Sunday, 29 July 2007

Horse Creek Road

The combination of fresh pavement and the access off 1A shut down for construction makes Horse Creek road a beautiful, low traffic riding spot.

Did 3 laps today, 1st with dad, second with a mini TT built in for fun, and 3rd just trying to survive. Little over 4.5 hours. Is it just me or does riding in 32C for that long suck a little energy out of the body!? I actually felt pretty good for most of it, amazing what 4,000 calories and 15 hours of sleep will do for you.

Will take it easy tomorrow, might commute. Then I'll spend some time thinking about how I want the rest of this week to look, might take an afternoon off to do some riding.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Totally bagged

After feeling a little sick all week, I got out for a ride Friday after work with Craig Stappler. About 4 hours, we had a good time, and I survived but didn't by any means feel overly energetic. I was on the edge of cramping for the second half of the ride, and a stop at Shell in Cochrane had me notice that my arms, legs, etc. were covered in a totally surprising amount of crystallized salt. I was a bit surprised considering I'd been riding in high heat on my trip with no odd effects.

I got home at 10:30 and tried to eat and quickly pack for the Bow 80 loop, my carpool was arriving at 6am Saturday. I managed to get up on time, but didn't feel too hot. I stand by my prior comment that 7 am recreational rides 45 minutes from town should be outlawed!

I could feel my body working hard for t he first hour or so of the ride, and I ended up pulling off from the group before they climbed up to Jumpingpound ridge. Got one flat and was uttlerly confused at tubes in my tires. How could I have "sideways" bumping at the race in Jackson Hole, that in one jolt let down like 10psi out of my front tire? With tubes, you lose all the air or you don't. And it was definitely a pressure loss at one point in time rather than a slw loss. After that I really slowed down, then about 2 hours later water became the issue. I ran out, whic also meant I elected to stop eating much, as gel or bars demand a lot of fluid. I'd rather ride slow than with extensive cramping.

All in it was a 5.5 hour ride, with 6.5 hours out on the trail with the miscellaneous events and the blow down trees on Tom Snow that needed to be climbed over every 30m for a while. We loaded up at Subway in Bragg, then after making it past highway traffic where an accident occured, I fed myself a half can of tuna and a half box of Mac and Cheese, then was in bed by 3:30. Need some real recovery sleep!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Intermountain Cup Series

I guess it's not UCI racing, but the one race I did of this series seemed really well organized and fun.  Maybe someday I can do a few more during the season.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Sick of Work?

Hmmm, I come back from my biking vacation, and leave work Monday feeling a little rough. I take the long way home on my commute and spin around a little, then fortunately bump into Jon and Craig riding the paths. We do another hour or what have you spinning slowly and chatting, what a perfect way to return home.

But then I wake up Tuesday coughing and sick, and hack away all day?

Geez, that's no fun. I wanted to do the Tuesday night hammer.

Clearly, I must be sick of work?!

Monday, 23 July 2007

Cycling Civic Duty, Montana Freedom pt. 2

Other than fruit stands, hazy skies from the Montana fires, and a lot of Starbucks in a can potions from gas stations, the sprint home was pretty uneventful... other than one random occurance.

I passed a cyclist along highway 200 in Montana, walking his bike. I pull over and stop, and ask him if he needs any help. "No, I've just called a friend for a pick up." He seems surprised, and I see that his tire is flat.

"Do you need a tube?"

"Actually my tube is fine, I just can't get my pump to grab onto the valve stem."

I pull out my floor pump, to his awe, and give that a try. It does have a hard time grabbing the stem, but it works. His chain is dry so I offer up a little lube. And as we part ways, I fill up his bottle from my big water jug and give him a scoop of Gatorade in the bottle as well.

I think he was suprised to see that level of roadside service in Montana. That's my cycling civic duty for the day.

As I make my way up highway 83, I set the cruise at 80mph (130km/h). It's a two lane road through the forest, and this is quick, but not over the top for this part of the world. Next thing I know, there's an old boat Plymouth riding my ass. We come up to a point where the road goes to double lanes, and an elderly lady, with those oversized glasses where the frame grabs onto the bottom of the lens in a flourish of pink plastic, motors by like I'm standing still. Not one minute later, I'm passed by a guy on a dirt bike. I'm known to use the word dirt bike liberally, as in referring to my street legal Honda XR650L as a "dirt bike". This was a real dirt bike, ie. it was not street legal. Yamaha blue, but I couldn't tell what displacement. Must have been geared seriously high, since most dirt bikes don't have that kind of top end speed. The guy was probably mid 30's, brush cut, no helmet, no shirt, wearing only shorts and sneakers, and was passing me going over 80mph on the highway... with a huge grin on his face (probably half due to the squint necessary at that speed).

I guess in Montana, driving norms are a little different than home.

Taming the Tetons

On the way down to Colorado, I'd learned of one of the Intermountain Cup series of races to be held the following Saturday at the Jackson Hole ski area. At the time I concluded that it wouldn't really fit the travel schedule on the way home, I wanted to be further north than Jackson on Saturday.

As it turns out, my scenic route through northwestern Colorado had me in Jackson late on Friday night, so racing made sense.

It was a well attended event, with participants in all age and ability categories , as well as a single speed category. The course was probably the nicest mountain bike course I'd ever raced on, beautiful pine forest, lots of vertical split nicely between less technical uphill and more technical descents. The course was true mountain bikers course, as it wasn't open enough for a strong roadie to just make up time on gravel climbs, time needed to be made throughout the singletrack.

I met a bunch of new people, funny how easy that is at mountain bike races... they're a good laid back scene. They're all at least conceptually interested in TransRockies, so we exchanged info on the promise that I'd be a helpful local if and when the opportunity presented itself. I felt good with my race result, and with the fact that my last lap was the fastest. Lack of fade is good indicator of endurance improving.

After a chance run in with Mike Piker, the TransRockies partner of Tim Bresznyak, I ended up bringing home Tim's road bike for him, that last saw service under Tinker Juarez in RAAM. Small world - last time I saw Tinker we were chowing down some tasty pork dish at the finish line of La Ruta, having a primitive conversation that was secondary in priority to consuming the buffet.

