Saturday, June 28, 2008

Early AM ride with the Bears

This morning I rose early to ride in the cooler morning air of the mountains. It had been several weeks since I last rode at The Woodlot so it was nice to ride on my home turf.

Upon arrival in the parking area I was not too pleased with what I found. There had been a bit of vandalism and partying in the area and there was a mess of beer cans, a fire and a broken tree that all needed to be addressed. So before my ride I cleaned up the mess.

A little pre-ride cleanup.

Once I was climbing I notices that the raspberries that line the climb low on the mountain were now starting to ripen. This means only one thing........bears. Lately I have been riding with a bear bell on my bike and a nice big can of pepper spray. Hopefully the bell does its job during my rides and I never need to use the spray.

I was on my Rune today with my heavy duty wheels and big DH tires. I am thinking of racing the Rune again in the Bear Mountain DH race in few weeks, so a few laps on the bike with the heavier duty wheels will get me used to the additional mass.

I made my way up to the top and rode Dinsdale which was such a sweet loamy rip and then Cabin Trail. 20 feet from the entrance to Cabin Trail was a nice mound of bear scat in the middle of the road. I couldn't resist taking a picture.

What everyone likes to see at a trail head.

Cabin was simply a blast and then a sweet rip of Snakes where I stopped in one spot to take note of a few trees that need to be cut out. After Snakes it was up to Bloggy Style and finally Shotgun.

I was in my car driving home at 8:30am. Nothing better than an early am rip with the bears.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Arduum Challenge - Day 2 - Race Day

Arduum Challenge, Race Day 2008.

This morning I had one more pre-run lap of the race course. I stopped in a couple spots to have a closer look at my ideal line and then I waited patiently at the bottom of the hill for my race time.

This a shot from one of the little gaps on the course on my race day pre-run. Photo by Karaleen

The race for me overall was good. Not great, just good. When you have a clean run and you give it your all, then I consider that a great run. My run was riddled with mistakes at the top of the course that loomed in my mind until a good third of the way down. After that it was smooth sailing, a bit of pedaling and a full out effort. I was left with a lot of "what ifs!" and "shoulda, coulda and wouldas".

I'm humble enough to share this with the world. A camera person was in just the right spot to see me slip out and recover on one of the many thousands of roots that litter this course. 3 Photos above by Corey Toews

My buddy Dave M caught me on the lower section of the course "PINNING IT!"

Another shot near the end of the course on a fast section before a big gap. Photo by Karaleen

In the end I came in 5th in my class with which I am happy. No injuries and 3 gorgeous women cheering for me at the finish (my mom, wife and daughter).

A few feet from the finish line. Photo by Nicole W

One really cool thing about racing close to home is seeing people that you know that are out either volunteering or racing. There were dozens of people I knew from Maple Ridge and a several that recognized me from The Woodlot. Many times I heard "you're the guy from Snakes and Ladders right?!". I should also mention that the race jersey was provided by Troy, the generous owner of Maple Ridge Cycle.

One thing I know for sure is that if the race takes place again next year, I will be sure to throw my hat in to do the race again. Many thanks to the racers, the volunteers, the race organizers, the race officials and of course the race course builders.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Arduum Challenge 2008 - Day 1

Today was the first of 2 Days for the Arduum Challenge on Red Mountain in Mission, B.C., Canada. A good buddy of mine (Dave) dropped off a new set of cranks for me in the early morning which I then installed with the kind of technical finesse only seen in F1 pit stops. My new Gravity Light cranks took a good pound off the weight of my bike and also provided a new BB that is super smooth.

I arrived at the race venue at a reasonable time in the morning, picked up my race package and headed over to the shuttle area.

The Arduum Challenge DH Course shown in RED in Google Earth 3D

The organizers had this race dialed and from what I heard in the morning things were running ├╝ber smooth.

My first run I decided to ride and scope a bunch of the harder sections. I managed to find some lines I'd never thought of before and managed to get the rock drop under control.

On my second I did decide it was time to hit some sections with some speed and one in particular wasn't so good for me and I had what one witness described as a, "F@$%ing spectacular!!" wipe out that sent me a good 20 feet down a rock section in the air without my bike. I dusted myself off, and continued down cursing at the root that sent me for a ride.

The nice thing about racing locally is that you see lots of people you know and everywhere on the course I could hear people calling my name as I rode by.

On my 3rd lap, I put on my helmet cam and captured the trail on video so that I could memorize the course later that night while enjoying a cold frosty beverage.

A super mellow pre-run of the Arduum DH Course

This photo was taken during my helmet cam run. At the rock drop you can see the flash from the camera taking this photo. Photo by Stephen De Luca

I then did one more run on the course and called it a day. No major injuries and only one wipe out. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Arduum Race Pre-Ride

I managed to slip out of the house after dinner to get in a lap of Arduum before the mayhem of the race weekend in a few days. I decided I would do the race a few weeks ago, so a little course knowledge may come in handy.

At the top, the course builders made a beautiful start platform that I just had to get a few pictures of.

My run was clean and it gave me a good feel for what I was getting myself into. This was my only my 3rd run of the course and second on this bike. In my head, I am ready for the race.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

2008 Test Of Metal

When I signed up for the Test of Metal this year, I knew I'd be looking forward to a bit of pain and some leg cramps. And I was right. The cramps started early and lasted to the end. As far as the pain , a friend once told me, "pain is only weakness leaving your body"......... and there's no weakness left in my body.

