Thursday, October 25, 2007

Active Brits are back.. with new bikes.. well some of us..

Well we've all had one hell of a mad summer and havent had the time to scratch our arses let alone keep up to date with the blog..

Anyway, so what has been goin on for the last few months.. stacks and stacks of work, biking on the British mountains as often as possible and a big holiday to the USA for 3 of the Active Brits crew.. ohh yes.. and myself (psychs) and Weeman are now part of the 'Tribe'. We have just both bought YETI575 frames and are creating a couple of superbikes after saving about 3 years wages...We hope to hit the trails on them by the middle of November brandishing Muck Off and polishing rags ;o) .. yerrr right...

Psychs rig:

YETI 575 Carbon Anodised Black XL

Rockshox Air U-Turn 100-140mm forks
Chris King Threadless Headset with Titanium Base
XTR Crankset
XTR Chain
XTR Cassette
XTR Front Mech
SRAM XO Carbon Rear Mech
SRAM XO Carbon Shifters
HOPE M4 Hydraulic Brakes and Discs
HOPE Hubs on Mavic Rims
HOPE Skewers
Panaracer FireXC Pro Tyres
Thompson Masterpiece Seatpost
HOPE Seatpost Clamp
Thompson X4 Elite Stem 100mm 10degree rise
Sunline V-One Carbon Riser Bars
SDGBel Air Titanium Saddle
V12 Magnesium Pedals
Spank Ltd Edt Chocolate Lock on Grips

All i got to do now is work for the next 10 years.....

Anyway, for those of you that have FACEBOOK we've started a group off for fellow 'ACTIVE BRITS' called 'ACTIVE BRITS MOUNTAIN BIKING'.. Its an open group so if you are a mountain biker in Great Britain get yourself on it and show the world what this great island has to offer.. plus meet some like mided people..

Respect to you all..

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Music video of the month: Beck - Loser

Tunage video of the month goes to a total classic from Beck... its time to g a little retro.. doesn't need any introductions.. just check it out...


Great few days riding around Keswick in the Lake District.

Just had to tell all you active brits readers of an awesome few days worth of biking we've just had in the Lake District.. Its was actually a proper fest of rampaging through the mountains by day, and attacking the food and the amber nectar by night..

Last weekend Weeman and myself headed for a 4 day excursion to Keswick in the beautiful Lake District. We decided to stay at our usual campsite in Braithwaite which is in staggering distance to the local boozers. On the Bank Holiday Monday, nursing a slight hang-over we decided to do the awesome Blencathra curcuit. The first acscent of the day took us vertical from just outside Keswick to the main car park on the side of Mt.Skiddaw. By now the taste buds were craving something other than the rancid lager but we decided to push on and follow the singletrack along the east facing flank of Lonscale Fell to Skiddaw House. The route is excellent, couple of small gnarly sections at the start (with some good drops to the right) followed by some awesome undulating twists and turns laden with baby heads and death cookies.
From Skiddaw House we then headed North East, following the Cumbria Way down the valley to the village of Mosedale. This section is pretty damn quick, not steep but a great chance to push the cranks round, flick the bike about and attack the trail. From the village we followed the country lanes back to Threlkeld (on the main Keswick to Penrith Road) before diving onto an old disused railway line that ends up in Keswick town centre.

On the Tuesday morning we awoke to errrrr, rain and heavy wind.. Grizedale Pike and Skiddaw had been engulfed in low cloud so we decided to go and have a hearty English breakfast and see if the weather got any better.. Stuff it we thought, cant do with those namby pamby fine weather riders so we decided to put our hangovers to one side and go out and get freakin well wet.. Literally 10 minutes later and the weather changed beyond recognition, ok it was overcast, but absolutely perfect for a bit of biking so we decided to have a day playing around on the mountains south of Keswick..

From the town centre we headed down the B5289 for a couple of miles before veering left up a sweet 250m ascent warm-up tarmac hill climb to Watendlath. The scenery was spectacular and its definately worth a 1 minute stop to look at the view from above Derwent Water, makes you really appreciate your existence. By now the result of drinking copious amounts of alcohol during the previous nights activities (yet again) was more than evident. The guts were rumbling, the head was banging and my taste buds had died. No shandying out though, it was time to push onwards. We decided to do a small but highly enjoyable bridleway that links Watenlath with Rosthwaite to the South of Derwent Water. Its one seriously quality and fairly technical track-singletrack that starts with a short carry-up (or possible ride if you're taking artificial stimulants) followed by a quality downhill comprising a mish-mash of slabs, man made steps and boulders (just watch out for the drainage channels that cross the path, they are freakin deep and are located just where you dont want them).

