Friday, January 31, 2014

Chilcotins: Hike a Biking for the Rewards

Someone once told me that it wasn't worth the time and effort to spend hours hike a biking in the Chilcotins. This person was fit, had a light bike and rides regularly. The simple fact was they would rather pedal their bike than take it for a walk. That's understandable, we all prefer to be on our bikes riding. But the Chilcotins wouldn't be the Chilcotins without some hike a biking and having been a regular visitor for the past ten years, I say the rewards far outweigh the sweating, the grunting and the cursing involved in pushing a bike up a mountain.

Above the Tyaughton trail

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Goodbye, For Now!

Well friends, it's been fun. However, much as I like to say that mountain biking is my life, I must admit to the fact that it's not an entirely true statement. As those of you that have clicked the “about the author” page for me will know, I'm currently going through my undergrad degree. Right now, I am in my second-to-last term of University and am, as you've no doubt guessed, ridiculously busy.

So where does that leave us, readers? Well, at this point my plan is to take a brief hiatus from TMTBL writing, and attempt to get my life under control (and, you know, do all that boring stuff like pass courses and get a degree). Assuming everything works out as intended, you will be hearing from me sooner rather than later! I am also planning to put some time in behind-the-scenes for all of the fantastic people I've been working with over this last year – this blog is sort of like Hotel California, sometimes. Even when I have other things I definitely should be doing, I can't help but to read through everyone's adventures (somewhat vicariously, as it's been grey and rainy for who-knows-how-long up here).

I sincerely hope you've enjoyed reading my posts as much as I have writing them. Ride hard, stay safe (but not too safe), all that jazz – and remember, WD-40 is NOT a substitute for oil!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wolf Tooth 30t Drop Stop Chainring - Long Term Review

These past few years we have seen a lot of change in the mountain biking world, new wheel sizes, dropper posts, better suspension designs (does anyone even make a bad bike anymore?), clutch derailleurs and then there is the latest piece of  the gear puzzle, the narrow wide chain ring.

If you have been under a rock or out actually riding your bike for the past year, what makes these chainrings different than the rest is the design of the teeth. Every other tooth is fatter than the one next to it. While SRAM may have started this trend with their awesome XX1 drivetrain, it has really taken off with everyone from Chromag, Race Face and others jumping on the money train. One of the first companies to release a 30t 104 BCD narrow/wide chainring was Wolf Tooth Components. But the real question is, do they work or are they just hype? Is this just another ploy to separate us from our hard earned money? Read on to find out what I found during my time on the Wolf Tooth 30t 104 BCD chainring.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pages about Pedaling

Its still mighty damp round here, I know plenty of guys getting out on the trails but I have to say riding in seriously boggy conditions really doesn't float my boat unless I absolutely have to. As I've mentioned before I believe that part of the responsibility of being a biker is trail maintenance and seriously wet natural trails can get badly damaged by heavy use. Add to the this the heavy toll in terms of maintenance time and cost that very muddy conditions throw up and you'll find my winter MTB calendar looks a little slim right now. So with only occasional trail centre rides propped up with weights, a bit of running and road bike pedaling this is the perfect time of the year to take some skills/training/technique advice. So why not curl up in a cozy nook with your favourite book? Here are three that I've revisited several times.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Buy an Experience not Gear

The middle of winter is an interesting time for a mountain biker. In the Pacific Northwest, rides are usually limited to the weekend, when its not pouring rain and the occasional evening night ride. Thoughts are usually focused on what new bike shwag is coming out, eagerly anticipating the Bike Magazine Bible of Bike Tests.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

10 Videos to Help You Through Winter

Are you suffering from a lack of riding and too much cold weather? Don't worry, you aren't alone. Luckily there is no snow where I live, however we are suffering from a nasty drought here in California. Anyways, here are some of my favorite videos from over the years to get you stoked until the snow thaws. Click on the bold text and the video will play in a separate window.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Remember when you were a kid and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? A Firefighter, a Policeman, a Cowboy and an Astronaut is what I typically answered with and not always in that order. Today I’m a Mechanical Designer. Never in a million years would I have answered that when I was five years old. I didn’t even know what designing was. But one thing I did know was I liked to build things, all sorts of things…and that’s where it all began.

Just messing around during lunch. I found a model of this wheel and rotor online, added the 2, 1, and 4 using Pro/ENGINEER, and rendered in Keyshot

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Sucks!

Normally I try to make the best of winter and ride as much as possible. This year I even had my new SS converted winter bike ready to go. So what has gone wrong? Life can really throw you some curve balls when you don’t expect it. My first ride of the year on my new winter setup took me for a little spill. Remember my entry on crashing? Well I need to add a section to that about approaching ice without your studded tires on. Yeah it didn’t go too well.

Accident Scene

Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Projects and Upgrades

After the trip to Florida and the fiasco of getting back to Kingston. And of course all the million and one things that need to get done. It was time to put together the short list of projects and one build for 2014. And to keep things doable am keeping the non trail building project list down to four currently.

So to begin will be what I mentioned previously with  Gravel Grinders and Change, it was time for change. The frame arrived and this week the build will commence. Currently will be built with wheels, brakes, and drive train I already have.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Are You a Picky Rider?