Long drive home from here, plan to make it to Helena tonight then home Sunday afternoon. Not looking forward to the return of my alarm clock!

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Day off

Today's the day I leave Steamboat, I have to say that I really like the flavour of the town after having only been there for a half a week. I did a one hour run, tried to make it to the Rabbit Ears peak, but couldn't find the right trail.

Looking at a map, I've decided to make my way from Craig to Rock Springs wia the less travelled route. I start on the 13/789 north, then head west on a road that doesn't have a number on my map, nor does it on the sign. There actuallly wasn't even a turn sign, it just had signs to various ranches and their distances once I was on it. Not a lot of traffic to say the least. I passed through the southern tip of the Jonah, and the middle of the Hiawatha gas fields. I took a bunch of pictures, passed through a desert flash flood storm, waded the Little Snake River, and basically just explored. I passed through Powder Wash and Hiawatha, which aren't towns, villages or even hamlets - they've made the map but are "camps", indicating they aren't permanent.

All in, it was about 200 miles, 120 of which were off road. I'm fairly certain that's the lowest population density area this side of Alaska. I saw one Slumberger truck, one Ensign truck and that was it. I don't think there were many repair shops catering to anything other than Dodge, Ford and Chevy trucks in the entire corner of the state. If I stayed any longer I would have had to buy a gun rack and spraypaint the Benz with desert camo, in the style of the locals. Beautiful scenery throughout, then drove up highway 430 to Rock Springs. There's a huge JR Simplot phosphates mine on the south end of town, and in general I couldn't really find anything appealing about the city. Judging by the size/quality/number of truck stops along the interstate there, it's a passing through point for many.

I make my way north along the 191, through numerous Wyoming towns. All the population signs show less than 200 people, hald don't make triple digits. Pinedale is the only one with a bit of critical mass, and seems like a really nice place. A ship shape looking car wash draws me in, to polish up my road trip mule before Bondurant and the beautiful road along the Hoback.

I make it into Jackson at about 9, and due to timing decide that I'll take part in the mountain bike race tomorrow. I sign out for the night in mountain biker ghetto style - sleeping in the car in the parking lot where race registration starts at 7:30 tomorrow. Let's hope the legs still have some juice left in them!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Taking it down one more notch

I've been pretty active the last few days, and today was mostly about taking it easy. The 90 minute breakfast, sitting in the sun ritual is pretty easy to get in the habit of. I took the time to make a cup of coffee this morning for the first time this trip.

Took me till 10:30 to decide to leave, headed into town for a cafe with internet. Charged up my laptop, which apparently has a battery only run time of about 3 minutes, and downloaded pictures and GPS data and such. I think my SRM battery has given up, time to get that replaced. Spent about two hours there, it's an Italian place with lots of Giro photos on the walls, and TdF on tv, so I felt right at home. It's stinking hot out, and it looks like clouds are an hour or so away, so I'm not in a hurry to ride just yet.

After that I made my way over to Orange Peel to talk 29er specs with Brock, and to get yesterday's crit wear and tear taken care of on my bike. We managed to drag the niner talk out to over an hour... I'm sure in theory it could have been 15 minutes, but with me sitting in a director's chair, and Brock on his stool with a notepad, it had a very theraputic feel to it. He's been working in bike shops since he was 14, save for a year after university when he tried something else. He's the kind of guy who will tell you what's good, and what's junk, aside from profit margins on different products. "It's all about how it rides you know", "why buy a light part when all it's going to do is cause you headaches? This isn't about headaches, this is about a machine to keep your legs AND your soul in shape". He's right. I'm not just buying a bike, I could have done that anywhere. I'm buying a Moots, and have travelled all the way to Moots-land in the process. They're a hand built, piece by piece from the ground up premium product. I've met the builder responsible for my bike, and 4 different people have said that he's known to be one of the best ti welders in the world in the few days I've been here. I've heard stories of the processes, techniques and accompanying tools he's invented to improve the product and the trade. Ti bikes are in some ways "classic", as in "not modern". However many aspects are cutting edge, small improvements that either weren't present or feasible just a few years ago. The big 29er wheels are obvious, but so are the couplers and the Rolhoff hub. Or the invisibly improved gussets, the variable width seat tube with internally welded reinforcing. The YBB design is old, but useful and improved. Old doesn't always mean bad - the internal combustion engine is old too, but it's modernized and fit to each application appropriately. I hope in the end it rides nice and is low maintenance, and accompanies me on new bike adventures.

Over to riding, I was pointed in the direction of Emerald mountain, which has the rodeo grounds, ski jumps, ski hill, skateboard park, and other public facilites at it's base. From Orange Peel's door to 30 miles of winding singletrack covering a thousand feet of elevation is about 150m. I'm not sure how you top that.

I climb a long gravel road up to "the quarry" which is a rock outcrop where you can quench your thirst and watch Steamboat below. I continue upward to the cell phone towers, a steep climb. All in it's 45 minutes, and I'm sort of dogging it. I follow the road to a US FAA signal tower for air traffic, then turn back down the road for a kilometer and dive down into some singletrack. It's buffed smooth and is fun, fast riding. I keep doing loops till I end up back at the quarry, where naturally I turn right back up the lung busting cell tower road and do another couple of laps. The clouds finally open up and pour, so I head down in the slick mud before I get too chilled. The downside of the buff singletrack is that it turns to grease in the rain and becomes unrideable fairly quickly. All in I manage 2 hours of riding... so not exactly a rest day, but without the intensity of the hammer or the crit, I think the legs will feel a little more energetic tomorrow.

I wash up my bike in the river, which is surprisingly warm, and as some kids on inner tubes go by, I take the hint and float long enough to clean myself off as well. I change during the last bit of showers, putting on my souvenir Orange Peel shirt, the only long sleeve I have with me other than a jersey that's in the tent.

I grab a coffee from the shop next to the bike store, and notice a discreet sign on the space next door: Kent Eriksen Bicycles". He's the founder of Moots, and as I understand it, isn't involved in the company any longer. By peeking through the window, it appears he's still got the bug, as he's got a skunkworks looking machine shop with [prototype] frames and parts all over the place. Good location, not far from coffee and suitable test trails...

