Thursday, December 16, 2010

Study Break

It just had to be done: Kicking Horse on Friday with close to a foot of new snow waiting for me...

I am still upset that I did not GoPro a deep run I had down the gondola face; Doh! I was on my rock skis as the base was nonexistent in some areas, but otherwise the snow was deep. And I pretty much walked on to the chair/gondola for each run. Not many people there!

Saturday, I did a solo recon mission up to Burstall Pass. Good slog to get there and back, and not much skiable vert, but some cool terrain up there and lots of snow.

Anyways, exams are done, so the countdown is on for the blog to start going OFF!!!!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Vert 180

My beauty sufferface, courtesy of MT

Another awesome weekend! My first ski mountaineering race of the season, and my first on my new gear! It was a night race, so there was lots of time on Saturday morning to chill in Canmore and launch rockets! I made some homemade rockets, and was pretty stoked to make a re-launchable rocket!

Then off to the race. We got there a little late, and the sign in and pre-race meeting were a little hectic, but fortunately the logistics of the event were pretty simple. MT and Steve decided not to race (they wussed out), instead they became the Pilsner Pit Crew whose primary tasks were to drink beer and take pictures. It was funny walking around in my spandex suit. I could feel the hate just raining down from all of the park rats in their fart bags who looked as equally ridiculous as me.

180 minutes of the pain locker at COP aka hammer out a 130m vert lap as many times as you can in 3hrs.

The front row was pretty wide, so I lined up on the front row. Off the start I was going pretty good, and soon people were dropping off the front. Eventually I found myself in 2nd, right behind the fastest Canadian racer. The pace was furious, and I decided to ease up a bit, and let 2 more people ahead. I ripped up the bootpack section and was in 4th place (including relay teams) at the top of the hill on the first lap. Not a bad start.

But the top of the hill was pitch black, and this was the first time that I have ever had to put Dynafits on in a race. So I definitely struggled and lost lots of time. Then on the way down, I was expecting to see course flags so I didn't go too fast. I probably should have skied the course beforehand...

I got settled in pretty good, and was skiing pretty well during the first hour. The glue on my race skins wasn't really sticking that well anymore because of snow from all of the transitions, so I had to switch to my backup skins, a more conventional setup, but noticeably slower.

I was sending the uphills pretty hard, I got better and better at stepping into Dynafits, and by the end of the night, I was pretty much straightlining the descent. My gear was pretty dialed, which was good because this was the first time that I have used it! I guess my final excuse would be that my gel got really viscous and was impossible to take out of the gel flask

I kept it strong until the finish and brought it home. I tied for 4th in solo men which is awesome, especially for only my 2nd skimo race ever! It was a good scene, with a dj, and lots of people came out to try racing!

Sunday, with tired legs and sore lungs, we headed out to Chester Lake for a "nature walk" (no intention of skiing). Yeah, not much snow up there!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Norway withdrawal

Yep, it was hard to leave 'Utopia' to come back to 'BERTA.

Yup, definitely back in 'BERTA

But when I got home, things weren't so bad. I missed my bike, and my skimo suit arrived!

English class was by far the harshest reality of coming back. Something soooooo sucky after such an awesome week!

The week actually flew by; I went for a couple of mountain bike rides, and for the weekend I was in Canmore!

Canmore was pretty fun; there is not much snow there so the mountain biking is still amazing. I went for a ride on Saturday with my out of shape friend MT (he wanted me to give him that shout out). I also got high off of Black Diamond Gold Label Adhesive!

There's this cool new outdoor gym in Canmore! But I think you need to bring a really heavy backpack to get a good workout in!

Sunday, went for a ride by myself on the now classic Bill Knight Super Loop. Just take all the awesome trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre and put them into one ride!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Norway blog: part 4

We left Andenes early in the morning. I had been disappointed that I had not planned for a day in Oslo, instead opting to head straight home in one day. The other Canadians were going to meet up with some of the Oslo students on Saturday night. Changing the flights would be pretty impossible.

The flight from Andenes to Tromsø was really cool as the views from the plane were amazing. I usually don't shoot pictures out of the plane window, but I think I got some good ones from the flight. The turbulence near the end of the flight was pretty extreme.

