I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out a very different form of cycling recently, a stretch from my normal fair but if it’s got pedals right?

Whilst on holiday in Miami I rode Carnival Cruise Lines SkyRide, their mid air bicycle experience built on their ship Vista. I also chatted to the guys behind building and running this incredible onboard attraction.

Ok so what is it? SkyRide is suspended cycling on a track. So imagine riding a recumbent that’s hanging from the ceiling.

The bikes are singlespeed, belt drive, and run in a box section track around the ship. For the most of the ride you are about 150ft above deck, and when you are above the water it’s even further! Pretty scary for someone who isn’t a fan of heights.

Anyway onto the ride! The track is relatively short but it is good fun for sure. Two people ride at once on the figure of eight shaped track so you end up passing under or over your co rider.

When one track dips down under the other you can pick up a fair bit of speed, great fun, but that can be scrubbed off with the onboard brakes. On the other hand when the track points upward you have to pedal to get back!

Despite being Vista being docked the views from the ship were phenomenal and I can only imagine how amazing riding SkyRide would be whilst sailing around the islands in the Caribbean.

The idea and design were created by the same guy and team that invented roller blades and the process wasn’t trouble free. As you appreciate this is a ride that has to be super safe, user friendly, able to withstand tough conditions, and fit multiple different body shapes. Not something your normal bike will do. Initial land based trials were flawless but when translated to ship thing weren’t always perfect, with traction issues due to damp salty environment and accelerated corrosion. The team over came these issues pretty quickly and were ready for customers, producing a pretty cool mix of engineering and cycling. The footfall of this ride in full swing is huge, with queues all day long.

If you are lucky enough to get the chance to cruise the Caribbean then see if you can take your trip onboard the Carnival Vista. Not just for the SkyRide obviously! But from what I have seen of the whole fun deck and ship, it’s an incredible place to be!

I reckon I’ll be adding cruises to my holiday shortlists from now on, especially if they continue to add such innovative ways of having fun!

Pirelli rubber coming to a road bike near you?

Pirelli seem to be jumping into the road bike world with their famous P-zero brand……. check out their VeloWorld here for more info.

Not happy with dominating all other forms of rubberised tyre contact sports, they will be looking to break into the road cycling circuit. From what I have read on the site it seems trials are already going on with product ready to launch to public in September.

One thing I do know is that they will have to be fast, the competition is pretty stiff. They will have that big name Italian brand image though, so even if they don’t get it right straight away they will still sell thousands. Italian road bike with the PZero name on it? Very very cool…….

Ventoux – a performance by 2magpies theatre

Theatre isn’t normally at the top of my list of weekend activities. Now that’s not because of a lack of interest, it’s a time thing. Plus, generally, in Bournemouth the only shows we get are pantomimes and sounds of the 50’s/60’s/70’s medleys, to get to any interesting shows you have to travel. So when I saw the performance of Ventoux pop up locally I thought it’s a great opportunity to see some people tread the boards…… and on a subject I’m partial to!

The ventoux poster artwork is very cool, matching the performance

Ventoux tells the story surrounding the eponymous stage of the year 2000 Tour de France. Mont Ventoux saw the showdown between Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani, they pushed the final climb together with them crossing the line in identical times but their career stories couldn’t have been more different.

I’m no theatre buff but I really enjoyed the construct of 2magpies show, the final moments of the race happen in the first half of the performance with the second half focusing on the huge personality differences of the two champions. 2magpies successfully convey they arrogance of Armstrong and the frailty of Pantani switching back and fourth with some great monologues, covering both back stories from their own and each others perspective, and their spiral into doping that eventually ended both of their careers. All this in an hour? yep it was pretty clever.

Pre show the performers warm up.

If you are a cycling or a theatre fan I suggest you check it out, its well worth it. The other massive surprise was the Shelley Theatre in Boscombe, what a great venue. The building is fantastic, they have a great bar area and the theatre itself is nice and intimate. I will definitely be looking to see more shows here. If you live in the Bournemouth area i suggest you look it up.

2Magpies are touring the UK with Ventoux and still have some performance relatively local to Bournemouth if you missed this one. Salisbury and Basingstoke being the closest, check them out HERE.

Snow biking on the Rossignol 7G

As my week with work in Val D’Isere draws to an end and I reflect upon some great challenges, conditions, and customer relations I couldn’t get the thought of a bike ride out of my head. Especially after seeing this in one of the ski hire shops:

This little beauty is an E-Fatbike. Now it’s obviously a publicity machine as Rossignol wouldn’t be the first manufacturer you would think of for a bicycle, but the ski equipment company did buy Felt bicycles earlier this year.

