Saturday, December 05, 2015

Vert180 Must-Do Skimo

Planned to go in as a particip-action event as it is a pretty cool event. One loop of the course: skin up, gentle grade run up boot-pack, with transition to descent. Repeat for 180 minutes!

Either it is the skier or the binding or combo, I have issue with getting into my bindings… and staying in them.

Into the 3rd loop, just starting the descent… my left ski felt a little strange when the ski just took off. I took a nice tumble, and had no idea where the ski ended up. I hobbled one-skied looking for it on the sides of the groomed runs, then took my one ski off and walked all the way down to transition as I searched for the runaway ski.
awesome style! ha, ha - photo Malcolm Taylor
Bummed to have to DNF, I hoped my ski would eventually be found. Thanks to Dave Dornian who suggested to chat with the ski patrol who may figure out where the ski went. Meanwhile, I put on my down jacket to stay warm.

Ski patrol guy immediately drove his snowmobile all the way up the climb, and back down when I lost optimism. I watched as he parked and walked down below transition. When I caught a glimpse of him with something in his hand, I started getting my skins ready.

The ski apparently flew down the hill from top Westside past transition to lower Eastside without hitting any skier skinning up, thankfully.

After at least 40 min of uncertainty… and rest… I charged up the next climbs. I was overly cautious with ensuring I was clipped into the binding.

Due to my right unstable knee, I took all the descents pretty un-aggressive even though it was a straight line down with a hard hockey stop to the right.

I had no idea how much time was left. I was just happy to be back in the game!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Mike Nosco Memorial Ride 2015

Super cool to make the photo for the poster!
My 3rd time at this great event. Past story

After Deer Creek deathly steep hill climb, I was solo descending Encinal. Almost missed the turn for Mulholland and backtracked. Climbed Mulholland as best as possible solo losing a lot of ground on the couple descending sections.

It was cool to get cheers from the women's group I passed. One woman specifically hollered she was cheering for me for the Hammer award as the other woman had a group pulling her! I had no idea what she meant though was happy for the cheers.
Barely stopped at the feed zone and made my way to the real climb of the course, Latigo! Started with a group that had formed with all but one guy dropping. I followed this guy's solid pace as he told me which famous person lived where.

When the grade diminished a tad, I then picked up the pace. Rode solo past Scott Johnson who gave me the awesome Serious Cycling jersey to wear.

Smashed my time on Latigo climb (!) with the guy behind thanking me for challenging the pace. Rolled back to the event start with the odd straggler rider. Where does everyone go…

Post-event with California lads Neil Shirley and Jeffrey Stern who I met in Taiwan just days earlier

one of the winners of the "Female" Nosco Hammer Award
 - gotta laugh

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tour of Le Salève

Every cyclist needs a Le Salève type mountain in their backyard!

airplane view of the mountains behind Geneva with Mont Blanc

Found this superb website "Cycling in the Alps" where Will documented 5 different routes up Le Salève.

I wanted to do all 5 climbs up/down in one ride!

View of Le Salève blocks away from home
From the Passion Bike store, I was given a great bike map of the local Geneva area. After a morning pondering the maps and Will's website, I planned to ride the climbs clockwise starting furthest north.

Making my way to Le Salève via the bike lane on Route de Florissant
With the crazy twisty streets of Geneva, I took the most direct road southeast on Route de Florissant on the bike lane. Somehow I lost the maps on the way. Oh well, I had my plan scorched in my memory.

View of Geneva and the Jet of Water from the first lookout
I rode on the forewarned busy road D1206 for 2.5 km before the turnoff to climb to Monnetier-Monex. The rest of the ride was traffic free. It was 10 km to the base from home. Below, I listed rough splits excluding descents which had abit of ascent.

Climb #1 - mostly a tree-d climb up Montée du Salève, descended to La Murez (stats from home before descending: 1.5 hr, 26 km, 964m)

Mont Blanc in the background
Climb #2 - Col de la Croisette from La Murez (35 min, 7.5 km, 585m), descended to Cruseilles. Water stop at bakery where my Swiss francs were scoffed at. I forgot I was headed to a Euro country.

Cow on ridge with Geneva in the far right
Climb #3 - From Cruseilles, climbed about 4 km up Col des Pitons (16:19 min, 4.4 km, 212m), then descended northwest passing the castle Château d'Avenières. It was hot on the open road so I turned around at Saint-Blaise to climb back to the intersection.

I always stop for blackberries!

