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Monday, December 29, 2014

Intermittent Fasting - Second Try

My weight has gotten away from me, again.  Sigh!  Up about 15 pounds since Ironman in August.

A few years ago I tried Intermittent Fasting.  In a nutshell, there have been scientific studies demonstrating that that fasting has significant health benefits.

It was interesting, but didn't yield the weight loss results I had hoped for.  I did what they call the 16:8 fast - basically, fast for 16 hours per day, eat the other 8 hours.  I ate between 11:30am-7:30pm, basically skipping after-dinner snacking (a good thing!) and breakfast (a controversial thing).

One thing I did not do was change my diet - I ate anything and everything during that 8 hours, without a tinge of guilt.  My weight did stop increasing (yay!) but didn't decrease (boo!).

It did teach me to not eat and quite early on I found that ravishing hunger subside.  That was amazing.  Also my energy levels throughout the day were much improved.   So I feel like I owe it another shot.

This Time...

It's easy and something I feel I could maintain indefinitely.

To actually lose weight (rather than merely maintain) I will also cut calories, and count calories.  At first I'm going for 2lbs/week, significant losses, but once I drop 10 pounds or so I will ease off to a 1lb/week goal, and eventually to maintenance.

Goal: 175lbs by Paris to Ancaster at the end of April.

And yes, I do know the chart goes up for two weeks.  Shhh.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fake Bike Trip - DONE!

I went out today for a rather ill-advised 90km ride just to finish this thing off.

I've officially topped 6,148km since I started Dec 21 of last year, putting me beyond my goal.  I have biked the distance from Whitby, Ontario alllll the way to Delta Junction, Alaska.

Apparently Delta Junction is the end of the Alaska Highway.  Who knew?

I also have topped 6000km for the year.

I would be surprised if I ever hit this kind of number again in my life... I love mountain biking and off-road stuff, so all this road mileage isn't really in the cards.  Unless I lose my brain and try Ironman again (Whaaaaat!?).

It's been awesome, though, I've actually really enjoyed all those kilometers.  Mostly solo miles, just me, my thoughts, and the open road... lovely.

See you in 2015!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #18

This is getting tedious.  Felt much more exciting when I first started!

My fake bike trip (history here)

I had one great opportunity to get out for a really long ride, so I was able to peg a pretty good bunch of kilometers on the board.  I am now at 5896km, just 261km shy now of my goal of 6148km.

I started it on Dec 22, so I will end it Dec 21... gives me 4 weeks to complete.  60km per week should be very possible, even on the trainer.

Monday, November 17, 2014

When the Paddle Breaks

I stepped on my Grey Owl carbon canoe paddle.

It's carbon fiber, so it's very strong... but not that strong!  It fell with the bent shaft facing down, I stepped on the shaft.


It didn't break entirely through, but carbon splinters along the shaft looked like very bad mojo.  I figured I had just cost myself $200+...

... but the good people at Grey Owl saved the day and fixed it for $60 - replaced the shaft with a new one!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #17

Fake Bike Trip Status:

5686km since December 20... 462km to go. 

6 weeks until December 20th and the end of my challenge... so I need to book 77km per week from now to the end to get there.

It doesn't sound like a whole lot - I've averaged over 120km/week up to this point.  But man the miles go on slow when you're mountain biking instead of being out on the roads! So easy to clock a 100km ride on the road, but on the trails that's a Herculean task. 

We'll see!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dear November. You Suck. Go Away.

I've kind of neglected the blog, mostly because, well, nothing is going on.


No races to look forward to.  The sun goes down too early.  The temperatures have dropped so it's more of a pain to get out the door.


This week was particularly bad - I managed to do absolutely nothing all week.  Finally hit the rower and the indoor trainer (bike) today, just to do some penance for all those missed workouts.

Is it Christmas yet?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paddling on Lake Ontario: When Lakes Attack

I went for a paddle on Lake Ontario on Sunday.

It was a windy day, but the wind was from the North, so when I arrived to launch my boat Lake Ontario was completely placid.

I launched around the red dot.  When the wind is from the north, our side of the lake is calm.

I started paddling, and all was wonderful.  I had a slight headwind, but nothing to really bother me too much.

As I got closer to the far end of my intended trip, I noticed the wind had changed slightly.  It was now more from the West, and the waves were starting to pick up a bit.  Nothing too bad, so I kept going.

Big Mistake.

I swear not more than 5 minutes later I was rocking and rolling.  I decided it was best to turn around, short of my destination, but I was getting worried.

Now the wind was at my back, I was fast... but the waves were faster, and building!  Soon they were up to 2-3 foot swells.  I would feel the back of the boat rise, the wave would get under me and I would almost surf the crest for a moment... then woosh, front comes up.

Several times the boat twisted entirely sideways, I was incredibly lucky to stay dry.  Still not sure how a wave didn't manage to wash right over the boat!  I was just very dainty, tried not to make any sudden moves.

Finally - mercifully - I made it back to shore...

What Went Wrong?

This is what the wind actually looked like.  The top arrows show the direction.

North... North... Northwest... Northwest... Northwest...

WEST!  WEST!  Surprise!!!


It's just amazing to me how quickly the lake went from completely calm to ferocious. had predicted a slight shift to Northwest.  In hindsight I should have paid more attention to that... but really when the wind is that strong, it's best to avoid Lake Ontario.  It's such a large body of water that it can really bring a strong lick.

Lesson learned!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My New Boat: Wenonah Wilderness Kevlar

I was trolling around for awhile looking for a solo canoe, but wasn't having much luck.  Thankfully I stumbled on an end of season sale and found this baby!

It looks even better in the water than on my van...

Why a Solo Canoe?

A tandem canoe is great when there are two people.  When there aren't it's not so great... especially our boat, at 18 feet long!

I thought briefly about a kayak, but I want to use this as training for my regular canoe activities, so really wanted to paddle canoe-style with as close of a set-up as possible.

Why the Wenonah Wilderness?

I looked at a few other options, but in the end I already own a Wehnonah, and this one ticked all the boxes.  Just 32lbs, nice adjustable seat, foot brace.  Price was right!  I combed over reviews and everyone seemed quite happy with their Wilderness, at least the Kevlar version.

When I hit the water I was grateful I didn't go any narrower (as I had been tempted to do).  30.5" is plenty narrow and it feels quite a bit tippier that our Jensen 18.  I got used to it pretty quickly, though.

It has a bit of rocker, and without the second person it wants to turn quite a lot, especially in wind.  That will take some getting used to, and I definitely need to learn a proper "J" stroke!  I was switching sides as often as every 3 strokes at times, especially into wind or current.

I can't believe how light it is.  I can throw the thing around so easily, pop it up on the roof, no problem.  I ordered a yoke (regular wood one) to make a removable yoke out of for portaging and such.

