Monday, December 07, 2009

Photos from Toronto

I've heard that it's not the camera that makes a good photo, it's the person behind the camera. Possbily true for outdoor photos during day time...

Had a great time in Toronto last weekend. Met up with great friends, enjoyed the city life, and got in enough sport to make me need a rest when I got back to Calgary.

A couple of iPhone pics of the Cavalcade of Lights fireworks at Nathan Phillips Square that I went to with Nigel, Noah & Gwyn and co.

A shot of me taken by Ed with what appeared to be a pretty phat lens, but unfortunately using a Nikon... ;)

Extending the season: 'cross in Toronto

I was visiting some friends in Toronto this past weekend, and although I took my cycling shoes and shorts, I didn't anticipate a race... My buddy Nigel told me about Subway Cross, and another friend Shawn lent me his sweet (although a wee bit too small) rig AND loaded on his new race wheels and tubulars. Doesn't he know about my terrible reputation for staying upright? :)

Great race, though. Thanks to Cyclocross Ontario for putting it on, to the weather gods for making it not a COMPLETE mud-fest, and again to Shawn and Nigel for gearing me up.

I have to admit that I was picked up from Nigel's by Shawn because I was running late, and when I got to the course, I had to call Nigel to bring my shoes that I'd forgotten... Some things never change. :)


Bike on bike

Noticed a guy with a unique bike transport arrangement at races this year. Caught these photos at the last road race of the season...does it remind anyone else of a male chihuahua and a female lab? :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's all about performance

Still finding people to share this with, so I thought I'd throw it on the ol' blog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Typical cycling conversation with significant other

Great vid making the rounds on cycling blogs everywhere.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh at this, or be worried that this conversation was deja vu from this past summer. Although, cycling makes me super-human and therefore impervious to disease, so I could laugh at that bit... ;)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cyclocross miles

Had an awesome cyclocross ride today with Keith. Keith's been riding for ages in Calgary, and knows tons of backroads and single-track (narrow mountain bike trails) around here.

Anyway, when the alarm went off this morning, I was definitely re-thinking the late night drinking beer and watching UFC. Showed up late, but luckily Keith wanted to grab more layers, so I only got there 5 minutes after him, not 45...

Started off bloody freezing, but we quickly got into some hilly single-track in the Tuscany ravine, out of the wind, and that thermostat up to operating temp. My off-road skills have improved with the bit of MTB riding and cross racing this year, so I managed to only fall down one thistle-infested gully, and only ran into one tree.

After that we were cruised past the Rocky Ridge? golf course, and then got onto gravel road. It had warmed up a bit and we were riding with the wind, riding through rolling ranching country, just perfect. Only saw a couple of cars over the next hour, so I could concentrate on reducing the fish-tailing and watching Keith ride along rock-steady like he was on a trainer.

A short paved section, then we got to Bill Hill Springs Provincial Park. We rode straight through the car park and off the road, threw our bikes over the barbed-wire farm fence and rode across paddocks, walked over some partially frozen creeks, more fences and creeks, a bit of snow-covered trail and a few hundred cow patties...just like I imagined cyclocross how real cyclocross started! So fun! (however I now hear that's not that accurate...I'll have to do some research).

A quick stop in stop Cochrane for food, dragged our butts up Cochrane Hill, then crawled into a head-wind back to town. About 5 hours, door to door. So tired, so sore, so stoked at an epic ride!! Well, not as epic as Dallas and Stappler's recent ride, but awesome for me.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Last splash

Tim had a stop-over in Toronto on the way to Africa, so I joined him to be tour-guide, and spend time with my Toronto friends. Nigel organized an awesome trip to the Madawaska for some white water canoeing. Shawn was also there, which was great to increase the average canoeing skill in the group, while Noah...not so much on the skill front, but a good job on boosting hilarity.

Normally alone, I can increase the likelihood of a group epic, but with Tim there two, it was practically guaranteed. And we didn't disappoint: late Sunday evening we found ourselves canoeing/kayaking down the river, with head-lamps on, heading towards a class 4 rapid (i.e. we probably wouldn't have attempted it in the daylight). Luckily we found the portage before the rapid.

Having Nigel along, on the other hand, increases the chance of having a frisbee and good food (particularly bacon). Two for two...Nigel finding another use for a frisbee, and check out these flame-grilled beauties:

Looks like we got our last dip in the water just in time, as snow is forecast for this coming weekend!

Monday, September 21, 2009

'Cross fun

Tuesday crits, run by Midweek Mayhem, change to Tuesday cyclocross. Just as much fun, if not more! Ask someone that has done cyclocross what it's like, and invariably the answer is "fun!". It's strange, since all the running up hills, lifting bikes over hurdles, and contantly accellerating out of corners is SO PAINFUL! :)

Tim has gotten pretty hooked too. He's flying back from a quick trip to Vancouver, so that he doesn't miss his last chance for 'cross before he leaves this fair land.

Love this pic taken by K2:

Last hurrah...kayaking the Red Deer

For Tim's last weekend in Calgary, we headed to Stephen's cabin (thank, buddy!) on the Red Deer River. It's a wild one! And considering our last kayaking trip ended with a trip to emergency, we were a little....cautious. :)

First we ran the river from after Double Ledge down to the campsite, then the next day we showed Double Ledge who's boss and ran it twice. Scouted it, discussed our line, and kicked some ass! Woohoo!

How about this last that's what I call the relaxed look of a conquerer! Woo!

Hang gliding

Last weekend we crammed in yet another new activity...hang gliding! At first we thought we'd be shown the basics, then be soaring off cliffs, but realistically, if they don't want a 50% survival rate, they need a little slower progression. We started by running on flat ground, then moved a couple of metres up a hill and got more speed before "flaring" (pointing upwards to intentionally stall) which gave us a couple of seconds air time. Woo!

Then we moved further up the hill and started actually gliding. Lots of knees were dragged on the ground, and fun was had.

I couldn't make the second day, as I was contesting the Provincial Hill Climb in Banff (unsuccessfully), but Tim was getting the hang of it (oops, that was an accident) on the same hill, and had a great time. I hear Australia has a pretty big gliding might want to keep an eye out for my brother some time soon!


After an epic Saturday, we decided to "take it easy" and go mountain biking. Tom's crew had taken us up Baldy Pass the prior Wednesday, which was so much fun we wanted to go again. Following recommendations from Powderface website's top 10 trails in Kananaskis, we decided to hit Sulphur Springs and Powerface-Praire Creek Link, and had a blast! In fact, we had so much fun, we headed out again the following day with Sean on his brand-new bike.

Attempt of Castle

I'll start off with a rather embarrassing story of what happens when you get two Holmes brothers together. By ourselves, we are often late. But the two of us leaving for the long weekend on Friday afternoon, for activities Tim has barely done before, was, well....put it this way, I was supposed to be home at 5:30 so that a 6pm departure would put us at Mt Athabasca by 9pm (for a 4am start to Saturday). We ended up leaving at 10pm! and so scaled back our plan to hit Brewer's Buttress, a 5.6 rock climb on Castle Mountain (the "Castle Junction" Castle Mountain, not the ski resort near Crowsnest Pass). So we still got to the carpark at midnight, briefly wondered whether the car stinking of Safeway roast chicken would attract bears, and rose for an "alpine start" at 8am. By the time we changed out packs from being equipped for glacier travel to rock climbing, we left the car at 11am.

Castle Mountain is really, really big. It has two obvious tiers, with our rock climb starting on the second tier. I figured the approach similar to Yamnuska, a 45 min to 1 hour tough switch-backing hike to the base of the cliffs. Castle, however, took four hours to hike to the bottom, then climb 4th class (i.e. just easy enough to not use a rope) rock to the large ledge at the top of the first tier. Wow. We stopped for lunch at the hut and pondered an attempt on a 8 pitch rock climb with 5 hours of daylight and a rappel descent back to the hut, followed by a descent of hike and climb we'd just taken four hours to do in daylight. Being stubborn and wanting to get at least SOME rock climbing done, we headed off to try to exceed all reasonable expectations of climbing speed.

The dunny for the hut has a killer view!

Hiking to and from the base of the climb traversed some pretty steep scree slopes. In the following pics, Tim and I tried to show how wild it was, and the massive scale of the place in general.

I'm the tiny black dot in the very centre of the photo

The ledge we climbed to is on the upper-right of the photo.

After two pitchs at the expectable pace of 1 hour per pitch, we decided to call it. We rapped back to the ledge and got to downclimb to the base of the cliffs in twilight, getting back to the car at 11pm. So tired!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Iron Girl!

Tim, Jess and I went to Penticton on the last weekend of August to support Emilie as she attempted an Ironman: 3.8km swim, 180km bike and a marathon (42km). And she killed it...under 13 hours, around 1300th out of 3000 people. Congrats Emilie!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

August racing

After a somewhat slack July, filled with wanton excess, relaxation and misadventure, it should have been no surprise to me that August was not filled with podiums and champagne. What happened instead was a wake-up call that my recent arrival to cat 2 was going to require more training than ever, or suck a lot. With that spoiler, on to the race reports:

The Tour de Bowness stage race is held on the August long weekend - first race since June. Hill climb Sat, Provincial Criterium Championship Sun, road race Mon. My hill climb time actually improved by 8 or 9 seconds from last year, but given the massive tailwind, it should have been 20 seconds faster with no extra effort. My power data told the story: an average power output that would have been dismal even if I was doing week-night hill repeats. 35th out of 38

The crit was a repeat of Banff: immense pain, then dropped in 20 minutes. One of my team mates, Trev Williams, was dropped in the stupidly fast "neutral" first lap, but at least he had an excuse! Team mates Keith and Jared were in the mix right to the finish, but Mark McDonald was at his peak for the race, and crushed in the final sprint to win by several lengths and defend his title from last year.

