so I get this message, fancy riding with Jens Voigt next weekend...
I have a friend that I've known for many years thats a bit mad, I don't mean mad in a bad way, quite the contrary, he just seems to pack so much into his days I can't believe he can keep going like he does. Stuart Grace is a sail maker by day and charity fundraiser at all other times, having a daughter with Epilepsy, ADHD and learning disabilities for over 17 years, and has a relative receiving care at a hospice, quite how he finds the time to go fundraising I do not know.
For the last 5 years he has organised a fantastic event in the New Forest called the Shut Up Legs Charity Bike Ride. It's put on to raise money for the Epilepsy Society plus a few other worthy charities. Local shops and international companies provide prizes but it's the star in the form of Super Domestique Jens Voigt that gives the event its name, you see "Shut Up Legs" is Jens's saying, like when you have to dig super deep to keep going. If you don't know who he is look him up, he's probably one of the toughest riders ever and definitely one of the nicest riders on the planet.
So Stuart calls me up saying there is a spare place available if I want to ride, little did he know that until about 4 days earlier I did not possess a road bike. So off I go on Saturday to do 52 miles riding in a group of 10 riders, (they split the riders into 10 groups of about 10 in each group). I'm on a old Trek Carbon bike of the Lance Armstrong era, with some massive gearing and super twitchy race geometry. I also looked a bit of a tool with a MTB lid with the peak removed, hairy legs, and Mountain Bike shoes & pedals, but I made up for that with a super tight pair of bib tights that was Jens old team kit and a Small Sticky Pod in my jersey pocket with 2 bottles on the bike instead of my usual hydration bag. It's quite special to be on a ride in the New Forest on a lovely day with a nice bunch of people and then having Jens Voigt pull up next to you for a chat whilst you admire the scenery.
After the ride there was a raffle to raise a few more pounds with some amazing prizes followed by a photo and signing with the great man himself. I took the opportunity to give Jens something and he seemed genuinely happy with the Custom Nox Sox Pedal Covers that I had had printed with his "Shut Up Legs" tag line, plus I also gave him a Sticky Pod because no rider should be without one, although he did say he reckoned his kids will nab that off of him. The day was finished off with a Q and A with Jens, he was very witty and wanted interesting questions that he hasn't been asked before. If you believed the stereotype that Germans don't have a sense of humour you were in for a surprise. So that was my day, spent with a lovely bunch of people and a true legend plus I was lucky to be sent some pictures by Michael S Marks for proof that I didn't make the whole thing up, as if.
If you would like to donate to Stuart Grace's Just Giving page click here...www.justgiving.com/stuart-grace2/4w350m3/donate?cbuster=636401544148106831#MessageAndAmount
It's been a painful couple of months being out of Sticky Pods but that ended on Friday when a nice man from FedEx delivered boxes of stock fresh from Miles Wide Industries in the US of A.
Also in is a MK2 version of Sticky Fingers, they are covers for your brake levers to improve grip and control, plus making them less cold in extreme temperatures, they also come in 7 colours to brighten up your bike.
Wet Seal is a lube to keep your suspension units and dropper seat post moving smoothly, the new bottle now has a pipette to allow for easier application and is a must have product for anyone that wants to keep their bike in good order.
And an all new product in the form of the Fork Cork was the most exciting new product to come in, its a bung that fits in the hole in the bottom of your suspension fork, it keeps mud and crud out plus due to the design allows easy removal so you can use the fork steerer tube as a storage device, its so neat everyone should have one.
It was decided that it was high time that myself and my good friend Thomas take my tandem out for a ride on the heath, we thought it would be great to film it after seeing Seths & Phil's MTB Tandem Adventure on YouTube, so armed with a few cameras and another friend in the form of Ian from the Dorset Rough Riders to help with the filming we convened at my house to discuss the plan.
