Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trail work, saturday, I need help!!

Contact me if you're interested.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Making ends meet...

Whilst the racers headed down to the Otways for some big race sponsored in part by a company that has little if any place in the Australian marketplace, some of us headed bush.

In the past, we've found a new place to ride, full of challenges and awesome trails, and we've decided to add to that. With map in hand, we've done some exploration in the past and found some trails just begging to be linked up. Whilst this is no cake walk, as anyone who has been to the area can attest, the effort put in it equal to the awesome trails that are coming out! To access the area, there are hills so steep they cannot be ridden, its in a remote, very rocky area and its been a long time since people have paid it any mind.

So yesterday, we got stuck in. We've found a few loops that we would like to connect, and with a few trail tools in hand, we got to it. 7 hours of trail building later, we have a few k's of sensational singletrack, with everything from undulating, contouring trail, to drops, to a few small berms and a nice steep rocky out.

To give you some idea, we've burnt a number of brake rotors already... Not for the faint of heart, but we stick by the fact that you get out what you put in. And this trail sure does deliver! Broken rakes, way to many cuts and scratches, bush medicine with leatherman's, and its all coming together.

A few more days out there, and we'll be needing some crash test dummies! Interested in riding some fresh new singletrack?? ;)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Enduro bearings do it better....

The ceramic bearings have slipped into the BB of my road bike, which I know is a bit of a stretch to post here, but I thought that we could all benefit. Facing the BB is an excellent way to start things off, so the two external surfaces are parallel to one another, removing paint and metal until they are perfect. IceToolz make a very good bottom bracket facing tool, as well as head tube reamers and other frame tools, and they are very affordable too.

So once the faces are prepared, it means the cups can tighten down fully and not distort and cause the bearings to 'squash' and drag. If the cups deflect, it increases the drag on the bearings, something you wish to avoid of course. With the cups greased (metal on metal gets grease in my book!) and nice and firm, the cranks slipped back in and span. And span. And span. I didn't believe how little resistance they could actually have! Don't get me wrong, the seals put paid to perpetual motion quick smart, but they really do run on.

With the drive train all hooked up, the cranks do certainly turn over easier, and you know thats the truth as I paid for these things. On the bike for hell ride on saturday, the bike definitely felt smoother and easier to ride, almost like there was a change in the gearing. In my opinion, if you are racing, and racing hard, if you aren't ceramic, you are not on an equal footing. You could increase your training even more, or you could treat your bike to some quality goodness! Make sure you face that frame if you do it, as there is no point in half doing the job!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy snaps.

I was going through my pictures and found some old pics that Gerald took at the Kona 24hr in 2006 at Redesdale. When Gez drops the spanners you will always find him hiding behind some log or tree in search for the ultimate snap shot.

These two photos definetly brought back some memorys of the never ending single track that Redesdale had to offer!!! A course that I will definetly miss.


Staying in touch.

On the first Epix ride at Mt Buller we made a slight navigational error and ended off the map and out of radio range with our support crew. We were using a hand held .5 watt UHF radio which has a range of next to nothing!! We decided an upgrade was in order not only to keep us relaxed while getting lost, but also to ensure our support crew has healthy finger nails.

The new radios have 2watt maximum output and are rated to have a 10kms + (line of sight) range. They run 3 x AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries per handset that so far have lasted for three days before going flat.

They came with a set of trick speaker microphones that work well with my camelbak.

With the microphone mounted on our sholder straps it will eliminate that always frustrating need to stop on the side of the track, pull out the handset only to find you are out of radio range once again. Another advantage will be both riders can keep in contact with ease.

The true test will be on the next Epix ride, so stay tunned for the full review.

Over and Out!! Ha Ha Ha


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Epix #3 is growing legs

In the next installment of our adventures, we've decided on a location, the logistics are falling in place and we're now in the countdown. Briefly, there will be a reasonable amount of 4wd access to get into the area, the ride itself is in some of the biggest and most beautiful mountains around (as it is called mountain biking after all!) and a small tight crew will be making it all happen once again. Look out for some new media formats as we bring it to you, as we hope to keep things fresh and interesting!

So Labour day long weekend, 8-9-10th will be when we roll, so stand by!

In the meantime, you know that we'll find some interesting stuff for you, even some new trails that nobody has ever ridden are on the cards!

See you out there!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What lurks beneath...

Firstly, happy birthday Winny...

