Santa Cruz 29er Spew…

29 02 2012

Sedona Fat Tire Bike Shop Redux…

28 02 2012

Sedona's Fat Tire Bike Shop...

It’s been 3yrs [yikes!] since my last visit to Sedona’s best bike shop – The Fat Tire. Not much has changed. Dave is still building up some of the finest mountain bikes and tuning them to perfection. I urge you not to allow him to suggest a test ride of his personal Ibis Mojo HD unless you are prepared to be both super happy [at the amazing ride] and super sad [at how lousy your MTB rides in comparison]. If there is one thing I would share that I have learned from Dave – it’s that a $5K+ uber mountain bike is useless without having the suspension tuned by a master mechanic.

Dave and Aaron talk shop...

The Fat Tire is an interesting bike shop. Walk inside and you won’t see row after row of low and mid-range bikes with a few premium bikes placed strategically around the shop. You won’t see rack after rack of widgets and accessories that you may or may not need. Nope. Walk into the Fat Tire Bike Shop in Sedona and you’ll only see a few top shelf mountain bikes that have been custom built with love to meet the specific needs of each customer and a handful of accessories optimized for local riding.

Dave holds court...

It’s sort of like a Ferrari dealership. There are no bargins to be had and if you don’t want the best product for any given mission you are in the wrong place. On the other hand if you appreciate talking to someone who loves lives to ride a mountain bike, someone who has forgotten more about bikes than you know and someone who won’t let a bike leave his shop if it’s not perfect – then Dave’s your man.

Let’s be honest – saving a few bucks and not getting what you really need isn’t a bargain anyways.

A-Man testing out Dave's personal Ibis...

The Fat Tire is the only LBS I know of that is reverse marketing – trying to get the phone to ring less. Dave wants to spend his limited time helping out folks that appreciate a top notch mountain bike experience. He’s happy to rent you a premium Ibis Mojo HD mountain bike in Sedona to maximize the your holiday experience. He’ll tune or repair your existing bike or he’ll be happy to build you up a new mountain bike with a custom build specification.

Dave showing us how it's done...

If you are in Sedona I highly recommend you stop by and talk to Dave. He’ll give you a ton of useful information about local riding. Even if you don’t live in Sedona the Fat Tire Bike Shop can help get you on the right bike.

A-Man takes aim at a sweet Ibis...

A dream of mine would be to have Dave build me up a custom Ibis Mojo HD…one of the few bikes that gives the Santa Cruz Nomad a run for its money. Not only would I get Dave to customize the build to my needs I would drive down to Sedona for a bike fit & suspension setup. Since I was in town I might as well stay for a few days and get Dave to show me around his favourite trails. Call it the Deluxe Lazy Rando Package.

Hahahaha…I may not have the budget for this at the moment, but a guy can dream! It would be money well spent…=-)

FWIW – Dave’s help setting up the suspension on my Santa Cruz Nomad in 2009 was a revolutionary experience. Not only did he get my bike running so well it blew my mind, but he took the time to explain things to me so I could keep adjusting my suspension after I left Sedona.

Submarine Rock Loop – Sedona, AZ…

28 02 2012

Can you dig it?

Monday was our first full day in town so we wanted to get in a longer ride. The Submarine Rock Loop is a classic Sedona ride that was just enough gnar with a lot of fun curves to carve plus some slickrock to play on.

Taking the high road...

It was a cool and windy day.  So windy my bike fell over twice!

A-Man sampling some slickrock...

Starting out on Broken Arrow Trail we enjoyed some amazing singletrack that led to a small area of slickrock.

Testing out my brakes...

I felt a lot stronger than Sunday and didn’t have to gasp for air quite as pathetically.

Deep in the trees...

The quality of the trail started high and just kept getting better.

A-Man dropping off the Submarine...

Hard to believe, but we didn’t see any other mountain bikers until the we ran across a solo Ibis pilot at the end of the ride.

There were some pedestrians to contend with though...

The slickrock parts of the trail were popular with the Pink Jeep and 4×4 crowd.

Pink Jeep...

The Pink Jeep tourists seemed amazed anyone could ride a bike off road for more than a mile or two.

Icy cold beer hits the spot in the middle of a long desert ride...

Some friendly 4×4 guys gave us a couple icy cold beers – which were most appreciated.

Rolling down some chunk....

We spent a lot of time exploring all the side trails and variations we could find.

Are we lost?

We even managed to get a tiny bit lost on a closed trail until we realized the level of difficulty seemed over the top for a popular Sedona Trail. At least we got a taste of the riding back at home for a few minutes.

Wheel's eye view...

With a map and a look around at the many striking landmarks it’s pretty hard to stay lost biking around Sedona.

I don't need no stinking rear suspension...

A-Man showed off his skills muscling his Kona hardtail over all manner big chunky rocks.

Okay I don't fly like a butterfly...

My hand is still sore from the bikepacking crash 2 weeks ago so I kept my ego in check and rode conservatively.

Rock and roll....

No point taking any chances.

I could do this all day...

I figure a few days of easy riding and I should be able to rip it up at the end of the trip.

A-Man is enjoying his first full day of Sedona riding...

After Broken Arrow Trail [including a few detours] we hit Little Horse Trail and then rode Llama Trail again for good measure.

A-Man feeling all panoramic...

By the time we were on Llama Trail we were pretty tired, but when the singletrack unfolds in such a fun way around every curve there is no way to stop pedalling.

Where is Lazy?

After Llama we spun north on the Bell Rock Pathway to Mystic Trail.

Where did we park the truck?

By the 4hr mark we were hungry, tired and ready to see the truck…sadly there were a few more miles left.

Keeping my spirits high...

All good things must end and so did our ride. After Mystic Trail we still had another mile or two of pavement, but that was fast and painless. We were definitely happy to load up our bikes and head into town in search of food.

Done like dinner...

This trail loop is just amazing. So many miles of consistently awesome singletrack with stunning scenery in every direction and virtually zero mountain bike traffic to share the trails with. It really doesn’t get much better than this…or does it?….=-)~

My Nomad waiting to be blown over by the wind...

Llama Trail – Sedona, AZ…

27 02 2012

It's good to be back!

After a long, long, long drive we rolled into Sedona Sunday morning in time to have a delicious espresso at the Bike and Bean.  Not only do they have great coffee they are also the local Santa Cruz dealer. So I was able to get the spare derailleur hanger for my Nomad that was proving so elusive to source in Victoria.

Just follow this wiggly line...

We had a few hours to kill before we could checked in to our hotel. A fun shakedown ride was in order.

A-Man ready to ride....

We cranked across the highway to the Bell Rock Path and rolled north to Little Horse Trail. This isn’t hard riding, but Aaron and I are both fighting off colds not to mention our pitiful sea level lung capacities so there was some huffing and puffing.

Aaron staying legal...

