Thursday, October 28, 2010

Everything is Connected

Ottawa's Living Lightly Productions and Quiet Revolution Pictures are thrilled to announce the World Theatrical Premiere of Powerful: Energy for Everyone

A film by David Chernushenko

Can we make energy more democratic and democracy more energetic?

Tuesday, November 2 at 7pm

World Premiere Screening with "co-star" Olympic rower Adam Kreek and Q&A with producer-director David Chernushenko

The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa


Wednesday, November 3 at 7pm

Regular screening of Powerful: Energy for Everyone followed by discussion with producer-director David Chernushenko

The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa

Tickets available at the Mayfair on November 2 and 3:

Mayfair Theatre members $6.00; Non-members $10.00; Seniors $7.00; Children $5.00

Colorado Environmental Film Festival Nov 4-6, 2010 (Official Selection)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hammer or be Hammered

Last year's Anvil was awesome, so I can't wait for this double-race weekend to come. It looks like Masters start at 12:30, and ladies start at 1:45, so if we're bold, we can race in Kanata, then head over to the Equestrian Centre! Elites have plenty of time, racing at 3pm.

Here's the info I've borrowed from

Ride with Rendall will be putting on a weekend of cyclocross racing in Ottawa on November 13-14 (the weekend after the Canadian Nationals). It will be two separate days of racing. Here is the schedule:

Course open for training - 10:30 to 11:30

U13-U15 - 11:30 to 11:50

Course open for training - 11:50 to 12:25

Master A-B-C, U19 men - 12:30 to 1:15

Course open for training - 1:15 to 1:40

Women Open (Elite, Maters, U19) - 1:45 to 2:30

Course open for training - 2:30 to 2:55

Elite/U23 Men - 3:00 to 4:00

Each day with a separate prize purse. The prize lists for the Elite/ Espoir men and Women's fields are based on the number of entries in each race. To help build up the numbers in the women's field to reach the highest payout, we are having a women's open category (elite women, masters women, junior women are combined. Note; there will still be prizes for the first junior and master ride). For out of town riders coming out to Nationals that are interested in staying in Ottawa until the race , we will do our best to find host housing.

In addition to the elite races, the will be races and prizes for all categories.

Note: Please don't jeoprodize our use of the venue by training at the facility prior to the event. The equestrian park is not open for riding/training until race day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The (un)Predicted Pain and Pleasure of Perth

Short version: This was a great example of a CX race, wet, muddy, turny, painful, fun, frigid-fingered. The course was much funner that anticipated. Lots of green bastards gritting their teeth to take this one on. Visages of relief upon its conclusion......Good times !

Long Version: I was initially rather apprehensive about the venue, as I had visions of another Brockville or Kanata type course (except with even less hillage). The reality could not have been further from my prognostication. After last week’s semi-debacle on a course that I should own (or at least like to think so), mainly due to really crappy sleep Friday and Saturday ....and an early race wipeout....this w/e I was better rested, and even had my bike cleaned and ready to go by early Saturday afternoon (as opposed to the usual late night shenanigans).

Even with all that I was still in some state of disarray as I realized halfway to Perth that I forgot: a) helmet, b) warmup jacket, c) rain jacket for spectating after....did I mention”helmet”...doh ! I did however remember the all-important cowbell.

Luckily enough I was able to borrow a spare from Ian A.....tho Rob had kindly offered use of his in case. Warmed up in the plastic rain jacket, and luckily a second raincoat was unnecessary for spectating race 2.

As per usual I got to the start line about 5 seconds before the bell, and while I did get two laps of the rather short course in, there was no the start hurt...a lot...(but then it always does)!

The usual suspects were in the lead 10 or so riders and the pace was purple-line for most of the first lap. The course was a perfect mix of all things and not too much or one specific thing. There were straights that guys like me suffer on, but they were short enough that if I gave 105% I could hang on til the ensuring turn or barrier. The barriers were well-placed as was the sandpit in relation to the hill and it’s three climbs (one with the mandatory dismount). As per usual Gee and Olsen were long gone.....this time however the Jaybone powered up closer to them. Drew hammered the start but withered early. That left me, Bilenkey, Laird and all the tall RWR guys ( I can never tell between Peter Conn, Peter Schuck, and Greg Christie from behind) going back and forth like some perverse game of leapfrog.

I soon determined that my goal each lap was to get ahead of the RWR guys and Jim after the downhill hairpins, and before the tight treed hairpins....first lap I got behind them and was unable to ride my line. Of course one or two of them would pass by on the ensuring straights and I would have just enough to keep on the wheel before the next barriers. The far side of the course was a good place for me to gain a few meters in the wet turns there, but really had to hammer the prior straight just to sneak past them on a sweeping left beside (under) a spruce tree branch. The sand was killer and I felt like I was just about to blow 3-5 feet from the end each time, but managed to make it through, (though always with Dave zooming past me). Only one slide-out all race (which I attribute to really lowering tire pressure), funny it was not on the hairpin section but the right-hand down turn after the big hill run-up. This cost me a couple of spots at the time. My hill climbing still sucks and as a guy that used to fancy himself as a climber I’ve got to do something to get that form back....(I presume it may mean giving up late night ice cream and chips in addition to some strength training over winter). Final straightaway I got ahead of Jim and a tall Eurosport dude that seemed to come from nowhere. In the end both bested me by a wheel or so at the top of the climb. I was done, done done !

