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Winter mountain biking tips and tales with team Mountain Trax - Vauxhall Motors

17:52 7th December 2012 by Bikemagic
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Some great endurance racing news: the Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team has been announced this week and we will be seeing riders Ben Thomas and Tim Dunford at events across Britain and abroad during 2013. According to their press release, ”The riders Ben Thomas and Tim Dunford have risen to the top of the sport in the UK and in 2013 they look to cement that position whilst also aiming for big results at some of the world’s toughest endurance events.”

We will be hearing a lot from these guys over the coming months and wish them the best for the season ahead

The other good news is that they are both really nice guys, and the really, REALLY good news is that you’ll be hearing lots from and about them here on Bike Magic over the coming months. To mark the announcement of the team we have for you, the Bike Magic reader, the first of a series of articles, this time by Tim.

Firstly, a bit of an intro is needed:

Tim Dunford rides for the Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team which specialises in endurance racing.  Tim’s results showed huge progression in 2012 with highlights including winning the Kielder 100, TORQ 12 hour, and the UK Endurance Series. Following his successful year British Cycling rewarded him with a place on the GB Team for the World Marathon Championships.

Tim Dunford at Roc D’Azur 2012

Winter riding – how to keep things interesting by Tim Dunford

Ahh, winter.  The trails have all gone soggy. The days are dark, cold and short… It’s enough to make you want to snuggle under the duvet and wait for spring.

But do that and you’re going to miss out on some fantastic experiences, the crunch of tyre rolling over frosted leaves and huge views stretching on forever under crystal clear blue skies. And if you leave it until spring it’s going to take a whole lot longer to get that hard earned fitness back so you can really enjoy epic all day rides in those seemingly distant summer days.

But do that and you’re going to miss out on some fantastic experiences, the crunch of tyre rolling over frosted leaves and huge views stretching on forever under crystal clear blue skies.

So the question is how to find the motivation to get out there this winter.  For some that may not be a problem but for the rest of us here are some tips to help you get out there:

Find some new routes

Most riders have their own favourite local route. What was a sweet, flowing piece of singletrack in summer now seems like a slog and somehow less appealing. To keep things fresh, how about trying to find some new routes? The days are short so rather than venture too far try exploring your local patch. Did you spend summer rides wondering where that overgrown bridleway went? Now that the brambles and nettles have died back you can find out.  Chances are you’ve passed many potential new routes on your rides, but if not the long winter evenings are a great opportunity to dust off those maps and piece together a route linking together the magical dashed purple lines. Come summer your old favourites will be waiting for you, or maybe you’ve found something just as good…

Practice your skills

With the trails slippery and slidey, traction is at a premium. Now’s a great time to hone those riding skills. Rather than reach for the mud tyres, this winter I’ve left the summer tyres on. This isn’t madness or just plain laziness either! Take it easy at first until you learn their limits and let a bit of pressure out and it’s amazing how much traction you can find. It’s also pretty good fun sliding around.

Now’s a great time to hone those riding skills. Rather than reach for the mud tyres, this winter I’ve left the summer tyres on.

Keeping the summer tyres on will help you to develop a smooth pedalling action and how to find the traction as smashing the pedals is just going to leave your rear tyre spinning uselessly in the mud. You’ll also learn how to finesse your bike round the corners and over roots and rocks. Not only will your skills get a boost but it brings a whole new challenge to existing trails. Maybe your normal line whilst fine in the dry is no longer possible. Come summer with your improved riding skills you’ll be hammering that dusty singletrack faster than ever.

With long days in the hills less appealing, it’s also a great time to concentrate on improving your weaknesses. Maybe like me you’re not such a big fan of drop offs. Now’s a chance to devote some time to practising. Watch a mate ride it first then have a go and keep practising until it feels natural. Build up with smaller obstacles if you don’t want to attempt the big one first time. Conquering a particular obstacle or technique that’s been psyching will give you a massive confidence boost so next time you come across a tricky bit of trail you’ll have the confidence to do it first time.

Mix it up

For those lucky enough to have a cyclocross bike, try riding your local trails on it. The lack of suspension and narrow tyres will really show you how to pick a smooth line. No longer will you be able to simply blast over or even straight through the tricky bits with the suspension offering a big margin for error. Now finesse will be the name of the game. A cross bike is also a great way of exploring the local lanes. With its narrow tyres and lower weight it’s significantly faster than a mountain bike but offers much more stability than a road bike with slick tyres.  Try creating a route by linking together trails with quiet, leafy lanes. This will add a new dimension to your riding, taking you to new places and your favourite bits of trail will represent a fresh challenge.  As an added bonus there’s much less maintenance with a cross bike with no pivots and fewer moving parts to wear out.

Pastures new

If, like me many of your local trails are simply unrideable at this time of year due to our four legged friends, now may be the time to visit your riding buddies fortunate enough to be blessed with more resilient routes.  Not only do you get the chance to catch up with your mates but you also have to try and keep up with them on their home turf.  The new, unfamiliar trails will be like a breath of fresh air and playing catch up can only make you faster. I generally prefer natural trails but this time of year the generally all-weather nature of trail centres does make sense.  So why not plan a weekend away to make the most of it?

If, like me many of your local trails are simply unrideable at this time of year due to our four legged friends, now may be the time to visit your riding buddies fortunate enough to be blessed with more resilient routes.

The team would like to thank: 

Mountain Trax, Vauxhall Motors, Little Knocks, Scott Bikes, Champion Systems Clothing, Exposure Lights, Syncros, Minoura, Fenwicks, Schwalbe, Lezyne, Hope Technology, USN, Fox Suspension, Vermont Images, Sapim, and Bont.

 

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