| Check mon rack!...

Since we need to keep enough space inside the van to sleep i finally assembled the North Shore Racks NSR-2 which arrived 2 weeks ago. It wasn't that easy (make sure to read the assembly note thoroughly), especially the hitch part but it is now ready for our trip and works perfectly with the ICT.
I'm glad that i mounted the rack on the middle holes of the hitch bar and not the most forward ones as indicated, a van has a very straight rear body and the Surly has larger tires than regular mountain bikes, so it needs more clearance. This rack is awesome and very solid... meaning very heavy too. The ergonomics is really well thought out, very simple and easy to use, the only detail that you may want to improve is the middle pin, it needs to be covered in order to protect your bottom-bracket paint. Usually the mountain bike's BB are narrower but the fat bike ones come very close to the main tube and may touch the pin. The rest works like a charm, not surprising that NSR has such a good reputation (great service too). Note that it's also made in B.CCanada ;-)
simple design, efficient and functional!
P.S: We have recently started a fat bike Quebec G+ group so please come join us!

| Auvent en emporte le temps...

Le van est maintenant equipe d'un auvent lateral tout neuf et ca va nous etre fortement utile pendant les prochaines vacances... dans les Keys (Florida)! c'est un peu le chaos en ce moment entre l'image que je dois finir pour le prochain bouquin Nuthin but Mech 3 et les preparatifs du road-trip. J'ai 2 milliards de trucs a faire et si peu de temps, je sens que nous allons partir avec un manque de sommeil evident.
L'equipe de New-West a ete encore une fois formidable pour mettre en place cet auvent (de type ShadyBoy) rapidement mais surtout pour changer notre batterie auxiliaire reliee au panneau solaire, l'originale vient de rendre l'ame et c'etait un peu difficile d'envisager partir en camping sans electricite. Almost ready!

| Ice Cream Truck...

Yesterday we drove back to Burlington to get my bike. Harris at Old Spokes had just finished working on a few modifications i asked for and it was worth the wait :) The now 1x10 drivetrain has been improved with a sturdy Race Face Turbine crankset and a new single chainring narrow/wide 30T. We added some 45NRTH pedals and the tires are now mounted tubeless. I'm pretty excited about this setup and i'll write a review of the bike soon enough. Thank you guys for the business and outstanding service!
simple is better!
We then parked in downtown for some food and sightseeing, it was humid and cold (reminded me of UK's horrible winter) but it is a pretty little town and we'll certainly come back in summer to visit more of the lake and the surroundings... and of course to get some of the renowned local (and real) ice creams.
Except for a little incident before leaving (hmm yes i may have locked ourselves out of the van, thanks CAA for saving us), it was a fun day and there is a new shiny member in my sport quiver!

| Marde blanche...

Et c'est reparti... ca fait 2 jours qu'il neige non-stop et ce n'est pas fini. Ca nous a pris une heure pour deneiger le camion hier soir, juste pour changer de trottoir! je ne suis pas du tout dans le trip hiver encore et c'est plutot rare a cette periode de l'annee ou mon esprit est souvent omnibule par le snowskate. J'ai hate d'aller chercher mon fat-bike ce WE et de partir au soleil pour Noel.
Les chats s'amusent bien et grandissent super vite, Banh Mi connait ses 1eres chaleurs et de fait se frotte partout, on attend que ca passe et apres hop c'est l'operation! Quant a sa Majeste Dim Sum le petit Prince, il commence a avoir (enfin) un peu plus de poils sur le dos et parle tout le temps. Bon, au moins il vient se blottir contre nous a la moindre occasion et reste tres calin, c'est cute!
le Prince Relou!

| Old spokes, new wheels...

