If you check in here every so often you have probably realized that I'm missing in action. I was in an accident in the end of April and have been recovering since. I am hopeful to get back out mountain biking soon but have had some hurdles along the way. I have a few articles that I wrote before the accident still waiting in the queue and will publish them soon.
In the meantime I've started a second blog focused on camping and paddling. I will repost all my old camping / canoeing related articles on it over the next few weeks. Go check it out at TheCampingSasquatch
Cyclists are a diverse crowd of people usually from many different walks of life but brought together by the perfect creation known as the bicycle. While out on the trail or road you will run into many unique characters who can usually fit into a specific cycling sub-culture. At the risk of stereotyping and being boarder line racist, I bring you "The Eight Mountain Bikers You Will Meet". Remember, its just for fun.
Usually when you come across this cyclist its a middle aged white male sporting a full on lycra race team kit who dosen't have the time or courtesy to say hello as he passes you. It seems he always has a serious or nearly pissed off look on his face as his rides are always spent "training" and most likely rides a carbon 29er with 2.1" tires. His GPS and power meter are beeping as he passes by, and when he gets home he has to enter all his ride details into a complex spreadsheet. He spends alot of time searching for the lightest carbon bits for his bike and categorizes meals as good or bad carbs. The Racer's main concern is getting on the podium at the local weeknight race series, and talking shit with all the other racer types on the regional cycling forum.
The Retro Grouch
You've seen this rider. He blasts by you riding a mid 90's hardtail, bouncing down the trail on the edge of control with equipment like cantilever brakes, 8 speed drivetrain, vintage Panaracer tires, and a Rock Shox Judy fork to boot. His equipment is well worn but dialled in and he scoffs at the idea of buying a new bike from this century. He will argue that his clapped out bike with 120mm stem and 400mm bars is the pinnacle of bike technology and all subsequent bike related inventions are redundant. He rarely visits a bike shop as he buys all his replacement parts used from eBay. When he does visit a bike shop you can usually see him bitching about why cables cost so much and why can't he buy a new Panaracer Smoke tire?
The Bro Rider
Easily summed up as the douchebag of cycling, this early 20's adrenaline seeker is kitted out with a long travel suspension bike bought with his parent's money and a full kit of Troy-Lee Designs gear. He's always looking to "shred the gnar" and ride the "sickest" lines. He is always the guy who laughs at other riders when they go down and offers no assistance. He never brings any spares and can be seen walking his bike out of the woods every once in a while because of it. If you don't give him your spare tube when he flats you are usually "harshing the buzz" of the ride in his eyes. Sometimes the Bro Rider can be of benefit to everyone else because they usually give up on mountain biking after two seasons and move onto something like cliff diving or parkour while selling their top shelf enduro bike for peanuts to free up space for their new juicer.
The Wheel Size Guy
This rider loves their 29er/650b/fat/plus/whatever bike and won't shut the hell up about it. They usually are of the opinion that their chosen wheel size is best and you are inferior for riding anything else than what they deem proper. They can usually be seen handing out unsolicited advice about how you could benefit from riding a 29er/650b/etc like they do and that they are the best thing since sliced bread. These guys are usually good for some entertainment value, its great to tell them that you don't think you would need an XXer to ride a particular trail feature and watch their head explode.
The Naturally Skilled Rider
This rider usually has no idea about anything to do with cycling but can ride like a son of a bitch. Nearly always on a department store bike or an entry level Specialized he got from a garage sale, he will ride past you like you are standing still. You can usually hear them coming because their derailleur is so far out of adjustment that the squeaky dry chain is clanging and trying to shift gears while he rides along. This rider could benefit from a solid bike and some knowledge in the area of chainging gears and fixing flat tires but will argue that they are perfectly happy with what they have. Riding with this guy will frustrate the hell out of you as he will pass you on your carbon 29er at the base of the climb and leave you in the dust while mashing the pedals on his 60 pound department store special.
The Trail Guru
This guy always seems to be out in a particular trail when you are. He can always be seen helping other riders who are lost or need some recommendations on what trails to ride. He knows the name of every trail in the system and always seems to know what the conditions are like at any given time. He also knows about each and every downed tree or debris blocking a trail and will give you a heads up. He will offer his spare tube or chain link to help a stuck rider and accept nothing in return. He is always smiling and makes time to stop and chat with anyone that feels the urge. He is usually an older gent with a beard who you would swear must live out in these woods somewhere. He is a wealth of knowledge and usually well respected by the local riders.
