Thursday, December 09, 2010


Tried biathlon last week. Pretty damn cool!

Quick overview: the two sports are skiing and shooting. The skiing component uses the skate skiing style of cross-country skiing, which is way faster than classic. You ski with a 3.5 kg rifle on your back, then stop, try to get your breathing and heart rate under control, shoot 5 times at 5 targets 50 metres away, and ski a short penalty loop for each miss. I believe a race usually has half the shooting from standing, at a target 10cm diameter, and half prone (lying down) at a target half the size. We were practicing standing the night I went.

I felt a little bit like one of the commandos in a James Bond flick, skiing around with a bad-ass gun on my back. :) We used the same targets as the ones used by the Olympic dudes, but I still hit a few, so that was neat. Unfortunately being a crack shot doesn't help me ride up hills really fast...shame.

Oh, the observant might notice the lobster claw glove. I brought them for warmth, but true to form, couldn't one of my 5-fingered gloves on the night (turns out it was down beside the seat) and used that one instead...luckily it was the left!!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sweeeet spots

MEC's annual Sweetspots video competition has come up with a very worthy winner!

Friday, November 26, 2010


With the month of Movember nearly done, my 'stache has gotten to a respectable - some may even say visible! state. So I decided to do a couple of self-portraits...

Still accepting donations for Prostate Cancer Canada at my Movember Mo Space.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Trail running fun

Scroll down...further...further... Ok, now don't look at the ages... ;)

The fast dudes in the long race were FLYING.

Trev ran as well, but post-flu. He has totally dialed in his video-making skillz:

Edworthy XC Nov 13th 2010 from on Vimeo.

I made an appearance at 16:30, but I lucky for me I wasn't doing that hill again!

More trials craziness...

As Mr Pearson said, Danny MacAskill kicks the ever-loving crap out of physics. Again.

Very cool. I couldn't help but think that the wipeouts must be huge. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Trail report: bare patches at 1st St and 5th Ave downtown

Last night the forecast was for 10-15cm of snow. And that was after last night being so warm, I walked home carrying my jacket! This morning the warning was still in effect:

So I decided to ski in! Even though I got up 4 hours earlier than Monday morning, I still didn't beat the traffic...people go to work really early here! Or...yeah, I get to work not so early. :)

The bike path along the river was already plowed, but the greenspace between Memorial Drive and the river was perfect, and once I crossed over, there was a good wide strip that had not yet been plowed. Downtown was a little wind-swept, but it was only three blocks to the office.

Turns out skiing in to work is a better conversation-starter than walking a puppy! Women were literally coming up to me to congratulate me on a great idea and ask where I'd skied from...I guess I don't look intimidating in spandex tights.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Train with Trev

Us cyclists are a bit weird. This Saturday, I went to hang out at my buddy Trev's place, and the next thing I know, I'm doing a full race-pace 20km TT! Super fun though...Trev had four computrainers hooked up to a computer, displaying real-time data on a big LCD tv. The guys that had just raced were in our faces cheering the whole time - it was awesome! Trev absolutely crushed it/me, even given the fact that I'm coming out of "off-season", so much so that he was wondering if he'd calibrated correctly. I say his spin classes have just turned him into a friggen machine. I'll see if I can get some video of it posted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How not to dismount a from cross bike

Shortest cross seasons ever!

What should have been a total non-event, hopping a curb onto the grass at a park, resulted in me hitting the curb, flipping over the handlr bars, and landing on my shoulder.

The images shows the outer-most part of the collar bone (i.e. clavicle), a floating bone fragment trying to push through my skin, and then the other half of my collar bone.

Hasn't actually hurt so much this time around. The worst has been the agonizing hour or so at the hospital, deciding whether to go with surgery (a plate and screws), and the second-guessing since then. I went with the (two) surgeon's advice and did not request surgery. Maybe next time...haha?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tis the season

Riding home at dusk, it was getting hard to talk to my buddy because my lips were going numb.

