Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dreaming of bikes & biking

The final happening on the Main St of snow Monday last week was that it was open to mountain-bikers from four until six o'clock.  Not wanting to pass up what will probably be my only opportunity ever to MTB on a groomed & track-set main street, I dragged my bike out of the garage to go & meet Alex & Megan.  They weren't home when I got there, but it wasn't long before they arrived with Megan in possession of a brand new Giant Anthem & a rather large smile.  After quite a few days of (one of) the local bike shops promising to build it up & then failing to, it seemed that finally got around to keeping their word (which rather seems strange business conduct - are they so confident that no-one can be bothered driving to Calgary to drop thousands of dollars on a bike that they can continually disappoint & frustrate potential customers?).

We set off for the snow street, some of us avoiding the large slush puddles (not me) on the way.  Biking on the snow was OK in places, & just hard work in others.  Last year's shredded tyres were not really helping (especially for propulsion).  Alex must have been working pretty hard, because he got about one block down (out of two) before snapping his chain.  So a quick trip home & Megan was persuaded to christen her new bike (the snow was hardly likely to get the frame very dirty).  Meanwhile, I was enjoying being on the bike in the warmth & being completely in control half of the time.  Around juggling Finn, I had a little go on the new steed.  Being a 29er (that is, before you ask Mum, it has 29" wheels rather 26") it soaked up the bumps in the snow & with more rubber in contact was able to get noticeably more traction.  I think that was my first 29er experience & it was pretty neat - but being on a brand new bike is always nice, down to the lack of sloppiness in the SPD cleats.

Alex must have also been impressed as a chunk of the rest of the week was spent discussing the merits of various other 29ers & which one he should get.  It turns out he's put a deposit on one of these Specialized Cambers - yet another 29er.  All this new bike buying action & too much time on the internets, really had me considering which bike I should be buying soon.  I'd have to ride a 29er a bit more on a variety of singletrack before I could go for one - at this stage I can't get over the clown wheel factor; I also envisage them being more difficult for plane & car travel (biking & travelling being my two greatest loves), which is enough to put me off for now.  Still, it's not like there are no normal bikes out there & I found a few I quite liked.  But in the end, my bike is functioning (well will be soon, more of that later) & with more travelling coming up, $3000 could be much better used some other way.  I'll just have to console myself with some smaller toys so I don't feel left out.

With a bit of prodding from the snowmelt & Megan, I've started working on the winter clean & overhaul of my bike.  For some months now a box has been sitting in the garage with a new drivetrain, tyres & a myriad of other little parts in it waiting for the garage to warm up enough to be tolerable to work in.  So I've pulled pretty much everything off my bike & stripped the parts back as much as practical to give everything a really good clean & grease (well, those bits that need greasing).  That's taken a good few evenings - probably five to six hours in total.  In case anyone is wondering, these are the parts that make up my bike (& the tools required to disassemble & hopefully reassemble it).  Yes, there is one obvious missing part - I could say I left it out on purpose as a test, but really I put it on top of the fridge behind me & forgot about it.  Who can pick it?

I'm still trying to figure out where I picked up the knowledge to do this, not being mechanically inclined.  Still, as I'm often reminded I've always had a tendency to pull things apart.  I suppose the test is seeing if I have a bike I can ride when I've finished with it all.

The weekend was filled with skiing, yet again.  Saturday was a pretty chilled day at Sunshine with Kristy (who had just got a new touring set-up - skis, boots & bindings).  I was still working on my turns after last week's lesson & strangely spent all day looking for moguls.  I was impressed at how Kristy's skiing has come on since I last skied with her - perhaps she shouldn't have followed me off a jump & twinged her knee, but the small amounts of powder were quite enjoyable.  Following the knee incident, we had an early lunch & I skied by myself for a couple of hours before we left around two.  We had a great games night & much hilarity later on that evening - the boys just took out Pictionary (blast from the past) & the descriptive/one-word/charades game was a winner.

After weeks of talking about it, I finally had a day at Sunshine with my boss/colleague/friend, Viviane & her fiancee, Alex.  The periphery of a big storm coming up from Montana & moving across the prairies had given us some snow in town & on the road all the way up.  Unsurprisingly, there was a big wreck on the highway & about a twenty-five minute delay.  Once we got there, we had a fantastic day.  There was around 5 cm of fresh snow, it was warm, visibility was good & there were very few people around (for a weekend).  Viviane is a much better & more experienced skier than I am & it was great skiing with her & Alex.  I still find I'm bracing my right leg a bit too much coming out of turns (turning right & keeping my left leg bent is no problem), so there is still plenty to work on.  I think this post is plenty long enough so I'll just say (so I can go & finish my book) that the conditions were the best I've had since I dislocated my shoulder at the end of January & combined with that & my improved skiing, it was the best day I've had on the snow.

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