Crisp cool mornings, warm sunny afternoons, glowing orange landscapes, and the sound of leaves crunching under your tires... that's autumn riding at it best. If I had to pick, I'd say autumn is my favourite season to ride. To me, its everything from cold night rides where your foggy breath puffs out like a locomotive's steam, to sweaty afternoons shedding layers to stay cool.
I've been very fortunate this fall so far, I've had the chance to spend some amazing days in the backcountry of Turkey Point, as well as some riding in places like Muskoka and the Ontario Escarpment. I keep thinking to myself "this must be the last day of the warm weather" but this November keeps on delivering. I was able to spend a few fall hours out in Turkey Point recently and the views are just stunning, the forest has a vibrant almost-neon glow to it and the gentle breeze brings down the brightly coloured leaves at a steady pace. Being in the woods right now makes you realize that just like the squirrels foraging for a winter's worth of food, the forest is also going into hibernation.
Moving further along into the pine forest and the leaves are replaced with a blanket of pine needles covering the sandy soil. Every once in a while you can catch a wiff of the fresh pine needles baking on the warm sunny sand, the best smell in the world (followed closely by fresh cut lumber and weathered leather).
With each passing day of awesomeness, the cold of winter lurches closer and soon enough we will be covered in snow and the fat bike will be pulling extra duty. This is the time that my riding addiction goes into overdrive and I have to ride every drop out of this autumn weather. Be it on singletrack or a rail trail, I'm riding out this fall to all its potential and embracing the change of the seasons.
Ride on! See you out there!
After a few hours of toughing out cottage traffic the family and I arrived at the cottage of my wife's cousins. We had made the plans earlier in the year to have a weekend on the lake visiting her extended family and there was no way I was going to leave my bike at home with all the great riding I could do up there. Saturday was a nice day at the lake followed by a Turkey dinner, but Sunday morning was my chance to sneak out for a few hours.
I was out the door and running immediately after breakfast. I had my sights set on getting out to Buckwallow (which was only 10 minutes from the cottage) as I had not been there in over five years. I pulled into the parking lot and was immediately greeted by the owner Mike, who was genuinely interested in talking about trail conditions and what my plans to ride were. In no other pay-to-play trail system have I ever been met by the owner and had a quick chat, maybe its the Muskoka-Friendly attitude or that life moves a little slower up there.
After paying my $10 fee I set out to battle the rocks of the Canadian Shield. I had forgotten over those five years just how tough and technical these trails are. I had to quickly adjust to the unfamiliar terrain or suffer greatly.
I'm not going to lie, the terrain here is steep and brutal at times. I was glad I had the extra traction of the full on fatbike with me but still had the occasional loud howl of my four inch wide tires sliding across the rocks when I would grab a little too much rear brake. All the rocks also made for plenty of opportunities to tear my big tires to shreds, although I did make it out with just a little bit of sidewall rash on the rear tire. These 3 year old Floater tires are darn reliable.
I got deeper into the trails and onto old Buckwallow classics like West 'D' Nile and The Missing Link. These sections are an odd mixture of pleasure and pain. I have to come clean too, I did have a few hiccups and colourful language while out there. I also had to be careful not to go down too hard, as the saying goes about "an unstoppable force meets an immovable object", I'm sure I would have had broken bones if I pushed too hard.
After a few hours of beating myself and my bike senseless, it was time to call it in. I had ridden everything that Buckwallow had to offer, then some sections over again for added self-induced trauma. I headed back to the cottage and enjoyed lunch, then sat on a comfy chair on the dock and relaxed the afternoon away while watching the family enjoy the boats and water skis. It will likely be another five years before I ride Buckwallow again but it will be well worth the wait.
Its been a while since I had a good rant so here goes.
What the fuck is up with assholes who cut the trail? The more popular the trails at Turkey Point get, the more cheater lines pop up everywhere. I understand the need for easy and hard routes in some sections but the blatant corner cutting of some people is just sickening. I'm not sure if its stupidity or the Stravasshole effect, but its getting downright maddening.
Take this corner on "The Burn" for example. This is near the north end of the trail just before it reaches Moosehead Junction. This end of the trail is known for being quite rooty and slower than the rest of the trail. Take a look at the photo evidence below looking at the corner from the entrance and the exit.