I had a waterbottle in the back pocket of my jersey because I'd removed my bike's bottle cages.

Once I got home, I briefly contemplated cleaning my filthy bike, but decided getting in the shower before I started shivering was a far more attractive option.

Sounds like it's 'cross season!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gran Fondo Whistler

Gran Fondo Whistler is a 120km ride/race from Vancouver to Whistler, with a total of 2400m of ascent - yeeha!

I left after work on Thursday with team mate Charles, and we gunned it all the way to Kamloops, where we stopped in a random, dodgy, highway-side hotel. Next morning, we had the beats cranked as we made our way through at least 19 bouts of rain and wonder it's so green!..and got to Van by noon.

Once in town, we hit up a great bakery, Uprising Breads, and we met up with buddy Sean, who is now well and truly the high-rolling lawyer type, complete with massive, 300 sq ft, downtown Van condo. Did a short ride out to Kits' Beach and the UBC campus. That evening we walked to registration, and saw the beginnings of usual Friday night mayhem on Robson & Granville streets.

Ok, it's Saturday morning we're up insanely early, and riding the city streets, silently joined by other cyclists, converging on the start. Wild the sun came up, 4000+ people have ammassed for an early rendition of the national anthem. A blast of the air-horn and the 150 Giro riders (the Gran Fondo's race group) clip in and accelerate toward Stanley Park and the Lion's Gate Bridge. It's pretty sketchy riding...the course is set up for a fun ride, so typical race course logic, like avoiding the use of pylons, was out the window. There is a strong cat 1/2/3 field in the hunt for a share of the $12,000 prize money, so pack-ninja skills are paramount. Right after the bridge, all 150 of us fill the sweeping exit ramp and try to maintain a good line to avoid crashes, all at around 50km/h - everyone's trying to look a few riders ahead to be aware, when suddenly there's a police motorcycle parked on the side! The pack is gutter to gutter, so no chance of swerving - luckily I was in the middle of the pack, and sailed past it unharmed, but I heard tyres lock up, followed by a thuds and crunches of bodies and bikes hitting a large stationary object. Ouch. Charles said he was one of them, but after sliding in sideways and a quick hip-check to the motorbike, he bounced back to straight and kept going!! Others were not so fortunate.

Next is a right turn onto Taylor Way and a hammer up the hill. Another crash, but this time low speed. Then we are on the highway. I understand the view is quite nice, but to maintain position in the pack, avoid unaligned pylons, and wheels of riders doing the same, and keep up the pace, I honestly could be riding in a tunnel. The pace is good through the rolling terrain, until we hit Furry Creek: go time! The pro boys are leading the charge up the hill, others that were at the front are going backwards; it's the general panic of selection #1. I can't quite hang with the leaders, but cresting the hill, I'm quickly joined by a dozen or so motivated dudes, and we quickly start a rolling paceline. A few kilometres of hard work and we catch the leaders as we come into Squamish, the half-way point, and we're joined by another large chase group soon after. Not long to recover: another major hill and hammer time!

Time to hurt...this time I feel better, but I can't sit on a wheel...gaps are opening ahead. I work my way forward, but I can see a major gap ahead. The yellow jersey of Gord Jewett pulls past me and he bridges. C'mon, I tell myself! Embrace the pain! I'm behind just one wheel, but I see a gap open ahead, and can't summon the energy for the sprint to make the gap. As we came up on the plateau, the 15 leaders are already ramping their speed and losing us. A group of about 10 assembles with me...paceline time! No, the group is spent. The leaders are still just a up the road. Ian Auld of Top Gear launches an attack to bridge. I also hit it, catch up, and we do some motivation-assisting two-man pacing up the hill, hurting like hell. But we aren't making ground on the leaders, and the group behind us eventually starts gaining, so we shut 'er down and assimilate back into the chase group.

