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Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Durham Hilly Hundred - 100km of hilly cycling pain and pleasure

What it Is

A 100km cycling route that features as many hills as could be found in Durham.

Where to Park

Captain Michael Vandenbos or All Saints High School in Whitby - both on Country Lane North of Rossland.

The Route

Here it is on Strava:

And my first crack at it:

Or gmap-pedometer:

Route Description

Most of the time you're either going up or down, so I won't highlight every slope... but here are some of the key hills.

4km - short steep little hill, wake up the legs
10.5-12.5 - Ashburn hill.  First test.
20-23.5 - Coates rollers.  Big rollers.
25 - not a hill but careful on Simcoe and Shirley Road - best to do when not too busy (avoid rush hour)
30-32 - Purple Hill.  Big.  Higest point of the ride.
36-38 - Blackstock Pain.  A couple very steep hills, 13-14% at times!  Leg burners
39-41 - Long climb, not terribly steep
43-44.5 - Long, steep climb
48 - short steep climb
54.5 - steep climb, medium length, but by now your legs are feeling it, right?
56.5 - another climb, not quite as steep
61 - long climb, not terribly steep
68-71 - rollers - going west they're not that bad (try east sometime)
74-77 - Howden rollers - paaaain.  Steep, up and down
79.5 - Up high again - short climb, but nice view at the top
81 - steep short hill!
96 - one last steep one... VERY steep.  Short.  But STEEP.

Enough?  I hope so!  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Race Report: RBC Run for the Kids 15km

Me ready to rock
(and breaking the rule about
not wearing the race shirt
before you run the race)
That went really well!  I wasn't expecting much, stepped on the scale this morning and 194lbs met me (first time I've been that high in ages) - so I figured this wasn't going to go well.

Final result: 1:14:01 (4:57/km)

Not bad!

No pressure, maybe it helped.  I felt my pacing was spot on - I was getting passed uphill near the start, but didn't panic and just let my pace drop.  Made it up on the downhills, passed quite a few people that way.

The course was pretty hilly, we went down into a ravine and back up, then into a park and down into the same ravine, and back up!  Pacing and patience, 15km is not so short that you can go balls-out and not pay for it later.

At the halfway point I was averaging about 5:01/km and was still feeling well within myself, so figured a sub-5:00/km was possible.  Steadily increased the effort until the last kilometer, then let it all out.  In the end I finished at 1:14:01 and a 4:57/km pace, which is really good for my current fitness.


People are so ridiculously impatient... one road crossing, there were people honking and honking, I could hear them from a kilometer away.  When I finally got there I saw a lady almost drive over the cop signalling her to stop - he slammed his hands on her hood, presumably partially to get her to not run him over (although partially in frustration I'm sure!).  

Just no love for events that close roads in our car city, even ones that raise millions of dollars for a good cause... ah well, that's life in the big city!  It actually got my heart rate up and probably helped me finish off with a good kick, so thanks. :)

The Race

My overall impression was very good - lots of drink stations, fully stocked with water/Gatorade.  Course was interesting and fun.  Vibe was super positive.

The only thing I didn't love was joining up with the 7km folks for the last kilometer... the timing wasn't great, we joined the slower people in the 7km race (people who had taken 40 minutes to get to their 6km point...) so there was a lot of weaving around to keep up to pace.  It was really wide, though, we had the entire southbound lanes of Yonge street (3 lanes?) so it wasn't that bad, but if they could push that 7km start back about 15 minutes it would have been perfect.

All in all a good time, will probably be back next year.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lighting and Cycling In the Dark

It's that time of year again... the sun goes down a little earlier in Toronto.  Gone are the hours and hours of evening sunlight, replaced with darkness.

Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3
Fine for being seen, not great for seeing...
Yesterday I was trying to make up a ride I'd missed on the weekend, but just needed more time than there was daylight.  I threw some lights on my bike that I had lying around and went for it.

The Darkness Experience

Motorists seem to give you a lot more room when you have lighting and it's dark.  I guess they don't quite know what they're dealing with, and they definitely see you (LED lights!).  I couldn't believe how much space I was afforded.

It's a bit spooky riding in the dark.  Headlights do weird things when they're coming up from behind, pretty neat.  You definitely focus on things that are closer since you can't see far down the road - that lends itself to a fantastic sensation of speed.  At one point I felt like I was just flying, looked down and I was only going 26km/h!

All in all it went pretty well, except........ I couldn't see.

Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3 LED Bicycle Lights

The rear blinking red light was great - piercing, even.  Very easy to see from afar.

The front light... not so much.  In fact I'd go as far as to say it's completely useless in lighting up what's on the road ahead.  On their web site, the "Beamer 3" is rated at just 21 lumens (measure of light output) - I can't even guess how low the "Beamer 1" was.  They don't seem to even make it anymore, possibly because it was completely useless.

OK not completely useless, I'm sure I could be seen, which was slightly less than completely terrifying when I was in the city with the street lighting.

But in the country?  Riding blind.  I could see maybe 10 feet immediately ahead, if that... and when you get up over 30km/h that is terrifying.  Good thing I knew the roads!

MEC Zinger 480

I went out and bought this light, based largely on the reviews.  480 lumens!  That's a lot of lumens.

$49 is a bit steep for a light, but being able to see the road will be wonderful.  I'll post a full review once I get a chance to try it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Race Preview: RBC Run For The Kids 2015

Race website

The Race

This is a fundraiser for Youth Mental Health initiatives at Sunnybrook Hospital.

There are three options: 5k, 7k, or 15k.

Registration is free!  Yay.  Well... except you need to raise $100 to participate for the hospital ($40 for youth, $20 for kids).  If you hit up a few friends/family $100 isn't really that much.  And it's for a good cause, right?  RBC generously matched employee contributions, so $50 could get you into the show.  Good deal.

My Race

I'll be doing the 15km.

I'm very far from peak running shape, just haven't been doing the miles and my weight is relatively high (high end of "normal" BMI).  So I don't really have any expectations here, just going to go out and give it all I've got and see what happens.  I'm thinking something around a 5:10-5:15/km pace, push at the end if things feel good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rollerblading (a.k.a. In-line Skating)

Thanks to my kids finding my wife's old blades, I got back on mine for the first time in ohhhh a decade.  I used to love blading!  Even played a bit of roller hockey back in the day.

I made it about 50 feet before *snap* ... broke the strap.  Guess the old plastic didn't hold up.

After some debate with myself about whether to fix them, I landed on buying a new pair.
K2 Power 90

New In-line Skates

They have really changed a lot since "my day".  The wheels have grown to up to 100mm... these are 90mm, feel huge!  The larger wheels really speed, and they can bump over lots of bigger stuff (curbing, etc) that my old blades wouldn't have done as well at.

The boot is also a lot more comfortable, they've managed to get more air into them rather than the originals (which were more like a ski boot).

Lots of straps, etc... just a really nice feel out there.

Popularity... rising?

No.  No it's not.

The clerks at the store almost seemed shocked someone was buying them.  Lots of previous model years on sale.  But hey, I'm not about being on trend, I'm about having fun and staying in shape - and they're just as fun as I remember.

In-line Races?

You bet!  I found one in Quebec, anyway.  They seem to be off-shoots of speed skating clubs.  This didn't exist (to my knowledge!) all those years ago, blading was more about hockey and/or beaches.

I might go just to be among my people, see who the heck blades anymore!  Did a trial 30km yesterday, not flat, included sidewalks and stuff, but it went pretty well so figure 42.2km isn't that hard.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2015 Weight Loss Goal Check

Et tu, scale?
Start of 2015: 195lbs
Goal: 175lbs

So instead... I actually managed to gain even more weight and was over 200lbs by spring.  A very food-intensive vacation and a string of illnesses tripped me up, big-time!  Had to totally scrap my plan and start over.


Since then, I've managed to bring my weight down to the high 180's (with a minor blip on my summer vacation a few weeks ago to over 190 gain - yeesh).

I am currently on an 11 day stretch where I'm holding myself to 2200 calories per day combined with 11 hours of exercise, Intermittent Fasting, and no alcohol.  So far so good.

Should work out to about 5lbs of weight loss.

175lbs seems like it's going to be tough, but I can get there, as long as I have the willpower!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Paddling the Grand River: Cambridge through Paris to Brantford

My buddy and I took a trip out to the Grand River today.  It was wonderful!

Paris - portage around the dam
We chose to do two of the sections from the book, Cambridge to Paris, and Paris to Brantford.  This ended up being about 40km end to end.  GPS is here.

Useful Resource #1: the book "Paddling the Grand River" from the Grand River Conservation Authority.  Excellent, had the portages and such all mapped out, as well as descriptions of the various portions of the river.

Useful Resource #2:  this web site, lists the various launch points along the river.  We had some trouble finding a suitable place at Gilkison Flats in Brantford, but the Ballantyne Drive access point was perfect, as was the one in Paris at the rail trail parking lot.

Railway Bridge Remnants between Cambridge & Paris
Logistical Advice: if you have your own boat, probably best to do what we did... park a car at the finish, then drive another car up to the start.  There are tour companies that drive people's cars up, but if you're a pretty good paddler then you'll probably want to do a longer trip than what they offer.  It took us 4h30 to go Paris to Brantford, we were full steam by any stretch.

About Those Tour Companies... we saw a lot of people out there, in rafts, tubes, canoes, kayaks, many from the tour companies.  Let's just say the paddles and equipment are very "recreational".  If you're out to goof around and splash and barely paddle, go for it, but anyone who is even moderately familiar with paddling will probably not be hugely happy with what they get.  I really didn't get the rafting/tubing - the rapids were very mild, certainly nothing that would give anyone a particularly big thrill.  More of a sightseeing floating down the river kind of thing.

Rapids and Rocks - There are some rapids all the way through - some are a bit freaky, but really nothing dangerous.  We banged the bottom of the canoe a lot, you really need to read the water and when you see disturbed water be careful, rocks are almost always right before it.  It would probably be better in the spring, or generally when water levels are higher.

Dam in Brantford
Dams - these are dangerous, so make sure you know where they are!  There were signs but I was expecting buoys and a marked off area - none of that was there, so it's possible to not notice and get one's self in serious trouble.  Be very alert!