And back to our usual programming -

I've got a shipment of bearings (clicky for great info and specs) coming shortly that include some Ceramic and ABEC 5 bearings from DIYMTB for some assorted bikes of mine. In preparation for some surgery , I pulled out the bottom bracket of the new Virtue 1 after the wetness that was Epix 1 and noticed that we had a bit of an issue there.

The water that was sitting in the bottom of the frame is not a good thing... This is whats left after some more flowed onto the floor. Now this is what I do to get around the problem. I don't recommend you do this unless you are very sure about things like your warranty, as doing this may void it, so think carefully.

With the bike on level ground, mark with a texta, the lowest point of the BB. Roughly in the centre of the shell, make a cross where those two points intersect and thats where you will drill a 3-4mm hole. Smaller and the water won't drain, larger and well.... Make sure you remove the BB, ensure that the metal filings can't travel up the seat tube or into other parts of the frame, and ensure that you catch the swarf so it can't damage the thread of the BB when its reinstalled.

So thats that. File any sharp edges that you can get at, paint the hole if its a steel frame and reinstall everything with plenty of grease. Ceramic bearings are currently the ultimate bearings to re-use, but the ABEC 5 that I'll be using are a happy middle ground between price, durability and performance. We'll see how they go!

We'll have some more news on the next Epix that scheduled later this week, as well as a review of some new toys that we have for the job! So check back soon for more of the latest!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A review of the Camelbak Havoc

With the inception of Felt Epix, I’ve slowly needed to change the equipment that I use to make sure its more suitable to all day epic rides, rather than the outward ferocity of a race. Reliability is the key to our application, as well as being able to rectify any problems on the trail, as the pits are located somewhere after a long ride and running out of food, rather than the same place every lap.

Our hydration packs are a fundamental part of our rides, as without them, we simply could not do what we do. The ability to carry a large volume of water in a stable state, as well as food and equipment is essential. By choice, I use a Camelbak product called the Havoc. I purchased this product a while back with this use in mind, and decided to review it after around 12 month of use. This review is unbeknown to Camelbak Australia, so you can rest assured it’s unbiased.

The Havoc contains a 3 litre Camelbak bladder, with the snazzy Omega Hydrotanuium tagline to it which has some influence on the antibacterial properties of the bladders. Good thing too, as I’ve downed my share of mouldy drink bottles, so a good clean Camelbak is always a priority. Actually, like many people, I store mine in the freezer which keeps the nasties at bay. 3 litres is a good size for an all day ride, with the weight being noticeable at the start then declining as you go, yet still giving you enough ‘range’ to get the job done. The bite valve is fantastic, just does not leak at all, and the whole bladder comes with a lifetime warranty. The overall storage of the pack is rated at 13 litres and its more than enough for a solid days’ riding in any terrain. Actually you need to pack carefully as it encourages you to take more than you may need.

I’ve a little thing for backpacks actually. I reckon that you need a different pack to do a different job, from snowboarding to riding to commuting to traveling, so I like my packs to be very ‘use specific’. I chose this one for a number of reasons including the bladder size, the pockets and access to them, the harness and the overall build quality.

To start with the harness; Camelbak call it the Air Director and whilst it has a decent ability to move air around, I wouldn’t call it exceptional. If you are a ‘sweater’, its going to come home wet. But you will anyway, so who cares!? You’ll never get sweat to penetrate the actual pack so an annual washing and it’ll be all good. Mine has no odour at all, so unlike helmets, Camelbak is on a good thing. My pet hate with all packs, from ‘back in the day’ is the pack hitting your helmet forward. I HATE that, and any pack that does it to me will get flung as far as possible. This Havoc has never even moved from where I like it, let alone jumped up. The waist strap is spot on, as are the comfortable shoulder straps, and I don’t really use the sternum strap as its already very stable. So thumbs up for the harness.

The pockets are great. A jumbled up pack is no use to anyone, and the Havoc has that sorted! A large padded media pocket protects our camera and radios, as well as GPS when we have one. It has a rudimentary waterproofing over the zip which has started to die sadly, the first thing on the pack to fail. Anything that needs to be truly waterproof would get dry-bagged, as a matter of course. Better safe than sorry! Inside there is a fleece lined ‘goggle’ pocket where I store my bars and gels, and its accessible from the top. Deeper down is a mesh tool pocket with 3 internal dividers as well, so make sure you keep everything easy to find. On the front of a pack is a huge cinch-able panel which is designed for a full face. Seeing as how I don’t use such a thing often, I use it to store clothing. Easy to access, it tightens up well and pulls in line with the pack reducing the bulk of anything in there. Also good for a tripod, the lower compression straps were designed for knee/shin pads and again pull the pack in tight.

