Sunday, 31 May 2009

TransPortugal Day 1

Portugal 1, Erik 0

The heat, the lack of sleep and the time zone change killed me, full on merciless slaughter.  Ride time was 10:59, 1 min under the cutoff, so I was last I think... Maybe I should have done the Giver8er instead!  First 4 hours I rode "normally", and I thought I was pacing smartly. After that the heat and everything else caught up with me.  I thought I was drinking smart quantities and mixes, but apparently not.  Spent 2 hours not riding - around 1pm I was hurting, realized that equated to 6am at home, and was absolutely cooking on some La Ruta-ish hill with no wind.  Once I crested I took a short descent, then remembered my Trinidadian friend - take 'er eeaasy mon.  Slept along an ancient rock wall under an oak, in sight of a arched stone bridge over a stream.  Very like a Monet painting.  Some things you can make happen on the trail.  What I can't make happen is reduction of jet lag, increased sleep the last few nights, and acclimation to heat.

Legs were fine, mind was fine, heart and lungs fine.  Fuel pump failed, heating system then overloaded. 

After the nap, I was in a new world.  Guys with broken frames.  Guys puking trailside with heat issues.  Guys cramping spasmodically.  I did 4 stops of at least 15 minutes.  Made new friends and talked.  One guy is doing this because his doctor told him he was fat and had too much stress.  His doctor is Antonio's doctor.  He started riding, dieting, and set this as his goal.  He wanted to buy a Porche, but doctor told him building yourself into a big engine was better than buying one.  Another guy signed up 3 years ago and just came now - had such a severe knee injury that rehab and surgeries took 2 years.  I think my room mate Oliver finished.  Christopher my Trinidadian friend broke his GPS somehow, so he had to ride with others.  He came up while I was lying under some trees and had a gel and tried to fix it.  15 minutes later he was ejecting the contents of his stomach in the sweltering heat.  I waited 20 meters up the trail and tried not to hear the heaving too much.  We rode together for a while, and stopped for some electrolytes.  30 mins later he told me to stop waiting and go on, sorta melodramatic.  I'm not sure if he finished.

The scenery was just beautiful.  Saw snakes, lizards, birds of prey, nice little towns, beautiful mountains and vineyards.  The course was great, mostly doubletrack and farm roads.  When I was 4k from the finish, and watching my clock in disbelief at how tight it was going to be, a farmer had 75 sheep on the road.  Riding through or around them didn't work, so going into town I had to push it on the last climb.  My legs were cramping.  They also were cramping when I dismounted at the finish, while washing my bike, while getting a massage, while eating dinner.  Seems to have subsided a little now.

I hope someone ordered clouds for tomorrow.  It doesn't show up on the queue sheet the same as the Portugese guys are telling me, but they're saying there's a 24km climb with just a few small downs to break it up.  "It will test your will, and it's always hot with no wind".  What doesn't kill you makes you stronger I guess. 

It's now 10:30pm and I hope after the bus to the hotel I can sleep.  3:30pm home equivalent and I feel wide awake.

They told me I'll be so happy when I see the Algarve and the Mediterranean that I'll cry.  If today is indicative of how the rest of my week is going to go, I'm not sure I'll be able to wait till then. 

Tori completed her marathon in 4:35 and I'm super happy for her.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

TransPortugal Day 0

After getting to bed at 1:45, I got up at 7 to a window full of blazing sun, clear blue sky and Portugese birds - basically mother nature's alarm clock on full blast.  Usually I'd think that was pretty cool, but this is my second day of less sleep than I'd prefer, so I'm hoping tonight I can get a full rest in tonight or later in the day.

So far Portugal feels much like last time - between the climate and the people, this place just feels so welcoming.  It's warm, hospitable, relaxed, and neat and tidy.   Other than frying my mind during the days, this looks like it'll be very refreshing on the mind.

My room mate is Oliver, an Australian who's been working real estate private equity in China for nearly a decade and is fluent in Cantonese.  Went to MBA school at IESE in Barcelona.  With the global slowing and desire to branch out, he's chilling a bit more these days... but this is his first ever bike race.  We'll see how that turns out.  He's asking a lot of questions and I hope he can complete the week, which is his goal.

The bike was together by 9am in what feels to me like fairly oppressive heat.  Only problem is my seat collar broke, but I had an extra on this bike for two years as I had thought for that long that it was near failure.  I think with the travel legs, less sleep than usual, and heat, that my better days might be later in the week, but we'll see.  I can see tomorrow being limited in pace by heat more than legs - I think they're saying in the 30-35 range, which isn't that bad, but it's also the first time I've felt those temps this year.  The Portugese people I was driving with said it was too hot these days...  My lower back is sore, but probably not in a very bad way, it's just that for 2 days I haven't had extensive lie down combined with way too much sitting in vehicles.

