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Is This A Logo??

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Howling Coyote - A Test of Bones

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away Linda found her prince Craig and 3 years ago they decided to move to Mono (Mow-Know), a land of fabled trails systems, and unending gravel roads.  It is a veritable paradise to providing the pursuit of their mountain bike/gravel cycling passion.

It soon became their dream to share this paradise with others who were also infected with this passion.    So a holey (yup that is spelled correctly) alliance was arranged; with DanOfSubstance and his mountain bike race promotions company Substance Projects.  Dan already had a gravel race series (called the Stuporcross...his name, not mine...), so in collaboration with Linda and Craig the Howling Coyote was born.  A new race in the Stuporcross series, through the trails and gravel roads of Mono, Ontario.

In planning, Linda and Craig wished to have sweeps.  (Sweeps are folks who ride behind the racers, ensuring no one gets left behind, and assisting any racers in need). It's been 6 weeks since my crash breaking my collarbone and ribs.  I still am not in condition to race, but I thought that sweeping would be a good test for my repairing I offered.  SingleSpeedSarah had already offered to sweep the 80km version of the race (PeterF ended up joining her as sweep...both on fatbikes!), so I offered to sweep the 40km option.  (And I am glad I didn't do the 80...Sarah and Peter were out there for 5.5 hours!!)

Sarah and Peter sweeping the 80km Fat style...

So, Sunday morning Johnny (who was racing the 80km) and I packed up the truck and headed up to Mono.  A very nasty, frosty cold windy morning....but it was great to see so many members of the mountain bike race community, after weeks of me being absent.

Gratuitous shot of me, surviving the cold.
Photo by BarryC

TeamColin schooling me on blog writing.
Photo by TedA ApexRacePhotography

United Nations of blog writing.  
TeamColin, Steve of RideCycleSpin, moi.

This guy always gets in there somehow...

And from my perspective, the race was amazing.  Now I realize, many if not most race reviewers are all rainbows and unicorns...all races are great, amazing, phenomenal.  That's not me, at worst I will call it as I see best I won't comment at all.  So, as I saw it...this race was amazing!  It was great to see the race from the sweep perspective.  I could take it easy with folks, encourage struggling riders, converse with marshals, talk to volunteers.  I could skip the hills. sweep I had to cover the entire course (the 40 km course).  So, I couldn't skip the hills.  The hills were brutal.  Dan always seems to do this in his races...long, steep, long, never ending hills.  Brutally sweet challenges.  I can still feel my heart rate bursting though my forehead...

This wasn't even the biggest one!
Photo by Christina

But the hills made for spectacular views...the fall colours beginning to burst from the greenery.  And as sweep, I could take the time to enjoy them.

Still not the big one...
Photo by SteveS

The volunteers were all pleasant and engaging...encouraging racers to refuel, hydrate, and maintain the pace.  Some volunteers were Dan's team/family, some like myself were racers who chose to volunteer support for various reasons, and some were locals providing community support for the event.  The community support was evident and fact the mayor of Mono baked pies with local ingredients as prizes!!

This is not a Howling Coyote, this is Bruno.  
Bruno and his mom and dad were volunteers.

Bruno drove them up in his Westie...
Photo by BarryC

The feed stations were minimally stocked, but the meal options at the finish were amazing.  Hot and delicious, meat-eater and vegan options.  I believe the finish meals were also prepared by locals.  I think these people want us to come back!

However...possibly the most memorable piece of the event was the proliferate gravel road options; quiet country roads rolling through the hills and forest of the county.  And so often, within view of the gravel were obvious trails winding through greenery...nature's enticing call to the mountain biker.  A place of dreams to the gravel rider/mountain biker.  I will have to get up there simply to enjoy the riding sometime soon.

Chatting of old times...or the last hill...

Photo by TedA ApexRacePhotography
The Lapdogs chose to ride together and finish together as a team in honour
 of their fallen comrade Steve Hart.  Steve passed unexpectedly, but 
peacefully in the days prior to the event.  I did not know Steve well...just the 
occasional 'hello', but I feel like I do after hearing all the stories and anecdotes.  
By all accounts he was a special soul, which perhaps explains why he went 
too soon.  Quick with a smile, or laugh...a master of trash talk, a devoted
 hardworking teammate, and a powerhouse on the bike.  My sincere 
condolences to all of Steve's family and friends.