From the village we decided to head to Seatoller, go full on proper sick and attempt the Honister Pass, not exactly the ultimate hang-over cure but certainly helped get rid of the excess wind from the system, lets just say i'm glad i was at the front.. You basically have to negotiate an imfamous pretty steep lakeland pass, you'll either love it or completely hate it and wish you'd have chosen a different hobby, either way just remember what goes up has got to come down :o) Mid way up the pass.. about 300m past the point where you want to die, we took a right turn and began the rapid decent down a path known as the Allerdale Ramble. Its very quick, rocky, wet and at times down-right treacherous but freakin fun. It saps the energy right out your system which is still trying to recover from being put through the Honister Pass experience. After an intense first section, the path continues to undulate gently along the east facing flank of Derwent Fells (the west side of the Borrowdale Valley) to a village called Grange. Upon arriving in the village we had to stop for 5 minutes to allow the carrot chunks to settle back down in the stomach before heading for a final big climb of the day over the Catbells.

To be honest, Catbells is not really a climb, its more a torture route for sadistic people. Its basically a 1km long, 350m ascent carry-up which destroys every muscle in ya back and shoulder but rewards you with a quality views of the entire Derwent Water catchment to the east and the fells adjoining Grizedale Pike to the west. It is a proper killer and what makes it worse is the 'official' downhill is near as damn it impossible in places as you have to negotiate a 200m stretch of unconsolidated scree slope (the by-product of old mine workings). You can take 'unofficial' lines down the bottom but you'll probably get some grief if there are any Satans Children' knocking about.. It was then a matter of tanking down the road back to Braithwaite for the obligatory 3000 calorie munchfest, yet more drinks and some quality banter with the rest of the Lake District active possie... God this life is great..

Respect and be safe all.. yer like thats ever going to happen eh!!... Cya..

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Liverpool nail Chelsea in the semi-final :o)

Well, the beers have been flowing so while i can still see i just thought i'd congratulate Liverpool on making it through to the Champions League final... You can check out the story here

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Which frame would you go for?

Quick question.. the active brits are looking into getting new full-suspension frames soon.. votes and comments on the following please..

1) Santa Cruz Blur LT
2) Yeti 575
3) Intense 5.5
4) Elsworth

Will be using it for aggressive all year round XC in the UK, trail riding and coming down the likes of Skiddaw, Helvelyn and technical singletrack in the Alps (read our stories for an indication of what we do).

Also, any favourable comments for frames for the 'taller' rider would be appreciated.



Saturday, April 21, 2007

Quality Mountain Biking Weekend in Capel Curig

Last weekend the Active Brits posse headed to Capel Curig for a quality weekend of mountain biking, drinking and full on eating. After several months of searching for bargain parts to fix a worn out Zaskar it was time to get back into the realms of high speed downhills, gnarly uphills, technical singletrack and back breaking carry-ups.. let the good times roll once more..

After a quality drinkfest on the Friday night and a fantastic breakfast in the local cafe, Rico. Weeman and myself decided to pile down the A5 into Betwys to get some grub for the days outing then do one of our favourite routes in reverse.. We had planned on doing a quality 20miler which climbed over 1100m (about 3500ft) but on the approach to Betwys things went slightly pear-shaped. Over the last few weeks, I'd managed to build a rear wheel using several worn out Mavic rims but on the final fast sweeping curve into the town it just seized solid.. the bearings had shot and the hyperglide mechanism had completely failed.. after emptying the lumps out of my shorts, i thought to myself ' here we go, a 4 mile carry back to the site and a weekend of walking'.. we then discovered that a new bike shop had opened up and yes.. they had wheels.. not exactly the ones i wanted, but wheels.. sweet round wheels that would enable us to at least get some riding in..

