Big news in my small world!

Etiketter

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Boom!

I am beyond chuffed to be able to say that I am a part of the Fillariosa Team. As such, we will be working together on my suspension, which incidentally is the part of my bike I like to tinker with the most, and that I am most particular and nerdy about.

Black, brown, Italian.

Black, brown, Italian.

With their long experience of not only selling bouncy bits, but also service and custom tuning (YAY!) I am convinced they will prove an awesome partner. As I understand, the expansion to Sweden has just started. About time in my opinion, we really needed options closer than the usual suspects in Britain.

Cruising on the new bounce. Photo by Andrea and her new flashy DSLR.

Cruising on the new bounce. Photo by Andrea and her new flashy DSLR.

To start off, I got to try the on paper very promising Marzocchi 350ncr. The Bos Deville left some fairly big shoes to fill, and my expectations are set very high. First impressions are just that, first impressions. Not much one can say really as long as things are not awful, and they are not. Let me get back in a week and I hopefully will have logged some time in more serious terrain on them. While it might look nice and dry on the pictures, mind that composition is all about not showing things. Snow and ice in this case, but soon I will be in bigger, dryer and warmer terrain to test things out proper.

A wee bit of espresso coated air time, feels good so far. Still Andrea doing the DSLR thing

A wee bit of espresso coated air time, feels good so far. Still Andrea doing the DSLR thing

To everyone’s amazement, he actually went skiing

Etiketter

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I  have been feeling like winter came and went without me. I was just standing on the platform, passively looking on as the season passed by.

From my all time low in January recovery has been so slow that it was almost unnoticeable. But it was there. It turns out I was not really stuck on the platform, I was ever so slowly moving in the right direction. At glacier pace, mind you.

In the last month things have started to come together a bit. Two weeks ago I left the mind dulling comfort of the city for the first time since Christmas. Andrea and Jen gently dragged me to the mountains of Borgafjäll and we did a couple of short tours. Weather and snow conditions were passable, my strength far from it. Walking uphill at snails pace was fine, but my riding was weak to say the least. Never before have I felt fatigue after riding a line on my board, but this time, oh yes. The board felt like hundreds of kilos, little ollies turned into massive efforts and there was no power on those edges whatsoever. Despite all this, the weekend was a great success, as it showed me that at least I could be outside and enjoy the mountains again.

Fast forward two weeks, a few very short bike rides and a rather uneventful weekend and me, Andrea and Jen are again on our way to the mountains. This time, Marsfjällen, a massif of summits characterised by long, mellow approaches and beutiful views, in one of the wildest parts of the Västerbotten mountains.

Accomodation is usually scarse around Easter, but we lucked out and one of Andreas friends put us in touch with a little cabin. Rudimentary electricity, no running water and so on, but good enough for us.

Jen immediately upon arrival celebrated by starting to clear of a seasons worth of snow that had accumulated on the roof.

Jen shoveling snow from the roof...

Jen shoveling snow from the roof…

...and me shoveling the same snow from the entrance

…and me shoveling the same snow from the entrance. Both photos by Andrea.

The entrance, after the great break out dig

The entrance, after the great break out dig. Photo by Andrea

After a lot of digging, food and sleep we woke up to a sunny but windy day. As I hinted, the approaches are long around these parts.

No better way to start a day than sun, wind and a massive approach

No better way to start a day than sun, wind and a massive approach. Photo by Andrea

200m of elevation gain over several kilometers took us up into the alpine valley, from where the proper climbing starts. Incidentally, it is also where the riding ends and the slog back home starts, but now I am getting ahead of myself.

Once in the valley, we dug a pit to escape the wind, took a snack and discussed our options. There was a couple of potential objectives off of Gahkan, in the far end of the valley. One of those felt too steep and risky for a first day out, and the other included climbing over the mountain and riding down the other side, making it impossible to assess the line before committing to the climb. And there were some looming clouds, possibly making visibility up high an issue. With me also feeling a bit tired (as always nowadays) and Andrea still with very few days on snow after the avalanche last year, we opted for the easy and safe option, which would also minimise slogging on our way out of the valley.

