PVTA Trail Day, next Saturday, April 13

The Pemberton Valley Trails Association is hosting their annual trail clean-up on Sat. April 13.  We’re meeting at the shop in the morning for a pancake breakfast, then heading out to the trails around 10am.  We’re going to be introducing the new blue downhill – a bunch of volunteers will be needed to open up the start and finish of the trail – it’s a ton of fun, I rode it last week.

Ian will be taking a crew up to Newsflash, the new climb from FizzyPop up to Breakaway for some final buffing, and I’d like to get some work done backfilling some of the roots on Waco.  If anyone has any other suggestions feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.

The Collectors

Nice vid from our pals at Chromag.

More Mountain Bike Videos on Pinkbike

Pemberton Valley Trails Association AGM this Wednesday

Come on out to the PVTA’s AGM, this Wednesday March 13. We’re meeting at 7p.m. in the Youth Centre, beside the main Community Centre in downtown Pemberton.

“This Wednesday is a great chance to get involved with the PVTA. Come out and sign up for a membership and hear about our Summer plans. If you are feeling like giving a bit back to the community, at the AGM we’ll be electing new Directors to the Board. We have a busy summer planned – the completion of the Mt. Currie Hiking Trail, the summer Fundraiser, ongoing trail maintenance, and more trail signage.”

I’d really like to see the biweekly rides start again, but we would need a dedicated Race Director – anyone up to it?

The Big Sale

The snow’s melting quicky and the bike gear has started to arrive.  So, it’s time to purge the ski gear.  We’re having a Really Big Sale.

Most stuff is 50% off.

Icebreaker is 40% off.  Holy smokes.

Ski Helmets from POC and Smith – 50% off.

Touques 2 fer 1

Gloves 50%

Some cool deals on bike gear too…

Surly Pugsley First Impressions

So, for whatever reason I haven’t gotten a ski pass yet this year.  Not sure why.  I’ve been doing an alternate-recreation winter: snowshoeing, some XC, lots of photography down in Squamish.  My aging dog likes it there and the gas is 5 cents a litre cheaper.  I digress.

Mid-winter and we needed something new around the shop, so I ordered up a shiny Surly Pugsley.  These fat-tire bikes have been around for a while now, but we’ve seen zero demand – I think everyone assumed there’s just too much snow here for them to actually work, myself included.  The recent cold dry spell provided some perfect conditions for testing the Pugsley in prime winter snow.

First, the bike itself.  Ordered on a whim, NRG – Surly’s Canadian distributor – had it in the shop the next day.  The hardtail fully rigid 4130 steel frame and fork (made in Taiwan) is built around the huge 3.8 tires, with funky bends in the rear triangle, an 80mm bottom bracket, special front derailleur bracket and a custom 135mm spaced front fork (the Pug runs a rear hub up front, so the front and rear wheels can be swapped if the freehub cacks out).  There’s a touch of Rube Goldberg, but it’s all functional and executed superbly.  Assembling the bike with the stock parts kit was smooth, fabrication-free event.  The final bike, with it’s bright yellow paint and huge black tires is beautiful.

The Bumblebee

During my first spin around the parking lot I was somewhat surprised to find that despite the Salvador Dali inspired seatstays and fork, the Pugsley rides just like… a bike.  I was expecting a ton of rolling resistance from the massive tires, running at just 7 psi, and a lot of general squishyness.  Instead, the Pugsley rode like any other bike – until I got to the end of the lot, and went up and over the snowbank.  Hmm, maybe there’s something to this.

Next day I headed to the Whistler Interpretive Forest, to tackle the Cheakamus Lake road.  I thought I’d start with a road well traveled – and packed – by skiers, snowshoers and the occasional snowmobile.  (Side note: don’t get a Pugsley if you don’t like talking to people – everyone wants to know what this thing is.  I hadn’t even left the parking lot and people were taking pictures of it leaning against my truck.)  Once I started up the road I tried to ride into untracked snow, and my suspicions were confirmed:  the Pugsley may be a ‘snow bike’ but it’s no powder bike.  A foot of fresh stops you dead, just like any other bike.  But, if I stayed in the centre of the track, where the most traffic had been I could ride – slowly, gently – up the road.  Pedal circles, grasshopper!

I made it a couple of klicks up the road, just past the entrance to the Farside trail where a lot of the snowshoers branch off.  The less compacted snow and a slightly steeper pitch defeated the Pugsley, so I turned my attention to the Farside.  Dropping in the the ‘singletrack’ I discovered one of the drawbacks to riding in deep snow: my less-than-agile old dog got in the way and I dropped the front wheel off the packed trail and stopped dead.  I instinctively put down my foot, immediately post-holed up to my thigh and slammed my other knee into the top tube.  So, don’t do that.

Once I was rolling on the trail, the sore knee was forgotten.  Going down on the Pugsley is an entirely different ballgame.  Smooth and steady is still the name of the game, but once the bike gets rolling it starts to feel a bit like it’s planing.  It was fun and controllable, and with firmly packed snow I even rode up all the small climbs.  It was fun enough that I turned at the bottom and rode up the Westside Main.  This road sees heavier use so uphill traction was less of a problem, and the ride back down the Riverside trail was a ton of fun.

The next day I just rode around Pemberton, and went to the winter festival – I found a picture of myself on Flickr:

Photo by Dave Steers

For my second real ride I headed up the Duffey Lake Road, to check out the old logging road into Cayoosh Mt.  Traction on this well traveled road wasn’t too bad, but I still found the tires prone to breaking through the cold compacted snow and into what felt like ball bearings.

Beautiful day for a Bike Ride!

A couple of times I had to push, but I think that’s par-for-the-course with this style of riding.  It’s all slow and steady.  Walk, ride, you’ll get there.

The steepness of the road here was about the traction limit. I made it right to the end of the road. Mt. Cayoosh looms above.

The ride back down was, again, a blast; once the bike gets up to speed all the sliding around disappears and the bike feels smooth and controllable.

Attention to detail: Thumb shifters for use with gloves or mitts. They work really well! (I checked for all you XC racers, no, they don’t make a 10 speed yet).

Funky bent seatstays. The fork looks like that too. The bike rides straight though!

So, what’s the verdict?  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time on the Pugsley to really rate it.  For certain types of snow, namely hard, well packed snow it works really well.  If you’re thinking of ripping trails like you do in summer, it’s not going to happen, at least here in the Coast Range.  Even if you can find a trail that’s not blocked by bent-double trees, you just can’t ride through snow that deep on a bike.  Now, if you had a crew of guys with fat-tire bikes keeping a trail clear and packed, that might work…

For now, I’ll be sticking to groomed tracks and well compacted logging roads.  I’m going to try the Lillooet FSR up past the Hurley and the Sea to Sky trail, but I think the Pugsley will really come into its own a little later in the winter when we start seeing some melt/freeze cycles.



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