Saturday, December 29, 2012

The yurt'n Albertan

...would be a good pun if I was from Alberta. But I'm not. I did stay in a yurt for the past three days though with some fine friends and we "destroyed some pow", so to speak, up on the Duffey Lake road. It's good to be back in BC.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas gift... for you.

Inline images 1
So here it is....


WOW, 2012... what a year.

It started in China where we continued to work/travel/take in all that the Chinese culture had to offer. After a year working in China we returned to Canada in July and had an awesome homecoming in Whistler for a Canada Day mountain biking extravaganza (in the rain). It was amazing to be back with friends, on bikes, and in BC.

As we were still renting our apparent until the end of August, we kept moving and landed ourselves in Ontario visiting the Augaitis gang. While enjoying family time, a stand-up-paddleboard race, and the Augaitis cottage, we managed to sneak in an awesome five day back-country canoe/SUP adventure in Algonquin Park. We still had some time to kill before moving back into Vancouver life, so at the end of July we packed the car (which miraculously survived a year languishing in the parking garage) and headed south on a road trip with mountain bikes and SUPs. We rolled through WA and OR with stops to check out some trails along the way toward out target of Stanley Idaho. We spent a week in Idaho and just loved everything about Stanley and surrounding areas. The scenery, the people, the weather, the lakes, the rivers, and most of all the trails. Fast, smooth, long, alpine style mountain bike trails. On the "way home" we ended up in Moab, Utah in the unbelievably hot off-season. There was still great biking to be had, but only in the early hours of the morning. A few brief detours in California and Oregon on the way home (really this time) saw us back in Vancouver and moving back into our place.

As our stuff was all in storage we took the opportunity to tear the place apart and make use of the ideas that have been rattling around in Andrew's head for the four years since he moved in. We're really pleased with the results and are enjoying having a bit more space to move around (and Andrew's enjoying his workshop). Lina has had the chance to travel to Mexico (twice!) since we've been back to paddle and race SUP and enjoy the beach lifestyle. Paddling back in Vancouver is a little less warm, but still possible even if you don't drive standard and your car is a standard...

Something we missed in China was a real winter. Some may argue that Vancouver doesn't have a real Canadian winter (and they'd probably win that argument), but a couple of hours up the road we can find all the snow you could possible want for a day exploring the mountains on skis, which has again brought us back together with all our outdoorsy friends and should keep us entertained until the spring comes and the trails start to dry out.

Our best wishes for 2012, whatever it brings you. May your trail be dry and your snow be crisp.

Lina and Andrew

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To make one of these, all you need is...

...some rather unusual living room furniture, with a TIG welder underneath it. Oh, and some old bike parts. Merry Christmas everyone.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Has anybody got any salmon?

I'm supposed to be doing something else, so it's clearly a good time to be writing on the internet about my bike. Again.

Somewhere back in the mists of time I lived in a teepee with an Irishman and made a bike frame. Since then the frame lay dormant for a year and then finally became a bike and went on some mountain adventures over the summer. Lately Kermit has finally found his intended purpose and is my used-every-day bike for getting around Vancouver. As I've just put some nice new brake pads on him, I thought I should take a few photos for the record. Internet, meet Kermit.

Sorry about the top-tube pad. I'm not a hipster, honest.

What makes the wheels go 'round? Well, a strange mix of old road and mountain bike stuff I gathered together over the past few years in OCB.

Half road, half mountain, all action. 

Here's where the fun really is. About 15 years after it was the exciting new thing to do, I am using the "hidden click" in a old Shimano 7 speed shifter to shift on an 8 speed cassette... using a 9 speed rear mech . It actually works too.

Kermit, standing rampant in our kitchen. 

Salmon? Sorted.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mud, glorious mud

One of the (many) things I missed while we were in China was the Mud Ride. There's been a change of venue now that Marc and Nikki aren't islanders any more, and the cast continues to evolve... but the mud was back in full force this year. Fortunately the temperature wasn't as numbing as some years, so we had a fun and squelchy time... followed by gobbling lots of nice food, including a highly flammable chocolate cake. I recommend flammable cakes.

A truckload of bikes
 We started the ride with eleven dry riders, one soggy rider, two dogs, and one plucky runner. Somewhere along the way we gained another rider (which was unexpected, for everyone including him) and ended the ride missing a couple of riders and a couple of dogs but were re-united again in time for beer, hot chocolate, and hosing ourselves down in the yard.

Pippa, a true poseur.

