Friday, July 27, 2012

Hell Climb for Kidneys 2012- Post event

It's hard to describe to non-cyclists why I like riding my bike so much. Whether it's the quest to push oneself to another physical level, the undeniable exhilaration of speed, or just the simple freedom that a bicycle provides, most of us cyclists just really love riding our bikes.

This year at the Hell Climb, I got to witness many fellow cyclists enjoy riding their bikes as much as I do. Once again, the Ottawa cycling community came out to have some fun and raise some money for charity while doing so. Starting from the base of the Fortune Parkway, entrants time trialled 6.2 km mostly uphill to the Champlain Lookout. Once again, friends embraced the spirit of the event, coming in costume and bringing their most unique bicycle. Anyone who happened to be in Gatineau Park on Wednesday evening would have done a double-take after seeing a giant shrimp, or a really Tall Tree, or a bunch of zombies out riding their bikes. There were cyclists on their race bikes, on fixed gear bikes, folding bicycles, tandems, pulling trail-a-bikes, pulling Chariot child carriers, and even pulling trail-a-bikes and Chariots!

Every participant put in a strong effort, but also finished with a smile on their face. Highlights for me were the number of families that chose to ride together and seeing the determination (and subsequent joy) of the youngest competitors finishing what was undoubtably a very hard ride for them. We had three riders under 10 years old climb the steepest hill in Gatineau Park.

The money collected this year went to The Ottawa Hospital's Kidney Research Centre, the first Canadian research facility dedicated to researching the causes and cures for kidney disease. A total of $900 was raised on Wednesday. Thank you for your generosity!

A special thanks to all of this year's volunteers: Deb, Tanya, Jamie, Iain, Rodd, Neil, Andy, and Noah. Thanks to Grant and Tall Tree Cycles for the prizes. This year's Hell Climb was sponsored by NRG Canada, Specialized Canada, Outdoor Gear Canada, and Re:Form Body Clinic. Also a thank you to Matt who is the driving force behind the event.

The results are posted here . Please email if you think there has been a mistake. The fastest men's time in the open class was Doug Van Den ham, while the fastest woman was Emily Flynn. The fastest female in the fixed category was Janna Rinaldi, while the fastest male was Matt Surch. Next year we're going to have to add a zombie category.....

Pictures are posted here. We'll post more as we get them. Thanks once again to everyone. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hell Climb for Kidneys: July 25

Graphic Design: Greg Cosgrove
We are just two weeks away from this year's Hell Climb up the Fortune Parkway. Conceived as an opportunity to hold a FUN-raiser on a weeknight, the Hell Climb has evolved into a brilliant display of cycling culture, featuring inventive costumes and bike choices, raucous family teams, and a solid dose of uphill enjoyment/suffering. 

The Hell Climb is a FUN-raiser event, devoting all revenue to the Ottawa Hospital's Kidney Research Centre (KRC)The KRC is comprised of a team of individuals, including Tall Tree Cycles team rider Todd Fairhead, devoted to finding better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat all forms of kidney disease

Entry to the Hell Climb is a minimum $10 donation. 

This is a typical time trial format. The ascent begins at P10 (at the gate of the Fortune Parkway), and extends to Champlain Lookout (at the sign). The route is 6.2k and climbs 166m. So, as far as climbs go, its not terribly hard. Unless you are on a fat bike, pulling a couple kids, or going for the KOM or QOM!

Click 'view full route' for metric data.

On Wednesday, July 25th, participants will register at P10 at the base of the Fortune Parkway at 6pm. 
Riders will register by making their $10 (minimum) contribution, at which point they will receive their staging numbers. Riders will go off at 30 second intervals. As this is a grassroots event that is all about combining fun and challenge, we will be using stopwatch timing. Riders will return to P10 for results and prizes.
We will have five categories: 
Open Men - regular road bikes
Open Women - regular road bikes
Fixed Men - all ages, no gear restrictions!
Fixed Women - all ages, no gear restrictions!
Super-Modified - wild and wacky family friendly: tandems, mtbs, trail-a-bikes, kids in trailers...

