Sunday, April 21, 2013

Seeds of change

Maybe it's the unsettled weather we've had recently, but I feel a change is coming. If I was a cow, I would probably lie down right now. The first rustling in the leaves (can you tell I'm enjoying this confusing analogy?) involves me getting on with some of the projects I've been stockpiling in my brain, and on our windowsill, for the past few months. I'm going to need photographs and pictures of these things to provoke a storm. I'm also going to need to get myself over to Emily Carr University one lunchtime next week. 

My doodling skills might need to be upgraded

My workbench - an instrument of change
On a more practical note I got some actual seeds and made them into breakfast for next week. This is one of many habits we developed during our period of thrifty-living this winter I'm happy to keep. One habit we had to give up and I'm happy to have back is going to places like the new Far Out Coffee Post for lunch. The gentrification of our neighborhood has its positives, though I really wish we hadn't been re-branded as the "East Village". This is possibly the least imaginative name ever... and what was wrong with Hastings Sunrise anyway?

Seeds of breakfast

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wagon rolls

Whilst it may look like a coffee table, it is in fact... a bike.
I was so excited by my new bike I forgot to write about it on the internet... which just isn't right, so here it is. The hub for the back wheel arrived last week so I spent a happy lunch hour building that. The first ride was a lunchtime affair on Mount Seymour and was a pleasant surprise. The clown-size wheels didn't feel ridiculous and the whole thing felt surprisingly "normal". I was able to reinforce some stereotypes of 29ers as I found it really did have a lot of traction climbing up loose or lumpy trails, and it rolled up and over roots and other awkward things more easily than I'm used to. Overall... it just made things on the flat and uphill seem easier. The big wheels do take a bit of oomph to get them spinning, which to me felt a lot like having heavy downhill wheels and tires on a 26er.

I've now had the chance to get out on a few familiar trails which means I've been able to get a decent impression of how it all works compared to the Orange Bike. The downhill was of course much more interesting to me as it's no use having a bike that goes up a hill and then is no fun to get back down again. Fun comes in many forms, but I'm thinking here of exhilarating, disaster-courting, wind-blowing-through-your-clothes fun. I'm not really interested in clinging-onto-a-bucking-mule-on-wheels fun so much. To summarize the things I haven't written yet: it's pretty good.

You can stop reading now if you like.

I noticed it goes fast with the wagon wheels rolling over all obstacles in sight, but this allows fewer chances to control your speed using bumpy things on the trail. I found I was arriving places rather abruptly and needing to use the brakes more than usual. This is a problem I'm happy to learn to take advantage of. Going around corners needs a bit more commitment than the Orange Bike to get the beast to lean over, but lots of grip and less skipping around on rocks and roots makes the adjustment less intimidating.

What really surprises me is that 29ers have been so slow to make an appearance on our local trails. The most noticeable difference to me from a 26" wheel bike is that rough, rocky and rooty trails become much easier up, down, and along. We only have rough, rooty trails around here. The only logical reason I can think for the slow adoption of 29ers on the Shore is that there don't seem to be many sticky-rubber tires around for them. I'm using some cheap and not very grippy compound tires which are ok, but not quite what I'm used to. Actually the Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front is pretty good, but the hard-compound Continental on the back is just "ok". Paul and I have some bargain-priced (and excellently-named) On-One "Smorgasbord" tires on the way, which promise to have softer rubber for the rainy(er) months.

I'm looking forward to riding this bike more and figuring out how to take advantage of the differences, though I've no doubt I'll default back to the Orange Bike eventually, because that's what always happens.

This is almost certainly where you'll want to stop reading.

For my future reference, and the reference of curious bicycle-enthusiasts, here are the minutiae:
Frame:  Medium 2012 Tallboy (aluminum)
Fork: OEM Rockshox Revalation RL dual air reduced to 110mm travel. Works Components -1.5 degree headset.
Wheels: Stans Arch EX rims, 32 DT Swiss Revolution spokes, DT 350 rear hub (with 240s internals - for reasons we won't get into), and a Hope Bulb 20mm front hub... which is about 15 years old.
Brakes: Shimano M775 with 160mm rotors (which need to be changed to 180mm)
Drivetrain: Random mixture of old and new SRAM stuff with 11-34 XT 9-speed cassette and 22/36 chainrings on Raceface SIXC crabon fabré cranks.
Other things: Gravity Dropper with the remote upside down under the left gripshift, Fizik Nisene seat, Answer Protaper 10mm rise and 740mm wide crabon fabré bar, Raceface Turbine 60mm stem, chopped down and wired-on BMX grips.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The agony of choice

It was Easter weekend... and spring has sprung in BC. This presents a dilemma as it's now possible to do just about all outdoor activities possible within a couple of hours of home. Kayakers are kayaking, skiiers are skiing, bikers biking, climbers climbing... etc. With the help of some beer and guidebook pondering we settled on a Pemberton to Vancouver car-traverse punctuated with biking, skiing, and more biking (in that order).
This is how important decisions are made.
First stop was Pemberton, for some very summer-like biking and a new trail map because yet again I left the old one at home. Luckily it seems that there are always new trails in Pemberton that weren't on my old map anyway. We also ran into a large group of hooligans from Steed Cycles, which is always fun.

Snow and dust in equal measure.
Next stop was Whistler for a jaunt around the Spearhead Traverse. I did this back in 2008, and many of the really unpleasant climbs proved to be just as unpleasant the second time around. It's not a bad place to be on a sunny spring day though. Apparently it's now possible to do the Spearhead in about three hours, but seeing as it's not got any shorter it still took us about nine. I'm really not sure how that three hour thing is even possible. I suspect jet-packs were involved.

What goes around.
Downhill on ice with climbing skins on is always a pleasure.
A navigational anomaly (mistake) led to a bit of a boot-pack.
Lina is small, compared with mountains.
After all of that exertion, we got to sleep in a bed on Saturday night in Squamish, before heading out for another sunny ride on Credit Line. My legs weren't exactly full of power after the Spearhead... but you can't beat some dry Squamish trails. Finally, we headed back to Vancouver in time for a sunset slackline in the park.
Nice sock/shoe combo
Re-entering "civilization" at Flute Bowl.