Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Le Tour De Panneur: The Preface

Sure, this title might not really work in French, but hey, poetic license. This past Sunday was slated as a BIG ride day for months. Waaaay back in the throes of winter I was looking over my backroads map book of the Outaouais when I noticed a park between Wakefield and Mont Tremblant I'd never heard of: Papineau-Labelle nature reserve. The reserve is absent from google maps, adding to its wilderness mystique. I figured we might as well schedule a point to point from Ottawa to Tremblant through the reserve, knocking off a new randonnee style ride through altogether new terrain.

Fast forward to last week. I'd put out reminders for a while, and secured a number of compatriots to share the ride with. All were prepared to head pretty much blind to Tremblant, trusting me to come up with a route we could survive. Unfortunately, the plan came apart at the seams when we failed to secure enough car rides back from Tremblant, as a return trip by bike didn't really seem like a good idea. Thus, the plan was revised: we'd do a route to and around Papineau-Labelle, taking in a bunch of new roads.

Zoom to Saturday morning, up early after having spent a couple hours pouring over maps of the reserve, plotting a potential route of 185k. Pascal indicated he'd like to go scope out the entrance, so off we went at 9:30 to drive to the park. A couple hours later, we'd had two conversations with the park official at the Val des Bois entrance, driven to  Lac Echo, and pretty thoroughly scoped the scenario. It didn't take long before we were talking about which tires we'd run - the biggest we could - as the dirt road were, in a word, raw. As Pascal so aptly put it, the roads were not so much 'road-plus' as 'mountain bike-minus." Due to the lack of potable water anywhere in the reserve, we'd have to park at Lac Echo, ride as long as our water would carry us, return, re-fuel, and ride more. This was definitely sounding like more of a mtb ride than an all-road one. Plus, the drive would be 1.5 hours each way. I think we both arrived at the same conclusion at almost the same moment: pull the chute. We agreed that time could be better spent riding, or, as it would turn out, Depanneuring!

Stay tuned for the rest, with photos and map!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Double Bill Part 2: Substance Projects MTB Marathon, Kingston

Photo courtesy of Disco Stu

As mentioned in Part 1 of the Double Bill post, Sunday the 18th was mtb race day in Kingston. Bright and early, David, Stu and I piled into Imad's Kunstadt van to make the 2 hour drive to Kingston. Plenty to discuss with the Tour ongoing and races past and future to discuss, we made it to Kingston with plenty of time to spare in advance of the 10am start. We were in fact near Kingston, at 'the Farm,' where the J&J 8-hour races are held. I'd never been there before, so I figured I'd be in for a few surprises.

The starting field wasn't exactly big, but it only takes one or two riders near you ability to push you hard. Starting on a dirt road, I took the lead off the gun and pulled for a kilometer or so into the first trail section, which took us through a corn field. The surface rode surprisingly well, and I was happy to continue to drive the pace to break up the group as soon as possible in order to have fewer to fight later on. We were in for 52k total.

Road tactics were in effect for the first kilometers, as it was clear nobody was interested in coming around and taking the wind. After a while, Conor O'Brien slipped ahead and did the pace making for a while. I encouraged him to keep it smooth and steady in the woods, which he did rather well. Out into the open, he had a harder time keeping the pressure on, so I pulled away again.

Things broke up before too long, and I found myself in the clear for a while. Conditions ranged from mowed grass to cornfield, gravel road, slow singletrack and quick singletrack. The slow singletrack featured lots of rocks, minefields at times, and odd limestone looking formations with big fissures between slabs. If not careful, one could drop a front wheel in and taco it. One rather sunny section run at slow speed featured a swarm of horse flies. They ended up doing a number on my flanks. Why do they like that region so much? I don't know, perhaps it was the new shorts with metallic green panels....Ouch, its really quite tough to kill those demons while navigating rocky terrain!

