Tofino Girl’s Surf Weekend…

30 11 2010

Sharon and Tanya wet, but stoked!

I took Sharon and Tanya up to Tofino to kick off their surf careers with some professional instruction.  I think they had second thoughts as we climbed over the mountains in a full on snowstorm before reaching the coast.  Surfing and snow…hmmmmm!  As it turned out we had two sunny and relatively warm days in Tofino which for this time of year is a score.

Surf Sisters School & Shop...

Sharon booked two days of lessons with Surf Sisters, a surf school that specializes in teaching the ladies – although men are welcome as well.  Each 3hr lesson began with 1hr of inside classroom instruction.  For someone who knows nothing this is useful, but if you have done some basic reading about surfing you may find that losing 33% of your lesson to talking isn’t productive.  For the girls this format was good and 3hrs in the water might have been too much to start with.

Signing waivers...

The first day’s lesson was with Lisa and there were two other people in their group lesson [$75/person for a group lesson vs. $150/person for a private lesson].  They worked on the basics of catching a whitewater water near shore and popping up on the board.  Everyone had fun and Lisa was a great instructor.  I was happy that Sharon didn’t get cold in her wetsuit. She has some circulatory issues that often causes her problems.  The North Pacific Ocean in winter seemed like it could freeze her hands and feet, but through the magic of her 6/4mm neoprene wetsuit from Promotion she was comfortable the whole lesson.

Scoping the nightlife options...

After the first day’s lessons we got showered and changed into warm clothes before heading out to eat a well deserved dinner at The Shelter Restaurant.  They have a very cozy upscale vibe going on that isn’t cheap, but the quality of the service and food was worth the cost.  The girls had ambitious plans for the evening that ended up falling apart as we were all asleep by 930pm!  I guess we aren’t rockstar material…=-)

Our room with a view...

We stayed at the Tofino Motel.  At $65+taxes/night it was reasonably priced and had large clean rooms centrally located for walking around town.  I’ve stayed here twice and it will likely be my choice for future trips as well.  We ate breakfast each day at the Sea Shanty Restaurant.  They’ve got a great view of the ocean and large portions of freshly made food to fuel your surf adventures. Another great place for food is the Wildside Grill located across from Live to Surf near Chesterman’s Beach.  They have great fish and awesome tacos.  We tried the Dockside Pub, but it was a bit below average and we won’t be heading back.  For a just a bit more $$ the Shelter Restaurant is a better value for food and drink.

Looks like recess at super hero school...

Day two of lessons with Surf Sister featured a different instructor and a smaller class with just Sharon and Tanya.  That ratio should have resulted in a better experience than the previous day, but unfortunately this instructor [I won’t name names in case she was having a rare off day] wasn’t very interested in teaching them.  She took off and surfed on her own while they struggled and she didn’t even notice when one of them had a problem and had to go back to the beach to regroup. Lesson learnt!  If you are booking lessons with Surf Sister I’d request Lisa specifically. I can also highly recommend Adam at the Pacific Surf School for quality instruction. The good news is the excellent instruction on day 1 gave them lots to work on so the time wasn’t wasted.  Sharon did great paddling out past the breaking waves 3 times and then working on catching waves on the way back in.

Dreaming of the surf!

Despite the poor instruction on day 2.  The girls were so stoked by the beauty of the Tofino area and the fun they had in the surf that they were already scheming about the next trip to catch some waves.  I’d call that mission accomplished…=-)

Long Beach...

You can blame the lack of action shots on my poor preparation.  I pulled out my waterproof Pentax camera only to find not one, but two dead batteries – of course I didn’t have the charger with me…*sigh*  Being the “gear guy” this was more than a bit embarrassing! Oh well.  I assured them that next trip I’d have a functional waterproof camera and they’d be more skilled so the shots would look more impressive!




29 11 2010

I must have been thinking ahead to 2011!

