Not many words today.
Its been years since I rode at Kelso and was itching to get back into the gnarly rocks of "X-Tream Trail" and "Rough Trade". Having not been in a long time, there were some re-routes that I was unfamiliar with but everything flowed together nicely. The fall colours were in full swing and there were lots of hikers on the trails. The view from the top of the escarpment was beautiful.
Kyle and I put our technical riding skills to the test battling the rocks and roots. A couple of small wipeouts and a shoe malfunction were the only unplanned accidents of the day.
It was one of those perfect fall days. The ones where the temperature is spot on 20 degrees, its sunny, there is a gentle breeze, and there is a mountain bike under you. Just perfect.
Kyle and I set out at Turkey Point from Mole Road into the sandy singletrack with a big ride in the sights of our wide eyes. Our plan was to ride everything in the Provincial Park, then trek along the ridge trails to the West side and ride everything over there, eventually making our way through the ATV trails of the St. Williams Reserve and out to Commando / Luke Lake / Big Easy / Motorhead to finish off. It was going to be an epic ride and each epic ride needs a name. Our epic from earlier in the year is now referred to us by the name "Northern Tier Ride" and is a fond memory. We decided that this would be the "East Westerly Ride".
With our epic ride finally named and us well under way, we started stacking up the miles as we rode sandy trail after sandy trail. We took a few stops to take in the fall scenery and chat about how great the ride was going. While riding Big Mike on our way into the Ryerson Camp we stopped to take a panoramic view of the forest, it was stunning in the morning sun.
We carried on and ever stopped to do a bit of trail maintenance in some problem sections as we rode through. It wasn't long before we had made our way to the end of East Ridge / beginning of West Ridge, the pinnacle of the "East Westerly". The West Side was surprisingly dry with only a couple usual sticky spots, couldn't be any more perfect.
We finished off the West Side and traveled Gibson Rd to the ATV trails which took us to the South end of Commando. These new trails are working in nicely and are packed quite well, they should be fantastic after having a winter on them. While scooting along on Commando we came across a baby Eastern Hognose snake. This area is littered with snakes but seeing a Hognose is rare. This was just a little guy, I've seen grow adults up to 3' in length.
We finished off our ride with a maniac run through Motorhead then back to Charlotteville Rd 1 via Big Easy and the ATV trail. A few hundred meters down Charlotteville 1 and we were back at the parking area on Mole Road. A few high fives and some tired legs back at the trucks, the "East Westerly" was great. We are hoping we get in another epic ride before the end of 2016 and a few ideas have been bounced around having to do with trails in Brantford along the Grand River....... we'll see what comes of it.
About a year ago I picked up a Revelate Tangle Frame Bag from the awesome crew at Outspokin Cycles in London to replace the undersized Jandd frame bag I was using on my CX bike. I can't remember the exact cost but it was just over $100 if I can recall.
My first impression of the bag while groping it in the bike shop was that it looked well made. I took it home and mounted it to my CCX then filled it with all the junk I usually carry. It has no issue swallowing a multitool, tube, pump, patch kit, etc. The right side zipper opens into the large compartment, while the left zipper opens into a flat storage compartment great for a phone, camera, money.
The bag sits nicely under the top tube and out of the way. I've had it loaded quite fat and never had any issues with hitting my legs on it or being cumbersome in any way. The bag does limit the size of water bottle you can carry though as tall ones will interfere with the bag. I use my regular sized Camelbak bottles without issues but my big one litre "Magnum" bottle won't fit. This really is a non-issue though as the bag is big enough to carry a 3rd bottle if need be, along with all your other usual junk.
Bag construction is great. Its made from Zipstretch and Cordura and sewn in the USA. The liner material is made from red and yellow fabric which contrasts against your gear and makes it easier to find that one thing you're looking for in the bottom of the bag. The large right side compartment has a handy pump loop to secure your mini pump against the underside of the top tube. There is also a port to run a hydration bladder tube through if you choose to toss in a 2 liter hydration pack bladder, although your cargo room will be much less.
The left pocket is a flat one with enough room for some food, camera, money, wallet, etc. It has a nice divider to keep everything organized into three separate areas. I've even tossed in an "emergency diaper" while pulling the kids around. The zippers are very heavy duty units that should last a long time and are easy to use while riding.
I've put this bag through hell and back. Its been on a number of tough rides and seen lots of offroad cyclocross action and never missed a beat. Its been covered in sweat, mud, snot, and even some blood and still looks great. I have no complaints for this bag and would buy another in a heart beat. Matter of fact I'm looking to bag up my fatty for bikepacking and the Revelate bags are topping my list right now.
Easy 5/5 stars.
Back in December of 2015 I bought my new 2016 Norco Torrent 7.2 from the good guys at Totally Spoke'D in Stratford. I bought the bike for $2258 with taxes. I wrote about my initial thoughts on the bike after riding it for a few weeks here: My Norco Torrent 7.2.
I've put 10 months of riding on the bike now and love it. The slack geometry and high traction make for a very aggressive ride that likes to be pushed to the limits. Speaking of traction, this bikes had gobs of it. The Nobby Nic tires hooked up on everything and I actually swapped out the rear tire to a Rocket Ron 3.0 as I didn't need all that grip, even in the sandy trails of Turkey Point. I always liked the Nobby Nic / Rocket Ron combo on my 29ers and it didn't disappoint here.
