Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

So, Christmas 2009 is behind us. As a parent with young children, Christmas morning is something special to behold. The shrieks and cries of surprise create memories to last a lifetime. Things come into perspective and somehow that $100 American Girl doll that prohibited the purchase of some new mtb race tires seems like money well spent.

As a parent, receiving gifts is are secondary. But every once in a while a shriek-worthy gift can still come one's way. For me, Christmas 2009 will forever be remembered as the year I received a baker's dozen of dress socks.

Oh yeah, that's right! Top that!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Interview With Phil Ligget

The winter solstice is behind us. Let us turn our attention to the upcoming season, such as the Spring Classics, the Tour, and the accompanying commentary from Phil Ligget. Here's something to whet your appetite.

(link courtesy of Brad The Impaler)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Falling Gently

It's been a fantastic December for riding apart from the cold snap we had to endure. Even that wasn't bad as traction wasn't an issue.

Brad and I got out yesterday for a spin with Hal and Kevin B. Together we checked out Kevin's secret 'Upper Cut' and 'Low Blow' trails before heading east for some Seine River monkey trail action. Sheltered in the trees from the breeze, the light snowfall gave the ride a Norman Rockwell-like quality despite my gasps for breath (and heckling from hikers) as I tried to keep up with the three wise men.

4.5 more days of work before I start my holidays. Hopefully this agreeable weather will stick around.

Brainssss agk grr ahhr eat
Brainsss hrrr aaa slurp agkkkkk brains
Snow falling on brains

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Apprehension

Presented from the Commission of Raillery.

In an effort to convince others (and ourselves) that we're cool, we present the debut of a new line of RRR intimate wear. Simple, self important, and silly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are You A Believer?

It's Sunday. Are you going to church? Are you still a faithful and practicing member of the Church of Lance Armstrong?

If you are, you will find this blasphemous. The Cozy Beehive has pulled together some interesting reading and lots of audio regarding the credibiity of The Boss. There's nothing new, but it's all conveniently pulled together for easy consumption.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Shoe Review

These are the heat moulded Shimano SH-R220 Road Shoe. I got a pair from Phil at Bikes and Beyond last spring with high expectations. Well, they are great. Craig at the shop did the custom fit (they have the machine to do the fittings) and they felt great right from the start. And they are a beautiful bright white so everyone can see your glowing feet (all you roadies know what I'm talking about). Very visible, very high end, very comfy and very stiff. I would recommend them to anyone on the road. So if you like cutting out your local shop and buying online from the states (not my recommendation, but there are a lot of local mennos who have no problem with this) here's a great deal on a great pair of shoes.

The boys at B and B may not like someone coming in to use their machine if you haven't purchased from them, but offer them a case a beer and it may work out for you

My suggestion is to head down there and buy local, support our economy. Either way, these shoes are by far my favorite shoe I've ever owned (for the bike, that is).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How cold is it?

I rode to work today. I am not a big fan of winter to begin with, and this kind of weather can make even my usually sunny disposition vanish. It is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. But just what is a brass monkey? And do they even have balls?

It's almost enough to make me wish I was stuck inside in some desert country riding the trainer with the A/C on high.


The full expansion of the phrase is cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey and is common throughout the English-speaking world, though much better known now in Australia and New Zealand than elsewhere. This is perhaps surprising, since we know it was first recorded in the USA, in the 1850s. It is often reduced to the elliptical form that you give (perhaps in deference to polite society — for the same reason, it has been modified in the US into freeze the tail off a brass monkey).

There is a story, often repeated, that the phrase originated in the British navy at the time of the Napoleonic wars or thereabouts. It is said that the stack of cannon balls alongside each gun were arranged in a pyramid on a brass plate to save space, the plate being called a monkey. In very cold weather, the story goes, the cannon balls would shrink and they would fall off the stack.