A quick stop by Safeway for some veggies, of which I now notice there aren't a whole lot available. Amy at Moots said this town was lacking a little on the fresh produce side, and now that I have that in mind, it is fairly noticeable.

3 hour campfire to unwind, then bed! I'll study my map, will start heading north again.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Tuesday night hammer ride

Even Steamboat has a tuesday night hammer ride. I started out today with a 3 hour mountain bike ride this morning. After that, I started eating every carb in sight and had an afternoon nap in the park while my laundry was going to give myself half a chance at hanging in with the "A" group. Parking lot at Orange Peel fills up at 5:15 for 5:30 departure. A's number just over 20.

The route goes northwest, out past Clark, the right on a secondary road toward Mt. Zirkel and a campground called Seedhouse. There might even be a town there, but roadwork had us turn around 2 miles before getting there. The road is false flat for the whole 40k out, but with nice rollers. No real climbs per se. I figured if I could hold in with the group to the turnaround, all would be well as I've always been good at holding tempo on slight downgrades like the way back. 4 of us make it out to the turnaround together.

After the turnaround, we started chatting a bit. The guy who seemed strongest of the four of us was wearing full Moots kit and riding a Vamoots SL. Said he'd been in Steamboat for 10 years, but grew up in Portland. I asked him what brought him here, and he said building bikes. He'd built a few on his own prior, but then started working at Moots. I mentioned I currently had an order in for one. He asked my name. "Erik from Canada?". Yup. "I did the drawings for your YBB, and have started building it. Cool. Knuckles of respect went both ways after figuring that one out.

The pace picks up, and we're all having fun on the way back as the pace is around 50kph for the first while. About halfway back, attacks start. Moots ends up breaking away, with me second, and another guy behind me. I can't bridge up, so I hold a comfortable pace and wait for guy behind to work his way up to me. We battle for a while, and before you know it we're at the town limits, huffing and puffing and all bleary eyed. Talk about a good high intensity workout. Especially since Steamboat is 100 ft lower than Canada's highest paved road (town is like 6,900 ft, and is Colorado's lowest evevation ski town).

I guess my body responds well to rest, relaxation, training and good nutrition I guess, even if it is cramming!

Moots factory, crazy crit

It's another beautiful morning to have breakfast in my chair in the sun, 20 degrees and sunny. I'm using Tori's Brunton solar panel to charge up my GPS and enjoying the breeze.

Planning on another 3-4 hour mountain bike ride, then will head into town for a coffee shop where I can charge up my laptop and relax in the sun again for a while. Might even take a lift up the ski hill to take a few photos and walk around.

One thing I'll certainly make time for is a tour of the Moots factory, and I'll probably buy a jersey or some other souvenir.

I end up riding about three hours this morning, on portions of the great divide trail. I'm tired from last night, this is a low end aerobic/recovery ride, with some good technical skills building along the way - the trails here are great for that. I stop at my halfway point to eat and take in the sights and sounds... birds calling, fish jumping, and wind in the trees. I could sit here for hours I think, if I didn't want to get down to the Moots factory today.

I stop by Wal-mart on the way into town to pick up a new foil for my shaver, other one tore and wouldn't be pleasant to use to say the least. From there it was over to Orange Peel to buy a souvenir shirt, the guys at the shop have been very friendly thus far, it's a place I'd recommend to anyone. Bikes seem to be a much more integral part of this town than home... commute to anywhere is short, so lots of people use it as default transportation. I've seen a lot of groceries being carried, and I've now seen 3 dogs lucky enough to be carried around in handle bar baskets.

Directions to Moots are easy, just hang a right off the road where the hammer ride left town. It's a nice looking building in a nice "industrial" park. Dave, the marketing guy who answered my first email inquiries, and whom I met at Orange Peel upon arriving here, was first guy I bumped into. He gave me a full tour of the place. It's pretty fascinating to see how slabs of ti, and tubing, go through so much process to get to the end product. Moots especially makes a lot of small parts from ti on their own, just examiming any of their frames will show how they do a dozen or so extra labour intensive pieces.

I chat with Brad, the frame builder doing my bike, and see the tubes on the floor which will eventually become my bike. He shows me how many niners they've done with S&S, and my mind races. That's what I actually wanted, I just couldn't get it confirmed properly through email first that it was entirely packable in the travel box. He says the YBB ride on the niner wheel size is awesome, and proves to me with a frame right there that it fits in the box no problem. I ask if I'd be using up more than my share of karma points to switch to a niner at this point. "Not at all man, I'll switch it first thing tomorrow". This makes me incredibly happy.

After that, I head up to see Amy, the office manager girl, for some souvenirs - a t-shirt and jersey. She's been in Steamboat for a year, and is working two jobs to make it happen. From Masachussets originally, and was always a cyclist, so feels like she just arrived in heaven. On top of that, her first Moots frame is only a couple of weeks away from delivery. She recommends a coffee shop nearby that I can grab a snack at before the crit starts.

Crit starts around Moots building at 6:25. We're geared up to do 35 minutes plus five laps, with about 20 people in the field. Mark, one of the Orange Peel employees, and a junior national XC skier, appears to be the one with the legs. I'm tired after doing two warmup laps, the course has about 10m of vertical per lap on one climb, a bunch of chicanes, and is generally just a sweet crit course. First five laps aren't too hot, then things get moving. Somewhere around lap 10, I'm riding in 4th, and the fellow in front of me decides to take a 90 degree left turn lying down. I don't really have any option other than to run into/over him, and when my front wheel hits his front chainring, it's like Texas chainsaw massacre for my tire. The exploding tire get's the attention of everyone who wasn't already freaked out. I see a large tree straight ahead, and hope our momentum dies out before hitting it. I come up completely unscathed, as I only fell once we hit grass. Buddy has enough road rash for the two of us, he'll be sticking to the sheets for the next 10 days for sure. I find out after the race that he's an ex-Canadian freestyle ski team coach? Never caught the name, will have to look it up.

Someone lends me a wheel, and I chase for two laps to rejoin the fun. By this point, the lead group is fown to 6. I bridge up and sit in to rest for a while. I'm taking the crash corner really wimpy and am losing time each lap, which means the hill is harder each time for me as I also need to close a 4m gap each lap. All goes well for another few laps until buddy in front of me flats on the fast straightaway, with fishtailing and leg outriggering all thrown in for fun. The thought of counting my blessings and abandoning here crosses my mind, but why cut a workout short when I'm having fun, and haven't been dropped yet?

