Thursday, May 1, 2014

A few things going on..

A few pretty special things have been going on around here over the past few weeks.

First up, I helped Natural Cycle out by taking some photos of some absolutely gorgeous bikes they built up for one lucky guy here in the city. That's right, one guy ordered both of these. I have to say, Natural Cycle has completely changed in the best possible way over the past few years. I had some less than savoury experiences in that shop over the years, but Graham, Andrew, Will, and the rest of the crew there are doing a lot of things right. If you haven't been there in a while, I suggest you check it out again. It's quickly becoming my favourite local shop again. But I digress..

The first bike is a hand-made, fillet brazed Mark Nobilette. Mark Nobilette is commonly known as the frame builder that makes all of Rivendell's custom-ordered bikes. This frame was pretty wild, and built up super light too. Andrew at Natural spec'd it with primarily US-made parts, including Paul Comp hubs, centre-pull brakes, levers and post; White Industries cranks and pedals, and a few Nitto and Velo Orange bits to boot. I love this bike.

The second bike is a Rivendell-designed Soma, called the San Marcos. It's a beautiful lugged steel frame, spec'd with components made by Suntour (did you know Suntour is manufacturing components again? They are pretty nice!) The build features Silver barcon friction shifters, Honjo hammered aluminum fenders, and some Nitto bits. It built up very nicely, and it was hard to pick a favourite between the two.

The last bit of excitement is my own personal new bike (new to me, purchase used), a Rivendell Atlantis! I've been holding out for a Rivendell for a long time, and had intended to pickup a new Sam Hillborne frame when I visit the Riv shop in June. However, a used Atlantis came up, which is what I really wanted all along, and the price was too good to let it go. It has it's fair share of paint scratches, but no dings or dents or any of that nonsense. The way I look at it, now I don't have to worry about scratching the thing.

Rivendell is a pretty polarizing brand, with a lot of fanatics and a lot of haters. I've found myself somewhat obsessed with the company, it's products, partnerships, and ideals, and am pretty excited to get this built up. I'm missing a few parts, but the build will be based on a rough-road and trail touring setup. Wheels will be Schmidt SONdelux dynamo hub, Phil Wood rear (both disc so I can use them for mountain biking too in the future), 36h Velocity Dyad rims, Nitto Noodle bars in 44cm width, with Nitto stem and seat post. Friction bar-end shifters in a 2x10 arrangement, but beyond that, nothing is nailed down.

The frame is stout, to say the least. This is not a bike you'll pick up with and be impressed by it's lightness, more likely you'll wonder why I bought a bike that weights as much as two. Well who cares really. Chances are my bike+body weight still comes in under most anyway.

The frame fits 55cm tires WITH fenders, which is awesome. It's all lugged construction, with braze-ons for fenders, racks, and three bottle cages. Sweet. It should be fully built up in about a month or so, once the final parts have been sourced. I'm hoping to take this bike on the Muerto Summer Challenge v2 in August.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Winter Bikepacking Excursion

Last weekend I had my first 'real' winter camping trip. By real, I mean there was still a lot of snow on the ground, the temperatures were below zero, and I slept outside without any source of heat other than my own body. It was sweet.

This is the third sub-24 hour overnight bike ride our little group has done. The first was out to Mike's house two october's ago, followed by an early November ride out to the ski shack in Beaudry park. This time, Ian, Daniel, Graham and I headed for the Selkirk campground. The ride was 50km from our meeting place, Little Sister Coffee.

As we prepared to depart, there was a middle-aged women who seemed to be waiting to pickup her daughter from the cafe. She struck up a conversation, most of which was focused on trying to comprehend why anyone in their right mind would ride their bike, in the snow, to Selkirk, and then plan on sleeping outside. But it wasn't from a place of judgement or disdain, it seemed more that our small band of wool-clad weirdos had exposed her to an idea that would otherwise have seemed ridiculous and impossible. She left by saying, most enthusiastically, that we were so cool. Thanks lady! May the wind ever be at your back.

We headed out down Main street, thinking it would be smooth sailing. Several wheel-sized potholes later and a few curses and middle fingers later, we managed to make it out of the city and on to more peaceful terrain. We rambled at a good pace, as the wind was strong and at our backs. In no time, we seemed to be in Selkirk.

The park was very much still covered in snow. In some places, even up to our thighs. This might have been a bad idea.

The ground was littered with empty beer cans and skid marks. When one lives in Selkirk, I can't say that I'd blame kids from being bored and resorting to parking lot donuts. That said, it wasn't something I wanted to be a part of in the middle of the night. I dare say a group of winter cyclo-tourists camping out in the woods would not be met with favourable reactions by some well lubricated red necks.

So in the interest of a more peaceful evening, we pushed our bikes to the back of the park, over the berm, and down onto the riverbank. The snow here was about knee deep, but it was beautiful and quiet. Perfect. One by one, we each cleared the snow so we could setup our tents. The snow was wet and sticky, and Ian quickly realized the easiest way of clearing the snow was to simply make a giant snowman. Cool.

