Sunday, October 31, 2010

Awesomely muddy

*Lack of riding, the beginning of night shift (and deficient brain cells because of lack of sleep) and a reveiw'ish last week of posts I thought another 'semi-review' would be some good blog fluff until I catch up on sleep and can produce some 'quality' posts.*

I used to ride with a hydration pack all the time. After getting into racing and ditching the pack for the shorter races I felt pretty free and lighter without it. Gradually, I was able to adapt to the longer races and found ways of carrying everything without the need for a pack. I hardly ever ride with one anymore. It has it's 'pros' and 'cons' of course.

  • don't have something heavy, bulky on your back
  • less weight
  • sweat wicks away better
  • more exposure of your jersey (especially important if you are a sponsored rider)
  • easy access to rear pockets on jersey
  • you don't have to stop and take off the pack to find items
  • can't carry as much water, tools, gear
  • your jersey can resemble sagging boobs - but on your back - saggy back boobs
  • any tools, tubes, air that's on your bike can get covered in mud & dirt, for example......
My Awesome Strap, tube, CO2 air cartridge and tire lever after a muddy Fall ride. Perhaps there is a solution?

There is . . . check it out. Would love to get my hands on one for those muddy rides, i.e. Crank The Shield (should be given out at the beginning of the race - might be a cool piece of schwag kit instead of this lame hat).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Misfit Psycles diSSent (Fe) Review: Part Deux

I’ve ridden a suspension fork (White Brothers Magic 29 110mm) only twice – my very first ‘shake down’ ride after building it up and the Wilderness 101 a day and a half later. I chose to run the fork because of what I heard about the course, but in hindsight I could have easily ridden a rigid fork. And since the 101 a rigid fork is all I’ve run.

Other than comparing the White Brothers Rock Solid carbon fork to it’s suspended brother (Magic 29), which is like comparing apples to cement blocks, I don’t have any other experience on rigid forks (road bikes don’t count here). There are plenty of reviews on rigid forks, so I will let you do the research on them. All I can tell you is you get a great deal of weight savings and no energy loss. I really like the carbon fork – it’s stiff, light and goes where I point it. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you . . . there are times while riding when I wished for a suspension fork (usually after smashing into some large inanimate object that doesn’t move) . . . however, it’s the cat’s arse. I don’t notice any lateral flex or movement under torque wrenching on the bars while climbing or under harsh braking. It’s good, very good and goes along with the diSSent like peas and carrots. That said, Misfit also offers their own steel fork which matches up nicely with the frame.

What will make any fully rigid single speed a much more comfortable, fun and enjoyable ride is going tubeless. I’m on my third year with Stans No Tube rims and love them. I’ve had one flat due to a slice in a side wall that was too big to be filled. I usually run about 21 lbs in the front and about 25 lbs in the rear. As you know I have girth, but I have yet to dent a rim in three years while riding hardtails. You get a metric ton more traction and control on slippery roots and rocks, you corner at speed better with added tire contact with the ground, and your tubeless set up provides you with some suspension. I think riding any rigid single speed, or any hardtail for that matter, would be a much less enjoyable experience if it weren’t for tubeless.

Paragon sliders – I love them. The sliding dropouts worked smoothly and flawlessly. I never ran out of room in either direction to have unlimited gear combinations. I tend to run a couple chains for different gear options and usually kept the sliders in and around the same spot on the dropout so I cannot comment on ride differences based on the location of the rear axle to the bike.
Alas, Paragon will be no more as a Misfit in-house design, said to be better, replaces them. Many ss’ers use half links, I don’t, never have. The adjustment is simple to use so why bother getting your hands dirty messing with the chain. I never had issue with the wheel or axle moving around on me.

Cable routing – simple enough detail, but I liked how I was able to neatly tuck away my brake line from damage due to inevitable crashes.

Paint – I’ve got a couple nit pics with the paint, nothing major again but worth noting. There is no clear coat over the decals. I am a bit anal retentive about keeping my bikes uber clean and tend to wash them lots. I found that over time the decals began to peel away. Also, if you are using a down tube clamp style bike rack on your car, it can tear at the decals. I ended up replacing the original decals and getting my own clear coat done locally for a reasonable price and quick turn around. If you’re going to be spending this kind of money on a beauty steel frame I don’t think too many would shrug at a few more dollars to have a clearcoat finish. The paint quality could be better as there were some flecks, blemishes here and there. I can only guess that because my bike was in the first batch of Fe frames that maybe it was rushed.

