Monday, September 28, 2009

Crank the Shield

After a long season of racing it all wound up this past weekend with my second attempt at Chico Racing's Crank the Shield event. This is a perfectly-executed three day stage race across some of the most rugged terrain I've ever ridden. The race courses consist of a giant loop each day mostly in and around the Haliburton Forest. Racers attack the route either solo or in two person teams.

Into the wild! Photo courtesy

Last year I finished 5th overall and was pretty proud. The top four solo racers that year were some of the fastest elites in the country so I was more than happy to be "best of the rest." This year the start list looked a little more interesting to me -- there were still a core group of four elites -- though these guys seemed a little closer to my own abilities and two of them were actually racing as a team. In addition, one of my O-Cup rivals Jason Everaert would be on the start line. Jason's usually faster than me but he is a fellow Masters racer and on a good day I can beat him. And so I lined up on Friday with the goal of hanging with the two solo elites (Stu Alp and Danny Souter), the elite team (Kyle Douglas and Haydn Boucher) for as long as possible and maybe even beating my masters class rival Jason.

Stage One

The first day of racing would take place on about 80km of mixed terrain: very technical rocky singletrack, gravel roads, rutted doubletrack, a bit of pavement... pretty much every surface I've ever ridden a bike on. The steep climbs and technical singletracks were the defining features to me though. It was going to be a hard day.

From the start I tried to be on the first few wheels heading into the singletrack (getting caught up behind 220 or so riders would not be a good way to start the race.) I had no problem getting in a good position and the pace was manageable. Jason apparently thought we were dogging it though and took the opportunity to build a lead of over 5 minutes in the first 1.5hrs of technical riding. I settled in with the four super pros and we decided that Jason would inevitably explode. I crossed my fingers.

Last year Day One of the race was remembered for swampy bogs. This year I'll remember the dry singletrack.

Photo stolen from

By about hour three we found Jason crawling up a long climb with severe leg cramps. Our group of five passed by and headed into a last long section of rocky hiking-style trails (think illegal Gatineau Park trails.) During the last hour of the race I fought off my own leg cramps but managed to hang on and even accelerate in the final kilometre to finish seconds behind the Super Pro Team of Kyle and Hadyn and race favourite Stu Alp. I even managed to put a minute or so into one of the other top elite guys.

It was a great day. I met all of my goals: I hung on to the elite group for the entire four hour race, put 5 minutes into Jason and enjoyed some awesome terrain with a great group of guys. You can always learn a lot riding with racers of a higher level. I was punching above my weight racing with Stu, Dan, Haydn and Kyle but it worked as I had moved into the lead in the over 30 category and second place in the overall solo race. My fear was that riding their pace was taking a lot out of me -- their tempo is my threshold pace!

One of the great things about this race is the fantastic support network assembled by Chico Racing: nightly lodging in cabins at kids' summer camps on pristine lakes, massage services, extensive mechanical support, Subway sandwiches at the finish line and an amazing buffet a couple hours later... even free beer! On the first night I got a chance to stand on top of the podium and went to sleep leading the over 30 solo race.

The view at our first evening's accommodations -- photo courtesy

Stage Two

Day two of the race was an 87km trip finishing in downtown Haliburton. The day had the potential to be the most rugged of the race -- 2-3hrs of nasty rocky trail, a few km of pavement through the town of Minden, an hour or so of hilly trail and finally an 18km stretch of rail trail into Haliburton. My fear for this day was losing contact with the lead group before the rail trail finish. Riding this flat road-like surface alone while my rivals worked together in a group ahead would mean big time losses.

The first two hours of nasty rocky trails went well. I was having no trouble riding near the front of a group of twelve or so. The trail had a lot of exposed rock with many short tricky ascents/descents. Being from Ottawa I'm comfortable on this sort of stuff and the pace was moderate. I did manage to damage a spoke in my rear wheel though. A stick had become lodged in the wheel and interestingly, ripped the spoke out of the nipple's threads. Weird, but only a minor setback. This kind of terrain is such an exhausting smash-fest that an out of true rear wheel is almost unnoticeable.

Following this initial trail slog we hit some asphalt and quickly pared the group down to eight riders. In Minden we were treated to a fabulously well-stocked aid station. It had been 57 hard km that day and we all stocked up on Hammer Gels, Clif Bars and lubed our chains. I had a bit of a lapse and left the station last. I was gapped a bit as the group headed into a series of steep trail climbs. I panicked a bit and went anaerobic. Before I could catch on the group hit a kilometre or so of asphalt. My over 30 rival Jason went to the front and drove the pace to distance me. He was looking to find the five minute I put into him the day before. My fear for the day was coming true! After the group left the pavement and navigated the last hilly hour of trail before the rail trail finale I pushed it with everything I had and regained contact. Close call. We were now a group of eight.

