Tuesday, 29 April 2008


while I was at work today
someone said snow was on the way

and my legs wanted to go out and play
perfect for the deadgoat hammer on tuesday

turns out I felt okay
enjoyed attacking most of the way
devin and geoff said that was the best part of their day ; )

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Lethbridge Coulee Cruiser

Morning started off picking up Shawn, Jon and Devin for the commute to Lethbridge for the Coulee Cruiser, first local mountain bike race of the season that was delayed from last Sunday due to snow. We loaded up at Tim Hortons and through the magic of back seat driving I was actually able to navigate out of the city. A while into the trip I realized the black coffee I had ordered was lost in translation to the Tim Horton's 24 hour staff; somewhat humorous as a few of our orders were fairly straightforward but still posed difficulty.  I'm sure the Saturday night shift on 17th avenue is difficult to find staff for.  The week wait was well worthwhile, it was 20C and sunny for the race today. Course had a small dollop of mud here and there, but that was it.

I had a very lazy day yesterday, just seemed overall tired, from what I'm not sure. I felt better this morning as we warmed up, but I still didn't feel keen to accelerate on hills until I absolutely had to, ie. the race.

All the Expert groups were started together, Devin took the hole shot and I stayed close to his wheel on the first climb, too close actually. I surprised myself at how near I was, only to realize I big ringed the climb, and guessed I'd be paying for that later. Course was nice as always, quite a bit of climbing, but not as hard as they'd made it in year's past - a few less ultra steep sections per lap. Only one dismount was needed, seemingly from everyone, a sharp uphill accute angle off camber turn. For the first three laps I bobbed about 10-20m behind Devin, felt generally good, food and drink were going in fine and at what felt like pretty good timing. On the end of the third lap I got passed by a Bow guy who also caught up to and passed Devin. I couldn't hold their pace, and Devin hung onto his wheel until the end kilometer through the gravel pit, where the natural spacing of riding a downhill was too hard a gap to close in the headwind at the bottom. Toward the end of the 4th lap I was being closed in on from behind, and couldn't tell if it was a rider in our group or the leading Elite - sort of thought it was Brian Bain leading the Elites, but couldn't be sure, you know how the rear view mirror can be a little bouncy on the mountain bike...

I did what I could on the downhill, and shoulder checked when coming onto the last kilometer of gravel to see if the 15m gap was still there. The wind had really picked up, so if I was only a couple meters ahead, I was going to have to decide if we cat and mouse in the wind to the end, or just race it with a gap. Turns out the gap held, so cat and mouse was off the table. I decided to quit acting like a fairy and do what is supposedly my strength, pushing hard on the flats. Got the had down nice and low and attempted to induce vomiting via pushing pedals.

It seemed to work, but in the end it was Brian, so I was really just racing myself. Finished in 3rd, which I'm happy with, especially considering yesterday I spent most of the day feeling super tired and making every effort not to do anything that took any effort. Without mechanicals or wipeouts, or time lost on no-pass sections, it felt like a fair measure of my fitness.

Devin was second as mentioned. In the Elites, Shawn was third after Brian Bain and Jeff Neilson. I think Pete Lawrence was fourth and Jon was fifth.

The real fun of the day wasn't the results, but the fun of hanging out with they gang all day, shooting the shit on the commute, and biking without shivering in the beautiful sunshine.

Relatively small turnout surprised me. Only 4 deadgoats to the first race of the year?

Sunday, 20 April 2008


I'm a couple days past thirty. Usually I let my birthday come and go with very little mention, but I did make a point of bringing it up in conversation this year, it's a bit of a novelty. I've made it through what has been, statistically, 1/3 of my life.

That's not too bad, it means I've got 2/3 to go. Here's a little ramble, those with more wisdom of years can steer me straight next time they see or chat with me, I'd appreciate it.

Health. Well this one's always the biggie. I live in a society where everything gives me cancer, or so says the news. I bet reading the paper is cancerous too, probably double if it's read online, and triple if it's from a BlackBerry. But for now I'm healthy. I drink alcohol infrequently and in less quantity than virtually everyone I know who isn't a teetotaler. I eat vegetables, although often it's at a desk out of a cardboard box. My waistline doesn't give the mortality tables much ammunition. My blood is free of grease as per cholesterol tests last year. I'm going to take the blissfully ignorant view that I'm fine on the health side, which will be 100% true until "something happens".

