Tuesday, September 30, 2008

O.P.R.A.H. Turkey Time Trial

Are you faster than Oprah on a honey glazed ham?

. . . Gobble Gobble Gee, Gobble Gobble Goo, Let's Eat Turkey In a Big Brown Shoe. . .

Big Ring Racing presents the first annual O.P.R.A.H Turkey Time Trial on Saturday, October 11th at 10am.

What does O.P.R.A.H stand for?
Outback, Pete's wicked, Ridge top, Annex and then have a Heart attack Turkey Time Trial
(for sake of humor 'Gateway' was omitted but will be part of the course)

Course marked in orange
  • Start/Finish: the beginning of Outback (Huntmar side)
  • One lap of the set course
  • Trails will be temporarily marked during the race to help you stay on course
  • Mock Turkey given out for fastest/slowest time and best predicted time
  • Crappy draw prizes to be given out at end of race
  • Race is for fun only . . . and of course fame
  • Cost: nothing, nada, zip, zero
  • In the event of wet trails or rain, this event will be rescheduled (please respect the trails!)
Riders will start one at a time, with a sixty second split between starts. Slower riders should give way to faster, approaching riders. Your time will stop when you make it back to the start.

The organizers of this event are not responsible for any injury, loss of life or limb, theft or property damage. Nor are we responsible if we have offended you with a photo of Oprah and a turkey. There will be a sweep rider - if you are injured, lost or have a mechanical that you cannot fix, please stay put and help will come to you.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Thursday night was the final bike prep night at Bicycles For Humanity for all the donated bicycles to be shipped over to Namibia this weekend. Three Big Ringers gave their time (and blood - I got a boo boo!) to remove pedals and turn bars.

Golonghardman meets his match.

The Vegan Vagabond seemed to get stuck with all the bikes with baby seats on -
which she had the tedious task of removing.

One down, 419 to go.

Damn I take a good picture.
Who says that a gel seat cover is only used for sitting on?

The container, which once it arrives in Namibia will become the bike repair shop, is being loaded today. 420+ bikes will be loaded up, along with helmets, bike bags, spare parts, tires and tubes, and soccer equipment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pauls Dirty Enduro -60km of I suck

Welcome to my worst race ever.

This was my first time to Ganaraska, and while I sucked and did everything wrong like some dumb newb, I actually really liked the event, the people, the general 'feel' of the event, the course (amazing!!!) and the company (when I wasn't alone out there) but I've never done so poorly or made so many rookie dumb-ass mistakes at an event since my first 24hr relay in 1998 when I refueled between my first and second laps by drinking beer and eating big fat BBQ'd sausages with sauerkraut. ..word to the wise kids. Don't do that. my second lap that day was really really hard. no foolin' around, it sucked.

anyway, back to Pauls.

Training for Pauls Dirty Enduro. (This won't take long). Basically with the exception of Hot August Nights and a couple rides in the week before HAN I've been tapering for this event since getting back from the BC Bike Race.
Which is why my poor showing is so surprising to me. ..I mean I'd been tapering for over two months. Shit, if sitting on couch heaving in beers (carb loading) for 2+ months doesn't give you fresh legs for a MTB race then what ever would??

Seriously, I knew that the lack of time in the saddle would make it hurt a bit more than usual but I'm o.k. with hurt. Really. Biking usually hurts a bit. Racing always hurts a lot. It's a fact. So, worrying about a bike race hurting is like worrying about winter coming in Canada. Why bother? Neither Winter nor Hurt care two shits how you feel about them so you might just as well learn to like some of the things that come with them like skiiing in the case of winter and singletrack in the case of MTB racing.

I think what really screwed me over for this race was the 21hrs put in the previous day doing renovation work on a apartment unit in Toronto. Trenching in concrete with hand tools, skipping dinner, guzzling coffee, working until after 1am, not drinking water, then packing up, driving back and not getting to sleep until 4am really set things back a notch on the preparation front.
I'd actually been strongly considering doing the 100km event (which I knew would really hurt even under ideal circumstances) but that ship sailed off into the sunset around midnight the night before when I was still down on my hands and knees chipping at concrete with a hammer and chisel and a two hour drive from my bed for the night..

