bikes canada general moosling snow

Welcome to 2015

At 9am on New Years Day we were picking up a hire bike for me, then driving out to West Bragg Creek. Ideally we would have gotten there a little earlier, but we still made it in time to snag a good parking spot – unlike the hoards who’d slept in a little longer.

We chose poorly, and headed out on the Snowshoe Hare loop. It’s a snowshoe trail. Snowshoers only travel on pretty moderate, friendly, trails don’t they?

Nope. Snowshoe trails incorporate many more ridiculous hills and drops than most of the bike trails at West Bragg.

We had fun getting up and down the hills. Well the boy had fun getting down some of the hills, that’s for sure.

Once we hit the Telephone Loop trail, we headed straight back to the car to warm up toes.

I then headed off for a solo loop of my own on the south side of the trail network.

Riding south on Ranger Summit, the trail was in great shape. I didn’t have studded tyres, and didn’t lament the fact once. There’s not a lot of snow though, with bare patches in spots.

Then it was back on Strange Brew, with flashbacks from Singletrack6 going through my head. The course on the first day finished up on Strange Brew, although it rode a little slower with snow, and without race adrenalin… and with skiers to avoid at the trail crossings.

Once back in Canmore we headed out for a quick lap at the Nordic Centre, just because we may as well, seeing as we both had fat bikes for once.

It was a good start to 2015. Now for the rest of the year I’m just hoping for house renovations to be finished soon, no injuries, minimal illness, optimal fitness for Tour Divide, lots of outdoor adventures with my family, and work to be a good balance of fun and challenging.

bikes canada general trip reports

Riding 200km one sunny September Sunday

I took my Surly Karate Monkey, loaded it up with food and water, and headed out… at about 10am, because there may have been sleeping in, and disorganisation.

Along the Legacy Trail and into Banff. A stop at Wildflower Bakery you say? And to the grocery store – nutella croissants you say? I don’t mind if I do.

Then up Goat Creek towards Canmore, south on Spray Lakes Road for a mercifully brief stretch before heading to the west side of Spray Lakes.

South and south along the deserted west side of Spray Lakes, then bike out through Mount Shark.

South at Engadine Lodge, down to the end of the road, and then north along Highway 40.

Then because it’s getting dark, home to Canmore via the 1A and Exshaw, rather than over Skogan Pass.

Thoughts of the ride…

  • Scroggin is inherently vulnerable
  • Wildflower Bakery is awesome
  • I like Goat Creek much better in this direction
  • Tether your GPS
  • Rotate your owl
  • If you’re feeling far too clean, riding along Spray Lakes Road on a busy Sunday is a great way to address this problem
  • We should go and bikepack/camp along West Spray – especially now when the campground is closed
  • I saw a bat!
  • It’s beautiful along here – especially when you consider the strip of dust hanging on the far side of the lake.
  • This is a bit spooky and deserted. I will sing loudly and yell a lot.
  • This service station is open!? I love icecream! I love cold drinks! All hail the end of water rationing!
  • Riding on asphalt is waaay faster than dirt roads.
  • You should start this ride earlier or bring better lights if you want to be able to ride over Skogan or Jewell Pass
  • A helmet light would be good to prevent roadside animals and noises being scarier than they have to be.
  • Please don’t eat me, barky dog!
  • I’m not sure if I remember how to be people any more.
  • What’s this? A warm plate of freshly cooked dinner, for me? I’ll take two!
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Monkey metamorphosis

Well, my Monkey is finally beginning to turn into a proper touring bike. I installed the Rohloff, and then some time last year I sent Scott from Porcelain Rocket the sketch below, with a request to make me some bike bags:

In November, he finished them up, and I got an awesome early Christmas present. Which I have finally gotten around to photographing! As you can see, he rather awesomely brought my dreams to life.

The bags have had a bit of use already, as they’re really handy for longer day trips, and for just biking around town when you need some extra storage capacity. But what I’m really looking forward to is doing some overnight trips in summer. Without having to ride the final couple of kilometres to the camp site with one hand behind me, desperately trying to hold my thermarest in place as it tries to unravel and tangle in my spokes.

The next phase of the transformation is also underway. I have a front wheel built up with an SP PD-8 dynohub. I have a Exposure Revo light, designed to run off the hub. And I have an E-Werk usb charger, also designed to run off the hub, for the charging of GPS, phone, iPod, camera, satellite dish, portable microwave etcetera. All the necessary trappings of life as a modern cycle tourer/ bike packer.

The only tricky part is that all of these pieces are still in pieces, and I’m terrible at electronics. I’ve tried glaring at them, but so far no luck, they haven’t spontaneously self-assembled. I’m thinking of buying some sort of micro-switch, so I can build up a box that will let me switch between the light and the charger. And then somehow blackmailing an engineer to assemble the whole thing for me.

In the meantime though – look at the pretty bags!

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

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Snow Monkey

Just because the snow has started the fall, it’s no reason to give up on single track altogether. There are a few trails around town that tend to be pretty well-packed down and make for great riding, even with skinny tyres (as long as they’re a bit chunky). Just so long as you’re not trying to ride straight after a snowfall or in the middle of a chinook.

I took the Monkey out for a wander on the Highline at dusk. There’s nothing quite like a snowy night ride.

Better captured with a proper camera perhaps, but you get the idea. It’s wonderful out there.