I was hanging on with just the last 18km of rail trail to contend with. Last year this section was dreadful - I was totally exhausted and the stone-dust surface just seemed to suck the life out of me. This year we started conservatively and then ramped up the speed until we were rotating in a double pace line. The pace was hard -- given the 3.5hrs we had just completed -- and two riders succumbed and drifted off the back. We were now down to the core group from the day before: me, Over 30 Jason, Pro Stu, Pro Dan, and the Uber Pro duo of Kyle and Haydn. Kyle was clearly the strongest and his pulls were putting us in the red. Many times I wanted to just stop pedalling and drift off their wheels and I could tell Jason was feeling the same way. We hung on though and did our share of the work.

Having done the race last year I was familiar with the finish in Haliburton. The town has a real RCAF fighter plane on a pole in a park downtown. I was looking for it through crossed eyes in our rail trail death line. When I saw it I knew we were very close to the finish so I made my way to the front of the group and prepared for the last big effort of the day. With 500m to go, on pavement, it looked like a sprint finish was a real possibility. Kyle jumped hard with his teammate glued to his wheel. I tried to latch on but could not. I had gapped the others though. With about 200m to go Stu came by at about 50kph and I was able to get his wheel. We crossed the finish line a couple of metres behind the winning duo and just in front of Jason and Dan.

After four and a quarter hours across every type of mountain bike terrain imagineable we threw down a wild sprint on a bike path... such a surreal day. But it went well -- I lost no time and even sprinted for the win with guys I consider beyond my abilities. It was definitely challenging and I had some close calls but managed to hang on. I didn't win (though I was first in my age category) but just being there at the end was extremely satisfying.

Day Two finish line -- photo

This type of racing is so full of drama. I've always been pretty cynical about people who claim transcendence and self-actualization through sport. I mean we're riding around the woods in tight shorts on multi-thousand-dollar bicycles -- how serious can we take it, really? Anyway, this kind of racing may be changing my outlook. We may not be changing the world but there's sure potential to find out who we really are. Or as the cliche goes, "what we're made of." Case in point: Justin and Gord. Two buddies and fast dudes. On day two Justin had to deal with a broken spoke and screwed up freehub. Once he was rolling again he came across Gord pushing his bike with a non-functioning drivetrain. He could coast but not pedal. Justin and Gord ride for the same team but were in this race as solo entrants. Nevertheless, Justin didn't want to leave his buddy walking for 18km on the rail trail so he started pushing him while riding at his side. When this became tedious they decided to rig up a towing system using a spare innertube. One of them would pedal the functioning bike towing the other on the crippled bike. Every two kilometres they would switch bikes to share the work all the way to the finish line nearly two hours later. Amazing.

That night we were put up in the cabins of Camp Whitepine. Beautiful place with great chefs and, oddly, the set of the 1970s John Belushi movie Meatballs. I made another trip to the top of the Over 30 podium and went to sleep leading that race and second in the overall solo race.

Stage Three

The big finish. This day began with a longish transfer ride of 15km to the start line. It was nice to spin out the legs and chat with other racers on the way to the start, but even this paved neutral ride seemed somewhat challenging -- a bad sign! The actual race course for the day was a 55km trip back to the Haliburton Forest where the weekend began. It would start with about 45 minutes of serious climbing on a rocky hydrocut and then cover quite a lot of very technical singletrack with some road bits thrown in for good measure.

I started this day pretty certain that the elite group would ride away from me on some of the steeper climbs. But what about Jason? I still had five minutes on him but I've faced him in many O-Cups and know that he's usually stronger on steep terrain.

Our group of six from the day before was formed again right from the start. The pace on the climbs got harder and harder and harder. I was above my threshold many times but managed to hang on for about an hour. The climbing was over for a while and I had survived the hardest efforts of the weekend. And then they just rode away. I was completely exhausted and as we hit a series of short rollers I just came off the rails. The gap grew and there was literally nothing I could do. My lungs just weren't communicating with my legs. Two or three others passed me as I drifted backward... They were solo riders but I had put enough time into them in the previous stages that I wasn't really worried. It was discouraging though. I was okay with watching the elite group ride away -- I had expected it at some point -- but it was hard to watch my rival Jason hang on while I lost it.

