Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Toosday

Brett Dennen was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G last night!!! He rocked the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and left everyone wanting more. He is such an awesome musician.

Had a good 4 hour session at the climbing gym tonight...ended up sending 3 new problems with the help of my friend James. Middle finger on my left hand is a little sore right now, I'm guessing from a crimpy problem in the gym I tried a few weeks ago now, so I think I may have to lay off the weighted hangs for a week or two.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Brett Dennen in Vancity Tonight

Going to see Brett Dennen play at the Commodore in about half an hour...psyched! This guy can seriously punch it with his music and he has awesome lyrics. I first found out about him from my friend Jamie Chong and if you go to his website you can hear some of his songs. I hope you enjoy his music as much as I do now!

Hitting the climbing gym tomorrow after work...I'm super psyched! Even though I probably won't sneak in another outdoor session in Squamish until I'm back from Ontario after Christmas I'm still hyper-motivated to get fit to send No Troublems early in the new year!

Okay, peesh out and go check out Brett's music!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Bouldering

Okay, I'm sure nobody checks this anymore since I haven't posted anything in more than a few months; however, I've spent the last 5 or so weeks in the climbing gym slowly regaining my fitness and I'm really pleased with how things are coming along.

This past spring when I got injured, I had been climbing for about 8 weeks and I was feeling really good, maybe the best I ever had, at least on granite. The day I injured my shoulder, March 8th, I had engaged in my first battle with a problem called No Troublems. It was to be my first real bouldering project since moving to Vancouver 2 years ago. That day I surprised myself by unlocking the first three moves, but unfortunately I never got another chance to advance my highpoint since about 30 minutes later, I fubar'd my shoulder for the rest of the season.

Well, I got out to Squamish this Saturday in what were likely the best conditions in the forest since March. It was under a bluebird sky, with temperatures hovering at 5 deg. C in the shadow of the chief, and a nuking wind blowing that I found myself at the base of No Troublems again. I skeptically eyed the cruxy (for me) initial moves because I knew how hard the first move had felt for me when I was feeling good, and as this was my first time on rock after spending some time climbing and training indoors again, I was unsure of what to expect.

I pulled on my shoes and had at it. After about 10 minutes of messing about, I had sorted out the old sequences that had gotten me out to the sidepull at the back of the roof. With some further refinement in my right heel placement, I was able to remove one hand movement that was rendered unecessary. I rested for short time to recover, enjoying the peace and quiet of December as compared to the zoo into which the boulders seem to morph during the summer months.

One more burn. I pulled on, carefully placed my left toe and right heel, recoiled and fired for the edge. I stuck it perfectly, adjusted my right heel and bumped my right hand to the arete. My left foot found the next hold, my right heel came up with my body and I lurched upwards for the sidepull at the base of the roof. It stuck too. I just reached my highpoint of this previous spring on my first day out since my shoulder healed! I adjusted my feet and made the tenuous reach way back to the crimp in the roof and grabbed it, right before my core said "no thanks" and gravity pulled me back to planet earth.

So, I'm super psyched since that short session went miles towards confirming that I'm quickly regaining the form that I lost over the months following my shoulder injury. Next stop, the annual sunny, dry spell in Febraury...see you then No Troublems and bring your A-game 'cause you'll need it!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Mt. Seymour Challenge

Oops, I haven't posted in over a month now...since I haven't heard any complaining I think it's safe to assume it hasn't affected anyone's stress levels - ha!

Over the past month, I've slowly been easing back into climbing and slowly been easing out of road riding. I'm still riding semi-regularly however without the intensity that I was prior to the Test of Metal. Despite this I've moved up into the Cat.3 race at the Tuesday night criteriums and last week saw my first success in the new category. Right after the prime sprint about halfway through the race, I attacked and joined one other guy up the road. Slowly and steadily we put time into the pack so that eventually they were out of site, however not quite out of mind.

With two laps to go, and me suffering like a dog up the incline every lap the group had pulled us back within sight. It wasn't to be a day for the sprinters though and on the last lap my breakaway companion attacked me at the top of the climb. I couldn't respond enough to challenge him but I held on for 2nd place which I was really happy with, especially considering my lacklustre training regime as of late.

So now, the Mt. Seymour Challenge. The Wednesday prior to the race I decided to determine if I would enter the race or not by riding Seymour and see how my fitness was, since the Sunday before, for the first time ever I had actually turned around at the 2nd switchback and limped home with my tail tucked between my legs. With this fresh in my mind, I approached the climb with some tredpidation that day. During the climb I knew was definitely going hard but it was difficult to tell how well I was going since I hadn't ridden it strong in a long time and couldn't remember my gearing and I also lacked a speedometer. When I hit the line in 43:15, one minute fifteen seconds faster than my previous best I was shocked to say the least! This did however, serve to prompt me to ride home and register for Sunday's race with a grin on my face.

I should say that in general, I wouldn't consider myself all that competitive of a person, with the exception of bike racing. That is the one thing that has taken over from swimming in highschool in which I desparately want to beat every other person in the race. Also, I find it preferrable to demolish the competition if at all possible...har har har. Unfortunately this doesn't happen too often but here's to trying!

Sunday morning rolled around and we were off to Seymour. The weather was perfect...about 16 and drizzly with really low clouds making for excellent conditions to pretend one was in the Tour de France on one of the famous mountain top finish stages in miserable weather! To top it off, I had a cheering squad of three comprising my ever supportive wife, my best friend Brow who is visiting from Ontario and his girlfriend Leah.

The Cat.4's peeled out of the start gates and the pace was comfortable for me so I relaxed a bit and followed wheels. After about 3 km found that I had worked my way to the front of the group. At that point a fellow I know, Noah, came around me and lifted the pace. I knew he was a strong climber so when I saw that he was content to try and ride the rest of the race by himself off the front, I quickly jumped away after him. I followed his wheel around the first switchback and for another few hundred meters until I saw him downshift one gear. I realized he was probably getting a bit tired holding the pace so I came around him to take up the work.

Without lifting the pace, I looked back and saw that I had gapped him and by the 4 km mark I found again, similar to Cypress a few months before, that I was riding my own race. With the help of Car, Brow and Leah cheering me on, I charged up the rain-soaked slopes of Seymour to post one more win for the 2009 season, and a second personal best within the week at a time of 39:04! I was ecstatic to have broken the 40 minute barrier and won the race at the same time.

Much thanks to Car for driving the psyche-mobile and to Brow and Leah for shooting the great photos and videos below...enjoy.

Warming up in the Specialized/Dizzy Cycles tent before the race.

The pack on the lower slopes of the mountain while the race was still gruppo compato. I'm in 2nd wheel here in the foreground.

Noah setting the pace with me stuck to his wheel like Elmer's school glue a few moments before he dropped off the pace.

On the attack, Jens Voight style with noone in sight anymore.

Pushing hard around the final switchback and zipping up as the temps drop.

Driving the nail into the coffin approaching the finish line.

In the early stages of the race, around km 2.
video


Noah pacemaking with me on his wheel, shortly before I went solo around km 4.
video

Off the front and pouring it on...make 'em suffer!
video

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Whytecliff PB...

Last night I finished work and really felt like pushing out some Watts so I decided to ride out to Whytecliff and see if I could better my avg. speed of 31.3 km/h of my last attempt earlier this year.

I've been feeling a little slow and less fit lately as I haven't been fitting in the higher mileage weeks that I was earlier in the season prior to the Test of Metal race so I wasn't too sure how it would go.

Anyways, I got on my bike and started pedalling out to North Van. I kept the pace high but was spinning quite quickly to limit the energy I was putting into it early in teh ride before I was fully warmed up. Even with this, I could definitely feel my legs weren't feeling great by the time I hit the Lion's Gate bridge.

After about another 10 min. or so of riding though they seemed to be running a bit smoother so I began to add some more coal to the boiler and stoke the fire. I hit Whytecliff Park, rode around the loop and turned around, heading for home.

Coming back over the Lion's Gate bridge into Stanley Park the legs were burnin' but I stomped on the gas until the trip odometer registered 60 km completed. I checked my avg. speed and I had totally demolished my previous best. I ended up clocking in at 33.0 km/h!!! I was super psyched considering I didn't think I really had the fitness that I did 3 weeks ago but perhaps some rest after the Test of Metal has proven beneficial to my body.

The weekly crit was cancelled this week due to bad weather but I'm excited to race again next week and hopefully have it act as my debut with the Cat.3 boys. I'm also aiming to keep my fitness high since I'd like to race well in the Mt. Seymour Hill Climb on August 9th...we'll see though since more and more these days I'm getting really psyched on downhillin gon the Northshore and up at Whistler! Duh duh duuuuh....

The Return of the King

I tried climbing again last weekend to see how my shoulder would respond and it went pretty well. There was no pain the following morning as there had been the previous time about 4 weeks earlier so that was positive.

