Five Ten Impact Karver for wimmins

Yes, my first review is going to be about shoes.  I am a walking stereotype.

Five Ten Impact Karver (Women’s)

Long term readers of this blog may recall that I obtained my Five Tens in January 2010. At the time I described them as being “incredibly comfortable, and incredibly grippy!”.  But how have they fared over the past three years?

The answer is – very well.  Although they’re starting to show their age a bit with the interior of the back of the heel starting to come apart (which is probably partially my fault for trying to ram my feet in without full undoing the laces…), the soles are still solid and the bulk of the shoe is still as solid as ever.  This is pretty impressive given that these are the only shoes I ever go mountain biking in, and for a year or so they were also my commuting shoes too.

It’s even more impressive when you take into account that they survived two Sleepless in the Saddles and two Mountain Mayhems, including 2012’s which were… a trifle inclement, to say the least.  They’ve been through the washing machine several times and emerged clean and unscathed.

Durability aside, they’re also some of the most comfortable shoes that I own. I have awkward feet – one’s a size 6, the other a size 6.5, and they’re also very narrow, which is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.  I mean, seriously – there are many parts of my body I wish were narrower: my face, my thighs, my waist, my arms… but my feet?  They’re an absolute nightmare – the standard with is a D, and although many high street chains do wider fittings, absolutely bugger all companies do narrower ones.  Usually the inside of my shoes end up a mess of innersoles, stick-on cushions and extra socks, but the Karvers are actually pretty good for me straight out of the box – which is probably worth bearing in mind, as this may be a problem for women who do need wider shoe fittings.

Functionally, they’re great – very grippy and comfortable for riding, feeling secure on the pedals, but also comfortable for walking.  Aesthetically, they’re a bit marmite – I quite like them, but I have to admit I stopped wearing them to work after a colleague kept on making fun of them looking like ‘special shoes’ due to the supportive padding around the ankle.  I like the grey, black and magenta colour scheme (*cough*) particularly now it matches my Scott Scale 29, *cough*) – they clean up from being muddy pretty well too.  I quite fancy the new Karvers, but really? White? White?  Who, in the name of Odin’s beard, makes mountain biking shoes in white? I’m guessing that decision wasn’t made by anybody who lives in the UK…

So, all in all, personally I’d really recommend the Karvers. Which is a good thing really, as there’s practically bugger all else in terms of flats for women mountain bikers…

All the gear….

Right!  Quite a while back I added a tag entitled ‘All the gear, no idea’.  The aim of this tag was to discuss when I bought something new, but I also planned to do reviews.  Mainly because the bulk of my purchases are biking clothes, and reviews of biking clothes are somewhat in short supply if you favour women-specific stuff.  So, without further ado…

Two Updates, One Night.

Like buses, and all that…

So, about my Scott Scale Contessa 29er.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you, eh? Truth be told, neither did I – I’ve been interested in the idea of 29ers for a while.  Obviously there’s the word-of-mouth aspect, with several friends (and a husband) jumping on the big-wheeled bandwagaon and thoroughly endorsing it.  There’s the magazines who bleat on incessantly about them.  And there’s the slight issue that some manufacturers seem to be switching exclusively to 29ers.

But there’s always been one, tiny, tiny problem.  And that problem is me, being tiny (vertically, at least..) Given that I’ve struggled in the past to find 26ers that fit (women specific being too short in the top tube, standard models being too lacking in standover), I imagined that there wouldn’t be much choice in the 29er department.  I’d demoed the Giant Anthem 29er, and that had been rather nice, but sadly I didn’t have enough time with it to make a real judgement.  I’d demoed the Specialized Camber, which was almost nice but had impractical standover  – it was fine once I’d got going, but was hard to mount, dismount, stop and start.  Ah.

I’ll also wasn’t that bothered about getting a full-susser, as I’m quite happy with the Professor.  I wanted to get something that I could put some miles in with, preferably a hardtail.  Mainly because winter makes the Professor sad…

I was pondering a Niner EMD, as they do tiny.  But as fate would have it, I was browsing the classifieds on Singletrack World (which I rarely do, because I’m normally posting nonsense on the chat forum), when Mr Toast piped up over my shoulder, “Oh look, a Scott Scale Contessa 29er in small…”

After a bit of research, I bit the bullet and bought the bike.  I may possibly have missed out on paying my share of the mortgage that month, and been a bit stingy with the Christmas presents, but… NEW BIKE.


