Category Archives: Cycling (CX)

Why I Race: Health Hope Happiness

By Cory Boddy:

There are a lot of reasons to race, whatever your discipline. Over the years I’ve focused on mountain biking, then switched to running, then mixed it up with duathlon, and now I’m pretty into road cycling and cyclocross. The disciplines have changed, but my reasons for racing haven’t. I like the challenge, I like to see improvement, it keeps my head clear and my heart healthy, and I like social aspect of cycling. There is something else though; a bonus, an added motivation that comes from being part of Fiera Race Club.

Whatever race I compete in, my race entry fees are matched with an equal charitable donation from our sponsor, Fiera Biological Consulting, to the club-supported charity of my choice. My choice is always Camp He Ho Ha.

Camp He Ho Ha or more proper: Health, Hope, and Happiness is a local camp near Edmonton, for people with special needs. Every summer over 800 campers attend, some as young as 7 and others as old as 90.

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One of the best summers of my life was spent at Camp He Ho Ha. I was a Camp Counselor and for four months 800 campers with disabilities brightened every moment. I’ll never forget that summer and I try to use that experience to steer the decisions I make some 20 years later. That’s why I continue to support Camp He Ho Ha and why I’m thrilled to be part of a race club that allows me to give even more.

We are truly fortunate to be able to race, train, and ride with a club that makes this possible.

Since joining Fiera Race Team, I have participated in enough races to see Fiera Biological donate  $1,800 to Camp He Ho Ha! These are donations that are direly needed, and appreciated, and all I had to do was something that I already enjoyed, and fill out a simple online form after each race. That’s it. I didn’t have to win, or do well… or even finish, come to think of it. I just had to do what I’m already passionate about doing … get outdoors and challenge myself.

So as the race season sets upon us, I hope the rest of my Fiera Race Club teammates will challenge themselves to race and remember to report their race achievements to secure a donation to Camp He Ho Ha or any of the other worthy charities we have chosen to support. There are plenty of reasons to get out there and race. This just happens to be one of the better ones.

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Since the club began, the racing adventrures of our membership have generated nearly $10,000! Below is a list of the awesome charities supported by Fiera Race Team as a result of our racing efforts. To report your results, just look to left side-margin of this homepage where it says Recent Results, then click “tell us about it!

Right to Play

Doctors Without Boarders

Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Canadian Red Cross

Food Banks Canada

Camp He-Ho-Ha

Stollery Children’s Hospital

Environmental Law Centre

 

 

 

 

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Kindness matters!

As I hope you all remember, when Fiera Race Club members race, donations are generated for a select group of charities (for more information see our About Us page). We have chosen these charities carefully, weighing a few key criteria:

1) we want to support some local charities – charities that are making a difference close to home for most of our members.

2) we want to support charities that make a large, lasting, and tangible difference.

3) we want to support charities for which there is a personal connection for our members

4) and finally we want to support charities that reflect the values of a recreational, athletically motivated sports club, such that we are.

Additionally we want our modest donations to have as big an impact as possible, and at the same time we want to spread our impact around as widely as possible.

Taking all these things in to account, I think we have come up with a most deserving list of eight recipients.  They are as follows:

Right to Play

Doctors without Borders

Food Banks Canada

Canadian Red Cross

Stollery Children’s Hospital

Camp He Ho Ha

Nature Conservancy Canada

Environmental Law Centre

We don’t always receive thanks for our donations, nor do we expect to.  I hope that the knowledge that we are fortunate enough to feed our passion to train and race all while generating funds that ultimately help to make to world a better place is more than thanks enough.

Still, it is awfully nice when we do recieve a note or letter such as I recently recieved on Fiera Race Club’s behalf, from the Executive Director of Camp He Ho Ha.

“This act of kindness is written on the hearts of so many who benefit from your generosity”

Here is the letter in full.  I hope it motivates us all to keep training, racing, and giving.

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The Alberta Race Scene for 2014 has broke away early!!!

Winter bike races have not been a common occurrence in Alberta during my decade+ of racing. However, a couple seasons ago the Devon Bicycle Association hosted the Blizzard Bike Race, which is looking forward to its third annual race this February! For some perspective on this race check out our Blog from 2012.