Climb #4 - Col du Mont Sion to intersection 3 km up (12:21 min, 2.9 km, 162m), to continue climb to Col des Pitons (33 min, 11.6 km, 341m), descended northwest side of Col de la Croisette, the wicked twisty 12% average descent.
Average 12% means seeing grades up to 16% on the GPS!
Climb #5 - the hardest climb last... back up Col de la Croisette (38:30 min, 5.8 km, 618m). Lots of riders of all abilities riding this climb! Likely a great after-work ride. I started climbing somewhere in Le Bourg D'en Haut.

Many fields of sunflowers on my way back into town
At the top I considered going back down the first climb towards Monnetier-Monex. After a food break, I decided to go the quickest route back down the 12% grade and direct through Carouge home (30 min, 13.5 km, 10m) - awesome slight descent back!

105 km, 5:21 hr, 3125m+

Best climbs for a climber - up/down front/back Col de la Croisette.
Scenic climb - Montée du Salève
Most leisure climb - Col des Pitons

It was cool to get a few "courage" cheers from locals as I climbed!

Gavin, Jan's son from Revie, and Nigel, Mary's son from Geneva, both met me at the Geneva airport and escorted me to Mary's apt by train. When they jumped on the bus with my bags, I rode my bike. Easier than driving around by car.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

L'Alpe de Grand Blanc - Big White

click to watch VIDEO recap of 2015 race

Cool first time local event starting in Kelowna, BC and travelling up some 5500' to the ski resort Big White 58-km away was held July 25th. Prior to this, the weather had been scorching hot.

Race day - unexpected rain!

From past experience if the rain was to continue, the first half of a hill climb event will have warmer temps and the second half will be survival temps. It was 18C and humid at the base.

I decided to go with unusual extras for a summer race - an undershirt, knee warmers, cold weather arm warmers, a goofy hat underneath my helmet to prevent rain from hitting my eyewear, bootie covers, with my lightweight rain jacket in my rear pocket. Not ideal setup for racing though I was taking the chance for a gnarly day as we were going up to 1800m.

all photos courtesy
Small crowd of 60 eager riders lined up. Supposed neutral vehicle pulled away quick with 3 guys on its tail.
The rest of us sauntered not knowing where the neutral part ended. Still not sure, we all sort of went a little harder once on the main Hwy 33.

Even though the rain felt light, I was getting soaked by the rear wheel spray from the bike in front. Clothing choice so far, pretty good, as I was keeping warm while wet.

Legs were a little rigid from doing the Thursday night crit 36 hours ago. Jeff Innes from ERTC was hanging with me for awhile, though we wondered where Terra Manca, a fellow ERTC-er was.

Once my legs loosened up, I clung onto the wheel of a tall guy's bike at a good pace. We both drifted away on our own when I took a pull at one point up the first 12k climb section.

At the top near Goudie road, I said to my riding buddy that we either bridge to the group of 3 riders ahead or he was stuck with me for the flat section, as the next group was abit further back.

Both of us worked together and caught on to this group of three guys in the photo. Once we did, the pace of our group was a little slow. Whenever there was a longer climb, I took a pull up the climb hoping to get the pace going a little quicker.

The roads were rough when I noticed my rear tire was flat. New tire, so bummer. As I stopped to change it, a truck immediately stopped and two guys, Shaun and Caleb, helped me. I assumed they were with the race. I quickly shifted the rear derailleur to the small cog, and attempted to ignore the extra click that did not sound like a clean shift.

I was anxious to be losing time so was chirping for the guys to be quicker. Their help was appreciated so I hate when I lose perspective like that. The peloton with the next woman & Jeff just went by.

I put the rear wheel back on and was dismayed when I could not shift the rear cable to larger cogs. Doh, it was true the shifter had broken in the front. The gear choice of a 50/34 with an 11 cog would not be fun for long. I had to bail.

With my warm clothes bag already at the top, the guys suggested I jump in with them to get a ride. They were watching friends of theirs in the race.

As we drove past the racers, it was cool to see the little groups and the odd singled out person. This was a great race course!
On the turn to Big White, I noticed Terra and was confused to see her there. She mistaken the start time to be 1 hour later so managed to get into the half distance race which started at this turnoff.

Dean & Todd, the guys in 5th & 6th that my truck was following.

Cool scenery!
Roger Sherwood who solo-ed the whole race into 2nd place, an ERTC rider favourite!
ERTC Jeff incognito in a very large blue rain-cape that a volunteer lent him. Jeff said if it was not for the volunteer's help at the feed zones, that he likely would not have finished. The cold rain was an unexpected extra element.

