Sunday, 4 January 2009


"I am small but I am strong
I'll get it on with you
If you want me to
What else can I do

Everyone would take a cue from anything you do " *

No Jeff today . He's ,er , recuperating. His tumble on the Rize the other day is a bit worse than he first thought. Nothing broken, but he feels like he's been in a car crash.
I'm meeting a few of the lads up at Rivington barn at 0830. I'm taking the Cannondale Rush Carbon out . The first go for me. Last night I've swapped round the brake levers to my way of thinking and fitted a quick release on the seat post clamp. Not exactly straightforward either. The brakes are industry standard Shimano XT. A good set of brakes .Plenty power and feel.Unfortunately they're left and right specific,so ,rather than faff around bleeding the hoses etc , I take off the grips ,slide off the levers and just flip them over. Not technically correct ,but they feel OK. The fluid reservoir is now on the bottom of each lever and gets in the way of the shifters a little. It's a niggle really,but my experience of the Avids and the Formulas on the other bikes with their palindromic ability makes a heap of sense. With a two bolt open clamp on the lever they can be swapped in minutes with no issues at all.
Niggle two is the seatpost clamp. I cant believe you can still buy a mountainbike that doesnt have a quick release lever. Lowering the saddle on tricky descents is such a fundamental part of MTBing.
Both minor issues , I suppose ,that if you're laying down upwards of three and a half grand,could easily be sorted before you leave the shop , but also could easily be sorted in the factory.Anyway...
So , I make an extra special effort and get myself out of the pit extra early. I've decided to ride it up to the hills and back.It all helps. I was having second thoughts as I was leaving our house at around 0715.Very cold.The first few miles were tortuous,the windchill biting my face on the drop into Wigan.I was well wrapped up though and soon warmed up on the long climb out of Wigan .
First impressions riding the Rush. On the road I have it locked out front and rear. It's messing with my head. I know I'm riding a MTB , but the tyres are rolling so well ,it doesnt feel too far behind my roadbike. I might add ,my roadbike is a top of the range model. From 1976. Hmm.
The first time I turn 'on ' the shock is on a little shortcut through some sneaky woods. The ground is baked rockhard ,up a short tricky climb ,no problem , and down the other side. The bike feels tight and flickable. I dont know how much of a complement this is , but , it feels akin to my vintage Diamond Back Axis. Direct , incisive, purposeful,words like that.
So I meet the lads. Gareth , Stu and Andy Rudd have made the effort.It's a few degrees colder up here with bits of sheet ice still here and there. It's gonna be good.
Just before we set off I notice the first problem. The seatpost is slipping down . Ace. That'll be that fundamentally neccessary QR lever I've cobbled on . The brakes dont feel too hot either. That'll be that ' just flip em over and they'll be OK ' setup then. Doubleace. Theyre working though . Probably just a tad better than the old school canti's on my Axis. It's like going back in time .
Not much I can do about it though . We set off up the climb at the back of the hall. The Rush just feels super efficient. The rear shock is in the inbetween 'pro-pedal' setting. the conditions are good though ,so maybe I'm not asking too much of it. The trail is bone dry . The tyres are working well ,perfect even , but I'm sure if it was ' normal ' conditions i.e. muddy mud ,they'd be struggling.
The rest of the climb up is much of the same . Mostly dry with the odd bit of sheet ice. Nothing too difficult to negotiate. Andy has a mechanical plaguing his progress. After some faffing it turns out to be a sticky cassette body. Not something repaired trailside.
We head on up to the Pike. A benchmark climb if ever there was one. Again it just feels spot on . That tricky corner isnt even remotely tricky. And it feels so stiff in the right places . Inputs of power to the pedals urge the bike onward. It's a bloody revelation. It's a lightweight ,coming in ( apparently ) at under 25lbs,but it's more than that. Again , that's around the weight of my 20 yr old rigid DB. This feels so stiff at the cranks . Light ,stiff , efficient . It cant be any good on the downhills.
I get to the top of the Pike , blowing hard . You still have to pedal the damned thing. It's that kind of bike .
So we have a minute on the Pike. Or two. The seat is slipping again ,but I'm putting it down anyway for the 'benchmark ' downhill.
