I’ve been too busy working and riding to blog as much as I used to. If you want a fix I‘m micro-photo-blogging on Instagram at @vikapproved . You are welcome to join me there. This blog will continue to see updates at a more or less once a week pace.
The Mach 6 got an update:
- the bike went Boost front and back [**sigh**]
- more subdued graphics [like]
- revised internal cable routing [like]
- alloy version available [like]
- stiffer revised linkages [like]
- removable front dérailleur mount for 1x use [like]
- updated shock [like]
All in all a good update. Kind of doesn’t matter to me much since I’m keeping my existing Mach 6 for many more years. The stiffer linkages are retrofit-able so I can add those to my bike should I wish.
Sharon’s Surly Cross Check has been rolling on Grand Bois Cypres 700c x 32mm tires for several years now. In that time she’s only had a few flats despite riding nearly daily to work. She’s not a powerful rider so having supple fast rolling tires is important to her. The Cypres fit the bill well.
Compass Bicycle has come up with their own version of this tire called the Stampede Pass. It’s still a supple 700c x 32mm tire. It’s similar to the Grand Bois Cypres and I believe it’s made in the same factory. I’ve been running the extra-light version of this tire tubeless on my Surly Straggler. I haven’t ridden mega miles on that bike, but my initial impressions are good.
Since Sharon rides a lot we got the normal weight version. She’ll make them “extra-light” by wearing them out!
We are going to upgrade Sharon’s wheels this fall as part of her birthday present. When that happens we’ll setup these tires tubeless as well. That should make her very few flats head towards zero and make these fast supple tires even faster. That’s win-win in my books. :)
Compass Bicycle sells these tires online for $57USD. If you live in Victoria, BC The Fairfield Bicycle Shop stocks them.
This is an 18 month review of my Five Ten Freerider Elements mountain bike shoes. Read my 6 month review here to get my initial thoughts as I won’t repeat them in this post.
Since getting these shoes I haven’t worn my previous 5.10 Impact Low shoes one time. Having said that on my last bikepacking trip my feet were getting sore and I felt like I just wasn’t getting the support I was used to from the Elements. I had bought a replacement pair on sale so I pulled them out and they were noticeably stiffer and more comfortable. So I put them into service and put the older pair in the closest as back up.
My Impact Lows withstood years of hard use and are still as good as they were on Day 1. So the Elements are definitely not as robust. I guess that’s reasonable from a much lighter more compact shoe. I ride year round and I bikepacked in these shoes so 18 months of use isn’t nothing. My old Elements are still in fine shape for light duty use. They are soft and very comfortable for wearing socially or cruising around town. Although they look a little rough! Where they start to let me down is 4-5hrs into a ride.
A couple other downsides to the Elements are:
- not quite as grippy as the Impact Lows
- not as much foot protection either
I tagged a rock at speed recently wearing the Elements and thought I had broken my toe. The Impact Lows would have shrugged that hit off with far less damage to my foot.
I’m really enjoying the stiffer feel of the new pair of Elements and I expect to get another 18 months of use from them before I need to think about new shoes. The trade off in service life and protection is reasonable in exchange for a lighter more versatile shoe.
If you are wondering the Elements are just a more weatherproof version of the straight up Freeriders. They do repel moisture well, but a low shoe can only keep you so dry in the wet. They dry faster than the Impact Lows and they are not particularly hot in the summer so I wear the Elements year round. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the normal Freeriders if I got a good deal on a pair. I don’t think the weatherproofness of the Elements is a big deal.
I’m not sure I’ll buy a 3rd pair. I might, but 3yrs is also enough time to spend wearing one shoe that I will probably be ready to see what’s new or go back to the Impact Lows for a while and feel all retro.
If you want a lighter mountain bike flats shoe that bikepacks well and can go out to a club dancing without looking too weird the Elements or there Freerider cousins are worth a look.
Bitching BC bikepacking! ;)
Day 6 – Spruce Lake to Tyax Lodge
Waking up reasonably early we were tempted to eat our oatmeal outside the “rippers'” tents and talk loudly about how we preferred chunky old school tech to modern flow trails, but we were too mature to resort to the eye-for-an-eye thing. Possibly we were also in a kinder gentler mood because we knew we’d be riding 99% of the time on the trail today. ;)
Cruising south along the east side of Spruce Lake we joined up with Gun Meadows Trail and enjoyed some high speed more or less buff alpine meadow riding. We merged onto Gun Creek Trail and kept dropping through forests and meadows on some amazingly fun curvy singeltrack.
A lot of the trail is on the softer looser side which you don’t realize when running 3″ tires since they provide just the right amount of float and traction to deal with the trail surface. When I was riding the same trail last year on my 27.5″ x 2.35″ tires I was shocked by how much I sank in and how much that slowed the bike down. Sections that were easy coasting and pumping good times on 29+ required constant pedalling on the skinnier tires.
My Krampus loves these sort of fast rolling trails and it was the one trail where I could stick with Scott most of the time. 3″ 29er tires roll faster than 2.8″ 27.5″ tires. Mild roughness equalized things and if things got really rough Scott’s full-suspension rig had the advantage.
This trail is so entertaining a couple hours whiz by without you realizing it.
After a good long section of forest singletrack you get into some rough techy double track that’s even faster and at speed just as entertaining with logs and rocks coming at you fast and furious. My cheeks hurt from all the smiling.
Eventually you get spit back on a dirt road. It’s still pointed down so you don’t mind, but if you’ve been here before you know that the ride is almost over and the last ~4kms are fairly climby and tough in the mid-day heat. Traffic whizzes by you to remind you that you are back in the world and the dust makes you wish you were already at the bar at Tyax Lodge.
I can assure you that first cold $7 beer at the bar was delicious. :) I will warn you not to order the $30 steak at Tyax. It’s a snack sized meal. :( The burger is a better choice.
The Tyax campground was full so we grabbed some ice to cool our beer and headed to one of the free campgrounds nearby to relax and pack away our touring gear. I was both very happy to be done and sad that another tour was wrapping up.
It was great to spend some time hanging out with a buddy in such beautiful country. A lot of the riding and all of the hike-a-bike was hard, but we don’t mind an honest effort. Aside from camping at Spruce Lake there really wasn’t anything bad about this trip. The weather was perfect and the bugs were light in most places.
Having said that I don’t see myself going back to the Chilcotins for a longer trip in the next few years.
The bottom line is that hike-a-bike to riding ratio is just too high. Even for someone who doesn’t mind some walking. I think we averaged something like 50% riding/50% HAB on a time basis. That’s probably 25% more HAB than I really want to do.
I’m sure I will be back though for shorter long weekend trips where I’m not eating into my limited holiday time. I’ve got some specific routes to explore, but I can do that in 3 days of riding with less food/gear.
If you’ve never been to the Chilcotins don’t let the HAB discourage you. It’s well worth a major trip and seeing the amazing terrain for the first time takes away much of harshness of the pushing.