Thursday, July 9, 2009

My firt Triathlon!

Hi all

Been a long time!

Although I am a mountain biker at heart, I had to give the triathlon thing a try so I signed up for Ironman Canada!

Of course, Im no fool, who would do an Ironman as their first ever tri?
So, I did the Peterborough Half Ironman, seamed like a logical step.

Here's my report that I posted on

Hi all

Check, first triathlon done! Here we go, Robert Berthiaume (Mr. Tri2cureCF himself), Martin Zollinger and myself are ready to battle.

The swim went well, I thru myself in the mix expecting a beating. But it wasn’t that bad, yeah a few hits and bumps, but I never felt that the other swimmers didn’t care and where ready to try to get ahead at my expense. I felt respected out there and I respected everyone also. Fun swim.

Into the transition I run, breathing so hard and very dizzy. Martin was already there and soon after headed out. I take off after him not really expecting to catch him on the bike, but I will sure try!

All went well, other then I crashed on the bike 3 KM in (first time ever crash on a road bike). Trying to do too many things on the go (lesson learned), I rubbed a side walk and went down. Hurt my knee and shoulder a little but nothing that would slow me down. After picking all my stuff up, check my ego, check the bike and off I went. I never saw Martin or Rob on the out and back. Great bike course but never caught Martin. A few minutes off.

Here we go, the run that I’m so not looking forward to. Transition to the run felt good, but soon after within a few KM, both quads cramped up! I had to walk it out while eating my banana and e-load caps. Started to run again and just after seeing Martin on an out and back thru the park, my left hamstring cramps. What a long 21 KM run this will be! But dealt with it fairly well and ran on.

Soon after, I see Rob on the run, I expect to see him pass me with a few KM to go, but I won’t go down without a fight. I catch Martin, run with him a bit, we admirer my left over food on the sidewalk where I crashed the bike and I run on. At 7-8 K or so, I tried to drink a little to much while going by a water station and was forced to give it all back 200 M later, stopping me until my stomach stopped rejecting the extra liquid, this to Martin’s pleasure as he ran by me with a few encouraging words. So I ran the next 2 K (passed Martin again) and then started to drink again one cup at a time with my e-load caps, gels and Tums. So other then stopping me during, it didn't affect me much.

All in all, I ran my 21 KM after the 2 K swim and 85 K bike with confidence and finished strong for me with a few new friends.

What a great experience. Whether it’s Adventure Racing or what ever, crossing a finish line, no matter my ranking is always great.

And I can't believe I was able to hold Rob off! Man can that guy run! He beat my run time by 17 min, but I still had 4 min to spare across the finish line! I ran as hard as I could and felt ok for the most part, almost enjoyable!

Still neither of us beat Ann's (my lovely wife) times in her home town.

Now, I want to get my running better as Rob will have more time to catch up for the marathon of IM Can! And he's getting stronger on the bike and he will master the swim soon enough. And as for Mr. Z, maybe I’ll get him on the bike at IM Can. Not that we are competing against each other or anything, just good motivation!

IM Canada here we come!

Thanks to all that have and are helping us along the way.

You can support our Tri2cure Cystic Fibrosis awareness campaign by purchasing a technical t-shirt at any Pecco’s. All sales and proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Breathing life into the future.
Thanks to Pecco’s as always.

See you on the trails soon enough! I'll be back!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Solstice - March of the Damned

I was about to write a post on the BRR Mixed experience after the race the I thought it would be more interesting to hear about people's individual experiences at the race because this race will probably a memorable one over the years. I also thought it would be interesting to hear from all the BRR crew, not only the Mixed team. Rick and Tanya, who raced solo, have posted their own stories here and here.

I apologize for the length of this post but think about it as an "anthology" of sorts - a collection of short stories. Anyway, if you are reading this blog, it is likely because you got plenty of time to kill! I have not edited any of the stories, except for some formatting. Enjoy!

