Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Then til now

I'll try and do a recap on what's been going on since my birthday from how much I can remember, more on that in a bit.

So after giving 'er for a couple of days I had to settle right back down in the books because exams were right around the corner. The weekend before exams was my best weekend for training this off-season, mtb ride in the hood on Friday with De Cal, I rode out to Jordan Saturday morning with plans to ride with the junior SpiderTech team but apparently I was a few minutes late. I stuck around for about half an hour in case they were still coming but nope, I was late. Sunday I hit the trails again but this time with running shoes, great trail run with Al Deschamps and Molson. Monday I was back at the hood again with De Cal doing some secret Frostbike training.

Since then I haven't been back on the bike, jusy burried in the books and going on some good hikes with the dog. Rides, hikes and study seshions have been fueled by pitas and espresso. Of course among other things because studying always makes me hungry. My first exam was Tuesday morning and my last one Saturday night, they all went really well even my Saturday night exam that had me somewhat stressing ended up being one of the easiest ones. All week I was looking forward to a good ride Sunday morning before hockey but the game was at 1 so that ment for a somewhat early wake up, well that didn't happen because everyone knows what goes down the night after your last exam.

That brings us to yesterday, oh boy let me tell you about yesterday. The day started off really shitty with another missed riding opportunity, I got out for a good hike with the dog. Went to school to try and sell my books, only sold one, made 60$, not too bad. Drove to the dentist office where my mom works to get my wisdom teeth pulled out, I was hoping for the gas mask to knock me out but apparently I was getting conscious sedation instead. They gave me those 2 little blue pills and the sunglasses, I waited and waited, 30minutes later still nothing. They gave me a shot of something that started with a Z and another one of those blue pills crushed under my tongue so it would get abosrbed quicker. A little while later, still nothing, another one crushed under my tongue and the Dr. came in to do his thang.

You'd think I'd be out cold with double the recommended dose of the knock-me-out special and a shot of some stuff that was supposed to relax me and help the blue pills absorb, but no. They say not to eat a few hours before because the pills work better and the only thing I had was toast about 6 or 7 hours before that, it's not like I'm a big guy, maybe the doctor went for the cheap drugs, I don't know. The only thing I do know is that I was fully alert when he was hammering, slicing, and pulling away in my mouth. I got another thing done too, forget the name and don't feel like looking it up but he burned off two muscles just inside my lip because they were pulling and causing recession of my gumline. The smell that the burning created wasn't very pleasing I must say.

When I got up from the chair I had a hard time finding my balance but other than that I was fine and alert, got home and don't remember much except for fighting the worst headache of my life all night because I refused to take a T3 with the fear of an OD after all the shit they gave me at the office. So now I'm sitting here, in a decent calorie deficit because eating sucks right now, trying to munch on some apple pie to get something in my stomach. I know I'm not right when I have to force myself to down some apple pie, especially during the holidays.

Exam/final grades should be posted up soon, so should the 2011 road o-cup schedule so those are 2 things to look forward to... oh yeah and CHRISTMAS!

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Birthday present

So big 19 today, no big deal you know.

Got a present from Chico this morning here, seems a bit better than last year but the provincial champs are way out in September, second weekend, right after Green Mountain which I'm planning on racing, maybe in the S1 cat, who know's, we'll see how she goes. Haha that rhymed.

I checked the schedule for the Canada Cups as well and it's possible that I'll be racing the first 2 Canada Cups which are in Québec on back to back weekends. I have lots of family that live close to both the venues that would be happy to see me for a week or 2. Or I could be doing road races those weekends, we'll see what falls on which date. I'll defenitely be racing the local stuff, Frostbike should be a good party, hopefully there's a Tour of Pelham this year, CDMBR and hopefully the Lake to Lake if there are no road races on that day. The weekend after L2L is National's and since it's in Burlington I'll be racing that fe sho so I'd like to do a tough S1/2 road race the weekend before to get ready for it.

My focus this year for road is going to be sprinting, I'm pretty heavy for a cyclist considering my height (5'10'' ~175ibs.) so maybe I can put that weight to good use this season in the sprint or a solid leadout for a teammate. The end of the season will probably be the same as this year but having the xc provincials in the mix, Paul's, Marathon Champs, Squeezer then cross time.

That's the rough idea for the season right now, things will change by the start of the season no doubt. I'm getting pumped for next year already, I realise I haven't done any posts on cycling since cx national's so I'll talk about my training for December. I've been trail running/hiking and mountain biking and sometime tomorow I'm going to stop by the school to get a gym membership so I can start pumping some iron and swimming. Some days I get super motivated and do some core and other days I sit on my ass and eat alot. I play hockey on Sunday afternoons, nothing serious, just the beer leagues with paps.

My goal for the month is simply to establish a good, regular training routine with cardio stuff 6 days a week, weight lifting 3 days and have some sort of core/stretching routine on a (almost) daily basis. Maybe I'll even get one of them foam rollers I've been saying I would get since one of the first mtb o-cups this year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

No title

I guess I clicked "new post" on Nov.25 and that window has been minimized until today...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It took a while, but here it is

So last I left off I was talking about how the increase in red blood cell count would increase the potential amount of oxygen your blood can carry at a given time, would this increase VO2Max? Theoretically it should right? Noah provided a good short reading from JAP in the comments of the last post on the trainability of VO2Max, maybe a good post for next semester when I'm taking the 2P09 physiology class.

The importance of red blood cell count is pretty easy to understand, a red blood cell has a pigment called hemoglobin that has a heme (iron) component responsible for the red coloration of the blood as well as the color of what we excrete after it's broken down and a globin (protein with 4 polypeptides) component. The oxygen binds to the iron component and the amino acids of the polypeptide component bind CO2 to be carried away from the tissues and out by way of the lungs. There are 4 heme components per red blood cell and each one can carry one molecule of oxygen, when oxygen is bound to hemoglobin it becomes an oxyhemoglobin. The reason that carbon MONOxide poisoning is so dangerous is because the iron of the hemoglobin has a higher affinity to carbon monoxide than it does to oxygen, the hemoglobin will pick up carbon monoxide and it will take up one of the 4 spots it would have for oxygen. The more carbon monoxide that a red blood cell picks up, the less oxygen it can carry, you're slowly suffocating yourself.


So, more red blood cells means more oxygen can be carried in the blood at a given time, which means more fuel for the working muscles and because road and mountain bike racing require big aerobic efforts and use up quite large quantities of fuel, the more oxygen they have at their disposal the better. How can we get more of those little red things? A red blood cell is also called an erythrocyte and the production of erythrocytes is called erythropoiesis. There are cells in the red bone marrow with receptors for a certain hormone, when this hormone reaches those receptors it stimulates the cells to transform, multiply, and synthesize reticulocytes secreted into the blood and eventually (1-2days) it loses its remaining polyribosomes and becomes a mature erythrocyte. It would make sense that the hormone would be called erythropoietin (EPO), it's secreted by the kidneys and liver when it sense a state of hypoxemia; a deficiency of oxygen in the blood stream. The reason for the lack of oxygen could be from a number of things, but when you're exercising hard and blood can no longer keep up with the large oxygen demand of the tissues they enter a state of oxygen deficiency called hypoxia. When there is less oxygen in the air (lower partial pressure), such as at a higher altitude, the kidneys are already sensing a state of hypoxemia even before training begins and the body adapts by increasing hematocrit, or red blood cell count, to accommodate the needs of the body's tissues.

As you all know, for some, EPO doesn't come solely from the kidneys and liver, you can call these people blood dopers, although they aren't the only kind. Everyone has heard the famous quote from Dr. Ferrari that "EPO is as safe as orange juice", well not that I'm pro-doping in any way whatsoever but from a physiological point of view he's right. EPO will increase hematocrit, or how much of the blood do erythrocytes make up, and therefore make the blood thicker and harder to pump, but unlike the lungs, the heart is trainable and can overcome this disadvantage. The heart is trainable because it consists of a thick layer of myocardium, or muscle of the heart, that can increase the strength of each contraction, the ventricles stretch more each time they dilate and the more they stretch the stronger the contraction because it has more blood to eject. An endurance athlete should have a low resting heart rate because, at rest, the heart can supply the body's needs in fewer beats in one minute than it could if it wasn't trained. Also, drinking more water will make the blood thinner. Although EPO is safe, it's not like you can take as much as you want without any bad effects because too much of anything, even orange juice, can have negative effects.

Orally ingesting EPO isn't the only way to raise hematocrit, when you're testing to see someone's hematocrit you have to remove a sample of blood and spin it in a centrifuge. Once the plasma has been separated from the formed elements you can remove the formed elements and re-inject them into the blood stream. Another very popular method of blood doping is to have a training camp for an extended period of time at high altitude and the "athletes" will get many tests done to keep checking their red blood cell count, the higher the count the better the blood. However, they also have to make sure that the level does not exceed the legal limit set by the UCI which is 50%, on average a person's hematocrit will be roughly 45%. This isn't a relatively large increase but a 5% gain makes a HUGE difference when it comes to endurance training and racing. Once the team "doctors" are satisfied with the number, they remove the blood and store it at the proper temperature, those clear bags in the fridge contain red liquid gold when you're 14 days into the Tour and every energy source in your body is being depleted as you speak. A fresh bag of quality blood is more than the body could ever ask for.

