Sunday, February 28, 2010

Buh-by Winter...

Hello Spring.

Sunday was a treat, an absolute treat. After the rides of January and the first 27 days of February it felt fantastic to be out without all my skin covered in the company of friends. Knickers, exposed ears, embro, perfect. At up to three degrees above zero, the sun, when it made an appearance, was warm and smile inducing.

Great group today, Brad, Martin, Pascal, Jamie, Craig and myself. Occupied with conversation, or perhaps just riding on autopilot, we headed toward Old Chelsea from Gamelin rather than heading East toward the river to cross over to the Cantley side as we'd agreed. No problem, we simply cut over from old Chelsea to the 105 and backtracked a bit until we could cross over to the other side.

Like last weekend, the Cantley route was good, and surprisingly, the snow up into the Chamonix 'hood was mostly gone. We avoided the loop anyhow, playing it safe, but it'll likely be clear all round next weekend. That'll be fun. With time constraints for some, we opted to stay together and return on the Wakefield side after the obligatory stop at Pipolinka for coffee and snacks. Pascal and I parted ways with the others at Notch and Mine Rd to head to Aylmer so he could rendezvous with his family. The extra loop was great, accessing some nice dirt roads and a great stretch of paved road along the river. We discussed using the day's route for a pre-spring-classics ride in March. There is a stretch of rail to trail that is a great ride that heads back West to Hull that would be nice to use. It would be the "Trench' sector. We'll see how things shape up. I suspect a number of people would like to do a solid ride to tune up for the Almonte Roubaix and new RwR race in April. At about 120k, I think the route might be just right. To avoid the difficulties associated with running a large no-drop group format, I'm thinking a 3-person team format might work. It would likely be relatively easy to hook up with a couple other riders at about the same speed this time of year. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Due to the unforeseen change in whether this past week, I think it is safe to say that the race will not take place this evening. If we all cross our fingers and toes, another opportunity may present itself before the spring melt. I'll update with any new race info in the weeks to come. Looks like road ridin' until then......


Friday, February 26, 2010


Well, I wasn't able to get out to the trails in the last couple of days due to illness and nasty whether. At this point I am fairly confident to say that the race will not take place. I plan to take a ride out tonight after work and confirm. I'll post my findings......stay tuned.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Well folks, Mother Nature has decided it was time to unload some dandruff from the sky and cover up some of the great winter trails we have been enjoying. At this point, I would advise all to stay tuned to the blog for daily updates on the race status this Saturday (Feb.27). I will be out tonight and over the next 2 days to confirm whether or not the race will go ahead.

At this point we may have to push the date back a week or two. I'll keep ya'll informed.


Monday, February 22, 2010

New England Milling Machine

The Nichols

We are slowly assembling all the gear we need for the frame building shop in the store, and the piece we really wanted was a nice milling machine. We had been watching the Busy Bee specials and had decided we would get a small bench top mill (made in China) for $699. This wasn't the ideal machine for us, but with our limited space we should have been able to squeak by with it. We went out pick the machine up but alas they were out of stock. So instead we put down a deposit and resigned ourselves to a month and a half wait. The wait turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

While we waited I decided I would try and figure out which hole saws we need and other bits and pieces to get the mill set up for tube mitering. After lots of phone calls to tooling shops and confusing info I decided to give Toby at Hot Tubes a call, Thom and I took framebuilding classes with him last year and he is a wealth of knowledge.

Toby and I at Hot Tubes

During our conversation he asked what kind of mill we were using I told him we were getting this bench top mill, to which he promptly replied that we should forget that piece of #%*** and come down to his place and pick up a Nichols horizontal mill that he had just acquired that morning. Well it took Thom and I a total of 5 minutes to decide we had to make this happen, especially since it was going to cost us less than half the Busy Bee. This mill was the same type we had used to build our first frames in Toby's shop so we were somewhat familiar with it.

1244383682">Thom enjoying one last Timmies stop before crossing the border.

A few days later we were on the road in a pick-up truck destined for Boston hoping to heck the mill was going to fit in the truck bed without causing some major catastrophe, it weighs 1200lbs.

Dicey manuvering

It was quite the production to get the beast into the back of the truck, luckily there was a local forklift operator who Toby managed to commandeer.

ize="1">Seriously weighed down

There was lots of creaking and groaning on the way home, causing a number of nervous stops to check the straps.

Then the big question of how to get it off the truck without a forklift. The answer was with our friendly ATS driver, his hydraulic tailgate and my dad's huge winch.

ER_PHOTO_ID_5441190437113683778" border="0">
A treacherous operation

Wheeling her in

2" border="0">Winching her upright.

It took me another full day to strip off
all the hydraulic automatic feed adjusters, and then scrub all the old oil off the body of the machine, thank goodness for respirators. After that, a coat John Deere green paint and it's looking pretty good.

Stripped and scrubbed

The final product

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting into the good stuff.

I woke up to snow today. Light, no problem. Then is picked up...doh. My weekend window for riding was to be today, and I knew it should be near zero. Sloppy snow would cover up stuff I had to see...not optimal.

I waited it out, did some stuff around the house, and monitored the melting. And melt it did. By about 11:45 I rolled out of the house, dressed the same as last week. 2 degrees warmer made all the difference; I was warm and stayed that way.

Today was a solo affair, everyone else occupied or otherwise. I enjoy riding alone, I'm able to ride exactly according to how I feel, and I wander wherever I like. When I err, nobody's there to jeer me. I love riding with friends too, just saying I'm happy either way.

Feeling fine physically, I took the opportunity to try out the Cantley side of the Gatineau river for the first time this year. Since the bike paths are still snow covered, I improvised my route and pieced together a good path across the river. All was great on the hilly side with the exception of the Chamonix neighborhood neat Cascades. This is an optional loop that packs in some steep climbs and fast descents. Up to the hard right onto Oslo (see map), all was clear, and the dirt sections were great. Turning onto Oslo could have been avoided, but I figured I'd risk it. Sure enough, this less traveled dirt road was snow covered and offered zero traction to my slick Challenge Roubaix rear tire. I got off and sprinted up, carrying my bike, cross style. Kidding. I walked up spastically as my feet slipped. Once up the road pretty much points down. I tested my brakes and sure enough, found I had zero traction. Each turn had to be slid moto-style. I was fortunate not to encounter oncoming traffic. THe descent could only be described as 'hairy'. No brakes in a straight line, sliding the turns. Not recommended at the moment, not even with cross tires. The snow was covering ice.

Back onto Mountain road, now past Cascades, thing returned to normal, with some sloppy sections breaking up pavement and packed dirt. No problem. Despite experiencing pain once again in a quad near my knee, I decided to check out Woodsmoke, the area's most brutal climb. Perhaps a blessing, it too was snow covered, and would not provide enough traction to either climb or descend safely. Ah well, no problem, maybe better not to push it. Beyond Woodsmoke, the dirt road was often dry, and rather smooth and solid. I passed Maxwell by and continued onto the next branch West to head over to River road, which would head me back South to Wakefield.

Good surfaces delivered me to Wakefield, where I stopped for a visit to Pipolinka in their new location. Back on the road, a slight tailwind helped deliver me back to town along River road and the 105 to St. Joseph, bringing the day's total distance to about 110k. Good sensations, despite the knee issue and a very achy neck (I've been seeing a Martin at RE:FORM to sort out a couple issues lately, and its tender). I felt strong all day and had fun; success. If you are thinking of getting out there, fender up your bike and roll. The roads are for the most part as good or better than they were last March.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Well folks, here is the first semi-organized ride of 2010. This is something that has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while now....I figure no time like the present. The Snow Ball is intended to get us all back on our steeds in the latter portion of the "off" season and it also provides a great cover up for throwing a bush party. Here's what you need to know:

Date: Saturday Feb. 27, 2010

Location: Kanata Lakes MTB area
K2 Entrance - intersection of Klondike and 2nd Line Rd

Time: 7:00 pm start
6:15 - 6:45 pm sign-in

Cost: $10.00 Donation - includes commemorative race number plate, food/snacks, beverages

The current trail conditions are fantastic and a regular ol' MTB with low pressure tires will work just fine. Those who own studded tires may find a slim advantage in the corners or when the urge to "rail" something occurs. Cross bikes with wide-low pressure tires will also do fine. The course will be finalized the day this point we are at the mercy of mother nature.

The race will be approximately 2.5 - 3 laps on a well marked course. Every attempt will be made to avoid heavily iced areas. Plan on riding/racing for 1-1.5 hours. Since this is a night time event, helmet or bar mount light sets are mandatory. A light system with a minimum output of 170 lumens or 10 watts will be sufficient, although more is sometimes nice too. A back up or safety headlamp/bar light is also a good idea.

Immediately following the race there will be refreshments served with veggie and carnivorous munchies. There will be a gear shuttle running prior to the race to deliver participants bags to the finish area. Feel free to bring a change of clothes, blanket, folding type chair and warm boots
for apres race wear.

To register for the event, please send an e-mail response to or call Tall Tree Cycles during business hours (613-725-BIKE). It would be great to see all the familiar faces at the start. Now let's keep our fingers crossed that Mama Natural cooperates!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Minus 4 with wind: Suck it up or just plain suck

Its February, and since last year was balmy at this time, I decided back in December that February would be spring. Positive thinking, right? I'm told I'm an optimist....

So after spending the last two months on the trainer and a bit on the spin bike, Sunday was poised to be the first of a string of Sundays on the bike. Sure, there was a freak road ride in January, and we've done a number or great mtb rides lately, but nothing prepares you for road racing like....road riding. With April around the corner, there is work to do. And fun to be had.

Jamie, Nathan Underwood, and I met up at the gate for a foray to Wakefield and hopefully, beyond. Jamie, having been ill the previous night, was not up to strength, and opted to peel off at Old Chelsea. It was already quite windy, so one fewer wind buddy was not s great sign at such an early stage. Nathan and I plodded on and certainly got into Jens Factor 5. Always happy to pull forever, Nathan did an awful lot of work as I faced up to the fact that I wasn't feeling particularly good, and my right knee was beginning to hurt. Hmm. I opted to dial back my plans and turn back at Wakefield after a coffee. Better to avoid getting run down and get back on the rails for next weekend, weather permitting. Rolling back to town was much more pleasant with a solid tailwind; we made good time and parted ways at Gamelin. Overall, the roads were very good today, with just a few icy patches near Wakefield along the river. This is always the case in that spot, but there's less ice now than there was last March, and its easy to avoid. Good stuff.

For those like myself without winter shoes, I thought I'd share my method for retaining as much warmth as possible. This is not unique to me, but might be new to some.

Duct tape. This stuff is flexible, kinda stretchy. Its better for this application than more robust kinds. It does not have to be strong. Cover all the vented parts of the shoes. Do the job with the shoe on, otherwise, you'll likely make it too tight to promote proper circulation.

Don't forget the vents on the bottom if you have them.

Insulation layer next. These are merino socks that had holes. I cut out the bottom for the cleats and they eventually degraded to this point. Still working though.

Next are the booties. These Sugoi units are pretty versatile, but my feet have been numb with cold too many times for these to really keep me toasty below zero. I'd prefer more burly booties, but some find these fine below zero.

Close your tights over the top of the booties. This will keep the zippers from slipping, especially important if they are broken, as these ones are.

So today's set-up was Mad Alchemy Cold Weather embrocation on the legs and feet, Smartwool socks with the above, Sugoi Mid Zero knickers with Firewall tights over top, Brynje waffles polypro full-sleeve with Ibex merino baselayer over top, Verge Super Roubaix fabric jackey, Icebreaker neck tube, DeFeet merino liner gloves and Craft lobsters, capped with a Kona merino hat, helmet and glasses. -5 and -4 with sun, cloud and wind, this was a pretty good set-up. A little warmer still in the feet would have been nice in the wind. Here's hoping winter shoes fall into my lap soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sweet Snow Singletrack Sunday

Numerous Tall Tree riders have been out on the mtbs over the last week. Three rides went down on week nights, one of which I was party to. Kanata was the spot, and the conditions were primo, the best I've ever experiences in the winter in fact. Night riding in the winter requires far less firepower from the luminators. One light on the head is plenty to ride top speed. Our cadre of four - Thom, Greg, Steve and myself - took advantage of the traction on hand and high fudge factor (as in, one could fudge a line big time and not necessarily crash, unlike occasions where the snow off trail is deep and crash inducing), producing many a flat-tack turn and shoulder graze against our friends of the leafy/coniferous persuasion. Its fair to say we all thoroughly enjoyed our time on the trails.

Deciding what and where to ride on Sunday was simple: mtb in Kanata once again. I floated a plan-b of the roadular variety, and fortunately that option was not exercised. It was windy enough for that to have been unpleasant enough to regret the choice. Kanata it was, this time in daylight!

A little warmer today, -7 when we arrived (to a line of about 6 cars), the snow was somewhat soft in the sun, and glazed in the first section of the woods from Klondike. Not glassy enough to cause crashes, but slippery enough to afford ample opportunity. Further West the glaze transitioned back to packed snow, and many options presented themselves. Not being a trail wizard in the Kanata domain, I cannot relay trail names that were traversed today. We covered ground on both sides of the railway tracks and ended up rolling for 1hr20minutes. Not much on the clock, but most of the riding was at sprint or threshold intensity, so the ride was both fun and a great interval workout. Certainly more pleasant than riding the trainer could be. The forecast suggests we'll continue to have opportunities to ride the trails for another couple weeks. There is so little snow there, I suspect the dirt will show in many spots rather early. Mountain bike riding in Kanata will fill the gap nicely until its closer to zero, when we take to the roads and put in some solid miles. Looking forward to a snow-free parkway early this year, and spirited loops with friends. Until then, Kanata allow us to keep the good times rolling. If you're local, put on some pointy tires and give it a try.

Coming this week: the 2010 Tall Tree Cycles team roster...bigger and better than ever!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Most people don't know this band. Underworld, from Britain, has been around for a long time, I believe they started sometime in the 80's but it wasn't until the movie Trainspotting came out that they found a little fame. I never really picked up on them until one of my favorite design company's, Tomato, picked them up as a client.

It has taken me a long time to get into electronica music and I contribute this band to helping me find the love. Their fourth album, "Second toughest in the infants" released in early 1996 (yes this is old) has everything you need for training. Heavy repetition, with slight change ups to peak your interest, multiple beats to follow your pedal stroke with, and most of all, for me at least, a sound that mesmerizes me. I fall into a trance almost everytime I listen to this album. Check them out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Loose ends...

Mtb ride on snow...odd.

It might come as a surprise that I've been busier of late than usual, more so than summer, in fact. 2010 Tall Tree team things to do, work, riding the trainer religiously, hanging out with family, and social events and the odd ski and snow mtb ride.

A few things have come and passed I'd hope to write about, but have not managed to work on until now. Here's a quick and dirty rundown.

Back on Sunday, January 17th, a few of us headed out on the road for a mild weather ride (click here for the post I had in draft form, which is now up, but backdated). In preparation for the ride I built a Steelwool Limited with the parts I'd been running on my SPecialized Roubaix conversion. With some key assistance from Thom in the form of White Industries axle machining (or rather, humaning, as he did it with a saw), I had the bike up and running on Saturday at the shop, and ready to roll.

File tread 32c Vittoria 'cross tire on the rear, 35c Ritchey semi-slick on the front, the bike is well shod for variable surfaces short of sheer ice. I'll go over some of the finer points of this bike soon. Overgeared in a 44x16, I nevertheless enjoyed a great ride with Neil, Jamie, Ariel and Steve, up to and beyond Wakefield. All in we pulled off about 100k, which is great for January. My Mad Alchemy medium cold embrocation kept my legs and feet nice and warm. It was a joy to be out on the bike. A couple weeks later we pulled off a night mtb ride that had to be my best winter ride ever. Two proper rides (commuting every day does not count in my mind) in January is about as good as we can hope for.

The following weekend featured a bust Saturday. Nine Tall Tree riders took part in My Heart Spins, a charity spin event for Bicycles for Humanity. It was the first spin ever for some, the first in a long time for others, and one among many this year for a few. The class was great, and the DJ played one of my favourites, "I like to move it" as performed by Sacha Baron Cohen. The bulk of the fundraising was achieved by Neil and Anna. It turns out emails don't generate much in the way of donations. This does not come as a surprise, we're all solicited for donations on a daily if not weekly basis. We'll use our events to raise money for the charity; this should work much better.

Afternoon fades into night and we find ourselves in Aylmer for the Wheelers' first roller race night of 2009/2010. Some of the others had been before, but for about half of us it was the first time. I busted out my kit to give the fixed roller race, but was bested by both Pascal and Rodd. Of five of us who took a crack, only Pascal qualified for the top 16, eking out Rodd by one hundredth of a second. Tight. Rodd and I were both relieved to continue watching rather than getting back on; it was the strangest sensation I've ever encountered on a bike. It took about 45 minutes for my heart-rate to normalize. Whoa. Pascal gave it everything, but was knocked out and joined us to watch the rest of the spectacle. It was a great time, and I think we'll all be back out for the next local event.

Fast forward and there's 35 of us sat in the Imperial Eatery beside Barrymores for a Tall Tree movie night. The restauraunt is normally closed on Monday's but I managed to entice the owner, Chris, to open up for us to throw down a movie, drinks and food. We screened a short music video from the Tour created by Chris Mullington, followed up with our feature, 'A Sundat in Hell.' The night was a success, so when talk turned to the cyclocross World Championships last week, namely how and where we'd watch it, the Imperial came up again. Worlds and breakfast...why not? Presto change-o, Chris and I locked down the details, I put out word, and come Sunday morning 15 or so of us were there by 8:30 to take in the live feed on the projector screen. It was a pretty good race, though the icy conditions precluded heroics; conservative riding seemed the name of the game. Stybar rode incredibly well, erasing any of the sting that lingered from his previous World Cup loss to Albert when he slid out on a turn in the final lap (he won the overall anyhow). We'll see about interest in doing the same at the Imperial next winter for the World Cup races. They start at 9 rather than 8, which will help. Good times.

And here we are. Its now February, and the serious training for the races in April must now commence if it has not already. With a full masters 30 squad racing the Tour of the Battenkill in April, we're motivated and excited to ride. This will be the year the Tall Tree becomes a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

One last item, for the calendar: The Ride of the Damned will fall on Sunday May 16th. After the success of our 5-person format in last year's Quintuple, we decided to run that format for the RotD too. Its so much fun for everyone, why not? We'll post up the route in advance this year, but teams will have to make sure they stay on course, randonnee style. The RotD will fall two weeks after the Wheeler's Muffaraw Joe ride, which will feature a 7 rider format. We didn't make it last year, but we'll be there this time. I'll post the complete info here. Our Quintuple Pave Classic is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, August 29th, and the plan is cap it with a family friendly BBQ at Lac Leamy apres ride. Bigger and better in 2010, all round. Dates for the Fixed Frolic and Double Cross will be locked down in the spring.