Is This A Logo??

Is This A Logo??

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Steaming Nostril Race...the Report

So…the Steaming Nostril…first race of the season.  Here is the race report:

First a bit of a prelude.

Prelude A:  English Jim
So EnglishJim disappeared from sight for the winter…most of us assumed he was abducted by aliens, fell into a sinkhole, or ascended to a higher dimension.  I decided, after weeks (months?) of not hearing from him, to go on an epic search to find him…aka, I texted him.  He apologized for becoming a hermit, saying he was heavily involved in a ‘project’ (like what??  Discovering a cancer cure?...Anti-gravity??...Taking the planet into the ‘new world’???...I didn’t ask, I didn’t want to know).  Anyways, I mentioned I was entering a race this weekend.  Jim: “Oh, OK.  Well, I need to get back into it…so I will enter too!!” (Insert his silly English accent.)  Me: “Uhm, Jim you haven’t ridden all winter, this is a race.”  Jim: “Well, what a great way to get back at it.  Tip top!”… meet me at my house 8am Sunday.  So he did.

Prelude B:  New Bike

So, this was really a CX (Cyclocross) race.  I have a Mountain Bike, and a road bike.  Paul at Bicycle Works has been not-so-subtly trying to get me to buy a CX bike for over a year.  The current weather conditions in our area make it the ideal machine right now, and it is the right tool for training right now, and the right ride for the next couple of races.  So down I went to Bicycle Works to pick it up…the day before the race.  Was this the smartest thing to do??  Was I being as silly as EnglishJim?
The weapon...Kona Major Jake.

OK…Race Report:
Lois pulls the truck loaded with me, EnglishJim, Fig, our gear and bikes into the parking lot. 
The crew...Me, EnglishJim, Fig
We actually met Egggman and PaulH, fellow friends and racers in the parking lot.  Then we get set up, warm up, and get set in the paddock; and bang, we are off. 
At the start line...(pics compliments of Lois!)...
Actually it was a neutral start, led off by a pair of mounted police which was very cool! 

A kilometer in the horses pulled off and the race was on full bore.  Egggman and Fig managed to pull ahead and I got stuck mid peleton unable to pick my way through the mass of riders.  Another kilometer later we dove from the streets of Elmira into narrow rail trail…and that was the first crash.  A rider had trouble navigating the rail trail entrance and went down, creating a logjam.  The rail trail itself was a mess of either frozen icy, or frozen muddy foot prints jarring my hands, shoulders and teeth.  However, I thought to myself, thank goodness it is still below freezing because any warmer would soften up the mud and snow and make it a nightmare to ride through!!
I managed to pass many riders struggling to navigate the bumpy ice of the rail trail.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but Fig was one of the riders I passed here (and I spent the remainder of the race trying to catch him!).  After 8 kilometers the rail trail opened up onto dirt road.  It was nice to get off the rail trail, and I managed to pass many other riders on the dirt roads.  Then the course turned onto a false flat, and into a serious headwind!!
Unfortunately for me, my body makes a better wind catcher than a rudder.  The headwind was a tough slog!  A pace line of about 5 riders caught me, and I tried to tag on…and did for a while; but I am not a road rider (I am proud to consider myself a mountain biker); and my paceline skills are woefully inept.  I just cannot do the steady grind thing…it works to sap my energy more than sprinting and recovering.  So I let the small group go, and I continued on doing my own thing.  I eventually caught another rider who was struggling up a long hill into the wind, and as I passed him I realized it was Egggman!!  I heard him call me a nasty name (I can’t repeat it here cuz this is a family friendly blog…plus I don’t want everyone to think Egggman is an asshole…he really is a nice guy), then he passed me back.  We played this game until another pace line caught us; he latched on to them and was gone.
I soldiered on alone.  I have to mention that it was kind of cool riding/racing in the Menonite community…meeting and passing horse drawn buggys.  And often there were groups of Menonite children gathered at the end of their driveways to watch the race…but most of them never cheered, just stood and watched silently…it was kind of eerie actually, almost children of the corn-ish. 

Anyways, after 25 kilometers up the false flat, and into the headwind the course turned right…the side wind was much better than the headwind!!  The road became a series of rollers and a couple of longer climbs, which worked great for me; being a 190 pound ape who is all quads makes the power game more of my forte (let it be known that forte is not French for kia).  I managed to use these hills to catch many of the pace line riders that had passed me earlier.
Then I saw the 10km to go sign!!  Great, I thought…I may finish in less than 2 hours!  Then we made another right turn, giving us the tailwind!  Fantastic!!  It lasted less than a kilometer, then I saw riders ahead of me turning left…then I realized…”Oh shite, NO!!!”…we were going back the opposite direction on the same railtrail we had started on!!  However, it was two hours later, and 10 degrees warmer; it was above freezing.  The ice and frozen mud, was now soft loose snow, and soft muck.  Again, leg power proved to be my friend in these conditions.  I passed many riders who fell, or went off trail, or just struggled with the power requirement necessary to navigate the squidgy (is that a word??  AutoCorrect didn’t show otherwise…) snow and muck.

But it was an energy sucking, soul depleting experience.  From 40km per hour on the dirt road, to 5km per hour in the muck.  For eight kilometers…almost half an hour, life sucked.  I was ready to throw my bike at God (or at least at the Waterloo Cycling Club), I was ready to quit all sports forever.  I felt like this guy...
My quads, and arse were screaming to stop…by lower back was cramping up…I just wanted it to end; but stopping wouldn’t have made it any better.  There were riders in front of me still grinding…I had to catch them.  Then the 2km to go sign…and the heavens opened up, the light of smooth pavement lit the way, choirs of angels sang, as the disaster of that rail trail gave way to the streets of Emira and I summoned whatever last bits of energy still remained glued in the far corners of my being and sprinted (it felt like sprinting…probably looked like I was walking on the moon) towards the finish. 
There was Lois, clanging her Saskatchewan Roughrider cowbells at the finishline, welcoming all the finishing riders (including me even!!).  (As a rider/racer I love the cowbells that many fans ring along the race course.  When you are out there, lost in the suffering…to know that someone is appreciating your effort, and willing to cheer you on…it breathes some life into you and the pain wanes for a while.  Ooops, sorry for this interlude…back to regular programming).
I never did catch Egggman again, he finished 3 minutes ahead of me.  So, I have some work to do…have to catch him someday!!
Fig finished about 20 minutes behind me.  This was not his day.  He was despondent that the old, chunky bastard (that’s me) had beaten him; but we all have our good days and bad days racing.  I think he is sandbagging to kick my ass in a bigger race later this year.
The race finished with great food (hot chili, rolls, and hot cider), good prizes, and a very welcome atmosphere provided by the Waterloo Cycling Club.  No prizes won by me…I finished 5th in my category (out of 35), and 64th overall (out of about 240)….and Egggman beat me (did I mention that yet??).  So more work to do…
Oh yeah…EnglishJim….remember him??  After Fig and I ate, changed, and consumed a couple (three??), post race Molson brewed recovery beverage (thankfully Lois was driving); Jim crossed the line…just happy to be done (if you remember the beginning of this epic, long, never ending story…Jim has not ridden all winter…this was literally his first ride in months…I was just happy he didn’t die out there!).  Lois went and grabbed his chili and roll while he changed…then we packed up and headed home.
So, that’s my race report.  The end, by Mike Riot.
Follow up to follow…stay posted!


Friday, 15 March 2013

My Mom, Training, Racing

Well, several readers of this blog (if one = several; and that one was my mom)...just kidding it wasn’t my mom does not even own a computer.  Remember, I will be 50 years old this year, so that means my mom is really up there, and she has never really embraced the computer ‘generation’.  So, now you say, “50 years old!!  But you write like a juvenile!?”  Well now you sound like my wife, Lois; just the other day she accused me of acting like a big kid...of course, I was sitting in the fort I made in the kitchen with blankets and dining room table chairs.
Actually there is an advantage to turning 50 this year.  It puts me at the young end of the next age category for racing; age 50 – I won’t be directly competing against racers 10 years younger than me this year!  Actually, as a competitive person (jerk?), I race against anyone and everyone who is out on the race course; especially my friends who think I am competitive (or just a jerk). 
Anyways...REALLY getting off topic right from the start!  Back to the, I am sure that someone somewhere thought about requesting an update on my training and here it is.
As long as weather and trail conditions allow I have been on the trails 5 days per week.  I have been running studded tires for most of the winter, but they just came off last week making the bike feel 10lbs lighter!!  However there are still icy sections which make for some interesting bails...(more on this later...thanks to Fig and his always present video).  Actually managed a couple of road rides over the last two weekends!!  It feels good to get the Venge out!!  (Venge = my roadbike)  It just feels so fricken fast!!
When weather hasn’t allowed getting out, I have been on the trainer...usually to a Sufferfest video...the best trainer accompaniment anywhere!!  Makes riding the trainer bearable...almost a suffering kinda way!
Saddle time has included the full range of workouts.  From recovery/fat burning, to endurance work, intervals, power/strength/ determined by my coach (so far that would be me).
Nutrition has been focussing on cutting to get rid of the winter weight.  I was up to over 200 lbs, currently weighing in at 191 with the goal to be at 185 by May when the ‘A’ races I am shooting for begin.
The first test of early season fitness will be next weekend March 24th at the Steaming Nostril race out of Elmira.  Eager to see how good or bad of shape I am in and gear future training on the determination.

