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Dan Clark | Riding Trips Tips

Hi guys. Dan here from Privateer bikes. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time out of the office in Finale Ligure and the surrounding hills. It was an amazing trip so I thought I would share some words of wisdom and hopefully you can have an incredible trip away in a riding destination of your choice.

One thing I will say is this trip was mostly pedal up assisted, and if I was going somewhere with access to a chairlift then I would certainly change a few things but hopefully this is still of to you guys. 

Distance: 168 miles/ 270KM  

Climbing: 11,611 Metres/38093.83 FT 

Time: 26.5 hours riding time  

Inner tube strapped to Privateer 141

Bike prep 

I would always recommend doing as much bike prep/checking as possible before you leave, bleed your brakes, swap out old brake pads for some fresh ones, certainly don't just pull it straight out of the shed and put it in a bike bag. It's likely you will have minimal tools, if you are traveling light, and avoiding bike shops in cycling tourist destinations is always ideal for your bank balance. Saying that I have been very grateful for their help when things have gone wrong. 

Before I left I replaced the chain, bottom bracket and chainring as I planned to do a ton of riding that would put the freshest of bikes through the wringer. By keeping all components as maintained as possible will ensure performance of the bike will stay firing on all cylinders at the end of the week, and not sounding like a bag of spanners. Fortunately for me I had no mechanical issues the whole week.

Bike Setup

When going on trips such as these, you generally go and ride more rugged, steep and wild terrain than most of us have on our doorstep or our local trail  centre, so making sure your setup is dependable is important. One thing I would highly recommend is using a thicker tyre carcass and also fitting an insert, Rimpact Original is my choice, if you don't run them already. This will reduce your chances of destroying your wheel and writing off a few days riding or even worse, the rest of the trip. Yes there is an initial price to pay on the way up but the security on the downs is way worth the extra effort.


Another thing to consider when travelling abroad to ride depending on the severity of your local trails is to raise the front end of your bike slightly. This can make the bike feel more controllable when things get a little steeper and inspire confidence when pushing your comfort zone. 

LITTLE AND OFTEN MAINTENANCE

I know jet washers are a godsend after a day of wet and muddy riding, but by no means are they the answer and are a sure fire way to make your bike feel rough as anything by the end of a solids week of riding, with all the grease in those bearings removed and replaced with grit and dirt. 

I know it takes a little longer but a hose/bucket and a light degreaser with some form of brush or sponge will get a better result than a jet washer and leaving your pivot bearings intact. There is some other maintenance I would highly recommend on the daily. With the dusty conditions that you can sometimes get there is a tendency to not re-lubricate chains and stanchions (on your forks and shock) after each ride as they look clean, however, this will reduce your bike's performance and also helps to develop those annoying squeaks.Another  reason for cleaning a bike in this manner is it is a lot easier to assess the bike for any damage or wear. Things like brake pad life and other bits that might have started to work themselves loose is a lot easier to notice by hand, instead of at the other end of 2 ft of high pressure water.

Final few tips: never put your bike away straight after washing make sure you dry the chain off with a rag to stop any rust or dirt build up. Also a bit of penetrating lubrication on bearing seals (be careful to avoid your brakes) keeps those bearings running smooth.

ACCOMMODATION

I know it sounds obvious but staying somewhere with a good level of amenities definitely does wonders after a long day on the bike. Saying that you do not need to break the bank to find accommodation that has a few mod cons. We got a week's accommodation in a little village in the valley down the road from some incredible trails for just £300 for the week. Spread over 2 or 3 guests it is a very small expense. Below is a list of a few things I would highly recommend. 

Wifi - In our pampered lives, being able to switch off in the evening’s after a big day on the bike and catch up on the World Cup action or chat to people back home. Saying that there is nothing wrong with a good book or magazine. One other big advantage to Wifi is access to sites like Trail Forks and Strava. This is where we did all the route planning for our trip which I will go into more details later. 

Outside water source - For reasons mentioned above, being able to rinse off degreaser or similar makes life a lot easier. Also if the heavens do open, being able to rinse the mud off kit before it goes in the washing machine will make your landlord very happy.  


Washing machine -
Some of us don’t have enough kit for a week's worth of riding or have to pack light to get through baggage allowance, for example. I know this is a chore that we very much try to avoid, but the feeling of fresh kit and slipping into some grotty shorts you have ridden for the last few days works wonders for your stroke levels. 


Kitchen/cooking -
Eating out in the mountain biking Mecca’s can be pretty pricey and a good way to save costs is to cook yourself. It can be a nice way to chill out in the evening when riding is done and is a sociable activity, but it does comes with a proviso. Make sure the kitchen is well stocked with utensils and isn’t too small. You won’t spend a lot of time here, but there is nothing worse then getting in each other's way trying to boil water on the hob to make some coffee, whilst someone else wants to use the same water to poach some eggs. 

Private space (share with up to 2 others) - These types of trips are always better with friends, but some of us like our privacy more than others and being able to chill out and do your own thing for a while is super important. Sleeping areas are always a good place to do this, but are hard when you are sharing in a bunk house or similar. Trying to keep a number of people to a room to 2-3 others quiet time is hard to come by. 

GPS

I would say this is one of the most useful things you bring on a riding trip (definitely alot less useful if you are riding at a bike park or similar), but being able to plan big days out on the road and still being able to check you are still on the right trail from a quick glance down keeps the flow going and the stoke high. I planned the entire week using a combination of Strava and Trailforks. 


Saying that we were only able to do this to such success down to the local support for MTBing in the Savona region in Italy. All trails were mapped with locals giving regular feedback on trail conditions adding useful info like water taps and most importantly the local coffee shops. In an area less well mapped a guided ride would definitely be something I would suggest but being able to plan a route and follow it is very satisfying to say the least. 


I hope you have enjoyed my little break down from my time away from the office and it is hopefully of use to you when you're planning your next adventure on your Privateer 141 or 161.  


Privateer Bikes

Dan Clark