Monday, 30 July 2012

TransRockies Day 3

After another instalment of the power sleeping routine, we rode up to Fernie resort for a start.  You know yesterday's climbing was savage off the start when a ski area start seems appealing in comparison - the access roads we climbed were relatively low grade and easier to pick a pace - you could hammer or spin - whereas yesterday it took threshold just to stay on.

Long climb off the start up the hill, fell into position pretty quick.  Was feeling good, settled into a pace, rode a bunch of the climb with the ever powerful Jon Gould.  Impressive!

Started the descent, saw Bunnin with a flat, then started working toward the climb to Verboten.  One of the Czech Masters was a better climber than his buddy, so he was hammering for the single track entrance, which made little sense given how they descend and that they weren't close to each other at all.  I snuck in first and was off... fun ripping the descent.  Bike is feeling so good.

Tried to keep momentum over to the power line climbs up to Island Lake - saved legs to ride most of the steep grunts in the sun.  So hard.  That really saps you when you can't pace and are at or above threshold to be on the bike.

Got two bottles at aid 2 and started climbing the mountain (Baldy) we usually ski.  Ugh... I think it's better suited for diesel powered powder skiing, but managed to survive the long climb with Pascal.  The last descent really worked my developing blister, and pushed my brakes hard.  Finished in 2:38 for 17th and stayed 16th overall.

Fun to not have mechanicals, weather issues, etc.  Just good plain mountain biking, which I've found is highly correlated to happiness for me.  Mountain biking isn't something I do, it's a huge chunk of who I am.

TransRockies Day 2

I did breakfast in 10 mins and continued power sleeping till it was time to go - caught a little of the women's road race then off we went to start. Got a decent warmup in, then...

Bam. No course profile graphic could prepare you for how vicious the powerline climbs were off the start. Steep and in your face. Ouch - pure heinous. I was near Devin and Geoff, which was smart pacing after yesterday. I tried to spin, err at that grade just grunt my granny ring around and save legs for later. There was so much climbing this morning - just kept going up and up and up. So tough.

I tried to pace well as I knew the climbs at the end would crush if you had nothing left. Rode most of the way with Gabor in sight, and Ian Crosthwaite whom I finished near yesterday. We just exchanged positions all day. Completely beautiful alpine views, awesome descents.

I stopped at aid 2 for a bottle and lost those two, but just kept plugging along. I couldn't tell on the final climbs what was hurting more - my legs or Gabor's crankset. Ian was ahead by 15 seconds then Gabor when we got to the last several kilometers of climb across the ski hill. I knew I had a few seconds on Ian but didn't want to give up time, so I finished by last bottle, had a gel, and started trying to reel him in. Surprisingly it happened quick, so I looked up and kept my pace. Surprisingly, I got up to Gabor fairly quick too. Then he didn't match my pace. I suspect the skipped feed had those two fading a bit, so I hammered to put in time.

Hit the tough downhill and heard some chain slap coming behind me, so let it roll best I could. Just worked over the shock and arms; hands were on fire. Gabor was approaching, he said after he rode that trail all day with his kids earlier so knew it all.

Just getting the reports on Devin - helmet crushed and handle bar broken off. All we heard earlier was shoulder issues. Geoff also had contusion and ripped shorts from a fall earlier in the day. Tough out there.

All in today was a full on, tough, mountain bike course. Engine alone couldn't do it all - it needed a big dose of mountain bike riding too. Really fun but hard day.

I'm riding well for me. No mechanicals, no body issues, just pedalling and eating and going so it just feels like true results. Absolutely great mountain biking days when the body works, when friends are around, when weather is perfect. So fun.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

TransRockies Day 1

We woke up at 6 and had breakfast 3h before riding, then I went back to bed. Slept quite late again. Been really tired.

Saw some Olympic road race action then left to start. I had to depart right when Vino pulled off.

I started a little slower than last year, and reeled in 5 riders on the climb. Felt good. Not too hot, but sunny, just beauty overall. Didn't get caught by anyone on downhill. Saw a bunch of deadgoats cheering before aid 1, I just rolled through. Descent was so fun, tires are just right, bike felt awesome.

Caught one more on the gravel climb post aid 1, then gave up my first pass of the day to a guy who was pretty decisively fast when he went by.

Finished my food and water on the gravel before aid 2 then got ready to roll through Coal Discovery with some flow. Felt pretty good overall, happy with finish, 2:15.01. Faster than last year I think.

Finish line is awesome. Mom, dad, tons of deadgoats, sunny day, great time out on the trails for everyone, just everything that's right about mountain biking. Probably the most fun day on a bike I've had this year.

Relaxing massage, a little DQ snacking after. Life is good. Everything I love about mountain biking happened today.

Friday, 27 July 2012

TransRockies Day 0

Chris, Jared and I had a relaxing trip down. Met Shawn at our condo, got some lunch, saw the girls, then stopped by Superstore for some supplies.

Check in was relatively prompt. Someone missed or ignored the Day 1 TT start guide of signing up in an approximate order of where they'd finish, so a guy and lady had spot 1 and 2 before the pros showed up. Volunteer manning the station didn't steer them hard enough on the guideline... so everyone filled in times (and wrote down their start time), but then had to check online at night (or in morning for those who missed this development) for a reshuffled deck.

The 4 of us then did a "little" pre-ride which stretched to 2 hours. Rode the last half of the course, got the fun Coal Discovery Trail in.

Dinner at BP's then early to bed. I've been sleeping heavily last couple days.  Hope that turns into a rested and recovered body.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

TransRockies bound

I'm looking forward to TR3 this weekend.  I see lots of familiar names on the start list, weather looks promising.
Since BC Bike Race, I've gotten in some long, but not intense rides – mostly just fun riding.  The shoulder feels mostly good.  Got in the 'jam after working late on Tuesday though for a bit of hard riding.
Bike has had a few modifications since BCBR.  My one kilo tires are replaced with ones that are a pound less each – back to the Ralphs, but the 2.25" ones with Snakeskin carcas.  Bike feels snappier already.  Took some spacers out of the "headset" to shrink the stack height, which feels good so far.
Finish packing and into bike race scene tomorrow!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cabin Jam

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a Cabin Jam, maybe a year or two.  Glad to get out… it got me some intensity I’ve been lacking (slacking?) for the last couple of weeks.  After working late and missing a Moose Mountain ride with the guys too it felt really good to go hammer.


