Monday, May 31, 2010

Race Report: Canada Cup/Ontario Cup #3, Hardwood Hills

It was hot. Too hot. 30 degrees hot. And it had been for the entire week leading up to the race which was a far cry from last year's tacky trails and snowflakes on the start line. This year we were choking on dust just on the warm-up. Beacuse it was a Canada Cup, there was an extensive call-up which left me in the back from the start. The first 400 metres were all about trying to keep the dust out of my airways and collision avoidance. Usually I have a decent kick at the beginning, but as soon as the heat intercepted my rising heart rate, I was feeling like puke.

And so, I suffered. Not going to go on too much with this post because I didn't even have fun yesterday, let alone a good result. And no one wants to hear me winge about it.

So since you either win or you learn, here's what I took away:

1) Heat = limiter. Must do more to protect myself from the sun not just on race day, but the days leading up to it. (Doesn't help that elites have to pick up their packages on the day before ... might as well preride, right?)

2) Still fighting expectations vs taking February off. This leads to a neurotic back and forth that takes up too much brain power while trying to just do my best.

3) Gotta get my head up in the single track -- can't afford silly mistakes or erroneous braking, especially on a course like Hardwood.

4) A couple niggling aches and pains to deal with so I can get the power I do have to work for me.
So all in all, it was a hard day. I fought, but my fight only lasted about a lap and a half and then I accidentally pulled the give-up switch. Didn't feel much like hunting after about 40 minutes in the saddle. In the first lap, I made a couple really brilliant passes (if I do say so myself) over the "secret" lines I'd scoped in pre-ride -- those have never come in handy before but I got two yesterday. I was riding smooth-ish and everything. So that's a positive. Nevermind that my prey later came back to pass me in much the same fashion.

Anyway, Emily Batty ended up winning it (putting nearly 30 minutes into me ...), with Mical Dyck and Amanda Sin up there with her. I was feeling too used up to stick around for the awards, and felt it best to start racing my "hangover" home.

When I got there, Gerhard had planted the whole garden. He let me take a nap all afternoon while he spread around dirt in the hot sun. He took care of all the dishes, made dinner, and then did the dishes again. He brought me ice cream on the couch. He rubbed my tired hands for me, and got up early this morning to make sure I had a good breakfast (asparagus omelette with feta ... mmmmm).

So ... even though I didn't have a good race, I'm pretty stoked to have such a good guy. Thanks Gerhard!!

And as always, thanks Sweet Pete's. Without the shop I might not have even had a bike this time, but they were able to replace a frayed cable in the nick of time. The bike ran beautifully. I just wish I'd held up my end of the bargain a little better.

Next week: Mountainview ... ?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

28 Seconds link Bryant and Sheppard forever

It's hard reading through facebook status updates the past couple of days. I have seen both sides of the coin expressed by my cycling friends and colleagues.

I have chosen (until now) not to weigh in, but I will say one thing: in the end, I think Michael Bryant put it best himself:

“This has turned out to be a tale about addiction, mental health, an independent justice system, a tragic death and a couple out on their wedding anniversary with the top down. It is not a morality play about bikes versus cars, couriers versus drivers, or about class, privilege and politics. It’s just about how, in 28 seconds, everything can change. And thereafter time marches on. And so will I.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Long ... riding.

Awesome weekend. Would have been even awesomer at Mont Tremblant, but then again, all that driving on such beautiful days would have seemed a waste.

Saturday, I just enjoyed the fact that it was raining and crappy. I did all the laundry, cooked up some food, cleaned up around the house, read my book-club book and rested. Much needed day of recovery.

On Sunday, I got out with the Conquer Cancer team, "Happiest on my bike", for the first time and we had a great 100km+ ride starting at Kelso, and lapping Guelph before closing the loop. Felt great, and I'm happy to report I've got the road bike back in a condition that doesn't hurt my knees (what was up with that?!). I was nervous about the upcoming ride -- 160km two days in a row seems a little heavy -- but now my confidence has been restored and i'm looking forward to spending some long hours in the saddle with this crew. Good times in the 5-1-9.

