Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hardfolk Classic - November 22nd

Beauty scenery.

Get your crayons out, print off this photo and colour some of the leaves yellow, orange and brown. Take an eraser and rub off some of the leaves. Now colour the grass brown. Do all of that and you'll get an idea of the beautiful scenery that you'll see if you go on this ride.

Or . . . . you could just go on this ride.

Lots of info and possible routes over on the Tall Tree Cycles Ride Log.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Winter

Yahoo, I know it is short lived but it was nice to have such a quick transition from bike to ski!

It's the End of the Season. So what's next ?

It's the end of the season and time to take a break from cycling both physically and mentally. It's time for a well deserved rest from the pressures and demands of training and racing. This is your reward for a great season. Relax, go for a fun ride, do something crazy ( something routine I'm sure for a Big Ring racer ), have an extra beer or serving of fries ( or maybe that's a Big Ring racer's normal diet ?*?* ). This is your down time.

It's a time to reflect on the past season.
  • Were my expectations and goals achieved ?
  • Why did things go well in one race or not as well as I had hoped in another race?
  • What did I do right ?
  • What can I do to change my training to improve my performance?
  • What are my strengths and what are my weaknesses ?
  • Do I need to work on improving my flexibility ? Those darn hamstrings sure are tight. Maybe I could add a yoga class to my routine.
  • Is my core weak ? Maybe I should add a core strengthening program to my work out or join a pilates class ? Those arms and back muscles sure got tired on those 24 hour races. Maybe I need to add a weight routine to my program ?
  • Did those extra pounds slow me down on those big long hills ? ( you know who you are !) Maybe I shouldn't have had that extra beer and fries all season long *?*?
  • Did I have a nagging injury that needs a rest and needs to be addressed ?
  • Was I uncomfortable on my bike ?
  • Was knee, back or neck pain with me on those rides ?
  • Was I as efficient as I could be on my bike? Maybe it is time to have a closer look at my position on my bike.
  • What can I change to better achieve my cycling goals ?

What are my cycling goals for next season ?
  • Is it the Sunset series or the BC bike race ?
  • What will the race schedule be for next season ?
  • Will it be technical or non- technical ?
So after you've had that well deserved holiday (not too long to avoid losing all of last year's fitness -some might say 2-4 weeks max). It's time to develop a detailed training plan to help you achieve your goals for next season. You may make your own plan (especially if successful last season) or it may be with the help of a coach/trainer.

The off season is a time to maintain your fitness, work on different muscle groups, build on past successes and work on the missing links. Some people may put their bikes away for the season and simply cross train. Cross country skiing is an excellent way to maintain and build your cardiovascular fitness. Some may choose to hop on their trainers or join a spinning class. Maybe it will be Gille's most excellent spin and core classes at the RA centre. Or maybe I'll have fun on the packed snowy trails of Kanata Lakes. As next season nears; build up your training gradually. It won't be long till you're right back in to the thick of full out training and race season.

So here's to a fun winter off season and a rewarding season next year.


Bike 2 Body

Friday, October 24, 2008

Did I mention I love my Vassago?

Twas definitely the afternoon to skip out of work early and go for a ride. What a beautiful time of year. This was my second ride on my new Vassago Optimus Ti and figured today was the day to tackle Outback on it, just to see what we could do together.

Had the bike in at the Moose to get a few things tweaked after my first ride and forgot to do a once over before jumping on it. After a few bumpy minutes I stopped to check the tire pressure. 50 psi! Thank goodness I'd brought my Lenny along to carry a pump, pressure guage, and do trail-side maintenance, lowering the pressure to 28psi. I recommend Lenny to everyone out there with moderate-to-low expectations.

Charlotte, who has been riding for three months now since buying Tanya's old Rocky Mountain, came along and looked on with rapt admiration (or mild disdain, hard to tell) at Lenny's altruism:

Charlotte (or HFT as she was known at work when I met her) is a star on the rise. Today was her introduction to Outback. As we headed in via Rockhopper, we came upon Scott, Roland, Brian, and Kari headed in the opposite direction:

One of the great things about Kari is that everyone is always happy to see her. On the other hand, one of the frustrating things about Kari is that everyone is always happy to see her. Ever try to go anywhere with this woman? It takes forever! One of my fond memories of the BC BikeRace was a walk I took with Kari from the campsites to the arena 300m away. It took 45 minutes since we stopped to talk to people every 30 seconds. We talked with people I have no idea how Kari knew. But she did. She's like the mountain biking female version of the King of Kensington . I managed to pry Charlotte and Lenny away from Kari's siren call and get going again.

