Friday, April 30, 2010

A tainted win?

  Wasting time this evening, I came across a couple of good pieces ("The Taint of Suspicion" and "Amibivalence", both on red kite prayer),  about Vinokourov's win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege (old news by now). Both are extremely well written and bring up good points. The "Taint of suspicion" article does a good job of summing up why I felt a sense of disappointment when I first read that Vinokourov had won. Check out these articles out if you haven't already.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Almonte Paris Roubaix rundown

Yesterday marked one of my favourite events of the year...the OBC Paris-Roubaix cyclo-sportif (not race, but cyclo-sportif!). The mix of gravel, dirt, sand, rocks, pavement and hills are a good way to test out the early season legs and the puncture resistance of tires (this comes down to luck of the draw, mind you). It also tests the stamina of ones hands, arms, neck, back...might as well be mountain biking! The only drawback to the whole thing is the start time...8am!

After the formalities of registering, I was off to a bit of a late start, and got in about a 10 minute warm up. On top of that, my computer konked out on me. It had been acting up in the last week, but rather than change the battery and have to reset the settings, I decide to wait until after yesterday's ride. However, I think it proved to be a blessing in disguise, because it meant that I wasn't constantly looking down during the ride to see how many km's were left to go.

We got off to the traditional neutralized start, and then onto the gravel right away. I was taken aback by how loose the gravel was, making for some sketchy riding. Once I settled in, I was at the back of the pack. Damnit! Not where I wanted to be. My problem with riding in a pack, though, is that I'm not aggressive enough to try and move up closer to the front. I knew that I would need to stay close to the front in anticipation of the first wooded section, but that didn't happen, and I was still near the back.

After the first wooded section, the pack was broken up, and the group that I was in eventually swelled to about 25 riders. As we chugged along, we passed other riders at the side of the road, with flats. I saw a familiar Tall Tree kit at one point. Was that Matt off to the side? Shit, I hope not after all the work he has put in this winter with this race in mind. A little later on, hey there's Rodd.  We kept plugging along until we got to a point where some of the direction arrows were pointing right, onto a road into the woods. It was a narrow dirt road, wide enough for one car, windy, up and down. We followed the road, and after a couple of minutes, out of nowhere, Aaron Fillion comes barrelling from the opposite direction, yelling "Wrong way!! Turn around!!" Suddenly, more riders appear in pursuit, including one Ride with Rendall rider who flipped over into the woods! We all turned around, and regrouped with what was the lead pack. This put me amongst a group of extremely strong riders, ready to encounter the new addition to the course. However, I think we were all suffering as we dealt with the ups and downs and the twisty gravel turns of this new section. This proved to be my most favourite part of the course, because of the constant changes in the road.

On we went, and I kept thinking to myself "holy crap, I'm with the lead group!" As we approached the "switchback climb", I managed to inch up a few places, and had no trouble with the climb itself, but I couldn't recover afterward, and the road was so sandy that it just sapped me of my energy. Once I made my way to onto the next pavement section, I was caught by 3 other riders, including Todd from Tall Tree, and we basically rode together until we were caught by another group before the last forest section. From there to the finish the last few km's were pretty uneventful, except for Todd and I chatting as we pedaled along. 

So, another year, another Paris-Roubaix. Looking at the results, I finished 38th out of 150 finishers. That puts me in the top 25.3333333333333% (we'll just round it to 25%!), which I'm extremely happy best finish at the Roubaix (due in part to the errant arrows though, I'm sure).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Canadians represent!

I originally started this post re-capping my weekend of riding...not too exciting. But when I was checking out results on, I decided to change the topic of my blabbing to point out some notable Canadian (and even local) performances from the past weekend.

The most notable performance definitely has to be Ryder Hesjedal's second place finish at the Amstel Gold Race. 259km of racing, and out of 1st by 2 seconds (actually a large margin, considering that most of the time these races end in a group sprint). It's just downright amazing to see a Canadian place that high in one the pro spring classics.

Last weekend, we heard about the Tall Tree Team competing in the Tour of the Battenkill in New York, America's "Queen of the Classics". This past weekend was the pro race, 2 laps of the 100km circuit. Local boy Aaron Fillion finished 25th, 3'46" behind the race winner, and 1'22" behind second place finisher Floyd Landis!

