Thursday, June 30, 2011

Copeland Forest DH

Here are a couple pictures that Brother Fras wanted to see. They are from a ride earlier in the season with Alain and Mark when Alain brought his new camera to try out. If only he had been able to round up some better subject material.

This first shot is from part way down a fun downhill trail. There is a ladder bridge that goes out to a log with a roll down on the back side. If you hit it with a bit of pace it can be a drop which is about five feet down and maybe about ten or twelve feet out.

This next shot is from further on where the trail goes through a tightish right hander into a steeper section which is pretty fun. I am doing a funny looking lean into the turn but it is a cool shot where it is all frozen except for the front fork and wheel which look like they are working hard. Undoubtedly it is due to my fat ass rather than any excess pace I ought to be carrying.

Thanks to Fras for the new elbows which fit great and look cool too.

An interesting thing happened while we were hanging out at the ladder bridge trying to figure out where a picture might look good from. A group of riders came through flying down the trail and half way across the bridge one of them says, "Trevor - Trevor Charles..". It turns out it was Steve Mitges who had recognized me mid stunt somehow and Jany was right behind however so concentrating on the ride that she kept straight on. We met up again later and caught up a bit so it was fun to see them again. They looked as strong as ever and are an inspiration as athletes and all round dudes.

O-Cup #4 Albion Hills

I think that this race was only a week after the Canada Cup at Hardwood. I decided to skip the midweek race there in favour of going and pre-riding the course at Albion so on Wednesday after school, my colleague and fellow Team Thornton Ice Cream Parlour member Mark Harvey and I went down to Bolton to ride. This was in the face of looming unstable weather but we figured that we could rise above anything the heavens could throw at us.

When we got there we met three women who had been out riding and one of them had a titanium full suspension Kona - very nice. We asked them where the course was marked out and they directed us towards some marker arrows. As we rode we noticed that the arrows were pretty sparse and that some intersections were left unmarked. The trails were pretty good although a little wet due to rain fallen earlier in the week.

As we rode we eventually got to an area which was better marked and realized that the previous section we had been directed to was not actually part of the course. We finished a lap on the actual course and found it to be very fast and flowy and guaranteed to be a very fun race course. When we finished the lap, we popped out in a parking lot away from where our car was parked. The weather was closing in and there was a regular rumble of approaching thunder. I decided to squeeze in another lap and Harv headed back to the car.

As I rode, the thunder became pretty much constant and soon large lightning strikes became visible as the sky darkened almost to the point of being like dusk. When I got to the point where the course did a road crossing I decided to bail out with about a quarter of the lap to go as the lightning was now regular and some fat rain was starting to fall. This is where my route finding and sense of direction fell apart.

Initially I turned right onto the road and went a way with out seeing anything I recognized until deciding to turn around about (unbeknownst to me at this time) one bend before I would have come to a point where I knew where I was. I rode back the way I had come past the race course exit point and on all the way out of the park. The only positive thing was that I was moving away from where the main storm activity was occurring. Eventually I got to a sign for Palgrave and came to the realization that I was no where near where I needed to be, so I turned around for the second time and started to reluctantly head back into the thick of the storm. I then passed another mountain biker who was headed toward me as he escaped the weather and got some directions from him. Sure enough I figured out that I had been going the right way in the first place but never went far enough.

Now that I was headed in the right direction, I just put my head down and pedaled as the rain came down heavier and the sky was lit with a regular flash of lightning. These are about the only weather conditions that I really dislike riding in as the lightning is a real hazard but there is not much to do other than push on as there are no particularly good spots to shelter and the faster you go the sooner you are out of it. When I finally got back to the parking lot I was a little shocked to see the car was gone. My immediate thought was that Mark had made good on his 'threat' to head back to Barrie if he didn't see me in 30 minutes. Then I figured that he had probably headed over to the other parking lot where the race course dumped out to save me the ride back. A good and generous plan if it hadn't been for the fact that I had bailed off the course early. Coupled with my short excursion outside the park as I incompetently tried to find my way back, he wouldn't have passed me on the road and we completely missed each other.

