19 March 2020

Let's make a Burton DIY Throwback snowboard

To spice things up a bit his winter, rather than, you know,  just go out snowbiking or just go out cross-country skiing in the woods above my neighborhood, I determined to try to find a few other fun things to do when I'm out in the snow, 'cause, well, I'm 53 now, and I really do need to find new ways to hurt myself.

Mounting a Cooziecage™ to the downtube of my Pugsley made beer-drinking in the winterwoods possible and, so, that was a great and rewarding first-effort in this regard.

Then I did some, well I guess you could call them, multisport-snowbike-to-xc-ski excursions up Schultz Creek, which were a hoot.  Probably got the first-ever ski descent of Kentucky Waterfall in the process, too.

Snurfer Nomad, snecret snurfhill
Around that same time, my buddy Lyle told me about some of his adventures lightweight/low-angle backcountry skiing in the San Juan’s carrying a bindingless snowboard called a Burton Throwback (an homage to one of Jake's original snowboards from the 1980s, the Burton Backhill) on his back. He was super stoked on how bringing the snowboard along on his tours made it possible for him to have serious fun carving big graceful turns on wide-open backcountry slopes.  He suggested that I get a board of my own and attempt to use my touring skis, or even my fatbike, as an approach vehicle to do the same thing on some of the more open north facing slopes in the Dry Lake Hills area.

To test this idea on the cheap, I bought an inexpensive but nonetheless quite clever little snowtool called a Snurfer Nomad from the Vermont manufacturer who's been making them in the USA since 1965.  Because it doesn’t have any bindings or metal edges, it’s super lightweight, so it was easy to mount on to the rear rack of my Surly Pugsley or to carry lashed to the old Craterpacks backpack I use when I go lightweight ski-touring in the hills north of town.  Only everso-slightly safer than sledding, but nonetheless gloriously stupid and also terrifyingly fun, turns out snurfing is a rad, additive wintertime diversion from the typical just a snowbike ride or just a xc-ski tour adventure, precisely as Lyle said it would be.

I had some good fun a few times riding on my Snurfer Nomad solo early this winter.  But then, midseason, I got to watch another one of my friends shred my snuper snecret snurfhill on his kid's Burton Throwback.

DIY Throwback unboxed
Up close and in person, it was easy to see that the Throwback was wider and longer and heavier than my Snurfer, a big-boy's version of the Nomad if you will, and it had a full p-tex base. As far as I was concerned, it was from a different planet, and it enabled him to easily ride faster and farther, and make better looking turns, every time, way better than my best-ever run on the Nomad.

So I started looking around for a cheap used Throwback on eBay, but it would appear that such a thing doesn't really exist.  Then I looked at some of our local used sporting goods and thrift stores for a decent used snowboard that I could remove the bindings from and improvise into an ersatz backcountry snurfboard.  But all I could find around town was garbage, all of it thrashed from years of abuse or neglect, and often both.  For about 10 minutes I even searched online for a legit vintage Burton Backhill, but they must be very highly sought after.  Every single one I saw for sale cost as much as a used car.

It was about then that I stumbled upon Burton's DIY Throwback kit, which, it turns out, sells for something like 30% less than the Snurfer Nomad.  The DIY Throwback comes as a rockered-on-one-end rectangular plank of unpainted laminated wood with a p-tex base.  Not really a kit, I guess, but nonetheless very DIY.  There are no templates, no plans, no instructions with the DIY Throwback.  It's just a gorgeous naturally-grained plank of wood, a couple sticky-backed footpads, a long rope, a wooden handle, and thou.

DIY Throwback ready to ride
Given the freeform, unguided nature of the project, before I ever put a saw to it, I spent quite a lot of time staring at the naked plank, trying to envision the shape I hoped to render upon it. Even after this great and prolonged period of introspection and planning, I can still spot a few small mistakes I made during my project's three-hour execution (does not include contemplation time).

In the end, I can tell you this: Burton is definitely using some sort of rock-hard ballistic epoxy when they're laying up the laminate for this board.  I went through the teeth of four different jigsaw blades while trimming the nose and tail on to the beautiful bombproof blank plank Burton sent me.

