Monday 28 May 2012

Giver8er 2012

Sunday had great weather for the Giver8er.  Probably cool for those volunteering or those switching off riding, but on course it was pleasant all day.  Course was not too dry, but also not wet – just perfect.  There’s something to be said for 8h of mountain biking when no mud sprays up on your bike or jersey.

Course layout was fantastic.  Either flowing downhill or cross-hills, or steep punchy climbs.  I knew those would eventually hurt.

Vibe was fantastic.  All the deadgoats on course and organizing did an awesome job.  Racing went off without a hitch, so organization is good.  Icing on the cake is just how nice everyone is when you’re out there.  From the start, the team fast guys and a handful of fast solo’s took off like a shot. Gary Chambers and I settled into a more reasonable rhythm for us, then half way through the first lap I realized my front tire was losing pressure. Had to ride most of the first lap pretty conservative as a result, and do a mildly longer lap one stop to pump up, after which it was fine – but we were out of sight of the other solo’s. Food felt good – worked mainly on potatoes, bananas, a few bites of a burrito, then I think only 2 gels.

It doesn’t take huge efforts of consideration to melt someone’s beaten down heart at the 7h mark.  Jeff Neilson held my bike up for 10 seconds and said I was doing great.  It almost felt like that was what kept me going.  The prior lap I had Gordon Lightfoot in mind from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: Does any one know where the love of God goes/when the waves turn the minutes to hours?  - except instead of waves it was hills.  You know, brains get full of funny things out there.  I tried to replace it with Crazy Larry's eternal wisdom:  when it hurts just think of me (Larry) singing Matthew Wilder's: Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride/Nobody's gonna slow me down/Oh-no, oh-no, I got to keep on moving.  Aside from musical interludes; the Ger was always great at pointing out the main trick is to keep moving.

Tracie and Michelle were so cheerful every lap.  The pit row had people speaking each time that sometimes were a blur, and sometimes made sense when I was more coherent.  Craig Marshall, bless you for that 10 second push on the start of the last lap.  It means absolutely nothing in the "assistance to a racer" type of negative connotation, but absolutely everything in terms of lifting a spirit.  I saw you breathing hard from doing it to everyone.  So awesome.  I got a little grouchy to a guy with a cropped silver beard who called a pretty aggressive pass when I was going mach speed, so I hereby offer an apology.  I wasn't trying to hold up trail, and later he did pass.  But passing to me is "can I pass" unless you're definitely, demonstrably, faster at that point, and on that downhill, it wasn't the case.  So when you're 5m behind, you don't just boss someone off the trail.  Police can say "stop and put your hands in the air" with authority, and you do it.  Cops are different.  When guys who it probably actually mattered to passed (Luke, Stappy, Erfle/Bunnin) etc. they give notice and aren't stressed at all.  I'll be nice too, but maybe we should all be nice about passing - and it'd all be easier if an attempt to walk over/through me wasn't made when the two Spin Sisters simultaneously dismounted right in front of me on the hill.  Sorry, but there's the little side tangent.

Gary and I plugged away at the laps, going more for fun than dead serious.  Very fun, nice to just put the laps behind in civil fashion at good pace.  Last lap I saw Brian Robinson heading out, and thought perhaps if I had a legendary lap I could come close to him.  My seatpost broke so no go on that one, had to tighten it up 5x and then gave up and had to stand the remainder.  Ouch.  Passed Rick Metzger, then he passed me back and finished strong.  Rick you're a machine, that was good riding out there!

Somewhere on the last while either my kidneys stopped or my gut stopped, so I had a bunch of fluid in me which wasn’t absorbing.  I’ve had that before.  I’m guessing perhaps light on electrolytes but not positive, all my stuff was mild electrolyte mixture, it was cooler and not super sweaty temps.  Didn’t make for a very fun half hour after the race, just had to lie down.

Course was just a smidge short of 10km, with 283m of climbing, so 12 laps is ~120k and 3,400m of climbing – that makes a tough day on a mountain bike. Results are here

Also Solstice results from yesterday are here

Cindy did excellent on her 4 laps and was chipper post race.  She rode almost all of the course and is now an official mountain biker.  It makes me so happy to see her accomplishments, all while beaming smiles.

