Monday, 30 June 2008

BC Bike Race day 3

We're waking up a little earlier this morning for a 1 hour earlier start. I had my last antibiotic last night and I feel like (know) it impeded my absorbtion of food. Also had a really hard time jamming at least a small amount of breakfast in me. So started with an emptier tank, crawled through first half of day up nice singletrack and a downhill shady gravel road descent. Rode at a moderate pace most of the day whilst feeling hollow, and had fun in the 15k of singletrack at the end of the day, which was awesome beyond belief.

Cold sore coming through, a firm sign that I'm tired enough that my immune system is hooped.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

BC Bike Race day 2

Hot, dusty day, mostly on gravel road since they couldn't get access to some land. Felt strong for the first while, then Jon led out some bridge-ups to groups ahead of us that burned me out. Managed to eat and drink somewhat sufficiently for the heat, but it's hard when I haven't had much heat this year. I felt like a goose being prepped for foie gras stuffing food in me, man it's hard to choke it down when working/in the heat. It's funny this qualifies as vacation. Talked to Tom Ebbern on the massage tables for a while - it does qualify because there's not a single way to think about work here. Felt human after the race, and through the evening, which I'm taking as a good sign.

Food has been fantastic so far. Organization seems very good. Massage tent and team are phenomenal.

Deadgoats all doing well, seeing lots of friends from other races here too. It's one big family really.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

BC Bike Race day 1

Here's the brief version:
- phenomenal course with copious amounts of delightful singletrack
- it's hot, supposedly hotter tomorrow
- deadgoat's, exclusive of Erik, doing great
- my antibiotic is unpleasant thus far, the notes I got with it say it it makes me sensitive to the sun and may cause digestive issues. Since it's hot and I need fuel, this is tough.
- Jon is great, and riding strong. He may not be aware that behind my glasses for 4 hours I was choking back tears. Need those salts inside me instead I guess.
- most of today was a softpedal on my part, there's no juice inside. I'm hot, med tent checked my temp. I hope I survive.
- The song in my head all day was Creep by Stone Temple Pilots, with the chorus "I'm half the man I used to be".
- lying down on the concrete floor of the hockey rink felt good, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

BC Bike Race day zero

We had a few hurdles getting out here, but we're all ready to go. My food left at the airport found us, Jon's bike is now working, we've got all our gear.

I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be fun.

I also think they under sell this race on the web site and marketing materials... I didn't see anywhere mentioned that like 25% of the field is 25-40 year old mountain biking chicks. It seems there's more girls riding here than I've seen mountain biking collectively in the last 5 years.

Friday, 27 June 2008

La Ruta news

My sources tell me this is the last year of "hard" La Ruta - a 4 day version again this year. Next year will be a 7 day stage race format.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Private Health Care

It hadn't dawned on me prior that I have access to private health care through a corporate relationship. Based on my experience today, it's a fantastic addition to the health care mix. Yes, there are those whose ideal is to wait two hours at a walk-in clinic with kids with runny noses and those who need stitches - and get service for "free". But there are also those who don't see free in that scenario, those who like the axiom that "time is money".

If you can sell a service for any price, where the alternative is endless waiting, investment bankers are target market number one. I called in at 4:45 saying the same plaugue that's been in the throats of my co-workers is in me, based on my qualified degree in close-ology, but I'd love to supplement that with a professional opinion. By 5:10 I've walked to their building and have lights being shone in my throat and ears. Doctor says the look red and inflamed and uncomfortable. Yes I'm doing a bike race soon. Correct, I'm the kind of guy who wouldn't have bothered coming if it weren't for the race, I would have just lived with it. I'll take all the pills, yes I promise, that's the kind of guy I am.

Meanwhile I've just saved a spot at the walk-in for the kid needing stitches, and at my "family doctor" who could book me in 10 days from now.

BankingBakke believes there's a role for capitalism in the world.