It was a warm and sunny day with glorious singletrack spiced up just enough with rocky technical sections. It only takes 5 minutes of riding to remind you why the crazy long road trip was more than worth it.

Blue sky mine...

Little Horse Trail took us to a super fun ride down Llama Trail back towards the Bike and Bean. Fast curvy singletrack with bermed corners and traction galore. Pretty much the exact opposite of riding around Victoria!


I’m happy to report that all my technical suffering at the Hartland MTB Park has paid off with some displays of skill on the grippy rock steps and drops Sedona threw at us.

Bicycle Traveller Magazine…

27 02 2012

Click here to jump to the Bicycle Traveller website...

You can download a free copy of this bike touring magazine by clicking on the image above.

141 Airmiles…

26 02 2012

Canon T2i...

Update: Got the Airmiles  I needed and T2i has been ordered. I can get a decent flash from Airmiles so that’s my next mission. I’ll probably have to pop for a fast prime lens, but that’s okay. Crisp rainforest MTB action shots here I come…=-)

141 Airmiles is how many I am short from being able to order a Canon T2i DSLR for free. The Canon S95 I bought last Dec has been a big improvement over my older point and shoot cameras. It combines improved image quality [especially in low light] with a small form factor that is easy to take with me anywhere I go. My main photographic challenge is action photography in the forest. Even in summer light levels are low and in the winter we have very short days. The S95 does great with a tripod and for slow action moments, but as soon as the light levels drop and/or action gets faster it struggles.

All the angles...

So I’m back looking at DSLRs since I can get fast lenses for them and shoot ~3-4 frames/second in burst mode to catch all the action. During my last attempt to love a DSLR I couldn’t justify the weight/size for the results I was getting. However, that was in Alberta where getting lots of light for my typical photo needs was no problem. Living in the BC rainforest blurry photographs are a regular occurrence. I can either bring a more capable camera and deal with the hassle of a heavier/bulkier form factor or I can live with the image quality currently have.

What I suspect we’ll end up doing is to bring the DSLR along on rides that we determine are going to be particularly photo-centric for one reason or another. For the rest of the rides we’ll stick with the Canon S95. Hopefully we can strike a useful balance between image quality and hassle.

Santa Cruz Bike Torture Testing…

26 02 2012

Photo: Pink Bike - click on image to jump to original page...

Click on the image above to read a cool Pink Bike article about testing AL & carbon Santa Cruz Nomad frames to failure. I think it’s neat to see some of the tests they run. However, I would caution that these tests don’t tell the whole story. What they say is that carbon can be very strong in the face of some specific forces. What they don’t tell you is how happy you’ll be with your carbon MTB frame 3yrs into your expensive relationship.

For example what happens when you crash 4 or 10 times onto some sharp rocks cracking the surface of your carbon frame and then you ride it hard for another year? Will the crash impact combine with the repeated stress cycles to cause a frame failure?

We have a pretty good handle on how steel or AL MTB frames respond to typical use and abuse. I don’t feel the same level of confidence with carbon. That’s not to say you’ll never see me on a carbon bike, but it does mean I’ll be hesitant to throw down the big $$$ to run my own torture tests!

Don’t take this to mean I am anti-carbon. To me it’s just another potential frame material that deserves due consideration.

What would really be interesting is if Santa Cruz would release their warranty/crash replacement stats for the AL and carbon Nomads. That would clearly demonstrate how each frame material performs in the real world.

Big Dummy DIY Tail Wheels…

25 02 2012

Photo: Everyday Adventures Blog

Click on the image above to jump to the Everyday Adventures Blog and read about a DIY tail wheels project for enhanced Surly Big Dummy mobility. Even if you don’t own a Dummy you’ll appreciate how simple and smart this concept is.

What I love most about my Nomad!

24 02 2012

The fact that it's paid for!

Anytime I start to go down the road of  thinking my Santa Cruz Nomad Mk2 might be getting long in the tooth and need replacing I go online and build up some comparable replacement bikes.

Over $7K for this beauty!

It doesn’t take too long for me to feel very satisfied with my trusty steed and for the idea of getting the existing suspension rebuilt when it needs it rather than buying a new bike.

I love the Mojo HD, but not the price!

Luckily Santa Cruz and Fox built this bike so it can be fully rebuilt at a reasonable cost. When my suspension is truly dead I’ll get Suspensionwerx in Vancouver to bring it back to life with custom internals so that the bike will not just be rolling again, but it should be better than ever!…=-)

Occasionally  I get green with envy for a carbon Nomad..=-)

I do give myself a pat on the back for buying a quality bike with a build that has stood the test of time. 3yrs after throwing a leg over my Nomad the same bike is still being sold by Santa Cruz as a state of the art all mountain gnar shredding machine. I like that. Big props to SC for not following the annual model year upgrade trend most of the bike industry is focused on. They change things when there is a worthwhile change to be made and when there isn’t their designs stand the test of time. This lets them focus 100% of their energies on new projects and priorities rather than feeling like they gotta tweak every bike every year.

Retroshift Unwrapped…

23 02 2012

Retroshift unwrapped...

The nice folks at Retroshift sent me a pair of their drop bar brake levers with bar end shifter mounts to try out. I’m not 100% which bike I’ll put them on, but I’m leaning towards the 26″ Surly LHT. Since I’ll be away from the Lazy Rando Command Center until mid-March I figured I would share some detailled photos of the levers and my initial impressions. A detailled review will have to wait a bit.

Simple and elegant...

First off the packaging and instructions are minimal – just a thick ziplock bag and a bit of stiff poster board telling you to check out their website for installation instructions. That works for me. I like packaging that’s appropriate to ship the product and can be reused or recycled once I take the item out. If I was the Retroshift guys I would print a photo of a typical install on the back of the poster board to 1) make the packing more attractive and 2) to help folks that need an idea of what they need to do get moving in the right direction.

My Shimano bar end shifter will go here...

What I got in the package:

Some other angles...

I’ll be providing my own Shimano Dura Ace 9spd bar end shifters and I’ll probably use some Tektro cantis.

Shift cable and housing go in here...

The Retroshift levers exude an industrial working man aesthetic. There is nothing fancy going on here, but everything is clean, simple and purposeful. Retroshift has been engraved into each lever and on the bar con mounts, but it’s subtle enough you won’t notice unless you are leaning down and staring at the levers. If you don’t like logos this won’t bother you. The hoods are smooth firm rubber and I like the shape of them. The levers have an ergonomic curve that’s pleasing to the hand. The overall feeling is of a solid well made part.

Cable release don't work due to bar con mount...

One issue with the Retroshift modification of the Tektro brake lever is that the cable release button doesn’t do anything. Normally the lever would tilt back further inside the hood, but the Retroshift mount prevents this. Probably not a big deal for most people, but if that’s a feature you use frequently on your current setup be aware of this limitation.

Bottom line the Retroshift levers look like a nice product and I’m stoked to try ’em out as soon as I get back home in March and post a full review.

Click on image to see more high res pics...

