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Discussion Starter #361
I have a nice mellow blue called "Black Dog" that I regularly ride through Bert Flinn park. Yesterday, about halfway along the path, I came around a big stump and came face to face with a mother bear and two cubs. Okay, "face to face" may be a bit of an exaggeration. They were about thirty to forty yards away. But the mama was sitting up, looking right back at me.

There's a thing you can do with a mountain bike where you grab the seat with one hand, the handlebar stem with the other, lift, and swivel 180 degrees. I did that. Left at a nice leisurely "nothing to see here" pace. The weird thing is that, when i was going into Black Dog, a family of three on mountain bikes was coming out. I don't know if they didn't see the bears, or if the bears had moved in after the family went by. But they didn't seem freaked or anything.

Anyway, other than this one cardiac-inducing episode, I'm having a lot of fun with mountain biking. I'm getting used to blue runs, to the point where I wouldn't feel too terrified about riding them. I don't do most of the features yet, but that'll come. The important thing for me is still the conditioning. On that subject, I rode down the hill to the gym today, then rode up the hill back home. Now that's a workout! If I can do that a couple of times a week, I'll be happy.

I'm working on bunny hops, the bike equivalent of ollies. I think I'm just starting to get them, at least the first half of the move. It seems I wasn't going low enough on the initial down-weighting. Practice continues.
 

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Discussion Starter #362
Okay, I'll start by admitting that a lot of my motivation for taking up mountain biking has been for conditioning. My fitness level last snowboarding season sucked, and while I could get away with that on the locals, on Whistler you really, really feel it. I run and I go to the gym, but I don't tend to do either one enough because they're about as much fun as doing the dishes.

So I took up mountain biking on the assumption that there'd be a little more variety and therefore ongoing motivation.

I was right. Turns out, though, it's not just the variety (trails, scenery, etc) but also something that attracts me to snowboarding as well--there's a lot to learn. Every time I go out, I'm working on some particular skill or technique. Right now, bunny hops are busting my ass. Bunny hops are the mountain biking equivalent of ollies. You pull back on the bike, stand up, and push the handlebars forward to bring the rear wheel off the ground. The sequence, timing, and movement of mass are so similar as to be forehead-slapping. Oh, and one other similarity: I can't do either one worth shit.

But with the MTB, I'm keeping at it, which is something I haven't really done on a snowboard. So I do actually expect to have the technique nailed by the time MTB season is over. I also think this, along with a lot of other skillz, will seriously inform my snowboarding.

And it's not just bunny hops. Turning, handling roughs, transitioning, features (yes, MTB has park features), all of these things translate surprisingly well between the two sports. Oh, and fear. That's the big one. I'm old, no longer invulnerable, and excessively concerned about my skeletal integrity, so I tend to be cautious when snowboarding. And also when MTBing, no surprise. But I'm improving rapidly, and I'm constantly pushing my limits in terms of handling drops and such. I think it's going to positively affect my attitude when I get back on a board and face those same fears, but with a nice, cushy blanket of snow to land on instead of gravel.

And since I actually have done a dirt nap or two, I now have an altered perspective on danger levels. Granted, you can die just as thoroughly on a forty-foot jump on a board, but that's really not where I am. Or will ever be. And on the fifteens and twenties, where I want to live, I'd pretty much have to land on my head to really bugger myself up, I think.

Anyway, I write this because yesterday I had one of the best MTB sessions of the year. I tried a couple of new blue trails, and although I had to walk a couple of patches, for the most part I did really well. Oh, and no bears this time :scared2:. The blue that I've been doing regularly, Black Dog, is now much less of a challenge. In fact, I'm hitting it faster and with more confidence than I used to hit the green Bert Flinn trail.

And, as a bonus, my fitness is way up. I have to stop and rest less often on uphills, and I've reached the point where I can get my breath back by just pedalling more slowly. So, all good.

And the best part of this? Summer is now no longer just that frustrating interval between snowboard seasons.
 

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Discussion Starter #363
I've booked a one-day training camp at the Trek Dirt Series Mountain Bike Camp. Yeah, that's right. MTB lessons. Who'da thought?

I've also identified some techniques and skills that I need to work on, and the order in which I need to learn them. They are:

- Hop off (jumping off the bike to the side, when it's about to go bad)
- Hopping in place (balancing while standing still)
- Pumping
- Wheelies
- Manuals
- Rear wheel lift
- Bunny hop

There are lots more techniques, of course, but they all build on these ones. And some of these build on earlier ones.

And one other thing that is more a question of form: apparently I put too much weight on my hands when riding, which causes my hands to tingle. Have to work on that.

I'm now officially a bike nut.
 

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Discussion Starter #364
I've now purchased a street bike--a Trek 520--thereby completing my conversion to the dark side. Or, well, since it's summer stuff, maybe the bright side?

Regardless, I did a couple of short highway rides in Whistler this week on the new bike. It took some getting used to. Street cycles have changed a lot since back in the day. The biggest single item is the location of the shifters. My first ten-speed (and my second street bike, an 18-speed) had the shifters on the down tube, and you shifted by feel because there was no index shifting. Now, the shifters are integrated with the brake levers -- you push a small lever inwards to go to a smaller sprocket, and you push the shifter itself inwards to go to a larger sprocket. It's weird, and I'm still not sure I like it.

Another change is the conformation of the handlebar. The bar is tilted upwards now, creating a gripping point behind the top of the brake levers. The gripping point isn't new--I used to use it back in the day--but the fact that it's bolstered by the upper side of the brake levers is definitely a change for the better. The downside of this, though, is that the brake levers are a little farther up out of reach when you're in the sprint position. I guess the idea is that if you're sprinting, you shouldn't be thinking of braking. But shifting is equally awkward.

I was going to take a hex wrench to my handlebars and adjust them downwards, but then it occurred to me that I'll probably be in the more upward position a lot more often than I'll be in the sprint position. So for now, I'm leaving it.

Street biking is definitely a different critter from mountain biking. Other than the obvious differences in danger, I mean. With street, it feels more like a marathon jog. With MTB, it feels more like a series of sprints. By the time I was finished with my street rides, I felt like I'd been to the gym and done leg work.

But whatever. The whole point of this summer exercise is to get me in better condition for snowboarding, and I think this will help. I'll leave the street bike up in Whistler though. Highway 99 in the Whistler area has nice, wide, smooth shoulders and a lot of other bikes, so I actually feel quite safe, despite the large trucks thundering past at highway speeds. It's a lot different from riding in the Lower Mainland, which feels a lot like Running Man or Thunderdome, or something equally lethal.
 

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Discussion Starter #365
I took my MTB to the shop to get a tune-up and checkover, in anticipation of the bike camp in September (Yes, I'm going to a bike camp). That left me without a bike on what is turning out to be a very nice day. So, I went for a walk.

Not just any boring street walk. I decided to walk around the Bert Flinn trails and investigate some of the trail offshoots that I've noticed from time to time, or that I've been reluctant to try. And wow, was it worth it! The trails that show up on Trailforks are far outnumbered by the trails that don't. And there are some great ones! I didn't bring my Garmin with me, and I really should have. it would have helped make a record of where I went. But I did note a couple of trailheads worth checking out on the bike, and I'll be going there are soon as I get it back.
 

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Discussion Starter #366
The "edge catch" mentioned above is/was another symptom of my ongoing problem with toe-side turns. If, for some reason, I'm hesitant on my toe-side, I'll get the turn and edge transition out of sync. This results in me having the downhill (heel) edge engaged late in the turn. This is generally a Bad Thing and I've been working on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #367
snowangel99;bt3785 said:
Do you roll? No seriously! I had sore knees in the past but turns out I just had a tight IT band. Now I roll out my IT band almost daily and never have knee pain or problems.
This did turn out to be part of the problem. I also got some stretches from the physio, and between them and a rolling pin, my leg was better in a couple of weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #368
Today is Sept 1st, which means we're on the downhill run to the beginning of snowboarding season. Yes, it's still MTB season, and I'll post a few more things on that subject, but it's now also the part of the year where I start to ramp up my obsessive pre-snowboarding-season behavior.

As part of said behavior, I just re-read the last couple of years of blog entries. I'm kind of surprised at how useful they are. They give me an insight into my attitudes in previous seasons, and what events were shaping those attitudes. The takeaway for me is that, over the last couple of years, I've snowboarded less and been less aggressive when I was boarding. Part of that is a couple of bad seasons, part of that is a couple of injuries, and part is simple fear. And less snowboarding means stagnation, which means less fun, which means less inclination to get up the damned hill.

So what's in store for this year?

First, if there's one thing that mountain-biking has taught me, it's that the injury risks in snowboarding are way less. That's not to say that you can't get injured snowboarding, but it takes a little more effort. If nothing else, falling on snow doesn't embed gravel and twigs in your skin. The point here is that I can be more aggressive than I have been the last couple of years.

Another issue with stagnation is that I've stopped practicing techniques like switch riding and ollies. I have to get back to working on those things. They're important, and the lack of skill in those areas impacts everything else. So I will take time out to go to the beginner slope or whatever and practice small techniques.

One of the several things that has helped cause stagnation for me is being out of shape. Getting tired quicker means shorter sessions on the mountain, means less benefit from mountain days overall. Well, I'm definitely doing something about that this year. Mountain biking turns out to be not only fun, but also a great conditioning mechanism. I've started losing weight, I'm a lot more fit, I'm deliberately doing regular stretching to avoid injuries, and as a side benefit mountain biking also gives me practice at desensitizing to speed and slope.

Another of my many problems is a tendency to get into a rut, figuratively. I tend to ride the same runs in the same way unless I make an effort to dig myself out. So the cure for that is to make a conscious decision to start at a different place every day.

Weather is also a factor. Bad weather on the locals is not really something you can get away from in any meaningful way. If it's raining in the Lower Mainland, it'll be raining on all of Cypress and all of Seymour. Not so on Whistler. You can go up the top area or down to the bottom slopes and get different weather, whether that be precip or fog or icy conditions. So rather than just throw my hands up in disgust, I'll try heading for a different part of the mountain to see what's what.

One of the things I'll be doing this year to help myself out is getting a Season's Lesson Pass at Whistler. I haven't decided between the Max-15 or the Unlimited yet, but either way--bypass the lift lines on powder days, get lessons whenever I want, get pushed outside my comfort zone... It's basically no-downside. Okay, it costs money, but other than that.

I also have to make sure to buy the First Trax tickets this year. They are a great way to get up the mountain early, and get some food without having to make it myself. The only downside to them, and it's an irritation more than anything, is that on powder days, the line-up is already huge by the time the first bus drops me off. So on those days, I think I'm going to have to drive to the parking lot. Fortunately, there's a monthly pass for Whistler parking.

Jeez, this is an expensive sport.

On the plus side, I've now got so much gear and soft goods that I really can't come up with much of an excuse to buy more shit. So that justifies things like the lesson pass. (Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.)

The point of all this rambling, though, is that this is the year that I get serious. This is the year that I put 50+ days under my belt, as an absolute minimum. This is the year that I hit moguls, blacks, jumps, park lines, learn to ride switch, and all the other stuff I've been moaning about for years.

A couple of other items to keep in mind, though...

First, I will have to put some skiing time in. My family skis, and I'll likely ski when I'm with them. That'll be mostly Seymour, since that's where they are the most comfortable. But I'll also be hitting the mountain with friends this year. They ski, so the same logic applies, more or less. And they'll have Cypress passes, so there's that. However, that probably won't be more than once a week, so I still have four days a week to snowboard.

And on the subject of passes, I will once again have passes at Seymour, Cypress, and Whistler. So there really is. No. Excuse.
 

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Discussion Starter #369
I have a number of things I want to cover, not all bike-related.

First, I weighed in at 205 today. I haven't seen the south side of 206 since the fall of 2016, so that is a huge, huge win for me. And my weight is trending downwards as I continue to get lots of exercise with the MTB. :dance1:

Second, on my ride today, I did my laps backwards, and ended up accidentally going down the connector that's been freaking me out all this time. Sort of an "oops, okay I'm dead, might as well relax," kind of thing. And I nailed it. So on the next lap, I did it again. There are still a couple of connectors that I'm giving the side-eye to, but mostly they involve either thick bush or branches or crap across the trail. :dance1:

Third, I ended up buying the unlimited Max-4 lesson pass. Honestly, if I use it every day in the morning, I can beat the line-ups. And if it doesn't work out, then lesson learned. :dance1:

Fourth, this Friday is the Trek Dirt Series bike seminar. I'm really stoked for that. :dance1:

Those are the major things. I also have some minor items...

I've gone back to starting my rides in the park under the power-lines again. I do a little technique practice every time, before continuing on to Bert Flinn. So far, not much to report, but it'll come. I'm concentrating on track stands and manuals for now.

Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun with MTBing, and this means my whole friggin' year is now fun, not just the winter. :dance1:
 

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Discussion Starter #370
I did the day-camp yesterday. Trek hosts one-day and two-day camps, but the two-day was already booked solid. The one-day, however, was under-booked, to the point where we had 5 students for 4 trainers in our group in the morning, and 3 students for 2 trainers in the afternoon. So a win right off the bat.

The Dirt Series advertises that they will tailor the course to your level, and I believe it. One of the reasons we had so few people in our group was because they were splitting people up. I think there might have been two MTB groups and two DH groups overall. I don't know how the other groups fared, but ours was a blast!

As any good learning environment should be, the training was just outside my comfort zone, but not so much that I was scared shitless. Well, there was this one bridge, but I walked it. Six to eight foot drop on one side of a sloped, curved bridge was just a little too much for me.

But I learned a lot about wheelies, manuals, pops, drops, picking lines, and controlling the bike. Oh, and I won a Smith helmet in the draw. So a very good day.

Except for the part after the day, you know, the part where you sit down on the couch and can't get up. Yeah, eight hours of biking can leave you pretty stiff. Better today, though, which leads me to believe that my conditioning strategy is working. That bodes well for snowboarding this year.

I also stopped in at Whistler client services and verified that the lesson pass is attached to my season's pass. The only reason I was worried was a phrase in the confirmation email that implied I'd have to go in and redeem it. Nope, all good.

On the minus side, it's been raining for about a week straight, and the forecast is for at least another week of downpour. On the upside, that cools things off faster and maybe means a good, cold winter. On the downside, it's raining fucking all the time.

Oh, well. Every day of rain is one day closer to snowboarding season, I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #371
I've been riding a couple of times since the last posting, but mostly nothing special. I continue to hit things that I crawled over or even walked in the past, so I keep improving. I'm also hitting the trails faster.

Unfortunately, it's been pretty much 100% cage match rainfall for the last ten days at least. THIS is the Coquitlam I remember from my youth -- rain from the end of summer until the beginning of the next summer, with lead-gray skies in between. Okay, that might be one of those "In my day" things. But still.

So I have lately discovered bike skills parks. There's the Burnaby Mountain one on the Barnett Highway at Takeda, there's one in Mundy Park near Chilko, there's one on Shaughnessy near Lincoln, and there's one in Leigh Park on Soball. They have various features, and are in various stages of repair, but I think all are worth visiting for one reason or another.

I visited the Burnaby Mountain one last weekend. It has some interesting stuff, but not really a lot of flow. Each feature kind of just sits out in the field, and you figure out what you want to hit. One of the items is a raised wooden pump track. I tried it out, but as usual with raised features, I was tentative, and I ended up going off the side, unfortunately high up on one of the bumps. Exactly what I'm most afraid of, and the result was exactly what I'm most afraid of. I went down nose-first and almost went over the bars. It brought into focus, though, exactly what I should be working on. The way to handle that type of situation is to either manual up the front tire so you land flat, or wheelie up the front tire for the same result. Of course, I haven't really worked drops at speed, except at the Trek bike camp, and that was just for long enough to get a taste.

So today I went to the Mundy Park bike park. They have a couple of circuits, one green and one blue (supposedly). They were both a little on the easy side, except for the matter of drops. In particular the green circuit had a couple of drops that I could choose from--not more than a foot to fifteen inches, so I could inch down them if I had to. But the point is to learn to do drops at speed. It took a good half-dozen attempts before I got the timing right on pumping the front, but eventually I was coming off horizontally and landing on both wheels. It's a great feeling. My concern, though, is that I'm not shifting back enough, instead depending on the front fork rebound. That's not good when I get into bigger drops.

I'll be going back there, and also trying out a few of the other ones. The Shaughnessy bike park is close enough to cycle to--in fact I've been cycling to the trails in that area without even realizing it was there. Unfortunately it's the least well maintained bike park, and turns into a swamp when it rains, so I'll have to wait for enough good weather to drain it.

Meanwhile, though, I have a list of techniques that I'm working on, and I'm gradually making progress on them. Incremental improvements--the older biker's mantra.
 

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Discussion Starter #372
The weather here just abruptly transitioned from summer to winter, with very little in the way of autumn. A week ago it was warm, if rainy. Yesterday when I went out for a ride, I got cold enough to stiffen up a little. This might be temporary, of course. On the other hand, it snowed on Whistler right down to the top of the Emerald chair, it snowed on the Coquihalla, and looking at the Seymour webcams this morning, it either snowed a little bit or they had some vicious frost overnight. Something white, anyway.

So yeah, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I guess I'm going to have to accept that I won't nail bunny hops this year. That's fine, though. I have made progress on wheelies, track-stands, and the beginning of manuals. I may or may not have a few sessions left this year, of course--maybe not full-on trail rides, but at least some time out on the grassy field working on techniques.

I had a lot of fun with MTBing this year, and have definitely upped my fitness level. An additional benefit, which should have been obvious, is strengthened joints. Knees in particular. I was having knee pain early on in the MTB season, but that's long since gone away. And that will help going into snowboarding season.

We probably have a few more days of biking in Whistler, since it tends to warm up faster during the day (Continental climate vs Oceanic), but it still looks like there will be a gap of a month or so between seasons. I guess that's my autumn.

It's also just about time to check with the Boardroom if they have new stock in for winter. I'm not positive at this point that I want to buy the new Heritage or something else. Or nothing, since I already have a lot of boards. Maybe bindings instead. Hmmmm.
 

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Discussion Starter #373
It's time for a snowboarding-related post.

I'm at Whistler for a few days, and I just saw an announcement for the Blackcomb Turkey Sale. Which, despite the name, is a huge winter-goods sale. I'm not sure if it's clearing last year's stuff or featuring this year's stuff. Maybe both. But worth checking out anyway.

I bought a new Burton jacket yesterday. I didn't like last year's colorways, but this one is nice. It's this one in blue/amber/red. TBH, I'd promised myself I'd take it easy this year with the Visa. Not a good start.

I've just downloaded the EpicMix app, which was mentioned on the Turkey Sale web page. The reviews of the app are not good (mostly one-star) but they are A) a couple of years old, and B) directed more at Vail Resorts than at the app. So I'll give it a fair shot. One feature it has that has already got me interested is a mountain trail map that shows me my current position. That's something the Slopes app needs. In Slopes, you can't check your current position on the fly.

When we got to Whistler yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see snow halfway down the visible runs. I knew there was snow up top, but assumed it ended maybe around the bottom of the Emerald Express. Nope. Clearly visible from the village.

As well, the forecast is predicting snow for several days later this week. Notwithstanding the tendency for such predictions to evaporate like mirages when you get close, I'm still excited. I mean, it's still September FFS. They're calling it 'Wintember' in Alberta. One can only hope this will continue to deepen. Side note: my wife disagrees strongly.