The one bummer was that I think I managed to strain a tendon in my right hand middle finger in the Whistler Bike Park on the Thursday before. It may have been good though that my finger limited the difficulty of the problems I tried...

Anyways, I'm hoping that this is finally it after 4 months of waiting and cycling like a madman and I can finally return to my favourite sport! Oh and by the way, I don't actually think of myself as the king but I did find the title appealing.

I'll hopefully try to get out at some point this weekend to do some more moderate climbing...keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yaletown Grand Prix Photos

Here are a few photos that were captured of the race...



Monday, July 6, 2009

Yaletown Grand Prix 2009

Hey hey! So I had an absolute blast this past week beginning at about 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon when I left work. The Yaletown Grand Prix was the next day (Canada Day) and it was to be the first downtown crit race of my career!

I actually slept quite well considering that I had placed some weighty goals on myself without knowing anything about how hard it would be or who would be racing. I woke with the usual blend of excitement and pre-race anticipation and decided that the best solution would be a healthy stack of pancakes; a little cyclocross trick I learned from my bro Max.

I rode over to the race at about 11:30 and arrived in time to help our team director set up the tents, trainers and other stuff for the team. I got registered and then began that annoying part of racing...waiting for the start. I must admit though, it wasn't too bad with so much going on and so many people milling around.

At about 1:30 they let us onto the course to do a few warm up laps before sending us out of the gates. I should mention that the start format was kind of cool; they had us ride one neutral lap behind the lead car before firing the gun to actually start the race with a rolling start...it felt like we were at a bonafied pro race even though we were only racing Cat.4...Cool!

From the gun the boys hit the front running whipping up a fast pace that left yours truly gasping and struggling to move up. Although caught off guard with the quick start, I made sure to move up at least 5 wheels along the back straight by shoving my nose into the wind and sprinting up the line. Within about 4 laps I was sitting in a better position in 2nd wheel coming winging through the start/finish gate. Leaning hard into the first righthander, the Escape Velocity rider in front of me took the turn too wide, ran into the curb and went down in a mess of legs, arms and bike sliding into the hand railing for the restaurant. Boom, Yaletown claims its first victim. The next two laps I traded off the front with a few others before the next calamity struck.

Coming around turn #3 into the steep punchy climb, I heard the familiar sound of carbon and metal scraping the asphalt. Not turning around to check out the action we kept riding, and that ended up producing the winning breakaway. A less than ideal way to have a winning move form but I guess that's part of bike racing. I'm not entirely sure how that 2nd crash happened but apparently someone locked bars with someone else to bring down a few racers.

As the laps ticked by, the four of us were working quite well together and after sprinting for few of the primes and collecting myself $75, we had a new joiner bridge up to us. Unfortunately Rider X didn't feel the need to contribute to the effort and ended up sitting on the back well past the time that one might reasonably give someone to recover after a bridging effort.

This is how it was to be though, and I had made up my mind that to win the race, I was going to have to win the 2nd last corner. There wasn't enough space to open a full sprint between the final turn and the finish line and I was pretty sure nobody would risk passing coming into the last corner either.

So there we were firing through the start/finish line getting the one-lap-to-go bell. I pulled through after the chicane and thought perhaps I had moved to the front a touch early but I punched it up the hill and leapt out of my saddle at the top thinking I would drill it down the back straight and try and hold the gap into the final two turns. I looked behind me and I definitely had the gap and was holding it. One more glance sure enough found Rider X with his fresh legs bridging up to me with ease and coming around me into the 2nd last corner.

Unfortunately Rider X wasn't quite preared for the speed that he was carrying into the turn and took a wrong line sending him too wide on the exit and hammering into the rental fence barrier. As this unfolded about 15 feet in front of me while we were doing probably 40 km/h, my brain started sorting through a list of items that needed to be taken care of rather quickly. Firstly don't follow his line, secondly slow it down and thirdly, don't wait for the mangled bike to come flying off the fence into my line of travel before trying to avoid it. Thankfully all 3 got sorted and just as the wrecked bike came unnervingly close to my bike I had veered far enough right to get around it and back on line for the last corner. One more corner was all I knew I needed to take this thing...I came in low and on the exit jumped to my feet and sprinted with anything I had left to realize about 3 meters from the line that noone was coming around me and I had won my first legit bike race!

There was no way I was throwing away an opportunity like this to unleash a fervish victory salute, so like Max taught me, I punched the sky with my fists and celebrated my good fortune.

Although it was a bit scary at times, it was quite an experience and will help serve to launch me into my Cat.3 racing career! I'll post up some photos from the race in a day or two.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Beautiful Biciclettas

A few posts back I mentioned that I had potentially figured out what I want to try regarding a possible career...well here it is: custom bike frame building.

My brother Cam directed my attention to the website of Sacha White who is the framebuilder at Vanilla Bicycles and his work blew my mind, not to mention totally inspired me. I think this would be a cool thing to do for a few reasons...you're not only creating art and would get to be really creative and build literally every idea that pops into your mind, but you're also getting more people on bikes which is encouraging a healthier, fitter population and (hopefully) getting more cars off the road more often.

Check out Sacha's work here and make sure you have a drool bib handy, you'll need it:

http://vanillabicycles.com/

Enjoy and get psyched on bikes!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crushing Snails

I raced the Cypress Hill Climb today and it was super fun! We got up there pretty early and hung out in the team tent and waited for the Cat ½ boys (Sebastian, Nieves and Steven) to get ready and take off at 10 am.

Martin and Stu dropped by to help me get psyched up and it was much appreciated to see their smilin’ faces before getting warmed up on my trainer. I spun for about 20 min before heading down to the start line.

I had checked the results from last year’s race and one of the stronger guys who I race with on Tuesday nights, Jay Brooks, had actually placed 2nd; this was cool because he was here today so I was excited to have someone strong to race with.

The lady gave her speech about this was definitely not a road race and it was an individual time trail where it wouldn’t be the first one across the line that won, but rather the best effort. The part I struggled with was that everybody was starting together so I was pretty sure that the first person across the line was definitely going win the race, even if someone else made a bigger effort!

They sent us off and we quickly spun up to about 37 km/h with some jockeying for position going on prior to getting onto the actual climb. We rounded the long corner and then we were into it. I made sure I was in about 5th wheel in order to cover any surges but also keep my nose out of the wind. As we made our way up to the first switchback we gradually changed order so that by the time we were rounding the corner it was Jay leading with me on his wheel and everyone else lined out behind us.

About a hundred meters up the road I slowly came around Jay riding a quick but still comfortable pace and being the classy guy he is, he told me I was doing a good job. We rode this way until the 2nd switchback and as we crested the rise I glanced back over my shoulder and noticed that we had ridden everyone else off our wheels! Awesome!!! I love when that happens...when you unintentionally torch your competition.

As we hit the flat on the switchback I dropped it down a few gears and put in a small acceleration just to keep the pace high and as I took one more glance back to assess the damage we’d done, I noticed I had gapped Jay. Taking advantage of the situation I punched it and by the time I swung around onto the next pitch I had a solid 50m gap. From here I rode my own race frequently checking my gap but as it happened I managed to continually increase it all the way to the line!

Final result: 1st in Men’s Cat.4 in a time of 32 min 50 sec with a gap of 1 min 10 sec on 2nd place. I was pretty psyched because my time would have won the Cat.3 race too by about 35 sec...Sweet!

Next up, Yaletown Grand Prix on Wednesday...let’s have a race fellas!


Pouring it on at the finish line for the solo victory...perfecto!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I got a fevah! and the only prescription is more...

So I'm just coming off a few lower mileage weeks that led up to the Test of Metal and I can kind of feel it in my legs that I haven't been putting in a lot of miles.

Tomorrow is the Cypress Hill Climb race and I haven't really done any road racing this year other than teh local weekly criteriums but for some reason after finishing the Test last weekend I got road racing fevah?! I checked the calender and it just happened that the only two races that really look appealing due to style and location happen to be this week: the Cypress Hill Climb and the Yaletown Grand Prix criterium on Wednesday.

I just got back from an easy spin this morning with the team so I'll post up tomorrow evening with the results...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fraso: 1, Test of Metal: 0

So the Test of Metal is complete for this year and in all regards it was a huge success! None of our group of friends that entered got hurt, almost all finished with times exceeding their expectations and only a few had to deal with the frustration of mechanicals and/or flats.

The anthem finished, the tape dropped and we were off. The pace was pretty fast but I had a much better start this year than last and I was keeping the leaders in sight until we hit the trails. From there I followed wheels up and down the loose doubletrack until we hit Jack's Trail and made sure to put small surge in right before entering the singletrack. It turned out to be a good decision because not too far up Jack's Trail the group of four that I was with dropped the riders behind us.

