Monday, May 30, 2011

A week of firsts

Going back 9 days to last Saturday, here's the lowdown on a bunch of firsts for the season:

-Saturday, first Cyclelogik ride of the year: it was a smaller group, on account of many of the "elite" riders racing later that afternoon in the Gatineau Grand Prix. The pace was still high, though, and I managed to hang with the lead group for the whole ride.

-Sunday, first mountain bike ride of the year: got out to Kanata Lakes for a loop, taking in Outback and other trails. (Besides, what's a trip to Kanata Lakes WITHOUT Outback). There were lots of muddy spots and standing water, but for the most part it was dry...Kanata Lakes drains pretty well. Once again I was reminded why I love these trails so much and how I've missed mountain biking for the last 7 or 8 months.

 About halfway to getting really muddy.

-Tuesday, first A loop of the year, or Gatineau challenge (whatever you want to call it). Got dropped by the lead pack on Black's, but found myself in some pretty good company in the chase group. The route this year is waaaaaaay harder than a usual loop of the park. After going under the Kingsmere bridge, the pack loops around and heads back, then makes a right to head up towards Champlain...KILLER!

-Saturday, first mountain bike ride in the park: it was a short ride, 2 hours, taking in 15 and 1. I rode trail 1 all the way down to old Chelsea and was hugely disappointed that the section from the parkway to Old Chelsea has been completely graded over. This USED TO BE a super fun section of trail, and now, well, I'm kinda still pissed about it....damn NCC. There were a fair number of bikers and hikers on the trail, and on one section of double track downhill I was pleasantly surprised by a group of hikers who all stepped OFF the trail to let me by, and were all smiles. It was a nice change from the cold stares and grumbles I typically seem to get from hikers on SHARED trails.

 Cool and foggy near the MacKenzie King estate. The foliage (yeah, I know, fancy word) in the park is REALLY green right now, and the damp air Saturday morning made it feel like I was biking in a rainforest.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fixie and gears take on tri

This post is about a ride I did 3 weeks ago. I had originally posted this a few days after said ride, but then a few days later I discovered that it never actually got posted...something to do with the whole blogger site acting up. I've tried to remember the key details, so here it goes.

I got up at some ungodly hour, and was out the door at 6:40 in the morning, to ride out to Orleans and meet up with my buddy Karl. With no traffic on the roads, I took advantage of the most direct route possible, involving roads I wouldn't normally bike on. Combined with a decent tail wind, I made it out to Orleans in less than an hour. I got to Karl's place...his kids were eating breakfast and his wife wasn't even out of bed yet, grabbed him and we were off. He was on a fixie for our ride so we wouldn't be riding at a crazy clip, but on the flats we kept an average speed around 30km/hr. He powered up short climbs without any trouble...the only limitation of his fixie were the downhills...I'd get ahead of Karl, but it didn't take him long to catch up. We continued past Cumberland, where there was a duathlon race taking place, and continued east towards Rockland. We almost made it to part of the western-most part of the Ride with Rendall Clarence-Rockland course when we turned around and headed back to Karl's. On the way back, we ended up riding with some riders who were racing in the duathlon. Up ahead, I could make out some riders on tri bikes. I was feeling a little cocky and I told Karl I could easily catch them and blow by. He told me to go ahead and he'd catch up later, but instead, I told him to get behind my wheel and in my draft. I picked up the pace, and made sure I didn't drop Karl. In the process, we passed one guy on a tri bike (complete with aero helmet!), then another guy on a tri bike, then another rider. I wanted to make sure that Karl could say he passed a tri bike on his fixie!!!

On the same ride, I broke in a new pair of gloves, some Giro Monaco LF. I'm used to Giro gloves...I've been using a pair of Bravo short gloves  for a couple of seasons.  I have to say that I'm impressed with Giro's gloves. There is no bunching or stitching that jabs into the hands, no matter the position on the bars.  Giro gloves have a fair amount of padding on the palms which may interfere with bar feel, but I'm a fan of the amount of padding, providing comfort for long ride and/or rough rides. The Monaco features a Pittard's leather palm, which provides a bit a tackiness...not a bad thing, just takes getting used to. The material on the top of the hand and fingers is lightweight enough to be worn in warmer weather. Even though I'm a fan of these gloves, it's one of those things that's purely subjective, so they may not work for everyone.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stomach of Anger. A worthy cause.