An older fellow puts on the gas for a lap, and Mark and I are the only two to stay with. He blows up spectacularly, leaving just the two of us. Mark does another hot lap, then settles in. At this point, I'm content and don't feel the need to repeatedly attack him - considering I got a 3 lap rest with the crash/walk to pit/find a loaner wheel ordeal. Plus it seems like the whole scene really means something to him, and I'm just here for a workout. We trade pulls for the last few laps, then sprint the last 50m up the hill to the finish. I make up my "crappy corner" deficit with 20m to go, and get neck and neck. At that point I sit up, smile, and pedal across the line with his wheel crossing two feet ahead. I'm happy that everyone survived, and that my regimen of 3 hour base rides in the morning with the 1-2 hours of intensity at night is working just fine.

We shoot the shit for a while after, and I find out the other guy who I raced into town with last night is a XC kid of some acclaim, I'll have to look him up when I'm back on a computer. Everyone speaks highly of him no doubt. As the parking lot cleared, Brad was just locking up Moots, and had heard about the crash as buddy was in the building for some cleanup.

I stop for a bag of ice and some M&M's, then cruise up to refresh in Dumont lake and make dinner. Weather looks ominous, but it has every night and hasn't amounted to much yet. As I pull into camp, I see the fully loaded bike touring couple who were stopped 4/5ths of the way up the pass this afternoon setting up their camp. I stop to say hi, Sarah and Morgan are touring the western states. I let them know that I've got a giant toolbox of bike stuff, more than any tourer would carry, should they need anything. They seem happy at the offer, so now it's nothing but some gourmet mountain cooking and rest!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Dumont Camp Ground, High Alpine Riding

As I go to bed, there's a few lightning flashes and associated thunder, but no storm materializes. I've only to a light, light sleeping bag (actually just an overbag), so I put on my long johns and my alps cycling jersey. It's cool enough at night for good sleeping, I'm glad I brought a toque. Like clockwork, I wake up at 6:45, but with nowhere to go I decide I'm not getting up yet. I sleep in till 8:30, then dawdle around with breakfast and map reading till 10. I wasn't tired while riding yesterday, but sleeping at elevation isn't as restful, so I feel a little tired.

I ride to the trailhead I turned around at yesterday, which is a "road" that's navigable by any appropriate vehicles. From the trailhead I do an hour out and back, turning around at Long Lake. The singletrack is beautiful dry piney forest bed. My bike is working flawlessly, the hubs have been fixed up nicely and the Brain decided to function again. The trail is flat but rolling, there's not really any elevation to be gained or lost here now. I'm in awe of how much fun I can have with my glued carbon and air spring plus damping valve toy. It's amazing what technology and engineering can accomplish. My photos speak to the elevation as there aren't even mountains in the background, it's just alpine meadows at 9,800 feet. It's about 100 miles south there the peaks still jut up another 4,000 feet higher.

The trails are suitable for beginners, and are fun for experts. I can ride along at 12km/h easily or have a blast trying to hold 25km/h. Made it out to Long Lake, then just sat and enojoyed. The temperature was low 20's, there wasn't a bug in sight save for a few dragonflies, and I could watch nature to it's thing in pure silence. I can't remember the last time I felt so relaxed.
I hammer on the way back, the trail continuously winds left and right, up and down. It's fantastic. I stop to take a picture overlooking my bathtub (Dumont Lake) when I can see it. The last 5k is a gravel road with some waterbar jumps, then I coast into camp for lunch. I've got an easy chair, a log to rest my feet on, and so much fresh air my lungs just might clog up with pine tar. I pack up and head over to the lake, then head into town for a few supply stops and a trip to the laundromat. Group road ride starts at 5:30.

Near Wamsutter, Wyoming to Steamboat Springs, Colorado

I drove until 1am, seemed like a good idea to keep making distance while I was alert. Pulled off into a huge gravel lot at the corner of I80 and 789. Was pretty easy to make enough space in the back of the car to sleep. Before I knew it, I was on the road at 7:30 again. 789 going south is scrub brush, arid, and lots of oilfield activity. I'll have to look up who's active in the area later. At Baggs I decided to hang a left and cut across on 70 through Medicine Bow National forest.

I'm glad I did. The road from Savery through the park is devoid of traffic, beautiful, and freshly paved. I pulled off at a scenic stop and got the road bike out for a cruise. I stopped at basically the high point, coasted back down the hill, then climbed up.

Erik: How far did you ride?
Erik: About 50km, but with lots of climbing... took about 2 hours.
Erik: How many cars did you see?
Erik: Two. And the road was all fresh asphalt. Heavenly.

I kept reading the roadside turnout signs as I went, we're near the continental divide trail and in an area that's been used since the mid 1800's. First it was Basque and Mexican sheep herders, then copper boom, then ranching and outdoor tourism. One sign early on advised me of the Rudefeha Mine that was active between 1898 and 1908, and was 16 miles off the road going north. After I was done biking and had a shower, I pulled over for another history sign, which happened to be the Rudefeha Mine turn. The road said equestrian, hiking, biking and 4x4 was allowed. Off I went!

2 hours of exploring had me do 4 river crossings, a picnic, and checking out the mine site. I'm rather impressed at the basic offroad capability of the yuppie mobile. My GPS told me there were sections of 16% grade, and I don't think I ever felt a wheel slip once. It was actually pretty relaxing. If I'd had my dirt bike instead of a car, I think the road would have taken 1/3 as long, but that's ok.

After that, it was a 2.5 hour drive to Steamboat. Not many towns over 100 people in between, but did see Encampment, WY and Walden, CO, the only two "big" enough to make the map.

Rabbit Ears pass is being worked on heavily, so no road riding that. But made it into town and by fluke made it to within a block of Orange Peel Bikes before checking my blackberry maps. Brock treated me like a king, got someone started on fixing the Epic right away, then showed me the parts that are showing up for my Moots. I've now got first hand info on riding, camping, and local group rides. Heading up to make camp for the night and do a little mountain bike ride from the camp ground.

