct. No doubt helped by the Fox Forks, it didn’t squirm at all under load on the descents. Likewise the rear end, it remained stiff and solid no matter how hard I cornered. On typical trail-ride-with-mates singletrack, the FS02 offered a great ride with the bike soaking up the trail well and offering responsive pedal input out of the corners. The rear end offered great smallbump response, adding to traction on the bumpy climbs and comfort to rough, flat sections. The Shimano XT brakes also added confidence to the ride, allowing for late and powerful braking. The steeper head angle that was a bit twitchy on descents made for a bike that was very responsive to steererinput, it was really impressive in tight singletrack sections and particularly switchback climbs. After over six weeks with the bike it’s held up really well. There’s been no bearing play, brake shudder or unwanted clicks or creaks. The running gear all worked like a dream too, the Fox suspension provides a solid, supple and easily adjustable ride. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres have a strange tread pattern but hooked up well in a variety of conditions, they were a good match for this style of bike. The DT Swiss wheels held up well too although they copped a few dings and felt a bit soft. If I were to change any-
thing on the bike I would put some tougher wheels on, get a stem with a bit more rise and throw some wider bars on just to counter that slight twitchiness in the front end. I’m speaking from a trail-ride perspective though, if you want to race on it, the set-up suits it well. All in all it proved a very convincing package. The VERDICT This bike is a quality piece of gear and it’s priced as such. It’s clearly aimed at the cross country or enduro racer with its steep head angle, fast steering, lightweight frame and responsive climbing ability. If you’re after a quick bike with a solid, durable spec mix that will turn in quick and soak up the rough stuff along the way, the Fourstroke is definitely worth a look. The best The suspension design provided more than adequate adjustment, a great pedalling platform and a supple ride. The groupset offered powerful braking and clean, crisp shifts. The worst It lowers me to the nit-picking level, but the bars were just too narrow and did feel a little odd in their sweep and overall feel. The rims were also too soft for my liking.
“Yeah the suspension is really supple blah blah…” Hamo shows us a bit of foot out, two wheel drift action.
Frame BMC ISC Alluminium Fork Fox F100RL REAR SHOCK Fox RP2 Derailleurs Shimano XT Shifters Shimano XT Rims DT Swiss X 1800 Tyres Schwalbe Racing Ralph Brakes Shimano XT Crankset Shimano XT Handlebar Scor Race Stem Scor Race Seat & post Scor Race RRP $5995
GT Zaskar Expert TESTING
Words by Nic Eccles Photos: Adam MacLeod
The Bike The GT Zaskar is finished in a simple white with subtle green highlights and sharp black graphics. It looks tough and fast. It’s amazing how quickly we get used to the oversize look of carbon frames, in comparison this aluminium GT tubing is skinny and sculptured, it’s especially noticeable when you’re looking down from the cockpit. The bike is finished with a comprehensive spec. mix. The forks are Rock Shox Recon Race with lock-out and rebound adjustment. The drivetrain is complete Shimano SLX – no down-spec’ed cranks or front derailleur here. The theme of quality continues with a Mavic CrossRide Disc wheelset and Ritchey stem, bars and post topped off with a Fizik Gobi saddle. It’s a comprehensive and quality package without any glaring weaknesses. The Ride With the development and progression in the dual-suspension market and the industry’s continued love of carbon, the humble aluminium hardtail seems to have been largely forgotten over the last few years. As a result, it’s been a good while since I pedalled one. That said, it only took a few minutes in the singletrack for all the
Back when I was young and impressionable I used to watch Olympians Rob Woods and Josh Fleming race on aluminium GT Zaskar hardtails, complete with the ‘Triple-Triangle’ design, and dream of one day riding one. If you don’t set your dreams too high you can live them, and proving this, I picked up the latest GT Zaskar Expert for testing and ticked off another box on my ever-dwindling dreams list.
memories – some good, some bad – to come flooding back. This bike is nimble and light. Pedalling it to the trail and out of the saddle, it eagerly jumped forward with each pedal stroke. On the trail too, it was easy to throw the bike around and get a bit of air. The back wheel was happy to skip through corners while jumping over logs proved almost effortless. You immediately notice the uncompromising, direct nature of the aluminium frame. With about 35psi in the tyres, I was feeling every bump through the modestly-padded Fizik saddle. The ride was on the harsh side but this translated to direct and very effective power transfer when it came to sprinting up small pinch climbs or out of corners. There’s not much power lost in frame flex on the GT, that’s for sure. The bike also comes with GT branded lock-on grips. Matched to the flat, aluminium Ritchey bars, they offered great communication with the trail, perhaps too much as I soon found my hands feeling a bit sore without generously padded gloves. If the bike were mine I’d throw on some foam grips to add a bit of compliance here. With a 71 degree head angle matched to a 100mm fork and a 6 degree rise 90mm stem, the bike felt short and snappy. The
top-tube certainly felt shorter than its almost 60cm horizontal length. It was quick to turn in, particularly on tight, uphill switchbacks and made me feel like a bit of a tight-trail guru compared to my fumbling efforts on more relaxed-angled bikes. The shorter setup also made steep and techo climbs a breeze as I was able to get enough weight over the front but still keep traction on the rear. When the trail pointed down, the bike maintained solid composure and, with the riser stem and 680mm bars, felt confident. With the stiff frame, I did notice the rear wheel doing a fair bit of chattering on descents though, taking away from rear wheel traction and making for a harsh ride through braking ruts. On the flipside, the frame of the Zaskar is a solid unit, not only in terms of power transfer on the climbs, but also when cornering hard on descents, I never felt the bike squirm or flex under me, which is also obviously a product of the solid Rock Shox Recon front forks. The spec. mix on the bike held up well. The Rock Shox Recons have good adjustability with external lock-out and rebound adjustment, the lock-out was great for punching the tarmac, fully rigid style, prior to hitting
Seat & post Ritchey / Fizik Gobi XM RRP $2599
Crankset Shimano SLX Handlebar Ritchey Pro 680mm Stem Ritchey 4-bolt
The best Fast, direct, responsive and great value for money.
Rims Mavic CrossRide Disc Tyres Kenda Karma 26x2.0 Brakes Shimano SLX
The Verdict This is a raw, fast cross country bike for those who like to thrash around on the trails with not much to numb the experience. The skinny aluminium frame, flat bars and narrow saddle are there for speed over comfort. Although not at the premium end of the market, I think of the Zaskar as the Lotus Elise of the bike world – it has everything you need to go fast, nothing extra, and provides a hell of a ride if you’re willing to put in the energy. The Zaskar is for the rider who wants to go fast and doesn’t mind getting thrown around a bit in the process. At a bargain price point, it offers a very convincing package.
Derailleurs Shimano SLX Shifters Shimano SLX
the trails. Although perhaps they’re a bit on the heavy side at over 1800 grams, the forks offered a plush ride and also added confidence in the techo stuff. If you ask me, I’m happy to be loaded up with a few more grams if it means greater confidence on the trails. The Kenda Karma tyres, with their large and evenly spaced nobs, proved durable and grippy in a variety of terrain. Although not especially convincing in thick dust, they offered great grip on the typically hardpacked local trails. The Mavic CrossRide wheelset also proved to be a durable, fast-rolling and good looking set of hoops that didn’t bend or buckle during our test. The Shimano SLX drivetrain looks great in subtle grey and provided reliable shifting and braking performance. We did have a problem with the thumb shifter on the rear sticking forward. It wasn’t a big issue, you could knock it back with your thumb or it would generally move back into position after a few seconds, but it was a small fault in an otherwise great package. The Fizik saddle at first felt a bit too minimal and, well hard; but it proved to be really impressive. It was comfortable on the trail and its narrow shape meant it was easy to slide over the back on steep descents.
Frame Kinesis Superlight aluminium Fork Rock Shox Recon Race
The worst Harsher ride than carbon, requires a fair bit of energy to ride fast.
Pete shows the GT at its best: out of the saddle and accelerating like mad
Jamis Dakar XCT 2 TESTING
Words by Peter Knight Photos: Adam MacLeod
The Bike The Dakar XCT 2 is of the All Mountain variety; built for doing pretty much whatever you want it to do (save for a morning bunch ride). Its 130mm of rear suspension runs on Jamis’s mp3 linkage design, optimized for near vertical wheel travel, which is attached to a solid Kinesium main triangle. The resulting frame is pretty good to look at and the 2-Phase Rust paint-job, alternating between gloss and matt, seemed durable and was easy on the eye. The bounce comes from a Fox Float R rear shock and this is matched up to Marzocchi 44ATA TST2 forks. These have 100-140mm of travel, lock-out, rebound, compression and preload adjustments and a nice chunky 15mm through-axle for solid front wheel tracking. The parts mix on the Dakar is pretty strong with Shimano SLX shifters moving the XT rear and Deore front derailleurs. Cranks and bottom bracket are Shimano Deore Hollowtech numbers. Nothing flash here, but it’s not a critical downgrade. SRAM provide the chain and cassette and Shimano is back on for providing the M505 SPDs. Making it spin are a set of Mavic XM117 rims laced with straight gauge spokes to an Alivio rear hub and Formula front. These aren’t top notch hubs, however, if you take the time to
It is with some sadness to see that the famed Dakar rally of 2009 neither started in Paris nor finished in Dakar. This year it was all about Buenos Aires as the start and finish for one of the great endurance off-road rallies in the world. It is with interest that I note Jamis has kept the Dakar name regardless as it still evokes the toughness and strength this bike is all about. That, and Buenos Aires probably wouldn’t fit on the top-tube…
adjust and maintain them, they’ll serve you well. Some Kenda Nevegal 2.35” tyres hook you up and providing the skids are Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disks. With 160mm rotors, they will heat up a bit on long runs, but they’re also light and modulate well giving good feel at the lever. Ritchey bar, stem and seatpost do their job and nothing more while the WTB Rocket V Comp saddle is enough to get you out riding. The Ride Swapping between bikes of all different types can take its toll. Having spent the previous couple of weeks steering with a 73° head angle on skinny little tyres, the Dakkar’s 68.5° head angle and fat tyres certainly felt different, to say the least. That said, within about fifteen seconds the bike felt pretty right with everything in the correct place. Of course those angles mean that this bike isn’t that happy at slow speeds. Riding tight and twisty singletrack, although still fun enough, was not its forte. No, where this bike likes to be is at speed with plenty of the rough stuff to really work the suspension. And that’s just as well. My first ride was following a mate on tracks that were new to me. When you suddenly get launched at a good sized rocky wall-ride with your only option but to com-
mit, a bike like the Dakar is your ticket out alive. The bike is awesomely stable at speed with the front wheel always tracking in the direction you’d hoped for. Its stability can be rumbled if pushed far enough, and to the limits of the tyres, at which point you just get a bit of graceful two wheel drift that, although possibly not what you were after, feels controllable and safe. You’d expect to pay a heavy price for a competent descender when it’s time to go back up right? Well, yes and no. The rear suspension stays well active under pedalling pressure with a minimum of bobbing. For rough ascents, the suspension keeps the bike really well hooked up as long as you stay in the saddle. Riding this bike up hill is the complete opposite of going down where you go out of your way to fling it about and show some style. Up hill is all about staying quiet and spinning the legs. Get out of the saddle and the plush rear end will swallow you and all your forward momentum. That said, if you can keep your cool while heading back up, this bike ascends surprisingly well and gives it proper go-anywhere status. I could have used a chairlift on the third ascent though… Riding this do anything sort of bike is a lot of fun. It’s also demanding in that to accomplish its all-terrain ability, it really
The Jamis is all about stability
The Verdict This bike impressed me and I can certainly recommend it for the keen rider. What really ran through my mind riding the bike was that even though I was spending the weekend going large, I’d still be right for work on Monday. This bike is forgiving and confidence inspiring: almost everything becomes rideable while still keeping in control. The Dakar XCT 2 sits well at its price-point, offering a serious frame and suspension package without a prohibitive price tag. Particularly if you’re going to just own one serious bike, and with fun as the prime reason, the Dakar will stand you in good stead. And sure, I’d probably also prefer Buenos Aires over Dakar for a holiday right now, but holidays are short lived and this bike is about going the distance… and not taking afternoon naps. The best Confidence inspiring, durable, wants to go downhill fast.
