Friday, 30 August 2013

Mongolia Bike Challenge day 0

 Breakfast was excellent - here's my measures - even includes kim chi.

Packing is a bit of a problem. They want you to bring one bag. That's ok other than I packed two small bags for the trip. One is getting jammed with dailies, one is going to sit in a truck until needed with spares and such. 

Elevators are small and crowded when all racers checking out. 

Camping will be cool, this morning was a fresh 5C out. I have a thermometer on my bag to measure overnight temperatures. 

I met Cory Wallace's mom. She's nice and he's smart. He just asked her I'd she wanted to volunteer at a bike race, and only later mentioned it was in Mongolia. I should have done that!

We're off shortly in busses and these. 

Friday Night in UB

After the introduction speeches, we went a block or two away to what would be bet described as a pizza place. It was noisy and fun, we ate with a table of Spaniards, err Catalonians. We were surrounded by tables of local 20 and 30 something's.  What dawned on me with the contrasting old school map on the wall painted to look like parchment that spanned Peking to Venice and showed old trade routes is Mongolia is part of the area where tables of 6 girls can actually go out together, wearing whatever their fashion sense thinks is cool, drink wine, laugh all night and give each other presents (my deductive prowess is guessing birthday party) and have also the economic means to pay for their night out.  That's a crucial indicator to me of a place I want to visit, and a place that's on a decent track. 

Mongolia Bike Challenge race check in

Well, it's starting to feel real. Bike is built, lined up for check in with 108 other riders.  Looks like they're age grouping us so I see Masters by my name for first in my life. It was bound to happen sometime. 
This guy is collecting money for transfers, additional hotel charges, etc. I asked him if he wanted to arm wrestle for the giant pot of US dollars. His eyes lit up... he said of course, I'm Mongolian. I had to cede victory before I got my arm wrenched pre-race. 
Intro presentation then we're off to eat!  
Oh wait, here comes trouble - Jack's bringing the Funk!

Ulaan Baatar

So far I really like this place. No fluff. It feels frontier, rough and tumble. Baggage handlers at airport didn't follow union rules on lifting, those guys just powered through stuff like you wouldn't believe. Driving away from the airport is on gravel roads where rules seem to work on mass of vehicle more than anything else.  Cars are both right and left hand drive for confusion.  But it's orderly in its own way and rather quiet. 

Off road 4x4's are common. There's not much pavement. Big jacked up Mercedes G wagons, Mitsubishi and Toyota trucks all over.  I think the average 16 year old girl here has driven more offload than guys going out to McLean Creek every weekend at home.  Busses, Toyotas, etc. are pulled over randomly with workers, families, whomever working on changing tires or rebuilding half a front end it seems anywhere they stop. Resourceful. 

I've experienced 5 Mongolian hand shakes so far. They're consistent - meaty hands and iron like grips.  God these guys are just solid. We saw some kids wrestling on the sidewalk. Between the wrestling display and these grips of steel, I don't think I should wrestle anyone over 6 years old.  These people seem tough in a way that make me feel feeble.  I can see entirely why people feared Mongol raids. 

The city feels rugged, tough, unrefined. Gravel, Rick, steel, concrete square buildings, rust. Square and not what you'd call architecturally inspired. District heating pipes all over. 

But it's a relaxed atmosphere. Thomas and I went to a patio. Food was good, although vegetables don't seem like they've made it here. We feel safe - it's quiet, people are polite.  Strolling around is lovely, warm, not windy. 

I heard a bunch of jokes about Mongolian women before I came. I don't think they hold true. Most are wearing very nice dresses and high heels even if walking uneven streets with gravel sections. They're trim. They really aim for a cosmopolitan look (as do guys). Not what I expected at all.  The people make it feel softer and more refined than what you get from just seeing the city. 

Can't say a bad thing yet - really like the feel of it all. 

Thomas and I both have Therm-a-rest brand sleeping pads. He didn't buy the little one! (That's mine in his left hand).