The hotel is very nice, I think we're in 4 star and apparently one 5 star for the week.  Somehow breakfast, bike building, race meeting, and GPS practice has taken most of the day, but I have to admit I nodded off for 90 mins of napping in the hot morning sun that approximated 3:30-5am sleep at home.

I think this race has some serious riders (the Belgians and a few of the Portugese from what I can tell) and some who aren't prepared.  My main lack of preparation is with the GPS, and Antonio stressed that everyone will wish they spent more time with one ahead of time somewhere during the race.  But the types of questions being asked are kind of surprising.

I think Antonio is a hardcore rider himself (evidenced by his head being distinctly tanned just like his helmet vents), and the setup makes a lot of sense if you can ride on your own for 6 hours.  This is like randonneuring fast, or our spring cyclocross adventure/hammer rides.  Stop in towns if you need to, but other than that it's long self supported rides everyday.  Water "availability" is marked on the map - towns with fountains or cafes.  Our race pack carries a 2 laminated business cards.  One has emergency numbers and stage stats.  The other has Portugese-English translations, ominously including running bulls (gado bravado), bus (autocarro), and chemists (farmacia).  I hope to stick to the basics like water (agua) and beef steak sandwich (prego).

I hadn't realized there were random TT sections in the course for bonus time racing.  I'm sure they'll be late in the day and hard.  Some of them are secret, some are marked.  Message: always ride hard.  This Antonio guy has a few things figured out... plus with the handicap system, his sign off for the speech was "every one of you can be on the podium".

Louize is an awesome translator, she's a Scottish marine biologist and does this too, after having lived in Portugal for years.  She's also a bike rider bike rider too, which helps conceptual translation in addition to just verbal translation... and she's just funny.  The staff are all friendly.

I had lunch with Ryan and Christoper, two pilots from Trinidad who know Cory Wallace from TransMexicana.  They're doing TransAndes next spring and just take turns picking different adventures.  When the going gets tough, they said "rememba to take 'er eeaasy mon".  But they also say Trinidad is all stress (I'm not sure I believe this judging by their personalities) and that Tobago is waaay chilled, totally different, "like chalk and cheese, mon".

At 5pm the GPS brief was done so I ride about 10k of the course out and back.  Bike feels great, I'm riding UST tires, and at standard pressures the feel so different here when it's 32C - nice and supple.  Fork oil seems to move so freely.  The course passes through a little town about 6km away - stone arch bridges, donkeys eating grass, goats dogs and cats lying around.  Totally pleasant, and it feels like going back in time.

The first climb looks steep on the scale, but isn't too bad.  It's doubletrack, and what I noticed most is my contacts and mouth were dry - I think I'm going to evaporate pretty quickly tomorrow. 
Dinner is pretty good - sphaghetti, pig, and chestnuts, with wine and iced tea, plus sponge cake and fruit.  I hope to get a good nights sleep.

Ola Portugal

The first class lie down bed was totally deluxe, although I think I only slept 6 hours.  I was going to skip drinking at dinner, but they offered port with dessert, and hey, I am heading to Portugal...

Tori and I had a power coffee at 5am "our time" in Frankfurt then split up for our athletic pursuits.  I walked to seemingly the furthest end of the airport to catch my flight, which was delayed as catering forgot to bring food.

The delay was made up for by the teutonic pride that only allows Lufstansa to hire twenty-something aspiring models...

Lisbon was warm upon arrival, sort of a shock to the system.  It appeared my bike box hadn't arrived, so I took a number and stood in line to talk to customer service.  Turns out I needed to look not in the clearly labelled luggage belt 7, or the nearby "oversize", or the nearby "Area A - other luggage", but some unlabelled utility door on the other side of the luggage arrival's second area nowhere near me.  Logic aside, I was just happy to see my bike box.

I was coming in later than the bus to Braganca, so I was going to ride up with a race person.  Turns out 4 of us met for the first time today - Ricardo a mechanic for the race (and full time mechanic), Patricia an organization helper (painter/sculpture is her other occupation), and Jose, who's a dirtbiker, mountain biker, scuba diver and looks like a pirate.  I don't think I've ever encountered a more chilled out group, especially Jose.

Tea, coffee, coke, and pig sandwiches broke the ice, while we were still waiting for the bikes of a British couple before departing.  Drive should be 5 hours, maybe more because the Peugeot van can't quite keep up to the Mercedes van.  We're having fun.  I've been awake for a long time and want to get there, but I also recognize the mountains, roads and towns from a few years ago.

Got to Braganca at 1:30am and was told each room has one key - I get to go wake up some person from somewhere in the world who's my room mate.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Erik & Tori vacation

Air Canada check in person "AC": do you have your boarding passes?
E&T: yes.
AC: where are you going on vacation?
E: Portugal.  8 day mountain bike race.
T: Edinburgh.  Marathon.
AC: you're not vacationing together?
E&T: we're just flying one way together.
AC: that's kind of different.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Lynskey 29er Single Speed first ride and impressions

I learned what I needed to learn about this bike today REALLY fast. After the Nutbrown's dropped by for a nice lunch with baby Gavan chilling out, I started riding over to meet Devin to ride Sideshow and COP's verboten lands.

