2012 BC Rando Schedule…

31 10 2011

My Boulder Bicycle All Road...

The BC Randonneurs have released their 2012 schedule. It looks great with quite a few shorter summer rides which makes me happy. I always found it funny that my rando season essentially wrapped up just as the weather started being nice. With 200km and 300km events in the summer I hope to get a few more rides in and enjoy Vancouver Island at the peak of its cycling season.

My goals this year are modest:

  • Victoria Populaire – 25 March [with Sharon on our Bike Friday tandem 50km route for sure and if Sharon’s up for it we’ll do the 100km ride]
  • Van Isle 200K – 7 Apr
  • Van Isle 300K – 21 Apr
  • one 200K in the summer
  • volunteer at 1 or 2 events

Yup – not an overwhelming set of goals. No new distances and not too many events. I plan on defending my 2011 Lantern Rouge Championship Cup.

You may be wondering why so few rides and nothing more than 300K? Well in the past when I have set more ambitious targets and not achieved them it felt like failure even though I have yet to DNF a brevet. I’m old enough to know that if I don’t do something after 2 or 3 tries than it’s because I don’t want to do it or I can’t do it. I know I can ride a 400K for example, but I haven’t made that happen which leads me to believe that despite wanting to achieve the goal of completing a 400K I don’t want to ride 400K if that makes any sense!

So my way around that is to stick with goals I know I will achieve and enjoy. When May 12th rolls around and the Van Isle 400K is being held if I’m up for it I can always jump on my bike and ride it and if not I haven’t failed to meet a goal and I can spend that weekend kiteboarding or MTBing or whatever I’m passionate about at the time.

I’m rando-lite and proud of it!…=-)

Victoria BC Fat Tire Riders Unite!

30 10 2011

Do you love fatties?

I’d like to connect with other fat tire riders in Victoria BC or on Vancouver Island. If you are in Vancouver or the PNW let me know as well. It would be fun to arrange for some group rides and get folks rolling on wide rubber together.

So if you ride a Surly Pugsley, Fatback, 9:zero:7, Sandman or if you’ve got some other rig that rolls on Endomorphs, Larry’s, Nates or Big Fat Larry’s drop me a line.

Fat tire touring fun...

Tubeless Larry

30 10 2011

Photo: Phat Divide Blog - Gorilla Tape Method...

I’ve found a couple methods online to setup Pugsley wheels without tubes. Given how much a fat tire tube weighs and how much hassle it is to change a flat this could be a very sweet idea – especially for riding in thorn country!

I’m going to give this a shot with my Pugsley wheels as I rebuild the beast and see what happens.

Private Parking…

29 10 2011

Sure - whatever!...=-)

Wear Out & Reuse Patagonia…

28 10 2011

A step in the right direction...

Patagonia has always had a great environmentally conscious perspective which I appreciated. The one thing I felt was missing was an emphasis on keeping and using your Patagonia gear rather than buying the new stuff just because it was new. I received an email this AM from Patagonia with the image above in it. Which is heading down the direction of promoting continued use and reuse – so thumbs up!

If anyone at Patagonia is listening the next step is to devote 1/3rd of the big glossy images in your catalogues, website and store displays to outdoor enthusiasts doing their thing in 2012 wearing 90’s & 00’s Patagonia gear. Don’t just talk about making good use of your gear – make it cool by showing state of the art climbing, biking, surfing, kayaking, etc…achievements that are accomplished with 10-20yrs old gear.

Challenge Patagoniacs to wear out their gear. It won’t be the best decision for your profits, but it will be good for your soul…=-)

Seaward Kayaks Factory Tour – Part 2

28 10 2011

Sign that welcomes you outside the factory...

In part 1 of this factory tour we had a look at how Seaward’s thermoform ABS plastic kayaks were made. Part 2 will cover fiberglass/kevlar kayaks. Seaward has been making fiberglass kayaks since it started operations 25yrs+ ago compared to making thermoform kayaks for only the last 7yrs. Although fiberglass/kevlar technology isn’t new it still provides the means for Seaward to build its finest kayaks.

This is because:

  • it’s a totally customizable hands on process
  • it provides a very light and strong structure
  • extra material can be utilized in highly stressed areas
  • it has a proven track record of success under extreme conditions
  • it can be easily field repaired
  • factory repairs look 100% good as new and are as strong as new
  • the lifespan of a fiberglass/kevlar kayak is 30yrs+ with minimal maintenance

Kevlar cloth is yellow and fiberglass is the white cloth below...

It’s funny to me that the fiberglass/kevlar section of the Seaward factory has a whole different vibe to the the thermoform areas. Thermoform production feels like a factory and the boats feel like they are being assembled. While the fiberglass production has a craftsman working on a piece of art vibe. There is no sense of mass production and everything is slower and made by hand. It all starts in the room where sheets of fiberglas or kevlar cloth are pulled out onto a big table and cut into the required shapes for each boat.

