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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Long Sock Classic - Race Report

So, okay, it's that time of year...another race report.  This one the XC Marathon Long Sock Classic promoted by Dan Marshall (SubstanceProjects is the name of Dan's company...don't worry, I don't really know what that means either).  Most of Dan's races are endurance type races; and this one was no different.  64 kilometres (two loops of 32 kilometres) in the Ganaraska Forest.  The Ganaraska Forest is rugged terrain with a sandy base...sand that can turn speedy downhills into tractionless trails of death and destruction (OK...overly dramatic...but it can be a little dangerous...especially on fast corners), and the sand can turn a tough climb into a power draining, energy sucking nightmare of evil (ooookay....I'll tone it down...but that really is how it feels when you are out there two hours into a gruelling race!).

OK; let's try to continue without run-on sentences, shall we?  The Ganaraska Forest also sports a variety of forest greenery, from oak, maple, pines, and cedars....and of course, the poison ivy.  Hence, the name of the wear long socks to avoid getting 'infected' by the poison ivy that permeates the bed of the forest floor.

Well, enough of a long intro.  Let's get to the meat, the juice, the money shot...


 weren't being dirty minded there were you?

Anyways...wary of long weekend traffic, we decided to travel in (200+ kms to Ganaraska) Friday and camp for the long weekend (the race was Saturday morning).  So Steve, Fig, and I pulled into the Ganaraska Forest Centre and proceeded to set up camp.  Ten minutes into setting up, a nice lady from the Forest Centre pulled up in an ATV to let us know that we could not camp there...they had a 100 cadets coming in to camp for the long weekend.  Apparently, camping was not included in the race package, but since we were already there, she would let us stay the night but would have to set up camp in the parking lot area.  So, that is what we did...


So...let's get to the actual race already!

Saturday morning, we get ourselves and our bikes into the start paddock, the weather is sunny and mid teens...but soon to heat  up.  I look around me and see many familiar faces...but all top notch riders/racers; Dan's races are tough, and attract hard core racers...the fastest riders who want to beat the suffering.  I was afraid I was going to get my arse handed to me.  At least I got to compete directly against Fig, and Steve as individuals (no teams in this race) although they were in the under age 40 category, me in the over 40.

The mass start had us opening up into about 200 metres of double track, then quickly darted into a twisty section of singletrack...resulting in a bit of a clusterf*(# as everyone fought for position into the tight track.  This single track wound on for about a kilometre before opening up onto some widetrack screaming rocky riders stuck behind in the single track a chance to pass.  This rocky road continued on for a couple of more kilometres giving a great opportunity to continue to get back positions lost in the original singletrack.  Fig was on my tail this entire time...then the route darted left into more singletrack and I lost Fig somewhere behind me.

The remainder of the route was a great mix of singletrack, some technical with rock and rooty sections, some flowy, twisty sections through pine forest, and some wide open double track.  There were challenging descents, and particular nasty climb was long and very narrow deep singletrack, with the occassional root thrown into the deep soft sand.  On the positive side, it was a great opportunity to pass or catch other riders who could not navigate or power up the entire climb.  There were some sandy sections to add to the difficulty, of course.  There were a couple of racers riding with that I slowly dropped, one that slowly pulled away from me, that I struggled to catch (but I never did).  Then the 2 km to go sign...and the last two kms of the loop were fun, somewhat technical singletrack.  I finished the first loop (32km) in just under 2 hours...which was pretty good for me.  And with the relative absence of traffic on the second loop, I knew I could push (as much as my endurance levels would let me), and work to improve my time.  And so I did (even with a short foray into the bush on a sharp, sandy left hand turn at the bottom of a quick descent).

I finished the 64kms with a time of 3:43:35.  Fig rolled in with a time of 3:55:51.  Steve came in several minutes behind Fig (in his defence Steve stopped to help a downed rider at one point).  I came in 8th in my category...not bad for me considering my competition, but still room to improve.

All in all, a good race.  Great weather, great friends, great trails...(OK a great race).  Dan's races are always fun...on trails we don't often get a chance to ride, and more technical than most races...and Dan promotes such a casual atmosphere you have to work to be anything but positive.