So I mentioned Fig and his trusty video camera.  Fig always rides towards the back of the pack...or at least directly behind me so he can get that shot of you crashing, then display it somewhere on the net for the world to see...yeah, Fig is just a darn nice guy like that.  When he is in a real jolly mood he will make a repeating gif of it even.  Yeah this is me, washing out my front tire on an innocent looking piece of trail, and landing on my face.

Thanks Fig.  Actually Fig is rather fair about it...he also displays when karma comes back to bite him, as shown in this short vid he had a couple of nasty ones (and one where he just runs into a lonely tree???)...during a ride this week...of course he had to include one of me doing a slow speed endo...did I mention he is nice like that?

Actually I now have a when I learn how to use it I hope to get some worthy video/pics.

My 2013 race licence is ordered but not yet received.  Maybe it’s because when they asked me to send them a passport style pic of myself to go on the licence I sent them this...

You ever notice how cats always look like they would kill you without conscience if they could?



OK...enough of the gratuitious cat pics...maybe something a little more reverent??
The good old Catholic Church chose a new pope this week...the Canadian didn’t win...

Anyways, sorry, back somewhere on topic; my friend Paul (owner of BicycleWorks) went to Sedona a couple of weeks ago for a winter Mountain Bike vacation.  He had a great time, and was nice enough to think of me while he was there and brought me back this...


Hmmm, nothing racist there??  J

On a somewhat related note, Lois went to Vegas for a week (it was my Christmas gift to her...I detest Vegas; she loves it so she took our son Chris, and they had a great time!).  She chose not to get me this shirt....


Only because she didn’t catch on...Chris had to explain it ...   J
Anyways before I get myself in (more) trouble, and wander even farther off to call it here.  Next blog likely to be the Steaming Nostril race report.
Stay posted!!


Thursday, 7 March 2013

An Old Story New & RIP STC

Well it has been a while since my last post...simply because there has not been alot to post about through the winter.  I have been continuing to train...riding snowy trails for base miles...riding the trainer (mostly to Sufferfest videos) for intervals, power, and more base.  Seriously, Sufferfest makes the trainer almost enjoyable....if suffering indoors can ever be termed ‘enjoyable’.

Even managed a road ride last weekend!!  Felt great to feel the free speed of the road bike, and hopefully get to do more soon! 

Otherwise all rides have been snowy trail grinds, or icy trail skidfests.  The snow riding really works on skills and power.  Power from riding through the snow.  Skill from riding a trail that is typically narrow, and if it isn’t snowy it is icy and lumpy as hell due to hikers walking in the slush that then freezes.  A couple of times, managed to ride off a narrow, bumpy, icy trail and take a spectacular looking fall off the edge of the escarpment; result...nary a scratch.  However, Rod witnessed one of these falls and mentioned that he ‘threw up in his mouth’ a bit cuz he thought I was dead...he did ride fairly tentatively after that too.  J

Took a couple of small, innocent looking slips on the ice, one that hurt the ribs a tad...which scared me somewhat after an incident during Thanksgiving of 2011 (I think I made mention of this in an earlier blog post).  Anyways, I am need of a story, so here it is...
It started about 10 minutes in to a trail ride with Gord and NewfieSteve at Kelso (a popular MTB set of trails in our area) in October 2011.  I simple slip on a rocky trail had me fall over before I could clip out.  It didn’t look like a bad fall, but landed on some sharp rock, knocking the wind out of me a bit but not enough to interrupt the ride.  As we continued on with the ride my back and chest muscles began to cramp some, so I took it easy but kept riding.  I played hockey a couple of days later, but afterwards my chest was tender enough I thought I had better take a couple of days and let the ribs heal. 
I figured that I had probably cracked or broken a couple of ribs as I could feel the ‘crunch’ occasionally (they call this crepitus).  I have broken ribs before, and knew that there was little medically that could be done, other than rest, so I planned to take some time off and let them heal.  However, I started to sense a gurgling feeling in the area, especially when I lay down or stood up.  I thought, ‘this can’t be good’...Lois agreed and made me a doctor’s appointment (which, of course, took almost a week anyways).
So, at the doctor, get an X-ray (trying to make this longish story a little shorter...), the doctor looks at it, and says, “Well, yes, you do have a couple of broken ribs, but you also have a collapsed lung”, and she showed me on the X-ray.
Me: “So, does that mean I need to rest to let it heal?”
Doctor: “No, I think it will need to be treated, but let me call a specialist at the hospital to make sure.”
Doctor returns: “Um, the specialist at the hospital is sending an ambulance for you.  You need to get to emergency ASAP.”
Me: “What?  It has been two weeks...I can drive to emerge if it is really necessary.”
Doctor: “Yes it is.”
So, off I went to pick up Lois and we went to the hospital.
Once into emergency, the specialist instructed an intern and nurse to ‘take care of him...pneumothorax’.  So I’m laid out shirtless on a cot, the intern rolls up a table that looks exactly like this sans the suringe.

