Monday 29 July 2013

Crazy addiction

I don't know what I'll ever do if my ability to adventure diminishes.  The drive home was spent daydreaming of Mongolia.  After unpacking, making sure no jury duty or lottery winning notices were in the mail, watering some decrepit looking plants, doing wash and eating, I did a good picture by picture stare at this awesome photo set again.  I'm sure that vastness is going to hurt as well as inspire.  I think if I didn't have sequential adventures on the horizon, I think the analogy is like all those clouds above the Mongolian landscape - without moisture they just disappear and are nothing.

TR3 day 3

I woke up before my alarm feeling rested and un-sore.  Breakfast went down easy.  We got kitted up seeing rain sprinkles outside and clouds over town.  I threw on an undershirt, a rain jacket, and off we went to commute up to Fernie Alpine Resort.

Start was delayed like 20 minutes as a moose was on one of the trails we were scheduled to be on.  They tried to scare it away (they=game warden) but we ended up re-routing.  I started about 30 people back, which was fine given the long ski hill climb start, but for once looked up and thought those are the people I'm going to ride with "up there" and I'm back here.  Oh well.  Took me about 15-20 minutes of climb to get to the spot where I'd finish - 4 seconds behind Houston Peschl.

I entered Verboten off the ski hill track with Pat Doyle behind and egging me on, and Houston in front jammed up in a long line.  This is part of my logic that for me, a hardtail is better.  I need help climbing.  I can descend a hard tail sufficiently well in a logjam of riders - but passing is often unavailable on tight trails.  It's different where you're riding lots of horizontal single track.

After aid 1 we did a heinous climb on gravel utility access track is my guess that just kept going exponentially up in grade.  Pat was behind egging me on, and Melanie McQuaid and Devin were in front.  Pat was motivated for us to get into the trails ahead of Melanie, so I busted a gut to do so.  I didn't catch Devin for probably half the descent as my brain was scrambled from the effort of climbing. We hung a left and went right back up the hill, doing the climb Shawn, Devin and I did as a warmup on Friday night.  Devin and Pat took off, Melanie was behind me, and was pushing.  She asked how far it was to the downhill... ie. should I pass your slow ass now, or is another downhill section going to save you.  I couldn't remember if we went up or down when the trail exited onto a gravel road - we climbed a few meters, rode next to each other, shouted up to the trail marshall "does it go up or down". He said down, she said "go for it", and thus I did.  Took about half the downhill to get some flow after really taxing myself on the way up.  That was 3 climbs done - and the fourth was the monster.

I stopped for a half bottle fill, wish I didn't, but its like my safety blanket.  That and starting back were the only issues today, so not much to complain about.  We did the standard climb from the provincial park road up to Fernie, I knew it was long and increasing steepness.  Melanie passed me half way up, and I struggled to keep her in sight for the rest.  25 minutes in, Trish was at the corner where you do an off camber right, hard to get traction as you just climb basically right up a run and need to really dig in.  It flattens for a minute, turns, and I saved myself relative to the guys around me for the second part where it feels like it goes nearly vertical.  We kept traversing skiers right, and went... right past that downhill I thought we were going to take.  Hmm.  Then kept going up - steeply.  Got to some "stair" ups that were like 10m super steeps with flat spots I went as slow as possible on to get 5 seconds of rest.  I kept Melanie in sight - she walked one and I was determined to stay on.  Traversed more, then photographer standing at the top of another steep that many walked.  I saved up some gas and rode that.  He said "more up ahead".  It was really getting laborious... until finally we turned down a lift access run  "rumplestumpskin" in the rain.  The wood features were slick, I think carnage would have ensued later in the group.  I passed a couple people, came up behind Melanie again, and she said "are you the guy who rides this sketchy stuff".  I said that'd probably be right.  So off I went.  Fun trails till the end, arms got really tired, then we got to 100m of gravel road descent.  Houston came around me pedalling his big gear hard, going super fast on the sketchy gravel.  I coasted behind not longing for the place that much.  Into forest for a few last turns, then down the giant roll out ramp into the finish 4 seconds behind him.

Devin and Pat were about 3 minutes up which was awesome.  I think Shawn was about 10 minutes up.  We ditched out pretty fast to go get showered before our late check out expired.

I was 13th on the day and 15th overall according to zone4.  Kate rode into third overall which I'm so happy for her for.  Devin got his top 10, Pat and Tim are podiuming in their categories, and Bunnin did a 4th overall.  It's funny - I did my usual thing of feeling like I accelerated.  Under the assumption that the women's field would be a somewhat stable reference marker, I was behind all of them day one, middle of them day 2, and ahead day 3.  Side note here on this: some cheering fan, whom I'm sure meant well to be out cheering in the woods, yelled at me "you're about to get chicked" as Melanie McQuaid was honing in on me on the last climb.  I said "thanks for cheering, but that's really dumb - she's world class and it's awesome to ride around women like that".  She probably thinks I'm an ass, but everyone needs to ride their own thing, and I've never been antagonistic with the ladies I end up riding near.