I’ve enjoyed spectating this year, especially getting to see the elite guys hammer, and seeing a young gun like Evan lay the boots to Osmond is (take your pick) amazing, inspiring, befuddling.

I could not believe how long the second race lasted - I’m sure easily one lap more than ours and watching some of the guys faces every time they came to the top - shaking their head in abject dismay that there was still X number of laps to go. Pascal was flying up the hill like spiderman, Matt was clearly suffering with a head full of snot, Jamie, Rob and Dave all together for the entire race was a treat to see...and I could tell that while the veneer of their faces proffered pain, that there were masochistic smiles underneath....especially Jamie - had a great race and every right to be happy with it. Rodd exuded tenacity, especially on the last lap - bud if you were 20 seconds slower your race would have ended one lap sooner!  Neil was looking great but must have had a wipeout at some point as he got behind the guys he was battling. Todd was hanging in there, learning more every race and looking like a very strong guy who just needs a bit more experience. And Marty, he started out at the back but slowly and surely picked off the weaker links, having missed the start does that to you!

There is no hiding with age in this community of bike racers - it matters not whether you are 20+, 30+, 40+ or even 50+.....the top racers are ALL fast !

All in all it sounded from the comments that people loved the course so I imagine we can expect this on the regular sked in upcoming years. I still would like to see Kingston come back as well tho, that was always my fave !

A’ la prochaine !

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Perth Cross: From the Earth

Following on the heels of a technical and very sticky race in Almonte (which I missed due to illness), Perth's debut held a great deal of promise as a fine mist of rain fell, or rather, emanated from, the clouds Sunday morning. I had it on good information, from Ian Austen, that the course would be technical with lots of turns. Combined with rain, this would make for a challenging course, likely to be lots of fun.

Upon arriving with Jamie and Todd, we could tell the course was indeed promising. We made a bee-line over to the sand pit, where riders in the early races were busy slogging away. After serving up a good dose of cowbell ringing, it was into the building on site to change and get sauced up. In the embrocation sense.

While the course was essentially flat aside from the pointy hill that was used very well, it was plenty entertaining. Virtually all the turns were greasy, and varied from tight to sweeping, the whole gamut. Barriers ranged from fast to awkward, and the uphill barrier could be hit at speed, followed by actual running up the hill. Nice. In total, I perceived the course as very well balanced, favouring riders with skill and power.

As it turned out, the strongest riders did indeed prevail, with Evan McNeely opening a massive gap on the rest of the field. I started fine, and was in a good group through the first lap, but soon was suffering due to my ailing lungs. They simply could not put up with the abuse. Adding injury to injury, my lower back manifested hideous pain each time I ran the barriers. Seems I managed to injure it while getting ready in the morning. Odd, but better today than a day I felt good otherwise. It was time to make a decision: slow down and fight another day, or keep keep the pressure on. In the heat of a race, it can be a challenge to evaluate one's motivations. My decision was easy, as I was clearly not up for it. My ego didn't have much charge pulling me to keep on slugging it out.

Slowing right down, most of the other Tall Tree riders streamed by, led by Rodd; Neil was already in front.  Soon, I was happy to see a train pass me by composed of Rob, Jamie and David. Excellent. At this point I'd toyed with the idea of bailing and cast it aside. No; better to continue at riding-not-racing pace and work on the technical aspects of the race than to 'save face'. So I tried to ride the sand out, around the corner, and out. I pulled it cleanly once, and came close another time. Why not provide a spectacle for the spectacle watchers? On the hill I took my chances on the turns and served up a good few full-on moto slides. I came to a stop on one, and went down on another, buy hey, it was fun, for me and the spectators, I'm sure.

Todd and I ended  up together for the last few laps, which was nice. He was strong on the day, but the SRAM Red cassette on Will's bike Todd is borrowing did not handle the mud well. It packed up and the chain skipped from three cogs down. This was frustrating for Todd, as he relies on the straights to make up ground. While Todd and I floundered, the trio ahead made steady progress and rode to strong finishes, as did Rodd a little further ahead. Meanwhile, Neil was further up in the top ten battling it out, and managed to get the best of his rival on the finishing climb. Pascal, despite not managing to catch Todd and me, had a great race, and was very happy with his bike handling; fun. Martin was a bit behind, after missing the start...doh, that stings. All in all, everyone was happy with their day, including me. Sure, I suffered a bit until I realized what I had to do, but I don't think I did any harm, and I managed to learn a thing or two and ride with Todd. Many a spectator rallied me on, which is always very much appreciated, especially when things are not going well.

