Mountain Bike Shenanigans

June 25th, 2005

The last week or so since the last update have been the usual heady mixture of work and exciting day to day stuff with the added mixture of a round the country in a day road trip, a first time at a 24hr Mountain Bike race as a spectator by choice (rather than fate) and a period of feeling too rough to eat. Fortunately things have definitely improved, with the morale booster that Mr. Flooks has worked his magic and I now have a proper cross country bike again. New photos up here.

Truth is that the IF has been on a diet. Not a lose half your body weight in a week diet, more of a controlling slimming exercise over a number of months that has taken something with obvious potential and harnessed it to its full potential. It’s now a full on light weight machine that has no aspirations to be an all mountain bike and is built with that thought in mind. 3lbs in weight is a lot to loose and in honesty I don’t know if there is anything that makes practical sense left to change – irrespective the end result is the business.

One word of warning. If you buy a second hand pair of forks make 110% sure that they fit, because if they don’t you’ll end up paying for it. Ferr Shure.

So whilst I was at Mayhem at the weekend there was a good opportunity to catch up with folks, including the Midget. Too young he was told to go and mechanic in Spain, which is absolute rubbish and as has already been said, it’s their loss. Anyway after a weekend as Pit Bitch for teh racers, Jon may be reconsidering his options with regard to his current life in deepest darkest Welshshire. Photos from the event soon.

Now while I was there I pickerd up all sorts of stuff including a leaf;et about cycling out of poverty. It’s a promotional leaflet about the Bicycling Empowerment Network in Namibia, which aims to establish small bike shops throughout the country to establish a network of cheap bikes and parts and a whole heap of other good things. Check out the website and dig deep.

Defacing something that is illegally stuck to a wall is not against the law.

At some point some where, although I’m not sure where or when I also picked up a leaflet about The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination. Dissidents take note, a great site and it’s good to see that politics and ways of expressing freedom of speech are not aspirations that have been crushed.

Fianlly there is an advert about the New Belgium Postcoaster contest in the latest edition of DirtRag, including some more photos of this beast:

Todd Kundla's beast

Website Blues
June 20th, 2005

The irony of doing a job you really enjoy is that when you’ve finished working silly hours, it takes a mammoth amount of motivation to do more of the same sort of stuff back at the ranch. This I suppose is a half hearted attempt an an explanation for a lot of inactivity on my behalf and recognition of a fact that everyone else who has tried maintaining a website has known about for a long time.

Things have been very hectic recently as there are some fairly major events taking place. After five years in my current place as a result of a recent promotion, I’ll be relocating to a leafier and more spacious pied a terre outside the City. This looks likely to have the added advantage of making a bit of bike based commuting a distinct possibility, although it’s likely that this may mean I’ll need one of these. Which may in turn mean that somewhere down the line I’ll develop some really odd behaviour, like setting fire to my own head. Okay, he might not be a Brompton owner, but he could be. You never know.

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since the last issue of Singletrack came out. It coincided with the last big ride I went on and there fore I haven’t been for a decent all day epic for almost two months. I’m missing the offroad fix and I’m beginning to look and feel a bit shabby for it. Another up date soon, but in the interim check out MTB Wales.

UCI Madness
June 12th, 2005

Well talk about dropping a bombshell the UCI seem to be at the root of a rather heartfelt decision over how cycling will be represented at the Olympics over coming years. From a personal point of view I can’t help thinking that although a compromise has been reached, was it entirely necessary? Given that there are concurrently running events elsewhere within the Olympic calendar of events, the addition of BMX racing should not have any significant effect on the operation and logistics of the overall Olympics.