Things got interesting when we tried to leave Tromsø. The reverse on one of the engines was not working, and we had to go back into the terminal. There was always the possibility that I would miss my connection in Oslo to London due to the delay. We waited anxiously, unsure of what would happen (overnight in London/Oslo). My bags were only checked to Oslo, so I would have to pick them up and check in again (there was 3hrs between the original flights). We got to Oslo, and sure enough, the plane had left. Fortunately booking the night in Oslo was now a possibility. I think that Thor made it my destiny!

After checking into the airport hotel, we headed into Oslo on the train to meet up with Cato, Live, and Emilie from the camp. The city had the distinct Euro feel to it with streetcars, cobbled streets, pedestrian only streets, rental bikes, etc... We were debating on where to eat as us Canadians wanted an authentic Norwegian experience, but ha I guess that is easier said than done. There were TGI Fridays all over the place! We settled on this place called Egon. After dinner, we walked around more, and checked out the opera house. Then it was time to head back to the hotel.

I finally saw Avatar on the way home. Definitely did not live up to the hype, but I guess I did watch it on the small screen on the back of the headrest in front of me.

Wow what a trip. It went by way too fast.

What an awesome country. The beer is expensive, but the education is free. The girls are gorgeous, intelligent, and down to earth. People go outdoors to get exercise, and they eat well. The landscape is beautiful.

Most of the Norwegians were SLR'd out. Good thing I came similarly equiped.

I will keep updating as I remember more of the events that happened.

The Norway blog: part 3

Thursday was the big day for the launch. The usual conference room doubled in size with the extra people attending the morning meetings, both ARR staff, and local politicians and press. Soon we were off to our respective stations, to prepare for the launch.

The telemetry group was split further into two groups. One group was in the main telemetry station supporting the professional ARR staff (they don't want to leave this important task up to the students), and another group was in the student telemetry station. I was in the student station, which is basically a simpler version of the main station. I controlled the antenna, making sure that it followed the rocket through it's flight to pick up the signal transmitted by the rocket.

The launch came up quickly, and I was able to track the rocket through most of its flight until just before splashdown.

Now was my opportunity to try and see how fast I could climb up to the col. I forgot to time myself, but I think it took me about 10mins to gain the 250m or so straight up to the top. I don't think that I was the fastest, and I went out way too hard and had to suffer to get to the top. I ran down the other side, and jogged back to the base for a total time of 30mins. I am writing this on Sunday, and my legs are still sore!

After my climb, the rocket group launched a weather balloon to measure the wind profiles, but unfortunately the sensor box fell off just after the balloon was released.

After the post flight meeting, we had an interesting lecture on Near Earth Objects before beginning the preparation for the presentations on Friday. We finished our report just before the farewell party.

The farewell party was fun. I had gone into town after supper to get some Ringnes beer, and the ARR had some Tuborg for us as well.

ah let's see what went down:
-trying to solve integrals
-playing some weird cardgames, and cardtricks
-drunk frigid ocean swimming
-watching the Ariane launch, relating it to our own experience earlier in the day
-trying to sing Norwegian songs
-exchanging culture via-youtube, including gettin' 'er goin' on the Mitchell
-hiding from the night watchman
-chilling in the basement

Friday morning, I made sure that I was ready to rock, no matter how many wobbly pops I consumed the night before. The trip to ALOMAR was cancelled again, so we had time to polish our presentation. The LIDAR at ALOMAR was not operational at the time, but it would have been cool to go up the mountain. The presentation went off without a hitch, but we were experiencing our last moments with the Norwegian groups. First the Tromsø group left, then the Oslo group. After the Norwegians left, we fired off some more model rockets. We then headed into Andenes with one of the grad students, and ate at this restaurant, Arresten, in the old jail. Then we wandered the town in search of some nightlife, but we must have been too early because the places were absolutely empty!

The Norway blog: part 2

The course began on Monday with a presentation about the facility and the program, then a tour of the facility. During the tour, I learned that there was a record time up to the Col on the mountain that I had climbed yesterday. I knew that I would have to see how fast I could climb!

After lunch, we got an introduction to rockets from a grad student who does model rockets as a hobby (hobby rockets are quite rare in Norway). Learning about the stability (the position of the centroid in relation to the center of pressure) of a rocket was useful. Then we had a lab where we made some paper rockets that would be launched using an air compressor. The key was a good fit on the tube, and good ballast in the nose to increase stability.

After launching the paper rockets, we headed into the town of Andenes for dinner at an Italian restaurant.

In the evening, the UofS students "broke the ice" by sharing the Crown Royal they brought from home.

On Tuesday, we had to make the tough decision of which group to be in: Group A: Rocket, Group B: Experiments, Group C: Payload, or Group D: Telemetry. I ended up with group D. We started off with an overview of the process, and soon started to input the correct settings for the equipment. We also used a satellite tracking software to predict when certain satellites would pass over the range, so that we could track them the next day. Originally, there was a trip planned to the ALOMAR observatory on the top of the mountain, but that was postponed until Friday as the steep road up the mountain was icy. The lectures in the evening were on various atmospheric research topics and their applications at ALOMAR, which were interesting new subjects for me.

The rocket group would assist with various demos during the week, as well as use some software to predict the trajectory of the rocket. The experiments group and payload group would build the sensors for the rocket, make sure that the payload is balanced, and analyze the data once it is extracted.

In the evening, we walked into town, only to discover that they stopped selling beer after 6pm.

Wednesday, we had a presentation on range safety before diving into more group work. The setup of the equipment for the launch was completed before lunch.

There had been talk about going swimming in the frigid ocean earlier in the week, but nothing had materialized. I wanted to go swimming, so I went out after eating lunch. I brought along some warm layers with me to the beach so that I would warm up quickly after swimming. The sand was fine and white, and the beach was quite shallow, so I could go out a bit and only be waist deep. I was waiting for the right moment to submerge my head, when I noticed that the waves could be body-surfed. So I did that a couple of times, then got out and started to change, when I saw two of the Norwegian girls (Live and Emilie) from the camp. They were quite impressed, I was a little embarrassed (I was actually just about to drop the drawers because I wasn't expecting anyone to see me on the beach. Good thing I didn't as there was shrinkage!). I decided to go back in, because I wanted them to take a picture of me swimming. After getting out, I dried off with my wet towel and slipped into my warm clothes.

I didn't have much time for a warm shower, so I put on lots of warm layers, but it took me about 1.5hrs to stop shivering. Word slowly spread around the camp.

We tracked a NOAA satellite during the last part of the lunch break, and we got a pretty cool picture after processing the signal!

The hybrid motor and model rocket demonstration from group A was pretty exciting. The motor used N2O gas as well as plexiglass as fuel.

We went out late in the night to watch the aurora. It started off slowly, then dazzled us with shimmering green light.

The Norway blog: part 1

It is always nice to get out of town for a while to go explore a new city, especially when someone else is footing the bill.

Back in April, I found out that I was chosen as one of the two UofA students that would partake in a week long course at the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway, along with students from UofC, UofS, University of Oslo, and the University of Tromsø, as part of the CaNoRock program.

After applying for travel grants, scheduling plane tickets, and hotel rooms the week finally came. After writing a statistics midterm on Friday the 22nd, I headed to the airport for my flight to LHR, and ultimately Oslo. Arriving late in the afternoon, we (I along with the other UofA student) didn`t head into the city. Instead we decided to head straight to the hotel to get some needed rest. The Esso On the Run looked familiar, but with different types of chocolate bars.

My jet lag prevention strategy was to not sleep unless it was synchronized with the final time zone. It seemed to work out pretty well. We woke up to an awesome complimentary breakfast at the hotel: waffles, bread, fish, cereal, yogurt, sausages, home fries, nom nom. I ate lots, and then hopped on the bus to the airport.

Waiting by the gate, the UofS students, Roman and Grant, met up with us, then Eric and Matt from UofC introduced themselves when they heard the word "theoretical" come up in our conversation.

We flew from Oslo to Tromsø, and then to the final destination of Andenes. Andenes is a small 1 gate airport with a military base. We hopped on the taxi that was waiting for us, and soon arrived at the rocket range. We had plenty of free time before the other students arrived, so we decided to go for a hike: straight up the mountain!

It was a little sketchy at the bottom walking over some boulders covered in grass, but I soon kicked it into overdrive and ripped up to the top. I traversed the ridge with the UofS students, eventually getting to the highest summit on the ridge at about 450m from sea level. The UofS students were motivated to summit when I told them that there was a logbook at the top. The weather was moving in and out, and I wasn't sure of when the sun would set, so it was a little risky.

After our adventure we played some Risk. Alliances were formed and broken.

Eventually the Norwegian students showed up, and the first dinner of the week was served: pizza, one of which had Tex-Mex toppings (Norwegians love their tex-mex). After dinner, we started to get to know the other students, but not without awkward silences (6.5 to be exact!).

Monday, October 11, 2010


Another sick long weekend of riding in the books.

