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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Norco Fixed It!

Thanks to Norco and Cycle Solutions in Toronto for getting me a warranty repair on my broken frame!

Good as new.  And they covered all the rebuild/etc costs.  Couldn't ask for much more than that!

They no longer make the Nitro aluminum 29'er frame, so I now have a frame normally sold on the 2016 Norco Charger 9.1.  Feels identical to me when riding it, though, not sure if the geometry is much different.

One thing I noticed is they've added a new piece where the top tube meets the seat tube, right where mine cracked... presumably this is to strengthen it after having to do a bunch of warranty repairs.  So this one should be bulletproof.

The other thing I noticed - most of the line-up is 27.5" now days... are the 29'er days numbered??  I love my 29'er, so I hope they stick around!  Keep them popular!

Friday, October 30, 2015

My new old 2003 Norco Bush Pilot

With my regular bike in the shop, I managed to pick up something so I don't entirely miss the 2015 fall mountain biking season.

This bike is entry-level even by 2003 standards... it's heavy.  Spring shocks (that don't seem to absorb all that much).  26'er.  And rim brakes!  Internal bottom bracket, that wiggles, ohhhh maaaaan.

What more do you want for $100?

Swapped on some Crank Brothers pedals from another bike, replaced the seat/seatpost with one I borrowed from my cyclocross bike.  Replacing the bottom bracket ($15).

It's not bad!  I took it out last week and it got the job done, had a really fun ride.  Rocks, logs, everything, did OK.  A little teeth chattery, heavy on the climbs, but not bad.

Once my regular wheels are back I just might hang on to this bad boy as a tooling around kind of bike, something I can lock up at the store without having it disappear on me... or hand down to my soon-to-be-quite-tall-kids.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Alcohol Free Beer

My struggles with weight are to some degree tied to my lack of judgment after a beer or two, so I decided to park the alcohol consumption for a few months.

(Ok "park" is a strong term ... "moderate"?  I still allow myself 2 drinks a week.)

I still really like the taste of beer, though, so I decided to try to find a decent alcohol-free beer.

Decent Beer That's Alcohol Free - Mission Impossible?

I thought so at first, but that's mostly because the grocery store offerings are relatively terrible.

Then I found this website:

I bought one of their mixed cases ("Ultimate Beer Mixed Case") just to try and see what I liked.  $55 + shipping for 24 near bears seemed steep, but I thought it would be worth the plunge to check it out.

It's very hit and miss.  Some of them just don't taste that good.  I didn't like the Erdinger for example - which I expected to really enjoy since I love regular Erdinger.  But it had a weird aftertaste.

On the other hand two really stuck out (so far):

1.  Clauthaler Amber

This tastes so good, the most like a "real" complex beer of the ones I've had so far.  To me it was indifferentiable from real beer, just solidly delicious.

2.  Weihenstephaner Non-Alcoholic Wheat

This one tastes great, much like a real wheat bear would taste.  500mL is a little much for near beer in my opinion... I really just need a taste most of the time.  But really delicious.

3.  Beck's (Grocery Store)

I've managed to find the Non-alcohol Becks in my local stores, it's relatively cheap and pretty good.  My go-to everyday kind of non-alochol beer.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Broken Norco Nitro 9.3

I love this bike, so was very sad to find a crack in the frame!

This is no small crack, it goes allll the way around the back.  This frame is done.

It sounds like the frame warranty will take care of it, but I will know for sure next week.

UPDATE:  Warranty will cover it.  Thanks Norco!  Frame has been ordered, just waiting and riding a cheapo replacement bike I bought to get through the fall... more on that later!

Seat Tubes...

For now I just want to complain about the design... it's not just this bike, it's a lot of mountain bikes these days.  They have top tubes that slope down so far, and then a stubby little bit of seat tube above it.  This results in a big long chunk of seat post sticking up beyond the frame.

Seat posts have a "minimum insertion point" to make sure there's a lot of seat post in the seat tube.  I had more than the minimum inserted - well over an inch, probably more.  So should have been fine.

But I'm fairly tall and not all that light (185lbs neighbourhood) so that's a lot of weight to have moving around on that seatpost.  By it sticking out this far it creates leverage that presumably eventually caused the seat tube to fatigue.  It shouldn't, as long as the "minimum insertion point" is met, but here we are.

Hopefully they do right by the warranty and I get a nice shiny new frame!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mountain Biking at Buckwallow (Gravenhurst, Ontario)

Great day!

Buckwallow has a little of everything.  All the singletrack is rated 1-5, with 5 being "you are batshit crazy"... and as the picture below shows, I was tempted and bit off more than I could chew.