We exited at Alice Lake and quickly formed paceline along the paved roads. As we hit the short hill passing the kiosk I put the gas on and opened a gap on the other four riders. Up ahead I saw Duncan one of my team mates from the Specialized/ Dizzy Cycles road team but unfortunately his being a Cat.1 racer didn't allow me to bridge up to him and after about 5 minutes the group of four had caught up to me and we began riding together again.

We were all together through Dead End Loop, Rob's Corners, Cliff's Corners and back down to Roller Coaster with the order switching up here and there.

Blasting out of Roller Coaster onto the road we quickly formed another paceline and most of us took the time to drink and eat at that point which surprisingly I was able to accept eagerly.

We all remained together until the base of 9-mile where we came through the feed zone and Car passed me a fresh bottle. As we came through a lady wsa counting riders and I found out that I was in 25th place at that point so I got pretty psyched. Unfortunately, in our group there was a petite female named Catherine Pendrel who happened to have won a World Cup XC race and also came 4th at the Bejing Olympics in XC mtb. The cool thing ws that she slowly and methodically began to ride each and every one of us off her wheel and dropped the entire group before strting to reel in the riders up the road...it was an impressive display of power and mental tenacity!

Anyways, at that point I decided that it would be best to ride my own race and not kill myself to try and keep up with these jackrabbits on the climb.

I ended up getting passed by a few fellas on the rest of the climb but overall was happy with my pace and then wsa extremely pleased with how the Ring Creek Rip went. I always find that part of the course a bit intimidating since I get bounced around a fair bit through some of the rockier sections with being on a hard tail. The Plunge followed nd although I totally botched much of the top section, I slowly found my groove and got smoother as I descended.

Exiting onto teh dirt road, I hammered down towards Crumpit Woods and gritted my teeth as the cramp set in. It wsan't as bad as last year so I was happy about that and I wsn't forced to get off my bike and stop racing to stretch out. Although I rode Crumpit Woods horribly being so tired at that point, I got through it and eventually popped out of endo into Raven's Plateau atop the Smoke Bluffs.

I passed one guy and bridged up to the next guy on teh road and together we hammered our wy down to the Smoke Bluff sparking lot. He eneded up getting a bit of a gap on me that I couldn't close down but at least no one else caught me and I crossed the line in 2hrs 54 min 50 sec, well inside my goal of 2:59:59! I was super happy, as that time also put me 34th overall which I thought was pretty respectable.

Anyways, I didn't feel as crappy as I did last year after the race so that was a treat also.

So, another Test down and hopefully next year Cam will join the brigade and we can drive each other to a faster time again!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Test of Metal...incoming

The Test of Metal is finally here...I haven't blogged much lately partly due to lack of content since over the past week and a bit I've been trying to rid myself of a nagging chest cold and come into the big event tomorrow with full energy; this has necessitated taking lots of rest and doing nothing...not a routine I'm fond of.

Anyways, it's mostly worked I think as I'm feeling better than earlier in the week and during a short spin this evening to wake my legs up again, I felt pretty spry.

I'll post up the results tomorrow after we get back or Sunday...here's to breaking the 3 hr barrier and placing top 40 over all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eureka

Ok, sorry I haven't updated in a few days but I sure have a lot to tell about. The weekend was fun and featured a superb jaunt along the Test of Metal course with Markez, Martin, Simon and Steph on Saturday.

I won't go into details but I was extremely happy with how I rode, especially compared to the previous weekend so it was nice to have a confidence boost with only two weeks to go until the race.

Sunday Car and I helped out with our Specialized/Dizzy Cycles Team up at the Westside Classic road race where the boys put in stellar performances with Brandon winning the KOM category (actually more like utterly demolishing any would be competitors by winning every single point up for grabs) and coming in 7th, and Sebastian with a strong 6th place finish. Good job boys...this grass roots effort my not be so grass roots by the end of the season!

Monday was a rest day and then Tuesday rolled around and by now you should be waiting for the crit updates on the edge of your seat, while salivating copiously for the results...har har har. Well, I wouldn't say I'm much for foreshadowing, but if you harken back to my last post about the Tuesday Nighter, I dare say I called it by letting you all know of my intentions to forget about the primes and race for top spot again. Chi-chick.....BABOOM!!! (That was a shotgun cocking followed by shooting in case you were wondering. It was also ment to signify tht I won the crit again this week.)

So, flying the new colours in the newly arrived Specialized/Dizzy Cycles kits, I was able to show them a clean set of wheels at the line this week.

A brief synopsis: Gruppo Compato until the prime...the sprint goes and I wsa glued onto the wheel of one of the stronger guys but he sat up and didn't contest. With the winners up the road, I swung around and charged up to grab another wheel and we were off! With three other compadres, we stormed away from the group with every intention of winning the race. I was surprised that almost immediately we organized very effectively into an echelon on the downhill and a paceline for the rest of the course with each member taking fairly equal pulls. However, with about two laps to go, a few quick glances over my shoulder told me tht we were quickly getting reeled in by the pack of chasing wolves who were clearly hungry for victory! As we got belled for the last lap, a new joiner bridged up and his fresh legs and enthusiasm lit a fire under our butts; we pinned it again knowing it was either now or get caught and have wasted the entire effort. Coming down the downhill we had opened the gap again and into teh last corner it ws clear that one of our group would snatch the win. I led into the last corner but purposely slowed a touch on the exit to encourage someone else to pull through. It worked and as we flew through the last chicane and onto the finishing straight it was balls to the wall as I opened fire first but held the hard chargers off to the line! OH that's NOICE!

Okay, so the other news is that through much delibertion (not really actually) I think I my have realized what I want to dedicate my innumerable skills and talents to for my life's work...Eureka! Just to be a dork (a real dork since no one even reads this...har har har) you'll have to wait for my next post. Duh, duh, duhhhhhhhh....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Witness the Fitness

Yesterday as I pedalled home from work along Burrard St. through traffic, I knew that our ride that evening was going to be a hot one. The wether in Vancouver has been off the hook for what feels like many weeks now. It almost seems as though it's been sunny and 25C straight since last summer and it never even rained all winter. Interesting how quickly you forget the damp, dreary days of winter when you have sunshine and bluebird skies to enjoy for over two weeks straight...

I picked Stuey up at 4:15 at his place and we were off like a fart in a windstorm. We chatted out to West Van and when we hit Marine Dr at 31st, the chit chat pretty well ceased as the heart rate kicked up a notch. We rode really hard out to Whytecliff and stopped briefly to enjoy the view from "Stu's patio"and have a quick bite to eat.

From there it was up to the highway and heading for Cypress. As we neared Cypress I realized that this was going to be a tough one a) because of the temperatures, b) how gassed my legs felt and we hadn't even started the climb yet, and c) because Stu was steadily crushing the life out of my legs with the pace he kept setting.

We ditched our helmets, set the timer at the chain-up shed and went to work. We slowly wound our way up the 12 km, thankful for any shade we found and especially the cold air pockets hovering around the small waterfalls we climbed past. We came around the last switchback surprised at the time on the clock, and gave one final push to the big yellow cedar on the summit. We hit the line at 39 min 45 sec! We were stoked...

On the way down we saw a small black bear munching some dandelions and so we stopped to visit with him briefly. When the car with the pumping techno beats reversed down the road to join the party, Mr. Bear scuttled off into the woods leaving Mr. Techno bewildered that he had missed the sighting...perhaps Mr. Bear preferred pubs to clubs?

Anyways, we descended the rest of the mountain like Paolo "Il Falco" Salvodelli and were soon back on the highway heading to Taylor Way. Stu was just mashing the pedals at this point pulling a steady 45 km/h and coming really close to dropping me even though I was fully in his draft. Mr. Fitness ended up pulling me the entire way back from Cypress to Kits and would start gapping me if I thought about easing off a touch. That was a performance that would have provoked Eddy Merckx to point at his biceps and with a stern face, say "strong!". Nice work Stu!

The ride ended on an interesting note with a passing SUV loaded with girls yelling some expletives at us right after I snuck in front of them on Burrard. Unfortunately for our friendly femmes, they didn't look ahead to see the red traffic light 100 m up the road. What was very puzzling was that when we approached, all of the sudden the window was fully rolled up?! I wonder if all of a sudden they had found 29C a bit chilly and didn't want the windows down anymore? Then when Bookie bellowed out "PARDON?!!!" the girl in the passenger seat looked about to pee her pants and the driver had all of a sudden become extremely interested in something on the opposite side of the car and seemingly didn't notice Stu and I at all now that we were inquiring what the problem was...har har har.

Anyways, a good ride with a good friend on a great evening...tonight I rest in preparation for an awesome XC MTB ride in Squamish on Saturday!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Humpday

Last night Sizzle, Mart and I convened on the Northshore to try and get rad on some amazing DH trails on Mt. Fromme. It felt soooo good to be riding up through the forest at that time in the evening...for some reason with the sun coming into the woods from the west with the long shadows it feels so peaceful up there.

