Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mo'vember 2010

Well, it was a story of two seasons.
Month started with high double digits, peaking at +22C on one Thursday afternoon near mid-month.
Just a few days later it was -22C, with about a foot of snow piled up across the whole province.
Took me about a week of bussing to get the bike seasoned for winter (studded tires, block pedals, shoe covers, new brake pads, etc.
After a week of ~90+ minute public transit commuting, I finally got back on the horse, er, bike.
Even got in one (short) run during what would end up being the coldest day of the year so far!

Total distance:
571.03 kms

Yes, I need to include that 30 meters, because every meter traveling in snow/ice/slush/cold/wind/traffic/etc is worth mentioning!

Friday, October 29, 2010

October 2010

Summer's definitely ended. Sub-zero morning temperatures, pitch-black mornings, double-digit afternoons, backpack crammed full of the morning's winter gear, abundance of wildlife encounters (daily deer, and frequent porcupine sightings, a coyote), and yes, even snow...

And I'm just talking about last Friday!
Yes, the same day a porcupine stealthily shot a quill at my tire and caused me to flat on the way to work. Ok, no quill was ever found, but it could have been dislodged by the rotation and contact w/ the fork.

  • ~700 kms cycled
  • 29 kms ran (still way below target)

Friday, October 1, 2010

September 2010

Well, first full month without a race.
Started out a bit depressed about that, thinking of how long that off-season is in road racing.
Considered cross, but I have enough trouble getting better at all the elements of road racing (TT, hill climbing, sprinting, endurance, etc.), that I should just focus on that for now.
Plus I wouldn't be able to just "try it and have fun"... I'd want to improve and take it seriously.
Kind of need a break from that. Not necessarily 8 months, but oh well...


  • 815 km cycled
  • 10 km ran (yes, weak, I know)
No excuses really. A week's worth of *almost sick so I don't wanna get worse*, combined with a bit too much rain, and a helluva lot of side-work has kept me from lacing em up and running.
Hope to do closer to 50 or 60km per month this winter.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Can't stay off the pavement...

Aye... glad it's almost winter for one reason only: softer landings!

Yes, new month, new road rash. Going home from work on Friday, feelin' good... nice tailwind going down the pathway ramp off Glenmore Trail. Speed was probably a bit high, but the angle I turned at would've been fine on the road tyres. Except that just this week I threw the knobbies back on the 'Cross bike to get used to some trail/off-road again. Well, apparently the angle at which you lose contact with the road is less than that of my slicks... Bike slid out from under me and slam... right hip/elbow/shoulder say hello to pavement. Well, more like "hey pavement, long time no see... NOT!"

So tired of the stinging showers, polysporin, and uncomfortable nights...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 2010

  • <800 kms this month. Quite low due to races, rain, and recovery (aka healing).
  • Took part in 2 stage races, 6 races total. Top placement, 6th in JayLap RR and Omnium.

Damage Assessment, 15 days after "the crash"
  • Bike
    • Handlebar re-taped, and re-tightening of loose bolts.
    •  Scratches on paint and hoods, rubber casings on order.
  • Body
    • 90% of road rash has scabbed and cleared up.
    • Only deeper sections on elbows and knee remain.
    • Left pinky finger feels a bit more damaged, as I still have reduced mobility, and acute aching when stressed (such as typing the Shift key on my keyboard).
    • Right shoulder  still has a "sweet spot" that  reminds me of the impact.
    • Left knee, while at about 90% mobility and feeling better, may still have some impact damage, as I feel a hint of it occasionally.
That was a little update about the busy month of August.
Very likely have I concluded all racing for the year, so will post a racing-year-in-review thread in the coming weeks.
I may try to get in a short running race sometime in the fall, say half-marie or less, but my run training has dwindled in the past month, so I don't expect anything amazing.

Also, I'm actively resting for the coming weeks, in order to be refreshed for winter training / commuting, and heal up my skin and bones!
Need to start thinking about my off-season plan this winter. Can't simply bike to work without a plan. The miles are good, but I'm gonna need more structure, and definitely some long, continuous rides throughout on the trainer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jason Lapierre Memorial Weekend

Saturday, Aug 21 - Acme 40k ITT

Not only do you get pleasure of driving way out to the middle of nowhere, but when you finally arrive, you get to torture your body in ways you would not wish upon your worst enemy. Then drive all the way back to civilization!
That said, the course chosen was very scenic, and the roads were in excellent condition (unlike me).
A bit chilly (needed base layer), and some the air quality was quite poor due to forest fires in BC.
Almost too fast for the camera!
Along with Mike and I, a few friends were there entered into the citizen's class; my dad, Simon & his dad, and Minh.
The course was 20km out and back, featuring several medium-sized rollers and one significant climb right before the turnaround.
My pacing was probably too high on the ascents, as I was not recovering quickly enough on the flats to regain the pace each time.
I think I did the first half in about 38 minutes. The overall decline on the return quickened my pace a bit, and overall I finished in 1:06:27.
Not too bad I guess. I would've been happy with this time as I was hoping for sub-1:07, except that for some reason everybody else was killing it that day, not the least of which was Mike, who hammered an amazing 1:01:47!
Eric was not loving the hills + altitude, but said he enjoyed the course and the great workout.

  • Make sure to check and adjust aerobar length/positioning. Having borrowed Eric's, I didn't know the bars could extend so was riding a bit tucked in the whole time. This caused me some painful moments in the 2nd half, as I was struggling to find a comfortable position.
  • Train more for sustained, consistent power output.