Cross is the cycling discipline that probably humbles riders more than any other. There is no hiding, no free ride, no massive downhills to recover on, no excuses. The weather is often crap; that's what makes cross what it is: hard. Very strong riders routinely get schooled by people who can corner better. Riders with tonnes of skill but not much motor routinely feel like dying out on the course. But those with the humility to look bad AND come back for more benefit greatly. Phat Kent races his heart out every time, gets lapped, maybe twice, and comes back again. That's humility, passion, and courage. I will always have the utmost respect for those who display these virtues. Today was a test of humility for me. It doesn't feel good to ride considerably slower than normal in front of a bunch of people. But sucking is part of riding; it happens. Those with out of control egos won't last. Unlike road racing, cyclocross racers who have a crap day tend to keep racing, or at least riding. But even more awe inspiring is the humility many a rider exercises each time they race, slogging away and routinely being lapped. Sticking with it with nary a glimmer of glory exemplifies a true passion for cycling and competitive spirit.  These riders know what some of us often fail to recognize: the process is more important than the outcome.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gluing Tubulars for Cyclocross

I am a tubular neophyte. Last fall, I took the plunge into/back to old world technology when I built up a simple KinLin tubular rear wheel and enlisted Phat (Moose) Kent to glue the sucker on. He was keen. With a bit of 'tuning' the tire was on the rim solidly, and it hasn't moved since. Lots of glue was involved. I was sold on tubulars, as I felt the boost in comfort and traction immediately. 

Stretching the tubs on old rims
This year I geared up to glue up a new set of tires, first the front so I'd have a pair of tubs, then the rear once I receive my new Steelwool Truffle Pig, which, unlike my Secteur 18 road bike, will fit knobbies larger than 30c. I chose Challenge's Fangos in 32c for a couple reasons: 1) they'd be UCI legal, which would be important for the races in Toronto this season (UCI weekend and Nationals), and 2) the 34c version is a 34c casing with a 32c tread; I figured I'd have a less aggressive side knob angle on this size, so I might as well go with 32. Overall, the Fangos seem like they will corner a bit better than Grifos, while giving up a bit in terms of straight line traction. 

Research phase
Last winter I read everything I could about mounting tubulars for cross, including Cyclocross Magazine, and Lennard Zinn. Local honch, Greg Reain's how-to from his old blog resonated with me more than any other articles. Greg explains why he doesn't like the Belgian tape method. His rationale made sense to me, and still does, so I decided to forego that method. Main issue: and gap between tape and rim is a potential void in the basetape-rim interface. The tape seems useful for deep rims, but not so much for shallow ones like the KinLin. Check out Ali Goulet's video for some additional tips. In addition to saving the day by finding a 20 hole front hub for my 20h KinLin rim, Shawn Marshall provided lots of great advice on the process, including a recommendation for the urethane sealant below. Thanks Shawn!

I found that there was a tonne of good advice out there, but I didn't see any easy to follow breakdowns of the process. So I decided to write it out as clearly as possible and share it. The steps below mainly echo Greg's process, though I've added a few tips from other sources as well. While I am the furthest thing from a tubular gluing PRO, the people I've drawn from are, and everything I present here is consistent. I accept no liability for gluing related disasters.

Some seem pretty preoccupied with the finished product looking immaculate. While this is worth striving for, applying enough glue to the interface should be the priority; nobody will care how good their wheel looked after they've rolled the tire off the rim. Make sure you put enough glue on to secure your tire, don't skimp for the sake of it looking PRO.

Patience will serve you well in this process. "Days" are not necessarily 24hrs, you might be able to do two "days" steps in one actual day by working on the wheel in the morning and at the end of the day. 

Required stuff:
Wet stuff you'll need. MEC sells the sealant on the right.

  • Vittoria Mastik 1 glue, pot not tubes if possible (pretty 
  • much everybody on the interwebs uses Mastik)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • light sandpaper/emery cloth
  • broomstick/dowel/cricket mallet
  • latex/rubber gloves
  • shop apron
  • plastic baggies
  • 1" wide brush ('acid brushes' are popular, Lee Valley tools sells them for cheap)
  • electrical tape
  • sharp blade
  • warm dry place for drying
  • pump
  • citrus degreaser 
I got these brushes from Wallack's. Lee Valley sells acid brushes that look even better, and are cheaper
Remember to stir the glue before each application

Pre-Day 1
Stretch tires for 24 hours or more on clean rims at 60lbs

Day 1
1) sand rims and clean thoroughly with alcohol
2) tape rim sidewalls with electrical tape, slice off excess with blade - do not cover top edge
3) apply thin coat of glue to rim, including top of sidewall
4) apply thin coat to entire base tape (partially inflated) and massage in with baggied/gloved finger or use the brush - aim for saturated, not dripping

5) deflate tire and hang up in warm dry place

Apply electrical tape to sidewalls of rim and remove excess with a sharp blade. No cleaning required after gluing
Sand the rim to remove contaminants and follow up with alcohol
Apply first thin coat of glue

Saturate the basetape with glue. I tried the baggie on the finger maneuver, and it worked ok, but not great. I think a good brush will suffice to work the glue in. Go slow. Challenge tires will soak up a fair bit of glue

Day 2 (8 hours or more after Day1 steps)
1) apply thin coat to rim
2) inflate tire until base tape rolls out, apply heavy coating to partially inflated tire, as thick 
as you can without it running off - use brush, deflate and hang up (sorry I seem to have lost this photo...)

Day 3

apply thin coat ro rim
2) mount tire to clean rim and inflate to 40lbs or so to stretch for installation (I taped the rim with electrical tape to ensure no sticking, which worked)

Day 4
1) Apply medium thick coat to rim
2) Install tire - partially inflated first, then deflated for last section across from valve if necessary
3) check for alignment and adjust

4) inflate to 80lbs
5) check for trueness, deflate as necessary, wiggle and roll to centre
6) roll tire on broomstick floor to seat further with no air pressure

7) air up to 80lbs
8) check for consistent glue seal along edge of rim and fill where necessary

The rim just before applying the tire. Lots of glue, wet.
Day 5 (a good 24 hours later)
1) Deflate and try to roll off - not too hard, but to test seal on edges
2) find any gaps between base tape and edge of rim, fill with glue, re-inflate

Day 6
1) Recheck seal along edges, and repeat Day 5 steps if necessary

2) Apply sidewall sealant, thin coat, and let dry for 24hrs before using

The finished product, after adding glue to the seam and applying the urethane sealant. Looks good enough.

Lots of glue at the seam

You are done once there are no gaps between base tape and edge of rim. This is vital to keeping water out and the tire on the rim. You can go ahead and remove the tape now.

There is no need to trash brushes after use. I soaked these in citrus degreaser, then followed up with alcohol after rinsing. They came out well.

If you'd like to suggest any tweaks to the process, fire away. I've raced the Fango once now, and done a few training sessions on it with lots of off-cambers, and it has not budged one bit.  In the  event of any rolling, I'll report back here.It has been completely caked with mud, yet still looks great after scrubbing. The urethane coating is doing its job and holding up very well. I will likely reapply periodically.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Almonte Cyclocross #1: A Tyro Perspective

I just completed my first ever full cyclocross race and I thought I would share my experience. First off, I had an absolute blast. Second, it hurt. Hard. Third, I will definitely do it again.

My first taste of the sport was two weeks ago when paired with Matt in the Madison event. While we won that event (in no small part due to Matt's superb form), I wasn't expecting any miracles for my first full race. My goals were to finish, not wipe out any competitors due to my poor technique, and not get lapped (in that order). After a quick preview of the course, I realized that the Brittania Madison course was for novices as compared to this one. The Almonte course consisted of many more off-camber corners, 3 good climbs per lap, and a lot of very greasy mud. After crashing twice in warm-up at half speed, my goals began to look less attainable. (Plus it was very un-PRO to roll to the start already dressed in mud.)

At the start, I recounted recent advice: "Don't go out too hard," and "Pacing is key." I was left a bit confused as most writing on cyclocross suggests a hard start to get the hole-shot so as not to get held up in traffic. Luckily, I was surrounded by more experienced Tall-Tree-ers David, Jamie, Jim, Brad and Pascal. If I could stay with this group, I would be doing well. Before long, we were completing the opening laps on the shale running track. I slotted in behind David who was a little behind Jim and Jamie. I didn't think the pace was that difficult, but I was reminded of the advice above. In what would be a recurring theme, I became unhitched from David's wheel in the very muddy and rooted uphill section in the bushes.After becoming bogged down at the beginning corner, I ran the entire hill as I assumed this would be faster than trying to restart. While I didn't lose too much ground, the uphill sprint left me gasping for air at the top. Not good-- I would try a different strategy every lap. (I actually cleared the section once!) By midway through the first lap, things had shaken out quite a bit and there was minimal traffic. Following David's wheel was great. I appreciated his smoothness as I would have to rise out of the saddle after every corner to catch up. Slowly, we picked off a few riders that had started with a quicker pace. This included BMX Jim who seemed to be troubled by a rear flat tire. (Post-race report would reveal that this wasn't true-- it just felt heavy from mud!) I felt great as the third lap began and actually passed David and began to make up some ground on Jamie ahead. I was just about to catch him by the beginning of the fourth lap when I fell at the top of the course, just after the snow obstacle and muddy hairpin. I'm still not sure if I touched the brakes while cornering, or leaned too hard, but I ended up with a full-on mud treatment on my right leg that many women would pay good money for at the spa. As I struggled up and pointed my bike down the hill, I realized I had dropped the chain with the fall, so at the bottom I was off my bike again Andy Schleck-style. Once I got motoring, I saw Jamie and David cresting the next hill in the distance. They were certainly gone. I gave chase, but by the bell lap, it was clear that my energy was dwindling. I limped around the course for the last time and collapsed in a heap a few metres after the finish line.

In the end I was 10th in the Masters A category and 21st overall. Jamie finished 24 seconds and 2 places ahead of me and David was a further 14 seconds and a place ahead of him. Both had excellent last laps. At the finish, my three goals had been met: I finished, I didn't take anyone down (correct me if I'm wrong), and I didn't get lapped. (This last goal was probably fulfilled due to the absence of many of the top 'crossers as well as the longer laps in Almonte.)

As for the big picture, it was an excellent day. The weather was great and the course was certainly challenging for all. Tall Tree had some superb results. Neil was a close second in the Senior Mens category (second!) and Rob and Rodd were second and fourth respectively in the Masters A division. Trish (an honorary Tall Tree member?) had a very excellent race to win the Womens race (and beat most of the men too) while Anna took second place while remaining on the lead lap. Mike looked like he was working hard in achieving a fourth place in the Masters B race. Jim and Pascal both left it all on the course as well. (By the way, Pascal's blue Rover was certainly the nicest bike in all of Almonte today.) Hopefully another club member will share their experience as suffering and the human condition bring us all closer together. Or something like that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Roundup: Part 2: Double Cross

After last year's maiden Double Cross, I figured it might be nice to use a route this time around that was a little less rough, and spent a bit more time on trails. After doing numerous rides over the summer on my all road bike, with both slicks and knobbies, I arrived on a route that seemed about right, stemming from Pine road to Wakefield, around Lac Phillipe, and back again. I hoped flats would number fewer than before with less rock on the route and fewer leaves down. As it turned out, I wouldn't say that goal was realized. 

