Decision time

The most popular trail near to Wageningen is the Posbank. It is a great trail, with lots of hills (by Dutch standards), beautiful woodlands and impressive heathland. Last weekend we went there with the club. It was perfect weather, sunny, little wind, not too hot.  As usual we split into groups so that everyone could go at the pace they were comfortable with. We had a great ride, coffee half way round and with spring-fresh green leaves coming out on the bilberry shrubs it was all looking lovely. If you read my blog last week, you will know that I had found out that nasty noise my bike was making was caused by a crack in the frame. So, whilst riding the trail, I was wondering about what its replacement would be.  What wheel size?  Hardtail or fully? Carbon or Aluminium?  What helped was that (with my bike being a potentially lethal weapon) I had borrowed my daughter's bike. That is a hardtail, but with a decent front fork.  Normally if I ride a hard tail it is a rental and not such brilliant quality, so this was a revelation. I discovered that at least some of the extra grip and so on that I thought came from my rear suspension was coming from the front fork. Of course in rough mountainous country a fully would still be useful, but when it comes to it on holiday the trails  I ride are also not so rocky. But above all, I had forgotten what an unbelievably great direct experience it is without the suspension removing all the effects of the surface of the trail.  So the new bike should be a hardtail, not a fully then. Another thing I paid attention to which bits of the trails I enjoyed.  It was not especially the bits where I could go fastest, but the twisty, winding, swoopy bits. So, not a 29" but a 26" (but no one makes those any more) or 27.5"wheels. And finally, my daughter's bike was definitely lighter than mine and that certainly helped the ride.  So a Carbon frame would be a good idea.

So that very afternoon I called in to my LBS to see what was possible. As it turned out, at least at first sight, less than I hoped. Apparently bike manufacturers have a very strange way of running their business.  Every year they bring out new models, which means that they either have to sell all the bikes they make in one year, or sell the remainder at a discount.  So to prevent that, they make less bikes than they can sell. Which means that at this time of the year, half the models (or model/size combinations) in the catalogue are not available anymore.  But although there were none left in the catalogue, the shop was super helpful and they managed to ask around and found what I was looking for in another shop. And you can see the result in the photo below.  A beautiful Cube 27.5 inch-wheeled, Carbon-framed hardtail.  It did great in my local woods and tomorrow we go to the Posbank to see how it does there...

For a review of the Posbank trail, see here.

Ah, that's what the noise is

For quite some months now, my bike has been making strange creaking and cracking noises, especially if I bounce up and down a bit.  It has gradually been getting louder and I had been trying desperately to track it down.  Maybe the bottom bracket?  Still there after that needed replacing last year.  Perhaps the headset?  No, replacing it didn't help. The saddle or saddle pen?  Stand up and it still does it. Maybe it was in the rear suspension, but taking that out and carefully cleaning all the joints didn't help.  So finally I had a really good look today and the slightly raised scratch under the bottom bracket that I hadn't paid much attention to earlier was indeed a nasty crack that was actually quite scary when examined closely. So now the mystery is solved and it is just a matter of working out what to about it.

Strangely enough, the reason that I finally found this was that the bike was also otherwise misbehaving itself.  A couple of weeks ago, all of a sudden the rear brake lost pressure.  However, after leaving it overnight with the lever bound up, it seemed to recover nicely (as promised by the wisdom of the internet). Then last week I was out with the club and the rear brake completely lost pressure, dropping a pad in the process. I took it into my LBS and they bled it for me, so I was expecting no problems today.  However, after only a few minutes in the woods today, a pad fell out again.  After a bit of a search I found the pad and refitted it (astonishing patience of the others whilst they waited for me to faff around with it), but then it fell out again after only a short distance, the very next time I bounced over a root. So clearly a somewhat bigger problem than just a bit of air in the cable.

When mountain bikes are working properly they are wonderful machines, but not on days like today.