This boat had me grinning like an idiot - it was just so much fun.  Very happy I bought it and can't wait to paddle it again!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Race Report: The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience 2014

Muskoka River (2013 pic)
The Race

The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience is a 18km (or 10km) race in Bracebridge, mostly on the beautiful Muskoka River.

The river is nice and wide, calm, tree-lined with cottages and homes all along.  It's just a very nice slice of Ontario Muskoka.

If you aren't that much of a "racer" but would like to do it - do it!  Lots of people of all abilities out there, especially on the 10km.  Canoes, kayaks, even stand-up paddle boards.  Everyone is so nice, the setting is amazing, it's one of my favourite events of the year.

Our Race

We did the 18km race last year and managed to finish dead last in our category... so this year the goal was to not finish dead last in our category.

Our start was really strong, we stuck with some boats we knew we wouldn't stay with to the end but it was nice not to get destroyed 5 strokes in.

For some reason they started the kayaks after the canoes... so about 5 minutes in, the speedy kayaks came through.  We got splashed by the scoopy paddles they use, which was slightly un-fun... maybe next year they can switch the order up!

After that we found a pretty good rhythm.  There was one other canoe we were behind most of the day, always just out of reach...

 The start time is meant to avoid the Lady Muskoka's trip down river... but unfortunately we got going a little late, and surprise, she caught up to us!  This boat is big, we moved to the side to avoid her, and mostly managed not to lose pace - until the wake got us.  My buddy was trying to steer into the waves, I thought they weren't too bad, he was right and I was wrong... they were bad!  But we stayed upright and kept given 'er.

The 18km goes out into Lake Muskoka, which was surprisingly calm.  We took the straightest line to the first island of all the boats, but still didn't manage to catch them... just couldn't quite find that extra gear.

We picked up a few tips on going up-river (against the current), the most important being to stay away from the middle.  This really helped, we had some decent speed even as we were fatiguing.

Weather was interesting - single digits and little bits of rain now and then.  The rain didn't bother me too much, we were warm from paddling and it never really turned into a downpour.  I was happy with the general lack of wind, that was more important.

With about 5km to go, the 18km joins the 10km folks, and it gets a little busy.  This was mostly OK, a few little moments though.  Stand-up paddle boards especially seemed to do some crazy back-and-forth, they need a lot of room... we tried our best to give them space, but one guy near the end managed to swing alllll the way over and hit us anyway (and then cussed us out, go figure!).  Thankfully he was the only blemish in an otherwise wonderful day full of wonderful people being wonderful.

In the end, we accomplished our mission - we didn't finish dead last.  I haven't seen the results, but we know two boats started behind us and never passed us, maybe more.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #16...

September was a tough month for my fake bike trip.   I had a knee injury that niggled for weeks after Ironman, only in the last couple of weeks have I managed to snap out of it and feel normal again.

Total to date: 5459km.  Somewhere near Canyon, Yukon.

The goal of 6148km is still 689km away...  I have until December 20th to finish up, so just under 3 months.  The weather is starting to turn away from road riding toward mountain biking weather (read: less mileage!).

We'll see!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Rest of 2014...

It feels early to wrap up 2014, but since Ironman I have been battling some knee trouble, so well off my peak.

Two events left most likely.

Great Muskoka Paddling Experience!
The Great Muskoka Paddling Experience - we did this race last year, it was great (albeit humbling!).  This year we at least have the carbon paddles, that should help... but I expect we'll still be battling to not be last rather than anything more exciting than that.  We're still pretty new to paddling, but getting there.

The Harwood Singletrack Challenge - in previous years, this race was 50km of singletrack mountain biking.  It still is... but they took out the "relay" option, so instead of sharing the load (swapping every 10km or so) the only option is to do the whole thing.

This isn't a huge big deal, last year I did 110km at the 8 hour when I did it solo, but this year I'm feeling a bit lazier.  Guess I'll have to get out and "train" more.  Probably a good thing?


I had some knee trouble which has finally relented, but it's set me back and a bit too late in the season to try to come back from it.  I'll keep running in training just to keep a base for next season, but not going to push it with any races.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Race Report: Logs Rocks and Steel 2014

Another year, another Logs Rocks and Steel is in the books.

Today was tough.  The conditions weren't bad like last year, but I have been battling knee pain and just haven't got the workouts in since Ironman.


The canoe went great, though.  We pulled away quickly from the other canoes, and were 3rd overall with just kayaks around us.  We had the fastest canoe of the day, I feel like it was by a pretty good margin.

Near the turn-around the cross wind was strong, really swung the boat around.  It was tough to keep straight and still alternate enough not to exhaust one side.  The entire way back we were into a headwind - some of the kayaks pulled out of reach, but they were solos and it was really teams we were worried about.

Run #1

A short hilly little trail run, about 1.5km.  My heart rate was through the roof, I just struggled to hang on to my partner's pace.


We seem to do well with our transitions, I think when the full results are in both of them will prove to have been quite quick.


What can I say... struggled with heart rate, had my rear brakes go completely soft after a small crash (ie. become useless!) only to later come back, navigational issues (that may have helped more than they hurt?)... it was just a big mess.

I don't love these trails, they're challenging but they don't have any flow.  Lots of rocks, roots, and mud bogs... I thought maybe last year with the rain it was a one-off, but this year it was still just not that fun.  Maybe I'm just being a whiner, or maybe it's down to personal preference, but I really couldn't wait to get out of the trails and onto the road - and ultimately off the bike.   For a guy who likes biking that's a bit not great.


The run felt OK, but we got passed by one team (relegating us to 2nd - no title defence this year!) and a couple of solos.  At the end the 3rd place team was coming at us hard, I could see them when I looked over my shoulder, but we managed to stay ahead - not by much, though!


I feel like we've kind of run our course at this one (so to speak), at least on the Wolf Course.  We won last year, finished on the podium a few times, if we go back it'll be more of the same I'd expect...  not sure I loved it enough to go back, we'll see what next year brings.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Paddling the Black River in Sutton/Baldwin, Ontario

We wanted to do a longer paddle today so we headed to the Black River.

Dam falls at Sutton
The river is basically three sections, divided by dams.

Lake Simcoe to Sutton

This is just over 3km, scenic, lots of homes/cottages.  Wide.  We put the boat in at the end of "King Street" in Sutton, paddled to Lake Simcoe, then back.


Sutton to Baldwin

We didn't have a chance to paddle this section as we just couldn't find a launch spot... it was incredibly frustrating!

Apparently the place to use is behind the Scotiabank on the main street in Sutton.  Another time.

Baldwin and up-river...

Another dam at Baldwin.  Again we had trouble finding a launch spot.  This fellow did a nice job summarizing the possibilities - he used a culvert in town, we ended up using an entry onto a creek at the bridge on Frog Road (east side of the river).

This section was great - you can go a long distance either way.  We first went down to Baldwin, where it is wide and very low current.  Then we went up-stream almost to Ravenshoe Road - it becomes very twisty, but lots of depth and no trouble (other than turning, turning, turning!).


