Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Surprise tooth removal!

We’ll get to that later though. 
I managed to survive the 24 hour race with a *patched up* mouth. The dentists rebuilt all of my teeth, but that is not to say that all is good. They are projected to be sore for a couple of months, which quite frankly sucks. After my initial brain injury, I lost my sense of smell – though I still have my sense of taste. This means that I don’t get the entire “flavour” (taste and smell combined makes flavour) of what I’m eating, but I am so grateful that I still taste, otherwise life is pretty mundane; so food and taste is a welcome relief to my day. With my teeth out of sorts I’ve been putting myself through unnecessary pain by still trying to eat anything I want (and not taking the pain killers).
24 hour racing food was done with some thought to both extreme calorie intake and sensitivity of my mouth. Six cups of cous cous (dry) which is so nice, they named  twice! That meant 2 huge Tupperware tubs of cous cous, some pretty terrible taco salad I tried to make, some fruit, and of course jells and bars. My team had a pretty sweet campsite though the endowment from our wonderful sponsors the Great Lakes Brewery...which was apparently at the other Cycle Solutions site. After inhabiting a dry site for a while, the guys decided it was time to perform a heist. We needed that beer, and it really wasn’t going to matter what the other tribe had to say. It was shocking what we found there. Two big demo tents that said Cycle Solutions, two picnic tables, and a big tub with ice and a 60L keg of Great Lakes Brewery Blonde. No guards, nothing. We even came on it from the east side, as the sun was setting west. A beautiful mirage is all it looked like.
By about midnight we received a visit from some friends from Bracebridge, and I was getting sick of my gearing (still being stuck in my big ring). My resources were few. An old grip-shift shifting set, made for 3X9 drivetrains (mine is 2X10), but these were mountain bike veterans I was with, and nothing beats a micro adjusting gripshift shifter. Of course with beer as payment, things weren’t done terribly efficiently (my teammate Allan showed up while we were doing this right after his lap, threw up for a few minutes, but some good old “puke and rally!” encouragement got him back, he didn’t go thirsty), but after a while I was set up with a working front shifting system, using what is known as the archaic technology of “Grip Shift”.
The rest of the race was good, 1 fall, but as I was writhing in pain on the ground Preston Wagler (one of the top ranked pro/elites in Ontario) passed me, which was motivating to get back up and I rode out a night lap with him only 3 minutes slower than my day lap times. The morning wasn’t awful either. At one point I thought we were battling for a position in the top 3, so I was motivated and rode a double lap – and then some, just to get a T-shirt from riding through a bog on a plank while spectators sprayed me with hoses and water guns. SO worth it. Unfortunately I was not feeling great after the race, the fall in the night had left me unable to really move my left arm (even needed help to get my jersey off), sleeping accommodations were simply the back of a Toyota Matrix with a 134 pound dog, but 24 hour races are fun, you meet new people, and my buddy Nico that came with me had so much fun that he even did extra night laps for another team! Mission accomplished.
Monday I registered for what will hopefully be the best race I’ve ever done! The Redbull Monte Descend race at Mont Saint Anne. This race is a promotional race in which a Downhill rider rides down the hill, then the cross country rider (me) rides a lap (apparently these are usually pretty uphill) it is done in a sort of tag team, I`ve called our team the ``Humpty Dumpties``, so watch out! The team that gets the highest total number of laps between 8:30 and 10:00 (pm, which means dark laps with lights) wins. The real grabber for this race is that first prize is worth $3000 which would definitely help with my $5000 in newly accumulated dental bills. Hopefully I can get some money, pay my bills, and still have enough to afford tuition for University.  The race is tomorrow (Canada day!), and the weekend has lots to offer.
Mont Saint Anne last year was the site of the world championships,  and a long weekend festival called Velerium. This year there is a plethora of races and events, including a world cup race on Saturday. Perfect weekend for a roadtrip to Northeast Quebec . Let’s go!

