I rolled out of bed and wiped the sleep from my eyes, eager to stick my head between the bay window curtains and see what the overnight weather had brought us. To my surprise we didn't get as much rain as they were calling for last night, although it was a drizzle / fine mist at that point. I needed to ride and after a crummy week of being sick, it was time to push myself out the door and rack up some miles on the mountain bike. A quick series of text messages and I had myself a riding partner for the day. Now I was committed and couldn't chicken out due to weather. I packed my waterproof gear and headed out the door.
Jason and I arrived at Mole Road just before 10am. We suited up and headed off into Saudwinder to start our ride. This was only my third ride on the new RSD Sergeant, as the last couple of months have sucked for me riding-wise. Jason also had his new rig out, a nearly identical RSD Sergeant. It seemed that he liked mine so much he had to get one of his own. I can't blame him, its a great bike.
We carried on through the Burn, Dizzy Lizzy, Humpback, and Wedowmaker. I was feeling a bit sluggish as I'm still getting over being sick. Hopefully I bounce back from it pretty quick, otherwise the TillsonBurn (only two weeks away) is going to be a short ride followed by a long humiliation for me. Time will tell. We headed out to Big Mike / the Church property and back into the Provincial Park along the Ridge Trail / Lookout Bluff. I was done, legs shot. We got in just under 20km but it was all I had.
Although I'm tired and feel worn and sick, it was a good ride and the new bike really shined. Jason was also quite happy with his Sergeant and I think we will be riding them for a long time to come. We had the trails to ourselves all morning as the cold and damp likely kept everyone off the trails until tomorrow, which looks to be beautiful forecast-wise. Time to smash some miles in on the CX bike and get ready for TBurn4.
I'm going to start off being totally honest and say that rides in February and March have been nearly non-existent for me this year. I just haven't been feeling the urge to ride lately and a busy family life combined with a roller coaster of weather that we've been having this winter made it easy finding excuses to keep myself from riding. A nice sunny day and an unexpected early departure from work meant that I had no excuse to keep me off the bike this time.
I grabbed my trusty fat bike (wasn't sure what the conditions would bring) and headed to Turkey Point. The combination of me being off my game after neglecting the bike, and the slow rolling Surly Nate's, made the first few kilometers creep by at a snails pace. Once I got warmed up and my head into the right space, things started coming together nicely. The miles rolled by and I could feel the cobwebs leaving my mind, the dust blown off my tires, and my urge to ride coming back.
I've had times like this before where I just need to take some time away from cycling and focus on other things. It was a nice break but I realized that I really did miss the bike more than I thought I did. There is something about twisting through the trees and hearing the dirt under your tires that gets me in my "Zen" place and keeps my mountain-bike-mojo going. As my mother once told me "absence makes the heart grow fonder" and I realize that taking a break makes you realize how much you can miss triggering through gears, feathering the rear brake in a corner, and popping your front wheel up and over small obstacles in the trail.
Now that my bike mojo is starting to come back, I need to get serious miles in before the TillsonBurn on Good Friday. I'm no where near ready for it, and in much worse off shape that I was last year at this time. I can't help but think of it as a death march at this point. I need to grind out some 50km+ mixed surface rides over the next few weeks leading up to the Burn.
Now.... for the goodbye part. At the end of my ride I had a good look and noticed that my repaired and braced chainstay on the Nashbar Fat Bike was cracking again. I figured this would happen but tried to be hopeful. The chainstay just has too many little cracks in it and has fatigued. Looks like this might be the end of the line for my trusty old Nash-Fat. I might get a couple more rides in on it before it breaks completely, but should probably play it safe and use it as a paper weight at this point. The new RSD is itching to go, but it hurts to lose such a good old friend. Watch for the Nash-Fat eulogy in the near future.
I was recently given the opportunity to take out a Rocky Mountain Blizzard fat bike for a real ride around my home trails of Turkey Point. The bike was one of the rental fleet owned by Elevation Mountain Bike Camps and Coaching who operates a mountain bike coaching / guides / rental business based in Turkey Point and were kind enough to lend me the bike for a morning of riding and testing while my personal fat bike is down. They are also the local Rocky Mountain dealer.
The bike is a 2016 model Blizzard 30. It features a Shimano Deore 10 speed drivetrain with Shimano m396 brakes. The wheels are Sun Ringle hubs and rims shod with Vee Rubber Bulldozer 4.7" tires. The Race Face Affect crank is a quality touch and the build is rounded out with Rocky Mountain branded post, bar, and stem.
