Saturday, 27 December 2008
Binnenhof is the Dutch parliament building or something like that, it's a big old looking castle type thing with a lake out front, hopefully the attached picture comes through. Rather picturesque, lot's of ducks and white swans hanging out there. We only wandered in a maybe a 5km radius from Haag Centraal where the train dropped us off, so I can't speak for the suburbs, but something about this place tells me there aren't too many rough neighbourhoods nearby. Up and down the quaint to our north American eyes streets, the building office signs were dominated by international consulate offices and other rich or high society sounding places. Everything is ship shape, I haven't seen anything (here or Amsterdam) yet that's derilect, run crummy or even run down.
Once 10:00 came we went for breakfast - original Dutch pancakes for Tori and I had a fried egg sandwich. We washed that down with 2 coffees and 2 hot chocolates and had a grand time relaxing.
11am was when the Maurits Cornelis Escher museum opened. I think we spent a full three hours in there, talk about a cool place. Not only did we get to see his life's work, but also videos, computer simulations/decompositions that illustrate the logical jumps that created his work that are impossible (for me) to see without animations bringing them to life, after which they're still basically impossible to grasp. There's also computers to play with and a floor of hands on activities and videos (mini wraparound imax style screen) to bring it to life and help understand it. To say it was a mind stretching experience is probably an understatement, it was so awesome. The final touch was that the ceiling lights in the basement cafe were giant blown glass bugs.
The ride home let us sight see more. Nice farmland, nice bike paths along the train line, lots of garden plots along the train tracks, and of course it's full of canals and dykes. Pretty neat to see the amount of effort put into maintaining the land and country.
Evening we went for a pizza at an Italian restaurant wanted to go, then just chilled out for a few hours. Big day, we were tired at the end of the day.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Watched a packed skating rink but didn't join the melee, played around on a bike skateboard ramp without a skateboard, went for coffee in Vondelpark, window shopped, drank more coffee, etc.
Tori said she likes seeing all the women riding bikes in nylons and high heels. Although we might be approaching this from different angles, I'm glad we agree on something. Among many other neat-o people watching moments, we saw a family of 5 on two bikes, dad had two kids in a low bucket thing on both sides of front wheel and one on a seat over back wheel, mom just had the one on back. Rather impressive over minivans and SUVs. Nobody wears helmets, I'd suspect the crash rate is low - the cars know there's more bikes than cars, the bikes have their own lanes, and they have way more roads to go on anyway since many of the streets are too small for cars. People don't go too fast on those bikes either.
We watched a little Chinese kid (they seem to spell it Chinees I think here, rather phonetic if I'm remebering the restaurant signs right) playing an old guy at chess on a life size chess board in a square. Fun to watch for a while.
After that Tori got her first ginger coffee while we took a relaxing break from our tough day of walking around and relaxing.
The plethora of city bikes is cool, lots of them have crappy sounding gears. This seems like an ideal place for that NuVinci friction fluid internal "geared" without gears hub to catch on. The bikes are utilitarian, which is fine - they don't need to be blingy - but they all seem to crummily maintained. Too many flats or underinflated tires. Too much squeak and rattle. Like, even if it's "just" a utility bike, I'd tighten up those rack bolts, throw some lube on the chain, and pump up my tires.
We stopped at a mini grocery store in the airport to pick up a few items to insure ourselves for food in case stores were closed on Christmas. Calling it a convenience store would be only half accurate - it was convenient, but it's goods wouldn't fit into a 7-11. Natural unsweetened juices, salads, produce, baked goods, cheeses, and a couple of chocolates, but not chocolate bars really. Healthy stuff like a grocery store.
From there we went to the train station. My pre trip research showed taxis to downtown were like €40, but the train went to 150m from our hotel (another way of saying I tried to pick a hotel close to the Amsterdam Centraal station), and the train is €3.60 and takes 15 minutes with no stops. It's simple to take once you're on the right platform, but considering it looks like we can get anywhere in the country via train from the airport, it took a while to figure it out.
I always like arriving here and being reminded that part of my brain is vastly inferior and underdeveloped - the langauge part that is. Yes we all speak Dutch here, but yes once you say Hi to us we'll just accomodate you with perfect English, or French, or German too.
Downtown is nice on our first walkaround. Lots of tourist stuff availabl, seems busy, and no worries of not having stores open. The foods/restaurants available remind us that this city has a long, long history of world commerce, the variety is impressive.
Despite me oogling all the pancake houses, we got some sort of food I haven't had before, don't really know what it's called. Kind of Mexican.
Walked past some churches on the side of the red light district back to our hotel for a good night's sleep.
I've finally learned to layer enough to survive the thermostat they always seem to set to "roast these poor people" on planes, I wore a very light cycling Defeet undershirt as my first layer so I could peel right down to that. Whomever runs the thermostat obviously hasn't been biking to work the last two weeks in -25C weather!
