Hornby Island Classic! MTB racing returns on Hornby
June 26th 2011
The Hornby riding has been great. To make things even better, Tig Cross and the rest of the HIMBA (Hornby Island Mountain Bike Association) crew brought back MTB racing to Hornby by hosting the Island Cup XC finals and a super D.
Together with Irah and Dylan, we set up the course a week in advance. I rode with those guys almost daily, and got to know all the secret and 'local' lines. The course had a bit of everything and was a total blast to ride. It climbed Summit, and hit some of the islands best including Toad's ride, Hot Rims, Slick Rock and Dry Line. The laps were long at a 45min race pace, but the length was necessary to hit the best stuff on the island. (almost all the best stuff)
Saturday was the XC. I had close to a dozen friends come up and camp on my property with me. Not having raced all year, and really only having had a couple of weeks of solid training under my belt this year, I didn't really know what to expect, nor did I really have any expectations to preform at all. I wanted to use this race to gauge my fitness level, and asses wether it would be worth hitting nationals and the late season Canada Cups in the coming weeks. But really, I was just so stoked on racing in Hornby again. It has been way too long since the last bike fests, or the more recent 'The Bike Race'.
I was happy to find that the XC started at a reasonably civil pace. I bided my time mid pack up the first part of the climb to see how the legs would react. Evidently, they felt good, and I moved to the front as we went up summit. As we neared the top, I got out in front because I knew I wanted to hit the singletrack first. I knew I could put some time into the field on the descents as I knew these trails better than almost anyone. (discounting locals) My plan worked to perfection, as I entered the trails first, created a gap in the descent, and never looked back from there on in. I was so excited. Legs felt good, and I was nailing all the descents. I stayed consistent through the 3 laps and continually put time into the rest of the field. In my first race of the year, I finished up close to 6 minutes in front of 2nd and 3rd, Greg Day and Colin Kerr respectively. It felt good. I had really wanted this victory!
Sunday was the Super D. We started up at the top of summit and came down Devil's Kitchen, 4 Dead Aliens, Test Tube, Chris and Brads, and finished on the classic No Horses which brought us into Tig's Field. After a night of partying, we were all feeling a little under the weather, but with sunny weather and blue skies, we were primed to take on this wicked course! Most of us decided to wear bright or retro clothing, and I must say Dylan and Drew took the prizes in best dressed for sure! Dylan had his yellow panties overtop of his spandex, and Drew rocked some retro full length purple tights with a T-shirt. Wicked!
I definitely felt a little out of place at the start line with my spandex, high saddles, semi-slick tires and full XC race bike, when I was standing next to dudes with big DH bikes, armor and full face helmets... However, I knew that I rode these trails daily with this set up, and knew I could rip them pretty good. On the day, I had called one of the local guys to take the win, either Dylan, Irah or Case. Knowing from riding with them, I knew they hauled ass on these trails... however, some bad luck and mechanicals took them out of the running, and gave me a chance to pull of the Hornby domination, and the double victory. And that is precisely what I did. Things worked out perfect, I killed the descent, no mistakes, no bobbles and it was just enough to get myself into first place.
I have to say, it couldn't have been any more of a perfect weekend. A hornby island double victory, repeating what I did as a Junior back when it was 'The Bike Race'. Love this island, love these trails!
Pictures to come soon.
Getting back into shape on Hornby
June 20th 2011
Alright. Time to get this thing fired up again. It's been a while, but I can officially say that my racing season has been kicked off. It will be a brief one this year, but should shape up to be a fun one non-the-less.
The delayed start to the year was unfortunately forced upon me. I got quite sick this winter, which took me off my bike for several months. When things started to get back towards normal, I figured that as long as there was no re-laps to getting sick again, I should be able to get a bit of training in, and get ready for the 2nd half of the race season.
To get back into shape, I reclused myself onto Hornby Island. We have a great property there that I camped on, and was fortunate to be able to ride and train daily on the worlds best singletrack! I had a blast, (perhaps a bit too much fun...) but I am up here indefinitely, until I get fit enough to go do some racing. Life doesn't get much better than camping, riding, and splitting wood on the property. Mixed into the fun, is a fair share of ocean swimming, partying and even a fresh venison roast. Delicious!
May 19th 2011
Time has indeed flown by, and I can hardly believe that summer is just around the corner. Now, I wouldn't be able to guess this from the weather we've been having, but the calendar is indicating, and the start of the racing season is confirming, that indeed it is true, and that summer is fast approaching.
With my school keeping me busy these past 9 months, I will be getting a late start to my racing season this year. This is the first year since my Junior years that I don't find myself back east at this time of the year for the first 3 legs of the Canada Cups. Instead, I still find myself plastered in front of my computer, day in day out, completing some extra courses that went beyond the winter term.
At the completion of these courses, I hope to get back to doing what I do best, and love to do most, and that is racing the bike. This year, I am aboard a new steed, as I am incredibly fortunate in being able to pilot a beautiful Trek 9.9SSL bike. This thing is like nothing I've ever ridden before, ridiculously light, incredibly responsive and quick as a whip! Since getting it, there hasn't been a day that I haven't been on it, and I don't foresee that day coming anytime in the near future!
Acknowledging that my time constraints have seriously limited my posts in the winter months, I hope that this trend will change now as things are beginning to calm down. I hope to bring you my first race report of the year soon! Until then.
Back to school
September 9th 2010
Yet another season is done, and I switch gears to focus back onto my academic endevours. This year will be my first year at UBC, where I transfered into the 3rd year of the Human Kinetics Health Sciences program, from spending the past few years at Langara College. With 6 courses coming up in this fall term, it promises to be a busy one which will, I'm sure, make time fly by!
End of TR
August 16th 2010
Yeah... the stage reports definitely dropped off... It's just so difficult to find the time or the energy to seek out the internet, make your fingers translate your mind's thoughts after a hard and draining day on the bike. However, the race is done! Another epic! (aren't they always!) After mechanicals, dead legs, pain, suffering, mud, cow shit, snow, hail, rain... and the odd bit of sunshine, Marty and myself rolled into Canmore for the completion of day 7, just glad to have survived yet another Trans-Rockies. We finished in 2nd, once again behind the Kona boys, who were all year, a level above us. My congratulations and my hat gets tipped to Sneddon and Wicks. Good job boys. Unrelenting pace all week!
Now it's off for some enjoyment and down to Colorado where I will experience the other side (fun side?) of the Trans-Rockies experience. I will go down to the TR run in Colorado and work with the staff who put on such incredible races and events year after year. I have a feeling my liver will be getting a much harder workout next week then my legs will. Just the way I want it!
Day 2 - Fernie to Sparwood
August 9th 2010
Like predicted, that first climb was an absolute killer! 30km in length on a mix of dirt road, quad trail and single track. 1000m vertical ensured that the first 1:45 hours of our day were spent go up, up, and some more up.
As if the climb wasn't going to be hard enough, the day started out with people attacking and pushing the pace left right and center. This is the nature of TR, that see teams that have no business of being in the front want their 5 minutes of fame and lay down an insane pace! All it takes if for 1 of the top teams to jump on their wheel to make everyone jump, not wanting to be left behind. That's how it went today. The pace was fast and furious, with many of the TR3 guys pushing the throttle. Since Kona got on with them, we had to as well, while all the time, I'm just thinking to myself we should just be letting them go as they should be quicker. They only have a 3 day race... whereas, we are going to need to slug it out for 7 days! This is how it went right to the top, being constantly extended, then over extended, yoyoing on and off the back of the pain train that was dieseling up the side of the mountain.
We survived it, cresting the top with Kona and loosing all the elevation we had just gain, in a screaming fast downhill for 4 km's. At the bottom, we joined up with a fire road for the remainder of the stage that would take us into Sparwood.
Just as it had been in the climb, the fire road section had me and Marty digging deep, as Kona was setting a steady but very hard pace. Hard enough that with 20km to go, we just could no more and tailed off to ride a bit more within us. We let them go, surrendering 6 or so minutes to them by the end. Hats off to them, they are riding incredibly strong right now and simply rode us off their wheels!
In the TR3 race, Wallace was absolutely dominant today, as he put the boots to both Plaxton and Craig, taking the stage win. The other two came in 20 or so seconds later, together, so Plax kept his 1 minute lead. In the open Women, Magi and Kate came in 2nd again today, and just like us, held their own on the climb and the descent, but came apart a bit on the long undulating fire road section into the finish.
Tomorrow is one of the longest of the week, as we traverse across the continental divide to make our way into Kananaskis Country.
Day 1 - Fernie TT
August 8th 2010
After having arrived in Fernie amidst thunderstorms, the cloudy skies clear yesterday to make way for a nice sunny and warm day. The trails were tacky and perfect, not wet but with no dust either. The forecast showed nothing but sun symbol and a 0% chance of rain, so when we went to bed, to the sound of rain drops on the RV roof, we were a little perplexed. This uneasiness continued throughout the night when the pitter patter wouldn't stop and sure enough it continued in through the morning. How dare my iphone fail me!!!
