Sunday, January 31, 2010

Climb, Decend, Repeat

Despite frigid temperatures I was able to get in some solid training this weekend.

Saturday: ~3hr ride with 13 climbs up escarpment. 12 repeats up hydro hill plus once up Glenridge. The temperature was -14, but with the sun out and no wind it was very pleasant riding conditions. Other than the hill reps I rode some singletrack around Brock and and put in some km's on nearby roads. I chose Hydro to do hill reps on because its a very smooth dirt/gravel road that is plowed, lightly salted and has 0 traffic on it. You may see the occasional Ontario Power car going up, but you will see a lot more walkers, runners and cyclists using it. We are lucky to have this road and I take full advantage of it.

Post ride I hit up the Farmers market and grabbed a bunch of locally grown veggies, some organic rye bread and some apple cider. I am going to try and do all produce shopping there to support our local economy, get fresher stuff and hopefully avoid some pesticides.

Sunday: 3.5hr ride with 16 climbs up escarpment. With the temperature around -7 and a 25km/h wind, I didn't feel like riding open roads and opted to go to hydro again and do some reps. The wind was in my face so it made the climb seem a few gradients steeper than Saturday but I was still climbing strong. I did the reps in sets of 3 with something in between to spin the legs out, mainly trails but one time I went to MacDonald's for a tee. I never made any really hard efforts up the hill either days because I am only working on a base for climbing and treating it more as a power workout. It may seem crazy to some to be doing so many repeats up a climb, but next season I want to race elite road, where I will be working hard to hang on to the pack along the flats, never mind the 12 twelve times I will have to get up a climb harder than Hydro.

When I'm training I often think about how there are thousands of cyclists training harder than I am, riding faster, longer and climbing bigger hills. Yesterday and today I think that number was a lot smaller. I think training outdoors in these conditions will make me that much stronger when spring comes around.

Andrew 4, Winter 0.

This pic was stolen off Google Earth, but its what the top 3rd of Hydro looks like minus the snowbanks.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Taking On Old Man Winter

So yesterdays attempt at a long ride was cut short. I lasted 1.5 hours out in what felt like minus 30 with the ridiculous wind chill. In that time I rode to the top of the canal locks, went up and down three more times, then headed back home. I had no choice but to head home because my fingers and toes were so cold that they were hurting big time. One gust of wind on the way home was so strong that it made both of my tires slide a few inches to the side as it his me from the left. I was riding through slushy snow and only stayed upright by leaning way over into the wind.

When I got home I told myself I was not hopping on my trainer and admitting defeat to old man Winter. With the day off work I had to keep going so I decided to throw on my running shoes and go back out for another hour. I got some nutrition in me, did some stretching and core work, then I was off. I learned that a Clif Builders bar and an ab workout before running is a guaranteed recipe for cramps. About five minutes of light jogging and they were gone, but I won't do that again. I felt great running but didn't want to go too far because I didn't want to go through the knee pain I had after my last 10km run again. To use up the hour I stopped at a 70 set of stairs to do some agility work. There is a stair set like this at every lock on the canal and I used the one at lock 3. There is a short flat halfway up, so its perfect for switching betweem left leg and right leg leading with double taps. To see a video of what I was doing, check out Adam Morka's post from a month or two back. This workout challenges your mind just as much as your legs; try it yourself.

This morning Winter threw everything it had at me; snow, wind, slush and temps below minus 10. I lasted for hour on the slushy roads, but will admit that I wouldn't have lasted any longer if I continued to ride, rather than head into work. I thawed my toes in front of a heater and got ready to work, but it was so cold and there was nothing urgent to get done, so we all took the day off. I took a ride home from Derek and was shivering in his Jeep the whole way home, so I was thankful that I wasn't riding.

