I was out the door by 6:30. I planned on a ride to Dover and back with some breakfast at the pier but shortly after leaving town on the LVT the forecasted rain started. I hoped I would beat it but luck was not in my favour. I decided to cut it short and bail on my plans, hitting the road at the next crossing. I headed back towards Simcoe along some back roads and came into town through some of the old industrial area. The rain had let up some and I was plodding along slowly taking in the scenery of the derelict buildings when I came across one particular gem that caught my eye.
I took a walk around the outside of the building, looking for anything interesting to photograph when I came across an exterior door that was just ever so slightly opened. I approached the door, hidden by dense bush but with a "deer path" through the vegetation up to it, and pulled it open slowly.
It was pitch black inside and the only things I could see were building debris illuminated by the sliver of sunlight that the door granted passage. I had no flashlight with me to explore any deeper so I decided that the best I could do was step into the dark and use my camera flash to see inside, seemed smart at the time but looking back it seemed more like one of those stupid mistakes that the person about to die in a horror film makes. Two steps in the door and I took a photo in the blackness with the camera flash bursting a moment of light into the black. I looked down at my camera screen to see what I had caught when I heard a sound.
I froze in my tracks as I heard a faint whistle, the kind you use to try and get someones attention. I was standing in the pure black darkness, crippled in fear by the whistle when the muffled voices started, followed by footsteps. I panicked and turned around running out the door and through the bushes to my bike. I stood there, twenty feet or so from the open door, waiting for someone to come out of the abyss inside. It felt like an eternity I stood there waiting. No one ever came out but I had the feeling of being watched from within the darkness. I jumped on my bike and began riding away through the abandoned area, looking back expecting to see someone, but only felt eyes on me. What person or dark force had I disturbed? The feeling of dread was lifted from my shoulders as soon as I had left sight of the door.
I rode back through town to home, reliving the experience in my mind over and over. In all likely hood I only disturbed a vagrant or another would-be explorer, but I don't care to ever go back in that door again.
Earlier this week, while laying underneath a truck replacing a pinion seal, I decided that I needed a road trip this weekend. I started going over the usual 2-3 hour road trip destinations when I had the thought of taking on The Ganny again. Its been a while since I had been there for the Long Sock Classic a few years ago. A quick text to my riding buddy later and we had a plan.
We arrived at the Ganaraska Forest Center around 10am after battling our way through Toronto traffic and into Durham County. We paid our gate fee and began gearing up. The friendly gate attendant supplied us with a map of the Paul's Dirty Enduro route, which we would be riding today. The route is well signed but a map is always a welcome aid. It wasn't long before we began climbing the rolling terrain, it seemed like we just kept going up with no end in sight. When the end did finally come we were rewarded with fantastic downhill sections that begged to be ridden fast and hard, which we obliged.
The trails here are always going up or down, not much flat riding anywhere. The thought of the next downhill made the hard climbs a bit easier to handle and we made frequent stops to take in the views in this massive parcel of land. The trails are quite rugged, especially when getting further away from the forest center, and remind me of a time when mountain biking was more about tough backwoods trails and exploring than buff groomed singletrack.
The routes are marked quite well with options to ride 15 / 30 / 60 / and 100km routes. We stayed along the 30km route because we are mere mortals and don't have championship stallions for legs. We were also treated to some beautiful vistas of valleys and forested hills in the distance, the closest thing you will find to a mountain range this far south in Ontario. We tried to photograph them but it didn't capture the scenery like being there. Kyle tried to get a better view up a tree.
The map and my compass watch proved to be valuable. We tried to keep an idea of where in the forest we were and make sure our water supply would last us. It was a hot day and we each filled our hydration packs and loaded and extra bottle in them. The extra water saved us at the end as we finished off with just a few drops left. Even with our expert navigation skills, there were some hiccups. Thats to be expected though in a forest that is larger than some European countries.
We came flying into the forest center on a quick downhill run that had us grinning ear to ear. It was the perfect way to finish off such an epic ride. We arrived at the parking lot, happy and tired. Lots of high fives and "Woot woot!" as we collapsed at the truck and pulled water and Powerade from the ice cold cooler bag stashed in the truck.
We reminisced right away of all the awesome sections we rode and scenery we took in. We made plans and promises to come back every year from here on out and brave the 401 for the opportunity to ride this great area. Lots of new memories made and we will be talking for years to come about the great riding at The Ganny. Till next year...
It was back in 2003 or so, I had my new GT Avalanche and my friend Pete had his new Rockhopper. We were getting tired of riding the same old trails in town and wanted to venture out a bit so headed to the trails of "Barker's Bush" in Paris. It was a small area with lots of winding interconnected trails that where looked after by the long since defunct Brantford Cyclepath Bicycle Club, who also hosted an annual 8 hour endurance race there.
