Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ibeezy Fo Sheezy

Just got back from trying Ibiza, my new project. It's a 5 star 13a up at Chek at the Pleasure Dome crag and it is AWESOME! I kind of got spanked by it first time up but then after not too much rest I got back on on top rope and essentially two-hanged it. I say essentially because I kind of gave up on the last move to the anchors which isn't that hard but I was kind of tired today after 5 hrs of MTB riding in Squamish yesterday, so I just kind of quit there - har har har. I would say it's a short and hard power endurance route and basically feels like 3 boulder problems, with each separated by a decent hold that you end up wishing were just a bit bigger so you could rest on them. Alas, instead I'll just need to up my fitness...

Anyways, I'm happy with how it went and now that I know the moves I can start putting my back into it and try to get'er done. While there I ran up to the Sport Lounge and checked out Happy Hour, 13a and Special Forces Club, 13b. Both look rad and if I can find someone that is into trying them I think I'll try them after I finish up with Ibiza.

Supposed to rain tomorrow in Van and Squamish but I may go and check out a trail on Seymour that I was told about but have never ridden...sounds pretty cool though, lots of small to medium jumps; I like.

Ciao

Squamish Days

Yesterday morning I went in to work for 4 hours and then, since the weather was looking so good, I decided I had better take advantage of it. I rode home, loaded my SX Trail onto the car and headed up to the land of milk and honey. My good friend Scott Tasaka was going climbing up at Chek and I almost cracked and joined him but I could tell in my heart of hearts that the day should be spent exploring established DH trails I had never seen before.

The long and the short of it is that I rode for 4 hours, kind of bonked and got a dehydration headache, packed up and went to Subway to eat something, then drove back out to another area and rode for another hour. It was totally awesome! What I'll do here is list the trails I rode and then give a brief description and how I thought they were.

Half Nelson - I guess this a new machine-built trail that has been established in a effort to create a new trail that has lots of flow to it. I was a bit stale on it...not to say it's bad but a) I heard it cost ~ $50,000 to put in; b) For being a really smooth trail, every time I heard someone exiting out to where I had parked my car I thought they were crashing for all the racket their bikes were making; and c) maybe I just suck at these sort of jumpy trails and prefer more technical trails. Anyways, it's definitely worth checking out but I doubt I would take it down again if I pedaled up there...I'd probably go for Angry Midget instead.

Cortez Planks - Awesome. I think this is an older trail, the bottom of which someone had fixed up a year or two ago and now they've given the top a face lift too. It is super fun! You drop in, hit a small gap, roll over too A-frames and then launch a 4 ft drop before getting into a series of ladder bridges which are really well built and super fun. A short blast but well worth it...highly recommended!

Lowdown - This trail was only pretty good I would say. It's more of an XC trail so on a DH bike it isn't too exciting. It would be a lot more fun on a trail bike like a Trance or a Stumpy I think. There are some big stunts remaining at the bottom of the top section but it doesn't look like anyone rides them much anymore.

Home Brew - This trail is sick! It has also been updated I believe and I didn't have the guts to ride the first three big features but it's my goal by the end of the season to hit it. First you hit a 6 ft wooden step down gap, which shoots you into a crazy kicker gap, which sends you flying off a drop gap that you really have to be cooking for. After that you hit two log rides with drops off the ends which aren't too tough and pretty fun. The second one sends you booking into...

Expecting to Fly - Another awesome trail on which I bypassed the three big gappers. First you hit a small drop gap, then get onto a bridge system that lets you ride above the slash (it's in a logging cut block), and then you hit three step-down gaps all in the 6 to 10 ft range I think. I also want to try and tick this one off by the end of the season this year.

Ditch Pig - I rode all the way up past Angry Midget looking for the entrance to this one. I think I found it based on the 17ft step-down gap I was standing on top of but it sure doesn't look to me like anyone rides it anymore so I gave it a pass. Of note also, the lower section of Ditch Pig (below the Ring Creek FSR) is out of commission also, but it looks like people are still riding out the bottom of the upper section still so there must be some other access point other than the original start to the trail that I need to go check out.

One Man's Garbage - I ended up taking this one down since Ditch Pig looked so unridden. The top section wasn't too bad...nothing special I didn't think, and then the two lower sections are waaay overgrown. There was a trail coming into the top of OMG that wasn't shown on the map so I think people ride the top section of OMG as the exit to that upper trail and then take the double track back down to the Ring Creek FSR and forgo riding the lower parts of OMG.

This is where I broke for some grub. After this I headed back over to park at the top of Perth Drive in the Cul de Sac. I rode up and checked out a few trails...

Highway to Hell - Doesn't look like anyone rides this one anymore either...and it is truly insane; huge step ups, drops, gaps...you name it it's got and they're all bigger and sketchier than you want. This was basically a hike for me and no, I don't mean it was easy...like literally, I walked my bike down the whole thing - ha ha.

Gouranga - This one was pretty fun...steeper, technical upper section that spits you into a faster lower section. A very short ride also though.

A few interesting things I learned was that new school Squamish trails are rated very differently than old school ones. A newer double black diamond usually means that there are some stunts and jumps on it but it can be very doable. The single blacks are usually just harder XC trails. For the older trails, single blacks are actually tough DH trails that I find challenging, and the older double blacks are totally insane with huge rickety old stunts and technically challenging jumps that have tough run-ups, run-outs or both. Also, I learned that just because it's on the new map, it doesn't mean that people still ride it and it will be in good repair.

