Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eastern Ontario CX#1: Calabogie Peaks

The drive to Calabogie was beautiful. If the road was wider, this would make for gorgeous riding. With no shoulder, its a little risky with a group.
CX season arrived on Sunday in the Ottawa Valley with our sojourn to Calabogie Peaks for the first race of the Eastern Ontario cyclocross series. Traditionally a predominantly Ottawa-based series, 2011 marks a departure from the norm, due to the City of Ottawa's opposition to cyclocross-induced 'damage' to city parks. The epic rain the region received last year set up the conditions for a couple muckier races than usual, and the City responded with the revocation of the Series' permits for the rest of the season's races. Bob Woods and Ian Austen worked hard to salvage the season, and their admirable efforts kept us racing without a single missed race. This season, after a summer of being ignored by the City, the Series resumes at some of the venues that have welcomed us for years, along with new ones that are happy to have cyclists visit. It feels good to be welcome.

Welcome indeed we were at Calabogie Peaks on Sunday. After a beautiful leg from Highway 17, resplendent with fall colours, we arrived in time to join Thom and Will at the Steelwool tent to see the first race get underway. A very large field impressed upon me the enthusiasm for CX the region. While I am aware of a number of people who have to abstain this year due to the lack of time to spend on the extra travel, there were still many, many riders out to race. The accessibility of the Ottawa venues have been a big part of why CX has grown so vigorously in Ottawa over the last 5 years, so it would be a shame to see that momentum lost due to the biased perspective of a City official.

Steel with a pinch of carbon. Mmmm.
On to the racing. The main feature of Sunday's course was sand. In addition, rocks were strewn throughout, which led to a few flats in the first race. Seeing this, we added a bit of extra air to protect the tires, which provided a rougher ride than usual. The sandy turns required aggressive technique to muscle through, and rewarded commitment. The tarrain at the base of the hill was well utilized, featuring a good mix of long straights, tricky loose turns, a quick uphill barrier, a barrier to run up, a sandy double barrier, two climbs, and a sand death spiral. Laps were perhaps medium length, about 7 minutes, so we races 9 laps.

.the scene
Despite the drive, a number of kids made it out to race, and the first race was a large field of 80 or so riders.
The first race featured four Tall Tree folks: Anna, Alec, Grant and Mike. Alec and Grant were newbies, Anna and Mike vets. Both Anna and Mike were up in the mix dicing it out. Anna battled Jenny and made her move at the right time to take 3rd spot, and Mike was poised for third (by my estimation) until he dropped his chain on the death spiral. He fought back though and caught back up to Bilenky and Heins, a valient effort. His last lap was lost into the ether though, so its hard to say where he actually landed (edit: 3rd). Grant and Alec had a great first race, with perhaps a few foibles. Alec started out mellow, but impressed everyone with his hard charge over the last couple laps, throttle wide open and flying. I can't wait to see him out there on Sunday with a faster start.
low angle
Perfect fall weather, plenty warm for short sleeves.

anna and her sweet NOS Michelin Mud 1s on her brand new Truffle Pig
Anna starts her run to 2nd place on here NOS Michelin Muds, possibly the best CX treads ever.

The A race begins. Rob leads Todd into the double barriers, technical due to the sand.

Race two featured a big field as well, and lots of talent. The opening straight was long enough to get into the tiop 6 without much fuss, and I settled in there approaching the uphill barrier. After remounting, Neil crashed directly in front of me, and I could only ram his front wheel. Apparently, this drove his big ring into my lowe leg, and tore me up. The pain was not over the top, but as I took myself off the ground, and tried to bet racing again, I wasn't sure whether I'd have to stop for stitches. I figured it wasn't bleeding enough to really worry, so I concentrated on regaining my position. Obviously, this required a lot of effort, but I managed to get back to the top 7 or 8 before too long and focused on keeping the pressure on despite feeling the urge to quit. With the course doubling back on itself many times, it was easy to see our other riders and give a smile when possible. Many of them were able to actually speak words of encouragement to me, which was certainly appreciated. On top of that, many others were out to support us, and their words of encouragement helped every time. Ultimately, I ended up duking it out with Duncan Beard, my main rival from last year. With about 4 laps to go, Duncan made a good passing maneuver and gapped me. I was still recovering at this point from earlier efforts, so I had to sit tight. I held the gap, but his body language showed he was under pressure. On the second last lap we were together and Duncan was sitting on my wheel, ready to pounce. I attacked the descent after the longer climb, hit the turn fast, maintained the gap on the run up, then hit the bunker turn full pin, solidifying the gap. Then it was full gas to try to increase the space between us, and careful riding from there to hold it. Thinking Duncan was the top Master A rider in the mix at this point, I thought I'd pulled off the win. It wasn't until after the results were posted that I saw Steve Proulx is also racing MA now, and he was up ahead. Steve's really fast, so I will have my work cut out for me chasing him around! I love a challenge.