Saturday, Aug 21 - Downtown Criterium

With about 3 hours' rest at home, we get back in the car and head downtown for the crit.
This time the whole family comes along, and meet up with Mike's,  Minh's, and Scott's families. The place is buzzing as the MC's and DJ are entertaining, and the concession booths are abundant.
We warmup, which basically involves a lot of light spinning to recover/prepare the legs.
At the startline, Mike and I leadout again, but it's only for about half a block as I find myself at the very front leading the charge.
Don't mind this, as I get some camera time for the family, and get to dictate the pace to my liking.
Mike, Scott Fraser, and I absorb a large portion of the lead for much of this race, with Scott and I coming in 4th and 3rd in one of the primes (can't touch Morgantini - who took it riding on a flat tyre!)
Well, our strategy of laying out some hurt was not really working, as very few riders were dropped.
Instead, on the final lap we were caught by a late surge from, among others, Mike Hoang, who won it. Not far behind was Mike, then me, then Scott rounding out the top 10.
Definitely our strategy did not work on this course. The corners were very wide, and it was easy to pass people anywhere, so no breakaways were going to succeed.
Mike H's strategy of sitting at the back until the final lap was key to his victory.

Sunday, Aug 22 - Bergen Hills Road Race (~50 km)

Billed as a circuit race containing Nepal-like climbs, 2 hours NW of the city, I was NOT looking forward to this race...
The only thing stopping me from bailing was a) having to tell Mike he's now driving solo, and b) this is the last ABA points race of the year.
Well, the morning was a bit chilly again, and the pace of the first lap was relatively tame, with Mike and I doing our time at/near the front. Going into the section of climbs in the 2nd half of the lap, I calmly pedalled through with a high cadence, gauging the competition's fitness.
I knew we were not going to drop many people in this race, nor was a breakaway going to succeed on this day.
Going into the 2nd lap, I decided and convince Mike, to hang at the back of the pack.
The pace seemed slower, maybe just our perception, and certainly my effort level was greatly reduced. Going from a 147 avg HR in the first lap, to 122 avg in the 2nd lap (both way below race intensity!)
I made a decision to make my move from last to middle right before the descent leading into the final climb.
That way, I would have a clear lane to descend as fast as I could (without braking), and be in decent position for the climb.
Well, this worked out pretty well, and I nearly caught up with Mike and the front guys. Cresting the hill, I had a bad shift back to my big ring, and just couldn't reel in Mike. Soon he was passed by Mike H, but hung on to increase the gap in front of me. After sprinting for about 200m solo, I was passed by a cyclemeister, but still managed a respectable 6th, and a 6th overall in the omnium.
Congrats to Waldhuber for a killer weekend, taking in 2nd overall in the omnium! And of course, to teammate Mike H for his 1st place in the crit and omnium.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Provincial RR

Well, it was a race of contradiction for me.
30+ guys lined at the start,near Cochrane. For the first time, Mike and I lead out the start, along with two guys from Juventus. It was a great feeling to set the pace and socialize a little for the first few kms.
Through the first half I sat comfortably in around the top half of the pack, which was a very comfortable group; nothing like Pidgeon Lake.
Nobody was trying to attack, nobody was being an idiot trying to force themselves to the front.
At the half way mark turnaround, the oncoming "Hill" loomed. This is the hill of legends. That is, everyone I talked to before and during the race, talked about this hill.
About 1km in length, and quite steep, it certainly did wreak havoc on the peloton. I was feeling really good, however, and managed to side-step several riders, including Mike, and keep up with a small pack of about a dozen riders off the front, consisting of about 5 STers.
A couple of us tried to get a paceline going, but the majority were just dragging their wheels, and it was a bit frustrating, as the rest of the riders eventually caught up to us again. For the final 30 kms, I was always in a top 3 position, along with a Juventus rider, and another ST. Nobody else was coming up to help drive the pace, fearful of excerting too much energy no doubt.
Nonetheless, I was feeling really good. At the 10km mark, a pedalhead guy jumped up to push the pace a bit, and going into the final turn, I sat comfortably in about 4th wheel, right where I wanted to be to launch my sprint attack.
The only problem was that I was a bit boxed in between 2nd and 3rd, but I considered it bonus, so that no matter which of them sprang first, I would follow them. Something happened with around 400m to go, just as the real race began... my front wheel clipped the rear wheel of the guy in front of me as they started swaying under the force of accelleration. I went over the bike hard and just like that, my glorious run to the finish was over.
So dissappointing. Never before have I been so close and feeling so good to contest a podium spot; I know these opportunities don't present themselves every day for an old guy like me!

A damage assessment ruled that the handlebar was completely spun around on it's stem, and both hoods were bent in and the rubber and bar tape was completely thrashed. My gloves looked like confetti, as did my one shoe cover, as did the left shoulder of my ST jersey.
Personally, I was quite fortunate to come out with nothing more than a bad case of road rash... both elbows, left knee, both wrists, most fingers, hip, and shoulder. In fact, I'm sure I'll be finding new scrapes for the days to come...
Walked my bike across the line and got patched up by the EMS, then began the healing process at home, putting my bike back together.

I should note, that my energy level and nutrition were great. Bev had made some wonderful Feijoada (ride, beans, meat) which I had been taking in for a few days prior.
Also, ate my cereal bar early, about 90 mins before race time.
Had one energy gel after the big hill, about the 1 hour mark. And I brought a bottle of Gatorade G2, which was not quite finished by the end, but adequate for the sub 2hr race.

JayLap this weekend, so I hope this skin heals so I can get a good night's sleep soon...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tour De Bowness

Saturday, July 31 - Road Race

Well, the course profile showed this race to consist of 9 laps of a 5.3 km circuit, which included about a 2km climb at the end of each lap. A field of about 40 riders lined up in the parking lot and then on to the race path, on a beautiful sunny morning.
The course was quite narrow, with strategically placed traffic cones throughout the course, making it hard to ride more than 2 or 3 abreast in many sections. The first 2km of the loop were pretty insignificant,  followed by a fast, straight descent, which ended with a 90 degree hard right turn, right into the final climb before the finish.

The pace started out moderate, and I settled in around 20th wheel for much of the first half of the race. Around lap 2 I saw Mike come up beside me, who said because of the tightness of the pack, it had taken him 2 laps of inching forward to make it to that halfway mark of the peloton.
He surged ahead at one point and go off the front for a bit, only to be swallowed by the headwind + rolling hills. Somehow he got in back behind me, and when one rider slipped and skidded out in that final corner, Mike was on the outside line and was held up slightly. I was lucky to be on the inside line and could catch the rush going up the hill, and managed to stay on the wheel during the attack that followed.
I was hurtin' though... man. At a couple of occasions, I seriously considered pulling over and dying. Perhaps if I was not in the lead pack I might have done just that.
But I pressed on, trying to minimize my work effort until necessary to stay on the wheel in front of me.
Spent laps 6-8 near the back of the splintered lead group of about 15 riders, barely hanging in there at times, then catching my breath just enough to stay in there. At this point, there was no sign of Mike and the at least 20 other riders behind...
On the 8th lap final ascent, the lead pack attacked again, but this time I resigned myself to find my own pace (had been riding in the red for WAY too long at this point), and hopefully find some other stragglers to pace with so we wouldn't get caught by the pack behind us.
Another guy rode beside me, obviously with the same idea, and asked how many laps left?
I said I thought one more after this, so let's ride together. He agreed and we rode steadily along to the line, when I saw and heard Scott hollering "don't let him pass you, Reinier!"... holy crap, this WAS the last lap!?
I bolted ahead in the last couple meters to take 12th or something. Dang. If only I'd realized this was the last lap. It probably would've helped with my morale, feeling like I was about to get dropped at anytime, with another lap to go... aye. Stupid... oh well. I was definitely happy the race was over, sore, and a bit queasy for having tried a new mix I picked up from Ridleys - I know I know, always try it first in training!

Sunday, August 1st, Hill Climb

3-up time trial, up the road to Canada Olympic Park (beside the bobsled track), 1.25 kms with about 400 ft increase in elevation; approx 10% grade. Definitely has the making of some serious agony.

Mike and I arrived with plenty of time to warm-up, as they hadn't posted our start-times online. There had been some confusion in the results from the RR the day before, so we were just hoping for a fair (time) trial tonight. I was to be paired with a guy who frequents the WNS with Mike, Andrew Paul, and someone else (didn't recognize the name). Mike was starting 4 minutes later, with only one other rider. However, both mine and Mike's heats were short a man, so I was with Andrew, and Mike rode by himself.
Watching the Jr's earlier, two of them wiped out within 5 feet of the start, one due to a broken chain and another just lost balance. Nice way to start!
I, luckily, did not suffer such a misfortune, and when the countdown hit zero, I bolted out of the gate.
Andrew swung on behind me through the first straight away and the proceeding left kickback. I realized he was right on my tail, so I took the next turn widely and let him pace-set. I also realized that turn was going straight into the wind. He was setting a great pace (not too fast to burn me out, not too slow) so I told myself I  would swap pulls on the next turn. The turn came and went, and I told myself, ok, just a little longer...
Definitely painful experience. I sat in behind Andrew until the final turn, when he seemed to lose a bit of steam, so I jumped in front, with about 80m to go. There was nothing but willpower left as I stood up in hopes that I may find a hidden gear somewhere in there. Nope. I got a good jump on him, but climaxed about 10 ft from the finish line, as Andrew edged past me at the line.
Can't complain, he did such a large portion of the pulling/pacing. My watch time said about 4:54, but I glanced at the time sheet which said 4:59 I think. Still under 5, which was my hope (after pre-riding the hill).
Mike came in shortly thereafter at around 4:45.
Both of us were a bit disillusioned by the pace of the young guns that lead out before us too, combined with the times from last year, which had the cat 5's winning time at 4 mins flat, and 10th spot only 30 seconds behind that. (top racer over all was 3:12!).
Maybe they had a tailwind... we'll see when the results are posted.
Oh, and the weight of my bike was also on my mind. About 1.4 kg heavier than Mikes, which was already a kg heavier than the minimum allowed.
Another guy weighed in his Madone, which was 2 kg lighter than mine! I guess you get what you pay for!
Well, last-chance crit tomorrow...

Monday, August 2nd - Criterium

What went right:
  • Adequate warm-up. Hit the trainer for about 10 minutes, then did about 7 laps of the course.
  • Decent start-line placement - too busy gabbing to get a line at the front, but was 2 back. At least I had the outside line going into the first corner.
  • Cornering. I felt very comfortable around each corner, and found myself using the corners to close gaps in front of me.
  • Overal awareness. I had no problems this time with knowledge of which lap we were on, when the prime laps were, and when the final lap was on.
  • General resiliency. Although I was never really "feeling" it, I hung with the lead pack till the end.
What didn't:
  • My head. Combination of poor sleep, disappointment that the family couldn't come, and frustration with the ABA officials (they reverted the RR results to the original, botched, list!)
  • My legs. Lack of hill-specific training paid it's price from the hilly RR and the HC the next day. I was definitely NOT feeling fresh from the very onset of the crit. 
I finished 12th, with Mike sneaking ahead of me for 11th. I'm content with my performance in the crit, and can't really identify any mistakes made, other than more training obviously. Oh, and I've got to stop eating them Sweet N' Salty bars right before the race. Ate one before each of the three stages and in each one my stomach was a bit queasy... d-uh!

Overall, I am a bit disappointed with my performance in this stage race.
I finished the RR about where I expected to, the HC I knew wouldn't be my strong suit, I just didn't realize how many fast kids would be in the race too, and I had higher hopes for the crit result.
Also, I'm very disappointed with the organization of this event, specifically the officiating. I don't think having to argue with officials at the start of each race is the best way to prepare for a big race. Not sure if I'm going to do TdB again next year. Certainly not the HC (although I'd love to train on that hill.)

Images here

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 2010

Training with sorrow is definitely not the same as training with anger.
Instead of being fueled to push yourself harder, to suffer more, all you want to do is pull over to the side of the road and curl up in a little ball...

Recap of July
  • 924 kms (riding + running.)
  • Close encounter with dogs & pavement.
  • Couple of nice rides in Houston with Eric, Vince and Astrid, including group ride with WCC in Willis.
  • Stage 1 of Tour de Bowness, Road Race - report upcoming.

* RIP Anneke (mum) - I'll always keep you in my heart. *

Friday, July 16, 2010

Watch out for that...

...Dog!! Well, two of them, technically.

I was riding home last night after work, along the bike path between
two fenced-off sections of dog park. There were a couple of cyclists up
the path from me, for which a couple of dog owners were waiting at the
crossing gate.
When the cyclists passed by, the dog owner did not bother looking up for
more cyclists, and proceeded to open the gate and "release the hounds!"

I saw her holding the gate from a distance, but as with most
dog-owner-path-crossers, I figured she had seen me and was now
watching/talking to her pets, waiting for me to pass also, as I didn't
see her make any movements to open the gate, etc, after the previous
cyclists passed...

Just as I enter the roundabout/crossing, she opens the gate and 2 large,
hairy dogs immediately bolt blindly in front of me.
I slam on my brakes to avoid severing one of the pooches, and manage to
reduce my speed enough to avoid serious injury to the dogs, but because
my rear brake is significantly thinner than my front (replacement is
sitting on my desk... yyyyea, I know), I end up flying over my
handlebars and lying underneath the bike on the pavement!

Shoulder took the brunt of it (road rash and deep bruising), followed by
forearm (long scrapes), wrist, hip, and thigh.
As for the bike, my flight deck was scratched and turned inward a bit,
bar tape torn, some other scratches on the paint, and my rear wheel
dislodged (and un-trued).

The dog owner was very apologetic, "I didn't see you...", well, that's
because you didn't look, b*****.

I put my wheel back in place and rode home sore, pissed off, and
bleeding from 7 different places, but otherwise ok.
Could have been worse... at least I could still ride in today.

Pictures coming shortly.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010


- Achieved 1,000 kms between running and cycling again, although just barely. Rain for much of the month plus short distance races did not help...! Please let July have more sun than rain.

- Pigeon Lake RR - survived! And experienced my first mass sprint-finish, as over 30 riders stayed together till the bitter end.

- Banff Bike Fest - What a great experience overall. Hill Climb was less than ideal, but I used that dissappointment to fuel my ITT less than 48 hours later. Also, my first crit I not only managed to NOT get lapped, but even got my first whopping 2 ABA points for coming in 8th! Had a great time, and really felt comfortable and in my element in that race. Apparently, I'm more of a sprinter than a climber.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Banff Bike Fest - Updated

Thursday (PM) - Surprise Corner Prologue (Hill Climb) - details

Forecast: Periods of rain. Amount 5 to 10 mm. Snow level 2200 metres rising to 2700 metres this afternoon. High 13.
Yeesh, this should be interesting...
Well, no snow, but did rain all day, in fact all week, so I only rode in Monday. Less than ideal, but that's how it goes.

No matter how well you go over preparations in your mind, it doesn't take much to completely derail your plans on race day.

The Plan:
  1. Rent a car to drive to/from Banff Thursday night, picking me up at home at 8:00.
  2. Borrow sweet wheelset from Scott on Thursday.
  3. Borrow Scott's bike trainer for a thorough, and consistent warm-up, combined with a pre-ride of the hill to both learn the course, and elevate the heart rate.
  4. Leave my office at 1:45, arrive in Banff by 3:30, leaving 40 minutes to warmup and register before my race start at 4:10:30 pm.
How it actually unfolded:
  1. My car rental pickup was 2 hours late in the morning, halfway to the rental place I realized I forgot my wallet, and at the rental shop they "upgraded" me to another car, so I had to swap the bike rack to the next car.
  2. Due to starting work so late, I had very limited time at the office to remove my cassette from my wheel and place it on a sweet, ultra-light Mavic Ksyrium set on loan from Scott.
  3. Left my office 15 minutes behind my planned time.
  4. Once in Banff, spent 10 minutes driving around trying to find the start line/registration/parking. It was not obvious, so I parked "close".
  5. After installing my new wheels, and inflating them, and getting dressed, I realize I have no time to use the trainer, and should probably make sure I find the registration table.
  6. Biked to the table, which ended up being only a block away. There they start panicking that I'm about to start, and should hurry and sign here, initial there, sign here, and oh, by the way, the license plate/numbers are not the same as the ABA numbers I got last race, BBF has their own set, so remove the pinned number from my back and replace with the new one. Find Darcy who kindly pins me up, and I end up pinning up someone else who's pins have come out.
  7. Quick bio break; rushed, but sufficient. Nutritional intake plan was flawless.
  8. Name is called for bike weighing, and standby for start.
  9. Looking at the first 500m, it's flat, if not downhill a bit. I realize that my plan of staying in my small ring is not going to work. I gear up and hammer it. Some odd rattling going on in the rear derailleur though... don't like it.
  10. Surprise corner. Aptly named. I round the bend and shift to my small ring. I said, shift to my SMALL ring... argh. It doesn't go. I shift back up to eliminate dreadful grinding noise.
  11. 20 seconds later, while ascending, I try again. This time it pops down! Phew. Just in time for the real hill. I get my gearing right and push up the hill. Not 100% power though because I still feel the RD wobbling.
  12. I crest the summit, but do not realize it. There are a few people watching about 50m away, then I realize they are standing at the finish line. I sprint the last section, probably faster than anyone else there, as I had been holding back on the hill, not anticipating the finish.
Finished the race in about 3 1/2 minutes, which I KNOW I could've done better, under different circumstances.
I did really feel the lightness of the wheels though as the climbing itself was "almost" easy. No idea how the field did, I suspect Darcy did it in about 3 flat, and others within 30 seconds of that.
Missed opportunity, as there were several DNS's, making the field size relatively small, and some older and some bigger guys that I'm sure I could've beaten.
Oh well. Off to Banff again this afternoon for tomorrow's two races!

