Thursday, May 10, 2012

bike season

Well, bike season is now here, Canmore doesn't know that, (it snowed today) but I finally put away the touring skis.  I had a rude awakening at the Hammer night last week, I was on my cross bike and almost got dropped once, and spent a lot of time suffering.  So since then I've been doing lots of intervals, and of course some fun rides too.  Last night however, I got my road frame - see below, and my new mountain bike - super excited for both. I built the road bike up last night and then finished it after work today - finished 5min before the group ride, so I rushed out the door - forgetting water of any sort (which is extra funny as I was contemplating if I had time to put the bottle cages on).  Anyway, I made it to the group ride and borrowed a bottle from another rider.  It was so nice to have my road bike, super snappy and fast - this week I won all the climbs so pretty pumped about that!

So, since it is new bike time, that means last year's race bike has to go - anyone interested?  Sub 5 full XTRm Med, 2800$ firm,  When I haven't been working on the bike trails at the Nordic Centre or setting up tires as tubless for half of the community, I've been coaching with the Rundle Mountain Cycling club.  It is a great program, with around 200 kids in it. I have 9 kids U13 age, and get to teach them all kinds of fun skills.  First day was a bit of cahos as there was some serious bike repair to do first, but then we did a decent trail ride and hit the jumps on soft yogurt to finish off the ride - the kids loved it.  

Heading east soon for the first Canada Cups - time to see what's in the tank this year!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A winter of adventures

Well, this winter has been amazing.  I've been having so much fun that I haven't had/taken the time to write about it so here goes!

Post worlds Catherine and I went up to the Yukon and did a 6 day canoe trip with Daniel, it was supposed to be 4-5days but we had a tank of a canoe and didn't always paddle as hard as we could.  We did the Dezadeash river from the lake to Haines JCT.  The first day we had 6 foot swells in the lake, and luckily it was a tail wind or else we would have capsized for sure. We also did a few cool hikes and saw lots of Dall Sheep up in the mountains.

Canoeing hard with Daniel
Fresh fish on the fire

Six foot swells on the lake, we camped here because we got pushed into shore.

Dall Sheep
Lunch break near Kluane National Park

Next up was back to Canmore for a fall filled with fun mountain bike rides.  I also got a ton of trail work done on the Nordic Ctr trails - big thanks to the help of the Katimivik volunteers!  Catherine and I also achieved her goal of summiting 12 peaks in the fall, so we had lots of great scrambles to the tops of mountains. From there the snow fell, or we made it at the Nordic ctr, and xc skiing started Oct 15 (mtb riding was still good until Dec).  So I did tons of xc skiing and then I got into back-country skiing and got hooked.

Summit of Cascade
Crazy carpeting down from Chester Lake, yes it was fun - 10 min at 20km/hr = massive headache though as we went headfirst most of it!
Dinner on top of Rundle Mountain with Catherine, overlooking Canmroe

Back country skiing  or ski touring is where you take the best part of tons of sports/adventures and put them all together.  You find an interesting and beautiful place in the mountains, skin up and explore, and then downhill ski back down, usually in untouched powder. The biggest danger is the avalanche risk, so Catherine and I took a course just after Christmas to learn  as much as possible about  snow and terrain, and since then I have been learning from friends and the great outdoors.

Catherine and I  back coutry skiing with my parents during their visit 
Nicholas DH skiing during our trip to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke

Ski touring Suprise pass, first run we went around Fariview Mountain
 and came through the pass and down lookers left, 2nd run we skinned up the col to the right
Oh, and I actually worked all winter too, grooming trails at the Nordic Centre.  I think it is every boy's dream to get to drive a snow cat, and this winter that's what I was doing - learning from the best on how to groom ski trails.  It was really fun but made for some late nights and early mornings.

My groomer, Piston Bulley 100

XC skiing with Catherine's parents, dress code was red coats and grey boots!
 Now we are back to bike season, and I am ready to charge hard at that - mtb race in Edmonton on the weekend.  Then a fun filled season racing for XPREZO again - I am really looking forward to it all!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

World Championships

Training ride with the team

So after the Val Di Sole world cup the Canadian team traveled to Champery Switzerland. We took the train there and it was neat going through the twisty mountain passes and lots of tunnels, and other times it was very hot and sweaty sitting on the train. Eventually we got to Champery and head coach Dan met us with pizza - which were very well received by everyone as we had mostly missed dinner.

Training in Champery went very well, I did quite a bit of riding with Derek, and one day we climbed mountain roads for 2hrs and more climbing on cow trail/singletrack and got clear up to the French border on the ridge of the mountains! It was pretty neat and we made sure to step across the cattle fence into France for a bit. From there I talked to some locals and we found an awesome singletrack descent that took us most of the way back the race course.

The french border

During the week I logged lots of time on the race course, and felt pretty comfortable with it. This race course started out with a gradual paved/gravel climb for about 3min, then a 4 foot drop/launch, followed by about 4min of flat double track and rooty singletrack, that kicked up into a very steep 2min gravel climb and a fun rooty descent to the finish.

