DIY Skibike - Rear Ski Anti-Dive Link

Posted: Thursday, 29 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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When you ride on soft unprepared snow, the rear ski will have a tendency to tip down at the front. If nothing stops this from happening, it will eventually dig in even further stop and jack up the rear suspension. I like to call this diving or submarining, some Americans prefer to call it post-holing.
Certain commercial skibike manufacturers have a mechanical stop to restrict this excessive downward tipping movement, whilst others incorporate a link between the rear ski and the frame. DIY skibike builders often favour this approach too and link from the rear ski tip to a point on the frame somewhere near the bottom bracket. Bungee cord is a popular choice, in my case I used some galvanised chain, mainly because I already had plenty in stock.


DIY SkiBike - Anti-dive safety chain


Recently, I spotted this rigging steel designed to act as a secondary mechanical link for wall mounted plasma screens from CPC Farnell for under £5. It is certified to take a load of 100 Kg, which is more than the combined weight of both myself and the skibike. It should look a bit neater and more professional, than my original artisanal skibike solution.

DIY SkiBike - Rigging steel

DIY Skibike - Foot Ski Carry Bag

Posted: Tuesday, 27 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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I am always working on better ways to organise my skibike kit, exciting it might not be, but to have everything packed into modular kits is so very useful when the time comes to head out. For example, I have recently started to pack knee and wrist braces in the same bag that contains my ski boots.
Foot skis have been a pain as they end up sliding around the boot of the car on a mission to scratch or chip the paint off anything in their path. I dread to think of the injury these sorts of objects would do unrestrained, in the event of an accident.
There are some very well crafted bags by Salomon made for transporting their SnowBlades, but they are expensive and too long for shorter footskis.
In a rare moment of lucidity, I realised that I had some plumbing tools stored in just the right sized bag. 

Canvas tool bag - perfect size for footskis

You can find this sort of bag on-line from under £10 from a huge choice of suppliers, they are normally described as "Canvas tool bags". The ideal dimensions seem to be around 60cm x 16cm x 16cm which would be 24" x 6" x 6" in Imperial.

DIY Skibike - Carl's Super Cool Ride

Posted: Friday, 23 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Congratulations to Carl Day who has just completed his DaBomb based skibike conversion, last mentioned on the SkiBiker SkiBike Blog here

DIY SkiBike - Ready for testing

He has incorporated a very cheeky and cool Dirty Dog Reaper Stem, more are available from Chain Reaction Cycles if you fancy one for your skibike.

Dirty Dog Reaper Stem - cheeky

Lastly, if you didn't spot it, the title of this post is a quote from the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare and if you can bear a little high culture, here's a great clip with Kenneth Branagh:

DIY Skibike - Foot Skis Mk2 Version

Posted: by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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The first pair of footskis I made a couple of years ago have definitely seen better days. After roughly 8 weeks of use, the bases look like a grizzly bear has been chewing at them. Ric Platt commented on their excessive weight, which I blame on a very heavy turntable binding design at the rear.
In the early Autumn, whilst prices were lowest, I was able to source a pair of new old stock (NOS) Tyrolia 190D bindings from eBay. I don't know a huge amount about bindings, but the truth of the matter is that they were cheap and matched the colour of the skis they were to be mounted to.

Installation was remarkably straightforward. Both bindings required just 4 self tapping screws each. One nifty feature of the rear binding is that both it and the safety brake ride on a shared rail. This made the installation very straightforward, once the rail was secured you could slide the other components into place. A locking track allows for an inch of fore / aft adjustment for different boots.

New footskis - matching bindings, nice

The only disadvantage I failed to spot, is that it requires an inch or two of ski behind the heel mounting point. Most commercial footskis designs have very little ski behind the heel, this makes it easy to dig your heels in when stationery which works much like the handbrake on a car. It is about the coolest thing you can do on footskis.

The skis I used were my original skis from the 90s, cut down for my first DIY skibike outings and now cut down further still. Who would have thought skibiking could be so green?

Salle De Fartage - Repairing Dry Ski Slope Damage

Posted: Thursday, 22 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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On my last trip to a dry ski slope I managed to melt the bases of my SnowBlades. I had been warned about the potential for damage but had never experienced it before. It still shouldn't have happened, if the slope had been lubricated with water spray as intended, damage would have been much less likely.
Annoyingly, I had deliberately over waxed my SnowBlades as a precaution; for the first hour the ride was buttery. But the last few runs felt progressively stickier and more weird. The SnowBlade edges were hot to the touch when I removed them, the edges had melted the P-Tex layer, leaving narrow but deep, scores right down to the base.

Dry ski slope damage - see arrow

In the past such a repair would have been beyond the scope of home maintenance; the only tool available being a P-Tex repair candle. However nowadays you can buy P-Tex in strip form designed to be melted with a hot implement, such as a soldering iron, to fill deep gouges, etc. in one step.

Damage filled in ready for levelling

After removing all traces of wax, it was a relatively simple job to melt in the repair material. Next came some work with a rough and medium metal file to level off. For surface finishing I used my new favourite Sandivik tool with progressive grades of production sandpaper from 80 through to 180 grit.

The finished appearance was very good, you would struggle to see the repaired area as the colour match is perfect. The whole process must have taken me about 3 hours from start to finish. Only time will tell how well the repair lasts, but first impressions are good, the surface feeling as hard as the one it has replaced.

DIY Skibike Servicing - Ski Repairs

Posted: Wednesday, 21 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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It is too long and boring a story to explain how I got into this situation, rather than use screws to mount my skis to their adapters, I had installed recessed T-Nuts into the base. T-Nuts are used in pa speakers to hold the drivers to the baffle board. You can't fault their strength, they are immensely strong, but pretty they are not. I had previously used the last of my stock of repair candles to fill in the holes, but it didn't last well as the resulting surface was brittle and waxy.

I have been keen to try out a new type of repair strip sourced from JibTuning which melt into place with the heat from a soldering iron or similar hot implement. The main advantage is that the resulting repair is supposed to be as good as the original surface, plus you can fill deep gouges in a single pass, rather than having to build up layers.

T-Nuts installed in ski core

For someone who has made a lot of microphone leads over the last 20 years, the soldering iron is a familiar tool, but I would suggest you don't use your best one for this job, as it will spoil the tip. I used an old 25 Watt version and it worked well enough, they can be bought on-line for under $5 these days. Of course there are also purpose made tools for this job geared towards the professional user.