Decent turnout, I think 10 started… fine pace all the way out Old Banff Coach Road, I didn’t feel too threatened.  But I kind of forgot how cutthroat they are… my bad.  I should be embarrassed.  Couple guys stepped on the gas on that first ravine climb on Airport Road, got a gap while I was behind another guy, and I couldn’t close it.  Weak.  Rode about half Airport solo, half with another two guys.  Gap never really extended by much, which is good considering the front had 5.


Regrouped at the top, and vowed not to have that happen.  Everyone just sort of cruised 22.  Waited for train in Cochrane.  Hill was hard obviously, I made it up third.  The Jevon/Evan (sp?) combo of the two Aerobic Powerhaus guys were pretty fast.  I ate too late since my afternoon meeting went long, and I think what I ate sucked some moisture out of me, as I felt a bit crampy.  Just paced it though and snuck in a third to top.  Not too much effort on 1A home… until I realized…


The 4 or 5 Aerobic Powerhaus guys were sort of whispering back and forth.  Then it dawned on me that I saw this a couple times earlier.  I thought they were just chatting.  I treat this thing as a fitness ride, but looks like they’re working on tactics.  Good to see, practice helps.  Anyway the last couple flat k’s into town were various separation attempts.  In theory they should have done a better job ditching the one jersey that didn’t match ; )  Flat stuff I can draft and surge though, so it was fun to not let it get one sided.


Nice evening all in.  I needed that.  Now it’s time to pack for TR.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Barrier Lake

Cindy and I rode Prairie View trail this weekend once she bounced back from not a good Saturday.  It’s a controlled, known climb, of moderate distance only, so suited an effort that may have been short if there were feelings of “empty” the day after.  A wide climb I could push on if needed.

Turns out, those weren’t of major concern.  A big sleep, a dinner of fairly plain stuff, and a late start Sunday made it all work out. 

I forgot how short the climb is for a fit person – my first memories of that ride are as a teenager.  Sure seemed bigger then.  It’s a nice ride.  After the first viewpoint, there’s the 10m descent followed by the steep ramp up to where the hike a bike starts.  I surprised myself by making the entire sketchy climb.  Happy.

We snacked while viewing the lake with the pesky chipmunk population, then rode down after walking the first bit of sketchy descent.  I should have remembered to walk back nearer to the trail so we could be on the riding part of the descent right away, instead of walking down the rocky cliff to the trail.  Oh well.  The roots descent was good – at one point we had contemplated Razor’s Edge, but elected not to.  I just kept hearing that “this is fun” so we kept rolling to the intersection, then down the improved, less water retaining, section of trail back down to the lake.  Again… teriffic.

Cindy - please pose prim and proper at the top.

Erik, please squint strangely while facing the sun and trying to operate a camera.

Dunked in the lake after, then mom’s for dinner.  On way home highway was congested so we went over to 1A.  Guys jumping off bridge into reservoir at Ghost Lake... well... became a ghost.  We saw emergency vehicles heading out just minutes later, then a buddy sent around the news that one guy just didn't surface and later died after some recreational divers pulled him out then wasn't saveable.

Nose Hill Park mountain biking

Nose Hill is picturesque and highly utilitarian for a workout in the city without much travel time. I've been riding there since '88. Cindy has enjoyed it recently... good training ground.  It's changed a lot too - lots of gravel trails and upgraded paths where it was once just footpaths beaten in, or old truck path doubletrack.

However, Cindy riding that bit of short grass on a slope is apparently not in the future... see how the wildlife, other users, and hill itself are suffering?  That's right, I don't see it either.  Cause that's not what's actually happening...

It's concerning to me though all these new signs up about eliminating 200km of trails and preserving the park in a natural state. For the record, I'm not "anti preservation" or "anti naturalist". But I'm also not a slave to bugs, grass and birds which have habitat all around the city, the prairie, etc. at the expense of having utilitarian recreation opportunities within the city. The mere presence of a trail does not decimate a species.

The friends of Nose Hill support the view of only allowing bikes on surfaced trails (, click on the principles list), city seems to be going that way. My view is paying taxes to pave paths up there, then only riding on those, is a net waste of my taxpayer dollars, so I'm not a fan of this. There's plenty of stupid, damaging trails up there like when kids shovel out huge jumps in poor spots, but there's also plenty of mostly well placed and structurally sound ones. Removal of 200k of trail seems ridiculous. Remove some portion of the worst ones, upgrade small sections of the ones with some problem areas, and let me have a recreation area.

Dogs shitting all over and chasing porcupines, coyotes and deer are way more of an impact than people riding bikes, but of course dog walkers are a constituency that's hard to argue against cause they're just so suburban positive man's best friend all that jazz that they can't ever be wrong. Let's also keep in mind that dogs don't feel obligated to restrain themselves to paved paths only, they'll go chase birds though the grass at will.

If there's an inherent necessity to reclaim, let's put the first few million bucks to the scars of the old gravel pit that's a true eyesore and damage to the landscape vs. ribbons of trail... seriously people.

Support riding there. Support the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance.

On a broader scale, I wish municipalities would understand that Canada has a global competitive advantage in mountain biking. We have been product and sport innovators since the start of the sport. We have globally competitive riders. We have a natural landscape that fosters us to become leaders in this sport for years to come, in ways that are entirely compatible with societal multi use and preservation of landscape. The sport (and its brethren of two wheeled derivatives) is part of the global answer to fitness, health, aging, lifestyle choice, congestion, traffic, community, noise issues, emissions and more. Crummy trails and rude users are an issue, but just like the dufuses who hit from behind in hockey or the guys who ride motorcycles 300km/h weaving in and out of traffic on publich highways, those people are the exception not the rule. We each have access as taxpayers to the natural environments of Canada in non-destructive ways, and that's a right I will continue to assert. 

