Archive for the ‘cycling’ Tag

Legacy post – Mount Seymour 2006

Mount Seymour – July 29, 2006

Team Coastal – Seymour Challenge

The race day analysis:

Joel and I met at the store @ 7:30 am. The ride is approx 1 hour to the base of Mt Seymour and the Cat5 start was 9:30 so we had lots of time. We decided to shorten our mileage by about 10 km by taking the Seabus. A goodidea until we got there to find that we missed it by 30 seconds ūüė¶ and thenext one was 30 minutes later so we continued on the bike to the race.

Easy spin there with no big efforts just to keep the legs in check. Wearrived at 8:40 and registered which took about 5 minutes. Then we decided to use the ever popular controlled substance of caffeine to start us up. Starbucks was the vendor of choice and after a good 10 minute stretch anda latte we were ready to face the day.

It was almost surreal. There were a lot of riders in the area and a bunch of them were there with team vehicles, some were on trainers and rollers warming up. We decided to warm up the old fashioned way with a spin around the block then off to the start line.

There were about 10-15 guys in the Cat5 group. The Cat4 group wascollecting as well because they start 5 minutes after Cat5 and then the Masters group starts 10 minutes after them. This is the moment where weall started to look around at each other and try to come up with a reason why this was a good idea. Too late now, turning around means a documented DNF so pride takes over from this point onwards.

Temperature was 14C at the bottom and overcast. Temp at the top was 12Cand apparently the cloudline was at 800m (peak is 960m or so) so the lastpart of the ride could be low visibility. We start with a vocal countdown. 1 minute to go…getting a littlenervous…5..4..3..2..1 and we are off.

The field stuck together at the start. There was one guy dressed in a loose cotton t-shirt with mountain bike shorts on who seemed a bit out of place. Pretty much everybody made a visual note at the start line figuring that he must be coming out for the first time and doesn’t have any road gear. This thought was about to become ironic.

The group begins to splinter at 2 kilometres. The first 2 km are steep so it is a relentless and unforgiving start to a long painful ride. Off thefront is our casually dressed friend with Joel about 10 seconds behind him. We all looked at each other and the comment from most people was “isthis guy serious?”.

Joel and I both came here with basic goals. Personal best time, have fun and just finish. Joel was riding well and his goal to try to average 16 km/h was within reach judging by his form. My goals were simple. Don’t be last…try to beat 56 minutes. I was on form to do that despite feeling sick. My sinuses were a mess so it was pretty much mouth only breathing at this point.

I did a quick check back @ 3 km and saw a couple of guys behind me. Keep pedalling…they can pace but they probably can’t catch me now. 4 km mark is coming up and so was one of the Masi/Adobe team riders. I knew one thing that I didn’t want to do was pass. Passing is a big responsibility. It means earning that place by staying in front. No point in passing if you are going to blow up and drop back. This is a race against time for me, not against anyone else. I had no choice at this point. I was just pacing and I slowly overtook him. It was secretly enjoyable to know that I had dropped a rider, but I knew that he was now my target because it was a long way to go.

I kept looking for the 5 km marker. I was feeling alright and just spinning my way up. Never looked back…the race is in front of me…not behind me. Then my next happy moment hit. I saw the marker coming up…6 km. What? I missed the 5 km marker so I was already at the half way point! Feeling good, but also reminding myself that halfway doesn’t mean done…and a lot can happen to the body in 30 minutes. I was at 27 minutes at the halfway point so I was pacing to hit my 56 minute best time. Keep pedalling…look forward…you’ve done this before.

Then the Cat4 group came up on my left. A fierce group of 5 guys who were bent on breaking 40 minutes. Strangely enough I didn’t lose my edge when they passed. In my mind they were in a different race. I was just thinking about my Masi/Adobe friend who was somewhere behind me.

At 8 km there is a 160 degree turn in the first major switchback. The road levels a bit so it feels great. You are 3/4 of the way there and now youget to look back over the field without looking back. I round the corner spinning well over 110 cadence and kick up the gears. I see Masi/Adobe about 10 seconds behind me and a couple of other guys behind him. So far so good.