Also here's a subsequent edit - it didn't dawn on me until Craig pointed out (let's put it this way, not a lot is dawning on me in the 8h out there or the post race stupor!) that he and I were the only two who did both races with the Sunday solo.  We like riding, and we like riding lots!  That's cool.  Craig you always motivate me to ride morebetter ; )


I really like this dog - something tells me we'd get along well. 

Saturday 26 May 2012

Deadgoat Summer Solstice 2012 at COP

The deadgoats hosted the Summer Solstice at COP today.  Nice day - bit chilly standing around, but great riding weather.  Trail was moist but not wet, and a very nice course.

This was Cindy's first mountain bike race.  She rode very well, breathing through a beaming smile the whole time, and finished 2nd.  Very impressive.  Sisters Lisa and Lori were excellent at the cheering section, and Josie and Victoria mostly slept through the yelling.

The elite race was awesome, if you count a deadgoat one/two finish as awesome.  Shawn and Craig rode very well (perhaps they'd even go so far as to agree they rode awesome?) with a great third for Gabor.  I finished not last, which was great.  First race really reminds the legs, lungs and back what they need to do.

Murphy's Law acted up and the memory card for my camera was filled right before Cindy's podium spot, and Lori didn't want to mess with trying to delete photos on a moments notice.  A bunch of photos of the races when I wasn't out on course are available here.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Need for Speed

2012 has seen a few legends pass. Ferdinand Porsche and Carroll Shelby are two men who's time on earth I greatly appreciate. I've only touched their works lightly thus far in life, but hope to more in the future. If you can make something faster, more nimble, more performance driven than anything that has come before - that's an achievement. If you can take on giants and win, from your garage tinkering, that's legendary.

ABA learn to race

Craig Stappler instructed an ABA learn to mountain bike race night on Monday, unfortunately weather caught up on Tuesday.  Perhaps a rain check is in order for day 2?


I had meant to show up to just drop Cindy off and do hill repeats (got in a few during the orientation) rather than wedge into the group, but a few repeats in on the south side, a lady with a Speed Theory kit – Sandra – had shown up a bit late and asked me if I’d seen the learn to race mountain bikes group… No problem!  We rode off to find where the group of 11 was, then once we caught up, Cindy’s friend needed help with her chain, I was asked about gearing on a hill by someone else,  so I sort of started “tail gunning” to help the group as they say in the ski guiding world. 


Craig’s information I heard delivered to the group was a great reminder that some bike knowledge we take for granted is completely new to some riders, and as well his coaching ability to educate and motivate people is terrific in my humble opinion.  It was a great job overall of helping a handful of people learn riding offroad.  There’s now more people who will try to coast up those first steep climbs rather than mash gears, break chains, and fatigue legs (among other wisdom from the evening).  When I first got over to the group with Sandra, it was perfect: 6 people dismounting and messing with gears at the bottom of a steep climb out of a V shaped ravine on the “justify the lessons lap” of the mini course; it looked like a gong show.  60 minutes later they all looked nearly as effortless as they shifted before, looked ahead, coasted uphill, and waited for the bike speed to match the leg spin speed… no standing and tire slipping, and just riding up it easily.  That’ll eliminate a lot of frustration for new mountain bikers/aspiring racers.  Great stuff!


Everyone was appreciative of Craig’s help after.  The girls thought it was nice to have someone supportive and patient to explain things.  The teenage boys just thought it was “awesome” how Craig demonstrated stuff.  I was just happy to witness 11 people expanding their mountain biking horizons at the tutelage of a very skilled deadgoat!

Sunday 20 May 2012

Giver8er pre-ride

We did 3 hours of laps at COP in a "learn to mountain bike" session today. Nice weather, super dry trails, just great on all fronts. Cindy had a break through day on the mountain bike and could ride the entire lap save for one gravel descent that's loose like marbles. We did a couple orientation laps, tried different tough sections, and kind of checked the watch on a few. 60 mins for one, 45 mins for next, then I did a 26 min one solo. So fun.

Ps. I have no idea what the actual Giver8er course is, we were just doing sort of standard laps of a trail set out there.