Stem Ritchey 4-Bolt Seat & post WTB Rocket V / Ritchey alloy clamp RRP $3499
Brakes Avid Juicy 3 Crankset Shimano Deore Handlebar Ritchey Mountain Rizer
Rims Mavic XM117 disc Tyres Kenda Nevegal 26x2.35
of tuning options to get your setup dialed. The 15mm through axle keeps flex to a minimum while not adding too much weight. The forks showed a little stiction in their initial travel which I imagine will be gone in the production forks (the test forks were pre-production numbers). Long downhill runs get the Juicy 3’s pretty hot, however I never felt like I was running drums down Conrod Straight and there was always enough feel to help haul the bike up for something tricky. The remaining parts on the bike all kept their heads down and did their job. The Shimano/SRAM drivetrain felt dependable and the wheels stayed true despite my best efforts in blossoming rock gardens.
REAR SHOCK Fox Float R Derailleurs Shimano XT (R) / Shimano Deore (F) Shifters Simano SLX Rapidfire
relies heavily on the rider to adjust their style constantly. To get the most out of what this bike has to offer, you need to flit between mashing on the pedals and throwing your weight around, and, sitting still and gently spinning the pedals while you patiently wait for the top of the hill. The Dakar, like its namesake race, is about speed and endurance. In terms of the frame and parts, the speed aspect certainly ran true. The rear end stays really active on its cartridge bearing links and certainly is designed to be most useful when rocketing downhill. I did find a tiny amount of movement in the pivots, but 1mm of movement doesn’t mean much when wailing down a killer track. The Marzocchi forks were a good match with plenty
Frame Kinesium alloy 130mm Fork Marocchi 44 ATA TST2, 15mm axle, 100-140mm
The worst Heavy at slow speeds, small amount of play in the pivots.
ENDURO 11 ENDURO 11
long term test
Radical Lights RAD 3L & PODDA 4L
RRP: $749 (RAD 3L) $949 (PODDA 4L)
Words by Dan Mackay
What’s in the box? The Radical Lights setup comes in a slick padded hard case – it’s perfect sized and has pockets for all the components of the systems. The package includes a light weight head unit (120grams including handlebar mount hardware), Lithium Polymer battery (200gm in a nifty soft case with frame mounting straps), helmet mount, smart charger and some spares (fuses, Allen key, mounting loops). Mounting the lights The head units feature a simple, narrow (10mm) bar mount that attaches to the handlebar by a rubber mounting ring. Horizontal adjustment comes by virtue of a hidden Allen key in the light mount, vertical adjustment is by slipping the light around on the bar. The rubber straps can be easily fitted around both oversize and standard bars. While the narrow mounting is easy to fit onto the bars where bar real-estate is limited, this does make the unit shudder when the trail gets bumpy. This wobbling is noticeable in the daylight but the wide-beam means it’s not so noticeable on the trail at night. The helmet mounting hardware is a simple plastic bracket with a Velcro strap. The head unit mounts to the bracket using the same rubber strap system as is used by the bar mount – it’s simple to set up and allows easy vertical adjustment. The plastic bracket has slots for the Velcro in both longitudinal and cross positions, a nice little feature for
fitting to helmets without usefully placed vents. Sounds pretty good? It’s not all sweet berms, beer and skittles unfortunately. Mounting the head unit on top of the helmet mount rather than using a specifically designed mount means that the head unit sits a long way above the helmet. While the unit is lightweight, the combination of high mounting and a bit of movement in both the rubber straps and the Velcro, makes for some uncomfortable helmet wobble. Also, sitting up high makes the light vulnerable to low-lying branches – not a great way to end a winter’s trail ride. The manufacturers are aware of the problem though and are developing a new, lower profile carbon mount as we speak. Release the secret weapon Firing the lights up requires three quick clicks on the unit-mounted switch. This is a great precaution for preventing accidents in transit particularly given the heat the lights produce at full power. This switch also rolls through the five output levels and switches the unit from continuous to strobe modes. The 4 LED PODDA 4L offers some 1137 lumens, sufficient power to stun a kangaroo and perhaps even kill smaller wildlife, or at least blind them. The lower power RAD3L uses only three LEDs and puts out 812 lumens. This is obviously less powerful, but unless you’re planning to start a business on the side diverting aircraft, it’s more than enough. Apart from being SERIOUSLY
bright the beam patterns are brilliant. The medium beam throws an intense and even beam that is wide enough to illuminate the width of a trail at about 3-4 meters. The wide beam pattern gives broad and bright coverage with no hot-spots which is perfect for a bar light. With such a high light output you’d expect the lights to chew the batteries but the lithium polymer batteries last nearly three hours on the highest setting on the PODDA 4L. This is long enough for the average night ride, particularly considering you can extend the run time past 12hrs using lower output levels. Overall The systems use a relatively simple looking design but clearly pack in some sophisticated electronics and quality components. The mounting hardware, particularly the helmet mount, is not very well designed, a lower and sturdier mount would make a huge difference. However these are early demo models and a new carbon mount is being designed as noted. One of the beauties of this system is the hardware can be returned to the manufacturer for upgrades, updates and overhauls. Overall the Radical lights PODDA 4L and RAD 3L provide great power, a lightweight system, fast recharge (approx. 3hrs) and best of all they’re made in Australia! Stay tuned as we put in some solid trial time with these lights. www.radical-lights.com
long term test
Jet Black Rocket wheels RRP: $749 Words by Dan Mackay
our hard-earned $749 buys you a set of rims with a 19mm profile and welded joints, laced with stainless steel spokes to an alloy hub, running on Japanese made steel bearings. The rims can be set up with tubeless (although they’re not stated as UST tubeless), they’re disc specific and weigh in at roughly 400 grams each. The hubs are alloy bodied 28 hole front, 32 hole rear weighing in at 155 grams for the front and 268 grams for the rear. The total wheel weight is about 1640 grams for the set (not including the quick releases). Included with the wheels is a matching set of anodised quick-release skewers and spare spokes. The hubs are anodised in red with matching red alloy nipples - a class act in eye-candy. However a quick spin on the truing stand showed that that rims were not perfectly true. Both wheels showed minor
(and we’re talking a few mm) wobbles. Spoke tension wasn’t perfect either with the driveside of the rear wheel being a little lower on tension than I would expect. Aside from the spoke tension, the machining quality of the rims and hubs is seamless. With tyres mounted up they rolled with impressive smoothness, a testament to the importance of using good quality bearings. The rear freehub was a little sleepy (a few more degrees than the Mavics I’ve been riding) on the catch but aside from an angry buzz of the freehub the wheels ran fabulously smooth and friction-free. As could reasonably be expected given from the weight of the wheels , they accelerate rapidly, climb like mountain goats and are a joy to throw into corners. However a few quick sprints and tight turns on the tarmac confirmed that the wheels do tend to twist
a little under load. While it’s not entirely unexpected that light wheels ‘give a little’ I’m pretty confident that proper tensioning of the spokes would eliminate the flex (and the spoke ‘plunk’ noise heard when the wheels were pushed hard into a corner). Early conclusions; The Rocket wheels are well priced, impressively light and look fabulous. Machining quality is great however the wheel build is lagging a little. If you’re considering a decent set of light weight XC/ enduro wheels these would be a great option provided you’re willing to get the spokes re-tensioned (which isn’t a major issue). We’ll keep you posted on these wheels in the next issue once we’ve sorted the tension and clocked up some more miles. www. jetblackproducts.com
ENDURO 11 ENDURO 11
Adidas Supernova: $289.95 - $299.95 (right) Evil Eye Pro: $349.95 - $389.95 (above)
Adidas are a big player on the world sporting scene. With size comes variety and Adidas now offer a bunch of styles for mountain bikers. We tested the Supernova and Evil Eye Pro.
