Midlife Crisis Awakening

It was the mid 80’s and my early teens when I first stepped on a skateboard, and that skateboard was a banana board. After only a week of rolling up and down my street on that little thing I was hooked. Now when I wasn’t riding my BMX I was skating!

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Banana Board

It wasn’t very long before I needed something a larger than the banana board, so I then got myself a full size, albeit toy grade, skateboard.

As the summer months rolled on and my skills improved it was time for another upgrade, so I scraped together all of my pocket money and bought myself something that was well above my skill set: A Santa Cruz Hosoi with Indy trucks and Bullet 66 wheels.

By the end of that summer I had just about mastered the basics, including the Ollie, Nollie, No Comply and 720 Frontside Spin.

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Santa Cruz Hosoi

A few years later mountain biking hit the scene in a big way, and by the end of the 80’s my short-lived love affair with skateboarding came to an end as I spent more and more time on two fat tyres.

28 Years Later

It was summer 2018, and while out shopping I spot a toy skateboard for sale and buy it for my 9-year-old niece. She’d never actually ridden a skateboard before, but I knew she would love to try. Before showing my niece how it was done I decided to have a sneaky go first while no one was looking, and so for the first time in 28 years I stepped back onto a skateboard.

It was a wobbly start but before long I was cruising around the car park, and it was then that I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia followed by a little regret, regret that I stopped skating all those years ago. After the lesson I started to wonder if there were many people my age still skating, so I asked Google and it turned out that there are loads of them, in fact there are some still skating in their 70’s. I then heard about the Middle Age Shred Facebook group (MAS) which is specifically aimed at skaters aged 35 and over.

After joining MAS and introducing myself, a few members told me that they regularly meet at my local skatepark and suggested that I go along to the next session even though I didn’t have my own skateboard yet. The following week I headed down to my local skatepark and met the MAS guys and it was fantastic, one of them even brought along a spare board for me to try out. What really blew me away was how many skaters there were who were my age and older, there must have been at least 30 of them!
Once again I was hooked and my mind was made up: I’m buying a skateboard.

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My first day back on the board

Today

It’s been 4 months since I first stepped back on a skateboard and I’m now regularly frequenting my local skatepark. My setup is a Death Skateboards pool shaped deck with Ricta wheels and Film trucks from Native Skate Store.

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Death Skateboards pool shaped deck

I’m a lot more cautious skating now than I was when I was a rubbery-boned child. Falls are a lot harder and injuries take a little longer to heal, but despite all of that I’m loving it and making some progress. I’m slowly relearning the Ollie, I’ve mastered Powerslides, I’m hurtling down ramps, Kickturning on ramps, doing Frontside 720 Spins, all fairly basic stuff at the moment but improving a little more with every visit.

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My local park, complete with middle aged shredders

I do occasionally feel a little self-conscious when I’m on the board as I know there are people out there who don’t think you should be skateboarding when you’re over a certain age. The way I see though, if it’s ok to ride a bike, hit a golf or tennis ball, kick a football, ski, snowboard, run, or do any other kind of sporting activity after 40, then skateboarding should be no different.

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Low-profile MTB Fender

I’d been contemplating stocking compact flexible MTB mudguards for a little while now, but one thing was stopping me; I wasn’t sure just how effective such compact mudguards were. Sure they look good, but are they good?

On a personal level i’m not a fan of large MTB mudguards, especially those that mount on the steerer tube. I think they spoil the look of your pride and joy, and I’d rather have a face full of mud than that.

So I contacted one of my suppliers who stocked the Low-Profile MTB Fender, and they speedily sent it across for me to try out.
Within minutes I had attached the Fender to my bike with the included fasteners, then headed out to my nearest muddy trail.

There was definitely a reduction in dirt getting flung up at my face, but most importantly for me, my fork stanchions and seals weren’t getting caked in mud.

After I was happy that the Low-Profile MTB Fender worked as well as it looked, I stocked up on them at Bicycle Nuts and continue to use one myself.

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Another shot at running

Back in 2012 I tried my hand at running alongside my mountain biking. I was squeezing in a 6 or 7 mile run every other day during the week and I also took part in a few organised races, one of which was an extremely wet and cold 10k cross country (pictured below).