Alrighty, going to try to get out climbing today. Oh yeah, I also just sent my project about a week ago, called Heifer Down. It's a good 12d on the Circus Wall up at Chek Canyon...a short route but pretty full on the whole way to the chains.

Ciao

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roberts Creek Bonanza!

This past weekend we went over to the sunshine coast for a nice getaway with our good friend Deb and her husband John who now live in Australia, and our good friends Tammy and Stu and another great couple, Marisha and Mike. We rented a nice little rancher style house to stay in for a few days while enjoying the slow pace of life outside of hectic Vancouver (not).

Stu and I ahd been tuning up our riding skills recently with a flurry of descents down some of Cypress Mountain's better known classics like Roach Hit, Roach Clip, 5th Horseman and Sexboy. Feeling primed, we launched into the weekend with a whole crew of awesome riders and friends comprising the Bergers (Matty, AJ and Tyrone), the lovely Samantha, Booky, myself and Deb's hubby John (who had never really ridden a downhill bike, but you would never have known by the way the attacked the trails grimacing to stay glued on our wheels...Nice work Gibo!).

AJ and Matty were absolutely slaying the trails with AJ lofting a solid 15 footer off a skinny on the trail Janet's Jungle and Matty taking the left line for only a slightly smaller 8 foot drop. Nice work you two! This was Tyrone's first day back in the saddle after a nasty ski accident ended with a broken clavicle this past winter and he surprised us all with his eagerness to get back up to speed by hitting some of the drops by the end of the day. I drew my inspiration for the day from Booky whose ability seems to be a great match for my own and just following him off some of the jumps and drops got my heart pumping a few beats faster.

Thanks to AJ, we were able to use his new 1980's Ford F250 monster to shuttle and we managed to get in a solid 6 runs before retiring back to the seaside hamlet for some evening relaxation.

Here are a few pics from the festivities and we're pretty psyched to go back again with the crew and run a few more laps!

Ciao!

Wishing I hadn't forgotten my knee pads on Mach Chicken


Stu blending in with the scenery on Mach Chicken


Carefully stepping over the log gap on lower Mach Chicken


Stu dropping bombs on Janet's Jungle


On the edge on Janet's Jungle


Off the edge on Janet's Jungle


video

Hitting the DNA gaps with Stu

Monday, May 3, 2010

Out with winter and in with Spring

Two weekends ago myself, Cam and Markez ushered out Old Man Winter and had one last hurrah by doing the coveted Spearhead Traverse in a day. Cam is a far better writer than myself and clearly has a better memory so if you're interested in reading a trip report, check out his blog The Adventures of Cameron Charles. Thanks for the great and extensive write up Shaft!

When you give winter the boot out the backdoor, you better have something to replace him with. Unfortunately what showed up in Vancouver as the next act has born only a fleeting resemblance to our beloved Mrs. Springtime for the past few weeks. The weather has been less than optimal so far this spring but the days that have been nice have allowed a few great sessions of bouldering and sport climbing. The weekend before doing the Spearhead Traverse, I was lucky to get out to a new (for me) area up in Squamish known as The Hatchery with a good friend who has since returned to the motherland after a sojourn to Ontario where we met. His name is Scott Tasaka and he is a crusher of rocks...don't let him near your project as he'll likely rip off all the holds in unbridled passion. Scott is likely the best technical climber I've known personally and has the deepest bucket of psyche you'll ever dip into so needless to say I jump at the opportunity to get out on rock with him. We also met up with guidebook author extraordinaire, Marc Bourdon and his wife Pam; two more amazing climbers and very genuine people.

Marc spent most of the day shooting photos for his new edition of the Squamish Bouldering guidebook to be released, as I understand, in June of this year, while Scott, Pam and I spent most of the day wrestling pebbles. Marc was kind enough to send along a few cool photos he snapped of me and also let me post them here. Check out Marc's website Quickdraw Publications for the release of the new guidebook and to see what other exciting things he has coming out.


Fighting gravity on G-Force Accelerator, V8 - The Hatchery, Squamish



Flashing the beautiful Phantom Menace, V6 - The Hatchery, Squamish

Ciao for now!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good news bad news good news...

The Good News...

The weather has been stellar in Vancouver recently which has been welcome change from the crap weather we've been having nearly the whole spring so far. Last year I had been out climbing in Squamish more times by the end of the first weekend in March than I have in total so far this year...AHHH!!?! But, not to worry since this trend is rapidly changing for the better. Last week I was climbing for 4 of the 5 weeknights...ahhhhh, that's better!

So on Wednesday the 14th I made my first midweek trip up to Squamish with my good friend Scott Tasaka who has recently moved back to the Promised Land, where he grew up. We went up with a penchant for an evening of bouldering and since Scott's itinerary was wide open void of any active projects, he graciously let me drive the program. After a speedy and efficient warm-up, we hit my current project Defender of the Faith with the hopes that we would find a few extra pads under the Gibb's Cave boulder. Unfortunately the trusty Squamish locals that seem to store their pads there in teh spring weren't so trustworthy that day as there were no pads in sight. Bummer! I wasn't comfortable really going for it with only 2 pads so we quickly went with the back-up plan of going to try Velcro, V10 since it was another problem I was interested in trying some more as I had spent a few tries on it previously and thought it both looked awesome, and would climb awesome if I could ever unlock the moves.