Monday's road race was shortened from an already short 80km to 60km...and so the pace was blazingly fast from the get-go. After being dropped by the race leaders in just 2 laps (of 12) I pace-lined with some pretty big names, but they too dropped me after lap 8. Despite a reasonable solo-TT effort for the last few laps, I got lapped by race leader Jamie Sparling on my penultimate lap to make it 2-for-2 DNFs in mass start races in cat 2.

The Provincial Road Race Championship was two weeks later. I'd started training again in earnest, but apparently had not regained my fitness...dropped after 30km, after a good downwind attack at the top of the first of three big hills. Ended up doing a 90km team trial trial with team mate Dennis...but at least I didn't DNF...

My team, Speed Theory, was hosting the last big race of the season, the Jason Lapierre Memorial stage race, featuring the Provincial ITT Championship. A unique course was mapped on the yet-to-be-opened-to-cars Calgary Ring Road highway. I felt in good form after the prior weekends' beatings. That is, until Cyrus passed me in the opening stage time-trial, after starting 3 minutes back. Ouch. I ended up 5 minutes off the pace to finish 12th of 16.

JayLap Cat 1/2 crit (photo by Satnam Sidhu)

An interesting crit course was created at a highway interchange (on 24-hour-old pavement!) and I made up for a complete lack of warmup (due to my typical lack of pre-race organization) by pacing the pack for the first two laps. Shortly after saw a two man break-away, and lots of surging in the pack as people tried to bridge but avoided pulling. The smaller, less-aggressive field gave me a chance to stay at the front and although I lost some ground in the final half a lap, managed a respectable 9th of 17.

In the road race the following day, the field started off with a mild pace (as we expected for a 140km event), but after about 3 seconds went to warp speed, shelling many riders. I hung in and avoided getting dropped by the surges as the field reacted to Shawn Bunnin's non-stop attacks, but the field never caught four breakaway riders, including team mate Dallas Morris. I had a mechanical and lost the peleton on the second last lap, but decided to grind out one more lap alone to avoid a DNF and get my offical placing of 13th loser in a field of 21.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kayaking - first the bad news

I went on a great sea kayaking trip with family and friends recently. Much like last year, the injuries didn't happen until after the big event was over...Tim and I did a little white water on Elbow River, just downstream of Elbow Falls in Kananaskis.

It was actually quite the adventure in the end...turns out I don't have to be rock climbing to epic (people that know me always bring a head lamp when we do something, even in the middle of the day). After bumped our way down the shallow river (lesson 1), Tim and I came around the corner, side by side (lesson 2), and proceeded to be eaten alive by one of two (lesson 3) fairly intense rapids on the stretch of river we were running. I remembered the other one, but this one had slipped my mind... Tim flipped and wet-exited, while I fought to escape the unintentional (and unwanted) surfing: I was actually pointing *down stream*, and got pulled back in enough that I ended up with my bow in the air. Eventually I flipped...and was flipped back upright! I decided anything that could flip me back upright was not for me, and so I bailed and immediately shot out of the rapid/falls. My boat came out 30 seconds later (it's amazing what times of stress will's now looking for a place on Church St).

In flipping, I hit my face on a submerged rock, so now I had blood pouring down one side of my face. In a total rookie move, I also let go of my paddle (lesson 4), so that was somewhere downstream at this point.

The adventure did end Tim and I are on the side of the river with dozens of kilometres to the nearest road. The other side was a giant, steep embankment. Given that we were blocked just 20 metres upstream by a cliff that met the river in white water, it didn't bode well for walking back to the put-in. So we decided Tim would go downstream about 50 metres to the nearest shore-eddy, then I would follow, paddle-less, and he would throw his paddle as I came past, so I could eddy-in.

That went fine...I was able to eddy-in by paddling with my hands. Although my hands hit rocks on the bottem and were bleeding.

Then we had to get up the side of the big scree-slope embankment. Tricky at the best of times, but with two WW kayaks and a paddle? Hmm. So one of us did a little "lead climbing" with a tow rope, up to a large, solid looking rock, then the lower person tied the rope to the kayak, and proceeded to push the kayak up, and scramble up behind it, while the first person took in the slack so the kayak didn't slide back down (and into the current, to join my paddle wherever it had gone).

