Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
on the positive side, Tori did well. Some serious pulling left her strategic drafter better set up for the end than it left her. But a good day none-the-less.
I can't seem to find enough good luck to get me through a provincial road race, must have used that up on the cat 3 win a couple years back (or maybe my luck was avoiding going down at minute 4 and an ambulance ride?). I also don't have a very good record of riding well when either parent is in the vicinity... bummer.
Out of the 31 starters, I was one of the 15 DNF's. That's a very La Ruta-esque finishing statistic.
I had a flat at a time a bunch of others did, such that when I remounted my bike, it was 9.5 minutes after the flat. Little tough for me to think about hammering it out solo with that kind of deficit on a cat 2 peloton.
Just one of these days I want to come home from provincials, and say that whatever place I finished was all that my legs and lungs could muster - just a straight up feel good result. I actually felt pretty good today while I was still in the race, wish I could have seen how that might have played out.
Good job to Cyrus who finished without another bike in sight, in a place with 2km of sightline. Good job to Chris McNeil for keeping it pinned, and to Cody Canning who recovered from a flat about same time as me, found a chasing partner, and came back for third.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
Devin, Shawn, Tori and I carpooled up on Sunday morning, and got to Edmonton with only an hour to spare before the race. We prepped and did a short warmup.
This was my first race in elite, which I had looked forward to for a while. Off the start, I didn't feel like I was working hard, but I didn't feel fast. I knew I'd have to start slower to keep my legs from freezing up in protest. I rode the first lap behind Jeff Neilson, and by the second lap I started feeling more like I was racing. The course was dry and fast, which made for fun riding.
The fireman's climb and associated technical singletrack are where I felt best, as it was the longest sustained climb, so really the only part that felt very familiar to my TransRockies legs.
We caught Jon on the second lap heading into the singletrack, and I elected to leave him out front on the entry to the singletrack even if he was having an off day overall. Jeff blew by both of us for the first into the tight stuff, then got to hear our brakes at close range ; )
Plugged away at laps 3 and 4, not feeling much drain on my energy overall. Basically caught up to Devin on end of lap. 3, but got caught behind another rider on the tight singletrack after the road, and by the time we were out, my 5 second gap to Devin was more like 20 seconds. Plus he saw me approaching before, and decided he'd ratchet up his pace to leave me totally in the dust.
I skipped my last feed as we were only doing 5 laps rather than 6. On one of the climbs after the feed zone, I dropped my chain, and the time it took to get that sorted out allowed Jeff to come right back up behind me. We rode the remainder of the lap together, then sprinted for first into the Fireman's singletrack, complete with elbow jockeying and all. I went in first and coasted through the singletrack, then made some sort of foolish mistake before a large log, so I had to get clipped in before I could navigate it. Once we got out to the wide open, I realized that my dismount and hill run up before the log left me too breathless to counter Jeff's last attack.
Finished calmly in 10th, happy enough with that.
Tori said she really enjoyed the course, I'm glad she's having fun out there. She won some gold Nokon cables to go with her gold medal, and karma came my way after a donation so I ended up winning a Chris King headset. Two nice ingredients for the upcoming 'cross bike.
Dein finished 8th, and Shawn 6th... all of which was commemorated at BP's in Leduc afterwards.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Houston had storms, so we were diverted to Austin and sat on the tarmac for an hour. Next time I'm in Austin, I'm going to stay longer, and I'm also going to eat a big Texas sized meal to make amends with my stomach. I had a breakfast wrap at 6am and in the 13 hours post breakfast I was craving a little more than a little baggie of almonds. Ahh, the joys of business travel.
We got some cruddy takeout food at the airport, ran to a sedan waiting for us, which got me into a full sweat even though we were outside for less than 2 minutes. The heat and humidity of Houston aren't my forte. With the AC on full blast, we drive through a monsoon to the downtown core. I can see outside only far enough to determine that Houston's city zoning planners must be asleep on the job. We exit the sedan and get completely soaked, despite the guy trying to hold umbrellas over us. We run into a restroom in the JP Morgan Chase building and try to make it look like we didn't sleep on a park bench in our suits, then head up to the office. With all that happened today, we were only 4 minutes late.
