Sunday, November 30, 2008

The season is over?!?

Full write-up and details coming.. eventually. For now, a couple of pics from our final race:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

'cross in Almonte

Yeah yeah I haven't posted for a couple of weeks... I know...

Despite not posting, I HAVE been racing:

October 26 at Mooney's Bay: Fun course with some good mud holes after Saturdays all day rain! Shawn and Keli were out to race for the first time in the Ottawa Series (I think?). Shawn had a stellar race, and came first for Master Men (6th overall), and I was....about the same as always...48th of 68 in the second race. Loooong laps this time at Mooney's (longer than last year even!) meant at least I didn't get lapped!

November 2 at Kanata Recreation Centre: Matty came out to watch as I raced on a very fun course--good use of the toboggan hill, and some fun little mud/snow patches to negotiate. However, overall it was very much a 'grass crit' type of course, which is not ideal for me...Thus, once again, not a super strong race for me...22nd of 25 in Elite Men's...

Today's race was in Almonte, and somehow I convinced Shawn Warner to give the whole 'riding on a golf course' thing a try...He and Sasha came and picked me up, and we picked up McLean on the way as well, so I had a good cheering squad. Shawn raced the first race (as a first-timer, he was in the novice category). Not having a 'cross bike, he rode his dual suspension MTB with the 2" tires...which is obviously less than ideal ;) He was apprehensive from the start, but I think we're now safely at the "I hate you for making me do this and I am never doing it again" stage :) Shawn, I hope you had fun despite the 'boredom' of riding on grass as you put it. As I said though--if you're bored, you're not going fast enough ;) If you're doing it properly, the pain drowns out the boredom!

I raced at 11, and by then it had warmed up a fair bit. Aside from the wind, it was a very nice day. However, the course was quite muddy, with two deep mud pits on the back section of the course, a couple of slick mud trails, and a couple of very greasy off-camber grass sections corners! Since the big names were in Toronto this weekend, the field was a bit smaller and less competitive than usual. I felt very good today, but still didn't finish very high up (not sure just where yet..results to be posted soon...) However, I can feel improvement, and am getting more comfortable on the technical stuff every time. I went down once on an off-camber downhill on the last lap as I tried to bridge up to Trisha. I like to think I would have caught her if I stayed upright, but who knows! However, today was the first race I've lapped someone, and I actually got by another guy on the line with a bike throw (haha!) It sure feels better to be the lap-er than the lap-ey!

Here's one of the best shots from today (actually from a video, so I could grab the best 'action shot' frame)

Oh, and I should mention that Shawn and Keli weren't there this week--Keli raced Half Ironman Worlds in Florida yesterday, and put in a PHENOMENAL showing-5:07! Congrats on a great race Kel! Next week they're doing USGP 'cross in New Jersey on their way home!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East Meets (South) West

So Sunday was the "East (Ottawa) meets South (Toronto area) 'cross race" in Kingston. I was looking forward to the course, since it was a fun one last year! Also because Steve and Carolin were going to be there, and Jamie was racing! I got there in plenty of time to watch the first race go off, and watched some of the carnage on the 'terraced' section, which has some nasty tight corners and steep downhills, just like last year. As I was wandering around the course, I heard someone yell my name--it was WATSON! He was up from Barrie to contest the race--one of the favorites. I chatted with him a bit, and showed him a few of the gotchas on the course (especially the uphill barrier on a 180 off-camber after a downhill which was hidden behind a stump and (ideally) required a right-side dismount).

Jamie, Steve and Carolin all rolled in shortly before our race, and by that time I'd already ridden a warmup lap. The course was much the same as last year, although the 'pop-up/jump' from last year was removed, one of the terraced sections was eliminated, and an extra stair run-up was added. The finish was a bit different, with a tricky off-camber corner with a big rutt running perpendicular if you got on a bad line. Tricky!

The race started with a big group, and I was well in the rear right off the gun. The pace was INSANE right from the start, so I ended up well back before we even got going...and would pretty much remain there the entire race. I slipped up on the terraced section on the first lap and went down (actually not even sure what happened--I was clear of the corner already, and went down on the straight!) and lost a few more places. The laps were long (2.5kms) so by the 4th lap, the leaders came by me (wow.. brutal!) and I noticed that Watson was in 4th place (later turns out he was probably 3rd, and there was a lapped rider in between). I yelled at him to catch up, since he was not far behind the lead pair of Osmond Bakker and Derrick St. John. I rode a very consistent race, with lap times of 5:32 (modified first lap), 10:14, 10:08, 10:11, 10:12, 10:08, and 10:08 (yes, apparently I did 3 laps all exactly the same to the second, and all the others within a 6 second range.. go figure). Too bad I wasn't just consistently FASTER! :-Þ

Overall, not my best race, but a super-fun course, and a really competitive group (Watson ended up third, behind Bakker and St. John, and ahead of Fillion and Morse--what a field!) Read Andrew's full account of the race here, spend hours looking through over 1000 photos, and check out the full results on this page (if you scroll waaaaay down, you'll see me!)

You may wonder why I made no mention of Shawn or Keli this week, and that's because Shawn was off kicking ass and taking names, winning Quebec Cyclocross Provincials!!! CONGRATS to Shawn! You can read all about his weekend here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'cross madness (aka Rock & Roll in Rochester)

OK, once again I'm negligent in posting; somehow I bet my one reader is not surprised! However, that doesn't mean nothing has been going on--in fact, quite the opposite. A few items of note since my last posting

- 'cross season is in full swing! (duh!)
- two weekends ago was the first OBC 'cross race
- one weekend ago was my canoe trip to Algonquin Parks Barron Canyon (SPECTACULAR!)
- Spin Classes at the shop started last Tuesday, and I went for my first one of the year on Thursday...heading back tomorrow as well. Once the existing classes fill up, I will likely be teaching a class again--but we'll see how it goes for now!
- this past weekend was 'cross madness in Rochester NY for the Cobb's Hilly 'cross! (a few more details about this item below)
- Monday following the race consisted of a fantastic ride from Gatineau with Shawn and Keli out to Carp, with Turkey and all the fixings afterwards. What a great day--a huge thanks to Chef Keli for the food, and of course for putting up with me for another weekend ;)
- The Sport X end of year party is a go for Oct. 24, with ROLLER RACES officially a go! Can't wait!

OK, so a few details about the race in Rochester:

After last year, we just had to go back to Rochester for the Cobb's Hill Cyclocross! Shawn had his title to defend after a great win last year, and I had some revenge to take on the course that broke my chain after one lap thus ending my first ever 'cross race far too early! So, with great enthusiasm, Shawn, Keli and I made another road trip to NY. We left Saturday evening after Shawn finished work, and arrived to a great hotel room for some rest. In the morning we prepared for the race, and headed to the park.

Once again Scott and the team at Full Moon Vista put on an amazing race, with a great course running through Cobb's Hill Park in Rochester. With a good mix of terrain, including a short singletrack section (my downfall!), a killer uphill (the only place I could pass anyone), an equally killer downhill (although different than last year, with more twisty off-camber stuff this time around) and some twisty turny grass sections (where I got out-handled by everyone but the 12 year old girls), the course had a bit of something for everyone! Of course, this type of course just happens to suit Shawn very well, since he's a good technical rider (thanks to his MTB background), can descend like a bat out of hell, and doesn't fear climbing (as his membership in the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux proves).

Keli's race went off first, and unfortunately we weren't able to watch much as we had to get changed and ready for our race which followed. Keli had a very good ride once again, and finished 5th place in a much stronger field than last year. Congrats Keli!

Our race started not so well for either Shawn or I. We got to the line a bit late, and Shawn had to fight his way up to the front, but only made it up to about 3 rows back. Thus, he had to chase for most of the first lap to catch the lead group. I started further back (by design of course) but ended up too far back even for my liking. I ended up running the entire single-track section the first lap due to a huge bottleneck of riders in front of me. Boo! On about the third lap, I managed yet another wipeout (third this year for those that are counting!) as I tried to remount after the barriers. I think the bike hit a bump right as I was jumping on, and kicked me off and over onto my side. I ended up sprawled out with the bike on top of me! I had no idea how Shawn was doing, since I didn't get a sight of him for most of the race. However, with about three laps to go I heard them announce that the leaders were coming through the line, lead by "Last Year's Winner from Canada, Shawn Marshall!. At this point I knew they were close to passing me!

