Thursday, 29 March 2007

Work Hard, Play Hard

So I rode 310km last weekend. And now I've worked too much this week. Monday turned into a 7-11 type affair, and I was back for more on Tuesday at 5am. At least it was "for something"... we led/announced a deal for a marquee client. But negative feedback counters a lot of the exuberance. You can make money on a deal, but then the photocopier misses copying pages, and of course everyone is oh so needing that page, and human nature is that blame must land somewhere. I'm on the deal, so maybe that's me. I'm an investment banker/photocopier technician, so naturally I know why the friction mechanism didn't grab page 2. I didn't even do the photocopying, I stay away from that Satan machine. But that's irrelevant.

Client needed [equity] money for an acquisition, and up until last couple of days, markets for jr. oil and gas are... uhhh... tepid. As in "pure crap". Other deals that had gone out recently that were priced aggressively caused lead underwriters aggressive headaches. So we toe the line and make a prudent decision. But next day someone goes aggressive again, we see another deal in the marketplace. The client sees this better pricing point set one day later. My voicemail light is blinking on my phone: "Please call me, I need to give you shit".

Working on a private startup as well. So the night before our internal deal approval meeting I'm working away on some corporate forecasts. Deal approval meetings are also known as "beat up sessions", the target being of course the potential financee (who is not present). However, there banker, who's numbers are discussed by the managing directors from sales and research as well, often gets a portion of the beat up.

Companies come knocking on the door for money all the time, most get turned away promptly. Some are worth a lot of due diligence and number crunching. If they make it through that phase, we sit around a table, and internally debate if this is a piece of business we want to be associated with. Naturally, information is a key driver... models, comparables in the market place, etc. At dinner time the models are looking near a state of readiness, until I noticed that my colleague's Free Cash Flow to Firm model from a week ago took EBITDA and added back DA one more time. Technically speaking, that's too much DA, duhh. Not his fault really, the circumstances under which he created this model weren't ideal. You only add back DA if you're starting with EBIT. Company values always look good when you double count them, as long as it's not not the expenses you're double counting. Good catch, fix it quick. Then, as hours of value added work (or a close approximation thereof) elapse, company then sends us their updated model at 11pm. Yeah, we were working off one three weeks old. I'm still unclear as to why it wouldn't be obvious that we, the lead investment bank, would benefit from the updated stuff as soon as it was available. Anyway, we make do with what we've got. Pulling the pieces together. Giving it the ol' college try... and all that jazz. So what am I asked the next day in our deal approval meeting? What does this look like in 2010? What, you don't have a 2010 model? Uhhh... well... this is a blind pool company here with no assets and a management team telling us they can execute on what they've written on a piece of paper... and you want me to tell you what that's gonna be in 2010? The CFO's model only covers 2007 capital expenditures and run rate cash flow in 2008, nothing beyond.

My daily "pie" only has 24 hours, just like anyone else. I need my sleep, but generally I'm "doing something" from 7am to 10pm, none of which is ever at home. A few weeks back, I was fitting in Spanish and my riding, as work wasn't as scaled up. But I promised myself that if work picked up, I would make the right decision. Spanish gets scaled back before cycling. Not too hard, considering this edition of Spanish classes is a little less inspiring, my teacher doesn't quite have the same charisma as the first one. And cycling is my last bastion. Giving it up is symbolic failure. Actually, it's not even symbolic, it's just pure failure. I could be "living in a van, down by the river" and I'd still ride. I'm too tired for Spanish, work is encroaching on the life again now.

I'm gonna bring a white flag in to work, and hang it by my desk. If anyone came near enough to examine just why the surrender occured, the plaque at the base would say "gone riding".

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Big Weekend Continued

I'm trying to keep the effort levels longer and more sustained at this time of year. I didn't really want to create any riding commitments for Sunday, especially after dinner at Salt & Pepper, the Bow Cycle meet and greet, then drinks at Salt & Pepper again where some tequila shots mysteriously showed up (I'm glad I managed to... uhh.. sneak a boot shot glass out of the restaurant to match my boot mug from Tucson!).

Sitting at my computer Sunday morning, I suddenly felt inspired to meet up with the Jack van Dyke group ride at 11am, so I bolted down to Edworthy in about 20 minutes. Hadn't met much of that crew before, and only knew a few of them.

Although it was scheduled as an E2 Training Ride by the coach himself, it really was just an anything goes ride. Jack TT'd for a while along Airport road, nobody wanted to chase, and I felt like riding into the wind, so we just made an echelon and talked. It was actually really nice steady tempo riding. At 22x, with weather reports and my trusty Eyeball weather forecasting system, I decided to ride north to sunshine rather than south to purple clouds and snow. Only Brian Bain, a speedy young Bow Cycle kid decided to go "my way".

