Endura Deluge Gloves

Photo Benji Haworth.

I’ve never rated waterproof gloves, as water always seems to just come in at the wrist to soak down towards your hands. These gloves from Endura have changed my mind. There’s a waterproof cuff that goes up your sleeve and it’s remarkably effective, both at keeping water out and at keeping you warmer by keeping the cold wind off your wrists. There’s a waterproof membrane inside the gloves, but don’t worry it’s not one of those stupid ones that gets turned inside out when you take the gloves off. The outer material is stretchy, which combined with the lack of bulk means you can still feel what you’re doing with brakes and shifters as well as with jacket zips. There’s gel padding on the palms which is comfy and doesn’t add bulk. The only thing I don’t like is the snot wiper, which is on the index finger rather than thumb and is a bit of a thin strip. It’s not a deal breaker, but there could be a bit more material here. Even though they’re not heavy weight, the gloves are still well insulated. I’ve been happy wearing them in the wet and windy, as well as the frozen days of winter.  Windproof, waterproof and warm. Brilliant. RRP is £35.99 which seems like a bargain to me. Here are the Deluge gloves on the Endura site.

Gore Alp-X SO Soft Shell

Photo Benji Haworth

Through the autumn and winter, this has been my most reached for outer layer and I’ve worn it much more than I’ve carried it. New for 2012 this Windstopper soft shell is ideal for cooler through to bloody freezing days. Regulating temperature whilst mountain biking in the cold is a tricky game and this jacket works so well because funnily it’s not too warm! It’s beauty is it’s adaptability. If things warm up a bit, just unzip the sleeves to make a great fitted gilet. Get to the lunch stop, or get ready for the after-night-ride pedal home and zip them back on. Need to be warmer? Then wear 2 or 3 base layers under the shell. For the ride I was on in the photo above, the ground was frozen solid and we were riding on high moorland trails. I wore a short sleeved and a long sleeved base layer, along with a long sleeved jersey under the softshell and was toasty warm all day. All I had to do to regulate temperature was pull the front zip down a bit for climbs.

Rather than being a roadie jacket for mountain bikers, this jacket is all about the mountain.  There are 2 pockets at the hips, which are easy to access when wearing a pack. They make a good place to put the sleeves, or stuff a Buff, keys, sweets, money or whatever away, without having to take off the pack. There’s another zipped pocket on the chest and a mech pocket on the back.

This softshell is really windproof and it’s also pretty water resistant too, making it a viable choice to take on its own for rides of a couple of hours. The cut is fitted which adds to the nice snug feeling and helps to keep the wind out. There’s a high, light weight and non restrictive feeling neoprene collar and cuffs, which further help to keep the chilly air out. As with all Gore kit the quality of construction is excellent and the way the various panels go together makes for a really natural fit when you’re on the bike. Stretch inserts make the jacket really comfy when riding along and mean that it doesn’t have a nerdy “assume the position” look when you’re not riding. Reflective piping is subtly all over the place as well. There are other colours if you’re not into stealth and you can find out more here on the Gore Bike Wear site.

RRP is £169.99

2012 International

This year is set to be a big one for Great Rock. As well as the popular trail centre and natural trail UK courses, I’m heading off with my bike in the EVOC bag to lead several European skills holidays. If you meet my wife you might just explain to her that this is a job and not just one big holiday.

Although all the trips have mountain bike skills as the core element, there is a lot more going on as well. I’m keen that all the trips are good holidays in their own right and the locations are actually places that I want to go to. It’s not all school and we have a lot of fun riding our bikes all day in the big hills with the assistance of experienced guides.  When the riding’s done we can relax in good places and our accommodation and food is always of a high standard. Sometimes we drink a beer or two.

The riding in all the areas has lots of quiet singletrack trails. It’s all proper mountain biking with the right balance of technical challenges as well as magnificent views. Because the areas I go to are a bit quieter the riding is not all uplifted. There is some pedalling although all the trips also include uplift to get the most fun out of our riding time. You will not have to queue to ride and neither will you have to suffer braking bumps. Details of all the trips are here on the site under the Courses tab above.

Trans Provence

First up are the February and March, 3 day Trans Provence skills breaks in the south of France based at Sospel. I’m running these with Ash, mastermind of the notoriously technical Trans Provence race. In September I’m off again to work as part of the mountain team for the TP race itself.

Basque country

Building on the success of last year’s Basque skills and guided riding holiday, I’m pleased to be collaborating with Doug from Basque MTB again in July this year. NW Spain is a lovely area with great, quiet trails. There is mountain, coast and forest there and the riding often has lovely views out to the Atlantic coast. The Basque country has a unique culture and my favourite part of that is the excellent food.

August sees a return to the south of France for my first collaboration with trailAddiction for a backcountry skills week in the Areches-Beaufort or ‘Destination X’ area of the French Alps.

Hopefully I’ll get a trip to Greece in the autumn as well after several journeys over there in the last couple of years. These trips have been for Greek mountain bikers so far, but there are plans in the pipeline for Greek riding holidays.

Maybe see you out there somewhere!