Set up camp at the top of Rabbit Ears pass, a camp site set up near where the old road went at Dumont Lake. In fact, the area map I bought brom the bike map shows the continental divide going through the campground (it's 20m away from my site judging by the monument), and I'm at 9,600 feet. After setting up camp, I ride for an hour on the continental divide trail. I'll do a singletrack loop tomorrow, and can't forget my camera. I actually didn't feel like I was challenged by the altitude climbing, but that's just cause I go my own pace. If I was riding next to someone from here I think it'd be a different story all together.

Got a one match fire going and had dinner while witting in my easy chair. A couple from Wisconsin who are RVing charge up my GPS for me while I cook, eat and swim in the lake. I'll ride here in the morning, have lunch, then head down to Steamboat to do laundry and look for internet plus a coffee while I wait. After that it's nap time till 5:30 when a group road ride leaves Orange Peel.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Townsend, Montana to Corner of I80 and 789

Was on the road by 7:30, and not much pause until Livingston for some supplies before heading into beautiful Yellowstone. Yellowstone is cool, I love the slow drive, the sights, the smells of the geysers, etc. Enjoyed every minute of it and got to Grant Village for a swim by and picnic lunch by 12:30.

Continued taking in the sights along the drive to Jackson, then proceeded immediately to Jackson Hole ski area for some mountain biking. Been driving too much, and need to burn off some steam. Ski areas are good for riding - even if they don't have an abundance of singletrack, they're guaranteed to have a lot of vertical, and cat roads. Not everyone's cup of tea, but perfect for me.

I unpack the S-Works and start heading up from the village. About 15m up the hill, I realize the rear end is boingy-boingy. Hmmm... The Brain doesn't seem to be working to lock out the rear. Oh well, more comfy and better exercise I say. Then I notice resistance. Stop and check that - brake's rubbing a bit. Oh well, better training. I hop on and ride for 3 more meters then stop. Rear wheel seizes. I can spin it freely in reverse by hand... and then it spins forward too. But no hub engagement. Argh. Thanks Mavic for putting a gnat's ass worth of grease in there to start with, these things have probably 10 hours use max so far this year, and that's rounding up (I've really only been using this bike for racing).

I coast down to the base and check out the repair shop, but their mechanic is away for the day. The guy that's there says he doesn't know hubs, and doesn't know what to do. I ask to borrow a rear wheel, but none of the rental fleet has the small rear disc brake rotors like mine. Guy again says he doesn't know what to do. I briefly think about going for a road ride, but then he says "well why don't I just give you a rental bike". I tell him I'm willing to pay, but he says he won't take any money as it's their fault they can't fix it. Instead of arguing I put my pedals and tool pouch on pronto and start scaling the mountain. I've got a green Ironhorse Warrior, which rides as good as you'd expect for a freebie. At least I'm riding, but I can say I've never ridden a bike with a front shock that felt worse than a rigid fork, and rear suspension that seems designed to reduce rather than gain traction while climbing, and not do much for the bumps on the way down either. Anyway, it's about 40lbs, which will be a good workout (the frame says "Aluminum" in block letters - must be solid to weigh that much).

I climb to the top of where they allow you to go, takes about 90 minutes. I think it was 900m elevation gain and about 8km. Pretty steep overall. I find a fun trail on the way down, then do a few other singletrack loops for 3h total riding. I have to time my arrival back at the shop before it closes.

Walking back to the car, I see a Snake River Lodge and Spa across the parking lot. I figure I'll drop by to see if I can hit up the spa for a shower. Lady at the desk says spa access is $45. I tell her I've got a price between $0 and $45 that I'm willing to pay for 10 minutes in and out. Unwilling to take on the responsibility of such negotiation herself, she calls her manager, who says $25 will do. I say thanks but turn around and start leaving. The manager asks what's wrong. Considering I've got a key to my yuppie mobile in one jersey pocket, and my wallet in the other with probably $700 of US + CDN, you'd think either I'd cave or they would. Either I'm cheap or I've got a sense of value still. I figure I'll hit the Snake River by the bridge near town where everyone was swimming this afternoon - which is more fun anyway. So far my grand total for camping and showers has been $12 (just by Babb). The one last night had no "toll box" thing or whatever you call them, I'm pretty sure it was set up to be free.

I've swam in rivers or lakes twice a day minimum so far, feels good. I've decided that between air temperature and water temperature, it sure saves a lot of hassle to be a "price taker" and just take whatever temperature nature dishes out.

Started the night drive, the 189 south of Jackson is a beautiful road riding road - as long as you climb it going westward. From there it flattens out and straightens out, nothing but bald arid high prairie. Got passed on the interstate by a bunch of squad cars going mach speed, but uneventful otherwise. Set the cruise control and see how long I can last before feeling tired, which ended up being the corner of I80 and 789.

Glacier National Park to Townsend, Montana

Woke up with thunder and a little bit of rain at around 7am. Made slow work of getting camp packed up, and headed over to St. Mary's at about 9. I started driving up the pass, but realized that was just silly, so I pulled a u-turn and parked down at the boat dock. Rode up to pass in just over an hour, temperature was perfect. At the top a girl offered to take my picture by the sign, and turns out she's a graphic designer for Hammer Nutrition - she noticed my waterbottles. Cruised back down at mach speed, then cleaned up in the lake, which was tough as the rocks there are bad on bare feet. Got back in the car at 11:45 and started to log some miles.

I decided to picnic near lake McDonald, next to a vacationing family of 5 whose waistlines didn't indicate they were here to bicycle Logan Pass. As I made my way out to West Glacier it went from hot to stinking hot... which put me in the mood for some cherries from a roadside stand, and got talked into taking a bag of huckleberries too.

As I headed south, I decided to hang a left on highway 83 along the east side of Swan Lake. Right at the turn, there's a few shops, so I stopped in and got Tori a little present. Peak temperature the car thermometer registered was 37C, so I stopped a couple of times for a swim.

Pulled into Helena at about 7pm, and grabbed a cup of tea from starbucks that was a block away from a downtown music and arts festival. Hung out there for an hour or so, and scoped out some of the food tents. After that it was just a quick drive down near Townsend, at the south tip of Canyon Ferry Lake. Had a swim in the river and made camp before the mosquitos got me.