Time travel + time warp

It all started innocently - reasonably tight pack job and airport drop off from Cindy. But there's something about leaving my regular world on Wednesday evening, and popping up in a very different world on a Friday, with nothing but the blur of that magic sky chair in between that's actually really tiring. August 29, 2013 will never exist for me, I just went from the 28th to the 30th. 

Beijing is the largest place I've flown into. Watching the city lights unfold as we descended was mile after mile of developed sprawling metropolis.  It's two thirds the population of Canada.  Scale of everything really is amazing. The airport is massive like its own city. I got here pretty much at midnight, but could still find plenty of steamed buns. 

I haven't had some of these tastes since hanging out with Chinese friends houses where grandma cooked since jr high. 

So what was a 1am to 9am experience like in a city of this size in the worlds second busiest airport?  I went to the Star Alliance lounge until it closes - slight oversight, the quality of lounge from online review kept me from getting a room somewhere, but it was only open till 1:30. I learned blogger doesn't fly with this regime, and a nice staff girl helped me get wifi traceable to me (basically a passport scan kiosk like we use at home to print boarding passes printed me a code). At closing time I departed to finds a suitable bench to sleep on till 4am when it opened again. It only took about 50 yards of walking until my standards were satisfied. I did consider that I had my mat and bag available in my carry on, but just pulled out a jacket for a pillow to make do. 

I was overlooking a 3 story drop to what I presume is a metro train, complete with gigantic escalators down to it, gleaming shiny but all shut for the night.    This was up against the 4-5 story hight glass wall overlooking the tarmac. From higher up in the lounge, I could see the building stretch hundreds of meters in all direction openly. If they didn't have shops in here it could be an indoor golf course.  So dwarfed by all this I felt like an ant with the roof 10m above and had a completely silent sleep for a couple hours. No people, a single quiet cleaning zamboni that must run off some large battery, no sounds of the building even. Just pin drop silent in a massive industrial creation in one of the worlds most developed giant cities. Weird juxtaposition but pleasant. 

The Mongolia flight is the first sign of people with water bottles, cycling looking bodies.  Refreshing with a tangy bite.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Mongolia bound

Time always compresses when trying to leave on holiday; this week got super busy despite typically being slow in August. Packing, work, and eventually finding the elusive passport are all precursors to my airport drop off. I'm excited. Someone sent me this, this guy looks badass cool. I'll keep an eye out for him if I get off course!

I don't think I'll see too many people.  It's about 3x the size of Alberta with a roughly equal amount of people to us.  Half of those are in Ulan Bator.  That's pretty sparse... in fact its the most sparsely populated country in the world.  I guess that qualifies as "getting away from it all".

Monday, 26 August 2013

Exploration ride

Post the Banff Fondo and ahead of Mongolia I needed rest, a leg spin, a shakedown ride on the Moots, and wanted to try to explore a bit to connect a route.

Others had good sounding mountain bike plans that were over my fatigue level, so Shawn and I set out.  The Moots has its GPS on with a backup tether (learned that the hard way years back), has the Mongolia maps loaded, and most tools/air on it.  The bike was riding beautifully, I'm so happy with it.

We're poking around for a south side of TransCanada route from 22 over to Sibbald to make shorter loops than the 130k road loop - not so much because we're lazy, but if we can find a shorter one, it lends itself to then adding in more singletracks and doing them on either hardtails or 'cross bikes.  Plus its just cool to know what's out there.

I'm not going to post a map, come ride with us sometime for the knowledge.  Google shows a road that in conversation with a landowner, used to be passable, but is now on private land and is not.  Signs are sort of mixed - Private, use at your own risk - with No Trespassing right there adjacent.  We chatted to the lady, she was conversational, but the message was no go.  It's a key convenience segment of 2km, instead we did up to the TransCanada, and did some gravel on the side, but ended up 1.5km on the TransCanada.  Part of it lends itself to riding further off near the fences than on the shoulder.  1.5km is tolerable in my view anyway...