Note to self though, cloud cover still means you need to wear sun screen. I have a ridiculous tan line where my arm band was, but at least i wasn't wearing gloves so my hands aren't mickey mouse-ed.

Monday, I knew I wanted to ride the mountain bike, but I'd flatted the week before and as anyone who rides Bontrager knows, getting those tires to seat is nearly impossible without an air compressor, so it was still up on the figurative blocks.

A couple notes were flying around about various trail rides that were either too far to drive to, or too early in the morning to start on a holiday. But I was willing to do what it took.

After about my third session wrestling with the tire, Jerome emailed to say he was headed up to Hardwood, and had room for me. I jumped at the opportunity to check out the Canada Cup Course, and Ben at Hardwood was kind enough to end the battle with my tire. Jerome and I had a very awesome ride and I'm loving the course up there. Thanks for the lines, J-rock. If it's that hot on race day I'll have to figure out some creative cooling for bottles and bodies. Scorcher!!

At the end, we pooled our resources and ended up with an awesome snack mix for the ride home of raspberries, blackberries, raw almonds (toasted from sitting in my bag!), dates and dried mango. The traffic wasn't too terrible, but more than we expected on such a killer afternoon at only 2:30! I was happy for a cold shower at the end of the drive.

Staying home this weekend was definitely the right move -- the next three weekends are all laps. Feeling a little more recharged -- although some rest days this week will be a nice treat. Tonight, Boot Camp!

Review: Specialized Pro RBX Shorts for women

Your new training partner!

First of all, thanks Specialized for sending such a primo piece of cycling apparel ... twice.

You see, the first time, I goofed and requested a size too big. Which turned into a great lesson when selecting shorts for yourself. Make sure you try them on, and if you can't, most web sites (including Specialized's ... don't ask me how I missed this) include a sizing chart.

However if you're like me, you'll still feel anxious about the sizing chart because when it comes to women's cycling clothing, it can feel like they designed them without a woman anywhere near the sewing machine. You know the common complaints: shorts that are too low-waisted, or too short, or that fit around your middle and then cut the circulation off in your thighs; jerseys that are too short-torsoed, etc etc. I own a few things that are one size too big, just to get around these points (at the cost of others!).

Good news! You can trust Specialized.

I had the pleasure of emailing back and forth with one of Specialized's R&D pros -- a woman -- and once we got me in the correct size, I was off to the races. Here's my thoughts on the shorts after breaking them in over numerous mountain bike rides, on the trainer, and finally to cap off my experience, a 100+ km road ride this past Sunday.

Beautiful. Not too short, not too long. I have no idea how many "panels" there are, but I can tell you that there aren't any annoying seams to dig in anywhere. Everything is flat, and in matching black stitching -- I can't stand when the stitching doesn't match. So, I dare say that they're even slimming ... and in more ways than one! On the mtb, they always stayed in one place even though I was moving around much more than on the road bike. Speaking of mtb, I'm not one for bibs -- being a girl who sometimes has to pee in the woods -- so I also appreciate that they are nice and high-waisted so you don't get "gapped" in the rear. Finally, the waist is fit properly, so there's no need for a drawstring to crush into your belly button. Just a nice, flat, comfortable, feels-like-you're-really-in-them fit.

They just feel good. These shorts have some heft, but not too much. They feel light and they don't constrict, and yet they still support your muscles and they're not so thin that the sun can get in and show everyone your bum. It's happened to me before, and it's not pretty. Also, after the scorching heat of the weekend, I can also report that sweat didn't collect in the usual places -- everything was evenly wicked and very comfortable. No saddle sores or chaffing to speak of.

I'm told that they have put a lot of thought into their chamois, and it shows. This is the crucial component of any cycling short, and Specialized has a winner. The chamois is padded, but not bulky. If you're wearing the right size short, it should hug your body at all points -- no part of it is not in contact. I find that sometimes women's shorts are designed with a more upright riding position in mind, but as I found out with my final ride before writing this review, you can be comfortable bent over your road bike in a racy position for a very long time. Only twice did I have to stand up to "readjust" over the entire 100km. And best of all, when you lean forward even farther to get into the drops, the chamois is waiting for you on the bolt and it's as comfy as can be. And when the ride was over, I had no complaints. No numbness. No stinging. The perfect shorts if you have an amourous evening planned. ;)

I expect we'll be sharing many, many miles together before these babies get threadbare. I've washed them many times now and the bands around the cuffs have not cracked. The seams haven't got any orphaned threads. There is no pilling to speak of. The chamois is still as puffy as a cloud. Only time will really tell, but so far, all signs point to the start of a beautiful friendship.

