Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Update: Quintuple Pave Classic September 6

The poster is about to be completed for the Quintuple. We are now calling it a team randonnee. This fits the spirit and format of the event better than the TTT label. Call it a team rando for short. It has a good ring.

Final details are being resolved. The map and cue sheets will be ready soon.

I have opened an email address for enquiries about the event: quintupleclassic@gmail.com. Please send questions to me there rather than call the shop. They guys are generally up to their ears with work.

If you need good rough road tires, Tall Tree has Grand Bois in 28 and 30 in stock. Get em while they last.

Click these links to read the earlier posts on the event - more details: One. Two.

We are asking teams to confirm attendance by end of day September 3. This will enable us to print the appropriate number of cue sheets and waivers, and gauge BBQ requirements. To confirm, email me at: quintupleclassic@gmail.com Thanks.

Riders without teams, or with teams needing additional riders, email me at the address above asap. I'll compile a list and we'll do our best to get riders onto teams composed of riders with similar abilities. If there is an odd number of riders, we'll add riders to the teams out for a mellower ride.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A spirited ride and a rider with spirit

The latter must come first. Jens Voigt crashed hideously in stage 16 of the Tour. His bar turned freakishly at speed on a descent and he landed face first off the side of his bike. Jens was tired; he had just crushed himself on the climb, pulling his team-mates Andy and Frank in full 'mask.' This man knows how to endure pain. His attitude is so positive, I wonder whether he suffers on the bike. There is a distinction: pain is what it is, it can be accepted. Suffering is not being ok with the pain. I get the impression Jens is quite ok with it. He just loves to hammer it. His attitude is what makes him my favourite rider. He has a strong spirit. Fortunately, being as tired as he was helped Jens avoid being struck by others when he crashed. He was at the back of the group. The man slid on his face for meters. I, along with the others I watched the stage with, feared Jens was very seriously injured. Fortunately, Jens is doing much better than we had supposed. I came across this video of Jens addressing his fans and supporters. Again, his spirit is so prominent. He takes his ill fortune in stride and looks forward. He epitomizes grace. I would not be surprised to learn that he is Buddhist. He exudes the Buddhist practice of non-attachment. Cycling benefits immensely from having people like Jens representing the sport. If only we could all practice the humble strength Jens does.

On to the spirited ride. Many expressed interest in a ride today while celebrating Candace's birthday Saturday night. However, the weather was not quite appealing enough for all to get out of bed and chamois up. Nevertheless, our group ended up being a good size: Jamie, Rodd, Glenn, Jeff, Mark, Andy, Stu and Shawn showed up ready to ride. Once Jamie resolved his four punctures at home that is.

Plans were not too lofty today. We rolled the first section of the QuinTuple route through Cantley, took the Chamonix dirt option, and looped to Wakefield. I finally reached, in fact exceeded my land speed record goal, clocking 101.65k/hr on the descent just before Cascades. The air was calm and there was no traffic. This is rare. Despite running fenders, the speed got up there. Must have been my skinny Pinarello cross bike's tubes. Whatever, I can stop trying for 100 now. My wife will be pleased...that I'll stop trying that is!

We opted for the 105 route into Gatineau, then onto the bike path to lead us onto the Parkway. This stretch was very nice. Unfortunately Glenn slid out in a turn and came out of it with road rash and torn shorts. Bummer. All in all the ride was just 105-110k, and we managed to maintain a pace around 28, which is spirited compared to our typical 25. Good practice for the QuinTuple.

Speaking of the QuinTuple, it occurred to me recently that the event is really best thought of as a team randonnee. Yes, TTTTT has a good ring to it, but it also carries connotations that don't quite fit the concept for the event. So lets think of is as a team rando. Randos are still timed. They are just not 'races'. Perfect.

I mentioned my Pinarello 'cross bike earlier. Today was a perfect day to ride this bike as it is fendered at the moment and I am trying 'determine' what sort of tubing will be best for me for the custom Steelwool being built for me in August. I will be posting a series of 'articles' about the process, beginning in a day or two. I am taking this as an opportunity to impart some of the things I've learned about bicycle design from my time riding and racing various styles of bike, along with some of the things I've learned while going through the process of envisioning and working with Will to design this new bike. I hope the bike confirms what others assert: steel can outperform carbon. My Pinarello falls just short of removing any doubt from my mind about the supremacy of steel's ride quality. I can't wait to see how the new bike feels. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As an avid Ottawa mountain bike racer I'm ashamed to say I had never raced at Bromont until this month. I have heard about how great this place is for many years and remember reading about World Championship battles in ancient newsprint Velonews issues. So with thoughts of Henrik Djernis and Flex Stems I headed up there for the Canada Cup a couple of weeks ago.