Ed Jager - BRR Filthy Old men

This was my first time riding with Big Ring Racing. It was great to ride with a cool bunch of people that love to bike as much as I do. The riding (and walking) in the mud was hard, but once I got my head in the right place it was great. Counting the other riders I saw and checking out the bats and frogs on my night lap help keep it fun, as did passing the guy carrying his kid's bike. That and knowing my light would only last 1h45m.

Lenny – Captain, BRR Filthy Old men

Lenny’s 2009 Summer Solstice Race Report - I was looking forward to testing my foundation at this race because I have worked relatively hard on it this year. I was a bit worried because I haven’t trained my top end very much but I don’t really need to because most of my riding buddies are stronger than me so I am often in zone 2 or above. On my 1st lap I was able to ride my bike for a few hundred metres before hitting some mud that was so thick and deep that you could not pedal through it. At first I was disappointed but it was the same for everyone so I sucked it up and pushed (literally) through it. This lasted for about 3km and then most of the next 12km was OK. When I finished my lap I looked at my chain rings from the left hand side and all I could see was my granny ring! My chain dropped down in the first section that I had to run and I never bothered to try to move it back up because speed was not a factor on this course. I think I need a new team –“Granny Ring Racing”!

Many thoughts went through my head as I was doing my lap and a bit – yes I pulled the plug on my second lap. At first I was disappointed because I wasn’t racing but instead was just walking and running through the mud. I decided that it didn’t matter because I just wanted to have fun so I started joking around with all the other people out on the course. Most people would smile when I said there was lots of cold beer at my camp site! I walked off on my 2nd lap at about 10:30 PM because I knew my teammates were questioning whether we should still be riding. Also, I heard a lot of people quit at the transition area after their laps were done. I decided that as the team captain I would take the lead and pack it in. I found out after I got back to the campsite that the organizers had come to the same decision. The trails were a real mess and the bikes were also taking a beating and I know it was the right call.

This year’s race was truly one to remember . . . or possibly forget!

Bill Trayling – BRR Mixed

As I reflect on my first Solstice 'mud-fest disguised as a bike race' experience, I would like to make mention of a few memorable moments ...

- the endless support from the non-rider crew, who spent hours trying to create a dripless mission control, while keeping us fed and entertained.

- the humbling opportunity to hammer home our team's last lap, generously offered up by Stef and supported by a group of teammates SO dedicated that they endured a gallant bushwacking experience in an effort to cheer me on, as I navigated the last few clicks of a very icky trail.
- and the hilarity of my final 50 metres, where I really thought the dude right in front of me WAS the 'competition' - leading to me scrambling to slap the chip on the reader (twice) in desperation - only to discover (during our manly embrace) that he was just some guy finishing a 2 and a half hour lap who wanted to mess with my head!

- I'd also like to comment on the impressive resilience of all those weekend warrior riders - those who arrived with their trailers and their big screen TVs who don't don the spandex too often. Guys like 'Phil', who generously saved me from a lonely walk on the pre-ride with his chain tool and quick link.

These folks are the ones who will really benefit from the 24 turned to 12. The Monday morning water-cooler convos were that much better with the Ecochallenge-esque experience fostered by the relentless rain. My hat (or rather my muddied helmet) goes off to them.

Finally, I'd like to thank my team. I came to this race through a connection to a very special person - and in the process, have made friends with a group of awesome people who are masterful at balancing great performance with great times.

