Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Footage of some awesome trails in South Carolina!

While I was down south travelling and riding my bikes, I had one epic 4 hour day of riding out in South Carolina. The day started out with what was supposed to be a 30km ride to the trail system, with the intent of meeting my friend Ben (the guy who rents the place in SC) at the trails in an hour after he drove there. Unfortunately the directions weren't quite spot on...

I spent more than an hour before I located the Lake Issaqueena State Park where the trails were, then spent another hour and a half looking for the right parking lot to find Benno. By this time it was getting late enough that I would have to leave to go to back to the lake house that we had set up basecamp (but were leaving to go back to Canada that night) or it would be dark. After finally giving up on finding Ben, I decided that there was no way that I would go to the park without getting some trail riding time in, so off I went! I quickly found myself loving my new Trek Superfly Elite, and gaining my "sea legs" so to speak pretty quickly! On my last check through the parking lots as I was about to head home I a group of university students and decided to introduce myself and see if they knew where I could find Ben.

Of course I got some funny looks because nobdoy was really expecting to find a guy from Canada with a funny accent lost in the bushes. One of them (Cliff) said he would take me to a parking lot we figured Ben would be at, and he took me the most fun way possible! Clff also happened to have a GoPro camera, which he set up on his bars and caught some great stuff of me riding the trails on my new bike!

The first 4 or so minutes is me riding a downhill track, with wall rides and everything! So awesome, though I was sure to be careful doing these things on my new carbon fiber cross country race bike! Around 5:20 we are riding up by a gully and just before 6:00 we turn into the sunset along some beautiful trails beside a lake, which is absolutely worth checking out! (12 minutes in is pretty funny too)

Thanks to Cliff for throwing the footage together, and saving the day by driving me home! Those southerners are just the greatest bunch of people, and will treat anybody like their best friend! Every person we passed we greeted, and people actually cared to hear that you were having a great time on the trails! I know I certainly want to find myself back in the city of Clemson, SC one day!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

End of the year rock climbing relief!

Last weekend I happened to hear about a pretty fantastic thing that happens every semester here at the University of Guelph; the climbing competition! Fourth year is an awful time full of labwork, projects, and tests, and PROJECTS with very little time for bikes, or climbing, or other fun things that I enjoy, but I got warning on Monday that Saturday is the day of the climbing competition.Climbing competitions take place in the climbing gyms, and there are certain "routes" where you climb up the whole wall, or "boulders" where you aren't tied in and you only climb so high that are ranked based on their difficulty. The objective is to complete 5 bouldering problems and 5 routes that add up to the highest total number of points out of the other competitors.
 Having climbed a grand total of about 4 times this semester, I figured this would be a great way to relieve some school tension and make up for lost time! I entered the competition in the top-ranked division (didn't want to be a sand-bagger again, my friends still wont let it go that the last time I did that I won), showed up dressed as a dinosaur with a tye-dye shirt, and I climbed well! Though I had the T-Rex hat on, and sunglasses on top of him to intimidate the competition (I can't grow a manly beard like the rest of the climbers seem to be able to), I was nowhere near even half as good as the other guys in my category, but I am quite happy with the way that I performed and had the best time ever!
The climbing gym is full of great, supportive, and incredibly nice people! Fellow competitors cheer each other on and give beta (the climbing word for info on how to conquer a problem properly). There are no harsh people or harsh feelings at these competitions, and I totally suggest that anybody who hasn't found this gem on campus get there right away!
Check out the stop motion video here, picture taken from a GoPro camera every two seconds, starting from the setup of the gym. This is probably the coolest thing that I've seen in a while! I pop in around 3:50, climb up a spot near the camera at 4:30, 6:49 (for a little while), 7:55, and a few more spots so check it out!
 stop-motion of the climbing comp

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reading week training camp 2012

In the middle of every winter semester, a magical thing happens; reading week. This year was no exception. Being a fourth year student is tough, and it’s easy to drown in all of the work and forget to do things like have fun, live healthy, and live in the moment.

A long awaited reprieve from the drone of 4th year university

Since my first year of University, I’ve been planning and going on trips to the United States where it’s warm, sunny, the food is cheap and the people are nice. There is a beautiful “Hostel” up in the Appalachian mountains in Georgia that we like to stay at called the Hiker Hostel. The Hiker Hostel is about 10km up the mountain away from the small town of Dalhonega, which is about an hour north of Atlanta, Georgia. The mountains there are beautiful, and punchy. In this area, the only flat roads are the ones that wind along the valleys, but they never last long anyways. The Appalachian mountains are an ancient mountain range that run basically north-south along the eastern states, so once you get to the middle of the mountains (east-west middle) you’re stuck right in them! And nothing puts hair on your chest like being forced to ride mountains, right?

A view from the highest moutain in Georgia; Brasstown Bald

We had a great group of guys going this year; Andrew, Alex L, Alex S (Schmidty), and myself. After class on Friday before reading week we packed the car (7 bikes and 4 guys in one car) and drove all the way down to Georgia in one straight shot (except for a stop at Schmidter’s parents place to pick up his road bike and a bike rack). Alex L had an interesting driving shift (you’ll have to as him about it), Andrew jacked himself up on Red Bull and drove like a fiend, and I got the fortunate shift as the sun was coming up and we were hitting the mountains.

4 Guys, 7 Bikes, and some seriously good tetris

Both Alex’s were in awe at our accommodations at this hostel (which is basically a lodge), but I told them the real best part of the hostel is breakfast – the subject of conversation on many of our rides. The hostel is a fun place, designed as a refuge for hikers who are starting their hike along the Appalachian Mountain Trail, which goes from Georgia to Maine. Surprisingly, there were two more Canadians staying at the hostel while we were there; Evan Mundy (who’s kind of a big deal on the road bike in Canada) and his father. We even got a good ride in with him up Brasstown Bald, the highest (and probably steepest) mountain in Georgia – Evan champed it up to the top with his superman gearing (my knees hurt just looking at him!).

Evan front left, me front right, Andrew back left, Alex L back right, riding int he valleys  between mountains

The week was filled with tons of training, food, and good times. I even got to do my homework! We crossed the state line and got to spend our last two days in South Carolina chez Benno. Ben Dawson rents out an amazing 7 bedroom beach house near Clemson, SC every year for 9 weeks (let me know if you want to spend some time training there, I’ll hook you up with his info.).

We stayed up late that night with all of the toys, even the giant chess game!

SC may have been my favourite state; we were on the edge of the Appalachians, so still very hilly, but not mountainous. In two days in SC I got to ride up the famous mountain Caesar’s head, and ride my sweet new Trek Superfly Elite on some pretty gnarly trails! I think that bike and I will make a famous team, and am so excited to be working with Trek this year!
Schmidty and I at  the top of Caesar's Head, what a Day!