Inagural Tandem ride

We did a surprise trip on the tandem which made it an exciting morning - 127km out on the beauty country gravel roads, lunch in Cochrane. About 5:15 total ride time. Very nice day - cooler but warmed up as we were out. It rides so smooth on the gravel, so fun.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Le Select Bistro

Warm evening, nice patio, great dinner spot.

Monday 14 May 2012


Nice weather in the center of the universe.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Topical Treat

Toronto. And tax time.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Crisp new drivetrain

Who doesn't like a crisp new drivetrain?

Friday 11 May 2012

Friday nights

Sometimes you party, sometimes you... don't.

Even though I had on an ultra-bright Friday tie on today... picture doesn't do its level of fruitcake justice.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

America and the Value of Earned Success

This resonates with me:  Earned success vs. learned helplessness. Arthur Brooks has a few tidbits of commentary that seem thoughtful, this one being highlighted recently.

I hear a lot of socialist speak out there these days… and I agree.  Society should look out for those who need assistance.  Assistance should apply to those who need it, not large swaths who want it because any other scenario seems like too much effort.  I hear a lot in socialist doctrine about fairness.  I agree in the concept of fairness fully, but perhaps differ in interpretation.  Fairness doesn’t mean everyone lives the same, receives the same, etc.  Fairness isn’t the delivery of end product – to me fairness is the definition of the start line.  Fairness means everyone has a level playing field and an equal shot at earning what the life they want to live, want to provide themselves.  I'd even go so far as to say this is what appeals to me in cycling - its virtually impossible to have any success without copious amounts of work.

The Wall Street Journal
May 8, 2012, 6:31 p.m. ET
Arthur Brooks: America and the Value of 'Earned Success'
'We found that even when good things occurred that weren't earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people's well-being.'
I learned to appreciate the American free enterprise system by quitting a job in Spain.
At age 19, I dropped out of school to pursue a career as a French horn player. After a few twists and turns, I wound up in the Barcelona Symphony, which was a Spanish government job.
Even as a foreigner, I had the same lifetime work status as a clerk at the water department. Nobody ever left these jobs, except with lavish disability packages. (One colleague who injured his lips moonlighting at a dance-hall gig ended up spending the next 20 years collecting a full salary to stay home.)
I loved music—but the life of a government functionary wasn't my cup of tea. And so my Spanish wife and I decided to pull up stakes and start over in America. Neither of us had a college degree, and my wife's English was limited.
To friends in Barcelona, this move was ridiculous. Quitting a job in Spain often meant permanent unemployment. As we departed, my in-laws tearfully gave us a gold bracelet which, they said, we could pawn in the coming hard times.
We were fairly poor for a few years but just fine. I taught music during the day and earned a bachelor's degree in economics at night. To her astonishment, my wife immediately landed a job teaching English to other immigrants. "America is a great country," she declared—an assertion I had never heard from a Spaniard.
In the end, I concluded, what set the United States apart from Spain was the difference between earned success and learned helplessness.
Earned success means defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work. It allows you to measure your life's "profit" however you want, be it in money, making beautiful music, or helping people learn English. Earned success is at the root of American exceptionalism.
The link between earned success and life satisfaction is well established by researchers. The University of Chicago's General Social Survey, for example, reveals that people who say they feel "very successful" or "completely successful" in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy than people who feel "somewhat successful." It doesn't matter if they earn more or less income; the differences persist.
The opposite of earned success is "learned helplessness," a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.
During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: "We found that even when good things occurred that weren't earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people's well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive."
Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.
Meanwhile, their collective happiness—already relatively low—has withered. According to the nonprofit World Values Survey, 20% of Spaniards said they were "very happy" about their lives in 1981. This fell to 14% by 2007, even before the economic downturn.
That trajectory should be a cautionary tale to Americans who are watching the U.S. government careen toward a system that is every bit as socially democratic as Spain's.
Government spending as a percentage of GDP in America is about 36%—roughly the same as in Spain. The Congressional Budget Office tells us it will reach 50% by 2038. The Tax Foundation reports that almost 70% of Americans take more out of the tax system than they pay into it. Meanwhile, politicians foment social division on the basis of income inequality, instead of attempting to improve mobility and opportunity through education reform, pro-growth policies, and an entrepreneur-friendly economy.
These trends do not mean we are doomed to repeat Spain's unhappy fate. But our system of earned success will not defend itself.
All surveys show that most Americans still embrace our free enterprise system—today. The crucial test is whether the country is willing to support the hard work and policy reforms that will sustain it.
The cost of failing this test will be more human than financial. In our hands is the earned success—and thus the happiness—of our children and grandchildren. The stakes in the current policy battles today are not just economic. They are moral.
Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of "The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise," published this week by Basic Books.
A version of this article appeared May 9, 2012, on page A13 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: America and the Value of 'Earned Success'.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Ode to a Tuesday

Markets stink this week, but I don't care.