However, it was a great ride. About 30 riders assembled at the Gamelin gate to the the Gatineau Park, where I distributed mini cues sheets to riders and collected donations for Bicycles for Humanity. The majority forgot to bring cash to pitch in, but thanks to the generous donations made by the few, I took in $60 for the cause. Sure, that's not a princely sum, but every bit helps. For those who didn't have opportunity on Monday, you can donate here. Same applies for those who didn't have opportunity at the Fixed Gear Frolic, where we pulled in $30. 

As our last confirmed rider rolled into the parking lot, delayed with a flat, our merry but chilly cohort of riders rolled out of the parking lot. All except me that is, as I held back for Mike, who somehow understood we were meeting not departing at 9:30....right. You're on your own next time buddy.

2 degrees above zero proved chilly to stand around, but we rolled before it became a problem.
Poor resolution, sure, but you get the idea. This is the antithesis to the D2R2 cue sheet. Its nice to have a simple route every once in a while.
Approaching the first section of trail, highway 105 in the background

Pine road becomes the #50 and the dirt begins...but wait...

...the format dictated a neutral start of 20k, from the gate to the trailhead on Pine road. Tyler, in full trooper mode on antibiotics, had a tough time keeping touch with the pack on the road. While Rodd, Pascal and I dropped back to pull him, the rest kept the pace up, and didn't seem to notice we were missing when they arrived at the dirt.  I chased ahead to keep them from continuing on; chase two of the day.

Neutral starts require everyone to be together before its 'go time'. I'll make this more clear next time. The group pauses to regroup.

En route to Wakefield, on the 52, while traveling rapidly down a long straight with numerous water bars, I attempted a small manual through one of the bars. As I pulled up my front wheel struck an evil rock that punctured my tube instantly. After stopping to begin the repair, two others pulled up, having flatted on the very same rock. After finishing my repair, I realize my rear was also flat. And not only that, both rims were severely dented, and both tires cut! Wow, what carnage! Funny thing is, I double flatted on the same rock a couple months ago! Not to self... Later on I stopped along Lac Phillipe to add a boot to my rear tire to keep the tube from exploding. 
The guys didn't wait for me at Pipolinka, so I chased, and ate my food on the road in.

The group pauses along the lake.

Nice action shot of Rodd
Following Andrew, I note the rut...someone will fall...
Yep, Ariel's knee is still swollen; bummer.

Continuing on...

...and on...

Bit of a photo void from Phillipe to this point at O'Brien. Steve found a set of Richard Sachs glasses along the way; classic!

I'd say the ride was a success. Despite numerous flats and a few crashes, I think everyone involved had a good time. I formed a list of all the riders in attendance, but I think I'll forego putting it up here; you know who you are. I will, however, keep the list and input the data into my supercomputer for analysis. No teams came up with manes or names for themselves, so I don't have anything cool to share. However, honourable mention goes to Anthony Bereznai of Big Ring Racing fame, for riding the whole route on his non-all road Cervelo! I don't think Adthony flatted, testament to his smooth riding style. Nicely done! Tanya started a survey of carnage, to which you may wish to add. This data will also be uploaded into my supercomputer for analysis. 

  • Three crashes: Rouleur Dave, Tall Tree Ariel, and Cyclery Nick
  • Martin flatted 3 times
  • Tanya flatted twice, had her chain work it's way out of her rear derailleur, and something happened to her front derailleur so it don't work in the big ring no more
  • Matt trashed two Open Pro rims, two tires and two tubes
Despite all that, Pipolinka was a treat, as usual, as was the company pleasant and fun loving. Many of the riders opted to take the #36 to O'Brien for a bit of extended play on dirt. Though there were many unpredictable leafers out, this section was a very much enjoyed by all. Due to the timing of the ride, with family obligations for many, its not practicable to regroup at the end for drinks or a BBQ. That's the nature of the beast for this ride; better to do it anyhow. Thanks to all who came out to enjoy a great day on the bike, we hope to see you back!

Double Cross wraps up Tall Tree's 2010 events, but there is a lot more riding, or rather, racing to come. If folks are inclined to ride the Almonte Roubaix after the race on Sunday, bring what you need and gather up apres. I will be in Toronto, so I won't be leading the ride, but I encourage you to give it a go. Perhaps indicating interest in the comments would help pull something together.

See y'all next weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Roundup: Part 1: Brockville CX

CycloCross Brockville 2010 from Filip Funk on Vimeo.

It was a full weekend of cycling in Ottawa over the long weekend, with two great opportunities to put the cyclocross bike, or, in some cases, road bike, to use. First up was the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series visit to Brockville on Sunday, followed by Double Cross Monday. Each day provided its own unique set of challenges, trials, tribulations, and successes. Here's installment #1.
Brockville CX
A few things became evident upon pre-riding Sunday's course between races. First, it was clear that Bob and company did not have enough 'manpower' Sunday morning to create the number of turns they'd typically like to have. Consequently, long straights made up most of the course. I might be wrong in inferring that lack of boots on the ground was the root of this; if so, please correct me. I can honestly say that the course was one that all the riders I spoke to wanted to banish from their memories. I don't write this to be critical for the sake of being critical. Rather, I think that if in fact the course was as it was because there simply were not enough folks there to do more with the terrain, the solution is not to gripe, but to buck up and make sure enough folks get up extra early next year and pitch in to create a great course. I've already discussed this with others who have some pull in their clubs. If we want great courses, we, the riders, need to be part of building them.

