Friday, July 31, 2009

Mountainview Preview

Raced the Mountainview Thursday night series last night -- first time on a mountain bike in a little while. I've been giving some long overdue attention to my road bike these days. Felt funny!

Couple course notes for those yet to check things out:
  • Start climb ... I forgot how much that thing hurts. Thank goodness we just do it once!
  • First long singletrack climb removed and replaced with a highspeed down-up
  • Glassford Grind (technical uphills including tight corners/switchbacks) now only on the 1:30 race course (wasn't it on the 11:30's last season too?)
  • Wicked, challenging single track with lots of flow if you know where to look

Thank you Mountainview! I am looking forward to next Sunday for sure.

This weekend will include a return to Buckwallow which I'm pretty stoked about. Can't beat a day of riding, Weber's and of course a stop at ye ol' swimming hole.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Real Food & Performance - By Joe Friel

From Joe Friel's Blog, author of the Training Bible series

Have you noticed how food is becoming medicine? Cheerios lowers your cholesterol. Activia yogurt keeps you regular. Milk builds strong bones. We no longer are encouraged to eat food simply because it tastes good. It should also correct some medical condition we have.

There is a similar trend going on in sports nutritional products. Athletes seem to be coming to the conclusion that sports bars, protein drink mixes, electrolyte concoctions and more are healthy and a good source of what we need to improve performance. Athletes comment on such supplements as if it is a foregone conclusion that this stuff is not only healthy, but also the best source of whatever it is we need to become faster and more enduring.

I believe just the opposite: A diet high in such highly processed stuff (I don’t think of them as “food”) is unhealthy. Nature has been making foods such as fruits and vegetables for millions of years. We evolved quite nicely as a species eating these along with animal products. Such foods seem to have everything we need to not only survive as a species but to thrive as athletes.

On the other hand, sports nutrition scientists have been making their stuff for about 30 years. And it’s only been for the last 15 years or so that athletes have preferred to carry a bar in their pocket on a bike ride rather than a banana. Now we’ve come to the point where many (most?) think that the best possible food to eat post-workout is something out of a plastic bag. Some even carry this preference for sports nutritionals into their daily lives eating stuff throughout the day that was unheard of just months ago.

Here are a few guidelines I believe will help you when it comes to making food selections.

• If the product comes in plastic packaging eat it only in very small portions, preferably during exercise, and then only because of convenience.
• If the product has more than five ingredients listed on the package it’s best avoided or eaten in very limited quantities. Eat these only when “real” food is not readily available.
• The foods you should be the most wary of are those that proclaim loudly to be “healthy” or “all natural.”
• Typically, the more expensive a product is per calorie, the less healthy it is.
• The less advertising there is for a food, the healthier it is.
• If your grandparents could not have eaten it, it’s best avoided.

This is not to say that you should never eat sports bars or the like. There are times and situations when they are convenient. But the primary time to eat them is during exercise, and then only very long or very intense workouts. Generally, if you are in decent shape and the workout lasts less than two hours all you need is water, assuming you had a meal sometime in the last few hours before starting the session. For such short workouts you really don’t need all of that sugar or the other stuff (protein, sodium, magnesium, vitamins, minerals, etc) we’re told are some how necessary for sports performance.

For optimal health and sports performance simplify your diet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today's Random Thought

Here's hoping that in my next life, I could be a champion race horse.

The best medical care, best training, coaching and support.

Five star accommodations & transportation, expert grooming and the best in cuisine.

Dates with only the hottest studs.

My whole purpose in life would be to just keep on racing.

And someone else would pay for all of it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Breakfast of Champions!

Just sitting here waiting for trails to dry (where is the summer?!) enjoying a green smoothie. Can't say enough about these tasty drinks. Packed full of the nutrients we all need, they are nutritious and delicious. Plus, they're easy to make and quick to clean up. I have one every morning and it means as much to me as a regular cup of coffee does to the average Joe. Except I don't get the jitters and instead start my days clear-eyed and energized.