Health offshoot - fitness. Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem like I've peaked yet, by at least some measures of fitness. If average power sustained over a 10 kilometer indoor time trial by bicycle is any measure of note, I'm as fit as I've ever been. My body has never been able to take in more oxygen, pump more blood, and deliver it to my pumping legs at a higher sustained level for 15 minutes before. So those systems are ok. Posture and flexibility I do take for granted as I'm pretty decent, but I'm working on both intermittently. The remainder of my strength is core, my upper body is cycling-skinny. I'm fine with that for now. Frankly there's nothing I enjoy more than exploring the limits of my exertion and stamina. It's fun to explore the light headed space of extreme exertion - although it feels like my heart is about to explode, it never does. It just comes back stronger. Although my legs may feel on fire, knotting in cramps, and ache walking up stairs, they only know one response - to return with more strength and stamina. I can say without a doubt I haven't yet executed even a third of the pedal rotations these legs will perform in this lifetime.

Family and relationships. I think both of these are ticking along fine... and maybe that's the problem. It's relieving to be able to take the moral support that comes from those nearby for granted, it makes you feel like you don't need to worry about it. But taking it for granted isn't the ideal scenario either. Mom and dad are always there, and are anchors of support that don't sway with which way the tide is moving. Tori and I frankly don't see each other enough... it seems more often than not our work, travel and hobby schedules are polar opposite. I think that should be worked on. I like watching Tori, she battles her demons, strives towards her goals, and does so with a bee like buzz that makes me happy to watch. She worries about a lot of little things (flower garden), but doesn't worry about the big decisions. A critic might call it blissful ignorance, I think it's a little nearer to human optimism. My suspicion is that "inverse" trait probably correlates to her success. Tori proves you can be a leader/manager/deal doer/protege/baron during the day, yet still have a teddy bear on your side of the bed at night.

Friends Part 1: I keep in touch with all my "original" friends, I guess schoolmates might be a better term. We're all achievers, which makes me happy to see and be a part of. With my two time consuming pursuits (work and cycling), I take their presence for granted often too. Many of us work in Calgary, but many have moved. I know I shouldn't take it for granted. It's something to work on (for all of us?). Many are already or are getting married. Not that my opinion or approval matters, but I think they've all found really nice partners. Seeing them happy makes me happy. The kids are pretty sparse still though!

Friends Part 2: The other chapter of my friends are people who ride bikes. They range in age from low 20's to 50's. To say they're driven achievers is an understatement, it's an inspiring group to be surrounded by. I like nothing more than feeling like a kid when riding and racing with the gang - I used to phone up my 7 year old friends and say "wanna go biking", and in the 23 years that have passed, not much has changed. In some ways they're more than friends - they're mirrors who help me see deeper into myself, and they're idols because they inspire me to reach for more. They're also living symbols - every time I see a person on a bike, it's like seeing the needle that threads the fabric of my being together.

Ok, we need to address bikes. Bikes, biking, racing, breathing... it's who I am. A courier riding by on the street or a friend pulling up into my driveway can in seconds take my mind off the mundane and turn it to daydreaming of what can be, what it all means to over exert the body and have it come back stronger. Sometimes I ride alone and enjoy the peace, solitude, opportunity for thought. Sometimes we ride in groups, and usually that means drag racing all night long. Sometimes I race alone, and set outcome goals for myself. Often I race in teams, where the end result seems so far off, but it's the minute by minute process to be enjoyed. It's a great window into character to push one another to the brink of your physical capability side by side for a week, feels like you really get to know someone by the end of it ; ) All I can say here is I want to keep the good times rolling, and rolling fast, as long as I possibly can. More of the world should ride bikes more often. Is it right that Calgary takes up as much area as New York City yet has 1/8th the people? Does that make sense? Do we need to spread ourselves out that thin, thereby burdening ourselves with the upkeep cost of all that infrastructure, not to mention the transportation time commitments we then make? High costs lead to lower returns in the long run. Doesn't bode well for a Calgary on a long municipal scale, we're one of worst in North America for sprawl (anti-concentration ratios)... but I digress.