Words by Kath Bicknell
Supernova The standout feature of the Supernovas is the one piece lens – it’s a simple design that provides clear, unobstructed vision. This gives great coverage and excellent peripheral vision and, unlike some other rimless sunglasses, the bottom of the lens is low enough so you don’t get an annoying double vision effect as your vision passes past the bottom edge. The arms have three points of vertical adjustment to optimise the fit, and are designed to sit comfortably and securely without placing too much pressure on the side of your head. The nose piece is also adjustable. The lens we tested (LST Trail Silver) features Adidas’ “Light Stabilising Technology” which has a high light-absorbency rating but also keeps things looking bright. What this means for the wearer is you can still pick out definition on dusty single track on a glaringly sunny day. Likewise in the shade, you can see everything you need to right up until sunset. Weighing just 23 grams in the large size, this model is an impressive package and it comes as no surprise that so many of our top riders choose them to race in. Evil Eye Pro Some readers might remember Aussie mountain bike Olympian Mary Grigson in advertisements for the Evil Eye shades almost ten years ago. While the colours have been updated, the concept remains unchanged. Like the Supernovas, the Evil Eyes feature the adjustable arms and nose piece, although with this model, the nose piece can be removed altogether for a closer fit. The Evil Eyes are also available with the LST Trail Silver lens and come in small and large sizes. In the smaller size, the frame sits close to the face, but is cleverly shaped to
avoid contact with the eyebrows which can leave greasy sweat marks – a disadvantage of the Supernova model. We tested the more expensive Evil Eye Pro version which also features a set of orange lenses and a “Sweat Blocker” which attaches to the top of the frame. Orange lenses are great for hazy days or on shady singletrack rides, but can make things too glary when you’re in full sun. Not so with these lenses. I found them comfortable and squint-free in bright conditions. This means you won’t be spewing about taking the wrong lenses out for the day. Being a contact lens wearer, I was concerned about the effects of air passing through the frames while riding. I have a lot of trouble with most sunglasses as my contacts can easily dry out meaning an uncomfortable, blurry ride. The close fitting frame of the Evil Eyes eliminated this problem, and I was surprised to learn that the adjustability of the Supernovas did the same – which is a personal first for an outing in rimless sunnies. They were also comfortable in dusty situations. Both models offer the option of a prescription frame that attaches to the nose piece if contacts aren’t for you. With its thick frames, the Evil Eyes don’t offer as much peripheral vision as the Supernova, something that’s particularly noticeable when riding in traffic. It’s a personal thing though; I didn’t mind the slightly obstructed vision and found the close fit offered good protection. Give them a good test in the shop with a helmet on to see if they work for you. The Supernovas and the Evil Eyes come in a variety of frame and lens colour options, and replacement parts are available should you do something silly like break them – somewhat of a relief given the initial cost. I was pleased to discover that the adjustable
arm was the weakest point of my pair of Evil Eyes and when I did the unforgivable “pop them in your jersey pocket, forget, and lean back against a couch post-ride”, the arm simply detached. I don’t imagine this is reliable enough to include in product advertising, but it is certainly comforting to know! Summing up Both models represent the quality and engineering you would expect from a company as large as Adidas. The Evil Eye Pros are a well thought out option for riders demanding a close fit, a high level of eye protection and versatility to suit all riding conditions. For a faultless, unobstructed field of vision, which doesn’t make you look too sporty off the bike, the Supernovas are a great alternative. The lens quality in both models is well matched to rides on the road or in the bush, and the materials used to make these shades means a comfortable, lightweight fit. The biggest downside of these glasses, and quite a formidable one, is the price. With the Evil Eye Pros retailing for close to $400, it’s a fair amount of cash to swap for a set of plastic frames with windows and hinges. If you’re the sort of person to leave your glasses on top of the car, or throw them in your hydration pack with your multi-tool, I’d suggest to look elsewhere – you can get glasses that perform well for far less money. If you’re one to take good care of your gear, the price is justifiable. They are a premium product that will last and, with a variety of lens options, offer good versatility. The research and customisability that has gone into these designs makes me think it’s no accident that I found them to really hit the mark. www.mimo.com.au
Oury Grips $25 (standard) $55 (lock-on) Words by Niki Fisher
Ever had a bet with your riding buddies over who could ride the “Blair witch” or “Buckle” trails the quickest? Ever wondered how far you can ride from sun up till sunset?
can’t praise these grips enough. Without going over the top they’re basically the best grips I’ve ever used. What I like about them most is the comfort factor: they’re soft enough to opt out on wearing gloves, fat enough to absorb some shock and grippy enough to ensure that your hands won’t slip off during the tough times. They’re practical and, in the subtle light shade of blue, damn fine looking – the perfect bar accessory! On the down side the symmetrical groves and textured surface of the grip means they attract dirt easily (see above). It’s not such a big issue if you choose a
STOP CHASNG YOUR TAIL...... CHASE THE SUN. Four events staged at the home of mountain biking. do just one, or do em’ all.
darker colour but something to be mindful of if you choose a lighter shade – they may look nice in the shop but possibly not so nice after a few hours in the dust. Due to their soft rubber, they’re also a pain to get on the bars. In fact, they’re quite possibly the most stubborn grip you’ll ever try getting on. On the flipside, once they’re on they’re on, there’s not a chance these bad boys are going to twist or slip! If you don’t mind shelling out almost double the coin, they’re also available in a lock-on version. So yeah, all in all they’re awesome grips that look and work a treat. www.dirtworks.com.au
LYSTERFIELD PARK > VICTORIA Round 1 - 26th April 2009 Round 2 - 31st May 2009 Round 3 - 26th July 2009 Round 4 - 16th August 2009
FULL GAS PROMOTIONS PO. Box 1346 St Kilda 3182 email@example.com www.fullgaspromotions.com.au
Crumpler Bumper Issue
$145 Established in Australia in the mid ‘90s, Crumpler has made a name for itself over the years with a fresh and funky image specialising in bags for bikers. They’ve typically directed their gear to the urban commuter market but, showing a diversification for the company, the new Crumpler Bumper Issue is happy to trade lattes and laptops for lung-busting singletrack. Words by Robbie Morris
n accordance with the brand’s image, the Bumper Issue comes complete with loud colours and a unique style. The colour option we tested was Black/Gunmetal/Rotten Orange, and in typical Crumpler style, it also comes in several other well chosen and vibrant colour combos. Anyone familiar with Crumpler’s messenger bags will be pleased to see their quality standards have been transferred to this new pack – the Bumper Issue features great styling, good use of colours and design, rugged materials and quality buckles & webbing. As a larger volume hydration pack, the Bumper Issue is great for all day rides, commuting, and day walks when you’re off the bike. It also doubled as a great shopping bag, I was able to pack a good weight of groceries inside and strap some to the outside. If your load is smaller and lighter, the side straps cinch down to effectively secure the load and reduce the volume of the pack. These straps also enable you to carry long objects well, like a pump, trekking pole, or spring onions, helped by the clever sleeve at the base to support your object of choice. Taking side carrying to the extreme, I was impressed to find I could even strap on a set of skis. Using the side straps does come at a price to aes-
thetics though, as objects started to cover the good looking and high visibility “Rotten Orange” coloured side panels. Compartment-wise the pack has a main tapered pocket, with a stretch mesh divider passing to a gusted front pouch, and two zippered pockets accessed either side of the face of the pack. The sleeve at the back houses the neat Source-branded bladder and can be used as a separate compartment. The pack is well equipped with features. The reflective highlights are a great idea and the bottom strip is very visible, however the reflective ‘eyes’ which sit behind the clips were much less effective. The use of light coloured material for the interior of the pack is a good idea as it makes it easier to see into the depths of the bag to find that last hidden muesli bar or multi-tool. The zips on the two front pockets are of a decent gauge and felt good quality. Thanks to smart design their placement also means they won’t undergo much stress; all the better for longevity. The hip belt worked well, in part due to the back length as I was able to carry the weight on my hips rather than high on my waist. Any backpack is going to result in some
back sweat, and of course the bigger the contact with your body the more sweat. Being a bigger pack than your super slimline bladder & banana fitting hydration pack I did notice the sweat, but the central channel cut-out through the harness back section reduced its impact. There were a few limitations I found with the Bumper issue. The allowance of webbing for the main compartment clip is a bit short. It’s fine for low volume loads, but it limits the ability to pack it to the brim, or strap in a bulky item. Also, the shoulder straps sit very wide. They fitted me well, with help from the sternum strap, but for smaller riders they may sit too wide. Finally, the hydration bladder tube runs neatly through a sleeve in either shoulder strap, but due to the seam allowance I could feel the tube in the strap when it was on my back, particularly with heavier loads. Overall the bumper issue is a neat pack which looks the goods. It’s great to see a fresh take on the hydration pack theme. The Bumper Issue performed well and would be a solid ‘own one, do most things’ pack, or a niche player in a riding pack arsenal. www.crumpler.com.au
Five days of incredible mountain bike racing along the sweet single track and dusty trails of the majestic MacDonnell Ranges in the Red Centre.
H 2009 C R A M 2 2 21 ictorian V r, e ll u B t M lia Alps, Austra t about All that is grea g in one mountain bikin cation. spectacular lo incredible Two days of ong ike racing al mountain b and in lar trails the spectacu e th d an uller around Mt B s… Victorian Alp g n ki ta h breat 9: March, 200 Saturday 21 around ce ra 25km XC AM: A thrilling track. le ng si w ne their cranking ountry per-D (cross-c PM: A 7km Su ster oa rc lle ro a n downhill) dow descent. Lizard Skins Jumbo Chainstay 600m-vertical er’s $14.95 ill-you-drop rid PM: A party-t celebration. Enduro test crew 09: ch 22nd, 20 Sunday Mar flowing XC race along 55km al your AM:adds agicto his is a simple idea that a bit of peace and quiet m a in ils ness tra wilderneoprene, trail ride. Made from Powertex the Lizard Skins alpine setting.
chainstay protector means the horrible clanging sound of your chain bashing against your chainstay will be a sound of the past. It helps to keep your bike looking nicer for longer too. It’s easy to install, you just wrap it around your chainstay and fasten the Velcro. Most modern, oversize chainstays will require you to stretch the material pretty hard to get the Velcro to meet though. Once fastened the Velcro is strong; put a cable tie or two around it if you want to make sure it stays there. It’s a good investment and, in a variety of colours, another way to add that bit of personality to your rig. www.bicorp.com.au
25-29 May, 2009 This truly was one of the best events I've ever been part of.
James Williamson, 2008 World 24hr MTB Champion and Enduro magazine editor
One hell of a good race.