The day of departure for the race I had a quick appointment with an oral surgeon, just to talk about a plan of action for the tooth that has a crack all up the root. Strangely I was sat into an operating chair to wait. Then Dr. Watson came in, with needles. Apparently the x-rays were pretty bad, and after a quick chat and some poking it was established that I was having a tooth yanked.
Needles were poked, my tooth was clamped, and I saw a man giving some good effort on my tooth, back and forth until it came out. That simple! I think it’s crazy that I’m racing tomorrow, but that’s it ! The most painful tooth ever is gone!
Dave picked up a sorry solemn toothy guy after work, and the roadtrip began, until we found the Mandarin that is. I like 3 things, athletics, science, and nefarious deeds.  The mission was simple, eat as much is humanly possible, and get kicked out of the restaurant. I was unsuccessful at getting kicked out but the shenanigans were worthwhile. All loaded up with food I’m just waiting to see what tomorrow has in store! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Serious inconvenience and another ambulance trip

The week started out so wonderfully! Monday was my off day, so I went to my first yoga class! Went to Bikram Yoga downtown, and got 10 passes for hot yoga classes (1.5hours each). Yoga was an adequate way I'd say of loosening up the day after a race, without straining myself too much really, and an interesting experience. It's basically like working towards being a peaceful contortionist, but without the circus. The "hot" of hot yoga wasn't too bad, my only complaint is how slippery I got (making the poses a lot harder) and my hands were wrinkly from sweating so much by the end. But I'd do it again, and you should too!
Tuesday had some hard training, 20 all out hill sprints over at the col du Watson with my buddy Nico, crawled home on the bikes, and went to his place for some good food.
It was Wednesday when things happened. I decided to head to Bulk Barn on my lunch break (Wednesday is student's discount day - making already cheap food cheaper). I got the usual; prunes, dates, soy beans, and then some raisins for my oatmeal, and headed back to work. On the corner by the Futureshop and Zellers (which I had ridden countless times commuting from my old house to campus) I took it really fast - with my big 30L pack on and groceries and stuff inside. In a split second, my back tire (700x20C and totally slick - least grippy tire possible) slid out. I went chin first to the pavement.
Instantly I could taste blood in my mouth, and feel bits of teeth everywhere. I spat into my hand just to double check, and yep big pieces of teeth and blood everywhere [uh oh.]. I grabbed my bike and walked into futureshop, with blood everywhere and thinking of the unfortunate implications of this fall. They called the ambulance, and I just sat there getting more and more bummed out about my state. My left arm hurt, right elbow and knee had hit the pavement hard, and of course my jaw hurt and chin was gashed. I don't know if you've chipped a tooth before, but it seriously hurts. Even breathing over a chipped tooth can hurt, and now half my mouth is chipped and damaged.
The ambulance guys got there and were shocked at how calm I was, and that I wasn't crying. By that point I had plenty of paper towel by my side saturated in blood and full of bits of teeth. The wait in emergency wasn't so bad- I was out of there in about 2-3 hours. Got my jaw x-rayed, and stitches put into my chin. Luckily I complained enough about stitches in my face that they only put 3 in, and the worst part of that was the freezing (I later found out that that was a tough place to freeze and he stuck me 4 times - which was much more painful than the stitches would have been, but I didn't want to feel them going through...weird!).
Now nicely stitched up, I luckily got an emergency appointment at the dental office not far away. The dentist there was shocked. He had never seen someone do this much to their mouth in one go, and assessed the damage with x-rays, and by sight. The whole time this guy was shaking his head, and trying to put it lightly that at least 8 of my teeth had been damaged heavily, would need a lot of work, and another several were damaged (mostly superficially...enamel chips gone - but not down to the really sensitive bits). Additionally I had bruised basically all the nerves in my teeth and anything to do with my teeth would hurt for weeks, even after he worked on what was left of my mouth.
By now, I'm quite familiar with what has to be done to "fix" a "tooth". He grinds at it for a little bit, scratches the surface of wound to make it more adhesive, puts some primer on it, and then some paste type stuff goes on that hardens with UV light. I complained that the top right of my mouth had the most painful spot, and he agreed that I was missing a considerable chunk of a tooth up there, so he fixed that one. After rebuilding me a tooth and upon polishing it he accidentally hit the one in front of it (which looked just fine).
This was when I thought the dentist and his assistant pooed their pants. They started freaking out and saying uh oh, oh no! That's not good!
They had just discovered that the tooth that I was really complaining about had a crack right through it all the way down the root, it just wasn't missing pieces so it looked fine until they touched it the right way. The dentist stayed for an hour and a half after work just to put a quick fix on the tooth. He ground away about half of it with the grinder drill thing, and put re made the top - hoping it would act as an adhesive for a bit. That one's going to have to be pulled out, and I'll need an oral surgeon.
That afternoon he got the top right back bit of my mouth to acceptable shape and said he would free some time to keep working on it the next day.
Today (Thursday) breakfast consisted of a milkshake - but that was too cold (fridge temperature) so I had to microwave it. Weird. But I went back to the same dentist,  and he went to town! I spent a long time in the chair (which isn't made for a 6'2" man), but he got all the other teeth fixed except two! The right side of my mouth isn't outwardly broken anymore (except the tooth with the quick fix - that's a whole new deal with an oral surgeon on a later date). I've spent over $1200 so far though, $500 of which is covered by the university, but this is going to continue to be very painful, and cost thousands of dollars more and take at least a few more weeks. Need that tooth fairy to come through with some magical dental insurance.. Worse has happened to me, and I can't ignore half teeth all over my mouth - they are an excruciatingly painful thing to have. But that's real life, and like I said, just a miserable inconvenience, it better not affect my racing too heavily. It's a bit of a worst case senario, I'm lucky a car didn't hit me too.
Who's racing at the 24 hour race this weekend? I am. See you there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

