Monday, 24 September 2012

Weekend 'cross

Cindy gets my vote as happiest ‘cross racer on course.

I got recorded as DFL on results, which really means nothing in the grand scheme, but which doesn’t add to the fun at all.  It wasn’t fact either.  But it’s ABA policy that they don’t care about the order of lapped riders (except for the other 4, which are in correct order, simply singling out me to place at the rear).  I guess I should ride faster, not blow up my aerobic on that one corner I fell then did a run up, etc.  Just stinks when I was only off by like 10 seconds from a) not getting lapped, b) having a real result, and c) actually not DFL!

Regardless, the race promoters (Bicisport, Synergy for the day I wasn't there) did a great course, had great snacks after, and of course called in excellent weather for the weekend.  So good times had by all.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Bicisport Euro 'cross #1

Beautiful day out in September for cyclocross. Let's just say that it's not that often that its 28C and sunny in September for a race. You'd almost complain about overheating, but you can't, cause it's a blessing in disguise given how seldom 'cross occurs in that kind of weather. Speed always steps up for the ABA races.

We drove up to sign in, came home and sat on the roof for a bit, then warmed up by riding over. I felt tired riding there, Cindy said she felt good. There was about 20 women out, with Andrea Bunnin taking the hole shot then stretching it out for 45 minutes. Awesome! The Bunnin's are accretive to deadgoat podiums.

Cindy rode well, climbed the tough parts, and smiled lots. Said it was hard, hot and dusty. Slid out on an off camber corner and bent a derailleur hanger again... But no more serious damage.

I felt like I was getting dropped by Devin on our warmup. I didn't feel too hot off the start, first lap hurt lots. A little pacing and just counting down the climbs earned me "5th not last" is my guess. Having said that I finished about 10 seconds or so behind the winner (we'll skip the part that he did 9 laps and I did 8... shoot), was so close to holding onto the actual full laps, but oh well. I really popped after slipping an off camber corner, running up instead of riding, and being overcooked for like a quarter lap and really went backwards. But blessing in disguise not to have to go out for one more! Devin I think was in top 10, he was out of sight fairly quick, we only rode together first 10m when we were actually touching shoulders in the early commotion. I think I ate half a box of cut strawberries, probably a whole orange melon, and a 7up in about 10 minutes of lying in the shade after. Side note wore contacts again which was again excellent. Hmm... might have to do that more, and check on prescription update.

One of the redbike guys from Edmonton had an absolutely eye popping Moots Psychlo Cross RSL with a super nice build kit. Wow, it was beauty.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Silver Willow Shooting

A 20+ degree Friday evening in September seemed ideal to do some sporting clay shooting - Cindy's first, and hopefully my salvation outing.

Cindy warmed up to it well. Stu, who's competitive at the international level, was a great guide and coach. It makes a difference.

Last time out I was pitiful; three times prior were acceptable in the 60%+ range. Quick solution? Contact lenses. Then fine tuning and help from Stu. Probably my best outing ever (we didn't do all the stations as we skipped the ones directly into the setting sun, and jumped around a bit from the other learning groups out, and did multiple shots at each station) so its not a true score percent cause it's inflated. But when I *started* with 6 hits! Feels good. Finished with a sweep at a station including the last two being pulled at once, although I forget the term for that.
I don't like failing so bad at things, but now have a partial explanation - eyesight. Was wearing prescription glasses prior, but contacts worked way better. Wondering if I need to go back to them for skiing and biking...


I'm not a car2go member yet, and I don't mean to be late on the bandwagon, but am just collecting thoughts on it now.  However I do value its contribution to our transportation mix.  Great solution for people who don't want the capital ownership of a car.  Doesn't cost a lot for variable use though... like less than taxi.  But it's not really a "car" business, it's entirely enabled by smartphones, GPS, and online payment, so I'm calling this a technology business.  I haven't had to use one and therefore experienced how close they are on average, but I've heard there's 170 of them in the "home zone" in Calgary, and the downtown/beltline observed density is high enough to look like its working well. 

I've always admired NY, Toronto, and other various world cities as places someone could move after graduation with just a suitcase, a cell phone, rent an apartment and start living and working, with very little capital investment.  They're responsive/cater to mobile workforce.  Calgary didn't have quite the same downtown living/public transit/density mix of a big world city to make that feasible - Calgary is a car city in my view.  But this sidesteps that and makes it easier now to function in a car city.