On account of the disastourous morning, we decided to go on a few smaller warm up rides and leave the big event till the Sunday so we made the trip back to the site to dump off all the gear and have a spot of lunch. Here it all went pear shaped once more. Rico decided to change his disc pads and in the process lost a small bleed valve which resulted in hydraulic fluid p**sing all over the shop. Ahhhhhh, the poor lad wasn't the happiest but it was pretty damn funny. We decided to head back down to Betwys once more but upon our arrival, all the shops had shut on account of a power cut so we had to make the return back up to the campsite. Rico said it was the worst 4 miles of his entire life as none of the wheels seemed to turn properly.. we opted for an afternoon of bike fixing and banter beforre heading up to the local boozer for a swift 5 hour sugar intake and to laugh at the days events :o)

On the Sunday morning we all headed back down to Betwys and Rico managed to get his brake sorted. Finally it was time to do our first major ride of the season and it was a killer. We headed up the back road from Betwys-y-Coed and over to Llyn Geirionydd then onwards over the ridge via forest tracks and down to Llyn Crafnant. The views as always were spectacular and the temperature perfect for some steep uphill work. From Crafnant we headed down the road towards Trefew and on the approach to the village swung left up an absolute total killer of a hill.. It must go up over 400m (1300ft) in less that 1.5 miles with about 6 hairpin switchbacks that really help to push the vomit upwards.. My wheels were about 2lbs heavier than the old ones and i could really feel the difference. We normally come down this route and now we know why.. great buzz to complete it though, but i did have to stop once on the way up before the heart exploded.

From the top of the ridgeline we headed down the fast road section and up to Llyn Cowlyd Reservoir.. yerrr, more uphill work.. Now it was time to have some real fun and attack the couple of miles of technical singletrack that skirts the reservoir. Its such an unspoilt spot but is quite physically demanding with stacks of babies heads and death cookies that you have to charge into to. At the end of the reservoir, just as you are feeling completely shagged you have to do a couple of small carry-ups before letting the rig loose on a quality moorland downhill section which brings you out back at the road on the A5 at Capel Curig....

Its a great route which allows you to get to grips with all transitional elements and is great workout. Its probably 50% road (steep af ****) , 15% forest track and 35% singletrack/ trail. Downhill element... lets just say not as much as the uphill... click my profile, email me and i'll send you a route breakdown..

We are back on the rigs tomorrow.. Sunday 22nd.. so keep ya eyes out in North Wales for us..

Have a good one..


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Active Brits Monthly Psyching Up Tune

Quality.. quality.. quality.. the mighty Pendulum cranking up the action.. get psyched up with some storming drum n' bass and go nail those freakin trails and cause some chaos..

Friday, March 30, 2007

Rock Shox Revelation 426 Air U-Turn

I'm like a big kid with a new toy.. look what the postman dropped off for me this morning, set of Rockshox Revelation 426 Air U-Turns 100-130mm travel.... cant wait to try em out proper stylee.. hope they are good on the mountains.. if you use a set yourself.. please leave a review..

Global shout to everyone who's out and about at the weekend.. have fun.. psychs..

Friday, March 09, 2007

Finally got me some neat wheels

Well its Friday night, i'm just about to head to catch up with a few of the posse but thought i'd let everyone know that the biking will be back on track for next weekend.. After weeks of abuse off the rest of the lads, i finally dropped on a set of freakin quality Mavic rims complete with Hope Bulb and Sport hubs and a complete Hope 4 Hydraulic F & R disc assembly.. By next weekend all the parts will be in place and the active brits will regain their rightful position nailing those gnarly singletracks of North Wales. CANT FREAKIN WAIT, BRING IT ON!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Active Brits Monthly Psyching Up Tune

This is quality.. some hard hitting electro industrial fused tunage from Combichrist.. Get yourself psyched for a mad one.. (note: the odd dodgy lyric so if you are offended dont click it)..

Mountain Biking and the art of Carry-Ups

Rico & Weeman on a slight carry up.. not that steep but terrain too difficult to get grip.

