Monday, December 13, 2010

Open Letter To Don Cherry, by Duncan at Curbside Cycle

Thanks to mom for forwarding this wonderful reading material written by Duncan at Curbside Cycle -- a commuter-friendly shop in Toronto's Annex.

I'm glad someone said it (and so well, too!) because although I ride bikes, and I'm political (a left-wing kook actually), I don't really like to see the two tangled up together.

Even MACLEANS has picked up the cause ...

I look forward to Don's response ... hoping he takes them up on their very kind offer.


Dear Don Cherry,

We at Curbside Cycle are hoping you will lend an ear, an eye and an open mind.

Long ago American diplomats to China used to judge the prosperity of that country by the amount of cars on the road. Today, any city driver knows that the original ideals of autonomy and freedom that fueled the automotive industry have been replaced with frustration, rage, and gridlock. Prosperity can mean many things, and as drivers sit angrily in their vehicles haltingly crawling through the city streets, quality of life can feel less than prosperous.

You don’t know us, but we are an independent business – the independent business that introduced Toronto to the ultimate object of real prosperity, the Dutch bicycle, which transports its riders with dignity and swish of fashionable flair that looks fantastic with a snappy suit.

Judging by your eclectic wardrobe, by this time, your ears should be perked. We’re probably the people that gave urban Toronto that image of the left-wing latte-sipping bicyclist. Our bicycles are probably not best suited to the suburbanite bicycle hobbyist that voted Ford into power; you see, for us bikes just aren’t political. Like a bed or toaster oven they are so embedded into our lifestyle, they become part of the background.

We aren’t using them to crusade, we are using them to take kids to school, to get to work (happy and refreshed instead of angry), get groceries, and explore this fantastic city of ours.

Mr.Cherry, the fact is that if you live downtown, bicycles are simply the best way to get around. They reduce car congestion, helping those who must drive do so faster and easier. Bicycles make a great deal of fiscal sense, keeping the population fit and healthy and reducing costs all over the map.

The stereotypes you are parroting have changed. Yes, many people who want a change ride a bicycle (you can call them left-wing pinkos but they are fighting for a cause, just as you do in your work with children’s charities), but many other cyclists simply do so because IT MAKES SENSE. They are as politically attached to their bicycles as they are to their toaster ovens. They have Bay Street jobs, watch hockey and some even voted for Rob Ford.

People ride because cars can no longer keep their promise of freedom and autonomy, the bicycle can. You see, we don’t like the gravy train anymore than those folks in “Ford country”, but you may be surprised by how many Ford supporters ride around each day by bicycle. In other words, the stereotype isn’t particularly helpful and certainly doesn’t unify a city in desperate need of a diverse transportation solution.

So we’d like to take a little egg off your face and allow you to (literally) do a bit of backpedalling. We’d like to give you a bicycle. In a blushing shade of ironic pink, this bike will be customized to your own remarkable style. The bike will be a Pashley from the United Kingdom, a company that has been producing real city bikes for 80 years, and the details will be custom painted by Noah Rosen of Velocolour. We’re asking the city to choose their favorite Don Cherry pattern (below) whether it be be a Plaid, a floral, or what-have-you.

And we’d like you to come by, pick it up in person, and go for a latte with us.

Oh, and you can invite your friend Rob, too.

Kind regards,
Curbside Cycle

--> The inspiration for fender paint-job choices (I'm pretty sure plaid is the winner!)

For the Die-Hards ...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Bike!

As you know, I've been struggling (that doesn't even sound like a strong enough word ...) with the decision of what bike to race in 2011 and last night, the process came to a peaceful conclusion.

Against almost all the advice I got, I'll be taking home the Trek Top Fuel 9.8 WSD.

I chose it for six reasons:

1.) It's the bike that started it all ... i.e. my first instinct. Always a good idea to go with your first instinct.

2.) Even though countless members of the riding community (and some even outside) weighed-in in favour of the Superfly, I found myself lookng for more and more opinions. If I'm honest with myself, that tells me I was just trying to get someone to say what I really wanted to hear.

3.) It's the more flexible of the two -- I know I'll be stoked to race it in Ontario, but that it will also hold up to courses in Quebec and trail-riding in BC.

4.) I already know how to fit it properly and I'll be able to continue working on being a better rider without having to play catch-up with myself as I learn the handling quirks of the 29er (and after riding one, I can tell you it would probably be a slow process for me.)

5.) The dual lock-out and corresponding controls for 2011 are badass. Not to mention the other new features for 2011.

6.) It's already in the shop, and the ETA on the Superfly hasn't even been set. I've heard tales of them not arriving until July and I can't risk waiting that long.

In the end, I think the decision was so difficult because the bikes are so totally, and utterly different. The hardtail 29er is for sure faster in the open. I had that thing buzzing its tires faster than my road bike it seemed with even less effort. But -- when it came time to navigate a tight corner while moving slowly, I was feeling very unstable thanks to a higher bottom bracket and a weird -- I don't know how to describe it, but try this -- "pit" at about the 45 degree angle mark. At that point, it felt like the front wheel was about to flip over on itself and I'm told when you're descending it's quite the quirk to get used to. Single track is already one of my limiters so I see no reason to make it harder on myself. As far as open vs singletrack riding, I think the Fuel is pretty much the opposite. Maybe it all equals out in the end ...?

I AM bummed I won't get to race the new SRAM X0 2 x 10. That looks pretty sweet. And racing a hardtail would have been a new and I'm sure rewarding experience as well -- especially one Gary Fisher is claiming to be its lightest ever, 26 or 29. If for some reason the Top Fuel wasn't available, I'd just as gladly take home the Superfly.

I don't want to finish on a note contemplating what could have been, so let me just quote an old friend. He said, [paraphrased] "If you're strong, fit and a good rider, it doesn't really matter what bike you're on."

That said, I am super stoked on my new baby. I already know we'll get along great because her predecessor was such a great match for me and my riding. It's got the new "Mountain Carbon" which promises to be stronger than just plain old carbon fibre. I already mentioned the dual lock outs, but internal cable routing is another perk I should add.

Oh, and it's purple! Yay!

I want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and advice -- although it might not look like it, you definitely helped me arrive at my decision. And I especially want to thank Sweet Pete's for all your continued support!! Couldn't do it without you guys. *love*

Monday, December 6, 2010

CHICO 2011

Ontario Cup sked arrived in my inbox today! Hurray for putting in the missing pieces in my calendar. If you're planning a wedding, cottage weekend or road trip, could you please work around these dates? ;) Just kidding.

1. Mansfield, May 1

2. Woodnewton, May 15

3. Hardwood Hills (Canada Cup/Ontario Cup), June 5*

4. Albion, June 12

5. Buckwallow, July 10

6. Kelso, Aug 7

7. CHAMPS: Highlands Nordic, Sept 11

*Technically, this is a Pulse Racing event, but it's included if you pay Chico for the series up front

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Business and Pleasure! Cycling Camp in Colorado!

If you're like me, a camp that combines the business of training with the pleasure of gravity assisted sliding sports (skiing or snowboarding) is exactly the kind of thing you'd want to see under the Christmas tree.