The 60 though. That should still be a doddle.. Easy peasy. Right as rain. Walk in the park. No worries. Just another training ride.

So, following the horror show of renovation work the night before, and nearly 4hrs of blissfull sleep, I got up and decided that apart from puffy sore eyes, sinus cavities full of concrete dust and sore hands from working the stone hammer I felt pretty good so i'd go and race the 60km of singletrack.

After piling in a huge breakfast courtesy of the mum-inlaw (there's nothing they don't know about big breakfasts) I jetted off to Millbrook to the ATM, then down to the Ganaraska forest center to sign up and throw down. Only I was a little shy on time. Ensueing big ol' panic getting the registration and waiver thingy done, changed, assembled bike, and rushed off to the start area.

There were a few little details that I, with help from sleep deprivation and anxiety from fear of missing the start, let slip in that preparation process that would be haunting and hurting me later on. First, I had no water in my bottle or hydra pack. I did have two scoops of eload in the bottle but without a like-m-aid stick or water it wasn't helping me any. I'd not filled up before leaving the inlaw's cause they've got that nasty sulfur water that smells like eggy ass so I arrived with only about half or 2/3 of a bottle worth in the hydrapack. Coupled with not having drank much of anything except coffee the day before I was pretty far into the dehydration hole already. I also didn't have time for my morning fruit smoothy ritual. I live or die by these things and going without is for me a harbinger of doom.

So, dehydrated and without water or electrolytes I lined at the startline halfway through the role call with about 1 min to spare. I used this generous window to plan my strategy for the race and quietly gloat to myself knowing I definately had the lightest water bottle and hydrapack of anyone there! Fools!, I thought. Not being weighed down by water I would surely be flying up the hills!

And thus we have the preamble and excuses laid down. Now on to the race itself.
I was at least initially right. Not having any water in or on my body, nor on my bike I was fast out of the gate. About 25 positions from the front for the first bit, picking off riders, giving up to some others I was going pretty hard. I figured I'd just go hard and see what comes of it. (it may be also that I lack discipline so would go hard anyway until I blew up and I'm just forming strategies around inherent proclivities, you decide.) So while I felt crappy and felt like puking I kept up the speed and for the most part held my position.
one other thing I'd forgotten was my watch. I'd put the HR strap on but neglected to put on the watch part and so without a cyclometer on the bike or watch on wrist, I had NO idea what time it was or where I might be in the course. Generally I know I can ride between 15km/h and 19km/h in singletrack depending on distance course conditions etc and so with a watch could guesstimate my position on course and know when to expect a feed zone.
But without it I was totally fucking lost. I'd never been in that position before and had no idea how much of an effect it would have on me throughout the race, and especially in the 'low' times.
But back to the race. I'd held pretty good speed and came into the first feed zone around a quarter after 12. So about 1:15 in. I made the mistake of asking a volunteer what time it was and where we were in the course.
(Stupid! I know never to ask the volunteers where you are. They want to be, and feel the need to be helpfull and provide an answer but often don't know where they are themselves and/or don't appreciate that they got there by a different route or maybe don't know that every kilometer counts so as often as not don't give a correct answer and you end up playing head games with yourself as a result)
The guy at feedzone 1 said I was about halfway.
Halfway?! an hour and fifteen in and I'm halfway? can't be. I can't ride 30km of singletrack in 1:15. no way. I'm just not that fast.
or am I?
So I left confused and playing headgames like "maybe I am halfway??" "maybe I'll place really well!!" "maybe I'll kick everyones ass six ways from sunday and I'll keep my weight weenie secret of the empty water bottle and hydrapack to myself!! hahhahahhaahah!!!, Victory, nay, World Domination will be mine!!!"

But alas, having filled my water bottle at the aid station I'd dashed all chances of remaining lightweight and fleet of foot and wheel.

That said between aid station 1 and 2 I was still riding fairly well. I'd lost three positions, one to the guy in the Canada jersey, another to the guy with the fender and the third I can't remember cause he dusted my ass so fast I didn't have much chance to see him, and while I wasn't feeling exactly 'spry' I was turning decent consistent revs and going forward.

