Recently a group of friends extended their annual “wild ride” from Trenney’s to Mngazi (normally takes 4 days) to finish in Port Edward in 6 days. Sadly the flooding river became too risky to cross and the trip ended at the Mkhasibe River Drifter Camp, only 30km from the end.
Day 1: Trennery’s to Kob Inn (approx 4½ hours)
Day 2: Kob Inn to The Haven (approx 4½ hours)
Day 3: The Haven to Coffee Bay (approx 5 hours)
Day 4: Coffee Bay to Port St Johns (approx 7 hours)
Day 5: Port St Johns to Port Grosvenor (approx 10½ hours)
100mm of rain fell in the space of 24hrs
Day 6: Port Grosvenor to Port Edward (approx 10km in 3½ hours)
We stopped 30km short at Mkhasibe River due to the flooding.
The Wild Coast is ideal territory for Mountain Bikers as there are long sandy beaches, challenging single tracks and gravel roads in abundance.
We enjoyed seeing unique sights such as waterfalls that drop into the ocean and cattle chilling in the surf which provided fantastic spectacles along the way.
The G6 frameset is “built from the inside out” using BH’s Hollow Core Internal Molding Technology. BH says it prevents bubbles and imperfections to improve strength and weight. The G6 is constructed with the company’s highest-grade carbon fibre, designated F1 grade to further reduce the weight of the frameset.
BH introduced more aerodynamic features. The integrated seatpost now has a Kamm tail to keep the frame UCI legal and bring the overall weight of the bike right down. The fork is tucked part of the way into the headtube, while a broad aero downtube continues to dominate the frame. In contrast, the seat stays are very thin, designed to reduce road vibration.
The forks have a tapered steerer, with all cables internally routed. One has the option for both mechanical and electronic groupsets and the oversized bottom bracket utilises the new bottom bracket, being the 386 that was developed in partnership with FSA. This increases frame stiffness and increases power transfer.
Bold logos announce the brand name and they fit comfortably on the massive aero tubing. The overall presentation is clean and sharp with some pleasing lines.
The G6 is a bike that must be raced! It rides beautifully once you get in the drops, flatten your back and go. It is also a bike one can sit up on and relax to take in the surroundings. It’s smooth, fast and sure footed.
All of the fat aero tubing plus a measure of BH’s engineering made for a stiff and efficient bike. It was easy to ride this bike fast and it responded nicely to any acceleration, in or out of the saddle.
The G6 is a race-day bike that is light, stiff and fast. The stiff chassis is perfectly suited to powerful riders that enjoy attacking; indeed, this bike is bike that likes to be ridden aggressively. Medium size without pedals, 7.2kg
I’ve tested lightweight racing bikes that had so much bottom bracket flex that I kept looking at the rear tire to see if it was flat. I’ve tested Di2-equipped bikes where the whole frame would shudder when I shifted the rear derailleur under load. There were others that couldn’t hold in a straight line and some that would put up a fight in every turn in a criterium race. Several had handling so bad that I wouldn’t trust going downhill and others that were so heavy that it made climbing a real challenge.
So what’s changed? I think manufacturers finally figured out how to design and build a carbon bicycle. For example, when road disc brakes first came out, manufacturers just modified the lower part of the fork to accept a caliper. These first bikes had horrible braking characteristics. The forks would flex inward feeling as if they would fold underneath the frame. A fork that is designed for a disc brake needs to be engineered completely different than a rim-based brake caliper. The forces applied to the fork under braking load are completely different to rim brake. I am happy to see that starting in 2016, many manufacturers have designed a special purpose road disc fork. The first bike that I tested with a special purpose fork was the BH G7 disc. The front fork on this bike is rock-solid!
Bikes change from year to year and mostly for the better. This is great news for the consumer since there are more options of higher quality and great pricing. Over the last several years, I have seen quality increase while prices decrease. Thus more choices, more options and more value.
My initial impressions of the BH G7 is a rock-solid, stiff, compliant aero road bike that does everything well. The G7 Disc’s steering is quick, lively, but not to the point of being out of control. The G7 Disc makes for a great handling crit bike. It goes where you point it and gets there fairly quickly.
So far I have ‘put the hammer down’ on this bike and have experienced absolutely NO bottom bracket flex, NO rear end flex nor any fork flex. I am impressed.
I have really hammered this bike;
1. Up hills – Sitting down as well as standing up on hills as much as 17% gradient. When seated, my weight is rearward and the steering is very light. When transitioning to standing, I start rocking the bike without giving much input to the steering. Bike stays straight and perfectly under control. Because the bike is stiff, hills are a breeze. For rollers, I just keep the power on and since there is not much loss of power through the drivetrain, the bike pushes easily up and over.
