Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Big Three

Well there not that big...actually feel more like bumps than hills after being in the Blue Ridge. I am referring to the three toughest climbs up the escarpment in Niagara. Woolverton, Fity and McNeilly. Justin and I rode out to Smithville first, the north to Ridge Rd, then three times up each climb with a victory rep up Woolverton on the way back.

My Goal was to push myself hard and get up these hills faster, and more times than ever before. With my current fitness and good legs that was easy. I never used my 27t keeping 39/24 the lowest gear I used all day, and I even shifted up one or two gears on most climbs. Knowing that you can climb something more then ten times as long or high gives you a huge mental boost, and makes you go that much faster.

Justin surprised me by doing all three reps up each climb. This would have been way more climbing than he has ever done in a day, and he finished strong on every climb. I could tell he never held back because he was running on empty the whole way home. Good work man.

Tomorrow I am going to do a shorter ride, but with some intensity in there. I also want to get in a good core workout before the ride because it has been so good to me all spring and I need to make sure I keep it strong. Having no back pain in races would nice.....

Good Friday RR is less than a week away, and the weather is looking very promising. Super excited for this one!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

OCA Spring Camp Report

So after yesterdays 18 hours of travel time, I am finally back home.

The Camp was amazing. Just epic ride after epic ride, epic meal after epic meal, all enjoyed with a great group of fellow Ontario cycling enthusiasts. We lucked out with the weather, only seeing rain twice and we had plenty of time to tan with a bunch of warm warm and sunny days. I was assigned to the longest "fastest" ride everyday, with ride times ranging from 2-6hrs each day.

Rides from day 1-9 looked like this:
day 1 - 2hr recovery
2 - 3hr gentle rolling - fastish
3 - 3.5hrs rolling plus - steady
4 - 5.5hrs climbing plus race up Caesar's Head
5 - 2hr recovery
6 - 6hr climbing,
7 - 3hr steady recovery
8 - 5hr climbing Sassafrass plus sprint work
9 - 6hr climbing Blue Ridge plus some other climbs, plus Mt. Becky (very steep).

I rode well all week, and was loving the climbing. Sassafras was crazy tough to race up with a long 20% pitch and many steep sections that just kept popping up after short bits of recovery. Some ones Garmin said one bit was over 28%!. My time up it was 26:30, averaging 16.6km/h over the ~8km distance. Zack Hughes set the new record at 24minutes flat, with Mitch Bailey and Jamie Riggs close behind. I think my time was around the 5th fastest, but I'm not sure because times were never posted and I didn't get a chance to ask everyone how they did (we timed ourselves). I do know that I was digging really deep, nearly got sick, and that it was the hardest effort I have ever made in training. I would say that this climb was as tough as Brasstown Bald, but had two short downhills on the way up and mellowed out a bunch of times so you could catch your breath. Goal for next year - sub 25 minute mark...

Our accommodations were very cozy, and I was lucky to get in the house with all the older more "mature" guys. There were 7 of us in the house with two bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a good sized kitchen. We lived the ultimate lifestyle while there. Every day we woke up around 8, ate as much quality breakfast food as possible, then drank coffee and chatted before gearing up to ride. We had a pre-ride meeting at 9:45, then were on the road by 10am. Post ride we ate a ton of food again, then the rest of the day flew by as we did most of or all of the following: went for groceries, cooked a creamin meal, ate a provided meal, cleaned our bikes, tanned, went to meetings, ate more and talked about racing, other racers and training. We messed around a lot too, keeping ourselves entertained in the TV and Internet free environment.

View of camp from our balcony. (Driveway was 37% Gradient)

All in all it was a great experience that I hope to have again next spring. I'm feeling really fit right now, but a bit worn out, so I'm going to go easy all week, then get back into intense training this weekend. I can't wait to get out on my MTB!!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

300km, 10.5hrs, 2 days, one bike

Title says it all. Got the Circle route done counter-clockwise today. Colder and windier it was, but the tailwind from PC to FE and FE to NOTL kept my pace pretty high. The headwind on the other stretches sucked, but I've gone through worse..... while climbing. Tired now and looking forward to some rest tonight and tomorrow.

