Mountain Bike Buying Guide

Going off-road cycling can be a bit intimidating when you’re used to smooth paved roads, but mountain biking is popular in nature because its unpredictability. It is an exhilarating extreme sport that is characterized by high speeds, high risks and challenging terrain. It’s where adventure-seekers enjoy testing their limits both physically and mentally as they navigate over rocks, climb over bumpy and uneven hills and descend down mountainous areas that nature puts before them.

If you’re considering taking the sport up, rest assured mountain bikes can handle rugged conditions and can be ridden virtually anywhere. Because of the variety of choices in mountain bikes, it’s important to know what kind of terrain you’ll likely be facing to choose the right bike for you. You should also set a budget, know the basic components that make it work and do a little research into the performance and durability before you set out on your off-roading adventure.

Which Mountain Bike is Best?

History of Mountain Biking
While the first known “off-road” cycling took place just before the 1900s when Buffalo Soldiers rode modified bikes to see how it would fair in mountainous terrain from Missoula, Montana to Yellowstone and back, mountain biking gained traction in the 1970s when a new bike that had fatter tires, rapid-shift gears, drum brakes and ground-breaking suspension was created. The sport took off in California and quickly made its way across the country and around the world.
Today, it’s a widely popular sport that has a number of trails catered to it. Most are built in an upright position to allow riders better navigation, have some kind of suspension and heavy-duty wheels and larger, knobby tires to handle rough and bumpy terrains. They also tend to have more powerful brakes and have multiple speeds to facilitate easy uphill climb or rapid descent.

Types of Mountain bikes
With so many bikes to choose from, the choice can be daunting. Here are a few of the most common ones to consider.

Cross Country (XC) Mountain Bikes
Cross Country bikes are the most common type of mountain bike. They are versatile and light and are usually ridden on courses and trails that consist of a mix of rough forest paths. Most also offer a choice between hardtail and full suspension.

The hardtail mountain bike has suspension only in the front fork and is designed for racing or recreational riding. Without shocks in the back, the bike transfers pedaling power to the rear wheel more efficiently and can result in better acceleration and make it easier to sustain higher speeds over a long period time, especially on smoother terrain. It’s also less expensive than the alternative.

Full suspension mountain bikes have shocks in both the front and the back and are arguably more comfortable and enjoyable. It also offers more bike control when the terrain is more rough and uneven.

All Mountain Bikes
All mountain bikes are similar to cross country bikes, but are about 25 to 35 pounds heavier. They’re meant to be ridden uphill and downhill, but have more suspension in the front and back to handle more difficult obstacles.

Down Hill (DH) Mountain Bikes
Just as the name describes, this mountain bike is used to go downhill and quickly. They’re heavy and usually hauled to a high elevation point to make the descend. Rarely would you ever climb in this bike.

Freeride Mountain Bikes
These bikes are built for jumping and technical stunts and are lighter and easier to maneuver than down hill bikes. They’re usually ridden on steep mountains with drops, cliffs, rocks and other difficult terrain.

Single Speed Mountain Bikes
Single speed mountain bikes have only one gear and are designed for more skilled and fit riders. They can be more cost efficient, are lower in maintenance and are lighter and quieter than other mountain bikes.

Dirt Jump (DJ) Mountain Bikes
These bikes are smaller and more maneuverable so they can be ridden over mounds of dirt or soil to become airborne. They’re also built with sturdier material such as steel to handle crashes and bails when riders do tricks and stunts.

Setting a budget

With so many bikes to choose from, setting a budget is paramount to narrow your search. Prices vary so much that staying within your price range will help you focus on what you want and what you can afford.

Do your research

Product reviews can help you narrow your search even further to bikes that perform well and are reliable. Once you have a few bikes in the price range you want, look up the product and make sure it’s suitable for your needs. If you’re unsure, seek professional advice as well.

Gear and equipment

When it comes to the extreme sport, it’s crucial to practice safety first. At the bare minimum, purchase a helmet that will protect you against impact should you take a spill. A hard-shell helmet is probably the most suitable for mountain biking. They are made of thick, high-density plastic and lined with foam. The outer shell protects your head from penetrating objects like tree branches. Gloves will also help protect your hands from cuts and scrapes. Try getting gloves with thick padding that can absorb impact.

Killing Weeds in Your Garden

So you’ve spent hours and hours planning your beautiful lawn and weeks working hard to execute your vision – now you have your gorgeous, landscaped yard on your beautiful home, exactly like you envisioned. How will you protect your precious lawn from the ever-present, ever-annoying problem of weeds that will overtake your lawn quickly if you don’t know how to prevent and control it?