We had coffee in Cochrane at my local dealer, the Cochrane Coffee Traders cafe. It was fun talking to him. I used to think I'd never grow up, University seems like it was yesterday. Brian is in 2nd year engineering, and yeah, of course I'm not an engineer, but it's basically the same cause he's on the way to a profession (I never was good at holding conversations with Psychology or Ancient History types). Some day he'll be a month away from 29, and chances are he'll still be a good rider, and he'll be able to afford whatever bike he fancies. We decided the northwest still looked promising so headed out on Horse Creek Road.

Conditions were beautiful, no traffic, mild wind at our backs so it was virtually silent, and the clouds were distant to the north. We turned around at "the intersection" and retraced back the way we came, then headed over to Big Hill Springs road. I noticed my belly was a little empty and that I didn't have much left for food, but figured at our relaxed pace I'd make it. I also learned a neat new route, I'm going to try to ride it this weekend.

My legs felt strong, but coming into town I was running on fumes, thankfully Brian had some energy stuff to spare. Weekend total was 310km, which I'm somewhat proud of. It means I had nothing else to do but bike, and that makes me happy.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Another Great Saturday Ride

It's intriguing how Calgary weather dictates that the working populace of the city is only entitled to one day of respectable weather each weekend. At least it's one and not zero!

Saturday was another mammoth group ride. This time we started at 9, which is unpleasant in some ways, but once we get going I'm happy to see how much we've ridden by early afternoon. Headed out to Bragg, and rode mostly with Jon/Craig/Devin/Geoff/Ed/Mckee/hope I'm not forgetting anyone. Spirited but not ridiculous pace, until the last kilometer where the Green Jersey battle played out.

After a cafe stop, we headed out to do the loop, then down towards Millarville. Unfortunately, according to discussions later in the day, I missed my dad coming into Bragg and talking to Tim Brezsnyak by less than a minute. Would've been a nice chance encounter.

Bragg to Millarville turned into an all out hammer ride. I nominate Mckee as the "red number" (in the Tour de France, the rider with the red number is the "most aggressive rider" as determined by some judging routine) for his repeated hill blast-offs. I can't contribute much to the mass suffering of a bunch of lean and trim lightweights on the hills, so I do my best to add a little tempo over the top and down the other side so the light in the loafers types can't have too much rest.

Eventually this caught up with me big time as we turned eastbound on 549 toward Millarville. After leading out around the intersection corner, I got dropped like a bad habit on the first hill. This meant chasing back onto the speeding group on the long-ish downhill that followed. My first question to self was "can it be done?" (yes), second question was "do I want to suffer for it?" (sure, it's a hammer ride), and finally "will I pay for this later?" (uhh, probably. But we'll worry about that when the time comes). So I chase away and burn a few of my remaining matches. As I get nearer, I see that in the group rotation, Nutbrown is giving it his all on his two pulls just to make it hard for me. In some circumstances I'd likely find that irritating. Here, I found it amusing. Bikes are our adult playthings, and he's just playing. By the time I catch up, there's not much left in the tank at all, and my legs are hurting. But just for the hell of it, I can't let myself latch onto the back in the draft, I do my best attempt at a blowby just to let everyone know I'm back. I'm sure the gang saw right through the charade as it fizzled within 30 seconds, but it was fun regardless.

We stopped in Millarville for a refuel, then proceeded north. A random decision at a particular corner left me riding with Jon back to Bragg allong Plumbers/Priddis/762, whereas the other guys took a different route. There was a little fate in this decision, as Jon had to babysit me back into Bragg... penance for our chasing game that burned me out a half hour earlier. I tried to eat what I had that was the simplest of calories and fluids, stomach wasn't digesting overly well today, I could feel that the calories I had consumed weren't making it to my legs all that well.

We found Stappler on the way back into Bragg, which was fortunate since we'd lost him earlier. Stopped again at the "neighbourhood dealer" - the Cinnamon Spoon. They've got the product I need on weekends. Saw Devin/Geoff/Ed cruise through Bragg while we were caffienating. We rode back to Calgary slowly, it'd been a big day for all of us.

185km total when all was said an done on my computer. I downloaded the data from my SRM, and through someone's mathematical genius a TSS number was calculated, which is a "Training Stress Score". The higher the number, the harder the ride. This was my hardest ride of the year, and funny thing was, I could have told you that without several thousand dollars of extra bicycle and computer gadgetry.

But was it the hardest ride of the year? I wasn't frozen through and through, trying to hammer home to generate enough body heat to prevent freezing. I had company the whole ride. It was light out the whole time. There wasn't snow and ice on the roads. TSS can't measure winter training!

The Alpha Goat

Just like a wolf pack, the 'goats also have an Alpha. By a committee of one (me) I hereby state that Devin Erfle is the Alpha Goat - Road.