As initiated in 2011, the Hell Climb turns it up to 11 by encouraging non-team kit, Unafilliated. This means anything but regular team kit is welcome: retro, vintage, costume, stylish, poseur, hideous...whatever. The idea is to have fun with it! Yes, we will have a photo car! Last year's costumes and bikes were nothing short of incredible, with James Cowan taking the top prize.

Hell Climb 2011
James' Bixi bill was a little steeper than expected, but hey, he's famous on the Internet!

Prizes will be awarded to the top and Lanterne Rouge finishers from the Open and Fixed categories, and fastest male and female riders. Prizes will be drawn for the Super-Modified category. Prizes will also be awarded to best and worst dressed. Only riders riding Unafilliated will qualify for these prizes. Re:Form Body Clinic has kindly put up gift certificates for one hour of massage for the top male and female finishers! Thanks Re:Form! There's nothing like massage therapy for mangled legs! Outdoor Gear Canada has also contributed a slew of great prizes; thanks Dave Shirley! Specialized Canada and NRG Enterprises are also on board, providing yet more great prizes!

Top this!
Family friendly!
Hell Climb 2011
Yep, this is for real.
Start scheming your outfit!

Here's last year's post-event-post.

Lost in the Rocks and Trees: Minority Report

Lost in the Rocks and Trees is actually three separate races: 30km, 62km and 112km.  The race is held just outside of the town of Mattawa, located between Deep River and North Bay.  The course is a mix of logging road, dirt road and a lot of quad track.  The race itself has been around for 16 years. This year's edition took place Saturday July 14.

Noah and I had discussed participating in this race for some time; we had tried the 112km race before and wanted to give the 62km race a try.  At least I did.  Noah was initially set on the 112km, but eventually came to his senses and decided on the 62km.  Apart from Noah almost missing the only turn on the trip (his navigation skills leave much to be desired), the drive to Mattawa was an uneventful three and half hours.  I regaled Noah with my vast repertoire of bird calls and Shakeperean soliloquies while he explained his research on deviant sexual behaviours within the albino sloth population of East Westmoreland.

Our arrival at the race venue was met by swarms of mosquitoes, deer flies and horseflies clearly eager to feast on our delicate, latte-laden urban blood.  With a fire ban in effect, we had no recourse (or bug spray) against the bugs.  It was then that we decided to head into the nearest bar for a ‘strategy session’.  At our strategy session (in an empty Mattawa bar), we discussed how we would try to stay near the front as long as possible and see how things went after that. 

The judges awarded our synchronized drinking routine a 4.9 for artistic impression, but only a 4.7 for technical merit.
Photo: Nature’s Harmony  

Saturday was hot.  At 10am, when the race started, the temperature was closing in on 28oC, and was well on the way to a high of 34 oC.  The high temperatures of the week preceding the race had made the sandy parts of the course extremely soft.  On the bright side, the heat kept the bugs down.   After choking back a sickening combination of sweetened granola and vanilla soy milk (at least it tastes the same coming up) we headed to the start line.

We jumped in front off the start and managed to break away with two others.  Our four-man break remained intact until we reached the biggest climb on the course, a long, steep pitch covered in loose, fist-sized rocks.  We rode as much of it as we could, but lost touch with one rider when we had to walk.  I took off after him and spent the next two hours chasing.  As the race wore on I realized that I did not have enough water and that I would have to ration what I had and stop at one of the checkpoints to reload.  I also forgot to eat. 
I finally made contact with the leader as he was leaving the second-last check point and I was arriving.  I filled my water bottle as quickly as I could and set off after him.  I passed Noah on his way into the checkpoint; he seemed to be in good form and was holding third place with a decent lead.  After twenty minutes of riding, I realized that my tank was dangerously close to empty and that I had over extended myself.  Fortunately, I was nearly at the last checkpoint.  Unfortunately, there were still 15km to go.  I scarfed back some orange slices and a banana and set off once again.  With about 8km to go I realized that I was not going to catch anyone and that I was getting weaker.  I choked back my gel pack and hoped for the best.  Looking back on it, my total food intake for the race was: one bowl of granola, half an apple, one Lara bar, a banana, some orange slices and a gel pack. Noah caught me with about 3km to go.  At this point I was barely able to turn my pedals over and my speech was even more incoherent than usual.  Noah, ever the gentleman, offered to pull me, but I was in no mood for a handjob.  We rode together for the last couple of kilometres and he finished just before me.

