Mountainbike Mule Trail

First Mountain bike ride of the year. I’m getting so used to the Canyon racing bike that going back to this thing now feels like riding on an old donkey in comparison. The San Marco saddle is too soft – the bike weighs a ton at 17.5kg (6.4kg for the Canyon!). On the long descent the rear brakes overheat, boil the hydraulic fluid and stop working! This bike is a UK set up with the rear brake on the left – the Canyon is a continental set up with the rear brake on the right – potentially very confusing and dangerous! Somehow I seem to successfully switch from one to the other. In France motorbikes have the rear brake on the left and push bikes on the right. In English we have DNA – French ADN, English we have AIDS – French SIDA. We invented everything and drive on the left -the French drive on the right out of spite – it all started with Napoleon Bonaparte apparently and the French are still at it.

Fittingly this descent was on an old mule trail from Granier (1200m) down to Aime (700m). The suspension is lockable both front and back for climbing and the pedals have cleats on one side for climbing and spikes on the other side for descending. The tyres are tubeless and pumped up only to 3bar (44psi) for better traction. Tubes at this low pressure would get crimped against the rim of the wheel and puncture as a result. The front tyre is a heavy duty 2.5in downhill tyre for better stability in descending and the rear tyre is a 2.3in free-ride tyre because that’s the biggest that will fit the frame without rubbing.

Have managed two road bike rides since this descent – one averaging 31kph over 52km when going to collect my old van from a garage. The next was a climb up to La Rossière ski station yesterday averaging 17kph on the 1000m vertical climb. It was weird arriving at 1850m altitude in the resort just after 5pm with all the skiers sitting on the terraces – two different universes that don’t seem to join up properly. It’s my first venture above 1300m altitude on the bike but it was easily warm enough despite a typical headwind coming down from the Col de Petite St Bernard over from Italy. The descent in just a tee shirt was slightly chilly to begin with but that’s because it was getting late and the sun wasn’t so strong. I played a lot with pedalling technique – trying to compare a flat lower back to a rounded one. Rounding the lower back leaves more room for the lower ribs – mine stick out a bit and seem to accompany a large lung capacity. The rounding of the lower back seems to also give better access to the abdomen for use in the pulling up phase. I’ve noticed that it’s easy to switch between using the lower back muscles or the abdomen during the pull up. The back muscles seem to be more powerful but unfortunately this rapidly seems to lead to back injury. I’ve concentrated on aligning the action though the abdomen instead and this seems to protect the back. With the lower back slightly rounded the action feels more naturally integrated.

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