When it comes to doing a good old bit of quality singletrack with gnarly climbs or proper mountain routes such as Skiddaw in the Lake District, or Cadair Idris in Wales, you will inevitably reach a point where you'll have no option but to push or carry the bike. During a good days wilderness riding, its not uncommon to 'carry-up' at least 10-15% of your route so it pays to find the most appropriate carrying method to help maximise energy and prevent injury. Although carrying is often painful, its all part and parcel of traditional mountainbiking so make sure you take it in your stride, focus and put the experience down to another challenge. Carrying a bike can often be 10 time smore rewarding that giving up and turning back, just think, if its that hard to get up a mountain, how awesome and technical is the decent going to be :o)

In terms of technique its not just a matter of pushing or lifting the bike, think about the terrain, path width, obstacles, the need to use your hands for guidance. You've also got to consider bike design and the added addition of suspension units, reinforced tubing designs, gadgetry etc which takes up space on a bike and also restricts the number of options for carrying (consider this prior to buying a bike if carry-ups are to be an integral part of your riding). I know all this sounds logical, but you will not believe how many people i've seen pushing a bike (additional friction) along a 10 cm wide singletrack while dragging their legs through bracken or physically dragging a bike up a scree slope while nearly passing out from exhaustion. If you want to become a competent all-rounder, these are aspects you've got to consider. You need to adopt a carrying strategy that can save you energy, prevent muscle and joint damage and more often than not, allow you freedom of movement to at least put one hand on the floor during really steep sections (and you do find them, trust me.. :o)

If you are new to the game, a good technique is to stick your arm beneath the cross-bar on the frame (providing you have room) and then lift the bike off the ground while sliding the bike forward so your shoulder rests at the 'V' where the cross-bar and seat post join. Next pull the front wheel down by wrapping your arm under the frame and pulling down on the top of the headset (so your rear and front wheels are pointing as vertical as possible and runnning parallel to your body). Its also good idea to wear a camelbak as you can often use both the suction tube and strap as padding. I find this method far better than a classic t-bar style crossbar carry up (with the wheels horizontal to the ground) as it enables me to push through obstacles, keep a straighter back and most of all reduces the risk of me spinning round and jarring ligaments in high winds. If you havent adopted this approach, go try it and let me know how you get on..

Just remember:

1) Practice. ..... trying to accomplish a successful 1st carry up at 3000ft can be an endurance feat in itself so get used to carrying your bike. Try cycling fo 10 miles then carrying it for 1mile (i sometimes add this to my training schedule)
2) Find a method that suits your height and weight. Try to keep back as straight as possible while carrying to prevent twisting and back issues developing..
3) Pad the shoulder using a rucsac strap etc and get used to carrying on either shoulder to even out the pressure during a long day.
4) Make sure you can still use a 'hand' for balance especially on the steep ascents. Carrying a bike behind you head often utilises both hands and may be problematic if you slip.
5) Consider 'carry-ups' prior to buying a bike if you know you will be adopting a 'wild' and not 'bike specific trail' style of riding. The design of full suspension bikes often means a complete change in the way you will have to carry your bike.
5) Most of all...... save enough energy for the downhill :o)

Hope this has helps a few of the newer riders who now read the active brits blogs..

Respect and feel free to get in touch, leave comments or link to us.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mountain Biking - How to Nail Those Uphills

Everyone loves mountain biking up steep gnarly hills.. come on, admit it :o)

Over the last few months, different people that have been riding with us have asked 'what is the best way to nail an uphill'. In short, there's not one answer, but their are methods you can adopt to get yourself in the right mind-set and techniques to help you negotiate a range of terrains.

The mind-set.

The trick when mountain biking is to look at a hill as just another an element or challenge within a ride rather than get into a mind-set were it becomes an unobtainable obstacle from the onset. I wouldn't mind £10 for everytime i've heard someone say i'll never get up that' or 'stuff this i'm pushing it'. Its like any challenge you set yourself in life, if you think this before you even start then you may as well sell your bike and take up knitting.

The technical aspect

This totally depends on the terrain, gradient, conditions, tyre choice, seat post height, bike style.. you name it.. Its all trial and error but I often try to keep to a few general rules of thumb.

On tarmac sections, you can generally opt for a more rhythmic attack. Try and keep the pace steady and remember that the hill is just one 'element' of your entire ride. Try not to aim for full burn out but rather for a pace were you body feels comfortable and relaxed. Try and think well in advance of any change in gradient and change any gears before reaching the sharpest of angles. I often use the 60 second rule (1 revolution of the pedal per second) or the muscle burn minus one philosophy (if the legs begin to ache, knock the gears back one). Also try to remain seated as long as possible (set your seat position correctly, dont leave in downhill mode for uphills) and aim for nice balanced long strokes.