Now the reason I got the tandem in the first place was to get my wife riding with me more, Diane was apprehensive about the idea well before I finally found a MTB tandem thinking she would be terrified, I blindly thought that things would be very different but this is one instance where I should have listened to my wife, as it turned out that one whimpering ride was enough for her, if only I did that before I upgraded the brakes/wheels/drivetrain/cockpit components and suspension fork, I even tried to get her to ride as captain and I would be the stoker, well we traveled about 5 feet and stopped as she could not get it to go in a straight line, tandems do feel different with the steering but with the handlebars swinging left to right at a speed so fast it became a blur it was clear this wasn't working either, so I got back on the front and Diane reluctantly climbed back on to whimper her way back to the house, I must say that the whimpering was unnecessary as I was taking it very easy but its easy to say that when its not you hanging onto the back of a bike with no brakes, a handlebar that doesn't move, pedals seemingly with a mind of there own, and a view of not a lot apart from the back of the rider in front.
So after watching Seths vid, see here as its ace youtu.be/MH9zTVJJ_Yw Tom and I said lets get the tandem out sometime, but we will wait till after our trip to Moab, just in case, you know, something silly happens, hmm, we must have sensed something, so we get ready to ride for the first time down the lane from the house to the heath, Toms on the back and I'm steering, well it was a wobbly start, and I had a bit of the left right lefts going just like Diane had with me, turns out if the person at the back doesn't pedal at least as hard as the pilot the person at the front doing all the work can suddenly have more to deal with than just everything else, plus to add a touch of jeopardy we also had two Hungarian Vizsla dogs to contend with, they are proper trail dogs and know not to get in the way but none the less when you don't even know where you are steering it added to the challenge early on.
Steering now sorted we cracked on riding and soon enough we were at our first challenge, tackled on a normal bike its hardly anything, a gravel track down a slope that divides before coming back together and then onto a bend with a short bank to ride over, so after riding to the top we set off plunging down the hill before turning onto the gravel track, its at that point I realise that even with 203mm rotors all round stopping suddenly becomes an impossibility, slowing yes, stopping no, thoughts of my first bike, some hunk of junk shopper type, with brake pads with bits of leather in the rubber to I assume dry the chrome rims when they got wet sprung to mind, but this time I'm threading a tandem down a track with Tom along for the ride, its at that point the whimpering returned, although it was more of nervous laughter with a dash of panic about it, but we made it down and stopped to reset for another shot laughing uncontrollably at the sketchiness of it all, but this time I asked Tom if he wanted to pilot and I jumped on the back, well I have to say I think he did better than me piloting, although that might be to do with my pillion skills, or at least thats what I'm telling myself.
So we had both ridden the tandem at this point and thats when the suggestion that Ian have a go on the back came up, in hindsight we should have ridden for a few more miles and had Ian get the feel before plunging down the narrow track but we were buzzing and wanted Ian to have a laugh as well, so off we go once more, this time I'm up front and Ian is on the back, up the hill we go once again, we turn at the top and start the ride down to the narrow track, no whimpers this time, Ian seems to be relaxed and trusting of my biking skills, this is when things then go very wrong and very quickly, heading down the track it splits and rejoins, I was planning to ride the path to the right as we had done before but it wasn't turning tight enough and it was looking that we would be riding right over a grassy clump with a more abrupt drop after it, so seeing as stopping in time was out of the question I thought we will just have to roll with it and so bars held tightly I hoped for the best..... I managed to hold the handlebars straight as we rode off the grassy clump however the forks and front wheel had other ideas, a very sharp squeak can be heard in the video as the fork steerer slipped on the handlebar stem, turns out tight isn't tight enough when it comes to a bike with double the weight on it, so with the front wheel at 90deg to the handlebars this was only going to end one way and down we came with a thump, poor Ian let out a very large groan as he hit the deck, this is when you have one of those massive pangs of guilt, I did this I thought, poor Ian on the ground and clutching his chest clearly in a lot of pain, I don't think that if Ian ever thought about how he would be leaving this world it would have been on the back of a tandem on Canford Heath, and me being someone that doesn't like messing up other peoples plans was relived to see that although very sore he would live to ride again, just this time in charge and on a bike made for one.
