Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Results

2nd Paris to Ancaster
2nd XC Ontario Cup #1, Mansfield
1st Super D Ontario Cup #1, Kelso
1st DH Ontario Cup #1, Kelso
14th XC Ontario Cup #2, Albion
20th XC Canada Cup #2, Tremblant QC
18th/6th XC Canada Cup/Ontario Cup #3, Hardwood Hills
10th Test of Metal, Squamish BC
7th CHIN Road Race, Toronto
6th XC Ontario Cup #5, Buckwallow
3rd XC Ontario Cup #6, Mountainview
7th XC Ontario Cup #7, Provincial Championships, Kelso
5th Overall: XC Ontario Cup Series
4th Winter Wow, Mansfield

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Training Partner

I decided to try out Maya on a run this morning. She turned out to be an excellent training partner, never getting under foot or pulling on the leash. What a treat! Maya is a bit of a character though, and we are still working on getting over bridges of any kind and for now I just let her have her way when it comes to anything metal on the route -- she doesn't like her paws touching it or getting wet for that matter.

What a dog.

Today we ran to the canal, and then back along the Waterfront Trail in St. Catharines. Another great run despite the rain and sloppy conditions. The Garmin ("G") helped us find our way back after I got us a little lost which impressed me immensely.

Later, I used it to direct me while driving from St. Catharines to my sister's new place in Southampton. It works great in the car, on foot and I'm sure on the bike it will be a huge help too.

Anyway, after a big dinner, and a few libations, I'm looking forward to my Southampton run tomorrow already!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!!!

I guess I was a good girl this year because Santa brought me the best thing EVAR. My very own Garmin Edge 705, the most amazing cycling computer in the world. It is GPS enabled of course, but also has a HRM, cadence and speed sensor and is fully compatible with third party power meters. You can store your favourite workouts, save courses, put lap markers wherever you train for automatic lap times ... and the list goes on and on. What more could you want?!

I took it for a little "test-run" today, literally. I haven't got a bike to mount it to at the moment while away for holidays, so I just held onto it while I went for a run around St. Catharines. I thought heading to Port Dalhousie along the waterfront trail would be a good idea, but some of those sidewalks go super close to the water and by then, I was so in love with my new gadget my HR was up five beats just from the stress of imagining a poorly-timed trip, and the Garmin (which I have nicknamed "G") flying into the cold, deep water.

Well never fear, I held on tight and we made it back to Grampa's house dropping virtual breadcrumbs all the way.

I am so stoked on this thing I can't even tell you. Stay tuned for future route-postings as I slowly learn how to make it do all the wonderful things it knows how to do.

PS - Dad got a matching one, so we're all set for our training leading up to the Ride To Conquer Cancer.

Christmas morning! Mom and I inspect every single piece in the box.

Photo shoot for blogging purposes ...

Maya Papaya wishing she could come running too ... maybe next time.

Where I went!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joyride 150

The rumours are true ... Markham's new indoor mountain bike park is the shiz. Since I didn't have any Christmas appointments until dinner, I decided to check it out. A quick visit to their website confirmed they were open, and I was on my way, telling myself I'd just ride for an hour "to see".

Two hours later and I had to drag myself out of there.

They have a great XC track with berms, log-overs, flow and corners aplenty. There's also a pump track, skills section, and even a foam pit. Wish I'd brought both bikes!

Of course, I did have to "pay to play". Allow me to share my wipe out story: I had that masochistic thought -- just one more skinny -- that's up there with calling 'last run'. Never a good idea. I rode all of the skinnies on offer but my favourite (haha, they were all my favourite!!) was a real 20-foot log with a flattened top. It was teamed up with a ladder bridge ending in a cool little multi-line oval.

At the end of the log ride, there was a wedge-ramp. My back wheel hit it with a bit of oomph, it broke a small piece off, and I slid out, landing shin first into the neighbouring ladderbridge.

The skinny in question ...

So much for showing off! So off I hobbled to the change room and even despite a stinging lower-leg, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face if I tried. JOY ride indeed. And afterall, isn't Joy what Christmas is all about?!

Let me know if you ever need company for a trip to Joy Ride. I'm IN!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Shorts!

A week ago, @Specializedwmn who I follow on twitter posted a call for captions on their BG Pro RBX shorts. I submitted "Your new training partner" and won myself a pair! Woo hoo!