I'm totally digging the carry on luggage thing, I need to find a way to do that with a bike, maybe send it in advance. Airports are way less of a hassle that way. The new Timex is all plastic and is one less thing I have to take off to go through the scanners, now all I need to find is a lexan belt buckle.
We're flying home with the flat beds too through Frankfurt, I'm pumped.
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Then before I knew it, bonus day snuck up on me. This year wasn't a pink slip, and it wasn't a boom market cheque like the past. I wonder sometimes if it really even matters.
Then I had a few fun parties this weekend, including Warren's annual tacky sweater party, where I saw some friends who have all come home for the holidays, but who aren't here often.
Next thing I know, Tori and I booked a trip to Amsterdam, totally looking forward to it. I booked a hotel, and between a few online sites and contacting the hotel directly, we're paying about 40% of their posted nightly rate and also got upgraded a few levels on room quality. Hope that works out well, seems it's a sign of the times.
I did my last minute shopping, un-investment banker-like bonus spending like a new Timex Ironman watch and a new wallet to replace my aging "Bad Mother Fucker" Pulp Fiction replica. I also found a new shower/shave kit bag at the Bay that suited my liking in that it was quite trim, but it had no price tag. The lady sold it to me quite cheap by just making up a price.
Did a lunchtime workout, then went for a massage. Talk about a nice day so far. I was smiling as I laid down on the massage table because my new Timex has plastic straps instead of metal ones like my old one - that old one has been pulling the hairs on my wrist for 5 years. It's always the little things!
That's a Seinfeld like day of absolutely nothing happening of consequence in my life, and now we're boarding our flight.
Tori and I are looking forward to Christmas in a way we're unfamiliar with once again.
Monday, 15 December 2008
Saturday, 6 December 2008
We rode through Bowness, where a little slip caused trouble with Craig's derailleur housing. It shredded and gave no shifting support, although he made it to west of 22 before it needed attention. We fixed it well enough to keep going, and at that point Devin elected to turn around. Maybe his crystal ball was working.
We rode out to the Shell Jumpingpound gas plant, where I had a route figured out that clearly got us to a road I'd ridden before on my motorcycle. Unfortunately some detail was missed, so we put the "cross country" back in cross country. Well site roads, hay fields, cow trails, bushes, doubletrack, indian reserve, and hopefully staying on the right side of the elk/bison fence. I think it's safe to say this route to Cochrane had never beed ridden before - I also don't think it's ever taken me 3 hours to get to Cochrane.
2 mochachino's and a day old muffin got me going for the remainder of the ride, while Craig and Keith doubled up on cheese bun and carrot cake. It's funny, that was actually the only food I ate all ride, no on bike snacks or anything, the energy just flows from within. Rather pleasant actually. I feel way to good on the bike for this time of year, talk about odd timing.
We dragged Keith back home the scenic way - most of the route was new to him... Retreat Road, Glendale Road, Symon's Valley. Not a bad change of scenery for a day's ride to the same town we ride to all summer long.
My door to door time was about 5.5 hours of riding time, I'm not sure what the hike a bike section added up to. Sun up to sun down.
Unprecedented route for an unprecedented day!
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Since Saturday was so fun, our natural inclination was to repeat the experience on Sunday. Some other plans fell by the wayside, but what didn't change was meeting at 10am at Cadence Cafe on bikes. We decided to ride the Calgary bike paths south until that didn't seem prudent anymore, eventually finding ourselves further south than I'd been on our path system. We cut through Fish Creek and tackled some technical single track on the 'cross bikes to work on our skills, then stopped for coffee at Java Jungle for a refuel. The way home wound through the south Calgary path system, then veered onto Princess Island for as much single track as us and our bikes could handle. There were a few hills that required some effort, but all in it was a less taxing day physically than battling the winds Saturday.
Enjoyable on all fronts. Other than the last few minutes of each day as the sun set, I didn't feel a chill all weekend, the weather has been so mild so far this fall. Riding more and eating reasonably is what I'm looking for this time of year!
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Our evening was more upbeat... After dinner at Vertical Restaurant we went over to The Reservoir, a Jazz dive a few blocks from the hotel. We listened from only a few feet away to Juno winning Tyler Yarema and the Rhythm. It's amazing to see musicians up close, especially ones of pure talent a few levels above just bar crooners.
I also had the opportunity to catch up with Matthew Allas (ex co worker) and Mike Mckee (ex TransRockies parter), great to touch base with both of them. Wasn't able to meet up with a university buddy, otherwise it would have been a 100% batting average. Got the download on the local private equity mood and the derivative/strucutred products mood, but missed the research coverage on financials view.
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
We started very calmly. We rode with Tori until the first real hill, and I spent time riding with Mark (Marco?) who's the Dutch fellow living in Curacao with the Moots with Rohloff 26" version. He even has the S&S couplers, I just didn't notice before.