Kilometre 10…2 km to go and I am feeling good so I get up out of the saddle to push. Just testing the legs and I quickly realize that this is now a survival game…not a race. I have no extra to push so I drop back and just keep my rhythm in the saddle. Over my shoulder I catch a glimpse of that telltale Adobe logo. He’s back. Out of the saddle he is pushing to overtake. We both look at each other and simultaneously say “good ride…almost there”. Inside ourselves we are somehow having a race with eachother but a friendly one which makes it alright.

I stay fast on the pedals and I see him drop back in the saddle but he loses ground when he transitions. He’s at his limit. So I take the opportunity. It almost seems unfair, but then again, he was about to do the same to me. I hop out of the saddle, kick up a gear and ride steady for about 200 meters. I head into the next switchback and as I round the corner I lookdown and realize I have about 30 seconds on him. Time to level off and bring this race home.

The last 1.5 km was a weird feeling. I was nervous because I knew that Iwas not going to gain any more, but I had to ensure that I could finish and stay in my time. I was tracking to hit 55 minutes. The finishing straight is ahead. My glasses fog up completely in about 5 seconds because of the clouds. I strip them off and put them up on my helmet so I can see. It is about 400 metres to the finish. A Cat4 rider is on my shoulder and he edges past me. I decide to ride hard and finish big. I jump out of the saddle and stay about 2 metres off his wheel to thefinish.

My glasses drop off my helmet to the ground. I flinch, but decide to deal with that later. Time to take care of this finish line first. Joel cheers me through as do a bunch of other riders. I don’t know my time but I know I did what I came here to do. I pushed so hard at the end that I had to cool down for a bit just to be able to talk.

Everyone up here has that look on their faces. They can’t believe what they just did. It is like a car crash almost. The idea that you can survive something and then look back only minutes after and not even fully realize what just happened. I check the board and only see Joel’s time at 44:20. Awesome! He is a humble guy and fails to tell me that he also took 2nd in the division. Ironically behind Mr Cotton Shirt. Goes to show you that the clothes don’t make the man.

We stay at the top for about 15-20 minutes and it is a sea of contgratulations for everybody from everybody. This isn’t Everest…but today…for a lot of us…it was close enough. The descent is welcome but chilly. Windy, 12C and moist air at 60 km/h are not fun. This seems like the longest descent I have ever taken on this mountain. It doesn’t help that my nose is running full out now and I am coughing up a storm. All done for the day.

Final time 54:08.9


Rage against the machine…and it’s driver

Another Monday morning commute. At least I thought it was going to be. 1 km from work I see a blue Audi come tearing across the lane (a bike and bus lane I might add!) and then wham!

Normally the next part of the story is about how the driver stops and feverishly apologizes to me. Not this time.

I’ve been out for around 2500 km this year. Far less the I would like but you have to take it where you can get it. With these hours comes a certain amount of bike handling. So this is how it went on that day.

I feel the thud of his rear quarter panel and it clips my wheel. Luckily I don’t go down. Who would do this? What kind of absolute moron would hit a bike and keep driving? I was going to find out.

This is where it the story twists. Alright, I know I didn’t have to catch him or approach him, but this guy had nearly ended my day on the road at 8 am. So I caught up and road to the outside and gave a forceful knock on his window.

At this point he begins screaming at me that I need to F off, get off the road and few other things that I can’t rightfully print. I let him know that he hit me and needs to learn how to drive. Well…I might have been a little more colorful than that.

At this point I was seeing that this guy had no remorse about what he did and was probably would do it again. Then, he did.

I didn’t even register that he was turning his wheel until I saw the car surge right towards me. He hit the gas like it was the start line at a quarter mile track and plowed right into me.

I went down. My bike was on me. Luckily I had bounced and deflected. It wasn’t too direct of an impact. Then as I began to get up and try to process what had just happened I hear this lunatic driver yelling “you broke my mirror…that’s it!” and now this 250 pound maniac runs at me and does a mid-tackle on me.

