Monday, June 28, 2010

The Post-24Hr-Pre-Post

As some may know, pretty much the whole Tall Tree crew packed up for a weekend of 24-hour MTB racing this past weekend. Thom, Will, Brad and Rodd closed up shop Thursday night and said good-bye until Monday. By Friday evening we were all assembled at Albion Hills Conservation area, about an hour north of Toronto.

This post really is really the preamble to the real post for the race, which will include great photos taken by not-me. For the moment, I'll just provide a quick synopsis for those who are curious about how things went down.

Going into the race, we had four teams: 1 four-man, 1 5-person mixed (co-ed), and two 5 person 150+. Right off the bat, the Tall Tree Management team, originally consisting of 5 riders - Thom, Will, Brad, Martin, and Kent, was down to 3 when both Kent and Will had to pull out due to unforseen circumstances. Lily stepped up for her first bona-fide 24hr experience: up to 4. At this point, the team was planning to approach the race with a less than full on competitive attitude; they'd make the most of it anyway they could. Well, come Saturday morning, the game changed a bit more: David was violently ill. It was pretty obvious he was not going to be able to ride, so his team, the mixed folks - Anna, Tanya, Sylvain (Neil's buddy from work in for his first 24hr experience) and Glenn, pulled Thom into their ranks from the already depleted team of 4 to reconstitute their team of 5. Now that's the Tall Tree spirit in full effect! Meanwhile, the other two teams, the 5 - Pascal, Jeff, Jamie, Mike and Mark - and the 4 man - Rodd, Neil, Rob and moi (Matt), were still whole and ready to ride. And we did.

So, being the preamble, I'll provide the punch-line now...makes sense right? In short, overall, as a team, we were successful. Because of the Management team's generosity in giving up Thom to maintain a strong 5 person mixed team, they were victorious. First place went to Tall Tree Green Crush, with a 22 laps. Awesome. Our 4-man team was constituted by veterans to the whole 24hr thing, save Rob, who'd never done a single one, nor ridden at night before! Crazy, right? Well, it didn't matter, Rob showed up totally prepared, and was super solid. Each of us showed up well prepared it turned out, and we managed to pull off a victory in our first 4-man attempt, with a total of 26 laps, just about 20 minutes or so behind Ryan Atkins' team for most laps overall. Maybe next time! Special merit points go to Neil for doing double laps twice, and Rob for doing a seventh lap to try to close the gap on Ryan's team. Talk about sporting spirit! It was an absolute pleasure to race alongside Rodd, Neil and Rob, and to share the experience with the rest of the team. A victory for one group is a victory for the whole team.

Like I said, I'll post more with photos when I have them, but for now I'll add that we really noticed a lot of folks taking notice of the team this year, asking questions about the shop and the bikes. I got the sense that folks felt comfortable approaching us to talk, and this is very encouraging, as we aim to encourage this. We're ambassadors for Tall Tree, Steelwool, and cycling in general, so we're always happy to have people come over to talk about what we're all about. There was quite a lot of interest in Thom's Steelwool Rook he built for himself a little over a year ago, likely because he was blazing on it and it looks hot! The bike's passive suspension in the rear 'triangle' was likely the ideal set-up for Albion hills, combining traction, comfort and performance in one killer package. Steve, from Toronto, asked whether I'd get another Niner? 'Well, not if I can get Thom to build me a Rook,' I replied; I can't wait to get on one! Overall, out of 18 riders on Tall Tree teams this weekend, all but 4 were on 29ers. There is no 26" bike I'd ride over my 29er for this race, none. The big wheels are unequivocally faster there, especially when hitting 45-50k/hr. At the same time, I also prefer my 29er for racing at Camp Fortune, one of the gnarliest race courses in North America. If its good here on the rocky stuff with steeps and also killer in Southern Ontario, its pretty fair to say 29ers make darn good race machines. AND they rule for long rides with pavement! Nuff said.