All week it would rain on and off and the course was always somewhat wet, which was fine by me as I tend to do better in the wet. Race day the weather forecast was afternoon showers, so none of us really knew whether or not to run mud tires. I went with an intermediate tire and it seemed pretty good.

Saturday morning the girls raced, and it was very exciting to see my wife have her best international result finishing 31st, and to see fellow NB native Catharine Pendrel WIN World Champs!!!

The guys raced at 4:30, which is indeed pretty late but it put us closer to prime time TV, so I guess that is a good thing. I had a decent start this time, with 120 guys ripping up the pavement at 50km/hr. I avoided all the crashes and ripped around the start loop in about 80th place and then we went into the end of the lap up the steep gravel climb. This was ok, and I tried to hold my own position, at the top it was a complete bottle neck and we were all off our bikes as 100 of us tried to shove our way though basically a door-way sized space.

From there on it was typical world cup racing, meaning that you exit a piece of singletrack and then sprint as hard as you can to pass or hold off the other racers around you and then dive into the singletrack very blown and try and ride smooth, but really you bounce around everywhere because you can’t see straight. Really, if you just imagine monteal traffic that is how we race – floor it, brake hard – maybe crash into each other, floor it again. We would for sure go faster if we could just TT, but that is not what world cup racing is all about – unless you are winning. I did have a few sweet singletrack passes, there was one wide rooty flat section were 4 of us were riding, dude 1 went way right, and 2 and 3 went left and right and I found some really good traction and shot right up the middle and passed all 3 of them, it was kinda fun to do.

On lap 4 I had moved up a few positions and was in the 70’s somewhere and had just pulled off a sweet pass on a sketchy root drop downhill, I think I was having too much fun and got a bit out of control and BAM, I smoked a tree with my handlebar and head. I got up and kept moving and though I had broken the brake lever clean off but it was just twisted out of sight, so I was able to muscle it back up. I did however rip the hydraulic hose off my fork lockout which means that the fork was now rigid. Anyway, I figured I could still do it and rode the drop just fine, some of the singletrack was a bit rough and bumpy but I managed. Finishing that lap I got pulled by the commisare for being 80% back of the leaders. It was unfortunate as I was the guy 3sec in front of me made it though, and as it had started to rain I was actually riding better than earlier in the race.

Overall I was not super happy with my race, I always like to improve and I don’t feel like this Worlds was as good a race as last year, but I guess we can’t be our best all of the time.

It was a great trip though, awesome to have my brother and his wife show up, as Sarah is studying with a Swiss professor for 2 months and they were able to come cheer. Many thanks to the Canadian National team and Xprezo for all the race help and support.

Yes, the Subaru Justy still exists in Europe - lots of clearance and 4x4!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Val Di Sole

So yesterday I raced the Val Di Sole World Cup. It went way better than I expected considering my “wicked” (sarcasm intended) lead up during the week before.

We left Canmore in a torrential downpour and drove to the Calgary airport Monday afternoon, hopped on the plane after the lightning left and flew to Toronto and then Zurich. From Zurich we took the train towards Val di Sole Italy and finished off our 36hrs of travel with a van ride to our accommodations. We had a sweet hotel about 200m from the race course, with really cool blackout blinds on the windows so I can sleep in, and windows that are hinged in a way to switch between doors and open (but locked) window.

So it seemed like Tuesday just did not even exist, and Wednesday we went for a ride. Catherine and I did a warmup on the bike path and I was talking to her ( I think she was listening) and a bee or wasp flew into my mouth and stung me between my teeth and lip. I kept riding and did a lap of the race course, but during the lap I basically started drooling. The right side of my face went numb and then started to swell up quite a bit. Eventually I found some Benadryl and ice and the swelling stopped.

This is me with the fat lip, fat face, swolled eye, and a "bird beak", yeah, I felt awesome...

The next day I woke up with a tight throat and wasn’t sure if it was a further reaction to the sting or a cold. I went training and had a decent day but the then the cold got worse. Friday I felt pretty bad at times and Saturday was race day. For my warmup I started a hard effort and promptly went to the side of the road and hacked up some nice lung butter, after that I was ok and felt a bit better for the next warmup efforts.

I had a decent call up for the race in 67/120 guys, so I was pretty excited about that. However, right after the gun went off Bury Stander who was on the front line broke his chain and caused a massive crash, so basically I came to a dead stop because I decided not to run over this guy’s head that was in my way, so I got through the crash and then was off. Anyway, I rallied together and rode a pretty slow first lap because there were so many people trying to get into the singletrack at the same time, we would do max effort sprints and then stand still until we could fit through. Then on lap 2 I was able to open it up a bit more and I felt pretty good. This course consisted of about 5 climbs of 20sec to 1min that were super steep and I was able to stand and power up them and pick off a 1 ride on most of them, so it was fun to move up and pass people all race. I consistently passed about 10 riders per lap to finish 76th, so it was an ok day. I am actually happy with my race all things considered, and am looking forward to world champs in 2 weeks, knowing that I can be way faster than right now by just getting healthy, - and I hear it is a fun race course that should suit me well technically.

Catherine had a great race, she rode really well for the first 4 laps and then blew up a bit and lost 7 spots, finishing 39 – which is still her best European world cup ever so that is exciting for her too. We are off to Champery Switzerland Tuesday to prep on the Worlds course.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This year I raced TR3, the three day version of TransRockies. It was a super competitive field with top racers from Canada and the USA. And best of all it was all on sweet Fernie Singletrack.

Steff, Magi, Catherine, and I all stayed with Marni and Andre's place - many thanks for putting up with our mess and smelly bike clothes.

Day 1 was a time trial and I went out second. I had decent legs but nothing amazing, Barry Wicks was my 2 min man and he caught up to me, so then I stuck with him and finished up 4th. Day 2 was a much better day, I had way better legs and felt pretty good. We were in a lead group of 6 and were directed the wrong way by a course marshall, we rode up the hill for about 6min and then blasted back down, apparently another 20 people did the same thing but did a loop, so it didn't really matter since all of the top 30 got lost. From there we had to pass a ton of people and eventually caught my wife who was leading everybody at that point! On the big climb Neal attacked and Max went with him, and Steff and I rode our own pace. We did a good climb and then bombed down Porky Blue, a crazy steep 1000m vertical descent down into the valley. Steff and I then worked together until the finish where we had decided to wait until the end to sprint. I lead out and the finish straight was longer then I expected, so I started too early and he came around to get 3rd and I was 4th. Catherine had a great day and won the women's, by enough to take the overall.

Today for day 3 I had good legs again and pushed pretty hard. The group split up on the first climb and I was in 3rd in no-mans land. I rode there all day for the 5x350m climbs and descents of the day. At one point I caught Neal who was fixing a flat and I passed him, he was about 30sec behind me and then I put some decent time into him before the finish to finish up 2nd on the day and 3rd overall.

I'm very happy with my ride and now am excited to head to Europe to race world cup finals in Italy and World Champs in Switzerland. Thanks a lot to Xprezo Boraso for the great bikes and support for this year.


So, I've been racing my bike all over the place these last few weeks.

After Ste Anne was Windham World cup, I had a great race there and finished 9min back from the leader and 41st, 3rd canadian. From there we flew out of Albany NY on a tiny plane and all our bikes were lost for 4 days.

The next weekend was Nationals, and I had another good ride, not as good as at the world cup but decent none the less. I felt pretty good and duked it out with Morka for the last 3 laps. It was super fun because we went so hard and fast, but he got me at the end and I was 6th.

Next up was Edmonton Canada Cup, this one was a bit crazy. It had poured rain all week and then the sun came out the day of the race, so we had the worst of all worlds. The mud was so thick and sticky that we had to run about 1km per 6km lap. The running was so slippery that you had to dig the toe spikes or heel spikes in to run on flat. I had a good race and finished up 3rd, with enough points to win the overall Canada Cup series!!! Catherine won her race and won the overall- so we are the fastest married mtb couple in Canada! Big thanks to Terry and Dianne who let us stay at their place, fed us great food, and brought the whole family out to cheer us on!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hot racing!

So this last weekend I raced the Mount Saint Anne world cup. I've often had good races here as it is a nice technical course and I like technical, however this year it was not to be. I have been working trail building in Canmore at the Nordic Centre, and it has been cold there all spring. We had snow 2 weeks ago, and consequently I have zero heat adaptaition. I was hoping that I would be fine - since the forecast for Quebec was for rain and cold weather, but race day was beautiful and sunny - and cooking like a wet sauna.

I had a good start to the race with 3rd Canadian call up, and made use of it to hold my position up the first climb. Then in the woods there were a few sections of trail were there were two singletrack options, and I made a few good choices and passed a ton of people (I rode down the chicken line beside Beatrice and passed about 10 folks who were walking it). So first lap was in the books as a good one and I was happy because it felt like i really hadn't gone that hard but was in a great position, then on lap 2 I let a few people past and headed up the gravel climb and WHAM! That is where I felt like death, it felt like I had lighter fluid poured on my arms and lit on fire - I wasn't even sweating - just burning up. Eventually I got back into the shade and felt a little better and the rest of the lap was ok. Then lap 3 and 4 I just felt terrible and really wanted to lie in the creek at the top of the race course, I savoured the few drops of cold water that splashed up on my legs - indeed the memory of it is still glorious! Anyway, I kept going and dumped lots of water on myself at the feed/tech zone and eventually I got pulled by the commisaire for riding too slowly, but I was happy about it because that was enough suffering for one day.

So this week I have been trying to ride at the hottest time of the day to get adapted for the Windham world cup next weekend. Hopefully that one goes better!

Can you see the flames on my arms?