Sadly after only a year the running began to take a back seat due to so many other commitments until it eventually stopped altogether.

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Its now 4 years later and I have decided to give running another shot. So on Saturday night I dusted off my old trainers and GPS and hit the street at 6 o’clock the following morning.

All was fine until I hit the first notable incline when for some reason I started to get out of breath despite having what I thought was a pretty good level of fitness. Thankfully after the incline my breathing started to settle down again and the rest of the run was fine. I eventually made it back home in a time of 28 minutes and 44 seconds over 3.28 miles

During my second run a few days later I decided to make a conscious effort to focus on my breathing rhythm, so I tried the following: 3 steps while breathing in and 3 steps while breathing out, and that made the world of difference. During my third run I got my breathing rhythm down from a 3:3 to a 2:2. Breathing issue solved.

What next?

I’m very happy to have started running again. It should help me keep my fitness levels up between mountain biking and when i’m away from home without access to a bike. I’m also looking forward to running alongside my stepdad as he trains for next years London Marathon. I might even enter a half marathon myself as a target to aim for in early 2018, if that’s not getting ahead of myself! Watch this space.

Do any of you run and cycle, and do you find that the two compliment each other or not?

More than just a Water Bottle

OK it is just a water bottle, but what a class act!

Like most cyclists I have a number of plastic water bottles to hand, but when I discovered that SIGG make an aluminium sports one that fits a standard bottle cage I just couldn’t resist.

I already own a couple of very well used Classic SIGG Bottles, one of which must be at least 20 years old, so there was no doubt in my mind that the SIGG WMB Sports Bottle was going to be a quality piece of kit.

When the bottle arrived I thought, wow, looks even better in the flesh. The easy-grip surface works great and I couldn’t believe just how lightweight it was. The bottle is a real looker too so I couldn’t wait to take it out for its first run ride.

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I wanted to carry out a drip test to make sure that the three-stage sports cap was watertight, especially as my previous plastic bottle from another well known manufacturer had leaked from the cap thread since day one, so I filled her to the brim, reattached the cap and gave a good long upside down shake: No leaks. Hurrah!

How well would the SIGG fit my bottle cage? Perfectly, in fact better than the aforementioned plastic bottle which always felt too tight and a struggle to remove.

Putting the SIGG WMB Sports Bottle through its paces

The bottle looked amazing on my bike, enhancing its overall appearance (oh, I’m so vain!). I especially liked that the colour didn’t really match my bike, as this meant the bottle stood out even more, although it did happen to match my T-shirt.
Anyway, I started with a 10 mile road ride and as it was a very hot and humid I was already ready for my first swig from the new SIGG after just a couple of miles. To drink you just twist and pull the nozzle and it locks into the open position. The water-flow was controlled and felt fresher and more thirst quenching than drinking from a plastic bottle.

After the road ride I hit the Surrey Hills Trails. I started out on some smooth cross country sections followed by some fast and rough descents. I did notice the occasional rattle from the bottle on the roughest terrain, but that’s to be expected from an aluminium bottle. Eventually I decided to call it a morning and headed home.

Two weeks later and the SIGG WMB Sports is now my cycling bottle of choice. Only during the more intense off-road rides would I revert to the synthetic taste of a plastic version.

The bottle has some particularly useful features including an extra-large opening for easy cleaning and filling… and for adding ice cubes, plus a removable second stage cap which enables attachment of a Classic SIGG Screw Top. There’s also an elastic inner coating which is resistant to fruit acids, is tasteless and free from BPA and phthalates.

Having tested it for myself, I am ready to recommend my fellow cyclists and other active people follow suit and try these premium quality pieces of kit: looks good, feels good and…tastes good!

Bicycle Nuts now stocks the SIGG WMB Sports Touch Red & Sports Alu

 

 

The new Cycling Essential for Road & Trail Riding

Mountain biking and cleanliness seldom go hand in hand, so when I heard about the new Grease & Grime Remover Power Wipes by Velofresh I just had to give them a try.

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The Velofresh parcel arrived the day after I placed my first order; just in time for our planned blast around the Surrey Hills.