As you can see the original corner is already big enough to drive a straight truck through, then some assholes decided it was a great idea to cut that corner with a shitty little cheater line. I suspect this is the work of some Strava-addicted asshole who needs that precious half second to score his PR or KOM or whatever the fuck gets Stravassholes hard. What the dickhead in question does not realize is that now everyone is saving that half second on the cut corner and hes going to loose his bragging rights in their virtual race and won't receive as many "props" or what-the-fuck-have-you that those guys (virtually) stroke eachother off with.
If mountain biking was all about going fast maybe we should just pave a road through the woods and be done, but its not. Its about putting in the grunt work for the fast and flowing payoff, pushing yourself to the limit on both the fast sections and the slow grinding ones, earning your turns. If you can't ride a tough section or feel that it slows you down too much, work on your bike handling skills. Don't alter the trail to suit your own shortcomings, work that shit out on your end and become a better rider.
I've seen lots of this shit over the years, and some really awesome trail features removed because someone took it upon themselves to remove something they couldn't ride. I say fuck those people. If cutting corners is your thing then maybe you should take up sewing.
I did stick around after taking these photos and fix the corner in question, after all I am a man of action, not just some jerk with a keyboard.
In conclusion: Don't Fuck With The Trail!
The plan was hatched late Friday evening that we would ride early Saturday and beat the heat, or at least try to. It had been a while since both Kyle and I had been to the Hydrocut and we were both feeling an itch for it that we needed to scratch. Kyle showed up early and we were on our way after a fuel and drink stop. The drive up was full of our typical bullshitting about bikes, motorcycles, and diesel powered units.
We started out from the Snyder St entrance to the Hydrocut, which in my opinion is the better of the two parking areas. A quick ride down the multi-use trail and we started our 'Cut ride on Creepy Corner. It had been a few weeks since I've ridden the Torrent, due to a rear wheel failure and subsequent rebuild, and I was getting accustomed to the aggressive nature of the bike again. We came across some new trail sections, Medusa and Godzilla, and I went full bore on the huge rocks at the entrance. I caught myself by surprise by getting up and over such a large obstacle that I never would have tried in years gone past on my more modest bikes I've owned.
The gnarly freight train kept going. When Kyle and I ride it usually turns into a duo of grown men laughing and yelling through the woods. We push each other in different ways. Kyle pushes me faster and I push him harder in the technical sections and tough obstacles. We came out of the Frankenstein trail into a group of riders who appeared to be from Brantford. One remarked to us that we were "scaring all the woodland creatures" to which Kyle and I laughed and kept moving. We later joked that we were just practicing for our Mountain Dew commercial.
With our water running low and the heat of the day starting to get to us, we decided to slow the pace a bit for the remainder of the ride. We finished off without incident, opting to take the easy route on Kamikaze as our arms were tired and our concentration fluttering. The first "Buddy Road Trip" of the year came to and end with plans on doing much more together before the year is out. Where will we ride next? Kelso? Ravenshoe? Dufferin? We will see.
I've realized (after a few emails) that some of you might have noticed that I'm posting less on the blog. Fear not, as I'm still in the game and have a few things coming down the pipe soon. My free time has been limited as of late and I've spent what time I have riding rather than writing. I'm about to have a bit of a schedule shift in life and should have some more free time in the evenings after the kids go to bed, which will let me blog on the couch beside Mrs. Bric while she watches her shows.
I'm also going to focus more on quality articles and stories rather than ride reports consisting of photos and "It was a great ride" kind of thing, it gets boring after a while. The great photos will keep coming though. I'm also planning on doing some more "away" rides this year and more riding with groups which will undoubtedly spur some interesting stories. I'm also reliving my youth and writing about adventures of years gone by that will be slowly published over the next year.
Stay tuned everyone! Thanks for reading!
Sometimes you need to go the hard way and test your metal, to see what you are really made of. This is why I've decided that I'll tackle the TillsonBurn ride this year. Its going to be the "short" loop for me, which is 50km or so of gravel roads and trails with lots of hills tossed in. We are less than a week away so I thought I should get a dry run in and and see if my metal is up to the task at hand come Friday. I hopped aboard my trusty cross bike and decided to make a loop of 50km comprised of road and trail to somewhat mimic what I had ahead of me.
I left Simcoe via the Lynn Valley Trail, one of my usual ways of getting out of town. The air was still cold and each breath was a could of steam from my nose. I imagined myself as a coal powered locomotive, puffing steam with each rotation on the cranks. The trail was quite as it was still quite early and cold for the dog walking and trail running crowds.