Aldo and Renee are trusted coaches of mine from seasons past (they also run a camp in Alabama that I've been known to frequent). Not only do they have a wealth of solid, tried and tested cycling knowledge to share with you, they know exactly what the cyclist-in-training is looking for: good food (and lots of it), good routes/rides that help you accomplish your training goals, and comfy cozy accomodations.

They've got all that in spades. Plus, their newest camp in Colorado also happens to be very close to a ski hill, which brings all new meaning to the term "active recovery!!"

Hope you get the chance to train with them!

Friday, November 26, 2010

DANGER in the Don.

I can't even believe this, it's so evil.

Someone has purposefully sabotaged bridges in the Don Valley in order to hurt riders doing their thing. If you, like me, enjoy the skinnies, beware. I hope the person(s) responsible are caught and for their sake, I hope they're caught by the authorities, if you know what I mean.

Canadian Cyclist has more information. From their story:
"Bridge was cut partially through in Four places and appeared undamaged from
above. The fall from this Bridge is Nine to 16 Ft, depending on which side you
fell from!!!"

I ♥ @StevePeat

This morning I checked the email I reserve for "junk" like pharmaceutical marvels, mail-order university degrees and social media updates to find something I considered definitely NOT junk.

My heart raced as I scanned the subject line: StevePeat is now following you on Twitter.

Holy. Shit.

Steve Peat. "Peaty". World Champion. People's Champion. And consistently my favourite part in mountain bike videos that get me through every winter on the lonely trainer. (I can't tell you how it warms my heart to spin along with him at the start of his part in "Seasons".)

I immediately rushed to my twitter profile to see for myself as I began mentally composing what I might tweet to @StevePeat!

That's when the truth of the notification landed with a thud.

Turns out, it wasn't @StevePeat following me. It was @StevePeatDH and I was so excited, I saw what I wanted to see, skipping over those last two crucial letters. I stared at my screen as the realization sunk in. (philosophical sidebar: does someone who has a fastest-man-in-the-world jersey hanging in his closet really follow anyone?)

The silver lining is, although I'm still a total stranger to the greatest downhiller in the world (and I'm not sure him following me on twitter would change that fact all that much ...), he DID put out an app for iphone/ipad/ipod touch. Rad. It's always good news when the sport gets more positive exposure because that means maybe more people will get out there and try it (and then become addicts like the rest of us).

To close, may I suggest that if you're on twitter on this lovely Friday, you #ff @StevePeatDH and of course the man himself, @StevePeat.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More snow ...

[scattered flurries] from felt soul media on Vimeo.

Saw this today on a blog featured on the right nav. Everybody loves a bit with a dog!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Look!

In honour of all the blogs, tweets and facebook posts I've seen welcoming the snowy season, I've decided to take the green, summery theme you've grown to know and love and replace with the more timely theme of winter, mountains and thoughts of skiing/riding (the other kind) that it provokes.

Hope you like the new background, colours and header photo. The photo is a view of Seagrams, in Whistler back country. G took it last season and I love it.

[Gross Photo]

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Headwinds of Lakeshore Boulevard

Just when you think you're a superstar, you turn around and realize you've been riding with a tailwind. Ah, that sinking feeling.

But the croissants were worth it. Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Inspect Her Gadget

So I have a new toy ... and I've filled it up with all kinds of wonderful things. Now it seems like everytime I do a workout I've got some anonymous internet-types (and a few people I actually know) to tell! And in a variety of different mediums!

My boss was kind enough to bring in his "Nike+" gizmos so I can connect with all the runners out there. That fits into my iPod but also spurred me to look up the Nike+ app for iPhone and I found out it does all kinds of neat things ... apparently even Lance Armstrong has been known to show up on your workout (well .. in your earphones) to encourage you before cueing up the next "power song". What?! I'm ready to hit the pavement just to see what Lance says!

Then there's this "iFitness" thing I downloaded that shows you different workouts for the limb/core area of your choice with just one tap of the finger. But you can also log your daily weight and it tells you all about your BMI (which means nothing to me but apparently I'm "normal" anyway).

I also log on to "Daily Mile" (which you can access via the donut on the left nav) to share some workouts and spy on the other runners and cyclists in my life (or at least the five of them also on Daily Mile).

Then there's Garmin connect that goes with my other favourite gadget, my Edge 705.

With all these options for posting, I can see how you might wonder when I'll actually have time to do the training I'll report on.

Sometimes, and I'm sure all of us who spend long hours getting ready for the next season know what I'm talking about ... sometimes you just need a new toy to trick yourself into getting the work done. It's still early for fooling myself, but there's lots of time yet for more apps, more gear, perhaps a new sport and all the other accoutrements of life as an "endor-fiend"*.

*See Gerhard's feature, "Science of the Stoke" in the tech issue of Snowboard Canada to find out more about endor-fiends ... a great subject for a later blog!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


... Check!

Let the snow fly so the Sunday night missions to Blue can commence!

Anybody else have their pass? Early Bird prices have been extended to Nov 7. Still a couple days left.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

Hope everyone is having a great time tricking and treating. Pumpkin carving will commence at our house very soon I'm sure (just waiting for the head pumpkin-carver to get out of bed ...)

Sadly, this is the second Halloween in a row that I've been too sick to do much about. After encouraging signs (read: advanced fooling myself) that I was on the mend, a wedding on Friday night -- with its late night, dancing, chatting and libations -- put me right back to square one with a throat so sore I couldn't speak. Don't worry, once again I won't be touching/contaminating any candy meant for children.

The other thing I was looking forward to this weekend was training. But I had to cancel two glorious road rides and an orientation class at this kettle bell gym down the street called "Ironkore" where "buns of steel are no match for balls of iron". I know the crossfitters get a lot out of their their kettle bell training so I was interested in checking it out. They are very focused on getting their clients off on the right foot with proper technique so you have to take classes before you work your way up to an "open gym membership". It sounds like an awesome workout and you don't even have to wear shoes, which I like. Guess I'll have to take a raincheque. So far, winter training is off to a great start. hrm.

I DID manage to sign up for a gym membership though. I'm officially a Goodlifer now. A colleague of mine at work used to be an aquafit instructor there. When I told her I joined up she welcomed me to "the cult". Cult comment notwithstanding, I like it already and I haven't even done a workout. Their rates are lower than Extreme (my last gym -- not recommended), I can cancel at any time for 99 bucks, OR for five bucks I can put my membership on hold for six months. No enrolment fee, pus, they have a pool and they gave me a sweet bag. OH, and I don't have to start actually paying until January. It all sounds too good to be true to me as well so I'll let you know when it becomes clear which part of all the fine print I didn't understand correctly.

Also aiming to get started on yoga again. There's a Moksha just down at Bloor and Jane and they have a special introductory offer -- $40 for all the yoga you can do in a month. So November/December will have four weeks of intense yoga to a) get my money's worth and b) kick start my return to stretching and flexibility.

Apparently, there's a new yoga place in Port Elgin as well which I'm excited to try out. They've got hot classes, unheated classes, and a couple different yoga disciplines. Even a class called "yoga for regular guys" which is great, because one thing Port Elgin has in abundance is "regular guys". Anyway, it's great to know there's a place in Port for when I go home -- especially because my sister is getting into it as well so I'll have someone to go with.

All in all I'm very excited about all the things going on for winter training ... I can't wait until I can actually start DOING them.