It was 5C and close to sleeting at the top!!
Volunteers at Big White were excited to put on this 1st time event. The support at the top was great with warm blankets and hot packs, and food.
kids raced up the hardest last 2 km of the course!
The organizers are excited about the turn-out and have proclaimed their interest in putting on the event again in 2016, and possibly a series of hill climb events.

I'd like to give it another go!

Later in the week, Jeff & Terra joined me on my favourite route up to Crystal Mountain and back through Boucherie.
Marg & Terra on Boucherie Road
Jeff, Marg & Terra about to descend Gellatly road
Wildfires within 5 km where I stay at Mike's chalet circled in green - abit scary especially when we went through an evacuation one night

Saturday, January 24, 2015

2-week Flurry - Skimo & Nordic

With 3 skimo races within a 2-week period and each venue about 6 hour drive away... it was easiest to just take off and hang around the mountains.

Castle Mountain Skimo - Sun Jan 11
Drove down Sat morning in time for a couple of needed runs on my skimo skis. I had not been downhill skiing at all since the first COP race early Dec. I was leery of the stability of my knee that I hurt in a tumble last season.
Cool to have cyclists Shawna Donaldson and Katy Curtis join in with their big gear!
Temp was warm for the skimo start though I overdressed. Unsure how my knee would fare, I wanted to stay on the warmer side. Chilling at the start, I dropped into pace behind Kylie and Michelle with Martha just behind.
49 racers starting - photo from Castle Mtn website
The singletrack skin track was worse than I thought it would be when we scrambled over exposed alder bushes. Had to concentrate to not snag the skin on the alder, nor impale my body from alder poking out. A branch caught me in the eye so eyewear a good idea. I managed to clean the kick-turns without falling, yay!
racers heading for the single track - photo Castle Mtn website
Once out of the technical kick-turn section, I caught back up to Michelle where we both inched towards Kylie. Hitting the boot pack, I was doomed with the uneven terrain. Michelle was a mountain goat and leapt away. Pensive with my weak knee, I slid down crazy steep snowy descents. One of the ridges was an exposed cliff, so I kept looking at the path and was leery to look out.

At transition to downhill, Martha caught up to me. I left after her. Skied the ridge to Lonestar descent. Midway down the chattery snow, my quads ached. Stopped a few times to take a few breathers. Happy to get to the open road to the next ascent.

Fitness climb up the groomed Huckleberry run and then up the cat track road. Martha was in sight. She left the final DH transition by the time I made it there. Last descent in the cat skiing area started out deceivingly great floating through powdery snow. Midway, it got steeper and more chattery. Last 1/3 was so steep and chunky I just stopped wide-eyed for awhile before starting again.

Standing only 30m above the volunteer who said "you're almost there", I laughed as I still seemed at least 20 turns away. I side-slipped a lot of that last section as safety was on my mind. Whenever I did manage a turn, it was no problem so I really wonder what my fear was to connect a few turns together.

Marg Michelle Kylie Martha
Bombed down the last few km on the snowy road back to the finish. Very cool to have all the speedy skimo women waiting to give hugs! That was the most heinous descent ever!

Mon Jan 12
Stayed overnight in the Crowsnest Pass. Went nordic skiing at the awesome Alison Wonderland trails with adventure race friend Dave Whitten. Bummed to see the damage a snowmobiler did by driving on part of the nordic trail. 1 1/2 hour classic ski was plenty!

Tue Jan 13
Calgary based for a couple nights. I headed to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to ski the Cookie Race course. Since the big floods in June 2013, the beginning 4 km of trail have been diverted. I did not recognize the trails as they were now super hilly. Skied 38 km, 3:15 hr. Weather was cooler than expected as it was balmy in town. Conditions were superb.

Wed Jan 14
Lots of skis to prep and food to get ready for the next three events in 4 days.

Nor Am 10 km Masters Classic -  Thur Jan 15
10k is a short fast race I do not prefer. Since I was in the area, I thought what the heck it'd be cool to go in this test race course for the 2016 Nor-Ams. Entry was the right price at $0 i.e. free.

Start was on the frozen Lake Louise heading out the rolly trails down Telemark double-pole descent. Racers started 30 seconds apart. I was one of the last racers. It was pretty cool to see my 30 sec and 1 min person ahead as I went along Moraine Lake road.

