Sunday, June 29, 2008

Interesting Article - Prosthetic "Advantages"

This is an interesting article...

I agree with a lot of the things Hugh Herr says.  I used to get a lot of "Good for you for being out here!"  Over the years, as I have gotten faster, there is quite a bit more, "Wow, that leg is really amazing!  It gives you so much spring!"

It is interesting to note the contrast...  These days people seem more likely to look to the equipment as the reason for my ability (even though it (my running leg) has been the same all along.)  I think it is easier to swallow being beaten by 'technology' than by another athlete....

In the end, these debates about "advantages", and these subtle differences in what other people say or think, would only matter if I was racing for something other than the enjoyment of feeling my heart pound and my muscles ache....  If people think I have an advantage that's OK with me - I've obviously done something right!


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Mitsubishi City Chase - CBC TOMORROW!


I thought I'd remind you all to watch the Mitsubishi City Chase on CBC (Channel 3) tomorrow at 8:30pm.  Mark and I will be one of the featured teams in the first two episodes.

Episode 1:  Monday June 30, 8:30pm
Episode 2: Monday July 7, 8:30pm

Both shows will be available online the day after they air on CBC.  I will post a link to them (as long as I am not too embarrassed by the show!)

We had a blast at this race - you can read my Race Report HERE.  If you would like to see the promotional trailer CBC has been using for the last month or so check HERE.

Have a great weekend!


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Saturday, June 28, 2008

5 Peaks Trail Run - Trip Report

Our mini-camping trip was super-awesome!  I will say it is a lot of effort for one night though - next time we go for two...

Our trip out to Golden Ears was uneventful.  Other than hanging out and laughing there wasn't much to report.  

There was one eerie moment when we drove past a liquor store and I said to Kev, "Should we get some beer?"

His response, "Nah... well, if you want to..."

Me, "Nah, let's skip it."

Later on we would remark how stupid it is to camp without beer.  Certain things go hand in hand:  Needle and Thread, Hammer and Nail, Camping and Beer.  After the kids went to bed we just kind of looked at each other and there was little to do....  so we threw an axe at a tree and tried to make it stick.  (Granted this is a better activity when beer is NOT present...)

But let's rewind....  the afternoon and evening were great.  We hung out at the beach on Alouette Lake (where many of the pictures were taken).  Debbie showed up and Kevin went for a 45 minute swim with her before dinner while I made a fire and got food together.  Somehow we undershopped and barely managed to put together two meals for 6.  In the end it worked out though and we filled our tummies quite well with BBQ'ed chicken burgers and Hot Dogs for the kids. 

Photo evidence that a "surf shirt" bought in Hawaii can also be useful at home... I had my doubts.

After dinner we made s'mores and the kids went bananas for a couple of hours.  Bedtime arrived and they went down surprisingly well - there were a few dramatic, teary moments right before sleep hit for Aia - classic overtiredness - but she conked out in the van like a camping veteran.  Again, my pride for the van is at an all time high....  mere weeks after playing a key role in ushering Viggo into the world, there it was again - this time providing shelter and comfort for Aia.  Damn, I love that van!

Mattias' next marshmallow already on deck...

This is the sweet face I woke up to beside me...

These guys were out cold - needed to be woken up!

Race morning came early and Kevin and I got up to prepare breakfast while the kids slept.  We had a pretty tight schedule to pack up and mobilize the kids in time for package pick-up and the start of the kids race.  I ate a bowl of cereal that Deb kindly provided before leaving the night before... Our food shortage dictated that one bowl would have to suffice.  The kettle we brought (and had intended to plug into my van) did not work so there was no coffee.  Kevin showed the strength of his caffeine addiction by spooning two tablespoons of coffee grounds into his mouth and swallowing it down.  Hardcore.  I declined.

Good morning Aia!

We arrived at the Start/Finish area with plenty of time to get the kids squared away with numbers, timing chips etc.  The mini-athletes were showing no signs of stress (though Mattias was complaining endlessly about a kink in his neck...  I forgot to give him a pillow...  oops.)

The crew - hydrating pre-race.

The gun went off at 8:30am and they were off like a shot.  They were scheduled to run 1km.  I hope it was measured correctly because Mattias should be quite proud of his 3:54...  I know lots of adults that would struggle to run it that fast.  All three boys ran well and were happy with their efforts.  Aia cheered extremely loudly and met her brother with a huge hug...  I think he was a bit embarrassed and I wish that stage wasn't starting...