We rode hard to get up to the 7th switchback as quickly sa possible since we were on bit of time constraint for the evening. We decided to order Upper Oil Can for an appetizer and it was awesome! That trail is so stinkin' sick...the narrow planks to steep ladder bridge roll-downs get your heart in your mouth plenty of times and keep you begging for more even as you fire down the last section and air onto the road.

After short delibertion, we all settled on Espresso for the main course. This was Sizzle's and Mart's first time down this trail and it was all smiles all the way. Sizzle was riding insanely well, pushing himself as usual and sticking some of the harder stunts on the way.

At the bottom of Espresso we decided that for dessert we'd sample Lower Crippler. The wooden rollercoaster didn't disappoint and after tearing through the myriad of banked corners and small drops, we were at the road feeling immensely satisfied with our full course, after-work meal.

Driving home with the sun warming the west flanks of the Northshore mountains, we decided that there's nothing wrong with being on a permanent vacation...nope, nothing at all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Next Service Station 24 km...

Last night was the weekly Tuesday night crit up at UBC and we had the full support crew out with Car, Tam, Fisher the Superdog, Abbs and Lauren all showing up to cheer the racers on.

At 6:30 the Cat.5 men launched and we had Stuey, Mart and Sizzle in it to win it for our team. The laps ticked by until the preme got announced with the bell and I guess Stuey decided that the bell was announcing two laps to go for him so one lap after the preme, Bookbinder came roaring through the chicane and charged the line well in front of everyone else!

I thought he was launching a blistering attack to solo off the front for the next 5 or so laps; Stu was thinking "Wow, I just won my very first crit! Great work Bookbinder!"; and I bet the guys he was dropping were thinking "Good luck dude...5 laps eh?" Har har har...as you can see, the same move can be read very differently depending on your perspective...nevertheless it was hands down a good dig!

After Stuey came to grips with the real situation, he dragged his own carcass back on to the pack and ended up finishing very respectably, inside the top ten I think. Martin launched a scathing attack with two laps to go but unfortunately noone went with him and he was stymied.

A great showing though for the ever expanding Cat.5 contingent! Well done lads!

The Cat.4's rolled out of the gates shortly after 7:00 pm and tonight Markezzy wasn't there so I was riding solo. The field seemed a little smaller than it did the previous week so I fancied my chances of trying to pull a repeat performance.

The race was pretty uneventful for the first half and I tried to jump into a few breakaways, none of which were successful in the end and then we got belled for the preme lap. The pace quickened as usual and for the heck of it I stayed near the front. As we came through the bottom corner, I found myself in good position for the sprint so I made a last minute decision to contest it to see if I could stick with the sprinters in the group. I was a bit surprised at how slow the pace was approaching the chicane before the final straight and as I looked around, everyone was waiting for someone to bolt so I thought it may as well be me. I punched it as hard as I could on the exact opposite side of the road of the guy who I knew would likely win it. Hlaf way there no one had come around me yet, and then I saw on my left a Zimichcoaching guy inching up on me. Digging deeper I put my head down and threw my bike at the line for the win! Awesome! That was super fun and the first sprint in a race that I've ever tried for...

The unfortunate part is that the effort totally fried my legs, forcing me to sit in for the rest of the race trying desperately to recover. With one lap to go, the field was still together having just reeled in the last breakway attempt. I was pulling up the climb and realized that there was no way I could contest another sprint. With Phil Ligget's words "You have to be SO strong to attack from the front!" ringing in my head and thinking that maybe I could use surprise to my advantage, I quickly stood up and hammered my pedals with the last gas I had in the tank. I got a small gap on the field and gave it everything to hold them off but unfortunately it wasn't to be. When I came into the headwind on the bottom of the course, riders poured past me like the spring melt over Shannon Falls...I sat up and took consolation in the fact that I was bike racing on a beautiful evening in the best city in the world with my number one fan cheering for me.

Next week I go for the top spot on the podium again...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weekender Bender Part 2

So I’ve planned to do the Northshore Triple Peaks for a while now and I decided on Friday that today would be the day. It wasn’t exactly ideal having ridden for 5 hours on my mountain bike in Squamish the previous day but other than that, the getting was good so I decided it was on.

I left our place at 7:15 after sending a few heads-up emails to Markezzy in hopes that he would meet up with the train (it was a very short train, just me in fact – har har har) as I passed Hwy. 1 on the way over to Seymour.

Unfortunately I found out later that he had set his alarm for Friday instead of today so we ended up missing each other and it looked like I would be doing battle with the peaks on my own. This is what I thought until I heard the whining scream of a crotch rocket coming flying down Mt. Seymour Rd. bearing none other than Sizzle! He gave me a wink that said “I’m going to gas this baby up, be back in a bit FC” and with that I continued my slog to the top. At the summit, Sizzle was waiting for me and gave me the great news that he would head home, swap his rocket for his pony and come back out to guide me through the second half of my ride, up Cypress and out to Whytecliff.

I turned around, blasted down Seymour and made my way across North Van doing the Hills Route and then climbing the remainder of the flanks of Grouse Mountain up to the base of the Grind. From here it was back down to sea level to continue on to the next hors categorie objective.

At this point I decided I should fuel up again and refill the water bottles so I selected the Savoury Island Pie Company as my feed station, and a good selection it turned out to be! Whoa…if you haven’t tried their cinnamon buns, let me assure you, you’re missing out on life. I thought I had found the best buns in the city at Sully’s Bagelry on Broadway but these new buns will definitely give Sully’s a run for their money.

Shortly after getting back on my bike, I saw Sizzle roaring down the road towards me heating up the tarmac with his big engine. Together we began the 12+km climb up Cypress keeping the pace impressively high for me. Hitting the summit and still feeling reasonably spry, we turned around and headed for Whytecliff, the final objective of the day. It was a good thing Sizzle came out for the second half of the ride and bombarded me with encouragement because I was starting to get pretty bored and my butt was killing me from the day before on my hard tail up in Squamish.

All told the ride ended up taking 6 hrs 40 min, covered 170 km and climbed a total of 8615 ft of elevation. You can check out the elevation profile on the mapmyride website by following this link:

http://www.mapmyride.com/route/ca/bc/vancouver/430124388614489573

All told it was a great ride and after taking yesterday off, I think I’m ready to try and drill it again in tonight’s criterium up at UBC…Gentlemen, start your engines!!!

Weekender Bender Part 1

This past weekend was awesome! Coming into it I had that feeling that you get right before you go on vacation; how lucky is that?! The plans were to ride the Test of Metal course on Saturday morning, after which I was going to attempt to put a timely end to my 12 week hiatus from climbing in the Grand Wall boulders. Then for Sunday I was trying to rope in anyone willing to suffer on the three peaks of the Northshore with me.

Saturday morning dawned bright and warm as it seems to have for the past 3 weeks and I got my stuff together and headed north. The Squamish-bound crew comprised Churchy, Erik, Martin, Megan, T-bone and myself with a possible showing by Markez and a surprise showing by Matty-Berger. Booky had to stay home from this one to sell his house, and Sizzle had to bail because he couldn’t not go for a ride on his brand new Suzuki GSX-R 600!!!

So we got under way and shortly after setting out, we got a bit separated and I promptly got lost (after assuring the others that I definitely knew the course – har har har). Not to worry though, after it just meant more bike riding and soon enough I ran into Martin and Erik where the Mashiter Bridge was down for construction.

We decided to do a detour down a black diamond trail called Entrails that turned out to be super technical and tons of fun! Along the way we passed other enticing trails such as the Icy Hole of Death…for some reason we passed that one up?

Back on track we proceeded to follow the regular trails for the rest of the course. Martin was riding like a bat out of hell today and it was insane to try to even keep him in sight, especially on the downhills; nice riding Mart! In the end, after a somewhat shakey start during which I didn’t feel I was riding all that well, I was really happy with how I was able to ride the Plunge and Crumpit Woods.

Upon returning to the parking lot, to our great fortune who showed up but Markezzy! At that point everybody was disbanding and I was going to go bouldering but I grabbed a bite to eat Markezzy first and we enjoyed some delicious Italian calzones from Nester’s Market.

After lunch I eagerly made my way over to the Grand Wall boulders and stepped into forest with a mile-wide grin on my face. Suffice it to say that it was a short, easy session but one of the most pleasant I’ve ever had. That forest is one of my favourite places to be hands down so it was a real treat to be back, bounding through the rocks with a pad and shoes in tow.

Unfortunately the next morning I woke with a sore shoulder so I guess it’s not quite ready for climbing again just yet but soon…soon I’ll be back in there mixing it up.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Off on a flyer...