Many of us are very limited in our knowledge of garden weed removal options aside from the usual store-bought chemicals, which is why we here at Kijiji have assembled a quick list of safe and natural effective garden weed removers to help keep your lawn (and by extension, the house that just so happens to be attached to it) looking its best.

Banish the Weeds in Your Garden!

Vodka

We usually don’t think of liquor as a gardening tool, but did you know that by mixing 1 ounce of vodka with a few drops of liquid dish soap and 2 cups of water, you can create your own DIY weed killing substance? Quick tip: Try spraying the solution on a small concentrated area of weeds first to see how much of the weeds are killed; you can adjust the ratio of water to vodka according to your lawn’s needs.

Vinegar

This common kitchen staple found in most homes, doubles as a great weed remover as well. Vinegar works really well because its natural acidity kills the plant part of the weed while also decreasing the pH level of the soil, diminishing the conditions for the weeds to grow back. It’s important to keep in mind that vinegar can kill regular plants as well, so be very careful with where you spray your vinegar solution!

Mulch

Mulch is essentially a layer of material that’s put on your soil’s surface to smother weed seeds before they become full grown garden weed plants. Mulch can consist of a combination of shredded bark, bark chips, compost, and coconut husks, to just name a few possibilities. This weed prevention option not only works well but also elevates your yard’s look for a more professional gardener feel.

Boiling Water

It probably isn’t anyone’s first thought, but did you know dousing weeds with a pot of boiling water can kill your garden’s pesky weeds? It’s as easy as it sounds – put on the kettle, pour the scalding water over the weeds and watch them wither away, just like that!

Rock Salt

Another natural and probably common weed remover you’ll find easily at home- rock salt is a very effective killer of weeds, however, this option should be used with the understanding it should be used sparingly because the area it’s used on will essentially become infertile. This option works best in areas of your lawn where you aren’t planning on growing anything else.

Do you know what it takes to properly care for a pet rabbit?

Rabbits are cute and cuddly and make great pets! If you’re thinking of making a family decision to adopt or purchase a pet rabbit, it’s important to know how to properly care for one first.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly is involved in caring for these adorable little creatures!

What is the best way to handle my rabbit?

When picking up your rabbit, support their forequarters with one hand and their hindquarters with the other. This method of handling your pet is the safest for them and will prevent any injury to the rabbit.

You want your rabbit looking their best, so brush him or her regularly with a soft brush. Brushing your pet on a consistent basis will keep his coat nice and shiny and healthy.

You’ll also want to make sure you keep up with clipping your pet’s nails. Consult your veterinarian for tips on doing this safely and effectively.

What do I feed a rabbit?

The key ingredient in any rabbit’s diet is fresh hay and this should be readily available for them to chomp on at all times. If your rabbit is younger, they need alfalfa included in their diets.  As they grow older, you can switch the alfalfa up and feed them timothy, grass and oat hays instead since they no longer need to higher protein and sugar content found in alfalfa.

Include pellets and fresh vegetables, such as celery, broccoli leaves and basil in your rabbit’s diet as well. You can switch up the vegetables every other day too! Who doesn’t like a little variety?

Where should my rabbit live?

Rabbits may be small, but they require a lot of room for housing and exercise. If they are kept in a cage, be sure the cage has enough room to allow them to move around freely and easily. Make sure the cage is located indoors. Rabbits are like any other animal and like a cozy area to call their own. To make their habits as comfy as possible, put down plenty of straw, hay or wood shavings – and make sure to change it regularly!

It’s also a good idea to set up a dog exercise pen to put your rabbit in for several hours a day so they can get the exercise they need. Make sure the pen is high enough to keep a rabbit safely inside – especially if they are a jumper! Keep your eye on them when they are in this area so they don’t get into any trouble!

How often do I need to clean my rabbit’s habitat?

Rabbit’s can be messy! You’ll need to be prepared to give your pet’s cage and play areas a thorough cleaning at least once a week. This includes changing out all bedding, shavings and hay and giving the cage a complete wipe down.

We hope these tips will help you be the best possible rabbit owner you can be!

Want more rabbit care tips? Watch our YouTube video with Dave Wilson, Director of Shelter Health & Wellness on litter training your pet rabbit.

Categories:Guest Post, Kijiji Pets

Local Heroes Inside Story: The Art Of Aquaponics

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen our share of incredible stories through the new Local Heroes blog. From DIY houses to acts of compassion, we’ve received over 325 user stories!