Huw Kingston, Highland Fling Race Director and outdoor legend
Deuter Bike I $129.95 Enduro test crew
Deuter make good gear. I eagerly took the new Bike 1 on the regular commuter paths, and over some dirt, to see if it reached my lofty expectations.
or a riding pack, the Bike 1 from Deuter is on the larger size. This is good and bad – it means you can fit plenty into it, but it also means it isn’t a first choice if you’re after a sleek, stick-to-yourback style trail riding pack. Deuter backpacks have a handful of features that distinguish them as a Deuter, these include a handy stowaway helmet holder, a zip away rain cover, a front clip for a bike rear light, a meshed waist strap, and the ‘airstripes’ back section for decreased (unfashionable) back sweat. Compared to the Deuter Hydro EXP 12 we reviewed last issue, this backpack offers a better space for dollar package, coming in at a decent case of beer cheaper and offering a cavernous main compartment. Space isn’t everything though and this pack definitely has a lower quality feel to it and, on the trails, its size means you’ll certainly feel it on your back. The Bike 1 tends to do what it wants, rather that what you want. This leads to a bit of helmet-ramming on the descents and sideways motion in the tight stuff. Also, when you load it up to its full capacity, the simple harness system does start to struggle a bit. I found that, with a heavy load, the shoulder straps started to dig into my shoulders after about half an hour of riding. This is a really well designed pack with plenty of features and space. If you’re after a commuter pack that can fit your laptop, a water bladder and a change of clothes, this is a great option. Those extra Deuter features and the company’s general attention to detail means this pack won’t let you down. On the trails you’ll notice its size, but if you need the space, this pack offers a decent compromise at a good price. www.velovita.net.au
Sigma Rox 9.0 $499 Heart rate monitors are getting smaller and becoming available in more convenient packages. As part of this trend we are also seeing brands bundle their bike speedos with heart rate monitors and throwing in plenty of other useful info along the way. The latest Sigma Rox 9 is an example of the trend. We grabbed one out of the box to find out if it’s a good as it sounds. Words by Dan Mackay
hat’s in the box? Your $499 buys you the complete setup including the computer, heart rate strap, wireless cadence and speed sensors, software (PC only), computer docking station (USB) and comprehensive mounting hardware. The unit is supplied with a complete selection of mounting hardware. This allows the head unit to be mounted on the stem or bars. Sensors can be mounted with either zip-tie for a permanent fix, or rubber loops if you want an easily removable system - a variety of lengths and strengths are supplied. The mounts are well made and fit to a variety of frame shapes. Most impressive was the crank magnet used for measuring cadence, it could be adjusted for wider or narrower bottom brackets and frames. Mounting and setting up the unit was extremely easy, the whole process including all the sensors was completed in about 20 minutes. The computer unit itself features a large clear display capable of showing six pieces of information at any one time. The unit records the usual cycle functions (speed, cadence, distance, time) with minimums, maximums and averages for most settings. In addition to the cycle functions the unit records heart
rate (with three user-set zone alarms) and altitude (minimum, maximum, current, slope all accurate to 1m/1 degree). Any of these functions can be displayed on screen, or found using the scroll buttons. In order to make the useful information easier to find, the unit features two display sets that can be set up to display favourite information. On top of the usual trip and unit life recording, the Rox 9.0 offers a log book function with recordings every 5, 10 or 30 seconds to a maximum of ~70hrs. Sound overwhelming? It’s not. Once you’ve set your favourites up the Rox 9.0 is a joy to use, the key features are all displayed onscreen or a couple of clicks away. The logbook function is called Sigma Data Center, it really comes in handy when the unit is removed (a neat quick-release to remove, by the way) and plugged into the supplied PC data cradle. With 5, 10, 30 second recordings a hill session can be easily broken down to look at changes in heart rate, speed and time. With the exception of cadence every piece of information (speeds, heart rate, altitude, distance), can be graphed. Analysis is largely by eyeballing graphed information- useful but it would be
interesting to be able to perform more complex analysis (moving averages, inter-session comparisons for hill repeats). Analysis aside, the software is simple to use and the information surprisingly useful, especially given the unit’s price point. This unit features all the must-have features for data-philes in a comprehensive and well engineered package. Accessing the features is fairly easy and the big informative display is a joy to view. The only negative is the menu system takes a little navigation and the chest heart-rate strap is the older style plastic band and isn’t as comfortable as the fabric systems. Compared to other similar systems nothing comes close on price and features. The only things I’d like to see are a fabric heart strap and a second set of sensors so I could run the unit on both my bikes as the unit supports two bikes. These are small complaints though, overall I was very impressed. If you’re looking for a comprehensive cycling computer to take your riding to the next level at a great price then look no further. www.bicorp.com.au
Rotor Q-Rings $359 (set of 3)
Rotor Q-Rings are a slightly controversial bit of cycling gear. They take the neat, round chainrings we are all used to, and replace them with distorted-looking oval rings – all in an attempt to make pedalling easier and more efficient. We bolted a set of three to one of our test bikes and went for a ride.
Words by Peter Hatton
otor Q-Rings are all about increasing your efficiency while pedalling. Rotor claims their Q-Rings reduce lactic acid build up, thereby reducing fatigue, and at the same time increase power output. They aim to achieve this through an elliptical ‘ovalised’ ring that maximises the chain ring count when you need it most, when you’re driving the pedals, and minimises the ‘dead spot’ (the point in between the drive points) where you’re producing the least amount of power. The idea is that, with less chain ring and less teeth, the dead spot is passed through more quickly, giving you more time and more chain ring teeth when you need them most. It may all sound a bit crazy, but if they’re good enough for the likes of Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, World Champ Christoph Sauser, World Champ Marianne Vos and the entire ProTour Cervello Test Team to name just a few, there must be something going for these elliptical rings. For the cynics who still have aching knees from Shimano’s BioPace system, fear not, Rotor has taken a totally different approach. As mentioned earlier, Q- Rings aim to reduce the effective gear during the dead spot so as to speed through to the power
phase. Here the effective gear is increased and you can make full use of all the power you’ve got. Shimano’s BioPace had the larger effective gear ratio set at the dead spot and the smaller part during the power phase, go figure that one! The rings bolted to my ’09 model Shimano XT cranks without any problem at all. They come with different mounting hole options so you can customise it to your riding style. The manual recommends starting off in the middle setting, which I did. Due to the oval shape, you also have to lift your front derailleur to match. If you’re not comfortable with home mechanics, I’d recommend leaving this to the friendly local bike shop as it can take a bit of trial, error and maybe a few expletives. Once adjusted though, shifting was smooth and unaffected by the elliptical shape of the rings. The first ride on the Q’s was a bit of an anti-climax in that I couldn’t feel any lumps or bumps in the pedal stroke or any acceleration or deceleration throughout the revolution. In fact, the only subtle difference I noticed was they actually felt smoother. It felt like my legs could spin more freely and easily. Strange.
Although it’s hard to quantify how much difference they make without any empirical evidence, after several more rides and races I’m very comfortable with these rings. They certainly feel more efficient when you’re turning the cranks over. They also seem to make it easier to accelerate from low speeds, a critical asset for mountain biking in particular. Having noticed very little difference switching to the rings, when I switched back to standard rings my pedal stroke suddenly felt lumpy and acceleration felt slow and boggy. That was enough to convince me to leave these odd-looking rings on my bike a bit longer! The Q-Rings aren’t cheap – but when you consider a new XTR big ring alone will set you back over $360 they’re quite good value. Having ridden with others who have used the rings, no one has found them to negatively affect their pedalling, but some certainly like them more than others. If you’re looking for something a bit different, or you’re chasing a little extra speed, I recommend checking these out. Personally, I’m not going back to standard round rings anytime soon. www.unlimitedbicycles.com.au
SDG Formula FXR Saddle: $249 Words by Nic eccles
DG have long been advocates of their unique-but-not-for-everyone I-Beam seat and post design but they also make standard saddles. The Formula FXR is a standard saddle which comes packed with plenty of features, most important of which is the solid Ti rails, as opposed to the usual hollow offerings. This means you’ll be working hard to bend the rails, no matter how heard you rag it. It also gives the saddle a really comfortable ride and a bit more spring than
you’ll find with hollow railed saddles. This saddle is on the long side which I found really handy. Rather than the seat ‘setting’ you in one position, it meant I could adjust my position on the saddle according to the terrain I was riding. It also meant it was easy to set up on the bike as adjusting saddle angle was less crucial. The middle of the saddle also features a softer compound than on the outer areas, adding to the comfort. This saddle is narrow and certainly more
on the race-day side, I wouldn’t recommend riding on it in without the extra padding of knicks. Also, the white colour isn’t for everyone, but there are two other black options available (pictured). The Formula FXR impressed me. If you’re after a fast saddle, the SDG’s quality construction and solid rails will go the distance and provide plenty of comfort along the way. www.dirtworks.com.au
I almost felt like royalty when I put these on for the first time. They felt snug and strong. I’m usually a medium in gloves but these felt a bit on the tight and restrictive side in medium. Undeterred, I grabbed my bike and went riding. These gloves are solid and they wore to my hand after only a few hours on the bike, feeling comfortable and protective. With lots of black leather, they aren’t great in the heat. Also, given that they’re leather, they aren’t the sort of gloves you’d get really sweaty or muddy and then throw in the washing machine and hope for the best. The best is that they’ll shrivel up and never be the same again. Having said that, their solid construction makes them a super-protec-
tive glove on the trails, I felt confident railing the corners knowing my hands were safe. In summary, it all depends what you want out of a glove. If you want an all-weather, all-purpose glove that you can sweat in and wipe down your chain with, look elsewhere. If you want a stylish, versatile glove for trails, road riding and commuting that will stand up to plenty of abuse and offer strong protection, these are a good option. Importantly too, you’re guaranteed lots of comments at the post-ride coffee session. They’re solid, stylish, and comfortable and, after plenty of trail rides, still make my trail mitts look well below par. www.knog.com.au
knog ride hard gloves $79 Enduro test crew
Made from fine-grained goat skin leather, these close fitting gloves from Knog certainly look the goods, their stealth black and solid construction suggests plenty more style than my regular trail-ride mitts.