More importantly, with the race being relatively short, we had time each afternoon to eat, massage, sleep, cook, drink, kibbutz, laugh, talk about bikes, bike parts, bike racers, bike races, bike adventures and solve the world's problems.

Sunday 28 July 2013

TR3 day 2

Woke up a bit tired, but got the routine going. Bluebird day - can't be bad riding a bike when its like that.

We cruised over to start, didn't take a warmup too seriously as the 30+k of gravel + quad trail climb didn't mean a sprint to trails.

I felt ok but not great. About 25 mins in I could still see Pat and Devin, and I got onto the back of a group with Steve drafting me that Kate was pulling hard. That group blew, and I was on the slow end. Steve, Tom, Eric Kramer and Tom Ebbern and others all pulled away. I went at my own pace hoping to reel them back on the flatter quad path. Took me a while past aid 1 to feel good, then started making up ground again. Got to Eric Cramer who was furthest up right at the last pitch before the descent. I asked him if he'd mind if I went first as I had a special thing for sketchy downhills, which he was fine with. I put my hand on the tree by the dropin to let a guy and lady who were walking (err foot sliding) down it to clear, then rolled in. Had a good descent passing people, but its a bit irrelevant when its like 1:40 climbing and 15 down.

Felt good on Coal Discovery, most fun part of the day. One guy rode my wheel, I said he could go by, he declined. That's cool, I said just make sure cause I don't want you telling your buddies later some deadgoat hogged the trail. We rode to the end together, he passed me on the gravel doubletrack right by town, I showed that I wasn't about to drop off, so we rolled in together. Some elderly guy didn't see us coming and walked into the road, but we averted that - he may have had quite the startle though.

I hurt all day, but I think probably did better in some respect as I think my gap to Devin was smaller.

Afternoon clouds started to build, we did round 2 of a guys meet the grocery store, then did nothing but quality R&R all afternoon. Surf, turf and sky was dinner on bbq, then we stood in the cold river for a while, and laughed all night about funny stuff. Life is good.

Saturday 27 July 2013

TR3 Day 1

After arriving at 4:58 yesterday for 5pm check in cutoff, we settled in for some dinner, a pint of Fernie ale, and a half decent sleep. So fun to see all the bike gang out.

Beauty day out. Woke up, cool morning, cruised over to start. Devin and I were pretty far back in the queue, but it didn't matter a ton with a relatively long road section to thin it out before the climb up hyperventilation.

First 5 minutes, some female at her threshold at a spot in the group she got to by arriving early got chucked out the left of peloton, presumably a bar lock or something, then caught traction at an acute angle point right back in, and just shot straight in. Bit of a mess. I was a few bikes back.

15 minutes in I was probably same spot I'd finish in. Climb was nice and cool, I felt steady but not zippy, was behind Pat Doyle and Mical Dyck and just sat there. Never saw Pat after the descent, I rode down with Mical then spent the next hour with the girls duking it out (I just tried to stay out of the way). Really fun trails. Everyone is talking about loose, dry, sketchy descents. Sure, I get that. I didn't feel much of it - I put on a Nobby Nic up front. Excess traction all day. Sure I push a bit more, and I don't know if I'd climb faster otherwise. All I know is the guys I passed cause they were wiped out, in the woods, or flatting was relatively high. I think fitting equipment to conditions is important. Made the descents fun not risky.

The way results are posted is mildly tough to interpret. Bunnin did a count and figures he was 11th across the line. I'm going to skip that on a phone and estimate that I'm around 30th person across the line, but there's so many categories its hard to tell. I was around 2:15 ish, so very short day. Devin, Shawn, Pat rode super solid. Tracie cheered super solid. I carried an extra tube and extra 750ml bottle a bit illogically just for a 2lb bonus workout when we did two blasts up hyperventilation.

Devin, Shawn and I decimated some lunch, then I went for a super massage, it was so good I should marry that girl.

These short races have the benefit of so much chill time they're awesome. Trails great, conditions great, so fun.

Highlight of the night - 2 old ladies came to DQ in this old Mercedes 190. They even had a little pillow on the front seat so she could see over the dash. Beauty!

The main problem with this M Coupe picture is I'm not driving!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

The Wall of Fire

Our hot sauce "Wall of Fire" just had reinforcements arrive by mail today!

Monday 22 July 2013

Ridgeback/Moosepackers/Pneuma/Race of Spades!

