Monthly Archives: December 2014

Inov-8 Race Ultra 270

Edited by Wilson Low

One of the racing tips I always come across said that we should avoid shoesusing new kit during a race. I threw this rule out of my closet a long time ago. My belief was that long as I understood the product and what my body can adapt to, it will be just fine – and it has worked for me all these years. I was introduced to Inov-8 about 3 years ago. The first pair I owned was a Roclite 268. The shoes fit me perfectly – wrapping the top of my feet, leaving a roomy toe box! it was much lower in profile to other shoes, and I was hooked to the liberating feeling while running. Friends around me started educating me on shoe construction and especially the Inov-8 concept. It further boosted my confidence that it would be alright to use new kit during a race just because I know what my feet love! The moment I put on the latest 2015 model Race Ultra 270, I knew this pair would have many races ahead with me.

Between the Roclite 268 and Race Ultra 270, I’ve owned and tried the Terroc 308, Roclite 315 and Trailroc 248. I love them all, but each have their pros and cons. The Roclite 268 fit is very snug – the shoes fly with you as you run. The downside was that the sole runs towards the softer end of things: you can feel every single rock (and sand grain) under your feet – it could be tiring to do long distance events in them. The Terroc 308 on the other hand is much stiffer and offers better protection which, i used for some 24hr races. However, the sole is less grippy and versatile as compared to the Roclite series. The Trailroc solves both these problems from the Roclite and Terroc. I was extremely pleased with Inov8 for addressing the real issues runners faced. However, the Trailroc fit posed a problem to me – it is of a straighter cut, which I assumed might lead to Asians’ wider feet feeling funny inside the shoes. Therefore, the idea of the Race Ultra totally blew me away as it offers the ultimate combo of protection, grip and fit .

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My first run with the Race Ultra was in town in rainy weather. I am not going to hide the fact that the soles slip on those wet, smooth tiles. Honestly, I haven’t owned a pair of trail shoes that do not slip on wet, smooth surfaces – so that didn’t concern me much. Despite using much concentration to prevent skidding, i noticed how comfortably they ran under my feet. i would be doing a 97 km-long non-navigational adventure race in Rembau the week I received the shoes. I decided on the new Race Ultra 270 for the race, and due to some hiccup on my cycling shoes, I ended up using them for the long cycling segments as well. The race began with a short and fast road ride before we climbed vertically up a ‘gunung’ which was rocky and technical. The shoes held on to the rock surfaces really well and never once did I slip. The grip on my platform pedals were amazing too. I was pretty worried about being on platform after such a long hiatus, but the shoes definitely helped a great deal. The shoes did its magic again at an off-road duathlon a week later at Muar.

me in inov-8

Race Ultra 270 finished 2014 Muar Strongman Challenge 14th Overall and 1st Female. Photo Credit – Run & Explore

The Race Ultra 270s boast a 4mm drop (forefoot of 10mm and heel of 14mm). i understand most people are still using shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop. I started with 8mm drop and decreased them slowly and it does require a lot of short road runs to become accustomed. The benefit is definitely knowing that I am protecting my knees with better running form and also utilizing my calf muscles better. I use a 0mm drop for road shoes and really love how my feet are working to run and not relying on the shoes to support any poor running form. I was once informed by a physio that the lower the drop the less we promote bad running habits that can lead to injury. I suggest working on the root cause when experiencing discomfort in running instead of relying on equipment to alleviate the pain. For those already used to a low drop: they should love the Race Ultras even more.

The shoe has an improved third-generation version of the ‘Meta Shank’ creates a propelling effect for mid- to fore-foot running form. It uses Tri-c compound (the same on the Trailroc series) that offers good protection and durability. It also comes with attachment points for a clip-on gaiter, thus avoiding the fuss of bulky and loose traditional gaiters. Okay, so locally we do not usually require gaiters, but we have seen increasing numbers of runners going overseas for their runs and we know how nasty some plants are. A pair of gaiters will prevent unwanted stuff inside the shoes, especially on a long run. The gaiters made by Inov-8 are reputed to offer sufficient protection and are extremely lightweight. I have yet to try a pair, but am hoping that I can soon for my next overseas trail run.