I'm looking forward to long rides this weekend and hopefully warmer temps.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

"You can dream a little dream, Or you can live a little dream I'd rather live it, Cuz dreamers always chase But never get it"

Aesop Rock - No Regrets Lyrics

Lucy was 7 and wore a head of blue barettes
City born, into this world with no knowledge and no regrets
Had a piece of yellow chalk with which she'd draw upon the street
The many faces of the various locals that she would meet
There was joshua, age 10
Bully of the block
Who always took her milk money at the morning bus stop
There was Mrs. Crabtree, and her poodle
She always gave a wave and holler on her weekly trip down to the bingo
And she drew
Men, women, kids, sunsets, clouds
And she drew
Skyscrapers, fruit stands, cities, towns
Always said hello to passers-by
They'd ask her why she passed her time
Attachin lines to concrete
But she would only smile
Now all the other children living in or near her building
Ran around like tyrants, soaking up the open fire hydrants
They would say
"Hey little Lucy, wanna come jump double dutch?"
Lucy would pause, look, grin and say
"I'm busy, thank you much"
Well, well, one year passed
And believe it or not
She covered every last inch of the entire sidewalk,
And she stopped-
"Lucy, after all this, you're just giving in today??"
She said:
"I'm not giving in, I'm finished," and walked away

(Chorus: x2)
1 2 3
That's the speed of the seed
That's the speed of the need
dream a little dream,
Or you can live a little dream
I'd rather live it
Cuz dreamers always chase
But never get it

Lucy was 37, and introverted somewhat
Basement apartment in the same building she grew up in
She traded in her blue barettes for long locks held up with a clip
Traded in her yellow chalk for charcoal sticks
And she drew
Little bobby who would come to sweep the porch
And she drew
The mailman, delivered everyday at 4
Lucy had very little contact with the folks outside her cubicle day
But she found it suitable, and she liked it that way
She had a man now: Rico, similar, hermit
They would only see each other once or twice a week on purpose
They appreciated space and Rico was an artist too
So they'd connect on saturdays to share the pictures that they drew
Now every month or so, she'd get a knock upon the front door
Just one of the neighbors,
Actin nice, although she was a strange girl, they would
Say, "Lucy, wanna join me for some lunch??"
Lucy would smile and say "I'm busy, thank you much"
And they would make a weird face the second the door shut
And run and tell their friends how truly crazy Lucy was
And lucy knew what people thought but didn't care
Cuz while they spread their rumors through the street
She'd paint another masterpiece

(Chorus x2)

Lucy was 87, upon her death bed
At the senior home, where she had previously checked in
Traded in the locks and clips for a head rest
Traded in the charcoal sticks for arthritis, it had to happen
And she drew no more, just sat and watched the dawn
Had a television in the room that she'd never turned on
Lucy pinned up a life worth's of pictures on the wall
And sat and smiled, looked each one over, just to laugh at it all
Now Rico, he had passed, 'bout 5 years back
So the visiting hours pulled in a big flock o' nothin
She'd never spoken once throughout the spanning of her life
Until the day she leaned forward, grinned and pulled the nurse aside
And she said:
"Look, I've never had a dream in my life
Because a dream is what you wanna do, but still haven't pursued
I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done
So i've been the dream that I wanted to be since day one!"
The nurse jumped back,
She'd never heard Lucy even talk,
'Specially words like that
She walked over to the door, and pulled it closed behind
Then Lucy blew a kiss to each one of her pictures
And she died.

(Chorus x2)

The first time I listened to this track, my spine tingled and I got shivers through my body. The lyrics are so motivational and the message is so clear. Whether you are an athlete, a wanna be athlete, an artist, a student or whatever, do it till it's done, live the dream you want, and fuck what anybody else has to say about it. Live with no regrets.

Aesop Rock gets a lot of bad reviews because of his complex delivery that can be hard to understand. His lyrics are loaded with metaphors that you will not get unless you know a bit about Aesop (Ian Bravitz) or can understand NYC slang. He makes all the instrumentals himself and in my opinion they are the most original and energetic beats out there. The song "Daylight" got me into his music so check out that track. Every song he writes has a deep meaning but you really have to zone in to pick it up.

Saw Race Across The Sky in the Falls last night. I thought it was good, but short, and there wasn't much more to it that the trailer showed. Good filming though and it made me want to ride bad so I'd say it was motivational. Thanks for the beers after JC.

Now I'm about to head out into blizzard conditions for a long ride. Nice, the sun popped out right after I typed that. Hoping for 4 hours but I'll see how she goes, there are some serious wind gusts.

Keeps it Realz hommies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Days Like This....

I couldn't have asked for a better January Day for a five hour road ride. The wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temp was a couple degrees above zero all day. After riding for an hour I met up with Rob watt, Jeff Kerton, Justin Henry, Bryan Sheldon, Brandon Etzl, Ben Perry and Jessica Tripp and we headed towards Niagara on the lake. We had some fun riding over a snowbank when we stopped at Picard's for some munch and Justin and myself flipped over the bars more than once. From NOTL we headed along the parkway to the top of Queenston hights, then down York road back to St. Catharines for a stop at Timmy's. We split from there and I rode just past Thorold with Justin while he headed back home to Welland, then turned home form there. One of the highlights of the ride was when my left crank arm fell of on york road. When I lost my front shifting early in the ride I didn't put it together that my crank my have shifted, and thought something was wrong with my pedal or cleat when I felt play on the left side. Luckily I was riding slow when it popped off and didn't loose the bearing tension bolt, thanks to the guys who found it for me. Being a mechanic this was a bit embarrassing, but I didn't install the crank and haven't done any any maintenance on the bike since I first got it. To bad I slipped the Q-rings over the spider when I installed them rather than removing the crank. Too bad I forgot my cammy cause there where some great views along the way.

The Past few days at work I've been working hard to get the ceiling ready for paint. It's a dirty job that involves scrapping off peeling paint, rust and concrete off the steel beams. Also dusting everything off and sweeping the cob webs down. Its a good arm workout though and I felt it in my shoulders and forearms today. After the ceiling gets painted the place will get flooded with tradesmen as we get heating, plumbing, electrical and the floor grinded smooth for polishing. Our repair shop is set up upstairs and we are doing some repairs and bike building. If your bike needs work you can email Kurt to book it in and we'll take care of it.

Early in the week I was sick with a head cold, but after sleeping all day Tuesday I have been feeling great. It's crazy how hard it is to do nothing for a whole day, but sometimes that's what you have to do to recover. I didn't get the strength training done that I wanted to this week, but I rode for an hour before work on Thursday and Friday to get some cardio in. I will resume strength training tomorrow with high rep squats, leg curls, dead lifts and core work of coarse.

Thanks for stopping by y'all

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2009 Year End Wrap-up

So 2009 is now the past and it's time to reflect on the season and learn as much as possible from it. Last year was the first season I took racing seriously and actually raced the full MTB O-cup series. My winter training prior the season consisted of snowboarding and playing beer pong. Nothing else. I said I was gonna do a core workout daily, but when I got sick around Christmas I stopped, and never started again. Sure snowboarding is very physical and does take a lot of leg strength, but even when I'm shredding hard my heart rate remains fairly calm and I can't remember ever breathing heavy. I did walk up and down the learning run hundreds of times while teaching lessons as it's faster than riding the carpet, but the elevation change at the top of that was like 20ft.

So that aside, when I moved home from Blue Mt. I felt fresh and very eager to get back on the bike. I rode strong right from the get go but I remember having shity endurance and thinking I was gonna have a heart attack after riding up Sailors Hill the first time. Luckily I didn't and with plenty of free time to ride before work picked-up, I got fit quickly and made a top 20 my goal for the first O-cup in Mansfeild. I set my goal low because was my first race in Senior Sport, the Field was huge and I had little confidence having only been on the bike for 3 weeks prior the race. I managed to lead the pack up the opening climb and thought holy fuck I can win this. My weak lower back quickly reminded me I was in poor shape and others started to get by me. I still finished 5th which I was proud of, and I learned what I had to do if I wanted to get faster.

O-cup #2 at Albion was basically a repeat of #1. My back still hurt, I finished 5th again and Zach Tatem dominated again. The only difference was that it was a lot muddier and I finished stronger. I gained 4 positions on the last lap and finished very strong. My endurance was better but I was still not riding as strong as I knew I could. With another 5th and such a strong finish I wanted to make the upgrade to expert. All I had to do to get the upgrade points was ride the 3rd O-cup like I did in the first two and I would have plenty.