All in all a pretty fun day, good paddle.  I would really like to pick up that section we missed, another time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Race Preview: Logs Rocks & Steel 2014

We are going back for our 4th try at Logs, Rocks and Steel!

This is an Adventure Race, but with a bit of a difference... most involve navigation, this one has a well-marked course, so it feels more like a triathlon (except with paddling, mountain biking and trail running).  Oh and way more laid back.

(There is a new navigation option this year for those who feel like getting lost in a pile of maps - have fun!)

Once again we will be doing the shorter "Wolf Course".  The long course is on the menu for one year, but this won't be the year.

Last year we finished as the top team on the Wolf Course.  Our canoe went really well as we had expected, which put us in a lead we never relinquished.  This was less fun that it sounds, as we had no idea who was behind us and how close they might be.  The bike was wet and washed out, slippery rocks everywhere, it was a tough slog... and even in the final 400m of the run we were pushing as if someone was about to come around the corner at any second.

This Year

I'm expecting some improvement in the canoe, since we invested in some new paddles and have more time in the boat under our belts.

Hopefully it's not pissing rain so the bike course is a bit more ridable, lots of wash-out last year.

Should be fun!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #15 - Yukon, ho!

5071km in the books in my fake bike trip.  Whew.

This puts me near Morley Lake in the Yukon.  Apparently it looks like this:

1083km to go.  Now that Ironman training is done, I'm shifting more to mountain biking, which is far more about time than distance.  I will try get in a few long rides to put me over the top, there are still several good months left before the snow flies!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beyond Ironman... What Next!?

2014 isn't dead yet!  Still a lot of cycling and running to be done, not to mention paddling.

A few things I'm considering, I'll whittle this down to just a few events.
  • September 6 - 5 Peaks Kortright (10-14km trail race) - knee too injured
  • September 20 - Logs Rocks and Steel (Adventure Race) - registered!
  • September 20 - Oshawa 5k Runway - don't have the speed to do this justice, off the list
  • September 20 - 5 Peaks Hardwood Hills (10-14km trail race) - registered for Logs/Rocks/Steel same day...
  • September 27 - Fall Epic 8 Hour (MTB)
    • I did this solo last year and it was indeed EPIC!  Over the 8 hours (!) I managed 110km of mountain biking, which is just stupid and crazy.  If I go back it will be in a team to lighten the load a bit, 2 riders would probably be ideal.
  • September 27 - Chase the Coyote - Trail Race!
  • September 28 - Ajax 1/2 Marathon
    • Did this one back in 2011, didn't go very well.  This race is far from my favourite, as the course is not very kind - quite hilly.  It's close to home, though, so if I don't do the mountain bike thing it's an option.  Update: running not back yet and won't be in time to do this justice - off the list!
  • October 11 - Great Muskoka Paddling Experience 
    • We did this one last year, it was amazing and fun.  Would be great to go back with all that we've learned and do it justice!
  • October 18 - Vulture Bait (25km/50km trail race) - sold out!
    • I did the 25km way back in 2009 after my first Ironman... wouldn't mind going back, if I can find a bib.  Who knows, maybe 50km?
  • October 18 - Hardwood Singletrack Challenge (25km/50km MTB)
  • October 25 - Horror Hill (25km / 6 hour trail race)
  • November 16 - Whitby 10 miler (ugh)
    • Don't do it.  Please.  Whatever thought you have in your head, just don't do it.  You know who organizes it, you know how bad it will be.  DON'T.  But so very close to home... 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ironman Mt Tremblant - Post-race Navel-Gazing

Warning: this post is entirely self-absorbed and really for my own reference... feel free to read it (it's out in public after all!) but my apologies in advance if you get nothing out of it!

First off, my Stravas: the bike and the run.


2009:  1:32:12 (2314/2595)
2014:  1:53:04 (2166/2289) (bottom 6%...)

Wow, over 20 minutes slower.  I didn't focus on the swim, but my pool swims were just as fast as they had been back in 2009.

The water was definitely choppier in Mt. Tremblant vs Penticton (where I did by 2009 Ironman) but I didn't feel that bad.  But results don't lie - that was a really, really bad swim... only 123 people did worse!

There was a bit of a current and I did struggle to stay along the buoys, so it could be part of the reason.  I know other people who were disappointed with their swims (but they were only ~10 mins off their target times) so could be a combination of lack of preparation and the conditions.


2009:  6:50:34 (1937/2595) - 26.3km/h
2014:  6:16:44 (998/2289) - 28.4km/h (top 44%!)

Overall placing after the bike: 1426/2289

Almost 35 minutes faster, on what I thought was a tougher bike course.  I'm in much better bike shape overall, I really focused on it but just in general over the years I've seen a lot of improvement.  Nice to be faster than most of the people out there on the bike!

Loop one average was 28.9km/h, loop two was 28.0km/h, so some fading, but never stopped passing people (and rarely got passed myself).  I felt the worst around 150-160km, on the road back into town.  It's where I felt some pretty serious fatigue setting in, before that I had been pushing pretty well.  The final climbs on the out-and-back were leg burners, but since I was passing people it felt OK.  Maybe that was a bit deceiving.


2009:  5:20:24 (1459/2595) 
2014:  4:30:30 (921/2289) (top 40%!)

Dropped almost an hour and moved way up the charts!  Again I have to credit bike fitness - I didn't focus much at all on my running, a couple runs a week, didn't do a whole lot of long runs... but when you start fresh it changes everything.  It's not a real run anyway, more of a shuffle and dodge!

Loop 1: 2:08:27 (6:08/km)
Loop 2: 2:21:44 (6:43/km)

I felt really good coming off the bike, but despite trying to hold back I eventually hit that point where it was really tough.  On the first lap I didn't walk much, other than the odd steep hill (especially on the way back).  On the second lap I walked all the uphills and short walks through aid stations.  For the most part I never hit that wall where your legs just stop running on you for no reason, I managed to keep even a slow run going outside of the ups and aid stations.


2009:  13:57:55 (1689/2595)
2014:  12:54:58 (1159/2289) (top 50% more or less)

Between when I came out of the swim and the finish I passed over 1000 people.  Psychologically that helped me a lot in the race, always moving forward with people in front to chase.  Ultimately I had the endurance and just got better as the day went on as others faded - that feels wonderful.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Race Report: Ironman Mt Tremblant

I am an Ironman!  Again!

Final result was 12:54, just over an hour faster than my 2009 Ironman.  Placed 1159 out of 2500 or so - cracked the top 50%.  I'm delighted!


I'm not that delighted with the swim, though.

I started at the back of my wave and stuck with the wide line, trying to keep out of traffic.  For the most part this worked out OK, didn't get any serious elbows.

The way out seemed to go on forever... I think the current was against us.  As we got further out it got quite choppy.  It didn't disrupt me too much, I was calm and felt smooth.

The way back felt easy, except the current was now pushing me away from the course.  It was a constant struggle to keep near the buoys.