P-Tex repair strips - bases filled

Once the surface has been filled it needs to be left for an hour or so to cool, after which you can level off with a metal file. Fine finishing can be accomplished with production sandpaper, I have previously used a cork block with the sandpaper. On this occasion I tried out a Sandvik Sandplate recently donated when a neighbour cleared their garage. Unfortunately this product is now discontinued but the similar NT Cutter Plate is available in the USA from here. I found that sandpaper could be wrapped around the Sandplate and made for quick work levelling the repairs.

Sandvik sandplate - sadly now discontinued

Time will tell how long this fix will last against rocks and other obstacles I seem to have a knack for running over (usually sideways), but initial impressions are that the repair is much stronger than the old candle based system.

DIY Skibike - Building Some Skibike Stuff

Posted: Monday, 19 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Today has been great, having recently completed all my outstanding work chores, it's now time to start building stuff. I can't explain exactly how it works, it doesn't matter what I build or repair, it all makes me terrifically happy.

For a while now, I've been wanting to built a proper rig for servicing my skibike skis. It would need to have a couple of clamps to hold the ski securely in place, but also still have plenty of clearance for the adapters.
Attacking my scrap wood pile with a vengeance I came up with this arrangement.

SkiBike work bench - here we go

It will probably seem very heavy duty and you wouldn't be wrong. But the high inertia will help a lot when scraping or filing down; the vintage drawers it sits on may need a little extra bracing though. Whilst on a roll, I set up some strong overhead lighting, all the better to be able to spot damage and imperfections.

I can't wait to get started now.

Snowflex - The AstroTurf of Skiing

Posted: by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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I wanted to share this video with you about Snowflex an artificial snow surfacing product, invented and manufactured by Briton Engineering Developments Ltd of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire in the UK.

It is a pleasant novelty to see anything ski related produced the USA featuring the UK and the English pioneers of dry slope skiing technology.

Building LenzSport Custom Frames

Posted: Sunday, 18 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Reinhart Blasig recommended this excellent video showing the many processes involved in creating the frame for LenzSport skibikes and mountain bikes. When you see the level of craftsmanship and detail that goes into the creation of a LenzSport skibike it gives you a better appreciation of just why they cost so much.

The £100 Canadian DIY SkiBike Sale

Posted: Saturday, 17 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,
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Andreas Moser is making the news in Calgary Canada with his ghetto style diy skibike conversions, which he is offering on PinkBike for 150 Canadian Dollars, the equivalent of just under £100 in the UK.
An avid cyclist, Andreas Moser says he was looking for a new way to get on a bike year-round when he stumbled on the idea of making a ski-bike.

“I’d seen it done before and didn’t want to spend any money on it, so I just took old parts and came up with a really good plan, and they work amazing,”
 Read more here

First run of the season on the new skibikes - source Andreas Moser

Winter Driving Techniques

Posted: Friday, 16 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Here in the UK, we've been having some proper winter weather this week. So I thought today I would share this handy primer on coping with driving in the snow. One thought I would add, is that when mixing screen wash solution for use in the mountains, you will often need a 50/50 mix of concentrate and water to prevent icing up. You should also carry some spare screen wash in a hand spray dispenser, that way if your resevoir freezes, you still have some liquid solution to apply by hand.


Useful tips for Cycling in the snow

Posted: Wednesday, 14 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels:
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Some sagely advice by

• The more tread on your tyres, the better. You can ride in snow on slicks, but I wouldn't choose to. If you have a mountain bike, with chunky off-road treads, this is the day for it.

• Let some air out of your tyres, whatever sort they are. Ride them soft: you'll get more grip.

• It's natural, when you're a bit anxious about conditions, to ride leaning forward and tense, with your hands on the brakes. But try to relax the hands and arms, and keep your weight back.

• As in any slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), do your braking early and as much as possible in a straight line. Definitely only use the front brake in this way; otherwise, use the back brake more. And you can also use the back brake to test the amount of adhesion you have.

• Try to steer "with your hips" rather than your hands: in other words, make directional changes progressively and with your whole mass on the bike, rather than by sudden sharp steering inputs at the handlebars.

• As snow gets grooved by car tyres and refreezes, you can encounter rutted tracks and momentary "tramlining" effects. Deal with this by allowing the front wheel of the bike to go where it wants; again, keep your weight back, stay relaxed and don't be too ambitious about your speed.

• Mostly, on British roads, the snow is cleared or turns to slush quickly, but beware of transitions from snowy side streets to clear roads: this is where you're most likely to encounter ice or tricky ruts.

• I generally ride around town with some sort of hat, rather than a helmet. But in the snow, I'll wear a helmet – there's just a little more likelihood of a slip. Most likely, it would be slow-speed and harmless, but I'd factor in the extra risk by wearing a helmet.

• Unless you have mudguards (with good clearance!), wear old clothes: that slimy black slush is perplexingly indelible and a dirty stripe up your arse is not a good look in the office.

• The most dangerous time, as with any analogous activity (skiing, skating, downhill mountainbiking etc), is when you get over-confident. The day I got a little cocky on the back roads in the Green Mountain State, I found myself sliding down the road on my butt. So hey, what do I know?

Read more here

New Firem VS model skibike for the 2011-12 season

Posted: Monday, 12 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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French skibike builder Firem VS have recently rationalised their offering and are producing only two models of skibike, namely the boutique VS 411 and the new VS 512 "all mountain" machine.

As a direct result of consumer feedback for a smaller, lighter skibike. Firem have evolved their original kid sized skibike chassis to become an adult design that is considerably lighter, more compact and manageable than the Evolution model it replaces.
But is the VS 512 skibike an overgrown child's toy, or a serious all mountain machine? I was able to view the prototype in July 2011, construction and finish were up to typical Firem standards and in a different league to certain traditional manufacturers products. But not only was it robust it had a number of unique, innovative and useful features.

The VS 512 skibike is designed to disassemble in two pieces for easy transportation in the boot of a car or to fit into the type of mini gondola lift found throughout Europe. This should keep the lifties happy that your skibike is not going to trash the cabin interior. Separating the two halves is a tool free operation requiring a few twists of 2 quick release handles, both halves of the frame can then be parted. When you travel, it can be safe and secure out of sight in the boot of the car, not sitting on the roof.

Another novel feature is a releasable ant-dive lock on the rear ski. In normal operation the travel of the rear ski is limited to prevent diving into soft snow. This feature can be unlocked, then the skibike can be tipped vertically on its rear ski for loading into a cable car and taking up little more space than a snowboard.

The skibike incorporates the Firem design of rear ski brake, which remains a subject of much heated discussion whenever skibikers get the chance. Much like Marmite it is something you will either love or hate.

The saddle features very simple up/down adjustment for riders of different heights.

