Monday, 26 March 2012


Two weeks of rain plus dirt equals mud. So I let the Nomad gather a little more dust this Sunday and joined Spangles for some city urban riding shizzle and beers. Not quite the training regime I image will get me ready for 8 Hours of Boggs... but still, a fine way to spend a day.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bike Skillzzz

I've been feeling pretty burnt recently. Crunch time on the next summer blockbuster means long hours right now and a frazzled brain. Riding has been good, but I've only managed once a week, at best, at one of the usual haunts. Just ticking over really. Still, when the fellas at Bikeskills announced they were putting on a clinic at Tamarancho, I had to check it out. I've been wanting to do one of their clinics for a while, and the chance to learn how to improve my Strava times at one of our favourite loops was too good to pass up. So Saturday morning, a little bleary eyed, I joined a rag tag bunch of fellow mountain bikers at the Java Hut carpark in Fairfax, ready to get my learn on!

The course was lead by Jason Van Horn and Ian Massey – two incredibly skilled riders and lovely guys to boot. We were in good hands! We started the clinic in the carpark, practicing track stands and lifting over curbs and looking at body position. This gave us a chance to warm up our Kung Fu and for the instructors to check out our rides. I’ve been having front brake woes since a recent crash on Lawndale, so the Nomad wasn’t exactly ship shape. But aside from that Ian spotted some subtle, but significant tweaks could be made to my setup to help my riding. Rotating my bars slightly forward and increasing the rebound rate on my shock meant I was set up for a more aggressive rider position, and my bike would respond better to the rough trail instead of wallowing in sag. Getting this sort of feedback and tinkering from an expert eye is one of the many reasons I love signing up for clinics like this. There’s no way I’d ever notice this stuff by myself.

After the carpark drills, it was time to hit a few key Tamarancho features to go over some fundamentals. I still struggle with tight uphill switchbacks but seeing good technique demonstrated and explained helped a lot. Keep the front wheel wide - as wide as possible and apply power on the apex to overcome the incline and set up for the exit. Getting out of the saddle and using trackstand balance also helps – something I’m guilty of not doing enough.  We then did some corner work. I’ve started to feel my cornering slowly come together over the past few months, but watching Ian and Jason carve and rail made me realise there’s still a few key ingredients missing. Jason explained the importance of a low, exaggerated stance. Keeping your head and weight low allows you to push the inside bar, and therefore the front wheel into the dirt. It also sets you up for a nice pump out of the turn. After a few attempts I could feel and hear it. My front tyre making a satisfying sound as it bit into the trail. This also seems to be the key to hitting downhill switchbacks with speed too. Following the guys, I was amazed at how quickly they railed the tight curves. The same dropping, carving and pumping motion was the secret. I definitely feel inspired to get out and  work on it for myself.

After working on some of the trickier, technical features of ‘Rancho – including the big rock (still didn’t clean it… but at least know the theory of how to clean it) it was time to head back. A spirited descent back down Alchiemist finished an awesome day of learning. I wish my head wasn’t quite so fried from working so much. But some golden nuggets of info managed to stick. I’m just itching to get back out on the bike and put them into practice!

Sunday, 11 March 2012


Every now and again I like to relieve my trusty Orange hardtail from it's commuting duties and go for a decent spin around the city. With my Nomad in the shop having brake work done, today ended up being one of those days. Recently primped and preened with some nice, slimline tires and awesome little "Exposure Lights" commuters, the Orange is looking like a true urban warrior. And she's still  a heck of a ride. Sometimes what the soul needs is to get out, enjoy the fresh Pacific air and lay down some miles just for the pure fun of riding a bike.