This is the start of the kids race.  Mattias near the right side, Aia and I cheering at right.

Kevin and I started our race at 9am.  It was 8.4 km of trail.  The course climbed steadily for about 6km and then descended sharply for about 2km to the start/finish area.  We started relatively slowly since we were jammed in with about 450 other people (Sport Course and Enduro Course racers).  The narrow trails made passing a bit difficult at times but they started us in 3 waves and that helped a bit.

The day ended up being very hot (33 celsius), and I could definitely feel the sweat building in my leg as I ran.  It was going really well though.  Once the traffic thinned out I could run at my own pace and was passing a lot of runners.  I felt pretty good.  The trail featured many creek crossings which were fun and lots of mud pit leaps....

Trail running is a real effort in concentration for me.  I need to put the left "foot" down on solid ground or I will eat it for sure.  I can't just relax and trust it...

The downhill was a lot of fun and I quickly got the hang of "letting it go" and was able to throw caution to the wind a bit more.

Final time: 44:13.  I came 30 out of 210 (Overall - Sport Course), and 9 out of 33 in the 30-39 Age Group.  I was pretty pleased with the run and and really enjoyed the trail.  I am looking forward to the Mt. Seymour 5 Peaks race in July.  If you are looking to have a great time with your kids, and challenge yourself - this is a great way to go!  I was really impressed with this race and the 5 Peaks Series organizer, Kathryn.

After the race Debbie and I did a 45 minute swim in Alouette Lake which was GREAT.  The weather was so hot and I was so sweaty from the run.  The cold water was just what the doctor ordered.

The trip ended with a stop at White Spot for Pirate Paks.  Kevin and I indulged our hungry stomachs with a couple of burgers.  Good times at the Spot!

Great weekend and it's not even over yet!

Sorry this went so long - thanks for tuning in!

I love my van.

Comfort and style...

The Westfalia - in its element.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coming up: 5 Peaks Trail Run (Golden Ears Park)


I just spent about an hour cleaning out my van in preparation for a camping/race trip. There are few things I enjoy more than camping at (or near) a race venue and getting up to toe the line.  The fantasy of taking a summer and travelling from race to race in my Westfalia has never really died.  How sweet would that be? One day I am going to string together a few races in a road/race trip of some magnitude - alas, a whole summer may be a bit ambitious at this stage in my life.

This weekend the event is the 5 Peaks Trail Race in Golden Ears Park.

Although the plan isn't quite the same as in the fantasy, it should still be pretty awesome. I am bringing Mattias and Aia, and we will be joined by Kevin and his boys at a campground just a minute or two from the race start/finish line.  Debbie (a friend from I.F. and Masters) will help us with the kids while we race.

Getting the logistics down for this weekend's events has been a challenge - Deb stepped in to save the day by offering to help with the kid-minding. She has some big open water swim goals for this summer so we are going to "pay" her by doing a couple of good long open water swims with her in Alouette Lake (one on Friday afternoon and one after the races on Saturday.)

The training/racing component of the trip looks like this:

Friday Afternoon: Kevin and I rock/paper/scissors for who swims with Debbie while the other one plays PowerRangers or Dora with the kids.

Saturday AM: Mattias, Ethan and Carter will be locking horns in a winner takes all kids 1km trail race on Saturday morning (escorted by Kevin and I). Debbie will babysit Aia while we are on the trail.  (Note:  Aia has been asked if she would like to run and has declined - she has stated that she will begin running when she is "old like Mattias".)

Saturday AM: Kevin and I will race the 5 Peaks Trail Race Sport Course (~8.4 km). Deb will hang with the kids.  Our 'plan' is to just take it relatively easy...  we'll see how that goes.  I don't think either of us will enjoy being left behind...

Saturday Noon:  Practice post race fueling strategies at the post-race BBQ....  sweet!  The words "Post Race BBQ" are like music to my ears...

Saturday PM: Another open water swim - this time the guy who missed the swim on friday gets to take to the water with a belly full of burger...

The rest of the weekend will be filled with campfires, more BBQs, playing with the kids... maybe a beer or two. Nothing but good times! 