Soon enough Rob and Imad had worked their way close enough for me to see them on switchbacks. I didn't see much point in killing myself to stay away, so I eased up enough for us to join up and work together on the open sections of road and grass. Eventually Imad was unhitched on a rough section of cut grass through woods, so Rob took over the pace setting and I did my best to hold on. Progressing well into the halfway point of the course, a missed turn had me bunny hopping a barrier into a sand corral, which ended up rolling my front tire a bit. Rob and I opted to stop a minute or two later so I could add air. After confusion at the mid-way checkpoint with marshalls not knowing where we were supposed to go, Conor and Tim Carleton pulled up as we waited for the organizer to show up and tell us which way to go. We urged them to have Tim and Conor wait the commensurate amount of time, and off we went, a little perturbed. I soon realized I hadn't put enough air in my tire, and I was running the risk of a crash or puncture. This time it made sense for Rob to continue on while I stopped. Oh well, I guess I'll do my best to get back to him, I thought. After at least 20 minutes of solo riding I came around a corner to see Rob working on his tire. I asked if he wanted my to stop and he responded that leaving my pump would be fine. I pulled it off and got going, hoping he'd catch up before too long.

It was all solitary riding from there, a good 20k of riding. I had to stop once again to air a tire, this time my rear, due to what I later saw was a small puncture. My Stan's sealant worked well to seal it up, but the high pressure I put in to play it safe was sure was rough. I ended up rolling in 2:39 after departing, followed by Tim Carleton and Conor O'Brien. Imad rolled in for 5th with David, Stu and Rob trailing in succession. Tricia took the women's race to round out two wins for Ottawa. Results are here.

All told, we almost did two laps to get to 52k in the race. Our group agreed we'd have preferred to simply do laps of the best terrain, and the gravel road would be fair game, as we like to break up the singletrack with wide open fast sections. I personally wouldn't have been very keen on the course had I driven much more than two hours to get there. On the more positive side, the poolside BBQ afterwards was pretty good, though the veggie burgers were not vegan friendly. Note to organizers, get vegan veggie burgers.

Despite some pretty singletrack, the 29er was almost certainly the better format for the Kingston course. While some of the tight singletrack might have been a tad slower, the reduced rolling resistance on the open grass and gravel was definitely an asset. Until the rest of the competition are on 29ers I'll be using my perceived edge as a motivator to really push it on the open stuff. I suspect the road riding helps just a bit too. If only I can get my q-factor down closer to my road bike, then the Niner will feel really good. I suspect 2x10 Sram will be required for that, at least the XX cranks.

Next up on the MTB end of things for yours truly: another Sunset series race before the August 16th Canada Cup in Bromont. After that, I'll he heading down to the US with my family and rendezvous with Chris, Glenn, Steve, Pascal and Jamie for D2R2, one of the highlights of the season. Bromont should he a good technical course that will reward climbing ability, so I think I'll be in the mix. Hopefully Rob and I will both have a good day, and we can work together and get two Tall Tree riders on the podium. Time will tell.

C'mon back soon for my report on Sunday's all-road ride, dubbed the Tour de Panneur. I'm waiting on the GPS trace and photos, so I'll get it up asap.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Girl’s Racing Diaries

After a slow start to the mountain bike racing year (my excuse: studying towards a master’s degree) I’ve been training and racing in full swing for the past 6 weeks. This is the story of what I’ve been up to.

My first mountain bike race of the season was a Canada Cup at Hardwood Hills at the end of May where I got a severe kick in the butt. I was the last finisher (I’d like to think that the 5 DNFs had been lapped, but that’s wishful thinking) and I struggled to even cross the finish line, having blown apart after the first 2 of 4 laps. I had a decision to make: either I dropped down from Elite to Expert, or I whipped myself into shape. With a lighter school schedule in the summer months, I opted for the latter and decided to dedicate my free time to training. Then ensued 5 weeks of "intensity" coupled with long hours that included the Camp Fortune Sunset Series, OBC Time Trials, many loops of the park, long mountain bike rides chasing Neil, Rob and Tricia and the final culmunation of the 24hrs of Summer Solstice. I had successfully beaten myself into the ground; now, time to recover and hope that my training had paid off.