Yesterday Yan and i drove to Burlington, VT, the customs were packed and it took a bit more than 2 boring hours to cross the border. It's funny how the service is always very bad along the lines, take for instance any other professional fields and imagine the same level of motivation, efficiency and courtesy as most custom officers provide. How would it work for restaurants, shops or administrations? simple... it wouldn't, employees would all be fired on their very 1st day!
Anyways, we eventually reached our destination: Old Spokes a nice little local bike shop i've contacted a few days ago for a test ride. They do have an amazing selection of fat bikes for such a small place with Surly, Salsa, Borealis and 9:Zero:7. After relentlessly searching for information about "fatties" I've narrowed it down to 2 similar mid-range models which seem to offer the best bangs for the bucks, the 2015 Ice Cream Truck and Mukluk 2.
Great service and charming shop, check Harris' customized ICT
so here are the 2 beautiful models we tested!
we took the bikes for a ride around the block, going through the cemetery and we had a blast rolling through the blocks of ice and snow, going up and down the hill and smiling like kids on acid! nothing but yourself can stop these beasts.
On paper i gave the Mukluk an advantage for it has a suspended Bluto fork and appears to be lighter, both bikes are made by some of the most dedicated companies in this field, they have very good reviews, as well as comparable basic equipment/parts. The best solution is to try them and see which one fits the best right? 
Yes indeed and now i know that the trail-oriented geometry of the ICT has definitely a more familiar vibe, i like downhill/dirt jumping and on top of that it confirmed my slight preference for steel frames VS Aluminium. If you feel concerned by the weight of those excellent products, don't be, they ride well, are easy to maneuver and feel surprisingly agile. 
there is a bike museum upstairs too with unbelievable showpieces... it's really worth it!
Before heading back to Canada, we stopped at the Our House Bistro to enjoy some Mac 'n Cheese specialties (they have a lot of choice actually). Yan insisted on buying some fuel at the Beverage Warehouse after what we left with some rare beers and Vermont ciders, what a great day!
oOohh... did i say we are going back soon to pick up some Ice Cream, glitter blue flavor if possible ;-)

| Winter and "fat bikes"...

So now i have to accept it, winter is here and it's getting really cold! fortunately we've changed the tires of the van the week before the 1st snowfall and i didn't miss the opening at St-Bruno despite being completely sick (which explains the donuts for moral support and my zombie face).
Yesterday I had the chance to try Sylvain's fat bikes, this is something i was eager to test for a while and it was the perfect day in Beauharnois to do so. We took a ride on the banks of the river where there is enough snow to give me a good impression of the "fat" experience. Honestly the 1st time i saw one of this bike, it didn't seem to be legit, i thought it would be another expensive gadget for a very niche activity. Two years later, the trend is on fire, big companies are starting to join the bandwagon and they are not one-season bikes anymore, you can actually use them as your primary vehicle, especially in cold countries like Canada.
I had to try because it could potentially replace our 2 folders which sleep all winter long in our living room, it'd be the perfect bike to bring on camping trips because it works on any terrains; sand, mud, snow, rocks and of course flat clean urban trails. Sylvain took his Surly Moonlander and i rode his GF's KHS 1000 (entry-level bike), the temperature was averaging -8°C, sunny and windy.
Just looking at the size of the tires makes you laugh, you would expect them to be very heavy but in fact the bikes are surprisingly light, they handle well, of course they are not as nimble as a regular mountain bike but it is as close as you can be considering the volume of the wheels.
Simply put, it's a BLAST!!! it's fun and makes the simplest trail look like an adventure, the tires can swallow every chunk of obstacles you throw at them, just look at the field of rocks below and it gives you a good idea... i need one.
the ultimate adventure bikes have fun anywhere!!!
thanks for the ride!

| Riviere St-Charles, Trip #01

Not long ago we went to the whitewater park on the St-Charles river in Valleyfield. It's a surprising place, stucked between 2 old factory/brick buildings with a post-apocalyptic and peaceful atmosphere. The water comes from the lake above and is really well regulated, it is maintained by a local kayak organization that i encourage to support > the CEEVV. The place is beautiful, it feels very intimate and has safe crystal clear waters, despite being small it has a lot of gates, strong streams and challenging obstacles, enough for us SUP-WW noobs. Here is a little edit of that last session, watch it in HD, enjoy!
J'ai trop hate d'y retourner l'ete prochain, surtout dans les zones plus difficiles :) c'etait egalement l'occasion de publier cette video pour l'ouverture de la page Facebook SUPWWQC/SUPEVQC dont le but est de rassembler/partager toutes les informations possibles a propos de la planche-a-pagaie en eaux-vives au Quebec.