I think there's a fair body of evidence to justify this title. First, there's the last two weeks of Bragg Creek sprints. Some guys just have what it takes for sprints - doesn't matter if you're riding 35mm 'cross tires or if you're riding aero road wheels. If you can sort your way through the first 300m of jockeying for position, that leaves most of us gasping for breath and falling by the wayside, THEN turn it on for the last 100m as if they were totally fresh and just leave everyone in the dust, you're a sprinter.

This is the 6th gear I keep telling everyone that Devin keeps hidden till when it counts. Things start to heat up, and once the pack speeds up to about 7,000RPM in 4th gear, some it's time for part of the field to drop out and coast in to the finish. A selection is made, and the 5th gear shift happens. Over the next 12-20 seconds, the 5th gear acceleration from 4,000 to 7,000RPM plays itself out, leaving but two riders in this case. Most cars, and most riders, only have 5 gears to start with, and redline in 5th is the end of the show. But everyone knows, there's a few out there that have 6 gears. They come with high price tags, and look fast sitting still. And they aren't worried at all about all that 5 speed crud on the road, cause they know where the finish line is. Once 7,000RPM is passed in 5th, what do they mercilessly do to the 5 speed crowd? Put it in 6th and leave them in the dust. From behind, with legs burning and lungs searing, knowing that you had NOTHING left in you to produce anymore speed, you wonder "how the hell did he just do that

The picture above warrants some discussion. Zoom in and have a look. Let's revisit last season. Devin is the first Cat 2 deadgoat, and the points for the upgrade were awarded upon his victory at the Pigeon Lake Road Race, 2006. The above photo captures this moment quite nicely I feel. Note the basics - a field of 30-40 riders. A straight view of the finish line from a little over a kilometer out, where we come onto the straightaway from the intersection that can be seen in the distance. And it's an uphill finish on a long mild grade, which makes the power to weight ratio an unescapable truth.

Maybe it's just the angle, but take a quick look at the faces involved. I see a lot of grimaces, a lot of sucking wind. But one face doesn't have that grimace. That's what earns you the right to put your arm in the air. Winning road races isn't easy. Mathematically, you've got a 1/40 chance, or 1 over however many participants there are. Those aren't good odds. But it's harder than that. You need strength, endurance, and cunning. Road races are seldomly won by brute force. The last 1 minute can play out a thousand ways, and split second decisions can mean the difference between podium or 15th spot.

4th place, by some divine luck, is me. I was just close enough to see the real action unfolding in front. In 3rd place, is Spence Smitheman. Spence is a "young buck" by the standards of the guys around him, and he's an "up and comer" by virtue of being a national level track kid, going to 'cross worlds in Belgium, etc. I think the remainder of the top 4 had 10 years on him each. Rider number 2 is Jason Lapierre, who put a lot of heart into the sport, and into his ski coaching career, and into everything he did. Jason was never afraid to work on the front of a race. And his riding style is what bonded us. That's the last ride I ever did with Jason. He's always in my memory when I'm riding a bike. The details of ABA insurance policies are all for naught when you meet your fate with a few tonnes of steel. If you're riding home from Cochrane on the 1A, and see the cross made of some skis and garnished with a ski boot, crank it up at least three notches for the ride home, just because you still can.

Not that we want to burn out Devin for the race season, but if anyone disagrees with the above assessment, bring out ALL your game for the last 1km into Bragg, and see where it get's you. Then don't be upset when your game gets shoved right back down your throat in the last 100m. Having kids apparently isn't an excuse for being any slower on the bike.

Notice how I've left other categories open by only designating a roadie Alpha? That means there's room out there for YOU to fill another unique position. Maybe we can take votes later in the year on some of the other ones... and sorry for all you hopefulls, but I think the Single Speed position is already spoken for, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Still Re-Living Sunday

My one regret from Sunday was that I didn't have a camera with me. In all my years of riding I'd never seen my bike ice up like that.

Fortunately, Per Strom had his camera out. I'm glad I saw his blog post, looks like we experienced the exact same brown ice crud. I had more ice on my front spokes, and my front hub was entirely encased as well. Further, my BB area which gets road spray coming out from below my fenders (same fenders as Per), had about 3cm thick of ice, plus icicles hanging down. Ridiculous! Took me forever to chip off enough with my multi-tool to be able to use a couple of gears.

Interestingly enough his Powertap worked fine as well. I've had far too many "issues" with my original Powertap SL... as in I purchased it over 18 months ago, and I've probably had 4 months of functional use out of it since then. I've recently received a new computer for it, new wiring harness, and all new hub internals, apparently all of which have been upgraded.

My intention was to immediately sell the brand new setup on eBay to cut my losses, but all the online user reviews I've read suggest that the new parts have addressed all the issues. So I decided to bite the bullet and give it another go... and it worked fine for the first ride. We'll see how it holds up.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

You take the good, you take the bad...

