Well the new bike has arrived

So here we are, the new toy.

I went to Intersport in St. Junien to order the Merida Big Nine Limited, they had a 30% discount, bringing the price down to a comfortable 1050€.

They didn’t have one my size! And they had run out of stock at Intersport big cheese house and everywhere else I could find them they were too expensive.

But … there’s bound to be a but considering my first sentence … just arrived in the shop was another Merida, the Big Nine Six, weighing in at a mean 11.98 kilos instead of 11.79 for the Limited. And, it occurred to me, the 1500€ original price for the Limited was all about the paint job, since the spec is the same. Very snazzy in several bright greens but I can live without looking as though my bike is a grasshopper.

Just look at that 50 tooth rear cassette gear (30 on the chain ring). Climbing should be easy … well, a bit.

I have other plans to make it lighter, like a different chain, probably hollow pin and tubeless tyres. Possibly lighter cranks if I can afford them. That’s about it for lightening the bike itself, I’m going to lose a little more myself and I can buy less beefy shoes.

How does it ride? Well it goes up hills like somebody else is doing the work and that suits me very well.

The adventure is on the move!

Losing a few kilos

My mountain bike ride from Clermont down to Montpelier will be roughly 660 kilometres long, I’m planning on riding with a total weight of 90 kilos, made up of me, bike, camping gear, food and water. That may increase on a hot day with extra fluid but to make that easier there are plenty of streams where I’m going and farms where I can ask for water.


So in my preparation for this I’ve been adjusting the main variables, my weight and the kit I’m taking with me. 3 Months ago I weighed 71 kilos with a target of 66. I’m nearly there at 68 and I have managed it with a combination of plenty of riding and dieting. My carb intake has been reduced and I go on fat burning rides.


Fat burning rides, for me anyway, work well. I get up early, ride over varied terrain at a medium effort for 2 hours without any breakfast at all. The idea is that your body burns the carbs from supper while you sleep, leaving the body with only fat to turn to as an energy source during exercise. After that just don’t eat as much as you might have done before, no chips, no ice cream and no beer!


Simples, as they say. And if once in a while I stuff ice cream, drink beer and wash it down with chips …. I’m not in a race!


On my other “training rides” where I plan to be out for 4 hours or more I take food with me, peanut butter and jam on rice cakes, energy bars and chocolate. I have a control route that I take from time to time which I ride as fast as possible, the idea being that if I weigh less and I’m getting fitter, so my times are improving then I must be doing something right.


Somebody is going to ask why worry about a few kilos of extra body weight? And my answer is, find a flight of stairs and walk up and down them several times, carrying 6 litres of water. After a little while you wonder how much easier it would be if you left some at the bottom.


Another way of looking at it is to say that every kilo lost from me can be used instead on something useful like a spare part for the bike … provided I don’t exceed my limit of 90 kilos.


My method works because I’m losing this weight slowly so as not to lose strength or stamina. The ride is going to be a wonderful adventure, but only if I prepare for it carefully.


On my next blog I’ll write about the ride itself and what I hope to see.

I want a new mountain bike

Welcome to my first foray into writing a blog. This one is a slightly techy one, though more to do with a wish list and bike porn than head angles and crank lengths!

I’ll start with a brief bio and why I want a new mountain bike.

I’m nearly 60, I live in France and I’m going on a long ride. Involving 12,000 metres of climbing (a bit more downhill) my adventure will take me from Clermont Ferrand through the Auvergne to Montpelier.

Why the Auvergne … because I love the music of Joseph Canteloube!

So here’s my issue. Weight. I’m not well heeled enough to be especially obsessive on this but I reckon that if everything including me comes to more than 90 kilos, it’ll be too much.

Which brings me to the new bike and the fun of working through the compromises.

Oh mama have I looked into this! Carbon frame bikes are light but at my price point probably lack quality kit. So it has to be aluminium. And I prefer 29ers. When I first thought of this the Boardman Team 29er was going to be the one at just over 11kg, nice paint job, 120mm of front suspension travel, SRAM gear and currently only £800 with Halfords. Really good reviews.

Then I saw the Marin Nail Trail 7. Dropper post included, internal cable routing, nice frame geometry, long fork travel, and like the Boardman it has a single front chain wheel. You can shop around and find one at the moment for £1120. That’s a bit steep for me.

Which brings me to the Merida Big 9 Limited. Less than 12 kilos, internal routing, lovely clean geometry, massive cassette which might come in useful. And the price? In France, €1119 or about £900 and I can get it from a local shop. There’s lots to be said for buying it from a guy who might at some point do some work on it.

So there we are for the moment, I’ll be updating soon with more news on my trek and if I actually buy the Merida.