This year Juventus also hosted, on January 5, a fun little cyclocross race, the Waffle Cross, in minus 27 C weather, expecting optimistically, that maybe 20 racers would brave the cold – over 50 riders showed up, myself included.  It was awesome.  The race lasted less than 15 minutes, and was an all out sprint and great anerobic test for the pre season training.  There were mountain bikes, ‘cross bikes, fat bikes and run bikes; there were old guys, older guys, young guys, younger guys, women, and children; fast riders, slow riders, riders who used-to-be fast, and riders that never quite got fast.   This was my first winter bike race, but I sure hope it won’t be my last. And it looks like there is no reason it should be, as another winter bike race has popped up on the schedule.  Check out Life in the Fat Lane, scheduled for January 18 in Calgary.

Now, for some of us, it is not all bike, all the time, and so I don’t want to conclude this little blog without reminding folks that registration is still open for the Canadian Birkebeiner Cross-counry Ski event on February 7-8, 2014.

So, to sum up, lets just say that there is lots of winter left, but that is no reason not to get stoked for racing in 2014 – it has begun. Don’t get left behind.  You can get your Alberta Bicycle Race license now, and will be able to register for Fiera Race Team soon.  Standby for an update on that.

And so: On your mark. Get set. Happy 2014.

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Dear Edmonton City Councillor: An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Diotte,

Thank you for taking the time to consider this correspondence. I am writing to let you know that as a car-owner, a constituent of Ward 11, and an active voter in municipal elections, I am fully in support of the 2013 plans for bicycle routes and lanes in the City of Edmonton.

I am saddened by the tone of the rhetoric against the bike lanes in the media to-date, and am certain that it is primarily rooted in an inappropriate culture of entitlement nurtured in many car owners. I say inappropriate for a number of reasons:

1) The primary argument seems to be that the rights of a majority for parking outweighs the rights of the minority to safety. As you know, cyclists face disproportionate risk when they are in conflict with cars, and bike lanes and designated routes go a long way to buffering cyclists from hazards and reminding drivers that they share the road with people more vulnerable than themselves. I think vulnerable is a key word here Mr. Diotte, and I hope you will show some leadership on this issue and help support the efforts to provide bicycle lanes and routes to keep Edmonton’s vulnerable commuters, more safe.

2) The people who are anti-bikelane seem to think that because cyclists have a choice not to cycle, that they are entirely responsible for what happens to them on their commute, and accordingly, they incorrectly believe that it’s not up to the City to provide infrastructure to make commuting by bicycle more safe. Nor do they believe that car owners/drivers should have sacrifices imposed on them to make streets safer for cyclists.  If we apply this logic without bias, the tables are easily turned; car owners have made the choice to own and drive cars,and most have the option not to; therefore, why is it the responsibility of the city to ensure they have street-front to park on? Further, what car owners sacrifice for the imposition of a bicycle lane amounts to, in most cases, an inconvenience, while what cyclists sacrifice when bike lanes are given over to car parking is in the most literal way, their safety, and all too often, their lives.

3) There seems to be an opinion that cyclists, and bike-lanes, and the supporters of bike-lanes are somehow radical. This is far from the truth.  The majority of great cities in the world accommodate bicycles and recognize the services that they provide, namely pollution-free transportation that requires minimal space and minimal infrastructure to support. This is not radical, it is common sense and it is time that Edmonton joined the enlightened by recognizing the value that bicycles provide as a mode of transportation that goes beyond recreation.

Given all of this Mr. Diotte, it seems to me that you and the rest of the Edmonton City Councillors are on the verge of something important, something defining.  Do you give in to the masses of the vocal self interested, or lead the City of Edmonton down a more accommodating, safer, and modern road to a better society?

Truly, Mr. Diotte, with some leadership, some white paint, and some no-parking signs, the City of Edmonton can protect the vulnerable, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce CO2 emissions, set an example for other municipalities, and join the other great enlightened cities of the world. Or, you can take the easy route by giving in to those willing to risk the lives of others so that they can “park out front”; meanwhile, Edmonton’s cyclists will continue to risk life and limb.

