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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Race Report: Tour de King 2012

Fun day!  I think.  Stuff went wrong, a bit went right, and I finished with a smile on my face.

The Start

They neutralized the start, so the first 2km or so were behind a pace car.

We hit the point where the pace car pulled off, and I quickly jumped on a good wheel.  I was glad to have the cross bike to battle the wind when I was pulling, and we were moving really good in some of the groups I found myself in.

This went on for the first 9km, which was great - I was way up with some really good riders, thanks to the bike and some drafting.  This was really the only time when I felt the cross bike was a big advantage.

But then...

Off-road #1

I find this one to be the toughest.  The hills are steep, the trails are grassy and slippery, and it really just cooked me.  The gearing on my bike just isn't suitable for this section - brutal grinding at a low cadence and major lactic acid build-up.

Note to self for 2013 - bring some climbing gears!  That is all.

By the time we hit the road again I was just looking to recover.

On The Road Again

I was labouring, trying to spin and just get in some fluids.  A group caught up to me (including my buddy) so I stuck with them for a bit, started to feel a bit OK.

Nasty Road Allowance Thing

I don't know what you call this... it follows the direction of the road, but a road it is not.  When we did this last year I probably came pretty close to killing myself riding down this crazy trench - this time I walked up it, along with all the folks around me.

Nothing makes you feel lamer than walking your bike, but even the mountain bikes weren't riding this one!

On the Road Again #2

Next up was a pretty short road section between road allowances, and this time the enemy was some very loose gravel on a windy downhill.  I had a few slides that I caught without too much trouble, but people did go down here... it was scary stuff.

Not As Nasty Road Allowance Thing

Next up was a trail section, pretty straight and not too bad.  I was starting to feel a lot better by this point, so was able to push up the little hills and such.

Road #3

I was fast!  Passed a few mountain bikes, had my spin on, it felt great.  Again, one of the few sections where the cross bike paid off...


Off-road #2

This one is a series of real mountain bike trails.  Flowy singletrack with some technical turns and such.

I was doing pretty good, though.  A few mountain bikes caught me and went by, but mostly I held my own.  I was really feeling strong!

Until... I missed a corner and smoked into a tree!  I didn't hit it that hard, but what it hit was my brake caliper... which it pushed into my wheel, which now couldn't spin!  I pulled off to the side (more to the side than the tree!) and tried desperately to free it, but the cable was stuck in there.  Finally I grabbed a branch and pried it loose, and miraculously the wheel actually turned - no permanent damage.  The brakes even worked properly!

Road #4

Hilly, but much nicer in this direction (the opposite of last year's direction).  Again, passed a few of the mountain bike guys that had just passed me, so hit the next off-road feeling pretty OK.

Off-road #3

This is the Seneca property, and the trails aren't as groomed and nice as the previous ones.  Lots of roots and rocks, the odd log, and way more climbing than I remembered.  I had a tough go, started to cramp up a bit, but still managed to keep pace with those around me.  This is definitely the section where the mountain bikes have the advantage - which I had probably put out of my mind by the finish time last year!  It went on and on and I got picked off over and over by mountain bikes.  They can carry much more speed in the corners, and don`t have to be quite as tentative on the downhills.

The Finish

When I saw the 1km to go sign I was a bit surprised... by my watch I figured we had another 10-15 minutes left!  So I started to hammer it.  There was a guy who'd been swapping places with me all day, he was just ahead of me, and if nothing else I wanted to get him!

I hammered it up the grassy knoll that is the end of the race... and pipped him at the line!  Turned around and we both laughed, it was one of those funny moments in a race that make it all worthwhile.


Final result: 105th place of 278 finishers, 2:10:54.  Last year I finished 104th of a bigger field, so definitely not as good.  Wasn't in as good of shape, hit a tree, and the reverse course really didn't play well with my strengths, so all in all a lot of room to improve for 2013.

As for the bike debate (mountain bike vs cyclocross) - well... it's tough.

Last year we started near the back and in offroad, so I had the perception I was keeping up to the mountain bikes.  Truth is, the only ones I was seeing were the ones that were falling back in the race toward me, so they weren`t the best riders.

This year it was the exact opposite - we started closer to the front and on road, so I had a lot of very strong mountain bikers behind me!  That meant when we were off-road I was getting passed a fair bit, and didn`t have as many guys to pass later in the race on-road.

I have to think that the right bike is probably a hardtail 29er... with tires that aren't so gnarly that they suck on the pavement, but have enough grip for the sometimes tricky trail stuff.  They would pay a price on the road sections, but there`s a lot of trail and those road allowances where they make up for it.

