Monday, 20 December 2010


This cold snap has produced some lively conditions out on the roads, the mix of snow and ice makes getting about a load more interesting than usual. I recently chucked some cyclocross tyres on the Rat. These things have been absolutely fantastic now that things have got slippery. In the snow and ice I feel as in control as on the mountainbike but with none of the excess drag. The Rat sporting these cyclocross rubbers has been perfect for flying around the city whilst everyone else is stuck inside or sliding around in their cars. I have to say that I have been enjoying it so much I keep taking the long route to work and avoiding the gritters to find the fresh snow and more challenging descents and climbs. Here are some early morning pics from the top of the hill, even the bay has had a splattering of snow!




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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Bfe: Extra Small and Extra Gritstone

Cy has made a bold move with a near invisible graphic scheme on the new gritstone BFe and it looks seriously sharp. The wrap matches the frame the logos are done in reflective vinyl which by normal light arent visible but ride past a strong light or get a flash on it and the graphics really pop. A cool effect that I reckon would make for some interesting pictures under the artificial lights in a skate park. Incidentally this is where this frame wants you to take it. The reduction in length makes it super chuckable and dead manageable on the back wheel, Pete more or less manualed the first straight of the pumptrack first try and he had only been on the bike an hour. The new stealth graphics will be grabbing some attention for sure, they have a really intriguing appeal. The look reminds me of a subtle version of Pashley's matt black frames from back in the day. Anyway enough of me rabbling here are some pics.


No Flash




Pete getting his slide on!

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Snow Lines

Stunning weather, snow, bikes what more can be said. We hit the hills and had loads of fun sliding around in the white stuff. Jonathon Lloyd was on the camera and did a great job of catching the action to compact flash. Lets hope theres more of this great winter weather to come.















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Friday, 12 November 2010

Wet Welsh Windy Night

Winters here, lights are strapped on ready for some urban night riding. Jonathan brought his camera and flash out and his new proto bike lights. We spent some time smashing into this leafy flower bed corner and playing with lighting options. Here are a few of the results.




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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Autumn Chilling

It has been a bit quiet up on here recently so I though about time for an update. Following the end of the race season and the rapidly closing in evenings I have been making the most of the local riding here in Swansea. This has involved a whole load of the trail centres with a splattering of Kilvey and Clyne on the side. Kilvey is riding really well, there are now 3 full, official DH tracks on the hill. I am really enjoying the new track which is a nice tech affair tracking tightly through the trees at a relatively slow pace making for a decent length overall run. The original trail is still a super fun, rapid run. I sometimes forget what a great bike the BFe is when the trail gets faster and more challenging as I have pretty much spent the whole year on small XC tyres. Sticking some large bouncy rubbers on her and pointing her down a proper DH trail feels beautifully natural, balanced and puts a massive grin on my face.

Clyne is all change at the moment, they have had a decent chunk of funding to link together the network of home built trails and make something more all weather and loopable. Rowan Sorrel and his crew have been involved, Moos trails has had a boost and the old dirt jumps are being rebuilt and targeted towards the beginner rider with some safe tabletop lines. This should see Clyne becoming a top quality local facility right in the heart of Swansea. Unfortunately a slight hiccup in the funding has put some the development on hold temporarily but I understand the project will be kicked off again at the start of the next financial year.

Afan 4X track has seen some action with a University club day both last weekend and one planned for the weekend coming. The club now has an elite 4X rider, Pete Warner and with a local track it seems a few more people are getting inspired to give it a go. Last weekend was good fun, we were playing with race lines. The massive open, rough corners give so many options and open up some decent battles as all lines are compromised. Cut inside get ahead and aim to block or go wide carry speed and dart through on the next straight. I think the track will produce some top class racing. In places it still needs some love but I think with more people getting up there the track will ride itself in.



The RoadRat is getting daily action. It really is a solid, setup and forget bike. I am loving the simplicity, the Alfine hub works a treat and all bar a change of brake pads the bike really has required no attention. I have just equipped it with a set of the Hope dual LED lights with the intent of also using them on the BFe for some night rides. I am still a little uncertain about these lights, I have ridden halogen lights in the past and the spread of the beam made a lot of sense. These seem a little too focused for a sole handlebar mounted light but they are yet to be properly tested out on the trail so I will reserve judgement. Build quality is absolutely top notch and they come in a very nice compact, lightweight unit. Burn time is good and they make a great head torch but I think there are a few niggles that are amplified by the price tag which sets expectations high. Expect more to come on this topic with some head to head tests out in the woods as the winter progresses.

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Monday, 20 September 2010

Chicksands NPS 4X

Apologies for the fantastically late post on this one. Chicksands held the last round of this years NPS 4x the weekend before last. Changes to the track destroyed what used to be a drag race to a multi-stage race. A loose chicane has been added halfway down before the triple producing a whole heap of action at the halfway point. The exit of this section was slow and created a staggered start as we had to get back on the pedals uphill towards the triple whilst everyone was bunched up and pushing for position. The track was very physical to say the least.
Racing wise it did kind of work with moves being made the length of the track but the triple was now out of action and it didnt have the flow of other tracks that we have seen this year. In the senior category there was a bit of a mix up as some of the usual suspects didnt make it past the quarters. Keeny left it to the last round to show he can sometimes ride a bike and me and Mop Heap pushed out a few of the other higher seeded riders. The B-Final was a really good race. By the chicane I was somewhere near the head of the pack but left the door open and got taken out taking 7th for the day. Mop pushed ahead of me which gave him enough points to jump me in the season standings taking 8th place and so I finished the season in 9th overall.
The guy to watch for me was Duncan Ferris who was making some insane moves in the elite category. He was destroying the corners in a flat out do or die manner. The moves didnt stick every time but it was awesome to watch him push it right to and slightly past the limit.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cotic RoadRat - Drop Alfine build



As I am now slowly falling down the slippery transition that is growing up I have come to the point where I need a more sensible everyday bike to do the commuting and keep the fitness up whilst work slyly takes up more of my time. My commute is not massively long but does feature a couple of serious hills, as you may have seen in the Tour of Britain Swansea has a few of those! I wanted something skinny tyred, geared and drop bar but also low maintainance and durable to cope with the stunning welsh weather. The obvious choice for this brief was the RoadRat.