Saturday, 14 July 2007


Despite the fact that I Stampeded (ie. drank) for 12 hours yesterday, I woke up at 7 feeling fine.

Did my last minute packing, then headed over to Canadian Tire and MEC for some last minute items. By the time I was rolling out of the south end of the city it was around 11. Honestly, I didn't feel motivated to leave. All the hassle of traffic and getting out of town had me asking myself why I'm not lounging on the couch right now.

It was high 20's on the thermometer, but I didn't feel like using AC. I spend my whole life in offices, nder flourescent lights, with alarm clocks, popup calendars to remidn me to do things, and non stop phone and email input. I eat when it's available rather than when I need to. Gonna switch that up for a bit here... Wake up when sun rises, go to sleep when sun sets and fire dies down. Gonna go with the temperature mother nature gives me and drive with the windows down. This week I was probably eating 4,000 calories a day in the form of Stampede breakfasts, lunches and dinners and booze.

I stopped in Nanton for gas, and realized the car wasn't looking so hot. Just like me, it needed a little rejuevenation. I bought some wheel cleaner to dissolve all the break dust, some tire spray, and headed for the car wash. A clean car is a happy car, and now it's gleaming and looking ready for a road trip.

Next stop was Cardston, for 5 gallons of water, a veggie tray, and a stop at the bank for some US money. It was luxurious being outnumbered by tellers 3:1 and being in and out in 5 minutes, and being able to park right outside (even though bank was on main street).

I went west on #5 over to the waterton side of the park. The Chief Mountain Road then crosses the border and connects to Babb, Montana. What a gem of a road, it's beautiful, low traffic and great pavement. I decided after finding camping I'd go back and ride it. All of a sudden things started clicking. The mountains remind me of my favourite sign, just outside Radium, that proclaims "The mountains shall bring peace to the people".

Montana instantly has a feel of freedom to me. Not just in the personal sense that I've unplugged and now started relaxing, but the helmetless bikers, fireworks and gun racks just serve as little reminders that big brother doesn't strain himeself too much out in this neck of the woods.

I found camp near Duck Lake. I'm a few miles back on a tertiary road that connects to the main secondary road in these parts. To say it's quiet is an understatement. I hear trees blowing in the breeze and some running water.

I head out on my ride, and my shifting is off. 1/2 turn of barrel adjuster and it's perfect and crisp, love it when stuff works out simple. I didn't bring enough food, but did that on purpose. I'm going to ride a moderate pace to ease in, no sense starting in high gear to shock the system after the week of Stampede boondoggle. I want to ride empty for a while, brain is asking for something different after a week of excess.

The temperature is beautiful, shorts and jersey and not a single reason to bring anything else in the pockets. I ride back over to the border along Chief Mountain road and ponder the peak as I make my way around it. A sign says it was special to the natives as a tool that helped them clarify their vision and path, a guide for them. I can't doubt it at all, because it's helping guide me. My mind is burying the issues that occupy it while I'm in the city, and in it's place I smell nothing but fresh trees and meadow flowers, with my heart pounding and sweat rolling down my arms.

It's so clear that the things I've always loved haven't changed one bit over the last 10 years. University and career have shaped what I am from the outside, but what's inside hasn't changed a bit. It just get's drowned out by the white noise of life for periods.

I ride 50k out, and sit at a bench that overlooks the Waterton park valley. I hammered up the last few kilometers to the bench to burn myself out - I want to be at the furthest point and tired. I don't feel too energetic overall, but I want to make my tired legs work more to get me home.

I think I ate 3,000 or so calories today, but also fit in a 100k ride with a lot of vertical. When I'm out of office I don't seem to even think about eating as much, it seems I revert to the base version of myself. It's nice to snack on farmer's market stuff instead of our junk food closet at work.

My blackberry doesn't even get signal out here for phone... just one more reason Montana symbolizes the free.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Stampede is Fun

I did quite a lot of Stampeding this week. 6 corporate parties, 2 trips down to the rodeo, enough Stampede breakfasts to make sure I survived, and an afternoon of client cycling.

Downtown Calgary is nutty during Stampede, especially the oilpatch. Out of town money managers and such just shake their heads in disbelief, then promise they'll come again next year.

We even had a party where Tori got painted last night, and the hand massages weren't bad either! (Whipstock at the Velvet Grand).

And what happens when you're tired of dressng cowboy for the week... and tired of roasting in thick Wrangler jeans, long shirts, and boots? Go Floridian. These are the Allan Edmonds shoes I got of eBay for $25... and they're actually from Florida. I bet they pulled them off a retiree who had a heart attack on the golf course.

Monday, 9 July 2007

I aspire to more free time on my hands for the remainder of summer after this one is out too.

Advantage Energy Income Fund acquires Sound Energy Trust through a business combination CALGARY, July 9 /CNW/ - Advantage Energy Income Fund (TSX: AVN.UN, NYSE: AAV) ("Advantage" or the "Fund") and Sound Energy Trust (TSX: SND.UN) ("Sound") are pleased to announce that their respective boards of directors have approved a business combination of Sound and Advantage. The combined trust will continue to operate under the name Advantage Energy Income Fund, and will be led by the existing Advantage management team.

The transaction will be accomplished through a Plan of Arrangement (the "Arrangement") by the exchange of each Sound trust unit ("Sound Unit") for 0.30 of an Advantage trust unit ("Advantage Unit") or, at the election of the holder of Sound Units, $0.66 in cash and 0.2557 of an Advantage Unit. In addition, all Sound Exchangeable Shares will be exchanged for Advantage Units on the same ratio based on the conversion ratio in effect at the effective date of the Arrangement. The transaction exchange ratio reflects a premium to Sound Unitholders of 11.3% based on the respective closing price for each trust on July 6, 2007.