I don't have a 29'er, my MTB is a 26'er, so next year I will still do the cyclocross thing, with some bigger cogs on the rear so that first off-road doesn't kill me.  Even if it's not faster, it's a lot of fun!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ride Report: JDRF 2012


This is a charity ride to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

How fun is it?  Well that depends on how you look at it... the event itself is very energy packed, lots of cheering and loud music, and the money raised goes to a great cause.  And this year - dancing girls!  Yay!

The actual riding... welllll, not so much fun.  6 minutes on a stationary bike trying to do as much distance as possible.  Naturally, you set the tension to the point your knees won't blow off and spin like a gerbil at the highest cadence you can mustre.  I managed about 130-140rpm for the 6 minutes, way faster than I would normally ever pedal... it was dizzying and unpleasant! 

But all for a good cause and the dancing girls made up for it.  You also get a snack after and a free water bottle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Race Preview: Tour de King 2012

This was a new race on the calendar in 2011.

To quote myself...
I believe I have a new favourite race
I may have been a tad caught up in the moment... but it really was a lot of fun!  A great mix of roads, singletrack, and tough/crazy road allowances.

New Course, Old Course

This year they are using almost the same course... except backwards.  Instead of going west, we're going east.  The crazy downhill in a trench with loose gravel will now be a crazy uphill... should be interesting.

They have also removed one of the off-road sections that was on private land, so there is now a very long section from the start of the race to almost halfway that will be on-road.  This will really change the dynamic of things, it will be more of a bunch/pack race for a long time before we ever hit a trail.  And the singletrack stuff will be at the very end rather than the start - should get held up a bit less (and hold people up a bit less).

Bike Choice

Mountain bike or Cyclocross?

The debate raged on before last year's race and continues now.  Passionate exchanges from both sides.

For me it's pretty easy... cross.  With one less off-road and so much road up front I think it's a no-brainer this year.  I was handy enough on the singletrack to keep up with the mountain bikes around me, except on the last one (and it's gone).  So done deal.

And it's just a stinkin' fun bike to ride no matter where you are!  The mountain bike is fun, until you get to a road, and then it just feels like a tugboat.

See you there!?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Race Report: 5k on the Runway (Oshawa)

She did it!

My oldest daughter (10) finished her first 5k!  I ran with her providing encouragement (and the occasional fatherly "suck-it-up!").  She did great, especially considering the horrible wind and chill.

My wife and younger daughter (8) and son (5) did the 1k.  Younger daughter finished 3rd!  

All in all a lot of fun.  Did I mention the horrible wind?  Brr.  Inside now, warm, yay!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Intervals, Bloody Intervals (and 10-20-30)

I did "regular" old-school VO2 pushin' intervals for the first time in awhile today.

5x1000m with 3:30 rests between each.

I don't usually get into this kind of detail on my blog about my training, but just wanted to capture this one as I'm pretty sure I did it right this time!

Garmin Data

Target pace: 4:00/km

Interval 1:  1000m  3:58/km @ 173bpm (max 180bpm)
Interval 2:  1000m  3:59/km @ 176bpm (max 182bpm)
Interval 3:  1000m  4:00/km @ 176bpm (max 184bpm)
Interval 4:  1000m  4:03/km @ 177bpm (max 184bpm)
Interval 5:  1000m  3:57/km @ 178bpm (max 187bpm)

Each interval became a little tougher, but I held the pace pretty well and made sure I finished strong on the last one.


There's another workout that's been gaining some traction in running circles, it's the 10-20-30.

  • 10 seconds very fast
  • 20 seconds moderate
  • 30 seconds very slow
Repeat the above 5 times in succession, take a 2 minute break, and do it again.  Repeat this 3-5 times, and allegedly you end up running 5k's much faster (according to one study anyway).

It's counter-intuitive, as the usual wisdom is that running at VO2 for 4-6 minutes gives the best 5km gains... but really it's all about pushing your body's limits and getting adaptations, so why not try it?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Race Preview: 5k on the Runway (Oshawa)

My mother always taught me if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it.  So I don't say much about Oshawa usually...

... but this race is a real gem.  It's one of the best 5k's I've ever done!

Great community feel.
Great venue.
Great charity.

And if that's not enough - lots to do before and after the race on the site.  Just remarkable value, no reason not to do it!  Get to it!

Race website

Our entire family did it last year (even my wife!), and I set my fastest ever 5k time.  It's pancake flat, perfect for setting a PB really.

But a PB isn't my goal this time... instead I will be a pacer for my oldest daughter, helping her complete her first 5k!  She is 10 years old and she's ready.  She's played soccer all summer, and we've done 3.5km and 4km training runs (with the odd walk break!).  Looking very forward to it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Intermittent Fasting: Tips and Strategies

As I wrote in my previous blog post, I am trying out Intermittent Fasting.

