Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mock Grand Prix Results

The First Annual Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix Event was an unmitigated success. Somewhere between 25-30 people showed up, all of whom had the kind of attitude that made for a fun ride.

Congratulations and adoration pored out for race winner Matt Surch (above) who walked away with a used PoS, but deeply symbolic, Big Ring.

Other winners included Hannah Dayan who put in a personal best, racing her way to the coveted Little Ring award for sweeping up the rear:

The first woman across the line was Anna O'Brien though it isn't clear from this photo record whether or not she finished on her bicycle or was crouched on the roof of a car:

Rick Clancy won the long-course version of the race, visiting Champlain Lookout on both of his laps in a desparate attempt to find a pelaton he could ride with. He did find one at the Chelsea pub afterwards:

The tandem competition victors were Melissa Phypers and Amelie Monvoisin:

Tobin DeCou can be seen at the start of the race warming up his right arm in preparation for his anticipated victory salute. Next to him are Stef "The Fly" Manzoni and Rodd Heino (who almost nobody could keep up with despite his self-assembled bike having at least 25mm tires):

By the end of the race, Tobin managed to get his arm all the way up as he was dragged into the finish by Blair Batchelor (who shaved 7 minutes off his personal best on each loop). Lenny Gallant can be seen in the back of this group getting ready to pick his nose:

My race consisted mainly of this view of Sarah Kirby's ass:

though I remember her as being much blurrier given that I was trying to see through an endless river of sweat. Sarah was in contention for the race win until she flatted on the second lap climb of Fortune. There was some discussion in the lead group about the etiquette of gapping someone with a mechanical, but it was put to rest by Ryan Zarychanski who abruptly declared "She'll catch up." I lost my will to live not long after that and was dropped by the lead group as well, riding the last 10 painful minutes on my own.

The lead group of five finished in approximately 1:13 which is impressive given that time and tempo was lost at all the road crossings and gates. I think this was the order of the group crossing the finish line (more aptly described as a finishing "area"):

1. Matt Surch, Tall Tree Cycles
2. Rob Parniak
3. Neil Schiemann
4. Rodd Heino
5. Ryan Zarychanski

Sadly, no Big Ring Racing team members were able to contend for the Big Ring prize. Our team post-race analysis suggests that this is a result of a number of factors, including:

1. Being too slow
2. Craig posting his strategy in a series of videos before the race.
3. Other people being too fast

Nevertheless, I am pleased that I also set a personal best, finishing a respectable 6th place approximately 90 seconds behind the lead pack, the first Big Ringer to cross the line. Gilles Monvoisin was the next Big Ringer in, proving that we over 40 guys are not to be taken too lightly. Cheers Gilles!

In addition to the prizes, Craig handed out some Pro Gold Lubricant and Citrawipes to many of the participants.

Thank you everyone for joining in. It was a learning experience and a lot of fun for me.

Hump day

Are you feelin' it??

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Vegan Vagabond, reporting for duty

I had to miss the Mock GP yesterday (did y'all miss me?) because I was in Canmore this weekend at the World Solo 24 Hour Championships supporting my good friend Monilee. Her husband Fraser was also doing the race and he had Vince supporting him.

Monilee was hoping to do very well at this event (she came 4th last year) as long as her stomach held up. She has a very sensitive digestive system and has had lots of trouble in past races.

For the first few hours, everything was going to plan. Mon was pacing herself well so that she was able to digest the food she was taking in. Each lap I was supposed to ask how her stomach was on a scale 1 - 10, 1 being great, 10 being a show stopper. At 6 she was supposed to stop racing and digest.

After a few laps a crazy thunderstorm blew in. And when I say blew, I really mean it. Vince and I were trying to prevent the pit tent from flying away while frantically hiding everything under tarps. It was chaotic.

However, whatever troubles we were having was nothing compared to those on the race course. The race quickly turned into a mud fest and it became very difficult to ride. When they came in from the lap, we changed Mon & Fraser's clothes completely and put them in full rain gear. They gulped down some hot food and finally were able to get back out there. Racers were going by the pit covered in mud.

It was a bit hard at the beginning, watching but not participating in the race. I really wanted to race...that is, until the storm came. After that I was pretty happy under the tent comfy and warm.

The rain continued off and on for much of the evening and at least one more wild monsoon blew through. Conditions were terrible. And unfortunately Mon's stomach got a little worse each lap. Finally at about 11:00pm she said her stomach was a mess, at least a 7 or 8. She could not go back out there until it was dealt with.

We hummed and hawed about what to do. Monilee was bonking while on course but couldn't eat because the stuff already in there was not digesting. She rested in the pit for a good hour or so until she finally decided she had to go back to the trailer to sleep it off. It was a hard decision for her and she was really disappointed.

