Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tanya's Tansylvania Epic: Stage Two

Boom, Tanya's mug is on Cyclingnews.com!
 Here's Tanya's dispatch:

Day 2 in a word: Hard.

In more than one word....tough day climbing pointy rocked singletrack. The rocks were many, the lines were few. Everyone suffered and I was no exception. But it was the expected level of suffering and drama free so I consider it a good day. Reprieve from the rocks tomorrow with a long roadie day but no reprieve from the heat. Another hot one with temperatures in the high 30's with humidity.
Results and story here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tanya's Transylvania Epic: Stage One

 Tall Tree Cycles' enduro cross country diva, Tanya Hanham, kicked off Transylvania Epic on Sunday with the Prologue, finishing mid-pack amongst many a pro. Tanya sent a short update to the rest of the team, and is looking for ward to Stage 1 today:

"Excited for a long, hard day tomorrow, of rocks, climbing, singletrack and oh did I mention the rocks? No shortage of them."

Tanya has a couple stage races under her belt, boldly taking on events solo and reporting back with great stories and encouragement to give em a try. Its just a matter of time before she has some company; stage races are getting more and more appealing all the time. Here's a rundown of the race and Prologue from the event's site:

The Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic is a seven day mountain bike stage race scheduled for May 29-June 4, 2011, an annual fund raiser event for The Outdoor Experience Organization, a non-profit Pennsylvania organization whose mission is to build and create, improve upon, and document forest trails in the state of Pennsylvania for the use of foot traffic, bicycles, cross-country skiers, equestrians and other user groups in order to increase interest in sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable outdoor oriented activities; build outdoor recreation tourism in Pennsylvania; and contribute to improved community health and wellness by increasing availability of fitness-related outdoor recreational activities and enhancing outdoor recreational opportunities.

The second annual Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race kicked off Sunday with a 12.5-mile prologue in hot and humid conditions, a stark reminder that when a heat wave hits eastern Pennsylvania it’s serious business. Racers agreed that this year’s day one course was even better than last year, maximizing the use of serpentine singletrack found in the area. The major obstacle of the day was not the exposed, two-mile road climb off the start but the one-mile singletrack climb at about mile 5.5. The forest mostly protected it but it’s steepness and sweltering humidity took a tool that effected many racers for the last half of the stage.

Lots more info and stories here

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cycling Paradise !

If you ever get a chance to go to the island of Mallorca Spain for road cycling don’t pass it up. This is a cycling paradise with great roads, challenging mountains and spectacular vistas !
Friends were registered for an inaugural Half-Ironman in Mallorca so a few others took the opportunity to tag along for the ride…literally. While the beach was mostly obstructed with fat pasty Brits and Germans, the road held boundless possibilities.

While others were getting prepped I rode most of the 90 k racecourse which included a steady climb on so-so (by Spanish standards) pavement but followed by a spectacularly paved and stunningly scenic series of switchbacks back down through a valley and the plains back toward the ocean. After the race a couple of us rode to the farthest northeast point of the island – cap Formentor, more fantastic riding. The following day was a similar, shorter but steeper coastal “recovery ride”….not what I would call recovery for my previously abused racer friends !
The weather was pleasant sunny and warm but not hot for 9 days straight with only one day of a few spits of rain. The house rental was inexpensive and backed onto the beach.

Ensuing days took us to a flatter beautiful rural section followed by the racecourse backwards. Then a 150 km epic ride with three killer climbs including the col de soller which was preceded by a massive 15 k or so furious downhill on pristine road after passing through a chilly mountain tunnel, then the more rugged climb to the Orient – a beautiful medieval tiny mountaintop town surrounded by majestic peaks and valleys. Then there was a trip to the northwest side of the island where the perfect road led from one quaint village to another – all with spectacular views of the ocean. This day was shortened significantly by a 2 hr full European banquet lunch….very hard to climb the two big hills back to our start point with belly stuffed to 2x capacity !

The slightly cooler subsequent day provided the full group the opportunity to ride to the Formentor…needless to say the unprotected drop-offs and winding roads left some with their Ottawa Valley hearts in their throats. The last day before flying home held a lovely flat rural spin of 65 k to get the legs ready for the impending travel flight carnage. But not before completing the 125 km route to the infamous Sa Callobra switchbacks the day prior. The pictures will never do this road justice. Once at the top of the col, a view essentially straight down of myriad never-ending switchbacks presents itself….one after another all the way down to the ocean tourist village. SPECTACULAR is all I can say – one of the best rides I could ever imagine ! After lunch we held a bit of a hill climb competition for the 10 km climb of 9-16% grades….daunting but oh so satisfying after the sub 41 minute escapade. From there a mostly downhill and sunny ride back through mountain passes and vistas to the valley and seashore for one last time.