So...Steve, Fig, and I pitted into gravity chairs with recovery beverages in our camp/pit area.  Within an hour the nice lady from the Forest Centre strolled into our camp to tell us we could not stay another night...

 Actually she was not that bad...she wasn't this nice, either...

but she was cordial, and respectful...and so were we.  So, exhaused and wrecked we packed up and headed home.

Up next, is the Kelso race series starting this Tuesday May 21.  It's a different type of race than I am used to doing.  More of a sprint...and it is a series of 14 races over the next 14 Tuesdays throughout the summer.  How will this Tuesday go??

Stay posted!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Spring Epic 8 - The Race Report

So the first of the 3 part Epic 8 Hour Mountain Bike Race Series is in the books.  The Spring Epic 8 was held in Mansfield on Saturday May 11.  Mansfield is a course with long grinding climbs, steep technical climbs, steep rutted descents, and a thick sandy base.  The thick sand makes the climbs that much more brutal, and the descents a little more dangerous with the threat of washing out on a corner.  However, 10 millimetres of rain on the Friday packed the sand into a dense tacky base that made the trail smoother and faster.

The day started with me, NewfieSteve, Fig and Lois packing our gear and hitting the road to Mansfield by 6:30am.  Me and NewfieSteve were a tag-team relay duo for this race (our team name is DaNoofie n DaNative), and Fig was soloing (Fig's team name was Eric...don't know how he thought that one up).  Lois was tending to pit duties, making sure that our needs were met as required as we passed by the pit area each lap.  We set up our pit right along the race course about 1.5 kms from the start/finish transition area, so when Steve (or I) would pass then I (or Steve) would know to get to the transition.
Our pit...



Da Fig

Steve chose to start take the first lap (which is usually a bit of a cluster-f), so everyone headed to the start line for the 10am start.  Steve passed the pit in about 25 minutes so I headed out for the transition area.  At 7 degrees Celsius it was a cold wait!  Steve sped into the transition area with a first lap time of 32’57” which put us into 10th place.  I grabbed the chip from him and took off for our second lap, heading up the long energy sucking climb that started every lap.  I finished off my lap without incident and rolled into the transition area with a lap time of 29’58”...which now put us into 6th place.  We were crawling our way up.  Steve took the chip and was off for our third lap.  And so it went...
Steve Lap 3:     31’24"
Me Lap 4:        29’42”
Steve Lap 5:     32’54”
Me Lap 6:        29’37”

Mid-lap pics


 did that get in there????


In the transition area waiting for Steve to finish our seventh lap...I waited...and waited.  Something must have gone wrong...mechanical...crash...bonk?  Steve limped into the transition area with a time of 39’13”; handed me the chip while mentioning his legs had locked up...he was having troubles.  As I headed out, I said “Hang in there, man!”...but I was worried.  As I passed by our pit area during my lap Steve asked if I could do a double lap; I said no I would double lap my next turn (I didn’t currently have enough water on me for two laps).  Sorry Steve...
I rolled into transition with a lap time of 30’51”,  handed Steve the chip...he looked a little rough.  I went to the pit to prepare for a double lap.
Steve struggled through a painful lap with a time of 39’02”.  I took off hoping that he could recover.  I also pressed a little harder knowing that my times would likely be slower (especially the second of this double)...apparently I pressed too hard.  I went wide on a couple of corners...and at Mansfield you don’t want to go wide.  While the trails were packed and tacky, off trail was a mess of soft sand, leaves and bush.  Both times I went wide, I washed out and went down.  Nothing serious, other than tumbling through the sand and dust to get even dirtier, but it cost me time, and meant I had to re-pass a couple of riders.  (Not to mention that I felt like a doofus).  My lap time was 31’39”, and I headed out for the second of this double lap.  I tried to maintain the pace for the second lap, but the legs were starting to was starting to hurt.  As I passed by our pit I may have said something like, “Steve, I hate you!!”...I heard Steve laughing behind me...I finished this lap at 32’28”.  Steve took the chip mentioning he was well medicated and I wouldn’t have to do another double...
Back at the pit Lois confirmed Steve had managed to rest, stretch and take ibuprofen, muscle relaxants (???), and electrolytes to try to recover.  (If he was smart he would have had a beer in there too.)  As I waited at the pit, Fig rolled in and restocked his water; he was having a great race, but he was also starting to feel it...he was walking like quasimoto...
Anyways Steve rolled in to transition with a lap time of 35’31”...he was feeling better!!...ish...
And again, so it went...(insert dramatic music)...
Me Lap 13:      31’43”
Steve Lap 14:   36’55” (While I waited to see if I had time to get in a last lap...I did...dammit).
Me Lap 15:      31’43”(Yeah...notice the coincidence??)
So we finished with 15 laps for a total time of 8hrs15mins37secs...which put us into 9th place (out of 34 teams in our category).  Not bad...but we were hoping for better; there are two more races left in this series (the Summer 8hr, and the Fall 8hr) we will improve and hopefully match or better last year (DaNoofie n DaNative came in second in the Fall 8 last year).

