Category Archives: Mtb

Chunky wheels. Suspension. The correct way to ride.

First Ride: Bianchi Methanol SL 29

Yes. Yes, it is.

Yes. Yes, it is.

So as I intimated in an earlier post, I’m now the proud owner of a carbon hardtail MTB, more specifically a Bianchi Methanol SL 29 XT. I took it out on dirt for the first time yesterday, and my impressions so far are more than positive.

So the basics on the bike

  • 29″ Carbon hardtail.
  • RockShox Reba RL 100mm fork w/poploc remote lockout
  • XT groupset (with the exception of a Truvativ X9 double chainset and FSA chain)
  • FSA components, Magura hydro discs, Selle San Marco saddle
  • Fulcrum Red Power wheelset, shod with Kenda 24seven rubber

In focus, it’s a racing-oriented carbon XC hardtail. Pretty straightforward, right? Well yes. But no. Because there’s some serious thought gone into this frame and while you might not agree 100% with what’s come out, you have to tip your hat to the design. Continue Reading →

All of this is true

Thanks for sharing, Norbs.

My new toy

So I woke up this morning one year older, and as it turns out, one bike up. Thank you Esther for organising that little surprise.


That’s my new XT/Reba/Magura-equipped 2013 Bianchi Methanol SL, which I’d put a deposit down on a month or so back but didn’t expect to be paying off for a while, since the budget that would have paid for it was spent on new wheels when I crashed the road bike at the start of October.

Turns out that Esther does sneaky things with the budget. Very sneaky.

It’s currently in the workshop having the seatmast cut to size and a few minor tweaks done before I chuck in work for the day and head out to try and find a trail that’s not on fire. Its first competitive outing is unconfirmed, but might be the Highland Fling in November. I’m not 100% sure whether the dual-sus machine might be a better choice for that particular race, but no doubt I’ll figure it out once I’ve put a few kms on the new one.

Full report on the bike to follow. And big thanks to Atelier De Velo for going along with Esther’s little plan. Sneaky.

I’m hoping Yellomundee survives the bushfires OK

Yellomundee, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, is my MTB club’s track. It’s currently closed due to the fires raging in the Springwood area, partly because of fire danger and partly because the heavy helicopter traffic in the area is likely to cause falling branches and downwash. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll survive the fires without too much damage, because a little later in the summer, I’m hoping to race in this

I don’t rate my chances of victory too highly – Yellomundee might be my club’s track but I don’t ride there all that much – but I think the series will be a great set of races. There’s a lower profile than the Chocolate Foot and Rocky Trail events I’ve been racing so far this year, so there should be an even more casual feel – though I don’t doubt there’ll be some guns smashing out hot laps too.

Hope to see you there…

Kanangra Classic 2013 Cancelled

At the 2012 Kanangra Classic

At the 2012 Kanangra Classic

Last year, I rode my first 100km mountain bike race since getting back on the bike, at the 2012 Kanangra Classic. It’s a good introductory XCM, mainly on firetrails, with no excessively hard or technical riding, with a high potential average speed and scope for some tactical group riding, and I was very much looking forward to a return visit this year.

Sadly, due to the current bushfire threat, the 2013 race has been cancelled. At this late stage, with money committed and so much prep already done, there are no refunds. Any leftover funds are going to the Rural Fire Service, which is fine with me.

Personally, I’m a bit gutted. I was targeting a podium or category win in the vets classification, which I’m sure I could achieve on current fitness – but I completely understand why it’s been done. There’s a fire burning a few kms west of the trails themselves, and yesterday there was a report of an uncontrolled outbreak a mere 4km from the event centre, at the southern extremity of the actual race circuit. Mountain Sports have released an email outlining the cancellation and should be updating the event website soon.

Next race: the 2013 Camelbak Highland Fling in November

The best overtaking move you’ve ever seen

And there’s a bonus second angle…

Continue Reading →

Shimano MTB GP Round 4 : Mount Annan

This is a somewhat late post, because, well, there was a thing. I’m not sure if you noticed it. The Tour De France. It’s just a little bike race, but watching it kinda got in the way of some things, especially since I took a week off work and vanished to a hotel somewhere in a far-flung NSW wine region to watch the final epic week.

Both wheels off the ground as is right and proper

I really will get round to buying the proper images soon folks.

Anyway, round four of this year’s Shimano MTB GP took place a couple of weeks back at Mount Annan, home of the Australian Botanic Garden. Not the most obvious place for a mountain bike trail, an non-Sydneysider might think at first glance, but it’s one of the region’s better known and best managed trails. Rocky Trail as ever managed to put on a fantastic day of racing, the weather stayed resolutely cool and dry, and though I wasn’t plagued with the tyre issues of the previous round, not everything went according to plan.. Continue Reading →

Shimano MTB GP Round 3: Ourimbah

The author, obscured by watermark. Will buy the real one soon, honest.

This past weekend saw the third round of the 2013 Rocky Trail Shimano MTB GP, out at one of my favourite circuits, Ourimbah Mountain Bike Park near Sydney. I rode in the 4hr Solo Male Elite category, and here’s how my race went.

There’s generally quite a civilised feel to the start of a morning at a Rocky Trail event. The 9am race start, when compared to the 7am sharp of something like Capital Punishment, for example, is positively luxurious, so I made good use of the time, registered early and went out on a lap to check the state of the course. This was a deliberate choice – Ourimbah has many A and B line options, and a few spots of rain earlier in the week would inevitably leave a mix of hero dirt and slippery mud, so line choice could be significant. I’d also recently modded my bike with narrower handlebars, which would make some lines less of a squeeze and change my options for riding them. Finally, I hadn’t ridden the Lost Forest in a long while, and was a little unsure of how it would go.

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Race Report – The 2013 Convict 100

Before I delve into my experience at this year’s Convict 100, a note on geology.

Elsewhere in the world, Geologists divide rocks, the lifeblood of their profession, into three broad categories. Igneous rocks, formed in the fires of volcanic fury. Sedimentary, laid down over eons in ancient seas and finally metamorphic, beginning as one type but being transformed into another through the immense pressures of geological processes.

Here in Australia, there are also three types of rock.

Rocks made from sand
And sand with rocks in.

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Race Report: Capital Punishment 2013

Last weekend, I made the trek to the nation’s capital for the annual Capital Punishment 100km MTB Marathon race.

Previous years’ XCM series status was not forthcoming this year, for various reasons, but the field was still packed,with over 700 finishers crossing the 100km finish line at Stromlo, first of whom were Andy Blair for the Elite Men and Jenny Fay for the Elite Women. A further 709 riders finished the 50km version of the race from the National Arboretum to Stromlo, led home by Bradley Morton and Kylie Webb respectively.

For my part, I rolled into Kowen Forest at around 6am, parked my car in the dark and saddled up for my 7am start window, stopping only for a coffee and a return to the car when I realised I’d sleepily headed for the start sans helmet and gloves. A good start, huh?

Continue Reading →