There are motorbikes coming by, giving us the splits for the leaders and chase groups - cool! But we're down by 4 mintues now. I try a couple of times to get a good paceline going, but any time I raise the tempo, I'm off the front, and the four or so Trek Red Truck riders are pulling, content to let me dangle but not put time into them, so I eventually settle in with the group.

Where's Lockie? (I'm #51)
Photo: tesseract33

10km to go: a young lad from Picci attacks, joined by a Trek Red Truck rider. They get about 100 metres out, and another TRT rider attacks, joined by a 4th. I'm boxed in on the gutter. From then on, we know that this is the race. 5km to go...attacks are going, but no one can bridge to the breakaway. It is keeping our pace very high though, and we catch the break.

1km to go: The Welcome to Whistler sign suddenly appears. Nearly done! With so many TRT riders, one of them must be saving themselves. Plus there's probably fresh legs amongst the slackers in the group. There's a right and left turn just before the finish, so I attack. I hit the corner at speed and get a small break...but I'm hurting and there's a short downhill right after, so the group gets in my draft. We're strung out. There are hundreds of spectators, and I'm shocked at how loud the cheering crowd is. I lead around the last corner. But the finish is still quite a ways...I'm blowing up as the group swarms with 100 to go...I roll through in 24th.

How to do a lead out for the competition, by Lachlan. Starting 40seconds in.

What a fun race! Chatting with riders later, I hear Tyler Trace of TRT took our field sprint for 15th, and Andrew Pinfold of US pro team United Healthcare took the overall.

Sean came up that arvo and we stayed to party in Whistler Sat night, then knocked off the drive back to Calgary in one shot on Sunday.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Bow 80 pre-ride and aftermath

I've been hearing great things about the Bow 80, an 80km MTB race that links up a bunch of awesome Kananaskis trails, so I was pumped to join Stappie, Bunnin, McNeil, Baylee, Bakke and a couple of other hard men for a pre-ride this past weekend.

We left via Station Flats, and everything was going great for about the first 45 minutes, which is when I did a bit of a superman down some rock-strewn single-track. My left side took a bit a beating, but I was able to keep going. No problem...only 6 and a bit hours to go.

I managed to pull myself together for Powderface, but after a bit of gravel, got introduced to real MTB climbing...instead of the usual 100-metre steep spin-up, it was an hour of so of pretty consistent switching-backing as we worked up Jumping Pound Ridge and Cox Hill. I blew to bits.

I eventually caught up to Bakke in time for the thunder, lightening, rain, and reaching the exposed mountain top. Nothing like a few 3-million-volt bolts of lightening to keep you from dilly-dallying. We made it to the descent without incident, and Bakke then got to put on a bit of descending school - when he was in sight, that is. But he waited at regular intervals, while I bumped, crashed and careened down the hill side in typical fashion. No other major injuries, but every little fall involved another body-shot, charlie horse, or corked calf, which was taking its toll!

Note the interesting seat angle...thanks to a ditch seen a little late

Eventually we reach the bottom, at Dawson Creek, and had only 30 or so km of foot-deep mud to negotiate until we got on the Tom Snow double-track to get back to the car park. The others looked fresh and clean, I guess they'd had half an hour to kill while they'd waited. Took almost 7 hours on the nose.

Props to Bakke for the well-timed pants change

As a little post-script, I continued the fine tradition of education-by-injury: turns out the canteloupe-sized rock I took to the kidney did a number on my obliques and/or psoas, which is worst when I try to sit up in I needed another reason to stay lying down!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tour de Bowness

Tour de Bowness has been one of my favourite races since I started racing: well-supported, local stage race, no pesky time trial, and the provincial criterium championship. Last year it was my first cat 1/2 race ever, and I ended up coming 4th last in the hill climb, and I DNF-ed (Did Not Finish, meaning I was lapped) the crit and DNF-ed the road race. Ouch! I was planning to do a lot bette this time around.