Second observation from the pre-ride: the wind was sufficient to turn the race into a crit. Tactics would be key, and one would not want to ride alone.
Third observation: caliper brakes do indeed suck at handling grassy mud. On the climb to the finish line my rear wheel clogged up so bad I had to pull our handfulls of mud with my hand. I decided I'd have to run the climb in the race. Not optimal.

So how about a brief recount of the second race. The start went to plan, positioning myself in the top 15 or so within about 30 seconds, which is a good place to be, assuming no gaps form ahead. On the first set of barriers another rider strikes my bike as I suitcase it, and upon remounting I realize I am chainless, but not in a good way (as in, not like those days when you feel so good its as if you are riding 'chainless'). As I dismounted and replaced it onto the ring, the majority of the field passed. Meanwhile, the leaders rode away. So naturally, I took chase, and reeled in as many as I could, but there was only so much I could do. Negative thoughts settled in as I lamented my lack of tire clearance and wished it wasn't so windy. The tide turned as I got into a groove with Shawn Marshall, which soon turned into a rut as I spazzed out on a 180 degree turn at the far end of the course, again dropping my chain, and knocking both shifters in. Wow, sometimes it just pays to slow down and ride smoothly, doesn't it?

Shawn rode away and I wound up in a group of five good workers. We rode well together for a couple laps as I saw Shawn and Imad work together up ahead. Simon Smith passed perhaps mid way, and surged on, showing a lot of power. I failed to follow him and knew he'd likely take the win. After figuring out how to ride up the steep mud climb AND avoiding wheel lockup midway through the race, things started to come back together. However, I was not mentally prepared for the '3 laps to go' when I was banking on 2. C'est la vie, get on with it. On the final lap I found the will to surge and managed to gain three spots on the final turn and climb to the finish, which was the one effort of the day worth celebrating. Feeling quite foolish for failing to switch to my studded shoes, not bothering to apply embrocation to my legs and consequently pulling a quad muscle, and not working my embro into my lower back well enough to do anything (which played a role in the near-debilitating back pain that persisted the whole time), I didn't feel like I'd had a good day on the bike at all. Thankfully, despite things going poorly, I still managed to secure the 2nd position in the Masters A field, behind Simon Smith and ahead of Shawn Marshall, so its nice to know I'm still in the running for the overall points. It was also comforting to know that Neil placed 6th in the Elite field, showing very good form. Anna scored a 2nd spot in the ladies Elite field, despite feeling very much at odds with the course, while Mike Abraham placed 6th in Masters B and Jim McGuire and David Stachon rolled in together in 11th and 12th in the Masters A race. Great job on a painful course everyone, and congrats to all the winners!

This weekend I'll be racing at the big UCI circus in Toronto, so I'll be sure to practice what I've learned form my mistakes, and hope to do well amidst the very fast GTA Masters guys.

Part 2: Double Cross, to come.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Double Cross: Say What?

Ok, so its Wednesday night, my embrocation is no longer burning my legs post post cross practice in the park shower, so its time to provide some more detail about Monday's ride. This will be handy information for those who rode last year and those who will ride for the first time.

When is it again, where?
Thanksgiving Monday, 09:30, Gamelin Gate of the Gatineau Parkway. 09:30 is the departure time, so please arrive early enough to 'register' in advance of our departure.

So is it a race?
No, Double Cross is an un-race. Ok, so what the heck is that, you're asking? Think our Ride of the Damned 'gentleman's race' format (I know, I don't like the gendered thang either). Like the Ride of the Damned, Double Cross is all about creating the context where teams - in this case of 2 rather than 5 - can do whatever they feel works for them, be it ride full on, or more conversation pace. Its up to teams to decide what they want out of the ride. We provide the route and let everyone loose. There are no prizes for placing. Whoever finishes first will simply be finished, first.

Why teams of two?
Good question. Teams afford riders some security in the case of a mechanical, biological, or navigational. With this being an offroad ride on cross bikes, flats are a real threat. Teams of two means not too many folks are held up waiting for flat fixes, and its a lot easier to find one friend to team up with for a ride like this than more. It is fall after all, and a lot of riders have called the season a done deal. Ideally, you'll want to pair up with someone who you can ride your comfortable pace with. If your partner likes to bring along lots of spare tubes and tools, or say, cookies and whisky, that's good too.

Last year a bunch of us rode in a large group for a while. This time around, I think it will be best if teams decide from the start whether they will stick with others, and who. If teams decide to just ride their own pace, there will likely be some natural grouping along the way for various reasons. The issue with maintaining a large group is that everyone waits for every issue to be resolved, be it a flat or otherwise. So the whole ride takes a lot longer than necessary. If teams want to hang with other teams, I advise you to make your intentions very clear so everyone knows the plan.

If we have an odd number we'll form a team of three. Lets preserve the spirit of the ride.

How will the route unfold?
After riding the trails a bunch on my road bike over the summer (with both slicks and knobbies), I decided the route from 2009 could be improved. Yes, the route was well liked, but it was also fairly rough around Meech Lake. I don't want to see everybody flat, so I've come up with a solution.