C'mon back for photos and testimonials!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preston Street Criterium: Masters Report

It had been about 12 years since I last rode a criterium and I was both excited and nervous about participating in the Preston Street criterium. Excited because I have always enjoyed the speed and danger of crits and nervous because of the speed and danger of crits…

As my time on the bike in May was less than optimal, I decided to attend the NRC A Race on the Tuesday prior to the Preston criterium. I figured the high speed would be good training and I could also work on my cornering. I got “lost” trying to find Blair Road from the Rockcliffe Parkway in my ride to the event and as a result, I arrived about 2 minutes before the start having already spent 25 minutes riding at or above threshold just to get there. I wasn’t expecting the 90 riders that had showed up for the race and I ended up starting at the back of the group. The speed was high from the start (averaging 50 kph on the straights) and I spent the first 10 minutes sprinting out of corners and closing gaps as riders got shed out of the pack. Soon after, there was a single rider crash causing a large enough gap that I couldn’t close. I continued to ride hard with a few other Eurosport cyclists until we were lapped about 20 minutes into the event and subsequently pulled. Once I was comfortably watching from the sidelines, I realized that Neil was racing and he looked quite comfortable within the aggressive main group. I left the race with a few insights for the upcoming weekend: (1) I felt comfortable on my bike cornering at speed, (2) don’t ride crits from the back as sprinting 4 times each lap on the corners is extremely tiring, and (3) I hoped the Masters-only Preston race would be a little bit slower.

I arrived to Preston Street on Father’s day with my family and cheering section. I was happy to see David registering at the same time, knowing that I would have a teammate in the race. I proceeded to warm up with a few hard intervals to ready myself for the upcoming high intensity effort. Our race was delayed in starting and we weren’t even allowed a single warm up lap on course. About 50 Masters 2 and 3 riders lined up at the start and I grabbed a position in the second row. My game plan was to stay in the top ten for the first 10 minutes to avoid the chaos behind. (See lesson 2 above). While waiting for the pace car to start, the announcer listed off the top teams and riders. There was a large contingent from Eurosport and the West Quebec Wheelers, teams from the Cyclery and RWR, and a few racers from outside the Ottawa area. There was a shout-out to Tall Tree Cycles, “ a welcome and growing presence to the Ottawa road scene.”

The race started quickly and soon each corner and each lap blurred into the next. The course was not overly technical and each corner could be pedaled through with the right line. Riders seemed reasonably courteous of each other’s movements and it was easy to move up through the group, particularly on the backstretch. My positioning strategy was successful and I was able to maintain my position well with much less effort after each corner. I could see David was riding quite strongly and he spent the majority of the race riding near the front just ahead of me. About 15 minutes in and feeling comfortable, I decided to take a flyer to get some face time for my kids. It felt awesome to accelerate out of the group and dive into the next corner at top speed. I came through the start finish with a small lead on the trailing peloton, but I was already sucking wind and we were all back together by the start of the next lap.

Time went by quickly and soon we were at 5 laps to go. It was about this time that the rain started to fall. Quickly, it went from a light shower to a heavy deluge. With the water, the course became very slippery through the corners. The speed slowed substantially as caution seemed to prevail. Despite this, there was a small crash near the front with about 4 laps to go. I instinctively made it by the carnage, but was unclipped from my pedals and close to a standstill before beginning the chase to the leaders. By one lap to go, there were at least 6 riders who had a gap on the remaining peloton which I had re-entered. David was in the same group. I accelerated hard on the back straight even though the leaders ahead were not likely to be caught. Despite a fairly scary slip through the 3rd corner, I came out of the last corner leading the chase group and sprinted in for a 9th place finish. David was right behind me.

Overall, it was an immensely enjoyable experience and I’m considering more criteriums in the future. After the race, my wife told me that while I was off the front, the announcer remarked that I was riding a steel bike, “which you don’t see everyday!”