Wish me luck!! (apparently I could use some!)

Saturday (AM) - Individual Time Trial - details

Well, the best thing that you can hope for after a bad race is a short time to wait for the next one. Well, I guess you could hope for 11 disqualifications (found out that I came in 12th - doesn't sound bad, but there were only 16 riders that started in my cat) for doping or something, but either way, less than 48 hours after my dissappointing Prologue, I was completely fired up and in desperate need of some personal vengeance.

Despite a sleepless night (kids were too excited about their "sleepover with daddy!"), and several last minute equipment adjustments, I was fired up to redeem myself.
I began the 21km ITT from Banff Ave, up to and looping around Lake Minnewanka at 8:12, about 24th to start (30 second gaps.)
I suspected a speed of 40 kmph would be required to win a cat 5 TT, and although I had no delusions of grandeur, I wanted to keep my speed as close to that as possible.
Out of the gate, there was a slight breeze from behind, and I managed to average about 43 for the first 3 or 4 km, until I got to the first set of hills.
By the 2nd or 3rd hill I noticed my heart rate around the mid 180s, much to high to endure, and was having trouble catching my breath. I had to settle it down a bit on a small descent, but then saw my 30 second man in front of me, so sucked it up and pressed on, this time staying cognizant of my HR, ensuring it not get much higher than 175.
I neared the crest and midway point of the race as my 1 minute behind me guy passed me. I recognized him as the winner of the Prologue (Justin Warsylewicz - Bicisport), and figured, if this guy only beats me by one minute, I'll be in good shape. I also discovered something very encouraging; he was riding a regular (albeit full carbon + top of the line components) road bike. No TT bike, aero helmet, skin suit. Not even aerobars! Sure, he was only 17 or 18, but still...! There is hope for me.
Anyway, with Scott and his family hootin' and hollerin' at the top I pushed hard on the descents and kept Justin in sight.
I pushed hard, with no intention of preserving anything for the next race.

Across the finish line in 34:12, out of breath, legs pulsating, I felt that sought-after sensation, of needing to puke! Yes... never managed to get that during the hill climb! I had achieved one of my goals for the weekend!
My other goal was to break my previous speed of 34 kmph in Austin.
I finished with a final speed of 36.8, for which I was elated. Considering how hilly the course was, I was very happy, regardless of where I ended up in the standings.

Going back to the Speed Theory tent, I heard Chris Hooper say he finshed in about 31 minutes, and other guys mentioning they did it in 32 minutes, I suddenly figured, ok, that's just from our team, and I'm already about 4 back.
Turns out that Hooper won the event, Bicisport Justin came in 2nd, 6, 8, and 9 were other teammates, and I came in 10th!
Well, when Scott told me that I was ecstatic.
Considering how many riders were in this event (44 on start list, not sure how many DNS'd), I was thrilled to have achieved my first ever ABA top 10 finish.

Saturday (PM) - Lezyne Criterium - details

Well, having not slept, combined with all out effort in the morning's ITT, I was getting nervous about the evening's criterium.
Met up with Scott's family for breakfast, followed by some Banff town strolling, and a ride up to Lake Minnewanka, to show Bev & the kids the course. Saw tons of Mountain Goats, had lunch at the lake, and my nervousness increased as the clouds rolled in and it began to rain.
By 3pm it was pouring hard, but it magically stopped at 4:30. I managed to warmup outside the ST tent, and took off arm & leg warmers as the sun came out again. The roads were still all wet, but at least they were in the process of drying up.

