Monday, February 28, 2011

Before it's gone

It seems like Awenda Park is turning anti skiing, it's not that they are stopping you from attempting it, it just seems to be impossible to actually do it. This was attempt number to for some good miles on the trails, this was fail number two. The snow seems to have some glue like substance in it which made forward motion almost impossible. We shuffled along with random success before calling it at the 7 km mark. It was just that evil snow for classic skiing, wet, snowball making type snow. This makes for hero type conditions for skate skiing. To the bay!!!

It was perfect, the bay had about an inch of coverage. The best conditions all year and it looks like they may stay like that for the next couple days. We toured around and got a great look at the pressure crack that formed a few days earlier, in a few places it's easily 4 feet tall keeping the ice huts in and the snowmobiles out. Some great skiing to be done in the next few days hopefully, Last year the ice disappeared in less than 3 days in the beginning of March. There is a strong chance of that happening again this year with the cold weather calendar (wood pile) in my basement starting to run low, spring is right around the corner.

A solid training week with lots of hours, this means I'm feeling a little achy. Time for a tune up from Dr. Bill.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Skiing in the past

How did I think that racing my bike in February would some how give me the strength to ride the trainer for the next month or until it's at least it's warm enough for every ride to be outdoors. Who was I fooling, even with every type of stimulation to make the indoor stuff easier from Tour videos to full laps of previous race courses on the tv the padded room is beginning to become my least favorite room in the house.

It happened again yesterday, some specific things needed to be done on the trainer, I started, I got half way, I got bored, annoyed, frustrated as I looked out the window and the semi nice windless day. I've been really good all winter until this point with disciplining myself to stay and finish, let's be honest, the trainer sucks, rollers are amusing for 10 minutes and then they fall into the same category as the trainer. Now with more and more outdoor rides being possible, including a trail ride doing what caged rodents are forced to do is just not right. I'm not a hamster, get me off this dam wheel. Putting cheese in front of me doesn't even work. I stopped.

Screw it I'm playing outside in the snow. It won't be long now before it's gone, this includes the ice. With two bouncing dogs in need of a fast paced run there was only one option. Bike shoes changed to ski boots and a quick drive over to Victoria Harbour docks for a rip up and down Hog's Bay. Yet again perfect conditions. No wind, just a slight dusting of snow for that just needed grip but yet not thick enough to slow the amazing glide of glare ice. Yet again no hills. AWWWWWWWWWW

Coming down the backside of the bay where the remains of the now demolished grain elevators (link)stood I saw some of the last remaining history of the area. Some sort of oven, this side of the bay had a nice beach, may have been for those beach party bbq's that the 1930's were famous for.

Quick glance and I shuffled along. There was some time restrictions on me, I should have skipped the trainer completely and just skied, that hind sight 20/20 vision. A 1:15 on the bay had me smiling and craving more. It may be late season but better late than never, just as being on the bike is becoming more and more important. Doesn't look like we'll be losing the ice for at least a couple more weeks, lots of time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lab tests

First off before the previous days adventures I must clear things up just a little. The wedding in the land of Oz is not Shannon's and mine. We are going to a wedding as spectators. After a few text and a few more emails I realized that it could be a little misleading. I won't run off out of the country to get married and I promise to do it in the off season so those fellow cyclists can all enjoy the social side of things.

So now that life is all in check for the moment, it was one of those days that I swapped the work truck for the bike for the morning. After the newly repaired cross bike I felt confident enough in it to head back into the hills of Tay and Oro. There will be no chain issues now, I hope. A nice warm up in the not to cold conditions as I made the turn onto Vasey line for the first of many climbs. How many climbs, well the hopes were to hit up as many long steady climbs as possible. I'm the first to say that I'm not much of a climber, I manage to bullshit my way up them, I never really enjoy them, until today.

It wasn't even that cold but after a couple days of mild sunny weather the body has already adjusted, I was finding my body mainly my feet were not having a great time and fighting to stay warm. They were fine on the climbs with a slightly elevated heart rate. Blood flow equals warm body, on the flats things continued to remain cozy and warm. Then came the backside of those wonderful hills. Coasting is my favorite thing in the world, I feel I'm very good at it, I love to do it any chance I can. Unless I'm cold, I hate it. Windchill, low heart rate, etc etc meant cold. Every time I just started feeling cozy and warm I had a downhill to deal with. I played with the options, go down very quickly with a higher windchill and freeze or ride the brakes and go down slowly with a low heart rate and freeze. I kept motoring along, sometimes smiling (uphill) sometimes grumpy( downhill). The hours added up along with the vertical feet.

This was a ride that had no real set direction or route, I've never altered a ride as much as I did yesterday. I was searching for climbs, I was turning down dead end roads just to catch a good hill. This type of plan lead me down a random road off Vasey line. The crescent happened to have a good rise halfway around, as I'm pedaling with my head down, it was near the end of the ride, I caught out the corner of my eye some motion. A glance back over the shoulder, it's a dog, a black lab to be specific and he is looking at me like I'm going to bd his new best friend or a midday snack. Timing was right as I hit the flats, I accelerated, he accelerated. Same speed. On came the downhill, with out it I may have been a new chew toy. A glance back and the lab was still in chase. I have to admit I was impressed with the speed the dog was capable of. A hard left turn and I was back on Vasey line heading for home.