Concept to execution, under 40 minutes, my desk to pharmacy. Sweet.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Back Muscles, Bonus Day

My back muscles aren't as bad as they were yesterday and the day before, which is an improvement. I'm going to assume that everything's going to work out peachy.

It's been a tough week. I was in at 5am on Monday, and by the time I leave today (Wednesday), my tally is an hour short of 50 hours thus far.

Someone asked me today, what mountain bike race is like my job? I thought for a minute and responded with La Ruta. It's no walk in the park. That analogy works both ways. My job is to the finance world something along the lines of what La Ruta is to the bike world. Maybe not 100% accurate, but both on the harder end of the spectrum.

Why oh why? Is it all worth it? This depends on one's tolerance for walking a line near work induced insanity, and definition of "worth" of course. Questions without answers. I guess I keep coming back for more, so there's at least one answer.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Back Muscles

After the weekend, my lower back was sore. I've never had much in the way of back issues, I've always maintained it very strong, and I don't know what the source of this one is. One little muscle, the one that goes from my tailbone to my left kidney (ok, I know that's not it, but that's what it feels like) decided it needs to flex as hard as it can for as long as it can.

I self massaged and stretched a bit. Tori also kneaded my back. I fell asleep ok, then woke up in the middle of the night not able to think about anything other than that muscle. It made me feel like I couldn't eat, and couldn't breathe. I sure as heck couldn't sleep. I tried to walk upstairs to start digging through cupboards for some ibuprofen but I had to crawl up them instead.

At that point I wasn't a happy camper. I was weighing in my mind if it's just one muscle, can it fix itself quick like any other muscle after a workout? Or is this about to become chronic? I thought about if I could ride a bike for a week (the biking position seemed ok on the weekend) but not being able to sleep doesn't seem ok. How would I tell Jon? Could someone else jump on our flights in time or is it better to stop the whole idea of going?

I had to lay down on the floor to rummage through the cupboard, bending over wasn't an option. Miraculously I found some Robax Platinum, probably from when Tori got hit while driving our car. I had one, and gulped some water. I went downstairs to ponder what I'd do with a long term chronic problem... hard to picture for someone who's self revolves around physical challenge and a body that has stood up to, or been dragged through by willpower, many challenges.

45 minutes later I turned to jelly. Yes, these were effective relaxants. I could sleep by 3:30, and in more than one contrived position. I feel fine during the day if I'm standing, sitting isn't as good. I have bad moments, followed by better moments, usually the latter are associated with a pill every 6 hours.

I'm not happy. This is a stressor, as are my taxes, the reno, simple things like getting the cup holder fixed in the car that's now seemingly impossible. At work I've got more deals on the go on my desk right now than small shops do in a year. That's good, but it's not easy. Every one has their challenges, and right now many of them are making that abundantly clear. Bonus day is tomorrow, and I'm here at 10pm doing a half decent Winston Wolfe (the Wolf) impression "I solve problems" - Pulp Fiction, 1994.

I can't even explain how hopeful I am that a) my back comes around, and b) the BC rainforests are able to bring a little peace to my existence for a week. I have a feeling that this week, that started in the office at 5am on Monday, will find a way to stretch itself right out to 10pm on Thursday before I fly out on Friday to Victoria.

Every time I drive into Radium and see "The mountains shall bring peace to the people" I feel each word of it deep inside me.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Deadgoat Summer Solstice Race

It seemed like the theme of the day was attrition, even with a fair weather race.
I self selected at the road crossing on first lap. My body was telling me during pre-ride yesterday to take it easy, which I did. Couldn't however manage a restful sleep last night, the headache and craving for water and feeling hot was a bit of a tip off to being not 100%. Body was working hard for not much speed on the course, just didn't feel right. Figured I didn't need to get sick this week if I can still avoid it.

Craig's hub wasn't ready to face the day, Jon's derailleur didn't make it, Andre Sutton and Dallas had flats, Dwayne Ellis wasn't feeling hot, etc.

Devin had a good looking performance, as did Jon until the mechanical.

Tori liked the course for her lap and had a fun hanging out all day.