As I cruised across the footbridge by my house, I decided to dive right in and ride the stairs on the university side instead of the spiral ramp. All I needed to learn today about the Lynskey happened in 4 seconds:
A) the bike is super solid and takes the steep stair descent with poise - the geometry is confidence inspiring and the material makes the frame supple not bone jarring - the beauty of titanium.
B) I messed up and installed bottle ejectors rather than bottle cages.
C) NEED to put a few more travel limiting spacers in the Lefty - I think the 29ers are supposed to run with 80mm not 100. When I finished the first flight, the shock compressed enough that the tire rubbed the bottom of the head tube, making the dreaded BRRAAPP sound of knobs rubbing on something that doesn't give. In addition to the maximum travel being used, this provided me with an immediate doubling of breaking force. I think I got to a point where my belly button was over the head tube, my arms were strained, and I was really hoping not to eject over the rail for a 15' swan dive.

Somehow it all held together. A lady walking up the stairs looked at me funny... and I didn't feel like walking the second set of stairs. Grabbed my bottle before it rolled off the ledge, clipped in, u turned and hit the second flight with a little more knowledge. Bottomed out again, but I was pushing my weight back more in anticipation and sort of wheelied the last few, so all worked out fine.

Trust me, the first 3 mins on my new bikes aren't usually like this, but at least the getting to know each other part went fast. There's a high degree of built in trust already at this point with the calmness of the new frame!

Next fun part was dropping into Sideshow from the top by the chain link fence... this entry leads down the steep chute with mini drop, then the 90+ degree hard right to put you on the rest of the trail. You know how new disc brake pads need to wear in a bit before providing full stopping power? Yeah, I know that too, but just not today when it would have been handy to keep fresher in my mind. This is the part where our burgeoning trust is tested again, as I say to Lynskey: "man we aren't slowing down much and the we need little less speed for this sharp right" and Lynskey replies ala Pulp Fiction "bitch be cool" so we could ride it out... explored the rhubarb a bit down below the trail, but calmly on two wheels.

Following this we proceeded in Cool Hand Luke style - "stick with me pal, and you'll be just fine" says Lynskey, and from there things went pretty smooth. Just powered out little climbs with great rear traction, coasted the swoops, it was all good. It's fun to play with big big traction, and other than leaving the Lefty set up with too much travel, the action on the Fox internals is just magic... I'd spent some time tweaking the setup (pure guess) this morning and it just felt so functional and positive.

The aggressive tube shaping definitely brings the frame rigidity up, totally noticeable relative to my round tube ti bikes (I'm sure the giantly wide downtube to BB shell flare helps too). It's no Cervelo R3 (last I checked they don't have a 29er Lefty model anyway), but it also is very noticeably different than a "simple" ti constructed frameset. You may not notice the whole round tube flex on regular ti frames if you just do geared bikes. But when trying to bend the frame with your legs is the goal like on a SS this awesome ti manipulation is the way to go.

Second rule for SS in my books: avoid eccentric BB's like the plague. Once we got over to COP, we switched up bikes for a little bit. Devin's got some love scheduled for the Niner, and I'm sure it'll get back to the glory days (in fairness he's blazed a lot of miles on this thing). But what I noticed first is there was a lot more to listen to than just my lungs and heart and tires on trail. I don't miss having passed mine along, those BB's keep asking for rider attention to keep them doing their thing properly.

BB's are the highest stress point of a bike. Single speeders put out the same power as they do on geared bikes, but they utilize a broader torque range. Putting moving parts at the highest torque point of a bike makes no sense to me... the designs are elegant and make sense on paper... trails are the real proving ground. Slider dropouts or just plain horizontal dropouts are the way to go in my humble opinion.

Back to the switch test - as expected, the ti frame provides a more buttery or Cadillac feel. All the same bumps are there, but they're shouting at you from the next room with the door closed rather than right in your ear.

We banged out 3 laps of the technical Giver8er course, which was good for just getting to know the bike. As all 29er's with front suspension, the front end sits high. Yet the steering is crisp, felt much closer to a race bike with 3" drop from saddle in handling, but with the security on the steep and gnarlies of still having a higher front end. The Industry Nine wheel seems to nicely compliment the stiffness of the Lefty, no sense putting a soft spring in a system of springs...

With the wide bar and steep climbs, nothing squeaked or flexed to the rub point even in max push/pull mode at low cadence, which surprised me as my rear wheel was just a tad off center after I tensioned the chain.