Signing off from the couch, with tea,

Monday, October 25, 2010

OMG, really?

For cying out loud, I think I have strep. Again.

This will be the third time in a year. Not normal.

All the telltale signs are there ... ambushed by swollen glands. Polka dots visible by flashflight. Itchy ears. Overall feeling of uneasiness and dizziness. Headache.

To top it off, I just finished reading Francis Raymond's book, as I mentioned earlier, and he basically says antibiotics are the devil and makes a pretty good case for that statement. I remember reading his words and thinking "that's it. Never again." I didn't think I'd be called out so soon though.

My doctor isn't available to see me until Wednesday so I'm now on a mission to gargle with salt water as much as humanly possible. Add to that green tea, lemons and honey and hopefully I can avoid a course of the dreaded antibiotics.

Although I'm worried about what she's going to say about three throat infections in the space of a year. Tonsillectomy, me no likey.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


If I'm not careful, it's going to be a whole month gone by before I check in here again. So here's a quick note to say hello, and provide an overview of what's been going on in the "off-season".

1) Vacation!!

G and I packed up and headed out on a helluva deal to the Mayan Riviera. No hurricanes, fantastic weather and sunburn free. We tried to relax, but we're just too antsy in our pantsy (it's what I like about us!) and ended up doing all kinds of fun activities, mainly in the ocean with the fishies and the rays and the turtles. I even got out for a dive and saw a pair of enormous barracudas! However, despite the sea life being the most memorable part of our trip, we don't have an underwater camera so I can't share :( Our above-water camera did capture some great memories for us though and you can see those on facebook.

2) Bikes

I still can't decide. Lord help me. I want to have the guts to go with the 29er, but I've never even sat on one before so I'm having difficulty feeling confident pulling the trigger on that one when the other choice is a bike I know I will love. Sweet Pete's has a FS 29er demo in the shop now, so maybe after riding that one it will make more sense to me. I rode one on the streets the other day (also FS) and I was so intimidated walking up to it my resolve was totally shaken. you can fit a whole 26 inch wheel INSIDE a 29er!! It feels like getting on a horse! What to do??

3) Training

... has begun!! Much more motivated this year and much more on track. Look out!! I leave the bike at home except for commuting and weekend rides this time of year, so running is the name of the game. Monday's run was so nice -- sunset burning the edges of the clouds, temperature just right, spotted some wildlife (fox!) and was even on par with last year's pacing. I did wipe out though, which was embarrassing, but thankfully not a disaster or anything.

4) Work

Full speed ahead! Check out to read about our last year. We just had our big Liberal AGM this past weekend and we are good to go for the year leading up to the election. The Premier made a speech that got me choked up no less than four times and I truly wish for every Ontarian to see it too.

Premier McGuinty Keynote Speech - OLP AGM Saturday, October 16, 2010 from Ontario Liberal Party on Vimeo.

5) Reading

I just finished a pile of books (thank you vacation and rainy TTC days!) and would recommend all of them:

Never Be Sick Again, by Raymond Francis.
This one looks at "getting sick" from the perspective of your cells. I know it sounds like dry material, but it has really changed the way I do my grocery shopping, how I feel about those mini-trampolines our parents had in their basements, and even where I leave my blackberry when I go to sleep. Raymond Francis is a researcher with degrees from MIT so it isn't some hippy dippy trippy malarky. Urge everyone to check it out.

Room, by Emma Donoghue
This novel was our book club pick and I read it way too fast on the beach in Mexico -- couldn't put it down. It's written from the perspective of a five year old who lives with his mother in Room. For him, Room is the world. For her, Room is the prison "Old Nick" has kept them in for seven years. It was an amazing story of what a mother can do to protect her son and raises lots of thought provoking questions I can't wait to discuss with the girls!

Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd
I picked this off the shelf because it was skinny. I found out that despite it being skinny, it wasn't always light. In the back the author says that when she finished writing it, she was homesick for "the pink house" and its inhabitants, a sisterhood of love. now that I'm finished reading it I'm with sue. It's one of those books you make friends with. I haven't seen the movie yet, but i'm eager to see what they do with it.

I think that's all I've got for an update ... hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather and riding.

Anyone looking for road riding buddies, please think of me!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Decisions, decisions ...

In order to make the winter shipping date I've got to decide which bike I'm going to race next year, and fast.

Should I go for the bike I KNOW will be awesome (since it's the one I've been on the past two seasons but with a fancier new suit)?

Or should I dabble in the unknown world of hard tails with 29-inch wheels?

They cost the same coincidentally. Comments welcome -- i really need help with this one! Vote on the right.

And thanks for your help!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow ...

It all seems so sudden.

Just a few days ago, we were frolicking in the late season conditions of Hardwood Hills. and now, an empty space on the rack where you used to rest.

Dear bike, how I miss you already.

I remember the first day we met. It was at the shop, and the boys wouldn't let me take you home because you looked too good in the window.

Our first ride, and how fast we bonded.

Our first time off-roading, which was also my first time ever riding in BC. Together we conquered some of Squamish's most amazing singletrack, including the Test of Metal.

It was with you that I first attempted the Tremblant Canada Cup ... which was also my first race in Quebec.

On your back, I had my best season ever with all kinds of podiums, PBs, and just amazing rides.

And lately, we've just managed a great three for three podiums for the end of 2010, including a 100km ride I wasn't even sure I could do -- but we did it, together.

I wouldn't be the rider I am today without you.

We've spent so much time together, playing, working, hanging out. It's hard to imagine a replacement. Will it be as good? Are the best races yet to come?

I hope you'll be happy in your new home. And at the same time I feel like a loser for suggesting you'd even know the difference.

Afterall ... you're just a bike.


Race Report: Fall Epic 8

The last of a string of late races, the Fall Epic 8 certainly lived up to its name. Rain makes any ride "epic" in my book. And rain it did.

Our team was four strong, with Tim, and the Kiwis, Bryant and Carlene rounding us out. We agreed that we'd signed up for this thing to have fun, but were quickly in the lead and found out that in fact, winning is fun. So we ended up with a bit more focus than we'd originally set out for, which I think was just as well since that's the sort of juice you need to get through 6-8 hours of constant drizzle.

I got the first go-round, and had a grand ol time slip sliding around on the roots. By the second lap, I'd figured out a little more of the course and conditions and hooked up much better. My third and fourth might as well have been dry because I was comfy as could be.

8 hour courses are so fun -- nothing to dread, all flow, lots of single track and rad people to share the trails with. In the end we were able to hold onto gold, putting an extra lap into second place. Nice end to the season.

Thanks Don Rats, and Kiwis!! We done good, and it was great hanging out with everyone for the day. Isn't that the best part of 8 hours?

Also, huge congrats to Matt Spak for his win and former teammate Evan Sharpe for his silver in the solo category. I can't imagine going around in circles for 8 hours, but on a fun course like that, maybe it's not out of the realm of possibility. Y'all got me thinking ...

And to Martin, (fellow Sweet Pete's racer) and his team *chapeau* for your fine podium result as well!

Holy crap, DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!!!
A nice parting gift from mother nature.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Race Report: Paul's Dirty Enduro

Another first! No, not first place ... first time trying out another one of the great fall mountain bike events Ontario has to offer. Many of you were kind enough to pledge my 100km singletrack race adventure and let me tell you, your donations went to a great cause, a great race, run by a great bunch of volunteers.