For those wondering about my first paid race...

Lake to Lake was tons of fun! While it lasted. I got off the front in a group of about 10 guys, and it started out like a road race. People pulling (which I did too much of and Anton yelled at me for), people breaking away, people getting caught back, and then my flat tire happened...
Fortunately it was just a rock puncture, I lost about half of my pressure, but the sealant on the inside of the tire kept me going. After stopping to check it out, the gameplan was just to crack open a CO2 and re-inflate the tire at the first bit of singletrack...Besides I felt like a total power house! I had managed to stay with the group even while riding such low pressure, and then worked my way back into their ranks, surely I was in contention for the money, no?
Then another flat happened. This time it brought me too close to empty to want to keep riding on, so I stopped and reinflated the tire, and yelled out encouragement at my buddy Alex, and reinflated the tire. I still felt like a champ when I got back on my bike for the second time now and pinned down the trail. Before long I was on Alex's tail and told him to follow, but I guess I was so caught up in the moment that I didn't slow down and just kept going and he didn't keep up. I was riding through some tall grassy trails and couldn't see beneath me, and suddenly bam! Flat. This one wasn't going to re-seal I set about taking off the tire to put a tube in. Unfortunately the tire was too tight for me to take off on the side of the trail and I was at the mercy of the riders going by for both a tire lever, and a pump. Alex supplied the pump, and some guy racing with his daughter (on fathers's day!) supplied the tire lever, and Don (a friend) gave me an extra CO2 cartridge (I couldn't get that pump to work!).
By the time I was back on the bike though I realized the race was over for me. It took long enough that I stood basically no chance of catching back those top 10 guys (all of whom are fast elite-level racers), especially if I couldn't ride the trails at my own pace (stuck behind the slower waves of cyclists).
The rest of the race was a time-trial with huge breaks during the singletrack (of which there was 25km - that I hadn't hit yet). I learned my lesson though, the lightest tires on the market should not be trusted on a foreign course tubeless - they just pop like balloons. 
The week's been interesting since though, more on that later.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My first race in the "money division" looking pretty doomed right now! Today I had the intention of fixing, cleaning, and riding my bike, and cleaning my house for the big potluck that is going down tonight. WELL. The house got 1/3 of the way to clean, and I wandered out to the garage to start fixing my bike, to put new tires onto. I'm racing at the Lake to Lake 55km race tomorrow, and heard it's a pretty fast course, so decided to go with my semi-slick Schwalbe Furious Fred semi slick tires in 2.0 (low volume, and skinny). I sealed up the tires, and went to make them a bath. No plug. After a quick call to the land lord, and a trip to the river, I had tires that were [mostly] holding air. Then my buddy came by for a bit, and it was back to fixing my bike. Distracting things like making food for the potluck grabbed my attention, and I made some dirty rice and beans!
Finally I got to the bike, and found a broken shifter. Uh oh. A quick trip to the local bike shop found that any idea of front shifting tomorrow is out, so my drivetrain is now jimmied in the big ring, with a chain that I was told is in desperate need of replacement, and on top of that - apparently my tires are pretty bad for tubeless, and prone to rolling off.
the sleeping arrangements are kindof like burritos around here