Seat stays – plenty o’room for big fat tires. The sliders assist in this regard, but I never had any issues fitting fat rubber in the rear. The largest tire that I ran in the back was a Schwabe Racing Ralph 2.4, but could have gone even larger.

Weight – I’ve never actually weighed my bike cause when you’re carrying around an extra five-to-ten pounds of girth bike weight isn’t that important. However, from my best guesstimate I put it around the 22lb mark making it a very nice bike to ride up hills and flick around the trails.

Don’t believe me? Calling me a big fat liar? See for yourself . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Misfit Psycles diSSent (Fe) Review: Part I

For the past two seasons I’ve been riding solely on this bike and have been ‘sponsored’ by Misfit Psycles to do said activity. When I first agreed to ride for Misfits, after Peter begged and begged me to, it was under agreement that I would do so on this frame for two years. It’s the end of two years, I am no longer sponsored and I owe Misfit Psycles no more. No longer do I have to keep me mouth shut for fear of retribution by it’s non-sensical blog writing owner. The truth will be told . . . .

Bike set up:
Large dissent frame (claimed weight 4lbs 6 oz)
Chris King Headset
Thomson x4 stem 100mm x 0 degrees
Easton Monkey Lite low-rise carbon bar
Hope Race X2 brakes
Ergon GX2 grips
Thomson seatpost
Salsa seatpost collar
WTB Silverado saddle
White Brothers Rock Solid carbon fork
Middleburn cranks (175mm)
Crank Bros Eggbeaters – single ti
Stan’ No Tubes Crest rims laced to Chris King SS hubs

*I also run a second wheelset from time to time: Stan’s No Tubes ZTR Arch rims laced to Pro Hope II hubs set up with spacers for single speeding

** I have ridden on a combination of Kenda Small Block 8’s(2.1), Kenda Nevegals (2.1), Kenda Karmas(2.1), Schwabe Racing Ralphs(2.4), and Panaracer Rampage(2.35).

Rider Info:
Age: 38
Height: 5’ 10”
In Seam: 33”
Weight: 200lbs
Astrological Sign: Aries
Preferred Choice of Undergarment: boxers


My first single speed specific bike was a Surly 1x1, after I moved to big wheels (and never, and will never, looked back at the itsy bitsy hoops) a Niner MCR (set up as a 1x9), then onto A Vassago Jabberwocky & Bandersnatch. Yes, all bikes steel. If you are not a loyal fan follower you might not know that this is my fourth full season riding only single speed (the latter two fully rigid I might add).

I liked the idea of riding for a Canadian bike company and liked even more that the bike was built-in-country. My frame was built amongst a small batch of frames using True Temper OX Platinum steel for all but that of the top tube – which is plain old chromoly. All pieces, supplies, components and labour used to build my frame were sourced domestically. Being a former insider with the company, I can tell you that new, super duper improved tubing is coming with fingers selectively pointing at Columbus (availability expected around March 2011). Ohhhh laaa laaa!

Air inside the tubing comes provided for free with the frame. As a sponsored rider at the time, I opted to go for a helium air filled tube set which decreased the overall weight of the bike by nearly 25%. If money is no option, I would suggest going this route as a 25% lighter bike will help you float over the trail. Unfortunately after my sponsorship ran out I was asked to return the helium.

I’ve ridden this bike in every terrain possible: slow, twisty, rooty, rocky eastern Canadian shield single track, fire and atv roads, loamy pine needle trails, snow covered, super buff-ultra fast Colorado Aspen forest single track, alpine rocky-technical trails, steep loose descents, gnarly baby head ups/downs, you name it . . . it’s been ridden on. It’s been put through it’s paces, so on with the show.

The Nitty Gritty:
If you’ve never ridden a single speed and are pretty stupid not to be able to figure it out on your own, let me tell you that riding a rigid single speed places huge demands on the frame and rider that a normal hardtail, let alone full suspension bike, ever sees. Torquing the bars while mashing down on the pedals to get up a hill much too steep for your gearing is pretty damn demanding on the frame. I don’t detect any excessive flexing while riding – in fact the dissent is the stiffest steel frame that I’ve ridden. I don’t get any movement from the front or rear triangle and I am a fat fugger. Even while riding the Niner MCR, while set up as a 1x9 with Reynolds tubing, I found it noodly under force. The bottom bracket area is solid as well.

