Introducing: Snowflake

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Bike, Equipment
Tags: ,

A few months ago I made another investment into this whole healthy lifestyle thing.  Yes, I spent my income tax return on a mountain bike.  I figure it’ll offer more opportunities to be outside riding and exploring local trails in the fall and winter off seasons rather than indoors chained to my trainer.  And any day spent NOT riding on my trainer, is a good day indeed.

Up to this point, I’ve only ridden it the once and my first inclination is that it felt like I was riding a dead elephant compared to either Lucille, my time trial bike, or Daisy, my road bike (click HERE for review).  Yes, I name shit.  That’s just how I roll.  Okay?  So, now, it is with great pleasure I further introduce you to the latest addition to my mechanical progeny, ‘Snowflake’:

Post Maiden Voyage

Post Maiden Voyage

Yes, I know.  That name is a bit fruity sounding but, hey, that’s what happens when you let your eight-year-old step daughter name stuff.  Lesson learned alright?

The first order of business was to get her tuned up a bit.  I dropped her off at Liberty! bike shop and I had some stuff done to her thing and some other stuff done to the whoseewhatsit, oh, and a thingamabobber added to the doo-hickey; something like that anyway.  Truthfully, I have no idea what was done as it all pretty much went over my head the moment I asked “so what all did you do?”  I just figure it’s polite to ask, so when they set about actually explaining the mechanical stuff it’s all I can do to just look like I have a clue as to what they’re talking about.  I nod approving when appropriate, perhaps look concerned here and there, maybe a hint of surprise if it’s possibly warranted but, basically, it’s all a show.  I know jack shit about bikes.  I probably know as much about bikes when I pick them up from the shop as a new father probably knows about parenting when his newborn baby first pops into the world.  Nada!  But, anyway, she’s all fixed up good with new pedals and an old pump attached to her stem, so I’m all set and ready to ride.

Now I just have to find me some trails…

…which, as it turns out, are not exactly in abundance around the Ridgeway or Crystal Beach area.  Sure, I have some private gravel driveways and back lots to explore but nothing, like, totally gnarly or tubular to, like, thrash (or whatever it is that popular mountain biker vernacular would have you believe).  Oh, that’s another thing: there is an entire new mountain biker culture to get familiar with.  For example, mountain bikers communicate totally differently.  It’s practically like trying to figure out an alien language.


Then there’s the whole dress thing.  At first, I didn’t understand the whole image that mountain bikers were striving for.  I mean, are we going cycling or going to a Beastie Boys concert?  I’m confused.  Personally, being a road cyclist firmly planted in roadie culture, I just can’t grasp the whole baggy clothing deal.  ‘Doesn’t it get hooked on shit n’ stuff?’, ‘is it aero?’  I didn’t get it.  But after a little more research on Google, I realized that I was actually picturing skateboarders, and mountain bikers actually do have a similar style in clothing as roadies.  There are subtle differences, of course, but largely they’re very similar.  My MasterCard just exhaled a sigh of relief.

But I did also notice that mountain bikers like to decorate their bikes with stickers and assorted ‘bling’, or some websites would have me believe anyway.  Okay, I can do that.  I’ll just find a smokin’ Ramones decal to put on the frame, maybe something with a phat wolf’s face on it to sicken up on ‘ol Snowflakes mad trail cred yo.  See what I did just there?  Yup, I’m a natural.

At the worst, it’ll mean another trip to the bike shop to buy myself a new cycling ensemble from the new Niagara chic, autumn 2013 fall fashion line.  Funny how I can’t stand the thought of spending even a single second shopping for a pair of casual pants, but I’ll happily model lyrca shorts and unflatteringly tight neon jerseys all day long.

And you think we're gay

Queue the ‘Guys and Dolls’ soundtrack.

But, whatever, this bike is an investment in my off-season training.  The goal being that even if I can spend one extra day riding outside in the zone through the winter season rather than having to endure yet another epically dull spin class – I’ll consider it a huge victory.  The buzz you get while hammering outside trumps training time spent tweaking away indoors in my books; so I will learn to shred, biff, bunny-up and bail whenever necessary.   Hopefully, with as minimal face plants as possible and without looking like SpongeBob GayPants.

See?  A natural!

So today it what I’m counting as the maiden voyage.  It was originally supposed to be a fun ride with the child and therefore off the books, but when she bailed to draw chalk figures in the driveway with the neighbor’s kid, I was given the ‘all clear’ to go at it alone.  I didn’t want to go long, though, figuring only a simple 15 kilometers or a 30 minute ride would be fun.  Of course, you don’t go that fast on a mountain bike, especially when you’re a foot deep in mud.  That’s right, I found me some mud.

Here’s the resulting carnage:

Who's a dirty girl?

‘Who’s a dirty girl?’

'Oh yeah, you're a  d-i-r-t-y g-i-r-l alright!'

‘Oh yeah, you’re a d-i-r-t-y g-i-r-l alright!’

You like being dirty don'cha?

‘Ya, you like being dirty don’cha?’

The rear shot.

The back door shot.

It’s like mountain biker porn isn’t it?

But really, this whole getting dirty business is going to take some getting used to.  I’ve ridden in rain and crap and ended up home in some sorry states before but – this mud thing – it’s going to take some time getting my head around it.  ‘You mean you just RIDE THROUGH IT?!’  Oh yeah, I can see a big spike in our grocery bill in the coming weeks thanks to laundry detergent alone.   I can see myself coming home with more skid marks then Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Having said that though, Kelly is an absolute ninja with getting stains out.  She’s like the ‘Laundry Whisperer’.

Anyway, I didn’t initially go out looking for mud, but it’s been crappy outside likely and, besides, once you’re in – you’re in.  You can’t exactly stop and turn around because things turn muddy, it’s better just to keep going.  And even though I ended up getting pretty filthy, I now know that Snowflake can take that kind of rough riding just as long as I keep up my end of the bargain and keep pedaling.  Daisy or Lucille would never have handled that shit.  Their thin front wheels would have locked up in about 2.3 nanoseconds, ending with me eating dirt from over my handlebars.  So, anyway, after I crossed the ‘Pit of Doom’, I rode through a few swamped playgrounds, down a private gravel drive and then home again.  It was awesome.  Gnarly even.  But it’s work!


So, I’m talking like a mountain biker now and I’m dressing like a mountain biker, and now I even got muddied up like a mountain biker.  Does this mean I am successfully initiated?  Can I consider myself rad or what?  Or is it sick?  Whatever…I think I rock.  And although I didn’t go very far, I have already figured out that mountain biking is a very different beast than road cycling; like the apples vs. oranges kind of different; Classic Coke vs. New Coke different…you get the idea.  But despite that, it was undeniably fun as well.  It’s less about speed and pace and more about just keeping going forward.  I kind of like that change in perspective.  I’m sure even the whole getting dirty thing will get easier (fingers crossed).  I can already see where I’ll need a specially designated pair of mountain bike shorts where skid marks are, well, either less noticeable or more flattering.  I’d be happy either way.


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