Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Post Race Report: 24hr Hot August Nights MTB

Well originally it was supposed to be an actual race. Last year we put together a team of fatties to race the clydesdale category. By the time the race rolled around, we were just barely 'qualifying' for that category as we all lost so much weight. Regardless, we finished with a proud second place! So this year we were determined to race a normal age group category (since we're nowhere near clydes anymore) and finish as best we can. A top 5 finish could have been possible. However, life changed things and most of the team disbanded. It's been a crazy summer so spending time with family took priority as does tapering for Ironman Muskoka 70.3 which is less than 2 weeks away!
Having already paid the entrace fee, I was determined to go and get something out of it. We brought the kids up with us to spend time together. I figured this would be a good free opportunity for each of them to do a lap and experience a mountain bike race.
We went up a day early and camped Friday night at the race course. We didn't get there early enough to pre-ride the course so we didn't get to see the course ahead of time. Upon arrival we had to kick our neighbours off our campsite as they thought it was part of theres. The campsite numbers are not very clear on whether the site is to the left or right of the post. They were good sports about it, and the one guy even came over to offer us a canopy tent as we didn't have one. This evening was cold. We burned through 2 overpriced wood bundles in a blink of an eye. Dylan, my second oldest son, had read somewhere on the internet that Mars was supposed to be 'as big as the moon' tonight, and it only happens every so-many-centuries. Well when our teammate showed up she identified that as one of the email hoaxes that has been going around. Well that was a bit disappointing, but I had my doubts since the beginning. So we stayed up much later than I would have liked to, but it felt good relaxing in the cool night air with my feet over some hot coals.
In the morning, everything was wet. It didn't rain, but it was so humid that everything got soaked. This wasn't just morning dew. Even the bikes under a tarp still were dripping wet. The forecast was for clear skies and 35 celsius. It was a cooker. All morning we were bantering about who will take the first lap. The first lap of a 24hr race is always a couple of kilomteres longer as they try to thin out the pack before stuffing everyone into singletrack. Nobody ever wants to do the first loop. If you're fast, you get held up at the bottlenecks when hundreds of riders try to converge onto a trail no wider than your tires. If you're slow, you get trampled by the fast riders and then hold everyone up on the technical bits. There's always a risk of a crash at the beginning too. Handlebars get tangled and people run over you when you fall. Anyhow, Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings volunteer'd for the first lap. She's such a trooper! I waited up the course on a bit of a hill so I could snap a picture. Apparently there was a crash at the start line but I couldn't see it from where I was. All I remember is the pack went by me and then I thought to myself W.T.F. as a big brute of a man with a purple cape and purple mask rode by - his cape opened up to reveal he only had a speedo on. I was horrified. In my shock I completely missed Fran go by and didn't get the picture.
To redeem myself I ran over the with singletrack downhill switchbacks to get her picture. I waited in an off-camber corner for her. The purple-people-eater approached my location and I figured I'd snap a pic to show people back home. To my dismay as it rounded the corner the cape opened up and I got a full frontal speedo-only shot. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea. I'm glad the resolution on the LCD preview on the camera is low quality. I didn't want to see detail. Regardless, I did get the pic of Fran on the downhill.
Each lap should take about an hour. That means we have to send the kids out for the next few laps before it gets dark. Blake, my oldest, took first lap. We watched him do the off-camber downhill switchbacks and he did quite well. His speed was decent and didn't hold anyone up. I think the last switchback he almost lost it on the turn. He let go of the brakes and kept his momentum over the roots which saved him. I dont know if he did that on purpose, but regardless it looked really good. Dylan more or less did the same on his lap. When Tyler, our youngest, grabbed the bike in transition he walked up to the mount line and sure enough fell over. He didn't hesitate for one second, he just popped back up and took off on the bike. Mommy was freaking out as usual. I made sure I showed her my support by reaching over, pulling up her t-shirt, while taking my other hand and made scissor cutting motions against her belly button. Yes, cut the cord already mom, sheesh! She worries too much. They are teenagers and need to toughen up a little. We alway bicker about this. Fran is the greatest and takes such good care of us boyz but she has to let them stray from the nest and get a little dangerous once and awhile. It's ok to baby me, but the kids could use some tough love. I'm just sayin'.
Tyler made it to the downhill switchbacks in decent time. Mommy was stressing about him taking the technical turns on the downhill. It would be a far fall to the inside if you get caught on the roots. I wouldn't blame him for walking it, but secretly I was rooting for him to do it. I didn't want to pressure him into forcing himself and getting hurt so I just kept quiet and let him do what he was comfortable with. Sure enough at the top, he stopped beside me. He was having gear problems. A quick look and the gears were fine, he was just overdriving the chain and it was rubbing. It wasn't going to hurt anything, other than the bike. I've had this bike for 15 years and it's seen it's fair share of race wins, crashes and mechanicals. Letting the kid overdrive the chain and damage the derailleur is a small price to pay to not stress him out about how to shift gears. Just ride. I told him its ok, just keep pedalling! He walked the easy first switchback as it would have been to dangerous to try to roll through from a stand still after talking to me. To my surprise he jumped back on the bike and didn't hesitate to go through the next 2 switchbacks which were arguably the most technical section of the course. Wow, I was so proud of him! He just did what needed to be done. I dont even think he slowed down for the last hairy one! The icing on the cake was the rider behind him walked the final turn and he didn't! So now he just had to get over the big uphills and test his cardio against the distance of the lap. It took awhile, but eventually he made his way back to transition for a complete lap!
The rest of the race was more or less uneventful. I had no interest in riding. These trails don't turn me on as they remind me of the Ontario Cup mountain bike race courses that do not deserve to be associate with 'mountain biking'. Seriously, this course as well as the provincial races are more like road riding than mountain biking. Nothing technical, just fast flowing trails. No technical skill is needed. I don't know how they could be called a mountain bike race, heck people were using cyclocross bikes on this course. Anyhow, I knew coming to this event that I wasn't interested in riding. Since we're not racing, it turns into a casual easy afternoon ride. No fun in that. After our fourth rider headed out, I turned to the campfire and drank booze and stuffed my face with junk food. I wasn't going to do a night ride for my first lap, not worth getting injured over something so trivial so close to Ironman Muskoka. I'll see how I feel in the morning.
Come morning, we found our teammate had been running a few laps over the night. Great job on her account, it was her first 24hr race so she was excited about doing it. I'm worn out from last 2 years of miserably rainy 24hr races so it was refreshing to see someone ignorant to the pain of getting up at 3am in the cold, wet, mud to do a lap. She peaked my interest in me getting a lap of my own in. In the mix of all this I was playing with the neighbours. They kept asking me if I got a lap in yet. They were doing a respectable tag-team race which is extremely tough no doubt, so everytime they came in they had to ask 'did u get a lap in yet??'. As in I was some kind of wuss for not doing a lap yet. So I layed it on thick and tried to sound as non-caring as I possibly could. 'maybe I will do a lap, maybe I wont. Heck I will start a lap and probably just do a half, I dunno'. By morning I could tell they were getting annoyed. The one guy rolled his eyes when I told him I 'was still thinking about it, I am warming up still'. They couldn't wrap there heads around why I was there if I had no intention on riding. Well when you've been doing this kind of stuff for as long as I have, they might understand. I am here for a camping trip with the family, not a mountain bike race in my mind. Regardless eventually I donned my cycling clothes and headed to transition. Fran was coming back from her morning lap and I had a mission. A riding buddy 2 campsites over did a 52 minute lap, thus I had something to set out to do. A goal. Not just a boring ride, but a target to strive for. I got the timing chip and set out. I pretty much sat at max heart rate the entire time. I did slow down on some corners only to be mad at myself afterward as I should have been able to scream through them except I hadn't pre ride the course so I didn't know what to expect. I was lucky enough to only get stuck behind one young slow rider for a short bit. Close to the end of the lap there is something called 'ride the plank' which used to be known as Chico's shooting gallery. It's exactly that. A big deep mud pit with a plank acrossed it that you optionally can try to ride over. The catch is someone is shooting you with a high-pressure hose, usually in the face, to try to get you to fall in. Make no mistake, this pit is very deep and nasty smelling mud. The first 50 or so people that try to do it get a free T-Shirt regardless if you make it or not. Alot of people avoid the plank and take the chicken route around as the consequences are pretty steep if you don't make it across. I've managed to ride the plank successfully the last few races. Today I was saved by my tires. I had a squirrely mount up onto the plank and came to an almost stand still while trying to hold my balance. As soon as the kid with the hose starting shooting me in the face I just pedaled as hard as I could to straighten out my line. My tires were hanging off the edge, the only thing that saved me was the soft rubber compound wrapping around the edge and giving me just enough traction to jump off the other end. It was close. The closest yet to falling in. I was pleased to see I did a 50 minute lap and out-done my buddy, however later he claimed to have done a 46minute lap. I have to verify this claim still, but it's not all that impossible. I had plenty of room to shave more time off my lap. Great job on his part to make such a huge improvement over his first lap. Wow!
Our team took third place, which was inevitable. For the awards ceremony I let the wife and kids go up to collect the medals on stage so I could get a picture. Now the kids have something to remember the race by!
By the end of it, I was whooped. I had only done 1 lap, but ultimately I think my allergies were effecting me. I don't know what I'm allergic to, but whatever it was that was in the air was sucking my energy levels and I was sneezing and sniffling non-stop. I was looking forward to getting indoors. I wish I would have had some claritan or something with me. This allergy thing is new to me, never had a problem my whole life but it has arrived with a vengence.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Race Report - Offroad Triathlon 2010