If I'm a retiree living in a place where I don't think I need car ownership - bam... perfect solution.  If I'm a student going away to school who needs transportation only intermittently... bam (aside from moving couches is gonna be hard with this thing).  Travelling between Canadian cities and want to zip around?  No problem!  Travelling between US and Canada for business or pleasure and want to cruise around?  Almost no problem - billing isn't quite working between the two, so you need to double sign up and have a US account and a Canadian one.  You don't need a US domiciled address or credit card billing address in the US to do so, I just checked with their guy on the help line (who resides in Iowa interestingly enough).  Are you pulling a car behind your RV?  That might make sense in remote camping regions of US, but if you happen to get to a city, perhaps less need... there's ones present for variable time use.  Great!

If I'm Daimler, I think this thing is making money just on my estimates of utilization, revenue and service cost.  It also puts their fleet fuel economy down, allowing them to sell big Benz's to people who are consumers of them.  And lastly, it shows innovation in the car business isn't all just mechanical engineering.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Life, Death, Conflict and Peace

I consider myself lucky this afternoon. Attended a funeral, which always has sad points. But in my view it focussed on the good, the life lived, the impacts made. It's time for reflection, a time where others offer their "score" of how you helped touch them on earth.  It then meandered a bit through make believe points of religion, but that's fine too I guess, even if some guy walking out of a tomb resurrected isn't on my top story list.  At the same time there's babies doing their grabbing everything in site in the pews.  All goes round.

It's always good to think of what one's own obituary will look like. I drafted my expected one at one point, which is a bit like writing an outline of a novel you hope becomes your life. I also know my funeral can't really fit in a "place of god". Probably needs outdoors, and people doing outdoor things to remember the good times.  Hopefully I have some time left to sort it out.

Secondly, I listened to Kofi Annan speak, at one of the Bon Mot book club dinners. First, he doesn't really show age.  I guess I was at a short distance, but he looks pretty good.  It's enlightening to be able to hear someone speak from the level of top of world conflict diplomacy, yet grounded in the pursuit of bettering the human condition. I expected perhaps a lot of hot air with little said, in the way of politician speak. False. Very direct, dodges no questions. Yet humorous, and perpetually in control, and immensely well measured and intelligent. 90 minutes of captivation, motivation, inspiration all jam packed.

My daily world is energy finance and bikes. His is generally bridging the resources (dollars, armaments, human, and political will) of world leaders/leadership countries against the ills of despot leaders and/or conflict creators. He's been at the referee position, and partial on the field position, of a massive slice of modern history. I at best stay 15th level removed by reading news (in one language). When exposed through dialogue on the various points of his talk, that chasm can be gauged as immense. He's shaken hands with many men he despises in the utmost, yet its in his duty. Many of them are dead now as leaders of the last few decades of warring nations, a few sit in The Hague awaiting fate. I'm surprised he runs down a list that willingly.  Sometimes peace follows.  Or relative peace.  Or a situation that needs more effort.

Time will tell how his calls on current hot spots turn out. The comments seemed very well measured to say the least, and I'm not betting against him.

Calgary Midweek Mayhem Tuesday cyclocross #3

The good: Cindy rode well for all laps with a functioning rear derailleur. It was a great night weather wise, huge turnout, and fun.

The not as good:  I thought I’d take it easy first lap, settle in 2, hold for 3-5, then see if I could maintain.  But I fell off the proverbial cliff and went backwards.  Oh well.  Still fun.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Glacier National Park

Cycling Logan Pass / The Going to the Sun Road on the last weekend its open should be marked on more cyclists calendars - no time restrictions on the Going to the Sun road. Picture from base of climb when road is aiming west before the hairpin turn.

Unsurpassed beauty, accomodating schedules, and temperate days. We rode casually - not hard, but not wimpy. A ranger on the way up had their telescope out so we stopped to chat and they let us look through it at sheep on the cliffs. We had to stop once on way up, once on way down for road construction. I think that made it like 2h + or - but didn't really pay attention. I thought construction was done this year but it's ongoing. The parts that are new are velvety smooth with blacktop stretching every inch to the cliffs. Its neat seeing roads built like that.

Camped last night at Apgar, but tonight at KOA. Made smokies and smores. Slow afternoon, just let time pass with air temps same as our skin temp, no breeze, and afternoon sun.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tuesday 'cross addendum

This embodies all that makes me feel right about the athletic escapism and camraderie of Tuesday ‘cross.  Especially being 5+ year friends with the 4 visible behind me, which isn't usually where they are!

Calgary Midweek Mayhem Tuesday cyclocross #2

A big group of us met up at the YMCA to ride up north at 5:20, I had to sprint from my last meeting of the day to make it. I was tired from walking like 10k from 9 different meetings all over the city, a big day of pounding the pavement.

