Monday, May 28, 2012

Giver8er Enduro Training Ride!

Running in the trails Thursday night at Canada Olympic Park (COP) in Calgary, I said to my running partner Di once we saw some mountain bikers ride through a few puddles "glad I'm not riding!". Then we bumped into Deadgoat Tim Brezsnyak, the organizer for the Giver8er, who somehow convinced me to enter the 8-hour enduro on Sunday.

Saturday, I went on a wicked road ride with Dave Jetz, Carrie Tuck, and their buddy Dave northwest area of Calgary. Thankfully, they pulled a lot of the 160 km with the strong headwinds home. My intention for the Giver8er was long slow distance training so no problem with the back to back workouts.

Giver8er Enduro
I jokingly said I was planning to negative split each lap as my plan was a training distance ride. So I started as slow as I could... though with a pavement start the roadie in me kicked in and the front fork lock-out went on. Thankful the field bottle-necked going into the trailhead so it was a reasonable follow-the-leader pace through the single-track. With a power climb course it is hard to go slow as enough speed is needed to get up and over a few sections.

Not pre-riding the course, I did my best to follow the rider in front. I had to let a few riders by in the technical sections. The latter half of the course was my favourite with long open roadie sections, short intense climbs that I could motor up stand climbing.

Lap after lap, I got more confident to blaze down the short fast bumpy descents full-on with the Garmin clocking my fastest speed at 49.3 kph! I was having fun, especially when I could take my time in the techy sections. First lap was nerve-racking for me with riders following close behind me.

My lap times were fairly consistent around 40 min including a quick bite at the pit. With the final few laps, I crumbled a little only tacking on a couple min per lap. At that point, my muscles were just tired from the pounding of the rough trail and, oh, maybe riding a hard tail(!). Ended up with 11 laps after 7 1/2 hours, 106 km with 10,300' elevation gain! Pretty awesome training! The cumulative short little climbs make it quite an effort for the 9.6-km loop let alone 106 km!

Fuelled with a Camelbak full of Vega Sport drink. Prepped a bunch of awesome drinks for the pit... fresh coconut water, fresh watermelon juice, my bee pollen/chlorella/Vega mix, a few shots of Acerola cherry/mushroom powder mix. The chopped up bananas and orange slices were awesome. Nibbled on bits of Manna sprouted bread, dates, and raw bars. Energy was great. I was amazed how quickly all my fresh drinks disappeared considering it was only 12C on average with the sun coming out briefly towards the final hours.

With rain happening earlier in the week, the trails were in their best condition, just tacky enough and not dusty. Just perfect conditions overall for an enduro race with an awesome temperature AND great trails!

Thanks to Tim and the Deadgoats for a great event.
Bonus was the surprise entry into the Bow80 race for the top solo riders, so thanks to Bow Cycle!

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Long Weekend - Invermere Revisited

Back in the adventure racing days, I spent more time out in the Invermere area racing the Sea2Summit stage races with the occasional training weekend. I took opportunity to stay at x-c skier friend Jeff's place for this May long weekend.

view from Castle Rock
Driving in Sat morning, I was so beat from an exhausting week that I slept the day away in the cozy house. Late that day, I was adamant to get an activity in so I went in search of the trailhead for Castle Rock on lumpy bumpy farm roads. By 7:20 pm I started the hike (I actually ran it). Pretty late start and glad that daylight stuck around a long time this time of year.

It's a great hike with 33 switchbacks and then long sections to the viewpoint. It seemed to take longer than I remembered in the past though I made it down to the car within 2 hours and before dark! 9-km round trip, 3300' elevation gain.

Sunday, went on a road ride counterclockwise around Windemere Lake fighting a nasty headwind. Looping back on Hwy 93, I jumped onto side roads Kootenay Road #2 and #3 that went through Reservation land. Continued on the Windemere Loop road which cuts past Swansea with a short section of gravel. Rode out/back to Wilmer which was short though hilly. My favourite road was out/back the road to Panorama except for the insane 18% section at the start. Total mileage 106 km, 4:15 hours, 4300' elevation gain.

Trail not for Heights-Challenged riders! Amazing views!!
Monday, checked out the mountain bike trails "Along the Johnson" and "Kloosifier". 5 stars for the Johnson trail - fun, fast, flowy, incredible views of Toby Creek from cliffsides and ridges. Short though... maybe 1 hour though there is a connector trail to Kloosifier for another 45 min of berm riding. 22-km, 2000' elevation gain.

Awesome weekend - Thanks Jeff for the stay!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Epic riding at St George Utah Ironman

I was excited to be asked to drive Mark Woodhouse down to St George Utah safely for his Ironman. Whenever I've driven to California, I've zipped by St George many a time wondering about playtime in those red hills. This time I had three days to play while Mark prepped for his Ironman.

Found us accom with awesome couchsurfing hosts Ed & Ruthie in the comforts of a St George home, including their dog Moqui.

I remembered that a wickedly strong endurance racer lived in St George. I contacted Lynda Wallenfels and was excited she would squeeze in time to show me a few rides. Check out her coaching site and awesome blogsite of her amazing adventures.
Two more mini-might riders - check out that scenery!!
Lynda emailed links to Garmin tracks of the courses we planned to do. Using these set courses on the Garmin made that unit so much more worthy. The GPS would beep when I was off track which was helpful in technical sections when I needed to keep my eye on the trail and not the map on the unit.

Riding with Lynda was a full-on technical session for me. I really hadn't been on my mountain bike since my three races in June last year. It was great for me to try to stick to Lynda's wheel. Bonus was following the wicked lines.

I was in awe of the terrain right from the start and wanted to take tons of pictures. 

Just past church rocks...
Soon after we started I hollered out "Was that a turtle?". Lynda was amazed she didn't see it as she dodged it on the trail with her bike. It was a baby tortoise.

Teeny Tortoise barely the size of the palm of the glove
And thanks to the tortoises, this area is called the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and is not an ATV rec area! We ended up seeing at least five Mojave Desert Tortoises of all sizes on our rides.

awesome flowers in bloom
The terrain was ever-changing, a whole variety. Had a little history tour when we checked out Silver Reef where a town of 2,000 people existed in the 1870's with a silver mining boom. Only a few buildings left with a museum that had been the Wells Fargo bank.
Thrilled to try samples of the Mulberries at the tree in front of the museum (free food!)
I quite enjoyed the next section of dirt road climb which twisted in tree-d area and was impressively more lush and green. At the top, we bombed down a section on the Mesa that had split second decisions to dodge jagged lava rocks, like a little bomb-field for the bike rims. The trail called Icehouse is the longest technical descent I'd ridden in a long while, it went on and on, fast and rough. Loop finished with a nice moab-rock section. 

I was baked in the 85F sun with my pasty Cdn white skin. The trail was consistently rough that the palms of my hands had little blisters high in the grip area - pretty dainty this time of year!

Ride time: 4:25 hr, 65-km, 4900' elevation gain

Couchsurf hosts, Ed and Ruthie, had us watch an epic movie with Anthony Hopkins playing Burt Munro in "The World's Fastest Indian". They are both motorbike tour enthusiasts. I loved the movie - lots of good motivational things to take away. Hopkins was awesome in it - cute, sweet and charming.

Ride Day 2: "True Grit" pre-ride! (check out -->race video).

I rode in to meet Lynda at the trailhead just SW edge of town. Wore white arm coolers to protect my sunburnt arms. Forgot to do anything with the blisters on my palms so I bared it! It was pretty hot in the canyon rock area.

We went over the True Grit race course that was so wickedly technical with step ups and moab-like descents. Some sections could barely tell there was a visible line to ride. Thankfully, I could follow Lynda if I could keep up!
there's a trail in there somewhere...

Tortoise siting #5
Then Lynda left me on my own for the final 40 km of mostly rolling terrain, until I hit the Barrel Roll trail which was back to a technical loop. I was baking out there.
this trail sucked me in on the slight decline of fast fun rollers for miles!
Siting of the white Bearclaw Poppies, another Preserve Trail for nature, yay!
pic of the black raven on the rock on the left (for Di & Al!)
Running low on water, I took the road option on my return thru Santa Clara, a town with very tall trees lining the streets. Another wicked day of riding red dirt!

Ride time: 5:10, 74-km, 5100' elevation gain

IRONMAN Race Morning

Super early morning to drop Mark off at the athlete shuttle to the swim start at the Reservoir. Back to snooze then get ready for my Day 3 ride.

Last minute packing of transition bags
Ride Day 3: Hurricane Rim Trail - Goulds - Gooseberry Mesa - J.E.M.

Lynda was volunteer bike escort at the IM so I was on my own. Last ride was another epic near Hurricane, around 30-km from St George. The bike shop recommended starting at the trailhead near the town of Virgin and to ride the loop counterclockwise. This gave the technical track first, and ended with a wicked long gradual descent.

It was a windy day. A few riders I rode past commented "watch out for the wind"! I was jostled a little riding on the exposed rim trail. I thought it would be worse.
town of Hurricane below
The network of trails were again epic, varied and fun. Different than the last two days in that there was more mileage open sections.

Ride time: 2:34, 41-km, 2700' elevation gain

Enjoying this day, I was cutting time short to get back to town to see Mark finish the bike section of his Ironman. Little did I know the same wind picked up for the Ironman swim making it challenging in the 3 foot waves in a supposedly normally calm reservoir.

The bike had alarming gusts of wind with the leader getting blown off, unhurt, got back on. I wasnt sure if Mark had gone from bike to run yet. It was hard to figure out where Mark was on the run course with the "E" shaped out/back run down multiple street blocks, and people lined on all the sidewalks.

Mark's wife Karen was texting me to let me know whenever she saw Mark via internet online. Finally I found Mark finishing later than expected. He was a little bummed he did not meet his goals though not much one can do about conditions like that. More impressively, he finished it, and he recovered quick.
Ironman Mark with Couchsurf hosts Moqui and Ed
Wish I had a couple more days to ride as I would love to do those same three rides again, and maybe a couple road rides too, oh, and some trail runs. Lots to explore in the area.

I was happy that Mark was excited to join me on one of the best spring water stops in North Ogden Utah. We stopped twice on-route there and back!

Note, for organic shopping in St George area... Real Foods Market was small and abit expensive though had good stuff like raw milk! Natural Grocers in Washington was awesome with excellent selection and pricing. Zimmy's Cafe was a find for some yummy post race food for Mark (cafe is inside the amazing Bosch Kitchen centre with tons of awesome kitchen goods).

Easy 17-hour drive back to Calgary direct from St George. Pretty fun few days!!