To conclude, I'm stoked on these shorts and they are definitely in the "A-pile". It would be fun if they came in more than two colours, but I'd probably still buy black so the point is moot. If you're in the market for new cycling shorts, head on over to Specialized.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Floyd Landis admits to drug use and accuses Lance Armstrong

From The Star.

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Disgraced American cyclist Floyd Landis has admitted to systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs and accused seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong of involvement in doping, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping but had always denied cheating, sent a series of emails to cycling officials and sponsors acknowledging and detailing his long-term use of banned drugs, the newspaper said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Euro World Cup: the first 15 minutes

Found this via via Andrew Watson and laughed out loud. Not that I've ever experienced it for myself, but this is certainly how I'd imagine it.

By Cody Canning:

"If I were asked to put a start lap of a World Cup into a worded description it would resemble the following:

"Ride for your life from a cheetah for 5 minutes. STOP!! Rock a crying baby to sleep while pounding Red Bulls for the next 30 seconds. Ride as fast as you can from a rabid Polar Bear for another 2 minutes and then compete in a jackass style slip in slide contest. Now its time to run from a fire breathing dragon for 2 more minutes up a slippery slope while jumping hurdles (bodies and bikes). Then you get tossed into the octagon for a short UFC match with some euro dude who just T-Boned you into a fence. Add in some more hardcore sprints for corners and some time spent waiting to get into a piece of singletrack while listening to elevator music. Wallah you’ve just experienced the first 15 minutes of a European World Cup."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Oh yes, it will be mine.

Oh yes, it will be mine.

Oh yes, it will be mine!!!!

A long-time resident of my manifestation board, the day finally came! I am now the owner of a super duper Vita-Mix 5200, including a wet blade and dry blade container, which basically unclips my wings and allows me to soar to all new whole-food heights in my very own kitchen.

Vita Mix Day — as May 8 shall forever be known as — was a windy Saturday. We set off for St. Catharines braving high gusts on the sky way, but nothing could stop us. We rolled up to Costco and battled crowds of consumerism gone rampant and found the Vita Mix reps in the back with only THREE machines left for purchase. Even though I was a sure thing, we decided to put them through the paces and they blended to our hearts' content.

This thing has steel blades that are no match for any food. It can spin them up to 240 m.p.h. It's got a 2 horse-power motor in there, and it's own cooling system, so you can let that sucker go on high all day long, without damaging the machine. And, they last forever. What an investment!!! (for those dying to know, all this does not come cheap, but if you can get to a Costco, you'll save more than a hundred dollars. My blender was $499 + $99 for the dry blade set, which you can use to grind up your own flours from nuts and grains).

So far, I've been using it faithfully at least once, sometimes twice a day. Of course, I'm very excited to have green smoothies back in my life, and although I loved them unconditionally before, I have to say that with the Vita-Mix, they're just that much more heavenly. So smooth.

We also tried the Guacarita featured earlier on this blog ... to mixed reviews. I think it needs some more fine tuning, whereas G had no problem polishing off both of ours, raving about how "weirdly good" it was between gulps. But my luke-warm reception wasn't the Vita-mix's fault -- it performed its role to perfection, producing a silken cocktail like no other. And in only about 5 seconds.

The numerous recipe books, plus internet support it brought with it also claim you can make soup, from start to finish, right in the blender! Just by spinning it around in there, it heats up to the point of boiling. And in only about 4 minutes. Wow.

And don't even get me started on the ice cream. (That's right! Ice Cream and Hot Soup all from the same magical little machine!!) Tonight I have big plans for some lone strawberries and some left over vanilla yogurt. I can't wait.

Guerrillas in the City

Last week, Gerhard, Adlar and I decided to become vandals with a cause. The Toronto Guerrilla Gardeners organized a planting, and so off we went to meet our clandestine leader at a secret street corner with her sacks of seed bombs. It was all very cloak and dagger.