It was the right thing to do though because her stomach was messed up until about 5am the next morning. We all got up at that time and Monilee got back to racing. Very impressive considering how cold and miserable it was at that hour.

Mon cranked out 3 laps for the morning and managed a 12th place finish despite the 6 hour break. I was really proud of her!

There were a lot of interesting characters at this race. Santa, Superman & Tinker were racing solo. Lots of people were in costume. Big Ring would have felt at home.

Later on in the race, probably 10 hours in we witnessed a solo girl who appeared to have ridden herself crazy. She rode by our pit singing Alice the Camel. But she didn't sing it in a happy sing-song way like you might think...she sang it in a freaky dead zombie way. It was disturbing. She kept repeating the same line over and over again, "Alice the Camel has one hump. Alice the camel has one hump. Alice the camel has one hump"...t'was creepy.

Here are some photos of the event. Take a peek while I go catch up on my sleep...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mock Smack

There was a little 'smack' talk going on over on the OMBA site today regarding the upcoming
Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix Event this Sunday. I'm not a big 'smack' talker - maybe if I podium ed once in a blue moon, or ever, I would have cause to trash talk the competition.

However, this being a special Big Ring Racing event, let the smack talk begin.

Today I went for a road ride to scope out the course, plan my attacks and loosen the legs for the onslaught that is going to take place.

This is where we will line up and I will shun (in true roadie fashion) you if you're not wearing matching jersey and shorts, are slower than I am.
Slight uphill start just past P9 on the North Loop. This is where the suffering (for you) begins and where I pull away from the peleton. The following is a video diary of my ride today, with commentary of my race plan.

Just in case you didn't get a good look at my girth in the video, here's a still photo:

Weight + gravity = speed
Yes, I am sucking in my gut.

My team pace car may have something to do with my weight. I kept looking for it during my ride.

Notice the proper way to drink from your bottle.
Also notice no visor on my helmet.
Mtn bikers leave your camelbacks at home.

** The ONLY reason I went for a ride today was to shoot this smack video AND because I ate a half of a pan of banana chocolate chip bread at three in the morning. **

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix Event

You, and anyone you would care to send this to, are invited to the First Annual Big Ring Racing Invitational Mock Grand Prix Event

Who: You.
What: Two laps of the OBC Grand Prix course.
When: Sunday 27 July 2008, 0900. This is the start time, not get to the freakin’ park and mill about time. I regret if the date doesn’t work for you, but the responses I received already had a null-set intersection.
Where: Here is the course: Here
Why: You have OCD and have channeled it thus.

I suggest parking at P8 and warming up for half an hour before we start. I'll be there around 0815. WE WILL START AT P8 AND FINISH NEAR P8, JUST BEFORE CROSSING MEECH LAKE RD (OR IS IT CHELSEA RD?). THIS ELIMATES A "HIGH SPEED" ROAD CROSSING.

Note: The park will be closed to vehicular traffic but there will the usual Sunday volume of riders (some of whom are more than capable of passing most of us). We’ll have to be very careful at the road crossings and intersections. I know that all of you have enough group riding skills to be safe.

Prizes will be awarded for first and last places. They will almost certainly suck.

Note that I have had several people waffling on attendence, concerned that they would be dropped. You can't all be the slowest person now, can you? Better to come last amongst a group of people who will taunt you in a good natured way rather than sneer at you isn't it?

If we can come up with a good post-event event notice will appear in this space.

Hope to see you out there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tour de Ontario Part 2

Part two of the tour takes place on the leg from Sault Ste Marie back to Ottawa.

Riley and I made the long drive 6 hour from Kirkland Lake to the Sault. The preride was promising with lots of hard packed singletrack and fast double track for a total of just over 10km.

On race day, the weather looked promising for the 94 riders. I rode the first 2 laps at a reasonable 4th overall. 'lil Ringer took the tag for the 3rd lap. Unfortunately a few minutes later I heard the PA announce that team 133 had a mechanical. SHIT! That's our team.

I quickly catch up to Riley and work on his bike for a few minutes to get it rideable again. He had lightly hit his derailleur/hander and the chain was getting thrown into the spokes. Riley and I completed the 3rd lap together and then I wrenched on both bikes for a bit (my crankset tensioning bolt was coming out - not a good sign).

I head out for another 2 laps. My best time for the day is about 32 min with the overall race average for all participants being close to 45 min. Riley completes his 2nd lap (our 6th) with a very respectable time of 55 min despite stopping to adjust his camelback and to get a drink of water from a checkpoint, and a crash.