Check out the video below and don't forget to comment, you can do so here and on YouTube.
Well it's been taking longer than I hoped but the revised Sticky Pods are not far off, hopefully not more than a few weeks, it will be worth the wait though, with a new side zip for the clear phone pouch allowing for easier removal of your phone or anything else you put in there.
On the other side the lower pocket will be stitched down the middle dividing the pocket into two narrower pockets, this will work better for holding tyre levers and co2 canisters upright in the pouch.
Lastly, there is a new Sticky Pod to join the family, its called the Micro and comes in a couple of colourful camo finishes, I reckon these little pods will prove popular due to the compact size and although they won't hold as much as the Small and Large pods, they will be ideal for smaller pockets, will work nicely as a secondary pouch and maybe the perfect Pod for the younger generation getting into the sport we love.
Its exciting times when we get riders that can really put our products through a real pasting, Tom is a very talented rider, and someone that covers a very broad range of bikes, I don't think there is many riders that can go bike packing for weeks in the wilderness and also ride Downhill Mountain Bikes, Unicycles, and is very handy on a Trials bike, so he is well placed to test our products in a very wide range of conditions.
Oh and did I mention he is Skills Coach, check out his website http://www.carbon-monkey.co.uk for more about Tom and his skills courses.
Well it's been a long time coming, my old site had served me well but the time had came to change to a more flexible website, this new site will allow for Credit Card payment as well as PayPal, plus will also allow for discount codes, something that I will be rolling out on special occasions, keep your eyes peeled for them.
Because it's a new site but using our existing domain names and the fact that I have had to start again there might be the odd glitch, please let me know on firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot anything wrong, you would be doing me a big favour and for that I thank you, I love my customers and some think I'm all right as well.
My good friend and owner of Miles Wide Industries sent me his latest products for me to check out today and I have to say I'm very excited to use them and show them off.
First up is the Fork Cork, now this is rather special to me as it was my idea originally but I didn't have the ability to make it a reality, my thoughts was that I hated the fact that most cycle forks have a dirty great hole in the bottom of them, and what happens when we go riding in the shitty weather... it collects mud, so I suggested making a new version of the original Crud Bung that appeared back in the early 90s, but one that would work with modern forks with tappered steerers, so I asked Miles what he thought, well that was probably about 2 years ago, and every now and again he would fill me in on how he was getting on. To be honest I thought it would never happen, it very quickly became apparent that a bit of plastic shoved up the steerer wasn't going to work on the vast array of new gen forks, unlike the straight steerers of the 90s the tappered ones we use just spat the bung back out, a re thought was in order.
Now this is one of the things that amazes me about people like Miles, they can think in a way that I simply can't, Miles was not content with just a simple bung, he had grander ideas, and after many designs and several 3D printed prototypes he has nailed it, using Bike wheels legends Industry Nine to produce the Fork Cork, we have a truly clever USA made product that with a simple twist of the gold dial it tightens up in the base of the fork, not only stopping mud from collecting up there but allowing you to store whatever you can stuff up there, my next few weeks are going to be taken up with me seeing just how much I can get in there.
The second product he sent me was a revised pair of Sticky Fingers, the new ones have dropped the Sticky Fingers text and little dots and gone with a caped end design plus added some little groves to allow your fingers a better purchase on the levers, now my levers are Shimano XTR and very short so I did have to cut them down but they slipped on snugly after a little help on with a spray of disc cleaner.
As myself and a couple of riding buddies are going to Moab in a couple of months I will be able to test out the features of better more comfortable braking and protecting the other bikes my brake levers will be jammed against in a fun 10 days traveling in a RV