The Good: After returning from a week in sunny Tucson, I was more than a little bummed to see the March snow earlier in the week. I "relaxed" for a couple of days, knowing that my base wouldn't erode that quick. But two days into relaxation, I knew that was BS. I don't care about the base eroding, that's just heresay. I just wanna ride my bike!

Braved some dodgy weather on Wednesday evening, snow and cold isn't fun now that I've had a taste of the sun. But the Saturday morning forecast was looking great.

With a flurry of ride planning emails coming from all angles late in the week, I was super happy to see that all turned out with about 30 riders meeting up on Saturday morning. Awesome! I really wish this could be more typical around Calgary. We headed west to Bragg Creek to loiter at the Cinnamon Spoon for a half hour. A large portion of the group then headed south at a pace that was faster than my bagel with peanut butter and jam really wanted, but I made do for the most part. Eventually we divided in half once more... those heading back and those searching for more. 5 of us went south near Millarville. By the time we were at the 130km mark, I felt in the mood to jam some of the hills. Really, what that means is I felt like trying to sort of keep up to the guys who were really jamming the hills (Jon Nutbrown, Shawn Bunnin, Craig Stappler, and Dave Ford put in a hard pace on at least one hill).

We made it into town on some rough pavement, and parted ways. Jon and I switched over to mountain bikes for the last errand of the day. His hadn't been touched by anything more than a hose since La Ruta, and it showed. I suspect Jon's "to do" list now has mountain bike maintenance featured more prominently here in the next few weeks.

All told, it was 100 miles on the day. Felt good, it didn't wipe me out too bad. Still had enough energy left to polish up my Cervelo that looked a little bit Paris-Roubaix-ish with all the mud, and picked up a giant couch from Tori's work at night with Dallas' assistance.

The Bad: I took it easy Sunday morning, doing some bike maintenance, organization. It was 1C all day on my home thermometer, and hadn't moved. I listed some stuff on eBay, still trying to "recycle" money into my bike exploits a little more this year rather than continually dumping "new" money into the game. Dropped by my parent's house briefly then started riding NW of the city. Good news is I got about 2.5 hours of decent base riding in. Bad news is it started to rain about 1.5 hours in, and the worst news is that the surface air temperature was like -7C. My jacket instantly had an ice glaze on it, as well as my pants, gloves and booties. I was actually still warm, everything froze so fast that I didn't even get wet. My bike looked ridiculous. It probably gained 10lbs in 10 minutes. Every spoke became quadrouple diameter with ice. Fenders caked, frame caked, fork caked, BB are a total mess. Cassette, other than gear I was using, was totally solid, you couldn't even see any cogs. Derailleur was frozen solid.

I actually didn't mind for a while... but I should have clued in sooner. I was climbing a small grade, and my rear wheel was slipping as I pedalled while in the saddle. That's some slippery pavement. But I tuned it out, I was warm and happy, and the weather was neat to see. Finally, on a descent right near the top of the Cochrane hill, I realized all was not well. I could feel the wind blowing me from the side, and watched my front wheel slide a few centimeters across the road... now that's NO TRACTION. I rode over to the gravel shoulder, and once I felt some grip, applied my brakes. That did absolutely nothing. I lean my bike up against a mailbox, feeling fairly warm when I was stopped, and pulled out my multitool. I spent 20 minutes chipping enough ice off my bike that my brakes sort of worked, and that I could pick at least 3 gears. I continued to ride cautiously toward home.

After I barely made it up a moderate hill due to lack of traction, I decided I couldn't ride home and phoned Tori. The roads were glazed with ice, it was hard to walk without slipping. I was concerned about crashing or being hit by a sliding car. Studded tires would have been much better than my road tires no doubt.

I walked and did a couple minutes of riding for a half hour before she got me. Interestingly enough, not a single one of a dozen cars even slowed or asked me if I was OK. I'm sure I could have flagged someone down, but it was worth noting that people certainly didn't seem to care. I'd suggest that with the weather, the crappy roads, and a guy walking his bike along the side that far from town, that maybe it would have crossed some do-gooder's mind to offer some assistance.

As I got closer to town, traffic increased. I started walking in the ditch. I was scared to walk on the road, since cars weren't slowing down, yet the road was so slippery I could hardly walk. Didn't seem like a good combo. People pulling onto the road off rural driveways would hit the gas and fishtail out of control all over both lanes.

It felt good to finally see my ride. All in, I saw 6 cars in the ditch, and 3 cars involved in a smash up. I'm sure there were and will be many more. Total crap weather is an understatement.

It sure is hard to get good training in at this time of year. I did some weights at home and called it quits for the day. We'll see what this week brings... looks like it'll be busy at work.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Travel Pains

So the bad news for Sunday is that we needed to be out of the house Saturday afternoon rather than Sunday morning. A hassle caused by a slight miscommunication with the rental people. Oh well, I've had worse. Didn't really phase me, and the girl was helpful. At least we got to sit around the house for quite a while that afternoon.