The fork is a little hit and miss. The SR Suntour Raidon works well and the air spring is reliable, but I've had to remove the lowers a few times and clean the seals and bushings then reapply a thin spray-on grease to the insides of the lowers as there is no oil bath to lubricate the bushings and the fork gets a little sticky after a couple of months. I've heard of lots of failures and warranty replacements of this fork but mine has been doing good up until a few weeks ago when the compression damper began to leak. It is fine other than a slight leak if I hang the bike in the garage by the front wheel. Looks like I'll be contacting Totally Spoke'D soon for a warranty claim.
The wheels have been good. The hubs are reliable and the rims keep true. I did have to rebuild the rear wheel with Sapim Force (triple butted) spokes, but that has more to do with my weight than anything else. I popped a number of spokes and the wheel came apart, a quick rebuild and I was good as gold again. The rim and bead interface on these wheels are tight, I imagine tubeless would be an easy conversion.
The Shimano SLX driveline is great. Typical Shimano quality and never misses a shift. I was a bit apprehensive at first going to a 1x system but the 1x10 has proven to be all the gears I need. The 28 tooth chainring makes for some low gearing to grunt up steep hills and surprisingly holds it own everywhere else. I've only ever spun out my top gear on a long road section moving faster than I normally would (about 35 km/h).
The Norco brand bar / stem / post combo is of typical OEM quality and works great. The handlebar and stem have a 35.0mm interface and makes it much stiffer than the old oversize of 31.8mm. Can't fault anything here.
I did have to ditch the OEM Norco saddle. It was a lesson in pain riding that thing. I swapped it for a Specialized Phenom (review coming soon) and couldn't be happier. The Norco saddle was tossed into the bin of saddles I've somehow collected that are all torture devices.
The Shimano brakes work. They are not as powerful as I'd like but as a lower end Shimano brake they use resin pads that wear quickly and lack grabbing power. They fade quickly. I'm going to upgrade the pads to sintered metal and the rotors to something that can handle the abuse of the upgraded pads. If that does not work, I'll just throw on a set of XT brakes (when cash allows) and put these M396 (Acera level FYI) brakes on the fatbike.
Those are all the points I felt I needed to go into depth with. Here is a summary of what a like and dislike about the bike.
I love this bike. It feels like its almost the perfect bike for a guy my size, with traction and toughness built for a big guy. The thru axles do a great job of keeping the bike stiff and handling fast. The drivetrain is simple and reliable. The frame is setup for hidden dropper post cable routing if your rides get super gnarly. Norco did a great job spec'ing this bike out and the 2017 model has upgraded to a Rock Shox fork instead of the hit/miss Suntour.
This bike decends and handles technical trail sections like a dream. Norco's north shore heritage proves that they can tune a bike for the gnarliest of conditions. It laughs in the face of rock gardens and root sections. It climbs great and never spins out, the perfect balance of rear/forward weight. Bike fit and feel are great, you feel like you are in the bike and not on top of it. Alot of other bike brands I've bought in the past needed the stem length changed or a handlebar with a change of sweep, but the Norco fits me great as it is. The bars fell at just the right spot from day one.
Going forward I believe that the 650b+ / 27.5+ wheel platform will be the "go-to" size for people who just want a trail bike or live in areas where conditions are loose (aka Turkey Point). It also seems like the perfect Clydesdale wheel size in the fact that the wheels are smaller and stiffer than a 29er but still have the 29er diameter.... with a ton more traction.
I couldn't ask for much more from this bike. Its an easy 5/5 for me.
"Wow, its getting dark" I laughed as Kyle and I rolled up to Red Hat Junction. We had been riding for an hour and a half and the light was fading quickly deep out in the Anderson Tract. We stopped for a water break as the darkness overtook the woods. This was our Friday night out, alone in the woods while other people would do bars or movies. I'd much rather be out here. We hooked up our high powered helmet lights as we prepared to roll out into the trails again. The evening cold was creeping in and the lights illuminated our foggy breath. I gripped my damp handlebars and pushed off into the singletrack.
Our lights danced through the woods, catching a glimpse every so often of oddly shaped trees and branches that played tricks on our minds and made boogeyman creatures come to life. The wind in the tall pine trees made the soothing sound of waves crashing on a shoreline and the odd scurry or squeak of nocturnal animals made the hair on our necks stand up. I had to think logically and remind myself that there was no sasquatch waiting around the next corner. These night rides are an odd mixture of involuntary fear and a singletrack-induced adrenaline rush.
Riding at this time of year means that you either have a short ride before dark or come prepared and ride the spooky night. Night riding adds a new layer to the same old trails too, making things interesting and new again. I've been night riding for a number of years now and love how it can make everything fresh and I have the trails all to myself. It is rare to come across another night rider making the sense of isolation even greater.
I love my night rides, and now that October is here and the days are shorter, it means there is more of it to come. So don't pack your ride in when darkness falls, brings some lights and ride into the beautiful night. Its worth it.
Ride on! (In the dark)
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.