I've felt like such a blob lately. I think its the combination of not riding much at all recently and the lack of sunshine getting into my head. Seasonal Affected Disorder, that it. I finally got to hit the gravel on my reconfigured Catalyst. Drop bars with barcons, etc is fun. I do have a new handlebar coming for it but have the Salsa Cowbell on there in the mean time. Behold...
I decided to put her to the test on the Lynn Valley Trail. The trail was soft and it was windy, but I was determined to make Dover and back. I felt pretty out of shape and realized quickly that I need to pack the miles on before the P2A in the end of April.
Some of the trail was beautiful and dry...
Some was covered by ice and snow...
I even managed to find someones poor old department store bike that had washed down the river years ago. Hopefully they upgraded to something nicer...
I felt pretty slow but even the road signs were poking fun at me...
Near the end of my ride I found a nice spot to sit down and soak up this sunshine. It felt great and I didn't realize just how much I missed it. As I sat there, I thought about bikes. I thought about the few new bikes that I had been lusting over lately, the Salsa Timberjack, Kona Unit X, Jamis Dragonslayer. Maybe I should just keep riding my fat bike year round with a new set of wheels, maybe I should go with a plus bike for non-snow rides. Maybe I'm just overthinking this and I need to ride more...
Oh well... I can only get stronger from here. The clock is ticking on my P2A40 challenge and I need more hard rides.
I'd like to share a story from a couple years back. I won't name any names because the parties involved were pissed enough at the time and there is no sense in kicking the hornets nest again. It should shed some light on product reviews in the bike industry and how they are a farce. Just remember this story next time you read even an "independent" product review.
I was approached by a fairly popular "user review" type website to test out a product made by a very well known hydration pack manufacturer. They were trying to get some bloggers on board to get this product reviewed and info on the web ahead of its release. I had my reservations about doing the review, as I had previously written off this manufacturer because of their cheap materials and increasing cost, but ultimately agreed to do it. They said they wanted honest reviews of the product, written by us (blogger types) selected, posted to the user review website they had teamed with. I'm cool with honesty.
The product arrived in the mail, absolutely free of charge. I thought the idea was great, I get to test out new unreleased gear for free just for giving my two cents. I could get use to this.... or so I thought.
I un-boxed the product and took thorough photos from all angles, paying attention to build quality and materials, as well as unique features. I was immediately disappointed in the quality as the materials felt very cheap and the zippers honestly looked like crap. The reasoning behind the thin material was "weight savings" as they said, but this is mountain biking and I like durable things. Considering what I received would retail for nearly $200 Canadian, I was disheartened.
These faults aside, I had to actually use the product to do a proper review. This is when everything went sideways. I loosened the straps all the way but it still wouldn't fit. I know I'm a big guy and hard to fit at times, but this thing had no chance of even coming close to fitting. A few emails between the manufacturer, the user review site, and I later... I was pretty much told tough luck about the fit. They say its appropriately sized for average riders. I guess I'm above average. They also had no plans of making bigger sizes for bigger guys.
Taking into account that my Wingnut packs fit me great, I had no choice but to call BULLSHIT on this product being made for the masses. It was completely unusable, and made like shit in my opinion. I went to work typing up my review. I was honest just like they asked. I quickly realized that honestly and bike industry reviews do not go hand in hand. A shit-storm was brewing.
It wasn't even two hours after submitting my review that I got the first email. It was the boss of the user review site asking me why I felt the way I did about the product. I reaffirmed my position and told them that I would not be changing my opinion. The next day I noticed that my review had been heavily edited and my rating changed. I was pissed. There was one of my pen names being whored out to this deep pockets corporation. I took up the issue with the user review site, the manufacturer got involved and threatened libel.... all over an honest review.
In the end, the review was nuked to uphold the farce that this was a great product. After all, a negative review before the product even hit the shelves would be disaster... that and the fact that the manufacturer was a sponsor of the user review site. My last message was to inform them that I had too much personal integrity to do any more "honest reviews" for them and I would not be available for future reviews. I'm pretty sure I wasn't on their "reviewer" list anymore anyways.
Just remember this next time you read an "independent" user review on any website, and especially for bike magazines who depend on advertisers to keep the lights on. In light of all that, I've decided no more reviews from me... and I've deleted all reviews from my blog. Just like in the X-Files... Trust No One.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.