I start our team's 7th lap and within 20 feet I knew something was wrong. The stupid crankset tensioning bolt had come undone and the non-drive crankarm was almost off the BB! Unfortunately, the pinch-bolt system on the non drive arm has stretched over the years and couldn't hold the axle anymore. It was pushing against the tensioning bolt which is not designed to be a structural member (being aluminum). Obviously FSA knew of this issue was they changed the deign of their Gossamer crankset set after only a couple of years on the market.

After a lot of waffling around, I decide to risk it and pour on the loctite to the tensioning bolt to try and get one last lap with Riley. Thankfully the crank held and Riley put in a smoking 51 min lap. That's only 19 minute slower than my best time. His total of 30 km is quite respectable as well.

So despite the mechanicals, be both enjoyed the day. The singletrack was extensive 70% and LOTS of fun.

Riley got lots of swag and even an interview from a local publication:

Unfortunately, due to the mechanicals we had to skip the final planned stop in Sudbury.

Monday, July 14, 2008

BC Bike Race thanks!

There is SO much to say about this event, race, experience..

I barely know where to start so I'm going to compartamentalize it a little bit just so I can sort through it for myself. This first bit is just general impressions and thanks to all the staff & volunteers.

Having no real experience in endurance racing this whole event was a very big deal for me. For background I did one 8hr solo earlier this season as training, and I've done some 24hr races on a team of 5 but all added up I've done less than 20 races in my whole life so plunking down a couple G's to race for seven biggish days in a row was really taking it up a notch. And as it turns out, it took it up several notches and all of them fun!

The first thing that needs saying is that the organization, logistics and people behind this event were and are 100% top-drawer-fantastic. At no point in this event did it feel like anything less than completely professional, well oiled, pick yer cliche of choice but it was all so well done that to look for areas to improve is difficult. Also worth noting is that while the entrance fee for this event is steep, at no point did it come off as less than totally generous. Really. ~2k per person, but unless you're a local you'd be hard pressed to do that trip on your own for less. (and it wouldn't be half the fun) 3 ferry rides, accomodations, a couple bus rides, bike and luggage transport when req'd, heaps of swag, piles and piles of food.. Amazing!
I did hear a couple critiques of some specific things but the only one that was voiced by more than a couple people was the quantity of toilets in a couple of the stage locations. It's a legitimate comment, but nobody shat themselves that I'm aware of, so, while it's an area to improve on it's not like it was unacceptable, just could be a bit better.
But anyway, the hard stuff. ie. everything else. Moving people, bikes, showers, tent city, bike shop, lounge, medical station, catering and all the other resources required to make this event pleasurable, and moving it on a tight schedule was done with the utmost professionalism, courtesy, and good humour from the staff and volunteers that it was truly incredible.

I wish I could have expressed my gratitude personally to all involved but there were far too many of them, time was short and there was already a line up at the bar..
Some, like 'Pembroke John' at the aid stations who always had a "Hey Ottawa! looking good!" were especially memorable and appreciated. ..when you're frantically trying to get in and out of the stations, someetimes it's the little things that stand out. Johns colleague for example earned a profession of my undying love for pre-opening the packages of sharkies for us. She seemed to think I was making a joke or something though.. weird. Anyway, it was thanks to all these guys and undoubtedly many many more operating behind the front lines that the event was as awesome as it was. oh yeah, one of the Moto riders was infectiously cheerfull. I didn't get, or forgot :/ his name despite talking with him at the GLC Friday, but will be remembered as the "Hello Moto.." guy.

so, to all those involved. Thanks. It was an amazing experience.
team 26 (2)

p.s. Thanks also to the fellow racers who we spent many hours with out on course. Unfortunately I didn't get many names, but we enjoyed the time and conversation spent with a few teams in particular including the Ryders guys, the Vermont guys on the Lynskey niners, the Steed Cycles women, several of the folks from Eriksen, Julio (Suarez rep) and quite a few more.


P.S. I'll follow with some rather wordy stage by stage reports..

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tour de Ontario - Part 1

I'm off this week and decided that as I made my way up towards the out-laws in Kirkland Lake, I should check out some new MTB spots.

Forest Lea

I've heard and read lots about Forest Lea up in Pembroke so I decided to check it out Friday afternoon.

It's a pretty simple spot to find, about 5 minutes off 17. From Ottawa, it was about hour and fifteen minute drive. Upon exiting the car I was instantly greeted by a dozen deer flies, and unfortunately that was the theme for the day.

Forest Lea reminds me a lot of Limerick with a bit of Bracebridge's Porcupine Ridge thrown in. There are several different sections which nicely flow into each other thanks to trail signs. The stuff closest to the parking lot (right side of the map) seemed fairly new. While the route was well laid out by taking advantage of the natural terrain, it was a little tight and bumpy to get much flow.

