Salmon 1 – Lazy 0

31 08 2012

Oak Bay – Vancouver Island BC…

In Baja Mexico I am an experienced fish assassin, but until recently I was a Vancouver Island fish slaying virgin. Not that I caught any fish on this particular trip, but I tried!

My recon trolling track…

I checked local fishing reports and the area around Oak Bay seemed like a good local spot to try for some spring salmon. There was better fishing further west towards Sooke & Port Renfrew, but I didn’t have the time to drive that far and until I get rid of my kayak fishing rust I want to stick close to home.

Oak Bay Marina…

I parked at the Oak Bay Marina. You don’t need a boat ramp to launch a kayak, but there is a fair bit of paddle and fishing gear to haul to the water so being able to rig the yak at your vehicle and pull it to the water on a cart is handy if not absolutely essential.

Necky Dolphin kayak…

My kayak is a 14′ old Necky Dolphin sit-on-top that’s 12yrs old. I bought it new when Necky Kayaks was a Canadian company and they made their boats in BC. The company has since been bought by Ocean Kayak in the US and this design is no longer made at all. Too bad because it’s proven to be a very capable recreational boat for me. It handles rough water well and can carry enough cargo for some light touring.

Got fish?

This kayak has been with me on a lot of Baja adventures. It’s a great fishing platform because it’s stable allowing you to confidently fight your catch when you hook up and it still paddles efficiently to cover ground to hunt for fish. The roto-molded plastic hull is rugged enough to haul over rocks or accidentally run into something in the shallows without any damage.

Spare paddle and pump…

I don’t have a waterproof camera at the moment so I wasn’t able to document my fishing mission from the water. My main goal was to make sure all my gear worked and iron out any kinks in the system when there was no pressure to accomplish anything. I checked the weather and tides so I wouldn’t be battling any wind, waves or current. Once away from the marina I just headed out into the Straight of Juan de Fuca to an area there were some fishermen in powerboats trolling.

Kayak gear…

I saw some bait fish jumping, but didn’t get any bites. My rod is a medium action spinning setup and the large sinking weight the fishing store sold me to get the salmon flasher and lure down to where the fish are was a bit too much for my gear. In Baja I use the same gear to troll small Rapala lures so it’s not shocking that it’s not ideal for salmon hunting off Vancouver Island.

Killing ‘em in Baja back in the day…

I won’t spend much time talking about fishing gear until I sort out what works and have some salmon to prove it. Here is a link to a good PNW salmon fishing resource if you are keen to learn more from someone who actually knows what the heck they are doing.. ;)

Cruising the Sea of Cortez on a fish hunt…

My buddy Sean has the same kayak and has expressed an interest in fishing with me. Hopefully we’ll have some yak fishing tales to tell this fall.





Interior Design…

30 08 2012

2012 Surly Pugsley – 18″ frame…

Mountain bike fashion keeps heading towards a smaller and smaller frame triangle. Ostensibly for increased stand over clearance.

2009 Surly Pugsley – 18″ frame…

One downside of this change is reduced room for cargo inside the frame.

Full bike…

Personally I don’t need any standover clearance on my bikes – including my mountain bikes. I’ve been riding and falling off bikes for decades and never had any groin to top tube issues.

My trusty Pugsley…

What I do have a use for is storage space inside the frame and I’d prefer to use a seatpost that wasn’t 2′ long, but that’s just me ;)

On One Fatbike – even less space…

Scott had to get a custom bike [see below] with a top tube that curves up higher than normal get a ride with a large interior space for a frame bag.

Scott’s custom Hunter 29er…

I couldn’t afford custom bling, but when I was shopping for a 29er frame I did my best to get one without a crazy low top tube. I also got the largest size On One Scandal 29er frame I could ride in order to maximize the interior design.

A guy’s gotta haul his snacks somewhere!

Happily there are a few bike designers who are savvy to the benefits of a large main frame triangle. Jeff Jones offers his line of mountain bikes is the sexy curved spaceframe version and a bikepacking friendly diamond frame version shown below.

Jeff Jones diamond frame with truss fork…

Jeff’s bike line up is nice in that folks who want an uber low top tube have a frame design to choose from and those who want to fit a big frame bag also have an option – yet both bikes share the same geometry and fit.

Jeff Jones spaceframe with truss fork…





4 Flats – 1 Ride!

29 08 2012

The walk of shame…

I was wondering why my friend Sean wasn’t appearing on the trail behind me – even after a solid few minutes of waiting for him. Then I saw him come around the bend pushing his bike.

Taking the tire off the rear wheel…

Sean was riding his GF’s bike and didn’t appreciate how low the pressure was in her tires. That combined with some enthusiastic leaping off jumps onto rocks resulted in a pinch flat.