Kayak hull, deck and hatch patterns...

With patterns and mould available for every boat Seaward has ever made they can reach back into time and build anything they need to which is very cool. Unlike the thermoform boats each fiberglass/kevlar kayak is customized and unique. If you need a bigger volume boat to accommodate you size 15 feet they incorporate that into the production process. Need all the deck line and deck bungee attachement points reinforced? – no problem. A custom colour scheme and just about any feature you can imagine are all possible just ask. Doug mentioned to me that as the process to build a fiberglass boat started he talks to everyone involved and goes over any special customer needs to insure they are incorporated properly.

A deck mould prepped and ready to start building a red deck...

The correct deck mould is pulled from inventory and coloured appropriately for the customer’s order. In the image above a red deck is being built. Cloth and resin are carefully laid down into the mould by hand. This is a very labour intensive process that gets quality checked at each stage to ensure the kayak is being made as designed. The fact this is a hands on job accounts for the ability to customize each boat and also the reason for the higher cost vs. a thermoform boat. Typically a fiberglass kayak takes over 4 times longer than a thermoform one to produce. That’s a difference of about 40hrs vs. 9hrs.

A white hull mould prepped to go with the red deck above...

Unfortunately I didn’t see a fiberglass kayak being built during my visit to the Seaward Factory. I’m hoping to get a chance to pop back up there one day and watch both processes more closely. The engineer in me can’t help, but enjoy geeking out on how these boats are built!…=-) I was interested in how their QC process worked and found out that each step of the construction process was compared to the build ticket and the craftsman starting the new step signed off that the previous step was done correctly. If there was a problem observed it was rectified before production continued. At random points during the build and at the very end the production foreman inspects each kayak to ensure it meets the customer’s order perfectly. The love and pride put into these boats is clear from the way everyone at Seaward talks about them. They aren’t churning out mass produced widgets that are a commodity. The thermoform and especially the fiberglass/kevlar kayaks are treated like floating objects of art which I thought was cool. It’s nice to know the folks who made your boat care so much about it.

The inside of a kayak being built...

Once the deck and hull are ready they are joined with fiberglass seams on the inside and outside. The outer seam also gets it’s own 2 layer gel coat in any of the 15 Seaward colour options. You can order a custom colour pallet for each of the following kayak components: deck, hull, seam, hatches and combing. That makes for 15 x 5 = 75 combinations so you can have a totally unique boat if you want to or you can stick with something more standard.

Glassed in bulkhead...

The interior bulkheads are made of composite materials are glassed to the deck and hull. This combined with the glassed seam makes for any incredibly strong and light kayak.

Nicely contrasting combing...

Doug pointed out that Seaward takes special care to finish the interior of each combing and hatch so that it’s smooth. This ensures there are no rough edges to abrade you or your dry bags. My current plastic 14′ sit on top kayak is great, but it has a small front hatch and rough edges inside so getting gear in and out without compromising their waterproofness is a huge PITA. These kind of small details don’t seem super important in the showroom, but trust me on day 25 of a long trip you’ll be on the edge of insanity if none of your dry bags are keeping your gear 100% dry anymore.

Each combing is glassed into the hull to ensure it’s very secure.

She's nearly done...

One of the cool features that will be installed on the boat in the image above is a a Seaward Smart Rudder. This is a custom handmade rudder built by Seaward out of aluminum and stainless steel for strength and corrosion resistance. Rudder lines are run under the deck in low friction teflon housing to keep the exterior of the boat clean and free of any unnecessary snag points for safety. The rudder cables appear back on the deck just in front of the paddler so they can easily deploy/retract the rudder without having to twist around behind them and risk getting unbalanced like on  many kayaks. The rudder pedals are unique in that they are attached to the boat’s tracks solidly to allow for effective bracing even if a rudder cable were to break.

Rudder and handle have their own bungees for secure transport...

One of my least favourite transport rituals with my current plastic kayak is to duct tape the rudder and carrying handle to the boat so they aren’t flailing around at 110kph on the highway – potentially getting damaged and certainly marking up the boat’s finish. I was happy to see that Seaward has thought of this and each part has its own bungee so you can secure them in a couple seconds without hassles and without leaving tape residue on your lovely boat.

Hard 2 part hatch...

Seawards Greenland style kayaks use the smaller rubber hatches I talked about in my previous post about their thermoform kayaks. The larger North American style boats use a 2 part hatch like the one shown above. It is made up of a hard exterior hatch with a neoprene seal underneath. This provides the optimal combination of waterproofing and durability for hard use like expeditions or tour operations.

Note the bungee partially over the hatch combing...