On to Hermitage road, and the exit of the aforementioned road has no signs indicating not going there, but it kind of looks that way.  Oh well.  Maybe we can paint their fence some day for access...

Continued south to where a private bridge washed out and they're working on it.  Chatted to a fellow there who advised us how to get over to our goal; he gave us the go ahead to use a well travelled No Trespassing Private gravel road.  Golden.  He seemed to be intrigued by our goal of exploring a link, and the road we were on certainly wasn't incrementally damaged by two bikes.  We've unlocked part of the challenge...

From there it was mixed pavement and gravel back, pretty fast.  Shawn blasted off a Strava quality climb on his mountain bike, but we decided not to upload any routes this go around.  Nice little 3h adventure after the Fondo.

Google Maps is excellent, but can't be relied on in the field once you're out of coverage range - your blue position dot just ends up on a blank space as phones can't download the data behind.  I have some Garmin maps, but they're crap for rural detail.  I've ordered a set of maps that supposedly have near comprehensive detail on secondary/tertiary/forestry/oil and gas roads, plus trails.  Hopefully that allows some more plotting in advance and linking rides.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Banff Gran Fondo 2013

First, ahem, even though they're competitors, I'll give a shoutout to RBC for being a title sponsor.  Great event to sponsor with right message - participation and health, national park bound, consistent with their water sponsorship project, etc.  1,500 people were going to ride a great ride today.

Our preferred corporate lawyers, BD&P invited us out with great hospitality for this year's fondo.  Shawn had the "challenge" of repeating a win for them to justify his "marketing expense", and I in theory was filling Jared's shoes (who was busy this weekend) as a respectable second.  I think we accomplished both...

Signin was efficient yesterday and in a more accessible location.  Lots of riding friends coming and going.  We got some nice swag - a sweet Lululemon hoodie and shirt, some pint glasses, some wine, jersey, all that goodness.  We ended up having quite a late dinner, then crashed hard for the early wakeup.  We missed the group photo, but by the time we got out the front door it was tolerably warm.  I took my warmer gloves back to front desk, as I didn't even think I'd need them for the 3k descent into town.  Cindy and I made it to the licensed racer start block with time to spare, and I ended up leaving my jacket in Drew Bragg's announcer tent - thanks Drew!

It took all of about 4 minutes after the start to separate out the first group.  The Tunnel Mountain climb was hit pretty hard, and that was really it.  The Smart Storage/Mountain Khaki (I'm gonna say SSMK) guys went hard, and rest hung on.  Couple more surges on the out and back near Minnewanka confirmed who was in and out.  Last year I popped early, either because I sucked, or at least partly due to having a full week of Breck Epic steady eddy aerobic zone work in me, but no hard efforts.  This year I had the hard efforts.  I was in and felt fine.

Back through town we made it across before the train came through, and served as test pilots for some of the oddly placed cones that were placed that probably seemed like a good idea to people putting them out, but didn't make sense from a peloton perspective.  We got out to the 1A turnoff, and SSMK called a pee break.  Great.  This seemed like it was going to be sensible, I have no facts on this, but I'd assume the team would say "ride fast enough that you're not in all the sketchy groups, but this isn't our day to hog glory".  That was about right.  They worked hard on the front as the day's average speed shows - 143km and 3:29 official time (2 pee stops inclusive) is 41km/h.  I stayed in the draft, chatted to friends, and still worked hard.

Hooper and I were trucking along having a good chat, good time, and met some others.  I could usually spot Bunnin.  Sometimes Hooper was ahead, sometimes behind... until... Shawn and I were coasting downhill side by side after the Lake Louise turnaround, after the 2nd pee break called at the top of the hill, and were surprised to see Hooper solo time trailing coming towards us.  I only heard at the finish, but turns out he dropped a chain right at the bottom of a hill acceleration, and couldn't then TT back on after the mishap.  Bummer.  But sounds like he got a solid hard-man workout in avoiding being swallowed by the chasers for the rest!