The 7G FAT-BIKE as it is know is a do it all mountain machine. Read French? Click here for the spec list. What I can tell you is that it’s a two wheel drive, 4″ tyred, xt equipped, disc braked bundle of fun.

It handles a little barge like but that’s down to the double motors, as soon as you stop pedalling (or wind down the level of pedal assist) it handles more traditionally. It’s not light, but what ebikes are? But I did manage to pop it off the ground occasionally.

The brakes were more than powerful enough to lock the wheels and had good modulation, which was very handy when pulling up on snow and ice! The gearing comes from shimanos stable and was faultless so no issues there, not that you really need gears with the pedal assist whacked up to full power! The bike will hold a steady 19mph, which is 4.5mph faster than uk law allows, and that’s quite impressive. Although on tarmac it sounds like you are driving a tractor! The assist feels pretty natural and you can adjust from ‘just enough to make the bike go’ to ‘completely effortless’.

The 7G struggled in the late season snow conditions, they were super slushy. This could have been down to high tyre pressures and too much pedal assist, I just seemed to wheel spin. It could also be my more than aggressive riding style though, too high a gear and too hard a pedal stomps. I would like to try it again with a little more time on my hands, and firmer snow conditions. Hey why not throw a summer test up the ski runs as well?

As fat bikes (and ebikes) go the 7G is pretty sleek, the battery is integrated into the frame and the hub motors are quite small. It doesn’t have that ebike look about it, just a chunky alloy frame style. Graphics are pretty sedate though, but like I said it’s made for publicity.

Would I go out and buy one? If I lived in a ski resort? Without doubt. You would get some great winter training in. I can now see the appeal of fat bikes, they have a great ‘go anywhere’ feel, even if you do look like John Wayne when you are riding them! I’d like to try a lightweight non ebike version to see how they compare, just to see if the assist is the reason it was so much fun!

Here are some more shots of the 7G!

Ventoux comes to Shelley Theatre

The thrilling story that led to the Pantani vs Armstrong battle in 2000 comes to the the stage in the show Ventoux thanks to 2Magpies theatre, and we are lucky enough to have a screening here in Bournemouth.

The show will be at the Shelley Theatre in Boscombe, tickets are selling fast. I have mine, and if you want some you better be fast!

Check out the website here: Shelley Theatre


RideBike demo day

Lower Parkstone based Ride have a demo day coming up shortly, on test they will have bikes from Whyte , Santa Cruz, and Trek, and clothing from Endura. Sounds like a good night! Especially seeing as it’s based at a pub!

Now just got to figure that time off at work……..

More Columbus build stuff

As much as your lbs may hate it, eBay is a top place to pick up parts and for someone like me rebuilding old crap it’s a veritable gold mine.

With my plans to change this bike to an 8 speed, having already purchased the cassette, I needed a mech to suit. eBay sorted me out with a 90s/00s Athena derailleur for under £15. Bargain.

The logo is all but gone, the jockey wheels are shot, and it feels like it’s been ridden in the sea but I’m confident it will be fine! There’s no play in the pivots and all bolts and threads are good. Time for a strip down.

Well, that was surprisingly easy! Have sprayed with releasing fluid and left to soak overnight. Have ordered new Acor aluminium sealed bearing jockey wheels and plan to polish the whole thing up, should be a thing of beauty. I will also have my pillar drill back soon…… maybe play a bit of drillium with it!

Also popping through the post via eBay were the decals I have planned. Wanting to go understated I opted for standard Columbus and Aelle decals.

Gonna be a great, subtle build.

Next step was to convert that rear hub to 8 speed. The Miche SuperFast hubs I have are only setup for 6 speed and the rear axle is slightly too short. Have a new rear 8 speed axle in spares and have swapped it over, yes this means that the rear wheel will be slightly dished out of place.

The box of derailleur parts have had a good soak and were ready for a good scrub. Bearings, axles, seals, and skewers ready to go back in the wheels. 

Rear wheel sits in the frame fine, original OLD was 126mm and new spacing is 130mm for the 8 speed freewheel. Had to slightly stretch out the dropouts to fit, I’m talking only slightly, but it’s in and runs sweet. I have dished the wheel to the right but as I don’t have a truing stand yet I haven’t got the ability to play with it properly. I think there will be a slight skew on the wheel and brake to start with but I’d like the wheel to settle first and then reassess it.

Pulled all the mech parts out and gave them a clean as well, so it’s all ready to go back together as soon as the jockey wheels turn up.

Plenty more to do!