Minutes later Matt Klymson from Vancouver caught up and gave me a metaphorical kick in the ass. We worked well together and despite the beating from Jason and the nearly complete depletion of my energy stores I was starting to have fun again. An hour later Matt snapped his chain. Too bad because he was having a good ride and he was fun to ride with.

NO bogs! -- photo from

The last hour or so of the day was run on very challenging singletrack. Knowing I was slipping in the standings was discouraging but it was pretty hard not to smile at the beautiful surroundings, wicked trails and teams of volunteers encouraging us all to the finish. The sun was shining as I crossed the finish line knowing I had given it everything I had to give. Jason was the stronger rider and he hung with the elite group until the final kilometres of the day. He's a great guy who I enjoyed getting to know and he deserved to win our category. Stu took the overall solo race while The Super Team of Kyle and Hayden took the whole race. Well done boys.

Over the course of 250km I lost 10 minutes or so to a group of elite racers. I had expected to lose 10-20 minutes a day so I surpassed my own expectations. I rode at the front, in the action, and won my age group in two of three stages, coming surprisingly close to leading the whole race at various points. Second Over 30 rider, fourth overall solo rider, a pile of medals, a great trophy and it was all over.

While all this was going on with me, my girl Trish was killing it in the women's race. Last year she was second to a very strong rider from Fort Mcmurray named Kate Ardel. This year after two days Trish was keeping her within a few minutes. Then, on day three, while I was melting down Trish was coming alive and managed to pull even with Kate. She was still a few minutes down in the overall but Trish was excited to be riding at Kate's pace. Eventually Trish pulled away and was thrilled that a stage win was possible. Little did she know that after falling behind Kate began to experience a horrendous series of mechanicals -- including a snapped derailleur hanger and two chain breaks -- that would put her something like an hour behind. Trish took the overall with mixed emotions. She was happy to have passed Kate fair and square before the mechanicals began, but she was also reluctant to claim overall victory like this. But both riders know that this kind of thing is typical of bush-whack stage racing. Anything can happen.

And so it was over. One last buffet at the finish line and we were ready to hit the road satisfied. Oh I almost forgot: the awards ceremony ended with a tonne of draw prizes. The biggest prize, a $2000 entry to the BC Bike Race was awarded to none other than Justin "I'll tow you to the finish line buddy!" Winster. It was a fitting end to a fantastic event. I encourage everyone to give this thing a go. It's far and away the most challenging and best organized off road race in Ontario.

Race Report: True North Guelph Cross and Singlespeed Cross Nationals

Wow, this is incredible. The dirt hump was ALMOST jumpable...almost.

More photos here:
Fantastic exposures!

Rodd and I returned from Guelph mid-day yesterday after an action packed Saturday of racing. We thoroughly worked ourselves over, racing at 1:30 and then again at 6. We raced both singlespeed, a first for both of us. Both races went well, the first being a typical course with a great uphill barrier, a few off cambers; lots of technical elements. I started strong in the Masters 1 field, following Andrew Crouch of True North through the first lap, them drifted back a little as the pain settled in. Rodd started off slower, but ramped it up, catching then passing me about halfway in. He rode super smooth, and we I followed for a while, then got spat out. on the final lap I put the suffering aside and made up about 20 seconds to pull ahead of the elite between us (elites stared 1 minute ahead) and finished close to Rodd. Fifth and sixth. Except the officials switched my to elite in the results, which put me one lap down...whatever.

Next race was at 6 pm, True North HQ. A grass cut course, this one was fresh and lumpy. the Lemans start set Rodd and I up 1-2. We kept it at about 8.5-9 on the volume dial and Rodd took the preem for beer. Kept it this way until the end of the second lap, where I took over the pulling. Soon Ted Ingram was knocking on the door, so I let him by. Followed him for a while, volume at 10. Too bumpy, taking a beating in the lower back. Down to 9. Rodd trails with another True North rider, Paul, on his tail. Second...suffer the pain. Oooh, the pain; debilitating. Dismount for a barrier, back locks up. I stood there to stretch it while the next two - Rodd has dropped back with too much back pain too - passing. I chased as well as possible and maintained the gap. Ted was far ahead, but suffered a flat and broken crank arm - simultaneously apparently! This put me in third and that's how it ended. Rodd was two or three back, but he didn't drop out. That took a lot of will.

Once on the road to recovery, we got down to the party. More to come on this later. When the photos start to appear I'll 'beef' this report up. Here are the two I've found so far.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cross Vegas gets the Treetment!

