Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shotgun Solo Night Ride in the SNOW!!

Tonight I rode at The Woodlot solo in the dark in the snow. I had originally planned on riding with few other people, but due to the recent snow storm it was far too difficult for them to make it out to The Woodlot. We only get good snow maybe once a year and according to the forecast the snow was going to be slush within a few day so I figured what the heck...I ride solo. I decided seeing as I was alone I would keep it short and sweet and just ride Shotgun. The snow was close to a foot deep at the trailhead and it was a fluffy snow so pushing up any higher would have been far too much work. Once I was all geared up at the top of the trail I dropped in on the trail and the video of the ride kinda speaks for itself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

This morning I was able to slip out for another ride for about 2 hours. The difference between this week and last week is that it snowed last night and it was continuing to come down pretty hard. When I left my house to drive to The Woodlot at 10am there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground, but the roads were totally clear so it made the journey very easy. Once at the parking area I could see that I was not the only one wanting to play in the white stuff. There were 2 cars parked already and there were tracks leading up the trail into the forest. The snow was very heavy and many branches were bent over the trail weighed down by the white fluffy snow.

About half way up the climb/push in the snow I caught up to 2 other guys that were out to have a ride in the fresh snow, we exchanged pleasantries and I headed onwards to the trails. On the way to Snakes and Ladders there were several trees and large branches across the trail that had broke under the weight of the wet heavy snow and wind. There will very likely a large clean-up needed once the snow melts.

Once at the trail head for Snakes and Ladders I paused to take a few photos of the snow and I could see several large trees that had blown down that will require a saw to be removed. There were at least 6 trees down on Snakes that will need chain sawing out. Fortunately most of these trees are high on the trail in once particular area. I cleared what I could by hand but I neither had the necessary tools nor the time to remove all the fallen trees.

The trail was in excellent condition and I had a hoot riding it in the snow letting the tail waggle on most of the turns.

The picture above is the long flowing log ride that we built a few years ago all covered in snow. After seeing Tim go for a fall the other night, I decided that I would skip this ladder in the snow today as I was riding solo (I was trusting my instincts ;-) ).

At the bottom of Snakes I ran into Cory and Brad who were out for a hike in the snow. We chatted for a bit about some recent building in the area and then I was on my way to Shotgun. It was still snowing pretty hard so the push in the ever deepening snow was a bit of work but once on the downhill part of the road I was grinning from ear to ear.

Shotgun was a blast. Hitting the jump on the upper part of the trail in the snow was a little risky because I was a little slow on the approach, but I landed it smooth. The open clear-cut section of the trail was a total rip in 12" of snow. The great thing about snow is it slows you down and when you do fall it pads the landing. I was purposely letting the rear end of my bike get loose and drifting corners was wicked. I would not be sad at all if this snow stayed around for a few weeks.

At my car I loaded up my bike, got changed and drove home on the still clear roads. Because I kept a good pace on the push up to the top of the trails, I was only gone for 2 hours in total by the time I arrived at home. My wife was pleased and I was happy to be able to get out and ride. The rest of the early afternoon was spent outside playing with my 2 year old building her first snowman and having snowball fights with the neighbourhood kids.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nasty Weather / Good Friends

Tonight's night ride took place at The Woodlot. The riders included Tim, Rob, Dave (the infamous Dave the builder of The Dentist on Eagle) and of course myself. This was the first night ride of the season where is was actually cold. I started the ride with 2 layers of clothing on the body but half way up the hill I put on 3 layers and my fluffy grey toque.

The evening before I had spent a fair amount of time reengineering a Nite Hawk light so that Rob would have a light on his handlebars. In the end he had a 35W on his helmet and 20W on his bars. Tim was running dual Night Hawk lights on his bars and a single BLT on his helmet. Dave was running dual Night Hawk lights on his helmet and I was running a single HID on the bars a over volted 50W and a 12V 50W on the helmet.

Tim and I had never ridden with Dave before so there was allot of intro discussion on the climb up the hill with never a silent moment. About half way up the hill we could see snow on the ground and it even started to snow on us. At the power lines there was about 2 inches of snow with a thin layer of slush underneath. At the top of the power lines the snow was drier and in places light and fluffy. On the hike up below the power lines we all commented on the massive amount to erosion that has taken place recently with the heavy rains in the past week. A section of road about 20 feet long and 2 feet deep was swept away by the rain.

Our route was Krazy Karpenter, Blood Donor, Giant Killer, Snakes and Ladders and finally Shotgun. Once the 4 of us were all suited up and our lights hooked up we turned them all on and started the ride. My lights were running perfectly however because there was so much fog at the top of the hill, visibility was horrible with super bright lights. For a good portion of the ride, I was riding with only one light on the helmet shining. Karpenter had half a dozen or so trees down across the trail so the trail was a little difficult to flow. Part of the way down Tim had some technical difficulties with his lights but with patience he was able to get them running properly again.

