New bike day
I very recently picked up my new mountain bike from Hart's Cyclery in Edinburgh. I had my first day on it this weekend. There is a little background story that goes with this bike so here goes...
I originally bought a bike in early December, the same make and model as the one I have just acquired. I went to collect it on a Friday night after work. I was so excited. It was the first bike I'd bought in a while. Something I choose to ride, something I really wanted to ride.
Being a young, Trainee Solicitor I'm not making the big bucks so I had to beg, borrow and steal, well not steal but you get the jist of what it took to get this bike together.
I collected the bike, which at the time was one of 6 left from the first shipment coming to Europe from the manufacturer. I put it in the back of the van and drove it home. I checked everything over and put it in a garage, safe for the night. My intention was to ride it during that weekend but sometimes life gets in the way and I wasn't able to ride. Handily, I'd booked annual leave for the Monday so earmarked that for the maiden voyage, December 4th 2017.
Tragically, in the early hours of the 4th my new bike was stolen from the garage it was being kept in. Gone in the night and I hadn't even had a chance to ride it. I was absolutely heartbroken. Having bikes (or anything else) stolen is never pleasant but it's made worse if you've just picked it up and you haven't even had the tyres on dirt.
Thankfully my insurance covered the bike but the process has been long and I've only now been able to get a replacement. This time there was only 1 left from that shipment I mentioned earlier and I immediately put my name to it.
This time I made sure I wouldn't wait another minute to ride the bike on my favourite Innerleithen trails. It was damp, cold and dreich but my god... what a machine! The bike is everything I'd hoped it would be and it's currently just out the box. No special components, no modifications, just bone stock. It really is an impressive piece of equipment and all for under £3,000 which in mountain biking terms is relatively cheap.
So sit back, relax and share in my unbridled joy as I finally get to ride the bike I'd always dreamed of owning.
Can you tell what it is? Comment with your guesses. All will be revealed soon.
Pole EVOLINK 140 bike check
Thomas rides a size large Pole EVOLINK 140. Unlike a lot of EVOLINK 140 riders, Thomas chooses to run a 150mm fork as opposed to the longer travel 160 mm option many prefer. The 510mm reach of the size large suits Thomas' 6ft 3' frame well when paired with a 50mm stem and a Works Components reach adjust headset which gives him an extra 5mm reach over the standard headset.
The ability to fit a water bottle inside the frame is vital for Thomas. When racing he is able to go without a backpack meaning he can focus on his riding more. Thomas runs a 170mm RockShox reverb seat post. Thomas's personal sponsor, Ergon provide an SME3 saddle for long days out on the bike.
Thomas has been a long time user of CrankBrothers products having been sponsored by them since 2015. He runs the Mallet E model over the Mallet DH model. Thomas says he prefers the smaller profile of the E pedals and the shorter spindle length. Thomas runs his cleats in the 15 degree release angle. Thomas runs the seat post lever on the left hand side, under his handlebar. He uses grip tape to ensure he never misses the remote.
Thomas does not have sponsorship for drive train or brakes so he is able to mix and match the parts he uses. He runs a Shimano XT 11 speed cassette, old style 170mm XT cranks and an SLX shifter. Thomas runs an SLX shifer because it only allows one shift at a time. Whereas more expensive Shimano shifters allow multiple shifts with one click, Thomas says the SLX shifter allows him to always keep track of which gear he is in, a tip he learned when reading about MTB legend Brian Lopes' bike set up many years ago. Thomas uses Ergon's GA2 grips, preferring them over the more popular GE1 model. Thomas also runs his brake levers almost flat, he tried this to help combat weight distribution on the steep terrain of his home trails and he's stuck with it ever since. His brakes are SRAM Guide GE, E - Bike brakes which have 4, large, over sized pistons. They help keep the speed of his EVOLINK in check when paired with 203mm rotors.
Thomas' bike is prepared and maintained by Fall Line Cycles in Peebles. The mechanics there, Nic Jenkins and Nick Tanner both know how hard Thomas is on his bike so he tends to run a coil shock with a 650Ibs spring. But Thomas also enjoys how the EVOLINK feels with the standard RockShox Monarch air shock so swaps between both shocks during the season.
You can pre-order your own EVOLINK 140 frame now from Pole Bicycles right here. Although we can't promise you it'll make you as fast as Thomas.
EWS Rd 7, Whistler, Canada. Stages 2,3 and 4 practice
I have been training on stages 2, 3 and 4 of the EWS out here in Whistler, Canada. The trails here are so rough. It has been really difficult to just hold on to the handlebars. It will be a battle to hold on tomorrow.
We made it to Whistler! Me and Niamh have been hitting up laps of the bike park. We loved riding B Line and I even gave A Line a go which was fun, although easy to overshoot the jumps. It is hot and dusty and the park is so rough! But we're having a blast nonetheless. I unfortunately snapped my axle on Crank It Up and hit the ground hard. I'm really sore but fighting through it. The Pole is in a local shop getting fixed and hopefully it'll be sweet for racing. Fingers crossed
Canada Rough Cuts Ep3
I've been in Squamish a few days now and I'm really enjoying the riding here. I did plan on doing a few uplift runs, however these plans were scuppered as the air quality is so poor. There are forest fires raging north in Kamloops and smoke is blowing down and into Squamish. The air quality has taken a turn for the worse and there are not very many people out on the trails. The evenings are happily a little better, I met up with fellow Pole ambassador, Adam Price, who lives out here in Squamish. He's super quick and showed me some cool turns. We hit turn after turn until the sun went down. Another day ticked off in paradise.