To conclude – a visit to Mallorca is a must for any cyclist who appreciates the pure pleasure of the road, and the zen of being lost in a magical mountain paradise. All while shared with European drivers who respect riders, great food, favorable weather and Mediterranean charms.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Inspiration does indeed come in many forms. Take the video above. The concept is simple, but, as is so often the case, the message is powerful: ride a bike and transform your experience of the world around you. See things differently, or perhaps, simply see.

As a parent, I derive a lot of inspiration from kids these days. Last night's kick-off of the Sunset Series cross country race at Camp Fortune marked yet another instance when I have been amazed by the confidence, skill, and enthusiasm of kids out on the race course. At registration, BMX Jim sat alongside his family, while his wife commented on how surprised she was by the number of kids at the hill. 'Yep,' I replied, 'this series really is all about the kids.' And it is. Namely francophone kids from a couple clubs in the region. I think there were as many kids out to race as adults. Out on the course, the kids track branched into the big track near the end of the lap. Two peewees rode in front of me through a short section of singletrack only slightly slower than I normally ride. Amazing! And, they were not phased my my presence, just cool and collected. Incredible! I was simply awed by their poise and skill, and these kids were just about 12-13 years old, riding on some tricky terrain. Inspiring. Later I passed others, both boys and girls, evidently putting the hurt on themselves as they attacked the course. I could see the fire in their eyes, and it was simply awesome. These kids are the future of the sport, and the future looks bright.

I see the Sunset Series as a development program for the kids, so I encourage all of you reading with any inclination to race to get out there and support the series. Even if you can only make a couple races, signing up for the whole series will surely help sustain it. Who knows, perhaps with a little luck we can bring back the party atmosphere the series enjoyed through the late nineties, when folks showed up to race on hardcore hardtails and overweight freeride bikes. Anything can happen, this is a world of possibility.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Canada Cup #1: Mont Tremblant

This past weekend, Rob, David, Tanya and I hit up Mont Tremblant for Canada Cup #1. Us dudes had raced there before, but this would be Tanya’s first visit. I secretly wished at least one of us would reach the podium.

Mont Tremblant is not for the faint of heart. It’s a place of learning, and sometimes, perhaps often, when it comes to cross country mountain bike racing, the learning is coupled with pain and suffering. So it went on Saturday.

Same course as previous years, with minor tweaks at the bottom of the extended downhill portion, I was not apprehensive about the course. I’d arrived the previous year and raced without a practice lap and fared very well. The question was one of tactics and fitness; would I hold up with only 1.5 hours on the mtb this season? The answer was not what I was hoping for.

At go I found myself flailing and wound up with both feet flat on the ground. Once rolling I made mistake #2, and opened the throttle wide, fighting my way through the pack and to the front. A rider dangle off the front, and I reeled him in, passing, and heading into the woods in first. Rather than adjust my original tactic I’d set out – lead into the woods, then control the pace – I’d forced the issue by chasing, putting in more effort than everyone else to get there. The previous winner passed in the woods and I held on. I had the presence of mind to know I’d have to recover for a bit. This was proceeding ok until I felt my rear tire losing air. I dismounted, heard the hissss, added CO2 as the chase pack of 7 or so streamed by, then got going again. Rob was now ahead, and looking comfortable. Chasing again, I soon realized my lack of mtb time was catching up to me, as was my profound lack of upper body strength. Road riding just isn’t sufficient to prepare one for the onslaught Tremblant delivers. You’re either putting out power to climb, going over or around roots and rocks, navigating bridges, or hanging on through mine fields; there is no respite until you reach the bike path for a shallow descent, then climb through the village.

With the temperature sitting around 24 celcius, humidity around 60%, and too much effort expended early, I was in a sad state of affairs heading into lap two. With original designs on a podium spot, I felt I’d failed, and ought to pack it in. Whenever this happens I think of my friends and family on the sidelines cheering me on, and how I’d feel like I let them down if I quit. So I don’t, and I didn’t. Just ride, and try to improve wherever you can, I thought to myself.