Don’t let anybody convince you of this. It’s rubbish. There’s no evidence that such brass plates existed. Although the boys bringing charges to the guns from the magazine were known as powder monkeys and there is evidence that a type of cannon was called a monkey in the mid seventeenth century, there’s no evidence that the word was ever applied to a plate under a pile of cannon shot. The whole story is full of logical holes: would they pile shot into a pyramid? (hugely unsafe on a rolling and pitching deck); why a brass plate? (too expensive, and unnecessary: they actually used wooden frames with holes in, called garlands, fixed to the sides of the ship); was the plate and pile together actually called a monkey? (no evidence, as I say); would cold weather cause such shrinkage as to cause balls to fall off? (highly improbable, as all the cannon balls would reduce in size equally and the differential movement between the brass plate and the iron balls would be only a fraction of a millimetre).

What the written evidence shows is that the term brass monkey was quite widely distributed in the US from about the middle of the nineteenth century and was applied in all sorts of situations, not just weather. For example: from The Story of Waitstill Baxter, by Kate Douglas Wiggin (1913): “The little feller, now, is smart’s a whip, an’ could talk the tail off a brass monkey”; and from The Ivory Trail, by Talbot Mundy (1919): “He has the gall of a brass monkey”. Even when weather was involved, it was often heat rather than cold that was meant, as in the oldest example known, from Herman Melville’s Omoo (1850): “It was so excessively hot in this still, brooding valley, shut out from the Trades, and only open toward the leeward side of the island, that labor in the sun was out of the question. To use a hyperbolical phrase of Shorty’s, ‘It was ’ot enough to melt the nose h’off a brass monkey.’ ”

It seems much more likely that the image here is of a real brass monkey, or more probably still a set of them. Do you remember those sculptured groups of three wise monkeys, “Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil”? Though the term three wise monkeys isn’t recorded earlier than the start of the twentieth century, the images themselves were known much earlier. It’s more than likely the term came from them, as an image of something solid and inert that could only be affected by extremes.

This article stolen from World Wide Words.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And The Participation Prizes Go To ... one from RRR, but to a few friends. Congrats to the winners. Seriously, these prizes won't make you go faster. Probably slower.

Monday, November 23, 2009

July 24-25, 2010—Save The Date

Mark the dates on your calendar and tell the boss you might not make it in on the following Monday. The independent trinity (RRR, FGBC, and Birch) has something special in store for you.

At this time next year, you'll look back and remember July 24-25 as one of the highlights of your summer, if not the highlight of your summer.

Put it in your calendar now. Do it. Yep...right now.


"I Carry A Big Stick..."

Something to ponder on a Monday morning. These guys are, um, exactly what they are.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vimy Ridge Report

Aside from the 1.27 hours that Michelle joined us, there were only three RRR members out last night for the 6-hour Vimy Ridge race. FGBC had a much larger turnout. I'm not sure how many, but probably 3 or 4 times our numbers. Thankfully Dallas showed up so we didn't feel so outnumbered, but we're used to rising to the occasion, using our superior bike skills to counter their numbers.

The long and short of it—each club raced to 50 laps, with each member completing 3 circuits before handing off to the next rider. On the strength of Mike's strong start, RRR gained a half-lap lead which was more-or-less being held until Brad, unfortunately, went down hard. He somehow threw the chain on the RRR bike and it took him some time to get rolling again. After that, it was the dark side with the approx. half lap advantage. They reached 50 first and then it was time for a break. The primes were to be awarded and there was chili and beer to be consumed. (Where did Dallas go?)

Mike won the prime for the fastest lap. We had little doubt he'd be bringing Jack home that night. The FGBC emptied the keg of Lil' Scrapper to indulge in their prime for the first to reach 50 laps—a yard of ale.

I slipped out to complete an additional 5 laps whilst others remembered all the good times on two wheels in 2009—the Back 40 (and the glorious Butter Belt), The Spring Ride, the WhitesHELL enduro, Menno Cross—and all that's instore for 2010—the Nordic Cross 24-hour race, the 24 Hours of Falcon Ridge, the Back 40, cyclocross season...

In the end, the FGBC has dilusionally claimed the FGD Challenge on the basis of some obscure race rule. I'm not sure how that applies if both clubs had representation at the conclusion of the 6 hours marking the official race, or if that even comes into play with the addtional laps to RRR's credit. Regardless, it would only be accurate to say, however cliche, that the FGD Challenge was smashing success, and because we made it what it was, we're all winners.