Time to get out patch on…

When he checked his hydration pack he found a road inner tube and some tire levers, but no pump and no patch kit. Luckily I was well equipped with spare tubes and patches as well as a pump. I like to patch my tubes in the field if I can. That way you always have a spare tube to fall back on if you really need it.

Inspecting the bike…

We found that there was a second hole on the opposite side of the tube that needed fixing as well. Sadly we didn’t notice that until we had mounted the wheel back in the bike and rolled 10′ down the trail…*sigh*

Mo’ flats!

Eventually we got moving again, but only for a few minutes before Sean suffered another pinch flat on the rear wheel. So we set about fixing flat #3. In my defense I looked carefully for another hole in the area of the pinch flat, but didn’t see anything so we mounted up the tire and started riding only to find the tube losing air. So we stopped and fixed flat #4 which was a tiny tiny hole. Sean asked if maybe we should just put in a new tube, but I replied no we’ll just patch the old tube. I was saving the new tube for flat #5 and figured if we had one more flat the Bike Gods clearly didn’t want us to keep riding that day!

As it turned out the rest of the ride was uneventful! Hopefully that was our flat tire quota for a few months… ;)





Buddy Flaps – Sharon’s Cross Check…

28 08 2012

Front Buddy Flap…

I bought Sharon a set of Buddy Flap mud flaps for her Surly Cross Check more than a year ago and just managed to get my lazy butt in gear to install them.

The complete set…

They are long thick vinyl flaps with reflective stickers applied. I’ve used them on both my LHT’s and been happy with them. I like the fact they come down nearly to the ground at the front for complete splash protection. I also like the custom graphics. The flaps themselves are quite durable, but the reflective sticker can be damaged. I suspect the nice folks at Buddy Flaps would send you a new sticker set to fix any damaged ones, but I haven’t asked them yet.

Rear Buddy Flap…

You can get all sorts of graphic options on your Buddy Flaps including custom images/text. The package comes complete with all the hardware you need to mount them. You just drill some holes in your fenders and bolt them on.

The old mudflaps…

Her old mud flaps worked fine, which, is part of the reason it took me so long to get the new flaps installed. However, the new flaps do look a lot nicer.

A happy bike commuter…

I’m still of the opinion that given the reasonable cost a set of Buddy Flaps is a great upgrade for any fendered bike. This customized touch makes us smile every time we climb aboard.





Jeff Jones Loop H-Bar Review…

27 08 2012

Jones Loop H-Bars on my Surly Pugsley…

I’ve been using the Titec version of Jeff Jones’ H-bar design for ~4yrs and liking it a lot for all day comfort. It provides 3 distinctly different hand/body positions as you move from the end of the bars to the middle cross bar to the forward position. The normal cruising position is with your hands on the rear part of the bar towards the ends. This give you lots of control and an upright riding posture. If you move your hands to the front on the bars you narrow and lower your riding position for better aerodynamics. I sort of think of these bars as drop bars for MTB shifters/brake levers.

Front view…

The Titec H-bar has a fairly short grip areas at the ends of the bar making positioning controls – particularly gripshift style shifters – a challenge. I’ve always managed to find a work around, but the resulting shifter and brake lever placement never made me happy on steep technical terrain.

Lately it seems that the Titec H-bar is hard to come by. I’m not sure if that’s because they are no longer making them or if there is just a hiccup in the production cycle. So I thought I would review the aluminum Loop H-bar which is sold direct by Jeff Jones. Getting your hands on a Loop H-bar shouldn’t be too hard.

Titec H-bar top & Loop H-bar bottom…

If you click on the image above you can read a detailed post discussing the differences between the the two versions of the H-bar. What should be obvious is that the Loop H-bar has a closed loop of material at the front of the bar and that the rear bar end portion is considerably longer than the Titec H-bar. The middle cross bar portion also meets the outside portion of the bars at different angles. The upshot of all this is that you have room to fit any controls & grips you want without a hassle. The forward loop also gives you some bar space to mount lights, GPS or other gadgets.

Tons of room for brake lever, shifter and grip…

There are a couple downsides to the Loop H-bar vs. the Titec H-bar:

  • Loop H-bar costs $120 vs. the $75 the Titec H-bar sold for when you could actually find them for sale
  • the extra grip length of the Loop H-bar shortens the effective top tube reach and requires a larger frame or longer stem

The Loop H-bar is probably a bit heavier due to the extra material up front, but I’m not a gram counter so it’s not something I worry about. You can get a cut version of the Loop H-bar from Jeff Jones that is similar [not identical] to the Titec H-bar and Jeff offers his bars in an expensive titanium version as well if you want to lighten your wallet.