I was getting tired, and having my fair share of difficulty on the twisty stuff, so wasn't really making up any ground (not loosing too much either though). I manged to ride the single-track cleanly a couple of times which felt good! At one point, I got a glimpse of Shawn, and noticed he had a rider right on his wheel! The next few times I saw him again, he still had the guy literally glued to his wheel! At one point on the grass section, I knew they would be catching me, so of course I starting thinking about it too much, and ended up riding a very poor line into a corner right when they were behind me. They got by, but I lost some momentum for sure! Once they went by, I noticed that no other riders were even close to them for third place! It was a two man race all the way!

I didn't know the final result until I finished. It turns out that Shawn had lead the whole race after he caught the leaders, but Eric Grimm had been right behind him the whole time, and came around right at the end! So, a great race, with a hard fought second place for Shawn (tough to take after riding such a great race, but Grimm rode smart!). I ended up 28th of 47, 3 minutes and one lap back. Not spectacular, but about normal for me! I need more practice on the twisty stuff (and courses with less singletrack would help ;))

Full results are here, while you can read Shawn's take on events here.

All for now!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OBC 'cross #1 - Photos

OK, I know.. I have been negligent in not keeping the site up-to-date. Sorry! To tide you over, here are some pics of me from the first cyclocross race of the year. Full report to follow...eventually...

Click through for bigger versions, or check out all the pics at

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week #22: Longest Post Ever!

OK, so if a picture is worth a thousand words, this is my longest post ever! Some pics from Monday and Wed:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Week #21: Daylight Fading :(

Nights are getting short.. much too short :(

On Monday we had a smaller group, and set out into the cool night with a short route in mind, to beat the setting sun. Steve took the BSW at Kilmarnock, although it was uncontested. I took Jasper on the way in, as well as the railway tracks, which of course doesn't count, but I like to mention it anyway ;) Of note was that both Jenn and Greg made it out on the same week! Fantastic! Otherwise, a fairly quick ride but nothing crazy--49km at 31km/hr.

Post-ride pub talk was about many things... some crazy runners are talking about the Glen Tay Block Race (this Thursday night, I'll be there--on the bike of course--taking pics!) Ian's son has signed on with Astana for a two-year contract as a mechanic (since his last stint in Europe with Postal/Disco, he's been in North America with Symmetrics). I guess if Bruyneel called me up and offered me a job, I'd probably take it too ;) Oh, and talk is already turning to spin classes--hopefully I'll have a regular session this year...although it's much too early to starting thinking about that! The 'cross schedule was just posted, and the first race is Sept. 28 at Brittania. Think I can convince anyone else to get in on the action this year? Oh, and Shawn's already talking about defending the title in Rochester at the Cobb's Hill 'Cross. Hopefully I'll be able to join the newlyweds on that one again! (I may have something to prove, and Shawn does have a leader's jersey to defend!)

Tonight's Perth ride was great, with Carolin making it up this way on her day off. We made it just past Playfairville before turning around...too bad we didn't have another hour of daylight so we could have done a bit longer tour!

All for now!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Week #20: Rained out, but...

So on Monday I drove down to the shop and chatted with Jenn for an hour or so. At about 5:30, it was pitch black and looked like 9:00pm! Needless to say, there wasn't a lot of motivation to at 6, we left. Of course Mike was standing outside where we didn't see him--ready to ride. I had already decided not to go at that point, so wished him a good ride before heading home. Turns out Chris joined him a couple of minutes later, and they got in about 40kms in the pouring rain. Good for you guys!

On Wednesday night, the Perth group had seven riders out on a beautiful night. A new route for some took us out 10 to Richardson Side Rd, across highway 7, and up to 511 on County Rd 7, then up to Balderson and back via Glen Tay for about 44kms. Good ride!

On Saturday, Matt and I did a bit of a tour up to Ashby Lake. We set off at 7:30 for a 118km ride through some of the nicest roads in the area! However, we once again managed to pick one of the hottest days for a long ride, and it turned into an epic ride. By the last 30kms or so, we were both pretty much dead, and were crawling along just praying for the end. Of course, instead of the end, all we got was more hills! We arrived at Ashby Lake in 4:06 or so, for an average of 28.8, which is pretty good considering the last hour or so we maybe averaged 22! Our ride back on Sunday was looking a bit touch-and-go, since my legs were toast! The remainder of the day was spent swimming in the lake, sitting and socializing on the dock, BBQ'ing and the like.

With a bit of rest overnight (I think I may have actually slept for 8 hours, which is quite impressive!) and a fantastic breakfast (thanks Jim and Lorna!) we set off to do the same route as Saturday, only in reverse. Luckily the temperatures were a bit cooler, and there was little direct sunlight to fry us on the pavement! After a tentative start to get a feel for the legs, we got into a comfortable pace that took us most of the way home. Consciously hydrating myself (Saturday's bonk and headache could only have been from dehydration) and eating more consistently must have helped, as I was feeling quite strong. The miles ticked by and before I knew it we were 30kms from home. Seeing this, and judging how much was in my legs, I asked Matt if he was feeling ok--the affirmative reply lead to a bit of an increase in the pace, and especially for the last 18kms or so from Playfairville to home we hammered in pretty good. Our average at the end of Fallbrook road was 30.8km/hr, and I figured we'd be able to get it over 31, so a bit more of an effort took us to Glen Tay, where Matt turned in a huge pull to lead us back into town. The time check as we rolled into my driveway put us at 3:46:48 for an average speed of 31.27! That's a bit better than Saturday!

Once I get a chance to download the GPS data and route profile, I'll add a link here. My feeling is that there was an overall downhill trend on the way home. That and the tailwind certainly helped with the average speed! Overall, it turned out to be a fantastic ride, but shows just how important proper hydration and food consumption is!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cooler nights bring...

...the first hint of fall, and thoughts are turning to 'cross season. And who can think about 'cross season and not think of "Thongs and Cross"?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week #19: Ouch - a good one to miss

So I missed week #19 since I was on my way back from New Brunswick. From what I've heard, it was a very fast ride that ended in a bad way--there was a crash coming back up Jasper Highway, and Yves went down, breaking his collarbone. Get well quickly Yves!

In the meantime, here are some photos from my NB Adventure, with some shots of the Velodrome in Dieppe--what a blast! If you ever get a chance to ride on a track, do it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Week #18: Marg's Guest Post

Here's Marg's take on the Gatineau Ride:

Thank you Darren for suggesting we ride in Gatineau Park! What a great ride we had. The weather was fantastic. The hills were challenging and the scenery was breath taking.
We started out from the Chelsea Visitors Center and climbed to the highest point in the park. There were three lookouts at the top and we just kept climbing from one to the other. The view of the Ottawa Valley was spectacular. Ahhhh but what goes up must come down and weeeeeeeee did! At up to 60km/hr !!!!!!!!
The great thing about riding in the park is there is very little traffic. What cars you do encounter are other park visitors that are expecting to share the road with cyclists. We did see lots of other cyclists. And the roads are in great shape for screaming down hill.
Kris had a good time riding off road. He had some trouble with his lower gears and had to walk up some of the hills because of it.
We will have to do it again. Actually we were thinking of going this Sunday morning. Apparently, the roads in the park are closed to all motor vehicles every Sunday morning during the summer. I'll find out more about it.
Have a great time in New Brunswick Darren.

Thanks Marg--and don't worry, I'll have a great time in NB! Stay tuned for pictures from the Dieppe Velodrome!

Week #18: NB, Gatineau and Smiths Falls (and Vancouver?!?)

Well, this week we decided to do something a bit different since it was a holiday. Gatineau Park was the order of the day. I'll hopefully post a guest entry from someone who was at the ride--I'm on my way to New Brunswick for Shawn and Keli's wedding, so dont' feel like posting :)

There was also a 'regular' Monday night ride from the shop. Here's Greg's email:

The Monday ride went well. Not as scenic as Gatineau park would have been.

There were 7 of us with Jeff Ain from Vancouver joining the ride.

I had 2 uncontested 5th place blue signs!! Yep you read it. I was on.

Of the 7 of us 2 had their Birthday on Monday. Wow. Chris and Tosh.
Same day sort of like Ted and Dave.

Greg out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Week #17: Rain AGAIN?!?

Yet another rainy ride... but we still had a good group show up. Started off fairly quick and got spread out over the road. Steve had a flat early on, and no one at the front knew... Eventually we heard and stopped in a driveway under a tree where we tried to hide from the rain. It soon started pouring down, and we ended up sitting there for about 20 mins. Eventually we decided to go on, and the rain let up soon after so we only had to contend with road spray. Continued on out Bay Road and were passed by a jacked up 'redneck' truck that had some sort of phony police siren going as they passed us at about 90km/hr. Shortly after as we rounded a corner, we found the same truck upside down in the ditch, and the three guys walking around--they were ok, but probably a bit shook up. Stupid!

