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Thucka thucka thucka PAH!

Recognise that sound? Yep… that hideous noise when your tube, under 100 pounds per square inch of air pressure, decides to make a break for it through the side of your tyre.

I’m pretty diligent about things like tyre pressures – I’m a big guy,  and I’m quite averse to the notion of plucking road base out of open wounds.

I’m conservative when it comes to changing tyres, too – which is why I was so shocked to see the bead emerge from the sidewall of my almost new Continental Gatorskins; shocked and a little angry, if I’m honest.

My front blew out down a gentle hill with no traffic.  My route plan included a very steep, eye wateringly fast downhill where a front flat would spell disaster for me.

The failure is – to me – a straightforward case of manufacturing error – there’s no brake pad cuts, no foreign object damage… after a good run with Contis, I’d just scored a dodgy tyre.

It’s a reminder, though… weird crap can happen at any time. Here are a couple of hints and tips to keep those tyres in good nick – and what to do if it all goes wrong.

PRESSURE UP – Tyre pressures are a crucial part of your ride. Too low and you risk pinch flats, too high and you’ll suffer from a harsh ride. You need to be able to trust your guage; digital versions give a more accurate reading.

For most road-going clincher (regular) tyres, experiment with pressures between 80 and 100psi, depending on your tyre type, terrain and weight. At 110kg, the Crank runs 90psi up front and 100psi in the rear of his 700x25c tyres.

Off-road, start around 30psi for tubeless and 35-37psi for tyres with tubes.

EYES ON THE SIDES – damage to tyre sidewalls can happen if your brake pads make contact, or you hit debris. Give them a look over when you inflate your tyres before you head out. Any damage, bin it – don’t take the risk.

GOING DOWN – If you’re unlucky enough to suffer a blowout, you’ll need a dose of luck to stay upright. Key point – if the ride quality of your bike changes, stop IMMEDIATELY and figure out why. A piece of glass in the tread will feel like a small bump, while a tube escaping from the side of the tyre will have to pass through your frame or fork, which feels bloody odd.

If it’s already happened, do not panic. Send your body weight towards the inflated end of the bike, stay off the brake on the deflated end, keep it straight – and get it stopped!

Got any tips or stories? Let us know!

There are mountain bike vids, and then there is Darklight, a seven-minute epic filmed entirely at night.

Black Rock, Oregon. Philips/Sweetgrass mountain bike 2015.

Black Rock, Oregon. Philips/Sweetgrass mountain bike 2015.

Shot in conjunction with electronic giant Philips, the vision that the team from Sweetgrass Productions and Swedish creative house Ahlstrand and Wållgren have created is just amazing.

Two trucks’ worth of lighting, cables, generators and stands were all moved by hand, 4×4 and quadbike in a shoot that took several days in each location.

Freeriders Graham Agassiz, Matt Hunter, and Matty Miles rode some insane terrain in Southern Utah – where Hunter was bitten by a rattlesnake and needed to be evacuated for treatment in hospital, only to return two nights later! –  to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.

How far can mountain bike vids go?!

Last year, the Ol’ Crank entered an enduro. Let’s just say he sucked at it – and that was despite the best efforts of one of the world’s fastest enduro riders, Jared Graves.

The Crank interviewed Jared in the lead-up to the event on the north coast of NSW for Outdoor magazine; in light of the champ’s switch to the Specialized team after a decade on Yeti, here’s a transcript of the interview.

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Jared Graves – My first enduro race was a small race in La Molina in Spain in 2012. I wasn’t enjoying the DH world cups that season, and was struggling a bit for motivation. We did this enduro on an off weekend, for fun/training. and I just really enjoyed the day a ton. I’ve always been good at riding terrain blind, and then riding blind but racing was way more fun than I ever thought it would be.

It makes you pay so much attention to what you’re doing, and when you hit a section over your head and scare yourself a bit, but get away with it, its the best feeling ever! As long as you commit and try to ride out of all sketchy situations it usually works out. I had a massive grin on my face all weekend, plus you get about 10x more time on your bike than at at DH race…. Didn’t hurt that I won the race either. From that day I knew thats what I wanted to do in the future.

 

SET-UP

Ol’ Crank -What’s the best piece of set-up advice you can give a rookie enduro rider that won’t cost them anything?

JG – Make sure everything on your bike is working the best it can, long days can be hard on the bike, and if everything isn’t working 100% to begin with it’s only going to make things worse and take the fun out of your day.

