Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Back Bottle


In May did the Monstercross Ride To ErnestownWanting some more water stuck round bottles in the Wingnut pack mesh pockets.While it did give me more water I ran into a problem using the round bottles.



Dropped at least one bottle when it got rough. Also it began to bug me trying to cram the round bottle back into the pocket while riding. Almost dropped bottles twice doing that. There had to be a better way.  Sure one can say just find a tap. That sounds easy when your not in the middle of some quad track surrounded by swamp and questionable water sources.

I remembered seeing something that could solve the problem.

Backbottle


Non traditional bottles that have non round bottoms and a dull point. That are supposed to work with rear jersey pockets with less fumbling. And blind flailing to insert in the pocket. Hmm...sounds good in theory.



And seemed to work well with the Wingnut pack pockets on a couple of dry runs. But would have to wait to truly test it during a long ride.




That came on August 7th with a 5 hour ride. Made even more challenging as it was the hottest day of the summer. Think temps where about 37 degrees and no clue what the Humidex said that day. But perfect conditions to test the Backbottle in real world conditions.


Rouge to Seaton to Rouge





On that ride I went through a 2 liter hydration bladder, one large water bottle and the 2 Back Bottles. Even hauling all that was still cooked at the end. Which makes having the two Backbottles in the Wingnuts 2 side pockets a good idea.

So after all that it comes down two one simple question....Would I use them again?



OH HELL YEAH.

In fact have used the back bottles a few times when I didn't bother to use the hydration bladder. And will be doing so in 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Monster Gearing

Procrastination + laziness + neglect x willful ignorance x ego = current gearing situation.

I readily admit that for nearly 2 years have run the same dirt bag engineered straight bloc rear cassette.  With a chainring size geared towards the Tour De Caffeine. But I finally admit it has finally reached the stupidity level of gearing choices.

Hmmm gearing is wanting





While I should change the chain rings the simplest and most cost effective method is a more mountain bike oriented gearing cassette.



 With a quick google search that gave limited results on the discussion of Gravel/Monstercross gearing. Though this gave me the best input,

Gravel Bike Set Up

First change to be made for gearing in 2017 is the cassestte, out with straight block road and in with a non straight block mtb.  I only had a brief parking lot test of the cassette so have no real world info if this will be enough. But initial drive train recation is promising. But will not get my hopes up till I get in  a longer ride.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Monstercross Mud



Wee bit muddy

So today was the first long ride of 2017 and it was to be a group one.  Of course with no long rides let's decide to go 59km. You know just to be stupor.

Muddy

It was a nice spring spring day for a group ride though.  And no expectations of it being easy but it would be the first long ride after going from a Analog Asshole to a Digital Sphincter.

Hmmm....need a deflector shield

In the end there was mud, suffering, and lots of muddy gravel. Yet despite no expectations did find out I got 6th in the Garbage Alley. Though had lots to think about gearing and future tire choices.

Mosntercross Garbage Alley

Me Hungry


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Embrace The Suck: Muddite Edition

Saturday afternoon wanting to ride some where with woods and dirt decided to take the Monstercross Wench out to ride a bit of unmaintained road. Hoping maybe to high to find some rideable tuff.

And that is where the suck began.....sucking me in. With the illusion of it being soft yet rideable. It was slightly slow with bits of ice and some traps.




Early on got to play the game of ice covered hole and when does the ice fail. And see how deep the ice covered hole actally is.

Brought to a halt


The first 20 minutes turned out okay and despite the ice was not to bad. Which gave the illusion that it was going to be good.


It is an illusion

Right, and then comes the catch....

How bad could it get?

And then it began to suck at a double time rate.  And the pace ground to a slog with having to get around flooding.

Cold


Then almost 3.5-4k of hiking with a bike in mud that looks rideable yet had no traction. Even hoofing it was an exercise.


Muddite Heaven

To say it was slow would be an understatement. 6.4km in over an hour? Painful.

You have gotta be joking

To say it was ugh is all I can say to keep it non NSFW. No words to say it.