$10 to get in - it's a private trail so completely reasonable.  I was there Thanksgiving weekend, Sunday at 8am, there were only two other guys in the forest when I arrived.

The guy who runs the place was there to show me the map and give me some suggestions.  Awesome!

His favourite is "Missing Link", and he said the crowd favourite is "Still Here".  Loved both and for entirely different reasons.

Missing Link uses the natural terrain, like the exposed rock as banking... it was wonderful.  Rooty near the end, but just very much in tune with the forest.

Still Here is the exact opposite - it's like a roller coaster, hard packed twisty speedy fun.

The two trails really sum up the place - everything is different and something for everyone.  I checked out pretty much everything, which lead to this unfortunate incident...

I'm not a "rock guy" - just not used to riding over rock.  I came up to a pretty significant rock drop, locked up to stop, then as I fell over slowly couldn't unclip from my pedal... roooookie stuff.  Shin bashed against the rock, lucky not to break it!  Oh well.

Other than that I spent over 2 hours there and loved it, lots of fun, lots of challenges, lots of beautiful terrain... fall colours....... wonderful.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Durham Hilly Hundred - 100km of hilly cycling pain and pleasure

What it Is

A 100km cycling route that features as many hills as could be found in Durham.

Where to Park

Captain Michael Vandenbos or All Saints High School in Whitby - both on Country Lane North of Rossland.

The Route

Here it is on Strava:

And my first crack at it:

Or gmap-pedometer:

Route Description

Most of the time you're either going up or down, so I won't highlight every slope... but here are some of the key hills.

4km - short steep little hill, wake up the legs
10.5-12.5 - Ashburn hill.  First test.
20-23.5 - Coates rollers.  Big rollers.
25 - not a hill but careful on Simcoe and Shirley Road - best to do when not too busy (avoid rush hour)
30-32 - Purple Hill.  Big.  Higest point of the ride.
36-38 - Blackstock Pain.  A couple very steep hills, 13-14% at times!  Leg burners
39-41 - Long climb, not terribly steep
43-44.5 - Long, steep climb
48 - short steep climb
54.5 - steep climb, medium length, but by now your legs are feeling it, right?
56.5 - another climb, not quite as steep
61 - long climb, not terribly steep
68-71 - rollers - going west they're not that bad (try east sometime)
74-77 - Howden rollers - paaaain.  Steep, up and down
79.5 - Up high again - short climb, but nice view at the top
81 - steep short hill!
96 - one last steep one... VERY steep.  Short.  But STEEP.

Enough?  I hope so!  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Race Report: RBC Run for the Kids 15km

Me ready to rock
(and breaking the rule about
not wearing the race shirt
before you run the race)
That went really well!  I wasn't expecting much, stepped on the scale this morning and 194lbs met me (first time I've been that high in ages) - so I figured this wasn't going to go well.

Final result: 1:14:01 (4:57/km)

Not bad!

No pressure, maybe it helped.  I felt my pacing was spot on - I was getting passed uphill near the start, but didn't panic and just let my pace drop.  Made it up on the downhills, passed quite a few people that way.

The course was pretty hilly, we went down into a ravine and back up, then into a park and down into the same ravine, and back up!  Pacing and patience, 15km is not so short that you can go balls-out and not pay for it later.

At the halfway point I was averaging about 5:01/km and was still feeling well within myself, so figured a sub-5:00/km was possible.  Steadily increased the effort until the last kilometer, then let it all out.  In the end I finished at 1:14:01 and a 4:57/km pace, which is really good for my current fitness.


People are so ridiculously impatient... one road crossing, there were people honking and honking, I could hear them from a kilometer away.  When I finally got there I saw a lady almost drive over the cop signalling her to stop - he slammed his hands on her hood, presumably partially to get her to not run him over (although partially in frustration I'm sure!).  

Just no love for events that close roads in our car city, even ones that raise millions of dollars for a good cause... ah well, that's life in the big city!  It actually got my heart rate up and probably helped me finish off with a good kick, so thanks. :)

The Race

My overall impression was very good - lots of drink stations, fully stocked with water/Gatorade.  Course was interesting and fun.  Vibe was super positive.

The only thing I didn't love was joining up with the 7km folks for the last kilometer... the timing wasn't great, we joined the slower people in the 7km race (people who had taken 40 minutes to get to their 6km point...) so there was a lot of weaving around to keep up to pace.  It was really wide, though, we had the entire southbound lanes of Yonge street (3 lanes?) so it wasn't that bad, but if they could push that 7km start back about 15 minutes it would have been perfect.

All in all a good time, will probably be back next year.