Looking out towards the gully on Rovpen, which was to be our line for the day

Looking out towards the gully on Rovpen, which was to be our line for the day. Photo by Andrea

The climb was mellow enough, and the snow better than it looked from afar, especially considering how the wind did its best to wreck havoc everywhere.

Jen traversing with the valley and its snowmobile tracks far below

Jen traversing with the valley and its snowmobile tracks far below.

The creek we skinned along ended in an alpine lake and the landscape opened up. The snow still looked good and we had a bit of shelter from the wind so we figured we might just keep going all the way to the summit.

Summit in sight!

Summit in sight! Photo by Andrea

Up there, it was of course windy and quite unpleasant, but the feeling of making it there more than weighed up for it. Doing a quick transition we started our way down. The first bit was over a blind roll-over, and since we skirted around it on the way up there were no tracks to follow either. On riders right there was a fairly big cornice that I was keen to avoid as well, so this was a good opportunity to practice a bit of navigation by feel. All went well and the snow was not too bad, settled pow with the odd hard patch thrown in to spice things up.

Surfs up! The snow varied from settled pow to sastrugi and concrete

Surfs up! The snow varied from settled pow to sastrugi and concrete.

Further down by the creek there were some really nice turns to be had, mixed up by some more challenging turns as usual. Some high clouds came in for a bit and treated us to a fantastic light that I was not even close to capturing despite trying my best.

Andrea pushing through sastrugi, me messing up really cool light conditions. I seem to have problems with flare as well, annoying stuff. Could it be the uv-filter?

Andrea pushing through sastrugi, me messing up really cool light conditions. I seem to have problems with flare as well, annoying stuff. Could it be the uv-filter?

Jen also got an opportunity to be in a slightly less missed photo opportunity

Jen also got an opportunity to be in a slightly less missed photo opportunity. At least there is less flare on this one.

Coming into this weekend I was a bit hesitant about my riding, since my experience in Borgafjäll was less than thrilling. Now, however, it was a different ball game. I was not merely a passenger on my admittedly quite stiff and heavy Odin, but could at least to some extent actually ride it. I felt at least ten times stronger, which was a really cool feeling, and I also was not exhausted at the end of the run. There is still a long way to  the power I had in my riding last spring, but at least this really shows that I am getting there.

Happy that we made it to a summit and everything, we made our way back down to the cabin. This was actually not too arduous a task, since the creek feeds out practically where the valley transitions from being slightly uphill to going absolutely flat, so we made it to the bottom without even having to split our boards. Oh, the joy!

Then we got home and finished clearing the roof.

A lot of snow on that poor old roof

A lot of snow on that poor old roof. Photo by Jen

After dinner we fell asleep at 9pm, just as it should be in the mountains.

On the day of Easter the sun was still out but the wind had died down, and we were chuffed. Boosted by the success and stable snow of the day before, not to mention the promising weather outlook, we aimed higher. The plan was to climb Gahkan, which guards the far end of the valley, and poke around a little on the objectives we passed up on the day before.

The slog over the wetlands and up through the forest felt faster this time around. I don’t think we moved that much quicker, but familiarity and good weather are powerful drugs.

Another day, same long approach.

Another day, same long approach. Here we are already way up in the valley. Photo by Andrea

We also had word that Henrik and Cilla would be joining us, but since our 9pm bedtime gave us quite the head start we had plenty of time for long lunch breaks and chilling in the sun. Just as well, because I went through one of those crappy phases I seem to be plagued with, when it feels like I am more or less dying. Luckily, it passed after a while on the skin up to the summit of Gahkan. By the way, I can’t remember ever passing more false summits on such a short climb before. Gahkan is severly convex, something we would experience properly on the way down…

On the summit of Gahkan, dreamin of the summit of Marsfjället

On the summit of Gahkan, dreaming of the summit of Marsfjället. Photo by Andrea

From the summit we had three options. Riding down the other side into the great vast nothing that lies on this side of the mountain, or ride down into the same valley we came from either the same exact way we skinned up or a steeper option taking us into the really far end of the valley.

After seeing the view of the severely wind scoured snow on the ”other side”, our options narrowed down to going the same exact way we came, which was a very mellow slope covered in rime, sastrugi and the odd patch of settled pow, or going for the steep and exciting option.