The fact is, most of us aren't getting the greens we need. The best nutrition advice you can give is "eat more fruits and vegetables more often". And green smoothies make following that advice soooo much easier. No need to get any more detailed than that here, so with that, I leave you with the first green smoothie I ever tried (the "gateway smoothie" ...)

Give it a whirl! All you need is a blender and a glass.

Strawberry - Banana - Romaine

7 leaves of romaine
(or the greens of your choice! Experiment!)
2 Bananas

1 cup of fresh
Ontario strawberries
2 cups of water

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road,
without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”

~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Buckwallow Addendum

Andrew, of Buckwallow podium fame (congrats buddy!) sent this to me today over bookface. I'm around the 7:56 mark ...

Thanks to "MCGYVER29er" of the forum for putting it together!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Race Report: Buckwallow (O-Cup 5)

Buckwallow is my favourite race course. As I mentioned earlier I was worried that I wouldn't be able to enjoy it to its fullest due to a nasty weather forecast, but with Nancy back at her rain-dance post, all was well and the weather stayed perfect for racing. The course was mint-y fresh, with just enough moisture to keep the dust down and the trails tacky. I was stoked all morning -- couldn't WAIT to get on it.

It's been a long time since I last raced an Ocup, so the usual preparations of packing and kitting up kind of sat funny and I couldn't tell if I was nervous or excited. I decided to do an extra long warm up to settle down. Rolled up to the start line and found ten chatty, excited ladies in my start pen. We shared a few pleasantries and then it was time to go!

I felt good, had good legs and the pace was totally manageable. I stayed near the front, made a few braking errors but kept on it and before I knew it, the first single track was just around the next corner. A little voice said "go" and I accelerated up the climb pushing past Emily Batty and Ashely Barson to take the hole-shot. Similar to Mansfield, my brain started screaming "holy shit, I'm in front!" I told that little voice to shut up because unlike Mansfield, Buck requires full concentration to keep from making mistakes.

And I didn't make any.

The entire first lap I rode completely clean, even greasing lines I hadn't yet nailed in preriding. I was so stoked. Emily was on my wheel and having the U23 National Champion and Canada Cup Leader behind you certainly does something for your concentration. I led for awhile, long enough to think I could maybe take a podium out of this if I kept it up, but then in the short "hilly" section I hit a bit of a wall and my punch disappeared. Emily and Ashely went by and by then, the men had started to catch up to us so there were a few more folks on the trails. I tried not to panic, regained my focus and put my energy back into my cranks. My first lap I finished a minute and change behind Emily and Ashely and when I came around (in third) Nancy and Jules were there to cheer me on!! That turned my frown upside down and I powered through the feedzone and lapped through.

The "Moose Mayhem" section of single track went really well and I still had great double track legs on the other side. But back in "Toad Twister" and "Show Time" something went wrong and I started making mistakes. I hit a tree, and the bike took most of the beating twisting my seat 90 degrees. I didn't notice because I was standing to get back up to speed but then I had to stop again to fix it. Once you lose momentum at Buck it's tough to get back into your groove and that cost me two positions.

My third lap I raced solid and steady but lap four I crashed again. By then, my legs were really complaining but I had some "last lap kick" -- that extra bit of push because the horses know they're headed back to the barn.

All in all, it was a great day. I knew I'd go home happy no matter what after such an exciting first lap and with Jules and Nancy there to cheer me on, I couldn't help but feel like a star even halfway down the day's standings. I had serious thoughts that I could maybe podium but I guess it wasn't meant to be. If I'm honest with myself, I'd admit to checking-out a little bit this summer. It's been a long season for me and it's hard to keep coming back to the bike with all the other "life" stuff going on. Although I was a bit disappointed in the result after such an exciting start, I'm stoked to get back to work for my last two races: Mountainview in Midland and Provincial Championships at Kelso.