I had accidentally left my new Garmin 510 charging at home, so I had a wristwatch and the course profile sticker they gave us, plus iPhone in back pocket for today's Strava.  Only about 2/3 of the way through did I actually look at the sticker, which befuddled me.  It was printed with the start on the right, finish on the left, for no reason I understand given English speakers spend their whole time reading from left to right.  Anyway, once I figured that out, all I knew was the last couple kickers would be attempts to shed people from the group.  First one I survived fine; second one I was listening to a new acquaintance tell a story, then had to go... I saw Shawn pull left and start accelerating past the SSMK guys and knew he was going to give it a dig.  Instead of being the end of the crack the whip, I hammered right away mirroring to the best of my ability his surge... and survived over the top... just barely.  We were temporarily down to say 12 or 15, but rest caught back on eventually.  The left side of all this action had a couple of rather bewildered bighorn sheep licking rocks.  Cool.

It's at that point I realized there wasn't any climbing of note left, and I felt great.  Bam.  No need to worry about carrying the belly around.  Under the TransCanada, onto the paths, then onto the wider road.  Little gap opened up in front of some guys ahead so I went up and filled it... and didn't feel anyone wanting to come around.  Hmm... I felt fine, I was wondering if a few felt tapped out?

Shawn, an RMCC guy, some of the SSMK guys did hard pulls.  We were moving and it wasn't getting any easier, but I wasn't falling back.  Eventually the SSMK guys seemed to retreat - I think it was their workout day doing the hard paceline stuff, and it probably was deemed "not cool" to show a win when you're the big kids playing the first graders.  Fair enough.  As we came onto Mt. Norquay road, I saw a gap up ahead again, and we were perfect stretched out single file, not a bunch... so moved out, moved up, and slotted in.  Hmm, that felt nice.  Once more.  Saw second last turn coming and had a clean line. Moved around another guy, then decided to take the last turn wide around a guy who was lining up for the inside line.  Glad I did as I then bended even wider when I heard his rear tire give a hop-skip-jump and a bit of gasp from him from the cornering effort.  He slowed from that, I look up, and don't see that many bodies ahead... that's working out well.  75m more of everything I could muster didn't move me in front or behind anyone, yes there's ahead and behind, but we finished as a group within fractions of a second.  I didn't get dropped today - that's fun.  I couldn't tell from my vantage, but Shawn did win the sprint for a repeat!  I'm marked as 7th and 3s back.  That's a good day for this guy, so fun!

We socialized an hour at the end, waited for Cindy and Ashley to come in and tell us about their days, then Cindy and I had to pull the rip cord to go actually make our late check out time from the hotel.

Beautiful weather, beautiful course, not a single speck of gravel on the course, great group to ride with, great snacks/music/barley pop after, everyone who was out there today did a serious dose of winning it was so good.  It's also awesome to ride 3+h and never get out of the drops - that's just a "business time" ride.

Cindy did awesome with a 4:30 finish too, her fastest 140k yet!

Chris Hooper and I looking happy at the start.
Beautiful morning.
1,500 people deep!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Calgary Transit CNG Busses

On my commute in I had the "opportunity" to ride behind 3 different city busses, which was more interesting than one would guess.  They were generationally different, and by coincidence, in improving order which really drove the observation home.

The first was the most dated, a diesel bus who's emissions were not awful 3rd world carbon black, but had sufficient black color to make me wait and let the buss roll off instead of me being right in an exhaust vortex right behind it sucking in emissions.

The second was a more modern diesel.  You could smell the exhaust, and it still wasn't desireable, but there was no black associated with it.  It was fine riding a block behind as there was enough crosswind that the whole vortex behind didn't feel like a travelling gas chamber.

The third was remarkable.  Given the first two, I looked up at the exhaust at the light to check what my strategy would be.  I saw zilch for visible exhaust, just a little heat wave.  Then I saw the sticker on the back - CNG bus.  Quieter.  Virtually unnoticeable exhaust - clear not sooty.  No real exhaust smell.  Really quite amazing.  Being behind it didn't feel like it was instantly grossly polluting my body (I'm sensitive to exhaust, just doesnt' feel like something I want in me, and have always suffered in 3rd world cities, tunnels, our building parkade when everyone leaves and fans can't keep up, etc. where concentrations seem higher).