Fig had a great race and came in 7th in his category with a total of 14 laps.  Fig was the series champ (solo under age 39 category), last year (they award points based on your placements in the 3 races), and is intent on defending this status!
So to be repetitive (its easier just to write things over than come up with new stuff), the Spring 8 is in the books...and forgotten.  The next race on the schedule is coming up this weekend...the XC Marathon Long Sock Classic in Ganaraska; a single 70km loop of more sand, lots of climbing, and an overabundance of pain.  At least it’s supposed to be warmer this weekend.
I’ll keep you posted!!
PS:  After a race you feel like you have been run over by a truck.  This pic is generally how race weekends feel...


Saturday, 11 May 2013

On Lois

Well it is 2am Saturday morning of the Spring 8 hour mountain bike race that I am participating in...and I am wide awake.  What better time to write a blog post??

One area I have been looking to address is the fact that I am often asked how I manage to dedicate as much time as I do to this 'hobbie' (passion, obsession??).  Well there are a few reasons but one of the biggest ones is the help and support I get from Lois.  The reason this is kind of fitting is that my best friend, my deepest love, my true soulmate turned 50 years old this week.  In celebration the 5 of us piled into the truck and headed to the local Turtle Jacks for supper and to watch hockey (I was under strict orders NOT to have a party with a house full of 'friends'...what she did not know was that I did alert several friends about where we were and if possible, they should stop by and say'hi';  and in case you are wondering...yes Lois is a huge hockey fan...if you consider the Leafs a hockey team).

Also, if you are wondering if Lois is upset that I so freely disclose her age, don't be.  That is not a hang up for her; partly because she doesn't look it...this is Lois....

Whereas this is me at 50...

However this is what Lois thinks I look like...

It's not that Lois' last name was Keller (she can see, and hear....and talk...boy can she talk...anyways...), it's not even that she is blond and I have very strong powers of's that she just truly believes that I look that good.  Her perception is my good fortune.

Anyways...I am getting sorely off track here.  Back to how Lois is supportive of my mountain biking.  The truth is we are supportive of each other...and we are strong enough individually to know that true strength together comes not from needing to control the other, but from assisting each other to achieve, not only our goals as a couple, but our individual goals as well.  (Lois does not mountain bike, in fact she can not ride a bike...shhhhh...).  And we both know and appreciate how lucky we are to share that support of each other...because we often see the opposite in many other couples.

And yes, I especially appreciate not only the moral support...but the fact that she is so often right there beside me at the races.  We leave for today's race a t 6am...(she is NOT a morning person), but she is willingly coming to help out (me and NewfieSteve are a team in this race, Fig is soloing the race; and we are all sharing a pit)...and Lois is manning the pit, making sure we are properly hydrated, have our nutrition as needed...and making sure all is in order as we pass by the pit with every lap...then ending the day driving our exhausted carcasses home...