First impressions were very good, the packets were compact so would fit comfortably in my saddlebag; particularly useful as I dont often wear cycling jerseys with pockets. The packets were also light, something I know roadies would certainly appreciate.
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Within an hour of the wipes arriving my friend Mathew and I hit the road, first stop Newlands Corner Cafe.

Soon after we arrived at Newlands Corner we demolished two bacon baps and took our caffeine hits, and then it was time to break out the Power Wipes for the first time. A single wipe ate through the bacon bap grease and ketchup on my hands as well as the chain oil on my leg. Mathew also used a wipe to clean off the trail dust from his face.

We never looked so presentable leaving Newlands Corner before!

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Mathew and his clean face 🙂

Next we headed down to Shere village then onto the Surrey Hills MTB trails

As we we hurtled around the various trail sections I couldn’t help thinking that cleaning oil coated hands would be the real test for the wipes, so what really needed to happen was for a chain to come off. However after a full day riding rough terrain our chains remained firmly in position. They call that sods law!

The next day I decided to give my bike a thorough clean and finally got my hands caked in chain oil. Following a brisk scrub with a single Power Wipe the oil was gone!

Conclusion 

Velofresh certainly had cyclists in mind when they created Grease & Grime Remover Power Wipes: Compact / Lightweight / Powerful. I will certainly be back for more.

Deuter Energy Bag

Requirements  

A spare 29er inner tube has been taking up most of the space in my saddle bag for a long time, so I finally decided to seek out additional on-bike storage options.

I dont like carrying too much on my rides, just the bare essentials (Tube / Tube patches / Multi-tool / Plasters / keys / money / Phone), so something compact would be ideal. My Voodoo Bizango frame is quite small, so bags such as the triangular ones designed to fit the inner frame section were out of the question, especially as most of that space on my bike is already taken up by the water bottle.

I decided that what I needed was a top tube storage bag.

The search

As a stickler for product reviews, my search was very much based around what other cyclists were saying, and time and time again the same product kept showing up in web searches and forum discussions; the Deuter Energy Bag.

The Deuter bag sounded ideal: “Compact / water proof / quick and easy access / Secure / good value”, and crucially no negative reviews. I continued my search but couldn’t find any other bags that would fit the bill so I placed my order.

Fitting

When the bag arrived I suddenly realised that I hadn’t considered whether or not the straps would be long enough to fit around the oversized section of my MTB frame where the top tube and bottom tube are welded together. Such a consideration would not be necessary if I had a traditional frame.

So as I started attaching the bag to my frame the first strap was as feared slightly too short to reach around the oversized section, but that’s when I soon realised why the Deuter Energy Bag has 4 straps; To take into account different frame shapes and sizes. In the case of my Voodoo Bizango all I had to do was use one strap for the top tube and 2 straps for the headset. The unused strap was simply fastened to itself.

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Next I wanted to see how much I could squeeze into this compact bag. My Samsung A3 Phone, Multi-tool, Tube patches, Keys and wallet fitted comfortably. If energy bars were my thing I could have squeezed one of those in too.

Trial run

The bag performed faultlessly on the road and provided quick and easy access to the contents without the need to dismount. You could also grab an energy bar on the fly. Once I hit the dirt the bag also performed well, however I would recommend padding out the base of the bag to protect any delicate items such as your phone as well as your frame when riding off-road.

Conclusion  

Overall I am very happy with the Deuter Energy Bag despite it needing a bit of extra padding for the off-road trail; for that I can recommend a thick sock!

Why didn’t I think of that?

I recently had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments while searching for innovative products for Bicycle Nuts . I had come across the Bottlefix Ahead adaptor which allows the attachment of a water bottle cage directly to a threadless headset.

The Bottlefix Ahead is pure simplicity itself: You just attach it to a bottle cage using the two included screws, then replace your headset cap with the assembled Bottlefix and cage.

 

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I was already familiar with adaptors that allowed the attachment of water bottle cages to handlebars, but I have always been a little wary of metal clamps damaging the paintwork or clamps working loose. So finally a neat solution!

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The Bottlefix adaptors are already flying off the shelves in Germany where they are both developed and produced by Rixen & Kaul, and now I think its time we got to try them ⇒ here ⇐