Browsed by
Category: MTB

N+1 = Is this the Secret Formula to Mountain Bike Happiness?

N+1 = Is this the Secret Formula to Mountain Bike Happiness?

 

2016-06-21-19-00-52

“N+1”. Is the secret formula that any passionate and slightly mental mountain bikers will tell you is the secret to ultimate happiness.  What is it? Its owning a “N” or number of bikes plus the next one you’re going to get come hell in high water.  Mostly hell comes from your wife who “hell hath no fury” when the cheque bounces because the rent was used on a lay away plan for that new titanium full suspension frame.  My wife is the best, loving and understanding of my mental obsession (she may read this post), who may at any point be planning an intervention with other mountain biker wives to snap me back into reality.   Mostly her line of questioning goes more or less like this:

  • Her -Whats a matter with the other three on the wall?  (Me- I can’t use them at the bike park, have you seen the jumps I will be riding?  – actually that is not the answer she wants to hear…).
  • Her – Whats a matter with your hardtail that you just had custom made (Me – its too hard on my body to ride for 5 hours, a carbon fiber full suspension will be better…besides I want to change that hardtail to a single speed)
  • Her – You’re a fuck head.

I’ve owned a few a bikes and they each have a story in my life and immortalised in this blog (at least until I stop paying the webmaster).  Here they are:

The Cove G-Spot - considered a mini DH sled. Most of my DH Strava KOMs was done on this bike
The Cove G-Spot – considered a mini DH sled. Most of my DH Strava KOMs was done on this bike

 

It start with this beauty - TCR Advanced - Upgraded with SRAM Red and Carbon wheels
It start with this beauty – TCR Advanced – Upgraded with SRAM Red and Carbon wheels

 

One of a half dozen Cove Hummer soft tails. The rear shock is moves about 1" to take the sting of the bumps.
One of a half dozen Cove Hummer soft tails. The rear shock is moves about 1″ to take the sting of the bumps.

 

Lynskey FS120 - amazing titanium ride and very XC
Lynskey FS120 – amazing titanium ride and very XC

 

Brodie Awl - considered a free ride bike and inspired by the Shore
Brodie Awl – considered a free ride bike and inspired by the Shore.  I gave it to my son who didn’t ride much and then we gave it to needy young mountain biker for racing in high school.

 

2016-07-09 15.47.24-1
My latest bike. A 27lb trail bike converted from a race frame. Its light and very capable.

 

My baby! Designed by me and built by Whishart Bikes. Amazing craftmanship and captures everything about me and my progression of the sport
My baby! Designed by me and built by Whishart Bikes. Amazing craftsmanship and captures everything about me and my progression of the sport
Current setup - 21t Wolftooth SS Cog with a 30 t chainring
Current setup – 21t Wolftooth SS Cog with a 30 t chainring

Ahh – N+1 + significant other support = happiness!

—-WAB1234—-

Adding Epic in a ride

Adding Epic in a ride

2016-07-10 10.50.04
Cleaning up Stage 4 on BCBR

“…tagging a ride with ‘epic’ means that within yourself, you’ve established some intrinsic value to that ride and in a year’s time or even for decades, you can close your eyes and re-live that memory”

You always think about it after a big ride with friends and you hit the stop/finish button on Strava.  There, you need to name the ride – should I add ‘Epic’ to the ride then post to Facebook?  Just as my mind was settling down on a Coast MTB tangent blog entry, my friend Cooper Quinn rattles off a great post on “Defining Epic” http://nsmb.com/defining-epic/ . Go ahead and click the link, its worth the read and a good segue-way to my tangent.

I had a great ride with a group of friends the other day. I heard the words ‘that was Epic’. I was thinking ‘umm, no it wasn’t’, it was only 38km and 3 1/2 hours of riding.  Hell, I didn’t even think that the Test of Metal (68km, 5 hours of riding) was even close to being ‘Epic’, but I bet the ‘Epic’ word was being used more often than a empty beer cup after the first pint after the Test was over. So what defines ‘Epic’? Your fitness? Placing well in a race? Did you suffer to get there? I’m sure I would get full agreement that your physical and mental well-being must be tested. Perhaps bonking or really spending time in the basement, dwelling in a dark corner of the room and wishing for this f’in ride to end may be the threshold when to add ‘Epic’ to the ride name or not?  Or, maybe you were just floating along in riding in new area, new trails and just riding where ever the trails will take you.