I've always had a healthy fear of authority (ahem) so I was a little worried that we could get into trouble for what we were doing. But the police drove by us and didn't seem to mind so it was easy to just enjoy a sunny evening's walk, making Toronto a little more pretty.

What is Guerrilla Gardening? Basically, illegal, non-permitted prettification of public spaces. GGs go around planting seeds and saplings to help bring a little colour and greenery to the corners of our city. Our mission included "seed bombs" which were biodegradable tea bags stuffed with potting soil and donated wildflower seeds. When they hit the ground, they break open and the contents are free to go wherever the wind takes them.

It was only about an hour of our time, we met some cool people, visited a park we'd never been to, hopped a fence, and threw things off bridges. What could be more fun?

PS - If anyone recognizes the zones in these photos and sees flowers growing there, let us know our mission was a success!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cancer Conundrum

Today I was invited to luncheon with the Canadian Cancer Society as a thank you for the many years of monthly donations I have contributed towards cancer research. It was held at the Royal York, and the customary rubber chicken was served along with some sad steamed vegetables and a few pastries for dessert. There was also a plate of sliced fruit (which G tells me actually comes from a bag) and tea and coffee.

The speakers spoke about the impact our donations make in Cancer research. They spoke of dramatically improving the quality of life while patients undergo radiation therapy. Higher rates of "cure". But the final key note speaker went right for the jugular with a plea on behalf of children with cancer.

The whole lunch left me oscilating between pulling out my cheque book, and pulling my support entirely.

I will try to sum up in point form.

1.) Kids with cancer. Children are now getting cancer more frequently, and while 80% are being treated to the point of being "cancer free", 20% cannot be saved. But it's only a recent phenomenom that kids get cancer in the first place. Cancer used to be something "old" people got -- a disease commonly associated with aging. So shouldn't we be more concerned about things like pre-fab baby forumla? Bisphenol A in our bottles (or whatever other chemical you care to list)? The idea that a trip to McDonald's is a "treat"? I'm by no means a scientist, but to me it seems like humans as a species are a weaker set because of the crappy things we eat, the way we throw medication at everything, and our propensity to treat symptoms instead of always striving towards optimal health. It's no wonder our next generations aren't getting a fair shake.

2.) Our meal. Here we are sitting at a luncheon, hearing the story of a breast cancer survivor, and yet nowhere on the table was there a cancer-fighting food. Where were the green leafy vegetables? Even a glass of red wine? And that chicken had better have been free-range because otherwise that's a whole other story. See Food Inc. to clear the air on chicken farming. Plus, our desserts (except for the fruit) were full of white sugars, flour, and dairy products, likely from cows with too much growth hormone. Should have ordered the vegan option. We're only beginning to realize now how our conventional diets have played into all kinds of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and of course, Cancer.

3.) Cancer is not the enemy. Cancer is not the cause. Cancer is the EFFECT. They said every three minutes in Canada, someone is diagnosed with Cancer. There's more and more cancer because our environment, our diets, and our lifestyles are becoming more and more polluted. They said something like $48 million dollars was raised by the Canadian Cancer Society last year. Imagine if just some of that money was put into subsidizing organic farming. Or community centres, or awareness campaigns about how we really are what we eat. Even bike lanes, and green spaces to encourage people to cut down on their driving and their "screen-time" (honestly the fact that that's even become a term is just scary.)

4.) Cancer Care. At the same time that I gripe about all the points above, I've seen firsthand too many times what Cancer can do -- both to patients and their families. And I am so grateful for the work of the Canadian Cancer Society in their efforts to make the whole experience even one iota less hellish. Because big changes don't happen overnight, and you don't need a crystal ball to know that Cancer is going to be with us for a while yet. So having things like volunteer drivers to get you to your chemo treatments, or doctors who care about the mucositis that comes with treatment in children, or nurses to pray and cry with you, or researchers trying to figure out how to keep treatment-abandonment down in El Salvador are all super valuable to me.