At least the ride back to the Van was easy. Though a wee bit chilly.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lower Highland Creek Trails

15 years ago when I came to Scarborough there was nothing in the Highland Creek system for much trails. Well...there was abandoned sections near Centennial. I say abandoned as no work done as after sections had been taken out by whatever past storm. So with no one building trail that left the Don Valley and Rouge systems for anything trail related.

 Relics of the past

But like anything that changes .....


Early Winter


In the last couple of years that has seen some change that has slowly appeared. At some point a couple of Trail Sprites started visiting the Highland Creek system and have added trail. Apparently there is now 10k of singletrack trail in the system. With more in the future I have heard. The majority of the singletrack with the fun stuff is south of the Lawrence Ave E bridge. There is singletrack on the east and west side of Highland Creek.



Bridge with calves


Certainly it doesn't have the same feel nor volume as the Don Valley for trails. But the system is still in it's early years. And there is only  couple of trail workers working to create. I help when I can when am in town. But with the passing of my Mother in Law that will become even more infrequently.

While I do love the Don in the past few years it has gotten crowded in some areas. A by product of being central in Toronto but I have believed that more was needed. That more trail was needed in Highland Creek and Etobicoke Creek. Simply to spread some of the riding around. Because aside from the future conflict discussion the reality is not everyone can get access to the Don easily. Nor does those who ride have time every week to get there.



                                         Video by my buddy Charlie


I have spent more time in the last couple of years riding these trails. But what shows is more important benefit is the kids. I found out my Cousin Kemba takes her so riding in Highland Creek all the time. And he always wants to ride the dirt trails and loves to spend hours on them.  That is the best part of it all.

One day in the future one could connect this with the Rouge and Seaton Trail to create a 3 King or Valley Epic Day.

Rouge to Seaton to Rouge

Maps are from trail forks.

Lower Highland Creek West

Lower Highland Creek East

The nearest GO station is at Guildwood.

Guildwood Go Station

Beer , food, and Caffeine can be found at the mall at Morningside and Kingston Rd.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Bowl Exploration

With Monday March 6th being a some what warm day, well if you can call minus 3 warm. Decided on the way back from Toronto to check out a trail area I spotted in the Back Roads Map Book near Port Hope.


The Bowl ATV Trails Area Satellite Image



In theory there is potentially some track that would be good but based on the area my expectations where not high. I expected more of a spin and explore with nothing really stimulating. But it is worth the effort as one never knows what they might discover. Plus I have been over the last couple of years trying to find more riding areas in Eastern Ontario outside the already known.

Dead End Beginning


The entrance that I started at is at the dead end of Mail Rd and have no idea if this is a de-activated unmaintained county road that part of the area use. However as I explored came upon an interesting sign will cover later that gave me this idea.

Double Track


Initially the beginning was quad track which really is like riding double track. To an old RGMC type like me that is part of mountain biking.  Because especially in Ontario mountain Biking is more than just singletrack because if you don't include double track and some unmaintained road. You get less. There was some stuff down in a small ravine but it was wet and muddy so didn't go look.

Gravel Through Da Trees



On this exploration ride of double track connected back to the unmaintained road. Which led to the discovery of what I hinted at earlier...


Gravel Road

Gravel road with a storm drain???

Secret Gravel Shifter?



A storm drain in the middle of a unmaintained gravel road area? Is it a way to slowly shift sand and gravel to the local shore line to create a sand and gravel beach??

Wrong Bike For This


There is probably more to explore here but between the chilly temps and lack of time. Only go a brief time to spin around on the wrong bike for this.  There is possibly more rideable around as the BRMB  shows double track on running along the waterfront  on the other side of the old Wesleyville Generating station. So there is the potential to create a loop of some kind.

To get to this location you get off the 401 at Wesleyville, off ramp # 456. Head south on Wesleyville Road to Mail Rd. Turn right on Mail Rd and drive till you get to the dead end. Trail area starts here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Action Not Words


Today's late afternoon ride was a little different as spotted something that didn't seem right and raised a  red flag.