Still, I felt good, so when I got out and saw the time I was disappointed.  1:53!  Last ironman I was at 1:35... calmer water but still.  So at that point I was in 2217th place.

Transition to bike

Long run to transition, I wasn't that quick changing.  Ah well.


The good thing about a bad swim is you get to spend the bike passing lots of people.  By the end I had jumped to 1440th, almost 800 places!  Fun.

Took me awhile to settle in.  The first out and back had a tough headwind on the out, but wow was it fun on the way back!  Used the aero bars a lot.

It wasn't that hot so I adjusted my nutrition plan to have more gels than sports drink.

The last 15km out and back of each lap is absolutely brutal.  Steep climbs, get out of the saddle kind of stuff.  At 75k it was tough, at 165k it hurrrrt.

Managed a 28.7km/h average over the 180km which I was pretty happy with, and felt good and strong right to the end.  All those bike miles paid off!

Transition to Run

I was a bit out of it, almost forgot to change my shorts.  Haste makes waste!


I felt really good as I started the run, again a tribute to my bike fitness.

But at about 7km I felt some knee pain.  It got worse... it was the same pain as I had at the New York marathon that ruined my race... tight hip flexors causing hamstring overuse and tightening that pulls on the knee... bad!  I stopped to walk and really worked on getting the glutes firing to give the hamstring a break.  It never totally subsided, but didn't get any worse - whew!

The most diabolical part of this course is having to run through the finish area at the end of loop #1, only to pass right by and leave town again.  It's gutting.

My second loop started out rough, miles were catching up to me.  I walked the hills and aid stations, trying to get back on top of things.  My head hurt a bit, I was worried it could be the start of hyponatremia (low salt) so I started grabbing chicken broth at the aid stations.  Not sure if it helped but I definitely started to feel better.

I decided not to check my overall time... weird for me as I'm usually a slave to information, but I didn't want to pressure myself into a pacing mistake.  I just tried to stay within myself and keep eating as much as my stomach would tolerate.

4:30 (6:24/km) - I'm pretty happy with that!  I think it'll stack up well against the field, the ironman marathon is a beast.

The Finish

The best thing about this race is the finishing area.  It's amazing.  The crowds are lined up all the way back through the village, the cheering is maniacal!  So many people, you really feel like a rock star for those 30 seconds.  There's no feeling quite like it in the world.

My last triathlon?

It feels like it.  It's no secret I dislike swimming, and this result is about as good as it gets for me.  There are other things to keep me interested, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking, adventure racing... I want to stick to things I really enjoy.  Who knows, maybe the siren call of ironman will pull me back someday, it's big and special.  For now I'm going to ice all that hurts and focus on other things.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

10 days to Ironman...

Just 10 days to go to Ironman Mt. Tremblant.

I had a bit of a tricky ride on the weekend - went long and slow, but hit a wall and limped home.  Also seemed to have some hamstring pain, which wasn't cool at all... so I took a couple of days completely off - I figure I can do more damage by what I do than by what I don't do.

Feeling good today, so going to do a slow run, and hit the bike tomorrow or the day after for my last long (slow!) ride.

Also starting to do a bit of planning.

Swim Planning

Mt. Tremblant has 14 buoys on the way out, 14 more on the way back, plus 2 buoys for the turn-arounds.  It works out to about 150m per buoy (more or less)... so that will hopefully keep my brain occupied.

Supposedly it's 1800m out, a 200m connector, then 1800m back to shore.  Also good to know... that little short 200m will feel longer than it sounds I'm betting, for me that's still a few minutes of swimming.

Bike Planning

I printed off the elevation and marked up where the turn-arounds are, as well as some noted tough sections (ie. the Champlain out-and-back).  Also bought a few bottles of Gatorade to have on my bike to start, so I can chuck them at the first aid station for fresh bottles.

Run Planning

This one I'm really not thinking that much about... I know how it feels, so pacing and such are nice ideas but really it'll just be "run what you can".  There are some hills and such, but I don't think I'll buy much from planning for them...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Biking from Whitby to Barrie

Figured I'd post this in case someone else is ever doing it.  Maybe it will come up in a google search or something?   We were visiting friends on the same day I needed to get a long ride in so figured I would bike up (and catch a ride home).

142km (thanks to a wrong turn - planned for 138km!).

Strava link.

I cobbled the route together from a few sources, turned out mostly OK.  A few decent climbs (Mt. Albert and Bradford being among the toughest!).

If I were doing it again I would try avoid Barrie Street out of Bradford - that was busy.  Also Line 11 just north of there had some gravel bits - nothing too bad, but unexpected so probably better to go one north and use Line 12.  The turn for Big Bay Point Rd is crazy confusing... make sure you go left!

All in all a pleasant ride through some nice communities along Lake Simcoe I'd never seen before.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ironman Training - Can't Ignore the Siren Call of the Trails

Haven't had much chance to mountain bike lately with all the Ironman training, so figured I'd make the time.

Took both bikes (mountain bike + road) up to the forest, rode 2 hours in the trails with my buddy, then hit the road for 3 more hours to make up a full long ride.

Switching bikes was as jarring as the bike-to-run transition in a triathlon!

The road bike felt like a toy compared to the mountain bike with those little skinny tires and skinny light frame!  I don't usually get that side-by-side comparison.  The style of riding is entirely different as well.  The mountain bike efforts are very bursty and lactic acidy, while the road style is so much more of a steady grind. 

No idea if this kind of mixed training has any additional benefit, other than being a hoot! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ironman Taper - Keep it Short?

Just reading a few articles about tapering... many suggest that for Ironman, instead of the 3 or even 4 week taper many do, keep it to 1-2 weeks tops!

For example, this article.

From personal experience - I have found long tapers not particularly effective for myself, so I am inclined to keep the endurance work up right until the last week...

So here's my plan...

Week 34 (This week) - Endurance, decreasing speed/intensity work
Week 35 (July 21-27) - Endurance, endurance, endurance
Week 36 (Jul 28-Aug 3) 3h bike @ race pace, 40 minute run @ race pace... everything else long and lower intensity
Week 37 (Aug 4-10) - last long run mid-week, last long ride end of week... low intensity
Race Week (Aug 11-17) - short bikes/runs/swims to keep sharp but not long

Fake Bike Trip Report #14 - Welcome to B.C.!

It's been awhile since I updated my fake bike trip status.

In between I have had some big weeks of 240+km, even one of 255km.  I biked over 1000km in June.  It's been great!

Total mileage now sits at 4019km.  This puts me somewhere near Fort St. John, B.C... well past my original goal of Edmonton, and getting ever closer to my revised goal of making it to Delta Junction, Alaska.  Just 2129km to go!

No sweat.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Race Report: Peterborough 1/2 Ironman 2014

You know I had a bad day when the swim was the highlight of my race.



Got in early to get a little time in open water, having not worn my wetsuit in ... well, a few years.