Some of the Nose Hill guiding principles are to work with all interest groups. That's good. Bicyles are in those guiding principles singled out (ie. other user groups are not singled out... hmm... bias?), to be:
Bicycles shall be restricted to:
◦Surfaced trails on all sloped areas.
◦The majority of the top of the hill.
◦The majority of the gravel pit. (The unrestricted use of bicycles in the gravel pit, is to be monitored and, if necessary, restrictions may need to be introduced after public consultation)

So to me this has two major implications. The "top of the hill" and "on surfaced trails" seems to favour Edgemont grannies on paths image more than people who "actually ride bikes". Why can't it be understood that a huge utility of a giant hill park is the hill itself? Riding hills is the best fitness inducer we could all use more of. Top athletes in the province use that hill to train on all the time, and do so in a manner that isn't removing the hill, or it species, from enjoyment by current other users or future generations.

A Canadian city that prides itself on the great outdoors and recreation should be supportive of more cycling venues, not less. At the very least Fish Creek, Nose Hill, the COP "east lands" (speaking of another can of worms with groups expressing desire for big box development... sheesh. Thanks Nenshi though for talking sense there), and a corridor to Cochrane should be encouraged rather than discouraged as cycling venues open to residents.

The fact of the matter is minority interests who organize themselves get things done.  Cyclists aren't often on top of that heap.  Cows can go into K-Country on provincial "park" land to eat, even though they don't care about mountain vistas versus prairie grass.  Loggers assert their rights to log in "parks" that are created for some version of "preservation".  Those issues all exist, and "pristine" is rare near cities.  Striving for a Nose Hill that aims for pristine over practical is hypocritical and false logic.  Some parks are for the birds and the bees.  Some parks are for the people, and by history, location and luck, Nose Hill is one of those.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Robbed of a day

So the weekend plan was for some solid rides. We started decently on track by doing some tandem riding on Friday which felt good. After that it was a walk down 4th to pick a dinner spot.

Settled on Bistro 2210. Good times, tasty food. But...

Woke up Saturday, Cindy felt rough. We got ready to go ride - plan was to meet Craig and Kate halfway on their Canmore to Station Flats ride and re-fuel them at Barrier area as we were going to do a loop there.

Decided not to ride after 20 mins in car given Cindy's condition, but at that point were still were going out to bottle exchange as we thought they needed it still. As we were driving, Cindy was feeling worse, and we ended up doing a few highway stops to eject food. She was hot then cold. I'm no doctor, but the signs look pretty tell tale. We suspect an undercooked steak in the steak and frites. She also alternated between chills and hot. Called Kate and Craig who as it turns out didn't need bottles as they had dropped their own... so we could turn around.

Given how close we were to Canmore, we decided to go there to the hospital since they're so efficient relative to Calgary. Chatted with a private equity guy I know who's kid did something to his leg. They gave her some anti nausea stuff, got her hydrated, and here we are.

I might sneak out for a couple hills at night while she sleeps, Cindy might be up for some crackers and ginger ale later.

Bummer. It's awful to have or to witness, and it tanks a couple days out of life.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Mom's Birthday, Freightliner VistaCruiser MB Edition

Change is afoot with my parents - they've become more mobile for my mom's birthday this year. I'm supportive, and might have to even act like a kid again sometimes and sneak mom's car out of the garage...

This is a Freightliner chassis (which is owned by Daimler anyway), 2 person RV conversion. Easiest way to describe it is a "Sprinter" van, as I'm not sure there's any functional difference between the MB Sprinter and a Freightliner chassis with the Sprinter drivetrain. It's powered/stopped/steered by Mercedes 2.7L turbo diesel CDI engine, which is an amazing little power plant. It's a second hand vehicle, but we're remiss to find any sign of use - no knicks, scratches, everything polished and just looking like new from seats to door seals to cabin. It drives like a dream; the size isn't even perceptible really as its narrow, the weight isn't excessive, the powerplant is stout, and the handling is excellent.

It only holds two people, but holds them in style. "Dog wash" on the side with hot/cold looks perfect for me and my bikes before I get in the shower... when they let me sneak it out of course.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Kananaskis Country weekend

After sneaking out on Thursday/Friday for smaller after work rides with Cindy to help her with her Breck Epic preparation (Pneuma/Race of Spaces, Tuscany Ravine respectively), the weekend had bigger rides in store.

Saturday Craig called the plan and Kate, Alana, Trish and I joined (see light blue dots on map, done counter clockwise)... while Cindy played soccer and went for a road ride... probably the right choice.  We parked at the Misty Creek trailhead about 15k past Highwood pass.  Climbed Misty Creek trail up and over Rickert's pass or Rickard's pass (I'm seeing conflicting spelling and don't know for sure) which is a high ridge to cross, looks like about 2,300m/7,500ft from Google for what that's worth.  Steep climbing at the end, but say 50m hike a bike out of all of it which is pretty good.  Steep descent for first few kilometers - two fifths of our group rode it all, but it's tough loose shale back behind the saddle.  By the way, The Capitain tires were great, but a 140mm rear rotor on a big 29er wheel is a little under-braked for the alpine.  That was pass one.

Craig nearing the top of the pass.  It's just where the notch of the mountain and those trees make in the photo.

Kate got up behind craig, which gave her enough time to take pictures of the rest of us pushg.  Beautiful view.

Happy summiter.

Trish on top of the world!

Chilling with Craig, no sweat for him.

The mountains behind us are east, we're facing west (or a touch southwest).

Dropped into the Sheep River Trail which is double track and climbed the high point there, it's a pass in terms of water flowing but all could be "rail grade". Tough though, probably 10km of gentle climbing, then I'd guess 5k down. Once going down a baseball sized rock bounced up from my front tire and smashed my shin pretty good, thick swelling. Trish was first to top of that pass - she meant business. I wasn't feeling the hurry as much, and the 10 crossings of the creek iced my legs enough that I didn't feel like turning on the power.

This is about 10 minutes down the descent after crossing the shale fields and avalanche debris path.  Steep flower pastures.

Alana in the first river crossing just after we passed the horses (who came up from Bluerock recreation area).

From there we descended to the Big Elbow/Little Elbow junction, turned left, and did the 5km or so out to Elbow Lake and therefore Elbow Pass as well. From there it's the couple minute drop down to Highway 40 to finish with Highwood Pass... which felt easy on the pavement after all the rest. 17k drop down to the parking spot. About 50km all in, not the easiest 50km, but certainly fun. Great group ride, so fun with everyone! Trish's computer said 3:40 ride time, but with creek wading and other stops we were probably out for 4.5 hours.

This is the T intersection of Big Elbow/Little Elbow/Elbow Lake.  I'm happy after inspecting how a rock smashed my shin when we started the downhill to get here.