Jeff (?) from Brockville took the Lombardy sprint! Heading up Anglican Church road we saw some of Ian's amazing bike handling skills as he narrowly missed some nice fat road kill! I took the Motts Mills sprint--barely--as Steve had a good jump and I was coming from fairly far back in the pack. I did end up getting it by a wheel though!

I was on the front on the way into Toledo, and had no legs to attempt the sprint as Steve, Yves, and Jeff all came around me. Yves ended up taking it! We debated briefly about turning at Toledo, but ended up going straight through. No one contested Frankville (I rode off the front but no one even followed). Steve again decided to go early for Jasper, and I jumped his wheel and just sat there until coming around him at the end. We hammered up Jasper Highway and up the railway tracks with little fight, cruising home for the pub with half an hour or so of daylight left.

Pub banter was mostly about le Tour, and the upcoming Monday night ride in Gatineau. Yes, that's right--next Monday we're heading to the Gats! Let me know if you want more details!

(P.S. Note how I'm not speaking of Saturday's fiasco at all?)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week #16: Let's just keep going faster shall we?

So after last week's very fast ride, we had another even FASTER ride! Total distance came out to 71.9 km, with an avg. speed of 33.9 km/hr.

The nice weather brought out a very large group of riders this week, including a new trio from Brockville. We set off and soon were (much sooner than usual for some reason) breaking into groups. I moved up from near the back almost as soon as we got on Jasper highway in case a split was going to go. It didn't at that point, but you never know!

Even before the end of Bay road, we were down to a select group, which this week included Ashby and Yves. At the first sprint in Lombardy, Fraser Smith took the win. I was in a bad position and got a bit boxed in---when I finally got out, I went 3 wide on the outside, but had no way of catching him!

At the Motts Mills sprint, Ashby was on the front and I didn't get up to speed fast enough to come around him on the inside. I managed to take Toledo, and Yves gave me a super lead-out (after I caught his wheel) on the Jasper sign and I just came around him at the end after he'd pulled for what felt like a kilometer. I took the railway as well, despite some talk of people trying to box me in. However, it's tough to box me in when I'm on the front ;) As per usual rules though, the railway win does not count towards the BSW total (which makes me wonder why they were trying to beat me to it...)

Post ride pub banter involved the 'great debate' over Gravel vs. no Gravel for Fernando's Hideaway ride (which is this Saturday BTW, so talk to Fernando if you are interested). I'm pretty sure 'gravel' won, although Wendy's route sounded like a winner too, and I'm not sure if it had any gravel sections on it or not.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Week #15: Murphy's Point or Bust!

Another fantastic Monday night ride. This week, we headed out towards Murphy's Point Provincial Park on a beautiful sunny, warm evening. A great group turned out, with a few new faces for good measure, which is always nice to see! One of the faces was none other than Fraser Smith, out for the first time in a couple of years! Missing tonight was Ashby (again) and Yves.

We set off all together, and rode a fairly easy pace into a fairly stiff headwind until we hit the end of Bay Road. At the turnoff, the wind got worse, and the pace picked up, with Steve on the front for a nice pull. He nailed the Rideau Ferry sprint (I may have been somewhat asleep, but I'll give it to him) and then we continued to hammer. Soon we were down to a group of just a few; myself, Steve, Fraser, Fraser, Ian, Chris and.. seems to me there was someone else as well..? At the turn onto Elm Grove Road, Steve was on the front again and the pace bumped up enough to drop a couple more riders. I got on the front for a pull, and when I looked back, only Steve remained on my wheel. Steve took a pull and we had enough of a gap to try to hold them off until the Park. I noticed that the others were slowly gaining on us, so I picked it up again, despite it hurting a lot! We managed to hold them off to the park sign, with perhaps a 20 second gap (?)

After a brief rest, we regrouped and started back to the shop, this time with a nice tailwind. I was totally fried after my effort, but seemed to recover fairly well. Ian caught on part-way down Elm Grove Road, and we flew back into the shop, ended up with 70kms in 2:11. Along the way, I took the Rideau Ferry sprint and the railway tracks, which (of course) don't count (nor does the Park sign...) which left Steve and I tied at 1 BSW apiece for the day.

Hopefully everone manages to make it out this Wednesday in Perth for another great ride!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Week #14: Say What?!? How fast?

What a fantastic ride!

Jamie made it out for a ride, and our group managed to put in possibly the longest Monday night ride ever (or in a long time anyway!) of about 85kms. Jamie and I did a 10km warmup as well, so I ended up with 95kms in--not bad for a weeknight after work! Our average was also very high--my computer read 32.8 km/hr including the warmup. Jamie said his was at about 35 until the last few kms into town and back to the shop!

Two Blue Sign Sprints were taken by Jamie (shocking), including the 1 km spring for Greenbush (Steve jumped early, and Jamie followed-not knowing where the sign was. I waited, but couldn't bridge up, and Jamie just coasted across the line). I somehow (!) managed to take two, including Rosedale, which I took by inches as Jamie sat up (he thought I'd given up, but I didn't!). Steve took Jasper, so surprisingly Jamie didn't dominate. However, we had home field advantage, and if he knew some of them were coming we'd be in trouble!

Yves, Steve the minister and Ian rode with us as well to round out a very fast, smooth group. Thanks guys! My comment to Jamie was that he's got cruise control. Every time he's on the front, my computer read 41km/hr. His response was that my computer was reading low ;)

Post ride pub banter was mostly mocking Matt for not coming out... and of course a discussion about Jamie's former yoga instructor lead to the "fun, but not too much fun" conversation once again!

Jamie, Matt and I also rode the Wednesday night Perth ride--a quite short, relatively slow ride since I'm avoiding burn out, and Jamie is tapering for two races this weekend.

On a side note, Jamie ALSO leads our TdF pool, although things will change I think!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Week #13: Riding in the Rain

For the past few weeks, Monday nights have been touch-and-go in terms of weather. We've had rain and thunderstorms predicted for probably 4 of the past 5 weeks, but luckily we managed to miss the rain each time. Not so last night! When we left the shop, it was dry and more or less safe looking. We started off with a group that included Matt, who finally managed to make it out for a ride! Our route took us out towards Merrickville/Burritt's Rapids way (see map below) and we remained dry until we hit Burritt's Rapids. I remember feeling a few drops of rain, and thinking it was nothing to worry about. However, about 2 minutes later we were in the middle of a full downpour, and soaked to the bone! However, since it was warm (20 degrees) the rain was not too bad, and we still had a very enjoyable, fast, smooth ride! Matt, Steve, Yves and I ended up riding the longer route shown on the map, and we had a nice smooth constant pace going the whole time! Thanks guys!

View Larger Map

Matt came out to play on his first night, and took three BSWs. However, he decided to share the wealth around a bit, and Yves had two, although only one counts and even that is pushing it (I do recall some agreement that Kilmarnock doesn't count, but we'll give it to him this time!) Steve took an impressive win at Easton's Corners, and I took a couple as well, mostly in 'non-sprint' style (e.g. jump early and see who follows) since I can't often beat Yves and Matt in a true sprint! I learned that sprinting in the rain is a bit different from when it's dry--jumping on a wheel can be a hindrance rather than a benefit, since you get a facefull of spray! Luckily everyone likes grit in their teeth! ;)

Remember to get your picks to me for the Tour de France pool! Only a few more days until the start of the race! Put together your dream team of nine riders and one team, email your picks to me and give me some cash next time you see me! All the details are located here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Week #12: Another "We go faster when Ashby isn't here" week

So once again, we had a fast ride--averaging 32.7km/hr for 71kms. And once again, Ashby wasn't riding...does anyone else notice a trend here, or is it just me? ...strange ;)

I rode a 70km loop with Shawn on Sunday, and came out of that ride pretty fried. My legs were hurting more than they have all I wasn't sure how well I'd feel on Monday night. However, despite not feeling great, I was apparently riding well, as I ended up with 3 blue signs. Yves narrowly held off Fraser for the 4th (although Fraser's pulled muscles likely didn't help--and he was closing the gap fast, so it was close!) Our ride started off fairly slow and relaxed, with a decent sized group. After 20 minutes or so, the paced picked up a bit, and we were down to 6 riders (myself, Steve, Yves, Fraser, Chris, Fernando.) Our loop took us on some roads we don't ride often (including Lake Eloida Rd), which is always kind of nice! Despite the massive thunderstorm at 4pm, the weather was beautiful by ride time, and the (almost) longest day of the year meant we had plenty of time to get in a fairly long ride.