My goal was just to be calm, rotate well, and have a smooth swim.  It went great for the most part.  The only trouble I had was on the first lap, the sun was right in our eyes and I couldn't spot the course markings.  I followed the swimmers in front of me, who went rather wildly off course... so that cost me some time, but no worries.  Subtracting the run from the lake to transition, I was pretty close to the ~45 minute mark, which is where I wanted to be.  Consistent with my previous Ironman - slow and steady.  Slow, mostly.

Transition 1

I had some massive hamstring lock-ups in transition... so I ended up doing this:
How not to do transition.  Where all the bikes at?

For those not familiar with transition technique - this is pretty bad technique.  I'm just glad the race official (*ahem*) was there to snap this photo.  The jerk.


I didn't really feel comfortable on the bike at any point, not totally sure why.  The way out we had a tailwind, I picked off a few stragglers early on, but wasn't passing as many people as I had hoped.  It was a pretty small field, though, so might have just felt that way.

The hills were pretty tough, but way worse was the wind - holllly!  It killed me on the way back.  In my infinite wisdom I neglected to put my aero bars on the bike - mistake!!!  I managed to pass a bunch of people on hills, but I was already feeling a lot of fatigue and just not that "on".  My average speed was something in the 29's km/h, not what I had hoped for.

Transition 2

This transition was equally bad, although less comical (and nobody took a picture).


I started out feeling surprisingly OK.  I looked at the watch and realized I only needed to maintain about a 6:00/km pace or so and I'd be in under 6 hours. I figured I'd kill that and end up with an OK time.

Except within a few kilometers my early 5:12/km pace went from feeling easy to hard to not even remotely possible.

I don't know if it was the heat, my poor preparation, or something else... but I was completely smoked by the first hill.

I wasn't alone - misery loves company, and I had a fair bit of it.  And these weren't couch-surfers overreaching - lots of Ironman tattoos and gear back there, some fit looking people who were just getting beat up.  Some people can deal with the heat, some can't.  I can't.

I was taking 3 Gatorades and pepsi at ever aid station - whatever my stomach would hold down.  Every so often I'd have a flicker of pace, things would feel OK, but I couldn't sustain it.  Walked hills, it was just brutal.  I'm actually surprised that I ended up anywhere near 6:00/km - it was awful.

I managed to find a little something for the finish - it was net downhill and there were a bunch of guys behind me motivating me by their very presence.  But it felt bad.


I didn't give this distance anywhere near the respect it deserves and I paid the price.

Figured I'd wing it without aero-bars - mistake.  Had a few drinks last night - mistake.

The one thing I did get right was nutrition - I don't think I could have consumed any more than I did, I really hit the Gatorade / Heed hard, and took in as much as I could stomach.  5 bottles on the bike plus a whole bunch on the run.

Also the one good thing about hitting the wall is knowing you can push through it.  If I can get anywhere near a 6:00/km pace at Ironman I'll be pretty darned happy.  I think it's possible.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Race Preview:Peterborough 1/2 Ironman

This will be my only triathlon this year other than Ironman itself.  And it's already a gong show...

Last ride, I dropped the chain on a climb.  It jammed, badly, between the carbon frame and the smallest chainring... upon examination it had dug right through the paint and into the carbon itself!

Nooooooo!   My beautiful new bike!

Took it in yesterday, the guy seemed certain it was no big deal and said they see it all the time.  Bad design, that!

In any case, I'm on pins and needles hoping my bike is OK.  As a backup plan i can always toss road tires on my cyclocross bike just to get to race... hopefully doesn't come to that though.

Update: my bike is OK!  Fixed and ready to go!

Meanwhile I managed to get in a long 1850m swim straight through.  Felt OK, just a bit boring (74 lengths... Zzzzz).  I haven't been in open water this year but shouldn't be a problem, been there, done that, and no major expectations.

Goal is just to go through all the disciplines and see if I'm missing anything.  The run is famously hot and shadeless so pacing will be a game time decision.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Race Report: Tour de Waterloo 2014 (130km)

Passed a few of these today - owned!!!
Well that was pretty eventful!

My Race

I had no expectations, and a large Indian buffet and a few pints last night at a wedding didn't exactly set me up for success.

As soon as we got to the "race on" point, the front guys hammered it... and the group splintered.  There were a few climbs, too, which landed me waaaay in the red.  Not a good start, I was very worried I'd be riding 133km solo.

In fact I ended up in a very small group, just 4 of us.  We took turns but if this was it, this was going to be a pretty long day.

Fortunately we began to collect people, from both ends - some large faster groups caught us, and some folks getting popped came back to us.  It ended up being really great - this would be the group I'd be with the rest of the day.

My buddy gave me some advice - to be at the front at the hills so if my climbing pace wasn't up to snuff I would not lose touch by the top.  This helped a lot, I managed to stick with the group on every climb.  In fact by the end I was leading us over the hills!

Big moment #1 - a guy swerved into me and our handlebars locked together.  I thought I was going down, fortunately neither of us overreacted and we managed to stay up and get separated.  Whew!

Big moment #2 - on a climb my chain popped off!  This was at a horrible time - things were just kind of gearing up for the finish.  I was near the front but even so, in the time it took me to stop and get it back on, everyone had passed... I killed myself going up the hill, and then on the downhill, even going so far as to draft the car that was trailing us!  But I made it back to the group... whew.

Coolest moment - sprint finish!  We got to the final 1km as a big bunch, I managed to get myself near the front, flew down the final descent and then absolutely hammered it Cavendish-style to the finish... as we battled for the very coveted 143rd place.  Still, it was cool.  Felt awesome.

Result: 3:46:27 (35.2km/h) - 148/258.

Thing I Did Right - it was a hot day, probably hottest so far this year... I brought 3 bottles with me but that was not enough, so had to depend on the aid stations.  At about the half-way point I saw one ahead, so I got myself to the very front of the group - managed to get two bottles of Gatorade and stuff them in my jersey.  A guy joked that it looked like I was "running a convenience store"... I bet by the end he wished he'd thought of it though!  Grabbed another bottle at a later aid station, so 6 bottles total - and I drank every drip of them.


Despite the cool moment, I didn't actually enjoy most of the race.  I felt tense for most of it, always having to anticipate what the people around me were about to do (and sometimes that was impossible as they did some craaaaazy things!).

Worse than the unpredictable people were the self-appointed group leaders, with their little unwritten rules... and instead of sharing those rules with the obvious newbies in the group, they just bitch at them.

I had one female rider get pissy at me because the pace line (that only existed in her head) didn't go the way she thought it should... I didn't go as far forward and take a pull like she thought I should.  Except there was no pace line, it had fallen apart several kilometers ago.  Besides, I was in this group to suck wheels, not to pull!  P.S. if you're reading this (you're probably not) - I beat you in the sprint for 143rd.  Suck it.