Believe me...none of this is lost on me.  I may not be a rocket surgeon, or scientific genius, but I know how fortunate I am...and if heaven grants wishes mine will be that I get to share Lois's next 50 years. is now 3am (yes it took me an hour to write this...I am slow at the keyboard)  and I need to get ready, for now we are off to this race...I'll let you know how it goes.

Stay posted!!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Riot Goes Deep...And Then More

So our friends at Bicycle Dreams (Bicycle Dreams is a movie about the Race Across America; if you haven't seen it you should, it is awesome!), have a facebook page titled 'Why I Ride'.  On this page, people write in to detail the various reasons they ride/race a bike.  So, I figured, might as well throw in my two cents in my own blog.  So hold on, you may get a glimpse of a side of Riot you haven't seen before (except for Lois...she's seen it all)...hope you didn't take that in a dirty way (actually, I'm OK with it if you did).

So, first I ride for fun, but of course, that goes without saying (there are not too many fun things that I do that are not for fun).  Of course I also ride for the exercise which should be obvious.  I race because I love to compete.  And the racing gives me goals to achieve and motivates me to get better at this sport.  In fact, for me, it is great to have a sport that I can work to get better at, rather than work to try to stay as good as I used to be.  Now all of these are obvious, and somewhat mundane reasons for participating in this sport.  But it goes deeper than that even.

Ok, that's not it...

Five years ago, when I was introduced to this sport, I threw my leg over my bike and the first thing that hit me was the flood of memories of being a kid (the second thing that hit me was the trail ...warning; don't dream and mountain bike).  When I was a kid, my bike got me everywhere...whether it was an old second hand 10 speed, or a banana seat single speed coaster brake.  Then 35 years ago I got my drivers license, and my bike disappeared, put aside and forgotten.  And so many adults, who are being re-introduced to cycling, will tell you how much it reminds them of being a kid; a reminder of a time of fewer worries, of freedom...a time where life was still being discovered rather than tolerated.  And this is also true for me...but there is even more to it.

During an intense ride, or during the latter stages of a race, when I have pushed my body to its limits and beyond; when there isn't anything left, but I find myself still reaching deep to squeeze out any remaining molecule of energy because I have to in order to achieve the goal...I hit a point of 'something beyond' (I know it sounds weird and out there, but hey, that's how it is!).  While my body is doing everything it can to keep my bike upright and moving, I can feel my soul awaken...and remember.  The feeling of the bike sweeping over the trail reminds me of what it is to fly...a spirit, zooming on the winds of from the shite of everyday life.  It may only last less than a fleeting second, and it ends with a wash of emotion, but it is intense...a high like nothing you can get from a drink or pill; a way to touch creation.

So, is mountain biking fun?  Is it exercise?  A road to fitness?  An opportunity to compete and progress?  Yup...all of these...and that much more...the stuff dreams are made of.  Either that or I am very drunk right now (which is always possible).

OK...sorry about all the deep, metaphysical stuff; but it's true, so don't be grumpy...

OK...I forgot how much you prefer the juvenile humour (OK, it's me who prefers it).

So, let's get on a somewhat lighter note, the weather has been great for almost two weeks...which has meant great opportunities to get out and ride/ I have been.  Also, I have incorporated the Tuesday night race series at Albion Hills into my training schedule, but will switch that to the  Tuesday night race series at Kelso when the Kelso series starts (Albion is an hour + drive in good traffic, Kelso is 15 minutes).  These races are short, but intense and competitive and a great motivation and opportunity to get an intense training session in they are fun, and a social gathering for the familiar faces we see at the weekend races.

The first big race of the season is coming up this Saturday May 11th.  It is the Spring 8 Hour Epic in Mansfield.  This is the first of a 3 race series of 8 Hour races...I am teaming up with NewfieSteve to do the series, Fig is soloing the series...EnglishJim is vacationing in Scotland and not sure if he will return in time to participate in this one.  This is always a tough race.  Mansfield is've had a year to forget just how tough an 8 hour race is, and many are not yet in peak season form.

Should make for some good stories.  I will keep you posted!!