Sunday, December 14, 2008

The to-come

Here in Ottawa winter is in full swing. A great season of cycling was capped with the last 'cross race of the OBC's series on the last Sunday of November. The snow was rather sloggy, but Rodd and I put in our best rides of the series anyhow. 

Next season we'll be back at it, with a few more converts in tow I suspect. However, we plan to fit the 2009 Hardfolk Classic in a little earlier in the fall in hopes of luring more riders with better weather. The ride will likely fall the Sunday after the first Almonte race. We are considering organizing a group ride to Almonte for that race, followed by a loop on the Roubaix route and return trip home. This will constitute a full day, perhaps even an epic day, consisting of about 190k of road riding plus the cross race. Jamie and I did the Roubaix route after the first race there this fall and it was incredible. The colours were truly fantastic; I couldn't help but comment on this repeatedly as we travelled the route. Rolling to town and back is doable. This would be excellent preparation for the Hardfolk, which will take a much more challenging course than this year's, as we will not have to deal with such severe temps.

A calendar of events for '09 is on the burner. So far, the season is looking very promising, with new events to tackle, and old ones to revisit. New events include the Tour of Battenkill in April, and the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee/D2R2 in August. The former is a Spring Classic style event that will hopefully not conflict with the Almonte Paris Roubaix. We hope to do both. Battenkill ought to be the tougher of the two, and would be fantastic preparation for the Roubaix. Rodd and I hope to stay with the leaders until the end this time around, and we hope others from the team and crew will be there with us.

The D2R2 is a legendary ride that we can't miss. Sure, it conflicts with the Albion Hills 24hr race (which we managed to win this year), but this is an incredible ride. Check it out here and here.

Among events we've done are the OBC's Paris Roubaix, Rideau Lakes Tour and Grand Prix, Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred, and Albion Hills 24hr mtb race. We'll see whether some other mtb enduro races can be fit in: Crank the Shield, Paul's Dirty Enduro and Lost in the Rocks and Trees. These events tend to conflict with the really cool road events in the late summer.

As I've mentioned before, we will organize a series of Spring Classic Gentlemen's Rides in the spring in and around the Roubaix and the Battenkill. In there somewhere, or perhaps a little later once we are into the summer, we'll see about putting together a Gentleman's(/persons's) Race, following the format described here. The Rapha group rode a team GR in '08, and it sounds like it was a blast. We'll see what we can do. Perhaps we can lure them up here.... Without a doubt, we will organize a truly epic ride up Wakefield way in the dead of summer, and it will be one to remember. The scheming is ongoing. 

A calendar of events will be launched shortly. Please check in. I hope the dates will help motivate those with aspirations to take on new challenges to put in some time on the trainer, skis, or whatever, so that the fitness stays enough to get rolling quickly in the spring. April comes fast, and some strength in the legs will come in pretty handy in the spring classics. From there, the epic rides cometh.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blood, Sweat and Tears: The 2008 Hardfolk Classic

In the weeks leading up to the Hardfolk, many expressed interest, feigned and otherwise. The pitch was simple: assemble, ride, eat great food and drink great coffee, ride, recover. Simple yes, sexy no. This time of year the weather varies from pretty nice to heinous. The Sunday before the Hardfolk, Thom, Will, Rodd and I rode a mixed terrain loop in the rain and wet snow. Fun, but awfully unpleasant by the end with soaked feet. The Hardfolk delivered dry conditions, but chilling winds and temps well below freezing. The forecast was grim enough to keep some away, while a few made failed attempts to join the group for lack of adequate clothing and logistical coordination. So it goes. Yet a hearty few did assemble, bright and early, to earn their Hardman stripes. Relatively speaking, that is...due respect to the real Hardmen. I speak of Hardmen to the exclusion of Hardwomen here because, sadly, none of our fairer compatriots on wheels showed. Maybe next time. 

At 7:30 we departed from Tall Tree, well, Starbucks truth be told, heading East. Will, Kent, Rodd, Steve, Brad and yours truly. Steel frame to carbon ratio: 5:1. Pretty good. Wool layer count: somewhere in the 20s. Good. Steelwools: 2. Great. Grand Bois tire count: 8. Nice. Quickly freezing water bottles all round. Super. 

After passing through Lac Leamy we decided to modify our route for a couple reasons. Fewer riders than hoped meant fewer wind buddies, and it seemed prudent to take a smaller bite before hitting Wakefield in order to manage to ride some of the good stuff op North. So we stayed on the West side of the Gatineau river and headed directly to Wakefield. 

While the others in the group seemed to be fairing pretty well in the extremeties, I had some trouble. Either cold hands or cold feet plagued me on route to Wakefield. By the time we were close I felt pretty good and the others agreed to take a short stop at Pipolinka to preserve heat, and stop again after our upper loop. We left Kent at the bakery so he could preserve his energy for the return to town while we continued on after a quick stop for a snack and coffee.

The upper loop proved, as expected, to be a great time. Crossing the covered bridge, we headed North and looped through farmers fields and stepped hills. As seems to be the norm in this area, we encountered many non-humans: a young buck, a gaggle of deer, a Piliated woodpecker, a school of wild turkeys, huskies, horses, and cows frolicking in a cornfield (their frolic is very mellow). No hunters spotted this time out, and very little traffic. The route unfolded in a meandering fashion, with many a curve, up and down. One or two turns were a little tentative with spotty ice coverage on the roads, dirt and otherwise. I know I was hoping pretty hard for no cars as I rounded some of the turns. Fast changes of direction are distinctly unwise in these conditions. We all got off clean. On our return leg of the loop Rodd and I discussed hitting the gravel gap. I took a poll and no-one opposed the extra 7k excursion. It was Rodd who admitted he'd be happy to leave it out, and the others were happy to comply. I was ready for some soup, and did not protest.

Back at Pipolinka we met a forlorn Kent. Steelwool count: 1. He'd taken his front wheel into the bakery and kept a watchful eye on his bike through the upstairs window while we were off gallivanting. Some wretch defiled his Pure Laine in a mere 10 second window of opportunity while Kent was distracted. He was shocked by its conspicuous absence. Gone. This turn of events damped our spirits and for me, cast a shadow upon rides to come. We've often left our bikes outside Pipolinka to load up on their goodies and felt rather confident that we were in a non-scumbag zone. Wrong. We'll have to be highly vigilant in the future; this is saddening. To think one can rationalize stealing another's bike - while they are in the middle of a ride no less - is sobering. I guess some people think others deserve to suffer when they trust too much. Wrong.

Kent took the loss like a Hardman and looked for the silver lining. He took a walk to pass the time it would take for his partner to arrive from town to taxi him home. We rolled on.

The return to town was uneventful, which was what we were probable all hoping for. We went our own ways, home to wrap up the weekend and meditate on the day's events. I found myself wishing we had more along for the ride while accepting why many stayed away. Next season will bring more rides, some of them epic, others less so. I hope to find ways to motivate others to venture into unknown terrain and unknown resources of energy, strength and determination. The truly Epic ride still looms in the realm of  potentiality, and I hope the experience is shared among many. 

Blood (circulated), sweat (emanated), and tears (dropulated).

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hardfolk Classic Will Roll!

Just a quick post to confirm that Sunday's ride will roll as planned.

Meet at the soon-to-be-old Tall Tree store - 422 Richmond Rd - at 7am Sunday. Then we ride.

It'll be cold, but should be dry/ish. Bring extra gloves, if possible, to enable a switch upon departure from Wakefield. See Rodd's post below for more details.

I look forward to seeing you all for a day of conversation, great sights and some character building!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hardman Classic Update

Hallo all interested in the Hardman Classic still set for November 23rd.

Couple of points, a few folks have expressed interest in doing the longer loop. I think the best way is to consider it a two pronged group ride, the first stage is to Wakefield, via Cascade. This is 67 km to Wakefield and lunch, then those who wish to continue can do so, while those who do not can easily ride back to town via River Rd.
That way the most amount of folks can get some fun in, but without the heavy duty distance.
It will still end up being an over 120 km day, with plenty of climbing and some super fun gravel.
For those who want a bit more, well there will be a bit more.