We stayed in a functional hotel down closer to the city, and the hotel shuttle did 2 trips to pick us and our gear up. Their computers were down, must have been using the same system as the airline, and it took a while to get a room. We walked across the street for some grub at the Waffle House, and I had a pepper decaf coffee since the pepper shaker fell into my cup. We went back to the room and watched Cops for almost two hours. I could feel my brain rotting away. I can't even believe half that stuff, made me feel good to be hanging around a group of self motivated cyclists.

We went out for dinner at Michis el Norte. We had two large pitchers of strong Margeurita and plateful's of Mexican goodness. Listened to live music, then headed home. I was feeling dead tired. Called the executive car service Mckee used, but they didn't have anything available. Called a cab company and booked a minivan for the morning.

I got up at 5:45, took a quick shower, and headed down with my luggage. Didn't see a cab, so I called the company. "Oh, we don't have a minivan this morning.". Well what did I reserve last night then? Taxis in Tucson are pathetic. Slow, unreliable and expensive. We should have had a rental all week. The hotel shuttle is parked out front, but no driver. We start calling cabs. I talk to some kids at the adjacent hotel who were just starting up a big Nike cube van to go to work, but they said they slept in already and were probably late. No cabs ever showed up for us despite calling a bunch. Eventually a cab showed up to the hotel next to us, I managed to coax him over for Gerry and Trish to take as their flight was 20 minutes earlier, Devin and I got to stress for a few more minutes. We finally got the Mexican night staff/cleaning lady to call Manuel and ask about the shuttle, which was reaffirmed as a no-go. She finally got to understanding that we really, really needed to get going, and I said we'd pay. Manuel got out of bed and came to the hotel in his own truck to drive us, heater and Spanish music blasting. I bet we paid him 2 days of minimum wages, tax free of course. And I was happy to do so, it's nice to see when someone actually understands what a little initiative can earn, rather than those deadbeat cab companies.

Manuel got us there on time, and lineups were pleasantly small. I'm tired and need some sleep on the next flight, and I've got a weird Idahoan sitting next to me.

We stop in Salt Lake, and head straight over to Quizznos for a sub. Unfortunately the toaster is broken, so it's not as good as a usual Quizzno's sub. After that we get into the Starbucks lineup, and hear "last boarding call, are passengers Bakke and Erfle here?"

We're totally surprised and hustle over, while we were eating we heard calls for Eugene, Oregon, Bakersfield, California


When my alarm went off at 5:45, I didn't rally feel like waking up. We had set up the coffee maker the night before, so Dallas had it going early.

We hit the road a 6:30am sharp to get down to Euclid and University by 7. I nearly hit a small Toyota on the driveway to our community. Lady was on our side of the road, and pinned it once she saw me to get over to the other side of the road. I was definitely awake after that. Dallas grabs a coffee down at Starbucks, we hit the washroom, and get ready to go. The oldsters head out 10 minutes early.

7am everyone heads out. We ride calmly through the city, probably 100 people. Easy pace off the start, conversational. Saw a few Albertans, a few guys who were just characters were fun to listen to, fast looking guys were talking about recent races. A guy looked over at me and said "Canadian, right?". Yup. "How long you down here for?" Just this week, it's been great. "Careful man, the Shootout is habit forming." I sort of liked the sound of that.

We get out of town, and things start heating up. With 30 hours in my legs, I'm riding consevatively. Devin is hanging back too. I'm trying to drink a bit more than I otherwise would, my legs feel ok and my lungs aren't doing too bad. I realize it's getting heated up when I see Gord Frasier going by on the outside of the peloton. Old Motorola shorts, a little cycling cap, and a gleaming old steel Peugeot with downtube shifters, a white leather saddle, and gleaming silver 32 spoke wheels. I have no idea who makes gold colored derailleurs, but it was a gleaming work of art. I think bikes only nead to be cleaned once a year down here, and this thing was beautiful. This is the bike as rumored, everyone had been talking around town that "Gord brought some old 10 speed out to the shootout and won the sprint."

It's a gentle grade to the peak, and the pace started picking up. I see around up a bend up to the front, and see an Alberta jersey off the front with Dallas hammering away. II was eating, and next thing I knew there's a gap opening up in front me. Hammer time to keep up. My legs are burning, and I'm still about 1/3 pack and wondering if this gets fast enough to break up the group. Time to hammer a bit. Next thing I know, a guy behind me is yelling KOM, 1km. I see Devin blow by on the right, and realize this is the "big climb". I see what looks like a crest, and pull out to the left and go for it. What's different on this ride vs. the cabin jam is that everyone regroups and coasts at the top. Some Canadian national team kid with a baseball cap and huge legs took the sprint... Buck maybe? (Earlier in the week Dallas met Buck. I'm Dallas. "Hi, I'm Buck." Is that short for Buck-wheat? I understand the conversation ended about there.)