Key Power International is the official Inov-8 distributor in Singapore. I believe the stocks will be in the shop soon – so do check them out for another great year on the trails!

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Skirts on Trail

so i once thought  writing about bicycles as a career but it never materialize – which in a way i am grateful because my current job gives me 99.9 % fulfillment. so i submitted the article below in 2012 after the interview but they never got back. the matter still concern me mainly for two reasons:

1. i hardly have friends my age (let alone female) riding with me and some days i really dread riding with experienced riders. i do not believe that i have to clear all the features (although it does make me really happy) but sometimes i just want to roll around and be stupid. besides the sport is so awesome i just want to share!

2. i still feel that men like to be the ‘father’ of the sport. i really appreciate the stuff i learnt from them but some can be forceful to impose their ideas on new (or female) riders. my boyfriend made similar mistakes too – he enjoyed helping me on bike related matter but neglecting that i could learn and do it myself eventually.

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Photo Credit – SingaporeMTB.com

When mountain biking gained traction two decades back, the number of female riders was only a handful. Fast forward to the 21st century, female mountain bikers are still uncommon. On the other hand, road biking and even the commuter community are seeing so many more females such that skirts on bikes is no longer a rare sight. Research done by the Outdoor Industry Association shows that while road biking is mostly gender balanced; mountain biking remains largely participated by males. So, where are the ladies in the trails?

Female mountain bikers may be a small community but not without their prominence. As the mountain biking scene awed at the World 24 hour solo mountain bike champion Jason English’s endurance and speed, there are female equivalents – Jessica Douglas and Rebecca Rusch who clinched the same title just as effortlessly. These women riders act as an inspiration for fellow ladies to overcome the common fear and resistance towards this sport. Asia, being often impeded by its traditions and culture, is definitely still a long way behind Australia, Europe and the States in attracting female mountain bikers. However, we have from our own backyard Risa Suseanty – gold medalist in South-East Asian downhill categories who finished top twenty in Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cup 2009. Risa has displayed resilience and strength and proven that mountain biking can simply be done.

In September 2010, International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures sponsored a survey on women and mountain biking. When asked what is the main factor that holds them back from going on a mountain bike, more than sixty percent of women responded that mountain biking is viewed as being too hard core. This is a major misconception as mountain biking, like any other sport, requires techniques. Once having understood and acquired the appropriate skills, anybody is able to maneuver their bikes freely. Being well-prepared also helps keep injuries to a minimum.

There is also an inherent perception that mountain biking is masculine. Mountain biking is indeed male dominated but has no basis why women should not get muddy in the trails.  The same survey also concluded that nearly fifty percent of female mountain bikers were introduced or encouraged to this sport by their partners. Therefore, male mountain bikers have kept an open-mind and been receptive to female riders. “In most places around the world where we ride, we’re used to seeing a lot of guys on the trail,” states Mike Brcic, founder and president of Sacred Rides, “and we’d like to see more women”. The initiative to get more women riding is commendable but should not be another avenue for men to condescend women.  New female riders should not be embarrassed about falling behind the group or voicing their opinions. For besides speed and adrenaline, mountain biking is also an avenue of friendship and bonding. 

While it remains true that women need to step up to overcome the hurdle, manufacturers and the media could also help in softening the image of mountain biking. Hitting the trails does not necessarily mean you have to become the next big star such as Jess or Risa. If there is an average Joe riding, there can be the average Josephine riding for leisure as well. Going forward, there should be more products targeting the non-competitive and female recreational riders. That being said, going pink to say ‘we understand you’ is outdated. Color choices can be alluring but the key focus should be creating comfortable products to entice the ladies. Women are calling for increased customization, better fit, and lower prices—and of the media, they are asking for ordinary women to be featured as sports leaders and role models.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘a woman is like a tea bag that you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water’. It is about time for women to get on mountain bikes and to ride on to amazing places they’d never once imagined they’d be.