We will all roll from the gate to Mine Road in a group, like a neutral start. We'll work our way over to Scott Road, then Highway 105, which we will follow until the split to River Road. At this point, we'll continue on the 105 to Pine Road, turn left onto it, and continue straight onto the trail (#50). From the point where we pass the parking lot on the left, its game on. This means duos are free to ride whatever pace they like. This may well lead to come friendly competition between teams, or not. It'll just depend on who's there and how they feel. We'll take the 50 to the 52, which will take us past Brown lake and into Wakefield (under the highway and spit us out past the Moulin). This section includes a great deal of fast downhill and is altogether quite awesome.

Once in Wakefield everybody is required to enjoy something from Pipolinka. We'll be spit out right at their door. Ideally, the first to arrive will take their time, hang out, and we'll all be ready to depart for the return leg around the same time. Think of Pipolinka as a lunch stop in a randonnee or century ride. No rush, enjoy it.

From Pipolinka we'll retrace our steps to the junction of the 52 and the 53. Rather than head uphill in the direction we came, we'll head right on the 53. After a while we'll bear left onto the 51, which will deliver us to P19 en route to Lac Phillipe. This was the first part of the dirt last year. Like last year, we'll skirt around Lac Phillipe, riding along the water for a bit, and then get back onto trail 50, which we will follow all the way back to Pine Road. From there, its just a matter of retracing the route back to town.

Now, there is an option for more dirt that can be exercised if desired. Rather than taking the 50 all the back to Pine road, teams can opt to head right, like last year, onto the 36. This section is rougher than everything else, so know that. It spits you out at O'Brien beach. Rather than having everyone take this route, which would simply be too much for many, I've factored it as optional. There might be faster teams and groups who'd like to meet up with slower ones at the end. This is totally doable by taking these two different last legs.

Please familiarize yourself with the map. We won't be providing any. Like a randonnee, some preparation is required on your part to know, as a team, where you are going. If you are not familiar with the trails in the park, this is a good opportunity to put your navigation skills to work. Its very hard to go wrong with this route, and there are maps around in the park to refer to. You can print the map above, or purchase one from any of the NCC information centres, or World of Maps on Richmond Road.

What happens at the end?
Nothing is prescribed here. Those who don't have commitments after the ride may want to catch a drink and food afterwards. This will likely largely depend on the weather. In the event of rain, most will likely want to get home and into warm clothes. Its probably best to play it by ear and make plans on the fly.

If you bring a camera along, be sure to send a link to your photos afterwards. We'll put those up on the aftermath post.

If tonnes of riders are planning to come, I might give Pipolinka a heads up. So, if you are planning to come, please post a comment or send an email to, providing the names of you and your partner. I plan on posting a list of finishers after all is said and done, so I suggest you all come up with a team name to submit. If we come up with a prize we can use the list for a raffle as well.

Please remember that this ride, while free, is also an opportunity to devote some dollars to a good cause, Bicycles for Humanity. At the gate, I will be taking down team members' names, and this will be your opportunity to make a donation. If you want to make a donation that is sizable enough to require a receipt, don't expect one, I won't have any. Bring bills if you can, they're lighter!

Please feel free to post questions in the comments, or email me:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Double Cross - Thanksgiving Monday!

Yet another outstanding poster by Tall Tree's downhill crusher and graphic design master, Greg Cosgrove

Check back later in the week for route details.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

And Then Some...: 2010 Cyclocross Madison and Fixed Gear Frolic

Anna about to execute a dynamic dismount after testing the limits of adhesion through the Tall Tree Chicane
Wow, what a Sunday! Just thought I'd write a 'few' words about today's proceedings and follow up asap with another couple posts on each of today's events with...more photos! We all like the photos, right? Right.

Today was, and continues to be, a long day for most of the Tall Tree contingent. Way back last winter during a meeting, we all agreed we needed to support Bob and company's efforts at the cyclocross races. Some of us had been at it full on for a while, others dabbling and getting more serious, and yet others ready to take on the discipline for the first time in 2010. All agreed that every team/club in town ought to pitch in in an organized manner to help Bob's crew set up the race courses. Everyone who has races good cross courses has likely noticed that cool turns require stakes and tape. Otherwise, riders end up cutting them. But stakes and tape take a lot of troops on the ground to set up. Wouldn't it make sense for each team/club to come out to help set up for a couple races over the season? Wouldn't we all benefit from the opportunity to create more complex sections, more challenging corners? Then there's the fact that we're all racing for a song in the first place. Yeah, getting involved was the way to go. 

So this morning we collected at Britannia at 7am. Sure, it was tough to get up at 5:45, but hey, don't Bob and company get up even earlier every Sunday each fall? Yep. And most of them don't even get to race!