The transaction is accretive to Advantage's Unitholders on a production, cash flow, reserves and net asset value basis and will significantly increase Advantage's tax pool position to a total of approximately $1.6 billion, and Safe Harbour expansion room is anticipated to be approximately $2.0 billion. Sound's higher oil weighting, synergy with many of Advantage's core properties
and significant undeveloped land holdings of approximately 400,000 net undeveloped acres will further enhance the operating platform of Advantage. Sound Unitholders will receive a significant premium to recent trading prices and the opportunity to participate in a larger, more liquid entity with long-life, high-netback assets leading to better diversification. The combined
trust will have an estimated enterprise value of $2.7 billion and maintain the current Advantage distribution of $0.15 per unit per month. Successful completion of the Arrangement is subject to stock exchange, court and regulatory approvals and the approval by at least two-thirds of
Sound's Unitholders and Sound Exchangeable Shareholders. It is anticipated that the Sound Unitholder meeting required to approve the Arrangement will be held, and the Arrangement is expected to close, in September 2007, and that Sound Unitholders will receive Advantage's September distribution payable on October 15, 2007. An information circular prepared by Sound is expected to be mailed to Sound Unitholders in early August 2007.

Benefits of the Transaction
- Accretive to Advantage Unitholders on a production, cash flow, reserves and net asset value per unit basis while offering Sound Unitholders a significant premium to recent trading prices and the opportunity to participate in an entity with complementary long-life, high-netback assets and improved sustainability;
- Improves Advantage's payout ratio;
- Excellent property fit among Advantage's and Sound's core areas provides substantial operating synergies for the proforma trust. The combined entity will have a significant prospect inventory and an undeveloped land position of approximately 760,000 net acres, providing significant growth opportunities, complementary winter/summer drilling programs, a reduction in general administration costs, and further control and synergies in the common combined
- All Unitholders will benefit through the addition of Sound's tax pools of approximately $418 million, a 35% increase, for combined tax pools in excess of approximately $1.6 billion, which will be one of the highest in the sector relative to market capitalization;
- The combined entity is estimated to have a 2007 exit rate production of approximately 35,000 to 36,500 boe/d weighted 65% natural gas and 35% light oil and NGLs and have an enterprise value of approximately $2.7 billion, greatly enhancing liquidity to Sound Unitholders;
- The Arrangement will provide Sound Unitholders with greater exposure to U.S. capital markets through Advantage's NYSE listing, an increased weighting in the Canadian indices, as well as greater access to capital;
- The combined entity will have a Proved plus Probable Reserve Life Index ("RLI") of approximately 11.8 years using estimated 2007 exit rate production and December 31, 2006 reserves;
- Sound's 2007 natural gas hedging of approximately 54% of their net production at a floor price of $7.87/Mcf provides further cash flow protection and complements Advantage's active hedging program.

Upon closing of this transaction, the pro forma entity is expected to have the following key parameters:

Advantage Pro Forma
Key Operating and Financial Information Acquisition of Sound
Estimated 2007 exit rate production (boe/d)(1) 35,000 - 36,500
65% Natural Gas
35% Oil and NGLs
Estimated operating costs ($/boe) $11.50 to $12.50
Estimated royalty rates ~20%
Reserve Estimates(2)
Proved (MMboe) 98.7
Proved plus Probable (MMboe) 153.7
Reserve Life Index (Proved plus Probable)(3) ~11.8 years
Estimated 2007 Capital Program $145 - $165 million
Net Undeveloped Land 760,000 acres
Bank Debt at March 31, 2007 $461.9 million
Convertible Debentures at March 31, 2007 $278.3 million
Estimated Enterprise Value $2.7 billion
Monthly distribution per Trust Unit $0.15
Estimated Trust Units outstanding(4) 135 million
at the Arrangement closing date

(1) Subject to commodity price trends and remaining year capital allocation
(2) Based on the evaluations of the independent engineering evaluators of both Advantage and Sound as at December 31, 2006 (compliant with National Instrument 51-101)
(3) Using estimated exit rate production
(4) Based on all unit transaction.

Andy Mah, President & COO of Advantage, and Tom Stan, President & CEO of Sound, commented: "We are very excited by the strong synergies that the respective asset bases and combined corporate strategies will provide. Advantage's high quality assets have desirable long-life characteristics and plentiful drilling opportunities which, when combined with Sound's
complementary properties and operational synergies, will create a very attractive vehicle to deliver unitholder value."

Board Recommendations
The Board of Directors of both Advantage and Sound have approved the Arrangement. The Board of Directors of Sound has concluded that the transaction is in the best interest of the Sound Unitholders and has resolved to recommend that unitholders of Sound vote their units in favour of the Arrangement. All the Directors of Sound have agreed to support the transaction.

The Arrangement prohibits Sound from soliciting or initiating any discussion regarding any other business combination or sale of material assets, contains provisions to Advantage to match competing, unsolicited proposals and, subject to certain conditions, provides for a $12 million
termination fee.

Financial Advisors
FirstEnergy Capital Corp. is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Sound with respect to this transaction and has advised the Board of Directors of Sound that subject to review of definitive legal agreements, they are of the opinion, as of the date hereof, that the consideration to be received by the Sound Unitholders is fair, from a financial point of view, to Sound Unitholders.

Joint Conference Call
The management of Advantage and Sound will host a joint conference call to discuss the proposed transaction on Monday, July 9, 2007 beginning at 11:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time (1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). The conference call can be accessed toll-free at 1.800.732.9303 or, in the Toronto area, at 416.644.3424. A replay of the call will be available for 14 days and can be accessed toll-free at 1.877.289.8252 or, in the Toronto area, at 416.640.1917. To access the replay, please enter pass code 21240229, followed by the pound sign. A live web cast of the conference call will be accessible via the Internet on Advantage's Web site at and on Sound's Web site at

BOEs may be misleading, particularly if used in isolation. In accordance with NI 51-101, a BOE conversion ratio for natural gas of 6 Mcf: 1 bbl has been used which is based on an energy equivalency conversion method primarily applicable at the burner tip and does not represent a value equivalency at the wellhead.