After Karpenter it was up to Blood Donor. At the very top of Donor there was a new tranny for a new BIG gap step-down that the builders are constructing. I would guess it will be a 25 foot gap with a 15 foot vertical drop. So far the transition and the framing for most of take off is done. It is beautifully constructed and looks like it will be a hoot to hit. Due to the continuing fog, we basically just stuck to the small stuff on the trail. I hit one gap but that was about it. Donor was is really good shape.

We then hit Giant Killer and ripped that trail with reckless abandon as we could now finally see as we were now below the fog. I was tailing Tim really closely along the long log section where the super slick surface in the dark made the log a little treacherous. I was no more than 4 feet behind him telling him not to slow down or I would have run into the back of him. At the elevated teeter totter I was a little too close to Tim because when I was at the teeter totter the plank was still in the air when I was about to ride across so I had to stop and walk the teeter. We all rode safely and smoothly to the end of the trail and re-grouped on the road.

The climb/traverse over to Snakes and Ladders was nice and relaxed and at the trail head we rested for a minute or two before attacking the trail. Tim went first and I followed but I quickly passed him after he lost his balance on a skinny. The rock drop to ladder was REALLY slippery. I accelerated unlike any other time before down the ramp and flowed the trail to the next couple features. The Snakes Jump as we call it was smooth but after the landing, something felt loose on the rear of my bike so I stopped to have a look. Nothing was wrong or loose but we were all able to regroup before hitting the rest of the trail. The DJ section and trail gap were all clear and no water was collecting anywhere so we were happy with the condition of the trail. I once again overshot the newer jump after the Boa bridge, but that is nothing new.

Tim then went ahead to the long log ride. For some reason I let Tim have a good gap on me and thankfully so. I watching him go down the down ramp at the end of the then his light disappeared and I heard a big smack and then silence. Rob and Dave were already at the end of the ladder because they took the ride around and were with Tim. Once I yelled ahead for the all clear I went down the ladder and straight through the crash zone and came to a safe stop. I parked my bike and went to see how Tim was doing. Apparently he came down the ladder off the log ride and then on the way across the next ladder his front wheel washed out and he went down hard into the creek smashing his elbow on a rock. Unfortunately he was not wearing any arm armour so his elbow was hurting BIG TIME. He was rather shaken up but was still able to continue riding at a reserved pace.

We paused slightly at the bottom of the rock face to check out the drainage of the trail and everything was in excellent shape. From there we continued down the rest of the trail to the traverse over to Shotgun.

Normally Tim and I play cat and mouse down Shogun but he was out of order and Rob didn't quite feel like riding like a mad man in the dark in the rain, so I went a higher pace all alone. We re-grouped mid way down the trail and then we rode together until the end of the trail. At the cars we all loaded our bikes on our cars, changed our clothes and each had a cold beer before departing. An excellent ride in crazy conditions.

**UPDATE** Unfortunately Tim's elbow did not fare very well but after going to the hospital late at night he found out it was not broken however he has a pinched nerve in his elbow making most of his arm numb.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Wheels

Well after last weeks ride my bike was slightly in need of a new rear wheel.

So I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and drop some cash on some nice new wheels. In the end I was really happy with my new wheels. King ISO 32 hole hubs in black: 20mm front, HD rear axle with fun bolts and stainless steel freehub in the rear. The hubs were built on to Mavic EX729 rims using 14 gauge black spoke on brass nipples.

I also picked up some Syncros tires for total bargain and threw my new wheels on the bike for a quick blast at The Woodlot.

There was a high wind warning today while I was riding and you could hear trees crashing in the forest while riding. This was not a nice feeling so I decided that I would not do any building and just ride today. Once at the trail head of Snakes and Ladders I put on the armor and rode basically nonstop down the trail to the bottom of the rock face. There was no need to stop anywhere as the trail was clear of debris and the trail was running really dry. At the bottom of the rock face I just checked out how the recent rock work is draining and then continued on down the trail. At the bottom of Snakes and Ladders I raised my seatpost and pedaled over to Shotgun.

It was a normal rip down Shotgun and out to the car and a quick drive home. From the time I left my house to the time I returned home, cleaned up my bike and showered, the elapsed time was less than 2 hours. So if I don't mess around at all I can squeeze in a ride in less than 2 hours. Maybe it was the new wheels that had me moving so fast.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remembrance Day Ride 2006

Today was the 4th Annual Remembrance Day Ride on Mount Fromme. This ride takes place to honour the brave men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces that have fought to ensure that Canada and other countries around the world remain free. Today myself and three others were free to go pursue our passion of riding our bikes on Mount Fromme.

The day started really early, 5:30am I was at Rob's place picking him up to hit the hills. He had been out the night before consuming a few wobbly pops and as soon as he was in the car it smelled like a distillery. We drove to Fromme making one stop at McDonalds for a little breakfast and to settle a rumbly stomach.