Seaward Cosma Kayak Review

22 02 2012

Seaward Cosma waiting for me to get going...

The nice folks at Seaward Kayaks lent me a 16’2″ Cosma touring kayak to paddle for a few days in December. I have spent many months sea kayaking and touring, but almost all of my experience has been down in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Baja Mexico in low performance plastic sit-on-top boats. I am an competent paddler whose never been in a state of the art boat. So getting a chance to try out a sweet kevlar sea kayak put a big smile on my face.

Long and lean...

Although looks are not the primary reason you buy a sea kayak it’s always nice to be stoked about your boat. I was in a rush the day I picked up te Cosma so I didn’t spend much time looking at it. I just strapped it to my car and drove it home. I stashed it in my backyard in the dark and went about making dinner. The next AM I walked out on to my deck and was totally mesmerized by the clean lines and sleek profile of the Cosma. My plastic kayaks have served me well, but to be honest they are F-ugly! I didn’t appreciate how gnarly they looked until I had this Seaward boat sitting in my yard 3′ from the old boats.

She looks fast even on grass!

Once I got over the sleek lines and general sexiness of the Cosma I spent a hour checking out all the cool details and expert craftsmanship that went into making her. I get fascinated with beautiful sea kayaks, mountain bikes and surfboards because they look so amazing and at the same time their purpose is to go out into some of the harshest environments and perform reliably for us. So their beauty is very deep – it’s the beauty of their appearance, the beauty of how they perform and the beauty of how tough they are.


Getting over the visual appeal of the Cosma I had to move it to the side of my yard and enjoyed how light it was. My other kayaks are not as long as the Cosma and they can’t haul as much, but they are a lot heavier. I could move the Seaward with one hand and without feeling like I was in a weight lifting competition. That would prove very handy for loading onto the roof of our car solo.

Deck bungees...

All the deck attachments are very robust.

Rear hatch...

On my longest kayak tour 4 months in Baja I developed a love-hate relationship with my boat’s hatches. They were small so loading unloading was a chore, but they kept water out which made me happy. The Cosma offers the best of both worlds with large waterproof hatches so you can get what you need easily. This is a must have feature for any boat I buy.

Self-rescue system...

Coming from SOT kayaks one skill I need to work on is my ability to re-enter my boat in the water. Having a proven paddle rescue system on the Cosma made me feel more confident about going through that process. Even though I was too lazy to spend a bunch of time in the cold water during my short test.

Welcome to my office...

A comfortable cockpit is critical to happiness in a touring kayak as much as saddle comfort is important on a touring bike. You spend all day sitting in your boat with limited opportunities to get out and move around. I found the Cosma’s seat and backrest were comfortable for the half day length of paddles I was able to fit in. If I was keeping the Cosma I’d spend some more time tweaking the fit, but as it stands I was pretty happy right out of the gate. The rudder pedals were also easy to adjust and comfortable. I didn’t deploy the rudder as I was having too much fun leaning the Cosma to steer it. I tend not to use my kayak’s rudder unless absolutely necessary so it’s a feature I want to have, but as long as it’s there and works I happy to let it sit on my stern most of the time.

One issue I had with the Cosma’s cockpit was that my legs felt cramped. It’s a very low profile boat and I have long legs with big feet attached. When I get a chance I’d like to try one of Seaward’s high volume boats as I think I would prefer having the extra room. If you are taller that’s something you may want to consider when ordering a kayak.

Rudder deployment control...

A nice feature on the Cosma is having the rudder deployment controls in front of the cockpit for easy access and having them recessed so that you don’t snag anything on it.

Bow details...

Lots of deck rigging options on the bow.

An unusual perspective of the Galloping Goose Trail...

So I want to be clear that I did not test the Cosma to its full potential. Mainly because my kayak skills are rusty and being new to high performance sea kayaks I didn’t want to end up as a statistic in some ocean safety report. I can only report about how she handled for easy day paddles on calm water unloaded.

Here are my thoughts:

  • easy to get into and out of  on shore [strikes a good balance between small cockpit opening and ease of entry]
  • hard chines provide excellent stability
  • you can set the Cosma on edge nicely to turn the boat
  • comfortable seat and backrest
  • very efficient boat
  • glides well and tracks straight

Here is a review from Canoe and Kayak Magazine.

Seaward Cosma specifications - click here...

Click on the image above to read all the Cosma specification details on the Seaward website. I won’t regurgitate the same info again here so let me summarize by saying the Cosma is a great day tripping and light touring boat. My initial impressions have been positive and I’m hoping to get a chance to borrow it again to test in some more demanding paddling conditions.

View from the cockpit...

You can read user reviews of the Cosma over at

Cosmic beauty...

You can read my Seaward Kayak Factory Tour posts here.

Zermatt Switzerland…

21 02 2012

This is a repeat, but it’s worth another look and I’m crazy busy today since I managed to delete my 2011 business tax spreadsheet. Let me assure you entering your receipts the second time is not any more fun than the first time…=-) But as Al Capone found out – you don’t mess with the Tax Man!

QBP Fat Tidbits…

20 02 2012

Salsa Full-Suspension Fatbike...

QBP [aka Quality Bike Parts] owns a lot of bike companies you are familiar with such as Surly and Salsa. For a big company they seem to be cool with a lot of bikey weirdness – which is a good thing. Salsa is showing off a prototype FS fatbike – seen above. Another QBP company 45 North is pimping a prototype fatbike studded tire – seen below. Neither product is available for sale yet, but they both look promising.

Scandal 29er Upgrades…

19 02 2012

Crank Brothers Joplin 4 dropper seatpost & remote kit...

I’m definitely sold on the idea of an adjustable height seatpost for technical mountain biking and one of the selling points of the On One Scandal 29er frame I bought was a 31.6mm seat tube for dropper compatibility.

Joplin 4 with under the saddle lever...

To be honest I wanted a Rockshox Reverb, but I came across this CB Joplin for less than 50% of a Reverb and figured it was enough post for my needs on this bike.

Bar mounted Joplin remote kit...

I scored the remote kit for the Joplin because I may want that level of ease of use, but I’m going to try the under the seat lever to start with. I prefer the Crank Brothers remote to the Kind Shock remote on my Nomad so if I don’t end up using this remote on the Scandal it will go on my other mountain bike.

180mm disc rotor upgrade...

I’m not one of these guys that has disc brake rotor insecurity issues. For example – my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike rolls on a 160mm front rotor even with heavy loads. However, our mountain bike trails here on the South Shore of Vancouver Island are very very steep and I’ve been wanting a bit more front end braking on the Scandal so I upgraded to a 180mm rotor.

Size matters...

I had a slightly different 29er planned when I bought the RockShox Reba RLT with 9mm dropouts. Which is why I didn’t get the tapered steered tube & 15mm QR version. I decided to stiffen up the front end a bit by using a DT Swiss RWS 9mm skewer vs. the standard 5mm QR I started with. Luckily my Hope front hub will work with just about any fork axle standard out there.

