Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paké C'Mute Refit

I have begun to gather the parts necessary for what I hope will be my one bike to rule them all.
Today I started refitting the C'Mute. I have the Hilly Billy Roubaix in mind, but I really think that this set-up will be accommodating for every situation I encounter on a bicycle.

To start, I had to strip things down.  It was a great day to move the stand outside.

The drop bars come off a small Peugeot I purchased for my daughter a couple of years back.  They aren't fancy but I don't see the need for anything better.

I did one layer of spongy grip-tape and covered that with my favorite, cloth tape.  Hopefully there's enough padding to make it easy on the wrists when I am off the beaten path.

All taped up and looking good!

New 9-speed cassette on the back...

32-tooth single up front.  Hopefully this gives me the range I need for hills.  

I didn't get it finished today but its close.  Chain and pedals (going to try "eggbeater" style) and I have some Dia-Compe ENE Down Tube Shifters on the way from Velo-Orange.  I am going to go with friction shifting.

I'll throw on my regular saddle for now, but before the end of the summer I'll top things off with a nice, sleek, black, Brooks B-17.  Once the gravel grinding is over I'll invest in some fenders too.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tektro RL520 Have Arrived

It seemed less expensive and fidgety to purchase the Tektro RL520's than it would have been to convert to cantilever brakes on the Paké.

At one time I would not have dreamt of using my newer Paké C'Mute build for a gravel race, but I have changed my mind.  In fact, I think I can build it into an all around ride - including my daily commute.

I had changed my position on the C'Mute to a more upright one because I thought it would make the daily grind more comfortable.  Strangely, it does not.  For some reason my back, neck and arms do better over a long haul when I am slightly hunched into a "racing" position.

That means I am willing to try drop bars again, and I needed brakes to go with.

I had to order these from Vancouver because it was the only place in Canada I could find that stocked them.  It's taken two months of shipping-by-Greyhound-mixups but they finally arrived.  I don't get home from work until about 10:00 tonight which means they won't be going on this evening.  But I cannot wait!  The reviews I found are basically all stellar - so now I get all the stopping power of V-brakes with hoods on! An unusual combination to be sure.

I didn't know what colour hoods I'd be getting but black was my first choice!

There are two or three more components to add and I will be bike-ready for the Hilly-Billy Roubaix on June 22.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Burnstown Gravel Ride

This was an inspiring ride.  I wish I had bothered to take more pictures but when I get in the moment I don't want to interrupt things.

This was my route.  Google says 61.9km and 3 hours 39 minutes.  But after a few wrong turns I ended up with a cool 80.5km ride in 3 hours 31 minutes.

It's backwoods all the way.  Beautiful riding & just what I was looking for.  There are no sustained gravel stretches like this where I live (the Burnstown route is a 5 hour drive north). Below is my folks cottage - ready for liftoff.

These are the kinds of roads I have been looking for.  This is an example of one in good condition.  Most were impassible for cars because of the large ruts but were perfect for my purposes.  In fact, I believe I counted 6 cars on this route, and that's not a whole lot.

I got a lot of looks.  Helmets are an unusual sight around these parts - never mind spandex.
Let's just say "this was good training for the Hilly Billy" and leave it there.

Accidental close-up or giant mosquito?  Don't stop for long or you may end up with West-Nile Virus.

Burnstown may be nothing more than a whistle-stop but Neat is a great place for a reward.

I could say so much more but lets keep this simple.  Here's my summary:

  • A route so fun that I am considering turning it into a race/tour.
  • I will learn to take more photos.
  • Seeing as this was half the distance of the Hilly Billy, I must learn about proper nutrition quickly. Otherwise I won't survive the Hilly Billy.
  • Most dogs that chase you are just out for a good time. Some aren't though.
  • Just because you're the only person on miles of road doesn't mean the locals will give you a wide berth as they pass.
  • My wife is awesome.
  • Good geometry is worth the time to figure out and a good saddle is worth the money.
  • I'll be doing that again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Today around the city + a huge compliment

It's rare that I need to bicycle straight into Hamilton, but today I did.  The blurry photo reads 20.0km right on the button (not 200).

I saw a neat bike locked nearby. It had a wild twist in the tube but I guess its still rideable.

Some upcoming events...

And the benefit of living in the west-end where all the $ is.  In this case, separated, two-way bike lanes (I'm not bitter at all).

A beautiful day to be out, but the greatest thing that happened today was a comment I received on my way home.  A fellow passed me on a Bion-X electric bike, and then stopped about 300 yards ahead to wait for me.  He clearly wanted to say something to me.  And then he said it.

"Are you a bicycle courier?"

