Sunday, 24 May 2015

River Valley Royal Rumble IV XC Alberta Cup #2

Beauty day for racing up in Edmonton.  Shawn, Cindy and I carpooled up for the action.  I didn't think I was up for a great day, runny nose and cold sore of a summer cold were on me this morning.

It was hot by Alberta standards, I haven't had 28C yet this year.  Great course, we started with a 60 second spring straight up the ski hill, legs felt great actually, then tried to hold 2h of racing in the heat from there.  Hot races leave me feeling like this:

That's actually probably about the right vintage for me too.  I held on for the 5 laps and was not last.  That's good.  Strava file here.  Neither heart rate or power worked today for whatever reasons.  The course was dry and punchy, call it like 10 maximal effort little steeps per lap, where I was easiest gear, pushing hard, and just barely having the traction/skill to make it.  Those added up after a while. So did the climb up the side of the ski hill in the blazing sun.

Cindy found shade most of the race, did a good job with water bottles in the feed zone, and was our photographer too.

Start queue.

Off to the races.

Blazing hill climb.

 It's hard by this point.

Finish.  Results here.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Defender Safari

Cindy and I went for a Defender Safari adventure!  About 300k door to door.  Beautiful scenery, fun day.  Out of interest a 1997 Defender 300 tdi rebuilt gets the same mileage as a 2011 Mercedes Benz ML350... basically 10.5L/100km.



Beautiful wetlands.

Harold Creek road peak, with two adventurers.

Picnic at Burnt Timber.

Defender takes a break at picnic time.

Turn around point, north side of Red Deer River looking south.

Red Deer River Valley west.


Defender taking a break by the Red Deer river.

Wild horses.

Might be the Little Red Deer River, not 100% sure.

Yup, still pregnant.

East towards Water Valley.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Just Energy scam ripoff - don't do it

Just Energy has come door to door in our neighbourhood. They probably aren't technically a scam, as they do provide you with what you sign up for at the price you agree to.  However, they are a ripoff.

I was offered to buy electricity at a fixed price for 60 months/5 years, at a rate that wouldn't change to ensure I'm safe.  Too bad the rate is over 3x what the Alberta Power Pool has been balancing at this week.  If you don't know how to find those prices, visit the Alberta Electric System Operator or "aeso" web site and look under their power pool price statistics.

Yes, in 5 years it could be above the price they're offering to sell you electricity at today.  However, every day that you over pay by 3x, you're eroding value now.  You're better off self insuring.  This is like offering you a car loan at 50% interest, but saying it's safe because the rate is guaranteed not to change.  It's not safe, it's completely idiotic.

Their natural gas price quotes are similar.  They are about 2.5x the cost that natural gas sells for today in Alberta.  Yes, it's a very volatile commodity, but again, every month you pay 2.5x over, you'd essentially be fine by self insuring.  I'm not a gas bull at this point - technology has enabled us to gather more gas, more cheaply, than ever before.  Bringing it out of the ground is simply an economic question of what price it takes to incentivize producers to drill for it.

Please please please don't buy Just Energy's offerings.  They don't produce either commodity, they simply are a sales force that creates contracts then hedges themselves off on the other side.  They lock in their profit on day zero.

Rebecca McDonald you should be ashamed.  If you were selling securities, your company's actions would be illegal - it's just that consumer contracting for commodities isn't scrutinized as much.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Water Valley North - pure beauty

Ryan Young and I saddled up for some exploration today.  I've wanted to explore north of Water Valley for a while.  7C start but warmed up to about 15.  Roads rolled just beauty today, very nice clay packed gravel for 90%.  It was like road riding, but with better views and limited traffic.  It didn't take us more than a half hour of riding to be absolutely certain that today... we were winning in all respects.

We didn't do any at a blistering pace as we did 145k yesterday, and today we were just riding, not half wheeling.  Truth be told you can't half wheel a guy with as good of a Tom Boonen beard as he has right now, that adds a lot of Watts.  Although the distance wasn't that long overall (148 overall, I missed 6 with Garmin on pause), there was lots of climbing on this loop.  I'd gladly ride this again with a group to share the joy, but right now will say if guys want to race hills, do it late in the ride, or do it on your own.  There's so much joy in just riding this one for the sake of bike riding, that depleting energy early and letting all the late hills put you into the pain cave just isn't really the way to enjoy this kind of stuff.