Although these hatches are tough it’s possible that over the course of a couple decades you could damage or lose a hatch. This could be a major problem on a tour when you need a seaworthy boat to get you safely home. Seaward has thought of this and addressed this potential problem in 3 ways:

  1. both the hard outer shell and neoprene seal are attached to the deck with bungees so they can’t blow/float away
  2. in the image above you can see a hatch bungee partially over the combing…you can use any fabric [tarp, garbage bag, tent fly, etc…] to create a DIY waterproof hatch cover by placing it under both hatch bungees – very cool!
  3. Seward has used the same hatch shapes for a couple decades and doesn’t plan on changing so when you call them for a replacement hatch cover for your 20yr old boat after you run yours over – the answer will be “…sure no problem!…”

Quick release paddle float rescue system...

Their fiberglass boats get the smart quick release paddle float rescue system I discussed in my previous thermoform production post. I really dig this feature and it makes me feel much safer as I consider paddling in the rough waters of Vancouver Island.

A bunch of Seaward kayaks waiting to travel to their new homes...

I feel like I am not doing these high quality kayaks justice. There are many features and design elements that Doug passed on that I’ve forgotten and others that I know I am just unaware of. However, I am learning a ton about Seaward and their kayaks which was my goal. Trust me when I say that being around a bunch of finished Seaward fiberglass and kevlar kayaks is like walking around a Ferrari factory…glossy high performance goodness all over the place! Given my humble kayaking resume I feel unworthy of such beautiful boats that have carried expert paddlers on amazing expeditions all around the world…;-)

Some of the Seaward Kayaks pallet of colours...

Now that we’ve looked at how Seaward makes their thermoform and fiberglass/kelvar boats the obvious questions are:

  • what style of kayak should I buy?
  • what type of material should I be after?
I’ll tackle these topics in my next two Seaward Factory Tour posts.

Pugsley Redux – Part 1

27 10 2011

How she looks now...

How she looked new...

When things get this rusty it's time for some love...

We've had a lot of fun, but a price has been paid!


Steel is real, but rust never sleeps!



Stripped down and cleaned a bit...

Apparently just in time...

Loaded up for the trip to the powder coaters...

Fat ain’t just for winter!

26 10 2011

Fat is fun all year long...=-)

I should have done it years ago, but I finally got around to changing all my fat tire content from from the category of Winter Biking to Fat Tire Biking. Living in Victoria it’s unlikely that I’ll get more than a handful of snow biking days each winter and snow free winters are certainly possible. The previous post about Oregon dune touring and my own Baja fat tire adventures demonstrate that 4″ rubber isn’t just just for winter. I’m hoping to take things one step further and unleash my Pugsley on the local MTB trails to see how fat tires compare to my FS rig for normal riding.

Oregon Coast Dune Fat Tour

26 10 2011

Click on this image for a full report of this Fat-tastic tour...=-)

Seaward Kayak Factory Tour – Part 1

25 10 2011

Seaward Kayaks HQ...

Buying a quality sea kayak is a big investment. The Seaward Passsat G3 boat I’m keen on will run around $5000.00 depending on the options you choose. I’ve known Seaward’s factory was on Vancouver Island for a while, but with a busy summer of outdoors adventure happening I only got around to contacting them about a tour of their facility in the last week. I was surprised when Doug Godkin called me up within 30mins of sending them a brief email. He was very friendly and happy to show me around the facility. Since I was on a roll I asked if he would mind if I took some photos so I could blog about the tour and received a positive response which was cool – thanks Doug! We got around to discussing scheduling for the tour and Doug mentioned he had time the same day if I could make it up to Chemainus BC where they are located. It was a sunny warm day and I hadn’t been out on my KLR650 for a while so a 75km ride up the island seemed like a great idea.

The road north to Seaward Kayaks...

Chemainus is a lovely town I visited for a BC Randonneurs 200k cycling event last year and the same place I volunteered for their 600K later the same week. It’s famous for its many beautiful murals and a theatre group that does booming business year round – not to forget the stunning costal scenery and friendly people…=-) The 75km ride was fun and I managed not to get any speeding tickets in the uber slow 70km zones along the highway north! Seaward’s factory is an unassuming blue building located just off the Island Highway. I like these first glimpses inside a factory when you know that the plain exterior hides a slick team of people and machines that are building something cool for folks all around the world.

Seward Kayaks showroom...

Doug met me at the door – alerted by the thump…thump…thump of my bike. He was very personable and didn’t mind answering all my goofy questions nor spending a good chunk of his afternoon away from the important things that I’m sure were piled up on his desk. In fact he was so helpful that at one point in the middle of a detailled explanation of how the bulkheads were fully bonded to the upper and lower deck of their fiberglass/kevlar kayaks he stopped and asked me…”…are you going to remember all this?…”…I nodded weakly and realized I better pay back the time he was investing in showing me around by not messing up the technical details of their boats too badly! To that end I’m going to tackle this tour report in a few parts so I can devote a decent amount of time to each one.