On the first road climb Pat and I started moving up the field. He was riding strong and took a few pulls. I pulled lightly, my heart felt like it was working hard even when I was just standing around, like I had a few too many glasses of wine the night before or something.
On the first climb we split up - I didn't know if he was ahead or behind, but turns out he was behind. Once we got into the mud, he came flying by like he meant serious business, grunting and saying "lodo". That was probably the three hour mark, I never saw him again.
It was slightly overcast, and not as wet as we would have imagined. At check stop 1 I had drank half a camel back and one bottle, so I refilled. Between checkstop one and two, I ran out of water (2L camelback + 750 bottle). I was trying to pace and eat smart, and felt pretty good up until the 5 hour mark.
At about 5 hours, purgatory set in. I knew this year I'd be facing the truth test without much backup, as I'd been training little and eating too much. I was willing to pay the price for that, although I underestimated how bad that would end up feeling. I'm used to riding to the limits of my legs or lungs. The next step is riding to the limits of your mind, where you coax yourself onward by rational logic. I spent much of today beyond that in the "soul" stage where it's something much more gutteral that keeps you moving onward. The part I wasn't ready for was that I didn't get a single revolution out of my granny ring today. It was fine for the last couple of days of pre-riding, but today it was a chain suck machine. So not only am I undertrained and overweight, going into a day of the most climbing one can possibly do on a mountain bike, but now I'm forced to middle ring it.
The jungle hike a bike was challenging, a few spots where the mud fully packed up even my skinny 1.8" tire. Lots of "skiing" downhill where wheel traction was non existent and it was more just general direction. Once we got to the hike-a-bike hills, I started cramping, and simultaneously came up on Craig, who was feeling empty (vast understatement) from his recent food poisoning. We were within sight of each other for a few minutes, but my cramping and lack of granny gear had me going backwards fast. The heat, running out of water, and overgearing was ruining my legs.
Once we exited the jungle, I coasted luxuriously down the gravel roads on my full suspension... but the glory was short lived. After crossing a bridge at the bottom of the river, it's a steep gravel climb up toward check stop 3. Lots of people were lining the climb, and part way up with their cheering I made up my mind that I was going to ride it no matter what (maybe about Cochrane hill sized). It was a plan of short term pride with longer term consequences. I bonked so hard at the top I sat in the bushes in the shade and tried not to lose my marbles completely. Eventually it dawned on me that the day's biggest climb was only about 2km away, and sitting here wasn't doing much in the way of moving me toward the finish.
I rolled onward and found a surprise at check stop 3. Craig had waited and snacked so we could ride together for a while. We traded stories of suffering as we progressed slowly up the giant road climb. I was slowly wearing into my thin reserves, and promised myself I wouldn't stop forward momentum until I got to theck stop 4 at the top. If I needed to stop there I would. We passed a tico I recognized from every other year dry heaving at the side of the road 2/3 of the way up. With my brush with feeling ill yesterday, Craig's full bout, and mine last week, it was hard to watch.
Eventually Craig stomped on the pedals and took off, meanwhile I was fending off another bonk, as my caloric output on the hill was probably 5% higher than my digestive tract's absorption rate, and I hadn't really caught up at the earlier checkpoint. My mind was in spiritual la la land. I kept remembering really wierd things, and also that Tori reminded me to always think back to where she might be on the course too. A tico supporter gave me some dulces (sweets/cookies) which helped propel me to the top.
After what seemed like forever, check point 4 was in sight. The girl gave me a bottle of water and I put a Nuun's in. I felt like I wasn't digesting all the sugars I was ingesting. I drank the entire 750ml bottle in 30 seconds, then laid on my back and briefly nodded off.
Two things happened that woke me in a hurry. The town church bell started ringing 12 noon, and a Costa Rican cowboy came galloping up the gravel road off to the side on a horse. Being in a brief restless sleep, my mind put the bells and the hooves into the image of the grim reaper riding a black horse coming for me. Bonking minds are funny things. I got up, grabbed a pocket full of hot mini potatoes, and started riding to finish off the remaining tip of the climb.
The downhill is blazing fast. First pavement, then gravel, then ultra steep concrete switchbacks. I was riding behind a kid who'll be known as Juan Nutbrown, as he's young, smaller, and runs soft setup tubeless so he can descend like a total animal. On the high speed straight gravel I couldn't keep up to him. I was about 15m behind when I see two dogs run out from the side of the road right in front of him. I thought I was going to witness him ending up in half a dozen different pieces, as we were moving pretty much at terminal velocity.
His reflexes had him wheelie, and he ran over and maimed the second dog. It pulled itself off the road quickly with its front paws as its rear legs were immobile. It started jerking funny in the ditch. He slowed down and his eyes were as big as saucers... turns out he is number 88, Chinese good luck.