Work. My line of work is pretty dynamic and interesting, there aren't any limits to the amount of thought that can be applied to finance. It's a great window through which to see the world. Can't complain about my firm or the people I work with, it's a group of ultra achievers in an industry that demands it... which is probably the only drawback. True rest, which in my words is mental disengagement from work for periods of time, is a pretty scarce commodity in the business of finance focused on the largest world commodities. I've been doing a sun up to sun down gig from my first summer job at 15-16 to the present. Layer in on top of that 2 university degrees, that whole CFA ordeal, and a primary hobby that can consume time and energy resources endlessly, and it's been pretty busy phase. That might need some tweaking. I'm not one for setting timelines arbitrarily, but if I'm still doing this pace when I'm 40, tap me on the shoulder and tell me to smarten up. Need a tad more sunshine and a little less fluorescent lighting overall during this next decade.

Work 2/finance/economics. Work is necessary for achievement, feeling needed and useful, and... I guess a guy needs to earn a few beer tokens to carry around in the wallet too. I seem to be pre-programmed to count numbers, and evaluate the economy of consuming them now versus later (not to mention "loaning" them out to people who have ideas on how a single dollar can be made into more over time). Having said that, I've backfilled enough of the pile I'll need this lifetime that as each year passes, I don't pay quite as much attention to the minutiae. I have to admit this is a luxury I quite enjoy. I can afford Apple computers, which cost more but are beautiful. I can afford trips, which are enriching beyond dollars. I can afford several bikes, so when it's winter I ride one, or when one needs fixing there's alway another. But in all honesty, what I'm really buying are two invisible commodities - free time and lack of financial worry. Some are born with a lack of financial worry, and since I wasn't one of them, I have to purchase it. The free time will find it's way to my doorstep in due course. There aren't other categories of things that I feel compelled to trade my capital/time/skill/knowledge tokens for. By the way, if we referred to money as "capital/time/skill/knowledge tokens", I think society would become more judicious with expenditure overnight.

Cheating stinks, and I'm happy to say I never feel compelled to, in a hobby that seems brings it out of everyone who goes pro. I think I had a cortisone based cream for scrapes or... uhh... uncomfortable saddle situation at one point, and I'm sure I'd test positive for that, but cheating is a line of morality not technicality, despite what the press says.

I could use more pets, the absence of animals is something I think about pretty often. I could use a family at one point, but I'm not planning to rush things.

Appearance. I do shave every day, but that's highly related to my white collar job. I don't think I've had a comb to my head since the mid 1990's. I still have vanity, which is funny to write, but it isn't the "usual" kind. I want to be seen as fit and strong, not a desk jockey couch potato. I buy relatively nice office clothes, but I put very little effort into deciding which combos to wear. Clean? Yes. Does it clash? No. Good. I enjoy being unburdened by an overwhelming concern over my appearance. I still have shirts I wear from grade 8. For the record that's about half my life ago. On the bike I find this year's deadgoat team kit to be pretty darn snazzy, makes us look good out on the road. Now that's important!

There's a few bits of thought, and I'll stop for now as this is pretty long. Nothing really to complain about these days!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Trainer workout Saturday

I have to admit it's a little tough to be a Calgarian cyclist this spring, -13C and snowy is tough to see out the window when I'm dreaming of +13 and sunny at a minimum.

After shoveling nearly a foot of heavy snow from my driveway, I drove cautiously up to my parents house to use their basement gym.  Did a low intensity trainer ride, tried to get in a decent block of time.  I've been riding so much high intensity lately my body was just asking for an easy spin.

The nice thing about emptying the tank in the training dungeon (it's actually renovated nicely, it's just earned the dungeon nickname), is that the tank is filled afterward by mom's cooking.  And my birthday was remembered.

After that it was off to see Shawn and Jon for a pint of suds.  Maybe I can collectively start referring to the two friends as ShawnJon?  We covered important topics - life, biking, racing, and how the XTR 950 crankset has the spline attached to the big ring, not the crank, so you can get aftermarket smaller rings to run a 2x9 setup, and ditch the XTR bottom bracket in favour of a Dura-Ace bottom bracket to keep the weight down.  

Friday, 18 April 2008

Thirty and a Day

I'm going to reflect more on aging here at one point, but thirty and a day hasn't brought good luck. My arch nemisis airline Air Canada has got me by the balls afain such that I'm at home and my dozen buddies are on the flight to Las Vegas for Jamie Ha's stag party. And let's be clear, it's not a weather issue that drove it, it's policy of that sham they call a business.