O-cup #3 (Canada Cup 3) at Hardwood hills ended with the worst crash I have ever had. I was not riding smooth at all in the tecky stuff and I went down when I clipped a tree but I was back up in no time and no others were around. Not long after that in the singletrack right after the huge boulder with the crate on it was where my race ended. As I rode the boulder I passed a guy taking the detour and carried as much speed as possible to put a gap on him. Next thing I'm rounding a turn and I hear a loud snap and I'm suddenly flying through the air. I was in the air long enough to thing "was that my fork that snapped? was that my wheel? was that my frame?" When I landed I looked back and saw my frame folded in half like a Dahon. It was my frame and my race was over. I looked down at the big root that caused my crash and wondered how I missed the damn thing. A couple minutes later another rider in my cat hit the root as I did and flipped over the bars. He and his bike were fine though.

My frame broke clean in two at the down tube and top tube. I guess the root was to high for my fork to absorb at all and the force got transferred right to my frame, which couldn't handle it. Luckily my injuries were only scratches and bruises, but the bruise on my right thigh was pretty bad. When my frame snapped my leg went into the down tube leaving a big scratch in the shape of the tubing and causing the bad bruise. I could hardly walk for a couple days and all I was thinking about was if I would be healed to race the next O-cup (a week later) and which bike I would ride. I was good to race and Ben from Liberty! hooked me up with his Kula Supreme frame (same as the one I snapped) which I rode to 2nd place, and got the points to upgrade.

After Hardwood hills I steadily improved my riding and my results got better and better. I had some great performances at two Ontario Marathon races and finished 5th at the Ontario championships (senior expert), but my best performance of the season was at Paul's Dirty enduro 100km.

I started the Enduro slow and found the first 40km of the race to be the most difficult part where I hovered in the top 6. I felt like I wasn't riding well, but kept thinking how long the race was and waited patiently for my legs to find their rhythm. It took about 35km till I felt good and I started ramp it up. I past some riders and just before the 40km feed zone I saw Ben Dawson, the leader. He was still a couple minutes up and I lost time as well as a position when I stopped to fill my bottles and remove my arm and knee warmers. When I jumped back on the bike I felt warmed up and was ready to put the hammer down. I figured I would catch the guy in second in no time, which I did, but Ben would take a while. I think it was about 1/2 an hour till I saw Ben again, but I kept riding calm and efficiently slowly closing the gap. When I caught Ben we rode together for a while and chatted to pass some time. I lost him a couple times, once when I stopped to fill my bottles, and once when I flatted my front tire. I was going tubeless and luckily the sealant plugged the hole and all I had to do was top up with a CO2 cartridge. That flat happened right before a feedzone (I think 60km) where I stopped to fill my bottles again knowing I was losing more time. When I got going again this time I was frustrated that I lost Ben again and figured he would ramp it up to build his lead. I was riding strong but not smart now and clipped a tree or to and went off the trail multiple times where it was leafy and hard to see. Although I was riding shity I caught Ben again on some doubletrack while he was eating. I past him and led him down a long fast hill. At the bottom I looked back and he was not there. I looked ahead at the big climb coming and told myself "I going now" and I went. At the top I checked back again and no one was there. My legs kept going strong for the rest of the race and it was just a matter of riding smart to take the win.

When my Cateye said I was 90km in I knew the victory was mine. Then shit hit the fan. The course went along a gravel/sand road with some good climbs and descents on it. The road kept going, and going and something felt wrong. I started to go down a long descent but rode it slowly looking for arrows telling me where to turn. I saw none. I saw cars parked at the bottom and knew I was at the starting area. At the bottom I saw an arrow and followed it; it took me to the finish but it felt wrong. I celebrated the win anyways, but the timers where not even ready for the leaders yet. I told them what happened, and they confirmed that I missed a turn. A lady brought me to the guy in charge of the course. He grabbed a map and we found where I went wrong then he got a guy with a ATV to show me the way to the trail. Riding back up the hill sucked, but I felt better when I was joined by Tim Carlton who was leading the 60km race and a couple others. This meant that the turn was unmarked and not missed. I asked Tim if he had seen Ben, and he hadn't, so we put it together that Ben Had made the correct turn before Tim caught him. Lucky for Ben he knew the turn from having won the race so many times, and took it. I had lost way too much time to catch Ben again, but I gave it everything I had to make up time and ensure second spot. The ATV driver stopped at the turn to direct the rest of the racers into the trail. Race organizers assumed that Vandals tore the arrow down and said that if I had slowed and looked down that trail I would have seen a marker ribbon 100ft in; but what race leader is gonna slow down enough to see a ribbon 100ft away down a trail that wasn't marked? Fuck'n way she goes. I still got recognized at the awards and have a free entry for next years race. No one was to blame, no feelings were hurt, and I will prove that I am the real king this year.