Monday, June 21, 2010

Preston Street Crit and where I have been

Well, for those who may or may not have been wondering, I've been really busy for the past month and a half racing my new Kona King Kahuna 29er. Started in early may at Baie St Paul (Canada cup #1). Was an awesome course, beautiful area. I ended up 39th/65. Mid pack but satisfied as the field was strong.
The next weekend was Tremblant (Canada cup #2), same old crazy course as every year but DRY! and FAST! Ended up 33rd/91. Huge field with all the usual top dogs. I was quite pleased with this result and felt really strong throughout.

On to Hardwood(Canada Cup #3) Never expect Hardwood to be very technical but they added in some good new features and alternate lines to benefit those with the skills(or the balls) to do them.I ended up 27th/67. This time the field included world cup rider Zandstra, he only bested me by 14 min. and I beat all my rivals by a pretty good margin--I'll take that and drive home with a smile(and eat Wendys without feeling guilty).

Yet another weekend on the road --this time north of Quebec city--Lac Beauport- beautiful place amazing course, until it started raining and my race turned into cyclocross which would have been ok if my mud packed tires weren't so damn heavy....-Despite it only being a Quebec cup--All the top Quebec guys showed up and dropped the hammer pretty good. I ended up 13th/34 I almost beat ex national Champ Eric Tourville but his skills and experience roll where I slide. Lesson learned (follow Eric rather than spazz out in front of him).

After one weekend in town, I decided to do the Preston Street Crit. So I went and did my first NRC crit on the Tuesday before as practice, felt good and familiar.
I didn't have many expectations--last year I finished 20th in a bunch sprint.
The race was delayed due to a terrible crash in the women's race by Allison Lampi who broke her pelvis.(Wish you a fast recovery Allison).
So we started at 4:10pm reduced to a 1hr + 5 LAPS.
There was no warm up -I didn't even do 1 full lap before they blew the gun and we were from the get go. I tried to spend as much time as I could near the front, but apparently I was on the front too much as Rodd kindly yelled good tips to me on corner 3 like GET OFF THE FRONT and RELAX..... and ITS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CLOSE THE GAP...advice taken for a couple laps but then things started to happen. I just thought hey I feel good so if something goes I'm going with it with everything I've got.
So it did go and I went with it we were 4 pretty strong guys co-operating fairly well. I even won 2 primes while in the break!
I gave it everything I had and more in that final sprint but was only enough for 5th...I'll take it.
Felt like a win for me!
Thanks to all who cheered me on.



Sunday, June 20, 2010

Could Ottawa get Copenhagenized?

Good article.

Anybody that attended the meeting last week have any interesting comments?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Big Changes to UCI Cyclocross rules

Todd sent me the link to cyclingnews' article on the UCI's changes to cyclocross rules, in effect 2010/11. 
Up until now, a common question that has come up in conversations about cyclocross bike technology has been about braking: why use rim brakes when disc brakes are widely available? People tend to have responded with reference to the UCI's rule against disc brakes for competition. The tide has now turned. It will be very interesting to see who adopts discs this season, and which, if any, of the major drivetrain component manufacturers release a brake for this application. Will we see a hydraulic integrated shifter.brake lever assembly? Or perhaps manufacturers will prefer to use cable operated systems? I can see companies creating components designed to be used for both cross and touring type applications. BTW, disc brakes will all but eliminate fork chatter.

