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Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 01:30 AM
I usually associate dizziness with excessive fun at my local pub, so when I started feeling light headed, intermittently, a few months ago I was slightly disconcerted. And as this year’s lambs had just started their gamboling larks and the roads were free of ice, it meant I should ramp up bike training for my next mini-expedition: Norway’s Styrkeproven, a 340 mile non-stop cycle from Trondheim to Oslo. However, what ultimately manifested itself as vestibular neuronitis (ie the nerve connecting the balance mechanism in my left ear to the brain was irreparably damaged), meant that balancing on a bike was impossible. After two months of mind-numbingly boring work on a turbo trainer, it became apparent that I was highly unlikely to join my mates on the ride unless a miracle occurred.
I’m not big into miracles but my wife jokingly suggested I should ride the Styrk on a tricycle. Minutes later I had found the ICE web site and realised that just possibly I could ride the Styrk on a trike. However, with just four weeks until the off, I was not in the best of shape, as my turbo rides had been focusing on 1-2 hour ‘sprints’ and slower fat burning three hour rides (which clearly hadn’t worked). A quick phone call later with the kind people at ICE and within a week I was on my way to Falmouth to test ride a trike.
Dan kindly took me out on a very sleek VTX that was fast and fun. I was hooked and could sense that the Styrk was possibly achievable. The next challenge was to find a suitable trike to beg, borrow or steal. Enter Dave Cornthwaite. Dave is a serial adventurer who uses a family of supporters on social media to define all his expeditions, one of which had been to trike from Germany to Falmouth covering 1,106 miles on a tricycle named Trikey. Trikey is not a sexy ICE VTX but a detuned model: the Sprint 26X. It has smaller, heavier wheels, slightly fatter tyres, a mesh seat and a higher riding position. Like me, it also carries a little extra weight around the middle compared to its svelter chums. However, Trikey, it turns out, offers the most comfort a person can find this side of Harrods’ bedding department. The mesh seat is not as hip as the VTX’s carbon fibre option but for long distance travel its comfort is immense. The team at ICE said Dave was currently on one of his expeditions (Uganda it turned out) and would willingly lend me Trikey as one of his mottos was ‘SAY YES MORE’. Thanks Dave.
So, with just three weeks and 10 hours to the start of the Styrk, I left Falmouth with Trikey in the back of my car. The following day was forecast overcast but I set off from my outlaws’ home in Plymouth for a trek around Dartmoor. The weather soon brightened and I headed north along the Plym Valley trail towards the heart of Dartmoor. It soon became apparent that I would struggle to exceed 12 mph but it turned into a wonderful sunny day and I just followed my nose, taking in Princetown, Widdecombe in the Moor, Chagford and Okehampton, then south to Tavistock and back the way I came via Yelverton. With 84 miles and 2,400m of ascent in 10 hours, the Stryk seemed with reach, possibly. A rather less vertiginous ride around my home county of Rutland, the following weekend, of 125 miles and 1800m of ascent, was slightly disheartening as it confirmed I could only manage 12mph.
Having spent the final weekend, before the Stryk, tapering my training (ahem) by building a plywood air transport box, I’d covered a total of 249 miles on Trikey, easily the least training I’d ever done for an event and less than the 340 miles of the Styrk. Not the ideal ratio.
In Trondheim I rebuilt Trikey having previously split it into three bags/boxes for the flight. The forecast was for rain so I elected to have all three mudguards fitted and to take a mountaineering jacket, which would be far more waterproof than any cycling-specific one.
Styrkeproven roughly translates as ‘great trial of strength’ and 2016 was its 50th anniversary. It’s a high profile event in Norway and doubles as the national team road race. A 12 mph Trikey couldn’t possibly keep up with the rest of my mates so I set off the night before their scheduled start. The group of 80 bikes that I started with lost me before the 3km mark, so I cycled through the midnight dusk towards the mountains on my own. I wish I’d taken caffeine before the start as the 60km to the first feed station was uphill and well past my usual bed time, so I was struggling to keep on the ball. As I headed up a long valley a raging torrent flowed in the opposite direction with many a waterfall. I looked at it in the half-light wishing I had the skill to kayak down it. Knowing that I was facing the waterfalls validated that I was cycling uphill, as did the mini squeal from the rear tyre every time I pushed on a pedal. However, when I looked at the road ahead, for miles I was certain I was going downhill and wondered how much slower it would be when I was going uphill! It took about two hours of this for me to realize that my funny ear must be playing games with my tired brain. As half-light turned to daybreak at about 2:00am my mind eventually woke up to the fact that I was still ascending. At this point I wished that I’d fitted my GPS to let me know average speed, heart rate, ascent etc but, knowing that it wouldn’t last the course, I’d left it in my kit bag.