The first snowfall of the winter is always a little bittersweet for me. It makes me happy because, just like and other kid trapped in a man's body, I get to bundle up and go play in it for hours on end with my bike. I get a little sad because it drives the last nail in the coffin and reminds me that I won't be riding in shorts for a few more months. I gave into my happy side and loaded up my bike and layered on the winter gear, then drove down to the familiar trails of good old Turkey Point. The sun was shining brightly and the trails were in excellent shape.
The light dusting of snow really highlighted the deer paths that criss crossed the singletrack out in the bush. I also came across some fox and coyote tracks.
I got out early enough that, save for one other rider and a group of trail runners, I was the first one out there. I followed the tracks of the other rider for a while before venturing off and hitting some undisturbed powder. There is something special about putting the first tracks into fresh snow, even if only a dusting like this.
The fatbike chugged along happily under me, almost as if it was excited to see snow again. Its running tip top after its big rebuild and the new rubber offers lots of grip that I had been missing with the old worn out tires. I can't wait to ride the shit out of this bike again all winter and leave it looking like a pile of broken parts picked out of a ditch.
By time my ride was finishing up there were lots of other riders out enjoying the day. As I finished on Saudwinder I noticed how many more tracks were cut into the white fluff compared to the one track on my way in. Early bird gets the worm as they say, or in this case the fresh snow.
My poor old fatbike had been hanging on the wall of the shop for months, having been decomissioned since the end of September due to worn out tires and drivetrain. The poor old girl had a ton of miles on her and needed some gentle love but bicycle-related cash flow (or lack of) was too low for a full bore refit. I tore it apart and slowly rebuilt with less-worn-out parts as I could get my hands on them.
I happened to have the used OneUP cassette adaptor and narrow-wide chainring that was on my Specialized Fatboy that I was smart enough to remove before I sold it a year ago, so I put those on with a good used cassette and chain to spruce up the drivetrain. I'm trying something a bit different with my driveline setup that I'm calling the "DingleX", its a 1x10 driveline with a 22T granny still installed on the crank. My main ratios are 30T ring X 11-42 cassette, but I can push the chain off the 30T narrow wide with my foot and run a 22T ring with the 11-42 cassette. Its not shifting on the fly but it will work for a 1X bike that will likely need some stump pulling gears come snow time. Let me illustrate below.
With the driveline sorted out I needed tires. After a bit of sticker shock from looking at a nice set of Schwallbe Jumbo Jim's, I went for a set of tried and true Surly Nates with an awesome retro looking skinwall carcass. The Nate's hook up alot better than the old Floaters that I had on the bike but also roll a bit slower and have a wee bit more self steer. I'm going to do some pressure tweaking in the near future to find the happy spot for these tires. The brown and green colour motif on this rig is a bit of a combination of the military and farm impliment look. I like it.
With my fat rig all fixed up I was ready to hit dirt, and with today being Global FatBike Day what better time. I headead out to Turkey Point for a ride and joined up with the TPMBC gang to ride out from Mole Rd. A group of (what I estimate was) 25 hit the trails and rolled over Big Mike and into the United Church property. I hung with the group for a while before heading off on my own to march to the beat of my own drum. Its not that I don't like group rides, I just prefer to be by myself sometimes and today was one of those days. I did some more riding out to the Lookout Bluff and back into some of the park trails. It was a good day, brought to an early end by some rain.
Now that the fatty is ready for a winter's worth of abuse, I can break down the Torrent for a disassemble / clean / lube / reassemble and keep it feeling brand new for spring. I've also had lucid thoughts of building a second wheelset for the fatty (650b+) and outfit it for bikepacking next year. We will see.
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!
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!
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 morning started out a little sad looking. Light rain all night and it was drizzle outside when I peeked out the curtains. The forecast promised to clear up in a couple of hours, but Turkey Point is a damn good ride in the wet, keeps the dust down and creates "hero dirt" conditions. A nice breakfast and a few minutes to load up my gear and I was on the road heading the few minutes south to Long Point Eco Adventure where the TPMBC Spring Kicker was being held.
I arrived to a sea of aluminum, carbon, and rubber pieced together into these beloved contraptions we call bicycles. Although there were an abundance of bikes to demo ride, I restrained myself and kept to my Norco that is paid for...... I think my wife would kill me if I came home with the idea of buying another bicycle. Having two growing kids that are hungry all the time adds to my struggle as there is never enough money in my bank account to even think of a new bike, and its probably a good thing.