Overall the pack is tough as guts. I’ve been very rough with this pack, as I believe it should handle it and its still going strong over 12 months into service. Smashing into low trees, slumming about in heavy rain and getting covered in roost, the YKK heavy duty zips are still as smooth as ever, and all the clips and buckles still work perfectly. No stitching is showing signs of age or UV exposure, the only fault is that crappy waterproofing attempt, or splashguard if you will. About $200 will have you looking at the other options available, but I always believe you get what you pay for, and so do the boys on Farkin. Buy once, buy right. And I’ve no qualms about laying down my hard earned, 12 months into my purchase.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

And the conclusion...

So we made it out of the ‘woods’ so to speak. Grover was looking a little worse for wear, as we all were.

Off to the Ada Tree we went, back on course to making our ride work. After a bit more ride, hike, ride, hike in some beautiful country, very similar to British Colombia, Canada (really, it IS!!) we made it to the famed Ada Tree.

Jack, looking for a crit no matter where he goes!

Its pretty tall, at least JD thinks so.

Fourtunatly it was as good as it was made out to be, as we could have had a mutiny otherwise. One rider, an older rider *hint* may have commented at one point after 46,214 log we had to get over, that ‘this f$&*#g tree better be f#$%g good’ with more venom than that Tiger snake. Lucky for all of us, it was, the damn thing is huge!! Cleaning out the leeches from our shoes and sucking down some food (well I enjoyed my salad rolls thanks guys) we headed back around to complete our loop.

The singletrack leading out of the Tree was awesome. Buff singletrack all the way out to the car park where we headed out and down the hill we had spent the better part of the morning climbing.

With a nice long descent on the fire road, we found a ‘short cut track’ (no, really, that’s what it was called!) and of course we took it. Funniest had to have been Jason hitting up a water bar on an old logging coup, only to find that taking off on an angle in clay doesn’t work. A HUGE moment, made all the worse that Jack and I followed exactly what he did, and 3 of us were busily crossing ourselves and giggling when the others caught up. A few huge sticks in drivetrains, a slow leak and that’s about the sum total of the damage for the day.

We found our final section of singletrack that would take us all the way back to the cars, the Richards Tramway track. In need of some track maintenance would be a good description, with a lot of leaf litter and fallen timber across it, but we persevered and with a bit of a clean, it would be an awesome trail to descend! Flicking sticks and climbing over firewood, got a bit tedious towards the end, but one final blast down some awesome switchbacks and we were spat out onto the fireroad back to the cars, to the sound of everyone’s phone ringing and messages to find out where the hell we were!?

Bellie checking if the timer works...

And we can see that Mr Rattray...

According to the Garmin, it took us 3.5 hours to do 40km and climb about 1300-1400 metres. Take that with a grain of salt, as 6 hours had elapsed since leaving the cars, and we didn’t stop long for lunch…! It was a long, painful adventure today, intermixed with a lot of hiking and portages, but would we miss out, NEVER! Thanks very much to the crew that joined us today; we hope you enjoyed the adventure as much as we did. This couldn’t be possible without the assistance of brands such as Felt Bicycles who provide us with our stallions, the reliable Virtue 1’s, Veloman, Cycle Design, and Stronglight who provide us with our accessories.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Part 2 of the Ada Tree

Jason managed to procure a sample of something called the Helmet Hero, a small video camera from Kathmandu to test out. We’ll see how it went when we get a chance to download the footage, but it seemed to be the goods!? We shall see!

With the climbing all going reasonably well, we came to Starling Gap where we happened across a NavRun, a 4wd ‘orienteering’ event. They have a list of photos and GPS ref’s, and they have to get to each one and work out which photo matches the location. The truck with the most points visited and matched is the winner. A pretty neat setup really, and the competitors were extremely courteous which is nice. In fact they even helped us on our way!

Heading off on the next section of the Walk In History, we actually got some downhill which excited us no end. Jumps, slide and lots of woohoo’s got us all inspired once again! Right up to the point that I rode juuuust beside a snake, I’m sure Jason had to jump it and everyone else came to a screaming halt! Certainly a good fright for all of us, and you don’t reckon every stick moved after that point!! Tiger snake Tommy moved on after giving us all a good eyeballing, and we continued on, a little more mindful of the situation these Epix find us in. It’s the whole unpredictable nature of these jaunts that make them so enjoyable. Snakes are out here too, we just have to share.