Erik gets the pleasure of being the quarterback starting cold and running through our pitchbook, with my senior colleauges there for color commentary.
All I can think about is having little rest before dinner and a solid night's sleep and a relaxing breakfast by the pool tomorrow morning. Time to seriously de-stress.
Monday, 18 August 2008
I had a great time at TransRockies this year. Course was better than in the past, weather was great - not rainy and not too hot and dry. Everyone wants to know how it compares to BC Bike Race, so even though they're two different beasts, here's my take. TransRockies is pretty epic. For good, fit riders, it doesn't push you to explore your soul for strength like La Ruta does, but it's certainly longer and more physically challenging than BC Bike Race. BC Bike Race is closer to XC racing on a daily basis, but maybe doubling the lengths... maybe it had something to do with being sick and riding restrained for the start, but it seemed to dig less deeply into one's reserves each day.
TR food was better than prior, my local Calgary urge to bring extra was mostly just convenience on a few occasions. Quantity and types of food were good.
Our support was good, and I wish I could get by with less stuff. The few nights sleeping under the stars were great.
All the deadgoats did well, no injuries and nothing too severe in terms of mechanicals. It was fun to see Tim and Michelle each day and listen to both their new experiences - Tim's first mixed partner event and Michelle's first stage race. They always seemed enthusiastic.
I'm glad my Turner could do some extra duty, helping out always feels good. Providing a room for Tim and Michelle to stay in or to lend out a bike costs me nothing, but gives someone else a better experience. Crazy Larry had many a pep-talk with us this week. He's a guy who's really worth listening to, seems to have a lot more figured out than one might guess on first appearance.
Did I mention the competition seems to ratchet up a notch every year? The top 10 was a fast bunch. I guess we're the first hacks out there, since we're not equipped with impresive sounding championship titles and such on our palmares. It's fun to see them in action, and at the end of the day, I'm pretty happy with "holding our ground" to maintain last year's 11th place.
I don't think there's anything I'd rather do for a week than race mountain bikes!
Sunday, 17 August 2008
It seemed today was the hardest start of all the stages, 300m vertical right off the bat up the Blairmore ski hill. Once we got to the top, it seemed the race selections had been made for the most part, and we were in pretty good position.
We rode out to the highway with the New Zealand team, then past checkpoint one I used up a lot of energy staying in that paceline of 4 with Craig pulling. We did some traverse around a mountain, with short technical climbs I could ride much better than yesterday with the Turner.
There was a long, gradual climb out to check point 2, we were caught by a bunch of the masters (Tamarack and che Czech Masters) at the check point, but left before them and they had zero chance of seeing us again on the downhill.
This year ended with a bunch of single track around Fernie, and one last hot steep climb to get in some more technical trail. Craig started jamming up the climb, and we saw the New Zealand guys ahead of us whom we hadn't seen for a couple hours since they last dropped us. We ramped up our climbing and stormed past them, not too see them again until the finish. Felt good.
As we wound through the single track, we saw Tim and Tracey cheering everyone on, then Tori at another corner, then Jerry, Trish and Linda, plus others who were cheering for the deadgoats but who I couldn't make out as we went by... the last part of town trail was pea gravel that was like ball bearings to ride on.
We finished consistent with the week, 11th or 12th I think, and it turns out we were 11th overall... same as last year. We were handed our finish line goodies, and a free beer, then hung out to see the others come in. Geoff and Pat looked good at the end, as did Linden and John. Unfortunately Tim dislocated his shoulder again, tough way to wind up a race. Dallas and Mical finished third and looked chipper at the finish. The Polish guy came in looking happy, said he'd never ridden a "finely tuned machine" like that before. I tried explaining tubeless tires to him last night, but he had them rock hard today, too bad he couldn't feel the benefit of low pressure too. He washed the bike up nice and got me a bottle of booze of some sort for the favour.
