Sunday, 23 December 2012

A Year in Review

I've been quiet as of late - not that I haven't been riding, been doing plenty of that, but there is only so many ways I can document sitting on a trainer in front of a laptop.

So the 2012 season is essentially done - its been busy with work, family, and riding.  I've learned a lot, gained tons of valuable experience which will hopefully carry me into 2013.

Gear wise, I tried out a few new things:

-  Clement PDX tires.  Fantastic clinchers with really solid grip.  They are wide with a pretty chunky tread, so you can really feel the rolling resistance at lower pressures.  Too bad I forgot them when I really needed them in Miramichi.

-  Boyd 38mm carbon tubulars.  The cat's a$$.  Super light, stiff.  I was very impressed with their quality and performance during the racing season.  I never had any braking issues, even in the gunk, using Swiss Stop yellow pads.

-  Vittoria XG Pro tubular tires.  I had mixed feelings about these tires.  On the dry, fast courses, they were awesome.  They rolled very fast and glided over bumps.  When conditions got slick, they struggled with grip.  Now, maybe it was my technique and skill - not sure.  They have tons of tread left, so I will run them next year again, but I'm going to supplement them with my PDX's more in the muck.  I'm totally sold on tubulars though....

Of note, my Belgian gluing method held up great, with no signs of failing.  Definitely worth the extra hassle and time.  

So the year started off in February with the Velo NB WinterCross.  Its a "for fun" race with no categories, prizes, or points.  For me, it was chaos.  95% of my energy was spent just trying to stay upright on my bike.  The course was bumpy, icy, and slippery.  At least it wasn't overly cold!

The road season kicked off with the Tour De Dog in Fredericton.  This was my first road race, 80kms - registered in Category B.  I got it allllll wrong.  For some reason, I felt compelled to lead the pack up the first climb and totally gassed myself at the top.  I was left behind on the 1st lap!!  I spent the next 25kms by myself, time trialling to try to catch up with the pack.  I finally latched on to a trailing rider and we clawed our way back to the peleton.

Once back with the group, riders started falling off the back as we neared the 65km mark.  I eventually found myself paired with the lead rider of the group and we broke off the front.  Our goal was to catch the leader, who had broke off the front early in the race and latched onto the A Cat riders.  We eventually caught him, and I ended up 2nd in the race.

Next up was Miramichi.  A smaller race with a less riders.  It was a 2 stage race with a 5km uphill TT in the morning, then a road race in the afternoon.  I won the TT in B Cat, then yself and 2 others ran away in the road race.  I came 1st B Cat.  

Along came my 1st Crit in St John.  This was so much fun.  A short, 700m square course in the middle of downtown.  50 mins plus a lap.  I had no idea how to tackle this one as far as tactics went.  So I just went all out :)
Ended up 3rd overall.

The final road race of 2012 was the Salisbury Silver Fox Classic.  80kms, flat and fast.  This was my first foray into the A Category.  My goal for this one was to just stay with the pack.  I managed to do this for the entire race and finished in the peleton. It was fast!!  Avg speed for the race was 40km/h!!

Along came cyclocross season for the fall.  I've already covered the races in previous posts, so its only really worth noting that I ended up 4th in the points for the A Category.  I was very happy with that!  It was a very fun season riding with the guys from Radical Edge.

So next year - it'll be interesting.  My goals:

-  reach an FTP of 300w by spring.
-  Strong effort at the Tour de Dog in A Cat.
-  9000kms of riding (I'm at 7200km for 2012, including indoor sessions)
-  Get a feel for the cross scene in Ottawa - hope for a podium or two.  The categories there are based on age, not ability.

Overall it was a great year.  Lots of new friends with some fun travels around New Brunswick.

Stay tuned for the race report from WinterCross 2013!!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Product Review -

I said it before - I'd much prefer to ride outside, but sometimes its just not in the cards.  During the winter, I try to maintain a pretty steady routine of sessions on my Kinetic trainer.  While some are content with spinning for an hour or so in front of their favourite Netflix movie or YouTube stream, I find it very difficult to do a simple, monotonous ride - that is, unless I'm doing a quick 45 min recovery spin after a race or a hard workout.