There was little improvement in the woods. Many feet down, near crashes, flailing; gong show. I knew this came down to rustiness, so I didn’t hate myself for it. I just tried to survive. A crash on a mud and rock turn in the open landed my hard on my hip, but with the adrenaline flowing, I didn’t feel it (sure do now thought!). Heading into lap three, Imad reminded me that I was just warmed up, and this gave me a surge of confidence and energy, knowing some of the riders ahead would be fading. I clawed my way up to Rob, only to fall off in the woods. The rest of the time I chased him and a couple others behind him, but didn’t really make up ground. Rolling in a minute back from Rob, I was glad to have made it unmangled, as was he. We collapsed against a shady rock wall and traded war stories about our last hour and a half. Meanwhile, Jon Barnes was enjoying a well deserved victory, proving he is one hell of a rider, once again. Respect Jon, well done!

In the end Rob narrowly missed the podium finishing 4th, with me back in 7th. Tanya rolled in from the expert women’s race in 4th spot, an outstanding result for her first Tremblant experience, and David rilled in 11th in the masters 40-49 race. I’ve not heard what went down in that race yet, as Dave and I barely saw each other afterwards.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ride of the Damned Prize Winners!

Well folks, with the help of a random munber generator, I've drawn names for the prizes. A big thanks goes out to Norco and Specialized for supporting the Ride of the Damned and generously providing a slew of prizes. The rest come courtesy of Tall Tree Cycles and Steelwool Bicycle Co. Woohoooo!

Here we go, wait until you get to the bottom to find out who won the GRAND PRIZES:

Axiom Corker Multi Tool 40 Nick Vipond
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 6 Pascal Marais
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 10 Jamie Pold
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 43 Rob Kerr
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 13 Peter Schuck
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 55 Katy Chancey
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 3 Rock Clancy
Axiom Corker Multi Tool 50 Dave Rudnick
Specialized Format SL seat 31 John Hayden
Specialzed Pro Forte SS jersey (lrg) 42 Jay Heins
Steelwool Gold single speed hub-set 9 Todd Fairhead
Specialized Atlas T shirt (med) 4 James Cowan
Specialized Graphic Jersey (med) 20 Dave Hendrycks
Specialized Sonoma Gel saddle 27 Steve Morris
Specialized Pro gloves (black/gold med) 57 Jeff Ryan
Specialized Mondo Pro tire 700x23 (black/blue) 23 Ingrid Coney
Specialized Sport wmn's gloves (med) 7 Rodd Heino
Specialized Comp wmn's gloves (med) 24 Paul Young
Specialized Ridge gloves (med) 54 Mr. Pold
Specialized XC lite gloves (med) 19 Mike Steneker
Specialized Performance Carbon jersey (lrg) 44 Cuylar Conly Swobo
Ladies Merino Jersey Green (sml) 1 Mark MacNab
Tall Tree T shirt blue (medium) 31 Kris Westwood
Tall Tree T shirt ladies white (medium) 49 Jason Abbot
Tall Tree T shirt blue (small) 29 Dale Danner
Tall Tree Arm Warmers 36 Chris Simmons
Tall Tree Arm Warmers 19 Scott Forsyth

Velocity Deep V purple and pink plaid rims (pair) 35 Andy Brown
Chrome Metroplis Messanger Bag (Orange silver) 47 Michael Dekelver
$500 towards a custom Steelwool Frame/Bike 41 Vince Caceres

Get the word out to your team-mates. All prizes can be picked up at Tall Tree Cycles, 255 Richmond Road. No substitutions, sorry. We'll re-raffle any prizes that are not picked up by close of business (4pm) Sunday, unless alternative arrangements are made.

Congratulations everyone, and thanks for making the ride AWESOME!

Ride of the Damned: Mini Wrap-up

Photos are up! Click HERE.

Sunday's Ride of the Damned was a big success, thanks to the scores of riders and volunteers who came out despite cool temperatures and rain. Those who persevered were rewarded as we cleared the rain clouds and rode on into the sun. The dirt roads were nearly as good as they get, and the kilometers turned over with the welcome distraction of beautiful scenery at every turn. May is indeed a wonderful time to ride in the country! From all indications, everyone had a swell time, and when the swelling goes down, I think many will start thinking about RotD 2012! Hope so.

Lots of photos and video to come on the blog, along with finishing times. Because raffle tickets were not handed out to a few of the first teams to finish, we decided to hand out the rest, and draw numbers for prizes once everyone had a number. Edit: In order not to miss anyone, I've decided we'll draw from all the names of riders who attended yesterday's ride, along with the volunteers. This way nobody will miss out because they didn't wind up with a ticket. We'll draw on Tuesday, and post up the winners in the afternoon.

Special thanks go out to Kris Westwood for putting in the effort to get material for a little news piece on the ride today, can't wait to see it.

