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