The day before we had been eying this steep exciting option from the the summit of Rovpen, but the fact that Rovpen is several kilometers away and we had no binoculars limited what information could be gathered. And now when push came to shove our mental images of the line were as fragmentary and conflicting as one could expect.

After much debate, we decided to go exciting, but in a careful way. We would skirt around the steepest bit and try to get a good visual of our line from the side before traversing over and dropping in, thus also giving us the opportunity to pull the plug and climb back up safely if we didn’t like what we saw.

Jen and me trying to spot the way down

Jen and me trying to spot the way down. Photo by Andrea

After a lot of feeling around, traversing and conferring, we found something that looked rideable and safe enough. Most of the line was one big long roll over, thereby limiting vision to what felt like just a handful of meters ahead. And since there were rocks and cliffs sticking out here and there, I started down quite carefully and with big margins for error. After a couple of tentative turns showed that the snow was really nice, fast and bouncy, and I could open it up as much as visibility allowed. I was properly thrilled when I reached the bottom, and I think the girls were too when they came down. Finally, a proper line and not just mellow cruising. Not that I mind low angle cruising and playing around, but there is nothing a bit of steepness and a touch of gentle exposure to make me feel properly alive!

Last woman down safely...

Last woman down safely…

...calls for celebration!

…calls for celebration…

...and even more celebration!

…and even more celebration! The first two pics courtesy of Andrea, the one above by Jen

From there, there was nothing more to do than to turn around and walk out the long, flat valley.

Getting close to the end of the long walk home

Getting close to the end of the long walk home, shot by Andrea

What about Henrik and Cilla, asked the observant reader. Well, we waited for them at the summit and met them just before riding down, but they had to go back the way they came due to time constraints, Easter celebrations and all that.

Too bad, but we made up for it the following day by going over to their neck of the woods in Grundfors. The weather was a bit more iffy, and given that our objective was the sparse birches of Gemon it suited us perfectly. Thanks to Lennart we got a tow across the lake with his old snowmobile, and saved ourselves a couple of kilometers of flat approach work.

Gemon is a low, long mountain, reaching just above treeline. Those woods hold plenty of nice, mellow riding with a few little natural features here and there to keep things interesting.

Andrea breaking trail through the sparse birches of Gemon

Andrea breaking trail through the sparse birches of Gemon.

The snow was really nice, despite low elevation. North faces is where it is at, that’s for sure. Everything below treeline even slightly south facing was crusty and horrible, but on Gemon we were treated to creamy, soft snow everywhere except where the wind had done its thing.

Half way up we dug a pit. Not because it was strictly needed, in the trees and on such a mellow slope I was not worried. But it is still fun and interesting to see what is going on in the snow, the little scientist in me just cannot resist.

Digging pits is always fun! Exciting to results on CT at 1,2m depth, culprits being facets on ice

Digging pits is always fun! Exciting to results on CT at 1,2m depth, culprits being facets on ice.What is also interesting is that we actually got a result on ECT, propagating on a weak layer maybe 60cm down, also facets on crust. Photo by Andrea

We found fairly solid 1f wind slabs resting of sandwiches of facets and ice from the various rainstroms we were ”blessed” with earlier this year. It looks very similar to what we saw in Borgafjäll, and might turn out to be a problem when temperatures rise later in spring. Last year was plagued with similar ice layers and we saw big avalances in a lot of places.

Anyway, we kept going uphill and eventually reached treeline, where we called it quits due to increasingy wind affected snow turning into sastrugi and just general windyness.

Let's pretend the false summit is an actual summit, shall we?

Let’s pretend the false summit is an actual summit, shall we? Photo by Andrea

On the way down I caught an edge just at treeline, where the snow went from buttery to chalky to buttery and catchy again, all over just a few meters. First proper crash of the season, throwing me properly over the bars into full tomahawk and eventually planting me head down in the snow. Nothing torn, nothing broken but a sore neck for sure and a bit more cautious for the rest of that lap.

Of course I needed my revenge, and the laps are fairly short anyways, so we went up again.

Skinning in the lovely lovely sparse birches.

Skinning in the lovely lovely sparse birches.

