Baja Fresh!

27 11 2009

Finally - I made it!

Well a new transmission, a new clutch, a new set of tires and 10 days on the road I finally pulled off the main highway and drove the last few kms to La Ventana.  I stopped in at Baja Joes to chat with the Elevation Kiteboarding School Gang from Lake Nihnat in BC and see if the free camping in the arroyo I had heard about was a good idea. They said it was fine and I rolled a bit further North and found a great spot in the second arroyo.  It was nice to see some familiar faces from Squamish at the arroyo as well as lots of other friendly folks.

My camp in the arroyo is pretty and has some bushes/trees for privacy, but it’s close to the main road, which is a bit noisy.  Happily the town goes to bed early so I haven’t had any issues sleeping.  Unlike my typical Baja trips that featured solitude and remoteness this one seems to be quite the opposite.  I can walk to some free showers, clean porcelain sit down toilets, wireless internet, multiple restaurants and bars as well as grocery stores.

On one hand It’s great to have so many services so close.  On the other it’s not a very quiet reflective sort of experience.  Given that I need to work on this trip having easy internet access is a good thing and if I wanted I could still stop at some of my more remote camp spots on the way back home.

Sun rise at La Ventana

I can see the Sea of Cortez from my camp and it’s a 60 second walk to the beach with my SUP or kiteboarding gear.  Some professional windsurfers from the US have setup a sun shelter right on the beach complete with a sectional sofa!  My first day here I sat down on the sofa, put my legs up on a stool and enjoyed several very cold beers.  Although kiteboarding isn’t as hardcore as bike touring the GDR it does come with several benefits like a beach front sofa and the tendency for bikinis to be present….=-)

Since I will be online daily Monday to Friday I guess I’ll be updating this blog a lot more than I had expected….


The fleet stashed out of the sun...



SUP Ladies?

21 11 2009

Pretty in Pink?

How to get your lady stoked about Stand Up Paddkle boards?  Get one in pink or it could be lavendar…lol…need to verify at the beach and let her know so she can bring the appropriate paddling outfit….=-)

You can even get a matching paddle!

I stopped by Stand Up Paddle Sports in Santa Barbra California for some SUP therapy.  They had a huge selection of boards and accessories…sort of like SUP heaven…=-)  I got a spare paddle and some leashes as well as a bunch of spare fins and accessories like locks and bags for my SUPs.  I also scored the pinkish SUP in the photos.  It’s an 11′ x 30″ Bill Foote SUP that will be a good match for the used Starboard 11’2″ x 30″ SUP I got from The Easy Rider in Edmonton.  So I’ve got two all rounders that my GF and I can paddle together [naturally she’ll want the pink one!] and I’ve got the 9’8″ x 30″ Starboard which is a dedicated surfing machine.

More pink SUP porn...=-)

I wish I had more time in Santa Barbara I would’ve liked a couple days of SUP surfing lessons.  I’ll mess around on my own in La Ventana and perhaps I’ll be able to fit some real surfing lessons in on my way home.

Note: all photos are from the Stand up Paddle Sports Blog

SUP Porn

20 11 2009

Photo: Unique Media and Design

There is some great SUP action photography here.

vikapproved [TM]

19 11 2009

Joshua Tree Hijinx

Update: for some reason I just don’t like the name change.  Maybe this blog has been called the The Lazy Randonneur so long it feels wrong to change it.  Oh well it was worth a try.  I’ll stick with the old name for now.

Since I’m taking a break from blogging I figured it was a good opportunity to change the name of this blog.  The Lazy Randonneur was a play on words when I was keen on riding recumbents in brevets.  Since that hasn’t happened in a while and although I’m still going to ride brevets when the mood strikes me the main focus of this blog won’t be long distance endurance cycling.  With my interest in water sports growing the topics discussed on this blog aren’t even strictly cycling anymore so it seems like a new name is in order.