Big and beautiful...

The last upgrade is swapping in one of my old Selle Anatomica leather saddles. I’m expecting some epic long MTB rides in Sedona and my butt loves the SA saddle!

Joplin 4 with Selle Anatomica saddle...

Sedona 2012…

18 02 2012

Red Rocks - Rock!

I was totally bummed when I couldn’t go down to Moab last fall and mountain bike. I have a special relationship with the desert that puts a huge smile on my face every time I roll my tires across its dry rocky trails. However, life does place obstacles in our path that can’t be denied sometimes. That said I am nothing if not persistent! So I’ll be down in Sedona from about 26 Feb through 6 March. If any blog readers are in the area and want to hook up for a ride and some beers just drop me a line. Aaron “A-Man” Mankowske will be accompanying me to get his fine Kona Explosif all dusty…=-)

Sorry for the lack of advanced notice, but I didn’t want to be talking about the trip until it was pretty solid. I don’t want to be that Blogger that’s all keyboard and no riding….;-)

Hopefully I can make it down to Moab this fall since Burning Man is a bust for us. I want to ride the Whole Enchilada real bad!

BTW – if anyone knows of cheap accommodation in Sedona that’s got solid WiFi let me know.

My 29er MTB Bikepacking Setup…

17 02 2012

My 29er On One Scandal mountain bike setup with Porcelain Rocket bags...

Okay first off I beter say that the frame bag you see here is from my Surly Pugsley and doesn’t really fit the Scandal properly. So don’t think if you get a framebag from Scott at Porcelain Rocket that it will fit so poorly. I just jammed the bag into this bike while I wait for Scott to build me a custom bag that will fit this frame perfectly.

The key to a great bikepacking setup is the ability to carry the gear you need on your bike with as little impediment to how it rides off pavement. You can fit panniers and racks to most mountain bikes, but they end up being the weak spot in the bike so you have to slow way down and ride cautiously lest you break something. Your handling is also compromised so that technical riding becomes hard to impossible. When Kurt and I rode our Pugsleys on the CDN GDR with racks and panniers we had fun, but I vowed never to bike tour on dirt with that setup again – unless there was some overwhelming reason to carry that much gear.

Same Porcelain Rocket bags on my Surly Pugsley...

You can see the same bags on my Surly Pugsley above and appreciate how well the frame bag fits the bike it was custom built for. This is a typical bikepacking setup and is designed to keep the weight securely attached to the bike as close to the center of mass as possible. The bags have a limited carrying capacity which forces you to load them with only what you need and the bike remains “thin” which aids in sneaking between obstacles and facilities the seemly inevitable pushing you have to do. If you are fast enough it also keeps wind resistance to a minimum.

So a word about why soft bags are such a great idea for a dirt road or mountain bike trail tour. Standard panniers and racks are stiff and heavy. They hard mount to your bike which means every bump gets transmitted very efficiently from your bike to the racks and then to the panniers. Eventually that will break something. Even if you are lucky and don’t break your gear you will spend your whole trip babying it always taking the easiest/smoothest path to reduce the beating your bike takes. With soft bags the attachment points to your bike are secure, but they can give a little which absorbs the shocks they see without stressing out and breaking them. The upside is that you can ride your mountain bike like a mountain bike while carrying food, water and shelter.

Seat bag...

Seat Bag:

  • thermarest sleeping pad
  •  bivy sack/tent [no poles]/hammock
  • jacket when not being worn
  • this bag acts like a fender when riding in wet conditions

Frame bag...

Frame Bag:

  • bike tools
  • pump
  • spare tube
  • food
  • stove/pot/fuel/lighter
  • mini first aid kit

Top tube bag...

Top Tube Bag:

  • bike light battery
  • camera
  • snacks

Front roll bag...

Front Roll Bag:

  • sleeping bag & spare camp clothes inside 10L OR dry bag
  • tent poles outside bag if you got ’em

Front bag pocket...

Front Bag Pocket:

  • snacks
  • cellphone
  • wallet
  • headlamp
  • maps

Dinotte XML-3 bike light...

Front End Bike Stuff:

  • Dinotte XML-3 900 lumen light [waterproof enough power for full night at low/high power for fast downhill runs]
  • Ergon grips for hand comfort
  • bar ends for extra hand positions
  • 180mm disc brake to slow down on steep hills with a load
  • 100mm suspension fork to allow for faster speeds on rough surfaces
  • BMX platform pedals for lots of grip in whatever shoes I want to wear

The back end...

Rear End Bike Stuff:

  • red blinky for nighttime visibility on the trail and road
  • Alfine 11 IGH for wide range weatherproof drivetrain and strong undished rear wheel
  • wide supple 29er tires with enough tread for loose conditions climbing
  • wide strong rims
  • 160mm disc brake [more than enough braking at this end]
  • comfortable leather saddle

On the trail...

Stuff I need to add:

  • water bottle cages on fork [w/ hose clamps]
  • fuel bottle cage under downtube [w/ hose clamps] for longer trips only
  • GPS [w/bar mount] when needed

Backpack or no backpack?


I ride my mountain bike with a hydration pack when on the trails. I used a slightly larger daypack for the ride out to the Sooke Potholes to carry water and some spare clothes. In general I think it’s better to keep the gear off your back and on the bike. Firstly it forces you to be ruthless with what you are carrying and secondly it’s much more comfortable. Plus it means that for specific trips where you need to carry a lot of food, water or clothing you have an option that isn’t already full of stuff.

I’ll be adding water bottle cages to my fork legs so I don’t need a hydration pack for fluids. I’ll be a bit more efficient about the clothes I bring and carry any spare clothes I am not wearing on my bike – either in the front roll bag or the seat bag. That will mean I can skip a backpack for most trips and if I really do need some extra cargo capacity I can add in a pack at that point.

Stylish and comfortable...


It’s hard to be too specific about clothing since so much depends on where you ride, what time of the year it is and what the forecast is for. Here is a sample of what I might bring on a ride here on Vancouver Island:

  • toque [never leave home without it]
  • buff neck warmer
  • sunglasses
  • fleece gloves
  • rain jacket [as breathable as possible means less sweat and you can wear it most of the time]
  • wool top [maybe 2 if it’s cool so I can layer]
  • synthetic capris
  • wool 3/4 tights
  • wool leg warmers
  • wool socks
  • shoes
  • rain chaps and rain glove covers

Gravel Pimping…

16 02 2012

The Gravel Pimps at Oak Bay Bikes Westshore...

Scott and I have been talking about getting out and doing some bikepacking on the south end of Vancouver Island, but life has been getting in the way. So we decided to make a break for it when we saw a window of good weather Monday. With both of us busy with work our departure got pushed back until 4pm. In December that would have meant a 100% night ride our first day, but just a few weeks later we still had nearly 2hrs of daylight to enjoy from the saddle. We stopped in at the Westshore location of Oak Bay Bikes just to say hi and check out what they had on the floor.