The “loop” in the Loop H-bar…

My hope was that by getting an optimal placement of the grips/shifter and brake levers I’d really like these bars for technical riding. They work better than Titec H-bars when tackling steep gnarly MTB terrain, but I can’t say I love them for that application. While the Titec H-bars were poor for that type of riding I’d rate the Loop H-bars just okay. By comparison using a standard MTB riser bar on my Pugsley is much better when mountain biking than the Loop H-bar.

Now bars are a personal thing and Jeff Jones really promotes the use of Loop H-bars on his line of MTBs. So they work for some people. Just not me.

Shredding the gnar with my Loop H-bars…

On the other hand I do love these Loop H-bars for all the other non-technical riding I do. For a commuter bike or a touring rig they are ideal. You get a bunch of hand positions including one that’s reasonably aerodynamic. The main hand position at the end of the rear portion of the bars is particularly nice as it is relaxing for the body and hands are spread wide for lots of control on the bike. At the moment four of the bikes in our garage are equipped with either Titec or Loop H-bars.

Fully taped Titec H-bars…

You’ll notice that my Loop H-bar only have Ergon Grips on them and the rest of the bar is bare. The H-bar is totally functional without any tape for shorter rides. However, I’ve had issues with riding them for longer all day/multi-day trips – especially when it’s cold & wet. The bare metal gets slippery and sucks the heat from my hands. That’s not fun. I like a double wrap of cork tape on these bars once I’ve got my controls figured out. It gives a nice comfy place to hold onto. I’ll be wrapping my Loop H-bars sooner or later.





Through the mill…

27 08 2012




Lance Armstrong Guilty & Banned…

24 08 2012

Lance at the Tour de France…

Lance Armstrong decided not to fight the charges the USADA brought against him and was found guilty of doping and banned from the sport for life. His Tour de France wins may be stripped from him as well as his other wins from that era. You can click on the image above to read an article over at Velonews on the subject. By not fighting the charges he avoided having all the testimony against him end up in the news and managed to save his image to some degree. He knows what the folks who were going to testify would say and his lawyers would have advised him what his chances were at coming out of that process without being found guilty. One thing you gotta agree on about LA is that he surrounds himself with experts and uses their advice to make smart choices.

As for the issue of his doping past it’s not a surprise to anyone who watched the pro racing of that era. Almost every other contemporary with a shot at the podium at the Tour has been found guilty of doping. In the current peleton Contador has been stripped of his last Tour win and a Shleck has been charged with doping. To believe LA was one of the only top pros not doping despite all of this and a retinue of witnesses ready to testify for the USADA is ridiculous. On the other hand it does change the landscape within which we judge LA’s actions. Everybody was doing it. It’s still going on today.

Kudos to the USADA for having the courage to go after Lance. With the UCI, the US Government and the US public behind LA that was a brave choice. Building a case by collecting evidence through witness statements and uncovering documents is far harder than getting a doping positive, but as we’ve seen the professional cycling peleton can take a load of doping products and pass all sorts of laboratory controls without getting caught. The guys that do get caught didn’t start doping that morning just before the race. They were doping for a while and finally didn’t follow the right protocols of dosage and timings or got surprised by a test they weren’t expecting. So when LA gives his “I was the most tested athlete in the peleton.” speech I just roll my eyes and my inside voice says “With the best doping doctors in the world on your staff.” USADA charged that LA’s team had managed to get a TdeF doping positive suppressed back in 1999. I hope we hear what happened in that case. It might shed more light on how LA kept things rolling for so long without getting caught. It might also explain why the UCI was so unhappy with USADA’s pursuit of LA; they may well be implicated in the cover up.

It’s funny when you read folks criticizing the USADA for taking up the LA case as if they are doing it to an innocent man for some evil reason. On one hand you have a pro athlete in a sport rife with doping who can help himself and his team generate millions of dollars of profit as well as build himself up as a huge celebrity on the other you have some guys at the USADA paid modest salaries who are responsible for enforcing the WADA code. They will never be famous, they won’t make millions and they’ll make a lot of enemies in the process of pursuing LA. Not to mention they have to face two panels of independent arbitrators with their evidence including the at the well respected CAS if the athlete challenges the charges. Note that LA didn’t want to face these arbitrators and have them hear the evidence which is why he gave up the fight.

Will this change anything? One benefit of Lance getting banned is that the doping fairy tale of LA’s career won’t be there to let young racers fool themselves into thinking they’ll get away with doping if they are smart about it. On the other hand people are greedy and they want fame and fortune. In a challenging sport like cycling there will always be the temptation to cheat by doping. We continue to charge and convict murderers even though we know it won’t stop folks killing other folks. Doping won’t stop in cycling, but the more energy we spend fighting it the less successful doping will occur.