So, maybe after reading this you feel like doping, if that's the case then I'm very sorry but you were a cheater at heart anyways so I take that back because I'm not very sorry at all. Either way, having proper knowledge on blood doping and knowing exactly how to do it is one thing, the equipment involved is expensive as hell, it's very time consuming, it has to be done properly each and every time with absolutely no error in execution. Think about a screw up like giving person x's blood that is type A to person y who has type B blood, yeah, not good. BUT I can tell you that proper nutrition can help to increase red blood cell production; of course there's iron seeing as it's the reason the blood is red so must be kind of important, also, vitamin D and folic acid promote rapid cell division and DNA synthesis and there's vitamin C and copper that are cofactors for some enzymes that synthesize hemoglobin.

SOURCES: PEKN 1P90 course notes & Physiology and Anatomy 5th Edition by K.S. Saladin

Friday, November 19, 2010

The time has come

I told myself that the day I couldn't walk my dog over to the park, play, and come back without feeling out of breath would be the last day that I would be totally physically inactive. Well, today I walked in the door with my head down as I tried to hide my deep breathing, so why am I out of breath? You've heard it just as often as I have "I could hardly breath" or "my lungs couldn't take it anymore". Well, although that is how you FEEL, it is not what is occuring from a physiological standpoint. Your lungs are providing your body with enough oxygen but due to reasons such as nitrogenous waste build up in your muscles, the oxygen being delivered to your muscle tissues is insuffice. Even with no metabolic by-product build up, you're feeling out of breath because your tissues are depleted of oxygen, not because you aren't breathing hard enough. So, it's not that YOU are out of breath but your tissues are out of breath so to speak.

You're going to feel as though if you can just inhale a little more air you'd be able to keep the effort or take it up one more knotch, you're breathing harder and harder as you ramp up the effort but no matter how hard you breath you're still feeling out of breath, don't try and take deeper breaths. Breathing rate and strength will increase from sympathetic stimulation triggered by insuffice oxygen (fuel) being delivered to the tissue, so long as your breathing isn't abnormal then you're fine.

Why can't the lungs be trained? Because the lungs are not muscles, plain and simple, think about it, if your lungs were able to take in more air then they would need to get bigger, if they were able to get bigger then they would have the potential to outgrow the cavity in which they lie. You can argue that the muscles involved in respiration can be trained, notably, the diaphragm, external and internal intercostals, and the transverse abdominus during forced exhalation. But, these will not increase your vital capacity (amount of air you can inhale and exhale during maximal inhalation and exhalation), they MAY be able to increase the force at which the air enters the lungs but not the amount of air. This would have very, very little, if no significant effect on performance because the diaphragm and intercostals don't have a hard time inflating a couple of bags with air to begin with anyways.

If your lungs are taking in enough oxygen then why are your tissues not getting enough? Well, as I mentionned previously, it could be a build up of metabolic waste that is inhibiting exchange and overall muscle function for other reasons that can become a whole new discussion of their own or your blood isn't able to bring your muscles enough fuel. Therefore your tissues are in a state of hypoxemia and a message is sent from your brain to your heart telling it to increase cardiac output because increasing blood flow is how your body increases the rate of nutrient delivery. Vessels that do not supply your working muscles become constricted to increase blood flow to the muscles that need it most, this is why if you were lying on the couch and you were to get up and do some sort of intense physical activity right away if would feel like your lungs are about to collapse.

VO2Max will come into play for delivering enough oxygen to the working tissues as well because it's the effeciency of O2 uptake, this is not trainable either. If you're VO2Max is as high as Trevor's then you don't have to stress yourself out about it but if it's somewhat low, no worries, there are ways to overcome it. Most importantly, increasing red blood cell count, or how much oxygen is being transported in the blood and makes its way to the tissues in need.

So, how to we increase red blood cell count? Well, that is also a whole other discussion and within the next couple days I will post up the process of producing red blood cells and the legal and illegal ways of going about doing it.

*Note: I am by no means an expert on physiology but I do think I have a pretty good understanding of what I've learned so far, feel free to add to or argue what I have written*

Friday, November 12, 2010

Crunch Time

Every semester there is one week that is just rediculously overloaded with stuff to do, well that happens to be next week for me. Three big midterms worth about 20% each (different classes of course) in four days, plus a 10 page project I've yet to start and some French work thrown in there. It could have come at a little better time, like say next week so I can do one more race this weekend to attempt to end the season on a somewhat high note but at this point it seems pretty much impossible.

On top of all the work due next week I picked up a shift Saturday night because this season and schooling has left me with roughly 87 cents in my bank account, so not only do I not have the time but I don't have the money either to race this weekend. My funds wouldn't have lasted me through the season if it wasn't for the support from my rents, Chown, Liberty! and many more people who have helped me here and there along the way so big thanks to all of them, you know who you are.

I which I could say something like "well, it's time to relax and sit on the couch for a few weeks before I start getting back into things" but it's more like: Well, it's time to go ape shit for the next couple weeks to try and get all my work done while trying not to OD on caffeine then I can relax for a bit while I wait around for my 19th birthday! Then it's go time for a few days then I've got some finals to study for, so far it looks like I might hit 180-185 by the end of December, maybe I'll try and loose a few of those pounds before 2011 race season comes around, but who knows, the only off-season goal I've set for myself so far is doing the Belly Buster challenge at M.T. Bellies, many brave men have tried and failed, I've just got to focus on building up the courage and going for it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CX Nationals

Well, not much to report on this one. I thought I was feeling alright the week leading up to it, the course was pretty quick so I liked that, it was a good thing I met up with Chown before the course pre-ride because he passed me a rear wheel, big thanks for that.

I was called up first row because I registered early, felt pretty good at the line but when the gun I went I just seemed to go backwards. From there on it was just falling further and further behind until I was one of the last guys, I got pulled just before the start/finish on my second last lap. He wouldn't have caught me but the 80% rule was in effect, I was happy to be done. Not sure what's going to happen this weekend, I would really like to hit up the KB race but I have 3 mid terms next week starting Monday so a solid few days of studying will be needed.

Huge props to Perry for his National Title.

My tubular tire still isn't reglued from when I rolled it at Parma in warm up so I need to get on that before this weekend for sure if I'm going to race. Tomorow could be a hard effort in the dark with the St.CCC folks, should be fun.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Parma CX

Opted out of racing in the blizzard and did a race across the river instead, it was also the state champs so I figure some good competition would be out. Kind of the same field as Cobb's Hill, but a few more good guys.

Headed out from De Cal's with his awesome parents in good time and arrived at Parma with plenty of time before outr 2:45 start so we shot the shit with watt and moote while watching McCarthur destroy the SS race and doing pretty good on a geared rig. Got changed into some some sweat pants and a lumberjack jacket for warm up, rode around some trails in the park with AD and did a few laps of the course before the start. Oh yeah, I also had two unfortunate incidents, I rolled a tubular and the other one I don't want to talk about.

The course could have been a little longer and maybe had a few more "cross" features, the stairs carved into the hill was pretty cool and so were the off-camber sections around a tree, both rideable but the second one was quicker to dismount and do a Tarzan swing around the tree. But other than those it was just a few turns, a couple straights, a couple barriers and some gravel. Our race ended up being 12 laps and the winner was most likely well under an hour, definitely the shortest cross course I've ever raced in my long career as a cross racer.

I got a call up so that was pretty sweet, lined up outside ride, I was feeling the hole shot today and actually got er. Motored through the little off camber turn before going up and had a tiny gap but shut down by the time I turned my head back. I got cut off by a few guys who really wanted to get out front for some reason and just kept moving backwards from there. Got dropped real quick by AD and Lance, then settled in train with Roden and Craig. We were working good at one point and closing in on Lance. I was getting a little tired and took the barriers for granted, hopped the first one and didn't even get the wheel up for the second one and over the bars I go, wasn't too bad though. Lost the 2 guys and couldn't get back to them by the end, oh well, it was fun. It was even snowing a little at one point.

Before the race I really wasn't feeling it, but after a massive coffee from McD's, riding some cool trails around the park and seeing a massive buck running through a corn field jumping about 6 feet in the air as he ran for the trees I was ready to go. I wasn't feeling too bad at the beginning at all, just couldn't seem to ride my bike. No matter how hard I was pushing I was just being too inefficient and steadily moving backwards, the train with Roden and Craig would have been awesome to stay on for the rest of the race, maybe we would have even reeled in Lance.