The other major tech change pertains to tire size, down to 33mm from 35max. This is bad news in my opinion. As a rider who already feels like there are too few good options in the 35-38c range for offroad riding, I'm concerned manufacturers might discontinue producing tires above 33mm for cross. I hope this is an unfounded concern. If anything, it seems more and more people are getting into riding cross bikes on trails, monster cross style, so I hope manufacturers have their fingers on the pulse and keep the fat treads coming. I'm just glad I don't have a stack of 34c tubulars in the basement! 
What do you think about the changes? Would you be into running discs on a cross bike? Are 33c tires big enough around here?
Read the cyclingnews article below.
Other 'cross rules changed by Management Committee
The UCI will allow disc brakes on in cyclo-cross races effective at the beginning of the 2010-2011 'cross season. The organization's management committee approved the change upon the recommendation of its Cyclo-cross Commission.
At the same time, other changes to 'cross rules were approved. The maximum tire width has been reduced from 35mm to 33mm.
The six-obstacle limit on courses has been changed to refer to man-made obstacles. The plank-type obstacles can be up to 40cm tall instead of having to be 40cm tall, and they must be four to six meters apart.
Man-made sand pits are also now allowed and feeding will also be permitted if temperatures exceed 20 degrees Celsius; however, the feeding is limited to pits and can happen only after the first two laps but before the last two laps.
Similarly to mountain biking, commissaires may now invoke the "80 percent rule" and remove a rider who is behind the leader by 80 percent of the leader's lap time. Thus, riders can be pulled before they are lapped.
Follow Cyclingnews on Twitter for the very latest coverage of events taking place in the cycling world -

Update: Infrastructure Plans for Gatineau Park

I've just pulled out a couple noteworthy sections from the public consultation document the NCC has releared on changes/improvements to Gatineau Park entrances. See the whole document here. These are relevant to those who use/would like to use the Parkway. Also, a shuttle was proposed elsewhere in the doc from Ottawa/Gatineau to the Park, which would bring many benefits, from increased access for youth, for example, to reduced car use to access the park, and fewer parks within the Park. Those with a stake in downhill riding at Fortune would have cause to support a shuttle to help kids get up to the hill. All local shops involoved in the gravity end of the spectrum have cause to support such an initiative. Getting to the hill is a major limiting factor. Keep your eye out for info on consultation on the Transportation Plan here and on the NCC site. We should make sure we participate on this issue.

3.4 Vehicle Control

Public Feedback:
Re-designing the entrances to Gatineau Park should help to control the number of vehicles entering the Park. Other proposals include the imposition of fees, the introduction of a shuttle system from the Park’s main entrances and the evening and overnight closing of certain access points.

NCC Response: The primary goals of this project are to indicate to visitors that they are entering the Capital’s conservation park, clearly define its boundaries, indicate via brief messages our conservation and cohabitation objectives and inform visitors of occasional special events. Where applicable, vehicle access control will rely on the system of barriers located at the entrance of each parkway. Fees are not part of the current study. The Gatineau Park Green Transportation Plan will address the issue of evening and overnight
parkway closures.

3.6 Closure of a Section of Gamelin Street
Public Feedback:
 Close the section of Gamelin Street between des Fées Road and the Gatineau Parkway, as recommended in the Gatineau Park Master Plan. NCC Response: As indicated in the Gatineau Park Master Plan, the NCC intends to close the section between des Fées Road and the Gatineau Parkway to vehicle traffic after reviewing this option with the City of Gatineau. The Master Plan action plan recommends that this take place over the medium term in order to coincide with thedevelopment of the Gatineau Park Green Transportation Plan. This plan is currentlyb being developed and will be through to Spring 2011. This project’s various consultation stages will be posted on the NCC Web site.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A marathon of a day as a prelude to Paul’s !

Last Sunday was truly a marathon day as Disco Stu and I headed down to the Ganaraska forest for the first XC Marathon race of the season. This was to be my first time in Ganny and I was warned that the single-track, (how could there be such a thing as too much single-track?), would be unrelenting !

The day started in true Mike fashion as I awoke to the sound of the doorbell at 5:35....shit...turns out I set my alarm for 5 pm not am....typical for the few times a year I use an alarm clock. After about a 7 minutes turnaround we were on our way...till I realized 30 seconds later that I forgot my food and bottles in the fridge - I don’t think too well in the mornings. Finally we were on the road by 5:50 and facing a 3.5 hr drive which actually went pretty fast.

At the race site teammate Tanya was there with Joanne Thompson and Kiwi Lisa Morgan who had spent the night partying with CN workers at a local motel. Ottawan David Wright was there as well as our local boy speedster Ryan Atkins along with a few various elites and super fast old guys.

The race started out hard and fast on a wide trail where I managed to get into reasonable position prior to entering the single-track. Stu and I leap-frogged once or twice and he ended up just ahead of me in the first bit of single track when his chain slipped off on a short little climb, I skirted by as nimbly as I could through the thicker growth but got one pedal unclipped leaving me trying to one-leg it and got bumped by the next guy behind (a single speeder tying to keep his mo going). This pushed me off the bike and I had to run the last bit losing at least 3 places.

The first part of the race held a lot of pump track type of whoop-de-doos, and was fun. I was basically riding with a single-speeder and a guy in a yellow-jersey (mentioned in Stu’s report here) who was a 40+ and apparently a roadie. He was very strong in the open sections but left a bit to be desired in the single-track. Now I am not making that an assumption, after we had lost the SSer, another guy appeared in our mix, it was Terry Vanden Heuval who I did not know but as the three of us chatted in an open section easing up a bit he asked (noticing the TT jersey) if I knew Rob Parniak, and asked the other dude if he was a roadie. Me, and SS and yellow jersey guy had hammered past the first aid station in a furious attempt to bury each other. I had one bottle and a mini-camel-back which holds about 1 litre, and it was cool so figured I would be Ok til the second feed. We played cat and mice for a while but with the undulating terrain lost SS guy, then I dropped off on a longer road section feeling a bit spent, but eventually caught yellow-jersey joined by Terry VdH in the next single-track after which the three of us rode together for some time. About 1.5 hrs into the race I started feeling my body come around a bit as the initial pace was quite fast. As I had done very little in the previous week I felt I needed to do something before the race to shake up my stale fitness.....lets just say that running speedwork on Friday evening is not the best way to wake up the least not if you want to keep the legs fresh!! My engine was fine but the legs had nothing for anything resembling a hill.

So after having dropped Yellow-jersey my mission was to try and keep Terry in my was a tough mission, he lives ½ hr away so rides these trails like a god and has the fitness to back that up. Being one big loop there is basically no one passing and with all the twisty stuff you never really see anyone in front or behind. At the second feed I stopped to fill my bottle. I figured I was in 4th place 40+ (not sure why but I knew there was one guy well ahead, plus Terry, and I thought another that had passed me earlier). I was wrong tho - unbeknownst to me at the time I was actually in 3rd only 1 minute behind Terry.

The single-track really is relentless, it is hard to find a good place to feed and drink and even when things look like they straighten out for a bit and you think you can put the hammer down....all of a sudden screech....gotta slam on the brakes for a hidden corner. As I was getting tired and dopy there was a lot of either scrubbing too much or too little speed going into corners. At about the 3 hr mark my stomach started to feel a bit woozy and I had to try and manage my energy as well as the upset. I was looking back on every straightaway to see that I had no one in any kind of sight and hoped I could simply hold a steady pace and my position....if I was currently in 4th that would be the best I could do. I passed the third feed-zone at about 60 km on my odo and asked about the remaining distance as I had expected it much sooner, they yelled 15 km as I blew by.....WTF, it is supposed to be a 67 k race !?! I’ve had this experience before so thought ok maybe they just don’t know, but then shades of Intermontane 2009 crossed my mind when one day they were off by like 12-15 k on a 80-90 km day.....this does NOT impress anyone when the temps are running close to 40 degrees and racers rely on reasonably accurate distances between feeds and finish.