Look at that, Neil representing large! Borrowed from Cyclingnews...big time!

Word came in earlier today about Tall Tree Cycles ace racer Neil Scheiman's Cross Vegas experience. He didn't get lapped! Awesome, that is a feat in itself, as the race was attended by many honches, including Vervecken, Kabush, Page and Trebon. Neil pulled off the 3rd best Canadian finish in 52nd spot out of 90 finishers; about 15 DNFd. What a fantastic effort, way to go Neil! Once again, Tall Tree throws it down in the USA! Look out for Niel in the OBC series about to start on Sunday; he ought to be flying. I'll have to slap on extra Mad Alchemy embro to keep his back in sight! Embrocation is magical, right?

Look for Neil at about 34s.

Look for Neil around 1:26.

Check back soon for Rob Parniak's report from Crank the Shield last week. Lets just say he pulled off an awesome performance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wind Down/Up

Many things are in transition at the moment. We're settling into fall, slowly coming to terms with the waning evenings, dark at 7:30. Leaves are turning, falling...its a beautiful time of the year to ride. As many wrap up their season, worn down and in need of down time after hectic months on the bike, others are winding up for 'cross season.

Greg Cosgrove, one of the few Tall Tree team members who focuses on downhill riding and racing, had everything lined up for a podium finish at the Ontario Cup at Camp Fortune on Sunday. Sights set on the masters win, Greg had been preparing meticulously and, despite a hard crash a week prior, was feeling good about his chances. He was to roll somewhere around 2pm, so Steve and I got ourselves up there on our big wheeled bikes, taking the classic 5/15 route up. The trails were rolling with ease.

We made it up to the top of the hill just after 2, right on time. Fortuitously, we stumbled across Bass and Robb, good ol' friends and veteran downhill rippers. Robb had already taken the hardtail class win. So far so good.

Greg ripped by us looking good minutes later. He looked smooth and confident. After watching a bunch more descenders, Steve and I continued down to the bottom to catch up with Greg. We didn't find him until we were part way back up the hill. Flat tire. That was it, that's all it takes to leave the question of the day: 'Am I fast enough?,' unanswered. Greg has been doing this long enough to take it in stride, but it still burns to lose the opportunity to realize the fruit of your labour. The downhill season trails off now, and Greg, like others, will turn his gaze to the 'cross bike and a whole new world of experience on the bike.

Neil Scheiman, Tall Tree all-round hammer, will be tasting life in the fast lane sooner than the rest of us, as he launches his 'cross season in Las Vegas. After a year of solid performances on the mountain bike (and road bike), Neil managed to wrangle a spot in 'Cross Vegas,' one of the biggest 'cross races in North America. Attended by Lance last year, 'Cross Vegas is attacting bigger namer every year. The men's field is 100 deep; Neil got in as number 101! Bit of Canadian tenacity at the root of that I think! The race, held under stadium lights on Wednesday night, ought to be huge. We've given Neil his marching orders: take the holeshot and steal the media glory! Kidding, there is no chance Neil will be staged anywhere near the front. As far as I know, his main goal is to avoid getting lapped, and if he accomplishes this it'll be a stellar effort. These guys are seriously fast.

If anyone finds a link to a stream of the race, post it up here. It'd be great to see Niel dicing it up.

Rodd and I are off to the Singlespeed 'Cross Nationals in Guelph on Friday night. No, neither if us are singlespeed 'cross specialists, but the event promises to be fun, so we are going. We'll be doing a standard geared race in the morning, then the Nationals in the evening after converting our bikes. The winners get to represent Canada at the Singlespeed 'Cross World Championships in Portland. I'd love to go, but rather expect to get my @ss handed to me. That's ok, it takes years to get good at cross for mortals. Little by little. Rodd will be on his fresh custom Steelwool cross bike; I'll leave it to him to unveil it here. It is awesome.

Speaking of fresh bikes, my custom frame and fork are in, sitting in the shop in waiting for a few bits. Will was planning on a photo shoot for it along with the other frames in the batch, so as soon as I get the photos I will post them, then follow up with build photos. It looks really good, and promises to look outstanding all dressed up. There won't be much time left to ride it, as 'cross will occupy most of the fall, but I'm sure I'll find an opportunity to get it out for a long backroads ride before the snow.

Also on the new bike front, the boys have received a number of 2010 Konas at the shop. I counted up the number of times I did Parkway loops this season and hit just under 20. My new machine will be optimized for long allroad rides, not really a Parkway weapon. Since I am both 'discerning' and competitive, I've got my sights set on a new Kona model for straight road action. The guys at the shop have this one in stock right now:

The Haole is a Deda steel tubed ripper of a road bike, suited up with Ultegra and Ksyrium Equipes. It is rather unlike my new Steelwool; it has oversized, shaped tubes, a really short rear end, and limited clearance. The angles are not full on 'race,' but still a little tighter, with a 73 degree head angle versus my Steelwool's 72.5. Different rake and trail too. If I'm able to secure on of these for the season I'll be able to get a feel for the difference between the tube sets, research for future Steelwool projects. Exciting, I hope it comes together.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ride Report: Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred (4H) 2009

Mark of OBC's composition. His camera took a still every two seconds. Turn up the sound for this; it totally makes it.

That's a mouthful eh! The H4 is a century ride organized by the Broken Spokes bicycle club in Bancroft Ontario. Much to our surprise three years ago, Rodd and I discovered that the Hastings Highlands are just that; they climb pretty darn high and can be rather steep. Just over 2 hours drive from Ottawa, the area, just south of Algonquin Park, is home to a healthy dose of hills, sights, and friendly folk. History too. On our first attempt I suffered hideous aching in my legs on the infamous Siberia Road climb. I think I was burning muscle for energy...or something. It hurt, real bad. We'd hung with the lead group for a long time before letting them go. Nevertheless, I succumbed, and had to stop in hopes of recovering. Nope, just had to keep on truckin'. It was the hardest ride I had ever done to that point. Fast-forward a year. Rodd and I returned, along with a gaggle of friends. This time it would be different. I had prepared all year, learned how to eat and drink more consistently, and had many more miles under my chamois. Rodd and I did great, riding in the lead group into Siberia. Rodd climbed away from me with the 5 or six others on the climb as hamstring cramps set in. Determined to keep up, I moved my effort around, pushed back in the saddle and stood up to make it through the climb, catching up to the others at the checkpoint at the top. Once rolling again I managed the cramping with much effort as our numbers dwindled to four - Russ from OBC, a masters rider in Bushtukah kit, Rodd, and I rolled along the final kilometers. Then misfortune hit. Rodd began to bonk, and without food onboard (due to an unfortunate sequence of events), he had to drop off. The other three of us finished together; Russ towed us in.

After our first two attempts at Hastings Rodd and I both had goals. Rodd wanted to hang with the lead group until the end, as did I. But I wanted to do it without suffering the muscle damaging cramps. You see, I am still recovering from the damage I inflicted in 2008. Massage therapy, is helping a lot, but I'm not back to normal yet. Twinges still flair up when the going gets tough. So priority one was to avoid cramping. Priority two was to keep Rodd with me along with as many of the others as possible. This proved more difficult than expected.

The sun begins to shine through the morning fog at the farm.

These kinds of events always begin early. D2R2 starts at 6:00 am. That's about as early as I want to ride. You gotta get up before 5! Not natural. Hastings starts at 8. We all got up just before 6 and got breakfast going. Oatmeal was the popular choice. Quick and effective. I also ate some baked beans, another good choice. I like them on whole grain toast. This bean episode highlighted my persistent optimism. As I got halfway down the can while in the car, I found a cube of something white. Some of you will know already that I am vegan. I don't eat animal products, with the exception of honey. Therefore, I do not buy beans with pork. Naturally, Rodd suggested it must be pork. 'No,' I said, 'I think its tofu.' This profoundly stupid statement must have been related to my insomnia hours before (good thing the sleep two nights prior to big rides is the important one). I read the label, and promptly ceased to consume the can's contents. I don't think my lovely wife will ever read the label on beans the same way again (she was kind enough to pick up some food for me prior, and I DID NOT say unkind things to her about it).

Jacques' homestead, our abode for the weekend. Perfect.

Check in on-site went smoothly in Bancroft after our foggy drive over. Unlike last year, when Rodd forgot his helmet and I missed the departure while corralling others in our group - and consequently had to chase for 10k, alone! - we were all ready to go on time. However, 'on-time' slipped backward due to some riders being lined up early and 'cold'. As Steve filled his bottles - on-time - the pack rolled out, early. I didn't even know he wasn't there. He had to chase for a couple kilometers. Note to ride organizers: do not start events early, unless you are certain everybody is ready to go. In a word, this is unfair. Chasing sucks. Luckily, Steve got back on before too long, but he'd have been better of saving that energy for later.

Steve, in the pack and riding smart. He rode really well.

Misadventure struck Rodd about 3k in, on the highway right at the start when he dropped a bottle, his only bottle. It was promptly run over by another rider, and Rodd had to pull an emergency skid stop on the gravel shoulder. Apparently, this elicited a 'Hey man, its not the Tour de France,' from another rider. Hearing this later, we all found it hilarious, as a Tour rider would certainly not stop for a bottle. Pretty funny. What's he gonna do, ride 162 more kilometers sans bottle? Uh, no. Rodd told us how he found the bottle in one ditch and followed the water spray to the other ditch where his cap lay. He had to chase but the upside was that he picked up Steve (see above) and got back on without too much trouble, thankfully.

Jamie and Steve were hanging well in the pack, as were Jeff, Chris and Andy. At each subsequent checkpoint the guys had less and less time to stop. Steve and Jamie pretty much just arrived as the group rolled out. Some of the others were keen to keep the stops down to 60 seconds, shorter than the previous two years. This whittled the field down at each stop. I would have personally preferred to give the stragglers an extra minute or two to get going, but that wasn't happening. Steve and I planned a derailleur adjustment on his bike as we approached the lunch stop, knowing time was going to be very short. Instead of helping Steve, I helped Rodd with his well timed flat. We worked together to get it fixed, but the rest in the group rolled out while we were still finishing. We had an agreement that we'd help each other in the event of flats, so I wasn't going anywhere. Meanwhile, Steve was on his own with his derailleur but got it adjusted. Jamie was still not in, Chris and Jeff further back. Rodd and I rolled out with Steve and Andy in tow, but Rodd's wheel slipped due to my lack of proper tensioning on it (semi-horizontal drops). I waited, and we continued up the brute of the hill and onward in chase of the lead group. I pulled Rodd back, but Steve and Andy could not get on in time and Steve then fell victim to a minor issue and was left behind. We got on and recovered as much as we could.
Rodd's note, this getting back on business almost had me bleeding out of my eyes. Chasing to get back on was the hardest part of the whole ride.

Approaching the last checkoint...probably.

The last checkpoint was at about 135k in. It was quick, and we were off. More climbing. Rodd and I had been doing just fine on the climbs all day. We'd both spent time out front, sharing the work, and we were pretty worked by this point. The lead group now contained four OBC riders, a gentleman with a mirror on his bar, who was climbing everything in his big ring (!), Rodd and myself. As we pulled onto the highway for the last 22k or so of rolling open road the pace reached 40-45 on the flats. This was not new, we'd been riding at and above 40 on the flats all day. But it was windy here, and Rodd and I were both feeling the day. Rodd warned me that if he dropped off it was because he was cooked. When it came close to his turn to pull he said adieu and departed. I hung on. I pulled twice in the last 22k or so, for maybe 3-4 minutes each time. A couple of the OBC guys, Russ being one of them, did monster pulls. This is their style, they just pull for ever, and really hard. It was a weird sensation; not really pain or suffering, just hard. I had to dig deep to find the will to stay on the wheels and pull hard. The thought of giving up came into my head, but I was too close to let that happen. I was elated when I finally knew we were descending into Bancroft. It was over. I had done it. I wished Rodd was there with me, but I knew it wasn't his day. The five of us rolled into town together and signed in (the fourth OBC rider, Mark, had to stop for his camera, which had broken off its handlebar mount). The other guys looked kinda tired too, so I didn't feel bad!

Minutes later English Dave and the lone Euro-Sports rider, François, rolled in. Dave had an excellent ride, bettering his previous year's effort by a large margin. Then Rodd appeared nine minutes after we had arrived. We drank Cokes, like the PROs, the only difference being our were not followed by massage, of course. Steve and Andy rolled in before too long, then Chris, Jamie, Jeff and Jacques.

The aftermath. A canoe of Cokes goes a long way.

Yeah, now we're smiling, after a good 30 minutes of recovery. Rodd rocked the stubble in Beardo solidarity...I think.

Did Jamie hitch-hike? Why doe he look so fresh? Perhaps he practices his 'fresh' face in the mirror...

Have you ever seen what a shattered rider looks like? Yes you have, Jeff, right above this. Jeff was totally depleted and crushed. He bonked and suffered more than ever before. It was his longest and hardest ride ever. But he did it. He didn't give up. He was most valiant on the day. I fetched him a coke and a meat burger. Yep, that's right, the vegan served meat to his crushed buddy. It worked...