Well, I'll start by saying it's too bad that Kate was behind the lens rather than in front of it… Kate crushed some kilometers with the gang, I don't think broke a sweat, and I think had a fun time dishing out the pain to the guys as usual. We pulled out the camera only once, this is at the intersection of Pneuma and Race of Spades, so not pictured are Devin, Trish, and Davin whom rode earlier sections.

That's a great group for a great Sunday ride. After breakfast at Cadence where Shawn and I forgot critical belongings on departure, we pulled out of the West Bragg parking lot, with I think Craig up front, near 10am. Craig got to negotiate on some of the first climbs with people who also were heading out, that then shoulder checked and saw the aerobic capacity armada of Craig, Shawn, Devin, Jon, Trish, Kate, and me holding on somewhere on those initial climbs. Jon let it rip on the first decent, fast and fun enough to miss our first key corner, with Craig and I tailing him. We eventually climbed back up and went the right way, but that was the last we saw of Trish and Devin due to their shorter plans. Darn, we were supposed to do the group photo then.

We descended Sugar Mama then over to the ranger station which took some bushwhacking through flood damaged areas. Lonely Station Flats parking lot to Ridgeback to Moosepackers where the big erosion from that drain pipe was. Up Moosepackers, I made all the switchbacks, just missed cleaning it all because I rode off the side of a wide, smooth, flat piece of trail randomly when I looked left for view. It was as easy as sidewalk at that part. Funny.

Dropped in down Pneuma, where I caught my left pinky toe on the stub of a branch on a tree which hurt. Down to Race of Spades. Little mishap when my grips rotated funny (I had noticed earlier the end of my bar is messed as the carbon creased). Down Race with Jon leading. After the tough climb, I thought I spotted a moose in the woods and pointed it out to everyone… hmm… but it wasn't there, so as they looked, I got trail ; )

Tried to hold some speed into the Fraggle Rock jumps and features, we scared some deer sleeping in the woods, then down to the Tom Snow junction. I had flatted, so used a bigair on my rear tire. It leaked. We put in a tube… that was flat. We put in a tube that held… meanwhile that stall cost the group probably 20 million mosquito bites. Started hauling again, and on next downhill, I got a giant dragonfly in my helmet. I like dragonflys, they've been feasting on mosquitos, and they're pretty peaceful to people. But when it's jammed in your helmet, it freaks out, so I had to haul on the brakes and fix that. Lost the will to go forward on the second Ridgeback climb, but eventually a full bottle and some electrolytes got that fixed. Cruised back to parking lot – big day of fun all in!

I'm really liking the Pivot's ride, it's not slowing me down on the descents (I did stop on the way home and pick up a second Nobby Nic for it!). It's still hard to carry water on, but it rides well enough to keep Jon in sight on the downhills, unless I'm busy royally screwing up. Craig doesn't need any suspension to maintain those speeds.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Dreaming eventually needs to meet Reality - Mongolia

So I got really inspired to adventure earlier in the year, and signed up for the Mongolia Bike Challenge on relative impulse after thinking about vast and beautiful landscapes, scant population, deep historic significance.

Then... the racer package document arrived in my email, and I actually took a detailed read. Now I didn't expect a walk in the park, but now I have the fear of Ghengis in me to train up over the next month or so. Let me post some interesting summaries from the book:

Page 1: A long and challenging race, ..., but more than anything, it will be a very strenuous physical trial and a test of psychological endurance which will try every racer.

Stage summaries:
Distance (km) Climbing (m) Max time
Stage 1   126      2,900           10
Stage 2    126     2,240           10
Stage 3    148     2,000           10
Stage 4    175     2,540           14
Stage 5    45       1,000             4
Stage 6    167     1,730           12
Stage 7    86       1,486             7

Those numbers make my whole body hurt - already. The book also says about stage 3 "the stage finishes with a tough 28 kilometers climb to the finish line", which I'm sure I'll be feeling everywhere in my body as I hop in the saddle for the monumental stage 4.

The "what to bring" section has a notable section on weather. "Rain or snow of minor or major intensity is also possible [at the time of year of the race]", and the gear required is: winter cap, winter gloves, warm socks, winter base layer, rain jackets, rain pants, winter bibs, rain shoe covers, back pack, 8 bottles marked with your number, survival kit, sleeping mat and a -10C sleeping bag.

Like, the yurts don't have heat??

A great, impulsive, adventurous idea has eventually has met the reality that appears it will deliver quite a trial and adventure.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

This isn't just ice cream

The story behind how we ended up on the patio, hipster watching, eating ice cream, evolved through our errands this evening.

We dropped off a bike for a co-worker, then on the way to getting my mountain bike post BCBR, Cindy suggested we stop by the wand carwash. I said I'd rather go through the machine wash next time we fill up. She said it'd be fun, which I disagreed with, yet I obliged.

