After my fun and games in 2006, I needed to get a bit fitter. As a few of my friends were getting involved in mountain biking, I decided to join them. I bought a nice discounted Halfords Special – a Carrera Fury. A nice aluminium hardtail with 130mm of travel, basic hydraulic brakes, and a perfectly good entry bike into mountain biking. This bike was moved onwards eventually, and the current owner doesn’t ride bikes at all anymore.
An upgrade was on the cards in October 2008 to a 2005 Giant Reign 6″ full-suspension bike, with RockShock Recon 335 130mm air forks, and a Manitou air shock. Lovely bike, was fantastic to ride around on. I took this around Ballyhoura, Derroura, and various other forests around the country. It’s a real pity that it got nicked off the roof of my car outside my house on May 18th 2010 – whoever nicked it had no idea of its worth.
As a direct result I upgraded to a medium Giant Reign X1 about 6 weeks later in June 2010, another full-suss but this time with 6.7″ of rear squish and 160mm Fox 36 Van Rs on the front. Great bike, comfortable to cycle around on if a little heavy to grind up hills. Double ring on the front, Hayes Stroker Trail brakes with uprated metal pads. I can run this bike as a heavy XC bike if I put 2.35 ADvantages on it, or a pseudo-DH bike with proper DH tubes and tyres. It’s a bike that freewheels a lot faster than most other bike for some reason, I got a decent personal speed record on this bike coming down from Meenaun on Achill Island on an Easter Sunday in 2011. I could drop a few kilograms from the bike weight but that might have cost me a bit much at the time, so I was happy to sit and grind in grannyring up the hills for the sheer pleasure of pointing down and going wheeee. This bike is the bike I’ve learned how to go clipped-in on, and it suits this bike just right. I recently updated the configuration on this to lighten it a bit – converted this bike to singlering with range extender cassette, a DHX5.0 air shock, SLX finned brakes, wider bars, KS LEV seatpost. 16.5kg with ADvantages. Quite a bit nicer to cycle up on now without losing the down.
After the 2013 MBUL Les Gets trip, I decided to get a full-on DH bike for the 2014 trip. After much looking around and research, I went ahead and bought a secondhand 2012 Santa Cruz V10.4 carbon framed downhill bike. This has 10″ of squish on the rear, and a set of 203mm RockShox Boxxer forks that have been worked over by JTech in the UK. There’s Saint brakes on the front, and a set of Zees on the rear, both currently with resin finned pads. The wheels are Stans flow hoops on Hope Pro Evo2 hubs, with a tubeless setup using Conti tyres – Der Baron on the front and Der Kaiser Projekt on the rear. It’s an amazing machine, light and hugely strong, flickable and fast and it gives huge confidence. I’ve had it in Les Gets and it performed beautifully. In Fairymount (Bikepark Ireland) it is a lovely bike to point down the hills and float over the tabletops and doubles. Of course I’ve got the right set of safety gear as well, a decent full-face helmet with a Leatt neck brace, a Leatt soft armour pressure suit, some RaceFace D30 knee/shinguards. This bike has flat pedals and it has taken me a bit of getting used to not to be clipped in. Clip pedals have been sourced, and are awaiting an upgrade of the cycling shoes before I can avail of these. I upgraded the Boxxers to a set of custom Fox 40 Factory forks. Absolutely buttery and smooth and configurable.
My other bikes are a decent carbon-framed road bike (Trek Madone 4.5) sourced through the Bike-To-Work scheme through my employer with upgrades to Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels with lovely blade spokes, Ultegra brakes and a comfy Fizik saddle. A very light and fast bike.
The last bike in the stable is a generic singlespeed commuter bike, steel with white paint, deep wheels, and Shimano 105 brakes, on Gatorskin road tyres. Cheap enough to leave in the college overnight without worry and fast enough not to be a pain to cycle around the place.
So, did I get a bit fitter from 2006? I did, but I also put on a fair bit of muscle as a result. Still, the biking dovetails neatly with the other stuff I do. When it’s too dry to paddle, I can usually go and pedal instead…