Check out the sweet video of the trail we will be running on HERE.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Epic Roller Ski

Regular readers will recall Tony's plan for us to ski up Cypress Mountain.  Roller ski that is...  Our first ascent (last week) was rescheduled due to wet conditions.  We tackled the mountain for the first time last night.

I had been looking forward to the climb all day...  there is something quite spectacular about climbing a mountain.  Whether by foot, by bike or by roller ski - if you climb from the base to the top you have something to be proud of....  that's what's cool about mountains.

Given the magnitude of this training session compared to others (on the track in burnaby) I should have prepared A LOT better.

I arrived right on time - which for me is 15 minutes too late...  I had to do a few leg adjustments with wrenches and vice grips, switch out some bolts, tighten it all up again, get water in my water bottle, find my reflective vest, grab a gel etc. etc.  all while others were waiting.  So, of course I rushed it....  Couldn't find the little wedge that puts my leg at the right angle for skiing (skip it - no time to search more), rushed the tightening of the bolts and didn't have the best tools for it anyway (would have killed for a deep socket set...)

Anyway, eventually I joined the group and we started out from the Works Yard at the 2km mark.  I felt pretty good right off the bat - the roller skis feel solid going against a slight incline - control is easy and the resistance is manageable when the slope is tame.

As the incline steepened the work got harder (obviously), but I found I was really able to tweak my technique a lot because of the long duration.  The climb up to the viewpoint went really well.  I was treating it kind of like intervals, going at a good clip for 150 metres, then resting, then going again, then resting....  it worked perfectly with the pace of some of the other skiers.

At the viewpoint I had to stop and take off my leg to release a lot of sweat....  it was warm out and the heavy leg work had caused a lot of sweat in my liner.  After the viewpoint I continued up the mountain but began to have some issues.  All of a sudden balance was difficult.  I felt extra wobbly....

Eventually I figured out that the two bolts in my leg (pictured in this post) had come loose...  I had no tools to fix it and there was really nothing I could do about it.  I tried to continue a few times but the loose-ness was irritating (and wipeout inducing on two occasions)....  I was beyond frustrated.

Let me take this moment to explain...  I work really hard to 'overcome' my amputation.  I NEVER have "poor me" moments.... ever.  I truly don't.  But I can tell you I get WAY frustrated and quite overly pissed when my prosthetic lets me down.  That was how I felt at that moment.  Luckily my little "frustration-spazz" occurred in a solitary moment on the winding road... 

Looking back shortly afterward I realised my reaction was a bit over the top...    I only had myself to blame - I rushed the awkward bolt-tightening process at the bottom of the mountain.  I didn't have the perfect tools for the job and it showed in the result.

Lesson learned.  Ultimately, I made it to about the 11 km mark (I still had 2km to go)...  I felt that the session was awesome - so good for technique and also for mental strength.  I will never need to climb a hill like this while racing - all hills will look a bit smaller from now on because of that.  

The technique and mental strength are key BUT by far the biggest lesson learnt was - BE PREPARED.  Take the time to be dialed-in perfectly.  Don't rush.  Have the perfect tools.  If your tools are second rate (whether they are skis or wrenches) your performance is likely to follow suit.  If your preparation is second rate you haven't a hope in hell.

In the end this is why you train - to figure these things out.  I will take care of it....  

Andrea - (a guide for visually impaired skiers)

Our group - Courtney, Tony, Andrea and Cathy

I woke up this morning with VERY tired shoulders from the long ski, and mildly achy legs.  Miraculously I managed to summon the effort required to get myself to Masters.  Mischa had a great swim workout on the agenda and I felt awesome afterward.

This afternoon I went out for a quick 90 minute blast on the bike with James.  We rode pretty hard at times, but the purpose of the ride was mostly to enjoy the sun and put 90 minutes down - (ass-climatisation I call it.)  I feel the main challenge I face at STP is the comfort of 7,8,9,10 hours or so in the saddle....  so every minute counts!

OF NOTE:  We were not alone on the mountain - there were cyclists, mountain bikers, limousines, tourists and about 50 skateboarders. Not the normal skateboarders you might see "shredding" on a curb or handrail downtown.... these guys (and girls) looked like fighter pilots and that's probably because they go almost as fast!  Maybe reaching speeds of about 80km/h (that's a guess...). Check out some pictures I found of these skateboard speed racers!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One word - Jealous.