Speaking of bottom brackets, height is always a concern. When you’re mashing away through a rock garden pedal strike is always forefront in your mind - you get good at ratchet pedaling regardless of the height of the bottom bracket cause you can't sit and spin easily like you would on a geared bike. Living in Eastern Canada most of the trail riding that I do is on rooty, rocky, very technical trails that you don’t tend to be able to float through. The bottom bracket drop positioning, despite being only a few millimeters different than it's competitors (in the realm of 29ers the bb drop on the diSSent is the same to a max of 5mm below other 29er frames) puts you in a very stable position on the diSSent that feels very stable on the bike, thus making you feel very confident and centered even at slower speeds.

In my opinion bottom bracket height is moot - varying tires heights are going to alter the bottom bracket height - it is really only constant if you use one size of tire. The bottom bracket position relative to the wheels' centerline axis is lower creating that feeling of stability. I believe this is one of the main reasons why 29" wheel mountain bikes have won over so many fans. Twenty-nine inch wheel mountain bikes have a BB drop that is quite a bit more than 26" wheels putting the rider within the wheels much more so than 26" wheels where the rider sits on top of the wheels. This is especially true with the diSSent.

The geometry of the diSSent allows you to rail buff trails. The frame being born around southern Ontario where most of the trails are the buff race course types, it has proven itself a very worthy fast-flowy course bike. Unlike some big bike companies out there jumping on the 29’er bandwagon who merely stretch out a 26” model bike and slap on big wheels, the diSSent is designed to allow the rider to sit “in” the bike rather than on it. If you are still riding 26" wheels, get with the times man!

You get a feeling that you are very centered and connected with the bike which allows for total control, trail feedback and optimum rider input. What makes this bike stand out, besides the material used, is the geometry. A lot of time has been put into the design of this bike with it’s owner being a rider (mind you, he’s not that good) who is open to feedback from people who ride his frames and have developed it to where it is today.

I dig the bent/joined top tube. It gives the bike a distinct look but also allows for a whole heaping lot of standover height. And if you’re blessed with huge gonads you’ll be very thankful for that when you mess up a line and need to put down the get away sticks in a hurry.

*part II continues next blog post - stay tunned.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Three out of four

I got out for my third ride this week, third in four days of all things. I'm starting to resemble the cyclist I once was . . . at least in effort to get out and ride, but not in girth. Also my third ride out in KL. Been avoiding hitting the road or CX races as they would require more effort to do than I have in my reserves.

Curvy Butt and I rode some new buff, flowy trails which a trail gnome even raked. The trail gnome did a lovely job of using the lay of the land, with very little cutting, to create a very different feel for the South March Highlands. Kudos!

I always get asked, "How do you like the single speed out here? Hey, wait a minute . . . that's a rigid fork?!?" Yeah, I like it, I like it a lot. It's a definite challenge to ride the technical trails and your riding style changes, but it's a lot of fun. There's no guessing what your front or rear end is going to do - it is very predictable. Running tubeless helps with hooking up and giving a little cushy'ness to the ride. I was saying to Curvy Butt on the way home from the ride, that even if I had the money right now I don't think that there is another bike that I'd ride. Will be talking more about the diSSent tomorrow in my review.

Met up with Lenny and Tammy who were out having fun on the trails on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Can't ask for a better relationship I guess than being able to go riding with your significant other, fart openly in-front of each other (though I didn't hear Tammy fart) and laugh.

Must have been "Date Ride" Saturday . . . met up with Andrea & Andy on Outback who looked to be having a good time. Didn't hear (or smell) any farts from either of them. Andy was getting out for a ride to loosen the legs for the CX race in Perth on Sunday.

Curvy Butt sent me this photo he took of me (and photoshopped). By the look on my face I might have squeezed one off myself on this step up. And yes, of course I made it.

On our way out we ran into Cat & Mario, from OMBA, who had a group of about a dozen kids session'ing a technical double step up on Inner Thigh. Very cool to see so many enthusiastic kids out.

My packed up sinuses loosened up enough to allow me to practice perfecting my snot rockets.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Trail Ride Photo Dump

Must be something in the water, I got out for a second ride this week. WTF!?! King'er and Curvy Butt and Kanata Lakes. Good times. Chilly, but good times.


Second attempt . . . SUCCESS!

Pee pee in the woods.

Sometimes you win.

