Merida Summer Monkey - what a nice change from Mountain Mayhem.  On Father's Day there always seems to be a raft of thinks for Dads's to do which don't involve spending time with the family.  2016 was no exception, should you wish you could: dress up in old kit, ride an old bike and participate in Eroica Brittania, dress up in anything and ride from London to Brighton with 5,000 other people or as I did enter a nice local endurance race. Summer Monkey run by the guys at Gorrick offers 2, 3, 4 and 6 hour options. 6 seemed like a good opportunity and so I turned up bright and early for a 9am start and eventually lined up on the grid. 

My objective for the race was to finish, to test kit, to pace myself and to have fun. Two out of four is what I achieved. Kit was tested, my cleats and shoes came up creaking and in urgent need of attention.  Pace myself - given the short course racing I have done a little of recently my pacing was shocking and by the time I had ridden myself towards the box my shoes and cleats had decided they didn't like each other and were complaining a lot.  My first three laps towards the front of the field were however brilliant fun and the Singletrack on the course was great, tight, twisty and flowing.

So a dnf for me, not what I really wanted but I draw some good news, I am at least fit and providing I manage myself I can ride well and get around in Canada.  For events later in the year, Bonty 24:12, Big Dog and Torq 12:12 team events I should be going well.

Pivot prep: Following the race I dropped my new but already trusted Pivot429sl off with local friend and mechanic Andy of Purplebikeshed in Farnborough for a tune up and apparently warranty work on the Rockshox Reverb which is already failing.

As you may have seen in my previous post the Pivot is new and so far I am absolutely loving it.  With 120mm Fox 34's and a full carbon frame it seems ready for anything I am going to throw at it whilst still only weighing 26lbs.

Built principally for BC there are no kit changes planned for the race, currently running WTB Trailboss and Nineline tyres in light fast rolling guise these tyres seem to do what it says in the label. These are fitted to the only old piece of kit some American Classic Carbonator wheels which are so smooth and fast.  As previously mentioned I will be Using a dropper post which does allow me to get low and move the bike around on the exciting descents for which BC is famous.

Now two weeks away I will admit I am turning my mind to kit for BC, having completed it last year I have the benefit of hindsight in this regard.  A decent air bed and earplugs are important as well as the compulsory kit that is described by the race organisers and available from them at reasonable charge (ready for collection at sign on). Additional to that should be clean kit for each day, a couple of gilets, light jacket, gloves, helmet, trail tools etc.  Oh and a camelback because I need to drink lots and the event doesn't have enough fire roads to ride with bottles.

And so, now with a little over a week to go I have had to replace the Reverb with a Specialized Command post, warranty return was just not going to be quick enough.  My rear tyre seems to be trying to shed some knobs so a replacement is in order.  Another WTB Nine Line - so fast it certainly gives an advantage. Aside for this the Pivot is now running perfectly - many thanks to PurpleBikeShed for sorting it all out for me.

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The Last few weeks riding saw me enjoying the trails of the Wicklow Mountains on both Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  The trails around Ticknock, Djouce and Ballinastoe are challenging, steep and provide a definite technical challenge with rocks, roots (often wet), ruts and chutes to keep you on your toes.

Monday 4th July - Skipping through to the near present day and we are together as a team, packed, assembled and now in North Vancouver. Having just completed a ride on the North Shore with Endless Biking, we covered much of Stage 5 and to be honest, even though I have ridden many of the trails it was still a proper eye opener.  I was repeatedly grateful for the dropper post and 120mm of suspension out front.  The trails here have a certain quality and technicality that is hard to find in the UK. No wonder people keep coming back.

image4 [20599]We're staying at the Holiday in and have so far met groups of riders from Dubai, Peru, Austrailia, New Zealand (I may even have a contact for some riding around Wellington) and South Africa and of course Blighty, even bumping into an old friend from Nirvana Cycles rides who is doing the race this year.

Tuesday 5th July - Registration Day - there is a bit of a buzz in the hotel, lots of folk heading out for a spin in the morning. I do hope they all come back in one piece, unlike the chap we met last year on day one nursing a broken arm. These trails bite.

image3 [20600]Wednesday 6th July - Day 0 - having now handed over many of my worldly goods including the bike, been effectively briefed on the benefits of personal hygiene, not eating poo, fighting off brown bears, Cougars in Whistler (both types), riding faster than by buddy to not get mauled by a grizzly bear and that spooning is the thing to do if we get lost and cold we are now on a big yellow school bus to Naimo for a ferry transfer, then another bus to Cumberland for tomorrow's stage 2. Sorry for the very long sentence.

We were pleased to find out that Brett Tippie will be providing entertainment for most of the week. He does a very good impression of bonkers and can tell jokes!!

I am expecting to provide an updates a couple of times during the week, but am expecting them to be short and sweet owing to the fact we are supposed to be racing and will be super stoked after enjoying an instalment of the Ultimate Singletrack Experience.

Words - Andy Smallman