When it arrived, it was a surprise and a relief to find that it did actually fit – it actually feels quite similar in terms of length and standover to the Professor.  Whilst Mr Toast did frivolous things, like assembling the bike, checking the brakes and immediately assessing what upgrades were needed, I did sensible, practical and important things, like ordering getting matching purple grips and pedals, and later a much needed pink chainstay protector from Swinnertons.

I decided to get familiar with the bike before taking it on anything remotely techy.  After pootling around fireroads though, I wanted to see how I’d get on FtD.  For some reason, I’ve had it in my head that there’s no way I’d be able to ride FtD again on a hardtail – my knees are rubbish, and I’d probably gotten too used to my skills compensator, etc, etc.  So I picked sections 9 – 12, as they’re relatively tame, and don’t have too many narrow bits through trees that I could clip the comedy handlebars on.

And I didn’t die.

It was actually good fun.  So much so that I finished the trail and did Tackaroo too – strangely I felt like I had a lot more control.  I don’t put that down to wheel size though, I put that down to my forks and shock on the Professor being set far too soft.  Mr Toast has been banging on for ages that I need more pressure, and now I think I can see why.

Since the first ride I’ve been around a few times, and getting better each time.  I’m also really glad that I commute to work by bike now, because although I went months without going off-road, at least I’ve kept some level of fitness.  As opposed to the traditional three months of hibernation, followed by biking and vomiting by the start of where section 13 used to be.

Looking forward to getting more riding in this year – hopefully Mr Toast won’t have quite the same amount of overtime (and hopefully I won’t either), plus we’ve found a great daycare place for Benny so we can go biking together again.



An update!

Right, WordPress updated, spam comments about handbags and the Middle East dealt with, and back to the blog!

So, what have I been up to?  Well, some of my racing schedule has been determined this year – I’m giving Mountain Mayhem a miss, sending Mr Toast out to be some sort of giant mountain biking guinea pig at the new venue.  He’s racing with the Chase Trails team of four (Ian, henceforth known as Crazy Ian, is soloing again). Three fifths of the intrepid Chase Trails chaps can be seen here, stalking Pat Adams’ house late at night, which isn’t weird at all.

img_2225Photo taken by famed event photographer Rob Crayton, who hangs outside Pat Adams’ house late at night with a camera.

I’ll be providing moral support… or pointing and laughing.  Time will tell!  At least there will be less chance of rain if I’m not riding…

I will be riding Sleepless in the Saddle though, and I have to confess to contemplating the Wiggle 6 Hour Enduro, which is also at Catton.  After all, six hours is only slightly longer than it took me to do one lap at Mayhem last year! \o/  I’d be soloing it, as Mr Toast is rather bogged down with work at the moment.

I’ve done a bit of riding this year, mostly getting used to..


TEN TON TESS! Also known as Tess of the Hurr Durrbervilles – a Scott Scale Contessa 910 29er. I’ve not taken her on a full ride of Follow the Dog yet, preferring to put the miles in on the tamer fireroads just to get used to her ridiculously large wheels and her quite frankly preposterous wide bars.  I’ve done a bit of FtD on her, and some off-piste-probably-shouldn’t-talk-about-them trails on a group ride.

I’ve also become an aunt twice in the space of two months, so I’m plotting to buy two balance bikes in about 18 months for my nephews.  I’m totally going to live my gnar radcore biking dreams vicariously through them – it’ll be awesome.

Aaaand I’ve also been keeping up with my resolution to get back into drawing more, with my project “A Benny a Week”.  The aim is to produce one piece of art a week featuring my dog, which will hopefully improve my artistic skills.

I should be fairly good at drawing Tibetan Terriers by the end of 2013 at the very least.

So, here’s to more biking, more drawing and more nephews.  Huzzah!