A recent (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, since it happened almost a year ago) Pinkbike poll asked a really interesting question, I thought: how picky are you, with regards to your bike’s setup? It was one of the few times I’ve been there and actually had to stop and think about my answer a bit – I mean, where would you rank yourself? Are you super picky, needing to go over every inch of your machine with a fine-toothed comb (or toothbrush, if we’re going to be appropriately metaphorical) before and after every ride? Or, maybe you’re the guy that, as Mike at Pinkbike wrote, doesn’t bother fiddling because you’re just so damn happy to get out and get on?

Sometimes, I wind up heading out on a ride with a bike cleaner than I am!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Our Tracks - Jan 2014

"Where have you been riding over the last couple of weeks?"

Our authors come from all over the world.  When I posed that question to them, the variety of the answers amazed me.

On this diverse planet, at any given time, mountain bikers are leaving tracks in myriads of different places.  Over the coming weeks, we'd like you to submit a photo, a short paragraph, and (optionally) a link or track-log with more info about the ride.

We'll share your stories here.

Read on to see some of our responses! 

Tyre Tracks
"Dust on May Road", Neil Ennis

Monday, January 13, 2014


It should be winter here in Gingerville. It should be all clear, crisp, frosty dawns. Breath steaming in the quiet morning air. The winter sun should be glinting off of frosted, firm winter trails like something from a chocolate box scene. It should. It most certainly isn't but it should. No, Mr. J. Frost has obviously decided to take a sabbatical and mother nature has hastily replaced him with brothers Damp and Moist and their never ending supply of precipitation. This causes all kinds of headaches for the pedaling masses, and no problem is properly resolved without some creative thinking......

Definitely a couple of clicks past moist here in the SW of England at present...... Wetter than an otters pocket. Photo copyright Richard Austin

Friday, January 10, 2014

JVC ADIXXION Camera: Preview

Recently I was gifted the JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION Action Camera.  For a popular frame of reference, it's very similar to the GoPro.  I've only been able to test it on one ride, which was actually the stickiest mud I've ever had the displeasure of trudging through.  So, my video is more a testament to video quality than longtime durability or varied features.  Check out the video and watch for flying specks of mud throughout!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

10 Things I Learned in 2013

Even though we are already well into the new year, I would like to point out ten things I learned last year. Since this is my first post this year, I thought I would reflect on my year and share some of my knowledge. Scope the list below and make 2014 the best year ever!

1. Try Different Disciplines
I am not a mountain biker; I am a cyclist. One thing you can do to throw some variety into your rides is try a different riding style. Never ridden downhill before? Check out a resort. Last year I tried Enduro racing, Cyclocross racing, and road riding in addition to my standard Cross Country and Downhill riding.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

No Time to Ride...Where Does the Time Go?

Lately it seems I've had no time to ride, no time for myself...and that makes me crazy. I haven't been on the bike in a while, actually I am not sure when I was on the bike last. I think it was a few weeks ago in the Albany Pinebush. It's January and much of the capital region of upstate NY is covered in snow and ice. The polar vortex has handed us some seriously cold weather. It's 6 degrees F outside right now but it feels like -10. Is that why I haven't ridden? Yeah it's cold but I think with the right kit it would be bearable. I've got studded tires and have ridden during the winter in previous years. No, that's not it. I don't feel like I am doing much. Well then where does all my time go?

My last ride was at the Albany Pinebush was on Dec. 24th

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DIY: Wheel Truing Stand

If you are looking for a wheel truing stand that you may use 1 to 2 times per year you may not want to invest big bucks in one. There are a number of ways to use your bike as a truing stand with some zip ties or tape, but that isn’t very precise. I had been using an old fork as my truing stand, but that only works for front wheels. For the rear I had an old frame I would use with an old rim brake as the guide. Again this is fine for getting a wheel pretty straight, but not perfectly straight. For my new 650b wheels I wanted to get them perfect so I decided to build my own truing stand. I set mine up to accommodate 26, 27.5, 29 and 650c wheels, plus front and rear hubs. Here is how it is done:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

All Work and No Play Makes For Quite a Dull Day

 Why do we always try (or, at least, talk about trying) to push ourselves, every single ride? Now, I know that with the New Year having just passed, many of you will have all sorts of resolutions like “I’ll hit that rock garden at least 50% faster than I did last time!” Maybe you’ll tell yourself that you’re not going to give up and walk up the hill that you always have trouble with. Shoot, you might even resolve to drink less beer so you don’t have to justify riding up all those hills! Just keep in mind, all of you, that if you’re turning your rides into work, they won’t be nearly as fulfilling as they once were.

It's like the mountain bike version of stopping to smell the roses!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Favourite Photos of 2013

I am no photographer by any stretch, but I do enjoy taking photos and once in a while they turn out okay. Here are some of my favourites (at least the ones I could find) that I took last year. Not all biking related, and not all great photos but the memories that go along with them are great. All the photos below were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S3 Phone, takes decent images and I don't have to pack around extra gear...that's a win! Click on any of the photos if you want to see a larger version.