And what happens when we pull in? There's two bays open. Each is populated at the front, but back is open. Each has a twenty something scantily clad, washing their respective cars. Cindy asks which one I'm going in. I pull into the first one, where some complete hardbody in tight Lulu shorts, a sports bra, flip flops and oversize sunglasses is rubbing some suds into her Civic with Saskatchewan plates. I'd guess she just made $10k last week serving beer at Cowboys as a bonus to regular yoga/fitness instructor income, but that's just for the sake of argument. I can't even make this stuff up how she's just squatting, bending, and really rubbing the soap into that Civic. Cindy says "you owe me DQ for this". No problem... the wand wash was way better than the machine after all.


Sunday 14 July 2013


After a stage race, Stampede, and vaccinations to put my body under, we opted for some R&R. Jasper!

We stayed at Jasper Park Lodge. A 3.5h ride saw 3 bears, a moose, and a big elk. An approaching wall of cloud enouraged us to turn around so we just got a little wet. We played catch with a baseball. We threw in the towel as we saw the second squall approaching - it brought rain, hail and snow when we were eating. We lounged and took in the lake's view.

Through our late lunch, a pianist showed up and walked around to take requests. It's always such a stark reminder how technology has made music available everywhere, but its really just a proxy for music. Sitting 15ft away from a grand piano playing Imagine, Rocket Man, Uptown Girl, and whatever else people requested, has layer upon layer of rich fidelity I rarely get to hear. Perhaps it was the honey lager supposedly brewed with honey straight off the bee hive on the roof that got me thinking about relative talents... that I don't have. I have balance and interpretation of terrain and traction skill so I can ride/ski/drive and see just ahead and carve, but I can't string two notes together to save my life. Bless this guy in an old grey sportcoat who can play anything thrown his way!

Thursday 11 July 2013


Stampede is a culture shock vs. west coast midsummer mountain bike racing.  Corporate parties, booze, cowboy boots and jeans, beef on a bun replace chilling with people, coffee, Lulu wear and flip flops, and seafood and couscous type dishes.  It's actually kind of a tough mental adjustment.

I eased in with our corporate party, but have also had meetings, work stuff going on this week to curtail going to wild.  Tuesday I visited a private museum + bbq of a business associate that blew my mind, more fully descriptive article here and additional photos here.

This is a subtle picture of his Jaguar XK150 on display.  That car was ahead of its time.
Here's an XK 150 picture that doesn't suck as much as the one from my phone did to convey the beauty.

What was once the fastest motorcycle in the world, complete with a memoir of its achievements (and a very sketchy way to ride a motorcycle on speed runs).

Now the links above have way better photos and context of the museum, but let's just say this.  It's amazing, it's underground, and it houses machining/metalurgy/industrial development of mankind artifacts that are supremely restored.  It shows a glimpse into the passionate mind of a lifelong engineer who sees beauty in the utility of machines, and apprecates the interaction between form and function.  The tunnels and cave are completely amazing.  And there's so much more unpictured!  This is the main focus piece, a 60 ton steam engine salvaged from the UK and restored here.  Very impressive!

From there, Stampede took a different tone, patio rooftop party, Ft. Calgary party where Sloan/Cheap Trick/Def Leppard were featuring.  That was a super fun afternoon of mingling with our friends and clientele. 

I was pretty tired the next morning; how people do days on end of drinking in the heat, subsisting on pancakes and beef on a bun, while standing in cowboy boots and western shirts that are hot and don't breathe is mind boggling.  I'd say it's more stamina draining than a 50k mountain bike stage!  Regardless, I  managed to make our building's Stampede breakfast in our courtyard... and lucky I did.  I get this call to come down to building security desk in the front lobby, which is odd so I ask why - I won an iPad in the draw!  15 minutes later my co-worker won ~$400 in the 50/50 draw.  Great!

BC Bike Race aftermath

Trish, Pat and I had a nice afternoon of lounging and eating, then got geared up for the banquet.  It was good, bunch of awards and speeches, the videos are always great, then it was time to get the party going.  Trish and I had a great time after Pat dropped us off, I think I sweat more/burned more calories than during the race.  Good times.

Riding home on the bus the next day, I thought to how BC Bike Race always brings good experiences.  Ride bikes on awesome trails, eat great food, sleep well, meet great people, and just enjoy life.  That's a recipe I can't go wrong with.  It's the most fun race I've ever participated in for its mix of trails, sensible riding quantity, and then just the overall atmosphere.

Saturday 6 July 2013

BC Bike Race Stage 7

Well, it worked out surprisingly nice that I could check into hotel pre-race. Went out for a little warmup, bumped into Trish, and even small inclines felt laboured. I hung back for the first 90 seconds where everyone goes ballistic on the road, which is so pointless as then we go on a gravel road straight up under a chairlift. That's a hard start. About 25 minutes, and in 10 minutes I was in a good spot. I picked up a couple more spots on the gravel traverse over to Crank it up, then proceeded to do just that to the best of my abilities. Norona was behind on his trials motorcycle filming, so we'll see if any of the footage works. I might try to contact him for some of it after, not for vanity, but so I can self assess what I do poorly and what looks effective.

Passed a lot of people on all the jumps, helps having sessioned it before. It's big and wide and people hear you then just say go by, so it's pretty tactful actually. Lots of folks don't get the "lean into the bermed corners and lay off the brakes to rocket around" - if you stay inside line, it's off camber gravel sloping out, and you have zilch for traction.

Hung a right at the bottom and grinded it back up. Got to Sam the world's fastest man on a bike, he's a strong single speeder and makes Naked frames. He let me go by on the right, and right when we started the pass, the bushes on the right stopped and there was a giant washout. I stayed out of a big crash by inches and my heart was in my throat, neither of us saw it. Lucky.

After that it was into the Lost Lake trails, I felt good enough to stay punchy on all the short climbs so it was a fun time, and really enjoyed the technical on the suspension. They inadvertently added a double technical section where we came into the shade so your eyes had to adjust, then find the squiggly little trail with so many roots it looked like forest, then on top of that there was a strong bikini cheering section to take your eyes off finding the trail even more.

Mountain biking is a measure of the vitality of my existence, and this was a good week. So fun not feeling decrepit. It's life, life is good when I can maintain a certain level. I was 22 today and 24 on the week.

One topic I heard endless hours of discussion on this week was dropper seatposts. I still don't get it. North Shore I'm sure they add value on a 6" burly bike. This race is technical, but it is cross country. The top xc racers set most of the best enduro times, or were close. I don't get the logic of adding more weight and complexity to a bike on this terrain, and I can't tell you how many drop post guys I passed. Downhill speed is 95% from your eyes seeing the line, your body following it, your bike staying in control through suspension/tires/brakes. There's maybe, maybe a smidge to add on super steeps or jump sections, but its overall irrelevant. But they seem to be good business these days, so what do I know.

On a humorous note, when I was showering up to get ready for a lunch with Trish, I hear a click, and some dude and his wife walk into the room, also having been given working room keys. Uhhh, as I poked my head out from behind the door and said what's happening out there... maybe that morning check in skipped something in their system.

This was such a fun week. I love seeing Trish do awesome, she was 3rd overall - 2nd place girl is already on a flight back home to New Zealand. Pat was a great fan and supporter, popping up randomly on sides of trails when he was out riding his other stuff.

Friday 5 July 2013

BC Bike Race Day 6

Today was the first day I felt beat up in the morning. Face was so puffy. My left eyelid in particular was puffy enough that it was making pressure on my eye and I was seeing funny. Legs weren't sore, but they also weren't energetic.

I slept in, got a small breakfast, then went for a 20 minute leisurely spin to get flushed a bit.

Road start was intense as usual, 100 person wave. I hung out at the back for the flats where everyone goes ballistic to stay at the front. Then you get a steep climb, long gentle uphill, pave kick again, then into gravel doubletrack for like 5k. I just went sub threshold and ended up where I would normally be on the gravel, then snuck a few spots before the singletrack. Nobody even cares anymore, we recognize jerseys, some guys climb like nobody's business then can't ride trails, and vice versa. I'm kind of average at both so it helps if I can keep working up.

Got into the mini bermed Robs Corners solo and got a good gap, then was alone for the next several kilometers of gravel - eventually got caught by a group of 7. They didn't pull through, and I didn't care, I wanted to work and enter the singletrack first. They either conceded that or were comfortable with my climbing pace as nobody came around. I was working so hard to keep not getting bottlenecked in the singletrack cause my legs felt like garbage and if I wasn't able to keep opening gaps, I'd be going backwards in groups on the road instead of just getting caught by the time the next trail entry was. Half Nelson was awesome as usual, cleared a couple smaller doubles, and it's wide, so when some guy told me to pass I did so by clearing the table top he rolled. Fun! When it thinned out enough that there were just a couple of us who've ridden together for stages/years, we started shooting the shit and I said I was hurting, and they said they were hurting on the trails from hands/arms. Last half was more technical than first, so was just trying to make it there to survive.

I worked hard to pass then stay ahead of those guys on the flat leading into the powerhouse plunge, then let it go. Bike felt great. One guy in front bounced off to a poor left line giving me a straight shot at the right, and as I went by he caught his wheel funny, it went right angle, and he belly flopped onto an entire section of protruding rocks. I got the action cam view. You know how you're on the edge of a skinny? When you can feel the edge of the log fitting into the tread pattern space between the Nobby Nic center lugs and the side lugs!

