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Monday, December 31, 2018


I was sick a lot (hopefully something I've figured out, lousy sinusitis!).  
I missed the Chicago Marathon as a result.
Hours down.
Kilometers down.

Worst of all ... weight was a struggle ... until I really found out why and reversed the damage.
June was the only real bright spot.

We did the new course of Storm the Trent - that was awesome.  

And then the 24 Hour MTB race tag-team - first time, it was fun, great learning experience!  We'll be back for 2019.  Discovered riding at night in the woods in the process, which is a real thrill.


I have one goal.  I will lose weight.  And I finally figured out how.  

I know not everyone is with me on this ride - but I'm now using a low-carb and intermittent fasting approach.  The fasting especially has been remarkable.  From September to Christmas I was down about 10 lbs overall - I've gained back a couple over the holidays, but as the clock strikes midnight I'm ready to rock.

This weight is going bye-bye.


Storm The Trent - going back, this time to do the Trek distance.  Canoe, mountain bike, run, navigate - it's a wicked awesome fun adventure.

24 Hours of Summer Solstice - going back, tag-team again!  New bike should ease the bumpiness, give me more comfort over the ~12h of riding I'll be doing, and more confidence.

Muskoka River X - stepping up to the full distance, 130km!  It's a canoe race.  We've done the shorter 80km before, but this is a 20h+ adventure, and includes up-stream paddling.  Lots of portages.  It's going to be painful and awful - and AWESOME.  Obviously.

Chicago Marathon - signed up again after missing last year.  This year I'll be there.  And I'll be light.

Really looking forward to the adventure!  I know there will be highs and lows, but I have a good feeling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Weight Loss at 3 Months

The plan was really just to try Intermittent Fasting, but to be more aggressive with the fasting.

The Obesity Code

I based my strategy on "The Obesity Code" by Jason Fung.

He theorizes that we are fat because of insulin resistance, and that the best way to fight it is to spend more time in a low insulin state.  He recommends intermittent fasting as the primary tool.

Everything in his book spoke to me - the way I was hungry all the time (ALL the time), the way that I would do 10h/week of exercise and still gain weight, the way that calorie counting worked for short term but my weight would always, always come back...

Without further ado - here are my results so far.

The blue dots are the daily measurements - they fluctuate a lot, based on when I was fasting/exercising/etc.

In 3 months I've lost about 10 pounds.

For people who have followed my blog and life, you'll know I've tried to lose weight over and over.

I had success with counting calories, for years.
I added in exercise - copious amounts.  Ironman!
When my weight would go up - I'd count calories again.

But it became harder and harder.

If you believe Fung, it could be that my insulin resistance simply got worse and worse.  I believe this, partially because I had a blood test where my doctor told me so!  I was on a bad road, and I feel like carbs played the lead role.

The first 6 weeks...

Some of the fasting time isn't actually on that chart - the weight just didn't come off immediately.  It took about 6 weeks for anything to happen, which felt like an eternity.

Then one day... the weight started coming off.

Actually before that... I remember one day saying to my wife "I don't feel hungry!".

It was a revelation.  I was sitting on the couch, watching TV, and I wasn't hungry for food.

I was always hungry before that.

It's a weird thing with fasting - you think you'll be hungrier, but the opposite happens.  I'm never hungry in the morning.  I'm rarely hungry throughout the day.  I get a little peckish in the evening, but much less than the ferocious hunger I used to feel.

When am I most hungry?  After I eat carbs, especially sugar.  It's like crack cocaine, I become obsessed with getting more.  (I assume that's what crack is like, right?)


I started checking my ketones early on, and they kept coming back negative.  Then I took the "low carb" diet more seriously... eventually I figured it out.  I can get into ketosis at will now.

The easiest way is to run or bike while fasted, or having eaten very few carbs.  In the immediate aftermath there won't be ketones (your body sucks them up as fuel!) - but a few hours later?  Dark purple on the strip.

Even days when I feel like I really pigged out, if it was on high fat / low carb food?  The scale gives me a good number the next day.  It's pretty amazing.


Jason Fung's magic to me is that he doesn't prescribe some exact regiment.

"Thou shalt fast exactly 20 hours a day and feast exactly 4"
"Thou shalt never eat cake"
... etc.

You can't sustain that.  He says as much - Atkins fails because most people will eventually cheat, and it snowballs.

Build the approach around your lifestyle.  Your daughter has a birthday party?  Go!  Eat cake.  Pizza.  Have fun.  Don't give it a second thought.  Fast the rest of the day, before you go to the party.  Or fast after!

It's not a religion - you just always have to understand the insulin has to be low most of the time, and arrange eating/fasting windows around that.

He does tend to advise longer fasts - 24h or 36h - rather than 16:8.  This worked better for me.  Now I'm pretty regularly doing about 20h fast, 4h feed - but like I said, I'm not religious about it.  I fit it to what I'm doing that day.


I'm excited.  This has been a great little run, and I'm looking really forward to keeping it going into 2019!  I feel like I finally found something that really really works, and addresses the root issue.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

My Long Slow Fat Adaption

When you listen to guys like Dr. Timothy Noakes, they talk about the notion of being "fat adapted".

The idea is if you restrict carbs, your body starts to use fat as its primary fuel.  This is backed up in studies - at the end of carb-restricted training periods, the fad adapted athletes burn 2.5 times as much fat for fuel, and they do this from the very start of their activity.

Here are my experiment runs...

Run 1.  20km, 6:30/km.  Bonked bad.  3 weeks into IF.

