Saturday, 31 March 2012

Water Valley ride

11 person turnout, not including Keith Bayly, Katy Curtis and Cindy who came to Cadence. Thomas Yip, Craig Stappler, Craig Marshall, Kate Aardal, Jon Nutbrown, Cesar Martin, Pat Dodge, Graham Torrie, Jay Bachman and Mark McConnel ensured it was going to be a good pace. This was a good example for Jay whom I met at spin class that everyone I ride with has far superior talent. Maybe in 20 years this thing will be the next Golden Triangle ; )

We made it out to Water Valley fast, good pace all the way out. Hit the corner store for beverages, then happened to be the only table of 11 people in lycra in the Water Valley saloon. Chowed on some great soup and fries, then had an ah ha moment half way through the fries when I noticed a bottle of HP right in front of me. Good times had by all.

We warmed up riding fairly fast right away, then Pat Dodge realized he had to be home at a certain time and just rode off the front into a stiff headwind. It was very, well, appropriate Pat Dodge style.

Jon had some food issues at lunch, so got helped with pushing for about an hour and a half on the back stretch. Cesar didn't have a weak pedal stroke all day. Craig did yeoman's duty on pushing, as did Mark, Thomas, Graham, etc.

We turned left for Wildcat Hill, Graham went straight for 1A for a faster trip home to Cochrane. We discussed the steep hill's merits on the approach, and a decision was made if I wanted to be a "giver" or "receiver"... I didn't feel like being a receiver. Had some decent legs towards the end which was fun.

Stopped in Cochrane for a communal $50 of caffeine and sweets, then again decided not to let Cochrane hill put the boots to me. Jon's legs (and fuel supply) had come back, so we sprinted the top. Fun.

Bit of a headwind back, not too bad. We split up near 12 mile coulee road, I need an explanation of what those Bust Loose party busses were doing... they got Craig and Cesar's attention.

Got down to Bowness, and Mark threw it out as we went under the train bridge to sprint it out Tour de Bowness crit style. Hell yeah. No surprise I didn't win ; )

Super fun day. Thomas will have the stats, but I think 220k since I didn't ride to Cadence. Started at 9, home at 8. Probably had 90 minutes of stops.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Shoe review

I’ve now had the Lake MXZ302’s for 4 years.  I figure I wear them 150 days a year – commuting on average 4/5 days a winter, plus 3-5 hour weekend rides all winter.  Commuting puts them to the slush and repeated buckle use test, with less challenging riding.  Weekend rides put them to the test on cyclocross hiking and warmth over long periods of time.

First, they’re really good shoes.  Anyone can nitpick for details, but delivering a solid product is tough.  These are true winter shoes, work well north of the 49th parallel, and with a good set of wool socks cover most weather you want/need to be on a bike in.  I’d tell the fine people at Lake this, but I can’t find any working “contact us” link on their page – so hopefully this makes it through the grapevine somehow. 

These are a real winter cycling boot (as opposed to a California winter shoe or something along those lines).  These have done duty in Calgary, Alberta for many sub zero days.  They’re fine to low enough temperatures that it’s probably time to pick up the skis/snowboard/XC skis instead of riding…  The insulation is good, the infrared reflective insole seems to add warmth, etc.  I’m a warm person, and people always want to know “what temperature they’re good to”, which is tough to warrant for anyone else.  Below -20C, not many people ride, or for that long.  They cover my commute.  -10C and single speeding around the city to coffee shops to tell tall tales about summer riding while building snow skills, they’ll do an hour or two between stops.  In the plus or minus 0C range, they’re good for hours.  Traction from the Vibram sole is as good as one would expect for a winter shoe.  Winter can always be slippery, when I slip in these, it's more that the conditions are tough than a better tread is needed (unless crampons are a tread option).  I've always found there's enough cutout space for cleats plus snow plus still being able to twist out of a pedal.  The wearing of the outside leather seems terrific, it's tough stuff.

What could be improved?  The top flap closes with Velcro, the flap with the two yellow crescent shapes on it.  Velcro loses effectiveness.  The little clip buckles like on an XC boot (Salomon has good ones) could help.  A little more “tread” on the BOA ratchet circle/a larger circle for handling with gloves.  The rear reflective piece integrates with the leather on the heel cup surface, and underneath is stitched and glued to the plastic heel cup.  The plastic heel cup eventually shears through the stitching that attaches the leather/reflective piece.  Better stitching, or rows of it, or some other way to dissipate force buildup would help.  I get them re-stitched and re-glued each year when they fail.

