Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cross Rebuild

I put gears back on my cyclocross bike. I am weak of will. In Ottawa, not many ride single speed cross and there is no category for it unlike other race series I've been in. I felt there was no use handicapping my self anymore.

My Cannondale is getting on in years. The frame has a dent but is still good. The dura ace/open pro rims are doing terrific. I outfitted it with a big 12-27 cassette, which will come in handy on the steep climbs at the Almonte course. I bought a new old-stock ultegra 9spd shifter which works like a dream. I also got new Avid brakes and a new chain. All the new parts pretty much constitutes a full rebuild. After an afternoon of tinkering the bike rides like a dream.

Tomorrow is the first race. Unlike previous years I have not done any specific training. All my rides this summer have been long long long. As usual, I'm planning on hitting my stride when the weather gets really really crappy.

Paul's Dirty Enduro 100k

Last Saturday I awoke to frost on my sleeping bag after a night under the stars in the Ganaraska forest, just north east of Toronto. After getting my stuff in order, I lined up at the start, half shivering in the 10C dewy morning.

Through the eight and a half hours of riding it warmed up to comfortable weather. Riding, riding, riding. 100k (62 miles) of continuous single track snaking through the woods. I've never seen so much single track. Over 7000 feet of climbing, mostly up little hills, 10-20 feet at a time, like a thousand paper cuts.

Near the end they marked on the map something called the Never Ending Hill. In a dark shady valley, on a totally flat and quiet section of trail, there marked the sign for the "Never Ending Hill: back by popular demand." The trail remained flat as I rode further a minute or so. I was thinking that my tired brain was getting paranoid. Clearly the event organizers were messing with me---lulling me into complacency. These woods were definitely haunted. Probably a massacre or something a long time ago... Then the trail gradually kicked back. Not really a climb, but a few minutes on it got a little steeper still. Finally the angle required getting out of the saddle. I rounded a corner and a few hard grunts and I crested the top. The organizers did mess with me, but in a good way. The hill did end, and was a pice of cake. Out of five single speed riders doing the 100k, I came in 4th. The fastest single speed was only 20 mins behind the leader, clocking in at 6 1/2 hours (winner was 6:10)!

15 minutes later I passed the finish line. Great course. No, amazing course. And an wonderful cause, since proceeds go to suicide prevention for the Canadian Mental Health association, in honour of the eponymous Ganaraska rider Paul who befell that sad fate many years ago...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ridge Trail: Great western trail, American Fork, Utah section

I just got back home from my three weeks in the west. My goals while over there were many, the most important was to see my brother in the bay area get married. But personally, after a year in the flat cold of eastern Canada, I wanted to reconnect with my friends and the western mountains that I love. Over the years of living in Utah, one persisting quest that emerged was a goal to ride as much as I can of the Great Western Trail (GWT), specifically the Utah section.

The ride here I planned to take from alpine loop pass, separating Sundance canyon with AF, and traverse the Ridge Trail north toward the Tri-canyons associated with the Salt Lake City section that I and everybody has ridden too many times to mention. The ridge trail section, on the other hand, is seldom ridden, or hiked that I can tell. Most people in Utah valley are motorized. With my sea-level lungs, my father-in-law dropped me off at 8,600 feet.

Everything was slow except my heartbeat. Through the aspen glades and single track. I hike-a-biked over motorcycle rutted loose climbs soaking in the mountain environment, riding where I could. I was home. My plan was to try to ride into the Tri-canyons and find a friend to drive me back to Utah valley where I was staying. But plans are just that. After hiking up terrain to rugged to ride in Mineral basin, looking up at the Snowbird tramdoc at 11,000, a mile or two, and many hours away, I decided to turn back at the 5hr mark and ride home.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

This Ride Was Long

My overall goal this season was to do Long rides. My definition of a long ride comes from the wise one, Ben Sukow: A Ride is anything under 4 hrs. Longish rides are under 8hrs. A Long ride is anything longer than Longish, but still within reason, while a Redicuride is any ride that is going to make you hurt real bad and make you wish you never liked bikes. My strategy was to titrate my rides, do a bunch of Longish rides, slowly cranking it up, and never overstep into Redicuride territory. Today I did another solid Long ride. Nearly 11 hours on the bike, of which less than two hours were on pave. I will call this ride the Gatineau Tour, since it pretty much links up every one of the disparate trail systems in the park into a ~75-mile mega loop that swings to north and south of the park, and into Wakefield. To do the link up you need to do a 1/2-hour hike-a-bike and traverse a little-used equestrian trail that is overgrown and consists of two water-filled OHV tracks. Sometimes you don't see what you are rolling over exactly, but you know it has water in it because your feet sometimes get soaked, and sometimes your front wheel shoots down into a mystery rut. All in good fun.