I got behind some really good guy on Pseudo Tsugah, we passed a couple together, then he just let it rip. Funnest downhilling for speed yet. Tried to just not slow down much in Crumpet woods, milked momentum, and survived. Finished alone on the paths, survived given how I felt.

Matt Hadley won, Trish was 3rd again. I was 21st again in 2h 48min and whatever seconds and was therefore either 25 mins or a half hour faster than last year - which was muddy and slick, and of course that arm thing had me more hobbled.

The champ (Trish) and I did a little afternoon snacking and relaxing together at Two Birds again. We timed it not to miss massages as we're tired and I don't want to be puffy and ailment ridden in the morning!

I napped on the mat by the kids climbing wall and this kid came and talked to me several times. She climbed, showed me her cat costume (pin on tail and ears on her hair band thinger), did cartwheels, and told me about life in general. Very outgoing.

I don't think I mentioned prior, but one addition this year is yoga/stretching each night. Very smart to help people's body's cope with the effort of the event, and very nice settings this year since the weather cooperated.

Thursday 4 July 2013

BC Bike Race Day 5

No commute this morning, just rode from camp in Sechelt. I started in first group as it's more appropriate now that I've ridden myself into shape a bit. Same gravel pit climb to sort everyone out, then into an hour of soft new singletrack. Lots of energy to ride. Trish was doing awesome on the climbs, and all three top ladies were near each other. I saved some energy for the last bit up to the traverse, knowing that is steep and saps energy. Fun all the way through the technical sections.

Funny occurrence number one: this is big tree old forest, and when one blocks trail they just chainsaw out a piece. I went through the channel of one such fallen tree, and it was huge enough that the top of it was almost eye level. As I approach (slowly on a climb) I see something to my left... a little chipmunk had apparently been working up the courage to gap jump to the other side of the log, and launched right in front of me. He was 18" from my eye level just full spread eagle flying across. Hilarious!

We popped out of one trail, did about 100m gravel descent then headed left off into the woods. High speed left on a sketchy corner into the woods, and buddy behind is riding my ass for a pass, he's fast and flatted or something earlier as he was monkeying around on side of trail. But I see the slow sign, he doesn't. He essentially doesn't brake early enough, realizes it, could have slowed down straight and gone in behind me as we were clearly separated going in, but takes the inside as compensation for less braking, forces me to the bush. Dickhead of the week move (I let him know it).

The picture shows the clouds hiding one of the most fun descents I know - Highway 103. Flowy, smooth, fast and fun. It doesn't get much better than this. Funny occurrence two: I'm enjoying the loamy corners, trying to really get to know the side knobs on the Nobby Nics. The Pivot makes carrying a lot of speed really comfortable. I come hauling around a corner, left toward the upslope hill, then right and around the ferns I see a log skinny across a ravine, probably 12" wide log. Not deep, but you've gotta make it across regardless. I see it, and realize I'm not on line and on balance enough to make it across the whole skinny. I picture the flying chipmunk, and set up to hop once I'm to the edge. It could end up flat slamming into the opposing edge, or just enough to squeak by. I was hoping not to splat and crack a frame to shreds like a few have done this week... and I just barely made it. All week my measuring rubber ring on my rear shock hasn't pushed off due to bottoming, but today it was the lowest its been from that hit.

Felt good at the finish. Let it fly on the loose rock section at the bottom. Rolled in smooth, 2:48. I'm not positive, but I think that's actually same time as last year, which is a relative improvement of some un quantifiable amount - chatting to Pat and Trish on the ferry we were trying to guess how much new trail was added in the first bit, and what we concluded was "a bunch" and "it was soft fresh cut chunder trail that sucked energy out of you".

Trish was 3rd again and felt good. I was twenty first again.

I couldn't make my mind up at the food truck in the Langdale ferry terminal, so I opted not to unduly stress out and just got both the tacos and the pulled pork sandwich, then got on the early ferry before the ones with the race, hoping I'd find a ride. Turns out Pat and Trish were on it, and Pat's going riding and we're going for lunch and coffee!

While Trish is checking into the hotel with Pat, I do a work conference call in a quiet room, but drop by the bar and ask if I can have a virgin cesar as I'm craving salty. In another instance of walking flat into good luck this week, she says cesars are on special and that she makes "the best cesars". She was right, it was downright amazing.

Trish and I went for a snack to Two Birds Eatery, named for the lack of males in the... uhh... partnership. Delicious as usual, and we did it in honor of a racer who's not afraid to show those colors either.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

BC Bike Race Day 4 - life doesn't getter better than this!