Long story short, we posted up and the holds felt considerably worse than the previous time I had tried it; prognosis, bad. However, we both kept trying and we warmed up and eventually the holds felt a bit better and we were coming close to pulling onto the problem (har har, I know that sounds funny but it's probably the 2nd most difficult part). After another while of resting and revising foot beta, I completely surprised myself by actually touching the 2nd hold?! I yelped with delight and told Scott who got super excited and promptly announced the I was going to send it tonight and we weren't leaving until I did. Well apparently Scott can tell the future because after a short rest, I yarded on the starting holds and connected with the crimp in a fashion that said "what's the big deal?". It felt soooo good I couldn't believe it! After sketching a little on the topout, I managed to pull over the top with Scott's encouragement ringing loud in my head. Awesome!!! First project of 2010 down and by grade supposedly the hardest one on my list, however I know that Defender is (at least feels) much harder for me.

The Bad News...

Friday April 16th sometime between 7pm and 9:45pm my SX Trail got stolen off of our 3rd floor balcony. I think the most disconcerting thing about it for me is that it was definitely premeditated and the wanker had watched to see that my bike was out there, and then watched for us to leave for dinner. I really really wish we had come home and caught him stealing it...he would have been back on the ground floor very quickly, minus my bike.

The Good News...

The next day I went for an XC ride in Squamish with Martin and afterward we stopped by Corsa Cycles where my friend Adam works. I know Adam from back in Ontario where he distinguished himself as one the stronger climbers in Ontario at the time by putting up and repeating some of the hardest problems at the Niagara Glen. Anyways, I recited my tale to Adam and he was apologetic as any good bike enthusiast would be; however, he shared an interesting bit of information with me. Apparently about an hour before I had walked into the shop, another fellow had traded in his '08 SX TRail 2 for a road bike and Corsa was going to sell the SX as a used bike at a reasonable price. After checking with our insurance company, I called Adam tonight to tell him I'll bring up a deposit to hold the bike until the insurance money comes in. Nothing's set in stone but as of now it looks hopeful that I'll have my beloved SX Trail back very soon! Not the one that I rode with so much excitement as it introduced me to the legendary trails on the Northshore and the Whistler Bike Park, but an SX Trail nonetheless and with good fortune it will take me on many more adventures. The SX Trail saga continues!

So that makes twice as much good news as bad news...I can handle that. This was also a good test for me to not sweat the small stuff in life and I think I passed with flying colours.

Ciao amicos!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fromme Fever!!

I got out last Thursday and Friday on Mt. Fromme for some good DH riding and it was awesome! I've only been out a handful of times but I already feel as good as when I left off last year I think. I rode Ladies Only which has seen a ton of work done on it (thanks to Digger I heard) and then posted some laps on Bobsled, Floppy Bunny and Natural High as well as a new trail I found which is awesome! It's quite simple but in stark contrast to the more worn in trails it's all dirt and very flowy. It was pretty wet but when things dry out a bit it's going be a sweet-ass speed run to rip down and practice keeping speed through corners...FUN!!! It also has a rad looking drop on it that I'm trying to work up the courage to hit...it's about 6 ft down and you need to clear at least 6 ft of flat to make the tranny; not huge by any means but big enough for this youngster to think twice...ha ha.

Last Saturday I did an epic 5 hr XC ride up in Squamish that ranks among the best I've ever done with Martin. It was so amazing...we rode all new trails (for us) and our cheshire cat grins were still showing clear by the time we hit the car again in the late afternoon. Amazing day!

Sunday I wanted more so I arranged with my friend Scott Tasaka to hook up and do some climbing together since we haven't gotten together since he's moved back to Vancouver after a hiatus from living out here and being in Ontario where we originally met. It was amazing. The conditions, the problems and the atmosphere at the Hatchery were second to none and we thoroughly enjoyed a great day of climbing. I ended up doing a few classics which included Tai-Fighter V4, Phantom Menace V6 and G-Force Accelerator V8...all incredible problems that I would highly recommend!

Last night I got out to so some sport climbing in Lynn Valley wiht Markezzy and it was super fun...we only managed to get 3 routes in each before we had to beat the closing gate that would lock us in but still a great evening pulling on fun routes.

Tomorrow night is SQUAMISH with Scott again and I'm hoping to put in another effort on Defender of the Faith...not too sure what to expect but if everything lines up...I think you know what I'm thinking!

Will post an update Thursday about tomorrow's sesh.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oooooooh H2O!!!

Looks like rain in Vancity this weekend...no climbing for me :(

Last night I rode my commuter bike up to Cypress and checke dout some more of the Godman Creek boulders. It was pretty fun and although some of th elines were a little too high for no spot and no pad, I managed to find enough problems to be sufficiently tired by the time the light started waning around 7:30. It was a fun night that got me excited about heading up to Squamish after work mid-week once some drier weather mosies along...

I'm also starting to get pretty psyched on doing some multi-pitch gear climbing. I've been thinking about how much fun the whole day is when you just climb all day, even if the climbing isn't all that physically demanding. Two years ago I met my bro Cam in Utah for a week-long adventure series and for part of it we ended up in Red Rocks in Nevada and we did an 8 pitch route called Frogland Buttress, 5.8. Hooooooo MAN was it ever fun! It is definitely one of my fondest climbing trip memories so I'm thinking I need to have some more of those this season.