On a remote piece of trail, I encounterd my first mama black bear.

I didn't have much food at the house, so I went empty handed for the first 4 hours till I got down from the hike-a-bike to le depaneur. This was the first helping.

Very healthy. Once I blew through the glycogen and started on a good feeding cycle, the miles clicked by. Every climb the legs were there, even at the very end. If I eat, drink, and take electrolyte tablets regularly I think I could go for a while. I got my system dialed now. Still, after 11 hours I will be wiped tomorrow. To think that GDR racers pull down more than that 20+ days on end. Well, I think I am ready for Great Glen at least...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Flood Rides

After 1.5 weeks of shorter duration intensity rides, I went back to long turtle rides this last week. Great Glen is a week away. My legs have not been feeling tip top. I think there is a sickness going around. But I've been suffering through with a 4.5 hour ride last Saturday, tandem and work rides in the week, and a 3.5 hour fire tower ride yesterday to try out the new cog. If there are no flat long flat sections on the race course, I think I might go for a 20 tooth (did you pick one up for me, Justin?), but it probably won't mater for the race, but would be nice for the next adventure after that: a truncated two-day version of my Trans Utah...

Its been fugging raining here. Ark building sounds like a good career option now. Apparently its the wettest, coldest July in 70 years in Ottawa. Everywhere you go you find impromptu lakes and rivers, and lots of mud. Even in July, the rides can be cold here. Good thing you can eat your lunch in the unused winter ski huts along the trail in the Gatineaus. The forcast looks iffy for this week in North Conway, according to North Conway Weather .com, your site for Mt. Washington meteorology and Mariah Carey pics (seriously!).

This Saturday I'm planning the biggest ride yet. I do my 9-hour Gatineau Loop, but I stick in a side trip on trails out of the park to Wakefield then back in. This should put me into the 11-12 hour range, which is basically the duration of Great glen, although a few of those hours are mellow flat dirt roads as pave...

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Toys

I've been on a buying spree for various bike accouterments lately. My Rig came stock with a rather steep 32 X 18 gear, which I am finally changing to a 19 tooth. This should help for the upcoming 24 hour race. I got at 30W LED lamp as well for said race. I got a 9spd STI to put gears back on my cross bike, for touring and the Fall race season. I also now own real road biking shoes, but they are really uncomfortable (even though they fit fine) and I want to take them back.

I also replaced my broken heart rate monitor with a newer fancier one. Now for me I definitely like my mind free of distractions while riding. Single speed minimalism, without anything beeping, gears to shift, yada yada. In the winter however concentrating on your HR goes a long way at reminding you why you are on a stationary bike. And then there is focused training. The basic principle is that you go on a variety of rides, some intense, some not, in order to improve and maintain your strength best. I'm not a fast rider, so it does not really mater, but I like to pretend. The key thing to this focused training turns out to be helping you not overtrain. And this is where the fancy new HRM comes in. The old way was using HR zones; having the right proportions of different zones over each week is supposed to help the best. But this is sort of contrived if you are riding in an actual place, where the environment dictates the pacing, not a prescribed HR zone/duration. The fancy new HRM instead calculates a more global measure termed the training effect (TE). TE basically integrates HR over duration, as well as the natural variability determined by how you interact with your environment, accumulating in a single number between 1-5. This TE number is analogous to the 1-5 HR zones. So if you want to go out for a maintenance/recovery ride (TE =2) the watch will tell you how long at your average pace you would have to go if you wanted to reach TE=3. If you are going out on a ride for an hour, you keep your average pace low enough so that the time horizon to reach TE=3 is more than the time left that you have to ride home. This sounds complicated, but is much easier to keep track of on the bike than an arbitrary HR zone and it allows you to see the sights better. The watch also logs all the TEs for all your rides in a calendar and determines if you are improving or not.

Monday, July 6, 2009

9 1/2 hours, please close this...

Starting from my house, I rode on the pave and the dirt---roughly 2/3rds, no 3/4ths (somehow I am a Mathematician) of what is to be done in the upcoming double-single 24-hour race. No injuries with the turtle pace. Salt balance in check. I need a lower gear for long rides.

All the rain and swamp. The biting insects. The long solitary miles. Meditation.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Turtle Miles

The challenge: Starting from Sunday, ride every day for a week averaging 1.5 hours a day. By Saturday I'd averaged over twice that with an 8-hour push to the end. Saturday started with a tandem ride to the market for strawberries and then around Hog's Back Falls.