But there's no time! No time to ride either! Upon arrival at my place, Anton was already there, and Erica came shortly after (only half an hour late, which is incredibly early!). We had a big party, and lots of cuddling.
Time for bed though, and some excruciating foam rolling. Hoping for strong legs tomorrow to push that gear! Poor bike is still dirty though...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another weekend, and a shot for redemtion

Here we go. Another shot at a national race; the Canada Cup at Hardwood Hills ski and bike centre. This one’s not far from home (Bracebridge home) so Alex and I decided to head up north for the weekend, to stay at my old casa. I had an epic amount of stuff to pack (toolbox, compressor, bike, one spare wheel, extra tires, food, clothes, race stuff) and he obviously had his pile too, all set to fit in an ’02 hundai accent. For those who don’t know Alex’s car, it’s know as the Red Rocket, and it’s a small coupe, without a bike rack. I had my doubts as to whether we could fit everything in, but after doing enough bike race trips we have the art of packing totally dialled.  It took almost no time and we were on our way up north in good company and with high aspirations for the weekend.
Like this!

We realized we would be cutting it close to get to the course (ETA 8:30), but as long as there was daylight, we could sneak onto the trails. I announced that it was no problem, and I knew the way to the trails – so don’t worry, we won’t get lost. About 10 minutes later we drove right by the sign for Hardwood Hills on the 400 (I’m used to getting there from hwy 11) luckily there was a great option to do an ullegal U turn, which we promptly took and sped our way to the course. When we got to the course I left alex in the parking lot and ran to the administration house to see what’s up. Riding open till 9:00, it’s about 8:20. Good to go. Registered for the race, paid the entry for the trails (at total of $67.50 together – owwie!), and went to the car to put my bike together. On the way out to the start I ran back into the building for some water, and the trail master said “Wait, what category are you? You’ve have to be out of there in 32 minutes.”
“Senior expert sir! Don’t worry, course can’t be more than 25 minutes!”
“Okay if you’re that fast then go. But you only have 32 minutes.” He said somewhat reluctantly.
Would he actually have said no if I told him I was in one of the open categories? Harsh.
Loved the course, it’s fast, good flowwy trail – and they didn’t put any huge hurting climbs in it like normally! None of this climbing BS like Tremblant. There are some definite tricky spots – that I’ll want to try again and dial them in, but for now we just had to do a quick ride.
Some aspects of my bike made this ride more “fun” than others. Firstly I was testing a hypothesis involving the ideal gas law (PV = nRT) or in layman’s terms pressure times volume is equal to a constant. Essentially, this constant is the force necessary to hold a rider off the ground and keep the tire from flatting or rolling. Since I’m on a 29 inch wheeled bike, that’s a higher volume, and if the hypothesis I was testing (H1 I will be able to get away with less air, thus more traction) is true (vs the null hypothesis H0 that I would mess everything up and flat anyway), then I should be able to rock out with very little pressure, and thus sticky tacky grip.
I let a bunch of air out and then rode, never checked until afterwards, but I was riding 17 psi in the rear, and still less than 20 psi in the front (which had a tube). For those non-cyclists, that’s about half of what most people ride at, and I’m heavy so I should actually ride higher than most. Indeed the ride was sticky tacky, but my tires were rolling a lot – I couldn’t be as aggressive as normal. But I didn’t flat, and the tires stayed on the rims, so I did prove something – just don’t ever let them THAT low. I was losing power because my bike was bobbing with my pedalstroke even.
