Saturday, December 1, 2012

FGBC saturday ride

Good times to be had. Some of the best winter-trail riding conditions I can remember. 37 sweet kilometers of singletrack, snowmobile pack, and road.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hallowween at the Camp CX Video

This is why I love Cyclocross in Manitoba! Can't believe the season is practically over already... boo hoo...

Check out this fantastic vid here!

Credit: Timothy Dueck

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's starting to look a lot like cyclocross!

You can tell you've been racing by the mud, by the mud, you can tell that you've been racing by the mud. Yup. It's cyclocross season again (already half over) and every week represents the cycles of pain, triumph, failure, recovery, anticipation, elation, camaraderie, celebration, and socialization. This is my third season racing and I have to admit I find myself looking forward to it all year. When you think about it, the Manitoba season of 8 races amounts to just over 8 hours of actual racing... a far cry from the amount of time I spent mountain bike racing this summer (some events well over 8 hours). However there is something different about the cyclocross season, and the the time spent with friends and family both before and after the races, as well as during event planning, course setup/tear down, is just as awesome (if not more) than the racing itself. What a party. Everybody seems a little more relaxed now that the summer is winding down- maybe that's one thing I love so much about fall- and cyclocross. The pain is a small price to pay for such good times!

Last 2 Photos: Stefan Isfeld

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

24 Hours of Adrenaline 2012 Race Report

Laps Completed: 18 X ~18km
Total distance: ~324km
Total Elevation gained: +/- 28,000 vertical feet
Calories burned: +/- 18,000

This weekend I raced my third 24-hour mountain bike race, the 24 Hours of Adrenaline. The setting was beautiful Canmore, AB at the Nordic Centre (Sight of 1988 Olympic XC Ski and Biathlon events). The previous two 24-hour races had taken place in Manitoba and I'd never actually raced in the mountains before in any capacity so there were definitely some unknown variables. I had planned to arrive close to the event in order to limit any substantial physiological changes due to altitude (based on reading rather than actual experience). My biggest concern was sustained climbing and elevation. In MB we have a number of great MTB destinations but their elevations are generally limited to a couple of hundred feet, which we use repeatedly to achieve our climbing practice! There are a few climbs on the course that are substantially longer than I am used to for sure.

On Thursday I headed up to the Nordic Centre for a pre-lap. My legs felt pretty good and I felt fairly confident with the terrain although I was not used to the amount of speed you can get on some of the descents. This would definitely be something to watch out for during the race. As I was heading down the beginning of FYI, two riders were coming up the opposite direction. I headed left and so did they. I headed right to avoid collision and had to jump a log which would have been ok save for the fact that I hadn't got my line set up properly. Crash. At least I got it on my GoPro! After the lap I spent some time admiring the flyover.


Friday was all about getting the logistics ready. Parking passes, registration, chip timing devices, nutrition, hydration, Pit Row tent and supplies, bikes, etc.

It's amazing how much goes into riding a bike around in circles! Setup went well and we got back to town early to sleep. I had just put the kids to bed when I heard commotion upstairs. I headed up to see what was going on and that's when I heard that a windstorm had ripped through the race site destroying at least thirty percent of the tents including ours. We had borrowed a nice Giro Cycling tent from friends of friends and it was completely destroyed. It was upside down thirty feet away from where we had placed it and it had flown through the air carrying both full-size cinder blocks that were roped to the legs! Thank God no-one was injured.

Lots of the race infrastructure was also disrupted and the race organizers called for a delayed start to allow riders and volunteers to get things back into order in the morning. My wife headed out early to Canadian tire to pick up a light-duty 10x10 tent.

My Pit Manager was my wonderful wife, Vanessa. She has a pretty good idea of what it takes to keep me fed and on my bike- and she is a great support. Chapeau to her for bearing the entire race with me and for keeping so much on top of things. Some of her responsibilities included keeping stats on other competitors, helping with strategy, preparing food, working the the mechanics, and being the resident psychologist and motivational mentor! I also had my kids in the pit for the start and the finish of the race. It was great to see them each lap and they were pumped to hand up food and gels, etc. Love them. They actually had their own race alongside the event called the 24 minutes of adrenaline. They both had a great time!

The Race:

The race began with a 600meter LeMans start at 1:00pm Saturday. The purpose of a running start is to spread out the field of 600 or so enough that there is less carnage off the start. We had to run a loop up a small hill and then through the start/finish area where we transitioned to our bikes. I chose to run in runners as opposed to my cycling shoes and, although the run went well (I don't run typically so I didn't want to go hard), it took me over a minute to get my new shoes on properly... and that lost valuable positioning.

The first part of the lap is a set of steep climbs up to the top of the course and I spent it patiently in a huge line of riders, some that were having obvious difficulty with both the terrain and with the elevation gain. With Lots of riders standing with their bikes and stopping suddenly it was hard to get a pace going. Soon enough things began to string out and I was able to pass a ton of the slower riders and begin to get some clean lines.

The course was both difficult and very rewarding. Beginning and ending with the longest climbs, the middle of the course had great variety from massive rooty sections to rocky descents. There was comparably more double track than single track due to the size of the event and the number of riders- there needs to be ample room to pass. Other trail features included wooden single-track bridges, massive burms around corners in several sections, large whoops, and long rolling downhills cut precariously into the side of the mountain. Here's a couple of shots from the race photographers who somehow sorted through 40000 photos and presented them a mere day after the event!

Overall I was quite happy with my race and felt pretty decent considering the extreme effort I was dishing out. I suffered a substantial crash about 3 hours into the race on a sketchy downhill section ending in a gravel-covered corner where I slid out and scraped my leg. I had been attempting to match the speed of one Sean Taylor on the descent and was out of my league. Speaking of which- the locals can REALLY ride downhill here.. its unreal. I was totally outclassed. I wouldn't doubt I was loosing 4-5 mins to some riders per lap merely due to my relatively meager descending skills. It's fantastic to see professional riders doing what they do best! (there were a number of pros out- most competing on teams as opposed to going solo as the amount of expenditure required for a 24 hour race would disable them from their normal capacity for up to 2 months after such an event). During my prelap I perceived about a 75 percent effort and completed the course in 1:02. At top speed I think I could potentially have pushed 54 mins or so for a lap or two but for comparison there were a few of the guys who achieved several laps under 50 minutes. My aim was to keep lap times under 1:20 for the duration, shooting for 1:15 times. My first laps were around 1:05 and I was a little worried that I was going too strong to maintain over the long haul. 24 hour solo racing is ALL about proper pace- go to hard and you are finished.

Nutrition seemed positive and I really enjoyed some of the real food such as cinnamon buns, chicken noodle soup, boiled eggs, and coffee in the middle of the night as opposed to the strict regiment of liquid nutrition that I've tried to stick too in the past. Real food just tasted good darnit!! And sometimes when you are at the limit you just need a pick-me-up. Oh- I forgot to mention Ibuprofen:).

Spent a lot of time riding with some great folks such as Shaun Taylor and Stephanie Wilkinson. Shaun was on his 23rd 24-hour event- has won the Worlds in the singlespeed category as well as being a former winner of the 24 hours of Canmore. Shaun rides for Orbea and Lynksey and, unlike me, gets his bikes for free. I could gain some ground on the climbs but he would shake me like dirt off a rug on the downhills! Sean had had a case of food poisoning a week prior to the race and unfortunately had to give up the gauntlet during the night. Stephanie completed an amazing 14 laps to take third place in Womens solo despite being type-1 diabetic! We were riding together at one point at night when she said that her blood-sugar censor had just gone offline. She said she would just keep on going... I asked her repeatedly if she was absolutely sure she`d be ok... very scary. Glad she finished OK.

The night riding was actually pretty really fun although I found myself fighting off my inner demons. Compared to the previous night races I've done, there were way more riders on course and that made it seem a lot less lonely. At almost all times there was a light visible somewhere in the trees or up the mountain indicating that I was not alone.

I really started hallucinating close to the morning and saw everything from big yellow dogs to Pokemon creatures to sleeping lumberjacks in plaid pants in the forest around me!