Test number one: Buckwallow Ocup. My strategy for racing Elite the past two seasons had been to start as fast as possible to stay with the pack and then hang on for as long as possible, hoping to not blow up before the finish. But, inevitably, I’d suffer on the last lap and end up crawling to the finish in pain. I needed a new strategy. With the help of Imad around the campfire at the HillBilly Campground on Hwy 11, I decided to approach this race with a well calculated mental plan (time to dust out the ol’ sports psychology tips that I’d learned from Nick Vipond and had implemented when I was winning Expert races). I was nervous about the race, especially since this was the same race course that I’d fallen on last year that was responsible for the back pain I’ve been feeling ever since. It didn’t help that I took a nasty tumble on the pre-ride that left me with chain ring marks all down the front of my legs…? (think: Neil catching the sight of me catapulting through the air out of his peripheral vision, dropping his bike to sprint back up the trail towards me). Here was the master plan: start off slow with the intent of finishing strong after 4 laps, ie. no limping to the line. After that, I broke up the course into three sections and labeled a keyword to each: 1. Fast double track: “Hammer” 2. Really rough climbing section: “Suffer” 3. Technical Singletrack: “Flow”. Amazing…the plan worked well! I started in 9th place out of 10 and slowly reeled in enough girls to finish 6th overall; I even had enough for a sprint (against no one) at the end.

Test number two: Quebec Cup Marathon. I am new to mountain bike marathon racing and this was to be my first try. I opted for the 50km distance since it was still 50% longer than my usual races but not so long that I’d have to pace myself to even finish (unlike the 80km option). I figured that I could do it in 3-3.5hrs and I was comfortable pushing myself for that long. The race was in the small town of East Hereford, nestled in the corner of the Eastern Townships and bordering on New Hampshire. It’s a beautiful area with lots of mountains and Christmas tree plantations. Being someone who likes to know where they’re going, I was a little troubled by the lack of race course maps and feed zone information on the morning of the race. On the start line, they were thoughtful enough to give us the vital info in quickly spoken french: two feedzones 17km apart, 4km gravel climb to start followed by fun singletrack (~7km), then lots of river crossings, the worst grassy climb you’ll ever do, the worst gravel climb you’ll ever do, and finally, 10km flat/downhill to the finish. Got it. Since everyone in the 50km started at the same time, and marathons tend to attract more of the “epic ride” crowd, I wanted to start near the front to get into a good group for the climb and good position into the singletrack. When the organizers insisted that the women line up at the back of the pack, I refused and stood my ground in the third row.

We were off and I was able to hang in to the top 20 without too much trouble. There weren’t any women in front of me, so I knew what placing I would be in if anyone passed me throughout the race. The first 4km climb was a good selection climb and I was having fun keeping up with the men. I spotted a large framed man near the top and powered up to his wheel for the windy descent. Next, onto to some doubletrack before the singletrack section and I …what? my back tire felt squishy…how did I get a flat on the relatively smooth terrain that I had just covered? Now, this was a big deal because in my six years of racing I have NEVER had a flat! Time to get the noggin’ working: check for obvious punctures/tears caused by sharp objects: negative. I’m running tubeless, so maybe there was a slow leak that might seal up with Stans Goo if I give it some air…ok, decision made: give it air and go.

By this time a whole slew of people have caught up and passed me so I hammered back on the course to catch them. Thirty seconds later I’m convinced that I’m flat again (the phantom flat tire syndrome) and I got off and started untaping my spare tube from my bar. I checked my tire again and realized that its holding air although a could hear a slow leak coming from …where? C’mon goo, I said, it’s your time to shine! Plus, I wanted to get to the singletrack before it got too congested, I could always fix my flat on the other side. Good thing there was another 5 min of doubletrack to pass back some of the guys that had a caught me (had a girl passed? I couldn’t be sure).

Once the singletrack hit there was a backlog of people walking up the first technical climb. I ran up beside them and jumped on at the top. I followed a string of people going at a moderate pace, which suited me fine since I was worried of ripping my deflating tire off the rim. After about 20min of this, I came to what I thought was the end of the singletrack, jumped off my bike, noticed that I had only lost a bit of air and decided to use up the rest of my CO2; I still had another to use whenever I wanted to put my spare tube in. However, this stop cost me a spot as a woman sped by. I chased her and phew, past her before long. To my surprise, I still had some fun technical bits ahead of me that I was able to speed through at my own pace. And this was all in the first 15km!

