I ruin a lot of bottom brackets and figured I would make a poem as an Ode to the BB!
Your bearings started off greased and clean,
Your threaded cups torqued tightly;
But now you look back on the days that have been,
And remember when you wore in slightly;
You kept the cranks held fast,
And didn't make a sound;
You thought you'd outlast,
Your durability would astound;
The grit took its toll,
And your bearings are shot;
You feel crunchy when you roll,
A new unit will take your spot;
Many have come before,
And more will come after;
Your dust seals are tore,
You've done your job as built by your crafter;
You are the unsung hero of cranksets everywhere,
Your cups hidden from view;
When you finally die most people swear,
But my dearest bottom bracket I salute you!
Just imagine... you're having a great ride deep in the backwoods with nothing but yourself and the sounds of your tires on dirt and birds chirping, miles away from civilization. Just as you're enjoying the ride, the urge strikes and nothing is going to hold it back. Maybe you had a few too many tacos the night before or forgot to take the pre-ride dump, either way you need to get yourself out of the woods without toasting your riding shorts. If you're a rugged bushman you won't be a stranger to the bush dump, but some people are shy about having a crap in the woods and need some inspiration. Here are a few good tips for the "Bush Dump" that I've learned on my own, and with some guidance from dad in my younger years (he is the bush dump master).
Location, Location, Location
You need to scout out some good terrain for your bush crap. The best areas are flat and open with soil that can be easily dug. Keep away from the trail and any water source by at least a few hundred feet. Make sure the area is clear of nasty things like poison ivy. Watch out for signs that others have used the same spot for their bush dumps, they are usually marked by a stick pointing out of the ground or a set of sticks in a cross, this is common bush etiquette.
Dig it out
Time to dig your hole. Luckily the typical stiff soles of cycling shoes make digging a hole nice and easy. Dig down about six inches and large enough for your deposit. You're not digging to China here, just taking a dump.
I'm a fan of the good old fashioned squat. Some people will hang onto a tree or sit over a log, even hold hands with a dump buddy (if thats your thing), but the squat can't be beat. Every other animal out in the bush does the squat, you should too.
Keep it Clean
Good thing you're like me and packed a flattened out roll of toilet paper in your hydration pack. If you're a racer type and skip the TP in the name of weight savings, you're going to have a bad day. Look for an inviting leaf or pinecone, even birtch bark will work in a pinch (haha, pun) and get you feeling closer to nature. If you have a sensitive posterior like some of the lycra-clad XC geeks, you are going to be riding out with one sock. Refill your hole and burn the TP (be careful, only you can prevent forest fires). No lighter? Start rubbing sticks together or stuff your pockets, don't leave your TP out there to float in the breeze. Mark your hole with sticks as mentioned earlier.
There you have it. Now you hold the knowledge and can escape a back country bush dump without making your favourite riding outfit look like a 9-month-old's onesie after eating three servings of beans. Follow these simple rules and leave no trace, don't be the asshole that shits in the woods and leaves it like a dick for someone else to stumble into.
When you gotta go you gotta go.
Its no secret by now that my fatbike frame is cracked and I sold my trusty Norco. I enjoyed my time on the Norco Torrent (review here) but needed less of a "go fast" bike and something more along the lines of a quiver killer. I set my sights on the RSD Sergeant from a relatively new company based right here in Ontario. These guys are big into the fat and plus bike scene and have incredible value for the dollar, not to mention well spec'd bikes with no corners cut. Customer service at Rubber Side Down is top notch. I placed my order late on a Sunday night and I had an email Monday morning from Alex, the head honcho at RSD, thanking me and providing my tracking number. Wow.
So, here it is, the RSD Sergeant.
The bike has what I'm calling a "super spec". I can only find one part I don't like, but more on that later. It comes with 27.5" x 3" tires, but do some nosing around the interwebs and you'll find that it can swallow 27.5" x 3.8" tires from Maxxis and Bontrager. A true two bikes in one, or a fatty with a narrow Q factor (73mm bb shell). I'll be rocking the 3" tires for everything but snow, whereas I'll toss on some 3.8" tires. I can't wait to put some miles on this bike and will do a full review after putting it through its paces.