As for the other competitors, Paddy H. just kept doing his thing in front but I brought the gap down from 40 minutes to under 20 by the end of the race. In the middle of the night I began to feel as If my pacing would fail and that I would be resigned to 5th or 6th place but as the hours wore on I began to feel new energy as the 3 riders between Patrick and I eventually succumbed to the pain and fatigue. By 9:00 am I was actually sitting in 2nd place but didn`t know it yet. Vanessa had calculated lap times for everyone as much as she could but we found out an hour later that Gary Buxton, who we thought was out front, had actually bonked and was getting help in his pit. Also off Vanessa`s radar until 8am was Dave Franks, whose consistent pacing was inching him closer and closer to me. At one point he was on the same lap a mere 20 minutes behind. All I wanted to do was rest but Vanessa made me get back on and lucky I did or I would have been off the podium in no time. i ended up holding him back 40 minutes off my pace.

The race was not without mechanical issues for me. My front fork had seized by 11:00pm and I no longer had suspension. It was making some crazy noises. I cleaned the stanchions and tri-flo'd the seals to try to get them to loosen up. Although there was a little reprieve for part of the next lap, things were back to bad before long. Thanks to my Uncle Leighton Poidevin (also racing- on a team) for donating his beautiful Santa Cruz Tallboy to me as a backup! After switching the timing chip and adjusting the tire pressure I was off. This was my first time riding a 2x10 drive train and this took some getting used to, although I eventually figured out how to use it to my advantage. A few hours later I completely lost shifting control on the rear shifter. After attempting to fix the issue on the trail, I got it working enough to keep it in a single gear for the remaining `Georgetown`climb back up to finish the lap. Glad that worked. Nothing worse than miss-shifting on a hard uphill. As I got to the pit, we tried to have the bike looked at by the race mechanic (presented by Fox Racing) but he was so tied up with repairs that we would not have gotten in. Fortunately for us there are lots of good people in this event and the mechanic across pit lane (sorry I forgot his name... ) was kind enough to come to our assistance. It turned out that the shifter cable was frayed and tangled in the housing. After cable change, saddle replacement (Leighton`s saddle was hurting my butt) I was off again. It was actually nice to have 10 minutes to sit under a blanket and try to sleep.

To complete the final 2 laps I just had to maintain pace and be consistent- I had no more gas left to increase pace. Although I was making up a little time on Paddy he would pretty much have had to have a mechanical for me to catch him. The rear shifting on the bike was getting suspect again and I had to choose very carefully which gears I used to prevent any possibility of breaking my chain on the climbs... and that was my biggest worry, Especially as I didn`t have any parts for a 10speed chain along on the bike (my bike is 9sp).

Final result? 2nd place! Very satisfied. Especially since I'm a guy who works full time at a computer and has 2 young kids! The kids were there for the start and finish of the race and were very helpful in passing me food to eat as I came through the pit! They actually had a race of their own- the 24 minutes of adrenaline. Both of them did great but most importantly had fun.

I had 2 other family members in the race- Leighton Poidevin (My Uncle) who was racing on a team of five extremely studly locals, and his talented daughter Sara who was racing on a 5-woman team sponsored by Fast and Female. Leighton has won the Canmore event solo twice as well as placing 4th and 8th at Worlds both in Canmore and Australia. Both their teams were able to edge the competition to win their respective categories. However, due to an age-category mis-understanding, Leighton's team was disqualified from the event. As all members of the team have been strong supporters of the event in the past this will no-doubt cause major issues in their relationship with the event in the future. No more comment. Sara is 16 years old and is getting noticed on a national level for her cycling talent! Sara's Team was amazing too considering the youngest rider was 13 YEARS OLD!! Great to see them on the podium!

All in All it was a great time- and I'm finally starting to come back to life after tons of food and sleep.

Monday, July 16, 2012

24 hours of Falcon Ridge 2012

Here's video from the lead lap of the 8-hour event for all those who would like to reminisce.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Red Foxes and Quick (international) Parts Orders

OK- so these are totally unrelated, but one lead to another. First off- I placed an order at Jenson USA the day before yesterday for some much-needed bike parts including a replacement cassette (current cassette is skipping like crazy). I called around locally first and the general consensus was that I would not have a new cassette Within 1.5 weeks, thus not in time for Spring Ride or MTB cup2 at Sandilands. Hmmmm... what to do. surely online shopping from a US store would take just as long? Especially since the only listed international shipping method was USPS... The checkout cart Slated May23rd as the estimated date. This was 1 day in advance of me really needing it. I took the gamble and bought the parts. Result? The box arrived this afternoon. Seriously!! 1.5 days after the order the box was at my door??? Even Fed-Ex Express would be hard pressed (and expensive) to deliver a 1.5X1.5X1.5 box in that time... Wow. Very impressed. However, it leaves me thinking about the state of the postal industry... After installing my new cassette and chain on the MTB, I took the kids to Kids of Mud at Garbage hill. Tested the cassette on some uphills- total improvement. Then, later, I was out for a short night ride at Kilcona Park and i found myself chasing around a large red fox. A very smooth runner with a huge puffy tail that must have been 1.5 feet long. Sweet. Love seeing wildlife while out on the MTB!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Race or To Ride

The problem with racing... and don't get me wrong... I love a good bike race, but in the process of attempting to race, one can most certainly miss out on a ton of fun. This weekend, as I took part in Actif Epica, i was once again reminded of this fact. Due to being in a state of "racing", I was unable to partake in various enjoyments that the race and associated festivals had to offer. Originally I was planning to ride the race with my brother-in-law at a leisurely pace- and we definitely would have eaten (finished) our pea soup, taken baileys hand-ups from Tom, had laughs with volunteers at the checkpoints, and would likely have had a few beers the night before, etc. I was actually looking forward to not racing. So when my com-padre was unable to do the race I automatically defaulted to "race" mode and followed the usual protocols. In retrospect, it was still a great time. I made some new friends in the pace line and completed the race with a feeling of accomplishment- especially relating to relatively choices of clothing, gear, nutrition, and strategy. One of the things I was dreading most was general navigation- I seem to be much more comfortable with three layers of yellow tape in the trees and big black arrows on white signs than with 92 lines of cues on two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper in a zip-lock. I think by the end we missed only about 6 turnoffs, none of which proving to be huge wastes of time except for one diversion down main street in downtown Niverville. To re-hash- I definitely do love the racing part. For sure. But sometimes it's also nice to take it easy- look at the scenery- and take a little more time to get to know and absorb your surroundings. Actif Epica was a fantastic event and would have been great had I done it either way. Thanks again to Ian & Dave the race organizers and to all other volunteers on a very memorable event!

*photo by Kyle Thomas

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Knee Update

Just to let you all know that my knee has healed well and I've been cleared for takeoff by my doctor. I've been back on the bike and am feeling virtually 100%.

The Doc said I was very lucky that the metal shard tore through my tendon vertically as opposed to horizontally- as the fibers run vertically. Had I torn it horizontally, there would have been difficult surgery with the potential of life-long loss of power and consistency in that leg. I am very thankful for this status!

Time to celebrate with some intervals!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Riding and Carnage

In preparation for Actif Epica, a winter fun race coming up this February in Southern MB, Mike and I rode the northern section of the route in order to get a handle on our available gear and to see how we work as a team. The route consists primarily of gravel and dirt roads on a section of the Trans Canada Trail also known as the Crow Wing Trail. We began in Niverville and looked to ride about 50km back to Mike's place in South Osbourne. The temp was a windy but balmy -5 as we started out after getting dropped off in Niverville. Spirits were high and riding pace was much quicker than expected due to a decent tail wind.

Although technically not the ideal weather for training for a race that could get much colder and snowier, we did get some affirmations of our gear choices.

1. We did not over dress. So basically, even though it was as warm as Cuba outside, we were not drenched in sweat.

2. Our navigation seemed to be generally solid despite riding 4 miles out of the way at the very start in search of the trail head!

3. We over-packed. No, maybe not, but at least for these temperatures. Still a good sign considering the alternative.

4. We began with warm water and ended with slightly warm water. Simply put- our water sources were kept warm enough at -5 that there was no major change in temp and no issues with freezing. OK- so -30 will look a bit different- but at least its good to know we are on the right track.

5. We were well stocked with emergency supplies that ended up coming in quite handy.

6. We didn't end up like this deer did.

Windblown Snowpak- ride-able in places

Fun on the drifts!

As we rode the last section of the floodway before St. Anne's road, I slipped on the ice and slid on the ground, tearing a deep hole into my knee. Something had sliced the skin cleanly and it turned out to be a used Co2 cartridge which was frozen to the ground with the punctured end up. Despite the blood I was able to keep focused and get it gauzed and bandaged enough for us to get into the city. After 5 hours at the hospital i had everything cleaned up and had the opportunity to take a few photos of the carnage. Here they are- not for the faint of heart.