The pictures paint a story of the beauty of riding through the Canadian Shield in autumn. There were a lot of smiles today:

Here's Charlotte with her first ever attempt at a V-tree. It was a great success, if you consider getting your ass wedged between two trees successful:

Aw shucks Lenny, that was a great ride. If only The Beaver had been able to join in:

So, in conclusion. I love my new bike.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vassago Optimus Ti

After months of delays waiting for various things to arrive (and I include little Finn here), I finally got out on my gorgeous new Vassago Optimus Ti. Today was my first ever ride on a Single Speed (not including my fixed gear commuter bike that goes 40k/day all winter), on 29 inch wheels, and first ride in 4 years on a hard tail.

I'm sold. It was awesome. I can't say enough about this bike. I cleared things on Ridgetop that I often struggle with even on my FS bike that fits me like a glove and that I have ridden on for four seasons. Corners I normally brake on I railed without slowing. And it's not even set up quite right yet. The headset is messed up, not sure about the stem length or stack height, the rear brakes are squishy, there rear wheel isn't true (though it is truly oblong).

This bike rocks. And it's gorgeous. Check out the headbadge on the front. Even my dog Kona stared at it in awe. I think she particularly likes the laser etching.

I've read about this bike and tried to absorb all the technical details, but really I find that sort of thing uninteresting without context. I like to ride and see how something performs. Now I'm going to go back and re-read everything I ignored before because I now have reason to believe it might just be true.

Monday, October 13, 2008

NHL Hockey, Biking, and surrounded by hot blondes – does it get any better than this?

So, last week my wife and I came back from a one week trip in Sweden. Since we’re huge Sens fans, we decided to travel to Stockholm to see our favorite NHL team, Ottawa Senators, play the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sweden apparently has a Sparty Cat of their own (pic taken inside the Globe arena).

Since I’ve previously travelled with my bike, I was anxious to try out my new Pika Packworks bike bag. ,,6610,s1-6-3-16835-1,00.html

This is a pretty amazing bag as it’s light, durable, and simple to use.

To pack the bike, I only needed to remove the wheels, seatpost and saddle, and the handlebars from the stem (despite the instructions, I was able to keep the pedals on). There was a pouch for the wheels, seatpost/saddle, and shoes. There was a pad for the top tube which also held the handlebars with the fork facing backwards. The bottom of the bag had a dense foam saddle to hold the BB up so the chainring could be supported without resting on the bottom of the bag.

All told, the bag weighted 45 lbs with the bike, and all of my cycling gear. I’m sure with future trips (with more consistent weather) I can get as low as 40 lbs. The bag hid it’s contents well and I was never asked about it’s contents or charge extra. Sweet!

Back to the trip, our check-in at the hotel was pretty much as documented in the Ottawa Citizen (link to Citizen article - scroll down a bit) by Allan whom we met at the Sens/Pens practice on the Friday.

While Allan got it wrong saying I was trying to book the same hotel as the Sens, I did inadvertently manage to book us in the same hotel used by the Penguins organisation.

View outside of our hotel room.

Across the bridge in proceeding picture is the very old island/district of Gamla Stan. The island has tiny cobblestone alleys and tall crooked buildings.

Back at the hotel, it was pretty cool throughout the week to see professional player’s lifestyle. Because the hotel is a ‘safe zone’, the players were pretty relaxed. I pretty much met or spoke to the entire team including Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Fleury, Staal, Malkin, Satan, etc… Not as cool as meeting all the Sens players, but better than nothing.

Sidney Crosby pic. He has a real firm handshake!

The hockey venue itself was held at the Globen arena. Honestly, it makes for a pretty ugly backdrop to Stockholm's more historical architecture.

Looks like some kind of alien spacecraft. Observe the 'portholes' even.

Inside it's quite large and comfortable (both games sold out at 13,000). Although by Swedish standards, it's quite inefficient with only the lower half of the 'ball' in use.

OK, onto the biking. The bag did amazing on the trip and I was able to rebuild the bike in just a few minutes. However, things took a turn for the worse when my mini pump refused to inflate my tires.

Thankfully Cykel Works came to the rescue

As cool as the shop owner was talking about hockey & cycling in Stockholm, I wasn’t expecting to see him again. However, on day 2 a rear spoke suddenly popped and I was back to get it fixed.

The shop all kinds of cool antiques. Here's a late 1800's big wheel.