Large thin sheets of Solar Kote ABS...

Seaward offers two different product lines: thermoform ABS plastic kayaks and fiberglass/kevlar boats. I’ll cover a breakdown of the differences between these two options later on once we’ve seen how each material is used to make a kayak, but the basic idea is the thermoforming process is faster/easier which results in lower cost boats – while the fiberglass/kevlar process allows for a ton of customization, but it takes a lot of time/effort so it costs significantly more. Before you can build either type of boat you need an excellent design and a prototype from which to build moulds. I didn’t see this part of the process during my visit to Seaward, but a look at the owner reviews on Paddling.net makes it pretty clear that Seaward is putting its 25yrs+ of experience in making kayaks to good use. I did see some moulds getting tweaked to make improvements and Doug was talking about new designs they had in the works so Seaward is continuing to innovate as they get feedback from paddlers.

A kayak deck mould...

Thermoforming process starts with large sheets of thin ABS plastic in a variety of colours depending on what the final product needs to look like. An appropriate deck or hull mould is selected and mounted in a large oven. The ABS plastic is placed above the mould and both are heated until the plastic sheet is almost a liquid. Then the mould is pressed up into the soft plastic and with the help of some vacuum action it takes on the exact shape of the mould. After some time to cool down the mould and hull or deck is separated and the process repeated.

A partial view of the oven and a mould in action...

By using an oven and mould Seaward can efficiently make thermoform boats that are identical and they can also switch up moulds easily so that customer orders can be addressed as needed with minimal loss of production. That’s a smart way to make kayaks.

A bunch of kayak hulls ready to become boats...

As you can see from the photo above there is a significant amount of excess plastic around the kayak hulls or decks once they come out of the oven. Seaward deals with this in two ways. The first is to use as much of each sheet as is possible by adding various smaller parts to a boat mould when possible as seen in the image below.

Two bulkheads at the end of a hull...

These bulkheads will be cut out and used when the deck and hull and joined together which means less work for Seaward and less unused plastic. The second way they deal with the excess ABS is to chip all of the trimmed plastic on-site and ship it back to the manufacturer to be recycled into new sheets of plastic. That’s a good way to lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of building each kayak.

Small parts moulds...

In addition to the big oven where decks and hulls are made Seaward has a smaller oven that is used to thermoform various parts like hatches, seats and bulkheads that are needed to complete a kayak.

Small parts waiting for a boat to need them...

One cool detail Doug passed on was that Seaward used a limited number of standard hatches in their boats so that owners wouldn’t have any issues getting spare parts 10 – 20yrs down the road. In a culture that is moving towards disposable products it’s nice to see a company not only build products that have a service life measured in decades, but also think about what support their customers will need to keep a boat happy in the long run.

A hull fully prepped and ready to be built into a kayak...

Each part of the kayak is trimmed of excess plastic and prepared to be joined together. This takes skill and some time, but it’s critical to producing a quality product.

Kayak decks being prepped for assembly...

All the folks I met a Seaward, from the managers in their offices to the guys in the shop assembling each boat by hand, shared two things – a passion for making a great kayak and a lot of skill. It showed in how they talked about their work and the results I could see at each step of the production process.

A kayak is a team effort!

Once both halves of the boat have been thermoformed and prepared they are joined together using a special adhesive and a rubber strip inside and outside. You can see this in the photos above and below as well as a protective bumper on each end which is one of the many small, but important details incorporated into these kayaks.

Inside a Seward Infinity...

I must admit I was geeking out so hard during my tour at Seaward that I didn’t take all the photos I needed to document my post. So I cheated by taking some extra pics of some Seaward kayaks at Mountain Equipment Co-op – one of Seaward’s dealer network. The boat in the images above and below was an Infiniti with a skeg. You can see the bonded in bulkhead above as well as adjustable foot braces.

Deck details...

Even though their thermoform kayak line is the lower cost option at Seaward they don’t get the budget treatment in any respect. The fit and finish is excellent and they incorporate many cool features like the comfortable carrying handle, abundant deck lines and waterproof rubber hatches shown above.

Rubber hatches - easy to use and waterproof...

Seawards Greenland style boats, like this Infinity, get rubber hatches. I like them because they are easy to use one handed and waterproof.

Open day hatch for small items you want easy access to...

As I am writing this post and processing the photos I took it’s cool to see how nice the finish is on these affordable plastic kayaks. That’s something I wasn’t expecting when I started the tour. I knew that Seaward’s fiberglass/kevlar boats would be beautiful to look at and touch, but I assumed incorrectly the lower cost plastic boats wouldn’t be that attractive. It’s nice to be wrong sometimes…=-)

Skeg retracted...

The Infinity has a retractable skeg to keep the boat tracking straight in strong winds and waves – while letting it be very maneuverable when you want it to be.

Elegant skeg control...

On my plastic kayaks and all the other kayaks I’ve used in the past the way you deployed the rudder or skeg was an ugly set of lines on the deck that you pulled on. It worked, but it was a hassle to use and added one more thing on your deck to deal with. Seaward uses this slick slider next to the cockpit that you move back and forth to deploy or retract the skeg – one of my favourite features!

Skeg deployed...

On my longest kayak expedition in Baja I had a Greenland style plastic roto-moulded boat with leaky hatches and no skeg – I would have paid just about anything to have a skeg and better hatches so these details are near and dear to my heart. I vowed not to go on another long paddling trip without a quality boat.

A QR paddle float rescue system...

In the image above you see two nylon straps behind the cockpit that are used in conjunction with a paddle float to stabilize the kayak so you can get back in and pump the water out. That’s great, but on most kayaks you have to reach around and really expend some effort to release the paddle which often means you capsize again in rough seas which leads to a very tired paddler in a dangerous situation. Seaward designed their paddle float rescue system to be quick release so an easy tug on either side releases the paddle and lets you stabilize yourself quickly.

A comfortable adjustable seat is important...

Kayakers, like cyclists, spend a lot of time on their butts so a seat that is comfortable and adjusts to different body shapes is important. I like the way the Seaward seat looks, but I’ll have to report back when I’ve been on one for several hours without a break.

Deck bungee and reflective deck line...

The last couple details I noticed were the standard issue deck bungees and deck lines. Not sexy, but essential on the water. One fun boat I had seen at the Seaward factory and at MEC was a shorter recreational boat called the Intrigue with a see though bottom for enjoying sea life.

See through bottom...

Well that’s the end of part one. Hopefully you’ve gained some insight as to how Seaward makes their thermoform kayaks and some of the features these boats have. If you have any questions about their thermoform kayaks leave me a comment and I’l track down the answer.

Next up I’ll post about their fiberglass/kevlar boats.

Lapland Snow Bike Tour…

24 10 2011

It’s HD and worth watching full screen on Vimeo!

Doug & Family’s CETMA Tour of the KVR…

23 10 2011

Doug and Fiona with their CETMA...

Doug is my uber-CETMA riding buddy from Calgary who went on a great tour of the Kettle Valley Railway [KVR] this summer with his wife and two kids. He posted a cool trip report over at the SPOT website that shows his route, has a slideshow and a write up of their trip. Just click on the pic above to jump there.

Doug and family on the KVR...

VO – Enjoy Life!

22 10 2011

A Velo Orange Poster...

Sharon’s Canadian Now!

21 10 2011

Sharon getting her Canadian Citizenship...

Sharon became a Canadian yesterday. She’s been in The Great White North for quite a few years, but started the process of becoming one of the team in 2010. A lot of paperwork and an exam later she’s a Cannuck…=-) Good job – just in time for our local mayoral election that has a pro-cycling candidate running!

Urban Mobility…

20 10 2011

Aaron - Stylish and mobile!

Getting around Victoria by bike is very convenient. The weather is usually conducive to pedal power and between the dedicated cycling infrastructure and flat-ish terrain you don’t face too many challenges rolling to your destination. Aaron is demonstrating that you can ride and look stylish while on your urban adventures. Unless I’m on some rando-esque type mission I eschew the bicycle uniform as well.

White was the theme today...=-)

Heck I also ditch the bike lock frequently and that is perhaps the biggest victory one can strike in terms of getting beyond the cycling paradigm. My Bike Friday Tikit is the essence of urban mobility for me…well that and my Blundstones!

Tikit porn...

Seaward Kayaks Passat G3

19 10 2011

Click on image for a larger version...

I’m an odd sea kayaker. I’ve spent months kayaking daily in the Sea of Cortez. I’ve done a major kayak expedition and a bunch of smaller tours. The only thing is my kayak experience has come in a few months long trips down to Baja. When I have sea kayaked I’ve done it like mad for weeks at a time, but then I’ve gone a year or two without touching a paddle. I can blame a bunch of that on living in Calgary for 15yrs. There are lakes and rivers to paddle on, but it’s hard to get stoked about paddling on a lake you can see across when your last paddle was an 8 week tour down the Sea of Cortez!

Now that I am living in Victoria BC – an international sea kayaking hot spot up there with Baja Mexico – it makes sense to get my paddle on at home. I own a 14′ plastic SOT [sit-on-top] kayak which I love. It’s ideal for fishing and short day trips. It’s not the most efficient paddling boat and it struggles if you load it up for a multi-day camping trip.