The other bit of fun was that my front shifter actually broke off while I was riding. The metal bracket just simply broke.  This left me laughing in disbelief, and wondering what the heck to do with the flopping front shifter that was only loosely attached to my bike with a cable. Oh well, I paid to get it, it’s Friday night, and I’m finishing my ride – in under 32 minutes! I wrapped it around my handlebar and left it hanging out front and watched it like a hawk. There is very high potential that this could flop down into my front wheel and end my life I guess. (stupid head injury.) I kept one eye on that and one on the trail – it’s a good trick, you should learn it sometime.
Weak (but light!) Dye-cast metal..

Saturday rolled around and I had a list to do: fix the bike, and ride more laps of the course! Ah, life is tough.  I managed in the end to use an old brake and an old shifter bracket to secure my front brakes and shifter – it was a bit uncomfortable and tighter to the grip, but it would have to do. Riding laps was fun, I practiced some stuff and looked at the different ways to approach obstacles – the course was weird in that the most daring way through the trail wasn’t always the fastest.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with my coach, Eric Batty (who was signing autographs) and discussed the course with him. He hopped on my bike and gave me some good advice. Because I’m so lanky and my hands are huge, I had my brake levers and shift levers pointed almost vertically down. This is not good because it forces them to be flexing the whole time that I am riding, and it does indeed get uncomfortable – but I always just thought I needed to toughen up.
That night Jon, Alex and I wen’t back to my Mom’s for a great meal. She’s awesome! Shrimp and veggie pasta with baguette, guacamole, and a really nice salad with pears (not to mention some serious dessert!). Jon was a bit of a last minute addition to the crew but Mom reassured that there would be enough food. But we ate it all, and threw another pie in the oven. Gooooood pie. Gooooooood times!
Ladies and gentlemen, this is now how you treat grips. Just buy lock-on.

That night, I got pretty jittery. Maybe because I was talking to my coach Saturday, but I really had the race on the brain. I stayed up just lying in bed thinking about the race, then stressing about not sleeping, then having a nose bleed. Well that's not ideal! 1:30 in the morning and I've got a gusher coming out of my nose! After a while it stopped bleeding and I resumed my attempting to sleep, which was more just contemplating why I had a nosebleed in the first place? Probably because I'm still so sick (spent the other night in the emergency room), and congested and I kept blowing my nose? Who knows. All I know is that there was blood before, during, and after the race.
I woke up way too early for this junk. 6:30. But I milled about the house and got bikes together and helped out here and there - always drinking water though, because I had sweated the whole night before (window open was too cold, window closed too warm...but more comfortable). Made some good old fashioned steel cut oats (with craisins in them because I was at home and had the resources!), packed up and rolled out.
Arrival to the race was a bit frantic; I had to track down my front wheel from Scotty, and only had an hour to do that, organize feeds, and warm up.
Luckily, I was told that the start was delayed 15 minutes! Yay! The only problem is that whoever told me that was sabotaging me! Start was at 1:30, and I luckily got worried that I saw nobody warming up any more, looked down at my clock, and saw it was 1:32. Better get to the start to investigate. I asked somebody along the way about the start time, and of course it was supposed to be 1:30, so I made my way desperately through the crowds and got to the start corral about 30 seconds before the start. Bad seating yes, but warm legs at least!
Guess who's not waiting for the start?? (stolen from Kyle's facebook)