The Mayor has described this bike lane initiative as a nightmare, an unfortunate choice of words to say the least.  To you, the Mayor, and the rest of the Edmonton City Councillors, I suggest that far better example of a nightmare is getting the news that a loved one was needlessly crushed beneath the wheels of a cement truck while commuting to school in a city far behind the times when it comes to promoting and facilitating safe urban bicycle traffic.

Sincerely,
__________________
Joseph Likte

Lesley Baldwin – Masters Provincial Champ and 2nd Place at Canadian Cyclocross Nationals!

Lesley continued her amazing season this weekend at the Cyclocross National Championships in  Surrey,BC. After defending her Provincial Masters title a few weeks ago in a cold and snowy race in Alberta, Lesley braved the rain and mud to take second place at the National Championships.  Congrats, Lesley, you rock!! Stay tuned – we hope to have a race report from Lesley recapping her great season soon!

You can find full results from the National Championships here, and an article about the race here.

Cold Nuts and Hard Butts: CX according to the Hof

By Simmon Hofstetter

Normally I avoid writing up race reports, but Shari asked for at least a summary of the races so far, and I wasn’t about to refuse. After all, she pulled out a subtle puppy-dog stare. It was very subtle. You might even say she did no such thing, and that I buckled under her commanding gaze. Here are my impressions about cross racing this year (forgive the length).

This cross season is my first (of many, I hope), and was the result of being coerced by a powerful element that many of us in Edmonton are familiar with: The Roders. I’m not exactly sure of how they did it, but Bridget and Dave had me thinking of racing cross since last season. The most memorable moment of watching that season was seeing Josh on his back, retching up half of a lung at the finish line with the rest of the riders. “Looks like fun,” I thought. After hearing that Dave was selling one of his pretty cross bikes, I hopped on the wagon. No regrets.

I immediately fell in love with the two-wheeled devilry. Punchy climbs, accelerations, questionable corners- it’s a great recipe. Thankfully, everyone I rode with passed along wisdom from previous race seasons. Admittedly, sometimes one had to translate the advice. For example, useful comments such as, “Racing cross feels like you’re going to die,” and “Blood is normal in a cross race,” can be rephrased as, “You should do hard interval training,” and “There are various technical sections in every race.” Pretty soon, I had a good idea of what I was in for. [Editor’s useful comment: “Practice bunny hopping before the race”]

CX Carnage from Fiera Race Team on Vimeo.

The goal for the season was to get out of the “Sport” category. I would need to scuttle the competition enough to snatch 40 points. After doing IM Cozumel in November, I’d lost much of my ability to sustain back-to-back high intensity outputs. I was worried. The season could go relatively well, or I could end up at the back of the pack in a bag of nettles. So, with the many pearls of wisdom about cross racing rattling in the back of my mind, the training took shape. I figured the handling skills would carry over from mountain biking, and would develop on the morning rides with Dave. There’s nothing like riding a cross bike at high speed on gravel and grass, bleary-eyed and half-awake, to get your skills up. Thanks, Dave.

Fiera’s Kettle Cross was up first. It’s not a typical cross race, but it would be a good indicator of grit on the bike. In summary, it was fun and it was painful. The race was a beast, but I’m grateful for it. Very little from that race actually applies to cross racing, so I didn’t put too much stock in the results.

Simmon in the red and feeling the pain

Fast forward to the first weekend of shorter races- School of Cross and Hop n’ Hurl. These went pretty well for first-time races. In each, I started off middle or back of the pack to see where I would place and get an idea of how to stage in later races. One thing became apparent right from the beginning- the start is crucial. Fast enough, and you’ll get a clear field and can pull away. Too slow, and you’re stuck navigating around other riders while the front makes excellent time. All in all, these were a good lesson- and I managed to get some points. The next weekend of racing was even better, as I tried to stage as close to the front as possible. There’s really not much to say- but the lesson learned here was that technical drills pay off. I managed to make up time on those ahead of me on the sections that needed dismounts/mounts- well worth the practice.

