Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring Training update

Bruxelles was a 'training race'. That's why I let the group go and stuck to my plan. That took a lot of discipline. It's not that I'm slow or anything.
Rode to work today in the drizzle. I rode my commuter because it has fenders and a rack. The plan is to stop by the Liquor Mart on the way home, strap a few cases of beer to the rack and head north on Henderson to do some intervals in the rain. This will be followed by beer and nacho intervals. HTFU!
Tomorrow, heavy squats and some work around the house.
I can't race Sunday because of family obligations, but I will get out for 3 hours of power intervals at 93.7% of maximum.
I plan a peak for Brandon Hills. All you other Sport Class slobs have been warned.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On The Bike Pee

This is something I've contemplated, but have never attempted. The likely outcome associated with failure to successfully complete this "task" has been enough to make me stop and take care of things in a more traditional manner.

This step-by-step guide makes it sound simple—simple enough that I might try it one day. Maybe. On a dare. Maybe.

Monday, April 26, 2010

RRR's EcoAdventurers

Sunday, April 25th turned out to be an even better day for RRR than originally reported. Michelle and Artur competed in Fort Whyte's EcoAdventure Race which consisted of paddling (kayak), running, cycling, and orienteering.

Michelle, despite getting lost before crashing in a bike-tangled mess with Artur, won the woman's solo event. An impressive finish. Almost impressive as the fresh road rash.

We can't wait for Michelle and Artur to focus on bike racing again after competing in July's Canadian Death Race. Just make sure you don't wipe out one-too-many times, okay?

Bruxelles: A Classic

Hats off to Hal and Ian for putting on a stellar event. Being the first race of the year, the bar has been set very high. The community of Bruxelle’s involvement and support really added to the whole atmosphere of what a spring classic should be. The only thing missing was the inclement weather, but I for one was happy to be riding in 17 and sunny conditions.

Driving out to Bruxelles with Brad, there was on-going banter about this and that, but as we neared the Pembina Valley, the truck cab became quite. The rolling hills looming in the distance only grew more impressive as we neared town. As two non-climbers, we knew we were in for a long day. Ian promised over 1,000 ft of climbing and 10 percent grades. “Exactly how steep is a 10 percent grade?”—Brad’s truck was already whining and the hill we were on paled in comparison to the one on the horizon.

After a blessing from the local priest, the racing began with the Cat 3s followed by the Cat 4s. We were off! Being my first road race, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thankfully I recognized most of the faces in my group. Jonny G and Adam were among them; in the name of the challenge those were the ones that I was most concerned with.

After the neutral start out of town the pace wasn’t too bad. After a few weekend s of riding lots of gravel, I felt fairly comfortable at this stage of the race. The group was still mostly together, trying to take advantage of drafts as the road conditions would allow. No major hills yet. All’s good.

Then we happened up on the Knoppenberg (I think that’s what it was called), the first serious hill of the day. The group started to splinter at this point, I think. Prince Dan road away from everyone while the rest of us tried to maintain the pace, but not blow ourselves up either. Dan held up and about 5 of us regrouped, but before long we turned south and faced the Heartbreaker. Short on the heels of the Knoppenberg, the Heartbreaker lived up to its name. This one really got the BPMs up in a hurry. That was pretty much the last the group saw of Dan for the day.

I knew Dan would be the man to beat with all the promised climbing, and that I would never hang on to him. The rest of the circuit held a few smaller climbs, but nothing too daunting. Heartbreaker was followed up by another smaller climb where I managed to gap the others. It took some work to get there, but now I found myself in a pretty good spot.

Looking back over my shoulder at the beginning of lap 2, I could see Carl from BBC. He wasn’t catching me at this point, but I wasn’t dropping him either. I mashed hard and tried to take advantage of my bulk on the downhill parts, hoping to slowing open the gap. Every time I looked over my shoulder he was still there. And then, about a third into the last lap the rollers started. I tried to attack them, but efforts were catching up with me. The legs were on the verge of cramping when I got out of the saddle. I was okay on the flats, but this is the part of the course where the hills start to come in waves, and Knoppeberg and Heartbreaker were yet to be summited.

I caught up to Tristan, who was not having one of his best days, and we rode together ever so briefly before Carl caught on. Crap. The three of us rode together for a bit; it was nice to catch a draft and a chance to get in some water as were about to hit the Knoppenberg. I b-a-r-e-l-y managed to stay with them on that climb. I tried not to let it show how much I was hurting. About two minutes later we turned and started our ascension up the Heartbreaker. Again, the Heartbreaker lived up to its name. Not because of the pounding in my chest, but because Tristan and Carl left me in their dust. I’d be hard pressed to reel them in before the end of the race now.

After recovering from the climb I started to feel better again knowing the rest of the course wasn’t going to hurt nearly as much. I think I was making some time on the two ahead of me, but with only 2 or 3 kms to go, I knew I had run out of time. I pressed on, nonetheless—there was a certain black-clad rider with a bright blue helmet within eye-shot and I certainly wasn’t going to let him pass me. Not today, anyway…points are on the line.

Good times and post-exercise beverages were had in the community hall afterward. Racers were treated to filling portions of home-cooked food and entertained with traditional Belgian dancing. An awesome end to the day.

It was a hard race, not to dissimilar from Reach the Beach in terms of effort (half the distance for us Cat 4ers, but just as tiring) with lots of grinding to wear you down. I think a return trip to the beautiful country-side of Bruxelles might be in order to prepare of the mountain passes of July.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

It All Kicks Off This Weekend

The 2010 season is officially here, meaning the RRR/FGBC Challenge is about to heat up. Rules for the challenge are still being ironed out—those details will take care of themselves...for now we just need to focus on the next 10 days.

Sunday's Spring Classic in Burxelles, Het Grote Ras, promises lot of hurt and fun, Belgian style.

Details here and here

Next on the schedule is the May 2nd annual mountain bike season opener at Grand Beach.

Details here

Also on May 2nd is FOG's All Comers Time Trial at Birds Hill Park. As the race's name implies, all are welcome. No MCA license is required as the FOG groupetto has got your back, insurance-wise at least. This is a perfect opportunity for those RRRers who have been focused on the TT discipline...especially if you're a girl. Lots of points for RRR can be earned here.

Details can be found here and here

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sweet Classic Redemption

After falling victim one way or another to Brad's spring classic, both Brad and I were anxious to revisit last Sunday's course and be redeemed for our Rated RRR transgressions. And pull a few marking ribbons off strategic signposts along the way. The Cricket tagged along to get a few extra kms into his legs and helped us enjoy the beautiful day. Unlike last Sunday, there was lots of sun. Just as last Sunday, there was wind (though not nearly the beast it was to overcome last week).

Kind of like watching Sesame Street

The grotto is so last week, so we took the time in Cooks Creek to stop and pay our respects at the Cooks Creek Heritage Museum.

This is a holy place - you can see it radiating from above

St. Michael the Archangel triumphing over evil

Fun on two wheels with friends. You can't beat it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

Sun? Check.

New bikes? Check.

Ice cream? Check.

This summer's going to be the best yet!

We also ran into Luke who was out for a ride with his boy, too, on yet another new bike. Luke won the prize for the newest bike of the day. He just picked up his new KM this morning. Sweet steed, Luke - congrats.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That Was Fun...Let's Do It Again

A few of us will be heading out on Sunday afternoon to relive the highs and lows of last weekend's gravel road ride. Actually, this time it'll be a little different as this ride will serve a dual purpose—getting in some miles, and taking down the the marking ribbon used to identify intersections of consequence along the course.

If you're down with more gravel and periodic stops along the way, you're welcome to join us. We'll head out shortly after 2:00 from Brad's place. Let us know if you're coming by way of comments below (so we'll know if we should wait for you...or not).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lost and Found

Someone left a pair of very well used Smith Slider sunglasses (I think that's what they are) in my garage Sunday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

RRR Classic—An Idiot's Recap

I got to Brad's just in time to get changed and head out after gorging myself on ketchup chips and Oreo ice cream cake at Ben's birthday party (love ya, little buddy), so it was bit of frantic start to the event. Not the best way to kick off a gravel grinder, but it is what it is, and I was happy to be out and get some miles into my legs in preparation for July.

It was good to see a good number turn up for ride, including a few beyond the usual faces—good to see you out JP, Terry, Steve. The controlled start from the Sun Valley neighborhood to "The Ditch" afforded us some time to chit-chat before things got cranked up a notch. Unfortunately, attrition hit early on as the number of "POP-hisses" started almost immediately as we hit the gravel on Oasis and Hazelridge Roads.

we saw several dogs, but only 1 gave chase

I took the opportunity early on to get to the front of the quickly dwindling group in order to ride the best lines on the gravel. Tucking in behind some one could easily wind you up riding just a few inches off the bald/smooth section and onto rocks and ruts, which will only lead to annoying pop-hiss sound. I managed to stay at the front for most the of gravel sections, tucking in once behind Chris when he wanted to up the pace to make sure Eppstein was permanently dropped after falling off the group a bit. I think at this point we were down to a group of only 6—Chris, G, Adam, Cricket, Luke, and me. Yes, I felt rather isolated among all the black; I know exactly how Boonen felt with no team mates around him at P-R.

an angel of the Church of the Immaculate Conception keeping watch

After meeting up with Mike and Lorno, we started to form an echelon to combat the wind, which was foretasted to only be 5km from the NW, but was gusting 24-30 kms. This worked rather well and continued on until we hit the town of Cooks Creek, home of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and moved on to Sapton Road and the day’s biggest (only) climb.

As my turn at the front coincided with the group’s progression to the start of the climb, I jumped on the pedals to claim top KOM points for the day. I never had any intentions of this move being a break away, but something to do for my own kicks, and to see if anyone would follow me. I didn’t look back, but apparently Adam wasn’t far behind. Having never done a lot of riding with Adam, I’ve come to realize how strong he is on the bike despite not being able to beat those 12-year old kids in the crit series.

After enjoying the downhill on hwy 206 as we headed north towards hwy 44, I eased up a bit to take a look behind and see who was on my wheel. I could see by the shadows that there were at least two bikes behind me. There was Adam, Chris and G. Big Luke, on his cx knobbies was gone; he had been gapped back on the Sapton hill. I figured I'd drop to the back and draft for a bit behind G. We started to chat and I took a swig from my bottle and the next thing you know, they were gone. Adam punched the pace at the moment I disengaged my brain. I didn't panic too much at that moment, but quickly realized I should have. I didn't react fast enough or with enough urgency when I did try to catch on. They slowly pulled away on me just before we turned on to Hwy 44, directly into the stiff NW wind. I know exactly how Boonen felt at P-R.

Hwy 44 was a very dark leg of the course for me. I found myself soloing into the wind, all because of a rookie mistake. Stoopid! Mentally—because of my mistake, and physically—because of the wind, I was really hurting. I managed to keep the 4 ahead of me in sight until just after the hwy 59 overpass, which was somewhat motivating, but as far as I was concerned, getting to Lockport to get some reprieve from the wind couldn't come soon enough.

Eventually I got to make the left-hand turn onto Henderson and get out of the direct affect of the wind. I took this as a chance to get in some fluids and eat a banana. I soon started to feel like a new man. According to my GPS, I raised my avg. speed by about 7km for the rest of the ride vs. that forgettable stretch along Hwy 44.

As it turns out, I was the last of the 5 to ride the complete course. Chris wheel-sucked Adam all the back back to NK before making his move to be the first one back to Brad's. Well done...I guess. Chris' recount differs somewhat.

Apparently, chips and Oreo ice cream cake aren't as bad of a pre-ride meal as I had thought. Overall it was great training ride for this early in the season, definitely something to build from. I just I could have kilometer 37 back.

Kudos to Brad who put a lot of thought into the course to make it challenging without being overly immoderate. The course was as well marked as any official event (probably better than most)—he spent 2 hours driving the course that morning to make sure everyone could find their way. It's really a shame that after all the effort and anticipation, the guy that did all the work couldn't enjoy the ride for what it was supposed to be. It would have been nice to have had you in the mix, Brad. Next time!

It was also nice to see Mike and Lorno out. It would have been better if they were on their bikes, but their encouragement from the support vehicle was a very nice touch.

Thanks Brad! You kicked the season off on a high note.

Spring Classic Ride and Dogfest

A great turnout: KK, Cousin Adam, Dr. Divisive, The Cricket, G, Tenacious V, Juan Eppstein, JP, Terry, Steve, Darryl, Penner, Luke and me. Cousin Thomas rode over to give us his blessing before we left, and Colin and Kevin showed up for the post ride socializing. We didn’t quite get the promised 12 degrees, but it was mostly sunny and dry, and the gravel sections were all in pretty good shape.

We rolled out about 3:30 and I flatted shortly after crossing the floodway. Terry flatted a few hundred meters behind, and Darryl flatted about 15 kilometres farther up the road. Even though tubes were patched and or replaced, for two of us, that was the end of riding. Stupid flats.

Thanks to Steve and Terry for stopping to help me right after fixing your own flat. And thanks to Colin for the lift home, and to Mike and Lorne for driving the course, handing out Cokes and driving Darryl back. Darryl and I ended up at my house around the same time, so at least I wasn't alone in my misery.

I hear the riding was pretty fun. I’m sorry to have missed it. Some rode all of the course, some rode most, some did a little creative navigating; it doesn’t matter. The riding is only the appetizer for the fire and dogs anyway. Good times were had post ride around the fire.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made the day a success.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Classic and Dogfest

Sunday April 11th

*Time Change*
3:00 PM

75 kilometers
Lots of gravel

A celebration of the country roads north east of Winnipeg, the first long rides of the year, the arrival of spring, food, friends, and our favorite beverages. All things that are classic. I will supply dogs, buns and condiments, you can bring any drinks you want. You can even bring me drinks if you want. Post ride socializing around the fire.