So there you have it.  If you missed this race, you missed a great one.  If you were there, you survived the cold, and the hills...and you loved it...good on ya!!  I'm betting you'll be back.

And some of the best swag ever at this event.
(I had to drink enough to see the logo on the glass)

Finishing up...

As for me and my injury recovery, I survived the experience fine.  A little achey for a while after, but OK.  And I have been able to get on proper mountain bike trails this week.

A happy sweep.
Photo by BarryC

But how can I complain when there are so many friends in similar or worse circumstances.  Barry with a recently separated shoulder, Valerie broken collarbone, SuzyQ shattered leg, and now Linda broken leg surviving getting hit by a truck!!  Some tough ladies!!  (Ya, you too Barry!). I wish you all the fastest healing possible!

And now I have about 25 extra pounds to lose.  Some beauty fall riding to get into.  And Dan's fatbike series to look forward to!

Stay posted!

Yup....that's a cat and a coyote...

Friday, 19 October 2018

Four Non Blondes - YaYaYaYa

So just another brief update, what's goin on, with the situation.

The bones continue to heal...and the surrounding muscles are beginning to relax.  So we are getting there...not as fast as I'd like, but ahead of schedule.  However, still gaining weight.

So in order to keep the weight under control, and to try to maintain some element of 'bike shape', I have been getting out for a few easy paced rides...and a hike that possibly got out of hand (a road too far...).

Stolen from MykalP just this morning.

However, apparently I have been doing too much under my current condition...and my body is letting me know it.  Various chronic inflammations that I historically have fought off are recurring and hitting all at once (like plantar fasciitis, and a couple of other -itis's), and a head/chest cold is trying to take hold (I never get colds!!).  This body seems to want to use its energy on healing.  So I have taken a couple of full on rest/recovery days to try to get healing and health back on track.  And things are looking better.  

Getting older, trying to be more aware and careful...since I don't think I have 9 lives...

Stolen from VirgilC just this morning.

So, healing and health seem to be back on track, and as such my Sunday ride will be me sweeping the 40km at DanOfSubstance's Howling Coyote.  A casual 40km ride on either a 29er or 29plus bike to keep it safe and more comfortable.  Will you be there??

Then hopefully next week or so, I can switch from healing mode, to getting back into race shape mode.  Or maybe I should just let the weight go until I can compete as a Clyde??

Anyways, in order to not make this all about me, a couple of other friends have generously also managed to get dinged up this past week.  TeamColin conked his noggin...and Unglued separated a shoulder.  Well wishes to you guys!  Get well fast!

So, now how about some happy news!

SingleSpeedSarah has a very well written blog that she does not post enough to.  However, a recent post reveals a couple of exciting and positive events going on her way.  Check out her blog Crash Caylor, for her latest very interesting post.

So....that's What's Goin' On.  So far.

More to come...

Stay posted!

Staying Posted!!!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Update on the DownLow I go posting again about a drab, mundane topic.  Me.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I prefer to post about topics other than myself.  However, people have been asking (bikecurious??) about my injury recovery...and someone (Heather?) even suggested that they find my blog posts/strava  inspirational.  Who knew??

Yeah, sorry...

So be is my update.  I am healing...slower than I would hope...but mostly as expected.  Last Sunday was 4 weeks since the injury occurred.  And this Tuesday I had my update with Dr. Smith...the fracture specialist.  The collarbone and ribs are mending.  The clavicle healing faster than the ribs.  (ribs can take 10+ weeks!?).  Mostly it is the muscles cramping/spasming around the injuries that I find most annoying, and debilitating.

Also, weeks of relative inactivity has my core weakened and is going to need a lot of work to get back up to bike fitness.

Also my wieght ballooned up to 208 lbs.  (Yeah....fatter than I have been in almost 15 years...). Need to lose about 25 of that...or more.  Now that I have put this out kind of makes me accountable...I guess...dammit.

