So... The French part of the Stockholm Bike Skills coaching team are getting ready for their annual pilgrimage to the shrine of mountain biking. The Alps. And more specifically Morzine from where we can access the largest lift supported MTB trails network in the world covering 100s of km of trails in France and Switzerland.
This network of trails bring amazing riding but also specific challenges.
In a series if posts starting with this one, we will go through how we prepare our bikes, equipment and riders so to insure that we have the best riding experience possible.
First you want to make sure that the bike is in perfect working conditions, Recently serviced with lube and grease everywhere it should and loctite everywhere it should!...
If not recently fully service and lower legs clean and oil change on your forks is usually a good idea that does not take very long to do.
Furthermore some subtle modifications do take place that can be used all year round on local trails and bike park but that become more important in big mountain environment.
It is all about the little things that makes a big difference due to exceptional riding conditions you find in the alps with descent sometimes going on for 10s of km and taking sometime up to an hour non stop riding downward before you get to either pedal or take a lift back upward.
So good, powerful and reliable braking is paramount.
As many things in Mountain biking. It comes down to personal preference. For me. It is all about avoiding to heat up those pads and rotors beyond the point where they start to fade. So big floating rotors for powerful braking and air cooled fin pads....
Unless you have Shimano brake that sales their own band fined pads you will need to find a supplier that make them for the make and model on your bike. For my SRAM GUIDE RS, superstart components have what I need at reasonable prices.
The Organic/Kelvar compound mix is reliable, quieter than metallic pads and last a very descent time.
Then you need to ask yourself a simple question. Pack or No Pack? For us it is both. As we alternate bike parks riding one day to natural further afield riding the other in an attempt to minimise the toll of long harsh riding day after day by mixing it up and taxing different parts of our bodies while giving the other a little rest (smooth no pedalling but lots of jumps and high G turns in bikeparks as opposed to long uphill pedalling session and 'on the breaks' DH on goat trails and the like on the exploration days with bike hiking & pushing in places).
So bike parks without backpack, natural trail with.
This means that we still need to take the minimum on bike parks days and somewhat fit it to the bike without it getting in the way.
So what do we need no matter what?
Multitool / Chain link / Chain tool / Spare Inner Tube / CO2 cartridge / tyre levers / Spare Mesh Hanger / Water
Not just for the Alps but a valid trick all year long is to tape a spare chain link to your braking hose or shifting cable and a spare mesh hanger to the frame... Just in case and it is always with the bike. Especially if you have more than one and realise when you need it that you have the wrong one in your pack for the bike you are riding that day
Although I am not a big fan of Specialised bike (due to the abject amount of proprietary standards, and parts on their bike as well as the absurd prices they want for them), I have to admit that they do come up sometimes with some neat idea. Their on bike S.W.A.T. system is one of this. From bottle cage with integrated multitool to saddle with spare tube, CO2 canister and tyres ' lever attachment passing by a hidden chain tool and spare chain link in the top cap... No need for a backpack when we stay in the bike park of Les Gets, SuperMorzine or Chatel....
Now the little details worth considering.
1- A good mudguard is always a must with weather changing day to day and often hour to hour in the mountains, TheMudhuggers are doing a great job and are all year fit and forget...
2- Racers trick... A little piece of skateboard grip tape on shifter, dropper post remote and in my particular case Shapeshifter remote, will insure precision shifting and dropping even when your gloves are wet or muddy...
And if cost almost nothing...
Here is a lifetime supply for the price of a MacDonald
3- Those Lizard Skins brake level cover have the benefits of giving your brake levers a comfortable grippy texture even when wet and your gloves are covered in that clay like mud machine made trails are made of over there, making everything you try to hold on to after a fall as easy as a wet bar of soap. Not a must but a nice touch and I have been glad for them more than one over the years...
DId I forgot anything? Let us know in the comment below.
Next week will be Clothing and Protective Gear Selection followed by Packing The Bike the following week