Cy doesnt do the dropbar with a standard geared option. A trawl of the web found the beautifully made barcon shifter by JTEK designed for use with the Alfine hub. The final build is the standard singlespeed dropbar RoadRat with the Jtek shifter and the rear wheel swapped for its Alfine equivalent. The range of gears provided by the Alfine is sufficient for the steep climbs but I will admit the pace is high and there is not an easy cruise gear that you would find on a traditional setup. I dont mind this but I am used to fairly compromised gear setups having only ever run a single front ring on my bikes. The hub itself performs far better than I was expecting. The internet seems full of mixed reviews but I have to say there is no noticable drag and shifts are sharp however they do require easing off the pedals to change. The lever has a really solid action and is very comfortable to use. I love the subtlety and clean look that you get with this setup.



As a commuter this bike fly's. Getting to work is a shed load more exciting and is absolutely flat out down the hill in the morning, it is now a rapid and somewhat brutal way of waking up! The RoadRat handles nicely, the v brakes are so much more effective than standard road brakes which helps raise the confidence when fighting with the traffic. The bike looks really clean and understated which works well to avoid too much attention in the bike sheds. I personally really like the drops as it gives a range of positions for different scenarios whether thats head up amongst other road users or getting the head down for slogging up a hill.

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Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Photo courtesy of Andy Fricker

Rd 4 of the series was down in kent at the pretty impressive Porc venue. This meant fully getting to know the M4 and a bit of a wrestle with the M25, by far the best way to spend a hot saturday afternoon! Porc itself is a woodland set aside for mountain biking. There is a massive log cabin which sits alongside the track and plenty of earth works scattered around catering for Dirt Jumpers downhillers and obviously the 4X riders.

The track itself is an interesting one, it is a blast to ride being absolutely flat out and included some relatively challenging corners at the bottom as the rock hard ground is covered in a soft layer of fine sand making traction pretty sporadic in places. I dont think however it produces brilliant 4X racing. It is too narrow the majority of the way to allow overtaking and very little preparation before the weekend meant only the main line was smooth and completely free from undergrowth. The first corner was in most cases where the race was one or lost. The inside line had the advantage, the entry was over a small jump wide enough for 3 and a half riders and the exit was wide enough for 2 riders abreast. The outside lane allowed you to generate a lot more speed for the exit of the corner but there was no where to use it as the inside line more or less totally blocked off the exit. From there on any overtaking required a pretty bold manoeuvre or a mistake from the rider in front.

My motos themselves went well with 3 wins and a 3rd after a failed attempt at trying to take the inside on Dave Roberts left me sprawling around on the floor. I grabbed a second place in the quarter but only a 4th in the semi leaving me in the B final up against Gareth Parr, Tom Gethin and Tim Pearson. Off the start in the B final we were all level necking into the first corner. The width of the track wasnt having this though and I felt someone get underneath my bars causing me to veer into the side of Gethin taking us both down in the process. Flipping into the floor gave Gareth and Tim the chance to get clear and Gareth took the win. I grabbed my bike and managed to get down to take 3rd place which left me with 7th position overall. The Senior podium was taken by John Hewitt, Lee Feery and Dave Roberts.

It was a fun weekend of riding but we are now looking forward to the next round and the national champs at South West Extreme which is being held on a totally fresh track that is rumoured to be a massive step up in difficulty with technical features that should create some really exciting racing.

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Monday, 5 July 2010

RedHill NPS 4X


Redhill is one of my favourite 4x venues. It always has a great atmosphere with the camping right next to the track and lots of other antics going on with the dirt jumps and new bomb hole area. The track is flat out and really doesnt take much effort to be properly hauling making some pretty exciting racing.



I have recently made the transition to clips and this was my first time out using them in anger. I am still at the stage where the stupid crashes happen due to forgetting to twist and unclip, apparently this is all part of the learning curve but so far I have done a half back flip pulling out from the take off of a steep jump and forgetting I couldnt just jump off the back of the bike. I almost ate it at Bryn Bettws getting hit by a gust in the air and had a good stack in practice on the saturday over Redhills new rock garden, in short this new clipped in stuff is still pretty hairy and giving me a few to many exciting moments.



The payback is off the gate and the reassurance of being able to attack the pedals without foot issues. This was doing me well off the gate and 3 out of the 4 motos I was out in front by the first corner. Unfortunately 2 of these motos I ruined the lead I had by binning it on the bottom half of the track. The first crash was on the grass chicane, my tyre lost grip on the second corner, grabbed and high sided me into the take off of the following jump. The second crash was on the last corner when Dave Roberts was right on my tail and I pushed too hard losing the front wheel on the grass hairpin. These crashes turned what was one of my better days of racing into a bit of a disappointment as I didnt make it through to the quarters. The senior podium ended up being taken by Tom Gethin, Peter Hosker, and Dave Roberts.



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