I would recommend ya'all bring some things.
Chemical hand warmers, useful if you need them.
Lights, a be seen front and rear light
Dry gloves, just in case
Wear wool socks! and booties!
Bring cameras! Very scenic!
Bring two tubes each
and a patch kit
Bring a good attitude!
Thats all for now
So meeting will be fairly early. We will assemble at the Tall Tree old location for 7
We will roll along the river bike path on the Ottawa side, crossing either at Portage if the locks are open, or cross at the locks if they are crossable.
So if anyone wants to meet us at spots along the river, (War museum, under the bridge by the Museum of Civilization whatever, please let us know ahead of time)
A comment on this blog post will suffice.
I look forward to seeing you all there.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Pre-Hardfolk Classic

The first Sunday of November delivered clear skies and a brisk clime for what was to be a long day in the saddle. Seeing the forecast a couple days prior, a few of us were inspired to skip the cyclocross race in Kanata and pull together a Classic ride instead. 

Upon rolling up to meet some of the others in town, I was pleasantly surprised to see some faces I didn't expect. Thom convinced Brad and Martin to ditch the cross race, and when they did, they pulled two of their buddies along too. Four more wind buddies. A minute later, Chris pulled up, another pleasant surprise, and away we rolled to collect our final rider, Jamie, to the east. 

And then there were ten. We cruised through Lac Leamy, a favourite route to work over to Cantley, across the river, and through the switchback section of bikepath that beckoned thoughts of Alpes Duez. On route to Cantley, misfortune struck, and I suffered my first Grand Bois flat after a season on them. An inch long nail near the bead...hmmm, just how does that happen?

Photo: Rodd Heino

Fixed up and rolling, we rolled on through Cantley and started to splinter a bit. About 30k in one of our wildcard riders was feeling a little too much sensation, and decided to head back to town with his compatriot. Down to eight. Unfazed, we plodded on.

As we approached the road to Cascades, Brad peeled off in order to get home at noon. Down to seven. Soon upon the Cascades downhill - the fastest in the area we know of - we headed down to encounter patches of brown ice near the middle. Yowsers. To be avoided. Nobody broke any records. As usual, the following climb made us pay.

Photo: Matt Surch

Atop this climb we hung a right into the neighborhood to climb a steep turn and partook in some fantastic dirt conditions; tacky and pretty darn smooth. Sure, there were strips of ice here and there, but hey, what's a ride without a little sliding action?

Rodd and Rob up the grunt - Photo: Matt Surch

This is where things get good! Photo: Matt Surch

The descent from the neighborhood back to the Cascades makes all the climbing worthwhile. Braking is required going into a couple of the corners, which is nice since we don't have many tough corners around here. There was a bit of ice, but we all came out clean, with smiles on our faces. 

From dirt to tarmac, we headed toward the golf course, where Thom found a most welcoming porta-potty. All those layers really slow ya down!

Before long we were onto the highway, then rolling into Wakefield for lunch. Pipolinka is where its at for excellent food and drinks, organic and fair trade!

After lunching, Martin departed for town while the rest of us continued on despite a bit of a time crunch. Rodd had a new route he wanted to try, so off we went, back through the covered bridge. 

This climb was pretty darn steep, up to %20 - Photo: Matt Surch

Rodd's 'gravel gap' proved most entertaining, with its snow-covered climb (Jamie climbs above) and rock laden downhill blaze. Unfortunately, not all got through clean; Rob pinched and put a bit of a dent into his rim. Even Grand Bois in 32 come up short sometimes.

Looping back to Wakefield we encountered a few interesting happenings: A hunter walking up the road carrying his rifle told us we shoulda been wearing red...scary; a teenage girl fell off her horse; a young buck sprinted at the road perpendicular us and bounded over ditch and fence, fence and ditch; a field of pumpkins; a bunch of huskies sitting in the sun. Then Chris's spokes loosened up to the point where it required serious attention. Unfortunately, the three mechanics in the group had to head back to town, so we left Chris, Rob and Rodd behind to deal with it. A short time later, we got word via cell that Chris had opted to call in the sag wagon. Then we were five.

