Monday, 27 May 2013

First ride out on my new NS Soda Air

       I awoke to a gorgeous morning, sun shining, birds tweeting I thought it must have been around 
10:30 am according to my internal clock. I leaned over and checked my phone, bloody hell 5:52 am. Aww what the hell I'm awake, may as well get up.

Plans were to ride my new bike, my NS Soda Air, which arrived from Damien Harris Cycles last Friday. I hadn't been out on the bike, not because of the crap weather. No it was because I was  waiting for some protective Heli Tape to arrive which I'd ordered off eBay. When it did arrive WoW what a nightmare I had fitting the stuff, but hey that's another story.

Back to this morning, a quick delve in my wardrobe and I got my new gear out. An awesome pair of Troy Lee Moto shorts in a really bright lumi green. These also came off of eBay and I'm well chuffed with them as I only paid £28.99 including postage, all the way from China. I was a bit dubious ordering them thinking they would be cheap copies, however when they arrived I can't find any difference to my other Troy Lee Moto's and I paid around £80 quid for those. Next I pulled out my new Fox Demo Jersey and  Sock Guy socks with WTF? logo's...Ooh I was really feeling the part.

Oooh I'm all colour co-ordinated

A quick hop  down stairs and I attached my not so secret weapon, yeah that's right my Bartlett Tendon, still set-up on position 2 on the cams, "yeah" I thought "that set up should do nicely". Then it was through our sitting room and into the dinning room to retrieve my new bike.

Ok so just about ready to go... helmet, check,gloves check,camera,check,tripod,check,Camelbak along with 3 litres of water,check and most important my mobile phone,check... Oh yeah and my other shoe.

So I headed out of our yard and down the street, "Whoaaa!!! this  pneumatic seat post is going to take a bit of getting used to"  I thought. You see the one on my Sandman which is a Crank Brothers  has a remote lever which is situated on the handlebars, where as the Kind Shock Dropzone  has a lever under the saddle, so obviously you have to be standing with one hand off the bars to work the lever which allows the seat to go up or down. Anyhoo after a little play around and wobble whilst using the seat post I got to the bottom of our street and turned left heading to the end of our estate so that I could pick up the trail alongside the farmers fields. Now I know I hadn't been on the bike long, but I just wasn't happy at all, the whole set up of the bike felt weird,  it had me thinking OMG I've just wasted a canny wedge of my money on a bike I won't enjoy riding...I hate it. This thought soon passed as I put on my semi -sensible head. When I reached the top of the trail I pulled over, whipped off my Camelbak and got out my mini toolkit. First thing I did was loosen the stem bolts and adjust my handlebars, followed by my levers and gears. I then raised my seat post a good few inches, enough so that when the seat post was fully up I didn't feel like my legs were bent quite so much. Now this dramatically sorted the bike out and though it still felt a bit strange compared to say my Sandman I felt a lot more at home.

I continued on my ride, coming out at No Place...yes that's what it's called I didn't mean I went No where else lol.  I rode down one of the streets in No Place and again got off my bike as my prosthetic foot needed turning out slightly, that sorted I proceeded to ride down a flight of steps "Yeeehaaaa! the suspension soaking up the bumps, well until I got to the bottom and I sort of slid off the last step. Aww crap what now. A quick feel of my rear tyre and I thought it felt a bit soft. I wasn't exactly sure if I had a puncture as it wasn't flat, flat, so  I rode a few more hundred feet until I came to the main road. I stopped  and retrieved my  pump and as I went to push the pump on I noticed the  valve on the tube didn't have a collar on it, you know like to stop the valve going back in to the rim. Bloody hell what a nightmare trying to get the push fit pump on to that valve, in fact I didn't. All I managed to do was deflate my tyre even further....Bollocks. So now I had 2 options, either push my bike all the way back home approx a mile or phone intERNational rescue, yeah my dad. Mmmmm a miles push or a phone call, let me think a mile or a phone call...Yep Ern it is I mean it was only 6:50 in the morning he should be up right.

And so as I waited I had a few games of Candy Crush on my mobile and Ern soon arrived with the track pump oh and I had asked him to bring my shock pump too as the rear end felt a little bit soft. Job sorted in no time, air in both tyres and also in shock. Top tip always make sure you don't get to excited about going for a ride and head out with no air in your tyres or shock and like in my case too much air in your head. Ok now to just get out and ride.

I headed off down past Beamish Open Air Museum all the way down to Beamish Hall where I turned right and headed along a trail alongside the woods. This is where I experienced my first real bit climbing now that I had the set up right. The Soda climbed a lot better than I expected, considering it's built beefy,so quite weighty and also only has a 10 speed set up. As I continued along the trail I quickly became more accustomed to the bike and my confidence grew, this is a fantastic bike to play on. It eats the trail,climbs fairly well and rides very plush.

After riding along the trail I came to an intersection and headed right, this took me through a nice bit of technical trail in the woods. I know the area quite well so had a bit of a plan in my head of a route. I eventually came out at the Forges at the bottom of Beamish, this is where I had a choice of Gateshead or County Durham, the sign posts for each are only meters apart lol.  I opted for Gateshead and set off up the small bank on the road up past Bobby Shaftoe caravan park, along past Pockerley's farm and headed straight up the road towards the sign post for Tanfield Railway. A good way up the road I took a left and came out at Birkheads Lane. From there it was down to Hedley Hall Woods and this would eventually bring me back out at Beamish Woods. 

Taking a breather
NS Soda Air 2013
 I eventually ended up back at the Forges,so had done a nice loop. Now I had the huge climb up the bank from the Forges to the top where the Shepard and Shepherdess pub is. I will be honest I got just over half way up, before having to get off and push I could hear my heart thumping in my ears and I was  gasping for breath. Wow it's tough work trying to get up there in what is essentially the middle chain ring on the front. I've done it on my Fat bike, however that's got 27 gears and a granny ring to drop on to.