OC – What’s the smartest way an enduro rider can spend money on their bike? Budget is $500, they’ve got a $3k dually that’s a year old.

JG – Absolute necessities are….

– Tubeless setup in the wheels, pretty much all tyres and rims these days are made for tubeless setups,  so there’s no excuse. but if your wheels are older you can always do the old ghetto/split tube tubeless (google it if you’re unsure what it is) it works just as well as proper tubeless setups.  I ran it for the entire 2013 race season on non tubeless tyres and non tubeless rims, and had zero flats and zero issues. Tubes are such a bad idea, I have no idea why some people continue to use them over tubeless.

– dropper post; in my opinion the best invention for MTB since disc brakes.

– single ring front setup. Being able to spin a super easy double front chainring up the climbs between stages will save your legs a bit, but that wont do you any good when your chain falls off 5 times every timed stage. Also use a narrow wide chainring and an upper chainguide. Narrow wide chainrings are awesome, but not fool proof. And for the sake of a 50gram upper guide why wouldn’t you just put one on?

– if some money left over, and you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, a full bike service at the LBS to get everything working as it should.

OC – Got one secret pro-level tip that you’re happy to share?

JG – Don’t overlook small details, no matter how minimal they seem. Every little bit of extra speed counts. Make sure your equipment is 100% dialled, no compromise!

 

RACE DAY
OC – So, for my/a reader’s first race, how important is practice?

JG – Well of course its very important, but you need to find your practice vs fatigue balance, which can take a fair few races of trial and error. You need to be fresh on race day, but sometimes you race better if you ride more in practice and know the trail better, rather than being fresh and not knowing where you’re going and have no confidence to push.

On the flip side, you don’t want know all the stages really well from riding it multiple times but be so tired you ride like crap on race day. Its all about the happy medium! Thats where good training comes in, be fitter so you can ride/practice more and not get as tired.

OC – Is strategy and planning a big part of an enduro race day?

JG – Oh it’s massive; for me it’s almost the biggest part, being prepared and knowing how you want to take each stage. There are so many aspects to being prepared that it’s honestly pretty overwhelming.

From studying maps, so you know exactly where you are at all times out of course, to studying Gopro footage after practice runs, always having food/drink, planning your practice time efficiently, knowing the liaison stages (more map study) theres so many things the top guys do that most people wouldn’t even consider.

OC – What’s the biggest mistake I can make (besides crashing) on race day?

JG – Easy! Ninety per cent of people don’t take enough food and drink. always take 50 per cent more than you think you’ll need. Running out of food and energy and being dehydrated is EASILY the best way to completely kill fun times on the bike.

OC – More safety gear or less?

JG – course-dependent/weather-dependent/race format-dependent, it’s very variable.

GENERAL

OC – Enduro is an insanely competitive sport at your level. How did the prep for 2015 go?

JG – I had a big break after Finale, haven’t had one for years, so my training has started much later this season. Even though I won the overall and 2014 was a successful year, the whole XC racing to get as fit as possible thing kind of felt like a massive backfire. I felt like a deisel for the first half of the season and couldnt go hard on short stages, I lost a lot of punch. It took me until mid season to get that back.

So my preparation this year is much more enduro specific, and like I said, starting training a lot later to be 100 per cent just in time for round 1. last year I felt ready to race in February and the first race wasn’t until the end of April; having to try and maintain the best form I could then for 7.5 months became a big mental and physical challenge!

OC – Did your mindset change with that #1 plate on the bike?

JG – I felt more relaxed if anything. In 2014 I had a strong sense of “I must win or I suck” and I don’t ride my best when I feel like that, but when I had the number one plate I felt more relaxed and hopefully that shows in my riding. That’s usually when I ride my best.

That said, when I line up for stage 1 in Rotorua in March, that relaxed feeling could change very quickly!. (OC – this interview was done only days before Jared crashed heavily on a trail near his house in Toowoomba, separating both his shoulders and forcing him out of the first two rounds of 2015).

OC – You were vocal in 2014 about how course design was heading. Will anything change?

JG – We’ll see. I just think they need to emphasize keeping the riding fun, just good fun trails that leave you with a smile no matter how the race went. It was good that they tried some new things last year, but I felt the racing was better and definitely more enjoyable in 2013. 2013 was more of a balance of skill and fitness, more of a test of a true all round rider. 2014 had much more of a skills emphasis and you could get away with not being quite as fit. We raced some stuff that was gnarlier than anything I’ve ridden at any DH world cup.