This is the top, and I'm not spent too bad. It's all downhill home, 50k or so. We make the left for the short loop, which I think was about 100k, there's an option to go right and do 180k. That'd be the one to do for some real training, but would need more than a 1 week early season training primer to hold on. I'm not afraid to waste energy and pull now as we head back, I'm better at downhill pulling anyway. I start chasing Dallas, and we've got a 6 person group going. We're going fast, and as I pull through on a rotation Gord pulls through in front of me. We've got a good rotation going, about 8 guys, including some of the bigger guys who do down better than up.

Dallas does a few of his sprintervals to keep the pace up, and I didn't have my camera ready unfortunately for the effort that put him off the front with Gord reeling him back in. As we get closer to town, the pace picks up, with more guys launching off the front. I'm having fun wasting energy on chasing and bridging up. I close the gap down on one guy, but the next guy that pulls through doesn't cut in front of me to give me any draft, sorta uncool. So I peter out and drift back. Takes me a minute to regroup and get on, then I make my way forward again.

There was some big sprint but I didn't see it. After that we coast the final few blocks back to the coutyard of coffee shops by the university. Time to shoot the shit, relive the glory days and all that good stuff. The short version of the ride really wasn't all that hard. It's obviously hard to be at the front of the sprints with such a deep field, but it's nowhere near as cut throat as the Cabin Jam where you blow and are off for good. And it's easy to draft in a huge pack rather than wheelsucking two people on a windy Calgary day. Anyone who is a cyclist would have a place in the ride, and would enjoy it. Self selecting out of the ride and not showing up because it's called "the Shootout" is a mistake.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Recovery Ride

After waking from a 3 hour delerious nap the other afternoon, I was supplied with some ibuprofen and dinner, and felt pretty respectable by bed time. Just the lack of spine and overall muscle ache, and no more headache was a huge relief.

I felt decent in morning, but not fantastic. We started cruising, and my heart rate and power were lining up, so physically I was a bit better, but I had no appetite or intention to push.

We did 110k relatively easy base mile ride, and stopped for a nice lunch that nobody felt like getting up from, it was so nice to sit in the sun.

Mckee was hammering into the wind on the way home, Devin, Jerry and I were fine drafting. Maybe we should have all had Red Bull smoothies for lunch.

Good dinner from BBQ master Gerry, a little freezing pool dip, and things were looking up.

We decided to make an effort to get out to the shootout, with the painful 7am start time for all of us who were getting used to sleeping in this week. 5:45 wakeup set for a hammer ride on vacation!

Thursday, 8 March 2007


Started riding Mt. Lemmon this morning. Whole group, plus Alison Testrote, whom I rode with, Dallas and Mckee were going hard, Devin was going a bit faster too. Unfortunately I didn't feel well, last night I was really hot going to bed, so I went out and soaked my legs in the cold pool to adjust my body temperature. Things didn't turn out too much better in the morning, I felt ok for only a bit on the climb. I should have noticed sooner, but 200W is an easy climb, conversational, but definitely shouldn't be 155-160HR for me. Turned around and went back down, muscles aching and feeling chilly, not pleasant. Took a cab home. Had a hot shower, then slept for 3 hours sweating and shivering under a thick blanket. Had a big headache, fever, and put ice bag on my head.

Felt a tad better after dinner, and am feeling respectable now. From talking to Trish, sounds like I may have had what she had on Tuesday, a 24hr fever thing. She was fine next day, I hope for the same.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Turn it way down

Today was a rest day, and it felt good. Coffee, bike shop, lunch, pool, and commuting by bike in between the aforementioned at less than 115 heart rate. Got to check out an S-Works Epic at a bike shop, looked snazzy as can be. Cruised campus a bit, saw some chick wearing cowboy boots, lowrider jeans and huge earphones commuting home on a cruiser, it's always funny what you see. I only have days this easy about 4 times a year, it's so nice just to be idle. Even the air was completely still, so sitting by the pool felt extra peaceful.

Dallas went out to Phoenix for a crit with Danielle Kenney and Alison Testrote, rest of us saw a little too much driving in that plan for our taste. Sounded fun though from the post race report when they got home at 10:30.

Off to Mt. Lemmon tomorrow again.

Accumulated Fatigue

We explored the "northwest" direction of Tucson generally yesterday, 111km with some harder efforts for a 4 hour ride. Headed up over gates pass, down to Saguaro park, then stopped in at the park info center. A lady sold me $5 park passes for the 4 of us for a road loop in the park that eventually someone told me was gravel, so I got that refunded pronto. Headed north on Sabino up to an airport, east to the interstate, paralleled the interstate for a mile or so on a frontage road, then on Tangerine over to Oro Valley for lunch. Oro Valley seems to be an upscale burb of warm weather seekers.