It's like god has shone down on Bakke and given me a day in the sun. If I expired in my sleep tonight, I'd at least have gone out happy. How can yesterday's riding, food, entertainment and fun be beat?

Let's start with the float plane ride I lucked into. Flying through the fjords to reach Earl's Cove is just beautiful, the little plane was just such an awesome morning experience. Plus it let me sleep on the grass for an hour pre start.

Then let's follow up with my slow paced start, pacing all day, so I could rip the end. I had juice right to the end, and the Pivot and I have a really sweet little relationship developing in the singletrack. Gobs of traction, so smooth. Front end feels reminiscent of a ti sprung Marzocchi Bomber fork I had on a Turner years ago, and the pedaling is straight up efficient but with a plush rear. It's all working right. I end up finishing 21st, 2 seconds off Wendy's wheel - with a class act like her, I'm not dumb enough to ride around at the end. Seeing her on the trail is also a symbolic sight to behold for me - she's a marker that's rock solid steady - we've ridden many a TR and BCBR stage in proximity and I'm back to where I can ride when things are tuned up. I feel on fire. You know, 20's places are junk for actual talented riders, but for my engine that's success. I had such issues this year I was almost believing age was catching up and I was just washing up and it'd all just be the good old days and not feeling as good again. So I just feel so happy.

That's not all... How does it get better yet? Showered up, walked to the park with food. Walk up to the lady with sushi, and she simultaneously marks down prices and tells me there's a sale. She is so nice, I eat 3 boxes of sushi in the shade, on fresh grass, with of course zero mosquitoes, wasabi and soya galore, just enjoying some post race gluttony to the max. She has no idea my price elasticity of demand didn't require any markdowns.

But that's not all. How does it get better yet? Really can this be? The band sets up, she says its her neighbours, they squeeze out a huge melodic squelch out of the system to shock my ears to attention, then let it rip like a class 5 tornado starting off with Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Their set slays metal, grunge, rock classics that I love but don't get to hear as much these days. Some dude is like a trained dancer bringing it all to life, probably has been wearing his blue glasses on the coast for years, spending as many calories as I did today by the looks of it. They finish with My Generation by The Who and do it a very proud honor, then blend into some original just rock out loud piece.

Sometimes life doles out enough luck that you can just bask in the glory for a day. Today is one of those days.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

BC Bike Race Day 3 - Powell River you stole our hearts!

How do you kick it up beyond just fantastic food? Wow... Candle lit arena, roller derby team water service, and this kid singing old Bob Dylan songs and just nailing them. Pictured is the Blonde Tornado, and Slam came by and took my dishes. One muscle-y teenage girl threatened to rough me up when I didn't sign up for enough beer/wine tickets and called me a wuss. Powell River you just stole our hearts!

BC Bike Race Day 3

The Danish guy Erik who was at Andalucia recognized me, which I thought was funny that I didn't blend to the anonymous masses for him there. He said he'd never done this one before, but will definitely be back. I think he's like 6th, doing well. But the trails are blowing his mind, he's been so excited every day that we get hours on end like that.

Dinner was again completely awesome. They're doing very west coast natural healthy, I really like it. Although I forgot to bring hot sauce.

Happy birthday Jon! Maybe one of these years we can throw a birthday for you out here again... if a singletrack buffet is appropriate for a guy like you?!

I'm hanging out with the Hugo and Matt (Xprezo) a bunch, and therefore exposed to more Francias than usual. They're all awesome. Coincidentally today too the volunteer handing out the sleeping mats has been swimming intermittently in her bikini between tent assignment duties. She's upping the admiration of Quebecois among the racing population, and the tent tag/mat lineup is experiencing more loitering than usual.

Today's motto - don't screw up!

Hot at start, and long gravel climb, singletrack interlude, second singletrack is long and counts. Again, I'm starting in second group. Guys drill it, and I'm trying to balance staying in a group vs. riding with my brain/experience for rest of day. I sit in, and guys fire off bullets to get into the first singletrack first. Ok. I cruise along, enjoying the shade. We pop out to the road, I eat and drink, and the group is just hammering. We round the right sweeper, go by the lake, I put my gloves back on (first climb they were too hot), and I know the corner to miles of singletrack is right ahead. One guy snakes me on the way in, I tell him good job, did he know it was coming? He said he was just lucky, but said he was riding too hard and pulled over. Bam! Next hour was mostly solo. Awesome, all to myself. Shady, techy, mild grades, just motored. Cruised through aid 1, solo mostly to aid 2, got one bottle. Nobody around me on the gravel climb until near the top two guys blew by like I was standing still. Road turns left onto flat traverse and they basically coast, I guess they just hammer climbs.