Here's the victorious tweet:
specializedwmn: Congrats to the Women's BG Pro RBX shorts winners for their great captions: @walcottav @MCjunkie @kristenmlake @camille001 #RBXcap

They couldn't come at a better time either. A couple chamois are on their way out in a big way. And I'm back on the bike a couple times a day. Yesterday, I had a lovely spin with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and an excellent snowboard video before work.

Last night I went on over to RPM for a little Christmas spinning. We donated our entry fees to the Daily Bread Food Bank and then did a fairly intense workout for an hour and a quarter. If this all sounds good to you, keep in touch with RPM because they'll be doing another Daily Bread spin in the new year so it's not too late!

This morning, I was riding with the Griswold's in the Christmas Vacation, but then my roommate came in to head out for the holidays with the PS3 so I had to watch Canada AM instead. Boo hoo.

However, I learned that egg nog is the more nutritous choice over apple cider. And if you are choosing between a gingerbread latte or a gingerbread loaf, get the latte. Save an extra pile of calories by skipping the whipped cream.

Merry Christmas to all!! Can't believe there's only two more sleeps!

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Turns!

Just finishing up a great three day weekend mostly spent up at Blue Mountain. Got some turns in on Saturday and some more on Sunday with Gerhard. Conditions weren't awesome, but you could get an edge everywhere, so I was a happy camper.

Quickly realized by trying on new ski boots, my old ones are at the end of their time. We had a good run -- about 14 years.

Which is why I'm so happy my new ones arrived today! Heading up for a fit and binding adjustment tomorrow, so they'll be ready just in time for a New Year's trip west to Mount Washington.

Anyone who wants to hit up Blue on Sunday nights, let me know! There's room in the minivan AND, I just got snowtires. All set!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

... on Training

Dear Diary,

Am I doing my training right? Do I know what I'm doing? I hope so -- I mean it's been a few years now and I'm still seeing progress every year, so I must have picked up something by way of "lessons learned in how to train".

But for some reason, I have this fear that I'm behind. Or doing it wrong. Or not doing enough. Should I get a coach? Should I abandon my DIY home-gym plans and just suck up the membership fees down the street? Turns out dumbells and all that are pricey and the cost is holding me back from making purchases, which is holding me back from strength exercises, which is stressing me out.

Maybe I should take a cue from Nike (and Tiger Woods by extension) and "Just Do It" -- go back to the gym in all its routine glory.

What about the trainer? Do I ride it enough? What's a two-hour ride? Is it long? Is it short -- should I be doing three hour trainer sessions? What's a one-hour ride? Just a waste of time?

How is it that a whole day can go by without room for a work-out? It's closer to January than November, and it's high time I found my rythm. Where is it?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Get your money back!

The Ride to Conquer Cancer emailed the other day to point out that all donors who contribute before Dec 31 will get their money back on their '09 tax returns instead of waiting for '10.

A little extra incentive for a good cause!

Happy Holiday season everybody! Only 10 shopping days left!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Some of you may have noticed the little "follow me on Twitter" button added to the sidebar. I know what you're thinking. So here's my side of the story.

I said I would never do it. But I do like to read other people's. A lot of other people's. I still can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would care about what I have to say (although I do still keep this blog, so go figure) but I like to check in with Lance Armstrong and all the others once in awhile. Becoming a member of Twitter is an easy way to do that because lo and behold, all the latest "tweets" (look at me, even using the lingo!) show up in order with just one click.

My first follower is Malcolm Howard, one of Canada's top rowers, so I'm off to a good start. We had a good game of croquet back in the day while I was visiting a teammate of his in Victoria. I don't know if he even remembers that, but maybe I'll 'tweet' him about it.

Anyway, in the spirit of twitter-fun, check this out: "It's like Twitter. Except we charge people to use it."

See you in the twittersphere.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

RTCC Milestone!

Thanks to some very generous donations, we've made it over the $1,000 mark. Hurray!!! But that's not all! We're also ahead of Dad's fundraising!

Just $1,500 more to go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dear Santa ...

Wow, what a great opportunity for just EIGHT people with Boreale Mountain Biking and Ryan Leech, Norco Pro Trials/Mtb rider.

Spend a week in a yurt, riding beautiful Yukon singletrack, eating local gourmet foods and complementing it all with an evolving yoga practice.

I've met Ryan before at the Toronto International Bike Show and from what I saw there -- both his show, and his talk on the "mental game" -- I think a week under his tutelage would be a pretty valuable use of time.

When is this amazing trip? July 3 - 9, 2010.

I've been a good girl, I swear.

Canada Cup 2010 - Posted!