The plans:

1) The Chief, Ultimate Everything, 5.9+
2) The Chief, Angel's Crest, 5.10c
3) Mt. Stuart, Complete North Ridge, 5.8
4) Mt. Slesse, Northeast Buttress, 5.9




Mt. Stuart's North Ridge...awesome.


Mt. Slesse's Northeast Buttress...also awesome!

So there it is...those are my goals for trad climbing for the year. I think these will need to be preceded by a few days of doing some easier single pitch climbs in the Smokies to brush up my non-existent crack climbing technique. Man I wish I wasn't such a brutal slab and crack climber!

I was just thinking about how it's funny my blog is named "Of Bikes and Men" since all I ever blog about is climbing - har har har...oh well, I still think the name's cool.

Ciao

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Project Management

This past Saturday I managed to get up to Squamish again for the 3rd time this winter/spring (happy spring 2010 by the way!) and have at some of my objectives for this year. It was awesome as usual and this time I had the treat of meeting up with Tim and Matt and having some climbing partners.

I warmed up listening to some fresh beats on my Ipod and then headed over to try Kingswing with 30 min. left until I was supposed to meet up with Matt. I had tried this problem for the first time 2 weekends prior and it had proven the victor. That was not to be repeated and after about half a dozen tries I finally held the "king swing" and thrutched through the final moves to call it a send. Nice! Incidentally, on our way back past this problem, Tim showed me how to do the low start which feeds into Mindbender Low and Kingswing Low; and although I didn't quite connect it in the two tries I had on it, it definitely feels possible and will be a great problem to tackle when I find myself on a solo mission.

After Tim crushed a V6, four V7's and a V9 as part of his warm up (not bad for a guy recovering from a broken leg and hasn't really been climbing much for a few months eh?), I managed to convince him to spot me on Defender of the Faith, my current project. The funny thing was, out of curiosity Tim asked me where I was starting the problem from and I told him I was doing it as the book described it. He informed me that was in fact incorrect and that I needed to start matched on the lowest hold, which in retrospect makes way more sense since that way you can start with both feet on the ground. At first I was dismayed since the problem was already near my limit and adding a move where you have to campus your foot onto the starting hold and adding another hand move to the start didn't really seem to improve my prospects of sending it!

However, it turns out that the first move didn't prove difficult and I'll be much happier now when I actually send it. My progress resulted in making it to the last move twice and falling short of sticking the final hold on the big throw. Although I didn't manage to send, I was really happy with the progress and it feels like it could go in perhaps another couple sessions with some good conditions. Here's a video clip of some guy sending it from the way I was originally starting it...you can see how it's a bit awkward to get on the problem this way.




We spent the rest of the day mucking around on some other problems Tim wanted to try so I just tagged along and got weaker and weaker as the day progressed...har har har. Tim seems to have the energy of about 10 guys and at the end of the day when everyone expressed that they were finished, Tim remarked "Well! It seems like I'm going to have to train to have less energy!" Har har har...sorry Timbo!

Sunday I got out for a quick road ride with Sizzle and his friend Kavi and unfortunately we got caught in the rain. It still felt great to get out though and spin my legs. My climbing membership runs out in 2 weeks now so I'm actually looking forward to doing some more riding outside, some finger strength specific workouts on my hangboard and maybe a few mid-week climbing sessions up in Squamish...look out!

In Italian lessons I've progressed to Unit 2 now, in which I'll learn to communicate about my house and city...fantastico!

Buona Notte

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Espressos and the Epicurean

Stu, KC and I had a great 60 km road ride out to Whytecliff Park taking advantage of the decent weather this morning. The ride finished with Bookie treatign us to a delicious espresso at the small deli near us called the Epicurean...Bene!

Other than that today was pretty cruisey; I studied some more Italian and while listening to an Italio-American trumpeter.

Yesterday KC and I got out for a rip on Fromme but to our surprise the snow line was below the 2nd switchback. That meant we were limited to a few runs down Bobsled, one blast down Floppy Bunny and a swift exit on Natural High. On the way back to the car we both practiced our wheelies which was pretty fun...wheelies look sick and I think being able to do them would just add to your overall bike handling skills so that's on my list of things to learn this season.

Well, as the weekend winds down, enjoy your evening and have a glass of red wine while enjoying dinner with your favourite person and listening to some good music.

Ciao

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lucky 3

Three things were awesome about today...

No. 1

I had an amazing session at the climbing gym after work today. I nailed all the problems I had tried on Wednesday that had shut me down so that was cool. The I set to work on a new V9 on the whale belly wall that Ryan Olson set and this thing is amazing! I typically don't get all that excited about climbing indoors and generally see it as a means to an end given the climate we live in; however, Ryan's genius shines bright with this problem. I unhesitatingly (is that a word?) give it the title of 'The best indoor problem I have ever tried'. Hands down. I have a lot of respect for good route setters because I think that it would be a difficult task to continuously come up with new, interesting material to present to people. This coup de gras starts with no less than a double toe hook and you climb your hands along a fully horizontal roof until your hand foot matched on the starting foot hold. Atthis point you engage in a barbaric sequence that threatens to tear you right shoulder apart, right before smashing your core with a 6 lb sledgehammer. Then it gets hard; you have to lock off a crappy crimp, thrutch up to a better crimp, launch yourself sideways to snatch the final edge, bunch up on the high foot and explode to the lip madly pawing the air and begging to make contact with the finishing hold. Awesome! I fell with 3 moves to go on my final and best burn of the night which was way more than I expected when I first tried the moves so that was cool.

No. 2

I'm getting psyched on doing some road racing again this season...partly because I can feel I have piss poor cradiovascular conditioning, partly because I can feel my legs are super weak, and partly because road racing is an awesome form of bike racing. I realized last year that I enjoy road racing much more than XC mtb racing, mainly due to the higher degree of strategy involved with road racing. Also I've been watching a DVD called Legends of the Tour that highlights the likes of Merckx, Armtsrong, Hinault, Anquetil and so on. Tomorrow morning if it's not raining I'm going to try and get out for an early road ride to kickstart my base miles training...

No. 3

I bought Italian language lessons today by Living Languages from Chapters at lunch and I'm super excited to dig into them. I think Italian is far and away the nicest sounding language and I think the culture is really cool so that has got me inspired to try my hand at learning the language of the champion lovers...sono l'amonte di campione!

Ciao!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Projects Projects Projects...

I got out climbing in Squamish last Saturday and it was super fun. I disappointed myself in terms of what I sent (nothing - har har har) but the day itself was beautiful and it's hard to get down when you're in a magical forest with perfect granite blocs strewn about.

I warmed up and then tried King Swing, a stout V7 as a way to stress my body before jumping on my project du jour which was to be Defender of the Faith, V9. King Swing was stinking hard and I didn't make any progress really; considering the only progress to be made would be to do the first move since it's the only hard move on it. Anyways, with a sense of trepidation I headed over to Defender to have a shot at it. I was pretty confident i could do it this session after feeling really strong on it after my last (and first) time on it. Unfortunately it was not meant to be. I could feel the holds weren't as sticky as the previous session, I for whatever reason could not even come close to doing the 2nd move, and I had the annoying nerves you sometimes get when you think you're going for the redpoint and at any time it might go. Don't know why I had that feeling since I felt so weak...ha ha ha!

Anyways, my friend Erik that I was climbing with managed to send it in fine style and after that we moved onwards and upwards into the forest from the Apron talus to meet up with strong Simon at a problem called Velcro. This thing is so sick! The stand start is V10 which I had a few goes at and felt surprisingly better than I expected so that was encouraging for me. Simon came agonizingly close to sending the low start that clocks in at V13, falling off the last tough hold after sticking it not quite perfect enough. This kid is a serious crusher, knows how to try hard, and he has the makings of a true champion: he busts his ass in the gym sometimes climbing 6 or 7 days on; he's really friendly; he's humble; and he's steamrolling through all the hard problems in Squamish; and he's just as psyched for you to send your project (which was probably his warm-up) as he is to send his own.

After burning on Velcro, we decided we were pretty much fried so headed down to check out King Swing one last time before calling it a day and heading home to Van city.

This week has been pretty uneventful...I got into the gym on Wednesday and had a super session; I sent 27 new problems, the highlight of which was flashing a V8, something I haven't managed in the gym before.

I'm also starting to get psyched on building back some fitness on the bike. That will start in earnest in April when my climbing membership at the Edge runs out and I have more time on my hands after work when I'll resort to more finger training and weight training in our apartment.

One last thing. I've officially decided on my project list for this season if anyone cares:

Boulder Problems
1. Defender of the Faith, V9
2. No TRoublems, V9
3. Velcro, V10

Routes
1. Ibiza, 13a
2. Chronic, 13b
3. Permanent Waves or Division Bell, 13d (more just to try than actually hoping to send this year, but who knows...never say never)

Okay...off to bed, I've been getting to bed early all week this week and have been getting great sleeps and feeling really good as a result.

Ciao!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Awakening

This past weekend was insane in Vancouver; the weather was sick, the Olympic celebrations only seem to be getting crazier (there were apparently 150,000 people downtown on Saturday night) and the weather in Squamish unlocked an inspiring session for me all day Saturday.

It started with my inaugural ride to Whytecliffe Park for 2010 with Booky...it was amazing. It was under bluebird skies, 10 deg. C and traffic was light as we pedalled along on cloud nine. That night we went down to Granville St. with a big group and had a blast at a small restaurant called Deuce Bigalows. Some of the higlights included watching some drunken lunatic climb up a 25 ft lamp standard and proceed to hump the post in front of the better part of Vancouver's population, and speed walking over the Burrard Bridge with Foyter in hot pursuit!

The next day I got up early, shook off the haze from the previous night, slammed some espresso and jumped into the Squamish rocketship. Upon getting to the parking lot (first car there as usual on the weekends during pre-season) another car pulled up and it happened to be a guy I had met through Wes a few weekends ago. I ended up climbing with Nathan and his two friends from Mexico, Miguel and Bernardo for the day and it was super fun. I ended up ticking off a really hard V5 called John Rocker, a great V6 called Mr. Bigglesworth and another tough V5 called A Kind of Magic that my friend Brad showed me beta for (thanks Brad!) that made it not so tough anymore.

The real coup de grace came on the last problem of the day though; a stout V9 called Defender of the Faith. Previously I've never been able to do any of the moves on it, and upon some occassions I was actually unable to even hang the starting holds. However, with a month and half of dedicated and consistent gym training, cool temps and Brad giving me some of the best spots I've ever received, I not only did the first move, I unlocked every other move too! I couldn't believe it! I was so excited and encouraged by the huge progress I'd made in strength in the past 6 weeks of being in the gym and doing core workouts.

