Monday, July 29, 2013

Kicking Horse Cup

Well, I won the series last year, so I had no choice but to REPRESENT. As I was still tired and looking for a full night's sleep after a long drive back from the coast, I decided to skip the prolouge. Last year before the hill climb, we climbed to the paraglider launch on Mt. 7 and threw down a lap, but after a relaxed morning in Canmore, all I had time for was a very short mountain shadows rip before skin suiting UP for the hill climb.

I was feeling confident, knowing how I finished last year, and knowing that I should be stronger this year. The format was slightly different for me because I started with EVERYONE, not just the 5 or so U30's. After a flat rollout filled with lots of sketchyness, the big guns were all eager to get away by upping the pace on the 1st big ramp after the bridge. Fast old guy Olaf attacked and everyone in the group, including me underestimated his ability. I went next, but it was too little too late and along with another rider, we tried our hardest to reel him in. In the end, I rolled in 3rd, even a little slower than last year. Wind? CX bike? time spent on the flats? who knows.

getting up near the front to avoid the sketchyness and set myself up to follow the attacks.
The 60ish km road race is fun, especially with a hill capable of causing selections. I went in with the same game plan as last year, which due to what I think was a stronger field, was not as effective, but led to the same eventual result (I was close to "winning" last year). I again liked the Aussie pursuit format, it provided incentive to keep the pace high early on, and then race through the shrapnel from the older groups on the way to the finish.
outsprinting  the sketchies

So in all, 2 age group wins, wish I could have had a shot at the prolouge. Great event, great prizes, fun racing formats.

Meanwhile, Bill had been crushing self powered Mt. 7 laps and we were going to do a half lap before returning to Canmore. Unfortunately after a steep section, my front brake failed. Bill took one for the team and lent me his bike for the final singletrack: "I've already been down this twice".

After a big week of mountain biking and some racing, the legs are tired and it's time to relax!
great draw prizes!

Zest tour 2013

It was time to pay the grandparents a visit.

Kelowna: Made an attempt on Little White. On a hot 35C day in Ktown, it was nice to get up high! We ended up taking a wrong  route above the KVR and were climbing up a sun-exposed gravel  4wd road instead of the correct trail  through the trees. Once below the KVR and into the Myra-Belleview provincial park network, we descended Crawford to Hillbilly for a fun descent,  though I had to get used to my 26" Marin Attack Trail after spending a couple of months on the 29er. About 300m vertical from the bottom, the heat really set in, which changed our moods from failure to more opportunistic. An Okanagan lake dip was on order!

North Shore: After a short and sweet stop at granny's in Burnaby, we set off for the North Shore, a classic mountain biking zone. We climbed up Old Buck, Baden Powell and Mushroom trails with the intent on starting off with a Pangor lap, but a rock had other plans and got caught up in my rear derailleur after getting flicked into it by my tire.
Bent, with no cage spring tension. This Shadow is more like a Shadow minus
Bill enjoyed his lap, even hitting up Empress after. With a short, but expensive stop at Cove Bikes and some parking lot wrenching, I was back in business, and we headed up again, this time with the goal of trying out a new trail we had been informed of below the classic Dale's trail. There has been a lot of talk about the changing nature of the bike trails on the shore: Some argue that the movement is "dumbing down the shore", while others would like to open up the sport to new riders, impress land managers, and I'm sure lower their monthly expenditure on rear wheels and derailleurs.

In short, I enjoyed the trail with it's smooth transitions between short technical features, but Bill was not impressed with the meandering lines and almost too desperate addition of flow of the trail. Then the trail spat us out in no man's land: along the Bridle Path hiking trail, which required lots of (surprisingly enough) hiking to get us back towards our car. We pushed up and enjoyed the steep Applicator trail and on to the parking lot.

I was starting to feel better on the bike, and we just had to do a quick Executioner-Dreamweaver lap on Fromme before catching a ferry to Victoria. I loved Fromme. A nice, easy road climb up and some awesome descents!