Every year I have at least one project bike and try out some new gear that’s been on my mind.  My main focus for 2011 will be to upgrade and improve my existing rides.  Here is what I am thinking of for 2011:

  • I’m going to put some energy into learning to unicycle.  Paul lent me a couple unis to try out.  I haven’t got to the point where I’m for sure going to take this up, but I should know by the end of 2010.  If I do I’ll score a uni for myself.
  • Sharon has realized that although her cruiser/city bike is nice to look at she needs a more efficient ride if she is to cover a lot of kms riding to work and for errands.  So I’m going to build her a Surly Cross Check [in Robin’s Egg Blue] using the main parts from her cruiser.  The more aggressive riding position and option to go with drops should be useful while still ending up with a nice looking ride.  Assuming she loves it I’m thinking of adding a dynohub wheel and headlight in the fall of 2011 for her birthday as her commutes to work start getting darker.
  • We’ll save Sharon’s city bike frame and any parts we don’t swap over to build up a SS Burning Man bike for 2012 when we head to the playa again.
  • My trusty Surly LHT is going to get a dynohub and dyno headlight for 24/7 light action.  I’ve really enjoyed the dyno setup on my Bike Friday NWT and it’s time to give my LHT the same treatment.  I’ll use a Shimano dynohub, but haven’t settled on a headlight yet.  My LHT will also get some smooth fast rolling Grand Bois Cypres tires.  I’ve been waiting until the existing Marathon  XRs wear out, but that is taking forever so I’ll pull them and save them for when I need a heavier tire on a tour.  If I get really into it I’d like a bigger/longer mudflap on my LHT, but that would be a luxury…the existing one is adequate.
  • My Surly Big Dummy will get a dynohub [a 26″ Shimano dynohub wheel I used on my Thorn Nomad] as well as a dyno headlight. Not sure about the headlight yet.  I’m thinking I’ll probably get an uber nice one for the LHT and a nice, but reasonably priced one for the Dummy. I can always swap them if I need a killer light on the Dummy.  I’ll probably swap the Jones Loop H-bar into the Dummy to test it out.
  • My CETMA cargo bike will get a hydraulic disc brake on the front wheel to address the spongy brake action caused the long convoluted cable run. I still haven’t mounted fenders so that has to happen and I think, given the short rides I do with it, I’ll mount a less expensive SDG saddle and save the Selle Anatomica for a rig that sees bigger distances.  I’m considering pulling the Rohloff hub from the CETMA and replacing it with a cheaper Nuvinci IGH.  I feel like the Rohloff is kind of wasted in that bike and I’ve been interested in the Nuvinci so this would be a good opporttunity to try one out in an application where the smaller gear range and higher weight isn’t an issue.
  • My Bike Friday NWT will get some full coverage Planet Bike Fenders and some fresh white bar tape. If Solidlights is still doing the XB2 light upgrade I may send my Solidlights dyno light back to the UK to get the upgrade from brighter LEDs and a focused optic.
  • My Pugsley needs a saddle [I stole the Selle Anatomica for the CETMA from my Pug].  Rather than put the SA back on I’ll replace it with SDG plastic saddle unless I take it on tour where the SA would be appreciated.  I’d also like to swap in some MTB riser bars from my spare parts bin for the Titec H-bars to get a better relationship between the brake levers and the shifter/grips.  Right now I can’t have my hand on the grips fully while braking which is a problem in technical terrain.  I have a set of Surly Larry knobby 4″ tires I will be installing on the Pugsely in 2011 to improve traction in the wet.
  • My Bike Friday 8spd Tikit has a new stem riser waiting on installation.  The new one piece unit replaces the previous separate stem and steering riser combo.  I’ve got to replace the whole drivetrain on this bike since it hasn’t seen any love since new.  It also needs a new set of Greenspeed Scorcher TRs.
  • I’d like to get a tour of Vancouver Island in this spring…from Port Hardy back down to Victoria.
  • I’d like to fit in more mountain biking.  Kiteboarding dominates my summer weekends, but I can fit more mountain bike rides in during the week.

There is also some stuff that I’m less certain about that is bouncing around my brain.  These items may not happen, but who knows?