Craig and I stopped over at a place Charlie and Trev were staying at, then swam in the river on the way back to our place. It feels so good to be showered and in clean clothes with nothing to do but relax.
The after party kept going and going. Tim seemed "percocet-ed" at the end dinner, but was his usual positive self nevertheless. I'm hoping he can drop the hammer sometime this season still. Michelle seemed happy to have finished it all up, always good to see all smiles at the end. Maybe the glass of wine on an empty stomach in the dinner lineup helped. Geoff Clark "had a few beers" which led to him going home with "less boxer shorts than he arrived with" because many people thought "atomic wedgies are funny". Many of you probably haven't seen Geoff throw a folding chair 20 feet before... I'm guessing it was Pat's first time to observe that as well. He generally did McKee '07 real proud. Trish demonstrated her party energy once again. Tracy kept the whole mess well fueled by using her feminine charms to ensure each $20 got us 5 or 6 beers rather than 4. John enjoyed antagonizing Pat. Tim and I observed that in such a scenario, the odds are well in favour of the sober guy, namely Pat. We couldn't come to a betting arrangement as we both agreed on the most probable outcome. Linden seems to be hooked on riding, which is awesome. Crazy Larry was leading a bee making school with balloons, apparently some random drunk bitch didn't think much of Linda's bee. I wasn't impressed, and I suspect I wasn't the only one. Not really sure where she came from. Craig sweated more on the dance "floor" than he did all week riding. Gerry recorded a fair bit of the action on camera. We visited 7-11 at 2:30am for such staples as the latest issue of Mountain Bike action (Tori would be impressed that I didn't even look twice at the body painted supermodel Sports Illustrated issue once I saw the mountain bike magazine), microwavable mac n' cheese, a western omelete burrito and cookie dough ice cream.
Friday, 15 August 2008
On the gravel road, Craig and I rode with the Espresso guys for an hour, then when the Trek guys came by we jumped on their wheel. Lots of gravel road paceline action.
On the second climb, Trev and Charlie and the Sobe guys passed, then the climb got technical. I rode my Turner today as my new Lefty is having issues, and it was doing everything it could on the technical climbs to buck me off - front and rear shocks were not working together at all. Lots of stuff I could ride I was dismounting to walk just to avoid frustration. Craig was climbing 99% of the terrain.
We crested racehorse pass, and I learned that my terminal velocity on the Turner was 10% slower, had a hard time keeping Craig in sight. We did see a badass badger crossing a bridge toward us, neat to see.
Eventually Espresso caught us again, as well as the Tamarack team. We rode into checkstop 3 together, then it was off to brave the steep, hot, direct sun baked quad trails going straight up the mountains around Blairmore.
All in we got passed by 5 teams, which left us at the familiar 12th on the day... which surprises me a bit at how fast our start was. Nothing like a 15 minute all out time trial to start a 100km mountain bike stage, I was tired at the end.
Pat and Geoff had a good day, but Pat crashed on the first bridge in the singletrack which was cause for a little pause. They were 4th on the day.
It was hot, dry and long.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
After the first checkpoint I couldn't hold the first group and started sliding back. Craig was riding strong, we crossed the rivers without dismounting, then started the first big climb. It took a lot out of me, after that was totally looking forward to the downhill - did my best to avoid the brakes. We cruised along, but on the gravel road I had a hard time keeping up to Craig, who's now known as the "c-train" when I'm working to stay in the draft, I had a tough time making the power over the tops of hills, felt lots of cumulative fatigue. The section between checkpoints 1 and 2 was hard, I was suffering to move along, sort of dreaded the upcoming climb.
I got the guy at checkpoint 2 to dig out a full banana for me instead of a sliced one. Was worried about trying to stay with ClimbingCraig for the next hour. Somehow that whole banana fired me up for the hike a bike and climb, so we passed a bunch of teams right away and kept going hard right to the top. Felt good. We survived the downhill, no dabbing or wipeouts. I did have 2 butterflies go into my helmet on the way down, I tried to shake them out while riding but it didn't work... was hoping to make it to the gravel so I could go no-hands and take my helmet off, but they were crawling on my head which I couldn't take... so I had to stop to let them out.