This race is a fantastic experience that I would recommend to any mountain biker.  The terrain was varied, but not very technical.  It was a course that rewarded fitness and persistence rather than skill.  We were surprised by the range in ages, abilities and bicycles that finished.  The race organizers and participants were very friendly and welcoming.  We were also pleasantly surprised to see several other riders from Ottawa as well as OGC Über-rep, Dave Shirley.  Dave was there on behalf of the race’s main sponsor, Opus bikes. 

Thanks to the organizers, Nick Green in particular, and to the kind folks at Nature’s Harmony (an off-grid   eco-lodge), who played hosts to the race.  Finally, congratulations to all those who finished and to James Horner, who won the 62km.  We’ll see you again next year.
For more information: , and  
A video of this year's event can be seen here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Old men.....grand prixs....

A narration of events which may (or may not) have occured this past weekend at the return (after a 1 year absence) of the OBC Gatineau Park Grand Prix from the perspective of old corneas and glaucoma (or heat) affected eyeballs.

Team Tall Tree showed up in numbers to make a statement, 7 in 30-39 with 3 more in 40-49 (MB). Master B comprised of myself, Big BMX Jim McGuire and Dave Ironmanchine Stachon. I had not ridden much with these guys this year (or much at all here in O-town for that matter) due to an excessive amount of travel for work and personal. But I did know that Dave is primed with his methodical (and perhaps stealthy) training regimen and has an engine that can roll with the best of them...he would be our best best in a break. Jim I had heard from the grapevine was also super strong and is a powerhouse....our best bet in a sprint. Me....well pretty much all my riding this year has been long stuff so I had little expectations and a goal of just surviving with the pack and helping Jim or Dave if possible. I've managed survival 2 times in the past 4 attempts (one each in MA and MB).

Right off the hop the pace was solid but not crazy. On the first Fortune climb I was about 10 m back of the front 25 guys right at the top. I thought "shit - I might be time trialing 84 k" ! Not a thought I relished. After about 2 minutes of work on the flatish sections of fortune I managed to snag back on (barely). Jim and Dave were well positioned. Nothing too out of the ordinary for the rest of the lap (that my heat and exercise addled brain remembers anyway), and I was happy to make it through lap one with about 45 of my closest friends (about half the starting field). First and second group up Fortune had rejoined somewhere on Blacks I think but there was lots of carnage on the first climb including some very strong riders.

Second climb up I was a bit smarter and started near the front....but still by the top my grip was loosening. Luckily there were some others in the same boat and some that must have just gotten caught in bad position as a medium size train pulled by locomotive Hans Loeffelholz caught back on to the main group. Somewhere on this lap David Gaszi took off on a break and I think had someone with him but no one had any desire to chase at this point.

I kept up closer to the front near Jim and at one point on the Kingsmere climb I thought Jim was going to miss the wheel of a guy speeding up in front of him so I gave him a little push from behind. STUPID mistake. I should have remembered my grade 11 physics....F=MxA....and "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". Jim weighs just a tad more than I and for the 2 inches I probably pushed him forward I recoiled and wobbled eliciting some yells from behind. I apologized profusely but I guess it was not too serious a danger factor as a few guys gave me a pat and a "nice save" as they went by. Whew...... So another lap down and another good bottle handoff by my buddy Jason visiting from the Peg. Pascal and Glenn were taking care of Jim and Dave (as well as all the MA guys).