This is Chris Lieto's sweet van....  for some reason I have a van affliction.  This may be the coolest one I have ever seen.

P.S.  For those who don't know, Chris Lieto is a professional triathlete - a very good one....  he is definitely one of the top 5 or 10 ironman athletes.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dead Legs - Triple Crown (Well 2.5 Crowns anyway...)

Kevin and I were on the road before 7 this morning....  even so we couldn't manage the entire Triple Crown in 4 hours.

- We rode east along Marine Drive, the low roads and Mt. Seymour Parkway out to Mt. Seymour
- We climbed Mt. Seymour
- back down
- Then we rode west along MSP, up the steep hill on Keith Road, then up Lonsdale
- over to Edgemont Village, then over to Capilano Road
- up to Grouse Mt.
- back down
- along the Upper Levels to Cypress Mt.
- up to the Viewpoint
- back down
- along Upper Levels to exit 4
- back down the hill to home

Kevin had to bail after Seymour and Grouse to go home....  I had enough time to get up to the viewpoint on Cypress then had to turn it around.  Tough ride....  all hills and probably about 80km.

Seymour is the hardest (in my opinion) - seems steeper than Cypress.  Grouse is the steepest at the end but also the shortest.  Cypress is tough because of the long straight road (and it was last!)  We almost froze riding through the clouds on Seymour and especially descending....  I would guess 3 or 4 degrees at 8:20 this morning.

Don't know how well this will show up...  Peak at left = Cypress, Middle = Grouse, Right = Seymour.  Not sure about the little one third from the left...

Yours truly...  Post-ride.

This afternoon we rented a boat at Sewell's in Horseshoe Bay and went for a little cruise down to Pt. Atkinson (Lighthouse Park) and back.  It was so awesome....  the sun was out and we had a blast.  Viggo slept the whole way, Mattias and Aia were able hands and Sacha handled the food and the camera while I captained the vessel.  I'm sure there are many awesome reasons to own a boat but this is about as close as I am likely to get....  $68 + $7.25 insurance.  That's my kind of boat ownership...


Skipper too...

Ginger and Mary-Anne

Good times on the S.S. Minnow

I will sleep well tonight!

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cooking Post (these are rare...)

I suppose I should try to make a habit of cooking more often.  Maybe even often enough that I don't feel the need to document the occasion with a blog post.  Well, today it wasn't just that I cooked, it was the awesome result of the cooking act that inspired this rare culinary submission.  I could title the post "Fueling" if I wanted to make it fit better with my usual sport-related subject matter, but that would be a stretch...  instead this post will stand alone (for now) as an oddity.  Don't worry Sacha - I will try to give it some company...

Anyway, today was a rest day... spent hanging out with Sacha and the kids.  It culminated with a great team-cooking effort.  Check this out:

Beer Can Chicken with Potato Salad and Heirloom Tomato Salad

The beer can chicken was my project for tonight...  If you haven't already, I highly recommend you try this BBQ classic.  For those that have never heard of it - there is a half a can of Stella Artois jammed up inside the chicken during cooking (not visible in these photos...) - the can bubbles away keeping the chicken super-moist and extra yummy.

Before - With the BBQ rub in place and the 1/2 full beer can inside...

After - Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside...  sitting up this way, all of the grease runs off which is nice.

Voila...  mighty tasty with Sacha's Potato and radish salad and Heirloom tomatoes.  Add a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and you've got yourself a pretty fine meal.

Apart from the obvious dramatic appeal of this meal, the leftover chicken (enough for a few sandwiches) is pretty awesome.

In other news...  Tomorrow is a big riding day.  Kevin and I are going to tackle the Triple Crown - Seymour, Grouse and Cypress.  I expect it to be horrendously grueling...  Kevin, being a featherweight (and a hard-training cyclist), will glide up the hills - leaving me to grind my way up....  but this work has to be done.  Reminds me - I was supposed to roller ski up Cypress on Thursday - the session was postponed or you would have certainly heard all about it by now!

Jumping around a bit in this post...  Friday morning was my only Masters Session this week.  Viggo hasn't been sleeping too well and 5:20am is hard enough when I have a good sleep!  The workout went well...  sometimes a few days off helps a lot with the swimming - too many more though and I will start to slip.  

