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Date: 7th February 2010
Riders: Richard, Suren, Robin, Tim, Tim K, Simon and John
Leith Hill
Weather: 4.5°C

Costco isn't a name that you normally associate with mountain biking so I was surprised to see a small range of cycling gear in there as I accompanied the lovely Mrs S. around the Croydon outlet on Saturday morning (yup, living the dream).

I have been looking for a new hydration pack for a while and the Drench 9-litre pack they had on offer featured all the usual like loads of pockets and space, a waist strap plus a 2-litre slidelock reservoir, an insulated tube cover for the bladder and a tuck-away mesh sport flap to carry your lid on your back that was tucked away so well that it took me ten minutes to find it.

A bargain for just £17 so I treated myself to one.

After a month off commuting over the harsh winter when most of the UK was covered in snow my commuting efforts in 2010 are finally bearing fruit. After a couple of disastrous commutes home where my legs were heavy and unresponsive it all fell into place on Friday and I felt good plus my recovery time was good too and Saturday morning saw me with fresh legs and looking forward to Sunday's ride.

Onto Sunday morning and once again we met at Holmbury YHA for a visit to the fun spots of Holmbury and Pitch Hill. We were joined by Suren who has just started riding with the group plus Tim and Robin who I havent seen for a few months and Tim K who bought along Simon and John to complete the group.

Spring appeared to briefly be in the air and four and a half degrees feels warm and I only have a short sleeved layer on underneath my Endura Stealth jacket.

The trails were wet in places but generally firm. Where there was mud it was the type that washed off easily enough once I got the hosepipe out at home.

The only strange section was the slimy texture of the new entrance to Yoghurt Pots but even this overused trail is holding up to the winter use/abuse and the
only disappointment was the total trashing of the "Gone in 60 seconds" due to logging activities.

After the bombhole trail we headed up to Judges Seat and John demonstrated the art of plopping off the various lines there, captured of course in the latest video "The Sound of the Suburbs" and a great picture courtesy of Robin.

Strangely enough that same afternoon I was tagged in a load of pictures posted on Facebook of the first time I visited Judges Seat and the now out of bounds "Caution Steep Slope" way back in April and May 2004.

There was just time to see a lesser spotted Mondraker Dune at the Peaslake bus stop (it's a truism that if you stay there long enough you really do see all the sights of the modern mountain bike world) before we climbed back up Holmbury Hill and then the final descent down Telegraph Road back to the car-park. I am pleased to say that I put my skills learned in our coaching session last week into practice and my descent down Telegraph felt much smoother, possibly quicker but certainly easier than normal.

Unfortunately snow is forecast for this week and my Monday evening commute tonight was through a heavy snowfall but it wasn't settling and it was much more pleasant than rain. Roll on the Spring!

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

Date: 14th February 2010
Riders: Richard and the Sussex Muddyarses
Redhill and heading out towards Chaldon, Warlingham and beyond
Weather: 1.5°C

Today was one of those mornings where it's very tempting not to leave the house. It's cold and wet and you just know the mud is gonna be churned up out on those trails. A light smattering of snow overnight doesn't help matters either.

But this week I have agreed to hook up with the Sussex Muddyarses for a ride starting in the centre of Surrey's very own chav town, Redhill and heading out towards Chaldon, Warlingham and beyond for a route very similar to that we rode just over a year ago and that is enough to get me out of bed and on the road to the meeting point at Redhill station (pronounced Red'll by the locals).

This was badged as an 'anti'-Valentine's ride today as a male only band of riders headed off into the wild woods of Warlingham on the 14th February.

Route available on Flickr, thanks to Rich F for leading and plotting the route.

20 miles covered in conditions that were cold, wet and muddy but ultimately a great ride.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

 

READ MORE:
watch my mtb videos
Tip of the week

MTB in Canada

external bearing replacement

Goodridge hose replacement

dialled bikes rough ride

7 Stanes riding in Scotland

Single speeding
Swinley

Buy some night lights
South Downs MBR killer loop
Buy an MTB DVD
Chainsuck
Buy some night lights
Buy an MTB DVD
kit reviews

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Date: 20th February 2010
Riders: Richard
Road ride: local roads
Weather: 6.5°C

A mild day today although sleet is forecast for later this afternoon. I take the opportunity to get out on the road bike to put in some quick miles.