Everyone is helpful to bike riders here, it's remarkable. At lunch, our waitress took all our bottles and filled them with ice water. The local cop came by and talked bikes with us for 15 minutes. A retiree lady on the youngish end of the retiree spectrum came and offered us a bike map. "I think it's in my car, I'll get it for you. But if I left it at home I'll drive and get it for you.". Then the adjacent store owner came by and talked bikes for a while too.

Of interest, the policeman said it's legal to ride 2 up on all roads other than national parks. This place has such a desireable mindset compared to motorists and the city at home. There's municipal signs on light poles that say "Cycling Friendly Community".

Dallas and Mckee showed up (herein referred to as "the animals") last night, so we had the full on group meal out by the pool. Lots of airforce activity from the base in town, cool to see low flying aircraft.

I'm thoroughly tired, last 4 days has been 2 hours, 5 hours, 7 hours and 4 hours for riding, which is a pretty good stackup for this early in my season. Today is rest, maybe 2 hours easy punctuated by coffee shops in town, a bike shop visit and some people watching, all connected by small ring spinning only. Tomorrow is Mt. Lemmon again (with the animals here no less), Friday should be another hundred miler out to Kitt's Peak observatory, the Saturday is the Shootout.

Wind has stopped, it's mid eighties all day, mid sixties at night. Nice!

Monday, 5 March 2007

Big Day

We decided to ride Mt. Lemmon today. The climb to the end of the road (Mount Lemmon Ski Valley) is 26 miles from the start of the climb, and that's where we set our sights. Getting across town is about 30km from our place, we stopped for a water fill on the east side before heading up. As we approached the base, there's a sign that warns of extreme wind. Considering how strong the wind was yesterday, this worried us. Today it was just Devin, Gerry and I... Trish wasn't feeling well and took a day off.

We settled into a pace that seemed suitable for a 2 hour climb. The pavement is perfect, the grade is gentle, and the scenery is fantastic. We only battled wind for the first few miles, after that you get back into the mountains and it proved to be a non-event. After an hour and a half of climbing, I was feeling weak. We pulled over to put on our windbreakers and such, and saw a guy coming down the hill who was wearing more clothes than I wear riding in -10C weather, seriously. The north facing slopes on the top of the road did have snow, but it wasn't that cold. Your hands got a bit chilled without gloves, but you could ride for hours in that temperature without losing significant amounts of body temperature. I think that guy just was used to feeling the surface of his skin at plus 40C all the time.

We trudged up to the ski area (actually, Devin didn't trudge, he powered his way up). Ski area peak is 9,157 feet, Tucson is labelled at 2,584 feet. The road to the ski area doesn't go to the peak, but there is some up and down on the road. All in, I'd say it was a 7,000 foot climb (not including the climb to our house perched up in the mountains on the west side of town). This was the last day of operation... had I made it there earlier by an hour I would have sought out some rentals to give it a try. Looks like a good learning hill, it's may be a little bigger than twice COP. We were the only two in the restaurant, and service was impressively prompt. We both ordered meatball soup (just what you need after climbing), and it was on the table n 45 seconds. Our Cokes came out fast, and I pounded my first glass right away. The waiter came out with a second glass, plus a pitcher of Coke, plus a pitcher of water. Quite insightful for a heavyweight guy who doesn't likely ride a bike. Food was great, it fixed my bonk and we put on all our clothes for the first cool part of the descent.

The downhill was fun - very little traffic, perfect pavement, mild enough grades that no brakes were needed for any turn. Took an hour to descend, but probably could be done in 50 minutes or less, as we stopped at a few tourist lookouts for some pictures. This is the road map, and disturbingly, American geography is a bit off on this picture, last time I checked Banff is in Alberta. My new bike is by far the most stable descending road bike I've ever owned, there's simply no frame flex detectable. Here's my test, I tried to take a no hands picture of the spedometer over 60kph, but the grades weren't very steep, so every time I sat up to aim the picture I'd slow down with air resistance. 57.4kph is close enough.
The route across town was uneventful and easy with a tailwind. We chatted to some other cyclists, but eventually I did end up missing a good photo op. As we crossed some railroad tracks just east of the University, a yoga chick was doing some pose with one foot on the ground and the other behind her head infront of a derelict building right in the middle of the railroad tracks. A professional photographer was taking pictures... I should have snapped a souvenir shot of my own just for the sake of recording the chance sight.

All in, the day's ride was 162km, a perfect Century, with saddle time 7 minutes short of 7 hours for me. Devin easily scrubbed off a half hour on the climb from my time.
Heaping plates of pasta all around for dinner out by the pool. The few days of wind seem to be over, it's still and warm and beautiful.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Dry, Windy

To state the obvious, Tucson is dry. It isn't even really that hot out, and we stopped for water twice before we even got out the east end of town. Less obvious, to me anyway, is how windy it was. We battled eastward into the wind for a few hours toward Colossal Cave park. I have to admit I was a little disapointed that we didn't make it right to the cave, what could be cooler than something named Colosal Cave anyway? To ride 20kph was small ring hard work... bike getting pushed all over the place, and doing like 250 Watts.