2. Down hills – Some bikes are very quirky going downhill. Going up a 17% grade hill means, at some point, you have to go back down, and going back down a 14-17% grade hill, the speeds are upward of 81 kph. You want a bike that is stable, no shimmying and no shaking. Cresting the top of any hill, id clamp the downtube with my knees and hold on for a very stable and predictable journey back to the bottom.
3. Flats – I have been on other bikes that seemed to have a decided top speed regardless of how much more power you put into the pedals. There is none of that with this bike. The harder you push on the pedals, the faster you go! The advantage of having aero-shaped tubing is that a head wind isn’t much of a factor either. The G7 Disc slices right through it.
BH did a nice job marrying the best qualities of a lightweight road bike and aero road bike. The G7 Disc fits right in-between giving it climbing ability/agility but without sacrificing the speed of an aero bike.
Are there faster aero road bikes? Sure, but they are more difficult to climb with. Are there faster climbers, yes as well, but climbing bikes sacrifice speed due to their non-aero fat tubes. The G7 Disc fits right in the middle and does both climbing and aero very well.
The G7 Pro is unusual in that it’s a rim brake version of an existing disc brake bike. Things usually happen the other way around. The disc version of the BH G7 was first shown almost two years ago and there was no mention of a rim brake equivalent at the time.
Since then we’ve had the introduction, suspension and subsequent re-introduction of the trial of disc brakes in the pro peloton with various accusations of danger in a road race situation made against the technology. With the long-term position of disc brake bikes still uncertain, having a race bike available exclusively in a disc brake format doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, hence the BH G7 Pro.
Putting the brakes and thru axles to one side, the G7 Pro looks pretty much identical to the G7 Disc with a deep section down tube and a seat tube that’s cutaway around the rear wheel. That seat tube is extended with an aero profiled seat tube to accommodate up to 30mm tyres.
The seatstays join the seat tube very low to reduce drag, something that we see on the vast majority of aero road bikes out there.
The G7 Pro uses direct mount brakes front and rear. Without the need to accommodate a central mount bolt, the fork crown can be made lower for improved aerodynamic efficiency. As ever with all aero road bikes, the fork blades are deep to reduce drag.
As mountain biking evolves, so do the choices facing riders. One such choice – a pretty fundamental one – is the type of bike that best suits your riding.
If you’re a racing snake the choice is pretty simple: something ultra-light with aggressive geometry … the sort of thing that Nino Schurter races on the cross-country circuit or the top Cape Epic riders all use. Managing such bikes on technical sections requires some considerable skill, particularly when you opt for a hardtail, which may be super light but is not very forgiving in the tight and twisty stuff.
At the other end of the scale you are a wannabe Greg Minnaar (or even Greg Minnaar himself) and your weapon of choice will be a downhill bike with huge suspension and very relaxed geometry, so much so that the front wheel seems to be sitting impossibly far out front when you are in the saddle. These are perfect for descending, but are heavy as hell and a nightmare when the trail turns upwards.
Then there are the host of riders who want to have fun on the downhills but want to go uphill as well, if not at quite the same pace as the racing types. The evolution of trail and all-mountain bikes has reflected the increasing popularity of this style of riding (as has the advent of Enduro racing, where riders are timed over short downhill sections and ride at a chilled pace in-between them). Continue reading by clicking here...
Tour De France 2017 Stage 20: Marseille / Marseille 22.5 km
Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the biggest victory of his career Saturday in Marseille, riding to victory on the 22km Stage 20 individual time trial at the Tour de France.
However the biggest winner on the day was yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky), who defended his lead and rode to an impressive third on the day, five seconds behind teammate Michal Kwiatkowski, who finished just one second behind Bodnar.
Froome now leads the general classification by almost a minute over Rigoberto Uran of Cannondale-Drapac, with only the processional stage into Paris remaining.
Bodnar’s win marks Bora-Hansgrohe’s second of the 2017 Tour after Peter Sagan’s Stage 3 win in Longwy. Sagan’s subsequent disqualification left the German team looking for another stage win, and Bodnar delivered on the seaside course in Marseilles.
There would be a GC shakeup between second and third place, as Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) had a tough day on course in Marseilles, succumbing almost 90 seconds to third place Uran, who overtook the Frenchman to take second on the general classification. Bardet nearly lost his podium spot, maintaining third on the classification by just one second over Froome’s teammate Mikel Landa, who finished 15th on the stage, 51 seconds back.
Uran had a strong ride on Stage 20 despite a final corner mishap that saw him narrowly avoid a crash. The Colombian took eighth in the time trial, 31 seconds down on Bodnar.