Two days ago in the afternoon I found myself falling asleep at my desk about 2 hours before leaving work. I'm not sure why I felt so tired but that was the case, and I was wondering if I should even bother riding up to UBC for the weekly criterium.

Once I got on my bike to ride home and got soem food in me I began to feel a little more lively and decided that I would in fact be able to stay awake on my bike during the race. After Martin called informing me that his rear hub was falling apart and he would be by shortlt to fix it, Sizzle stopped by ready to rock.

We headed up a little on the late side but nonetheless got Sizzle to the line with a few minutes to spare. I hadn't heard from Mart yet and was wondering where he was when I saw him running to the registration table just as the Men's Cat.5 race pulled onto the road. He got sorted and when the pack came around he jumped into the fray and chased back on.

The laps ticked by with the boys in good position and as the last lap bell went, Mart and Sizzle were jumping off the front on the last part of the climb. I'm not sure how it shook out on the rest of that lap but the outcome was that Sizzle thought there was another lap left when everyone else was sprinting for the line! What the?! No big deal...I did the opposite last year and jumped thinking there was one lap to go when there were two, totally fried myself and then realized I had another lap to ride still.

Anyways, the Cat.4 race was next and off we went after listening to the Cat.3's get chastised for letting us catch them the two previous weeks...har har har. It didn't happen again so I guess they were a touch ashamed of themselves.

The first half of the race was pretty uneventful with Markezzy and I each taking some pulls and then the preme bell went. The sprinters went for it and the result was two small groups of guys off teh front that the pack didn't seem interested in doing anything about. After another lap and realizing that we weren't chasing them down, ever the opportunist I jumped off the front and bridged up to the first group. We slugged our way up to teh second group and then we were together. I think there were about 6 or 7 of us and we formed a loose paceline and started working together to increase our advantage on the main field.

We rode that way for a few more laps, and it turned out that my pull came through at the base of the climb. Not wanting to get caught, I tried to keep the revs up the whole way up the climb and by the time I went to swing off at the top I realized that the group had fractured behind me with one fellow dangling about 20 ft off my wheel.

After hearing him yelp something about waiting for the others to work together, I countered with a much better idea; he and I should definitiely try to win the race on our own! Great idea! I turned back to business, stoked the fire and fired down the downhill looking back occasionally to check on my hesitant friend's progress onto my wheel. After coming around the bottom of the course and starting the climb again he was with me and I turned and asked how he felt...he assured me he was good so I sat back down and again tried to turn up the heat up the climb thinking we could now make our move and put some serious time into the chase group.

Unfortunately as I swung off the front at the top after hitting 3 laps to go, I again discovered that my buddy had fallen off my wheel. I realized at that point that my comrade wasn't feeling quite as good as he thought, so I made the decision to go on the hunt for solo victory!

Resting slightly on the downhill and then digging deep on the climb saw me slowly build a gap on the chasers from roughly 30 m with 2 laps to go, to about 50 m with 1 lap to go. Hitting the downhill section on the last lap I realized that this might actually work, so I gave it everything as I hit the flat bottom. With my calves pinging with cramp, I rolled across the line grinning and blew a kiss to my lovely wife, satisfied with a perfect race from my own limited experience.

Molto Bene!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ski to Sea

This past Sunday was th ehighly anticipated Ski to Sea race in Bellingham, WA. I had been invited (for some reason they must not have heard that I was the "calf-less wonder") to do the road riding portion of the race which was to be a 60 km time trial.

After trying out the aero-bars that Markezzy lent me on Friday evening and practicing my Levi face, I felt like I was ready for my debut in the race of truth!

Saturday evening Cam, Rosie and I drove down to Brian and Jess's place, where the team was gathering for a pre-race pasta dinner. Huge thanks to Brian and Jess for the amazing food and accomodations they provided us with so generously with! After meeting the team members and sorting out our equipment we all piled into bed and tried to fall asleep as 5:00am was going to come early the following morning.

After resting for about 30 min., we awoke to an odd and erractic thumping noise coming from beneath the bed. Cam got out of bed having a strong suspiscion of what was wrong here. Old Shaft was bang on when we peeked under the bed, and it turned out that Brian and Jess's golden lab Buddy has submarined under the bed and was having a little fun while were trying to sleep! Har har har...then came the funny part. Cam began his efforts to coerce Buddy out from under the bed but to his dismay, Buddy began to get increasingly excited by his new playmate and turned his tail thumpometer up to turbo! Wham-wham-wham-wham! Ha ha ha...it was pretty entertaining, but it all came to an end when Buddy was dragged out by his front legs by Jess to provide some respite for the racers.

The next morning after rifling some food down our throats, we piled into Brian's VW Vanagon, cranked some good tunes and drove up into the Mt. Baker national forest. My jaw dropped when I saw the roads I was to be riding on in a few hours. Unreal...twisting, turning, rising, dropping and all the while through some of the most lush, vibrant green flora I've ever seen!

I got dropped off and before I knew it I was lined up in the time chip exchange chute with Rosie bearing down on me like a screaming banshee. I took the chip, pocketed it and took off down the road with one goal: catch as many of these jerks that got out before me as possible, and if they tried to grab my wheel as I went by, make it impossible by attacking so violently that they would temporarily forget where they were...BAM!

I tucked into the bars, revved up the pedals and felt like a surface to air missile! Aero bars are super fun, especially when you're not exhausted yet and are on a slightly downhill course...in fact they should be renamed Hero bars because that's what you feel like. I was having so much fun after catching my first three or four racers that I was hooting and hollering and announcing my own progress on the course, to noone but myself in Phil Liggett's voice! Har har har...you know you're having fun when...

Anyways, I ended up finishing somehwere around 1 hr 30 min which I was pleased with as that meant my avg. speed was around 40 km/h which I've never come even close to before on other solo rides.

The day progressed and the timer chip gradually made it's way from the slopes of Baker to the waters of Bellingham Bay with our team, the Highcountry Hoodlums clocking around 34th out of over 400 teams this year! Not bad for a bunch of yahoos out to have some fun.

Thanks for the race guys and we'll (hopefully) see you again next year!

See more Saturday

Saturday morning saw Shaft and I set off on our own nice and early at 7:00am. Our plan was an ascent of Mt. Seymour followed by something else depending on how our legs felt.

After stopping briefly for some cream-filled chocolate cupcakes that to our delight were called Ho-Ho's, we made it over to Deep Cove and began our climb shortly after 8:00 am fully gassed up. It was super fun doing the big climb with Shaft since that's one thing we've never done together to date. Shaft was quick out of the gates and left me running out of gears trailing behind...he kept muttering something about an extra Ho-Ho that I wasn't able to get but I buried my head and pulled back onto his wheel.

Over the next 11 km we kept the pace high trading leads and in 45:30 we were standing on top of Seymour, basking in the glorious early morning sunshine and marvelling at the always-impressive Mt. Baker to the south. After briefly discussing how amazing Vancouver is, Shaft graciously lent me his vest to that I could be warm while he froze on the way down...thanks Max! On the way down I had a stroke of genius and decided that we would stop at the base of the climb to enjoy a cappuccino and a small snack to top up the tanks.

So there we were, doing our very best imitation of famous Italian cyclists adored by the tifosi, sipping cappuccino and nibbling a muffin. After finishing our beverages and watching our friend Henry the crow clean up some crumbs left by some sloppy North Americans (us being more refined Europeans) we remounted our steeds and continued forth to complete teh North Van Hills Route that was originally conceived by our other brother, Big T.

After adding on a last stinger by climbing up Capilano Rd. to the base of the Grouse Grind, we finally turned home and joined up with the ladies.

What a ride...beautiful sunshine, and riding 100 km with your best friend; doesn't get much better! Thanks Max!

Drill-it-itis

So last Friday Cam and Roanne came up to visit with us before heading back down to Bellingham on Sunday for the 2009 Ski to Sea race.

They arrived a little later than anticipated due to the ugly traffic of the George Massey Tunnel, but with eager anticipation we were pretty much ready to head out the door immediately, pedaling our ponies into the sunset.

The plan was to ride part way to Horseshoe Bay with the ladies and then start drilling it once we hit Marine Dr. The group up for contention for the points jersey on the day's stage was me, Shaft and Sizzle with super domestiques Rosie and Car adding valuable substance to the initial breakaway through Stanley Park.

We got over to West Van and the pace slowly ramped up on the way out to Whytecliff Park. We got to our destination, turned around and all of a sudden it was on like donkey kong! Trading pulls, Shaft, Sizzle and I blazed the road setting a blistering pace that no mortal could have withstood (please be aware that this is me getting carried away and in reality we were probably pushing roughly 30 km/h - har har har).