Sunday was to be a big ride with Cindy and I, but unfortunately it was raining.  We decided/needed to brave it anyway to get in some riding.  Did Big Elbow out and back, it's rocky rather than muddy so figured it'd be good in the rain, and extended it out to Elbow Lake for the views.  Nice climbing, we were warm in the rain as Cindy just got a new Sugoi rain jacket, and actually saw enough others out that it was refreshing to see people not throwing in the towel due to weather.  I forgot my rain jacket at home... oops... but had a little Coleman emergency poncho which did the trick although flapped in the wind a lot.

The "exciting" moment of the day was when fording the Big Elbow in a spot that was probably 20' across and the deepest was just below my crotch - of course it's cold, but the current was pretty strong too... strong enough to push Cindy around a bit.  So when I'm standing on the other side with numb legs thinking how I'm glad I'm not in the water anymore, I have to drop my bike pronto and go back in for a helping hand.  If you ever slip then get your bike partly in the water it pulls so much harder too, so it can go wrong pretty quick if your foot moves.  Anyway, all was fine, and we had to cross it again in 5 minutes which went fine.  From there it was up to the Elbow Lake turnoff and some pictures/lunch snack at Elbow Lake.  Rolling back is of course higher pace, net downhill, all rideable and all fun.  So that's where the Elbow River is born!
Finished strong with good pedalling on the flats for about 5h all in with stops, and about 45k.  Got home pretty late, ride started later/took longer than we thought.

Aim is to get in a couple more of those next weekend for the endurance and overall mountain biking skills, plus some weekday power work at Nose Hill or other stuff in town. 

First crossing of the Big Elbow (way lower down in the valley with more water - big bridge crossing).  Those shower caps may look awful but I think they made the ride - best weight to performance in the rain piece of gear to keep in a kit.  Heads with zero windchill and not wet make so much difference.

Half hour further up the valley.  Mountains in back plus valley would have been spectacular on a clear day - but we got enough views in to make it worth it.

Elbow Lake through a slightly foggy lens.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


After a fatigued effort at our corporate part Monday, today was a bit of Stampede breakout for me - a corporate party on the West patio 5 floors above Steven Avenue in the blazing heat, but with excellent chili, corn, chicken beef and 'slaw to go with the cold ones, an afternoon work session, Ft. Calgary afternoon shift with the concerts in a corporate tent with plenty of snacks, shade and refreshments, and then on to the chuckwagons and 30X saloon hospitality. Chuckwagon racing seems sketchier than a cycling peloton on wet cobbles to me.

It was all topped off by a visit to the mini donut stand before we left.

In other news, the new belt buckles this year have been getting positive reviews.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

BC Bike Race Stage 8

Stage 8 is fun. We see bike race romances blossom. We see those who's alcohol desires are too pent up to see them pace through the night. We see epic dance floor endurance - if top racers are sweating, they're holding a good pace on the dance floor. I've never known a Whistler without Buffalo Bills. Cheap pizza slices after.

BC Bike Race Day 7

Early morning mobilization from Squamish to race in Whistler. Beauty day, beauty course. To me the last couple days have been superb all around tests of mountain biking (well, all week has but the sun and trails of Squamish and Whistler stand out).

We started in waves today, with me being in the second one. This was great - 4 min gap to the front wave, but able to ride off front with one other guy so got to ride clear trails all day till we caught a couple people sporadically. This must be what it's like to actually be a talented racer - empty trails! Started with a long climb up "easy does it", then came down "crank it up". With all the rental DH riding last year, crank it up was awesome. I'd say I definitely took the Flash and it's carbon rims beyond it's contemplated target use. The trails were packed well and a hardtail actually works great as long as you land transitions and don't get bucked. I was able to ride that part fast enough for some smiles.

Got into all the technical swarm of the Whistler network by Lost Lake which was awesome; to me it's a perfect mountain bike course. Physically hard and technically demanding to ride fast, yet fun and safe at any speed. If today isn't fun for people, they should pick another sport!

Caught a few of the lead group through the day, and just caught Wendy at the end for a marker. Good considering the deficit I started with I was happy, and it was fun to actually just ride feeling peppy in the sun. Great XC style course (and length) without being repetitive at all.

I had some low points out there this week, but not unexpected. Stuff sacks every morning, socks and shoes, and putting on jerseys reaching over head was not as easy as I would have liked. I also had some high points... I have two arms that work and can steer a mountain bike. I have legs that can pedal it, and the riding position is generally fine on my back, although I had to do some hard tail and steep climb inspired stretches. I have a bike that didn't really have mechanicals. I stayed flat free on last day this year and therefore also not mosquito ravaged.

I also have a very nice massage therapist who was all smiles all week ; ) Coincidentally, I also have a girlfriend who's talking about riding the challenge version of this event next year. If so, I'll have to come with functioning arms and a different bike, which will alleviate most of my issues. Both Tania and other riders on course said Cindy blazed both the climbs and descents when she was pacing ahead on her own. Her "coach" received many remarks after... I think it's really just due to inner talent.

As always, good memories of the people, the trails, and the riding. I "raced" some days and pushed myself, but a few days that wasn't in the cards. I can still enjoy those without too much stress.

This week packs an excellent dose of technical riding into 7 days. I consider it boot camp to keep the skills up. It'd be hard to do as much quality singletrack in a week on your own when visiting a place, which is where the value is for me. Also no bugs, and usually no rain help the sell.

Friday, 6 July 2012

BC Bike Race Day 6

Squamish day. I love it. Lots of different terrain to test lots of different skills. Fun riding, nice weather, no camp movement.

Cindy came and stayed in my tent after shut down cause the rest of the girls were kicking back beers. We had a couple wake ups, one at 3:30 when Cindy was "going to check which therapist I was supposed to see tonight". Funny.
Woke up tired though, I have no gas. I didn't turn a pedal in aggression all day, just rode along. Pretty mellow.

Had fun on the technical descents, always like the terrain here.

Got to a final section of road and drafted some guy, he shoulder checked to see if I'd pull through. I just said I wasn't in race mode today and gave him a push. He was elated and surprised, said nobody's ever done that before when he's finishing.