After the worst of the electrical storm and rain had passed I headed back out and over to the other course parking and we met up on the road half way there. As it turned out we just got a little wet and all ended well so it was just a bit of excitement and adventure to spice up an otherwise mundane week.

As I said, the race course was super fun and fast, with flowy single track and high speed double track. I have a few pictures of myself below from the race that I found on some of the race day photo websites.

The next couple are from another site and I think that I like them a bit better over all.

The last cool thing that I will mention about this race was that it was the third time in quick succession that I serendipitously met Jany Mitges after not seeing her for a few years. Jany is obviously some sort or machine as you can notice the stark difference between her picture and mine shown previously. While I am huffing and puffing my guts out onto my handlebars, she has the apparent presence of mind to do a little mugging for the camera and thow up a 'peace bra'. At least I have something to aspire to.

Overall, I thought the race went pretty well for me as I finished ninth and rode well without any leg cramps and could barely walk at the end. I definitely didn't leave with anything left in the tank and it took a couple of days for the soreness to leave my legs and back.

Anyway that is it for now. The next post will just be a couple DH pics from earlier this year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

See Blog Name Above

This last year would refer to the 'Black Holes' bit in the Blog name. I will try to get back to this with a bit more frequency - Even more than once a year? - why yes, but why not? Anyway over the next couple I will try to update the bike racing situation for those that are clamouring for news.

Mansfield O-cup #1
Disaster. Totally sick. As in a virus - not as in 'Totally awesome'. 15 minutes back of the leaders. Disaster. Should probably have stayed home except that there was a flat out ripping double track downhill that was worth the price of admission.

Woodnewton O-cup #2
Skipped it. Still sick. Yup, the virus thing. Don't think that I missed much as I heard it was a deluge and too much of the course was over grass. How about some singletrack instead of some one's lawn.

Hardwood Hills O-cup #3 / Canada Cup
This is where things have started to get back on track although it was a very shaky lead up on the week before. To elaborate I was basically over the sickness - yes same one - and felt like my fitness was coming around. I had recently started riding on a tubeless setup that I was putting to the test on the Wednesday night race before the big weekend. This is where I was initiated to the limitations of the Stan's setup with low pressure in non UST rims.

While going pretty fast down some double track with a nice roller in it, I got a bit of air and kicked the back end out a little. Upon landing I heard this super loud BRRAAAPP sound and found myself with almost no pressure left at all in the back tire. This was awkward but I made it back to the car and pumped it up again and it felt OK. Unbeknownst to me there was some dirt trapped between the rim bead and side wall of the tire which caused to to slowly lose air over the next lap. I found out going down a trail called coffee run where I lost pressure again through the tire burping as I was pushing hard over a rough rooty section. Back to the car for more air. I then did the race and everything felt basically OK but when I went out for a last bit of a lap on the Canada Cup course I came to an awkward spot that has a little root drop that doesn't have a great run up and an off camber landing with a weird root in the middle. I was going too slow so I tried to half wheelie drop it but ended up sort of doing a bit of a table top nose dive right into the root on the landing. The front tire jack knifed and exploded off the rim, and I hit the deck pretty hard in a shower of Stan's sealant. Great way to prepare for the race.

After the disaster that was the C - Cup last year, I sort of figured that this might be an omen that I should cut my losses and not even show up on the Sunday. However, my lovely wife Jodi let me get back out on the Friday before so that I could attempt to reclaim my mojo. It went much better and I figured out a couple sections of the course that were very advantageous relative to how I had been riding it previously, and yes, there were tubes back in both tires. I would still like to try the tubeless set up more but I think I will wait until I have some proper rims and run a little more pressure.

So on the Sunday race day it went pretty well and I enjoyed the course better than last year. It was still strenuous and a little technical but there wasn't quite as much gut busting technical climbing and it was a little more fun and flowy over all. I have found a picture below which was part of a super fun bit that went down some really fast double track into single track and over a couple wide A-frame planks where you could get a bit of air.

I ended up finishing 10th overall which I was pretty happy with and best of all my race wasn't limited by cramping legs which is where they all ended last year. It seems that the Hammer Nutrition product called Perpetuum is working pretty well for me so I will likely stick with that for the foreseeable future.

In the next couple days I will try to get together a report on Albion hills which was an awesome race.