Frosty rides are fun and clean but you must get up early

frozen & clean

Frozen but superb grip and completely clean

This morning I had an early ride and the trails were frozen. I love rides like this as the grip is incredible. You can ride up, down and across stuff that you just cannot do at other times of the year even a dry summer. Once the fun is over you can go home and put the bike away as it’ll still be clean.

However, lacking experience and sleeping in too long may cause you to wreck your lovely bike and end up with a £100 plus workshop bill. Read why in my Quest Adventure post here: Quest Adventure blog.

Posted in Gravel bikes, Winter rides | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Putting theory into practice – how to ride on slippery trails?

Whyte Gisburn

Leafy trails with the Whyte Gisburn

I wrote 12 months ago about being asked for a tyre with more grip. On Saturday I updated that particular article as our newsletter linked to it. At this time of year we are asked over and over for tyres with more grip. So it was interesting to go out riding in the mist and damp this Sunday morning with my words in my head. My theories are valid. They work in practice hence the name of my ride on Strava today: “Putting theory into practice”. I felt safe and happy with my 37mm Maxxis Riddlers.

Braking bumps

How about these for braking bumps!

I could have, should have, ridden the Whyte T-129 again to finish off my review but the lure of the Whyte Gisburn cross bike was too much for me. Its light and fast but most of all it is so exciting to ride on autumn trails.

The aforementioned article is on our website blog here.

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Whyte Gisburn gravel bike review

Whyte Gisburn in trail

Whyte Gisburn – fun on the singletrack

A few months ago I reviewed the Whyte Saxon Cross. It was a fair review as I was riding a Niner RLT9 at the time. The Saxon was good but lacked a few key elements to make it a great gravel bike. The new Gisburn is a big step up. The once cross bike is now verging on being a mountain bike with drop bars. A true adventure bike. A fun machine.

I love it as I can ride virtually all of my favourite mountain bike trails and can enjoy overcoming the technical challenges. Add to that, that it is fast and fun on gravel tracks and knocking some road miles is all part of the Gisburn’s repertoire.

For more detail read my full review, including a tyre update, here: Quest Adventure Whyte Gisburn review.

Posted in Autumn riding, Cyclocross, Gravel bikes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Should the South Downs National Park charge for mountain biking?

Share, give way, slow down, say hello, say thank you

Share, give way, slow down, say hello, say thank you

I think that we ought not ask that question but should look at the attitude of users, and in this article, some mountain biker’s attitudes to their rights on the trails.

When I started mountain biking there were some bikes but no mountain bikes to be seen on our local trails. We didn’t even know if we had the right to ride there. How times have changed?

You can read more on our news page Quest Adventure Blog

 

Posted in Mountain bike rides, South Downs National Park, South Downs Way | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Whyte Saxon Cross review

Before I start I ought to declare that I am not a “Cross rider”. However, I am a bike rider. Ignore the labels: enduro, road, XC, TT, marathon, tourist… yawn. I ride bikes! They all should do the same thing: they excite, go fast and encourage me to live – be it an off the lip on an XC hard tail or a carve on my road bike. Bikes are for fun.

Whyte Saxon Cross

Real joy floating over these

Whyte seem to have locked in on the fun side. Maybe that’s down to their roots in the windsurfing wave market. Windsurfing in part was responsible for the rapid development of mountain biking in the UK. Whatever the reason Whyte can produce a bike that inspires confidence and releases the fun gene. Their trail bikes are the ones that grab the lime light but compare any of their road/commute machines with other brands and you will see what I mean. They are just fun to ride. What a great way to start a day if you ride to work?

I have just ridden the Saxon Cross. I am still grinning from the experience. I have been late to get on this bike because I miss understood the geometry and some of the early comments by cross racers. The cockpit of the 54cm measures up 10 millimetre longer than my Niner RLT9 53cm but, reading the geometry charts, it’s 29.5mm longer??? Head angles and bars are the same and there is just 10mm difference in the stems. Only goes to show that you can’t buy a bike on numbers alone.

Whyte Saxon Cross

No 29ers! I’m alright then!

The first thing that I noticed was a harsh ride. The previous rider was heavier and a bit road focused. I kept dropping the air pressure and seemed to find 30 rear and 25 front did the trick. This set up assumes reasonable bike handling until it is set up tubeless. With my Niner I was getting pinch punchers every descent until I went tubeless. I have said before that I am not a cross rider but I do like riding off road and I especially like the challenge of combining my road biking with my favourite mountain bike trails. Tyres sorted I could enjoy the ride. I did puncture but with a thorn not a pinch.