We started on Saturday with the road race. I nearly missed it, with my cat having a little fit and showing signs of UTI - I had a little panic, deciding whether I was totally neglectful to leave him for a couple of couple (couple? I'm so unrealistic!) Thankfully my neighbour is a cat-lover and gave me kitty drugs and some advice, and I left Sherman.

Since the RR was only 80km, it's generally a hammer-fest from the get-go - this year the attacks started before the first corner 500m into the race. Godfrey was again my super-star feeder with the rock-solid delivery - eternal gratitude, bro! The top of the one decent hill in the circuit was usually time for someone to attack, but it generally came back together in the following flats through the start-finish. By mid-race, a break of around 8 got away. In subsequent laps, a couple of guys got away to try to bridge. The chase group didn't work too badly together though, and we kept them within sight...with 3 laps to go, we had them just 20 seconds away. No need to bridge, right? Well, that was as close as we came...they hit it around then, and we basically never saw them again. Too bad, I felt pretty good at the end and took the field sprint for 11th.

That night I was at the vet until midnight, to find out my cat was just having a little attention-deficit. Great! But time for bed. The next morning I was up at three, to follow triathlon natural Trev as he did his swim leg of the half-ironman, in a kayak, videoing with a hero-cam (video looks great!). Back to bed for a nap, then time for the COP (Canada Olympic Park) hill climb. Pretty straight foward...hammer for a couple of minutes on the road, while the downhill kids were hooting and hollering on their way down through the trees. This hill climb is a three-up, so we started in groups of three. I had some great companions in Gideon, TT specialist of H&R, and Manuel the hill-climbing pocket rocket. They pulled away by the end, but I got an amazing PB for the hill, 3:38, 20 seconds faster than last year, when we had a hurricane tail-wind. Suhweet. Good enough to 16th.

Monday was the big one - the provincial criterium championship. Thankfully they did away with the ridiculous "neutral lap" of last year, which is often done at 50km/h..neutral? Pfff! It would be 45 laps of pure pain and tight-pack, nutso- cornering and awesome-sprinting craziness. I got in a break after a few laps in, and the next 20 laps were super intense. We managed to drop most of the pack, but a couple of guys bridged up, so there were about 10-12 of us in the group. Semi-pro teams Trek Red Truck and H&R had a few guys in the break, but Bailey, Jesse and I took our fair share of pulls. On one, I pulled around to take my pull, meaning the usual ramp up to max heart rate for a lap...and going through the start-finish, I hear Dallas (who, with Godfrey, were way up in the pimp Oakley commentators booth...think a tent on top of a Greyhound bus!) say "...and Lockie is going on a flyer!..." I look back and the group is 50 metres back. Oops, that wasn't the plan! haha I slowed up - no chance of holding them off solo for 15 laps!

With 6 laps to go, H&R Dustin attacked off the front, and every lap, put a couple of seconds on us. With 2 laps to go, Jesse and I got on the front and drilled it (read, I took a pull for 10 seconds, before Jesse the steam-train took over) and in that lap, we were back together. Out of province pro Jamie Sparling attacked with a lap to go, but he's a marked man...he wasn't able to get away. It was coming down to a sprint. An RMCC guy, who I had no idea was with us, I guess he was lurking at the back that whole time, came around me. After rounding the last corner, it was a drag race. RMCC guy blew everyone away, and I held off a couple of dudes to get 7th. Awesome, I'm stoked with that!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Montana road trip

Last month, I did a solo drive down to Bozeman, Montana, to ride in an amazing stage race, which I blogged about on the Speed Theory team blog. In the interests of brevity, and keeping it mostly cycling-focused, I skipped mentioning a few details...

First, I had a slight money debacle. I currently don't have a credit card, because after I lost it back in May, I didn't want to tell the bank and have to memorize another number (I have the memory of goldfish). I stopped in at the Speed Theory store before I left Calgary, and half an hour out of town I got a call from Speed Theory saying I'd left my debit card at the store. Crap! I was running a bit late (who, me?) so I didn't turn around, but hey, no problem - I had a bunch of cash in my wallet...