And then the trail went to hell…

I wouldn’t really care to remember how long we had to bush bash for, but the trail was almost non existent for many kilometers. Pushing through solid bush, skulldragging a bike, climbing over fallen trees, ducking under the bigger ones, and generally just bashing our way along the trail, it was all getting pretty amusing. The dulcet cusswords coming from the back of the bunch was hilarious, with some people obviously not totally over what we are about. Pushing through solid bush, we found another animal that this area has in spades- leeches. And boy did we find some leeches!!!

As I type this, I’m still bleeding and it’s been nearly 24 hours. They got into everything, and those that hadn’t experienced leeches much before, they weren’t that keen to share their blood. Inside gloves, plenty in the socks, between toes, ankles, arms, wrists, legs and any other exposed skin.

We all looked like blotchy pin cushions combined with the razor ferns that ripped us to shreds all day. Legs and arms were just butchered, and I think I could hear screams when everyone got a shower at home that night.

At one point, the trail just died. Well the direction we were hoping for did, except the trail hooked around to spear off in another direction. After sending out some scouts in different directions, we came to conclusion that was indeed the right direction, and headed down into the swamp. To get some more leeches.... Tyres seemed to be a favourite, every time you looked down, there was a moving sea on your tyres, before they flicked up onto your legs. After getting though that, the trail seemed to open up again and we came to 2 conclusions. Firstly we were going the right way, and secondly, Parks Vic are midway through an attempt to join the two sections of developed trail. They just aren’t done yet…!

Atop a collpased bridge, the view was quite plesant. Still, you couldn't avoid those leeches!

Climbing upwards, this time on a bike. It really did make a nice change, as it felt like the first half of the ride was seriously spent making trail.

Careful careful, a slip here could ruin everyones day, not just your own.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Epix #2 - Eaten alive at the Ada Tree


( d-v n ch r)


a. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
b. An undertaking of a questionable nature, especially one involving intervention in another state's affairs.
2. An unusual or exciting experience: an adventure in dining.

3. Participation in hazardous or exciting experiences: the love of adventure.
4. A financial speculation or business venture.

Felt Epix has rolled out another exciting adventure this weekend, and lived up to its fledgling reputation once again. The Ada Tree Epix, bought to you aboard Felt Bicycles, had a large contingent of riders in attendance. From the left we see James Dickie (Total Rush/Specialized Concept Store), Jason Jackon (Felt Epix), Lewis Rattray, Bruce Dickie, Scott Chancellor (Orbea) John Groves (MTB Precision, Jack Lamshed (Felt Racing), Ash Thomas (Felt Epix) and Andy Bell (Kona-Mt Buller Factory Team).

With a meeting and conflab at the Warburton Bakery, we filled everyone with some trepidation by making references to Mt Donna Buang and Mt Stirling (nowhere near where we were going, but good for a giggle) and set out for our start point. Obviously there must have been a particularly large person that resided near Warburton, as Big Pat’s Creek was our jumping off point. Seeing how Bellie arrived via bike, we towed (allegedly, go on, prove it) him out to the start point, where we all geared up, told each other lies about how good we felt (how much sleep Grover??), and got on with the job. We all made sure we had as much water as we could carry, but I didn’t see anyone throw much food in, except me as I have a bonking problem at the moment and take a heap of food to counter it.

Heading out of Big Pat’s Creek, we immediately dropped off the road and hit some sweet Warburton singletrack. With plenty of board walks installed around this area to protect the lush (read: wet, really wet…) forest floor, and some large gaps in there, we all needed to wake up to keep it together. Slowly climbing up on some sweet singletrack, we all enjoyed the challenge in the morning. It was seriously heating up beneath the canopy, with 30 degrees forecast, and the humidity was melting us under the treetops. The trail was full of leaf litter and sticks as it sees barely foot traffic let alone many bikes.

...part 2 to follow.

*note* Photos are proving to be pesky at the moment, they will be edited in when the situation improves... Sorry.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Tick that Ada Tree off the list!

We made it!!

Another Epix in the books, but it was a tough one, just how we like it!

The full story is on its way, but there was an awful lot of this...!! And blood spilled...