The WTB Cross Boss 35mm tyres have all the grip you could need now in May and the

Whyte Saxon Cross

CX1 and good clearance

clearance is fine but there is no way that I could run my WTB Nano 40s in there. I’d prefer a higher volume tyre. My bike has Shimano 105 and Avid BB5 cable disc brakes. The Saxon Cross has Sram CX1 and hydraulic discs which is awesome. The shift is far more positive which I like off road and the brakes work either on the hoods or drops. The cable brakes just don’t work on the hoods, there are a collection of trees in the neighbourhood that bear testimony to that. The Sram gearing has a more practical range than my 46/36 – 12/32. One clever bit of the specification choice is that Whyte have mixed a Shimano 11s 11-42 with the Sram CX1, this saves you money and keeps the rear freehub standard. Nice touch.

Whyte Saxon Cross

Sram CX1, really love these hoods off-road (dislike them on a road bike though)

Overall, the cockpit felt just a bit better on the Whyte and the handling was awesome. The Saxon felt every bit as good as the Niner. Amongst other routes I rode the bike down The Blue Run and on the rooty single track around the top of the Steyning Horseshoe. It did everything that I would want from a cross/gravel bike, it made me ride light and smooth.

The Pros:

Geometry and handling, tubeless ready rims and tyres, value for money (£700 less than the equivalent spec Niner RLT9), Sram CX1, hydraulic discs, standard rear freehub.

The Cons:

Lack of room for a 40mm tyre, but it is a “Cross” bike isn’t it?

The pros win by a mile! I notice that Whyte are now marketing the Saxon Cross  as a “Gravel” bike, oh so many different names. I’ll pass on the feedback to increase the clearance for the “gravel” rider.

Posted in Cyclocross, Gravel bikes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Whyte T-130 and Bike Park Wales – a match made in heaven.

Whyte T-130 RS Bike Park Wales

Ready for its first run – don’t dismiss Sixtapod just because it’s a Blue

I’ve ridden the Whyte T-130 RS around the Downs but I’ve never ridden it the way it was intended to be so it really just seemed like another, albeit, slack suspension bike. To be fair, its been too wet and muddy.

(see also T-130 SXT-130S , T-130 C RS and T-130 C Works)

I planned a trip to Bike Park Wales as it would be the perfect place to see just what all the fuss was about and whether I could step up to the mark set by Whyte. Every single magazine has put the T-130 way above any other bike in it class. They can’t all be wrong.

To get the most out of the ride I wanted to makes sure that nothing would hold me back and so for the second time in my life I donned body armour and to finish things off I dragged out my old Kona trousers. Back in the day when I was Mr Kona and Whyte was still the “enemy”, we used to push ourselves and our bikes limits and that is when thick baggies came in for protection, the Kona pants were the long version. You can fall of a motocross bike with these on and still get up unscathed.

The 130mm travel is close enough to my style that I can take advantage of it. I have tried DH bikes and can’t ride them as my flat out is so much slower than the designer intended for their DH design to work. I would have thought that of the G-160 but after two days in Wales I think that I’ll try 160mm travel for my next visit. I want more!

Whyte T-130 RS – The detail

Whyte T-130 RS

Perfect balance, perfect proportions. Whyte T-130 RS

It is a beauty with massive standover clearance. The top tube is longish at 611mm for the medium (longer than my Scott Scale but shorter than Whytes 29 XC bikes) and according the Whyte’s recommendation I am on the limit for the medium. The other Whytes hitting even more headlines are the 901/905/909 trail hardtails and these have a massive 26mm longer top tube. Whyte don’t seem to be able to put a foot wrong with their designs but I’m still struggling to get to grips with their sizing. I could be a large T-130 but I am a small Saxon??? The T-130’s low front end is actually great for climbing and is perfect when the seat is lowered and gravity takes over.

See the Whyte T-130 in my short video review.

The shock absorption comes with a Rock Shox Pike 130mm travel and Boost 150mm axle (always best in its class since it appeared) and the rear a Rock Shox Debonair which has gone from being 2nd to Fox to now being rated alongside if not even better. Always run both with at least 30% sag (easy to set up with the sag marked on the shock’s shafts)

The transmission is Shimano 1 x 11 XT which now has the nice positive click that Sram has. I’d probably choose Sram myself so the lower priced standard T-130 would not be much of a down grade. The crank is a Race Face Turbine Clinch which is a nice touch as we know the RF narrow-wide chain ring is super reliable. And the big bonus is that all BB’s in the Whyte line up used standard, cheap and reliable external bearings. Well done boys! Brakes are the new Shimano M8000 XT.

Wheels are Sram Roam which are light, stiff, have great pick up and have stood up to some

Whyte T-130 front

Rock Shox Pike and Sram Roam wheels

really hard impacts but who at Sram thought that straight pull and, can you believe it, bladed!!! spokes were a good idea on an enduro rig? Tyres I never noticed and set with 30 psi they were perfect. Mind you, I’d love to try the Maxxis set up of the T-130 Carbon.

