Hello summer! Nice to finally meet you.
Without a doubt, June is my favourite month of the cycling season. By this point we've moved past the disappointment of spring rains and the temperatures have begun to settle into an ideal range for longer rides. True, September and October tend to have similar temperatures, but I prefer June because there is an extra sense of optimism. Riding in June means you still have the whole summer ahead of you and big events loom on the horizon. This past June was no different.
On The Road
The theme for riding in June is sunrises. There is this perfect two or three week period when all our rides have an almost perfectly timed sunrise. On one of my favourite weekday rides, the 4F, that sun greets us as we crest a hill to pass beneath a train bridge. It just comes at the right time for me to suspect that mother nature makes for one heck of a photo opp and riding around with the GoPro set to 4K video means I'm always ready for it. Image quality may not be nearly as good as a dedicated camera but you sure can't beat the convenience.
Saturday rides have now hit the century mark - well at least the metric century. Our Saturday route for June had us heading north out of Toronto and headed up towards Lake Simcoe. In the early morning hours the roads are quiet and the winds are relatively calm - making it ideal for getting in extended miles. By the time we get out in the countryside the legs are warmed up and ready to tackle the undulating rollers south of the lake. And those rollers are exactly what I need to be doing to prep for the Northern Pass because that route is ~160kms or straight up rollers. For a guy like me who is better at long sustained steady efforts, it's gonna hurt real bad.
Speaking of the Northern Pass. The month ended with a route recon to check out some route options, road conditions, and to shoot some promo photos for the upcoming event. Mike and I met up in cottage country to do a relatively short pass (~70km) along the west side of the route. There's still some road sand left over from the winter maintenance but a few more heavy rains should help clear things up. So I'm really happy with how things are looking and I can't wait to be riding my favourite back country roads with friends. Keep an eye out on the Norther Pass Instagram feed for the promo shots and for the announcement of a contest we are doing together.
With all that said, the highlight of the month had to be the annual fathers day hall pass. It's a bit of a running joke but for a few of us who don't get to ride together very often, Father's day grants us a hall pass to get out for some worry free riding. Each year this little ride grows with more and more friends getting added to the mix. This year we had Seetoh and Brian join us but I think the biggest impact and suffering was felt courtesy of Noah from VeloColour. Just when I felt like my legs were holding strong, Noah and Andre decided to serve up a fat slice of humble pie. In the video you can see what it's like to experience the VeloColour drop. Without warning Noah and Andre team up to attack up the overpass. You can see them just absolute catch me flat footed and even Seetoh has to just accept what's happened. What you don't see is how they eased up down the road and let the rest of us catch up and hang back on. If there was any doubt to whether the Bikes On Wheels rides are cranking out some strong riders, I hope this video settles that debate.
Behind The Camera
Aside from the recon photos, June was also a busy month for photo work. My favourite project of the month was unexpected and last minute but I'm glad it all came together. If you read my behind the scenes report on how I shot the No. 22 kit promo you'll know what I'm talking about. I got a call from No. 22 to help them with promotional images both in the studio and on the road to help with their pre-sale orders. These more complex projects are a lot of fun because they require delivering two very separate types of shoots as one larger deliverable. And both parts need to work together as a seamless and complimentary image set.
The No. 22 project wasn't without it's surprises though. Good surprises! One of the guys in the outdoor shoot is also a long time friend, Andre. I've known Andre for nearly a decade and we first met through rock climbing. We climbed at the same gym and I've shot Andre while he was competing in the Tour De Bloc indoor bouldering series. It's very cool to have the opportunity to shoot Andre again. Then there was also Dave, the guy in the purple jersey. Dave bought a set of wheels off me a couple years ago but we never met. It's a long story how that worked but Dave's still got the ENVE rims on Tune hubs and he's killing it. Nice to finally meet him and see the wheels are in good hands. If you look close in the images from the shoot, you can see the wheels. I miss 'em.
To be honest I didn't really think much was going on with gear last month. My focus was really on getting training miles into the legs. But when I sat down and started listing it out, much more was on the go.
Almost two years ago I did a review of the Fabric Scoop Shallow saddle. At the time my general impression was that I really liked the saddle shape and design but the shell was a bit too flexible for me so I had always been curious about their chart toping 3D printed ALM version. I recently acquired one and began testing it out. The design is beautiful and it's definitely a lot firmer. Unfortunately my testing was cut short by my own crappy install. I didn't set it right and had to ride 70km with it too far back and with my sit bones not properly aligned. It nearly broke my butt. My initial impression (before the fit issues crept in) was that this is a really unique saddle but I swapped it back out. I'm going to wait until after the big ride of the summer before I put it back on.
On foot I'm breaking in a pair of the Quoc Pham leather Night road shoes. They are a classic lace up styled road shoe with a modern carbon sole. Testing is going slower than I'd like because I like to really ease myself into longer rides when it comes to things like shoes. Also a full grain leather shoe always takes some time and proper wear to break them in and have them form to your foot. The laces are also throwing me for a bit of a loop so there has been a learning curve to getting them set just right.
Up top I've been out riding in the Team Dream FS jersey - finally. The FS is their new lightweight super race cut jersey made by Endo Customs. It's a lot more trim and tucked than the updated standard jersey from ENDO and there's no shame in saying I had to drop a few pounds before I could fit in it. I have to say though, it's kind of awesome though. It feels like a second skin and very comfortable it hot temps. I know I'll be grabbing for it when the humid summer heatwaves start up. Keep an eye out for a review (and more TDBT stuff) coming soon.
Lastly, I got a chance to throw a leg over a new ride. For that Northern Pass recon ride, Jesse from Blacksmith was gracious enough to lend me his Vnyl cross bike. Maybe a 1x on fat knobby tubes isn't the best choice for chasing someone around steep climbs but I don't care. The bike was a lot of fun to ride. The SRAM hydro disc brakes stop on a dime making fast descents into tight corners a lot less stressful. And aluminum has come a long way in terms of comfort! Thinking I may need to get myself a disc brake gravel ride. N+1!