Start of the race was a pretty brisk pace, but nothing I felt I couldn't handle. I was worried about the potential bottleneck at the top though, and soon found myself in the middle of a 40 person pack, riders in front, behind, and on both sides. Not good.
I made my move out to the right side, throwing accelerations, brakes, and buzzing a tire or two (not a good move). But when I got out I moved up a few spaces, and tried to get back in.
Unfortunately nobody was making room for me in the trail, so I was forced to ride in the bush beside the trail, which was soon turning left. The only thing I could do was to muscle in, and I managed to get in right beside (and into) my friend Kyle Schaltz, who asked what the heck I was doing? (He was sandwiched in between me and some guy from Quebec, the Quebequois guy fell..Ooops.
So I managed to get a spot on the trail, and to make some enemies in the first few minutes of the race...Interesting. The pace through the first few trails wasn't what I would say I'm capable of, but I wasn't about to throw down too many dirty passes, and I was working hard enough that I didn't feel like singing a song. As the group thinned out I realized how fast we were really going...FAST. By the end of the first lap there were already guys blowing up and falling behind fast, but I kept pace.
riding down the boneshaker, with my lover Anton watching (photo stole from Jame's facebook)

Lap two came with a surprise, a nice guy Alex and my old buddy Evan and I rode together, Evan stayed ahead (but not far enough that I couldn't see him) and Alex would lose me on the double track , but I was capable of catching his wheel in the singletrack. Alex is a fast guy, and I made it my goal to stick with him and see if I could edge on him by the end...I had a funny time that race in that I was always able to talk, just my legs couldn't put out the top power. It was as though my legs were not up to my cardio, but nonetheless my legs were still pretty quick. I striked up a conversation with Evan, let him know that the superior court for the guy who assaulted me and put me into the hospital for so long was the next day. He asked if I was racing angry? I just said racing stressed...Which I guess is true, but the best thing about cycling is it can take my mind off the pressures of the rest of life.
By the first big climbing section in the third lap though, I showed more power than the other guys, and that was the last we rode together. I kept an eye behind me on Alex and worried about his positioning, but eventually was at the point that I could see neither Alex or Evan. By that time I decided to ride conservatively, not taking more risks than I needed to, keeping the bike intact and not risking my head. This strategy paid off, as I placed 6th.  Even with a bit of blood coming out of my nose still, and despite dismal sleep, guess I should just not worry about that stuff anymore.
Hearing my position made me happier than ever! That is faster than I had been before the injury, without a doubt my best placing in an Ontario Cup, oh wait - this is a Canada Cup. YES!
All of the work that I had been doing paid off in when I realized how I had done, and I am so greatful of my coach Mr. Eric Batty (3rd in the pro/elite division!). I'm his athlete, just a meathead that does what I'm told, and he really deserves the credit for my outstanding improvements. Maybe I'll reach my goals this season after all. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How else to spend May 2-4?