And then there was last weekend out in Devon at the Lion’s Den Cross. Up to this point, we’d had warm weather, which, apparently, is not cross racing weather. Derek MacKenzie and I pulled into the parking lot to the eerily peaceful sight of snow falling on a white landscape as riders slowly pre-rode the course.

DMack – so excited to race he can hardly contain himself

This was going to be wet, cold, and muddy. Excellent. For me, this was the most interesting race of the season. The snow would make the course slick, and I was curious to see how much that would influence the standings. The answer: significantly.

Simmon talking the barriers like a pro

The “Expert” category’s first lap saw multiple crashes, and some riders pull out. I’m not sure how many didn’t finish, but it was obvious that straddling the razor between tires on the ground and ass on the ground was your ticket to a good result. It turns out that I managed to do just that, and ended up snagging second place. Good enough for my first season, and good enough to get my upgrade to “Expert.”

My impression is that cross racing definitely lives up to the hype. It’s brisk weather, warm drinks, and sublethal organ failure. During each race, you hit your maximum sustainable pace, hold on, and try not to lose control of any dignified bodily functions (in front of spectators). If you’ve ever wondered, you don’t have to worry about throwing up during a race, because although your stomach doesn’t have enough blood to function properly, the muscles involved in vomiting don’t either. That’s a sort of grey area of “good.” Kind of like cross racing. Pain and pleasure meshed together so tightly that you can’t parse them apart. From race to race, there’s going to be more of one than the other- but you don’t have the time (or the oxygen) to think about it. That, in its own way, is what I have found to be the mercy of cross racing.

Simmon takes second at the Lion’s Den – good enough to secure an upgrade to Expert and a yummy cupcake

The community behind cross racing was the best part of this season. The bike shops, clubs, volunteers, and racers all come together to make this scene a welcoming environment. If you’re tossing around the idea of racing cross, my advice is to leap in with both feet. Yes, as a race progresses it’s likely that the capillaries in your head get bigger and bigger, until it looks like someone tried to choke you out with a Rand McNally road atlas. Yes, cross racing is an oxygen-deprived, semi-conscious state in which the perception of time warps (for good or bad). But it’s followed by a sense of euphoria, muscle pain, and beer. All while surrounded by great people.

Race Report: Kutna Hora, CZ CX

by Jan Plavec
Last weekend I finally got chance to try cyclocross in my home country after two learning seasons in Canada. It was really just a try. I hardly sat on the bike in September because of all the stuff connected with starting new life in Vienna. Not mentioning that I didn’t have a cross bike at all so I was only jealously checking photos and results of my teammates in Alberta.
But this weekend we went back to my home town – Hermanuv Mestec and the same weekend there was a race happening in Kutna Hora just 50 kilometers away. Only problem to solve was where to get a bike. But I knew about one Jake the Snake lying unused right in the house. So on Sunday morning I told Lenka I was going to clean her bike at the backyard and then slipped it over the fence right into my mom’s car and off we went for cyclocross.
There are basically only two cyclocross circuits in Czech: National Cup for Elite, Juniors and Women and Master’s Cup which consists of open races for public and older licensed guys like me. That means that there are only age group categories and I was signed in masters A category in Master’s Cup. I had really mixed feelings about how this race will look like. I had no idea what the ability level of others could be not speaking about my ability with no training and the bike that is two sizes smaller. There was a real possibility that I would be humiliated by a bunch of former world’s champions. Fortunately it wasn’t so bad and I really enjoyed the race and suffer through it as usual.

Jan, taking it easy over the dirt jumps on Lenka’s Jake the Snake CX


I started in the back waiting what would happen. It happened that everybody took off and I had hard time to stay in touch with the last group. Soon the front of the Masters B blew around me and I started be a little nervous when Masters C would come. It was hard to say if there is anybody from my category around anymore, but it showed up that there were some guys that were obviously not former world’s champions and so it wasn’t such a lonely race for me.
Also my mother pushed me to my limits by her cheering. My heart rate went really high when she was yelling: “You are the best, my little racer” (Literally – I hope it sounds as humiliating in English as in Czech).