Bill, in his natural element

"does it at least  look cool?" "kinda"

Sunset ferry ride. A must-do

In Victoria, we enjoyed excellent hospitality thanks to the other grandparents, and checked out the Mt. Work/Hartland zone. Mountain bikers in Victoria have it tough, with a large portion of their riding contained to one area 20km from the city. They have lost entire riding zones to questionable development (Bear Mt Golf Course being the main culprit. Boycott them if you love mountain biking...).  I've heard of other trails that can be connected to Hartland through the Highlands or other parks (Thetis Lake?) and Sooke, but there is not much information available on those connections. Anyways, we enjoyed riding the countless rock slabs. We rode a suggested "advanced" loop (little face-switchbacks-twister-snakes and ladders), thew in some other trails (lumpy, jelly roll, mindbender, dave's, trillium, who's your daddy, night shift, skull trail) and Bill even got in some gnar on "birth control". It seemed like endless Razor's Edge!

Our trip was short and sweet and we were headed home the next day, but not before a quick rip at Vedder, near Chilliwack. The Fraser Valley would be a sweet place to call home with lot of excellent biking and skiing options, without the clusterf*** that is Vancouver. On Vedder we rode 2 cents to Turd Ferguson to Dilemna and were surprised by the smooth trails and jumps that were just begging to be ripped fast. I came into a corner a little too zesty and laid 'er down. Fortunately, came up with no damage. 

Finally back home for a short stop before the Kicking Horse Cup road races in Golden!

Stoked to Get Spanked 2013

I had so much fun last year, and the 24 hours of adrenalin entry fee is a little too steep for someone who is underemployed, so I returned to Revelstoke to throw down at Mt. MacPherson!

Same great course as last year with a mix of everything: singletrack climbs, gravel road climbs, lungbustingly steep climbs, followed by some fast, flowy descents, and some tough singletrack. The field was a little deeper this year with some fast guys skipping out on 24HOA and of course, lots of local rippers. Armed with my Xprezo W-29, I felt really strong and smooth on the singletrack climbs, and was a little quicker on the descents, but I still lost time to better riders there.

I grabbed the holeshot pretty much uncontested and was able to stay out of trouble, but maybe I kept the throttle open for a little too long as others were able to impressively throw down equal lap times for the 2 laps, even with the temperature getting close to 30C!

After my slow fade during the race, I rolled over the line in 6th place, and then enjoyed my Begbie beer and the inexpensive burgers and fries. I've got a bit of work to do on pacing and descending still!

but I won my age group!

And got a sweet Shimano backpack!
Great event, thanks to Skookum Cycle and all of the sponsors. Put this one on the calendar for next year, or pay $1500 to do it in the Singletrack 6...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Shameless contest plug

My MEC outside moves me contest entry

vote every day!

I'll play nice and drop some stoke!

Urban singletrack

Sample my latest mix!

A pleasant evening double highwood before the road opened and then was flooded

The May Highline glacier. It was no match for my snow riding skills.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Perogy XC. Back in Edmonton

Back in Edmonton for a race, staying for some weight reduction. It has been a nice change riding the trails that I grew up on, and everything seems easier, not sure if it is my new 29er gobbling up the roots, or my riding skills that have developed after a year in Canmore. Sunday was the Perogy XC, the Provincial Championships for this year, but for me, just another race.With some solid results and lots of riding in the past couple of weeks, I was feeling strong.

Course: The course was twisty, tight, and punctuated with some steep climbs. I think it was an awesome test. Although all of the elite field were on 29ers, I think with all of the tight cornering, a 26" bike might be better off for sprinting out of the corners, that is, if you can carry speed through the corner as well as you can on 29.

Engine: The steep climbs and constantly accelerating out of the corners really taxed me today and I was maxed out and could do nothing when riders rode away from me, except try to keep them in sight.

Technique: I think I rode great today, I focussed on riding smooth. There were some sections where it felt like I was riding terribly, but then I would emerge from the singletrack with a rider in sight. Carrying more speed through the corners could help me.

TSN Turning Point: Corners, corners, corners. Great course, you needed the engine for the steep climbs and you had to know how to ride your bike.

In the end, I rolled in as the 7th and last finisher, another DFL, but "only" 5.5minutes behind the leader, much closer than I thought. The field is deep that is for sure!

