Are you proud to be British?

Wet ride on Greatham road

The rain finally eased up

Yesterday morning I needed all the courage and motivation that I could find. The thermometer read 5°C, the wind was howling and the rain was lashing down. I rolled down the road with it stinging my face to meet my brother. He was late so I took refuge in a bus shelter hoping he would not turn up. Unfortunately he did and was not about to turn back. We headed west with the south-south-westerly doing its best to put is off. Littlehampton, Arundel, Whiteways, Coldwaltham all rolled by and the precipitation gradually stopped. In fact, inside our protective layers of waterproof tights and jackets we were actually warm, enjoying ourselves and really happy to be out. Living in the ever changing climate of this country I felt proud to be British.

That Sunday morning, early and in those weather conditions you can imagine that the roads were really quiet. Very few vehicles passed us in either direction. So it baffles me that despite the lack of traffic three drivers should chose to pass us so close that we could almost feel the swish of their wing mirrors. Why? Is it a British thing? Last year we rode 1,600kms through France and Spain and one, yes, one vehicle in 10 days made a close pass! What is more, some of the roads we were on were busy national routes. Yesterday 50kms, no traffic and three desperately close passes!

Are we proud to be unique among European countries in our approach to other road users?

Wet ride

Joe with waterproof jacket and tights – you don’t need them often but when you do they are a life saver.

To make matters worse this aspect of British culture is amplified in West Sussex and, worse still, Worthing. Despite the county having double the number of KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) compared to other counties and Worthing with five times as many as Brighton (five times the size) the County Councillors all still think that prioritising motor vehicles over other forms of transport is the way ahead. If you don’t believe me ask your local County Councillor (find your councillor here). Of course there are many that will answer you with some wonderfully motivating rhetoric but do not be fooled. Ask them what tangible thing the County has done for cyclist in recent years; and I don’t mean the odd leisure routes in the countryside. With the attitude of the government and in particular our current group of County and Borough Councillors towards motor vehicle use it is unlikely that British culture will change in my life time. In fact if the elected members of our governing bodies have their way my life time could me a matter of weeks. My father is 88 and still playing tennis. I want to beat him in the old blokes fitness competition. Let’s hope that I can.

Are you really proud to be British?

For crying out! Kids can’t even cycle school. What sort of a country is this?

Get more news and views from us on our Quest Adventure blog on the website.

P.S. If you are a county or borough councillor or are a friend of one and you disagree with the sentiment expressed here, let me know what has been done for Sussex cyclists and I will make sure that they are publicised all over the web and social media.

Posted in Cycling in Worthing, Winter rides | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When you feel that magic… Scott Spark RC 900 WC review

Steyning Downland MTB board

Steyning Downland MTB board

This was my second ride on my new Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup. The first was on a very wet and muddy trip following the South Downs Rough Ride route. I couldn’t really draw any conclusions from that other then it was a bit more comfortable than my Scott Scale 900 SL hard tail and about the same weight (10.2kgs). I had the shock set too firm, it needs at least 25% sag which is what I have now. The first thing about the next ride was that it was dry, still slippery, but none of the mud so as you can see from the pictures, cleaning only took a bucket and a half!

I headed up to Chanctonbury and Steyning with the motivation that to justify riding a World Cup bike I need to be able to jump. As the conditions were good the first thing that I noticed with the Spark was that it accelerated like my carbon wheeled Scale. It felt like a road bike when you’ve lashed out on a £1500 set of wheels. It was a joyful experience knocking off the Cissbury single track and then run up to the South Downs Way. I dived straight into the Lion Trail, whipped through the first few turns and then went down hard. I was looking way down the trail so have no idea why the front wheel slipped out so fast. I let some air out of the front tyre and enjoyed the rest of my warm up down to Mouse Lane.

Scott Spark RC 900 WC

Scott Spark RC 900 WC

I took the long climb to the top of the Steyning Horse Shoe woods. To this point I had not had any reason to use the Twinloc lever nor did I need it for this exhausting climb. Scott and riders make a big deal of this feature but I could not see the point. I rode the Blue run and then played around the Reds having a poor attempt at getting air. I need help. It was nice to feel arm pump on our local patch but the successive climbs took a toll and my legs got tired.