Looks like the Canada Cup Schedule is up -- once again, no BC stops for XCO. Hmmm. Any one want to head out for the Test of Metal? No Canada Cup Races in June, so we can make The Test an unofficial stop on the Ccup Circuit.

Here's the sked at a glance for XCO. For DH/4X, click here.

#1 Baie St. Paul, QC May 16

#2 Tremblant, QC May 22

#3 Hardwood Hills, ON May 30

Write in: Test of Metal, BC June 19

#4 Edmonton, AB July 11

#5 Canmore, AB, July 18: National Championships

#6 Bromont, QC August 15

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Bloggable Event

Trainer! Day one!! All set up in the warm living room while the temperature drops to the negatives outside. Got my movie, my smoothie, and all the other comforts for trainer-ing. By the way, I found Angels and Demons to be entertaining, but a bit silly. I guess it's sort of redundant to accuse Dan Brown of being over the top.

Before I started, I also made some time to get the new dehydrator working away on some apple chips. Healthy snacks all winter, courtesy of Gerhard on my birthday. So stoked.

First, core the apples ...

Then slice them up with the mandolin ...

And then a few hours in here ...

And voila! Apple Chips!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Double Century for Grandma

Me, Grandma, Grandpa and Dad on the 2008 Ride to Conquer Cancer

Our Ride to Conquer Cancer has gone from a double metric century to a true double century, 200 miles, or about 320 kilometres between Toronto and Niagara Falls.

I was signed up all along, but my dad originally opted for the 200K. When the Ride Guide called me to let me know some info, I found out that the 200M ride I'd signed up for wasn't like the 2008 edition where we got an added ride in the afternoon to make up the miles. Instead, the 200-milers are riding an entirely different route! With different rest stops! So ... if dad and were to ride together, we'd need to decide which route we're doing.

I thought switching down would make the most sense but they said that the 200km route was full!!

So Dad has now bravely moved up, and we're doing the BIG ride. I don't think I've ever been in the saddle for that long, so this is going to be something. I hope you're inspired to donate to our now-harder-than-ever challenge!!

I know we'll make it because I'm very sad to tell you, we have a new family member to add to our memorial list.

My Grandma -- dad's mom -- passed away on November 27 2009 peacefully at St. Catharines General hospital. She was diagnosed with Lung Cancer on the 25th. So we'll do this one for her, and I know she'll help us get it done.

Losing her is a reminder of how important it is to do what we can to help researchers find a cure, and families get the care they need.

Thank you in advance for whatever you can contribute.

Please DONATE to Kris Lake or DONATE to Mark Lake in memory of Marian Lake.

Water colour by my grandma, Marian Lake

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Race Tracks

"I'm going in for the kill. I'm doing it for a thrill."

This Race Track is brought to you by one of those delicious MSN conversations you sometimes have with an old friend who decides to bless you with a "hey, check out *insert artist here*"

I downloaded La Roux's whole discography and almost never hit skip on her.

So here's "In for the Kill" by La Roux.

La Roux - In For The Kill from Ekim on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wow, Bonkers.

After some internal arguments influenced by factors outside the scope of this blog, I decided to get up at the crack of dawn, and drag my ass (and my boyfriend's ... sorry babe) to Mansfield for a couple hours of late season suffering in the annual Winter Wow.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

The first 90 minutes were AMAZING. I was flying! Not suffering at all! I rode the trails like a Jedi, hopping logs, carving corners and passing all kinds of folks. I led the ladies off the start and didn't see any of them again for over an hour.

My climbing was on, and I even got up the famous "sandy climb". A man came up behind me and after a few minutes I asked him if he'd like to get by, and he said "Are you kidding? you're setting my pace!"

Not to mention the GLORIOUS weather we got. Honestly, it was some of the best riding all season. Perfect dirt!

I was pretty stoked, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the race was over two and a half hours long, so I ended up paying back the first 90 minutes in spades.

I have never bonked like that in my life! I was so far gone it was almost fun. That is until all the time I'd put into the competition sling-shotted back at me in the last 4km. Except for Rachel. Rachel was the first lady I met on the trails, and she caught me after my best efforts to drop the Queen of Cross on the mostly flat, slightly hilly, logging roads -- about half way. (Guess I should have seen that coming!) I think that's about when I began my decline.

Two more went by while I wobbled around at walking pace. It was like trying to ride while you have the worst case of spins imaginable. I couldn't get my body positioned over the bike properly and instead just kind of held on. My vision was like something out of the Blair Witch Project, my tummy was upset, and whenever I tried to put on the gas, I got a dead-pedal.