We had some traffic on each segment.  Out of all the 4x4's, trucks with camper trailers, only one guy was a dick all day.  Everyone else exchanged waves and gave wide berth.  Beauty.

This is on the forestry trunk road, probably a half hour north of Harold Creek, the mountains are in the background but hard to see on this photo.  Beauty.  Smooth rolling, trees shielding wind, riding bikes happiness.

This is essentially the top of the descent down into the Red Deer river valley.  This was an out and back we could have skipped, but why skip when things are going well?  Pretty steep climb coming back out.

Somehow like 3 hours elapsed until my next photo.  Oops.  Here's home sweet home.  Only in Water Valley.

We passed/were passed by lots of trucks pulling camper trailers and loaded up with quads and dirt bikes.  Everyone was so nice.  They all seemed mystified we were on bikes way out here.  One guy stood with his horse in his ranch front lawn toward the end almost slack jawed.  Two guys in the drops aren't a frequent sight out here, dirt bikes, Jeeps and quads mud bogging, hill climbing and just having fun are extremely common.  You know what?  They would have thought we were even more crazy had they known we parked a perfectly capable 4x4 in Water Valley to do this on skinny tires (ok, not that skinny - bring your Continental 28mm GP 4 seasons at 70-80psi depending on your weight for this one).  Two tubes per person just in case (Ryan had one flat), and instead of carrying excess water, the All Clear and two bottles should work.  

Note the high departure angle rack mount... just in case we needed to do a little off road.

This is a Grade A ride that definitely makes BikingBakke's cut for a "Tour of Alberta, rural roads amateur edition".  

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Water Valley Spring Recon

Great weather. Dry roads. Less clothes. Faster tires. That was the plan, and it worked save for a little rainy section to keep it a true Water Valley out in the elements ride.

Shawn, Devin and I rolled out from Weedon hall to do the abbreviated Water Valley loop in recon of an upcoming race.  If you aren't pumped for this, you should be for two reasons. Yes, with timing some people race. But consider it a supported ride, and one that gets you out on some of the most beautiful roads you've not likely ridden that are close to home. It's a fantastic gift of Alberta riding.

This is the beautiful Twp 290 south of Water Valley.

Water Valley landmarks and a quick coffee stop. 

This is doing our part to keep custom bike builders in business. Left to right: Blacksheep, Bread Winner, Moots. 

Our beautiful gifts of rural roads. 

After this the climbing started in earnest so the camera didn't come out as easy. Then it was a fast descent on gravel, then rain, then the push home, none of which really let me do photos. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Coulee Cruiser 2015

What makes mountain biking hard?  Well, a little of everything.  SuperFan Cindy and I didn't arrive too late, but late enough that my warmup lap meant going right to the start queue and having just a few minutes before race started.  That might be considered even good timing I guess.  I wasn't sure what legs I'd have.  I'm a) trying to de-fatten myself so I've been eating less, and b) I did my telemark leg exercises Friday as a bit of a rebuild for doing some coached skiing next weekend, and have the second day soreness going.

The start was fast, I sat in 2nd last.  The first long descent seemed slow, but I was content to sit in and see how everyone's endurance was.  The climbs were hard for me, but I survived with the gearing I had...  a series of issues yesterday (seized then stripped cassette lockring, cutting my hand when it stripped, trying to just change it over to this PowerTap wheel I had, etc.).  Eventually I put on a 10 sp mountain bike cassette that's got a 36t large cog.  I made it today on the 32-36, but I've been riding a 32 up front and am used to the SRAM XX1 42 in back.

Faded on the climbs on last lap and I ended up 6th.  Which I guess is fine for me actually.

So other than that ancillary stuff, back to the question - what makes mountain biking hard?  It challenges all parts of your energy output ability:

Secondly, this one did have a reasonably defined section of downhill to rest, but the two climbs and the "flat" headwind back to the start finish had nowhere to rest.