Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cane Creek visit 2011

I've (we've) been going to North Carolina, specifically the area around Asheville every year (minus 2009 when The Peanut was born) for the past six year for a week's worth of riding.  It is something I (we) look forward to every year and the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick that keeps me motivated over the winter.  If you've never been you really need to go.  I would consider it a cycling Mecca.  Every year is an adventure - we find new & betterer trails, meet new people, eat at new restaurants (and return to our favourites), and have been lucky enough to meet people/companies directly involved in the global cycling scene.

Global?  Is that too strong of a word?  I don't think so.  Two years ago we visited Industry Nine and toured their facility.  You have to be living under a log if you haven't heard of them.  It's a fantastic company making amazing uber terrific product staffed by the friendliest folks around.

Cycling midget, magazine article writer and industry insider Dicky hooked us up with Industry Nine and with a bribe of Canadian maple syrup, fresh water and free medicare he was able to connect us with Eric at Cane Creek last year for a visit and tour. 
Cane Creek world headquarters.

Anyone who has ever ridden or owned a mountain bike probably had a Cane Creek headset at one point in time or another. 

They also make some schweeet rear suspension shocks like this DBAir (which is in mid production in this photo)

I was asked to step away from the secret R&D room (notice how the windows are all covered over - no shit!).  Rumour had it that they were building Cane Creek cyborbs.  We saw all sorts of cool products, testing practices, new developements, etc that I can't post up out of respect for their research and development of their industry leading products. 

Future headsets.

Like the AngleSet - this will change the way you ride your bike.

With AngleSet the head angle of a mountain bike can be transformed with ease, as the low-stack-height AngleSet offers up to six offset angle adjustments. With steeper or slacker adjustments from 0.5 to 1.5 degrees, dialing in the perfect geometry to attack the trail is a breeze. The design of AngleSet is head-tube length independent and fits most popular head-tube standards. A self-aligning feature between the bearings and the steerer-tube ensures a perfect fit and makes fork installation a snap.

I don't think I've ever been to a business where people were so friendly and eager to talk to us (though I9 were equally cool).  Maybe it was because we were Canadians packing fresh water and unlimited medicare.  Above is Judy - she's been working at Cane Creek before it was even called Cane Creek.  You wouldn't think that someone like Judy influenced the cycling industry, but she has.  She was working on the Thudbuster seatpost when we spoke to her.  She had more knowledge of suspension in her itty bitty finger than I have in my whole head.  Every staff member that we saw (they keep the means one locked away on tours) were uber friendly, happy and appeared to be very content with their jobs.

There were more machines and tools that I've never seen before.  I think they were secretly making homemade wine - looks like a corking machine if you ask me.  No one 'appeared' to be drunk during our tour - they were, however, all very super friendly.  I guess Cane Creek employees are happy drunks.  If they weren't they might have been called Surly

Eric used a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo to describe what was taking place.  My elevator doesn't always go to the top floor and I am not very good with number and technical stuff . . . all I could figure out was that big chunks of metal go in here. . . .

And come out here. . . .

And look like this.  Headset cups magically appeared before my eyes!

This is the extent of my testing products.  It smelled good.  They didn't ask me to submit a resume.

Cane Creek even had a well stocked gym for employees to work out in while at work.  In fact if you didn't work out you were beaten with a pillow case full of door knobs.  To prove the point Eric bench pressed me while in the gym.  Lunch time work group road rides are common place as world headquarters are surrounded by country roads.  Plus they had a pump track built behind the warehouse for employees to play on during breaks, lunch and after work.

 Judy took full advantage of her break times to shred on the pump track. 
 We were at Cane Creek for almost two and a half hours being given the grand tour, talking to employees and just having a good time behind the scenes of a major player in the cycling industry.  And it didn't end there.  Eric invited us out to a spirited group ride that evening at Bent Creek which some of the other Cane Creek staff took part in, along with their friends and spouses - it was one of the more fun rides we had last year as we got to see some of Bent Creek we don't normally ride, but more importantly for the comradely and tomfoolery.  The ride ended with drinks and eats at the pub. 

