Thank you Hannah Clarke

Thank you Hannah Clarke

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All day, all weekend

The mountain bike season may have wound down for most riders by now, but I've been keeping on the race scene in a bigger way than ever before! This past weekend must have been one of the best weekends ever, and it all started with an idea suggested to my girlfriend, Tori. I found out that her Dad was doing the 8 hour relay race with the owner of the Trek Stores.

Ladies and gentlemen, possibly the most influential guy in my cycling season this year; Barry!

 The idea with an 8 hour relay is to put together a team of up to 6 riders together, and get as many laps done in 8 hours as possible, with the best time winning. These races are all about community, teamwork, and perseverance. Tori and I registered in the tag team mixed division, and I promised her the top of the podium.

Meeting Tori as she got off the bus with a rose, and a fish that I named Barry

We got to the 8 hour course early Saturday (race 10am-6pm), and set up under our VIP Trek tents right by the lap area.
These tents were my home base, with food, good company, and tools!
I squeaked to the race start just on time to hang out with Ryan, and man do we look good on a start line!

Considering this was an 8 hour event, the race start was ridiculously fast, and because I wanted to get one of the fastest laps of the day and rip the front lines with Ryan, I was off like a rocket too! Laps are 10km, and a pretty fast rider could clear laps in about a half an hour. Unfortunately we took an extra bit of trail, but Ryan and I ended up with the fastest and 6th fastest lap times of the entire day, respectively. I took off for a triple lap right off the start, and always came through the lap zone being yelled at to do push ups (for improper bicycle dismount through the timing zone), or with a new surprise for Tori. These were just small catastrophes like needing tools to fix a bike after falling, or always having some new blood on me, but I was just out to rip on my bike and have fun, which meant jumping a lot more than I regularly would.

Event photographer's photos, some good ones in here!

By the end of the first lap I had put a gap of 7 minutes on second place, and by the end of the first 3 laps I did we had made up more than a half a lap. I sent Tori out on her first lap as a single lap to ease her into the course (which was awesome!), and went out for another triple lap. By this point I realized that Tori and I were comfortable in our positioning, so I would wait for friends and ride laps with them, turning the 8 hour race into the social hour race. After sending Tori out for a triple lap (longest she had ever raced before), I set out to do a quadruple lap, to round off 100km of racing. Tori and I did a combined 15 laps, though our last two counted as one because we went out together for a "Victory Lap". I was able to keep my promise of gold too, and we stood up high on the podium!

Recognize the rose?
Another Trek dominated podium in the "old guys" division!

Because I really hadn't actually pushed my legs hard on any lap except my first, and because Tori is in high contention in the series, we headed to the University Cup for Sunday. Dave set up a superb course for the race (possibly the most fun that I had ever been on for a University Cup), and I was right on my game.

Just reckless!
Thanks to Misko Milicic for taking and posting such great pictures!

Though my legs didn't have quite the edge that I normally have (most rider mountain bikers have never ridden 100km), I was right on top of my game. After spending so much time the day before on my bike, I was incredibly agile, and knew exactly how that bike would respond to any twitch of my muscles. Being this smooth and confident on the bike meant I was flying through the forest, jumping entire sections of trail, and cornering better than I could on feet! Tori somehow managed to pull out another podium, with a silver medal on the day after she had done her longest mountain bike ride ever. It was awesome!

I know I shouldn't be dating a girl from Queen's...
(Misko Milicic photo)

University Cup number three is this Sunday at Hardwood Hills, race starting at 11am, and I will be at a rock climbing competition in Kitchener on Saturday!

Photo: Paddy Mcmanus

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ending one season, starting a whole new one!

Over the past several weeks I've traveled to Quebec to race Canadian National Mountain Bike Marathon Championships, competed in the Ontario provincials, and started a whole new season altogether! Both were solid results for the season, especially considering the work that I had to do through July/August (instead of training). With the close of the more competitive provincial and national race calendars, and the commencement of full time class again, I've set my sights to different goals: the University Cup series.

U-Cups are the most fun, welcoming, and inclusive races imaginable. To be a part of a U-Cup is to belong to a community of like minded people. The first university cup race is a two day excursion to Mansfield Outdoor Center,and has 3 races involved. Typically the Guelph team shows up Saturday morning bright and early, but this year (for the first time since I've been involved) Queen's University decided to join the campout and festivities! Now, I seriously doubted whether or not Queen's was capable of building fires and pitching tents, so Dan and I joined them Friday night. 

Maybe a third of the tents that actually were set up.
Thanks Jim Cassell for always being around with a camera!

Saturday kicked off beautifully, the temperature rose fast, and sun was shining! By mid morning, the other schools were starting to roll into the field where we had camped out, and there was an excited buzz around the site. Everybody was pitching tents, assembling bikes, and enjoying the sun!

Nobody messes with a Velociraptor in a race, and nobody can prove how they were really coloured!
Thanks to Adrian from U of T for documenting our weekend so well!

The mountain bike criterium is always the most fun to watch, then we all got a break. I rode the time trial course and helped out practicing lines, had a quick bite to eat, and then went straight into the time trial. The time trial is always a unique event in that it is individual, so it's almost impossible to really gauge how you are doing! I came through with a solid 8th place in the time trial, and proceeded up the trail with a bunch of guys to cheer and heckle the riders still on the course (some days is my real favorite part of racing U-cups). The evening consisted of swimming, chopping wood, a massive campfire and feast, and some of the best company I could imagine, U cups really are sweet.

Maximum aerodynamics were necessary for the Time trail
Thanks to Jim Cassell (my personal photographer, right Jim?)

Day two of racing is where you can really shine and show your skills in mountain bike racing; a technical 3 lap race. The first third or so of the lap is constant up and down on steep, tight trail leaving no opportunities for passing, and tiring you right out. The trail finally opens to a massive fire road hill, and once you hit the top it's more quick singletrack until one climb about 2/3 of the way through the lap. After this climb, more singletrack with some gnarly downhills and you're home free (or back where you started, heading out for another lap).

Some great ladies out on the bikes, we need more though! Tell your friends!
Photo: Jim Cassell

I sat into the pace of the other guys for the exhausting section of the first lap, then found that miraculously as we ascended the fire road hill, I was able to make many passes, and get into the singletrack at the top in front of the other guys (meaning that I can now ride my own pace, not theirs). Through the singletrack I bridged the gap to James Clarke and Trent Meyers, and settled into a nice train pace with them. By the time we finally hit double track again, James and I got by Trent, and then I edged James out to lead through the next technical bits. Unfortunately I couldn't hold Jame's wheel for more than the rest of that lap, but I had a serious good time racing with Trent.

Trent chasing me down, just around the corner!
Thanks to  Mark Dewan for posting these on Facebook

Throughout the race Trent would get by me, or get dropped by me, and he seemed to become more and more powerful on the vicious fire road climb. Trent complimented me on my ability to keep a steady pace, but my steady pace was not enough, and I finished a solid 6th place.

It was sad to pack up camp for what may end up being my last university cup camping experience, but I can always reflect on some of the fondest memories I have of racing!
To anybody who has even considered the University of Guelph Cycling Club, try your best to say hi and get in touch! Check out our forum at, and you're invited to a pot luck tonight (Thursday September 20th).
I'll be looking forward to the next adventure this weekend! 8 hour tag team race with Tori, and University Cup number 2 at Boler Mountain, London!