The only two things I can even think to complain about are just part/situation specific. The cages need some bending or replacing so they can actually cage bottles. And the big Racing Ralphs deliver awesome traction (climbing grip and corner railing) on hardpack, soil, roots, float on sandy parts, but when the trail goes to ball bearing gravel, they just have so much width and short knobs that they float too easily on top. Fine as long as you see it coming and are ok with drift... just let it roll!

After all the joy of single speeding had my legs getting slower (after trying to keep near Devin on the last climb right up to the 77th Street exit), I did a slow lap and played who's the boss with the foliage and twigs that aspired to poke mountain bikers endlessly for 8 hours at the Giver8er next week. 8 hour enduro's are hard as it is, I don't need to be whipped 200 times each lap - and maybe that's just me, but I assumed a few others might be in the same boat. I wore out one set of gloves busting pokey sticks. Maybe the tree huggers will be mad at me, but I'm pretty sure there's a billion more poplar suckers growing beyond the couple hundred ones I snapped. It's all fun and games till someone loses an eye...

After a 5 hour first date, I think the Lynskey has exceeded my expectations pretty solidly. A solid bike would have done the trick. This thing is solid, quiet, smooth, beautiful and light, plus just a pure pleasure to ride from a geometry perspective. Love it!

TransPortugal - getting closer, bunch of info

I'm officially getting pretty excited about this.  Of course, as usual, I've left some things too late, but really what counts is the legs and the will to ride a few kilometers day after day, so I'm not too worried.  I'm especially pleased that I'll be flying over first class in a lie down bed... the thought of flying over back of the bus and starting a big stage race had my legs hurting in advance.

The forecast looks attractive, better than the last month in Calgary.

Here's the race pack - it's a big file but is informative with the nice maps.  Probably best to click and go have a coffee for a few mins - it's 73 megabytes with all the detail.

Keith Bontrager did a nice write up of his experience a few years ago, we'll see how I survive the heat and vertical.  A couple years ago on one of our French Alps trips we logged about 55,000 vertical feet in a week, it was a killer trip.  But that was on road bikes on extended climbs... so this one will be tough.

I'll come back either fit or toast!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Lynskey Pro29 Lefty built as Single Speed

Last fall I hatched a plan to build a "recession bike" over the winter. I ditched my last single speed as the eccentric BB proved too eccentric to get along well with me, and I’ve been longing for another SS ever since. A single speed seemed to fit the bill for a recession bike - utilitarian, durable, simple, and inexpensive in theory. I had about 2/3 of the parts lying around the garage - I just needed a front wheel and a frame. I poked around a little and decided on a Kona Big Unit, which is a reasonably priced, non-eccentric BB scandium frame. Turns out that it couldn't accept a Cannondale Lefty as the adapter for the different sized head tube wouldn't fit on a head tube as long as the Kona's. Oops. Dallas will enjoy it no doubt.

As you know, this post is about a Lynskey Pro29 Custom. Lynskey's are beautifully made with advanced tube shaping, as I learned by seeing a new friend ride one in La Ruta last year. But titanium bikes don't usually compete well on a price point basis with Kona. Here’s where the recession bike idea failed, but oh well. I'm a sucker for sweet rides, and there's a lot of things I'd rather cut costs in my life before bicycles. Just about anything in fact... but I digress.

They were willing to do the work to create this with the "Lefty" head tube, which was a really cool thing for them to take on. I can't unfortunately opine yet on its ride quality, although it did feel nice riding across the street from Bow Cycle with the saddle height just guessed at. Marty stayed an hour after the shop closed just to get me out and on my way... thanks Bow!

What I can say is it feels light, feels sturdy, and freakin' looks like a million bucks! Total steal of a deal because it didn't cost nearly that much… they’ve certainly delivered on the eye candy front.

I've gone 29er again, as I believe this format is practical for SS bikes - the rear wheel traction is a big plus, as is the fun rolling. SS bikes require a lot of downhill coasting no matter what, so it's fun to maximize that sensation with the traction and roll of the large wheels. I previously had the Chris King/Stans rear wheel, and was looking for a stiff front wheel to compliment the Lefty, and decided to go with an Industry Nine build with Stans rims. The XTR crank may seem a bit much, but given what a new set of XTR chainrings goes for, I'm a little ahead if I value the cost offset of the next replacement... plus I get a little more bling along the way. The stainless cages match the titanium color very well.

Note the dropout detail... I feel lucky already. I'll start riding this with a 32/20 which is what my last 29er had, I've got a 19 cog handy too in case I start feeling strong or ride more flats. This picture really satisfies my desires to stare at beautiful craftsmanship and manipulation of metals... ahhh...

The head tube badge looks awesome, as does the curved top tube, helix downtube, and nice wide Easton bar that Marty fitted for me.

That helix looks cool. It'd be even cooler if my DNA had some super cycling genes in their helix action, but I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Hey Pat,

Deadgoats want to thank you for cheering us on this weekend!  Good to see you out.