Woke up to find that it had rained all night long. Dense fog and rain mist made up the drive to the race course. I'm ok with this though, I have so much muddy mountain bike experience from last year that this should give me an edge. After Peterborough triathlon in the scorching hot sun, I never want to do that again. Rain and mud is fine by me!
This is the first offroad triathlon in Ontario in a very long time apparently. 1K swim loop, 18km Mountain Bike(2 laps), 8.5km trail run out and back.
I could tell right away I was going to enjoy this event. In the parking lot everyone made eye contact and smiled and there was a good vibe in the air unlike the typical snobby tri-dork events. Reminded me of being at a 24hr mountain bike race. Especially the rain and mud - every race for the past 2 years has rained.

In the transition zone it was different. Scary as it seemed I was among the more experienced people there as some extremely noob questions were flying about and the majority looked lost. Yup, definitely falls more into a mountain bike event than a triathlon. Heck, with 10 minutes to start the majority didn't even have their wetsuit on and I could count the number of swimmers in the water warming up on one hand. During my warmup I speared a guy. Everyone, the 5 of us, was swimming in the general direction to the first buoy and back. This guy came out of nowhere and I ran into the side of him. He was going completely perpindicular to the 'course' and didn't seem too happy with me that I didn't see him. I brushed it off and finished my warmup.
The swim course was not very well understood. The lifeguards, nor the volunteers, knew how to swim the buoys. There were green buoys and orange smaller buoys. It made sense to keep the green buoys to our left, except the last buoy was in a strange spot PAST the swim exit and against the shore. Heck you could pratically run the beach to get to the last buoy. Anyhow we all guessed amongst ourselves and collectively agree to cut the last buoy to the right. Eventually the race director came over to clear it up, but still, we were all clueless until 30 seconds from race start. Oh and he mentioned the small orange buoys were just for sighting. Strange though as I seen little to know logic in their placement. They were all over the place.
With 10 seconds to go until start - people still looked pretty clueless. It was a beach start in the shallow water. As the guy counted down EVERYBODY started backing up. They were all going the wrong way. In the end, I wound up way out front for the start. Horn. Start. Run? Ok, it was pretty shallow and you could actually run for a bit. Once in the water and on my way I realized I was in trouble. I couldn't sight the buoys at all. It was so dark from overcast rain clouds and so foggy that my tinted swim mask made it near impossible to see where I had to go. I just followed the crowd, or so I thought, until I found myself waaaay left and off course. A quick correction, or 10, and I made it to the first buoy without drowning. Obviously we all converged on the buoy so around the corner I got run over by a couple swimmers. I thought to myself I just want this over, I am not enjoying this part. I could feel I was not in 'the zone' and my heart rate was in panic mode. The turn to the last buoy was the worst. It was so far away that nobody could see it. I could see plenty of people making repeated corrections. It was placed way too far out in this fog. I was glad to get that swim over, I did not enjoy it at all.
The bike - well I just biked. I didn't race all out, but I certainly didn't dog it. On the technical downhill I really enjoyed myself. On second lap I blew a guy away enough that he had to commend me after the race. That felt good, technical singletrack is my biggest strength followed by uphill, or so I thought. On the uphill I made most my passing. However on the second lap I actually got passed by two people on that same uphill. I'm a strong climber but these guys were in a whole other league. It was a very humbling experience. They had huge leg muscles and while I was middle-ringing this hill, they no doubt were big ringing. I just remind myself - there is always another level. Wow. I have something to work towards over the winter.
Run - well I held back a bit on the bike so I could test out my new run. I am such a weak runner that I've died every race. I've been working to improve that so here we are. On my way out of transition, which was a mud pit by the way, I donned my fancy new Garmin GPS which made all the difference. Knowing my heatrate and pace was crucial. I dont have enough experience to know how fast I'm going or gauge my percieved exersion. I end up blowing up on the runs because I push way too hard. So with the Garmin, I just adjusted myself to remain in the 'comfort' zone. I got passed by some really fast runners. Sorry, I meant sprinters. Then I got passed by a couple runners but I felt good about this. I know my run sucks, but I was smiling and loving the fact that I was ACTUALLY running and not suffering and walking/crawling like all my other races. I got passed by a couple very fit woman that obviously were the leaders for the womans race. I could only appreciate that my run allowed me to hang around long enough to enjoy the view. That was until I got passed by a large athlete. She was running a good pace faster than me and I couldn't understand how she got up here in the top of pack. It was a little uncomfortable having to follow her for awhile but I was happy that her run was faster than mine and she left me in her tracks, pretty deep ones at that. I didn't see anyone around me for the majority of the run. I was pretty much solo. I think I was passed by 6 or so people on the run which I was ecstatic that it wasn't the entire field. I was proud that I was able to run the entire split. No 1 minute walks were needed! I pushed hard at the end, oops it wasn't the end, so I ended up going way too hard for way too long. That hurt, but it was the finish so it looked good. I think.

At the finish I learned that the large woman on the run was actually part of a RELAY team on the same course, sadly this made me feel a bit better at least.