What about the 7 day stage race of BC Bike Race? Is every day an ‘Epic’ or is it the journey of training for it over the last 6 months, travelling to BC and riding some of the best singletrack trails that the WORLD has to offer? After finishing BCBR, I think that ‘Epic’ could apply here to describe one’s journey after crossing that finish line on the last stage.   I’ve come to the conclusion that tagging a ride with ‘Epic’ means that within yourself, you’ve established some intrinsic value on that ride and in a year’s time or even for decades, you can close your eyes and re-live that memory.

2016-07-31 14.07.12 HDR-2

Will I remember that great ride with friends the other day? Probably not, as it was my day-in, day-out trails that I always ride and really I didn’t suffer too much.  In fact, I had a couple of more hours left of riding in me!  Will my friends from England remember the ride?  YOU BET! And they did add the ‘Epic’ word into their Strava ride.  The Sunshine Coast MTB trails will have that affect on people with its over 300km of singletrack trails that one could spend a good week here and never ride every trail.

Well, I’ve used the word ‘Epic’ 12 times in this article to prove a point (mostly in jest) that we misuse the term in ‘Epic’ proportions.  What you won’t find is the E-word in my Strava ride name unless it’s deservedly so, knowing that I’ve truly suffered, ridden trails that most the world’s MTB’ers would give their left nut to experience and I can re-live the moments anytime I want. Thanks Coop for getting this Epic conversation started!

—WAB1234—

2016-07-10 11.01.57 2016-07-09 15.47.24-1

 

Karma is Sweet, Loving and Cares for Mountain Bikers!

Karma is Sweet, Loving and Cares for Mountain Bikers!

So I’m back on my project in Terrace visiting the trails and brought my bike again to ride for my 10 day shift.  The first day, I was super stoked and rode up the paved road with vigour to get to the trails.  I got about 500m into the climbing and ping my spoke blew and my tire stuck to the side of chainstay like a fly to a pile of shit.  The spoke broke inside the spoke nipple and there was no way to get the broken piece out.  Game over… I loosen up my sliding dropouts to cheat the tire over to one side, but it rubbed so hard making pedaling difficult going downhill.  Anyway, as I got down to the trail head I stopped to talk to a fellow mountain biker.  I told him where I was from and loved their trails and how I unfortunately broke a spoke.  Dean was sympathetic to my issue as he had wheels like mine and difficulty finding parts to fix a broken spoke.  He has since moved to different wheelset because a lack of support.  Then Dean said “Wait a minute!” and proceed to go into his stuff in the back of his truck and pulled out a spoke nipple that fit my wheel.  WTF! Unbelievable that I happened to stumble on the only guy in Terrace (and maybe all of north-western BC for that matter) that had spare spoke nipples.  He didn’t have a spoke but I was 50% of the way there! The next day I went to Wild Bike Shop in Terrace and talked to the shop owner there.  They bent over backwards to find a spoke that fit.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the exact one but they did have one that I could straighten.  And straighten it I did!!!  I stuffed the straightened ‘j-bend’ spoke into my hub and threaded the nipple and IT WORKED!  OMG!  This was my first two days of 10 in my trip to Terrace! and it was looking like Day 3 was going to be awesome!

Day 3 – I rode up Terrace Mountain and back down the T2 trail to a parking lot.  A riding group was gathered there and we chatted for a bit.  They invited me to ride a brand new trail they just finished off that day.  What the? What kind of awesome timing is this? Go on, please I don’t deserve this awesome experience..well okay if you insist.   The new trail was just that! New and fresh and I was the third bike down the line.  Lots of bermed corners, tons of flow and tricky rock rolls.  SO MUCH FUN!!!!  These riders were super passionate and loved their sport.  I felt privileged to be in their company.  After getting back to the parking lot, I made my way back home and bumped into a couple more riders.  They invited my to ride a lesser known trail called Lower Wheel.  Tara warned me that the trail was steep but she didn’t tell me that it was super steep with rock rolls and drops!  I should have known after she told me that she just got back from the BC Enduro event in Williams Lake.  Tara was skilled!

When you’ve paid a substantial amount of money to Air Canada to travel with your bike and then you break your bike, you’d think that Karma is a bitch.  She was just pointing you in the right direction to meet some awesome riders, awesome trails and making my trip an awesome experience.  I say that Karma is sweet and loves mountain bikers!  Thank you Karma!!