Visiting MEG Energy today and seeing what a few billion dollars will get you was fairly interesting - some dirt roads, lots of pipes, Atco trailers, and 4 billion barrels of the good stuff. That's like 19% of US reserve bookings, for one privateco in Canada.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

COP hill workout

After work I was planning to meet Shawn, Craig and Craig's buddy Kirk Bothwell for a hill workout at COP, as "prescribed" (I think encouraged is a better word) by Craig.

Naturally by the time I managed to duck out of the office I wasn't going to make the planned start time, and the heavy backpack today, and snow squall plus headwind didn't help either. Regardless, I was about 20 minutes late, but saw the guys right at the bottom of the hill. I dropped the backpack and we were off.

Last year when I did... wait cross that out. Last year was work round the clock at this time of year. Two years ago when I'd done purposeful hill work, my methodology was a strength and muscle fibre recruitment type workout. 50-60 rpm, obviously stressing the legs hard, but very low intensity on the aerobic system - I could speak pretty easily at any point. I did 2 reps that way today, but the other guys were doing more of a 4-5 minute blast up the hill, which is obviously going to stress the leg muscles, but it's more of a power interval.

I jumped on that bandwagon on trip #3, as Craig attacked aggressively from the bottom of the hill, I knew I wasn't going to match that. I paced myself at a level I thought I could sustain to the top and that would come near to closing the gap if Craig slowed. My mind alternated between 3 thoughts on the ascent - my legs are burning, my lungs are burning, and "bike pacer" is probably a more accurate term for me than "bike racer" as I'm always thinking about the rate at which to dispense stored energy. On the last 100 yards it became a game of shoulder check from the front and sprint from the back, with Craig staying ahead. That's a quality interval for rep #7 or whatever he was on.

Next one up Shawn decided to work it, so I did my best to stay near him, those two intervals left me on the downward side of my energy curve for the evening. After that both guys were leaving, so after some chit chat I did 2 more, first being more the muscle strength effort, and once more for sustained power.

When I started my legs felt great, I was definitely winning the battle against the hill. Funny how just a half an hour later the hill calmly took charge of the day and left me riding meekly home.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Pure Sunday enjoyment, and hill intervals

I woke up at 8am, but instead of getting up, I rolled over and slept till 10 to recuperate from the birthday dinner with the gang last night. Ahhh, such luxury.

It's so fun to go out and see how all of us are growing up and defining the lives we want. Especially since I've bumped into a few others lately from youth who certainly haven't done much, or who have just dug their holes deeper.

Tori made a nice breakfast, and we geared up to go ride south of the city. As we were leaving the house, Devin called for a Nose Hill ride with Shawn. I had to let Tori do her own thing and go ride some hills!

Nose Hill is nice right now, not muddy, just tacky in a few spots. We did 7 hills, with Devin and Shawn slaying them, and me dragging along in the distance behind. Good workout, and got a few of my muscles a little more used to the mountain bike position. The descents were good practice for the Coulee Cruiser, fast and narrow but fairly smooth. We stopped and just watched the world go by for a while, it's nice not freezing every time you stop.

Devin was meeting Shannon for a walk with Merrik by Edgemont, so I rode west with him, planning to do a stop by my parents house to see the progress on the deck project. I diverted to do a few climbs in Edgemont, then went to my favourite short steep climb in Hawkwood for some high intensity repeats. Part way through my workout Jack Funk's wife Vera spotted the deadgoat kit and came over for a chat.

After I blew myself up on the hill work, it was a short cruise over to mom and dads for juice, cookies, and chat.

Why can't life always be that simple?

On the way home I bumped into James Larter, whom I hadn't seen in a while. His Popeye arms are bigger than my legs, I guess if I had full contact fighting as my hobby like biking I'd need to do the same. He's on recovery time currently as a month ago he had his neck broken, scar on the throat shows where they entered to put in plates, hoping to fuse some vertabrae. Ouch. It was a nice Sunday afternoon to be outside, regarldess if it was biking or recovery walking.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Spring Saturday, Finally!

