Prepare for an onset of dot watching excitement across Italy.
This Friday at 9pm Central European Time, our very own Hunt Team Rider and 2015 TransContinental Race winner, Josh Ibbett, will be lining up for the Italy Divide - a non-stop self supported race from the Colosseum in Rome and travelling over 900km north to Lake Garda. The route is far from being flat - The mostly gravel route boasts over 25,000m of climbing!
Watching a cycling race just became way more interactive.
If it isn't already obvious we really do love dot watching. However, it's not all about watching riders as they move along the route. What makes it all the more special is following the race through social media streams, the race organiser's updates and even forums dedicated to dot watching. Here are a few suggestions on the DOs of dot watching:
DO - Follow the Dots
- They don't call it "Dot Watching" for nothing.
DO - Follow the participants social media streams - @joshibbett
- Social media is a great way to have updates trickle through from the riders perspective. This often gives insight into how they are feeling, what the weather is doing and if they are experiencing any issues out on the road.
- Again this can often be done on race organisers social media stream as well as the race website. You can gain small insights from people who are on the ground in event cars, checkpoints and most importantly - the finish line!
- One great thing about the GPS trackers is it allows for you to see exactly what the racers are riding through, are they grinding along a rural gravel road or taking on a punishing climb? The Dots reveal everything. Because races like the Italy Divide are so long, it really does cross a variety of different landscapes and riding terrains that make it even more exciting.
First thing that came into my mind when I woke up this morning.
“I’m going riding.”
Second thing that came into my mind;
“My medical insurance probably doesn’t cover this, best not crash!”
I had only made contact with Himalayan Singletrack the day before I left the UK so I was really pleased that they managed to come up with a single day trip for me to get out of the city and see some of Nepal from a bike. Expecting the terrain to be somewhat mountainous I also tentatively asked if it could not be too gnarly as I had a course to teach the following week!
So my guide Ashish comes to meet me at the hotel in full-on DH free ride gear and I instantly playback the “my medical insurance probably doesn’t cover this” in my mind! ….. he must have looked up and seen a full on roadie and thought “there goes my day”
So after initial introductions and pleasantries we set the bike up for me and I made a mental note that the brakes were set up US style (not that I remembered that fact when I actually needed them).
The first 8km were out of Kathmandu were on the hideously busy and chaotic main road that wasn’t helped by the sheer amount of dust being kicked up by roadworks to lay a new water pipe. I stuck to Ashish’s rear wheel like a true roadie, more out of fear of becoming detached and somehow not shepherded through the crazy swarm of vehicles all going in different directions on both sides of the road but all seemingly avoiding hitting each other… it was like being stuck in a human murmuration but no-one had shared the magical key with me to know when and how to make my move.
After what seemed like an age Ashish looked back at me to ask if the pace was OK, I suggested that maybe we could go a bit faster just to get out of the crazy dust bowl and onto the mountain a bit quicker. Coming to the end of the main road it just ended in short footpath that looked like the road probably had gone this way before the earthquake but it just hadn’t yet been repaired. I then made the mistake of looking up!.... I guess I should have known there would be a fair amount if up as we were riding in the Himalaya’s so I dug in, hit the granny ring and set a best tap-tap-tap as I could….. During the road ride section Ashish had asked how old I was… when I replied “48” he looked surprised. I said “yeah I am old enough to know better”…. We then rapidly ascertained that not only was he only 23 but he was an aspiring pro Enduro racer… so I jokingly said “so your male Napali pride is at stake here then if you get whooped up a mountain by a 48 year old white woman from sea level”
As we wound our way up through the jungle we made a brief stop to purchase our entry permits to the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park we passed several army check points and a rather impressive Staff college. I smiled and said good morning to all of the soldiers but they all looked rather grimly at me so I am not sure if mountain biking is welcome or they were just all really unhappy to be in the army.
We stopped close to the top at a rickety cafe for a ridiculously sweet tea that was almost too sweet even for me and then proceeded on up to the last part of the main ascent. We stopped to take some photos of the view but the valley floor was lurking below in a thick haze of dust and pollution which Ashish told me is a common occurrence with the increasing numbers of cars and motorbike and the lack of a high altitude weather system that brought winds to clear the valley.