The rest of the race went very smoothly and I was happily surprised that my tire held air. The climbing was definitely in my favor and I eventually caught up to a guy that I had been riding with at the beginning. Up until the last 10km, I always had wheels to follow and people to chase; I really enjoyed that aspect since it rarely happens in my Elite races. The last 10km went by really fast since it was mostly zigzagging down through Christmas tree farms. I finished with a time of 2hr 57min, 27th overall out of 132 competitors and 7 min in front of the next woman. The best part was having my parents there at the finish line cheering me on. I had a great time, especially since I felt that I was really “racing” the entire time. The feeling makes you forget the pain you’re in and helps you focus on going as fast and having as much fun as you possibly can.

Test number 3 is coming up this weekend at a Quebec Cup in Val-Morin. I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

OBC Grand Prix good times !

This year marks my first return to the OBC Grand Prix (and in fact any similar type of road race) since 2007. That being that case, while I have been riding strongly in the A-loops this year, I came to the race with a little bit of nervous energy emanating.

It was great to have finally received the new kit just the night before, especially the bib shorts - very nice and comfy ! The weather was looking good, 600 or so racers, a bunch of green Tall Tree jerseys on their road bikes, and Greg generously getting up at ungodly weekend hours to help out with feeding.

Being an old man now I get to shut ‘er down after 4 laps and 84 k, it was enough for me, and it’s not like dudes such as David Gazi, John Gee, Rob Orange, Ron Amos, Chris Olsen are exactly over the hill....and those are just some of the local old speedsters...with almost 100 in the field there were bound to be some fasties from afar.

On the first climb up Fortune I was not expecting the narrowing of the road to one lane and with that got squeezed a little further back than had planned. The A-loop fortune climbs are FAST so I was a bit worried that I would be too far back and stuck in a pack of riders that would be slower climbing and hard to pass. As the road opened up to 2 lanes at P10 I worked my way up the pack. Apparently at some point on Fortune the aforementioned John and David took off on a the end of that lap they had 2 minutes on the pack...that is like 7 % faster...amazing !

I was keeping an eye on road racing veterans Rob and Ron, just to try and emulate and learn from their actions. They of course were only interested in controlling the pack as their team had John in the break. While the end resulting time for the pack was similar to previous years, the pace throughout most of the race seemed relatively docile. With this I tried to stick with the front 25-30% of the group as much as possible to avoid any sketchiness. Alas after coming through the S/F on the second or third time I heard a big crash at the back....and later witnessed photos. Was glad to have steered clear of that.

I was feeling good each time up Fortune as well as any of the other climbs where a bit of tempo was put on, and as a generally crappy descender, I was feeling reasonably confident in the descents....I guess doing the A-loops helps, as well as the fact that the pavement was dry !! On the third climb up Fortune I saw Dave popped near the top and expressed surprise as he has been riding very strongly this year. A few meters after the top there was Jamie, he gave me some words of encouragement and a little push on the back as I passed him with the front of the pack. Shortly after this point there was another break of 2 riders. One of the Lapdogs racers that was up near the front with me tried to get a chase going to jump in. I was contemplating it for a moment as I was feeling good and strong, but in the end I let my lack of experience and confidence win out and decided to play conservatively as I had no idea what the final 36 or so km’s would hold. I know...conservative does not win road races, you have to take risks, but as someone who does not really consider himself a road racer, my goal in this type of event is usually just to finish with the pack and not get I stuck with the goal.

As always - the high speed group descent down to the junction left the air thick with the smell of brake pads. On the first lap down I found myself boxed into the right-hand side and feared a bit of a jump on the small ensuing climb. I managed to get through the field and back up closer to the front where I wanted to be, but reminded myself to stick to the left on the subsequent approaches to this sharp left turn. On the second time down I was still in highest gear and there was a dude slowing way too much in front of me, so I had no opportunity to change gears or get around him as I was concentrating on slowing my machine enough to mach his unexpectedly extreme slowdown. This left me having to mash with the ensuing jump and took a bit out of my spindly little legs.....the next times I was sure to get into a lower gear earlier !!