Other highlights of the season were: winning FallFest at Holiday Valley, Winning a Sprint primium at the Welland Twilight Crit, Finishing Second overall in the Ontario Marathan Challenge series and crashing four times (two where less than 10m apart) at the only Liberty! 8x12 race did. Oh and of course taking the team title at the Squeezer and crushing our rivals the Trail Hogs.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm Back...... Bigger and Stronger Than Ever

As of last night, I am officially back in Niagara and back to business with training. My trip to Canmore Alberta went smooth and I had a great time doing stuff I wasn't expecting to do there. I thought I would be snowboarding almost every day and partying every night, but I only snowboarded for 3 full days and only partied a few times also. The thing I spent the most time doing was walking/hiking. I walked well over 100km in the two weeks there and climbed to the top of Mt. Lady MacDonald. One day we even walked to Banff. A map said it was 17km, but it turned out to be over 30km and took us over 6 hours. We walked on the train tracks for the most part meaning switching it up between shuffle stepping and making huge strides to match the spacing of the ties. Two trains passed us while walking and reminded us of there power by nearly blowing us over as we stood about 5 feet to the side.

Even with all the walking I put some weight on jacking me up to 157lbs; the biggest number I've ever seen on a scale that had only me on it. We did cook some creamin food everyday, I got Shepherd pieified twice and drank a lot of beer. I feel very lean still but hope to drop 10+ lbs before the race season. The snowboarding was epic and I would have to say that Lake Louise is the best resort. Sunshine Village gets more snow, but the terrain and lifts make more sense at Louise. Louise has huge bowls on the backside filled with powder that make one run down it worth the 80 dollar lift ticket price.

Things I learned about Canmore/Banff.
- Most people there are from somewhere, whether it be Ontario, Quebec, Australia or New Zealand they are all there for the same reason; to ski/snowboard in a beautiful mountain range... and party.
- The area is designed for hiking. You can get all around town on beautiful trails and those lead to an endless network of loops to hike.
- There are bike parks everywhere and they are cool. I found three in Canmore just wondering around.
- The people there are friendly. Everyone you walk by greets you and motorists always happily stop and wait for you to cross roads.
- There are tons of Elk. I saw over 50 at once while they mow'd down grass on a soccer Field.
- It doesn't snow much in the Valley, but mountains to the north and west get dumped on. Sunshine Village gets the most.
- You have to watch out for the Cougars; both at the bar and on the trails they are out there. At the bar a glass of Merlot will take care of them, but on the trail you have to yell and fight to survive.
- Banff is thee place to be on New Years. It's like a mini Times Square where hundreds of great people fill the streets and just go nuts.
- You can kill hours just staring at the mountains out your window. They are beautiful.
- I will live there soon. If I didn't have ambitions with education or didn't like the bicycle racing in Ontario I would not have come home. St. Catharines seems like a deep shit hole after being somewhere so beautiful, and right now its depressing for me to look outside.

I made a slide show of mostly scenery flicks. There are some food pics of too and I felt I had to include the Guacamole cause I ate so much of it. I made it like 10 times times for my friend who was trying to heal an overuse knee injury because I heard the cados are good for your joints. Videos of riding are mainly bails so I left them out. At the end is a clip i filmed of the views from the top of Mt. Lady Mac. Its a crappy vid but gives you an idea of what its like to be 1000m above Canmore. Enjoy