The total weight of the VS 512 is approximately 11kg, which is probably still a couple of kilos over the ideal, but represents a 30% weight reduction on the outgoing model it replaces.

Firem vs512 skibike - smaller, lighter and more manageable
The price is listed at 1500 Euros which is equivalent (at the time of writing) to $2000 or £1280. The first production model hit the snow at Grand Bornand last Saturday for testing by ski tech Jef who also provided a lot of input into the new models design.
I should be heading out to the French Alps in the new year and look forward to testing it too.

What A Difference A Week Makes

Posted: Friday, 9 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,
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Following on from a weekend of new snowfall, fresh snow continued to fall across the vast majority of Europe earlier this week. The snowfall was heaviest in the western Alps but even further east in the Dolomites fresh snow fell. The Pyrenees have unfortunately not received much fresh snow this week.

The amount of new snow that did fall in the Alps, and the duration exceeded many expectations with resorts such as Tignes and Val d'lsere on France reporting almost a metre of new snow in places. Lech and Zurs in Austria enjoyed a tremendous 40cm of snowfall on 7th December alone. The timing of this dump has been great news for snow-sports enthusiasts and will hopefully set a good foundation for things to come. The sunshine returned on Thursday 8th December, creating superb riding conditions across Europe. read more

Before
After

Fr-X Bike - Dead or Alive?

Posted: Thursday, 8 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Fr-X Bike, is the Gallic outlet for Matt Hanson's Alpine SkiBikes conversion kits. Sadly the website seems to have grown a lot of weeds since 2008 and I thought that it was dead in the water.
I filled in a mail form expecting there to be no reply, but to my surprise one arrived about a week later.


Matthieu Hensinger has been working since 2005 trying to develop skibiking in France. Not only has he been selling diy conversion kits, but he has also taken to the road in a van equipped with demo skibikes; making videos, photos and interviews with more than 2000 people he met along the way.

As will be familiar to many, lots of French ski resorts are scared but such activities, many can't or don't want to give official authorisations, even when provided with the correct certifications and copies of agreements.

Unfortunately other work commitments have taken up progressively more of his time, but he promises some new items on offer for the 2011-12 season.

Matthieu Hensinger and Camille Lepley in their shop

Where to SkiBike - Avoriaz and Morzine, France

Posted: Tuesday, 6 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Avoriaz now hires out SnowScoots and as of the 2010-11 season have opened up the lift system to them, which seems to have opened up the area to skibikes as well. The main rule seems to be that you wear some form of leash between yourself and your skibike.
Access is limited to certain facilities, which in practice means chair lifts only (of which there are plenty).
Note: I recommend you contact the resort and check for the latest information and mark up a copy of the piste map, so as not to get stranded without suitable uplift.

Yours Truly in Avoriaz
 The skibike friendly atmosphere extends to neighboring Morzine, which is understandable given Morzine's popularity as a Mountain Bike venue during the summer season. it has some excellent begginer and intermediate terrain and is well worh a visit. Sadly, the atmosphere is decidedly chilly in Les Gets, the next link in the chain, where institutionalised bigotry bans the use of skibikes. Therefore it is best to steer clear of Les Gets and spend your money elsewhere.

Although there is plenty of ground to cover in Avoriaz and Morzine, experienced skibikers might feel a little hemmed in after a few days. I heartily recommend having access to a car, as there are a number of interesting skibike friendly areas within 30 minutes to an hours drive, such as; Flaine, Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz and Les Contamines. Day trips to Geneva, for chocolate lovers or Chamonix to view the Mont Blanc and its Glaciers are non-skibiking alternatives.

Where to Skibike - Arlberg, Austria

Posted: Saturday, 3 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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SkiBike Pegging is definitely ( as of 2010 ) allowed in Saalbach, Hinterglemm, Leogang, and St Anton and all its surrounding interconnected resorts. Some such as St Anton do not allow the skibikes on Poma lifts but most Austrian resorts are now almost entirely chairlift based apart from the very upper lifts on the edge of the resorts.

St. Anton - The Patron Saint of the SkiBiker

Like many Austrian resorts Saalbach-Hinterglemm has a pretty, traditional-style village and very lively nightlife, but unlike many it combines this with a very extensive circuit of slopes on both sides of a valley, and runs are linked by an efficient modern lift system. Its slopes resemble a French resort more than a traditional Austrian one - with the added advantage of excellent traditional mountain restaurants dotted around.
The main downside is the snow. Although it has impressive snowmaking, one side of the valley faces south and these slopes, especially the lower ones, deteriorate quickly in good weather.
Saalbach's après-ski is very lively - and can get rowdy - and is dominated by Scandinavian and German visitors. It rocks from 3pm until the early hours non-stop.

The Arlberg ski resort encompasses approx. 50 km² (including the off-run areas) and extends over 1,500 m of altitude up to the Valluga peak at 2,811 m.
More than 280 km of perfectly groomed slopes await you. In addition, skiers can choose between 180 km of powder stashes and corn snow slopes. The longest downhill run (8.5 km) with a vertical drop of 1,350 m leads from the Valluga mountain via the Ulmer mountain lodge to St. Anton am Arlberg.

Where to SkiBike - Vallnord, Andorra

Posted: Thursday, 1 December 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,
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Andorra is divided into two domains; GrandValira and Vallnord. Luckily Vallnord is skibike friendly and includes the resorts of; Arinsal, Pal and nearby Arcalis. Brenter have an agent nearby and the lifties were generally unfussed about skibikes. In Arcalis, the head of operations had a fit about leashes and insisted they were worn at all times, he also had words with a local on a K-trax caterpillar type skibike conversion and told him to get off the mountain. His subordinates then apologised for his attitude once he had gone!

The snow was good mainly due to the altitude, there was a good mixed bag of runs, some tree lined and off-piste too. Prices were reasonable for lift passes and accommodation. The whole attitude was friendly, unpretencious and customer focussed, probably close to reports I've heard about Canada and the USA.

The Pyrenees can suffer due to their proximity to the warm Atlantic winds, so freeze/thaw cycles and wet snow are supposed to be common, but not in my experience.
It is a awkward area to reach, there is no airport in Andorra so you need to get up from Barcelona, Tarbes or Toulouse airports. I drove there from London, its a hell of a long drive on your own and not cheap on petrol or tolls, especially as a single traveller. At a push it can be done in a very long day.
Interestingly there are also some skibike friendly areas on the French side of the Pyrenees near Lourdes.