It wasn't until I got to the border that I realised I was forgetting a little detail about the whole different currency thing. I had to exchange $10 with some other travellers just to get my visa-waiver to enter the States. With the $4 change from that, I bought a gallon of gas, which was enough to get to Bozeman Fri night, and then to the TT Sat morning. After the TT, I couldn't rely on my winnings (having come last), but thankfully I met a French Canadian expat, who exchanged my remaining $60. I had enough to get another tank of gas, buy half a pizza Sat night, and after my host bought a couple of tubes off me, I had enough to get back to Calgary!!

I realized/learned/was told back when I was a
stingythrifty rock-climber, that communities are much happier to see you if you spend money while you're there, so I always make an effort to fill up with gas and buy food in whatever town I stay in/near. Obviously I couldn't do that this time around. Instead, I subsisted mostly on canned beans and canned fish, which I brought as a backup, for the road-side bivvy I expected to need on the way back on Sunday.

Surprisingly, the combination of garbanzo, black and lima beans didn't make me more farty than's possible my body was in a state of shock that weekend at the treatment it was receiving.

Driving down, I was pretty amazed by the Montana scenery that unfolded before me, even just what was visible from the highway. Wanting to do the trip in a reasonable amount of time (ended up being 9:30 hours there, and just 8:15 on the way back), I didn't stop to take photos, so here are a few of the pics I shot from my car, generally while straddling a couple of lanes...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Nationals photos

Some shameless cross-posting of photos from Nationals

New wheels! Got these bad boys on Thursday, in time for Nationals. 404 front, 808 rear. Ride like a dream, which is clearly what I'm thinking in this photo :) Actually, it's at the top of the steepest hill on the nationals circuit, so now a hairpin corner, a sprint to get up to 40kmh again....and then recover!!!!

Staging, before the start, with Trev beside me, my super feeders Mike and Darcy at the fence, and Svein Tuft (Garmin) in front.

Spending a little time in the winning break (before being spat back into the peleton).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canadian Road National Championships

Oh my god, I just had the ride of my life! As I said on the Speed Theory blog, I was pumped just to be lining up with full-on pro's. Then I managed to get in, and do a couple of laps with, the winning break of the day. And not only did I manage to finish, but in a totally awesome, way better than expected, 38th out of 154 guys!

I'm stoked.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sounds like dinner time

If I wait until I download an app that will rotate this video, my nieces will probably be old enough to do it for me (and tell me I'm an old git with no concept of technology), so here it is! Thanks for uploading, Tim!

And if my translation of baby is correct, it is time for me to go home for my own num-num's.... :)

The girls are walking! from Lachlan Holmes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The lastest addition to the stable

It's getting a little cramped in my lounge room...

Banff Bike Fest

So this is what it's like to ride with the big dogs. So far this year I've had a roller coaster of decent finishes and DNFs (and, as someone suggested, a DNR - Did Not Register). Banff was unfortunately a bit of a low, performance-wise, with some mediocre results, including an ITT 46 seconds slower than last year. All that training....

BUT we had some killer weather, including just *perfect* Sunday RR conditions, on the sensational Banff Ave - Tunnel Mountain loop - I really felt like I was riding a stage of the Tour at some points -, and Trev put together some amazing performances to finish 12th in a super-strong field of 85 cat 1/2 and trade team cyclists, I got to live the pro life for 4 days and enjoyed great company with my awesome Speed Theory team mates.

A couple of pics from the cat 2/3 race: Charles, Ryan and Clarke leading the chase group...

...and Keith mixing it up with the leaders.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A test of commitment

Weather in Calgary has been particularly crappy lately. But with a bunch of big races this month (Speed Theory 40km TT, Pigeon RR, Banff SR, Nationals RR) it's not the right time to drink beer while waiting for the weather to clear. Just as much as the big hill in the middle of the race, this time is a decider of who wants it and who doesn't have the heart...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Race Report Season

I should really be preparing for my presentation on Wednesday, but I'm getting behind on my race reports.