On to some mountain bike action at the Sea Otter Classic. In the men's pro race, Geoff Kabush battled with Specialized riders to finish second in a sprint finish (check out his doooope bike). And in the women's pro race, Catherine Pendral came in 3rd, while Emily Batty finished a very respectable 6th (I think she's still technically U23, which makes her result all that more impressive).

My next post or two will cover my own racing exploits as I get ready for Ottawa's own classic, the Almonte Paris-Roubaix.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I think I have a problem....part two.

Last week, I went on about some of the not so hot gloves in my collection (and one good super old RNH gloves). Today, here are the rest of my gloves, for which I have nothing but praise.

Hincapie merino glove. Nice and cosy. Makes a good liner for colder days. Woven from the fibres of the mythical Merino Man Beast.

Time gloves. (Not sure what model these are.) I can rock these gloves down to about freezing. They keep out the wind, are fleecy inside, and even keep my hands dry in light rain.

Pearl Izumi Cyclone. Another great cool weather glove. Much like the Time's above, I can wear these down to about freezing. The nice thing with these is they have lots of padding for longer and rougher rides. The only downside is they don't offer much protection in medium to heavy rains.

Pearl Izumi AmFib Lobster Mitt (updated to the Barrier Lobster Mitt). My go to winter mitt. I've worn these for 3 winters now. They're starting to pack out a bit, which means in colder weather (minus 10 and below), I need to wear a liner with them. Otherwise, I love these mitts. On top of that, they easily allow me to do the Spock "live long and prosper".

Sugoi RS full glove. Nice light weight glove with just the right amount of padding in the palm. I've worn these for 2 seasons, and are now starting to show signs of wear. The other thing I love about these is no velcro tabs. Just pull 'em on and go!

Giro Bravo glove. Giro is relatively new in the glove game, but I love these gloves. Generous padding in the palm, you can't feel any of the stitching, and a nice soft snot wipe thumb. These gloves and the above Sugois are pretty much my go to gloves during bike season.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the rest of my collection of cycling gloves. And be assured that I'll be getting more gloves this year, whether I need them or not!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First "race" of the year

Today I raced, er, rode, in the inaugural Ride with Rendall Clarence-Rockland Classic, my um, first real "high intensity ride" of the year. My prep started last night, humming and hawing forever about what to wear...the forecast was saying 5 degrees around the start of the race, but warming up to a high of 13. Jeez, what to wear?!?!?!?! I pulled out a bunch of stuff and figured I'd decide in the morning.

Morning rolled around and I still couldn't decide what to wear. I won't bore you with the details of what I actually did wear, but it turned out to work well.

Once I had all that crap sorted out, OBR came by to pick me up and we were off to make it for the 10 o'clock start time...a nice start time that meant I didn't have to get up at an un-godly hour.

So plan for this race, if you could call it a plan, was to hold on to the lead pack for as long as possible. Simple, right? Seeing as how I haven't done much top-end work this year, I figured that would be reasonable, so whether I hung for 1km or the whole 85kms, I would have met my goal. (Yeah, it's more of a cop out than anything else, but hey, it's only April!) 

I held on until about the 19km mark, when the course turned onto a stretch of chunky, loose gravel, and slowed me right down. I was already at the back of the lead pack at this point in time, and I wasn't gonna kill myself trying to hang on, so I sat up and took it easy.

Not much time passed and a group of 3 passed me, but I decided joining them would be too much work, so I waited for the next group, which was about 10 strong, and soon after we caught the group of 3. Our group eventually swelled to about 20, picking up people who had been dropped from the main pack. I was feeling pretty good, until about the 60km mark....

And then I was struck with a severe case of leg cramps, to the point where I got off my bike and tried to stretch out and massage my legs. I got back on my bike as soon as I could, since spinning the legs would be better for them than standing around. What followed was a 27km solo ride to the finish. Not much to talk about for the rest of the ride, unless you want to hear about me complaining about my legs cramping up (excuses, excuses) and the wicked head wind.

Crossing the finish, I came to a stop, which was about the worst thing I could do for my legs. They decided to straighten out like stiff more spinning to work out the cramps.

The course wasn't as hilly as I was anticipating, but certainly rougher than expected. I felt like I just ridden a mountain bike race. I was using my road bike, with a 28 tire up front and a 25 in the back. A little softer pressure in the front may have eased things *a bit*, but probably not.

For a first time event, I would have to say the organization was great. Use of the hall for registration and lunch afterwards was a good idea, and it was nice to have lunch included...the little chocolate cakes were good but the pasta did leave a bit to be desired. 