| SUP Lachine Rapids, Trip #01

One of the rare leisure days i have enjoyed this summer, easy whitewater SUP with my friend Herve. We went to a small island with lots of birds, located in the lower part of the Lachine Rapids in Verdun. It's safe with small waves and a slow stream, a great place to practice and improve your moves. This is also the day i discovered my allergic reaction to poison ivy.

Music Copyright - Explosions In The Sky: Trembling Hands.

| Parc de la Mauricie...

We are back from an amazing WE of camping at the lake Wapizagonke in La Mauricie National Park.
Not too far from Montreal the park is easily accessible for a short stay and we were lucky to find  a spot at the last minute during this busy weekend. I've heard a lot of good things about it we needed some fresh air.
underwater weirdness...
I really want to go back and see more of the hidden places in this beautiful park!

| Poison Ivy/Herbe a Puce...

This is the kind of high grass area that we have to go through when going down to the water in Verdun, it's fun and exciting (reminds me of my childhood adventures). Unfortunately i recently discovered something less amusing, i am really allergic to Poison Ivy/Herbe a puce (Toxicondendron radicans) and it sucks!!

It's been already 2 weeks and it itches a lot still, the rash is very strong and my wounds are evolving every day with many blisters appearing, you can really see the points of contact with the plant, it's disgusting. I bought a cream with Colloidal Oatmeal/Avoine colloidale (Aveeno or equivalent) and it helps a lot, but it never last long enough :-(
So it's definitely a painful lesson, Nature is tough, we'll be more careful next time.

| Ultimate SUP clinics video...

Here is a little edit of the SUP weekend in Ottawa, i bought a new GoPro hero 3+ to keep some footage but as usual i forgot to use it on a constant basis, at least i did get some moments from the 1st clinic. But then the mount sticker got loose so i couldn't film during the Introduction to River Surfing class, this is due to the pad texture on the Starboard Stream, next time i'll get a proper surf mount.
In fact i realize now i had an helmet's mount :-) 

| Ultimate SUP clinics...