So, in keeping with tradition from last year's TT in Nipika, Day 1 brought us a slip and slide in and around the Fernie trail system. The climb that I middle ringed up last week with Magi, proved barely rideable in the granny and traction was a hot commodity to come by. That first climb was a killer steep pitch which took us a while to get into the rhythm of but the descent was a blast and made the pain and suffering worth it. The greasy terrain that gave us so much trouble on the way up, seemed to guide and slide us right into the corners letting our rear wheels slide into line with our fronts with ease. Its conditions like these that make me appreciate the technical descending skills that I've acquired when I was young. It was a day that took many of the euro's who aren't used to this terrain out of their comfort zone and into a new league of riding.
By the first feedzone, we were 40 seconds down, which we managed to keep throughout most of the rest of the race. We struggled a bit at the end, but managed to create a good cushion to 3rd, and limit the damage to Kona to 1:07 minutes. Not bad when you consider we rode completely independently of each other, making us quite evenly matched over a 2 hour race! Should make for good and hard days to come!
In the TR3 event, Plaxton took the win getting himself a 1 minute gap on Adam Craig (Giant), with Correy Wallace (Kona) taking third. Magi and her sister Kate also started the week off well, riding to a 2nd place in the open women's division, some 5 minutes back of the leaders.
Tomorrow we go off at 6, and start the day off with a cool 1000m vertical climb! That will put us in the hurt locker in a hurry!
Ready to go in Fernie
August 7th 2010
We go off in less then 24 hours. We arrived in Fernie yesterday evening amidst rain, hail and thunder storms. It got so bad at times that cars in front of us were hydroplaning from left to right and Marty, who was driving, was either holding the 'oh shit' bar himself or trying to steady the wheel with two grips of death on the wheel. The speed went right down as it was near impossible to see out the front window even when the wipers were going full tilt.
This morning was much more pleasant. We awoke to a fog, but at least it was dry... The sun burnt through the fog to make way for a smoky haze created from the forest fires that pretty much surround us. Spence, our mechanic got our bikes clean and dialed, and Marty and myself went to get a spin in and checked out part of the Time Trial tomorrow. As of now, we seem to be going off at 1:59pm tomorrow, 1 minute behind the Kona boys, Sneddon and Wicks, of whom we will try our best to track down and catch.
The course begins with a killer climb that goes up steeper and steeper for a good 30 minutes. There are many places to look ahead and (hopefully) spot who's ahead and keep them within sight. Time trials are always hard that way, needing to motivate and push yourself, without really being able to gauge how you are doing compared to your competitors...
We signed in this morning and received our #1 race plates as the defending champions. Despite last year's result, this year will be a whole other beast with many quick teams vying for the win. After the spanking that Kona gave us at BCBR, I would appoint them as being the favorites for the race, but I'm looking forward to making it a hard and competitive race.
Here we go!
T -2 days till go-time!
August 5th 2010
This last week has been flying by! It's already Thursday and Marty, Spence and Tara fly into Calgary tomorrow! One more sleep in Magi's cushy king sized luxury bed before it's into the RV for me and off for a week of pain, suffering and... of course FUN!
Yes, despite my apprehension, I am still looking forward to this upcoming week. It will be a week of great riding, even better scenery, and awesome company. Like Magi said: TR is like summer camp for adults! (even though I was never one of those 'camp kids', you know the type I'm talking about) Magi will also going to be racing with her sister Kate again, and will try to defend their win in the open women's division from last year!
The weather has finally turned into something that somewhat resembles the thing they call summer, and I hope it's here to stay for the week so we don't go through the hardships of cold, wet and mud that we did last year. Canmore has been so up and down when it came to weather this summer, so when packing, I was forced to throw in all my winter gear as well, as snow, hail, torrential rain are all possibilities and even likely... please no!
Posting will be daily from here on in, as I was told that TR will have a roaming Wi-Fi signal traveling with the race! This is incredible considering the remote terrain the race will take us into and is brought to us by Data Drill! Let the fun begin.
Broken bits + little red pills = disappointment mid-season
August 3rd 2010
OK, OK. I know it's been a while since I've posted... actually it's been more like a very long time since I've posted... Things had not been going too well and like I've explained before, it's really hard to sit down and re-hash the bad stuff. But now enough time has passed that I finally convinced myself to sit down and do a post-mordem on the last month... here goes:
So let me give you a bit of a re-cap to where I'm at. BCBR was the beginning of the end for me. I was feeling good going into it, and that feeling lasted 3 days at the race. All things came crashing and burning down on day 4 and I was never able to recover properly. After the race, I took nearly the whole week off to try and rebound for the Edmonton Canada Cup, and when things didn't really look up after that race, I was worried. The season's biggest race, Nationals, was coming up the following weekend in Canmore, my summertime hometown. At Nationals, I was trying to have a good showing to attempt to qualify for the Canadian National Team going to Saint-Anne for World Championships...
After Edmonton did not go as planned, I could tell things in my body were just not right. I was very tired, despite putting in good 10-12 hour sleeps and my legs felt as if they were made of lead when I was on the bike. I went to the doctor here in Canmore to get some blood work done, to see if anything was out of whack, and sure enough, I was low in Iron. At least now, I knew I wasn't going crazy and could attribute my fatigue to something... Why I am low in Iron, I don't know, as I've never had this problem and I don't know why all of a sudden I wouldn't be absorbing it as well as I had been. My red meat consumption and dark leafy green's intake is as good as ever, and I was even choking down liver once a week to try and avoid this... Alas, it was what it was, and now I have some little red pills to take a couple times a day...
After mostly resting for the week before Nationals, I still hadn't thrown in the towel, as I knew this course well and felt comfortable on it. Throughout the week, I was trying to convince myself that I was starting to feel better and that the race would go alright... Race day came under perfect conditions and although I wasn't feeling great, it was not awful. I had a good start, a terrible 2nd and 3rd lap, but then came on in the 4th lap. I was hovering outside the top ten, until I passed a good 4-5 people on the 4th. Unfortunately, just coming around the Start/Finish area to go onto my 5th and final lap, my chain somehow got wrapped in my derailleur and the carbon cage failed in catastrophic fashion... nothing I could do. Race was done. No Worlds for me this year...
With a 3 week break until Trans-Rockies started, I took some time off after Nationals to collect myself mentally and try and rest myself physically. A week or so latter, I started back up on the bike, but just kept it fun and unstructured. I've been mountain biking most days, and Magi and myself took a few days to go camping and riding in Fernie.
The only racing I've done since Nationals, was a few laps for a team in the 24hrs of adrenalin. Yes, I par-took in the carnival, but it was for a team that was short on riders... I offered my services, but they came with many restrictions for which I was maybe called a bit of a prima donna a few times... but really, I really did not want to pull any night laps, or stay in a chammy for the better part of 24 hrs, and my sleep... worth way too much! So my restrictions were: I only wanted to do 2-3 laps, only during the first afternoon, I wasn't going to pull any night laps, and didn't want to do the first lap as it involved a running Le Mans start... so, I said take it or leave it, and they went for it. I did laps 2, 4, and 6 on a 5 person team and had quite a bit of fun! There was no pressure, and it was a beautiful day. I went out for a hard workout and tried, and succeeded, to throw down the fastest lap of the race. Success!
Now, less then a week out from Trans-Rockies now, and I truly don't know how it will go. Well, I know it's going to be very hard and very painful, but I don't know how the legs and the body will respond. I'm going in with nervousness because of this, but will try to keep it light and fun.
Edmonton Canada Cup Report
July 12th 2010
Edmonton came and went, and I'm now back in Canmore. The event was everything a bike race should be, with the event organizers Mike and Evan doing a phenomenal job running this event. The race site had a great expo, food vendors, music and announcing, and best of all, a beer garden right beside the course. All of this gave this race the best atmosphere that a Canada Cup has ever had! Good job guys and thank you for the countless hours of hard and trying times that you put into this event. Also, I know Mike and Evan are the front men of the event, but a huge thanks to all the rest of the volunteers and dedicated spouses (Liesje, Tara) that made this event go off with a bang!
Now to the race... As predicted the day before the race, the sun came out and dried out the course wonderfully! The sticky mud became a tacky hard packed surface and the dust was kept at bay. The course was top notch and very deceivingly difficult. The climbs were steep, short and punchy, but for me the hardest was the slight uphill twisty turny single track with the endless roots which made it impossible (for me at least) to get any momentum and flow going. It was a hard slog to power over the roots and pick the right lines. Power is the key word for this race; needed in the climbs, the single track and the flats.
