blog banner

blog banner

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ride Report: Ride 4 United Way 2013 (160km)

I did the Ride 4 United Way today, 160km.

Started out in the main pack, nearer the front.  This may have saved my butt as there was a pretty good crash behind us, all we heard was the sound of bikes hitting asphalt - badness!  Hope all were OK (especially the bikes).

My challenge at this ride has always been the ferocious hills, and right now I'm far from my optimal weight so that challenge was magnified.  The first big hill is at Solina, and as usual I was dropped from the front pack.  That was not entirely unexpected, and fortunately this year there were a couple guys that I teamed up with and took on the next 10km or so with.  But then we hit some steep rollers and I couldn't stick with them... pop!

I rode on my own for a little bit, then was swallowed up by a larger group from a local bike store.  I didn't really enjoy it, I was the only one not from their store in the group, and they didn't seem to want me there very much.  I stuck with them anyway for about 30km (since the other option was tackle the headwind on my own) but at some point we met up with a couple other guys and I hung with them instead.

After the halfway rest stop, I knew the hills got much worse, and there was little hope of sticking with any group. Went out on my own, which wasn't that big a deal since mostly it was tail/cross wind and lots of climbing.  I descend pretty fast on my own, being 20lbs over my ideal weight!  The only time it comes in handy.

At about the 100km mark is "Heartbreak Hill", very very steep climb.  Even with the triple (sacrilege!) my cadence went to nothing and I struggled up...

One other guy caught me when I stopped to fill my bottle, so we rode together for 20km or so.  That was great, nice to have someone to work with and chat with a bit.

Then we got stopped by a train.  That train then stopped, blocking the crossing, while another train came from the other direction.  Then the first train finally started moving.  I don't know how long we were there, seemed like an eternity!

After that people kind of spread out, and I was on my own for the last 30km.  By that point I didn't mind.

Felt really good at the end.  I really stayed on top of my nutrition - close to 10 bottles of Gatorade/Heed by the finish, which should have been good for ~1500 calories or so (probably more, I mixed them pretty strong!).   Also had a full caffeine coffee beforehand, which I don't normally have, but allegedly if your body isn't desensitized to caffeine it can have endurance performance benefits.

Average speed was nothing to write home about, but the hills really are killer on this route.  28.3km/h vs 26.7km/h last year.  Like I said, nothing to write home about, but nice to improve.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Where The Singletrack is At - Glen Major and Walkers Woods

First off - the map.  Use their map as the official version.

Next, my maps!  I've labeled the best singletrack (in my opinion of course) with little polka dots on top of the trails.

Walkers Woods

This area has probably the least interesting singletrack of the Durham Forest properties on the whole, but then it's got one of the best sections so it kind of redeems itself.

Click to Enlarge!

The section north of post 12 used to be called "Snakes & Ladders"... before my time, it used to have ladders.  Now it just snakes.  Very flowy, somewhat technical and fun.  I find it best in the direction my arrows indicate, but you can do it either way.

The rest isn't very technical, but is mostly fast and fun.

Glen Major

Several of the sections on this map are fun, but my favourite is the stuff at the north.

Find post 21, go south and hang your first left.  Then go south for awhile - eventually you'll come to an intersection and on your very leftmost there should be a "Singletrack" sign.  The fun begins!

If you pop out again at 21, that's OK - just go back in and stay left, you can do the more challenging lower section down to post 20.

Click to Enlarge!

From post 19 to 18 used to be a lot of fun - there's still nice banking, but the jumps aren't what they once were, and it's been pretty sandy lately (this changes depending on season).  Still cool.

Durham Forest

The best bang for one's singletrack buck is Durham Forest, but once you've done those a million times there's still a lot to explore.

Here's Mike Sweet's Durham Forest map with all the singletrack shown.

I love the Burnt Toast / Bowe's / Bowes II combination - you are on singletrack for a long time, uninterrupted!  The Maze is cool, and Maple Gravy / The Pines are classic taken together.  Superflly Alley is challenging, but more fun if taken West to East (ie. from the radio tower side).  The other way sucks.  And I love climbing Tower Hill, then coming down on the far west side - there's a cool valley descent that's a hoot.