So....the good news...

I have had great friends come over to visit and keep my spirits up!  And motivated to get back out there!

Friends keeping the Sunday Riot rides going...

Even though they could work on their Riot face trail pics...

This guy has it down....almost...

Anyways...back on track...   The last couple of weeks I have been stretching, and doing some light weight workouts to try to stimulate healing, and to maintain range of motion.  So I currently have almost full range of motion...however huge lack of strength, and reduced capacity to move quickly without discomfort.

How I think I look weightlifting...

How I really look...

And, a big one for me...after over 2 weeks of sleeping in a recliner, I am back to sleeping in bed (yes, my own bed...).  Although, still in a semi-reclining position.  

And the best news.  I have been able to get back out on a bike this week.  Sunday marked the 4wk anniversary of the crash...and so I got out for a short, easy ride.  On the road, on a mountain bike.  An hour...21 kms...slow.  But it was the max the back muscles could endure before spasming.

Then Monday, over 45 kms...still on a mountain bike...but threw in some rail trail...

And Wednesday...over 55 kms...on a road-adventure bike (Ti Kona Rove) on road and gravel.

So far that is the farthest/longest the muscles and bones will tolerate.  So far yet to go.

Still not fit enough to tolerate a bike ride, and weight workout in the same have to mix it up for now.  However, my sights remain set on repairing and getting race fit over the winter for next season.

The short term goal, for now is to get healthy and fit enough to act as sweep for Substance Projects' 40km Howling Coyote race.  Which is coming up very soon!!  You registered yet?

So there you have it...that is where I am at.  Enough about me...

There have been some very cool races/rides in the previous 4 weeks.  Besides the Fall 8 Hour, there has been Christian's Invitational Dirty Nein, the Batty Cross, The Energy Crusher.  By all accounts, all of them looked to have been amazing.  So much cool stuff has been going on!

And to finish off...with some folks way more exciting than me.  A video that Giant had posted on his page.  I think this video is great...the XC MTB women promoting their sport.

To me the women's XC World Circuit is some of the most exciting bike racing to watch.  Not only because we have local hero Emily in top competition...but it seems to be way more competetive than the guys.

So on that happy note...till next time...

Stay posted!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Time for a Break

As a matter of preference I try to avoid posting personal info on social media...or anywhere else for that matter.  I also try to make my blog posts more about races, MTB activities, and other riders as much as possible.  Not only because I rather value my privacy, and my family's privacy...but there is also the fact that I am rather mundane, boring even...and there are so many more worthy stories in our MTB community.

However...I have been increasingly questioned about my recent inactivity and recent absence from the trails. it is...

Man....I'm barely even started!! it is...On September 9ths Sunday Riot ride I crashed my mountain bike.  It should have been a rather innocuous crash...over the bars...roll out of it...carry on.  However, this time my bike persisted in occupying my landing area, and in an attempt to avoid landing on it I hit the hardpack ground speed, descending a hill.  At least that is how I remember happened so fast, in the blink of a flash...or flash of a blink...whatever.  Anyways....maybe I did partially land on my bike.  Like I happened very fast, and I hit very hard on my right side and shoulder.

Mostly at first...I was quite scared for my well being...seriously.  I had heavily knocked the wind out of myself...and I had felt bones pop somewhere in my back.  So, as Jonathan rushed to pull my bike off of me, I managed to choke out a request that he not touch me.  I lay there on the ground for a couple of minutes, catching my breath back...and assessing my ability to feel and move my extremities, while the remainder of our group rolled up to the crash site.

Seriously, I really was worried, I had parts that hurt more than I am used to.  So, I can not properly express how much I appreciate the value of having such very good friends.  Jonathan, Oggie, KarenD, NewfieSteve, and PowerPaul...all took care of me.  The applicable word there is 'care'.  So much THANK YOU to my friends.  They assessed the situation, gave me time to gather myself...this was one time I knew I was injured enough that I couldn't ride my bike out.  I knew I had broken some back bones, and my right arm wasn't working properly.  So they helped walk me out from the trail.  Mostly I was afraid to fall again...we had a couple of hills to negotiate to walk out.  PowerPaul sped back to my house to get his truck to drive me home.  After, convincing a very concerned Lois, that I was mostly OK...and a quick shower to clean didn't take much convincing from my friends that I should go to emerge.  Plus, Lois called our family doctors office (They have an after hours nurse on call)...and that was their strong recommendation.  So off we went. make a long, boring story a shorter, boring story.  A broken collarbone, and some broken ribs.  ( bike is fine...a scuffed grip...but that is it!).  And no concussion.

