The following is the second of three parts of "My Cycling History".
While my cycling was becoming more serious all the time, other parts of my life were changing now as well. I graduated High School and left my grocery store job to pursue an apprenticeship as a Truck and Trailer Mechanic. I was making more money and bought a newer vehicle to take me further in Ontario without having to worry about breaking down on the road (which did happen during some road trips with the old Cavalier).
The first trip I took with the new car was another one to Hardwood Hills. While it was great, I decided I needed to see more of Ontario. I also visited Albion Hills, The Hydrocut, Boler Mountain, Kelso, Hilton Falls, Guelph Lake, and many more. I was road tripping to ride almost every weekend I had off, a full tank of gas with my bike on the truck rack, I would consult "Rider Mel's Mountain Bike Guide To Ontario" for new riding ideas and hit the road. Some things that stuck with me from my early travelling days were riding all of Radical Trail at Hardwood, the tunnel under the road from Dalewood to Patterson Park, doing two laps of Fanshawe Lake for the first time, getting lost at Mansfield, and destroying my front wheel at Barkers Bush.
I began doing some light racing here and there. I did the Lake to Lake 50km twice, a time trial, The Dairy Capital Stampede, The MS 8 Hour Relay Race in Paris, and a few others. While it was fun, I was not really competing. It was more or less a fun mass group ride with other riders and I got to test myself.
Racing came and went, I started to focus more on having fun filled group rides. I began riding the park trails at Turkey Point Provincial Park with singletrack trails sprouting up here and there as the years went on. It was the work of the early members of the TPMBC before the club was formed.
Turkey Point was in the beginning stages of becoming the mountain bike mecca that it is now. There were a few twisty well worn trails through the forest with some overgrown bushwhacking type trails to get you out into the deep woods. It was the first area I could ride for hours on end getting lost in the forest and finding myself again. It seemed that there was never a bad weather day to ride out there, the sand just soaked up all the rain that could possibly fall and was ready to ride within minutes after the rain. It became my mountain biking "home base". Most of my memorable rides are from Turkey Point, whether it was alone or in the company of others. I just felt at home out there.
In '08 my trusty GT Avalanche (2003 model) was growing old. The frame was now out of warranty and looking pretty battle scarred. It was a true best friend that needed retirement to a "once in a while" bike status. I replaced it with a 2008 GT Avalanche, a bike that would be a "new" best friend.
The '08 Avalanche was new school sexy. Integrated headset, 100mm fork, hydroformed tubes. It was sweet. It was another bike that took me on some very memorable rides and more new places. I felt like a little kid again, but now instead of exploring the streets of town further and further from home I was exploring the province, each time getting further away and finding new terrain.
It was in 2009 that my trusty old '03 Avalanche cracked a chainstay while in "once in a while" retirement. It was the most upset I've ever been about a bike broken. I would never be able to ride my old friend again. GT stepped up in a big way and replaced the broken frame even though it was out of warranty. I was working at my local bike shop at the time (which likely helped the warranty case) and I got to be the one to destroy the frame and photograph it for GT as proof that it would not be ridden again. The replacement frame came the next week but it just wasn't the same. I did get to keep the bottom bracket shell that I hacksawed out of the '03 frame as a memento, which I still have on a shelf today. That old bike had something that all the others didn't. It had a soul, as silly as it sounds. The memories, the fun, the suffering, everything it had gone through with me and never complained. Cutting that frame up was like putting down a good dog. It just didn`t seem right.
2009 came and went like any other year, I rode as much as I could and didn't think about much beyond that. Things were about to change.............
The following is the first of three parts of "My Cycling History".
A recent email got me thinking about my personal cycling history and where bikes have taken me over the last 30 years. I realized that cycling has always been a big part of my life, whether I realized it at the time or not. I'm not going to list all the bikes I owned, that would be too much. I will mention the ones that were important to me and took me on memorable ride. This is more about my experiences than the bikes.
It all started when I was a young child and I got a black and gold Huffy with training wheels for my birthday. I learned to ride on that Huffy, doing countless laps in the laneway with the neighbour kid and my brother. It wasn't long before dad took off the training wheels and turned me loose at the soccer field in Delhi.
I graduated to a bigger bike (20" wheels) with a handbrake and rode along the sidewalk of Orchard Ave from one end to the other. I just had to remember to watch for cars in laneways and not pass the busy garage at Wills Motors. As I got braver with this bike I could pop the front wheel up an inch off the ground while using the cracks and bumps in the sidewalk to get there. This bike took me places, I also had my first crash on it. I remember trying to jump a booster seat we put on the sidewalk and going over the bars, skinning my knees and elbows, and running into the house crying for mom. This was also the first bike to go along with me on the family camping trips to Port Burwell, where I would wander the Provincial Park for hours and ride along the trails on the park that lead to the beach.
I was getting bigger now and needed a larger bike. My parents bought me a department store mountain bike with 26" wheels. A Triumph Sahara in silver. I loved this bike. I was now riding beyond the street we lived on and around the southwest part of town. Along the way was a convenience store called Mike's Mart where we would stop to buy Double Bubble sticks (5 cents each) that came with X-Men stickers. My yellow Bell helmet was soon covered with characters from the comic / cartoon show featuring my favourite heroes. It was this Triumph bike that led to my love of mountain biking. I was with my dad fishing along Big Creek at Dick's Hill (I wasn't much of a fisherman, but I liked being in the woods) when I saw someone ride past us on the trail on a bicycle. Great idea I thought and the next day I rode my bicycle down past the soccer fields to Dick's Hill to get my tires dirty. I had a blast and opened the door to my obsession for the next many years - the mountain bike. I thought I was inventing a new sport, this was great. One day at Dave's Variety I skipped the comic book rack and went looking at magazines, I found an issue of Mountain Bike Action. Wow, other people ride on dirt too. I bought that magazine and drooled over the bikes featured in it for the next 3 years. I mowed lawns and saved money and eventually bought a cool looking mountain bike from the Sears catalog, a Free Spirit.
It wasn't long before I reached the limitations of the Free Spirit, riding Dick's Hill and the Swimming Hole trails every chance I had. I needed a real mountain bike. In 2000 I bought my first REAL mountain bike, a Giant Rincon SE. This bike carried me thousands of kilometers over 2 years. Its one of the few bikes I wish I still had. I started going further from home on this bike, trips out to LaSalette, Pinegrove, even road riding to Windham Centre and Norwich.
Before long I convinced my parents that it would be a good idea to spend my lawn cutting money on a really nice bike, worth over $1000. My parents thought I was nuts but took me anyways to Hamilton to buy a used Klein Mantra. This bike was incredible. Light, fast, tough. By this time I was in high school and working in a grocery store part time. The Klein frame cracked shortly after buying and I replaced the frame with a Barracuda A2R, a killer bike in its own right even if a little dated.
The Barracuda was fun but was pretty old and built around a 63mm travel fork. I wanted more. I worked my part time job and saved enough money for a brand new 2003 GT Avalanche Disc. This bike took me even more places. I got my drivers license and bought a $700 1990 Chev Cavalier Z24. That heap of crap car took me and my bike to places like Hardwood Hills, Hardy Road, The Pines, and Fanshawe Lake. That GT was the first bike I was able to rail on and carve singletrack. It made me feel like a hero on dirt. I took that bike, in 2003, to Hardwood Hills, my first mountain bike road trip. A friend and I rode there for 3 days while camping at the Barrie KOA, eating lots of Kraft dinner and Quaker oatmeal. It was my first trip to a "trail center" of this sort and opened my eyes to the riding that was available to mountain bikers in Ontario. It would be the first road trip of many to come in the following years while I explored what Ontario has to offer by bike.
The trusty Avalanche went through a plethora of upgrades and different setups. It was the bike I owned the longest from 2003 until 2008 when I retired it in favour of a new 2008 GT Avalanche.
Some photos from a ride at Guelph Lake July 2009. Here I am rocking the 2008 GT Avalanche, while my riding partner is on the tried and true 2003 Avalanche. Nice crash sequence of Willy too.
The snow has been melting steadily around here lately and I'm jonesin' for some mountain biking. I grabbed the fatty and headed out to Turkey Point to see if the snow had melted off enough to be somewhat rideable. The closer I got to TP the more snow there was still out in the fields and bush. Once there I realized that there was still too much down here and it might be a miserable ride, but I mounted up and took off anyways.
Once into the Provincial Park the unplowed roads were not too bad and the section of snowmobile trail through the park was great. I tried a bit of singletrack (Saudwinder) but it was just too much even for the fatty still. The packed snow in the center of the trail was ok to ride but it was too easy to slide off and into the still almost a foot deep stuff off the sides.