Like all cycling fans, I was shocked to learn of the passing of Weyland Wouter in the Giro. As a father myself, I was touched even further when I found out that his wife was pregnant. About a week ago, as I was perusing the web, I found a link to Stomach of Anger, which is the brainchild of a couple of guys who love cycling, and decided to start making t-shirts. As a fundraising effort for Weyland's family, they are producing a t-shirt with his Giro number, and are taking orders for the shirt until the end of the Giro. All profits will go directly to Weyland's family. Go ahead and order yours.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ride of the Damned mini re-cap

A quick re-cap of Sunday's Ride of the Damned. First, let's go back to Saturday, when it was cold and pissing rain all day. The forecast (which I was checking every hour), was calling for a relatively dry day on Sunday. YES! Bust out the road bike. I didn't even give a second thought to a back up plan in case it rained.....woke up Sunday morning and it was...cold and pissing. Fortunately, my cross bike was fendered up and ready to go, so even though my road bike is more comfortable than my cross bike, a dry ass is also very comfortable.

On arrival at Lac Leamy, there was a good sized crowd...looks like people were unfazed by the rain. I was "teamless", so I was waiting to find out who I would be riding with. Before launching, I was assigned to a West Quebec Wheelers group with John Large, Jason and Dave.
We got rolling along, and it didn't take long until the rain stopped, but it felt like we were riding in our own little rain storm with the spray being kicked up by tires.

Jump ahead to the end of the Cascades road where it merges with the 366. Dave informs the group that he's toast and is having thoughts of turning back. John said that as long as we keep him out of the wind, he'd be fine. I asked him if he'd done done a long ride the day before, and he informed me that he's working on his Master's, and so with little time to ride, his longest ride so far this year had been an hour long. Talk about baptism by fire!! Onto the gravel roads, we stuck together...the climbs took their toll on Dave but he toughed it out. We kept on trucking, on to the dam, through Low and all the way back. We ended up riding with another group consisting of a couple of Ride with Rendall riders and a few others. We made it back to Lac Leamy with all team members intact, and were greeted by Glen who promptly filled our hands with a cold beer!

Highlights for me were the gravel roads between the 366 and the Paugan dam, meeting new riders and finishing with the group we started out with.

A big thanks to the Tall Tree for once again organizing such an awesome event.

Photos by Will can be found here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lonely weekend riding

Saturday I wanted to get in a 4 hour ride, and hit up the ol' Cascades-Wakefield loop. Just me, myself and some tunes for company. Weather was great, and I had a window of opportunity that didn't take away from any domestic duties. The roads around Cascades were suprinsingly busy....probably traffic to and from the golf course.

The back road behind Cascades...a bit of a washout, but nothing serious enough to shut down the road.

At the Wakefield bridge...can't decide if I like this pic or not.

On the way back from Wakefield, other cyclists were out in droves, along the road into Wakefield and on the parkway. I also ran into Pascal and his son Felix who were out for a little spin in the park. Felix was rockin' a new Nutcase "8 Ball" helmet, which we agreed was much cooler than an "8 ball jacket" (search for bad 90's fashion trends!). I got home after putting in 115km in a touch over 4 hours, and the legs were still feeling kinda fresh...a good sign!

Going back to the start of my ride, I was listening to DJ Champion's album Chill 'Em All. This is an album I  never get tired of listening to. It's sort of housey break-beaty, with a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks. There's a good flow to the album, with enough changes in mood to keep your attention. Whenever I listen to this album, I'm reminded of the couple of times I saw DJ Champion live. His live act goes by "Champion and his G-Strings" as it is comprised of himself (on beats), plus 4 guitarists, a bassist and vocalist. Quite simply, it is one of the best live shows I have ever seen...Champion himself is full of endless energy, jumping up and down behind his laptop and getting the crowd whipped up into a frenzy. The first time I saw was a few years back at Bluesfest, where his show was above and beyond Kanye West, who performed later that night. Check the video below, which captures the energy of the live show.