Saturday, I raced the GP Jim Horner CX race. It was hot out again, but I rocked the bottle cage with bottle on my bike and unzipped the jersey, so I survived. I got another slow start, but was able to work my way up quickly, and was picking off riders. Then I locked up my rear wheel on some off camber and went down, driving my brake lever into the grass. I got up fine, but I had lost the time that I was making up on the riders ahead, and my gap (that was slowly coming down) to the chasers who were not far behind. After shaking off the post crash jitters, I focussed on not losing any more places, and finished up in 7th.

After heading down to Canmore Saturday after the race, Bill and I decided to go ride Moose Mountain. I have raced the Summer Solstace race on the lower slopes, but this was my first time riding the more downhill specific trails. We rode Sulphur Springs - Pneuma - Special K - Tom Snow/Ridgeback, I was on my Marin Attack Trail! Pneuma is a pretty fun climb, but the last part after the intersection with Race of Spades is super techy! Special K was a good rip as well with some good steep sections and awesome flow. We experimented with a "different" GoPro mounting position. Look at Bill drop me!

Yes, it seemed that riding in Kelowna has made Bill even faster on the descents, but I was able to crush him on Pneuma with my cyclo-cross legs.

Finally, on Monday before we each headed our separate ways, we went for a quick rip at the CNC with some hero dirt courteousy of Sunday afternoon's light rain!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dark Knight

photo: Ken Hurd

That was a pretty fun weekend. Saw Fubar II on Friday, and then I headed off to Calgary with MT for some biking. I could have used a little more sleep. We got there before the race so that we could do some riding at COP. We didn't get there early enough, so we didn't have too much time to ride, but it was pretty fun on the new Marin! That bike provides a solid pedalling platform, and when combined with its lateral stiffness, it accelerates nicely. But when you point it down, the Quad Link soaks up the bumps. beauty. We rode Safari Planet and Dragon Slayer, and manned up for the DH course for our last run. The DH is easily the best trail there.

The Dark Night course was pretty fun, lots of off camber, and it hit up the last couple of tables and berms coming out of the bike park. In the dark it was really fun, and I got into the rhythm of the course really well early on. I rolled in for 9th, which was pretty good. MT was rocking 2 flashes and got some sick pictures that will be posted soon!

I just missed picking up the Pig Keg. I didn't see it until the guy in front of me slid out while trying to grab it haha.

For Oval cross, the legs were definitely feeling the effort from the previous night, but I avoided getting lapped on a fairly short course.

To cap off the epicness of the weekend, we checked out the Bass Pro Shop on the way home. Got an awesome flanel shirt!

Monday, September 27, 2010

School of Cross and Hop 'n Hurl

A good start to the season for me. I survived through the heat on Saturday and took 6th place after starting in DFL. I think out of all of the elite level races that I have competed in, that is my most impressive result. The heat was a huge factor on the day. My average heart rate for about 1hr was 188bpm, which is higher than the max HR that I have had in some races this year.

The next day, I got a better start, and managed 8th on the day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

OH YEAH! Marin Attack Trail 6.8

My new Marin Attack Trail 6.8. Thanks to Hardcore Bikes for hooking me up with a sweet deal.

66 deg HA + 6" Quad link suspension = a bike that can slay ANYTHING that I need it to.

With a light XC wheelset and the burly stock wheelset, I can go on a road trip with one bike and ride all the trails that I would want to ride.

My initial impressions:
-Floats over logs
-Slack head angle and short top tube make climbing a more challenging, but still very doable, thanks to quad link for providing maximum traction

Speaking of Marin and Quad Link, I am pretty stoked about their new 2011 Rift Zone. It just might be my bike for 2011:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Visiting the land of HST


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reminder kids...

...always check to make sure your bike is dialed BEFORE the start of the race.

pic here thanks to Patrick Graham

At least the legs seemed to be dialed. And Hardcore CC riders pretty much made up half the field!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A solid weekend of riding

Haven't been out on the road bike much this year, hence haven't used the PowerTap much. But put in a couple of solid rides on the weekend, even setting a new 30 sec peak power somewhere.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Partying like it`s 2000

So there I was on

the oven
Alyson Sydor on "The Chute"
Roland Green on "Devonian Drop"
Cadel Evans
(*Note: I did not take ANY of these pictures)

I remember going up to watch the finish one year in the stadium area. I really regret not watching "The Chute" or "Devonian Drop". Look at all the people there! Mountain bike racing was much more awesome back then...