So that was my big realization today - I don't really like this group road riding with random strangers thing.  I'm more suited to the lone wolf triathlon training, or the off-road stuff.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Race Preview: Tour de Waterloo 2014

This is a 130km road race in the spirit of a Grand Fondo.  It's a race for some, a ride for others.

Race website

I did this one last year with very little road mileage under my belt, on my old Trek 1200.  Managed to stick with a good large pack of riders for the first 77km, but from there to the end I was mostly solo or with one or two others.

Result: 33.1km/h average, 153rd of 256

The average really demonstrates the benefit of being in a pack!  In fact I was almost 37km/h in the first 77km... way above what my normal speed would be for that distance.

This year I have my fancy new bike (Cervelo S2) and probably double the miles in my legs.  My average speeds on my solo rides have been good, and I'm climbing much better.

My biggest problem is always the hills - when we hit them, other guys jump out of the saddle and hammer it, and I find myself spit out the back.  I'm really hoping to avoid that this time... planning to get myself closer to the front whenever we approach a hill, so if I do fade back I can catch back on easier.

Should be fun!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Race Report: Moraine Adventure Relay 2014

Our 5th time at this 14-stage race, and we finished a very solid 3rd place with a team of just 4 people!  Very pleased.

This is a fundraiser for the Oak Ridges Trail Association - they maintain about 300km of trails in the Moraine area surrounding Toronto. 

Stage 1 - The Canoe

Total carnage.

We started with the elite and corporate teams (Golder & Associates, Mercedes and Mazda - big shout out to them for supporting the Moraine!)

From the start we were in 3rd, keeping good contact with the boats we knew we had to stay with.

But then we rounded the corner, and straight into a headwind.  The waves were coming right across the lake, almost 8km, and wow did they build up some steam.  The boat was bouncing all over the place, several times waves broke over the front.  If I am being totally honest - it was terrifying!

We kept our cool as best we could and kept paddling.  Two teams were pulling away a bit, when suddenly one flipped.  We paddled up to them, all had life vests and said they had to wait for the power boats to help - so we continued on our way, now totally freaked out!

Our boat had taken on a fair bit of water, and when we listed to either side it would slosh and almost pitch us over - very bad mojo.  I had to stop paddling and bail, there was just no choice... we lost a bit of time, but better than going over.

Meanwhile the boat in 1st place went over to the shore and got out entirely.  We figured we were leading!  Good lord!  Except they were just dumping water, soon they were back in and ahead.

A few boats caught up to us from behind at this point, with all the bailing and freaking out we were doing, but the water started to calm a little as we got further along.  Settled into a rhythm and things got better.  We weren't able to close the gap to 1st but we put a good chunk of time into everyone else - in the end we finished 2nd by about 5 minutes.  Felt amazing to overcome all of that and put in a result!

Stage 2

Our cyclist did a great job to catch the team that had finished the canoe ahead of us - only to be pipped at the very end by the team that had flipped!  They had some crazy amazing mountain bike kid.  Fortunately they weren't ready for the run, so we started Stage 3 with a bit of a lead.

Stages 4 and 5

My teammates did these runs valiantly, but this is where we tend to start losing touch with the top 2 teams, and this year was no exception... they have some gazelles.  Solid results from our guys, right on expectations.

From this point on, we were in 3rd.  Solidly.  Nobody catching us from behind, nobody we could catch in front, as long as we avoided disaster our day was pretty much cast.

Stage 6

I was back for my first run on a stage I have never done before. 

On the map this one looks like a bunch of straight roads with a few trails.  In reality there is a lot of trail, and it is not all that straight!  It was more challenging than I had expected, plus a few pretty healthy hills for good measure. 

There is one really pretty section, too, where you run along a bubbling creek for a few kilometers - very nice.

Stages 7 and 8

Two bike stages, our guys nailed both.  

Stage 9

My stage - this is a bike I have done before, it is almost all roads - mostly gravel, some pavement to start.  Then at the end there is a loose rock and sand section that is almost unrideable, just to keep you on your toes.

The big challenge was the wind... it was out of the Northwest, and I was going north and west!  Really had to dig deep on this one.

Stage 10

Nice run through Durham Forest, our guy was like clockwork again, bang on our estimates.

Stage 11

My stage.  I don`t know why I always take this one... I think it`s because it is so awful I feel bad giving it to anyone else - there`s only one year I let someone else feel the pain.

It starts out on road, then onto a nicely groomed trail.  But as you go further and further west, the nicely groomed trail turns into a weedy trail, and by the end you`re running on mushy muddy swampy nastiness... it`s a trail in name only at that point!

I did OK, but with 4 stages in me I was starting to really fatigue.  Finished as strong as I could and my day was done.

Stage 12, 13, 14, 15

The guys did great jobs on the remaining stages, closing out our race.  We weren't really racing anyone by this point, which wasn't as much fun as some previous years when we were neck-and-neck with other teams... but that`s just how things go sometimes.  Other than a very quick fix on a flat tire, everything went great and on target.


Another year in the books!  Lots of absolutely amazing volunteers and some great competitors out there, this race is just full of positive people.  I love it, and it is a great organization to help support.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Race Preview: Moraine Relay 2014

This race has become a staple of my season - year 5!

2010 - Our rookie year - "Trail Pythons" was our team.  We had a lot of fun, finished in the dark!  Got lost a bunch.
2011 - First year of "Blood of the Ridge" - showed promise but a few glitches kept us from the podium...
2012 - "Blood of the Ridge" returned with the right people to rock out a 3-way tie for first place!
2013 - Joined someone else's team - the "Ridge Racers",  only did two stages

2014 and we're back with a team of our own:  "Four Guys Walk Into a Bar". 

Why a new team? 

My buddy and I organized teams for 4 years, and it's a lot of work.  Getting everyone to commit, collect money, make sure they're where they are supposed to be on race day... I found it a lot to take on, especially when I had to race 3-4 stages.  Hard to focus on racing and managing everything at the same time.

By using only 4 people (2 of whom are us!) it's much easier.  Well, organizing is easier, doing 4 stages each... not so much.

We've always wanted to do the canoe as well, but with a large team it's never quite worked out.  This year we're doing it.

Also 4 guys sounds a little crazy.  I like crazy.

To the Moraine!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #14 - Saskatchewan!

Maidstone, Saskatchewan.

They appear to have literally made a stone.  In Maidstone.  Wild.

I am now 3056km into my fake bike trip from Whitby to Edmonton (and beyond!), which puts me just 313km from my original goal.

Last few weeks have been pretty good.  188km, 193km, and this week 275km!  My legs seem to be taking the mileage very well, I did a 130km ride today the fastest I've ever done anything over 30km without a draft.

As a bonus, my weight has been dropping (finally!)... so the hills are a bit easier.

