It’s not about the bike, Lance Armstrong once said, but that’s clearly not the case in mountain biking: it’s all about the bike.
More to the point, it’s about the choice of bike. You’d think a stage race over the lumpy and squelchy Welsh countryside would force a selection of bike, with everyone on very similar machines. But, as we found out during a walk around the campsite of the 2011 TransWales, camera in hand, it’s quite the opposite.
There was an exotic mix of carbon and titanium, rigid and full suspension bikes on display. You couldn’t pigeon hole all the different flavours of mountain bikes here even if you tried.
We spotted rigid singlespeeds and 29er carbon hardtails, 120mm lightweight trail bikes and traditional race-ready hardtails with flat bars and bar ends and lots of 2×10. Longer travel trail bikes with burly builds too, and lots of riser bars and chunky tyres. But not that many mudguards. Odd considering it always rains in Wales.
Matt Page, winner of the solo category, poses with his Rocky Mountain Element
Sergio Leal and the race-ready BH carbon hardtail - we'd hazard a guess that it's probably not the most comfortable ride but it sure will be super quick
Scott Cornish and his Niner Air 9. The stage race is ideal territory for 29ers, and there were plenty on show
Paul Whittaker and his Giant Anthem - almost completely hidden underneath a heavy coating of mud and dust
Paul Burton proved that you don't need suspension, or gears, for a race like TransWales. Nice front mudguard setup. Bar ends on a riser bar though?
Lee Monks chose a Merida 96. Proper lightweight option here with SID forks and SRAM 2x10. It all spells fast
Gary Lake's Whyte T-120. Full suspension bikes with 120mm of travel are perfect choices for most UK riding, and take to stage races and other enduros nicely
Gary Cousins and his Merida Big. Nine. Merida are getting into 29ers and this is the company's carbon hardtail offering. It looks fantastic, especially with the continuous curve of the top tube all the way to the dropouts
David Langridge opted for an Orange Five, a bike that will handle everything and more, that the Welsh landscape can throw at you