On the last climb up Fortune the lead 50 year olds had started to catch us. Poor start timing, perhaps it was because our group start was at least 1 minute delayed for some reason. But it led to a lot of confusion as we ended up pulling a bunch of them along with us. Apparently there was no instruction at their start to not mingle in with other races...perhaps it was felt that there was no need due to the timing...however it lead to some consternation and frustration in our group. I’m not sure where the pack caught the second break, but we did. John and David however were never to be seen and finished at least 2 minutes up. There was some sketchy moves in our group a couple of times, one REALLY bad move just as we jumped back across P8 to head to the finish. Some dude swerved hard left putting a couple people onto the grass and almost taking out Ron Amos who I was just right and behind of. It was sheer stupidity !

Of course I have no power for the sprint and happily came in about 37th of the 95 starters. Number one and two were the break, there was about 50 in the pack, and the rest were back somewhere with a couple abandoning.

At the finish I chatted with friends and competitors, had some out-of-towners like the Lapdogs guy and others who were near the front congratulating me on a good race. It all felt good and I enjoyed the experience. Congrats to all the Tall Tree racers that came out in the various categories.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Double Bill: OBC Grand Prix & Substance MTB Marathon (Part1)

David Stachon, Tall Tree's best percussionist, is on a mission to Crank...the Shield. Falling in September, CTS will be David's first mtb stage race, and he's getting pretty serious about preparing for it. Thus, rather than being happy with merely doing the OBC's Grand Prix in Saturday, David was keen to do the Substance Projects Marathon mtb race in Kingston on Sunday. I'd planned on doing the Grand Prix all along, but Rob Parniak convinced me to give the Marathon a try instead. When David suggested I just do both, I figured, hey, why not. I was curious to see how I'd feel on Sunday, and figured it'd be fun.

Fast forward to Thursday night. All is in order for the weekend when illness strikes. Some sort of dreaded stomach bug had me droopy and feverish in the evening, and cursing my luck. To bed early, I nevertheless awoke Friday feeling horrible, and decided I'd better stay home and rest. By Friday night I was feeling improved, but not great. I threw all my natural remedies down the hatch and got to bed early again.

Up early on Saturday I felt pretty human, but definitely not 100%. However, I knew I certainly was in better shape than last year, when I attempted the GP while on antibiotices for strep throat. That didn't work out at all. Riding up to the Park I figured I'd be ok, just not great.

Just in time for the start, all our Tall Tree riders were in the peloton ready to go in the Masters 30-39 race: Jamie, David, Jim and myself. This was Jim's first GP, and he was excited to see how it would go. It went well, as Jim managed to hang with the lead group until the third climb up Fortune, a bit longer than Jamie and David had in them. The pace was steady, and attacks never serious. It was clear that the Cyclery guys were sending riders off the front to try to wear down those foolish enough to chase and soften them up for their sprinters, James Brooks and Bill Hurley. At least, that's what I figured, as I had no clue what sort of form Hurley and Brooks were in at the moment. I reeled in one of the attacks myself at no expense of energy, using Blacks downhill to bridge. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I can't really explain the logic now.

Heading up Fortune the final time, the pack was down to about 35 riders and still riding pretty steady. The pace was hard up the false flat, the worst climb of the loop, for me, and a few more riders were shed. Crossing the road to the North loop, the final stretch, the tactics began. I was second wheel heading into the feed zone, way over on the right side. I didn't want to be there, so I got over to the middle. I quickly found myself boxed in with no room to move. Now I got anxious. I imagined trains streaming by on either side with no chance to react. Sure, I knew I didn't have any jump in me, but I still wanted to be able to react. I think watching the PROs all the time wasn't really helping. At about 600m to go (maybe more...), I had an opening and made a split second decision: GO! Surprise attack - 'cause it was stupid - I cut to the left with the throttle wide open, out of the saddle. Sat down and crossed to the other side. Then again. Still had a gap. Cutting for the fourth time it was over, I'd been reeled in. I grabbed a wheel, but I was done, so I did all I could to limp in, wasted. I hoped only 15 or so had come around, but in reality it was 27. 28th place. I felt stupid, but at the same time, I knew I'll only learn from mistakes. Sticking with the lead group wasn't hard, so I'll build on it next year. The sprint was far more open than I expected, so I think I'll manage ok next time. More riders were shed than I'd expected, so it wasn't a real field sprint.

Jim and Jamie rolled in after a bit, but David opted to pull out earlier on, perhaps to save a bit for Sunday. Jeff and Glenn fared pretty well in the novice race, riding in with the second group, as did Mike in the Masters 40 race. All in all, it was nice to find that our climbing form was pretty good; we all have lots of room to improve. Going in I wasn't too keen about the race, but now I'm quite looking forward to taking another crack next year.

Photos here and here

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Round-up

Three race reports coming: OBC Grand Prix, Substance Projects Kingston MTB Marathon, Quebec Raid somewhere I can't remember. At least one Tall Tree victory out of the three. Come on back soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last Ditch Effort to Save the Beaver Pond, South March Highlands

Katy Chancey, massage therapist extraordinaire at RE:FORM, has submitted the message below in hope of reaching as many folks as possible to oppose the clear-cutting of the Beaver Pond in Kanata Lakes.


I'm not sure how many people ride at Kanata Lakes on a regular basis, or how many were planning to this upcoming weekend, but if you were going to go somewhere else, it might be time to reconsider those plans. This might be the last weekend to ride Kanata Lakes as you presently know it.

On Monday morning (July 19), developers Urbandale/Kanata Northlands (KNL) plan to fence in the Beaver Pond area of the South March Highlands (aka Kanata Lakes) and clear cut it to make room for a housing development. As I understand it, they don't technically have approval from the city yet - they have not completed their Site Plan, however, that does not seem to be stopping them.

So, what to do? Piss and moan, for sure. But do your whining in a useful way! Sign the petition here opposing (or at least delaying!) the clear-cutting. Then call or e-mail your City Councilor and tell them you oppose the development proceeding without proper approval. You can find out who your Councilor is here. If you write an e-mail, consider sending it to all the addresses here - the more politicians get letters, the better. Lastly, encourage all of your mtb (and non-mtb!) friends to sign the petition and write letters, too.

If nothing else, please consider signing the petition before Wednesday afternoon, when there is a City Council meeting where it will be presented. Signatures on the petition after the City Council meeting are still valuable, however, so if you are reading this and this you may be too late, please sign anyway!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot Hot Sunset Series #4

After missing #s 2 and 3 of the Sunset Series due to moving and preparing for the 24hr race at Albion Hills, I was ready to get back at it on Wednesday night and see how my form is doing. Right in the middle of a heat wave, I figured I'd better make sure I was careful with my food intake and topped up with electrolyes in preparation for the sweat-fest to come. Anna, Tanya, Neil, Rob and David were all on board, so we converged at the hill and made a distinct effort not to spend much time warming up. Just too hot to need to do much in advance of the start.

Some loath the heat, but I've learned to like it, or maybe more accurately, accept it. Rather than entertain negative thoughts about it I try to convince myself that accepting it will give me an advantage. I'm the same way with all difficult conditions, I try to make them work for me. Mud is hard to ride well in, and cold is often painful, but heat can really mess you up. So getting out there and acclimatizing helps a lot. The one thing that helped me the most for heat tolerance is hot yoga. When I started doing it years ago I almost exploded. Then I figured out how to moderate my effort and compensate for the heat, and also evaluated the sweat differently. Sweating was no longer a sign of being overworked. I now meant my body was cooling itself, simple as that. Or trying. After doing a bunch of hot yoga the heat of summer is far more tolerable than before.

The other thing I think helps for heat resistance is not having AC. I've never had it, and I likely never will. Yeah, its gross in the house at times, but the silver lining is that the body is accustomed to dealing with the heat, so its not such a shock going out for a ride or race.

So off we went, short course for the elite and masters men, 4 laps, and 3 laps for the ladies and sport men. Why 4 for us? Because those of us who voted for 4 are dumb. 3 would have been just fine.

I opted to take it easy on the start. Good call, I didn't red-line, so I was able to move up on the first climb.

What the...? Some things never change....
And the ladies. Did Tanya and Anna employ tactics?

The biggest field, Sport men.

Then the young guns.

Neil leading at this point, second lap.

Me tailing Neil at this point, going steady.

Steve Chapman on a singlespeed and eventual winner. I never realized until after the race that he was sans gears. Impressive.