I need some rest tonight, especially considering I've got a 5:45am conference call to lead. Looks like it's going to be another one of those weeks.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Bicycle Safety

Believe it or not, I wasn't even searching for anything bike related on youtube when I came across this. I don't know if my mind can handle it to be honest.

One Got Fat 1963 Bicycle Safety

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Thomson seat posts are superior

As it turns out, the seat post diameter I thought I needed was wrong.  On the 1996 Stumpjumper spec sheet, there's several models.  I wasn't smart enough to see the correct one, but it worked out in the end.

The 1996 M2 hardtail takes a 30.9mm seat post.  Bow Cycle was able to double confirm this, and on top of that, they had two lengths of Thomson posts available in stock - but these were the only two.

I asked them if they'd hold them until I dropped by after work, I made it there just before closing.  I eyeballed the length, and elected to go with the longer one.  If you're wondering how a blog post can drag on about a simple seat post, let me assure you they're well worth it.

Thomson seat posts are as near to perfect as I know.  The one I acquired tonight is beautifully black.  It doesn't require the squeaky, creaky shim (aka inelegant bandaid solution) that the prior post did.  Squeaky, creaky shims squeak and creak when pedaling, which is easily mistaken for other moving parts making sounds, and is unacceptably annoying.  The pride surrounding the rebirth of my Stumpjumper does not need to be dampened by creaking.

The clamping device clamps the saddle rails.  I contrast this to the prior post's clamping device that merely tried to clamp the rails, yet couldn't try hard enough to properly accomplish the task.  The saddle rails don't slide though the clamp.  The angle is infinitely adjustable.  

Riding home with the silent sturdiness of the Thomson post supporting me was the highlight of my day.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

1996 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, 2008 version

The 1996 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro is the first bike I bought myself. Little did I know that a cascade of events had begun that would shape the rest of my life, and little did that Stumpjumper know that it was starting a long, hard journey.

I bought the "Pro" model with a portion of the proceeds from summer landscaping jobs that introduced me to the 70 hour workweek. I couldn't afford the S-Works, though it had such brand appeal. A younger Kurt Christiansen of Bow Cycle actually sold it to me, and off to the races it was, so to speak.

I didn't race this bike for 8 years. I rode it to work, school, and after work, and after school, and on weekends, and to friends houses, and to house parties. Until 2008, all the original parts survived, save for the Rock Shox SID it was initially fitted with, and the front rim brake which had been upgraded to a disc along the way.

The Specialized cranks survived, with 3 or 4 bottom bracket replacements along the way. The original Specialized hubs were faultless for 12 years, however the eyelets started pulling out of the rims, with cracks becoming visible around the 10 year mark. The XT pod shifter internals wouldn't always engage, a few pumps however usually did the trick. Finally, the duty last winter as the "winter bike" seized up the headset.

Logically, a headset could have been replaced fairly cost effectively. Having said that, I had a line on some new XT cranks a friend had taken off their bike, and saw a Fox F90 fork on ebay, that coincidentally had only been spec'd on Specialized bikes, that looked brand new. I figured the bike, and the parts on it, owed me no more service. I felt I owed the bike a little treat.

Once it was stripped down to the frame and buffed to a squeaky clean shine, I pressed in a new Chris King headset. That felt good. The wheels were in motion.

Fox F90 fork went on, with the new Thompson Elite X4 stem. An Easton Monkey Lite lo-rise bar made it look like it was ready for some action. SRAM XO shifters were installed, and I decided to drill out the cable guides so I could run fully housed cable to the rear XO derailleur. The 1996 XT front derailleur was disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and lubricated. Interestingly enough, it is 1 gram lighter than the web site spec lists the 2008 XTR front derailleur. Drivetrain is more utilitarian, as this bike does service work - XT cranks, XT cassette and an XT chain.

