If you buy a good bike, buy a good lock. Sad Story.

My friend bought a new bike this summer.

A nice bike. A really nice bike that he could barely afford. In fact, this bike has been on my own dream-bike list for at least four years. I can’t afford it, but I’m still pining for it or something like it.

This friend does not have much money. He’s rarely owned a vehicle and has never had a great job. He bought this bike to get around and the bike shop may have sold him too much bike. It’s a Cannondale CAADX Cyclocross bike.

He was trying out different road bikes and just saw this one hanging up in the store. It looked cool so he bought it. It’s kind of funny, I was talking to him at church a couple days after and trying to find out what bike he bought. Continue reading

Posted in Cycling | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Kenda Klondike Vs. DIY Studded Tire

For the past several winters I’ve been riding with some DIY studded tires. When the rubber on one of them was just too old, it split and my tube came out. So I bought a studded tire on sale the following spring. They didn’t have the one I wanted, so I ended up with a Kenda Klondike. Now that I’ve had a couple winters on it, how does it stack up against my home made ice tires?

Completed front tire

My home made DIY studded tire.

Kenda Klondike Tread

Kenda Klondike Tire

Continue reading

Posted in Cycling, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Race Prepping my Commuter Bike

Since purchasing my Opus Adagio commuter bike in 2010, I’ve mainly used it for… commuting! Yay! It does what it’s meant for really well. It’s a nice, fast, comfortable, sturdy commuter “urban performance” bike in the $600 price range. It’s exactly the bike I needed when I bought it, which is the best bike you can get. That’s what a good bike salesperson will give you: the exact bike you need at the time you buy it. Yes, one can argue that you can “grow into” a higher-end bike than what you need right now, but that’s another discussion. Or another blog post idea. Still, a commuter bike for a commuter in the price range I could afford is what I wanted and it’s what I have. And it’s great.

But the other thing I started using this bike for over the last couple years is CYCLOCROSS!!! My favoritest sport ever! I don’t really have the money for another bike, and I don’t really need another bike.  (again, discussion for another time). I don’t have the marital capacity for another bike. So, every fall (five years running) I turn this everyday commuter (Honda Civic) into a not-too-serious race worthy cyclocross machine (Honda Civic with racing stripes). OK, maybe it’s a Honda Civic with no bumpers and racing stripes. If you’re at all interested in keeping your spouse but shedding some weight and making your bike legal and able to race, here’s how I do mine and what I get out of it. Continue reading

Posted in Cycling, Cyclocross and Racing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How Winter Riding Can Improve MTB Skills, Part 2

I started this post in March 2015. I’m still having fun riding in winter and trying out MTB skills, so here’s some more you can try in the snow! In Manitoba there’s lots of it, so you just have to embrace it. I even tried building up a bermed corner out of snow in my back yard but it didn’t really work out. I might try again this winter.

Cornering

There are lots of MTB tips about cornering on the youtube channels I listed and practicing in winter will probably help your summer riding. I intend to use my new MTB cornering skills in cyclocross this fall as well. Cornering is all about finding the correct balance over the wheels and leaning the bike so that the tires drive into the dirt. Balancing front to rear is the key to not sliding out and falling. Practicing in winter helps you find the limits of traction without worrying about hurting yourself when you fall. First, you’re wearing way more clothing, so there’s lots of padding. Second, you’re going way slower in winter, so falling isn’t nearly as fast.

Practice going down an alley or little-used street and cornering from one side of the road to the other and back. Or sit in an intersection and do loops around and around until one tire starts skidding. Shift your weight around to feel which tire loses traction first so that you know where your weight has to be when they have equal traction.

Practice keeping your outside pedal down and turning your hips towards where you want to go. Drive your outside foot down to plant your tires into the ground (snow) as you turn and don’t forget the #1 rule: look where you want to go.

I tried building up a banked corner in my backyard, but it ended up being too rough. The bike kept digging in and driving the trail further down, so I was never able to practice banked corners. Maybe with more packing and shovel work it could have worked, but I gave up and rode to the park instead. Yep, that foot-and-a-half of snow is about what we get in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in a winter, that’s why it’s so fun!