* oh, puke *

Tom K from the trainingcoop has a 3rd party review and a few photos here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Showdown at Vimy Ridge: The 2009 FGD Challenge Finale

If you wonder why it's been quiet on the blog as of late, I've been a little pre-occupied with rehabing in time for Saturday's FGD Challenge wind-up at Vimy Ridge. Well, that and reacquainting myself with old faces, and other things...

Anyway, everything's on the line. Winner take all. Bravado, bragging rights, and most importantly, beer.

Pack up the lawn chairs. Charge up the camera. Buy some Pepto. It's going to be both epic (not Brad's shitty kind of epic), and the social event of the year (as Brad puts it).

I'd post one more FGD Challenge scoreboard update, but at this juncture, what's the point? In two more sleeps the final results will be known. Instead, I'll post the poster.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winter Training goes Virtual

Ever since the Nintendo Wii revolutionized video gaming by combining actual movement with video gaming I've wondered how long it would be until cycling got into the action. The future is now. I met a Belgian teacher from Riyadh who told me about the latest Virtual Racing trainer offered by Tacx. Check out the advert video down below to see all that it has to offer. I think it runs about 1200$, but found it for 1100USD on Ebay. Considering that a high end Cycleops trainer costs 500 bucks, 1200 isn't totally out of it? Heck, 1200$ just about covers one season of fuel and trail pass costs for a hardcore ski-dooer. Not that I'd actually know, mind you. Or what do you think? Is an old-school, tech free trainer and a box full of Carmichael dvds a better investment? (I'm fully expecting some retro-grouch hardcore year round bike commuter type to comment on how real men train in the winter the old fashioned, way - outdoors. But, I'll risk Brad's wrath with this post anyway)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Last Race of the Year Report

I came and raced hard
I sucked worse than I could guess
Happy for shut eye

I had trouble sleeping on Saturday night—Sunday's race would be my first race since the Aug. 20 TTT (wow, has it really been that long?). How would I do? I wasn't really too sure, but I figured I'd go out hard and see where I wind up. Hopefully I wouldn't blow up before the bell lap.

Sadly, this start line photo documents my time at the at the front of the pack. I went out had and stayed in touch with the lead group through the first 2/3 of lap 1 and then... f-a-d-e. Subsequent laps became a tough slog and I was passed and gapped by one rider after another. I had forgotten how much it hurts to race. It's a different kind of hurt, though, when you're fit. With Sunday's kind of hurt, there's no payback, except for the puking in the mouth part.

With 3 laps to go I started to feel a bit better and managed to catch and gap Cousin Thomas. That felt good. I was feeling like I was up for a strong finish, relatively speaking, when I reached the stair climb. Ungraceful ly as always (just ask Jonny G), I dismounted and limped up the stairs. Upon somewhat successfully managing the remount mount, put all my might into a power stroke to get up to speed. Instead of lurching forward, however, the bike hardly moved, protesting with a metal on metal squeal. Riding Mike's bike, my immediate reaction was "Oh, no! I broke something!". Luckily nothing was broken—I had merely kicked the rear right canti into the rim with my size 13s (I've often questioned the practicality of those cantis that stick out so far). As I fiddled to free the rear wheel and reset the brake pad, Cousin Thomas passed me. I couldn't catch him depsite my best efforts to reel him in before the end of the race.

All's well that ends well. I rode hard, and can now fully appreciate how out of shape I really am (and how quickly one can lose it). One unnamed team-mate consoled me: "Well, what do you expect after 10 weeks of sitting around drinking Guinness and eating cupcakes? At least you didn't get beaten by a girl, which is more than a few of those guys can say." Ouch.

I guess I'd better get focused on training—just need to lay off the brew and baked goods. Or not.

Brad was RRR's strongest rider of the day, and I think that's pretty cool. All season he has gotten the better of riders half his age. Today he finished in 4th place.

