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Posted by: Mike
This review came about from a conversation with Will and Toby from Sussed Out Suspension at the Codham round of the Nationals (race report here). We were chatting about the reason I rode 27.5" wheels when most of the XC field was on 29", to which I replied that I had yet to find a 29er I actually liked. There are many I've tried and thought "Nope", a few I've tried where I was indifferent and a few I actually liked. However there were none I loved. They very kindly said that if I was ever down in Suffolk they would lend me a Podium to try for the weekend. So over Easter, I did.

Mondraker Podium
One similar to this, but better.

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Posted by: Mike
Well, to be fair despite having raced for the last five or so years I've never actually done a road race up until now. Due to extenuating circumstances I'm not going to be able to travel very far away from home later on this summer so decided it was high time that I get my act in gear and actually do a bit of road racing.

I thought that the local road race series (Mallory Park RR League) looked like a good place to start. They do Cat4 only racing on a closed circuit. Awesome!

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Posted by: Mike
Where to start when reviewing chamois cream? It's something of a polarizing subject as many riders think it's useless, others love it and some have never tried it. I'm firmly in the 'love it' camp.

I've always been a big fan of chamois cream and have always previously used the Assos menthol cream in the past. Having run out the day before a big endurance ride meant I didn't have time to order more and I thought my local shop stocked it.

Unfortunately not. They did however recommend the Chapeau stuff to me. It was the same price as the Assos tubs (£11.99) and would seem to have more for your money (200ml instead of 140ml).

20140417-chapeau.jpg

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Posted by: Tony
So MSG Round 2 came up pretty quickly, much like round 1. Only this time, I was prepared. Well, kind of. I'd had my new bike for about a week or so, so I was still getting used to it, but that wasn't about to stop me. I am glad I brought the 29er, she's a much better bike for me and I think once I get used to her, I'll be a bit faster. Preferably without the back pain :) Kirsty and I travelled down to the event with Tony in his van. Being able to just chuck the bikes in the back with no disassembly was really handy! To settle the pre-race nerves we blasted some Kiss on the way down, which I'm not sure Kirsty enjoyed, she'll get there haha!

MSG2 Nick

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Posted by: Jodie
Having done my usual bike prep and packing on Saturday – I sat back to enjoy dinner whilst watching TV. I retired to bed around 11pm hoping for a good night sleep before race day. 2am I was still wide awake and getting rather frustrated that I had to be up in 2.5 hours for breakfast! After a mug of tea and an unwind I went back to bed and at least managed a couple of hours before my alarm went off. I was feeling pretty knackered to say the least – not a good start to race day.
Having washed my scrambled egg on toast down with a rather strong coffee, it was time for my two hour drive to Carver Barracks – I wanted to be there early enough for a pre-ride, knowing that as this was an unusual venue (a first for MS&G) and likely to have one or two testing obstacles – and I wasn't wrong!

MSG2 Carver Barracks - Jodie

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Posted by: Jed
I was really looking forward to racing at a round of the National XC Series this year; I never managed to get to one last season. I spent the week going steady, having ridden a particularly hard 100 miles on the road the Sunday before. I wanted to be in best shape for the race!

Race day began with a lovely breakfast with Mike and Lizzie at the Banter Café in Loughborough. Sausages, bacon, eggs, and hash brown are the best way to begin! A rather uneventful journey down to Codham followed. New territory for me, I’ve never ridden in Essex before, although it turned out to be not too dissimilar from Thetford, just less forested. We arrived at the venue to glorious sunshine which was a relief; racing in the rain is no fun at all. Made a huge change to the snows of this time last year!

20140403-imag0243.jpg

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Posted by: Mike
...and it was bloody hard! Very pleased with my performance though, although a bit of a shame for Jed's first ever National.


Photo from XCPix.com

I came into the week feeling quite nervous and excited. This isn't a race I had planned to taper for so I had a week's worth of training in the legs. I had recovered as normal from the weekend's sportive on Monday, and then it was short (10-12 second) hill sprints Tuesday. On (a somewhat wet) Wednesday I headed to Shepshed BMX track to practice riding it - as I knew that the race at Codham would have at least some of an Olympic quality track in the course. Thursday had me doing 90 second maximum effort hill sprints straight into a 20 minute tempo time trial, leaving Friday to just have a gentle spin and ease the legs out.

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