This morning I was debating doing either an 8:30 start 180k ride or a 10am start unspecified distance ride, and although both had appeal, I went for the 10 which allowed a little more beauty rest. I had my sleep schedule jerked around this week, with a few very early mornings, and as those close to me can attest (Tori), as each year goes by, my sleep schedule is becoming a little more sacred to me. Sufficient rest always feels hard to come by. Clothes were delightfully light - shorts, undershirt, jersey and armwarmers proved to be all I needed! Wow does that ever feel nice.

With that said, it was off to Cabin Cafe for 10. I saw Vincent Chahley in the Edworthy parking lot, stretching on the Porsche's bumper before a morning jog. Talked for a few minutes then went up to the Cabin to meet the usual suspects. Shawn, Devin, Finn, Natasha were common to last week's ride.

Alison Testrote showed up, she'd recently posted some good results at the Redlands Classic, hadn't seen her since Tucson last year. The pace was mild as we rode west, with Alison driving it for a while. Things heated up as we passed the three hills, there were lots of CrankMasters out to chase down as well. As we approached Bragg, the tempo was much more moderate, I did a couple pulls then drifted back to rest up. As Devin and Shawn were pulling side by side, I plotted to stretch the group out for the sprint finale. When I figured we were close enough that I could pull through to the sprint zone, instead of petering out pathetically before, I launched the tempo drive. I did my best to hold 550-600W for two minutes to stretch out the group and lead out the sprinters, and my legs siezed up pretty much where I thought they would. Unfortunately I couldn't see the end, but Shawn and Devin were the two frontmen.

I missed the instructions for the quick stop, and bought myself a cider that was 99% sugar and 1% rocket fuel. Pounded it back while everyone was gearing up to ride, it actually sat pretty well once it was down. We made our way south towards Plummers Road, using every incline as an excuse to battle it out for alpha male supremacy. I was fairly firmly in the wimpier sounding Ceta male category, although I was usually close enough to offer at least a little trash talk to Shawn just for fun.

Plummers Road to Millarville was a mini Roubaix, the surface was decent, and we worked the climbs, the flats, and the descents. I spent a lot of energy into Millarville trying do earn my keep in a 2 man effort with Devin, he took off on the prior hill and waited up, no doubt to assist me with a punishing interval workout.

We saw Pat Dodge and Juri Lipkov in Millarville. Pat has been roaming about in all black like the guys trying to dodge doping control, and has been putting in mega miles. Like I said last week, machine. And considering how much the rest of the Alberta crowd rides, he's a machine amongst machines.

We started seeking out the hills on the way into the south end of the city, and Devin departed to go be a parent. Shawn had a spoke issue, which we stopped to address, but that meant it was down to the two of us as Alison, Pat and Juri kept moving. My legs were now paying the price, and I was slow on the hills. We explored a couple roads new to me, then came in the south end of the city to see Calgary alive with spring. Nice to see as I missed a lot of the spring last year with work.

All in 150k, about 120k of which were hammer, and the last 30k I definitely lost the hammer. I'm feeling good, both by scientific measures of Watts, and less scientific ones, like I can usually still be close enough behind to see Devin crest the tops of hills.

Off to a birthday dinner tonight that I can hopefully stay awake through!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Shorts! Almost...

Rode with Geoff Clark after work - least insulation I've worn in Calgary since last year! This weekend looks promising. Maybe I'll get enough warmth that I stop endlessly browsing the 25-35% off sale in US sunbelt real estate!

Midweek ride Attempts

After the pummelling of my legs and endurance last weekend, I took Monday and Tuesday off the bike... which in theory was smart, but I should have spun out my legs at least a little. Wednesday's workout attempt didn't go so well, legs weren't waking up. Kind of like my brain on a Monday morning. Commuters were whizzing by on the path, and my interval workout was cut short since my brain and body could quickly sense the futility.

I'd hoped for improved riding on Thursday after work, but since I arrived at the office at 5:15 on Thursday, when I got home I just hit the couch and napped. I did a little riding later in the evening, but I could tell again my body wasn't up for it. I switched over to bike maintenance for an hour before bed.

I'm crossing my fingers for the weekend. I'm trying to do more of this "listen to myself" to guide my riding rather than being pre-committed.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Brits

English is funny, especially the kind from the other side of the Atlantic. At times I almost felt lost over there last month, trying to translate english words, in phrases peculiar to me, into something my mind understood.