I was happy to have my family out to watch me. The wife and kids really toughed it out in that humid wet weather. Surprisingly my mother came out to watch which meant alot. Its always great having someone there to cheer you on. It can make that little bit of difference.
I finished Overall 18th, Category 5th. I believe I was Swim 6th, Bike 4th, Run just short of dead last.
Now I'm just in taper mode for Ironman Muskoka. I know that I need to significantly slow down my pace if I am to make it to the finish. I forsee a great deal of suffering! :)
Here's a vid of the race, check out those trail conditions lol!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


A trip to the trails with the entire family made up the evening. The plan was to hit the bike/run split of this weekend's offroad triathlon that I'm considering doing. We were running a bit late getting out the door since I had to take a few minutes to replace the derailleur cables on my old Trek so my son could join me for a lap. Since we're making them do a lap at the upcoming 24hr race it seemed appropriate to bring them out for a ride so they can get used to the bike. Dylan, my son, and I headed out for our lap while Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings and my other 2 sons went for a trail run. The first trail I brought Dylan on was called eXtreme Trail. I figured if we started with the hardest stuff first, the rest will look easy to him. To my surprise, he sailed over the technical rock and roots with no fear! Heck, he even went over the skinny wood plank bridge! Every major obstacle I would look back as he shunned the 'chicken' trail that avoided the obstacle and made it look easy. I just couldn't break him. On one of the little rocky uphills the toeclip broke on his bike. I ripped the remaining peices off the bike which left him with just a standard pedal. This wouldn't be a problem as there was no more technical trails after this. Halfway through the lap is a huge uphill called ascension. It's a loose gravel road that goes up the side of the ski hill. He even made that look easy too. With a little speed work on the flats, I think he could be one heck of a rider. Maybe I'll give him a nudge to come for a few more rides with me. Again, I don't want to push him into something he's not interested in but he has talent!
At the end of the lap I changed clothing and headed out for a quick trail run to survey the course. On my way out I passed Tyler, my youngest, who was a good 50 feet in front of Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings. Yes, she was losing to a 13 year old. I don't even think he was sweating. As I got closer I could see that the Mrs. was laying down on the job at one point. All up her leg and side of her body was scrapes and dirt. Looks like someone has been body surfing. That's my wife. Her feet are definitely heavier than she thinks because I was told that she kept tripping over things to the point where Tyler had to straighten her out by telling her to 'stop doing that mom!'. You just can't take her anywhere. Blake, my oldest, I think has been playing too many video games. He was behind mummy by a good 20 feet and looked like he was having a heart attack. I'll take him out for a lap sometime soon. I know he can do the technical stuff on the bike too as he has been out with us on these trails before and done well.
My run was scary. Scary as in I think someone stole my legs and replaced them with... a gazelle's legs. My legs were posessed! I have never run that fast in my life!! I just looked down and they were motoring along at a sub 5min/km pace. I've never seen the number 4 on my garmin pace monitor before. Sometimes it was very low 4:00min/km. I was just along for the ride as clearly these were not my legs. I've never run on trail before. I run railtrail but its wide flat gravel doubletrack whereas this was real uneven rocky/rooty singletrack trail. It was so exciting! It was almost like racing a mountain bike through technical singletrack as I had to pre-plan every step and judge the extension of my leg depending on potholes and uphills and log jumps and wow this was alot of fun. I can't run that fast on a flat surface, but something about being offroad in the forest made my adrenaline pump and I felt like I was flying. I can't wait to do this again, I may have found my calling. After the run I was stoked, it was a very short run due to daylight but it was enough to convince me that I really want to do the race this weekend. We're still waiting to find out what the repair costs on the wife's bike will be as that will influence my willingness to register. I have to decide by tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The Y-33 lives! This is my old mountain bike. I came home last night to find that my wife had cleaned it up in preparation for our 24hr mountain bike relay race next week. Our team was originally competitive but given how close this is to Ironman Muskoka, among other excuses, most of the team has opted out and those of us still showing up are just there for fun. I thought this would be a good opportunity to have my 3 sons go do a lap and see what it's like! Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings let the kids know our plan to make them do a lap, and the response was less than stellar. My boys do not ride. We bought some very decent bikes for them a few years ago and they just aren't interested. I don't push the issue as I know what it's like to be pushed into a sport that you're not in love with. For me it was basketball, and a ton of it. Regardless, this is a free opportunity for the kids to get out of the house and try something new. This was an $8000 rare carbon bike back in the day so the kids are going to turn some heads to say the least. I wish I had a picture to show you, but my smart phone is so horrible to use that I dread taking it out. I'll try and get one tonight. The picture above is from the last official race that we did together during my 'comeback' year. I was 50lbs heavier and almost died on that final hill that is part of the Paris to Ancaster race but at least I beat the other 2 guys up by a long shot. I've won more than my fair share of races on my Trek so I feel bad not riding it any more. It will be exciting to see it in action again! I can't wait!