The before and aftermath - post-set-up, pre-raee
Bob got us to work quickly; clear direction and the tools we needed were provided and we were off in teams of two, helping the handful of other volunteers already on hand. Mike and I were fortunate enough to be tasked with the creating of a chicane adjacent the course's first barrier run-up, which I derived a lot of enjoyment from. See, I have a thing for challenging corners that reward savvy riding. I love being challenged to try turns different ways and figure them out; and I figure most others do to...if they didn't they probably wouldn't be interested in cross! Mike and staked and taped up an off camber u-turn followed by a pinchy crook and a sweeper. I realized later on that setting the course was a lot like building dirt jumps, something I used to do for hours at a time years ago. Building dirt jumps always felt closer to play than work, and setting the course was the same. Good times. I think the rest of our crew had a great time too, even those with wet, cold feet. The stakes the OBC recently purchased for course marking are fantastic, safer than wood, as they pull out well when struck, and they are easy to install without tools. They are not cheap either (I saw a price tag for $3.89 or so) on one, that'll add up fast. If there is a need for more stakes down the road, perhaps each of our clubs could put some money together and purchase some? $10 per rider would go a long way. A thought. Let us know Bob.

The first race saw a number of riders enjoy the Tall Tree chicane, and we got some fantastic photos! Neil and Anna raced this race AND the second, as did Jay Heins and David Bilenky, to name those I noticed. Now that's spirit! Awesome. And speaking of awesome, there were some little rippers totally rocking on the course today, and having fun doing it. There's nothing I like to see more than a child enjoying cycling. Wonderful.
BMX Ripper!

One of the best through the chicane; fantastic!

Randonneurs rock out in cyclocross too; Vytas looking poised.
Neil got to ride the chicane...
Moto style worked, but outside-inside clipped in was the fastest line

Race two started great. I was paired up with Todd (Dr. Smooth) Fairhead, Tall Tree's 'most impressive' rider. Todd got back into the swing of competitive cycling this year after a hiatus that spanned some years. He used to race both road and track, but cyclocross was a complete unknown for Todd before today.  With Todd still waiting on his new Steelwool Truffle Pig, Will offered up his personal Steelwool Pure Laine cross bike, and Todd was in business. I had no expectations in terms of a team result, I simply wanted to try to do my best first lap possible, and I wanted Todd to have a good time. As it turned out, that's what happened.

Choosing to line up on the narrow path behind a few fast guys paid off. While others on the grass struggled to get traction, those of us on pavement pulled away right off the bat. By the approach to the chicane, I was third or fourth wheel, ready to take my inside line. But wait, what the....the course was changed! Doh, instead of sweeping up with momentum, we swung lower and had to climb up. I figure Bob was concerned about additional grass damage; good to know. I guess I was fazed a bit from the change, and proceeded to clip a stake, one I placed myself(!), on the exit of the sweeper turn. It jammed in my bike and derailed my chain, so I had to dismount and replace it. Doh, about 10 riders streamed by. But Rob was one of them, I could chase him! So it went, I caught Rob, we worked together, and came in together. Off went Todd.

Holy heck, Todd's in 4th! Whoa, I had no idea Todd would get the hang of cross so quickly? I remember being horrible in my first race, totally blowing up and getting lapped. He sure didn't! Away I went, with Rob rolling at the same time. So again we worked together, reeled in Glen Rendall, and advanced a bit. Each lap got a bit easier as I eased up a bit off the start and rode a good tempo through the course. It was nice to hammer the last straight, knowing I could stop right away! Todd churned out three consistent, fast laps, and I pulled four, with another funny crash on my last lap heading into the second uphill barrier. Mid turn I was thinking, "Man this is going great, I'm railing this better than all the other times!" then I slid out! Pretty funny. Maybe next time I'll rail it and stay up...only one way to find out: test the limits of adhesion!

So, thanks to Todd's incredible debut, we managed to pull off the win for the Green Bastards from Parts Unknown (Tall Tree) on our terrific steel(wool) bicycles! How bout that? Congrats Todd, you are indeed Tall Tree's most impressive rider! And thanks to Rodd for the loan of his Michelin Mud tire, once again. This tire is just so good (its the old green one, you know, the one everyone raves about that they discontinued). Turns out my valve stem on my rear tubular decided to break off as I was adding air, so I had to pilfer a core from my front wheel and was forced to use Rodd's wheel. Poor me... It was awesome, steel skewer and all (as in, the whole thing is steel).

Post race, we collected for our first team photo with almost everyone present - just short Thom and David (and Will, actually, as he was behind the camera). Then it was home or wherever for all who would regroup at the shop for 2pm for the Fixed Gear Frolic.

Le Frolic

Wow again, what a turnout this year! I counted 40 riders at the shop, including Brad with tandem and trailer in full effect. Sweet. Our route was designed to be scenic, mellow in grade, and easily tunable/bailable. It delivered. We managed to stay together pretty well, and enjoyed a nice coffee and snack at Bridgehead in New Edinburgh. As the day grew later we hemorrhaged riders and wound up cutting the route down about 50%, which was totally fine. A group of six of us returned to the shop at about 5:45, putting us back home right about on target, 6pm. Many commented on enjoying the route, so we'll be sure to stick with the concept next year. I suspect we'll run a route on the Quebec side next time though to spice it up and expose folks to some great sections of path over there. It'll be fun. Photos to come - post links if you don't send em to me.

Up Next: Double Cross

Don't forget about Thanksgiving Monday's Double Cross ride. Line up a partner and get your fattest knobbies on your cross bike. The route will be a bit different than last year; I'm aiming to add some dirt, while removing the roughest sections (they would still be an option though). Expect to see the awesome poster Greg has been working on any minute now. I'll provide details on the route later on this week. Remember, start is at the Gamelin gate at 09:30.