Thursday, February 28, 2008

Progold Lubricants

Van at Progold just sent up a supply of Prolink Chain Lube for the team. This stuff is awesome! Most who know me, know that I keep my bike clean - pretty damn clean all the time. One of the reasons is of this lube.
When you see Big Ring Racing at races this year, stop by and we may have a bottle for you.


Southern California, what a cool place!! I have tagged along with Melissa who is attending a conference in San Diego. We are staying in Mission Beach. I am renting a road bike and will be posting some photos of my rides soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of pics from our walk down the beach yestereday. Lots and lots of bikes here, especially cruisers and choppers!

Dude riding a pennyfarthing...

This Punker was pretty entertaining pulling all sorts of tricks on the sea wall

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Epic Trainer Session #4

Good turn out today. Seven riders showed up, some on time, some stayed longer
than others . . . . still, the more the merrier.

I was expecting a few more riders to come, alas, some people have time management problems and probably have better things to do . . . such as,

I did hear that he's gotten in a full 75 minute work out on the trainer at some point this winter.

Tobin & Tanya, a little more motivated than others, put on a kettle ball demonstration for us towards the end of the spin.

Our next sponsor? I think not. Power Bars . . . . at least they're good for something.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

E-Load Delivery

Look at what showed up on my door step yesterday.
A team supply of E-Load goodness.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dukes Cycle burned down..

If you're a cyclist and if you've spent any time in Toronto then you know 'Dukes'. Dukes Cycle has been a family owned/operated business for almost 100 years and in the same location at 625 Queen W. since 1914.

However, early this morning a huge fire on Queen West in Toronto destroyed several buildings including that which housed Dukes Cycle.

Apparently the building has totally collapsed so needless to say Dukes on site inventory has gone to the parts bin in the sky. ..I don't remember feeling a disturbance in the force exactly (perhaps Ottawa is too far away) but knowing Dukes and the sweet gear they always had on hand it was and is a tragedy.

Dukes location on Queen was always a 'must stop at' location whenever I was back in T.O. and that regular stop will be missed. The place was all about bikes bikes and more bikes. Cutting edge, retro, anything you could think of and the folks on the floor knew their shit too. No attitude, no 'urban-scenesters' more concerned with the logo on their flat brim ball cap or rudderless kids educated by the adverts in Mountain Bike Action like so many bike shops then and now, just friendly bike folks dishin' out solid information on how to make your riding experience better.

Lots of fond memories of that place including buying my first suspension fork, a cutting edge 1992 RockShox Mag 21 with 6 stiction settings ranging from
waaay too much stiction
jeezus this thing won't budge
and on to
why don't they just call it a lockout?
In all fairness to RockShox, the thing was fairly light even by todays standards and was very nearly indestructable. It lasted (and worked o.k.) for around 7 years. ..but I digress.

Anyway, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Dukes, but if the same people pull a phoenix out of the ashes on Queen St. you can be sure it'll be a place worth going to.

Monday, February 18, 2008

E-Load Sponsors BRR

The very generous folks at Medioncorp, makers of E-Load products, have generously agreed to provide sponsorship to Big Ring Racing this upcoming season. We are very excited about having them on-board. (Thanks so much for all your help Cristina!)

Medion corporation was cofounded in 2000 by Dr. Douglas W. Stoddard, a Canadian sport medicine physician and an avid mountain biker, and Sharon Ellis, formerly in sales and marketing and previously an Australian 400 m sprinter, now turned endurance runner. To this day, Sharon oversees the company as its’ President. Douglas, who still works daily as a sport medicine doctor in Toronto, formulates all of Medion's products based on his years of medical and sport medicine training, along with the experience that comes with having consulted with over 17,000 patients in his sport medicine career. Collectively, many of these patients are responsible for why we do what we do at Medion, that is, creating medically formulated products based on state of the art scientific principles. Medion’s products have proudly helped countless numbers of athletes all over the world both train harder and compete more successfully. They enjoy a solid reputation in the athlete world for, among other things, their physiological electrolyte profiles, high glycemic indices, high gastrointestinal tolerability, light flavours and low sweetness levels. Especially in the challenging hot environments of today, where many modern events take place, athletes are pushing ever harder, demanding more of themselves, and of their sport nutrition products. Not a day goes by when we aren’t re-examining something about our products and company, continuing to strive to help you get better at what you do by being better at what we do.

E-Load sports drink, E-MEND, E-Load energy gels (coming Spring '08) and Zone Caps are quality products that help you sustain your energy while performing at peak performance.

An added bonus is E-Load is a Canadian Company.

Stay tunned this season for reviews by Big Ring Racers of E-Load products.

Epic Training

The Vegan Vagabond, back from traveling overseas, joined us for our Sunday morning three hours spin session. Don't know what some lazy-ass Big Ringers were doing?!? I know King was recovering from a hard days effort racing in the Keski (good job by the way King!) . . . . where was everyone else?

Tanya as usual, smiles for miles.

