Heckler Time!

30 06 2012

…framing the action

Apparently we didn’t scare Sean and Deanna off of mountain biking on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. They decided they’d come back for more dirt hijinx.

Sean taking a good line on Ruffles…

We covered a lot of the same terrain as last ride so they would have a chance to work on stuff they’d seen before and “figure out” typical tech moves that crop up repeatedly at Hartland.

Deanna on the move…

Their Hecklers are a bit more XC oriented than our Nomads, but they are capable bikes and well suited to local riding conditions.

Sharon starts up a climb…

Their bikes have steeper head tube angles and lower front ends than ours which makes for easier climbing, but it also makes steep drops more challenging. Especially without height adjustable dropper seatposts.

Bouncing down the trail…

It’s great to have a larger group out on a ride. You end up waiting around more, but that gives you time to chat and hang out with your friends.

Sharon’s turn to roll on in…

Sharon’s enjoying the pay off from so much time spent learning her MTB skills as she isn’t at the back of the pack any more and she can offer up some tips to others.

Sean on the edge…

Sean comes from a rugby and karate background. His style is to throw himself at the trail repeatedly and see who is tougher. This approach has been surprisingly effective, but has also resulted in some spectacular crashes. I gave him some body armour I wasn’t using for future rides as I suspect otherwise his MTB career could be really intense, but really short!

Deanna checking things out…

Deanna is a lot more cautious and she’s rebuilding her MTB skills at a measured pace. It’s going to take her longer to master the challenges of our local trails, but she’ll get there soon enough and won’t have to visit the hospital during the learning process!

Fun in the forest…

We are continuing to get the riding position and the suspension setup tweaked optimally for their Hecklers. I’ve learned with my Nomad how important it is to continually adjust and evaluate your bike’s setup. Small changes can result in big improvements. Plus you get to understand your bike better.

In the groove…





Cabrihna Kites – Drifting…

29 06 2012

Worth watching full-screen in HD.





Lost & Found!

28 06 2012

That little silver retaining collar at the far end of the shock is really important!

When Deanna and Sean came out of a ride this past Sunday the silver collar at the front of Sean’s shock jumped ship leaving the spring grinding away against his frame. That’s not a good thing obviously.

Come out, come out – wherever you are!

The shock is from ~1998 so finding a replacement part could be a challenge. We decided it would be best to go back to Hartland and search for it Monday before the trails had seen much traffic.

I spent a lot of time looking down…

We spent over an hour doing a detailed search of the section of Little Face Trail where we noticed the part was missing. Our rationale was that it must have come of within a few hundred metres of that spot.

Still looking…

Eventually we gave up looking and decided to go for a short ride since we were at Hartland anyways. I figured there was a slight chance it had fallen off on the first trail we rode on Sunday, but that was 20 mins earlier before we noticed it was missing so that seemed like a long shot. We decided we’d hit that trail right before we went back to the car.

There’s my baby!

Sure enough at the first corner of that initial trail from Sunday the collar was sitting on some moss waiting for us.

No longer MIA…

I love it when a plan comes together… :)

Glad the Heckler is back in business.. :)





Gravel Pimp – Moto Recon 1…

27 06 2012

My nemesis – the red DMZ gate!

With such a long ride out to Leechtown and each new option being a longer detour I decided to expedite the progress of our Gravel Pimp Recon missions with my KLR650 dualsport motorcycle. Click on the image above to read about my [mis]-adventures…;)





A herd of Santa Cruz bikes….

26 06 2012

Sean and Deanna…

My friends Sean and Deanna both ride Santa Cruz Hecklers. I helped buy the older Heckler in 1998 and then refurbished it a few years ago. When they were looking at buy another Heckler I gave their newer Heckler a once over before it was purchased off Craig’s List.

New and old Santa Cruz Hecklers…

So I’m sort of godfather to their Santa Cruz bikes… ;)

Sharon, Deanna & Sean…

I noticed their bikes weren’t getting dirty so I employed some constructive peer pressure to get them out to Hartland Mountain Bike Park for a rip.

Sharon leads the pack…

Since I wanted them to come back for a second ride we plotted out the easiest loop we could that still covered some ground and gave them a taste of the riding at Hartland.

Deanna sessioning some rocks…

Even with an uber slow pace, lots of stops to check out/try tech sections and some instructional tidbits we still managed to break one of their bikes and crash a few times – one crash was a helmet wrecker! Riding on the South Shore of Vancouver Island is really not easy!

Sharon providing some tips of how to shred the gnar…

Sharon did a great job cleaning almost everything and showing off how well her skills have developed in the last year or so. I think it was a real morale boost for her to see folks who were struggling to get over tech sections she can easily do now – not to laugh at their crashes, but to gauge the improvement in her own skills.

Rockstar!

I blew one steep rooty/rocky climb only to have Sharon come barreling past me and make it to the top for the first time ever. She did a victory dance worthy of a NFL Super Bowl touchdown… ;) Her time with the Dirt Girlz MTB Club is paying off.

Sean tries the rocks…

We got everyone back to the cars mostly in one piece and mostly smiling.

Deana & Sean post ride…

I guess we’ll know that we did a good job of being mountain bike guides if we can get them to come out with us a second time… ;)





After Work Shred…

25 06 2012

Getting sweaty and dirty after work is a great way to end the day…

Going with the flow…

Dressed for an evening out…

Rock-star!





Gravel Pimp – Dead End Recon…

23 06 2012

Enjoying a ride along the coast…

If you haven’t read the Extreme Recon chapter of the Gravel Pimp Saga than click here and read it so you know what’s shaking.

Our last attempt to pioneer a dirt route between Lake Cowichan and Victoria BC failed when we were diverted by a security zone around the Victoria Water Supply Area [aka The DMZ]. Not to be deterred we retreated back to Gravel Pimp HQ and reviewed our maps then plotted a new route.

Pink is the new route – click for larger…

The map above shows our planned route in pink. The green route is what we had hoped to ride last time when we were stopped. As you can see the new route is a significant detour, but better a few extra KMs of dirt than riding pavement home. Where the pink and green tracks meet at the bottom of the map is Leectown and the top of the Galloping Goose MUP.

Our bikes ready to roll…

Trying to schedule a ride between everyone’s work obligations and weather was a challenge, but finally we found a window that worked. A-Man couldn’t make this edition of Gravel Pimping, but he has a sweet Moots 29er ready for next time!

Carbo-loading…

We had a  few beers to adequately prepare for the rigors of the ride….;)

Scott enjoying some sunshine…

Rolling down the Goose MUP was pleasant as always.

My trusty steed got a new frame bag that actually fits!…=)

Our first night’s goal was modest since we didn’t want to try any of the hard route finding until the AM. So in true Gravel Pimp style we detoured to a pub and enjoyed some additional beers as well as some burgers.

Home sweet home…

We took advantage of the Barnes Station Shelter, but threw up the mesh tents as bug nets. You can tell spring is here when you can snack just by riding with your mouth open!

Is it morning already?

Scott was super keen to get rolling so he kicked me out of my sleeping bag at 5am. Breakfast was a variety of cold snacks I had stuffed into my front pouch [aka the Feed Bag].

You can’t bitch about the scenery – Sooke River…

Our first goal was finding Leechtown – an old mining settlement that would mark the start of the hard route finding.

Scott finds Leechtown…

Finding Leechtown was just an easy few km spin up the Goose MUP to its end. Although we realized we were on the wrong side of the Sooke River so we needed to do some ‘schwacking!

It’s all gone green…

We followed some forest tracks to the river.

There was a bit of walking…

A little hike-a-bike never hurt anyone.

Even Scott had to walk…

The nice thing about finding your way next to a river is that you can’t get lost!

Crossing the river part 1…

Although the Sooke River is pretty intense further downstream it was broken up into a few manageable creeks where we were trying to cross.

The might Sooke River has been tamed!

The ‘schwacking continued after the water crossing.