The only part I don't like right off the hop is the cassette. Nothing wrong with the cassette but its a cheaper Sram model with no carrier body and mounted to an aluminum freehub. Tisk Tisk! This is a recipe for a completely fucked freehub body and I'm changing out the cassette before I even ride it. Would have been a non-issue with a steel freehub body.
The rest of the build is tough looking with a 34mm stanchion fork, 4 piston Avid brakes, and Race Face Turbine cranks. There are a few nice touches too, like Race Face grips, Avid matchmaker clamps, and genuine brand name handlebars / stem / post that you don't see alot of for OEM. My completely stock large weighs in at 31 lbs.
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.
First order of business, if you havn't signed up for the newsletter do it now. The icon is over there on the right sidebar >>>>>>>>>>
Secondly, I have a ton of new material written and waiting to be published. I'm confident in saying that I'll have an interesting article published each month, in addition to my usual ride blogs and ranting. The website has also seen a bit of an update and more features are coming as well so check back often.
Thirdly, here are some random photos from during my time away from The Bric and the awesome winter riding I've had.
I also committed myself to doing some bikepacking this year (likely just a few overnighters at this point) and bought myself some gear. I've outfitted myself with a seat bag, handlebar roll, and top tube bag. The bags are all Blackburn Outpost series that I picked up from Outspokin Cycles. Watch for a full on review of the bags after I've had them out a few times. I'm still debating right now if I should grab the matching frame bag to use in conjunction with my Wingnut Hyper 3.0 pack, or just go with the Wingnut Adventure pack and forgo the frame bag all together.
In other news, my fatbike frame has cracked and left me fat-less the last few weeks. I've been doing alot of riding on the CX bike. The crack doesn't look big but it goes 3/4 of the way around the seatstay, bummer. I've been trying to sort out my issue but can't afford a new fat bike so watch for some brazing / bracing action from the Bric soon.
I've been contemplating selling my Norco Torrent to free up some funds for a newer fat bike, as I am sure that the fatty will crack again even after being repaired. I can't complain much though, this fat bike has seen a ton of miles and been through hell and back many times over.
I've also got some updates coming from the projects department, mostly that I've finally finished one. More on that one in a bit.
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I'm also posting to let everyone know I'm going to be taking a little break from Bikin' Bric's Bike Blog. Its only temporary and I'll be back sometime in the end of January / beginning of February. I'm still writing and even have a few stories on deck but have decided to take some down time before making some big changes when I'm back. Watch for some new features and there might even be a contest coming up so keep an eye out.
Five years ago I strolled into Ancaster Cycle just to nose around and day dream of owning more bikes. I wandered the shop and inspected each mountain bike they had then move towards the roadie side of the rack where I noticed a black and white bike with disc brakes. Upon closer inspection I found myself drooling over the Norco CCX3, a do-it-all style of CX bike that I would categorize as a gravel-cross-commuter. I was strangely drawn to this bike, never having the urge to own a CX bike before. I returned home and did some humming and hawing before digging up some cash and heading back to Ancaster to make the Norco mine. I remember my wife's puzzled look when I wheeled it in the door, as it looked like a road bike at first glance and I'm not a road going kind of guy.
After adding some bottle cages and clipless pedals I was off to see what this rig could do. My first ride was down the Lynn Valley Trail to Dover, then across Radical Road to Hay Creek for some light trail riding before riding pavement back to Simcoe.
I did some awesome rides in its first year. A few trips to Brantford and back via the rail trail, a tour of the area surrounding Port Burwell including a closed section of Lakeshore Road.
On year two, the bike became mostly a kiddie hauler. I had the Chariot trailer hooked up almost permenantly and cover alot of miles pulling my son while he slept most of the way.
Year three was alot of the same as year two, pulling a trailer. Although now my son would stay awake and watch the interesting things go by. One of the kid's first words was "bike".
Year four started out with a major overhaul. Complete disassembly and clean / lube job. I finally washed away the years of road grime it had worn like a badge of honour. I spent alot of time again pulling a trailer, now with the added weight of my daughter along for the ride. Lots of funs times had with the three of us, stopping at each park to play wherever we would go. The trailer saw so much use it needed an overhaul too including new tires and some minor repairs.
