Thursday, 30 August 2012

Deadgoat cyclocross practice

There's nothing hard about riding a bike across a grassy park, especially on with relatively short grass on relatively parched hardpack dirt. That is of course until you get 10 buddies out, and try to ride across it as fast as humanly possible. Couple lap games later and we're full of lactic acid, can hardly breathe... now that's 'cross practice.

Did a lot of barrier work... and what turned out to be my surprise favourite - roll down the hill with no brakes and corner as hard as you can before your tires slide out. Just gotta try to remember that sticking point when I'm going for the inside line ; ) Got some decent two wheel drifts going...

Thanks Bunnin for wetting my whistle after with a cleansing ale.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ibis Tranny departure

Well, the Ibis Tranny proved itself to be an absolutely beautiful travel bike. The frame construction impresses me to this day. As built/shown it's 22.3lbs, without a weight weenie saddle (Toupe), post (Thomson), wheels (XTR) or tires (Ralph 2.25" full UST). It's rigid, I like the geometry, and I quite like the aesthetic of their carbon weave. Yet, it's not likely that it was going to find its way into more regular rotation in the near future.

I hadn't intended to part with it... but a colleague inquired. One who valued a 26er still, one who liked the build, understood what the Tranny had to offer, understood (and already owned) a travel bike that also had its own way of packing up. I've gotten so used to the 29ers and the Flash in particular that I much, much prefer riding that sized wheel offroad. As they say, hit the bid when it presents itself.

It'll be happy in its new home, and so will its new owner. My garage is slowly gaining space. Miscellaneous parts are finding new homes via ebay too. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Banff Gran Fondo

We woke up at 5 for a pre-fondo snack, then tried to sleep in for a while.  Cindy sleep talked and asked if I had what I needed to fix my flat.  I was hoping that wasn't an omen for the day.

Nice but cool morning, few speeches off the start.  988 riders got times at the end, they referenced more than that starting, but I forgot the number they said.

Felt ok off the start, was in first 10 on the climbs through town and Tunnel Mountain.  Got out to Minnewanka and I felt a bit surprised that first climb cracked me off the lead group, so I think it had 8 (I would have been 9).  Sort of dawned on me that I have 25h of aerobic from last week but not hard intervals, along with our surprisingly over meaty dinner last night at Bison in Banff.  Adios Shawn, Jared, et al.

I sit up for next group feeling not so happy about that turn of events and we do the shortened course with 2 Minnewanka laps (bears by Louise on 1a).  The two lane system was good for the Minnewanka circuit.  I feel fine out 1A to Castle Junction.  Tom Brodzinski was hammering away impressively.  I ate and chilled as I didn't see any reason that the group was going to change for remainder of ride.

At turnaround at Castle, I measured about 3 mins ahead for lead group.  Some guy in our group really was into commanding a paceline to "catch them".  I didn't want to be a downer, but guy next to me laughed, and I said if we were meant to be in the lead group, we'd all have demonstrated superior power output by now.  We caught one who fell off lead group.

Last few hills didn't separate the 2nd group, we came in off highway together.  In retrospect I felt fine and wish I would have gone to front especially for the cattle guard coming off the highway onto Mt. Norquay road - I was behind 6, who fanned out and rode across the wood they had down on the cattle guards... so easily could have just gone up and cooked it for the last kilometre and left it to fate on who would come around at the end, since the guard made a bit of a bottleneck.  But then the last bit was so narrow we just rode in our spot without passing.  I didn't though... I braked to accommodate at the cattle guard, which dropped back a bit right away.  One guy went up outside to try to pass, and hit a cone, and swerved in front of a truck that was going our direction.  That all seemed really demonstrative of how unnecessary a high stakes finish was for a fondo, so we rode pretty normal last two corners and I rode in just behind Tom.  Anticlimactic, but fun overall.  

Nice ending "scene" with food and such, although I went to shower right away (town power was out which made that interesting at our hotel).  Came back to see Cindy cross, she rode hard, but stopped to warm up her fingers and eat at one point, then also for someone to give her gloves.  Would have been better to ride with windbreaker in retrospect.  

Results are here.  (note they appear fixed now). They make sense in the grand scheme, like who was in the fast groups or not.  They don't super make sense though, as right now it's showing Shawn in 6th instead of the big W, even though his time is the lowest.  Jared stayed right in there too which was awesome... (side note - with that much power, let's work on Jared's appetite for off road riding before next TR!) Anyway, so something's not quite right. If I just click the time column, click next page past all the zero's who presumably just didn't show up, it starts on page 22 with Shawn at lowest non-zero time, and I'm 18th by counting down the column not their place label, which makes in intuitive sense as Tom Brodzinski is right ahead of me, which is actually what happened, and given there were 7 in the lead, and a handful ahead of me as we crossed, that all checks out.  Cindy was at about the half way mark overall, no lung issues, just chilly at times.  She was happy after.  I think they quoted lead "groups" in general being about 39km/h average... I don't have exact distance but the winners were 2:40, we were 3 mins back, and I heard someone saying 104km on the reroute course.