Attemtpting to leave a UK voicemail this morning, I was instructed by a charming voice to "key hash" when I was done speaking. For those of us who are used to "press pound" this might be a little fresh and different.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Sunday - Season has now Blasted Off!

I've been waiting a while for a real season opener ride, and today I got my fill.  I met up with about 10 others at the Cabin Cafe, and we set our sites on Bragg Creek.  Shawn, Dallas, Dwayne Ellis, 3 Synergy folk, and a few other I'm sure I've now forgotten in my exhausted state.  In the parking lot as we were set to leave I realized I'd left my fuel for 5 hours of planned riding neatly stacked on my kitchen counter.  Geez.

I felt sluggish off the start.  I don't think my dinner last night absorbed all that well, and I wasn't feeling too perky.  I bummed a gel of Shawn so I could stop whining.  

Once we got to the hills on Lower Springbank, I felt ok.  I could climb and hold my spot rather than drifting back.  On the "third hill" I was rather happy/surprised with the ratio of riders in front/behind over the top.  Felt good.

As we turned south towards Bragg, my legs felt good.  Pulled up the incline and back down, then went to the back to converse for a while.  Once we got into the trees, Dallas and I thought it'd be nice to pick up the pace a little, so we each offered what we could... Dallas supplying more naturally.  At about Redwood Meadows, it was pretty much all out.  I was doing a pull, and Dallas whispered that next pull he was going to attack.  I slowed up my pull so I'd have a chance of going along, and we just kept trading off as long as we could.  As we neared the 1km to go sign, half the group was still there, along with Synergy guys.  Side note here - around this point someone rode on from the back.  I heard someone say "pick it up, some guy rode on from behind", but obviously anyone who rode on from behind wasn't going to be dropped now that they were in the group.  Any guesses?  Pat Dodge, just out making his crank set cry for mercy.  That guy is a machine.  

This set us up for a little fun.  I'll admit right up front that Sunday tactics and actual race tactics are fairly different in my view.  Racing is to attempt to win.  Sunday group ride is to clobber yourself senseless to be stronger another day.  Dallas and I were clobbering ourselves.  The Synergy fellows, being from a track oriented club, were setting themselves up for the sprint.  I have nothing against them or that tactic, I just wanted to see the game play out differently.  As they were tucked in behind the Nth Dallas pull, sucking wheel, I recalled back to a ride where I was hanging on for mercy back when I met Dallas.  The part that stuck in my mind is chronicled here - the short of which is that after drag racing anyone left who would dare try to pull through on the end of a Tuesday Night Hammer, we resign ourselves to sucking wheel to recoup enough energy to mount the final attack.  Naturally the guy on the front knows its coming once everyone abandons trying to pull through.  What does he do?  Slow down and half pedal, saving some juice?  Nope, he hammers on, and when the road turns upward giving the guys behind a perfect spot to attack, he yells "BRING IT ON MOTHERFUCKERS" and fights not to give up an inch.  I love Tuesday Night Hammers.

So back from this digression, two guys are setting themselves up to sprint off Dallas' wheel, after we'd been pushing the pace.  I feel obliged to yell "ATTACK OFF THE FRONT YOU FUCKING PUSSIES".  I'm also happy to report that they did just that.  It was melee from there on in, not much strategy, all brawn.  Bunnin managed to sneak up from somewhere to win.  All's well, there's nothing like a Sunday ride!  

We refueled at Cinnamon Spoon, and I suspect the Synergy guys weren't holding the attack thing against me, everyone seemed to be having a good time, plus there were hoards of other cyclists out.  When it was time to start riding back, Dallas and I decided instead of coasting along with the group, we'd hammer until we saw the deadgoat group coming out that had left Westhills at 11.  Wasn't long and we saw the whole crew looking sharp with the new team kit.  We joined in, and the chats I had revealed the following:  Lonn was hammering the hills, Trish was riding second wheel and apparently not breaking a sweat, and from the rest of the day, I'll just surmise that Pat and Geoff were saving up to unleash later.  We did a second coffee stop in Bragg after Geoff won the sprint.

Gerry flatted, but nobody had noticed, so he rolled in 5 minutes later.  5 minutes after him, Devin rolled in, freshly off parenting duty.