We got to Ganaraska just as the sun was peeking out over the horizon. It was a long day in every sense of the word. At the start, I don't think I was totally awake yet. At "go" I had that "oh yeah, there's a race today" thought that usually means I'd be coaxing heavier-than-usual legs through the first few minutes.

Kind of like the marathon last week, after about 20km, I considered myself "in it". But by then, Queen Heather had already put about 5 minutes into me. Hmmm. I decided that since pacing would obviously be the main challenge of the day I'd just concentrate on holding onto second.

The First 40 Kilometres

... were not my favourite. We were using trails shared by dirt bikes which meant that every climb had basically one line: up the middle of a ditch just a little wider than your pedals. So that meant any slip and you were digging your foot into the side. And slipping was hard to avoid since most of the dirt would be better described as wet sand. With mud puddles. I was glad to put those behind me.

Enter Gavin

Another challenge was riding alone in the woods. With so much terrain, and so few riders, there was very little to keep the mind on track. I was day dreaming non-stop. Musing over the porcupine quills I saw scattered on the trail. Scaring up grouse. Freaking out over the complete carpeting of poison ivy on the forest floor. And then a friendly guy came up behind me and we decided to ride together for both our sakes. All of a sudden a whole hour was down but since we were chatting the whole time, it felt like a few minutes, and our average speed had increased. Awesome. Huge thanks to Gavin, otherwise, I don't know if I would have gone out for the second 60km loop.

The Pit Stop

As you've probably gathered, the course was made up of a 40km loop and a 60km loop. Between the loops, we rode right by the car so I had a chance to make a pit stop, change bottles, take off layers, neutralize poison ivy, eat and then get back on the trail. Of course, my timing was impeccable, and I ended up setting out right behind the racers starting the 60km distance. That meant a huge field was between us and the rest of the 100km riders. Oh no. Gavin and I worked together to pass as many as possible on the open sections, opting to hurt a little now to save a little waiting later in the singletrack. It was going great, we were having a good time and moving at a good clip despite the many "slow-trains" we rode as we worked our way through the field. And then ...

Garmin Fail

... I looked down. And my Garmin was GONE. In a race this long, that little gadget was keeping great company monitoring the passing kilometres and tracking our average speed. Not to mention, I'd only had it returned the night before (thanks Sweet Pete's!) after the LAST time it jumped off my handlebars. That incident resulted in a replacement unit. The one that was now presumably lying in the dirt somewhere. Design flaw? I think so. In a flash decision I told Gavin the fun was over for me, I'd have to turn around. I knew I wouldn't be able to find peace about a [expensive] lost tool unless I'd done all I could to try to find it, so I turned around to ride upstream in a river of riders. Before long, I got to a marshal and stopped to ask her if anyone had turned it in. She said she hadn't had one yet. I was in the middle of making sure it was alright with her to continue into tighter terrain against the grain to try and find it when ...

Garmin Guardian Angel

... a young man, I think from Mountainview Cycling Club (or else a similar blue and white kit) stopped and said, "Are you looking for this?" and pulled my Garmin out of his jersey pocket. Holy shit. The odds are staggering and thank goodness for him!! I made him stop long enough for me to give him a big hug before turning him loose on the singletrack once again. As for the Garmin, I replaced it in my jersey pocket, NOT the stem mount. Huge thank you to you, whoever you are.

Where'd you come from?

After the Garmin incident, things started going downhill -- figuratively speaking. Literally speaking, they were still going very much UPhill. I knew I was losing speed, but I was confident I could keep 'er going enough to hold my position while keeping suffering to a minimum. So at check points, I let myself get off the bike and enjoy some orange wedges and bananas. I chatted with the volunteers and other racers and then moved on. This was great for a couple rest stations, but then seemingly out of nowhere (but actually out of my own lax riding), third place was on my wheel, then cheerily calling a pass and wishing me a good ride. Wha ...?! How did I let this happen?

So I paced her for a bit to get an idea of what kind of effort I'd need to put her behind me before unleashing an Ocup-Style final 30km. This was actually hugely enjoyable (ha -- read "painful") because the second loop was much more flowy than the first, with way better dirt too. Riding fast is always fun, and it was nice to know I had deeper fitness than I'd thought. Mental strength on the other hand ...
Well it was also very nice to see the finish line, let me tell you.


I ended up in second, as planned and took home a neat little pottery plaque and a medicine ball for my efforts. We all enjoyed an awesome chili lunch and a good sit in the grass chatting with riding buddies and new friends we'd met while neutralizing poison ivy with a garden hose.

Huge thanks to the volunteers who put out a massive effort to make such a great event run so smoothly. And heck, they even ordered up good weather. Would I do it again? Hmmm ... ask me when my body stops aching. ;)

Dear Garmin ...

An Open Letter to the Fine Folks making GPS Products at Garmin

First of all, let me say I love my Garmin Edge 705. We've been running, walking, riding, skiing, hiking and even driving together since last Christmas.

However, it didn't take long for one major design flaw to show its face. The stem mount.

It's just not very good.

In fact, one day "just riding along" my beloved Garmin managed to jump off its mount while we were completing a workout on the asphalt. The impact was enough to kill my baby. Luckily, I was able to get a replacement just in time for a 100km mountain bike race over some of Ontario's most demanding terrain.

Excited to finally have my Garmin back, especially for an event where geographical information is so helpful, I set out eagerly watching the kilometres tick closer and closer to that big 100. Around kilometre 50, I looked down and my heart nearly stopped. It was gone.

Once again, with next to no help from me (that is to say, I hadn't crashed or knocked it with any of my limbs) it had jumped ship. Crestfallen, I knew given the high monetary value of the gadget that I would have no choice but to give my best shot to finding it, even at the cost of the race.

Miraculously, thanks to a friendly fellow-rider (and Garmin user, coincidentally) my Garmin and I were reunited and I was able to complete the race with only a little bit of time lost.

So Garmin, in my opinion, something needs to be done.

I hope future models come with a stronger, more effective mount. But for all of us already using and enjoying our Edge 705s, could I suggest, or ask over the existence of some sort of leash system?

Until this problem is solved, I guess I'll be zip-tying mine to my stem, over the exisiting mount. I got the idea from a rumour I heard about your own pro road team. Hmmm ...

Thank you for an otherwise great product -- I hope this letter helps to make it even better.

Kristen Lake

PS - if you agree, add your thoughts to the comments below.

Garmin's stem mount: Does this look reliable to you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Race Report: Ontario XC Marathon Championships, Mansfield

From left: Celine Foreht, Kristen Lake, Tanya Hanham

After a bit of a lack-lustre Ocup season, I've decided to regroup and throw my hat in for a few fall races. So far, I'm liking the results!!

Yesterday was the first of three races on my Renaissance tour. Substance Projects hosted the Ontario Marathon Mountain Bike Championships at Mansfield. The weather forecast was calling for rain, and I didn't even care. If it rained, it would just be more epic. But -- it only rained enough overnight to make the dirt absolutely perfect. PERFECT!! Perfect, I tell you.

At 74km, the race would officially be the longest of my career. I wasn't sure how I'd feel but I couldn't help thinking back to last year's Winter Wow in which I bonked like I've never bonked, and that was only 40km. Could I do another 34 after that? Time would tell!

