I fitted a new 11-46 tooth 10 speed cassette to the Trek Fuel EX8 so I’m now ready for a winter of mountain biking, whatever the weather throws at me. The only part which I still need to renew is the bottom bracket, which is an easy job. It was good to have a new transmission for today’s ride since I’ve already replaced the chain and chain ring. I was surprised by the need to buy these components since I replaced them at the end of October last year. How many times did I ride the bike before everything was worn out? 30? 40? This may be because I bought inexpensive copies of the parts made by Shimano and SRAM but let’s face it, I could easily have spent more than twice the money on the parts so despite the low life expectancy of cheap parts I’ m probably still saving money.The down side of budget components is that they will probably never function as well as expensive parts. Today, though, the gears were changing first click, a situation which might not continue for as long as I’d truly like.
In the last week we’ve had a sudden drop from the unexpectedly high temperatures in October. We’ve also had plenty of rain so I knew my ride would be muddy. For the last time until next spring, barring an unusually dry period in the winter, I rode to Brinscall Woods for the downhill which, in drier conditions, is my absolute favourite.
The 29″ wheels of the Trek, which are the biggest diameter currently available for mountain bikes, coped very well on a couple of rocky climbs. They skip over the stones much more easily than smaller wheels and it certainly saves energy.
The downhill was rideable but very wet. In places I had little control and just had to hang on and hope. I slipped on some slimey rocks and ground to a halt at one point but other than that had a bit of fun. Returning over the purpose built trails of Healey Nab I made sure to keep the effort up for training purposes. I kept the bike in a higher gear up some climbs to work my leg muscles harder. At the top of the hill the rain came down in earnest but I didn’t really notice how wet I was until I reached home. It was well worth getting muddy and soaked for a good ride with some real training value.