Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sham-Balla Tour

^^ click on the pic for deets... ^^
(Below is Tpick's account of his trip to the Kooteney's.  
Seven passes.  Nice. - Editor)
I have a friend who was getting married in Creston, so I decided that it would be an idea to ride my bike there. I found out that my friend Lyle was also heading that direction in a vehicle, that week to visit his family, so I decided not to ride to Creston. Getting a ride in the Lylevan was a pretty appealing idea, as I just wanted to ride bikes and didn't really have a plan. Lyle and I drove out to Rosemont, seeing many shamballa's along the way. I may have missed out on Shambala, but that wasn't gonna stop me from continuing with the party. Rave to the grave! We stopped in Osoyoos to jump in the lake and check out the latest bikinis on our way. Up to this point, I was pretty happy to be hooning around in a van, and not riding a bicycle. The bikes in the back of the van were enjoying the ride so far too. I particularily liked the Lode King truck. That guy was bad ass, and was passing everyone, holding a perfect line with two trailers. Most of the truck drivers we saw looked like they were sexting as they swerved over the rumble strip to get that bitch on vibrate. Arriving at Lyle's family house was good and his family treated me to a comfy bed, tasty food and concerns about my ride over the Salmo-Creston pass. 

Preparty Day 1: Lyle and I ride out to Salmo together. It was good to have the Lyletrain out there. After coffee, Lyle took me to the bottom of the hill and said goodbye. I made it into Creston-Lister that day.

151(Bacardi)kms. 23.5km/h Ave. 6:30h riding time.
Kootenay Pass Summit 1774m

Preparty Day 2: Biked out to Riondel along Kootenay Lake. A nice rolling ride with plenty of places to stop. Had lunch in Crawford Bay, where I found out there is a broom maker that made the brooms for Harry Potter (if that means anything). I had "I think we're alone now" stuck in my head for the journey. 

215kms. 27km/h ave. 8h riding time.

Stag Party Day 3: Hiked up a mountain for a stag and got wasted. Fell down a slab of rock, because I tripped on something and wasn't wearing a headlamp to see where I was going. Smashed up my leg and got a contusion on my right quad and whatever that muscle is on the outside of the leg between the ankle and the calf. I thought this would probably be the end of my tour days

Sham-Balla Recovery Day 4: Hiked down the mountain, drank beer. Iced my leg lots.

Wedding Day 5: Went to Khaled and Nadine's wedding. It was a very awesome ceremony, on top of a mountain. The barn dinner/party was fun and I danced so much I got a bruise on my foot. Had a bunch of drinks to keep the Sham-Balla in me alive and got to bed at 2am.

Sham-Balla Tour Day 6: Woke up at 6am, not enough sleep and hungover. Biked from Creston to Grand Forks. The last pass was a total bitch. It just kept going and going. Three passes in total.

231kms. 23.7km/h ave. 9:45h riding time
Summits: Kootenay Pass Summit 1774m, Bombi Summit 1214m, Paulson Summit 1535m.

Sham-Balla Tour Day 7: Biked from Grand Forks to Princeton. Good day over all, despite the headwind all the way in to Princeton after climbing out of Grand Forks. I had the chorus of a song that I've written in my head that goes "I just wanna have sex with you." Saw a dead bear, a live bear, dead dear all over the place and a bunch of long horned sheep. Stayed at the princeton motel. They have one tiny room that goes for $45.

245kms. 24.25km/h ave. 10:06h riding time. 
Eholt Summit, Anarchist Summit 1233m

Sham-Balla Tour Day 8: Biked from Princeton to Vancouver. Head wind all the way to Abbotsford. The wind was so bad around the Hope slide area, I actually called someone to see if they could pick me up in Hope, but noone answered. When you're going 30km down a steep hill pedaling it's the most unmotivational thing in the world. There were times where I was riding down a hill getting blown all over the place trying to hold 12 km/h. When I got into Hope, I called my Mom and asked her what the wind was doing in the valley. She said some numbers and I thought, ok I can do this, so I ended up riding back to Vancouver. I hammered from Abbotsford to Vancouver. When I was getting close to home, I noticed that my trip time was nearing 12 hours, so I tried to beat the clock. Hastings is pretty awesome at night when you can keep up with cars. In the end I missed the timeline by 5 minutes.

