Pro-rider Alex Stock rolls BMX and rides on and off-road (bikes as well as motorbikes), but has fast become known for his top Enduro placings for Team Kona.
Here he speaks to Sam Bowell, resident mountain biking holidays blogger, and reveals how he prepares, his thoughts on UK bike parks and DH tracks, and what he looks for in a perfect bike set-up.
He’s also booked in a return ride-off between the pair on Alpe d’Huez – because the last time Sam and Alex met…
If you’d rather take it off road than face the monotony of the road, mountain biking in Lanzarote has much to tempt – and a testing variety or surfaces, tracks and tough tundra to push you and your ride.
Lanzarote is favoured by small groups of lycra clad roadies enjoying the miles of sticky black tarmac – but not exclusively; the MTB scene here is alive and well.
And while its volcanic days are long since over, Lanzarote still has it’s share of hot rocks and routes – here’s more info about the Canary Islands for off-roadies.
OK so lets get something straight from the off: I’m proud to be one of those riders who is more than happy for gravity to do most of the hard work for me.
That’s not to say I’m lazy or am adverse to a bit of pedaling, but I’m not going to win any XC trophies any time this decade.
So when I set out on a gentle ride this morning, I wasn’t exactly expecting to complete the 25-mile loop which I had fleetingly toyed with over breakfast.
Fortunately I had a very generously loaned out Kona Process to test, rather than the lumbering big-rig I would normally be piloting, and my punishing loop became little more than a (heavily frosted) piece of cake.
Having recovered from the excitement of that first blast on a brand new steed, thoughts will often turn towards tweaks and upgrades that will help further increase enjoyment levels and comfort.
For those new to the scene the variety of aftermarket kit can be overwhelming and confusing.
It’s no surprise then “What’s the first thing I should upgrade on my new bike?” is such a frequently asked question.
Upgrade all Contact Points
Start with the basics: those things that are going to dramatically improve your time in the saddle. Think contact points, for both you and the bike: Bum, hands, feet and tyres.
Having mountain biked since I was a kid the thought of attaching my feet to the pedals has always seemed alien to me. But enough of my friends have tried it, and liked it, that I thought it was about time I gave it a go.
Comments such as ‘once you have tried it you will never go back’ enticed me into acquiring the Bikehut high performance dual sided SPD pedals and HBH MTB shoes.
This is Halfords’ own brand of SPD (Shimano Pedal Dynamics), which look and work in a similar way to their more expensive cousins.
Getting the HBH pedals and shoes set up
On arrival the HBH MTB shoes were a good fit and very comfy. I was impressed with the armour around the toes; if my trainers had provided this over the last few years it would have saved me quite a bit of pain and black toenails. Also, the pedals and cleats on the shoes were very easy to fit and adjust.
Freeride is perhaps the most testing MTB discipline, certainly in terms of what it demands of the bikes: Massive drops, cloud busting jumps and pretty much every obstacle in-between. And the skill level and balls out confidence needed to take on this stuff is on another level.
So we hooked up with Teva sponsored rider Sam Pilgrim and quizzed him on all sorts of things, such as how he got into freestyle, his local rides and freeride as an Olympic event.
Three Times Vienna Air King winner and this year’s Teva Mountain Games champ, take it away Sam!
All extreme sports enthusiasts can instantly name favourite brands for their sport. These brands become much-loved not because they look cool but by doing a good job when doing the sport.
We all have our favourites mine are GT for mountain biking and Burton for snowboarding as neither have ever let me down.
But many of these brands have become popular outside of their sports and you see extreme sports fashion on every high street. Not everyone wearing a Quicksilver t-shirt can surf. Same goes for people sporting Fox jeans – it’s unlikely they ride motocross, and you don’t have to be a snowboarder to keep warm in a Burton jacket.
So why have extreme sport brands become fashionable?
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