We had now been going for nearly 2 hours and I was glad when we stopped and flicked the cans into full bounce mode and adjusted the clutch on the rear mechs.
The descent wasn’t really what I would call singletrack but it was super fast and great fun with plenty to keep you on your toes without worrying you were going to come around a corner to a sheer drop off… Ashish was of course miles ahead at this point showing a good clean pair of heels while I picked my way through unfamiliar terrain coaxing my flow mojo back out of its roadie shell. By the time I caught up with Ashish at the bottom I was sporting a very dusty grin and my chakras were well and truly re-aligned.
We then set off up a bit more climbing and I noticed that Ashish had fallen back so I pedalled on to a fork in the path and sat and waited for him. I was just about to turn around and go back down to look for him thinking he must have had a mechanical and he came into sight. When we pulled up beside me he said he had to stop and sit down as he felt dizzy and faint, so after stuffing him full of bars and a gel we then continued a bit slower up the climb whilst I tried to explain what a ‘bonk’ was… he laughed so hard he nearly bonked again. He admitted he hadn’t eaten breakfast and proclaimed that on the climb I was “killing him”... so that was a nice to know… I wasn’t that bad even if he spends most of his time going downhill!
For the final descent back to the valley floor we once again stopped to adjust the bikes and Ashish said there was a particularly steep and technical part but if I wanted I could walk!!!... Pah!!!!... WALK…. He then disappeared in a puff of dust and I was once again picking my way through boulder fields trying to pick the least rubbish line I could. I was so concentrating on my line choice that I flew right past Ashish who had stopped at a small hut for ‘second tea o’clock’. I hopped off and pushed the bike back up to him and we sat drinking more impossibly sweet tea looking out over the valley while a tiny little lady was pouring wheat into a thrasher in the beginnings of a beer brewing process beside us. I declined the chance to sample the rice beer she had just finished making, mostly because it looked like milk but also because I had seen the lady top the bottle up with stream water so I didn’t want to risk it.
Ashish bought a bottle of rice beer for his dad and stuffed it into his pack while we prepared to continue down into the valley below. More flowy track, not really singletrack but still good fun even with the occasional squeaky moment pulling the wrong brake lever a bit hard and before I knew it we were spat back out into the noise and dust once more. The ride was finished off with lunch in a tiny traditional restaurant for Daal Bhat and a beer before once again chasing Ashish through the streaming torrent of cows, mopeds, taxis and buses back to my hotel.
I could have done without the road section but with only a day to spare in my work schedule unfortunately I couldn’t manage a longer trip but if I ever do come back I will be sure to do the 5 or 10 day supported trip because I know I haven’t yet scratched the surface of the beauty of this country and it deserves so much more than the equivalent of a Saturday club ride.
ROB HARWOOD has been a rider for the Hunt Open Dev Team since it was first announced. Hailing from the lanes and b-roads of Essex, UK, there is nothing more Rob likes than a long day spent out on the bicycle (and finished off with a few beers). Until recently, Rob has been keeping things on the tarmac, however, the draw of gravel has brought this roadie to enjoy the adventure that venturing off the beaten path offers. Spending weekends in Scotland and Wales, as well as being co-founder of a bunch of great guys as ColVelo Collective (read below for more) - Rob sets a bench march for being an ambassador for not only Hunt Wheels but the wider cycling community in general.
We managed to wrangle in Rob to answer a few questions for the latest edition of On The Drops. Enjoy.
Rider: Rob Harwood
Born and Bred: Born in London but raised in beautiful Essex! It’s not all ‘Towie’ and ‘Sugar Hut’ ya know!
First Bike and Favorite bike?
Early 90’s Raleigh Outland. Metal Frame, Bullhorn bars, Cantis. The thing was a beast! My Condor Fratello will always be special to me. I’ve been through a lot with the old bird and it’s such a versatile machine.
Ride time selfie!
Finish this sentence:
Climbing on my bike is… a constant reminder that I should drink less beer and eat less crap!
