Saturday, July 17, 2010

We are going on a Bear Hunt

When my children were younger I used to read to them avidly- like most dads.
One of the stories I liked most, which fortunately they enjoyed too was 'Going on a Bear Hunt'. For the uninitiated its about a journey through a variety of different terrains and the regular proclamation that fear was not on the agenda, well something like that.

Well last Saturday brought a similar Journey. I was joined by Simon and we decided to head North.

Not North as say, North into the Wolds. But north and north again.
Into and over the Wolds, across the Vale of York, Dalby Forrest and onto the Wild North Yorkshire Moors.
I was quite content that no large fury mammal was going to be able to out pace me, but with the weather forecast threatening the warmest day of the year, and strong south westerly breezes I was slightly concerned about the rigours of the road.

The plan was to cycle to Grosmont, to get the steam train back to Pickering and then get a lift back home.

As Simon had not been through Dalby Forrest I thought it would be a good idea to include it in our schedule. On my map it showed a turn off midway through the Forrest that cut through to the moor, so it was not too much of a diversion.
Dalby Forrest is used by Mountain Bikers and is often the host for the National Mountain biking championships. On a weekend it is bustling with our 'wide tyred' colourful cousins especially at weekends. Although we are all cyclists their appearance, language and gestures are very different I guess the closest comparison would be between skiers and snowboarde.It pretty much consists of great climbs and eye watering descents even on the black top roads which are used to access the myriad of Forrest trails.

After about ten miles into the Forrest I was starting to feel the fatigue of a weeks cycling and there was as much 'grunt' as gradient and we had not even come to our turn off.
A few miles further we exited the Forrest which definitely was not supposed to happen.

A friendly ranger stopped and pointed out to us that the turning we were looking for was one of the mountain bike tracks, which eventually turned into a road.

I don't like the word 'Eventually.

Its a long word with too many letters, it takes more than a second to say. In my mind it often describes something a task or journey that is harder and longer than is anticipated.

I was reminded of my Bear song ....... 'You cant go over it, you cant go under it.........you have to go through it'

Simon and I both looked at our brand new tyres and decided that common sense/ cowardice should prevail. We would retrace our tracks and enter the moor on a more conventional road.
The A169!!!!!

All though this road was conventional in that it was made of tarmac it had been adapted to ensure that any cyclist would end up with blistered hands and a numb bum. There were pot holes ever few feet and the surface felt like it had been covered with golf balls
Added to that the road was steep, testing and winding in the same direction as the wind which meant that our speed nullified any cooling effect of the wind - making it very hot.

The views were breathtaking though and there were no bears, although this is where they filmed 'An American Werewolf in London'.

With our earlier detour we had added on an extra 20 miles so we decided to stop at Goathland or for TV viewers Aidensfield (Heartbeat)

All in all it was a great ride, I just love going on the moors.



SKINS

Sunday saw my first proper evaluation of my new skins clothing.

I have agreed to do a cross section of rides to fully test out the clothing during the Tour de France.

This will take in some of the features of a tour. My assignment is as follows:-

Week 1: Time Trial (15km over a flat route)
Week 2: Hill stage (120km which takes in two hills – one between 5 and 8% and the other between 10 and 12%. Neither should be any more than 5km of climbing)
Week 3: Road stage (150km flat route)
On Sunday I completed the Time Trial. I completed the ride in 26'15" with an average speed of 21.3 mph. My evaluation is as follows:-

Bib Shorts
What I wear over my engine is the most important piece of cycling clothing for me.

Whether you wear shorts or bib shorts if you are not comfortable, getting any rhythm is nigh on impossible and it can can ruin your ride experience.

Having large quads I do find all my bib shorts too restrictive on the lower leg hem, which often has grippers or some form of localised elasticity.

With skins the material does the work unaided, hugging the leg rather than strangling it and making it feel warm and secure.

I don't know what Multi-D Anatomic Carbonium means in describing the chamois but its net effect was like sitting on a feathered cushion, a feeling I like, but rarely experience outside my lounge.
At the same time there was no unwanted movement within the saddle.
The material felt good to the touch and was sympathetic with all movement.

These get 10/10 in my book
Base layer tank top

I have always been a wearer of compression type undergarments and for me this was an area where I could make significant comparisons. The skins base layer was far thinner and more breathable than the competition yet it still retained compression qualities in the right places. On such a hot day I would have expected to felt as if I were being 'poached' but the garment seemed to have a cooling effect.
I wish they sent me two! I have not seen anything like it on the market.

These get 11/10 !!!!!

Short Sleeved Jersey
After ensuring that I had chosen the right size my first impressions of this garment was that it was too small for my barrel chested frame and I was overcome with a sense of disappointment.

However this feeling was short lived.

This is compression clothing of the highest order.

Made up of a number of different panels the material is designed to move the way your body does and in the same direction. Its not just a design concept that you get to read on the box you can actually feel it.

With meshed under arm vents, reflective logo and vertical pockets at the rear it also oozed style. The material was silky to the touch and felt great inside and out.

For me it was not the most flattering of garments to wear but that's about the manikin and not about the garment.

These get 9/10


Summary

Skins are pretty much how they are described, like a second skin.

If you closed your eyes for a moment it would not be implausible to believe you were riding naked apart from wearing a helmet. The price range is competitive with top of the range cycling clothing but with a lot more to offer.

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