Huge thanks to Rob for the wheel after I rolled my tub, Moote was ready to pass one as well so that's just awesome. And of course to De Cals' parents for everything from the drive to an amazing post-race Italian feast. Our small group of Canadians did really well and had the best cheers by far. Maybe I'm going to put in more than 2 hours on my bike this week and hopefully have the form to battle it out for U23 Nationnal Champ, oh yeah, there might be a few other guys there that might be a little faster than me. Or alot faster and there's no chance in hell that I can beat them unless both their pit bike and race bike explode to pieces, whatever.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kelso Cross

Woke up to a perfect day for some cross racing; warm(ish) and muddy. I wasn't too sure how mud factor would play out because I had never done a cross race in the mud before, I guess it went alright.
Same start to the day, only I arrived at De Cal's a little earlier and we got smaller coffees, loaded up the SUV and we were off. Got to Kelso with plenty of time to get ready and cruise around for a bit, we hopped on Saturday's course and followed the tracks, I was first to crash then De Cal went down. Cruised around some more and got lined up front row on the outside, I had joked before that I wanted the hole shot, but then you're front row and there's nothing in your way it seems very possible. GO, nailed the start and was even with Chown, he could have been agressive and been first out of the corner but he told me to go so I went for it and started hammering up the climb in the lead. It didn't take long for him and Hughes to come flying by.
From there it was just moving backwards until I found a comfortable pace, then I realised that it was a one hour race, there is no comfortable pace! That's the whole point. Oh yeah, and De Cal motivating me to grab his wheel after he had dropped me helped as well. So the second paved climb I attacked but only Kevin Black stuck with me, not what I wanted, but no big deal. We kept hammering and next thing I knew I was in a train with Kevin and Marco Li and we were catching Peter Morse, we made contact on the first paved climb but by the second one he was gone.
That brings us to about 3 to go, there's a soupy sweeping left hand bend at the top of the course around a pavillion, there was nothing too hard about it but I started taking a few more risks to hang with Li and Black so I can attack them on one of the climbs and hopefully get away. I was taking the turn relatively quick and down I went, head first to the ground, good thing it was soft mud or I might have knocked myself out. Instinct is to grab your bike and go and figure it all out when the dust settles, the only thing wrong was that I was a little dizzy and didn't realise that I was kicking about a foot away from where my pedal was to clip in.
The rest of the race was spent chassing but no matter how hard I went it seemed like they just kept pulling away. Crossed the line in 8th, not bad, 6th would have been better but I was trying to ride beyond my ability to hang with them and crashed, sometimes she doesn't go. Even though I was climbing better than them I was just too inefficient around the stakes and using up too much energy blasting out of every corner just to try and hang on.
Big thanks to De Cal's rents for the drive and professional number pinning. And to everyone who stayed and cheered us on through the greassy course, especially Rob Watt who had one hell of a sprint racing me up the first paved climb on the last lap, that's exactly what I needed.
Huge props to Chown for owning the race right from the start, should be a good time chassing him around Firemen's Park tonight.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Provincials

Munchin out on some apple pie right now, gettin the glycogen stores back up for possibly another performance tomorow at the same place.

So a pretty solid race finally, I'm happy with it, it could have gone a little better when we got there though but whatever that's the way she goes. The morning was a little rushed as usual but I got to casa De Cal in good time and we hit up Starbucks for a massive coffee before heading to Kelso. Got there and noticed that the course had more than a bit of climbing but the turns looked nice and flowy. Watched Perry crush the Junior field, it was too easy for him so I tried to throw him off his game, might have worked a little.

The pre-ride was pretty good, 2 or 3 laps and some cruising around before going to the start line. Second row wasn't so great for the start but things got pretty sorted out by the end of the lap, I was sitting in around 16th through the first lap and moving up pretty good. I kept it pretty steady the entire time, gaps were closing slowly but surely and I just kept the pace high when I came by someone and rode away. I ended up closing in on Hughes and we were together for a half lap or so, he passed me going over the barriers and I watched him ride away. Stafford had a mechanical so there were only 3 espoirs left in front of me, I closed the gap on Preston and Marco Li and went by them. I couldn't shake Preston then he passed me and opened a small gap again. I had to close it when De Cal started calling me names for slowing down only because of some lower back pains, I had no choice but to suck it up.

I had a good boost with 3 to go and passed Preston and Kyle Douglas on one of the climbs shortly after the run-up and rode the rest of the race with Marco Li. I thought I had the podium spot locked but when I saw Stafford flying a few turns back I knew it would take one hell of an effort to hold him off. I picked up the pace but he still caught me no problem, I rode with him for a bit but couldn't hold the pace and he was gone. I put in a good dig at the end because I was feeling pretty good, too bad there was no one to sprint with.

I'm about 85% sure I'll be racing tomorow, I have yet to do a cross race in the mud so that should be a fun time. I was going to pass on it because of school work but I was convinced to get on that tonight to free up some time tomorow for some cyclocross fun.

Huge thanks to De Cal for the drive and even though the authorita did not let him participate he was still super pumped and motivating me when I was starting to fade, I'm going to hire someone to heckle me while I'm racing, but no pay because I'm pretty darn broke.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Toronto UCI

Well, another botched go at cyclocross, oh well, I learned how to remount a cross bike the right way so no more scooter pushing!

Day 1 went a little smoother than day 2, my start position was pretty good after a guy on the left couldn't clip in and held quite a few people up. At one point I was right behind Watson, so he was held up big time. Once the pack got sorted out I found myself pretty far back and lower back pain had already kicked in by the end of the first lap. I rode with De Cal for a while but him and John Roden eventually rode away from me, about a minute later we were pulled. Frattini was coming up on us quick, I knew from the start this was innevitable.

Had an awesome dinner at De Cal's Saturday night, the morning of day 2 was much calmer than the morning of day 1 when me and paps were driving around the wrong side of Centennial Park looking for the race. I got in a few warm up laps before the start, I liked this course alot more, it was longer but it was much easier to carry some speed through. Start was a little shaky but there were plenty of sections to pass up ahead, hopping the barriers I somehow managed to kick the cantilever undone, it was the back one so I had to pull over because it would be pretty sketch with only a front break. Chased from dead last for a while, start moving up then managed to pick up about 40 feet of tape, it got nice and ravelled in the cassette. Chased again for a while, started riding with Kiernan O. but ran out of time and Frantini came by me in the sandpit.

The weekend was a great experience racing in a stacked field, I'll give'r another go this weekend at Provincials.

Big thanks to the De Cal's for the drive and fooood. More than one o because it was alot of food.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cobb's Hill

Another beautiful day in October for some cyclocross action, headed to Rochester with Aly and Neil Armstrong and their future-physicist son Zander. Neil was racing at 12:30 so that gave me enough time to scramble around trying to get my front brake problem sorted out before the start, good thing Moote was there to help me out big time. Thanks bud.

After a few laps I got lined up and was feeling alright, it was a course that suited me big time but during the pre-ride I really wasn't feeling it at all. I found some motivation and we were off, settled into 4th in the lead train and started to come around a bit, heading into the singletrack the pace was a little slow and I thought I would actually move up. Well, long story short, 4 laps later I had dropped down to 8th or so and was actually thinking my lower back wouldn't make it for the remainder of the race. I went from feeling confident enough for a spot on the podium to hoping the leader would come around soon so I could do one lap less, finally with 2 to go he came around so that became my last lap.

Not my day at all, hopefully this isn't the point in the season where it's all downhill from here, I've got to stop with the negative thinking. OK, so looking for a sweep next weekend, rack up some UCI points and have the form come around in time for the World Cups overseas where I should be able to land a spot on a pro team, no problem.

Thanks again to Neil for the drive and everything, and to Zander for the entertainment.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ZM Oktoberfest Cross

This is what a race report sounds like when I didn't wear my argile socks... Or barely put any glue on my tubular, one of those two.

Headed out to Toronto in the pouring rain with a pretty bad cold and a big cup of coffee, I really wasn't looking forward to racing once we got around Hamilton and it was raining even harder and there was quite the wind, being new to cross I'm still a little soft for the rough weather. I figured that the streak of dry courses had to come to an end sooner or later since it's fall in Ontario, but when we got to Mississauga it was pretty much bone dry, still too cold for my liking. I grabbed a breakfast omelette from subway and crossed the street to top off the breakfast of champions with some carbs and another coffee from Tim's. I chilled around the St. Catharines CC tent while I watched the earlier races, Etzl totally destroyed the junior race, Visser is a sandbagger and Neil rode so hard he knocked himself out. All in all, great riding from members in the St. Catharines CC.

I threw on way too many layers for my course pre-ride and by the time I got lined up I was pretty much sitting in my own personnal sauna, 5 minutes later it was turning into a fridge; moisture on the body doesn't go good with cold. Start was pretty sketchy, pretty much a funnel, good way to spread guys out I guess. I was pretty far back, myself and De Cal were stuck in a train of guys taking the turns pretty slow and it was a pretty hard course to make some good passes so we were stuck until it opened up. I moved up before the start of the big steep climb and rolled the rear tubular before I even started climbing, ran to the pits from there instead of simply rolling it back on and riding easy to the pits, the whole thing was off so maybe it wouldn't have stayed on anyways. Good thing Neil was there to lend me a hand and his wheel so I can get going before Stafford came around.

Once I got going again I was just out there to have a good time and get a good workout in, it was a really fun course but most were saying it wasn't really a "cross course", I haven't done nearly enough races to have an idea of what that might be, but I can say it was pretty different from the other ones I've done. On the third or second last lap I started to ride harder and pick up time where I can; like running the log hop and the sand in the playground and actually stayed with the guys that were coming around for a bit. The last lap was a battle with the second placed M1, he took me right at the line.

So not as successful as Saturday but cross is fun so it was a good day anyways, big thanks to Neil for the drive and for being the pit-man for the local guys in the 1 oclock race. He was riding pretty strong before his incident, oh well, shit happens, at least the form is there. Chown had a pretty solid ride from what I saw when he blew by me, results show De Cal didn't do so bad for being in total off-season mode.