One of the things my time touring on inefficient plastic kayaks down in Baja has taught me is that I could really use an efficient boat. I’m not the strongest paddler on the planet and in order to cover a decent daily distance on tour pushing a barge through the water is not ideal.

One of the things I learned in the last year from cycling is how much more fun it is to travel together with my weaker partner on a tandem Bike Friday. Having experienced similar problems of unequal power and skill kayaking I can see how beneficial it would be to have a tandem kayak for Sharon and I rather than investing in two single boats. Not only does it keep the team together on the water for the sake of enjoyment it also makes paddling much safer. That’s an important consideration since sea kayaking has an element of risk, due to tides and bad weather, that isn’t present in biking.

Click on image for larger version...

I have always admired the sleek shiny fibreglass and kevlar sea kayaks I’ve seen on top of cars headed to the ocean and on the water down in Baja. Not only are they beautiful, but they glide smoothly and efficiently through the water while carrying a week’s worth of gear. I’ve held off buying a high end kayak simply because I felt my intense, but infrequent paddling schedule didn’t justify the cost. Now that I am living in a sea kayaking paradise I’m of a different mind so I started to do some research talking to everyone I saw with a boat, visiting paddling shops and checking out what people are saying online. One of the name’s that stood out was Seaward Kayaks. Owners’ and reviewers alike where impressed by the quality of their construction, their performance on the water and the excellent customer service. I was stoked to find out this was a Canadian company and then even more stoked to find out that their factory was just up the road in Chemainus BC.

My experience with Bike Friday has really shown me the benefits of buying from a small company that values quality and performance. I love being able to visit the place where my gear is made and talk to the folks whose hands have crafted the product I’m using to propel my adventures. I also really really like knowing that if I have a problem down the road there are real people I can call/email/visit who care and will help me out. Something you do not get with a low cost high volume made in China item.

Of course buying a Seaward Kayak isn’t cheap and a boat like this will last the rest of our paddling lives so I want to get it right. Each boat is customized for the owner[s] and I want to understand all the options so I get the right boat for us. So far that seems like a Seaward Passat G3 in fibreglass – hence the kayak porn in this post…=-)

Since I’ve always owned plastic boats I need to educate myself about the different material options available and the different features. I’ll be posting about what I find out on this blog – sort of a Buying Sea Kayaks for Dummies series…hopefully with a Seaward Passat G3 review and Baja tour report next winter…=-) Doug at Seaward Kayaks has been kind enough to agree to showing me around their factory and answering my questions. My mission is to learn a ton without being a PITA!

The Tao of Wow!

19 10 2011

Person, paddle and SUP - all you really need...

Over the years I’ve been exposed to a number of spiritual traditions.

  • My dad is Hindu.
  • My mom is Protestant.
  • I went to a Catholic high school.
  • I practiced yoga daily for over 3yrs when I was younger.
  • I’ve read extensively about Buddhism and other Eastern traditions.
  • And I’ve had friends that came were on many different spiritual paths.

Now that I am in my 40’s I find myself spending less and less time reading books about this topic or going to places where spirituality or religious experience is the focus. Not because I have no interest in that part of my life. In fact as I get older it seems to me that this is the whole point of life – to get a handle on your life and what it means. I’m finding that the most rewarding place to explore the experience of my life and to understand what it means to me is not in a yoga studio or in a temple, but in the everyday moments I live. There is no spiritual guide to help you down this path. Surfing and cycling don’t have a religious dogma to learn or spiritual instructional program. But, there is no reason that you can’t connect with God just as well flying through the air kiteboarding or gliding along in your sea kayak as you can in a yoga studio or church.

In fact I think that engaging in the direct experience of all that life has to offer in these ways has a benefit. Since there is no book, no manual or lexicon your mind is not being channeled down specific paths of thought. Your experience is beyond the bounds and constraints of language. Without words or a set of ideas someone else taught you you can engage with your life on a deeper level.

That lets paddling a SUP become a moving meditation. A consciousness expanding voyage into your reality. An appropriate metaphor when you picture a tiny SUPer floating on a vast ocean.

Your bike can be rolling along on two big prayer wheels as you pedal.

The wave that rises up behind you and pushes you along on your surfboard has travelled from halfway around the planet to interact with you in this one brief moment which makes it easy to appreciate the infinite connections we have with everything else.

Just to be clear I’m not down on churches, yoga studios or any other spiritual tradition. I figure there are so many flavours of humanity out there not everyone is going to get turned on to the same thing. Find what makes you passionate and embrace it.

Pink Power!

18 10 2011

Sharon was feeling poorly with a cold....=-(

So I figured it was time for some PINK retail therapy...=-)

Protect your chainstay!

I am not moving…

17 10 2011

TNF Twin Peaks Double Sleeping Bag

16 10 2011

A bag for 2! - there can be only one!