Cindy and Tania rode the Challenge today and had fun. I'm so glad. They stuck together with different bikes, skills, fitness and just had fun. The finishing gravel flats Cindy came up on Dre (he had like 4 flats today), rode his wheel, and joked "is that all you've got Hestler?". I think it was good humour from both sides.

So I had enough time to grab Cindy's computer to check something out. The Captain UST 29er 2.2" is 950g per tire. The Ralphs I had on were 495g. So that's exactly 1lbs difference in rotating mass. I knew they felt sturdy. I guess I'm getting a good workout this week in the name of shoulder security. Funny.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

BC Bike Race Day 5

Sechelt to Langdale ferry terminal today, which means the Highway 102 descent to finish - heavenly. Woke up like Oscar the grouch today, whole body below the eyes felt like they were in a garbage can. However funny things happen. I got my bike out of the check, filled bottles and had breakfast. Went over to aquatic center for drying some stuff on hand dryers and washroom... it's handy that swimmers are up early.

Felt full and bloated after dinner and breakfast. Didn't feel good through a little warm up. The climb through the gravel pit was a shock to the system, went backwards.

Then somehow I dropped the boat anchor and just started rolling forward. Road section catch a couple. Get into singletrack climbs and catch a couple. Wait till guys dismount and slide by. Repeat. Didn't really stop... so fun. Just pick away at the techy climbs. One spot we come off a road into forest, that's usually ridden opposite direction by downhillers. So from their perspective, last bit of trail in the forest is 20 feet of big log with chicken wire on it, a 4 foot steep steep ladder, then say 10 foot dirt rollout. In reverse, it's not rideable by any means I can picture, partly cause the ramp is longer than a bike length to get a front wheel up, and partly it would need a lot of speed to pull it off. Doesn't stop buddy behind me from trying. He gets part way up, can't unclip, and just reverse rolls down the hill with a big thump flat on his back. Rolling up to it with good line of sight should have yielded better judgement, but I guess that's Darwinism at work. I got the awesome view as I was standing there putting my bike on the log. He had a 1% chance of showing me and the other riders what wimps we were, and a 99% chance of exactly what happened. At least I was ahead and it had no chance of taking me out. Rubber side was down today!

More steep climbs, just inched along and stayed on the bike. Talked with the guy who went down with me on the gravel road the other day. He's fine, we both said sorry for whatever that's worth. He now took his bar ends off which got entangled somewhere in my and my bike.

Got to the Highway 102 descent and let it fly. Super fun, kept passing. All good till a mix of sun and shade section where I didn't see a turn. I slow down, guy behind bonks into my derailleur. We backtrack but in 20 seconds a 6 guy group goes by. Pass a few back, but I can't power the little sections as my rear gears are skipping. Pull over to fudtz with it. Few more go by. Oh well. Got to the part with the sharp left off the steep downhill and the big log "up" to lunge up. Made that just fine, other than the "up" made me envision Monty Python sketch of arms ripping off torso to get it done. That was probably the weaker link than my hands on the bars. Rode with Mike Sarnecki and Mike Blennerhasset for last bit after that, they were midpoint of that group that went by when we were off. Didn't really feel the need to request a pass at that point so left it.

Roll into ferry terminal for what is likely one of my better days despite it not feeling like it. Would have been quite good if not for the derailleur issue. Fun anyway, and felt good just riding more reasonable.

Got tired of sitting in the hot parking lot so asked the schedule. BCBR girl said I couldn't go wait down in the ferry lounge. Ferry employee heard the exchange and said we can go on any one, so I walked down. Girl is yelling after me that I'll be abandoned without a ride. I was happy to sit in Lion's Bay cute little coffee shops and wait for bus, or take my chance at finding a ride. Funny. Abandoned is a strong word for an anglophone with a credit card in idyllic Horseshoe Bay. They mean well, but just stay with one script. Later it emerge's that Neal Kindree won and was the only guy who made the 10:50 ferry which is amazing. Gave $5 back to Manny the Namibian at the food truck so I didn't feel like a mooch from yesterday.

Anyway, finding a ride was easy, a French Canadian guy who used to do U of C triathlon club with Tori recognized me and has been volunteering instead of riding as he hurt his shoulder... go figure.

So the big issue is I'm doing nothing this race of what I've learned to do in the past. Don't do any of these:
1. Don't start with injury, as they perpetuate and cause others. Sort of like showing up with a well functioning bike.
2. Don't stay off the mountain bike for three weeks prior if you can help it, the little muscles all over the body atrophy.
3. Don't lack high end fitness as it helps to get to singletrack without bottlenecks off the start.
4. Don't ride a hardtail. They're great, but not at this race. Don't hammer screws - use the right tool for the job. Especially with 1 and 2 above. I wish I were able to sit and pedal on the flats better.
5. Pick the right tire for the job. I tried to, but made a mistake on the ones I picked up in Canmore. Then the rain and my shoulders scared me, so I went overboard (which I'm glad of), but don't start that way.
6. Don't fiddle around at aid stops. The glasses wash in nice on the mud days, or lick them and drive on. It's nice they have a half dozen food choices, but these are 3h days for the most part. I just need a bottle top up.

I know/should know all these things, I was just distracted by my shoulder I guess, and bike was in the shop. Written reminder to self for next races.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

BC Bike Race Day 4 - 4th of July!

My arms aren't working well when I wake up. They feel fine riding, but packing stuff, putting on jersey, etc. Is hard. I think it might have something to do with my sleeping mat being like 1.5" thick and my elbows sit lower than my torso at night when I'm on my back. Still not able to do up my shoes well in the morning - lower back just frozen. Massage and stretching though to try to mitigate. Rode to the ferry with Cindy and crew, early, then napped in the car.

Did some work calls on the ferry till we got out of range, then met Shawn's friend Jake Wetzel on ferry. Good chatting to him. Stayed on the ferry till riders departed for a no-line washroom and to soap my glasses. 68k bit longer day was up for us.

Start out of Earl's Cove was good - standard straight up with zero warmup. Chris Sneddon dropped by on his road bike to say hi to the race. Bike was clean ; ) Rode with Wendy for most of climb, then somehow ended up in front of her on those first switchback turns that are semi paved on the descent. Got to the fast descent switchbacks and came up on a guy before the sharp right to the wood bridge. He wipes out on the wood and hits the ferns. But guess what? I'm like 3 feet behind and miss it! Yay! I slow down when it happens, and didn't therefore shift right for the little rise. Wendy passes, I get on her wheel, and am happy. Smooth rider and someone who's not going to mess anything up, smart pace, happy. We discuss this briefly and I say for the first 3 days I didn't miss that bridge situation and have had my share of wipeouts, and that I'm just happy to be here now.