I just finished munching out after some solid cx training, hammering on a slick course is an awesome way to clear up the sinuses before bed. Steve DeBoer has set up an awesome cross course at a top secret location where no miserable people are giving us shit for riding on the grass that their dogs like to shit on. Neil and myself have a good system going now for Tuesday and Thursday cross nights, I get scooped from school as long as I provide the coffee, so big thanks to him for that as well.

First of many Unit Exams tomorow, should be awesome.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Romp in the Swamp

Crossed the river for a cross race put on by Handlebars at Buffalo U, pretty sweet campus, too bad starbuck's doesn't take monopoly money. I started the day with a pretty greasy breakfast from the gas station we met at in NF before hopping in the Canadian Cyclist magazine van with their big-time editor Dan Dakin. No delay at the border so we got to the course early enough for some awesome free pastries while watching the M2 and Women's race, good rides Neil, Aly and Leslie. It was great to be able to sit in one spot and see a huge chunk of the course, it was too cold to walk around anyways at that point.

Got in three or four pre-ride laps after them and lined up at the fron on the outside, this was the first time I can feel a really fast heart rate at the start. I took the hole shot but it didn't take long for Chown to come around, I got in front before the final set of turns before the start/finish to take the first lap prime, oh yeah, no first lap prime. So I started off a bit fast for no reason and started loosing some ground to Peter and Nathan for the next lap, I was towing Greg around the course for I didn't mind because the gap wasn't getting too big from the leaders. Peter rolled a tubular and Chown just sort of rode away effortlessly so it was now a race for second while trying to hold off the others.

Nothing too much exciting happened until the last lap, I had led the back stretch (one of the only parts of the course where drafting was a big advantage) for the last 2 or 3 laps so it was his turn. He took it really slow to conserve something for the sprint but for the first time in pretty much ever, I waited and waited until just before the pavement that brings you to the last set of turns. I took off and saw I had a good enough gap to take the sprint, I pushed really hard for the sprints anyways because it's fun.

Awesome food afterwards, amazing prizes, only 30 bucks race fee, how can you go wrong? I won some Avid Shorty Ultimates, and even some cash. Stopped by Handlebars afterwards with Chown and met the guys I've been racing for all year, sweet shop and good bunch of workers there. Big thanks to Dan for the drive up and Chown for the drive back and to everyone who helped put on this event.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The time is gone, the season's over, thought I'd something more to say

The leaves have pretty much all changed colours and have already started to fall, the trails are no longer lines of dirt in the distance, now just a big cluster of leaves and branches. I've gotten into the swing of things for school and the cross bike is starting to come around thanks to a quick pit stop at Liberty! today (thanks). I've decided that the mountain bike race season is over for me, after an awesome night ride on Wednesday night with JF and the boys from Hamilton, I realised that I just want to enjoy what is left of the none-snow riding conditions before we get to that point in November-December where the trails are too wet to ride and we have to wait for the snow to cover them. I'll go hard Tuesday and Thursday nights on the cross bike and go for fun mountain bike rides when I have the time on other week days, so probably one a week.

I'll be doing the races listed on the right and possibly a few across the river until I have no motivation to go hard left, hopefully I can get a few solid races in before that. The only iffy thing about training this time of the year is that it's the easiest time to catch a cold because everyones immune systems weaken simultaneously with the drop in temperature and the strong presence of new bacteria and viruses because everyone is getting sick, causing a negative spiral of sickness until the right antibodies and macrophages are recruited. Hopefully the season doesn't have to end that way but if it does, so be it, that's just the way she goes. I'm being very careful by always wearing multiple layers on my chest and eating a whole lotta greens, to the point where I'm eating baby spinach right from the box like De Cal showed me at Elliot Lake.

So, what have I learned this year from road and mountain bike racing? Can anyone really boil it down to two or three things in point form? Not a chance, not if you want to be realistic anyways. Every ride, there are millions of synapses firing in your brain, new bridges/connections are being formed the whole time you're riding. You learn the whole time you're riding the same way you learn from every little thing you do during the whole day, it may not be obvious or even clear what you have learned, but you're learning. During rest, your brain can sort out and store everything you've learned in long-term memory, the more time you spend resting, the more the brain can thoroughly sort out and store. What you have just learned from your ride becomes a little part of who you are until it has been totally forgotten, if it ever does, some day down the road. So, what have I learned? Ride and learn, race and learn, that's the only way to get experience because experience isn't measured in how many years you've been racing or riding but instead how many hours you're logged in the saddle riding or racing during those years as well as the quality of those hours.

I went through a pretty rough patch this season in terms of motivation on the bike, I really didn't think I would keep racing right through September, I was ready to call it quits before Buckwallow and my performance at Buckwallow didn't help much for motivation even after taking a week off work by going on vacation prior to the race. It took a while for me to really realise the importance of rest in practice and not just in theory and the amount of rest needed relative to workload, there is still alot to learn. All things that I will carry over to next season and do right this time.

I'm not going to write a recap race-by-race, but I do want to touch on one race; the Squeezer. I was asking around after the race and nobody seemed to have seen my awful start, I thought for sure since I was closest to the sidewalk that's the first thing people would notice; everyone seems to be going forward except for that guy in black who's going backwards. Turns out, I have video evidence! Look for the last racer to go by the camera in the lane closest to the camera (sidewalk), if you're good, you can listen for the loud crunching/dinging noise as I go by.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Squeezer

The big local bash has come and gone, for me, it went a little something like this;

Start was awful, I got clipped in and dropped my chain about 20 times before I finally got going. I was pretty much in last and had to blow quite a few matches to catch back up to the back of the group. When we turned onto St Paul I took the far outside line, no brakes because if I slowed down I would need to stand and hammer to get going which would innevitably result in dropping my chain. I blew a few more matches to get much closer to the front and by the time we got on the gravel I was in a good spot. That turn is pretty slow though, so of course I lost pretty much all my spots when I kept dropping my chain trying to get up to speed. From there to the trail I just remember barely being able to breathe or see, ending up on the grass a few times as a result of this and just barely missing the big pile-up.

There we go, some trail, it was hard to keep up trying to spin in my little ring but I tried to keep it as smooth as I could. I forget who I was with but the guy leading our train was going super slow in Marv's new singletrack and myself, Wagler and Paziuk couldn't get by till the twisty open stuff before the first road climb. I hammered hard up that and we got a good group of 3 working together and another 3 or so hanging on to the back. I didn't mind working because we were gaining on the next bunch. Kept it smooth on the next set of trails and hammered up the second DeCew climb bringing only 2 with me. Some fast trails, road, more fast trails and next thing I knew I was with Etzy. Him, Jamie and myself were working on the road then I lost them in the trails not being able to stand and hammer out the bigger gears.

Mike from Long Sault was my carrot through Brock, along the creek and into Suzanne's. The gap stayed the same from 2 bridges until after Suzanne's, when Garrigan was closing in (he had a flat) I took it easy hoping to be able to grap his draft when he came by. Kind of worked out the same way it went for De Cal when he tried to grab Watson's wheel, I tried to gather up some motivation for a good sprint up the hill but with no one in sight there was nothing to bring out that epic effort where every single muscle in your body is flexed, mouth is open and inhaling is harder than breathing in Toronto.

Not ponying up the cash for a big ring might have been the wrong decision, but I couldn't bring myself to spending another 260 bucks on a freakin chain ring for the second time in a year, I just couldn't do it. Oh well, I'm already fired up for next year's race and despite the circumstances, I finished 18th... AGAIN. Another goal failed, but I'm happy with the effort I put in and I'm thinking a top 10 isn't unrealistic for next year, but I'm not one for long-term thinking so who knows?

Big thanks to everyone who helped put on such a great event and to Marv for building some more sweet trails, that guy is awesome.

Solid rides to De Cal and Etzl for top 10's, amazing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The night before the Squeezer

Rode the course today with De Cal, a good quick pace to open the legs up and ride the local trails one last time before we race them. I always get so pumped for this race, it's the biggest race I do during the year, so many people watching and being able to line up with all the top riders in the province from the cadets to the elites, it's sick.

It's time for bed, in 12 hours I'll be warming up then soon after it'll be go-time. It's gonna be a great race, I was hoping for some rain today to stick to tradition but a little change is always good I guess.

Plate number 14, now I gotta crack the top 15, hopefully under 1:15 as well. Took a look at the start list posted on the OCA website and the A1 wave looks pretty freakin stacked, hopefully she goes tomorow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh shit!

School work is starting to pick up, this year I'm doing things a little different than last year. Instead of focusing on riding before school, I'm going to actually put a little effort into my classes and see how that goes. Last year I got a little crazy with off-season training; fully dedicating myself trying to hit 24 hr weeks through November and December, not the way to go about doing things. This is the time to just relax, if I don't feel like riding or I know I've got alot of school work to do then riding is out of the question.

I love the Tuesday and Thursday night cross practices, but it's hard to find a ride there when my class finishes at 5 and cross starts around 6. Burgoyne is easier because the place is just down the hill from school, but both days it's French and my friend who has the same course drives me there in her brand spankin new Ford Focus, I don't even want to try to run the idea by her of throwing my greassy bike in there. The first one I drove myself, but not too long after that my sister drove the minivan into a hydro pole and knocked it over, she's fine but the van... not so much.