Trans Stony Superhero Challenge

After a sweet night's rest mixed with a John Deere tractor engine modified to air conditioning use, plus a few trains notifying us that Canada's economy is at least somewhat active, we woke for another big day of riding.  Local word had it that ABC Country Restaurant was the place for big breakfasts, so off we went.

After downing our mega calories, we stopped at Tim's for a little extra coffee... then over to the race site.  We didn't have too much time to spare, just hike a few items up to the pit zone, change and start.

We rode basically the same course as yesterday, save for a couple new zigs and zags, one being right off the start that we did wrong and then the first 6 or so had to ride through the field again.  Oops.

Beautiful course, dry again, super fun, and challenging to ride "perfectly" each lap.

After the first lap, Craig and Jeff were gone by lightyears, I was riding in third, and Geoff, Pat and Devin were near behind.  We all found our rhythm and started pounding out the laps.  After an hour or so, Gabor passed me on a climb on his singlespeed putting out serious looking power.  I figured if he planned to do that for the whole race, I should start golfing.  His wife must be making some fiery Hungarian goulash these days, cause he looked like he meant business.

We traded leads up a few times, and for an hour or so rode in 4 man deadgoat formation - Geoff, Devin, Pat and I.  ABA should start offroad TTT's - our club is already there.

I passed the bee at one point, unfortunately the chain fix from last night didn't survive.  She had fixed it enough to roll into the feed/mech zone to figure out how to fix it better, but a bit of a bummer.

I rode a lap with Devin, the I faded and he accelerated, leaving me going solo.  It was nice.  Reports from the front were that Craig and Jeff were still killing it, and I knew Pat and Geoff were behind my by just a minute or two.

From about lap three, I was having wheel rubbing frame issues again, similar to when I broke my frame last year, but I kept looking and didn't see frame problems.  It took me a while to notice four things: a) it only happened at "higher" speeds, b) it mostly happened when banking left turns, c) tight singletrack lefts didn't do it, and d) worst of the observations, each lap it was getting more problematic.  Eventually I figured out that it was only when coasting, and that pedalling 100% of the time kept it at bay.  This kind of got me thinking that it was the hub, and that the rubbing probably stresses a carbon bendy joint in the wrong way with vibration and friction - such that last year's frame issue was probably caused more by Mavic than a fault of Cannondale... hmmm.  Either way, it's a bit hard to pedal 100% of a course, and I was getting tired.  Didn't want to send another frame to the rubbish bin... then oddly enough, without crash or anything, my front derailleur goes at a wonky angle and I can only use middle ring.  The clamp didn't slip, it's still aligned, and I can't (even now) see what's up with it other than I can see it's messed and isn't working.

I was trying to examine both these at the feed zone when a wind and rainstorm blew in, which usually I like.  I like the attrition and epic-ness of that kind of weather, but this time I was on the wrong side of it.  I was feeling a bit weak at that point, but pounding out a few laps while feeling miserable isn't necessarily something I shy away from... but  I couldn't see anything I could do that was going to improve either malfunctioning part... so I bit the bullet and bailed out.  Same time coincidentally as Gerry - we both rode 4 hours out of six.   

Looks like Jeff leading, Craig second, Devin third, Pat fourth and now Geoff fifth.  We'll see how it turns out, but I'd almost call any mixture of those as a deadgoat sweep as Jeff is riding on a left eggbeater pedal I gave him this morning, so that pretty much means his result today counts for our club ; ) The Bee was lapping still and seemed happy.  Hope the Bee outfit is warm when the wind and rain pick up. 

I've parked the car now by a shed/barn that's open to one side so the rest of the gang doesn't have to change with cold rain falling on them (I wasn't smart enough to do this before I changed, but at least they'll have the benefit of my little experience getting chilled).  I want to be a good team player and go up to the feed zone, but I can't find anything waterproof to wear, doh! (I'm debating a dirty towel and a car floor mat to keep some water off until I reach the tents - don't want to move the car for fear of losing our prime dry change area).

At least from here I can see Pat "spinning" out the climbs on his 27 speed Norco Phase in exactly one gear - probably the same ratio as his single speed, and he's got the "I don't care how ugly the weathr gets, I mean business" face going.

Bee is going by, so I'm gonna go give her some positive buzz!

Watching the finish, Jeff rode in looking pretty empty for the win, but only a minute or two elapsed before his humor came back.  Kate Aardal hammered it home for the women, man she was looking strong and putting out power right to the end.  Pat rode in next, securing 4th and looking strong.  Craig came in a minute or two later, solidly taking second.  Steve Ayote rode in looking sharp and having left it all out there feeling empty.  Geoff DNF's 1/2 lap after me, broke a derailleur/hanger and carbon portion the hanger was screwed to right off.  Might be expensive...