On the training front, I managed to get a MTB reverse loop in at Twinponds Puslinch. I am getting bored with the usual routes so I had to try something different. Going backwards on the loop meant I couldn't race through the blind corners as I risked a head on collision. It was also much more technical going backwards but I invite the challenge. At the end of my ride I felt dissatisfied. It didn't feel like a workout. I think my fitness is reaching a level where I need to take things up a notch on the bike. I think I'll wait until after IM Muskoka before I notch, heck I should be thinking about my taper very soon.
When I got home, I craved an ice cream cone. We had cones sitting on the counter, but no ice cream. So while I was in the shower we sent the kids out to pickup ice cream. Yes, aren't kids great!

We had to send Fran's bike in to the bike shop to bleed her mountain bike brakes. I dont have the necessary fittings to bleed her type of brake and I can't be bothered to buy the tool to do it. I'll just as soon buy brand new brakes to match my make/model so we only need one set of tools. I do all my own bike work, I dont remember the last time I paid a bike store for labour but it was too late to tack the tools/parts onto our last shipment from the bike store in the UK and I didn't want to pay shipping for a couple odds and ends. I would like to do the Kelso mountain bike Triathlon this weekend, however I want to know how much the bike repair will cost first before I go spending money. We still haven't heard back from the bike shop.

Nutrition Fail. I at lunch a Wendy's today. Fries and spicey chicken burger. Then I had left over breaded pizza for dinner. Yup, I've been a bad boy. Face.Palm.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm Melting

When everyone is hiding inside with their air conditioners, I absolutely love going out for a ride. I love the heat, the hotter the better. When it's 30+ celsius outside, I have the trails to myself. No dog walkers, no hikers, not even cyclists. I can go as fast and as far as I want with no interruptions! However, this summer is beginning to take it's toll on me. It started a few weeks ago when I did the 250Km road ride in 38 Celsius weather. It took awhile to recover from that, but now the feeling is back - when I step outside into the heat, I feel ill. Nautious perhaps. It's hard to explain, but I have had enough of it. I know I'll regret saying this once things begin to cool down, but ultimately I am sick and tired of the heat. So this paves the way for Saturday's mountain bike ride. When I set out, I felt really bad. I could tell my energy levels in this humidity were the lowest they've been all summer. The plan was to hit a bunch of hills to work on my climbing. On the first hill, I damn near had a heart attack. My hearrate screamed out of control and if it wasn't for a cyclist I ran into at the top of the hill, I probably would have quit right then and there. I stopped at the top and had a conversation. Well, he did most of the talking, I just tried to get my breathing under control and not have my head explode. This worked out good as it gave me a chance to recover. After this, I felt my energy level bump up a notch as my body was definitely awake after that episode. I forced myself to hit every major uphill climb I could find in the Dundas Valley area. This is several thousand vertical feet of steep climbing. I didn't realize just how far I had actually gone until the final stretch. I was just about broken at that point. I was close to bonking, probably more to do with lack of nutrition intake but this was compounded by the relentless heat. The quality of this ride trumps any century ride I could have ever done on my road bike. The climbing was just that tough. So sure enough later in the evening I had to hide inside with air conditioning. Again, even Sunday morning I really felt like vomitting when the wall of heat hit me as I stepped out the door. I knew I had to get a run in, but ultimately would have to wait until the end of the day in the hopes things cooled down. Nutrition wise, I could feel that my body was lacking something but just couldn't tell what. I should have taken the day off after Saturday's hardcore ride but I'm desperate to improve my running with IM Muskoka just around the corner. I mixed it up a bit and took my run down a route that has some decent hills in it. I found that uphills use much the same muscle group as my cycling and I felt comfortable on them. The key is to watch my heartrate and not let it climb too high. The downhills, I just don't understand. I can't figure out a proper technique, it just feels awkward and I was dreading the downhills. I'll need to work on this for sure. Regardless, the route was a little shorter than I would have liked but it was better than nothing I guess.
Monday will be an unscheduled rest day as I have to take my son to his soccer game. Fran, Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings, has left me for a business trip. Oh how the world falls apart when she is not around!

Running: 3 hrs
Cycling: 5 hrs
Swimming: nil

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anniversary, Birthday, Toys!

