Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter trail riding - South March Highlands

Rode about 50km of single track on the fat bike this weekend, including a Saturday night ride at South March Highlands and then a Sunday ride on the same trails. Other than the cold and blowing snow at night, conditions were excellent and it was fast riding. Highly recommended!

This bike is a Norco Bigfoot that I bought last fall. It's been a total blast in the snow. The only mods were replacing the tires (originally Vee Rubber) with the 45North Dillinger front and rear, and swapping the stock joke of pedals with some Saint flats. The Dillingers have a 120 tpi casing that shaves a pound off the bike, rolls and grips a lot better. Otherwise the bike is stock and it's an excellent build for $1500. At some point I may replace the front hub. It's a cone/cup style which is stupid to adjust reliably, and this weekend I noticed it was way too tight. No obvious bearing damage though in spite of some serious abuse in horrible trail conditions over the past few months. Also, the bar grips loosen in the cold and should be replaced with a locking type.

Here's a video of today's ride. Grip was solid. Got a bit tricky when the packed tread narrowed and led to pedal strikes on crust that could rip you off the bike. There's about a 4" sweet spot to ride in. Lots of fun once you get warmed up and the hands finally thaw out.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lost Iron Mines of Lanark County - Almonte Lecture Series Feb 21

Here's the blurb for my upcoming lecture on the Wilbur Mine.

Friday February 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Almonte United Church
106 Elgin St.AlmonteON K0A 1A0

If you are visiting the Lanark Highlands just to the west of Ottawa, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it has always been a sparsely populated, rugged wilderness. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you'll find another story that's all but forgotten. 

In the late 1800s, Lanark County was transformed by discoveries of rich deposits of iron ore and other minerals. Demand in Kingston for local iron sources to feed the booming industry there led to the creation of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway. As the rails pushed north, mines and towns sprung up along the way and helped turn eastern Ontario into one of the most active mining regions in Canada. But the boom was short-lived. By the early 1900s the ore deposits proved uneconomical. The mines closed, communities became ghost towns, and finally the rails were pulled up. Dense overgrowth now hides few remaining clues.  

In this lecture, Jordan Smith of Almonte will present the story of the Wilbur iron mine, once the largest iron mine in Ontario. He will share insights gained from exploring the mine site itself, a project he started after discovering some curious gaps in the historical record. 

Jordan Smith holds a combined degree in physics, engineering, and English from the University of Waterloo. Following careers in high tech and the arts, he now works at Deloitte where he advises clients on finance matters relating to R&D. Jordan's many interests include history, archaeology, and teaching which is especially close to his heart. He can often be found deep in the backcountry on his motorbike exploring old trails and ghost towns.

Edit: Over 100 people turned up for my presentation. I heard later that many people were disappointed they couldn't attend. I'm looking into giving the presentation again soon, so if you're interested in that stayed tuned.