My race left a lot to be desired. Granted, I entered this weekend without many expectations, coming off a disastrous week (physically) at BCBR, I came with the goal of trying to snap out of the stage race funk and gain some speed back into my legs. A day after my race, I am able to reflect back and find a few positive points to build upon, where as yesterday, it was all doom and gloom as things were crumbling for me a week before the biggest race of the season...
The race started alright. My team mate Marty set the tempo up front, and the field strung out in the single track. I was probably sitting around 6th wheel, feeling fairly comfortable at the pace we were going. A split got created at the only mud section of the course where somebody dabbed and we all had to hustle off our bikes to run the section. This unfortunately separated us from the front guys who were able to ride the section. After that, I formed a chase group together with Watson, Morka and Jette but with every passing lap, felt my power diminish and I began struggling in the single track. A few dabs of my own let a gap get created to the group and things began unravelling quickly. Once I lost the group, my will to push diminished as my will to quit increased. It took a lot of mental power to stay the course and ride it out. For the last 2 laps (of 6), I felt like I was just doing a steady group ride, trying just desperately to get to the finish.
In the end, I was a ways back from the guys I normally race with and finished up 11th. Not stellar in my expectations and once again, I was disappointed. However, I am really glad to have finished and pushed through to the end and know the speed was there, which I was able to put to work in the first few laps. Now I just need to rest up, do some yoga, and take care of my body for the week leading up to Nationals. Sleep and eats will be a plenty. (and probably coffee too)
Top results were: Zandstra took the win with Watson in 2nd, Sneddon 3rd, Lazarski 4th and Batty 5th.
Saturday is the day. I think we go off at 2pm and I will do my best to be as ready and as prepared as I can be. I have by no means thrown in the towel and still believe I can rebound out of this funk.
Edmonton Canada Cup!
July 10th 2010
The Canada Cup Series resumes tomorrow in Edmonton Alberta. After a week of rain, the river valley was a slip and slide course up until this morning, but with some sun peaking out and a good weather report for tomorrow, the course will be in mint condition, with the dust kept at bay and the ground nice and tacky!
Super pumped to get this going again, test out the legs after the horrendous (but fun) week at BCBR. This event is always run top notch, with atmosphere at the race site, and even with a beer garden this year! That's definitely where you'll find me after the race basking in the sun!
Once again, I applaud Edmonton for putting together such a great event in the heart of the city. It is so rare for us to be able to race in an urban setting, which allows us to expose new people to this sport. I'm looking forward to the day tomorrow, just hope my wrist holds up...
Update and report on the race as soon as I'll get to it tomorrow night.
BC Bike Race Day 7: The End has Arrived!
July 3rd 2010
Day 7: Whistler. The LAST day!!!
Today we finished, ended this seemingly endless week. It's a tough week to wrap my head around, not knowing what happened to me physically, killing my confidence and creating a doubt whether or not i'll be able to get my snap back in time for nationals in two weeks. With all that in mind, BCBR brought me to some of the sweetest trails I have ever ridden in my life! The days and trails were truly phenomenal and exposed me to places I am sure to go back to for some more exploration.
With Rocky, we had some of the best crew with us to help us out all week. I owe Tara, James, Kieran, Peter, James and Amanda a huge thanks because without them, I would have been in a world of more pain! These stage races are so tough to compete on their own, so having such a great group of staff able to take care of all of the rest is a massive help! We were treated to massages each day, a food spread at the end of each stage, clean and perfect bikes to start each day (like they were out of the box) and logistics and transportation all sorted and organized. Thanks guys!
All in all, I am disappointed with how the race played itself out, but I am extremely glad and lucky that I got the opportunity to take part in this one of a kind race. For anyone out there that wants to ride a full week of the best single track around, BCBR definitely needs to be on your list of races to complete! Truly incredible! We came to the race with the idea and goal of contending for the win, but as it turned out, we finished up in the 3 spot, a ways back from our competitors... Now it's time to put this one behind me and refocus and try and get my groove back for Nationals in 2 weeks!
Now I'm heading back to Canmore on Monday, will try and heal up my body and tune up my speed at Edmonton Canada Cup next weekend.
BC Bike Race Day 6: Status Quo
July 2nd 2010
Not much of an update... The legs are still hiding themselves from me, incredibly frustrating as I see others ride away from me...
Now, in addition to my defunct legs, I am also struggling in the downhills, as my wrist injury is severely deteriorating and can barely support me anymore. Although it feels like a fracture now, with very sharp, acute pain with every bump and drop, it must be a muscular injury occurring from overuse? because there was no crash... it has really gotten worse and worse every day and now my forearm is permanently swollen looking more like a kankle then a wrist... Ice, Ibu, stims, arnica... nothing is keeping it at bay...
Today's Squamish stage hit some sweet trails including 'Hoods in the Woods', the new 'Half Nelson' and ended in Crumpet Woods. Unfortunately, due to my ailments, I was suffering on the uphills as well as the downhills. We ended up riding for most of the day with Pendrel, Kabush and Prado. Going at what seemed to be a snails pace, we made our way through the day to a 2nd place finish in the teams, but a ways back from the leaders...
Unfortunately, the few minutes we put into DCM today won't matter after the 14+ minute loss yesterday... Oh well, now it's a matter of getting through this week, try and enjoy some of the riding, and hold down the podium position.
BC Bike Race Day 5: From Bad to Worse
July 1st 2010
Day 5: Seshelt to Langdale ferry terminal.
Rain, cold, miserable weather is what we awoke to this morning. I had a great sleep though, so I was feeling cautiously optimistic that I would be able to rebound from yesterday's disaster. We started almost even with DMC in the morning, hopping to be able to hang onto their wheel for the day...
My optimism was slashed and dashed going up the first climb, up a sandy road in a gravel path. Once again, nothing in the legs... I'll spare you the repetition from yesterday's post, pretty much just copy and paste it into here...
Nothing there, just was no point to really stress the situation, cause there was nothing I could do. Marty was good about it all, just cruising along side me, telling me not to stress. Pretty much, I'm just disappointed in myself, unable to really explain what is going on. I'm at a loss...
On a more positive note, killer awesome trails today, fun, flowing single track for 12km, coming down to the Langdale Ferry lot. Day was muddy and cold, miserable weather, but the riding made up for it...
DMC took the stage, don't know yet how far ahead of us, but unless I have a miraculous rebound, it doesn't look like it will matter much... we stayed ahead of the 4th place team, trying not to pummel in the standings... Seggar once again put some time into Shep, who had some breathing problems halfway through the stage, so his lead on the solo is around 8 minutes now. We ended up coming in with Tonkin (Kona) and Ben (Trek), just glad to put one more day under the belt.
Up to Squamish now, for the stage tomorrow, then it's Whistler after that for day 7! yay, I'll be put out of my misery (physical, not enjoyment) in two days! Don't know what else to say...
BC Bike Race Day 4: Melt Down!
June 30th 2010
Day 4: Hump day! Earls Cove to Seshelt. (on the Sunshine Coast)
Boom. Detonation. This will be a short entry. Incredible how much harder it is to get motivated to re-hash and write the days events after a bad day... Damn.
Nothing going. Nothing in the tank, and absolutely nothing in the legs. Got up this morning unrested and feeling really tired. I had a bad feeling right off the bat. My legs were not feeling great and I was worried.
My worries were more then justified as I crashed out hard, right off the get go. Killer steep and long climb off the bat, where I was just unable to hold the pace of the front group... Shit, I was in trouble. I set it into damage control, because I could feel that this was not going to be a temporary thing. I needed to get through this day one pedal stroke at a time...
I felt bad for Marty because I was creeping at a snails pace. I couldn't push up the hills or go hard on the downhills. (wrist injury) I was a mess, everywhere on the trail. We spent lots of the day riding with Wallace, who was not feeling tip top either, and sparing you any of the details, we got into the finish in one piece, but lost the 10 minutes we gained on DMC yesterday. Sweet. (not)
Blown apart, I was down and out. Some laundry, some food, some beer, I hit the sac at 8:30pm and slept until our 6am alarm clock went off.
By the way, the day ended with Shep taking the stage, the Kona boys and Seggar in after them, and DMC a while back (but a ways in front of us) along with Kerr. Shit!
BC Bike Race Day 3: A Good Day on the Bike
June 29th 2010
Day 3: Powell River. The BCBR crew kept this course well under wraps, and as it's never been used in the race before, we were all in for a surprise for the day.
It was an early wake up in Cumberland, as we got up and packed up at 6am, then took the ferry from courtney over to Powell River. From there, the race start/finish was 1km from the dock and we got the stage underway by 1pm. There was a cool breeze coming off the ocean, but other then that, skies were blue and the sun was shining.