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Nicholson", R.I.P Ziggy's and Killer Bees

The last 3 of my August long weekends were spent racing the Tour de Bowness, and this year, I decided not to partake in the cat 2 sketchfest, instead opting to do some mountain biking around Golden (and NICHOLSON).

I noticed a marked improvement in my descending skills after last weekend at KHMR, so we went back there on the big bikes. However, the lack of rain in the area made the trails extremely dusty.

Although it was the long weekend, with a fire ban we were hopeful that we would be able to snag a campsite after a day of hitting the lifts at KHMR. After driving up a steep gravel road with about 7 corners over 3km, we were more than a little surprised to see what looked like a full campground. Camping was plan A. Plan B was to giv'er. It was about 7:30pm, and we made the game time decision to rip the Canyon Creek trail and peace it back to Canmore.

The trail consisted of about 13km of logging road followed by a super smooth singletrack descent that skirts along the edge of a super narrow canyon. Shear cliffs dropping down about 100m to a narrow ribbon of whitewater. The mosquitoes were bad and I had to keep riding if I wanted to read my map. An hour later, we were back at the car.

Back in Canmore:
I died a little inside when I saw that the classic CNC singletrack of Ziggy's and Killer Bees had been re-routed to make them "more sustainable". They made a new trail that is heavily benched and removed all of the roots. This seems to be a disturbing trend that is happening and soon more CNC classics will fall under the axe. Removing the roots allows the trails to be rideable in wet conditions (as soon as the trail tread compacts), but in a couple of years all that will be left is smooth fast singletrack, not exactly challenging. Add to this a strict adherence to limiting the trail gradient, so descending a slope requires multiple sharp switchbacks, not exactly fun on my long XL bike.

If the gradient of the trail is steep enough, water will drain down the trail which is understandable, but the "rules" seem to strict and will limit the challenge of the trail. If they are concerned about erosion, why would they remove roots from the trail tread? Why do they need to remove the roots from a climb?

My concerns?
-loss of classic singletrack (Killer Bees, Ziggy's, and soon T2)
-tight switchbacks (laundry chutes)
-trails do not look "natural" (trail benching, rock placement, root removal)
-challenge will not come from roots or steeps but from placed obstacles and tight switchbacks

My ideal solution to the initial problem:
-improve signage (done)
-build NEW singletrack that is rideable in poor conditions, and by beginners, instead of wrecking current challenging singletrack

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Going downhill fast

Peter's Tip of the day: When QEII turns into a clusterf***, it is probably a good idea to get as far away (east or west) as possible.

Someone got all butthurt over some misspelled f-bombs, but not the graffiti on the bridge?



Mavic neutral service

Wow there are a lot of mountain bike "racers" at 24 Hours of Adrenalin. Where did they all come from?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Canmore Nationals. Gluten Free?

A solid preparation week similar to how I have prepared for major races in the past. Finally, a working heart rate monitor as I mooched parts from Trevor Pombert's old Polar. Headed down to Canmore Thursday evening to allow the legs time to prepare for Sunday's race, pre-ride, and sign on. Speaking of sign on, apparently some riders have people who sign on for them. Must be nice...

It had been haunting me for the last two weeks: Should I jump the double logs on the first descent, "Mad Handler". 2 weeks before, I had gapped them, but had a weird crash on the next corner. Initially, I played it safe and rolled them, but while looping back up the climb, I saw Derek Zandstra gap the logs with ease. I had convinced myself to give it another go and then before I knew it, I was on the ground. Alright, no log hopping for me... The pre-ride pain continued when I tagged my hip on a tree on "Nectar Noodle". Ouch!

While having pre-race dinner at LunaBLUE (food was okay, $$$ and adagietto), Steve called me out for eating pasta, citing that gluten inflames muscles. "Haven't you ever listened to Allen Lim?" Well that set the tone for a weekend of WWALD (what would Allen Lim do) jokes.