After a solid 30 minute warmup, I rolled out to the parcours. Very cool how the streets are all fenced off, with hundreds of spectators lining up the fences!
Got in a couple of laps to test out the corners, look for potholes, etc, and then went to line up. Well, my timing wasn't perfect as I got to the start line at the back of the ~30 man pack. My number was not on properly, so I couldn't advance and thankfully my teammate Rob fixed the number. Then I found out there would be no neutral lap, and I was all the way on the left (first turn is the 180 hairpin turn left, so I didn't want to be on the inside).
With local celebrity Gord Gilles MCing the race and another racing expert calling the out the play-by-play on the loud speakers, the race began, the lead motorcycle revved and we all took off.
Decent pace to the wet u-turn, as 30 amateurs cautiously maneuvered through the bend, and then it was race on!
The pack was lead by a large contingent of Bicisport riders, and they took off in fine form. Between me and them were 10 or 15 decent riders, but they could not keep up with the Bici-train, so gaps opened up immediately.
I dodged and weaved for the next 2 or 3 laps, sprinting on the "long" straight stretch, before the hairpin, and found myself about half a block behind the bici-train (there were others in there, including Eric Johnstone, winner of Pigeon Lake, and one other teammate, Hooper.)
I was gaining on the lead group of about 10; every time going into the hairpin they would be closer, until about 5 or 6 laps later when I just couldn't maintain that pace anymore.
Luckily, my teammates showed up behind me, and I pulled in behind them for a few laps of "rest".
The pace settled in a bit at that point, as we were not gaining nor losing time on the lead pack, which was starting to drop people off the back.
I soon realized there were only 2 packs remaining now, with about 7 or 8 up front, and the same in my pack.
I was always 1st or 2nd in my group and didn't know how many were still with me. Witnessed (and in a couple occasions dodged) some minor crashes but was never in a uncomfortable predicament.
I did notice that very often during that hairpin, I would begin to pedal before being completely upright, causing my pedal to smack the pavement, causing my bike to "skip", which looked more uncontrolled than it felt.
Nearing the final few laps, I jostled with a couple other riders and managed to pass a few before the final turn.
I crossed the finish-line in 8th place overall, exhausted, but very content.
My first ever top-8 ABA finish! (yes, I intend to say that everytime!)
Looking at the results, I can see how many good riders got lapped (and thus eliminated), so I'm very happy with that placing.

Got to watch some of the Invited Men racing later that evening, and WOW are they ever fast!! Get a sense of the smoke monster from LOST flying by, as 80-100 cyclists buzz past, tightly maneuvering those corners in a giant mass of precision and intensity.

Final Thoughts
  • Be sure to allow enough time for check-in, numbering and thorough warmup.
  • Be more thorough with equipment check. Reliant on note above.
  • Continue to add high intensity workouts to my routine. Previous week's hill and sprint intervals definitely aided my performance this weekend.
  • Get me some wheels like Scotts (Mavic Ksyriums) and a trainer!
  • No more excuses about equipment (other than wheels and a trainer of course)!
  • Start-line positioning is utmost importance, especially in a crit. Less important in a TT.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pigeon Lake RR

Well, TomK pretty much summarized the race for everyone on the ST Blogspot, but here goes a little personal perspective.

As stated, much of the race consisted of extremely tight quarters, elbow rubbing, plenty of "whoahs", and a bit of cycling.
I wanted, as everyone did, to stay as close to the front for when the breakaway attack was going to happen.
The problem was that there were no consistent, repeated attacks.
The surges were distanced enough for the majority of the peloton to regroup and recover.
On the southbound stretch of the Sundance loop I found myself barrelling along the left edge of the group all the way to the front, where I figured I would test the old legs out a bit. I gunned off the front, Mike on my tail, "you going for it?"
"No" was the answer, and it came in the form of me realizing how nice it had been, staying sheltered from a significant headwind, and subsequently backing off. Within minutes, I was all the way at the back again!
Interestingly, I tried the same thing at the exact same place the 2nd time around that loop, but this time with a little more gusto.
Mike, again, was on my tail hollerin' something. Could've been something like, "with ya", or, "idyat"...
Anyway, this time we literally propelled past the pack... but there was that friggin wind again!
And instead of a small, ambitious group of wanna-be heroes, it was 40 not-wanna-let-anyone-get-away party poopers.
Anyway, like last time, I ended up and the very back again within minutes as the surges on both left and right continually engulfed the middle of the pack.
I had to stay near the top third. I realized that no breakaway was going to succeed, and I knew I had easily enough gas left in the tank to keep up with any surges, but that probably most people did.
I knew the finish line was at the crest of a slight hill, and I didn't wanna end up behind someone struggling on the ascent, so I began to claw my way up.
At about 7km from the finish, Mike initiated a couple of attacks that were both reeled in, but caused minor havoc in the group, with people stepping up to accelerate. I heard an ear-shattering clash of carbon and aluminum smashing on the ground not far behind me as several riders went down, including, that I know of, one cranky and one really tall guy, whom I was told was a favorite to watch for in this race.
That put even more tension on the already jittery group, and by the time we rounded the corner and saw the 1000m sign, I found myself surprised that the pace was not faster. I began to speed up, cautiously, being careful to a) not repeat that horrific scene minutes earlier, and b) not burn my last match too soon.
I passed Mike around this point, and several others until I saw the 400m sign and then went all out.
I caught a couple other guys, and ended up finishing a hair behind another ST rider, somewhere around 15th (I think?)

The race was won by this kid from Synergy, couldn't have been more than 18, 5 foot nothing.
Very interesting experience, no less.
I guess what I could've done better is time my advancement to the front  to be in a better position for the final sprint.
The limiting factor was the large number of bodies in front of me that I could not get around on time.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 2010


Well, although I didn't take part in any races this month, it has not been without it's drama.

The month marked the beginning of the Calgary rainy season, with about half the days of month experiencing some of the wet stuff. Despite this, May 7th was Calgary Bike to Work Day, so after my quick 30km ride into work (swinging down to meet up with Mike), enjoying some tasty pancakes (Mmmmm) and a couple hours of work (shop closed early for a reno project), I completed my first ever metric century ride, by myself! Went West along the bike path to Edworthy park, up that big-ass hill (love it!!), then over old banff coach road to springbank road. Took this all the way to hwy 22, turned South to 22x through Bragg Creek, then back East, out of the hills and back to the city. Took me 3h10m, which I was pretty happy with considering I had to ride the whole distance by myself, and had my backpack on. Learned a thing or two about nutrition along the way too.
2 gel packs does not suffice for >3hr endurance challenge. Now I know.

