Monday, August 25, 2014


Chromag bikes turned 10 this year (or 11, but who's counting?), so they organized a party. Despite having been a "proud owner of a Chromag since 2007", I've never made it out to any of their gatherings, or ever ridden with anyone else who was also riding one. Riding with 50 or 60 other folks on similar bikes seemed like a good way to catch up on what I had been missing.

The concept seemed to be to ride most of the trails in Whistler - ambitious.
The plans were intimidating to say the least, and I was going to need some lower gears on my bike to drag myself up some of those climbs. Having fairly recently removed most of the gears from it to embrace current mountain biking fashions, I was stuck with just one chaining up front - though fortunately quite a small one. What I needed was a great big cog out the back. This sounds easy enough, all I needed to do was buy a big cog (currently fashionable for ENDUROing) and put it on there. Obviously it wasn't that simple, because I still have a 9-speed drivetrain and the cogs are meant for 10-speed, and blah, blah, blah... so out came the power tools.

Those knobbly things on the top were monkeying with my chain, so they had to get smaller. 

If at first it doesn't fit - grind some bits off it.

12 to 40 teeth of fury - a 40T OneUp adaptor, a 9 speed 11-34 cassette with the 11T and 13T removed and a 12T added from another cassette (in case you were wondering).

Bicycle vanity shot - I think it looks pretty.

The coggley-ring that winds the doofer around the whatnots. 

The click-clacker that shunts the jangly over the platecrowns.

Ok, I'm just playing with the camera now.
So, back to actually riding bikes. Things started off terribly well - I didn't get lost (mostly thanks to the extra-friendly locals who guided me around all day), the racing bits were raced, the not racing bits were ridden just as fast anyway, the high-fives were innumerable, and everyone was riding a Chromag. Success! By the end of Side 2, I was more ready than I've ever been for a jump into the lake... really one of the best sensations I have ever felt after about 6 hours on the trails. Refreshed by the lake (and soon after some beers that the locals had stashed in a creek along the route), Side 3 was in the bag. Up to this point my mind and body had been fully functional and despite some hair-raising blind runs down new-to-me trails. All things considered, I was in an excellent state of health.

Everything has a breaking point, and mine was the climb up to Side 4. We were nearly at the end, it was the easiest climb of the day, and then things got weird. I managed to drag myself to the start of the trail and lay down in the dust  with the other weary Chromag-borne travelers. There were some interesting colors and swirly shapes in the sky for a while, I had a strange conversation about the trails we were about to ride where the words swam around each other and could still hear the guy's voice five minutes after he had left - if he was ever there at all. For a while there I was exploring the fifth dimension.

Then the lights came back on and I was ready to get the thing finished. The last downhill was a blur, possibly enhanced by the whiskey shots that the first-aider was handing out at the top - and chased a handy local's back wheel for the final plummet back to Chromag HQ, beer, high-fives, and tacos.

A haggard bear.

Ten hours, 2600m up and down, 75km, one lake swum, and only one episode of hallucinations.