Last in from our squad was Devin.  He started his last lap with not much time to spare, I was amazed he even went out for another.  We saw him in the distance as the announcer was saying need to be in in 3 mins for this one to count.  We ran down and started yelling for him to go go go.  He crested the hill and had to do the grassy field descent and climb back up to the top in 60 seconds.  All deadgoats on hand ran down to cheer him along in THE MOST IMPRESSIVE FINISH of the weekend.  Total VO2 test to make it in in time.  He collapsed post finish making distressing noises and didn't talk for 3 minutes, but that's the price of having a badass sprint finish I guess!

We all did well on draw prizes at the end, Tori got a pink Chris King BB, I got a set of Rasta colored Salsa skewers, etc. 

The race organization and prizes and general vibe were awesome this weekend - great job ABA, United and the landowners. 

Awesome racing weekend!

Bacon Buffet - Stony Plain

Devin, Craig and I left town about 10:30 to drive up to Stony Plain for the xc race.  We got there just in time for a 7 minute warmup after sign in, then lined up for the start.  I felt tired all morning and didn't know how the day would go.

I started at the back, felt really good just hanging on for the first lap, not burning too much energy.  Part way into the lap I got passed, decided to sit on the wheel for a while... Good for half a lap, but then buddy started slowing down.  I went to pass back and he sped up and didn't yield trail.  Sweet.  By lap times this was going to be over 2 hours of race, I had a hard time believing trail defense at the 30 min mark was going to be material.  Tried again 5 mins later, same result - then 5 mins later he just pulled off and came to a full stop.  Odd.

From there on in, it was pretty much riding my own pace and enjoying the course.  This course is always fantastic, technical enough to be challenging but with enough space for a little speed.  Ended up riding with Jeff "muscles" Neilson for a while, he's always positive to have nearby on the trail, so I throughly enjoyed that while it lasted.

Jeff was riding fast, and we actually got pretty near to Craig and Devin for a lap, which is pretty unusual for me half way into a race.  That ddn't last long as Devin attacked that group, and Jeff popped me off.  I tried not to fade too much on the last few laps, but it's hard - haven't been riding with intensity too much lately really.  Managed to ride the steep "houffalize" style climb each lap, would have liked to have done a bigger gear, but oh well.

Could see the race develop well as the course twisted around tightly - Devin was chasing the leader and only a few seconds behind.  Craig and "the blender" were in third and 4th until Jeff rode by them. 

Devin ended up in 2nd, awesome showing of his riding when not being crashed out.  Craig ended up solidly in 4th.  The blender was 5th and I held on for 6th.  Felt good about that given how lethargic I felt on the drive up. 

Tori's birthday present ride didn't work out quite as well, she broke her chain on lap 2.5 out of three, bummer.  Gerry got to the start late for his race - and Pat and Geoff seemed happy with their races - I forgot the places since looking at results yesterday.

We dined without showering at BP's and everyone had schooner sized beers for Tori's birthday.

Our hotel is a total dive, upstairs floor is closed from a fire and the ace is condemmed.  But it works!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


If it was common to describe the quantity of water in a house as "impressive", my house is very impressive this evening.

More Fight Club like every week.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Velocity Road Race

Saturday Devin dropped by my house too shortly after 6am to make it feel like much of a Saturday morning for me, but that's the gig of driving NE of Edmonton for a road race. It'd been a few years since I visited Josephburg.

We picked up Craig, some Tim Hortons, and after a few car packing rearrangements had a smooth drive out there.

This was a very well attended road race, I think my sign in sheet count showed 55 in Cat 2. I can't say I felt very good about reading down the list of names, especially since I'd worked past midnight a few days this week, and just managed to shake my cough from the pre and post-Lethbridge race days.

After a super efficient sign in (thanks Velocity, thanks Karelo!), we did a little warmup and it was off to the races.

I decided to play it conservative, considering I've once again followed the worst possible pre-race week preparation routine of under resting and over working. My view of conservative is minimize Watts on accelerations out of corners, no pulls, etc. Why do 750W for a few seconds out of a corner, when a little extra coast and 400W will do the trick? Maybe that sounds lame, but I didn't want to be spit out after two laps, and being an ibanker + racer needs a little different approach, especially since I'm not on EPO and wasn't born with wonder-genes... but I digress.

As we're approaching the end of lap two, I assess that things are going well. I'm riding efficient and feel I haven't burnt much energy. I can handle the accelerations. Almost two laps are done. It seems that doing one more lap "easy", then possibly moving up to ride more mid pack might be wise, then see how things unfold from there.

Alas, just like last weekend, my ability to gaze into a crystal ball and plan for the future is highly inept. Not minutes later, riders and bikes are inverted a few positions before me, with the members of the peloton behind this event pursuing three courses of action - center line straight into the mess, right hand side into the ditch, or left onto the other side of the road. My luck has it that left is the way to go, and it works out just fine. The image I recall is the front wheel of the guy riding in front of me riding over the neck/face/upper torso of the guy in front of him...

The second week in a row, I'm all of a sudden detached from the group. On the positive side, I feel full of energy, it's not as isolating of a course, and I'm pumped to burn a few calories, as it'll be good practice for TransPortugal. So on the gas it is... and within seconds I'm in a group of 2, then 3, then 4. It's full gas for 20 minutes, and some drop from our group while we engulf a few other chasers. The gap closes slowly, and with a 10 second gap left, some are fading... and in desperation not to ride the rest of the race alone, I ignore the fade of the makeshift chase "team" and catch on. One other joins a few seconds later, and the other two only a long while later. Spent a good chunk of energy, and felt strong/good doing it. Home in the peloton at last.

That works out well for another 1/3 of a lap, until apparently it's attack time again into the challenging headwind section, which of course makes the most sense for the attackers. I, and a few other of the more tired and weak, are off again. Nearly the same spot as the crash last lap... funny almost. I know this routine, so it's head down TT time again, and a few guys are in the same boat. We're able to see a few who have abandoned the race as we pass, and a few more who are doing the attrition thing since they don't view chasing for lower spots as the worthwhile thing to do. But this time around it's more tiring, and the legs aren't as fresh. We keep pushing along, with my hopes and energy fading, until...

... I hear Devin's voice saying "get on, let's go". He's in a chasing group with Kyle Marcotte and another, who have been out solo since the crash. I'm so glad to see he wasn't crashed out again this week... and since I'd better get used to riding his wheel before BCBR, there's no choice but to suck it up and start pedalling harder.

The group is fun and rides hard - primarily courtesy of Kyle Marcotte, whom I haven't previously had to observe up close, but his reputation well proceeds him. Very Dallas like - just as strong as a horse... doesn't care if he pulls non-stop, and I'm pretty much on the rivet trying to draft. Mid way through this lap, we see another Speed Theory jersey in the distance - it's Dallas.  Kyle ramps up.  The chase was on, and eventually we caught up.  Riding with those two into a headwind is like riding behind a freight train, impressive.  Dallas however had other plans today and pulled at the end of the 5th lap.  This is a one lap endeavour with Kyle still leading... taking us to about lap 5 and a quarter. At this point, he calmly states "I think I should attack soon", and proceeds to ride us off his wheel. We all looked at each other, and frankly didn't do much. I could have dug in and stayed on a while longer... but probably only a short while. The option of hanging on for an extra few km, then riding in the rest while feeling very empty didn't appeal much, so we did our three man thing - Devin, myself and Ted of Pedalhead. We kept a smart pace to the end, and rode out the last lap and a bit through a little hail, a little rain, and a good dose of wind.

At the end of the day, we rode 3 up across the line, without so much as a millimeter difference in "placing". Apparently we finished as the three last riders - 23, 24 and 25. So out of 55, that's a somewhat high attrition/crash rate. (side note the ABA results show Ted as having a very impressive sprint that blasted 23 seconds ahead of us... OK, Erik you're going to have to relax your mind soon and realize that nobody in cycling or the ABA is going to adhere to, or care about, the accuracy levels of private enterprise, a-type, totally nitpicky investment bankers...).

I was happy to ride in with Devin and Ted. And despite my energy being used to merely "hang on" for last, I'm actually feeling quite good about my fitness this year so far... just haven't had the luck to show it for the positive.

More impressively, Bunnin aka Boonen happened to finish ahead of all the other starters, which is no small feat. Good job Shawn. And Trev, who's perenially #2, again showed remarkable road abilities again in his familiar #2 spot. Very impressive year thus far Mr. Williams.

Craig found his way to 4th in the Cat 3 field, which is awesome for the first upgraded race.

For a long list of odd reasons, we got home at about 9pm. 6am to 9pm and a bike race in between makes for a tiring day... and I haven't been in short supply of tiring days lately. Good times all around!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Challenger SRT

I rode in a 4 day old 2009 Challenger SRT today. I'd note this as a highlight I'd say amongst the rain, lack of sleep, and office routine.

It doesn't exude practicality. It's not really a year-round Calgary car. Chrysler products long term durability isn't congruent with my general approach to depreciating assets.

Having said that, they're "giving them away" these days. A 6.1L Hemi (425HP, 420 Lb/ft of torque) and a 6 speed manual provides a totally badass ride and makes a totally badass sound, even before the arrival of the aftermarket supercharger and exhaust this thing is going to have installed.

In today's world of rationalization, cutbacks, and tepid outlooks, this is a shot in the opposite direction. It was totally refreshing. I felt immediately like I needed an American Road Trip, to the fullest meaning of the experience.

Poor Planner?

After the exhausting race weekend which I started under rested, and finished tired, I planned to rest, recover, rebuff, refocus and be generally refreshed.

In reality, I'm sustaining my dry cough as long as possible by overworking, overstressing, over caffeinating and undersleeping.

Why live one life when you can fit in two?  I just need to plan better.  Like filling my calendar with weeks and weeks of "blank".