Where To SkiBike In Europe? - The Holy Grail

Posted: Wednesday, 30 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,
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A novice pegger SkiBiker has been thrashing around recently trying to find somewhere in Europe to go skibiking on his diy pegger skibike and not an old school ski bob.
As he put it:
It can be really confusing who allows Skibiking and who don't, then if you find a resort that allows them then you've got to find out if they allow peggers!
Last thing I want to do is turn up at a resort then not be allowed to ride.
Wish there was a definitive list of resorts in Europe that allow peggers.. "would be like the Holy Grail"
Even in the States and Canada this can be a minefield with resorts switching policies from season to season and following the whims and prejudices of senior executives. Europe is much worse, many Grand Domains selling "Access All Areas" tickets for what in reality is a disparate collection of small villages and communes; each with their own Lift Company, Piste/Trail Police, Local Politics and Town Hall Officials.

There is a list of SkiBike Friendly Resorts at The SkiBiker SkiBike Blog's parent website SkiBiker.org
But to keep it fresh, there will be some "Where to SkiBike" posts over the forthcoming weeks giving first hand news about exactly where you can take your SkiBike and go SkiBiking.

A SkiBike Friendly Resort in Europe? - Like finding The Holy Grail

Yet Another London DIY SkiBiker Gets Started

Posted: Tuesday, 29 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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London, England is turning into a hotspot of DIY SkiBike building, where SkiBiker SkiBike blog follower Carl is getting busy this week with his new diy project. He has chosen to use a DaBomb Moab frame as the basis for his skibike. The Moab is a well respected item, ideally suited to riders who like big drops and fast downhill action. It receives great user reviews and some claim these frames will withstand a 20 foot drop. Hopefully any such drops will be planned and not unintentional.

This Moab frame is - DaBomb



Build a SkiBike - Scottish Ghetto Project

Posted: Tuesday, 15 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Fellow RetroBike forum member David "The Ken" Keningdale, has started to build himself a DIY skibike for the winter. With stereotypical Scottish frugality he is determined to see the project through with the minimum of financial outlay.

Ghetto Skibike Scottish Style

Utilising scrap and salvaged parts, he is currently making ski mounts from skateboard trucks, a technique that has worked before. I noted that he is using a Marin Shoreline Trail for the frame, very similar to my Marin East Peak it should be a sturdy, yet light basis for a skibike.
He has already cut down a pair of skis, this always looks awful, but the technique works surprisingly well, although you do tend to skid out a lot, drifting a skibike is all part of the fun when you first start.

Salle de Fartage - Tognar Toolworks the DIY Ski Repairs Website

Posted: Monday, 14 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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If there had been a Nordic god of skibiking his name should have been Tognar.....
Sadly there wasn't any such diety, so instead we have a fantastic website that sells a cornucopia of ski repair tools and materials.
There is also a very detailed "How To" repairs database covering topics ranging from simple waxing right through to complex problems like edge seperation and delaminations. Here's a quick example:

A CLEAN TOOL IS A HAPPY TOOL !

Ceramic Stones -scrub them gently with a brass Supertooth brush, using Ajax or Comet cleanser with water or vinegar and water to cut away grime.
Diamond Stones -scrub gently with a nylon Supertooth brush along with a little wax remover or Ronson lighter fluid.
Steel Files -clean frequently with a file brush and rub a little chalk into file teeth occasionally.
Plastic Scrapers -wipe away wax build-up frequently using a steel scraper, ski edge, etc. Resharpen with a pansar file, drywall sanding screen, or Tognar Burrsharp.
Steel Scrapers -keep sharp using a flat file and burnisher or Tognar Burrsharp.Base Repair Irons & Pistol-keep tips clean by wiping on an old scotchbrite pad while still warm.
Riller Bars/Structure Tools -clean out teeth and ridges on structure bars/blades with a bronze brush.
Wax Irons -wipe off wax and any dirt from the bottom of warm iron (not hot) with a soft, clean rag or old t-shirt (preferably not on someone's back at the moment!).
Scotchbrite, Fibertex, Omni-Prep Pads -Rinse pads under hot water (180 degrees F.) to melt away wax.
Tognar Toolworks

The 2011 Tony Marsh Trophy

Posted: Wednesday, 9 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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A week ago I found myself suprised to find out that I was the recipient of The Tony Marsh Trophy for 2011. It is a rather splendid silver object presented by the SkiBob Association of Great Britain for the "Best First Time Racer". All this was a result of my unexpected involvement in the FISB World Cup as featured on the SkiBiker SkiBike Blog here
Now there have been some cynics who have suggested that it is a hollow victory when you are the only first time racer in the UK in 2011; which is a moot point.

In any case it wasn't my intention to brag, more to bring to the attention of readers in Great Britain that the Trophy will be up for grabs in 2012.

You need to be a member of the SkiBob Association of Great Britain, you need to know how to skibike and you need to enter a race, it really is that simple. What other sport can you participate in recreationally and find yourself at the starting gate with the best in the World? It doesn't matter if you're a pegger, but you will have to don footskis as it is in the race regulations, you shouldn't find it that difficult to convert. You can even hire a skibob for the race from a local team.

You can find out more about racing at the British SkiBike Racing website and let's see some competition for the Trophy in 2012.

This could be you - British SkiBike Racing

Lastly, for those of you who haven't heard of Tony Marsh before here is a quick history:
Anthony Ernest "Tony" Marsh (20 July 1931 – 7 May 2009) was a British racing driver from England. His Formula One career was short and unsuccessful, but he enjoyed great success in hillclimbing, winning the British Hill Climb Championship on a record six occasions.
Tony Marsh raced against such people as Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and Jack Brabham in the late 50s and early 60s. He took part in the famous 1957 German Grand Prix (famous because it was Fangio’s last win and favourite race) and the 1960 Le Mans 24 Hour race where, with John Wagstaff, he won the Index of Energy award in a Lotus Elite
As a septuagenarian, he also remained highly active in numerous other sports – notably ocean sailing, windsurfing, hydroplane racing, shooting and ski-bobbing (or ski-biking). He was a driving force behind ski-bobbing in the UK, a European champion and world championship bronze medallist in the sport and a long-time chairman of the SkiBob Association of Great Britain. While winning the seniors' trophy at the ski-bob British nationals 13 times from 1975-91, he was often fastest on the course. He declined, however, to claim the title of overall British National Champion, preferring to encourage the younger competitors.
You can read more here


Tony Marsh

LenzSport SkiBike Cut Price Sale

Posted: Tuesday, 8 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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I had an interesting mail from LenzSport last week, in reply to my enquiry. There had been an interesting post running on the FaceBook Snow Biking Group discussing the possibility of testing a Firem VS against a LenzSport SkiBike. What I had in mind was not too serious, just a chance for some riders to make a few runs on different machines with some sort of gentlemanly contest to finish. The sort of thing you see in classic car mags, etc. all the time. An opportunity for both brands to get a little extra publicity and everyone to have some fun together.
Unfortunately finding a LenzSport in Europe or a Firem VS in the USA would seem to be a futile task, at least for now.
However they did remind me that there are still some cracking deals to be had on the remaining stock of ex-demo and older models here; with prices ranging from $1300 - $1800 and a selection of styles, sizes and colours, there should be something to tempt every type of skibiker.