Craig hammered out the last few km, we finished early enough to do some serious R&R, hit the pool and all of that good stuff. Traded my helmet as collateral for 2 burgers and 2 greek salads, sweet.
Pat and Geoff finished fifth I think, had a solid but slightly more tired day. Mical rode again (good news) in middle ring (bad news), front shifter pod was toast.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
I was maxed out on the first climb, and with a little assistance from Craig we made it over the top in pretty good company with the 7-15th teams. After burning a few matches on the climb, I wasn't to keen on using my brakes on the descent. Had a good time, although some guy took a big time high speed wipeout next to Craig.
On the rolling gravel road, we worked super hard to stay in the group, and managed to do so until a double track climb... where unfortunately the whole group decided to go for a bonus climb again... doh!
Lost a bunch of time, but we all circled back and tried to fix our mistake. Since I'm being strung out just hanging in any climbs these days, it took a lot out of me. Fortunately right after we dipped into some technical singletrack, and the Kiwi's whom we rode much of the TT with were in front, and yielded in friendly fashion to see if "I could work some of my magic again" on the trail. How flattering. I did my best to oblige, knowing they'd power back up to me on the next open road.
We did the river crossings, which toasted my blister bandaid, then got on the open gravel road where we could see ahead some of the teams we had dropped earlier in the day. Our group came together again, and we were just gearing up to make some miles disappear, when Craig flatted. Bummer! We lost contact and started again on our own another 6 or 7 spots down, plus 7 or 8 minutes down from our group.
I tried to survive the second climb, but it was tough and demoralizing, as I couldn't close down the gap to the mixed team 30m ahead over a 45 minute climb. Later I found out she's a US single speed champ and a whole bunch of other impressive things.
I suffered over the top, and Craig I think read my quietness right - I just wanted to see the finish.
On the way down, Craig pulled for 30k, although we did catch Ryan Draper/Drew Simpson so Ryan helped out. Caught some Sobe guys who dropped us earlier in the day too, so we sprinted for the finish... turns out with the couple misadventures we came in 11th, although some huge time changes happened so who knows what the GC looks like.
Pat and Geoff I think were 5th, but I'm not 100% on that one. Pat said he had a rougher start.
We're all having fun. It's nice weather, today was warm-ish but also mercifully overcast. We're a well functioning team, which I can't say for everyone in our immediate vicinity. I'd say our two biggest effort days (day 2 and today) didn't have much to show for it at the end (Monday nullified, and the "reward" today was just not slipping into oblivion), so it'd be nice to have a big effort count more at some point. I'm pretty tired, and I'm trying to toe the line between pacing myself for the week and putting out efforts each day. I don't want to slip over the edge that I can't ever recover from, going downhill for the rest of the week is an ugly thing to have happen. We'll see!
The course was a good mountain bikers course, plenty of technical single track, plus the amazing canyon views.
I tried to turn down the suck and slow Craig down as little as I could, and likewise he tried to speed me up as much as he could. Worked well, we had a solid day that we felt good about.
Pat and Geoff won the 40+ mens, and not only that but they actually finished first too which looked good coming across the line, as they started behind some others.
Mical rode for the first time, good to see her in biking gear and looking more alive. I certainly didn't have what she had... but I know that being around, or trying to bike race when ill isn't all that fun. They rode far back in the pack, so I'm hearing all kinds of stories from "gorby's" who saw "some girl take this hairy descent at full speed, it was crazy". Nipika had a lot of great downhill bits to seperate the walkers from the riders.
Michelle and Tim did their first podium appearance in #3, which was cool to see. They seemed to be pretty happy.
It was nice having a lower volume day and being in one spot to relax more. The live one man band was awesome.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
We climbed up a gravel logging path, and it got steeper with each turn. Dallas and I resorted to pushing, Craig rode it until the hike a bike started.