ot only that, they feel good too. They’re well stitched and, with extra reinforced sections at key wear areas and a padded palm, look to be able to stand up to a fair bit of abuse. They also have ventilated sections at each side of the glove to maintain some airflow and the back section is left open so as not to smother your hand in black leather too much. Being a typically shabby mountain biker,
Ascend sport ASCEND Elite Recovery: $99.50 – 1kg powder ASCEND Elite Protein Catalyst: $105 – 120 capsules ASCEND Elite Recovery Bars: $42.60 – box of 12
The company behind Ascend Sport has been in the protein recovery business for years and, after exhausting research and trials, has recently launched its own brand to provide athletes with a well-researched alternative product for post-exercise recovery. Words by Niki Fisher
met Stewart and Steve from Ascend Sport at last year’s inaugural Cape to Cape stage race in Western Australia. Over four days of racing they became well known with their brightly packaged products. The product display tent was suitably positioned daily near the finish line and it became a popular place to refuel, relax and chat post-ride. I don’t usually pay too much attention to the claims hyping up energy bars and supplements, but there was no mistaking Stuart’s passion for the science behind their products. So instead of nodding and taking a few steps backwards when he approached me with his product spiel, I listened attentively and did my best to take on board as much coherent information from his very un-simplified scientific talk as possible. Ascend was created by MG Nutritionals, a subsidiary of Murray Goulburn Co-Operative. Having been a major supplier of specialised proteins to the world’s largest sports nutrition companies it’s no wonder they saw the opportunity to come up with a product of their own to rival the competition. Ascend products are all protein based, meaning that they’re the obvious choice post-exercise. We are all aware of the
abundance of protein products available and we know that taking protein post-exercise is beneficial to recovery, nothing new there, but what’s different about Ascend and proven in clinical trials is that optimum recovery can be achieved within 24hrs when using Ascend Recovery. Pretty impressive results, add to that the credibility of being tested here in Australia by recognised sports physiologists and biochemists at Deakin University and University of South Australia, and you’ve got a pretty competitive looking product. Recovery bars The Recovery bars are roughly two thirds carbohydrate and one third protein. Although they are encouraged to be taken during exercise, in my opinion there are more suitable bars that will offer more energy and offer a faster delivery to the working muscles during activity. However, there certainly is enough carbohydrate to fuel an easy to moderate ride without depleting the glycogen stores. I found that, similar to the Recovery powder, the bars are a great choice while spinning out after a hard session. The bars do get soft in the heat, but they don’t turn to a gooey mess as we’ve seen with other brands. The choc-mint fla-
vour of the bars tastes great but they are quite chewy, your jaw will know about it if you try to down one quickly. All in all these bars are a great for post-ride (or race) muscle fuelling. They’re convenient, full of the right sort of recovery ingredients, and no doubt help to give the muscles what they want following a tough day on the bike. Recovery powder The Recovery powder comes in two flavours: vanilla and chocolate. I found the chocolate powder a lot easier to take than the vanilla. I have to admit though; it did take some getting use to. Initially the taste wasn’t pleasant at all but after several weeks of using it regularly I came to quite enjoy it. It can be very refreshing if you don’t make it too concentrated and it’s extra-tasty mixed with cold milk. Other protein powders require up to 70 grams of powder per serve, but Ascend recommends 25 grams which is hardly noticeable wrapped in a sealable glad bag in a jersey pocket. Ascend recommend taking it immediately after training, so adding it to your water bottle while cooling down after some strength efforts is a good option. I chose to only use the powder on very long and intense training days, no more than
est powder on the market but I felt that it delivered noticeable benefits.
3-4 days a week. If I took the powder more than that I noticed that it quickly lead to weight gain, this is something that I’m sure is different from person to person. Personally, I tend to put on muscle very easily which is ok in training but not ideal when you want to be light and fit on race day. Because of this I backed off my use of the powder 1-2 weeks out from race day and only used it on the very hard days. The powder comes in a 1kg bottle and following the recommended serve (25 grams) you should expect to get about 40 serves. It certainly isn’t the cheap-
Protein Catalyst capsules The Protein Catalyst capsules are encouraged to be taken with the Recovery powder as a means to increase the effects of the powder. Initially I took two capsules per day and steadily increased to the recommended four per day. I’ve now been taking the capsules for 8 weeks. Of all the Ascend products, these impressed me the most. I’ve been training pretty hard over this period and I was really happy to not to get sick or feel ‘on edge’ once. It’s a big call and perhaps a coincidence but I felt that my recovery was accelerated and I had the confidence to back up on intense training days. The capsules are packed with proteins and immunoglobulins which is basically colostrum (a milky substance produced by cows in the first few days after birth). The capsules work to not only enhance recovery, but also fend off the common cold and flu – valuable for athletes in an intensive training block when the immune system is particularly vulnerable. After further research I discovered that many coaches encourage their
athletes to take colostrum as part of their everyday diet. The supplement has sparked some controversy though as some claim that it’s a performance-enhancing product. Athlete testing has shown that colostrum offers an improvement in both endurance and recovery but until scientists can identify the active ingredient and know how it works it will remain a natural, legal supplement. Final Words It’s worth mentioning that the guys behind these products are all scientists and the technologies used to create the products are purely science derived so you don’t get the feeling you’re being fed a concoction of marketing placebo. They haven’t branched out into areas they have no experience in, like carbohydrates and electrolytes, they’ve kept within their field of expertise and developed a product that they’re passionate about and really believe in. The product is available directly through the company’s website and through Terry White Chemists. www.ascendsport.com.au
Frameskin $40 (full kit – smaller kits start at $5) Enduro test crew
his is an innovative bit of gear designed to keep your bike looking nicer for longer. It uses a thick, clear film that sticks to your bike, much like the clear contact you used to cover your school books with, except thicker. It’s thick and tough enough to fend off stone chips, shoe scuffing and cable rub. Like the contact you used on your school books, you have to take care applying it. You can stick it on either wet or dry but I’d
recommend that you take your time to make sure it sits just right and doesn’t get any unsightly air bubbles. Fitting takes a while but if it’s applied right with a hairdryer to aid in adhesion, it’ll stay there. The kit comes with comprehensive diagrams and instructions for installation. These kits are remarkably comprehensive. Perfectly cut to suit your bike, there are sections for just about every bit of bike frame, forks and cranks. The Frameskin kits
currently come pre-measured and cut for Giant Anthem X and Trance, Cannondale Rush and Rize, Ibis Mojo and Mojo SL and Pivot Mach 4 and 5. You can also get your bike custom fitted if you like – it takes a few days – or you can order dot sheets and generic covers for crank arms, down-tubes, chain-stays and fork legs. firstname.lastname@example.org
ENDURO 11 ENDURO 11
Endura Endura Sports Drink: $34.95
Endura Sports Energy Gels: $2.35 (35g) $34.95 (500ml) Endura Sports Nutrition is an Aussie company owned by Health World, a business specialising in natural medicines. As such, Endura promotes its products as natural, healthy, thoroughly researched sports supplements. With a huge variety of products for pre, during and post exercise, we grabbed two race-day energy supplements and put them to test. Enduro Test Crew
Endura Sports Drink The key difference between Endura and other sports drinks is Endura’s use of magnesium. Magnesium is something the company believes in whole-heartedly as a means to maintain muscle function and energy production. Included in their drink is their Meta Mag, an easily digestible form of magnesium. Importantly, and as with other sports drinks on the market, Endura also includes potassium and sodium to counter the loss of minerals and electrolytes in sweat. This drink tastes good. In Lemon Lime it’s easy to drink and doesn’t have too strong a flavour. The packaging recommends 1 scoop per 200ml but this is for a one-off dose. If mixed to this ratio for a standard 750ml bottle you’ll probably find it too strong, especially after a few bottles. For competition-use, Endura recommends two scoops for a 750ml bottle. This gives a light flavour that isn’t too strong or tough on the stomach. I used the Endura at a cross country race in over 30 degree heat for over two hours. In these conditions the Endura
performed well. I didn’t cramp and maintained decent energy levels considering the conditions. This shows that the ingredients in the drink certainly work, if I’d been relying on water alone I’d probably still be out there! Whether the inclusion of the Meta Mag magnesium made any difference it’s impossible to say, but the drink performed well. Even when mixed at the weaker ratio, you don’t get a whole lot out of a container. After a weekend of racing don’t be surprised to have already used over half, making it a bit on the pricey side. The scoop is well-shaped though, allowing mess-free bottle filling, unlike some competitors. This drink combines a subtle flavour with all the right ingredients to keep you on the trails. It’s expensive, but if you like the flavour and feel it works for you, it’s better than being off the bike when you’d rather be on it! Endura Sports Energy Gels These have fast-impact carbs and a bit of caffeine for instant energy, plus slowrelease carbs to keep you going longer. The
gels come in Vanilla and Citrus flavours and offer 26 grams of carbs per 35 gram serve. They’re available in 35g serve or a 500ml bottle for those who can’t get enough of the liquid diet. We tested the Sports Energy Gels in the Citrus flavour. If you’re used to a thicker gel, these go down very quickly. They have a watery consistency and you have to be careful when you crack the sachet that you don’t lose half of it. They are quite a concentrated, strong flavour and it helps if you wash them down with a bit of water. They have a small amount of caffeine (less than 10mg) that is more a token gesture that anything else; unless you’re a complete stranger to caffeine, it’ll be hard to notice. These gels offer similar levels of energy to competitors and, in a small sachet, are a great option to include in your jersey pocket for when things get tough. Being such a strong flavour, I wouldn’t recommend too many at one race, but as a complimentary energy supplement to keep you going, they work well. www.endura.com.au
Nokian Tyres Nokian Gazza NBX Lite 2.2 UST: $94.95 Nokian are a Finnish tyre company who pride themselves on their noncarcinogenic, environmentally friendly manufacturing process. Thanks to importer Tredleyworx, they’re now available for purchase in Australia. Enduro Test Crew
his is a lightweight tubeless tyre with subtle, evenly spaced knobs. They’re marketed as a UST tubeless tyre but they proved difficult to get air into. Even with plenty of liquid latex in the tyre and the use of an air compressor, it took about 20 minutes to get them to bead. They lost almost all their air overnight too. After a good ride the next day, and thorough dispersion of the liquid latex, they held solid though and since then lose about 10psi in a week – not too bad for a tubeless tyre. I wouldn’t rate
your chances without liquid latex though. The tyres offer decent grip and good durability. Having raced them in a variety of conditions (except mud – blame the drought) I’ve found them to hook up well on the front and provide decent grip on the rear. Once inflated, they’re also pretty tough. I’ve hit plenty of rocks hard with these tyres and still haven’t managed to puncture them. Also, they are made with a tough and durable compound, meaning they aren’t the stickiest tyre out there, but they offer great longev-
ity. Good news considering the price. They are on the skinny side for a 2.2inch tyre, but the larger bag offers a comfortable and stable ride while still being lean enough to roll well. If you regularly ride in thick dust I wouldn’t recommend these tyres as they lack the aggression to really hook in, but as a versatile, do-it-all, comfortable tyre that’s also pretty durable, the NBX Lite is a good option. www.tredleyworx.com.au
ODI Ruffian Limited Edition Pearl White: $49 Words by Nic Eccles
ODI is celebrating 10 years in the grip market and, to make a bit of a party out of it, is offering a range of limited edition grips. We tested the Ruffian in white.
his is a popular grip because of its no-slip characteristics and durability. In white, I was initially a bit cautious of taking them out into the dust, but they’ve held their colour (or, technically, their lack of colour) well and still look stunning after many a dusty day out. These grips are on the thinner side, something I really like for a sense of immediacy and control of the bars, and a feature that I’m sure would be welcomed by those
with smaller hands. The grips have comfortable pyramid style padding but they aren’t the softest out there and I’d recommend accompanying them with padded gloves. All up, they’re a solid grip that won’t slip around or let you down. If you’ve been deliberating over getting a set, I reckon now’s the time to pounce given these limited edition offerings. www.dirtworks.com.au
with Claire Whiteman
The mountain bike industry is full of passionate people â€“ from bike shops to company founders. Claire is a great example. She got into riding about seven years ago and has since built her life around the sport; working in a bike shop by day and training and travelling to local and international events around that. With a recent Downhill (DH) National Championship win along the way, we caught her between customer warranty enquiries to ask a few questions.