The wheels are Mavic 819 UST rims laced to XTR hubs, light enough to grace this baby, but fully capable of long, long service life. Brake for now is an Avid Juicy 7 on the front, however XT levers/caliper is on the way, and an XTR v-brake is on order as well. Initial tire choice is a set of tubed Pythons that have been hanging on the garage wall.

The saddle is a Specialized Toupe ti rail 143mm wide, one of my favourites. Seatpost is an Easton EC70 that's shimmed to fit the 30.4mm frame. Having said that, I'm looking for anyone who has faced this issue before... I'd like to machine a 30.8mm Thomson Elite down to 30.4mm such that I can do away with the crummy shim. Bonus points will be had if I can re-finish such a post with the Thomson black finish.

It's a work of art that's 12 years in the making. It took me through years of growing up in northwest Calgary. It's also the first bike I raced.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

BC Bike Race

I'm ear to ear smiles today.  It all started with a normal day at the office, and a mid morning visit to the deadgoat forum with my 10am cup of coffee.

10:03 - I read a half price BC Bike Race spot is available.
10:04 - I've concluded that despite BC Bike Race not being in my itinerary this year, this could work.
10:05 - I've checked our schedule page and realize with the flow of people in and out of the office, I could easily take those days off.
10:06 - email is sent to potential partner whom I suspect is "most flexible" around work on short notice.

Early afternoon it's done and done.  Turns out I actually know the guy giving up the spot.

I feel like a kid in a candy store.  2.5 weeks to buff up a little for some super fun riding.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Canmore Iron Lung

I'm glad the Iron Lung was this weekend. Without the draw of a race, it would have been easy to just sit around and despise the weekend's weather. I enjoy racing in "crummy" conditions, not exactly sure why, but it seems to magnify the main attraction of racing for me - seeing what's inside.

Tori left earlier in the morning with Pat Not Doyle (thanks both of you, I'm becoming more of a princess lately demanding adequate sleep). She was busy hammering the hills by the time I was in the car. As it turns out, there weren't enough girls for the Novice category, so Tori raced sport. Not as if the categories really matter, both she and I are out there for the fun of it and hanging out with the "gang" of iron legged, iron lunged cyclists that make up the Alberta scene.

As I left town, Jon and Craig passed me, so our commute out turned into a bit of a proxy for a hammer ride, trading pulls. I might need to lay off that to keep my no-speeding ticket record going through my thirties.

When we arrived at the Nordic Center, it was a rather meager afternoon - rain was coming down sporadically, sky was gray, and everyone racing was covered head to toe in mud. Tori found me right away, and let me know that she had finished second in her race. Sweet stuff, last couple of races she's been filling out our carpool with another podium position. But really the reason I think she's started taking to mountain biking more is a) everyone knows and likes here there, it's kind of like walking into Cheers, b) there's other people who can't ride over every log, and c) if she didn't come out, she might never see me? Tori can fill me in where I'm wrong, but that's my guess.

I knew from my first warmup lap, that wasn't actually much of a warmup lap, that my legs and body were feeling good, so I spent most of the remainder of the pre-race time hanging out. John Chambers spotted me riding before I recognized him, he looked happily mudded up from a ride with his brother in law Eric de Nys. We'll all be doing the 24 hours of Adrenaline on a team in a month or whatever it is. I can't wait, and rumor had it John was out doing 6 hours in the saddle just so he could crush the remaining guys on our corporate team when the time came ; )

Despite the crummy weather reference in the intro, today wasn't really a "see what was inside" kind of day for me. I've got this new strategy for racing, which I don't recommend to anyone. Try to waste as much time as possible on the first lap, then attempt to dig yourself out of that hole. Within one hundred meters of the start, on the climb that was supposed to string everyone out, I crashed. I don't usually crash in races, and can't really think to any in a peloton where I was the middle of what went down. Without going into play by play here, let's just say this... I obviously didn't mean to crash myself, and sorry Canmore guy, I know you didn't want to go down either. Trust me, I don't start races looking around for who I can derby with.