Friday afternoon featured another hardcore tready session with Rob at IF.  We are killing it on the treadmill these days.  This time we threw down:

- 10 x 2 minutes @ level 10 (1 incline)
- with a variety of exercises between each interval (some tough, some easy)

On the treadmill in my new yellow and blue workout gear.

Ha ha... I crack myself up...  The 10 two minute intervals were definitely tougher than the week before (15 x 1 minute with incline increasing).  We are creeping towards failure - but haven't reached it yet!  This progression will definitely result in one of us throwing in the towel eventually (I just hope it is him before me!)  In the meantime it is good to know that at least once a week there is going to be an intense physical and mental test.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Thursday, June 19, 2008



Warning: This post contains stuff that only a real nerd would care about.

Titanium (pronounced /taɪˈteɪniəm/) is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It is a light, strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant (including to sea water and chlorine) transition metal with a grayish color. - Wikipedia

I have always wanted to find titanium nuts, bolts and washers for my leg. I had asked around but never really applied myself to the task of finding them.... Until today.

It didn't take long. Pacific Fasteners - Burnaby, BC. These guys had a full range of titanium goodies... they also know how to make a buck, but I can't begrudge them the right to make obscene profits when they are the only guys anywhere who have the right stuff.

Pacific Fasteners warehouse

This is what $111.13 of Titanium bolts, nuts and washers looks like. Steep, I know... but this should be a lifetime supply. AND, how priceless is it to know that components of my leg not only have the highest strength-to-weight ratio of ANY metal, but also come with their own ATOMIC NUMBER?! That is particularly cool.... 22 baby!

The final crowning glory is that each nut, bolt and washer is individually stamped (no, let's say 'engraved') with the symbol 'Ti'.

Engraved - just like silver, gold or platinum (and almost as expensive!)

Titanium leg candy - stealthy matte carbon in colour

Welcome to nerd-city, population 1.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Odds and Ends

This post is going to be a bit of a grab bag of odds and ends....  the good news is I found my camera so I took a few pictures this afternoon!  No more stealing photos off the internet (and searching for my camera...)

Dryland Training

I don't think I have posted on dryland training yet.  Why is it called "Dryland" training I can imagine many of you asking?  I'm not sure...  I suppose it is to highlight the contrast between the relative moisture of snow and the supposed dryness of land (the inventor of the term "dryland" clearly not a Vancouver resident...)

Anyway, the sessions occur every Tuesday and Thursday night - normally at a track in Burnaby.  We have been using a variety of ski training aids designed to improve our technique - CatSkis, Skikes and Roller Skis.  The sessions are almost 100% technique and I suppose that is best since technique is where I need to improve the most in skiing.

Our sessions include anywhere from 2 - 6 skiers and Tony (our coach).  We nerd it up pretty seriously with our helmets and wild equipment at the track.  The sessions are a bit challenging mentally, given that I hate driving across the city at rush hour... but they always end up being worth it and I can tell they are helping.

Here is a video breakdown of the stuff we do (I am working on getting some of my own video but for now this is courtesy of YouTube):

This video shows the CatSkis in action - I would categorize the CatSkis as my least favourite dryland tool.

OK, this guy is using the Skikes (he is pretty awesome on them...)  I enjoy the skikes - they resemble big offroad rollerblades.

These are Roller Skis - my favourite.  They seem to provide the best replication of real skiing.

Tony delivered my brand new set of Roller Skis today...  very exciting!  I plan to spend a lot of time on them over the summer so it was great to get out on them tonight.  I had a total of two wipeouts - one was low speed and a bit lame, the other was faster and more painful as it occurred on tarmac.  No damage done however other than a couple of bruises and I think I have the hang of it now....

These are my new roller skis - they are pretty sweet - even if I did eat it a couple times tonight...

Thursday we are scheduled to ski up Cypress on the roller skis... Yes, you read that correctly.  Tony assures me this is possible...  it sounds rather difficult, but I am so psyched to be able to tell people that "I roller skied up Cypress"!  Nobody will believe it!

Tony looking relaxed as he demonstrates perfect form on the roller skis.

Tony and Andrea (one of the guides for our blind skiers) after tonight's session.

