Monday, September 26, 2011

Guelph Cross

First attempt at cross this season didn't go as smooth as I'd hoped for. It wasn't too bad, I felt better than I remembered ever feeling in a cross race last season (I sucked at all of them) and certainly had some fun.

The issue that cost me a great race was a chain drop that went horribly wrong about 1km into the race. I tried to shift it back on to maintain my position at the front, but it never went, and instead jammed up between the rings and frame. I got off and started yanking on it, but it was stuck good. Next thing I know the master 1 field is flying past and I'm still not moving. Is my race over? No....thanks to a hero spectator who was willing to step in and help me out. He used his calm spectator state to asses the issue, and get the chain out using very little force. I was now rolling again, about 2mins later. Pretty sure outside assistance is banned and I should have been dq'ed, or fined heavily, but they never caught me : ) .

So things are all good now, I will catch up in no time! No, actually my chain was soo bent that it would jump on my cassette every time passing through making it impossible to find a rhythm. I was close to abandoning, the fact that I was now on lap 2 and was yet to catch a master made it hard to keep going. Then, my chain improved a bit and I finally started to pass some guys.

I started to ride stronger and enjoy the race, but it was too late to make anything happen. A bit of work later and a couple slide outs in turns later and I was finished.

Never got a case of beer like the fast guys, but I did get to drink one of Anton's. Thanks buddy and congrats on 2nd!

Tour de King this weekend anyone?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

MTB Provincials / Paul's Dirty Enduro

MTB provincials was a fairly successful race. Finished up 13th, after an exciting battle for 12th.

The course up at Highlands Nordic was sweet, just like everyone said after the early pre-ride. Nice flow, some tricky rock lines and a tolerable amount of climbing. Conditions were also perfect, with everything being dry aside from the creek crossing and a bit of moisture left from the morning dew.

My start was great....hard to mess up when you get called up to the front! Mixed it up with the leaders till about mid way up the climb, when I realized I was near blow-up territory. Settled down a bit, let some faster guys by, then just rode hard and as smooth as I could manage. I found myself with Anton for quite a while and we were working together a bit. Managed to pass/drop a couple guys up the climb the second or third time.

Had a nice bail lap 2 I think where I flipped over the bars. Not to sure what I did, but it was a shocking surprise. My bike flew a good distance while performing aerials for Anton's amusement, and landed softly upside-down on the saddle, resulting in some severely bent rails.

For the rest of the race I would have to get used to my saddle being up steeper than those BMX'ers would point theirs. Did not help the lower back!

So I survived and still rode strong until the next incident. A flat. Wasn't an instant one, and I tried to ride it out, but it got to the point where my rim was smashing all the rocks, and I was risking it folding off in a corner. So, I stopped, grabbed the CO2 I borrowed for Teammate Megan, loaded it, threaded it on......and........crap how to you fire this one? Who would have thought that you have to back the cartridge out to release the air? Meg probably told me to do this, but I guess I can be pretty stupid when adrenaline is pumping.

So I stood off to the side asking each rider for a pump as the flew past. Jon Slaughter hooked me a CO2 cartridge, thanks buddy, but I had that. A bit later a rider with a broken derailleur hanger came by and got me rollin again. I chased hard, and made up a lot of ground in little time, but wore myself out a bit entering the last lap. Never quite caught Anton, but I did get Caught by Tyson who had crashed bad/bonked earlier. We came to the base of the first hill close together an I held him off till I pulled out of my pedal at the top of the hill. I was mad, but it wasn't that big a deal. I'll get him another time.

The 13th place finish gave me the points I needed to not only hold on to 10th in the series, but to move into 9th! Stoked to rep #9 next season and try and beat it! 9th is not a true reflection of my provincial ranking, as the top 5-10 guys don't get the opportunity to race the full series. I do feel like a consistent top 20er now though..

So on to Paul's now. Could write soo much about this race cause its soo looong, and this year was soo exciting, but I'll try to keep it brief.

So race started at 8am temp hovering around 5c, and the sun barely up. I took the hole-shot, and rode hard in the lead. Not because I thought I could hold that pace the whole race, but because I wanted to bring out my competitors, and get them excited. This lead to the formation of a lead group of 4. Me, Jerome, Neil and Imad. I wanted to ease off a bit, but the 2 Kunstadt guys were relentless and set a pace hard for even a 80km race. I hung in there confident with my endurance, sure they would crack before me, or if not that I would have that edge in the end.

Maybe 10km in, our group took a wrong turn, as a dirt biker was blocking the trail we were supposed to enter. We were now riding the last bit of the first 40km, and actually made it back to the start before realizing what happened. We turned back and rode hard to get back to the course quickly. Once back to the site of the mistake, other 100km riders where passing through properly, so we joined them and started to work our way back through the field. I was forced to let the 2 Kunstadt riders ride away, as I was stuck behind traffic, and didn't want to be overly aggressive with passes. Besides whats the rush? there was still over 80km to go! So I stuck with Jerome for a bit, and we talked some strategy. The plan was really just to settle in, and let the course kill everyone else. "they have no idea whats coming in the last 60km"-Jerome

So I settled in, and took my time working back to the leaders. It took till after the 40km mark to catch single speed phenom Zak wheeler, who was the "never got lost" leader. There were still 3 up though as the Kunstadt guys where joined by Rob Parniak, who apparently also did a little off course extra mileage. I was starting to catch glimpses of these guys as the trail doubled back, and it felt good. I held back from riding too hard and catching them too soon.

I caught and passed Imad quickly as he had hit a tree and was too injured to finish. The other 2 took until after the mid way point. The three of us rode together until my first attack was thrown down. Did this on the big climb I remembered dropping Benno on 2 years ago (65ishkm in?). It was a good one that popped Rob, but I couldn't give it what I wanted as my lats cramped bad from riding hard standing. Did I mention I 1x9'ed it with a 40t? not a smart idea, but I was too lazy/cheap to install/buy a new front derailleur.

So it was down to me and Neil now. He seemed quite strong still and I was wondering what I was gonna do about it. First sign of weakness was when he offered to lead the single-track to "allow me to rest my mind". Could he really be that nice? or did he want to ride slower? I think slower.....

Second sign was when he did lead, and rode really slow. So slow that I was tempted to attack, but I felt it was too soon and I had my place planned.

Final sign was him asking if I was a good sprinter. This just proved he had no idea what was coming. With about 20km to go, 80 in the legs, 3 monster climbs to come and some tricky single-track he really thought nothing left would break us up? I answered " don't want it coming down to that".

So my place of escape was the steep gravel road, that pops up like a wall after a left bend. You know, just after the big gravel road dip? This was the place because I knew I could recover on the long decent just after, taking me to the base of the never ending climb, and that I could build a gap up there, to seal the deal.

So we hit this climb, and I ride up beside him, and start to pass. He matches me, so I ease off. He does too, then I surge hard and hold it, and he cannot match. I look back and see him struggling. I'm free!!! Finally free. Man was I excited. I smiled the whole way up the never ending climb, and finished feeling strong enough to do it all again.

5:42 would be the time, in much slower conditions than last year (dry sand), and with an extra 5-10km. For sure it was another record breaking time, but the detour will said otherwise.

Brought home the grand prize - a spin bike! and another awesome crown made of spokes.

Another unforgettable day on the bike in the Ganny!

Now its time to mess around on a cross bike. Guelph on Sunday?

Friday, September 9, 2011


Green mountain was soooo much fun. Best road race I've ever a long shot.

Traveled there with team Ontario, making the trip a bit more interesting as I would get to know some new faces, and interact with those I've really only seen in the pack. Everyone was chill and it made for a smooth trip.

Stage 1 was the uphill TT. Also my first TT (excluding the Elliot lake hill-climb chain-drop fest) so it was going to be a learning experience. In the morning we all rode the course together as a team. Being the latest starter, 11ish, and being saddled up at 8am for the pre-ride, I took it easy and let everyone hammer past. I felt like crap, heart-rate shot up to threshold as the team blew by (girls too) leaving me a little worried. After that a had a few hours to get my shit together....three cups of green mountain coffee and more oatmeal loaded with Vermont maple syrup seemed to set me straight. On the bike again I felt much better, and my warmup went smooth.

I think I started a little too hard cause I felt solid the first 3km, caught my 30 second man at the top of the hill, then when I hit the headwind I felt soo weak. He passed me back on the flats, and then the guy behind me blew past with 2km to go. Held off the next guy, finishing with nothing in the tank. Time was good enough to beat about 25 guys, yay! Reason for not winning - no skin suit, no shoe covers, no cone helmet, no disc wheel, non aero frame.........

Stage 2 was much more fun. we did 2 50km laps, with a long climb out, and long decent back each time. Pace was nice and quick but the only time I was in difficulty was leading up to the second KOM. I suffered for a few km, but held my ground, not allowing myself to slip back. Decent was easy, and everything came back together, for a nice bunch kick. 1 man was allowed to escape and solo for the win, then the rest of us battled. I was fighting some cramps coming in, and decided to stay seated to the line. Got lucky with an opening on the left and motored by a bunch of guys to snag 22nd. Could have been a lot better, could have been worse.

Stage 3 was the queen stage with the epic mountain top finish on App Gap. Up until the base of this beast, racing was a blast. Full gas, attack attack attack, and I was riding the front end comfortably through all of this. I was making the splits/selections, but things were not breaking up too much. A break of 12 went clear mid raceish and held on till the end. I was off the front a couple times in small moves that hovered behind the break, but never took the risk and jumped for it. we where 20sec back at one point and I'm sure I could have made it, but chose to race conservatively instead. This was smart cause my legs shat the bed on me just before the App Gap began, choosing to cramp badd! Did my own thing from there, but still my quads locked and pulsed and twitched. I had to stop and stretch them. After this pit stop I got going quite well, caught and passed everyone who was around me pre-stopping, and even passed some new faces on the final steeeep pitch.

Stage 4 was cancelled due to heavy rain. My emotions were mixed towards the cancellation, as I love racing crits, and this course looked sweet, but at the same time my legs hurt from the cramping and I could have been dropped. I will never know what could have happened.

So once again I was F'ed by cramps. Yes I do drink a lot, and I do eat during the race. Not sure I could fit anymore salty sugary crap in me without puking it all over myself. Maybe there is something wrong with me were my muscles are not absorbing water or something. Maybe I need to take salt pills like those triathlon guys do. Maybe my muscles need rest? No idea. Season is just about done anyway. MTB provincials is Sunday, and I'm feeling good about it. Might be getting sick though...hope not. Goal is to be in, or near the top 10, depending on who's there. Would be nice to hang onto 10th in the series!

Wish me luck!