24 hours of 9 mile

last weekend was spent going to the 24 hours of 9 mile race in wausau wisconsin. paddy, dallas, shona and i were riding; luc antaya and drew hwarniak were along as support crew and driving crew. the plan was to meet at starbucks on pembina at 7:00 and drive till we reached alexandria or better, break, and make it wausau by noon the following day. plans changed. seems like paddy was the unfortunate victim of city's mishap following the rains last wednesday - he was 'on the fence / off the fence' whether he would make it because of the need to clean up his basement. with the city coming through for the clean up late thursday, paddy, dallas and luc sped (as paddy about trying to make up time in construction zones - ouch) off late thursday while shona, drew and i left earlier that evening.

friday found us in wisconsin, and making it to wausa by 1:00.

we quickly set up our base camp and began the process of prepping for the race - this meant tinkering withe bikes, getting the gear sorted out and making lists for the shopping trip into town.

one dude brought his segway, equipped with off-road tires, to the event.

once we sorted out our gear, had lunch, and bought our groceries, it was off for a pre-ride of the course. the loop was either 14 or 15 miles in length (i can not remember) and contained a variety of terrain - rocks, roots, wood chips (f*#k the wood chips), logging roads and miles and miles of singletrack.

(pre-ride pictures)

about 2/3's of the way through the course we came across third of three water stations, except this one also served beer - god bless them. the big difference between this event and the 24hours of adrenalin people is here they are much more relaxed and are willing to have fun with event. during the race two of the water stations were party sites, complete with loud music and enthusiastic supporters. the signature event on the second water station was an optional jump, complete with runway lights, which brought howls of support if you took the ramp (except when i did it - seems like everyone was concerned with a rider who was in need of technical assistance and i received no love as i lamely propelled my self off the earthen ramp - sigh).

it was an early rise on saturday morning because there was last minute items to get ready, a quick trip into town for breakfast, and we needed to pick-up our timing chips which we were to wear on our ankle during the race in order to record our times (i forgot to put my on for one lap when i changed shoes and socks - but the timers were cool with it and they gave me credit for the lap any ways)

dallas' morning did not get off to such and good a start as he woke up with a migraine headache and spent his pre-race hours tossing his cookies followed by trips to the can for expulsions of a different kind. the poor guy was doubtful for the start of the race, but after many advil and watching paddy get on the segway (he knew the guy who owned it) and taking off down the road only to crash into the fence (picture i wish i had) dallas bucked-up and managed to get himself to the start line in time.

this was my first running le mans start for a race. so far i have been lucky in all my other 24 hour events and i have never had to pull this duty as other riders on my teams had their names drawn over mine, but being a solo rider means this could not be avoided. it was not as bad as i thought it would be except i almost got on the wrong bike as there was another redline near where i left mine (about the bikes at this event - it seemed like 29er singlespeeds almost outnumbered the more conventional bikes. wow. a lot of people down there are riding the 29er - the revolution is gaining momentum).

(you can see the blu et orange of paddy's uniform in this shot)

youtube video - i think the last person you see is dallas, the dude was hurting

the first lap was done and now it was a matter of settling into a routine of getting food, liquids, clothing changes, and bike tune-up for the next 22+ hours. it totally rocked have luc and drew there as support. they were always making sure i had what i needed; fresh water bottles, bike tune ups (luc rules), food, morale support and anything else i needed. their services made this event much easier and i can not thank them enough.

because i was actually racing there was no time to take pictures of the event (well, if that isn't stating the obvious), but drew managed to get this shot and the following video.

paddy's streak of good luck continued when his feet blew-up big time. the dude could barely walk when i came in and he pulled out (temporarily) of the race. when he finally got back on his feet - literally - he pulled support duties for dallas and i over the next 10 hours which was much appreciated. in fact, i got to use paddy's stadium lighting system at night and what a difference that makes, you can actually see freaking much everything and ride almost as aggressively as you do in the day. unbelievable, and i need to thank paddy for the this - it made the night time much easier.

(luc continuing his support duties)

night time came and it became a different ball game. this is were the mental part of the racing comes to the front - you're wasted and you know you need to go out again and again and again (hopefully). it was at this time that the physical part of riding a rigid bike really began to take its' toll. my arms were dying because of the relentless pounding. the rest of the body was also beginning to wear out, but it was the lack of strength in the arms that were starting to slow me down the most.

