Saturday 30 November 2013


Pre Christmas party spin up the Minnewanka road today!

Monday 25 November 2013

Mini-moon tandem! (disc brakes on tandems)

This tandem is amazing.  Cindy loves it because its a tandem and it features non-greasy chain drivetrain, a bluetooth speaker, and our Mr. and Mrs. signs.  I love it for all that too, but the Rohloff, stiff frame and great handling are amazing.  
The photo below is the top of Alta Laguna. Steep climb hitting 17% at points and in the sun. Nice climb. Range Rover mean time between sightings was about 30 seconds. Note for way down: right now I'm equipped with an XT hydraulic front brake, with the Ice Tech cooling fins on the pad, and a steel (non-Ice Tech) 200mm rotor; the rear is a 200mm steel rotor that is Rohloff specific and Avid cable pull rear caliper. The contribution to braking from the rear is actually pretty small - compressionless housing might help, but in my little neighbourhood hill test at the place we were staying, with me riding solo, the rear couldn't stop me just slow me down. Doing long steep descents needs real brakes. We did an extended California climb and descent, and boiled the brake fluid at one point on the overworked XT. They're still better at heat managment than virtually anything out there, but 300lbs (two riders plus add to that the bike is say 35lbs), a several kilometer descent with grades between 12 and 18% is a brake torture test. But that's also when you need them most so you don't meet the hood of a Range Rover at the next 4 way intersection.

I'm going to Shimano Saint front and back, and an Ice Tech rotor up front. I'm open to other suggestions from riders, mechanics or tandemers, but that's my understanding of what's powerful, suitable at dealing with heat, and still world available to an extent as every shop has Shimano capabilities (if not pure DH brake work in 3rd world, at least they've seen Shimano product). I don't understand how tandems worked before high power disc brakes. These things need a lot of stopping power.

Laguna observations

We went for a half hour run this morning.  My body was in a state of confusion that aerobic activity without rubber clad circles was occurring, but I toughed it out.

The most notable observation other than coastal beauty was cars.  There are absolutely fantastic vehicles here, and then there aren't.  In this area the weighting seems to be to the upper end of the division.  Our accommodation comes with a supercharged Range Rover to make it  to Albertson's which is a 3 minute walk away.

Interestingly enough, we ended up also running through some canyon drive on the other side of the highway, we did hills through a trailer park.  It was a very nice one, I don't think the structures ever move, so they were landscaped nice.  But they too had Cadillacs, Range Rovers, Porsches, Lexus and Benz's in the driveways.

Is this symbolic of poor priority by "investing" in depreciating assets first and low allocation to more permanent capital investments?  Is it those who fell out during the crash and had to move here?  Or is it positive - those who make smart allocations because vehicles last "forever" in this climate therefore a different view on depreciation is incorporated and it's de rigueur to look good?  Or positive that people want this postal code/climate but won't pay the established prices for the locations?

Sunday 24 November 2013

Laguna beach

There's been a spike in our ability to relax!

Bakke Wedding

Well, that was awesome. Everyone we live in ine place, great ceremony, great food, then somehow all that got elevated into a class 5 tornado on the dance floor till closing time.  Thanks all our friends for coming out and celebrating with us!

Saturday 23 November 2013

To-do list

1.  Drink coffee at Cadence.
2.  Ride bikes.
3.  Get married!

Now all I have to do is nap/eat/clean house and reasonably beautify myself and show up on time!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Sunday 17 November 2013

Winter riding is here

It's been a brisk weekend.  As always though, there's no such thing as bad weather, just inadequate clothing.

Saturday Kate, Double Bunnin and I got in about 3 hours in the city.  Sunday I got up earlier to pick up the bike box pictured below from Kate - and the whole way to her house the car thermometer read -19 or -20.  Kate didn't seem to be bothered one way or another, of course doing great justice to the whole Norwegian born above the arctic circle thing.

I got dressed and rode back to Cadence as quick as I could - this is good testing for some of my new clothes for Nepal.  I wore same as I did yesterday but with the Gore Alp-X pants over my other outfit, some booties, and an extra sweater.  By the time I got there, everyone else other than her had bailed.

All in we did about 5 hours.  But I wasn't sure if the Gore tex clad companion for the day was Kate or not, I couldn't see a single bit of skin showing.  I actually think it was a Norwegian snow biking super hero(ine) with a mild accent that's Kate's weekend alter ego.  We had planned to go to Cochrane, but a co-worker of hers called with some issue that made us stop and do some calls from Tuscany Starbucks. I'll need to remember that's the only thing that slows her down and pay one of her co-workers to bail me out sometime when she's motoring along.  We did some of the north roads then back down the ravine.  I did a consistent job of praying to stay on a wheel, but didn't succeed.  Climbs, headwinds, technical snow tracks, etc, I was just schooled.  Good thing is another 8h this weekend of snow and ice riding on 35mm Racing Ralphs prove studs aren't a winter requisite, neither are fat tires, and after a decade of doing this, I've never fallen to injury riding a bike other than 5 seconds of inattention on smooth dry pavement.  Go figure.

Two days in a row I needed a nap on the couch after riding with Gunther.  She doesn't mind at all.  I've been doing some intensity, but not these longer endurance rides, and not these cold ones that suck innumerous extra calories out of your body.  3h later I feel like the house is a sauna.

Of all the things that concern me about the Yak Attack - altitude, water quality, heat on the first days actually register as concerns.  Knowing how to bike for half a day in frigid weather, dress for it, stay upright on snow… not top of the concern list.

Tandem travel

Sturdy bike for two in here. Really quite simple.  Four Allen key sizes (3, 4, 5, 8), one coupler wrench, one mini pump and some Velcro padding and old towels.