299.98km (I rode up half the block just to roll over 300 km), 24.8km/h ave,12:05h riding time
Sunday Summit 1282m, Allison Pass: 1342m

Sham-Bahonourable mentions: 
Khaled and Nadine for inviting me to Creston, without that I would never have biked. Lyle for Lyletext support. Shane for inspiring me to grab life by the balls. Shambala, for bringing out the balla in me. James for introducing me to the 28 cog. Sugar and Coffee and Beer. Sham-Balla Road Grime. Brrrrrrrraaappp Brraapp Braaappp!!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Figure 8 Velodrome

Check out the interesting concept by Charles Wagner.  
It's not quite the crazy figure-eight courier race track 
(Luxodrome - really?) but it sure would be fun to ride.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Berry's Island Touring

(Everybody is summer touring!  Below is Nick's trip to the Island.  Excellent and hilarious - Editor)

This August, I saw an open window in my schedule, so I said 'fuck it!' The Island is somewhere I've not been to enough, and it's south end has no major passes compared to the rest of BC and therein lay some appeal. I went alone. Anyone less and the trip might not have happened.

There's this Crammerotti touring bike in the shed with a compact drive train (12/25 x 34/48) that I use for commuting. I was thinking wishfully this would be satisfactory. Satisfaction sure is subjective. I swapped out the corny Gossamers for these stiffer RaceFace cranks, still only doubles though. I don't think a new, bigger, cassette would have meshed and I really didn't want to put any $ into the thing more than I had to so it stayed that way. It has these Aksium wheels that barely barely barely stood fast under the 98 weakling-ing lbs of the fully loaded rig. I also put new tires on before leaving - some kenda semi-slick 32mm jobbies. They did a trick.

Perception is hilarious on a bike that heavy, you can be rolling along feeling like a fucking champ and look down to see the speedo reading 24 km/h. Four passengers and no one did any work but me. I kept yelling at my panniers to pull through but was met with deaf ears, definite language barrier. I began to think of my bike as an old wind up toy that gave great returns on energy.. sometimes. Other times it was a starry dynamo with a wet flint. City accelerations were glacial. And if I wanted speed to keep over rolling country sides I'd channel Edvald Boassen-Hagen in a sprint and punch the pedals striaight without the bike swaying.

A small fear about a rusty hair of a crack under the weld where the fork crown met the steerer tube could not be quelled. I went to soup champ to see what hey had for me the day before leaving and ended up putting a downtube shifter on as the 105 brifter died en route. I concluded, and I might add, under absolutely no endorsement of the furrowed brow of the establishment, that the bike was indeed sound. Days later as I sped down washboard roads until the rattle became a hum I wondered if the panniers could make for good air bags. Helmet, always wear your hell mate.

Cycling is perhaps the most wholesome way to punish oneself. The under gearing of the gears there and the over gearing of my camp equipment made for me, personally, the most severe case of self flagellation I've bothered to endure on a bike. It's when you're going up a steep incline so slowly a fraction less speed and you might tip over that you start question the wisdom of bringing your favorite one-egger. You stare at your steaming shadow as cars whizz by oblivious to your effort; stomping so slowly it becomes less like riding a bike and more like time served on a stairmaster. I don't think I've paper-boyed so hard as i did that week. Once and only once did I push my bike on foot, okay maybe twice. But if the Garmin reads 20%, it's that or break a chain, foo!

It occurred to me that comfort of a lighter set up is inversely proportional to the comfort of your campground. Comfort being subjective. Cast iron campfire eggs, fresh coffee, and oats every morning after a night spent sleeping in a down bag on a thermarest in a one man tent do wonders for the morale. So does not having to go to work, though.

It was a good ride that some people do in a day, then I went north a bit and back.