Sunday morning Sizzle and I went over to Lynn Valley and did some fun sport climbing which culminated in Sizz flashing a 5.10b on toprope which was really incredible since he never climbs but is probably the most talented natural athlete I've known and picks things up crazy quickly. Nice work Sizz!

Below are some random photos from the past week including some of the Olympic festivities in Vancouver and also some of the tree blossoms that are in full effect on Cypress St. right now...Molto Bene!!!


Car showing off her "Go Canada!" Olympic mittens


Me and my better half enjoying the festivities in Yaletown near Casa Italia


HBC downtown Vancouver wrapped in our Olympic athletes


The biggest Canadian flag in...anywhere I think


The cool spotlights over English Bay that can be programmed via a website


Our backyard in our condo


The jaw-dropping beauty of Cypress St. in full bloom


Pin trees, pink cars and the Olympinks


One of the many cool rose trees that blooms in Vancouver's springtime

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic Fevah!

I've got it full ON!!! We watched the torch relay go past 3rd and Burrard tonight and it was super fun! It's so excitign to see so many people all buzzing with the high of celebrating sport and our country right here in our city.

What surprises me is the number of people that don't seem excited about it or even further, actually resent that the Olympics are being held in Vancouver. Personally I don't understand the attitude of wanting to get out of town and away from everything during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience an Olympics in the city where you live. I think it's an amazing way to bring people together. So what that some roads are closed and so what that there are thousands of tourists roaming around the streets. Use this opportunity to get on your bike or walk somewhere you would normally drive to...and maybe all the extra people will see how utterly amazing it is to live in this one-of a-kind city and the value of your real estate will go up.

No matter what your reason, it's always more fun to be positive about something, even if you're not that psyched on it. (It's even more fun to be psyched on it by the way! Ha ha...I'm SOOOO psyched on sportclimbing right now!) So get out, see the attractions and celebrate with your fellow Vancouverites and tourists alike...these next few weeks will be gone before you know it and you'll be left with your pants down wondering what all the hype was about.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Powder Hounds and the Spitzmark Lockett

Oh man was this weekend ever a bonanza! It started Friday after work at the climbing gym with me faltering somewhat after my warm-up, but then regrouping and hopping on the send train to crush 3 of my projects! Noice! Further to that I worked out the moves for the next 2 problems in my sites so I'm excited to get back into the gym tomorrow evening after another day of rest today.

My brother Cam drove up from Seattle Friday night and the plan was to attack the Musical Bumps with a ferocity not seen since the heroic days of William Wallace! Our group was me, Cam, Sizzle, Martin and Markezzy. We made our way up over Whistler and back into Symphony bowl, before skinning up to the top of Flute and then off the backside into paradise. I chose to try to ski because I knew I would get left behind faster than you can say Spitzmark Lockett if I was on snowshoes and I've also committed to learning how to ski since I really want to do more backcountry skiing in the coming seasons. I tend to find skiing in-bounds a bit repetitive and it's also quite expensive, so why not have an adventure with far less crowds and way better snow?!

So anyways, we got away from the crowds and had 4 amazing runs by the time we decided to call it quits and head back out the Singing Pass Trail to the Village. The trail was an interesting way to get out but I would have to say I don't think I would choose that option again for exiting the area. In the end it would have been much simpler and more enjoyable to do one more climb up Flute Mtn and then get to ski down the entire mountain to finish the day. But who the heck cares! It was amazing and I wanted to do the Singing Pass exit once anyways. Back in the Village we shared a cold pint and then headed home to Vancity. Here's a photo my bro Cam took of me heading down the west side of Russett Ridge with my heart in my throat and shaky knees! The whole time I could hear Cam coming down behind me hooting and hollering about how we were all a bunch of Powder Hounds! Ha ha ha...


Sunday morning dawned and after agreeing firmly that we would do something today that did not require us to use our arm muscles and was not too strenuous on the legs since we were both pretty tired from teh previous day's bru-ha-ha, we came up with...skate skiing! Ha ha ha...it actually turned out well and we covered a fair number of the trails up at the Cypress Nordic Area. As we covered the trails, occasionally we saw a few little kids with race bibs on so we agreed that there was likely a hotly contested loppett under way. Not surprisingly, we turned a bend and saw two little rug-rats going full bore for the finish line, read: walking on their skis poking each other with their poles and alternating between looking up at the trees, calling to their dad and sliding backwards down the hill they were ascending...har har har. Anyways, we dubbed the race the Sitzmark Loppett after the green circle trail named Sitzmark. After a particularly steep section I caught Cam up and he mentioned something about the race to which I gasped, out of breath: "...SPITZMARK LOCKETT?!?" We both had a good laugh and adopted the new name for the rest of our ski.

Definitely the best weekend of 2010 so far and I think plans are in the works for the next adventure when Car, KC and I get back from Florida: The Mt. Baker Showdown!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Day Out

Ha haaa!!! Last night was my first outdoor road ride of 2010 and it was super fun! I only got out for just shy of an hour becasue the light still fades fast but it was just good to get out and spin out the legs. I rode a couple of laps around Stanley park and thoroughly enjoyed the sights, smells and absolute derth of motor vehicles in the park. It's such a treat to ride that circuit in the shoulder and off-seasons when it's not clogged with tourists vehicles. I have nothing against tourists by the way since I would do the same thing if I was visiting and wasn't forunate enough to live in teh best city on earth, but I do appreciate the lower car count!

