Teva Links Flat Shoes

Teva Links - Purple

Buying your first pair of flat shoes for mountain biking is a big decision. Some people stick with skate shoes and it works for them; some walking shoes – they provide a stiff sole and are waterproof. But if you are going to buy a pair of shoes designed for purpose you are going to spend upwards of £80 and you will need to be sure that they are right. Read some reviews, try them on in your local bike shop. There are many choices and many opinions. Here is my 2 year experience with a pair of TEVA Links in purple with Spider Rubber soles!

I wont deny part of my decision making process was they had to look good, who doesn’t look good in pair of purple shoes?

Teva Links x 4

I have been wearing the pair pictured for over 2 years on all sorts of rides and in all sorts of weather including snow and typically British heavy rain. They are not waterproof the mesh above the toes will let water in and of course being typical shoe (under the ankle) height water and puddles find a way in. So we wont labor on this point – buy some waterproof socks.

Teva Links

They look cool and the being of rubber and leather construction with stiff plastic elements they are easy to clean.  The stiff Spider365 Rubber sole doesn’t have the typical tacky feel of some other brands but the PedalLINK grip pattern has mated particularly well with both the DMR and SuperStar Nano pedals that I have used. The toe and heel sections of the underside has some addition grip patterns for off the bike and will help when you have to get off and push.

The ShocPad cushion in the heel provides additions comfort and shock absorption – it also means that even with stiff sole walking in the shoes is really comfortable.

The fit for my size 9 has been perfect and with 2 years of battering they still look great today, complete with a few battle scars.

I have recently bought another brand of shoes (a spare set rather than a replacement) but with some suede paneling I try to keep them for the drier conditions and the Links are my favored choice for the mud and wet conditions because they clean easier.

After 2 years the pins on my pedals have begun to tear at the grip patter in a few places and I have had 1 or 2 pedal slip moments – however I am of the opinion that  I will get another pair of Teva shoes though it looks like they don’t make them in purple any more.

http://www.teva.co.uk/mens-links-mountain-biking-shoes/1002689,en_GB,pd.html?dwvar_1002689_color=BLK&start=4&cgid=mens-shoes-bike

Muddy Teva Links

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Weekend Plans

What plans do you have for the weekend?

I have a 50k ride planned tomorrow, leading MB Swindon around some of my local routes. We have some climbing planned, some sweet little down hill sections, jumps, bomb holes and a lot of pedalling!

We will be doing some steep climbs to the historic Roundway Hill where Oliver Cromwell had a bit of a scrap

The Battle of Roundway Down was fought on 13 July 1643, during the First English Civil War. A Royalist cavalry force under Lord Wilmot won a crushing victory over the Parliamentarians under Sir William Waller who were besieging Devizes in central Wiltshire, which was defended by Lord Hopton. Roundway Down and Oliver’s Castle are about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) north of Devizes and now form part of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. – Wikipedia

We will be riding near the Hill Fort known as Oliver’s Castle – http://www.devizesheritage.org.uk/olivers_castle.html – and down to Bromham and up through Devizes along the canal and the Caen Hill Lock Flight – pictured.

For those reading this coming on the ride – don’t worry 12k or so will be mine to and from the start. The ride is about 36k and we will be out for about 4 hours I suspect.

Anyway, i am sure there will be more pictures to come and a blow by blow account of the ride at some point in the next few days.

Enjoy your weekend, where ever you are.

SealSkinz – All Weather Cycle Gloves

SealSkinz - All Weather Cycle Gloves

I don’t normally feel the cold; but 2 years ago on one very crisp and frosty February morning I felt the cold like never before! My core temperature and limbs were fine thanks to a good wicking base layer and the usual central heating generated by a bike ride. But my fingers and toes were numb beyond belief. Holding the cold bars, pulling on cold shifters and break levers coupled with the freezing wind generated by my forward movement meant my hands and fingers in particular were subjected to sub zero temperatures that I hadn’t thought possible and it hurt!

If this sounds a little dramatic its supposed to. Do not take the cold lightly! By the time I got home (on a ride I cut very short) I was close to tears – yes at 40 years old I felt like crying because my hands were cold! I felt sick and I couldn’t touch anything let alone rub my hands together to warm them like I have been telling my kids to do on cold Bonfire nights.

You clicked on the link to read a review and this is a review of sorts – I’m almost there. It took hours for the life to come back into my fingertips and a few more for the tingling to stop altogether, never again was I going to let this happen. I needed gloves that were going to provide thermal protection and wouldn’t allow water (snow or rain) in so I went shopping that afternoon.

Now I wear SealSkinz cycling gloves and the above experience is but a memory. The gloves provide great protection against the elements and my hands are now toasty and warm during Winter rides. They have cycling specific rubber patches for grip on wet brake levers and with a velcro wrist strap they seal in the heat and fit snug. They don’t have much in the way of padding on the palm or heel to provide any of the impact support, but for me Winter riding is firstly about staying warm and these do the job perfectly.

http://www.sealskinz.com/UK/cycling/kj441-all-weather-cycle-gloves-black.html

Specialized Storm Control 29 x 2.0

Specialized storm control

Having struggled a little to gain some traction last winter with the factory fitted Specialized Ground Control tyres that came on the Rockhopper I took the advice of my LBS and fitted a pair of Storm Control also from Specialized.

No sooner were they on, my grip improved in the wet muddy conditions. They cut through the mud well. I have left them on all year and haven’t had much in the way of problems to warrant changing them.

I mostly ride my 29er XC and on rolling terrain rather than on gnarly downhill and technical obstacles. There have been the odd sketchy moment on wet roots but I have learnt to deal with that (what tyre can truly cope with wet roots?) and the ability to beat the mud has defined these tyres for me. You won’t get one tyre that can deal with everything – but the Storm Control on my 29er has been plenty of tyre for me on this bike over the last 9 months or so. While I have been tempted to put some wider more aggressive tyres on for the summer, they rolled and rode well and with the wet weather coming they will stay put for another winter.

Autumn is almost here

Its almost Autumn as we call it – not Fall. I am happy with and like the word Fall, but we call it Autumn and as this is my blog mostly about mountain biking I would like to avoid using the word Fall if I can help it! Its not something I like to associate with biking!

Fall or Autumn – What does this mean? Well it means some changes to your bike set up, lubes, tyres, cleaning, clothing etc Here’s a few things that I will be changing over the coming month or so.

Mud tyres – Last autumn/winter I barely rode my full sus bike so never changed the tyres and have been running wider rubber more suited to downhill and trail centres. My hardtail has Specialized Storm Control fitted and these worked really well to cut through the mud and wet. I have just bought some Maxxis Beavers for the Giant and will see how they work for me.

Lube – Time to start thinking about the wet lube now. As the mud and rain becomes more regular its important to have lube that is designed to operate and keep the chain moving freely in this sort of weather.

Cleaning – Wet lube and wet weather will mean a stricter cleaning routine of the bike, in particular the chain, cassette etc.

Clothing – Might sound obvious but wrapping up a little and getting some waterproofs on is a must. My SealSkinz gloves and socks will be out soon enough. Keeping the fingers and toes warm are top of my list! And a good base layer!

Do you have any tips or routines for winter riding?