Last weekend was the Speed Theory-hosted Incredibilus Velocitus 40km ITT (held in Acme, Alberta, hence the cool road-runner-esque name). The weather was...challenging. However after a bike-fitting "party" (a cyclist's party involves two, or maybe if things get really crazy, three, beers) I was pretty pumped to try my new lower aero-bar setup. And my sunnies deflected most of the hail. I managed a respectable 4th, getting beat by ERTC boys Blaine and Geoff, and throughly schooled by Gideon. I should mention that I edged Trev out by 1.8 seconds (I suspect he's getting laid too often these days), but we both managed to squeak under the 1 hour mark.

Today's race was the presitigious Pigeon Lake RR. 300+ racers, and about 45 in cat 1/2. Absolutely stunning weather for riding. The flat-to-rolly circuit, no wind, and long distance (160km) resulted in a fairly moderate pace...I don't think anyone was dropped! After much surging in the first lap, a break of three was allowed to go, but didn't stay away long. Trev attacked on lap two, I attacked as soon as he was brought back, then he attacked when I got brought back. The two other guys in his break represented ERTC and Top Gear, teams who's riders made up maybe half of the peleton? They didn't waste the opportunity, and in a short while were out of sight. However after 80km the other teams in the peleton organized a solid pace line and pulled them back.

The finish straight is a deceptively long uphill climb for about 1.5km. Every year, in almost category, there are poor fools who try their luck as soon as the pack turns the corner. This year in my cat, I was that fool. I got a decent gap, and it might have even stuck, had Dallas not been leading a Top Gear leadout freight train and I was reeled in with 500m to go...I recovered enough by 200m to pass some guys and salvage 10th spot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring time

I was out riding on the bike path on Sunday evening and saw quite a few goslings being herded across the path by hissing parents.

So I went out Tuesday evening, and riding around Princes Island park, it didn't take long to find a whole gaggle of goslings.

It had only been two days, but it's easy to see how quickly they grow.


It was pretty cool to finally get some shots of them...after riding along the path to work in the spring of 2007 (my first full spring in Calgary) I've been meaning to get out the bazooka lens in the spring and go shoot some fowl. I haven't seen any ducklings yet...I wonder if their breeding season is a little later?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lack of Velocity in Edmonton

Been getting a couple of questions about last weekend's big event, being the first ABA race of the year, the Velocity stage race.

I spent the weekend prior putting the (painful) finishing touches on my winter of training, then participated in a mental-beatdown of a course in Edmonton, which ran from 8:20am to 9pm or later, every day, returning to my room to do my taxes and get in short spins. Avoided checking email and answering calls all week.

You can probably see where this is going...I got to Friday, shelved the programming mind-benders, and switched to thinking about racing. Only, the registration was only open Monday to Thurday. Saturday morning, the ABA officials were relatively unsympathetic, and I wasn't in the mental mindset to argue it.

I actually enjoyed having the opportunity to help my team mates over the course of the weekend. God knows many of them, or others, have helped me in moments of last-minute pre-race panic. I lent my rental wheels to team mates, fetched water, stood in the feed zone...all good things for giving back.

Was I mad about missing the race? Hell yes: this was one of 4 big races for me this year. Mad at the officials? Yes and no...this wasn't the first time I've been disorganized (although it may be the best excuse I've had). Also, it's hard work organizing a race, and some people were sincerely sorry to shut me down - others were complete jerks, but whatever...what goes around, comes around.

On to the next one...


A quick recap of the action: H&R Block rider Chris McNiel tore up the time trial in cat 1/2, a shade off a 50km/h average for the 10km. For Speed Theory, Thomas made the podium in cat 3, while up-and-coming cat 5 racer Mark J and women's powerhouse Marilyn both got 4th.

