2013 Trips Reviewed

Around this time in 2012 I had created a to-do list of trips to complete during 2013.  Let’s review what happened and what didn’t happen throughout the year.

  • Cycling
    • A week-long bicycle tour somewhere in Quebec and/or New England with my father.  This didn’t happen due to logistical issues; we went hiking in the Rockies instead.
    • One or two bikepacking trips in Kananaskis, Alberta.  These will probably be 1 to 2 night trips.  Nope, we made a few trips to the area but spent the time hiking instead of cycling.
    • Lots of rural dirt road cycling through Alberta’s range and township roads around the Edmonton Area.  Yes!  I did many hundreds of km’s of ‘Range Road cycling’.
    • Some mounting biking in Utah around St. George in the spring.  Did this and it was awesome.
  • Hiking
    • At least one backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies. These are a few on my list.  Ended up in the Tonqlin Valley.  Great trip.
      • Skyline trail in Jasper
      • Nigel Pass in Jasper
      • Egypt Lake in Banff
      • Iceline in Yoho
    • Some day hikes.  Mostly I’ll just pick and choose as I go, but I do want to do Wilcox Pass in Jasper.  I did not make it to Wilcox but did do many, many others.
    • Several day Hikes in south-west Utah.  I’ve never been in the desert or canyons so this will be a new experience for me.  Yup, here, here, and here.  I also did a few others that didn’t make it into the blog.
  • Canoeing  Nope, no canoeing this year.
    • Probably not a lot this year since I don’t own a Canoe and would like to concentrate on Cycling.  I do have some more long-term trips that I would like to complete like the Bowron circuit in Bowron Provincial Park and  a few nights out at Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

So what else did I manage to accomplish in 2013?

Enhancing my fitness level was a huge focus this year.  I took up running and managed to complete about 1000km’s of training throughout the year.  In December I ran the Seattle Half Marathon in ~1:46.  In addition to the running, I also managed to get out on my bike for about 2250km of cycling.  Some of that was commuting, much of it was just exploring back roads or small overnight bicycle tours which were not blogged.

The other noteworthy item was that I managed to do some scrambling in the mountains.  This really took my hiking to another level and challenged my fitness.  Four peaks were conquered, but only Turtle Mountain and Cirque Peak made it into the blog.  Heart Mountain and Mount Baldy are the other two.

Overall it was a very productive year, which I can only hope to match or exceed in 2014.  In the coming weeks I’ll likely end up creating another to-to for next year which may involve a bit of racing…  Lots of ideas need to be put on ‘paper’.



On-One Pompetamine Commuter – a few months later…

The most popular posts on this blog continue to be those of my On-One Pompetamine build. The project started out with the goal of building a cheap commuter/errand runner bike that I wouldn’t worry too much about being beaten up, or worse, stolen. Another requirement was that it should not require much maintenance.

At first though this would be a cheap single speed beater. I live in a very flat city and don’t really need gears for getting around. As I started to source parts this changed a bit. I saw a good deal on an Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub and the built quality and price went up from there. Needless to say this bike isn’t high end, but it certainly is not a beater either.

The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.
The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.

I’m happy to say that after a few months of commuting to work and lots of biking around the city, I couldn’t be happier with how this bike turned out. A bit of a surprise, its one of my favorite bikes to ride. Why that is, is not immediately apparent to me, but I think it’s partly due to the Alfine hub. I didn’t anticipate it, but the ability to shift while stopped or not peddling is huge when trying to cycle though the city. That ability is taken for granted now, and I find traditional bicycle drivetrains a bit annoying in the city compared to the Alfine. Another plus for the hub is that it’s almost silent in operation, nice.

One of the other things that has turned out to be rather pleasant are the tires. I ended up going with 28mm wide Clement Strada LLG. They are nice fast tires but they also have a bit of ‘give’. No punctures to date, knock on wood. With the Mavic A319 rims, 28mm is the smallest tires that will fit due to the rim width. This tire is about as small as I would go anyways.

Not everything about the Pompetamine frame is perfect although you might expect that for $130CAD. The paint is very thin. Lots of paint will be removed when you lock this bike to a bike rack or lean the frame up against almost any hard surface. Another downside is that the effective top tube length is on the small side. This is most likely since it was probably designed for use with drop bars.

The frame scratches very easily.
The frame scratches very easily.
Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock
Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock

The only other non-frame related downside to this build is the rear cog sizing that I picked. It is geared too high. Instead of an 18 tooth cog, I should have went with 20 tooth. This will be changing shortly and look forward to slightly lower gearing.

Since the original build, I’ve added a Tubus Fly rear rack. This rack is very minimal and thats why I like it. Extremely light weight but robust enough to carry a change of clothes and a laptop. Additionally to the rear rack, I’ve added an Abus Bordo
lock. Attached to the frame, its never forgotten and always easily accessible. The Bordo, combined with a locking from skewer makes locking the bike up quick and painless. Next up is a locking seat collar.

The only change I will be making to this bike is the addition of a dyno hub built up as a new wheel. The wheel will be shared with the Surly Ogre. More on that later.

That’s all I can really think to report on at the moment. If anything comes up in the future i’ll post an update. If your on the fence I would recommend trying it out. After all, if it doesn’t work out your only out a minimal amount of cash.

Cyclocross Upgrades

Disregard the trainer tire on the rear wheel
Disregard the trainer tire on the rear wheel

I have a Kona Jake cyclocross bike that I use mainly for riding around in the country on either chip sealed, or dirt roads.  Here in Alberta we have a never ending grid of range and township roads which have very little traffic.

During the winter I have done a few upgrades.

The first upgrade is a new set of Clement tires that seem like they should be ideal for rough back roads and some tame dirt roads.  I ended up with the 60 tpi USH model.  More to come on these after I get some kilometres on them.

Clement X'Plor USH

Upgrade two is new brakes.  I was disappointed in the stock Kore Sport brakes and decided to try some Avid Shorty 6 cantilevers.  The Kores had very little stopping power, not so great for the steep grades in the Edmonton river valley.  These new brakes seem to have higher quality brake pads and are probably lighter as well.

Lastly, I was in need of upgrading the bars.  The stock bars seem designed for racing and not long days in the saddle on rough roads.  I found riding in the drops very unnatural feeling.  After reading the recommendations on Guitar Ted’s fantastic blog, I had a good list of bars to further research.  I settled on the On-One Midge bar.  The price was right too with the white colour on sale for $20.  So far they seem like they will be way more comfortable in the drops.  I’m not so sure the comfort will extend to riding on the hoods, although I don’t think that is the intent with these bars.  Updates to come, but so far I’m excited to give these a try.

Kona Jake with new bars      Kona Jake with new bars

This weekend I’ll put the other USH tire on the Jake and take it out on the multi use trails to confirm the brake lever position.  This will also give me a chance to see if the tires are any good in snow.  I suspect they’ll perform fairly well on the plowed paths given the ‘file’ pattern on the sides of the tread.

That’s it for now.  I’ll offer an update on how these upgrades work out later in the spring.



Alfine 8 hub in the winter

With the warm temperatures here in Edmonton I decided to head out on the On-One Pompetamine bike I just built. Yesterday I rode across the city to the in-laws house. Today it was a ride in the river valley on the trails there.

The ride went well yesterday. I was surprised how well the 700x33c Maxxis Mud Wrestler cyclocross tires worked in the snow on plowed roads. Lots of grip except in the loose slushy areas.

Today was a bit of a different story. It had snowed a little, perhaps 1 or 2 cm. This caused my tires to kick up a lot of ‘snow dust’ in the air, making its way on to my chain. 20130106-220109.jpgAfter a while ice built up near the rear cog. When this happened it caused the hub not to free wheel properly. I didn’t think much of it at first and had thought that it would eventually clear it’s self and it did. Another 10km or so went by and it happened gain, however this time instead of clearing it seems to have forced cog out-of-place where it could spin freely without engaging the hub. After some troubleshooting I decided I didn’t have everything I needed to fix it out in the snow. Needless to say it made for a long walk back to the parking lot.

I’m not really sure if there is a good solution to this. I wonder if a lock ring similar to what is used on a cassette would have been a better design choice instead of a snap ring which is used with the Alfine.

For now i’ll have to use my mountain bike with a traditional derailleur system.

On-One Pompetamine Commuter Build – Part 3

The Pompetamine commuter is almost complete!

The only things left to do is cut the steerer tube and install brake rotors after they arrive.


As you can see, I’ve installed the fenders, brake cables, shifter cable, seat, front brake calipers, pedals, and last but not least, built the wheels.  The front fender was a little awkward to attach on the brake calipers side but it works.


The wheel builds went surprisingly well.  I used the Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance book for guidance.  The instructions in the book were very well done with the exception of the 2 cross lacing instructions which contained some errors.  As suggested, I used a 2 cross pattern for the rear wheel due to the size of the hub.  In retrospect I think I should have used a 3 cross pattern.  Time will tell if the 2 cross pattern is strong enough, especially with my 190 pound weight.

Here are the wheel build specs.

[table id=2 /]

I would have used some black spokes if they didn’t cost twice as much and I was more confident in my wheel building skills.

I can’t wait to get it on the road.  I think I may get some studded winter tires and do a bit of riding this winter seeing as it has the internal hub and all.


On-One Pompetamine Commuter Build – Part 2

Just a quick update on the Pompetamine build.

I went down to our local community bicycle shop, BikeWorks to install the headset and crown race.  Everything went fairly smooth with only a couple of minor hiccups.  The top of the head tube is every so slightly out of round so it was a bit challenging to get the headset to press in straight.  The other minor problem I met was that I picked the wrong adapter for the crown race installation tool.  After trying to set the crown race it jammed inside the adapter.  After a few taps with the hammer the adapter fell off.  I selected a different adapter then all was good.

I’m going to try a standard riser bar for now but i’m tempted to try a On-One Mary Bar, or a Surly Moloko Bar.

So as you can see i’ve installed the Alfine crank, shifter, as well as Avid brake leavers and one of the BB7 calipers.

Next week I will attempt to build the wheels.  I expect that being a challenge since it will be my first time.

See part 3 here.