Dear Santa – Cam’s List

Words Cam McRae
Date Dec 17, 2015

The truth is my wish list isn’t that long this year. I’m not hot and bothered about a new bike and no carbon bits or new apparel have caught my attention either. Now that the dust is settling on wheel size and other standards (ha!), I find myself with the bike I want for pretty much every kind of riding I do. I’ve attempted the one-bike-to-rule-them-all before, but never with so few compromises. More on that after Xmas.

Send Me Away Santa
So my mind turns to experiences. Places to see, to ride bikes or to slide on snow. I have a hankering to experience some of Japan’s famous powder, but there are some places I’d like to check out closer to home as well. Retallack is high on that list. I’ve almost been there during the summer, but injury got in the way. I’ve been seduced by photos of sinewy trails in the high alpine, all leading to a luxury lodge. But my powder quota hasn’t been met for some time, and since it’s been dumping here in B.C., I’d love for Santa to hook me up with three or four days of thigh-deep leg destruction.

retallack

I want this Santa. Days and days of this. And then I want it again in the summer. Screen cap from Retallack The Movie.

And while we’re on the topic of travel, I’m in search of the ideal winter riding destination. When I say ideal, I’m talking about no compromises at all. I’d like plentiful high-trails with lots of variety; steeps, loams, swoopy brakeless flow and perhaps 5000 feet of vertical. I’d be keen on a lift of course but some pedalling would also be essential. Beyond that I’d like great restaurants and night life and lots of quirky and relatively affordable hotels. Let’s put Portland at the bottom of the hill. But Portland doesn’t have cherry weather this time of year so let’s move the whole thing to San Diego. It’s far enough south to be warm all year but still close enough that flying there with a bike won’t break the bank.

Or maybe this destination, minus the chairlift, already exists? If so please give me the coordinates.

Rack ‘Em Up
I’ve always been a fan of hitch-mounted, tray-style racks like those made by Thule and Yakima. They will transport virtually any kind of bike, including kids bikes, road bikes and cruisers, and they transport the bikes behind your car so they don’t demolish your gas mileage the way roof-mounted racks do.

Interbike15_ThuleRack_NSMB_KazYamamura-8

That handle there is what I’m looking for Nick. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

Thule has made some impressive changes to their T2 tray rack, and re-christened it the T2 Pro. The biggest difference is the manner in which the rack folds up and down. Previous 4-bike tray racks required gymnastics moves and herculean strength to lift rack back into the upright position after use, or to lower the rack when fully loaded to gain access to the back of your vehicle. The lifting had to happen at the rear of the rack, for maximum leverage, but the release was five feet away, near your hitch. A game of Twister is no longer required with the T2 Pro. It has a trigger release at the end of the rack (whether you have a two or four bike configuration) that allows you to easily release and lift or lower the rack.

Interbike15_ThuleRack_NSMB_KazYamamura-7

The new T2 can accommodate plus and even fat bikes – without neglecting roadies. Photo – Kaz Yamamura

Beyond that the T2 Pro has more ground clearance, improved space between bikes for wide bars and it’s been moved rearward to give you better access to the junk in your trunk. And yes – I want a four bike version please. Whenever hassle is removed from the process of transporting bikes it gets you out there more often, which makes a new rack a solid investment in recreation.

audi

Maybe you could toss in one of these? It already has a T2 Pro attached so it would actually save some time.

 

Steel
Okay – maybe I do have a simmer going for a bike. It’s a simmer that has evolved some. I have a steel hardtail that I like to ride, but it’s a 1996 Dekerf. I’ve given it an updated treatment, but it can’t keep up with modern geometry and advances in wheel diameter. I have to admit that while I’ve been thinking about a new chro-mo bike I’ve been wondering about wagon wheels and even 27.5 Plus. Maybe even something mated to Boost axles to allow for a compact and responsive rear end. Blasphemy I know, but I want to keep up with my buddies, and Plus might save my body some.

surface

The Chromag Surface will be on my list of bikes to consider. It’s handmade by Chris Dekerf, and I love his workmanship. But I might just wait until Chromag or somebody else makes a 27.5 Plus hardtail with modern geometry for aggressive riding – because I’m pretty curious about that experience.

There it is Santa. If moving cities and mountains is too much I’ll happily accept the rack and a custom painted Chromag.


Got a warm, relatively close winter riding destination for me?

 

 

Comments

brente
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brente  - Jan. 2, 2016, 11 p.m.

have a lovely 26+ hardtail don't see the need for an industry fueled replacement.

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 19, 2015, 9:45 a.m.

i feel like you asked for a hardtail last year too, cam. obviously more than a passing fancy - scratch that itch!

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 20, 2015, 10:07 p.m.

I think you are right. And they have evolved in that time to magnify my lust.

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jitenshakun
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Jitensha Kun  - Dec. 18, 2015, 8:55 a.m.

With adjustable geometry on some of the Fatbikes out there it's possible to kill many birds with 1 stone. Fatbike for winter/wet and use it as a 27.5+ for faster days. 120mm air cartridge along with an RC3 damper upgrade in your Bluto and you're off to the races.