A selfie off of Flathead trail
At the bottom of Broken Bridge the trail spits you out on the road near the Skeena River. Awesome views!
At the bottom of Broken Bridge the trail spits you out on the road near the Skeena River. Is that a rainbow?
At the bottom of Broken Bridge the trail spits you out on the road near the Skeena River. Awesome views!
At the bottom of Broken Bridge the trail spits you out on the road near the Skeena River. Awesome views!
Just one of many rock rolls on the Flathead trail
Just one of many rock rolls on the Flathead trail

2016-05-29 19.29.28

—WAB1234—

Whishart Long Travel 29’er is Born!

Whishart Long Travel 29’er is Born!

Over the last several months I’ve been busy baking my own baby in the oven.  In the Bikecad.ca oven so to speak!  My last post explained why (http://www.coastmtb.com/public_html/?p=9) and since then I’ve reviewed countless bike geo’s, reviews and test rides.  I started with a Chromag Surface design then tweaked the design based on Canfield’s Nimble 9, 44 bikes and the Kona Honzo.  The final design ended up being a short chainstay, longer top tube, short stem, 140mm fork.  The sliding dropouts were added for tweaking the ride and water bottle bosses for bike packing tours.

Throughout the design phase, my good friend Rob Warren from Whishart Cycles www.whishart.com helped me developed and finalize the design.  Once we agreed to it, he was off ordering the tubes, and parts for the build.  The headtube is a 44mm CNC unit, the sliding dropout is stainless from Paragon Machine works.  The tubes are pre-bent (chainstays, seatstays) and the rest is a pick of Nova and Columbus tubes. The design will have 68 deg headtube with a 73 deg seat tube (using 120mm fork).

Rob uses fillet brazing to join the tubes and his workmanship is a thing of beauty!  This is where a bike building becomes a real craft with emence patience and a critical eye.  I visited Rob to see the build which was half assembled and I was like a little kid with a parent. Whats this? Whats that? How did you compensate for twist? Do you cold set? He was certainly patience with me.

I realized then that I was on a journey of cycling learning.  I had to understand why mountain bikes were designed in the past, what worked and what didn’t and where design was going.  Also,its not like I just visited the bike stores and chose an already built up bike like most folks.  I had to really think about the essence of what trails I ride and why I ride.  A bike design and its designer really needs to have a vision of what the rider is looking for.  For larger bike companies, its a faceless rider; for small companies, maybe its for their local area.  I chose to jump on a journey without not knowing the end result.  Truly a trail less travel and I still don’t know if the bike is a dud!!!  It could very well be a mistake or hopefully the best ride ever!  We all know that a first design is a prototype and its design tweaked with later iterations.  We’ll see about later revisions…but thats part of my life long cycling journey.

The rear stays are on the jig

 

This is a beautiful join of the a bent seat tube with the seat  post insert

 

Bottom bracket area – the chainstays are crimped to allow a 2.4 Ardent tire

 

Front triangle on – rear seat stays last thing to join.

 

The bike 99% complete and getting ready to paint

 

She is a thing of beauty!

—-WAB1234—-

A Trail Doesn’t Define Your Day

A Trail Doesn’t Define Your Day

So there is a new trail in Sprockids Park in Gibsons.  It was built by the Mountain Bike Program by Capilano University.  Its a great trail with lots of trail features like a pump track, ladders, table tops and drops.  One such feature is a 4 foot drop into a really nice transition.  I’ve ridden to the lip of the drop 6-7 times on two different occasions and it just sketches me out.  The reason being, I figure, is that I can’t see the landing until the last second.  Its a confidence and trust thing that I can’t seem to wrap my head around it.  I wear all the gear that should protect me if  things go wrong. But this is a real mind over matter thing.  Two  times now I’ve eventually taken the chicken route and I have beat myself up about it for the rest of the ride and for a good long time after the ride.  I’m literally depressed about it.  It didn’t matter if the ride leading up to the drop was totally great (which it was) as I defined my ride and my remaining day based on this one failed accomplishment.   In fact, after not doing the drop, I rode the Relax log feature (40′ log skinny) which I should have been jumping for joy! Have you been there?

I realized that defining my ride is not about mastering every single feature on every trail on every ride. That the whole ride is made up of several trails with dozens of trail features to master in time.  The key is to master features in time.  One trail feature passed by out of 30 plus features that I did do is a pretty good score on any test! I know there will be a day that my mind and body will tell me to go for the drop, but until that time, I’m in no rush.