The final climb firmly did me in. I had no legs, no energy left, wasn't digesting what was in me and was just getting bloated in the heat. I had to stop and ask some ticos for some water and I sat down to collect my wits. Eventually I was able to ride/hike the remainder and made it the last 5km (which I'd been hearing for the last 15km from people on the sides).
At the finish I went and laid down on a lawnchair in the rain for 5 minutes before doing anything else. I got crushed by this thing again. I spent about 4.5 out of my 9.5 hours out there in the bonk-mystic land. My legs are thrashed from overgearing for 12,000 feet of climbing or whatever that crazy number is. Once I got my proverbial shit together, I walked down to drop my bike off at the mechanics. Saw a dude in an ambulance but I didn't have the stomach to view that kind of thing at that point.
On the way back up from the mechanic tent, Gerry's girlfriend Sylvia asked me to take Pat's bag up to the bag tent. I asked why, and she pointed to the same ambulance. Pat was convulsing away uncontrolably, and Trish was there with her eyes wide in disbelief. They couldn't get an IV into him, plus his bood sugar was super low on whatever scale that's measured on. It hurt to look at, especially since I was feeling weak, and I've seen so much succumbing amongst the strong these last few days. I took the bag away, tried to take in Sylvia's instructions of giving other items to our crew as they finish, and can only hope it works out in short order. It's been a tough trip so far for Pat and Trish.
Andy looked fresh at the finish and had a super ride, as did his brother Matt. Gerry and Steve survived. Craig did well given his empty tank and recent illness to work with. SuperTori came in sounding chipper, in the same rough time as last year, despite the course running about an hour longer and bending her derailleur hangar/getting her derailleur replaced by the ever helpful Tim (who unfortunately was having hip issues and stopped at checkpoint one, where he helped Tori).
The most common thing I heard at the finish line was "that was the hardest day I've ever had on a bike" (or just the hardest day period). On climb after climb I felt like a rock falling through the ocean - I'd hit bottom eventually, just didn't know when it would be.
It's raining outside our hotel in San Jose and we'll be up at 5 for day 2. This features the steepest road climbs I've ever seen. If I don't have a working granny gear I'm in big trouble. One way to understand how hard the stage's climbing is is to note that the first check stop and aid station is 8.4km into the day.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
Yesterday we joked around that if he beat Roberto Heras, he might just have to hang up the bike and use that to tell tall tales about, but it wasn't expected to happen so quickly.
Today's weather and stage were great. I enjoyed the day more or less from start to finish, but I had a really hard start. I wanted to sit down for a while and take in the view, but I managed to spin easy for a while until feeling crummy passed.
When I'm fit my body responds to efforts day after day, here it's taking a little more coaxing... it's a painful event to try to ride into form. Having said that, I did find a little power after the first hour such that the last 2 hours of the climb were a little more fun.
All the crew finished and will have their tales, but today wasn't epic (other than the size of the climb/descent)... but no crazy weather or mud or heat or wrong turns from anyone I've spoken to. Just a hammerfest bike race along the side of the country's biggest mountain. Fun!
Gang chilled in the pool and is now getting ready for dinner - surprise! - rice, beans, plantains and 2 meats to chose from. Same as breakfast and dinner all week.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Making it through the gauntlet of Day 1 was well worth it. Today was the most beautiful day of Costa Rican cycling I've ever had. Relative to last years Day 2, there's more climbing, and more of it is steeper. It's mind boggling. The first climb was absolutely killer. My granny gear worked perfect, so I decided to try to ride everything. I paid the price at the end for the novelty of cleaning everything, but it was fun riding the super steeps. We were rewarded with blue sky views all day (which came with a little extra heat on our backs). The first climb also had a singletrack descent.
The second climb was just as long and challenging as last time, but I used the middle section to rest up, so I had fun grinding away up the mountain. The Day 2 finish is also much more sane.
Barring odd mechanicals or the like, all our crew will finish. Cory Wallace blazed in very close to Roberto Heras - very impressive to say the least.
Actually studying the profile of today is interesting - it's mind boggling how straight up and straight down this stage is.
The guy who came in 3rd today is basically unknown, even in
ClimbingCraig had a good day, and I think he really enjoyed the sightseeing, competition and the crazy terrain. It's all so much more fun when you're feeling normal.
Also no updated information regarding Pat. We're assuming he's recovering fine maybe watching the race coverage on TV.
Spoke to Gerry's girlfriend Sylvia this morning. She rode in the ambulance with Pat and Trish. First stop was a medical clinic of some sort where they said they couldn't do anything. Second stop was the hospital, but the ambulance got lost on i's way there. They finally sedated him so they could do IV's and such. He'll be fine, but it'll be 2 days in hospital. They both stayed there last night.
Apparently his camel back blew at Checkpoint 3 so he was finishing with less water than he otherwise would have taken.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
- Trish did not start as she is sick.
- Craig started, finished very respectably considering he's running on an empty tank. He waited for me for 15 minutes at Checkstop 2. Then we rode much of the big paved climb together.
