Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bacon Race

A good week of preparation with a Tuesday night race and Wednesday group ride, then an extremely lazy Saturday where I took my position on the couch all day, only getting off for a short ride to loosen up the legs.

As it had been raining, I was expecting a mud fest and was not very stoked. Riding in the mud can be fun, but sometimes it gets to a point where you are at risk of doing serious damage to yourself or your bike. But I got to the course and was looking at some of the riders from the earlier start, and they had NO mud on them, and their bikes were clean! So I was pretty excited. I didn't pre-ride the course but it was similar to previous years and BONE DRY (Alchemy? a gap in the Continuum?)

Got a good start, but Brian Robinson pretty much rode away. I was sitting in 3rd with a bit of a gap to the rest of the field, right behind a rider who was pretty strong (but I caught him carrying his bike over a log). I was getting a little sketched out as I was having a hard time seeing roots buried under a layer of dead leaves. So after the previously mentioned log, I saw the rider in front of me hit something but ride away cleanly, and then all of a sudden I was on the ground, and I hit my knee on my bike. I had hit a little hidden stump!

After I crash, I am usually a little ratted, but I started riding better on lap 2. Slipped into 5th, but managed to hold on and take 4th just before the finish. Not a great race, but a good race as it is my best result in Stoney Plain yet. With a couple of races in my legs, my form is a little better than previous years (where I have a history of bonking at this race), but I still haven’t been able to dial in the course. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a real fun course and a well organized race, I just haven’t been able to put together a solid race here!

Good to see Brian finally having a good MTB race, we were bugging him last week about sandbagging. The expert field is really competitive right now; it seems that there is a large group of riders who are all capable of taking a win! I’ll never get to Elite!

Oh yeah. And I would like to take this moment to thank all of my fans. It is amazing how many people I hear cheering for me during the race considering that I am not very talkative!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Cause it's 1-8-7 stomach?

Excellent race today for me at the Perogy race in Terwillegar Park. A new course this year, and there was much discussion about the removal of the Fireman's descent that was the main feature of the course from previous years. The new course was fast with a couple of short, punchy climbs.

I biked there with plenty of time to chillax in the shade.

I had a start position on the front row, or at least I thought that I did, until everyone scrambled to the line after the Elites started. Off the start, I proceeded to ride by everyone, except for two leaders (winner Mack Carson...on a cross bike. Nice ride!) who were riding away. At the end lap 1, I was sitting good, closing in on one of the leaders, and had a gap on the chasers behind me.

...WHEN SUDDENDLY, going through the feed zone, I could not see anyone holding my bottle of blue Gatorade!

Oh shit, I thought I had someone feeding for I don't want someone else's water; I need my 'rade in this heat!...hey this looks like my bottle bag...same bag, but it's not mine...okay, someone is offering me someone else's 'rade...let's go!. And after stopping and getting off my bike, I got passed by all the chasers....

So lap 2 was similar to lap 1, where I had to work my way up through the other riders. I was angry, and I took my anger out on my pedals. I moved into 2nd after one of the leaders had a mechanical, and held on through the finish, with a couple of riders making some threatening late surges. Ended up with some sick swag from River Valley Cycle.

My stomach was hurting all race, it was like there was a Holy War being fought in there, or my stomach was getting murdered (hence the 187). Didn't seem to affect my legs too much; the legs were feeling good! 187 also happened to be the number I seemed to see the most today when looking down at my heart rate monitor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can I take your picture?

Back in Canmore last week enjoying my last days of freedom before I start a summer of working.

The spring freeze-thaw cycle was well underway so there was no better time to a nice tour through the mountains. Surpr1se Pass, near Lake L0uise was the destination. Woke up at 4, and started walking up at 6:30 with Bill. Travel was fast on a supportive crust as we alternated from skinning to bootpacking when necessary (skinning on the trails, bootpacking on hard crusty sidehills and steep uphills).

In the upper reaches of the She0l valley we were looking for the couloir that would take us to the other side. There were a couple of other couloirs leading up to the top, but only the furthest one out fit the guidebook description (broad couloir leading up to a notch in the skyline). A couple of skintracks that had been blown over confirmed this. Small rocks (pebbles) were coming off the walls of the couloir as the ice melted, so we decided to get going before the rocks got bigger. Booted up the couloir, got the skis on, and prepared for our descent down the other side to Lake L0uise.

Bill dropped in first, and my ears were ready for the sound of skis on hard snow, but I heard nothing, instead seeing some blower cold smoke. When my turn came, I enjoyed making large, lazy turns through the soft snow, which turned into dust on a slightly supportive crust (it was supportive if you were "light" on your skis), and then a last section of old avalanche debris and some hard snow.

We made our way to the trail that wraps around Lake L0uise. We were getting some strange looks from people as we were walking in ski boots with skis on our packs. As we were nearing the Chateau, a family from Taiwan came up to us and asked us if they could take a picture with us. More funny looks ensued, and we got back to the car at 10:30, probably the earliest that I have ever finished skiing.

The Sadd1eback pass area is pretty cool, will have to go back there later to harvest some corn on the south facing slopes of Fa1rv1ew mountain. Unfortunately, no pictures were taken as Bill was unaware that his camera was in his pocket!

After a nice relaxing afternoon, the time came to cook supper and we opted for hotdogs in the backyard firepit.

"those embers are still pretty hot, maybe we should cook our vegetables on there too?"

Did some riding at the Nordic centre, riding the Canada Cup course from the previous years (possibly this year's nationals course?). It's dry, get after it! Let's show those in La Belle Province the REAL Alberta Advantage!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cruisin' the Coulees

Once again, a group of mountain bikers made the pilgrimage; making the long haul trip in the chase of an imaginary currency: points.

Lethbridge was the destination, and Jon B's Civic was the spaceship with Mike B and I in tow. High school style gossip followed by making fun of each others taste in music followed by more gossip.

I kept with my past pre-race rituals of eating as much as an offensive lineman the dinner and the breakfast before the race.

Nobody knew what to expect as the course had changed from previous editions due to a snowstorm earlier in the week. We were greeted with a short lap (<15min) with a couple of climbs, but none of the hike-a-bike sections of previous Coulee Cruiser's. Oh yeah, and lots of that type of mud that makes you feel like you are riding on a flat tire. A quick scan of the start list revealed some big guns (Stef Widmer in the elite race) but many unfamiliar names. A lot of fast elites though, so upgrading would be difficult.

I guess my warmup was insufficient because on the first climb at the start, a group of three (including eventual winner Jon B) got away. I rode in a chase group close behind, until the beginning of the 3rd lap (out of 6 for the expert race), when I figured that we needed to be going a little faster if I wanted a podium spot. I dropped off my chase companions, but faded before I could close the gap. Meanwhile, Jon had broken away from the other 2 and would cruise to victory, except that he was struggling on the descents after he dropped a contact lens. Got passed by Ryan C, who was also hunting for a podium spot, but came up short. A really close race as the leaders were in sight at the top of the climbs on most of the laps.

Seeing sport winner John C another expert rider behind me, and Stef almost lapping me was motivating, as I held on for 5th with an easy sprint.

A good showing for the Hardcore Race Team: Mike B. in second behind Stef in the elite race, Jon B. with the win in expert race, me 5th in the expert race, and John C. powered away for the win in the sport race.

Claimed some draw prizes, and we were off: more gossip, insulting each other's taste in music, followed by more gossip!

A tight expert field, and a good reminder of how important getting a good warmup and hammering off the start is.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Velocity SR May 1-2, Canada, Road-UPT (ProTour)

...okay, well ProTour is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is always comical to see how seriously people take time trials (in terms of equipment), when there are only like 8 TT/yr, and the equipment is pretty much for racing only! If I organized a stage race, it would have a Merckx TT, where you would have to do it on mass start legal equipment. That way, the BEST time trialist would win, someone who has the power and knows how to suffer and pace themselves, not the person with the Swiss bank account and wind tunnel time.

Seriously, I am just complaining about how much I suck at TT's, as the aero equipment probably does not make THAT much of a difference... (seconds, when I may be losing minutes). Ya, ya, I suck at TT's, just like I did last year and the year before, and it something I should probably improve as it will help me in other events.

Other than that, some pretty average racing on my part. I felt strong at the end of the road race, I just was not confident enough in my sprinting abilities. I love the races where the pack is slowly whittled down and only the best riders are left. Gutter riding or hills, no one can hide from the suffering!