Jamie motos the technical descending sand turn, a great feature....

....while Matt stays in the pedals. I found the drops worked best to power through this later on.

Todd prepared to dismount for the barrier and run-up.

Pascal powers out of the tough sand trap turn.

Rodd heads into the tricky sand left hander. There was  one packed line here on the inside, and lots of deep stuff everywhere else.
The rest of the Tall Tree racers put in good races, though Rob suffered a pretty debilitating mechanical when his front brake lever slid down and pulled his cable enough to lock up his front brake. OTB (over the bars). Iain was out for his first CX bike CX race experience, and he was mighty quick. With a little time he'll be gunning for the front of the MA field, I'm pretty certain of that. And he's already keen on tubulars!

On the tech side, a bunch of us were rocking the new Steelwool Truffle Pig frames with ENVE forks. These frames are the production version of the green striped one I races last year (Andy is on it now, and Todd still has his with the same paint). The new frames feature tweaks to the geometry, fittings, and tubing to optimize performance out on the cross course. So far so good, everybody is LOVING the bikes, and they look mighty fine too. Steel is indeed a competitive frame material! Come check them out at the Steelwool tent on Sunday in Almonte. We'll have free coffee and food too!

Results @ http://www.cyclocross.org/

More photos at our flickr site

Double Cross rolls Thanksgiving Monday, Oct 10, @ 9 AM. Poster and more info to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cyclocross Begins!

Joey is indeed ok folks. Lets see if any of us can top his air time!
Can you smell it in the air? The Eastern Ontario Cyclocross series kicks off on Sunday at Calabogie Peaks. Race one starts at 9am, race two at 10:30. The Tall Tree Cycles crew will be out in force on all manner of CX bikes, from singlespeed to flat-bar multispeed crossers, and everything in between (except snow bikes). The brand new Steelwool Truffle Pig will make its debut, respendent in team-edition livery. Thom and Will will be on site with a pop-up tent with CX product for perusal.

Public service announcement: remember to register for the race/series by midnight tonight; no on-site registration will be possible (online registration link on the site below). Also, please sign up to volunteer for course set-up on the spreadsheet linked on the http://www.cyclocross.org/ site. Bob and Ian rely on volunteers to make the races happen.

Bring your cowbells and come ready to be rowdy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A possible reprieve for Beaver Pond ??

From the Ottawa Citizen website today:

OTTAWA — A wetland in northwest Kanata that’s connected to the South March Highlands forest is provincially significant, the Ministry of Natural Resources has decided, in a ruling that will certainly delay and could theoretically halt contentious development plans for the area.

The Kizell Drain Wetland Complex, which feeds into a large pool called Beaver Pond east of Goulbourn Forced Road, is home to “threatened” Blandings turtles, says an evaluation produced by the City of Ottawa and now approved by the ministry. The turtles are enough to meet the standard for provincial protection, the city says and the province agrees.

This matters because property developers aren’t allowed to use provincially significant wetlands to drain run-off from land they plan to build on. And the Kizell Complex is part of the drainage plans for the South March Highlands projects of KNL Developments (a joint venture of Urbandale and Richcraft), plans for which part of a KNL-owned forest was razed last winter.

Reaction from those who protested the clear-cut last year was exuberant: “If the city were to respect provincial environmental protection laws, this would stop KNL cold,” wrote South March Highlands activist Paul Renaud in a letter to supporters. “KNL cannot proceed with any of the subdivision development phases without dumping more storm water into either Beaver Pond, or Kizell.” If the city had properly monitored the situation last year, he wrote, the cutting would have been stopped.

At City Hall, the response was more subdued.

“Some of the residents think this will stop it cold. I don’t think it will,” said Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, who represents the area where long-term plans call for 3,000 homes to be built. But she said, “at this point, they can’t go ahead.”

Instead, KNL will have to devise a new drainage plan, probably using the nearby Shirley’s Brook, Wilkinson said. That’ll likely be a pain for the builders (“The area’s a bit tricky for drainage anyway,” she said), but still possible.

Beaver Pond and its immediate surroundings are being given to the city as part of a long-standing deal — reached by the former city of Kanata when Wilkinson was mayor, long before KNL bought them — to trade 40 per cent of a large piece of privately owned land to the local government in exchange for the right to develop the other 60 per cent. “The actual wetland was being given to the city anyway, so that doesn’t change,” Wilkinson said.

The Citizen’s call to Mary Jarvis, the director of planning for Urbandale and the lead spokesperson on the development project, wasn’t immediately returned.

Correspondence between the city planner doing the wetland evaluation, Nicholas Stow, and provincial environment official Shaun Thompson, does show a significant disagreement on certain details. In Stow’s reckoning, the wetland would still qualify for provincial protection even without the turtles, but only barely: without the turtles, the property scores exactly 600 points on the 1,000-point scale the province uses, and it takes 600 points or more to meet the standard.