Shortly after the second aid station things got a little sideways on me. At first I had what I though were my legs showing up. All of sudden they felt great. They started turning circles really smooth, my upper body quietened, my back pain eased off (it had been going from extreme to dull ache and back)
and I thought, this is it! I remember this, this feels like BC when the legs just spun by themselves. I could see one of the positions I'd lost up ahead and I was reeling him in. Cool! I got past him, caught a glimpse of another position lost earlier and so kept the pace to gain on him. I'd just gotten up to him and he called for me to pass on a hill. I didn't have really any power left but since he'd called the pass I dug in and cranked by him. It was hard.

Then I cramped. My left quad went mental, and the right one was rattling it's sabre also. I had to stop and lean against a tree. I couldn't support my own body weight without the bike under me so tryed to stretch it out a bit on the bike. I don't think I was there for very long but it was enough to lose back the two spots I'd just gained plus one more. poo. and I could hear another rider catching up from behind.

So I tried to spin it out and that sort of worked to keep things moving but the legs were pretty fragile so it was all down to spinning within a fairly narrow envelope of rpms and effort. At this point I was feeling pretty fragile all around and was just trying to stay ahead of the rider in back. They were not really gaining on me very quickly so I thought I might be able to hold them off, but it became apparent that they were indeed going to catch me. Oh well, I thought it took her a while to get me I should be able to hold her wheel and pace off of her.
Despite how long (so it seemed) it took for her to catch me, once she got by she tore me off her wheel like nothin. poo. I'm pretty sure it was a strategy thing to sit in back for a moment, gather some steam, then blow by me and gap it out so I can't use her to pace or draft (it's what I do) but even still I had nothing left for trying to hold onto her.
..I did keep her in earshot long enough to ask a desperate sounding "where are we on the course?" She said it was 42km at that point.
Fuck me..
I'd hoped for something in the fifties. 18km left, I'd cramped, I felt weak and hollow. Shit. I thought. I know why I feel hollow. I haven't eaten a thing besides a few orange wedges at feed zone one. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!

I stopped and pulled out a bag of sharkies, ate half, sucked in one gel put another one in my jersey pocket and proceeded to gring along in my granny, feeling sorry for myself. Wishing I was smart enough to stay in bed, or smart enough to eat, or drink, then I would think, "No! I like this! I suck, but the trail doesn't so just try to enjoy the course." For a little while I fought the despair but eventually I was just wallowing around lost in self pity bouncing between feeling sorry for myself and thinking "fuck sympathy, I want Vengeance!" "surely this isn't MY fault!?!" "Someone else MUST be to blame for this piss poor performance!"

like I said, the company was great when I wasn't alone.

to make matters worse, during this section when I was metaphorically kicking my lunchpail down the street I'd been spending a lot of time head hung down grumbling about shit and consequently I missed a turn. So, I stopped looked around. Didn't see any overt sign of trail under my wheels, indeed didn't see much 'trail' at all. I started back tracking and saw another woman rider was coming towards me. She asked if I was lost and indeed I was, but just as she'd asked I saw a trail marker, so with an 'aha!' I said, "I think I was but this must be it, though I thought I'd just come up this way" Anyway, the arrow was clear, I had another rider interpreting it the same so I rode on in front of her. Until a few minutes later I realized I'd already been through this section. Yep, I was doing it again and I recognized it clearly because I didn't particularily like it the first time. That said, I did at least know I was on the course and that was a small improvement over being lost so I rode on and did a couple kilometers two-times. ..cause I'm cool like that.

I managed to stay in front of the other rider until the third aid station where I had a leisurely stop and found out from my fellow rider (soon to be in front) that it was another 15km to the finish. So, I'd only made 3km since the last woman passed me and it'd seemed like fucking forever. yay.

oh well. I kinda thought about quitting, and if I'd known where I was I might have considered it more seriously but I'd have had to ask for directions and admit to failure and quitting when it was clear I was still standing, ambulatory, coherent etc. so.. I left the third aid station hoping that it would be a fast 15. ha.
I was walking a lot of the hills by this time. Indeed, I was stopping and considering walking anything that wasn't dead level or down. I was passed not far past the third aid station by a SS true north woman and a guy. They asked me if I was doing the 100. "No." I said thinking shit. 'I look so bad and desperate that folks think I must have an extra 40km under me to look this bad. I suck.'

so grumpy bird walked up the hill.