Huge thanks to Eric Smith and the Cane Creek staff for allowing us to visit, for their hospitality and generosity!

**Almost a year later and I finally get a semi-useful blog post up about our visit.  My apologies to Eric and Cane Creek for dropping the ball - they never asked me to write a thing - but after their kindness and southern hospitality I wanted to put something up.  Last year got busy for me and over the fall/winter I was in a state of blog-writer's block-depression.  Better late than never.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Panorama and White

Ottawa River ice covered - from Monday's road ride.

Monday's ride afforded me the opportunity to check out Lenny's new fatbike.  He's jumped on the fatbike bandwagon too . . . and why not?  It's a hoot and a half riding in the snow and opens up a totally new riding season with very different trail conditions.
Is white the new black?  WTF!?! Is everyone getting white bikes?  Dicky's new by:Stickel is ubber schexy.
I need a new bike too, but it won't be white.  Buy my shit so that I can buy a new bike. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A skinny, a fat and a skinny ride

Curvy Butt and I did a Manotick road loop Saturday afternoon in mild temperatures and zero wind. No photos of the ride so our route will have to do.  A little over 70 kms left early Spring legs feeling a bit tuckered. Not huge miles, but when all you're doing over the course of a winter are 10-18 km fatbike rides . . .well, the endurance conditioning goes out the window.
Sunday it was plus twenty four degress celcius!  That's ten degrees higher than the record in the Ottawa area for March 18th ever. Melting snow meant the chance of drier, snow free trails south of Ottawa in the Limerick Forest.  The beauty day didn't disappoint.  Lots of dry fun trails to be had, but also some hard ice pack still on the trails covered in an inch or two of water.  We got wet and muddy, but it was fun. 

It was also my first dirt ride on the fatbike.  Whoot!  What a blast. Fritz was on his too while Curvy Butt and Peter rode regular mtn bikes.
Do my fingers smell like ass?  Monday afternoon - another freak'in blazing warm day.  Got out for a nice West Carelton road loop with Lenny.  No he's not digging around his jersey for a bar, but is scratching his skinny old man butt as we climb up and over the Carp Escarpment.

We got down to the Ottawa River .  I snapped this shot for two reasons: one being to show the ice still on the river.  What's the other reason?

Fog rolling off the ice on the Ottawa River caused by the warm temperatures.  Plus freak'in 24 degrees !

Monday, March 19, 2012

First road ride of the season.

Gameline - the southern most entrance to the park.  The parkway did look promising with shades of grey underneath thinning snow.
Got out for my first road ride of the season last Tuesday afternoon.  Been too busy to post much of anything this past week or so as I've been off on March Break and March 'birthday season' is upon us at the original big ring world headquarters.  The Peanut turned three this week - whoot!  Happy Birthday Peanut!

Kingsmere overpass.  Still lots of snow on the parkway and in the Gats.

P7 trail-head at Kingsmere.

Dirty bike . . . dirty dog. Fenders - I don't know what I'd do without them.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Low Pressure Productions Finale

 Snapped only two photos from last Saturday night's Low Pressure Productions race - not very many considering I was there for five to help set up and mark the course.  With a shotgun start (not really, Grant yelled "Go!") for eight I was a little worried as I stood around the fire trying to keep warm with only a few riders in attendance.  However, my worries were put to rest as every race in the series started late, and riders began to appear in the woods.  

Who needs number plates?  I was "Sweet Pea".  Pie plate number plates - love it.  I suggested to Grant for next time that every rider must eat an entire pie first, off the plate, before beginning the race (fuck the Lemans start!) then stick their prescribed plate on their bars before they could go.  I am sure I'd take the 'hole shot' from those skinny wee racer boys. It is my goal to find a race that involves eating copious amounts of food prior to the beginning of a race to get a leg up on the competition.
Alas, the race did start - though I was hoping it would turn into a hot dog eating contest (again with the food) as Grant had enough dogs for post-race festivities to feed a small army.  I figure there was no way I'd be taking anywhere near first place in the race with some very fast riders in attendance . . . a hot dog eating contest - pfffffft, I'd be hands down the winner. 

