Monday, 24 August 2009

Chicksands and a surprising little Norco

So it was a pretty busy weekend all things considered. Tom went off to shoot the Red Bull X Fighters thing which turned out pretty good aparently. And when someone crashes they put big screens up so no one can see the rider being scraped off the floor.

Wish that had been the case at Chicksands on Sunday. We hot footed it up there to do a bike test for the Guardian's podcast and blog, securing a Norco, Commencal, Intense and Santa Cruz. major battle ensued for the Commencal Absolute - freakin lush bike on the 4X course there.

Pedalfeet loving the Norco. Focus.

But biggest surprise was the dainty little Norco Faze 2. Light as a feather but actually a bit of a bitch on the track, although sometimes a bit scary off the big jumps as it felt on landing as if it were going to explode.

The Commencal Meta 4X performed super good on the 4X course but also really nice on the dual slalom DH course and the dirt jumps. Tom took loads of great pictures, Pete from Madison was being super cool (in a very French kind of 'suuuper cooool' way even though he's not French)I caned myself trying to overtake my brother on the inside of the last corner and Stu was just lovin being out on some top quality bikes. Reviews and stuff to follow. Bosh.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Interview with Neven Steinmetz

I pinned down 4X racer and general good time gal Neven Steinmetz for an interview and here is the result. I was going to cut it but then you wouldn't be able to tell what a freakin charasmatic chick she is. How enthusiastic about riding bikes? VERY ...

Yo Neven! How's you're ass?! How did you do it?
Heya Susan! Ya, the broken ass incident. Ughh! I had a big get off on the first straight of the 4x track in Maribor, Slovenia during practice at the World Cup race there. I got a complimentary (well, not really, I got a bill!) trip to the hospital in a sweet ambulance - ok, ok, the ambulance wasn’t that sweet, but the paramedic driving it was HOT! Ha ha! Once I got there they did x-rays and a CT scan of my ass and decided I’d fractured my sacrum. I fainted after insisting that I could manage going to the toilet on my own, and then I started puking - quick way to “get” to spend the night! That was an adventure, for sure! Anyway, when I got back Stateside, my Doc said the sacrum wasn’t fractured, but the tailbone was dislocated! I got that all sorted, and I’m doing much better now.

You've been pretty accident prone recently haven't you? What happened
before 'assgate'?

Ya, last season and this season have seen their fair share of injuries for me. I broke my ankle at our Uni Champs last October, and that took all winter to heal up, unfortunately. Recently, I’ve become fond of hitting my head. HARD. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s pretty crap for the short term memory!

Do you take injuries in your stride?
Ya, you gotta just role with the flow, I suppose. When the healthy time is few and far between the injuries, it starts getting old, but hopefully I’ve gotten all the big ones out of my system for the next couple of years! Sitting on the sidelines reminds you of why you LOVE riding, though, so getting back on the bike is always pretty great!

So. Honestly. What's the life like as a pro mountain biker? Best part?

The places I’ve gotten to travel to and the people I’ve met along the way are the best part.

Worst part?
Being POOR and getting injured!

Do you prefer DH or 4X?
I prefer 4X. I love the challenge of the jumps and turns as well as racing against three other people while trying to put the perfect run together! I love DH, too, but it’s a whole different game. You’ve got to be “on it”, straight pinned and flat out for much longer.

Do you like competing or is it kinda essential as a pro as a way of keeping
your profile up?

Oh, I think everyone who races would tell you that they love competing; otherwise you’d just ride. To be honest you get way more riding time in during a weekend of riding than you do racing, so yes, I’d have to say I LOVE competing!

In Morzine you, Jo and Fionn all hung out together. Don't you find it hard
being mates with people you then compete against?

I guess sometimes it’s hard to make the distinction between being friends and putting the racing game face on, but I think we all just know it’s worth it! Some of my best friends are the girls that I race against almost every weekend. There aren’t that many girls who understand why you would give up almost everything to ride and race your bikes all over the world, so we gotta stick togehter!.

What's the women's scene like?
Ah, the women’s race scene. Well, I’d love to say that it’s drama-free, but it’s not. When you put that many Type A personalities (generally, haha) and highly competitive people together, people will inevitably not get along. There are all kinds of personalities on the circuit, and for the most part, I think that everyone gets along fairly well, and if not, they’re all civil, because like I said, there aren’t that many girls who do it, and we all have to be around each other every weekend.

Can you describe your bikes for us?

I ride for a cool company called Ellsworth, and I have three of their bikes for racing and an XC bike for training. My three race bikes are all PINK, part of their Project Pink program, one of the socially responsible projects they have at Ellsworth. For every pink bike that is sold, they donate $50 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I’ve been really excited to be a part of the Project Pink program this year, and the bikes have been super popular all summer. They are amazing bikes to ride and are very beautiful.

Do they have names?
Yes, they all have names! The Dare (DH bike) is called Hubba Bubba. The Moment (4x full suspension) is called The Pink Panther. The most special of all to me, though, is the Specialist (4x hardtail), and it’s called Pauline. My Grandmother, who is a breast cancer survivor, is called Pauline, and Ellsworth decided to have her name anodized on my frame for me. It gave me chills when I pulled it out of the box!! Have I mentioned what an amazing company they are??

Are you in college? Do you think you'll always be involved with bikes?
Yes, I’m still at Uni working on my PhD in Tissue Engineering (NOT blow your nose type tissues!) I am doing research to try and regenerate cartilage and bone from stem cells that come out of bone marrow. I took the whole summer off from school to race, which has been awesome!

Ya, I will always be involved with bikes. I met a guy called Don, who was 69 at the time, whilst cycle touring in New Zealand, and he instantly became one of my heroes! To be that age and still loving riding bikes is awesome. I can only aspire to still love riding that much when I’m that old!