They were off over the horizon as quick as they came and a few minutes later I had some more cramps. but in my belly this time. oh shit. (<-pun)
I held off the stomach rumblings for a few minutes but I knew as the capt did too it was the witch of diarreahea come stealin.

off into the woods for me. Beauty. I wear bibs like, hardly ever, and the one time I do is when I get crampy diarreahea. Anyway, another few minutes lost to that. (thank god for wet wipes) The original big ring rolled past while I was getting my kit back on and while I could hear his hope hub telling me that he was walking the next hill, I couldn't get back on my bike in time to catch him. It's just as well too, cause he was having a good race so I'd have held him back and stolen his mojo if I tried to ride with him.

Thankfully, the 60 and 100km courses merged with some shorter races a little ways after that so there were more people on the trail, even better some were even slower than me so I got to perk up my ego a tiny bit and so finished the last few km's a bit quicker.

So, while it was without doubt my worst race ever. I really liked the event and will do it again next year for sure. Maybe the 100, maybe the 60 again, not sure.
I was very surprised how unrelenting Pauls Dirty Enduro, and Ganaraska is. 60km of singletrack in a race is absolutely punishing. I've done lots of long rides but it's easy to underestimate the recovery you get from even short sections of smooth doubletrack or road. There's also nowhere to (easily) eat and even drinking is difficult by comparison to other courses so it requires discipline on that front and a little more prep than I threw at it.

Bottom line. I highly recommend this. Much fun, great course, great people. As sore and bitter and full of self pity as I was for some of this race, that stuff all evaporates really quickly upon coming across the finish line because in those dark times its all about finishing and that's accomplishment enough.

I don't have any photos of this event or of me, but if you wanted you could imagine me trackstanding or walking with my head hanging down, shoulders slumped in defeat and put a forest backdrop and you've got a lot of my race covered with that one image. ha!

oh yeah, I ended up coming in 32nd of ~95 people I think at 4hrs 4min. 

Spanked by Crank

This weekend I went down for the inaugural Crank the Bog, er I mean Shield race. Much of the first two days were a big boggy mess and it turns out that I suck at bogs. After much practice (50km+) of bog slogging, I improved to an at least a below average bog hopper.

Day 1

Started out in Buckwallow. Did about 10km there which was super fun singletrack. However I was dismayed to hear they didn't include the 5 hardest km's of singletrack which were described as flat Fortune stuff. wtf? That sounds like the kind of thing you might want at a tough race but what do I know.

Anyway next we got onto the road where I unsuccessfully tried to find groups to draft with. It was tough going; I felt like I was chasing but not catching the whole time. I mostly rode alone in that section.

Next up was our first foray into to the bogs. I don't know how to portray this section so that you really get the idea of how crazy it was. How about a picture...this one I found (not me) describes it perfectly. Very typical. This was not mountain biking, it was adventure racing...at its worst. There were big ass bogs every 500m that were deep and yucky and interspersed between the bogs were big ass mud puddles. One bog was up to my bits and a guy had to grab my bike because otherwise I wasn't getting out.

I finished this day in 6th place. I had wanted a top 5 finish but it wasn't to be. There were some elite O-Cup girls & even a few national level racers at Crank who are apparently not only fast as hell mountain bikers but also excellent bog navigators as well. I was impressed at the times they pulled off in that craziness.

Day 2

Sean Ruppel promised us a better day for day 2. Now I don't want to call him a liar but in no way was day 2 better than day 1. Unless you interpret better as being a longer, harder, more relentless bogfest. Day 2 was one of the hardest days I've had on a bike. Every now and then I would have these little giggle fits about how ridiculous the whole thing was. Grown adults frantically rushing through bogs. Oh well, beats sitting in front of a computer, I guess.

Luckily I eventually met up with some nice guys (Nick from Ottawa and his partner Luke) and rode with them for the second half of the race. They distracted me with humour and showed me how plowing through the bogs was a better technique than walking around the edges. Somehow I maintained my 6th place on this day and was now out of 5th by 35 minutes with my day 1 and 2 times combined. Decided my top 5 finish was not happening. Didn't care. Just want to finish the race.

Day 3

I didn't even listen to the course description for day 3. After the previous description being so out of whack, I didn't care.