I ended up finishing in 6th, collecting 5th place points because third place was from BC, putting me 7th place in the overall ranking. Thanks to Tara for keeping me company on the drive and being such an expert feeder. Thanks again to Jules and Nancy for leading the cheering section. And of course, thanks to Sweet Pete's for keeping me rolling.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Atherton Project

With Fort William approaching, the Red Bull trio are up against it. As Rachel heads in to hospital to get her shoulder fixed, Dan struggles to regain fitness on the eve of the 4X. And all eyes are on Gee as he attempts to take his first ever title at Fort William.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Ode to Buckwallow

I saw the weather forecast for Sunday and it made me very unhappy. Rain. And rain every day leading up to more rain. Last year we found out for certain that Buckwallow joins Albion Hills as a race course that doesn't handle water too well.

I give you Exhibit A:

This year the course follows many of the same trails and boasts some extra rooty sections (+ rocks of course) that really put racers to the test once they become slickery. On the bright side, Buckwallow gets so wallow-like I won't have to worry about changing over to my mud tires -- tire selection just doesn't matter when you're racing in soup. But that's probably just my laziness talking. Tire changing is about my LEAST favourite bike chore in the whole wide world.

That doesn't mean I won't make other preparations.

Tonight for example, I just finished an "Ode to Buckwallow" workout. I started with some 30/30s (my favourite!) to remind myself what real kick feels like. And then, I did a trail ride through the don in which I purposefully dismounted and remounted every 2 or 3 minutes, running for 1 or 2 minutes with the bike. Something tells me this is going to come in handy on Sunday. To complete the experience, it even started to rain on me as I was finishing up.

I will also go to the shop and buy a new chain and new brake pads. This is a good idea for two reasons:

1) The surest way to ward off rain is to do everything in your power to be extra prepared for it. So if I buy these expensive items in anticipation of the carnage rain (and resulting mud) would bring Sunday, it will surely NOT rain.

2) If that doesn't work. I'll already have my new brake pads and chain before the shop gets cleaned out like after Albion Hills Ocup. Ha, I'm so clever.

So get ready to get dirty Buckwallow racers. It's going to be a gritty, grinny good time. Peace.

Buck, 2008 -- All done.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Preride

Andrew, Tara and I headed up to check out Buckwallow thus breaking Andrew's no-preride streak on the 2009 ocup circuit.

Usually a good idea to preride Buck ... it's a flowy course, except when it's not. Or except when you're not I guess I should say. Logged a satisfying four laps, including one at race pace. Such a nice thing to be able to spend that kind of time on the course, made possible by it not being the day before the race; a first for me this season. Of course, it'll get tracked out, or it'll rain, or the line I so carefully selected will be unavailable due to other racers ... so really the benefits of preriding are in the eye of the beholder I think.

We weren't the only ones up at Buck today either ... ran into plenty of folks from Cycle Solutions and of course, Sweet Pete's: Jerome was kind enough to pace my hot lap and even went so far as to heckle me which worked wonders. Then as I was leaving, a klutzy, tired, biking disaster, I ran into Martin and Ivan too.

Getting packed up at the car, a deer came over to check things out and she stuck around for a while ... methinks she's used to seeing riders, but riders weren't used to seeing her, as evidenced by the poor old dude that almost t-boned her while she stood on the trail. Luckily, disaster was averted.

After a long day (exacerbated by Highway 400 nonsense), I was happy to get back to the homestead and discovered new neighbours living under the porch!

And now? Eat until I pass out.


PS - check out my horoscope today: "You will, today, lay the foundation for a more solid, stable, successful future." I think that means next Sunday will be solid, stable and successful!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

No one likes a quitter ...

Some words of wisdom from the boss himself in this famed cameo from "Dodgeball" ...

Tour drama continues as media speculates as to whether or not Contador will remain Astana's prima donna or if Lance will ever-so-innocently steal the spotlight. Stay tuned.