The day started off fast, with a climb right off the bat, and the DCM boys putting in a good pull to spread the field out. From there, Marty and myself took the lead to control the pace to our liking. We lead it out through the double track and jeep track climb and into the singletrack. At that point, we were a group of 12 or so, with the 3 top paired teams, and a group of the top single men. Off the front of us was Seggar, from the Jamis team, and sitting in second behind Sheppard. While we kept the motor on in the single track, no one really wanted to pull hard in the fire road sections against the headwind, and before we knew it, Seggar was over 7 minutes up on us. This wasn't as big of a deal to Marty and me, as he was racing in the solo's, but our team mate Shep was getting a bit worried, seeing the gap in his lead disappear.
Shep was confident that we would real him back in, so we plugged away at the single track. The trails were super techy and rooty, some freshly cut but in general, pretty slow going with the mass amounts of roots to grind yourself over. The pace was solid and one by one the group got smaller until, by the second feedzone, there was only 5-6 of us. Unfortunately, this is also where things came unglued for us. We stopped for water at the feedstation, and the Kona boys, with their massive and jitty camelbaks, powered through, getting a gap on us. Unfortunately, with the nature of these trails, we were unable to close up the gap, and unfortunately our pace slowed a bit until the end...
By the end, I was quite blown, but we had managed to put 12 or so minutes on our South African friends, giving us 10 minutes up on them for 2nd place overall. We once again lost time to Kona, but credit is given where credit is due, as they are riding killer strong and have been very impressive! Seggar stayed away (very impressive) but Shep limited his damage as he got back within 1 minute of him.
With camps set in a beautiful park right by the ocean, the evening will be an enjoyable one. A beer in one hand, a water in the other, all is well in stage racing land!
Tomorrow we are up for another early morning and another ferry, as we start in Earls Cove and ride to Seshelt.
BC Bike Race Day 2
June 28rd 2010
Day 2 is in the books. We transfered to Cumberland last night ahead of the race, which gave us a nice an relaxing morning before the race kicked off at 10am. Rolling to the start line with bikes that look like they just came off the shelf, I can only give props to Kieran and Peter from rocky for taking good care of the rides!
Today took us our along the river valley towards Forbidden Plateau, where we climbed for a steady 10 km to the top of a killer decent! The pace was once again quite civil in the early goings, keeping close to a group of 30 at the front of the race. Once we hit the hill however, all bets were off. Manny Prado got things going with a blistering attack off the front which was only answered by Tonkin of Kona, but the pace quickened as DMC climbed their super light Cannondales to the front. My legs were like cement, with no power whatsoever in them feeling like they would fill with lactic acid with every pedal stroke we took. Once again, we saw DMC and Kona ride away from us, and it left me feeling completely helpless.
At the top of the climb there was a feedstation, and having learned from our mistake yesterday, we stopped, had a gel and filled up the bottles. Then, we were off again to try and make time in the decent.
Super fun decent, killer technical, and a few mistakes were made as I elected to take a ramp thinking it was an A-Frame with a ramp down the other side only to find it was a jump, a launch or a gap... Sweet, on a XC bike, not the situation to get into. We still managed to make up a ton a time, and there were again a few infront of us that we could see. We reeled in Colin and Wallace and DMC was in site for us on the last climb of the day. We continued to plug away, and I definitely got stronger at this point in the day, knowing the finish was close by.
We ended up catching DMC in the last bit of singletrack but were unable to pass, and rolled into the finish right behind them. Once again, we lost 2-3 minutes on Kona, but again, it's still early in the week and lots can still happen.
Tomorrow starts at noon in Powell River after a ferry ride in the morning. If there is internet available, I will once again post an update, otherwise I'll post something brief on the Face Box...
BC Bike Race Day 1
June 27rd 2010
Today, the race started in earnest. None of this 8 minute prologue business, the race was on for real, starting from the BC Ferries docks in Nanaimo.
After a tour through Nanaimo with a police escort, not only from a car but also from two cops on bikes, we made our way up to the trails and the pace quicken considerably. Everyone was testing out their legs, testing out each other, to see who was who, and where one stood. A front group of 10 or so formed at the front with a mix between solo riders and teams. Once established, the pace stayed quite civil, until Sheppard rode off the front just before the first feed station. Trying to close the gap back to him, we (stupidly) skipped the feedstation and started the chase. Unfortunately, this was in vain anyway, as a detour down the wrong trail, put a hamper on bringing him back. But in all reality, Shep was in a class of his own, and no one was going to bring him back.
Between the Kona guys and Marty and I, we took turns leading through the endless but unbelievably awesome single track until we hit a nice little kicker of a climb, just before the 2nd feedstation. DMC team, (out of South Africa) attacked, and took the Kona guys with them. Marty and myself struggled to hold the pace and Kona was gone, while DMC came back to us. Unfortunately, our chase was once again foiled by a handfull of wrong turns (none super major) and then on the last climb of the day, our decision to not hydrate or feed adequately came back to bit us as Marty hit the wall. We tried to limit the damages by ripping the final decent, but it was too much to make up.
Ultimately, we lost 3 or so minutes to Kona, and another 1+ minutes to DMC. Currently, we are sitting in 3rd overall, less then a minute to DMC.
Tomorrow is supposed to be shorter, closer to the 2.5 hour range, and we hope that we can rebound and come back strong. The loop is in Cumberland, where I've done some riding and the single track is sure to be killer again!
BC Bike Race is a go!
June 26rd 2010
Prologue is in the books! For a sub 8-minute race day, I am surprisingly tired...
Quick update, Marty and myself registered in the morning and after we were equiped with our sweet Dakine bags full of Planet Foods swag and goodies, we got our bikes to warm up? for the prologue??? Hard to decied how long you 'warm-up' for an 8 minute race...
With 30 second intervals, riders went out, up the hill to the predicted Richard Juyrn trail where a quick 'north shore' style decent brought us back to the start/finish area. Marty went off before me, and I was trying to chase him down. 5 minutes of climbing and 3 minutes of descending, we were all done. I felt like we'd hardly got going, but there it was... a true prologue.
So the results... Just have some brief ones, as they haven't been posted yet, but they handed the first yellow jersey's out and... we didn't get it. Sneddon and Wicks are in yellow, and Marty and I are chopping on their heels, a whooping 1 second back. That's right, only 1 second back. Looks like it will set up for a tight week of racing!
In other notable categories (that I can remember off the top of my head), team-mate Chris Sheppard is leading the solo's, Kabush and Pendral lead the mixed, and I don't think that will change all week...
Tomorrow is Nanaimo. Sleep number one in the RV is coming up, as Marty's house on the North Shore is stuffed, so Shep and me are getting a head start on the RV living! Heck yeah! Early wake up tomorrow as we take the ferries over to the island, to start what looks to be a good 3-4 hour opening stage.
It is on, like Donkey Kong!
BC Bike Race in... 1 sleep!
June 25rd 2010
We go off tomorrow! Day Zero is I think what they call it. It's a 7 day stage race plus... a prologue on Day Zero...? BC Bike Race kicks off on the North Shore and I will be doing it with my team mate and Trans Rockies partner Marty Lazarski.
I'm all packed up and my bike is spotless, and am looking forward to getting it started. It's been a week of recovery rides and waiting around for the day to come, full of nervous anticipation.
Tomorrow is a short prologue in a time trial format. We go off around 1:30pm from Inter River Park near Capilano University. From there, I am guessing we will ride up towards the reservoir and take Richard Juryn trail back down. That's only a guess though, so I'll find out for sure when I get there... The format has me riding separately of Marty and the slowest of our times will count towards the GC. (or at least that's the way I understand it...) I'm still quite unsure of the other teams that are racing, so after this warm up, we should have a better idea of what teams to look out for!
Depending on internet availability, I will try and post an update after every stage during the race. Stay posted for brief results and play by play on how the day went.
Volunteers Needed at Canmore Nationals
June 25rd 2010
Want to build up your Karma points...
The Nationals organization is still looking for VOLUNTEERS in order to be able to host a successful week of racing. If you will be in Canmore for the week/weedend of July 15-18th and are either watching or accompanying a racer, please consider helping out for any of the other (multitude) events. Even if you only have an afternoon available, there is always something that can be done. (set up, take down, traffic control...)
For more information and to contact the volunteer coordinator, please email:
Canmore Nationals News
June 23rd 2010
Information for Canadian Nationals has been released! Among it, there is good news and there is bad news... which do you want first? I'll start with the good news:
Exciting for this year, Canadian Nationals will be broadcast LIVE on the web. The race will have a live webcast with 5+ camera positions, capturing and following the races from start to finish! This is incredibly exciting to be able to have the rest of the world able to watch the race in the same manner and quality that World Cups are broadcast in! With the #1 ranked woman (Catherine Pendrel) and one of the worlds top males (Geoff Kabush) present at the race, there will certainly be interest in our race from the rest of the world! This webcast is being produced by a company in Colorado and will be available for all the major cycling websites. So instead of following lap by lap updates, people will be able to watch and follow the race with parallel and live timing included on the feed!