We started off with a 17km neutral start. During that 17km we had a neutral pee break. No seriously, I'm not kidding. After 7km the whole pack stopped for a 2 minute pee break.
We finally get to the start line and the race begins. We climbed for a long time and twenty minutes in the legs finally decided to warm up and agreed to race.

A little bit of mud for the first half but it was fun and rideable mud, nothing like we'd seen the past two days. I was riding well and feeling good. We hit some road sections and I peddled like a mad woman trying to keep a couple of girls behind me. It worked, didn't see them again.

Then we hit the single track. Sweeeet. Finally something I could do well in this race. Almost the entire race up to this point consisted of my weaknesses (bogs and road) so I was happy to finally be in my element. For the last hour and a half of the race I rode the singletrack like I ride a fortune race. Heart rate soaring and about to barf a lung. I passed at least 15 riders (had barely passed that many riders during the whole previous two days)and was nearly seeing stars by the end. Really fun. I got to the finish line and just about fell over.

The fruits of my labour was a 5th place finish for the day and 5 minutes out of overall 5th place. Crap! So close. Oh well, I consider it a success since I really gave everything I had.

Just a note about Crank the Shield. Despite the ass course conditions, the organization was amazing and the race was a really fun time. Tons of riders from Ottawa and familiar faces from previous chico races. Despite my negative race report, I actually had a blast this weekend. I won't go back to this race again mind you, but I really did enjoy myself overall.

Whew, racing season is over. This year was a tough one. Time for some fun fall rides!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BRR 1 - Chelsea Trails 1

The Team Dictator and I headed back to Chelsea after having so much fun a couple of weeks ago. BRR kicked some ass two weeks ago, today it was the trails turn to kick our butts. You'll notice in the pics that our Benevolent Dictator is not on his bike very often and that was the theme for the day. It was a fair fight until we stumbled across an old tough trail and it went downhill from there.

Dictator walking early on............

The Tortise and the Hare

Twilight Zone

Trying to find a mechanical reason for the difficulties

Big ring didn't notice the fresh deadfall.................

Big ring and Fritz have not been doing a very good job
convincing me of the benefits of going tubeless.........

An absolute battle of a ride, wet roots and really high humidity made
this one a real tough ride and I loved it. Success without the legitimate
possibility of failure is a pretty shallow victory, and today there was plenty
of failure to spread around.


PS. Chelsea should be a real treat in the rain.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chelsea trails. . . Woohoo!

Monday was a holiday here so it was a perfect day to gather up a few folks for some fine singletrack. I had never ridden the Chelsea trails before so this was all new to me and I must say that I was impressed. I've never ridden any of the singletrack trails on the Quebec side of the river before because the ones I know of are illegal. They are in Gatineau Park and the organization that looks after them (NCC) has designated them as illegal for bikes, they are for hiking use only! GRRRRR. The section of trails that we rode on Monday isn't in Gatineau Park and therefore do not fall under the administrative umbrella of the NCC.

There were six of us that were able to make it out to the ride. Here's a pic of most of us as we regrouped and caught our breath:

The riders from left to right are:
King aka "If it's steep I can ride it"
Fritz aka "Fritzman"
Steve aka "I drive a new car every week"
Lenny aka "The mule"
and Tanya aka "The Vegan Vagabond"

Oh yeah, someone had to take the picture, here he is... he is part of the reason why I was called the mule for the ride.
Looks a little camera shy doesn't he? QUOTE: Check out my weenie!
Here's another one of Mr. Camera shy... Mah tongue is soooo schexy!

Here's a good one of Fritz trying to sell the rest of us on tubeless.

Another quote: "This almost never happens! Hey mule, can I borrow your pump?"

All in all it was a very fun day. We were gone for about 3 hours but only had the wheels turning for about half of that time. The pace was pretty casual with lots of stopping for shooting the shit, resting or fixing a mechanical. We had two flats but luckily the mule was along and packing a pump. Did I mention that I also carried Big Ring's water? It was just in case he wanted to drink more then the princess was willing to carry.

Here's a great shot of VV riding some of the singletrack...
Thanks for organizing the ride Craig, I had a lot of fun. My back is sore today and I think I know why!!!