Friday, January 2, 2015

The Passion Returns!

Back in January of 2012, I wrote a blog entry (Will the Rubber Hit the Road . . . Again?) about my purchasing a fluid trainer for my bike and actually wanting to get back in the saddle. Well, I am glad to say that back in July of 2014, I finally went through with the idea - albeit, more off-road than on-road!!

But how about a bit of back story - with some pictures for good measure?

I started off as a road racer back in 1984 - my last year of high school. Some success at the local level qualified me for some training/racing on the mainland and my road career culminated with competing at the Summer Games in 1985.

I was working in a bike shop as a summer position during the period from 1985 to 1989 and it was at this time I was introduced to the next "big thing" in cycling - mountain bikes (MTB)! I went through a number of bikes during this time - some good, some bad but my favourite was my Raleigh Technium Chill which I purchased in 1989. This bike had an aluminum frame with no welding but rather "space age" adhesives that held the frame together!! Of course, there was not much in the way of suspension at this time. but I did actually have a Girvin Flexstem and you can see it in the image below!!  All it did was dampen the jarring transferred up the super stiff Tange Big Fork!!

Promo shot I took for my Raleigh!

As far as I know, the first organized MTB race ever held here was circa 1989. The course was near Snow's Lane (near Stavanger) but has since been developed!  The course was rather flat with no technical sections, so it favoured the road racers! Tom Lawlor was first and I came in second - yep, two road racers!!

One of the faves for MTB racing was the side of Signal Hill - just below where the Geo Centre now stands. It had some up and down hills (obviously), some water and a few technical sections.

Climbing on the Signal Hill course!

Cresting a hill and hitting a flat section!

Other MTB courses at the time included ones in Pippy Park (no surprise there), The Goulds, Petty Harbour and St, Anne's Industrial Park,  to name a few! 

In the early 1990's there was a pretty vibrant MTB racing scene but after 1991, I slipped away from the cycling scene altogether.

But not before I had a few more kicks at the cat for road racing!

In 1990 I was hired full-time as a bike mechanic for the newly resurrected Pike's Cycle/Sport store. Besides the perks of incredible deals on bikes and parts, the store also sponsored a cycling team.  This team raced both road and MTB.  Below are two pictures of the 1990 and 1991 road teams.

(l to r) Dan Haedrich,  Malcolm Simpson, Sean Dawe, Tom Lawlor and Todd Manning)

(l to r) Sean Dawe,Todd Manning, Spencer Campbell and  Darroch Whittaker)

My final road race was held on the Pouch Cove, Torbay via the Bauline Line circuit. It was a good showing but it seemed that the triathletes were becoming the next wave of racers and things were more like a time trial than an actual road race. 

The road bike was stabled and the Raleigh was relegated to commuting! Eventually, both were retired and saw no action for close to two decades!!  So hard to believe that what was once an all-consuming passion had simply slipped away - but such is life!!

But life has a way of turning things back on you and, luckily for me, I rediscovered the passion!!

Fast forward to July, 2014! I decided that I wanted to get the old Raleigh back on the trails/road. I found that the outer chainring had a few worn teeth and the chain would skip. A trip to a local bike shop showed that it is not easy to find replacement parts for a 24 year old MTB!! I walked into the shop looking for a chainring and walked out with a brand new bike!! Well, a 2012 Giant Anthem X3 but it was still in the box!!  The full suspension was sooo nice on my creaky joints and the precise shifting and hydraulic disk brakes were light years ahead of my old Raleigh. After a few rides on the new bike, I was hooked!!  The passion was rekindled!! Of course, not having ridden in years meant that I had to buy all new gear - helmet, shorts, jerseys, pedals, shoes, dropper post, tights, gloves, lights etc etc etc!! And oh, how the money rolls out!!!

Nice and shiny - Anthem X3.
But the money spent is worth it when you can get out for a ride that includes such scenes as below!!

Winter ride on the tracks near Seal Cove.

I did not want to limit my riding just to the trails, so I decided to drag the old road bike into the 21st century! Luckily, all I needed was a new set of bars and stem to allow me to attain a position more comfortable. Since the picture below was taken, I've added some new tires. I like to use to road bike to change things up a bit. Do you remember as a kid that you wore heavy boots all winter and then one spring day you put on your sneakers and went outside to play? I find that getting on the road bike feels just like that time you pulled on the sneakers!!

The old Miele ready for the road.

Well, now it's January and the temps have dropped and snow is imminent!!  How does one continue with the passion if your bike is not ready for the snow? I have my road bike relegated to the trainer once again but, as many know, riding a trainer is about as exciting as watching paint dry - maybe even less so!!

The answer is a fatbike! I rode one for a few hours back in early December and had one of those "I've-got-to-get-me-one-of-these" moments!!!

And I did!!

On December 30, I took the plunge and purchased a Surly Pug Ops! I guess I am ready for the snow now!! There'll be no cooling of the passion this winter!!

Surly Pug Ops

One Mean Mother!!

Pug on Ice!!

And since getting back on the bike, I am discovering that there is an incredibly active (and friendly) biking group in this area!! Heck, if they are willing to take on a relic like me . . .

Breaking in the Pug in Pippy Park!!

So, with bikes to cover all the seasons and all kinds of terrain, it looks like 2015 is going to be a great year!!