The day thrills were not over yet as I turned onto the 9th line for the last run toward home. As I begin to cool down near the end of the concession on a slight downhill grade yet again a black blob of movement catches my attention, yet again it's a black lab. I'm starting to pick up the pace, so is the dog. Will I need my sprinting legs? Do I have sprinting legs? It's February, I'm going to be eaten. Yet again the lab impressed me with it's speed, I was saved by modern technology and the invisible electric fence in the yard. I think there was at least one shock given. I live to ride another day.

4 hours, 3500 feet of climbing, pretty much jammed in every hill in the grid north of the 400. I had the option of just riding up and down beside the ski hill but that would have made me miserable. I survived, the bike survived to play another day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ticking off

No I'm not in a foul mood, of course intervals on the vomit machine isn't exactly my favorite thing to be doing. When you need pen and paper to keep track of how many you've done or the unfortunate side of what is left to do I'm not in the most pleasant frame of mind. It was in those rest sections I started to think about what I'm training for this year. What races will I be playing at, what ones will I be spectating, etc etc etc. A good chunk of the season has been planned out but not set in paper, until now. Sort of. Maybe. Almost.

Looking at the schedule the next on the agenda will be Homage to Ice, had great fun last year, good early season test of the legs. I will say that I miss the Uxbridge Icebreaker, so many good memories. Homage will also be used to see how trail marking will be for a race further on in the season. Every event Dan seems to be getting even better.

The first of the tentative races of the year will be Paris to Ancaster. Why tentative, I'm going to be fully entertained by two skinny men in spandex on a beach cruising tandem. If the twins are there to defend their win last year I'm going and planning on riding with them just to spend 60 km laughing. A suggestion was made in one of those random conversations about video taping it, possibilities?

I'm still back in forth on which race to do in May, the 100 miler is getting very very tempting. As mentioned it will depend more on who is going and how the marking will be. Of course the following weekend is the 8 hour in the same location. It may be a coin toss, there is the potential of being at both with the 8 hour turning into a tag with Shannon. Maybe, not sure still lots of time to decide.

24 hour of Solstice, I'm pretty sure with all the rambling, bickering and arguing Tristan and I have teamed up for another kick at the can for the tag team. Yes you can eat what you want, yes you went to fast on the first lap. A couple weeks of rest will be had before the next race. I've thought about Lost in the Rocks in Trees many times. I've heard it's a destructive course to bikes, I'm still thinking about it but I'm pretty sure it will be the Summer 8 hour at Hardwood. There could be two solo's in the pits. More more on that as the season moves along. This lead into August.

Will I defend the 9 hour of Mountainview title, hard to say. The plan at this point is to do Hot August Nights with Shannon tag. Weekends are limited, time will tell. Heading into the fall, pretty much simple answer. Hardwood fall 8 hour solo, will attempt to win the solo category for the 3rd year in a row. Normally I call it a season after this with the Hardwood Single track Challenge just thrown in for fun, this race may still be in the cards but the highlight of the year could be this. Shannon and I are Australia bound in October, a wedding is part of it, a race could also be part of it. Some riding will be happening no matter what but I'm hoping to play with the Aussi's in their backyard. Currently looking for something in the 3-6 hour range. Any suggestions? We are going to be in the north western side of the country but that doesn't restrict much. I may need to get some packing lessons from Mr. Watson as I take on my hockey career for that flight.

As for Ontario and Canada Cups this year, I'll be away cheering Shannon on at some running races on a couple of those weekends so at this point they will be game day type decisions on what I hit up or spectate. Of course provincials at the new venue may be a must do. As for cyclocross, my one race a year will probably be continued again for the 2011 season. I won't even list the thoughts on the marathon series, it's there, it's always in the cards, they are like the O-cups as game day type play.

Links and to do list will be put up shortly. So much for a chill race season for 2011.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Avoiding road tolls

After the ski and the race my craving for anything non road based or trainer trapped was high. It won't be long before the big road miles begin so it was again like Top Gear, time for a challenge. How far can I go on the mountain bike with the minimal amount of it being spent on pavement. This is normally not much of a question during the summer with my big backyard linking into the best trails Ontario offers. In the winter, well that's makes it just a little bit harder. After a km of evil asphalt I turned right for a change. Following some of those Top Gear rules they trump all Nascar guidelines. I started into this.

Since snowmobile season seems to have come to an end in this area, at least on the trails someone may as well use it. It salsa meant I didn't have to worry to much at being run down by some motorized toboggan. Most sledders I will say are pretty cool and usually give the thumbs up when they see me riding out here, of course there is always one that has to be the idiot.

Followed the trail until it linked up to the old trestle crossing. Lots of history in this area involving trains and grain ships, the trestle formally being the longest wooden bridge in I believe the world. Please don't quote me on that, no time to research this morning. Either way a bridge needs something to be a bridge over, in this case it's Hog's Bay. Yep it was a stroll out on the ice. Part of the ride was a little recon work for a potentially long skate ski, a very long skate ski.

What was I checking for, snow. After the previous day of play I was hoping the wind blew the snow someplace and that someplace was west of my home channel. See for yourself.

Conditions were at about 75 percent ride able. No open water if that's what you're thinking. It's bulletproof out there, I was expecting to see a car or two but being the middle of the week no go. The only problem was that bike tires don't work well on bare ice. Of course I'm running the ultimate in winter tire traction, XCR Mud's have been my tire of choice for the last few years. Less weight than studded tires and most of the time the same amount of traction.