Cool down session: beach ball bike polo, followed by 'Wacking Stick'. Want to know more? Come out next week suckas!

Kark blows kisses to his 'fans'.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Canadian Ski Marathon

On Feb 9th and 10th Tobin, James , Sophia , Myself and about 2000 others did the 42nd Canadian Ski Marathon, the wolds longest cross-country ski tour taking place just across the river in Quebec. The full marathon course is comprised of 10 sections , 5 per each day, amounting to 160 km with sections ranging from 12.5km to 23.5km and ranked according to difficulty, green =easiest, blue and black=most difficult.

There are different options to participate from doing 1 section with the family all the way to Coureur des Bois Gold where crazy people carry everything they need on their back , i've heard 30 pounds on average, to sleep outside at a special campsite on the in between night.
We did the Coureur des Bois Bronze last year and succeeded so this year was our Silver attempt. As a Bronze skiers simply have to complete all 10 sections of the course while Silvers have to complete all 10 sections plus carry a minimum 5kg pack, mine weighed in at 15 pounds plus water it turns out. Skiers must complete Bronze and Silver before attempting Gold so this was the 2nd in a 3yr process for us.
James Sophia Tobin
We took the dorm option again where for an extra 85 bucks we get to pull up a chunk of floor at the local high school and includes 2 huge breakfasts, 1 Sat night supper and shuttle bus service to and from on both days. A great deal. Other options include the world class Chateau Montebello.

Day 1
After a big dinner at nearby Plaisance we had to be well organized for an early start. The alarm went off as planned (see below) and we were having breakfast at 3:30 am to catch the shuttle bus for 4:50 to be at the start line in Buckingham for a 5:50 start. This event is well organized and timelines are respected so don't be late. Its cruel how time flys that early in the morning.

I quickly figured out that my headlamp would have been handy after leaving it behind Sat morning. Luckily the trackset will guide your skis even in the dark so i had no more wipeouts than in the latter part of the day, but wipeouts i did have.
The CPs or CheckPoints are in between each section and are manned by volunteers serving hot soup, drinks and munchies. This event runs on about 500 volunteers and wouldn't run without them! Including the army who have safety stations and water stations set up on course in between CPs. Last year our friend almost got pulled off the course when an army guy thought he might be getting frostbite, their there to help. Local outdoor based businesses like MEC, Freshair Experience to name just 2 have stations to wax your skiis if you want to wait or you can do it yourself. Many thanks to all you guys.

My strategy for this year was to not stop in between CPs. With the army guys on course serving water and gatorade this was possible. It was get into CP , guzzle liquid , cram some munchies down, check the ski wax and get moving. Man, chocolate peanuts and hot honey water are delicious..... when chased with minestrone soup and cookie....and some more salted peanuts....and some warm gatorade...
Day 1 was a good day and i made the cutoff with 1hr 10min to spare. Skiers trying to complete the Coureur class are subject to a cutoff time that coincides with the end of the 4th section of that day, if you don't make it your DNF. I skied from 5:50 am to about 4pm and completed just over 80kms day 1.
Day 2
Day 2 i didn't want to get up even though we had an extra 1/2 hour of sleep because the bus left later on this morning. Sun had some challenges. The snow temperatures made for tricky waxing, and many skiers had to stop very early to adjust their grip wax. Tobin had to, and put on a wax that was too warm so had to stop yet again to change that too. We had the same wax on but it was working for me and my body started to relax and feel OK towards the end of the first 18km section. I made exactly the same mistake in Cp1 and put on a too warm wax which I wrestled with for 5km or so before stopping to remedy the situation. It was actually causing me to crash at the bottom of downhills. When the ground flattened out the wax would grab so hard it was like putting on the brakes and yours truly would be cursing and a rolling around in the snow AGAIN!
The other challenge on day 2 was the course itself.
A- is was 10km more to the cutoff.
B- 2 sections before the cutoff were the 2 toughest sections on the whole course. Mainly the 3rd section which was only 17km but had an elevation gain of 270meters over just 5km. Not a mountain but thats a lot of herring bone stepping. After a good hour into this one i figured i had covered some distance and was heading to the finish. Thats when i saw the mileage sign and got a reality check. I started to do my time and distance calculations as always and realized that my time cushion for the cut off time was quickly fading and i needed to get my ass moving. All the climbing and huge decents had tired me out too, so i was concerned.
By the time i had finished section 3 i knew i was looking at making the cutoff within minutes either side. On the upside, the general elevation was in decline so we could make a faster pace in section 4 the final challenging section.
I have to say it was exciting racing the clock to the cutoff, i had some discomforts associated with skiing 140km in a mad rush and was really feeling the adrenalin .
I couldn't lose my Silver over 2 or 3 minutes!
Either way i was going to relax at the end of section 4, on a bus or at a nice leisurely pace to the finish line as a Silver over the last section.
In the end i made the cut off by 3min.
Tobin Sophia and I all came together at the last huge downhill into the finish line and finished together even though we had hardly seen each other all day. James finished hours in front of us.
Next year Gold!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Ring in Tucson

Big Ring Racing's annual winter training camp in Tucson, Arizona is in full swing. Only two members, Anthony and I, were able to post bad enough off-season numbers to qualify for this remedial camp, along with some other Ottawa locals in need of some fitness training. We've rented a beautiful spot up in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains that surround Tucson and are using it as home base.