We ride for a while till Cory flatted so she gives him a tube. He passes in like 3 mins, takes a while for her to come back up. I like those power climbs along the power lines, feel good and moderate pace.

Wendy comes by, I stay on for a bit, then have to fudtz with some mud in my eye, then can't close the gap.

Oddity of the day - drop into some shady single track and there's a big partridge like bird running down the trail. I come close then hit the brakes, cause I thought it'd fly away or run to side. Guys behind me see it too when I stop. So I say "move bird I don't want to run over you" and sort of shove my front wheel towards it to get it to move. It flaps its wings, gets off the ground, double talon grabs my front tire, and flaps its wings and makes a racket. I shake the front wheel to get it to let go. It gets back on the path and stares at me. So like any grown man faced with a 12" bird in nature, I just take my bike through the ferns 3 feet off the side of the trail, while the German guys behind just laugh at how nature is sometimes. But maybe it was my spirit animal for keeping me on two wheels today.

Then I start feeling a bit off. My ears feel "sloshy" and my nose is running. I had a mini cold sore this morning. And I feel something in the back of my throat. It feels like yesterdays bits of debris that flew into my mouth then got coughed into a weird spot are not gone yet. I can feel it back there but can't get it out.

I slow way down and feel headachey. I've eaten and drank fine, and it's cool enough out that when you stop it feels cool unless you're in the sun, and I'm say 2h in. So it's not like I hit massive dehydration or something. I think it might have something to do with whatever gunk is inside.

So I keep slowing down. Ugh. I can muster some leg strength for the technical singletrack ups with all the wet stuff, but on the road I'm soft pedalling. Hmm. Also those steep power climbs and the stiff back are catching up, plus then the trails are also flat and choppy, so going fast with the hardtail over bumps. I do a lot of on bike stretching, then succumb and do a three off bike stretch sessions during the remainder of the day.

Anyway it's fine, nice day. Happy riding. Get to aid 2 and it dawns on me that it's 4th of July - they're flying a bunch of flags. Roll onward.

Last climb is fine, start passing a bunch of the challenge distance riders. Get to the descent and just roll patiently, I'm fairly happy that I hadn't dismounted yet today so try to keep that going. My brake pads are toast, metal on metal, so my stopping distance is lengthened. Just taking it easy.

Come up on a guy who tries to keep the gap, pushes himself too much and eats it. I stop and ask if he's ok. Two guys come up behind who saw it happen. He's ok, says thanks for asking. We wait while he untangles his bike as we can't go around cause there's just a cutout of some massive fallen tree. Another guy rides up, yells rider up, then tries to go around. Biffs into the fallen tree. I let the back two guys check in with him as that seems like Darwinism to me.

I roll on and catch a bunch of people who are on and off their bikes. I like the technical stuff, and am riding it but just picking away not going fast. My hands are sore. I have open sores on the back of my thumb knuckles that I cover at night and during the ride, but they sting and are hurting my thumbs. So I'm monkey gripping my bars sometimes, which is tiring my fingers and giving me callouses/blisters on my palms. Add that to the list of falling apart; I guess its almost comedic.

Come up to Jake Wetzel (Shawn's friend) and he says he's been in no man's land and is glad to have someone to ride with. We tally ho, get to an open road, and let it rip. First time I've even tried riding fast in 2 hours. It's hard. I prefer the singletrack today as its different workload. Finish slow. Slowest day yet.

I spend some money on fish tacos, fries and potato salad and a coke, and eat dirty. I'm way back in the queue for shower and bike wash. Instead of linear thinking, I walk 100m to the local aquatic center, get a line free shower for $3 and find a gardening hose for a wash. The marginal utility vs. that cost is a good tradeoff. So simple.

I'm trying to find something to gargle with to help the situation. And massage and stretching for the back. I'm at as low a pressure for tires in the back as I dare. The guy who lent me a couple bucks for the tax on my fish tacos order had a shiny new Scalpel so we talked about that a bit...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

BC Bike Race Day 3 - Powell River

Well, back to bike riding. I'd been hoping that one of these days the recovery machine catches up with the wrecking crew. I know the body is working since I feel stubble on my face, but it's funny that I haven't seen myself in a mirror in days. Odd how much of a focus that is for people, even at the best of times I barely actually look at myself in the mirror.

Anyway, the nap plus sleep helped. Then this morning I milked the sleep again and just got ready fast. Couldn't put shoes on as my back was frozen, that makes one feel like I should have a cane not a bike; couldn't move my arms super good on the stuff sack exercise cause shoulders sore. Sheesh. Dropped by my pre-scoped out secret washroom to blow dry armwarmers a bit, but didn't end up needing them. 5 min breakfast and on then jumped on the bus. Another full nap on the bus, then another nap on the ferry. I actually like the commutes. There's not a lot of times in life I can't do a single thing other than lounge.

Did a little warmup, then off in the sun for a change! Wow. Sun. Pushed hard on the hills off the start and stayed where I thought was decent. Wendy and the Handfords there as my reference markers. I felt fine. Started on the fast logging road descent with the group. Then went through one of the big drainage dips at whatever super fast speed we're going, and next thing I know, a guy's back is against my left leg and he's looking up at me in shock/disbelief as I look down. What the?! He wipes pretty bad and I see it through the same speed action cam, and I go down too. But I get up unscathed, really no idea how that happened considering the speed. What is going on this year, seriously 3 days in a row totally random and different circumstance? Anyway, last time I saw Wendy and the Handfords. Dick around with my derailleur hanger as I went down on that side and shifting was junk for a bit, people flying by. I'm used to this now.

Start pushing along, and make up a few spots, but it's muddy and not super easy to pass. Get to a road and do a few more spots. Having fun. Then weirdness. So I'm in some line, and a piece of dirt from some guys wheel goes in my mouth, and I cough it out. But like a stick or a rock goes back in the back of my nasal cavity like when you eat something wrong and cough. So it's just feeling awful for hours. It felt like I had a sliver on my dangly thing at the back of my mouth.