Third time is a charm (so to speak) and my anticipated shelling finally happened near the top of fortune. Just had no gas or strength to plow through another 27 KPH climb of that stretch ! I was however surprised to see some strong dudes behind be here also popped, the likes of Chris Olsen, Rob Orange, Duane Smith; and Jim was just up ahead. There ended up being about 10-11 of us 30 seconds back of the peleton. Robbie O barked orders at us to try and work together but we were a bit disjointed and at least half of us were likely not from the area. For much of that lap there were only 5 maybe 6 of us working after we did settle into a kind of groove. Coming into the start of the fourth lap we found out that we were 1 minute back...that was hope and we dialed it back a degree. We got caught by the 50+ (MC group) who had just started halfway up Fortune this time. We let them ride through although Duane and another guy jumped in with that group and took off. The rest of us dangled 20 m back of a group of about 10-12 straggler MC guys. Finally on the lac bourgoise climb after the intersection Jim decided these guys were too slow and we pulled through dragging about 5 guys with us. Robbie O was not one of them. On the last Black's climb I had a moderately bad cramp and let out a little yell. Jim coaxed me to spin through it and I managed to maintain. Shortly after that Jim had some cramping as well. There were a couple of the MC guys that stayed with us for much of the rest of the lap, but I think we got rid of them at the top of Penguin. On the climb prior to the P5 descent Jim (who had been working pretty hard) was back with most of our little group while I had jumped up to cover a (pseudo) break by Olsen and another guy. I kept looking back for Jim as I had been asking if he still felt he could take the sprint for our group...he was unsure each time I asked. Finally Jim did bridge up to us while descending Penguin to P8, and dragged a couple others along with him. After the final pass throught the feedzone a couple guys tried to go and Jim and I tried to follow but we were both gassed...then in the rollers somehow we and a couple more caught up again ....I guess they were gassed too. So it was a sprint of about 6 of us, I tried to give Jim a bit of a lead but that fell apart faster than a Hintonburger with extra sauce ! Turned out that Gaszi got caught after a lap or so away and it came down to a bunch sprint. Dave managed 8th in MB. Our little group was 5 minutes back of the winner and Jim took second in our mini-shootout. Duane and the other guy who had hitched into the MC race were a minute or so ahead of us.

All in all it was fun but ridiculously hard - hot but not too humid and enough shade that the sun was not a major factor between 8-10 am. I enjoyed riding with Jim and having a teammate there to push each other or help out, or stategize or just talk was a significant enhancement of the experience.

Next up for this old guy.....Muskoka Grind Off-road triathlon.

Monday, July 16, 2012

2012 OBC Grand Prix: Root Rocking Roundup

Cyclists compete during the The Ottawa Bicycle Club Grand Prix, held in Gatineau Park on July 14, 2012. It is the largest annual bicycle race in the country, with over 600 cyclists participating in various categories.
Image: Ottawa Citizen

The Ottawa Bicycle Club's Grand Prix returned to the Gatineau Parkway after a sinkhole on the North Loop kept the race away in 2011. Hot weather greeted riders from out of town, as did the Col de Fortune. Local riders know the climb well, but out of towners don't. Could it be used tactically? We'd find out.

A strong crop of Tall Tree Cycles riders were out to contest Saturday's race. In the Master 40-49 category: Jim McGuire, David Stachon, and Mike Abraham. We consolidated most of our firepower in the Master 30-39 race: Rob Parniak, Iain Radford, Jamie Pold, Andy Brown, Alex Michel, Todd Fairhead, and myself. Dave sprinted to our top placing in the M40, 8th, while big Jim moved one step closer to hanging on up Fortune each time. That's the dry stuff, lets get on to the juice.

We knew we had the potential to win, but we'd have to plan and execute. Emails flew, we did a couple of practice loops, and pretty much decided our plan was to wait and see. PRO. The thing is, the GP course is VERY difficult to get away on, unless you are head and shoulders better than everyone else, in which case you should not be sandbagging. One aggressive rider is not enough, many are required. There is virtually no flat road to consolidate a break, so the only way the race will really break up is if a strong group attacks hard off the top of Fortune and drills it. But deep teams seem to be required to do that, and it’s a gamble. We'd considered such a tactic, but a couple digs off the top revealed that other teams did not want to throw the dice. It would come down to a sprint.

Meanwhile, a bunch of racers from the Senior 3 and Junior men became 'entangled' in our peloton. I use scare quotes to mock their exhortations:

Me: "Are you off the front or off the back?"
S3: "I don't know."
Me: "Right. You guys can't use this group to consolidate your lead."
S3: "We're not trying to."
Me: "Right...."

Our pack had caught the S3/Junior riders, apparently the first occasion in 14 editions. Rather than letting us ride past, and continuing on their way, they incorporated into our peloton. Weeeeee, free ride! Many in our group were vocal about them leaving, but they made no real efforts to do so. Rather than sitting up, letting us go, and carrying on, they made half hearted attempts to get off by riding to the left, only to pull up front on climbs. In effect this nonsense neutralized our race, as we could not tell who was who, thereby making break attempts uncouth. We could not rid them until the fourth lap, their last, where we had to sit up to let them ride off the front. Meanwhile, there was at least one strong M40-49 rider in the pack for most of the race, attracting less attention. I didn't know what to make of that.