It's funny... I hadn't pushed that hard all week down in Breck.  My legs are sore from  - it's different riding adequate atmospheric pressure tempo vs. being air limited.  

Although environmental "discussion" made the media pre race, it turned out not to be an issue.  We did avoid part of 1A by Louise as there's bears in area.  Sort of funny as yesterday as we drove in on Tunnel Mountain Road there were people getting out of cars to take a picture of a giant Elk, which doesn't seem like a good idea at all to me.  Environmental groups ahead wanted an environmental impact study done (people stay in Banff hotels and drive cars on both highways all the time would be my quick one) but maybe that's just the way the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society or their spokesperson in this article use political codeword to ask "please provide us more funding us to observe the animals in Banff Park".  Who knows.  Either way, event went off fine from my perspective.

Friday, 24 August 2012

One Wheel Fun

I try to improve, but only get to it a couple times a year.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Breck Epic comparisons to other stage races

I’ve gathered a few thoughts on this race vs. others.  It seems to be a question a lot of people ask.  I mean to illustrate differences, not to promote or condemn other races.  If your question is “which race should I do” my answer has always been “all of them” – every one builds fitness, and adds people, experiences, countries and scenery to your memory banks!

Convenience: Excellent.
Breck is tops.  The other races travel.  Various amounts of that travel burden finds its way to the rider.  TransPortugal includes no travel outside your daily ride (you ride from hotel to hotel) and your gear is transported.  TransAndes and TR are near that in convenience.  BC Bike Race is the other spectrum, where you’re put nearest to bike specific trails via other methods of transportation, solely to enjoy the singletrack.  Breck commutes to start line from our house on High Street was either 2 minutes on singletrack, 20 seconds around the corner and down the street, or 3 minutes to the ski hill start stage.  Stayed in town, didn’t move, town has all the conveniences of a great tourist town.  Great event for bike riders with families as the combination of road trip plus Breckenridge and surrounding amenities and sights are terrific.

Trails: Good for mostly not being mountain bike specific.
Breck trails are scenic, epic, access remote back country.  Not many of them are purpose built cycling trails.  A western Canadian rider might find that different.  They’re wide, made for vehicular or other access.  They’re fast, with big rocks.  Not many are difficult technically.  The race emphasizes fitness (aka breathing at altitude) and scenery in my view over particularly demanding mountain biking skill set.  This shouldn’t detract – there are portions of single track glory.  I’m sure the steeps, rocks and roots would be challenging for the average Floridian.  BCBR is nearly all purpose built bike trails.  TransRockies is getting very close to that.  Breck is more raw… yet as it’s not a “transportation” race, it has more technical than say a TransPortugal.  I might even call this “North America’s luxury La Ruta”.  Climbs for the most part are gradual, unlike La Ruta or first few days of TransAndes which are steep enough to leave my back sore for a few days after.

Fitness: Bring it, you’ll need it
Breck requires a higher level, or different, or at least difficult to attain level of fitness.  Days for fit racers (ok, I’m putting myself in there, so beware of massive hypocrisy) average 4x4 hours then two shorter.  Shawn and Thomas rode more consistent, I blew day 2 with the tire and attempt at good deeds in the rain.  That’s not a long race (mean time on bicycle at TransAndes, TransPortugal, and old TransRockies were all higher), yet it’s longer than BCBR in terms of mean riding time per day.  Having said that, it’s more draining than time on bike or distance would indicate… and it’s the elevation.  Everyone will struggle with the elevation, regardless of preparation or where you live.  I say that as mountain biking is an oxygen uptake and processing limited sport.  But what does that struggle feel like?  For same perceived effort, you go slower.  On day one “neutral” leadout, the pack thins out before the first singletrack, and you’re in “your” spot.  15-20 people can stay in lead group each day beyond the first 10 minutes – each day starts with climbing.  On a steep climb you could do at home, you might need to grab a tree and breathe for 5 seconds, even in granny ring.  Or you might find yourself pushing on a very gentle grade, yet not be able to ride it any faster.  So it’s a bit invisible really.  Legs for me weren’t as sore as I couldn’t gather enough air to drive them hard.  You recover slower… it’s noticeable.  I felt much more tired than 4 hour gradual climbing days would imply.   On the bright side, altitude response comes in a few days, and everything is still do-able before hand… it’s not like you get there and can’t function.