Favourite tune for riding to
No fav tune, just some mixes by one of my friends who spins some sweet techn - DJ EntropEE!

Now. You have a pink bike. Do you worry that's too girly for a DHer?! ha ha.
You know, at first I was a little nervous about having pink bikes, because I’m more of a red sort of girl, but the bikes are beautiful, and it’s an honour to ride them, plus being a little girly in a male dominated sport isn’t so bad sometimes!

What scares you most?
Snakes, full stop.

When was the last time you thought: 'Jesus wept, are you having a laugh?'!
Can’t say that I’ve thought that specific line before, but I’d have to say, thinking about it, that pretty much describes a lot of laughs that I’ve had. Is that bad?

Ok, final question and it's my favourite. Can you tell me a story? Can be any length and about anything.

K, here’s my story titled: “PT Cruisers and the Guys at One of the Small Border Crossings from Canada into Vermont, USA SUCK!!!”

This is the third time that I've gotten stuck with a PT cruiser for my race rental vehicle. I hate them! This time it was extra sucky! We came back from practice on Friday and realized we had a flat tyre. Booo. It was just an inconvenience that I didn't want to deal with. Well, we got on getting the spare put on. Melissa was working on getting the lug nuts off, and suddenly one of them sheared off (I mean she’s strong, but COME ON, that’s not normal!) Ugghhh. Someone had cross threaded it. At this point, some photog guy must have decided that we needed help, so he came over and finished off putting the spare on for us. He proceeded to shear off another lug nut, so at that point, we only had three left. Luckily, they were in a triangle pattern, so safer than all next to each other I guess.

Well, I spent a long time on Saturday morning trying to get Thrifty in Canada to give us a different car and or get the situation fixed for us. They were of no help. All of the garages around were only open until noon on Saturday, but as it turns out, it didn't matter, as the parts that we needed were only available from a dealer which are not open on Saturdays. Luckily, our friend that we were staying with fixed the flat for us, and we left the switching back process until Sunday morning.

Sunday morning comes along, and we're all super hung over from the after race party and certainly not looking forward to putting the newly repaired tyre back on. Luckily, our friends had another house guest, Sam, who was super psyched to help out. Sam took charge of getting the situation sorted. Well, turns out whoever the idiot was that put those wheels on before us had cross threaded most of the lug nuts. Sam sheared off another. Now we were down to 40% of them left. Not okay. Luckily (AGAIN) our friend Gab has a full on garage lift at their house. I came out of the house from getting packed and they had the whole PT Piece of Shit Cruiser up on the lift with the two front wheels completely dismantled. They were "borrowing" a stem/lug nut combo from the other wheel for the janky one. Well, lucky for us they're so car savvy, and they got it all sorted and we were on our way to Burlington, VT for our flight, fully prepared to have it out with Thrifty once we got there.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of an epic journey back to the States! When we got to the border crossing, they decided to harass the hell out of us and keep us there for 45 minutes asking all sorts of questions about what we were doing in Canada, how we were funding the trip, what we had to declare, etc... the ONLY things we had to declare were two chocolate bars that Melissa had bought, so we thought it was pretty strange that they were bugging us so much. They spent 15 minutes searching the car and then came in and asked loads of questions about what had happened to the car...the whole sheared off lug nuts/wheel problem.

I explained the whole situation to them and then they continued asking questions about whether the spare had been out of our possession, where we had gotten it fixed, etc. In fact, they asked the same questions several times (a little slow on the uptake, I guess!). In the end, they finally let us go after giving us a lecture about it being unsafe to drive like that. Thanks, we already know that! ha In the end we got to the airport pretty late, but our flights were delayed anyway, so it was ok!

We couldn't figure out why they were bothering us so much, but after we left we decided that they must have thought we were trying to smuggle drugs across the border. Idiots! Wouldn't they figure that if we were going to try and do that we wouldn't rock up with missing lug nuts, no hub cap on the wheel, a spare tyre that was a bit dangly, and me with a lost driver's license?!?

Friday, 14 August 2009

7pm and still in the office

Yes I am still here. It's a Friday night and I am in the office, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Not working, just hanging out with my Mac. Me and the Mac. Been looking at bike stuff for the last hour - well done to Ms Griffiths for a storming run at Crankworx. Laying it down.
Hey, I'm off to Interbike in Vegas in September. Totally can't wait. Gonna be hooking up with Debbie from Minx for a week of schmoozing in the desert. Bikes and sequined hot pants, what's not to love? No, seriously, what? But this weekend it's all about Aston Hill as I try to regain some of the dignity lost last week at Leckhampton Hill when the Orange smacked me in the back after I sailed over the bars. Who else do you know who can trackstand on a 1:1 incline? Yeah, me.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

MC SpandX racers vs hipsters

Frankly, I prefer life on full sus - but enjoy watching this lot battle it out anyway ... Quality

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I love him, but he loves Tom more

So the new addition has been named Scotty Boy. Welcome dear lad, welcome. Took him out for his first ride on Sunday to Brockwell Park BMX track. A six-year-old looked at me after one race around the course and very calmly said: 'Control.' He followed it 10 minutes later with a very precocious: 'Pumping makes you go faster.' Oh if only you knew.

But the Slacker is a pretty darn cool ride, pumping or no. Heavy yes, but whippy and really solid on landing. it has QR on the front but the option of bolt-thru so I may change that later. Not digging the brakes but I knew that. Pair of Hope minis maybe?

Then yesterday I swapped a life on suspension for road riding and attempted stage 6 of the Tour of Britain from Frome to Bideford across Exmoor. I think it's fair to say that road riding can kiss my ass for the near future. It was for a video for the Guardian travel site - should be up September time and I'll pop the link. Exmoor in the pissing rain. Need I say more?