"Following a win at the UK Xterra Triathlon Championships on a very wet, muddy and windy course in South Wales it meant qualification to the Xterra World Championships in Maui, Hawaii. Reading about the bike course on Maui island, it was obviously was going to be tough, not just because of the terrain but the climate was also going to be challengingUntil recently, I have been racing triathlons on road bikes and now this was like a new sport in going 'off road.' I had little experience of such extreme terrain and welcomed any advice or suggestions. I needed a bike that was lighter to cope with a long ascent with steep climbs but could also deal with obstacles such as lava rocks, deep and dusty silt and the local thorns that resemble nails!"
"Thanks to All Terrain Cycles www.allterraincycles.co.uk , they were able to provide me with advice and a HANDSOME DOG Arrow XT Disc hardtail. It was put to the test on the course reputed to be 'brutal.' And it was!The aluminium frame was so much lighter than my old jalopy and made it easier on the up. Even though it had disc brakes, it still was a light bike and as I was used to disc brakes this worked well. It was a relief that I didn't have to expend extra energy dragging or pushing or carrying a heavier bike in that heat. (90 degrees and no wind to cool!) Generally, I enjoy 'uphills' but the 2,500 feet of climbing was tough in those conditions - I drank 2 litres of fluid on the ascent alone!!"
"Having Shimano XT transmission,http://www.allterraincycles.co.uk/Search?filter=true&q=xt&sortby=titleascending&brandid=1678
it meant easy gear shifting and so I never had any issues thereAn easy bit at the start!"
"The descent was a welcome relief but perhaps not for long as I realised that the lava rock didn't allow the rider to control but just to hang on and balance on the bike. The Handsome Dog handled well with the Fox F100 forks and didn't jump around unnecessarily. I was actually glad I had a hardtail bike as I think I would have bounced around even more on a full suspension. I did notice that the majority of the pro women were sporting hardtails too. I should have perhaps put a chain protector along the bottom part of the frame, as there was a good deal of chain bounce on to it"
"On my journey, I passed many bike casualties such as broken frames, punctures, destroyed wheels and also athletes' limbs adding to the list as the sharp lava rock and thorns did their worst. I was quite amazed at the amount of competitors and their bikes lined along the tracks fixing flats. I used Slime tubes and took some folding Vapor Continental tyres to reduce the risk of punctures and sidewall slashes.Having travelled this far, I decided I wanted to finish the race in one piece and without mishaps - so took a little more time in keeping to the track and attempted to take the best line. I still had the run section to do! As a result, I slowed down, which on reflection I'm not over happy with, as I know that as it was a race - maybe I should have pushed it a bit harder? After all it was the World Champs!! The bike certainly didn't let me down- it was the rider! Obviously, I need to get out to hotter climes and practice on razor sharp rock if I'm to go to Maui again next year?! It was certainly a great experience all the sameI looked forward though, to trying the Handsome Dog out in a race familiar territory and climate.So a week later, I found myself racing at Haworth Mudman Duathlon - grey, wet and muddy! I smiled all the way round the bike course - this was more like it and what I was used to. The bike seemed to manage the mud and rocks efficiently and was fast on the climbs and downhill sections. I was pleased to finish 1st !!"