If I thought I could've found my way back to the chalet by a direct route other than the one that was marked, I probably would have DNF'd. Luckily, the good thing about feeling that BAD is the sense of euphoria that comes with it, so I just giggled to myself until I found the finish line.

I went to the van hoping to find G, but he was off seeking warmth in the chalet. Unable to go any further I laid the bike down. Then I laid down. And took a nap. In the grass. Wow, indeed.

Once I regained consciousness, not sure how long later, I hobbled over to the chalet for the Chili feed. I teetered through the line-up and was revived by brownies and sugary yellow juice. (Maybe peach?)

In the end I came fourth (56th overall), and you can find the full results here. I heard a rumour that WOW Mtb will also post up their photos from the day.

Despite the calamity, I had a really fun time. I wondered how much I had left from 2009, and found out that I've got just about an hour of juice in the tank. (No WONDER people are drawn to cross!)

And so the work begins to turn my hour of red-zone capabilities into two or three. Exciting stuff!!

PS - Daffyd's already emailed about RPM's BASE CAMP program -- let me know if you'd like a spot!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Winter WOW

This weekend is the annual Winter WOW: the race that has historically been the end of my season ... or the beginning of the next.

This year, since I have been a lazy, H1N1 afflicted couch potato, I guess we'll call it the kick-off to 2010.

If you're interested in lining up on Sunday, here are the details:
  • Day of registration fee: $50 in cash or credit (no cheques!)
  • Location: Mansfield, 40km of no-laps single track! Never the same trail twice, folks!
  • Start time: 10am, in two waves
  • Extra incentive: Chili feed included in your entry fee (with BROWNIE!)
Interesting observation I hesitate to make, lest I jinx the whole thing, but I only get to race this thing about every-other-year because every-other-year, I've sold my bike by the time the race comes around.

So let me paint you a picture ...
  • 2004 - I raced, bare arms and knee warmers
  • 2005 and 2006 - I didn't race but I think it was wet and cold
  • 2007 - I raced, and it was more than ten degrees out and sunny
  • 2008 - I sold my bike and didn't race ... it was a suffer fest pushing through unrideable fresh snow.
  • 2009 - Planning on showing up (especially now that I've posted it) and the forecast is looking like a repeat of '07.
... things that make me go "hmmmm". I wish I had the same kind of luck for Ocups!

Hope lots of ladies come out (KK ... I'm talking to you!!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer

I heard there were only 300 spots left in the 2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer and since my dad already had one, I figured I'd join him!

I hope you will offer a donation towards my goal of $2500. I will be working hard to meet that target because otherwise I will not qualify to participate in the ride. So as you can see, I need your help! You can donate online from this page; you can set up a monthly contribution from now until the ride; or you can donate by personal cheque, either directly to the RTCC or I would happily forward the funds in your name. And of course, all donations over $10 are tax deductible.

Dad and I were part of a team of four back in 2008 for the inaugural ride which raised an incredible $14 million for Princess Margaret Hospital. We had a wonderful time. The event, although running for its first time, was organized to a tee. I did the 200km ride plus an additional 70km in the "Afterburn" with Steve Bauer. It still ranks as one of my favourite days in the saddle, ever.

This year I saw there was an option to be a 200km rider or a 200 mile rider. So I decided to test my mettle and sign up for the dual-century, imperial style.

While the cycling is unsurpassed (amazing scenery, and roads just for us), that's only half the RTCC story. As cancer affects more and more of us and our loved ones, it is more important than ever to work together to stop it.

I first heard of cancer when I was just a little girl, and it was hard to understand — it seemed to me that people who get sick ought to get better. But my Grandma was sick for as long as I knew her. She was the toughest woman I’ve known and I will always remember her for her grace and strength.

I dedicate this ride to all who are fighting now, particularly my grandpa, my aunt, and my cousin. I'll ride in remembrance of my grandma, and my "neighbourhood dad" Mr. Lutz.

The money raised in the Ride to Conquer Cancer will support breakthrough research, exemplary teaching, and compassionate care at Princess Margaret Hospital, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.

Thanks so much in advance for your help!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last Dance At Albion ... with Special Guest, Aoife!!

My birthday is coming up Sunday, but I already got an early gift! Aoife is in town! I picked her up from the airport on Tuesday, and we gabbed about girl stuff with some pink drinks until it was time for bed.

Wednesday morning we decided to celebrate our freedom by rolling up to Albion for what I am sure must be some of the last mtb-ing of the season. Started with a green smoothie featuring melon, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, kale and spinach, packed up the minivan and then it was off to Jeff's place.

