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Discussion Starter #461
Dammit

Went for a ride yesterday, and my bike started to squeak. Got worse and worse over the course of the ride. I determined pretty quickly that it was the rear brake, and a close inspection showed that one of the brake pucks was frozen, causing the brake pad to rub lightly all the time. Thus the squeal.

Trek PoCo is backlogged well into the second half of August for servicing, and they don't seem to have any mechanism for emergencies. Fortunately, Trek Maple Ridge had an opening next day (today, as I write this). And the whole thing went far more smoothly than last time, to the point where I'm rethinking my general negative impression of that location. Maybe everyone (including me) was just having a bad day last time.

Anyway, it's in for service, and I'm getting a Level 1 done at the same time. Now that I know "ready Wednesday" means ready end of day Wednesday, I'm able to plan better. I'm going up to Whistler for a few days, and will be back Thursday, so that works out perfectly for me, and in Whistler I can ride the EX 8.

On a somewhat related subject, while I was in the shop I noticed several bikes hanging from hooks. New bikes. I commented, and the service guy said sure, but those are the "over $3K" bikes, and you don't stay in business selling those. So I glean from this that they're mostly deficient in the more "budget" inventory and that's what's killing them. Interesting.

As a side-bar, I'm pretty sure one of those hanging bikes was the new Fuel EX 8 XT, and I drooled. I also began mentally running through my finances, which is never a good sign. I wonder if I should phone them?

No. (slap). Bad.

I am such a gear whore.

Edit: Oh, Jesus, I just checked the website, and it is a Fuel EX 8 XT, and it's in my size (ML). No, no, no, no, no, make it stop...
 

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Discussion Starter #462
Whistler Riding

I'm up in Whistler for a couple of days, and went riding yesterday and today. Yesterday I did all the 'usual' trails, plus White Gold Traverse and Peaches en Regalia. Those two definitely are ass-kickers. Not hugely difficult, but enough twists and switchbacks and steep sections to make you work. Plus White Gold is quite long, so definitely a workout.

Today I finally got up the nerve to seek out Fountain of Love and Pinocchio's Furniture. I'd been hesitant about them because they looked pretty brutal on the videos on Trailforks. And, as it turns out, I was right. Those are possibly the hardest blue trails so far. The rock gardens on Fountain of Love are many and difficult, and Pinocchio's Furniture consists of mostly ladder bridges. I'm sure there are at least a half-dozen, including one that combines significant altitude with a tight right-hand turn. I walked that one.

Actually, I walked a lot of sections. Or at least dabbed and had to restart. Of course, I've done that with a lot of trails the first couple of times, so it doesn't particularly worry me. But I've definitely got a hierarchy of difficulty going in Whistler. I think there might still be two or three blue trails I haven't seen yet, and I'll check them out over the next couple of weeks, but I'll probably be starting to investigate blacks by the end of this season. That's not bad. Not bad at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #463
More Random Updates

I'm back in Coquitlam, and went to Bert Flinn this morning. Several items...

First, I took a look at the ladder roll near the bottom of Jo-Jo, and for some reason it looks less steep each time I eyeball it. I'm probably a half-dozen rides away from trying it.

Second, I hit the long skinny today, and aced it. As I long suspected, speed is your friend when doing skinnies.

Third, I did that freaky section just before the bridge on Hett Creek and almost aced it. Unfortunately, almost does not count in mountain biking. I hit a root right at the end and went OTB. On the one hand, argh! On the other hand, I discovered that I can still roll out of a fall properly. No damage to anything but my pride. Interestingly, it happened right at the tree that I grabbed when I went over the embankment that last time, so that's obviously the trouble point. However, the big takeaway is that I successfully traversed most of the section, and just need to get over those especially impressive roots right at that tree. I'll know for next time.