Mad March Hares

There is a saying* that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Judging by the complete absence of any other mountain bikers last Sunday, it is not only scorching summer sun but also large quantities of rain and wind that deters sane people. Especially towards the end of the afternoon, it was really quite impressively high work pedalling into the wind. It was not only the weather, the day before I had been out with the club and my energy reserves were still depleted from that. However, it was that or sitting drinking tea and making polite conversation the friends my wife was visiting, so storms and tiredness did not seem too bad. We were visiting Almelo, which is a town (officially a city) about an hour's drive northeast of Wageningen, in the province of Overijssel.  The route next to Amelo starts from the village of Wierden.  The landscape is quite flat and open, so the makers of the trail really had to do their best to make something of it. I had been forewarned by the reviews on the MTB routes site that there was quite a lot of asphalt, so that was not such a problem, but there was also a lot of narrow singletrack sandy paths snaking alongside fields and some really great pieces of small woodland with nice windy tracks made through them. The woodland was nearly all broad leaf, so the picture below is completely atypical, but that was the only moment when it stopped raining long enough to take a photo without destroying my phone. The singletrack was not really difficult or technical, but did require me to concentrate on my steering. What was difficult was the sand.  Probably in more normal weather conditions it would have been all right, but with with everything so incredibly wet, it was really hard going cycling through wet sand for a very high proportion of the route. And yes, I did see a March hare as it dashed across a field in front of me, and it did look at me like it thought I was mad.

MTB route Wierden


*From a song by Oscar Wilde

New group for spring

This week it is the official start of spring, which this year has come together with a dramatic solar eclipse - not that we got to see it through the mist, but at least it gives me an excuse to post Danny McAskill's stunning photo (below). The other new event for spring is that the local club started a new mountain bike group.  Actually, they started last week, but then I was still riddled with flu so unable to join them, making today my first time.  They have had a mountain bike group for many years, but they claim to go through the woods at such a high average speed that it was clearly not aimed at non-competitive mountain bikers like myself. So it was with some anticipation that I joined the new group this morning to see what it would be like. It was great!  About 20 people turned up, so we split into two groups.  I joined the slower of the two on the grounds that I've still not 100% recovered from my flu and we had a great ride through the woods.  It was very sociable, I chatted to lots of friendly people as we went along and the speed was fine.  It would have helped if the weather had cooperated, we arrived back rather on the wet side, but if you think rain and mud are a problem then mountain biking may not be the best activity for you. Anyway, nice ride and I'll certainly be joining them again.

Danny McAskill Rides TheEclipse

© Rutger Pauw / Red Bull Content Pool

Tour Club Wageningen starts new MTB group

Toerclub WageningenThe local cycling club, Toerclub Wageningen have had a mountain bike group for years, and they organize tours for everyone both in the summer (the 'hell of Ede-Wageningen') as well as a couple of excellent winter tours every year. Their mountain bike group goes at an average speed for up to 25 km per hour, which has always put me off a bit as being definitely faster than I like to go (ok, than I'm able to go).  However, it seems that I'm not the only one who feels this, as they have announced that they are starting a new group for those who go mountain biking more for fun than with the intention of racing through the woods as fast as they can.  It is not a group for beginners, but it is intended to be more relaxed than the established group.  If you are interested please inform the club (mtb <at>  The first ride is on Saturday 14th March, leaving at 09:15.  You need to bring your own mountain bike and wearing a helmet is compulsory. 


"There is no time to beat, there is Lyme to beat".  With these words Casper Freriks announced his intention to cycle an amazing 400 km in one day to raise money for helping victims of Lyme disease.  If it is diagnosed early enough then it can be treated without great problems, but for some patients it has dreadful consequences. Casper is going to cycle on his racing bike from Langroek to Yersjeke to Meijel, finishing on the Eltenberg on May 9th 2015. May is Lyme awareness month.


You can follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter (@lymetrial). If you want to sponsor Casper, you can mail him at c_freriks <at> or donate directly to 'Stichting voor Lymepatiënten' bank accoount number NL49 INGB 0003 504 330. Casper is also looking for volunteers to ride part (or even all) of the way with him.