Off-road for the Off-season: with Will Brown

Used to riding the Endurance SL R series for Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling, Will Brown thought he’d make the most of this year’s lack of racing by taking his training off-road with the Ribble HT Ti. In Off-road for the Off-season, we catch up with him to see how he’s finding it.

A bit of a mud lover.

“Oh a long travel Hardtail, don’t see many of them”. I’ve heard that said a lot this summer, but I honestly couldn’t think of a more versatile bike after a summer of riding.

So let’s rewind a bit. With the racing calendar pretty much torn up at the start of lockdown, Ribble Cycles offered us riders at Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling the chance to ride some more of their range.

Beauty and the Beast.

As a bit of a mud lover myself, I jumped at the opportunity to try out the Ribble HT Ti. A stunning Titanium frame, 150mm fork, and Eagle 12-speed are just a few highlights on the spec sheet. So it’s certainly not a bike to be turned down!

The Bike arrived 95% built, all I had to do was simply twist and fix in the handlebars, drop in a wheel and stick some pedals on! Nothing too tricky! Straight out of the door and down to the woods.

Home made trails.

Most trail centres were closed but luckily, living in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors, there are tracks aplenty. Plus, a few local lads took the “no work” opportunity to build a trail centre just a 5-minute ride away!

I instantly just loved how the HT carries speed. Point it downhill, hold on and you’ll be amazed at what it can handle. I’m definitely well outside my skill set before the bike is! Plus, when you reach the bottom you’ve got a nice, nippy hardtail to ride back up again. None of this saggy full-sus setup!

I managed to get to Hamsterley Forest Trail Centre with Rich Jones, the HT Ti being perfect for the job. And I honestly don’t think I stopped laughing and smiling all day! Coming from a background of road cycling and being used to stiff nippy bikes means the hardtail suits me well. It feels natural, whereas full-suspension bikes feel alien to the extreme. I can swap from the HT to the Endurance SL R road bike day in day out, no bother.

Fun & surprisingly effective training.

I’ve been trying to ride the HT at least twice a week to mix up training and keep it interesting. With the lack of racing this year, there was the potential that my usual training regime could become boringly stale. Thankfully it’s helped to keep things fun and surprisingly effective.

I genuinely can’t believe how much spending some more time offroad has brought on my bike handling. My road bike now feels like the grippiest thing in the world! I’ll definitely be keeping a day or two a week free to ride the HT through winter. With the hope of getting some enduro races in next year alongside the road season.

So, 2021 the year of hope! We’re still unsure what the season will look like, but I’m certainly ready to jump on every opportunity that arises. I’m hoping for a proper crit season too as that’s one of my major goals. Followed by some road racing and trying to develop on the road captain role I’ve been allocated a few times.

To anyone thinking of trying something different! DO IT! It’s been a blast! Don’t worry about winter either… you soon warm up!!

Catch you all on the Road or Mud
Will


Army veteran and Warrior Games double Gold Medallist Dan Hardy tells us about his 10x10x10 challenge for Help for Heroes, 10 Ironmans in 10 days in 10 cities! Read about here.


Winter need not be a time to put the bike away and train indoors, why not winterise your bike and enjoy the benefits of some outdoor training?

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