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) also had an impressive showing on Stage 20, his individual effort awarding him sixth on the stage, 21 seconds back from Bodnar. The Spaniard’s result moved him above mountains classification leader Warren Barguil (Sunweb) in the general classification, to ninth.
Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) finished 1:34 down on the stage, successfully defending his white best young rider jersey, leading Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) by 2:06.
Tour De France 2017 Stage 19: Embrun / Salon-de-Provence 222.5 km
Edvald Boasson Hagen won the 19th stage of the Tour de France, attacking out of a breakaway to take the solo win. Second place went to Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), with third going to Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott). It was the first win for Dimension Data at this year’s Tour.
The peloton with race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) was more than 11 minutes back as the Norwegian crossed the finish line.
It was Boasson Hagen’s eighth win of the season and his first Tour stage win since winning two in 2011 with Team Sky. He launched his winning effort on a roundabout only 2.2km before the finish line. He and Arndt went right, whilst the others went left and the right side was noticeably shorter. The two shot out to a lead which they never surrendered, though Arndt could not hold the wheel of the Norwegian.
The first nine were part of a 20-man break group which formed early in the race and was allowed to build up to a 10-minute lead. The group split with less than 20km left after many attacks tore the group apart.
How it unfolded
Stage 19 was the longest of this year’s Tour – 222.5 km – but still the attacks started as soon as the flag was dropped. A group of eight formed early, but was unable to establish itself.
The first ranked climb of the day, the third category Col Lebraut, came after only 27km and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscaro) jumped clear over the summit. Rolland and Sicard dropped back, with Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) moving up.
Calmejane and Gesbert slowly built up a lead on the descent, and were soon joined by a larger group. Team Sky finally decided they was satisfied with how things were developing, and they let the large group go.
The group contained Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Jan Bakelants (AG2R), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Romain Hardy (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Robert Kiserlovski (Katusha), Rudy Molard (FDJ), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Pierre Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Oscaro), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Gianluca Brambilla (QuickStep Floors), Jens Keukeleire (Orica Scott), Romain Sicard (Direct Energie), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates), Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo Oscaro), Nikias Arndt (Sunweb), Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott), Daniele Bennati (Movistar).
The gap quickly grew out to five minutes as Hardy led the group over the day’s second climb, the Cote de Breziers. Team Sky were willing to let the gap move out as they were not interested in a potentially risky bunch sprint.
Next up was the Col de Pointu, another third category climb. Coming 45km before the finish, it offered a launch pad for anyone wanting to break from the group or peloton. The lead group was no longer as unified as it had been, and with 2.5km to the top, Kiserlovski, Gesbert and Sicard took off. Sicard led the way at the top.
Gallopin dangled at the end of the group, shot up to the front, and then fell back again, struggling to even stay in sight of the group. Mollema took off on the descent, as it changed from a unified group to every man for himself. He too was brought back, as the group started working together again on the flat.
Too many teams were still looking for a first stage win. Attack followed attack, and with 18km left the break split into two almost equally sized groups.
Bakelants, De Gendt, Bennati, Chavanel, Keukeleire, Boasson Hagen, Arndt, Gesbert and Albasini made the cut and slowly pulled away. At the 10km marker, they had 13 seconds on their chasers, and 10 minutes on the peloton.
With 8km to go the attacks started again. Still, the group somehow hung together. Arndt and Boasson Hagen took the right side of a roundabout with 2.2km to go and came out ahead of the rest who took the left side. The duo took off, but Arndt could no longer follow the Norwegian. Boasson Hagen took off and easily soloed it to take the win. Arndt saved second, for another top Sunweb placing, with Keukeleire third.
The second part of the group came in more than 1:30 down, with the peloton still making its way to the finish. There was no sprint, and Sky’s Christian Knees led the procession across the finish line 12:27 after Boasson Hagen.
Tour De France 2017 Stage 18: Briançon / Izoard 179.5 km
Thursday, 20 July 2017 – At 179.5 kilometers, stage 18 in the Tour de France leaves from Briançon to travel to a summit on the Izoard Pass. The last mountain stage in this year’s Grande Boucle is played out on rolling roads before two long and steep climbs kick in with 60 kilometers remaining.
It is the 34th appearance of the Col d’Izoard in the Tour de France, yet it is the first time the finish line lies at the top. No photo finish, that’s for sure – the riders will come stumbling across the line.The last mountain stage in the 2017 Tour de France starts leaves from Briançon, at an elevation of 1,170 metres the highest city in France. At kilometre 60 the riders crest Côte des Demoiselles Coiffées, a 3.9 kilometres climb at 5.2%, and until kilometre 110 there is really nothing to worry about.