In the end, we did three laps and I rode if not at the level I am used to at least not embarrassingly bad. Finishing the day with sauna and dinner was just perfect, and then straight home to bed. It was 930pm after all, an almost ungodly hour for us in the sick and tired club.

Big thanks to Andrea and Jen for putting up with me even when I was tired and whining about everything, and of course thanks to Henrik, Cilla and Lennart for a great day and evening in Grundfors.

This Easter showed me that I really am moving in the right direction, and soon bigger things might be on the horizon!

At least I got to ride my bike

Etiketter

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It’s a long time coming, but at last I am slowly getting better. While I work on a longer post about Easter, snowboarding, getting better and all that, in the mean time let me just say that today (and yesterday) I got to ride my bike. Even if it is just for an hour, it is a sure way to make any day a better day.

Photo credits to Andrea and her new fancy camera. And I need to work on my war face

Photo credits to Andrea and her new fancy camera. And I need to work on my war face.

Another month, more down days

Etiketter

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Yep, still not well. But I am making progress I think, it just happens to be painfully slow.

Last week I was able to ride my bike all 2km up to the garage four days straight, an unbelievable feat! I cannot describe how good it felt to get out and roll a bit, even if it is the most boring riding one could possibly come up with.

In the garage I busied myself with the bike belonging to a certain hungry hen, a 2012 Stumpy Evo if I recall correctly. Lots of trails have been ridden since 2012, and the bearings in the frame were due for a change. As anyone who ever attempted to change bearings in a Specialized FSR frame surely knows, the pivots below the rear axle are a pain to work with. Each of those pivots contains two bearings, pressed in one from each side so that there is no way of actually pressing them out, and since there is a washer in between they are also very hard to bang out with a screwdriver or something. After cursing for a while, I turned to google for answers and manufactured this:

Crude tool to pull beraings out of FSR seatstays

Crude tool to pull beraings out of FSR seatstays

Essentially it is an M10 screw with a split in it. I put it in the bearing at just the right depth and then bash a screwdriver in the split to open it up, thereby grabbing the inner race of the bearing. Then it is just a matter of getting the whole thing out, I do it by using a socket of appropriate size and a nut to pull out the bearing.

The bearing is now in the socket and not the seatstay, great success!

The bearing is now in the socket and not the seatstay, great success!

Outside of the garage the snow is melting fast now. The weather is unseasonably mild, but since I can’t go skiing anyway I’m not the one to complain. I have actually been able to do a couple of short sessions on the little bike, practicing track stands, hops and wheelies. Damn it feels good to be on a bike again! And today, for the first time in what feels like forever, I rode an actual trail. Granted it was 20m long and i was exhausted afterwards, but I did it! Now I just hope my health will come back in the same pace as the trails start to become rideable again!

Look, a trail!!!

Look, a trail!!!

That little bike is so much fun, it surprises me every time. I really look forward to the coming season, especially with the move up to Tromsö in the making. There might be other big news coming shortly, stay tuned!

One month later, down days continued

Yea, so a month has gone by with me practically wearing out the couch. I have finished off Command&Conquer, Red Alert, Civ2, Theme Hospital and the best part of Age of Empires 2 (that’s a damn hard game, by the way), and have now started with Red Alert 2. That’s about as fun, or not, as my life has been.

In the mean time we have had the weirdest winter ever, scary snowpack and 75 dead in avalanches in Europe so far. In Sweden there seem to have been a few truly fantastic (but oh so sketchy) days and between them lots and lots of crappy riding. If I got to choose one winter to not be able to ride, this one is a good candidate.

Today I was at the hospital (again) and the latest word is that I might suffer from post myocarditis. In pure English, this means that I may have had a light inflammation in the heart muscle (not as bad as it sounds) and now my body is healed but cannot really believe it and gives me all kinds of symptoms (way worse than it sounds).

Good or bad, at least for the first time I have some kind of educated guess about what is wrong. And the good thing is that it’s not dangerous, just tedious. And I think i just maybe possibly might be on the way towards recovery, today I even managed a proper walk in the sunshine. I cannot stress enough how good it felt after not being able to drag my bum off the couch for more than a month. YAY!

Ice and sun, on my own two feet!

Ice and sun, on my own two feet!