Ultimately, after attempts to draw out riders off the front on a few occasions late in the race, it was all about the sprint. Iain, was cramping, Todd was still good, Rob, Jamie and Andy were gone, and Alex looked fine. We drove the pace into the final 2k, then tried to organize. Inside the red kite, Iain, yelled 'GO,' so I began the leadout, ramping it up. Looking back, Iain was not there, nor was Alex, and I was off alone. Too early, there was no way I'd hold it. I sat up, waited for a wheel, Bill Hurley, got on and waited. The sprint opened up with about 300m to go, and I waited on Bill's wheel, then jumped off onto the Provincial Champ's wheel. I was good for one acceleration, but started to fade as riders pulled up and past, so I put my head down and dug deep, holding on as well as possible (apparently its OK not to look where you are going in a sprint). Meanwhile, Alex came up with speed, grabbing 5th; I trailed in 7th. Iain and Todd finished side by side a little outside the top 10, while Rob brought the second pack in.

The Grand Prix is a tricky race. On the one hand, if you can handle the climbs, you can opt to sit in and do your best in the sprint. Some will have no choice but to play this card. Others with teams and ambition will be tempted to make something happen. The tension is thus: race versus group ride and sprint. We were not strong enough to go ballistic off the top and hold off the peloton.

I've often been tempted to think that harder courses make for better racing. In reality, that does not generally seem to be the case. Take The Tour Divide race for example, possibly the hardest bike race anywhere. Exciting? No, not the appropriate term. Hard? Definitely. The Cote Lac Fortune is a hard climb at race pace, but for the Master 30-39 crowd, not hard enough. 30 riders finished within a couple seconds, showing that attrition definitely occurred, but tactics did not factor. So, in terms of fun-factor, I'd have to rank the race low. Organization-wise, great. What would it take to make it a fun race? Would fun for some translate into fun for all?

I believe the GP has been run in the opposite direction in the past. While I personally hate climbing Blacks at race pace, I would submit that this direction would make the race more tactical and fun. The obvious downside from the organizer's perspective is the Fortune descent. While it pales in severity compared to the descents we did at Sutton, the GP is an all categories race. Safety has to be considered across a broad range of abilities. The Fortune descent could be considered too fast and twisty for less skilled racers. However, if this concern were put to rest, I think Black, which follows a decent climb from Kingsmere Road, would serve to split up fields as early as the first lap.

This suggestion stems from my our experience in the Master 30-39 race, which proved two dimensional. I am aware the Elite race broke up, so those riders would likely have a different perspective. Perhaps other fields broke up too. If so, my argument might be undermined. Notwithstanding, reversing the direction might make the racing better all around, so I hope the option will be considered.

Next up, Andy and I hit the 220k SuperFondo on Saturday, where we will 'crank our quads.' There is still time to register, and a few distances are on offer. Visit GranFondo Ottawa for details.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Coupe des Ameriques 2012: Not-So-Masterful Racing

The arch in town, coffee time.

This past Friday through Sunday, five Tall Tree Cycles dudes born in the 1970s took on the Coupe des Ameriques in Sutton, Quebec: Alex, Jamie, Iain, Matt and Todd. Only Alex had raced Sutton before, let alone any road stage race. The rest of us had been psyching ourselves up for such an opportunity for at least few years. Alex's rave reviews and ring-leading had us packed up and Friday morning. What was in store? Pain, no doubt, but we were all looking forward to racing together as a real team for the first time.

The abode; unbeatable.
Service course in Sutton, outstanding score by Alex.
I won't go into painstaking detail, but I'll provide a sense of what this race was like. First, the competition was pretty fierce. This was abundantly clear during the prologue, a mass start hill-climb on Friday night. Ouch. Iain and Alex were with the lead group, but I got popped off, as did Todd and Jamie. Iain sat in 10th, Alex in 11th. We had a shot at a top 10.

Abomination, or sleeper? Undecided.
The weirdest looking TT bike in the field. There is photographic evidence of my rather upright position. There is no helping that, the stem can't get any lower....

The TT fleet, ranging from cutting edge
The TT fleet

Matt, Alex, Jamie, Iain, Todd.
Matt, Alex, Jamie, Iain, Todd
Between TT and circuit race: Tour de France!
Enjoying the Tour between stages in Saturday.
Saturday began with a 16k time trial on a seemingly flat course. Not so. I looked down and saw 30kph more than once, indicating it had climbs. What is there to say? It hurt. Todd was our best man, to our pleasant surprise. He, Iain, and I were all within 10 seconds. Weird. Iain still occupied 10th on the GC, with an American, Bobby Bailey, in the lead after slaying the competition. Jamie rode Merckx, and actually kinda liked it. 

The fleet.
The road fleet, ready for the circuit race.

The circuit race would be 50k, three laps of a hilly route. WIth Iain in 10th, we were looking to get him into any break that might stick, or at least finish same time with the pack and go for the win if possible. A 90kph descent with train-tracks proved exciting if not a little scary. Ok, honestly, we were afraid guys were going to eat it in front of us for no good reason. There were wobbles aplenty. Why? On the second lap we moved to the front and led the descent, which was better. On the third, after Iain and Alex had attacked multiple times, I carried speed past the field through the runout of the descent and went solo for a couple kilometers, hoping to draw a small group with me. Nope. However, Iain and I were positioned well for the sprint, and I found myself easily picking off riders, and crossing the line beside Iain in 5th, with enough speed to take the win if I had another 10 meters. Live and learn, coulda-shoulda. We were happy with our riding, but knew we'd have our work cut out for us come Sunday's 102k road race.

Todd, master of maximization.
Todd, post circuit race.
Sunday started out ok, with the Trek team attacking to no avail off the gun, angling to get their GC guys onto the podium. After rolling climbs, three got away while everyone looked at the yellow jersey, Bailey, who had one team-mate, to chase. He did, but one man can only do so much. Iain had already told him we'd help him, so we worked with him, his team-mate, and a hard working BikeMan solo rider to bring them back, peloton in tow. It took 20k. We tried moves after that to create a break to to no avail. Things 'got real' on the final big climb, on Joy Road; it was a grinder. I'd opted to run my 11-28 cassette with my 39 ring in the event that things got ugly. Indeed they did, and I was grinding that sucker at 17kph while the whippets pulled away. A small group was off, with a shattered field in their wake. The yellow was in a small chase group I was able to bridge to with Todd, followed by Iain and Alex...and most of the rest of the pack. Despite our numbers, the field was not inclined to chase the 14 up the road with 10k to go. We tried to drive the pace to no avail, and nobody followed my attack with 4 to go. By the time we hit the final, we were all gassed. The yellow lost the jersey, Iain got bumped to 14th on the GC, I settled into 19th, Todd 21st, Alex 37th, Jamie, almost lanterne rouge. We'd done everything we could, no regrets. The event was very well run, and the racing was mostly great (except the parts where people wanted to do a group ride). We're already looking forward to next year. We'd better get better at ripping hill climbs....Next up, the Grand Prix!

Spoken words:

"You should smoke cigarettes. They're like compression socks for your lungs."

"Wow, that was horrible. It can only get better from here."

"I don't have any kudos yet." 

"There are 10 Trek guys...."

"I'm a really big deal on the Internet!"

"Moringa has essential amino acids."

"Roadies going over railroad tracks, at the bottom of a downhill? That means we're moving up." 

"Hey man, is that steel? "Yep." "Steel is real, eh?" "Yep."

"How was the TT?" "Well, it sucked, but TTs always suck, even when they are good, right?"

"Three Trek guys off the front. We're going to bring them back."

"When we catch them, the Trek guys are going to attack you." "I know, that's ok, just hang on." "Ok."

"Pull through or get the f@$k off the front?"

"Go! This is a Strava segment!" "No! I can t go any harder!"

"You guys are awesome. Thank you."

Apres race banquet beers. The Apres Bikini option is apparently a winter only thing.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hell Climb - July 25th

Mark your calendars, the Hell Climb will fall on Wednesday, July 25 at 6pm. We'll be climbing th Fortune Parkway to Champlain Lookout, as in years previous. More details to come, start planning your costume and bike set-up!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wilmington 100 Report

God bless the USA. Living in Ottawa, out of town ride options are plentiful in the Eastern US. Having ridden in the Lake Placid region before on both road and mountain bikes I knew the Wilmington 100 would be a solid ride.

The profile looked on the hard-ish side though the promotion seems to fall into the new fad of misery as fun: "Adirondack Region in Northeastern New York is a recreational paradise of high rocky summits and breathtaking vistas – both of which factor into the sadistic mountain bike". Spartan races, the Tuff Mudder competitions, somehow the more it sucks, the more awesome it is. I find there is a big difference between misery and suffering and its the line between the big ride and the death march. Anyways, looking at the profile, I will spare you the hyperbole, its a 100km, some big climbs, better be in shape!

I politely declined Rob and Dave's offer of a front row spot. I had been out of action for 3 weeks with a bad pulmonary virus and had trained for just a week so I knew an easy start would be key. That said, it is a sizable road section to start and I started way too far back so I had to pass what seemed like a hundred people before I found a group who knew how to ride in a pack.

I tried to go to the spot where matching shorts/jerseys faded to fanny packs.

 The first climb is a staircasing dirt road that is a nice warmup before the next big climb, Jay Mountain I believe. It was a perfect ribbon of fresh tarmac that was several kilometes long with 2 or 3 sections of 15 to 18%. You know, I enjoy climbing with proper gearing but I worried about my colleagues as there seemed to be a few dudes going red real early. If the death march starts at km 30 of 100 yer in trouble. The death march can only begin with (at most!) 20% of the ride left or suffering becomes irredeemable misery. Less than that and misery disappears upon finishing and you think, well that was great, it didn't suck at all! Getting to the rest stop I realized this was a race as people were pretty much doing the musette pass off of food and water with no stop.

The mid way rest spot was manned by a large group of people with developmental disabilities. They were awesome and treated the rest stop handoff like it was an olympic event.
 The course is an out and back with a section of singletrack at the midway point, so on the way back the monster dirt descent became a monster dirt climb. I looked up at a stream of hike a bikers including the guy with Livestrong shorts, 'Dopers Suck' jersey and no hint of irony. I spared any a**hole comments as he was a very nice fellow and seemed near death. I was happy to clear this climb but started to feel 'a bit weird'. As it says, its 54 of 108 km climbing so there was no flat sections and between each descent and climb were lots of little ramps that on a hot hot day take their toll.

Country roads take me home please.

I promised myself I'd ride at photo taking pace. Poor Blackberry, it really is a solid phone with a great camera.

So yeah, death march. It is a bit of an overdramatic metaphor as comparing well off people on expensive bikes to the forced march of prisoners is a bit much. I mean you can always call your wife and promise dinner in Wakefield (done it twice) or even call CAA bike assist. But nontheless, its a sliding scale and after the 3rd climb I felt pretty tired, then a bit weird, and by km 90 a little tingly which I always worry means I am going to have a stroke. I drank a million bottles so dehydration wasn't an issue but at km 90 the death march had begun. Which is ok, the homing beacon was on and I knew the final climb was mostly hike a bike and could easily bypassed by going left insterad of right. Chalking it up to poor course design, I skipped on the loop back around Whiteface and make a detour to Bud Light Lime and roast chicken. Considering my abbreviated training regime, it was 95km enough. Anyways, beautiful course, closed roads, terrific organization and friendly locals out in force. They really should cut out the hike a bike and use the trails on Whiteface but it seems like the Leadville series consider walking your bike to be part of the 'epic' experience whereas I consider it hiking.

A little John Constable in New York state.

Sweet little mountain river
                               Aztek! Lots of camping along the river.

Pastoral scenes and pervert vans

Motos! So pro!

Bikes, well as they say, you 'could' do it on a CX bike, but there are several sections that would suck. I chatted with a guy on a CX bike and he seemed a bit forlorn about his bike choice as he spun out on each dirt climb. I don't mind a 29er on the road at all so to me its a 29er course. Thanks to Rob for helping me set up the Ghost. It rode superbly and this was the ride I had in mind when I got it. Tall Tree colours were a coincidence, please don't sue me.