Well, in the weeks following that epic event, I had several mechanical issues to contend with, including:
  • Full tuneup
  • New chain
  • Bent Front Derailleur
  • 2 flat tires
Another setback this month was my interpretation of the Body Worlds exhibit. Except that I decided it would be more interesting to perform and demonstrate this art on a live specimen, myself.
Yes, chaulk one more up to bonehead decisions. Cutting some PVC pipe for my underground sprinklers, enjoying a rare sunny Saturday afternoon with the kids in the backyard...
(the following re-enactments depict the conversations that ensued)

"Kieran, run inside and get daddy a big towel, QUICK!!!"
"Thanks, now please get my cel phone and my wallet, lock the dog in her crate, find your sister's shoes and put them on her, log the doors, and meet me at the front steps while I call your mother!"
"Thanks, no, you cannot go play at the neighbour's house right now, mommy will be here soon to take us to the hospital"

Well, 4 hours (love Canada Health Care system!), a gallon of blood, and 5 stitches later, I'm back home, and a day later I'm back on the bike. It doesn't really bother me, but I definitely cannot run on that leg.
A week later, Kieran helps me remove the stitches, leg is healing nicely, and I start to regain some bounce in my step. A week off running and ready to start again.
Ride to work Tuesday after the long weekend. Ride was really nice, but my dismount not so much... snagged my leg on my saddle and ripped open the shallow clotting that was keeping my leg intact!
Back to the Dr, and 3 more stitches. Oh man... another week without running.
Still biking on it, and so far no problems there; I just use more quad when pedalling, and less rotation in my ankle.

That about sums up the month, oh, and I got spit at. Yes, spit! Ugh.
Mike and I were passing some old guy going up a windy incline on the way into work in the morning, right before the Ogden Rd bridge. Old guy was going pretty slow but was over to the right. Not all the way, but enough. I passed him on his left, pretty close to the middle of the path. Another guy was coming down the path, coming in quickly as he was descending, and I didn't really see him until quite late. I was not on his side of the path, but he was apparently very uncomfortable with my encroachment, and yelled "idiot" at me, followed by what sounded like a spit (he was already past me when I heard it).
Mike told me, "hey, that dude just spit at you!"
Couldn't believe the idiots out there.
Stupid thing is that I've seen this guy almost every day, wearing the same red/white/blue jacket (looks like Crankmasters). It's not like you can be anonymous on the pathway when you engage in road rage... it's way too small a community.
This story is not yet finished obviously...

Update (5/31): It's been raining non-stop since mid-way through last week and I have opted to skip risking infection and general discomfort by taking transit to work instead of the bike. Today it's started clearing up though, so tomorrow should be a go!
I did go for my first run in 2.5 weeks today at lunch. Leg felt good, after some initial stiffness. Still managed a sub 5-min/km performance, despite the light effort level.

Totals are pretty sad for this month: just 835 km biked, 37 km ran.
Pigeon Lake RR coming up this weekend so I'll just be putting trying to avoid injuring myself this week.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April 2010

Highlights and stats for April.
  • First road race completed, Speed Theory's Prairie-Roubaix - results/pics not yet posted.
  • Biked and ran for over 1000 kms! (1001.36 to be precise.)
        Breakdown - Run: 81 km, Mountain Bike: 190 km, Road Bike: 730 km
        Despite: 2 flat tires, 1 bent seat post, 1 week of 40-70 km/hr wind & rain, 1 day of snow storm + aforementioned wind
  • Fastest run on April 27th, 11km at 4:24 min/km
  • 44 separate workouts (so at least 44 showers!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prairie-Roubaix - killer course, 150 racers, one mistake, and I'm gonna fire my mechanic!

Well, what a way to get my feet wet with the first mass-start road race, and a spring classic at that, the Prairie-Roubaix!

Prologue: Trained pretty hard this week, putting in around 250 km and a 10k run between Tuesday and Friday, despite some unfortunate setbacks, such as folding my (steel) seat post on my mountain bike, and cludging up my front derailleur on my road bike to the point where the chain was popping off, or grinding against the derailleur.
Made some minor adjustments Saturday night but came to the conclusion that I did not want to make any drastic changes right before race day. Also cleaned off my bike, but not the drive train. (Thanks to Mike and Scott for pointing that out and laughing right before the start :-p)
Well, Mike and I got their at the perfect time, as there were only about 40 or so other cyclists, and no line to register. We got our yellow ribbons (indicating category B race), and went for some light spinning to warm up.
Within the next half hour, the masses appeared, and the registration line was constantly 20 deep, and the races were delayed by about half an hour. Temperature was about 5 degrees, cloudy, and a hint of rain drops.