What would be on the wishlist?  Besides the reflective insole, an insole that maintains actual contact separation would be great, especially under force of pedalling.  Convection, conduction and radiation are the processes of heat transfer.  I picture something like the latest ThermaRest Neolite pads, but with a sturdy non-collapsible structure, to maintain air space (sturdy foam?  micro-cylinders?) to more completely remove conduction through the ball of the foot.  Further, some type of moderate breathability (aside from the convection comment).  These encapsulate the feet without breathing much.  Great till sweat sits in.  Some Gore Tex or other wonder fabric panels, or all, or layered, or however it could work, I believe would help this shoe perform.  Letting some breathability happen may release some heat in the moisture, but other construction mentioned herein may offset that.  In the long run, letting some heat go may keep comfort higher overall too.  Another fabric might also help take the heft down a bit (weight isn’t a primary concern with this type of product, but these aren’t light).

Monday, 26 March 2012

Old and New

I like new stuff... I can't lay claim to moral high ground on not being a consumer.

I also like tried and true. The old Benz. My decade old Helly Hansen ski jacket. '96 Stumpjumper hardtail. If it ain broke, don't fix it.

But if it is broke...

These Lake winter shoes are great. In the future, a wonder fabric Gore Tex or the like might grace my next shoes. In the meantime, I probably wear these 150 days a year and for a lot of miles. I think they're 4 years old. The plastic in the heel eventually shreds the stitching, but once a year cobbler service has kept them going.

This MEC bike commuter backpack is also in decade territory - and considering I'm a 4/5ths of the time bike commuter, that's probably 52*5*4/5*10= 2,000 days commuting, so 4,000 one way trips. The belt strap is elastic, and velcro doesn't last that long. It was getting really wimpy. New buckles instead of velcro closure should stretch it out another decade.

I'm so happy with today's upgrades! The cobbler in TD Square is fast, good, and priced right.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Biking, babies

Shawn and I arrived at Cadence to find Craigx2, Kate, Gabor, and then Alana joined. Trick was had though and Kate wasn't riding due to sore ribs from a that spill a while back. Alana couldn't turn back from the guys though since she was there. Gabor and Alana hadn't seen the day's route before; it's always neat to see if people dig the exploration cyclocross riding.

Out to Cochrane via Glenbow park, through the ranch to Big Hill Springs as pictured. Nice day, valley was below hoar frost line. At the furthest point I realized I had less than 90 minutes to make it home for Cindy's sisters' baby shower reception, so Gabor, Bunnin and I took off. For an under-Watted fellow like me, that was hard. We made it home in fantastic time - great high quality workout. Very fun tempo riding, I really had a blast.

Rest of day was sitting still with a baby, cat, and chowing on party food... until I ravaged a lasagne at dinner.


Craigx2, Shawn and I did a moderate ride Saturday as we had various fatigue factors affecting us. Craigx2 climbed awesome, I just kinda held on. Did a little tour by the Leighton arts center, then back to town, where my legs felt more like a few stoplight intervals. Had lunch at 1600 in Glenmore Landing - delicious. What you see pictured are omelette stuffed french toasts. That's tough to beat!

Capped off the evening with wine and cheese with Andrea and Shawn, plus a pork roast and risotto. The lunch may have been tough to beat, but it was handily beat by that.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Island Lake memories

I was tranciever #19.  Fortunately it never got used.
K2 Dark Side 130mm.  Big turns, no speed limits. 
Lots of snow. 

Time to head up for some fun.
Orientation and saftey review. 
Marie-Helen... drives you to the top and hands you a set of fat skis.  Everyone loves a woman who knows what you need! 

Brenda is the tail gunner for the day; a long term Island Lake fixture.  Everyone fall in to the right of where I'll be standing, there's a cliff behind me to the left.  Erik, you can go to the left.  Thanks!
Got some fresh bowls - who doesn't like that! 
"Sunnyside" doesn't disappoint. 
Aaahhh.  The feeling of weightlessness in the pow. 
This position also works as a little jig on the dance floor. 
Little air through the trees. 
Heavenly day = smiles!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Snow Run

The run out from Island Lake was much faster – woke up at 4:45am, out of lodge by 5:05am, and at car by 5:50am for a 40 minute run.  Longer stride, ran whole way instead of walk breaks required on the steep inclines, legs had “worn in” a bit from the prior effort, downhill a backpack doesn’t slow you down as much, etc.  Nice weather – about -2C. 