I decided that I'd keep it to the sled trail and ride down into the town of TP and ride the beach. Sled trail was great as I mentioned before and the beach riding was fun along the still frozen lake. Riding the road back up and out of TP was pretty slow going on the fat bike. That hill is steep and loooooooong.
The way things are going we should be riding in about two weeks, albeit there still might be some snow on the trails but the fat bike should handle it with ease by then.
I began riding to work last week in an attempt to get more riding in, get in better riding shape, and lose some weight. I rode two of the four days I worked and will eventually get to riding three to four of the four days I work. My commute is 14km each way, a couple km in town through a handful of stop signs and traffic lights, then onto the quiet country roads all the way to work in a sleepy little hamlet. Its a quiet and relaxing ride and, for the most part, is free of much traffic.
I'm new to this commuting thing and my setup will more than likely evolve over the next few months as I find out what works well and what does not. So far I am happy with what I've got and it seems to work good.
My Norco CCX3 is setup with the following for my commute:
1)Blackburn Rack. This model is made for use with disc brakes and the lower mount is part of the axle QR. It works quite well and is sturdy.
2)Axiom LaSalle Panniers. I used these for touring years ago and have repurposed them for commuting. They are quite big and should hold all the lunch and clothes I'll need for work.
3) Lights - Magicshine 1000 lumen headlamp. I use this light for night time mountain biking but am also putting it to work for the dark morning part of my commute. MEC LED flashing white light on the fork, used to catch the attention of motorists. I also have a Torch flashing LED rear light, 5 super bright LED's that flash in a pattern similar to an ambulance.
4) Jandd Frame Pack - holds all my bike kit including multitool, pump, tube, patches. Also holds the battery for the Magicshine Light as well as wallet, keys and phone.
Here is a shot of the full setup. This bike is pulling double duty this year as my commuter and as the trailer towing rail trail riding rig that it has been in the past. A truly do it all bike, its my road bike, commuter, gravel grinder, rail trail blaster, and light singletrack slayer. I'll be doing a follow up in the coming months on what works and what does not. I should also hopefully be adding some commuting / urban riding content to the blog as well.
Well, its done. The old KHS has been reborn with a new lease on life.
I went from having this:
To the new sexy this:
The only parts from the original bike I started with are the frame and the wheels (minus the lefty front hub obviously) and front derailleur.
-2008 KHS Tucson 29er frame, 4130 cro-mo
-2005 Lefty Max 140, rebuild and modified for 29er use with 110mm travel
-WTB Speed Disc AM wheels
-Schwalbe Nobby Nic (f) and Rocket Ron (r) tires
-Niner Carbon Flat Top bar
-Shimano Deore 3x crankset
-Shimano SLX shifters and rear derailleur
-Shimano Deore front derailleur
-Shimano XT cassette
-Madison Flux saddle
-Avid BB7 disc brakes with 180mm rotor front and 160mm rear
-Avid SD7 levers
Finished weight is just over 29 lbs. Total project cost was about $500. I did some "creative" buying and selling to get there. I can't wait to get out on it and ride. The snow is melting here but there is still a couple of weeks until the trails are ready, they will be long ones.
New bikes are great but I like to see older, sad, beat up bikes get a new lease on life and I think this is a good example of how you can't go wrong with older stuff, its tried and true. This pig just needed some lipstick but she got a bit more than just that.
Click on photos in gallery to view larger image.
More work done on the KHS 29er. Next post about this bike will be the completed unit with lots of photos and full specs.
Lots of stuff getting done in the shop still. I'm keeping pretty busy with all the little winter projects.
Got the Norco finished off. Cleaned and lubed driveline.
Now that the Norco has been refurbed its time to "commuter" it out. Going to start riding it to work and piling on the miles once the weather is above freezing. Going to be adding some lights, a rear rack, pavement friendly tires.
Just want to say happy birthday to my wonderful wife. You are the best and I love you. Everyday is an adventure with you.
Short ride at Turkey Point this morning. The trails have seen some snowshoeing / walking but are still too deep and loose to ride. I managed a few km before heading back to my truck. Its hard staying on the narrow tracks where people have walked and when you veer off them you dive into deep snow that was up to my crotch at some points. I think TP is done until spring now.
I've heard that some places further from home (Guelph Lake, Agreement Forest, etc) are packed and riding well. I might have to take a drive to get my fat biking fix, otherwise stick to the snowshoes until the spring thaw.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.