Sunday, December 30, 2007

Snow Ride

So today was the second ride on my new 2008 Banshee Rune. When I arrived at The Woodlot there were 2 other vehicles with the riders just getting ready to go for a spin the the snow. I recognized one of the guys as a regular at The Woodlot and we all decided to ride together in the snow. In the parking area there was about 6 inches of snow and once we hit the trail up, we realized that the whole ride up was going to be a push.

When we hit Quick Hit there were a few trees down across the road from heavy wet snow, so I got out my folding saw and we removed them. I think a few of the guys were resenting riding with me a bit because I stopped at every blown down tree that was on the trail to clear it.

It was soon clear that we were not going to get very high on the mountain today. The snow was just too deep and really heavy. Once we reached the turn off for Snakes and Ladders we decided that this was as high as we would go. Any higher just wouldn't be worth the effort. We paused briefly for a group shot and then I lead the surge down the trail.......well it wasn't quite a surge.

Group shot

There was allot of pushing involved because the snow was so deep, but closer to the bottom we were actually able to ride on the trail. On the road out at the bottom of Snakes there were a few fallen trees down which we were able to remove with a bit of muscle.

I then rode to Shotgun but the others rode Bloggy Style. The top section of Shotgun appeared to have been swept of most of the snow on the trail. I have no idea who did it but thank you to who ever went through the effort to make the trail more rideable.

I rode at a good pace in the snow down to my truck and packed up the bike to head home. There was one other person getting ready to go for a ride and I informed him of the rather lack luster conditions. All in all not the best ride as the last spin on my bike for 2007 but am sure looking forward to a new year on the trails.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Installation Lap: 2008 Banshee Rune

So I had been looking to get a new frame for the last couple months to replace my aging Heckler. Something new to get me up and down the hills. There were a few different bikes I had been looking at lately and when I was told I was going to be waiting quite a while for a particular frame (Norco Fluid LT) I decided it was time to look elsewhere. I happened to be on a popular website BB forum and noticed that Banshee had redone their website and as it turns out, the bike on the intro page of their site was just the bike I was looking for.

The 2008 Banshee RUNE. It offers the stand-over I am looking for, the travel I am looking for and the weight I am looking for. So I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new frame without ever seeing the frame in person. I was very pleased when the frame arrived at my local shop (Maple Ridge Cycle) within 1 day from Banshee and I was really impressed by the fit and finish of the frame. It included an extra mech hanger, seat-post and a seat-post collar (plus a few extra pieces of swag.....t-shirt and stickers). As it turns out, I have the very first Rune purchased in North America.

The next day I stripped my trusty Heckler of all its parts and built up the Rune. When lifting the bike I could tell was noticeably lighter than the Heckler using the exact same build.

This then brings me to my ride today. I was at The Woodlot bright and early and I was the first one to ascend into the rain forest. My route up was the skidder to Stovetop to the powerlines and up to Krazy Karpenter.

I normally have a bit of a hard time climbing very first part of the hill because it is so steep and in the past the front of my Heckler tended to lift. On the Rune there was a noticeable difference. I was not fighting at all to keep the front end of the bike down which made the climb much easier. So from the get go I was impressed. The Heckler kind of bobs when you climb and you know when the suspension is moving up and down. With the Rune, the suspension is invisible. You don't really feel it moving at all. The trail is simply smoothed out without the suspension letting you know it is doing it's job.

On the Rune I chose to go with the Manitou ISX-6 Evolver rear shock. It is my first air shock and it likely will not be my last as I am really quite impressed with this shock. As my initial set-up, I went with 150psi in the main chamber, 75psi in the bottom out and set the high and low speed compression settings a little shy of wide open. The bike felt really good, but I know I can tune it to be better.

As I stated, the climb was much easier on this bike than my normal climb. Unfortunately half way up the hill I ran into snow on the trail that I really was not expecting. I say unfortunately because it began to get so deep that I had to dismount and push my bike as I neared the top. I paused to snap a few photos of my new steed and then began the descent on my new bike.