After a leisurely 2 hour ride on Saturday, our day of arrival, we set out on our first adventure, a Century (100 miles) organised by the local bicycle club. We numbered a full 10% of the particpants.

Below is Ottawa boy Blair Batchelor leading our group at mid day.

Anthony put in the 100miles almost without breaking a sweat, a feat that augers well for the BC Bike Race

Unfortunately, Anthony came down with a nasty cold the day after this and has missed all subsequent rides. Total bummer.

On Tuesday we (sans Ant) did the famous Mt. Lemmon climb. I'll post something separate on that. It is essentially 40km of Pink Lake. All 8 of us made it to the top, but the grade splintered the group in a hurry so that we all spent a few hours, alone, with nothing to think about except the hill. My Polar captured the ride nicely. The brown line represents altitude, the red line is equivalent to pain.

The ride down was amazing. No brakes required, pedalling hard, it still took almost 40 minutes to get back to mile zero.

Yesterday we did a leisurely ride through the Saguaro National Park, which features a narrow, one-way, 14 km loop of rolling hills on newly paved road. An unbelievably fun loop to ride where even if you do encounter a car, you can pass it with ease.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sunday Gym Spin, round two!

For this past Sundays gym spin we were happy to have Peter S. join Lenny, Craig and myself for the fun. Better still Pete brought the 2007 solstice 'movie'. the deal with the movie was that they sent a rider out for a fast afternoon lap with a helmet vid-cam on. He turned in a 52:08min lap so it was VERY representative of the speed I was riding it myself. So, while we spun base miles we got to 'do' a lap of the solstice course.
So much fun to watch a lap of a course we all knew so well and watching it on the big screen while turning circles was completely engrossing. It was actually very weird to be pedalling away reading the trail on the screen anticipating the bumps, compressions etc. and then *not* feel them on the bike. Totally unnerving and even weirder when the camera guy started flying through the single track. We were all leaning, steering, bobbing, swaying just about falling off our road bikes! damn good thing the trainer is stable! It was also interesting to remember and actually 'feel' how hard some of the albion course sections were when we were just pedalling trainers.
Conversation during were based around our collective and individual perceptions of the course.
"oh shit, I hate this section. it just kicks my ass every time!"
"yeah, you've just blown yer legs up that last climb, cross the road thinking it'll be, and needing a recovery and are totally not ready for this energy sucking false flat with the loose sandy shit."
"yeah, yeah. ..oh this! this root! bites me too! I only got the timing for that right once. ..saves sooo much energy when you get it right."
"can you believe they put the water station here? jeesus! who can drink after that section??"
"this corner is retarded! and that wood runner down the middle of the bridge is a menace!"
"hey, is that where Channy bought it?"
etc etc.

That film made the session. The 52:00min went just as fast as a real solstice lap. Which is to say that it hurt bad for a few minutes at the start then was sooo much fun for 30min and then back into the "holy jeezus fukin krist, is this not over yet??? waddaya mean 5km to go?? that can't be right!!??"
yep, just like solstice! weee!!!

Looking forward to next week! I hope Pete can make it again cause that was an awesome diversion for an hour.

On another note, I was watching that solstice lap thinking how much it hurt and how hard it was to maintain that effort for 17km and wondering how I'll be able to pace out and manage my effort for the BC Bike Race.

shit. 100+km days. Get that 'managing your effort' thing wrong and yer a long looonnng way from the finish line! ..only to wake up the next day an do it again. eeesh. Thankfully we'll get some good long back-to-back days in North Carolina end of March.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Austin Texas MTB trip

Alright, so after one complete day of delayed flights, missing luggage, and then a chewed up bike from my lousy packing job when FedEx'ing my bikes to Texas in advance, I FINALLY managed to hit the trails his morning.

First stop was Emma Park and it's literally a motorcycle trials park. Its similar to Outback but with larger step-ups and in rapid succession. Not really the best place to shake winter rust but it sure beats being stuck in a winter storm eh? ;-)

After 2.5 hours of fun, I got back to my friend's place and had just enough time to refuel and tweak the bike before I headed off for another 1:40 of fun at Walnut Creek. Walnut reminds me of Limerick's berms and tight twisty singletrack but with hardpack/limestone instead of sand.

Here's a link to pics & vids of today's action:

Tomorrow I've got 4+ hours of Austin's infamous Barton Creek trail. This will be more of a steady outing so there won't be as many pics but I'll be sure to update. Best news is that we're supposed to see 70+ degrees for the rest of this weekend (I know you guys are happy for me).