Well wishes do out to Deb Hine, who had to spend the day in bed with a detached retina today instead of joining us on the road. Get well soon Deb!


Please email me with any corrections. Times for teams are only ranked if the team completes the whole route with the same riders that started. If riders are separated, the last rider's time is the team's finishing time. I need a time for the last two Fresh Air/OBC riders.


Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Ride of the Damned - May 15

UPDATED Friday, May 13
See sidebar for links to more event info.

14 Teams registered. We ride rain or shine. Please try to bring exacly change - $15 per rider. We will have cars to leave bags of dry clothes in for the day and coolers for perishable food for the BBQ. Registration covers 2 BBQ items and a drink. Additional items/items for guests will be available for a reasonable price. Bring change.

Solo riders please arrive close to 7:30 to be matched up with team-mates.

See you all Sunday!

Who: Audacious dirt loving bicycle riders
What: 5 person Raudax
When: Sunday May 15th, 2010, Registration @ 07:30-08:00, Departure @ 08:10
Where: Lac Leamy start and finish
Why: Adventure, camaraderie, life experience, tan lines
How much: $15 CAN/rider
Registration: Required by midnight, Monday, May 9th.*
Distance: 148k total
Route navigation: Via cue sheets (provided) - unmarked route, open roads
Elevation gain: Approximately 1500 meters
Stuff required: Helmet, properly functioning bike, 28-30c tires recommended, spare tubes, patches, pump, multi-tool.
Food required: Enough food and water for 72k before first stop. Next stop 26k later (Wakefield), then 50k to finish.
Food en-route: Snacks and water provided at 72k (Low) checkpoint, for purchase in Wakefield.
Food Apres: BBQ (carni and vegan) from 2pm with allotted portions provided for riders of food and drink, additionals for sale to riders and non-riders. Feel free to contribute food items, including desserts!
Fun Apres: Invite your spouses and kids for the BBQ!
Proceeds: Any and all proceeds will go to Bicycles for Humanity.
Draw Prizes from Steelwool (grand prize), Specialized and Norco!!!

*Registration: New this year, and only this year, is mandatory pre-registration. Pre-registered riders will be added to Tall Tree's club roster to ensure our liability is covered off. This simply means we need to provide a list of participants to the OCA, and these riders will be added to our club roster. This will not affect your affiliation in any other event, you simply specify your preferred club when you register for other events. This arrangement is necessary this year maintain the grassroots nature of the event, and should not be required next year. Team captains are asked/required to email their team rosters to matt@talltreecycles.ca by midnight, Monday, May 9th.

Teams: Yes, everybody must ride in a team. Teams differ from groups; team-mates go into the ride with their comrades' interests in mind, not just their own. This is what makes the RotD special. Teams are ideally 5 riders, but can range from 4-7 if necessary. 

Solo riders/teams shy of riders: Please get in touch asap so I can hook you up with others. Provide me with information about your ability level and expectations for pace (this applies to riders I don't know). Invite yer friends, and have your friends invite their friends. 

The Route: 11k Neutral start, 137k Official Route, approximately 1465m climbing. See sidebar for links to both maps. We will ride as a big group (or two if necessary) to the official start of the route, so if you use a GPS, you will only need the 137k route loaded.

Navigation: The route is NOT marked. Navigation is the responsibility of teams. We will provide two sets of cue sheets to each team, which are very simple to use. They will be available for download in electronic format early next week so riders can devise a method of mounting/carrying them in advance.  GPS units will likely make navigation easier still but it is good to learn how the cues work for those times without GPS, or GPS failures. Printing out maps to distribute is pointless; they would be too hard to read. If you have a decent map, bring it along.

Food and Water stops: 
#1 @ 61k (72 total): We will be providing water and bananas at the Gazebo in Low 61k (72 total) into the route. Many will want to take 3 bottles to cover this distance (budget for 1 bottle per hour, do the math). The Gazebo is checkpoint #1; everybody must sign in so all are accounted for. There is also a depanneur here, but there is no guarantee it will be open.

#2 98k (109 total): Wakefield. Water at the spring and excellent food can be acquired from Pipolinka (washrooms and water on site). Amazing smoothies and tonics at La Foret in the same building.

BBQ: Hamburgers and dogs (both meat and veggie) will be on the grill. Registration fees cover a couple grilled items and a drink. We welcome dessert and snack contributions from all! We'll poll riders at registration to gauge food requirements for friends and family attending the BBQ.

The final stretch back to Lac Leamy will follow the bike/rec path from Mine road. I've done my best with the cues for this section, the distances are not be exact. Be vigilant, as there are not necessarily any signs to go by. Once crossed under HWY 5, we'll be retracing our route on the path from the neutral rollout back to the beech.

