Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Calgary calling

Do seagulls ever sleep? I'm still in Vancouver, post-BC Superweek, and from the lounge room of Sean's downtown condo (with the windows open), I can hear the cawing of millions* of seagulls. At 11am when I went to bed, it was pretty cool to hear them, since it reminds me how close I am to the ocean, but now that it's shortly after 5am, and I am (or at least was) trying to sleep, I'm not so sure.

Anyway, I'm going to be in Calgary in a day or two, for a short while until I migrate back East. If anyone I haven't yet emailed is about, and has time to catch up, let me know!!

* More than ten.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crack goes the carbon

Brenco criterium was going well until I did a lay-out for a non-existent frisbee on the back straight. I'll save you pics of gore, but here's one of my poor bike. Still, I won't complain too much because I didn't break any bones, nor was I taken out by an errant French media car and put into a barbed wire fence...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Beautiful British Columbia

For tweleve guys de-stressing at the local, after a typically stressful Nationals campaign, I thought we were relatively restrained: our rendition of Umbrella at karaoke was somewhat coherent, the po-po presence when we were kicked out was purely a cautionary measure, I learned of the folly in wrestling sprinters after ending up on the receiving end of a rear naked choke, and very few cars were relocated in the nearby parking lot.

From there, it was a quick drive back to Quebec, and an even quicker flight back to Toronto...some missed connections and lost bags later, we arrived in Vancouver. Fortunately our homeless situation was rectified when Brad's cousin, Warren, came through for us, big time...we crashed at The Chief's place, then drove out to Pemberton the next day.

Pemberton is an awesome little town just north of Whistler. It's like what I imagine Canmore was 20 years ago - it's cool little town situated in a narrow valley, so of course has an abundance of outdoor activities. Nick and I stayed at Warren's buddy's place (how many degrees of separation are we at now?), who literally has bouldering in his back yard, tons of mountain bike trails (which I avoided given my propensity to get seriously injured any time I go) that start a couple of hundred metres away, and some amazing road rides. One particular ride was one of the best I've ever done...half an hour of flat riding from Pembo, then 8km of up to 15% and 5km of up to 11%, then 70km through an amazing valley, to Lillooet. The lakes are mostly very cold, with the exception of two, Mosquito and One Mile lakes, which even a rake like me can get in for a bit...although I seem to have lost all ability to float!

Me being skinny, Brad being Brad

We`ve also had a chance to relax a little, and partake in Canada Day celebrations at the Pemberton Hotel (affectionately called the Pem Ho), and hit up a mid-bush rave, complete with 8-foot speaker stacks, with Brad`s family friends, one of whom I believe won gold last year - hats off to her.

We're now all in Vancouver, tackling BC Superweek: 8 races in 10 days, mostly crits.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Nationals and beyond

Canada's biggest one-day race of the year, the National Road Cycling Championship, was held this past weekend just outside Toronto. My team placed particular emphasis on it, shipping the whole team from west and east coasts (and Montreal), and setting us up for the week in beautiful Oakville (actually, just north of there, in sketchy Oakville...but beautiful Oakville was but a short ride away).
Winning break, which stayed away for 160km: Rob Britton vs Team Spidertech
Photo: Nigel Wallis
I was brimming with confidence after my surprise 38th-place finish last year, confidence that was only tempered by my role as team water-boy/sacraficial lamb. I knew the course would be selective...a gradual climb, leading to 600 meters of torturous 13% climbing, capped by another 1-2 kilometers of more false-flat climbing, gave the strong men of Spidertech (Canada's only pro team) et al, every tool they needed to separate the wheat (them) from the chaff (me and 170 others like me).
Painface by teammate Aaron, photo by Nigel Wallis
I survived the opening kilometers, and I mean this both figuratively and literally: someone crashed on the 100+km/h descent and was taken away in a ambulance in rough shape. I found myself on the wrong side of a separation after the first time up the hill, and the following 5km of drilling it in a 4 man paceline to catch back on was the first nail in my coffin (my coffin only needs two nails). A couple of laps later, I exploded at the top of the hill like a watermelon having a drug overdose. Nige and Dave showed up (thanks, guys!!) unfortunately just in time to see me quite obviously out of contention and being showered in pity-cheering. Teammate Seb had a great race and finished 7th - way to go, Sebber!
Teammate Seb and various other superstars in the front chase group, one hill repeat closer to finishing
Photo: Nigel Wallis