The drop 'off the back ' is as tasty as ever and doesnt disappoint. It looks a little more eroded than of late. I've not been up here for a month or so . The Rush feels superb . Planted. The bonkers carbon lefty fork ( fork ? ) is ace. I do the first bit ,dropping off the rocky ledges, not sure what's going to happen . The brakes really arent working and theyre letting everyone know ,screaming like a banshee. I stop as it flattens out ,then open it up on the next rutted bit.Obviously the rear shock is fully 'on ' at this point. Fantastic. As I hit the cobbled roady bit at the bottom it just floats . Turning precisely.It feels closer now to the Meta 5.5 or it's stablemate the Rize. Solid.
Only 4".
Right . Decision time . We can go left and on over the moors to certain death ,or right and down the the ' Ice Cream Run' to the caff. Red pill ,blue pill.
Blue pill.
Seatpost is playing up again. You'd think with over 20 yrs of experience I'd be able to improve on a £3.5K bike by bodging on a QR in the kitchen at midnight. It turns out to have loads of grease on it. That cant be helping. Whilst I'm wiping it off with a tangerine ( ! ) ,we bump into Jon Wyatt going the other way . No tea and toast for him the bloody masochist short wearer.
Soon we're at the top of the Ice Cream Run . Icy today . Sheets of it nicely placed on the first few corners. Take it easy now. This is another 'benchmark ' of a downhill. I love it.
I open up the Rush and let it rip . Well ,as much as is prudent ,having very little in the way of brakes , a slippy seatpost , and ice hiding all over. The first bit proper opens up with some nice ruts and rocks . Just right for grabbing a stupid carbonfibre lightweight and spitting it out the other side ,arse over tit. I'm not convinced the skinny tyres ,as good as they have been up to now , can handle the slab dropoff, so for the first time in years I go around it. Carrying speed over big loose cobbles the bike gobbles it up . The next bit has a few options. There's an 'upper' and 'lower' . The upper is the easier ,i.e. less rocky , than the lower with a corner that I love , but today theres a jogging type lady running up so I have to go for the lower ,i.e, much more rocky , section.
Again the rush seems bulletproof. It's floating over stuff that it has no business doing . Really very good. I've got my weight right over the back , so maybe I'm taking some of the load off the lefty up front , but it's working well and I'm flying.
I hit the last corner and the home straight ,and blam! backwheel puncture. Trust me to get a puncture on a lefty equipped bike but it be the back wheel. Ah ,well. It's those tyres . I'm utterly convinced at this point that a proper mansize pair of tyres would transform this bike into possibly the perfect go anywhere type thingy. There's always a situation where it might be out of its depth ,and to be fair , it's not been overly hammered today , but if it's that big that it cant handle it you'd probably need a FR/DH anyway. It's pretty impressive.
Jeff complained the BB was a bit low for his liking . Maybe it is . Maybe that's why it feels like my old DB Axis. I suspect it's more a 'riding style ' issue than anything else . With your weight over the back, dropping off ledges at speed is a doddle,the front end unweighting just nice. It begs to be ridden .Hard and fast.
Cafe . Usual thing . Big slab of cake and some ' Earl'.
I'm riding home . Yay. Brilliant idea that is after sitting in a warm caff.
No prob. Just turn the bike 'off ' again. Once again it is transformed into a super dooper mile muncher. A few big hills to attack on the way home and even 'big ringed it ' ,spinning up the dual carriageway back home ,and even blew my legs off cranking up the last climb of the day ,shifting down the the middle ring for the last bit. Like I said . Hard and fast . It's that kinda bike.
Sat here now , I dont think I feel quite as tired as I should for the effort I've put in. Maybe that's tomorrows blog.That's it . It does everything that a stupid old rock hard rigid XC bike does but it doesnt hurt as much . There was a time not long ago when full sussers 'intruded ' on the experience. It doesnt do that either . It's just spot on.
So . Would I have one ? Yes .
Have I recently won the lottery ? No
Assuming I had , I'd swap the tyres for something 'local ' , sort out a QR that works,and maybe even switch the bars for some old size dia ones. I'm nitpicking ,but I find the OS ones a bit overly stiff .
By the way , the brakes work fine the other (wrong ) way around.
But that Rize is pretty bloody good as well .......
TIM, 40 tomorrow.
* Cabron . Red Hot Chili Peppers.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Bet it was a 'fresh' ride :P

    Got my circlip pliers this morning, so I can finally finish servicing my hub on the handjob and start coming out again.

    Posted at 05.18?!? You turned into a vampire or what?

    Hope you have a great birthday by the way. Y'auld sod. All this were fields in my day...