Jeff is the only other person I know that's as tall as Aoife so it was very fortunate that he was willing to lend her his beautiful can't-get-em-anymore Santa Cruz Blur 4X. As he promised, it climbs great and just looooves the downhills. Huge thanks to Jeff!

After 2 minutes of silence, we set about basking in the glorious weather and miles and miles of trails that we had all to ourselves. It didn't take long for both of us to reach a zen-like state. I think it's called bliss.

On an occasion like Remembrance Day, or even a birthday, it's a good idea to look back and take stock; to remember the ones who've had a positive impact on your life, even if you've never met them.

It strikes me that I am very lucky. My health has returned and I am stoked to get started on 2010 (training is now underway!). I've got great friends and a loving and supportive family. I spend most of my time with an attractive young man who makes me want to write schmoopy things (but I'll spare you). I have a rewarding career and work with colleagues I'm lucky to also consider as friends. And by accident of birth, I'm Canadian. And that's no small thing.

Life's pretty good.

Here are some photos from our day ...

Kissy-face cornering. Check out Albion's Fall wardrobe!

Aoife climbing one of Albion's Hills.

Zen at the beach.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Toronto 2015

I am SO excited that our Premier, Dalton McGuinty has led a successful delegation in Mexico to bring home the 2015 Pan Am Games. We took it on the first ballot, with 33 votes. Competing cities were Lima receiving 11 votes and Bogota recieving 7.
We're going to put on the best Pan Am Games ever and it will mean better infrastructure for Torontians, first-class facilities for our athletes and a feather in the cap of not just Toronto, but Hamilton, St. Catharines, Oshawa and all the way north to Barrie. After losing bid after bid, a win is just what we needed.

I've got six years to get in shape! Signing off with a ton of joy and excitement!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Royal Encounter

Last night, while the Royals were visiting Toronto I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to meet them at a swish reception hosted by Ontario at the Carlu. It was everything I'd hoped for and more. I think the monarchy is an important part of our identity as Canadians. And it was really nice of them to throw a party to welcome me back to polite society after my bout of flu.

Perhaps Canadian historian Jacques Monet has said it best: "... a king is a king, not because he is rich and powerful, not because he belongs to a particular creed or to a national group. He is King because he is born. And in choosing to leave the selection of their head of state to this most common denominator in the world -- the accident of birth -- Canadians implicitly proclaim their faith in human equality; their hope for the triumph of nature over political manoeuvre, over social and financial interest; for the victory of the human person."

If you have further quesitons about why the monarchy is a good idea in Canada, this site breaks things down pretty nicely.

I'd also encourage you to read G's blog on our evening. I think it captures firsthand an interesting comment on the importance of tradition, and a little bit of civility.

The only part that I would add is that after Prince Charles and Gerhard finished their chat, the Prince asked me if I was also an expert snowboarder. I said no, I'm a skier, like you. And then he asked me where I like to ski and I said anywhere I can. He told me about some mountains he'd visited in his day that he wishes he'd had a chance to go back to. Maybe after talking to G, he'll be inspired to head back there and try snowboarding again.

Without further adieu, here's G's blog. Original posted at

A Casual Conversation With Prince Charles About Snowboarding

Last night Prince Charles and Lady Camilla were making the rounds in Toronto as part of their tour across Canada and I ended up getting an invite to the meet-and-greet reception at The Carlu. First off, you may be wondering how a dirt like myself got an invitation to such a shindig. I mean my usual Wednesday night consists of skating the mini-ramp in the dusty basement of the SBC offices with Taylor Ricci from Ride, Matt Houghton from and whomever else wants to tag along. Well, as luck would have it, my GF works for the premier’s office so it was really an invite-by-association that opened the door to rolling with royalty for the evening.

The funny thing is, when the opportunity first came up I was pretty indifferent. It was more of a ‘Sure that sounds like to cool story to add to my list of, “Dude this one time…” But once I donned my borrowed suit and walked into The Carlu the feeling of indifference became one of ‘Uhm, I don’t know if I belong here.’ The place was full of politicians, bureaucrats and other prominent citizens and I was one of the few guys with facial hair and the only one with hair down to his shoulders.

Despite my unease, like any good journalist who gets invited to such parties, I promptly took advantage of the buffet and free drinks. A few ice wine martinis later I was feeling a little more comfortable with my current company and shortly after being introduced to St.Paul’s MPP Dr. Eric Hoskins I was giving him tips on how to shred since he hasn’t done it yet but claims he wants to (he confided that he can do some airs on his wakeboard, but then his wife leaned over and said he really isn’t that good).