So I guess at the end of this rant, I want to say thank you to Cancer researchers, nurses and doctors for the difference you've made in the lives of my loved ones, and strangers I'll never come to know. I know I said I might pull my support, but as long as there's cancer, I'll keep doing whatever I can to do something.

If you want to help, visit the Canadian Cancer Society online, or consider supporting my Ride to Conquer Cancer.

More Sweet Pete's!

The CTV Lady Likes her Band Wagon

Here's the Kona blog of another earned media extravaganza for the boys at Sweet Pete's! See Owen's appearance on Canada AM by following the link!

Nice one, Sweet Pete's!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thanks, CAA!

My new CAA Plus membership came in the mail last week, and right on its heels, this announcement posted by ...

Thanks Rhain for sharing. Hopefully I never need it, but in case I do, I'll be sure to include my card in my kit along with my cell phone. I'm sure my dad will continue to just call Kim.

Here's the article:

The Canadian Automobile Association of South Central Ontario is starting a service called "Bike Assist", which provides assistance to CAA members when they are out on their bikes:

As Ontarians make a shift towards a greener lifestyle and with more and more commuters using their bikes as their main vehicle for transportation during the summer months, we’re introducing CAA Bike Assist, roadside assistance for your bike. If you run into a problem that cannot be fixed on the spot, CAA will tow you and your bike to wherever* you need to go. It’s available as part of your membership 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Members will not have to pay extra to be eligible for Bike Assist as it will now be a new permanent benefit for existing Members!

This is obviously excellent for CAA members who also bike (remember, not all cyclists are crazy cycling extremists – I’d say most cyclists in Toronto are also drivers, pedestrians and transit users), but also people who don’t own cars.

The basic CAA membership will run you $72 per year, or $6 per month. With that, you get 24/7 roadside assistance and up to 4 “tows” of up to 10 km.

If you do a lot of touring and what extra kilometres, $113 per year with CAA Plus gets you 4 “tows” of up to 200 km.

So Sweet ... Sweet Pete's at Harry Rosen

From ...

With the help of Sweet Pete's Bike Shop, Harry Rosen in Bloor/Yorkville has a sporty new window display.

9 Bikes From Sweet Pete's including Trek's District, Gary Fisher's Simple City and Giant's Bowery are on display with Harry Rosen's latest fashion offerings.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Race Report: Ocup #2, Albion

All I can say is at least it didn't snow on my race. The 8:30s and 9:30s weren't so lucky. Nonetheless it was coooooold. Too cold. So cold in fact, I was already excited to go home as I was packing up the van to leave.

As I was walking down the street with the last of my things, I had that "I'm forgetting something" feeling, which later turned out to be lunch. Doh. Great start! could have been worse though ... at least I remembered my shoes (close one, on that tip).

So, with minimal Sweet Pete's presence, upon arrival I had an extra mission on top of deciding whether or not I needed to switch to mud tires (no) -- find a feed. CycleSolutions was an amazing help in that department and offered to do the same "anytime" which is such a nice thing, and one less thing to worry about. So thank you CycleSolutions, and especially Barry. Much appreciated.

The course was in excellent shape, although it had been re-routed and I'd only pre-rode half of it, of which only half was on the race-day course. Which is a long way of saying I had a couple course issues. Seems silly to say because the first two Ocups are really just road races, off-road. Can't wait for the first "real" race, Hardwood.

The biggest challenge was deciding what to wear. Ashley's parents were kind enough to be there at the start to collect my layers, but which ones?? I threw caution to the [biting] wind and gave up everything, racing in just shorts, undershirt and jersey. Wrong. Choice.

I was too cold I think. I had a good start, but quickly fell to the one of the last wheels. And so, it was a race from the back. As I gradually warmed up, I started making up positions, passing my final mark just past the dreaded Green Monster. For those who don't know, the Green Monster is a stupid grass hill that's steep and long and stupid. It hurts so much. But luckily, I'm a Green Monster Monster and I think that's where I ended up making up most of my time.

So I ended up crossing the line in 8th place (again) and freezing. My toes were very cold especially. And somehow my shoe-strap became unvelcroed and was flopping around irritatingly. Not sure why that sticks out, but there you go.