Opposite page: Claire hanging with the Canberra On Ya Bike crew at Mt Buller. Photo: Jo Frew This page: Claire gets some big air on her way to her win at Nationals. Photo: Russ Baker
interview by James Williamson
What got you into mountain biking? I was living as a ski-bum in Whistler, Canada in ‘02. Everyone over there trades their skis/boards for bikes over the summer. So I joined them! Did you always want to work in the industry? I didn’t even really know there was such a thing as mountain biking before 2002, or that it was even a sport back in Australia let alone Canberra. So when I was offered a job at the local bike shop I was very nervous. I knew absolutely nothing about bikes... or how to talk to people wearing tight and bright Lycra with a straight face! What do you think is unique about the industry? There are bikes out there to suit everyone from a $50 second handy from a garage sale to the $10,000 boutique MTB with all the bling bits. The people in the mountain bike community are really friendly, even in the racing scene it is all very social. There are so many aspects to mountain biking too: DH, XC, freeriding, dirt jumping, street, weekend warriors, endurance racing, which brings a lot of different types of people together on, generally, 26” wheels. What do you love/hate about it? I love getting new people into the sport. I love selling somebody their dream bike. I love people’s “new bike fever”. I love fixing up someone’s old bike so that it feels like new
again. I love it when boxes of new products come in, especially high end parts and bikes – it’s like Christmas every week! I hate it when things go wrong, something doesn’t turn up on time, warranties, the way pricing on some products is controlled by the US dollar. I hate it when people think I don’t know anything and ask to speak to ‘one of the boys’. There are some very trying people out there. There are different types of shoppers and once you figure out what type you are dealing with you can cater for their needs. I sometimes think that people should have to work in retail before they are allowed to shop! Do you ever get sick of bikes? You would think so, but I don’t really. In the shop I am constantly talking to people who are just starting out and it reminds me of what I was like then, excited and very uncoordinated! When customers are excited about riding it gets me excited too so it’s motivating. What dreams do you have for riding and your career? I just accomplished one more dream and that was to be DH National Champ so now my dreams are to race well for Australia at the World Champs in my home town, Canberra, later this year. As for work I just want to continue being happy in my job. I live by my cousin Emma’s philosophy, “if you don’t like your job, get a new one!”
2004 XC GOLD MEDAL AT ATHENS OLYMPIC GAMES 2002-2004-2005-2006 XC WORLD CHAMPION 2004-2005-2006 MARATHON WORLD CHAMPION 2002-2003-2004-2005 XC EUROPEAN CHAMPION 2006 MARATHON EUROPEAN CHAMPION TEAM MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM
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Sketch// Niki Fisher
hat do you do when a mountain bike magazine editor calls you up out of the blue and asks you to write a column for a magazine you hold in high regard? For myself, that is an easy question to answer, I did what I always do when I find myself in a situation that cannot be easily explained. I went for a ride. Living as I now do at the bottom of the Adelaide Hills, any ride on dirt from my front door requires a stint of solid climbing, not particularly fun on a one-speed, so I was sweating hard and in something of a funk for a good while. Why me? At first glance I have little to offer a magazine such as this. I am not particularly fast on two wheels and I have little to show in the way of success for my years attempting endurance mountain bike events. I don’t ride one of those plushy sofas-on-wheels with all the confusing gears and I can’t talk the techo talk, much less walk the weight weenie walk. Nearing the top of that hill I spent far too many minutes searching for the source of a rubbing noise coming from the front brake and what would have been a 30 second piece of simple bush mechanics for anyone else took me, well let’s just say a lot longer than that. I am no mechanic, that’s why I ride a one speed. At that point I realised I was not going to be able to fill the pages of this well regarded magazine with sugar coated reviews of bike bits and detailed explanations as to why they do what they do. I was beginning to despair at having anything to write at all. The good part about pushing a long climb at the beginning of a ride is the masses of sweet, free flowing single track in front of you once you make it to the top. All you can do is point the front wheel in a downward direction and hold on tight. I must confess
Steve Partridge//Man’o Wheel In his first column for Enduro, Steve Partridge reflects on the addictive and mind-freeing fun of mountain biking
that after I reached the top of that hill I forgot about my dilemma for a while. I simply rode. I whooped. Occasionally I hollered. I sang out loud, got a bit of air, busted some sweetly bermed turns, took a few of the tight ones too fast, narrowly missed several trees and generally had a lot of fun. Therein lies the number one man ‘o wheel method for clearing the fug from the mind. It is now obvious to me that this magazine is essentially about riding. It is about getting on your bike, pedalling the cranks (preferably for a really long distance) and enjoying it. Maybe your good editor was on to something that took me far too long to figure out. I ride. Riding is something that becomes a part of you, the more you do it; the more it simply becomes a natural extension of your life. I kind of fell into the riding lifestyle when I picked up what I thought was a temporary job as a bike messenger to save a little cash for the next overseas journey I was planning many years ago. Learning to ride a bike in Sydney traffic is a something of an entertaining yarn in itself, but one for another day. Suffice to say that somehow I managed to survive the early misadventures of the Sydney streets, and slowly I came to the realisation I had stumbled upon a particularly exciting way to make a few bucks. I was hooked. I suspect like many people out there, riding a bike very quickly became the main focus in my life; it is strange how two wheels and a bit of steel has the ability to do that. That which began as a way to earn a little cash very quickly developed into a deep and sustained passion that has survived to this day. Most of my friends are now biking folk, I met the love of my life riding a bike, my holidays were quickly consumed by extended
cycle touring exploits and inevitably I made the leap into the enduro race scene. Racing mountain bikes is a funny old game. Pushing oneself to the physical limits your body can handle, seemingly a prerequisite for most of the dirt warriors I see out there, just doesn’t seem like a very intelligent thing to do. I dove into the 24 hour solo format mostly because it was the only race that went at a slow enough pace for me to be able to keep up. I am currently training for my eighth solo attempt and yet I still cannot tell you why I do it. Hanging out with your riding buddies, riding new trails, the cold beer at the end of the race, all of these are good (Ok, the beer is very good), but none of it really explains why we put ourselves through masses of pain for such little reward. There is a point in every race I have ever undertaken where I have wondered what on earth I am doing there. Sometimes that feeling lasts for 22 hours. Then you get to that sense of satisfaction you feel when you make it to the point where you know you are going to finish, well that is maybe what it is all about. There is no amount of money in the world that can buy that feeling. I love riding my bikes. It is as simple as that. I look forward to sharing with you over the forthcoming editions, my take on the racing gig in Australia, one or two touring adventures I have in the pipeline and just chewing the fat about bikes, trails and those who ride them. That is what this column will be about. If it is weight weenie chat and techo talk about gear ratios and the like you are after, then perhaps you better skip this page. See you on the trails, or maybe for a coldie after – Steve
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Sketch// Niki Fisher
he first time I rode at Mt Stromlo in Canberra, the trails had a different feel to anything I had ridden before. The corners up the top were tight and steep and I found it really hard to ride them fast and smooth. I concentrated on learning how to get my wheels around them without loosing every inch of speed and momentum and I slowly improved, but plateaued somewhere. I was still getting dropped by my mates and I wasn’t feeling a whole lot of flow. It was time to go back to the drawing board. I wanted to improve around corners, along bumps, over ruts, on berms, and anywhere you could take an extra opportunity to pedal. I decided to keep this in the front of my mind rather than slipping into that comfort zone we all know too well. During this time I went on a month-long biking trip around New Zealand. The trails were, once again, different to anything I had ever ridden. There was more pinchy climbing, nicely carved out berms, and smooth flowing corners which were free from a layer of loose Aussie dirt and dust. During the trip, I rode new tracks again and again and again. Most of them had a stand out feature that I really wanted to be able to master to keep up with the person in front of me. Rotorua had the smooth, bermed corners. Napier had trails with edges that fell away down the side of the mountain. Wellington had trails that went steep and
Kath Bicknell// Trail tales Kath Bicknell talks about riding new trails, having a blast, then coming home and finding new ways to ride old tracks.