As I continued chatting with the crowd, all the men I talked to said they too were feeling fairly indifferent about meeting the Prince. The feeling I got was that after all, how much affect does being part of the monarchy really have on Canadians anymore?

Then Prince Charles and Lady Camilla arrived. Almost everyone who was pretending that they were all cool two-minutes before started jockeying for position to meet the Prince as he and his entourage made their way around the room—grown men budded in front of little old ladies just to try and ensure they got their handshake in.

Once Kristen (the GF) and I firmly staked-out our spot I started to wonder what I would say to the dude. Really, what do I have of interest to say to the Prince of Wales? As Charles moved my way and extended his hand (which you’re only allowed to shake if he holds it out to you) I figured the best policy was just to stick with what you know.

“I work for Canada’s national snowboard magazine so on behalf of all the snowboarders in Canada thanks for visiting,” I said.

After a pause Charles looked at me and replied, “Magazine?...Snowboard?...Oh, well thank you. I’ve tried snowboarding myself but it isn’t easy to learn when you’re 60.”

I told him my dad still snowboards at 64 even though he really skis. I’m not really sure why I said it and I can only suppose I was trying to be supportive. We jawed a little more and that was that—in truth I was surprised he said as much as he did.

Later I ran into Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP, the Hon. Micheal Gravelle who, incidentally, is Matt Houghton’s uncle, and was there with Matt’s mom Susan (what are the odds right?). Minister Gravelle shared that he had also noticed how people changed when the Prince and Lady Camilla showed up and suggested that their presence was in fact a great equalizer. And I have to agree with him—no matter how high-rolling some of the people in the room might have been, when everyone lined up for a chance to receive a simple handshake like a bunch of giddy shreds waiting for the lift to open on a pow day we were--for a few minutes at least--all the same.

Houghton and Ricci: See you at the mini next week.

Posted: November 5, 2009 at 04:40 PM
By: Gerhard Gross

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! G has been over to keep me company and carved me a jack-o-lantern. Ever wonder where that tradition came from?

The story of the Jack o'Lantern comes from Irish folklore. Jack was a crafty farmer who tricked the Devil into climbing a tall tree. When the Devil reached the highest branch, Jack carved a large cross in the trunk, making it impossible for the Devil to climb down. In exchange for help getting out of the tree, the Devil promised never to tempt Jack with evil again. When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven for his sins and turned away from Hell because of his trickery. Condemned to wander the Earth without rest, Jack carved out one of his turnips, took an ember from the devil, and used it for a lantern to light his way. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern."

More Jack-o-lantern trivia:

Most j.o.l.s ever lit in one place? 30,128 on October 21, 2006 on Boston Common

World's largest j.o.l.? 1,469 lb on October 1, 2005 at the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Association Weigh-off

Anyway, we had big plans to join friends for a little old fashioned Halloween fun involving bobbing for apples and peeled grapes, but it wasn't meant to be. Instead, I have been struck down by a crazy bug they tell me is most likely H1N1 with a side dish of strep throat. It's now day five.

Things came to a head yesterday with the strep and the whole not being able to breathe thing, so it was off to the doc's again and he equipped me with two inhalers and some antibiotics. Thanks to a little pharmaceutical help, today is the first day I've actually felt better (as opposed to worse) since this whole thing began.

Anyway, rest assured I am not handing out candy to young children, and once this is over, I'll be even more motivated to get onto 2010 as planned.

And since laughter is the best medicine:

Q. Why do demons and ghouls hang out together? A. Because demons are a ghouls best friend!

Q. Where does a ghost go on Saturday night? A. Anywhere where he can boo-gie.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The sun came out on Sunday. The temperature was up, too. It was enough to send me tail- spinning into a vortex of restlessness (and maybe even some guilt!) and that's how I knew the off-season was over.

Since the end of racing, I've put a stop to "training" and just kept up with "exercise" on a whenever-I-feel-like-it basis. Now's when you get to dust off your runners, hike with family and friends, and play in the woods with folks you don't normally get a chance to ride with. And it's so important to slack off, I can't even tell you. You must clear your brain of all the crap racing fills it up with and fall in love with bikes again or you'll never make it to your next race.

You'll end up a "Christmas Star" ... someone who is in great shape in December because they didn't bother to let their race fitness go to pasture, but who will not last until it really counts: April. Check out Joe Friel's blog on the topic ... his site is a good one to bookmark, and his book has always been a great help to me!