Once out of town I left the limestone pathway of the Lynn Valley Trail and onto the asphalt of Lynn Valley Road. My first test of metal was just ahead of me, a gruelling short climb up the North tip of Ryerse Road. I held each gear as long as I could, frantically downshifting just as I was about to stall out, until I reached my granny gear. I kept my legs turning and my eyes looking ahead to the crest, eventually besting the hill. The morning cold seemed to have burnt away while under full power and I was warm now, although breathing hard. I made my way down Ryerse Road pointed South towards the lake. A quick stop at Hay Creek for a water and pee break and I was in Port Ryerse before I knew it.
The next few miles along Front Road would be a tough set of short hills. The first of which was up and out of Port Ryerse travelling West, a short but punchy climb that had me sweating. A few miles of rolling hills and lake shore scenery and I was descending into Fisher's Glen which is home to the infamous descend-hairpin turn- cilmb of Front Road. The climb out of Fisher's Glen can be brutal, it seems like you go from the lowest point in the county to the highest in one short steep climb. I reached the top, gasping for air but exhilarated at the same time. So far my dry run was going well and I was crushing these climbs one after another.
I throttled down a bit and spun my way into Normandale and up to the dead end of Mole Side Road, the popular staging area for the Turkey Point trails. This would be the trail section of my "test of metal". As I rolled into the TP trailhead I met, by chance, with Russ who was heading out to do some training with his new trail dog Ryder. Ryder was super excited and bouncing through the woods along the trails. A little bit of chit chat and we went our own ways, each of us having spoken of our commitment to doing the "Burn" on Friday. I rode in on the Finn and Feather trail, then on through Dizzy Lizzy where I met up with the TPMBC gang. They were heading to the dump property and I decided to hang with the group as I was heading that way anyways.
The cross bike wasn't too bad at keeping up with the full on mountain bikes, although after being repeatedly jarred along trails like The Stroller and Methane my wrists were crying in pain. It seems that 42c tires and drop bars are not as pillowy comfortable as four inch fat tires and flat bars. We rode out of the dump and out to Motorhead where I really tested the limits of the CX bike on the big rollers, bridges, and minor jumps along the trail. This sure isn't the kind of bike you want to "get loose" on, some of it was downright scary. After Motorhead (during which I always have the song 'Ace of Spades' playing in my head, RIP Lemmy) I hit the road again for the ride back towards Simcoe.
Back on the road and I was moving North towards the four corners of Walsh. I moved quickly from TP to Walsh but was running out of steam now with about 10km or so to go before hitting home. I turned onto a concession road and was hit by a nasty headwind. It wouldn't have been so bad but I was really starting to feel the burn and the wind was kicking my ass. I found a good gear and just kept churning the pedals, I felt as if I was riding through oatmeal. Lots of effort with little payoff.
I put my head down and kept moving. Before long I was riding back into Simcoe along Evergreen Hill Road, just a few km through town and I would be home. My test of metal complete. Once I pulled into my laneway I nearly collapsed, my legs felt like huge rubber bands. My GPS says I did 49km, but it always reads lower than my bike computer for some reason (I've tested this on a few bikes, all the same results) so I'd have to hazard a guess that I was actually closer to 53-54 km.
My test of metal felt successful, I think I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be for the TillsonBurn but I'm sure I'll still have my ass kicked by the terrain and the weather. I'm really just hoping to survive the ride without having to call Mrs. Bric to pick me up along the route, and I want to keep myself from crying too. I don't mean crying the sense of "my brakes are dragging" either, I mean that I hope I don't give up and sob myself to sleep in a puddle of my own urine on the side of the road. That would be embarrassing.
Can't wait to have my ass kicked and my soul crushed on Friday! See you out there.
Been a while since I did a ride post. I got out Thursday after work for a nice 30km ride in the trails along the Grand River in Brantford, then onto the Nith River in Paris. I started out at Powerline Rd and did the Hardy Road trail out to the bridge and back, then the rail trail out to Paris. Rode through Paris to Barker's Bush and did the Barker's Beauty loop, then back out to my truck at Powerline. I had the pleasure (not really sure thats the right way to put it) of my first trail-side flat on the fat bike. Holy shit it takes alot of pumps to fill those tires with a minipump. I need a bigger pump.
The good people of Brant County have even mastered their picking up dog shit but leaving the bag technique. I spotted a really nice poo bag hang in Paris, they even left it on a gate for everyone else to admire. Fucker should be proud.
