Hello Sedona!

28 02 2009
Riding Sedona

Riding Sedona

Our first day in Sedona delivered the yummy tight singletrack goodness that we were looking for…=-)  No major climbs – just rolling desert singletrack smack in the middle of town – awesome!

Rather than try and follow a specific trail we just grabbed a laminated map [as well as a couple double espressos...=-)] at the Bike & Bean then rode like mad without a care in the world until we were so beat we could hardly turn the pedals!

You can see our Sedona photos on Flickr here.

Kurt getting his Techno on...

Kurt getting his Techno on...





Porcupine Rim Vista

27 02 2009
Another fine Moab viewpoint...

Another fine Moab viewpoint...





Getting into the groove…

27 02 2009

 

I could get used to this kind of riding...

I could get used to this kind of riding...

Our time in Moab is coming to an end just as we were getting used to the crazy technical red rock extravaganza this town has to offer.  Spend enough time here and insane moves become normal and your riding skills get honed to a fine edge.

 

We’ll be on the road to Sedona today in search of flowing buff singletrack, but we’ve got a return date with Moab when the upper sections of Porcupine Rim Trail are open and we can rip all 50kms+ of this masterpiece.  It’s been named downhill trail of the year by Bike Magazine and we can see why….awesome!

We’ve added new photos to the Flickr Stream from the trip in Moab.





Seeing Red…

26 02 2009
and loving it...

and loving it...

more ride photos posted on Flickr here.





Swagman XC 2 Bike Rack

26 02 2009
Swagman Rack and 2 SC Nomads on our van.

Swagman Rack and 2 SC Nomads on our van.

When Bob let me borrow his awesome Road Trek travel van we realized we needed a way to haul our bikes and didn’t own a rack that would work.  My first call to a rack speciality shop was a bit of a shock as 2 bike receiver racks were in the $400-$1000CDN range – more than I wanted to spend on a 1 month trip.

I ended up surfing the MEC website and saw that they sold a Swagman 2 bike reciver rack for $143CDN.  Great price, but I was worried it was a piece of junk and hanging nearly $10K of bikes off it would be too risky.

Bikes are securley held by an upper "arm" that adjusts to fit any frame.

Bikes are securely held by an upper "arm" that adjusts to fit any frame.

Given the reasonable price I figured it was worth a shot so I grabbed one and we assembled it.  Our first impression was that it would work, but we were worried the bikes & rack might bounce/rock quite a bit.  We had some ideas how to mitigate that, but decided it was going to work for us.  One issue we had was the van’s spare tire extended quite far from the rear of the vehicle and we needed the rack to extend far enough out for the bikes to clear the tire.  Kurt got a hold of Swagman Racks and they sent us a extended receiver mount designed to hold 4 bikes.  We simply mounted out two bikes at the rear of the mount and got loads of clearance.  The extension was $50 so our total investment was $200 so far.

with the extension in place the bikes clear the tire easily.

with the extension in place the bikes clear the tire easily.

On the road we were pleasantly surprised how stable the rack was.  It didn’t move much at all and after several thousand KMs were are quite happy with our economy rack.

One nice feature with this rack is that it can adjust to fit just about any size of bike and any frame design.  The tires sit in two mounts that can slide side to side depending on the bike’s wheelbase and the upper mount slides vertically to adjust to the height of the bikes top tube.





Dumb Questions…

25 02 2009
Why do you need so many bikes?

Why do you need so many bikes?

Fairly often I get asked why I need so many bikes – both in real life and online.  A lot of the time it’s said in jest, but some of the time people get downright snarky with me as if I paid for my bikes from their kid’s college fund.  I generally ignore these questions and move on with my life as fast as possible, but occasionally I get tweaked and ruminate on the stupidity and irony of the question.  I had one of the later moments yesterday and came up with my “Top 10 Witty Comebacks!”:

  1. Why do you need so much furniture [ie. sofas, chairs, dining room tables etc...]?
  2. Why do you need 2 cars?
  3. Why do you need new cars?
  4. Why do you need 3 TVs?
  5. Why do you need big screen HD TVs?
  6. Why do you need a home theater system and 17 speakers?
  7. Why do you need cable/satellite service for your TVs?
  8. Why do you need golf clubs, skis, snowboards, etc?
  9. Why do you need to go to the mall so often?
  10. Why are you so out of shape?

I will never argue that I don’t have way more bikes than I need or can even ride properly, but when I look around me at the stuff people buy and the things they spend their time on I don’t, for the most part, see objects or activities that make any more sense than owning 7-10 bicycles.

I also don’t go around bugging people about their life choices.  You want to have 3 big screen HD TVs, satelite and digital cable TV service as well as a 17 speaker surround sound home theatre with heated electronically operated lazy-boy recliners upgraded with built in beer fridges???…cool…enjoy…I’m too busy riding bike, working on my bikes, reading about bikes and writing about bikes to care…=-)





Dreaming of green…

25 02 2009
I can't wait to be riding my Tikit through long grass in the sunshine!

I can't wait to be riding my Tikit through long grass in the sunshine!





Moab

24 02 2009
The wonderfully wacky world of Slickrock!

The wonderfully wacky world of Slickrock!

So far we are having loads of fun in Moab.  My hotel’s internet connection is awful and I can’t post to this blog easily so I’ll just point you to my Flickr Photos from the trip.

Kurt enjoys a spectacular view on the Slickrock Trail...

Kurt enjoys a spectacular view on the Slickrock Trail...





Tikiteer Wear

24 02 2009
Dressed for a cool drizzly day on the Tikit...

Dressed for a cool drizzly day on the Tikit...

Here is what I’d typically wear for urban riding.  It was cool in the AM with a light rain.

  • Helmet: I generally don’t wear a helmet for casual city riding.  You can’t see it, but I had a baseball hat on.  If it’s chilly I’ll ride in a toque.
  • Torso: A lightweight wicking T-shirt keeps me dry.  You can get them in more stylish versions so you don’t look like you just left a 10K race.  On top I wore a light soft shell which blocks the wind, sheds snow and light rain while allowing lots of moisture to get out – key for hard biking efforts.
  • Legs: I wear wicking boxers day to day so I always have them on. I love capris because they adapt to a wide range of temperatures and look more classy than shorts if your plans change and you have to look respectable.
  • Feet: Light-weight running socks inside some trail runners.
  • Hands: nothing.
  • Face: Just sunglasses.
  • Luggage: Messenger bag – the trendy way to carry your junk.




Old Skool

23 02 2009
Bike Magazine Dec 2004

Bike Magazine Dec 2004

My last season of hardcore MTBing was 2004.  I did a bit trail riding in 2005, but for the most part I was switching over to the dark-side of road riding in all it’s forms.  I didn’t realize it, but I guess when I saw the end approaching I stashed a few of the best issues of Bike Magazine and Dirt Rag in my office. There they sat forgotten until just a few days ago when I found them again.

With a renewed interest in riding dirt I figured they’d be worth another read.  I was right.  I must have only kept the best of the best as just about every issue is great.  It’s funny reading about MTBing from the perspective of 2004.  Back then 4″ of travel was all mountain and 2.5″ of travel was XC.  Now 4″ is XC and 6″ is all mountain.  36mm forks were just making their debut in 2004.

What I like most of all aren’t the out dated gear reviews or bike showdowns, but rather the road trip and destination articles.  It’s nice to see that no matter how technology changes the spirit of exploration and the joy of riding sweet singletrack doesn’t change.





Optical Illusion

22 02 2009
Bike Magazine Dec 2004

Image: Bike Magazine Dec 2004

I hate those 3-D optical illusion puzzles that people have.  You know the ones where you are supposed to stare at a jumble of weird colours for an hour and try not to focus so you see a flying dragon in 3-D…lame!  Well I just found a bike related optical illusion puzzle in an old issue of Bike Magazine. There is supposed to be a bike in the image above.  I’ve tried staring at it…looking at it with my peripheral vision..blurring my focus…everything and so far I haven’t seen a bicycle.

I just wanted to make sure this wasn’t some kind of practical joke so if anyone sees a bike let me know….I’ll keep trying!





Santa Cruz Nomad

21 02 2009

2009 SC Nomad

2009 SC Nomad

Not one to hold back when times call for action I followed through on my Lazy Stimulus promise and reinvested the proceeds from my Challenge Fujin SL into a new bike.  The Santa Cruz Nomad has been one of my dream bikes for years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to feel worthy of such a fine bike and spend the $$$.  Well I’m turning 40, going on a 4 week MTB trip and have some $$$ from a selling a bike so I figured there was never going to be a better time.  Getting a smoking deal from Bow Cycle and Kurt buying his own Nomad didn’t hurt either!….=-)

My Nomad is spec’d as pictured above with:

I used to own a Santa Cruz Heckler until it was stolen…=-(….so it feels nice to return to the Santa Cruz family…=-)





Got Buff?

20 02 2009
Getting Buff doesn't mean a gym membership anymore!

Getting Buff doesn't mean a gym membership anymore!

When a product claims to do 10 different things well and suggest it will become an indispensable component of your outdoors lifestyle I cringe.  I’ve been disappointed so many times, yet as gear reviewer and optimist I continue to try things out to see if I might just be wrong.  Yeah that makes me a pessimistic optimist or some such non-sense!

buff1

When I heard about Buffs and read their marketing spew I was intrigued while at the same time I couldn’t believe that this product was as useful as they made it out to be.  Would I really wear it as a hat?

buff2

Fast forward 3-4 years and I own 3 Buffs…most of my friends have a Buff.  I take a Buff on just about ever single outdoors trip I go on – even in the summer. I’ve used it for just about every single application that appears on the packaging – all except a hair band for my pony tail and that’s mostly because I don’t have a pony tail! Heck I’ve used it for lots of other purposes the manufacturer doesn’t even mention like an eye shade when I’m trying to nap during the day on a bike tour.

What’s a Buff?  It’s just a tube of stretchy microfibre that you can wear a variety of ways. I’ve used it for all of the following:

  • around my neck/face to keep it warm
  • as a hat
  • as a head band
  • around my neck only to keep me warm when it’s not cold enough to cover my face
  • as an eye shade
  • as a balaclava when I need to cover my neck, face and head
  • as a handkerchief to blow my nose
  • I use to clean my sunglasses
  • wrap around my sunglasses when I need to store them in my pack
  • around my mouth and nose as a dust mask
  • tied around a cut until I could take care of it properly at camp
  • coffee filter in camp
  • to wipe down my bike saddle after it rained
Get buff with your friends.

Get buff with your friends.

I’ll be taking two with me to the desert mountain biking…love ‘em!

Where to buy ‘em:

Buffs are ideal for campground peeping toms!

Buffs are ideal for campground peeping toms!





Thorn B2B Tandem…???

19 02 2009





Titec H-Bars on Pugsley & Big Dummy

19 02 2009
Titec H Bar

Titec H Bar

I’ve had Titec H-bars on my Surly Big Dummy since last spring and used them on my Pugsley for a a couple months.  On the Big Dummy they are pretty much ideal.  They give you a wide hand position to control heavy loads as well as a few other options to give you the ability to switch things up on longer rides.  The stretched out “aero” position is nice for long road rides or tours.  I think I’d like some of Jeff Jones new variants on the H-bar even better, but I can’t quite allow myself to spend $500-$600 on a set of handle bars.  I do hope some of these designs get licensed by Titec and we see $100 aluminum versions someday soon.