Once I finally got out to ride, I quickly discovered that the Stockholm cycling infrastructure was actually a little overwhelming.

Public air pump for bikers

Every few hundred meters there was an intersection with well marked directions and distance to various bike routes. Stopping each time was too slow so I eventually just rode and depended on my trusty Garmin Edge GPS computer to point me in the right direction when it was time to head home.

Morning commuters crossing the road, note the cycling-only traffic light on the upper right.

In the end I managed about 150 km which is not bad considering the amount of intersections and traffic lights.

GPS results from a typical bike outing

It was pretty cool rushing along a busy street in town on the bike-only lane.

The best part of bringing a bike on a trip is that you can get away from typical touristy stuff and play ‘local’.

Some cozy Swedish homes

Cycling along a boulevard, weather was great for every day except one.

As for the bike that the local used, they were pretty simplistic machines. Many of them appeared to be single speeds but in fact some of them were geared hub machines.

Neat built-in bike lock welded onto the seatstays

In hind site, I was very glad I brought the road bike instead of the MTB. Apparently the MTBing is world-class here (hosting the 2006 Singlespeed World Championships even), but I was worried about carting a muddy bike through a 5 star hotel lobby every day. Also, the overall lack of speed and increased complexity of a MTB was another deterrent.

My usual bike-in-pic #1

My usual bike-in-pic #2

Besides the hockey and cycling, there is a couple of other Swedish must see.

The Vasa is a warship that sunk in 1628 within a few hundred meters on its maiden voyage when a slight breeze capsized the vessel. Apparently adding that second gun deck later in the construction phase wasn’t a good idea eh? Since the water around Stockholm is brackish (mix of salt water from the Baltic sea and fresh water from lake Malaren), the salt worm doesn’t flourish and so the hull was almost perfectly preserved. They raise the ship in the 1960s and restored it.

This picture of the Vasa doesn’t do it justice, this thing is HUGE (220 feet long, 38 feet wide, keel to top of the rear deck has to be 30+ feet high)!

Link to more info on the Vasa if you’re interested:

Cathy and I also visited Sigtuna which claims to be Sweden’s oldest town. In main drag is in its original layout even. Besides it's documented history, Sigtuna's biggest claim to fame are the number of Rune stones which dot the town. These stones are remnants of Viking era where people etched their personal story clockwise around the perimeter of the stone.

Some of the Rune stones are quite large as shown by this lovely model.

All in all we were very pleased with the trip. The locals are very pleasant, and yes, HOT! Since English is taught in their schools, it is quite abundant and very well spoken, dare I say better than Canadians and their French. Everything is clean and due to their somewhat socialistic government (55% income tax plus 25% sales tax on services and goods!!!!) they appear very healthy and well educated.

Swedes are naturally practical and efficient. Even the dogs are put to work.

I've been told that Sweden is one of those places which everyone will recommend to a friend but will probably never return themselves. I now see why. It was great to have a reason for us to go there (Sens) but having seen it there’s really no reason for us to go back, especially with the feel and geography so similar to Eastern Canada.

However, I will miss seeing all those blondes

Sunday, October 12, 2008

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

Oprah and I having a few laughs during a ski trip in Aspen last winter.

I've had this idea in my head to run a fun race out in SMH for quite some time. Peter's Mock Grand Prix was certainly an inspiration of how easy a race can be organized and put together. The most important thing, and the Big Ring Racing Team's philosophy is that racing should be fun and anyone can do it. It doesn't matter if you're first or last.

I ran it by Oprah last winter and she was cool with me using her name in our race title.

So many leaves! Lots of raking to be done to get the course ready. Lenny and I raked for nearly four hours on Friday afternoon so that racers could post up their fastest possible times.

Oprah with special guest, Dr. Phil, hosted almost twenty riders on a beautiful Saturday morning on Thanksgiving Weekend for the first annual O.P.R.A.H. Turkey Time Trial.

Nice to have some of the team representing and helping out. Shits and giggles for everyone!


BRR's Dr. Peter

Peter V.

Mike J.






Mike B.

BRR's Vegan Vagabond


O.P.R.A.H. Turkey Time Trial winner - Scott


Oprah with the ladies.

Sonia rocking out
Notice anything about most of the photos? Everyone was smiling and having a good time.

Mike even did a little dance.

Big thanks to Lenny for helping me put this thing together and all the hard work getting the trail raked, David for taking some beautiful photos of the race, Peter for bringing in the beers, and everyone for showing up.

David was kind enough to post up all the photos here.