Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spring in Penticton

It's become some kind of tradition (well, we did it last year) to go to Penticton in the spring, ride our bikes, climb, eat, drink, and enjoy the sunshine. It's also become some kid of Fig Rolls Racing "training camp". I'm not sure quite what the all triathletes in Penticton training for Iron Man would think of our training camp, but at least we wear matching shirts (some times).

Three Fig Rolls, and a Steed Cyclist.

When we arrived the Shriners parade was setting up. There's nothing quite like a huge group of guys wearing fez hats... riding motorised beer coolers and other assorted weird things. I've no idea what was going on, but they seemed to be having a great time.  For us, there were long dusty rides, fast trails, grippy rock... and a cold lake. Sitting up by the campfire by the lake each night before we all fell asleep is a pretty nice way to end a day of biking and climbing. Paul and Angie came over and joined us for s night too... rode some trails and climbed some rocks. They wisely checked out the farmer's market too. I'll have to remember that for next time.

Marc in the shadows. Nothing to do with Cliff Richard.
Nikki on some fine singletrack.

Lina on her way down from a climb.

There are more of my photos here. Also... on the winter trips to Nelson and Sorcerer Lodge, we ended up playing a kind of "Chinese whispers" game with words and pictures. I won't even try to explain why it's called "Poopy Cat". You can see the results of our efforts here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Retro-chic, or some old junk? is in the eye of the beholder, right? I have a new bike. The story involves Damon's old Gary Fisher KHS being rescued from the bike locker in my building with the help of Paul and an angle grinder... and a chance meeting with a piece of mountain bike history. 

Kona mountain bikes started off in Vancouver around 1988, when the lycra was colourful, the handlebars were narrow, and suspension a far-off dream. Kona did something pretty clever and managed to build mountain bikes in their first year of production that still look fairly modern in frame geometry today. Meanwhile everyone else was making bikes that resembled vast iron gates. I always wanted a Kona when I started riding... somewhere around 1992. 

In a very touching "Eyes meeting sloping-top-tube" moment across a crowded Our Community Bikes I saw the Kona. I admired the bright blue paint and rather dated graphics... but saw underneath all that a bike that needed to be ridden. After going our separate ways for a while, and the Kona having an unsuccessful relationship with someone who just couldn't make things work, we met again. The Kona was wearing some "striking" orange forks and various other fluorescent nastiness. This bike had to be mine. 

Saturday afternoon, a few weeks ago, I robbed Damon's old bike of all its parts and took a trip to OCB to buy the last few things I needed to resurrect the Kona. The frame was perfect for an errand-running and potential touring bike to replace the Gary Fisher, which was way too big for me. The new (old) Kona is a really fun bike to ride, and reminds me of why I got into mountain biking in the first place. For the indulgence of bike-geeks... see if you can spot the following old-skool items: a U-brake (which works really well), Syncros cattle prod, and Deore XT 7-speed thumbshifter

I now have another, even more fluorescent, old mountain bike project to work on... but that will have to wait. Exciting stuff eh?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Human-powered Hornby

Ever since we first went biking Hornby Island back in 2005, we've said "wouldn't it be good to do this without the car". Eventually I get around to doing the things I talk about, and 4 years later I found myself on the ferry to Nanaimo with Lina, 2 bikes, a tent, some curry-in-a-bag, but no car.

Saturday morning we spent helping out at Steed Cycles, safety checking bikes for the North Shore Triathlon. I enjoyed adjusting a few headsets, offering some advice on bike setup... and Lina shared some tips on how to actually race in a triathlon. The first bike that came in was a bit of s surprise. I was expecting to see a lot of carbon fibre, a lot of aero bars... and gadgets attached to handlebars to measure how much fun we're having. Triathletes seem to like all that stuff. The first bike to be checked looked something like this. No-one told me there's was a kid's category!