Second bit of exciting news... there will be Lululemon Bike Wash Girls!!! Oh yeah, that's right! Lululemon will provide a bike wash by donation! Sign me up!
Third, the evening of entertainment on Saturday is coming together. The organizers are kicking off the night's activities by holding the award ceremonies in the evening, downtown in the street! It sounds like the awards will be full pro, with a flower ceremony immediately at the event, and the awards kicking off the party downtown later. A full post race party will be held downtown with DJ. From what I hear, it will be FREE entry for racers, and $10 cover (I think) for others, which includes a drink ticket. (still to be confirmed)
And lastly, there will be a BEER GARDEN. As it stands, the beer garden will be front and center in the race, with a great view of the technical 'eye dropper' section, so for once, you won't need to choose between drinking a cold one or watching the race, you'll be able to do both at the same time!
Now for the bad news...
Unfortunately, the organizers, for some completely unknown reason, decided NOT to use the new Canmore course that we raced on a few weeks ago at the Iron Lung. This decision does not make sense to me, as the course got absolutely RAVE REVIEWS after the race by ALL the competitors, from the elites to the beginners. It was challenging, diverse and incredibly FUN! It took into account not only the racers, but also the spectators, giving numerous great spectator viewing sites, all within walking distance!
How is it different? well, the first half is fairly similar, but where it is really disappointing, is that after the new 'Laundry Chutes", the course takes you way out, away from the stadium, out to "Shorty's Chute" and then returns to the stadium via a ski trail, of which part of it is paved?!? This sets up for a downhill finish, making it very hard to make up time at the end...
This diversion out to "Shorty's Chute" replaces the highlight of the Iron Lung course, the lower part which descends down the incredibly fun pump track called "Soft Yogurt" and then legendary steeps of the "Devonian Drop"! This change in the course is especially disappointing considering the event will be broadcast live on the internet. The two trails that are left out would have provided for unbelievable footage on camera, and would have definitely provided a fan favorite spot to watch! It would have looked incredible on camera!
So why did they not use it? Who knows... I can not come up with a reason... the changes in the course do not add or contribute anything from the course, on the contrary, I believe it severely detracts from the course we raced in the Iron Lung... It's really unfortunate because the organizing committee really had a chance to provide a course that would have garnered rave reviews and been fun for everyone, showcasing a world class race out to the world!
Ultimately, I just really think it was a missed opportunity...
Leaking tires and tail-pipe at Test of Metal...
June 21st 2010
A quick recap of this past weekend's race in Squamish, the legendary 'Test of Metal'. This race is an institution, a staple in the Canadian race scene! Incredibly, it sells out it's 1000 spots every year in 15-20 minutes!
This year, a bad weathered spring made way for sunshine and perfect condition come race day. The trails were tacky by not too wet, and lining up at the head of the race, was a world class field! Most of Canada's best were present, setting up for a hard and quick race!
I was excited to be in town this year for this race, having driven back from Canmore on Thursday. This was the first time I was going to be back in Vancouver since my last exam at school. Yep, it's been a while.... When it comes to the Test of Metal, I have never had the best of luck. I'm either usually racing elsewhere on that weekend or when I have been here, have been hampered by bad weather or mechanical failures... this year seems to have followed in that trend...
After getting back from Canmore, I was feeling good and enjoying the nice weather. Unfortunately, my body had a little surprise in store for me, hitting me with some leaky plumbing on Friday afternoon. I was up most of the night before the race, and tried to stem the 'flow' with a solid dosage of Immodium... It was either going to work, or my race was going to be a different one from the rest of the field... I would be racing to the first port-a-potty along the course...
After a very uncomfortable morning and a queazy stomach, I did line up next to this incredible field (Plaxton, Kabush, 10 past TOM winners, Sneddon, Lazarski, Hadley, Wallace and I could go on and on...) and gave it my best. My legs were not feeling too bad, as I dug deep to get myself into the mix for the lead group and began the race riding with Kabush, Lazarski, Plaxton and Sneddon.
The way it played out was that Kabush turned on the jets at the bottom of Jack's trail, while Snedds set the pace of our foursome chasing. The pace was quite hard, and I was definitely not feeling at ease... At Alice Lake, Kabush already established a healthy lead and now Marty and Snedds were taking hard pulls at the start. Plaxton and myself were dangling off the group while I just barely hung on, Plaxton didn't have his legs under him that day, and dropped off the group.
I suffered to stay in the group until the feed-zone, but let the two gap me going up 9 mile climb. After the long climb, I had some time to make up, so I pushed it quite hard going down Ring Creek Rip, which turned out to be the wrong decision as half way down, I double flatted and saw my race go down the drain...
I only had 1 tube, so I tries to seal up the wholes with my CO2 and the Stan's in the tire, but it did not work, so I was resolved to walking out... A few minutes down the trail, I came across some First Aid volunteers, who had a 2nd tube I could use. So, I fixed up my flats while chatting with them, and while cheering on my competitors going by. A while later, I was re-inflated and ready to roll. Initially set on rolling to the nearest exit point and taking the shuttle out, I instead decided to roll through the last 40 minutes of the race and finish it up. I'm glad I did that, just felt good to finish up what I started. No doubt disappointed with how the whole day went, I would rather get my bad luck over with and look ahead to the week coming up at BCBR! Lots of racing to be had with the biggest and most important ones still to come!
Let's hope I can change my luck at the Test of Metal next year if I tackle it again! The race ended with Kabush taking the win over Sneddon, with Lazarski in 3rd, Wallace in 4th and Hadley, after suffering an early mechanical, fighting his way back to 5th!
Recap of Iron Lung + Organ Grinder races
June 14th 2010
This past weekend provided me with the rare opportunity to be able to race 'at home', or at least in the town where I've been basing myself in lately. There was an Alberta Cup race weekend at the Nordic Center, a mear 20 minute ride from Magi's house! No need to travel, deal with flights, driving, hotels or restaurants! To make the situation even better, the week of poor weather, near snow and much too much rain here in Canmore, came to a stop on Saturday, making way for the sun and summer like heat! The previously wet and greasy course dried out in no time, giving us a fast and fun race to contest on Saturday.
I think the names of these two races say it all when it come to the vibe and attitude that the organizer was striving for! The 'Iron Lung' and the 'Organ Grinder'! Can't get getter then that! Great races, great names and great courses! A quick recap of the weekend of racing, and for a little more detail about the new course, please refer to the previous post below this one.
We started our race at 2:30pm on Saturday. A later then normal start meant a lot of down time the morning of the race. After a leisure start to the day, Matt Hadley and Catherine Vipond (who were staying at Magi's place as well) and I, made our way to the race site at noon to kick the day off by getting chased down by the young ones in the kids race. Playing 'rabbit' to the various kids categories meant that you were either nervously looking behind you to make sure they weren't catching you when it came to the slightly older groups or, doing laps running up and down the various hills on the course to help push up the little ones who are unable to propel their miniature and heavy gear-less bikes that often out weigh their rider... It was a fun thing to do and with over 100 kids registered for the race, the site was buzzing with excitement and atmosphere!
A couple of hours later, it was our turn. With a very competitive field lining up, this race was not going to be a cake walk! Many of Western Canada's top riders were present, challenging each other and ensuring a hard effort was going to be needed to come out on top! Competing in a provincial race is always a bit of a mind game... There is just no way you are able to focus and mentally prepare in the same way you would for a National or International event. This can be a dangerous habit to fall into as any race, no matter the level, requires a solid effort in order to preform well. Under preparing for the effort that will be needed is a bit of a slip up that can happen all too easy when you are racing all summer long. This race was one of these mentally tough ones. My warm up was practically non-existant, my mental focus was on my sun-tanning rather then the racing and I was unrealistically hopping to be able to control the race from the start and ease into a pace I was comfortable with. The unpredictability of racing came through when after getting the hole-shot off the start with Hadley, we started climbing the first hill at a comfortable and not too blistering pace only to have Correy Wallace launch a devastating attack off the front. The pace had instantly doubled, and the race was officially on. This woke me up to the fact that it was not going to be an easy day and fired up my racing instinct!
I picked up the pace and chased onto Wallace's wheel and continued on past him. I took over the lead of a train of 5-10 of us halfway up the first climb and lead it into the single track. I could tell right from the start, after responding to Correy's attack, that I had some descent legs under me today so, I stayed on the throttle. The train got smaller and after a while, I was riding solo with Hadley, Wallace, Bain and Canning chasing me. For some time, I kept a steady pace, almost hoping that they would close the gap, because not only is riding alone for the whole race much more difficult, but racing together with a group can be much more fun. It was not meant to be, as my gap started increasing instead of decreasing, so I decided to go at it alone, hitting all the hills hard and floating down the course. I was on today, attacking all the hills and hitting the lines I wanted on the descents. I felt comfortable on the course and I was having an absolute blast!