It was cooler and a little smaller. I had another (retired) boss come out, so 2 for 2 on the new taste tests of what it is. He loved it.

I had a good day - thought the Bow 80 would have sapped my soul more, but managed to hold in decently. Trev was way ahead this time vs last week, and got to talk to both Peter Lawrence and Shawn a bit on course which is something that never usually happens.

Cindy was tired on way up to race, that was the opener warmup after a few weeks overseas. She said she felt good in the race and was settling into lap two to advance some spots in the field. But then she rode over a wire flag that had come out of the ground during the race, and it wrapped in her derailleur. It doesn't take a mechanic to see that's not what a derailleur should look like... especially a newfangled Ultegra Di2 one. Hmm...

Shawn put it well. The bad: your girlfriend *broke her derailleur* at a 'cross race. The good: Your girlfriend xxxxx xxx xxxxxxxxxx at a 'cross race. Just depends on emphasis.

Thanks Kyle for driving Cindy home.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


I came across this on a morning visit to a client office - it was in a building lobby. I guess I'll just say that's a unique way to welcome visitors to the entrance of a building. I can't decide if I'm more uncomfortable being stared at by the two shoe-less guys floating in the water on the table, or the reaper in the gondola. And to think most of Calgary goes for generic prairie with oil pump jack type motifs...

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Bow 80 ish - Dark Side of the Moose

I'm gonna start with the only single negative I can think of today - the time my alarm clock went off this morning. I'm not gonna lie, that hurt. I didn't sleep well last night; I think I was subconsciously nervous that I wouldn't wake up.

Warm temps and beautiful rising sun this morning at Station Flats. From a racer standpoint parking, sign in and bag drop was perfect - thanks Bow team. We were off at 7:30 sharp with Cory Wallace reportedly only in sight for the first 60 seconds. I rode off calmly, and got passed by some guys who were doing their cyclocross level of intensity starts. Felt decent, but got passed by Geoff Clark and Peter Lawrence on Sulfur Springs early on. I passed them back 10 minutes later and felt good. Enjoyed the course over to Prairie Creek. Rode much of the day with Charlie Cooper - very good "team" to make on trail. I did better with him stretching me and he appreciated the on the fly course guidance. Rode approaching aid 1 with Alastair Hill, which matches a client's name, but instead he's a fellow who helped me when I dislocated my shoulder. I thanked him and said I didn't remember faces from then - he said I looked white as a ghost and didn't think I was in condition to remember anything.

Got on Charlie's wheel again for the road and we went pretty hard, then he dropped me on the Prairie View climb. I cleaned it all which felt good. Caught up to him on the descent, then as we traversed back over to Pneuma we started picking up the shards of shattered riders. I liked it, not that I like seeing people suffer, but because my whole day plan was to not be cooked at the end and hit the last climb respectably. I made the entire climb out of the creek valley to basically the top of Pneuma. Caught and rode with Mike Blennerhasset and Brian Robinson a bit, and some Quebec kid. Went as hard as I could, but near top of Pneuma started cramping. Fell over on a rock and cut my shin, got on, then 3m later rode into a tree. That was a good sign it was time to walk for a minute. Threw caution to the wind on Special K, then set cruise control for Tom Snow. As it turns out I finished right behind Jon who had mechanical issues.

Had a great time chilling with everyone after.

Lots and lots of deadgoats out, and a heck of a lot of podiums. I couldn't hit one of those for the life of me, so congrats to everyone who did. Great job by Bow for putting it on. It's an awesome race now - more of a race than a slog. I had a good ride at 4:20 like 8 min behind Shawn and was 8th 30+ guy. 3 of the 30+ beat me (Cory won at 3:40ish time) and the 40+ podium was way ahead too. It's fast out there!

Celebratory dinner with Double Bunnin after to commemorate the mountain bike season. I've done 4 stage races, and a handful of XC and Enduro types. It feels like it's been a great (and full) season overall.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cannondale Scalpel - end of an era

The 100mm version of the Scalpel has been my favourite all time mountain bike, yet it's found it's way to a new owner.  A long term friend of mine who's starting to dabble more with biking wanted something more than a flat pedal Rockhopper, and after a test ride, terms were arrived at.

In reality, I long for the same bike, yet with 29er wheels.  Going back to less contact patch feels sketchy in comparison, with the two wheels mounted way down below the bike, rather than feeling like I'm more between them.  On the plus side, 29ers aren't achieving the saddle to handlebar drop I was used to, and with the higher position, feel more weight back and less precision in steering... let's say... less Scalpel like on the single track?