It was pretty funny because before I went out I was thinking, "Ok, I'll just have a relaxing spin" since I knew this is going to feel a lot harder than riding my trainer which is what I've been doing twice a week for the past 3 weeks. But, as I should have guessed, once I get on my bike and see some numbers popping up on my computer, my instinct is to just pin it! Har har har...so within roughly 10 minutes, what what supopsed to be a relaxing spin had quickly rolled into an all out time-trialling assault to clock in the highest average speed possible. Ha!

Anyways, after that fiasco I was pretty tired and to top it off our last dance lesson had been bumped back to 9:30 pm, so as I fought to maintain consciousness throughout the evening I managed to complete a core workout and then drag my carcass over to Exhale Studio in Yaletown to meet Shauna, our instructor. She is so awesome! She's basically a whiter version of Carla; super bubbly, very excitable and a great athlete. The lesson went really well and I'm pretty bummed they're over now...it was fun, different thing to look forward to each week. Who knows, maybe we'll continue on with some more lessons over the next few months to expand our dance vocabulary...

Hitting the gym tonight to try and dispatch the orange problem...it's got this nasty pinch that slaps me around like an amateur so hopefully I can tame it tonight! Then Max Sr. is rolling into town for a huge weekend festival...should be good and I'll update you on what we get done!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beasting It!

Just got back from the climbing gym and it was awesome! A 3.5 hr session that started out with crazy bicep burn, then moved to me sending a project (desperately I might add), then moved to the bicep burn fading and me falling off the very last move of another project, and then moved to me feeling totally spent and psyched out of mind at an awesome 3rd day on by the end of it!

I think this is how I'm going to get stronger...by pushing myself hard. Monday I had a good 3 hr sesh, Tuesday I had an amazing and strong hangboard session, and tonight I had another 3.5 hr climbing session! Awesome. So tomorrow I'll rest except for a core workout and then fire back into the gym on Friday before taking the weekend off and resting my arms.

I just chugged a litre of chocolate milk so hopefully I recover well by Friday.

Peace.

Hump Day

So a few updates; my weekly average last week was down from 164.7 to 163.2 so that was good…I can definitely feel in my hangboarding and climbing that I’m coming into sending form and will hopefully arrive just as the annual dry spell in February does! Although I had a few setbacks in weigh-ins early in the week (Mon: 164.0 and Tues: 165.4), I’m pleased to have had a new record low for 2010 this morning, coming in at 161.2…oh that’s noice!

On Monday I got a chance to see my good friend Dave Voltan whom I’m met during my year living in Toronto and climbing at Joe Rockhead’s Climbing Gym. He is a serious crusher with big cougar paws, Fred Nicole-style forearms and excellent energy. His presence during our session made me realize that I have been lacking a serious try-hard attitude at the gym lately I think…I think sometimes I handicap myself by sizing up a particular problem and then simply by looks, assuming that I won’t be able to do it. That is such a stupid thing to do and I’ve long been a proponent of the fact that if you don’t think or believe you can do it, then you most definitely won’t, so I’m not sure how I got sucked into this mentality. Anyways, realization is the first step so starting tonight I’m going into the gym to charge hard and leave completely gassed, both mentally and physically!

Last night I had an excellent spin on my trainer while watching Boom-Boom Boonen thrill the Belgian press with his 2nd Paris-Roubaix victory from 2008…following this I stretched my legs, which I believe are slowly starting to show signs of improved flexibility to my delight, did an awesome hangboard workout including weighted hangs and weighted pull-ups, and then got my lovely wife and Vancouver’s best chiropractor Dr. Carla Cupido to treat my newfound elbow pain and hamstring/popliteus issue.

My brother and partner in crime Cam is coming up from Seattle this weekend so we’re in the midst of hatching some serious adventures so I’ll keep you posted as the festivities draw nigh...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rain, rain...you're okay, you can stick around a few more days

It's easy to complain about things, like the rain in Vancouver; the seemingly incessant rain that ruins the snow for skiing and mucks up the roads for cycling. But, before doing that, remember that the rain is why Vancouver is so lush and green and amazing looking! The rain is not freezing cold snow like in Southern Ontario winters. And the rain lets you know how fast you're going when it hits the skin on your face as you pedal along on your bike, whipping up the pace with your heart pounding in your ears; it makes you feel alive! So in a moment of inspiration, don't let the rain stop you from getting outside to do what you wish you were doing...Get into it!

Now, let's begin with my most recent weigh-ins:

Wednesday: 163.0
Thursday: 162.0

WooHOO!!! The Christmas pounds are dropping like flies and I'm slowly fighting my way back into sending shape. I'm hitting the climbing gym tonight for a high volume, low intensity workout and might even tie into a rope for the first time ages if I can drum up a belay partner...Beno?? Last night I also did a cool core workout with my friend Andreas which was a nice change from my regular routine of what Max Sr. and I refer to as Ab-Busters. I think I need to make up about three different sequences that I can switch between since I'm pretty sure the more you do a given exercise, the more your body adapts to it and becomes more efficient. Correspondingly I think the gains you make are proportionally smaller and smaller.

Next; Car and I have our 2nd dance class today and I'm really looking forward to it! We practiced our sequence a bunch over the past week and although it doesn't look all that pretty, I think we've got the counts down so hopefully that will make a difference for today's instruction.

