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Light & Motion

A good while ago, maybe 5 years or so, I invested in a bike light for commuting to work from out of town, out in the sticks where there’s no street lights. In the depths of winter here it’s dark by 4pm, so I needed something that would spare me the repeated pinch punctures I’d been suffering as a result of the frost-induced pot holes.

At the same time though, cost was an issue, and it was no small thing for me to fork out £125 (about $200) on a bike accessory. I went with the fully waterproof Light & Motion Solo, a small halogen lamp with a huge bright flood, and a hefty rechargeable battery pack which velcroed onto the bike frame. Unfortunately, after a year or two, the button mechanism failed, but my local bike shop replaced the light with no questions asked.

In fact, they replaced it with a different light, at my request – the Light & Motion Vega. This was an LED lamp, an all-in-one sealed unit with no trailing wires. Not quite as bright but still plenty enough for my 10 mile commute.

At some point while moving flats 3 times in the space of 2 years, I misplaced the handlebar mount for my light, rendering it useless. I forgot about it for a long while since living in town now my commute is fully street-lit and only about half a mile in distance, but still, what a waste of a light! No night riding for me then.

Since then, Light & Motion have discontinued that version of the Vega with something smaller, sleeker and no doubt brighter, but that was little comfort to me as I’m not in the habit of frequently buying expensive bike lights. So a couple of months ago I emailed Light & Motion’s customer service on the off-chance I could buy a new handlebar mount, and a nice chap got back to me super fast, although with the not so great news that they were all out of stock on the parts for the old Vega lights. Nonetheless he asked for my address and said he’s do his best to find one, and sure enough, a couple of months later, not only has he found one completely unused, he’s sent it to me without charge.

So if you’re in the market for a bike light, I know there’s more choice out there than there was 5 years ago, but consider getting one made my Light & Motion. They’re made in the USA, with a splendid deep sea diving heritage behind them, built to last and backed up by the best customer service you could hope for. My £125 couldn’t have been better spent.

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World’s Smallest Velodrome

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Life Cycles: Review

Last week on Friday I finally got my copy of the new mountain biking film ‘Life Cycles’ in the post all the way from Canada. The trailer promised some outstanding footage, and understandably I couldn’t wait to get home and watch it. I’ve been sans computer for the past 2 weeks while Apple have been trying to figure out what’s wrong with it, and since my partner and I don’t own a television, we watched it on her computer instead. I was fairly confident that given the various articles I’d read in the lead up to the film being released, that even to a non-cycling fan, this film would be entertaining enough to hold her interest. After all, a couple of years ago when I brought Seasons home and started watching it, within five minutes she too couldn’t pull her eyes away from the screen.

The focus of Life Cycles is quite different from Roam, Seasons, and Follow Me though. These are the only other MTB films I own and thus the basis for my comparison. In Life Cycles, it really is all about the bike. In theory, that sounds like a great idea. We all love bikes, lets get right in there and tell the story of a bike – any bike really – and it’s journey from creation in the factory furnace to ultimate destruction, however that might come about. And along the way we’ll weave a story of how the bicycle is the most noble of all human inventions and allows us to explore, destroy, create and ultimately gain better knowledge of ourselves and our surroundings.

It’s no surprise watching Life Cycles that the directors, at least one of them, is taking his first step into film making, coming from a photography background. The cinematography is breathtaking, that is undeniable. As I understand it, the film was made with the lowest budget possible, and to me, especially working with the format of film making, I find that the result is staggering – they say they spent time not money, waiting long periods of time to acquire borrowed Red cameras to get the quality of shot they desired. And the time spent filming is also evident – especially in one sequence which marks the changing of the seasons through one section of single track – as the rider weaves his way through the woods amongst bright green ferns and foliage, the autumn is right behind him. Fall leaves litter the same trail and the shot morphs from greens to browns in his wake.

Watching this film with Meg, I became slightly uncomfortable as the time ticked on. Beautiful as it was to watch, the story – helped along sporadically by a series of voiceovers by one man, was not enough to really hold our attention. Ultimately, what Life Cycles lacks, is something personal. You can fill the screen with shot after shot of incredible slow motion cinematography, but a film is not a photo album. It needs more. The bicycle itself is inanimate – its the rider that drives it to become something more, and not once having a rider take his helmet off and just share something of the joy of riding was a mistake I think. But I can see that that is not what they set out to do, they have created a masterpiece of sorts – a long series of mountain biking sequences which look amazing, but left me wanting more – or in fact any – interaction with the riders.