For now, I leave you with the star of Dodgeball, and the star of the Tour, hamming it up before the TTT.

Demand Media Video -- powered by

Race Tracks

This little ditty came up on ye ol' ipod the other day and it brought back such fond memories of spin class and sweat pouring down my face as I fought through yet another interval, that I have decided to make it the next Race Track.

Thanks Kanye and thank you Daffyd!

Monday, July 6, 2009


The Tour started this Saturday with a time trial out of Monaco. Although in my last post I noted that road is not my most favouritest thing, the soap opera that is the Tour de France is definitely excellent TV drama.

This year, seven time Tour champion Lance Armstrong is back from retirement, making bold claims that he's there to win. The only problem is that he's supposed to be there working for 2007 tour winner Alberto Contador, the 26 year old phenom who never got the chance to defend his title in 2008. That year's tour went to Carlos Sastre, a very nice Spaniard who's time had finally come after spending years working for other team leaders.

Today marks stage 3 of a 21 stage race run clockwise around France. Fabian Cancellara grabbed the yellow jersey on day one and he's got a good grip on it -- commentators say they expect him to keep it until at least stage 7. But it's the Green jersey that is the race to watch in these early days before the big mountain stages; right now, that belongs to Mark Cavendish.

For all the info on the race, standings and its rich history, check out the Tour's home on the web. My other source for tour coverage is so be sure to stop there too. Live updates are provided at both sites so even if you don't have cable (like me), you can read the tour as it happens.

See you at the pub for the 8pm repeat coverage on OLN!
Cavendish takes Stage 2

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Race Report: CHIN International

Yesterday, a teammate sent around an email reminding us that the CHIN road race in Toronto was set for today. I've never done the event, for a couple of reasons:

1) It's a road race. Enough said.
2) It's on Canada Day and usually Canada Day is a long weekend without a race, so I take full advantage on a dock somewhere

This year, lacking the long weekend and having nothing better to do (besides sleep in ... ohhh hindsight), I mentally bookmarked the race figuring if I remembered to go, I'd do it.

So this morning I woke up and still somewhat non-committal, had my breakfast telling myself I'd just go down and take a look at who's racing before dropping my 60 bucks on the entry fee (*gasp*).

The other thing about Canada Day 2009 is that it was supposed to piss rain all day. Another strike against doing this race since wet roads combined with tight packs, plentiful corners and skinny tires is a recipe for a broken collarbone and road rash. However, defying the odds, the sun shone all day long. So after riding all the way down to the CNE grounds, getting kitted up and everything, how could I not enter?

Feeling more than a little unprepared, I went through the ordeal of pinning on my numbers. For some reason roadies are freaks about this little ritual. It has to be done "just so" or else you'll be DQ'd. So numbers on the left, off I went to warm up. I certainly felt like the little fish when sharks like Merril Collins (National Criterium Champ) rolled by.

On the start line, the usual roadie conversations ensued. I felt even more out of place. At least I kind of looked like I belonged -- I mean, my shorts matched my jersey and I remembered to wear white socks and everything.

The whistle blew and we were off. Well, they were off. I on the other hand suffered a "wardrobe malfunction" right off the bat: my cleat would NOT clip into my pedal. It is really hard to start a race when only one shoe is fixed to the bike. I tried again, and the girls got farther away. I tried once more, and the girls got even farther ahead. And then -- as is the case in road races if you screw up as I did -- it was pretty much over. With the pace and the headwinds, it became quickly apparent that I was not going to be bridging the gap.

So ... you can guess how the rest of the race went. Not much more to say.

The bright side? I got a good workout, worked a bit on my cycling tan lines, and since I was all alone, I am sure I got some nice solo shots by the photographers lining the course. Hopefully they show up online somewhere.

Thanks CHIN for reminding me why I don't like criteriums.

Happy Canada Day!