 Looking after your mates

 On this day and that being a clear, sunny, and very warm February day was a good day to ride. Expecting nothing but a spin on the bike and a stop by the creek to clear my head. It was off for a wander to check the conditions of the ice thickness on the trails.

About 5 minutes in riding along Bath parallel to the CN Rail main line to Toronto spotted a older gentleman sitting near the tracks. But when I looked a second time noticed he was sitting on the actual rail.  Took me about 60m before I remembered that is the section where a couple of years ago someone was killed there by a VIA rail train, they still won't say if it was accidental or not.






Quickly stopped and dropped my bike in the snow. Not wanting to run back and startle the old guy. Hopped the ditch and jogged up the berm to the line. I wanted to see if there was more going on before I just ran up to him thinking the worst case. All it looked like was he sat on the rail during a walk to have a moment. And turns out it was correct as he stood up and dusted himself off. And walked back to the street. And kept walking towards home some where down the street.


So in the end it was nothing but an old guy sitting on the rail looking out over Collins Bay. Maybe not the smartest place to sit. But it was better to have checked to see if someone was having a bad day. So back on the bike to check out the trails and the creek.

As I rode was thinking of the last few years and what I have been through in terms of mental health. And thinking of the suicides last year that rocked my wife's workplace. I could speculate all sorts of scenarios. Yet it was one thing that stands out....

Instead of talking about mental health, I interrupted my ride to check on some one else which is more important than just talk.






Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where Ever I May Roam


A rare year with minimal snow and a day with temps that allowed for shorts. Yes shorts in January in Ontario.

A ride that had no real route planned. Leaving the timing stuff behind. Just a general direction to roam.






Route map.
Where Ever May I Roam


2017 marks 14 years of wandering the Rouge and numerous trips up to the highest point in Scarborough....The summit of Ben Trash.



After descending Ben Trash wandered my way east to take the connector to Seaton.


Turned out to be a mixed bag, some bog conditions, some ice, and some giant puddle skirting.



Ended up at the Seaton view point and took it in for a bit. Had some Rum from the new flask to warm things up a wee bit. And a salute to those that are missed.


No feeling like dealing with the puddles and ice that would make up half the ride back took the road back part of the way.




In the end a good unexpected 3 hours of riding in January.



In shorts.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tough Call and Head Injuries

 In the last 12 months there has been an increased discussion online among cyclists about concussios. Specifically around some articles that leaned towards the fear side of the discussion. Here I will not be sharing articles but a incident on January 7th. 

On January 7th at the Kingston Snophy Fat Bike race we had some crashes that involved some injuries.  One was a broken collar bone and one concussion.

CCA Concussion Management


Part way through the day we had just extracted a rider with a broken collar bone who was warming up and getting checked out by the race medic. During this a rider walked up stating that he rang his bell good. Which initially wasn't alarming. What raised the red flag was when he said..."I don't remember what lap I am on" and he was on lap one. Recalling past incidents to others in regards to concussions without hesitation I got him headed to the medical tent 10 feet away. And got the medics attention to take over. His race was over.

CCA Head Injury/Concussion Protocol


As a course worker it is not fun pulling a racer of the course. I raced endurance sport for years specifically triathlon where finish no matter what is the mind set. But I know it was the right call to have made for his long term mental health. Of course later when one is relaxing with a beer you analyze the event and think what could have been done. Even better when you have others who have knowledge on this to sto act as a sounding board. Fortunately I have a sounding board to talk it out with and figure out if something was missed.

My wife Joely is that person with who we have discussed numerous times head injuries related to her job. Joely's job is the RMCC Women's VolleyBall Head Coach and Head coach of the CISM team. So later that night with beer in hand shared with her the incident and what was done. And it was the same as what she would have done for any of her athlete's she coaches.

As a coach I feel that while we are seeing lots of discussion about concussions and long term effects. We also need to talk about incidents and what was done so that others may learn more about it.