At the pub, Carolin called Matt and managed to talk him into making the trip down for a beer and to share in our always entertaining conversation. He promised (again) that he would ride next Monday... so we'll see. Pub talk centered once again on velodrome info (Dave had some more paperwork, including some design plans) as well as a discussion of the 'sordid' details of life in Carolin and Yves' office. Hopefully that conversation helped to get everyone on the same page when it comes to the differences between "fun" and "too much fun."

I got in a (very) slow, short recovery ride tonight after work and will be ready to rock tomorrow, which is a special event--it's Dave's birthday. After the ride we're all heading to O'Reilly's for some frosty beverages. Be there if at all possible! Even if you can't make the ride, perhaps you can join us at the pub!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Week #11: One-ride Week :(

Once again the weather must have scared some riders off--however, our 4pm torrential rain stopped, and the night turned into a beauty! Roads were dry, and wind was favourable (a tailwind most of the way out, and very little wind on the way back in). Our group tonight consisted of myself, Yves (yes, Yves made an appearance for the first time this year!), Steve, Carolin, Drew, Wendy, Fraser and Chris. We rode down to Greenbush, across Jellby line, and up 15/41 to loop back into Jasper and up Jasper highway back to the shop. (Check the map) Yves took 3 strong Blue Signs, and I took two and the railway tracks, which again apparently don't count. We timed the run so that we were home just before the sun was too low to safely ride--perfect timing! I think I'll let Yves fill in the poetic ramblings if he wants, and spare you the pain!

Post-ride banter consisted of making fun of Greg for taking so long to lock up the shop, and making fun of Matt for not making it to the ride again. Fries and hot mustard were had by some to make up for Fernando's absence. Brian the Norco rep rode with us (with Greg actually) and joined us for some dinner afterwards--thanks for coming out Brian. Maybe next time you can drop Greg and ride with the fast group ;)

Since I was out camping at the end of last week, and away for work this week it appears that this was my only ride for seven days! Sad eh? However, I should be back next week rested and ready to go :) See you all then!

Note for Wednesday night Perth riders: I'll be gone this week for work, so won't be joining you...however, it sounds like Greg and Jenn may make their way up to Perth, so it should be a great ride!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rideau Lakes Renegade Ride

Steve, Matt and I rode the 'renegade' version of the Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour on the weekend--starting at Jamie's cottage on Bob's Lake, and making our way to Kingston with a bit of a detour for good measure.

Matt and I left Perth on Friday night at about 8:15. Despite being sick, I was feeling pretty good, and in a good mood for a weekend of riding. Matt made a comment about how it was going to be a good weekend, and my response was "It's always a good weekend when you have a car full of bikes and beer!" We arrived at Jamie's cottage after an hour drive, and Steve and Jamie made us feel at home. The evening was spent chatting (mostly about bikes, but other topics came up as well...) and having a couple of beers. We crashed fairly early in order to be in prime shape for the ride.

In the morning, Steve cooked up some bacon and scrambled eggs, and we ate well. We decided to ride out from the cottage on the gravel road instead of driving out, thus adding about 15kms to each end of our ride. After eating and cleaning up a bit, we went out to get bikes ready to roll. We were on the road for 7:40 or so if I remember correctly. The first pedal stroke Matt took sounded like his chain was going to break--off to a good start! Luckily, it didn't break, and no damage was done. Jamie set a fast pace off the mark and we struggled to keep up on the gravel roads while trying to wake up a bit. The gravel section went by quickly, with Jamie powering up the hills in front of us to keep us motivated. At Crow Lake Road, Jamie continued straight through--he had a TT in the evening, and a road race the next day in Milford, so he wasn't joining us on the remainder of the ride. We said goodbye, and headed down Crow Lake Road for Bolingbroke. We had a great tailwind, and made excellent time. We rode three abreast and had no cars come up behind us for almost the entire road--fantastic! From Bolingbroke, we headed to Maberly, then Elphin, McDonald's Corners, Playfairville, Fallbrook and Glen Tay before heading into Perth for the first rest stop. At Glen Tay we began to see riders heading out Christie Lake Road towards Westport--the first riders we'd seen all day.

As we got into Perth, there were riders all over, eventually all converging on Last Duel Park, where the rest stop was set up. We filled up on water and sandwiches, and had a bit of a rest in the shade. It was hotter than hot by this point, and we were all coated in salt that had crystallized on our skin after the sweat evaporated. We left Perth via Christie Lake Road, this time riding in the same direction as the rest of the riders, and tagged onto a group going fairly fast about 10kms out. We rode with them until the end of Christie Lake Road. By this point, Steve was getting some bad muscle cramps that locked up his legs, so we dropped off the group to take the first big climb. It was a tough one, and Steve was pretty sore at the end of it--we figured it was an electrolyte problem due to the heat, since he's never had cramping like that before. He ate a banana and drank more water to try to help it. We made our way into Westport, and flew down the hill into town.

At the Westport rest station, we again filled up on water, Powerade, chips (to replenish salt) and I also had a Coffee Crisp. We chatted with some riders from Ottawa who'd heard good things about Sport X, and we invited them down to ride with us on Monday nights. When we felt fairly rested, we hit the road again. With the wind in our face, we worked our way towards Kingston, occasionally joining in with a group if they were going a decent speed. We stopped again at the final rest stop along the way for some more water, but not for too long. The trip from there to Kingston was fairly uneventful, and we rolled into Queen's campus where Caroline was waiting for us (having ridden from Merrickville). The SportXiest Group in the Rideau Lakes Tour all converged in a shady spot in the sun for a beer and a rest (see photo below).

After hauling ourselves upright, we set off to pick up our bags and to get cleaned up before meeting again for dinner. Matt and I made our way to the Alexander Henry, which was to be our home for the night. We checked in, stored the bikes away in the galley, and had a cool shower to wash off the sweat and salt. We did a quick tour around the boat before heading off to the Radisson to meet the others. I almost fell asleep in the comfy leather chair in the lobby, but soon Steve, Caroline, Fernando, Brian, Chris, Marg, Rick, Jenny and Dave showed up and we set off to Frankie Pestos for some excellent pasta (penne with hot italian sausage) and some Stella. It was exactly what I needed!

After dinner, we did a short tour around town, but didn't really get much further than the White Mountain IceCream shop, where we stopped for a bit of dessert. I had a blueberry frozen yogurt in a waffle cone--tasty :) After that, we all headed back to the ship for a quick tour of the sites, and then went to bed!

Morning brought sun and more hot weather, although the humidity was not quite as brutal as the day before. After having breakfast on the ship (cereal, muffins, cinnamon buns, yogurt) Matt and I took a walk down town to see if we could find some fruit at the market, but had no luck. We also stopped at a convenience store to top up on Gatorade and chocolate milk. As we arrived back at the ship, the fire alarm was going off and all the guests were evacuating--turns out someone had burned their toast. After the fire department came (2 trucks!) and the alarm was reset, we boarded the ship, changed into bike gear, and checked out. We rode back to the Radisson to drop off our bags and meet up with Steve for our ride back to the cottage. We were late in leaving, and heading out of town tagged on with a rider who turned out to be an organizer of the tour--he was riding 'sweep' and thought he was the last rider on the route. We rode with him until Westport, and had a decent pace going the whole time. It took me about 20 mins to wake up, but after that I was fine and feeling strong again. At Westport we stopped for more water and a Clif Bar before heading off once again to Bolingbroke. Of course, leaving Westport requires the climb of the day, which was painful but fun. We picked off groups of riders from the top of the hill to Christie Lake Road, where the official route turned ours parted ways. We continued to Crow Lake Road, which we turned on to into a headwind. It was a bit of a grind for the 15kms to the highway--the hills keep coming one after the other, and each one seems to get bigger and bigger. Add in the headwind, and the mounting fatigue from the many miles from the day before and it was a tough ride! Matt and I commented that it would be a nasty 15km TT course! I'd like to see what kind of times could be posted on that course! Yikes!