Now we are on the ground. This monster is on top of me holding my legs. I’m close to giving him a cleat in the face but I know better. People are now out of their cars and yelling at this lunatic to stop and back off. I say the only thing that seems right to say. Almost in a whisper.

“You lay another finger on me and I’ll own your car”

With that he backs up, picks my speedometer off the ground (probably a trophy) and goes to his car. Someone comes over to check if I’m ok and then the lunatic does what he knows best, and he flees the scene.

Nobody can believe it. But with all the chaos going on, nobody gets a license plate. Lovely.

In the end…I’m ok. I’m now a transit rider. I can’t have my family worrying about me every day so I’ll hve to accept defeat and move on.

Car versus bike: Car 1, Bike 0

To you fine driver…I hope I did break your mirror. And I hope it costs a lot to fix.

To everyone out there. Take care out on the roads.

Olympics and Canadian Cycling

Olympic spirit struck without notice. I didn’t plan to watch a lot of the olympics. I haven’t been shy about my opinions against hosting the event in China for many reasons. Plus, I’m Canadian so we’re not known for having a great showing at the summer games.

Having come off of a great Tour de France I was pretty sure that the TV would be off for a year except for the occasional CSI and watching stuff with the family. Then I realized that there was a chance for some quality cycling to hit the airwaves again. That being said, I know that these games are mostly about gymnasts, sprinters and swimmers (OK…we get it…Michael Phelps is a good swimmer. Enough already).

So I setup the NBC alert to tell me when the races were on, which was great. Except of course for the fact that none of it was on TV…grrrr. It’s all swimming and gymnastics in the opening days so sports like cycling get bumped to the highlight reel. I decide that I’ll have to get the news the old fashioned way by seeing the results and then catching the replay later to confirm what I already know.

Canadians do many things well. One of those things is ride bikes. Alright, we may not do it as well as the US, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium and a few other European countries. Even Luxembourg. We do however¬†hold up pretty well¬†in North American pro-category racing and in triathlon. We may not have many riders out there, but the few that we have are there on pure guts. Canada doesn’t spend a lot of money on sports compared to other countries. That’s another subject altogether.

So let me get to my point. Svein Tuft. 4 time National Time Trial champion. He’s a powerhouse who wins most of the events he enters. Svein is not known as the “sit in the pack” guy who has an explosive sprint. He gets things done in the way of another of my favourite riders¬†– Jens Voigt. Svein rides above and beyond with one simple goal, break away and put the hurt on everyone in the pack until they can’t catch up.

On the world level though, I had some doubt about our Canadians being able to hold off a strong field of European Pro Tour riders. Svein Tuft is a local phenom, but these guys (including Canadian Ryder Hesjedal) ride bigger races with 6 figure salaries and support vehicles, massive sponsorships and training programs. Svein rides like hell in some amazing races, but as an armchair athlete I found it hard to imagine comparing our local hero against the best in the world.

The time trial came and went, and I caught the whole thing in the highlights and online results. And then I saw it:

1 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) (45.350 km/h)
2 Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden)          0.33.36
3 Levi Leipheimer (United States)       1.09.68
4 Alberto Contador (Spain)              1.18.08
5 Cadel Evans (Australia)               1.23.54
6 Samuel Sánchez (Spain)                2.25.81
7 Svein Tuft (Canada)                   2.28.01
8 Michael Rogers (Australia)            2.35.42
9 Stef Clement (Netherlands)            2.47.99
10 Robert Gesink (Netherlands)          2.51.45
11 Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)     2.56.48
12 David Zabriskie (United States)      3.06.39
13 Stefan Schumacher (Germany)          3.13.95

That’s 7th in the world! And not just that, but 38 seconds ahead of US National Time Trial champion (and known as “the most aerodynamic rider in the pro peloton”) Dave Zabriskie. Then I saw number Stefan Schumacher at number 13 another 7 seconds adrift. Schumacher won both of the time trials in the 2008 Tour de France.

All I can say is Go Svein Go. Awesome work and much respect.

Read about his start in cycing here: