Wednesday, 30 June 2010

BCBR Day 4

This race puts us on pretty good terrain, and logistics are involved to do so.  Seems at times though like it could be called BC Bus Race (and ferry, and line waiting).  For whatever reason, we start late every day, then also the showers are late or otherwise messed (cold, no pressure, only a few working), the late starts also throw off the massage times all day, etc.  Good trails, but very "west coast" execution.  Right when we got on the school bus it was piping High Life by Steve Winwood.  Yes, mountain biking all week qualifies for being back in the high life again.  So does curling up in the fetal position in a school bus to snooze for some long wait and commute with my 32 year old body in seats made for 8 year olds.

Blasted off on the climb out of Sechelt, fun times.  After that I settled into a pretty tepid pace for the middle part of the day, supposedly it was a long day, and redlining all week on no base isn't all that smart.  I didn't want to drag my tongue to the finish line.  Probably didn't change overall result much anyway as it seems like most of the group in front of me took a wrong turn, so they came past an hour later in dribs and drabs, so I probably ended up just the same but with way less caloric expenditure.  Passed some north van guy who broke a handlebar, lots of walking for him today.  He got a replacement off a guy who abandoned.

After aid stop 2 I rode harder again, had some fun with Alana and Kate in the woods.  Kate does her Hardcore jersey proud on the descents, Alana pushes it on the climbs.

Pulled one guy back from a wrong turn into a gravel pit at town's edge, then our group went the wrong way right after.  I ended up at the front as we came up to the gravel pit trailer from the other side, and some flat faced mutt and his little honcho came running at us barking.  They looked like pussies compared to the three mongrels in Colombia a week ago, and somehow it seems they read my disdain and lack of respect and just stopped and stood there 10 feet away barking.

Haven't seen most of the crowd yet, so weak little update. 

Thanks Andy and Different Bikes for a loaner wheel for Gian!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

BCBR Day 3

Woke up as late as I could, in my clothes and ready to go, 15 mins after my room mate but still out of tent 5 mins before him.  It's good to keep it simple.  Long commute to the start today, raced at something like 1pm I think.

They're using chip timing with chips in the number plate, so it's irrelevant where you start in some respects.  They broke everyone into 50 person blocks to manage starting traffic, and I was a C starter.  It was actually great as I just had open trail to ride to the B's.  Much of today was rough chop and new trail, punishing with little flow.  I don't find it that enjoyable but I can survive it.  Funnest part for me was all the two or three step bridge "ups" over whatever streams, I can get up them easily and the group who was chasing me pedaled harder overall, but always dismounted for those, so I kept to silent trail.  It was hours of full body english and moves, very sparse amounts of just sitting and pedaling... lots of upper body work.

Rode a bunch again with Katie Curtis, she rides very consistent all day and is very good technically.  Nice to meet a Calgary/Bow rider and make a new acquaintance.  She's doing very well overall.

Never cramped, never missed a pedal stroke all day.  Engine just worked, even if it's small.  Felt really nice.  It's always a good sign when I see Jeff Neilson at the showers (note: that says "at" not "in").

Camp spot is great, beach right on the water, although it'll likely be windy tonight.  I didn't ever see results but I think all the friends are doing well still - Alana and Kate seemed pumped, I think Pat and Andy had a good day, I finished same time but possibly a minute different from Shawn Taylor and Dave Crewe.  Jeff and Mical were all smiles too.

Chowed on a burrito post race and chatted to the machine of Cory Wallace, always interesting.

Best dinner of the race yet, my room mate won a draw to fly in a sea plane to the start tomorrow.

Had a couple of beers with some riders, I'll skip name dropping but will qualify them as "mostly the fastest here", who were discussing breakfast options for tomorrow.  Considering the number of pre race road breakfasts I assume they've had over the years, the conversation was not routine and entirely enlightening and amusing at the same time.  Whatever 1.5 beers does to my already imperiled system's chance to keep from sinking deeper on the un-recovery side was worth the tradeoff for a window into that world.

I have typical muscle soreness, lower back mostly, but am holding together.  The "if it ain't tight, it ain't right" pink t-shirt and Lulu Lemon gang of girls in the massage tent help with that pretty well.  They also fed massage-ees those fuzzy sour peach candies today which was nice.  My hands are sore, guess this might be a bit much on detail, but the blisters on my left hand where calluses should be had pus in them not the clear blister water stuff.  They hurt last night, hurt this morning, then hurt all day when we jackhammered, err rode, fresh new trail full of roots for hours.  Oh well.  Someone asked me today how I ride with such feminine hands... didn't really know what to say to that, never had anyone say that to me before.

Monday, 28 June 2010

BCBR Day 2

Today was the delightful trails of Cumberland.  Smooth and light speed at the start blasting through twisty path on the forest, the big gravel climb, the steep rough drop, some headwind gravel to wear you out, the second climb finish what's left, and some singletrack at the edge of town.  We took off a half hour late due to some bus problem into a cool morning standing around, but great for racing.

Felt good most of the morning, easy to be efficient on that first singletrack.  Rode a bit with Katie Curtis, Kate and Alana.  Once we exited the singletrack, tagged onto some Norwegians who pulled me along into the wind, then turned to face the big gravel climb.  Tried to limit the backwards progress my new bulk and lack of power incite - got on to German Thomas' from Whitehorse wheel and he just ticked along like a metronome.  Great help on the one hour suffer or however long it took, I didn't comprehend the clock.  No real problems on the rough descent, love that stuff.  Lots of those smooth exposed rock rollovers, people always want to brake at the bottom and endo from the crook of the exit to faceplant for whatever reason.  Saw one girl flip and wind herself off some drop, didn't look/sound pleasant.

A little group found me for the "flat" transfer across the valley floor and I just pulled along and burnt a bunch of matches (any I had left after the big climb).  Good interval.

Started cramping on the last climb, so just spun it out slow.  Probably not enough non-sugary stuff.  Said hi to Alana as she passed, Dave Crewe and Shawn, Thomas, and everyone else who blazed by as I powered on with an output of between 18 and 23 Watts.

Just let the last sections of singletrack roll, man that's nice at the end.

No idea how everyone did, but Pat and Andy were showered and had their bikes showroom clean.  Mical and Jeff were smiley.  Katie Curtis dropped me like a bad habit to go chase her competitor.  Alana was bloody but happy (shin area).

Pat Doyle showed me where to get a giant shwarma after, so I scarfed one of those down and headed to the massage table where I pretty much passed out on a massage session that every inch of me needed.

Massage therapist:  what's sore?
Erik: basically everywhere.

My body cooperates, but I'm not sure how much it likes the captain these days.  I think miscellaneous nutrients and chemicals are needed, as I'm gorging on beans, some vinegar dressing stuff, and Swedish meatballs... uhh... these are predictable race cravings for this guy.  Anyway, I'm enjoying riding harder for the first three hours and nursing it in.  If I steady paced it all day I'd be in more crowded trails, and pedaling hard just feels so good.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

BCBR Day 1

A long, long night's sleep, horizontal, without a massive meal and mucho vino left me able to get up before my alarm clock, cram everything into the big bag, and mobilize for Nanaimo.

It's rainy here, but the ferry took to overcast skies which parted for sun.  Great day of singletrack, 4.5 hours or so for me.

If you asked me to describe the course, not sure how well I'd describe it... Paved start like before, singletrack to no end, one long gravel road, and a descent at the end.  That's weak, but that's how I felt and thought.

I ended up starting in group A, which made sense to not get piled up at the back.  Made the rounds and introduced myself as the Kate Ardaal/Alana Heiss fan club and the Jeff Nielson/Mical Dyck fan club respectively to each of them.  It's funny, when you don't race there's people you never see.  I figured I could hang at the back of that group long enough to not stay in traffic, it's funny looking up at the peloton from a different spot than Jon/Craig/Devin/Mckee would have us.  Did a lot of chatting, made a lot of friends, saw old ones.  Katie from Bow had a super powerful day.  Saw Chantel who rode with Tori I think at some point in history.  Rode with Rick Metzger and Craig Marshall a bit, great to see them, as well as Shawn Taylor and Dave Crewe and Tom Ebbern.  One big happy family.

Racing 4.5 hours with no base is predictable.  I rode "efficiently" as much as I could on anything downhill (just got new brake pads, don't want to wear them out), and spun the rest.  Started cramping 2.5 hours in, belly doesn't know what to do after a week of three course meals and wasn't absorbing, so what was going in wasn't helping.  I've seen that story before, hard to flip the metabolic switch overnight from my other world.  Made it past that stage and just cruised, spent a long stretch alone.  Funny actually how the mind wanders and what you can "solve" when in the white space.  I think the conclusion was I need to live in a basement suite in San Diego half year and rest in Colombia and sell everything save a mountain bike, a 'cross bike and a road bike.

Cruised in with two guys who decided they wanted to accelerate on the last few hundred meters.  I looked over and asked if life really was like that.  I just matched their pace, then suggested we slow down for a gravel corner.  Guy was going for the win in whatever irrelevant place skidded out and got bad rash.  So avoidable.

After paying for individual tent, turns out I'm gonna room with my Swiss friend Gian who I met at La Ruta.  He went to town to buy bottled water tonight because he thinks the tap water here tastes funny compared to Switzerland.

Catalyst Sport Massage transported me to maybe the best hour of my life after the race.  Non-bike conditioned body really appreciated that.

Let's see if brain records better tomorrow if it can magically not be thinking about hurt so much.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

BCBR Day 0

From the moment I arrived at the hotel, friendly faces were greeting me.  It's fun to see everyone, to feel the bike race vibe, but honestly after just 8 days away, English in crowds is confusing.  It's weird being able to understand everything, it's overload.

I'm in a tired daze.  Simon the power-kiwi from Cochrane said hi, as did Drew and Joanne Bragg, the awesomely hospitable massage girls (who even went beyond the call of hospitality and offered lunch - thanks Cindy!).  Dre and Wendy and Norm were nice to see, in particular if I can't locate my bike or lycra in the next hour as it's getting close to ride time... sheesh.  Trying to stay calm!  Pat and the Hanford brothers are around, as is PND.

As it turns out, I throw a leg over my bike a half hour before my start.  It's been tuned, few parts replaced (cogs, rings, chain), looks great and rides smooth.  Ride up with Henry Yau and get caught up on riding news.  The TT goes off at 30 second intervals.  The start is smooth gravel bike path climbing - I get my 30 second and 2nd 30 second man.  Feeling the burn hard, but in a sickly good way.  Turn a gravel corner and it's just smooth bike path gravel before some single track.  Keeping the cadence high, then it gets way higher without a shift (I'd only done four shifts on the course, just clicking to smaller cogs).  No chain.  It was new a half hour ago, and didn't even break at the master link, and especially since it was flat-ish and smooth with no shifts, I'm cranky that it happened.  I ran, but a marshall said it was a long way.  Started working on it, but the tool that's in the headshock stem isn't a great chain tool.  I could here descending chain slap not far away, so I ran.  I should have done that right away, I bet I'd have only given up a minute.  Downhill would have been nice, obviously coasted, but pedaling still helps with obstacles and balance.  At least my legs and lungs got a little excitement.

I'm excited to start at the absolute back of the field and work though the guy riding a pugsly and all the 200lb folks... not.  Oh well, maybe I had it coming to me.  It's vacation, enjoy it. 

Why am I here?

I don't have the body fat, the hematocrit level, and mitochondrial efficacy of a cyclist (moreso relative to my past years as a cyclist rather than measured against any goal posts of what "real" cyclists have). I still, however, have an entirely unatrophied love of cycling.  That counts for something, it really does.  A lot of my riding time is smiling time.

Other pillars of my existence, like a house and a girlfriend, have occupied a more abstract space in the last year.  They're present but inaccessible.  I've got a career (another pillar) that's been funny lately - I haven't had a "bonus review" in two years; instead I get a phone call with a few milliseconds of international delay making it mildly awkward, at times when my mind is a world away, that contains a few minutes of banter before "the number" of beer tokens I've earned is revealed, which abstractly enter a bank account a few days later.  Its there but not tangible in the exact same way it used to be.

Bikes have never been inaccessible or intangible - they're available at 3am for a last ride up Pla d'Adet when I want to fit in one last ride before heading home on Hincapie's climb of triumph, and on any rainy or snowy weekend at home year round my whole life. 

This start will hurt, but maybe not as much as a few years back while finishing off an antibiotic cycle and riding with Jon.  It may be hot, but chances are it won't feel as shocking after a week in Colombia.  It'll empty me out, which is entirely what I need, maybe I can even refuel modestly more sparsely than expenditure and come out leaner after 7 days. 

I know I've always been able to improve as a stage race goes on (or at least, cumulatively crumble less).  I suspect it's just my life metabolism and pace (used interchangeably almost) that likes keeping it pinned.  Pacing for only myself at BCBR possibly allows the avoidance of creating a massive hole to dig out of.  With a week in France scheduled later, might actually allow participation in TR3 in a manner of moderate fitness.

Although the BCBR's incomparable trial quality is a draw, it isn't even really what I'm looking forward to most.  I crave the white space of a fried brain, with burning legs and lungs as focal points.  I don't know if its an endorphin high or a temporary de-volution to an animal's mind, but its my favourite place bar none.  I don't find much clarity in the white space, but conversely, the few things that are there make them seem very important.  It's distilled.  We live with a pumping heart and a breathing set of lungs.  Visits to the trifecta of hell, purgatory and heaven are facilitated in quantity.

This won't be about standings.  I always prioritized riding as best I could with someone such that we'd then be able to share a life long bond of a week of sufferage.  In those, our unspoken goal was usually to be at or near the dividing line between sponsored teams and hobbyists.  Being "beaten" isn't bad, it's not trying that's worse.  I'd rather try (and be here) than not.  Refusal to fail has a different glory than success - not the least of which is that I can actually achieve at refusal to fail.  I don't want to fail to race - this was in fact my last race - a year ago before an even more intense than usual whirlwind of work swept me up last fall.  It's sentimental that way, and I don't want that part of my life to become abstract to me as well, it's the only one I specifically control.

Friday, 25 June 2010

BC Bike Race, here I come...

...uhhh, ready or not.  My BC Bike Race preparation this year has culminated in a very intense taper period.  I'll show up very well rested in a cycling sense, but maybe that's moot because I won't be rested at all.

Leaving Cartagena tonight and flying to Bogota, roughly an 8pm till midnight exercise.  Flying to Houston which is the midnight to breakfast red-eye leg of the trip.  Fly from Houston to Vancouver tomorrow morning.  With any luck I can taxi downtown, put on lycra, and show up for the prologue stage hopefully an hour before my start time, with my cement like legs fueled by airport food.  This week has also been an entire string of 6 or 7 hour nights, ugh.

I suspect a week of conference and travel pace, followed by a long commute and a vertical seated 5 hour half assed sleep isn't going to assist me in setting stage one's winning time ; )

Luck

Today we were going to watch incoming president Juan Manuel Santos speak.  We skipped it.

Rewind a bit... a fantastic dinner sponsored by our friends at a nearby restaurant set the stage.  After we retreated to our hotel bar for a cocktail.  The menage of a colonial structure/era bar, decorated with funky modern art, hosted by a live band, and with a pesky toucan present  provided the eclectic setting.  Whatever I said prior about "not too late at night" in Cartagena turned out to be untruthful.  I emailed a client to join us for breakfast.  They responded with a no : (

But instead they said they had booked something fun and invited us to sail to an island in the Caribe for lunch, as well as snorkeling in the mangroves and off the island.  Sorry Juan Manuel Santos.  Luck strikes: this is gonna be awesome : )



Snorkeling in mangroves and coral reefs (neither of which had things that wanted to bite me, although a big iguana on the island where we ate lunch looked like he was thinking about me), a few cervezas, and my last day absorbing more humidity in this week down here than I get cumulatively with a year in Calgary.  Like that opening poster suggested, we found a little of the good life in Cartagena.



Here's what I woke to.






Pool didn't have enough swimming fun, so we headed to some islands generically in Panama's direction.






This is FirstEnergy's most productive individual.  He didn't let the local distractions take away blackberry time.






Colombian friends, oil finders, and el Caribe.



Colombian Andes y los llanos

We field toured today near where Petrominerales is firing off massive production from Corcel/Candelillia/Monterrey.  The surface locations are near Villanueva where we flew into a small airport (on a butte like structure that probably didn't need a centimeter of grading given its flat nature) and used every last foot of runway to stop.

From there we choppered to see the topography of all three fields.  Monterrey is intense - the road leading up to it rivals scenes from the Alps as it squiggles to gain elevation.  As I was imagining cycling, lo and behold I spot two riders turning around at the top to coast back down.  Mental note made.

Corcel and Candelilla are a bit nearer to Barranca de Upia.  The amazing thing to me about the facilities isn't complexity or anything like that, it's standard oilfield stuff.  It's amazing how fast they built it to produce after a discovery (like 5m).

Learned about time pressures, wages, changing economics of regions.  Regulation created where there was none prior - in short order.

Planes, helicopters, cycling roads and non-oil industry.  Industrial tourism is awesome.

Boarding for a flight to Villanueva.


Policia.  We must be secure!



This guy loves choppers.  I'm hoping we were gonna fly with the doors open, but nope.

Town.  Andes.  Los llanos behind us.  All good.


Spot the good cycling roads... the elevation gain isn't apparent from this angle obviously, but that's some badass climbing.   When we flew over, two cyclists were just turning around at the top to go back down... mental note!




Industrial tourism.


Holes in the ground for resource.






Thursday, 24 June 2010

It's official

I love Cartagena at night.  As long as it's not too late and in the troublesome parts...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Alvaro Uribe

Outgoing president Alvaro Uribe spoke today.  He's 54, and his energy, conviction and knowledge are evident.  No notes, just speaks (and on top of that, makes logical sense!).  Nations are big almost by definition.  No change comes from one person, but if you look back 8 years versus today, there's been a lot of positive change in this country with him at the helm.  Change in a unified direction comes from leadership, and seeing it up close, it's evident why things turned out positively.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Toucan

I'm eating breakfast with a Toucan, and I'm not eating fruitloops.  Later it decided it wanted to sit on my chairback and beg, and the guys I'm with wanted me to not shoo it away so they could take a picture of it near my shoulder.  Of course this didn't work out as planned, as the toucan got greedy, and went for some croissant (which I assume isn't it's native diet).  I shoed it away a bit, but it was persistent.  In the little 3 second melee, it bit me and I smacked it.  Somehow I get the feeling this is another encounter with the animal kingdom Tori wouldn't have liked.  In terms of odd animal encounters, I've now been bitten by a camel and a toucan.

Memories of Matthew "Hoss" Joss

Last time I was in the absolutely delightful hotel Santa Clara in Cartagena was on our mis-labelled "romantic getaway" with Matt J!  I think he's on a more appropriate honeymoon right now.

Cartagena

"A destination for the good life"

Rocket Fuel

The church of Juan Valdez keeps me happy. 

Monday, 21 June 2010

World Cup lunch hour setup

Park being set up to watch world cup at lunch on giant soccer ball bean bags.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Deluge of a Sunday in Bogota

Apparently I needed to crash last night, as I slept 15 hours.  Awesome to catch up; still I had an afternoon 20 min nap.  Heard faint rumblings of Bogota rain in the morning, then woke up only minutes before Martin, our driver and I were supposed to do some touring today.  Really I wanted to lounge, read a book and hit the gym, but might as well tour around (even if sites were repeats) just to see the area.

Martin went to the Salt Cathedral, I had an immensely cheap breakfast in Zipaquira which was fantastic, and spent time working on Spanish with Mauricio.  I'm terrible, I need like a 2 month refresher in the basic connectors of language, but nouns are relatively easy to absorb for a logical brain.  The "outside Bogota" landscape appears awesome for biking - big houses up on the hills that clearly need roads suitable for BMW convertibles, plus guys shuttling downhill bikes near the Salt Cathedral were clear signals of riding potential (that's aside from cheap and delicious breakfast and Juan Valdez's handywork).  Downtown Calgary coffee is like Jann Arden; Colombian coffee is like Shakira... quality to do the opening ceremonies for the biggest event in the biggest sport on earth at the FIFA World Cup.  On the topic of good food, everyone else I've spoken to who are the Canadiense touristas also notice the purity and basic goodness of the food, it's so free of processing that you just feel more wholesome and right after a while here.

Today was a Bogota typical winter day.  Deluge.  Puddles everywhere on the road that you need to slow down for, and even then the splash from the wheels blankets the windshield.  God help you if you're next to a bus, wipers better be on high.  The amount of lluiva the clouds can produce here is entirely amazing for this climata seca guy.

We visited an emerald museum, which was interesting.  They used to trade at equal value by weight as salt.  Colombia is the world market share producer of las esmareldas.  Pretty cool.  Really labour intensive industry still.  Got to look at them through magnifiers and chromium coated lenses to see which were fake and real.  Got to look at cutting and polishing.  The sales people at the end were disappointed I wasn't a customer, especially after a dialogue about my girlfriend being in France.  The Colombian sales lady said I needed to buy more presents rather than less with a girl swimming in a sea of Frenchmen.  What I liked more was the mirror frames at the place we were at.  Going to BC Bike Race next doesn't leave me with much appetite for buying stuff, but having said that, if a woman likes gold, jewels and flowers, Colombia produces (and encourages showering gifts of) all of those.

Plethora of emerald rings for sale.  The sales lady didn't quite appreciate my logic that "Tori needs to come home to be considered for one".  She said romance works the opposite way.  I said I've never been accused of being a successful romantic in the classic sense.  Not a good time to get into my shortcomings with love, women and romance.

This is a gold statue of a birth.  I'm not sure if I was buying gold statues that a birth scene would be it, but I commend the uniqueness.  Maybe it'd look good on a coffee table, the little head popping out had a pretty cute smile on its face.  Tori and I had a humorous email thread going, at the very least she can stop by here one day for some emerald and gold shopping if that fits the bill for her.  If "exotic" and "latin" and "lover" are needed on the stop, I'm not befitting of any of those by genetics or other pedigree.

We went for an early dinner at a nice place, I had entirely badass doses of gourmet seafood, plus a guayaba pie to leave me with loving memory.  I'll leave the name aside, as they closed early and let the group that organized the dinner book a private room, in which we could ignore with a decent degree of safety the national prohibition this weekend (put in place to reduce riotous behaviour around the elections).  Like us Canadienses are a riotous type, especially in international politics.  Santos won, as expected.  Colombia is now facing the first time that Colombians need visas to travel to Venezuela, and at the same time Venezuela is in an embarrassing situation of food shortage yet tonnes of food were found rotting in warehouses.  Apparently intra-country trade has been stifled at the border, but now there's a special edict allowing 250mm eggs as the Venezuelans have no huevos.  Gong show.  I just hope he doesn't go too crazy, seeing Cambodia 30+ years after their craziness and seeing that it takes 30+ years to get on track is sad and scary.  Let's hope a hole that deep isn't being dug.  Bulk imports when the top decries a shortage doesn't work, a few minds, no matter how great, can't track a whole economy.  Millions of minds observing many data points of supply and demand are more effective.  We had a great time with malbec, red bull y grey goose, and Club Colombia watery American style beer kept us chatting.  Some supermodels, err Colombian waitresses kept us going.

Other random Bogota awesomeness for the day was listening to a quality Don McLean American Pie remix in the driving rain (in my opinion, this is the "other" American anthem after The Star Spangled Banner, and further I side note that it never ceases to amaze me what Colombians offer for opinion or wishes that they could bring their entrepreneurism to Norte America - either America or Canada, and how we're viewed as world gifts), traffic light entertainment a notch above loser squegee kids - for example fire eaters and jugglers that stand shoulder on shoulder 3 people tall (top a woman) and juggle, and napping in my French chaize lounge a foot away from a panoramic window with the rain falling outside.  Man I need more of that in life.  Also there's a massive lingerie store just down the street (more importanly, across the street from the BBC - Bogota Beer Company) I'm gonna try to get a picture of the outside.  Every window is full ad pictures stuck to it, and let's just say Colombia emphasizes the sexy in advertising.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Bienvenidos

I love Colombia, I think that's something I've said a few times before.  I need to spend a few years in this country and/or on this continent just soaking it up sometime.

Got in at 5am, never a great flight.  Last two nights I've had 5 hours of sleep each, and not quality sleep at that.  Glad the fat 40+ guy next to me blasted his techno so loud I could hear it on an airplane while wearing earplugs even though he just had earbuds.

Drove to the Sofitel for a shower and to drop off bags, then went hiking in the mountains at the edge of town near the Metropolitan Club..  Here was the part of Bogota Tori wouldn't like... perros bravos.  I saw another guy jogging and another guy walking his dog who told me about what lay ahead (it's a fine area if you travel in groups, know the dog hangouts and are careful).  What I got out of our discussion was peligro (danger), perros bravos (wild/stray dogs), and trail directions to avoid them and the lay of the land up ahead.  We parted ways and as I was rounding the a turn a few km up in the gravel road where the trails I wanted branched off, I saw three mongrels.  I kinda stopped and hoped they hadn't taken notice of me yet.  That of course wasn't the case or this wouldn't be the first story of the day.

Two big heavy boxer mutt things and a german shepard that looked small in comparison sprint at me and are barking.  And not the kind of wagging and barking like the other guys dog did when he ran up to sniff my hand.  The trail I wanted was just to the left of where I was.  Somehow I got the feeling my "how to train your dragon" inspiration from the movie on the plane wasn't going to help here.  The next two quick realizations were there's no way I'd outrun them, and they probably aren't going to just rush up for a sniff.  So all of a sudden my Saturday morning shaped up to a "only one side is gonna win this" and "there is only one acceptable outcome to which side that is unless I want to be a doggie breakfast".  Frick.



I had passed a really good stick on the ground like 20ft behind me, so I started walking backwards and facing them, but quickly realized there wasn't gonna be time for that given their closing rate.  I turned and bolted for it, and any attack animal of course loves being the chaser.  Side note here, after sleeping on a plane for a few hours, this kicks starts the system pretty well, but I'm actually surprised how un-freaked out I was considering the general seriousness here and that I was in the mountain jungle by myself with no help.  There were actually two sticks, and I simultaneously grabbed both.  Left hand grabbed a little two footer and right went for the three footer.  Both were solid and the diameter of a twoonie.  The lead dog was right behind me as I was bent down and back to it, so as soon as my hands grabbed them off the ground I did the biggest left back hand tennis swing motion I could and whacked that f-ker right across the face with solid contact, and the right followed through with overhand axe kind of chops down on the head and nose - five strikes as fast as I could before its attack was turning to retreat ASAP.  I just wanted to pummel it so there weren't questions of trying for more, I've never made a solid of contact with anything alive and a stick before.  As the first one turned and started running I gave it all I could to whip it across the hips - I hope it's stinging hours later.  This all probably took 5 seconds max.  The other two were watching close for a lunge opportunity in smart group strategy, and once the second was looking just bolted straight at it and took swings at it with the stick instead of letting it be the agressor.  They white flagged it and ran after two strikes, the third one didn't want any of that.  I threw two good size rocks at them as they ran away.

Funny enough, I didn't feel rushed, shaky or all heart ramped up after.  I did briefly think of going back, but that was the bad part before I was off the road, the trails are so steep that lazy mongrels wouldn't even want to climb up there.  I think I'm overtired from a few days of 20hr/day of action.  I watched them run away, then walked up the steep trail with my new sticks, which was awesome cause the trail was steep enough that they were useful.  No wonder Tomas carries a .38 caliber snub nosed revolver when hiking.

I climbed up above the city to a lookout and the sun creeping up the mountains.




 After that it was back down to a French breakfast place for eggs, pig skin (like bacon but inches thick) and little breads, with tangerine juice and Juan Valdez's best rocket fuel.

Mauricio then drove me out to the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira.  Instead of waiting an hour for the next english and spanish tour, I got an ipod with recorded tour and tacked onto a spanish group, but they were too slow and listening to both wasn't helpful, so I just went into the tunnels on my own.

They're massive and awesome.  The excavation halls are like five stories high and a hundred meters long.  Cool, blue, sculpted, massive, and with piped church music in parts where it was amplified and you couldn't tell the direction of the source due to the acoustic chambers and bouncing.  I'm so glad we went.



Looking back to entrance tunnel plus a ventilation shaft above.


Salt.  Salt mine.  Apparently 500 years supply left.  Used to trade at par by weight for emeralds.


Brine water/holy water at a table.


A dome polished smooth, about 30' tall room plus about similar diameter.


50' tall cross from far away in a massive cathedral hall.


26' diameter pillars.


The 50' cross up close.


Black mirror pool only a few inches thick was a perfect mirror, but the flash ruined it.


Miner statue.


On the way back we stopped in Chia as a mall had signs that it had the Bogota classic car museum's collection on display.  From the 20's to the 80's, it had a broad range of significant makes, models and use categories on display.  Nice find!

The real reason we stopped in Chia was for
Andres Carne de Res, Chia.  We went to the one in Bogota last time and had a blast, yet everyone said the massive original in Chia was the real gem.  We did a late lunch during Cameroon vs. Denmark.  The decor is off the hook, it's 25 years of stuff layered in.  The grills are the size of my garage.  The place is huge but all feels cosy and quaint, I bet it can seat over 500 people.  Music is everything.  People painted like the Danes, including one who had the front end of a bicycle with wheel and bell as his rolling prop.  The Cameroon section was everything from a Colombian girl in a form fitted tiger suit (10 out of 10 on creativity, execution and hotness) to guys in green dresses that looked "African styled" I guess.  There's roving bands, a DJ doing diverse music, a table of twenty girls doing like a 14 year old birthday party, football madness, and this crazy decor, all kept humming along by a massive staff.  It's sensory overload of awesomeness.  Don't come to Bogota without hitting at least one of, but preferably the Chia Andres.  Seriously, google it and check out the commentary... it's not a restaurante; it's an experience!



Got back to the Sofitel to find them filming what appears to be some drama break up scenes for what I'd guess is a Colombian soap opera.  It's so annoying having Colombian actresses parading about in form fitting dresses.  I don't think Claudia Vieira was actually here, but why ruin it?  Maybe it was her.  Even if it was someone less famous, why burst the bubble?










How to Train Your Dragon

Quality entertainment... maybe I need to get a dragon.  Maybe I like kids movies because I haven't found a way to grow up much yet, which has been pointed out to me from so many angles lately over the last few months.  Maybe I like the escapism.  Maybe I like dragons, or just speed in all forms.  Maybe I like stories about vikings.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Allen Berg Driving School, Race City Speedway




Today's day at Race City was the most educational driver day I've done.  It was also the most fun short of the Baja.

The theory was put to practice in copious quantities, with us rotating through different instructors in our cars.

The group of a dozen consisted of three 911 Turbos, a new V8 M3, a supercharged Jag, a Nissan GTR, a Shelby, two BMW 335i's, a 135, an Audi SUV and the M Coupe.

Turns out the Nissan was driven by a David, who only at lunch's draw prize did I realize was David Eigenseher, who I lived a block away from in elementary school.  Small world.

We divided into two groups for all the drills, and after lunch on the lap time I was put with the 911's, the Jag and the M3.  All these cars have more horsepower for the straight away, but the M Coupe could stick to the ground enough to be nearly as fast or faster through the rest of the track.  Lap after lap we had our times improved by braking, shifting and cornering instruction.  By the end, nearly 200kph on the straight then threshold braking to under a hundred for a series of turns at the traction limits of the car was the name of the game.

The three 911 Turbos were king.  All wheel drive, moderate weight, super electronic traction control for bailout on the wet parts, and and massive hp for accelerating out of turns and for the straight away.  But in some ways it's amazing how tight you can hold to them for how long down the twisty back section, in a car that has less fail safe backup and raw capability.

It's like mountain biking downhill or skiing.  Do less, be smooth.  Don't do three inputs when one will do, maintain speed.   Economy of motion does wonders.

BikingBakke has one biking skill left

It's been a different year for me, and BikingBakke isn't as fit as in the past.  However, I've been cross training - I'm developing a skillset in last minute packing for just about any sort of trip. 

I'm excited for BC Bike Race.  My gear will, hopefully, make it to the Holiday Inn near the registration sometime before I do.  I'll fly from Colombia to Vancouver on a "pretty tight schedule" before the race... ugh.  I have a reasonable expectation that, from a cycling standpoing, the last few days might feel better than the first few days.

This means I need to pack a few weeks in advance.  I've learned over the years that what is needed for a stage race are: a bike, legs, and lungs.  I have one of those.  Partial check.

Other handy items are: team kit, helmet, shoes, gloves, some spares, a few gels.  Check.

Business trip side for the week before: a few casual clothes, few suits, computer and an array of electronic cables, connectors and adapters.

That's it.  Duffel bag and 30 minutes of scrambling around the house for BC, and a late night office party (for two retiring partners) and a morning scramble for a half hour for Colombia.

The bliss is I won't know till a day or so of racing what I've forgotten, and I barely care as long as I can get to race city in a few minutes for my track day!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Subaru WRX STI

A friend of mine is looking at buying a Subaru WRX STI, either 2010 or 2011… so he invited me to the dealer with him to “try it out”.  We tried out all 305HP the turbo boxer engine put out on the cold/rainy/wet/gross Calgary streets, which is actually a good way to get a feel for a Subaru’s AWD.  Fun!


Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Calgary deal blitz, Icing part two

Calgary has been busy...  Last week Storm's sale to ARC plus reorg was announced, this week it's CanEra's sale to Legacy.  A MEG IPO is in the works.  We'll see how the summer trend goes, but from a work perspective it's all good.

Here's to Icing becoming more media noted too.  Funny how trends build on themselves.  Aside from who started it, Smirnoff or their customers, watching icing happen is actually fairly amusing (if the trend exhausts itself by the time Stampede is over, I'll be happy too).

Monday, 14 June 2010

Karting - Rotax engine racing kart style

Jill Boddy is a kart racer and KERN employee,  and thank god we crossed paths in life through Tori... also worth mention is the UK passport that leaves her complete with one of those other side-of-the-pond-accents that just lends the "proper" flare to discussing things like racing, and needless to say, I'm susceptible lately to racing and racing machinery discussions.

I was lured out (let's say twisted my rubber arm) for an intro to karting night with faster machinery than I've had my hands on prior.  They're powerful enough that you can over ride traction limits pretty easily at any time, which is perfect - it makes the entire time a judgment and execution exercise.  Fun fun, other than our continuing Calgary "summer".  They tape off half the radiator exposure to keep the engine temperatures up if that's any indication of temperatures... sheesh.

I'm going to have to do more karting.  High speed machinery in ones hands, and the judgment, forethought, composure and reactions is addictive. The skill development potential is high, and need for speed is a genie that doesn't go back into the bottle I've learned. 

Bike therapy

It's warm in Calgary for once, and I needed some riding.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Ice Ice Baby

Lately "icing" has become a regular event.  Maybe it's Smirnoff guerilla marketing, maybe it's just an independent fad.  The short of it is that Smirnoff Ice is a girl drink, and buying one for a guy is an effective way to emasculate the recipient.  Send one to the recipient (note: anytime, anywhere is fair game), and he has to chug it down on one knee immediately, unless perhaps he currently has an ice on him (pocketed perhaps?), whereby revealing it sends both back to the original sender, forcing the sender to drink both.

Either way I'm hoping this isn't a fad with longevity.  Meme of the week: Bros icing bros.

This cropped up in full force at our recent teambuilding event a few weeks ago (FirstEnergy teambuilding: speed dating for the whole firm).  Ice was flying.  After the euphoria of that night, I got an email a few days later when I woke up, from someone with a score to settle:

Analyst: "So I'm settling in to study some CFA on the late night flight to Toronto, and the stewardess comes up to me and says – Sir, the fellow in row 19 would like to let  you know that you've been iced."

Classic, he didn't even see the sr. employee when boarding.  That's a classic way to ice someone, and everyone on the email thread pointed out the class of this manouvre.

Last night we did an apr├Ęs work at West.  We chit chatted with our brethren at BMO for a while, until they took an open table.  A half hour later, the younger and drunker portion of the group decided that the BMO table needed icing, real bad.  A waitress carried over a full tray… Gentlemen – you've been iced.

Being good sports about it, here's the collateral damage that was sent our way care of the BMO guys - some girly drink popularized by Sex in the City. 



















As you can probably imagine, the exuberance of this activity is pretty amusing to watch.  The plots for many more icings are in the works.  Guys are asking other guys assistants "which golf course will he be on in Phoenix" or "which restaurant is he dining at next week with clients in New York"...

Goldman Sachs Not Only Wall Street Firm To Get In On Icing Phenom



















Last week we mentioned that Goldman Sachs, in spite of the assumption it was immune from taking part in peasant-like drinking games, had played host to at least one confirmed icing on its premises at 200 West Street. For the uninformed, "Icing" is the new game the kids are playing these days, wherein you surprise a "bro" with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, any time, any place and he has to get down on one knee and chug it, unless he happens to whip out his own bottle, in which case, you got owned and have to drink both. Naturally we assumed that such events were taking place on Wall Street, but at places where it wouldn't be such a huge deal if you got caught by someone much more senior than yourself, such as Citi, where they're practically daring their employees to pull this kind of shit. It wasn't that we imagined Goldman Sachs had more important things to do– front-running clients is really not as difficult as people would you have you think, seriously, try it some time– but that they'd have more sophisticated drinking games to play. The same thinking went into our answer to the question, "Do you think there've been any icings at DE Shaw," which meant that for only the second time ever, we were proved wrong

Fortune has learned of icings at Florida-based investment bank Raymond James (RJF) and New York City hedge fund D.E. Shaw.

Not even going to comment on Raymond James, which we figured has been doing this thing since before it had a name. What we are going to harp on is that this is an embarrassment, for the rest of the hedge fund community. YOU'RE GOING TO LET DE SHAW BE THE ONLY ONE?! Unacceptable. You people need to rectify this and fast. Citadel, Tudor, Kynikos, Appaloosa, RenTec, Harbinger, Ping Capital, SAC– you should have a bottle down your pants and be ready to whip it out on a colleague stat. Make this happen and remember that if there aren't pictures it didn't happen at all.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

M Coupe Surprise

I worked late on a M&A transaction we've been putting effort to.  Then I go to drive home and find that the parkade is being painted, and that my car is "saran wrapped".  Nice of them to do so rather than painting it, but it's more humorous a day later than when my tired eyes saw it last night.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Warm weather windup

I was entirely pleased to spend Saturday/Sunday with my family in St. George.  Driving is theraputic to me, especially in fun cars.  The beauty of the southwest Utah landscape cultivates a good mental setting to ponder life as well.  Family time around the pool at a pace that, well, doesn't even really register as a "pace", helped top it all off.

Can anyone spot the two with the similar gene pool?  Aunt Peggy is awesome to hang out with, plus I got the classic line from a new girl at the office this morning who saw the picture on my screen and said "Erik, I didn't know you had a sister".