Jerome and I carpooled up and in the car I was not exactly energetic. Thank goodness he was driving, because I could barely keep my eyes open. Warm-up wasn't much more inspiring. So, not surprisingly, I didn't have the greatest start. Off the line, I settled in and tried to stay with Celine, who'd pulled ahead. I was doing okay at it too, but then I made my first mistake -- mis-steering on a descent, causing me to hit a tree, stop and consequently lose all my momentum for a long straight away. I waved so-long to Celine, and then two more ladies.

This scenario replayed about 10 times I think: catch up with the girls, make a silly error, fall behind again. Handling wasn't there, and fitness was taking its time to show up! I rode with Tanya (the Vegan Vagabonde) for a little while, and she actually helped me to cheer up. I got my head back into it, gapped her, and then found myself very much alone in the woods. Without being able to see the girls ahead or behind (or any riders for that matter ... hmmm) I found some focus and finally started to ride the way I wanted to. My legs decided to join the party and I settled into a great rhythm. And then, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Dan on the moto, and about 5 riders near. They were stopped by the way. Never a good sign.

Turns out, somehow seven of us managed to independently make the same wrong turn. None of us was the wiser, as there were arrows the entire time. Dan, the race organizer suspects someone in the woods moved them. So, while we thought we'd passed the "first" check point, in fact, it was the last. Dan was kind enough to put us back in at the 20km mark, since that seemed to be what the consensus of the bike computers indicated. Unfortunately, there was no way to know if the rest of the women's field were now ahead or behind us. Frustrated, I found all NEW focus.

The first bit of fun after we were dropped back on course was a gnarly rutted descent made of wet sand. Riders could disappear into the rut it was so big. So it was crucial to stay on the off-camber banks. Somehow, I bumped and jumped my way down ahead of everyone else. Only to have to stop for a giant stick stuck in my derailleur at the bottom, and once again, I was waving so-long to the women. Something snapped in my head. There was no way I was wasting my entry fee and all that work now. With lots of race left, I put my head down and thought of only one thing: catch those girls.

After the descent, there was the famous Simcoe County Forest rutted out sandy CLIMB, a regular feature on Winter WOW race courses. (What goes down, must go up? Is that how it goes?) Riders were getting de-biked all around me but I wasn't having it. That climb would pay. I beat on it like a crazed chimp (how's that for imagery?) and managed to expell all my frustration by the top. Then it was go time.

The rest of the race was a completely different story from the bumbling, clutzy first 20km. I was feeling Racy. At one point, I noticed a climb, which caused me to notice that I hadn't been noticing the [plentiful] climbs -- always a good sign. I had the legs I wanted, the headspace I wanted, and sometimes it felt like an hour would go by before I had to touch the brakes -- just totally perfect, tacky Mansfield flowy singletrack. I rode with some dudes and then left them behind. Found some new riders up the course, then motored on by them. I felt powerful for once! Unstoppable!!

And then I felt really really bad. Just like that. It was after the final checkpoint, so I knew the end was near but my garmin is in the shop, so I had no tools for timing or distance. There were also no reference points marked on the course -- I hadn't even seen a course map. I suspected at one point that we'd made it back to Mansfield Outdoors Centre Property because I spotted a "Happy Trail" trail sign. I took it as a sign of hope. After the first cracks in the veneer, the crumbling started in earnest. Trees and shrubs looked like animals, or shady characters. You know it's getting into rough territory when you start talking yourself through stuff. And really rough when you start talking to god. Like, "God? Can you hear me? Please let this be the last section of single track?"

At one point, I saw a logging road I thought I recognized (I don't know HOW, beacuse I had no idea where I was and they were all starting to look the same at this point) and I thought I would just take it to the end and call it quits. Crazy talk of an exhausted madwoman.

Anyway, things were rough, but I was still moving, still coaxing race gel and fluids into my upset tummy, still racing, but still not sure what my position was. Was I ahead? Was Celine right behind me about to take a pass? It was enough to keep the fires burning. I conquered a silly little descent that hasn't been on a race course for me in a few years which I could never ride before, got stoked and then found myself passing the main Chalet! I was shredding the final straight away!! Surely within a couple pedal strokes, the finish would be visible! I would be done!! I would be victorious!! but mostly, I would be DONE!! And then ... the arrows seemed to be pointing right. Not straight. Right. Back into the woods. Back into more singletrack. Nooooooo!!! I didn't want to believe it, but my bike was making the turn and I had no choice but to follow along (although I did spare some headspace to contemplate a DNF a few hundred metres from the end).

You thought that was bad? It gets worse. What was waiting for us around that right turn? Only the biggest, steepest climb of the day. What. The. Fudge. Heartbroken, I dropped my gearing into the granny and started my grind. I could see more of what lay ahead by now, and saw that the top wasn't actually the top -- it now appeared there was a second part to this monster. I couldn't take it. I walked. Eventually, I made it to the top, and as my heart pounded in my ears, my arms, neck, legs, back and hands ached like they've never ached, I rode the final descent and grassy straight away to the line.
I even remembered to put my hand up (just in case I'd won, which I still wasn't sure of).

Turns out, I was number one. Congrats to all who finished the race!! It was a tough, tough day. But in just a few hours, I found my happy, racy place again. A great way to go into winter training.

Post-race BBQ

Next up? Paul's Dirty Enduro. And to cap off the season, I joined a team for the Fall 8 up at Hardwood. A visit to Mansfield, Ganaraska and Hardwood before packing up mountain bikes for the winter is an awesome way to spend the fall. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

$100 for 100km

Paul's Dirty Enduro -- It's officially on my calendar. 100km of singletrack for me, 100 dollars raised for others.

I think it's the 15th time this race has been run, but it's my first time to line up. Here's hoping I can even ride all 100km of singletrack ... in a row.

But if the going gets tough, there are plenty of inspiring things to pull me through. First of all, Paul's story, and the love and support he still inspires today.

Paul was a young man who loved to ride bikes -- mainly in the Ganaraska Forest where this race is being held. According to his friends, he'd gather up fellow-riders and rip the trails all day long. He'd always say, "Let's do 100km!" but they never actually did.

He passed away by taking his own life in 1996. This event is run by his friends and family who come together year after year in his memory. They raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association, put on a full day of activities and from all accounts, everyone has a good ol' time.

If you want to read more about Paul, his sister wrote a beautiful article in the Globe and Mail you should check out. I posted it below as well.

As for the race, I'm told it's 100km, mainly singletraick, never the same trail twice. I hear there's poison ivy, and its winners are worshipped like royalty. And I'm also looking forward to a promised hot lunch (which will probably be a cold dinner by the time I actually [literally] crawl over the finish line.)

If you want to show your support I'm trying to raise $100 for the event. I gave myself a head start with $20. Link to my fundraising page, follow the directions and be sure to print your tax receipt.

Then wish me luck on the 18th! Oh, and if someone could come and drive me home, that would be awesome ;)

By Mary Lou Archibald

Globe and Mail

My brother’s life is a dirty and exhausting endurance race that never ends, despite the fact he committed suicide 14 years ago today.