Calgary Transit operates like 1,100 diesel busses.  They're piloting CNG - cheaper, quieter, will see on drivability and maintenance and range.  But from a road user standpoint, 1,100x the difference I experienced in exhaust quality is amazing... and we're in exactly the right part of the world to have long, stable, cheap access to natural gas.  I hope the operating metrics work out, as these were pleasantly quiet and clean additions to the downtown commute.

If I envision Calgary say a decade out - increased "core" density could be more pleasant than it is today.  I see higher percentages of young people in particular using cruiser bikes as part of transportation.  CNG busses are quieter and cleaner.  The proliferation of hybrid cars damps both emissions and acceleration noise on streets.  A certain number of cars has been displaced by the emergence of Car2Go as a viable part of the transportation mix... we're making strides it seems if these trends continue toward an urban renaissance not urban congestion and decay.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mongolia Bike Challenge packing

Mongolia is a bit further than BC Bike Race or TransRockies, so I've started packing a week in advance for a change.  Someone asked me "do you just bring your bike because they have everything there?"  Well, not really.  I hope they have most stuff there, but hope isn't a strategy.  I try to be practical - light enough to not be burdensome, but thorough enough to do the Boy Scouts proud (even though I never was one).  Let me know if I'm missing something!

Ingredient number 1: Awesome Moots Mooto X YBB.  This bike is intended to improve in every way on my prior travel-racers, and Mongolia is its first big test!

Tool kit as above:
- Wet and dry lube, grease, small bottle bike wash (hands mostly), quality towel, toothbrush, Stans small bottle, backup mini lube bottle for trail, epoxy, loc tite
- Levers, BigAir, pump, extra valve, pressure gauge, 3 tubes, 1 tire, backup inflater, shock pump
- pedals, electric tape, cage, torque wrench, 2nd shower cap, mini headlight, zip ties
- pedals, chainring (smaller 32T vs mounted 34T), brakepads, centerlock to 6 bolt converter ring, S&S wrench, 2 derailleur hangers, chain, extra quick link, brake bolt backs (special to Moots direct mount), cleats, toe spikes, bleed kit, 4, 5mm, crank fixing bolts, Rotor, Centerlock, seat clamp bolt backups, not pictured yet are a couple backup spokes
- Allen keys, Torx wrenches, Leatherman, chain break, crank fixing bolt tool, Petzl Zipka headlamp

In reality I'll trim down a tube or two as of course they'll have those, and I'll pick one oil to save some there.  Bunch of tools can go in the torque wrench case, packaging will come off the brake pads.

Trail kit plus required safety as above:
- BigAir plus inflater, levers, multitool, mini-oil, mini Leatherman, mini pump, patch kit, ziploc, zipties, valve extender, quicklink, derauilleur hanger
- showercap, signal mirror, whistle, space blanket, Petzl E+Lite, 2 by1L water purifier tabs, gauze
- Garmin Oregon GPS + tracks on bike, extra batteries aren't pictured.

Riding clothes:
- 7 kits, socks, couple Icebreaker t-shirts, one mountain bike shoe, helmet, prescription sunglasses (2), regular for wear with contacts, gloves (3)
- rain jacket, rain pants (required), armwarmers, beanie, knee warmers, vest

Pre/post bike kit:
- chamois cream, sunscreen, vitamins, spork/knife, chap stick, after bite, Nuuns, fiber, Robax
- Recovery drink, glutamine, Probars, Cliff bars, Gu chomps, gels, Gatorade, Perpetuem

- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir X Lite 350g, Western Mountaineering 0C 500g sleeping bag
- long johns, wool socks, Icebreaker sweater