I also got to try out my new-to-me Garmin Edge 200. Picked it up used in excellent condition to track my rides. Pretty neat tool.
It was a good ride, but aren't they all? A pretty good burn too for doing 30km after working all day. The weekend looks like a bunch of rain so I might not get any riding in, there is always next week though.
I hadn't been out to Guelph Lake in quite a while so I decided to take advantage of my day and head up there. I started in the park in town and rode the community pathway out to the GORBA trails. Guelph Lake is home to some nice rolling trails through mostly pine forest. Trails like South Park, Mad Hater, Devil's Backbone, and Child's Play are all classic pine forest riding. Jurassic Park, Firefly, Upper Jurassic, and Dragon's Tongue are some tougher trails rolling up and down from the lake shore area. I did notice that the signage was in poor shape. The trails use to have excellent signs and maps but in the few years its been since I've ridden here they have degraded badly. For an out-of-towner like me, it was frustrating as I've only ridden here about 5 times over the last decade and need a reminder as to what is what.
After coming out of Beach Cruiser, you are greeted with excellent views of the lake. Beyond this there are some unofficial trails along the shore line near Highway 24. These trails can get pretty rough and tricky near the shoreline. Stay on your toes.
Heading back to the main trails I usually link up Firefly, Devil's Backbone and Link. Head into the tougher stuff on the south edge of the river (north most trails) for some serious rock crawling. The forest is so dense in here that it stays damp and dark all the time. You can almost catch a chill, even on a day like today with 36 degree plus humidity. Make no mistake, these trails are rocky.
After playing in the GORBA trails for a few hours I headed back out the community pathway to the park where I started. There are some singletrack trails coming off this pathway, these trails have some super tech challenges with alot of gnar tossed in. Roots, rocks, and more roots abound here.
Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a bicycle. Guelph Lake has everything from beginner singletrack, to the gnarly stuff that you might feel safer wearing armour for. Thanks GORBA for making an awesome trail system!
I hit the road looking to ride something different than my usual Turkey Point or The Pines. After a bit of thought I decided upon Puslinch. Its just over an hour away and is home to some twisty pine forest singletrack that slowly progresses into technical hardwood riding with roots and rocks.
I arrived at 9am, the trailhead was busy but not too overwhelming. I geared up and headed out into the bush. The soil was tacky with a couple of small wet areas throughout. For the first few kilometers its a nice winding ride in the plantation forest along the 401. You can hear the traffic from the 401 along the entire North edge of the forest, but it quickly fades as you progress further to the South East.
Route finding is a little on the tough side at times. The full loop is marked with blue blazes on the trees that are not always easy to find. It also appears that an easier loop is marked with green blazes. I kept following the blue markings and making my way into the tougher more challenging trail. Like I said before, the further you go the more challenging it gets.
The Fatboy seemed to swallow up all the nasty roots and rocks without too much trouble. I've never cleaned so many sections here before, I have to give credit to the bike for this one. I seemed to have great traction wherever I was. I also got the usual comments from onlookers and other riders to the tune of "isn't that thing slow?" "I bet that takes alot of work to ride", etc etc. My answer is what it always is - the bike isn't holding me back, the only thing that does is my skill and nerve.
If you have never been to Puslinch (or Twin Ponds as some call it), its worth the drive. Its a great place to ride if you like technical singletrack or are just looking to break up the routine of riding your local trails. The entire loop can be done in under two hours if you are of average skill and fitness level (me), much quicker if you are the racer type. It also drains well after a rain fall, adding to the appeal of the trails. Get out there, you will have fun. I promise.
Got up nice and early for a Hydrocut ride in Waterloo. Was at the trailhead getting geared up just before 7am. Had the place pretty much all to myself, although near the end of my ride there were alot of riders heading into the trails. The ride was problem free except for a nagging clicking sound thats coming from my pedals. I re-installed my crankset and greased it thinking that that might have been the problem, but it remains.
Trails were in excellent shape, save for a bit of overgrowth near the hydro lines which it typical with this area. Once again my favourite trail was The Bridge. You can come down that thing absolutely smoldering with speed, I was rippin'.
The mosquitoes were horrendous today, I went in figuring that much as the guys on the Defiant MTB Facebook Group had reported this a couple of days ago. Just don't stop moving, even with the DEET. I need to get back out the The 'Cut again this year, its always a great ride.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.