We rode back north, at a pretty meaningful pace.  Guys were cold after a flat so everyone wanted to work hard.  A bunch turned back on Lower Springbank, and 6 of us went north, supposedly to turn on Airport road - Dallas, Devin, Pat, Geoff, Lonn and I.  I strugged up the hill, only to find that turning on Airport wasn't going to happen, it was off to Cochrane at full blast.  Devin was demonstrating the benefits of his recent Uranium diet on his pulls, from the outside he was showing no fatigue on the hammer ride even though he took Thursday and Friday off to put in big mileage, and had done the same on Saturday.  Geoff Clark was shifting between "hammer" and "giver" depending on the grade and headwind.  I was hanging on by a thread, and Dallas was still finding the energy to mix it up at the front.  Pat was fine, his 'cross bike does have a carbon fork on it, so it's fast enough to blaze all over the roads.  Lonn was making me hurt every chance he got.

After the third stop of the day, this time at Cochrane coffee traders, we warmed up to attack the Cochrane Hill.  After about 16 meters of warmup, Dallas sees some Fred half way up the bottom of the climb and takes off for the kill.  I settle into a warmup pace because my legs feel like crap after the 5th cooldown of the day (3 shop stops, 2 flat stops).  I don't even know who made it to the top first, either Dallas or Devin.  I was behind Geoff and it took me 2/3 of the climb to reel him in, but I couldn't catch Lonn.  

From there, it was just hobble home along TWP 262.  Rest of the guys still had jets, it seemed like Pat and I were feeling similar and we traded pulls a lot.  It was almost odd to see a guy come by and slide gently in front on his pulls, offering you that helping hand, after every other wheel I chased was tearing up pavement with a vengeance.

I was glad to make my way home.  All in, my SRM tells me this is the highest power output I've done on a ride - the "normalized" power was 299W for 4.5 hours... normalized I think is just it's way of doing an average without coasting included.  I'm bagged, but I'm happy.  I think my fitness is improving, but the funny thing is that so is everyone else's.  I'm still hanging on tooth and nail just to ride with my buddies.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Saturday Spin, dodging snowflakes

Ahh, the Calgary cycling community faced another tough Saturday morning.  After club and inter-club email threads were priming everyone for a 10am showdown departing the Cabin Cafe at 10am, we woke to see snow piling up outside our windows.  It was enough to kill my momentum for the day.

I did a few errands, and started working on a few bike tune ups and part swaps, only to realize I was a part or a tool short here or there.  Didn't make much progress.

I geared up to ride at 1:15.  I was planning to ride Airport road, then north to Cochrane, and wind my way home through my beloved gravel roads.  I brought the Moots.  I rode a steady tempo and worked leg strength on the hills.  At the end of Airport road, a look north told me Cochrane wasn't a wise bet, it was enveloped in a white wall of snow falling from purple clouds.  I turned south to Bragg Creek and said farewell to my gravel roads.

Shortly after the new traffic circle (as a side not I'll add seems to be quite a small diameter circle for semi trucks?) I spotted a group of riders about 150 yards ahead.  With prey in site I set off to hunt them down.  I was successful, but the joke was on me.  I caught up with about 1.5km to go into Bragg, and as it turns out it was a group of four ladies, probably 40 years old, on "tri" bikes (ie. Cannondale R2000 with bolt on bars sitting up 4" above the handlebars).  They were chatting casually and didn't appear to be pushing the pedals very hard.  So either I'm really lame, or this Moots does take a little caloric expenditure to push around.  

We chatted briefly at Cinnamon Spoon, where they actually said "ooohhh, the tires are so big".  Right they are.  I rode out to highway 66 then turned back to retrace my route.  Believe it or not, with a little winding through the city at the end, it was a 5 hour ride.  I struggle to sustain speeds much over 20kph with that bike.

It was a fairly nice day, a few flurries to deal with.  I had full fenders, and the work/speed ratio on the Moots makes it a lot harder to get chilled while riding.  I can coast in a road paceline and expend 100W and hold 30kph if the conditions are right, which is a great recipe for a human popsicle.  The Moots demands at least 200W just to roll along, and I'm going roughly half the speed.  

Other than a satisfying workout, the other benefit of the ride was that 5 hours solo time gave my brain plenty of time to work through iterations of the house renovation we're looking at.  I hadn't had time to sit and think recently about it, and after viewing some drawings and seeing a few new houses, the jigsaw puzzle might be a little closer to being solved. 