Last week, I started slotting in 'training'. I call this my "planning" phase. I mentally map out the kinds of activities I want included in the upcoming training plan, even going so far as to name a day and a time. But then I end up blowing it off completely. It's a process. Last week was about planning, this week will be about execution

So with a sunny Sunday to kick things off, I postponed the yoga idea so I could take advantage of the weather, and got G to agree to spin to see the horses of Sunnybrook Stables. The horses were awesome and were totally into raw food. I grabbed clumps of green grass for them to eat instead of the bits of hay and dried leaves in their pen and was soon best friends with all them. Even the biting one.

Earlier this fall, I read Brendan Brazier's book Thrive Fitness and his training philosophy is very close to mine so I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes. Plus, it includes his great information on diet, which is another area I've made some huge changes.

I used to be a completely different shopper -- I bought things that claimed to be "low fat" or "organic" based on how long it would take to make them. But even if something tells you on the box it's good for you, it's still in a box, therefore bad for you. I knew diet was important but until I started reading about where our foods really come from, how processed they are, and what they mean to the body, I was not a healthy eater. Even though I thought I was. I first started making changes at the beginning of race season this year and at the same time posted some of my best results ever. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm running with it. I'll have more to say about diet in a later post but for now I'm just happy to have another arrow in my quiver.

And of course, I am looking forward to another round of Daffyd's amazing spin class at RPM Studio. The course, while not yet confirmed, usually runs from January to March and meets twice per week (traditionally Thursdays for 1.5 hours and Sundays for 2 hours). We go through the training periods together, working on single leg drills, hill climbs, endurance and intervals as well as testing. Working in a group on hard workouts is such a great benefit. You think, "well that guy next to me is really going for it, what's my excuse?" I find I get a lot more out of myself at RPM than I can on my trainer in my living room.

They also offer strength training through their gravity program -- an exercise machine that uses your own body weight as resistance. With new equipment on the lower level, like bosu balls, I expect to be spending a lot more time at RPM this season.

So with another year of training, on higher quality fuel, and a slightly tweaked strength routine I expect 2010 will be something to really look forward to. Happy Training!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My favourite "lines"

I'm lucky that part of my dayjob involves doing a lot of reading and research -- everything from new bio technologies to the rules of Cricket. One thing I'm always looking for is a good quotation, and luckily there are some great sites out there to help you find that academic or poetic line to back up what you're trying to present.

Once, my dayjob involved some research on bikes. And so I thought I'd share with you the great lines I found. Here are my favourite quotations on bikes; if there's one I missed, add it as a comment!

Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. ~Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart. ~Diane Ackerman

For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. ~Bill Strickland, The Quotable Cyclist

A bicycle does get you there and more ... And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun. ~Bill Emerson, "On Bicycling," Saturday Evening Post, 29 July 1967

The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community. ~Ann Strong

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs

Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm. ~Jacquie Phelan

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live. ~Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"

Cycling is unique. No other sport lets you go like that - where there's only the bike left to hold you up. If you ran as hard, you'd fall over. Your legs wouldn't support you. ~Steve Johnson

The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard. ~Sloan Wilson

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~Ernest Hemingway

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy

Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia. ~H.G. Wells

Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own. ~Louis J. Helle, Jr.

The secret to mountain biking is pretty simple. The slower you go the more likely it is you'll crash. ~Julie Furtado

Dog-eared for my retirement

Wandering around the internets today I came upon a pretty amazing bike tour. However 'Tour' seems like too nice a word for what this trip entails ... especially since they claim you can even race this bohemoth if you want.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Silk Route.

It goes from Istanbul to Xi'an, goes for 114 days and covers almost 10,700km. Hot dog! You get 22 rest days (92 ride days, one travel day), and the average daily mileage is 115km -- ranging from 80km on rough terrain to over 180km on the nicer courses. And speaking of "ranges" you'll cover more than 3,600m of elevation.

From Bike Rumour: "The route traces the steps of soldiers, merchants, monks and adventurers through some of the highest passes and harshest deserts as they created powerful political and trade routes as far back as 138 BC." Sounds like a good time to me!

Cost? Almost $13,000 ... but as Mark Twain says, (and which is handily present on the Silk Route's website to remind you) "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did do."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Women's Specific 2010

It's a fun time of year: racing is over, training for 2010 is just in its baby stages and that leaves tons of spare time to drool over the next year's bikes on offer. I am not in the market for a new rig this year as I am far too attached to my Trek to let it go just yet.

However, there's never any harm in looking.