Friday 15 November 2013

Gunther is back

Gunther's naked calisthenics on the bathroom floor every morning and her staring at you in the shower would be considered creepy and peeping tom like if she were something other than a little fluff ball.  I'm glad you're able to ward off the dehydrating effects of having your water bowl in a different part of the house by obsessively licking water drops left over in the shower. 

Monday 11 November 2013

Arm update

Last week I got another x ray, I forgot to take a picture of it.  It's got the webbing healing stuff happening around the bone.  So what did the doctor say besides come back for a last x ray later so we can make sure it went together well?  You know how those guys are… he said take advantage of the frozen snow/slush/ice and sleet on the roads and try to get in at least 6 hours of road and trail riding without studded tires.  I did and feel great, except for being tired.  I feel a little swelling in the elbow, but it's mostly fine moving around, and my mind doesn't seem to have any lingering fear of slippery sections.  This was actually some of the nicest road, the snow had lots of traction.

Sunday 10 November 2013


It's a fact.  KISS might be able to Rock 'n Roll All Night and Party Every Day, but I can't.  Trying is fun though!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Land Rover Defender 90

Enter my "new" Land Rover Defender 90.

Recall my first criteria was "don't get stuck".  Now of course I meant just being able to drive in Calgary in the winter… and I think we have that and much more covered now.
Some see ugly, some see crude. I see beauty in simplicity. What needs to be there is, and frivolity has not been added even as the world has become saturated in extras. This was designed before auto cad programs, before even rudimentary computing.  Globally, the current Defender series is to cease production in 2015 as these workhorses are being legislated against in countries that demand more standards... yuck.  Why the allure?  Yes, they've helped colonize the world, carry gear, plow fields, etc.  They don't get stuck.  They don't change - if it ain't broke don't fix it.  They don't pander to yearly updates, creature comforts, fad or style.  I've now pledged allegiance to the same queen who oversaw these deployed to Indonesia, India, half Africa, Australia, etc. to explore, rule and supply the colonies.

Some stats:
- 4x the clearance of the M Coupe (10 inches axle, 13 inches underbody minimum);
- Less than one third one third of the horsepower out of the little turbo diesel (111hp, 195 lb-ft of torque, city 25mpg, highway 30mpg, so not a gas guzzler!);
- These are quoted at 51 degrees of approach angle without a winch.

It drives like a brute.  It is capable of 100km/h, perhaps even 120 if pushed, but it needs all 5 gears and about a half minute to do so. Does it have power doors and windows?  Let's just say you need powerful arms to operate them. How about cabin noise at highway speed?  What?  Sorry I couldn't hear you.  Cruise control?  It really depends on how steady you hold your foot.  How about driving over snowy Rogers pass? I've never felt a vehicle as utterly indifferent to the outside world as this one. It has traction. It's a tank - semi's blow by on undivided highways in the other lane and I don't even remotely feel that air pressure buffeting. It's stiff and solid on the road.

But let's skip words to illustrate this, as I found some amusing videos, as they tell much more of capability than a one page text spec sheet they're sold with.  They really don't let much stop them, whether it's:



Steep ascents.

Steep descents.

Steep descents and steep ascents.

More importantly for Calgary, snow.

High incline grades and other difficult obstacles.

Despite their low HP engines (2.5L turbo diesel 111hp) they do generate enough torque, and do put it to the ground well.  Although I think this is a bit off given I can't see the Dodge having 4WD engaged, it's still interesting.  These guys don't seem concerned of tire or transmission maintenance costs.

Now of course, I don't need all of this.  I also don't need a garage full of bikes, or a big townhouse for 2 people.  What I do apparently need is to feed the love of Tonka like trucks I had as a kid - funny how those things never die. 

This particular specimen came from Spain and was imported right at the Canadian 15 year exemption to current standards limit.  I've spoken to the mechaninc in Vancouver who did initial work for the importing client, and he said Spainish and Portuguese ones come with least rust and best condition vs. British or German or Polish ones, etc.

Which comes to criteria 2.  I hopefully will really not get stuck for under $20,000.  Plus I now own a unique little example of history, as they've been in production for 68 years.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Kamloops trip

The new vehicle is in Kamloops. After two weeks of email questions, photos, service record reviews, and two seperate mechanical inspections (mild miscommunication but good in the end) I've come out for a go/no go look on one of Cara's buddy passes.

The mechanics had pointed out nits of not significant remedial cost and both had said "better condition than thought when we saw what vehicle was booked in". To pass a BC registry inspection it needs a rear back up light bulb that's burnt out, the front wheel bearing bolts were tightened up, a new pitman arm and that's all.  Hopefully the Alberta out of province one doesn't hold me ransom. 

The lady I'm dealing with has a boyfriend that has two of this vehicle, and he's turned his focus to the other. She's helpful and nice, and has filled etherize of talking to a guy about mechanical things and shuttling it about well. He's in India motorcycling.  Like me with bikes, their living room has a 1200 cc BMW off-road touring bikes awesome. They're about a decade older and he's had the wake up call with brain cancer and is fitting in all he can. They found my work bio page and thought the Road Rockets were commendable in our efforts. 

Anyway, she left the interior lights on after the mechanic trip and drained the battery then panicked I'd be mad as she only noticed when she was going to drive to the airport to pick me up. She drove her own car so we got home and tried to boost it. This first meant locating the battery (turns out it's under driver seat), then took a while to figure out how to turn off the vehicle security immobilized so that it actually didn't think it was being stolen. Then battery was too dead so we hooked it up to a charger and went to Boston Pizza.  Started it up after and drove around for an hour, got some diesel. 

It was too late to do anything so I slept in the basement suite of a Sandman overlooking a parking lot. 

Woke up and had coffee at Denny's.
When the outside world looked like this.