Have Fun!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ironman Mont Tremblant 2014

I'm registered.  Yikes!

I have always wanted to go back to Ironman - my experience in 2009 was just incredible.

It's a huge commitment, though, of both time and money.  There were other things I wanted to focus on, especially off-road (mountain biking, adventure racing, etc!).

But I've been growing listless without a firm goal, so what better motivator than Ironman?  And it will be the 5 year anniversary of my first one - figure I can do it every 5 years until I'm dead!

The Plan

I don't have one yet, just a few ideas.

Swim - sharper focus on technique, less on laps.  The swim won't make or break my day, I just want to do it smooth and without incident.  In 2009 my swim was slow but comfortable, with pretty terrible technique.  A bit of work here should speed things up.

Bike - miles and intensity.  Last time I did the miles, but not enough intensity.  I've trained better in recent years, putting in both the miles and interval/hill training when I've had something to target.

Run - more mileage and intensity.  Last time I was probably too conservative on mileage, and didn't do any tempo/speedwork.  My most recent marathon training had two speed sessions a week (one intervals, one tempo) - I will incorporate more of this in my Ironman training.  Obviously I will be nowhere close to tempo pace on race day, but intensity seems to help a lot in every aspect of my running.

I'll get more specific later... for now I'm just mulling it all over!  Can't wait.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mountain Biking at Canmore Nordic Centre

I was on a trip back home to Alberta, so had a chance to rent a mountain bike and check out the Canmore Nordic Centre trails.  

The Trails

A fair amount of singletrack with lots of variety, from nicely groomed somewhat flowy trails to nasty awful rocky/rooted borderline unrideable trails.  
The Meadows
One of my favourites was the long downhill section called "Killerbees" (and before it, the slightly less fun but still entertaining "Backdoor").  Awesome banking, some neat little bridges, and fast downhill!  Mostly smooth, packed and fast - the flowiest trail of the day.  
Wicked banking on some great downhill "Killerbees" trail

The only downside - the trails to get up to the start of Backdoor (the Albertan and Nector Noodle) were the worst ones of the day... lots of rocks, roots, sharp climbs, just unpleasant.

"The Albertan", one of the less fun climbs on the day
The "Long Road To Ruin" was also very cool.   As the name suggests, it's a long uninterrupted singletrack.  Nice trail, ridiculously beautiful views.  Some really neat sections going along a steep valley, too.

"Long Road to Ruin" - valley section

A stunning view from the "Long Road to Ruin" trail
Again, there's a downside... if you go east to west on "Long Road to Ruin", you are mostly descending and end up at the bottom of the bottom - no way to get anywhere but to climb!  I used the "Georgetown Climb", which was just a long steep arduous climb.  A better option might be to take the "Georgetown Interpretive" route, it's doubletrack and the climb out at the end doesn't seem as bad (but I only went down it, so... good luck!).


It was a cool experience mountain biking in the actual mountains!  The views were stunning.

The trails were mostly not quite as groomed/nice as what I'm used to back home in Ontario - lots more roots and rock, it's left in a more natural state, which I don't find quite as fun to ride.  It's just different, probably folks prefer whichever they're used to.

Lots of climbing, as you'd expect!  At 4800 feet above sea level, I was not ready for it and was left gasping a lot.  Still, I spent 5 1/2 hours there, mostly with a smile on my face.

If you go, buy the trail map.  The signposts are almost entirely useless - they show only the immediate vicinity of the sign, rather than the full trail system!  I spent a lot of time pulling out the map.  There's also a relatively up to date version here.

I rented from Trail Sports right at the mountain.  $55 for the day - not bad.  The guy on the phone said not to bother reserving, there were lots of bikes in all sizes all the time - except when I got there I got the last Large (and this was at 9am)!  So if you really want to make sure you get a bike, reserve it.  There was also a bit of a snafu with the pedals - the guy installed them wrong (I suspect) and one snapped off on me!  Fortunately I was only 1km from the place, they swapped out the bike and I was good to go.

Oh and there are bears.  I didn't have bear spray, didn't see bears, but they do rent it at Trail Sports for $5/day if you want insurance.