tight with almost no warning, forcing you to rely on instinct and the rhythm of the trail to arrive safely on the other side. Nelson was loose and tech and too steep to walk down which meant lots of riding with the brakes nearly locked, never knowing when things would flatten out. The trails I rode in Christchurch had been ridden so much that big rocks jutted out all along the trail, not the kind you can easily roll over, the kind that spit you off in all kinds of directions if you hit them the wrong way. It was so bumpy I remember prising my hands off the bars at the end of a section of track from extreme arm pump – although I’m sure my sticky forks and chicken arms had something to do with it too. I arrived back in Canberra after four weeks of mountain biking almost every single day. I unpacked my bike, built it back up again and changed the tyres to something more dust friendly. After Google-ing what time the sun was about to set, I headed straight out to Stromlo for the 45 minutes I had left to ride. I attacked the trails with a different sense of aggression, purpose, excitement and strength. I was picking smooth lines and my legs were responding to the challenges. I was out of the saddle and punching my way up sections of track I had struggled with in the past. On the way back down I was smoother, faster, more confident and even more excited. The rocks in Christchurch had
taught me it’s not worth going around them when you can have so much more fun riding over them. The track edges in Napier had reminded me that speed is my friend and that as long as I’m looking and thinking about where I want my wheels to go, chances are that’s where they’ll go. Nelson had taught me to loosen up, and that steep trails at home are nothing compared to others I can ride. Rotorua taught me about corners, the adrenalin of well crafted trails and the addictiveness of a community that loves riding. All these lessons I’d heard before, but my point is that something had clicked, and it had clicked by trying something different. With all the events and hype surrounding Stromlo Forest Park, it’s become a cool place to get an instant reality check on your skills. Replace Stromlo with any favourite riding spot and you’ll get the point I’m trying to make. It isn’t about one particular place, it’s about trails anywhere that make you excited and feel good to come back to. It’s about why we choose mountain biking with its twists and turns, and how conquering one challenge opens up about sixteen more. It’s about those fleeting times when you’re firmly in the zone. It’s about when you’re feeling full of confidence and wondering how much faster you can go. Maybe what I like most is the hope of finding out – Kath
As our sport grows, so does everything around it: trails, technology and, more recently, skills clinics. They started out as a relaxed day held by local clubs with experienced riders passing on skills to new-comers, but have since developed into highlyorganized and paid for tuition that we are seeing around today. In this column, we take an inside look at two popular female-specific clinics in Sydney and Melbourne. Words by James Williamson and Kath Bicknell
Melbourne – MTBSkills.com.au MTBSkills started out with a trial day at the start of 2008 and, over 350 students later, it’s never looked back. According to founder Norm Douglas “While riding and racing the local enduro events we saw that a lot of riders were relatively fit, but they lacked the skills to match.” Along with wife Jessica, they started the clinics to fill this gap. While the company offers a broad range of skills days, their most popular are the women’s-specific skills days. Not only have they helped women make it around a course
with not too much trouble, but they’ve coached riders to 24hr victory with former student Jac Connell going on to win the Kona 24hr solo in 2008; impressive considering she only picked up a mountain bike less than 12 months previously. The clinics are coached by Norm and Jess Douglas, along with their two other instructors Adam Kelsall, and Liz Mulconry. The focus of the skills days is on technique rather than speed. According to Norm, “many new-comers to mountain biking can quickly get frustrated because a number of the techniques they require simply don’t come naturally. Right from the start we explain to
our riders that in order to develop skill they need the right technique, without the right technique all they develop is bruises.” Once the riders have the correct basic technique in place, they can then go and put them to use on the trails. A typical session goes for about 6 hours, with participants breaking up into groups of varying confidence levels. Student/instructor ratios are generally 1:5 which allows for a very informal and comfortable approach to learning new skills. Norm is happy with the popularity of the days. “We run women’s-specific courses predominantly at Lysterfield. We have other
MTBSkills participants smiling and ready Photo: Norm Douglas
Sydney – Manly Warringah Mountain Bike Club (MWMTB)
Riders at the Manly Waringah clinic have a break between sessions. Photo: Joe Ward
days at the You Yangs and Forrest, in the Otway ranges in Victoria. We also run our popular multi-day Skills Camps three times a year at Anglesea. So far in 2009 all of our published dates have sold out well before the cut off date. Each session generally accommodates 20 participants.” According to recent participant Laura Brown from Melbourne “The clinic was run with passion and dedication and tailored brilliantly to our skill level. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the sport. I swapped email addresses with other girls on the day and we’ve started mountain biking on a Saturday. We were never made to feel stupid, although we knew we were hopeless. It was a great day” All the instructors have coaching qualifications and first aid training. www.mtbskills.com.au
MWMTB Women’s Skills Days were recently resurrected in response to demand from local riders interested in competing in team-24hr events. Organisers Zoe King, Fiona Dick and Rob Parbery saw it as “an opportunity to help club members at a good price.” It’s also benefited the club by attracting new members to join. Like the MTBSkills clinics, these sessions run for about 6 hours and have a low coach-to-participant ratio. The clinics are aimed at novice to intermediate riders and aim to build the participant’s confidence and bike handling skills through a series of fun drills followed by a short trail ride in the afternoon. The better your skills, the more energy you can save out on the trail which makes a big difference on any ride – especially an enduro! Most girls weren’t there to necessarily ride blindingly fast, but to gain more confidence on the trails. By starting with skills like racheting (tiny back and forward movements on the pedals), and lifting the front wheel over tricky obstacles, women learned how to take control and approach sections slowly but with confidence. Holding speed and tackling new sections of trail came as a happy and welcome side effect. According to Fiona, “mountain biking is becoming more popular to women. Because the sport is so male dominated though, they can often only ride with guys who are fitter, stronger and more experienced.” One of the stand-out lessons from the January session was that, unlike most guys, women don’t seem to pick up skills by just playing on their bikes. Like it or not, they’re far more likely to stand around and chat. Everyone’s skills improved at the clinic due to simple, clear instructions that built on each new skill. By simply encouraging everyone to spend some time riding around and giving each new skill a go, the girls quickly gained confidence. Improvement came complete with big cheers echoing around the playground each time someone nailed something really cool! For Fiona, the buzz of the day comes from “seeing people pushing their boundaries, and the absolute elation when they do something they didn’t think they could do.” The clinic saw riders come from as far as Lithgow and Jindabyne to join in the fun. As a club run gig, rather than a commercial endeavour, these days are professionally run on volunteer time. The recent January clinic was led by the experienced team of Fiona Dick, Zoe King and Kath Bicknell on the coaching front. MWMTB Club President Rob Parbery and Media Officer Joe Ward also helped out with the organisation and running of the day and King of the Mountain Cyclery’s Warren Burgess provided highly appreciated mechanical support. The clinics cost around $15 for MWMTB members or $30 for members of other clubs. MWMTB also offer discounted memberships to the club as part of the clinic rego process. There are plans to hold two sessions a year with the next one happening around June. www.mwmtb.com
ENDURO 11 100
with the Fenz
Mark Fenner is a fit bloke. Founder of FTP Training, he also finished 3rd at the World Solo 24hr Champs in ’08. Here he responds to readers’ queries regarding training for endurance racing.
Question from Peter: //Can I mix the training up with mountain biking and road riding - or should I be striving to do as much on the MTB as possible? Answer: //Hi Peter, thanks for the great question and one that I am sure a lot of riders think about with regards to their training. Firstly as I pointed out in the first series of training articles in Enduro, specificity of exercise is vitally important to a successful training program. With this in mind it is very important to spend some specific time on the mountain bike when training so that the body is used to the unique physiological demands and often slightly different cycling position on the mountain bike. When riding the mountain bike, however, it is important to factor in that there is usually greater variability in cadence and power required during the usual mountain bike ride when compared to a often more structured and controllable road ride. This increase in intensity and variability can lead to greater training stress and therefore it is harder to do as much volume on the mountain bike compared to the road bike. When analysing power meter files from road and mountain bike events some major differences appear and these need to be addressed with specific sessions to train the body for the demands of the specific event. As a general rule I would normally get my riders who are
competing in mountain bike events to do two specific mountain bike rides per week in training. This would be further broken down to include one skills session/interval based ride and a longer endurance ride that could be increased up to 4 – 6 hours in length at the end of the base/build phase especially if the target race is an enduro-type event. I hope this helps and remember that if you can’t find the motivation to get out on the skinny tired machine then stick to the dirt, just factor in more rest to your program. Question from Paul: //You mentioned power meters – I have one on my indoor stationary trainer (Cyclops PT300) but what do you recommend for use on a real bike? Answer: //Hi Paul, There are now a few great power meters on the market and with the new Quark power meter being released it’s all smiles for the cyclist wishing to take their cycling further and quantify their training for the first time. I have outlined some plus and minus points of the various systems on the market below. The options are: SRM, Powertap, Ergomo, Ibike, Polar, and now Quark. SRM – these are the gold standard, especially if you already own lots of wheels. The SRM is the original power meter and
measures power using strain gauges in the crank. It’s reliable, accurate and now has the wireless ANT+ option which allows the use of a Garmin 705 GPS head unit. The only problem is it’s also expensive. Powertap 2.4 – it’s wireless and easy to use. It offers accurate data similar to the SRM (within 2%) and you could get two units built up into training and racing wheels for nearly the same cost as the SRM. Power is measured in the wheel hub as opposed to the crank in the SRM, thus the power measurement is slightly lower due to losses through the drive-chain. It’s now available with wireless ANT+ option which allows the use of a Garmin 705 GPS head unit. This system is less expensive than the SRM. However, you potentially need a race and training set because it is built into the rear wheel rather than the crank as with the SRM. Ergomo – this system is built into the bottom bracket and hence is not compatible with the new external-style bottom bracket. Its relatively affordable but isn’t as reliable or accurate as the SRM system, plus it’s very tricky to install. Ibike – This system relies on a new power predictor that uses maths, wind speed gauges and road slope to predict power. These systems are getting better, but are really for road use only. They’re a good cheaper option if you usually train alone on the road.
Polar – this measures power via changes in chain tension. It can be tricky to install and doesn’t respond well to dynamic changes in power. This coupled with muddy chains might not make it the best choice for mountain bikes! Quark – this is a new crank based system and is looking very good as a unit similar to the SRM, reports have been very good so far. Expect to see these units on the professional road racing Cervelo Test Team this year. I use both the SRM’s on the road bike and Powertap 2.4 on the mountain bike and they are both great and have been very reliable. I hope this information helps you make an informed decision on which unit to use, in the end each system has its positives and negatives; it will come down to what fits best with the individual. Question from John: //After reading your great article in the latest Enduro mag I have a couple of questions. I live in Dorrigo NSW, it’s hilly and great for mountain biking but it’s
either up or down. For example on my standard road ride there are basically no flat areas, and on my local mountain bike tracks it’s the same. So the question relates to your sessions on page 111 of the mag: I find it hard to keep at a steady cadence and heart rate. And if I do I’m either in a low (easy) gear and pedalling at 90-120 cadence uphill or the same but in high gear downhill. Also, can the same training apply to mountain bike cross country type riding as this is what I mainly do? Any advice would be great. Answer: //Hi John. This always creates a tough dilemma when setting up a training program as it’s very hard to avoid continually delving into our anaerobic energy systems. This then makes each ride harder to recover from and leaves us little room to add that little bit extra to bring on a peak in form. When looking at a specific training session that has, for instance, a set amount of time at say 80% max heart rate, look to try and average out the intensity to match
