Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Murphy's Law - Giant Killer Pt.4

Today was suppose to be the last day for working this ladder section on Giant Killer. It won't be.

We had a plan: finish the framing, find more rung, nail rung and do the dirt work. All was going well until I went looking for some more rung. I found a fallen cedar that was perfect for some rung. I start to cut then 3/4 of the way through the cut the tree shifts and my saw is pinched. Stuck. Not moving a bit. F@#K!. I hike up the hill to get Ryan to help me get it unstuck. With us we take a hatchet, axe and folding saw. We managed to cut my saw loose with the axe, but I managed to hit my chainsaw with the axe and I snapped the chain brake. So now the saw is stuck with its brake on and there isn't a thing I can do with it until I get it serviced. I was glad that I managed to finish the final bit of framing before my little axe meets chainsaw incident.

After we went back to the ladder, Ryan and I began nailing in the rung and as it turns out we really didn't need any more rung. We had just enough rung to lay all the decking of the riding surface and a few okay ones to spare.

To finish this thing up, we need a few more nails to hold the rung in place (4 per rung), rock in the lead up to the bridge, rock in the exit, modify the exit turn on the trail (remove a few trees) and last but not least trim the edges of the rung on the ladder. I soooooo wish I hadn't broke my saw because the rung looks a little ghetto without being trimmed. I think I may be grabbing my other saw to do the trimming if I can't get my trusty Stihl fixed quick.

Al things said, I am really pleased with the amount of work Ryan and I completed today especially considering we had a somewhat surprise snowfall in the morning. The ladder is 100% rideable and built to last.

A little summary of what Ryan and I finished today.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Framing Complete - Giant Killer Pt.3

This morning I once again met with Ryan at about 9:30am and we headed up for a few hours of building before the two of us had to attend to prior commitments. He worked on cracking more rung and I worked on finishing the framing of the ladder section.

I'd put the framing at 98% complete. All I need to to tweak a few runners and nail in a few more pieces. Once we have more rung we can do the final assembly. This ladder section has turned out to be a little more work that I had expected.

The ride out today was a little less hair raising than yesterday. My little bike is turning out to be a good bike for hauling the chainsaw.........or maybe I am just getting used to riding with a chainsaw in my backpack.

A video and pictures of the framed ladder section.

It was interesting balancing and filming the beams at the same time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Demo and Framing - Giant Killer Pt.2

This morning I met Ryan at the parking area of the Woodlot and we headed up to Giant Killer to continue work on the ladder section that we started gathering materials for the other day.

Last night when I packed my building back pack I went to pick it up and could not believe how heavy the thing was. I hung it on my scale and it was 44lbs (chainsaw, 15lbs of nails, hammer, axe, and other tools). I bitched a little when I met up with Ryan this morning and he kindly offered to carry the 15lbs of nails. So with our loaded packs we made our way to the building area and immediately got to work.

I bucked up a log for rung and then left Ryan to learn/practice how to split rung and I headed over to the ladders to dismantle them and then started framing for the new ladders. Things never seem to go as quickly as you want and there was one particular stump that I spent an hour or two on getting things right.

After a few hours a couple of younger riders showed up that I had invited to help out. Garrett and Nick packed the rung, hauled away the old ladders and did the necessary cleanup for the area. Without their help there is no way we would have got as much accomplished as we did. People often think that the 'grunt work' is a waste of time but if fact it is VITAL to getting trailwork complete. While talking with them, Garrett mentioned that he needed volunteer hours for school and I wisely told him that the trail work he was helping with today is considered volunteer hours. The look on his face was the classic 'get the F-outa here!'. Needless to say he'll be back.

Overall I'd say the section is 75% framed and we have 1/3 of the rung we will need. I'll likely be back tomorrow in the morning with Ryan to continue getting rung and framing in the ladders. It will be nice to ride this section again on some solid woodwork.

The ride out down Giant Killer, Bloggy and Shotgun was fun on the little bike (Trance). Riding with a pack can be a handful at times though. I had a moment or two where I though I was going to get up close and personal with a big old spruce tree.

Here is a short video walk-through and some before photos of the section we are working on.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Time to Build - Giant Killer Pt.1

It's been a while since I've been able to commit any time to building, but I have a few weeks to relax.........and get to work on the trails. Giant Killer is a classic trail at the Woodlot that has been around since the 90's. In fact it is one of the first trails I ever rode at the Woodlot. However in parts, the trail has seen better days.

Recently Ryan has started to do a little dirt work on the trail and is putting in some time fixing up the trail. However he has never done trail work before and woodwork on trails is something totally new to him that he needs to be shown. I have been meaning to fix a particular ladder section on Giant Killer for quite some time now so with Ryan's help, we can get the section completely rebuilt and he can learn a few things about working with the cedar. I can remember when I was shown how to split rung and construct a sturdy ladder bridge by Tim and now it is my turn to pay the knowledge forward.

So the day started early at 8:30am at the parking area and we headed up to Giant Killer with me on all things...........a Giant Trance. I had my chainsaw in my pack and a few tools for splitting rung. The goal today was to get the cedar poles necessary for the stringers and also to begin getting rung for the ladders.

We managed to get all the poles we needed from fallen trees in the area and we also managed to get a few rung, but we weren't able to find the big haul of cedar we will need for all the rung.

Once our time was up, we rode down the trails to our cars: Giant Killer, Bloggy Style and Shotgun. One thing is for sure, when you have a chainsaw in your pack, riding smoothly is a difficult thing to do at times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Woodlot Rip with Cory

This morning I met Cory at The Woodlot. He is currently reviewing a Spitfire for Pinkbike and he wanted to ask me a few questions about Banshee and get my take on a few things about the frame. Seeing as he's been an owner of a Trance for the past few years, I was also able to ask him a few questions about my newly acquired frame. The Spitfire he has is one sweet ride that has the full SRAM X0 groupo as well as a set of Tioga tires, both of which he is also reviewing. Given the amount of riding Cory does and the number of bikes and gear he has ridden over the years, he has insight into what makes a great bike or piece of gear.

Banshee Spitfire: Photo by Cory Hemminger

Our ride consisted of a pedal up Shotgun, Stovetop and the skidder road and then an descent down Krazy Karpenter, Upper and Lower Toadstool, Bloggy Style and then Shotgun.

Lets just say I am out of shape right now and Cory is in much better shape than me. He was doing a fair bit of waiting on the climb and at times I felt like puking trying to keep up with him on the way up.

At the top there was about 3-4 inches of fresh wet snow. At the trail head of Karpenter we dropped our saddles and rode down the trails making good time ripping along. We stopped on one trail where Cory showed me a little trail work that he is doing which will be oh so sweet when it is completed.

My new little bike was a blast to ride but one thing I noticed was that I was only getting about 3" of travel on my 5" fork and I was blowing through the travel in the rear a little too easy. A few tweaks to my suspension will make this bike even better.

Cory and I had a pretty good ride. I certainly noticed that I am lacking in the cardio department but the DH was a lot of fun. Hopefully I am able to get out with him one more time in the next week or so before my life once again get too busy for weekday rides.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Burke on a new bike

I usually break out the hardtail in the winter. I use winter as a time to get back to the basics and ride technical terrain on the hardtail to keep things honest. But to be completely honest, I hate riding my hardtail (Cove Stiffee) and put quite simply, it beats me up.

The other day I went to the Giant factory sale and picked up a sweet replacement for my hardtail: a Trance. The price was impossible to pass up on a brand new frame that comes with a lifetime warranty frame. Once home, within a few hours I had all the parts from my Stiffee swapped over and I had myself a new ride.

Given that I will be using the Trance as a winter AM bike, I figured what better place to break it in than Burke. I parked at Shaughnessy and David in PoCo and pedaled up in the pouring rain. One thing is for certain, this bike pedals substantially better than any bike I've owned and pedal feedback or bob is non existent.

The pedal up Burke is a good test of a bikes climbing ability and today's pedal up was by far the easiest pedal up I've done to date. The Trance climbs without a single hiccup and has ample traction when it is least expected.

I chose a true old school trail to test out my new steed. Sawblade. Judging by the lack of tracks in the snow leading to the trail head I'd say I was the first person to ride here in at least a month. My uphill impressions of the bike were really positive, the downhill impressions we just about as good. The bike took the edge off the bumps and gnarl and is quick and snappy in and out of the corners. It certainly gets a little rough when the speeds increase, but it is a very predictable bike.

After Sawblade I made my way to the Coquitlam River Connector Trail. It seems as though someone has been doing some work on this trail since I was last up here in the summer. The trail is now all clear of blowdowns and is freaking amazing to ride at speed. This trail is a hidden gem here in the lower mainland that I'd rate as a 9.5/10 for AM riding. I don't think I could have picked a better series of trails to test out this bike.

Once at my car I was soaked to the bone and completely bagged. The Trance proved to be an ├╝ber capable bike that has truly impressed me. I can't wait to get out on this bike some more this winter.