A mental lapse is all it takes to determine if you make the podium or not. That's what makes this discipline so exciting; you just never know what's going to happen. As I've heard said about cyclocross, "there are 50 things you need to do right to win, and that means there are 50 things that can go wrong." You can probably extend that list to 51 if there's a poker derby integrated into the race. That seemed to be Brad's downfall on Sunday.

He was up at the front with the race leaders, and looking strong as he always does. Today was the day he and Cousin Adam were racing for rights to a 6 of Belgium brew, so he had extra incentive to push the limits. According to Brad, he was able to respond to the little jumps in the lead bunch without any difficulty, but he would lose some ground after the barriers where he'd slow down to grab a card for the in-race poker derby. Noticing they'd gap him a bit on every lap, Brad didn't panic. Figuring he'd catch them and attack at the end when they'd have to stop and collect their cards all their cards. It wasn't until it was too late that he realized those ahead of him had no intention of playing cards—the poker derby wasn't a requirement (DOH!). Knowing he didn't play his cards right, the Joker cruised to finish just 43 seconds back of 3rd place. Makes you wonder what might have happened if Brad did't have a senior moment. Still, I'd be happy with that result.

Artur, who probably shouldn't have been out last weekend at the Provincials, but home in bed with a severe head cold was back and ready to test himself again. As with Brad, I didn't see too much of Artur after the first lap except on the out-and-back portion on the open field. After a couple of laps of cheering each other on as we passed each other, it was clear that he was completing his laps faster than I was though still not fully recoverd from the previous weekend.

Artur rounded out the top five, finishing just seconds behind Brad. A pretty good showing which actually works out well if you consider Artur's B Race finishes. Fifth at Bruce/Bourkvale, first at Supercross, Southern Cross, and Cross-Tastic, and fifth at Kildonan Park—it's a very symetrical 5-1-1-1-5 exceptional season debut for a guy never ridden competitively before.

A warning to Artur's competitors: Artur is now the proud owner of a cyclocross bike, so he'll be back again next year.

Michelle finished the season with another strong performance. Seeing her race has been fun to watch. After her first compeitive cycling experience at the Menno Cross race, she's used each event to get ride smarter, stronger, and faster. Her inital races consisted of full-stop dismounts, but she practiced her technique and fisished the season looking like a wiley veteran.

I had to push as hard as I could to stay ahead of Michelle. At the end I was suffereing and she was starting to catch me. I probably would have sat up and simpled ridden the final lap or two after my mechanical if it wasn't for Michelle breathing down my neck. When we'd pass each other in the open field her smile was simply disturbing. Here I was riding in the red zone and she's smiling? C'mon!

Michelle, who claims to be in mourning with the end of the 2009 race calendar, is already anticipating next season as she makes room in her garage for a XC racer. Now that she's infected with the BRB (bike racing bug), we look forward to Michelle donning RRR colours and becoming a regular in 2010.


Thanks go out to Hal, OCC gang, and all the volunteers that made the day a successful conclusion to the 2009 season. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Thanks also to David Lipnowski for coming out and capturing all the riders on film and sharing on your blog. You make us look good, just like professional cyclists.

The Last Race of the Year—Results

Get 'em here, hot off the press.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Morning Haiku

I'm so excited
What does it mean to suffer
Today is the day

The plan: Do the B Race and go hard; hopefully I won't blow up before the bell lap after being off the bike for approx. 10 weeks. I'm feeling a little nervous about negotiating the barriers. Acutally, I'm just nervious.

Can't wait!

A few more from Mike:

Words of beauty weaved
Pretty French bikes between legs
Yoda proud would be

French Alps roads amaze
Wine, cheese, croissants fantastic
Why do I live here?

Cross sucks ride to win
Puke and the prize will be won
Bring the dark side down

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Haikus Keep Coming In

Here's one from Brad decicated to our FGBC rivals, especially to Cousin Adam. Brad and Adam's side-bet for 6 Belgium brews will finally come to a conclusion on Sunday.