Well we all know our own good formulas for long weekends, roadtrips, cottages, foreign places, and to most people copious amounts of alcohol. What would an over excited newly freed from school and (all seemingly responsiblities) cyclist want to do?
Road trip to Quebec for a Canada Cup race? I think so.
There are plenty of reasons to get out to Quebec for a Canada Cup race. Firstly, a road trip, Quebec is a very different place, and for a weekend, the atmosphere is perfect! Easy living, biking, and a general binge on good times and good company. Secondly, the terrain out there and the trails that they build on it are entirely different from here in Ontario, which makes a Canada Cup a whole new beast, and the riders a different bunch to race with as well. Lastly, the big races in Quebec are sponsored by the same guys who help me out; xprezo! (the amazing deals on condo living may have also helped out too). I was excited to go talk to the boys that made my bike, show them the finished creamsicle resembling product, but pretty nervous that they might not think I would be deserving of sponsorship.
The thing about being  a student with nothing to his name but a bike though, races are great, and so are road trips, but how do I get there? The solution to this problem came with a smile and offered wonderful camaraderie.  I caught up with my buddy Dave, and we talked about bikes, our new 29ers, and I told him how my bike is so much better than his because it is hand-made, steel, and I had ridden with the guys who made it, and they were real presence at races. Like the Canada Cup that I was eager to go to! Dave admitted that my bike was smoother, and he liked the "local" aspect of it, and soon his imagination was captured by what could happen across the Ontario-Quebec border on foreign soils too.
We started working on logistics for the trip and Dave was incredibly generous. As opposed to cramming 3 people and 2 very large bikes into his little Pontiac Sunfire, we were going to rent a car. Rates are cheap, and you literally don't even have to give them back the car if you get insurance - just the keys.
Dave was willing to front the rental costs if I would help out with gas and food for the trip - and put him up somewhere - sweet. We would hang out for the weekend, ride, race, and then enjoy the festive atmosphere at what must be the best race of the year!
Tremblant is an amazing course to go to because there are multiple disciplines of bike racing that go on that weekend, the XC (cross country - my discipline) on the Saturday, DH (downhill - lazy guys who ride chairlifts up hills and then ride down them really really fast) on Sunday. The course opens up Friday, and XC riders are only allowed on the trails here for this weekend every year, otherwise they are considered too technical and reserved only for the DH riders who scream through the terrain with bikes that absorb the bumps and can take a serious beating. The attitude in Quebec is great too, people are drinking wine, watching riders, socializing, and running back and forth between condos on the moutnainside. I was also seriously looking forward to "roughing it" with some of the boys from the team at the condo. We cuddle, we cook for each other, and we share the showers...
The day before our departure I got a call from Dave - "Hey dude, we're good to go. I got us an SUV. Sweet eh? We're going to ride in styyyyle."
Whoa. That guy is stoked. So am I. This is awesome.
A few phonecalls to get some proper tires to this race, and a new tool, and we're good to go. Left Thursday night after work, got there Friday morning. We outran some thunderstorms and showed up to the village on the side of the mountain in beautiful weather, and to some cheery greetings, and new bike stuff!
The nice bikes on the back deck!

 I was seriously looking forward to trying some new tires - no my cyclocross tires for me, I have options now!
Checking out the course Friday was a blast. My kind of course! Super fun, a couple of big grinding hills, but only one was terrible (and snowy). There were some pretty technical aspects of the course, and other sections where having the guts to ride the trickier line was beneficial. I love my new tires, high volume, skinny, and a rounded profile - perfect.
Last tier of a 3 tiered climb..notice the snow to the right (sorry it's blurry, I took this while riding)