Krazy Karpenter was the trail where the true test for the bike was to happen. I was not disappointed at all. Plush is the word, super plush. In the past when I grabbed the brake on a descent I would feel the suspension stiffen and squat but on the Rune it simply floated over the gnarl of the trail. The bike was really snappy in tight corners between trees and over rocks. The head angle was just right for riding steep sections of trail without getting even a hint of a flip flop front end. The angles and mechanics of this frame are spectacular.

After Karpenter I rode Upper and Lower Toadstool and found that it railed the turns with ease. The Heckler sometimes felt like it would wash out on some corners where the Rune stayed hooked up and on line. The lower section of Lower Toadstool has tight smooth switchbacks that can cause problems with poor steering bikes. I had not an issue.

At the bottom of Lower Toadstool I raised the seat of the Rune and pedaled over to Snakes and Ladders. The climb, effortless, the descent, dreamy. Once again I stopped for a photo at the trail head and ripped the trail top to bottom taking my usual lines. This bike makes riding fast far easier and way more fun. On choppy sections the trail is smoothed over by the fluid suspension and because of that, you then ride faster and look farther and farther down the trail to pick the fastest line popping off any little rock or hit you can find.

On the last section of Snakes on the the new line there are 2 corners that when railed in succession give me a feeling of exhilarating because you get shot from one to the other. On the Rune this feeling of getting propelled out of the corners is amplified when compared to the other bikes I have ridden. It rails really well, especially in the tight spots.

I then headed to Shotgun where I ran into Ewan who was doing some maintenance on the trails. I said hello and I was on my way. Shotgun was a total hoot. Not a single complaint from the bike and not a single complaint from me about the bike. My initial impression of the bike is that I am blown away by how good it feels. It is light, snappy fast and smooth. I am really impressed with the performance of the bike right out of the box.

I am sure I will remain impressed with it in the future and I am sure I will get a lot of use out of my new bike.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dark, wet, cold and a beer

So Tim and I hit The Woodlot tonight for a ride. There had been a little wet snow in the area, but I didn't really expect the slush that we encountered on the trails. In the parking area I was really glad that I had brought a good jacket as there was several inches of wet slushy snow on the ground.

Even in the rain the climb wasn't bad and on our way up we chatted about life in general. Riding has an effect on people, especially during the climb, you just seem to talk about things that are on your mind and actually mean much better than idle BS chit chat.

Because the snow was getting deeper than our shoes and it was getting a little colder than we both...........well I had prepared for, we stopped our climb at Tsuga and started down.

The bikes poised for the ride in the snow.

Tsuga was wicked in the fresh wet snow. The trail was neither too slippery or too wet, just right for making the roots invisible and keeping us on our toes. Tim started the descent and then half way down I took the lead at one of the rock faces. Tsuga is a nice natural run with a mixed bag of terrain to ride on.

Of course after Tusga we hit Snakes and Ladders. There was a lot less snow on Snakes, but by no means was it a cake walk. The darkness, the snow, rain and slush made the ride one where we were having to keep our wits about us. The end of the trail was especially fun chasing each other through the blackened forest.

We then headed to Shotgun, where to our surprise, someone had cleared the 3 fallen trees off the trail near the clearcut. It was clear sailing the whole way down.

At the parking lot we loaded the bikes and I broke out a couple beers for us to quench our thirst after a sweet, sweet ride in the wet snow.

mmmmm, beer and a smile

Using my built in bottle opener

Sunday, December 09, 2007

First Tracks in Fresh Flakes

This morning I woke up early to get in a good ride and build on Snakes and Ladders. I planned on going to the top, riding down and filming my ride on all the trails.

When I looked out the window as I was getting up, I saw snow.......:-) I had a happy face on when I saw the white stuff falling. I love snow rides and it had only just been snowing about an hour or so as there was not much on the ground. This meant it would be an easy pedal up.

When I arrived there was one other vehicle in the parking area but the riders had not exited their truck yet. I hopped out and geared up and then 2 more vehicles showed up. A total of 12 riders at about 8:30am on a Sunday all itching to rip it up in the snow. This is what it is all about. I ran into Trevor that I met at the Giant Killer trail day and said hello.