We do a lot of camping. Mostly it’s car camping on road trips to kiteboard in Canada/US or Baja. Plus a bunch of festivals like Burning Man. Trying to coordinate 2 sleeping bags suck and just using blankets or comforters leaves someone out in the cold. I found this low cost synthetic double bag from The North Face called the Twin Peaks – click on image above for specs.

It’s heavy and bulky, but for car based camping trips it looks pretty sweet. We’ll keep our eyes open for one of these and grab one at some point.

JT Pro Center

16 10 2011

JT – Puerto Rico…

15 10 2011

What I like about surfing?

14 10 2011

If the chubby superhero look was hot I'd be on fire...=-)

Surfing is an odd sport. Everyone knows about it and most think they understand what it’s all about. They are wrong of course…99% of what people learn about surfing from popular culture is wrong or misleading. I think this is illustrated by the number of people who are uber stoked to take surfing lessons vs. the number of people that actually become surfers. I bet the % that do actually become surfers is less than 5%. That’s not just because it’s hard or that you need to live by the ocean. Kiteboarding is equally hard, requires very specific conditions to be possible and lessons cost more than 10 times what a set of surf lessons cost – yet I bet the % of kiters that take lessons and become kiteboarders is something like 30%-45%.

I chalk up the huge difference in success rates to two  things:

  1. most people know little about kiteboarding until they get interested in learning and what they do find out is closer to reality so there is no disappointment or unrealistic expectations to deal with.
  2. out of a 3hr kiteboarding session you spend 2hrs and 45mins kiteboarding – out of a 3hr surf session you’ll spend 15mins riding the board on a wave – if you don’t suck!

Now if you are an expert surfer at a world class spot without too many other people that stat may improve, but it will never get remotely near closing the gap with kiteboarding for % time actually riding the board. So that begs the question why surf at all?

  • well the short answer is the challenge and simplicity of surfing a wave on your board results in a sublime feeling of connection with the ocean and through it the planet. It’s satisfying on a spiritual level in a way that nothing else I’ve done for sport has come close to.
  • on a more pragmatic level surfing is low cost, simple in terms of equipment and it’s easy to learn the basics while difficult to become an expert.
  • it’s a great workout for your whole body.
  • surfing is democratic in that wealth/status on land don’t matter in the water although there is a meritocracy in the surf based on skill, but anyone that can ride a wave gets a shot.
  • you can surf anywhere there is a wave which makes it more accessible than kiteboarding.
  • surfing is much safer than kiteboarding.
  • like earning a degree or passing a professional certification exam becoming a competent surfer earns you cultural respect due to the challenge.

Keep in mind of course that my perspective on surfing is strictly based on my experiences here on Vancouver Island where we have so many world class waves they simply can’t get used by the few surfers that live here. I’m not interested in battling for a wave. I just wait until it’s winter in the North Pacific on the remote far west coast of Canada and all the fair weather folks are safely in their homes leaving the waves empty and waiting for anyone who wants to ride them…=-)

Surfing has a huge benefit for me in that I can take anyone out in the surf and with 15mins of instruction they can be catching waves – poorly, but nevertheless riding a wave! You can’t causally kiteboard due to the cost and danger.

One thing I try to do when introducing folks to surfing is get away from the Hollywood image of surfing and let them know that just being at the beach hanging out before your session is surfing. That putting on your wetsuit and studying the break is surfing. Paddling out and getting pummeled in the waves is surfing. Floating on your board out past the break breathing deeply while you scan for a set wave is surfing. If surfing to you is only popping up and riding the wave you’ll be terribly disappointed since that happens so little in a surf session. If you can see the beauty of the whole sport and connect with all of it from waxing your board at home to the drive to the beach to the struggle to pull off your wetsuit when you are dead tired then you’ll love it.

US Road Trip Gas Pump Tip…

13 10 2011

Tired of having to go inside to pay with a Canadian credit card in the US?

I road trip in the US a lot. One thing that bugged me was having to go inside to pay for my gas with my Canadian VISA card because the pay at the pump machine wanted my US 5 digit zipcode – which I don’t have. Not only is it a hassle to walk inside to pay and then come back out to pump the gas you have to give them a fixed amount you want to pump. Not easy when your goal is to fill up your tank so inevitably you have to walk back in and stand in line a second time to get a refund.

Well there is a solution:

  • my VISA card’s billing addy has the following Canadian postal code – V8Z3S3
  • I swipe my card at a US pump and it asks for a 5 digit zip code
  • I enter 83300 and it starts pumping
  • Just use the 3 digits in your Canadian postal code and pad with 2 zeros at the end
  • Works everytime

Tofino we missed you…!

12 10 2011

Cox Bay...