After using my hand jigsaw (and a carefully rendered long paper template to make sure the two halves mostly matched left-and-right) to cut out the rough shape of the board, I finished all the edges and curves with a handheld belt-sander and then I used a router with a small round-off bit on the top-sheet to make all the things very nice and smoothish and purdy. I think the finished product looks nice.

I’m not a very handy guy when it comes to building things, but now that all has been said and done and test-ridden, I'm rather proud of this project. And, I think my Burton DIY Throwback snowboard rides pretty darn well, too.

09 November 2019

Let's make a Cooziecage™

Click images to embiggen
For about a year now, a few friends and I have been beta-testing several different iterations of the Cooziecage™, an on-bike beer-transport system that I'm pretty sure I invented.  

Based on our extensive research, I can report: so far, so good. We have enjoyed many a lovely bevvie together whilst sitting atop big rocks, blown-down trees, in grassy meadows, and on snow-covered stumps way out in the woods.   Turns out, this is a thing almost everyone likes to do.  

I sincerely hope the totally free, public domain, how-to-make-a-Cooziecage instructions below make this crazy world we live in a slightly better place, one bike ride and one beer at a time.


Thanks, Cooziecage
I like beer!  Do you like beer?  I think bikes and beers go well together.

If you do too, you should make a Cooziecage™ to take a beer with you on your next ride! Why wait until your ride is over to enjoy a lovely beverage? With a Cooziecage™ attached to your bike you'll be able to conveniently crack open one of your favorite brewskis the next time you get to the top of your route.  Just imagine how refreshing that will be!

DISCLAIMER: If you choose to use a Cooziecage™ to drink-and-ride, please do so responsibly.

What you'll need:


  • approximately 5-10 minutes
  • One (1) plastic Cateye BC100 bottlecage. NOTE: Cateye BC100 cages are no longer being manufactured, so if you don't have an old one in your parts stash, you can always find them on eBay. WARNING: Other models/brands of vintage plastic bottlecages may fail to optimally retain beer at-speed and should be used only at your own risk
  • One (1) neoprene coozie of your choice
  • A couple (2) washers
  • Two (2) small rivets
  • One (1) beer of your choice
  • A drill
  • A Sharpie pen
  • A hole-punch
  • A small sharp pokey thing

Step 1:

Put the coozie in the cage and mark the bolt holes.

Step 2:

Use the hole punch to open the neoprene enough that you can get a bolt through each hole.  You need not remove the entire punch.

Step 3:
Put the coozie into the cage along with the washers and the bolts and install on the seat-tube of your bike. Don't forget to regrease your threads!

Step 4:
With your drill and a small bit, make two holes, one on each side of the cage, near the corners of the top rim.  The hole should be just big enough to allow your un-popped rivet to fit through snugly.

Step 5:
Stick your sharp pokey thing through each hole and then through the neoprene.

Step 6:
Install a small rivet through each hole in the neoprene and the cage so the flat side of the rivet faces in and pop it permanently into place with your gun.

Step 7:
Insert one (1) standard 12-ounce beer of your choice into your brand-new, hand-made Cooziecage™ and go ride and drink a beer! WARNING: Your beer may very likely be a little bit to quite a lot or even very very shook-up when you open it, depending on what sort of ride you've taken it on.  Be advised!  Similarly, if you've been riding in muddy or dusty conditions, you may find that your beer is covered in such materials, flotsam, jetsam, and the like, as you've encountered during your ride.  Some Cooziecage™ users prefer to all their beer to self-clean if this is the case, by opening it quickly and blowing off the ensuing head.  Others choose to initially insert the beer upside-down for transport, thereby keeping the top cleaner by shielding it within the Cooziecage™ itself.  Up to you. There's no wrong way to use your new Cooziecage™.  The point is to use it.

Step 8:
When you're done, don't crush your empty can!  Simply reinsert it into your Cooziecage™, haul it out and recycle it at home.

Cooziecage™ Stats:
As-built weight: about 42 grams
Weight when loaded with one (1) standard 12-ounce can of lager-type beer: about 382 grams
Weight when loaded with one (1) standard empty aluminum can: about 56 grams

*Please note: The Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license applies to these instructions.

07 August 2019

past summer

This past summer was filled with good music, good rides, good books, good dogs, and, most especially, a whole bunch of really, really good people.

03 May 2019

adiós buen invierno

A winter Eden...
...lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead
- Robert Frost