Jul 25, 2018

Canmore -> Elbow Lake -> Bragg Creek Underbiking

#Underbiking - To ride an inappropriate bike on a route (at least, that's what I think it means).

With a surprise activity free weekend available, and Nadia agreeing to do shuttle duties, a plan was hatched to ride a new-to-me route from Canmore to Elbow Lake campground, then from there out to Bragg Creek where I'd get picked up.

Little did I know how big a bite I bit off...

Day 1 Strava
Day 2 Strava 

My trusty Breezer Doppler Team "Gerollwagen" road bike and full Ortlieb bikepacking setup. Because I was going to be spending the night above 2000m, I brought more cold weather and rain gear than usual making my bike and kit around 60lbs total. I probably should have put those 54mm Schwalbe G-One Bite's on instead of the comparatively weenie WTB Riddler 42s - more on that later.

The trip started well enough with bright sunshine and beautiful views, but with a headwind that never really abated for the entire day. I was happy in one sense as the Smith-Dorien road was in pretty good shape with very little deep gravel, and not too much traffic to dust me out. 52 kilometres of continuous gravel ahead.

MOOSE! Actually, 2 moose. So rare to see them in the middle of the day. They didn't stick around to watch them for too long. What a treat.

While the gravel itself wasn't deep, the washboard (visible by the dark patches on the road) was present along the entirety of the Smith-Dorien Road forcing me to ride on the extreme right hand side of the road most of the time. Again, those views - wow! Sure did make battling the headwind easier as my mind would wander around the peaks in the distance.

Once the gravel was finished, the real climbing began. I was already feeling pretty merle'd (as in haggered) from fighting the gravel and wind, now it was headwind and part of the Highwood Pass climb to deal with. At the corner of the "Smitty-D" and Hwy #40 I came across this curious pack of goats. With so many young with them, I kept my distance, fearing one of them might get spooked and buck me off the road. 

I've ridden the Highwood Pass many times but never with camping gear onboard. The extra weight and stiff headwind made for some very slow going, including some walking, as my legs were feeling the days effort in a big way. Still ahead was the final (literal) 1.3km push up to the Elbow Lake Campground. That. Was. Hard. Just a few hundred metres up I decided to switch to my camp shoes as my riding shoes were making the push even more difficult.

Elbow Lake. Headwaters of the mighty Elbow River. The campground is just to the right in the trees and is really lovely. Being a backcountry site, the cooking areas are separated from the sleeping areas, bear bins for food and garbage are provided, and it had one of the nicest outhouses I've had the privilege of sitting in :)

Home for the night. By the time I got here, I was super blown and a little dizzy from the days effort, so priority #1 was to setup my tent and have a nap for an hour before doing much else. After nap bottle filling, dinner prepping, leg stretching, campground exploring, and relaxing into the evening was wonderfully peaceful. What a spot. Huge thanks to Lindsay (https://thismombikes.net/blog) for use of their reservation.
Morning vibes. Overnight temperatures were perfectly chilly and some rain overnight made the morning a little cool and damp. Thankfully I brought the aforementioned cool and wet weather gear. From speaking with friends, I knew the day ahead was going to be tough but I had no idea how tough it was going to be.

On my way across the top of Elbow Pass towards Tombstone campground and the Big Elbow trail. Equal parts walking and riding on the way there. It was around this point where I was wishing I brought a proper mountain bike. #Underbiking for the win! Spectacular scenery everywhere you look. And maybe the most honest road I have ever been on. To think that only a few decades ago you could drive a car right up to Elbow Lake,

Looking back towards Elbow Lake, with the Elbow River just below, "Gerollwagen" in all it's glory. This was not gravel grinding, I was now boulder bashing. Extremely slow going, my average speed over the first hour was only 8kph! At this point I was getting close to the beginning of the Big Elbow trail which is 21kms long and would take my out to Hwy #66.
Imagine riding a road bike over that stuff. I had hoped that once I got onto the Big Elbow trail that conditions would improve but to my chagrin the trail was equal parts fast and flowing and more boulder bashing. My tire choice was staring me in the face at this point with a couple of pinch flats as the icing on top. (...reminds self to get tubeless setup sorted asap...)  The floods of 2013 have completely transformed the trail and blow in out in many places. There has been a lot of work done to remediate it but it is definitely still a work in progress.
Some water crossing aren't as deep as others.