What else would I rock for bags?

It got dark soon after we left OBB on the Galloping Goose Trail. We both had about 900 lumens of LED firepower at our disposal which we didn’t use at full-power given the easy terrain and our sedate cruising speed.  We wanted to hit up the 17 Mile House Pub on Hwy 14 for beers and burgers so I stopped a few times to check my iPhone. I don’t like riding with a GPS on my bars unless absolutely necessary so I had to stop and retrieve my phone each time.

Scott warming his hands...

During one of these stops I found myself at the top of a set of stairs [click here for a photo from the next day’s return trip]. Scott wisely backtracked and went down the trail. I of course had to do a stupid human trick and decided to ride down the stairs. Now normally this would be no problem, but at night with a new bike loaded for the first time with gear and backpack, my weight distribution and inability to get back off the saddle because of the seatbag resulted in an over the bars endo/vault. Thankfully not very fast, but nevertheless I ended up with two sore palms and a bashed up elbow/knee on the left side of my body.


It’s been years since I’ve been even moderately hurt on a MTB so I don’t feel hard done by, but what a dumb way to get banged up. No heroic story of a 6′ drop off a skinny wood bridge while being chased by a cougar…just operator error!

Got gravel?

Luckily I was able to find a hand position on my bar ends that wasn’t terribly painful and we cranked along the rest of the way to the pub. Several pints of beer and many dead chicken wings later I was feeling better. I climbed back on my bike gingerly and we cruised the rest of the way to our destination for the night.

A room with a view and no doors!

I had spotted this shelter last time I was up this way biking with Aaron. Since only crazy people go camping in early February on Vancouver Island we had the place to ourselves and simply ignored the no camping signs. Yeah we are bad asses!

Low rent, hardwood floors and indoors bike parking - score!

The shelter was spacious and clean with great protection from wind and the inevitable rain that was to fall that night. Bikepacking bags only let you carry the bare essentials so we didn’t get up to much upon arrival beyond setting up our sleeping bags and munching on a few snacks. When it’s dark and cold I find myself very quickly jumping into a down cocoon! I told Scott he could yell and kick me if I was snoring too loud and with that I passed out.

Black and white On One Scandal 29er...

I woke up in the middle of the night and did a quick inventory of my aches and pains. Everything was feeling pretty good except for my left hand which was very tender and swollen. Not great, but at least I knew I could bike home with 4 out of 5 contact points on the bike feeling decent. Back to sleep I went.

Rohloff'd Hunter 29er...

I wish I had a watch in my sleeping bag as I got up at 6am [according to Scott] to pee and went back to bed because it was still dark. Had I known it was 6am I would have probably made a move to get rolling. After a certain point sleeping on a hard surface with a thin thermarest doesn’t provide much additional benefit.

It's alive!

It started to just get light at 8am so I got rolling. I fired up the stove and made a random dehydrated meal I found at home and some green tea. It was less than gourmet, but it hit the spot.

Minimal, but effective...

Water is plentiful in the rainforest so dehydrated meals are very handy if not the most delicious thing you can eat…=-)

Clean well stocked toilets...

Although we didn’t make much use of the campsite infrastructure there were lots of tables, water and clean toilets close at hand. Nice to see tax payer $$ going towards something I cared about instead of fighter jets!

Sooke Potholes Regional Park...

There was an old mining town a few KMs north from us and I had hoped to spin up there and check it out, but my hand was really sore and I decided it was best to make tracks for home, painkillers, ice and beer!

Scott loading my bike bags...

With one bum hand I was having issues loading my gear back into my bike bags. Scott was kind enough to help me out. Lucky for him I hurt my left hand otherwise I would have needed some assistance in the toilet as well….hahaha! =)

One last look back at our hut...

The scenery up this far along the Galloping Goose Trail is stunning something you can’t appreciate riding it at night.

Pointing our bikes down the map back towards home...

I was sad to miss the mining town, but it will be there next trip. This run up the Goose is our entry pass into a vast network of forest service roads. So unless we drive our bikes to a different starting point all our bikepacking rides will pass this way.

One of the many wooden bridges on the Goose...

My left hand wasn’t terribly happy, but as long as I lifted it off the bars before any major bump was encountered I was able to tolerate light pressure as I gripped the bar end.

Scott keeps it in first gear...

We rode down the Goose slowly in a light rain. Scott kept his back brake on the whole time just to get a better workout…=-)

Yo - check the Pimp rig...

Happily the wide 29er tires rolled well over the gravel/dirt trail surface making it an easy task to spin back towards Victoria.

Another killer view...

The spectacular views helped me keep my mind off my aches and pains!

My bike not looking so clean...

I was happy to roll into my yard and pop a couple Tylenol as I took a swig from an ice cold Corona! Despite my stupidity it was still great to be out on the bike on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. This ride let me figure out some things about my bike and how to best pack it for future adventures.

Nothing a quick hose down can't fix...

The Alfine 11 IGH and the 29er hardtail bike is proving to be a fun versatile machine that’s ideal for lots of different adventures. I’m going to take a few days off the bike to let my left hand rest and then I’ll be back hard at work wearing out parts…=-)

BTW – in case you are wondering about the title of this post we decided that “Gravel Grinding” sounded too boring for a couple wild and crazy guys like us – hence we coined the new term “Gravel Pimping”. You have our permission to use it as you wish!

Double Danny…

14 02 2012

Danny MacAskill always makes me smile…=-)

Almost Stole Two!

13 02 2012

Threading the green...

Waking up Sunday the ground was wet from overnight rain and the forecast for the day was a wet one, but once again it wasn’t raining as I sipped my usual cup of hot tea in the morning. Hmmmmm….I decided on a bold plan to steal another ride on what was supposed to be a rain day.

Sunday Rainy Sunday!

My level of seriousness is clear when I say that I skipped cup of tea #3…generally I can barely get my pants on before that third cup has been consumed and the caffeine, milk and sugar do their magic. However, I figured the Bike Gods might appreciate such a sacrifice and have a chat with the Rain Gods to give me some extra time so I could crank some extra turns!

Taking a dip...

The good news is it didn’t start to rain before I left my house. The bad news is that it did start to rain before I could start my ride at the Partridge Hills parking lot. Now I am no foul weather rider and I won’t leave my house in the rain for a ride unless someone’s life is at stake. However, in my admittedly arbitrary rules of engagement manual –  rain in the parking lot leaves some room for discretion since I was already there and geared up.

Where is a tree when I need one?

The forest takes a while to saturate before the trees dripping on you equals the same level of wetness as the rain above the canopy. So what the heck I’m running an IGH I fear no mud…=-) Cranking up the multiple climbs that take you to the Partridge Hills trails I didn’t regret my choice. I had a beautiful green and brown landscape all to myself.

Evidence of a good time in the woods...