We arrived in the early evening and set out into the trails. Our pace was quick as we wanted to jam in as many kilometers as possible before dark and we weaved beautifully through the twisty overgrown singletrack. It wasn't long before we reached the far end of the trails and made a steep decent to the Nith River that had our early model disc brakes working hard a squealing loudly. I swear that I could hear water hiss and boil off my rotors in the little stream crossing near the end.
After a short break we decided to begin our ride back, the sun was setting and the forest was already starting to get dark. Along our way back we spotted a section of trail we missed the first time through and decided we had enough time to squeeze it in. I went in first, Pete was right on my rear wheel. After a few minutes of twisting and turning I realized that Pete has vanished. I had likely went through an intersection and he took an alternate route, not able to see me too well in the darkness that was setting in.
"Damn" I though to myself, "I'd better turn back and find him". I didn't want him or I lost in the woods at night. We had no lights or any sort and it would make for tough route finding back to the car. I headed back in the direction I came from, moving fast as to catch up with him.
Everything was going smoothly until 'it' happened. I rounded a corner and in a split second was able to make out a figure of a rider on a bike headed right for me in the dark. I slammed the brakes and turned to the right trying to avoid disaster. The bike stopped quickly but the mass of my body wanted to keep going and sent me over the bars and into the bushes, just narrowly escaping a collision with the other rider. I jumped back up to my feet and checked myself for injuries. I was ok.
"Are you alright?" Pete asked.
"Yeah I'm good." I replied. At least I had found Pete.
"Oh shit..... your bike." Pete's eyes lit up with half concern, half comedy.
"Faaaaaaaawk!" I picked my bike up off the ground. The front wheel was folded over and looked like something that had been driven over by a car. I started walking out, bike on my shoulder, back to the parking lot. The darkness had set in so Pete walked along with me.
Back at the car we had a good laugh over my misfortune. I had never destroyed a wheel so completely in one shot. It was a new record of sorts for me. I posed for a photo op with one of those old disposable cameras so I could document the moment. I felt like a hunter having a picture taken while standing over his prey. A few more laughs and we loaded the car for home.
The next day I headed into Brantford Cyclepath for a new wheel. I brought along the old one just to show the guys in the shop. I walked in the door, holding my kill in my hand with a smile on my face when Stu said something that I've heard many times since.
"There's no fixing that........ You break the most unusual stuff".
It was a good laugh, and I've broken tons of shit since.
I'm like a crow..... I see shiny things (or things that could be shiny with some love) and I need to have it. That was the case when I stumbled upon this old mid 90's GT Karakoram on Kijiji for forty bucks. It needs some love and a tender touch to get it back into fighting shape again. There are some obvious signs of neglect here, from the caked driveline to the collapsed fork, that need to be remedied.
I present to you, the Karakoram. I see it becoming a sort of utility / touring / towing bike when finished.
Its a fifteen foot bike right now, as in it looks pretty good from fifteen feet away. Get up close and things get scary looking.
It even has some really awesome Kool-Stop brake pads and a Kore stem.
The driveline is all kinds of fucked up and will need a gallon of varsol to clean it up. It looks like its not too worn out and should be okay after a clean up.
The seatpost was firmly stuck in place (as with most bikes of this age and lack of maintenance). I've gotten good at freeing these up and went to work on it. I found that someone else had already tried with the hammer (dumbass) method and I would work smarter. I stripped the cranks and bottom bracket, flipped the bike in the stand and filled the seat tube with penetrating oil. A bit of time and a breaker bar in the seat rails had it moving. Keep your catch pan handy as the oil is going to cover your floor when the post comes out.
Next will be stripping the bike and checking wear on all the parts. Then cleaning, lots of cleaning. Check back soon.
My holidays from work are not going as I had envisioned them. I've been sick / bad allergies all weekend / week so far and I've been hiding out inside the house. I kicked my ass into high gear and took way too much allergy medication and headed out the door for a ride. I decided to keep it local at Turkey Point so that if I bonked, I could head back home without much time wasted in the road.
I felt good on the bike, everything was clicking for me, finally. It was a hot one and the lack of rain around here had made it quite dusty and loose. Some corners are turning into beach sand and the dust is brutal. We need rain. Deer flies are also out in full force on the West Side.
I spotted alot of wildlife today. First a little Fawn out in the dump property, then some raccoons on an afternoon stroll near the Anderson Tract (they didn't seem too happy to see me, lots of teeth and scary noises, must have been grumpy to be up at that hour), and a doe in the old Fish Hatchery pond.
Took a few more "cool" shots out in some of the new trails in the Norfolk property.
And on a more serious note.... a bit of a Bikin' Bric PSA. Next time you are out in Turkey Point fending off ticks and keeping out of the Poison Ivy, be on the look out for Giant Hogweed. Its here. It has only been spotted in the creek that crosses under the bridge on the lower side of Rainbow Ridge (on route to the Anderson Tract / Pail Trail). No not touch this shit, it gets nasty and has life altering consequences if you do touch it.
Did I mention it was dusty? We NEEEEED a rain!
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.