Top of the Line Guy
This rider is easily spotted by their shiny new bikes with all the flashy bits you could ever imagine bolted to it. This is a money-is-no-object type of person who has no issue in slamming down $7000 every year on a new bike with full XTR and carbon everything. Their bike and gear is always so new that you wonder if they even ride much. Every trailside water break with them turns into a discussion about why their gold plated chain works so much better than your good old half worn out nickel plated chain at twenty times the cost. Their garage is usually full of top of the line "spares" as they spend all their free time and money shopping online for the latest and greatest in bike parts. No matter what cool new piece of gear you get, they have something better and aren't afriad to tell you about it. This rider is not humble by any means and is the one-upper of the bike world.
This is an odd one. The Stravasshole is usually a sub-category of The Racer, taking his need for data collection and training even further while giving up on the racing part. They chase things called KOM's in a virtual online time trail against other Stravassholes, all while giving kudos to eachother in an online circle jerk. They spend alot of time checking their performance on the Strava website and looking at flyby and heatmap info, looking for the perfect segment to score their next KOM. They usually cry like little bitches when they lose their hard earned KOM to someone faster. The Stravasshole is a serious beast, always having their game face on and ready to cuss you out if you get in their way, costing them valuable seconds in their KOM attempts. This rider can usually be seen only riding on days when conditions are best (to increase their odds of going faster) and usually cutting corners and technical features to gain precious milliseconds. During the winter months, the Stravasshole goes into hibernation and transforms beautifully, just like a butterfly, into a Zwiftard until the next spring. If I ever hear someone come up behind me yelling "Strava" they are going to get my four inch wide tire shoved right up their ass.
I've always loved canoeing. I have lots of great memories with Dad when I was a kid taking the old Coleman canoe out in the Teeterville Pond, Big Creek, and my favourite, Deer Creek. Save for a few shenanigans in my early 20's, I've had a bit of a falling out with paddling and was long overdue to get back into it. For the last two years I had been dreaming of owning a canoe of my own, to take my kids out in and make our own memories in. That dream became a burning desire this winter and I couldn't ignore it any longer. After months of patiently waiting and watching all the usual buy & sell websites, I finally found a suitable boat for a good deal, a 16' Nova Craft Prospector.
As soon as the chance arrived, I loaded up and headed to Deer Creek. The conservation area is closed, so admission was free. I just had to portage the canoe and my gear the 250 meters from the front gate to the dock, no problem. I hopped in the boat and set off into the cool morning. The water was cold but not as bad as one would think for first week of April. This is the earliest I've ever been to Deer Creek and it made for an unusual sight with no green leaves in the trees. Still very beautiful and a hidden gem of Norfolk County.
I paddled my way around the reservoir, exploring the little alcoves that the feeder streams have cut into the landscape, eventually reaching my lunch stop at the old rope swing. I took my time, enjoyed my sandwich, and basked in the early spring sunlight, soaking up its warmth. A little exploring of the area revealed signs of the old campground that had been at the far end of the reservoir years ago. The remnants of an old dock and the faint overgrown lines of paths and forest roads dotted the area.
I headed back towards the conservation area dock and continued to explore everything along the way. The early season and lack of overgrowth made for a new experience and I got to see things I normally never would have.
With my first outing of 2017 behind me, I'm really looking forward to doing lots of paddling this year. I'm even getting my fishing license for the first time this year (I have not fished since I was a kid) so I can spend some time canoeing and fishing with the kids this year. I've also registered for a paddle making workshop where I will carve my very own custom paddle, and hopefully gain enough knowledge to build my wife and kids their very own custom paddles. You can expect to see more posts on my blog about canoeing / camping / fishing as I move from a cycling-only blog to a more outdoors style blog, rest assured though that you will still get all the Bric cycling shenanigans you can shake a stick at.
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.
A Photo Eulogy to my tried and true Nashbar Big 'Ol Fatbike. Her cracked frame is terminal. Rest easy my dear friend.
Nashbar Big 'Ol Fatbike, Feb 2014 - March 2017
"May she dream of sweet ribbons of singletrack during her eternal rust"
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 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.
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.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.