End of the Season Race

The last race is neigh
Steep hills, mud, and sand be gone
A day filled with sun

Certain RRR riders have put in a lot of effort to prepare for this race. Artur shaved his beard for improved areodynamics, and Michelle's been practicing her haikus. Here's her latest:

Terror revulsion
Silence, eyes bulging, mouths gape
My thighs in lycra

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FGD Challenge—Post-Provincial CX

We're getting close to the end. I figure one, maybe two more FGD Challenge updates to go before 2009's contest is done. Unofficially, however, the rivalry will live on whenever a RRR and FGBC rider are on the same road, trail, or track.

Sunday's race saw the dark side increase their lead by another 30 points. Again, had another RRR rider or two been at the race, it could have gone our way. Overall, the FGBC's lead is extended to 474.

Calling all RRR riders: Sunday's race will be the last MCA event counting towards the FGD Challenge. With at least one key member of the FGBC team out of Province that day, we might be able to match their numbers and eek out a victory to finish the MCA the season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

CX #8—Something For All The Poker Playing, Poetry Writing Racers Out There

While we still revel in the fun of yesterday's Provincial race, Hal and the Olympia Club are rolling out the details of the year's final race. This one looks like fun. You don't want to miss it. I won't.

Full details, inlucding the requisite paperework, can be found here.

Provincial Cycolcross Race — Results and Other Goodies

The results are here.

Photos and video clips here courtesy of the

Check back...more will be added as available.

There Are Champions Among Us

Wet and cool—the perfect conditions for the Provincial cyclocross race at Woodhaven Park. The course, in one word was prodigious. It included a bit of everything, and then some. Heart-bursting hills, cold and sloppy mud, sand, a hockey rink, the vertigo-inducing whorl, a bit more mud, and soup. While it probably wasn’t the biggest turnout of the year, those that come out were ready to prove themselves in a battle with their peers. Five RRR members come out to test their mettle.

Overall, it was a good day for RRR. After the citizen and kids worked in the course a little, Michelle, Brad, Larry, and Mike (the old ones) took part in what was loosely termed the B Race. This heat featured the greatest number of racers and was probably the most exciting to watch as a spectator—there was always someone racing by.

Michelle, who had been doing her homework in preparation for the Provincial test, rode strong and had good form. Her diligent preparations clearly paid off as she beat the Fraggle, which as we know, is a rare occurrence. Despite being a newb, she brought home the gold. Expectations are high for 2010, but given her aptitude for withstanding soul-sucking conditions, we have no doubt she’ll make a valiant effort to earn another little gold bison. Well done!

Larry, aka the Little Spaniard, despite his personal convictions, showed up to debut his new Lapierre cx ride. Peter is a very sweet ride, but would it be too much bike for Larry? Would it surrender to his conservative riding characteristics and tendency to ride the right side of the course? Well, from the smile on Larry’s face every time he saw the camera, he was enjoying the photo op as much as his favourite Presidential candidate. Larry fought hard and finished just outside the top 10 in his category. A little less grinnig and a little more gritting (see video clip belwo) may have provided the je ne sait quoi to tackle Dave P. Can't say I blame him though. I'd be wearing a big grin if I owned that bike.

Mike, aka Earl, fared better on his also new cx steed. Cracking the top 5 in the same group, he looked less enthused by the camera with that look get gets when he’s just waiting to cross the finish line to commence his post-race ritual. I’m not sure what happened after his finish, but a top 5 result in what was arguably the most competitive category is something to be proud of.

Brad, RRR’s eldest dignitary, is a stud. He showed us again how strong he is with the steely attitude only a Surly man like Brad can pull off. He went out hard and never relented. He didn’t seem to care for the camera, either. The focus from behind those Ray Bans was nothing short of terrifying. The camera could not protect me from his impaling stare. Luckily, after a bowl of split pea and ham soup, he was back to his old self again…happy to adorn himself with a little shiny silver bison. Well done, Brad.

In the next heat, the A Race, Artur lined up not sure what to expect. He’s done really well in the B Races in the past few weeks, but this would be different—a longer race with some quick wheels to mark. As Michelle, Artur had been doing some homework during the week leading up, maybe too much. You can’t catch a cold from the cold, perhaps, but riding in the rain isn’t a good idea when you’re already sick. Artur slogged through to finish the race despite completely tanking, cold and wet, after a lap or two. I’m not sure if anyone enjoyed the hot soup as much as Artur after the race was finally over.