Need any spare parts…

We started to see derelict machinery, but we never did see any old buildings.

Denied by the DMZ again!

As we scouted out route options we encountered the first dead end at the Evil Red DMZ Gate. These gates are all around the water supply area. Happily the guards didn’t notice us and Scott wasn’t beaten half to death this time.

Checking out some equipment we may need later!

Denied by the DMZ we tried some of the logging roads that ran west along the Leech River.

Scott is thinking about a kickstand for the Hunter…

But, before we did anything hasty it was time for a snack break.

I like snack breaks!

I streamlined my food supply – leaving three elements at home – fruit, sandwiches and M&Ms. Mistake! Next time I will have all three with me. Recon work is tough and I got hungrier than I thought I would. I didn’t run out of food, but what I was putting in my mouth just didn’t seem to satisfy me as well as it should.

Steep loose gravel…

After the DMZ gate our first attempt was a rough double track that was clearly made with a bulldozer and never improved for frequent vehicle traffic. The big chunky rocks were hard to ride up and scary to ride down. It was fairly “climby”, but it had a nice remote feel that would have made for a great bikepacking route.

It was good – until it ended!

Sadly the road just ended. We don’t mind a hike-a-bike, but not 30kms of it over a mountain range!

Guess what?

As we backtracked we tried a side trail that had some potential, but it ended as well.

Clear cut…

We ended up back at Leechtown and headed west on a well used logging road on the south side of the Leech River. This was shown on our map as connecting up with the other logging roads we needed to get to further north.

Yup…it’s true….denied again!

But as we found out that was a lie. The road just stopped at a scree slope that was hard to walk across let alone carry a bike across.

Overgrown double track…

Although it didn’t go anywhere this section of the ride had some super fun overgrown double track to pedal. Life could be worse than riding your bike in the forest looking for promising bikepacking routes….;)

Hmmm….why is Scott walking back?

There was a turn off from the main road that went higher and we hoped got around the rock slide. So we cranked uphill and found that it did go a bit further, but it also dead ended despite being shown on our map as continuing onwards.

Scott immersion testing his Rohloff!

So defeated yet again we rode back to Leechtown to regroup. Our time and energy levels were running low as we still had a few hours of riding back home to Victoria. The most promising option was straight up a mountain north of Leechtown and neither of us could handle the thought of 15kms of grinding uphill only to be denied. So we decided it was time to roll for home.

Nearly road kill…

Scott bunny hopped over a snake on the Galloping Goose so we stopped and herded him off the trail so he could live to slither another day!

Another snack stop…

The roll home was pleasant, but to be honest we’re over the Goose MUP. It’s a convenient way to get out of town on dirt, but after you’ve ridden it 12 times in a year you want to load a movie on the iPhone just to stay awake! Don’t get me wrong it’s far better than hoovering exhaust fumes on the side of Hwy 14 while dodging trucks. I’m just a spoiled whiner!

Pink was the theoretical route – dark red the actual GPS track…

All told the ride was ~145kms long with ~1200m elevation gain. Progress was slower and harder than those stats would indicate with a lot of walking & talking to workout what to do next. While it wasn’t successful in finding a route north to Lake Cowichan we did expand our knowledge of the area and confirm that the maps we have are “optimistic” when it comes to the logging roads. You can click on either map to enlarge them.

Our full route – click for larger…

So what’s next?

  • Craig Main is a logging road up a mountain north of Leechtown that connects through based on our maps. It would provide the most direct route so it’s the next priority for recon effort.
  • Butler Main is a logging road that heads west, but offers the potential of then branching north where we want to go. It’s not very direct, but if Craig Main doesn’t go it’s next.
  • After those two options are explored if we aren’t successful I think our next move is to go back to the north side of the route and explore south as far as we can. Eventually we’ll have GPS tracks for everything reasonably close we can ride and we can figure out if an extreme bushwack is possible to connect the route.

Of course my hope is that there is a nice logging road through to Lake Cowichan, but so far such a beast has been elusive. Time will tell!