While I wouldn’t say I knew where I was the whole time I did manage to link up and ride some of my favourite P-Hills trails. I climbed some of the steepest loosest sections ever thanks to the excellent 29er traction and my ability to lock in my riding position on the hardtail. All in all a great day to ride and I am glad I scored rides on both days this weekend. =-)

This video isn’t of me or my bike, but it’s a 29er hardtail being ridden in the same terrain with a similar soundtrack playing in my head…=-) I figured it would give you a better sense of what South Shore Vancouver Island riding is about.

Stole One!

12 02 2012

Alone in the woods...

The forecast was for several days of rain including the weekend. I missed out on a window of opportunity Friday while I worked just to have it start to rain as I was loading up my bike for a ride.

Gorgeous trails in the forest...

So when I woke up Saturday to dry skies I decided I better get outside and steal a ride on what was supposed to be a rain day.

Taking the wide road...

Not sure why, but getting a ride in on a day that you assumed would be a write off is so amazingly sweet…=-)

A quick rinse in the creek...

Interestingly lines I couldn’t clean with my Nomad’s 6″+ of FS I could handle on the 29er, but at the same time other sections that the Nomad gobbled up without pause challenged me with so much less squish. That’s why you have XC bikes and All Mountain bikes!

Rolling the big 29er hoops...

Riding different bikes back to back on the same trails is so much fun and makes you appreciate the finer points of each design.

Things were a tad juicy...

One place the IGH 29er hardtail definitely will win out is when things are wet and muddy the clean up and maintenance is soooooo much simpler.

A quick hose down and lube of the chain...

A-Man Urban Mobility Style…

11 02 2012

Looking good & being mobile!

The Bridgestone Knickerbocker Hombre:

  • Cap – Walz Organic Cotton
  • Jacket – Sombrio Wingman. Stuffs into it’s own pocket, pit vents & large hood
  • Shirt – Thick cotton, made by the Gap, purchased at a used clothing store
  • Undershirt – Sugoi merino base layer (don’t buy one, this one sucks.)
  • Knickers – Ibex commuter wool. Love it, warm & comfy & has been holding up extremely well. Go buy one now & rejoice.
  • Gloves – Knog “Moose Knuckle” winter glove. Leather palms, padded & large terry-cloth sections on thumbs ( left hand for snot, right hand for sweat, don’t mix ‘em up, trust me I know.)
  • Socks – Point6 Merino Wool. Slightly thicker for winter, thin low cuff ones in the summer. Nice & toasty with no funk.
  • Shoes – Timberland, reg. street shoes, nothing fancy.

It's not all about the bike..;-)

If you want to see the whole A-Man photo shoot click here.

Aaron standing up for Folder Power!

Small Wheels Big Smile:

  • Cap – Walz cotton
  • Vest – Gore Bike Wear. Windstopper front w/ mesh back panel. One of the best clothing purchases I’ve ever made. Inconspicuous & rolls up very small. Two front zip pockets.
  • Sweater – Chrome Cobra Merino ( I like wool, can you tell?)
  • Jersey – Adidas polo type. Crazy soft, wicks well & looks pretty dashing.
  • Knickers – Ibex, what can I say? I wear these everywhere.
  • Socks – Point6
  • Shoes – Tsubo Tacoma, reg. street shoes, no cleat bolts (for clipped riding I use either my Specialized TR Elites , Diadora Cayman ( which are well over 10 years old & still going strong), & for mtn. riding on a pair of Shimano AM50s.

A-Man Fast Getaway Styles...

Unrelated music video…

A-man feeling Victorian...

Sensitive Cyclist:

  • Cap – Walz cotton
  • Jacket – Sombrio Habitat
  • Shirt – Billabong Slim fit, cotton
  • Knickers – Swrve Mid-weight , wind & water resistant, cotton.
  • Gloves – Knog again
  • Socks – Still more wool
  • Shoes – Timbers again
  • Beard – All natural

The A-Mansion...

Another audio intermission…

A-Man Code Red...

A-Man Speaks:

“As you can no doubt see, I don’t subscribe to the “pylon” school of cycling dress. Being seen is important and I take measures to ensure a prudent amount of visibility is established. There gets to be a point of redundancy, I believe, where any more puke yellow/green & reflective strips no longer offers proportionate security. Like most I’m a little vain and take pride/satisfaction in my appearance.

Ultimately it’s the ride/destination that determines what I’ll be wearing. If it’s for errands or social calls then I’ll be wearing more incognito type clothing. Weather is the other major decider, I don’t like to be a rain blasted, shivering mass when I finally arrive or a fountain of sweat. My internal furnace tends to run pretty warm so I have to factor that in on longer rides, layers/pieces that are easily adjusted are best to regulate temperature. How the items function can have a great impact on your ability to control your comfort when riding/hiking, snowboarding etc. Is there provisions for ventilation, water resistant & breathable vs. water proof & not breathable, material construction, type of seams/stitching, etc. It can be a fine balance between just right, Franklin-esque frozen, or jungle rot funkiness. Everyone needs to figure this for themselves and it can take a while to get sorted.”

Speed and Beauty...

Stan’s NoTubes Tubeless Setup

10 02 2012

Stan's ZTR 29er Flow rim and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tire...

I’ve been tubeless curious for a while. I was thinking of setting up my Surly Pugsley and Santa Cruz Nomad tubeless, but I’ve heard both really positive and really negative tubeless experiences which made me hesitant to start my tubeless career with a ghetto tubeless setup. In case you don’t know – ghetto – refers to a setting up a rim/tire combo tubeless that wasn’t designed to be run that way. So being a bit cautious I decided to try tubeless on a rim/tires combo designed from the get go to be run without a tube.

Stan's Sealant - click here for some home brew recipes...

My first opportunity was the wheelset for my 29er hardtail mountain bike. I used a set of Stan’s Flow 29er rims because they are wide and strong – plus they have bead seats designed to lock in a tire easily when run without a tube. Some 2.35″ wide Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29er tires offer a nice wide supple rubber carcass without being terribly heavy and they are also designed to be run tubeless.

Here are the things I gathered to do the setup:

Steps I used:

  • I followed the first video about how to install the yellow Stan’s rim tape.
  • I installed a 29er MTB tube for ~2hrs at 40psi to ensure the tape sealed to the rim well before installing the tire tubeless.
  • Deflated the tire and pulled the tube out.
  • Then I installed the Stan’s valve stem and the tire – inflating to 40psi to seat the bead using glass cleaner as lubrication.
  • Once I was happy tire was holding air and seating well I deflated and added 3oz of Stan’s sealant by removing the valve core.
  • Tire was re-inflated to 40psi and rotated slowly to plug any leaks.
  • I had to re-inflate and spin wheels several times and left them overnight then more air + spinning in the AM.
  • I rode the bike the following day with no issues.

The “Help” articles and videos on the Stan’s website are worth checking out before you start.