Seemed to have just that extra oomph on the wet roots and rocks to just stay that good rolling, just ahead of it pace instead of the no flow pace. Just keep picking up the knees all day, keeping the spin. Eating is working well, as long as I don't mind mud mixed in. But all the food is in my shorts cause I can't reach either my left or right jersey back pockets without a major production. Whatever works.

So we come into aid 2, and I get some chain lube and a snack, and look up the big gravel climb, and see 7 people. And my mind just knows I'm going to ride right past all 7, look around the corner, and ride past more. It's just all working. It feels fun. This is the positive experience bike racing is supposed to be; at least partially. Before we dip into the singletrack I have some snacks to refuel from the effort, and a guy is behind me as we go into the timed section. When we come out, I've gapped him. Wasn't blazing, just trying to roll smart. I can ride downhill at least a bit! Wow, that hasn't happened yet. Big tires on the Flash are good. I like that bike, it'd be great for lots of stuff. BCBR is just at the far end of the spectrum and it's being pushed more than what it's really intended for.

Saw a sasquatch again in the woods. He's funny. I like that touch.

Would be nice to just have a clean day. Felt fine overall, I'm not super counting spots, but I think more or less got back to where I started by the riders I saw around at the end. Little things like a high speed freak wipeout, derailleur hanger bend, and something in my mouth don't count when pushing pedals feels good.

Ferry got going late today, so race was late, then lines for everything. People stress instead of problem solving. I showered first and ignored my bike. Then snacked, then massaged, then ate. Heard last call for bikes... and saw the two bike was lineups were like 50 people deep. Truck was going on ferry tonight. I asked if they take dirty bikes. Yup. I asked if they had a beer fund for the bike transport gang. Yup. I asked if they solve problems. Yup. In theory bike is going to be hosed down and chain oiled in morning for a small contribution. I have his name, he has my currency. Taking 35 minute line out of the system helps a lot. Waiting for my massage time is entertaining. Some people stress. Some don't. Like come up all muddy with 10 minutes before their time and "have to go to their hotel first, can they move their time?". Booked solid for everyone - there's like 500 riders. But even a 10 year old can tell them what to do - Gabby just says there's a creek behind the tents, the ocean, or a hose setup for waterbottles and just get clean enough then wrap a towel around you. 9 out of 10 do, 1 out of 10 has some sort of a meltdown based on illogical self imposed constraints.

Cory Wallace won today's stage which is awesome. I'm happy for him.

I'm dreaming a little of the Scalpel or the old Flux when it had a buttery Marzocchi on it... if only it had a bit more wheelbase.

Monday, 2 July 2012

BC Bike Race Day 2 - Campbell River

Rained all night and woke up to rain in Cumberland. I milked the sleep minutes for all they were worth then got ready quick. Walked down the street, ate breakfast in 5 mins, and found my no lineup secret washroom. Boarded BCBR bus with a race employee who's a friend of Cindy's.

This morning's peloton was seeded by times from day 1, but after no less than two speeches at dinner last night and another reminder later, the neutral section seemed just as suceptible to swarm up the sides to the front. Silly since we were going to an 8k gravel uphill. So passed 50 people back, was in chase group to lead, then just powered out and settled in.

Big Specialized El Capitain 2.2" UST tires felt slow off the start, powered out on the climb and saw some that I'd usually ride with head off. I was fine with that. Was pushing a lot of rubber, you could hear it. Knew the left turn for the trail, so went ahead at the right time and started working the singletrack. It was super fun, the tires were like velcro even though rocks, roots and mud were the day - it rained from start to finish. It was a smart change for some security. 15 mins in I was trusting corners and moving well. Caught up to a group... and bam. Guy goes down on a wood bridge and thus so do I - not a super good trend this year. Didn't injure the shoulders or anything, but I am just sore in a lot of spots. But man this luck is being pushed. Started riding, but shifting was awful. Bent derailleur hanger. Then that led me to some chainsuck that ripped off the little metal chainstay protector. Tweaked the derailleur hanger by hand, undid the chain, calmed down a chain kink. Lots of people going by during the time I spent working on it, but I could care less. I've lost appetite for singletrack pacelines in the wet; pretty risky its proven.

With that setting the stage, I turned the mid part of the day into the BC Bike Ride. After the fast flow section, it got to wet roots for a pretty long while. Takes a certain amount of mojo mix to ride it and float. Between a not 100% arm, hardtail, and general soreness from 3 weeks of being gentle on the upper body combined with yesterday, I'm short on the right mix of ingredients.

Skipped aid 1, aid 2 I stopped and got a banana. Guy wiped off the number plate to scan it and I asked if I could borrow the towel to wipe my glasses. He said I just walked by the complimentary glasses cleaning station. I guess that's evidence alone that I could've used it. Once they were shiny and clean, it was comical how obvious it was when I missed it.

Got the barn door fever after that and just pedalled hard in an attempt to turn down the suck, plus it got smoother and my shoulder wasn't feeling as limiting.

After the fun flow at the end, got to the road with a group of three others. They were dogfighting for whatever time we were at, which I don't think was notable, but they might have had race dynamics among them. I started with a pull for politeness, then they all started attacking each other with surges and hero pulls. I sat at the back trying to figure it out, and seemed to remember they said 4k of pavement at the end - and it seemed surprising the pace they were going (harder than a 4k pace, but maybe they were stronger or didn't know distance). Cognizant of my big slowish tires I just watched. Within a kilometer of the finish, they essentially had beaten the piss out of each other, and I would have had to coast to go slower. I just kept riding normal and they came in a bit behind. Almost funny.

Did a cold bike wash and shivered in the shower line for one truck until they got the second truck going, so I got a clean stall in the women's truck. Heavenly.

On the massage table I felt beat up. Everything hurts. Then oddly my right shoulder really ached. Might have been the way my arm was when I was on my stomach since I was trying to keep my hand warm. Didn't hurt from the fall, didn't hurt riding, or showering and scrubbing little rocks out of my hair. But now it's worse than my left. I think at this point the proper therapeutic methodology would be to take this old dog out back like ol' yeller and put me out of my misery. Everything hurts, and it's for surviving rather than a feeling of "racing". I say that separate from result expectation - racing is more self actualization and just feeling fluid and strong as the kilometers unfold. And the self I actually am right now is sore, not very zippy, and tired.