So, yeah, looks like it's gonna be a great season.
 

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Discussion Starter #374
It's the end of MTB season and coming up on the beginning of snow season, so this will be a bit of a crossover post.

First, on the MTB front, I came closer to killing myself yesterday than I think I ever have on a bike. I generally do the Hett Creek / Lower Backyard trail combo on my rides, and there's one stretch about twenty yards long that runs long the edge of a ravine. I usually walk the bike there because it's a risky section with a huge downside. Yesterday for some reason I was feeling brave/foolish and I tried to ride it out. And I got exactly what I should have expected--got stopped by a root and started to go over the embankment. I was able to grab a tree with one hand and my bike with the other and recover, but it still scared the crap out of me. I have to conquer that stretch eventually, but it probably won't happen this season.

On the subject of MTB stuff I haven't done, I still have my list of techniques that I have to master. I spent a few minutes in the park under the power-lines today, working on trackstands and wheelies, and I was very pleased with my improvement, but I've still got a long way to go. Next spring I'm going to have to come up with a schedule that includes time to work on techniques. Maybe I'll start every ride with a few minutes in the power-line park, or maybe I'll go down to the Coquitlam River trails once a week. The trails there are wide and easy, and perfect for practicing wheelies, manuals, and such. But for now, it looks like it's winding down. There's some interesting weather coming in this week, and I don't think I'll be worried about biking if things pan out.

Starting on Tuesday, and for most of the rest of the week, we've got some kind of system coming in from the arctic, and the predictors are for snow on all the mountains for several days running. And not just a few sprinkles. Over the course of several days, snow-forecast.com is talking about over a meter total. Of course, as previous years have shown, predictions are one thing, reality is another. But one can hope.

I went to my first Whistler Turkey Sale event on Friday. Or tried to. I arrived to find a line-up several hundred yards long. The line-up was coming up on a quarter mile long by the time I gave up and left, the line not having moved in the slightest. We drove by the area later, and there was still a huge line-up. I theorize that they only let a certain number of people in at a time, probably due to fire regulations or something. But there is nothing that I need or want that would justify standing in a line-up for several hours. I'd rather pay retail.

Not that I'd have to. A lot of the shops in the village were having mini-Turkey-Day sales of their own, so if I'd actually needed something I probably could have picked it up. But as far as the Turkey Day sale itself, I'll be ignoring that in the future.

I've pulled the winter equipment storage tubs out, and I'll be making room for everything over the next little while. And packing away the summer stuff, which will likely include my biking clothing and equipment. Kind of a sad/happy thing. But meanwhile, we've got all our passes and we're ready to go as soon as the snow gets deep enough. Let the season begin!
 

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For track stands.... try practicing on grass. Preferably with the bike pointed up a slight (...or even significant) uphill grade. It's like the difference between doing a balance board on pavement or carpet. The grass sort of grips the tires compared to asphalt and keeps the tires from rolling/turning too quick.

Pointing the bike up a grassy slope to practice lets you correct quickly by rolling back slightly when you feather the brake lever.

I got very good at track stands starting this way. I can balance both seated and standing and stay upright without dabbing thru just about any length stoplight. ;)
 

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I was working my ass off getting a business started this summer so my MTB is sitting in the garage with two flat tires. I didn't ride a single time this summer.
 

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Do you really have to go skiing also? If you want to get better at snowboarding, why spend time on skis? Just bring your board while your family and friends ski.
 

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On the plus side, I've now got so much gear and soft goods that I really can't come up with much of an excuse to buy more shit.
Yeah.... that's not gonna fly:cautious:
There's always an excuse to buy more stuff.... oh look, portable usb charged boot dryers. Like I'm gonna use them more than once. And that's only a small part of my shopping extravaganza...
 

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Yeah.... that's not gonna fly:cautious:
There's always an excuse to buy more stuff.... oh look, portable usb charged boot dryers. Like I'm gonna use them more than once. And that's only a small part of my shopping extravaganza...
Sadly you are correct. I've bought two jackets since that post.
 
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