  • Getting a tandem.  I’m continuing to do research and will hopefully get some test rides in over the next few months to confirm our interest in riding on the same bike. I’ve got a few possibilities on paper right now, but nothing that is so compelling I’d rule out other options.
  • Alfine 11 – I’d like to try one out, but I haven’t got a solid idea of where I might use one.
  • Carbon belt – I’d like to try out a carbon belt drive at some point.  I’m not 100% sold on them, but without trying one it’s hard to speak about the benefits vs. a chain.
  • Trying out a BQ approved 650B rando style bike.  I’m curious if I’ll come to the same conclusions as Jan Heine and the only way to know is to try one. I’m not ready to spend top of the line custom $$ on one so I’d be looking at something that’s in production like the Boulder Cycles Randonneur.
  • I’m contemplating riding some more brevets this year…if I do it will be just the shorter ones [100K, 200K and 300K].  I’ve got to find my love of long solo training road rides.   I’ve also done all my previous brevets on a recumbent.  I don’t own a bent and I don’t see one in my immediate future so I’d probably press my Surly LHT or BBC 24 into service.
  • I’m considering building a bike storage area in my yard to free up garage space.  It would be a concrete pad with eye bolts sunken into the pad for locking points.  It would have a roof, but not be fully enclosed.  I’d lock up my more sturdy bikes there [like my Surly Big Dummy] giving me more room in the garage and also making getting rolling on these bikes faster.
  • I may get rid of one of my two fixed gear bikes to free up some space.  I love the fixed gear experience, but one bike would meet all my needs.

Michael W’s Speeding Tikit

26 11 2010

What a lovely Speeding Tikit...

The contrasting paint is a nice touch...

Fold detail...

Front derailleur...

Impulse fold in action...

Bike Locking Case #3

25 11 2010

Surly LHT secured for a few hours...

Here I have locked up my Surly LHT while I had dinner downtown.  Chain lock secures frame to bike rack and a mid-grade cable secures both wheels to the chain.  I’ve pulled my lights and covered my Brooks with a saddle condom due to rain.  I realized afterwards I’d be better off with a plastic shopping bag on the saddle so it looked more ghetto. I was away from the bike for several hours while I ate and then went to a pub.  My trusty steed was right where I left her when I got back…=-)

This is my medium security setup.  The next step up would be a heavier chain and/or two separate chain locks to really discourage a thief.  It helps that this bike is relatively unremarkable looking so as to not attract too much attention in the first place.

MEC Borderline Hoodie

24 11 2010

MEC Borderline Hoodie

I’ve been wearing a MEC Borderline Hoodie for a couple years now. It’s one of my favourite things to put on regardless of where I am heading.  It’s water resistant and wind resistant…without being waterproof or windproof.  It’s durable and looks as good today as it did two years ago.  I’m on my 3rd one…I managed to lose the one [photo of me on a bike below] in the colour/pattern I liked most…=-( I have one in medium that fits perfectly over a t-shirt or LS base layer and I have a large I can wear over another fleece.  When I’m feeling wild I layer both Borderline hoodies one on top of the other.

Looking at the tech specs there is nothing radical about this hoodie yet in my closet of gear it jumps out and gets worn a ton more than other similar items.  It always seems to be dry and warm without getting hot.  It doesn’t absorb sweat or light rain much and always looks good even after being crammed into the bottom of a pack.  The outer fabric doesn’t pick up snow, slides easily when layering on top of or under other pieces and it doesn’t snag on velcro.

This hoodie is MIA if you see it tell it to come home!

MEC Spew:

Designed to ward off cold on the slopes, this casual full-zip hoodie has been treated with a polyurethane coating that steps up abrasion resistance, water repellency, and wind resistance. It works well as a mid-layer; the looser fit allows layering underneath and the smooth face fabric allows easy over-layering. You can also wear it alone in friendlier conditions, as it will shed snow and light rain.

  • Made of 88% polyester and 12% spandex jersey fabric with a Hardface® polyurethane coating that offers some moisture shedding ability.
  • Subtle print treatment.
  • Generous-sized hood.
  • Cinch toggles keep the hood in place while you’re moving.
  • Two handwarmer pockets with an internal headphone wire slit.
  • Slim fit
  • Weight 390grams
  • Price $105cdn

Fabric close up...

I liked the 2009 patterns better than the 2010’s.  The blue and the green colours look the best this year.  MEC is selling selected colours for $45cdn at the moment..unfortunately they are a bit hideous.  This is a great product I just wish MEC would offer a better selection of colours and patterns….each year has several options that just make you shake your head…how about basic black?  The other thing I would love is 1 or 2 two zippered pockets inside the kangaroo pockets for items you can’t afford to lose when jumping around outside like your keys or camera.

Porcelain Rocket

23 11 2010

Photo: Cass Gilbert

Scott from Porcelain Rocket has been busy riding his bike down in the Southern US with Cass Gilbert recently.  The trip must have really fired up his creative engine because he came back with all sorts of great bike bag ideas.  I hope to get my hands on 3 new custom bags for my Big Dummy, my Santa Cruz Nomad and for Kurt’s Nomad. I’m excited!