Down days

All quiet here, I’m sorry about that. The reason is that I have been mostly lying down for the last weeks, some weird post-Spain bug caught me and rendered me completely useless.

It’s times like these that make me realise how important good health and strenght is, and how often I have just taken it for granted. Waking up in the morning and not spending a second doubting that the body will cash whatever checks the mind has written, that is luxury. I hope to be back there soon.

In the mean time I read about snow science, bike suspension dynamics and play old computer game from the ninties.

Command and Conquer, state of the art 1996

Command and Conquer, state of the art 1996

Long term report, what works and what breaks

Etiketter

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After a fall season of more or less daily riding I have gathered a few impression about what seems to hold up. As a disclaimer, I am not a heavy guy. I am not a freerider either, even if I do the occasional jump or drop. What I am is a guy that rides lots, in big, rocky terrain. And when I decide to hit a line, I don’t think about possible bike damage. If I think I can do it without hurting myself, I do it. No consideration to bottomed out suspension, sharp rocks or big impacts is taken. And sometimes I run out of talent, leading to all kinds of damage-inducing events.

...and a bit of me!

Possibility for damage

Allright, with all that presentation out of the way, I will just tediously go through the specs piece by piece. If I by the end of this post have any readers left, maybe I will post a funny youtube video or something as a prize. So here goes…

The only pic I had of the bike with up to date spec

The only pic I had of the bike with up to date spec

Frame: Stumpjumper evo carbon. Yea, still in one piece (sort of). The upper headset bearing race is an aluminium affair glued into the carbon head tube. At some point it decided to let go of the frame and do its own thing.

I noticed by the paint cracking in a perfect circle a couple of millimeters below the top of the head tube, right in the intersection between carbon and aluminium. I glued it back with the strongest epoxy I could find and it seems fine, but time will tell…

Tubes and epoxy, trying to make head tube and headset race happy together

Inner tubes and epoxy, trying to make head tube and headset race happy together

Otherwise there is not much, a bunch of scratches in the once shiny paintwork, and that bent downtube is very prone to catch all sharp rocks flung up by the front wheel, which brings me neatly to…

Frame protection: Rockguardz. Brilliant piece of kit, 35quid to save my oh-shit-are-you-serious-priced frame. One smashed to delamination in three places, went on top of a new one that is now also showing signs of delamination in one spot. As I said, brilliant kit, but next time I will ask for a dh strength version. They are made to order, so it should be possible. The only niggle is that they don’t protect the stupidly routed cable underneith of the down tube, but on the other hand the cables are easily rerouted under the top tube and on the chain stays instead.

Rock fodder, the sensible choice in rocky terrain

Rock fodder, the sensible choice in rocky terrain

Squishy bits: Bos Deville 140mm forks from beginning of 2011 season, still going strong. Changed the seals for the second time in October, service is super straightforward. And in my opinion it is still better damped than all the shiny Pikes people tend to show up with these days. The Fox rear shock showed signs of tiredness and got replaced by a Monarch plus, and my impressions are very positive. No more compression spiking, and a rebound damping that actually does its job. More words in another post, this will be long enough as it is and is supposed to focus on longevity and not on performance.

Drivetrain: It seems like my Shimano SLX rear derallieur get sloppy in the clutch after a certain amount of rattling down rocky trails. I put a fresh one on before coming down to Spain in August, and replaced it mid October. It had developed a slop that no amount of clutch-tensioning seems to solve. It is the first time I actually wear out an RD before smashing it to bits, it has to say something about Shimanos clutches or my line choices. When it comes to the wear bits in the beginning of November I replaced the Mavic 10s chain I had been running since spring, and the brand new (xt) chain still meshes perfectly with the XT cassette, the Wolftooth 42t cog and the 32t N/W Raceface front ring. However, the OneUp 16t cog seems to be made of cheese, showing notable wear and not meshing with the chain even though it is the most recent addition to the drive train. Luckily it can be flipped, effectively doubling its short life. It messes up the shift ramps, but changing gear is still smooth enough for me. Anyway, a steel 16t cog would be better.

Clean and shiny with new chain and flipped 16t cog made of cheese

Clean and shiny with new chain and flipped 16t cog made of cheese. Somehow I managed to break a tooth of the big sprocket, but it does not seem to impact performance.