When we hit highway 38, I hit a bit of a 'zen' state on the smooth pavement. My breathing was almost effortless, and we upped the pace considerably despite the constant uphill grade of the road. The gravel road to the cottage came soon, and we turned off the pavement onto the gravel for our 15kms of 'cross riding. Unfortunately (someone had to do it!) I flatted with about 2 kms to go! It took way too long to change the tube--I was tired, sweaty and apparently not thinking very clearly. Thanks for Steve and Matt for helping out :) I got about 50lbs of air in the tire with the mini pump, and rode the rest of the way back to the cottage very carefully. On the last downhill before the cottage, Matt dropped his sunglasses. He slowed down to turn back, but Steve picked them up. However, Matt's slowing meant he lost all momentum he had, and on the next steep hill he spun out on the loose gravel and fell down--it was pretty funny because it was within 20meteres of the cottage! :) We had a good laugh as we rolled to the end of the ride!

After stashing bikes in the cars, we had some chips and salsa while sitting on the dock with our feet in the water. We decided it'd be nice to go for a swim, so Steve and I jumped in. When Matt jumped, he forgot to take his sunglasses off, so they ended up on the bottom of the lake. The weedy bottom made it impossible to find them. After our swim, we BBQ'd some sausages and had a good meal. After packing up, we said goodbye to Steve, and headed back to Perth.

Phew! That was long... the quick recap: 297kms, 2 days, 1 flat tire, 1 slow-motion fall down, 1 fire alarm, several beers, untold liters of water, two wheels and one hell of a good time! Same time, same place next year lads!

The SportXiest Group in the Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour

Monday, June 9, 2008

Week #10: "You're all a bunch of wimps"


A slight hint of 'severe' thunderstorms, and our group of 'hardcore' riders runs for the shelter of the nearest roof. However, the few and the proud (myself, Jenn, Ron and Chris) made it out for a great ride under overcast but dry skies (the few seconds of rain we did have only helped to cool us off a bit.) We rode a nice short loop over my favourite wooden bridge, and Jenn proved how strong she is this year by upping the pace on us as we dodged turtles on the Jasper highway. Thanks guys (and gal) for coming out--I'd hate to drive all the way to the shop and have to ride solo, 'cause I can ride solo from home!

Ron took 2 BSWs, and Jenn took the train tracks on the way into town. Sprinting was not exactly in the cards today!

(Note: The full Rideau Lakes Tour report is coming soon...but I thought I'd actually post a Monday ride report on Monday for a change, just to keep Carolin happy!)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Week #9: Busy Bike Season!


Week #9 was a FANTASTIC ride from the shop to Murphy's Point. Ashby didn't show, yet our average speed was possibly the fastest yet, at 33.6 km/hr. Steve, Steve, Chris and I hammered it out, and I really didn't even think we were going that fast until we got back and I checked the stats... it didn't seem like we were working too hard!

Last Sunday was the Perth Triathlon, and I rode the bike leg as part of Team CGIS, with Trent doing the swim and Matt running. We had a decent race, although my ride was rudely interrupted by a mechanical... somehow my rear wheel was loose, and shifted in the dropouts when I set out, so that it was rubbing on the frame. I had to stop, hop off the bike, loosen the QR, straighten the wheel, and tighten it up again... all within 500m of the bike start :( I also got slowed by a car at the turnaround point, and by a dump truck/trailer backing into a driveway that was blocking the road on the way back in. However, I still put in a decent ride, with a time of 25:42. Full results are here [pdf]. There's definitely room for improvement next year!

Wednesday we had an excellent ride from the Perth pool, with 5 riders (Chris, Geoff, Matt, Luke and I) riding to Lanark and back on a warm, humid summery night. Thanks for coming out guys!

This weekend is the 'bootleg' version of the Rideau Lakes Tour. Steve, Matt and I are starting on Bob's Lake, and doing a ~180km ride down to Kingston, where Matt and I are staying on the Alexander Henry. On Sunday, we're riding back to the cottage on Bob's Lake, although we may take a shorter route. The forecast looks HOT and possibly wet... we shall see!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Week #8: Ouch!

What a great ride!

The weather forecast was less than stellar, so I prepared for a soggy, windy ride. Shawn made his way down to ride with us this week, and must have brought the good weather with him, as it turned out to be a great night (although slightly windy!)

We set off with a good group of riders (35ish?) and slowly upped the pace until we were left with a group of about 8--myself, Shawn, Ashby, Steve, Fraser, Ian, Drew, Brian, Fernando and... that might be it (sorry if I missed anyone?) rode most of the night together. For a while, we rode a nice rotating paceline and the average speed increased steadily, from under 30 to 32.4 by the end of the night. Apparently when Shawn and I are grinding away on the front into a headwind, we're not allowed to chat--when we did, Ashby and Steve would pull past and up the pace yet again! At one point Steve was on Shawn's wheel and waving me to pull through and I could hardly keep up, let alone pull through! Shawn put in a couple of monster pulls, including the longest leadout ever (7kms?) up to the the railroad track sprint. Again, I was barely hanging on to his wheel here, and didn't have much of a sprint left in me, but the leadout gave me enough of an edge to take Steve while a train rolled across infront of us (remember kids, never try to sprint a train!)

In the BSW department: Ashby took Mott's Mills, where my legs had NOTHING. Shawn took two impressive wins, one without even knowing it was coming up until much too late (at least, much too late for anyone else to win!) As mentioned above, I took the railroad track sprint over Steve after an incredible leadout from Shawn. I'm not sure what happened to Ashby here...I guess he was off the back because he knows the railroad track sprint doesn't count?!? Yeah.. that's it ;) Seems to me Steve at a blue sign win too, although I can't recall..?

All for now... remember to let me know if you're interested in joining the TdF pool!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Week #6: Rest

Yes, apparently it's rest mode for Darren lately.

My plan was to take a long weekend away from the bike. I did so, spending the weekend paddling around the Kawarthas. I got home Monday afternoon, but decided to skip the ride, partly because of the weather, partly as a result of the canoe trip. However, here it is almost 6pm on Wednesday, and I'm not getting ready to ride now either. It's officially rest mode now! The (wet,cold, windy) weather is telling me it's time to slow down, so I don't get burnt out before summer even starts! Hopefully those who made it out to ride Monday night (or tonight) enjoyed it, and didn't miss me too much! ;)

In the mean time, check out Chris' photos from the Masters Tri here, and remember that the weather provides an excuse to rest. Like Padraig over at B.K.W. (clearly a much better writer than I) says:
"We can do all the miles we want, but everyone knows that getting fast requires recovery. Here’s to the speed that sleep brings."

Cheers to that!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week #5:

So Monday night was supposed to be an easy day for me after racing on Saturday. Ya, right!

Ashby showed up, and well.. that's all you need to know.

We had a great group of riders out, and the weather was perfect.

My two blue signs apparently didn't count, as 'other' picked up two wins by taking a shorter route and passing the sign before our group. Since it's a bit of a cop-out, I won't name names of the 'other' *cough* Greg *cough* riders.

A couple of kilometers from Jasper, Ashby took off. I didn't really feel like going with him, but he looked back and said "are you coming?" which is apparently all it takes... We rode into Jasper, then turned and up Jasper Highway back into town, trading pulls and barely dropping below 40 km/hr the entire time. Mostly because we kept picking off groups of riders, and as soon as we passed a group, the next one was on the horizon.. nothing like a rabbit to keep you motivated! By the end, we were both pretty fried, but it sure felt good!

Pub talk consisted of about a hundred conversations going on all at once, since we had a group big enough to fill up the back room at Rob Roy's! Dave had a copy of his velodrome proposal, which I got a very quick look at--impressive!

Note for Wednesday night Perth riders: I unfortunately won't be able to attend, as last minute work duties call. Perhaps more riders will show up when I'm not around? ;) Enjoy the ride without me!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Brockville Road Race for Habitat - Post-race thoughts

I'm back from the Brockville Road Race for Habitat. After learning that I'd be racing Senior 4 rather than Senior 3 (due to my lack of a UCI licence) my strategy changed somewhat from "try to stay alive" to "see if I can actually do well." Race time was 9:03am, so I was up early for a quick breakfast and headed off for the big town of Lyn. I arrived with plenty of time to get prepared, sign in and pick up my bib number (#115). It was a bit chilly early on, so I put on my arm warmers, short sleeve jersey, with a long sleeved jersey over top. However, it did warm up a bit by race time, and I was fine with just the arms and the short sleeve jersey. I kept leg warmers on the whole day though.