Attitude: 5 stars
The Breck Epic is biking positive, sportsmanship positive, competitive in the right ways, riding against  yourself and nature and the little duo of tired devil and chickening out devil on your shoulder that hold you back which are tougher and more relevant competitors than a guy next to you.  This stood out in my mind.  Kudos to Mike for setting the tone.  More sport in general, more adult sport, should be this way.  Help each other, compete well.  Be embarrassed if you think of cutting corners, cutting off other riders, or just generally being a tool.  The mountains here are more competition than your bretheren, and after day one that becomes pretty apparent to participants, so I think most cool their jets on the head to head thing.  Also, ratio of the uphill challenge to the downhill lack of selectivity means riders tend to stay in their spots more than changing via up/down competence ratio.  I’ve stayed away from the size and scale of TransAlp, Cape Epic based on my perception from other riders’ reports of this concept.  BC Bike Race has the challenge present too… a highly competitive amongst each other field that jockeys based on climbing/descending prowess, sometimes to fault even beyond 100th spot, when it could be just about enjoying trails together and yielding where it makes sense.  Breck is also community and charity positive, with dollars going to causes.  Ancillary to race items, souvenirs, support, etc. is priced inline with “helping you complete the event happily” not “we have you away from all other services and are going to gouge you”… which does occur at some events…

I see this as a 29er hardtail race.  The sections where I felt I wanted suspension were measured in meters at a time, totalling an inconsequential amount for the whole event.  Bring puncture/tear resistant tires. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Choco Taco

Things I didn't know I needed until I became aware of their existence: the Choco Taco.

Economy in action

What looks like a bald ass piece of land has 3 combines, couple grain carrier trucks, and like 15 stripper well pumpjacks all going... that's actually pretty awesome.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Driving across Montana in a day sort of makes me want a truck and a dog, a slow pace, and maybe some Johnny Cash.

Or maybe it makes me want an American car with two wheel drive. I've learned the difficulties of replacing tires on AWD vehicles today as differing diameters cause the system to perpetually adjust, then prematurely implode. Makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that the spare isn't a full spare, and on top it isn't even close to the regular one, it's several inches smaller in circumference... meaning it can't be driven long distances on. What this means is there is exactly, and only, one tire size I can replace with. And it's a large yet low profile one, so it's uncommon. If it was 2WD I could replace two on a given axle and have been on the way home.

Let's hope tomorrow works out with more tire shops open. Too bad the current set didn't have more miles on them so I could just replace them all.

Colorado and Wyoming

We had lunch in Boulder, and observed the plethora of bike route signs, bike riders, and bike shops. School also starts soon so we got to see university kids moving in, not many cares in their world it seems. Got coffee and people watched, plus cruised through campus. Hackey sack is alive and well, as is hipster clothes, funny hair, and personal style that students who are unaccountable to the workforce can pull off. Fun is in the air.

Later we contrasted this with the vast open country of Wyoming. Trucks. Stickers like "heavily armed right wing extremist" on the back of big trucks. Stopped for gas and a shake at Bullfrogs Shake Shack in Glendo - interesting spot. Good bumper sticker was "I miss my ex still but my aim is getting better". Dinner in Casper was at DQ. Lots of families, but they were bigger than they should be, and clothes were all function no style... Halliburton t-shirts, cowboy hats, Wranglers. We played the odds with deer and antelope as there were like 20 of them in the last hour eating grass on the side of the road.

Great sleep in Sheridan - sober and "only" 5,000 feet of elevation. We didn't get to see it last night, but the bear came to our place in Breck again... we heard it and saw the garbage wrecked in the morning.

Breck Belt Buckle

Look at those belt buckle models... Beauty buckle, tough to earn.

Mt. Evans

We got up to the thin air on Saturday. Big drive, everyone was impressed with the mountain and what it does to your breathing. After that we sat on the highway by Denver for a while as there was some crash.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Night life in Breck

Getting later and cheaper.

Mexican food

I've never cracked Bunnin on a hill, but an all you can eat Mexican buffet is a different ball game.

Breck Epic Day 6

A final early wake up... honestly they hurt a bit but I'll sure miss them. I really like how a stage race transports you to another place more completely than just being in a different town. Shawn and I laughed a lot last night and this morning courtesy of youtube. Good times.

Longer paved climb leadout, and I didn't feel like I was taxed. Single speed leader knew where we were turning left and sprinted to get into single track first. Huge bottleneck, Shawn cut left through the trees and I followed. Made for a great start - kept him in sight for another 10 mins before blowing. Fun switchback climb, descent, then on the road to the pass. I rode the road with single speed Mike who's got an impressive engine. Crested, skipped aid, then down onto the fun trail. Was having a blast, then flatted. Thomas was first to pass. My CO2 thinger wasn't working well, probably clogged with mud from the rain day. Bummed another eventually and kept going, but the thrill of progressing with my best day was lost.

Got back on, and hammered the headwind road climb solo which was tough. Took it easy on next descent as every rock now looked suspiciously sharp. Just cruised in. Thomas and Shawn had good times and were all smiles at the end.

Cindy came in all smiles too. I missed photos earlier in the week as the bberry camera is slower than her blazing by, but managed to get one today finally. Everyone says she's very friendly and nice to ride with, and a strong climber and descender.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Wheeler Pass

12,500 feet of smiles.

Breck Epic Day 5

This lady was crushed at the finish.

It's getting tougher to wake everyone up each morning. We're not that exciting of a bunch.

Start today was at the ski area - naturally ski area starts mean not much lead in before climbing. I rode just out of the start to see the trail go over a skinny bridge right away. Bottleneck.

We started in waves, with open men going first. I soft pedalled as I didn't care about making any attempt to hole shot the bridge given my place, Thomas did the same. Despite our soft pedal, couple were behind us. Long climb, started through east coast or top of Jumpingpound style rough rocks. I felt ok and slowly started moving up. Thomas wasn't feeling as good and slowed up in the rocks. Passed aid 1 only being passed by a couple singlespeeders who started either one or two minutes back - guy winning passed Shawn by aid 2 too... these guys can really put down the power. Started up the big climb, yelled up a switchback to Shawn. It was not too bad a grade, but not enough air for me to climb. I did a few short bits, Shawn did too. Felt like we climbed forever up to Wheeler pass, not sure how many minutes the hike was, but it wasn't short. In the saddle before the next pass I couldn't steer well, thought something was going on with my front end (talked to others post race and realized it's a combo of light headedness at altitude and how you push your bike for so long so your arms end up getting used to being in asymmetric position).

Fun trail across the saddle. Steep climb up next saddle, some rideable again. I crested on bike after riding the last few switchbacks, and was presented a piece of bacon for the descent. Yeah!

Long descent. I'd been climbing back and forth all morning with the Cannondale guy, then caught him on the descent. Went ahead, but not by a lot. We rode the bike path together and struggled to catch the single speeders, especially Mike who passed me on the first hike.

Got one bottle at aid 3, then my riding partner took off. I tried to keep pace alone in the woods - very nice trails... some I remember riding with Tori 6 or so years ago. Heard some noise behind me and it was singlespeed Mike again. Tried to hold his pace when he passed but he just crushed me in a couple minutes... and I was having a good day and felt full of power on the flat-ish rolly technical stuff at the end.

Finished in what I think was 2:49, Thomas was in 10 mins later. Nice finish up on ski hill, but a net up day as we didn't get to finish at elevation we started at. I don't know or care really how that stacks up, but today like two days ago is about as good as I can ride. Every time I'd get out of breath hiking or climbing, I'd count a couple seconds, say screw it, and bounce off the upper end of my rev limiter again. Energy just flowed. It's so much fun feeling that way.

Cindy came in happy and fast - I waited in the forest to take a blackberry pic but it spent so long trying to focus I failed. She liked today's stage, also took some bacon at the top, rode the whole descent. Was very happy overall, especially with a shorter stage.

My hypothesis is that there's a direct correlation between burrito consumption and riding performance for me - felt strong all day. Rolled home down ski hill road, had bike cleaned and lubed before noon!

Cindy and I went 2 blocks to the Amazing Grace cafe for lunch, very nice.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Breck Epic Day 4

We had a bear visit our garbage last night, but nobody other than the neighbour saw it. Said it's 700lbs and golden yellow if we see it around. I hope I don't.

Snoop was famous for saying he smoked a pound of bud every day. I'm trying to be famous for eating a pound of burrito every day. The one day I didn't, well, didn't turn out so well.

I felt ok but a bit tired in the legs off the start. Kept Thomas anywhere from side by side to 30 second gap until almost aid 2 - he flatted a mile or two before getting there. Lots of the trail was what I back tracked on on day 2 - very nice riding. I rode all of Vomit Hill (but didn't take a free donut at the top). Descents are fun today - I'm back to double tubeless with a Nobby Nic 2.25 on the front - my new hobby is getting it on the side lugs and just letting it bite corners. This will be fun as long as I don't over do it.

Aid 2 was slow for me. Took off my undershirt, then when I went to put gloves back on somehow rocks got into the fingers.

Long gentle grade road climb after to Keystone ski area. I felt weak, but usually love that stuff. Crossed a creek then up switchbacks. I was doing awful but kept rolling. I was ok with legs being tired today, but the surprise was that my stomach just stopped mid day - I think the first few hours I just burned off the energy in my muscles, then wasn't digesting to add more. I just ground it out on the hill at fat burning pace and tried to keep rolling. Even after a relief stop I didn't feel good for another hour.

Kept plugging away until I came toi the road leading to aid 3. Some people were goofing off on rental quads on the road, and a lady panicked and put the brakes on right in front of me. Oh well. Rolled into aid 3, had a bottle fill, and Tracie said there was a climb. Yes there was... steep. I rode it all, just had to grab a few trees for some breaks on the way up.

Ended up catching Tim and Mike at the rolling stuff on top, they passed when I was having a break on the prior climb. Basically rode into finish with them.

Shawn, Thomas and I got down to cleaning business quick. I dropped off my clean bike for new cables and housings to save some work while the guys were going to an automotive shop for tire patches. We went for amazing burritos, it's hard to describe how happy these made me. Got one to go for Cindy, then I drove to finish and got there just 5 mins before she rolled in. She's really tired, but rode the sketchy descent at the start today when lots of others walked. Said she had power until close to aid 3, then had to face the last climb. She said she had 3 double caffeine gels at aid 3. By this time in a race they don't perk you up, they just keep you out of cardiac arrest in a ditch.

Side note - Chris and Jared you'd love this. Fitness emphasis over ultra technical. Plus Breckenridge is beauty, cute, lots for families to do each day. Everything is close.

Dinner was delicious fajitas. Wow. Cindy got a massage that transformed her from shattered to alive again. And on the way home Thomas spotted the fox!

Breck Epic Day 4 pre race

Cindy's brake pads.

Ok, so one mathematical correction... we got yesterday's elevation gain and distance right, but overshot Thomas' weight by 10lbs... not in my favour! I think I might need to fill his frame with Jello.

I pushed hard enough yesterday to make my legs sore - first time this week.

We've decided that 10 minutes into each day the peloton is sorted in the same order as finish, by a combination of oxygen uptake ability, power, and weight. So why aren't we looping back to the coffee shop at that point?

On that note, Shawn and I observed that our separation in time today is almost exactly the same as day 1, adjusting for his flats... like to the minute. Seems like we're all locked into a pre-determined oxygen uptake and delivery parade.

After some interesting gluing events last night with Thomas saddle, we've decided that he's winning the Belgian Crane Driver category at Breck. I'm winning the Canadian investment banker category, and Shawn says he has the performance to hair follicle ratio beat.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Breck Epic Day 3

Today was the Queen stage with 9,400' of climbing and again something like 60 kilometers.

Sunny this morning! Everyone was happy about that. Really happy. Especially the girl who got proposed to at the start line!

Here's the short version: pinned it and put power down without fail for 4h in the sun, with Thomas, over some huge mountain passes, and that's just awesome. Everything that is right about mountain biking was today.

We started out on a road then dirt road climb behind the police car. I lined up a bit back, then the last mile of incline before we turned into trail passed a dozen or so who wanted to be up front and got dropped by the neutral pace... more relaxing that way then trying to hold elbows out in the bunch.

We wound our way up the day's first climb, including Heinous Hill again. I just trundled along and somehow that means passing people that went out hard, are at their limit, then slip out on the gravel climb. By the top saw Thomas, so gave him a boost over the top to say hi for a little surprise. That was my marker that after yesterday's "day off" I felt good.

So here's where my dumb idea of the day kicks in. Why don't I ride all day with my 150lb powerful Belgian friend on a day with that much climbing? That sounds smart.

We did a big fast traverse that we did other direction day 1, then down some rubble. Aid 1 came fast, then started climbing our first ascent of French pass I think. I enjoyed this. Gentle grades and all was rideable save maybe 25m of rubble and 100m on steep grass. Awesome view. Guys at the top handing out skittles. I started down and Thomas caught me.

Got to aid 2, then basically turned back up a road that I think got to the same mountain pass, or ridge, just in a different section. Long climb rewarded by long side traverse then gnarly descent full of rocks. Like riding Jewel Pass descent except rockier and 10 times as long.

Coasted down a road finally, crossed a skinny (a bridge out with one log across) then into aid 3.

Thomas and I had been riding together for hours, then on the last climb which was steep, he had extra jets. I hung on, barely, and sort of questioned why I was pushing so hard. But I wanted to stay with him. Crested, then big descent, then rolling trails around the mountain to get to finish. We saw some riders ahead and closed the gap. When we did, the pace picked up. I held on until a mile left and cracked. Finished a minute behind him. Thomas and I were probably 4 and 5 minutes over the 4 hours mark, respectively, by my Timex estimate. Shawn was about 3:45. No flats, awesome day had by all.
I'm crushed. Back up to the finish line to try to catch Cindy coming in, it's 2h past finish, and I feel vegetative and emotional - aka still shattered.

Cindy was about 6:20. All smiles. Lots of stories of riding with other riders. After the French pass climb, there was a section of descent marked by double down arrows, I rode it while a guy in front of me walked it. Cindy rode it too, said she didn't know what the arrows meant other than "go this way". Proud she rode most of the rock garden descent after the second pass. Thought today was just beautiful and really enjoyed the nice weather.

Our bikes are going into a local shop for some TLC tonight (the mud was hard on them yesterday) when we could be doing better things than bike maintenance like eating, and sitting around doing nothing. I'm eating Thomas' ham and cheese sandwiches cause that must be his secret.

Breck Epic Day 3 pre race

Well, as Cindy has observed, they didn't name the race the Breck Easy. Her other excellent quotable from last night: I've never been so tired. No kidding.

Nothing is hard per se. The climbs haven't been excessively steep. They're not super technical. Heinous Hill was rideable and fine - it's just hard to race up at altitude. It's more the quantity and elevation that make it hard. Let's hope weather was a one day event ; )

Tomorrow layers on the 12,000+ foot range, plus a couple more miles, plus another 2,000' vertical over today. Ouch.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Breck Epic Day 2

Ok... Interesting. Today I was a quarter bike racer, a quarter benefactor of kindness, a quarter trail helper, and a quarter boyfriend.

Today was massively difficult - not terrain or course - but constant rain all day above 10,000 feet. Anyone who finished today put in some due effort toward the belt buckle... seriously hard out there. When Shawn and Thomas drove to finish to see us, car said 8C. That temp, wet, at elevation...

So, police car was late, so start was delayed 10 mins (right when it started raining). Cool thing was a fox ran right by the start - they're so elegant.

Long climb, I felt fine. Thomas was in sight at top. Rode all of heinous hill. It's fine, just tough with air... but not steep nor too technical. All the terrain here so far is pretty easy.

Big descent - rode behind some guy that had a baller full suspension Specialized single speeded with a singleator. Flatted. No notable impact, just felt rear mushy. Put on jacket first as I was chilled on long descent. Saw pinprick in tread with stans coming out. Let it seal and aired up. Started rolling.

Flat 2 - was soft not far after. Checked pin prick, but also saw a rip. So either both were there at flat one (don't think so as once pinprick sealed I didn't hear leaking). Rip was small, in tread. But rips don't seal well as the tire changes shape every rotation. Put in tire, aired up. Tube had a hole. Shoot. Now I'm down a CO2 and half a big air and my one tube. Raining too much to get a tire patch on. Bum a tube from rider 309 - thanks! 26er tube to stretch on. But... valve too short for my deep rim. But Tim and Mike (and a zillion others) had ridden by, and Tim told Steve (Julie's non-racing husband due to the retina detachment) to come back - Steve is trail ambassador by day now - easier riding. Steve has a 26er tube with a long stem, and some more CO2. Get rolling. That was a lot of stopping and fiddling. By now I'm shivering and hands don't work well.

Superthanks 1 and 2 - Tim for notification and Steve for help. Thanks so much. Thanks rider 309 for 26er tube and 349 for a CO2.

Cindy passes and I ride with her to aid 1. She's riding slow, not like she can ride - needed more hits from her inhaler.

Aid 1 we add layers, Tracie helped put stuff on for us with hands not working for me. Finds gear for us. Helps before we know we need help. I start rolling out with Cindy. Flat again. She heads out and I go back to Shimano help guy and he does up a tire for me really well. I depart, and am within the last 6 riders through aid 1. So the change from top of first climb to aid 1 is "magnificent". Usually I don't loose that much on the downs ; )

Superthanks 3 and 4 - Shimano neutral guy standing in the rain fixing anything and everything. Thanks Tracie for warmup jacket, pocket help, helping Cindy put on her shirt, and for the hugs. Worth a million bucks. Link for Tracie and Meegan's updates:

Started hammering up the big climb to try to catch Cindy. Did near the top. Got going pretty quick on the downhill. Had fun. But it wasn't me throwing lightening bolts and thunder today, it was Thor (there was no thunder and lightening factually, just rain).

Passed a lot of people on the next climb, rough descent, next set of switchbacks, and rolly flats to aid 2. Felt good. Got to aid 2 and witnessed a lady pretty hypothermic and messed up. She had long jerseys on, but no wind layer or rain layer. They were calling that you could bus back from aid 2 or shortcut back with no DNF, but perhaps a nominal time penalty. They were helpful there, and people were looking rough. I had no reason to care about time really, and it was tough out - I was frozen, yet reasonably well dressed and usually don't mind cold riding - so I felt motivated to go back on course to at least make sure Cindy was fine. I packed our two icebreaker shirts and a jacket and a handfull of gels and headed back. Told people along the way the time to next aid. It's rough in that part of the field. Gave out gels. One lady warned me of a hypothermic guy whom someone was feeding cause he couldn't do his hands. I started giving him a jacket, but when I said it was 5 minutes to aid, he continued on (when I returned to aid 2, he was in car, stripped down, being rushed back to town). Kept going back giving encouragement. Saw Cindy, turns out she was totally fine for most part. Shower cap really helped. Returned to aid 2, about a 45 minute round trip backtrack.

Cindy wanted to ride to finish rather than bail. We did. Made friends with another Calgary woman. Cindy and I rode in together. She had to have a couple more inhaler puffs at the end that got her engine going better. 6.5 hours roughly.

Superthanks 5 and 6 - Cindy thanks for being such a trooper - that's a hardcore ride. Shawn and Thomas - for coming to the finish, caring, and helping peel our wet clothes off when our hands wouldn't move.

Washed bikes, had a hot bath, feet and hands painful for 10 minutes.

That's a tough day. That goon in the picture is shivering. Cindy was already in the tub.

Breck Epic Day 2 pre race

Debate at dinner last night took town hall forum... apparently a van parked in front of a sign so made some people miss a turn. Riders went wrong by a variety of distances, yet some managed to still go correct. Some were rude to volunteers in the midst of being in their daily pickle. At the end, no time adjustments made, but strong suggestion to be nice.

Other thing is there's prizing for 30 year olds (not the usual open then a 40 category). I'm not used to seeing this. I did see the category on signup and ignored it. This sport is built on a lot of early to mid thirties guys winning the Tour de France and other top echelons of the sport. It doesn't make sense to me to break that age group out beyond open, but oh well. Turns out I rode a bunch with some of the guys.

We went through some tributes to their mountain bike little league which started with 50 kids, then grew to 100, then 200, etc. and is designed to have them have fun, race a little bit, do trail work as long as a young kid's attention span holds, help each other and be good people. Sounds excellent. Couple of the kids didn't make it past youth, ones whom they thought they were coaching but in the end they learned more from them about a positive and vibrant desire to live life. We have their initials on our jerseys to take them on the trails.