- I'm here in one piece. I went through all levels of purgatory out there. I was ready to face it though, considering I'm undertrained and overweight. What I wasn't ready for was having to do this stage without a functioning granny ring. Last few days it was fine. Today I couldn't get any more than 1 rotation before chain suck.
- Andy finished strong and rode strong all day.
- Lastly, Pat is en-route to hospital. Convulsing in back of ambulance, they can't get an IV into him. Dehydrated and low blood sugar. Hard man with no off switch pushed really, really hard.
-He and I rode together at the start. He did some good road pulls, then I didn't see him for a while on the first climb. He passed me in the mud looking super strong, grunting and saying "lodo, lodo" (mud).
- Gerry finished well and was beat and tired but nothing unusual.
- Steve had a tiring day but no huge issues.
- Tori crossed the line looking fresh as a daisy, same time as last year, despite the average time being about an hour longer, and a broken derailleur/hangar that Tim/Gerry both worked on at different times.
- Tim made it to Checkstop 1 then stopped with a hip ailment.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Everyone seemed to survive the gargantuan burritors at JacoTaco last night, even if 2lbs of burrito weren't exactly what we needed for dinner. Craig and Trish did not eat with the rest of us. Gerry spent some time talking to Diego, and when Gerry asked if Diego thought the course would be "ok" he just made a cringing face and turned around. He said "days 2-4 might be ok". He said "It's been raining hard right up to November 10th, for last year when it was dry, it stopped at the start of November."
This morning we slept in, ate breakfast, and we cheered when we saw Trish with a plate of food. Registration followed and was quick, easy and efficient. Saw Craig at registration looking better but not 100%, said he'd been able to eat a bit in the last while. Based on his appearance there (he's staying at another hotel with Steve so we aren't seem him as frequently) I'd say he'll be at the start line for sure, but maybe not feeling exactly in line with how he'd prefer feeling. After that we grouped up to ride. Andy's got a sweet new Rocky Mountain carbon hard tail which we all spent a few minutes reviewing... then it was off to last year's day one climb again. Pat said Trish had a bit of a relapse and spent a portion of the day napping inside.
Pat and Andy battled it out for a while, with Gerry and Matt Hanford chasing. I managed to catch Gerry when he pulled over to the side to stop... which is evidence of two things: he's climbing strong and on the flipside I'm not feeling all that hot. There must be something performance enhancing in those Imperial Cervezas.After another 10 minutes or so uphill, Matt and I waited for Pat and Andy to return, then we all coasted back down to the hotel. I quickly packed up everything for the race, then went up to the lunch buffet to meet the gang. Tori did a different ride but got back right when we did.
Lunch was uneventful, just a bunch of bike talk and tall tales. Afternoon consisted of sitting around and doing more of the same - just about nothing. Spotted a guy with a Moots YBB with a Rohloff hub, but 26" wheels and no S&S couplers. Made me contemplate mine a bit - in some ways the robust design and lack of maintenance will serve him well, but I couldn't bring myself to bring one here with the severe grades (ie. weight counts, which is why I wish I had a few less dinner at the desk nights in the last month) and the slight internal friction loss. Even today on the pre-ride, my "self cooling" threshold was kicking in in granny or 2nd gear.
When 3pm rolled around, I start feeling my face go white, and lost any interest in chatting. I'm burping a bit too, classic sign the digestive track has set up a roadblock. Trish came by looking more spry, and said I looked pale. Lunch was good, but any doubt that enters your mind starts building on itself... maybe that salad bar? My meat choice was the buffet container labelled (I kid you not) "Mexican Meat" which sounds a bit ominous in retrospect, but it was seeminly well cooked beef.
The other notable 3pm event was the thundershowers that rolled in. Combined with Diego's above comments on it taking a while to dry out (meaning a week or more ideally), heavy thundershowers today don't bode well. Gerry observed "at least we can't see the top of the mountains this way". It's been over an hour of steady, hard rain. It's going to be epic. If I can by luck not have my innards stage a revolt, I'm fully up for a 10+ hour epic jungle/hillclimb/rain trek. On the flip side, I'm not at all up for an epic day on a tile bathroom floor.
I bumped into a nice fellow from Washington named Brett. In making small talk walking across the hotel, he asked what I thought the rain meant. I said "long, tough day tomorrow probably". He's here first time and said he just wanted to finish the day, and asked for tips. I shared my plan for tomorrow - ride the first [pick a number] say 6 hours at a pace that you're covering ground but not stressing yourself out too much, don't worry about the people around you. If you feel peppy after that mark, speed up. If not, just keep the same pace. The second part was love every bit of it that's thrown your way. There'll be the guys cursing their chains and gears and such, but honestly, you can't expect a bike to work perfectly in this. So just exercise the memory banks and fill in all the crazy things that happen to you out there. There's crazy shit that happens to everyone out there, that's why we came.