I also went up to the field today and did a brief technique practice. Sadly, I think that field isn't really the best place to practice. The grass is beautiful, thick, and lush. Too thick. It's impossible to coast for any distance, and when doing wheelies I'm constantly fighting the friction. I think I'm going to have to go back to the field under the power lines, at least when it's dry.
 

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The Great Bicycle Shortage of 2020 extends to accessories, as it turns out. I ordered a few things a couple of weeks ago, and they still can't give me an ETA. Apparently things are so back-ordered that they haven't even scheduled production for some of the outstanding orders. I guess that's a good thing, business-wise. Just wish it didn't come at so high a price for everyone else.
It's brutal. We're strictly bike rental, no hardgoods retail, and we have access to 3 separate suppliers for parts and we're struggling just to keep our rental fleet operational! Things as simple as a snapped chain could sideline a bike, luckily some real local bike shops have had those essential items in stock to keep us going. But still it's frustrating not being able to buy 10 of everything that breaks often at cost so we're more prepared for the inevitable.
 
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Discussion Starter #465 (Edited)
So I have no idea what happened here. I heard a regular 'thwap' sound as I headed off to my morning ride. Eventually I spotted this on my front tire. Interestingly, although this was the biggest, there were about a half-dozen or so bubbles clustered around this big one, all along the center line of the tire. You can see another one just to the left of the biggie.

The Trek techs looked at it and were all like 'WTF?' as well. I think the inner wall probably was failing, like an aortic dissection or a hernia or something. This is the original tire, so I got a couple of good years out of it. Unfortunately they didn't have quite the same one in stock, so I had to get the next model down, which has smaller knobblies. Good enough for the level of riding I do, though.

154532


ETA: Someone on the pinkbike forum opined that it's a casing failure, which is basically what I thought. My theory is that my unfortunate encounter with a tree the other day split the casing in one spot and it spread. That would explain why all the dimples are around the same location.

Oh and BTW, Trek is backlogged for weeks to months for my particular tire. FML.
 

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Discussion Starter #466 (Edited)
I was a little off today, for some reason. Might have been the heat--it's pretty hot in BC right now. We're actually having an actual summer! And so far, without any haze from massive wildfires. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, yeah, a bit off. I dabbed several times where I shouldn't have dabbed, wobbled where I normally wouldn't have wobbled, put down one really heinous peddle strike where I should have known better... Oh, and fell off the long skinny on Jo-Jo.

That last item was both scary and kind of reassuring. Scary that I fell off (at the worst possible spot, too--ran right into a support log) but reassuring in that I survived. Didn't even really go down--just hopped on one foot for a few moments, trying to recover the bike.

I'm glad I got the ride in, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #467
I'm starting to realize that the reason I'm "off" occasionally isn't from being off my game--it's from being winded. I've started pushing my pace and degree of difficulty lately, and I'm having trouble keeping up with my ambition. It was really brought home to me today in Whistler. I did the Fountain of Love route, which goes Fountain of Love, Pinocchio's Furniture, Dwarf Nebula, etc. When I start with Dwarf Nebula, I'm pretty good with it. But starting with Fountain, by the time I got to Dwarf I was puffing and blowing, and dabbed several times. Not to mention that I'd already done a lap that included Grand Wazoo. So next session, I'm just going to go up Tin Pants and hit Dwarf Nebula and the rest directly. We'll see if that makes a difference.

On a different front, I've tried the Insta360 with several mounting options: Handlebar, helmet, backpack strap, and chest mount. Helmet and backpack strap are out of the running right off the bat for lousy POV. My complaint with handlebar is that the camera's stabilization smooths out the ride until it looks like I'm riding a paved trail--even when I'm going through a rock garden. The problem with the chest mount is that I get a lot of body in the shot--weird elongated arms, occasional head dip into frame, and constant pumping knees. I can probably get rid of that with an extender, and in fact may try one (I have one around somewhere). I might also consider trying the extender with the helmet mount--maybe just getting it forward of the visor will be enough to improve the view. I just hope the helmet mount will handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter #468
Some updates...

First, I went for a ride today and tried out Lower Backyard Trail all the way from the Jo-Jo exit. That's where you turn right at the electrical box instead of going all the way up the hill to the dog walk. The last time I did that was last year, I think, and I was pretty tentative. This time I just bashed my way through it. It takes a large gap between rides like that to really illustrate the level of improvement. It's not a bad trail at all, although as a blue it's pretty teal.

On Jo-Jo, I did both of the skinnies, and aced both. I still haven't quite gotten up the nerve to do the ladder roll, but I think if it had been dry today I might have done it. As it is, a surprise rainstorm overnight left everything a little slimy.

I continue to experiment with the insta360 and mounts. I've discovered that when I export to flat video, I can change the framing to the point where I just get handlebars and hands (like in the Lost Lake Trails video). That looks pretty damned good, and shows the bounce and jounce from rough trails well. I tried a helmet mount with an extender today, to get the camera past the helmet brim. It worked okay, but I'm not sure if the slightly wider view is enough to justify the more exposed camera. I'll want to give it a try on a trail before making up my mind once and for all. Either way, I think I will have arrived at a good mounting technique.

I've also nailed down the video editor. OpenShot is an open-source freeware app, which honestly is way, way, way better than the free Microsoft app that comes with Windows. I might also try iMovie for Apple products, since the video files start their life on my iphone. But that's for another day. I actually produced a (pretty bad) video of my Molly Hogan ride from last week. Very snoringly boring, but it's a proof of concept. I will re-shoot at some point, just so I have a complete set of trail rides on video.

Lastly, I've bought a couple of XR4 29x2.4 tires (or tyres, as they say on GMBN) for my EX 7. I'll start by replacing the front tire (they put on an XR3) for practice. The second tire is for a spare, since when you need one you generally need it NOW. I'll also have to pick up a 29x2.6 for my EX 8. It's a project for one of those rainy days when I can't ride.

My weight is now hovering just a pound or so either way of 200, fluctuating randomly. Or maybe based on pizza consumption :unsure:. My waist is still shrinking slowly. I'm starting to consider the possibility that my snowboarding clothes might be too big for me by the time the season hits. Wouldn't that be funny? (no.) OTOH, I've recently purchased a Bionic Action Jacket, which has all the armour I could possibly want. With less of me, there would be more room for that under my jacket. I still have to figure out some good armoured shorts, but there's lots of time. Meanwhile, if I'm wearing the full-face helmet, knee pads, and the Bionic jacket, I think I could tackle some of those bike features that are still freaking me out.
 

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Discussion Starter #469
Stinger!

Today I decided to go straight onto Backyard Bikes again, but I took a wrong turn and ended up on Stinger. Wooh! If Backyard is kind of teal, then Stinger is more midnight blue. Lots more drops, lots more rock gardens and rutty rolls, and all of them hard. I even walked one or two spots, although I'll probably ride them next time. Assuming there's a next time.

There's a fork at one point that's called "Stinger Exit." I wasn't sure why that would exist until I rode through the rest of Stinger. Wow. From that point on, it's black diamond. And kind of hard to find in places, honestly. So if I do Stinger again, I'll get off at Stinger Exit. I say if because the biggest problem with the trail is that it dumps you into Ioco, on Ioco road, which is basically sea level. No, literally. It runs along the side of the Burrard Inlet, which is salt water. So, sea level. Lots of up to get back home.

But other than that, I had a lot of fun. Burned over a thousand calories according to my Garmin, hit the two skinnies again, and didn't dab at all on my regular trails. So, a good day overall.
 

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Discussion Starter #470
I'm back in Whistler today. I went for a ride this morning, and tested the Insta360 with the helmet mount. First, it doesn't work well with a half-shell helmet (I think I've mentioned that already). The combo kept pressing the front of the helmet down my forehead into my glasses. As far as the image goes, though, it isn't bad. It's very similar to the chest-cam image, but from a higher angle. The biggest problem is that I move my head a lot more than I move my chest, so the image will be tossed around a bit more, even with the stabilization.

However, I couldn't re-test the chest mount as I forgot part of the mounting hardware. At that point (long story), I wasn't going back home for one more part, so I just packed it all and went for a ride. All in all, I did pretty well. I only dabbed once or twice, and I notice that I'm a lot less scared of bridges.

I stuck to easier trails today, Torture Never Stops, Disco Boy, Dinah Moe Humm, and White Gold Traverse. Had fun, got exercise. And that's really what the whole thing is about.

Tomorrow, I'll do it all again, but with the chest mount.
 

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Discussion Starter #471
Got back to Coquitlam today. I went riding in Whis yesterday, but decided not to drag the camera around. I had a pretty good day, hitting the harder trails. I will say that I believe Pinocchio's Furniture is the single hardest blue in the Lost Lake Trails area. At least the hardest one I've tried.

Today, I decided to take it easy since I went late in the afternoon and it was quite warm by that point. Instead of my usual Bert Flinn route, I went to the Coquitlam River. I did the south side trails, which are just essentially fire-roads. They weren't too bad. Then I went to the north side, to the trail up to Crystal Falls. Big mistake. Honestly, I think everyone on the planet went for a walk there today. I don't think I was able to hit a single feature or tough section without having to dodge one or more pedestrians. As a result, of course, I dabbed constantly. It was frustrating beyond belief. I even just fell over sideways at one point when I was trying to get around a hiker while avoiding rocks and roots, and I went up the side of a small incline with my front wheel. Zoop! Wheel slid out to the left, and I went down to the right. Interestingly, it didn't hurt (except my pride, of course). I've become terrified of falls and injuries, and I think I may have exaggerated the consequences in my mind. So a learning moment.

Regardless, I got my exercise in, so no loss overall.
 

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Discussion Starter #472
One of the better days

Today was great! For some reason I was just feeling ready to attack anything. So I hit the ladder roll at the intersection of Starz and Jo-Jo. I remember when I hit the bottom of it, I thought "Is that it? That's all?" Seriously, I had obviously been overthinking it. Turned out to be a total non-event.

But I was so pumped, I also hit the medium jump (technically I think it's actually a drop) at the bottom of Jo-Jo. That didn't get the same reaction, though. There's definitely a thump when I land, although today I think I managed to keep the front wheel up enough to almost land flat. Ima call that a success too. So between those two and hitting the skinnies again, it was my first complete Jo-Jo run (I don't count the log skinnies -- no one does those).

I also did Lower Backyard Trail from the off-leash trail, being careful this time not to turn off onto Stinger. Another successful run.

Really, the only outstanding item is that short stretch on Hett Creek just before it intersects with the Backyard Trail, where I've wiped out twice, wrecked one tire, and almost slid into the ravine. But no biggie. 😬

Maybe next time.
 

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Discussion Starter #473
A perfect day

Seriously, today I did everything right. No dabs, no unexpected falls, not even any pedal strikes worth mentioning. I even did all the features, including getting through that hard section at the bottom of Hett Creek that I usually walk. I nailed all the Jo-Jo features, including doing the drop at the bottom. I'm still coming down a little nose-first on that, but I think it's just a matter of getting the timing right on the launch. And I've confirmed that I have enough room on the landing to slow down for the corner, so I think I'll be okay on that one in the future. The ladder roll isn't even an event any more.

So for local stuff, I think my next goal is one of the drops at one of the bike parks. But there will be a full-face helmet and probably some upper-body armor for that.

On another subject, I've overheard several (positive) comments on my bikes as I've ridden by hikers, both here and in Whistler. I'm not sure if they just don't get out much, or if it's because I've started washing the bikes :) . But either way, I guess the Trek Fuels really are nice-looking bikes.

On yet another subject, I'm still getting some numbness on my left hand after a while of riding. I'm fooling with the brake lever placement a bit to see if it will further alleviate things.
 

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Discussion Starter #474
Some misc updates

I moved the left brake lever around a bit, but it doesn't really seem to have helped. Might even be making it a bit worse. I'll try moving it in another direction to see if that works.

There were a couple of cyclists in the downhill section below the ladder roll, probably scoping out all the rock gardens and stuff. But I had to slow down to check that they weren't in my landing, so I hit the ladder roll a little slower than I should. No biffs, thank dog, but I felt my front wheel turn sideways for a moment as I went over the lip. So an item for the future--there is a minimum safe speed for going over things like that.

I'm not doing the weight shifting right going over the drop at the bottom of Jo-Jo. Instead of shifting back, I'm pulling up. it's still at least partially effective, but I really have to correct that. Interestingly, I was able to see myself come in for the landing today, whereas previously it was just jump/blur/land. So I think there's an aspect of habituation of the senses. Cool.

Going up Heritage Mountain blvd, I have a routine where I start in 3rd, shift to 2nd at a specific spot, and try to stay in 2nd as long as I can. Then I finish the climb in 1st, gasping and panting. Today I seemed to be having trouble. I couldn't get all the way to my spot to shift into 2nd, then I was struggling even with shifting early. When I finally gave up and shifted down to 1st, the bike shifted 2 gears. Derp. Started in the wrong gear. 🥴. OTOH, looked at as 4th, 3rd, 2nd, I did pretty damned good.

I got chased by a tribble on the trail today. Someone's small fluffy dog thought it was She-Ra, queen of the jungle, bringing down the mighty prey. Or something like that. The thing is, most of Bert Flinn is on-leash, except for the fire road. Most people have their dogs off-leash anyway, and I mostly couldn't care less because most people's dogs are well behaved or at worst too stupid to move. But if you have a dog you can't control in an on-leash area and it takes off after someone and bites them, you're looking at a world of trouble.

Mind you in this case, I think the tribble literally couldn't reach my legs.
 

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Discussion Starter #476
I took a kind of an odd spill today. More embarrassing than painful, really. I was going up the longer skinny near the bottom of Jo-Jo and I dropped off it to the left. No biggie, that's the shallow side. But then my right foot got caught between the bike and the edge of the skinny, and I went over the skinny to the right. Couldn't get my foot out to catch myself, so I just landed on my side.

So here's the thing. I wasn't hurt, except the back of my heel where I think I the pedal dug in when I was trying to pull my foot out. I wasn't even winded. I know this because I was able to swear fluently immediately. No blood, no bruises (so far), although I do expect to be sore later.

The point is, as I mentioned a few posts upstream, I'm way more concerned about consequences than I should be. I know you can get badly hurt mountain biking, but let's face it, you can get badly hurt street biking. Or driving a car. At the level that I ride, and assuming I don't start doing those elevated log skinnies and North Shore ladders, I should really be okay. Mostly.

Anyway, other than that it was a mostly uneventful ride, except there were a half-dozen riders scattered around the ladder roll area for some reason. They stayed out of the way, though. And no tribble chases today.
 

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Discussion Starter #477
I was right about being sore later. Looks like I bruised my hip in the fall, but not to the point where I'm limping or anything. Just can't sleep on my right side right now.

I took yesterday off, both to rest the hip and because I was on a roll with the writing. Today I was back out there, but I added North Starz to my route. It's not a supremely hard trail features-wise, just a couple of bridges and one rock drop that I may have to work my way up to. But it's kind of like Mama Bear in that it's twisty and rooty and technical. It also has some quick, steep climbs that were kicking my ass today. But that's okay--that's just practice.

And with the addition, my full route hits thirteen miles and just under a thousand calories.

I'll admit I was a little nervous about Jo-Jo today, after the spill the other day. But by the time I got there, I was thoroughly warmed up. I whipped through both skinnies, and even did the drop near the end. And it was a little less nose-heavy than last time. Hopefully I'll continue to improve on the weight-shifting.