We made a quick exit at 2pm... drove over to West Vancouver, parked the car, loaded our bikes, and rushed to the ferry. It's a great thing to just roll straight onto the ferry with 15 minutes to go, no bookings, no waits. Good stuff. After a pre-ride feed on the boat we set off north to Comox in good weather.

Snack stop at Quallicum Beach

We passed through the beach-front retirement towns of Vancouver Island and past Buckley Bay, where we would return to get the ferry the following day. The last hour or so we rode in the dark and rolled into Marc and Nikki's driveway not much before 10pm. Marc was a hero, running out to buy beer and then cooking monster pizzas for us all. YUM. 

Sunday morning was bright and sunny as we rolled down the hill back towards Buckley Bay and the ferry to Denman Island. Again, it was so simple just wheeling our bikes onto the ferry without all the "will we get on?" angst. 

Lina on the ferry in her circus outfit.

Future BC ferries advertisment photo?

We rode across Denman, and onto the Hornby ferry... then a short ride to V0R1Z0 cafe for great coffee and food. Again, YUM. After loading up with supplies at the Co-op we rode around to Ford's Cove campground and set ourselves up, had a beer, and lazed around for a while. The rest of the day we spent riding over to Helliwell Park, a short walk, listening to the sounds of seals barking and sea lions, err, croaking (?). We were lucky with warm weather and sunshine all day, and a nice dry evening exploring the weird rocks and sitting by the fire.

Lina on the cheese/moon/brain-rocks.

Gulf island rock strangeness.

Marc investigating the rocks from space.

Eagle. That's all I have to say about this photo.

Monday morning arrived, a little damp... and a little creaky (well, my back was). Filled with oatmeal we rode out from the campsite and stashed our panniers in the forest for a little cyclo-cross adventure up to the viewpoint. Slippery, rooty, slightly too steep, and all the other things that riding a 'cross bike should be. We looked back at Denman Island and Strathcona Park... then rattled our way back down to the road.

Lina at the viewpoint.

Two ferries later, we parted ways with Marc and started the long pedal back to Nanaimo and the ferry. The weather got a bit damp, but a visit to the "world famous" gnome kept us going. 

World famous. Apparently.

After a snooze on the ferry back to West Vancouver (still very pleased we didn't have to face the huge line of cars waiting) we rode through the rain and dark back to the warm, dry, car. I think this shows how what you need is the right thing at the right time. Having a car on ferries - bad. Car in the rain at the end of a 300km bike ride - good. we just have to work out how to do the same thing with mountain bikes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No photo

Having no photos of things doesn't inspire me to write on here... but as my camera is still on holiday in Toronto, here are a few words which paint a (very small) picture.

Spring has sprung here in Vancouver. The weekend before last I spent 4 days in Tofino with 2 Irish people from Vancouver, 3 Irish people from Canmore... one of whom was only 6 weeks old, and another Irish person from New Zeland. No Irish people from Ireland were allowed. We rented a posh house on the beach,  got battered around by some messy surf, ate crabs, drank gallons of tea, and generally enjoyed the craic. Lina and Jasmin were over in Ucluelet on their sea kayak guide course for the week, so one evening I went over and rescued them from their wet tents for a barbecue at our house. They seemed very pleased to be warm and dry for an evening!

Back in Vancouver I've been riding my bike, which has been great... and went to a very unusual pool party around the back of the kayak and sailing shop down the road from my place. Cartwheeling a kayak in a portable swimming pool, in the dark, next to the railway line, with a folk band playing was a new experience. The paddling theme continued on Saturday when Kala, Ali, and I had a great whitewater run down the Capillano on the North Shore. I got to try out my fancy new paddle... which is amazing. 

Other exciting "new stuff" news is that thanks to OCB I have a new frame for my errand-running bike. I transplanted all the stuff from "Damon's old bike" which I inherited with my apartment onto a very fine 1988 Kona Lava Dome. It's from first year that Kona existed, so quite a special thing for people like me who are into that kind of stuff. It's great for whizzing around town and is resplendent in baby blue, orange, and lime green. Stylish.