I found myself using a little bit of common sense and walked my bike across a few of the clear sections, it's very amusing watching the back of the bike drift in what ever direction it felt like. I did everything I could to keep my feet drifting in the direction I wanted them to go. Only a few km were put in on the bay before heading back to snowmobile trails. A few side streets were used to bounce from trail to trail before returning to the main trail I started on. Another 2.5 hour day with about 30 minutes of it spent on roads. I'll be waiting to get the bill in the mail. Hoping for that little dusting of snow, the dogs need a good run and I'm craving an epic skate ski.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It turned into one of those days, one of those days where conditions were perfect. Ok not perfect but 98.4 percent perfect. It was one of those rare times that I wish we had just a little bit more snow. Of course I would be very picky on where that snow went. The previous weekend's hurricane like winds did do something spectacular, they cleared the snow off Georgian Bay. In many attempts to get a big endurance day out on the bay have been attempted the conditions have just not been right all winter. Until now. Well almost.

The monster and I did the 2 minute stroll from my place down to the channel, skate skis in hand. Once I got there I wondered if I brought the right tool for the job. Skates could have almost been used, everything off the snowmobile track was mirror smooth, not great for skiing, not great for any real type of movement unless you had sharp metal attached to your feet. The snowmobile track though was chewed up just enough for some traction, the glide was, well, amazing. There were small patches of blown snow that made things even better,. Plan A.

As the monster and I made our way past the drunken winter village, like a lot of trailer parks during tornado's there were a few homes missing from the wind, I could see my hopeful destination. A loop around the island was the plan, it's a big island. As we got closer the snow patches got slimmer in the open bay. That didn't stop us, the 2 foot high wall of ice did in the distance. A big pressure crack in our patch, some updates from a drunken local that it happened this morning. Not safe at this time. Time to turn around for plan B.

Along the bay shoreline the snow was perfect. It was almost like skiing on the finest beach sand on some tropical island. With the sun at full force it was amazing. Perfect traction, amazing glide, minimal effort, no hills. Of course with the added traction Molly picked up her pace also. Up and down the bay a couple times before making our way back to the channel skating rink. An hour and a half of bay time had me smiling.

This and the past weekends adventure made the next part even harder. I thought that the race would help fuel me until the melt for times on the trainer. Didn't help, made it worse, I was tempted to close the blind in the padded room, ignorance is bliss and attempting to not know that it was sunny outside would help. Of course I didn't, I put my head into it and did what needed to be done. It won't be long now that sitting at the bottom of the hill recovering doesn't include freezing to death. I'm not a hill fan to start with unless it means descending but standing around in the cold makes the unenjoyable now torture. Regardless of the boredom, total play time was just over 2.5 hours. Legs are beginning to feel better. Time to trash them again.

The sun is up, what will it bring today? The weekend is forecasting just enough snow to make for pristine ice travel. Today, tomorrow, the next the week is looking good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FrostBike Round 2

As promised, pictures.

Could this be a future million dollar race horse? Maybe, I just did everything I could not to be kicked or pushed around by the mother. Cute little thing but didn't really respond well to "Here horsy, horsy, horsy"

Sucking up to Shannon, not the greatest weather for a trip to the falls. It seemed that the Amercian's bribed Mother Nature and kept the sun on their side of the falls. Did see a few Darwin Award attempts almost happen. For some reason warning signs and icy railings and fast moving water are not enough of a deterent.

One of the many bridges around the locks. Pretty cool views on the warm up ride. Yes I'm very aware that i'm not in my normal race kit. It's warm and it's winter. Need I say more. Looking forward to heading back down in the warm weather armed with road bikes and no schedule. I've been told that there is some amazing riding to be done down there.

Lining up with the fast crew, over stepping myself a little at this time of the year? It was going to hurt no matter who I lined up with.

The course was a mix of single track, snow covered pathways, and a few side roads. Not a huge amount of climbing which pretty much meant you were on the gas the whole time. When a little rise appeared it hurt like hell. The single track was great and will help me get through the next month or so until the snow melts here.

After 4 laps and around 4 hours of riding. Still smiling, just happy to be out riding my bike.

The dead body locked in the trunk. Amazing enough it cleaned up easily.

An easy spin followed with a long stretching session took up the evening with some bike cleaning mixed in took up Monday. 4 hours of riding followed shortly after with a 3.5 hour drive home left the body feeling a little out of whack. Still worth every minute of it.

Monday, February 21, 2011


What a weekend. It's the only way to start. This could turn into a typical two day post about a race because of all that happened. There were a few points on the Saturday that the ability to even get out of mid northern Ontario began. For some resin hurricane Iambitch decided to make it's way to Ontario instead of some tropical island down south. Whiteouts, slow traffic, snow plows, and trees down seemed to be the order of the morning. That was what I was in for if I could ever finish packing. It's a very exciting thing to wander around your basement with a headlamp on trying to find stuff. The power outage just added to the excitement. Some how I managed to not forget anything.

South bound finally and I'd already got a warning on what I was driving into from Shannon. I figured it would be clear by the time I headed to her work. Little did I know, forced detours by closed highways, the thoughts of making it to the race began to start. A quick visit to Shannon's work had me playing with baby race horses.

The trip continued and the weather instantly changed for the better. Seems that for the first time the land of rainbows and butterflies was farther south. When you head this far south you need to do what any couple does, we went to Niagara Falls and did a few tourist type things, none of those included wax museums or casinos. On came the options of where to stay. A few checks on the portable computer thingamabob with some borrowed Internet found us heading to Port Colburne for the night. Staying close to the race was a great idea.

I have to rave about this place a little. We stayed at Canalside. It's a restaurant with a couple rooms above. First off food, fantastic, service fantastic, beer selection, yep fantastic with a list of some locally brewed beers which needed to be tried. Yes the beer was great. Making are way up to the room, huge with kitchen etc. Would we stay there or recommend to others, most certainly. We are already thinking about a trip down this summer with the road bikes to tour around wine country. It's the type of place that you can stay for a few days without being forced to eat out.