Bow called and said my Scalpel is ready. I could use it. I'm gonna say that 100mm front and back, UST low pressure, long wheel base, and also what I've noticed as a lower center of gravity with 26ers would all really help. I'm not riding the rooty/rocky flats as effectively as prior.

But then there's revelation... I pedalled hard today in the rain for 3 and whatever hours. It hurt, I was alone for a while, and I just savoured the thoughts. I felt the mud on every part of me, thick enough to slide down my shins. And I enjoy that, I really do. Then when the massage tent chatter was going on, topic came up of an interior BC guy (skipping names, places on purpose) who was out last year, and was stoked to be here this year. Bit older, and "made the news" last year for hitting his chin on a log bridge and needed some stitches. Kept riding. With a smile. Really happy energetic dude. Got pneumonia earlier this winter that wouldn't go away. Went in for follow up and xrays and found out it was lung cancer in reality, and is apparently labelled as completely terminal, so obviously isn't here. That's what makes riding in the mud with sore body parts seem like the best deal going. I'd say put me on the Highway 103 descent and just let me roll it right out to the ferry terminal into the ocean.

So I went for a walk to try to find a burrito. Got close in concept - found a sandwich shop run by a really nice lady who fully accommodated my request for extra doses of their tasty mustard. It was also an art shop of sorts too. Her sister does the stuff. So I bought the attached "picture" of good thoughts.

Ate twice, had a nap, went to bed. Still raining.

Sunday, 1 July 2012


This is a teepee on main street next to an out of business movie theatre. They play music at the teepee. You can stretch or dance in the teepee, but no talking.

The owner of the local bike shop was drunk when I went in around noon.

This is The Patch Big Store, which sells really random stuff, also known as The Big Patch.

The island is a bit different.

BC Bike Race Day 1 - Canada Day

Today started awesome. Good sleep, although lower back was sore. Nice weather. Fresh kit. So many friendly faces. Good breakfast, strong coffee, dinner night before was the $9 schnitzel and spatzle special dinner. Not as good as Olga's, but for that price the day before a bike race I was in heaven. Canada day. Awesome bike, at a bike race. I just can't picture life being much better; just so happy.

Gravel road start was a bit sketchy. Too many caffeinated riders. I usually find it annoying that people don't accept/realize it has zero bearing on the finish. But this time I found it scary, as I have a different risk reward complex now with a sub par left shoulder.

Got into the single track in like 40 back as I didn't feel the need to jockey for position with everyone coming up the outsides of the peloton. Then it predictably came to a jam with people struggling with wet roots and logs and such. Heard a ways back that it was standstill. I didn't unclip, just rode clean. That seemed to calm down the guy behind me that he saw I wasn't gonna be the guy holding him up.

So we get to the fast gravel path in a group of three, and it's just carving left and right turns at mach speed with the ferns on the side hiding what's at the edge of the trail. All good until guy in front hits his pedal on the apex of a corner with a hidden log in the apex. He goes sideways. I also hit pedal. We promptly make a pile. On the way down my left hand does a death grip on my bar and refuses to put an arm out, good thing the brain kicked in. Guy behind runs over us. I swan dive to a halt with my chest on the gravel and mud at the side of trail. Good news is that I'm not writing this from a hospital with a sling on and painkillers. I'm happy to get back on and ride off fine. Left knee sore from (probably) bonking on my stem. Used up one of my 9 lives on that one...

Next was the big gravel climb. My "road bike" feels good, I pass 20 people, say hi to the Handfords, and get to the aid stop feeling good about both life and this morning's luck. Even was riding with/past people whom I haven't climbed with for a few years. That's good.

We drop into the descent, and I'm now a beginner. Hardtail. Skewed risk/reward calcs in my brain cause of the arm. Lack of tire since the Maxxis Ikon 2.25's I bought prior weren't UST and wouldn't air up night before. Wendy passed me like I was standing still. I tried to loosen up and follow her, but she was gone. Wet roots had me sliding, and usually I'd got 50% faster and wouldn't even be on the roots long enough for lateral motion. I've generally been not passed on a downhill out here for all the years out. I made up for all of it today. It dawned on me that white DG kit, hardtail, lack of tire, passing on way up and being passed on way down was my contribution to "riding euro".

Made it down, and expended some power on the flat sections. Legs feel good. Flat with bumps and hardtail is tough, this ain't the right bike for here. Will try to find tires tonight to mitigate, but missing the Scalpel. Back started seizing, it was off even from sleeping. Ugh.

Get to the last gravel climb and pin it, group I was with threw in the towel. I get close to seeing Wendy, then we drop into the down section. Gone.

I try to be patient and let the flow find me, and it does a bit. I put power out on the less technical. I think about the steep rock stairs, and how on one my front tire bit sideways for a second, but I got it straight. Or the corners with the wet roots. A quarter second wrong could fling me off and make me wear a sling again.

I get to the finish flat bit, spin it out, and shoulder check. Nobody there, so roll in mostly calm. Like 1 minute more than last year... results will have the exact. A client of mine met me at the finish for a nice chat, that was fun. Get showered up and can't wait to see Cindy.

On the table I feel a million years older than the morning. Everything hurts. I haven't been able to mountain bike, so all the little muscles have softened up and got pulverized. Even though I've ridden the Flash lots, I only noticed today the shifters are too close to my grips so my base of thumb knuckles have the skin scraped off; just felt that in the shower. Back seized up and I couldn't put on my shoes or socks, yikes. My memory stirs up that tomorrow's stage is like riding a jackhammer for 4 hours.

It's reverse Bakke: make up spots on hills, lose on downhill. Its shorter days, but also a reminder that pure technical single track racing isn't easy to do, and is a full body workout.

The Waverly Pub has a curry bowl with my name on it. With extra hot sauce. And brown malt vinegar.

I moved my shifter levers. I bought new, beefier tires, maybe even a bit too beefy. But I crave more control, more air mass in rear, and UST side walls with some strength to lower my pressure. I hope it slows me down just a touch on the climbs, but speeds me up a bunch on the rest. We'll see. Tomorrow starts fast on gravel so I'll likely power out there when the fast crew ramps it up.

I checked Furious3 results and see the gang riding well. Congrats Shawn on a W! Congrats Kate on a W!

And Happy Birthday tomorrow Jon Nutbrown!