—WAB1234—

A series of decisions leading to an unfortunate event

A series of decisions leading to an unfortunate event

I’m sitting in a chair at the hospital waiting for my x-rays to be looked at by a surgeon.  My shoulder in a sling and elbow resting on the arm of the chair.  There doesn’t seem to be a comfortable position to keep my throbbing collarbone from aching.   My mom just came in to give me crap on messing up my shoulder and my wife is equally as mad.  Both of my loves are angry from worry I suspect.

It’s always good to look at any event in post-mortem and waiting for 3 hours can do wonders on any reflection.  Racing the Sunshinecoaster Race was a goal of mine when I first threw my leg over the my new G bike in January.  Mountain biking was just the ticket to get a early start on this spring and summer road riding.  As I started riding, my confidence grew and my fitness gained quickly.  Two months ago I registered, and last month I started pre-riding the course.  The course itself is a very hilly course with lots of steady 12% grunts.  My G bike although good at climbing is still a beast at 34 lbs but on the downhills, it eats roots and boulders for breakfast.

As I got closer to the race time, I have a friend that offered the use of his bike. Its a Cove titanium 22.75lb (yes I weighed it) with SRAM X0/XX components.  Its hugely light and being titanium, its lively (I call it squirelly) on the downhills.  Riding it, I would be able to climb the hills in no time and traverse the roads in short order and try to keep upright on the downhills.  I should get a PR time and much glory!

Prior to the race, I worked on the race bike.  I put new brake pads in which made the braking super sensitive, cleaned the drivetrain and pumped up the tires.  The tires were leaking air so I put Stans in for re-sealing.  Taking the bike out for a quick burn around the block, this bike felt so foreign to me.  Something was nagging me to use my old bike, but I shrugged it off thinking it’ll be worth the bike switch as I’ll be faster on the titanium bike.

So the day of the race, last chance, I threw the titanium bike into the car and off I went to the race.  My warm-up I rode down the last section of the race course which was a new, bumpy, tight singletrack that my bike kept diving into the holes, stop at all the roots and I hated the brakes.  I pre-rode this section of the course with the G, and I didn’t noticed the roots and stuff then.  I stopped to talk to my friend about me using the bike, and she said that I should be using the G.  I know…..I told her.

And off we went.  I started out too hard – 175bpm.  A very unsustainable pace, but I was climbing well, up ITL lands and B&K, down Black Tower (couldn’t go fast due to other riders), up Patrick’s Pass and Up Pumpkin Patch.  Back up B&K to Dude’s Bypass – wait, I felt a twinge in my calf – yes, okay back it off and start eating (I’m a chronic cramper, so anything longer than 1 hour, I start to cramp without something with Mg in it).  Down and up Grant’s Grind, along Wagon Trail.  About this time, I was thinking that I was definitely losing it and started thinking about the short course.  I’ll make the decision to at the bottom of the tube.  Tired and crampy, I started down the Tube.  I usually fly down this course with my G bike, but this bike made me really nervous and to be more on the brakes.  I got to a small section of sloping off-camber roots, and I must of  touched the brakes cause I went down hard.  Was that stars?  What was that sound?  Another rider stopped and helped me up and my bike (thanks by the way).  I was done.  I couldn’t move my shoulder or lift my bike so I knew it was a collarbone.  First Aid was on me in no time and had me whisked away in an ambulance.  I had a cracked helmet, which was why they were concerned.  Lots of questions and adding math to check if I had a concussion.

Learnings from the race:

 1) A lighter bike will not make you faster if you are not confident with its abilities.  The brakes were too sensitive which made it difficult to feather hard sections of the race.   Actually, I put my ride into Strava and on the climbing sections, I was faster during my pre-ride  with my G!!!!  Unbelievable!
2) Match tires to the course.  I used a Maxxis Lust which is a summer, hard pack tire.  It wasn’t the tire of choice on this greasy, root infested trails of the course.  My G has Conti Trail King which wouldn’t have been a problem.
3) Be smart at the start and pace yourself for the whole ride.  I’m sure that I would have burnt myself out sooner than later.
4) Listen to that nagging part of your mind that says “don’t introduce any new bikes or components that you are not familiar prior to a race”.
5) PR and personal glory is not an excuse for increasing your chances of getting hurt.  Next time it will be different – way different!

I just got an email from the Race Organizer – Sue – and she’s offered a free entry into next years race.  Awesome!  Thanks Sue, Search and Rescue and the other volunteers for great first aid and taking care of me.  Yes – I will race it next year and I’ll have 364 days to develop my strength to peddle my G-beast up hills and skillfully go faster on the downhills!

—-WAB1234—-