Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Tour de Chance

I only seem to get out to Vancouver a time or two a year, but I like the place. I could bike there year round... the climate is so hospitable. Sure they get winter, but if I can find a way to bike in Calgary year round, I think Vancouver is doable.

I cabbed it over to a hotel downtown. It makes me happy that this city has realized that taxis don't need to be giant V8 American P.O.S. cars. A Toyota Corolla is perfectly acceptable as a taxi, and leaves more money for the cabbie at the end of the day due to reduced fuel costs. I stayed at a simple Best Western downtown, and am now a Best Western afficionado. Riding up the elevator to get to my room, I noticed a bill posted that said the hotel offers free bikes to guests to tour around the city. They earned my support as a forward thinking bunch right there and then!

The girl at the front desk recommended a Thai place in Yaletown, I decided I might as well give it a try. I went for some lettuce wraps (great), and the fish special. It'd been a couple of years since I bothered with a Thai restaurant fish special since I'm not a huge fan of the work involved with eating an entire fish and picking through all the bones, but it was so delicious it was worth it. A whole coconut was my beverage of choice, and fried bananas were dessert.

Walking around downtown Vancouver is interesting relative to Calgary. I guess when you pay dearly for your 750 sq. feet of home, you want to make it as nice as possible. Seems like everyone is a hobbyist interior decorator here judging by the number of stores selling upscale furnishings, and the general decor of the places visible from the street.

On the way home, I saw a great mural on an overpass entitled "Tour de Chance". Sounds like life to me... it stuck with me for a while on the walk home.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

First time to Whistler

I was fortunate to make it up to Whistler for the first time. Corporate closing function brought me out there, so the arrangements were suitably plush. Limo took us from the airport up to Whistler fairly late on a Thursday, plan was to ski/ride Friday, do the corporate dinner on Friday night, then head home Saturday morning.

The ride up left me feeling a little green with the twisty roads, and I was hungry by the time I checked into my hotel at 9:30 without a proper dinner. I stayed at Legends, seperate from our group since their hotel was full, but was pleasantly surprised by the convenience of the place. My room was huge, it was a condo style room for sleeping 6 people with a kitchenette for nearly $500/night. After checking out both "wings" of the room I headed over to Zen for some sushi.

Naturally, a sushi dinner at the base of the hill in Whistler isn't going to be a value oriented place to grab some grub. Even with that pretext, I was a little surprised how quickly my bill ran up. The lifestlye junkie who was serving me was off his shift as I was eating, so he sat down and we talked over the hill map for a while. Whistler/Blackcomb is intimidatingly large, and I had one day to do my best to sample the terrain. I went to bed eager to board!

I met up with the boss and his wife early in the morning. I think I've heard him mention skiing only half a dozen times in the 7 years we've known each other... usually people who don't say much about skiing aren't big skiers. I was a bit surprised that they're both good skiers, we spent all day navigating the blue and black runs of the hill... and when it came time for the double blacks in whiteout conditions they usually left me to my own devices.

We spent the morning on Blackcomb, stopped for lunch at Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill, and had a great light lunch. I was impressed at the menu, it's nice to see appetizing dishes that don't leave you feeling sluggish for most of the afternoon. We did our best to tackle Whistler with the remaining energy in our legs, which waned quickly in the afternoon.

I was pretty satisfied that we'd done probably 9 different lifts, and had generally sampled the terrain. I rode right down to my doorstep, but found that my hotel access card didn't open the hotel door... so only choice was to walk the long way around. The front desk guy said it happens all the time so he recoded my key and off I went.

Surprise came when I opened my room door and found a couple making afternoon snacks in the kitchen. They had checked in earlier, and hadn't seen any of my stuff in the room. I head back down to the lobby to sort things out, and find that my reservation had only been made for one night. Not particularly insightful on the travel agents part considering my flights were two days apart, you'd think that'd be a routine check in the industry. I was charged $80 for late checkout fee for them to pack up my luggage for me. Anyway, they weren't keen to give me another room right off the bat, the fellow thought I was asking for a room for free, and didn't understand that I was willing to pay... the critical part was just having a place to sleep!