What a crazy week to come back to work from a week of vacation. I've practically been going non-stop. Wednesday was my birthday AS WELL as our 3 year wedding anniversary. Yes, they were the same day - she stole my birthday! That's ok though, as in theory I should be getting twice as many gifts that day right?? The traditional anniversary gift on the third year is 'something leather'. Yes, I could think of many things leather that I could get her, but non of them G-Rated so instead we kept it simple and exchanged shoes! She got some really high-end road cycling shoes to go with the Look pedals we found in my parts stash, and I got a pair of Asics running shoes! I'm still waiting for the shoes to arrive, I'm excited about getting out of these 5 year old addidas no-names. I know you're not supposed to run in shoes that old, but I can assure you they got little to no use - did I mention I hate and suck at running? Well I'm not hating running as much now that I have a cool new toy! To go with those shoes, she got me a Garmin Forerunner 305, running socks and a Livestrong shirt! I've been taking my Edge 305 cycling GPS with me on runs so I can review the data afterwards, but I really need to see my heart rate and pace real time. I wasn't able to read the Edge305 as it was stuck in my pocket. So sure enough the next morning I was up at 5:30am, slapped the snooze button a few times, but eventually did get up to go play with my new toys! It was easy programming the ForeRunner305 as I already understood the menu's from the Edge. The only thing I'm still tweaking is what fields to show on each screen. I found out this morning that I use the lap button alot and would like to review my last lap easier. I haven't verified but I think this unit will pair up with my speed/cadence sensor on my bike too. I prefer the size of the display on the Edge, so I'll definitely keep using that for the bike, plus the altimeter is more accurate. This morning's run felt great! I have had a couple extra rest days.. ok, I slacked big time and missed some workouts due to weather, work, life and laziness. Oh I felt so guilty so I forced myself out of bed this for the run. It was a long run, which is usually reserved for weekends, but I deserved to be punished for my slacking. Surprisingly my shin splints hardly bothered me. And Post run, I feel great. I think I'm slowly working through these noob muscle pains. Surely this is not enough in time for Muskoka, but I can appreciate what little progress I've made! All this is moot of course, as we had gone to Tucker's Marketplace for our anniversary dinner and absolutely pigged out on all you can eat. I'm so bad. Although I did kind of eat healthy... well maybe not really. Oh well, whatever. We also exchanged cards with the standard page long hand-written love note. I would prefer to type it on a computer and print it out as my handwriting is practically encrypted - I'm the only one that can read it. I think she just smiles and nods politely, there's no way she can read that chicken scratch! Computer printer notes dont carry the same personal touch, so I suffer the hand cramps and still do it by hand. We also went and seen the movie Inception. Different. Today's awkward moment is brought to you by the big boss - I brought Tim the Beaver along for our anniversary lunch date, and while in the elevator the CEO pulled tim out of my pack pocket and everyone wondered why I had a stuffed animal beaver in my pants lol. Yup, awkward. Tim the Beaver is one of those stories that no matter how hard you try, you can't get the point across as you had to be there to experience it. Tim is our symbol of something special. Tim absolutely LOVES Fran. ;)

Monday, August 9, 2010


And here it is. The first slacker day to post on the blog. Yes, I skipped Sunday's long run. Without making excuses, I simply just didn't do it. My hamstrings are very sore from an epic mountain bike ride, but it shouldn't have stopped me from running. We just relaxed around the house and did pretty much nothing. On the plus side my snacking was reasonable and I didn't gorge on any sweets. I tell myself that the mountain bike ride I did deserved a recovery day as it was 5+ hours with a ton of climbing! On the other hand, I'm so behind on my running performance that I need every single one of my workouts. I can't afford to miss my run! Did I mention I suck at running? It's hard to measure up a mountain bike ride against a road bike ride. A 5 hour road bike ride is plenty reasonable which should get you close to 100miles-ish. There's no reason why I wouldn't run the next day. A 5 hours mountain bike ride, in my mind, is the equivalent of a 130mile road ride. Add in some hefty climbing and you could easily say it's closer to 145mile road ride. Is it equivalent though? Obviously it's a different kind of training as your heartrate spikes on the uphills and drops on the descent. There's a ton more strength training of the entire body with rocks and roots and technical obstacles to overcome. The day after a 140 mile road ride should warrant a rest day by anyone's standards, right? I guess I'm trying to rationalize the unplanned epic mountain bike ride against followed with an unplanned rest day. Regardless, it is done. I'll just have to do the long run Monday night. After pre-driving the run course of IM Muskoka I now know for certain - I'm in over my head! No matter what I do, I'm in for a world of hurt. I can't run! And time has run out...

WEEK 3 SUMMARY (Cycling Vacation week)

Cycling: 15+ hours
Swim: Nil
Run: Nil

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ganaraska Cherry

So last minute I packed the truck and printed the directions to a place I've never ridden before to join an MTB club that was hosting a group ride. Ganaraska forest is beyond huge. Something like 100km+ of trails! Definitely not a place you want to goto alone as you can get lost for a very very long time. It's not unheard of people having to stay overnight because they couldn't find there way out. Upon arriving the 17 riders split into two groups, slow and fast. I stuck to the front of the fast group. The hosts of the group ride chose a near perfect set of trails with surprisingly excellent flow. Riding with Defiant MTB made all the difference, this trip was definitely worth while. We lost a few riders at our lunch break as they didn't stay for the final 20 km, however after a good 10km into the last loops we were down to only 5 people left. There is alot of climbing and sand which took its toll on people.
When I join the group rides, its to just have fun and be social. I'm not looking to race anyone or push the pace, I just want to enjoy the trail with others. I spend so much time training and riding solo that it's welcoming having others around that I can share the experience with, especially when I'm riding with my wife. I tend to be able to hold any pace or distance just about anyone can throw at me so I always adjust my ride to match the people I'm with. Alot of people feel pressured when a quicker rider is around, they don't like their back wheel being ridden by someone behind them so they go too fast and get sloppy riding out of their comfort zone. As much I try to avoid this, it happens alot. So I end up riding out front more or less alone as usual lol! There is a few other club's rides out there that would label me as the 'slow guy' and give me a real good workout. I love these, but most of those groups are rather 'clicky' and don't invite outsiders to join them often. So many clubs, so little time.