The race started with a laid back roll out of the park in a group with Senior 4 (my group), Master 3 and Cadet Men all together. We left 3 minutes after the group of Senior 1/2 women and Master 2 men. The course consisted of 8 counter-clockwise loops of this loop, for a total of just under 80kms. It was a very flat course, with only one slight hill just on the way back out of town. However, it was also quite open and windy for most of the course, which came into play often. The first lap was more or less uneventful, except for the turn from Howe Rd. to #27, where riders were jumping after the corner to maintain the pace, but then hitting a slight uphill grade and a headwind, and slowing down quickly. Riders behind were hammering on the brakes to stop from hitting the slower riders in front of them, and on the first lap, I got my wheel right up beside a riders chainstay and rubbed briefly before I got slowed down enough. This location was one to keep an eye on throughout the race!

On the second lap, nothing of note happened until the same corner, where one of the Cadet riders went down. I'm not sure what happened, but I think he must have overlapped wheels with a rider in front, then over-corrected and hit the gravel shoulder. No other riders went down, and I was well clear of the action at that point. All I saw was a rider on the left side of the group veer 90 degrees, cut across the group of riders on the right (no idea how they avoided him) and hit the shoulder/ditch and go down.

Laps 3-6 were pretty uneventful, and I just sat in the middle of the group as much as possible, trying to stay sheltered from the wind. It didn't feel like we were going too quickly, until one point when I went to click to a higher gear, and noticed I was already maxed out! On the Howe Rd. 'backstretch' on the 6th lap (I think?) we had two riders open up a small gap. A third rider joined them briefly, and the gap increased. The third rider didn't stick with them for too long, because the next time I noticed they were down to two again. I thought they would get caught easily, so was content to let them go (as was everyone else apparently.) By the seventh lap, we were getting reports that they were up by 30 seconds, yet still no one started the chase in earnest. By the start of the 8th (and final) lap, riders were talking about starting to chase, and on the backstretch we got a double paceline working fairly well. I think we put some time into the two leaders, but shortly afterwards the paceline fell apart, and they were still 30 seconds up. Coming around the 'crash corner' on the final lap, I was sitting on the left side of the road, about half way back in the group when I saw/heard riders going down in front of me (you know the sickening crash sound, and smell of burning rubber....) I went far left and managed to avoid everything, but we lost at least 8 riders from the group at this point. However, since it was so close to the end, we carried on.

At this point we were about 3 or 4 kms from the finish, and the two-man break was well clear. I found myself at the front, and tried to get a paceline going again, but nothing doing! I was sitting on front for a while, trying to get someone to come up and take a pull, but again, no one responded. Once we hit the town (approx. 800m or so to go to the line) I figured that if I was going to sit on the front, I might as well make them work for it behind me (I knew there was no way I would win an actual sprint!), so I jumped. I opened up a fairly sizable gap, and looked back once to see the group about 60m or so back. At this point it was do or die, so I put the hammer down. My legs were burning at this point, but I could picture the finish just a couple of hundred meters ahead. When the line was (finally!) in sight, I took one more look back to see the group about 10 meters behind me and closing fast! All I could do was put my head down and sprint for the line! I'm 99.9% sure that I took the sprint at the line, but if so it was by less than a wheel length! We'll wait for the photo finish results to see the real story! I think that if I had waited about 20 or 30 more seconds before I jumped, I could have taken it uncontested, but then again they may have responded quicker if I had I won't complain about the results!

So, overall, I was 3rd in the group (the two in the breakaway stayed away and won by 35") and took the bunch sprint with the late jump! I'm pretty pleased with that! One of the riders in the break was a Senior 4, so I ended up second in the category, and third in our little group.

Official results will eventually be posted here. Hopefully they'll also post some photos or videos of the finish if at all possible! Unfortunately, Shawn and Keli didn't make it down, otherwise I would have stayed to watch them...but as it was I was pretty tired, and after the BBQ and podium, I headed home for a well deserved nap and some more food!

And, as a side note, an American is in Pink at the Giro d'Italia today. Cheers to Christian Vandevelde and the Slipstream "Argyle Army" (best team nickname ever!)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Senior 4

As a real quick update, it looks like I'll be racing Senior 4 tomorrow, since I don't have a UCI Licence. I guess that means I won't be racing with Shawn, but will get to watch his race after I'm done!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Week #4:

OK, so I'm officially terrible at updating this thing on time. Ah well!

Monday was a beautiful sunny evening, and we had a great group out for the ride. After some trash talking in the shop with Greg and Ashby (apparently, one of my BSWs didn't count because it was on the highway... ok fine... but Steve's did going up the hill at the tracks.. even if there is no sign!)

Ashby managed to tear my legs off on both sprints I tried to go for--on the first one, I was spun out in my big gear, and apparently he had one "in reserve" still.. Yes, we had a tail wind, and yes, it hurt. However, the first BSW of the night is somewhat debatable, as someone (not naming names) rode off from the shop ahead of the group and was sitting and waiting for us at the Rosedale sign. I'm not sure if that counts or not?!? Survey says....... NO!

We put in ~58kms, and I think all enjoyed the ride!

Post-ride pub banter:

  • Everyone is jealous of Fernando, who spent an afternoon with George Hincapie's wife (who, as we all know is quite attractive). Don't ask how... or why... just go with it.
  • Also, remember to vote for Fernando on "Older Idol".. if he ever sends out the link again..
In other news, the Perth Wednesday night ride tonight was (once again) two riders--this time Don and I. If we can only get all these lone riders out on the same night for a change, we'll have a great group! It drizzled for the entire (very short) ride, but we beat the heavier rain that started seconds after I arrived home. Also, I'm officially registered for the Brockville Road Race for Habitat now.. so.. wish me luck!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Brockville Road Race for Habitat

The Brockville Road Race for Habitat is looming! Next Saturday is the day, and I'm hoping to attend, although I've yet to register. I'll likely be racing Senior 3, and it sounds like Shawn will be there as well! Is anyone else going? Dave? Chris? Steve? Ashby? If so, we should discuss car pooling, etc.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The best way to guarantee rain on Monday night... to wash your bike on Sunday!

I didn't make it to the shop on Monday for a ride, since the weather was pretty rainy, and I didn't feel like making the drive down to find that no one was riding. Did anyone go?

The Wednesday Perth Group Ride went ahead tonight under ominous skies, and it ended up being just myself and Geoff H (for his first time with the 'group'). We had a nice spin down to Glen Tay, then to Burgesswood and back. We didn't get rained (or hailed) on, but I think the possibility scared most riders away. Can't say I blame them, since if Geoff didn't show up, I don't think I would have gone.

In other news, rumour on the street is that someone has a new Madone, and that someone else won the first MTB O-Cup of the season! Watch out!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Paris-Ancaster Recap

OK! So, it's a week after the race, but I'm finally making some time to write a quick summary of my Paris to Ancaster experience! Last Sunday, April 20th I raced the Paris to Ancaster bike race for the first time. This is a very popular (1600 riders) race that's been going on now for 15 years. The 60km race runs from Paris to Ancaster (obviously) and is (somewhat) modeled on the infamous Paris-Roubaix in France. However, rather than pavé (cobbled roads) that Paris-Roubaix is famous for, Paris to Ancaster covers a mix of paved roads, gravel roads, rail trail, tractor paths through farmers fields, and some non-technical single track, with a couple of mud holes thrown in for good measure.

Since I'm mostly a roady, this was a pretty new experience for me, and I had no idea what to expect going in. Shawn (who's done the race in the past, but unfortunately didn't make the trip down this year) told me that it was no more technical than a 'cross race, which made me feel a bit better! I had the 'cross bike ready to roll, and parked the car at Matt's place in Paris. I rode the 4kms to the start of the race, where I was engulfed in a huge mass of riders. Since I'd never done the race before, and don't yet have a race license this year, I was to start in the second wave of riders, which left 15 minutes after the "A" group. I managed to chat quickly with Andrew at the start line (he was in the very front of the "A" group, where you'd expect him!) and wished him luck (unfortunately not enough his story here.)

As the first wave of riders went out, I found myself well back in the group at the start for the second wave--about 2/3rds of the way in. This is not where I'd really hoped to be, since closer to the front would have been much more intelligent! Oh well.. lesson learned for next time! When we got the "GO" I waited/walked/pedaled slowly for 45 seconds before crossing the line--that's how many riders were in front of me. Once we got out on the road, I immediately started making my way up in the group. After a quick paved section, we made a 90-degree right onto some washboard gravel. Here there were water bottles strewn all over the road, and riders were dodging all over the place like mad to miss them. Chaos! Another very good reason to be at the front of the group! Amazingly, I didn't see anyone go down in this section!

Soon after, we hit a long section of rail trail. About 6 feet wide of crushed gravel, the riding was fast and furious. Two lines of riders formed in the slightly smoother tracks on each side of the trail, and went as far as you could see with few gaps. The pace was pretty quick, but not overly fast. A rider went by me, shooting through the gap up the middle, passing riders on both sides. Seemed like a great idea to me, and this guy looked like he'd done this before, so I grabbed his wheel, and took off passing riders up the middle. I think in this rail trail section I passed about 400 riders in this fashion! Sweet!

My legs were feeling great, so as I got closer to the front of the group, and the race spread out a bit I set to chasing down small groups of riders (6-8 in a group) and sitting on for a rest before taking off to catch the next group up the road. Despite the singletrack and mudholes, tactically this race was very much a road race, since there was very little passing on the trails. Heading in to a section of wooded trail, I passed a group of riders on the road, and heard someone yell "DARREN COPE!" I looked back to see Kevin Rich! I yelled something at him, and he replied "See you at the finish line! I'll have a drink waiting for you!" (still waiting for that drink BTW there Mr. Rich!) I didn't see him again until the finish line though. On a fast section of paved road, I was working very well with another rider of about the same strength as me, and we were picking off groups left and right. At one point, I moved by to take a pull, and he ran into my rear wheel as I took the front. I heard a sickening crash, and looked back in time to see him sprawled out on the road with his bike halfway across the road. He yelled at me to go on without him, so I did. A rider behind him (on a Single-Speed MTB nonetheless) had it up on one wheel to stop in time before running him over!

I rode the rest of the race more or less alone, sitting into a few groups for a breather now and then. At one of the road intersections, the marshal/volunteer yelled "6km to go!" so I figured I was safe to really hammer home. It was all good until the final killer hill right before the finish. Matt had warned me about it many times, but I figured I'd be ok to ride it. WRONG! Despite my legs feeling super good, I still only made it half way up before I had to jump off and walk. Here's where MTB gearing would be an advantage over the 'cross bike, although it would have been a serious disadvantage everywhere else! When someone yelled "50m to go" I jumped back on the bike and rode the rest of the way to the finish. If I had known it was that close I may have been able to ride the whole thing (although maybe not any faster than walking it!).

I crossed the time with a total time of 2:14:13, which was much better than my goal of 2:30:00! I'm very pleased with the results, ending up 120th overall, which is not too shabby for my first time. Next year I've got some more concrete goals to shoot for!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Week #2: Guest Post

I've been slacking ever since Paris to Ancaster (more about that later...) and didn't get around to writing a post for Week #2. Luckily Fred sent out this email, so hopefully he doesn't mind if I post it here...

Good Afternoon Boys and Girls
(to all of us who survived the "short but sweet" ride of epic proportions)
I had forgotten the way these little rides develop into something that has a life of its own. I should have taken heed as we made the turn onto Rideau Ferry Rd when Steve nonchalantly suggested "We have gone slow long enough" and like a fool I got sucked into the "A" train.
We left the shop after a brief reunion of sorts, although I missed the hug portion of the preride (not you Fernando).
It was still great to see so many familiar, friendly faces as well as smiling new ones. Next time I will try to say hi to more of you.
The group, about 20 or so, made its way down Golf Club rd, onto Bay rd and then onto Rideau Ferry rd. Did anyone else hit that big pothole in front of Millers antiques? I hit it square on and only through my superior, brilliant and magnificent bike handling skills(gag) I was able to stay upright. When we hit the downhill I had asked Darren how fast we were going to which he replied "46 kmh" as he took off with the rest of them. I was told later that max was about 53 kmh. Well, for an old duffer like me this just too much and cause I did not reeeaaallly want to embarrass the fast guys by blowing by them(again gag) I held back.
I met up with Jen at Lombardy and we rode the most of the way to Toldeo together. This lady is in awesome shape, while I was gasping for air and my ears pounding , she was talking in a normal tone and hardly out of breath. As we passed the turn off to Jasper and decided to go on to Toldeo, we met Jeff coming the other way at which point we learned that the group was coming back from Toledo. So we turned back and were shortly caught up by them. The fool part of me again spoke in my ear and seductively(my fool has a female voice) told me that, hey no problem this is not that fast. HAH.
After the turn on Kitley #3 and at a little incline I couldn't hang on and I fell off the pack. I was caught by Jenn,Jeff and Frank and we rode the rest of the way together down Jasper highway. We passed Shawn and Sasha and another rider along the way.
As we turned onto Brockville St, Frank and I had a little contest and I must say again through my brilliant bike riding(gag one more time) I was able to ride to the shop first.
So our little ride was about 55 km and the fast guys did over 60km. Not all that shabby for the first ride of the season, well for me anyways.
See you next week and remember
Ride Your Bike

Darren's note: Steve took 3 BSWs, while I took 1. Running total updated at right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Week 1 Recap!

Yes, Week 1! We have officially started the outdoor riding season! Monday night was the first group ride of the year, leaving from the shop at 6:00pm. It was a beautiful night, with the sun shining down, and the temperature at a reasonable 7 degrees (ish). A good group of about 10 showed up ready to ride!

We headed out Rosedale way, with A.C. taking the Blue Sign Win (#1 for the year for A.C.) in Rosedale. His quest for every blue sign win this year was off to a good start! The pace picked up a bit as we moved on towards Kilmarnock, with S.C., A.C. and I off the front. I grabbed A.C.'s wheel, and he lead us up towards the sign. S.C. made certain I knew it was coming, and I pulled out to pass. I road away for the BSW without much of a challenge from A.C., thus breaking his chain of winning every blue sign this year on only the second blue sign if the season. Weak! I sat up, thinking we'd let the group catch us, but apparently that wasn't in the cards. By the time I decided to chase, I was back a good gap--had to bridge up to the two leaders, then hang on while I got my legs back. The pace was cooking pretty good (at least for this time of year!) the rest of the way back to town. S.C. easily won the third and final BSW of the night, giving us each one on the year!

After the ride, most of us headed to R.R.'s for some beverages and eats. The topic of discussion was the possibility of building a velodrome in town, similar to what London did. All agreed, it would be a fantastic idea for the town, and bring some tourist/event dollars to town. Anyone have $1.5 million kicking around they'd be willing to pony up? Or perhaps a 400x200' chunk of land? D.S. would be a great project lead/chief velodrome-er , and his enthusiasm is certainly contagious! Who knows, maybe it'll happen!

Overall, a fantastic start to the year! Perth rides are starting Wednesday (tomorrow) from the pool at 6:00pm. All are welcome, and tomorrow will be a slow ride, 'cause my legs are hurting after Monday and tonight.

BSW Season Totals:

A.C.: 1
D.C.: 1
S.C.: 1

Yup, all tied up at 1 BSW apiece after the first week. So much for A.C. winning every one this year! Now we just need someone with a last name that doesn't start with a 'C'... anybody?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Bar Tape.. now all I need is...

...some decent weather to ride it!

G.E. sold me on blue tape, so here it is! My original plan was to go with black tape, and blue tires (was thinking Conti GP 4000's) but now that I have the blue tape, I'm not sure if I should stick with plain ol' black tires or go all out with the blue. Anyway, I'd say the tape job turned out pretty well for a first time bar wrapper! Ask me how I like it in a few months, 'cause if it's still clean and shiny then, I'm sold!

Once again I lead Monday spin class, and had a good group out. Nothing too crazy this week, mostly because Bobby wasn't there! Went back on Wednesday, with I.B. leading, and went for a nice 'virtual' ride through Gatineau. It really made me want to get out and ride!! I'm up to just over 400 'outside' kms this year, but all of those have been on the 'cross rig, so no 'real' road rides yet!

Looks like the plan for Monday night is to show up at the shop avec bike, and if it's nice, we'll ride outside. If the weather is crappy, we'll hit the spin bikes again! Fingers crossed!

Oh, and the countdown to Paris-Ancaster is now sitting at T-minus 7 days! I'm really not ready!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pancake Ride... Cancelled :(

Well folks, thanks to this wonderful weather forecast, and a date
conflict with the swimathon, I am canceling the Pancake Ride.

I'll be gone the next weekend (racing Paris-Ancaster!) but if someone
else wants to lead the ride that weekend, you're welcome to do so!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pancake Ride

Who? - You and your friends or family that ride bikes--all are welcome, so forward the info on!