With 5 laps to do, I came across the line just under 1:40 hours for the victory. Despite being incredibly hard, It was one of the most fun races I have ever done! While it kicked my ass, the course had a kind of flow to it, leaving a big grin on my face between the grimaces appearing on the climbs! This was a good mental boost for me as previous to today, I've never felt great racing in Canmore. This was hopefully only a preview for what is yet to come a month from now when I'll be back here in Canmore racing at Nationals!
Sunday was the Organ Grinder, a 5 hour enduro race that I competed in with Evan Sherman. Having dragged Evan out from his desk and seeing him race again was great as we took turns doing laps for the 5 hours. I suffered some bad luck in the first 3 laps, having to fix two flats, and Evan displayed the same character I've always known him for, pushing himself to the absolute limit, coming across the line each lap looking like he should be taken to the hospital! Another great course and good weather made for a spectacular day of riding, and the double header weekend of racing was good training for the upcoming BC Bike Race, starting in two weeks!
A big thanks to the organizers and the volunteers of this great weekend of racing! The event was top notch and a complete success! From the course to the activities to the atmosphere and the smooth operations of the event, this was one of the best run provincial level races I've ever attended! A big congratulations and thank you to Cyclemeisters Cycling Club and Ed for the great weekend of racing and fun!!!
Please see the previous post for a more details on the new race course that was used here in Canmore!
Canmore's NEW RACE COURSE!
June 12th 2010
Canmore has a new race course!
For all of us that have race here in Canmore before, we know that it's always been on the same course for years: up the 'Oven' climb, then across and down to the 'Coal Chutes' and then up again to the dreaded Georgetown Climb back to the stadium. While a fun ride to do, the course was getting a bit old and the exposed roots were robbing the trails of their intended 'flow'. As a race course, it led the racers away from the stadium on a long lap which made the race a near impossibility for spectators to follow. (save the lap-through's where they saw the riders once every 30-40 minutes)
Last fall, with a trail building grant to spend, the Canmore Nordic Center hired a trail crew to construct a whole pile of new trails. One goal of the project (among many) was to built a new race course that was fit to host international competitions on in the future. With Nationals secured in Canmore for next two years, it seems like it may be a good opportunity to debut this course, or at least showcase some of the new trails put in at the Center.
This weekend's Alberta Cup will be held on the newly constructed 'red loop', marked by a red maple leaf. The course was successfully built and would be more then capable to host a World Cup in the future! It twists and turns and winds itself back and forth staying close to the stadium area making for great spectating opportunities. The course was built and designed Matt Hadley, a current National Level racer, who not only had spectators in mind when building it, but also made sure not to sell the racers short, making the course not only incredibly fun to ride but also technically and physically challenging at the same time. The course is a phenomenal mix of every kind of riding. There is plenty of single track and double track climbing, (even more then the old course!) some fast twisty descents, some slower technical steeps (including the "Eye Dropper" into the stadium, visible from the beer tent!) and best of all in my opinion, the section called 'Soft Yogurt', a hard pack bermed jump trail, switch backing down to the infamous 'Devonian Drop'.
After it was all said and done, under hot but fast and pretty optimal conditions, the elite field was turning 19 some odd minute lap times, with the quickest one dropping down into the 18 minute range. The course was met with overwhelming positive feedback which must have been quite a rewarding compliment for Hadley, who was present and racing on it for the first time as well! With Nationals being held here in Canmore, many including myself are hopping that this course will be used for the competition, but the decision is apparently still up in the air... I am confident that if this course is used for nationals, it will be met with enthusiasm from the racers and spectators alike!
In the coming days, I will try and get out to take some pictures of the various sections of the course. I will update them to this post when I do.
June 10th 2010
They say that rest is as or even more important then training, right? At least I'm subscribing to that philosophy, taking my rest when I can. I looked at my race schedule for the upcoming couple of months and does it ever look busy, so taking a week off and recovering from the 4 weeks of back to back racing and the traveling sounded like a good idea to me. I figured if I didn't take it easy now, I wouldn't have the opportunity to have a breather until after nationals, in mid July!
My week off coincided well with the crummy weather we've been having here in Canmore. Where is the summer? Overcast, rain, the odd hail or snow shower... doesn't feel like June to me. The week was filled with errands and fun MTB rides. I took the opportunity to explore the Canmore Nordic Center trail network a little better and was blown away by the extent and the quality of the trails here! They are incredible! There was not too much formal or structured training as I just tried to have fun on the bike, keep the legs moving and take a mental break.
After my one 'effort' of the week, a retro race at CNC, Magi and I once again took off to Nipika for a few days of quiet and relaxation. The weather was no better there and instead of pushing myself to do a wet ride in the mud, we went to explore the natural hot-springs near Whiteswan Lake. Like every hot-spring I've ever been to, we arrived to find it filled with not so healthy looking euro's, wearing either see-through garments or incredibly revealing scraps of fabric, providing a not so flattering view to look at in an otherwise beautiful wilderness setting! What took top prize though, was these two women who went from pool to pool climbing over the rocks, with a Bacardi Breezer in one hand and a first aid brief case in the other! At least one can say they were 'responsible' drinkers?
This week it's back to work. Intervals on Tuesday, wet and cold road rides Wednesday and Thursday, then an Alberta Cup on Saturday, which will hopefully be a pre-view of the Nationals course? and then, just because I like to suffer, an enduro on Sunday, which I'm racing together with Sherman! I figure I need to train my body for consecutive days of pain in anticipation of BCBR which is coming up soon!
This weekend should provide a good effort with rumors of a strong elite field showing up. With Hadley, Wallace, Bain and Canning among the rest of the Alberta crowd lining up on Saturday, it should be one of the most competitive Alberta Cups to date this year. Now if only we could get 'Hot Sauce' Lega out from his hero's quest...
Canada Cup #3: Hardwood Hills
June 2nd 2010
Last weekend was the last Canada Cup of the opening three in the series. I'd been on the road for nearly 3 weeks, but with the beautiful weather in the east, this trip was a pleasant and fun one. For the last week, I spent it in style up in Barrie Ontario, at Tammy and Jeremy's house. With it only being a 45 minute ride to Hardwood Hills, I was able to go train on the course for a few days, and otherwise was able to enjoy some quiet roads meandering by lakes and winding through cottage country.
Amidst an Eastern Canada heat wave, we lined up for Canada Cup #3 in 30+ C weather on Sunday. Although the course used different trails then past years, Hardwood is always similar, with steep short punchy climbs and relentless curvy single track that offers little if any recovery. We were set to do a 5 lap race of a 9km course which was probably a lap longer then our last two races were. It resulted in a 2+ hour race in stifling heat!
Thankfully, I was back to my usual start call up again this week, and got a good front row position. Despite a fairly quick start, I entered into the single track in a good top 10 position. The long stretched out train of riders started to thin and a front group of 3 developed itself halfway through the first lap. I pushed hard to bridge up to this group and began the 2nd lap on their tail. I knew this selection of riders would stay away, and if I could survive the first few laps on their tail, the pace would level off and would not be much quicker, if at all than the groups behind. It was a matter of sticking it out until we got into a rhythm. Unfortunate, I let a gap develop to them in the single track as 2 out of the 3 of them were local Ontarian's, and definitely had superior skills in these types of tight trails... so, I dropped off their pace and decided to wait for the chase group of 3 Trek boys.
I stuck with this group for the next 2 laps, and the pace was good. As predicted, the gap to the leaders was not increasing, meaning their pace had slowed and was really no quicker than we were going... Glassford and Morka were doing most of the pace setting, while I was trying to get as much water into myself as possible as I felt the heat cramps coming on. On the last lap, Batty tailed off our group and with a third of a lap to go, the cramps hit me hard. the legs would no longer rotate as I fought to override my protesting muscles. I managed to keep it rolling, knowing there was only 5-10 minutes to go, but I was unable to stay on Morka and Glassford's wheels. That's the way it ended, as I finished in 6th, under 3 minutes off the winning pace.
Overall, I had a good race and had good legs under me that day. It did not end the way I would have like but all in all, I felt like I was getting stronger throughout the trip of 3 races. I had good legs this past weekend and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed not to be able to crack into the top 5 with the way I felt. I guess that is a testament to how competitive the men's field is this year, with everyone gunning for a spot on the World Champs team. Racing in Canada seems to be alive and well with all of these 3 races having had impressive turn outs and all 3 having put on great events!
Now, it's back to Canmore, where I'm leaving behind the eastern heat to go play in some wintery conditions?!? 5-10cm of snow in the forecast... yes!!!