Pavement ahead. And more headwinds - ugh. And thunderstorms - double ugh. After almost 3 hrs my average speed was only 11kph! That was a grind. I was so stoked to have some smooth roads ahead but the relief was brief as strong headwinds and heavy rain made the 35kms into Bragg Creek brutal in it's own way.
All in all, this was a challenging route, probably best suited to a hardtail mountain bike with a lockout fork, but whatever - ride whatcha got, right? The bike and bags performed beautifully. Would I take a road bike across Elbow Pass again? Probably not with camping gear onboard, maybe yes unloaded and with bigger volume tires.

Thanks for reading.

Jul 6, 2018

We're Moving To Inglewood!

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein

The time has come to make a shift.

After almost 9 years in business, we've decided to shift not only where we will be located but also how we do business and what we will be offering.

We're moving our shop into a beautiful, quiet corner of Inglewood - just off the main drag. It will be a little smaller, a little more focused, and a little more fun to operate. We'll be announcing the address of the new shop in a few weeks time.

The last couple of years have found Nadia and I feeling a little off balance, with so many structural changes happening not only in our industry, but in our community, and in our personal lives. The last couple of years have been pretty tough. We have been very conscious of these changes and challenges and felt the time was right to redefine what this business means to us and how we can run it so that we can continue to enjoy the process and offer our best selves to you - our customers and friends.

* New Community * New Format * New Energy *

New Community - Almost since the day we opened, many of the fine folks of Inglewood have been asking us to move our shop there. Being as brand new as we were, moving seemed like a very bad idea at the time. Times do change. We're older. We're more established. We're a destination for customers from all over Western Canada. And we have a new vision for what our bike shop can be. Now felt like the right time. Inglewood is on a tear right now, and we want to be there as this neighbourhood grows up.

New Format - In 2 words, appointments and focus. Yes, we will still be open to the public on regular days but moving forward we will be offering "Appointment Only" service - no more walk-in service - to help us be better and to get you back on your bike in very short order.

You will also be able to book appointments for sales consultations

 ~ Want some uninterrupted time talking about, test riding, and purchasing a cargo bike with one of our staff? Done.

~ Are you thinking about buying a Brompton and want to sit down with us to discuss all the details? Perfect.

~ Maybe you've decided you want a custom build of a new touring/adventure bike or commuter? Yes!

~ Are you trying to get the perfect bike or kid-carrying solution for your children? We want to take the time to get the right fit and model. We want to give you and your family our undivided attention.

Retail has changed. The way people shop has changed a lot in 9 years. When we opened, internet shopping and buying was not really a force in peoples lives like it is now. Finding cool products was difficult but these days, everything under the Sun is now a click away. The new store will have a much tighter focus on what we offer - think emporium or showroom - and will be purposefully limited in scope to the segments we are passionate about:

~ Moving Families

~Adventuring Around Your 'Hood And The World

New Energy - It's no secret that we were finding life on one of Calgary's "high streets" increasingly frustrating and also finding it difficult to be a neighbourhood bike store that can serve everyone.

We've realized we cannot be everything to everyone so we're scaling back what we offer and what we service, re-focusing on our core mission, and bringing a renewed level of enthusiasm back to the shop. Nadia and I are excited to be making this change and we hope you feel our excitement when you visit our new store. Our focus has always been on adventurous families and these changes will allow us to serve you and your families better.

Same Great Stuff - The new store will still be stocked with the coolest bike stuff on planet Earth and we will continue to search for the next best bike product out there. All the cool brands you love are coming along for the ride - and some new ones too! Stay tuned.

But first - we have some business to attend to - 

The timeline of the move is as follows:

July 6th through August 31: EVERYTHING MUST GO SALE.
September 2018: Physical store and webstore closed for business.
October 2nd: Planned opening of the new store.

As we plan our move, we want to acknowledge how grateful we are to have been able to serve all of you for all these years and to express our love for Alberta's cycling community - #yycbike and #yegbike.

It really does take a community to build a bike shop and we would not be here - growing and evolving - if it wasn't for you.

Thank you.

We 💗 you.

We'll see you in Inglewood in October!

Nadia, Sean, Monsieur, and the staff of BikeBike.

Jul 5, 2018

Rodebud Rambler 2018

Connor, Mr. Pillows, and Chris overlooking the Rosebud River Valley

In the never ending quest to ride in new places the 3 of us set off on a mostly-gravel bike overnight to the Canadian Badlands, destination Drumheller, Alberta. Our route was based around avoiding pavement as much as we could and would take us through Rockyford, Rosebud, Wayne, and eventually to the giant dinosaur in"Drum".

Day 1 Strava
Day 2 Strava