If a West Cost hardtail I'd go for a Truelove. My '98 DeKert Team ST had a wicked pull to the left. Only bike I've ever owned I couldn't ride hands free.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Dec. 18, 2015, 9:08 a.m.

I was just about to comment to this effect. I have a Surly Ice Cream Truck with a 100mm Bluto and 27.5×3.0 tires. It is a hefty frame – surely not a BC- built Chromag – but the frame feels alive like none of the aluminum frames do and rides like BC hardtailers expect.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 18, 2015, 9:48 a.m.

My fatbike interest is just slightly above zero.

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Dec. 18, 2015, 9:55 a.m.

that's funny… mine is probably lower.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Dec. 18, 2015, 9:57 a.m.

My steel hardtail interest and desire to experiment overrides the fat issue. I can see how image does get in the way, though.

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morgan-taylor
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Morgan Taylor  - Dec. 18, 2015, 9:57 a.m.

Oh good, Jerry's here!

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Jerry-Rig
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Jerry Willows  - Dec. 18, 2015, 10 a.m.

no snow, no care… it's shovel season anyways.

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hoz
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Hoz  - Dec. 21, 2015, 3:55 a.m.

It's funny, but I said the same thing about 6 months ago. But somewhere along the way I crossed paths with an article by Morg about his ICT. Fast-forward to a killer deal on a new ICT (NZ importer shutting up shop) - I thought don't knock it till you've tried it. Now I have a fat beast I'm amazed at how much fun it is (even without fitting the Bluto yet! The 120mm option is on its way though). I also have a TransAm with a 140mm Pike which rocks, along with a Norco Range….but the ICT really has surprised me with the fun factor and extreme traction. Even my 82 year old Dad was impressed with it. Horses for courses to be sure, but my own 'experiment' with fatter tyres on a steel HT has proved to be way more fun than I thought it would…Don't think you have to grow a beard to try one out Cam (sorry Morg)!

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jitenshakun
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Jitensha Kun  - Dec. 21, 2015, 10:36 a.m.

A friend thought that if ever I were being held against my will my secret alarm sentence would be "Fatbking is fun.". The more you knock it, the harder you make it to enjoy another type of riding.

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zigak
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ZigaK  - Dec. 18, 2015, 5:12 a.m.

speaking of 27+ hardtails, how about that one:

it has a pinion gearbox, which is the big reason I'm thinking of buying it, what about the geometry? Does it check the nsmb boxes? For slow, technical riding, tight switchbacks.

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chantal-felten
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Chantal Felten  - Dec. 17, 2015, 4:03 p.m.

NZ …sunny, amazing trails, lift access if you want, more trails then you could possibly ride…swing by CWX 2016 and write the whole trip off as a business expense ?

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 17, 2015, 9:54 p.m.

I love the idea of heading to NZ Chantal, but it defeats the close and inexpensive to get to criteria. I'm talking about a four day getaway - rather than a couple of weeks. I'm going to get to NZ though! I already love it there and I've never been.

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chantal-felten
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Chantal Felten  - Dec. 17, 2015, 11:57 p.m.

Well…I just spend 2 weeks + riding in SoCal and man the drought has not been good to what used to be amazing trails when we last visited, so def don't put that on your list …..you can always watch the weather and go for a quick get away to Santa Cruz during perfect conditions…or as I will next week ..head out to Phoenix and Tucson…15'C no snow and trails with cacti views :)..and more importantly escape the whistler holiday mayhem

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reini-wagner
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Reini Wagner  - Dec. 17, 2015, 12:37 p.m.

Hey Cam,

I signed up to the 29er steel hardtail crowd last year. Best move I've made in years, so I can only recommend you to consider one as your next n+1 candidate!

But wait no longer for a 27+ compatible hardtail: the updated DMR trailstar might be just what the doc ordered for you.

Merry xmas by the way.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Dec. 17, 2015, 9:53 p.m.

Thanks Reini. I guess I'm waiting for ChroMag to make one! Merry Xmas to you as well!

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chris-brannin
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Chris Brannin  - Dec. 18, 2015, 1:47 p.m.

Canfield Bros carbon EPO?

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mark-karlstrand
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Mark Karlstrand  - Dec. 17, 2015, 11:13 a.m.

Modern steel hardtails are a blast but be careful old dudes. I built up and rode a Transition TransAm 29 last season and had a blast until I ripped a tendon in my ankle. No crashes, just hard charging trail riding mind you. I've been off the bike since Aug 1st and am still recovering from the surgery. I hate to blame that fun little bike but I wonder if 45 is too old for the abuse. Maybe it's just my old worn out body:P

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mikey
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Mikey  - Dec. 17, 2015, 9:45 a.m.

Agreed on the hard tail. Would love it if Cromag could come out with something similar to the BTR Ranger 29. Long, low and slack.

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craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 17, 2015, 11:18 a.m.

I believe they have something cooking.

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craw
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Cr4w  - Dec. 17, 2015, 9:11 a.m.

I've flip flopped on the hardtail desire for years but I think this time I'm actually going to do it.

Reply

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