Red Bull Mont-Descent Race
May 23th 2010
As if the XC race was not enough of a workout yesterday, I got the bright idea to enter the Red Bull Mont-Descent race that evening in Tremblant. The race started at 8:30pm and took place in the center of the village under the lights and the blasting beats of a DJ. The way it worked was that you'd team up with a downhiller and you would take turns doing laps of your respective courses. So the downhillers started the race by running through the village to where we (the XC partners) waited for them. They would tag off to us and we would begin our small (but hard) 5-6 minute XC loop. The loop consisted of a dirt road climb, then a descending single track in the forest into a loop through the pedestrian village. While we were out doing our loop, the DHer's would take the lift up to mid mountain where they would wait to be released down their course as we (their partner) crossed the finish line. (it would get radioed up) We would keep doing laps like this for 90 minutes and the team with the most laps or fastest time would win.
This race was definitely not in my planned activities, but when I learnt that there was a $10,000 prize purse split between the top 3 teams, the chance of making some money was too enticing to pass up. With my car breaking down last month, I have some (many) unpaid bills that would definitely benefit from a portion of that prize purse!
The race took place from 8:30-10pm, so lights were a must, and since I'd planned on doing this race a whole 2 hours before the start, I was scrambling to find myself not only an adequate light set but also a partner. The Canada Cup downhill was the following day, so finding a willing and fast DHer was not too easy. Jeff, the Rocky Mechanic ultimately found me one of the Rocky Team downhillers, Philip Blanchard, with whom I could enter the race. As for the light system, I came up dry pretty much everywhere I looked until Ben Pye from Shimano had a small LED headlamp that I was able to use.
The race started in the day light, but the forest got dark in a hurry and the tiny headlamp was really the bare minimum I could get away with. It more so pointed out which way the trail was going, rather then lighting up the path so I could see where the rocks and roots were. This failure resulted in some good crashes on my part as I was trying to feel my way through the trail. Once darkness really set in, I was in desperate need for some more adequate lighting and probably would have had a hard time finishing off the race had it not been for my pit crew of Skinner, Sessford and Richey, who somehow came up with a killer light system from someone random in the crowd. This carried me through to the end without anymore crashes. My tired legs however... different story!
My downhiller, Philip, was awesome. He was a young kid, racing his first year senior elite. His english was rusty and about as good as my french was, but between the two languages, we were able to manage. He hauled down the DH right from the get go, and we settled into the 2nd place position. About halfway through the race, I started noticing that he was crossing the line every lap coasting or with his legs pushing off the ground to propel himself. I latter found out that on the 4th run, his chain broke and his derailler exploded, so he did the remainder of the laps by pushing with his legs and coasting! Incredible! It had me worried every time I waited for him at the finish.
We ended the race the way we started, in 2nd position, behind the Oakley team of Ralph and Steve Smith. The winnings made it worth it in the end however the race was a total sufferfest. My legs were totally cooked after the xc race and they definitely did not appreciate the repeated abuse I was putting them through. Pain, lots of it, is all I can say. We got presented our prizes by Erik Guay, Canadian Olympic Downhill Skier, and when it was all said and done, I was ready for a good night of sleep!
Canada Cup #2: Mont Tremblant
May 22th 2010
Saturday was Canada Cup #2 in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Tremblant is the Whistler of the East, with a nice Mountain Village and the organizers always setting up a great course. The course was in great condition, dry, with the regular climb up through the village and a hard technical decent down the backside.
The weather has continued to be phenomenal and come race morning the temperature dropped slightly and the sky was a mix of sun and cloud resulting in great race conditions! For some reason, my call up got messed up and instead of the front row start I got last weekend, I didn't get called until well in the 60's and was forced to work my way through the field on the first climb. I managed to get into the single track in a reasonable top 15 position, and continued to work my way through the field slowly. My legs did not feel fantastic off the start, and the climbs were a definite struggle. I managed to limit my losses on the descents where I would catch back up to the group (usually Sontag and Rotem) who would drop me on the climbs. Come the last lap, I buried myself on the climbs to try and stay in contact with them and to try and hold off the 4-5 racers breathing down my neck as I pushed my way into the final descent ahead of them. I took advantage of this by putting a bit of time into them, enough so that I could maintain my position up the last climb to the finish. Once again, I finished in the 7th spot, but didn't feel like I rode as well as last weekend. My legs felt a bit sluggish and I'm hopping I can bring back some snap into them for next weekend.
Next weekend is Hardwood Hills, which is a typical Ontario course, fast and hard packed, with a ton of tight cornering. The climbs are punchy and short, so getting some snap into my legs is crucial.
This upcoming week, I'm venturing back into an anglophone territory and will spend my time at Jeremy and Tammy's house in Barrie Ontario. It sets up for some perfect training with many quiet roads in the area, and it's only a 45 minute spin from the Hardwood Hills race course. Riding will be great with temperatures expected in the high 20's! Finally summer is here!
Canada Cup #1: Baie-Saint-Paul
May 19th 2010
Well, the season's officially kicked off. I flew into Montreal on Friday, and met up with Sneddon and Plaxton at the airport. We drove up to Quebec City that night for the first Canada Cup of the season, held in Baie-Saint-Paul. On Saturday, we headed up to the course to do a pre-ride and found a great course, with a bit of everything on it. Climbs, technical descents, and twisting right around the start/finish area, making spectating exciting and easy.
Sunday was no disappointment, with close to 500 people racing, the weather great, and many people in and around the race. We went off at noon, with a field of over 70 elite men. I was quite nervous after some shaky training weeks, not knowing how I would stack up against a very competitive Canada Cup field.
The race was fast and tight, with the top 15-20 in Canada all very competitive. I think the field in Canada is getting deeper and deeper every year, as some of the youth in the sport develop into some super talented and fast riders. A few international riders came out as well, looking to get a piece of the UCI points available in this C1 event.
With a quick start, I tried to hold my own on the first lap, looking not to overextend myself too much but getting myself into a nice comfortable rhythm. We had 6 laps to do, and for the most part, I stayed in and around the 6th or 7th spot in the race. I could see Sessford and Sneddon right infront of me, and could feel Hadley, Glassford and Batty breathing down my neck behind me. While holding the latter group off, I was unable to reel in the guys ahead of me, and ultimately couldn't quite hold onto Sontag, the German's pace with whom I rode for most of the race.
At the end of the day, I found myself in 7th, right behind Sneddon, with Plaxton taking the win over Watson. The race was super tight as predicted as there was only 1.5-2 minutes separating 3rd through 12th or so. I was only 1 minute out from 3rd, so hoping to improve on the 7th next weekend at Tremblant!
This week, between the two races, we're heading to Plaxton's families farm about 60km from Tremblant in the country. The roads are unreal, with next to no traffic, and the weather couldn't be better, with temperatures in the 20's and nothing but sun! This is quite possibly the best Quebec trip I've had so far. We are finally finding out why people have called this place: 'La Belle Province'. There are no complaints from me this trip so far!
Racing Begins and Some more Nipika
May 14th 2010
The weather finally turned for the better in beef country Alberta! The sun came out, and is soaking up some of this cold snap. Last weekend, I spent Saturday down in Lethbridge, where I wanted to wake my legs up with an Alberta Cup before I venture out east for the first Canada Cups of the year. Training has been tough for the last couple of weeks, really up and down, not quite sure what it lies in. Perhaps it's just getting used to the slight altitude up here in Canmore...
The race in Lethbridge provided me with exactly what I was looking for. A 1.5 hour effort at race intensity which I really would not be able to motivate myself to do on my own. The course was a fun 'coolie' course within the river valley. The temperature was nice, and luckily, the morning stayed dry. The course was fast, a short 11-12 minute loop, with a good 4-5 minute climb each lap. I threw down from the start and cruised in for the victory and a good way to start off the season.
With the weather turing nice, me and Magi took off to Nipika for a couple of days. Some good training on the MTB in the sunshine is hard to beat, and the scenery is unreal there. Intervals on Tuesday and a long ride on Wednesday had me smiling from ear to ear as I cruised the single track bordering the canyon cliffs. Don't know if the pictures do it justice, by the canyon walls are a white stone, and the water is a clear, crisp light blue, absolutely stunning.
Life doesn't get much better when you come home from your training ride and have a lunch spread out on the table ready for you. Well fed, hot tube to relax in, then some napping and reading on the deck overlooking the horses in the meadow, all nestled within the mountains! Enough said, it's absolutely incredible!
Now it's back home for some quick packing, and off to Quebec City on Friday... More after the first Canada Cup.
Rocky Road Bike Video
May 8th 2010
This past winter, Marty and I were stand-ins for a video Rocky made for their road bikes. They made pretty cool video's on all their different bike platforms and this one is a story about Alison Sydor.
Click the link if you want to check it out.