I figured even if it was 15, I should be ok with half a bottle and a few gulps left in the camel. At one point in some really back and forth single-track I even saw Terry, still about 1 minute ahead only. Having been regularly looking back and never seeing anyone I thought great...but the end needs to come sooner than later ! My stomach was not helping the situation tho and finally one guy caught and passed me, and he was a single speeder, so while I felt demoralized at least I had not lost a position. Those SSers are amazing - major props to them ! Then shortly after another guy came up and he unfortunately was a 40+, I was doing all my body would allow but it just was not enough. The odo kept ticking away, the sun started to heat things up and I just needed to be done. Finally some buildings came into sight, but with a cruel twist the race organizers sent us past the staging area and away from there to another gravel road, then down though a huge mud puddle and finally around the outskirts of the buildings and then into the finish. 74 km and 4:10 for a race that was supposed to be 67 km with an expected winning finish time of about 3:15 ! Well Ryan was about 3:45 so nuff said on that prognostication !

Turned out I finished 4th (not 5th as I suspected after getting passed in the last 10 km), still just one minute behind Terry. The guy that passed me put 2 minutes on me and 1 on Terry to take 2nd place - good job to him. Me - I was a bit disappointed to have lost a podium spot so close to the end and by such a narrow margin : - ( All in all, not bad, could have been better but as someone said, “You can’t complain about 4th”. At least this time I got to have a post-race burger : - )

Stu finished well, just 5 minutes back of me on his first mtn bike race of the year. Tanya had a rough day (her story here) but I bet she would have kicked my ass if I had subjected myself to the 7 consecutive days of punishment that she had just one week prior. Joanne and Lisa both got on the podium and Ryan...well he won the day of course.

The marathon day was not yet over...there still remained the long drive home, which seemed a lot longer than the way down. Perhaps the various stops for chip wagons, ice cream, pee breaks and Wendy’s contributed??

Next up - 24 hrs hammering on a team as opposed to the usual solo plodding along...should be an experience !

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Help save and protect SMH biodiversity and wilderness

These pictures are worth thousands of words.

This video tells the story of the South March Highlands in four minutes. It is the combined effort of Paul Renaud, Steve Hulaj and Gord Stephen, and is quite compelling.

The David Suzuki Foundation is supporting us! The Director of their Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program has written a letter to the Chair of the National Capital Commission, copied to Mayor Larry O'Brien. The letter makes an excellent case for why these lands should be protected.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Segregated Cycling Lanes Consultation Tonight

Just wanted to remind everyone that tonight is the last of the public consultations on the segregated bike lane pilot project. It's at city hall and runs from 5-7.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Off Road Cycling

So a few Green Bastards have been busy mountain biking the last few months and I figured it was time for a check in. Here goes: Tanya raced across Pennsylvania, Mike won a really long race and I went to a bunch of XC races around Ontario and Quebec with various combinations of Matt/Neil/Anna/Dave and of course Trish. We stepped on a few podiums and shared a lot of junk food and laughs. I'm sure the others can add some details from their own experiences. Here's my story.