LenzSport - focussing on value

Bikermads SkiBikes For DIY Conversion Kits

Posted: Monday, 7 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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The SkiBiker SkiBike Blog loves to be able to share the latest wild and wacky exploits of SkiBike "Poster Boy"  Raymond Georgsson. But who makes the skibike that withstands his levels of abuse? Bikermads is Sweden's entry into the world of skibiking, with models that follow the new era of American pegger style skibike design. Bikermads have just revamped their on-line presence for the 2011-12 winter season and are champing at the bit to tell the world about it.

European DIY skibike builders will be delighted to learn that Bikermads are selling ski mounting kits to convert mountain bikes into skibikes. Up until now the only option was to import Alpine SkiBike kits from the USA, which being outside the European Economic Area meant the payment of import duties and a significant addition to the final cost. As Bikermads are based in Sweden and inside the European Economic Area no such charges are due.

Sweden has not adopted the Euro and has retained the Swedish Kroner a handy conversion tool can be found here the site can also price items in Dollars and Euros.

Bikermads - crazy about skibikes

"It's a good thing snow tastes better than gravel" Raymond Georgsson and Bikermads

Posted: Sunday, 6 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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It's a good thing snow tastes better than gravel - source

Raymond Georgesson had a busy season in 2011; he has constantly surprised with the growing audacity of his skibike jumping stunts. His pièce de résistance, at least in my humble opinion, was the launch off a ski jump, the acceleration is terrifying. With typical modesty he comments:
This was my first time trying to jump a skijump, so keep that in mind :) But trust me, it sure won't be the last. Next time I'll bring a bigger jump and try to go even faster, ok?



Snowbike - First skijump attempt from Raymond Georgsson on Vimeo.

I asked him what plans he had for the 2011/12 winter season:
I have some updates for this winter. First, I now have my own new Vio Pov HD camera (won't need to borrow a cam to get some footage) so there will be a lot more videos this season. Plus, I have a friend who got a new semi-pro cam so hopefully he will follow me sometimes too. Second, I have a new bike to modify into a skibike. More of that in a while....I do have some crazy (great) ideas though.. but, yeah, we'll just leave it there right now.

SkiBike Review - Flaschmann Keeda Racer KR90 / Vintage MIFLA

Posted: Saturday, 5 November 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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It's not everyday that you are invited to try out 2 of the skibobs used in a World Cup Final, so I had to say yes and get off down that hill for an all too brief evaluation.

The first was a brand new Flaschmann KR90 in High Gloss SkiBiker Black from Vincent Berod owner of Berod Sports in Crest Volland, the other a vintage MIFLA owned by Richard Platt chairman of the Skibob Association of Great Britain.

On first impressions, they look remarkably like a Yamaha FS1E sixteener moped without the engine. When you try to lift one or push it uphill you wonder if they are made from lead. Both weigh an absolute ton, as much as 20kg. This is a quite deliberate aspect of the design, heavier skibikes go faster, there is even a stipulation about the maximum allowed competition weight for a skibob to keep things fair.

These are not recreational models that you would want to carry up the chairlift on your lap. Trying to drag one up the T-bar lift was an ordeal I would rather not repeat. Petty gripes over with, you have to ask yourself why are they so popular with the racers?

The answer is simple, awesome steering, the best that I have ever experienced, I actually forgot it was a ski not a wheel at the front, so precise, stable and predictable was the ride.
The frame has a very low centre of gravity for the ultimate in stability. To ride them requires a whole new technique, hunched over like a demonic imp, your knees fit between your forearms touching your ribcage.
The cranked handlebars allowing just enough room for it all to work together.
The payback is a ride like no other, it doesn't feel like it wants to skid sideways at all, only carve graceful arcs downhill as fast as you dare.

Could I tell the difference between the modern and vintage models? Apart from the finish it was beyond my abilities to detect any obvious characteristics. They were both very, very, good.

Back to the SnoZone with the London SkiBikers

Posted: Monday, 31 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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A few days back I had an e-mail from Wayne Richards to let me know that the next London SkiBiker meet had been arranged. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to use the facilities at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead but did get permission to return to SNO!zone at Xscape in Milton Keynes.
We were warned that it is still half-term holidays for some schools and were told to arrive as early as possible. For me this meant a horrible journey through London's rush hour to make it to the SNO!zone for just after 10am. On the previous visit I had really struggled with getting the skibike up the drag lift pegger style, so I cheated and donned traditional footskis and hard boots.
I met Wayne, Paul and Barry on the slope and we set about having a couple of very enjoyable hours getting in plenty of turns. Barry, who has more than a passing resemblance to Sir Elton John looked very confident, balanced and smooth, within just a few runs. Special commendations go to Paul, who had to face down his worst fears having broken a wrist on the last London SkiBikers outing to Austria. I couldn't help be notice that, like me, he favours the "throw a leg out" skibiker turn over other methods.
It gave me a great feeling to be riding the lift and to see, for the very first time, a slope full of weaving skibikers here in England!

SNO!zone - Caution snow may contain SkiBikers

Mountain Bike - L'Eroica Influenced Ride

Posted: Sunday, 30 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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A few days ago I spotted this interesting post on the splendid RetroBike forum. Pete aka Longrider1, suggested a Sunday ride with this curious itinerary:
Like l'Eroica its very hilly, with lots of ups and downs, and some narrow roads. However its all on tarmac, but will be hilly and pretty, e.g. Ranmore Common, Leith Hill, Holmbury Hill, Whitedown, etc, on minor roads, some potholes/gravel to beware in places. Route is similar to the CTC Hilly 50km route. Pub lunch stop, maybe in Holmbury St Mary. Around 60km (Effingham to Effingham) but pace will be pace of slowest rider i.e. re-group at tops of climbs.
I have to confess I didn't know what L'Eroica was, I thought it was an opera, but I was wrong, Eroica is the name of Symphony No.3 by Beethoven. Of more relevance, it is a serious "Heroic" race across the hilly landscapes of Tuscany in the North of Italy, you can get a flavour of this event at the Brooks England Blog

I let Pete know I would be coming and managed to bring my mate Caspar along, who I know has a bit of a cycling fetish. This morning when we met, he admitted that he had been up the whole night getting the bike ready and had only managed to snatch a 40 minute nap.
His steed was to be a blue Motobecane 10 speed racer, all very original right down to the steel rims. It was an item he had rescued via Freegle and treated to a thorough clean, some new brake pads and a front tyre.
He thought that it would be a better bike for the hills, but as it turned out that was not to be the case and his trusty old Saracen mountain bike may have been a safer bet.