Pugnacious H Bars

Pugnacious H Bars

I’m not as sold on the H-bars for the Pugsley.  On one hand if you are cruising, touring or generally riding around on non-technical trails these bars are excellent.  However, as I ride more technical mountain bikey trails I’m not as fond of them.  I think a standard MTB riser bar you give me more control and let me throw the bike around better.  This is mostly due to the fact that with my Alfine shifter and Avid brake levers I can’t brake effectively from the far outside of the bars [cross bar forces you to mount the brake lever well ahead of the grips and shifter] so I end up moving my hands inboard to reach the brakes reducing my comfort and leverage. Jeff Jones doesn’t recommend Ergon Grips on these bars and in fact I don’t think he’d be stoked about my setup at all so perhaps that’s the issue not the bars themselves.  Having said that I love the Ergon Grips and Alfine so my options are limited.  I’m not quite at the point where I care enough to actually swap in some riser bars to confirm my theory, but I might get around to it this summer.  One way to make my H-bars work better on the Pugsley is to get the brake levers closer to the grips.  The Avid v-brake levers on there now are non-adjustable.  I’ve got some Shimano SLX hyraulic disc brakes waiting to get installed. They have an easy reach adjustment so I’ll be able to dial things in a bit.  The riser bars will give me more control, but at the expense of all those comfy hand positions so it’s not a clear cut decision.





Two Thumbs Up for Turner Bikes

18 02 2009
Turner RFX All Mountain

Turner RFX All Mountain

Found on MTBR.com:

“Recently I have been asked if Turner Bikes are warranted if they are purchased on E Bay or from ‘unauthorized’ dealers. Obviously these riders do not know much about Turner Bikes customer service and I would appreciate ya’ll sharing this info.

Of course we will warrant a frame bought anywhere from anyone as long as it is within the warranty period.Save your receipt. Our warranty is also transferable with a used frame, all the second buyer has to do is obtain the original sales receipt for that frame from the original purchaser, warranty transferred.

We of course offer a $500 trade in on any age Turner Bike in any condition to anyone that has it regardless of having a receipt. If it is a genuine Turner, it will get genuine service of one kind or another.

Our commitment is to the owner of a Turner frame and keeping them on the trail as cost effectively as possible.

David Turner”

I have never owned a Turner, but this attitude has just generated a great deal of good will towards the brand and when I’m in the market for a new bike I’ll give them extra special consideration.  Nicely done Turner…=-)





2 more sleeps…

18 02 2009
then red rocks here I come!

then red rocks here I come!





Helmets for my arms and legs…=-)

18 02 2009

I'm gonna look like Robocop!

I'm gonna look like Robocop!

My buddy Kurt has a lower risk threshold than me and often rides with a full face helmet, arm and leg pads – even in town.  I’m amazed at the amount of gear he straps on to ride a bike.  I don’t know if it’s the fact I’m getting older or that I’m about to embark on what will likely be a pretty intense session of technical mountain biking, but I’ve been feeling under protected lately.

I decided I had better gear up for the rocky desert trails to come.  So I got myself a set of arm and leg pads.  I even tried on a full face helmet, but it felt so restrictive that I put it back.  I figured if I changed my mind they’d be selling ‘em in Moab and Sedona so I can just buy one there.

I’m not sure what it will be like to ride with pads, but I’m prepared to give it a week of feeling odd to give myself time to adapt.  I’ll probably be glad to have them the first time I fly off my bike and land on some sharp rocks.

BTW – for those in Canada MEC has bike armour on clearance at the moment – nice stuff – great price!





Bern Helmets

17 02 2009
Bern Brentwood Helmet w/ Visor

Bern Brentwood Helmet w/ Visor

If you read my blog regularly you know that I don’t wear a helmet often when riding around the city or on tour.  However, I do consider a helmet a good idea for more risky forms of cycling like mountain biking.  Based on past experiences I know the mountain biking in Utah and Arizona can be technically challenging and rocky so a helmet is a logical conclusion when falling off my bike is inevitable.

I’ve got a couple Giro helmets.  One two years old and the other at least 5 years old.  They are both in decent shape and nice for hot days since they are so well vented.  They are not so great when it’s cold out because you need to block all those vents to try and keep the chilly air from giving you brain freeze.  They are soft foam helmets which are quite delicate and need to be handled with a lot of care.

I have used an old hard shell snowboarding helmet while Pugsley biking this winter.  It’s very tough and unfortunately not vented at all so your get uber hot in a high output sport like cycling.  I’ve decided it’s just too warm at temps above -20 deg C.  A hard shell helmet with some reasonable vents would be ideal for this time of year.