(dalla vs the pepperoni stick)

12 laps later and i knew that i only had one left in me. this allowed me to spend more time in the chair and think about nothing but how good sitting in a chair real feels (i would not say the same about 10+ hour car rides home). dallas, the endurance machine he is managed one more lap after he finally got enough calories in him to go out for one more for a total of 14 laps and a fourth place finish. as amazing, paddy somehow managed to pull his shoes back on and do two more laps, the last one almost being his fastest - most impressive. shona knocked off 7 laps in 12 hours and finished 2nd in her event which was most impressive as this was her first race like this - way to go shona.

(dallas post-race)

(shona at the podium - another story)

this event was excellent and i am looking forward to going back next year. learned a ton and know what to expect for future events. thanks again to the crew that went out - it was a blast

results should be up sometime.


everyone is a racer at heart, but should they be...

there is a weird dynamic when cyclists get together - competition. seems like every time cyclists come together it turns into a race. this can be fun or bewildering. when friends get together for a ride and race breaks out, this is a hoot. when commuters see other cyclists and they crank it up a notch to blow by the competition, this is bewildering. what's the point of racing on the way to or home from work, you only get sweaty any ways. and what possible satisfaction do you get in beating someone who is not racing in the first place? if you want to race, come out to a race and throw it down, i would only be to glad to oblige. i especially find it find it humorous, when guys (and it is almost always guys) take great pride in passing single speed mountain bikes or commuters on their geared skinny tire road bikes - damn rights you should be passing me. weird.

for a great perspective on racing go the bike snob nyc, piece on racing at the local ms ride event. very funny.


death march

reach the beach was today, and it was a great day for the race - cloudy, moderate temperatures, and light winds. not sure, but around 60 people signed up for the 90 km gravel, sand, soil and bog (more about that later) ride from tyndall to grand beach.

the race started with the usual suspects at the front; paddy, tom, dave, and a slew of others at the front. about 15 or so riders were up front, taking turns pulling at the lead and setting a good pace. the 38X16 gearing (69 gear inches) let me stick with the boys and i settled into the speedy, but steady pace set by the group. after 15+ minutes of gravel it was a left turn on to the sand and the race was on. the sand in this ride is much like the pyrenees in the tour de france, if you can keep a clean line and plow your way through the soft stuff you can put some distance between you and the riders who are not so clean. on this day the 29 inch wheels gave me an edge and i found myself staying with some of the lead riders. after we were spit out of the sand and tall grass trails of the first third of the race i found myself with dave dorning and dylan harris, a hot young rider from olympia. we quickly formed a pack and each took turns pulling in the front until we reeled in don scissons. the four of us began the hunt for the next rider which was paddy who was in the lead. this group lasted until the next sand section where we lost dylan off of the back. okay, it was at about this time that i began to think, 'what the hell am i doing so far up at the front ?' but the legs felt good and i continued to hang on as long as i could. eventually i felt my self fading and soon dropped off the back and dave and don continued their pursuit of paddy. now i found myself in no-man's land, riding by myself. even though i faded from don and dave's pace, i was still turning it over pretty good and continued on a pretty decent clip. about 4/5's of the way through the race lindsey caught me and and slowly pulled away (that man can flat out ride). by this time we hit some of the more challenging parts of the trail which consisted of water and mud - i mean really deep water (at one point i saw dave d, who i caught up to again because he was having problems with cramps, try and wade through one section, step into a hole and was waist deep in water). it was also at this time that i began to think to myself, 'i sure hope that lindsey doesn't put his shoulder out again.' what do you think i found when i rounded the bend? dave was helping lindsey, who was holding his arm and dislocated shoulder, walk out of the bog. i jumped in the bog to retrieve dave's bike, and we helped lindsey make it back to the road. at this point dave and i agreed that it was not necessary for both of us to get lindsey to help, so dave said he would take him and that i should continue on with race (thanks dave). i turned back and made my to the bog. this was a most foul and evil thing: water that was waist deep, with 4 inches of dirt, leaves, and other bio matter floating on top, and soft silty sand/mud underneath - we had to cross through 200 feet of this stuff. while i was up to my thigh and waist of this stuff i rolled my bike across the top of it - it was like the quick sand you see in all of the old movies. after this was cleared it was off to the finish line, but not before you had to do one more 3km lap on the grand beach race course. this was most depressing because you rolled right by the finish line before you started this last lap - so close yet so far.

when all was said and done i had a 4th place finish (one more rider passed us as dave and i were helping lindsey out of the bog). i give myself a 5th place though, as dave was good enough to help lindsey with his shoulder and was going to make it in well before me - as would have lindsey but for his bum shoulder. i feel very lucky to have finished so well - having the good fortune to have one of those days where you have really good legs on the day of a race. sweet.