Really\ quite muddy.
Thank you to Marc and Nikki for keeping the dream alive for another year and thank you to all to showed up to get wet and muddy, or just drink beer and eat (flammable) cake. The tradition lives on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's all in my head(set)

CAUTION: This post contains minute details of bicycles and is unlikely to be interesting unless you like, err, that sort of thing.

Head-tube angles are currently the new-favorite-argument on the bicycle internet forums that I read. Or is it wheel-size now? Hmm, I may have missed the boat. Anyway, I have chosen not to join any of these riveting discussions as I really didn't have anything to add. Now I do, and like a true coward I am going to write them on here where it is unlikely that anyone argumentative will ever read them, and they can't reply even if the wanted to. Ha.

Firstly, my Knolly got a new (to me) fork. The venerable 2007 Marzocchi 888 that I had on there was suffering a bit, and never really allowed me to go around corners. Before we went to China, Lina's "big" bike got a RockShox Domain (318 version with 115mm-160mm U-Turn) to replace the sadly-flawed Marzocchi 55 TST that came on it. The Domain was very cheap from a nice young man in Port Moody and seemed to get on with the job of holding the front end of Lina's bike off the ground without complaint once we got the spring right. While we were in China I spied a 180mm travel Domain for a similar bargain price, from a similar nice young man in Port Moody. Paul being a prolific bicycle-part-bargain-hunter himself agreed to secure the goods for me and they sat in his shed for months. 

A few weeks ago, having survived the ravages of apartment renovations and getting all my tools back from storage I set about attaching the Domain to the front of my bike. With some excellent bodging, namely creating a headset made from parts of three other headsets, the fork was attached and Knolly was rolling again. Having gone from a 200mm travel dual-crown fork to a 180mm travel single-crown changed... almost nothing. Same weight (heavy), same axle-to-crown length (long). What did change is the new absence of rattling noises and the ability to navigate corners tighter that a gently curve without having to stop and move the back wheel around with a forklift truck. The White Elephant bike is now even more white and just as elephanty as ever. It's great.

It's all white.

Between returning from China and fixing my Knolly I had solely been riding that old Blur 4X I told you about. I rode it so much that I figure I about equaled a year of my normal twice(ish) a week riding in two months. This resulted in the amusing destruction of one of those Chinese carbon rims I told you about. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

This is what happens when you use untested components for things they were never intended for. Who knew?
The point in all of that is that I'd got pretty used to riding bikes with slack head angles. Both Knolly and Blur are about 66 degrees... probably. I haven't measured them of course, because guessing is much more fun. Once I unearthed my favorite (Orange) bike from storage I was keen to get out and appreciate its zesty goodness. As soon as the trail turned downhill though, I realized something had changed. The hundreds of hours riding on choppered-out bike left me feeling a bit precarious on my normal(ish) geometry hardtail. The way I ride has changed a little over the past year thanks to a year spent descending on wet clay riding a Chinese touring bike, then a month of whizzing down endless swoopy singletrack on our Idaho (and beyond) road-trip. I've become more used to going faster, and riding on smooth but slippery surfaces. The orange bike just wasn't feeling eager to help me get my cornering lightsaber working.

And finally, we arrive at the point of all of this. I bought a new headset. It's a Works Components -1 degree angle headset which fits the quaint old 1 1/8" head-tube on the Orange Bike. The result of fitting this thing should be 1 degree of slackness in the front, a bit of steepness in the seat-tube angle (which was pretty steep anyway - we'll see how that works), and a smigdeon lower bottom-bracket height. I'm off for a wet and dark ride on the Shore tonight, which is a great place to test out fast and smooth cornering obviously. Ok, it's not... but we'll see how it goes.

Angle-dangle... oh, and check out my vice, it's a beauty.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The playground in Deep Cove, looking a bit sinister the night before Halloween

Our pumpkin, looking at the torrential rain outside on Halloween night.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Virtual warming

Tonight is the re-warming of our apartment, and for me a celebration of the end of several months of sawdust and head-scratching as we figured out (with the help of friends) how to make it all work the way we wanted. There are a few items of unfinished business, but no doubt they will nag away at me and I will end up finishing them rather than just forgetting about them. That seems to be the kind of guy I am.

Here's a little picture-journey around our cube:

It started with a doodle, a bit like this one. It turned out my ideas meant only  four standard kitchen units could be used in the design. When I ordered them from Ikea, the nice lady asked if I was doing a laundry room. I replied that "Yes, the washing machine will go in there somewhere".

Seriously dorky 3D rendering of my plans. I should have been an engineer.

Below from left-to-right: The workshop, the kitchen (utility room obscured), the living room, and Lina's gymnasium. Above from left-to-right: Tire storage (?) office, bedroom, and garage.