Thanks goes out to Hal, Ian, and their band of merry volunteers, several of whom put in many hours, for putting on another memorable race.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Team Car?

I acquired a 2010 VW Scirocco yesterday and already have it decaled-up with "the logo". Looks good. Just need a roof rack now.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just Because

Just cause it made me laugh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CX Provinicials - Nov. 1, Woodhaven Park

Confused about how the B and A races work when you're racing against others in your age group? The explanation is here, along with the riders sorted by age category. It was nice of Hal to clear me for racing; too bad he's not my Doctor.

Additional Photos and Video Footage

Check out the Cross-Tastic site for more video, pictures, and updated results. Based on the buzz still going on about this race, this is one to not be missed in 2010.

Monday, October 26, 2009

CrossTastic Barrier Footage

I think this video clip proves Brad has mastered the barriers, like a gazelle! You've come a long way, baby. Thanks to Don S for the colour commentary

Dave had to fight off Michelle all day. I guess there really is something to the "AXE EFFECT"

Vic was looking good...but that was already pointed out some time ago.

Charlene: haberdasher, barrier crasher master.


The results are in and some of the photos have been developed. We kicked B Race ass again, but not so much in the A Race despite Mike's sprint-to-the-line-so-hard-you-puke finish. More to come.

More photos here.

Ooo...a stealy glare from the competition

Brad's dons his belligerent German alter ego to scare his rivals

Michelle running away with the women's B Race

Artur shakes Jeremy after Jeremy's barrier bungle

Big Mike attempts to SMASH Little Luc (courtesy of Garry Stewart)

Even in the Blue and Gold, Dave's never looked so good

Michelle takes the B Race and then the day's first door prize

Brad and his new donger, er, bell

Sorry DNF'd before I could get a photo of you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tomorrow: Pure, Sweet Exhilaration

Today's forecast calls for a chance of rain. Even a little bit of moisture would make CrossTastic even more tastic-er. It's going to be a great day.

The offical race site has the registration and waiver forms ready for download, so do what you got to do and get in an extra pre-race lap. Be sure to check the race site later today for a map and last-minute updates.

Will Adam be there to finally contest the Belgium 6-pack that's on the line with Brad, or will be be MIA for a 3rd race in a row? The rivalry between Michelle and Charlene is getting more dramatic with each race. Who'll cross the line first? You got to be there to find out.

Photo: The Red River Valley Echo

Thursday, October 22, 2009

FGD Challenge Update—Post-Southern Cross

Despite fielding 6 riders in Altona, 3 podium finishes, and adding 109 points to our total, FGBC managed to extend their overall lead in the FGD Challenge.

"How?" you ask? Well, in one word "volume". More on this in a bit.

FGBC sported 12 riders and one-upped our podium results with 4 top-three finishes. Their earnings for the day towards the FGD Challenge were 216 points—virtually doubling our score.

There is a silver lining for RRR, however. Once again RRR's riders contributed more on average towards the FGD Challenge than our FGBC counterparts. In Sunday's race each RRR rider earned an average of 18.167 points... FGBC only earned an average of 18 points per rider. See? Without their numbers, we'd clearly be putting on the hurt.

It's all good, though. We're still having fun and that's what it's really all about.

On a side note, Artur and Michelle have ponied up to upgrade their citizen licenses for the last few races of the year. How cool is that? It's great to see new racers catch the bug. The race organizers' efforts and the citzen license "promotion" are already paying off.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There Will Be Mud, Sweat, Tears, Exhilaration, and PRIZES!

The quality of this year's cyclocross races has been impressive. FOG seems to be on top of things with their CrossTastic race. They're very organized with their full-fledged poster campaign, website, staging, and prizes (oh, the prizes—those $450 brakes will make someone happy).

Check out all the CrossTastic information here. And just for Larry, a map showing Whittier Park can be found here.

I guess the only remaining question is, "will there be beer?".