Every September since Paul died in 1996 at the age of 34, family, friends, mountain-biking enthusiasts and greenhorns have gathered in the Ganaraska Forest near Peterborough, Ont. We honour Paul’s life, sustain his passion for racing and the Ganaraska trails, and talk about the mystery and heartache of knowing that someone you can’t live without thought you would be better off without them.

On the one hand, Paul Rush was a rough-and-tumble mountain biker who could always be counted on to pull ahead in the home stretch during 24-hour relays with his biking buddies. He was a humble and hard-working cyclist, the strong and often silent type with broad shoulders, solid legs and a heart that could climb the steepest hills without missing a beat.

Paul loved to ride the trails, the more offbeat and rugged the better. His dream was to do a 100-kilometre endurance race, not to prove he was better or stronger or faster than anyone, but because it was a new challenge and adventure. It was inevitable that the Dirty Enduro race that started because of him includes a 100-kilometre trail that winds in one big loop with a new view at each twist and turn, which is exactly the way Paul would have wanted it.

On the other hand, Paul was a real character with an offbeat sense of humour. He had twinkling Irish eyes that reflected his appreciation for a good time with family and friends. Women loved Paul, not just for his charm and good looks but also for his sensitivity and vulnerability.

He had four older sisters who loved to spoil him, and a couple of girlfriends who probably would have married him in a flash if only he had popped the question. Yet he remained the eternal bachelor. I questioned this many times, and he always told me he was afraid of getting married and having kids because he might screw it up. I should have known this was a sign of his insecurities, but he always said it with a chuckle and such casual flair that I thought he was pulling my leg.

Paul was a big tease with everyone, especially kids. Nieces, nephews and friends’ children could not wait for him to shower them with attention. Young ones and even too-cool tweens would sidle up to the friendly giant, knowing that when the moment was right he would scoop them up and twirl them, bench press them with his big “muskles” or cart them around the block on the back of his bike.

His love and affection were unconditional and unencumbered. You could be yourself with Paul, and no matter how shy or quiet you were, you always knew he had no expectations. And he made a mean pizza from scratch, turning the kitchen into a cheesy disaster area, but the results were mouthwatering and the cleanup with Paul always fun.

Unfortunately, Paul was also a man who lived with the “black dog” of depression for years, a dark secret we live to regret.

Paul was raised in an era when boys were taught to deal with their anger or frustration by scrapping, or shutting up. Going to the doctor was for pregnant women and old people. And talking about it was something you were only allowed to do in the church confessional, to ask forgiveness for feeling this way when you should be grateful you have a roof over your head and food on the table.

So when Paul had thoughts of suicide, and even attempted it unsuccessfully, as we later discovered, he sucked it up because that was what real men did. When he told us that stray dogs were chasing him during his solitary bike rides, little did we know the animals that were really haunting him were in his mind.

Paul lost his job, and he told us it was because his boss was a jerk. He probably was, but what we didn’t see was that Paul’s anxiety, in the days before employee mental health was a sincere consideration, led to behaviour that was typically dealt with by pushing the difficult worker out the door.

In the end, it was not the stray dogs or the tough terrain that took Paul’s life, but his own desperate desire to end his pain.

So every year we gather, and what started with a few close family members and friends and a pot of chili 14 years ago has become a big event with hundreds of riders and volunteers, and more than $17,000 in donations. The funds are used to raise awareness about suicide, especially among young people.

The cause has become a potential source of healing instead of pain. Family and friends would much rather see Paul leading the pack in the 100-kilometre race year after year. Instead, we gather annually to watch others continue the race, and it is a bittersweet ride. Whether they participate for the thrill, or to honour someone who suffers from mental illness or tragically took their own life, the participants at Paul’s Dirty Enduro continue his life journey on his behalf.

Mary Lou Archibald lives in Brantford, Ont.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You Belong With Us.

Haha, best ad ever. Last time I had on a bridesmaid dress I had similar tan lines and 9 stitches in my shin (for a tea-length frock ...)

These are my people!

Found it on the report IMBA and Sacred Rides put together on women in mountain biking. Check it out:


Monday, September 6, 2010

Canadian on the box!

Nice to see our own Steve Smith up on the podium for the men's DH World Champs at Mont St Anne. Many respectable finishes for our riders, wish I had been there in person to cheer everyone on!

I think I owe this thing a bit more of an update than that but it's still the holidays, so that's all for now. More later ;)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Buzz on The Fuzz

Received a helpful email today from the Toronto Cyclists Union on how to avoid traffic tickets on your bike ... Read on to save some dough (and stay safe while not contributing to cyclists' bad reputation in this city)!

Fellow Cyclists,

Please note that Toronto Police are now regularly paying closer attention to the behaviors of cyclists on the road, and giving tickets for infractions. Several people have noted getting ticketed this week in particular.

This is not all bad news of course. With this increased attention comes a greater awareness of the negative impacts that some driver behaviours / driving infractions have on the cycling population, along with increased ticketing for these actions. Although we don’t like to discuss it much, there are many drivers and cyclists that drive and ride recklessly and are sometimes deserving of fines – though unpopular, penalties are proven to be an effective tool to help motivate behavior change.

That said, many feel that an $85 fine for not having a bell is unreasonable, in particular when your voice can be more effective in many cases… Unreasonable or not, it’s the law and you can avoid this particular fine by spending a mere $5 on a bell and 5 minutes installing it. Besides, the sound of bike bells is so lovely, the more the merrier!

Please take a moment to consider your cycling habits (good and bad) and remember that cyclists, as per the Highway Traffic Act, must follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles, and are subject to many of the same fines. Cyclists are required by law to have front and rear lights after dusk and before dawn, to have reflective tape on the front and back of their bike frame, to signal direction & lane changes, etc...

Some fines that apply to cyclists:

- Disobey stop sign or fail to stop $85
- Fail to signal for stop or turn $85
- Cyclist riding in or along crosswalk (this included X-walks, and pedestrian crossings at intersections) $85
- Red light, fail to stop $260 - plus 5 costs plus $60 victim surcharge = $ 325
- Red light: proceed before green $260
- Fail to stop on right for emergency vehicle $400
- Careless driving $400 - plus 5 costs plus $90 victim surcharge = $500

Additional cycling related infractions for which you can be fined can be viewed at this excellent City of Toronto site. Please note however that although the fines for Running a red light, and Careless driving have recently been increased, these changes are not yet reflected on the City of Toronto site.

Demerit Points
One very common misconception/error made by Police is that demerit points apply to cyclists.

Demerit Points DO NOT apply for cycling infractions

Please note that in response to the confusion around whether or not Demerit Points apply to cyclist, the yellow infraction tickets have recently been modified to show clearly that the fine is for a cycling related infraction.

Two things to look for on the ticket:

1. Near the top there is a 'Motor Vehicle Involved' box - the officer should put a check in the '[ ] N' box to indicate ‘No’.

2. Near the bottom is where a license plate number would be included - this should be left blank, and then in the license plate code box next to it, a 'C' should be marked to indicate Cyclist.

It is advisable to provide ID when asked to do so by police. If you do not regularly carry ID on you, you can simply identify yourself, and provide your pertinent information, verbally – you are legally allowed to do this. Most officers will request a driver’s license because it helps them to know your level of understanding of the rules of the road.

Please note: If you know that you have made a mistake and are in contravention of the law, it is better to accept the ticket gracefully rather than lose your cool or fight with police. Even if you feel you have not done anything wrong, arguing with a police officer is rarely a good idea and can lead to more problems than it’s worth.

If you, or someone you know has been ticketed incorrectly, or been treated poorly by police when stopped for an infraction, please connect with ARC (Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists)

Safe cycling,
Yvonne & the bike union team

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How can I resist??

The 2011 Trek line up has arrived for your viewing pleasure. has got all the beauties. Top of my wish list:

This is the Top Fuel 9.8 WSD. Chic lavendar paint job. New OCLV Mountain Carbon stands up to any log or rock you knock around in the line of duty. Cables run inside the always-striking Top Fuel frame.

My financial advisor would have a hissy fit but if there was ever a year to buy a bike, this is it. Resist I must ... le sigh.

Deep Summer Photo Challenge

Thanks to the influence of the snowboarders in my life, the Deep Winter Photo Challenge is something I look forward to every year. And then I hear about the Deep Summer photo Challenge ... what?!

Competitors' slide shows are now starting to show up on the internet and you don't want to skip over these. I found the below from the Coastal Riders' blog, and it wasn't even one of the top 3! If you read their post, you'll see that Jordan Manley won the show. Looked him up and if I can just add an aside: if you're looking for gift ideas, I'll take any one of his prints. Especially this one:

Here's the slide show from runner-up "wild card"Adrian Marcoux:

Deep Summer Slide show from Dirt Tales on Vimeo.

Steven Lloyd's entry:

Deep summer photo comp whistler 2010 steve lloyd from steven lloyd on Vimeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Skipping The A Race. No Provincial Championships For Me.

2010 has been an interesting season -- at times, I would say it's even been a struggle (and not the usual bike race type struggle).

2009 was undeniably the best season of my life. I did everything the way I wanted to. Good power work, religious spinning, cross training and a lengthy list of races (some even with podium finishes and cheques!)

This year, my priorities changed. To compete at this level requires a huge committment. It means that after work, training/racing and everything that goes with it takes up all the remaining oxygen. And in previous years, that was just fine with me.

This year, I wanted more. Not more from myself as an athlete; but more from myself as a friend, sister, girlfriend, daughter, earthling. I wanted to be able to raise a glass on a friday night with friends without having to say "no thanks, I'm training". I wanted to stay up late, spend weekends at cottages with no bikes, visit family in my home town and just spend the morning chatting over coffee, instead of jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn to get endurance miles in "before the day starts". I wanted to see the Olympics ... but I finally understood that I wouldn't be going as an athlete, and that was OKAY!!

So yes, 2010 has been a different sort of year.

And what better way to finish it off than by blowing off the Provincial Championships.

Sorry Chico, I'm sure it's a lovely course, and I was really looking forward to racing it. But something better came along. I think in the long run, memories of yet another "8th place finish" will pale in comparison to ones of campfires and all night euchre tournaments, fishing, hiking and dominoes by lantern-light with mom, dad and sis at our place on Kama Bay. We haven't all been together there in about 15 years.

So good luck to all the racers. Maybe see you for some of the non-ocup stuff in the fall. Otherwise, til 2011!

Guide to Dating Your Athlete

I saw this on Spak's blog, who saw it on MTBR and I thought it was funny because it's true. Mostly. Just the other night my man tried to take a piece of pizza off my plate ... and he was never seen again.

A dating guide to understanding your triathlete (or runner or cyclist...)

"I am an outdoors type of person." Really means: I train in any type of weather. If its raining, snowing, 90 degrees w/100% humidity, or winds gusting at 30 mph. I don't want to hear any complaints because I will still train in it and you're just a big wuss for complaining about it.

"I enjoy riding my bike." Really means: With or w/o aero bars, alone or in a peloton, I don't care. If you can't do a spur of the moment 30 miler then you're not my type. I will let you draft, but if you can't hang and I drop you - I will see you later. I am a capable mechanic, but don't expect me to change your flats or tune your bike. You need to learn that on your own.

"I enjoy jogging." Really means: Lets run hills until we puke. I have just as many shoes as you only mine are better because they are functional and all look the same.

"I enjoy dining out." Really means: I enjoy eating out, in or anywhere else I can find food. Don't be shy because with the amount of food I eat, you can have that main entree instead of a salad and you will still look as though you eat like a rabbit in comparison. Don't get your limbs too close though as I may take a bite out of you. Most importantly don't expect any taste off my plate unless you can bring something to the party like more food. Eventually though if you're not burning 4,000+ calories a day your going to plump up and have a terrible complex due to watching me eat deserts and not gain any weight. Friends and family will eventually decide not to dine with us anymore due to my horrid table manners. Oh, and don't ask me any questions during breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon lunch, dinner or recovery dinner as it does not lend to efficient food intake.

"I enjoy quiet walks on the beach." Really means: Walks on the beach warming up into an 8 mile run and then plunging myself in the ocean for a 2 miler. If you get in my way you're going to find out what mass start is and let me assure you that you don't want to find out.

"I find fulfilment in charitable work." Really means: If I am not racing, I am volunteering or cheering on my buddies and I expect you to be there along side me as I stand out in 90 degree weather for 8 hours handing out sports drink to cyclists going 20 mph. Just stick the ol' arm out there and hope it doesn't get taken off.

"I enjoy sharing quiet moments together." Really means: It's taper time. Just back off because I am strategizing, trying to get into the zone and in a pissy mood because I am worried about my "A" race and can't workout.

"I am an active person." Really means: Aside from my 40 hour job, and the 8 mandatory hours of sleep a night. 10 hours a week are devoted to me during the off-season and 20 during race season leaving us 4 hours. 2 of which are spent inhaling food and you not talking to me, so lets make the best of the 2 hours we will spend together on average each day. If you are a licensed massage therapist or doctor this would make the most optimal use of our time together. Nutritionist is also acceptable, but I probably already know just as much as you.

"I enjoy road trips and vacations." Really means: You have your choice of British Columbia, Wisconsin, Idaho, Florida, California, Arizona, and New York, but don't expect to do much site seeing. But if I get enough support from you we might be able to include Hawaii in there.

"I enjoy site seeing." Really means: Lets grab a mountain bike and get our HR's up to 90%. There's plenty of time to look around on the descent as trees and bushes whiz by you at 40 mph.

"I like stimulating conversation." Really means: while we are running, we can talk about food. Then we can talk about how we decided what to wear on this run based on the temperature at start time versus the temperature at the time we expect to finish, how horribly out of shape we are, how many miles we did last week, and how many we will do this week and next week. Then we can talk about food.

"I enjoy relaxing soaks in the tub." Really Means: I'm going to stop on the way home and buy two bags of ice, throw them in the tub with some water, and sit in this torture chamber for 30 minutes.

"I'm interested in photography" Really Means: My camera is permanently perched a tripod in front of my trainer. I obsess over taking photos of my bike position and analyzing them to get the perfect set-up.

"I'm into in technology" Really Means: My HRM and bike computer are my best friends. Until you can give me some hard data that can improve my training, don't bother trying to buddy up to me. You could one day break into the top three if you recognize and feed my dependancy by buying me more gear.

Article courtesy of an anonymous Triathlete who is likely still single, from Toronto, and who completed rather well the Lake Placid Ironman in 2006. For a small fee we'll connect you to this handsome and successful individual...(works "downtown" Toronto in the "money business")

Monday, August 9, 2010

Race Report: Ocup #6, Kelso

I had a good feeling about Kelso. Despite being laid low with strep leading up to the race, not to mention my general lacklustred-ness this season, I still had a warm little corner of my heart for this race. I followed Steve Neal's advice for the first week after recovering, and then had some great rides at the start of last week to shock ... errr, welcome ... my body back into some kind of shape. Top it all off with a totally zen preride on Wednesday and that would have been plenty for me. But to seal the deal, I had the support of not one, not two, but of SIX whole cheerleaders, just for me. Spoiled!!

Gerhard's parents happened to be in town the weekend of the race and being the good sports they are, were totally game to head out to Milton for race day. Gerhard and Adlar, his little bro, came too. And my parents made the trip from Port Elgin, so my stoke was all time.

Kelso can be an intimidating course, given the ginormous climb right off the bat. But having my squad lining the trail turned my usual strategy of survival into one of actual hunting and bike racing I haven't yet enjoyed this season. They'll have to come to all my races from now on, I think.

Anyway, with G's mom to help move things along in the morning, we got out right on schedule and I even had extra hands to load up all the stuff. Didn't even have to drive. Mellow. She kept asking me what she could do to help and the concept was so foreign to me I had a hard time coming up with an answer. And yet still, she seemed to know what to do. Awesome. We got to the venue, got sorted and then I left them to explore while I got ready.

At this time, I should also mention another contributor to my best race this season: Jerome! On Tuesday night, he was kind enough to give me a crash course on elite level tuning. We went over my bike inch by inch, component by component and lubed, tightened, trued and screwed every possible surface. My bike FINALLY felt like my bike when we were through, and I left with knowledge, a perfectly-squishy ride, and a shopping list. That's not to say the guys in the shop don't do a fantastic job, but they're very busy gentlemen, and haven't usually got 2.5 hours to spend on one bike. Which mine needed. Things were wrong with it I didn't even know could be wrong.

Speaking of the shop, my next thanks is to Owen and the guys for helping me complete and install said list at the shop. All new contact points: grips, saddle and cleats.

Back to race day: installing a new saddle is second only to changing tires for my least favourite bike-maintenance activity. I'm never sure of what I'm doing and it seems like I'm adjusting things forever after, even with careful measurements. It never feels the same. Anyway, with my old saddle bent (how'd THAT happen?) there was no getting around it. Although I suspect that this bent saddle business has a lot to do with why my shoulder pops out all the time. Hmmm. So better to have a saddle that's a bit too far forward or back than one that is literally hurting me. During the race I realized that I move around so much it probably doesn't make that much difference.

Anyway, warm up. Decide to second-guess saddle position. Twice. Back to the van for adjustments.

Get sorted.

Get start bottle from mom.

Get good luck kiss from G.

Get going!

Up we went. Our pack quickly turned into a single file train up the service road climb. The rest of the course was so open and fast that unless you put time into your competition on the climb, you probably wouldn't put much time into them at all. With that in mind, I was happy to be in the front half of our group. And then the girl in front of me stalled, my wheel hit hers, the girl behind me hit mine, and we all had our feet down while the front of the train steamed away.

Thus unseated, I ran for it. Oh my god how I hate to run from a sudden stop when my heart rate is red lined. On the bright side, this little slip made me angry, in a good way, and I put it into my pedals. The result was a pretty awesome little bike race between me and Erica Bota for the first two laps. Back and forth a bunch of times, then riding with each other in sight for sections, before I hit a wall on the third climb and couldn't close the gap. After Erica, I never saw another girl.

But I did see my cheerleaders!! Every lap they were in a different section, snapping pictures, and yelling really loud. Gerhard's dad has a booming voice, and he isn't shy. My mom stood out no matter what in her pretty blue outfit, so even as I came barreling out of the single track, and everything blurs except the trail in front of me, I could see her.

I'll just say one more time, support is so, so awesome. Every mountain bike racer will tell you hearing your name pulls out a little bit more from tired muscles and pumping heart.

So then I finished and stuff. Got a little air on the finishing stretch, collected chocolate milk and congratulated Erica before heading over to regroup with my "team". Congrats to Sue Stephens, the day's winner! The only mark on my day was the mark I left on my bike when I wobbly-kneed tried to dismount and clipped the top tube with my cleat. DOOOOHHHH. Alas. It's a mountain bike, I guess.

Oh, another little story: after the race Chico asked me "for a word". I was worried I was in trouble, and sure enough, someone had apparently suggested that a "female Sweet Pete's Elite rider caused a crash in some double track". Huh? I had no recollection of this run-in and relayed the story of the only time I had contact with another rider. It was when HE hit ME sliding out of a high speed turn. Neither of us went down, and he apologized when he passed me shortly after. Anyway, if there was another incident, and you were involved and are reading this, I assure you, I was not aware of it. I was pushing so hard I had that annoying loss of hearing that feels like there's water in your ear and all you can hear is your pulse and your breathing. So if there was some missed communication I'm sorry, and I'm sorry you crashed.

Besides that little question mark, I was in amazing spirits. I rode well, I rode my best, I had a great result (8th [for the fourth race out of five], collecting 6th place points thanks to two Kiwis from New Zealand's visiting national team ahead of me) and re-ignited the love of going fast on bikes from wherever it was flickering all season. Just in time for fall racing and a winter of getting back on track I'd say.

We closed the day with a proper meeting-of-the-families in Milton at an Irish Pub (that also served Mexican, Greek and Indian) complete with fishing stories.

As if the day wasn't good enough, mom sent us back to Toronto with fresh farm fare, and BAKING. Mmmmm, cracked wheat chocolate chip cookies and fresh zucchini bread. I'm a lucky girl.

Thanks to Mom, Dad, Gerhard, Adlar, Gerhard (G's dad), Christine, Jerome, Owen and the shop, and Steve Varga for feeding me.

Can't believe there's just one left!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Max Heart Rate - For the Ladies

I subscribe to the montly "Women's Cycling" newsletter and today it had this little gem:

If you are a lady, and use a heart rate monitor to gage your workouts, you might be working too hard!

I rely on testing to see what my maximum heart rate is but I can see now why I was justified in doing that -- the old forumla is WRONG!

Old forumla: 220 minus your age.

New forumla: 206 minus 88% of your age.

Using the new forumla, guess what! I got a number that actually makes a lot more sense compared to test results. So there ya go!

Original article printed in NYTimes

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rock Statues!

A man I met way back in the winter time, Peter Riedel, has made the Toronto Star today! Remember this guy?

Peter relaxes/gets a little workout by finding rocks' natural balancing points and piling them up into interesting statues.

Today, he was the subject of intrigue as people tried to figure out who had put new rock statues in the Humber. I knew right away who it was! And apparently it's been confirmed. Cool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thank You, John Graves Simcoe!

Great weekend with lots of riding and relaxing. Only complaint was that the sun only wanted to cooperate while I was on the bike ... so I'll have to take a rain cheque on the beach day I had planned I guess. Uh, no pun intended.

Hope everyone had a great long weekend! Thanks to Kim and Bryan for hosting G and I!