In the crit Mark MacDonald edged out Dan Wood in a awesome sprint finish, but Trev had a stand-out performance, trading pulls at the front all race and finishing with the pack. In the women, two Bici riders asserted their dominance, but there was a great showing by the big Speed Theory contingent, with those doing their first ever crit having solid races, and Tanya clinching the field sprint.

The road race didn't have too much out of the ordinary happen. Welchie crashed again. Big breakaways in many fields. The only things that got me pumped were strong showings by all the Speed Theory women, Harley's solid sprint finish, and Trev's 1.5 lap pull to catch the pack followed by an attack and bridge to the breakaway...awesome! He subsequently dropped out of the race and turned down a beer, but I think that was just to make us think he's also mortal. Unlikely.

Insert video of baby nieces walking here

Insert video of nieces walking here (hint hint)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Prairie-Roubaix race report

I was thinking of calling this post "Would I be finished yet if I didn't have team mates?"... ;)

From my point of view, the A race went something like this: moderate pace for first of five laps, but 4 guys attacked and were a minute or two up the road. Then when the peleton (main pack) got to the gravel section the pace went ballistic. I didn't quite hang on to the lead group of 15, but right after the gravel Trev luckily paced me up to the lead 15, while the other 20 guys in the race strung out behind in some fashion - to be honest I never looked back, because turning my head took energy I didn't have to spare.

Half way through the second lap I attacked and tried to bridge up to the breakaway 4, but only made it three quarters of the way before the course turned into the wind. I foolishly/fruitlessly kept working to bridge, and got caught by the pack just as we hit the gravel. They went hammering by. I then time-trialed by myself in the wind for a lap before getting caught by a chase group containing team-mates Simon and Trev. Trev basically stopped on the start-finish hill so I could catch up (but apparently not hearing Jared's calls to wait a sec :) ), and again, he was a monster, this time for a whole lap, and left Simon and I just a couple hundred metres to make it to the next group. Simon then ground out some crazy pulls and we caught the next group, but in doing so Simon and Trev were popped.

By this point there were really only 5 guys, chasing the lead four who were way up the road. My group of five consisted of me, Scott from Rundle Mt Cycling Club, and three guys from the Bow Cycle team. Those three guys work us over pretty perfectly and cinched 5th and 6th, leaving me in 8th. Dallas, I hear, rode the entire friggen race solo and won, and Mark McDonald, Bunnin and Dan Wood worked together until the gravel descent into the finish.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Cycle to This House Of Sky

This is a great time of year for outdoor types in my area. I can cycle outside in shorts and jersey, or I can head into the mountains to ski or ice climb. On Thursday evening, I had the brilliant idea that I should combine both in to a multi-sport adventure. I worked on Easter Friday, my birthday day, so I considered this to be belated birthday present to myself, or more correctly, exercising my right as "birthday boy" to do whatever crazy thing I wanted to.

Depending on which circle of my friends you belong, the plan doesn't sound too crazy at first...cycle 90km to the Ghost River Wilderness Area, walk to the classic ice climb This House Of Sky and climb it, then go home.

The reality of the situation is somewhat tougher: the cycle would be 180km round-trip, 30km of which would be effectively logging road, and another 20km is not normally driven on without a high-clearance vehicle. The prevailing westerly wind kicks in early to mid-morning, and while riding into that, I would be carrying ice climbing boots, axes, crampons, gloves, and enough food to see me through the day. Plus a headlamp. :)

The night before, I had concerns about the viability. Doing the math, a realistic 25km/h cycle, plus what is normally a 4 hour climb, plus hiking a half-marathon, and a couple of hours for stopping to eat/change clothes, etc, plus a date that night at 7 or 8pm, did not give me time for 8 hours of sleep. I decided that I would have to average 30km/h, not stop, solo the climb quickly, and hope that I could cycle the hike. Thus reassured (that's my strange way of spelling "deluded"), I set my alarm for 7:30am.