After the story of the trail closer to the lake being closed because a bear is hibernating inside it (and making funny noises, and grabbed Brenda’s glove when she put it in a hole in the tree before knowing a bear was in there), I didn’t want to be the breakfast of any animals.  At that time of day there’s no expected road traffic, so I was on my own.  Call it my mini taste test of Tour Divide isolation.  I had the idea to leave one of my ski walkie talkies in the room with my roommate and bring one with me, but unfortunately one was dead from our last ski trip.  Oh well.  Had  a tiny headlight; couldn’t see very much. 


Drive home stunk.  Road all snowy, plows not out yet, plus some morning traffic.  It’s fine to go say 80km/h, but then some crummy car not equipped for winter plugs up the highway at 50km/h and 6 trucks have to drive behind at that speed.  Guess a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  Past the Crowsnest valley towns it was just me, so a little easier to go a speed appropriate for the road conditions.


Glad I made it out for a day, but this additional commuting instead of sitting in a bus, not needing to keep my eyes open, and missing in an extra day of skiing now has happened twice this year on these trips.  I’m tired of the shenanigans.  I can remember how good the snow was on the January trip; I can’t remember what “important” thing I had that limited going out for one more day. 

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Late night Island Lake sights

Staples: shot ski, huckleberry ale.

Island Lake Lodge March '12 tour

If there's a place where everybody knows your name, I'm glad that works for me at Island Lake Lodge over Cheers... no offense to Norm of course.

Great snow, great company today with our clientele. Mother nature has been following me and dumping snow on me so far in '12. Got up to some of the alpine - there's nothing like being dropped off on a craggy ridge and dropping a steep path into a totally open, totally untracked bowl. Wow!

Skiied some bigger K2 Dark Side skis which didn't seem to want to set a speed limit at all. Very fun.

Cory and Brenda were the guide/tail couple, talked to them a bunch about their classic skiers wedding up here... beer cans behind the cat, vows written by a cat driver, and a shirt from the gift shop. Classic ski town styles.

Nothing can beat on hill apres, hot tub, massage and gourmet dinner. Sure beats hopping in a car to drive home.

Thanks to Aaron Whitfield for today's group photography too. Aaron hope to see you out at the bike races this summer.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Winter Running

It's been a while since I ran, but I did do 15 mins on the treadmill at an incline last week.

1:08 to jog the 6.8k up to Island Lake. Backpack was over 10lbs, and I'm guessing that the 6-7% weight addition slows you down more than that as it forces snow penetration and there's a lot of vertical. Snow wasn't too bad but not firm either. Soccer shoes and temps were great.

Monday, 19 March 2012

New skis

Sunday was the day to try out some new skis. Cindy got Line Celebrity 100's and I got the equivalent width underfoot Line Prophet 98's, both affixed with new Marker bindings.

I like the big footprint and the softness. They're like Cadillacs over almost everything. They can hold really big open turns or do smaller short turns. Fun.

Cindy says hers are smooth - like skiing on cotton balls. We even got some carving going toward the end of the day.

Had a great time at Sunshine, nice mild winter day that didn't feel like spring yet with her soccer friend and husband.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Awesome... burritos

After a good chat up at the Stappler's, I spent the drive home thinking how awesome it is to be surrounded by awesome people doing awesome things. We talked about Craig's Tour Divide past and future, Andalucia, Kate, Jon, Shawn, Cindy, Tori. Lives, adventures, plans and dreams. Basically that covered a lot of ground on the awesome scale. My boss emailed me too, but only to say how awesome a day he had xc skiing with his son. Also got one from Trev Williams, who when not doing awesome things himself, helps others eke out a little more awesomeness from themselves. I actually like it that amongst that group, I'm the slowest rider and have done some of the least interesting stuff - I just love all of the extended family!

But before all that, we rode bikes. Today's ride was awesome. Gary, Craig, Kate, Shawn and I had a great time out in Glenbow park and going up to Big Hill Springs and back. Great temperature, great skills rotation by everyone leading different bits on the ice... but other than Kate's being winded and being close enough to hear the impact, I don't have time to go into details...

... cause Shawn and Cindy made mucho burritos and have cold Steam Whistle! Now that's how to finish an awesome day. Wow!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Two Ladies

I've had the opportunity to listen to two very interesting women speak over the last two days.

Lara Logan's views, stories, opinions and intellectual presence dwarf perhaps her first noticed stage presence. To access information the way she does through military, politics, and other global arena players - her exterior may open the door for 30 seconds, but her ability to walk the walk in that world keeps the doors open and information flowing. Fascinating, blunt, at least R rated speech, not a punch puller. Love her or hate her, just don't ignore her is an astute comment someone had. A self proclaimed not a war advocate realizes there are things in life worth fighting for. Interesting view of US efficacy/in-tune-ness abroad...