Nurse: “Doctor, no local?”
Intern: “No, there’s no time.  Sir, I need to insert a chest tube.”
Me: “OK..what does that mean?”
Intern: “I need to insert a tube in your chest to drain the air and fluid collapsing your lung.  This may pinch a bit.”
If a doctor ever says to you, “This may pinch a bit”,...kick him/her in the groin, followed by a punch to the face, then turn and run and never go back.
Anyways, the intern cut a small incision (two centimetres?) in the side of my chest (remember "no local", so yest that 'pinched a bit' but it didn't come close to what happened next). 
Then he slid that long spike in the pic above, into the clear perforated plastic sleeve beside it, then inserted it into the incision and proceeded to try to push it through my chest wall.  It took him several attempts, like a musketeer with a rusty dull blade, or a teen boy on his first ‘date’; he was pushing hard enough to jostle my 200 lb body, before ‘POOF’ the spike found its way through my chest wall and slid a good 10 inches into my chest.
Me: “Holy crap, that burns!”
Nurse: “Um, doctor, you realize you inserted the tube between two broken ribs?”
Intern: “Oh.”
He then repeated the procedure in a proper took two full times to get it. 
He must have noticed me getting fidgety (I was ready to strangle him!)...cuz he says "Sir, please relax."
Me: "Why don't you lay here while I stab you repeatedly and see how relaxed you feel??".
Anyways the spike gets pulled out, leaving the perferated plastic sleeve in the chest; this sleeve gets hooked up to a vacuum contraption that sucks the gunk that is collapsing the lung, and lets the lung re-inflate...but it took 5 days in the hospital for it to happen.  I am happy to say that the specialist was much more competent than the intern, because that was one of the most brutal procedures I have ever experienced.  Lois visited every day, to make things better, and my friend DickBall even visited once.  (The nurse said only family was allowed, he said he was my brother...they let him in.  He is a pale faced, full British accented Englishman...I am Metis, and I look it.)  Plus DickBall smuggled in 6 dark brews that we shared them.  A Brit and a Metis...brothers to the core...thanks DickBall!!
Anyways, that is why I was nervous when I thought I may have injured my ribs this winter...but don’t worry...there is no way I will ever go through that again...I will live with one lung first. 
So, even Superman can get hurt...but apparently a hero can die.  RIP Mr. Stompin Tom Connors...a true Canadian hero.  I have always been a fan.

But to end on a somewhat brighter note...something that I thought just was not ever possible happened after one of our rides this winter.  I’m still so floored I don’t know if I can tell it right.
After a ride at Dundas with Fig and NewfieSteve, we stopped at Cafe Domestique for a recovery refreshment and .... wait for it ... Fig bought a round!!!  Now I have mentioned in previous posts, that Fig is stupid fit, and silly fast on his bike...but the only thing that eclipses his fitness is his cheapness (don’t worry Fig would be the first to admit it).  He is also a secret billionaire (OK...maybe only a far).  Anyways, since we have never seen, and may never again see (like the Haley’s comet, once every 76 years), that diamond encrusted platinum gold card escape the steely confines of Fig’s wallet ,NewfieSteve made sure to get these pics for posterity:

Thanks Fig, for the beers!!  J
Anyways, I am still here, still riding, still trying to get faster.  It’s fricken snowing out as I write this, but the squirrels are molting, the doves are moving back in, and robins have been sighted, so maybe nature is saying spring is almost here!  And I will be posting more regularly as race season nears so...
Stay posted!