Upon coming home to Sweden, I flipped the front ring over since the teeth were showing some signs of wear. Double life again, I hope.

Brakes: I got my Saint brakes in September, and they have been perfect ever since (except for the rock that punctured the down tube routed hose, but I can’t blame the brakes for that). Pad life has been impressive to say the least. I changed the front pads in the beginning of November, after two solid months of riding, the rear ones are getting thin but do still work. On the front the new pads I mounted were some third party affair that seem to wear a lot faster than the real, expensive Shimano deal. Next time I will buy originals.

Wheels: Replaced the bearings in the old Hope front hub once this season, as I do every season. Old style Flow rim still holds up, front wheels in general seem to last well for me. On the rear I have the original Roval Traverse whatever wheel with DT hub internals and stupid straight pull spokes. I had to replace the rim with a Flow EX after a couple of months, the original one was just done. I chalk it up to wear and tear, I don’t suspect the Flow will last significantly better.

I snapped a couple of spokes during the season, but all was crash related. I truly detest working on that wheel, the aluminium (yes, that is how it is spelled dammit!) nipples always get a bit of friction in the threads and the spokes then turn in the hub instead of the nipple turning on the spoke, really annoying. If I ever go straight pull again, I will get bladed spokes so there is at least something to hold on to when the spokes start to spin. DT Swiss hub internals have been solid, just as expected, but I do miss the pickup of my old Kings.

Fresh Flows, partly worn french rubber, mint view

Fresh Flows, slightly worn french rubber, mint view

The other stuff seem to have made it just fine. The RaceFace Half Nelson grips seem to wear very slowly, as long as one uses proper bar end plugs (I have Hopes). Bottom bracket is still smooth, so are the headset bearings. Cranks, bars, stem and all that have made it, a bit scratched up but still solid. Anything else would be cause for serious internet bashing I guess. Even the pedals, E thirteens immensely grippy but expensive lg1, have made it with just a bit of chipping in the plastic and a little bit of play, not bad.

Time to hold on tight to those grips

Time to hold on tight to those grips

I serviced the KS Lev seatpost when I came home, since it was getting a little bit spongy. Now that I have done it a couple of times it is a painless and relatively quick procedure to replace the fluid and make sure the air is only in the right places. It is now back to being as smooth and solid as ever. It seems to be another one of those ”once in a season” things.

The Michelin WildRokr2 rubber has been holding up allright, even if especially the rear lost a bit of edge hold on loose surfaces towards the end of the stay in Spain. After two months of riding, I think that is fair.

To those who made it all the way, good work! Your boredom threshold is impressive indeed. Here you go, how about a picture from my current home turf?

Andrea catching me on one of my lunch ride trails

Andrea catching me on one of my lunch ride trails, small bike and everything.

Still not happy? How about a kitten so small she fits in my hand?

Little girl holding on tight with claws and everythig

Little girl holding on tight with claws and everythig

Memory lane, a bumpy ride

Etiketter

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While roaming the internets this morning I came across this:

It really made me think, and memories from last february came back. Many key factors from the tragic accident in Montana were the same as we had. We also had a touchy snowpack, were in low angle terrain, and I too triggered an upwards propagation that ultimately fractured way above us and brought half the hillside down. Therefore, I can truly say that this last accident in Montana could very well have been me. I lucked out, and for that I am grateful. I am even more grateful that Andrea and Maria made it out in one (admittedly quite badly beaten up) piece.

Spending all autumn doing skids and wheelies in Spain gave me some time to reflect, both on that specific incident and on life in general. In my naiveness and hurry to get back on the horse I thought that after the first weeks of introspection I had found closure and I had learned my lesson from what happened. It turns out, not very surprising, that there will probably will always be reason to go back to what happened that day and learn new lessons.

For now, I have realised that we should not have been where we were, even if I still believe that given our being there, we did most things right until we let our guard down. However, by going on that exploratory mission we put ourselves in an unnecessarily difficult situation, calling upon acute on point observation and decision making. In effect, by going on exploration instead of just heading to known terrain when the snow was touchy and visibility was poor at best, we put all trust in our ability to make the exact right calls in spite of difficult circumstances.