The UCI should have sought to place the IOC under mnore pressure to revise their stipulated rules and allow BMX without the need for concessions. Irrespective of this the decision to drop two of the most spectacular track events will remain a topic that is keenly debated for week and months to come and may not be forgotten by those it will impact on the most. Read a whole lot more over on Cyclingnews and sign the petition on-line here. I think this comment sums things up fairly concisely:

“I’m stumped, shelled for the women’s 500 and the kilo which are, in my opinion, far more interesting than the Madison and definitely more spectator friendly. I had heard last year that the Madison was going and I wasn’t going to lose sleep over it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great event but…it’s true that spectators have a really difficult time following it, whereas the kilo and 500 are straightforward. How can they be taken out like that? Does the UCI have the right to take out these events without consulting federations and athletes, and do they have the right to bring the already very few women’s speed events down to one? I should think not. I say we do something about it!” (Marion Clignet, Cyclingnews).

Also in the news is this bit of bad news about Mountain Biking that doesn’t seem to have been getting enough public airing for my liking. If situations like this aren’t taken seriously enough they will have real and massive impacts on the future of mountain biking – not just racing, but for the future of the sport both in North America and most likely in time over here in Europe too. That might be an overly pessimistic negative view of it, but in comparison to other extreme mountain sports like Skiing and Snowboarding, Mountain Biking might be seen to be on the receiving end of some unfavourable rulings:

From: Cyclingnews
Subject: Ontario Downhill MTB cancelled

The Ontario Cup Downhill Mountain Bike event has been cancelled. Due to circumstances relating to a claim and insurance concerns, Blue Mountain Resorts has notified the Ontario Cycling Association and Sirbikealot Racing and Promotions (the Downhill Race event organizer) that the event scheduled for July 2-3 will not happen.

“This is tremendously upsetting,” stated Steve Merker, Executive Director of the OCA. “Downhill racing in Ontario has recently seen a participation surge. Our first event of the year had record numbers and we were looking forward to building on that momentum. It’s truly sad that insurance concerns are frightening venues away from hosting sporting events and activities.”

Similar issues are happening in sports that use public facilities. Cycling is in danger of losing venues and therefore participation due to closures such as Blue Mountain. Dagmar Ski resort and Pleasure Valley, two very popular mountain bike destinations, have shut their gates to recreational and competitive cyclists within the last two years.

Closures and cancellations are threatening the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation’s goal “to increase Ontario’s sport participation and physical activity rate so that by the year 2010, at least 55 per cent of Ontarians are physically active.” The youth of Ontario will be affected the most by these closures.

The cancellation may have repercussions beyond Ontario. As Intrawest owns and operates many facilities across North America, this could jeopardize future events at venues such as Tremblant in Quebec and Whistler in British Columbia.

Finally I there hasn’t been anything stupid on here in a long time so here’s a whole load of Stupid Videos. Check out Too Much Gas and Cart Jump for carnage, but don’t look at Container jump unless you want to see bike related injury and scroll down to Bike over rocks for handy tips on where not to stand if you’re the cameraman at a downhill event.

June 8th, 2005

As Andy Armstrong has so eloquently put it “If you haven’t got anything interesting to say, say it anyway!”. This apparently is one of the fundamental rules of blogging along with “do not blog”. American think-tank Pew Internet reckons that a new blog is created about every 6 seconds, so obviously blogging isn’t that hard, but it’d be interested to see some sustainability rates. According to a recent article in The Times, however, people who don’t blog should not be tempted to do so. Perhaps it should also be pointed out that most people who are good at blogging (like the Sexmidget – check this rant out) most of the time can’t be arsed to do so, because there is usually something much more exciting to be doing, which in Jon’s case will probably involve an activity that will lead to him forgetting why it was he had put off updating his blog in the first place.

There were 70 billion blogs in the world yesterday, there will probably be 70 billion billion by next week, and as the article says “what crazy hubris makes you think you have anything new or interesting to say?” Yet people in sheep like fashion assume that their blog will be one of the tiny fraction that is brilliant. So the only good advice that current bloggers can offer are a few invaluable tips to stop the novice embarrassing themselves, ruining their love lives, alienating friends and getting the sack. Fortunately because this is a website about mountain bikes you won’t be getting any of that rubbish here.

And talking of bikes the Singlespeed UK and Euro champs are both is weekend. Check it out:

Singlespeed UK Champs 2005 – June 12th, Machynlleth, Wales

Machynlleth, home of the Dyfi Enduro, is going to be the venue for the 11th annual UK singlespeed championships. The fun will start in town around 1pm on the Saturday, when there’ll be a guided couple of hours spin from outside the Holey Trail bike shop in the middle of town.