8:45am - leaving the house, 45min behind schedule

My back was in pain after about 500 metres. Note to self: buy panniers. The wind was already starting to pick up. No problem, I'd just ride harder.

10:50am - arriving in Cochrane, about the same time as 15 knot winds. Two hours behind schedule. I realized my schedule was out the window.

From Cochrane I had a slog into the wind for 20km, until the turn north onto Hwy 40. The trees and hills along the road started helping, so I was able to make it to Waipourous by 12:30 and stop for lunch. I'd told people I'd be back early evening, and not to worry unless I hadn't contacted them by 9pm... Okay, great, that gives me 8.5 hours to get back, so an hour to get to the Ghost, an hour to get to the climb, two hours for the climb, two hours back to this point, and 2 hours to do what had taken me 4 hours thus far (I'd have a tail-wind, right?). Yikes, that's starting to sound tight, I'd better start cycling again.

Just a few km after Waipourous, the road turns to gravel. No problem. Then at the turn-off to access the Ghost River, it is...well, a bad gravel road. I remember it being uncomfortable last time (I was on a cross bike sans backpack...). Let's just say it deteriorated from there...

I'm sure there is a road here somewhere.

The driver of the pickup in the photo offered me a ride. I declined, because, as I told him, I'd got myself into this situation "somewhat intentionally".

500 metres later

As I started changing my flat, I saw that I had three spare tubes (how responsible of me) but only two CO2 cartridges (doh!).

After the break, I didn't need a speedometer (which is good, because I didn't have one) to know that my progress was slipping into single digits. So a few kilometres later when I was offered a lift, this time with climbers going into the Ghost, I took it. 10km is 15 minutes! Just 5km to the climb! By this time I'd stopping doing the math on my schedule...I'd made it this far with that damn bag, I was putting those boots on and sinking an axe into ice, regardless of the improbability of making it back on time!

Since the flat, I'd been cycling out of the seat a lot, to reduce the weight on the back wheel and so hopefully reduce the need to use my last CO2 cartridge. Let's just say I was getting a good full-body workout.

Not your normal road bike terrain


I was able to cycle a good chunk of the rest of the way, and finally I made it to the climb. By this time I was feeling pooped. Like, really really pooped. But at the same time, I love this climb and was pretty excited to climb it again. It's mellow and "stepped-out" enough that I wasn't worried about soloing it, but by the second pitch I had to put my sandwich away and use two axes. :)

Made it!

This photo is the proof. For anyone that has climb THOS, you'll know that you can only see this once you finish the last pitch. The WI4 and last pitch of WI3 is way back there, and I thought I'd toss my axe in the photo for good measure.

Ok, so I "made it", but at the same time, I was at the 21km mark of a marathon. I didn't bring a rope, so I had to downclimb the 12 or so pitches of the ice climb, which is decidely harder than going up. The hardest part is actually starting to downclimb a pitch...sort of requires you pretend the top is a horizontal ladder, and you step backwards and then down the face, hanging your butt out so you can see where your feet are going while your top half is still on the horizontal. Fortunately it requires a lot less energy, so I felt really good at the bottom.

This photo is one of the creek crossings I had to do. Sometimes there were logs I could walk across, and on occasion I wheeled my bike beside the log for balance. This time, I went bare-foot. Yes, that's snow beside the creek. At least I had a half of a tea-towel specially for drying my numb feet on the other side! :)

The ride out went fairly quickly, with the strong tailwind blowing through the Ghost valley, and once I *cycled up the Big Hill on my road bike* (It's about 200 metres, 15% and loose gravel - I'm thinking of putting that on a t-shirt) the ride out was mostly downhill. Unfortunately by the time I got to Waipourous, the wind had all but died, so I didn't do the 50km/h I was hoping for.

After I got cell reception as I got close to Cochrane, the tone of my date, all dressed up with nowhere to go, convinced me that calling for a ride was required (thanks David!), and I skipped out on the last 30km. Still, not a bad day's work!