New Bike

With all of the cycling training I am doing now it was a bit crazy to do it all on my triathlon bike.  The geometry makes it a bit more difficult to climb, plus the position is a bit aggressive when you want to ride for 2,3,4 or 5 hours.  Today I add this bad boy Specialized Tarmac to the quiver courtesy of Stephen at the Bike Gallery.  It is pictured here with my Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheelset mostly because I liked the racy look they add to the set-up.  I should probably roll the training wheels (shimanos) but I've never been good at leaving the nice stuff at home....  Thanks very much Stephen!

Viggo: Photo Update (yes I found my camera - so here are some shots)

He is doing well and is really waking up to the world in the last week or so...  Mattias and Aia continue to be the greatest big brother and sister a kid could hope for.  

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day & CDN Century

In cycling parlance a "century" is a 100 mile ride.  

Since we do not partake in the absurdities of the Imperial system here in Canada, I have deemed today's ride to be a century.  It was 1oo km and a total blast.  I am feeling pretty good on the bike, and feeling pretty good to be out doing the work I need to do.

Kevin picked me up at 6:45am and we were on the road at about 7.  We headed:

- through West Van
- across the Lion's Gate
- through Stanley Park
- through English Bay
- over the Burrard Bridge
- out to Spanish Banks and up to UBC
- out along SW Marine Drive to the Arthur Laing Bridge
- over to Richmond
- out along #2 Road, then the Steveston Hwy to Starbucks in Steveston and a coffee/fueling break.

At our break I scarfed down some garlic potatoes Sacha cooked for dinner last night - WOW - best cycling food ever!  Bite size and super yummy and packed with carbs...  Definitely a batch of these coming with us for STP.

Then we rode back.  Total ride time:  4 hours.  Total time riding: 3:30.

We had to circle the final block one extra time to hit the 100km mark but we couldn't leave it at 99...

The day's plan was to meet the family at Dundarave Beach immediately post-ride (11:00) - and meet me they did with a full picnic and father's day gifts!  It is quite a welcome sight to see your wife carrying a basket full of food immediately after a long ride - one I could certainly get used to!  The basket even included important post-ride favourites such as chocolate milk and marshmallow bananas... yeah!  Father's Day rocks!

We hung out and ate in the sun down at the beach.  It was totally mellow and lots of fun - plus, I managed to get a weird cycling shorts sunburn which is so rad because it means the sun was out!

We rounded out the day with a Father's Day BBQ at our house.  My dad and my father-in-law, Gary and I were the guests of honour.  Sacha made awesome gourmet burgers.

Speaking of burgers - Michael Rasmussen (below) of Tour De France infamy could use some.  And speaking of bad cycling tans - wow... mine is pretty tame compared to this.  Spend much time on the bike Mike?

Finally, a Happy Birthday to my dad.  At the time of writing he is one day shy of 60...  He definitely doesn't look a day over 50 though.  

His gift from our family and my sister Rian was a sweet Specialized Globe Sport bike from the Bike Gallery.  It is cool with a matte black paint job and wicked disc brakes.  I hope he will enjoy it...  We will hit the roads together soon!

The 'Dad rig'.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Cypress Hill Climb

Don't they say that the sun is a massive ball of gases or something like that?  You can bet that the person who studied the sun enough to figure that out did not hail from our fair city.

As wonderful and high-ranking on 'livability' indexes as Vancouver is, it sure does rain a lot here.  Rain and cycling go together about as well as pineapple and milk....  mmmm.  blechhhh!

So, when I peered out of my rain shelter (home) this morning and saw a blue sky I immediately put on three or four tight-fitting spandex items and a jaunty cycling cap for good measure.  I have had a hankering for a tough ride ever since I came up with the STP plan (see previous post).

I decided on the Cypress Hill Climb.  I don't believe there is a more iconic Vancouver ride than this one, so I thought it appropriate given my level of excitement.

Cypress Bowl Road is 15km in length (though I started at the City Works Yard which is at km 2).  So then, 13km of 5% average grade, rising in altitude from 255 metres to 916 metres (2200 approx. feet of climbing).  It is also located only a few kilometres from my house so it is very handy.

The road was deserted today (as it often is) and I began toiling up the mountain.  This climb doesn't put you into the red zone (unless you put yourself into the red zone by gunning it) but it is pretty steady and relentless.  I was kind of grinding away - not too fast, but that's why I went there - to get faster!

The Lookout is the first landmark on the climb - a couple of km into the ride

I find the looooong straits on Cypress a bit mind-numbing and mentally challenging but I kept telling myself, "You think this is long?  Wait till you have 300k ahead of you in 1 month!"