Bars are a massive 760mm and help open up the cockpit. With a 50mm stem the combination that and a 67⁰ head angle make the steering super sure and confidence inspiring. The Whyte saddles are always neutral and will suit most as it’s from the same place as the Charge Spoon and Fabrics. Of course the bike would not be complete without a Rock Shox Reverb, largely redundant in the Welsh gravity Park but handy on the up and downs of the Surrey Hills.

So how does it ride? I don’t know. I don’t feel qualified to judge a bike like this. I am not good enough. All I know is that from the first set of jumps to the first switch back berms of Sixtapod I was at full speed and feeling safe. That can only be down to the superb balance of the Whyte design. I felt that I could get away with anything that the trails threw at me. I did 8 runs at BPW and couldn’t have done another even if they offered me a free uplift for trying so hard. I, the XC hard man, was exhausted. I had ridden every run as if in a sprint competition. I was at my very limit and still around to write this up so I can only say that the bike worked, it didn’t throw me off despite me tempting it. It is inspiring which is exactly what I needed it to be. I wanted to jump and rail some berms and I did so. I also got away with a lot more. At Bike Park Wales and on the Whyte T-130 RS I was able to ride at what I felt was my very limit. I could not believe that I could go so fast. Thanks Whyte, you have just given me a whole new sport. I’ll be back.

A note on Bike Park Wales.

Bike Park Wales Trail heads

Bike Park Wales Trail Heads, this is where the excitment begins

I was lucky enough in the Kona days to go to Vancouver and ride the Northshore (on a bike) and Whistler (on a snowboard). Bike Park Wales is like a UK version of the two combined. I never waited or a lift, the chat with the rest of the riders was a laugh and all the staff made you feel welcome whether it was securing your bike on the trailer, telling you tales about the place or looking up the postcode for accommodation. Book your trip NOW!

Piste map

Piste map

Trail start

Launch pad for some of he trails

DSC_0866

Twin Trails B&B

Just what you need from a trail centre B&B. Well done Twin Trails!

Posted in 27.5ers, 650B, Whyte T-130 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bonking – Get your nutrition right

It’s a strange world that of a cycle shop. You’d think that the number one topic would be kit, well it has an important place as riders either embarking on a lifelong passion for cycling or they discover the way to buy  success or personal gratification. However, Quest Adventure is a little different. A while ago the S.I.S. rep was in and while he expounded the benefits of his latest product I looked up how may SIS gels we sold. It was around 360 for each flavour over a year. He expressed surprise and said that it was an indication of the type of customer we had. They were athletes. They took their sport seriously.

Nutrition for the South Downs Way

This, in that order, plus a salami sandwich and some malt loaf got me through the 160K of the South Downs Way.

Now we often find some of our male customers discussing their weight (or lack of it) and how they are controlling it, or the number of calories in olive oil or how they can consume over 100 grams of protein per day. I say male customers as, to date, none of the 30% of our bike customers who are women have discussed their weight and diet with me – yet.

One such customer has taken his diet way too far and he told us about his 2,000 calories a day and no proteins – nature’s building blocks. He is losing weight, training hard and, as you’d expect is getting slower. So, as our dieter, Simon, drifted back, our conversation turned to food and this tough group of riders began sharing recipes. We don’t discuss hardware, riding: yes, kit: no. It was really windy that day and as Chris and I continued to drive on into the 40mph head wind I boasted of my “fast” rides (fast – not eating before a ride). I also bragged that since October I had had no gels, bars or energy powder in my drinks. I didn’t need them. Or so I thought.

For the last four months I have made a point of trying to ride easier. I was happy to stop and chat and generally cruise. But it is now late February, we’ve done our first race and all my mates have got faster.

I should have spotted the signs: I was so tired after my race, I’ve missed most of the Tuesday Night Thrashes, the previous Sunday’s ride was really tough and I got dropped on Tuesday. I have slowed down! I need to get some power back.

Back to that Sunday, I felt fine in the queue to do the Denture at Whyteways. Believe it or not there were three groups of four riders there at 8:30 am in the cold and wet. I took a gel. Why I wondered. We blasted through the forest and down the singletrack of Houghton Hill when it happened. I couldn’t overtake with wind behind, I began to struggle. I started losing control on the mud. My hands felt numb. My feet got cold. My arms hurt so much I could hardly hold on. I was in pain. As for my legs: agony with every pedal stroke. I was bonking and bonking bad.

A week later was different, pasta the night before, banana and toast for breakfast, energy drink in my pack and two gels during the ride. I did not bonk but I did suffer. They say no pain no gain so judging by Sinday’s effort I should have gained a lot. We’ll see.

You are what you eat so think about your daily diet (but be reasonable) and plan you nutrition on your rides.

Here are the rides: Bonking Bad – Whiteways and back, and The South Downs Rough Ride (30 mins off my PB!). Both good rides, the later is great if you are training for tough road rides too.

 

Posted in Dieting, Nutrition, South Downs Way | Tagged , | Leave a comment