canada general snow

Boxing Day ski

Boxing Day dawned a bit grey and dreary, but at least it wasn’t terribly cold or windy, so we headed to Mount Shark for a ski. It was surprisingly quiet as we set off, with very few other cars or people to be seen.

Somehow I ended up being talked into skiing out to the Spray River bridge, despite being on my skate skis, which were totally unsuited to the trail. I think this largely ended up happening as I had no idea what I was agreeing to.

But it worked out to be a nice little 16km jaunt. As I wasn’t towing the Chariot, I was still feeling fresh though. So I convinced myself it would be a good idea to get Alex to drop me off at the Nordic Centre on the way back to Canmore so I could ski another 34km, thus bringing my total for the day up to 50km.

The only pitfall to this idea was that I decided to ski a whole lot of the harder trails I’d never skied before, so it took quite a while, and without a headlamp I had some fun making my way home in the dark. Nevertheless, the mission was a success! The crazy plan for January is to ski all of the Nordic Centre trails in a day. What could possibly go wrong?

bikes canada general moosling snow trip reports

Skogan Pass

After a little Moosling skiing near the Ribbon Creek carpark, we took off towards Skogan Pass on Saturday morning. Lincoln and I on classic skis, and Alex riding the fatter of his fat bikes (the Moonlander) towing the Moosling in the Chariot with ski runners mounted. Moosling skis stashed in the back of the Chariot. Moosling stashed in the Chariot.

Bee lining up to Nakiska can be tricky. Particularly when you’re towing an extra 30-35kg. Once we reached Nakiska, and then the groomed trails beyond, things got a little more civilized.

The Moosling did some skiing on the way up. And walking. And hurling himself into the snow at the side of the trail and proclaiming “Help! I stuck!”

Conditions were great though, especially for November. Not perfect, but if a few rocks were the worst the day had to throw at us, we thought we did pretty well.

Once we reached the groomed trails, there were only a couple of short uphill sections where Alex had to hop off and push for a bit. There were definitely other climbs that required rest breaks though – it’s good training I tell him.

I had some fun messy around with waxes. Usually I skate ski. The few times I’ve headed out on classics, it was invariably patterned bases. In Australia the conditions are so frequently spring-like that only the genuinely mad get into waxes. Because it invariably involves klister. So I have almost no experience, and the witchcraft behind it all drives me batty, reminding me why I love the simplicity of a well-behaved, predictable skate ski. But I shall learn!

The Moosling has even started taking on downhills. No mean feat when you consider he’s wearing Nordic ski boots strapped into his old toddler skis (his first proper set of Nordic skis should be here for Christmas).

It doesn’t usually end well, but at least he’s trying.

Then sometimes a boy needs a break from all this learning, and he’s back to what he knows best.

Then finally, the pass! And time for lunch.

Toddlers: ruining family photos since 1876.

Then it was time to learn the Charleston, layer up, and commence the descent. Unlike Moraine Lake Road, Skogan Pass has a wonderfully long and fast descent to pay you back for all that climbing.

Distance: 21.5km
Elevation gain: 766m

canada general moosling snow

Moraine Lake Road

A Friday expedition out to Moraine Lake Road. When you’re used to not having to drive at all to go skiing, it seems like an incredible injustice when you choose to drive for as long as an hour to get to a different skiing location. It’s nice to get out of the valley occasionally, but the hour of driving is difficult to overcome.

We went out to Moraine Lake Road, which had enough snow on for grooming, but not so much that we weren’t hitting our poles on the road underneath from time to time. Although we were up quite late on Friday afternoon, there were still quite a few other people around – I’m glad we didn’t wait until the weekend, from the sounds of it there were hundreds of people about.

The Moosling is much heavier than he used to be. Skiing with him is hard work these days.

Thankfully he’s showing some enthusiasm for skiing on his own. Although at his speed, we would probably take a couple of days to reach the end of the groomed section of road (it’s about 9km one way).

bikes gear general

The Rohloff Monkey

Well, it’s been a long time in the planning, but I finally have a new bike for touring! This time with off-road touring in mind, as well as winter biking, and all year commuting (as it will be replacing my beloved Surly Long Haul Trucker). Behold, the Surly Karate Monkey! (Please forgive the dodgy phone pictures for now, I hope to get out with a proper camera on a sunny day some time soon. When the sun returns. One day. Right now it’s just snowing and snowing and snowing.)

The Rohloff Hub

The stock build of the Karate Monkey is a single speed. After a lot of umm-ing and ahh-ing, I deciding that trying to pick one gear to ride in the valley would just be too annoying – especially as I would need to be towing heavy toddlers around with it. So it would need gears. Then there was a lot more umm-ing and ahh-ing, and I finally decided to use an internally geared hub rather than the standard derailleur setup.