Vikapproved [TM] was the title of my now defunct personal blog over on Blogger. With the advent of Facebook that blog ceased to make sense so I killed it.  However, I always liked the title as it has been an inside joke amongst my friends for a longtime.  Since I spend the most time obessing over gear whenever my friends want to buy a new bike, tent or digital camera they ask me what’s currently Vikapproved and I give them my opinion.

So from now on this blog will be called Vikapproved and I’ll continue to post about whatever I’m into at the moment, gear reviews, trip reports, rants and raves, etc…

The Lazy Rando URLs will all still point here as will and

Thorn Mini Tour

18 11 2009

Thorn Nomad S&S

Bike touring hasn’t been a big part of my world in 2009.  Other than the CDN GDR tour my cycling was either mountain biking, snow biking, or utility/transportation riding.  I don’t mind as I really like to be on a bike no matter what the reason and bike tours are best enjoyed when the time is right – not when you try and make them happen.  The only trouble is I have a couple virgin touring bikes that I wanted to get on the road and try out.  One of them, my Thorn Nomad S&S, has seen lots of action about town hauling me and my gear, but that’s just not the same as bike camping.  So I picked a weekend in late September that Sharon had plans and decided to do an overnighter on the Bow Valley Parkway.

Geared up for some bike touring.

I left late on Saturday from Canmore Alberta so most of my first day’s ride would be in the dark.  I haven’t done much in the way of long night rides this year since I haven’t been training for or riding brevets.  I missed the solitude and quietness of late night rural highways.  The first stretch along highway #1 was quite windy and slightly uphill the whole way.  Since it’s so busy with traffic between Alberta and British Columbia you can’t really call it a peaceful ride, but it is in the Canadian Rockies and the scenery is spectacular.  By the time I rolled past Banff it was pitch dark and I had both my Dinotte 200L-AA lights going and had deployed all my reflective gear as well as a Planet Bike Superflash taillight.  I was happy to soon reach the turn off for the Bow Valley Parkway and leave the dense high speed traffic of the main highway behind.  As expected traffic on the Bow Valley Parkway was minimal and much slower.  Most of the time I just rolled along in my little bubble of light with only the noise of my tires on the road and the sounds of the forest for company.  As with previous night rides I found familiar climbs that are quite challenging in the day are much easier at night.  They seem less steep and less strenuous somehow at night.  I’m not sure why, but I guess it must have to do with the fact you can’t really see the climb or much of the road and that must make it easier mentally.  Although I also experienced a weird time dilation effect as well.  I didn’t have a bike computer on the Thorn, but I knew how far my camp site was and I knew roughly how fast I was going, but it felt easily like it took twice as long to finally reach camp.  Riding the same bike back in the daytime I didn’t have that feeling at all – strange.

My minimal camp at day break.

I rolled past the locked gate of the campground as it was closed for the winter and had my pick of over a hundred sites.  I grabbed a nice spot next to a creek and set up my small tent.  The forecast didn’t call for rain so I left the rain fly off.  I wasn’t cooking on this trip so I just had some snacks to stash in the metal food locker.  I’m not sure if bears were still active at that time, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  I settled snugly into my down sleeping bag and listened to the sounds of the forest.  It would have been a very peaceful night if I hadn’t been attacked by a giant spider inside my dark tent.  The only part of my body exposed was my face so of course that’s where I felt his legs!!  I flicked him off with one hand and got my headlamp out with the other.  Once I located him it took 3-4 direct hits with the heel of my trail runner to stun him and another 6-8 hits to kill him…that was one tough spider!!  Did I mention I don’t really like spiders???  I finally got myself sorted out and back in the bag ready to sleep when I felt rain on my face….that meant going back out into giant spider territory and putting on the rain fly…=-(  Oh well – there wasn’t much choice so I just got it done.  Happily with no further killer spider incidents and I enjoyed a cozy sleep in my tent with the sound of rain drops against my fly.