Anyway, I eventually reached the top.  I was pretty warm from the effort but felt good.  The satisfaction of climbing a mountain on a bike is undeniable...  riding through the clouds, mist in the air and snow beside the road.  The exertion becomes therapeutic once you give in to it.  I highly recommend it - especially solo (being dropped, or dropping someone spoils the zen moment I find.)

The Ticket Booth - the end of the ride....  usually a welcome sight...

Zip up the jersey and point the front wheel downhill - this is the fun part!  I peaked out at around 75 km/h today - the wind was a bit gusty and made my life flash before my eyes once.  I also rode right past a black bear - which was pretty cool.

All in all, bottom to top and top to bottom again - around 1:05:00.  

I will be spending some serious time on this road during the next month - hopefully bringing that number down significantly.


Later in the day Rob (from Innovative Fitness) unveiled a 'Warrior Workout' adaptation called "Pick your Poison".

It involved:

- 15 x 1 minute tready intervals @ 10 mph.  
- 3 x 1% incline, 3 x 2%, 3 x 3%, 3 x 4% and 3 x 5%.
- Between each interval we had to choose an exercise from a list on the greaseboard - had to do each one once and couldn't do any one exercise more than 3 times.

It was pretty gnarly by the time we got into the 5% intervals.  Luckily we had saved up the easiest exercise (30 band rotations per arm) to do in between the 3 hardest running sets.

GREAT workout and very proud to pull it off after Cypress a few hours earlier.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Seattle to Portland - The Plan

The next big thing on my calendar is the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic - better known as STP.  July 12.

The Event

Riders can tackle the 320 km route in 1 or 2 days.  I plan to get it over with on day 1.  It's an ambitious plan as I will need to spend much of the next month in the saddle to harden my @$$ up in preparation for the LONG ride.

The Plan

I was mulling over who to ride it with, as company is key - not just for enjoyment but for drafting (sharing the work of cutting the wind.)  It was that moment that I came up with an idea...

I wanted to find a way to make this experience different and cool - not that riding 320km isn't cool all by itself, but I was looking for something to get really excited about.

I decided to ask my friend Brian to do the ride with me.  The problem with Brian is I know that he'll be drafting off me the whole way....

Introduction:  Brian Cowie

Brian and I met through Tony as we were both receiving coaching in Nordic Skiing this winter from him.  Brian is a visually impaired Canadian National Team Cyclist.  He has been to two (or maybe three) Paralympics and has done Ironman several times.  Most recently he and I competed together at the Triathlon World Championships (last weekend) where Brian and his partner Ian would have won the blind division by a long, long way had he not encountered an unfixable mechanical issue with his tandem.

So that is how I have found myself 'piloting' a tandem for 320km in a month's time.  I am so pumped.

Brian's rig is pretty sweet - he's got all the good stuff:  disc wheel, matching aero-helmets with visors, radios so we can talk easily...  These things are fast - two riders provide a lot of extra power so I expect us to be averaging over 40km/h on flats.  Apparently hills are a bit tough and handling takes some getting used to but we will get some training in...  

We will look a bit like this, the differences being that we will have sweet matching uniforms and Brian is not female...

The Purpose

At first this was just a fun idea.  Brian said to me, "Why don't you make this a Momentum event?"  It was pretty obvious, but I hadn't thought of it.  So, that is what we decided to do...

I have already got Innovative Fitness on board to sponsor us to help with some costs, and Atac Sportswear has sponsored us by agreeing to produce some sweet Momentum race kits for the event.  We are actively seeking more sponsors and media coverage.

This will be the first event of any sort that we have done under the auspices of the foundation and I think it is perfect - an amputee and a blind athlete teaming up to tackle a big challenge.  Hopefully our efforts will help raise some money to pave the way for others to follow in our footsteps as athletes with disabilities.

I had thought about planning a more formal 'launch' and it may still happen, but why not just get to work I say...

Want to get involved?

If any of you would like to be involved in this effort, help with some of the logistics, fundraising, media or sponsorship I'd LOVE to hear from you.  You can e-mail me or fill out the comment form on the right of this page.  If you have an idea for us or a connection, or even if you just let your friends know we'd be pumped!

Thanks for reading!

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