Like L'Eroica the route had its ups and downs

The weather was exceptionally mild for the time of year and at one point I was just wearing a polo shirt and its November next week. Five of us set off and made our way along some beautiful country roads, the trees all in shades of gold and brown. All too soon the hillier sections arrived and we settled in to a rhythm of steady climbs followed by some exhilarating descents. Poor Caspar found himself having to walk up some of the ascents, but stoically he carried on.
After a much needed lunch break, I suggested to Caspar we swap bikes, my Marin Stinson only has 7 gears but they are much more widely spaced, with a handy "winch gear" for the tough bits.
It took me a little while to get used to Motobecane's narrow drop handle bars, toe straps and gear levers on the front tube, but I felt much more at home after 10 minutes or so. Sadly the weather began to close in and set into a steady drizzle. This made the faster descents all the more exhilarating with the combination of steel rims, wet roads and skinny tyres.
Arriving back at our starting point some 6 hours after we had departed I felt that curious merging of time, where you could have been gone a lifetime or just 5 minutes.

DIY Skibike - Servicing Alpine Skibikes Adapters

Posted: Tuesday, 25 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Alpine Skibikes conversion kits have been around for a decade now, they are robustly made, some people may even say "over engineered".
The body is made from a sturdy extruded aluminium section, whilst the axle and cones are made from hardened steel. Where these two dissimilar metal surfaces meet there will be wear and sooner or later you will need to adjust them to reduce free play.

How do you know when this needs doing? I find it is most noticeable when the front adapter needs adjustment as the ski tends to clunk abruptly from one edge to the other and won't glide smoothly on gentle gradients and hunts around. As a double check, turn the skibike upside down put your foot lightly on the handlebars to prevent them from turning. Now check whether you can waggle the skis left or right of centre, if there is any movement, it is time for a service.

Luckily adjustment is very straightforward, if you have ever adjusted the bearings on a bike wheel, you find the method familiar. I have used the rear ski adapter for this example as it has more parts than the front adapter.

First remove the wheel nuts and washers from both sides of the adapter.

First remove the wheel nuts and washers

Next, pull the springs off the axle, they are an interference fit; firm hand pressure should be enough, if they are stuck fast use penetrating oil, WD40 etc. rather than forcing them off with tools.

Pull the springs off the axle - firm hand pressure should be enough

Using two spanners in opposition, free off the slim lock nuts from both sides; then with a pair of bike cone spanners free off the cones and spacers, then completely remove them from the axle.

Using two spanners in opposition, free off the locking nuts

Layout the parts and thoroughly clean out any old grease or other debris with a suitable cleaner, such as; methylated spirits, brake cleaner, etc. using a lint free cloth. If the adapters have seen considerable use, the threads on the axle can become worn and damaged, should this be the case, replace the axle.

Reassembly is the reverse of removal, apply grease generously to all mating surfaces, clean away any excess as you go.

Reassembly is the reverse of removal

Tighten the cones so that the axle can only just move without binding, don't be tempted to set them so they spin freely like a bike hub.
Clean away any excess grease, then tighten the locking rings and spacers. Finally install the springs, washers and mounting nuts.

It is worthwhile checking the adapters after every three weeks of use or annually, if you use your skibike less than this per year.
Remember 50% of servicing is visual inspection, so look closely at all components for any signs of potential failure, such as cracks or other damage.

If you want to make your Alpine Skibikes conversion perform even better, you really need to read the following article about modifying the Alpine Skibikes conversion kit.

Make your Alpine Skibikes conversion kit better with this modification

You can also take better care of your skibike by brushing all snow and ice off your skibike before putting it away after use. Never leave a skibike outside overnight, the freeze/thaw cycle and corresponding expansion of ice can have a detrimental impact on the all working parts.
Applying some light machine oil to all moving parts periodically will benefit the function and appearance of your skibike.

Ski-Biking Steven's Pass

Posted: Monday, 24 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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I found this neat video from YouTube user "capecodinsomniac" who has the following comments to make:

Beating the Pineapple Express @ Steven's with my Ski-Bike. A few runs to start my season and play with camera positions.
I usually drive to a local mtn in Washington state in the Pacific Northwest. Its about an 1.5 hr drive, so it is convenient. Most other resorts didn't give permission for ski-bike too, so my options were limited. I first considered Ski-Biking becasue I have flat feet and ski/snowboard boots always gave me blisters/hotspots and made my feet and knees hurt in general. With the bike I can wear comfortable hiking boots. I also already had the bike parts so it was a lot cheaper than buying boarding gear.
....not too many stories to tell...I had someone run into me and take themselves out on my rear ski. they raced down mtn to cuss me out for riding recklessly (I wasn't...he just needed someone to blame and 'THE SKIBIKER' was a good target).
I had another person decide to not turn when coming cross slope... I was on far right of slope and some older guy started coming across from left. He just kept coming closer and closer and before I knew what to do he pointed right at me and we both flew off the right side of the trail into a messy crash...luckily we missed the trees and got plugged into some deep powder. I face-planted and somersaulted a few times while still on bike. I dont' let go for safety reasons - especially since I'm leashed to it :P thankfully not much else has gone awry on the slopes. Just good times :)
 

The Stevens Pass Ski Area is a ski area located at the crest of Stevens Pass in the Cascade Range of Washington, United States. The base elevation is at 4061 feet (1238 m) with the peak at 5,845 feet (1,782 m). The Mill Valley "backside" of the resort drops to a minimum elevation of 3821 feet (1165 m). Total skiable terrain includes 37 major runs covering 1,125 acres.

Some more about the ShroomBob™

Posted: Saturday, 22 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Robert Kolesar had a few additional comments about the recent post on the subject of the ShroomBob™
skibobs and skibikes.

The lift loading and unloading feature is the first unique feature of the Shroombob I  like to emphasize, as it greatly enhances ease of ski bike use, even for advanced riders who can carry the skibike in their lap or hooked onto the lift.  Not having to lift and carry the skibike while lift riding is really pretty cool and Our design completely compensates for the variability of lift seat height.