Well, this event will make the history books! What a funny story: 1000’s of mature adults slithering, slipping and fumbling through thick, goopy, wet, mud; pushing their no-longer-rideable bike as fast as they can - just because…

Kari “T-Bone” Ferlatte – BRR Mixed

Well, this event will make the history books! What a funny story: 1000’s of mature adults slithering, slipping and fumbling through thick, goopy, wet, mud; pushing their no-longer-rideable bike as fast as they can - just because…

This weekend, as course conditions deteriorated, racers began to creatively strategize how to handle the slop. Some considered running with just the seat or a wheel and I smiled as event organizers blared out over the loud speaker that you must have your bike with you on the entire lap - now you know the history of the Kari/carry rule.

since we are talking about history, I thought I’d share a little story. This event was reminiscent of my first 24 hour solo experience in Kelso in 2002. It rained for 23 of the 24 hours, turning the course into a thick clay-based mud fest (I know you can relate)! I was wrecked from trying to carry, lift, drag, push or pull my 80lb mud laden steed through the mess. At about 4 am I just couldn’t drag that thing anymore, so I tossed it into the bushes and ran to finish another lap, I was exhausted. That’s when the event organizers told me that my lap wouldn’t count as I didn't have my bike, “Kari - this is a bike race” – they said. “oh, bummer... Show me the rule”, I mumbled in my state of fatigued bonk. They looked at each other and shrugged, there was no rule. And so the “Kari/carry” rule was born.

This weekend, as course conditions deteriorated, racers began to creatively strategize how to handle the slop. Some considered running with just the seat or a wheel and I smiled as event organizers blared out over the loud speaker that you must have your bike with you on the entire lap - now you know the history of the Kari/carry rule.

Doing the race in these conditions on a team rather than as a soloist, made the whole thing a blast! It was fun enduring the slippy goop for an hour or so, laughing all the way – knowing that you could return to your ‘race family’, clean up and recharge. It was an awesome weekend of mud, sweat and tears (of laughter)!

Leslie Green – BRR Mixed

Hi, I’m Leslie Greene, I’m the guest Big ringer, I’ve never done on-line dating. As I met my Husband Bill Greene, in 1991, well before On-line dating was invented. However, I have had very good fortune with On-line dating of a different sort. It was one week before the 24 Hour Solstice Race, in 2007… I did not have a team to ride on, and so I checked out the adds, on Chico’s Forum. Ah so many to choose from, apparently women who wish to race are highly sought after. I had my pick… but something about the way Stef worded the add for Machine Head Racing, caught my eye. We sent a few messages back and forth and we had a date.

We pulled off two SILVER medals that summer, both June and August. And In 2008 Stef and Gilles, invited me back, to race on Big Ring Racing, for two more SILVER medals. So here we are June 2009 and we just pulled off the ultimate, GOLD.

Thanks to you guys, in spite of wearing Chain Reaction ( My Husbands family shop), I’m feeling like part of the Big Ring Team. They say next year they will be sure to order me a jersey.

I first knew it was slick our there, when I witnessed a large fellow, wearing a big blue cape, go for a loop, and all he was doing was spectating right at the transition area. He ended up in a pile, and lost all his pocket change in the process. He sat there and plucked it out of the mud before attempting to get up.

As for the race, what luck… RAIN...RAIN… and more RAIN.
I mean this in all seriousness “I Love the Mud” in some weird sort of way. Brings back fond memories of racing, in Quebec. I guess this is why you Ottawa guys do so well in the mud, you are used to it.

My first lap was lap 3 for our team, and I was feeling the pressure, to get back before 4pm, so I could take my kids in the kids race. I remember seeing the 5 KM to go and thinking, well perhaps I can pull this off in 20 minutes, the rest must be flatter… Wrong even hiller towards the end, and it took me a good 30 minutes. I arrived at 3:50 p.m., ran into register and sign the waiver, then raced back to the tents, scooped up my kids, Connor, Emily, our babysitter Kayleige, Gilles and Amelie, joined us too. We drove to the Start area as it was much too muddy to drag the kids along the trail. We missed the youngest age group start so we just joined the 7-8 year olds. Connor was so upset the moment he saw the mud.