There's been a bit of talk on the forum about the special trial offer of Zipvit products that a number of us purchased a few weeks ago for the princely sum of £4-99. I have been using the energy and recovery bars over the last few weeks as well as taking the multi-vitamins and fish oil tablets that were supplied.

The bars were quite tasty but the ZV1 Energy Drink Elite - Fruit Punch Flavour caused a bit of negative comment.

So that's about all that is left in the box so as I was on the road bike I mixed this up beforehand. For some reason I rarely carry an energy drink on the mountainbike but it's easier to carry a waterbottle on a road bike and the fruit punch was drunk whilst out on the route (did you see what I did there?).

It was alright I suppose: that is if you like your fruit punch to taste vaguely fruity with a bitter chemical aftertaste. But hey, it's an energy drink and I wasn’t expecting it to taste nice just to do the job which is certainly did.

40 miles covered including two ascents of the Zig Zag Road to Boxhill and 1000 metres of climbing. Check out the route map or the route profile here.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

 

READ MORE:
watch my mtb videos
Tip of the week

MTB in Canada

external bearing replacement

Goodridge hose replacement

dialled bikes rough ride

7 Stanes riding in Scotland

Single speeding
Swinley

Buy some night lights
South Downs MBR killer loop
Buy an MTB DVD
Chainsuck
Buy some night lights
Buy an MTB DVD
kit reviews

Untitled Document

all photos and content copyright of Richard Sear 1999 to 2015


Date: 26th February 2010

GoPro HD Helmet Hero

I have had my eye on a helmet cam for a while now and have read rave reviews on the original GoPro Helmet Hero. I was looking at picking one of these up and they are available for around £140 online.


However with a product managers good sense of timing GoPro went ahead and launched the HD version of their nifty little cam although it comes with a significant price hike and I have been umming and aahing since Christmas whether to get one.

The DOMTB movie shoot prompted me to finally take the plunge plus of course my ill-gotten gains that arrived during Bankers Bonus Season (that’s the day job) and I ordered the GoPro HD Helmet Hero from dogcamsports at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon and was amazed to see it was delivered at 11am the following day: great service!

After opening the packaging I eagerly examined the contents.

Included in the purchase price are:

- Camera and waterproof case in a superb display box
- A choice of back panels for the case (more on this below)
- Grab bag of mounts and accessories
- Miners lamp mount
- Vented helmet mount
- Choice of leads to hook up to the PC, TV or HDTV
- Rechargeable Lithium ion battery


I had also ordered an 8GB card for £20 and the ‘chesty’ harness for what I feel is an overpriced £40. Dogcamsports also offered a free 4GB card too which came in the box.

So what are the advantages of this over the standard GoPro Helmet hero?

You get a choice of five different HD Video resolution modes and each one takes up a slightly different amount of space on the memory card:

- 1080p = 1920x1080 pixels (16:9), 30 fps (12min/GB)
- 960p = 1280x960 pixels (4:3), 30 fps (14min/GB)
- 720p = 1280x720 pixels (16:9), 60 fps (11min/GB)
- 720p = 1280x720 pixels (16:9), 30 fps (16min/GB)
- WVGA = 848x480 pixels (16:9), 60 fps
(16min/GB)

These settings are displayed on the rear of the camera and it's an easy process to change these out on the trail.

You can also shoot HD quality still pictures at a 5 megapixel resolution. There's even a setting to capture stills as a single shot or to take a photo every 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 secs. Finally there's a 3 photo burst and a self-timer setting.

Which brings me to the memory card. The original camera limited you to a 2GB card. With the HD version you can have up to a 32GB SDHC card inserted to give almost 9 hours of filming capacity at 30fps.

So what about battery life? Again, the original version relied on 2 x AAA batteries and according to all reports was very heavy on batteries. The purchase of shares in Duracell was recommended.

For the HD version you get a Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery with a built in battery warmer to keep you shooting in those sub-zero temps.

Another issue with the original was the poor sound quality. Because the case is fully waterproof there was no aperture for sound. Users had taken to drilling holes the case to improve the sound.