Recovery Day

Friday rest day could not have come sooner. After a week of bone pounding technical riding, I need to let the bruises and cuts heal! This works out well as it gives us a chance to clean the drivetrains and check over the equipment. It looks like I'll need a new seat as mine is beginning to tear. Pretty good, it lastest quite a while which is rare for me. Fran's been eyeing the Look pedals I have stashed away in the cycling parts bin. I figure we'll pickup some shoes for her to fit them so she doesn't have to swap her pedals between bikes all the time.
Rest days also seem to be stuff my face silly with candy and junk food. I should really lay off the chips and sweets but as long as I'm not putting on weight I am not too worried about it. I burn enough calories through the week and eat reasonably well. Or at least leaps and bounds better than what I used to eat! While in Bracebridge we hit Marty's world famous coffee shop and came across the biggest apple pie I've ever seen. This thing was monstorous! It was $60 for the pie which should put it into perspective. Brian PFG could easily erase the 'P' with this pie. He's been known to devour 1000+ calorie apple pies with a side of full package of hot dogs (spider dogs to be percise). He's my hero! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Saddest Vacation

Oh snap!
The morning started off well, but ended in nothing short of misery. We slept in after last evening's beautiful night ride. There was no pressure to rush today as we were doing a 4hr road ride in Huntsville so we could start it any time of day. The weather report looked swell and we are fairly organized so packing the truck would only take moments. I went to pack the truck, I always start with the most valuable/critical stuff first. I grabbed the electronics, bike lights, ID etc and noticed something was missing from the pile. Not a problem as that something is only ever stored in two places - either with my ID/credit cards or its in the center console of our truck as I don't take it cycling with me. The problem as you may have guessed was it wasn't in the center console either. First there was confusion, as if I placed it somewhere out-of-normal? Then there was complacency, as if it'll just magically turn up any moment now as there is no way it's been lost. Then anxiety as it wasn't jumping up and saying 'HERE I AM!'. Panic. Despair. Desperation. Panic. Nerd Rage. Then I got really scared. I think I remember TV sit-coms about this scenario and I think it always ended with the man laying dead in a ditch somewhere after being visciouslly pummeled to death by a raving mad woman. Well there's no sense delaying the enevitable so I may as well just confess and get help trying to find it.
"uhhh.... uhhh.... uhhhhh.... I can't find my wedding ring". A moment of silence. She just stood there. I could tell she was working things out. I thought maybe she had seen it and was trying to recall where it was. I had hope. I thought all is well. I thought she'd just find it right there under my nose as she does with everything and sarcastically (?) follows up her easy find with "You're such a man" as if the "cant find sh*t" gene was passed on to me by my gender. So here I'm thinking all is well, we'll just laugh this one off. She slowly moves over to the kitchen counter reaches out to grab the obvious as I probably left on the counter while washing dishes. No wait. I don't wash dishes. .... ... W.T.F. goes through my mind as a sharp peircing pain goes right through my chest! again and again, she relentless stabbed me with a chopping knife, right through my heart!?!! She grabs the scissors off the counter and screams 'BOBBIT!!!!!!!1!@$!!! as I squeel in agony as peices of anatomy fly through the air. I tried to make a run for the door but then she pulls out the chainsaw - WAIT - WHERE THE HECK DID SHE FIND A CHAINSAW?!?!!! ZOMG MY LEGS!. Ok well, luckily that was just what was all in my mind, but damn that was one loooong awkward silence after delivering the news that will forever change my life. *Gulp*. Sooo we looked and we looked and then we looked in the most desperate of places. After retracing my steps we came to the conclusion it probably fell off my hand rather than my putting it somewhere and forgetting about it. The thing is - I'm a PFY. Previously Fat Guy. The year we got married we had the ring sized before I lost weight for our wedding. The ring was made of Titanium which we are told cannot be sized, ever. My once sausage fingers are more like those skinny chocolate fingers I got so fat on at one point (Yummy cookies!). It's been falling off from time to time, and well I guess this was bound to happen one day. I'm sad. I'm sad that she was sad. I try to rationalize it by saying it's just a peice of metal and that all that matters is that we have each other and I know she loves me and I love her and wait is that a chainsaw in behind her back?? Ok, don't try to rationalize it. EVAR. Things happen, be sad, mourn the loss, and be stronger knowing we can appreciate how awesomeness our relationship really is. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I still have my legs, my male anatomy is in tact, and there's not puncture wounds in my chest. It could be worse I guess. Tim the beaver approves of our relationship. :)
Sooo on that dismal note I wondered if we'd still be riding in the afternoon. The tough part about long road rides is that you have a long time to be with yourself and your thoughts on the open road. You need to be mentally balanced and can survive the comfort of your own company for hours at a time. I didn't know if she wanted to commit to a 4 hours solo road ride (we planned not to ride together on this one due to pace/climbing differences). My wife is one tough chick. Seriously, the toughest woman on the planet. Heck she's with ME! :) We had our sad moment, she sucked it up and had lunch and out we went. Just short of 100km with a 40km/h headwind and a ton of climbing, I was glad to have that ride over with. The plan was for me to get to the truck, drive backwards and pick her up at whatever point she made it to. I did an extra 16km to complete the entire Ironman Muskoka bike course and then starting packing up to go save teh wife. Low and behold she arrived! Wow my wife is amazing. That was a brutal ride for me, and she finished the entire loop! I'm so proud of her! I should have known not to doubt her strength, she has proved herself time and time again. But then I got worried. The first thing she said was "maybe you had a revelation while on your ride and you remember where the ring is?". Uh Oh. Is that the humming sound of a 2-stroke motor coming from behind her back? What is she doing with that chainsaw!?! ... well I was too tired to run so I took it like a man and offered her a peanut butter cream cookie instead. We jumped in the lake together which was surprisingly warm but refreshing. We topped the day off with an evening in Huntsville and fine dining (lousy service ugggh) but as always made the best of it.

I love my wife.