On to race day. Sun was up, a good crisp air, it was looking like a perfect day. It was. After the quick low down at registration headed over to the course for a lap. It's seems like it's not very often that I race some where that I've never ridden. Add that to the fact that my body has not seen or responded to single track in almost 4 months I figured it may be a good idea to ride around once. I was joined by the Monster clan rocking the Misfit's. Trail conditions were perfect. We cruised around the course, I started smiling. It felt great to be riding over, stuff. Full lap done it was just about time to pick up the pace.

Start time, staged in the first wave of 5. lined up with the 3 Liberty team riders and Shorthills local fast guy JC. Intensity has not been on the books, not for a while. I knew this would hurt and since I'm not known for being fast in the first 30 minutes of any race I had a bit of an idea of what may happen. Go time. a quick funnel in to the first single track had me in the middle of the pack. Left and right turns with my eyes crossed was probably not a good thing. It showed. In the first 2 km I probably dabbed a foot more than it was in the pedals, It didn't take long before the gap opened, by this time I was red lined, I tried to regain my breathing and slow the pace a little but race mentality is hard to control. It wasn't the fitness that seemed to be the problem, I had forgotten how to ride single track and when I did seem to remember it was a far from good form.

Continued to push and avoided crashing and blowing up for the remainder of the lap crossing the line with a time that surprisingly enough would give me 3rd in my division and a top 10 overall. Instead of sitting back and relaxing and enjoying a great result to start the season I jumped back in the lineup and went for another lap, this time at a sane pace. I just rode my bike, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the single track, enjoying not being on the trainer. Riding ability began to return, I was loving being on my bike. As I crossed the line the question was asked, "want to go again" Sure, I needed the time in anyways. I rode sweep with 2 of the club members talking a little this and a little that. New trails to be built, etc.

The Shorthills Cycling Club put on an amazing show, great course and an amazing way to kill the winter blues. For me, it was a great way to start the season, 4 hours of riding my bike outdoors, some of that was on the roads but 4 laps of the course left me anxious for spring. My bike on the other hand is still locked in the trunk and will be dealt with later today. It's not looking to happy. Photo's later, time is short this morning. I must saw thank you to the girl, Shannon who was so patient as I went out for another lap, followed by another. Watch out she could be chasing me around in the near future.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Came, gone, broke

Spring came and it went. It lasted long enough for a nice spring like ride. My cross bike was fixed then it broke. This time catastrophically. Yet another link broke on the chain, it's now become an anchor. I was unable to ride home from this break, the old "Mom can you come get me, I'm broken in the middle of no where" phone call went out. This found me doing some running. Better to run with a bike then sit patiently at the side of the road waiting to be eaten be some rabid animal. More to all of this, story will unfold later. Early morning spin then off for a 4 hour drive to the southern side of Ontario.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Should have McGyever'd it

How did this survive?

My high tech fix during the ride of rotating it back in line with the other links seemed to work. If I'd had my trusty Swiss Army knife I would have cut down a tree and made a new link out of the trunk. Lucky for the earth I left it at home. Lucky for me I didn't die on the ride. It It gave me a chance for some quality time with the bikes last night had me giving the cross bike the TLC that it needed after it's last adventure and preparation for it's next. It's next it's coming sooner than later, a few hours from now. Great timing that I'm taking today off for our new mid winter long weekend rather than Monday. Conditions out side are amazing, not for winter activities, not at 10 degrees and sunny breaks. Nope it's looking like a great day to ride a bike for a long time.

Where I'll be going? I've yet to decide but the CX will be the weapon of choice. Food must be eaten, time to get ready to play before winter attempts to return. Hopefully it leads to some great conditions for this weekends trip south to the Frost Bike race.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

slightly disappointed

I'm actually a little disappointed in yesterdays ride. Don't get me wrong, overall it was fantastic but it was still missing just one key ingredient. Death, there was no death or dismemberment. Most rides should never ever have anything in the lines of this but there are those rare occasions when the planet aline and every other myth and legend come true. This was one of those rides.

Like any other group ride Tristan was his normal unfashionably late. Once the first round of smack talk finished it was off to the hills of Oro. I had a good route in my head and with what would be clear roads hopefully it should have been an incident free ride. Of course what fun would that be, T and I opted for cross bikes with cross tires. Jacob on the other hand felt that the roads would be clear enough to ride his very pretty and new TCR with very non grippy on snow type tires. Oh wait those are called slicks. Everything was fine even after the first climb where we expected to drop Tristan and watch him die by way of the cougar. Didn't happen.

As the usual turn to the left happened so did the sketchy roads. The roads were great if you were riding the proper bike, some were not. As Tristan and I rode ahead I kept waiting for that wonderful sound that carbon, bones and ice make as they collide together. This continued for a good portion of the ride, that sound never happened. Jacob avoided death. The crash wouldn't have killed him but the potential broken bike and broken bones would have made him incapable of continueing on, a Top Gear rule came into play. Some may know it, for others. If one of the group breaks down in any way, leave him it's not your problem. A broken lobby part would have made him easy pray for the local cougars. Unfortunately Jacob managed to stay up. Time to move to the next in the group.