The second most important unique feature is the 4-bar suspension (a lever arm hinge mechanism - instead of direct connection - of the suspension arm and component to the frame of the skibike).  Have you ever ridden one of those really expensive bicycles at a local shop with this type of suspension?  Kona is the brand I use; it has 6 inches of seat travel through its suspension range, and can be ridden at speed directly into a curb from a street to a side walk (usually 6 - 8 inches) and make the transition feel smooth - like the curb is almost not there.  

The Shroombob has 8 inches of seat travel, and the 4-bar suspension is progressive, i.e. the more the suspension is deflected, the stiffer it becomes.  With this design bottoming out the suspension is impossible.  As the rider sits on the Shroombob, their weight alone depresses the suspension about 2-3 inches, and the sensation is like sitting on a soft lounge chair.  Using a suspension component with rebound control, the rider stays on the Shroombob almost automatically as the suspension smoothes out the ski terrain.  When riding at skibiking speeds into bumps, etc, the suspension does all the work of compensating (pre-jumping) the hazard.  The advantage of this suspension design, over traditional designs has to be ridden to be fully appreciated.  

The third most important unique feature of the Shroombob is a relative inability of the ski mount to rotate relative to the frame of the skibike.  This design allows the Shroombob suspension to drive the skis into the snow for turning and control, and allows the rider to use either the front or rear ski to carve turns. Also, the front ski does not dive into soft snow or powder, and tends to ride up out of these difficult snow conditions, instead of getting sucked in.

The Ski Bike Experience - New England Mountain Bike Association

Posted: Friday, 21 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Here's one from the archives of NEMBA, the New England Mountain Bike Association, written by Don Seifert and Wesley Garven in 2006:

My ski-bike experience started one morning on my backyard hill. Not knowing what to expect, I kicked off and down the hill I went, smiling from ear to ear of course. To my surprise it was relatively easy, well…for a little hill anyway. I know this wasn't a black diamond, but I was just thrilled I could actually ski on my beloved mountain bike and control it! So now it was time to hit the mountains. Check out www.ski-bike.org to find local local resorts that allow ski-biking.

Though not as popular as in Europe, the US has lots of resorts that allow ski-bikes, and more may come around as the sport gains future exposure. Some resorts in New England allow full access while other resorts have restricted access. In Massachusetts, Mt Wachusett has restricted access, allowing ski-bikes only on weekdays on the lower lift. This is where I mostly go since I can see the mountain from my front door, so I'm hopeful ski-bikers will eventually get permanent access to one of the higher lifts in the future. This would greatly improve the ski bike experience in Massachusetts. Thus far it's been nothing but positive experiences and I can honestly say I enjoy ski biking the most of all my winter activities.

New England has thousands of passionate mountain bikers and based on my experiences so far I'm confident most bikers would absolutely love ski-biking. I will go so far to say if you own a mountain bike you should also own some sort of ski conversion kit. It's that much fun! You'll get the same winter experience as a skier or snow boarder plus the familiar feeling of ripping down your favorite downhill trail in August. Now that's an awesome combination!
For a sport with less than a mainstream history, I believe its time will come and foresee a future in New England for the ski-bike experience!... Read the full article here

Skibiking - New England Style

Salle de Fartage - Jon's Ski Tuning Lessons on DVD

Posted: Thursday, 20 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Based in Nottingham UK, Jon's Ski Tuning was launched to provide discerning skiers and snowboarders with a quality hand tuning & servicing facility for skis & snowboards.
The DIY skibiker may be interested to find out that it is possible to take ski tuning lessons at the workshop in Nottingham (England), if you are too far away you can always buy the DVD. There is also an on-line shop with a plentiful stock of ski service tools and consumables and plenty of free information about edge angles, etc.

iSkibike™ You Could Too! - Accesories for SkiBikes and SkiBikers

Posted: Wednesday, 19 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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iSkibike™ is the brainchild of Robert Kolesar inventor of the ShroomBob™ and it is an on-line shop offering some interesting kits and accessories, especially for the diy skibike builder.

For anyone looking to make their own footskis for use with a skibob, iSkibike™ offer footski component kits under the name "Heel Edge".
Assuming you have a suitable donor ski to cut down, the kit contains all the other parts needed. An ingenious metal heel binding, with a wire clip much like a SnowBlade binding and incorporating a heel grind block fits to the footski tail. A ski rear release binding as installed back to front for the front binding. Alternatively, non-release wire clip bindings or flexible SnowBoarder boot bindings can be installed.

Other items stocked are GoggleBrows, a handy goggles retaining device, which when attached to a ski helmet, allow you to "park" your goggles without the risk of them flying away at an inopportune moment.

Lastly there are a selection of T-Shirts and stickers, available including the highly desirable holographic iSkibike™ sticker with claimed mystical powers.

Heel Edge FootSki kits from iSkibike™

Robert Kolesar, The ShroomBob and the $100 Guarantee

Posted: Saturday, 15 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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I received an e-mail from Robert Kolesar recently, he wanted to know why the ShroomBob™ wasn't featured on the list of manufactures at Skibiker.org. To put matters right, it was time to see what ShroomBob™ have to offer the skibiker.

Robert designed the first ShroomBob™ with a very specific purpose; his wife, Ellyn, had suffered a head injury from a 35-foot fall in 1989 while hiking which left her weak on her right side. The ShroomBob was a tool to get her back on to the mountain and enabled her to enjoy skiing again, even before she was able to walk. You can read more about that story here
As a result of this experience, the ShroomBob™ has a heavy focus towards adaptive skiing programmes, alongside alternative products with an athletic bias, such as their Pegger XX 'Rad' SkiBike and Double Black Diamond Extreme Skibob models.

The design appears unusual compared to other skibobs and skibikes with a much longer trailing rear ski.
This would lead you to think that it is an unwieldy device to manhandle on and off a chairlift, however, a recently US patented design allows for easy spring assisted ski lift loading, even whilst seated.

Another innovation is ski boot mount technology between the frame and skis, enabling you to quickly change between any skis using standard bindings.
As with other small manufacturers a high degree of customisation is available; from the choice of suspension components all the way through to the colour and style of saddle.
Best of all you can test ride the ShroomBob at Moonlight Basin, Montana, where the unique "FREE First Run In Control $100.00 Guarantee" applies.

ShroomBob™ - Worth $100 if you can't ride one

First Snow has fallen in the Alpes - Confirmed

Posted: Sunday, 9 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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Hot off the press from Absolutely Travel 

Wow – our MD woke up to a white Alpine world this morning while doing a pre season check of our Chalets in Morzine and Les Menuires. With over 6 inches of snow down to below 1500m falling last night the signs are looking good for this winter.