When I checked the results, I was 50th out of 118 finishers. Alright for the first race of the season, considering I hadn't really prepped at all for it, and road racing is not my strength at all. So now I have two weeks to get ready for the Almonte Paris-Roubaix.  Let's see what happens..... 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I think I have a problem...(part 1)

Yes, it's a bike related problem. No, it's not that I own too many bikes. Compared to some of my riding buddies, my fleet (4 bikes) pales in comparison. No, it's a bit of an obsession, a quest for the perfect pair. Some might call it a fetish. I'm not so sure about that, but, I own a ton of gloves. I'm sure that there are others out there who have way more than I do, but 12 pairs of gloves might be a bit of overkill. So, with a bit of time to kill, I'm gonna do mini reviews on my whole collection....

 The Collection.

 First I'm gonna start with the not so good in my collection, the pairs that aren't really that great and don't get that much use. (Note: A lot of the gloves are at least a few years old, so model names might not be correct).

Sugoi Firewall(?) Glove. I got this glove about 4 years ago hoping it would provide warmth, rain and wind protection for cold commutes. Problem is I ordered them without trying them out first. What I ended up with was something that provides about as much protection as a wet newspaper. I believe this glove has been updated by Sugoi and is much better now.

 Pearl Izumi Zephyrr Shell glove. I bought these for the same reason as the above Sugoi gloves. The result in rainy weather? Might as well just dunk my hands in a bucket of ice water. Absolutely ZERO seam sealing, so these things only provide wind resistance, that's it.

I used to LOVE Specialized gloves.  I'm not so crazy about them anymore...I find the body geometry padding on the palm to be a little annoying, This pair must be almost 8 years old. They fit well, but they're a little too thick for warm days. I now just use these for commuting.

Specialized Ridge Glove.  Nice lightweight full fingered glove. The velcro tabs don't stick anymore, and again, the body geometry pad on the palm gets annoying after awhile, but otherwise, not a bad glove. Gets used for commuting.

Pearl Izumi (unknown model...maybe the select or elite). These gloves have lots of nice features...lightweight lycra back, just the right amount of padding, a fuzzy thumb for wiping snot and a nice fit. Unfortunately, there's a lot of stitching in a lot of places that digs into my hand and gets more painful the longer the ride. These don't get used a whole lot at all.

 RNH full finger gloves. I've had these guys for ages. They get used mostly on cooler days, and mostly for commuting. Just the right amount of padding in the palm, soft thumb for snot, and bombproof. What more could you ask for?

Since reading a single post on over 10 pairs of gloves would get a little, oh I don't know, a little like reading reviews over and over on garden sheds (I only use garden sheds as an example 'cause that's exactly what I've been looking at on the Canadian Tire website), I'm gonna hit you back some time later with my ramblings on the rest of my glove collection. Betcha can't wait!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

1 lousy picture?!?!?!?!?

Got out for 3 rides this long weekend, totalling 8 hours and 235kms, and what do have to show for it?!?!?!? One lousy picture!!!!
You'd have no idea from my crappy pic that there were 10 riders in front of me.

Actually, I got two more pics, but they're just as bad as the first so I'm not gonna even put them up. But how about this one:

 Everyone love pics of babies, right? Here's Lil' D just before I headed off Friday morning.

I FINALLY got out for a group ride on Friday. The plans were for a 170 km ride, but I knew I wouldn't be able to pull this off without having my head served to me on a plattter by my loving wife, so I knew from the get go I'd be in for a shorter ride. Shorter, however, still meant a 120km day, capped off with the last 40km being a time trial home so I wouldn't be TOO late. I hammered my way home, and within 35 minutes, I ran out of water. That left me with 45 minutes to go without water, and temps steadily increasing. Things were going ok, until I was about 15 mins out from home, I then I started to fade BIG TIME. I had a hard enough time keeping the pedals going, and the wind, which was strong and hot, was demoralizing. Add to that a feeling aof nausea, and I started to wonder if I was coming down with heat exhaustion. The only good thing was that when I got home, I looked like such a pile of crap that the wife took pity on me.

Also, on Friday I was excited to sport the new kit from Bushtukah. The new design is much better than the old one (IMO), and received a few compliments from others in the group. The other good thing is I can FINALLY ditch the two, stretched out, falling apart jerseys that I've been wearing for the past 4 seasons.

Out with the old..... with the new!