Jan’s Mom and her little racer.


I finished 14th from 20 competitors and got 10 points in Masters Cup as well as right to start at nationals so maybe I should start training. Finally I wasn’t lapped (it was close though) so full success. And I got Lenka’s bike back unharmed just in time when she started looking to the backyard what I am cleaning so long.

A quick post-race snack and then sneak Lenka’s bike back in to the yard – without beer on his breath, she would know something was up, for sure.

Cross collective Expert Men results

This is what can happen when Joe actually finishes a race…

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Four days and counting…

With only four days until race day, things are a flurry of activity, and we are madly trying to get everything organized for the first annual Kettle Cross Enduro, which happens this Sunday, Sept 9.

Just the other day the grande prizes turned up … pottery cups handmade by Phyllis Harvey of Medicine Hat. These cups will go to the winner of each category, along with some other swag. We think they are pretty cool.

The Kettle Cross Cups, which go to the winner of each category.

If you want to win one of these beautiful cups, there is still time to sign up for the race. Registration is open until midnight on Friday, Sept 7. You can register here, and can learn more about the race here.

Kettle Cross Enduro – the details to date

We were scared there for a while, but it appears that enough people have registered for the Kettle Cross Enduro that there will, in fact, be a race! That is awesome news for those of us who started organizing this race last November – and it is gratifying to know there are others out there who think this race is a good idea too! So thanks to those of you who have signed on for what we hope will become a much loved and anticipated annual event.

As the big day looms close, we thought you might be interested to know a little bit about who has signed up for the race so far:

As of Aug 24, we have a total of 77 registrants, 55 of whom have signed up for the 74 km Full Kettle, making it, at this point, the most popular of the three race distances.

The Half Kettle is popular too, but lagging well behind the Full Kettle in the race for registrations, with only 21 registrants.

The Tea Kettle has fallen way behind in the race, with only 2 people signed up to date!!!!

This is both a surprise and a bit of a disappointment. The intention behind the Tea Cup race was to attract new racers, and to be welcoming for people who may not be that comfortable with racing. With nearly 15 years of racing experience in Alberta behind me, I can confidently say that you will not find a more suitable course or venue than the Tea Cup for that reluctant wife or girlfriend, not-so-fit brother in-law, or arm-chair cycling fan to try their first race. They don’t need a fancy bike, they don’t need toe clips, and they don’t need spandex. We all know someone who doesn’t race but should, someone who doesn’t ride but should, and someone who would, but is intimidated by the whole race license, spandex, team kit culture surrounding regular ABA races. That’s exactly why the Kettle Cross is not Provincial Cup race, why we have a Team Classification category, and why the Fiera Race Team is picking up the cost of day-licenses for new riders — so that you can kick your boyfriend/girlfriend/cousin-in-law in the arse, tell him/her to dust off that rusty Super Cycle, strap on a helmet, and come and get racing. Seriously folks, let’s go beyond our regular ABA race acquaintances and introduce some fresh faces to our sport.

Along similar lines, many pub discussions with my cycling friends have centered around how to attract more women to our sport.  I don’t know that we have ever stumbled on the answer, but as a club, we are concerned about it, and perhaps, with this event, are doing something right.  To date there are 21 female registrants, making up nearly 30% of racers. I don’t know for certain, but I think that is considerably better than the average ABA cyclocross race. In the opening cyclocross race in 2011, there were 11 women out of a total of 111 starters, which is less than 10%.

Finally, we have asked those who have registered for the race whether they know someone who might be willing to volunteer on race day, because we need approximately 30 volunteers just to keep everyone safe. It turns out that out of 77 registrants, only 6 people know someone who can volunteer, which surprises us a bit. Currently, we only have about half the volunteers that we need to host the race, so if that cousin-in-law of yours has a bum knee that is going to keep him/her from registering for the race, maybe you cold convince them to volunteer? There is an awesome t-shirt, great food, and fun times in it for them. If you know someone who can volunteer on September 9th, please get them to contact us (volunteers[at]kettle-cross.com).

For more information about the race, you can visit the Kettle Cross website, or you can sign up for the race here.