All was eventually sorted out, and I decided to nap for a couple of hours before our late dinner. I woke up feeling great, and made a surprisingly tasty pot of hotel room coffee. At this point I decided I didn't like my haircut from a couple days ago, so I did some rather extensive adjustments myself. It's actually pretty easy to cut your own hair, I honestly don't think it came out looking shabby. I didn't really care anyway, I knew we'd be drinking in a "mood lit" lounge and dinner setting, so people weren't going to be too perceptive, and I could always use the excuse that my toque messed it up if it looked too odd.

Dinner was at the Bearfoot Bistro, which apparently is a place with a little cachet. Good appetizers, had a great time swapping ski stories with the assembled group. Each meal course came with it's own glass of wine, there was a rather impressive magician that dropped by, and all told it was a great night. Several hours in, boss' wife and the host of the party both told me I should stay another day, why would a lifelong skier like me head home right away. After a few glasses of wine, this seemed like an easy thing to adjust, so I headed out to the phone room and rebooked my flight on AirCanada. Done like dinner!

Finished up with dessert, port, and some undoubtedly expensive but nasty tasting congac, and headed home to sleep off the booze for another day of riding! I had no problem getting up and getting ready, but after about 8 runs I really started to fade. I made it a point to hit a few higlights on the hill that I felt I'd missed out on yesterday, including Spanky's Ladder. It was a lot busier being a Saturday, but hitting the singles lines let me get quite a bit of skiing in.

I stopped for an early lunch, complete with coffee to keep me going. It didn't help, I nodded off in my chair for a half hour. After that I felt a lot better and made what I could of the afternoon on my tired legs, exploring Bagel Bowl.

My hotel said the easiest way to get back was the Greyhound which stopped across the street, and was only $20. I certainly didn't mind that, so I showered up and started my way back to Vancouver.

Limo from airport
489/night room, huge and apparently on hill.
Sushi dinner for one 85

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Base building: Fast

Well, to be honest ,I realize base building fast is a contradictive statement. I've been base building since before Christmas with the Chile/Argentina trip. But just to make sure the progress continued, 9 hours of riding magically popped into my weekend. Nice weather, great company, and fun to be out on a bike with gears on the open roads rather than a singlespeed in the city.

How exactly does one base build fast? I've devised a rather dumb method: arrange group rides, predominantly stacked with riders who are unquestionably faster than me Dallas, Jon, Mical, Gerry and Chris all came out for the base miles. I'm very impressed that Chris is a man of his word "I don't ride unless it's above zero" is something I recall hearing a while back. Now that it's above zero, he's out like clockwork. Instead of doing the smart thing and riding with equipment as least as fast as everyone else, I do the Rocky Balboa move and make it hard: ride something a little heavier and slower (apparently I don't have Rocky's charismatic ability to overcome all difficulty). You actually have to be a much better rider to make that work!

This isn't an "excuse" post, I kept up for the most part (Read: they waited). Dallas is just plain fast, and the scary thing is he's really not much heavier than I am anymore... geez, and I thought my power to weight ratio was inferior last year. Any roadies listening out there? Dallas is light this year, and he'll lose another pound once he shaves his legs and chest. Look out Cat 4 and Cat 3. Jon keeps an extra 17,000 calories of carbs in his hollow left leg apparently. "I didn't really eat much breakfast" I hear at the start, yet he's able to ride tempo for 4 hours without fading...

Here's where it gets a little silly. Jon doesn't mind riding the slushy, icy mess of Calgary's streets on a set of Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels with road racing tires. Plus I can still see the sticker on the frame of his Dean that says "super light". My Strong has a "Strong" sticker, "super light" is conspicuously absent. He should probably also get "super light" tatooed somewhere prominent while he's at it. It's hard to follow the investment banking mantra and use more lighter, faster, trendier and more expensive equipment to help me stay with the group, when my logic dictates snow and ice and racing slicks don't mix. This isn't the weather for my new Cervelo!