After doing that five times (so I guess the slope was just shy of 100 metres), we went back down to repeat with the second kayak. This time we tied the tow ropes off on trees, for a little "fixed-rope" effect. Then we bush-whacked to the road, and flagged down a passing car, who were nice enough to take me back to my car and not even tell me to try not to bleed on their seats.

The numerous rules I broke:
1. Avoid shallow rivers; they hurt more than full ones.
2. Go single file: it's less social, but much safer.
3. Wild rivers (unlike domesticated ones like the Upper Kananaskis) need to be scouted. It kinda sucks to get out every bend, when the river twists every 100 metres...but it turns out you kinda have to.
4. Hold on to your freakin paddle.

As a past motorcyclist, I should know that you can't learn all lessons from experience. I'll try to avoid doing that in the future...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Decathlon That Mattered

This was the one I was super confident about. Last time, I talked a bit of trash - 7 personal bests for the weekend. Well... here's what actually went down.

On Thursday, I was notified of the absence of any other competitors in the decathlon. Did I really want to do 10 events all by my lonesome? ... Hell yes!

On Friday, an uneventful 3 hour team bus ride from U of C to Edmonton was followed by a nutritious meal of a burger and fries courtesy of Boston Pizza (it didn't look like this). A late night (11 PM is waaay past my bedtime) was coupled with an early, early morning, but whatevs, I'll still dominate.

By the time it was time for me to race, a small crowd had gathered to watch the guy with the accent silly enough to attempt a decathlon by himself.

100 - Naturally, my start was awesome. Starting by myself is way easier because I can concentrate on starting and not beating the guys either side of me. The last 30m is a bit harder, but I managed a Canadian PB (that's a PB while I've been in Canada, heh). Despite having to wait 10 minutes for a wind indicator be setup, there was no wind reading, but take it from me that there was a headwind: 11.94

LJ - FOUL, 6.22 (-0.6), FOUL. Meh. The two fouls were BIG jumps but I had my foot over the line by a little tiny bit - that's the rules.

SP - Being the only one competing in the event, I had a 4:1 official-to-athlete ratio going on. I must say I quite liked the attention. I can warmup however I like, pretty much whenever I like, and I can be totally relaxed and focussed on the job at hand. My first throw was "like BAM!". I've possibly been saying that too much lately, but it was definitely deserved this time: 9.66, PB by 0.59.

HJ - Training for this event has been going very well, so much so that Coach Duncan was rallying support from the team, to come and watch me PB. I, unfortunately, disappointed my fans: 1.60

Not me, but a wicked photo photo all the same. This is actually my teammate Todd jumping at 1.85m.

400 - Luckily, the individual 400 events were being run at a similar time so I was put in the 6th lane of the last heat: 53.50, Canadian PB.

A solid Day 1 (2887) was wrapped up with a 10 minute ice bath (cold!), a lively meal of chicken parmigiana with the cool kids from the track team, a trip to the nearest sports bar to watch the UFC 100: Canadien Georges St-Pierre dominated his fight with flawless takedowns. Woo!

My arrival at the track was met with a pleasant site: the sky was the same colour as the track - blue, yay! My warmup felt tired and sluggish, but by the time I was ready for hurdles I was feeling good. Clearly, I was feeling very good.

110H - Form over the hurdles was as good as it has been during some training sessions but it was definitely good enough for a 1.26 second PB: 18.57, BAM! ... The 3.2 m/s tailwind may have helped a little...

DT - The situation was the same as discus - a crazy relaxed and focussed warmup followed by success. Coach Eric (sitting down on the right) had a wickedly simple and effective cue for me: "See the front, see the back." The last two warmup throws were in excess of 33m, but I didn't throw that far when it mattered. This experience (and the one from shot put) gave me huge insight into the mindset I should be in when I'm throwing. Another PB, BAM!: 30.66

PV - At this point, I'm 2 for 2 personal bests for the day. I'm not really expecting another until the 1500, but, well, it sorta just happened. BAM!: 3.90

JT - Although, it's beneficial in the physics sense to have a strong headwind when throwing javelin, I'm not really used to it. The result was acceptable : 31.55

1500 - It was me telling everyone there was a PB coming up this time, but it was still me doing the disappointing. I was so sure was going to though... I put in a huge effort, so it wasn't for a lack of trying, but the conditions sucked (lots of wind). The support was amazing. Yelling people lined the track - inside and out. Lockie was running the infield screaming encouragement. I laid everything on the track, but it wasn't good enough for a PB: 4:40.65 (1:11, 1:18.5, 1:19, 0:52)

Day 2: 2534. PB, BAM!
Overall: 5421. PB, BAM!

Maybe it was the numerous personal bests, extremely supportive team, sibling and sibling-in-law or being the centre of attention for practically the entire weekend, but even I'm exhausted but I would totally do that again... BAM!