The information in this press release contains certain forward-looking statements. These statements relate to future events or our future performance. All statements other than statements of historical fact may be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often, but not always, identified by the use of words such as "seek", "anticipate", "plan",
"continue", "estimate", "expect", "may", "will", "project", "predict", "potential", "targeting", "intend", "could", "might", "should", "believe", "would" and similar expressions. These statements involve substantial known and unknown risks and uncertainties, certain of which are beyond Advantage's and Sound's control, including: the impact of general economic conditions;
industry conditions; changes in laws and regulations including the adoption of new environmental laws and regulations and changes in how they are interpreted and enforced; fluctuations in commodity prices and foreign exchange and interest rates; stock market volatility and market valuations; volatility in market prices for oil and natural gas; liabilities inherent in oil and natural gas operations; uncertainties associated with estimating oil and natural gas reserves; competition for, among other things, capital, acquisitions, of reserves, undeveloped lands and skilled personnel; incorrect assessments of the value of acquisitions; changes in income tax laws or changes in tax laws and incentive programs relating to the oil and gas industry and income trusts; geological, technical, drilling and processing problems and other difficulties in producing petroleum reserves; and obtaining required approvals of regulatory authorities. Advantage's and Sound's actual results, performance or achievement could differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, such forward-looking statements and, accordingly, no assurances can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur or, if any of them do, what benefits that Advantage and Sound will derive from them. Except as required by law, Advantage and Sound undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Mental Note - 5 weeks till TransRockies

Just got the update email from the organizers yesterday. 5 weeks left means no more time to "waste". My fitness is lurking around, but I want to buff it up a bit in the next three weeks.

Stayed till midnight last night, working on getting my "last" project out the door. After that, it's nothing but Stampede and biking.

Let's hope there's no more project delays!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Jon's Birthday

Kelley Nutbrown organized paintball for Jon's birthday... at the same place I'd played paintball about 5 years ago (yes, with 5 years of paintball abstinence in between). I was impressed at the turnout, and I was impressed at how many girls came along for the battle... I hadn't expected so many girls to view running around in camouflage coveralls through the bush and shooting each other as a preferred way to spend their day. Nothing says celebration of another birthday like some mock warfare with weapons that actually hurt enough to want to avoid getting hit.

I think we played 5 games in all. People have always said that paintball is expensive, but it's on par with a day skiing or golfing (I'd actually say it was less expensive), although you're not eating with silver utensils at the countryclub after by any means. I tried to go for an upscale weapon, but it didn't really live up to it's promise. The gun, 400 paintballs, 2 Powerades, and as many open fire roasted hot-dogs and iced tea crystals as I could mix cost me $67.

And best of all, I'm relatively welt free!

After paintball, Jon, Kelley and I headed back to Shawn's condo for some chili - he's practicing for a stampede chili cookoff and wanted recipe feedback. I'm never one to turn down free food, and it was darn good chili!

Century, Sunday

I haven't been doing much back to back riding, and I certainly haven't been doing very long rides if I have ridden two days in a row (does commuting even count??).

My buddy Matt Joss is training for Ironman Canada, and wanted to do a Century ride the day after mountain bike provincials. Sounded like a good idea to me. Riding with a triathlete appealed as they're steady pace riders for the most part, which is what was looking for in an endurance ride.

The 5.5 hour summary is this - I felt good until about 3 hours, or the point where I was 50% past any of my recent rides in terms of duration. Then I felt cruddy for about an hour, which was replaced by feeling decent and tired at the end. We covered a few new roads that I hadn't been on before, which were just beautiful. I'd definitely like to spend some more time south of the city, searching for the best paved, low traffic, scenic rural roads, that I can enjoy with barely a car passing by.

After a 30 minute nap, Dallas and I went over to Mike Mckee's new place for a BBQ. I think the couple glasses of wine stunted my recovery... either that or I just totally overreached this weekend.

Terwillegar Park, Edmonton

The provincial championship mountain bike race has been held in the same spot for 2 years now, and I have to say I really like the course. There were a few modifications year over year, but for the most part, it's the same - good technical sections, enough space to pass, and short 4-5 short to medium length climbs per lap depending on how exactly you want to count them.

As my carpoolmates can attest to, I wasn't "energetic" or "talkative" on the way up. I was tired and burnt out. Having said that, I felt I had a reasonable race, given the circumstances. I'd rather show up and have an OK race, and thus keep my toe in the water of the mountain bike crowd, than just skip out all together.

I finished up 5th, with really all the time being lost in the last lap and a half, as I was momentarily riding with the leader at about the "lap 4.75" point, if you can call it that. Funny how you can fade when a 2 hour race is stretching the bounds of how long a ride you've done in the last few months.

My carpoolmate, Shawn Bunnin, finished 2nd overall in Elite, and Dallas DNF'd after starting the race with his bum knee, finding out it worked, then crashing and feeling content not to risk any further injury. Jon Nutbrown finished 4th in Elite, which I believe was one of his best showings of the year.

Preparation for Provincial Mountain Bike Championships

It seems the provincial mountain bike championships have been arranged about a month earlier this year. Last year they were held a couple weeks after TransRockies, which gave me the benefit of 7 days of intense riding, plus two weeks of recovery.

This year, my plan has included very little riding, and lots of desk sitting and stress. The race is scheduled for Saturday, June 30. Coincidentally, our 6 month bonus/review day was Thursday the 28th. This laid the groundwork for less than stellar preparation, as bonus day requires a last man standing approach to a restaurant/bar binge. We spent about 5 hours racking up a respectable wine tab at the River Cafe on Prince's Island Park, then switched to the Yardhouse on 17th Ave. Robyn and I had to depart part way through the evening to head back for a CCS conference call, last of the necessary approvals before the press release as blogged prior. Before we left, armwrestling contests and associated betting were going in earnest. I made several people a few hundred dollars by beating an MD, although I never saw any of the cash myself unfortunately.

After the 90 minute break for the call, we rejoined the group at Mercury until the wee hours. I ended up with our summer student and most junior analyst at the Wicked Wedge gobbling spicy pizza at 2am.

Naturally, I awoke at 6, unable to go back to sleep. I don't sleep in well when I've been drinking, and it worked out well with all the CCS inspired email traffic that morning - did about an hour on the computer remotely from home then commuted in.

I had expected to head out at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon to pack up for the race, and most importantly catch up on sleep. However, work found a way of stringing itself out to 10pm that night, in a rather interesting and unconventional manner which can be done in story form a few weeks from now.

Not the ideal training regime/pre race preparation for a mountian bike race!