Nine days later...on September 18th, I went in to see Doctor Smith (that is actually his real name!)

Nope...that's Agent Smith...different guy....
maybe a brother or something...

The bones are healing ahead of schedule...which is great.  The photo below is the collarbone...the bottom image is the one taken on the day of the crash at emerge...the top image is 9 days later at DocSmiths fracture clinic.  (I have to say if you are ever unlucky enough to need a fracture doc...DocSmith at JoeBrant is amazing!)

The biggest problem for me is not the the back muscles spasming/cramping/knotting around the broken ribs.  The ribs (and clavicle) are healing great...but the back muscles are most uncomfortable.  I have been living life for the last two weeks in a reclining chair...and getting very, very antsy.  Of course, there are no words great enough to express how much a truly loving, caring, understanding spouse is at times like these.  Lois, has been willingly looking after my every times forcing me to get the rest/recovery I need.

I did manage to get into the bike shop for a couple of partial days...and I was able to get out and about a bit this last Saturday with family visiting from Saskatchewan, and MattyTee visiting from Windsor...and I am looking forward to gradually getting a little more active this week.

It's probably going to be at least a couple more weeks until I am back on a bike (maybe I will resort to a trainer earlier)...but it won't likely be until later fall that I am really able to ride.  I have a second follow up visit with DocSmith on October 9th so will know more then.

Anyways, I had planned to take most of this season off from racing, and just enjoy riding...but this was not in the plans.  So...I will work to be back.  And I plan on hitting as many endurance mountain bike races as possible next season.

So...that's the story.  I'll have something a little more fun for next post...I hope.

Stay posted!

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Racing...We've Got our Local Heroes!

So, as I have mentioned, I am not racing so much this season.  But some of you are absolutely tearing up the MTB scene...

Karen - BC Bike Race
A little 7 day stage race in the rugged coastline/Rocky Mountains of British Columbia.  Karen worried her arse off going into this that she would have trouble keeping pace with a very tough local field.  We all knew she would kill it, and I reassured her of such several times.  You don't earn the nickname ToughDuff for being a wimp.  We were right...

She consistently held 2nd place in her category throughout the 7 days...and pushed for 1st every day...even after crashing and losing some skin and blood in a later stage.  To be anywhere near the podium on one of the toughest MTB races in the world...not to mention a solid 2nd place finish.  That is just straight up accomplishment this Specialized Ambasador should be proud of!

Sarah - Hardcore 24 Hour MTB Relay Race
Sarah normally races her Single Speed at the Summer Solstice 24 hour MTB relay race, solo,  in Albion Hills Ontario...and 'normally' destroys the solo female category, and most of the male solo riders.  Sadly, this year the solo field at this race sold out in the blink of an eye...almost literally, and Sarah did not get in in time.  (It really was not proper SS24 without Sarah there!!)

So, Sarah, on a whim...decides to head to NY to take part in the Hardcore24 (New York State's only 24 Hour MTB relay race).  A demanding course of shale, rock, and roots with 275m of climbing per lap...not a race most would do on a whim.  But Sarah is as tough and strong of a rider as you will find anywhere...seriously.  So, off she heads to NY and pummels the course and the entire field of solo competitors into submission in true Sarah style.  Her goal was 20 laps, she hit that at 10:30am with still an hour and a half to go in the race!  She took the OVERALL win...and set a new ladies distance record!!  Unbelievable...unless you know Sarah and have ever ridden with her!  An example of hardcore!

