Early this May, Jo went for his third trip to Israel. This time to co-coach with Tal (the man behind sababike.com) a three days skill session for local riders planning to visit the Alps.

Despite some crazy heat, the session went great and all of the 12 participants made some impressive improvement.

Johan Hjord pop by and snapped a few photos, here are some of them:

Working 3

That’s how you do it.

Dual 1

Just like that

Course 4

…While the coaches are having a break!

 

 

This year, for a few reasons,  I’ve decided to build one do-it-all bike instead of one enduro and one downhill bike.

It has to be stable and suspended for the lift assisted riding we do over the summer in the Portes du Soleil but still be a reasonable climber for… the rest of the year!

With its adjustable head angle, 160mm of DW link managed travel and carbon frame, the new RFX ticked all the boxes.

Jo 8

Here’s how I built mine:

Frame 2016 XL RFX, with FSA Option headset (65°)

Fork Pike RCT3, 160mm , Fast Suspension compression cartridge and custom stickers.

Wheels Hope Enduro with Pro4 hubs

Brakes Hope E4 Tech3, 200mm/180mm, floating rotors

Crankset Hope 170mm with 30t spider ring and Hope press fit BB

Seatpost Yep Uptimizer HC 150mm

Bar Alpha 780x30mm

Stem Hope AM 35mm

Grips ESI Fit CR

Saddle Tioga Outland (test version)

Chainguide OneUp

Pedals Hope F20

Shifter Sram X1

Chain+K7 Sram X1 10/42

Derailleur Sram GX

Tyres Michelin Wild Rock’R2 Advanced Reinforced
Total weight: 14kg

A massive “thank you” to Turner, Hope, Fast and Yep for their long running support.

Last weekend, I raced the Catalan’duro, a local enduro race organised by the Catalan’s Team VTT around the small village of Corbère. It was a great sucess with more than 300 racers at the start, ready to ride flat out on the 6 technical AND physical stages… enduro as it should be!

Race over, I went online hoping to find that elusive photo of me shredding a turn Sam Hill style…I didn’t find it ! But I couldn’t help noticing quite a range of positions amongst my fellow racers… professional habit I guess !

So here’s a little selection of photos with a short analysis, I hope it will help you improve your flat corner skills and also answer the classic question : «  tuition for my kids/partner, sure but why would I get some when I am already a racer? ».

All shots are from the same corner (stage 6), after a big step so you would get there with plenty of speed… and exhaustion (last stage) !

NB : if you are one of the racers on these photos and don’t want it published here, let me know and I’ll delete it ASAP (they were already on FB though).

To make a bike turn at speed, the most effective way is to lean it, which means that the rider must find a position which allows him/her to lean the bike without losing balance but also keep enough freedom of movement to manage the pressure of the tyres on the ground.

CD 1

Ex1 : the top half of the body is commited to the corner (good eye anticipation), but the bike is still standing up, it’s not turning and the rider is going to have to hit the brakes which might compromise his balance.

What to do ? Lean the bike in by streching the inside arm.

CD 2

Ex2 : Foot out without a need for it, the bike is standing up and is not going to slide here… even less turn ! The rider can’t use his legs anymore to push on the pedals or accelerate… you can actually see a bit of panic in his eyes !

What to do ? Keep the feet on the pedals and better anticipate the braking to avoid coming into the corner too fast.

CD 3

Ex3 : The upper body is facing the outside of the corner, the hips are leaning with the bike, the rider isn’t in a balanced/comfortable position but also can’t put pressure efficiently on his outside pedal/tyres, it is also limiting how much he can lean the bike in.

What to do ? Push the backside out so the hips are facing the exit of the turn and end up above the outside pedal .

CD 4

Ex4 : Knees hugging the top tube stop the rider from leaning the bike but most of all he can’t use his legs to « work » the terrain.

What to do ? Spread the knees to let the bike move, have some room to lean it and unlock the leg joints.

CD 6

Ex5 : The position isn’t bad if you consider that the rider is about to lean his bike… and stop staring at the photographer! His outside pedal is too low, too early though. In this position, you can’t use your legs to absorb the bumps of the ground or put pressure on the rear tyre for to brake better, also, the large amplitude isn’t necessary here and is going to slow down how quickly the rider can pedal again.

What to do ? Keep the pedals level until the bike is getting into the turn… stop looking at the camera!

Geo Buisan

Ex6: Geoffrey Buisan, from the Intense Les Angles DH team, has been cutting his teeth at the DH World Cup this year. You can clearly see how much he his leaning the bike, the head upright, the upper body facing the exit, hips above the outside pedal, right knee pushing against the top tube for extra stability and the outside pedal sligtly lower… it went so fast that the photographer missed his head!

What to do? Duck your head down!

Sylvain Buisan

Ex7 : Sylvain Buisan, Geoffrey’s cousin and teammate. The position is a tiny bit more « new school », the bike is still leant a lot, the head still up and looking for the exit but the body is leaning with the bike a bit more and the feet more leveled, one can imagine that Sylvain has let the bike sled into the small rut and his about to push hard on both legs to exit the corner even faster than he came in !

What to do ? Shout « braaap » !!

Now, it’s your turn ! Grab your bike, find a flat open space (preferably grassy, it won’t sting as much if you push it too far!) and link a few turns. Try to film/photograph yourself or get a friend to and compare with the above shots…how low can you go ?!

I have been riding with a Rock Shox Pike solo air 160mm on my Turner Burner since last year. I originally choose this fork because it works great straight out of the box, is light but stiff and is also pretty easy to service. Although the fork works very well, I have never been really happy with the low speed compression adjuster. If you want the fork not to dive too much under braking or when the trail gets steep, you have to nearly fully close the knob, which affects the grip in the wrong way. I also have no use for the pre-set compression setting which allows you to lock the fork (the best way to hit the descent with a still locked fork in my opinion).

So I was pretty excited when Fast Suspension announced their new compression kit for the Pike. Very similar to their DH offering, it is essentially a “proper” compression piston with 24 clicks for low and high speed fine tuning. The kit is machined/assembled and fitted in-house in Brittany.

The result on the trail is amazing! It feels very similar to a DH fork, to the point that the rear suspension (and sometimes the rider) struggles to keep up when the trail gets rough. You get a fork which stays high and is very confidence inspiring, but without compromising the grip. It obviously takes a bit more time and patience to find the “sweet spot” but it’s definitely worth it! So if you’re looking to improve the way your fork works and have no interest in the lock out option, go for it! You won’t recognise your fork afterwards.

Fast Suspension Pike

My “Fasted” Pike.

Jo went back to Israel in April for the second edition of the Pro Guide Workshop.

Organised by Sababike, the goal of the 4 day workshop was to help the participants improve their technical teaching skills. Once again, everyone left with a smile and a bunch of fresh ideas to use during their future sessions!

Thank you to Tal@Sababike for putting this together and his hospitality and to all the participants.

pro guide workshop

desert mtb ride

No trip to Israel without a desert ride!

BPW, located in South Wales, 3 hours away from London, is the brand new bikepark created by Rowan Sorrell (ex-world cup racer, skills coach and trail builder) and his crew. This is not just another trail centre that you can find around Wales or Scotland, but a proper bikepark very similar to what you can ride in the Alps. Uplifts, DH tracks, cleaning area and even a coffee/bike shop… everything a Mtb gravity rider could wish for!

On holiday in the area, I couldn’t resist the appeal! You can buy your day pass (£6) online to save queuing on the day, you can also book a spot in a Vito for the uplifts. Unfortunately, due to the school holidays, the vans were fully booked… nevermind, I don’t mind climbing. I figured I’d book an enduro bike and have a go.

On D day the weather is… typical for Wales in October! 10°C, drizzle and mist at the top of the hill, maybe climbing up on the bike isn’t such a bad idea after all! After picking up my day pass it’s time to pick up my rental bike from the shop and… damn! Despite my 2 emails, the brakes on my bike are the wrong way around (for somebody from the continent that is)! I can empathise with the British riders who come on holiday to mainland Europe and struggle to explain that “no really, I can’t ride like this”… after an (excellent) coffee, I finally get my bike set up and head up the hill.

Bikepark Wales dirty

Wet!

 First good surprise, I thought I would climb on a fire road, but nope, a lovely singletrack with some nice turns and few little challenges have been built next to the big track, making the climb as pleasant as possible. Next nice surprise, like the rest of the trails in the bikepark, this trail is built to be rideable whatever the weather (BPW is open 363 days a year), so even under the rain, you don’t have to struggle with mud everywhere!

After 30mins of steady climbing (later on, I would use the start of the singletrack until it meets the 4×4 and then continue on the fire road; not so fun but a lot quicker), I get to the start of the runs, and I was spoilt for choice. With 2 blues, 2 reds and 2 blacks, each of them cut in 3 sections by the fire road , you can ride all the way down or climb back up from half way down. During my day, and despite a couple of stops at the workshop, I managed to do 4 and a half runs, riding all the blues and reds. I stayed away from the blacks, not feeling equipped for it, especially in that weather.

Bikepark Wales start sign

The sign at the top of the runs; everything you need to know!

 The runs are completely artificial but so well shaped that there is never a dull moment! The blues feel like giant downhill pumptracks and the reds keep the same flow but with a few jumps/roots/rock gardens thrown in to spice things up a little… brilliant!

Bikepark Wales trail sign

There is a sign like this at the start of each run, describing what’s ahead, so there are no surprises…

 The work done by the shapers is impressive, they’ve worked really well with the natural slope so you don’t need to brake much and as a result there are hardly any braking bumps… after a summer in the Portes du Soleil, it’s quite refreshing! The dirt used is also very grippy so, even in the wet, you can ride fast without worrying about sliding all over the place… woohoo !

Bikepark Wales red

A red run (with a shy bird of prey flying away!)

 So, if you fancy a bit of downhill fun, don’t hesitate for a second (but take your own bike with you if you can). Even if BPW is more DH oriented, it’s great to ride with an enduro bike. It’s also the occasion to see what you can achieve without a big gradient but with a sheer amount of will (and hardwork), well done!!

Bikepark Wales Rowan

Rowan 1/Wheel barrow 0!