Monday, 4 May 2009

Lethbridge Hillclimb Redux

I tinkered around with this calculator a little since I had an email thread going with Super-Trev... a man, who like me, likes fiddling with data. He just has more impressive numbers to fiddle with than me.

Check out the power estimation calculator here:

I've put in known data and educated guesses, such that it corroborates to my observed SRM data. Side note here, I believe the timing at Lethbridge was off by a systemic 37 seconds "light" so my real was 4:19, which makes a lot more sense to me and is consistent with my SRM data... as I can assure you I didn't hold my race pace for another 37 seconds after the finish line just for fun.

Plug in your weight, bike weight, position, tire type and miles per hour to get an estimate of your power that's probably pretty close.

Note easy MPH calc:

Course ~ 1.23miles/ (time in mins as a fraction/60)

My time in mins is 4:19 which is 4.3167 mins.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Road Race actual report

Cat 3 didn't ride with Cat 2, it was just noted in the race package that the distance was going to be the same.  Forecast miss #1.

The wheel car led us out for a neutral start for about 4 minutes.  When it pulled off to the side, Dallas attacked and it was game on for the day.  I guess that'd be forecast miss #2.  I should know better.

The first 30k were continual attacks.  7 people got away, I don't know the whole roster, but that guy who went to the Olympics, Trev Williams and Craig Debellefeuille  were in the lead group.  Rest of us held together until the KOM #1 climb which peeled myself, Rod Macallister and Matthew O Hagan off the back.  We did probably a 20 minte 3 up TT to catch back on, just in time for Dallas to feel the tempo need improvement on the KOM #2 climb, but we stayed together well as the headwind was strong.  The short little climb before the first turnaround dusted me off for good.

From there it was about 65k of solo, and the headwinds cycling club made sure it loved up to its name.  Manageable for a while, but I did end up running low on calories for the last 15k, hard ride in with no food and water left.

Post race I lied in the ditch with a banana for 10 mins, my reward for finishing 3rd not last maybe?  

Tori did well in her race, mid pack I think.

Craig I believe was second in his.

Last I saw of Cat 2 was Olympian guy and Trev 1 and 2, and a 3 man pack grouped in 3-4 and 5 with Craig and... yup somehow Dallas snuck up there.

Once I started feeling human we booked it home and got Tori to the airport right at 5.  I want to be in bed by 7.

Road non-Race Strategy

My strategy for today: don't dig self into an illness hole for next week again.  It's categories 1-2-3 together, so I'm going to treat it as a ride not a race hopefully.

Coughing again this morning, I think I was still a relatively undetectable 1% sick going into yesterday, and probably bumped that up a tiny bit with the higher lung efforts than average daily use.  I was really considering just doing my own recreation ride today, but I'll just try to tuck myself out of the wind and take it easy.

The best part of the morning so far was the hotel's waffle maker.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Lethbridge Saturday

Short story:  I hadn't planned to do the hill climb, but ended up doing it as the whole gang was and it was a nice day.  Something under 4 mins of pure pain.  It's now 10:30pm and I'm still coughing.  After I passed my minutewoman Tori, I don't remember much, just the tunnel vision.  My efforts garnered me middle of the second half of cat 2 and  Dallas won.  Trev Williams second.  Nice 2km course, closed road, nice grade, maybe 6% as a guess. [later notes now: my SRM tells me my 3:42 was 495W.  Dali came in at 3:16, and we're approximately the same weight... so that 12% faster likely means 550W+.  Wow.  Trev is a little harder to guess at as he's a different size... but awesome athletics by the Speed Theory crowd in general this weekend].

Mountain bike race: Cheered on Tori's race.  She finished 3rd.  I rode lantern rouge position in elite for whole race other than one lap where Craig eased up and rode behind me.  Devin crashed out and won't race tomorrow, lots of scratches and a bumpy head/cracked helmet.  Craig and I came onto the scene over the crest of the hill, felt really bad for him as he was killing it for the laps he was in the race, which was only about 1.75 laps.  He rode 1 or 2 more but bailed, probably smartest.  Nice course, all rideable, no odd uphill off camber rutted out acute angle kinks with loose gravel like last year that were super hard without really being rewarding.  Cody Canning, Roddi Lega and Shawn Bunnin were the podium in elite.

We went out for dinner for Trish's (the champ in 3rd today) birthday.  I'm so bagged, need to sleep.  Wished I could have slept in more today... story of my life I guess.

Lots of 'goats out, good to see.

Photo Radar Traffic Ticket

I got a photo radar traffic ticket in the mail yesterday, just a few blocks from my house apparently was the infraction zone.

Considering my world view has the speedometer pegged moreso as a tool that measures achievement than a device to abide by regulation, I'd say first one in 8 years isn't too bad!

Friday, 1 May 2009


I now have a spot in the TransPortugal Garmin race this year!