I took a lap, went to register and do another lap - this time with Dave. At the top of the mountain it started to rain. No problem - I was going to wash my bike anyway...Just hope the cell phone in my pocket is ok. Then I got to the top of the bone jarring mega-long descent. And it poured. Hard. Uh oh.
Suddenly I heard all around me the squeak of people breaking, then no more. Everybody was off their bikes walking, the trail was a bit more like a stream, the wood bridges were more slippery, and I couldn't see through my glasses. And I had a cell phone in my jersey pocket, and I didn't want to miss the team dinner. Time to get out fast!
After that descent, I was confident for the race, loved my new tires, and had adrenaline surging through my body, a very quick shower and then I got to choose my dinner attire for this fine evening of condo living in Mont Tremblant. How about....My favourite suit? Tighty whities. Nice. Those may have been a bit too much? Or just a promise of how awesome the rest of the weekend will be. Everybody knows there's a direct correlation between tight men's underwear and awesomeness. It's why I'm such a champ! Food was great, company was weirded out, and I was treated like a garbage can who just eats everything nobody else wants, that's ok though!
The morning of the race started out with a small issue - we had not gone shopping, so I had no breakfast. Oh well, at least the weather was beautiful! No rain like last night, and the trails were likely to drain well. But good weather doesn't feed me [directly]. So I went knocking on condo doors. Oatmeal? Cereal? I heard that frosted flakes are great! How about waffles? Pancakes? Sausages rolled in pancakes fried in bacon grease? And baconaise? You never know what you'll get knocking on doors asking for food! Oh the possibilities!
I got quinoa. Plain quinoa. Well it's high in calories, protein, and quick to eat. Nice!
My breakfast campaign up the street

Still nervous for the race, I was feeling pretty primed up. Sitting front line at the start I made friends with a random guy from Quebec! Pace was pretty quick off the start up the mountain, and even though we bottlenecked into the first singletrack, I couldn't sing a tune this time, trails are tough - not like Ontario. I was sitting comfortably in the second "train" of riders through the singletrack, squeezing passes in where I could and getting upset that the front train was gapping us. At the top of the hill we came up to a muddy corner, that if you cut to the left, there was a drop of a few feet into a mud puddle - but a more direct line (I had done it the day before no problem). Everybody was taking the wide line out to the side, which made me more confident in my standing in the long run for the race, and I figured that cutting the corner - though more dangerous - would gain me at least 3, maybe 4 positions.
On the line

As I was going down the mucky hill to the drop, I was leaning my bike, and looking at the landing - a pit of unknown depth and composition. Taking the risk did not pay off. I went down a drop at an angle into a mud puddle, and flatted my front tire. The first thing that I thought was that I "burped" my tire (the bead of the tire had come out of it's place in the rim). This should be fixable...Just need to reseat the bead and get some more air into the tire! So I popped open my CO2 canister, was thankful for the ideal gas law, releasing the compressed CO2 into the tire – with no luck. Either mud had gummed up my tire, or my problem was bigger than I was hoping. That’s okay though, I always have a backup plan. I reached into my pocket for my spare tube, rolled it out, and then went to get the tubeless valve stem out of my wheel. It was stuck. I had jimmied it together to hold the air in properly before the first Ontario Cup, and thought nothing of it – proud I was able to get everything to seal up properly. I spent a good 5 minutes trying to get it out, then realized that I needed some better grip on the valve stem from behind. Some quick thinking and I remembered about a skinny L shaped allen key on my nice new tool, and after another minute of trying to jam and grip the valve stem but I got it out, and changed the tube just as my friends were coming up the hill to spectate the race. Luckily I brought two canisters of CO2, and cracked the second one to fill up the tube...Which didn’t fill up so high. I would guess at 15psi in my front tire. Oh well, just ride much more conservatively than I would have before, and try to somehow not flat out in Quebec – somehow.
See the guy bent over in the mud not racing? Yep..that's me.

This poor underinflated tube lasted about 10 minutes – just long enough for me to do all of the climbing of the first lap – until I popped it. I had no resources to fix my bike and suffered the second DNF (did not finish) of my life, after going all of the way to Quebec for the race.

It’s not as though the trip was all for naught though! A great time was had doing way too much fun stuff that I could never dream of putting on the internet - but I’m just that anybody who asks would get some pretty good stories! 
A real broment with my buddy John, there were many, many more that weekend 

There’s nothing quite like a good road trip or a race in Quebec, and last night my buddy called me up with the idea of going to Mont St. Anne on Canada day to race the relay (DH rider and XC rider, doing as many laps as they can in an allotted amount  of time). Last time I checked that race had a $1000 purse to it...Hmmm.