- toque, fingerless gloves, MEC Uplink Primaloft hoodie, Gore tex jacket, Carhart pants (err, dungarees as they still call them), old shoes, baggy shorts
- Camelbak All Clear bottle
- Tabasco, cinnamon, powdered ginger, mustard, couple salad dressing plastic packs
- Incipio ATLAS tough/waterproof iPhone case, charger, AA batteries for GPS + charger

- OnSite equipment rubberized duffel, thermometer on zipper, greenbacks

Monday, 19 August 2013

Camelbak All Clear UV system

I'm by no means an experienced back country water filter user, as some people my age have logged half a life's water out of streams and rivers by now.  I'm a new entrant trying to find something that enhances range in my cycling pursuits.  I've now drank 1.5L of treated water - half from a well clearly marked "non-potable" and half from a stream.  I haven't keeled over with stomach illness... good sign.

The Camelbak All Clear is doing a decent job.  Here's what I can say so far:
- it is sold with a plastic clear bottle that is fine for backpack/travel use, but doesn't fit bicycle water bottle cages.  I suspect that Kleen Kanteen cages fit the bigger bottle for what it's worth, not sure that's the best solution, but they measure exactly the same as the Camelbak bottle.
- the packaging says only use that bottle, however in addition to being the "wrong size" for my use, it comes with two tops - the UV light and one that's a screw top and no valve or straw like some other camel back offerings.
- the battery seems to last a long long time, 80 cycles is sufficient to be practical between charges.
- the 60 second cycles are easy and unobtrusive to perform, I fill up either one or two bottles at a time on rides with natural water source as extension.

I've found that the threads of their caps fit Camelbak branded water bottles, so I've used those on cycling trips, instead of trying to find a cage that holds the larger bottle.  To me this is a win.  I can't see how this would detract from the effectiveness of scrambling the DNA of organisms, and I haven't gotten sick yet.  If someone has input on this, let me know.

You have to take some care to not get water from threads into drinking area.  This isn't very difficult.  I carry the UV cap in my jersey pocket with a little bottle of drink mix or fizzy type electrolyte tablets.  My two bottles can go all day therefore in the Rockies where clear drinking water at surface is easy to come by.

The case the UV cap comes in is a nice little neoprene case.  I put it in my back pocket so it doesn't vibrate all day and potentially sustain damage if it were in a case on the bike.

10,000 uses isn't a limiter.  I don't feel judicious about offering others bottles of water.  Perhaps if I carry this thing in pocket, someone else can have an extra tube in one of their pockets for me.  This probably isn't ideal if a group ride of 10 is relying on it, but for a couple buddies it makes sense.

This will accompany me to Mongolia and Nepal next spring.  It strikes me as ideal for casual or campsite travel as well, such as hotels/cities with clear water taps but perhaps you want to zap it before drinking (Mexico?).

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bragg Creek Roubaix

Shawn called a great ride idea out of Bragg for Sunday a d by departure time on Sunday morning when Shawn and I carpooled out, Pat Dodge and Devin had driven out to join.  Devin didn't totally have the plan communicated properly but had enough that we lured him in the opposite direction of what he pictured for about 90 minutes.  After heading north from Bragg we turned on the gravel township road just south of the TransCanada.  Generically we're heading to what's over to the left.  I vowed to take pictures roughly every 20k.
We crossed the TransCanada up into the Towers Trail valley then climbed west toward the big gas plant, then up and out towards where Sibbald Trail meets the TransCanada. 
Brief parallel to TransCanada - yuck. So busy and not about the solace of riding gravel. 
Sibbald was a bit dusty, not as loose as the first bits, and nearing us to Powderface which can be seen Center background. We all rode smooth tires, 28-30mm. Gravel is a state of mind more than and equipment fest. Just a few kilometres from here is Dawson trailhead which was first water stop. Instead of bottles galore I brought a Camelbak All Clear to UV treat the non-potable water.  I broke the rules right away and used it on a water bottle as the one they sell it with doesn't fit a cage. I have a feeling I won't die. 
Powderface was just beauty packed gravel and still closed from the floods so car free, scenic heaven.  This was the high point of Powderface according to Shawn's watch. 
The super climbers let me ahead for this photo. 
Cresting another climb all to ourselves!
After a detour to Big Elbow for another water fill, we were on smooth pavement for the highway 66 climb with this top photo then a fast rip to Bragg Creek for patio lunch. 
Strava says 130km, 1,900m, and 5h of moving time fun outside our water stops. Max speed 88.9!  This is an absolutely great semi remote gravel ride, Shawn thanks for the gem!  Not much of the world is paved, riding pavement feels so limiting when we have this.  It's actually a bonus right now that Powderface is closed.  This thing is classic, it should be an annual!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