After a few Cokes, food, and the prospect of a pro massage looming, Jeff's outlook on life was much improved. He'll never be the same again.

Jacques, our gracious host, had a good day. He rode his pace and finished without demoralizing himself. He was looking fresh soon after Rodd served him up some Coke and food. Does wonders that.

All told, the '160k' route was 177k. That's fine, but some of the first timers would have liked to know in advance. It is demoralizing to surpass the 160 mark by 7 k, only to then see a 10k to end sign. This deflates people. I've been there. It sucks. I'm pretty sure the 80k route is 80k; I don't know how the 240; works out. I've yet to talk to a finisher. It takes a looooong time. The group I finished with ride the distance in 5:09. That's an average of 34.33kph with 2500m of climbing. The OBC big guns are responsible for that.

5 minutes from the homestead. Perfect temperature, and scenic. Dreamy.

After a dinner of epic proportions, we got a bonfire going and reclined. Starry night, no bugs. Outstanding.

If you fancy a century ride with lots of climbing to challenge you, great scenery, enthusiastic and kind volunteers, and great riders to meet, try the Hilly Hundred next September. Its only second to D2R2 for me thus far. The pace is higher because there is less climbing, so its actually harder to stay with the lead group. Next year Rodd and I will ride it as a team event with the rest of our crew and work together to cover the route as fast as we can. This will surely mean the heavy hitters will pull away, but we'll get to enjoy the scenery, conversation, and checkpoints. I'm looking forward to it already. If you are there you won't be able to miss us.

For QuinTuple riders patiently awaiting times and photo stuff, keep it up. I still don't have everything in and am busy with this whole ride/race every weekend this month thing, but I'll get it done asap.

Also a notice/reminder that the Halloween fixed gear frolic event is a go, as is the tag team cross challenge. We came up with the name for the latter on the weekend: Double-Cross. Yeah, I agree, its awesome.

Halloween Fixed Frolic: OCTOBER 25th
Double-Cross: NOVEMBER 22nd

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NCC Public Consultation - Sept 15

I just received the information below from the NCC regarding a public consultation workshop on recreation in the Gatineau Park. This is rather late notice, as registration is 'encouraged' by Thursday. I will go, and I encourage everyone else who wants a say in the future of the Park to do the same.

Public Workshop: Have your say about recreational activities in Gatineau Park!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

6:30 pm to 9 pm

Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau

397 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes

Gatineau, Quebec

As this consultation will take the form of a workshop, registration is encouraged.

Please register by September 10, 2009, by contacting Emily Keogh at 613-239-5315 or

The second and last phase of consultation will take place in spring 2010, and will focus on proposals regarding modifications to infrastructure and activities.

For more information:

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 QuinTuple Pave Classic: The Lowdown

I know, you want to see pictures. Here you go. More words below.

Registration. Almost left on time...

From straight road to cross bikes, lots of variety

Sitting around for an hour produced shivers. It was cold. Then it was warm. Embro for the day: Mad Alchemy Special Edition Coffee flavour. Warm enough in the morning, just a bit of burn in the afternoon. Nice.
Yes, some - meaning a lot - of the climbs were loose like this. All doable though. I like to run a 34or36x28 around here.

Giacomo. Kinda looks like the strada bianca, no?

Visually, this was the coolest part of the route for me. It was so cool to see the stream of riders coming down. Rodd rode the whole thing, I dismounted at the bottom...conservative, me...gasp. True.
Check out the guys' crossin it up/down. Tis the season...almost.

Yep, even the tire-nerd organizer flats. My Challenge Paris Roubaix succumbed to a sharp rock and was punctured to the tune of about 4 mm in the middle of the tread. Hole+Park tire boot (via Phat Moose) = good to go. I highly recommend these beauties. I recall using two or three on the Ride of the Dammed (in other people's tires, that is).

Andy. Pebbly.

I love these low angles; nice one Rodd. Thankfully, none of the climbs are silly steep when its loose like this.

Jeff and Jamie. Just pick a line and go with it. Like mountain biking.

And then we were there. We all seemed concerned about cramping whilst lounging here.

The BBQ was a hit. Thanks for coming everyone, it would have been lame without you! Next year we'll try to do it at Lac Leamy. This hinges on the kindness of volunteers.

So, as I wrote on Sunday night, the QuinTuple went down swimmingly. It was a beautiful day, many cheerful riders came out, we had a dynamic duo providing key voluntary support, and the route was a hit despite its looseness.