All riders will be required to sign in at the finish. Times will be recorded for complete teams.

Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Mufferaw Joe: Spring Riding at its Finest

Had to recycle an image from 2011...Rodd's bike didn't make it this time.
Sunday morning held a lot of promise as Alex and I drove west to Quyon for the Wheelers’ Mufferaw Joe. Sunscreen and a bit of summer embrocation on the legs, no base layers required, we ditched our vests before rolling out of the parking lot across from Gavan’s Tavern, warm sun on our skin.

Last year the Wheelers launched a ‘steady as she goes’ group about 10 minutes before the rest. This time around, John Large explained we’d roll out en masse, and allow a selection to occur naturally down the road. Before long, we were rolling on gravel for a bit, then onto the PBR rail trail. Despite a healthy cover of branches from recent winds, the trail was in good shape and proved pleasant to ride. Out onto the road again, we soon found ourselves on some relatively fresh gravel leading into a new section of old double track called ‘Magic Road.’ What a treat it was, rolling through pastoral fields and woods, a real gem from my perspective. A sand trap caught at least one rider…c’est la vie. Regrouping, we continued on and found ourselves in Ladysmith about 50k in for refuelling. The more spirited riders were off before all had come in, thus solidifying the main selection. But I sat around too long before heading inside for supplies, and waited 5 minutes for my interact transaction to go through. Walking out I noted almost all the riders gone, which led to a full pin chase with Alex to catch back on. Thankfully, the road was dirt, which favoured our abilities, and we reeled in group two, then group one without too much fuss. However, Nathan Underwood and David Sugden were still up the road, so I continued on at time trial pace and caught them after a more few minutes of hard work. From there, we continued on, expanded our group with a number of Rouleurs, EuroSports, and others, and worded hard into the wind as the kilometers turned over.

Of the remaining route, only two sections proved particularly challenging. The first was the trail skirting a lake 85k in. The frost must have just come out of the dirt, as the surface was power-suckingly slow. Here Peter Conn and Jean Christophe (EuroSports) shone, floating well and putting down smooth power. This was the hardest part of the ride of the ride for me, as my 25c tires dsunk deep into the ground. Coming out, we’d reduced our numbers, and ultimately spent the remaining portion of the ride as a small pack consisting of Nathan (Independent), Peter (RWR), JC (ES), David Bilenky (ES), David Sugden (ES), Russ Jones (OBC), and another Euro who’s name eludes me. Despite a heavy headwind, we progressed well, and turned onto the second challenging section, this time consisting of fresh gravel, with about 15k to go. No flats, we were through, however, a few kilometres later, the Euro I cannot name went down on the pavement while eating a snack. Scraped up, but otherwise ok, he was able to continue on, and we were back up to speed with 5k to go. Back in town, thoughts turned to homemade chilli and bread.

Once John and the next group arrived, the food was unleashed and we proceeded to enjoy the fare alongside our refreshing beverages. Draw prizes flew before long, and then it was time to roll back to town. I half expected to see Nathan on the road, but didn’t. He rode to the event and back, adding a good 100k to his day. Nice.

If you haven’t tried the Mufferaw Joe, but are comfortable with a dose of gravel, I recommend the event highly. The topography and mix of surfaces made for an interesting ride that will likely be just about right for folks with a decent base in the legs. The ride certainly makes for good preparation for our Ride of the Damned (May 15th), which features more climbs, and steeper ones at that. Tire choice for both rides should be similar to those used for Clarence-Rockland and the Almonte Paris-Roubaix. I was on my 25c tubeless Hutchinson Intensives yesterday, but they are not ideal. While the reinforced casing warded off damage, the lack of volume translated into a more punishing ride overall, i.e., draining. They felt great on the smooth pavement, but everywhere else they were lacking in ride quality. For the Mufferaw I’d lean toward something around 28-30c, and the same applies to the Ride of the Damned. There are no tubeless 28s on the market (or 30s, for that matter), so I’ll go with my 30c Grand Bois with Challenge latex tubes on the 15th. As the ride is not a race, handling and comfort on the dirt will be more valuable than raw speed on the pavement. So if your best option is a set of cross tires, ‘run what you brung.’

Thanks to the Wheelers for putting on a great ride, and to the fine gentlemen I spent the day with for your positive attitudes, whit, and smooth riding. I hope to see you all on the 15th for more all-road fun! Stay tuned for specifics, going up here Tuesday or Wednesday.