A more conservative approach would have been to head over to more familiar terrain. If we knew every little cliff, dip and rise in our surroundings, our decision making would still be just as crucial, but much easier to execute.

With this in mind, I hope to never forget about that day, when I nearly lost two friends (and myself), and that I will still learn new things from that experience for a long time.

I can only begin to imagine the feeling of shoveling out your touring partner from almost 2m depth after seeing him or her getting swept, and my heart goes out to everyone involved in the accident at Henderson Mountain. I cannot exaggerate my selfish happiness and gratitude that when I was in that situation, my friends and partners Andrea and Maria made it out, thank you so much girls!

Team AMM picture from the Bonneville salt flats, UT. Courtesy of David

Team AMM picture from the Bonneville salt flats, UT. Courtesy of David. There is nothing like a salt desert for making all pics look like album covers. Except for our funny faces, that is.

A wee trip to Motril

Etiketter

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To kill my ongoing cold I decided to tag along on a trip down to Motril, a little more than an hour’s drive away from Monachil. The plan was to check out the downhill track, do a couple of laps and just have a good time.

It turned out that some riding was just what I needed. (Surprise surprise!) In the morning I felt like roadkill, but the further the day went the better I got. The track was really good, dusty and flowy with good jumps and drops, and a couple of steep sections thrown in as well. Like La Zubia, but more technical, steeper and more fun. I like! I managed to grab a couple of pics of parts of the gang, thanks for letting me come along!

Mainly jumps and dust

Mainly jumps and dust

A bit of climbing

A bit of climbing

A bit of air

A bit of air

A bit of steep

A bit of steep

...and a bit of me!

…and a bit of me!

And the new shock? So far, promising. No spiking, controlled rebound, lots of traction. No harsh bottoming out, but I did bottom it with 33% sag. It was well deserved though, landing and g-out. I will elaborate more on the subject when the jury is back in.

Finally, some new toys

Etiketter

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What is black, chubby and fully user serviceable?

Fat vs skinny, black vs gold

Fat vs skinny, black vs gold

To give just a little bit more stick to this dead horse, I was never quite happy with the stock Fox ctd factory trail adjust boost valve kashiblingbling (puh) shock on the Stumpy. A wallowy but yet spiky compression feel and a rebound that felt either too fast on big compression or too slow in the beginning of the stroke, supplemented by severe heating issues and more or less lockout in midstroke during longer descents have me suspecting that it might need service or something. I did an air can service, including new seals, but to no avail. It will be interesting to see if a proper service and Push tuning can sort it out. I refuse to believe that everyone can ride with such crappy performance without complaining. Or am I just overly sensitive? Might well be, I’m used to big downhill shocks or Bos, maybe I am just spoiled.

Anyway, after a lot of looking around at last I got my hands on the very elusive Rockshox Monarch Plus RC3 DebonAir 2015 (seriously, who comes up with these names?) with the silly proprietary Specialized mounting system. For under 350€, it seems to represent very good value indeed compared to the competition; The Fox Float X is north of 700€, and so is the Bos Kirk (and out of those two, I know for sure which one I would blow my money on). The new Marzocchi 053 S3C2R (seriously? That must be the worst name for a rear shock ever, or at least since the Roco that everyone misspells as the name of a sing long retired old male adult film contributor with a very specific niche) is around 500€ which is right in between, but reliability is unproven, availability is nil and performance unknown.But it looks sharp.

Not that any of this matters, since for us stuck with Specialized and their proprietary mounting there is only the choice between a Float CTD, the Monarch+ or trying to bodge together the CTD with a stock FloatX, apparently Mojo can do it but total price is like two or three Monarch+, so why bother.

There we go, Monarch Plus it is. Mounted on the bike, and with 11 13 bars in the air can (160 188 psi for those of you who are still imperial) I get a nice 33% sag. (I had to edit the pressure figures, as it turns out that the negative chamber is huge and by the time they had equalised and everything was in balance I had added air four times in half bar increments). The car park bounce test in the open setting suggests a lively feel with nice progression towards the end stroke, but of course extensive trail time is needed to say anything proper. If I can just leave my cold behind and become a proper functioning person again, I might even do some back to back tests with the ctd to see what is what. Maybe tomorrow…

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