After that little schmozzle, I red lined it back to the start/finish area to try to get myself even remotely near the riders I wanted to be near. Devin and Mike were way up front, and we started into the technical trails I hadn't pre-ridden. The first steep descent was muddy and slippery, but I didn't find it too bad to ride the first time through. After that, I'd been on many of the trails before, so I wasn't particularly uncomfortable. Considering where I was in the group, I was riding the single track slower than I would on my own, and with more dismounts on obstacles that were giving people a hard time. After another kilometer or whatever of muddy XC trail, we hooked right for the day's big descent, some off camber descent that dropped away to the left, with lots of loose soil and wet roots to make sure you were going to end up somewhere down in the ditch. I walked it the first time, as everyone in front of me did, but started thinking about the next lap...

It opened up again to XC trails, with the remainder of the lap being dedicated to making up the vertical back to the stadium, with some single track mixed in. A highlight was a high speed XC trail corner where I managed to stay upright through a 3m full on two wheel drift in the mud, that was pretty fun. Lots of climbing, including the longer Georgetown climb. I had dressed for the expectation of poor weather, and thought it was "too nice" at our start to last consistently through the race. I was wrong, and I roasted up the climb, which became the foundation for time wasting maneuver #2, on the first pass through the feed zone I pulled a 45 second take helmet off, take jersey off, remove undershirt, put jersey and helmet back on special race against the clock ordeal. By this point I've thoroughly shot myself in the proverbial foot.

By the time I was rolling again, Canmore fellow whom I aided in wiping out at the start passed me, and he let me know it as we were on the trail. I passed him on a short uphill, then he pushed ahead on the downhill. Once we hit the single track, I wasn't working too hard. I didn't think the "let me pass next time you need to dismount" line was going to go over too well, so I stayed behind until we got to the steep off camber downhill, which instead of walking, I "bulldogged" (right leg out as tripod and 2/3 riding the bike, but not pedaling). A root grabbed him halfway down and shot him a few meters off trail, and I was on my own. The Georgetown climb felt great with just a jersey on in the cool air, and I focused on pacing myself out for the remainder of the lap, and deciding where I was going to spend the most energy on the next laps.

For the last two laps, the single track took on new meaning. I'd pass the occasional rider from another category, and a couple in our group, and a couple with mechanicals from either the elites or our group, but generally was unhindered in the tight stuff. I can't believe how good my tires were hooking up in the slick stuff, I had them both at [top secret] psi in the parking lot. For a low tread tire, they're certainly doing what I wanted... I have to say I'm not missing the Nobby Nic's at all.

Not much to report on other than mud and hills for lap three, and the joy of just riding my own pace. Lap 4 was entirely the same, until the last 1/3 or so of the lap, when all of a sudden I heard Pat Doyle trash talking me from behind, only about 10 seconds back. For crying out loud I was now going to have to pin it for the last 1/3 of the lap in an attempt to save my pride (Pat eats the pride of other riders for breakfast, lunch and dinner as he was chasing me down on his single speed!). He kept my finish honest and rolled in 10 seconds or whatever behind me.

Once I could breathe again, I took note that Mike and Devin were the only other two in our category standing around looking beat, so it seemed I had lucked my way into a third spot somehow, which made me happy. I could also now take a minute to see how far grease and mud had pushed their way into my calf by the way of introduction from my big chainring during the wipeout at the start. Nothing lengthens healing time on a few punctures like having some Finish Line Cross Country Wet Lube making friends with my epidermal layers.

Mical came rolling in a few seconds after Pat, after starting 2 minutes (I think??) behind us, and working her way through the entire field. Sweet!

The Team Bow Cycle Cyclemeisters had awesome prizes and draw prizes, I was sent home with a nice Specialized saddle, just the kind I like, for my result, and a Pedro's shop apron for a draw prize, which will serve me well. Tori received an "I Love Bowness" girly t-shirt and a big haul of Enervit products. Nice!