The day started early with a 6 a.m. rise, shower and breakfast. I hit the road early to beat traffic and to get to Squamish nice and early. I made sure to drink lots, I ate well and was rested come start time.

At the start line I slotted myself in at the 4.5 - 5 hour finishing time. I was confident in my riding ability and fitness level to finish within that time slot.

This picture was taken on Jack's Trail during the race . It is a tight, single track trail that is basically level, but has a lot of roots that some found hard to negotiate. Because we were down to single file, it caused back ups whenever someone stumbled. Some racers showed their smiles for my picture, others muttered their frustrations with the back up.

The next classic section is Rock and Roll. It is a section of the course that consisted of a steeper, bermed, rocky dirt section lined with dozens of spectators - where people with experience riding fast down hill on technical DH type terrain can give the people something to watch........just up my alley.

Karma thought it was time to play a sick joke on me after bombing through the Roller Coaster section. I must have cut someone off, because my legs began to cramp and my thighs and calves turned into knots. Every single pedal stroke for the rest of the race was a battle with the knots in my thighs and calves. It slowed me down so much that rest of the race ended up being a good 4 more hours.

At the top of the last major climb I stopped with some course volunteers to take a photo. The scenery is truly spectacular. In the future I plan to come out and ride some sections of the course and take in the views.

On my Rune, the Ring Creek rip was a freaking blast. 6" of plush travel helped me catch a dozen or so people that passed me on the climb. And after the rip, there is a section called the Power House Plunge, which is a steep rocky technical descent that sees a lot of carnage. I had a lot of fun carving my way on this particular section.

After the plunge it was on to Crumpit Woods aka Crampit Woods. My legs were now numb with cramps but I knew the pain was almost over. After about a half hour of up and down twisty single track climbing, I was out to the road. It was then a quick 2 minute pedal on a gravel path to cross the finish line.

My time was not anywhere near as good as I had hoped. My lack of training and inability to cope well with massive cramping slowed my down quite a bit. But I finished The Test in one piece and ZERO issues with my bike.

I am looking forward to next year's test. I have a year to train, to get stronger and to have less weakness in my body to escape during the race.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Golden Ears Park

I needed to get my legs moving tonight, so I jumped on my bike headed out the door and rode some sweet single track on the Rune. I was full XC with clipless pedals, spandex and the big ring on the bike. There really is nothing better than sweet single track. I only had an hour to ride but I covered a lot of ground and found some old horse trails that I'd never seen before in Golden Ears Park.

One hour on my bike was all it took to get my heart pumping and my lust for railing turns satisfied.

Really short ride but ever so satisfying.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Red and Bear DH Pre-Runs

My ride today started nice and early. I was up and out the door by 5:15am. I stopped to pick up a coffee and breakfast and was on my way out to today's riding destination: Red Mountain in Mission to ride Arduum. I was at the hill climbing by 6am and the only company I saw during my ride was a black bear on the road.

Climbing on the Ollie was a bit tougher than my Rune. Lets just say I did a fair amount of pushing. Once I was at the top it started raining, so I geared up and started my ride down. I am likely racing in the Arduum Challenge in a few weeks so I figured I should get a good look at the course on my own to scope lines and get a feel for the course.

Its steep, rocky, rooty, wet and off camber. Technical is the one word that sums up this course. Perfect course to try out a new part on my bike and break in my newly serviced rear shock. After a few turns of the knobs, everything was dialed.

I managed to get a good look at the sections I wanted and sessioned a few of the jumps and rock sections. I think a after riding it a few more times, I should have it down in my head and the speed will come.

So at the bottom I had a choice; ride Arduum again, or ride the Bear Mountain DH course. I chose to hit Bear to see how it was and to see if there had been any changes in the last year or so. Bear had seen some recent buffing and was simply awesome. In fact I have never seen it better. Someone had raked the whole trail, cleaned out all the drains and buffed up all the jumps and berms. I had a total hoot hitting the gaps and railing everything in sight. At times I was 2 wheel drifting corners so I know I was riding at the limit.

At the bottom of Bear I decided to hit Arduum again. I pushed up to a point on the trail that I wanted to session. After a few attempts on this one particular difficult jump. I decided to call it a day and rode out to my car.

It was now 9am and time to go home.

My dirty bike with a new part on it.

Not a bad morning of riding and now at least I have a mental picture of the race course to go over in my mind. Next weekend: '08 Test of Metal

Sunday, June 01, 2008

XC Shake down

So right now my Banshee Rune is set up for XC riding. I have skinny 2.1 tires, clipless pedals, 3 chain rings and smaller brake rotors on the bike.

In 2 weeks, I am participating in the 2008 Test of Metal. It's a 67km XC endurance race held in Squamish and involves a lot of climbing and in my case a lot pf saddle time. I decided that I would use today as the shakedown run for my bike to see if there are any issues that need addressing with my bike. My ride started at my house and I rode to The Woodlot (my normal stomping ground) by way of single and double track trails.

My Route shown in Google Earth

My bike is ready and dialed. Me on the other hand.....I guess we will just have to wait and see. It will be a suffer fest for sure as I have not exactly logged many consistent miles, but I am resilient and never quit.

Full spandex and clipless pedals were a bit of a throw back for me, but after a few kms it all cam back. It's amazing how easy it is to push a big 44t ring on a good pedaling bike. I'm actually looking forward to the race.