I have done the 24-hour "trial fast", so here are a few tips!

Things you can drink

You can't consume calories, but that doesn't mean you are off everything.  It's not a medical or religious fast, and it's not one of those goofy "cleanse" things where your colon is supposed to get a break!  You are only teaching your body how to deal without calories.
  • Black coffee - I've been using this a lot, decaf in the evenings and half-and-half the rest of the day
  • Diet softdrinks - I know, I know, I can hear the groans - not everyone is a fan. I've always enjoyed them though, and they keep the mouth busy with some flavour
  • Diet juices - Crystal Lite, etc. Again, not everyone's cup of tea. And speaking of tea...
  • Tea - healthy, hot, good
  • Water with lemon juice - Lemon juice has virtually no calories, so I pour a generous amount into my water. The sourness takes away a lot of hungry mouth feelings. I can't explain it, but it works for me!  Add sucrolose (Splenda) and you can make something that's a lot like Lemonade.
Things you should eat

Some people have success with sugar-free gum or mints.  I didn't try it.

Before or after fasting, supposedly it's good to eat a little extra protein. I already have a pretty high protein diet, but I added a glass of milk or some cheese. Seems to help carry me through.

Fasting Patterns

I have tried the 24 hour fast, which went quite well.  My hunger wasn't too overwhelming, and I really did feel better in the days following - not as hungry, energy high.  It could have been in my head, this isn't a scientific result, but there are scientific studies supporting this and it feels good - so I'm going to keep going with it!

Now I am trying the 16-hour fast for a full week.  Basically you adjust your eating pattern so you are off food for 16 hour periods, with an 8 hour eating window.  My chosen window is 11:30am-7:30pm - so no food in the few hours before bedtime and skip breakfast. 

I will update with my progress and findings - so far, so good!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Race Review: Logs Rocks & Steel 2012

It's been a tough year... successes have been few and far between, disappointment has been rampant.

Today, it finally all came together.

2nd place among the male teams, and 3rd place of all teams on the Pinecrest Course!

Perhaps best of all - 1st place of all the canoes!

Well now I've gone and given away the ending.  Now let's rewind to the start...


Forecast: rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  In fact it looked like it was going to be absolutely pouring for the entire race.  Rained the whole drive up, but then we noticed it was lighter and lighter.

And then it stopped... this was clearly a sign of good things to come!


Last year this was our worst leg, but this year we bought a good canoe and practiced a fair bit.  We figured out how to keep the thing straight in both good and bad water, how to make a quick turn, and just spent enough time in it to feel comfortable.

It paid off, big-time!

We wanted to get a quick start to get some distance between us and some of the wobblier boats, as last year we found ourselves battling a lot of other canoes.  Within a few moments we had only 2 kayaks ahead of us, with a 3rd on our left... but no canoes!  I didn't look back, just kept focusing on keeping us on track toward the island.

The 3rd kayak passed us as we went around the island, as I was a bit tentative with getting too close to shore... there were sandbars that came out a ways and some rocks, he took it tighter - but really I wasn't that concerned with what the kayaks were doing, the solo guys were pretty much in a separate race.

After the island I took a quick look back - there was one canoe close to us, the rest were a fair distance back.  These guys were using kayak paddles - I'm not sure if that's a big advantage, I've heard conflicting things.  Still we now knew who the competition was and it was on like Donkey Kong!

We executed a pretty lousy turn around the far buoy, but looking back the others did even worse, so we just put down the power and headed for shore.

Result: 1st canoe!

Then coming onto the dock I was almost knocked into the water as we tried to hoist our 18foot canoe over some metal posts... oops!  I managed to balance on some wires holding the dock together and pop back up onto the dock.  Close call.

Transition 1

Felt fast, got our bike stuff on, but not fast enough - someone passed us in transition!  We caught them soon on the bike, though, and the reason became clear - they didn't change into bike shoes.  We didn't see them again.


Started out great on the road, but soon we hit the off-road.

These trails are rough.  They alternate between rock and mud, and with the rain the mud was really brutal.  Lots of standing water... and the rock was slippery at times.  It was survival mode, we got passed by a few people but I wasn't sure whether they were solo, teams, or doing the long course!  I spent way too much time off my bike.

We got to a fork in the trail and the guy there said "you're the first team through".  Umm, what???  I was shocked, I thought we'd give up a place or two by then!

Finally, mercifully, we were back on the road and flying along again.  We picked off one of the solo guys that had gone past us, but we still were a bit off of last year's time.  Mostly this had to be down to the conditions, it was much tougher with the rain.

Transition 2

Still in in 1st place among the teams!  We were doing great - fast transition, out!