Lovely Bow Valley Parkway Scenery

It was dry when I woke up, but it looked like some serious rain could fall so I packed up camp and hit the road back to Canmore quickly.  I managed to get most of the way back to Banff before the rain started in earnest.  I didn’t have full rain gear with me so I just threw on my rain jacket and made the best of it.  My Thorn has fat fenders on it so I wasn’t getting wet from the road and my clothes were warm enough to keep me comfortable despite the rain.  It also helped a lot knowing that a warm meal was waiting for me at the end of the ride.   I rolled into Canmore with my food radar on high and pulled into the first eatery that caught my eye.  After ordering 2 full meals I settled into my chair enjoying the warmth and dryness!

The end of an era?...=-)

Bike Notes:

  • I used front panniers on this trip mostly just because that’s what I had at hand.  My other panniers were at my GF’s and I was too lazy to go get them.  Like the Surly LHT the Thorn Nomad was designed to carry a rear only load or a load balanced front and back.  It doesn’t love a front only load.  It was fine to ride, but it didn’t show the characteristic truck like stability that it did when loaded in the rear.
  • The Thorn was comfortable and the long wheelbase/steel frame/fat rubber ate up the bumps and road irregularities nicely.  Given its strength this tour wasn’t much of a test for the the frame.
  • The Rohloff hub continues to roll along without needing attention.  The straight clean chain line is quiet and very aesthetically pleasing.  My placement of the shifter works, but as I noted in an earlier post I will move it to the right grip area for easier access.  This tour just confirmed that plan.
  • Ortlieb panniers were handy when it rained.  I didn’t have to do anything or worry about my gear getting wet.
  • Marathon Extreme tires worked fine, but are clearly overkill for a paved tour.  I don’t notice much difference between them and the same size XRs on paved roads.  I have since sold them.  My Thorn currently has some Continental Travel Contacts on it and I’ll probably try some 2.0″ Marathon Supremes in 2010.
  • Dinotte 200L-AA lights worked well and provided lots of light even on the fast descents.  They don’t last terribly long on high power, but my rechargeable batteries don’t get a lot of love so that’s not the lights’ fault.  I could have set them on medium or low power for the flats/climbs and turned them onto high for downhills.  One issue I had was the lights are not focused and throw a lot of light up into the eyes of on coming drivers.  In a city with lots of light this isn’t so bad, but on a totally dark road it’s blinding so I had to cover them partially with my hands when a car came along.
  • Brooks saddle – I’m always happy that I can now ride a bike without wearing padded shorts…=-)
  • Platform pedals – besides not having to wear bike shorts my second favourite thing is being able to ride in street shoes.
  • I’m really glad I got around to installing the stainless steel Berthoud fenders on my Thorn.  They went on much easier than expected and provide excellent coverage even without a front mudflap installed.

Slocan and Silver Triangle Tours – BC

18 11 2009

Slocan Triangle Tour BC

I’m stuck in Idaho waiting on vehicle repairs so I’m cleaning up my laptop and found the link to this Slocan Triangle Tour Report in British Columbia.  I tried to do it last fall, but my broken foot made me abort near the start…=-(  However, it’s on my radar for the early part of 2010. This route can be combined with the Silver Triangle Tour for a nice figure of 8 loop if you want more mileage.

Elevation Profile

Adios Amigos – Surf’s Up!

15 11 2009

Well everything for Baja is packed.  All my critical work is done and I’m heading south of the border Monday AM.  I hope everyone has a great winter, stays safe and enjoys the holidays.  I am not sure if I’ll be posting from Baja or not.  I may, but I don’t want to make any plans until I see how things work out at La Ventana.  I’ll be working on my laptop as it is for my “real job” so it’s hard to say whether I’ll be motivated to spend more time on a computer.

I’m really stoked to get a ton of hours on my kiteboard gear and learn to surf…not to mention rolling my Pugsley across miles of beach sand in search of cold beers n’ tacos!