Because I was on a bit of a schedule, I decided to ride solo and made my way up alone in the snow. The climb was nice, although I did not have my climbing legs today at all. I felt kinda sluggish, even with the new riding shorts my mom had bought me for my birthday recently.

I paused to take a shot of the hill and my bike on the climb. It's almost eerie how tranquil it is in the forest when it is snowing.

I rested while taking this shot of the climb.

So the rest of the climb up was pretty standard except at the power-lines where the ground was a sheet of ice covered in a dusting of snow. I found this out the hard way.

Once across the powerlines and back in the trees on my way to the Goldmine trail, I felt so isolated from the rest of the world. I could not hear ANYTHING other than snow falling and the sound of my tires rolling in the snow. Not a single sound from any other soul was penetrating the insulated snow covered forest.

At the trail head for Goldmine I geared up, started my camera rolling and put on my helmet. The following video is footage of Goldmine. It was a pretty fun ride in the snow and ice.......except for the spill I took on the first bridge that is basically a Popsicle. I edited out the mishap.

Goldmine Trail

After Goldmine I made my way to Snakes and Ladders. I had planned on building today, but he ground was too hard/frozen to do any real work, so it was purely a ride. I did however stop to clear one fallen tree near the top of the trail.

Snakes and Ladders in the snow.

Then I made my way over to Bloggy Style to have a rip before hitting Shotgun. I like this trail. This was only my second time riding it so I was a little lost on it at times due to the snow, but it was fun.

Jamie's new creation, Bloggy Style put to some classic Snoop Dog.

Then after Bloggy Style it was down Shotgun which ripped soooo well in the snow and out to the truck. At the bottom I snapped a shot of my filthy, icy but ever so trusty ride. After getting changed I was homeward bound, but not before picking up a Double Double for me and the wife.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Evening Lights

It's been a few weeks since I was on my bike. Getting out to build a week and a half ago on Giant Killer was a nice change, but I always like to get out for a spin on my bike.

Given the fact that the sun sets so early in the day this late in the fall it only makes sense to go riding at night.

Tim and I met up at The Woodlot at 7:30pm. In the last week it had snowed then rained torrentially and for the last 2 days not a drop of rain had fallen so we knew the trails would be moist but not sopping wet. Due to the moisture in the air it felt cold, really cold, the kind of cold you feel all the way to the bone.

I was not feeling all that great on the climb as I've had a bit of a cold for the last week or so. In other words I didn't pedal up as far as I usually do but I trudged on clearing my lungs when ever needed.

At the power lines there was a fair amount of water running down the road, but no snow at all at the top. We geared up under the tower and started our descent on Krazy Karpenter.

Things were damp and slick but all was good. A little TLC is still needed on the trail but she runs well none the less. On the first classic big log ride I kind of had to JUMP off a little early. As I approached the plank up on to the log, I was slightly diagonal and this then translated into a line taking me off into oblivion on the super slick log.

Further down the trail we paused to take a photo or two of a classic feature on Karpenter. Around and through the log we both went taking turns being the photographer.

Me riding around and through the stump.

Tim riding around and through the stump.

At Blood Donor Tim and I rode smooth and safe hitting all the fun nuggets on the way down. At the bottom we made an attempt a certain type of night shot, but it did not really work out the way we wanted. But I was able to take this neat eerie picture.

The eerie shot

At Giant Killer we paused in spots to examine some of the work performed on the trail day and rode smoothly down the line. At the bottom we made our way to Snakes and Ladders and on the way I showed him here BloggyStyle starts.

At Snakes and Ladders I set up my helmet camera on my uber custom mount and we ripped down Snakes like nobody's business. There was one or two trees down on the trail but overall the trail war running perfectly. We rode the new line of course and had a wicked rip. I tailed Tim super close on the new line which made for a hairy ride for me as I could just barely see where I was going being so close.

The helmet cam footage of Snakes at Night

We then headed over to Shotgun and rode that trail chasing each other as well. A few trees have been down for a while in the middle section of the trail, but will likely be removed in the next little while. Shotgun was wicked fun and out to the cars it was.

We had a great ride taking the time to shoot a few photos. Wicked fun in the darkness of The Woodlot.