I just came back from an incrediblemazing trip to Ottawa's awesome river. The Canada's first Ultimate SUP Challenge is happening this WE hosted by Owl Rafting with some of the best whitewater stand up paddlers on the planet. I left work around 6:00 pm yesterday and drove straight to the camp (which is amazing btw) hoping to enjoy a good night of sleep before what should be a busy day in the water.
nice fire pit at the camp and the van with the roof extended...
Unfortunately that night was really cold (~12ºC) and i wasn't prepared at all so it was pretty miserable to be honest, at least it was great to stay in the van with an open roof for the 1st time since i bought it. The breakfast was filling enough and the view on the river is absolutely breathtaking.
Although the staff didn't really know what was really happening on the SUP side (they are specialized in rafting) and i apparently missed an email from the organizers with all the useful instructions so i ended up following the instructors on their way to the Pushbutton rapids and arrived on site way early, the class i subscribed to would normally start at 11:00 am but the overall schedule slipped out a bit. There is no way i could miss the two clinics offered today, best excuse for a well deserved day-off :)
behind me is Johno Fosters, Starboard rep, ready to surf...
Jonah, Badfish rep enjoying the class...
Dan Gavere is probably the most recognizable name in white water SUP today and he was giving the Introduction to whitewater class. Arriving early was a good opportunity to see the 1st group jumping in the closest (intimidating) eddy and starting to experience the trouble of navigating through chaotic currents, raging foam, rocks and big waves. It's always impressive to see pros at work (true for all sports and domains) because everything they do seem so easy and natural compare to us, mere mortals!
We've learned the foundations of paddling in a river, and how to make efficient use of bow draw strokes, ferry across the stream and do eddy turns in and out. It was great to try, fall, fall again and eventually manage to play in the current, everything that seem impossible or too scary at first became progressively more accessible.  We all enjoyed the class, Dan gave us plenty of information without excess so we could focus on applying the basic techniques step-by-step, and he doesn't care about the clock, what a great job. In the end we were all smiles but also dead tired.
Now it's all about training and the Lachine rapids will be a good playground where i can repeat those fundamentals and get back into shape.
John from Distressed Mullet...
exhausted crew...
The following clinic was about to start as they were waiting for me to catch my breath. I had 5mn to drink a little, eat a cereal bar and realize that i have to go back in the water without any strength left.
Mike T rides for Badfish, he is an amazing SUP surfer who travel the continent with his dog in a large RV and a trailer full of boards. He gave the Introduction to river surfing class, seriously i was completely toasted at this point, but the excitement took over.
Another great moment of learning and practising new techniques, we've all tried hard to surf the Pushbutton wave but it was too small to stay on it (although Mike and Dan did it). I could use the bow draw efficiently to get on the wave many times which felt good, the girls on our team did really well, they seemed to enjoy the class tremendously.
I wish i had the energy to try the big wave on a River Surfer 8' board but my body just shut down, too tired to survive the crazy wave train behind so i choked. And you know, walking over the aggressive slippery rocks with all your equipment and a wet board is enough to make you think twice about the priorities ^_^
Returning home was very loOong and boring, especially after such a beautiful and exhausting day, this trip was totally worth it and i can't wait to meet these guys again, everyone was so helpful and friendly. It's difficult to explain how much i've learned and appreciated the exchange of information and knowledge with all these people, it's a great community and a fantastic sport!
Thank you Harmony, Dan, the staff and all the volunteers for the organization of this amazing event.

| Tikit au revoir!..

I finally decided to sell the Tikit to a colleague, it was sad to let it go but i wasn't using it since the arrival of the SilkSebastien is now the happy owner of this remarkable Bike Friday and i wish him the best. Have fun my friend :)
A tall guy with a large smile on a small bike...

| SUP rack...

Finally i found some time this afternoon to install a pair of Seattle Sports storage cradles that I bought a few weeks ago at MEC. They will be very useful to keep the inflatable out of reach from the cats, they were starting to enjoy scratching the foam too much. The main advantage is that i could now keep the boards inflated until they absolutely need to be rolled in for a trip. The good thing is that hey are not too expensive, feel solid and are pretty straightforward to install (the cradles come in a box with a simple assembly instruction form and some hardware.
bye bye cat claws!!!
In the meantime, i have put my beloved Sub Vector up for sale. That said, 3 boards are too much in such a small apartment and we only want to keep the inflatable ones. It has a lot of minor scratches due to life on a river but overall it is in really good shape. (update SOLD!)
thanks for the great time Sub Vector!

| Astro Stream...

En attendant un test plus serieux, voici une preview de mon nouveau SUP gonflable Starboard Astro Stream, je l'ai achete en Janvier dernier mais je n'ai pas eu l'occasion de l'essayer avant. C'est vraiment un bel ensemble, de grande qualite, avec tout ce qu'il faut pour s'amuser...  et qui vient dans un sac relativement compact.
cat approved!
Suite au gonflage qui m'a bien essoufle (~10mn), j'ai pris la board et je suis alle l'essayer dans le fleuve juste a cote. J'ai pris le pari de ne pas emmener mon drysuit, il faisait presque 30°C a l'exterieur et l'eau est encore un peu froide, mais apres quelques manoeuvres et un equilibre encore un peu douteux, je n'ai pas eu d'autre choix que d'y gouter :) 
Evidemment c'est un SUP de riviere, specifiquement concu par Dan Gavere pour descendre les rapides, et avec ses 3 micro-ailerons, elle n'est pas tres efficace pour la ballade en eau calme mais ce fut, malgre tout, une belle apres-midi avec une planche qui promet de belles aventures!
ben oui mais elle track mal sur des eaux calmes!