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A quick note to say that I've set up my Business blog, to be able to speak with a clear voice on both personal and work issues (i.e. by having separate blogs).

Friday, 12 March 2010

Kielder bike demo day

Post about recent day up at Kielder Forest – more details of this series in general is here. Drafted 07 March 2010.


It is with achy limbs and a weary body that I put together this post, to record my satisfying day up at Kielder Forest testing mountain bikes.

We are extremely lucky in the North East of England, and also the South of Scotland, in that mountain bikers are catered for in Forestry Commission woodland that covers swathes of our part of the UK.

In a series of forests from Dumfrieshire to East Lothian, the Seven Stanes MTB centres provide what's effectively a rollercoaster for pedallers - you hop on your steed, twiddle in the lower gears to the top of a hill through fir trees galore, and then launch yourself back down the hill to generate as much adrenaline as possible, and thereby a grin The Joker himself would be proud of.

Kielder Forest

I dare say Kielder is best known for its reservoir, built near the head of the River North Tyne to provide for Tees-, Tyne-, and Wear-side, and the now defunct steelworks at Consett I believe.

The natural splendour is complemented by the beauty of having a focus for outdoor activities, and a (mostly) decent road to get there.

Our local business development and tourist authorities have seen fit to provide for a developing centre for mountain biking in the North East, to complement venues such as Hamsterley Forest and Chopwell Woods [I'm sure there are others].

You may recall other posts I have written about being up in this remote but striking part of the County, and so it was with glee that I discovered mountain biking's roadshow was going to hit Town Kielder village. ;-)

Bike Demo Day Series 2010

I am lucky enough to have been given a subscription to What Mountain Bike? for the last 4 or 5 years.

I therefore knew about this event as What MTB? were the organisers. The bikes I booked myself to ride today:
  • Giant Genius 50
  • Lynskey LT
  • Norco Shore
I was also hoping to have a ride of a Lapierre Zesty 314 or similar, but they were all booked out all day – Hotlines being a happy distributor!

So what actually happened was:
  • I rode a Scott Spark 20, and managed to put myself on the deck after getting over-excited on a downhill stretch (happily my body armour came in handy)
  • Rode the Lynskey - which was great, but I've already got a hardtail. It had really wide handlebars, which I ended up quite liking :-)
  • The Shore turned out to be a bike for going downhill very fast indeed, but it was not designed for the riding I do, so I quickly took it back and rode a Norco 6.1 instead – much better!
  • Went back to the nice people at Scott (aka Arnie) and rode a Genius 20 – tremendous! Genius has
    • A carbon frame – great for chucking around the singletrack
    • It was an extra large though (food for thought)
    • Arnie reckoned the reason the back-end kicked out a few times was probably down to tyre selection
    • I loved the 6” travel, but there’s a great gizmo on the handlebars to selectively lock out fork / shock / both
    • I liked being able to dial down the front fork for going uphill
    • A bar-controlled adjustable seatpost would complete the picture, but it’d be a pretty expensive one! :’(
I managed to leave my driver’s licence with the registration desk so big shout to Future Publications for sending it back, and am thrilled that a) someone turned my digi camera into Purple Mountain, and b) they’ve sent it back – tremendous effort & much kudos to them.



Quick thoughts:
  • Tremendous to have the mountain bike brands come to Northumberland – real feather in the cap of folks like Kielder Train Reavers
  • Folk had come from round about and also from afar – i.e. 2 hours away.
  • The weather was very kind, although still a bit chilly the Sun came out later in the day (and just as well).
  • Great learning experience for me – my best ride was on the (rather expensive) Scott Genius.
    • Helped to work out what sort of bike I might like to buy as a full suspension bike option for the future.
That’s probably about it for now :-)

UPDATED to sort out the link to Purple Mountain... :$