Run 2.  21.1km  6:09/km.  Better.  Almost 2 months of IF, 2 weeks of HFLC (sporadic).

Run 3.  21.1km  5:52/km.  Much better.  Almost 3 months of IF, using HFLC more regularly.  Felt strong and comfortable.

The really interesting thing about Run 3 is that I was actually 16h fasted and consumed zero calories during the run.  I had nothing but black coffee and water for 16 hours, plus another 2 hours of running.

In fact, I had biked the day before for 1.5h (water only), and had eaten HFLC the rest of the day.  So I hadn't had any kind of significant carb for almost 2 days, and had even burnt off some of what I would have had stored on that bike ride.

I find this all remarkable. It's exactly what Noakes predicts, but it still goes against so much orthodoxy.  I was kind of sure it would fail.  I'm shocked.

Questions still remain

Am I able to perform better than I did as a high carb athlete?  Sure I can get through a 21.1km long slow run, but can I push the pace?

Can I actually go longer?  How much longer?

Is the weight loss permanent?  (I'm down about 10lbs so far, give or take).  Or like most calorie restricted diets, will it come back, and bring friends?

I also still have some questions about "high fat, low carb" vs fasting - the athletes seem to be doing HFLC and I can't find much about fasted athletes.  I'm guessing it's because they're generally not overweight to start with, so fasting doesn't really enter the equation.  My main question: does it matter during activities if the fat I'm burning is coming from my (ample) stores rather than from food I just ate??  I'm still trying to find the answer to that.

From Experiment to Lifestyle Change

I'm making this permanent.  Even if my performance were to suffer (and I'm not sure yet if that's the case, but if) I am meeting my real goals.  I'm losing weight.  I feel great.  My mood is great, even.  I'm able to do the activities I love. 

To the moon, Alice!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Performing Fasted: The Debate Around Fat and Performance

There's a wild debate in the fitness community between the High-Fat-Low-Carb (HFLC/Ketogenic) folks and the traditional High-Carb-Low-Fat folks.

(Protein just kicks around in the middle - let's park him for now)

Tradition says: eat carbs, a lot of them, they're your most effective source of fuel.

HFLC says: you can do just as well (better?) using fat as a primary fuel.

Who is right?

It's really difficult to discern.  

Dr Timothy Noakes

Most recently I listened to the Velonews Podcast "Inside Ketogenic and High Fat Diets".
Click here to listen.

They interviewed Dr. Timothy Noakes - who wrote "The Lore of Running" which praised carbs... only to in recent years do a 180 degree turn and support a HFLC/Keto regimen.  It is a fascinating listen.

Fat: More Energy, More Stored

One undisputable fact is that you have tens of thousands of calories of fat available to you on your body, vs only a couple thousand tops of carbohydrates.  So fat has to play some role when you get into longer endurance sports.

Studies have shown that fat-adapted athletes (those who have been on low carbs for 6-8 weeks, generally) can metabolize 2.5 times more fat per hour.  I did some quick math and it comes out to 600kCal based on some studies.  That's a very big chunk of what I need, just from the fat I already have too much for.

Performance ... Wither Efficiency?

This is where the crux of the debate is.  The good thing about carbs - they are stored in your muscles and are ready to go.  Even when you ingest glucose - it goes straight to the blood stream, it's metabolized easily and quickly.

So can fat, which has a longer metabolic pathway from need to burn, compete?

Some studies have suggested "No".  This article does a pretty good job looking at one of the studies - during a training camp, athletes who switched to a HFLC diet failed to gain any performance, vs the regular carb athletes.

Hold on, says Dr Noakes.  Those athletes weren't already fat adapted, so they were going through the adaptation while taking on hard training - maybe the results would have been different if they were already fat adapted!

It's hard to tease out for sure.  If I were an Olympian with lofty performance goals I would stick to tradition until the science is clearer.  Noakes works with those folks, though, so maybe not!

Jono's Efficiency

I have been doing intermittent fasting for about 11 weeks now, which isn't exactly the same as HFLC but at the same time it kind of is.  Low carbs, relying on fat.  When I do eat I have been lowering carbs, although not religiously.

What have I noticed during fasted runs/rides?  

Higher heart rate for sure - about 10bpm higher for equivalent running pace, poking up into the 180bpm range often with 175bpm average.  For me that's crazy territory, 180bpm is close to "sprinting to the finish".

Noakes dismisses this - sure you need more oxygen to burn fat, so what?  

My results somewhat back this up - my heart rate was high enough that I should have been completely wiped after 5km, but I did 12km with hills... so could be that my heart needs to beat faster, but am I necessarily less efficient?  Will I run out of energy and be done?

I'm going to keep chugging and monitoring it.  My goals aren't the same as an Olympian, I want to lose weight (and I'm down a whoooole bunch!) and be healthy, performance is really secondary, so I can afford to take a risk on performance.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The 36h Fast

36 hours has been my longest fast to date.

I'm not sure I will push it further - I might.  It went fantastically well.

I Gots Energy!

I feel fantastic.  I have energy, I'm not tired.  I'm not hungry. My mood is great.

Sure there were a few dips during the 36h, and the odd hunger pang - but I have dips every day, and odd hunger pangs. 

In fact I would say my hunger was less than between meals on a regular eating day!  And way less than when I try to reduce calories. I think that's what makes fasting so appealing (and, frankly, bizarre).

I did something to make it a bit crazier - I ran 15km at the 22h mark of the fast, on just water.  Well, technically, lemon juice and water with a bit of salt... to each one's own!  No calories, though, which is the main point.

I was slower than I'd have been fully carb'd up carrying a bottle of Gatorade - no question. But I did it, and didn't feel bad.  I've done a few fasted runs leading up to this, so I figure it's my body adapting.  In studies fat-adapted athletes were able to metabolize 2.5 times as much fat as high carb athletes.

Fat For Fuel

Fat is not as efficient of a fuel - true. 

Fat is not already in your muscle like muscle glycogen is - true.

But there's a whoooolllle lot of it.  If one turns to ultra-endurance then fat is going to be a big part of how you get to the end.  Better learn to burn it for fuel!


I'm down about 8 pounds since September (some I'm sure is water/etc!) as of this morning, 36h fasted.  Even unfasted I'm down ~4 pounds, so some of it is definitely real weight loss.

Going to keep on it!  Feels like I finally hit on something that works.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Fasting Update - 6 Weeks In - Low Carb High Fat Experiment

Time flies when you're not... eating.

I wasn't seeing weight loss results, so I've changed a few things.

  • Longer fasting periods
  • Low carb / high fat meals to break the fast (or just before it)
Low Carb / High Fat (LCHF)

Edit: Just after I posted this - I listened to this VeloNews FastTalk Podcast.  If you have an hour, it's way better than reading "books" and "articles" or this "blog post"... I highly recommend it... he actually backs up almost everything I said below - for the recreational athlete, there's really no reason not to try a ketogenic diet... 

I'm guessing this is the most contentious.  I've also had the hardest time finding any information on athletic performance in the absence of carbs.

Finally I found two resources: this book was the first one, "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance".

It wasn't about fasting (at all) but it did focus on using fat over carbs as fuel for endurance performance.  There are several studies and anecdotal evidence from Ultramarathon runners and such that suggest you can train your body to burn fat efficiently enough to get decent performance.

This was an exciting notion.  Best of all, I wasn't alone - there were others trying to train on empty, and even (gasp!) studies!  And folks who found real success with it.

I was chuffed.

But... I since found a study that throws some water on this notion.

The good:
...the fat-adapted athletes were able to sustain a fat-burning rate of 1.57 grams of fat per minute, which is 2.5 times greater than their “normal” values.

2.5 TIMES the fat metabolism during exercise compared to before they were "fat-adapted".  That's extremely relevant statistically, remarkable!  Considering just how much fat the average person has (enough to run/bike for weeks!) it's awesome that it's able to be tapped into to a greater degree!


...both high-carb groups improved, by an average of 190 and 124 seconds, respectively.
In the LCHF group, on the other hand, the gains in VO2max were countered by the decrease in efficiency. The result was no change in race time (they were 23 seconds slower, on average, a difference that wasn’t statistically significant)

So you start to burn more fat - which is great - but it makes you less efficient.  Ultimately, this means your top-end pace is lower, so your performance... droops.

Womp womp.


This made me think about what my goals really are.

Are they athletic performance?  Going long even if it's slow/slower?

Or just losing weight and being as healthy as I can be?

For me it's a no-brainer - I want to lose weight and be healthy.  If I can do that with a LCHF diet, I'll take being less efficient.

Also it's worth noting - VO2max comes into play when you're close to balls-out, not when you're doing an ultramarathon or a really long adventure race.  I'm doing a 24h bike race and a canoe race that'll take close to that - so being able to tap into fat for energy probably helps me a lot more than being super efficient at VO2max.

Or, per the Runners World article:
there may be a difference between Olympic-bound athletes like the ones studied here and recreational ultra-endurance athletes whose goals focus more on completing the distance than sustaining near-threshold intensities or being ready to respond to high-intensity surges from competitors. At lower intensities, the negative effects on efficiency may become irrelevant.
So I'm pretty happy continuing to keep trying to meet my endurance goals with a LCHF diet, as well as with fasting.  Everything I've tried so far has gone reasonably well - at slower paces.

Longer Fast Periods

Instead of 16:8 (16h fast, 8h feast), I've been pushing the 16 longer.  Last week my fast lengths were: 22h, 9h, 17h, 14h, 22.5h, 19.5h, 15h.  A few cheat days in there - whoops.

The biggest challenge has been pushing through lunch on work days.  If I'm at home and keep myself busy I'm fine, but at work my brain power seems to lag.

I would like to get into the 24-36h range but it's been a challenge.  Mostly it's hard to miss the family meal at the end of the day.

Weight Loss

I'm down about 3-5lbs so far.  It's hard to tell for sure, as when I'm glycogen depleted and LCHF the scale says nicer things than after I binge on carbs for an evening... but minimum 3lbs.

So I feel there's some progress, and if I stick to it............ more progress!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Fasting Update

Image result for dinner plate
Dinner Time!

I've been fasting for 2 weeks now.
My longest was 26 hours, but I also did 24, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16... I've been trying to just fit it in with my life, which isn't always that easy!

Brain Fog

I'm having some difficulty with fasts that go through the work day.  If I break the fast at lunch I'm good, but the afternoon gets my brain going a little squirrely.  I don't know how to describe it exactly - I'm not exhausted, just feel "off" in the head.

Feels like my best bet is actually 24h fasts that go lunch to lunch. But then I miss the family dinner "ceremony" so I'm still figuring this out.


I've been trying to keep on the exercise, and mostly that's been great!  I've been doing my running/biking at a moderate pace if it's later into a fast, but if it's near the start I use it as a way to deplete glycogen sooner. 

It's a complete mindset shift - when you're a runner/cyclist, you're always told to eat to train, then get home and eat to recover.

I've been most surprised by the cycling.  It's crazy to me that I can go for 2, 2.5h on the bike without bonking.  Just have to watch the intensity - when I'm actually training for something, I will have to figure that part out.  Presumably I'll do my cycling during the non-fasted state and consume stuff on the bike.

Weight Loss

So far... nothing.
Image result for friar tuck eating
Me Enjoying my Feasting Period
Now I have to assume that the "Insulin Resistance" problem takes more than a couple weeks to resolve. But I need to eat better - in the eating windows I've been feasting like Friar Tuck.

I also haven't been very good at reducing refined carbs, one of Dr. Jason Fung's pillars of health and lowering insulin levels.

"Reduce intake of refined grains and sugars, moderate protein consumption, and increase natural fats"

... sounds good, but I whip up some guacamole (natural fats!) and then eat it with... chips (refined grain).  Because it's delicious that way.  Dr Fung suggests condiments mostly (olive oil, butter, etc) - but they have to go on something.   Dairy fat is the one that's easy (mmm cheese!), I guess I can feast on nuts and avocados a bit... I should really google some high fat recipes.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fasting and Endurance Sports - Part 2

Velonews Fast Talk episode 23


They talk about "periodization" of nutrition, and a lot about "low carb" states!

The long and short of it - in non-competition phases when your intensity isn't as high, there are times you'd want to train in a low/no-carb state.

"Not throwing carbohydrates in massive quantities at every training session" ... which he says is the "old advice".  I think it's also the advice every manufacturer of sports drinks and gels wants you to take!

In the "Build" phase - his suggestion is to have a high intensity session in the evening, recover with high fat / low carb, sleep, then wake up the next morning and do a lower intensity session in a low-carb state.

He also stresses the need for carbs for intensity - this stands to reason.

"How often should you be training with low carbohydrates?"

No more than 2 times a week, in the "Build" phase.

Etc!  It's a great listen.


He doesn't address fasting specifically, and his focus is on getting the best cycling results, not losing weight.

I haven't been "racing" and I'm certainly not an "elite athlete" so my focus right now is on weight loss, not on training adaptations.

Glad to hear though that while I'm meeting my weight loss goals, I'm not totally out to lunch on the endurance training side.  Low/no carb states aren't incompatible with training.  It will just be a question of finding the right balance.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Fasting and Endurance Sports

I've dabbled with fasting in the past - but I'm getting into it more seriously now.

I recently read The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung.  He makes a compelling case that the old advice "Eat less, Exercise more" is ineffective.  And this is backed up by studies showing almost nobody keeps off weight with that approach.

If you don't feel like reading an entire book (although it's great!), then check out this video... hits the key points.

The book is mostly not about fasting - he actually doesn't bring it up until the very end.  Instead it explores the advice we've generally been given, and the science of why we are fat.

His claim is that the root of the problem is hormonal, and primarily insulin.

Boiling it down: we are fat because of what we eat and when.

The What:  Sugar and refined carbs.  These create elevated insulin responses that ultimately lead to reduced insulin sensitivity, which result in more insulin, which makes us fat.  He also takes aim at artificial sweeteners, which provoke an insulin response despite having no sugar in them (!). 

The When:  Snacking, snacking, snacking.  We eat too much, and the advice to "graze" makes it even worse.  Our bodies are flush with insulin, always, which just makes the body numb to it... which again leads to even more insulin, which makes us fat.

This is where fasting comes in.  There are various approaches, but in all cases the idea is to reduce insulin for long periods of time by not introducing new glucose into the bloodstream, thus no insulin response.  This in turn has been shown in studies to increase insulin sensitivity, which he argues is the cure for obesity. 

My Weight, and How I Will Apply It

I was an outlier in 2014... and had a bit of swagger about it.  I had lost weight and held it off for 10+ years.  I did it through calorie reduction and exercise. And it was bloody hard.

I'm not anymore.  I weigh 212lbs, vs the 235lbs I weighed at my peak - but I'm almost 30lbs above the 185lbs that I need to be "Normal" rather than "Overweight", and a good 40lbs above where I'd like to be.

Fasting - in the past I had done 16:8 - basically not eat except between noon and 8pm.

But I think the 24h/36h fasts he suggests sound like they may be more effective.  Fast for 24h 2-3 times a week, rinse, repeat.

Wither Endurance?

Dr. Fung is very clear that exercise is good for you - it has a lot of hormonal effects, including increased insulin sensitivity and reduced Cortisol (stress hormone).

However he is very down on the role it plays in weight loss.  Burning calories via exercise is not the way you will lose weight.

He mentions exercising while fasted is a "good time" - but it sounds like he's mostly talking about gym rats (and he even references the Lean Gains guy).

... so where does endurance exercise fit in?

I found this very excellent chart.


At low intensity, the body burns mostly fat (which I have a lot of!), so it's possible to go for a long time without using up the body's glycogen or consuming additional sugar.

At high intensity, the body burns mostly carbs, so it either needs to be short or you can't be fasted.

I've done runs as long as 16km while fasted for 16h before - they were slow and pretty horrible.  I don't know if they get better, I think it's just something I'll have to experiment with.

One more beautiful chart, from the same source...

... so as you can see, the probability of hitting "the wall" (running out of carbs) is nearly zero when the "running intensity" is under 40% of VO2 max...

This is probably down to one's personal fitness/genetics/weight/etc - but I this all points at it being possible to run long slow runs, fasted, with nothing but water and electrolytes.

My goal right now is to lose weight, not to run a marathon - so I'm not so worried about this.  If I can run long I'll run long.  If I can't I'll put that on the back-burner until I can.

It will be an interesting journey, if nothing else!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sinusitis, Rockstar, Running Whilst Sick

I've had a horrible case of sinusitis.  It has taken me down for the last 2+ weeks... felt like a cold at first, thought it'd pass in a day or two, or three... but now on day 17.  Halfway through a bout of antibiotics and feeling a bit better, but still not 100%.

I missed Rockstar.  It's one of my favourite races.  Sadness.

Running Whilst Sick

I tried a run early in the illness - that was a bad idea.  It went horribly, and probably made it worse. 

This weekend (day 14/15), despite still being fatigued and my throat being sore and phlegm still flowing...

... I said "screw it" and ran again.  Short runs, slow, they were tough, but I didn't feel bad after.  I think it makes a big difference whether you're on the start or end of the illness.  I'm getting better, slowly, but this has really sucked.  Especially in summer.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Humidex, Wind Chill, and Other Fake Weather Things

Ahhh, summer, the time of year when we like to exaggerate how hot it is.

The CBC had a great article some years ago about just how and why the Humidex, a Canadian invention, is flawed.

It's especially important for us runners and cyclists, as we may miss other factors that are equally important!

In no particular order:

  • Humidity - when it's very humid, sweat doesn't evaporate well to cool you down
  • Sun - this is massive - I especially notice it in winter.  A sunny day at 0C feels a lot warmer than a cloudy day at 0C!  Running at noon vs early a.m./p.m., even at the same temperature, is much more difficult.  The direct rays add heat to your body that you need to then expel. 
  • Wind - the one thing that makes cycling more tolerable than running in hot weather is the speed of travel generates more wind!  Ahhhhh. 
    It's remarkable, I biked yesterday for almost 4 hours in +32C (+36C with the fake Humidex, and in the sun!) but it felt... ok. 
    Today I ran in cooler temperatures and died by the end.  I'm still sweating and that run ended half an hour ago.
  • Clothing choice - black in the sun?  Long sleeves?  Etc!  So many ways to either help or stop your body from cooling itself down.  I used a singlet today - it really helps with the air flow.
... etc.  

Feels Like? 

And, as the CBC climatologist notes, "no two people react the same way to weather. Age and health, including respiratory issues and fitness levels, affect how hot it feels".

So when they say it Feels Like 36C  - first of all, what day's +36C are they comparing to?  A sunny dry day with no wind?  Cloudy?  Windy?  Who knows!

And each person is different, so what might feel like +36C to one person might feel like, I dunno, +42C to another.

Who Cares?

Yeah maybe.  But I think it's worth paying attention to the other factors and knowing how one's own body reacts to them, rather than just blindly taking a number that "Big Weather" throws out there.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Race Report: 24 Hours of Summer Solstice

The Race

24 hours of laps of a mountain bike course.  Most laps wins.

There were a bunch of different categories - we were a team of 2.  One person rides, the other rests, rinse, repeat!

We had done the Epic 8 Hour a few months ago, similar format - but the extra challenge of night riding and lack of sleep was going to be new...

Our Race

We got there with a few hours to set-up and ended up with a pretty nice set of digs.

I mean it's nothing compared to what some folks were rocking... RV's, cooking stoves, etc.  We also didn't use the tent much at all - the canopy things was way more useful.  Nobody wants to be in a steamy tent if they don't have to be.

Lap 1 (rest)
The Start

My teammate did the first lap - it had an extra loop and a lot of traffic/waiting, sounded kind of crappy.  Similar to our previous experiences at the 8 hour, just so many riders and not a lot of real estate early on.

The rain subsided early on, and we wouldn't see much more than a few drips for awhile.  Course wasn't too bad considering!

Lap 2 - 1h19

My turn, and my first look at the course.

I loved it!  The trails were beautiful, so much flow, everything was ride-able start to finish.  A few hills with some pop, but nothing quite as tough as the 8 hour.  Lots of fast double track too, gave good opportunities to fly down hills, spin, recover.

The only thing was my crazy high heart rate.  I wasn't pushing but it kept going waaaay up into the 180bpm range.  I don't know why.

Lap 4 - 1h18

Second lap - felt a bit of a burn, but nothing too bad.  Heart rate still bad, if not worse.

Lap 5 (rest)

Lap 6 - 1h20

Started to feel the first signs of cramping early on in this lap, which was ... unwelcome.

I've been having cramping problems a lot on these longer distance MTB races.  Just so many muscles get abused in so many ways.  If I'm too tense or panic in a corner, I tend to get muscles locking up, and it can be bad!

Fortunately I was able to stay light and spinny and recover - and the rest of the lap went great.

By this point I had eaten a lot of Cliff Shot Blocks and was good and tired of Gatorade.  Note to self for future: bring better solid food.

Lap 7 (rest)

Lap 8 - 1h29 (estimated)

First Night lap!  Started at about 9.30pm.

Night riding was tough.  We'd done a test run last week, but on a relatively unfamiliar course it was a different story entirely.  And the terrain was tricky now, some corners were pretty beat up.

There was also a lot of traffic now.  Seems like sundown brought out the speed demons - and they seemed to hang together, so when you had to let one person by there were a few others right behind them.

The freakiest thing to me wasn't the single track - I did alright on it.  It was the fast double track sections!  So many times we'd bomb down a hill and up the other side, but in the dark you just couldn't see.  I would still bomb down the hill but without being able to actually see!

It was fun, a bit scary.

Lap 9

I needed solid food so I bought this.

It was touch and go whether I could digest it in an hour.  I more or less did.  Winning.

Lap 10 - 1h33 (started at 12:45am-ish)

Second night lap.

I felt marginally better.  I know my pace doesn't reflect feeling better, but I was really pacing myself by now - lots of spinning and taking it easy, not pushing on anything.

Lap 11 - 1h39 (started at 4am)

My teammate had trouble riding in the dark, combination of poor night vision and not having a strong enough helmet light (note to anyone - the helmet light should be your strongest one, as it points where you're actually looking!).

So after a rest I took on what would be my final lap.

I felt pretty good at the start, but fatigue and darkness really caught up to me.  It was spitting rain, my glasses fogged up - so between the night and the fogged up glasses I had a hell of a time seeing anything.

By the time I finished the lap, it was pretty much light out... so I made it to morning at least!


We took a look at the forecast - horrible rain - and called it a day.  We were really doing this for fun/experience, and it was not going to be fun anymore!

Edit: Looks like the race was called off before 24h!  Rain was really bad.  So we didn't miss as much as we might have thought.


I don't seem to need sleep.  I felt fine on the 4am-6am lap - totally surprised that the lack of sleep didn't impact me more.  I was fatigued, but it was from ~9hours of exercise.

Food - I blew it.  I brought a bit of solid food but not nearly enough.  Would really have liked more real food - the burger worked (luckily) but that was risky.  Need good digestable solid food.

Team of 2 - kind of sucks.  It's just so much riding, and no rest.
Edit!  Team of 2 doesn't suck as bad as I thought.  We finished 7 of 21 teams, and looking at the results most of them took at least one break (a lap that is 4-5h means they weren't riding for a bunch)!  I just assumed they were going balls out straight through - but I guess those were mostly bigger teams I saw out there.  Another lesson learned - rest when you need it and stretch the effort out to 24 hours.  More fun, and maybe more laps?

Everyone in big teams was having a lot more fun, drinking beer and sleeping and stuff.  The whole event was more like "camping with some mountain bike racing".  Lots of families and friends getting together, pretty cool if you like that sort of thing.

Mountain Biking - I think I'm pretty good at it, but when you see guys who are ACTUALLY great at it... wow.  They just carve the trails without a hint of hesitation, carrying so much speed.  It's amazing.

I go sleep now.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Race Report: Storm the Trent 2018 (Hike)

I'm a week late but better than nothing, right!?

What a day, what a course!

New Venue

For the first time, this race moved to Haliburton.  This meant all of our old area knowledge was useless (not that it was of all that much use before!).

This part of the world is so beautiful, though.  View from the finish!

... but we'll get to that later.
Getting ready!!

The Start - Canoe

We started by canoe on the lake in Haliburton.

We had left our bikes across the lake - so I was kind of hoping it would be some kind of point to point... but instead we paddled around 2 lakes and a small connecting channel.  Very pretty, flat water.

As seems to be the case every year recently - we finished second.  Our boat is fast, but the guys that beat us are clearly stronger!  But we were at least close.

The only new thing this year was collecting information about future checkpoints in the race from the buoys on the lake.  I took the time to write down 2 of them at once, which in a wet canoe wasn't the easiest thing - but it all worked out alright!

Run #1 

One thing I screwed up - I had an extra bottle of Gatorade in the boat that I had meant to take on the run.. I forgot it.  This was bad.  Very bad. It was too hot of a day to be light on fluids.

We ran around the lake over to what appeared to be a conservation area of sorts.  It was pretty, lots of well defined trails.  We had very little trouble finding the checkpoints, but at this point the heat was getting to me...

This is where the eventual winners got past us - they ran so fast, some of the volunteers thought they'd cheated!  But we saw them on the trail - they were just bloody fast.  Meanwhile we were walking some of the uphills (OK, most).

Still, we hit the bike in pretty good shape, I think 3rd.

Bike #1

This one started out on some road/sidewalk, but quickly changed to a long rail trail section.
This is part of the rail trail we rode last year - see my report here!

Flat hammering, which I'm usually great at.  I had a tough time keeping up my teammates pace, though!  I think it was just the heat?  I wasn't feeling great at this point.

... and my fluid situation was biting me.  We weren't even half done the race and I was into my last bottle.  Dangerous situation.  I was trying to go easy on the fluid, but stay hydrated - mission impossible!  I started asking my partner if he'd have any extra he could lend me if I needed it.

A few climbs on a small paved road and we were finally at the next run.

Run #2

This was short and pretty easy.  Trails were a little funky, as were the checkpoint locations (at the top of a cliff thing and on a beaver dam??).  We saw the team that eventually won in there, and we'd assumed the other team we were always chasing was in there somewhere... based on the fact there were 4 bikes left at the start of the run!

Best of all... WATER!  I hadn't expected water on the course, so this was a huge relief.  I guzzled down a full bottle and filled up the other one - I was now flush with fluid and ready to rock.

My Big Screw-up

We got back on our bikes.

This race was so easy to navigate that I had paid zero attention to this checkpoint.  The bike is marked, how hard could it be?

From the map I thought the little road we had taken to Run #2 wasn't really a road - just a driveway - and that the bike continued on the road we'd started on prior.  So we climbed the lonnnnng climb back up to the road, turned, went down some hills... only to get to a complete dead end.


We doubled back now realizing the error and back to the checkpoint, just as another team of 2 guys was leaving ahead of us.

11.  Minutes.  F**k.  I couldn't believe it, I was so pissed at myself.

Bike #2

This was my favourite part of the entire day.  Beautiful winding hilly narrow road/ATV trails.

Almost no mud, strangely!

But those hills... wow.  My teammate struggled a bit here, which I was mildly thankful for as I needed to recover.  I felt great the rest of the race!

We passed a team that had split up (which is against the rules, I might add!).  The one guy looked like he was getting his ass kicked by the heat, other one blasted ahead without him to the checkpoint.  Pretty sure they were father/son.  Kid, you shouldn't leave your old man out to dry like that!!!

Final Climb


We caught one last team on this hill - it was a team of 4, so not in our category, but still felt good.

Managed to ride the whole thing while others walked.  Strava says the road section averaged 8%, but felt much worse!  And after that it turned off into a rough trail climb, that I'm sure was steeper and was definitely tougher.  At the end of a race it was a widow-maker!!!


The top of the hill!

We managed 3rd in our category (Team of 2 Male) and my error didn't actually cost us anything better on the day - so that was good.

Random Musings

New course/location - awesome!  Really enjoyed it.

Run checkpoints were a bit too straightforward for us... other teams are great runners, so we need something that throws them off haha.

The bike was sufficiently awesome.  Rail trail was a nice touch - I'm sure a lot of people haven't experienced that.  Hopefully they realize it's part of a huge connected rail trail system that extends as far as Uxbridge, Lindsay, Peterborough!

I'd love to bike on singletrack MTB trails, but those back roads on the way back to town were just as great!  Winding, hilly, rough, everything you need to put a smile on your face.

All in all a great, well-organized, fun event.  I'm certain we'll be back.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Race Report: Epic 8 Hour (2018 - Spring)

What a race!

We did this as a tag-team.  8 Hours of alternating laps with my teammate. I did the even laps, being in worse shape and slower... thinking being if we had time for an extra, he'd do it.

I love the format.  Nobody finishes last, as everyone of all abilities are on laps at the same time.  Sure, someone's on their 4th lap while someone else is on their 8th, but they still finish at roughly the same time.

The only problem - because it's laps and you have mixed abilities, there is traffic.  Just takes some getting used to, when to let people by, when to pass people, etc.  It's a balancing act - you don't want to spend your whole race taking an off line.  And just like my previous 8 hour, 90%+ are awesome about it, 10% or less are jerks or fail to call out what side they're passing you on, etc.  I'll focus on the 90%.  Mostly it was great.

The Course

I loved the first ~6km of the course, and loathed the last 2km. 

It started with a long steady climb, which was alright - I'm good at that kind of thing.  Then it alternated between single/double track - mostly flowy and fun.

Right about the halfway mark was another long steady climb - again, not bad, find a gear and steady up.   And some more nice flowy singletrack...

Then it got rough - and rougher as the race went on.  Some singletrack, but the sand really started getting dug up, and by the end there were sketchy roots and corners everywhere.

The last 2km were horrible.  A long steady climb that lead to a steep doubletrack climb - I didn't make it up without walking... and after a short downhill a horrible switchback-laden sandy rooty steep climb.  Again, much walking.  More on that below.

Finally a really cool descent - at first.  But every lap it got a little more rutted and by the end it was just sandy and horribly difficult. 

All... part... of the... charm?  Hmm.

My Race

Laps 2 and 4 were my first laps - it was tough.  I went way into the red, gasping. 

(I should preface all of this by saying I've only been on the mountain bike once this year so far... which was a mistake!)

Lap 6 was going pretty bad too, and then my chain went kablooey.  I fixed it pretty quick, maybe 5 minutes?  Had a quick link and the right tools.  Note to everyone!

... except... I accidentally routed the chain wrong, over this little black tab instead of under it.  Shifted like hell the rest of the lap.

Thanks to the help of the team next to me - I was able to fix that while I waited.

Waiting was interesting.  Every lap I'd have about 40 minutes to refuel and chill.  That lap I spent working on my bike, but still felt good starting each time.

Lap 8 is when things started to come apart.  In those last 2km my cramping got baaaad.  On the last downhill I put my foot down in the sand - and my leg just locked straight. 

Not.  Good.

I spent the break after that lap trying desperately to stop the cramping.  Nothing helped - I walked, I stretched, I laid down, it was awful - I wasn't sure if I could continue. 

Finally... it was my turn... I went back for my 5th lap (our team's 10th) and told my teammate I was cooked and wasn't likely to do a 6th, if I could even finish this one!

Lap 10... I spun it out.  Cramps actually subsided.  I kept the heart rate low, made sure not to put in any hard efforts, and walked a bunch of the hills in the last 2km.  It was tough and slow (7 minutes slower than my best) but at least I got through it!

After that I actually felt pretty alright.  Cramps subsided, I ate and drank some stuff.  So I decided WTF, I'll do the last lap.

Lap 12 - I had about 55 mins to finish this one - figured I'd mail it in.  It ended up being my favourite lap of the whole race - I felt good, there was less traffic by this point, I just enjoyed the course for what it was.  And in the end it wasn't even my slowest lap - the cramps kicked in again, but not as bad, and it ended up being my 3rd fastest of the day (of 6). 

All in all a good day.  Tough as hell.  But we figured some stuff out and with more training I figure I'll be alright.

Lessons Learned (Especially for 24 race in June!)

  • Lube every lap - chafing sucks
  • Fresh clothing - I could really have used a few changes
  • Repair tools - since there's a home base / pit, have EVERYTHING.  Every tool.  No reason to get by with what's in the little pack on the go.  Also multiple tubes and quick links.
  • Tunes would have been nice in between laps
  • Keep calm - I was too tense, and it contributed to cramping in my hands and arms.  Maybe legs.  I need to ride smoother and less "argh I'm going to die".
  • Spin.  Those big muscle efforts lead to cramps.
  • Clean the bike - and lube it.  Keep it like a well oiled machine.  Well, literally a well oiled machine.
  • Have a way to communicate between laps!  We didn't think about this - I ended up writing notes on some of the advertising we had in our race bags.  But in a tag team you never get to spend more than a few seconds during hand-off to talk, better to leave notes at home base.
  • Bring Beer.

The End.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Race Preview: Epic 8 Hour

Race website

An 8 hour mountain bike race - most loops wins!  We're doing it as a 2-man tag-team.

Laps are expected to be a little under an hour each, so thinking I'll get 4-5.

The venue: Mansfield Outdoor Centre

I've done two races here - one was a running race, similar format (6 hour tag team).  It was a lot of fun.

The other was a 30km XC race that went horribly (died in the heat).

I will definitely not die in the heat!  It's going to be cool and possibly rainy.

The format: Laps, Laps, Laps

The last time I did an 8 hour MTB race like this, I was solo.

The toughest part was really dealing with traffic.  After a few laps everyone of all abilities is mixed together, slower riders with Canadian Tire Specials who didn't take off their reflectors racing against borderline pros.  I'm pretty middle of the road, so I get it from both ends - sometimes I'm held up, sometimes I'm holding someone up! 

It's especially tough on the single track - as a solo I was pretty bagged by the end, so was trying to be courteous and let people through... but you still have your own race to focus on.  Trick is finding opportunities that don't cost you time.

The goal: Fun, Fun, Fun

This is as much a dry run for the 24h in June as anything, so looking to just soak it in and remember how it all works!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Race Report: Paris to Ancaster 2018

Quite the Day.

It all started so well.  The weather was reasonable, just above zero.  Sun was shining.  Wind was... horrible.

My fitness - horribler.

I really went into the red early, and it set me back for so long.  I never really recovered, was gassed for most of the race.

... and, again, 2/3 of the race in... derailleur hanger exploded.  Clunk clunk bang.

I didn't have a spare (new bike, you think I'd know better by now).  I switched to single speed but the chain went up a gear and was way too tight.

Ground myself back on the roads.  Well, started to, then my chain exploded about 6km from the parking lot.

Walked up hills, coasted down them, repeat.  Friend picked me up 2km from Ancaster.

Big fat DNF.

Ah well.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Race Preview: Paris to Ancaster 2018

The 25th ever Paris to Ancaster.

A right of spring for me since 2006.. 13th time in a row I've done it, haven't missed one in that time!

Me in happier times
Mud and stuff.

Well, less mud, thanks to some people who broke the rules and rode on private property before the race.  Shame.  Glad they were DQ'd, too bad they didn't catch them all.

I'm not really looking that forward to it as much as I used to. 

They've kind of screwed it up - trying to make it a weekend-long thing by forcing people to pick up kits on Saturday... that really left a bad taste in my mouth, as someone who lives 2 hours away.  It's shit, and probably why it hasn't sold out (at least as of yesterday).

Last year there were bad headwinds and new sections in the first half - which meant a lot of us ended up in congestion at the halfway mark when the 40k started.  I'm guessing a repeat, since the 40k start times haven't changed.

In case you can't tell, I'm getting a bit weary about this race... it's not getting better with time.  The organizers seem to not really be listening.

I'll see how I feel after tomorrow, but might take a break from it next year, try something else.

As for my fitness - it's way off, and this will be more of a ride than a race.

So yeah.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Getting Over It And Givin' 'er

So many false starts this year... it's been brutal!

Lots of little weird illness things.

But I'm finally over it.
One of my few February rides!

I've actually had 2 hour outdoor rides the last 6 weekends in a row!  So that's a win, especially in Feb/March in the Toronto area.

During the week has been much tougher, though... and some of those rides were probably ill-advised.

Last week I had the mid-week stuff down though, and this week too, so the regularity is coming.  Building to something good.

One month to Paris to Ancaster!

To the moon!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

2018, A Slow Start

Feeling down on myself.

I've been reduced to a weekend warrior in recent weeks.  Some health issues have kept me from really digging into training like I should, and my weight is pretty much unmoved from January 1.

Time to turn it around.  Health problem behind me, 2018 ahead.

Sorry for the boring post.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Canadian Ice Cleats for Running!

I had some trouble last week running on ice.

In all my winter running it's never been quite this bad for quite so long... a little ice here and there, but we had a really bad dump of rain followed by a flash freeze.  Sidewalks have been like skating rinks!
So I watched a video on the YouTube on how to convert regular old running shoes into ice gripping awesomeness.

The result... Grip!

On ice!

I didn't put quite as many in as the guy in the video, but my soles were pretty thin at the front... I was worried any in the middle would poke through.

I used the 3/8" ones in the front, 1/2" in the back.  I could have just used 3/8" everywhere - they worked just fine.  And they actually have a larger head to them.

My run was in about 2 inches of snow, less in some places, more in others.  The ice underneath proved no challenge, had grip.

I'm not sure how great they would be if the snow wasn't there - you could definitely tell there were screws under the shoes when there wasn't snow, might have been uncomfortable.  But I'll have to try it on a snow-less icy day sometime to find out for sure.

But not back for $6 and some old shoes I wasn't using anyway!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Indoor Trainer and Heat

I wrote once about the humidity and increase in temperature in my gym while using the indoor trainer.

This year I upped the ante and got a really good floor fan.  I keep it on full blast.

I also have been opening the window, letting the cold outdoor air in.

What a HUGE difference.

The end of my workout I'm fresh and feeling great, rather than my performance tapering off by the time I'm finishing up...

That should translate into more load on the legs and a stronger start to the season!