Once at the top I rang my friend Adrian as we had discussed him getting some nice shots of me out on my bike. Ade was out, however said he wouldn't be long home so I told him I would wait for him at Beamish picnic area. It didn't seem like 5 minutes before he and his son Simon turned up, however that's probably because I had fallen asleep on the grass whilst taking in the beautiful rays and of course being knackered after that bank. We had a small discussion about where to go for some nice shots and came up with the woods down near the Forges...Aww crap that bank again... at least I would be going downhill...Oh but then again I would have to come back up it again.

Once down at the woods near the Forges Ade and Simon had a nice leisurely stroll and I had a slow ride around whilst chatting to them and sharing a laugh or two. As we came to interesting areas Ade would ask me to either ride or pose in order to get some nice shots. As per the norm for me of course I got assaulted by a tree, so yet another small war wound lol. 

Got a drift going on
Blazing the trail

As Ade and Simon returned to the car after our scout about and photo's taken I had that god dam nightmare bank to get up yet again and yet again I got just over half way before having to get off and push. Once at the top I made my way along from the entrance to Beamish Museum and got on to the C2C, then it was straight up to Stanley, coming off at the back of the Louisa Centre. A quick dodge of the pedestrians down the Front Street well it was market day so pretty busy,then under the sub way and before I knew it I was onto Wear Road which leads onto my bank Durham Road and home. I was knackered "will wash my bike tomorrow" I thought. Got in and had a  shower I think it was around 
2 pm, next thing I know it's 8:05 pm I'd fallen sound asleep. It had really taken it out of me especially those killer climbs and not having ridden for 2 weeks which makes a huge difference. It didn't matter though as I had had a smashing day... out on my new bike which I had learnt to love, out with brilliant friends and out in simply wonderful weather...I feel so lucky.

I got the images off Ade tonight, he said "aww you probably won't want to use a lot of them", or words to that effect however after seeing them I think they are all  fantastic... I mean come on they are not only great images which show off his amazing talent ,but they also have me in lol... Cheers Ade...Oh and Simon and of course can't forget Ern :)

From here I'll let the photo's do the talking, they do a far better job, wow just checkout the gorgeous colours, the woods are beautiful at this time of year and particularly on a sunny day like we had on Saturday...

copyright @Ade-The-Tog


Wonder if I can get a sponsorship deal with Germolene
WTF? Indeed

What a beautiful day in a beautiful meadow
My catalogue pose (I'm available at reasonable rates lol)

Hey there Horsie!!!
What a friendly guy



  1. As ever, it was a fantastic day with a 2 great mates, you and my boy. On that point I just wanna say a great big thanks to my family and friends for their care and support (both physically and emotionally). I wouldn't be able to do any shoots without you all !!

  2. Nuff said, don't need to add to that :D

  3. Hi
    Im just trying to make teh decision between the Soda Air or the Lapierre zesty 314. My heart says soda, head says zesty!! The zesty is 2kg lighter and thats whats putting me off the soda. So now that youve had it a while how are you finding it going uphill?


  4. Hi Lee

    Just had a look on the spec of the Zesty l see it has a 30 speed setup and like you say its 2kgs lighter. Really it comes down to what your going to be doing. The Soda actualy pedals up hill very well and remember I have a prosthetic leg. My advice is try and get a ride on both bikes, look at what trails your going to be riding. Good luck in whatever you choose.


  5. Well I bought one today so time to man the f@#$ up. Got it for a bargain price of £2200 as well which ill try and remember whenever im dieing trying to get up hills lol.

  6. Cool Lee I'm sure you will love your Soda, yeah it's a tad heavier, but hey that will help you get fitter lol. The bikes built burly and it's cool the way you can tweek that back end depending on what your riding and whether you want it quick and nimble or long and stable. Keep in touch and let me know how you get on


  7. Do you change the travel and length much?

    And have you seen the matching pedals NS do? I have them on order and should have them by wednesday :-) Although Im going to dig the clipless pedals out of the shed and put them on to help on the climbs. Its been a loooong time since ive ridden clipped in so should be interesting!

  8. Hi Lee

    As yet I haven't changed the travel, think I'm running back end long, so nice and stable. Instructions are a bit difficult to understand in brochure, think you have to move brake and rear mech to shorten chainstay.

    Yes I really like the matching pedals,unfortunately I have to clip in at all times otherwise my prosthetic foot keeps coming off the pedal.I run Time Atac's and really like them,took me a long time to get used to being clipped in, what with retraining the old grey matter to the fact I was missing my right leg. Kept going to put it down and falling off lol...

  9. Ha ha yep hats of to you mate. I know another lad with a prosthetic leg who rides with us. I didnt know though until one day i came round a corner and he had crashed and was half way down an embankment! When i asked him what had happened he said "My leg came off" I said "you mean your foot slippedoff the pedal" and he said " leg is over there can you get it please" ha ha Thats when i found out about his leg lol
    Ive just changed the travel to 170 and wheelbase to short as ill be doing some natural riding on it first so will take it from there and see if i want to change anything. Also just ordered a bright green superstar chain guide, troy shorts and a 32t front chainring. Just waiting for the helitape to arrive before riding it.


  10. Meant travel to 150mm^^

  11. Yeah heli tape a good idea I did my bike, it is however a nightmare to put on lol.

    Won't be long before your hitting those trails with a big grin on your face.

    Yeah the only having one leg can be very frustrating, you tend to have to thonk more as its not just the mechanics of the bike but also the prosthetic limb to.