I always consider the weeks from mid-April to the first of June to be my Season One each year. It's the first big block of racing. This year it kicked off a little earlier with my first trip to Battenkill. That was one of the most enjoyable races I've participated in so the next few weeks of familiar races maybe seemed a little too familiar. Still good times though.
The first two Ontario Cups, as I've already written, went pretty well -- 4th and 1st in the Old Man Expert race. I really don't set season goals but winning at least one of the O-Cups probably should be a goal. So there: objective met.
Up next was the Canada Cup at Mt. Tremblant. Last year I made the podium so I was hoping for a good result. The course at Tremblant is pretty nuts. Classic Quebec: big gravel climb followed by insane descent. That more or less sums up Camp Fortune but doesn't describe the full Tremblant experience as the course also has another significant climb at the midpoint, expertly crafted singletrack, bridges, ramps, cobblestones, cheering spectators... even a 6okph bike path descent. Excellent race course that challenges both rider and bike in every way imaginable... And I sucked there this year. 7th place wasn't what I hoped for. I felt sluggish and slow on the big opening climb and just never got going. Looking back I think that had a lot to do with "over preparing" the day before the race. The crazy technical nature of the course kind of freaked us out so Neil and I decided it would be a good idea to really familiarize ourselves with the course by doing 3 steady/hard laps the afternoon before the race. That pre-ride took 1700 calories according to Neil's on board diagnostics system. Pretty big effort. Combine that with a tonne of running around in the feed zone (which is half way up a mountain) before the race and I was spent on the start line. Oh well -- lesson learned.
A couple days later we were back at it at Camp Fortune for the first Sunset Series race. And the Green Tide made a strong showing. It was great to be leading the race with Matt and Neil on the first climbs. Lime green attack! Of course things broke up later on and we were all handily bested by an unassuming Vincent M. but whatever... we looked super cool for a while! Amazingly, the course was not only dry it was dusty! Camp Fortune in May? Seriously. On the downside, the race was run on more or less the same eroded course they've been using for the last 25 years or so and the results are completely messed. I'm grateful that we have a competitive local race series but this one needs an overhaul.
And a few days later it was off to Hardwood Hills for Canada Cup #3. Now this is how races are supposed to be: wicked course, lots of on site amenities, big turnout. All around great event. My race went better than Tremblant -- 3rd behind Eric Jobin and the mighty Jon Barnes. Jon suffered bad at Tremblant with flat tires and crashes so he was eager to crush us at Hardwood. Done. Eric is nearly his match so I realized by about the end of lap one that I was racing for 3rd. I managed that so I went home happy.

We're a proud bunch of nerds!

A week later and Trish and I made the journey to Midland Ontario for the last Spring O-Cup. I love the course in Midland. It's on a ski hill so it has a lot of steep climbing on technical singletrack, some tricky descents and good flow. I think it's the best of the series now that Elliot Lake is off the calendar. As well, Midland is a nice area to visit. In addition to racing Trish and I shopped at the local Giant Tiger, visited a marsh where we manhandled some turtles and also found an all-you-can-eat beef deal at a local diner. Nice.

This year the course was very greasy from overnight rains. Everything was rideable. But barely. The conditions rewarded those who could clear all the tech bits without resorting to cyclocross techniques. I hate cyclocross so I did everything I could to keep the big wheels rolling. Once our group was clear of traffic from other categories this was not a problem. Again, Barnes and Eric rode away and I battled for 3rd. Despite crashing and smashing my knee up I held onto the last podium spot. Eric finished about 30 seconds ahead in second and Barnes won a minute earlier. They're within reach - but not that day. I had a lousy 2nd lap pushing my bike around lapped traffic that really set me back physically and mentally. And that was that.

People are so used to seeing Jon Barnes up there that nobody even noticed when they replaced him with this floor pump.

See that shirt? It allows me to boast that I am: The Fastest Guy Between the Ages of 30 and 39 Who Does Not Race Elite and Showed Up and Did Well in the Most Ontario Cup XC Races So Far This Year.

The ride of the day belonged to Trish anyway -- 3rd place in the Elite Women's race! She was beaten only by superstars Emily Batty and Amanda Sin fresh off their Spring European campaigns. Trish is fit and can ride difficult singletrack better than most. She worked her way through the field all day and landed right on the podium. Awesome.

Hello ladies.

And that was a great way to end Season One. Three O-Cups, two Canada Cups, one Sunset Series race, Battenkill, a couple of road time trials, Ride of the Damned, Mufferaw Joe... I'm tired and need to recover and train. Season Two starts in July.

Despite seeming to have a melon for a head, Derek Zandstra, one of the fastest dudes in Canada, crushed the men's Elite field at Midland.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

HellClimb for Cancer: Pics Are Up

Pascal pulled the HellClimb's biggest load: two kids, without any pedal assist! Papa power!