Having said that, I've got a new steed coming in the new year... but the Scalpel has served well, I'd say almost legend status.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Silver Willow Sporting Clay Shooting

Beautiful afternoon for some sporting clays, which is an infrequent but enjoyable pastime for me. Having said that, history hasn't repeated itself. My first experiences had beginners luck and progression from a learning/feedback circle. This time I had big fat zeros and no improvement. I'm not really used to that, but it was fun regardless. I was dead last!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Calgary Midweek Mayhem Tuesday cyclocross #1

Beautiful day, warm and sunny all evening like a throwback to August. Cyclocross enthusiasts en masse, just huge turnout. Course was wide like a runway. So good to see so many people out and be able to catch up with the crowd. Lots of new racers, including some FirstEnergy faces. Lots of deadgoats. Lots of new faces. Lots of blingy bike rolling around. Lots of women are finding this fun - terrific!

I pick the first corner to "marshall" which means make conversation with dog walkers that wonder what this Mayhem is. And yell encouragement on that tough climbing corner - because it picks people up by a fraction of a second. It's great to see the effort being put out, the strain, the technique.

A's start second. Big group. With 200m of relatively flat start for drag racing then straight up a hill with an ever steepening off camber up to the left, the 'cross season was full bore within 30 seconds of the start line. I qualify "full bore" as meaning I'm at max heart rate am already begging my innards for more oxygen than my VO2 max is capable of supplying by the top of that climb... and this was the result of planning a "comfortable" start. These races aren't about numbers, but I count people on the first hills just to get a sense, and to try for 10 seconds of distraction from the searing. I feel good overall, it was a good day. My mind was able to disrespect and overrule my body's pleadings for mercy reasonably well. I rode the whole race in +- 10th and only exchanged spots either up or down maybe 3 times. Devin rockets by then I reel him back. Thomas pulls away for good. The laps were long. We did 7. On the 5th I was begging to hear a bell, then saw the sign for 2 left to go. Jeff Neilson passed me, to my surprise... no, I didn't think I was going to finish ahead of Jeff once this decade... I thought for sure I'd been chasing him/his group for 5 laps (brain must be on limited function mode).

1/3 into the last, it's like disappearing under the water peacefully. The pain subsides, as well as the urgency, but the speed holds constant. It can't matter for the last two thirds, as the end is near. It's calming, or maybe it's shock. I can hardly spit after, my mouth and lungs are gooey. I get my mind in order and go pick course flags.

Rode home with Devin and Andrea. Happy. Like blissfully happy; perhaps even oxygen poisoned, ultra relaxed happy. On a beautiful night along the river. Tired, yet we rolled effortlessly like there was a tailwind. From just after the starting gun to present, my mind couldn't really create things like "thoughts", it just existed in the present. I don't do that a lot.

Cyclocross is like bicycle crack. Once is enough to get you addicted, and it's intense. It just doesn't destroy lives (I'd say it doesn't have a social stigma, but it does - I just like that stigma).

Slowly my mind is entertaining thoughts again, like "I will love cyclocross until the day I die" and "I really want perogies now" and "the guys who named that cyclocross movie Pure Sweet Hell sure got that right".

I'm guessing the Bow 80 will rob legs of power for next Tuesday, but I want to hang out regardless.

Thanks Midweek Mayhem crew!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bow 80 pre-ride

Craig, Kate, Jon, Trent, Mani and I pre-rode most of the Bow 80 today, rumor is some even did all of it. I got to see the parts I hadn't seen before, enough so I get the whole route. Should be fun. Jon seems super fit, although had issues with flats, probably mostly staged so we could keep up. I tried to anyway. On one of the flat changes, Kate observed my crank arms appeared to be of inadequate length... I felt so emasculated for being called out on that topic.

Bike feels like it's rolling well, I'm hoping to have a decently mechanical free ride.

Other than that it's time to work on clearing out the garage. Any parts I have are available for good homes; handful of bikes too. Fall cleaning!

West Bragg trails

After a colleague's retirement lunch yesterday, I woke up to ride some trails out of West Bragg today, hadn't been there in years. A nice network is starting to take shape that builds off the soggy, useless old Telephone Trail.

Highlight of the ride was an elegant red fox chasing my friend down the trail for a while, who then stopped 10 feet away from us and just watched us, then went up into the woods and just laid there and chilled out. It was neat to see that close, much closer than the one hanging around Breckenridge. Neat to see. They're so light on their feet.