Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nose Hill Spring

I was tipped off by the Gearhound that there was a spring in an old neighbourhood in Calgary. While I was down for the cyclocross Halloween weekend, I decided to check it out.

It was in a teeny park in NW Calgary just east of Nosehill. I was surprised to see it marked by a sign and also a monument. This spring had been the source of water way back for the Indians, traders and explorers.

Cool shot of my shadow checking out the teeny trickle of a spring sadly now draining direct into a city sewer.

"Africa Hot" at Beans 'n Barley Cross

Off the start, my muscle memory had me take off 2nd to follow Shantel's speedy start. Within the 1st lap, my body temperature rose to what felt like 105F in my Halloween costume. I quickly dropped off the pace.

It amazed me how much more effort everything was on this unusually warm fall day dressed for cold pre-winter temps with my costume... pushing my bike up the hill and barely getting over the stairs.
photo - Andrew Barron
Within a couple loops, I got used to the heat and slowly started to claw back a few positions. When I was back a few spots, I saw that I was speedier on the lumpy bumpy areas so took those sections as hard as I could.
very Safari dry - photo R. Haskell
Ultra fun to hear race announcer Jeff Neilson say he thought he saw me go by then couldn't see me out there (due to my camoflage colours of course!).
Shantel powering up the steep climb - photo R. Haskell
Thursday night before the race, I ventured into Value Village to find bits to piece together a Mr. Potato Head costume. The L.L. Bean virgin wool safari shirt my size jumped out at me. Easily found safari pants in boys wear. Gathered a herd of African safari stuffed animals. Always wanted an excuse to wear a backpack fuzzy bear. I stared at the leopard cowboy hat for awhile wondering if it would be possible to fit it to my helmet. Lucked out with super awesome high boots in the women's wear - Safari costume complete!

Madagascar Lion, Camel from Egypt, Gorilla hanging by one arm off the seatrails, giraffe and cheetah on the rearstays... not to forget the evil teddybear backpak

photo - bikeridr
It was impressive to see all sorts of costumes in all the categories except Elite Men who were ruled out.

Thanks to Hotdog Janet for ensuring animals were secured on my bike - photo bikeridr

photo - R. Haskell

photo bikeridr

hotdog chasing the human-sized Cactus - photo Andrew Barron
A shocking and hilarious incident happened on the Elite men's startline. Top rider Aaron Schooler was kidnapped by a human-sized cactus and a few others, bike and all, with the race starting without him. Schooler escaped to start the race 1 1/2 min down working his way consistently to eventually take the lead and win by over 30 seconds!
"Betty" Cindy Shantel Sarah "Safari Master"

Jack the child-sized snake attacking the Safari Master
On the previous day, I took the opportunity to ride my mountain bike with Kate Aardal and her super dog Toby. We rode Bragg Creek trails Pneuma and Special K. Very wicked trails! Only toppled twice, one richochet of a bar-end off the narrow tree-d path and once after cleaning the steepest section of Special K to only scare myself that I did it so I slid the bike out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Battle of the Blades - LIVE!

I've watched this show, hockey players meet figure skaters, since it started in 2009. It's amazing to see athletes of one discipline train to learn another discipline, and improve. Always thought it would be fun to see the live taping some day... well...

Marg with Karen's daughter Claire and Karen - bud from 1987 cycle Europe trip
Due to a non-cyclocross race Sunday, I got tickets, booked a travelpoints flight (never works out to use them for races), planned to go with an old running/cycling/travel buddy from Edmonton now living in Toronto for the Oct 23 taping (bonus it was my birthday!). Must say, my BOTB buddy Rhonda got me fired up to book this trip and wish she could have made it, too.

The atmosphere was exciting right once we walked up to the venue. Small hockey arena made into a very cool T.V. set for figure skating. The crowd was very friendly and bubbly.
My bleacher tickets were at a goalie end. I saw a bunch of pink clad women walk in with "Team Bonhomme" on their sweatshirts. I followed them. Had Karen and the girls sit next to them, centre seats across from the judges. Definitely good exposure to be next to Team Bonhomme, the gang from Tessa's hometown Sudbury! (We did get booted out of seats once! before staking claim on better seats!)

The skating was wicked to watch in person and to be so close to the ice. It was super fun though effort to show the poster without hitting the guy next to me.

It was cool to hear Tessa say she saw the sign when they first skated on the ice (she actually pointed to it on TV!)
Thanks to David & Tanya for the wicked slogan for the poster. It was a hit at the venue. Canadian women's team member "Tessa Bonhomme" is the first women hockey player on the show. She is teamed up with "David Pelletier" Olympian from 2002 figure skating. Hence the slogan... I like the Canadian aspect and play on words.

Super excited the poster did get shown on TV when Judge Sandra was speaking. The "Bon" was hidden so the poster showed "Tessa has the Man"! It was a very good effort!!

wicked photo from 1987 - Marg & Karen on the plane ride home from Europe

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Provincial Cyclocross 2011

Most amazing weather for a race late October!

At the whistle, Pepper Harlton lead a fast pace with me latching on and Chantel Widney aggressive to take the inside corner in front of me. Shantel Koenig had a strong effort up the steepest section of the hillclimb breaking in her Van Dessel. I swooped down the descent just ahead of her. Pepper slowly bridged away, with Chantel stopping with a mechanical.

The approach to the sandpit was fast. My plan was to run tight hugging the inside. The speed off the bike was scary launching me halfway running at bike speed and just a few quick steps in the sand before remounting. Could easily bite it at this spot.
sandpit techniques - photo Municyclist Chris Hubick
Just as planned, I had a smooth run thru the sandpit , with Shantel riding on my right. Soon after Shantel’s bike had tire issues.

Just 50m around the corner a barrier came quick when my heartrate was still high from remounting from the sandpit.
Height! photo by speedyskateskier Jean Valiquette
 Cool to find out Pepper had been riding over the barrier. Something I aspire to do.

I chilled in the Agitator circular snail path to catch my breath. Once past the switchback corner, I picked up the speed again riding out of the saddle. On the long pavement section, I hoofed as hard as could.
Strong ITU racer Chantel Widney - photo Mark Kay

Pepper was in the distance. Put my own effort to make distance from the women that would be working their way back to me. Then my shifter started teasing me (had sand issues last Sunday’s race) and it just stopped working. I gave in pretty quick that I would have to singlespeed the race again… then, the shifter started working again!
Shantel with the inaugural race for the Van Dessel
Chantel was back in with a happy bike and strongly catching up. Within another lap Chantel was mighty close. I just started into the Agitator and heard sounds of rider and bike skidding on the grass. Out of the Agitator, I hoofed taking advantage of the extra seconds for Chantel to get in action again.
good Cross Face - photo Jean Valiquette
Squeaked in 2nd within a super strong Elite women’s field with a few awesome contenders from Calgary missing.
pre-race smiles! - photo Municyclist Chris Hubick

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Open Creek Dam Spring

What better than to take a drive off the beaten Highway 2 on some unknown gravel roads to gather spring water.

Left the Red Deer cross race Sunday afternoon and headed west and north ending 31km west of Rimbey on highway 53. Without a map, I lucked out again with intuition to find a gravel shortcut. My first time venture blog with directions.

fast flowing spring water abit cool on my bare feet!
Wish the roads were paved as they would be awesome to road ride.

scenic rolling hills before hitting the prairies again

Singlespeed at Riverbend Cross

Sunday's double-header race venue was at the Riverbend golf course in Red Deer. Very good turn out for their 2nd year.

the girls heading up the steep climb - photo CABC
The start was on a slight inclined long gravel road which was perfect for me. Around a few grassy corners then thru the mostly rideable sandpit. I was just dismounting for the last pitch of the sandpit when "poof", my front wheel bit the sand. Bike and I went down.
Pepper in the Expert Men's race powering out of the evil sandpit - photo CABC
New jerseyed woman (Kim from Northern Ontario) and Shantel passed me. Kim shmucked the barrier with her bike's rear wheel which was funny as we both laughed when I passed by.

Shantel on the rutted downhill - photo CABC
Shantel rode smoothly on a course she didn't get to pre-ride. I caught her on the back straight-away then as I was shifting gears "no click" "no click"... ahhh my shifter was hooped! Possibly from the sandpit. Only a couple lower gears worked in my big chain ring - not my choice though now I was single-speeding! I whined for abit as rider's passed me. Pepper's mom passed me and told me to get on her wheel! It's a long loop, maybe 8 min when we normally have 5-6 min loops.

1st loop up the steep climb when I had gears! - photo CABC
At the mechanical pit, someone tried to help save my shifter though really valuable riding time was ticking away. When the Commissaire asked if I was out of the race, I hollered back "NO"!. I jumped back on my bike and gutted out the 50x15 gear (small chain ring would skip). I had to run thru areas I might have ridden.
Annie from Red Deer in the scenic backwoods - photo CABC
Actually, it was a good single speed course. I wasted abit more time when guys offering assistance said there was a bike I could switch to. Then the pedals were shimano and I use Crankbrothers. It wasn't worth the time to switch pedals.

Elite race, Matt leading the Hardcore boys up the hike-a-bike climb - photo CABC
Off I went again. Next loop I decided to just keep my bike as I was getting used to where I could go hard on the course, where I could coast, and run.

Tim usually riding the sandpit, went for a run - photo CABC
I wish I gave into the single-speeding lots earlier as after being way past last place after lap 1, I managed to catch 3 or 4 women. I didn't realize I was not that far in time from the front women.

Best thing is I got to finish!!

I saw Deadgoat Pat Doyle at the end of the race and told him I thought about him as he is an avid singlespeeder mountain biker.

Awesome shot of Derek powering up out of the sandpit - photo CABC
Shantel had Derek from Red Bike look at my shifter. He said sand was the cause. Back in Edmonton, he worked magic with the lubricant spray (alot of it!) and had my shifter clicking away again!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blowstreet Cross - Old Lady Young Lady!

The crowd seems to be loving the battles lately seeing an "old lady" (me) hanging with the "young ladies"... this race Shantel Koenig and I were neck and neck, with Cindy Koo not so far back.
photo - Andrew Barron
The course was held in a teeny grass park area in Calgary. Every square inch was covered with flagging tape utilizing the whole space! It was an ultra amazing course thanks to designer Lonn Bate.
good sized field - photo Andrew Barron
Personally, I would have loved to follow Shantel's wheel the whole race. The course was flat with a blurb of a hill and many long stretches. Feeling the need to share the wind, I would take the lead in sections I thought I could help most... the long paved path. 
photo - R. Haskell
Shantel would come by me smoothly on the corners switching leads. I was more like a jackrabbit in the corners until I caught on to the pedal-smooth-thru-the-corners technique.
photos - R. Haskell

The barrier location was right before a sharp right u-turn. The inside rider had the best spot. I was on the outside a few times.

The sandpit was rideable when I pre-rode. When we raced thru the first time, it was like a gopher haven of sand mounds all over. I didn't know if it was better to jump over, or run thru. It was sloppy going thru there.
The mounds grew each lap - photo Andrew Barron

cool falltime shot - photo R. Haskell
Down to the last lap, I chose to go hard for the barriers to be first around the u-turn corner. Still another two turns for Shantel to easily wind it up and sprint by strongly to the finish 100m away. I don't think I would have had much of a chance if I waited later.
Shawna Cindy Shantel Marg (Annie missing) - photo Andrew Barron
It was funny to hear the crowd's comments of them not knowing who would take it - so cool to be a factor in making the race exciting to watch!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Cross Ride

Greg, Aaron, Tiffany and Marg checking out the Birkie trails before the snow flies

Local Cyclocross in Edmonton

Awesome video by Shaughn Butts, Edmonton Journal
Captures the Tuesday night race scene

Article online

Cat and Mouse Cross

Double header cross races at the Edmonton Velodrome area which was mainly flat grass with a grassy bowl. Not too technical of a course though had a few tight turns to be careful to not wash out and one barrier on a steep hill was a little challenging for little people to get over :)

Tanya Hopping following Marg going uphill over a steep barrier - photo Ryan Hopping
First race on Saturday, I had no desire to sprint hard at the start. Shantel chased down Katy's hard start as I coasted along.

turbo Katy, Shantel chasing, Marg doddling - photo Kinley Gibson
Oh, it's a race! That set me up to follow them loop after loop 20 sec down at the same spot. Found out later Katy had an adventure with a crash hurting her bike (and her knee), riding in to the pits to switch to another bike and still holding off Shantel to the finish.
With surprising speed and full-on effort, not bad over the barriers on Sat
 - photo Gordon Brenner (thanks!)
Second race on Sunday, the course was in reverse direction which flowed a little better. My x-c ski mate Marcus came over to cheer and had me warm-up with short sprints. That helped me get into the game with the speedy start.

Katy jetted by already, Shantel hot on Marg's heels - photo Darcy Reynard
I was first to start over the set of double barriers, with Katy blindly speeding by. I'm abit cautious with focusing on not clipping the barriers or hurting an ankle. After the next swoopy turns, I hopped on Katy's wheel. Shantel was on our heels and kept very close behind the next couple laps. 

Darcy named this one "Got your back!"
I jumped out of the saddle to work hard on the long flat sections into the wind having Katy take over on most of the techy sections. We switched lead over and over. It was awesome to hear everyone cheer at the bowl section with their support.

Different techniques on the off-camber section - photo Darcy Reynard
It was super wicked to follow Katy on the uphill barrier. With her great speed, it was like I got sucked along at that speed as we both bounced back onto our bikes. Very cool feeling!
ha, climb not so suited for the big chain ring! eventual weakness - photo Darcy Reynard
I felt abit like a mouse with Katy playing the cat. It was a hard ride and ultra fun to ride with another racer again. Meanwhile, I didn't realize Katy was scoping my strengths and weaknesses to plan her final move. I presumed the outcome, though again was lacking in true racing spirit to think it could be different.

I'm thankful I still race at this level though realism has set in of a few obstacles of age. Fun is a big part for me to keep racing... and it was!
Awesome barrier jumping with Samuel Beaudoin & Dave Roberts - photo Ryan Hopping