No post about Saskatchewan would be complete without Pil.  If you like really awful beer, this Pil's for you!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Race Report: Canoe the Nonquon 2014

Updated June 12: We won our division!  First place in "Men".   We're both thrilled and a bit surprised!  Since everyone starts at different times, we had no idea until yesterday.  Really rewarding, we have put some time into it and we have come a long way!  Still a long way to go to compete with the real top dogs out there, but feels pretty good!

This was the 46th (!) annual Canoe the Nonquon event.  And my 2nd... here's the report from our first.

Last year - we had really just got into the whole canoe thing.  We had our 17'6" Jenson canoe, but we were total newbies.  Worst of all, once we left the Nonquon River, we entered the lake and hit the worst headwind we'd ever paddled against.  The last 8km felt like an eternity.

This year... no wind!  Beautiful day.

And - they cut 5km from the Nonquon river due to unspecified "river conditions".

So a much easier day.

There was still a pretty twisty river portion included, and this year it featured waaaay worse algae/weeds/lilly paddies.  The channel of clear water was really narrow, so an 17' foot canoe was far from ideal to navigate it!  We used our old wooden paddles to avoid breaking carbon on logs/rocks... it was a bit tough.  We were definitely faster last year through this section.

Then it opens into a wider river section, where we could switch to carbon fibre paddles.  What a difference - our speed went from the 7's up to the 8's and 9's (km/h) immediately.

We had less traffic to deal with generally, having started a bit earlier.  Picked off a few people early on.

As we exited to the lake, we caught "white canoe"... two really strong looking young paddlers, one man, one woman.  Hate to generalize (ok, I don't hate it that much!) but they looked like gym folk.  Strong.

We took a shorter line through some algae just after we caught them, fully expecting to emerge ahead and never see them again.  Wrong!  They busted their butts to keep just in front of us.  We ducked into their wake for a little, caught some draught... but then they seemed to run out of gas.  We moved to one side, passed them, and then put some serious distance between us and them in very short order!  It was rewarding, they had a good boat (but shite paddles)... but ultimately we'll have to wait for results to see how we stacked up against allll of the hard-core canoe crowd.

Ultimately it felt good.  The carbon paddles made a big difference, and it was interesting over the 2+ hours that my arms didn't fatigue at all - suggests I'm paddling with the "right" bits, ie. the core, not the arms.  We're getting better - by the time we're as old as the average marathon paddler, we should have this thing licked!

Next week we're paddling in the Moraine Relay, can't wait to see how we measure up against the really awesome guys!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You will be fat forever. Give up now.

This is what obesity research allegedly confirms in this CBC article.

There's a disturbing truth that is emerging from the science of obesity. After years of study, it's becoming apparent that it's nearly impossible to permanently lose weight.
As incredible as it sounds, that's what the evidence is showing. For psychologist Traci Mann, who has spent 20 years running an eating lab at the University of Minnesota, the evidence is clear. "It couldn't be easier to see," she says. "Long-term weight loss happens to only the smallest minority of people."
Watch Kelly Crowe's report on the myth of losing weight tonight on The National
We all think we know someone in that rare group. They become the legends — the friend of a friend, the brother-in-law, the neighbour — the ones who really did it.
But if we check back after five or 10 years, there's a good chance they will have put the weight back on. Only about five per cent of people who try to lose weight ultimately succeed, according to the research. Those people are the outliers, but we cling to their stories as proof that losing weight is possible.

I'm a few years over that 10 year mark now, so that makes me the "outlier", one of the 5% who have kept the weight off.

I would humbly suggest that the reason 95% fail is not that it is "impossible", but rather that they didn't make a full lifestyle change.  Anyone can dump weight fast, but if you don't do it by means you can sustain for life?  Forget it, it's coming back (and it might bring friends!).

I'm a fat man living in a (reasonably) skinny body.  My weight is a constant struggle for me, and it will be until my last day.  Even when I am in full Ironman training, 10+ hours a week, losing weight is very hard.  And I know if I go back to lots of eating out, take out, and sitting on the couch... well, I'll go back to my old fat self, quickly.

Weigh yourself daily.  Exercise.  Eat healthy food.  Be an outlier.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Not me, but another victim of over-training!

My last few workouts have felt pretty lousy.

Wednesday I went for a ride, and felt really fatigued.  Legs were sore on every big effort, heart rate wouldn't come up like it normally should.  My average pace was fine, but something wasn't clicking. 

These can be the early warning signs of "over-training".  Last week especially, I did over 10 hours of workouts coming off of a 25km trail race the weekend prior that really bagged me... and some non-training efforts, like landscaping, that I don't count but definitely did not help matters.

As much as it kills me, I took a couple of days off just to recharge. 

Tomorrow I will do a short run and swim to get back my legs, and hopefully I feel good again for my long ride on Sunday!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fake Bike Trip Report #13 - less than 1000km to Edmonton...

It's been a few (busy) weeks since I last checked in on my fake bike trip.  A race and some good mileage, so now I'm up to...

... 2400km on the nose!


This puts me somewhere near Wynyard, Saskatchewan.  

Edmonton is now less than 1000km away... by early June I should be done my original goal.

Alaska is looking tough... we'll see how it goes.  I should be getting in around 1000km a month for the next 3 months, so should be possible!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Race Report: Seaton Trail Race (25km)

Well that was a bit of a disaster.

Panic at the Start

I got there in plenty of time, picked up my bib, and was sitting in my car.  About 25 minutes before the race I decided it was time to put on my shoes.

Horror of horrors - I had forgotten my orthotic inserts at home!  I briefly considered racing without them, but there wasn't even an insole (just a hard bottom) - so I bit the bullet and decided to drive home to Whitby.

Whitby is too far to get to and back in 25 minutes... I called my wife in a panic and had her drive them out toward me, met her somewhere near halfway.  I broke several traffic laws (I won't say which ones in case the long arm of the law reads blogs)... but somehow I made it to the start with about 1 minute to spare.

Damn!  This is not the mindset you want to be in when the gun goes off!

The Race

The first few kilometers were deceiving... pretty easy, downhill a bit, and the full force of the heat hadn't kicked in.  I was doing well.  With all the adrenalin of the orthotic-panic, I likely went out a bit too fast, but nothing I shouldn't have been able to recover from.

But it didn't take long for me to realize that wasn't going to stick.

The Heat - I'm not good with the heat at the best of times, but with our cold winter and late start to spring, I'm not even close to acclimated to heat and humidity.  This was the warmest day we've had all year, and definitely the most humid... it killed me, right from the start.  By the end I was pretty dehydrated and wasted.

The Hills - This is a "hiking trail" and apparently people enjoy hiking to the top of the valley, diving back into it, then hiking back up, and repeating this several times!  There were some dark moments for me.  Really, I should have anticipated a tougher slog, the trail crowd loves a challenge.

The Trails - Great for the most part!  A little mucky in some places but really nothing too technical or challenging.

The River Crossing - With about 2km to go (a little more than that actually!) you have to cross the river.  It wasn't all that deep, maybe mid-way up my shins.  It felt amazing... I was so happy to get some nice cooling on my poor feet.  I was very tempted to jump right in head to toe and cool off.