City mountain bike loop with Cindy

Out through Edworthy, COP, Old Banff Coach Road, Valley Ridge to the chair and beyond, back on Sideshow Bob. 
Cindy loved the Valley Ridge trails and really rode well today. 
Beauty day to be out in the Bow Valley. So easy to do a 4h door to door loop. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Moots Mooto X YBB 29er 2013 review and initial impressions

At long last the new Moots Mooto X YBB 29er has arrived... I'm very excited after the initial inspection and ride.  I say "at long last" because I've anticipated it for a long time, but in reality, they executed on the timeline they promised on and everything went quite smooth, so there wasn't any delay.  Mongolia is coming up soon!
First, the intent was for a simple, elegant, yet robust workhorse travel bike.  An older MootsMooto X YBB 29er and a Lynskey were sacrificed and passed on to new owners for this!

Parts of that will take time to evaluate, but we're on the right track. It's simple - one shifter on 1x11 setup, basic suspension without bar mounted controls, simple cable routing with full housing.  ~23lbs vs. 20lbs for the Cannondale Flash (I'm gonna say a proportion of that is tires, 2.25" Racing Ralphs with Snakeskin front and back) gets a little suspension (1 1/8" in the rear) and the ability to carry in a small box, plus some improved impact resistance (ti is tough) and a little more travel/more silky travel in the Fox fork vs. the 90mm Lefty.  Elegance is subjective but I like Moots' finish and the uncomplicated design.  Their welds are incomparable.


Craig, Shawn and I test rode out through COP, over to Valley Ridge and back in on Sideshow Bob.  The reality is, this bike isn't good at keeping up with them... oh wait, that's not the bike's fault.  1x11 with a 34t up front covered the paved downhills fine - we were doing roadie speeds and eventually spun out, but entirely functional for mountain biking.  It also let me grunt up all the steep Valley Ridge trails too, so I'm happy on that.  Drivetrain feels solid and is silent, Chris King PF30 hopefully will keep that true over time.  If the prior Moots was any indication, this should hold up well over time.  Frame improvements are a PF30 BB, tapered head tube, geometry for 100mm fork, oversize seat tube to increase BB welding areas/diameters, and clearance from the curved down tube.  The front end feels stiff (15mm thru axle, Fox 32 Float 100mm, tapered head tube, Ritchey Super Logic carbon 260 stem and Ritchey bar, and wheels that just don't get stiffer in the Enve XC 29ers) and responsive, the bike has a nice geometry.  It was fun swooping along the Sideshow Bob trails, stopping is top notch with XTR trail brakes - I haven't felt anything better to displace these as my brake of choice.  The rear grabs traction well, feels alive, without feeling wasteful.  I'll probably need to switch away from a setback post, but that's about it for changes.

I spent a bunch of time up front thinking about how many bolts I had to undo to pack my prior S&S bikes, and made effort to minimize on this one.  Rear brake will be unbolted, couple zip ties cut, derailleur unbolted and couple zip ties cut, and SRAM quick link undone basically seperates the back end.  Seatpost, pedals, and stem cap/side cinch bolts.  Wheels.  That's really it, should be a snap!

