Some of you might be wondering, “After I go for an extended mixed-surface ride with my homie that involves several deep water crossings, how many pages from the Acadie Nouvelle do I use to dry out my shoes in the sun?”
The answer would be six. Three pages per shoe. No more, no less.
Today is the 6th day in the row I’ve gone for a ride. Was a time when I rode almost every day a lot. Recently it has been more challenging due to all kinds of life things – sometimes even including the motivation to go ride. The world is invariably better when I ride and ride often. It’s interesting to me that often it’s the hardest to do the things that we know are inherently good for us.
Recently my buddy Steve sent me a chunk of a blog post from an author we both follow over at Raptitude.com:
To select a destination, I use an obscure app called Randonautica, which creates an X-marker somewhere on a map of the city. The app’s “About” section says it chooses this location through “theoretical mind-matter interaction paired with quantum entropy to test the strange entanglement of consciousness with observable reality.” It says the app’s users, when they arrive at their prescribed locations, often find “serendipitous experiences that seemingly align with their thoughts.”
He thought it seemed like an app I’d enjoy – and he wouldn’t be wrong, but really I do it without the app. I can see how in larger cities/metro areas the app might be fun though. I’m know sometimes I tend to hit the same spots/routes out of habit or subconsciously without realizing it.
Most days/times when I head out for a bike ride lately, I have no destination in mind. Sometimes I’m meeting someone somewhere in the middle, but that’s about it. I just pedal and see where I go. I take turns I’ve never taken. I check out places I’ve never gone. ‘It’s a goalless practice.’
And the key is once you get to those places to stop – and as David mentions in his blog post – check things out. There is – quite simply – so much to behold no matter where you are – whether you’ve been there already or not. The Universe is pretty cool that way.
Related, after following along for several years now, I dig that David rides bikes too. No wonder much of what we think/experience jives. More people on bikes is only a good thing.
I’m pretty sure I’ve commented elsewhere here on my acquisition of this Surly Disc Trucker frame and fork from my buddy Matt some years ago – and how initially I didn’t really dig it. Then tried to sell it. But didn’t, and since have been grateful to the bike gods for putting the kibosh on that.
Now that I have it uniquely appointed for how I want to ride and use it, it has become indispensable. My buddy Cam, the mechanic at my LBS, dubbed it ‘The Picnic Bike’ due to my penchant for taking it on #CoffeeOutside trips and snack runs and presumably also because of the basket. It’s become the go-to for those kinds of rides and grocery/errand runs in any and every kind of weather.
The Porcelain Rocket Microwave Mini-Panniers are perfect for the camp chair and hammock I keep in them at all times and the dry bags stow easily in the PR basket bag until needed. The RandiJo Fabrications Bartender and Jeff and Joan’s Bags keep all kinds of stuff handy on the bars.
Awhile back the Maxxis Aspen semi-slick MTB tires I’d put on it initially were worn thin and needed replacing. I didn’t want to sink a bunch of money into tires and I had these old IRC TrailBears that had been hanging in my shop for literally years – brand new – I’d purchased them for a 26″ mtb that I no longer own. I wasn’t sure they’d fit on this bike and clear the fenders, but lo-and-behold, here they are.
With the super-aggressive tread of these tires, the bike took on even more of a Jeep stance. It’s already green and like a Jeep will tackle most kinds of terrain – it’s pretty easy to find yourself underbiking on this thing. Like a Jeep it will go down most any road or trail you can find – just don’t expect to go fast. Like a Jeep it will smooth out some of the bumps, but not all of them, and as a consequence anything not lashed securely in place will rattle, bounce and clank around making a considerable racket on the way. On the plus side, that lets the bears know you’re coming. It weighs a ton and isn’t exactly ‘nimble’, but conversely it’s steady and predictable, and you can pack a shit-tonne of stuff in/on it.
At this point it keeps getting better with age/patina and is almost perfect. Additional upgrades I’d like to make eventually are a leather saddle, a bottle cage that will hold a 1L Nalgene and a dyno front hub and lights to make it even more versatile.
The atv path I ride my bike on all the time passes right by a neighbour’s house. He can see the trail through the trees from his driveway.
Over the past few years he’s seen me out on the path on a bike at pretty much every time of year and day and in any weather. When I’m headed towards home along the path it’s uphill, so I am going slow enough for the ‘neighbour wave’ or head nod.
The other day it was raining to beat the band, the mud trail was an absolute mess, and it was cold – hovering just above freezing. A spectacularly miserable day to be on a bicycle. As I was going by he waved from his driveway, shook his head a bit, laughed, and said, “Is there any time you won’t ride a bike?”
“Still trying to find the most-funnest time,” I said, smiling and waving back.
Years ago I stopped riding with headphones, music etc. Every ride has a soundtrack of it’s own, be it natural, urban or other. Sounds – or sometimes the lack there-of – for me, are very much a part of the ride.
Also being Earth Day and all, I picked up a piece of trash from the massive dumping spot off the side of the road that people have been using for years. SMH. Don’t ask.
Picked up this beaut of a plastic bottle. Small hole in the bottom could be patched. I could probably find new caps on the internet if I scoured hard enough. It also occurs to me I could cut/modify it to be some kind of bin/basket on bicycle, or an otherwise handy bin to keep stuff in. We shall see…
Ah, New Brunswick spring. I ordered some bike swag to send out to homies from a local merchant and of course bike swag should be picked up by bike. So I saddled up the Troll on the day of our usual spring snowstorm and got on with it.
Hovering at 0ºC, alternately snowing, raining and sleeting, it made for messy and interesting goings. Exactly the conditions that my buddy Matt spec’d this Troll for because he somehow had the prescience to know that it would be here one day. Not a thing out of place, it did not disappoint. 2″ of wet snow/slush on the ground and the Troll was eating it up. The SKS Blumens fenders are game-changers in conditions like this. Terminally groovy.
When I moved out here years ago, I loved that I was surrounded on 3 sides by woods. Even though there was neighbours at a distance, it was akin to living in the middle of nowhere. Well, my luck has finally run out and whichever developer owns the lot to one side of me has decided to put the heat on to get someone on it. I figure if I’m going to finally have neighbors, I’m going to do my best to make sure they ride bikes – so here’s your pitch.
Ride bikes in New Brunswick? Looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the GFA but still need to work there? Listen up.
Location, Location, Location
This lot is centrally located to all kinds of cool bike shit, and I’m not just talking about my bike clubhouse/garage.
This lot is smack in the middle of some great road riding. Quiet country roads with rolling hills and scenic vistas abound. The lot is a mere 20minute ride from the infamous Tour de Dog loop, and it is easy to string together all kinds of rides out towards Stanley and points North/Central New Brunswick. You can ride as little or as long as you want, include a loop into town for espressos and pastries and back home no problem.
Oh, excuse me, do you ride the gravel? Well lucky for you this lot is surrounded by it. From the multi-use Gibson/NB Trail and the cush crusher dust surface that rolls leisurely out of Fredericton and runs almost literally behind this lot, to gnarly fire-roads, atv trails and forestry access roads, you can go until you quite literally get lost. You can ride to Minto the long way. Pack snacks and a spare tube or 3.
This lot is located handy to New Brunswick MTB history. It’s a scant 15 minute ride from the venerable Hadley Trail System. “This trail system was originally maintained by the legendary Hadley family and has been adopted by RVC. The former location of the Hadley Challenge Race until Hillside trail was cut off by the new bypass highway.” Hot tip, you can still ride Hillside though, because it’s a total blast. Another hot tip, I still see Mrs. Hadley out on the the Penniac roads sometimes. I’d say I chat her up a bit, but she consistently drops me.
Notable as well, this lot is a 1/2 hour ride from the formidable and popular MVP Trail System via either the shoulder of the Marysville Bypass or the NB Trail.
Finally, if you’re feeling super saucy and ready for an epic – you can connect to any one of the local MTB systems in Fredericton and get back home relatively easily. The UNB Woodlot (ssshhhhh), Odell, Tower Trails, Kilarney and even Islandview out there in the Hinterlands could all be hit up from your lot in a loop that begins and ends at your front door. How do I know? I’ve done them all.
Quit driving your bike to the trailhead. That’s so passé. All the cool kids know the ride out is warm up and ride home is recovery. Make it all count. It’s much easier to stomp your buddies in the woods when you’ve already reached FTP on the ride out.
Wanna ride to work? Who doesn’t? 3 seasons of the year this lot is a 30-40 minute ride from the heart of downtown Fredericton along the well maintained Gibson/NB Trail – maybe even faster if you’ve been working on your intervals and pay attention to things like how much your brake levers weigh. Think you’re hardcore? You can ride all the way in in the winter as well on the same trail, packed by snowmobiles. A fat bike, a hearty constitution and a bigger time window are recommended but the feeling of accomplishment and the sights you see along the way are well worth it. Ask me how I know.
Neighbours with Benefits
I’ll be the first to admit, living next to me is probably not always going to be a bowl of cherries. My dog likes to run away sometimes and I’m pretty fond of the occasional skinny dip in my pool – but the pros may outweigh the cons? I can try and keep the skinny dips to nighttime when it’s dark?
Consider that you’ll be living next to a guy that has a garage so full of bikes I can’t fit any cars in it and won’t for some time. It’s also stocked with a slew of bike-specific tools and I even have a modicum of knowledge on how to use them. Word on the street is if you ply me with enough coffee, pastries, books or some combination of the three, I will almost-willingly work on your bikes for you, but you may have to hang out while I do and listen to my bullshit and 90’s alt rock cassettes on the boombox. I do at least have a library of bike-related books and magazines for you to peruse and ample seating.
I’d like to say that you’d always have a ready and willing riding partner, but the reality is that I’m just plain weird, and sometimes, lazy. If you want to chalk that up as a ‘con,’ well then you go right ahead.
Ready to Buy?
Here’s the guy you need to talk to. Let me know when you’re coming so I can make coffee.