That would be me, don't worry there are Tristan stories to be told. Mine was pretty simple. Legs felt great most of the time but my bike started to make this very strange clicking noise and attempted to shift it's self a couple times. Then I dropped a chain on the steepest part of the 4th line climb. Against my better judgement I jumped off and ran the rest of it, I again still feel that running should only be done when being chased and survival instinct kicks in. Refer to the Top Gear rule. Back with the two and with my chain on I continued to get weird noises out of my bike. As we made our way to the next steep section of yet another good climb we all figured my chain had a frozen or bent link. Some how I made it to the top and amazingly enough everyone stopped long enough for a quick once over on the bike. Yep, broken link. Not fully broken but almost amazed it held together. Hi tech fix of rotating the one side of it back in line and some very smooth pedaling. For some miracle reason the bike started to feel better. It continued to climb fine and I held on with no problem considering all the effort that was used riding with both my fingers and toes crossed for the rest of the ride. I didn't die this day either.

On comes Tristan, right from the start we tried to kill him. Attacked on every climb in hopes of a complete blow up that would leave his now sobering up and starting to train again no muscle definition body on the side of the road making him easy prey for what ever animal wandered by. Over and over again we tried, and over and over again he managed to hold on. Attempts to blind him with salt in the eyes failed also. Those who don't ride with glasses are fair game on wet roads. Even this tactic couldn't crash him out and the salt in the mouth probably helped him from cracking. One last attempt was made on the home stretch. "Jacob how does your bike handle road kill?" " No problem!" A few seconds later the TCR is air borne over the dead squirrel. A half second later was the scream that would make you think we had a 11 year old girl riding behind us. This unfortunately was not followed by the sounds of metal on pavement. Tristan's limited bike handling skills have improved and some how avoided the black furry landmine. Again no death.

Rolled back into the driveway with a 2:15 ride and 2000 feet of climbing. Not a bad start to the outdoor season. More of that to come, right now it's that grown up work time and more coffee. More thrills tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Living with a monster

Forget Marley and Me, Molly and me have had more and better stories. The movie rights are for sale for a reasonable price. As the coin toss last night lead me out to Copeland with the rocket skis and the Monster. The forest seemed empty except for the two of us. Watching Molly run up the trail brought back memories. The things she has done, who she has passed, who she has crashed out, the injuries she has had and came back from. I also had realized that I missed her birthday.

It's hard to believe that I've had her for 7 years now, it's also hard that believe that someone gave her up to the wiemeriner rescue. I still remember the day I went to the rescue to meet her, there was some hesitation, glad I didn't hesitate that much. It didn't take long for us to bond. From there it's been a blur of stories and quotes. Mom's loving support saying that she acts just like I did when I was a teenager, revenge is a bitch isn't it. Those were not the exact works but the same idea. Over the next year there were many times I wanted to &(&#$, guess that's how my parents felt also.

That's when Molly cycling career started, first with short trail rides. A tired dog lead to a happy Matt. Of course Molly took a little to learn the rules of single track, like rule number one, don't stop dead to sniff something when you are leading. After a few times of being able to stop in time her luck ran out and she felt a 26 inch dry tire up her ass. Being the smart girl she is her speed ability to judge terrain, speed, and the wonderful sound of disc brakes she learned when she should lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. It didn't take long for her to figure out that I was faster going downhill than her so revenge would be on the uphills. She would get to the top first, turn around and sit down and stare with a taunting look basically saying "speed your ass up weak boy!!!" before bolting ahead again. It continued like this for many years in just about every activity I played in.

Then she started to hit her peak, she learned the single track rules so well that she evolved to a racer, She started running race courses with me for a few pre rides. She still has one hell of a quick lap time around an Albion O-Cup course. Would make most sport racers jealous. Being as competitive as her master Molly began figuring out some of the UCI rules also and applying them to group rides including the MNS rides. If it's not taped it's legal, as her short tracking courses began to make sure she would take the lead. This also included no remorse for wiping out any rider she crashed out or Nascar passed. There were more than one occasion that the pack was split up because of a move. Her thoughts, "it was a clean pass, you just wish you would have thought of it first"

Of course this past year Molly started to slow down, she swelled a little. As that Misfit Fella said at one race "Your dog is looking a little more muscular than in the past" I think that was the one and only time I've heard Peter be politically correct. Of course he called my dog fat, she was. She was also out of shape and that was my fault, attempts to start her back to the old Molly began slowly. That's when the career ending injury happened, her broken leg after the 24 hour race. Who would have thought she would have come back from that, the surgeons sure didn't.

Well the Monster's back, full force and in some cases better than ever. Of course she has her new partner in crime Rogue the wonder strip who will hopefully follow in her footsteps. As we slid around the trails last night in the less than perfect conditions Molly had no choice but to keep a high pace, the icy trails, me on the new rocket skis with the grip zone almost figured out meant for some very fast paced sections. Molly ran with no problem for two hours and roughly 25 km. She returned to the old ways, at the top of every hill waiting patiently for me to catch up. What will this summer bring with her.

As for skiing, a few interesting thoughts. Lots of new leaves down, Mother Nature seems to think that winter may be shorter than normal also. Maybe those rodents were right, if they lied I'll be sending Molly out to chase them around, they wouldn't stand a chance against the Monster!!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time to leave

Am I ready for spring? Most definitely. I'm getting sick of the trainer. Maybe I'm not sick of it just not very enthusiastic about spending quality time with a device that forces you to do a hard effort with little pay off. It's that short term reward that I'm talking about, the long term is pretty obvious. It's that instant gratification that I'm missing, like the downside of a hill, or a good tail wind. Better yet, a sweet piece of single track. I'm beginning to really crave these things.