It was with great joy and excitement that I saw all the new information boards and markers explaining and directing all users of this beautiful part of the Downs. Congratulations and thanks must go to the Wiston Estate, The Steyning Downland Scheme (or Society) and all the Steyning Mountain Biking trail builders (even if they do say “No 29ers” Ha, ha). Well done! Awesome job! To you who left your rubbish by the look out: don’t be so selfish – take your crap home and chuck around your own house.

Scott Spark made for singletrack

Scott Spark RC 900 WC, made for single track – up or down

Up to now the Spark had performed well but it really could have been any good light XC bike. I left the woods via Squirmy Rooter – the trail that runs around the rim of the Horseshoe. The Spark took off and flew. I’ve ridden this hundreds of time but never like yesterday. The Spark head angle is a slack 68.5°. Only a few years ago this would have seemed cutting edge on a trail bike. Oh how XC racing has changed. The confidence that the head gave and the active suspension meant  the bike felt as if it was on rails. It’s so light that jumping roots on corners was a breeze;  the bike could be floated up at will. The best way that I can describe my run was as if I was having a perfect blast through fresh snow (on skis). You feel as if you are flying. That’s when I felt the magic. I now understood all the effort that had gone into making this bike the Olympic Gold winner that it is. It is everything that I want out of a bike. It’s dynamite as an XC climbing machine and as much fun as any trail bike that I’ve ridden. Don’t bother checking my Strava time. It shows 15:50. Do your Instagram before the segment starts!

I described the spec in my previous review so this one is all about handling. I still think that I’d be happier on Racing Ralphs. I know that I get accused of being over excitable but this really is the best mountain bike that I have ever ridden. Why or why have I been such a hard tail fanatic? Finally, the Twinloc, it is very useful when sprinting or attacking a climb out of the saddle. The bike’s suspension is designed to be active over small bumps (the exact opposite of an Epic) which is fine when seated on a climb or flat but if you stand and want to get aggressive with your pedalling the Twinloc comes into its own. It’s like having two bikes rolled into one.

I’m happy. Now to get training and learn how to jump. Roll on the South Downs Way!


Posted in 29ers, Mountain biking, Riding faster, Scott Spark, South Downs Way, Steyning mountain biking | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

E-bikes may make us more European!

Why, you might ask? They are giving riders and the county new opportunities. You can save time and money too.

Let me tell about a few riders with electric bikes.

Scott E-Spark

Ali on his Scott E-Spark, Swinely

My daughter’s boyfriend is young (25), fit and strong. He works ten miles from home and has a semi off road route to work. He bought a Scott E-Spark to do the journey and cycles every day. At the weekend he can be found shredding the trails at Swinely or Pitch Hill.

Two riders, both about 50 and with several bikes have bought Scott E-Genius and both say that it is the best thing that they have done. To quote “Thanks to the E-bike I have never come out of winter as fit!” When it’s horrible the E-bike is an easy choice.

Easy travelling on E-bikes

Easy travelling on E-bikes

A couple of friends living outside of Bath were considering a new car but complained that it was a 45 minute drive into town. They tried E-bikes and never looked back. That 45 minute drive is now a 13 minute cycle. Prior to getting these bikes they had not cycled. The two E-bike hybrids were a lot less than the new car.

Don’t forget that an E-bike is still a bike that needs to be pedalled. You don’t even have to switch the power on or can run it in Eco to get more of a work out. The range is usually up to 100km.  I have loads of anecdotes to tell you if you want more convincing.

We have some E-bike options on our website and many are there for you to test too.

So how will it make us more European?