Bevin - Quebec SingleTrack Experience
One of the most mild-mannered, happiest, unassuming folks you might ever meet...until you get him on a mountain bike.  Then he kind of 'borrows' Bruce Banner's alter ego and goes all kinds of hardcore...almost angry even.  Able to push crazy wattages for extended periods...all with a smile of glee on his face (don't let that smile fool you!!)...he is a monster MTB nemesis.  And don't even think of cutting his hair...that will only make him 'angrier'!

Bevin headed up to the QSE to prove that 7 days of MTB racing on harsh northern Canadian Shield singletrack was no match for all of his preparation.  And he was right.  Day after day of consistent push, through rock, roots, and forest come in 2nd in his category...and 7th overall out of the entire field!!  (Uncompetetive folks don't do these races).  Truly Incredible!! (Get the reference??). If you see Bevin shake his hand in congratulations...but do it carefully...

Ian - Leadville
You'll be hard pressed to find a harder working competetive mountain biker anywhere.  Ian takes the sport seriously...but has so much fun doing it.  Always a boisterous laugh...while he drops you. (Well, drops me...every race...).  Just to prove it...Ian chooses the toughest races to test himself.

Bring on the iconic Leadville.  100 miles, with 4000m of climbing....already starting at extreme elevation.  Ian set out this year to better his previous year's conquering of Leadville, where he earned himself the legendary belt buckle.  He pummelled his previous performance!!  The 100 miles in 8hrs4mins!!  Fastest Canadian!!  60th place overall out of 1500 competitors!!  The big belt buckle...well earned!  Just a huge 'WOW'!!

Jonathan - Eager Beaver 2.0
A relative newcomer to the MTB scene.  One 8 hour solo under his belt...and taking charge of my pit area for the 24 hour Summer Solstice solo event may have him hooked on MTB endurance events.  Look for him to solo 2019 24hr Summer Solstice.  Never one to call for an endurance ride to end and head home...(seriously....never....yet...).

Jonathan signed up for Substance Projects Stupercross series and completed the ElBandito unscathed.  So when the 160 km Eager Beaver approached, I dared him to do it on my single speed gravel bike.  100 miles of varied terrain...mostly gravel...but it's the almost 2000m of climbing in the first half of the race that makes this challenge almost traumatic!!  But Jonny took my fact he jumped at it!!  And then he made the race challenge look ordinary.  160 kms, 2000m of climbing, on gravel, sand, some road, some trail...on a single 6 hours 37 minutes.  Taking the win in the single speed his first single speed race.  Watch out for this cat in the more hiding, Jonathan!!  We will be watching for ya now!!

So there ya, have it....some of you are kicking some MTB racing course arse!!  (Is that a thing???).  And there are more of you making MTB race mayhem.  Crank the Shield just finished so there will be stories from there that I look forward to hearing/reading.  

Meanwhile, I have been enjoying a lazy year...not competitive....riding for fun.  Actually on vacation in Saskatchewan as I write this...getting fatter every word typed.  But writing this has been motivational.  The year 'off' has been thoroughly enjoyable, but perhaps it is time to get my race mojo back in gear.  (Is that a thing??).  The competetive thing is telling me it's time to wake up.  Get some proper diet going (got a few - a lot - of pounds to lose!), and some training plan planned.  Come back ready to race for next spring...or at least keep some of you in sight on the trails.

For now...I have a couple more days in Saskatchewan...

Stay posted!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

An Update, Late, and much to Encapsulate

So ya...I guess I haven't posted for quite a while.  And no really good reasons.  Just spending as much free time riding a bike...and posting has fallen more to the back burner.  I've been posting rather regularly, but I really like writing this thing just gotta find that balance, I guess.  I suppose that is really life's eternal endgame?? deserve an update, so here it be...

The obvious truth is I haven't really been racing so much this season.  I did the Spring 8 Hour...which I did post about on my last post.  And I did the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice....which I have not posted a review or update.  The 24 Hour did not really work out the way I had planned.  No 'A' team, "I love it when a plan comes together" for me on this one.  (OK...I have to be rather old to get that reference...but...I am.)

 By my third lap I was burning up.  I didn't realize at the time I was feverish...just thought I wasn't dealing with the heat well (I usually deal with the heat just fine).  By lap 4 I was starting to feel nauseous. By lap 5 I was full on hugely ill.  Spent an hour in the port o' potty vomiting violently, repeatedly.  So much that Jonny came to check on me to make sure I was OK.  