After reading a lot of prolonged internet arguments, and getting a few in-person opinions about the Rohloff hub (they’re awful! they’re fantastic!), I thought one might suit me, and I may as well give it a go myself. After hunting around on the internet, I sent off an email to Cycle Monkey in California. They are fantastically helpful, and it was an easy decision to have them build up a wheel for me. This took no time at all, and so last weekend with wheel in hand a morning was spent assembling the bike, and ta-dah, the Rohloff Monkey was let loose on the world!

The Karate Monkey – Rohloff Hub build isn’t one I’ve seen very often, definitely less frequently than some of the other Surly bikes. I can’t really give a thorough review until I’ve got a few more thousand kilometres under the saddle, but so far it seems to be awesome. There were no difficulties in getting everything assembled, although there are a few make-do solutions that I might change in the near future. I haven’t been bothered by the low range noise that people mention, although it was nice to be aware of it beforehand(that’s the noise you get in gears 1 – 7, which apparently quietens down after the hub has worn in a little). And it does feel a little like it’s marginally less efficient when climbing, but not so much so that I think it will make a difference to me for my uses.

The hub installed is the:
Speedhub 500/14 TS (threaded spindle, so not quick release) DB (disc brake, for the Karate Monkey’s mechanical disc brakes) OEM black anodized, 32h. The rest of the set up used
Axle plate TS OEM2 long
Monkey bone instead of Speed bone
Magura Rotor 160mm 4-bolt

Currently the cables are held in place with a slightly dodgy cable tie setup. I’ll do something to make this look a little nicer some time soon.

There’s no chain guide used, and no tensioner required. Everything was built up on a No Tubes Flow Rim, as I’m planning to go tubeless in the summer. I do have chain tensioners on at the moment, just because when we were assembling everything, I didn’t want to shorten the chain until I had checked out how the gear range suited me. The smallest chainring that Rohloff says is legal to run with the stock 16T hub sprocket is 34T, but the stock Karate Monkey cog is 33T – Neil from Cycle Monkey said this was close enough that I was unlikely to have any issues. I am fairly light and small compared to a lot of Rohloff riders, that’s for sure. So far the range of gears seems to suit me perfectly though. I’m a bit of a spinner rather than a cranker, and I spend a lot of time riding up long climbs, or towing a toddler around, so having a good low range is perfect. So I might be shortening the chain soon, and removing the tensioners.

My beloved Ergon grips come in Rohloff style! And there is no thumb shift option (that I’m aware of) – the default gear shifting mode with the Rohloff is this little twist shifter.

Rohloff and Chariot towing

The good news is that it’s easy to insert and setup the Chariot hauling spindle to tow the Chariot. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be possible, but it’s turned out to be fine. I’m not sure if it will sit quite so neatly once I remove the chain tensioners – so that might require some playing around with to optimise. Hopefully I won’t be towing the Chariot for too much longer anyway though..

Next up…

Now it’s just waiting for some awesome Porcelain Rocket bags, so when we go out bike-packing together I’ll actually be able to carry some gear. And maybe I’ll get a front fork at some point, as I’m not so much of a masochist as to want to ride the single track around here on a fully rigid bike. Maybe eventually I’ll get a new wheel on the front, with another No Flow rim – maybe a dynamo hub? That might just be crazy talk though. And of course, lots of riding.

bikes canada general moosling snow trip reports

Goat Creek (Spoiler: There were no goats in the creek)

There was movement at the bike shop, for the decision had been made
That we would bike the Goat Creek trail today,
And all the way to old Banff town — and maybe back again,
so we needed one more snow bike for the ride.
All the gear was gathered from the cupboards high and low
And piled in heaps upon the hallway floor,
For we’d learned to love hard riding through the snow and mountain air,
And the toddler in his carriage cried for more.

The bikes were fully loaded, so we set off up to Whiteman’s Gap,
The old pass that takes forever just to reach;
But from the top the views around could not be beat —
On a day with such a blue and cloudless sky.
As we reached the trailhead we switched the Chariot to skis,
The better then to glide over the snow;
For things were getting tougher as we pedalled down the trail,
Could be we’d bitten off more than we could chew.

The snowy path we pedalled — staying out of skiers tracks
So the going was as hard as it could be,
For we rode on deep fresh snow, completely uncompressed
A straight line was hard to keep, and so we tired.
Then we halted for a moment, for a snack and sip of tea,
And for the wee young toddler to run about,
Before long we returned sore rears to seats and then were off,
Churning through the snow with heavy legs.

And down by Banff Springs Hotel, where the tourists flock about
The mountains rise majestic up on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the ski trails the pine trees sweep and sway
To the breezes, and their icy beauty cannot be denied,
The snow bikes are still looked at with amazement and dismay,
And the people tell the story of their ride.


(My apologies to Banjo Paterson, I have no idea what possessed me.)
(Distance covered: 30km, Elevation gain: 750m, we didn’t bike back to Canmore as we ran out of time, and weren’t feeling that masochistic anyway)