On top of that, the basement flooded yesterday because the hot water tank rotted out and water was running out of it all day. Brand new laminate flooring in and alot more stuff such as speakers and even the christmas tree are damaged and I don't even have to tell you what a pain in the ass and how corrupt the insurance companies are. Alright, I'm going to stop myself from ranting on about corruption, I'm pretty sure out of 40 hours or so of driving this year with De Cal, 30 was spent talking about corruption.

My classes this year are much better than last year because I've only got one elective this year and it's French, as in oouuuhh la bicyclette! One of my professors is the mother of one of the young guns in the club, the one and only Biran. Her class is growth and development, I call it child exercise physiology because that's what it is and it sounds alot cooler haha.

I'm going to start posting up some of the things I learn that have to do with exercising, unless you guys also want to hear about verbes and le complément d'agent, nah didn't think so.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh snap!

Since Paul's I've been pretty exhausted, especially before noon, so this morning's lecture from 8-11 wasn't the funnest thing in the world. There was no way I was getting on a bike Sunday, but I did play some hockey, the combination of fried legs and being super rusty because it was the first skate of the year made for an interesting game. I didn't ride Monday either only because I didn't have any time at all, it's been so nice out that it's a shame not to get out for at least a short spin.

I went straight from class to cross today, I was pretty exhausted but started riding around the park and felt much better. My legs were unusually sore considering how slow I was going but after 10 minutes or so I was able to finally shift up to the big ring. I found out there was a run-up on the course so I was heading to the truck in one of my smallest gears and next thing I knew my chain was in two pieces. I haven't had any problems at all with that chain then it just suddenly snaps in two places when I wasn't even hammering. Good thing we got some cool people like Conlon in the club who let me use his pit bike, that thing rode super nice. Thanks alot man.

Did 2 laps of a pretty tough course, then rest, then 2 more laps and have a close encounter with a man cutting across the course with his dogs. One would expect a sorry for such a gesture but instead I had the pleasure of receiving a nice warm f**k off. Then rest again and be told that there have been numerous complaints of destructive cyclists riding around causing alot of damage to multiple blades of grass and we needed a permit to be there, then one more all-out lap. I felt alot better than I thought I would during the efforts but I was faiding big time on the second lap, hopefully after another easy day I'll be tip-top at Thursday's cx practice.

I found out that although I might not have a natural talent for fixing my bike, I'm sure good at taking it apart. The only thing left on my road bike is the crankset/bb, I don't think I have the tools to take it off and I can't find anything online on how to do it. I'm hoping to get it all cleaned up, re-greased, re-cabled and re-bar taped before the end of the mtb season to free up the stand to get some work done on my cross bike. The saddle seems to be at the right spot now but needs to be raised a bit and the hoods need to be moved around and maybe a longer stem.

Got my Ambrosio Nemesis' in today, pics soon to come!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Paul's Dirty Enduro 100km

What an epic race, I can pretty much sum it up like that. There's nothing better in the world than nearly 100km of singletrack in one day.

Started off really slow, maybe too slow, but I remembered that the first 20km means nothing. I got caught by a couple guys and we rode together for a bit, they told me we were on perfect pace for a 7 hour finish time, I sure as hell didn't want to be riding that long. We were already 14km in, so I picked it up til the first feed zone. Topped up one bottle then headed off with a higher pace. Finally caught the lead female who was going really strong, I kept on going solo til the second feedzone with no one ever in sight. The only things keeping me on edge were the sounds of the forest that had me thinking someone was close by, but anywhere I looked I couldn't see anyone.

I arrived at the second feedzone feeling super fresh, Bretton Matthews and SS guy were just leaving. I stopped for a bit, took my arm warmers off and grabbed some fresh bottles, I even stayed for a PB&J sandwich and some banana and found out I was already 18 minutes behind the leader, which wasn't De Cal yet. I felt really strong so after I got rid of angry legs I picked up the pace. I only rode with Bretton and SS guy long enough to know they were from Midland, or Kitchener, I can't remember anymore and that SS guy's favourite band was from where I'm from before I rode away from them. I was riding strong and was hoping that someone would appear in the distance, but nothing. I heard the 60km start cheers and made my goal to hold off all of them, third feedzone and I'm still feeling strong, got some more PB&J, threw a banana in the jersey and kept on going hard. It was frustrating not seeing anyone and I had some stupid crashes just from losing focus.

I was hoping to either get caught or catch someone soon so the time went by a little quicker. Still no one close by when I got to the fourth feezone, I wasn't feelinf tired at all yet so I was hoping to be able to pick it up even more and have enough to finish strong. I tried picking it up and had to drop the pace within 10k or so, I got dropped by the 60k leaders and... ah man I can't remember what happened for the last 2 feeds but at the last one I was 15 minutes down from De Cal, that got me motivated but "motivation means nothing if you don't have the legs" as Lance has said. I had nothing left, it was discouraging how slow I was going but I was close to the end and was just hoping to hold my spot. Finished just ahead of JC from the 60k, apparently he was riding behind me for a while, I didn't notice.

I'm happy with just finishing, I was hoping for a top 5 but 6th is quite alright. It was just an accomplishment to finish, the course was amazing, the climbs were painfully long, the downhills were long and fast, the trails were flowy and endless, it was epic. The first 40k was the thoughest part and when we came through the strart/finish I thought we were going out for another lap of it. I'm glad we didn't. I'm already looking forward to next year, my arm warmers didn't make it back from the feed and a couple bottles, but it was worth it.

I knew De Cal would win it, I would have been surprised if he didn't, 18 minutes is a pretty commanding gap. I sense a new course record set next year. JC had a solid ride for being a bit out of shape.

Big thanks to everyone who helped put on such a great event, marking that much trail so well is no easy task. The draw prizes were great and the food was delicious, what a day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If you don't use it, you lose it

But, if you overuse it, you'll lose it too.

I'm talking about fitness of course. After my race at xc provincials I figured that that was my peak, along with Elliot Lake but misfortunes had me out of both races, but I feel like I'm still getting stronger as the weeks progress. It was hard to judge my fitness during the 2 weekends off racing using only the Tuesday nighters but I knew I wasn't loosing anything. Had confirmation of that on the weekend and I know that if I would have raced the marathon a little smarter or knew how to handle my cross bike a bit I could have done a bit better, but there are always millions of "what ifs".

I'm most likely being a little too cautious right now with training but I guess it's better than what I did in April. I couldn't get out of bed earlier than 11:30 today and when I was finally up it felt like I had only slept 4 hours, not a good day to train. It's almost 10 now and I'm pretty much ready for bed, maybe it's just my system trying to fight all the new bacteria that was introduced to my body during the first few days of school. Either way, it's all about learning, trying to figure out what the happy-medium is for myself when it comes to trying to maintain peak fitness, even just trying to figure out if you've peaked or are peaking. If I don't push hard enough then there will defenitely be some loss in fitness and I know all too well what happens when you push too hard.

So I was giving cross some thought, maybe I'll give it a good go and not just a go. I spent all season looking forward to the next one and having the "I just wanna get this one over with" attitude but now that I'm happy with how things are going I'm starting to look at things more from weekend to weekend. It saddens me to think of the whole season as a throw-away and how much fun I could have had if I would have trained alot smarter. It's an awesome feeling to be super-pumped for a race, do well in it, then before you're even recovered from it you're already so pumped for the next one. So I'll go hard for cross, I'm not going to invest nearly as much money as I have on xc and road, maybe it's just that I can't because it's all going to educational purposes at the moment but I'll gor hard from a training perspective. I feel like I've got alot left to give for this season and I won't be satisfied if I end it now.

Heading out to Port Hope tomorow with De Cal, apparently the conti breakfast at the hotel has a waffle machine, I'll be all over that. A 100k mountain bike race should burn at least 10 giant waffles, maybe I'll have 11 just to be sure. I know I don't have to say it but... stoked!

A few pics from Jump the Cheeseburger, courtesy of Dr. Cheung (ok, stolen from Flickr);

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mansfield Marathon Champs

Just finished my "Health and Physical Activity Promotion" course, the course title is pretty deceiving because I thought it would be something along the lines of how to make the proper bristel boards to encourage kids and not-so-in-shape people to exercise but it's not that at all. The professor is the ex-athletics director so he's got some pretty good insight on alot of things, he asked some pretty interesting questions today that get you thinking quite a bit. Makes the 3 hours go by a little quicker but I'm hoping my ass doesn't cramp up everyday from sitting in such a small chair for so long. Could be because of the race, oh yeah, the race.

So I arrived at De Cal's just before 7 and there was no time waisted getting packed up and gone, we were out of the driveway by 7. A few stops for this and that and we arrived at Mansfield, got a pretty sweet T and suited up to warm up. I found it funny how my warm up for this race was longer than my warm ups for the first o-cups at the beginning of the year, race and learn.

The start was pretty relaxed, my race almost ended very quickly when I tried to ride over the first bridge over a log and nearly ate it since it was as slippery as ice. The first hill was a hike but thankfully there wasn't much more of that, I stayed at a steady pace with no one around and slowly realled in the 2WE/3Rox train of Preston, Jamie and Cory. We rode together for quite some time, it was great to follow them in the trails because of how smooth they ride, we picked up the pace after the first feed zone because a couple SSers were catching up, can't have that. I still had a full bottle by the second feed zone and I remembered Kerton saying the 1st and 3rd weren't too far apart so I skipped it and kept riding. I was riding very smooth in the ST and going hard on the climbs, ended up realing in a guy who told me he was in 6th. Kept it steady and caught another guy from La Bici before the third feed zone so I thought I was in 5th. Right on.