What? - A bike ride with a stop at Temple's Sugar Camp for pancakes and syrupy goodness. This will be a slow-paced ride, with no-one getting dropped. Time to socialize and ride with folks we may not have seen for months, and get a feel for the legs this year!

When? - Sunday, April 13 at 10:30 in the morning. Expected return time; 3:00ish, depending on how much syrupy goodness we indulge in.

Where? - Meet at Perth Pool parking lot. Route to be as follows: unless other suggestions prove more popular

Why? - The Barrie Cycling Club does an annual "Pancake Ride" which is generally their first big group ride of the year. I figure if they can do it in Barrie, we here in Lanark County (aka the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario) can do it better! And besides, you don't really need an excuse to go for a ride after a winter like that do you?

How? - Tune up the steed, show up at the pool ready to ride, and bring some cash for syrupy goodness!

Let me know if you're interested in coming so I have some idea of numbers!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Outdoor Riding?!?

Wow.. so I think spring may (?) actually have arrived! I've been riding outdoors 4 times since the last post! Of course, I also made it to the shop for spin class on Monday night. G.E. was away, so J.B. was running the show, and thus actually rode spin class with us for the first time on a Monday night! Also, I.B. was back from Florida (1000 kms later) and looking tanned and fit! We had a couple of new faces yet again (great to see!) and a few of the usual suspects as well. We're taking it week by week now, so may only have one more class to go if the weather remains nice!

I'm debating if I should make Wednesday the 9th the first 'official' ride from the Pool. However, it still gets dark fairly early, so we'd have to ride at 5, and it's not likely too man folks can make it that early. Thoughts?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Milan-San Remo Edition

The 99th edition of Milan-San Remo was contested on Saturday, with the amazing Fabian Cancellara taking the win for CSC in its last year as the team's sponsor. Fabian took the win with an attack at 2 kms to go, and held off Pozzato by 4 seconds. Fabian rode the 298 km race in 7:14:35. Yes, you read that right. Think about it for a works out to 41.14 km/hr... for 298 km. Or, way better than I can average in a full-out time-trial effort for 15kms. Pretty amazing, even when you don't consider that it's still early in the season for these guys, and--oh ya-- there are some mountains thrown into that 298km just for good measure.

Our Monday night spin-class group was a total sell-out. Every bike was taken, with 16 riders out for one of my toughest workouts yet. I had planned in some good climbs and lots of short sprints as well, with very little recovery time, so heart rates were high for most of the hour and a half. I think everyone survived, and maybe even had fun--I know I did! Even S.T. came out to see what it's like, and I think I even saw her smile at least once despite the hard work! A couple more new faces (at least to me) filled out the bikes, and of course many of the usuals were in attendance as well. It looks like I'll be leading at least one more Monday class...which is good, except that it means we still aren't riding outside :(

I tried on and placed my order for some team kit... can't wait to see the new jerseys and shorts! Hopefully everyone who's interested gets their orders in to the shop soon! We may not have the kit in time for early outdoor rides, but will have them for most of the season!

As usual, I went back for Tuesday night's class with J.B. leading. Another good group, and a solid climbing workout with no rest breaks...Ouch! I'm really hoping all this work pays off on the road!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another week closer... riding outside...despite winter holding on stubbornly.

Although I'm going to miss spin classes (a bit), I definitely won't miss them as much as I miss real riding right now!

Last night I lead another class, and we had a decent group despite having a few no-shows due to illness. However, G.E. talked A.C. into coming out even though he was sick! I think he was lured by the possibility of green beers afterwards! We also had a couple of new faces in the back row, which is always good to see!

After class we went to R.R.'s for a pint or two... but since it was St. Patrick's day, the joint was packed! We managed to find a table, and had some nachos and Guiness (regular-old black, not green.) The only real notable even of the night was A.C. proclaiming that he would win every blue sign sprint this year. Yes, you read that right, and it's now here in writing: On March 17, 2008, A.C. claimed that he
"will win every blue sign sprint this year."
He did however add the reasonable caveat that he had to be present, so we can't be claiming wins on days he doesn't show up. I guess I'm OK with that! We will have to see how his goal progresses over the course of the season--if it holds true, this will be a pretty boring blog, because it will just say "Week 1: A.C. wins; Week 2: A.C. wins; Week 3: A.C. wins, etc., etc."

I went for a spin again tonight, with J.B. leading. Another good turnout! I think I even convinced S.T. to come to my class on Monday...after all, we did have a deal! She also mentioned that she might be riding on the road with us come the summer, which would be excellent! The more the merrier of course!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A beautiful day for a ride!

I got out for an hour long ride on the 'cross bike this morning, and it was great! I'm feeling pretty strong for this time of year, mostly thanks to spin classes and roller riding! The roads are mostly clear, with only a bit of ice hanging around in several spots. I rode the 'cross bike with full fenders, and didn't get wet or muddy at all.. sweet! Of course the sun that was out when I started getting ready disappeared shortly before I hit the road, and reappeared when I was ten minutes from home. Ah well!

I took the 'blue' sign win (actual the Town of Perth sign, which is maroon/red rather than blue) although there was no competition! My crazy 48-12 sprint got me up to 45.5 km/hr...smoking! haha..

I realized that Paris to Ancaster is coming up in just over a month, and I'm not sure I'll be ready at this rate! We'll still have snow by then from the looks of it... However, I'm registered, plans are made, and time is booked off work, so I'm going even if I have to crawl across the line!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bicycle Safety Tips from The Onion

Everyone's favourite news source The Onion brings us some bicycle safety tips. I agree with all of them, except for this one...

"Insist on a bicycle made of solid matter. Liquid and vapor bikes are a passing fancy; argon frames are particularly shoddy."

...because Argon actually makes some pretty sweet frames!

Hoping to get out on the road tomorrow, if it's not too windy... I don't mind -1°C, but -1°C with a 30 km/hr wind is another story. We will see what tomorrow brings...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We're back...

Well, after Blue Sign Weekly was flagged by the Google-bots as a SPAM blog, and shut down for a while (probably due to G.E. rigging the votes in the poll over there ----> [honestly, no one else would vote for him that many times!]) we're now back!

I lead my second spin class yesterday, and due to the March Break we had a much smaller class. It was still a good workout though! Since the time change was on the weekend, we even had daylight streaming into the shop for most of the ride, which is good and bad. Good because, well.. everyone loves natural light; bad because it makes me want to be riding outside rather than grinding away on a spin bike! Soon enough, I'm sure--once all of the snow melts and the resulting flood clears! I've got the fenders mounted on the 'cross bike for some spring riding action, and really hope to get out one night this week after work. At this point, it might have to be Thursday or Friday before that happens, although they're calling for rain on Friday. We will see!

I went back for a spin today with J.B. leading, and really got a good workout in. M.M. even came out for the first time, and it sounds like he enjoyed it. It's nice to go to J.B.'s class and sit in the back and sweat it out, rather than trying to yell out instructions at the front which requires some breath!

All for now...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring is near...

Well, it looks like the hammer-heads are getting into spring riding mode. On Monday night, the who's who of local cycling (with the notable exception of I.B. who's in Florida spinning base miles as we speak) was present at the shop for spin class. Some, like S.W., C.W. and A.C., made their way out from their winter 'hibernation' (if that's what you call grinding out endless hours on the rollers at home alone) for their first and only appearance at spin class, while others came out for yet another week--but this time with a twist--for this was my first time leading a spin class! We 'raced' the Epping Course, although in a shorter format...we only had 1.5 hours!

With the time change coming up this weekend, I'm sure many will be looking to get out on the road very soon... I know my 2008 total of 93 outdoor kilometers is a bit depressing, but it's only a matter of time! Spin Classes will be coming to an end shortly, and pretty soon we'll all be dreaming of Blue Signs and post-ride beverages at R.R.'s. Can't wait!

With the season almost about to start.. who's your money on? I think we'll keep a tally of Blue Sign Wins (BSWs) here throughout the year, and at the end of the season the winner will get... something! Start the wagering in the poll on the right!

Welcome to Blue Sign Weekly

Welcome to Blue Sign Weekly...where I'll try to keep you up-to-date on the goings on at the front of the sprint for the Blue Sign that happens every Monday night. Of course, if I'm not at the front, then I guess we'll have to have G.E. write the post. Or maybe A.C. We'll see ;)

Feel free to leave comments... just keep the trash talking to a minimum, unless it's about G.E.! Bookmark, or add to your feed reader and check back for (hopefully weekly) updates!