We don't need no stinking tubes!

Overall the process was fairly painless although I probably spent 3-4hrs spread out over an evening and the next morning doing the setup. I did take my time and checked twice before each step so I’m sure that will be the longest it ever takes me. Using a full tubeless designed setup definitely helped everything click together for me with no problems. I was particularly surprised that I could easily seat the beads and inflate the tire with just a normal floor pump. Sweet!

Benefits of Tubeless:

  • puncture resistance for both sharp objects and pinch flats
  • ability to run low pressures without pinch flatting
  • very supple tire with low rolling resistance and improved traction
  • possibly lower weight depending on specific setup

I like running wide rubber at low pressure and I ride in terrain with poor traction, Being able to use soft tires that really conform to the terrain is awesome and I don’t have to worry about pinch flats. I’ll write up a review after I have a bunch of riding on these wheels and let you know what I think of Stan’s NoTubes tubeless products.

Going Ghetto

My buddy Scott reports having no issues with a ghetto tubeless setup so you don’t need to buy new wheels/tires if you want to try out tubeless. I’ll try my hand at ghetto tubeless on my Nomad next since I’m not spending $$$ on new wheels. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mount Washington

9 02 2012

Sharon above the clouds...

We didn’t go skiing/snowboarding in 2011 at all. Vancouver Island has a decent ski resort [Mt. Washington] and is near Whistler as well as Mt. Baker in the US so snow is at hand. We’ve been a bit lazy and distracted by surfing, but we decided to just bite the bullet and check out the local resort last weekend.

Snowboard camo...

This was a recon mission and on that level it was successful. We now have the 411 on Mount Washington! The snow was a tad firm until the afternoon sun softened it up for us. The mountain is reasonably large. Coming from Alberta I’d call it a small-medium sized resort. Enough options not to get boring, but just enough. The facilities were basic in terms of food/drink, but I like it that way. I don’t go snowboarding to eat gourmet cuisine or watch private Leer jets land.

Enough terrain to keep us interested...

To be perfectly honest unless there is 12″+ of fresh snow I’m not that keen on snowboarding at a resort any longer. I’ve been there and done it so many times the novelty has worn off. If I was wealthier and more motivated I would take up snowcat or heli-boarding in fresh powder, but living on Vancouver Island it’s cheaper and more convenient to go surfing. Surfing is free, there are very few people in the water to deal with and there are endless waves.

Yup - we got snow!

So now that we know what’s what about local ski/boarding we’ll bid our time until a decent dump of the white stuff coincides with a window of time off.

What pedaling?

Mt Washington also offers lift served mountain biking in the summer so if their trails aren’t too DH oriented we may give that a shot as well.

Scott is a God!

8 02 2012

Life ain't fair...=)

Loaded these photos on Flickr at the same time. I throw a HUGE wheelie and get 6 views…;-) Scott “The Bag Man” Felter pops a tire off a rim and gets 38 views!!! Sadly that’s just life when you hang out with a Rock Star…=-)

Note to self: next time you upload a photo dropping a 5′ ledge of death don’t put it next to a photo of Scott adjusting his hydration pack……hahahahaha!

Ogre Ogling PT2…

7 02 2012

18" Surly Ogre at the Fairfield Bicycle Shop...

I couldn’t resist sitting on it again. The 18″ fits me pretty well although if I were to get one I might go for the 20″ so I could use some Jones style swept back H-bars.

I love army green bikes!

Dirt Girl…

6 02 2012

Sharon ready to roll...

Learning to MTB on Vancouver Island is like...

...learning to climb on K2 - crazy talk!!

Sharon has taken it all in stride and given it her best...

Playing on the slickrock...

Learning to trust that the bike will roll down safely...

Enjoying the singletrack...

A rock with a view...

Demonstrating a bigger a roll in...

Getting the front when up and on an obstacle is more than half the battle...

Going over bigger stuff...

Time to crush...

Approaching the next obstacle...

Classic BC trail conditions...

Heading out of Hartland...

Good to the last drop...

Back at the car...tired, but smiling!

How to make a frame bag pattern…

5 02 2012

Who got 2012 Burning Man Tickets?

5 02 2012

Burn Baby Burn!

The Problem

So the Burning Man Organization decided that they would sell tickets this year via a lottery system. So far 43,000 of the 53,000 tickets that could be sold have been issued [virtually via email confirmations]. Shockingly for most repeat burners is the fact that only around an average 30% of the people in the theme camps and friend groups that are reporting got tickets. There are only 10,000 more tickets to redistribute and that’s not planned until the end of March. That’s a problem on 2 levels:

  1. Burning Man is organized by the many mini-communities that bring essential services, gifts and art to the playa. These groups need their core members to deliver their contributions and in many cases they need a lot of time to fund raise and plan their bigger projets. With only 1 in 3 people from these communities getting tickets and so few trickets left to come in the spring many groups are doubting their willingness and/or ability to come to the event with their normal level of contribution.
  2. If 60% of the repeat burners aren’t able to attend the playa population may be skewed heavily in favour of inexperienced people. Having a high ratio of experienced folks to newbies normally ensures that safety and social savvy on the playa is naturally exchanged and allows for a safe and fun event. If the experienced people are out numbered by newbies who aren’t prepared for the hostile environment [I am a seasoned desert camper and BMan kicked my ass the first time – hard!] and don’t understand the fine balance between freedom and responsibility on the playa the community may spend a lot of time dealing with problems.

So who has the tickets?

It’s impossible to know exactly what the breakdown of ticket distribution is. However, based on the reports so far we have a good handle on the regular burners/theme camps [since they chat in forums related to the event] having received 30% of the tickets. The rest of the tickets are in the hands of 2 groups: newbies and scalpers. It was easy for scalpers to game the lottery system and the high value of a BMan ticket ~$400 and the high demand means scalped tickets are already selling in the $600+ range.

Initially a lot of people thought that lots of regular burners entered the lottery multiple times and were sitting on piles of tickets that would get redistributed to other burners. This simply isn’t happening in any appreciable volume. Given the panic and anger in most burning man communities anyone with extra tickets they didn’t need would have helped out their friends already. So I think we can scratch that possibility from the list.

What’s worse newbies or scalpers? At first blush you’d think it would be worse for scalpers to have most of the 70% of unaccounted for tickets, but at least these tickets are still available for purchase. If we assume there are very few scalped tickets out there then there is virtually no chance for a group or theme camp to get enough tickets to be viable. A playa with 70% new people is going to be a perfect storm of low contribution, poor survival skills and lack of cultural understanding.

My wild ass guess is the tickets are distributed as follows:

  • regular burners ~30%
  • newbies or infrequent burners ~45%
  • scalpers ~20%

What we can’t do to fix the problem?