I also went down Hett Creek and did the scary part again. I think one or two more disaster-free run-throughs and I'll be considering that one routine as well.

And I'm still getting more fit, I noticed today. Both the steep part of Backyard Bikes (just after the bridge) and the climb up Heritage Mtn Blvd are easier than previously. On the street climb, I'm going a little farther in 2nd each time before having to shift down.

There were a lot of bikes in the trails today. Not surprising, it being Labor Day weekend, I guess. But it wasn't really a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #478
I'm up in Whistler again. I've only gone riding twice this week, due to circumstances having nothing to do with biking. Wednesday was a pretty good ride, and not crowded at all. I'm amazed at how much the body count has dropped off since labor day.

There's a slight whiff of smoke in the air from the U.S. West Coast fires today; nothing like what we were getting last summer, and as long as it doesn't get worse, no biggie. But we're getting great weather right now, and I'd hate to have to skip on rides because of air quality.

Today I decided to wear my Insta360 on a chest mount and go ride some trails. The chest mount really isn't uncomfortable or obtrusive after about 2 minutes. And with the Apple Watch remote control app, controlling the camera is dead easy. The only downside is that when you're done for the day, you have to reboot the watch to get rid of the app as it won't go away on its own and it keeps trying to reconnect to the camera and sucking battery.

No big items to note on the ride, except it was over two and a quarter hours and I was pretty bagged by the end of it. Also, I dabbed on a couple of rock features that I seem to have a 50/50 success rate with. No real reason for it. I've decided, though, that I'm going to session any of those that I bail on next time. It's just practice.

I was also going to do No Horses today, but ran out of time. Maybe tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #479 (Edited)
Well, sadly, the smoke seems to have made its way to Whistler. I went out early this morning to get in a ride, just in case. Given the state of the lower mainland, it seemed a reasonable concern--and justified as it turned out. The air was okay at 8am, but by 10-10:30 or so it was starting to haze up. I think it's just going to get worse over the course of the day.

I sessioned the entrance to Toads of the Short Forest, where that switchback makes it difficult to get around without dabbing. Finally nailed it, although I may not be done with that stretch. I also made the climb up to the top of the rock face on Toads without issue this time. First gear and a bit of standing did it.

I still failed on that hard section of Dwarf Nebula, though. Didn't session it, although I should have. Maybe next time.

I did have time to try a couple of new trails. I tried No Horses, and honestly I can ride the whole thing except about a fifty-foot section that was just narrow and rooty with deep drops. I walked that stretch, although with practice I think I could probably manage it.

I also went up and investigated Packard Goose, I'm Not Satisfied, and Why Johnny Can't Read. They are not as hard as Pinocchio's Furniture, although I'd say the first two are harder than Fountain of Love. But nothing beats the insane ladder bridges on Pinocchio, at least not in the blue trails.

Packard starts right off with an insane steep entrance, at least if you're following the 'preferred' direction from Trailforks. Satisfied has some wicked short, sharp climbs and turns. All are narrow. But I'm quite happy with how I handled them, all in all.

Anyway, I cut the ride short, and I will probably not go out tomorrow, unless the winds shift and everything magically clears up.
 

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Discussion Starter #480
Smoky, not the bear

It's smoky in Whistler. Not anything like the lower mainland, though--they're rated as some of the worst air in North America. That's insane. The predictors are saying it's going to lighten up a little over the rest of today, possibly helped by some rain tonight. Personally, I'm not heading back home until the air is as good (or at least as not bad) as Whistler.

So this is my second day with no riding, and I'm really antsy because I wanted to try No Horses again. There's also a small jump line at the skills park that I'd like to try out. But none of that is going to happen until the air's better.

I'm continuing to get better videos with the Insta360 as I learn more about what works and what doesn't. The next thing I want to do is try out the high-res module on a handlebar mount.

Waiting...
 
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