In this week’s LH Inside Story, we head to Calgary, AB where our newest Local Hero is a bright, enthusiastic Environmental Sciences graduate named Kelsey Morin. A few years ago, Kelsey began researching the art of aquaponics; a living food farm ecosystem that combines the fields of aquaculture (or fish farming) and hydroponics (a method of growing plants through water-based nutrient systems). Aquaponics works by raising fish to provide fertilizer for plants and vegetables through a closed-loop system. Aquaponics is increasingly being seen as a way to help address social and environmental issues through the promotion of ‘grow your own food’. In fact, there are now commercial operations across the globe looking to adapt hydroponics on a mass scale as a form of community farming.

Aquaponics_1When Kelsey first started to set up her systems, she turned to Kijiji’s pet accessories section to find the necessary aquarium equipment  – large used fish tanks. Starting at 50-gallons and up, Kelsey converts the tanks into sustainable food farms that grow everything from herbs and peas to carrots and squash. Projects such as these are then handed over to schools and community groups for educational programs – for example, one is currently managed by a local Boys and Girls Club.

Kelsey’s latest project involves a large 110-gallon tank she picked up from Kijiji, which will be used to build an aquaponics system for Forest Lawn High School in Calgary. Once it’s complete, the project will be used by three school programs for further study.

Aquaponics_2

When she’s not actively on Kijiji purchasing tanks and creating new systems, Kelsey dedicates her time to running the city’s only aquaponics collective where she advises other young leaders looking to enact positive change in their community.  Sounds like a Local Hero to us!

Have you used Kijiji to help change your community? Submit your story here!

Do It Yourself: A Raised Garden Bed!

DIY Raised garden bedIf you’re itching to start a garden project for the spring, why not try building a raised garden bed? Not only is it a manageable Do It Yourself project, but it’s also practical and offers several advantages.

Most gardeners started building raised gardens as a way to avoid battling with pre-existing poor soil conditions in their yard. Building your own allows you to choose what soil and ingredients to use to help make your garden grow anything from vegetables and herbs to perennials and shrubs. Raised garden beds have also been lauded for warming up more quickly in the spring, allowing you to work the soil and plant earlier, and drain better because the soil isn’t as tightly compacted.
More and more people are also adding raised garden beds to their outdoor landscape because its aesthetic value. It also helps keep children and pets away because of the defined space and is easier to maintain than a conventional garden after the initial year of creating it. Convinced yet? Here’s how to add a raised garden bed to your backyard oasis.

Materials
First, you’ll need to decide what kind of material you want to use to create the bed. Wood is usually the easiest and cheapest to use, but you can just as easily create a stone structure that can give your backyard more of a cottage-like feel. The best part about using stone, boulders or large cobble is they don’t need to be mortared in place if the wall is 12 inches or less. You can stack rocks and push them up against one another to create a border.

But for the popularity’s sake here’s some advice on how to construct a contained garden bed with wood. Use a naturally rot-resistance wood like cedar or redwood and avoid woods preserved with toxins, as they might leak into the soil.

The planning and designing stage
Choose a place in your yard that will get at least eight hours of sun in the day and is relatively flat. Draw out how big you want your garden, making sure you keep in mind that you’ll want the middle of the raised bed accessible. If you’re not sure, the Farmer’s Almanac suggests starting with a 4 X 4 foot square, which is the distance most people can reach the middle from both sides.

Construction
After buying your lumber, rake and level the ground so the raised bed lies flat and get ready to begin construction.
As a basic model, you’ll want to purchase four wooden stakes or four corner post to support your structure. Drive the posts into the ground leaving a part of it above ground so you can attach the walls to it. You’ll also want to make sure the posts are level before screwing the wooded walls to it. Knowing the frame is level will ensure water drains evenly from it.

For each wall, you can either use two 2 x 4 wooden panels and stack them on top of one another. Take into consideration how deep you want your raised bed to be as well. A minimum of six inches should be left up to 12 inches to allow your plants roots to grow.Finally, lay some damp newspapers and cardboard at the bottom of your raised bed before putting soil in. This will keep weeds and grass at bay.

Fill ‘er up
Create a nutrient-rich environment for your plants by making a mix of top soil, compost and other organic material like manure as the base of your new raised garden. Consult with a nursery for the best mixture if you’re unsure. Rake and level the soil and get ready to plant or sow some seeds.

Maintenance
Raised beds tend to dry out more quickly so it might be a good idea to put some mulch down. Otherwise, raised beds required little maintenance besides the usual watering.