There is lots of unrealistic chatter going on around the net about what should be done. Let’s start by eliminating the the options that are not practical to implement:

  • cancel the lottery and start again: not possible. You sold tickets to people for the event and that’s over. Just because we don’t like who got them isn’t justification for terminating that sales contract. This would cost over $1 million in credit card fees not to mention the lawsuits that will follow. Plus the burning man community already been damaged by this lottery in a way that is unprecedented. What do you think will happen when you take back tickets from a burner who won them and then the same person loses out in the new system?
  • make the lottery tickets non-transferable with names & ID #s: not possible. We sold people transferable tickets. That’s a totally different animal then a non-transferable ticket. It would not be legal or fair to change the game after the fact because we didn’t like the outcome.
  • don’t buy from scalpers: frankly given the situation the scalpers may be the only reasonably accessible source of tickets for this year’s burn. If you really want to go in 2012 and/or you want your theme camp to survive this may be one of your only viable options. I won’t hate you if you bought a scalped ticket. The problem wasn’t your fault you are just doing what’s in your power to sort the mess out.
  • get your tickets from other burners via the STEP program: the Burning Man organization is setting up a market place for tickets to be sold from burners to burners – supposedly risk free. This sounds great, but there won’t be many tickets sold through this mechanism since there are simply so few free tickets in the burner community to begin with and the handling fee makes this a more expensive option than simply selling a spare ticket to a friend or local burner where you live.
  • increase the population of BRC: not possible. The event numbers are capped for reasons both logistical and legal. Any major change to the number of peeps at BRC would take a lot of time – more time than we have until the 2012 event. BMorg is working on this for future burns, but I wouldn’t expect to see a change of any magnitude soon.

What we can do as a community?

There is a lot of time left before the event and 10,000 tickets yet to be distributed so we have some options:

  • unfair allocation of the remaining 10,000 tickets: we can throw out our principle of everyone being equal and we can decide some burners are more important than others. I mean Opulent Temple brings Infected Mushroom to the playa they gotta be more important than 20 middle age burners from Iowa who always camp together at 6 and H and host a free bar with inflatable pink flamingos – right? Personally I don’t think it’s worth destroying a core value of the community to hear Paul Oakenfold play some records. Having said that this is an option even though I won’t support it.
  • make the last 10,000 tickets non-transferable: since the last batch of tickets haven’t been sold we can change the terms and keep scalpers out. Print names on tickets and ID #’s. I can live with this and at least it means the last batch of tickets will only go to people who are planning on attending the event.
  • redistribute within our communities: if you want certain theme camps or art projects to go ahead give them your tickets. Yes it will suck for you, but sometimes doing the right thing isn’t fun. Within groups meet to discuss your community’s future in 2012 and consider either asking other groups/people for tickets or consider gifting your tickets and taking a break for 2012.
  • plan for change: 2012 is going to be a very different burn than any other in recent memory. You will have less art and services available to you on the playa and fewer old timers to keep stuff in control. Maybe you need to plan to help more and to educate far more newbies far faster than has ever been done before? Maybe you need to consider your personal safety in different terms this year – especially if you are in a vulnerable sub-group in our population?
  • make the best of  it: there will be a playa, there will be dust and there will be other people – of that I am sure. If you do go to the 2012 event be ready to have fun without expecting too much from outside your own group.
  • learn and improve: let’s face it the Burning Man Organization shit the bed and failed us despite being told this outcome was not just possible, but likely. They had the people and tools available to avoid these problems, but chose not to use them. They were grossly incompetent at their important jobs. The responsible people should hang their heads in shame, apologize and resign. Don’t blame the scalpers for the 2012 ticket mess, don’t blame other burners or newbies – blame BMorg. Don’t blame them to get revenge. Blame them and hold them accountable so that 2013 is better. You can’t have a healthy organization if there is not accountability that follows responsibility. 2013 can be better, but only if BMorg choose to make it better. Out of 53,000 burners at the 2012 event less than 100 are responsible for the mess we are in – think about that.

What if you and your friends didn’t get a ticket?

If you are like me and most burner groups you and/or most of your friends didn’t get tickets. First off let me say I’m sorry. I know how much that sucks…*hugs* Here are some ideas on what to do:

  • do something else in 2012: the world is a big and wonderful place. Maybe take the $$ and vacation time you would have used at the burn and go on a group holiday with your close burner friends. Being radically self-reliant is a core burner value. If BMorg let you down with the lottery than choose to do something fun that doesn’t rely on them. You can always come back in 2013 with even more enthusiasm and hopefully actually get a ticket!
  • buy scalped tickets now:  if you really want to go to the 2012 burn the cost of scalped tickets is being temporarily kept low by the fact there are 10,000 more tickets to come at ~$400. Once those are out and no more are available the scalped prices are going to grow fast. If you need to go consider buying a scalped ticket. You aren’t hurting anyone by doing that despite what BMorg may say. They are deflecting anger at the scalpers when it’s their fault the scalpers have the tickets in the first place. The scalpers aren’t going to give their tickets back so if you don’t buy one someone else will. Sad, but true!
  • game the 10,000 ticket sale in March: if you think a lot of people played the system in the first lottery wait for the 10,000 ticket sale. If you really want tickets get every human being you know with a credit card to try and buy tickets. Buy as many as you can. Hopefully you will get some and in the unlikely event you get too many you can sell them in 2 seconds.
  • complain bitterly: if you did what you were told [entered the lottery only once for only the # of tickets you needed] and got burned by BMorg’s idiotic lottery system as well as those burners who gamed the system by having multiple entries it’s natural for you to be mad. Complain, bitch and moan – get that bad energy out and then move on with the rest of your year.

What am I going to do?

I wanted to go to the 2012 burn. I would have contributed to a theme camp/art installation my friends are were spearheading [not sure what will happen now]. As I think about what to do I must acknowledge why I want to go to Burning Man: to spend time with my friends in BRC and be part of/experience the big art installations. There are other factors of course, but those two are the ones that really get me stoked. As it stands it’s unlikely that I will get to see a huge portion of my friends on the playa and with so many core burners missing it’s unlikely that the art projects will be of the same caliber. I can’t afford the time and $$ to go to every burn so I need to spend my resources wisely.

So I’m keeping my eyes on the ticket situation as it develops. Who knows maybe BMorg will find out they had a computer glitch and 15,000 ticket confirmation emails didn’t go out? Unlikely, but possible! I’m starting to make other plans for that time of the year. I missed out on a MTB trip to Moab in the fall of 2011 so I would be very happy to end up there instead. Especially since Sharon would have the holiday time to come along. Last time I checked I didn’t have to fight anyone for room on the trails at Moab in the fall…=-)

Santa Cruz Bike Testing…

4 02 2012

It’s a dirty job…

4 02 2012

...but someone has to do it.

Weather was perfect...

I was alone so I had time to mess around...

...and session every techy nugget I could lay my tires on...

mountain biking isn't all about getting dirty though...

I took some time to savour the flavour of the forest...

Sure it was a lot of Work...

....but I had fun!

...not a bad way for the day to roll by.