2012 - The Chinese year of the New Bike?

So, another week, another new bike.  Perhaps it's linked to the name Paul - Paul Brant having had at least three new bikes this year - but the long awaited new bike for Paul Baldwin surfaced on Thursday 1st November 2012.

Rumours of the retirement of the 27 year old Specialized Rockhopper had been circulating since the end of summer.   Bike specification has changed dramatically and now air fork, disc brakes and decent tyres adorn a gleaming white Giant XTC.

The new bike also helps clear up a naming convention problem.  Paul Brant joined the group first, so is know as Paul B.  We can't have two Paul B's, so I suggest from this day forward Paul Baldwin be known as Giant Paul.

The Hale boys ride Whinlater

Hoping to ride this week ....... if I can get my brakes to work again.  They decided that several days of total immersion in cumbrian mountain streams and mud was not conducive to effective braking of any kind.  Unfortunately if all came to a head (so to speak) half way down the Altura Trail (North Loop) at Whinlater.  Left Caroline in the cafe  whilst Hales x 3 paid our money and bravely set off on the 10km 1000 ft climb........and then is started snowing.  The climb was mostly single track had rock, shale, streams and stone and some of it on the edge of the mountian slope and some long slogs.  I took the opportunbity to admire the view and steady my legs whilst a few young bucks in baggies, lycra and  body armour breezed past me...I was in my baggy (ronhills).  But an amazing view from the top, looking way down at Derwent water and Bassenthawaite Lake (the only real Lake...bit of useless trivia for the pub quiz) and Keswick and mountaon tops dusted with snow.
On our way driving through the lakes a few days previous we had stopped at a few favourite bike shop/cafe haunts, and stumbled into the great 26" or 29" debate, there really is a polarisation of views, the purists swearing by the 26inch....with the shops pushing the 29" wheels (sorry 29ers)...rolls over everything, great on the trail, hairy on the tight twists of woodland. On our arrival at Whinlatter being one bike short we thought we'd better hire a third.  By this point I could sound vaguely knowledgeable and bowled up to the bike hut and said.."any 29ers"...oh yes they said, we have some demos..2013 models, hmm I thought, YES said Charlie, and we ended up slumming it on a Cube 2013  ams 120 pro  - full suspension AND 29 inch WHEELS. Yes me on nearly £2k worth of bike (would get our £30 back)...I didn't actually get much of a look in, infact hardly saw it at all as it was a good 500m in front of me most of the time, especially going up hill, and seemed to fly over the 'rollovers'(?). When I did get on it I couldn't believe the difference, just took every thing, including the climbs in its stride.  But that might be the full suspension.
Anyway it dawned on me why most people have disc brakes, going down a mountain side with spongy wet brakes, trying to scrub as much speed as possible while squeezing as hard as I could.  Charlie and Edward found it  amusing!  The brochure describes it as single track twists, turns, exhilarating descents with berms, jumps and some technical black sections...was all a blur to me.
Caroline deserves the endurance award for killing three hours with her mother in law whilst we managed to drag out a 1.5hr ride to 3 hrs!  Arriving back in the dusk....cafe shut.  Apparently you can do all three trails in 3 hrs.....don't think so.  So I now know that disc brakes are good, full suspension is brilliant, doing 29 is cool and adrenaline is brown.
Recommend the Whinlatter trail if you get the chance, plus I had no idea that there are so many bridleways over the lakeland mountains..old pack horse trails and excellent for MTBs
.http://www.youtube.com/v/MuZAMOh2am8&autoplay=1 for the last part of the decent or check out the cyclewise website