Tuesday, 28 October 2014

What's the difference between Shimano E-type and E2-type front derailleurs?

It's frustrating when companies sell you things that look the same, but give them different names.

So, in order to help others in the same situation, here's what I've found out about the E-type and E2-type bottom brackets from Shimano.
  • E-type front derailleurs come with bottom bracket back plates
  • E2-type front derailleurs don't come with a bottom bracket back plate
  • Both are specific to the size of the chain-rings on the chain-set (with room for marginal change)
  • Both have the same mounting holes (if you remove the back plate from the E-type)

S3 direct mount

Curiously, E2-type derailleurs are also known under the direct mount standard 'S3'. They both work with the same mounting holes and designs. As will a newer E-type with the back plate removed.

I'm yet to find any evidence than an E-type is different from an E2-type (except for the back plate). I would however recommend you purchase a compatible E2-type as there has to be a reason for the different naming convention, right? Guys?

Technical diagram

Below is a Shimano technical diagram showing the different versions from a standard front derailleur through each of the 'E' type configurations.
  • No mount
  • E with bottom bracket mount
  • E2 mount
  • E with no bottom bracket mount

Hope this helps someone!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Greensand marathon 2014 race report

I had counted the runners who had gone past me and I was in 7th place at the half-way turn. All was going well and I started to hope for a top 10 finish. I pushed hard and started putting distance between the 8th and 9th duo behind me. It couldn't have been going any better.

Oh, Tits!

And then, well, then it all went tits up. The image below and to the right shows an additional 270 foot vertical 'detour' (down and then back up) I took because of an errant ticker tape marker which had come of a tree. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill and realised my mistake, and then sprinted (which was doubly stupid) back to the top, I had to be placed in the 20s at least. I saw people I had passed a long while back and whilst not upset or angry, I was a little gutted.

Dashed were my hopes of a strong placing and feeling the pain from the uphill effort, I settled into the idea of damage control and to just get the job done.

I still felt great at this point, and was bounding along taking 'scalps' along the way, but the niggling pain in my groin muscle coupled with the burning in my un-trained legs (yup, again no training. I'll learn one day) slowed me down a short while before Leith Hill.

The offending hill
It was around this point that I met a lovely bubbly lady, whom I sadly didn't catch the name of, but we got chatting and she became a good companion for a few miles (I now know that this was Nina Campbell, 2nd lady). She was really strong and stayed positive the entire time. My legs however were getting worse and I saw her disappear out of view as I answered natures text. I was then met by another lady (Julia Donovan, 3rd lady) who was going at a similar pace and using her as a 'running bunny*' I tagged along for a while. And on a side note, I could only wish to have calves like hers, sculpted would be the best description! Anyway, things were going well, but the pain was intensifying and every few miles meant a short stop to stretch out the legs. I lost the bunny to her dust at the final checkpoint and met a chap and both jogged it home chatting about the hardships of the day and other silly hilly events, like the Picnic and the Midsummer Munro (both by Trionium events).

By the finish, I'd forgotten about the top 10 hope and accepted my fate. It was only a hope after all. Though, running with others and enjoying the chatting was just as good a highlight as a top spot would have been.
Me with Nina, 2nd lady
coming up to Leith Hill

The course

I was expecting deep puddles like last year, but nothing of significant depth was found. There were a few boggy parts along the route, but I only actually had trouble running on the road with my trail orientated Brooks Cascadias, where I kept slipping running up a hill. Regular trainers would have done just as well across the course.

Leith Hill is probably one of the highlights, but you never have time to stop and enjoy the view. It's the same with all of the other view points. I really should invest in a camera that I can snap in a few seconds and then carry on running. But anyway, at Leith Hill and other places it's great to see a lot of people out and around there cheering you on.

I was surprised by the number of mountain bikers out and about. There were hundreds of the buggers. As a fellow biker myself, I'll certainly have to consider coming back for the trails.

Oh, and the 'worst' part of the course is the last hill at the end. The one with the steps. Last year I ran from the bottom to the top with no problem, but this year I started my ran up and did two steps on the stairs before my calf spasmed and put an end to all that bravado.