Other interesting thing is you get time penalties if you don't show up for podium. Not sure if they're serious, but idea its respect to race, organizers, your sponsers on your jerseys, your competition, etc. They're prompt, before dinner, and I think that's fair.

The course description included sections which Mike described will make you feel god like, big ringing downhill, throwing thunder bolts like Thor. Let's hope.

I've been working on cycling leg strength for last couple weeks under the premise that if I can't breathe well, I'll end up doing a bunch of 50rpm climbs just to pace out efforts. So my logic was I didn't want those 50rpm to also be in minimal gears. It seemed to work a bit.

We do a bunch of climbs up to 11,000 feet again but not much over. Another 40 mile day, but instead of yesterday's 5,400' of climbing we do about 7,300. More is better right? I felt weak at 11,000+ yesterday - it's doable I just go slow. Tomorrow has the scale adjusted on the profile so instead of 11,000 being near the top of the graph it's like 2/3 up and we get our first foray into the 12,000+ range.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Good god you Brits!

Seeing a few days of the olympics on US coverage was interesting - there's definitely a few events that favour the national appetite. It's always exciting to see the very basic true sports on the world stage every few years.

I'll also say the opening and closing ceremonies were great entertainment. The Brits have a lot of contribution to rock n' roll, pop, comedy, fashion... Wow!

Brought back memories of the best university course of my life - rock and roll music history. If the ceremonies at the olympics are going to be fluff, they might as well be fluff I can dig. Rock and roll is lifeblood.

Could there be a better closing ceremony song than Imagine?

Being surrounded by friends, mountain biking, Mexican food, and rock and roll is my happy place.

Breck Epic Day 1

Woke up to frost on Thomas' car, and unfortunately for his euro breakfast routine, he didn't find any fresh bread bakeries.

We had a good breakfast then went back to bed... then up to start area to drop off our aid station bags. Cindy and I shared them and planned together for what to have at aid 1 and 2. Mostly equipment, although some people doing food and such. Good plan, just seems odd to me for the distances to need it, makes you overpack a bit.

Nice singletrack for a few blocks to the start... and right past the finish which is two blocks from our house.

Did the big deadgoat team pic, then neutral roll out by the cops. Side note - you're in a cool town when most of the cop cars/suvs I've seen have 2 bike racks on the back.

Neutral roll out up some big paved climb split us up right away. You can tell who has altitude lungs and who doesn't. I didn't push much, just rolled along and tried to be perceptive of how I felt. Felt fine all day really, it's just that you don't have air to drive your legs very hard so they feel under worked.

It was warm enough right off the start, but never got hot. Perfect temps, sunny all day. After first climb and some single track, I couldn't see Shawn or Thomas anymore, but each climb would pull back one rider. Slowly. Didn't want to burn out too soon. Whole course was rideable, both up and down. People walked some parts that were loose pool ball sized rubble; I couldn't tell if that was judgement call on saving energy for them or just they can't/don't like riding that. For me it's easier to stay on than walk.

Did a bunch of traverse singletrack that's like riding a ribbon, probably most of the trail is 8" wide when it's like that. Saw Shawn at side of trail with a flat. At aid 1 also heard Tim and Mike Piker entering as I was just climbing the hill out.

Somehow I got confused on aid 2/3, which was one stop. We looped back to it. Anyway, I dried out between aid 2/3, then got weak for a while and like 8 people went by on the French Gulch dirt road climb. Funny - passing at altitude is a pretty slow process. It's like watching turtles race. Anyway got some fluid at aid 3, which was only 6.5 miles before end, with say 2 of climb and rest downhill on what we warmed up on yesterday. Tim and Mike were right behind on the final hill/finish.

Felt decent at finish. Ended up probably about 5 mins under 4h. Shawn was 3:45 (with a second flat). Thomas came in 5 mins after me after fixing his flat. For all of us, I think we were pretty irrelevant in placings.

I went back at coincidentally exactly the right time to see Cindy roll in. All smiles, her face was so fresh I couldn't tell if she rode 5 mins to the coffee shop and back! Had one slight spill early in the day. Found the terrain manageable and fun. Rode with Linda and Carthy to aid 1, then solo after that. Dropped a potato at one point, and got sad. It was so cute and now it's just lying out there all by itself... wait a second, that was the realization that it was time for a snack break when you feel that emotional. Smart. Bike worked fine - she's glad she had the snakeskin tires given all the flats she rode past. Then power napping - very good power napper skills she has. I think her time was 5.5h hours.

All in a really nice day of riding. Sunny. Warm not hot. People seem to know that the altitude and distance will determine outcome, so nobody has issues either up or down yielding trail. Overall I'd say it was a 99% fitness course, there wasn't anything really to differentiate mountain biking skills. Didn't redline, just sort of rode and paced to see how it would go... didn't want to go hard and dig a deep hole for the week.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Breck Epic Day 0

We arrived in town before noon and found Thomas instantly. So fun to see a friend whom I haven't seen in a while. Unpacked and are pleased with the house. Cute street, cute house, very quiet, nice place. Heated floors, hot tub, we're all happy. Had a great lunch a couple blocks away on main street.