As I worked my way left on the map and further from the parking lot the fun quotient increased as trails opened up and seemed more mature (fast and hardpacked).

There really was lots of nice stuff in there, but unfortunately a hard workout meant I was sweating my bug dope off and eventually the deer flies literally drove me out of the woods. Thankfully I managed to grab most if not all the single track and was done in about an hour and 20.

With a little more trail work and traffic (especially in the stuff closest to the parking lot) this area can be quite the little gem and a nice way to break up a long drive. I'd love to go back later this fall once the flies are gone and now that I know what to expect.

North Bay

The next day took me to North Bay. I've been travelling through the area for years and always wondered why there weren't more trails. I heard there was a bit near the ski hill (Jack Pine) but nothing really extensive (or so I thought).

I recently read on - Eastern Canada sub-forum that there's a lot more stuff than previously though. The good stuff is further east (about 9 km out of town) towards QC.

X - marks the spot.

Fairly discrete Pipeline access road (look for the no dumping sign) about 3 km after the Nordic Ski Club off of Shore Road.

What I found was quite impressive. There's a HUGE amount of time invested into these trails. The trails were raked and even reinforced in places. It's all easy enough to ride for an intermediate, yet the damp and frequent baby heads make it challenging for more advanced riders at speed. A squishy fork is really appreciated here!

The trails are dark dirty hardpacked with a few roots and quite a few baby heads. The best comparison would be hiking trails around Gatineau Park without the extreme elevation changes. The trails had amazing flow and lots of fun little sections that used the natural terrain quite well.

In terms of layout, the network is based around a pipe line access road. It's a bit of a climb but nothing too steep or sustained. I pretty much did all the stuff to the right of the map: Jaret's Jungle, Trapper's Trail, Bridge over Water... Why? (that's the actual trail name, there's also Grampa's Gullies extending that loop which is not on the map), Bull's Loop, Higher Ground, Pearl's Garden, Dan-Don Valley Parkway, then Trapper's Trail back down, Dave's Murray Downhill run, finally finished with La Flume. Whew, all that took me just under 2 hours of fairly sustained riding. There's lots of stuff here folks!

Waterfall run (see it in the background)

Jaret's Jungle

Bridge over Water... Why? This trail was quite long.


After North Bay I finally headed up to Kirkland Lake - The Original Big Ring's old stomping ground. Nothing too exciting up here but I did manage to get 'lil Ringer out a bit in anticipation of this weekend's 8 hour 2-man in the Sault.

Riley chasing a fairly anorexic bear off the trail.

'lil Ringer grunting and clearing the whole climb up an old ski hill.

Rarely does everything go perfectly over a multiple day bike trip and even though my rig is quite new and maintained, I did get a surprise. I should have heeded the warning when Kent of Phat Moose said about 6 weeks ago "we'll see how long those new Raceface outboard bearings last" ...

Unfortunately in North Bay, I noticed that there was substantial resistance in the cranks and sure enough, the non-drive bearing seized.

The culprit, what a piece of junk!

The problem is that in KL, there's an abundance of booze, drugs, guns, and pick-ups, but no bike shops. I was screwed and had little time to replace the bearing before the Sault race in 5 days time.

Thankfully, a local rider and buddy of Craig and I came to the rescue. He had a brand new RaceFace Deus crankset with the X-type external bearings AND a wrench!?!? Seriously, what are the odds of that? A quick visit and the bearings & cups were swapped. U rock Glen!

Given RaceFace's bearing track record (and reviews) I realise it's not a permanent solution but surely it should be enough to last me this weekend before I toss the whole setup and go back to either square taper or SKF ISIS.

Stay tuned for Part Deux of Tour de Ontario where I post this weekend's race, some picks of Sault's lovely tight and twisty singletrack, and a stop in Sudbury on the way home to finally check out some apparently good stuff near Laurentian University.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stick a Fork In It

Just a quick post from The Vegan Vagabond, Curvy Butt and big ring (posting from rainy Whistler Village) letting you know that we are still alive, tired, but alive. Sleeping, eating, hot tubbing, eating, hot tubbing, napping . . . . a nice change from having our legs torn off of our bodies every day for the last seven.

The race was fantastic and we all had a blast. We're proud of how the Big Ringers did and kinda think if the whole 7 days were like the last 2 single track filled days, we would have kicked more ass. We were ripping it up in the technical stuff!

If the rain lets up, tomorrow's plan is renting big bikes and trying out the downhill course here at Whistler. Yes, despite the sore tushes we still want to ride bikes.

Be home soon with lots of stories to tell.
Hugs & Kisses,
Vegan Vagabond, Curvy Butt & big ring