this, or try to find a climb or gradual incline/ headwind to do repeated efforts on to get the desired time in the specific zone for the session. For example: 4 x 12 minute repeats or 5 x 8 minutes efforts. Most sub threshold/threshold aerobic efforts need to be done for over 10 minutes to really get the best out of them, however, if an 8 – 10 minute climb is all you have then it will do. Again look to average out the intensity and back off or increase effort where needed. This training can and should be used for cross country racing as well. I would however increase the VO2 sessions in a specific block to replicate racing in the final build/peak race phase. The basic premise of building a strong aerobic foundation is the same regardless of duration. Cheers and glad you are enjoying the series. Pssst, got a question? Mark holds a Sports Science degree Bsc Hons, and is happy to answer any of your training questions, a select few will be published in the next issue of Enduro. Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
ENDURO 11 102
Riders pass by some tempting snacks at the Absa Cape Epic. Photo: Sven Martin/Absa Cape Epic
Stage Race Nutrition Stage races in Australia have been breeding like rabbits fresh off the First Fleet. With overseas glamour events like the Cape Epic and TransRockies to hype up the format, this year has seen a huge boom in their popularity. With so many around, chances are you’re considering racing one. Liam Delany gives us some tips on surviving one of these epic adventures. Words by Liam Delany
Stepping up to the challenge of a multi-day stage race from the single day race format can be tough on the body. We all know this from trying the ‘recovery ride’ the day after a race. It’s not all bad news though, through smart eating and some nutritional supplementation you’ll find it easier to recover and you’ll be back on the bike and feeling strong for the day ahead. Pre-race preparation Treat the pre-race preparation for a multi-day event the same as you would for a single-day race. The body doesn’t like surprises so keep it simple and ensure you’ve had a good dose of carbohydrates, proteins and fluids. The difference with multi-day race preparation is organisation and planning. It’s a good idea to set up a menu or list for each day to ensure you have all the food, fluids and supplements you need for the entire race, with a little more for emergencies. Some people like to eat the same things each day, but I’m sure they get bored, so
try mixing it up a little for variety’s sake. It’s important that you look forward to eating and drinking because it will keep your nutrition and hydration at optimal levels. If you fall behind in your nutrition or hydration (or both) you run the risk of performing below your ability – and losing out on the enjoyment factor too! During the race This is almost the same as eating during a single day race, but be aware that in a stage race, you are more likely to bonk in the early part of any day after the first. This is because, even if you have done nearly everything right, you are less likely to have recovered from the previous day. You’ll usually know this because you’ll feel heavy in the legs, but sometimes it can just sneak up on you – you might be feeling great early in the race and then just ‘blow-up’ an hour or two in. To avoid this you should be sure to keep yourself topped up between stages. Also, if you normally eat and drink very little in your first hour or two, you should eat and drink
Fueling up between stages is crucial to having a good day. Photo: Sven Martin/Absa Cape Epic
earlier than usual to keep on top of it. Your body will need more as the race progresses and you burn through your reserves. It helps to establish a strong schedule to stick to during the stages, e.g. every 15-30 minutes for drinking and 30-60 minutes for eating. If the format is new to you, it might even be an idea to set an alarm on your watch or tape an eating/drinking schedule to your stem to make sure you don’t let the excitement get in the way of proper fuelling of the body. Remember that it’s not just about getting through the day’s stage, but the following days as well. Remind yourself that you are eating and drinking for the whole stage race, not just that day and the better you look after yourself each stage, the easier it will be to recover and go again the next day. Getting
behind in your nutrition and hydration whilst racing means your body will require more time to recover; but the race won’t wait for you to recover. That’s the key to multi-day racing: recovering well and getting stronger as the race progresses. In this regard, good planning is just as important as fitness and ability – the fittest guy out there will lose out with poor planning. This makes your nutrition and hydration plan during a multi-day race even more important than the single-day races. Between stages This is your chance to do everything possible to recover in time for the start of the next stage. It is also the time when you should have the least number of distractions
and can concentrate on your recovery. Drink water regularly and include some electrolyte drinks to replenish the salts. Water with a little lemon juice is also a good option as it’s absorbed more quickly than water alone and stimulates the gastric juices so you can start eating sooner (useful if you’ve lost your appetite). Also, have regular snacks that include both carbohydrates and proteins. Fruit is great as it’s easily digestible and is full of carbohydrates and fluid, it also offers a refreshing taste after the sweet, manufactured taste of energy gels and bars. Stick to low fibre foods for ease of digestion, and if you are unfortunate enough to have the runs, increase the fibre. Your evening meal is very important. You should have plenty of vegies accompa-
ENDURO 11 104
US Trek rider Jeremiah Bishop knows all about the importance of hydrating during stage races. Photo: Sven Martin/Absa Cape Epic
There are heaps of products out there that can improve your performance. I strongly recommend you seek professional advice on what’s worthwhile and what’s right for you. As a guideline I have recommended the obvious ones:
nied with a form of carbohydrate like basmati rice, cous cous or pasta (the gluten free/spelt pastas are lighter which can help the digestion). You should also include some protein like tofu or a small amount of either meat, beans, nuts or chick peas. Don’t over eat and try to eat early so it’s digested before you go to bed. Late dinners will lead to poor digestion, poor sleep and hence slow recovery: a big mistake in multiday racing. The importance of the planning process So now you know the importance or nutrition and hydration for a fast recovery in multi-day events, you can adapt it to other races and training as well. Sticking to a plan can get you back into full training after a single-day race or can help you recover from hard training sessions. Remember that there is no right and wrong, and that you can always do things better. Don’t get stuck in your ways, analyse your performance and recovery and try to improve it through your nutrition and hydration. If you have any questions related to this article or other health and fitness questions feel free to contact Liam Delany at Vigor Health & Fitness: email@example.com
Vitamin B Complex – take one each morning (not at night it’s too stimulating – a tip for you 24hr enduro riders!). Quality is important for this product; you can do better than a Berocca. Magnesium powder - there are few good products out there that will have a few other goodies like glutamine and taurine to aid recovery. Lack of magnesium in the body is the most common cause of cramping behind dehydration and fatigue. A word of warning: don’t overdose or you’ll be on the toilet more than you want. Have a teaspoon in water morning and night. Vitamin C powder – it is worth taking it for its anti-oxidant role and to boost the immune system while you punish your body’s defences day after day. Have a teaspoon in water morning and night. If you feel ordinary, have another dose after the day’s ride. Recovery/protein powders – these are convenient formulations that help you recover faster. There are a few great products out there, and a lot of not so great products. Again, talk to a health practitioner to ensure you get the right one for you. On some multi-day races you will have access to a power outlet for your blender to make smoothies – definitely take the blender, it’s worth it!
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In the past, before Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and other off road cycling pioneers had begun to develop the best sport in the world, the Coffs Harbour region was better known as a great place to take a holiday on the beach and visit the Big Banana. In recent times though, some very dedicated locals have changed ‘the Coffs’ culture from waxhead to weekend mountain bike warrior. The outcome has been that a network of awesome trails has sprung up where the locals now practice their religion.
Words and photos by Evan Jeffery
Initially the local mountain biking community started out as a small group of individuals who wanted to encourage the local kids to exercise and be involved in a healthy lifestyle. Now the kids continue to be involved, to improve and are beginning to embarrass some of the ‘more seasoned’ riders. But it’s not all about the kids – along with the many testosterone-filled males is a growing group of female riders enjoying the challenges of mountain biking. Mountain bikers have benefited from the decades of forestry operations and the previously unchecked use of motor bikes in the 70’s and 80’s. This sort of random trail
development created a pretty cool network of trails, but due to its ad hoc approach and the 1.6 meters of rain each year, problems were bound to occur. Decades later our sport has developed and so too have the underlying environmental principles encouraged by MTBA. The end result is great, legal mountain bike trails leading from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the heights of the Great Dividing Range. And those that have ridden the trails of the region have discovered that the geographical conditions around the Mid North Coast of NSW lend themselves to some of the most challenging and enjoyable
trails in the country. Make up your own mind about whether Coffs is blessed or cursed based on its steep and challenging terrain. These changes in altitude and aspect create a unique experience that mountain bikers really benefit from. Trails lead from the dry coastal heaths, through wet forests well known for their exposed, slippery tree roots, enclosed rainforests, and dry open forests on the ridges. All of this is capped off with either a mountain river swim or a relaxing afternoon at the beach. Coffs has everything a mountain biker needs. Trail fairies have worked tirelessly to groom and improve the formerly unman-
From left: Log riding takes skill…and plenty of nerve; The creek-crossings provide some spectacular riding.
aged trails. Three different race courses have been resurrected and are maintained regularly. All of them offer fast, flowing singletrack, open fire trail sections, technical switchbacks (when both climbing and descending), and the occasional log roll (riding along as well as over the log). Regular club racing rotates between each course in a traditional XCO format, or 3 hour enduro. The lap length and amount of climbing is factored in to suit the competitors on the day, but by no means does this remove the fun – it’s just a matter of how fast you can get round the course (and some of the local legends are always up for the challenge!). And for those that love their bikes way too much, there’s the Pleasure and Pain Marathon – 25km of singletrack at Pine Creek that will ensure you don’t get bored, you just get faster! The trails don’t
end there… they go on and on, and up. But with each up is a wicked down, and the views to the hinterland and the ocean are worth every huff’n’puff. The race courses are found north of Coffs at Wedding Bells State Forest, and south at Pine Creek (home of the Coffs Mountain Marathon). These locations are a great place to start your exploring, with hundreds of kilometers of fire trails linked with fun singletrack. Pine Creek is located 15km south of Coffs. Take the Pine Creek Way exit off the Pacific Highway, head south 5km and turn onto Glenifer Road. 3km along Glenifer Road is Adams Saw Mill – park opposite and prepare yourself for a great ride. Wedding Bells State Forest is a large tract of crown land that has many trails linking different sections of the forest. The race
course is located 11km north of Coffs. Turn off the Pacific Highway onto Bucca Road (power station on the corner), and travel 300m. Park off the main road, opposite the Treatment Plant. As with Pine Creek, this area is riddled with fire trails and singletrack. Other trails in Wedding Bells State Forest can be found off Bruxner Park Road (4km north of Coffs). Ride the progressive 3km climb of Bruxner, enjoying the awesome views, then descend through the rainforest for approximately 2km to Swans Trail on the left. Swans Trail is signposted for a return ride to Coffs. If you’re thinking of making the trip to Coffs to ride any of the trails, it would be best if you first got some guidance from one of the bike shops in town, as there is no real marking of trails. This lack of marking might mean that you may miss the best the region
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has to offer. Alternatively, you can contact the mountain bike guys from the club – they’re always up for a ride, and won’t let you leave until you’re smiling deliriously. In 2009 the mountain bike club will be putting a new spin on the traditional Marathon format. The Pleasure and Pain Marathon is to be held on August 9th 2009 and will provide options of 25km, 50km or 100km. The aim is to cater for all levels of fitness. The 25km laps will be contained within the cool singletrack of Pine Creek, and riders will pass through transition every 25km before heading back out for more pleasure and pain. There will be no huge bergs to tackle, and all support (be it physical or emotional) will be waiting for you at transition.
The event has been simplified to maximise the pleasure and minimise the pain. This shift in focus has been driven by feedback from riders who have attended the previous marathons. So the Coffs mountain bikers hope all who attended the last marathon and others thinking of giving the Pleasure and Pain a go, will make the journey to experience what Coffs has to offer. Why not plan a northern NSW holiday around the event to break up a weary winter?
more info: local club at//
www.coffsharbourcycleclub.org.au local trail guide business//
Pleasure and Pain If you’re looking to shake off some of that winter laziness, Coffs Harbour is hosting the ‘Pleasure and Pain’ mountain bike event on the 9th of August. The event will offer three course options: 100km, 50km and 25km, and will include the great singletrack featured in this article, not too many gut-busting climbs and a $3500 prize pool. The streams have a magical mirror finish when they’re not flooded
More info: www.coffsharbourcycleclub.org.au
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Enduro #11 is chocked full of Enduro goodness, including coverage from : la Ruta, Simpson Desert Challenge, Urban Polaris, Ride-Canary Islan...
Published on Oct 13, 2009
Enduro #11 is chocked full of Enduro goodness, including coverage from : la Ruta, Simpson Desert Challenge, Urban Polaris, Ride-Canary Islan...