Turns out I was 6th with 5th 2 minutes ahead, that got me pumped, a little too pumped maybe because I started going super hard on the DT and standing to hammer all the climbs, no one was in sight but I was hoping I can hold the pace and the guy in front was cooked. My legs were feeling great but I had to back the pace way down because of how sore my back was, upper and lower, it was awful. Coming towards the parking lot I was just happy I made it and kept my spot until we turned right and had to go up one of the biggest climbs and I saw Tim Carleton just ahead. I couldn't bridge, I was done, it was just a relief to make it to the top of the climb and crawl in to the finish alive.

I ended up finishing 6th with Tim under a minute ahead and 5 and a half minutes down from the winner. Huge props to De Cal for the win, he knew he had the win no matter what so he rode a few trails extra out there just to get some better training in for Paul's. After Sunday, I'm super pumped for Paul's, I'll have to hold back a little longer and maybe start out even slower, should be a good learning experience. Nothing much to do this week but empty the fridge and listen to some very smart people talk, maybe a ride or 2.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jump the Cheeseburger

I had a pretty good week leading up to this past weekend's races, Tuesday was the hilly course and it was pretty sweet hammering with dark clouds moving around and lightning a few miles away, looked like the big shitstorm was going to be unleashed, big disappointment. Wednesday was nothing, Thursday I rushed to get my cross bike together to make it to Chown's cross practice, I learned quite a bit in an hour or so, had a nice crash trying to take a sweeping bend too fast but it's all about learning. Friday was an easy spin on the cross bike after I attempted to tune-up the drivetrain, I've got to say, I didn't do too bad at all.

That brings us to 2 days ago, the Cowbell race called Jump the Cheeseburger for this year. Great event put on by Nathan Chown and a group of volunteers. I actually got to this race 3 or so hours early, I watched what I could of the S4/M3 race then got some spando on to ride the course, got in 3 laps before the next start, cheered on the M2s and women then got some more food and coffee before heading off looking for some singletrack. I found a couple trails but they were super short but still pretty fun. Got in another 2-3 laps before lining up.

I got clipped in pretty quick for the start and was sitting 4th going into the first corner, I thought I'd loose plenty of places quickly but then next time around I was sitting comfortably in 6th or so. I was focusing on riding the corners smooth and accelerating hard out of them, I wasn't burning any matches to pass people, just kept it smooth and waited for them to make mistakes. It worked out pretty good, gained and lost a few spots, I was doing real good at one point closing in on 5th then I started to get thirsty, really really thirsty. I was debating asking Rob Watt to throw me my bottle that was under his chair but I figured I would stick it out since we're not supposed to get a feed unless it's above a certain temperature so I gotta get used to racing thirsty for an hour or try something different before the race to stay hydrated.

Anyways, dropped down to 7th just behind Isaac Smith (big thanks to him for a bunch of St.CCC clothing) he rode away from me but I reeled him back in on one of the flat drag race sections just before the finish. I made a big mistake giving him the inside line on the last sweeping bend, he took it and got around me. That's alright, I probably would have lost the sprint anyways because when I tried to stand and hammer the chain was jumping in the back. OK, so I guess my tune-up still needs a little tune-up.

Big thanks to Chown for putting on such a sick event and for the cool prizes. Huge props to Robby Watt for his W, Wes for totally crushing the M2 field and Sara for coming 2nd in her first cx race ever. Rumour has it Chown won the sprint at the end but didn't take geometry in high school and painted the line crooked.

My cross bike needs a bit of work, function and position wise, before the next cross race which is about a month from now. After tomorow, I'm going to start taking apart my road bike, slowly of course, to clean everything and recable it. Last Tuesday nighter of the year, I'm hoping for a bunch sprint.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Feels like thanksgiving weather, smells like it too

Another windy day, solid ride, but no shakes when I got home, beauty. Cross season is almost here, as well as going back to school. It won't be so bad, I'll have much more energy to get out and ride because I won't be working all day and I've got some pretty interesting classes this year. First year I only had 3 classes that had to do with my major and the rest were all electives, I had stuff like philosophy and political sciences.

I haven't made any goals for cross, just looking to improve my handling skills and have a good time with it. It's also a good way to avoid getting fat and lazy, that's for December. I'm not sure how long I'll last before I burn out, it's been a long season, I'm guessig mid-Novemeber. Once I feel that I've got nothing left, that'll be the end of my season, hopefully all goes well until then.

What remains of the race schedule is pretty much finalized, there's a conflict between the fourth U-Cup and UCI Toronto, pretty sure I'm doing the Toronto race weekend. There's also a conflict with the third U-Cup and ZM Octoberfest cross race, that's a tough decision. After the Squeezer it would be nice to get right into cross but the U-Cup series is awesome and Dave does alot of work to keep it running, it would be a bummer to not get to do any this year. Either way, I'll be racing both those weekends, so it looks like the next weekend that I have off of racing will mark the end of the season.

Time to put on some loose pants for the fish fry/JF's big 4-0 birthday party, mmmmmmmmm fooooooood.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Change

Well, that has to have been in the top 5 most windiest rides I've ever done. Once again, I was late getting to the meeting point in Jordan so I spent the first part of the ride chassing. The only difference was that I was super late this time so the pack was nowhere in sight, oh, and there was alot of wind. I hammered in the headwind but never got out of my 39T, I took a few shortcuts and met up with them before Mountainview. My legs were there, but I felt like shit overall, when we stopped I couldn't stop coughin up some big loogs and they kept coming the whole way home. Once I was home I had the shakes and passed out on the couch for an hour, sweet, woke up and had a solid munch. My body doesn't cope well with pressure and temperatue changes, hopefully it's just the sudden change outdoors.

Riding in such a strong wind is a pain in the ass but you appreciate it once the ride is done because it gave such a good workout and you have an excuse for walking around the house like a zombie. Well, from the couch to the fridge and back. Oh, and I can't forget those rare times when the wind is at your back and you can ride at some awesome speeds, of course, it comes as a price.
I made my attempt at fixing my mountain bike, I've done all I could and it wasn't enough. Time to admit defeat and head on over to the bike shop, after a snooze and some more grub of course. Kill two birds with one stone and get my road shoes checked out, the cleets keep twisting on me even with lock-tite and having my foot pointed outwards kills my IT band.

Just watched José Hermida win the World Champs on the boob tube, not sure if it was live or not but it was a cool race to watch. Too bad for Schurter's mechanicals.

Good luck to De Cal tomorow, hopefully he makes his way back home with some paper. Also to Etzy, Hopky, and Perry at Green Mountain.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good late season riding

Since Thursday I got some pretty good riding done, starting with a mountain bike ride on Friday with De Cal. We hit up most of the trails in the St. Catharines area and even got on the Bruce Trail to climb up a small river before parting ways on the canal path. My mtb was working pretty horribly and I had no big ring, but other then that the ride was awesome. Nearly 5 hours of riding and a day off work, good start to the weekend.

Saturday was the hilly club ride, I was feeling awful and was late getting to the meeting point so I spent the first little while chassing the group down, good thing Hopkins dropped back to help me. I had almost nothing on the hills, Etzl was hurting pretty bad too so we crawled into Smithville together. No townline sprint. Sunday was completely different, flat and I felt great. The pace of the echelon kept picking up on the way in from Attercliffe until we reached a point where there were attacks thrown and 5 of us were left. The stretch to the townline sprint got pretty intense, haven't pushed that hard in a while.

Monday I had absolutely no strength after work, just munched out and slept. Last night was the flat Tuesday night course in North Pelham. I guess everyone was feeling pretty cooked because the pace was brutally slow, there were some decent attacks but nothing getting away for even a lap. The 10 laps felt pretty long after nearly puking twice from efforts, I actually squeezed out a half decent sprint on adrenaline alone, timing was way off though. I got a little motor pacing from my dad in the soccer mom mini van on the way home, great draft but I find a truck is better.

Today, again, not much energy. We just finished barn prep today, I was hoping for a day off tomorow to get in a mountain bike ride but I'll be working and I've still got some repairing to do on the mtb. My repairing usually results in a trip to the bike shop, so it'll probably be the TT tomorow.

I won't be doing Via Italia, I think one more weekend off racing would be wise. I'll be at the Marathon Champs and if that doesn't go completely wrong then I'll be at Paul's as well. I was thinking about my goal for the Squeezer this year, based on last year's results I'd have to beat Kinsie to do that, he was fourth U23 at Nationals. I think that's a little unrealistic, if it's a similar field then I'd be happy with a top 15. We'll see how she goes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Days off

Just finished cutting all the grass on the farm so I've got the next three days off before barn prep starts, what to do, what to do... ?

Monday I didn't do much at all but Tuesday I had a solid Tuesday nighter with the cadets and Chown. I was feeling somewhat alright after a day off, launched an early attack and had Perry and Hopkins with me in a hurry. We got away, Chown and Etzl joined us and we had a good thing going for the next 2 laps, after some attacks we were at the bottom of effingham and by the top I was completely cooked. Got dropped by my paps on the way home.

Last night I got out for an easy ride in the rain on some slick and rocky ATV trails with Nat, JF and a few guys from Beamsville, it was a good challenge just trying to stay upright on some trails. I wasn't too tired at work today but pretty sore, I'll take today easy and get a good stretch done in before bed time.

I'll get out for a solid mtb ride tomorow probably on the hood trails and do the club ride on Saturday, we'll see how she goes for Sunday. Good forecast for the weekend, sun and more sun, it'll probably rain...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Woodnewton XC Provincials

This was by far my best race performance of my life, just like last year, everything came around in time for provincials.

After a moderate paced lap and 2 quick laps with De Cal on Saturday I was starting to get a good feel for the course. The laps felt crazy short, doing a lap in 23:30 had us thinking sub 20min laps for the big boys for sure. We were staying at End of the Lane B&B about 15min away on Scugog Island, the place was sick. We ended up having the whole house to ourselves and enough food for a good week, too bad we were only there one night.

Sunday morning the weather wasn't too nice, but better than hot and humid. Having the course a little slick helped me out a bit since the tires I have mounted are the Rocket Rons and with tubeless I was able to run about 22 in both tires. We had a massive breakfast and got our minds warmed up with a few games of checkers while we had some coffee. Headed out to the course for 12:30 and got everything ready, big thanks to the Etzl's for letting me use the nut that goes at the end of a quick release, mine must have fallen off somewhere. Got in a good warm up and I wasn't feeling too bad at all.

Got in the pen a little early to get a spot up front, it's amazing how much better your start can be after a good warm up and lining up first or second row. I missed my pedals a couple times on the start but no worries, I made my way up to fourth on the false flat and eventually the lead before the first set of trails. This was the first time I've ever led an o-cup, hopefully not the last. I was feeling really good in the ST but not so much on the climbs, I would lead in the trails and Matt Ellis from esteem would pull up the climbs. We had a good thing going until Zach Tatem came blowing past us on a climb, I knew the only chance I had at beating him was on the climbs and if that's where he was passing me, he was gone. So now it was a race for second, I was just pumped to be in contention for the podium.

Lap 2 I felt awful, a mix of feeling really tired and wanting to puke, Matt and I were still going at it, I knew if I started to feel better I's be able to drop him on one of the climbs because I was able to keep his pace even though I felt like shit. I focused on riding the trails as smooth as possible to save up enough energy to get away. This lap ended up being my slowest.

When lap 3 came around I was feeling great, I pushed myself really hard on the climbs but felt a little gassed in the trails to ride smooth, I dropped Matt a few times but he would make his way back to me and get in front of me before the trails so I couldn't ride away from him. Finally I got that boost of energy I needed, could have been the gel kicking in, and I upped the pace on a climb. "Have a good race" he said and I was off, the rest of the lap I was running on adrenaline since I was able to see the leaders jersey closing in on me.

Fourth lap I was way too pumped to get caught, I was totally drilling myself on the climbs, trying to stay in my big ring and forget about the on-coming cramps and massive pain in my lower back. I was still able to see 3rd in the trails but when we got to a climb I was pulling away, I knew if I could hold my spot through the back to back slow and slick single track sections I would be good. The Morka-Batty-Glassford-Jette train came by me before those sections and I followed their lines for a bit, I stayed really focused and kept upright the whole time without dabbing. I took another look back after the last climb on the doubletrack section to see I had a good enough gap to stay calm and not take any risks on the last section of trail. No other Elites came by me and it was the first time I didn't get passed by the lead juniors, I wanted to bust out a good sprint to the line but my chain is toast and I dropped it twice before saying screw it and just cruising to the line. Man was I happy.

Solid rides De Cal and the new Cadet provincial champ; Etzy. Also, big thanks to those cheering me on, it's really something to look forward to when finishing up every lap and, of course, big thanks to paps for another pro feed. Another one to De Cal for driving up and around both weekends (Elliot Lake report below), too bad he had a crappy co-pilot both times.

I was rewarded with a day off work today for my achievement, I will use it wisely with some stretching and napping. Maybe a short spin if it stops raining later, my lower back is still very sore today, defenitely something to work on in the next 2 weeks I don't race. Looking forward to some long rides to get ready for the marathon champs and Paul's, then it's pretty much cx training and racing until I burn out. School starts in just over 2 weeks, yay.


Elliot Lake Weekend

Quick recap of the great weekend, my Internet was down all week so I never got a chance to post. For a better report see De Cal's blog.
Friday morning we headed out just 30 minutes behind schedule and stopped in Parry Sound for a quick ride to loosen up the legs. We arrived at Wilderness Lodge and realised that we had driven the race course, sweet, that'll be easy to find Sunday. We cooked some good grub and munched out on our patio, some bike and body tuning and it was bed time.
Saturday morning we woke up and the weather wasn't very nice, especially for a crit, unless you're De Cal. I lined up at the very back and when it was time to start I couldn't clip in, I was using Look pedals and made them super tight to try and get rid of the play. When I clipped in the pack was just 30m or so away, but we go right into a downhill, a couple sick corners where many crashed out on, then it's flat for a few pedal strokes until you take another bend and climb back up the start/finish. Super short and quick laps makes being up front very important. I rode around for 20 minutes then got pulled, oh well, made it out of there without a scratch. Stayed around to watch De Cal crush a chase group sprint then chilled around for a bit before the hill climb. Hill climb I felt awful and went too hard at the start, I thought it was going to be much longer so I played a little conservative until I realised I was 100m from the line. Oh well, gotta save the legs for Sunday anyways.
Sunday I actually felt great, I got shelled a couple times near the turn around but caught back on everytime, except for the time when I stood up to give a little effort to catch back on before a downhill and I broke a spoke. The wheel truck was between the break and the group so I had to ride painfully back into town by myself and wait around and cheer. De Cal had another solid race and just missed the Espoir podium, next year.
I'm already looking forward to the Elliot Lake weekend for next year, defenitely gotta get a good group of racers up at the Wilderness Lodge and maybe stay a little longer to get more swimming and fishing done. De Cal also taught me a lesson in fishing when he realled in a beauty large mouth bass right in front of the damn that was behind our cabin.
Noah, Etzl, De Cal, Perry and Hopkins all had a solid weekend of racing.
Here's some pics;
Mount DuFour (anyone french will appreciate the name)

Our Cabin, beauty

The Munch Station



View from the balcony

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I hope my legs will still be attached

Heading out for Elliot Lake tomorow morning with De Cal, the plan is to drive for 5 hours or so then stop for a ride to loosen up the legs and get some munch. Then another 4 or so hours until we hit Wilderness Lodge about 45 minutes North of the race, at the very end of highway 546. Should be a great weekend, the drive won't be so bad with the right tunes and some good scenery. Packing tonight is going to suck though because I'll always be feeling like I forgot something no matter how many times I check.

Good talk with Chown on race strategy while I was running errands in St. Kitts. I'm feeling pretty confident, well, as confident as I can be doing a century ride with the fastest guys in Ontario when I've never done a race over 100km. Good thing it's two big laps, if I get dropped I'll still get in a solid training ride, but I'm not going to think like that. Ideally, I would be the only S3 that doesn't get dropped so I can rack up some good upgrade points.

Training this week was alright, low volume/high intensity just like the previous couple weeks starting with nothing but my commute to work and back on Monday. Tuesday was the hilly race night, just 2 laps of the regular course. It was almost a replay of the previous one which was a replay of BtB, but this time I managed to make the solo bridge from the chase group to the lead group. I pushed myself super hard on the last climb to finish off a good intensity workout, I felt alright the whole time, like I could ride a really good tempo forever but as soon as I pushed any harder than that I was shutting down fast. Could have been a combination of lack of sleep and being outside in the heat all day then trying to race in it, I'm not too worried about it.

Yesterday I headed out to Dundas Valley with Nat and JF to ride some pretty sweet trails, we met up with locals Greg and Kevin and headed off for a few hours. I still can't get over some of the stuff Greg was doing, he hits the knarliest stuff that you would never think of trying in your life... with spd pedals! I took a good spill which left me with just some good scraping on my elbow and hip and some trail rash, it was one of those falls where you stop paying attention for just a second because the trail seems very easy then next thing you know you're down. Oh well, you ride and you learn.

Time to start packing, getting stoked!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

O-Cup #6 Kelso

Munching on some post-post race All-Bran bars, post ride was pasta and chicken wings. You know what's aggravating? The fact that these big companies like Kellogs and Quaker can advertise a product that is high in x that is good for you when they contain so much of y and z that are bad for you. People buy into this stuff and wonder why they aren't loosing weight when they are eating this crap, not that I'm trying to loose weight, but it tastes so good haha. Anyways onto the report;

I had an amazing start after a good warm up with Etzl and De Cal, felt good enough to move into 5th on the opening climb. I punched it in the following singletrack and got on Bayden's wheel. We moved through some traffic then I started loosing and gaining positions, passed 3 guys before and after the first feedzone where I didn't take a bottle. I knew I was in good position on the second climb.

The second time up hurt quite a bit more and I was surprised to see Emily Batty at the side of the trail cheering everyone on, training for Worlds I guess. I was sitting maybe 5th at this point and I wasn't feeling very cooked at all so I pushed very hard on the DT, people were drafting but I didn't mind, I wanted to move up. I realised how exciting it was to race up front, was having a good time on the rock gardens and berms, should have worn gloves though.