My Time - 2:39:36 - 27/84.  Crazy slow pace, but this was tough business!  I'm really happy with that placing actually, good to know it was hard for more than just me.

The Volunteers - were awesome, great people.  Actually everyone was really nice, and the organization was excellent.  Course marking was fantastic.

All in all a pretty rough day, but I enjoyed the trail and the race was well done.  I'll have to come back and do it justice, maybe next year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Race Preview: Seaton Trail Race (25km)

Race website

This Saturday!

This is a 25km trail run on the Seaton Trail just north of Pickering (or in Pickering I guess?).

I have never seen the trail, but I have heard this one is a bit tough.  There is some kind of river crossing that people talk about, and lots of little hills.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Race Report: Paris to Ancaster 2014

There was mud.  Lots and lots of mud.

And there were sticks.  Lots and lots of sticks.

And for the second straight year, one of those sticks flipped up and found its way into my rear derailleur.  Once again, the hanger did its job and failed spectacularly, screwing my race.


The Start

I was in wave 2, which despite it's name is the 3rd wave to start (there is an elite/VIP wave before wave 1).

This time we lined up very early.  I was actually surprised how few people were in the corral when we got there - we found ourselves way up in the 2nd row.

This paid off in spades... right from the start I was in the top dozen or so of the wave with some very strong riders.  As we trundled along the rail trail I found some excellent wheels to jump on.  I was putting in a fair bit of effort just to stick with them, but we were flying and I was as high up as 2nd place in our wave at one point!  I didn't let that wheel go lightly!!

Farmer's Field #1

As we left the rail trail the strongest in our group pulled away.  This was OK, I wanted to settle in a bit and recover.  Not easy while tackling the rolling hills of that farm lane though, but I managed.

Gravel Roads

This section is a bunch of rollers.  I didn't have anyone to draft off for most of it, so just got into the drops and tried not to put in too much effort.  Finally a group caught me so I tagged on to the back.

Highway Ditch & Short Muddy Trail & Farm #2

This part was muddy again this year... I rode most of it, dodging between guys who weren't as... capable?  Felt strong as I left that section through the farmer's field (which was wet and soggy).

The Orchard

For some reason I remember this as being muddier and more like trails, instead it was fast gravel.  Just settled in and pumped out a decent pace.

Little Rolling Road

Got on the wheel of some beast of a mountain bike guy... he was just killing it, he was big, and created a huuuge nice pocket.  It was great.  I took my turn for a bit, life was good!

Mud Rail Trail

This one has this dark black mud, kind of like sand, and lots of twigs.

And this is where my race ended.

All I heard was the familiar "plunk plunk BLAM" of a chain lunching itself, looked down hoping to find a branch I could dislodge and continue, instead saw my rear derailleur hanging in a twisted mess of chain and twig.

Again.  Two years in a row.

In frustration I threw my bike into the trees.  Then I retrieved it, and got to work.  I had a spare hanger, yay!

Changing a hanger takes time.  I made it that much worse when I screwed up the chain routing, and couldn't get my quick link to unlink!  Long story short I did a quick fix, and five minutes later my chain went ka-pow and I was dead in the water again.

I struggled with it for a bit, desperately needing a quick link to get back going... finally a kindly gentleman riding by stopped and gave me one!  I was over the moon, I was going to finish the race today.

Total time between the two stops: over 37 minutes.  It felt even longer, it was awful.  I'm not great at fixing bikes, but with the race pressure and everything it just made me that much suckier at it.

On the Road Again

Once I got going I was waaaaay back in the wave 3 folks.

Now I just want to say something before I go on.  Anyone out there given' 'er at Paris to Ancaster is awesome, front or back of pack.  Just lining up at the start line means you're willing to take something on that the vast majority of people wouldn't dream of.  So absolutely no disrespect.

But because I was now back there, I had nobody going my pace to draft with/off, and when we got to tight sections sometimes it was tricky to get through.


Went through the loose gravel farm lane, then through the town (village?  hamlet?)  of Harrisburg.  Every year a kid puts a ramp in the road and I'm always too concerned about my race to hit it.. this year I was so far back I said "f it" and boom, nailed it (to the applause of the family).  Awesome.  Those little things make the race special!

Middle of the Race

Rail trail, some roads, it all kind of blurs together... I was just moving on up as best I could.  There's a section off Powerline Road that's a muddy little road, that's where I DNF'd last year... still muddy, still good, got past it (yay!).  More roads.

New Section: Rectangle of Death

I don't know what they call it, but there's a spot where we used to turn left on the rail trail and head toward the finish... instead we turned right and headed away from it.

This could not be good.

First edge of the rectangle - fast rail trail.  Good.
Second edge - fast gravel road.  Still good.
Third edge - fast gravel road... ooooh wait, suddenly we're punted into a muddy grassy soul-sucking pace-sucking field!!!  Good lord.  This continued through the fourth edge, it was really tough slogging.  The landowner lady was out there welcoming everyone, to which most riders were shouting "thank-you!"... it was pretty and a tough challenge, but tough is the key word.  If your legs showed any weakness, this was a pretty tough nail in the coffin.

Rail Trail Again

Back to fast rail trail ... excepppppt there was a headwind.

I was still picking people off one by one, though, but nobody to draft off of - it was tough.

Then I had a new calamity.  I came on a particularly large group of riders (probably a dozen) who were 3-wide across the whole trail.  I called out the customary "on your left!", at which point the lady on the far left pulled over.  Just as I pulled out to pass her a rider came flying by GOING THE OTHER WAY!

Not someone part of the race, just a guy who decided this was a great day to go the opposing direction of a race.  I guess it's his right, but damn, I didn't see that coming at all.  The 3-wide was a bit annoying too, just a bunch of people not really thinking.  Me included I guess, should have been a bit more careful.

Long story short - I ended up off the trails in the dry bush.  A few scrapes, got back up, and kept going.  Eventually caught up to the people, I didn't say anything but I was still steaming.

Mud Chutes

After a few road bits we finally hit the mud chutes.  I did my best to ride them, but there was so much traffic and people getting off to walk, it was impossible.  They were soupy and muddy, pretty much as bad as ever.

The Final Climb

Good lord this climb is a beast.  I rode the entire thing, though, didn't walk a step, I think that's a first.  No cramping!


3:19:49... ouch.

I know it's not apples to apples, but if you subtract the 37:26 I spent fixing my bike it'd be a 2:42:23 finish.  It's hard to know for sure - I got a 40 minute break nobody else did, but I also lost all opportunity to draft and was held up a fair bit by slower riders.  Not an exactly science, but I'm pretty sure a top-400 ride was there for me today with my fitness level.  I felt awesome all day.

Best of all, I had a blast.  From hitting the ramp, to the generosity of the guy who gave me the quick link, to the people cheering the final climb - it was just as excellent an experience as always.

See you in 2015.