What music are we most likely to find on your iPod?
An eclectic selection. But a quick shuffle will usually find it’s mostly Mogwai. It’s like riding in your own sepia soaked Rapha film!
You have finished a huge ride. What is the food you’re craving most?
Bruge Zot Blonde is food, right? If not, I’ll take Fish and Chips. Instant calorie replenishment and always satisfying.
Post ride beverages enjoyed whilst watching Roubaix
Best place you’ve ridden?
North West Scotland without doubt. Our trip to the Loch Assynt area last spring is going to take some beating. Wild, quiet, interesting roads, miles from anywhere, world class scenery and weather to keep you guessing. I whole heartedly recommend it.
Racing – yay or nay?
Love to spectate, and follow the pro-scene avidly. Huge admiration for those guys. Hard as nails. I’ve always fancied a dart at a midweek 10/25 TT, but reckon my devastatingly sub-par bike handling would provide a mechanics bill I can’t afford if I was to dabble in local crits!
What grinds your gears?
Impatient drivers. We’re all just trying to get somewhere.
Jersey pockets or Saddlebag?
Got to love a bit of luggage!
We noticed that you have built up a sweet new gravel bike, any adventures planned?
Inspired by Josh’s (ed. Former Hunt Bike Wheels Brand Manager) Dirty Reiver write up last spring, in late June I’ve organised a 3 day tour of North Cumbria /Northumberland with a one big day in the middle exploring the trails and fire roads of the Kielder forest. The place looks epic.
I’m loving the rise of the gravel scene. The new tech, styles of bikes and crossover of philosophies from MTB to road. Its fun to see.
Do you regret choosing downtube shifters!?
Not yet… I will confess it might be interesting when things get really rough under the rubber… But the positive clunk of an indexed downtube shifter if one of life’s great feelings… I’ll get my coat.
Throwback to downtube shifters anyone?
Tell us a bit about your involvement with ColVelo Collective? Who are you guys? We thought there were no Cols in Essex!
Elevator pitch… Myself and a good friend started ColVelo in 2014. The ethos is centered on variety of riding (style, terrain and location), big days out and a decent social aspect. Cycle Clubs, by design, can be focused very much on a theme. We just wanted to create an outlet where anything goes. If you have an idea or suggestion we’ll do our best to get it going. If you ride your bike fast or love to smash out big distances, come and ride with us. If you prefer a sedate café spin with an emphasis on cake over kilometers, come and ride with us. We feel we add something a little different to the local scene which we hope compliments what other clubs are offering. If you live in or around North Essex, ride with a club already or are looking to, give us a try. www.colvelo.co.uk
You’re correct. There are no cols in Essex, but there is in Colchester!
ColVelo ride time
There seems to be a lot of love for Surly Bike with the guys you ride with… whats the story there?
Steel tubes, loads of braze on’s, jazz hat colours and model names. What’s not to love?!
In reality the versatility is the attraction I think. Sort of fits what the club is about. A bike that can handle a big day out clocking up the k’s, a tour, a gravel grind or a mellow café Jaunt. Surlys nail that brief!
There is definitely a bike geek element to our club as I’m sure there is with all clubs. But ColVelo has a very high percentage of riders on Steel bikes! Lots of love for metal bikes in our ranks.
Most memorable experience on a bike?
Probably my first alpine climb (Col des Aravis) not a big name climb, but being the first it was special. An hour toiling and weaving uphill to be hit with amazing vistas. It was a life affirming moment!
What single point of advice has made you a better rider?
Wish I had some kind of cycling Sensei I could quote here, but the simple advice of being sure to get out and ride. Whatever the weather.
Our club members are quick to remind each other that you’ll regret not going out when you’re sat at your desk on Monday morning.
Dream place to ride?
As long as the roads are interesting, the views are good and the post ride beer is refreshing. I’m game! That said, I’d like a crack at Ventoux one day.
"...Get out and ride..."
THANKS ROB! ENJOY YOUR RIDING.