Shawn "Whole Wheat" Bunnin, as coined by Roddi, graced the podium with his GQ post race wardrobe in 2nd after chasing the flying Dutchman around for 2+ hours, Mr. Heemskerk. A team Saskatchewan rider whom I don't think I know rounded out the elite men. Hopefully Shawn can blow all his prize money on his sister's birthday dinner tonight, and to reward mom and dad for being good bike supporters! Bummer for Andrea who crashed and gets to commute home to Saskatchewan tomorrow with sore ribs.

Great rainy day event, see you all at the Summer Solstice in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Biking, more biking

I'm feeling somewhat over the pain of Sunday.  And interestingly enough, not filtering my feelings too much on the blog has had some interesting responses.
First - PND - I agree with your comments.  I also vaguely recall some encounter we had on the trail about you fixing a bridge.  I think my response was a) either only said to myself in my head, or b) not said loud enough for you to here.  That was during "spacey" time... just want to let you know I wasn't ignoring you or being a dink!
Devin, Craiger - I agree, the season is long, and it will be good.  I like riding hard, and with you two (and others) around, riding hard is the name of the game.  It's gonna be a good TR.
What's the C4 race?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Giver8er 8 hour enduro

I can't express how happy I am that the course was so sweet, the attendance was so good, the weather held out, and that our club and volunteers put it on so well. That's the positive side.

The side I'm less excited about is how I feel right now, I've never felt worse after a bike ride. I think I had a moment on the hot climb at La Ruta 2006 that was similar, but that at least dissipated after a while. I'm still feeling terrible 3.5 hours later.

My chosen career isn't very conducive to proper training and rest. I felt good for 3 hours, which is about the number of hours I've ridden each of the last two weeks. Working 80 hours a week, coming home past midnight from the office, is a downright shitty way to prepare for endurance events. No time for riding, and just as importantly, not proper time for rest.I knew today would hurt, I just didn't know how bad.

On the slightly lighter side, on my second last lap, I thoroghly bonked and lied down next to Josh who was course marshalling. I have to say I actually don't remember much of it, suffice to say Josh probably thinks I'm spacey (I was). Jack also appeared out of nowhere to brighten my spirits, and Cindy. The positive output of that stop was that I noticed the grass and mud caked into my rear derailleur lower pulley wheel. The grass probably got in there on lap 2 when I really tried to let it fly and went a few feet off trail on the long fast grassy downhill. I started picking at it with a stick, then broke the stick. Josh lent me a tool. I got some chain slack so I could try spinning the pulley. It took a three finger grip to turn it. I think I sunk a lot of energy into battling friction today. I spent 10 minutes digging all the grass and mud out, then took off.

It was like riding a rocket. I could pull 5 more gears on the hills, not granny. Yes, part of it was a little rest. But I could feel my energy going to motion. Also explains why my chain was "piling up" before, it wasn't spinning freely at all. Geez.

Either way, the sum of the above two points was a race I'd call embarassing. At least it was a good workout. My body was ready for a 4 or 5 out of 10, and this got me up pretty near a 10 - empty beyond wisdom. In fact if it wasn't a 10, I'm not to keen to figure out what a 10 feels like. Only thing I'm happy about is that no matter how many times I told myself to pack it in, my stubborn side reminded me that quitting isn't an option. For 90% of my last lap of pain I actually was gunning for, and thought I might make the cutoff time for another lap.

Everyone will have their stories, but mine for the day was lying in the dirt after the race for 35 minutes with a rain slicker on as a blanket, my body not willing to move or be vertical. My guts hurt, my legs were full on cramping (my fingers are still cramping now, and were also cramping when I was using utensils to devour some dinner).

Tori went by on the last stretch, wind at her back and on the slight downslope, just blazing. She was probably in the last dozen or so to finish, having passed through the start/finish some time before 2:59 so she could start another lap. That's an 8+ hour plus race. Made me want to cry with pride, but there were no fluids to spare. That's the most hardcore girl in the province who's sporting a novice ABA license, a total misnomer.

Reflecting now, I'm so impressed at how strong the field was, and the overall showing by the deadgoats. 6:30pm equals bed time.