“ Mud, I can’t ride in the Mud.” He cries. I assure him it would be ok if I ran along side of him. In the rush I had floppy shoes on, and was not prepared for the soggy sliddy conditions ahead of me, when trying to run along with the kids race. After a few hundred meters he was of on his own, and I yelled. “ Meet you at the finish line.’
I back tracked and slid a lot, then caught up to him at the end, just in time, to help him through a mud bog. Chico had metals for all the kids, and they were all invited to play in the bouncy castles… and so they had a blast.

After that I had to get back to camp for dinner and get ready for my next lap. With the rain all but stopped for a few hours we thought, we were going to see some better lap times, but this was just not so. I went out after Gilles and the conditions were getting worst by the minute as it had started to rain again. At 6pm they had shortened the course by 4km, but this still did not, make the time shorter, my next lap was 30 minutes longer.

Some areas were so thick with mud that it was impossible to ride down. A friend warned me to obey the flag man in one particularly fast slippery, down hill section, and when I got there I knew why, the grass was flattened, and slick, the kind of corner that will take both wheels our from under you.

Near the end of my lap I was just about there, but the mud was so thick I had to push my bike through it. But then it just wouldn’t move, so I had no choice but to carry my 60 pound bike, it was like doing leg weights.

Thanks Team Big Ring, for making me a part of the family.

Zamboni – BRR mixed

6 am Saturday, I'm woken by a faint drumming sound off in the distance. A cold, damp feeling seeping through my sleeping bag. I open my eyes to droplettes pounding on my air matteress, slowing developing an indoor swimming pool in my oversized Costco special.

Merde. Il pleut.

So this is how it's going to be. Off to the car to retrieve my extra tarp, cover the tent, take a leak and back to the part of my matteress that was not yet

wet. Fortunately, the tent is so big the gear and clothes inside was not rained upon.

The day, as others have probably mentioned, was rain off and on. I don't mind riding in the rain but the mud that was generated by all that water and all those riders was just ridiculous. Not to mention the trail damage we had collectively inflicted on the course. To find out how bad the mud was, check the posting by the Vegan Vagabond, I'm sure she's got pics of her bike. I don't know how those solo riders managed. The mud laden bikes were much, much heavier than their dry wieght and at many times on the course, the wheels refused to roll. Carrying them was not very effective....not for long anyway. Once I got riding, I wasn't moving none too swift. In Formula One racing they call rain the "Great Equalizer". I think the saying holds true for mountain bike racing as well 'cause no matter how good your equipment or how much power you have in your engine, you can only go so fast or you're off the course and into the brush in the first corner, so it kind of levels the playing field.

I can honestly say I didn't enjoy that one lap I had to do. I think the high point of my race was when Capt. Gilles met me in the transition area and asked if I wouldn't mind if Bill went in my place... in the mud and 11 o'clock and night. How could I say no to that offer. I didn't.

This was the race that required the least amount of effort (one lap instead of the usual 4 or 5) and yielded the greatest result... First Place Finish.

At least we had a good time hanging out at camp. I got to enjoy everyones' company all weekend. Thanks to Melissa and Shay for all the work they do around camp, much appreciated.

Here's to great team-mates and to a dryer Hot August Nights.

Doctor Peter – BRR Filthy Old Men

We put in a solid 200+ age group team with experienced, decent-paced riders expecting a good race. We got the Solstice Mud Fiasco, which I’m sure is being detailed elsewhere. Personally, I have only few “good” memories of this race. One was coming across Tanya near the beginning of her 6th (and winning) lap, dragging her bike up a section of SingleMud (which is what SingleTrack turns into after 2000 people have gone over it in the rain). Tanya is not one to complain, so when she asked with incredulity “Am I the only person this is happening too?” referring to the wheels on her mud covered bike’s refusal to spin when she pushed it, I knew things were not quite going as she had hoped. I stopped, and tried to pick up her bike to see if I could figure out what was wrong by spinning the wheel. Perhaps her calipers were dragging a bit? First of all, I could barely lift her bike. I swear it weighed 100lbs. Then I noticed that she had put on her “triathlon” disk wheelset – you know, with the solid bit of material that extends from the hub to the rim to help cut down air resistance - except this disk appeared to be rudimentarily fashioned out of 3-inches of thick mud. Each of her spokes was like a giant mudsicle. We fished out the mud, giving Tanya a reprise for what I imagine was at least 45 seconds of relief before the disk reformed (like something out of Terminator 2).