Bern comes to the rescue with a line of affordable hard shell helmets that can be configured for cycling or  with a warm liner for snow sports.  I picked up a Bern Brentwood. It comes with a detachable visor that I love and actually works a lot like a baseball cap – something I’ve tried, but never been comfortable under my helmet.  It has enough venting for late winter/spring riding.  I’ll probably go back to my Giros when summer finally arrives.

You can buy them at MEC and at REI.





Share the Road

17 02 2009
Russ Roca

Photo: Russ Roca

Russ Roca’s idea for a share the road public service announcement motivated me to rework a classic into an ode to the bike commuters that fight the good fight – battling their way to and from work each day.

To those about to ride I salute you!…=-)





Epic Bike Courier

17 02 2009

Epic Designs

Photo: Epic Designs

I’ve got a Pugsley frame bag on the way from Eric at Epic Designs.  I’m happy that my bag will make its way to the post office strapped to a Pugsley. That seems awfully appropriate…=-)

BTW – Eric has a nice post about spectating the Sustina 100 race for those who dig AK snow biking action. I could see myself doing something similar so I could cheer people on and enjoy the race vibe without having to actually do any racing…lol..slightly lame I know…=-)





The Lazy Stimulus Plan

16 02 2009
Together we can make a difference!

Together we can make a difference!

Times are tough – no doubt!  What does a patriotic bicycle loving citizen do at a moment of crisis like this?  Does he stockpile his resources and watch others drown?  Does she sit on a mattress stuffed with greenbacks and let others do the hard work of turning things around?  I say no – hell no!

Let’s band together and save the bike industry in particular while helping the economy in general.  Go out right now and buy a sweet high end bike – the dream bike you’ve always wanted.  Try and buy it from a US/Canadian company like Bike Friday or Santa Cruz or Rocky Mountain or De Kerf…buy it through your LBS so they get a cut.  Then ride your new bike with pride.  You’ve walked the walk – not talked the talk.

We can choose to fall alone or unite and conquer this latest challenge arm in arm.  Pumps raised high in defiance – tire levers brandished with pride – cranks spinning at a steady 90rpm.

And when the smoke settles…the world is back on track…the cowardly will come out with their bags of money and sheepishly join the party.  But, word will spread how cyclists put fear aside and did their part.  Mothers will tell their kids…”…ride a bike my child…I want you to grow up and make me proud.”

When our society is tested let’s show ‘em that cyclists aren’t taking up room on the road – we’re leading the way.

Pedal power baby!  That’s how we roll…=-)





Swiss Alpine Bike Route

16 02 2009
700kms of Swiss Alpine Mountain Biking Goodness...

700kms of Swiss Alpine Mountain Biking Goodness…

The orange line above is the 666km [who picked that distance!!] Alpine Bike Route in Switzerland.

“Switzerland’s first national mountain-bike route leads from the Engadine valley to the Rhone – 666 devilishly challenging kilometres across the Alps. It’s the world’s longest – and one of the toughest.

Alpine Bike is the name of the thrilling new trail from Scuol to Aigle. National Mountain-Bike Route No. 1 is a big challenge, even for athletic and technically skilled riders. In 16 stages and over 666 demanding kilometres, it traverses the mighty Swiss Alps. In the first few hours, riders soon get a taste of the drama to come: the route snakes through the Swiss National Park into the picturesque Val Mora. A gentle, leisurely path – pictured left – soon gives way to a demanding single-track trail threading through the timeless landscape. The Septimer pass is another highlight, but many more follow. Surselva, the Susten pass, Kleine and Grosse Scheidegg at the foot of the celebrated North Face of the Eiger, the Saanenland, the Col des Mosses: the trail passes through the finest mountain scenery in Switzerland. But even if you’re in great shape, you can always take a break, by hopping on a train or bus to the end of the day’s stage – all can be reached by public transport.”

Big Mountain Adventures

I’ve got a Swiss passport and haven’t been back to Europe for ages.  My last trip was a paragliding adventure over a decade and a half ago.  I’ve been itching to go back for a visit and have been looking for the right reason.  I’m not much of a sight seeing tourist so a mountain bike tour sounds awesome. With the short distances between services in Switzerland I’d be able to carry a light pack and just ride my butt off while enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

bm

Downhill Mountain Biking in the Swiss Alps from chris winter on Vimeo.