Race day, watched some of Le Tour, then some live footage from the woman's elite race, and then headed up to the CNC in time to see the finish. After a solid warmup, I was in the start grid with the clock counting down the 45 second gap for our start (under 23 men) after the Elite men. Oh yeah, some frenchie offered up one beer to whoever won if he did not get lapped. I thought to myself:

yeah right. You are from Quebec; you came all this way to race; you must be fast

The start was not too bad through the start loop, nice and strung out, but I found myself in the back, which turned out to be a problem once 2 CVM riders decided to let a gap go (probably the dude who was worried about getting lapped). I chased back on, and the engine was nice and hot to slay the climb. However, my descending was not up to par as I lost contact with the riders I was with. Settled into laps 2 and 3 nicely, and started to notice the fade in lap 4. Finished lap 4 just before Elite winner, Geoff Kabush came in, phew, I did not get lapped! Lap 5 with the Coke bottle was survival mode to bring it home to the finish. After a solid effort 13 mins back, 16th place, and 5 UCI points (thankfully, not enough to race a World Cup), I was spent.

A few recovery beers helped to ease the pain, but I was still too tired to ride Highline. This year, I have "raced" myself into shape, but all of my MTB races have been just over 90 minutes. But the last 2 races have required at least 120 minutes of racing. When I would usually be "bringing it home" to the finish, I now have to try to avoid getting lapped and then do another lap on top of that! Already looking ahead to next year: by competing in more 2hr + races next year, and improving my descending, I can easily shave more time off my race!

The organizer really took a lot of heat about the course design. It actually seemed to have a nice ebb and flow, and was pretty good, it just did not live up to the Canmore reputation.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Too fast to be slow, too slow to be fast

photo: Emils Muehlenbachs

Well after a solid weekend of training in Canmore, I was pumped to test out the top end for the final time in the Tuesday race before the big race on the weekend. The legs were still a little dead from the weekend, but I was motivated to suffer hard, and that is what I did. I crashed at the beginning of the 2nd lap and looked down and saw a lot of blood on my left knee. Still finished the race strong! I had to get driven home from the race and headed to emerg. to get 3 stitches.

Wednesday morning woke up at 4 with my knee in excruciating pain, not due to the cut, but because of some bruising. Fortunately, I did not break my patella! The knee set me back pretty much until Saturday, where I put in a solid pre-ride to loosen up the legs without even noticing the bruise.

I was stoked for race day, and feeling pretty good as I rode to Kinsmen, ready to suffer hard. After chilling around the expo area and a warmup, I was called up near the back.

We are off, but on the first climb, there was a bit of a pileup (poor shifting/crash?) and so I had to get off and run. I was in 2nd last and there was another bottleneck on the next hill. The course was in really good condition except for a climb that is now permanently muddy due to a spring. I started picking off some riders, until I reached a Sask. rider (Cory Zet. BCW) who I just could not close the gap too. Some juniors passed me, and then I rode behind Emily Batty for a bit after she "chicked" me. More juniors, then Amanda Sin, dang chicked again. On the 4th lap, I was hurting pretty bad, and was waiting for my final lap Coke bottle to appear in my feeder's (Gary Middleton, thanks!) hands. It didn't come as I was only on my 5th lap, which I suffered some more on. Then I saw Derek Zandstra a little bit behind me, and so I hit the gas as hard as I could. I held him off just as he turned to go through the finish chute, but was pulled from the race. Thanks for putting me out of my misery! I wasn't disappointed as the legs were hurting and I left it all out on the race course. Solid race for me; legs were not quite there.

After the race, checked some results. There were some riders who were not far ahead of me. But almost all the riders I passed had DNF'd, so I was in 2nd last place! For 5 laps, my time was pretty much 2:00:00, which would have placed me well in my usual expert men category, competitive with the master experts; 2 women and a whole bunch of juniors beat me (ignoring tactics, battles, course conditions, etc...), so not too bad.

I've never really dominated the expert category; I've just thrown down some consistent podiums, and started closing the start gap into parts of the elite field. I enjoyed the prestige of racing in a Canada cup category, enjoyed having to deal with less lap traffic, enjoyed having a drier course due to a later start (except for the muddy hill, which only got worse).

How does it compare to last year? Last year with one less lap, I did not get lapped. I didn't see how long after I lapped through for my last lap that Andrew Watson finished last year. I technically just avoided being lapped today doing one more lap with what could be considered a stronger field. I was definitely noticing the home field advantage as I had a lot of the rooty lines dialed in. The only area I sucked on was the rhubarb'y area after the road climb.

Ha the next EMBA project should be to fix up that climb. I would be interested in helping out. As an engineer (not a CivE though) it would be interesting to see the solution. Do you have to bring in granular material, and some pipe to permit draining? Do you use wooden structures to divert the water or the trail? Is the trail a lost cause?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning how to ride

Let me tell you, I was thrilled when I found out that I had a four day weekend. What better way to spend a long weekend shredding with some pals in Canmore?