Luckily, the chocolate milk people were there. Normally pounding a 500mL bottle of chocolate milk would make me vomit on the spot (lactose intolerant) but after a race it is EXACTLY the thing that keeps me from vomitting on the spot. Go figure.

I rushed back to the car and bundled up, despite the sun shining and drove on home, where i am now typing this before eating everything we have left in the house and then passing out with a movie. My favourite part of racing ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boot Camp

Have you heard of Groupon? You should check it out; a new huge coupon every day, for one day only. Everything from 2-4-1 dinners, to photographic wall murals, to mani-pedis, to massage therapy. It's all there at huge discounts.

One morning I checked my email and the daily groupon was "Boot Camp". It was listed at $30 for a month of classes, three times a week promising to whip me into shape. How could I resist?

So I signed up and my month long membership starts on Monday. I'm excited. I think it's going to be a great way to add another layer to my regular training, meet some new people, and hopefully reap some benefits just in time for Canada Cup #3 at Hardwood.

Today, I had to go and get measured as a sort of "before". So here's where I'm starting from -- I can't believe I'm putting this on the internet, but it's all in the name of science (and motivation!).

At the end, we'll have to see where I end up!

BMI: 20.8
Weight: 133 lbs
Body fat: 19.3% (fat mass: 25.5lbs)

Groupon Groupie Badge

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

To celebrate, check out this eyebrow raising cocktail I found in The Star last week ...

The Guacarita

  • 2 oz reposado Tequila (such as Cabo Wabo)
  • 1/2 avocado, skinned, pit removed
  • 1/4 oz agave nectar (available at health food stores, markets and large grocery stores)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • Fresh ice
  • Cilantro sprig for garnish

Place all ingredients and ice into a blender. Blend on high for 10 seconds and pour into a margarita glass. Garnish with cilantro sprig.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May the Fourth Be With You

Great Tuesday, including an early-out at the office to beat the traffic up to Albion for the Tuesday night fun series!

Turned a pile of laps on the course, most of which will be on the Ocup adventure this weekend, but ended up having to pack it in before the race thanks to a tweaked knee (wtf?).

So hanging around the chalet as the waves headed out, we got to chatting with Chico. Turns out he's bumped into Hayden Christiensen recently, who's building a house for himself and his girlfriend Rachel Bilson up near Uxbridge. Chico introduced himself as the amazing trail builder and mountain bike promoter that he is and the next thing you know, he's handing over a b-card to facilitate Hayden's request that he take him on a tour! How cool is that?! Mountain biking with DARTH VADER!?

Anyway, since it's "Star Wars Day" I thought I'd share that with y'all. Ask Chico if anything ever came of it.

PS - Hayden, if you're reading this, and Rachel wants to go too, she's more than welcome to use my bike. I already let Chico know. ;)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Moving Day!

I was pretty bummed to miss a weekend of riding before the next Ocup, and especially bummed that I couldn't race in the Super D and DH at Kelso beacuse I thought I was missing out on a great opportunity for fitness gains.

Turns out Moving Day is a workout and a half. Seriously considering a rest day to recover. My legs!! Wah!

Besides my aching muscles though, it all went off without a hitch (except for one little snag involving a closet rod and a superfluous trip to Home Depot -- so cliche!) and Gerhard and I are happily at home in the west end of Toronto.

Thinking it's going to be great.

For starters, this is the first time I've ever had a "bike room". And it's not just a bike room -- it's also full of ski/snowboard and other assorted sports "stuff" so it's all out of the way and neatly put in its place. It's one of my favourite things about the place.

My other favourite thing is having the whole fridge to ourselves!! No more sharing shelves!

So the place is coming together, and stay tuned for the housewarming party invite. Might be awhile though while we pick up a few missing pieces (like a couch, if you know anyone with a spare!)

This morning, I rode in for the first time and it was actually quite a little hike! Excited to add an hour of riding to my day. Tonight I'll go and check out the Humber River Park which is also our back yard and maybe drag my ass up some hill repeats around the Old Mill. Or I could even go and do some laps at High Park. So excited to be a cyclist in the west!

Tomorrow: Albion Preride at the Tuesday night series -- leaving at 3. Space for a couple more.