Early this morning in Australia, Hamish, our Hunt Australia and NZ Manager was meant to meet the highly respected Ultra Endurance Cyclist Mike Hall for a rolling interview for Kinesis UK as he raced the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. As you can see from his Instagram feed below, tragedy had struck Mike Hall's ride.
hamishpaine - Not something you want to do ever. Mike Hall was competing in the Indian Pacific wheel race. A bicycle race from Fremantle to Sydney. His frame sponsor kinesis kindly asked me to do a rolling interview of sorts as he came into Canberra. Unfortunately he was the victim in a fatal collision with a car and is now riding somewhere else. I noticed his tracking beacon had been stationary for around 2 hours so I drove out to where the last signal with my toolbox and a few bicycle spares thinking it might of been a mechanical issue but unfortunately for me and the entire cycling community we were informed of Mike's tragedy. Condolences to his family and close group of friends. RIP.
huntbikewheels - We're all shocked and sad here mate. Well done for going to try to help a fella rider with your tool kit, that cycling community is exactly what Mike built so well.
Mike was an inspiration and friend to many riders. Mike achieved incredible ultra distance race results and records, as well as founding and running the Transcontinental Race.
The donation page was set up by James Hayden who competed in Mike's Transcontinental Race 2015 and had a close contest with our then Hunt Brand Manager, and now Hunt Ambassador, Josh Ibbett. We know Josh will personally miss Mike hugely, he looked up to him as a guide and a mentor. Josh said "HE'S THE REASON I started doing long distance racing. So many of the positive things that have happened to me stem from Mike and yet he so was humble about his huge achievements". Our thoughts are with Mike's family and partner.
RideInPeace Mike Hall, an inspiration to us all.
Image credit from James Hayden Mike Hall donation Page.
Ride in honour of Mike this weekend.
Delving into the hardest hitting debates circulating around cycling (such as Jersey Pockets or Saddlebag and C02 versus hand pump) our latest semi-regular segment "On The Drops" will focus upon the slightly more light hearted side to cycling presenting riders from all circles of life. Enjoy the grill sessions!
Mitchell Webber is one of BikeCannel Canyon's youngest rider, but that certainly does not mean he lacks in ability. Alongside wheel choice, we find out what the Hampshire local enjoys about racing and where we might see him in the future.
Rider: Mitchell Webber (BikeChannel Canyon)
Born and Bred: Andover, Hampshire, UK.
First Bike and Favourite bike?
My first new bike was a Felt BMX in red. Certainly this year’s Canyon Ultimate CF has to be up with one of my favourite bikes. The way it rides and feels is really second to none.
What music are we most likely to find on your iPod?
My music is a complete mix really. I tend to like any genre depending on my mood. But you certainly can’t beat a bit of drum n bass before a race!
You have finished a huge training ride. What is the food you’re craving most?
After a big training ride I also crave something savoury. I think it’s because of all the sweet foods you cram into your mouth while out on the bike. Nothing better than a classic sandwich in my eyes.
Best place you’ve ridden?
Probably the best place I’ve ridden has to be the French alps. Me and my brothers are close friends to the owners of Alpcycles who take trips put there. So tend to go over at least once a year for some solid riding.
Best race you’ve competed in?
Best race in terms of atmosphere probably has to be Otley GP.
Jersey pockets or Saddlebag?
You have had stellar results in the Tour of Bulgaria and Tour of Wales. Is tour riding going to be something you hope to be doing in the future?
Yeah I certainly would like to give it a go. I still feel I haven’t reached my full potential so only time will tell!
We noticed you decided to use the 38Carbon Wide Aero over the 50mm option, why did you make the change?
The 38Carbon Wide Aero seem to be a little bit stiffer/lighter and able to deal with crosswinds better. As a smaller ride it just suits my riding style a tad better. But I certainly look forward to using the 50mm option this season!
Typical race pressure in dry conditions is 90psi front and 95 Rear on 25mm Maxxis tubs.
Most memorable experience on a bike?
I can’t say I have one stand out memory on the bike but certainly have a lot of good ones. Probably more than you can shake a stick at.
Tour de France.
Thanks Mitchell, all the best in your up and coming season!