Anywho, the race . . . . good times.  We raced three laps of a prescribed course.  A few sections got pretty slick by the third lap.  After the race we stood around the fire and caught up with old friends.  Good times.  I look forward to future events, however, it may be the last snow event for the season as warm temperatures and rain are making quick work of beating down the white stuff. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Post Holing, Cookies and The Peanut

Lovely, beautiful day here in Ottawa and on the other side of the river.  Was expecting it'd be a bit cooler with firmer conditions despite crazy warm temperatures, rain and wind the past couple of days.  However, even with packed down snowshoe trails, if you veered off course you'd sink to your knee....sometimes your waist. 

Curvy Butt demonstrated some crazy contortionist, Cirque de Soleil moves crossing over a stream to avoid getting wet feet.  We weren't ten minutes into the ride before I had two soakers.  Thank Gwad (and sheep) for merino wool.

Go off course, the slightest-eensiest-teensiest bit, and you were going over the bars or coming to a screaming halt.

She's a dirty girl - the first bit of mud to get on the Mukluk . . . ironic really . . . . Muk (muck).  To avoid a death march of post holing across a farmers field we elected to cut the ride short and take the road back.  The dirt road was soft and mushy but you wouldn't know it as the fat tires floated across with ease.  With the annual pilgrimage to North Carolina about a month away (who's coming?) a gravel road fatbike grinder epic might be in-store. 
Going to have to get the bike cleaned for tomorrow's race.  
You going?  You should.  
Party afterwards.
Nothing like returning home from a ride to find warm oatmeal-walnut-banana-chocolate chip cookies waiting for you.  I have THE best life . . . even if I am a bit portly.

Me and The Peanut dug in.



HERE   or   HERE

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fat tires, views (and poos) from below, and little things in the woods

I have a dog.  I pick up his crap.  So why am I picking up someone else's dog shit off the trail??  The fairly recent partnership with the city to create a sustainable trail system for riders has been nothing but amazing for us (mtn bikers).  The South March Highlands trail system has been growing in increasing popularity not just with riders, but with hikers, snow shoers, skiers, dog walkers, and so on.  That's not a bad thing.  However, I predict future user conflicts arising.  The steaming bag of dog sit above is one example.  In the last handful of rides I've done out in KL I've been met on the trail by people giving me dirty looks while I ride toward them.  I ALWAYS say hello and ALWAYS say THANK YOU when they step off the trail to let me by (if I'm not stopping to let them go by first).  But I get the feeling that there are those on the trail system who are either unfamiliar with the history of trail development (done most entirely by riders) or either don't care, and in-particular there seems to be a growing sense of 'trail-entitlement' by non-riders.  I hope that I am way off here, but I do predict future user conflict.  Perhaps that is unavoidable and can hopefully be resolved without someone getting punched in the throat. [and oh, to the dog owner who left the shit on the trail:  I did pick up and carry out that bag of doggy doo-doo.......just because you picked it up and put it in a compostible bag doesn't mean you can leave it on the trail dumb ass.]


I had the chicks eating out of my hand.  My ride was for the birds.   Gwad I slay myself!  Thank you, thank you . . . I'll be here all week long.

Monday, March 5, 2012

So many fatties

Meeting of like minds and fat tires on Sunday afternoon in Kanata Lakes.  Great ride, but pretty darn cold out.  My toes were numb by the end of it.

I was so cold on the way home, and desperate for warmth, that I stopped at Tim Horton's to get a coffee.  I asked for a large and learned afterward that they've upgraded to 'Merican sizes.  I don't drink the swill, labeled by them as "coffee", unless real coffee is available.  Tastes like poo water mixed with cream and sugar.

Yay, I won.

Irony:  a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.   Curvy Butt rented a fatbike to try out.  Looks like he's hooked - he loved it so much he set it up to ride inside too.  Freak of nature!