The Bromont Myth began to crack with a $175 speeding ticket near the ski hill. Eighty kph on this fairly quiet country road seemed perfectly reasonable to us but there was no negotiating with this sneaky speed trap. After parking the car at the race venue a few minutes later we were confronted by yet another friendly Bromont cop. This time he was walking the parking lot trying to open car doors. Apparently it's an offence to leave a vehicle unlocked. I find it offensive that public money is spent paying a cop to wander parking lots invading the personal space of hundreds of people just out for a fun day of bike riding. Thankfully we were still at the car guarding it when he came by. I'm sure others were less fortunate. Go Bromont!

Did I mention that it was pouring rain? Now, the race organizers can't control the weather but some kind of building to seek shelter in and maybe buy a coffee or something would have been nice. Especially considering this place is hosting a World Cup in a few weeks. Oh well, we were there to ride so we headed out to do a few laps before the next day's race.

The course looked promising with a long twisty technical climb each lap, a healthy dose of wild Quebec downhills and even a bit of a four-cross section. Very cool. Unfortunately the steady rains were making large portions of the course increasingly unrideable. Neil, Anna and I turned a couple of laps and left the venue optimistic that the soil would firm up a little overnight.

Nope. Sunday brought sunshine but the course was in even worse shape than the day before. The organizers had cut out a couple of unrideable sections but it made little difference. It's not an exaggeration to say that 30% of the course was unrideable. Most racers attacked the main climb and nearly all of the technical singletracks on foot. Neil had a flat at one point and decided to run to the tech zone rather than fix it. Running seemed to be no slower than riding anyway. He was right and managed to mostly keep up on foot with the group he was riding with before the flat tire.

My race was no better. Though I kept the air in my tires I was well off the pace. I did salvage 6th place and couldn't help but laugh at the whole crazy race... Before the start I overheard super-pro Peter Glassford advising a friend to "just keep laughing" in the race. Good advice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Race Report: 2009 OBC Grand Prix

This year just two Tall Tree riders were signed up for the Grand Prix, Jamie and myself. It was to be the second time racing the event for both of us. Last year I suffered a bizarre flat, and Jamie had a somewhat unpleasant experience in the unpredictable and ever pulsing novice class. Rob and Neil both had good races last year, but were away racing their mountain bikes at Buckwallow this weekend. Hopefully they fared better than Jamie and me.

I came down sick mid week with strep throat. Onto penicillin on Wednesday, I hoped I'd feel fine in time to race. I'd already registered. Due to my desire to race the longer course at Battenkill in April, I wound up getting a Cat2 license for the year rather than Masters. This meant I was to be lumped in with the Cat1 group for the GP. Since I'd managed Fortune fine with the Masters group last year, I figured I'd be ok with the faster guys. My plan was to hang as well as I could, period.

Saturday morning was wetter than I'd hoped. En route with Greg - who'd generously offered to feed me bottles and drive us up - we encountered some pretty heavy rain. I'm fine with bad weather, but wasn't sure how I'd hold up with the illness. Warming up felt fine. However, I didn't get to find out how I'd do with the 1/2s, because I missed the start! What? Pretty lame indeed. My computer has stopped functioning on the drive up, so I didn't know exactly what time it was, and was misled be the people milling around what I though the start area was. It was actually much further up the road. I didn't know the 1/2s were gone until about 30 seconds before the Cat3s were about to go. What to do? Off I went in vain.

The 3s caught me a quarter of the way up Fortune. Duncan offered encouragement as I tried to join the paceline that was steaming up the hill. I made it in, but lacked the ability to keep up the the leading guys; I was not feeling well. A small group got away, and I proceeded to work with a group of about 5 to try to catch them. The rain was pounding so hard at times it was painful on the face. The spray from the wheels was also quite intense. A ways past the top I decided to call it a day and wait for Jamie to pull up to ride with him. Then I waited some more, freewheeling along while streams of riders passed. Jamie didn't show. So I rolled the rest of the lap at touring pace, thoroughly disinclined to work hard; it just felt bad. Greg and I packed up and headed to Old Chelsea for a coffee. Getting sick when I did was not within my control, so I was not disappointed with the day. Missing the start might have been better for me, as I likely would have chased for longer with my own group. That would have been worse for me. I'll likely never find out what its like to race with the 1/2 group at the GP now...oh well. Back to Masters next year.

Jamie also missed his start. He'd forgotten his electronic timing ankle strap at home, and had to retrieve it. He missed by 10 minutes, so he didn't even get on his bike. He was not happy, as he was on good form and looking forward to the test. He'll be a Master next year, so we can try to work together then. That'll be fun.