Pedalhead did a great job organizing, stepping up with a great atmosphere, great prizes, food and got some significant media attention.

Anyways, I'm feeling like standard road trip Pete, where I try to ride as much good trail as possible whenever I am somewhere different! GO

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fernie Riding

Well, we survived the flooding unscathed, and like many other people in Canmore, it took a little more than rain to keep us off the trails! The trails here shed water and drain like sieves, so we were able to get back on the trails only a couple of days after the major rain event. The trails avoided the devastation of Cougar Creek, Exshaw, High River, and Calgary, with just a few washouts that I'm sure will be repaired within no time!

Riding with Xprezo rider Matt Hadley. He's enjoying his S-650 . 27.5" wheels are definitely interesting. Do the wheels accelerate fast enough to make a difference? Can you still float over rough singletrack with ease?

Hitting the gym! Great place to work the core!

Town spirit was amazing. People volunteering to fix the trails and gut basements, offer up places to stay, donate items. The Canada Day parade was still a GO with huge cheers going out to the crews who helped Canmore recover!
After a couple solid rides on greasy dirt, everything was back to tacky on Thursday, about a week after the start of the rains. However, we were off to Fernie, where Bill was to race the TransRockies Fernie Enduro. I opted to skip this event: it was nice to have a break from racing, and while the timed descent stages and point to point racing creates fun racing, the entry fee was a little more than I wanted to spend given my current under-employed status. It was also nice to explore some different trails.

Fernie is a place that I don't normally ride, but where I need to ride more often. It is 4hrs from Canmore, putting it at similar distance to great riding in Jasper (haven't been), and Revelstoke (maybe my favourite place to ride). But coming from Edmonton or Calgary, Fernie is just as far away as Golden, and Invermere, which although they offer some great riding, I don't think it compares to Fernie! 

Fernie has a large variety of trails in numerous zones that are all accessible from town! Over the course of 3 days, I was able to ride a great sampler of awesome trails. I pre-rode sections of the enduro course: Verboten (steep, rooty, the hardest trail I rode), Project 9, Mushroom Head, Red Sonja, Hyperventilation/Extension, and then I added on a bunch of other great trails: Ridgemount, S-bomb to Brokeback, Swine Flu, Kids Stuff/Splitting Bears/Hessian. So much great singletrack was enjoyed and there are lots of trails to check out for next time!

Up high on the stupid traverse. The only thing stupid about this would be missing it on a trip to Fernie!

There were lots of steep climbs that definitely tested my ability to push my 26 tooth little ring. But they got me to the top very quickly and I was able to crush 500-600m vertical laps in under an hour! With lots of roots and steeps, dry weather is certainly a must to make the most out of a trip. I found that my Xprezo handled the trails fine.

I had a great time and I was able to ride in all of the zones. Bill also had a great time riding a pretty fun course, but his experience was marred by timing errors, getting stuck behind slower riders on the sections he really cared about (the timed descents), and a lack of draw prizes!

Course marking of questionable quality

The enduro is certainly a cool format and it opens up racing to a completely untapped demographic. But there are some kinks that need to be worked out before I feel it is worth shelling out that kind of money: Verboten was the hardest descent but it came first. There were stories of a bit of waiting before dropping in so that riders could enjoy a clean descent, but still glory passes had to be made. It seems that timing errors led to one of the stages being cancelled in the results. As well, with the top 3 just a little over 30 seconds apart, one has to question the accuracy of the zone4 chip timing system with a supposed range of 15 meters. Accurate results and clean (well marked, great trails, free of both rider and other traffic) courses are really what separates racing from just going for a ride.

Skimo-er Niall. First MTB race?

Hardcore guys giving Bill the cold shoulder

The start. The riders going for the overall still had what looked like a relaxed start with no wacko (me) sprinting off the line. The "enduro" riders rolled off the line in their easiest gears.

North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) has stepped up and all of their toonie races are the enduro format. It's pretty cool that they could get something going at the midweek level. It would be nice if someone here would step up and get something going. I'm slightly interested, but I'm more of an XC guy and wouldn't be a strong enduro rider.