This was Avoriaz at 5 pm this evening (Sunday 9 October)

Danny Hart UCI Downhill World Champion - But how does he sit down?

Posted: Saturday, 8 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Following a post on the excellent Ski Bike Junkie Blog I wanted to share this gem with you. Descent World Racing colourfully illustrated the scene thus:

Oh my God! We have all just got a lesson in how to ride a pushbike. In conditions that could only be described as atrocious a small lad from the North of England schooled everyone else in the World and truly earned those Rainbow Stripes. Danny Hart, World-bloody-Champion!
Coming from a great season that has seen him twice lose out to a near-perfect Aaron Gwin, Danny lifted his game and threw down the kind of run of legends. If Danny is the Schoolteacher, then Champery must have proved itself to be the Classroom. Twice now it has caused the biking world to sit up and take notice, both in 2007 with Sam Hill and today with the diminutive Northerner.
We all knew there was something special about him since he first started racing in the Juveniles category at the SDA’s all those years ago, but still, oh my God!
Rider after rider came down, many having big problems with the ever-worsening track, and it was only when Brendon Fairclough crossed the line with a 3.55 that everyone stood up and took notice. Team-mate and danger-man Sam Hill came close with a 3.57 and Fabien Barel, in his last pro race, got a 4 minute dead. Then it was Fabien’s team-mate, Damien Spagnolo, who shocked us with an extremely fast and confident run beating the Bren-Dog by 2 seconds. Sam Blenkinsop managed to slot in behind this with a 3.54, but nothing could prepare us for what happened next. Looking like he was riding a different, grippier track, Hart-Attack attacked the course, nailing corners and keeping speed where others were losing front wheels and sliding out. He was up at the first split by four and a half seconds and nine seconds at the second. “Calm-down” we were all thinking, “don’t throw all this away at the end!”, but no, still a massive whip on the end jumps and he finished the run more than 11 (yes, ELEVEN) seconds up on the best (or rather second-best!) in the world. Wow!....You can read more about the Danny Hart here.
 And now ladies and gentlemen for your edification and amusement, I present the following example of some super human riding, matched by some of the funniest commentary ever and the best punch line in the world.

Early forecasts for a colder winter due to the influence of La Nina

Posted: by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , ,
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A week ago, here in the UK, the temperature was breaking records at nearly 30 degrees Centigrade that's 86 degrees on the Farenheit scale. Over the week the temperatures have plummeted and today it is struggling to make 12 degrees, which is equivalent to a paltry 54 degrees.
As I donned my lumberjack shirt and beanie hat this morning, I wondered whether recent reports of another colder than average winter to come will be proved correct. Recently David Eakin posted on the Facebook Snow Biking group:

Just got the latest La Nina report. "While it is not yet clear what the ultimate strength of this La Niña will be, La Niña conditions have returned and are expected to gradually strengthen and continue into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2011-12."
This AccuWeather.com blog is forecasting above average snow in Northern America:
The basis of the forecast is on the prediction that a weak La Nina will be forming this fall and continuing through the winter. Last year, we had a strong La Nina with blocking over Greenland that lead to a very snowy winter across the Midwest and Northeast. While the pattern will be similar to last year, there will be changes in the pattern that will lead to the heavy snow areas shown on the map.
I am not convinced that blocking will be prevalent across Greenland this winter, however, with the trough axis predicted to be in the Midwest, that will lead to storms developing along the East coast and racing northeast. The cold will be back in the Appalachians, and that will lead to heavy snow in that area. The major cities will probably be fighting many mix precip storms with the snow lovers along the I-95 corridor pulling their hair over heavy snow versus ice and rain.
A storm track coming out of the Rockies will lead to storms moving through the western Great Lakes and a band of above-normal snowfall across the Midwest and western Great Lakes.
I also went with an above-normal snow area along the Front Range of the Rockies due mainly to arctic air masses coming down from Alberta.
Bear Hilliard posted pictures on the Facebook Snow Biking group of "first snow of the season" at Leadville.

Closer to home the Cairngorm Mountain in Scotland have had their first snowfall in months. A quick check of the Tignes webcams, reveals a landscape very recently transformed by a dusting of snow right down to Tignes Le Lac which is something like 1800m above sea level or 5900 ft.

Will the AccuWeather.com forecast live up to its name?

Ski Bliss at Hemel Hempstead

Posted: Wednesday, 5 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,
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Having a relationship with the snow is a curious thing, perhaps not that different to what most people would call sex.
If it goes well you are satiated, but all to soon the itch to do it again emerges, the better it was, the stronger the itch. Eunuchs must have a lot to be thankful for...

My last visit to Hemel had been so good I started looking for any excuse to go back. Finally I found one, packed my boots and trusty SnowBlades in the boot of the car and headed round the M25 in the late afternoon rush hour. My home is diametrically opposite Hemel Hempstead on the M25, luckily the journey was just early enough to avoid rush hour hell and took me just 1 hour and 15 minutes door to door to cover the 60+ miles.
As I had suspected we are now in the Snow Centre high season, which meant a hefty price hike to £38 for two hours open practice. I perceive this as poor value, that amount would buy you a whole day on the mountain in one of the Alpine Gran Domains.
But I guess the management know they have you over a barrel, you are an addict, you are there to be exploited.
In fairness to the Snow Centre, if you intend to be a regular user you can get membership and save a substantial amount on these rates. The website was a little coy and listed benefits but not the cost, so I asked at reception. For a single person this would be £130 per year with other rates for couples, families and concessions for the retired, unemployed, students, etc. I made a bit of mental arithmetic and it would appear that you would have to visit once a month for this to be cost effective.
One upside of the high prices is exclusivity. It was quiet during the 5:45 to 7:45 slot I had been allocated; there appeared to be one private lesson and one kids group lesson taking place at the same time.

So what did I do during my time slot?
I played around with very different skiing styles; when the piste was totally empty I practiced wide carving traverses trying my best to skim a glove over the snow, when busier I worked on narrow track fall line skiing, including what is my own crude and bastardised version of the Wedeln. Plus there is all the random fun of interacting with others and dynamically changing your lines to avoid a collision, then finding yourself heading for a hefty pile of snow, jump ramp, stanchion or other miscellaneous hazard.

I had a really good time and made my way home on a somewhat roundabout route to see a friend. The next day I had a 15 mile cycle commute into a headwind for a 6:50am start at work. I made it, I was exhausted but happy all day, it might not have been sex, but I'd scored.

This clip shows how the Wedeln should look!