Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Things Are Looking Up

The Northwood league has a full executive as of January 19. The meeting which was seen as a threat, a bluff or my resignation worked. I got some misguided hugs and thankyous. But the meeting saw 20 or so people show up and every spot on the wish list of executive was filled. It feels great to be working as part of a team and not just trying to muddle through on my own. We have lots of plans for getting our numbers back up and possibly even expanding.

Cullen is developing quite the sense of humour. He will go around the room and say hi or goodbye to everyone watching him over the ipad but then just for kicks he'll totally ignore one of his fans, often AJ. And he knows he's doing it because he has that look that says, "yeah I know you're there". Here's a conversation from a recent facetime session:

Mike: "Cullen say MMMMMilk" (he was saying yilk or something similar)
Cullen: "MMMMMilk"
Mike: "Cullen say MMMMMilk"
Cullen: "MMMMMilk"
Mike: "Cullen say MMMMMilk"
Cullen: "NNNNNNNNo"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

More Winter Riding

Today the bug to get out and ride again got me. No fat bike this time, just Louise (named because her frame color reminds me of Lake Louise) in her winter gear. Single speed with studded tires.
And it was a ride more to my liking, 15km in an hour with just a few minutes on the roads. The bike paths are perfect as was the temperature. The tires provide a very solid ride on packed snow or ice. I never feel any slipping and the sound of hundreds of steel studs biting into the ice is reassuring.

Fat Bike Workout

It was still -20 when I got to the Centennial Park parking lot with the Salsa Mukluk 3 hanging from the rack on the back of our Subaru. The temperature proved to be the biggest challenge of the day, but not because I was too cold. 

I started off with 2 layers under my light winter jacket, jeans and Under Armour pants,  2 pair of socks, Banff Ridge boots, a fleece neck tube, my free Mark's gloves and lined hat. 50 feet from the car and I knew the hat was not going to work because of the neckline so I traded it for my warmest toque.

My first impression of the feel of the bike was 'man this is slow going'. The entire hour and a half of riding was mostly the same. I averaged about 6.5kph. I went along the wide and well packed trail next to the frozen Current River, crossed the bridge into Trowbridge and then tried some narrow single track [about 18" wide] for another km. It was twisty and overhanging branches kept me ducking. If the bike strayed from the packed snow trail it was a sudden stop and then a major effort to get rolling again because width of the packed snow wasn't enough to let me stand beside to do a rolling mount.

After 45 minutes and only 5km I headed for the car and was completely soaked. I undid my jacket and stuffed the neck tube in my pack. I didn't want to cool down too much but any wetter and I'd chill and be done for the day.

At the car I took off all my upper layers except the base, had a couple sandwiches and coffee for lunch while frosting every window in the Subaru. I put on my wool sweater, a wind breaker, a lighter pair of gloves, merino neck tube and went out again.

I started with the same trail along the river but then carried on past the bridge on less travelled trail and climbed a very long steep hill. When I first looked at the bike I wondered why the crankset sprockets [22/36] were so small. Halfway up I was wishing they had made them smaller. To keep the front wheel on the ground you have to keep your nose over the handle bars. To maintain traction your butt has to stay back so there is weight on the back tire. Standing does not work at all. Coming down the hill on my return was the only real sense of speed I felt all day but that came with a very chilling self made breeze.

All in all it was a fun way to spend a day off and a great workout. Once I was used to the slow pace and warmed up I enjoyed just getting outside for a ride. The rhythmic cadence that lets my thoughts wander a bit while riding on the road is just not possible on the Mukluk at least not with varying terrain. From spinning wildly in the tiniest gears to go up and then overspinning down a slight slope I was constantly changing gears to try and maintain some kind of even cadence but never seemed comfortable for long.   

In the battle of what kind of bike I'd rather be riding the fat bike loses to the fast bike. I can imagine riding 350 miles as they do in the Iditarod where these bikes first came into prominence, but not at this speed. Add in the gear they have to carry and the additional layers of clothing to handle Alaska in the winter, umm no thanks. I'll stick to feeling like a sausage in my skin tight bike shorts and jerseys.

Thanks to Farzam and Nathan at Petrie's for loaning me the Mukluk and for some guidance on where to pedal the beast.

Mukluk at the gate

At the new bridge to Trowbridge

on the main trail along the Current River


Alien artwork under the highway