I had to put this one in to show the elbows out posture. I was training for a DH race at Bromont one time and was actually heckled by riders on the chair for my elbows: "Go racer go." Whatever, elbows out means you can use your weight more effectively to maintain front traction. Plus its obviously super aero.

David, all smiles. he rode up, then kept on rolling back home afterwards. This is all preparation for Crank the Shield, all good. 

Tanya, smiling for the camera as always

Anna riding to first place in the ladies category.

Rob showing some of his english skills. Rob indicated that his head almost exploded, so he wound up a few minutes back.

So, in short Neil, Steve and myself took turns leading, with Steve pulling out front in the final lap and getting away from Neil as I maintained a 10 second gap. Being so hot, one had to be really careful about the hard efforts, so bridging up in the open was risky if not impossible. Imad came through fourth (3rd elite), then Rob (2nd master), and David (Oavio) rolled through in 5th (master). Anna was 1st elite, Tanya 1st master. A solid night for the green team. We'll surely be on the long course next time for a different brand of discomfort!

Thanks to Marc-Antoine for the photos, and sorry for the weird formatting...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quebec Cup Downhill

As most of you went off to do the 24 hours, I opted out at the last minute as I chose the mini version - the 2:40min route. (well almost) I was humming and hawing over racing the extended torture that is the 24, but as I spent almost all my time on the the downhill bike these past few months, I felt I would have more fun doing the downhill race instead. So I did.

The training I've been doing has mainly been hike a bike up fortune, waiting for the chairlift to open. I like hike and bike, yeh the fitness is nice, but it gives me the chance to read the course, look at new lines, and get my head focused on the new season. This year, though, I became quite sick for over 3 weeks, complete with some sort of ooze coming out of my eyes. It was horrible. This delayed my training quite a bit but in the end I managed to build up enough confidence to decide to race.

My race was on Sunday, but practice started the Wednesday before. I spent all night on the race course, constantly looking at new lines, sessioning sections over and over until I was happy with it. I took Friday off work and did the same. The course constantly changes with so many riders doing the same as me, new lines pop up, and old lines getting too rutted out to be smooth. I love this part of DH racing. Saturday was the same.

Race day started at 6am! In fact it was a double race day with Quebec Cup deciding to race twice in one day. Why 6am - every rider needs to put a manditory practice run on the the day. That run was between 7:30 and 9. I put mine in at around 8:30 as I opted to wait until the course was broken in a bit. NIce smooth practice run placed some confidence in me. I am ready.

My first race was around 10:55 so I went up to the start 15 mins early to warm up and get my head straight. At this point it is all mental. I get the call and I am up. 30 seconds - 15secs - 5secs - GO! I stayed nice and smooth and focused on breathing, something I have major issues with. Everything flowing. I have the course broken down mentally in three sections. First section done and clean. Second section is filled with big drops and stepdowns. Fun but can ruin a run pretty quick. I get through, nice and loose and perfectly clean. The last section is the rocky gnar. I get through perfectly, now is the time to drop the gears and pedal my ass off. I come through the finish in first! 2 Riders left. One is the Canadian National champion and his riding partner. Yeh they beat me but I keep on the podium for third!. Super happy with that. I couldn't have done more.

My second race was in the afternoon. I was pumped and ready. And more importantly, relaxed. I decided I would race beyond 100% and really push myself. I was called to the start, filled with confidence. GO! First section, smooth and way faster than my morning run. The second section was nice and smooth and a little faster too. I was definitely ahead of my morning time by a good 10 seconds easy. THe last section was the rough rock. I took an even better line through this time around and I had one little section left before the finish line. I didn't brake at all, just charged it. Before I new it, I was on the ground wrapped around a tree. I was fine, jumped up, picked my bike up, not knowing why I crashed, and started to pedal again. Thats when I realized why I crashed. Flat tire. That was it. My race was done. I was too far to ride the rest of the way on a flat - I would have destroyed my rim. Ah well these things happen. I would have been on the podium a second time. I would have also knocked off at least 10 seconds off my first time which is huge in DH. Overall, I felt it was a successful weekend. I am now preparing for the O-cup this weekend and am gunning for another podium. FIngers crossed. Don't forget to breathe!

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