Driving back and forth to Canmore can get expensive, but JMidds and Wildcat tagged along to split travel costs. Not only did I make the most out of my hard earned Benjamins but I had so much fun riding with such skilled riders!

A sick drive down, and early on, it was decided that the radio would be locked on Top 40. After 4 or so hours of discussing the meaning of life, we arrived at our destination, chamoised up, caffinated, and proceeded to rip some of the newer Canmore singletrack for a couple of hours. An awesome ride, but I found out there that I have a lot of work to do to get faster on the descents. Oh yeah, and we ripped up Soft Yog's (soft yogurt) to the G-out, something that we would do to end all 4 days.

Canada day, and with the fireworks in the park behind the house, we made some s'mores in the firepit, pounded some brews, and played frisbee keep away with some annoying kids. More importantly, I stocked up on some 'rade.

The next day, we rode the course for the upcoming national championships.

A quick note about the course.
There is so much potential at the CNC, the course was short of delivering. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason why the designer chose to exit off Nectar Noodle early to descend via the double track instead of continuing down through the Albertan. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason why the designer chose to omit Soft Yog's and Devonian Drop, which were super popular during the Iron Lung. Apparently I am not the only person who thinks this course doesn't live up to its potential. It should be a good course for me as it has lots of climbing, few long technical descents to lose time on.

A big ride planned for Saturday as we rolled out from the CNC, getting bludgeoned by roots on the way to Banff. After being challenged by both the up and down of the Stoney Squaw trail, we could feel the bonk coming on, so we stopped for some burg's at The Eddie. Delicious!

Stony Squaw Hill Climb from cody canning on Vimeo.

After our feast, we chilled on the Goat Creek trail back to Canmore, and ripped some technical singletrack back into town.

On our final day, we decided to explore some of the trails on the opposite side of the valley, which led to more fun. The legs were definitely feeling the efforts of the previous 3 days, so a little break was req'd before riding another lap of the course. Part 2 of the ride, we set off with a fast group of XC skiers, collectively known as the "Fort Mac Crew", that is after witnessing the creation of a new hit single (the key to a good hit is good autotune).

XC skiers always seem very fast, and provided me with some good motivation. Fast riders behind me, fast riders in front of me. I crashed pretty hard the corner after gapping some logs, but instead of getting rattled, I was back up and ready to rip!

After a potato cannon "demonstration", we headed home, sad to leave Canmore, but happy with some good riding behind us, slightly improved technical skills (for me at least) and some big races coming up. We missed the closing of the BASS PRO SHOP, which was a little disappointing, but we saw the epicness looking through the windows. 'Till another time...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spectating National Championships

We will let the conspiracy theorists argue over whether this post is about the National championships of spectating, or me spectating the national championships.

Armed with my Alberta MTB Racing cowbell, I headed down to Hawrelack park in the morning, for what would be a very long, relaxing day outside.

Gave back to the community by volunteering for the women's race in the morning at the top of Emily Murphy hill, which consisted of me sitting in a chair in the shade, ringing my cowbell when the pack went by, and doing my best Bob Roll when answering questions from n00bs. I had a police officer with me who let select cars through and turned back the n00bs who were trying to drive down to the park, so I didn't have to do anything. After enjoying a macchiato from Da Capo, and a sandwich from Fresh Start served by a cute girl, I went out to ride a lap of the course with the full road closure.

Met up with some Hardcore teammates, and watched the men's race. I decided not to race, but I saw some cat 3's and 4's who man'ed up. Within a couple of laps, I could see them falling off the back. I did a couple of cat 2 races last year and got shelled, and the race was as long as the longest ride that I had ever done. After a fairly active first couple of laps, the race lulled, but then I realized that they were only halfway done! Then I saw lots of fast Albertan riders get dropped. Definitely glad I didn't race today!

Pumped to see some Alberta rep. in the break of the day with Spencer able to stick in until the end to claim 14th. Although the pack was whittled down, there was still a select collection of Alberta riders who finished the race. Dom Rollin put on a show for the crowd with an impressive pull but as a strong pro tour rider, he was heavily marked.

Cool race, would be cool to have it in Edmonton next year, I would try to get ready for that. Interesting to hear the opinion of the public on that one! Props to Sheldon Smart for beating Rob Jones to the athlete interviews!