About 300m into the run, our 1st place turned into 2nd, when one of the other male teams passed us.  It was clear with the pace they had this was a permanent situation, so we didn't kill ourselves trying to keep up and just kept our own pace.

This run is diabolical - it's not just hilly, but rocky, overgrown, windy, a true "adventure" trail!  We knew what to expect but it was still tough.

And after all that, in the last 200m or so, my partner slipped on the wet dock and bumped his head!  He sucked it up and ran to the finish, cementing our awesome finish.

The Finish!

Finished about a minute faster than our 2011 time, to my surprise!  By this time we knew we had 2nd among the male teams locked up, but with the staggered start there could be other types of teams behind us on the trail that were ahead of us... and this ended up being the case, one of the co-ed teams finished behind us but was 2nd among the teams.

I'm absolutely delighted, though!  We improved our time, we moved way up the standings, and we raced among the best all day long.  The work we did all year paid off in the canoe, and the other pieces just fell into place nicely.

Best of all was the canoe.  I am sure there are faster people out there - we know some of them!  But the improvement was huge, I think we're something like 6 minutes faster than last year.  That's over a 25 minute canoe, which is enormous.  Working on something and having it pay off like that is extremely satisfying.

Next year we'll be back!  It's a great event.  Awesome food, nice prizes from Salomon, and just a really fun race.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Race Preview: Logs Rocks & Steel 2012

This is our second year doing Logs, Rocks & Steel.  Read the 2011 report here.

Basically, it's an Adventure Race with a marked course.  Canoe, mountain bike, trail run.  Theoretically at least, there is no navigation required (although we almost got lost, and a few teams did get lost!).

Canoe Start by ActiveSteve (Flickr)
There are two distances - the Champion course and the Pine Crest course.  We did the Pine Crest last year and will be doing the same this year... the Champion course is just a bit too crazy!  Maybe someday...


Last year our canoe was pretty rough.  We had only been out a few times before the race, and never in the rental canoe we used in the race (provided by organizers).  This meant a lot of meandering around the lake, mostly not in the direction we hoped to go.

This year we have a canoe we bought just for this - it's an 18' Jensen that's perfect for flying along in a straight line on a lake!  And we've practiced much more to really figure the thing out.  We are better at holding a straight line in all kinds of conditions, and can do a pretty sharp turn when we need to.  So that should be good for a few minutes!

Bike trail.  Seriously.  By ActiveSteve (Flickr)

We pretty much nailed these last year, we had some of the quickest of our immediate competittors, so not too concerned here.


We both had relatively new bikes last year, and I really wasn't comfortable on mine.  As you can see by the picture, the trails are not easy!  A lot is pretty rough, rocky and rutted.  My mountain bike skills have come a long way since then, so I think I  can hold my own rather than drag us down on the off-road.  On the road I'm solid, should be able to draft each other to a good bike time!


I don't think there is much room to improve here, it was just hanging on for dear life.  It's tough, you actually had to climb up rocks and stuff at times, and the trail was even worse than the bike photo above.  Truly an adventure!


A lot will depend on who shows up and if it rains or not... but all things being equal I'd like to see us podium in the men's pairs and beat our previous time.  It should be do-able.  Last year we were 4th (17th of 121 overall) and less than 2 minutes behind 3rd, but I think we can make up a fair bit more time than that.  There is time to be found on the water and the bike, and we're going to find it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jono's Durham Forest Mountain Bike Challenge

This is the route:

It hits all three properties - Glen Major, Walker's Woods, and the main Durham Forest tract.  Lots of singletrack and enough climbing to keep the legs challenged.

I did it in 1:22:22... I think I can go faster, if I do I'll post my Garmin data here too.  I'm sure lots of people can do it faster than me, but even if speed isn't your goal this is a fun route to check out a big swath of these properties.

The challenge - beat my time.  You are allowed one stop, only because I took one - at the exit of Walker's Woods before you cross the road.  Stop your Garmin, drink something, and think about how much you hate me for making you do this.

(Disclaimer: Do it safely - I'm not responsible if they put up barbed wire or a pit of snakes or whatever, so keep your head up as always with mountain biking!)

Route description

This route has everything, but most importantly I tried to hit a lot of the best singletrack in the area!  Main highlights are Snakes and Ladders in Walker's Woods, the new build in Durham Forest (Burnt Toast, Bowes, Bowes II) and the classic Maple Gravy!

There are some good climbs, beautiful scenery (don't forget to look at it rather than just bombing through it!), lots of different terrain from mud (if it rained) to sand to hardpack.  Just a lot of fun.

Note that it doesn't stop where it started... you have a choice.  Bomb down the road back  to your car, or try to figure out how to get back on the trails.  The road can be a hoot, it's crazy fast.