Home for tea, medals and a carrot
Firmly put in my place, I jogged the final sections and came home with, and I didn't get their name either, the chap I'd be chatting with for the past few miles.

Would I do it again?

Yes, It's a great event. The camaraderie, the organisation and the challenging trail all add up to a good value fun event. It'll definitely be on my list for next year. This was actually my second Greensand marathon the other being last years rain soaked character building slog.
Greensand marathon

Thanks to Rob and the marshals

Yet again, another great event put on by Rob. The team did a great job and the marshals and helpers all along the route were cheery and encouraging - A big thank you! Also, thanks also for the great medal at the end, the t-shirt, cap, and of course, the carrot!

Garmin data for the nerds.

*Running bunny. A person who is running at the pace you want to run at and requires you to merely follow / keep-up.

Photo credits to Susannah Sutton and Laureda Tirepied.

10 reasons why I loved Afan Forest's Y Wal (The Wall) trail

I live in Berkshire, UK and regularly have the pleasure of riding the Swinley Forest mountain bike trails. I ride the blue with the dog and the red for myself. I mix it up between a single speed and a 5 inch trail bike, and un-expectantly, the speed at which I get around for both is averagely the same.

They're capable bikes and when you get to know a trail well enough you can almost ride them blindfolded. But there's only a certain number of times you can ride a trail in different ways, bikes or conditions before things start to go stale. And that's why, on a cold and wet day in October, I decided to head to the colder and wetter place of Afan Forest in Wales.

Top 10 reasons why I loved the Y Wal (The Wall) trail

  1. It starts easy. There's a bit of a climb and then down onto an open hillside. Perfect warm-up
  2. The boring parts are simple. To go down, you need to go up. And fortunately for Y Wal, the ups are mainly on wide smooth(ish) tracks, that although make ascending a tad boring, you get to the downs so much more quickly
  3. The terrain changes. I went from open land, to mud, to gravel, to leaves, to rock, to soft groud and back to rock, which offers variety and keeps things interesting
  4. The smile on my face got bigger all the way around. I loved the first little bit, I genuinely did (honestly, it's the most basic bit ever), but it got me started and then I loved the next bit more than the first and then the next bit more than the first and secon... you get the point. The last part of the trail, the Graveyard, was easily the best bit of the whole ride
  5. If you go mid-week, like I did (a Thursday morning) it's utterly empty. I didn't over-take anyone, didn't have anyone over-take me and in fact the only people I saw, except for two groups of mountain bikers trying to solve a mechanical issue by gathering around and staring at it, was only the occasional dog walker along a track
  6. Getting there is really easy. Get to the M4 > Go to junction 40 > Follow signs to Afan Forest Visitor Centre > Ride
  7. The trails start right from the car park too and they're sign-posted so there's no faff or searching to get started. Costs only £1 to park for the whole day too
  8. The trail is a loop. If you want to go around again, you can turn back onto the trail before heading back to the car park and bypass the most basic part of the trail
  9. There are no jumps along the trail. It's always a challenge to ride a new 'red' trail. Does this mean jumps and drop offs? Will I fall and be all on my own for the foxes and owls to devour? For the Y Wal trail, no, not at all. There are places where you can jump, but that's only if you make the concerted effort to launch yourself off rocks and trail features
  10. The trails are named. At Swinley, all the trails have names and I have no idea what they are; it's only for those in the know (or probably a 5 minute Google search). At Y Wal, and presumably across all of Afan Forest, the trails are sign-posted which means I know where I am should I come a cropper
The views were amazing before the fog rolled in

Will I go back?

For sure. Next time though I'll probably ride the W2 trail, which is a combination of the Y Wal trail and White's Level. It's graded black, but that's because of the duration. It's essentially two reds back to back.

Garmin trace of Y Wal

Trail guide

Download the Y Wal trail guide from the Afan Forest Park website.


I took my 910XT with me and recorded both loops separately. Here's the data for those interested.

Lap 1 and lap 2 of Y Wal, Afan Forest.