friday fun file

if you don't have enough toys and some spare cash...from the nytimes


vancouver canmore bike fun

the end of june, beginning of july, was two weeks of vacation for me and laura. laura left a week earlier and and flew to vancouver to play in and attend a conference she helped plan. her conference dovetailed nicely with the 24 hour race in canmore that dr. h., jonny b, cam and i had signed up for in early spring. i hopped in the car, with two bikes and camping gear and headed west.

after making my way to calgary on the first day, i soon found myself in the mountains

and in the province of big mountains and big trees

with laura busy at the conference i spent the first day tooling around vancouver on my bike and quickly found my way to cove bikes. after looking around the shop for a while i asked one of the guys if there any good trails for xc type riding on a rigid 29er. they pointed me towards mt. seymour and they suggested a few trails. the first trail was a twenty minute up hill grunt that soon had me doubled over my bars gasping for air. after finally reaching the turning point in the trail i headed down a trail i thought was beginner, but in actuality, was an intermediate trail.

so, i spent the next 30 minutes walking 1/2 the trail and gingerly riding the other 1/2; all the time hearing paddy's voice in my head " don't be falling over and scoring your new carbon forks on any rocks." as i was making my way back to the trailhead i met a guy on a double squish singlespeed (he was using an old derailleur as a chain tensioner) who told me about some trails at simon fraser university which i would have fun with - he was right, great trails with long grunty climbs and technical downs without any of the big hits of the north shore.

(didn't try this one - riding on round logs (last part of the stunt) scares me)

with laura finally finished her conference, we headed off to whistler for a couple of days. we got extremely lucky when the people she had been billeted with for the conference offered us the use of their condo. the condo sleeps 12 and had a rather remarkable view from the third floor balcony.

laura and i spent the first day riding some of the paved trails around the whistler area which was a blast. i must say that i did feel a little out of place in whistler because of the obvious wealth of the area, but still managed to enjoy the beauty of the country side, mountains and lakes.

the next day i headed out on my own to find some trails and this was a bit of a hit and miss experience. while i found this plank bridge (another one i managed to make even though it scared me a bit because the planks were wet), i was still having trouble finding the right trails.

after a couple of hours of trying i was about to give up and started to head home when i passed a guy on a cannondale who commented on my bike (favourably). we chatted a bit, and i asked him about the trail i was looking for. he said that the trail head was back a bit and that he was looking for someone to ride with and that he would be happy to show me the trail. scott was a great guide and i had a great ride with him. the trail gained about 850 meters of elevation, with most of it right at the beginning. i managed to ride about 1/2 and had to walk the other 1/2. the downhills were fast and i was very glad that i had hydraulic brakes.

(this picture is taken at the highest point of the trail - i started at the buildings you can see at the bottom left of this picture).

after the ride laura and i went for a fabulous hike in the woods

after whistler it was off to canmore and the 24hour race. i arrived on thursday, found the course and did a pre-ride to determine which gears i wanted to use. i decided on 32X20 which was approx 47 gear inches, this allowed me to climb everything, which was more important than having a gear that gave me more speed on the flats or downhills (except for four downhill sections that were flat, all the downhills were littered with roots and rocks and were not fast anyway - case in point, one of the better riders passed me on one of the faster downhills with his full suspension geared bike, but i was able to catch and pass him on the following uphill - when we got to the next downhill which was long, flat and fast, he only gained 70 meters on me before the next technical section).

friday saw the rest of the guys showing up which meant setting up our base camp and another pre-ride.

chris and jonny have excellent write-ups of the race on the fgbc and team jonny blogs, so go there to read about the race.

here are a couple of additional pictures and words on the race.

(cam on the downhill leading into about 15-20 minutes of continuous climbing).

we had an excellent team and a lot of fun. i don't think anyone could be as snake-bit as jonny was for this race. but, what he lacked for in clean rides (no mechanical issues) he made up for in effort. as chris mentioned, jonny did flat on his second lap with 1.5 kms to go, but he also ran his bike the last 1.5 km to turn in an excellent time. also, when he lost his lights about 1/2 the way through his first night lap, he managed to poach off other riders and turn in a 1:04 lap which was excellent considering how dark and difficult that must have been. chris and cam both ran excellent races and as a team we had a good shot at fourth and an outside chance at third (it would have been close with the farm team).

(dr. h. looking fine after his first night lap)

post race was celebrated in fine style with bottles of half pints


north shore

more to come later...made this one