Specialized brought their demo fleet along with their new electric bike. I have to admit that even after seeing and holding it, I still don't get it. Why take something as pure as a bicycle and attach an electric motor to it? If a big guy like me can grunt up a climb and put on a good sweat, there shouldn't be many excuses to own an electric bike. When the battery dies you can look forward to pedalling something that weighs as much as the coveted Supercycle Hooligan around your local trails. No thanks.
I've heard the argument that you can go further and faster than you could normally go, but I also remember some guy named Eddy who said "Don't buy upgrades, ride upgrades". I'll keep kicking it old school and just pedal my ass off. Anyways, time to move on and stop bitching about b-bikes.
I took some time to chat with cycling friends both new and old and snap some photos (see the gallery at the bottom of this post). Some groups were leaving for rides so I decided to get moving so I could grab a few action shots. I ended up tagging along with a fellow TPMBC member and two other riders, one riding his still very new Trek 29er and the other was doing a good job of putting a Cannondale CX demo bike through hell and back. It was a nice mix of bike types, between the four of us we had the fat category, the mid-fat, the 29er, and the CX covered and hung together nicely. It goes to show that there is no such thing as the 'wrong' bike. Just use what you have under you.
My action shots didn't work out so well. I forgot to adjust the settings on my camera for a quicker shutter speed. Oh well, at least I got a few photos moving at light speed.
We did a nice loop through the park and conservation reserve, covering Plant of the Apes, Saudwinder, The Burn, Dizzy Lizzy, Big Mike, Rum Runner, East and West Ridge, and back into Eco. It was a good short ride that was pretty much everything I had in the tank anyways. Being sick all day Saturday and not being at 100% that morning kept me dialled back a bit but it was nice to get outside and stretch the legs and lungs.
It was a great day overall and it was nice talking with cycling friends. I'm really looking forward to the next Spring Kicker in 2017. Also be sure to mark your calendar for the TPMBC Fall Ripper coming September 25th!
The first nice weekend of the spring....... how I've missed the warm weather. I'm not about to waste it either. Friday was a family bike ride and picnic / park visit. I pulled Little Bric on the Trail-A-Bike while Mrs. Bric pulled Princess in the trailer along with our picnic lunch. I was impressed that she pulled it as far as we went without complaining, she just put the power down and soldiered on with a loaded out trailer in tow. Lunch and park time was great, a perfect sunny day and 17 degrees out, followed by a lazy ride back home and nap times.
Saturday was my time to fly solo at Turkey Point. In spite of the nice weather, most trails are still sloppy and closed but Turkey Point is always ready to ride. The trails in the Provincial Park were closed due to a prescribed burn, so I headed out through the Anderson Tract and into the old dump trails. I had the Norco out today, first time in a few weeks, with my newly added Rocket Ron rear tire. I always like the Nobby Nic front and Rocket Ron rear on my 29ers and felt the Nic didn't handle well and slid out alot on the back. This trait was exasperated by the wider tires on the b+ platform and the Ron was a great choice. Much better cornering than the Nic in the rear and more traction that I could find the limits to.
This bike likes to be ridden hard. The harder I rode, the more confident it felt. I was carving the berms and even catching air off the little jumps. This is pretty good for a big dude who likes to keep it close to Terra Firma.
I rode out the dump trails to Motorhead and Wild Turkey, making a nice loop back via Big Easy. I came across a group of riders at a trail intersection and stopped to have the usual mountain biker friendly chit-chat when one of the ladies yelled "Hey, you're the helmet model!". Seems that my wife's photo of me showing off my helmets has made the rounds on facebook. I had to laugh at my minor moment of celebrity fame being that.
I headed back to the dump trails to finish off with Toxicity and Hot Flash. I have to give it to the LOST (Ladies On Single Track) girls for the Hot Flash trail. It was build and designed by them and is one of the more aggressive trails out in Turkey Point. Well done!
Back through the Anderson Tract and a short road spin to get to the West Side (again, the park was closed) for a nice loop through there. By the end of the ride I was in serious butt pain from the OEM Norco saddle, its needs to go in favour of something that fits better ASAP.
A perfect day of riding in anyone's book. Today is going to be spending more time with the family and taking our bikes to Delhi for a ride with Papa, who surprised the hell out of my by buying a mountain bike last year to bomb around town on. My son has been asking to go for a ride with Papa since he got his bike, I'm sure he won't be disappointed.
Welcome back spring..... I've missed you.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.