Our new living room, where we can finally give Krista's stonework the attention it deserves.

The utility room with unheard of in North America under-counter washer-dryer, camelback storage, and welder hook-up (of course I'm joking about the welder - aren't I?)

Kitchen and workshop. Lovely wheely-shelves for all my junk from Timeline auctions,  a fantastic steel workbench from a nice man on Craigslist, and a clever wheely kitchen cart with fold-up leaves which was a right pain to get hold of... but worth it.

Kitchen from above, featuring a free pot rack from another nice man on Craigslist held up with  conveyor chain from the scrapyard down the street. Shelving from a dumpster, cripplingly expensive stove, and extensively hacked Ikea cabinets and sink.

The office. Lina's new desk bashed together by me from 2x4's I found in the dumpster. Pretty birthday-present rug, and some creative bike parking.

And finally, where's all the stuff? Well... the garage is mostly suspended above the bedroom... where seven pairs of skis, eight paddles, six bikes, and one kayak (usually) literally, hang out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My life is ruining my blog

This is getting ridiculous. I'm so out of date with writing anything interesting on here I'm bored of the things that used to be interesting before I've even bored anyone with how interesting they are. What's more, I don't even remember what it was I did anyway... so it can't have been all that interesting, right?

Now I'm confused... but here goes with a canned history of all the things I've forgotten over the past month.

Thing #1: Elk-Thurston Ridge Ride. 
After years of talking about doing it (which incidentally is an excellent way of one day actually doing something) Paul, Lina, and I rode this legendary ridge on our mountain bikes in the middle of a cloud, so no alpine views could be seen at all. There was ferocious bushwhacking, lovely fall colors  occasionally good riding, and plenty of general camaraderie from what I remember... though this did all happen approximately one million years ago so it may have been awful and I just forgot.

I'm smiling, so apparently it was fun.
Oh, and see that jacket? I got that in China and it says "Made in Canada" on it.

Thing #2: Birthday
Since being my birthday, it's also been Lina's birthday... but we'll get to that in the correct temporal sequence. My birthday was spent inhaling mostly sawdust, but I also was lucky enough to inhale some more tasty things including chocolate-covered fruit courtesy of Lina's dad, and a dosa at House of Dosas. I am now unbelievably old and even more drastically need a haircut than I did in these pictures.


Dosa and cake. See that writing on the cake board? It's ketchup. No joke.
The last ting I got to inhale for my birthday was some lovely fresh air thanks to Lina who arranged for me to go paragliding from Grouse Mountain with a friend who handily knows how to fly one of those things. I hiked up to the top, and flew back down... which was considerably more fun. I think I have found a future hobby.

Up above the streets and houses...
Thing #3: Lina's birthday
Winter has finally struck Vancouver. There's snow on the mountains, chill in the air, and grey in the sky. We welcomed in the cold season by going to the beach for the weekend. Obviously. We had what turned out to be a very pleasant weekend away in Tofino, staying in the eclectic (and most importantly, warm) Tofino Traveler's Guesthouse. Two-and-a-half days of (occasional) sun, sea, surf, and, err, snow (really) made a fitting end to the summer season, and it really wasn't all that cold in a wetsuit. Honest.

Lina feeling swell (can you see what I did there?)

Temperate rainforest surfing.

Thing #4: The final thing.
Thanksgiving was my deadline to start seriously searching for paid employment. So... I am searching. If you want and data trawled through, analysed, and made into a pretty story for people to read, just let me know. I can fix your bike too if you like. In-between filling out job applications and trawling the depths of job-boards I've been finishing off the last few pieces of our apartment renovation. It's tantalizingly close to being nearly-finished (I think "nearly" is the closest to finished that it will ever get). I'll take some pictures of it eventually... or maybe make a "video tour". That might be fun...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lazy blogger

TruthDusty fresh trailChris descending Cutthroat CreekPaul descending Cutthroat CreekLina descending Cutthroat CreekMe climbing Cutthroat
ViewpointReaching the PCTThe signTreebeardPaul slacklineChris with tree help
Lina sunsetMeadow sunsetFools on the hillMore fools?Smoke layers on Angel's StaircaseKevin and Adam, single speed heroes
The summitSmokeLina pretending to be a marmotSun and dust on Foggydew CreekCall me Dollar BillOh no, not again...

Winthrop 2012, a set on Flickr.

I have some things I want to wrote about, namely birthdays, kitchens, welders, bikes, jobs, and whatnot... but while I get around to that, here are some photos of Thanksgiving weekend in the Methow Valley.