The hike a bike was up a steep avalanche chute. We were supposed to climb a ways, then catch a trail to the right to make it into the saddle between two mountains. It was so steet and hard to hike, everyone just looked at the footprints in front of them and tried to keep going. At one point we saw the leaders up by a cliff band at the top of the mountain, after who knows how long of burying ourselves trying to climb this thing, and it dawned on us collectively that this was wrong. Dallas had bolted right earlier without really being seen. 20 of us grouped together, probably about spots 8-25, and bushwacked right and down the mountain, after starting a chain of questioning down the mountain to see if anyone could see ribbons to the right (no answer came back). We were worried (through earlier example) of showering rocks down on the people below if we descended that way. I was cramping bad at the top from the climb.
Eventually we made it to the trail, which was fresh cut and hard to navigate with cramping legs. I finished all my fluids and we rolled down to checkpoint 2, where among other things I got a large blister on my right arch taped up.
From there it was the Bear Creek climb, which we spun out at a moderate pace without seeing anyone. The Bear Creek descent was awesome, we rode it solo other than passing one team of Norwegians in the last 10 minutes of it. Such amazingly challenging trail in there, it was super fun.
Blasted down the gravel road, with one final steep climb to Nipika. We finished 7th on the day, and were surprised Dallas wasn't in yet. He spent some quality alone time in the woods, and came in only a few minutes later.
Turns out our 6.5 hour effort should have been moderated. Everyone had opinions on the subject, but the end result was that the day's winners would receive prizes, but day 1's GC would hold. It does make sense, although it doesn't put much credit to anyone's ability to problem solve on the mountain side - front groups race each other so hard, when they screw up, it takes a long time to self diagnose. The Italians fixed their issue and finished 4th (descended with our group), but all those leading Rocky Mountain teams made different calls appparently.
Tomorrow is a TT with very, very sore muscles for a lot of people.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Pat and Geoff did great, as did our American friends.
Only downside to today was putting a contact lens in with cleaner in my eye in the morning... Ouch!
Tomorrow looks really long and tough. BC Bike Race is fun and short. TransRockies is epic.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Last time my back straightened itself out in a few days and felt solid for BC Bike Race. This time around, I've done all kinds of theraputic endeavours, but it hasn't "gone away". It's not all that bad, but it's got this lingering feeling all the time letting me know it isn't right.
I watched Tori's first road race yesterday, which was fun. She did a good job, and seemed to have quite a fun time at it. Bikes are human creations with two wheels, just a machine. But sometimes they are life itself. Regardless of "how Tori does" in whatever race, as a near observer, I'm seeing the slippery slope take another one. Bikes take the role of life changing catalyst at some point. Tori had that already - transportation, exploration, etc. Then the racing part kicked in... mountain bikes, now road racing, then questions about cyclo-cross started popping up. Once cyclo-cross is on the radar, there's no sense in even trying to repent.
Tim and Michelle dropped by ahead of TransRockies. Nice to see them, even if Tim surprised us being dreadlock-less for the first time in 14 years. Everyone's excited for the race.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Watching the Tour de Bowness when I could was awesome. The gang of people that I find myself around are such a bunch of die-hard performance junkies I'm always impressed. Jon, Craig, Devin and Shawn had great weekends, as did Shawn's sister Andrea. We're lucky they don't make a team omnium category in stage races, as the Bunnin's would have that category tied up pretty well. Carson Bannon had what appears to be a breakout weekend of success, I'm super impressed.
It's time to relax, it was a long, long weekend. After a weekend in overdrive and a 4pm board meeting with me in the hot seat in front of a cross section of Calgary's... uhh... BSD's (definition #2) shall we say, I need to calm down. Even when I wasn't physically at my work, I was thinking about it... can't really leave that stuff behind. Usually it'd be a bike ride until my body was placated, but I think hammering till I'm exhausted a couple days before TransRockies isn't the best!