On technical off-road single-track you've really got to focus and play the 'anticipate whats coming' game. Always look well ahead of yourself and pick your line before you've even approached it (as before anticipate those gear changes, you'll soon discover that mud, slow speeds and gear changes do work well together). Dont automatically put the bike into the easiest gear possible, spinning the legs at high revolutions not only costs energy but is likely to result in wheel spin. With multi element hill work try in determine an average handling performance for your bike across all elements, learn to interpret the terrain. Style wise, try to limit body sway and focus on generating all energy through the pedals. If balance is required, be fluid and try to adopt a style which results in limited fast wheel movements. Try to arrange your seat so your body weight is pushing slightly forward on the bike to prevent the from lifting but at the same time to provide enough weight over the rear wheel to maintain rear traction. Try to maximise your energy by remaining seated as much as possible and take long steady breaths. The overall trick is to develop a relaxed, rhythmic, balanced approach and get rid of all erratic tendencies, all cost energy. If you need to improve your balance for single tracks, have a go at playing the 'slow balancing game'. Start on the flat and challenge your friends to a competition to see who can cycle 3m in the slowest time. As your balance improves, play the same game but increase the slope gradient.

Impossible gradients..

Never say never.. but when you physically cant do any more on the saddle and the bike continues to spin out, move into cyclo-x territory. In fact, as soon as you feel that the energy you are expelling is likely to exceed the energy yo would use jogging/ walking fast while carrying/ pushing your bike, move into foot mode until the terrain becomes rideable.

In summary, anticipate your terrain, set your bike up so that its at its optimum setting for nailing multi transitional uphills and try to develop a sustainable balanced rhythm across all technical elements.

Hope you find this useful.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flats or Clipless Pedals?

Thanks for the email regarding whether the active brits posse use flats or clipless pedals... wouldnt mind £10 for everytime someone has thrown that question at me..

The active brits posse always tend to use flats, we currently ride GT's, Scotts, Orange hardtails and they sort of go hand in hand with the bikes. From a personal perspective, they really give an element of uncertainty to the riding but to me thats what riding is all about. There is nothing better than being able to use every single 'mm' of the pedal surface, to be able to roll you feet, flail your legs out while drifting through corners if need be and most of all getting that rush when your feet come flying off on a sketchy downhill.. Im a full on control freak and flats challenge this every time i'm out. You can go faster on a trail, push more than you've ever pushed, but at the end of the day, if your mind is not in tune with your feet, flat pedals will let you know.. normally at the point when you go full on wang chung, get sharked on the back of your legs or become an honoury member of the over the handlebars club.. Whatever your preference ... just have fun..

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Extreme Mountain Bike Video

Wicked video.. really really top bit of extreme riding.. reckon their will be a few people singing soprano after pulling out those stunts... quality..

Monday, January 29, 2007

We've not been away, just distracted from the cause.

For those who have emailed us asking what we have been up to recently and why we havent been biking much ... here are the lame excuses..

1) Time.. workload has just been mental for all the active brits posse
2) Me.. still debating whther or not to invest in a new rig
3) Other outdoor hobbies.. this time of year we like to brandish the old ice axes and 4 season boots and get some proper weather bashing on the likes of the Carneddau in Snowdonia or the Lakeland fells.
4) The result of pistons flying through the top of my engine..
5) No effort being made by the rest of the active brits crew to keep you all informed of our exploits.. they seem to find allocating 5 mins every week to promoting the biking cause to the global masses a bit of a hardship.. come on lads, sort it..

This weekend however we decided to dedicate it to some proper bike research and some quality drinking. We only do it once in a blue moon ;o)) so after a few late nighters in Liverpool, myself, Rico and Weeman headed to Ambleside to do a bit of outdoor and bike gear window shopping.. We ended up having a full on drool fest in the awesome BIKE TREKS. Talk about some absolutely amazing bikes, all the top spec stuff from Specialized, Yeti, Santa Cruz, Orange and Intense. If you are ever up that way be sure to check em out and the staff can give you as much advice as you need.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, our 'wants list' has been stripped down to either a Specialized Stuntjumper Expert, Santa Cruz Blur, Yeti 575 or Intense 5.5. Its just a matter of fully sorting the budget and doing a few test rides. I've also decided to fix the GT to keep the rest of the posse of my case cos they are starting to get withdrawls.

Have a good week all.