Friday, 4 April 2008

Rocket in disguise

Tonight Shawn and I rode after work. I was the granny that slowed him down, he was the guy speeding me up. It was an easy cruise to make room in my legs for the carbs I was planning to murder at dinner.

It was the first time I've ridden the Cervelo in quite a while. Riding on the bike path to our meeting spot, a leisurely 200 Watts was earning me 30+kph. The relative absence of friction and resistance is amazing, modern road bikes are such accomplishments of efficiently amplifying human energy into motion. The feeling is unbelievable.

It's my rocket. It's now complete with my pro looking name stickers.

Love it!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Race against the clock #5

The background to this week is simple - two long rides in the snow with my friends: Saturday being the group ride, and Sunday being the TransRockies partner jam with Craig.  Both were done on the utilitarian, but somewhat sluggish Moots MootoX 29er with the Rohloff.  There's a little extra inertia and friction that come along with that beauty.  

The stage:
1.  Silence in the trainer room (once again)
2.  Visual stimulus was a closet door (once again)
3.  Two days relaxation, neither nights were great sleep
4.  Pre-game meal was a banana and a powerbar a few hours ago

The result:
10k, 15 mins, 57 seconds, average of 340W.    

The reflection:
That's 10W more and 18 seconds less than a week ago.  The trick was twofold: I rode one gear higher, making more use of my leg strength, which I perceive as a relative advantage.  This shifted me down about 5 rpm, if I'd held the rpm from last week I would've blown.  But where does this leg strength come from?  Simple - Craig gave it to me, possibly for my birthday ; )

Story is just a few posts back.  I looked outside at the snow last Sunday, and mentally gave up.  My best outcome that day would have been an hour or two trainer ride... that is until I tried to bail on my TransRockies partner.  After Craig set my priorities straight, we did a 4 hour ride in the snow with some pretty good efforts.  At the time I even said I was working on my overall torque and leg strength... but little did I know.  5-10cm deep snow, gravel roads, and a 29er wheel add up for a little more pushing than the average road bike.  Add to this my internally geared Rohloff hub, which I've modified with some [higher viscosity] oil that doesn't freeze in Calgary temperatures (hopefully a formula that doesn't wreck some parts inside as noted in the manuals).  I'd suspect this higher viscosity oil bumps up the internal friction loss above the stated 96% or 98% depending on which gear.  I'm gonna ballpark it at 95%, disagree if you will.  But if it takes me 300W to keep pace with Craig on a hill, I now have to do 315W, or in reality, I do a little more then fail to keep up!  For the record, riding with a partner always coaxes more out of me, I'm a poor "front" or "alone" rider and a better chaser.

Out in our 4 hours of training, there's a few topics we covered when we weren't huffing and puffing too much (or maybe that was just me?).  One was this question: Which provides a better workout - more overall workload yet slower, ie. riding the big pig, or, riding faster with higher speeds and higher peak efforts?  I think in some ways it's an unanswerable question, or it just comes down to semantics.  Work is work, and the more training stress your body is subject to, with proper recovery, should be more constructive.  With that in mind, the second stage of the answer in my mind is it depends on the person.  Some people might have the ability/discipline/mindset to blaze out fantastic workouts by pushing themselves on their race bikes.  For whatever reason, as mentioned above, I'm on the "chaser" end of the scale.  I'm open minded to being proven otherwise, but I think the "make it harder with added friction/weight/etc", provided I can generally stay in contact to chase (or have a sympathetic leader), works better for me.

After the TT I aimed for 10 minutes of 400W intervals - 2 mins for first and second one, third through ninth were one minute ones as I was getting a little groggy, and 9th one was really only about 35 seconds.  

If TransRockies is nearing and I tell you I've given up on riding the Moots on gravel roads, tell me to smarten up and get back out there... and thanks again Craig!

Nice Friends

I have nice friends.  That's not really news, because I hang out with a lot of people who ride bikes...  

But on top of that, nice friends make nice little gestures... the "thought that counts" sort of thing.

Custom name stickers for my bike, by the same sticker-printer who did them for the Discovery team, is a thoughtful surprise!  Maybe it's because my birthday is near.