Finally, I practiced my chanter last night for the first time in over 3 years and it was super fun! For those unaware, the chanter is the practice instrument for the bagpipes. It enables you to practice the same tunes and fingering without the noise and bulk of the pipes as it doesn't include the bag or the 3 drones. I was really surprised at how much my fingers remembered upon testing out a few tunes that I had originally had quite dialled. I think our bodies are incredible machines and these are a few of the things that I find absolutely amazing:

1) That our muscles can learn and memorize movements such as in climbing, and that for each successive attempt at a move as you get closer and closer to sticking the next hold, your body is recruiting more and more fire power in the form of muscle fibres firing. So awesome!

2) That our bodies can heal themsleves...I think that's amazing.

3) That our hearts are essentially pumps with, in some cases, a 100-year design life...try and find another pump made that doesn't need any maintenance for that long. Incredible!

Ba-doop, ba-doop...that's all folks

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy Birthday DZ and Kudos to RM

Saturday: 163.8
Sunday: 163.4
Monday: 164.2
Tuesday: 164.2

Ok, now that my weight updates are out of the way...I don't really have too much to say! Har har har.

Actually, there are two things worth noting this morning:

1) Happy Birthday to Dave Zabriskie; Dave turns 31 today and we all wish him a successful cycling season in 2010 with Garmin-Transitions.

2) My friend and colleague Renee Morrison kicked off her future as one of Vancouver's proud cycle commuters today with her first 30 min ride from her new home in North Van into work. Nice one!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekly Average

Well I'm pleased to say that my 1st week average for my New Year's resolution weight loss program has been a very respectble 164.7lbs. I was assuming it would ring in around 165 like Max Sr.'s so I'm happy to squeak in just below and clinch the Week 1 Champion belt! Har har har...

I got on the trainer again tonight for an hour and watched Paolo "Il Falco" Salvodelli sew up the Giro D'Italia from 2005 for his second time victory in the grand tour. Excellente!

Tomorrow night is my next session at the Edge and there is an entire wall of new problems I haven't touched yet so I'm psyched to start hammering them out!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Success!

I had a super session last night at the Edge, producing two big sends: pink tape and blue tape. I was super psyched to send since both were super desperate right up until the last move…very satisfying. Man, there are some super strong climbers there…it’s crazy when you watch someone warm up on your project by doing a number of laps on it just to get the blood flowing; impressive.

Prior to my climbing session though, Car and I attended our first hip-hop dance class! It was super fun and a great workout. Car bought me three private lessons for my 30th birthday this year and based on my first impression they’re going to be a smashing success. It’s really fun, very difficult and something we can really enjoy together; and I can see how it’s especially nice for Car since it gives her an activity to do with me that I’m not way better at…har har har; kidding!

Anyways, maybe if the hordes of viewers of my blog are lucky I’ll post up a video of us thrashing about after our next lesson…

Weight: 164.4

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hip-hop-o-potamus

Last night was a total write off for any physical activity since I felt like a truck had hit me after Tuesday's climbing session. I'm always amazed when I get back into bouldering, after even a short two week hiatus, at how full-body and strenuous it is. So as a result I laid on the couch and watched Italian Ivan Basso crush his competition (if you can even call them that) in the '06 Giro D'Italia. He won by the biggest margin in over 40 years in a style reminiscent of the great Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi by holding all three jerseys (Race Leader, KOM, and Points) at certain points throughout the race.

Tonight however, is going to be a bonanza! My lovely wife got me three private hip-hop dance lessons for my 30th birthday and the first one is tonight after work. I'm really looking forward to it since even though I know I'll suck, I think it's going to be a real gas dancing around like a maniac!

After that I'm pedalling over to the climbing gym and hopefully will have the energy to send at least one of my current projects, pink tape and blue tape. My upper body still feels as like it was used as a punching bag but hopefully I can dig deep into my suitcase of courage and produce.

My weight this morning was a demoralizing 166.2, up 1 lb from yesterday's 165.2...ouch!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Weighing in...

Monday: 165.8
Tuesday: 164.4
Wednesday: 165.2

I had an amazing session at the gym last night! After taking 2 weeks off you feel a bit sloppy on the wall, so I expected that, but man, I was just super psyched to be climbing again!! I wasn't able to do the pink problem I'd tried before we left for the holidays, but I did make progress on it so that was good. Also it didn't hurt my finger so that's improving. The other awesome thing was that I tried two other problems that I had previously passed off as being too difficult and I sent the one, a V7 with a monster wall-to-wall dyno as the last move, and I made it well into the blue problem at the end of the night so hopefully tomorrow I'm feeling strong and can make progress again on that one and maybe send the pink one.

I'm going to give myself two weeks back into the gym before starting back to the weighted hangs once a week also...I'm not sure how my finger started bothering me this time so I want to be careful with the really finger-intensive workouts.

Alright, have a gooder!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year

We're back from our sojourn to Ontario to visit family over the Christmas holidays and Vancouver is just as amazing as it ever was!! Before getting back to the grind we also got to shoot down to Seattle for a few days to celebrate New Year's and my birthday with my brother and his lovely wife which was awesome.

So, now that we're back, I'm starting up my climbing membership again and am hitting the gym tonight for my first session back after the holiday gluttony. I'm about 5 lbs over my sending weight right now so hopefully by the end of next week I'll be right back in contention with the lightweights!

I've still been feeling my finger a bit also so hopefully tonight proves that it's healing up. We'll keep you posted...