Rewarding Night Ride

Trying to get caught up here. We had a couple late nights so I never had a chance to update the blog! Wednesday brought us to Buckwallow Cycling Center. It's very popular as it has a balanced mix of moderate technical rock and fast flowing singletrack. A great challenge for a weekend warrior and just tough enough to keep an advanced rider occupied. This place has a welcoming committee. You arrive at the parking lot and within minutes someone is there to greet you. Well I think it had more to do with they wanted to collect the money for the trail fee, but nonetheless it's different from the typical 'honour' system of a drop-box. At $10 a head it's a steep price to ride trails, but these trails are very well marked and maintained and these guys have earned every penny. The ride started off on the most technical singletrack. It probably wasn't a good choice for a warmup, and in retrospect it was technical but a lousy technical with no obvious good lines. Perhaps after seeing it once or twice it would help as you know what to expect. I failed miserably at this section, or maybe I was tired from the day before. Regardless after that things looked up! We got our rythm back and were knocking off trails left and right. It was our second time here so we knew enough of the trails to peice together a great flow. Surprising we ran into a few famillies out on the trails. Some were in the intermediate trails which I suspect was way over there ability. I'm guessing the seen a 'cycling center' in a tourist brochure but didn't understand that bikes cand do some amazing things on rocks and logs. In the end we found the one family didn't even bring helmets. It's mandatory bike helmets here obviously. Helmets save lives. I'm guessing his daughters didn't want to mess up there hair or something, but ultimately I strongly believe in bike helmets. Obviously wearing one is not foolproof but it's so easy to bump your head on the silliest of falls and your life is changed forever. Not worth it in my opinion. I feel naked on a bike without one. The plan was to do a lap, picnic our lunch and then head out again. Our first lap took quite a bit longer than expected and we didn't get our night ride in the night before so instead we just picnic'd and headed back to the hotel for rest in prep for Torrance Barrens. Admittedly I was a bit nervous about the whole night ride on trails we didn't know very well. Fran was downright scared about the wildlife. We had a bear bell but I don't know what we would do if we ran into a wolf or something. The place is super dark and somewhat deep backcountry trails on wide open area rock. When we night ride around home you can see a crazy amount of glowing eyes looking back at you from the reflection of the lights. There is always a ton of wildlife hiding in trees that you can't see in the day. It's spooky. So being up North, we were a bit worried about what's behind the glowing eyes as there are much bigger wildlife to worry about up here. Well we fired up the lights and headed out. The trailhead had a few cars in it as it looks like a fair number of astronomers were here to take advantage of a clear sky on an official Dark Sky reserve. Right off the bat we took a wrong turn. I was following my GPS course that I downloaded of the internet but made missed a proper turn. Once we were back on track it was smooth sailing. The trail was surprising easier to follow in the pitch dark as the trail markers were paint on rock which reflected just enough light to see where to go next. Remember this is open rock landscape so there is very few trees or anything to connect a sign to. We stopped a few times to turn off the lights and look up to see a crazy number of stars. It was a perfectly calm warm night, we couldn't have asked for better conditions. Fran freaked out a few times about sounds of 'things following her'. I think she watches too much TV. I reassured her that no matter what happens, I know I can run faster and bike faster than her so I know I'll be fine. :) We did half of the figure 8 trail route. There was no sense doing the other half and risk batteries burning out. Plus I had a bad experience on the other half last time we were here (daytime). I went over the bars into a disgustingly swampy bog. It wasn't pretty.
Anyhow - Once back to the truck, we pulled out the lawn chairs and I had a beer under the stars. Perfect end to an awesome mountain bike day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Porcupines Rock

Tim approves of Porcupine Ridge. Who's Tim you say? Tim is Fran's buddy. He goes on our trips with us to remind us that things could be much much worse. Our last trip to Algonquin interior consisted of some hardcore canoe/portage on non-maintained trails in early spring. To put things in perspective, it was snowing when we put in at the trailhead. Day 1 of the trip got cut short due to huge waves on the lake which made it unsafe to cross, and believe me we tried! Day 2 we had to make up for 2 days travel which countless lift-overs and beaver dams but we got to where we needed to. Day 3 is where Tim The Beaver comes in. About halfway through a huge 2500 meter portage between the tim river and a little lake we came across an area that was literally decimated by beaver. Large tress that I couldn't wrap my arms around were fell. The non-river turned into a huge muddy impassable pond that we would have had to canoe across as the trail ran right under it. We had to make a couple trips to collect the gear for a literally 10 second canoe ride except every time we had to climb over countless fell trees and one in particular stood out. A large fell tree stump that was knawed on to the point where there was several INCHES thick of goey white puss with blood dripping and oozing throughout it. It was a really sick sight. All we could imagine was some bloodshot eyed pyscho beaver bleeding at the gums and relentlessly knawing on this tree, the thought of crossing the beaver's path was scary. We named him, BEAVERZILLA. We quickly crossed Beaverzilla's pond to try to find trail on the other side. We were in unmarked territory off the typically beaten path that most backcountry travellers avoid. None of these trails are maintained by the forest ranger like most people are used to. So on the other side we search for quite some time to pickup the trail. We came across skulls and bones and could clearly see that the narrow pass between two ridges was probably a kill zone for something unfriendly. In the end, Beaverzilla had destroyed any chance of us continuing, the path was lost forever and clearly nobody dared continue on. The next 'pond' was so small that to aimlessly wander for hours with all the gear would be suicide. We were to turn back and now the furthest point away from the put-in we were forced to paddle against the current of Tim River and travel 3 days worth of distance, in 1. There are no campsites along this route, we had to make it back to the next major lake. Needless to say in the end, I was at my breaking point physically so I don't know how my awesomely tough wife handled it, but she did. Damn I'm lucky. Damn you Tim The Beaver (Aka Beaverzilla). So when we got back to the ranger station, I picked up a stuffed beaver toy to remind Fran of how fun and loving beavers really are. This was the second trip wrecked by beavers, I won't even start on the other one (It was our honeymoon!) So far this trip is nothing short of awesomness. Tim joined Fran in the car this morning and they spent some quality time together for the trip up. We reached the parking lot for Porcupine ridge to find out we're surprisingly the only ones there. I understand these trails are extreme by even the most technical mountain bikers but I still expect to see at least ONE vehicle in the parking lot. Anyhow we grabbed a quick snack and hit the trails. It starts out with a wheely off a skinny bridge, onto a teeter-totter and the up the only couple big uphills and into the most technical rooty, rocky trails you can find around here. We did 2 laps total, and hit just about every marked trail you can find. Not a single crash, not a hint of a mechanical just perfect riding. The rocks started off slick, it looks like there was recent rain in the past 12hrs but after an hour or so they got there traction back. That gave us time to warm up on the more tame trails, rather than risk getting injured or breaking the bike on the first challenging trail. It worked out well. Even managed to peice together a hidden super-technical loop with skinny's and a drop or two. In the end we packed things up and headed into Bracebridge as the trail reviews for Porcupine Ridge had highly recommended hitting a small 'world famous' coffee shop called Marty's for the best butter tarts you could ever have. Well they were good, but not mind-blowing or anything. The only mind blowing thing was the $7 for a vanilla milk shake and $4 for a tart. Yeh, smells like a tourist trap, feels like a tourist trap, damn they got me. Oh well, I paid my dues. The only down side for today was we didn't get the room at the INN that we had reserved. There's a special room with a perfect view through a big bay window that the bed is right up against. You can wake up and roll over and look right out over the lake. Well, that room was not available so they 'upgraded' us to the biggest place they got but it sucks compared to out special room. We were too hungry to care, and we had boxed ourselves in by bringing food that needed to be barbequed so to go elsewhere would mean we would have to eat out and let these steaks go to waste. So we stayed here and barbequed. Except the BBQ took for frackin' EVAR!!! So hungry and it took forever to cook. I don't know if Natural gas burns hotter or something but thie propane bbq is nothing like the one we got at home. It took 10 times longer, I wish I was joking. We were pressed for time to slip a night ride in at Torrance Barrens so maybe we'll try to get it in tomorrow night. We have most the day free tomorrow so we should be rested and fed in time to attempt a night ride. It just means we'll suffer that much more on Thursday while pre-riding Ironman Muskoka bike course.