Thompson doesn’t agree, revising downward several of Stow’s scorings. Stow awarded points for the interest in the area expressed lately by Algonquin aboriginals; Thompson wrote to the city that he couldn’t confirm any details with the Algonquins of Ontario and takes the points away. He also takes nine points off as a result of “minor errors” in calculating the wetland’s hydrological importance. On the flip side, he finds that Stow didn’t give enough points for the turtles, though the “special features” category allows a maximum of 250 points and the Kizell Drain Wetland got 250 points anyway. In the end, the only difference between the two evaluations is whether the wetland is provincially significant without the turtles.

Westboro Bike Show - Friday September 23

Tall Tree Cycles wants you to show off your rides!
Friday, September 23rd, 5-11pm, Tall Tree Cycles - 255 Richmond Road.
A celebration of bicycle design and creative expression, four categories will be open for entry and display:
1: Vintage (pre 1990)
2: Custom or hand-built bike (made by hand and one-off)
3: Urban Bike (anything urban, cargo, fixie, folding etc.)
4: Paint/Colour (have an amazing paint job or maybe your parts are super colour-coordinated?)

Enter your own bike to show it off and a chance to win some sweet prizes! Don't have a bike to display? Stop by to check out all the sweet rides, enjoy the live DJ, and perhaps partake in a cool libation.
We'll have a great stock of Mission Workshop products on hand for perusal and purchase. We'll also have exclusive Bike Show night deals in effect, to be announced on site!
Please pre-register your bike in one of the following categories by September 20th (one bike per person and spaces are limited).
Come take a shot at the prize for best in show!
Email info@talltreecycles.ca to register! (Submit a photo and description please!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Holiday Ramble

With the end of summer nigh and my 2 weeks vacation winding up I took the opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister who was car camping in Bon Echo. Since a couple of other Tall Tree’ers had ridden out there earlier this summer I decided I would spend Friday riding the roads and old rail trails in the area. Having picked up a copy of Eastern Ontario Recreational Trails map I was intrigued by the road, off-road, and rail trail routes identified and wanted to see what was off the beaten track in a new area.

Google Earth image of the route here. (Not sure if there is a way to actually link or insert the google earth kmz file).

I started at Marble lake (westernmost point on the route pic) and enjoyed some rolling terrain heading south towards the 7. Road surface was mostly good and traffic along this route quite light. Passing the 7 after about 1 hr of solid riding I continued south through the quaint little burg of Arden then promptly hung a left onto the TransCanada Trail (Central Frontenac trail). The surface is mostly good crushed rock with some sections, particularly the lower lying areas, a bit bumpier with some rocky fill. The trail is actually kind of cool, winding though various forest groves and wetlands. Plus there are small communities of houses along the route….now with road access but I imagine it was the rail line that was the lifeblood years ago. Coming around to beautiful Sharbot lake (the lake) then the town - took me a little longer than anticipated at less than halfway my planned 120 route and already 2.5 hrs in. I stopped at the local Fresh Mart for provisions and a quite evidently “rural” type commented about my being “out for some exercise” and having a cord of wood that needed chopping and stacking. He was not being rude with it but went to great lengths to expound as to the “quality workout” that it would give me. I happily informed him that I’ve spent many a time chopping and sawing wood over the course of my active outdoor life. Seems some people must think we ONLY ride for exercise and do not grasp the concept that it is actually an enjoyable avocation

Moving along I had hoped to head north on the K+P trail but ended up continuing west as the main trail showed no evidence of a turnoff and I had not crossed the 38 through Sharbot Lake (or so I thought - apparently I went “under“ a nondescript bridge - even drove back after to figure out how I got west without crossing the main road). Cost me about 5 km before I realized that I should have hit the #7 and found a side road to jog up then back about 4 km on the 7 (not particularly recommended). Could not find the K+P trail access, and it did not matter at that point as the clock and weather were closing in on me so I sought the safely identifiable road route. Going north on the 509 was fine - good road, little traffic then eventually a west jog on Ardoch road proffered a variety of shield country standards as well as homesteads, small farms and meadows. By the time I arrived at Ardoch and soon to head back east along the 506 I was fighting a massive headache and raging sore throat and time had ticked much faster than the miles - I just wanted to be done. The last 25 or so kms were uneventful save for my increasingly weary body and a few trucks towing boats who just loved to whiz down the freshly graveled sections catapulting stones (inadvertently I’m sure) at the struggling cyclist in the opposing lane. Some nice views again coming back towards Marble lake and finally after almost 5 hrs in the saddle I was happy to be back.

While it might not be a “cycling destination”, anybody heading out to that area might want to bring their CX or touring bike, pick up a 5$ trail map and do a bit of exploring…or…rambling.