After our tents were clear, we were met with more good news. It seems the camping gods had smiled on us, and we had pitched out tents exactly in the middle of a giant patch of very dry and very dead wood. I think our bonfire raged for a good 4-5 hours, without ever having to walk more than 20-30 feet from the fire for wood.

Sadly Graham had to leave before he could enjoy the spoils of our trip. Many of you likely know by now that he has suffered a terrible tragedy. Graham, if you read this, our thoughts are with you.

The morning after was quiet, as we were all occupied with our own thoughts after hearing the news. You never know what life will throw your way, so get out there and try something new, live it, and do something ridiculous and impossible.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

24 Hours of Studio-Cross

This past weekend saw the 8th annual 24-hour Nordic Cross event. The rules are simple - over the course of 24 hours, each participant tries to earn as many laps as possible. JP outlined a great 16km loop of frozen riverbed and riverbank single track that added up to an average lap time of around 50-55 minutes. The catch of course is that if you'd rather not be outside freezing yer nards off, you can stay inside the home base - in this case the very warm and generously donated Private Ear Recording Studio - where you must watch a music-themed movie instead. Each movie is worth one lap. Fall asleep during a movie = you lose your lap. Fall asleep during the mandatory Big Lebowski midnight lap = DNF the whole weekend.

For those who are good with math, it's immediately obvious that riding instead of watching a movie will earn you twice as many laps in the same amount of time. But riding is hard, and watching movies with your buddies and some beers is easy.

We also had the good fortune of picking the same weekend as CX Worlds, meaning there was a 4am alarm set for the Juniors, and a 8am alarm set for the Elite Men. Elite Women was replayed on Saturday morning, as well as the first few minutes of Willem's race as we couldn't find the full race online.

As the dust settled on what seemed to be a casual weekend of riding bikes, watching movies and sharing a few drinks, it looked as if I had a firm lock on the win with 5 laps and 9 movies. However, days later the whole weekend has descended into scandal as it looks as if there may be a tie with the Dark Lord afterall. Of course, who else could it be? Fingers have been pointed, allegations made, insults hurled and fists thrown and it is still unclear who will be crowned the victor.

I present my sole piece of evidence, the score board. Perhaps this was not photographed at the end of the event, I can't even remember. Looks like court is in session at TNR tonight.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Snow

This weekend I went to the cabin with Cindy and her family. We had nasty blizzard-conditions on the drive out, but waking up the following morning at 7:30 we were rewarded with a dense fog, gentle snow falling, and some beautiful early winter scenes. We spent the morning enjoying the fog and slush building on the lake, and then went for a short hike in the afternoon to a high rock face overlooking the forest.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Crosstastic Report

Crosstastic marked the last regular season cross race of the year, leaving only the Provincial Championships at the Forks next weekend. I overheard a few people at the race talking about what a great season we had this year, and I have to say I agree. At the start of the season I set a personal goal to finish in the top ten each race, and try for a few top five positions. Aside from my Dark Cross placing (14th, though it would have been a top ten if you consider all the racers who were bumped up to A in the next race), I exceeded my goals with two podiums and two more top 5 spots. I was secretly hoping for a win today, but after an overly enthusiastic start, I fell back in the second lap and couldn't get back on Ian's wheel (who is apparently my bitter, bitter, bitter rival).

I'm hoping for a good race on Sunday as it's my last chance to win a provincial medal for a long time. Next year I'll be bumped out of the 23-29 group and into the next tier, putting me up against just a few people who are kinda fast..

Until then, here are a few photos from Crosstastic, a fantastic race and course put on by the FOG Cycling Club.

- Oh also, I'll be sharing some photos from Southern Cross soon as well. All my Altona photos were deleted when I neglected to download them before returning the camera to Cindy, who reformatted the card before a shoot. Oops! Thankfully I was able to recover the files this evening.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

St Malo Ramble Report

This weekend couldn't have been better for cycling. On Saturday I rode out to St Malo on my 'touring bike', aka a Surly Steamroller fitted with some random free rear rack and a grossly overweighted Paul Component front rack. I left Winnipeg at noon and headed toward St Malo via the Actif Epica route, only in reverse. I made a few slight tweaks to the route but by in large stayed on course. I highly recommend the ride, provided it's dry. A lot of the riding is on mud, which is excellent when dry, but I could see it becoming unrideable very quickly with moisture. If you want to see the exact route, I uploaded it here:

My Dad left St Malo at the same time and we met nearly exactly at the halfway point. From there, he turned around and rode the second half of my ride back to St Malo. I setup camp next to the course Olympia was setting up. The campground is closed, so I had the whole place to myself. I was worried about being cold, but in the end I was very comfortable and slept like a rock all night. The total distance was 93.4km, which is a long way to push a single speed with gear strapped on it. I felt it in my legs during the race, but still had a decent finish, coming in at 9th overall. I think I could have done better had I not ridden so far Saturday, but it was way too much fun to have traded it in for a better race result.