bikebritain Says May 28, 2010

bikebritain goes Off-Roading!

Once upon a time my main bike was my mountain bike. In 1996 I needed a pair of wheels and I thought  I would splash out! With a sale on in Brighton's Action Bikes a Claud Butler Miura caught my eye...and was promptly sold to me for £250. No suspension - not even sure MTB's had suspension then - but 21 gears, big fat chunky tyres plus Grip Shift. How modern can you get? I thought Grip Shift was pretty cool - and reminded me of the gears on the 'Grifter' a bike I sought after when I was a kid. (Others have said the gears tend to slip using this system but I've never really found that.)

It got used alot. I used to row for Shoreham so that was a 20 mile round trip for a starters, as well as cycling into work every day. That's about 100 miles a week. Basically, if I needed to go anywhere I would cycle there. I was pretty lean then because everything I did involved burning calories. I did some off roading as well. Frank (he's starred in a couple of the bikebritain video's) had a Mazda van so we used to put the bikes in the back and go and cycle over a forest somewhere and get very muddy. Lots of fun and no major injuries where sustained. Using the bike for off roading and communting was a bit of a drag though as the tyres where not really suited to tarmac. By now I was really only using the bike as a mode of town travel. As the opportunities for off roading where getting few and far between I decided I would change the 'chunky's' for some 'slicks'. And what an amazing difference. It felt as if I was jet powered. I zoomed up hills. And hammered down them. Plus I had all the gearing of an MTB (quite handy for the hills in Brighton) but less resistence so I could do more miles for less work. Not great in the wet, but then I didn't worry too much about that. Unless I was going round corners.

The bike was my staple mode of transport for a few years. I passed my driving test when I was 19 but didn't buy a car until 8 years later, so the bike was essential for my mobility. However with a change of work and my fitness being focussed on the gym, the bike faded into the background. I did'nt do much cycling at all for a few a years although whenever I got on the bike I always enjoyed it. Silly really - but that's how things go sometimes.

I hurt my back a few years ago which meant I had to give the gym a rest - ultimately for about 18 months - resulting on me getting back in the saddle instead. I just went out for 'round the block' rides  - 17 miles - which became my standard hour route. It remains the case even today. I tinkered around on the Miura for a while and strated cycling with Malc who had a Dawes tourer then. It was a pretty equal ride - he had better gearing but my bike was lighter. And then one day Malc suggested we go away to Mallorca and do some 'proper' cycling. We hired road bikes from 'Tramuntana Tours' (Soller) and frankly the rest is history. One Specialized Allez Elite later, complete with a growing amount of Easton kit on it, 'Precious' as my wife refers to it, is exactly that. I wonder if Easton do accessories for prams....I reckon The Boy would love some Easton stuff on his matter! 

So I've been road-biking alot in recent years. Went out this afternoon in fact. 46 km, 1 hr 40. Sunny weather. Doesn't get any better than that.

A friend of mine from University - Chirpy - lives in Derbyshire. I don't see him very often, which is a shame, but when we get together we have a great time. Last September he suggested I bring 'my old mountain bike' up to Allestree and we could go off-roading. Ummm - ok - sounded like a good idea to me. After catching a train we arrived in Belper - and began cycling - I would add, up a hill I would be happy climbing on 'Precious'. Jeepers Creepers it was steep. And never-ending! We eventually reached the route - or trail - not sure of the appropriate lingo - and 'Off-roaded' - just like the characters in 'The Fast Show'. It was pretty bumpy but excellent fun. And due to the fact the Miura was now quite old, I was quite bold on it. Basically anything went. I said to myself then I should do more of this. More adrenaline than roadie-ing - different, in a positive way. I think there's more adrenaline due to fact that the chance of injury seems to be closer to hand than when you're on a road bike. So needless to say I didn't do anymore MTB'ing that year!

Chirpy came down again last weekend. I've been out on the Miura 3 times since and I'm going out again tomorrow morning. Maybe this time I've got the bug? We did a couple of routes local to home - along the South Downs Way - up the hill that is usually the Bostal road climb out of Steyning and over the top to Chanctonbury Ring. Beautiful up there. Tomorrow I'm out early doors and cycling along the coast to Devil's Dyke and catching the South Downs Way to the other side of Worthing. What amazed me was the short distance involved when you're going as the crow flies. It was just 4 miles from Shoreham to Devil's Dyke! I'm giving myself until September, but if this MTB thing works out I think there could be an investment on the way....just in time for me to go up to Derbyshire again.

If anyone has any suggestions for good MTB's >£1000 then please tweet them to me or drop me an email at All advice gratefully received! 

Let's Off-Road!

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