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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Garmin 910xt vs 310xt

I have had my troubles with Garmin.

Two separate Forerunner 305's have died on me.  I finally upgraded to the 310XT - which after just over a year of use has decided its power button should work only intermittently.

Needless to say, it was time to shop around.  So I did, but the reviews on alternatives weren't always glowing either, and they mostly cost several times what a Garmin that meets my needs costs.

Enter the Garmin 910XT.  Best Buy Canada had them on for $149 CDN, which compared to the initial price tag was stellar.  At that price, I can throw Garmins away every few years and still be ahead of the alternatives!

The 910XT is their multisport watch, the next evolution of the 310XT (and the 305 before it).  Most of the features cater to swimming, cycling, and running.  Swimmers will enjoy the automatic lap detection in the pool, for cyclists it supports cadence meters and indoor trainer speed sensors, and it's small enough to not feel ridiculous on a run.  It's also really quick to switch between sports.

Feature-wise it's hard to beat.

Differences from the 310XT

What makes this worth the money?  Well if you have a 310XT already that works, you can probably pass on the 910XT, unless you really want those swimming features.  For running/cycling it's nearly identical.

Screens are nearly identical in size, functions are pretty much the same.  The form factor is nicer, so it's a little smaller and feels better on the wrist.  It found satellites much faster (even indoors) which was nice.

It's supposed to have some barometric altimeter to give better altitude readings, not sure how you'd test that (and most sites you upload to already adjust that data).  Might result in better speed and distance readings?  I never found the 310XT to be all that wildly off anyway, though.

All in all I'm happy with the purchase.  For now... I'll let you know in a year if it still works.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Race Report: Paris to Ancaster 2015

Nice day!

They have been trying to add sections to this race for a few years, and this year it finally dried out enough to do it.  70km instead of the old 60km... and I felt ever millimetre.

The Start

The usual mad rush to the rail trail.  We were seeded pretty far back, so took a little to get around some of the people who shouldn't have been in Wave 2.  I managed to hold wheels for most of the rail trail section, never going too far into the red, so it was a good start.

First Farmer's Field

This one is always tough, first real test of the legs.  My legs were OK... I didn't power up the hills, but I didn't get completely owned either.

To The Highway and Second Off-road / Farm

Crossed the highway, did the usual hike over the burm/ditch thing.  The off-road was much drier than it has been in the last few years, was easily ridable.  Across the farmer's field was a bit spongey, but after the last few years I wasn't complaining!

Around the Orchard

Big gravel/dirt road loop around an Orchard.  Conditions were fine, just sketchy enough for me to have an edge over some of the people around me.

Long, long road and NEW FARM!

This is new... instead of going directly to the second rail trail, we instead did a big square north to another farm, with another dirt trail type thing around it.  Very neat section, actually quite flowy and fast.  I got sick of the road pretty fast, though, especially into the headwind!

Second Rail Trail

Unlike the first rail trail, this is a poorly/non-maintained mud path.

This is where my race ended last year with a broken dérailleur hanger - this year, no problems.  It was still mushy and wild, but I kept out of the sticks and crap that hurt me the previous year.

Through Another Farm, Into Town... Third Rail Trail..... More Road......

Pretty uneventful, although by now I was feeling a bit of fatigue.  Which was unfortunate as this is barely halfway.

Skipped Farm!

There's one horse farm we used to do, but we skipped it this year.  It was a muddy spongey mess previous times, so I didn't miss it...

Cut-road through the bush

I don't even know what this is - just a long laneway type thing, almost looks like a road but it's really muddy and messy.

Fourth Rail Trail - part 1... another farm

This farm is really nice, but very energy-zapping...    slows you right down as you sink into mud.  Oh and there are pretty rolling hills!  Of energy-zapping squishy turf.  Tough stuff.

Fourth Rail Trail - part 2... another farm

Back onto the same rail trail, then ... another farm.  I had no lucky this year hitching a ride and getting a draft, others seemed to get onto my wheel more than I was able to return the favour.

Farm was fine this year - again, drier than usual.

Fourth Rail Trail - part 3... 

This felt like it went on forever.  All alone for most of it, and by now my energy just wasn't there.

Final Farm Type Thing

Rutted gravel road through a farm... uphill.  Felt rough, but everyone around me looked rough.  Misery loves company!

Mud Chute #1!

There are two of these, both usually nasty.  Not this year!  This one was totally ridable, top to bottom.  Well, not for a lot of people I blew past, but a few of us did it.

Mud Chute #2

This one wasn't ridable... usual muddy soupy mess, walked/ran down.  Lots of branches and logs and stuff too, pretty hazardous.

The Final Climb

By now my legs were really protesting.  I could feel the early signs of cramps, but I was managing that well.  Super low cadence, toughed it out up the hill, and most importantly I stayed on my bike and didn't walk.  Result!

The Finish

Crossed the finish line and... someone's toddler comes toddling out in front of me!  I smoked by brakes, and did a last minute evasive manoeuvre that thankfully manoeuvred around the kid - very close.  In my foggy haze I unleashed a tiny bit of profanity that I'm regretful of, but geez lady, watch your damn kids if you want them to, you know, live.


I am provisionally 637 of 1298 riders.  So slightly better than mid-pack.  Kind of what I expected, haven't had a great off-season and I'm behind (and fat).

It's actually my worst placing since my first P2A (not counting the last two seasons where I had mechanicals).  So that's not great, but oh well, I had fun and didn't completely embarrass myself, so it's a win.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Race Preview: Paris to Ancaster 2015

My 10th year at Paris to Ancaster!

Seriously who is this dork...

Damn that's me!  I can't remember what year.  It wasn't my first, though, or I would have been wearing a fleace (FLEACE!) hoodie.

I was a total NOOB.  I had never done any kind of race, at all, this was my very first.  We thought this must not be that bad since there was a tandem category - ha!  When the mountain bike people said it wasn't "technical" we took that to mean "easy" - ha! 

It took me almost 4 hours.  We cursed the whole way home at the stupid organizers of this stupid race.

And within a week we were plotting next year...

... and the year after that...

... and here I am 10 years later still plotting!

This race is literally where it all began for me - where going out for bike rides turned into racing and pushing, and striving to improve. 

I'm not in the greatest shape this year, but I'm still going to go out there and give 'er stink.  And I would still kick my 10 years ago self's ass.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Race Report: Uxbridge Icebreaker

The Course

Most people who find this blog post probably care more about the course and race than they do about my race, so let me start there.

In a word - beautiful.  It was on private property, a home and large chunk of forested land called "Skytop".  I don't know the history of the place, but it's just a little slice of mountain biking paradise.  They occasionally host races there, and in turn the race community helps them maintain their large trail network.

For April, it was really dry.  Just a couple of wet spots, but really nothing.  Awesome!

Singletrack was great, lots of flowing stuff.  LOTS of sharp climbs, up down up down.  Very challenging for me (I'll talk about me later though).  No stump jumping, just really fast flowy singletrack.  Great!  Of the 15km loop, I'd say a good 12km of it was singletrack, the rest double.

It was put on by Superfly Racing / Chico / BixeNXS / who the hell knows.  Lots of guys with different names doing stuff, and doing it well.  Top notch as usual from those folks.

My Race

Being "gravitationally challenged" (fat) plus "courage challenged" (chicken) did not prove to be a good combination.

Extra weight on the way up the hills... and hills... and more hills... omg why were there so many hills... really cooked me, early and often.

On the way down I tended to wuss out, at least compared to way some of those around me bombed down these awesome single track sections.  The second lap I felt like I brought a bit more courage, but maybe a 30km MTB race isn't the best first MTB ride of the season!

One last thing that worked to my disadvantage was feeling pressured from the folks behind me.  I hate holding people up, and because the singletrack was so long it was hard to avoid... I ended up pushing hard just to try to not screw other people up, mostly folks in waves behind me.  But it was inevitable!

At the end of the first lap, I seriously considered bailing... I felt so cooked.  But then I looked at my watch, and it was only just over an hour in.  I couldn't do just an hour and go home, that's lame, so I figured I'd go out and enjoy the second lap, pace myself.

The second lap I was almost entirely alone.  I didn't pass anyone, I didn't get passed (except by one guy who had cramped up but was clearly better than me and recovering!)... I really just enjoyed the property and had fun.  Sure, I occasionally saw folks on trails parallel, either ahead or behind me, but that's really it.

Next Up

Paris to Ancaster next weekend.  Totally different kind of race, my weight shouldn't be as much of a detriment, and not nearly as much climbing + time in the red.  Should go OK?  I hope?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Race Preview: Uxbridge Icebreaker 2015

Race website

A 15km or 30km mountain bike race on soggy spring trails... why not?

Edit:  Apparently the trails in Durham Forest (right next to where the race is) aren't soggy... so maybe it will be ok!

I signed up for the 30km, which might be a miserable experience.  On the other hand, it will be good mental preparation for Paris to Ancaster next weekend.

This week hasn't been wet and there's been some sun, so maybe it will be drier than I expect?  Please??

Either way, I'll treat this far more like an event than a race - just a chance to get out on some trails with some people and do some pedalling.  Should be fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Weight - Past and Present

I don't know how much value people will get out of this particular chart, but I'm a numbers geek, and having a visual just helps.

I have been recording my weight every day consistently for years.  I can't find the sheets from mid-2003 to 2008 - they exists, just not sure where!  In any case, you can assume I bounced around in the 190 range.

2008 - first full marathon.  Weight came down nicely.
2009 - first Ironman.  Weight was not low despite mega training
2010/11/12 - focused on PBs... consumed by them... managed my weight with ferocity!
2013 - mostly goofed around
2014 - Ironman #2... again, weight was not that low.  And after it was done... YIKES!
2015 - Trying to reverse the trend, numerous set-backs, but I'm getting back on track!!!

As you can see I have always struggled, but that 185lbs number (the 25 BMI point) has usually been a good wake-up call for me.  At the end of last year I really let that get away from me, so now it's going to be a big job to get back.  I'm up to it, though.