Soooo, where I went was this like :

Day One :
Sidney - the mouth of the river Jordan.

Day Two:
Jordan River - Lizard Lake plus detour.

Day Three:
Lizard Lake - Youbou via Lake Cowichan.
Day Four:

Day Five:
Mt.Tzouhalem - Denman Island

Day Six:
Denman Island and Graham lake chillin.

Day Seven:
Denman - Home

I was going to come back through the sunshine coast but chickened out on my way to Comox. I decided against the stress of trying to make 4 ferries on time. I did however shed my gear with a friend on the island. It was nice to ride home without the weight of my very small world.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gerths do France

(Below, Jen describes her first ever bike tour.  Wow.  Hard to top that.  Doing it right. - Editor)

From July 7th-30th, I had the good fortune of touring around France and a bit of Germany by bicycle. Thanks to the good people at Mighty Riders and On the Rivet, my very old touring bike was outfitted with new tires, panniers, pedals and easy gears, which helped ease my nerves somewhat. Though I do ride my road bike a lot, I’ve never taken a bike tour, carrying clothing and camping gear while trying to keep up with my faster husband.
On July 7th, we arrived in Frankfurt and the fun began. We put our bikes together in the airport and after ditching the cardboard boxes, we rode for 30km toward Mainz, where we spent the night. Our destination for the first week of the trip was my cousin’s wedding in Beaune, France. For 5 days, we rode about 120-130km per day from Germany, through Metz, Nancy, Neufchâteau and Dijon to Beaune. I found myself really enjoying riding my touring bike and having everything that I needed with me.
These are our bikes all loaded up. As you can see, I made David carry more gear.
This road sign is the only marker of the border between Germany and France.
We rode by this field of sunflowers for at least fifteen minutes. I believe that I am smiling so wide because it’s my birthday.

Riding through France was exactly like I imagined it. We spent most of the days riding by fields, wineries, streams and castles with smooth roads and very little traffic.  Beaune is in the Burgundy region of France, so one of tourist attractions is a 20km bike ride through the wineries. Since all David and I wanted to do was rest at this point, we rode about 2km out of town and then sat down in the wineries and read books while all the other tourists rode their bikes.
We left our bikes next to a tree and enjoyed the opportunity to drink wine and not ride our bikes.

After the wedding, we wanted to catch a stage of the Tour de France and figured that the most exciting of the stages remaining would be the one that included the Col de Tourmalet. Because we didn’t have enough time to ride to the stage, we drove from Beaune to Pau, overnighting in Toulouse. Even though we didn’t get to spend much time in Toulouse, it was one of my favourite French cities.
The day before stage 16, we rode from Pau to a campground outside of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. As we got closer to of Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the motorhomes camping on the side of the road in anticipation of the next day’s race got denser. Camping at the base of the Tourmalet turned out to be a good decision as it allowed us to leave our bags at the campground for the next day’s ride up the Col de Tourmalet.
We stopped at this stream near Pierrefitte-Nestalas on the way to Luz-Saint-Sauveur. It was a nice stop as it was uphill for the rest of the day.

Riding up the Col de Tourmalet was unlike any ride I had ever done before. Not only was it a longer sustained climb than I have ever ridden up , about 19km at 8% average, there were thousands of people riding up the mountain with me and thousands more people on the side of the mountain. Even though this was the hottest day yet on our trip, the climb wasn’t too bad because there was so much to see and my touring bike without bags on it felt like a race bike.
This is me passing one of the switchbacks on the Col de Tourmalet. It was a rare photo opportunity without a lot of other people in the photo.

There’s so much more to the Tour de France than what you see on television. There’s a caravan that takes one hour to pass which is a parade of sponsor’s vehicles and floats. It begins about an hour and a half before the race actually comes through. And on television, you may see spectators lining the streets, but until I was there, I didn’t actually realize how many they actually were.
This was the first vehicle in the caravan.
These are the spectators near the summit of the Col de Tourmalet. There is no empty stretch of road.
Stage 16 was won by Voeckler, who was in a two man breakaway near the Col de Tourmalet summit.