Registered for race, got suitable amounts of quality swag. Happy. Saw Tracy and Tim. All smiles.

Rode some hills behind the house which apparently we finish on one day. Beauty. New XTR brakes are like twice the power using one finger modulation as the SRAM XX ones... longer brake discussion can be had later.

Great pre ride. Felt fine at altitude. Maybe not as fast, but not disabled. Legs felt fine despite car trip. Everyone's happy as can be.

Race intro meeting was great. Focus on fun, being nice to each other, and riding. Over rules and self importance. Excellent. Best race meeting I've ever been to. Others would do well to follow suit. Shawn went to Shimano truck to check on his pedal that was getting some play in the bearings. The guy checked the serial number that indicated the production run of that set, then gave him new ones. He was happy... not sure what that implies about that production run.

Off to Mexican dinner. Such a happy guy running the place. Great food cheap; we were there for happy hour which meant tacos were on special. Great music. Decor was mostly ski/snowboard/bike/skate stickers and Mexican decorations. Something about basement level Mexican restaurants in ski towns is supremely theraputic. Heavenly.

Between Mexican dinner, Cindy is pumped to be riding, great atmosphere, happy people everywhere in town, awesome new brakes, great road trip down, and a week of great Breckenridge ahead, I just can't imagine things being much better.

Hi Craig!

Craig Colorado. Off to Steamboat for coffee and to see Orange Peel/Moots/Kent Eriksen places.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Great Basin

Mega headwind and nothing else.

Old Faithful

America has amazing sights to behold like Old Faithful... and amazing sized parking lots to go with it. Old Faithful is over yonder.

Children's literature

Best kids book I've ever seen, up there with Where the Wild Things Are.


It's officially vacation when a waffle maker is happening (bottom left)... we're at some Hilton in Bozeman, a block from another Hilton. Too bad we unpacked at the first one in the rain before front desk told us our reservation was at the other. Nice drive yesterday, including stops at Baja Fresh, and a realization that Dairy Queen sizes are bigger down here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Breck Epic boot camp

After the TransRockies afterparty fun and bike race catch up, it was re-prioritizing to Breck "boot camp" for Cindy and I.

Saturday we did three hours of mostly technical skills at the Canmore Nordic Center instead of pushing fitness after a week of TR work for Catalyst.  Bursts of glee were heard as Cindy successfully rode the Devonian drop early on.  We played in the skills park.  We rode EKG and then the Coal Chutes - mostly.  Those tricky loose switchbacks took a little bit of sessioning, and sometimes those trees just "jump right out in the middle of the trail".  All in it was good seasoning.

Sunday we rode with my co-worker from his place in Three Sisters - up the Spray Lakes road, down Goat Creek, and back on Rundle Riverside after a very elegant stop at the Banff Springs.  In retrospect the better way to do this is out Rundle Riverside, stop at the 'springs for some decadence, up Goat Creek, then down just a bit of the Spray Lakes gravel road and drop into Riders of Rohan and hook up to Highline until dropping down to his neighbourhood.  I forgot how nice Rundle Riverside is.  "Flat" or gentle grades, but with roots and rocks to slow you down, or to float across at XC speed.  Goat Creek is a highway, the gravel path was nicer than some parts of the potholed Banff Springs golf course road.  It draws a different audience - the flat pedalled, no helmet, tourist crowd mostly.

Monday we did part of the Sibbald gravel road, up Canyon Creek to Jumpingpound Ridge the way the Bow 80 used to go, then along that bumpy singletrack at the top.  Lots of great views - yes it's hard but it's one of the best tourism rides around in my view - you see 180 degrees of the front range completely uninterrupted and right up close, plus Calgary on the other side.  Lots of climbing, then of course the rugged Cox Hill descent which Cindy made it down in a blaze of glory.  I suspect Breck descents might be like that - high alpine views then rugged mountain trails rather than the BC sculpted for bike riders by bike riders sort of stuff.  I had fun trying to clean everything - and managed to do so up till the last 20m up to the peak of Cox Hill where it was all loose rubble (waiting for Cindy helped keep my legs fresh for bursts along the way - but fun none the less).

West view from the top of Cox Hill.

East view from the top of Cox Hill.

The chipmunk by my handlebar kept trying to lick my grips (sweat) and downtube (sports drink splatters) whenever I walked away to take pictures.  Sounds like a great way to acquire some obscure rodent borne disease.  They're cute and persistent.

That's a view!  We actually rode north on the ridge, but as I screwed up on the first click so this is Cindy looping back. 

All in it was about a 13h riding weekend, with some solid naps going on in the car on the way home.  That's all I can do for boot camp for next week, rest is to be determined in Colorado. 

Monday we did rooftop pizza order with Juan & Jennifer (Juan will be in Breck for first 3 days), Gerry, Steve, Trish and Pat.  Good way to cap off a weekend!