I hope I can remember that stuff myself tomorrow! I hope to see Brett finish, he seemed both excited at the ride ahead and anxious with the rain thundering down around us.
As of about 4:30pm I'm feelingevenly at 50/50. I'm trying to guage my inner senses, but I can't guess which way this one will go right now. The fact that I don't just feel 100% normal is worrysome enough. Other than that, I feel relaxed and cool as a cucumber. Earlier this month I felt the need to offload all self expectation just to keep my overall life stress load in check, and on that front it seems I've succeeded.
Monday, 10 November 2008
We played in the ocean for a while, sat around the pool, and went out for dinner... all pretty tame. The only bad news from yesterday is that Pat's bag of clothes didn't make it, but news today is that American Airlines has delivered it to San Jose. Supposedly it'll arrive here today. Melissa from BC Bike Race gave him a jersey and some socks, and Gerry and I said we'd lend extra shorts, so he should be fine... although I am trying to talk him into doing his inagural La Ruta in Heart Akerson's footsteps.
I had a restless sleep last night; I was fine with the heat during the day (it's not overly hot), but at night I just couldn't nod off properly. Eventually I soaked a bunch of towels and slept under those, so my entire bed was soaking wet. Delightfully refreshing - at these temperatures anyway. Once we geared up to ride, I had a new experience with ocean water draining from my head. After our hour in the waves, apparently I became waterlogged. When I was bending over near the water cooler to fill up my bottle, sea water just started dripping off the tip of my nose. I could feel it draining down from my sinuses, and it actually felt pretty good. I walked over by the garden plants and bent over with my head down for a while... my skull was pretty water logged. Despite some Spaniards a couple rooms down gearing up for their morning ride with kneewarmers, we figured we could make it through our ride without them. Gerry and I were laughing too when we saw them polishing up their fancy bikes - 3 Cannondale Carbon Rush's and one 2009 S-Works Epic. One guy was even squatting down so he could see the top tube properly in the morning sun to make sure it had the proper gleam on it. Clearly they have little idea of the thrashing those bikes are about to experience.
This morning we rode part way up the first climb from last year's route - like riding in a steam room. I think the grades, heat, humidity and utter lack of air movement made an impression on the first timers. The girls went back to do some road riding. Craig hasn't been feeling well, lost his breakfast/dinner, and was looking rather pale, so he turned around with Steve and went back. Thomas, Pat and I rode up a few more minutes before riding back to town. At home I climb at whatever pace my legs and lungs can dish out, but here I run into a new ceiling - the ability to cool myself. I'm guessing on a climb like this morning's I'm riding at about 85% of what I might otherwise ride, with sweat streaming steadily off my nose. It'll feel good on the Volcano day to be able to ride at a temperature that's a little cooler.
Pat and I parked ourselves for a long lunch at the buffet, spending time talking to anyone who wandered by. Our friends and acquantainces are trickling in - Andy and Matt Hanford are here, Cory Wallace showed up, other Calgarians we haven't met before, and of course Drew and Joanne Bragg. Trish eventually came back from her ride as well, but she too isn't feeling good and couldn't eat lunch. Pat's logical guess traces it back to their van ride out yesterday, where they stopped for fruit, as the item he could thing of that would tie Trish and Craig's ailments together. Considering I had food poisoning just last week, I sympathize with their pale white faces. All I can say is that it's probably better this morning, still 2 days ahead of the race, possibly leaving time for a decent recovery. Tori and Gerry rode further along the highway, then got Tori's spoke tightened up at a local shop, and stopped for bugers. They're now having a cerveza on the patio in front of our rooms. They're quite complimentary for each other in terms of travel habits/preferences it seems.
Roberto Heras ate lunch a couple tables over from us, and now coincidentally he's browsing Spanish cycling web sites for the latest racing headlines at the computer next to me. I can see why he didn't slow down much on the grades of Europes biggest climbs, and why I look fat in my pants sitting next to him. There's not a lot of mass for gravity to work with. I might as well be sitting next to some skinny supermodel. I can't open another browser window to look up stats, but he's gotta be about 120lbs, if not a hair under. If there's pre-race armwrestling that spontaneously pops up at the dinner buffet, I'd put my money on Trish before him. The only thing skinnier in this room is the gecko stuck horizontally to the wall between us.
The mechanics aren't here yet, but the race guys called back to them to ask them to look around for a Mavic Lefty "hub cap" for me... right now my bearing is just open to the air on the 5mm allen key side. Before riding this morning I hacked up my room card and put a hole through the middle of it, such that it's a bit of a seal, but it makes quite a bit of friction, probably won't last all that long, and isn't really water tight either. I can't imagine it's a part that everyone just has lying around, but the call went to San Jose with an accurate description en Espanol so we'll see if they can rustle one up. Other than that, my gear is all present, accounted for and functioning.