Later on, from 6pm-9pm there is a monster pizza frenzy at the Event HQ, the Wynnstay Arms, again in the middle of town. £10 gets you all the wood-fired oven deluxe pizza, garlic bread and salad you can scoff until 9pm, when the back bar will open up to allcomers.

There is camping available at the rugby club/sports centre with basic facilities (ie a loo) but showers and civilised things available for a small fee at the leisure centre on the Sunday. There will be opportunities for a bit of scratch racing, derbying, silly bike sprints and whatever during Saturday evening as well as a chance to chat, catch up, ogle bikes and er, probably sink a few beers.

10am on the Sunday, the riders will leave en-masse, again from the Holey Trail, to the race course, an easy five mile spin out of town. The pace will be mellow and if you don’t feel that into racing, you’ll have the chance to slack a little while still enjoying the great trails there. The winners will do a long, hard course and the just-for-funners will have the option of a little less pain and more heckling…

Entry fee will be £20, with any profits being redistributed in the form of a post-ride beer. There’ll be a cool Howies T-shirt available in limited numbers for £12 featuring the ace logo above and there will be an enormous heap of prizes from Solitude Cycles (a custom frame), Surly (a frame), Hayes, SRAM (giving gears away to the slowest rider), Easton, Topeak, Continental, and lots of other people that I wrote down on a list somewhere… It’s looking like being a top event and if you don’t have fun there, you can’t be that fun a person… See for a little more information.

Now onto the Euros and here’s what our Dutch friends have to say about their great sounding event.

Singlespeed Euro Champs 2005 – June 12th, Arnhem, the Netherlands

After a succesfull Dutch Open Championships in 2004 Park Klarenbeek in Arnhem will be the location for the Singlespeed Euro Champs 2005.

Last year riders from four nations entered to race for the title, this year we hope to have at least representives from 8 European countries

The event will start on Saturday June 11th on a local campsite. From here there will be several complementary rides. There will be some off road biking around Arnhem and some city biking in Arnhem. At night there will be a party in one of the local pubs.

Sunday June 12th will be racing day. At 10am (This is no typo!!) the riders start for their 30km ride (4 laps) and at the end we will know who is the new European champ! After the ride there will be the Awards Ceremony (and remember: not only the first three are the winners in a singlespeed race…)
There will also be some more contests and a big raffle.

The race will be part of one of the biggest Dutch one day mountainbike events, the Bergrace Off the Road, also featuring the Dutch Students Championships and lots of other races. The course is very challenging and has all the ingredients for a perfect race: steep climbs, fast downhills, singletrack and enough space to take over (or being taken over, as you wish).

More info on the European Championship Singlespeed 2005 you can find here.

Finally recent racing in the Mountain Bike World Cup seems to have turned a little bit farcical with the UCI doing a fairly good job of cocking things up and upsetting the riders. Why they could not just postpone the event and make alternative arrangements is beyond intelligent thought. Scroll down to the bottom to read more.

And finally spare a moment for the Canadian mountain bike and outdoors community who have lost one a friend and colleague:

Bear kills mountain biker

Canadian mountain biker Isabelle Dube has died after being mauled by a grizzly bear. Dube, who was third overall in last year’s TransRockies Challenge, was running on a trail near Canmore, Alberta on Sunday with her racing team-mate Maria Hawkins and friend Jean McAllister when the three encountered Bear 99, a male grizzly that had been trapped and removed from the area only a week before.

According to the Edmonton Sun, Dube climbed a tree while Hawkins and McAllister went for help at the nearby golf course. They found fish and wildlife officers who were led to the scene by McAllister.

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development spokesman Dave Ealey said the officers found the bear over Dube’s body. “The bear moved off the body and our staff recognized that it had killed the person, and they took one shot and killed the bear,” he said.

Dube was married with a young daughter and was well known in Canada’s endurance mountain bike racing community.

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