On the slight grade, single kick/double pole was way faster than diagonal stride. I passed a couple skiers before I turned onto the wicked climb into Fairview trail. The trail was in the most pristine condition I have ever skied on! Slowly inched up to racer Cori once we peaked the climb. Her double pole was strong. I stayed behind her as we rolled back along the lake. At the steep climb behind the Chateau, I jumped ahead and raced up the climb.  Crazy washed out hairy descent back down to the lake, then double poled to the line.

Marg just crossing the line on Lake Louise - photo Henry Yau
The results were cool to peruse as our time-trial times were recorded in three spots. My 2nd and 3rd sections were 1 sec quicker than Mary Young, though she had a wicked 1st section on the double-pole descent down Tramline. 3rd place was Sovereign Lake skier Mae Hooper who we raced with at Master Worlds in 2011.

Whitefish Whiteout 2015 Skimo -  Sat Jan 17
With Katy Curtis intrigued with skimo after her first race at Castle Mtn, we drove Friday night to Whitefish. Gotta remember not to pick up registration too early in the morning as there is really nowhere to hang out indoors near the race start.
speedy start - photo Myke Hermsmeyer
Again, I overdressed a smidgeon. It was stifling racing up the first climb. I had a good start then a woman pulled ahead with a nice pace as I gave her cheers. Then, I heard cheers behind me from Katie French urging me to bridge the gap. I tried a couple times to get out of my pace though did not have enough drive.
crazy course description

Skiing a course the prior day helps me get the jitters out for these double-black descents. Didn't get that chance this time. I skied pretty sketchy on Cal's Country then balked many times on the Haskill Slide. It was harder with the lumpy snow conditions. Meanwhile, I saw Lizzy and Martha fly by smoothly.

At transition, I was unsure why Katie French showed up after me as I left to catch Martha. Katy had missed a turn. All the skinning was on groomed trail. Not technical at all, quite the fitness course. A couple years ago, I would have liked this. Now, I think groomed trails are boring and I wanted more technical climbing.
Excellent views from the top
Caught and passed Martha though urged her into the 2nd descent single track before me. Had a little tumble and made it out to the boot-pack. Held my own though did not seem to make up time to Martha. Next couple descents/ascents were new to me. Mostly bombing descents on blue runs. I did not know how much speed was safe with recreational skiers around. Last climb was a long gentle approach for the first 5 km. Could almost have skate-skied it. Too much false-flat distance.

Jen leads Lisa Currey up Bighorn - photo Myke Hermsmeyer
The last boot pack section was the best part as I did get one kick-turn in! At the top, slow meander to the finish. After retrieving my clothing from the short course finish, I was too cold after to enjoy anymore skiing so made the last run to the car. Katy made it through the whole long course with her adventure gear!

Multiple draw prizes given out at awards as there were so many to offer. It was great to have Katy make the drive back to Calgary. A little shuffling of gear and I had time for a few hours sleep before heading to Banff the next morning.

Lake Louise to Banff Loppet (shortened course) - Sun Jan 18
Made it out to Banff in time for the 7 a.m. shuttle bus to Lake Louise. The fresh soft snow was falling in the mild temps. Race started at 9 a.m. Course only 50 km with bridge still out due to 2013 flood.

With the fresh snow, no grip was to be had. It was slow going. Skiers raced in only one track making it tough to pass. Most skiers politely pulled aside to the snowy track to let a faster skier by. After a decent effort on Leg 1, the rest was a s-l-o-g to the finish.

ok, so this blog was sitting in draft for 6 months so this race writeup is slim

Next week spent in the Okanagan with awesome nordic skiing at Telemark.

Kicking Horse Challenge - Sat Jan 24
Took the opportunity to pick up the race package early and get out skiing Friday afternoon. Bumped into California friend Catherine Talbot on a ski holiday. Super fun to ski with Catherine and her friends.
Cookie Parade racer Catherine Talbot and Marg - ahh memories!
Race is all a blur. Due to major snow the prior night, the course was altered to 2 loops missing out some tough double black diamond sections.
Lemans Start around the restaurant at the top - photo Mathew Hall
I bumbled along the lemans start. At the bottom of the first descent, I left just before Katy with her heavy AT gear. Had a good climb to Stairway to Heaven. Was super excited to get through the double black diamond descent safely, where a tumble last season hurt my knee wickedly (boot did not release from ski embedded in snow in an awkward position).

bootpack section - photo Mathew Hall
Found the 2nd loop much better than the 1st. Nice to be done! Season over.

Two Canadians enjoying the hot tub at Catherine's chalet rental on the hill - Marg holding Katy's beer!
Nordic skiing at Goldbar with Ann Yew