I save some energy for the anti-flow part at the end, would have accelerated if those guys pushed, but knew the energy sap part was coming. Spent as much as I could, it's a full body section - weight, unweight, up and over, acute turn, pedal, repeat in some combo for probably 20 minutes. Try to maintain finesse. Feel decent.

Today's enduro's have pink wire flags most tough turns which helps, my glasses are a bit dark in the woods. The times on the enduros are impressive - there's climbing in all of them and to be posting good times you have to really push those instead of my just coasting descending. Plus you have to just be way better of course.

I caught Trish after enduro 2, got out to road, and shortly caught second place girl on the road. Said hi, she didn't say anything, and got on my wheel. Now of course I couldn't hold my deadgoat head high by aiding Trish's competition, so on the first road roller I burnt a match I otherwise wouldn't have to blow her off. Trish did awesome, another 3rd, and not back as much from 2nd today.

Cruised in... for 24th at about 2:30 for time, with another 4 spots in about the next 50 seconds. Yay! Feels good riding bikes like that, that's a solid day for me. Body is coming around.

Matt moved into 3d in GC with another steady performance, great for him.

Monday 1 July 2013

BC Bike Race Day 2

I sweat buckets walking to dinner. Every time I'm out of the shade, the sun just feels like its assaulting me it's so strong. I'm feeling decently put together, although two of the Mexicans were standing in the sun wearing dark colored sweatshirts and chatting which was a stark contrast to me lying in the grass in the shade dripping my bottle on my head.

We woke up for a solid breakfast, then took busses to the start. I've never had this happen before - you know when you're searching for 10 minutes every stage race morning for your bike somewhere in the racks of 550 bikes? Well today I was walking toward the racks, and I'm like 15 yards out and I see #10 three rows in clear as day. Amazing! Did a little warmup in the shade, but exposed sun was already stinking hot.

I've stuck to second group. I consider it a win/win. There's some 50 year old Italian guy on a 18lb carbon hardtail that drills it off the start on the gravel roads, then can't do singletrack. It's like the perfect launch.

The trails today are in the old forests so plenty of shade. Nearly all technical singletrack. Rooty, rocky, but swoopy and flowy too. It's like I'd died and gone to heaven. The Pivot eats that stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hour after hour, this was just amazing riding. I had a completely awesome day. Open throttle all day. Food went in so easy. Kept drinking. Kept passing* - probably 75 people!

I'd negotiate, and people I knew would let me by. Some didn't. One guy told me to not bother cause it was a hike a bike section... I passed in the rough, and said there wasn't any hike a bike in BCBR ; )

Last section had a road and gravel stretch through town in the heat. My legs just kept turning. I put some electrolyte pills in my Gu blocks package, and meant to dole them out separately, but I ended up chewing them with the gummies. Note that's a surprising taste sensation on the trail, not recommended. They helped a lot though once washed down.

I wish I could bottle it up and always ride like that, man life feels good when you have juice.

So my goals for the day were to improve on yesterday, and catch Trish who was 3 minutes up, which I thought I had a chance of on a 3h dose of flatter technical. I made one of my goals, I was 29th instead of 30th. I was behind Trish at the finish. My energies all went to paying the stupid tax on going off course instead of making forward progress. Kind of ballpark I think maybe a 2:50 was in me without the detour then all the riders to go through, but that's moot. If there was ever an area to do a bonus lap - this was it. Such awesome trails. My heaven would have this and powder skiing galore, plus maybe an uninhabited Baja and a buggy... but I digress.

Camp again is roasting. It's not just me who's sensitive to heat. The big open field has nobody in it. Medical tent, bear's den, trees, cars, building shade are all packed with people. Crossing the field, people walk from one shade to the other. Except when I filled my bottle at the finish line area later and some Mexican lady came in with her lipstick in tact, beaming smiles about the day, and wearing armwarmers and knee warmers. She's a hottie... but apparently doesn't feel the heat. It's just so amusing/baffling to behold how they're basically impervious to the heat.

Trish was 3rd again, and looked pretty fresh at finish. In the 4h since race, I've had three bananas, 2.5 bottles, a savory chorizo, spinach and mushroom crepe, and "AJ's kickass burger" with yam fries. Nap time!

* wait a second Bakke, so if you passed 75 but started behind 50 didn't you win? nope! so early on I was following an Aussie who dropped back from the first group for whatever reason. We bunny hopped a log and kept riding. Turns out it was the wrong trail. But it had pink ribbons - we kept our eyes out for those on the descent. Until we hit a traverse where riders from one of the last groups were going by. We hauled ass back uphill. At the slower uphill speed I could see the pink ribbons had the logo of some other event, looked like a local race. He estimated we were off by 10 mins in total which I agree with. We re-entered behind the group that was 2 after us, although only went through a few of their lead riders, then the whole 50 person group that was the wave after us.