The feedzone was brutal for exchanging bottles, almost lost my front wheel. Took a bottle this time and punched it before the climb, I don't know where I was but I'm guessing maybe even 3rd at one point before the top of the third time up Ascencion, Trev was gone so it was a race for second. I was pumped I was in contention for a podium. I lost a few spots here and there and couldn't move up from 5th or 6th the whole lap. Coming down one of the rootier gardens I kicked the rock I always came so close to and my shoe popped out of the pedal, luckily I stayed up. Lost a spot before the feedzone but we were bridging to the group ahead then I seen a guy sprinting so I thought it was the last lap and I went for the line haha. The guys at the table told me to get back on the course from the back so I had to turn around again, got some chain suck and watched the guys I was with disappear in the trees.

So now I was racing for 7h with a couple other guys, I treated it as I was going for a podium spot since I really had no idea where I was at the time. There was quite a bit of traffic with the Master Exs and a few elite women here and there, but there were plenty of lines to take to pass so it I wasn't really getting slowed down at all. I passed Erica Bota on that rooty downhill and my shoe popped out of the pedal again but this time I didn't kick anything, pedal's loose again, probably from kicking things. This time it was way harden to stay up because it happened before the hardest part. Luckily stayed up and I pushed hard knowing it was my last lap and I might be near a top 5. Sprinted for the finish and crossed the line feeling pretty cooked and also very happy I had a good race. Looks like the form is coming around afterall.

Watched De Cal crush another sprint and headed over for some intense first aid, cooled down and talked with the Vegan Vagabond and Kerton about their races, bummer. Solid rides De Cal and Trev who dominated the Expert category today, the race was much closer if you don't count his time haha. Big thanks to paps for the drive and the pro feed.

Just checked something;

Hardwood: 84.4 upgrade points

Buckwallow: 89.6

Kelso: 91.9

Total: 265.9

I now have enough points to go Elite, defenitely not before provincials, maybe I can be convinced in the off-season. Alot depends on provincials, I'd like to get that closer to 275 so I'm hoping for a top5, a podium would be nice.

Start

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Practising for a competition

Kind lady: "Watch out for the arrows, we have people out practising for a competition."
De Cal: "What, you mean the o-cup?"

Good ride today at Kelso, there were times where I would be riding very smooth and my lines were bang on then I would start riding like crap. It makes a huge difference following the lines of an Elite rider and we even hopped on a Two Wheel Express/3 Rox train for a lap which helped with a few more lines. Hopefully tomorow will be all good riding and I won't see De Cal until after I finish. I didn't feel that great on the climb(s) so hopefully that changes tomorow.

This is by far the most confident I've felt the night before an o-cup, top that off with the fact that it's 11 and I'm already home from work ready for bed AND the drive is less than an hour so I don't have to be out of the house until 11-11:30 which leaves lots of time for sleep. 6 laps in total on the course and I'm pretty sure I got it somewhat memorized; grass that will tear my legs off, a climb that will rip my lungs out and a whole bunch of rock gardens and tight turns to get me recovered and ready to do it all over again... something like that.

So I remembered the camera but didn't snap a pick of the rock garden because apparently it was never in the race. I want to say it was a useless wipeout but there's always a lesson learned when you go down hard. Big thanks to De Cal for the drive.

I gave my goal for this race some thought, I would be happy with a single-digit result, top 5 would be awesome. Since I haven't cracked the top 15 yet, my goal will be top 10, but not 10th, actually come to think of it I'd still be pretty happy with 10th. Ah now I just don't know what I think. All in all, I'm just hoping for a good race.

Friday, August 6, 2010

This would have been a good time for a peak

Pretty much on a every other day training plan right now, nothing but intensity when I do get out. The way I had planned my season during the winter was that I would start my peak right after the CDMBR and try and hold my "race" fitness as long as I could. When I would feel a loss in fitness that would be the end of my peak and I'd go back to long easy rides for a couple weeks then try to build something up for cross. Maybe next year.

This would have been the perfect time for a peak since I could hit all but one of my goals of the season in the next three weeks; try and get on the podium for kelso and/or provincials, get enough points to upgrade and try to get enough points at Elliot Lake for an upgrade. Regardless of my points for road at the end of the season, it's going to come down to how well I do in the 150km road race with the Elites. As for mountain bike, I won't be requesting an upgrade or taking one if I just barely get enough points unless I surprise myself at the next two races. I'm looking for 90+ points each race, I really want to get in to the top 5.

So this week I had a good ride with the club on Tuesday, a group of 4 managed to get away. Pretty much a replay of Bike the Bruce; I let them go a bit then was never able to bridge solo or with someone. Chown set me up for a beauty solo break that I was able to hold to the line then nearly pass out. Last night I headed to Kelso with Neil Armstrong, the course was sick, met up with Ian from The Hub and rode three quick laps with him. There is one rock garden that is just nuts, I'm not sure if it will be in the race or not but I'm going to ride it tomorow at least 10 times after the massive spill I took. Somehow I managed to get out of it with just a bruised ankle and some minor scrapes on my legs, could have been alot worse for me or the bike. Got back to the truck just after 8 and we headed back home. Thanks again for everything Neil.

I brought my camera with me since it came to my attention that I haven't posted any pictures (besides the last post) in quite some time. Tomorow I'll remember to snap a few shots of the rock garden I'm talking about.

In the meantime...

Pile of tires collected in the garage to make some room for...

With quite a few days off work lately I had time to pin up every number plate I've had since grade 9 from #976 being my first high school track meet to this past weekend's CDMBR where I was #69. However, I'm missing 4 races; Twilight Crit 2009 and Good Friday, Bronte, Niagara Classic from this year. The empty spot is for this year's o-cup plate.
On a very positive note, my boss is starting to realize just how important rest is and that even though working on the farm is going to make me tougher, it won't make me faster. Afterall, the lawn mowers aren't pedal powered. However, it's prime off-season training and you won't have more respect for or from your boss anywhere else and did I mention no chemical spraying in the massive gardens or growing hormones for any chickens!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Canal Days MTB Race

My legs felt pretty good as I headed out the door and onto the Bauer trail, I was a little behind schedule looking at a 10:50 arrival when the race starts at 11. I got my plate yesterday when I was out there pre-riding in case of something like this but I was unsure if we needed chips. The start was delayed a bit so I had some time to chill.

I knew De Cal wanted to get a gap on right away and when he started out fast Etzl was quick on his wheel and Tom on his then me. Good thing he slowed down because my legs were already burning a bit. I got bumbed back to 5th going in the first trail, the pace was a little slow so when I had to get around DeBoer who flatted I was able to hammer back to them. First set of double I couldn't make it around Tom and when I did De Cal flatted. Rode smooth the rest of the lap and leading De Cal through a short section of ST was cool.

He went off and I lost both him and Etzy by the end of the lap. I got caught in Mud Lake but in the first section of ST I punched it on the short climbs and made a good gap. Pinned in during the second lap trying to chasse and hold off and the same time. Cramps started to get me so holding off it was. Next time I saw anyone was at the finish.

Finally a decent day on the mtb, I know I still got another notch that I hope I can find at Kelso and provincials. Plans are being made for Elliot Lake, should be a good time and some good suffering. Until then I'll be on the road maybe twice to do some sprints and the rest mtb then the following week will be all mtb. Maybe I won't take that month off racing if I start to come around, still questionning Paul's though haha. This week is barn washing which is a little easier than the cleaning but still a tough job nonetheless. Maybe 15h on the bike?

Solid rides De Cal and Etzl, everyone I know had a solid race, sometimes it just takes a local race like this to bring the best out of you. Good food afterwards but not before I got a good rub down, my lower back started seizing up about 20min after the race. Got a pretty sweet stem after trading with Anderson, anyone need a 90mm RaceFace Evolve XC? I'll most likely be posting a bunch of things up for sale tomorow like a fork, pedals, helmet (a beaut), crankset, and possibly some shoes for either mtb or road.



Monday, July 26, 2010

Bike The Bruce

Not much to say about this one

I guess it's just the way road racing goes, the break got a good gap early on but it got shut down quick, next thing I knew the group was split and I watched them pedal away a minute down the road with a good 10-12 guys. I knew if the gap got any bigger it would make it because they would be working well together. We had about 3-4 guys working in our group and they had a 12-man break with 11 of them sharing the work. Much more effecient than our group because there were still attacks and I was never able to make the bridge alone. Had nothing left for the sprint at the end, cramps got the best of me. I was running out of water with 3 laps to go so I drank very conservatively for the next lap (considering the heat) and finished off the bottles with a gel with 2 to go.

I don't think extra fluids would have helped, I was cramping a bit from the start but nothing painful enough to ease the effort. It was all those accelerations and slowing back down to allow the lactic acid to build up. Guess I gotta get on some intervals soon.

I think I'm a bit too tired coming in to the weekends, I guess I'm not at a high intensity, low volume point of my season. Going to take it easy for the next couple weeks and see what I can muster up for provincials. I'll most likely be taking a month off of racing even if that means missing the amazing U-Cup series as well as Paul's, but I think it will be a smart choice to properly prepare for a race and try to attain my last goal of the season at the Squeezer. If all goes well it should give me a good confidence booster going into cross where I'll be able to take high intensity and low volume for those one hour shit shows.

Solid rides De Cal and Max, and big thanks to De Cal for the feed and driving and whatnot.