This is the after effects of playing golf in 100F + weather!  The mountain biking plans out their door to the awesome trails nearby were well intentioned, but this Canuck wilted in the heat.  Most of the rest of the day was poolside with sun tea with plenty of ice.  Had a great time with Uncle Bob, a consummate host and fun outdoorsman, plus Andy the soon-to-be-addition to the family.  I actually should golf more, and I think I know a few US southwest connections who could help ; )


Feel good family moment... I'm entirely pleased to have been able to catch up with the two fine cousins in St. George, plus one's soon to be husband (who's job may be law, but who's existence seems to be characterized by a comedic disposition).  Running into the almost in-laws bedroom to shut off the blackberry alarm clock at 5:30 AM at a speed that generated a vast commotion ranks right up there with Uncle Gary's accidental underwear incineration and/or near burning of the Canadian provincial park coniferous forests. 


The Porsche Boxster was fun but was inferior to my car for overall handling/driving pleasure... albeit this one probably has a lot of hard miles on it, so I'm not judging them all.  Underpowered (or just tired), handled decent - but the tires weren't very sticky, they wanted to squeal (and the car felt heavy and like it wanted to plow forward instead of turn).  Fun though, funny how perceptions change.  On paper a brand new Boxster Spyder which they've tried to cut weight out of and add power appears to be a closer power to weight ratio, or just the base model (non "s" designation) 911's are nearer.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Las Vegas detour

I woke up with a combo wake up call/room service breakfast that contained motivation to make something of the day... so I rented a Porsche, changed my flights, and drove to Utah to visit my aunt and uncle, two cousins, and almost husband of one of the cousins.

Andrea (and Andy) are going into town for her 10 year high school reunion, which will be a dry affair.  Bob, Peggy, Tammy and I are soaking up the St. George heat by their pool and catching up on old stories.

The combo of the reunion and old times was pure comedy, talk about good times.

Apres driving, apres dinner, apres the appropriate bed time by far

We dined at TWIST which is one of these places where preparation effort rates way higher than quantity of meal, it was all fancy pants and generally delicious.  After that it was Pure nightclub on the roof of Caesar's Palace.  Dan and Karen managed the lineup "requirements".  Karen being "the chick" and Dan being 270lbs of Grande Prairie muscle with a handlebar mustache helped.  Dan just asks the bouncer "hey big guy, how do we get in" and the bouncer entirely saw the humor that he sure as hell wasn't the big guy, but seemed to appreciate the politeness.  Skipped the big line and in we go.  I told Dan I was appreciative and that I'd arm wrestle him for who pays the bill.

Great night temps on the rooftop with a view of the strip.  I made friends with some bouncer who played a year of second string NFL and probably weighed 2.5x me, fun to hear his take on it all.  Surprisingly, even at an upclass place, he said a lot of people do the liquid courage thing and want to fight, even though he described his job as mostly customer service.  I said "seriously, people get wound up and want to fight you?" He put 74lbs of meat hook on my shoulder and said "yup, not everyone is like you"... and I just thought to myself that anyone who's dumb enough to rile up this guy deserves to be tossed to the street many floors below.  He and Dan side by side looked like 500+lbs of whoop ass you don't need to get involved with.

Somehow the 7:30pm dinner turned into 5am departure from the patio after what seems like 2,000 dance songs later.  Holy cow.  Let's just say fun was had, and that its not often I order room service breakfast at the same time as going to bed.

Friday, 4 June 2010

NASCAR driving at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Las Vegas motor speedway is huge, I've never been around NASCAR, but knew it was big... just how big is surprising.  This place has enough hot black pavement and stands to last me a while.

600 hp V8's tearing around is ear splittingly awesome.  I for years have drawn the line at never having owned a V8; 6 cylinder engines do the job and that's a mild bit of under consumption to leave it at that.  That's so-un American of me.  I'm not sure if I can hold that rule anymore, letting a V8 scream at high RPM and wide open throttle at maximum speed is pretty unreal when coming out of the corners and down the straight.  The muscles in the left side of my neck will be sore from working against g-force.  You can't even hear yourself think.  You can never supersize your fries enough in America, nor have too much horsepower, or a stadium too big to enjoy both of the above.

Karen, who on this trip is "the chick" (as there's only one) learned how to drive standard today.  I've never met anyone who learned to drive stick in a car with that much power.  She also had the highest to speed of the day.  That'll come in handy if she ever teaches kids to drive stick "yeah just shift up to 4th at about a hundred miles an hour and keep it pinned". 

NASCARs and track driving was awesome.  Very different obviously than Baja.  It's a science of small variables, whereas in Baja the act of being smooth is very different, more dealing with randomness than minutiae of setup on each lap.  Being out there with 20+ other cars would be total mayhem.   It's basically crits vs. BC Bike Race.

Richard Petty made himself a legend and dominated a sport that seems very hard to dominate.  He must have had a very canny mind for strategy and details developing as the race unfolded. 

There's many more car types and places on my to-do driving list, and the NASCAR experience was pretty enlightening.  "Shake 'n bake" has a whole new level of appreciation for me.

Las Vegas

I don't make it to this city particularly often, but it never ceases to amaze me.  There's a few acres of desert that exist in seeming disconnect with the world as a whole.  Recession may happen broadly, but as the recession noose constricts, some blocks are cut off, and a smaller area is undisturbed apparently - the core of this city seems buzzing.  Capitalism exists here, whereby on the way to a dinner and back, anything that one could spend money on is advertised for purchase.  Drugs, watches, booze and women in particular.  Apparently the forces of supply and demand have determined that these are the goods needed in Nevada at all hours, the invisible hand of economics works in odd ways.  This little part of this city is an odd place with its own economics.  It's probably good there aren't too many of them, but having a few probably takes the pressure off many other places.

We dined and partied at Tao.  I like both dining and partying, and it was a superb night.  It's key apparently in Las Vegas marketing to have monosyllabic, or at lease single word adjectives as business names.  Tomorrow, in the spirit of fun, we drive NASCARs, then we hit TWIST for dinner and PURE for fun (all caps apparently important too?).

The hotel room I'm in is literally a third the square feet of the house in progress I may live in again sometime between now and infinity.