Lap 1 trail review by Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings

The wall - video don't do the grade justice, its quite vertical

Lap 2 Trail Review by Mrs. Lord of the Chainrings

Monday, August 2, 2010


You can work up a surprising amount of sweat and upper body workout just cleaning bikes! In preparation for our cycling trip, I stripped my drivetrain on both bikes. It's easier to remove the chain and let it soak in degreaser. Ditto for the cassette. I didn't take apart my bottom bracket this round, because I did that last week. Looks like new now :)
I was hoping to go for a run today, but I can feel that my shin splint is almost healed. I don't feel like over-doing it now, especially since the next few days are going to include some hardk0re cycling. For instance, tomorrow we're hitting Porcupine Ridge in Gravenhurst. Imagine trails with large boulders, jagged rocks, exposed granite wall climbs, near vertical granite ridge drops, teeter-totters and skinny bridges spanning 10ft drops. Yes, this is going to be so much fun!! Assuming we don't kill ourselves, I'm also hoping to squeeze in a night ride at Torrance Barrens. This is nothing but a huge area of exposed Canadian Shield. It's almost like road riding, but offroad. It's a dark sky reserve so this should yield some of the most rewarding night riding EVAR! Fran's a little nervous about running into wildlife so we'll be bringing bear bells just in case. I'm more worried about a mechanical in the middle of nowhere. This trail is very hard to follow even in the daytime. Sure hope the GPS don't die on me this time! For Wednesday we're hitting Buckwallow. It's practically world famous mountain biking. It's just like Porcupine Ridge except it's toned down a few notches so your average mountain biker can handle it, but still fun. Thursday we're pre-riding the Ironman Muskoka course. I should be plenty beat up by then so I'm expecting a real slow pace.
I'm feeling a little guilty tonight. Endulged on some Chineese food last night, and then the left overs tonight. I doubt chineese food is very healthy, but it tastes sooo good. I'll just have to work it off this week!

Oh so here is my first chance to post my 'weekly training totals'. I should have done this yesteray lol

Running: 2hrs
Cycling: 6.5hrs
Swimming: 1.5hrs

Week 3 Total: 10hrs

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Roads

Slept like a baby last night. I stayed up a bit later and I think that helped me have a deeper sleep. I'm finding that I can't sleep in no matter how hard I try. I'm on vacation, I shouldn't be getting up to goto work. What's up with that? If I had to goto work it would be really hard to get out of bed but on my days off I'm up no problem. I think I'll just drink more tonight, I'm sure that will do the trick. :)

I tried to hit the bike store today to pickup some chamois cream (butt butter) but the stores were all closed. All Brantford stores have weird hours. All the heat and cycling is catching up with me, I need something to smooth out the sandpaper chamois. All the shorts I bought at the spring bike show are already worn out. :( Tried out some new roads today to mix it up a bit. I must have been going the right way because I seen more roadies on this route today than I have the entire year. Usually I'll ride around Brantford/Cambridge/Paris but today I ventured over and did a loop closer to Hamilton. I welcomed the 35km/h winds as they kept me cool and I didn't overheat. I forgot that I was going out for a good 3 hours and didn't plan for somewhere to top up my water bottles. Again, the wind was nice :) Came out slow, ended strong. Tried to get the avg speed up over 30km/h but it just wasn't going to happen with that wind today.
The best part was coming home, striping my clothes off and jumping in the pool. The pool is colder than usual due to cool nights and a ton of rainwater. Sooo refreshing. Fran made us ceasars and we layed by the pool and tanned a bit. Well I tanned, she just burned more. She must have been out there awhile already. I'm not encouraging her to ride right now as I need her as fresh as possible for this week's supa' hardk0re mountain bike riding. It's going to require a great deal of strength to negotiate these trails. She can't run either, as her knee is still recovering. I figure by the end of this week she'll be one hurtin' puppy. I hope I don't break her too bad. :) She is one tough chick!
Tomorrow is packing for the cycling trip, cleaning the drivetrains on the bikes and making sure they're mechanically sound. We're taking both road and MTB as we'll be pre-riding Ironman Muskoka. I'm also taking the bike lights in the hopes we can squeeze in an offroad night ride at Torrance Barrens. TB is a dark sky reserve so I'm expecting a ton of stars and a wicked experience riding exposed Canadian shield. You'd have to see these trails to understand. I'll get some pics.

Excuse the audio in the video. I was cruising along at 30km/h and it was windy. My first VLOG on a moving bike.... I'm hoping to replace my corporate Windows Mobile Phone with an iphone, the video from those look so much better.


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