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Monday, January 01, 2007

The Polar Bear Cyclocross Ride 

I called a 'cross ride for today, because I'm a nut. The ride turnout was dampened by lousy weather and hangovers, but five doughty souls showed up at Calhoun's at 1300 this afternoon. Due to the disreputable outlaw nature of this ride, I will use pseudonyms to identify the participants. We grabbed some beers, filled up our water bottles (I can highly recommend Unibroue's Fin du Monde as a sports beverage), and packed a few Shaftebury's for the road. There was only one rule we abided by that day: no team kit.

We started out in a loop that retraced the three Vancouver 'cross courses: West Point Grey Academy, Jericho Beach, and Vanier Park.

WPGA was unremarkable, though in the sloppy conditions some of the steeper slopes were unrideable. "Gord" (remember: not his real name) distinguished himself by being the only one able to ride the gravel pit.

Jericho was fun and ludicrously waterlogged. The race course followed a path that involved a little drop down a short, moderately steep slope, followed by a right turn onto a wide gravel path. I came through the section third. As I got to the top, I noticed a huge puddle covering the gravel path. Ahead, I could see Dave (his real name, but there's so many Daves that doesn't identify him) and The Kiwi pedaling through the "puddle." It was considerably deeper than their bottom brackets.

Remember, at this point my new BB, the most expensive one I have ever bought, has about 25 minutes of riding time.

I cackled madly and dropped in.

I saw "Gord" and the Rocket Scientist looking over the puddle from the top. Then they committed to wet feet with the rest of us. It was the signature moment of the ride.

Fun was had by all. At Vanier we deviated from the race course rather than ride through an evilly rust-coloured puddle of unknown depths. This was a surprising turn of good judgment for a pack of riders with beer in their water bottles.

Throughout the ride, I tried to educate these fellows on the key elements of the code of Drunken Cyclocross. Mainly it comes down to "don't spill your beer" and "leave no witnesses".

We saw a few of the Bienniale sculptures, and used them as cyclocross obstacles.

We crossed the Burrard Bridge, checked out the Polar Bear swim (but did not participate, for triathlism-related reasons), yelled at people in bad French, and entered Stanley Park. Dave managed to slide out impressively on wet grass, and then said he didn't want to be known as a sketch-pilot. Work on that more, Dave! Later, Dave claimed that the beer was performance-enhancing, and made him feel warm and happy.

Coming out of Stanley Park, we raced cars around the perimeter road and won. I would commend compact gearing to any semi-serious 'crosser as a highly versatile choice: I could ride most of the courses in the 36, and the 50 was perfect for the road. The sawzall of gearing for the sawzall of bikes.

As a 'cross ride, it was a total success. We got very wet, very muddy, and very giddy. That is what is supposed to happen. I think the beer helped. There is no doubt there will be a repeat performance next New Year's Day.

Be there, or be a panty-waisted bed-wetter.

Bianchi after the Polar Bear Ride

I completely rebuilt my 'cross bike last night and this morning for this ride. Oh well, it needed it. This was the maiden ride for the shifters and the new crankset.

I paid $120 for the crankset (marked down from about a $500 MSRP) and put it on a bike I got at a garage sale for $10.

Truvativ Rouleur Carbon

This is a very abusive thing to do to a fine and pretty component.

What is all that duct tape doing on your top tube near the seat tube? Hopefully for structural integrity.
Ha ha, my anonymous friend. The duct tape is holding together an improvised foam pad, which is there to make shouldering the cross bike more comfy.

My theory about that is that this old bike is less comfy to shoulder than most bikes because of the narrower frame tubes.

Even on steel tubes these days, the trend is to larger diameters, for a lot of good reasons.

The fact that it looks like a lunatic's frame repair is merely a bonus.
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