I also enjoyed one particularly steep and, surprisingly, muddy descent where the race officials had placed a warning squadron at the top to tell riders to slow down. On my 2nd lap, in the dark, I approached this 6th in a line of riders. The five people in front of my all fell. “Didn’t you hear the people warning us to slow down!” I joked. Moments later I was sliding down the hill on my stomach myself. Oops.

On the 2nd lap I “rode” my Vassago Single Speed, it's first race experience. My rational for doing this was that it was lighter to carry up the hills and had fewer parts for mud to cake on. Given that I walked or ran about 2/3 of my second lap, it seemed a decent strategy. The mud-covered Vassago came in at about 50lbs, a good 30lbs less than my mud-covered Full-Suspension, geared, Epic.

The other thing I enjoyed were the beers around the campfire after the race was called.

This race should have been called after three hours. I lament what we did to those trails.

Phat Tony – BBR Filthy Old Men

I can sum up last weekend's race at Albion Hills in 5 words: Big Ring Racing's Gong Show. At least for me it was - my challenges began on Thursday night. I have gear, kids and wife packed up and ready to go but needed gas to make the trek to Toronto. Filled up no problem (no spontaneous gas figths broke out, which as we all know are quite risky and more of a problem for the male modelling world then MTB'ers anyway) but starting the car up again was more challenging than expected. The starter was dead. So we call up CAA and get a ride home from a kind friend on his wife's birthday (thanks James and Happy Birthday again Gill!). Luckily friday passed without any major setbacks which brings me to Saturday.

Wake up and as expected it's raining. No problem, Albion is a dry course so I figure how bad could it be? The Good Dr. picks me up at 8:30am and we head to Albion Hills. We get there in good time and decide to set up the tent. You know what makes setting up a tent much easier? Poles. Too bad we didn't have any. Have I ever mentioned the good Dr. is kind of a dumb ass? Did I mention it's raining? No matter, I've been dealing with his idiocy for years. My dear wife was coming up early in the afternoon so my son could ride in the kids race - I call her and ask her to bring our old tent that's in storage at her mom's place. We're saved!

With that problem seemingly solved I turn my attention to getting ready for my lap. Give the bike a once over - it's sexy and ready to go... check. I eat and get dressed - sexy in spandex and ready to go... check. I'm second in the rotation so I go to wait for the Other
Good Dr. on our team to come in. I wait, and wait and as I wait I see mud covered racer after mud covered racer come in. Hmmm - dry the course was supposed to be about 45minutes and it's over an hour now. Maybe Albion doesn't take this much rain as well as I'd hoped. The Other Good Doctor arrives after about 1hr20mins dutifully cover in mud and smiling and says "Good Luck!".

I set out and within the first 2-3 hundred meters I'm off my bike and pushing through mud. I think "Hmmm.. this could be a long lap. Maybe Kenda Karma's weren't the right tire today". Right then and there I decide that there will be no rushing this lap and the main goal is to not fall and hurt myself. The first 20 minutes or so involved a lot of slow riding and walking/pushing. Then I get to the middle third of the course and things start to get fun again. Slippery, but fun. I'm on my bike most of the time, it's taking all my concentration to stay upright but I'm passing a lot of people, which is always good for the ego especially when you're in challenging conditions.