The last story shows how the E-bike revolution may well be the catalyst to turn the UK into a European nation regardless of the Brexit vote. We are the only country in Europe to have prioritised the car over people in towns. Of course our European neighbours all drive as well and enjoy some great roads but they all respect cyclists. In fact most of them have prioritised rider safety with laws (speed limits), insurance (Strict Liability *) and cycle routes. All three of these sadly lacking in the UK. However, the introduction of the E-bike is already starting to transform cycle use in the car loving UK. In my last Blog I mentioned that quite ordinary folk ride to Brighton every day but I know for most British people the mere thought of riding is way beyond anything that they could contemplate. Given an electric, power assisted bike and the idea of riding from Worthing to Brighton may not seem so unreasonable.

As more and more people take up riding on E-bikes the priority on the roads will begin to change. First, with riders on the road, car speeds will begin to drop. Don’t worry. If you are a driver I guarantee that, even with lower speeds, your arrival time at work will be the same as it always is (and not too long after the cyclist if you are lucky). Then there is the “Safety in numbers” syndrome. This is what has happened in London and why so many are begining to commute by bike. The second change will that the cycling lobby will increase, not with rotund and excitable MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra) but ordinary non sporty people merely interested in getting to work on time and in safety. I suppose you could even add a third benefit, the increased health of that woman or man who previously though that you had to be Laura Kenny (nee. Trott) just to be able to ride ten miles.

E-mountain bike

E-bikes are for fun too. Brendon Fairclough ripping on a Scott E-Genius Plus


How easy is it to buy an E-bike?

In real terms, E-bikes are as low priced and any decent bike. Many riders already know what you need for a descent mountain or road bike. In many cases the electric commuter bike  will seem cheaper compared to a mid priced mountain or road bike.

Cycle to work schemes

You could save up to 40% of the cost by buying a bike on a Cycle to Work scheme. Nearly all businesses offer this to their staff although many will have a limit of £1,000. However, you can always top up to make up the difference

0% finance

If you want to buy it out right we offer zero percent finance over 12 months. You could be riding to work next week for a little as £27 per week**, or £5.41 per working day. How much does it cost to drive? Driving to Brighton and back in commuter hours probably costs £5.41 just for the diesel. To get the train is £6.71 per day with 12 month season ticket, £8 with a monthly pass!

There’s more on E-bikes on our website News page.


*Strict liability:

In tort law, strict liability is the imposition of liability on a party without a finding of fault (such as negligence or tortious intent). The claimant need only prove that the tort occurred and that the defendant was responsible. The law imputes strict liability to situations it considers to be inherently dangerous.

In other words if you are in a vehicle and you hit a cyclist you are presumed guilty. It is up to you to prove otherwise. The cyclist will have the same burden of proof if he or she hits a pedestrian. You’d be amazed at how this changes driving habits.

** Cost of 0% finance. Based on £2,000 bike cost less 30% deposit

Posted in Commuting, Cycling in Worthing, Electric Bikes, Mountain biking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup review – first ride

Scott Spark RC 900 WC first ride

Scott Spark RC 900 WC first ride

We all expect everything immediately these days, next day delivery even same day delivery. Many a customer bleats about their wait. Of course you can get just about any bike that people don’t want delivered to your door next day. However, the special bikes are in demand and often in short supply. When that happens you just have to wait!

I waited four months for my road bike but that’s nothing. My mountain bike has taken six months!

Was worth it?

The bike is a Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup. It is a copy of Nino Schurter’s  29er he used to win the Olympic Gold medal. I have built it and that took a wait and more patience and had my first ride. It works!

You can read my first ride report here.


Posted in 29ers, Bad weather | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Scott Spark 940 review on stunning frozen trails

Frozen climb in the Scott Scale 910

Frozen climb in the Scott Scale 910

We have a selection of 2017 Scotts for demo: Sparks, Genius, Genius Plus and the XC Scale. As I have been waiting four months for my Scott Spark RC 900 WC to arrive I was keen to remind myself of how they rode. I took out the Scott Spark 940 which is a great all rounder and had a fantastic frozen ride with my brother riding a Scott Scale 910.

Read our blog to find out just how we got on. Quest Adventure Blog.

Posted in Freezing rides, Mountain bike rides, Scott Spark, Winter rides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Autumn riding, Winter rides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment