Spot

I gotta say, the Spot Longboard is performing beautifully these winter days. I’m still getting used to the geometry, and the disc brakes, but it’s coming. No problems with the belt. Every once in awhile a chunk of snow (or something) goes through the belt/sprocket and there’s a disturbing clunk sound, but it keeps on working.

The Stella 200L light is, literally, a lifesaver. What a great light! It’s such a pleasant surprise to buy a product that delivers MORE than promised. I got a Stella 150L for my helmet on eBay for half price. It’s working good too, and it’s not burning out the retinas of approaching people.

I took a few days off riding when it got real cold, but I’m glad to be back in the saddle again. I’m going to get one of the MEC balaclavas, because mine covers the mouth. My concern with these things is being able to breathe through my mouth, and the MEC one has a hole. I can’t get enough air in breathing through my nose. I doubt anyone can when riding.

Tried making it up Lungbuster, but there was no way. I think the studded tires dig into the snow. I walk up most of the way. It’s still easier than taking the stairs, which I tried a few times. I’ll tell ya, they seem to go on forever. That’s a good workout.

The city’s done a great job on the paths, with the exception of the Gateway North path from 72-69 ave. It wasn’t done last year either. It’s pretty much unrideable. Same as last year. I made it a few times, but an inch or two to either side, and you get stuck in two feet of snow, and go for a tumble. Three blocks can take 15 hard minutes. It’s like doing one legged squats for 15 mins. Lots of swearing involved. I hope they get this one cleared too.

Lights for Winter

Last year during much of the winter, my TriCross was decorated with a battery powered string of Christmas LED lights I bought when in Regina. Besides being seasonal and festive, it made me highly visible, and I believe it really helped put a smile on people’s faces. So, I’ll be doing it again this winter. Unfortunately last winter was very hard on me, my bikes, and especially the lights, which didn’t make it through the entire winter. One very cold day the cord just got too brittle and just snapped.

I’m looking for another string. They need to be LED, and run by AA batteries like the ones from last year. I’m sure I’ll find some, but I haven’t seen any as nice as last year’s.

I’m also considering some of the wheel lights I’ve seen. Very cool looking, and highly visible from the sides. They’re still pretty light, which is always a consideration on the wheels, as winter riding, though often very slow, can be quite hard pedalling through deep snow, slush, and the sand/dirt combinations. Sometimes the snow gets heavy and sticky. I don’t need any extra weight, but these should be ok. I’m thinking seriously about getting some.

This year I plan to commute in winter on my single-speed (SS) belt-drive, if I ever get it dialled in. I’ve got to admit I’ve had serious second thoughts about this bike. It’s been in the shop more than I’ve ridden it, due to problems getting the belt properly aligned, etc.

If I do get it dialled in, I’m looking to put a good quality front light on it. I may be riding the ravine in winter, and both ways are dark, so it’s important to be able to see well. There are many lights meant for night mountain biking. They can get pretty expensive. The cheaper ones I used last year won’t cut it in the ravine. They are more for being seen, so I’ll still have some of them on my bike, as secondary lights, and flashers.

But I’ll get a real good front headlight. I want to be able to still film my commutes during the dark conditions. I don’t know how well it’ll work, but I’m hoping for some pretty spectacular results.

Of course I may still end up working downtown if I get the new job I’m in the running for, which is a pretty short commute for me. Part of me is really looking forward to the Roper Road commute in winter, though I know it will likely take an hour or more each way. We’ll see.

The headlight I’m looking at is the “Light & Motion Stella 200”. It’s $400 though! So. I’m really giving it some thought, and doing my research. If I get that, and the Rohloff Hub on my Spot Longboard bike, it’ll put it well over $4000. Ouch. Still, it beats buying a car. That’s about what some people pay in insurance and parking for a year. I think it is anyway. I really don’t know, because I pay $0. (Except for the bike locker I rent downtown – $21/mo)

New Bike “SPOT”

This one’s called “Spot”, for obvious reasons (it’s made by Spot, and says Spot on the side). It looks like a tank, but it’s very light. I bought it to use as my winter commuter, so I can take it a little easier on “Babe”.

Low maintenance! Single speed. Belt drive. Disc brakes. 29’er wheels. Steel frame.

My bike "SPOT"

My bike "SPOT"

Fun to ride! I feel like I’m pedalling my ass off and going nowhere sometimes though. The single gear ratio is pretty easy, but that’s about right for winter. The feel is opposite from “Babe”. The shocks absorb everything, and I can easily ride up a high curb coming straight on. It feels like I’m going over a little bump. The belt drive almost make it feel too easy.

Still getting used to it after a day riding. Way different than the cyclocross bike feel. I feel like I’m bouncing up and down a lot because of the shocks. I’m struggling getting the belt alignment set perfectly. And I’ll need to raise the seat more to get comfortable. But you should see this bike parked next to a normal mountain bike. It looks gigantic. Everyone thinks it must weigh a ton until they pick it up. Light as a feather.

Off to MEC for a light and bell, and maybe some kind of deflector fenders for rain.

“Babe” – my #1 bike

2008 Specialized TriCross Comp. This bike made it through a very harsh winter of commuting, and after my late spring tune-up it still runs like new. A joy to ride anytime I’m on it.

My regular commuter bike

My regular commuter bike

I sprung for the rack set, and I’m glad I did. Now I have a built in bottle opener on the front of my bike.