Tag Archives: Gear

Are You Ready for the Backcountry this Season?

There has already been snow falling at Whistler and on the locals. The temperature is dropping, and I’ve already donned a toque and my winter gloves to bike to work! It’s time to start thinking about the winter snowboard/skiing season, and to start getting the gear ready for backcountry touring. The last few years I’ve spent more time gaining confidence, skills and knowledge about touring in the backcountry. It’s not something to take lightly. But, when all goes well, it can be a great workout and a beautiful experience.

To make it most enjoyable, knowledge and safety are key. I highly recommend, at minimum, taking an Avalanche Safety Course. I took one provided by Canada West Mountain School 3 years ago and learned a lot.

Dave Norona, local world-renown adventure athlete, has posted a great video about backcountry gear and safety. It’s a great intro if your new, or refresher if you’re seasoned.

Hiking up past Red Heather Hut, Squamish with my bro

Squamish Trail Map smartphone app – update

View of Squamish Valley from Credit Line

Kelly, a fellow mountain biker, and myself headed up to Squamish yesterday to go for a long cross-country mountain bike ride and to enjoy the sunshine. Kelly had downloaded the Squamish Trail Map app (discussed in last blog post) to her iPhone so we could test it out. We road up through Wunderland, White Rabbit, Cheshire Kitten, then crossed over to the Brohm Lake trails. After that, we headed back across the road and up to Cat Lake. We pulled out the iPhone on the climb up to Cat Lake and it showed us exactly where we were on the trail map. We then bombed down Cheshire Cat, a super fun and fast downhill xc trail. After the Cat Lake loop, we headed into the Alice Lake trails on our way to Credit Line. We again pulled out the iPhone at the end of Tracks from Hell where there are a few trails linking together, causing a bit of confusion if you don’t know the trails that well. The app pegged us again exactly where we were on the map, and helped us find our way up to Credit Line. After Credit Line, another fast downhill xc trail, we turned left onto Jacks Trail which took us down to Brakentrail and back to the Bean and Republic Bicycles in Brakendale. It was a great day, and after playing around with the app some more, I’d highly recommend it if you are not that familiar with trails in Squamish and carry a smartphone.

Kelly & KJ - All smiles on Credit Line, Squamish

Running Injury Prevention

As I try to work through some hamstring issues these days, my physiotherapist at Active Life Physiotherapy in North Vancouver directed me to a new interesting document on the Prevention of Running Injuries by Blaise Dubois. This is a great read if you are a runner, or thinking about getting into running. It explains biomechanics, running myths, useful tips for picking shoes and even provides some discussion on the currently popular minimalist shoe. Don’t skip out on the Appendix either, it’s full of additional useful information such as interval training and stretching.

If you’re looking for more information on running stretches and exercises, check out the Active Life Physio website for more articles. ALP also does Video Gait Analysis which will  provide  you with visual feedback on running or walking gait. This will help identify any anomalies that may predispose one to injury and allow your physio to provide recommendations on gait correction, preventative exercise and footwear.

Good luck staying injury free and have fun on the trails!
 

Sophia Sauter, physio and owner of Active Life Physiotherapy - Iron Knee trail run, 2009

 

The Bike Culture – can’t we all just get along?

I was recently on a local mountain biking website to get caught up on Interbike news and sensed a strong disgust for fixie riders in one of the articles I was reading. Freedom of speech, OK, but really … who cares what you ride! I admit, I don’t totally get why you’d want to ride a fixed gear bike with no brakes, I’m sure it’s less maintenance, but it just sounds too scary for me. But, I do have some friends who ride the track, and they’re power and bike handling skills transfer beautifully to the trails, they’re amazing riders!

Like skiers vs snowboarders, there have always been jabs and pokes between roadies, mountain bikers, bmxers and now fixies. In the end, all that should really matter is that people are out riding bikes and feel better for it.

H.G. Wells put it best “when I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race”.

So remember, no matter what bike you ride, from a CCM to a Willier, to outsiders who don’t have bikes or understand the culture, we are all the same … we are all cyclists.

And, on a lighter note and for a smile and laugh on an otherwise dull Friday … MC Spandx is back in full form! Check out both videos as he spoofs off about the different bike cultures in the most fun and entertaining way.
View here for both videos: MC SpandX Hits The Trails!.

Fall outdoor clothing – Part Deux

This post builds on my last post “Fall outdoor clothing – Practical or Parisian?“. Time to hit the lower body layers …

Shorts – There are a couple ways to do the base layer for cycling – 1. Typical bike short with Knee Warmers or Leg Warmers. 2. Knicker bib short (chamois bike short that goes past the knees). No merino wools in these, just your typical bike short material (synthetics).

Full-length tights – There are many designs of basic full length tight that can be pulled over bike shorts or just worn straight up for running. Thickness ranges from a basic spandex layer, to a mid-thermal layer with fleece lining. There are also thermal layers that have wind-proof front paneling and stretchy rear paneling for movement. These pants are great for light rain or moderate intensity workouts. A snugger fit is better for cycling and running. Look for reflective stripes for outdoor activities at night or early morning. Example: Sugoi Midzero Zaptight or Sugoi Firewall Tight.

Waterproof
If it’s a deluge, or you’re going to be out in the rain for a while, a waterproof pant might be the way to go. I tend to find the waterproof pants too hot when cycling, but they’re worth it when it’s cold and absolutely pouring. GORE makes a baggier, waterproof pant that can be pulled over tights or shorts. They might even go over small body armour for freeriding. Example: GORE Solid2 windpant or Sugoi Majik Shell.

Socks and Shoes
Don’t forget your feet! There are a few options here … waterproof socks, booties (not booty, you can shake it, but we’re talking about shoe covers here …) or Gore-Tex shoes.

Wool socks are great for running and cycling. There are also waterproof socks that are apparently somewhat breathable, but I’ve heard they can still get a bit sweaty. I imagine if you have room in your shoe, a merino wool sock with a waterproof sock overtop would be ideal. Or, go straight to the gore-tex shoe! Both Shimano and Northwave make them.

There are many different brands and designs of shoe covers. It’s worth taking your shoe in to ensure that the booties are a tight fit. There are windproof or thermal booties that aren’t waterproof, and there are full-waterproof shells. Some don’t fit cross-country shoes as well as road shoes, so I suggest again, bring your shoes in to try them on.
Example: GORE Race Power 2 shoe cover, Pearl Izumi soft shell Cyclone shoe cover.

Waterproof shoe covers

Quick summary:
When looking for new fall clothing, think:
Base Layers – merino wool, wicking and comfort, snug lines
Outer layers – water/windproofness, reflective stripes, pockets, breathability

Wish I had warm and dry gear! Cold, wet & muddy race conditions - Test of Metal 2007.

Fall outdoor fashion – Practical or Parisian?

Parisian commuter

Thankfully, practical. Although this guy gets props for adding crochet to his commuter bag, we won’t be seeing any of this from our mainstream brands. Due to our inclement, widely varying climate … practical, functional layers are IN on the west coast.

Layering and wool is the way to go. This is not a new concept, it’s just been made a LOT better through the use of quality materials (e.g. merino wool, Gore-Tex) and FUNCTIONAL CROSSOVER designing in mind. This means that this fall’s cycling clothing will also work for running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, for example. This not only makes sense, it saves us dollars by being able to wear the same gear for many sports.

I spent some time with Cynthia, Manager of Different Bikes in West Vancouver, last week to get the inside scoop on this year’s fall/winter gear. This blog is set up in two parts … Part 1 – Upper Body Layers, Part 2 – Lower Body Layers.

Part 1 – Upper Body Layers

Cycling apparel companies are going back to the days of wool … it’s not new, it’s what the boys of the Tour de France back in the beginnings wore, wool jerseys. Wool is a natural wicking fabric that doesn’t cling to odours and leaves you feeling drier and more comfortable than any synthetic or cotton can. Merino wool has been increasingly popular the skiing/snowboarding scene, and has finally made it to the cycling world. Example: Sugoi merino wool base layer called the Sugoi Wallaroo 170 Cruiser.

If you go with a short-sleeve jersey, add some arm warmers that can be removed if the weather heats up. I’m a huge fan of the arm warmers!

A great mid-layer is a thermal/fleece pullover layer that is fitted, possibly with at least 1/4 zip for air-flow and comfort. Keeping base and mid layers fitted is key to ensuring you can fit more layers over top comfortably. Example: Sugoi Jersey Midzero Zip

Thermal/windproof
A jacket with wind-proof front paneling and a breathable, stretchy back is ideal for cold nasty days. It will keep you warm from the blowing wind while allowing you to breath through the back paneling. Look also for reflective stripes and pockets. Most jackets also have a bit longer back to cover the lower back more when bent over cycling. I’ve had a jacket like this for commuting and it’s lasted me years and I’ve worn it a lot, I almost prefer to wear it even in light rain because it’s so comfortable!

Waterproof
Gore-Tex and similar synthetics are the name of the game when it comes to waterproofness. GORE brand clothing contains Gore-Tex, a waterproof, breathable material that is also light-weight and easy to pack away in a back pocket. An example is the GORE Power 2 jacket – it’s very light, available in bright colours, has taped seems and zippers, reflective stripes, back-pocket and is a fairly stretchable material. Another similar waterproof jacket is the Sugoi Majik Shell jacket. It is not made of GoreTex and I’m told is not as breathable a material, but has side zips and a back panel flap for extra airflow. It also has taped seams, front chest pocket, four-way stretch in the back and is slightly lighter than the GORE jacket.

Gloves
You can even layer gloves if you wish. There are waterproof shell type gloves that can be worn over your normal bike gloves that are great for rainy days. Or, you can go with a slightly bulkier glove that has a thermal, wind-resistant and waterproof layering. I’ve been wearying a Sugoi pair for the past few years that have been awesome! They’re just the right thickness to keep my hands warm, but aren’t too think to inhibit braking and shifting.

Check out some of the gear at Different Bikes used as examples:

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