We ended up rolling back into Kits a little later than we were ordered to, with Shaft sweating bullets knowing he had an angry wizard to confront upon entry to our castle! Luckily the wizard's anger had been tempered by excellent pizza from Nat's Pizzeria so we were not transformed into toads, and lived to ride another day! Specifically the next morning at 6:30 am...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hump Day

Last night after missing Markezzy for an MTB ride, Sizzle and I made a game time decision to get back on the training boat and snap our legs back into action with an ascent of Cypress followed by the obligatory trip out to Horseshoe Bay.

My legs were definitely feeling sluggish from the previous night’s race and as we slowly began the ascent from Marine Dr. up onto Westmount I realized it was going to be a long, slow climb.

We got up to the base of Cypress Rd. and began the climb, quickly working past two Glottman Simpson fellas, one of whom tagged onto us as we rode by. He had a quirky riding style where he would ride neck and neck with us, and then punch the accelerator until he was about 50 ft. up the road. He would then slowly get dragged back, suck in uncomfortably close on my right for some time before repeating steps 1 to 3.

By the end of the 1st switchback my legs had come alive and I was actually feeling pretty good. Sizzle was putting in a great showing also, losing some ground periodically but always digging deeper and raising his pace to come back strong!

Another few hundred meters saw us lose our GS teammate (who Sizzle had determined by then was a nice fellow and just enjoyed a little friendly competition during his training rides…don’t we all?) and continue up to the snow line.

After we summitted with Sizzle breathing fire down my neck, we turned around, descended like il falco and wound our way down through the subdivision back onto Marine Dr. I think this was maybe the most fun ride out to Whytecliff I’ve done so far…we probably weren’t going very fast but it felt like we were pummeling the pedals with the strength of Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain combined! The hills felt like speed bumps and the descents felt faster than fast…SO AWESOME!

After about three and a half hours in the saddle we made our way back to Sizzle’s place where we toasted a great ride with a pint of chocolate milk…cheers!

Tonight’s a rest night and then it’s another climbing stage tomorrow with a special guest appearance by Utah’s climbing sensation, The Shaft! WooHOO!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Criterium Internationale

Last night we descended upon UBC to race bikes and see who was fastest...what better way to spend a nice Tuesday evening.

We had a bigger contingent this week with Sizzle and Martin getting into the mix, and then to our delight, who do we see up there but none other than the illustrious Johnny Markez, fresh from Slovenia and doing the RAS 2009! Awesome! I got even more psyched when Markezzy delivered the news that we'd be racing together in Cat. 4...this was bound to be a quick race now.

The horn went off for KC's and Mart's race and they filed onto the course. After a few laps of feeling things out (this was their first crit) they steadily moved up through the field unti they were consistently coming around in the top 8 guys. With a few laps to go they jumped off the front as an attack went and next thing you know they were sprinting across the line with Sizzle snatching 5th and Martin grabbing the 6th spot! Great finishes for their first race...nice work boys!

At this point Markez and I were shivering on the start line but soon enough they sent us off in hot pursuit of the Cat. 3 fellas about a minute up the road. The first few laps were pretty mellow and then part way up the incline I got onto the front and started upping the tempo a little...through the corner and onto the top flat now when I feel a big paw patting my back and sure enough there's Markez the Machine slotting in on the front with his pistons saying "If you want to win this race, get on THIS wheel" (in Phil Ligget's voice of course). It was so awesome! I tucked down in John's draft and looked down at his wheel and in slow motion saw the chain start it's journey downshifting on his rear cassette, 'clunk....clunk....clunk'. I thought to myself, "oh man....it's ON!" Then Markezzy started drilling it! We swapped pulls for about two and a half to three laps with him taking the much longer, stronger ones but unfortunately the group was on our wheel so we didn't get away but hopefully dished out some pain in the process.

The preme sprint came and went and then with about two and quarter laps to go, two Glottman-Simpson boys jumped off the front together and I worked to get up to them through the bottom corner. As I approached the second guys wheel, the first guy sat up and swung off, and then the second guy kind of sat up also. With a quick glance back I noticed that I had about 20 feet or so on the group and these two yahoos didn't look in the mood to chase anything down so I pinned it between them. When I looked back half way up the incline I had a decent gap on the field with two laps to go. With Markezzy blocking back in the group, I put my head down and buried the hatchet. One lap to go, still got a gap, see if I can make it...half a lap, still got the gap, wow this may actually work. Come through the second last corner and their definitely closing now...through the last corner, out of the saddle and BOOM, Glottman-Simpson smokes by me like I'm standing still but Markezzy graciously gives me 2nd and takes 3rd for himself.

What an awesome race! Thanks for the pulls Markez and we'll do it again next week boys!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ore Crusher 2009

This past weekend played host to the 2009 Ore Crusher mountain bike race in Squamish and myself, Sizzle, Martin, Stu and Churchy all lined up at the start to test our fitness and bike handling prowess.

The gun went off and we ran through the Le Mans style start to our bikes and then we were off. Martin had a superb start, I believe leading our age group into the trails and riding strong. The first few laps went well and for the first time this year I really felt like I was riding well on both the double track and the more techincal single track sections which was a really nice feeling! Usually, and I guess it's from the increased amount of road cycling I've done over the last few years, I start strong and then when it gets technical, people reel me back in and make up the time on me there. However, this race I was still catching people through the technical sections so I was really thrilled with that.

Unfortunately I got a flat on the third lap which sucked but to be honest it didn't matter that much since I felt like I was racing so well...I was still really happy in the end. I was also extremely impressed with another thing, and that was the level of class of so many of the racers. Obviously as each of my friends went flying by they all queried whether I was ok and had everything I needed, but the number of strangers that asked the same thing was stunning! I think it was even more evident to me because of the experiences I had at the road race in Seattle with Cam the previous weekend, where many riders (Cat. 4) apparently thought that they were going to get picked up by a pro team and were being obnoxious in the peloton swearing, shouting orders and elbowing others...what a joke.

One person in particular exhibited what I thought was top-notch class and that was the race winner, Rocky Mountain's Martin Lazarski. He lapped me right before we dove into some downhill single track and instead of barking at me to move aside, he politely requested if he could pass before we got into the single track. Of course I moved over and slowed and as he passed, I recognized him and shouted encouragement...he moved so fluidly over the natural obstacles on the trail, it was no different than watching a rock climber on a well rehearsed route or a dancer performing a choreographed routine to perfection. Well done Marty and congrats on a well deserved win!

Also huge congrats to Sizzle, Stuey, Mart, Megan and Churchy for excellent races...Sizzle came in 5th in his age category and Megan destroyed her competition by 18 minutes I think! Also a special thanks to Stu who was basically getting off his bike to get in there and start helping me fix my flat until I told him repeatedly to hurry up and keep racing! Har har har, very cool...

Next up is the Test of Metal and I think this race fuelled the fire for uping the ante; I think we're going to see some good results on June 20th...

The Real Italian Heroes

Mom and Dad Cupido have been here for the past 5 days and it's been a real bonanza of fun! We've gotten out on some amazing bike rides together both for fitness and for cruising, done a mountain bike race in Squamish, looked at some nice real estate, eaten some seriously good food, and enjoyed some seriously good laughs together.

I've been blessed with the best parents in law that were ever pushed out of the press...they're so amazing! Imagine the kindest, most generous, thoughtful, fun, and non-intrusive people you can and you'll start coming close to understanding who they are. Oh, and did I mention they're Italian through and through? Bene...molto bene.

Normally I would want to spend a long weekend doing something awesome like climbing or mountain biking but not when the Real Italian Heroes are in town...it's always so easy to have them and a true joy to spend time around they're contagiously upbeat personalities. Thanks for an awesome few days Mom and Dad and we look forward to the next rendevous!

Tuesday Night Lights

So it was the first Tuesday night crit up at UBC this past week and it was awesome! Road racing is so stinkin' fun it gets my heart pumping like crazy just thinking about soloing off the front in a late-in-the-race bid for victory...BAM!!

The race went really well and although I didn't place well at all (maybe even close to last) I found out what I wanted to that is my fitness is pretty good for the group we raced with and I got more comfortable riding fast in a tight group through some of the corners. I spent a fair bit of time (too much according to my team director - har har har) on the front, but it felt good because we ended up catching the Cat. 3 group that started the race 1 minute ahead of our Cat. 4 group...Noice! As we came firing through the last corner and the sprint began, both of my legs seized up with cramp so it wa pretty evident that I had gotten my desired workout in only a half hour of racing...ha ha.

Anyways, hopefully with more experience and smarter riding I can look for a top ten placing over the next few weeks' races. I think we may have a few more takers for this week's race also which should be super fun; Stuey, Sizzle and Churchy are all looking to make their debut on teh Tuesday Night World Championships racing circuit! Give'em hell boys!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Supersonic Seattle

This weekend Carla and I made the short road trip down to Seattle to visit my brother Max and his lovely wife Rosie. Shortlisted for the weekend plans were a Saturday morning road race (to be my first ever), a Sunday road ride around Mercer Island and in between pedalling around like maniacs, we wanted to fit in some good quality Italian cuisine.