The Race: Cat A left first, on their way to 5 laps of the ~15km course. Our race of 4 laps started 5 minutes later, with about 50 riders snuggled in close to each other in an attempt to fit inside a single lane of road.
Mike and I managed to get within the top third of the group in the start, which I though was ideal, as we could watch the front but not need to pull right away. The race began with a significant ascent, at a quick pace. The pack stayed together quite well during this climb, but apparently it did not evenly affect everyone! Following that climb was a quick twisty descent, followed by a sharp right turn onto a busy road, where the pack slimmed down to about 2 abreast. I saw Mike make a move on the left edge of the road to get closer to the front, but I was pretty hemmed in, and honestly after that quick early climb I was content sitting in for a bit. Then the road consisted of several rolling hills, which further decimated the legs, and the pack. I found a speed theory guy that was about 6.5 feet tall and broad, who was hammering the rollers, and figured I could very nicely sit in his vacuum for a smooth ride to the finish. (see oasis)
Well, the problem was that eventually the rollers got the better of big-guy, and he let a gap in between him and the pack of 20-ish riders at the front. I sped around him and tried my best to catch that group, which at that point had begun a crazy fast descent and was gaining distance on me. Another hill after that, followed by a sharp right onto chip rock and the introduction of the crazy headwind! I was soloing in a headwind trying to bridge this gap, but all I ended up doing was depleting whatever reserve I had. I was soon caught by another Speed Theory racer, Allan.
Thankfully I was wearing a team jersey Scott had leant me, so Allan pulled me along through much of the next 5 kms into that wind. At this point I didn't think I could even finish the race, knowing that I still had a 3km gravel section to content with, and then to repeat that whole thing 3 more times!
But Allan encouraged me to hang in there with him. "They'll start to drop off... we can catch them if we ride together", he said. Through the gravel we tore it up, up a hill, then down. Careful to stay away from the loose(r) rocks in the middle, then avoid the huge potholes near the end on both sides of the road.
About 1.5 laps in I was feeling a little better, or Allan was feeling worse, as I began to pull increasingly more. We did end up catching several other individual riders and some small packs along the way, as we were working quite well together.
By the 3rd lap, Allan was starting to really struggle on the climbs, and I slowed a few times to wait for him to catch up, and that final lap I pulled about as exclusively as he had done on the first lap.
At this point there was nobody in sight behind us, and one guy about a minute ahead of us.
Going into the last hill before the gravel, I told Allen I was going to try to catch that guy, and took off. I really put in all I could up that hill and the gravel section, but this was not the section of the course where I was going to make up that much ground.
Through the finish line I saw nobody near me, but was very happy to be done!

Epilogue: Allan came in after me, so I'm glad me dropping him did not cause him to lose a position, and we chatted for a bit after the race.
Final time was something like 1:57 minutes, averaging ~30 kmph. Seems pretty slow, but I guess considering the terrain was not too bad.
I have no idea what position I came in, nor what the winner's time was.
Video & Pictures will be coming up shortly and I will see if I can find one of myself and post it here.
Overall, this was a very good experience for me. I learned things that will help me be better prepared for next time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Year to date

A summarization of the events leading up to my decision to blog my vie-sportif:

August 2009: I acquire my first road bike (2010 Trek 2.1 C) after 5 years of cyclo-commuting on an old Schwinn mountain bike, all the while dreaming of taking part in a road race or triathlon.

September 2009: 4 weeks before race date I discover this Blitz duathlon. It's a short distance, 4k trail run, 20k bike ride, and 4k trail run, so I think, perfect way to start racing. I convinced friends Mike and Simon to join too, and Mike invites a couple of his friends too. My goal for the race was to break top 20, and my long shot goal was top 10.
Bev and the kids came to cheer me on, and it helped! I managed to stay around 15th place out of the first run, which included a massive 1.5km scramble up a mountain. I had practiced my transitions and managed to get on my bike quicker than 2 other people who were there before me.
Within a couple kms, I passed a few more riders. One guy from bicisport passed me going up a big hill as my legs were drained from the hill run, but I managed to regain my strength for the 2nd half of the ride. By the time I got to transition 2, there was nobody near me, in front or behind. I coasted through the 2nd run, never once seeing any of the competition through the thick trees, but that didn't stop me from thinking I was hearing twigs snapping...
Overall, I finished 9th out of 100, so needless to say I was pretty ecstatic about my race. Great job by Mike to come in 4th.

Winter 2009: I decide I'm going to start bike racing next year, so as off season training I will continue to commute to work on either my Trek or my Schwinn, depending on weather.
Also got a membership at Hard's Way gym to keep up my strength/resistance training
I meet Scott at iStock, who tips me over the edge in my decision to join SpeedTheory racing club.
I winterize myself and my schwinn and manage to miss only a handful of days of riding, despite the -30C chills. I suffer several spills on the ice, over snow banks, as well as some mechanical failures, and finally I lay the schwinn to rest (RIP). Minh is kind enough to donate his old beater MTB, an old steel Raleigh Ambush. Salvaging parts from the late Schwinn, I create Frankenbike.

Jan - Feb 2010: Weather picks up and I decide to start running outside again. My mother sends me the book, Born to Run, (by Chris McDougal), and I become inspired to try the Vibram FiveFingers shoes, which are basically a cross between toe socks and kayaking slippers.
My initial review is very positive, and within a month I cut my km split from around 5 /12 minutes to 4 1/2 minutes, faster than my peak speed training for that Duathlon. I get so zealous that I finally decide to run home from work (~20k).

March 2010: Early March is nice, and along with Mike and Scott, we start the year off with a ride up the Road to Nepal!

Head to Houston mid-month to visit the family. So nice to do some warm weather rides, including one with my Eric's riding club. (Nice to get a shout out from Sarge! And yes, JJ was an animal out there).
Drive out to Austin for a relay Duathlon on the 26th, along with Eric, Astrid, and her boyfriend Leith.

This is olympic size, so a 5k run, 40k ride, 5k run. Astrid and I were a team, with me biking (Eric picked up an old steel Fuji Team road bike for me) and her running, and Leith (running) and Eric (cycling) were a team. It was a very fun race, and after 2 hours of racing it came down to a sprint finish, with Astrid and I winning by a mere 14 seconds!
Since we were the only 2 relay duathlon teams at that distance, we OWNED THE PODIUM!