Don't get me wrong, the xc skiing is great but there unfortunately are things that must be done on the trainer because road conditions and Mother Nature just don't allow for it. It's that time that hill training starts to enter the program. I'm not a huge climbing fan to begin with, attempting to simulate hills on the trainer is just torture. It must be done, or does it? There seems to be a break in the weather coming, right around the same time as many have left for warmer climates. This could work to my favour.

As much as I would love to spend some serious quality time with the knew rocket skis, after the ride on Sunday with Shannon i started to have that "melt dammit" mentality. Screw natural weather conditions for the area. Yes, many years ago the thought of snow gone by April was normal, now it's more be gone by mid February. In this area it just may happen. It's put me in a bit of a training debate for this week. This is looking like the only day all week that skiing may be an option. It also happens to be the day that the sun will be out full force. Do I head to a groom trail in the big back yard and play with the rocket skis? This means I would be in the trees and the shadows. Hmmm.

The bay is also looking potentially perfect. The thaw yesterday followed by the dramatic temperature drop could lead to the best conditions of the season for lake skate skiing. It also means quality time in the sun working on some sort of tan line. My paleness would love some sun. The last thought comes into the perfect roads, clear, spotless, all of them. The thought of road riding is very much crossing my mind, again quality time in the sun, quality time on some hills. What to do, what to do.

With the skiing potentially at an end for at least a week the thoughts should be to head out on slippery sticks but with the first race this weekend and with more specific training now beginning the thoughts would be to the bike. I'm feeling that it could be a coin toss type day. Work of course will be the 4th deciding factor. Maybe I'll just get lucky and the Mother Nature will just make it instant spring and I would have to decide. The trainer would be put into rest mode until next fall, what a wonderful thought.

Monday, February 14, 2011

plan altered

It was a weekend fully of altered plans. Saturday found me anxious and excited for the sun and my skate skis. Two energetic dogs, one energetic person, one very protected yard found me a little un aware on how strong the wind was. A stroll down to Georgian Bay my original thought began to change at about 40 km/h. The wind was great because it clearer and packed the snow on the bay making for what could be great skate conditions, the crazy head wind that I faced didn't even allow me to get out of the channel. The return back to the house was not as energetic, plan B was about to come into affect.

Plan B involved the vomit machine, 30 Watt increases, and feeling like my legs were beaten with baseball bats. In the end I'm pretty content with the results, was not as content being stuck indoors. Hopefully Sunday will be better. It was, the plan included the new skis and a double loop of Awenda Park. The problem, there is that wonderful temperature that the classic skis are normally put away, skate skis come out or better yet bikes are ridden. That's about what happened.

As the morning progressed the thermometer continued to rise. So did the pile of snow that began clumping in the grip zone. Shannon was a solid 2 inches taller. For me, well lets just say the new WC skis were not moving at all. Some playing with the grip zone needs to be done, another day. Skiing plan B, FrostBike training.

Conditions were perfect, roads were pretty clear not including the dirt, slush, puddles, etc. I'd bribed Shannon with the thought that there could be either a beer or a coffee at the mid way point, who would have thought that everything would have been closed when we got to Honey Harbour. Good base miles put in with a 2.5 hour spin. The ride was spent doing some negotiations with Shannon with something involving a 24 hour and tag team. There was lap ratios discussed, there was begging and pleading, the answer still is very open ended, there was no NO used for hot august nights.

Feeling a bit anxious for this weekend, should be a fun time and a great test of the legs.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The great illusion of speed.

Fake speed? If you look fast you are fast? There are so many different descriptions that could be used. There is that illusion of a really fast car and you instantly think that you could never beat it in a drag race, then you watch the drive stall it 3 times in first gear. The illusion of speed gets you farther than you may think. I'm hoping that is the case with for me.

I ski a lot, am I fast at it?? I really don't know because I mainly ski with Shannon and the dogs. In comparison to them the dogs kick my ass all the time. Especially on the hills. Well that might change, they may stay in my draft the next time out. It's not that I will be going faster but the look that I'll be sporting may knock their nerves just a little that they'll want to save a little effort just in case. The fear that I could just throw a massive acceleration down, blowing past them. Of course I know this won't happen but they don't need to know that.

The new classic boots, yes they are flashy. Very fast flashy, just the boots alone is like putting a turbo sticker on the side of a car. You don't have a turbocharged engine but the words alone show speed.

Aww then comes the next step, the new skis.
Am I capable of skiing on Atomic's World Cup Classics? I really don't know but will find out. Will I look extremely fast standing on the track set. Dam right. Will this get me racing ? Possibly but it would still more than likely be on my skates for something like this.

Of course you think I would be anxious to get out on the new setup, I am but I'm being reserved until Sunday. there is still some biking type training to be done in the next couple days. That leads to the next way I'll be looking for false speed. It comes to the bikes.


Yes those are flames and like putting a NOS sticker on my bike these have made me dramatically faster already. So fast that I will be the fastest person on the start line until they actually say go. That look of speed will have everyone intimidated and allow me to lead out for the first 3 feet of the race, then fitness kicks in and it won't matter how many stickers I have on my bike, as riders blow past. Thanks to Shannon I will be looking faster than I really am.

I think I better drink more coffee today, attempts to be jacked up on an excessive amount of caffeine may be the only way I can keep up with my gear.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

crazy lady?

I missed my window last night. I've thought about it a bit and I've yet to have a good battle with Mother Nature. Actually I've had no real good reason to this point to call her names and renew our love/hate relationship we've shared in the past. I've had great driving, pretty good ski conditions, clear roads for ride etc etc. Above all she has been slamming her vengeance on everyone else this year as my snowblower has had a good rest. For some reason others to the south have seemed to have been her focus this year. Hearing all their gripes and complaints about Old Man Winter and Mother Nature has had me smiling and when you smile you can't complain. Until now.

Last night was the first time this year that she pissed me off. Like flash backs of last year the conditions were perfect for everyone else. Head 20 km in any direction and the world was rainbows and butterflies. The problem was getting there. An attempt was made to head just a little ways north for a snowshoe with the dogs. The dogs were wired for an adventure, this of course added to the frustration as the highway heading north became a wall of white with slow moving traffic. It took about 15 seconds for me to decide to bail on the situation. Of course the decision was the easy part as I was forced to drive for another 10 minutes before I could get off the highway. This 10 minutes is normally 2, the return home was uneventful.

As I pulled back in the driveway my original plan went out the windows, the rainbows were gone, the butterflies were dead, Mother Nature became a bitch. My hiking partner for the evening went from the dogs to the snowblower. Clearing my driveway is an aerobic activity, I wore the HR monitor just to see how much. I needed to be in recovery zone tonight, yep that's exactly what it was. Of course it was far from as enjoyable as what the hike would have been. Mother Nature screwed with my fun, piss off lady. Head back south on your vacation and continue to annoy others please.

Attempts will be made to play outside today whether she likes it or not.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rest and recovery

It's such an interesting term depending on what your life includes. Being a somewhat fast cyclist R&R doesn't include a beach chair by the pool. Nope, for most of us sick demented types it still means riding a bike with focus. In this case it was a night of trying to make my legs go fast.

Yes those pale sticks were suffering on the vomit machine well below vomit pace.

From there those pale sticks made their way onto the recovery table, a great visit with my AT who poked and distorted the facial tissues in my legs till things felt back to normal. As close to normal as they may be capable of. Jennie has been doing amazing things with my legs over the last few months, mixed in with Dr. Bill the two of them have kept me not looking like the hunchback in a wheel chair.

The body is feeling great this morning, of course I haven't done anything yet but fill it with coffee. Fuel of choice. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Albino training

The season is getting closer, how do i know? People are leaving the country for someplace warm to train. I've heard California and South Carolina are both nice at this time of year, Pete G and Ben are the boys to talk to about that. For me, well I'm a hardcore Canadian boy who loves winter, most of the time. Maybe it's more that my daily job pays a lot more than my cycling career does and taking time off just isn't viable at this time of the year. I'll be playing in the snow until it's gone.

I will say that looking at the pasty white skin of my body right now some quality time in the sun would be nice right about now. Those permanent tan lines have faded. The minus 18 outside this morning leaves little temptation to sit out in the sun. I'm hoping those little rodents will all be right and in will be an early spring.

Countdown till the first race has begun.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A good feeling

That feeling has returned, it's a good feeling but it is an acquired taste type feeling. The feeling of being weak as you are becoming strong. That feeling of the fear of stairs. The fear of uphills while walking. Yep I got that feeling and after the little stint on that trainer which I knew was going to hurt the feeling was at it peak. Strolling around the dog park with Shannon I couldn't keep pace with the pack of out of shape dog walkers, twice. It's a great feeling.

It's been 3 weeks of solid training and I'm starting to feel a bit fit again. I feel February fit, far from race fit but not I can't make it up that hill with out almost puking and gasping for air out of shape. That said It's time for a rest week. Far from a sleeping type rest week, I'll still be playing, just not as hard.

Time to add a few more of the MNS crew to the daily reading list. Jeremy and Tammy have both started their inter web share with the world page, check them out.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fired up to coast

It started with ladies night, doesn't it always start with ladies night???? It was a fun night at Joyride 150 and Shannon had a blast. For me the bike park is always fun. There was very little riding actually done on my part, more of a social visit and when a chance to get on the pump track or skinnies arouse I did so. For the women that didn't go, you missed out. It was extremely successful from what I saw and I wouldn't surprise if they do another one before the end of the winter.

Now as for me, well the time I did ride it helped get me fired up to ride my bike with actual forward movement. The trainer is great, ok I'm lying, coasting is where its at. This brought on the idea for Saturday morning. The weather was absolutely perfect for outdoor adventures of the two wheeled kind. -8 and sunny with only a slight head wind. The roads were clear, so clear and clean that I left old faithful winter beater in the basement and pulled out the pimped out cross bike. For what I had in mind it seemed like a better choice. A quick phone call to try and twist the arm of someone else to ride with meant at least one extra stop on the ride.

Found myself taking the hilly route south, up to Vasey line and continuing south towards Mt. St. Louis ski resort. Yep some pretty good hills heading this way and with a training mindset still working lots of low cadence up the hills at tempo pace. Much easier than pushing the increase button on the vomit machines display. Well at least better scenery. There were lots of snowmobile trails in this area and an uncountable number of waves from them. An hour and a half after starting a quick stop to persuade someone to ride with me. I felt like a little kid calling at the window, "Can *$@^($ come out and play????" No he has chores to do on rollers.

Next stop came an hour later for a quick top up fluids and energy at a store that doesn't sell Giant's even though they make their bikes. Some jealousy of the fact that I was riding and I was. To this point the ride was completely uneventful. Clear roads, nice drivers, etc. The sketchiness came getting through town, with many drivers focusing on anything but driving. To be expected, most are not expecting to see a cyclist on the road in February. The real thrill of the day came as I made my way on a out of town concession.

What is the thrill of honking at a cyclist as you pass him? Are you hoping that I will wobble and crash? Have you ever thought of the results of what could happen? What if it was a young kid that panicked? Some inbreed redneck hillbilly jack off in a burgundy mid 90's Chrysler Cirrus with a shitty rear window tint job did this. Yes I know your plate number too. Of course I wasn't able to give him the finger because of my dam mitts, the whole hand just doesn't give the same affect. I did give him the big hands in the air with the "What was the point of that" expression. The stop sign was approaching fast, a short sprint was made to try and catch him. Unfortuantly a normally busy intersection was not at the time and the little punk was able to turn away before I caught him. HMMM but I know where you roughly live.

I continued along and looking at the time knew I would be short of my planned ride. Many extra lefts and rights were made adding in distance. This seemed to be the hardest part of the ride. The intensity dropped a little, I was slowed because of in town congestion. This also brought on the cold feet. To this point the body kept pretty comfortable, the sun warming what needed. The clouds had rolled in, the slushy wet roads showed up and my body started to get mad at me starting at the toes. From there it was the bottom of the right foot, quickly making its way to the top of the foot. As the minutes needed counted down the pain threshold started to drop also. Cooling down took a whole new meaning.

Success, I rolled into Shannon's driveway at the 4 hour mark. A trip from Waubaushene to Innisfil complete. The rundown, 2200 feet of climbing, most of that in the first 2 hours of riding, lots of good tempo time put in. Distance is limited because of winter speed, 90 km in 4 hours. This is easily a sub 3 hour ride in the summer. It was great riding outside again, it will make jumping on the trainer this morning a little harder. After more coffee of course.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Time to play

Short post as there is much to do in very short time. Yet another great ski last night. The trails were perfect. Now comes a weekend full of wheels and women. Yes I said that right. The car will be loaded up with a couple bikes for the women's weekend at Joyride. Shannon is excited to be on her mountain bike and being the super smart man that I am I feel it's much better for her to get some tips from other women than me teaching her. Of course this also gives me a reason to play on the bike built for Joyride.

This bike, the bike that has no carbon on it, no stickers, no shifting devices what so ever. Looking forward to it. Hopefully some pictures to follow. For those men in the Toronto area, come ride with me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Insider trading (training)

The evil snowstorm came and went. I think it showed up, took about 20 minutes longer to clear the driveway and that was only because I wanted to play with my snowblower. This wasn't anything new and like normal snowplowing my driveway could have been considered training. Of course it's boring in some cases so I loaded up the dogs and my classic skis and headed to the backyard. I'd had an insider tip that some place had just been rolled after the snow. Unfortunately for me that great info came 2 plus hours earlier and Mother Nature decided to drop a few more inches of snow. Just enough to make glide almost non existent. It was like skiing into mash potatoes.

This didn't stop me though, with 2 strung out dogs and a craving for movement I headed towards the end of the north trails. This happens to pass my inside informers place, the dogs ran up and pee'd on their door step for the questionable information. This brought out revenge from above. Chalet homes are fantastic, usually with large windows overlooking something. Most high class resident hang something nice from these windows, my friends. Well.

This was the tail end of seeing Tristan hanging his ass out against the window. The interesting thing is he sat like that for a few minutes. I wonder if he thinks his actions might attract women. HMMMM. Lucky for most of the local are away. After finding my eyes what was left of my burned out eyes lying in the snow I motored along. The conditions didn't really improve but that was understandable. Things will be amazing today.

2 hours of shuffling along, distance I would normally cover in this time was cut in half. I forgot how shaky race skis can be on non track set trails or in most cases un anything trails. It didn't even cross my mind to grab my back country beaters, next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Trusting a rodent

It's ground hog day. A simple warning you little rodent, don't get it wrong. There are many that may kill you if you do. For me, well it's yet another scary snowstorm out there. I'm looking for it, like all the other ones this year it's either missed us or I was to busy rolling my eyes on what is considered a snow storm. Will we be on clear pavement in a few weeks, will there be 6 more weeks of snow? Will the new pair of classic's I just ordered in get lot's of play time or will I be pulling the Chuck Norris bike of the vomit machine to start riding real hills?

I'll be honest, I really don't care either way. I've been in loving the skis, a couple man rides have now begun and sessions on the it vomit machine have been a bit easier with some company in the room.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yet another love

Oh coffee how I love thee, let me count the ways. I can't count that high without help. Mornings would be horrible with out it. I would have never become a morning person if I didn't have some additional help of the liquid form. Since it's not recommended to crack a beer at 6 am and for some reason I've just never had a craving to do that coffee became that liquid of choice. Of course as tastes grew and my wonderful stomach failed with lactose rejection the old common coffees just didn't seem to cut it. Coffee from that hockey player based shop started to taste like the crap that it is. That's when I came across the good stuff.

Well the good stuff just got better, with new good stuff. It has a chain ring, it must be good.

I've yet to open either, I must finish the open bag first. Self control is key. I wouldn't want to take a chance of wasting, kittens and dolphins would dies if good coffee was wasted. MMMM Coffee, I love you.

In the training front world, life took over from play. It will be another busy week of training and adding in a trip to Joyride limits the amount of time I could spend being a grown up and do grown up things, like laundry and cleaning. For some reason once you hit your 30's it's not even expected it's required. You receive a letter a day after your 30th birthday warning you of this. I did manage to spend some quality time with the Anthem and it's in the final stages. It's fully assembled, just needs tuning. That's about the same when talking about the shape of the body. It's together, it's just needing a little tuning. The hip flexor's are beginning to cave in and release back to normal positions.

Training resumes tonight, coffee resumes this morning. Mmmmmm Coffee!!!!!