Once we parked near Mt. Highway Rob and I climbed to the yellow gate that guards the entrance to Fromme. Waiting at the gate was Tim and a rider I have never met in person before, Connor. We introduced one another and began the climb to the top. Tim brought along a light for his bike because we were starting our climb in the dark, but no more than 10 minutes later the sun started to rise and we were climbing in full light. It was a nice leisurely climb to the top with Connor showing us a couple hidden gems on the climb up.

The original plan was to hit Per Gynt then back up to 7th Secret, Oil Can and Boundary. Because there was a rather significant amount of snow on the ground at the top of 7th Secret it was decided that we would skip Per Gynt. Once we were all suited up we dropped into 7th in the snow. The could be described with one word, SLIPPERY. We were all giggling as we made our way down the armoured and ladder strewn trail taking turns at the front in order to get fresh tracks in the snow.

After a safe run down 7th Secret we climbed a little ways back up the hill to Oil Can. None of us had ever ridden Oil Can before so this was the maiden voyage by all down the trail. Recently the trail had seen some work on it and I must say it was fun. I would call it a fast flowy loamy trail that is perfect for newer riders or those that want to let go of the brakes and ride fast on some sections of loam. There were sections on Oilcan were you had to make a decision to go left or right and each time our decision way to stay right and traverse the hill. It seems as though we made the right decision because we ended up exactly where we expected. We also found the bottom of a trail filled with ladder gaps (either Jerry Rig or Air Supply).

At the aluminium bridge on the Baden Powell trail we did a short hike a bike up the hill to the top of Boundary. I have wanted to ride Boundary for about 6 months now. I had seen a picture of some of the features on the trail and now I was finally getting to ride it. Not too far into the trail was a narrow ladder step section to a steep roll-down. It took me 2 attempts at the run in due to slippery conditions but I finally made it down the steep ladder.

Photo by: Doug Chinnery

My rear wheel however did not survive the ladder. While coming down the last ladder I applied a little rear brake. I had ZERO traction and my rear wheel slid off to the left of the ramp about 3-4 feet in the air. There happened to be a single rock the size of a small watermelon on the ground next to the bottom of the ladder. My wheel met the rock with allot of force but I rode away about 5 feet and came to a stop. Then Tim politely told me that my wheel was........well you know. Amazingly the rim was still straight, but it was now D shaped with 11 Broken spokes but the tire still kept air (ghetto tubeless).

From there on I had to carry my bike down the hill to the road. I only had to opportunity to watch everyone else ride. I must say Tim was on fire cleaning everything in sight on the trail. Rob and Connor we riding almost everything with grins and confidence. At the bottom of the trail I gave Rob the keys to my car and he went off to retrieve it while I waited on the side of the road with a broken bike.

Overall it was a great ride ridden with respect for the brave people in our armed forces. Hopefully next year I will make it down with my bike and body intact.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

November Rain and Ryan Leech

Today I had a great day of biking. I rode/built solo early in the morning. I was the first one up the hill at The Woodlot, so I had fresh tracks everywhere I went. There was allot of blown down trees all over the hill after the recent storm we had. On Stove Top I was not able to move them all, but I was able to clear everything on Tsuga. My route was Stove Top up to Tsuga and then down Tsuga to Snakes and finally Shotgun. When I made it to Snakes and Ladders, she was in really good shape. Only one real puddle and that will be taken care of in the near future. A branch seemed to fall off a tree onto one of our bridges and broke a piece of rung clean off. So this was the first part of the trail I needed to work on for the day. Once I made my way down to the tool stash near the rock faces I gathered some tools, found some rung and made my way back up the trail to fix the broken ladder. Once I split, nailed and trimmed the wood there was no way you could tell that anything had happened. Well except that the rung was a nice light brown colour freshly cracked and trimmed.

I then made my way back down to the rock face to continue putting more rock on the trail. I rocked in another 4 feet at the base of the rock face so that there is now about 8 feet of large rocks that will never move out of place. Maybe another 4 feet of BIG stuff I and will be totally happy. I then had to do a little shaping of the land because mud was forming in one spot near the little jump. After that I put in about 8 feet of BIG rocks at a corner that Tim framed in when he was last up there. I piled in a dozen or so large rocks and covered them in gold dirt to cement them together. There still needs to be rock done before and after the section that I rocked, but I filled the majority of the low spot and got a good start on rocking in the whole section. Somewhere in here we will need to engineer a drain to ensure that water has somewhere to escape.

Earlier while I was rocking in the bottom of the rock face a huge group of riders came down the trail. It was a group with the MR cycle group ride. I recognized one of the riders as he was riding down the line and it was Ryan Leech. He stopped and talked with me for a bit. He was amazed by the trail and the rocks I was working with and overall he was stoked. Ryan is a total class act and a genuinely nice guy.

So after I finished all my work for the day I geared up and rode down Snakes and made it to Shotgun. Once again I blasted down Shotgun with reckless abandon out to my car.

Later in the day at 2:00pm I took Norah to Maple Ridge Cycle where Ryan Leech was putting on a trials show for the year end MR Cycle biking club wrap up. I managed to get Ryan Leech to sign a poster for Norah.

Good very good day of biking.