I debated going with a Lefty, and there's a few bits left one could weight weenie, but in reality, I wanted simple, standard, utilitarian and tough... but elegant.  These are parts that should stand up in Mongolia and Nepal, and other as of yet unplanned adventures, and if they don't, should be reasonably commercially available.  Seeking adventures.  Have bike.  Here we come!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Ride to Conquer Cancer day 2

We got up mostly on time, but missed the start by about 5 minutes, which was fine as we were on a quiet road aiming south of Okotoks to start, with a gentle climb. Clear and just the right temperature for armwarmers off the start. I climbed that at a moderate pace, then could see down from the hill the first groups. Spent the next half hour TT'ing on to the front 3. Turns out they weren't ridng fast, they just left early. We rode to Turner Valley together, where they stopped for a washroom break and pretty full breakfast. I stood at the entrance to the aid stop waiting for a group to come by as solo is a bit pointless on a ride like this, I'm not that determined to go fast to go alone and be antisocial, I just want to balance between Mongolia training and socializing with others that are out for this good cause. Hitched on to a group of 5 that stayed together until "lunch" stop at like 9:15 at the bottom of the Leighton arts center climb. The volunteers pointed us only that way, not giving an option up the climb. I went down, got a bottle, made some chit chat, and was confused, as I thought up the climb was the route. It was, and later people were going straight, but they wanted us to go to lunch when we came through there (even though it wasn't ready yet - funny). I went back up to the intersection and got to the guys at the new front on the climb. 3 of us grouped up and rode in the rest of the way together. We all had stories from people we each knew who knew each other, so nice to string it together. Made it through Glenmore park paths, man there's going to be a lot of congestion and unhappy people from 1,700 riders being jammed through there. Three of us finished together - then Cindy was only about 10 minutes back (she didn't stop at all).  Very impressive.  She has fun as she knows she can draft, or work up to a group alone instead of having to stay in a group, as she knows she has the energy to not fade in that distance.

Great event, great weather!  Not so sure what happened with last year's venue (Spruce Meadows), but running people through the city on the way out, Glenmore park on the way back seemed suboptimal.

Ride to Conquer Cancer day 1

Dry, sunny, warm and beautiful. Great speeches from Enbridge, a very eloquent Tsuu T'ina elder, the RTCC organizers, a survivor, and Mayor Nenshi to remind us why we're all here - life, community and society interacting and helping each other. $7.5mm raised in total, and we're the 4th team at a little under $200k, much credit to our friends and clients at Parex. Did pictures in the morning with the FirstEnergy Road Rockets, the Foo Fighters, and of course Lynne and Wayne Foo. She's so happy to see everyone rallying around.

Cindy and I started next to each other, but with her jets and random talking with clients and friends and random other riders and stoplights I didn't see her again until between the traffic circle and Redwood Meadows. We rode together for a while, and about that point the 1,700 people fervor and initial gusto was starting to die down, and I decided I wanted to just pedal a solo not a group pace. It's not a race, but it's open roads, they have my money already, and with Mongolia a few weeks out I just set myself at a good tempo (the SRM tells me its zone 3). That's enough to go group of 3-5 up to next group of 3-5 basically intermittently for the next 90k to the finish, as I'd say hi to groups, chat, then go up to next one. Felt really nice pedaling, really nice thinking time, really nice just feeling healthy and with vigor to pedal a bike - some aren't so lucky. There were a lot of little inspirational signs on the side of the road, like "earn the downhill" kind of thing on the climbs. My favourite was "chuck norris didn't even ride 200k in a weekend".

There were a few bikes in when I finished, but not many. A couple groups hit the gas right from the start. But more importantly as we chatted, showered, ate, socialized people kept streaming in. Like for 5+ hours after I rolled in. People with friends and families and posters; people for whom this was a real stretch, a real stick the neck out, and a real accomplishment. All sizes, all ages, and a lot of yellow survivor flags whipping in the wind. That's great.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Priddis training

Cindy and I did about 100 miles spread over two days to help her get out of TransRockies work mode and into riding mode again. Beautiful terrain, showers threatening both days, but lots of hills and steady pedaling. Parking in Priddis and being able to ride bits of gravel sure open up miles and miles of great terrain.