We turned south again to brave a ridiculous crosswind. When we stopped to navigate with our maps, it was literally difficult to stand. When I walked my bike leading it with my hand on the stem, the rear wheel would slide sideways through the gravel until the frame was at a 45 degree angle to the front wheel. When we picked up our bikes by the top tube, they'd blow out to something just a little less than a 45 degree angle. I can't recall the last time I've been in wind like that. The good thing is, I'm still in the phase where wind doesn't bother me. Sometimes it does, but right now my mind doesn't consider it an annoyance. It's good training, and I enjoy it. I'm sure mid-summer when I've done nothing but ride in the wind for 3 months I'll have had enough, but right now I'll take it as it comes.

The good thing was, we headed back to Tucson on the interstate, with the wind nearly 100% at our backs. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time... and at one point I tried to go as fast as I could for one minute. I was spinning my legs at just a hair over 130 rpm, but couldn't hold it very long. The result, with my 53x12 gearing was 75kph on flat ground. Sweet!

All in, we rode about 5 hours and 120k. Jumped in the glacier water swimming pool for a minute, stretched, "machined" a little chunk of plastic into a washer that helped get my rear brake working better (the R3 seatstays are so thin and the brake hardware wasn't really designed for something that thin). Had dinner at El Charro, Enchiladas Banderas and a Margeurita in a big boot mug. Apparently this restaurant has been around since 1922.

Looks like a good day for riding...

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Tucson Bound

We started off a little shaky this morning, airport lineups were long for all the first US bound flights. The airport greeter granny put us in long lineups, by the third switch to the back of adjacent lines she had it right. Not really fun standing for the first 45 minutes and making no progress. Despite this being a United booking, Air Canada was flying us to Los Angeles... aargh, the evil empire again.

After clearing US customs, I have to open my bike box for the magic wand examination. Then I go to put it on the baggage coveyor. Guy wants me to leave it beside so he can load it. I let him know I'll probably hang around to see it go, saying I've had really poor luck with Air Canada. "Recently?" He asks? No, pretty much always. "Yeah, they're the worst. Good luck." He says as he loads my bike. Not the vote of confidence I need with my new baby at the start of a bike vacation.

We do the security check, more lineups, and I have to get my carry on double-checked by the staff. They go right for the pocket of my bag with a Cliff Bar in it, take it out, use the wand, and seem satisfied. Odd.

Devin comes through carrying all his stuff in a pile, so we stop at a bench for him to get his shoes, belt, etc. back on again. I gaze out the window, and down on a road on the tarmac see a lone suitcase in the middle of the road, that had undoubtedly fallen off the tractor. Bad omen. Someones's screwed, and it's not me (yet). I seriously don't understand how the rates of lost and delayed baggage I've experienced in travelling is even remotely acceptable. It's ridiculous.

We did a long-ish walk across terminals at LAX and went trhough security... almost. When I was rearranging my packing last night, I put my new cycling shoes in my carry on bag. Unfortunately, sometime earlier in the evening I put my Leatherman in my shoe. Oddly enough it wasn't noticed leaving Calgary, but it was here. Guy wasn't even remotely fazed or alarmed - "no worries man, people forget things". Two choices - go check bag or throw out $90 Leatherman. Being fond of gadgets, and of not wasting money, I headed back to check one bag. Of course that lineup wasn't very short, airport lines never are. They gave me some speil about checking my stuff 45 minutes before I board, I'm not sure it sank in that I wasn't planning it this way. The guy in front of me was doing the same routine as his shampoo bottle was too large for carry on.

I made it through security the second time, and up to the boarding area with one minute to go before scheduled boarding, only to have everything delayed by a half an hour.

Once boarded, a United staffer came on board looking for "Mr. Bake"... Once I identified that I was there, she didn't even ask me anything, just walked away. The fellow sitting next to me said "I bet you don't pronounce it that way, do you?". Nope, but I've heard it enough in life to recognize it. He said "Bakke, famous name, people should know that. What brings you to Tucson?". Turns out he's a big cyclist. We hit it off, he's 62 and is helping out as man number 2 on his buddies cycling company tours. Also, he's got a couple of bikes available for rent should Air Canada not come through.

I have to admit, once we deplaned and made our way to the baggage carousel, I was EXSTATIC to see my bike box come off right away. And my luggage, and my last checked backpack from LA. I've never been so happy having just my basic, pre-arranged service needs actually met. Everything's looking good!

2 hours of beautiful riding, great dinner, life is good!