Rolling through Hull, Rob suffered another flat in a construction area. We had just enough light to get home.

Total distance for the day was about 135k. After some post-ride discussion, we agreed that the Hardfolk Classic will have to roll out earlier, about 7 am, and we'll have to hit Pipolinka and run. This way we will have the option to head to the Dam, which ought to be spectacular. It was great to have an opportunity to do a dry run with less daylight after noon to feel out the timing. The Hardfolk will not be much longer than this route, perhaps even shorter if the weather is severe. Check back for an update with a GPS trace of the route.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hardfolk Classic - November 23

As promised, below is the briefing Rodd wrote for the First annual Hardfolk Classic, coming up on the 23rd. Check it out and we'll answer any questions posed.

Hallo all hardfolk
So I have no way o' predicting the weather, but assuming the roads are still somewhat clear and somewhat dry, I'd like to propose one last hurrah before it becomes impossible/passable

Some of you have had to listen to me spout off about the riding north of Wakefield.  Some of you have had the pleasure of joining me, others have had the pleasure of exploring the area yerselves. 

Here's some links to the kind of terrain you can expect:

Now granted, these were taken on sunny warm days, but the fun is still there. 

I have two route ideas and I'd like some feedback

option 1

Starts at the Island Park Bridge and heads northeast towards Mt. Cascade, up into the subdivison at the top then on to wakefield via a neato gravel gap I found.  Lunch at Wakefield (60 km or so in) then onto a loop towards Farrelton, (the green bridge for those of you who know) over the green bridge, and then up onto the escarpment via chemin Woods, Pritchard then Erable, back home through Wakefield (for more hot coffee perhaps and a snack,) then a flat 40 km home. 

Option 2 (and this is the one I'd really like to do with ya'all)

This route is almost identical (including the lovely lunch in wakefield), except instead of crosing at the green metal bridge at Farrelton, we continue up to the Paugan Dam at Low,

then over and down beside Lac Bernard via Kalala rd then onto Erables and back home through Wakefield. 
(this routes adds perhaps another hour to hour and a half to the previous route)

The nice thing about these routes is they have many bailouts, either the first 60 km at wakefield, you can just go home from there, or once you've done the one side of the river, you could just blast down the 105 (12 to 15 km) and be in Wakefield again and then home...
So no worries if the day isn't working out for you... No need to do the whole thing if it doesn't pan out. 

I would like this ride to be inclusive, but challenging. No drops.
Drafting and pacelining isn't much of a factor on the gravel (and there is some gravel, prolly 40% or so) but may be fun on the roads.
We usually average, on a nice sunny day, somewhere between 23 and 25 km an hour tops. 
That is just a guideline.  
This is not meant to be a puke you guts out hammer fest. It's meant to be a long ride, but a fun one, there are many steep climbs, but also many amazing descents. The scenery, as you will see, is jaw dropping. 

Lower gears recommended, simply because on some of the steep stuff ya gotta stay seated.  I use a 36x25 and do not have a problem. If anyone is gear challenged let me know, I have many options to help make you road steed more steep hill friendly.  Tires are an important consideration.  I have done all of these rides on plump smooth 30c tires, 28s are also fine, I wouldn't recommend any smaller.  Again, I have an extra set of the smooth 30s and some 28s ya'all can borrow. 

Obviously the more the merrier, stock up on grub, (clif shot bloks rok!) 
two tubes, and a patch kit to stave off the flat monster. 
Bring some dosh for lunch and snacks.. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Inaugural Fall Fixed Frolic: a Classic in the Making

On Sunday, October 19th Ottawa's first annual Fall Fixed Frolic rolled into the books in style. After months of planning, and weeks spent getting the word out, 20 riders assembled at Tall Tree Cycles on Richmond Road, ready for what promised to be a great morning in the saddle. No one was disappointed.

The frolic was inspired by an article I read in Dirt Rag in 2007. The article told of a fall ramble somewhere in the U.S., which attracted cyclists of all stripes to enjoy a leisurely, scenic ride around a lake. The ride was 50 miles long or so. I was inspired to put together a similarly motivated ride from Ottawa, one that would attract both hardened veterans and newbies alike. Here in town we have quite a fixed gear scene happening, but I've found that many of the riders don't get out for rides out of town. Here was an opportunity to get them out in a safe, friendly context so they could experience the wonder of riding out on the open road through the countryside. It so happened that a number of said fixters did not make it out, but there is always next year!

Before we rolled out, Rodd took some pre-ride snaps of the bikes that would carry us through time and space. More pics of the ride can be found here and here.

Matt's converted Cannondale

Jeff's Langster

Thom's Steelwool Limited, gentleman style

Pascal's Japanese Bianchi

Kent's Steelwool Limited

The Route

The ride was to be flat enough to keep the group together, quiet and scenic. Will and Thom delivered what was coincidentally the same route the Cycle Logik group often rides on Saturday mornings, but in reverse. The ride unfolded mostly on backroads.

Pascal rolling toward Kanata - photo: Rodd Heino

We headed west on the bike path along the Ottawa river, and once into Kanata, through the Tour Nortel route west. 

The group rolling a buff dirt road toward Carp - photo: Will Ficner

Out on the open road, a couple groups developed. Candace was on her first fixed ride ever, and noted how much energy she felt she had to devote to paying attention. Some were keen to wind it up on the mellow downhills, while others were more than happy to roll steadily and enjoy a chat.
Glenn and Marilee rocking traffic cone frienders - photo: Will Ficner

Will busts out some serious camerage - photo: Rodd Heino

Only one mechanical during the ride...kinda. Alex was motoring on a big ratio - photo: Will Ficner

The kilos ticked off smoothly as we passed through farmers fields and past old homesteads. Many of us had never ridden this area before and were more than pleased with the route. Very nice terrain. Stu informed me that the route could be extended to Almonte. This makes the Paris Roubaix route accessible from Ottawa without a necessary car ride, which is good new for those of us who prefer to drive less and ride more. In 2009 we will put together a ride out to Almonte to do the Roubaix route. It'll make for a nice 200k day. We'll run gears for that.

Kent representing the Camelback contingent - photo: Will Ficner

We rolled right through Carp and toward Dunrobin where we planned to break for br/lunch.

We had intended to stop at a cafe in  Dunrobin, but were turned away. Who'd of thunk they wouldn't be able to accommodate 20 for a drop in! Fortunately, we were able to head over to a near-by pizza place where they were still serving breakfast. I had a pretty darn good 'gravity pizza,' while the others partook in the breakfast fare. Bobby's, I think it was, will see us return.

After lunch, it was just an easy 20k or so back to town.

Heading into Carp - photo: Will Ficner

On the way back we bumped into Marco, who had left early from lunch to get home to his family. He'd dropped his chain kilometers back and stripped the treads on his hub - the main risk of running a suicide set-up. Jeff, Jamie and I offered to push him home, and proceeded to motor. Turns out its pretty easy for three to push one. Once we hit Island Park and Richmond Jeff was left on his own to finish the job, which he did without complaint. Nice.

So, the first annual Fall Fixed Frolic was a hit. Thanks to everyone for coming out! We'll do it again next year, but before then we've got lots of rides lined up. 

Next up is the Hardman/Hardperoffspring Classic. This ride will go down Sunday November 24th, departing from town, likely Tall Tree. We will head toward Wakefield on gearies for a nice long ride on mixed surfaces. It'll be between 130-150k, with about 40 percent dirt roads. A post will follow with the details Rodd has formulated.

In the spring we will put together a series of rides beginning with an icebreaker fixed ride, hopefully in March, weather permitting. We will then work up in distance every Sunday, preparing for the Cascades road race for some, and the Paris Roubaix for others. Hopefully we'll be able to work up to a couple rides around 100k with hills in advance of the Roubaix to prepare for the challenging course. After the Roubaix we'll keep upping the distances a bit each week and put in some epic routes up Wakefield way. Good times will be had. Stay tuned.