I'm happy to report that we handily accomplished all we set out to, and it was an awesome weekend. Cam ended up doing really well in the race, ducking into the top ten with a 9th place finish, even after getting held up in a crash with about 5 km to go. Not being as familiar with crash protocol, I ended up losing a bit more time so my race was pretty much over after that. Nonetheless it was a great experience in learning that positioning and timing is everything in a race like that.

After the race we enjoyed a relaxing walk down to Pike's Place market in the beautiful weather.

Sunday morning we got up and decided to do the Mwercer Island circuit on our bikes which was amazing...the ladies joined up for the first loop and hten Sahft and I slotted into a paceline and started driving the Island Locomotive. It was so fun to just bury your head and fly through the twists and turns knowing that your teammate will pull through at just the right time to prevent your legs from exploding...AWESOME!!!

Following the ride we enjoyed a quesadilla lunch before heading home to Vancouver Sunday evening. All in all a superb weekend road trip made even sweeter by hanging out with Shaft and Rosie again! Thanks for having us guys...

Friday, May 8, 2009

RAS Update #2

After over 16 hours of gruelling racing, including riding straight through the night, our man Johnny Markez has been forced to withdraw from the race, being too tired to continue.

I don't even want to know what his body feels like if Markezzy is saying he's too tired to ride.

This man is the epitomy of physical and mental toughness. A month or two ago on a ride we were talking about this race and in John's classic understated style he mentioned with a mischievious grin on his face that he simply wanted to go over there and give the big dogs something to think about...AWESOME! Johnny we salute you and your great ride in the RAS 2009!

This photo says it all:

John Markez crushing snails and chasing down Jure Robic in RAS 2009

RAS Update

A direct quote from website for DOS-RAS Extreme after just over 8 hours of racing:

"John Markez is holding on surprisingly well and is behind Robic. Baloh is behind Slovenian/Canadian Markez."

Nice work Johnny!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

John "The Machine" Markez

John Markez is a certified machine...he entered the 2009 RAS (Race Around Slovenia) as a last minute decision after encountering numerous logistical setbacks; and yet after almost 8 hours of racing is currently in 2nd place on the road. The only person in front of him is fellow Slovenian (and family friend) Jure Robic who just happens to have won the RAAM (Race Across America) no less than four times (2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008).

Markezzy is the most humble, generous person I know and can also suffer on a bike better than anyone I know.

John Markez is a certified machine.

Good luck over the next forty-some-odd hours Markezzy...ride safe, ride strong, sleep is overrated and we're rooting for you like crazy dude!

Trail Building, XC MTB Racing and NEW BIKE DAY!!!

Ok, sorry I ahven't posted anything since last Saturday but I've been a bit busy lately...Sunday we did a short ride on Mt. Fromme as my first ride on the Shore of 2009; super fun...a little shaky at first but super fun!

Monday, Sizzle dragged me out to Whytecliff on our road bikes and to our sur surprise we beat the rain and snuck home dry.

Tuesday morning I drove up to Squamish to fulfill my 2 days of trail building obligations in order to gain entrance into the 2009 Test of Metal mountin bike race. Although the trail we were constructing wasn't built exactly as I would have done if I were directing it, it was still an interesting experience and nice to be out in the fresh air all day for both Tuesday and Wednesday. As another plus, I got to hammer out two awesome XC rides up there after work both days. Tuesday after work I rode a trail called Meet yer Maker and then a whole bunch of the Test course, followed by Wednesday when I went and rode this new trail called Word of Mouth, and although my lack of front brakes slightly took away from the experience, it was still mind-numbing! The quality of trails in Squamish is insane...

And this brings us to today...NEW BIKE DAY!!! I am now the (extremely) proud new owner of a 2009 Specialized Tarmac road bike after a shining 8 year career on the Highlighter (Neon yellow, 2000 Giant TCR2) which is now being put into semi-retirement and shall be listed next week on Craigslist Vancouver if you're in the market for a used road bike.

This weekend holds a visit to Seattle to see the big Shaft and his lovely wife Rosie. Also exciting is that my inaugural ride on my new bike is also going to be my debut road racing right alongside my main Max! BaBOOM! Let's get in some breaks Max and string it out...WooooHOO!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Reason...

Today we confirmed yet another reason why the real estate costs what it does in Vancouver...it's proximity to the Sunshine Coast and the amazing single track there!

This morning came fast and I was up at 5:00am in order the catch the Bookbinder Bullet Train that was headed to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and then onto the Sunshine Coast for a day of gorging on some legendary "swoopy" trails. Churchy is now an expert on the definition of swoop so if you're not familiar with it, check with him next time you run into him on the trails.

The train left on time, we made the ferry and by 8:30 we were directed by our sleepy celebrity guide into the parking pullout at the trailhead. Our group was eight strong and chocked full of talent including Stu, Churchy, Sean "the snowman", Mart, Erik, Chuck and Megan.

After Stuey outsmarted Erik's attempt to sideline several members of the team (including himself) by locking the bikes (including his) to his rack and throwing away the key, we were sorted and ready to sink our teeth into the platter.

We began by climbing up an amazing trail that we would later descend like heat seaking missiles...amazing! On our way up the logging roads we had a chance to inspect some of the woodwork that was featured in Ben Boyko's section from the film Kranked 6...unbelievable.

After The Snowman took us on a great adventure through the Athabasca Icefields and we made it back to more a temperate environment, we decided that it would be best to launch into some of the local DH trails (much to Churchy's delight, who was by now showing the intial signs of depression from not having taken his prescribed dose of gap jumps for the day yet).

The train took off and over the rattling of chains and wheels, you could hear about 8 different voices hooting and hollering with delight as we pinned it through the bermed corners and floated over the soft, loamy dips and rises.

After hitting a few more amazing trails, and Stu conceding that he was too badass for his own bike after he snapped the rear suspension pivot by hitting a _____ ft. gap jump (Stuey, you get to fill in that blank :0 ) we finally ended up at a section of stunts that kept you off the ground and up on woodwork for well over a couple hundred feet! There were skinnies, log rides, teeter totters, triple teeter totters and ramps, all for your entertainment. A few crashes and lots of laughs later, we were through with special note going out to great performances on the stunts by Mart, Erik, Churchy and Megan...nice work dudes!

Another few fast sections of trail led us back down to the car where Stu had graciously waited for us and kept the Bullet Train boiler topped up with coal, ready to jump back into town for some post-ride grub before catching the ferry back to Vancouver.

A huge thanks goes out to Sean again for guiding us through the labyrinth of trails in the
Roberts Creek area...he was up 'til the wee hours of the morning sampling and resampling tequila and still managed to pull through as a superb tour guide. Big up!

Also deserving special mention is Sizzle, who was unable to join us today but not wanting to be outdone, tackled and completed the incredible double crown of Vancouver: the twin peaks of Seymour and Cypress! Nice work ma' main man...I think the rest of us have our work cut out for us this week.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Don't ask me what a hot tub time machine is 'cause I don't know. Apparently John Cusack does though, because he's filming one on the top of Mt. Seymour right now.

Thursday after work Stu and I pedalled out of Kits, across the Lion's Gate into North Van and also into the worst traffic I've ever ridden through. I almost got doored, I got cut off by some idiot that thought it was a good idea to start driving in the bicycle lane, Stu got cut off at least once, and then I took a face full of windshield washer fluid.

Finally we made it to MEC where we were to meet Martin and Simon who unfortunately sustained a flat tire, so after a brief telecon we decided we'd rendevous at the base of Seymour.

After checking out Deep Cove, Stu and I headed back over to Seymour and began turning the gears up the initial steep slopes. We soon saw Mart and Simon the Bruce up ahead and pedalled up to them. After the formalities were dispensed with, the pace started whipping up...the goal: make it to the top in less than 49 min. The switchbacks fell away and as I drained my tank across the line I checked the clock and was PSYCHED! 44:30 was the final time, with Stu firing up moments later in 46:25...! Stu's time was pretty crazy considering a few things: 1) It was only 25 sec. slower than my fastest climb at the end of last year which I thought I may never even repeat, and 2) He had to fully stop and fasten his helmet to his bars before continuing to drill it and reel me back in. Nice work Bookie!

Martin and Simon arrived shortly thereafter, both putting in handsome early season efforts on the big climb.

We all froze on the way down, but if it hadn't been for Martin and Stu's ingenuity in finding garbage bags to shove downt the fronts of our jerseys, it would have been a lot worse...thanks fellas!

Anyways, we parted ways with Mart and Simon at the Second Narrows Bridge and 88 km later with two pairs of spent legs, we hobbled back into Kits to watch the Friday night lights at the beach as the sun set on another beautiful week in Vancouver.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rest days are the best days

Yesterday was a much needed rest day from 6 days in a row of riding over 350 km, not including the 4 hr blitz through Squamish single track on our mounatin bikes on Saturday.