I had hoped to post something about our surfing trip to Tofino last weekend, but I’ve been sick and crazy busy so that’s just not going to happen. Here are a few pics. As you can see I need a more functional waterproof camera to document our surfing antics as well as a convenient way to carry the camera as we are getting pounded!

Sharon grabbing her longboard...

We had a great time as expected and convinced a few friends to join us on the first day. That was a lot of fun…=-)


Sharon got to try out the Clear Grip we installed on her board – it worked great as expected. My Clear Grip sheets from last year are going strong. I had 1 corner peel up a bit, but it’s not getting worse so I think I’ll just leave it alone for now. I rounded the corners on the sheets I glued to Sharon’s board to prevent peeling. If you are sick of waxing your surfboard and aren’t an extreme surfer give some Clear Grip a shot.

Life and blogging will return back to normal next week…=-)

Milk Jug vs. Rubber Stair Tread…

9 10 2011

The champion...

I’ve tried making fender flaps from empty plastic milk jugs and rubber stair tread materials. The result of my on bike testing is:

  • milk jug is stiffer and not as attractive, but it lasts through years of tough use.
  • rubber stair tread material is more flexible and nicer, but it lasts about 1 year before the material will fail at any stress points and need to be replaced.
So if you want fire and forget flaps use the milk jug.

Surly Disc Trucker…

8 10 2011

Got discs?

I’m not in need of disc brakes on my LHT, but I know there are folks out there who can’t live without ’em. Well breathe easy Surly’s got your back and is coming out with disc brake equipped LHT’s in both 26″ & 700c wheel sizes.

Rear disc caliper inside the rear triangle...

The rear disc caliper is inside the rear triangle to allow simplified mounting of standard rear racks and fenders.

Spare spokes have been moved to the left seat stay...

I do like the dark green colour – very nice…=-)

Trucker porn...

Click on any of these photos to jump to the Surly Disc Trucker product page.

NSI Clear Grip Redux

7 10 2011

Sharon's pink longboard...

Update: NSI got us the missing 4 sheets of Clear Grip ASAP and I was able to install it today so Sharon can use the board in Tofino this weekend. If they hadn’t rushed the traction sheets I would have had to wax a part of her board and then strip the wax next week to install the Clear Grip. That would have been a big hassle. Thanks NSI for sorting out the problem so fast – you guys rock…=-)

I used North Shore Incorporated’s [NSI] Clear Grip stick on traction sheets on my longboard last year as a wax alternative. I liked it a lot as it provided excellent traction [while wearing booties] with almost zero maintenance. I had couple corners peel up after a lot of abuse, but I was able to glue them down and expect many years of use from these traction sheets.

I rounded the corners this time...

Sharon wanted the same type of traction sheets for the surface of her new custom longboard so we ordered up a another package of sheets from NSI. They sent us a 4 sheet package instead of the 8 sheet package we ordered, but they sent out another 4 sheets as soon as we told them – thanks! Having some experience with installing the Clear Grip on my surfboard I did a better job this time. I rounded off the corners of each sheet to prevent them from catching on my wetsuit or booties and peeling. I also just did a better job of applying each sheet in the right position without spending a ton of time messing around.

Looking good!

I didn’t use the application pattern NSI suggests on either of our boards. My method uses less sheets and puts traction everywhere you need it. I had a spare sheet left over from my longboard which I donated to Sharon’s surfboard. By efficient application of sheets we almost covered the entire area we needed to. We probably need 1 more sheet to finish things off. Although neither Sharon nor I are hanging ten at the nose so neither of us need traction at the nose of the board. When we get to that stage we’ll finish off the job with a few more Clear Grip sheets.

Note: that we do use a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where we place our hands when we pop up. The palms of our gloves are not sticky rubber so it doesn’t give as much traction on the Clear Grip as our rubber booties. I had to wax this small area on my board twice last season for a total of 30 seconds each time – YMMV…=-)

BC Tire & Tube Recycling…

7 10 2011

Don't throw out your old tires and tubes...

Richard turned me onto a bicycle tire & tube recycling program in BC. Click on the image above to just to the site. For a list of participating bike shops where you can drop old tires & tubes off click here. There are quite a few options in Victoria which is cool.

Fork me!

6 10 2011

Old left - new right...

I finally got Sharon’s Surly Cross Check commuter rig rolling again. As I installed the new fork I realized the Syncros headset’s lower bearing race was cracked from the collision. I was bummed as the headset cost $90 and was barely worn. I didn’t want to chuck it out. I tried finding a replacement, but no bike shop in town had anything useful. Talking it over with a mechanic I decided to throw everything back together and see what happened. The lower bearing is a sealed cartridge unit so it may work just fine for a long time. When if does fail the steering will get tight and I’ll swap in a new headset. I just told Sharon to let me know if anything changes with how easy it was to turn the bars.