One thing Trek really stands out for is their understanding of what women who race really need from their bikes. If you look at the specs on their racers, the geometry is exactly the same (I did actually look -- the one size that is available in both women's and men's model is the 17.5 and all angles and measurements are equal). Having taken some Trek University courses (true story), I found out that that's because -- as I always suspected -- women who spend a lot of time in the saddle need to be fitted just as "racy" as men. The difference comes in the sizes available (WSD: 14.5, 15.5, 16.5, 17.5; "mens": 15.5, 17.5, 18.5, 19.5, 21.5) and the colours.

I give you exhibit A: Two equally racy machines, much coveted and sought after. Almost exactly the same, right down to the components.

Trek Top Fuel, 9.8 and Trek Top Fuel 9.8 WSD (with pretty aqua trim)

Then, for fun, I started looking around at other manufacturers' "Women's Specific" designs. I was a little disappointed. Take Giant for example. Last season, Giant introduced the new "Anthem X" and it is back on offer this year in a fancy red paint job. The women's counterpart gets points for not copping out like I've seen in the past with a sissy paint job (stealth black is always in style) but what's with the recreational position? This is the bike they have listed under "competition" on their website but it looks like something my mom would like to try out (no offence intended and I'm sure she'd be the first to agree she's not into "competition").

A closer inspection reveals that there are no small sizes offered for women (you can get the same sizes in the red one) and the geometry has got the female rider racing more upright, with a shorter top tube, on a shorter wheel base. Hello! That equals slower.

Observe, exhibit B:

Giant Anthem X1 and Giant Anthem X1W

So where does that leave us girls? If you want a racy set up, both Trek and Giant have served me well. Since I'm a firm believer in Trek's stance that if you are a woman who races bikes (ie spends a lot of time in the saddle), you don't need much in the way of "Women's Specific Design" it stands to reason that I could just forget all about Giant's "W" option.

But to Giant I say, if you're going to do it, do it. And don't even get me started on the mish mash of components on the Women's rigs. It's like they just throw whatever's left lying around the factory on the W bikes. My impression is that Giant just treats the women's bike as a marketing opportunity; not as a way to progress the sport for women, which is too bad for them because more women than ever want to ride, and Giant's response is kinda weak!

/end rant.

And now just for fun, top-of-the-line 2010s: doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl for these beauties. Just gotta be fast.

Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL and Giant Anthem X Adavnced SL 0


I don't know about you, but I am a happy subscriber to "Thoughts to Keep you Moving", the blog-in-your-inbox put out by Peter Glassford and Steve Neal. On Tuesdays, they send the "workout of the week" which is a great bonus because each coach puts one in, thus providing two workouts that I don't have to come up with myself. Happy days!

This week, Peter asks that we take a yoga class. That made me realize it has been forever since I last went to yoga. And yet every season, it is a goal of mine to keep up my practice at least once a week. So with newfound determination, I plan on visiting the Moksha Yoga Studio on the Danforth. They have a ton of classes to choose from, it's close to home, and they even have a $20 introductory special that gives you a week of unlimited yoga.

(As an aside, most yoga studios in Toronto have that deal so I figure if I just go to a different one each week, I'll save a ton of cash and do a ton of yoga! haha.)

The other thing I like about Moksha is that it is HOT. Meaning they jack the temperature up to about 37 degrees to allow you to get deep into your stretches. Plus when it's that hot, I find it is much easier to focus on breathing and my practice. And it helps get rid of the toxins in your body by sweating them out. Don't settle for mediocre heat! I used to be a member at Extreme Fitness and they promised a hot yoga practice, but when I went, it was "warm" at most, and the poses were more active style than the long holds I'm used to in raised temperatures. In proper Hot Yoga, you should sweat. A lot.

I know being in a hot room for 90 minutes isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you're a cyclist, (or any kind of athlete!) definitely consider hot yoga. Moksha's website says, "Many cyclists come to the studio with chronic knee pain. With time, however, hips, calves and hamstrings start to open up, knee pain diminishes and can eventually disappear entirely. Cyclists also report an improvement in low back and shoulder pain."

If there's a hot yoga studio near you, check it out. Bring your mat, a big towel to cover it, a hand towel for brow-wipes, a water bottle (and electrolyte drink if you need it!) and a headband.

They say not to eat for 2 to 3 hours before, but I find that hard to handle in the heat, so I usually just have an energy gel 15 minutes before class, and another one right after so I don't bonk. And wear clothes that you can sweat in! Lots of girls just wear shorts and sport bras and guys usually just wear shorts.

Can't wait to get back into yoga. Thanks SNPD for reminding me!