I have to say, Jonny was an amazing pit boss.  He took care of me, and my bike, like a pro...and a friend.  It was my honour to have him on my team.

I was actually so sick, I was seriously considering calling an ambulance, it was seeming to never end.  It eventually let up enough, that I was able to make it back to our camp and collapse.  Holing up in my tent, sleeping like a dead man for many hours.  The race was secondary at this point...getting to feeling sub-human was the priority.

After 11 or more hours....the nausea started to pass, and I almost began to feel human again.  Enough that I determined to get back on my bike and make a go of it.  And I did, for a couple of more laps...then the race organizers called the race.  The steadily increasing rain was making the course very slick and dangerous.  It was the right call.  However, I had only managed a measly 6 laps.  My goal was to win this thing (my age category), with somewhere between 15 and 20 laps.

(The real question, for me, is what happened to dskunk, DavidS???  He is The Danger Man, the Toughest Male SS Solo around!!  But it seems he stopped after 11 laps.  What's the story here, Dave??)

So I will look to next year to get my revenge on Summer Solstice.  And it seems that Jonny will be with me there again....this time as a competitor.  I beleive the experience got him hooked!!  (It happens...this sport is more addictive than meth!!).  Stay tuned on this one!!

As I mentioned, I have not been racing so much this season.  No O'cups at all....that style of racing is not my style.  I missed the summer 8 hour...and I missed the first of Dan's (SubstanceProjects) gravel race of his Stuporcross series.  

Some of it has to do with my Saturdays being booked but the real truth is I have just been enjoying riding my bikes in a less formal atmosphere.  Get on and go whenever I wish wherever I want.  Sometimes solo, sometimes with friends.  Always better with company...almost.

More folks are coming out to take part in my Sunday Riot rides...surprisingly.  These rides are not for the faint of heart.  I have had riders come out and react, "Holy shite!  This is rediculous!  When can we go back??"  The rides are not blazing fast, cuz I am not blazing fast.  But they are epically long...and on the varied terrain of our local trails...of which there are many kilometers worth, literally right out my front door.  Fast flowy bermed singletrack, doubletrack, rocks, roots, short punchy climbs, long extended climbs.  As much elevation as you can dream (nightmare??) of, here on the escarpment.  It's all here...and I can't get enough of it.  A ride less than three hours is hardly worth putting the gear on for.  

So the Sunday Riot rides are usually 5+ hours.  And almost always finish with a feast (including beverages) provided by she sits and listens (and almost believes) the stories of that days ride, and whatever else may be going on.  (Always interesting when Oggie attends!).

This Sunday's ride will be a double shot of epic.  (8 hours??  2000m elevation???). Why?  Well why not???  Besides, we have to make up for the ride where Al tried to do his best PhilGil impression!  

Looked nasty!!  But nothing actually broken, or torn.  Al will be back at it in no time!

I actually think it was the Sunday Riot rides that got Jonny hooked onto the marathon mountain bike scene.  Open to everyone....if you dare.  

With the growing popularity of the gravel grinder, Jonny has also instituted the Jonny (yeah we make the most creative ride names...) Gravel ride.  Usually Friday evenings after 6pm. Throw in some rail trail, gravel roads, some mountain bike trails, bike paths, and pavement, some waterfront, some country roads...for more epic variety.  Long enough to require lights to return...and a great excuse to finish off the Friday night with a cold one!  Sometimes it's just Jonny and me...sometimes it's a group who dares to come out and see what we are up to.  You??

I even occasionally do a ride with gears.  Who knew!!

Anyways that's what I have been up to.  I expect to take part in the fall 8 hour...and at least one of Dan's gravel crossers.  And I plan to do some bike packing....  And fit in whatever else I can.

And I will endeavour to keep y'all more informed (sorry!!) to add to the flavour that is out there.  TeamColin's blogs are getting super popular, Steve's RideCycleSpin posts are always a great read.  And heck, even BarryC is staying almost glued and posting race reports!!  


Stay posted!