After watching the Tour go by, we rode down the mountain with hundreds of other cyclists and began the second half of our vacation. Because we had another week before we had to be in Paris, we didn’t have to worry about covering much distance every day and we used the opportunity to spend a bit more time in each place we visited from then on. We rode to the Atlantic coast, mostly via bike paths, and spent a long afternoon at the beach between Mimizan-Plage and Arcachon. We spent two days in Bordeaux, drinking wine and touring the city.
The bike paths on the way to the Atlantic Ocean were wooded and quiet. It was peaceful riding on the bike paths after spending some time on roads through the Pyrenees. 

We left Bordeaux for Paris, two days before we needed to arrive in Paris. Because the distance was too far to ride, we took at train to Orléans, 160 kilometers from Paris. After arriving by train, later in the evening than expected, we had a beautiful scenic ride with lovely weather looking for a campground. After going further than we expected, some friendly strangers offered to show us the way to a campground and we had the opportunity to motorpace on our touring bikes. We were really enjoying camping, but it turned out that this was the last time we got to camp on our trip.
We knew that the next day would really be our last full day of touring as it was the day before we were scheduled to arrive in Paris, so we planned to ride about 30km outside of Paris and camp or stay in a hotel. The day of riding was a fond memory. We mostly followed the Seine river, which meant that the riding was very scenic. Paris is a very large city though and the suburbs sprawl for miles. About 30km away from Paris, it was evident that there wouldn’t be any campgrounds and all of the hotels that we found didn’t appear to be habitable, so we continued on. We finally found a hotel only about 10km outside of Paris, which meant that our bike tour was over. This did give us four whole days to spend in Paris though.

Paris was a beautiful city with so many famous icons. We saw most of the city by spending our days walking. And walking is harder than cycling. Sometimes we found ourselves wanting to be back on our bikes, so we grabbed a Vélib’ city bike. Of all the places we had been though, Paris was by far the most difficult to get around via bike. Unfortunately, July 30th came and we had to return home, so we packed up our bikes in boxes and got to the airport crammed into a taxi. If we had known then, what we know now we would have ridden our bikes to the airport and packed them in bags provided via the airline. C’est la vie.
Vélib’ city bikes are available to everyone in France. The Bixi system that it is based on is coming to Vancouver soon.

David and I enjoying a particularly hot day in Paris by bathing in a fountain near the Eiffel Tour. I have some amazing tan lines from spending the last three weeks in bicycle clothing.

After my first attempt at bike touring, I fell in love and am looking forward to my next trip.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Road Trippin' 2012

My new Felt.  Fast.

I had less time this summer so I had to squeeze in my annual tour this past week.  Unfortunately, the bike  I had been racing/touring on all summer had a cracked BB shell I discovered cleaning on the Thursday before I was s'posed to leave (reason #21 to not clean your bike...).  So we (Andy at Mighty) put this new Felt together.  I promptly raced it the next day (again, not the correct way to do things...) to sort out the bugs.  It is fast.

sunday: Atomic Road Race to break it in. New bike issues sorted... 
monday: White Rock to Spences Bridge, BC 268km
tuesday: Spences Bridge to Williams Lake, BC 265km
wednesday: Williams Lake to Prince George, BC 233km
thursday: drink beer
friday: drink more beer
saturday: Prince George to Clinton, BC 404km 
sunday: Clinton to Lillooet, BC 106km (sort of a rest day... though 40 degree heat is ugly)
monday: Lillooet to Vancouver, via Duffy Lake  255km

Two views just above the excellent and very hot campgrounds at Seton Lake (just outside Lillooet).

Lots of Summer left kids.  Go have some fun!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pin a number, lose your soul...

The cagey veteran Lowball Loder (please ignore the horrendous jersey) violating his own cardinal rule:
'Never pin another man's number; you lose part of your soul in doing so.'

At least it wasn't a skinsuit...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Doctor is famous!

Ryan being interviewed during his RM1200.