I have really awesome friends who are super fun to hang out with, and who happened to ride bikes really awesomely at Nose Hill Park tonight. Craig and Shawn killed the hills both up and down. Jay and I watched from a ways behind.

Our route even was awesome. First climb up this little valley, we come around the corner and there's some girls doing like a nature scene modelling photography shoot. They were impressed enough to compliment us on our ascending speed (I'm not making that up). Why can't biking always be like that? (Yes, of course we did one more lap).

About 5 climbs later we did the nice steady long singletrack climb near Shaganappi. I was say 15m behind Craig and Shawn. Guy at the side of the trail riding a bike downhill had pulled over. When I rode by he said (referring to Shawn and Craig) "I can't even ride downhill as fast as those guys were riding up". Bam, again I'm not making this up. I think it was 7 hard climbs in total. I topped out on my speed as usual, but didn't feel much fade or pain from it all. So I don't get much faster, but just being fit is such a deep down good feeling. It's nice when a body responds to challenge without crumbling.

We did a handful more climbs, but a bit easier, and did more emphasis on sessioning the downhill. Less brakes. More fun.

The Flash got it's first real pushing. It's incredible. Super light, super stiff, great handling, super traction, beauty brand new drivetrain. Amazing piece of machinery. I've ridden plenty of nice bikes, and with that context, this thing still leaves me dumbfounded.

Craig and I rode down to Shouldice to see Cindy's soccer for a bit and said hi to Cindy, Kristen and Karli who were all smiles. Sat on the side in the warm sun.

Came home and had a Tiger Malt and can of tuna with rye bread. Honestly I don't know if a day can be served up any more awesome.

That's an 11 out of 10 evening.

Shrinking bike inventory

I'm a net seller of bikes, which happens infrequently.  It's nice to declutter a bit.  I used all of them, but some not enough to justify space in a full garage - especially one where Cindy has a few bikes too.

Kona Jake singlespeed 'cross bike has gone to a co-worker seeking an urban cruiser.  Cervelo P3 TT bike has gone to a budding triathlete.  Cindy's Specialized Stumpjumper FSR has gone to a biathlete kid who'll tear it around the Nordic Center this summer with one of my boss's kids. 

Also getting rid of basically a full bike's worth of backup parts, forks, wheels, tires by building a bike for a co-worker for the Ride to Conquer Cancer out of a frame that Stappy sourced, plus grabbing some parts from the bike store "Chez Bunnin".

So why after all this do people still walk in and say "I've never seen this many bikes in a house before?" yet to me it feels liberating to trim back?  Indeed.

New Mountain Biker

After confirming that Cindy's usual smile is present in full effect, please note the level of color coordination. Although there is no direct female term for "Fred" - rest assured the ensemble arranged here is as far from "Fred" status as possible. Cindy suffered only mild panic attack that she didn't have black and red socks, and it only dawned on me later, that the best matching black and red socks I have are the BC Bike Race ones. Ironic?

We had a fun mountain bike ride Sunday afternoon, in the city, and spotted 12 deer. When I monkeyed around with some field mechanics, Cindy posted herself on deer watch for our safety (we have differing views on the ferocity of 80lb ungulates apparently).

Next time we'll have to mix a red drink for the bottles.

Monday 7 May 2012

Birthday party

Birthday party fun in West Vancouver – beautiful house for partying, 50 guests all ready to pass along good will and fun times. The surprise completely worked, as a milder ahead of time decoy surprise for the weekend was arranged.

Birthday girl and husband:

Cake from kids:

A portion of the younger guests:

Vancouver weekend

Warmer than Calgary was what counted, as well as friendly faces. Fun times adding breadth to my eggs Benedict for breakfast addiction, catching up with friends, shopping, and coffee sipping.