Episode 2 of Canada Rough Cuts takes place in the tranquil forests of Squamish, BC. This is the first time I've ridden my bike in a few weeks and it is also my first time riding in Canada. What a day! It was hot out there but I got some good exploring in and rode some cool trails. Small mishap attempting to launch a gap but these things happen when you are excited sometimes. Enjoy!
As some of you may have noticed, I am in Canada! I'm out here for the Enduro World Series and to ride all the best that BC (British Columbia) has to offer. Me and my Pole EVOLINK 140 made it safely across the Atlantic traveling in the finest of luxury on British Airways, as you do. Pole asked me to document my trip so I have decided to do a few "rough cut" edits following me on my journey from the big city of Vancouver to the quiet forests of Squamish. So join me on my adventure through "the most beautiful country in the world" (apart from Scotland, of course.
That's me just back from round 3 of the Scottish Enduro Series in Dunoon. Dunoon is always a good venue and the trails there are super challenging. After a quick practice lap, I knew this race would be a wild ride. Stage 3 was fresh cut goodness and did what all good fresh cut stages do before racing, it became very, very, very difficult to ride. But we're a hardy bunch us enduro racers and complaints were at a minimum.
I came into this race with only one real objective, to finish it. I have suffered some bad luck at the races recently and I was keen to simply get a race finished. Practice was pretty uneventful apart from the midges. They tried to eat me and almost succeeded. We're all lucky I'm still here to tell the tale. They were vicious. I used my GoPro to capture all the stages. This is a new thing for me. I don't usually film the trails because I'm not normally one for using technology. I like to keep things "old school" when I can but I do recognise the benefits technology can have in our everyday lives. So I've made the move to filming all stages and studying them the night before the race to help me remember lines, or in some cases, spot new ones. I have included a little video which gives a flavour of the riding in Dunoon.
As far as the race goes, I didn't have the best of times. The cool thing about Dunoon is stage 1 is a mini prologue through the heart of the town. It is always nail biting but super fun. Unfortunately I had a bit of a stall and was already on the back foot loosing 5 seconds on a stage less than a minute long. The "proper" stages were up and down. I had a pretty good stage 2 which was flat-out open clear-fell. Scary fast!
Stage 3 is where things turned. I ploughed into the first turn and got caught in the rut and was pitched me over the bars. My gloves had mud all over them and I tried to continue but I had another over the bars firing me into a rather large puddle further down the stage. It was sad times and I lost over 1 minute on this stage alone. I knew at this point my race was pretty much over but I kept battling on.
Stage 4 I was keen to put the tribulations of 3 behind me and I was going well until some sniper roots got the better of me and I went down, hitting my face and tweaking my shoulder in the process. Despite this my spirits were still high and riding round with all the Elite guys was great fun. Stages 5 and 6 were ticked off without incident and I was pleased to get some good riding in. Stage 6 was one of the more terrifying things I've ridden as of late. You can see in the video just how gnarly some of it was.
All in all a fun although slightly trying weekend. Huge props to the No Fuss team who run these events. The Scottish Enduro Series has a perfect balance of grass roots feel with world class competition. The level is so high right now at these races and its always hard to compete with top level athletes but I love these races and will keep trying to improve.
Big thanks to Fall Line Cycles for getting my EVOLINK 140 feeling like new and The Drop Suspension for dialling in the shocks. I have a small break now but will put that time to good use with lots of post work rides and maybe even a few roadie spins.
Till next time!
Leo (Pole CEO) has made the trip over to Scotland to visit new Pole ambassador, Thomas Mitchell. He will also be competing in the up coming Tweedlove International race along with Thomas this weekend. Leo is quickly getting to grips with the famous trails which litter the Tweed Valley. Both Thomas and Leo are riding Pole EVOLINK 140's but they each have very different set ups. Racing kicks off on Sunday so stay tuned to find out how they get on.
Thomas Mitchell signs with Pole Bicycles
Tweed Valley pinner, Thomas Mitchell, has signed with radical Finnish bike manufacturer, Pole Bicycles. Famous for their unique take on mountain bike geometry and sizing philosophy, Pole have made significant waves in the MTB industry with glowing reviews of their flagship bike, the EVOLINK 140.
As soon as Thomas first tested the bike, he knew it was something special, “Being one of the taller guys in the Enduro scene, I have struggled to find a bike which works for me in terms of sizing. I would go so far as to say that I have never had a bike, which fitted me properly, that is, until I tested the EVOLINK 140. Immediately, I felt right at home and I can’t wait to get racing.”
Pole Founder and designer of the EVOLINK, Leo Kokkonen said, “We’re really excited to have Thomas join the Pole team. I look forward to seeing what he can do with the benefits that our bikes will bring.”
Thomas will be piloting his EVOLINK 140 at the No Fuss Scottish Enduro Series and select rounds of the Enduro World Series along with additional selected events throughout the year.
Thomas is proudly supported by Troy Lee Designs, Fall Line Cycles, The Drop Suspension, CrankBrothers, Ergon, Orange Seal and Cycle Law Scotland.
You can follow all his adventures at @tfmracing on Facebook and @thomasmitchellofficial on Instagram.