For the next 200 miles I was followed by a cycling equivalent of a pilot fish; a kindly old Finnish man who spoke not a word of English, but seemed happy to sit right behind me, just visible in my rear view mirror. We were occasionally overtaken by pro cycle teams and privateers shooting past at at least twice the speed we were achieving. They were probably shouting pleasantries to us in Norwegian but I have no way of knowing for sure.
The whole of the next day and night was spent gradually descending towards Oslo alongside beautiful mountains and wild salmon rivers. As I approached Oslo, the regularity of the houses increased but the architecture rarely wavered beyond a few basic designs. Throughout the next night I was convinced that I was cycling around in big circles but that was just the effect of tiredness. At feed stop five of seven the road signage failed and I missed the stop, and I feared that five hours between decent, but repetitive, food would result in me hitting the dreaded ‘wall’. However, within a few clicks some kind Norwegians had victualed me sufficiently to get me to the next stop.
At about midnight on the second night I sensed the end was within reach but it was an illusion as I’d been reading the normal road signs to Oslo rather than considering that our route was to take us off the main road. Then at 3:00am the rain that had been promised the previous day, arrived. Here Trikey excelled. The mountaineering jacket appeared from the decent sized panniers and I was warm and comfortable in the final five hours, when it didn’t stop raining. At each food stop I’d see cyclists either curled up in the first aid tent or shivering under a woollen blanket but the combination of decent jacket, a warm seat and mudguards kept me snug.
I struggled through the last couple of hours of the ride, the low point being hallucinating that I was on a motorway in Plymouth (note – there are no motorways in Plymouth) while being unable to comprehend the helpful Norwegian instructions being shouted at me by one of the excellent marshals. Turning around on the semi-closed motorway and triking back to get further instructions was pretty dumb and not recommended. Apparently I looked drained at the finish but, hey, I didn’t have a back like Richard II and the more tender parts of my body weren’t rubbed raw after 33 hours on my mesh mattress.
Although I’m no engineer, I think the key reasons that slowed Trikey were: rolling resistance, weight and pedaling position. I suspect the first two can be addressed by throwing money at the problem and I’m sure that ICE spend a lot of their time balancing them against cost. Pedalling position is something that cannot be overcome without completely redesigning a trike and I suspect it’s impossible without destabilizing the platform. You just have to get used to focusing on the pedal downstroke. Which brings me back to the seat. The VTX’s carbon option is clearly the fastest option but the comfort of the mesh is amazing. So please Santa, may I have a bike that doesn’t exist: an ICE VTX, 700c wheels with mudguards and mesh and carbon seat options. I’d use the carbon seat for sprints and the mesh for longer rides and I bet I could keep up with my mates, perhaps.
Monday, July 04, 2016 - 08:18 AM
It all started in September 2014 when I rode up Great Dun Fell in Cumbria with my son Richard. We were on holiday in the Lake District and decided to try climbing this little known hill with an ascent of 638 m in 7.4 km. Richard was riding a conventional road bike and I was riding my ICE Sprint3. It was a tough climb but the experience ignited an idea that perhaps we could attempt other hills & mountains.
In June 2015, we went to the French Pyrenees for two weeks and rode many climbs that regularly feature in the Tour de France (TdF), such as Aspin, Hautacam, Luz Ardiden, and finally Tourmalet, as well as other equally tough but less well known climbs. Tourmalet was the big prize with 1400 m of ascent in 20 km. The descent was fantastic.
In June 2016 we again went back to the Pyrenees, looking to renew acquaintances with the mountains and to try new climbs, whilst also looking to something new and a suitable “Big Challenge”. Over 10 days we rode Col de Aspin, Superbagneres, Cap de Lac de Long, Col de Lers and the Route des Corniches in France. We also went into Andorra to ride the Col de Arcalis, which features in the 2016 TdF.
As we had two wet days, we drove south into the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and tried two hilly routes known as Senor Banos and Puerto de Serrablo. In Spain the weather was hot & sunny, and the scenery quite different to the French side of the Pyrenees.
Looking at the 2016 TdF route which included Mont Ventoux, we decided to change our plans towards the end of week two and attempt to ride this mountain on the way back to UK. Accommodation was found and we arrived in Bedoin at the foot of the mountain on 23rd June 2016. The mountain can be seen from at least 25 miles away and looks very imposing. The weather forecast was hot, 35 C in the afternoon, but with little wind. We decided to start the ride at sunrise.
Next day we started from Bedoin at 6:15 am, with a temperature of about 17 C. We were expecting the mountain to be busy, but at that hour there were no other riders about. Richard’s plan was to attempt the triple ascent from Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault. My plan was a single ascent of the mountain from Bedoin using my ICE trike.
The climb is divided into three sections each of about 7 km in length. The first section is through farmland, vineyards and lavender fields on gentle slopes of 2% to 5%. The second section is through woodland where the gradient is mostly 9% to 10%, occasionally rising to 12% or 13% for short sections. The third section is in white limestone, with no trees or shade, and gradients of 8% to 11%. The ascent is 1600 m in 21.5 km, and it is a very tough climb.
At the summit there were only about 10 other riders, hence it was very quiet. The sense of achievement and the view from the summit were both fantastic. On the descent I stopped at Chalet Reynard for refreshment. Further down the mountain there were a large number of riders making the ascent.
At the start of the holiday we had been looking for something different and the “Big Challenge”. The riding in Spain was great and provided something different to the French Pyrenees. The “Big Challenge” was provided in spades by Mont Ventoux.
Incidentally, Richard completed the triple ascent of Mont Ventoux riding 141 km, 4170 m of ascent in 8 hours. Oh to be young!
Written by Derek Gamble
Thursday, May 05, 2016 - 02:33 AM
If you were unable to join us at Spezi this year here's a little look at everything ICE. We had a great show, with the ICE stand attracting lots of attention. Despite the cold and rain our trikes on the test track were constantly in use, with show visitors braving the weather to ride a range of different machines.
Spezi is always a great show for us and it is always encouraging to hear the positive feedback that we receive.
Below are some of the ICE related highlights.
The VTX has been refreshed and features updated graphics and an upgrade to an 11 speed drive train on the VTX+
The new graphics are applied using a water slide transfer which, when baked on leaves a durable matte finish. This is a method that has been used by many of the top bicycle manufacturers and offers more creative freedom which was not possible with stickers. We think they look great and hope you will agree.
In line with the thoroughbred race performance philosophy of the VTX+, we have upgraded the gearing package to SRAM Force 2 x 11 speed and, now the VTX+ comes as standard with Schwalbe One race tyres.
Think this might bump the VTX+ price even higher? Nope! We have managed a significant price reduction over the previous 2015 10 Speed equipment, making the upgrade to the VTX+, a very tempting option.
New 8 speed options and lower starting prices
We have introduced some new options to make the core features of the ICE Sprint and Adventure models available at an accessible and competitive price point.
We have taken a fresh look at the way the trikes are pre-configured and tailored the option selections to allow for a more basic starting point.
You may want the folding convenience and ride comfort but simply not feel the need for a parking brake, mirror or flag. You may also be leisure riding in easy country where 24 gears are plenty enough. We now publish “Prices from” for various trikes set up in this way and the website configurator allows for customising of these details. It may sound like stripping away features that we are well known for but does actually allow for a more balanced comparison with some of our competitors.
We have kept the default selections largely unchanged. If lowest price is the main requirement then simply make the appropriate selections on the configurator.
riser is a simple addition to the seat fitting system that can be applied to
any of the Adventure models.
It essentially raises the seat height by 4 inches (10cm) above standard to a total of 16 inches (40.6cm) above the ground. You can choose the bracket at the time of initial purchase or add later.
An ideal accessory for those who find getting on and off a trike to be more difficult than they would like.
owner’s manual has been brought up to date and we have taken the opportunity to
incorporate the initial trike assembly instructions within it, which should be
more convenient for users.
There is also a new page for a helpful Pre Delivery Inspection (PDI) to be completed by the dealer before handover and a copy of the new ICE KITE check for the owner to refer to as a useful check before riding.
All our trikes are supplied with a printed copy of the manual.