bikes canada general

Up the pass and down the pass

Sometimes solo, sometimes with a crew along, but the pass has been the ride of the season for me. Good for a quick workout, good for laps or hill repeats. And really, although it’s a great big dirt road when I’d rather be riding singletrack, the views really are pretty amazing.

25 times so far this year. Enough to make it pretty familiar.

Much more fun when it’s not dusty, or running with snow melt.

And even more fun when Reclaimer is in good shape for a fun singletrack descent, instead of flying back down the road. It’s all good training though.

bikes canada general

Tour Divide on the brain

This has been the perfect winter for biking. The ski season has been absolutely rubbish. But the trails are dry in March! (well, a bit dry… some of them). And because of my plan to ride the Tour Divide in June, I’ve been riding a lot. An awful lot. Ok, nowhere near so much as some other people out there are, but given the constraints of full time work, plus a husband and small child, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my waking moments spinning my pedals.

This is by far the most organised I’ve ever been in attempting to gain bike fitness, and so far I’m feeling strong, and not at all bored or burnt out. It helps that I’ve had some variety in the rides on offer. There’s been snow biking, road biking, trainer spinning, gravel grinding, epic rain rides, dry singletrack, and random loops that incorporate a bit of everything.

Some of my rides from the last couple of months

Most of my riding is from home, so heading to Banff is a pretty common theme, either coming or going via the Goat Creek trail. This is the picturesque bridge that survived the floods of 2013 (unlike the Spray River bridge).

The crusty snow makes for lousy skiing, but easy fat biking (look, not a trace of my passage) (it is quite bumpy though)

I’ve been hunting down the Parks Canada red chairs all over the place. These are the ones by the picnic area on the Legacy Trail.

Rundle Riverside is the rooty singletrack option between Banff and Canmore. It would make for the perfect fat bike loop from the Nordic Centre round to Banff and back via Goat Creek – if only the Nordic Centre allowed fat bikes past the meadow. As it was, I may have snuck out there early one morning, on crusty icy snow, before anyone was up and skiing and able to spot me.

Cascade Mountain from the Tunnel Mountain loop

Rusty golf ball on a giant tee? Banff is full of mysteries.

A dreary cold day of mizzle, drizzle and snow – Lake Minnewanka is starting to look a little melty around the edges.

And finally, my old friend, the pass ride. It’s a really easy way to get in a good climb on gravel. From town, it’s a climb of about 400m over 6km. Or if you just count the gravel section, it’s 230m over 2.7km. Never impossibly steep, but a nice consistent grade.

Apart from the riding, I still have some gear organising to do – I know what I want, but I just don’t have everything yet. The biggest thing is a new titanium frame, from Triton Bikes. It will hopefully be shipped to me any day now, but they’re a swamped small business, and it’s taken longer than I was hoping.

Otherwise, I need to get a final bike fit done, do some fiddling to optimise my electronics setup, bug Scott at Porcelain Rocket for some new frame bags, practice some of my mechanical skills, make a few low priority decisions about what really needs to come with me, maybe track down some better versions (or newer versions) of gear I already have… then it’s just doing the final print of my basic cues, putting the route track on the gps, final bike service, and ride!

Oh, and I need to decide whether I want to ride the extra 28km or so from home to the start line in Banff. It’s tempting, but the first couple of days will already be pretty epic… hmmm.

bikes canada gear general

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!