Sounds like Svein Tuft is out, and the locals seem to thing Roberto Heras is due for second, they're all rooting for a tico who's name I'm unfamiliar with.
Tori and I are in the closest room to the check in, you'd think with this kind of royal location I'd be a UCI points leader of the world or something, but really it's just fluke. Sure feels nice to be placed so conveniently though.
The plan for tonight is for those of us who can tolerate food to meet up for Mexican at JacoTaco. Mmmm...
Sunday, 9 November 2008
Costa Rica felt welcoming, right from the moment the plane doors opened. Ahhh, that thick feeling high % humidity air and a temperature I haven't felt since summer. We had armpit stains on our t-shirts just from standing in line.
The customs in the airport is a model of efficiency, as well the Scotia Bank machine right in the luggage pickup area is all the banking I ever need to do in the country. Once we got all our luggage, the lineup to get out of the luggage area was enormous. They scan luggage through trolley based scanning machines before you can leave, but some practical minded employee took half the line, opened the gate to the left, took our last little paper full of official passenger details, and just let 50 people through. Outside past the gaggle of taxi drivers we found the guy with the magic sign for the Best Western shuttle, then stripped down to more comfortable layers of clothes (shorts, t-shirt, sandals). All the locals wear long pants and full shoes this time of year.
We easily found Craig at the hotel, and his/our new buddy Thomas Yip (Calgarian too). They had ridden earlier in the day to some questionable neigbourhoods, found a local mountain biker who took them to a shop, and witnessed rain hard enough that it set off car alarms... the joys of the tropics. While they (in their words) stared with saucer sized eyes outside at the unusual-to-them (or any dry climate person) spectacle, the ticos just watch them with amusement, for them it's just like any other afternoon. Witnessing that amount of rain "input" helps one begin to understand the tales of mud on the race course. It seems they're enjoying everything so far. I feel like being around people taking it in for the first time freshens up the perspective I'm able to take in as well... all the more enjoyable.
We grouped up at the bar out front of the hotel for a beer during happy hour, which, unlike home, was a free happy hour. Hard to beat that! We had a great group dinner, told tall tales, and drank some pisco. Our waiter liked Trish, and made an elaborate grasshopper by weaving some long leaves off a plant for a souvenir for her. Steve and Pat were supposed to arrive around midnight but didn't, they're en-route now but we don't know why their original flights weren't as scheduled.
This morning I opened the patio door then went back to snooze for a few more hours. Tori asked what it was like outside, and as I moved my arm in and out of the doorframe, my report was that there was absolutely no discernable difference between inside and outside. Ahh, the simple novelties of the tropics.
Just about to leave for Jaco - it's a beautiful day. We swam in the pool, had breakfast at Denny's, packed up, and are ready to depart.
I'm not feeling fast this go around, but I sure am soaking up the environment and the relaxation.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Through my browsing I came across a good quote from a particular writeup that stuck with me, and now I can't find the source.
"Muddy road of death you are my cruel mistress."
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Delirious and feeling disgusting, Bakke.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Sunday, 19 October 2008
I don't think I'm racing tomorrow. Somehwere along the way, Shawn registered as way more important than my $17 entry fee to the Gorilla run.
Devin's going to wake up late, as is Jon, Shawn, Claire, Bill, Phil, and Keith. That was a full night's effort!
Friday, 17 October 2008
This week wasn't a good week for business either, which is why a little Friday noon meeting felt better... investment banks are funny places. Things happen on Fridays that ruin weekend recreation, but that can turn the mood of a week around in a hurry. Such as the following:
From: [blanked out, but let's just say FirstEnergy's el Presidente]
Sent: Friday, October 17, 2008 11:30 AM
To: Erik B. Bakke
Subject: Company XYZ
Please meet me at their offices at noon. They "have some business for us".
Half hour countdown to hustle over. And post the lunch discussion, my weekend looks even fuller.
Work, trailbuilding with Jon, the Gorilla run, the deadgoat cyclocross race, and general La Ruta training are all vying for time. Something's going to have to give.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bob's hosting was fantastic, we were treated to gourmet meals every night. The pool and hot tub were icing on the cake. Buddy's continual attention to everyone's wellbeing was noted as noble service.
St. George even has it's own version of the fountain of youth. I rode the middle finger of the Three Fingers of Death. Whether it's the poetic symbolism or the simple act itself, that's living!
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
Sunday, 5 October 2008
After that it was coffee time at Shawn's house, the home for 3 hours of packing and moving furniture and heavy boxes.
From there it was time to head over to the university for the night cyclocross race. We watched the girls race which was well attended, and fun to watch Tori look like she meant business.
For the mens race, the first corner barrier tape got knocked over, then caught in my foot and pedal. By the time that got sorted out I was in last by a long margin. I think I passed 1-2 people a lap for a while from the tired Elites, and some of the fast Experts caught me too. I actually enjoyed the sprint through the three sand volleyball courts, that's where most of my passes were made.