Scott's personal bike all tricked out to bikepack...

I’ve been using the bag Scott made for my Surly Big Dummy on every trip I take with it.  It adds a lot of useful storage for small items that I can get to even if my Dummy is fully loaded and has survived all my abuse without problems.  Scott is gearing up for a busy winter so if you need any bikepacking bags for winter racing or for a tour down south of the equator drop Scott a msg through this website.

My new Porcelain Rocket Big Dummy bag...

Here is a sneak peek at my new Big Dummy frame bag.  I won’t say much more at this point, but it will be another nice addition to one of my favourite bikes…=-)

My first Porcelain Rocket frame bag...

Installing NSI Clear Grip

23 11 2010

8 sheet package of Clear Grip...

One of the things I was not looking forward to when it comes to surfing is applying, removing and generally dealing with surf wax. It’s a PITA and it’s messy so I figured I’d see what other options were out there.  The obvious one was using an EVA deck pad.  EVA foam is very grippy and I know it works because I use it on my SUPs.  I was all set to get a SUP deck pad and trim it down to size for my 9’2″ longboard when I came across NSI’s Clear Grip.

Like wax just easier...

Clear Grip is a very thin [1/16″ = 1.6mm] textured translucent deck traction product that can be used on any water sports board or paddle that needs more grip with minimal visual or physical impact on the surface.  Unlike EVA foam, which is springy and changes how a board feels under foot, Clear Grip allows for the same board feel as with wax.  It comes in 18″ x 10.75″ sheets.  I grabbed an 8 sheet pack [~$72usd] for my 9″2″ x 22.25″ longboard.

First sheet of Clear Grip installed...

I’m not a great surfer and I have no experience with surf wax so I won’t attempt to evaluate and compare this product, but you can read this review that states Clear Grip worked great and is equivalent to a medium coat of surf wax. However, unlike surf wax you don’t have to reapply Clear Grip and it won’t melt off and get onto your car seats or furniture.  If you want to you can add some wax on top of the Clear Grip for more traction, but my goal is ride wax free if at all possible.


I mostly ignored the instructions.  I did clean and dry the board throughly where I wanted to apply Clear Grip.  Working from the tail I used a pattern of sheets that required minimum trimming.  I used faint marks on the sheets and the centreline of the board to get the sheets laid down in the right spots [more or less!].  I started at the bottom edge of each sheet and pressed down along the whole width moving towards the tip ensuring there were no bubbles forming.  I paid special attention to the edges and corners of each sheet pressing them down firmly into the board.

My board all Clear Gripped...

I only went as far up the board as I needed to to ensure I’d have a grippy surface for my hands when popping up.  I’m not about to nose ride so I’ll worry about the last 3rd of the board later.  I used 7 sheets of my 8 sheet pack leaving me with some spare material.  I’d probably need about 3 or 4 more sheets to fully cover this board.  Clear Grip is easy to work with.  It cuts fine with s sharp knife and you can pull it up and start again [at least for a while] if your eye hand coordination isn’t stellar.

Clear Grip is translucent - not clear...

One obvious thing about Clear Grip is that it’s translucent not clear.  The pics above and below show the worst case and best case situations.  Depending on the light and if your board is wet or dry the Clear Grip stands out a lot or a little.  You’ll stil be able to see the graphics under the Clear Grip, but it’s not like you are looking at a board’s surface directly.

Not bad looking IMO...

Compared to a board covered in surf wax it looks great – see photo below taken from a few feet away.

Can you spot the Clear Grip?

I’ve had the board out a few times now…what do I think?

  • how grippy Clear Grip is depends entirely on what you are touching it with.  The bottoms of my booties and the backs of my gloves stick to the Clear Grip really well.  The palms of my gloves are a different material that doesn’t grip as well.  The body of my wetsuit doesn’t slide around when laying or sitting on the board, but when I want to I am move around on it easily.
  • so far I am happy with the Clear Grip…I’m going to try sanding the area where my hands are during a pop up and if that’s not enough I’ll use a bit of wax on top of the Clear Grip on just that part of the board.
  • I haven’t had any issues slipping during my pop ups, but I feel like I want more traction there.  Time will tell if I need it or I’m just talking myself into having a problem where none exists.
  • I’m not doing any radical turns at this point so I’m not testing the foot traction terribly.  It seems good so far.