Year five (2016) and shit got real. I decided to push the bike hard and see when it would push back. I made a few more modifications to the bike and off I went, logging the most miles of any year I had it. I did some mixed surface rides, doing pavement out to Turkey Point then riding the singletrack for a little cyclocross action. I also did the TillsonBurn ride this year, pushing outside of my comfort zone. I rode it in the ice and snow, the rain, the mud, and the burning hot sun.
After this year of hard riding, it needs some attention again. Nothing a little elbow grease and spit shine can't fix. The crap conditions are here and the fatbike will get all the glory for the next couple months, which gives me lots of time to refurb the CCX and do some more tweaking of my setup. Its been an excellent companion and proven to be very tough, never leaving me stranded. Funny how I had never given the thought of a CX bike as a serious do-it-all machine, and after buying it on a whim it became one of my all time favourite bikes. Here's to many more years on this awesome bike.
My setup as of now:
Frame - 2012 Norco CCX3 (bought the bike in 2011)
Fork - Norco cromoly CCX
Headset - Kore
Stem - stock Norco
Handlebar - Salsa Cowbell
Shifters - Shimano Sora 9 speed
Derailleurs - Shimano Sora front, Shimano SLX rear
Cassette - Shimano XT 32-11
Crankset - FSA
Wheels - Alex Black Dragon
Tires - Specialized Trigger 42c
Brakes - Avid BB7 road
Post - FSA
Saddle - Specialized Power
Pedals - Shimano PDM-520
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.
Many years ago I remember venturing into a bike shop and checking out an all new 29" wheeled mountain bike. It was still a niche bike at the time and many people (including bike shop owners) said it was trash and would never take off. Little did we all know at the time, but it would be the start of the "wheel wars" that still rage on today. Once some people decided that 29" was too big and 26" was too small, 650b was thrust into the mountain bike spotlight as 27.5", the "tweener" size. As all this was happening the old 26" wheeled bikes slowly began to disappear. By the 2014 model year most brands had little to no offerings in the 26" size and it was declared dead. Wander into a bike shop today and find me a well spec'd 26" wheeled bike..... I bet you can't.
In recent years, during the time when all the fat and plus offerings were flying off the bike shop racks, Surly quietly introduced a new bike..... the Instigator 2.0. It came with 26" x 2.75" tires, or "26plus". As with most friggin-cool things from Surly it took a while for the idea to catch on (just like the Pugs fatbike, and the Krampus plus bike) and now people have noticed.
Over the last year there have been a handful of 26x2.8" tires come to market and wider 26" rims, all slipping in under the radar with me quietly watching things unfold. There were threads popping up on mountain bike forums with people stuffing these 26+ wheels into 27.5" bikes with enough clearance. It made sense after all, if you were on the short side for a 29er and liked 27.5 but wanted the traction and cushion of a plus bike you could build a 26+ (with about the same wheel diameter as a normal 27.5" bike) or if you just happened to prefer the smaller wheels it made sense too. Here is a nice graphic from Jamis breaking down the sizes.
Manufacturers have taken notice and now for 2017 you can buy a 26+ bike off the showroom floor. Norco has built a new line of Fluid hardtails with 26+ wheel options over three component levels. Haro is building entry level 26+ bikes. Jamis is building 26+ bikes in both steel (with the Dragon series) and aluminum (Komodo series). Just to name a few.
Its an exciting and confusing time to be buying a new bike, and it likely a nightmare for bike shops trying to stock all wheel platforms over a variety of component builds, let alone a decent tire selection. Some might not agree but I like the idea of a 26+ bike, it would be perfect for vertically challenged people (like my 5' tall wife) who want gobs of traction and cushion from a plus bike. I'm a holdout for my 27.5+ bike for trail riding and can see the advantages of 29+ for bikepacking / gravel grinding, but would love to try out a 26+ rig on some "Shred the Gnar" type trails. Horses for courses I guess, and with all the options... the choice is really yours.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.