I spent a little time looking down at the rubber in front of me, and being a numbers guy I began to ponder (mild digression here, for the most part I avoided wheelsucking as much as possible). The Continental TravelContact touring tires I have are 640g of punture resistent engineering each, that's twice as much weight as any respectable 23mm tire. The TravelAll tubes 35-40mm tubes I have are thick, I swear they're thicker than some race specific tires I've seen, plus there's just more material there for a larger tire. And my un-aero Open Pro 32 spoke wheels I think are 1750g. I estimate that over my normal road riding wheelset, which would be equivalent to Jon's setup, thats over 1kg of additional wheelweight.

Hmm... I'm actually not really trying to make excuses here, I'm just trying to see if I ran out of energy for any respectable reason or if I just need to really ramp up my training more. If not, I might be in trouble... maybe if I keep organizing rides they'll still ride with me? I hope I don't have to pay the Germans out of my next bonus for a set of LightWeight wheels and start wearing a timetrail helmet just to keep up!

Seems the real answer is bring road wheels out next weekend, cause math doesn't tell the whole story. The real measure is when the rubber hits the road. To me it feels like spring is just around the corner, and I'm excited! Pushing the big tires around, riding into the massive west wind were great spring training. And nothing feels better than blowing the better part of a $20 at Cinnamon Spoon on all the calories your body can handle.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Where's the Brakes?

4-5 meetings per day, Flames games, dinners, ski days with clients, a co-workers stag, and still my regular workload hanging over my head, plus Spanish classes and bike training, life's been super busy these days... basically before sun-up to after sun-down every day has been spoken for so far this year.

Then out of the blue comes a trip to Whistler for some skiing and a dinner next week. Woohoo!

Can I complain? Not really of course. It's all fun. But besides biking in Tucson, I'm going to need some serious sleep.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Fernie Weekend

After a long night of partying Friday, most of the group was up for first lift today. Some flamed out earlier than others as last night caught up with us through the day.

I snowboarded for the morning, conditions were ok but not fantastic, I'm still spoiled from cat skiing.

I tried snowshoeing for the afternoon. It took 45 minutes to march straight up the hill, great workout. Within 30m of the top lift, I saw Craig Marshall and Vadim Demb skiing... and they weren't the least bit surprised to see me walking up the hill. After we parted ways, a guy on a snowmobile gave me a hard time about walking up, saying the hill was for downhill traffic only. We went through some mild debate, I didn't really care, I was happy to walk back down, but I didn't want to let him get away with being a jerk without a little poke in the ribs. The ski patrollers and another worker on a snowmobile earlier passed me and said "killer workout man" and stuff like that, but this guy was convinced I was a major hazard on the hill. He didn't like my idea of riding the lift down (lifts can't do that, it's dangerous... he obviously knew I was born yesterday to be that dumb). Anyway, day was great.

We're now onto a collection of Jolt, Red Bull and 4 cans of Monster (regular, low carb, Kaos and Assault). The party is not shutting down right after the hot tub tonight!

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Single speeding weekend

Talk about a great weekend of riding in January... after being out of town the prior two weekends I wanted to make sure I fit some pretty decent riding volume in. I was committed regardless of the weather, but as it turns out it was mild enough that riding wasn't a battle (about -4C Saturday, +5C Sunday). Riding in groups of 4 and 6 for the two days always makes it more fun... in total we logged about 130km on single speeds without leaving the city. Roads were sloppy, but the path system was pretty nice, we ventured around Glenmore Reservoir, Fish Creek, Elbow River and Confederation park. The highlight was definitely bombing down the giant tobogganing hill by the Glenmore Reservoir, where onlookers couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Looks like it's going to be cold this weekend for my trip down to Fernie, I'll either bring snowshoes or XC skis along with my downhill gear to get some aerobic work in.