Sometimes you lose.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hump and Dump

I did something that I haven't done in a little while, I rode my bike. I also rode mid-week, mid-day, all by myself. Other then nearly suffocating due to backed & packed sinuses, the ride was lovely and a nice break from sitting on the couch and self-depreciating.

One of the bridges (there are a bunch of them) that crosses over a pond is beginning to be submerged - appears the beavers have been busy building up their dams for the winter.

View to Boink Point.

Carpeted single track.

If you don't like riding through mud, get off and walk around it. Riding around it only makes it wider.

I've ridden Kanata Lakes for years, before they were popular and even known about. I helped build trails there. Helped with the start of OMBA. Seen the increase of traffic on the trails. Unfortunate to see some parts of the trails widen.

Original line in yellow - the photo is deceiving - a little up over some rocks, it was tight because there was a tree there. Tree got lopped down, people started to go around the rocks to make the line . . . trail widens and gets easier. Fak me.

Pet peeve of mine is the increasing number of 'cheater lines' that have popped up in the past year or two. You'll be riding along and all of a sudden without warning you'll be on a totally different line than the original. I don't get out to KL as much as I used to, so I don't pick up on the changes in trail until I've already committed to them.

Instead of riding the original line people are riding around it. If it's too hard, get off and walk. Or go back and try it until you get it. Pisses me off to no end when I see people take it amongst themselves to open a new, easier line.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apathy, Nutritionist, Sponsorless

On Apathy:
I was working on a bar graph that would visually represent the level of apathy towards staying fit, eating properly, riding, and generally being active (mentally and physically). But. . . I couldn't be bothered. Instead I found the above image instead. It was less time consuming. Meh.

On Being Fat & Tired:
Fatness and slothfulness are at an all time high the past couple of weeks. I'm waiting to recover from having the flue to begin to make changes. While I wait I've been eating and laying on the couch. Whatever.

But change I must! One such change is a visit to a nutritionist. In fact, the other day I put out an e-mail to Ottawa friends who might have experiences and/or recommendations with a nutritionist. The response was overwhelming (thanks to all who responded!). Do I think that they responded because they like me? Hell no! They all think I am fat.

I've been interested in having a nutritional assessment, some testing, and a lifestyle (dietary) plan put in place that will help me maintain a lighter, healthier weight, but also to hopefully boost my immune system and energy levels. Stay tunned.

On Hearsay:
The past few days I've been getting a few e-mails from readers/friends and there have been one or two blog comments wondering about my departure from Misfit Psycles. Let me set the record straight . . . . originally, two or so years ago, Peter and I agreed on a two year stint. Two years are up, I wasn't asked back. There you have it. Simple Dimple. Pimple.


Absolutely, 100%, unequivocally no hard feelings. To be perfectly honest, I didn't live end up to my end of the deal. I thought at the time that I would be attending more races/events then I actually got to. A career change towards the end of last season messed some plans up, injuries and bad timing messed up this year. The blog alone was not enough to bring about equal returns for the expenses that Peter incurred to 'sponsor' me. Comes down to business and numbers and I didn't produce.

On Spending Your Money:
I still endorse and recommend a Misfit product to anyone. You should buy one . . . no, you should buy seventy-three point five . . . right now! In fact, as I mentioned last week, a never before diSSent (Fe) review will be posted right here on this here blog. Here, here!

So, there you have it . . . I am presently fat, unmotivated, lethargic, and sponsor'less for next year. The first three I'm working on. The last . . . meh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

No more

That's it. I'm done. My two year sentence to riding for Misfit Psycles is over. I am no longer officially sponsored by Misfit Psycles and am now a free agent. Spread the word. Lock up your bikes. Bicycle companies start your bidding.

Or I could jump on the full suspension bandwagon, being driven by former single speeders/hardtailers and get me a Santa Cruz Tallboy like Dicky and J5 Marsupial or even Goat who is now talking about going full suspension.


Maybe Santa Cruz is looking to replace Weir as their poster boy.

Alas, I don't have $5000 laying around to spend on a bike (again, bike companies - contact me!) . . . so, it looks like I'll be staying on my current bike until Peter prys it away from my dead cold thighs/crotch area (how's that for a mental image). And to be honest, that suits me just fine cause I love the diSSent. So much so I even did a review of it that I'll be posting up in the next wee bit.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to publicly say "Thank You" to Peter and Misfit Psycles for providing me with support the past two season. It has been greatly appreciated. I hope my representation of/for the company hasn't decreased revenue or interest too much.