Bermed corner in winter didn't work out as planned.

Bermed corner in winter didn’t work out as planned.

Hills

Winter provides ample opportunity to practice both ascending and descending hills, and even gives you a chance to try out some dips and jumps with a soft landing. I wish I had some pictures of the hills I managed to climb in the snow on my bike, but I was too busy riding to take any. Plus, I found the size and steepness of a hill doesn’t get conveyed well in a photo.

Going Up

Simply put, winter conditions are probably the toughest to ride in, so going uphill in winter will likely be one of the tougher exercises for MTB practice. Loose snow, icy ruts, and footprints simulate some of the summer’s toughest uphill terrain: sand, loose rocks, and slippery roots. If you can master the uphill winter climb, you’ll probably rock anything summer can throw at you.

Keep your weight over the back tire, don’t stand up, keep your power through as much of the pedal stroke as you can, and don’t mash the pedals. Smooth, controlled pedal strokes in a low gear will keep you spinning up those tough hills.

When I say “weight over the back tire”, I mean sit on the front end of your seat and keep your butt planted. It may be a bit uncomfortable but this drives your weight down through your rear tire to keep traction where you need it. Once you stand up, your weight shifts forward towards the front tire and your back wheel spins out; then you’re done. Raise your seat a bit for hills for more help.

Don’t mash the pedals, that is, shoving hard with your leg only when the pedal is coming down the of the stroke. Instead, try to keep a smooth pressure on the pedal for more of the crank stroke. To do this, you put your heel down at the top of the stroke and push forward. During the middle of the stroke (2 to 4 O’clock) keep your foot flat, like you’re used to. At the bottom of the pedal stroke (4 to 7 O’clock), tip your toes down and drag your foot backward, as if you’re trying to scrape your toes on the ground below.

If you have clipless pedals, you can provide power through the upward portions of the pedal stroke too. Since I ride with winter boots, I switch my clipless pedals back to platform pedals for winter. Keeping a smooth pedal stroke and spinning up the hill will work much better than mashing the pedals, causing the rear tire to slip. Doing this in winter forces you to concentrate that much more to keep from spinning out.

Ride an easy gear so that you can spin up the hill and not resort to standing on your pedals.

Going Down

Any hill can be used to practice proper positioning and balance and winter is no different. Except if you want to try jumps: then winter is great! You can bail into the snowbank if you get scared, and the snow slows you down after you land, so it’s not so scary. I went up and down a toboggan hill (ride up it, don’t walk it!!) many times to practice the feeling of dips and jumps. I also went down steep river banks onto the ice trail and went down some stairs in a slow, controlled manner. I’m already feeling like I can handle steeper hills and jumps when summer comes, but will keep on practicing until the snow starts to melt.

Setup Tips

Tire Pressure

Whether you have studded bike tires or not, if you’re not commuting and just out for some fun, you’ll want the widest contact patch possible for the snow and ice. My suggestion is to go as low as you can with your tire pressure. Test it out in the back alley and make sure you’re not going to get any pinch flats. Snow and even ice is softer than pavement and snow trails are probably going to be a bit more forgiving than dirt trails, so your rim is not going to be hitting bottom too much. If it does, it probably won’t get damaged, but do add a few more psi so that the rim doesn’t bottom out.

Also, I’ve learned that any suspension you had in summer is pretty-well non-existent in freezing weather. The fork oil gets so viscous that after a little while outside, the suspension fork is rigid as steel. Your tires are basically all the suspension you have at this point. Keep them as soft as possible.

Seat Height

In winter, there’s lots of extra opportunity to slide out, so you’ll be putting your foot down and maybe even both feet way more than in the summer. Lower your seat a little more than you would have it in summer and that will allow you to put your feet down better when you lose it.

Enjoy Yourself!

See my previous post on winter MTB skills here: https://kurtbredeson.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/how-winter-riding-can-improve-mtb-skills-part-1/

Posted in Cycling, Winter | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

So Much To Say, So Little Time

It’s been a crazy couple years for me. Luckily, and by the grace of God, I’m getting through it. In fact, it’s starting to look a whole lot better and I’m getting excited for what might be in store for me. I haven’t stopped cycling or having fun, going on adventures, or living life, so I’m excited to write about some of the things I’ve been up to. Hopefully I can put together some decent posts individually about these things, but here’s a quick preview of what I hope to write about soon:

Canadian National Cyclocross Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba in October 2014. Un-be-leivable! This was one crazy weekend of watching high-end racing and cheering on my local racers as well as some big names (Ahem, Geoff Kabush and Mike Garrigan) that I look up to. Not to mention racing myself in two open races, and racing with ex. Cyclocross Magazine writer and current Bicycling Magazine contributor Molly Hurford, plus chatting with her afterwards!

Living in a “cabin in the woods” for the entire winter in lake country. A long-term rental, portable internet, and a mountain bike. Rocks, trees, animals, bike tracks, ski tracks, and wolf tracks. What a great winter! Pushing my MTB skills and breaking derailleurs, exploring new places, meeting new friends, tuning bikes for Bible Camp and building brand-new bikes for Bible Camp.

My first 100km gravel backroads ride to the beach and back last summer. What a great day spent with friends and bikes. Pacing ourselves on packed gravel roads, scaring ourselves on short sections of highway, but ultimately having a great day of riding and a great destination. And one failed railroad track bunny hop and blown rear tire.

Building a home made bob trailer from discarded lawn chairs to pull behind my bike. Taking apart some old steel lawn chairs, learning to weld, machining a few parts and buying some others to build my own trailer for errands was pretty rewarding. With the ultimate goal of parking my car most of the summer and doing as many errands as possible by bike, my new trailer is going to be the biggest help. I hope to tell you about my successes and failures, trials, and lessons in building something from scratch.

Finishing up about a half-dozen draft posts. I’ve been excited about winter riding and hope to continue telling my story about how winter riding can improve your MTB skills. Also, over the years I got into cyclocross racing and have lots of race reports and pictures to show about this exciting sport. Maybe I’ll even post them.

Until next time, enjoy life and get out and have fun. I’ve been trying my hardest to do so!

Posted in Cycling, Cyclocross and Racing, Repair and Maintenance, Winter | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fixing up an Old Bike: Bottom Bracket Overhaul

In my last post about fixing up an older CCM mountain bike, I thought I was done tinkering with the thing. I believe I said: “Leave well-enough alone.” Yep, I did say that. But I didn’t do it though; oh no, I had to go mess with it even more.

CCM Riptide, brought back from the dead.

CCM Riptide, brought back from the dead.

Last time I worked on fixing up The Beast, I knew that the crank bearings (Bottom Bracket, or BB for short) were really bad; the crank wouldn’t spin a full revolution with no chain on. Since I was both waiting for spring and waiting for a recent knee injury to heal, I had nowhere to ride with any of my good bikes and I was itching to just do something relating to a bike. So I delved into the bottom bracket issue with my CCM Riptide. Continue reading

Posted in Cycling, Repair and Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Winter Riding can Improve MTB Skills, Part 1

This spring I was planning on learning and practicing a few new mountain bike (MTB) skills to get better and more confident on the trails. I was also wanting to teach my father-in-law a few small things I’ve picked up, since he’s gotten into some trail riding.

My father-in-law was telling me about the friends that got him into MTBing on some local ski hills, but his stories were more scary than exciting. These friends are getting major injuries (brake-lever-impaling and breaking bones) and I really don’t want that to happen to him! I like him too much! It sounded like he wasn’t getting enough guidance and was just being thrown on the trail and left to his own devices. This isn’t really the case, as his friends are really nice and do give him instruction, and some of their injuries are apparently random bad luck on the trails. Although I think with some more basic skills in the toolbox we could be safer on the trails. I really want to learn and teach some of the ground-level MTB skills that develop confidence and safety on the trail. The problem is he lives 6 hours away and I’m not likely going there with a bike nor is he likely to make it here with his anytime soon. Continue reading

Posted in Cycling, Winter | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments