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.
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.
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!
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 !
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!!
Rowan 1/Wheel barrow 0!
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The wet weather this July hasn’t stopped us from riding, but the conditions do take their toll on the bike and the rider. Here are a few tips which should make your muddy rides easier for you and your steed… you might even start to prefer it!
Adapt your kit, a rain jacket + trousers will keep you reasonably dry (make sure not to over dress underneath to avoid condensation) and most of all will keep your clothes clean… your washing machine will be thankful for it! To clean your rain kit, hose it down before taking it off and Bob’s your uncle!
What we use: Patagonia Torrentshell jacket + trousers
Keep the extremities warm, Merino wool socks are a must and a pair of neoprene gloves (not too thick) will make a big difference when the temperature drops.
What we use: Seal Skinz socks, Mavic Cyclone gloves
Keep your vision clear, it’s the biggest problem and unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect solution, but a dry clean cloth kept in your sleeve will allow you to wipe your glasses/goggles every time you stop.
Do not hose your muddy shoes or they will never dry again! Just let them dry (you can stuff them with newspaper) and then brush the dry mud off.
Use the right lubricant, use a wet conditions lubricant before you go out. A silicon lubricant applied to your frame (kept away from the brakes!) will stop the mud sticking on it… at least for a while! After your ride, lube every nook and cranny of your bike (transmission and suspensions of course but also suspension knobs, shifters, brake levers,…).
What we use: Muc Off Wet Lub and GT85
A small mudguard under the arch of your fork will keep most of the projection away but will also protect your fork’s joints.
What we use: Marsh guard
Mud tyres make a massive difference! If you don’t have the budget or if you need to pedal, change just the front tyre, you will feel a lot more in control.
What we use: Maxxis Wet scream or Specialized Hillbilly
You can make a small “cover” for your rear brake caliper to stop the mud getting in (mud means pads wearing more quickly and pistons getting dirty), I personally use some blister plastic (Hope’s brake pads do a great job!)
Here is a posh example :
photo by: my-new-stuff.com
Choose different lines from usual to avoid the biggest obstacles (roots, ruts,…), don’t be afraid of staying away from the most obvious line to find “clean” spots to brake and turn.
Keep some pressure on your front wheel to get the most grip out of it.
Keep your braking smooth.
Stay loose on the bike.
Speed is (still) your friend! If you ride too slow, your tyres are going to clog and you won’t move at all anymore… remember to keep your braking smooth though!
Well equipped, riding in the mud is fun… and there’s only one way to get better at it – get out and ride!!
For their 20th anniversary, Turner Bikes has created a special edition of the Burner, their first model, here is how I built mine:
*Frame Size & Color: Large Burner, Polished
* Rear Shock: Fox Float CTD Factory
* Fork: Rock Shox Pike Solo air/160mm
* Brakes: Hope E4 Race, 203/183mm
* Shifter: Sram X.9
* Cranks: Shimano SLX with Hope Bash and 24/34 chainrings
* Chainguide: custom
*Front Derailleur: Sram X.9
* Rear Derailleur: Sram X.9 type2
* Pedals: Hope F20
* Stem: Hope 50mm
* Handlebar: Renthal Fat bar Lite
* Seatpost: Yep Uptimizer ST
* Saddle: Fizik Gobi
* Cassette: Sram 11/36* Headset: Hope
* Grips: Renthal Kevlar
* Tires: Michelin Wild Rock R’ 2 reinforced Magic’X&Gum’X
* Rims: Flow EX 27.5″
* Hubs: Hope Pro2 Evo
The bike rides amazingly, DO believe the hype, 27.5″ wheels carry a ton of speed through the rough and the low BB is brilliant in corners. A massive thank you to Turner Bikes, Hope and Yep components for their help.
Here come my new DH beast! Low, slack and with finely tuned suspensions, this thing is FAST!
Here is the detailed build :
*Frame Size & Color: Large DHR, Orange anodised
* Rear Shock: Elka Stage 5, Ti spring
* Fork: Boxxer Race with Fast CO3 cartridge and black stanchion
* Brakes: Hope V4, 203/203mm floating rotors
* Shifter: Sram X.9
* Cranks: Race Face Atlas
* Chainguide: Shimano Saint
* Rear Derailleur: Sram X.9 type2
* Pedals: Hope F20
* Stem: Hope integrated
* Handlebar: Renthal cut to 760mm
* Seatpost: Easton EA70
* Saddle: Reverse
* Bottom Bracket: Hope
* Chainring: Race Face Single 36t
* Cassette: Sram 11/26
* Headset: Hope
* Grips: Renthal
* Tires: Maxxis Minion F, 2.7, ST
* Rims: Mavic EX721
* Hubs: Hope Pro2
The Pleney has just released its official opening dates for the summer 2014… and here are also the new liftpasses prices.
The (brand new) cable will open from the 14th of June to the 7th of September.
2014’s Portes du Soleil lift passes prices: tarifs pds 2014
We have teamed up with one of the very best chalet companies in Morzine (More Mountain), to offer you a great week of guided mountain biking this summer, the MoreAbility week! Treat yourself to top class accommodation and improve your riding skills whilst discovering the best of the Portes du Soleil.
I’ve just got my Boxxer back from Fast Suspension… and it’s had a few nice tweaks!
The standard stanchions have been changed for some custom black ones, stiffer and more importantly with less friction than the original ones. Internally the CO2 open cartridge I used to run has been upgraded to the new CO3. This new version keeps the key features of the former one, open bath and all parts machined in-house in Brittany but with an added external adjuster for high speed compression via a very neat push/pull knob. To finish it off, I had a set of custom moto stickers made by Slik Graphics… bring on the summer!