I am now sufficiently recovered from Bike Radar Live to do a blog update. Huzzah!
The event was fun a bit to improve on, but a good start. The range of mountain bikes available to demo was a bit limited, particularly if you were very short (like me) or very tall (like Mr Toast). The mountain bike demo loop was a bit flawed too a lot of it was wide, with steep sandy berms and grassy climbs, but there was a woody section that was very tight singletrack with a couple of unavoidable technical features. As there was no indication of difficulty, there were a lot of families with small children riding it and coming a cropper, and that section of the demo loop was very congested. Ideally they could have done with a couple of different loops for riders of different abilities maybe next year!
As for the bikes Ill admit, I was a bit worried about demoing bikes, as I was scared that Id ride something and prefer it to the Professor. Fortunately, I neednt have worried!
First up was a Giant Anthem. Id demoed the womens specific last year, but this time I tried the standard model in extra small. The fit was actually very nice, good reach and lots of standover. I previously described the womens anthem as handling like an epileptic donkey. That was perhaps a touch harsh, but I still found the experience a bit overly brittle and twitchy. I think it just doesnt suit my style of riding perhaps if I was a proper cross country racing whippet, as opposed to a lazy trail centre bum! Still, massive props to Giant for actually having a good range of sizes available.
Then, there was the true test. The Lapierre Zesty 514L. This was the one I was most worried about Id loved it on my previous demo ride, but I hadnt really had the chance to put it through its paces. In a lot of respects, it was better suited to me than the Professor there was a decent amount of standover, without sacrificing too much of the reach. But it didnt feel as nice as the Professor, certainly not as smooth. Dont get me wrong, its a fantastic bike, and perhaps if the suspension was set up a little differently it would be right for me but Im glad Ive got my Stumpy. I prefer the feel of him, hes prettier, hes £600 cheaper and hes not French.
The other demos were a bit sillier. There was the quite frankly TERRIFYING tandem demo where Mr Toast and I sallied forth around Donington race track him on the front steering, me on the back stoking. Its very eerie to be pedalling on a bike with no control over the steering. I also had the unfortunate habit of inadvertently poking Mr Toast in the bottom whenever I shifted my grip on the handlebars, which he found slightly disconcerting. I saw some other couples on tandems going stupidly fast though, and I can see why Mr Toast’s best man Jaggy referred to them as ‘Human Suicide Missiles’.
Im still not quite sure what to make of tandems, but the people at JD Cycles were lovely, and clearly very enthusiastic about them. If you’re interested in tandeming, their site is a great resource.
On the Sunday I had the strange compulsion to demo a folding bike. Part of it was born out of necessity – I wanted to ride a bike, but there weren’t many in my size. But I also found them oddly compelling, and their practicality appeals to me – I could ride to work, and not worry about my bike being nicked. Plus…riding around Donington on a folding bike? How often am I going to get the chance to do that?
I rode a Brompton bike, and you know what? It was bloody great! I was expecting riding it, with its tiny wheels and three gears, to be a bit hard going – particularly going up hills . But it really wasn’t – it was a very nice little ride, and ideal for commuting.
I’d love to see some one doing Follow the Dog on a folding bike – it could join unicyclists and singlespeeders in the ‘wacky niche’ category.
Rest of the show was entertaining – Rachel Atherton having a cheeky dig at Tracy Mosely over skin suits again, Danny McAskill ‘off the computer’ wowing people with his trails skills, and impressive action on the dirt jumps and 4x courses.
Given that I crap myself if I get even a couple of inches of air, I can’t help but wonder what goes through their minds whenever they do a huge jump, or a risky move like a backflip.
So, generally a good laugh. Crepes were rubbish though.