We have a few very special things happening at Hunt so in keeping with this trend we thought it'd be best to all out a South Downs bikepack adventure to celebrate, and record it for a film... WITH A HELICOPTER!
Donated to us for a few hours from a (very, very cool) friend of Sarah who works here at Hunt, we gathered at the top of the South Downs armed with a fleet of Mason Bokeh go anywhere, ride anything bicycles, to make a film celebrating the launch of some exciting products and special new adventures for one of our crew.
"There's a helicopter 20 metres away with a camera pointing at me sliding down a gnarly trail... utter madness!"
Ollie Gray (Hunt Service Manager)
CHECK OUT THE IMAGES BELOW:
Dawn on the downs
4Season Gravel Disc enjoying the view
Ready to ride!
Just waiting for a mate
Prepare for takeoff
Tyre pressure is key - 23F/28R for 64kg Cal.
... and after.
We can not thank enough Cal & Dom from Mason for the support, riding and providing the Bokeh bicycles, as well as the amazing riding kit from Apidura, Rab, Fabric, USE Exposure, Giro and ZyroCycling to complete the entire AdventureSport package! Also a big thank you to all of the riders and helpers who came out to help and be a part of something truly special. Awesome ripping from Elaine Burroughs who displayed some incredible side sliding riding. Plus big thanks to James, Rowan, Hannah, Liam and Lucy for the stunning filming and photography.
It’s now down to our riding mates Doug, the film editor and James the Director to wade through the footage and make some sense of it all.
A Mushroom, Luigi and Yoshi walk into a bar... no sorry a highly competitive, serious, everything on the line 'cross race...
After weeks in spent training up for their big race, Hunt Team members Josh, Ollie and Dan big race day finally came this past weekend. Performing at the very highest level at the SSCXEU champs meant everything, including racing kit, was throughly thought out to gain that extra 1% advantage. After all, it's the details that matter.
Honourable mentions go to:
- Josh for snagging a fourth place but first place in fancy dress!
- Dan for having the widest bars out on a cross bike for maximum stability!
- Ollie for giving it a real go... after the race.
Hunt supported BikeChannel Canyon have kicked off their first race of the season with a spectacular win coming from Chris Opie at the 52nd PERFS Pedal Race. Tom and Ollie from Hunt Wheels were there to capture all of the action, so we have put together a photographic journal to show all of the excitement which took place.
Primed and ready. 50Carbon Aero Wide set up tubeless for PERFS
Ticking the legs over on the rollers.
Winner - Chris Opie.
What could have been a race ender! A small bit of glass on winner Chis Opie's front wheel which happening in the last lap. Thankfully the tubeless sealant filled up the hole so that Chis could storm home to take the win.
Packing up the team van. Ready for the next race.
Results don't come easy at UCI pro-conti level, so for training duties, team BIKE-CHANNEL CANYON will be relying on the HUNT RACE AERO WIDE wheelsets as they prepare for their season.
At a scantly 1480g, the team will hardly notice the disadvantage compared to their carbon race wheels as they pump through the hill reps or punch out paceline efforts. The RACE AERO WIDE's even manage to maintain an aerodynamic edge through their 31mm deep rim profile. The 20Front/24Rear aero bladed spokes laced to our straight pull Race Season hub complete the package.
Whilst riders generally grab most of the attention when it comes to racing, mechanics are often the unsung heroes behind a team's success. Up earlier than anyone to wrap a fresh set of bar tape, then last back to the hotel after a full clean, possible strip down and rebuild; they are working around the clock. This means mechanics, like Mark Haylett, of BIKE-CHANNEL CANYON know exactly what works and what doesn't.
Have a look at what Mark has said about setting up the team's Hunt 50Carbon Wide Aero:
We have become strong advocates for tubeless technology. Having tested tubeless extensively on and off road we know it provides you with noticeably improved ride quality, grip and puncture protection. All our wheels come tubeless ready, but work perfectly with standard tyres and tubes, and provide excellent specs and low weight. Add tubeless tyres to any wheel order and we will fit them (including sealant) to your wheels prior to dispatch. You get all the puncture resistance and speed/grip enhancing benefits of tubeless but we put the effort in for you.