Today on the ride in to work my legs felt pretty good so I'm really looking forward to tonight's ride: another ascent of Mt. Seymour! Awesome...it's definitely going to be a sufferfest as Martin and Stu are in for sure and the line has been cast out to Markezzy. We'll see if he bites. He's preparing right now for a huge race across Slovenia, his motherland, where he'll race non-stop across the country for likely around 40 hours straight...gah?!

Anyways, we'll see how it goes since I'll be looking to beat my previous time of 49 min. and will have a couple greyhounds to drive the pace.

Enjoy the weather out there today...first day of the year where I rode in to work with no vest or jacket; Amazing! Summer's coming...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arson

Just a quick update...

Last night Stu, Erik and I got out for a nice ride in the beautiful weather that we've been so lucky to have all spring so far. It would seem that the May flowers don't actually need the April showers after all...

The plan was to climb Cypress and then finish with Whytecliff. We hit Cypress and slowly ramped it up with Erik putting in a superb showing for the limited miles he's spent on his road bike thus far in the 2009 season. Nice work Erik!

After rounding the second switchback and Stu calling out some encouragement, we started punching it up the second to last straightaway. It was at this point that I had to accuse Stu of arson becaused my legs were torched. I was panting for breath as he was casually experimenting with seating position and asking me really great questions that went sort of like this:

Stu: "Hey Fras, where are you on your seat?"

Fras: "Uhhh...gasp, gasp...ummm, in the middle?...gasp!"

Stu: "Oh interesting...I find I can get more power when I'm further back."

Fras: "....pant...cool...gasp, cough, gasp..."

All of this was followed by Stu calmly raising the pace one notch higher...har har har.

That was the hardest climb I've done so far this year so that was awesome. On our way back we busted out to Whytecliff and back keeping the pace relatively high and both sprinting hard for Ambleside on the way home. Total mileage: 95 km...nice ride boys!

Rest day today and much needed...looking forward to hanging with my sweety.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cappuccino vs. Scotch

On my 9 year quest to become a thoroughbred Italian, I've never felt so close as I did this past weekend. Some background; I never drink coffee, and frankly don't enjoy the taste of it at all. To me a cup of coffee is like a glass of fine scotch: everyone seems to love it but you don't know why, because it tastes funny and definitely does not get smoother the more you drink! ;)

That being said, no guts no glory; so Friday evening I came out of the gates with all guns firing and downed a double espresso with Markezzy while we enjoyed the twilight views north from Horseshoe Bay. Not wanting my espresso debut to be a one hit wonder, I followed up with a well-timed cappuccino on the Steveston waterfront. So that's why I'm feeling pleased as punch with my "viva italia" display of spirit this weekend, and it also brings me to recount Sunday's excellent adventure.

The ponies were saddled up at 12:30 at the Bookbinder Ranch and off we went for a brisk afternoon trot. Representing the gentlemen were Ty, Stu and myself. The ladies came through with a lovely contingent comprising Justine, Amy, Tam and Car. Justine steered us through Richmond without incident and then we were onto the beautiful, quiet roads heading to Steveston.

We made the stop for the ladies' obligatory treat and then began the soft-pedal back to Kits when BAM! Bookie was off the front as Tam's domestique. Tam obviously felt she had the legs to win the intermediate sprint and told Stu to dig in. Stu, knowing better than to contest, buried the hatchet and it was go-time! Luckily I had Ty with me to share the work and we neutralized the attack with some effort.

Up the road we ran into some damsels in distress who were looking somewhat befuddled with one of their bike wheels in their hands and scratching their heads. I seized the opportuniy to demonstate my chivalry, and offered a hand. A moment later I had quickly and effortlessly overfilled and exploded the new tube, wasted their only CO2 cartridge and wished them well with their new, equally difficult but somewhat different situation! To my utter disbelief, these events somehow prompted one of the girls to smile, offer me her hand and inform me her name was Kat. Inside my head: "What the?! Excellent work Mr. Charles; although you've just confirmed you're an idiot, it would appear you've still got it ma' man!" Har har har...

After getting the Glottman-Simpson squad sorted we wished them well and then hammered to reel back the girls who had managed to sneak away in the midst of the mayhem.

After the ride was finished, that evening Stu and Tam invited everyone over for an amazing BBQ which was super fun and an excellent way to cap a perfect weekend. A huge thanks to Tam and Stu for generously opening their doors and hosting as they always seem to do...cheers guys!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Squamish Gold

"Wow" is the one word to aptly describe today's escapades.

I woke up this morning at 6:20 am, rose to fill the thundermug and then tried in vain to get some more shut-eye. I got up at 6:30 and started getting sorted for the ride on Squamish's hallowed single track. Stu called me around 8:00 and informed me that he too had gotten so wound up about today's ride that he had to get up at 6:30 am, and we were set to leave his place at 8:50am.

I rode my bike over to meet up and as I got there, Churchy rolled up in style and we piled the bikes onto Stu's truck. It seems that the exercise bug bit almost everyone we knew since as we were leaving, Tammy, Amy and Kate were going for a run and then we passed Stu's sis Justine and Alex on their way up to Squamish for a girls rip trip on the trails. Sick!

After enjoying one panoramic view after another on the drive up, we pulled into Brennan Rec Centre ready to unload (in more ways than one hey Stu...har har har). We met up with T-bone Malone and Ricky Bobby as well as Megan, the Australian winged assassin. This girl can seriously rip and it was nice to break up the usual testosterone-drenched atmospshere with a douse of femininity. (In case you're wondering, T-bone provided that douse of femininity...har har har, oh man that was a terrific joke).

Stu and Churchy trading scathing insults about who would cramp first

Churchy showing off his award-winning racing garb

So anyways, the wheels began rolling and we were off following the Test of Metal course up to Alice Lake, across the coveted 4 Lakes Trail, around Deadman's Loop, up the Rock n' Roll bypass, and then screaming through the banked turns of Rob's and Cliff's corners with Churchy breathing fire down my neck!

Here we decided to pull a U-ey and head across to some upper trails...little did we know that Stuey had no idea where he was going (with me in full support of all wrong turns with conviction that yes, this was definitely the correct way - har har har) but still eventually got us to where we needed to go. And what would any mtb ride be without a special guest apperance by the Northshore's golden child, Matty "The Professor" Hunsberger. Matty is fondly known by all his close friends as the professor due to his uncanny ability to school everyone on really hard, fast DH trails. Actually I don't think anyone calls him that, but I think I may start now.

So after a group collaboration with Matt, it was decided that we would pedal up the road for another 25 min and try out a new trail that had recently been opened by a bunch of locals who were adamant that its location be kept secret from folks like us; as Stu aptly put it, the “city-ots”. This trail ended up being one of the most insane rides I’ve ever tried and was definitely the highlight of the ride for me...thanks Matty!

After that we began to wind back down the classic Pseudo Tsuga and after some deliberation about the enticing possibility of extending our ride for another 2 to 3 hrs, gradually made it back to Brennan Park psyched out of our faces about having had such a great ride on such a gorgeous day. We wrapped ‘er up with some burgers, beers and yam fries at the Squamish brew pub and chased that with some world-class gelato to celebrate striking gold in Squamish. I can’t believe we’re only a month into spring and already having this much fun...

Final note; ride of the day goes to Ty "the Up and Comer" Hunsberger hands down. Tyler's improving so much from ride to ride that I think we all might have something to worry about by the time the Test of Metal rolls around. Good job Berger!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Molto Bene

So this week ended up rounding out quite nicely with some great rides; one solo endeavour and one team effort.

Thursday after work I decided that I would try and do the ride out to Whytecliff Park and back in a time trial format where I would would just try and give it everything for the whole ride and see wht kind of speed I could average by the end of 60 km. All last year I had not been able to make an average of 30 km/h except for once near the end of the season where I surprised myself and had a "superman" ride and busted out 31.5 km/h. Well last night I went for it for the first time this season and nailed 31.1 km/h so I was proper psyched with that. The UBC Tuesday night crits start in about 11 days so I'm pretty excited to see where my fitness is at in a good race scenario.

Anyways, tonight the goal was to do a 100 km ride and my great friend Markez showed up to escort me through it. It was 103 km and 3 hrs 58 min of super fun; we went easy enough to afford conversation an dgood laughs for almost 4 hours, hard enough that my legs were shot by the end, and took a break in Horseshoe Bay just long enough for me to experience my first double espresso...MOLTO BENE!!!

Hopefully my legs aren't too burned by tomorrow morning as we've got a super moutain bike ride planned for up in Squamish tomorrow. Stu's house at 8:50am sharp...be there or the train leaves Kits withoutcha!