Alison Redford is impressive, and contrasting. Can't by position fire off as many zingers... but is moving things forward her way. Can deliver a political speech more free of political nothings than the norm. Uses things like "actual facts, figures, knowledge and thought" when framing issues - amazing really! Whether or not such radical concepts can survive political and government wet blanket will be seen, but the passion for framing issues as "how can we have a discussion of mutual benefits [re: Gateway pipleline and aboriginal discussions] vs. what someone characterized as "extortion masked as Treaty Entitlement". Regarding Keystone, is there a fundamental logic as two ideologically compatible, democratic nations cooperating in a tumultuous sea of world events to mutually benefit from a long term, secure, fair, and well executed energy strategy? One would hope there is - if you can turn down the white noise for a bit. First question: Ma'am can we please keep you here to run on the Republican VP ticket? Answer from her: I'm flattered, but... [Moderator interjects: sorry, we're keeping her up north as a competitive advantage.]

My side thoughts: Why are special interest groups so noisy? Disproportionately small groups can derail, delay and impede progress which provides great benefits to broad parts of society in noticeable scale... I know we want cost effective medical care, education, law and order, social safety net, etc. but that doesn't come free. I see a lot of protest for "no's" to issues, without alternates suggested... like where replacement billions for decades could come from? Grow the pie is a different thought than slicing the pie.

A question framed as "should Canada have more than one customer for oilsands development" is more realistic than "should a pipe be in my backyard in the boonies". National income helps all of our standards of living - and that type of mega industry project allows provincial and national economic benefits that in fact enable more people in society to live while contributing less, as long as those who drive development are allowed to reach the peaks they're capable of.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

New York tourism

Park Avenue looking north; started off with American Museurm of Natural History, lunch with Tori, and the Musuem of Modern Art. Finished off with a fabulous dinner with coworkers at Junoon.

Tuesday started with the 9/11 memorial, followed by a walk to Battery Park, also by the Wall Street bull.

Then it was window shopping/some light actual shopping in SoHo after a walk through Tribeca. This monkey drew my attention.

Stopped for some liquid chocolate at Italian place after lunch in Greenwich village.

Subway'd up to Grand Central Station from Union Square and walked back "home".

Dinner at the Monkey Bar.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

6h of fun down south

Cesar, Craig Marshall, Shawn and I met up at Phil and Sebastian's for some excellent coffee, then headed south through the Weaselhead on what turned out to be a beautiful, warm riding day.

First event of note was Cesar and the ice not getting along for a split second on the path, just as we passed a walker.  He went down a foot in front of me, and as I went down in tandem with my momentum taking me straight on top, the only thing going through my mind was that I need to divert my foot away from stepping on his head... which despite that being the way I was headed... was averted.  We got up and kind of laughed; I think the lady was more shocked as falls for us are more regular occurrence.  She certainly got the birds eye view.

We lapped through all the big hills by the Leighton Arts Center, with Craig and Cesar climbing very well.  Shawn and I trundled along, and we collectively agreed to skip Priddis and go straight for Coal Mine Road then Bragg.  Beauty riding back there - snow was perfect on the road.

Stopped in Bragg where Jeff and Alana showed up, so our group going home became 6.  Plus we held 60km/h for a while with the big tailwinds, so it was a super fun finish to the day.  About 6h out, 5 riding once adjusted for the coffee and story telling stop.  Super fun!

Cindy's Strong

Carl Strong's work is top notch.  This bike is beautiful in both design and the detail of execution (as is his communication, process, etc.).  Flawless welds, plus a few unique items touches.

The strong head badge is all class.  The pink Chris King headset matches the pink King bottom bracket.

See the brake cable routing?  Nope, you can't really.  Internal in top tube, exits through rear integrated seat mast. Very clean look - that's a great custom detail.  Idea was to have the Ultegra Di2 battery pack in the seat mast above it with the Calfee kit, but the wiring harness is different from the Dura-ace version, so no-can-do just yet.  Still very nice - the Ultegra shifting is flawless, and most of the wiring is internal, other than the battery pack.  Cockpit is all Ritchey WCS - very nice stuff.

Note the Ritchey seat mast cap has been painted white... for style points to coordinate with the Terry Butterfly (and coincident pink logo again actually goes well).

Wide HED Ardennes SL wheels are impressively light and are shod with 25mm Continental GP4000 tires.  Smooth as butter, and those tires have great life and low service needs - they're very puncture resistant.

Ultegra touring brakes, high clearance carbon fork, and more clearance in the rear allow for cyclo-cross tires.

Happy camper and big fan of Carl Strong's work.  A very simple, yet very refined machine.  Beautiful.  Thanks Carl from both of us.