Kurt and I booked two tickets to Geneva for late June/early July 2009.  So we’ll report back on what’s shaking in the Swiss Alps…=-)  I’m going to get the Alpine Bike route guidebook so we can see what we think.  We may tackle it or we may decide to explore some specific areas of the Swiss Alps in more detail.  Tough choices, but someone’s got to do it…=-)

BTW – if 666kms is not enough you can also ride the 455km Panorama Bike Route.

Sterling Lorence - Bike Magazine 2004

Photo: Sterling Lorence – Bike Magazine 2004

My inspiration to do research was this 2004 Bike Magazine article by Mitchell Scott.

Big Mountain Adventures

Photo & Video: Big Mountain Adventures

Click on the image above for a sweet Swiss MTB video – I love the soundtrack…=-)

For guided MTB tours in the Swiss Alps check out Big Mountain Adventures.  If the dates had worked out I’d be signing up for their Cloudraker all mountain trip. I’ve never paid for a guided trip before, but I can see the value in getting to ride high quality trails you’d never find on your own – plus when you look at the cost of traveling in Switzerland their trip fees are very reasonable.





I’m gifted!

15 02 2009

catRegular readers of this blog have been aware for some time that my ability to spell and grammar check is poor.  Frankly it’s getting worse.  I feel bad about this since I don’t want you to think I don’t give a damn about the quality of these posts – I do!  The problem is I’m severely dyslexic and have an awful case of attention deficit disorder. No joke.   I’ll use spell check & re-read a post 5 times and somehow manage to miss 4 obvious errors.  I can’t fully explain it.  I literally don’t see anything wrong with the post so I publish it only to notice a week later I goofed several times.  I do go back and correct posts, but most of you have read the post with its flaws and moved on by that time.

I’m sorry. I hate reading poorly executed blog posts myself so I feel your pain.  I just wanted to let you know that I do put a lot  of effort into the quality of these posts however, my brain has issues!  I can read “eno” 5 times in a row and my brain sees “one”..bizarre, but true.

If you ever notice an error in one of my posts and want to comment on it feel free.  You won’t hurt my feelings and I’ll get things straightened out ASAP.





How to get your guy to ride with you…

15 02 2009

img_1081

Somehow I knew this was coming…I just wasn’t sure from where or in what form.  Megan penned a hilariously accurate rebuttal to my post about how to get your lady to ride with you.  Well worth a read…=-)

Thanks Megan – any guy would be lucky to be humiliated by you…=-)





MSRP Drop for Big Dummy Complete

15 02 2009
A Big Dummy complete is now $2450

A Big Dummy complete is now $2450

The Surly Blog reports that the MSRP for a Big Dummy complete bike is now $2450 down from $2700.





Snow Biking – a Knitter’s Perspective

15 02 2009
A different perspective on snow biking...

A different perspective on snow biking...

Doug‘s wife is an avid knitter and has become an avid podcaster.  Her podcasts are typically about knitting with some local flavour from Duluth, MN, but her fifth podcast has a long section where she talks about snow biking in general and the Arrowhead 135 Ultra Race in particular.  I found it very interesting hearing about this niche aspect of cycling from someone who is not a hardcore snow biker.  I was a bit surprised how well she understands all the details and how supportive she was of the crazy winter ultra racing sport.

Definitely worth a listen…=-)





How to get your lady to ride with you…

13 02 2009
Anna rocking her LHT

Anna rocking her LHT

I posted an article on my Bow Cycle Blog that may be worth a read if you are interested in having your non-cycling significant other ride bikes with you.





Pugsley H-bar Detail

13 02 2009
Alfine shifter and Avid lever

Alfine shifter and Avid lever on a Titec H Bar

Chris asked me about my Pugsley control setup so here is a close up of the right side of the Titec H-bar.





Not so funny…

13 02 2009

bike…found on BROL.