I made it up a lot of climbs that I thought were impossible when I saw them but even though the tires slip on each pedal stroke the bike kept inching forward - cool. The Karma's may not be a great mud tire, but they weren't terrible. They didn't collect a lot of mud and as long as I stayed seated, they got enough grip to get up all but the muddiest uphills. Since I didn't see anyone else ride up those hills, I stopped worrying about my tires and just rode. Rest of the lap went much this way to the point of me actually having fun, or at least as much fun as one can have with mud in every crevice when not mud wrestling hot twin sisters, but I digress. Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, something about biking... So conditions stayed rideable right up until the end of the lap. Passed the fishing hole where the other Bing Ringers et all gave a much appreciated cheer and then the thick mud again. Walk a bit, ride a bit, walk a bit, ride until the final stupid uphill mud pit to the finish. Slog up, ride gingerly down and done! 1hr07minutes and I pass the baton the Good Doctors.

Head back to camp, drink recovery drink, remove most of muddy clothing, go hose off in world's coldest hose and that's where wife and eldest son (6 yrs old) find me. Saddistic wife takes over hosing dutings while I scream like a little girl. I haven't seen Hostel, but I'm pretty sure most of the scene's were something like that. I put on fresh clothes and take son to kids race (seperate blog post coming for little ringer's race).

Son and wife leave and I figure it's time to set up tent number two, which I gratefully see has poles. Have I mentioned that I am also an dumb-ass? What my tent made up for in pole-iness, it gave back in its lack of a fly, which is a nice piece of equipment to have on the rainiest weekend of the year when camping. I don't think this was specifically my fault, as the tent had been lent out since I last used it, but it can't be pure coincidence that neither of us could bring a complete tent set to the same race. We rigged up the tiny fly from the Good Drs tent and borrowed a tarp from the Other Good Dr and voila! A somewhat water-resistant shelter.

Not much more for me to report. Second lap was much the same as the first, just a little bit muddier and a little bit worse. I'll leave it to another Big Ringer to describe how our day ended. Spoiler Alert! Man was I hung over the next day (and the next).

Papa G – Captain, BRR Mixed

The most memorable moment for me actually happened after I was done racing. I had just completed my second lap and was cleaned-up and changed when I heard that the race was being shutdown. It was around 10:30pm, Steph, aka Zamboni, had just left to tag up with Leslie. After hearing of the shutdown, I was trying to calculate if we had enough of a lead (we were 40mins up) to secure first place should the other team send out another rider before midnight. I consulted with Kari and we thought it might be best to send Bill out, who was by far our fastest rider, to be safe. I talked to Bill and he was keen on going but was concerned that Stef mav not want to give up his spot but I knew that he would give up in a second.

As Bill ran back to his tent to get geared up and I am still talking to Kari, we hear Leslie go by camp, which is only 1 kilometer to the finish. Kari says “you got to go catch Stef at transition!” So, I jump on my clean bike with flip flops on, no light, no helmet. Let me remind everyone it’s 10:30 at night; I am trying to pedal as fast as I can – rubber flip flops don’t provide for much grip on carbon pedals – yelling at people on the road to get out of the way as I make out their silhouettes. I finally make to the transition area without much incident.

As most of you may know, the actual transition is located at the top of a hill and it had rained all day and night and all the grass had turned into mud. Here I am trying to push my bike up as fast as I can while my flip flops were being suctioned in about 4 inches of mud; the closer I got to the transition the deeper the mud got. All the while I am thinking that Leslie will get here before me and I won’t be able to tell Stef that Bill was coming. I decided to dump my bike and try to run which I wasn’t able to because my flip flops got sucked even more! Instead I tried taking giant steps which seemed to work and I finally made to transition and started yelling for Stef and he heard me and found me. I told him the plan and he was more than happy to let Bill ride. Bill showed up about 20 seconds after me and Leslie about 10 second after that! Phew! We made it. Bill rode a great lap and the rest is history. We got our first victory after 4 (or 5?) 2nd place finish in a row.

While the riding (pushing) over the weekend wasn’t much fun, I really enjoyed sitting around the camp fire until 3am with the rest of the crew. I’m liking the 12hr concept!!