The GoPro HD has two panels for the protective case, one fully waterproof and the other with plenty of space to let the sound in and it now picks up the sound well. An amusing warning on the back advises which panel to use depending on whether you are travelling at below or above 100mph (amusing for me who is using it on a bicycle)

So all in all an exciting purchase for me and I'm looking forward to experimneting with the variuous settings over the next few weeks as well as shooting some super slow-mo 60fps footage.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

 


Date: 27th February 2010
Riders: Richard, Nick and Will plus Lee, Louis, Craig, Charlie, Liam and James
Winterfold Woods
Weather: 8.5°C

Nemesis (Lee) has been banging on for months now on the forum about us filming a 'diary of a mountain biker' movie, mainly driven by his purchase of an expensive looking HD video camera and we finally agreed a date to start filming this weekend.

A motley collection of individuals including rarely seen riders, sons, friends of friends and other hangers on turned up at Peaslake car park on Saturday morning and after everyone introduced themselves I persuaded them to move a mile up the road to a better located car-park in Winterfold woods.

This car-park has better access to some slightly drier trails which are more off the beaten track than the MTB motorway that is Barry Knows Best (great trail but not ideal for a bit of peace and quiet).

Winterfold was also more suitable for the kind of shots I had in mind and had sketched out on a notepad but forgotten to take with me. Nevertheless it was all in my mind and so it was up to me to get over to the others what I was after (without any other offers I had taken on the mantle of scene director).

However, a natural order of riders, video shooters, stills photographers and artistic directors developed during the day and we all worked well together with lots of suggestions for shots from all of the team.

I was wearing my new GoPro HD Helmet Hero camera and testing this out: more to follow on this.

The nature of filming required a lot of standing around and chatting but all the group are pretty good at that and I found that I didn't mind riding, then re-riding a particular section of trail again and again to get the right shot (or 'sessioning' a trail as those in the know might call it).

After a late lunch we headed up to Judges Seat for a bit of airtime. All seemed to be going well until I stacked it on what turned out to be the final run of the day. It wasn't too bad altohugh I ended up with a slightly swollen right eye and a bit of abrasion on the eyelid from my gloves as I somehow managed to punch myself in the face as I landed. Luckily I was wearing the GoPro on the 'chesty' harness at the time and it was recording: check out the HD crash footage here.

I had a look at some of the sneak previews and they looked good especially the super slow-mo's that Lee's cam shoots although we haven't got all the footage yet and are planning another day out.

The session was really enjoyable. There is more talk on the forum about how to motivate yourself to get out riding in what has been a thoroughly miserable long British Winter and for me, doing something different like this is the perfect antidote.

It was also great to have a number of people there who were riders but more interested in the photography and/or filming side of it than wanting to go off and ride.

It was definitely a great day, well worth the effort and I am looking forward to the next session especially now that some drier weather appears to be on the way.

Here's some more photos on Flickr taken by someone with a much better camera than me.

Check out the latest videos we have uploaded

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Top

click to view click to view click to view Steve Neill Big Trev Orange Dave dialled bikes pewter headtube badge Dave and Dave outside LOMAC Dave on Summer Lightning A grinning Trevor Steve (again) Davebus and Neill on Stane Street Jason next to Denbie's vineyard Trevor struggles up the climb Dave followed by Jason on Stane Street Banstead Downs singletrack It was getting dark by the time I got back Richard (that's me!) Surrey Hills logo at the top of Coombe hill Gary dicing with the cars through New Malden Stag party Gary's Giant SCR 2008 model  A cheerful looking Gary part way round Richmond Park speed limits for cyclists! Kingston Gate, Richmond Park view off the side of Headley Heath Bianchi K-Vid carbon forks self-portrait whilst climbing between second and third hairpin on the Zig Zag Road, Box Hill Dave and Mat, the folly, Reigate Hill urban riding, Richard in Ashtead High Street a bit underexposed but a nice shot of the view from the North Downs Way Richard dropping in on Colley Hill No, not the Mediterranean, this is outside LOMAC, Ashtead High Street Richard showing off for the camera Mat and Richard, Stane Street Richard, Headley Heath Mat on Headley Heath Gary with our 'rabbit' in the distance Gary in the dusk Richard Gary chasing the yellow 'rabbit' in the distance Cas Cas Richard 'self-portrait'