I'm kinda busy packing to move on Wednesday and Thursday, so here's the link to Greg's photos from last week's HellClimb. Greg's camera was acting up, and I know he's not very happy with the shots....oh well. Thanks for coming out in the rain to shoot Greg, and for lending me your jacket for the descent. I definitely should have listened to my better half and brought one!

Photos, photos, photos. 

Check in to the same flickr page for Will's shots, soon to be up. He was shooting from his oh-so-sweet Steelwool Porteur he crafted in 2009, perhaps the ultimate bike for shooting from the hip? Lets hope Will does a feature on the Porteur soon, it certainly deserves the air-time. Hopefully it will be the first of many 650B Steelwools; I know I want one!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

HellClimb for Cancer: The Skinny

Here's Martin's words on the Wednesday night's HellClimb:

The HellClimb 2010 was an unqualified success.  A total of 26 riders participated - a high turnout, especially with the rainy conditions. The Super Modified class was won by Peter Mason and son in spectacular fashion; Peter was only five minutes behind the Mens’s Open class winner!   

The Women’s Open class was taken by Michelle Gauthier, who wasn’t even supposed to be there! Michelle had planned on doing a loop of the park, but was sucked into the HellClimb by our charismatic crew.  That, and there was no one else to ride with.  

The Men’s Open Class win went to Mike Abraham, who beat TodFairhead by three seconds, or about the same time it took Glenn Murray to break his chain off the start.  Glenn did repair his chain in time to compete in the most highly contested category, the Men’s Fixed class.  

A total of ten riders competed in the fixed class, on steeds of varying (and sometimes questionable) suitability.  This promised to be an exciting class and did not disappoint.  In the end, the Screamin’ Vegan, Matt Surch prevailed over Rodd “Hurricane” Heinoby a mere two seconds (and Rodd is still trying to figure out how he could have made up these two measly tics of the clock!). 

Other notable results include: Thom Johnson riding away with full style points—he looked good enough to make women swoon and men cry. Unfortunately yesterday was not 1980.  Erika Watson took first, second and third in the Women’s Fixed class—not bad for a first race.

Thanks to all who participated and donated. With the $530!! raised yesterday, I was able to beat my target of $2800.  Finally, big thanks to Greg Cosgrove for his fantastic poster, to Matt Surch for all his help with the organization, Craig Barlow for timing, to Peter Mason’s better half, Anita, for helping at the start, Kent for calculating the finishing times, and to all those who donated prizes: Will and Thom from Tall Tree, Kent and Dave from Phat Moose and Katy Chancey from Reform Body Clinic.  Donations can still be made at

Photos still to come.

Finishing Times:

          Women’s Open
1.       Michelle Gauthier                      13:23
2.       Anna O’Brien                            14:28
3.       Katy Chancey                            15:30

Women’s Fixed
1.       Erika Watson                             18:54

Super Modified

1.       Peter Mason                              17:21
2.       Brad Kukurudz                         18:09
3.       Pascal Marais                            21:16
4.       Anthony Bereznia                     No Time Recorded

Men’s Open

1.    Mike Abraham                           12:24
2.    Todd Fairhead                            12:27             
3.    Jaime Pold                                  12:41
4.    Paul Deswart                              13:05
5.    Thom Johnson                            13:48
6.    Thomas Murdoch                       13:59
7.    Phil Machon                               14:37
8.    Jim Larocque                              16:05
9.    MartiDeschamps                      16:45
10.  Martin Zollinger                          No Time Recorded (submit finishing time)

Men’s Fixed
1.       Matt Surch                                 11:49
2.       Rodd Heino                               11:51
3.       Steve Bosworth                         12:47
4.       Jeff Ryan                                   13:20
5.       Martin Kellen                            13:51
6.       Glen Murray                              14:26
7.       Mark Carver                              14:30
8.       Jon Hayden                               15:03
9.       Simon P.                                    16:30
10.  Will Ficner                                   N/A - Photographer