May 7th 2010
With training started full time, I picked up and re-located to Canmore for the next while. Driving out, I have all I need with me, but am once again living out of a car/suitcase. Things are not as stressful as on the road, actually on the contrary, I've settled in nicely and getting into a good routine with my training.
Unfortunately, despite it being May, I've had nothing but wintery conditions here. Almost all the snow is gone from the ground, but it just seems to keep falling from the skies! I've started most of my rides these last two weeks in the cold crisp air and underneath the sunshine, but would end up finishing it in flurries or even full on blizzards. Although I'm completely frustrated and done with the winter and cold weather, I'm making due and trying not to let it affect my rides and mood.
This last week, Magi and myself spend some time out at Nipika Mountain Resort. This is a wilderness resort completely off the grid, self sufficient surrounded by mountains that are full of trails. I came across this place for the first time in Trans-Rockies and was lucky enough to enjoy an insiders tour through Magi's connections with the Wilson family. Doing intervals on some trails that finish with an unbelievable view is hard to beat! The picture is the view I climbed up to 8 times!
The Nuck's have pushed their way into the 2nd round, things are getting very tense as they trail the series 2-1. Big game 4 coming up tonight in Vancouver!
!!! GO Canucks GO !!!
Off to an Alberta cup in Lethbridge tomorrow, then back to Nipika for a few days before flying to Montreal on Friday the 14th.
Let the Summer Begin
April 29th 2010
This is the first day of my upcoming summer. I wrote my last exam yesterday which happens to be my last exam ever at Langara. Next year, I will take the next step towards completing the long road to my undergrad when I'll be attending UBC in the Human Kinetics department.
The lack of posts on the site this winter is an indication of how busy I've been. To say that I underestimated the challenge of training full time while attending school full time would be an understatement. I felt like I was trying to complete two full time jobs and it was difficult trying not to compromise either. Unfortunately, both suffered in some way, with my free time/social life taking the biggest hit. Most people in Vancouver thought I was down south, like I've usually been at this time of year, because I kept myself nicely tucked away in my books or on my bike. Measures to balance both were taken mid way through the term when I completed all my readings for my english course via an audio book I listened to on my ipod while on the bike... Time was tight to say the least, but apparently it worked well as my paper on the book got me the best grade in the class!
But now I can say that I am glad to be done so that I am able to focus properly on the upcoming season. My preparation is definitely behind compared to last year but nothing I can't catch up on. I'm quite excited to get back into a proper training routine and all the small but important details that go along with it: good eating, napping, and stretching. The season is fast approaching, probably a little faster then I'd like...
It would be a bit of an oversight not to mention the dominating sports story currently occurring in the city. The knuckleheads are into the 2nd round and playing some fantastic hockey! I was lucky enough to take in the 7-2 dethroning of the LA Kings in game 5 from the garage (GM Place) and am already getting pumped up for the 2nd round rematch of last year against the Chicago Blackhawks. Bring on the hawks, puck drops for game one on Saturday.
Now with a little more time on my hands, I will post more frequently and keep the website up to date and current, so be sure to check in from time to time.
!!! GO Canucks GO !!!
December 26th 2009
It has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for our family to come up to Tofino over the holidays. We rent a cabin on Chesterman's beach which gives everyone in the family plenty to do, from walks/runs on the beach and surfing in the waves.
This is the first year in numerous where I am able to surf again. Due to various injuries in my arm/shoulder/ribs, I've been kept off the water for far too long. This year however, I'm back at it and am enjoying myself tremendously! It came back to me fairly rapidly as I shed away the rust and played in the surf in North and South Chesterman. The waves are perfect for me to get back to it, not to big and not too choppy, underneath a endless blue sky radiating nothing but sun. A very rare occurrence here in Tofino!
This year, our family is short one, as my sister Daniela is working in CAR (Central African Republic) for the next 9 months. She is there as a nurse working with the organization MSF (doctors without borders).
I hope all had a very Merry Christmas and will begin the New Year with a Bang! Happy holidays to all!
December 20th 2009
After a stressful final exam period which demanded as much energy and stress as a psycho girlfriend would, I jumped on a plane and took myself to Canmore for a few relaxing stress-free days. Although my brain got a rest this past week, my physical fitness got a kick in the ass with daily skis and runs.
Magi whipped me into shape and made me feel incredibly out of shape and incredibly slow as she killed me every day skiing. While I was at or beyond my threshold, she would be cruising in front of me talking away, barely hitting her zone 1... As frustrating and humbling as it was, I was lucky to get some good pointers and tips from a top skier! Although the list of things to work on is too long to write down, I'll try and pick away at them in hopes to one day give her a bit of a workout when she comes out with me... (I know catching her is not an option)
If we weren't skiing, Magi took me on night time snow runs (deep snow in runners, good combo!) up and along the highline trail, we climbed up the back side of Chinaman's Peak, and amidst vigorous chastising, went backcountry snowshoeing with a few friends down here from Edmonton. Apparently "snowshoeing" is looked down upon here in Canmore as being 'lame'... although going through meter deep powder, jumping down cliffs, scrambling up gullies and crazy carpeting back down seemed anything but 'lame' to me! I will yet make a convert of Magi one day!
Back home it is today. Unfortunately not too directly and instead via Kelowna, a mistake on my part when booking the flight... but it will be a brief stay in Vancity as it's off to Tofino for a few days of surfing and Christmas with the fam.
Now that training's began again, there should be more frequent updates...
Term 1 Classes Done!
December 8th 2009
First term of classes are completed! This marks the time to get back into the swing of things with training. Being the first year I will spend in the cold wet north for the entire winter, I have decided to embrace winter and its activities and make the best of it.
I feel like I've grown out of the 6am road rides with a headlamp and 16 layers of cloths to protect myself from the pouring rain... instead, I've taken up running, (yes I know, hardly believable) XC skate skiing and ice skating. Along with a few gym sessions a week, this is keeping me well busy and active and will hopefully bring my fitness up to appropriate levels by the end of january.
Starting January, I will finish my last term at Langara College which will allow me to transfer to third year at UBC come September. I'm looking forward to moving on from Langara, away from the high-school atmosphere. I have set up courses next semester to accommodate some good consistent training. I don't ever start before 2:30pm, which will give me the morning to go riding (if dry) or then skiing up at Cypress. I'm looking forward to this as a regular routine has definitely been lacking these last few months...
Now with classes done, I only have 8 more days of stress and studying to fulfill my 5 final exams. I'm trying not to look beyond the week as I have a fun little trip planed after my exams...
December 8th 2009
My friend Magi paid me a visit on her way home from Maui. Tanned and fit from riding 2 weeks in the sunshine, I took her into the snow as we went to do a run/hike up the Chief in Squamish.
We went up to the 2nd and 3rd peak in the grey and drizzly weather. I had only previously gone up to the first peak, so this was new for me too. As we leave the tree line and start scrambling up the granite slabs of the chief, the ground becomes covered in snow. It got quite sketchy and slippery as we walked up the rock like we were walking on glass balls. Nice and gingerly. Any sudden movement would result in slipping and subsequent falling. The tripod stance was a popular one, to try and get across off camber slopes of the rock.
Unfortunately, there were not too many great views to be had as we were fairly engulfed in clouds. As we made our way towards the third peak, we snuck a look between the rocks and were able to see down to Squamish.
Coming down from the third peak, the trail seemed to disappear. The trail had been taken over by the creek, which has now turned into a river. The terrain was so steep, we pretty much had to climb our way down a continuous waterfall, trying not to slip into the water. It was a ton of fun though, and Magi got all the style points on the way home as she boosted off rocks and logs and laid out her insane hang time with grabs and spins!
With delicious treats from Galileo (coffee shop) waiting for us in the car, we made our way home and towards the Canucks hockey game. This will be Magi's first initiation into live hockey!
December 5th 2009
More and more gear! This is a great start to the year! I have joined (or will attempt to join) the XC ski crowd this year in an attempt to stay off my bike when it rains.
Magi was kind enough to put together a great set of gear to get me started! Although my skill level is not on par for the quality of the gear, I hope to do it justice by using it very frequently this year.
I was lucky enough to get Magi to give me some 'pro' tips up at Cypress in the pouring rain. Now with a pass to Cypress, I will hopefully be well on my way.
December 1st 2009
Some new gear from Rocky has arrived! I've got a pair of sweet new bikes for the winter which will be a blast to get out on.
On the road, I've got a very pretty Solo 90 carbon bike which comes in incredibly light, right on the legal weight limit with the pedals, and rides super fast and stiff! I'm holding off putting on fenders until the very last possible moment...
For the dirt, I got a fun play bike, Rocky's "All Mountain" Altitude platform. It should provide me with some fun times on the rocky, wet and muddy North Shore Mountains this winter! Even with 5 inches of suspension on the front and the back, it still pedals like a champ of a XC bike! Fast, nimble and fun!