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?