Here are some numbers:
  • 42 riders
  • 2 volunteers
  • 135k route + 8k neutral roll out ridden
  • 2 mass pee breaks
  • 1 box of bananas consumed
  • 7 flats and counting
  • two topples and counting
  • lots of burgers, beer, cookies and chips consumed, in no apparent order
Once we receive photos from teams (we only have two including mine in so far), we can figure out the finishing times. The Tall Tree A team finished a few minutes before the Euro-Sports crew and then the Wheelers. After that we were off to get the BBQ going. My team, composed of Neil, Rodd, Nathan, Stu and me (duh), leapfrogged a bit with the Euro-Sports, Wheelers and Tall Tree B and C for a while, as we all seemed to flat. This added a degree of excitement, posing the opportunity to chase. However, when the others got away I think they were a little tentative about the route, and did not necessarily take the opportunity to try to get away. Hopefully riders will get familiar enough with the route, and with the cue-sheets for next year and feel confident about the turns. In that case, if we are not at the front calling the turns they'll still have a chance to open up gaps. We found the 5-person format really fun and exciting. Feedback was positive all round on that count. We're looking forward to doing it again, with improvements, next year about the same time. We might have to work around the mountain bike WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS at Mont St. Anne though! Speaking of the Worlds, have you all heard that Steve Peat won the downhill? If you don't follow mtb stuff, this won't be meaningful to you. If you do, you'll know that he's been the 'bride's maid' numerous times before. According to Rob Warner - the most hilarious commentator in sport I am aware of - 'Everybody in the world wanted Steve to win.' Well, I can't speak for everyone in the world, but I sure did. He deserved it, and he got it, by 0.05". I have a feeling he had a hard time getting up Sunday morning. Also on the topic of the Worlds, check out the XC. The course is awesome...well, in my opinion anyway. Its is technical, and has rollers, drops and jumps! Sweet! Geoff Kabush had a great week, anchoring a 2nd spot for the team relay(!), followed by 5th in the elite men's race. He is a fantastic rider.

Ok, so Worlds aside aside, lets get back to the plot. We still need teams to submit their photos to the address so we can confirm times and get the photo evaluation rolling.

I've posted a smattering of photos Rodd captured here. The batch can be found here. I'll post the contest submissions for everyone's viewing pleasure once I have them all. If you'd like others to be able to find your photos easily, send me the link and I'll post it here. We all love the photos don't we.

The cyclocross schedule is now up, which allows us to go ahead and schedule the event I mentioned last night. Here is the scoop. The first will be a fixed gear frolic. We did one last fall and it was a big hit. It was a mellow ride out to Carp at a conversational pace. A diverse group came out, from young 'fixter' (the product of cross breeding a fixed gear with a hipster) Shane to Big Dummy on his singlespeed commuter (which we made an exception for, cause we are inclusive), to Alex on his brakeless speed machine. all had a great time, and we took in a lunch at a great restaurant in Dun Robin. This year's Frolic will be Halloween themed, and fall on OCTOBER 25th. This date corresponds to the Kingston cross race. Details will follow.

The other event in the pipe is 'cross themed, but, surprise-surprise, 'different'. Cross bikes will be the best bike for the route. The first section will be paved, the second section off-road, the third and final paved. The off-road bits, we'll call em 'sectors' cause that's so Roubaix, and I love Roubaix, are yet to be locked down. I have certain parts locked in, but other parts need to be in we have to test to see whether they will be too gnarly. We DON'T want people to be flatting (more than once each). Here is the coolest part: teams of two (2). Like the QuinTuple, it won't be a 'race,' but there will be some healthy competition. I'm excited about this one; I think its going to be awesome. Distance will be approx 100k-120k, and again, we'll have detailed route info in advance. The trails will all be in the Park, so they should be familiar to most. Date: NOVEMBER 22. This date corresponds to the Upper Canada Village 'cross race.

One more event(ish) notice. On October 18th, the Tall Tree team will be riding the Paris-Roubaix route AFTER the 'cross race in Almonte. Jamie and I did this last year (on a wheel borrowed from Glen Rendall; thank you Glen), and the route was absolutely stunningly beautiful in the fall colours. In addition, it hurt way less then in April. In a word, it was outstanding. This year, we'd love others to join us. If you think you'll be up for a quick, but not fast roll of the route apres throwing it (or yourself) down on the race course, make a note and bring extra clothes, food, wads, whatever you need. I'll post again on this as we get closer.

Ok, I'm cross-eyed. Forgive any typos, etc. I'll fix tomorrow. Off to sleep.