That's a compliment!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Peaceful Trail

Not a lot of people out today.

This route returns me to the scene of last week's endo.  The scene of the crime.

This time I navigated the downhill with experience and without mishap.

It's a short loop that took me down to the waterfront and then back home.

The blossom on the cherry trees were at their best about two days ago.  This orchard is about 300 feet from my house.

As it stands by bike is not in proper shape to tackle the Hilly Billy Roubaix (but then again, either am I).  The cranks keep loosening every 5k and I need to stop and tighten them, I need some padding on the bars if my wrists have any hope of survival, my gear ratio is completely wrong for the hills I anticipate, once again I will need to figure out a workable solution for pedals and there's a lot I don't know about the proper nutrition necessary for a 100k race. Sigh.

Friday, May 10, 2013

My Music @ Work

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
~ Berthold Auerbach
My everyday life is not so bad that I need to escape it, but I truly enjoy the places that music takes me so I engage it as often as I can. Music doesn't just help pass the time, it helps me reflect, brings memories back to life and can make most chores more enjoyable.

I have always wrestled with the tension between using headphones on my commute vs. the potential dangers it invites.  On the one hand I get my music while on the other it minimizes a critical commuting-sense.

Using one earbud instead of two isn't a bad option but I may have found an even better one.

I put my iPad in one of those thin nylon bags with the rope-y shoulder straps and turned it up as loud as possible.  The sound easily penetrated the thin fabric of the bag much better than it would have my normal commuting pack. On quiet streets this worked really well but on major roadways the music was easily drowned out.

It then occurred to me that I could get improved volume by putting my Jawbone Jambox into my bento-bag.  The Jambox speaker connects to the iPad via bluetooth, and I speculated that having the sound originate in front of me would result in better overall quality. 

While neither of these is a perfect solution to the earbud issue, I think I am on the right track. 

What about you?  Do you also like to ride with music?  How do you do it?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Paris to Ancaster 2013 - wrap up

I looked at the hit-counter for this blog and it was crazy!  The first thing I thought was 'what could I possibly have to offer that is that interesting?!' and then I realized its because people are searching "Paris to Ancaster" just like I am.

If you are stumbling across me that way I welcome you to stick around.  Whoever you are, you have given me a nice boost and I thank you!

There are many, many photographers along the length of the course and a few of them are entrepreneurs who sell photos to the participants (just like when you get off a big roller-coaster!).  Last year I purchased the only shot of me that I could find and I knew I'd do that again this year because I seldom get a chance to have an action picture of me.

It turns out I had a few to choose from.  One was clearly within the first 3-4 kilometers because there is neither mud on my bike nor my body.  Plus I have this huge, stupid grin that I guarantee did not last past 10k.  Passed on that one.

There's a series of me from another company who captured my finish.  It could not contrast better with the first shot.  I look like I've just returned from 'Nam.  Those shots were ok, but I always had my mouth open like a bass hitting for a fly.  Passed on those.

I settled on the one above even though I'm not looking at the camera (probably for the best).  It's not likely too far into things either but it's a good in-between photo nonetheless.

I guess I already posted that I came in just over three hours.  I think I have the Beast figured out and I am hoping for a sub three hour showing next year.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

40k ride that felt longer

I'm entered into a fantastic looking gravel-grind for June so instead of just commuting I am compelled to do a little extra. The event is called the Hilly Billy Roubaix and it was my wonderful wife that suggested it in the first place!

When it comes to training for this kind of thing my friend, JD, is the go to fellow.  I mean, anyone who competes at the Tour Divide can certainly show me a thing or two about singletrack and handling on soft ground.

After climbing the Niagara Escarpment we headed west across the DOFASCO Trail.  It's a pleasant ride with crushed limestone double-track all the way. After a pause at the Punchbowl Market  we headed back down the escarpment.  One would think going downhill on a bicycle is the fun part, but it was also the most difficult part. In fact I got stuck going way fast between a runnell and soft gravel and it took me down.

White coffee & a Cliff Bar.  Now that's a winning combination!

"He's OK!"
After quickly reassuring myself I could move my legs and that nothing seemed broken I started to chuckle.  Maybe it was shock, maybe it was thankfulness. Not to say that I wasn't in pain, because it hurt. A lot.  But I did survive it.

The picture above looks posed but nope, that's right where I lay until I got my wits about me.

From there we turned west and went across the base of the escarpment, and then back up.  I was pleased with my climbing but I am certain I need more gear options for the Roubaix. I'll have to see what Pinkbike has to offer.

In the end we covered just over 40km. Not a long distance if you ask me, just don't ask my body because it thinks it went much further than that!