All for now...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A very Long Ride.......

Justin arrived at my house just before 11am this morning, and we embarked from there on what would be about a 150km ride for me. We made it just down to the canal when we had to turn back to my house to make a brake adjustment on Justin's bike. I made a very abrupt stop at a stop sign not realizing Justin was right behind me, and he grabbed his front brake so hard that the cable pulled right out of the straddle. Super strong braking hands or weak wrenching hands? Who knows, but it wasn't a big deal, and our collision was very minor. So with that torqued to spec we pressed on. Tailwind to NOTL was nice, Kinda got lost there in our attempt to avoid the downtown, asked for directions, then followed those to the parkway. After a short stretching session, we began the long stretch to Fort Erie. A light headwind made it a little tougher, but we worked together between the Falls and FE.

Some douchebag tried to give us a hard time as he passed by honking, coming close, flooring it and yelling something that either of us could hear. funny thing was that he stopped at the same bakery we did in fort Erie, and we got to hear what he had to say. His smokin hot girlfriend waved at us as she spotted us when they arrived, then he got out, said we ride like idiots or something like that, and that we are going to get hit one day. We were not riding like idiots, keeping a tight double file at the time, going single when cars came, and his asshole style pass was the closest I have been to getting hit in my life. We basically said "okay.....". I would have said something better if I had more energy or a real reason to start shit with some fucking douche. We left there for the nearest MickyD's for some free coffee, muffins and a chicken snack wrap. Yummy. I bought some water and asked I could have 2 warm bottles if possible. Instead I was handed 2 ice cold bottles with big ice burgs floating in them. Perfect, Exactly what I didn't want, but according to her it was all they had. Bullshit.

It was cold getting back on the bike, but we warmed up quickly and kept our speed high slicing through a strong side wind. Trying to avoid highway 3, we ended up doing some back-tracking to get off a muddy road.... twice, but we eventually found a nice road that led us north, than we headed towards Welland from there. So we missed Port Colbourne, but didn't cut any distance, and got to see some new scenery. Justin made it home in time for work, a little cooked but not bonked, then I headed home down Cataract with the wind at my back. Made it home just before 5:30, left at 11, had stopped for ~ an hour, so ride time was about 5.5hrs. Very nice. I hurt the most along the parkway, but felt great form MickyD's on. My endurance seems to be with me...

When I got home I was happy to have lots of tasty leftovers, and a cold beer in the fridge to enjoy with them.....

weather was warm enough for knee warmers today, and tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer. Gonna go long again. At least 100km.


Friday, March 5, 2010

She Rides Like a Dream!!

So my Stumpy is built up with my parts of preference, but shes gonna get lighter soon. Still to come: lighter more blingy brakes, a carbon post and Ritchy foam grips. Goal is sub 21lbs. I think shes about 22.5-23lbs right now.

I rode her into work this morning, and man is she ever a rocket. So stiff and twitchy, it was so fun just to hammer through an intersection. Geometry feels great, and like she turns sharper and is easier to get more weight on the front end. I think I will like the Small Block 8's too.

Training since Georgia: I have just been riding every morning before work. Monday I just went straight in because I was so excited to see my new bike. Tuesday I rode along the canal and did some hill reps up the escarpment. Wednesday I rode around Brock U and did hill reps up Hydro. Thursday I rode to Fonthill and did 2 laps of the Niagara Classic route. Today I messed around on my Stumpy. No 3hr+ rides yet this week, but some back to back 5hr+ rides to come this weekend. Maybe circle route two days in a row?

I would have to say that since my trip, I am enjoying climbing a lot more. Climbing still hurts the same, but I think I can go a little faster, and at the top I get the "is that it" feeling a lot more. I feel stronger at the top and as I accelerate on the flats. I guess that's the benefit of doing 20km climbs eh!

All for now

Monday, March 1, 2010

Georgia Wrap-up

So I am back in the arctic tundra known as Canada and and already miss the southern mountains. My ride on Saturday went great and I got in 95km with five big climbs. The temp was around 8C in the Valleys and the sun was out, but the wind was barely calmer than the last time I was up on the Blue Ridge. I started in Helen, then went straight to the 348 to climb Hogpen from the east side. This way isn't as steep, but is much longer and has some down hills near the bottom and near the top that drag it on and on. The headwind made it tougher and I was feeling a little sluggish, but I made it to the top in good time, then bundled up for the fast descent into the wind. This one sucked all the warmth out of me, but wasn't long and I warmed up quickly when I turned to climb back up at the other end of the 348. This climb went well for me and knowing what was coming got me to the top with less pain than the time before. Then there was the fun descent, down the long side with a tailwind. Man was that one fun!

When I got back to the valley, I rolled into Helen to get a Gatorade and check out the euro style shops. It was a cool town that was unique and not too cheesy. After filling up the bottles I started to make my way up the 75 towards Unicoi Gap. With less wind than last time, this stretch was much more enjoyable than last time and I kept my sped over 25km/h. The climb up Unicoi was very enjoyable too and I was loving the fast uphill switchbacks, and the low traffic 3 lane road. At the top I caught some MTBers from Toronto who where there to log base miles for the MTB season. They are new to Ontario, so I told them about the O cup and Marathon series, as well as some other must do races, and they got very pumped as they didn't know some of these races existed. I took off on the decent, which was also super fun, and this time I continued on the 75 to Owl Creek Rd, so that I could head up Brasstown Bald the same way they did in the 2008 TDG. Owl Creek was a great with rolling hills for the first 5-10km. When I rounded a turn a long steep pitch was unveiled, and the asphalt read "It starts here.... Climb!". This 2-3km stretch was pretty steep at about 15%, but it mellowed and there was a short decent back down to the 180. The 180 climbed to the gated road up to the summit. I found the climb up the steep grades a bit easier than before and I think knowing the road helped a lot. The 25% section went by faster and I was able to shift up a couple gears in the last km. When I got to the parking lot I saw that the road to the summit was snow free, and decided to ride it despite the no bicycles sign. I had to hike around the gate, but I re-mounted and rode the rest, having to sprint up a steep grade to make it through a big snow patch. This road was really steep, just like the 5km before, and it had one crazy steep switchback. I walked up the stairs to the top of the observation deck and took in the amazing views. It felt amazing to be looking down on all the other peaks surrounding.

When I was satisfied, I hoped back on my bike and descended back down to the bottom of the 180. I have never had to grab my brakes so hard, but I had to take it really slow with the dirty road surface. At the bottom I turned and climbed back up. I felt some cramps coming on on the steep parts, but kept the cranks turning and made it up to the parking lot where I did some laps to spin the legs out. I had time before my parents picked me up, so I went 2km back down, and climbed it again, really just to keep warm. When the rents got to the top we packed up to begin our drive part way home, stopping for dinner at a friends house.

Looking up at BB from the parking lot

Looking down from the parking lot

Things I learnt about North Georgia:
- People eat out a lot. 5 nights a week is common.
- There are tons of nice cars, and people drive them like maniacs.
- People drive everywhere. The way things are spread out you kinda have to.
- A flat road does not exist. You are always going up or down, even on the highways.
- Even after climbing for a while, you will not have a view of the area, you will just see more and bigger hills around you.
- There are a lot of dogs in the country, and they will chase you. I got away every time, but if they got close enough I would not hesitate to show the dog what an SPD SL cleat to the face felt like.
- There are no pot holes, but the pavement is thin.
- Drivers are nice to cyclists, and some will cheer you on when your climbing.
- 48F is not as warm as it sounds.