I also felt that the slow motion shots outnumbered and overpowered the real-times shots, which I’ve always felt were more entertaining to watch. Sure, get some slow motion in there because it gives you a chance to really appreciate what the rider just did – but Life Cycles uses slow motion far too much, and the over all result is that a film already lacking in a personal human touch, also has no pace and starts to feel very, very slow.

Overall, I’d say watch it for the beauty, but don’t expect it to deliver much else.

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Redbull Rampage

A little thursday afternoon light relief in the form of some of the best footage I’ve seen from October’s insane Redbull Rampage event.

Go on, have a butchers:

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Deputy Prime Minister told to stop cycling

It’s dangerous, cycling. Especially in London, or anywhere in America, just read Sam’s last post.

But now Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been advised by his security personel that he needs to stop riding his bike from his home in Putney, South West London to his place of work in the Cabinet Office, beside 10 Downing Street.

Apparently they’re worried that he’ll be pelted with objects or run off the road due to his new found unpopularity, which is surging thanks to his failure to hold up one of his pre-election pledges to students: to scrap tuition fees.

Run off the road? Pelted with objects? It’s all par for the course isn’t it? I doubt the bus driver who tried to kill me a few weeks ago objected to my stance on Britain’s gun-owning laws. I think he just didn’t check his mirror.

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Life Cycles

I have pre-ordered this promising looking DVD. Apparently DVD production is being held up by quality issues though so for now, we just just have the trailer:

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English Thighs 2

I agree wholeheartedly with my brother’s sentiments in this post.

There is an immense sense  of satisfaction to be had, suiting up and braving the wintery temperatures that November has to offer. Provided there is no strong wind and the rain holds off for long enough, a thoroughly pleasant ride can be had even in winter months in the Cotswolds, but you only have to get one thing wrong; one chink in your expensive Rapha armour and the cold lets you know that what you’re doing is against all sense and reason.

Didn’t put long finger windproof gloves on? Say hello to extreme finger pain and say goodbye to your ability to brake effectively. Thought that once you got pedalling your bare legs would warm themselves? You idiot, that’s going to be a really unpleasant and distracting burning sensation. Just put on your thickest socks and thought that would be enough? Fool. You need merino socks, covered with windproof socks, and then a good pair of neoprene overshoes if you want to be able to feel your feet by the end of the ride. Set off with just your helmet on your head? You can look forward to eye-wateringly cold air tearing at your delicate ears, especially on those descents.

Yesterday I ventured out for my first ride since throwing my back out spectacularly in early September, and forgetting my windproof fleece head band and my neck-warming Buff, I was reminded how unpleasant cycling can be in the winter.

But, it was my own fault really – not the weather’s. You need to carry out a kit checklist before a 4º ride.

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Revolution

I for one am getting excited about the new season of Revolution at the Manchester velodrome this autumn/winter. Should be going to quite a few of these with work again hopefully. Here’s something I put together last year when we treated a bunch of our clients to a hospitality day at the velodrome: a track taster session with a few Olympic medal winners, and inside seats for the racing… good times.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/14457386

Dair / FACE hospitality at the Revolution series from Sera Pickering Pick on Vimeo.

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“Yumeya” might also mean “sucker”

If you’ve purchased the full Shimano Dura Ace 7900 groupset, you might be feeling quite smug, if a little light in the wallet. But amazingly, you could spend more, and you could be smugger. And I’m not talking about the Di2 Electronic Dura Ace, although that does sound really cool when you’re shifting into the big ring. No, I’m talking about Shimano’s Yumeya range of… well not components, but component components.

Yumeya is apparently Japanese for ‘dream workshop’. I like the idea, but this is literally some gold-coloured bolts to replace the titanium-coloured bolts your 7900 groupset came with, plus a couple of other goodies. Total weight saving across the whole groupset if you buy this kit: 35 grams. The same as a packet of Walker’s crisps. The list price: £300.

Ooo look, wiggle is selling the kit for £269.99. Bloody bargain.

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Sky Ride Etape Hibernia (part 2)

We filmed a lot of stuff over the whole long weekend so that I could edit it all together to show everyone at dinner on Sunday night after the ride. That film had quite a bit of ‘you had to be there’ stuff so I’ve shortened it down to the main chunks which I feel sum up our weekend.

I was a little disappointed by the shakiness of some of the head-cam footage but some of those road surfaces were amongst the roughest and most pot-holey I’ve ever ridden on so I’m not really surprised. I wish I could have had a second camera to capture another angle but ah well.

Here it is…

http://player.vimeo.com/video/14427080

Sky Ride Etape Hibernia from Sera Pickering Pick on Vimeo.

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