The first slopes of the Col de Vars begin in Jausiers. That way, it’s a 21.5 kilometers climb which is getting steeper along the way. With sections between 2% and 3%, the first half is merely a false flat before the going gets tough(er) from kilometer 13 onward. The last 9.3 kilometers are the official climb and this section comes with an average slope of 7.5%, while getting steeper along the way. At 4 kilometer before the top the party really gets going with 2 kilometers at around 10%.
After the drop to Guillestre the last climb of the Tour de France appears. The road through the valley is a false flat of almost 20 kilometers that runs to the foot of the Col d’Izoard. Then, with the sign ‘start climb’, the gradients really kick in. The Izoard is a 14.1 kilometers climb that is averaging 7.3%. The last 10 kilometers go up at 9% and lead to the forbidding and barren slopes of Casse Déserte. A perfect and dramatic backdrop for the last summit finish in the 2017 Tour de France.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds.
Tour De France 2017 Stage 17: La Mure to Serre Chavelier 183 km
The penultimate mountain stage of the 2017 Tour de France was always going to be a tetchy affair, with so much still to play for and so it would turn out to be. Many tried and failed to get into the breakaway early on and the movement in the bunch on the approach to the first climb of the day the Col d’Ornon took out not one but two jersey wearers.
Mountains classification leader Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) came through it with little damage but green jersey wearer, Marcel Kittel was not so lucky. He looked in pain as he endured a lengthy wait for a replacement bike and a damaged cleat meant he had to change his shoe. Eventually, he was able to ride on, but an ice pack on his shoulder was evidence of a serious underlying issue.
While Kittel was being attended to by the medical car behind the pack, a break began to form at the front. Adding insult to injury, Kittel’s biggest rival for the green jersey competition, Matthews was one of many riders to make it clear. The Sunweb rider was joined by 29 other riders, including Roglic, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Laurens ten Dam (Sunweb), Mathias Frank and Cyril Gautier (AG2R La Mondiale), Bauke Mollema and Jarlinson Pantano (Trek-Segafredo) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis).
The top of the Col d’Ornon in sight, Matthews and De Gendt pushed on. De Gendt was looking to mop up a few mountains points but Matthews, playing the team game, had other ideas and sprinted around him to crest the second category climb first. The peloton would follow them over already five minutes behind.
Alexander Kristof (Katusha-Alpecin) came down hard on the descent of the Col d’Ornon. The Norwegian looked like he’d been in a bar brawl when he got back on the bike with a bloody cut under his eye and a jersey ripped to shreds.
Meanwhile, Matthews and De Gendt were still riding off the front with Matthews taking the points at the intermediate sprint too.
The main GC battle was not going to take place until the riders hit the Galibier but Contador decided to go early on the slopes of the Col de la Croix de Fer. Having struggled through much of the Tour de France, it was really great to see Contador on the attack. He initially too Nairo Quintana (Movistar) with him but the Colombian did not have the legs to hold onto a determined Contador.
Quintana had already tried to go away before Contador had launched his move. His day would get even worse later on when he was well and truly dropped by the favourites.
Contador was forced to bridge much of the gap alone until he got close enough to the leaders for his teammate Michael Gogl to drop back and keep him company. By the time Contador had them in his sights; the breakaway was dropping in numbers.
Matthews and De Gendt were still ahead, but it wouldn’t be for long with Contador on a mission. With 89 kilometres still to run, they were brought back and the real battle for the stage win would begin. Meanwhile, news came through that Kittel had called it a day, leaving the Tour de France with an injured shoulder and five stage victories.
Contador was no threat to their race lead but that didn’t stop Team Sky’s Vasil Kiryienka setting a blistering pace that would see the break’s advantage diminish very quickly. By the Telegraphe, the lead was down to 3:20 and there were just 10 riders left out front. A bike change left Contador on the side of the road for some time but he was quickly back with his breakaway companions. They were not going to leave him behind just yet.
The gap would go out again ahead of the Galibier but as the leaders tried to shake each other off, the decreasing peloton worked their way ever closer. After several failed attempts, Roglic finally broke free with 35 kilometres remaining as Contador paid for his efforts earlier in the day.
Behind, Dan Martin was the first of the GC riders to attack but his lead would not grow to much more than 10 seconds. As had been expected, Bardet launched a flurry of moves towards the top of the Galibier. While unable to break free of the yellow jersey, he did distance one of his main rivals, Aru. The Italian champion had been labouring and after chasing back on a number of times, he finally cracked and was never to see the group of favourites again.
As Roglic glided his way down the long descent towards the finish, the yellow jersey group would continue to fracture. Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) suffered badly, while his white jersey rival Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) joined forces with Aru.
Bardet, Uran, Barguil and Landa stayed with the yellow jersey Froome right up to the line, with Uran winning the sprint for second place over a minute behind Roglic.