After lunch I took an out-and-back to the fire-tower in Gatineau park.

The big-ass turtle is appropriate. My goal was to do no harm in my riding: ride gently, don't get tendonitis, or dehydrate, or any of the bad stuff that long miles can bring.

Turtle riding...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Long Ride to Quit a Race For

Nuts: Ahhh, what was that?
Brain: We crashed.
Nuts: You have to keep ahold of the handlebar dumbass.
Brain: I think we are alright. All the sweat makes it slippery.
Nuts: We are wearing our bike like a hoola hoop.
Brain: I'll fix that.

"Are you O.K.?"
"Yah fine"
Racers zoom by...

Nuts: Stuff hurts. Is that blood?
Brain: Yep. This is the third race and the third crash. Its time to pack it in.
Nuts: Let's do the rest of the lap at least.
Brain: Alright, but we will take it slow.
Nuts: Hey, we are getting our rhythm back.
Brain: Yeah, but for how long?
Nuts: You have to roll with the punches better.
Brain: No I don't.
Nuts: Cumon, don't be a wuss.
Brain: Look, I'm taking the long view. We rode two hours to get out here, we are tired, and we slip up. It was a bad idea for racing strategy, but a wonderful ride.
Nuts: Yeah, I agree with that, but it will be an even better ride if we keep on.
Brain: Or even worse. We crashed on the first lap. We're only gonna be more off-the-ball next time around.
Nuts: All I'm saying is if you really want to do the Tour Divide next year (fingers crossed) we can't be quitting every time the going gets tough.
Brain: Yes I want to do the Divide to. We have a lot of work to do to get even remotely close to the fitness we would need for that, and this short technical course we are on is beside the point, and the more crashes we get, the more this is becoming a training liability.
Nuts: Yeah, I guess you are right.
Brain: A lotta good this race is gonna be if the next crash is a collar bone, or our nuts.
Nuts: Alright, no need to lord it over me. Lets go through the start/finish and let'em know we are out.
Brain: Sounds good.
Nuts: We can come out to the next race in a car and have it dialed.
Brain: Maybe. Lets think about it on the ride home...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Sundae Ride

Working hard on a paper all day. Squeeze a ride in the evening. Luckily the Carp township has ice cream at the 30-mile mark. I think I can entice La Lissa to come out on the tandem for this one...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Champlain by Tandem

Riding has been mellow. I am busy with Neural Dynamics Summer school and writing too many papers. So its work-and-back, work-and-back. Today La Lissa and I went to Champlain lookout in Gatineau on the bike-for-two. I told her it would be two hours. It was four, and then a stop Chez Lucien.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


After the century I had some calf tendonitis and took a few days off. Today I got on the tandem for an hour and my calf was still acting up. Since waiting to heal requires waiting, and I am impatient, I tried the strategy of going racing at Camp fortune and covering up the injury by hurting my body everywhere else. Now the contrast between my calf and the rest of my body is not so big. I also went down in a wreck and sprained my pinky, but its OK.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gatineau Century

I rode around the Gatineau park. There was a mystery section out northwest of the park that turned out to be loose gravel road for about 7 miles. Riding down hill on that section on a skinny-tire road bike was a little like downhill cross country skiing. Once out of the woods, I dropped down to Quyon, a little Quebec town on the Ottawa River that I'm told Elvis once played at. I took the Quyon ferry across the river to the Ontario side and another 40 miles of farm country back into town.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Second Go at Fortune

Last week I entered into a local Wednesday-after-work racing series at Camp Fortune. I hadn't been on the 29er yet this year, it was pouring down rain, and the registration took forever. With one minute to spare and no warm-up I made it to the start line having never ridden the trails before. The course was slick and rocky-technical. I did a lot of hike-a-bike. Today I got the rhythm back. Perfect weather. The only cloud was in my bottom bracket, which was shifting inside the housing a little when I started. A few climbs made it rattle better than before. Another trip to the bike store...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cold, Cold North

Weekend Rides totaled 100 miles, pretty much evenly divided into 50 each day. Both were unseasonably cold, and Sunday was unbearably so, with hail and freezing rain while wearing a short-sleeved jersey. I was planing an 80 miler to Merrickville and back, but turned back at 25 at the first sign of cold-ass rain. Pictured below is the brighter day on Saturday on the waterfront in Wakefield Quebec.

Besides running errands on the tandem and work commutes, I've been resting. Mountain bike tomorrow...