RELATED: Graves debuts for Specialized – on the road

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Enduro ace takes to the tarmac in his first competitive outing for his new team

FORMER Enduro World Championship title-holder Jared Graves has debuted his new Specialized colours for 2016, after his shock switch away from long-time sponsor Yeti.

Graves, from Toowoomba in Queensland, lined up at the 2016 Daniel Bennett memorial criterium on New Year’s Day at Norwell, west of Brisbane, finishing a creditable fifth place outright after missing a breakaway.

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Pic: Jared Graves/Adam Weathered (Facebook)

 

Widely considered to be one of the most broadly talented riders in mountain biking, Graves has long used less orthodox training methods to prepare for his race season, including winning several rounds of the Australian cross country championship in the 2013/14 season.

However, Graves – a former BMX Olympian and 4X world champion – said that the XC preparation had left him feeling “like a diesel” going into his EWS championship winning year.

“Even though I won the overall and 2014 was a successful year, the whole XC racing to get as fit as possible thing kind of felt like a massive backfire,” he told the Ol’ Crank. “I felt like a diesel for the first half of the season and couldn’t go hard on short stages, I lost a lot of punch. It took me until mid season to get that back.”

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Graves celebrates Rude’s 2015 EWS title. Pic: Yeti Cycles

 

A pre-season training crash in 2015 took him out of contention to back up his 2014 EWS crown, which was eventually claimed by former Yeti teammate and protégé Richie Rude.

The Queenslander will line up beside good mate American Curtis Keene in the Specialized squad. “I am pumped to join forces with Specialized, no other brand has the full compliment of top-shelf bikes and gear and the level of commitment to success. The whole team is setup really well with the best support, the best mechanics and the best teammates,” he said in a statement.

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Pic: Specialized

 

The American company recently lost its 2015 World #1 downhiller, Aaron Gwin, after what Gwin called a “difference of opinion” on the champion’s salary expectations.

”I proposed what I believe to be my reasonable market value, and they differed,” Gwin told US site Pinkbike.

There is speculation that the company has allocated a greater marketing spend towards enduro racing – a discipline that more directly links to sales of many of its bike lines – at the expense of the waning downhill category.

Another casualty of the move to Yeti for Graves is the ending of a long association with mechanic Shaun Hughes, who has been with Graves for all of his major titles. Hughes will not make the move to the Specialized team, remaining at Yeti for the 2015 season.

RELATED: how to race enduro with Jared Graves

So it looks like my video on installing a 40t extender cog went over okay, so here’s another how-to on installing a OneUp chainguide, warts and all.

RELATED – how to install a 40t extender cog

 

 

G’day,

I’m kicking off the 2015 Great Cycle Challenge this week, to do my little bit to raise much-needed research funds to fight kids’ cancer.

My aim this year is to cover 500km or more over the next 31 days, and I’m hoping to raise over $1500. I’ll be blogging about it here, too.

So why am I doing this? Most of you know that we had a brush with the big C a few years back, so it’s our way of giving back to an awesome cancer community.

And because cancer is the single biggest killer of children from disease in Australia.

Every week, 12 Aussie families get the most frightening, crushing, brutal, awful news they’ll ever hear – that their child has cancer. And three kids die of cancer. Every. Single. Week.

Cancer turns up completely unannounced. It gives you no time to prepare, no time to respond.

And the battle with this godawful disease goes on for months and years at a time.

I should know – we’ve been through it, and we’ll deal with the fall-out for a long time to come.

Without continual research and treatment developments that are always going on in the world on paediatric oncology, our life story would be a lot different.

So that’s why I intend to ride 500km over the next month, in the midst of my normal family and work life.

But I really, really need your help. Please, sponsor me to support my challenge and to help our kids. Don’t worry – I’m kicking the tin, too.

To make a donation, simply view my page by clicking on the link below:

www.greatcyclechallenge.com.au/Riders/theolcrank

All funds raised will support the Children’s Medical Research Institute to continue its work to develop treatments and find a cure for childhood cancers.

And everything over two bucks is tax-deductible. The national tally already stands at nearly $900,000 before a wheel has been turned, and the Great Cycle Challenge has raised more than $3 million since kicking off in 2013.

Thanks for your support. Keep an eye on the blog, too – I’ll make it entertaining. If I can!

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We touched on the notion of the gravel bike in the last issue; in essence, it looks like a road bike with fatter tyres. The differences are more marked than that, of course, but it’s a pretty good summation.

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