Over the past 2 years, I've accumulated a number of videos, ranging from the hairy-legged man-fest known as Spinervals <shudder> to the overly entertaining Sufferfest videos.  While effective, I needed more.

Here's the thing - with these videos, your workouts are based on what's known as PLE - Perceived Level of Effort.  This means that the video tells you to push, for example, at a 7/10 level of effort.  Well, on a good day, that could be 280 watts, on a bad day, 250.  There's not really anything pushing you, except for your own self-discipline.

Enter TrainerRoad.  For $10 bucks a month, you get a lot of cool stuff:

-  if you don't have a power meter - you get virtual power (more on this in a second)
-  hundreds of structured workouts
-  programs containing workouts to reach a certain goal (FTP, endurance, century training)
-  workout analysis that automatically calculates your "zones"
-  synchronized workout functionality with Sufferfest videos (more on this in two seconds)

$10 bucks a month.  A local cross race costs $30 for 45 mins of racing.  In relative terms, its a banging deal.  You can try the service for a 30 period for free.  You can also cancel or suspend any time.  Suspend you ask?  Well, I don't see myself using this service too much during the summer - so instead of cancelling the service, deleting all my history, data, and progress - you can suspend.  Stop paying, but keep your data, only to pick it up again for the next winter.

Virtual Power.  How much does a brand new Powertap hub cost?  $900??   Quarq?  $1200?  SRM?  Can't even guess.  Virtual power works like this:  Your trainer, whatever brand it is, works in a pretty controlled environment.  There's no wind, no hills, no terrain.  This means that at a given speed (as measured by your cyclo computer) equates to a certain wattage of power - depending on the type of resistance unit your trainer has (magnetic, fluid, fan etc).  The nerds at TrainerRoad have analyzed literally hundreds of trainers and developed algorithms to determine how a certain speed equates a certain wattage.  When you download the software, you tell the program which trainer you have (in my case, the Kinetic Rock and Roll), and it uses the proper power curve to display a "virtual power".  According to TrainerRoad, the data is within 3% as measured against a true power meter.  Did I mention $10 a month?  How many months would it take to pay off a $900 power tap?

So how does TrainerRoad pick up your speed and other data from your bike (heart rate, cadence).  Well, you need a USB ANT+ stick and a sensor package on your bike that measures off the rear wheel.    Have a Garmin Edge 500 computer that came with the GSC-10 speed/cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor.  I also bought my wife a Garmin Forerunner watch that came with a USB ANT stick (score!!!!!).  The ANT stick goes in my laptop, I open up the TrainerRoad software, go to DEVICES, and the software instantly recognizes my heart rate strap and my sensor on my bike.  It then displays this data live on my laptop.  Super super cool.  It then takes the speed as detected by the sensor, and converts it to power based on the nerd algorithm.

In summary, in addition to your bike/trainer, you need:

-  A laptop/computer (Mac needs Snow Leopard or better)
-  ANT+ USB stick, like this Garmin
-  A speed sensor that works on your back wheel - again, Garmin makes one
-  The TrainerRoad software, which you download.
-  A TrainerRoad account, which provides you with the access to use the software.

From there, you pair up your sensors and you're ready to go.  You have essentially 3 options:

1)  Ride on your own and save your data
2)  Ride one of the provided workouts
3)  Sync a Sufferfest video and ride that workout.

Before you do any of those 3, I recommend doing an FTP test - Functional Threshold Power.  This is a level of effort that you're just barely able to sustain for a certain amount of time - usually 20 minutes.  Once this level of effort is determined, the software automatically determines different "zones".  

From there, you no longer have to use a "perceived" level of effort - the software TELLS you exactly how hard to work.  As long as your bar is GREEN, you're working at the right level.

It also displays a live graph, showing you the profile of the workout, and how your numbers compare to what's expected of you, again, based on the results of that FTP test you did.

In addition to all this, you can sync up your Sufferfest videos to this data feed/analysis.  I've praised Sufferfest before, but like all videos, there was nothing really pushing you, giving you feedback on how you're actually performing.  TrainerRoad does.  You open the appropriate workout - The Hunted - for example, then you drag the video file into the window.  TrainerRoad then syncs the live graph profile with the video.  When the gun goes off signalling a sprint in the video, the graph and power targets display appropriately.  Now, instead of sprinting at 8/10, TrainerRoad tells me to target 300 watts and keep it there - the bar stays green if I do.  It turns red if I overdo it, yellow if I'm slacking.  Awesome.

Did I mention that you can still use your Garmin Edge to collect all the data for use in Strava and Garmin Connect?  Yup, it still works.

Bottom line, $10 a month is nothing considering a 'cross race costs anywhere between $20 and $40.  You get power, structured workouts, and instant tangible feedback.  No more guesswork.  You keep the bar in the green, its that simple.  What's also cool is that TrainerRoad will automatically adjust your zones if you are finding yourself either struggling or kicking too much a$$.  If you're constantly excelling during your workouts, surpassing the target levels, the program will boost your zones, so now you have to work harder to keep that bar in the green.  The program grows with your fitness level.  Very very cool. 

The first month is free - no questions asked.  However I'll wager that you'll wanna keep the subscription.  Its given me a whole new motivation to stay on the trainer this winter - which we all know, can be very difficult.

Happy riding and suffering!!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Race Report - Sussex Double Cross - 24/25 Nov 12

This was the last race of the season - make that last 2.  It was a double header - the first race at night, under the lights, the second the next morning.  It was truly a test on how well one's body recovers from a race.


The course - The base of a ski hill - fast sweeping bumpy grass corners, a nasty mud slick climb, some tight 180's.

Weather - Gorgeous night race under the lights.  Calm, 7 degrees.  Light drizzle during final 2 laps.

Bike setup - same as always - tubulars 26/28

My start was a$$ - really all I need to say about it.  Took a few pedal strokes to find my pedal, but by then, I had been passed by many who were looking to get a good position for the first little climb about 100m after the start.  From there, I settled in and starting picking riders off who had passed my off the start.  I did however, have a few crashes.  Some of the corners were slick right at the apex - my favourite.  I found myself washing out the front wheel and going down - sometimes pretty hard.  Once, hard enough to knock my shifter about 45 degrees inward.  I had to bash that back into place as I rode.

As the race went on, I found my groove.  There was a nasty, mud covered climb.  1st gear mashing style, and if you weren't in the saddle, you'd spin the rear tire.  I run a 36/25 first gear, so it was pretty hard on the legs, but I found myself making time as I found a dryer line in the grass, helping with the traction issue.  My troubles came came in the tight corners.  I didn't have the confidence to carry the speed, so I lost some time that I had gained in the climb.  Tripoding and sliding - a lot.  Then the drizzle came, which made it worse.  I could still carry speed thru the sweepers, but those tighter corners were my nemesis.

All in all, it was a decent race - finished 7th.  Not too bad, and still kept my momentum with the season points.  I was 3rd, leading by 5 pts.


The next day was totally different.  Cold.  Minus 2 and a driving wind.  The ground was frozen, with a few soft spots - but no mud.  This was prime terrain for the tires I was running, which struggle in the slick - but excel in more solid, fast, bumpy ground.  

The course - same layout, but the surface was quasi-frozen, some ruts - but soft enough that they didn't throw the bike around.

Weather - Minus 2, traces of snow flurries, winds gusting 20-30km/h...brrrrr!!

Bike setup - no change.

Today was cold enough that I had to resort to legwarmers and a wind vest - something I don't normally wear - but it was that bone chilling!!

The start was - well - crazy.  I was staged to the front row, clipped in fast, but it got crowded very quickly.  I had to preserve my real estate by sticking an arm out (JR i think??) but I survived into the first corner.  From there, it was the same as before - picked off a few - but this time stayed with a few guys and traded the pace lap after lap.

The climb was much easier today - kinda.  My legs hurt from the day before, but the surface was such that I could stand up and pedal and not loose traction.  This was huge as it allowed me to stretch the legs out, then sit for the remainder of the climb.  I also tried something a little different into the tighter corners, braking with the rear only.  I think my problem in previous races is that I'd brake too much with the front wheel - locking it up as I'd try to turn and end up falling.  This time, I layed off the front brake and used the rear almost exclusively.  I was able to carry much more speed, with confidence, locking up the rear ever so slightly to slide around a corner.  It was working great.

Managed 6th.  Very happy.  Ended up 4th in the points after some strong finishes from other riders this weekend.  Still, very stoked.

As I said before, the big test was how one is able to recover from one race to the next.  A guy who beat me on Saturday night, was nowhere to be seen on Sunday.  The conditions were challenge too - a slick, mild evening transitioning to a cold, frozen day the next.  Must of been the beer and fries (thanks Rod and All Seasons Inn!!)

So the season is done - a few closing thoughts:

-  My belgian tubular method worked like a charm.  I'm totally sold on tubulars, although there are limitations.  You're pretty much committed to tire choice unless you have money for a second set of tubs, or you're willing to go back to clinchers in favor of grip (in mud for example).

-  I still need a mountain bike to improve technical riding (MJ - hint hint)

-  My aluminum bike is TOTALLY holding me back (just kidding, but hint hint MJ)

All in all, it was a fantastic season.  I started out in C Cat last year, having never race before, now finishing 4th in the points in A Cat.  I'm very happy with my progress and the experiences I've gained this year.  Now for the sappy part:

Found out this week that I am in fact moving to Ottawa in the summer - which means this was the last season of New Brunswick Cyclocross.  Its been so much fun, and I'd like to mention a few names:

The Radical Edge crew - Brian, Rod, Ash, Jamie, Jeff, Mike, Josh - and the rest....Thank you for your camaraderie and friendships.  I've never ridden with a more focused and dedicated group of athletes.

Dean, Glen, and the rest of the SJ crew - Thanks for your sense of humour, post race beers, crazy ivans into the first corner, close races and Darlings Island.

Rheal, Andrew, Mike, and other Moncton folks - some close races all year, a great course at Dieppe (my fav), and some laughs over dinner at All Seasons.

Sheila and the other Velo NB staff - Thank you for your insane amount of work you put into races and sorting out the results.  

Finally, MJ - my wife.  What a trooper - she drags the kids out to most of my races, or otherwise taking them to swimming lessons while I'm out playing on my bike.  Thanks for your support and helping me do what I love.

The Chronicles will continue thru the winter as I suffer on my trainer (free skinsuit on the way - thanks Sufferfest) and I plan on carrying on into the early road season, then offer a new perspective on 'cross in Ottawa - apparently the scene is pretty big.

Thank you all for reading....until next time!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Race Report - Forestry Cross Fredericton - 18 Nov 12

What a day - beautiful day.

I pre-rode the course the night before - lots of sweeping fast turns, a short wooded technical section - a spiral of death.

The course:  grass with frozen sections (not for long), pavement, shorted wooded tight section.  NO MUD!! WOOHOOOO!!

Bike Setup - Vittoria Tubulars - 25 front/27 rear

Weather - Gorgeous sun.  4 degrees (good call Sparky!!).

So going in I felt good about this one.  This is my sort of course - open course, fast, momentum is important.  The night before, the course was rough.  Frozen ground made it difficult to put power to the ground.  Lots of bouncing and getting thrown around in frozen ruts.  I was running 30'ish psi and found it too harsh.  I dropped it down to 26/27 and found it much better.  I dropped it a little more today, but I  think I pushed it a tad too much..more on that later.

The start: fantastic.   I staged on the front row.

Boom - 3rd from the right:

I found my pedal instantly....awesome, and found myself 4th going into the grass leading to the first turn.  I managed to power into 3rd place by that first corner - tubulars working great over that rough grass.   I hadn't seen this much light in front of me all season....keeping pace with the leading riders.  However, that did't last long - I lost 2 spots after a few turns.  They were tight, and I still had nerves.  That's ok, I told myself, keep them in sight for now.  

As the race went on, the course started to change, and I lost sight of the leaders.  One the first couple of laps, corners were hard, fast, you could hit them with confidence, minimal brakes.  By lap 3 or 4, the apexes of the corners became really slick.  Just a thin layer of mud and moisture.  One lap you could carry tons of speed, while the next, bike was sliding all over the place.  It made things very interesting, and unpredictable.

I also think that I ran too little pressure today - I've found my limit.  It felt like my tires were folding over in the corners.  I don't know if it was the slick conditions I was feeling or the tires.  But whenever I  really pushed thru a corner, it felt like they'd just give way.  I thought I had rolled them on a few occasions - but that Mastik/Jantex job was holding nicely.  Who knows...mud or pressure...I don't know enough to tell the difference.

I had traded spots with another rider - someone who I'd been very competitive with during other races.  I rode his wheel for a few laps, then switched...I knew he was right there.  On the second last lap, I was tired and making mistakes.  I had fallen 3 times, all on slower, slick corners.  I'd also had a few run-ins with slower riders.  I wasn't angry - that sorta thing comes with the territory.  

I got the bell lap and I was angry.  Upset that I had made so many mistakes.  I decided to go all-out and not care about the fear of falling.  I'd tripod thru every corner....and it worked.  All those slick corners that I had delicately navigated before, I was taking with reckless aggression - sticking my inside leg out for extra stabilization.  It was working perfect.  I was looking back - often - to catch a glimpse of my closing adversary.

I crossed the line 4th - super stoked.  No draw prize - now 2/6 - but that's cool.

1 more weekend to go...a double header.  Its a tough one - a masher - not my style, but we'll see how it goes.

See you in Sussex!!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Season is almost done - Lessons Learned and Race Weekend Essentials

Two weekends left - 3 races.  Its been a fun season as an A Category rider.  No podiums, but instead a real sense of accomplishment about how far I've come in a year.  There have been ups and downs, but mostly ups.  The downs, silly little things that I'll put in my "tickle trunk" and try to avoid for next season.

On that note - Next season - just found out that I'm probably relocating to Ontario next summer for my job.  It will be sad to leave.  I've built some excellent relationships with the guys that I race with - not only the boys from The Radical Edge, but also the familiar faces from Moncton, St John, and Miramichi.  It was here that I learned to race, built a camaraderie with a lot of people - I'll never forget that.  I hope to fly the Rad Edge colours in Ontario.

Fortunately where I'm going, the Ottawa area, there is a huge cyclocross scene.  Which means two things

1)  I still get to race
2)  I don't have to sell stuff cuz I no longer use it :)

So, lessons learned to far this year -

1)  The days that I felt confident in the course and did well, I had arrived early and was able to do a proper pre-race routine.  By routine I mean:
-  Arrive about 90mins prior to the race and register.
-  Get dressed and drink lots of water
-  Ride a few laps in warm layered clothing at a casual pace
-  After every lap, ramp up the speed and start shedding layers
-  Ride a lap at 75% race pace then adjust tire pressures based on the conditions
-  30 mins before the race, eat a gel and put on embro
-  1-2 more laps
-  Stage
The days that I got there late, I only got 2 or so practise laps in prior to the race.  I'm rushed, don't know the course as well as I should - don't start confident, not good.

2)  Assemble kit the night before.  Talked about this before.  Last race I forgot my mud tires.  Critical error.  I had all my gear piled in the garage except my wheels, which I left hanging on the wall a mere foot away.  Sure enough, I forgot them.

3)  I need to improve technical riding skills and bike handling confidence.  I also need to ditch the fear of crashing.  There have been several instances where I've chosen to dismount and run over an obstacle, where most of the field is riding it.  I may not have lost a lot of time by doing this, but it takes quite a bit of energy to dismount, lift bike, control bike, jump on bike, clip in, get momentum into bike. There's also the potential of fiddling with pedal clip-in, which leads to lost time - and frustration.  Stay on the bike as much as possible.

I'd also like to throw in a list of essential items to have in your bag for a race weekend.

a)  Race licence.  Not no much for 'Cross season, given that's a bit more informal than a road race, but I always carry it in my bag.

b)  Safety pins.  I keep them in a old Nuun container.  Use them for pinning your numbers - when used in a race.

c)  Extra jersey or wind vest with pockets.  I wear this during my warmup laps so I can carry a water bottle, since my bike doesn't have any cages.

d)  Towel and extra water.  Use this to wash up post-race.  Especially on the legs where dirt and grit sticks to my embrocation covered legs.

e)  Embrocation.  This stuff rocks.  I used to wear leg warmers - never again (unless its REALLY COLD!!)  Warmers leave me with a constricted feeling, whereas the embro warms the legs without the hassle.   Apply it liberally 30 mins prior to the race, legs will be on fire in no time.  Just be prepared for a slightly painful hot shower.

f)  A floor pump.  You won't believe how many people have asked to borrow my pump.  How do you go to a cross race with no pump???????  'Nuff said.

g)  A proper pressure gauge.  The gauge on most pumps are crap and are not to be trusted.  I bought a digital one (Topeak) that allows "tuning", meaning you can let air out of the tires while the gauge gives you a reading.  The only downside, it runs on batteries, which tend to die at the most inopportune time.

h)  Vittoria Pit Stop.  Sealant and air in a can.  If you're running tubulars, you can pre-treat your tubulars with sealant to prevent puncture DNF.  But with Vittoria tubulars, the stems don't have a removable core to allow that.  Pit stop is sealant in a pressurized can.  If I get a flat, I'll have to ride to the pits, use Pit Stop to seal the tire and inflate it at the same time.  Haven't had to use it yet, but I imagine its faster than switching wheels and don't have to resort to clinchers.

i)  Tool box with critical tools containing
-  chain whip and cassette removal tool
-  snips for cables and zip ties
-  philips and flat head screw driver
-  allen wrench set
-  chain breaker
-  KMC Missing Link
-  electrical tape

j)  Dry and Wet chain lube.  Critical when the conditions warrant it.  This is the stuff I use - works great.

k)  And finally, a "Dry Bag".  One of those waterproof gym bags that you can throw all your muddy stuff into post race.  I don't want that nasty stuff in my gear bag!!

l)  *EDIT*  Can't believe I forgot this one.  GROWLERS.  45 mins of pain warrants beer - at least 1.8 litres worth.  I bring two for those really really hard days, or if its well deserved.

So that's it for now.  Forestry Cross this Sunday.  Traditionally a very fast course, and the weather has been dry all week.  Can't wait!!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

My thoughts on Indoor Training

No race this weekend - Remembrance Day and all.  Its probably a good thing - legs are starting to feel sore.  I have ridden a bicycle at least once every week this year.   In total, I've ridden about 6400km, including indoor training rides, and beach cruiser rides in Longboat Key, Florida (keep an eye out for a blog post in late March about that - probably the best bike ride - EVER).

Go on to a forum, any bike forum, and ask "Which trainer should I get??  You'll get some douchebag response like "Spend money on base layers and ride outdoors".  To those people:

Yes, that's an Honda S2000.  I loved that car.  Sometimes I wish I never sold it...but I digress.  Sometimes, you just HAVE to ride indoors, so you might as well make the best of it.  As far as devices go, I have a fluid trainer and rollers.  Each have their pros and cons:

-  Force you to ride and pedal smoother, or else you're putting dents in your drywall
-  There's little resistance, so not very good for interval training or any serious effort for that matter
-  Lighter and cheaper
-  Don't need to set anything up.  Just put your bike on them and ride.

Fluid Trainer:
-  Built like a tank.  Heavy and large.
-  Boring as hell if you're just spinning on them.
-  Lots of resistance for interval or effort rides.
-  Need to use a trainer tire, clamp the bike on it - more setup.

Most rollers are the same, so I'm not going to spend much time talking about them.  The larger the drums, the less resistance.  I have 4" rollers - easy to ride on, no resistance.  I throw on a movie and ride on them for an hour or so if I want to loosen my legs up, but that's about all they are good for.

The trainer - Kurt Kinetic Rock and Roll.  Its huge and heavy, but for a reason.  Most trainers are fixed - meaning its a solid unit that you clamp your bike to.  This one has rubber bushings that allow side to side AND vertical movement.  You can stand up on the pedals and sway your bike side to side.  Very useful for climbing and sprinting exercises.

Check this for a quick look:

Other things critical for indoor training:

1)  A Fan.  I'm not talking a little desk fan, but a floor fan.  For the longest time, I went without.  I would finish a session completely drenched in sweat.  I eventually bought a large floor fan and the difference is night and day.  Not only am I not drenching the basement, my bike, and my clothing, but my average heart rate for a work out is about 10-15 BPM less, but I'm putting out the same power numbers.  Same power/speed - less effort - you can't beat that.

2)  A cycling computer with rear wheel mounted sensors.  What's the point of training if you have no idea how you're doing.  That's like going on the treadmill and putting electrical tape over all the numbers.  Its a must.  Garmin 500 with the GSC-10 sensor is what I use.  Love it.

3)  A towel.  Despite having that super fan blowing on you - you're gonna sweat.  If you aren't, you're not doing it right.  A towel for both your face and your bike.  Sweat is uber corrosive and wreaks havoc on your bike.  I keep it draped over the headset area.  Not only does it protect the bearings in my headtube, but its easy to reach to wipe my face.

4)  A video.  The Sufferest.  There is no other video you shall use.  There are a bunch of others, but The Sufferfest series is the best.  Full stop.  Awesome music, UCI race footage, sarcastic motivation - all you will ever need.  

A bit more on this - When I bought my trainer, it came with a "Spinervals" DVD.  For those who lived in the 80's - remember "20 Minute Workout"?  Big hair, thongs, legwarmers, and music produced on a AA battery powered CASIO keyboard.  Now, translate that to a cycling video - bolt on aerobars, sleeveless jerseys, hairy legs.   Not good.  Not good at all.  Screenshot says it all:

See what I mean??  Tension?  Really?  You want me to spin to that action??  No thanks.

On to Sufferfest:

Better music...more sleeves.. less cheese

Pictures speak louder than closed.   Go to .

As a bonus, click on GEAR on that website - that badass guy?  Yeah, me....that's me....looking badass.  Autographs at Forestry next weekend.  I'll tell you how I landed that, post-race.

Next blog - critical cross weekend gear.  I like gear talk :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Race Report - Miramichi 4 Nov 12

To be blunt - I'm an idiot.  Usually I pile everything up in the garage the night before - this one time, I didn't, and I forgot critical gear.  More on this later....

Half way thru the season and I'm very happy with the way things have been going.   Around this time 1 year ago I was brand new to the sport - I didn't know what tubulars were, what a skinsuit was, who Nys, Albert, Powers, Johnson were....

Fast forward to now - rocking the skin suit, rocking the tubulars (more on those later too...), and learning a third language by watching SPORZA on Sunday afternoons.  I'm also 8th in the points in the top category - very cool.

So today....

The course - wet grass with muddy corners, roots, a swamp, and a technical portion that I was too chicken to ride.

Weather - 5'ish degrees, drizzle

Bike Setup - My not-so-trusty tubulars - 26psi front, 28psi rear.

So, back to me being an idiot.  With every other race, I religiously assembled all my gear and piled it together in the garage, ready to go.  This time, I didn't.  I casually threw together my kit bag, put a few things in the garage, set my clock back an hour, and left it at that.  Where did that leave me?  I forgot my pit wheels.  More importantly, I forgot my pit wheels with really good mud tires on them (Clement PDX - the Cat's A$$).

I realized I had forgot them when I picked up the rest of the crew, who all had their spare wheels with them.  I didn't have the time to go back to get them.  My heart sank, but I told myself - I have my Vittoria Pit Stop Sealant, and my XG tubulars have been working good so far, what's the worst that could happen?  Well, the course was wet.  The corners were wet, and muddy - some with roots.  I was all over the place.  The bike was squirming underneath me - I was over-cooking corners - I had to take ridiculously wide lines in the corners to stay on the grass away from the mud - it sucked hard.  There was one corner where I was literally spinning like I was on my trainer in the basement.  I was pedalling, but going no where.

It was so frustrating.

I also need to get much better at technical riding.  Being a roadie, the courses with the wide open courses (Darlings and Dieppe) are my style.  Carrying speed, using momentum, leaning into those corners with confidence.  This course was tight, like Centennial Park.  I need to work on turning in tight spaces, and riding over more complex terrain.  A wider cassette (I'm running a 12-25) probably would have helped too.

The start was also ridiculous - 200ft into a single track rooted mud pit - nice....and I messed that up too - lost about 4 spots hunting for my pedal.

All in all, whatever, its not UCI World Cup - but it still sucks that things weren't lining up for me today.  Wrong tires, bad start, lack of mountain bike skills.

Oh yeah, and I crossed the finish line, came to a stop, and fell over - couldn't unclip - and sliced open the same knee I gashed up at the beginning of the season.  Go figure.

On a good note, I won a draw prize - a pair of socks - with a stain on it.  3/5.

***EDIT***  Ended up 7th.  Not bad, but could have been better.

Weekend off next week, then Fredericton Forestry in 2 weeks time.  Its a good one.  I'm gathering my stuff now.