After that we went down the the Art's Hotel Raw Bar for Tyler's 30th birthday. Nice to catch up with everyone, good times had by all. My spring cycling travel is going to have to be to Laguna Beach to go visit Tyler in his new place.
My calves are sore from the trail run. My back is sore from moving. Rest of my legs, and my left forearm are sore from the 'cross race. Signed up to race the 'cross race at noon today though too!
Monday, 29 September 2008
Craig can climb singletrack like he's still on a 500cc two stroke. Jon threads the needle on the downhills making them look easy. Shawn lives for 'cross season, and dishes out the punishment in a very refined looking manner, riding the tightest off camber course twists with grace. Dolye takes away all but one gear and doesn't let anything slow him down. Tori suffers it out with with nothing but good spirits and knows how to bring fun wherever she goes. Cyrus has begun really dishing it out in some road races.
Which leaves Dallas...
He's always been a powerhouse. Large amounts of power for long periods of time are his thing. So much so, that he signed up for the Texas Time Trials with the confidence to take on the shortest category time for the 500 miler... based around his preferred sleep/ride schedule rather than prior experience with the event.
The end result? Showing up not to ride it, but to win it outright. A machine amongst machines. Congrats Dallas, awesome ride.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Canada Revenue Agency, Preassessment Review Section
Re: Income Tax and Benefit Return for 2007
We have completed our review. Based on the documentation submitted, we have allowed the claim(s) under review.
[blah blah other stuff, keep these documents for the future, call us if you have any questions]
Thank you for your cooperation.
Preassessment Review Section
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
OK, there's a lot more to the race than that, but it sure felt good to write. Shawn and I were 6th and 7th; Chris McNeil was actually the one who laid down the smack tonight. That's the last time I'll see Shawn on the same lap finish of a 'cross race this year I bet.
Great weather, great times. Good to see a lot of the faces I haven't been seeing quite as much this year with my sparse attendance on the road circuit.
Am I even allowed to say I didn't feel much lactic burn? I think between the Bow 80, my first run of the year today (with my Ironman buddy for an entire hour, who I pleaded to take it easy on me), the fact is my body just wouldn't even go anaerobic even if I wanted it to. The end result was that today's race was just high threshold pace (not that I'm implying I'll go faster later).
Back at the office, I hope I can peel out before 10pm. Holy cow is this a wild time to be working in finance... the American financial landscape is being re-written before our eyes. Institutions that have been around for almost 200 years are going "poof" with surprising frequency... and through my Reuters screen it's a perfect almost-front-row seat.
Monday, 15 September 2008
As it turns out, lounging by a pool in Las Vegas is only mediocre as a prep day for the Bow 80 (surprise, surprise). In fact, it's probably not all that bad, but the three hours without moving my legs on the plane probably wasn't helpful. My bike needs to go in for rehab more than I do, wasn't really able to leave all my energy out there on the course.
One of these year's I want to feel like I nailed that race!
Saturday, 13 September 2008
I have no idea what it did to my riding legs, but what it did for my eyes was phenomenal!
Friday, 12 September 2008
I think the skiing and bike racing skills helped a little, knowing lines and keeping your eyes up.
First place of 16 in the group, plus took the winners pot... $weet.
On arrival I managed to get in 2.5 hours in gym, almost 2 on bike, about half an hour on treadmill on max incline with weights, plus stretching and core. After that it was poolside in the sun, which had the benefit of a few more bikinis than a day in the office. Unfortinately the "euro-style" pool was populated more by overweight 50 year olds.
After that it was room service and nap for a few hours. I uncharacteristically drank a Red Bull upon my groggy wakeup so I wasn't a downer all night. Then the big group dinner... great food, wine and entertainment. Gambling updates for the first 6 hours ranged from down $8k to up $1k amongst the gang, I guess that makes my $25 gym entry and $34 room service salad (it's amazing what delivery charge, automatic gratuity and state tax add to the cost of food) feel well spent on a relative basis.
I'm looking forward to the Lotus cars tomorrow, those are bets I'm willing to take (having control of a skill driven outcome is easier for me to grasp than games of chance).
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Shawn basically caught up to Craig, but Craig held him off in the sprint (Craig also had 2 min time bonus). Jeff Neilson was third. Dallas dropped out for a nap after doing same number of laps as me, but he was done sooner.
Mical, Trish and Alana were the podium of the women's, with the Bee in 5th. The Bee was tired and bonking, but she sure makes me proud.
Pat was second for single speeding. I should equip him with a hemlet cam so he can film my next bike mishap, as he saw both of mine at this race.
I'm glad some ibuprofen found its way to me. That was the hardest knock I've ever taken on a bike or skis... but that's not really saying much as I've skipped hard wipeouts in both the snowsport and biking careers thus far.