So the next big thing is D2R2 in August. I hope I manage to rope a few others in, as it should be an incredible ride. After that, it's Hastings followed by lots of 'cross racing, including Ironcross. Plenty more to look forward to.

Speaking of upcoming events, I have received requests for an organized ride between now and the QuinTuple (see below). I have a good route in mind we've done before that takes us through the western limit of the Gatineau Park near Lac le Peche. I'll see what we can do to get one together soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Details, Details

The QuinTuple Pave Classic moved a couple steps closer to the becoming a reality on Sunday, as Rodd and I gathered five others to form the crew for a recon ride. We locked down the route, composed the cue sheet, and generally got a good handle on the plan. Here are the vitals:

What: QuinTuple Pave Classic (Tall Tree Team Time Trial) - 5 riders per team, all riders must finish in order for time to count. Last rider's time is the team's time.

Why: Fun, however you define it. This is an opportunity to hammer or take on a no-drop ride (or something in between) with four wind buddies over hilly, sometimes rough, scenic terrain. Its also a chance to ride a route that might be altogether new to you at a pace determined by your small group, rather than big, lumbering one. Don't want to stop much? Only stop for water. Want to have breaks? Take em. There are no such event exists in these parts, so we're gettin'-r-done.

When: DATE CHANGE - Sunday September 6, 08:00.

Where: Departing from Lac Leamy, Gatineau

Distance: 145k

Elevation Gain: 1700m plus

Route: The first 11k will be neutralized. We will stop at the designated zero-your-odometer point, then proceed to turn #1, where the race will begin. The route afford stops at two stores before arriving to Wakefield. The 'end' will be at 'the sign' on the Gatineau Parkway.

Road conditions: Approximately 45k of the route is dirt road. The paved sections are generally good. There are a few monster potholes on the very first stretch, but after that the roads are great. The dirt sections are presently in excellent shape.

Teams: Similar objectives and abilities shared among team-mates is desirable. If you don't have enough buddies to form a team, but want to participate, get in touch and we'll form a list and go from there. One way or another everyone will ride who wants to.

Legal: Don't sue us. We don't have any money. Riders will be required to sign a waiver before receiving their cue sheets.

We will be posting the course map and cue sheets shortly. This will afford the opportunity to pre-ride. Comments on the cue sheets are welcome. A poster for the event is also forthcoming. We'd appreciate it if recipients would post some of these up in their local spots (get permission if necessary). Circulating it through your networks will also help a lot. We're aiming for at least 6 teams; more would be great.

There are tentative plans for a BBQ at Tall Tree after the event. We will request confirmation of attendance in advance so we can print the appropriate number of cue sheets and gauge BBQ needs. More to come here on these details, and others.

Below is a sampling of photos from Sunday. More can be seen here and here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tall Tree Team Time Trial (QuinTuple) Pave Classic

The time has come to ramp up the planning for the QuinTuple Pave Classic. I posted about this a short time ago, and have since received positive feedback about the idea. By ramping up I mean actually get down to the business of planning, beyond mere talk.
follow up posts here and here

Here is the lowdown:

The event is in effect a 5-person team time trial. All teams will start at the same time.

The route will be a mix of dirt and tarmac. It will be optimized for variety and elevation change. I hope to ride Rodd's tentative route with him on Sunday to generate the tip sheet, and thus exact distance.

The route will be longer than 150k, not exceeding 200. I promise. No surprise miles.

Riders will need to navigate the route on their own. There will be no signs at turns. We will utilize a very clear format for the cuesheets.

Teams will confirm their routes by taking team (digital) photos at designated points. There will be points given for teams with the best: Bluesteel, Too-cool-for-school, Shattered, Classic Hardman/woman, WhatthehellhaveIgottenmyselfinto, This-totally-sucks faces. Maybe more.

This event will be difficult. At the minimum distance of 150k, and a steady average speed of 25k/hr, you'll ride for 6 hours. If we wind up with a longer route, which is expected, more saddle time. If a team rides well, I suspect 30k/hr is quite doable. However, what really counts is total time, so avoiding mechanicals is crucial, as are quick stops.

There will be no sag wagon. Riders will need to arrange their own bail out if they encounter insurmountable issues.

This can be approached as a hammerfest or an opportunity to experience a great ride with friends. It will be what you make it. Teams will be permitted to ride together.

If you would like to participate, get a team together. If you are without potential team-mates, get in touch with me and I'll form a list of riders to be grouped. Try to team up with riders of similar ability so you can work well together. If we wind up with dangling riders we'll work it out.