Tag Archives: race report

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.


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.


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






Race Report: Hypothermic Half Marathon – Edmonton

By Renee Howard

After being gently prodded by Joe (and by gently, I mean relentlessly over the last two weeks), I’m finally ready to recap and thus relive my first Half Marathon.

Back in early October, I decided to run the Hypothermic Half Marathon. Since registering for the race, I’ve had a number of people ask me “Why would you want to run a half marathon?” This is very quickly followed up by “Why would you want to run a half marathon in the winter?!” To be completely honest, I asked these same questions to myself nearly every Sunday morning, at 8 am while just about to start a long run…

In reality, training for this race wasn’t terrible. I would hazard a guess that this year was, for the most part, the best that winter running conditions could get in Edmonton. The majority of my training runs were done in temperatures between -10°C and 5°C, I never once wore grips on my shoes, and only a handful of times did I have more than three layers on my upper body! In the fall, I knew that the projections for winter 2015/2016 were for a mild winter with less snow than usual. So I took advantage of this and tried my hand at winter running!

It’s funny because I’m supposed to be writing a race report, but after 17 weeks of training most of what I want to share are things I’ve learned, funny moments, or weird winter running quirks that I’ve picked up since starting my training back in October. So much so, that I would have to say that running the race was the easy part! There are lots of things I could say about winter running, but I’ll stick to my given task, and write a race report.

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 7.07.38 PM

I like the Hypothermic Half Marathon race because the proceeds benefit Nature Alberta. The cause is important to me and I’ve volunteered as a course marshal a couple of times so I knew this was the race I wanted to do. Though the course isn’t much to write home about (two loops along Ada boulevard starting and finishing at the Highlands Golf Course), the reason most other people run the race is for the breakfast! This was apparent from the very beginning when the announcer’s pep talk mostly comprised talk about how good the bacon would be at the end, also very early into the race when the people I was running with were counting down the minutes until they could get bacon, and again at right around the 15 km point when I passed a group of runners chanting bacon, bacon, bacon to match their steps. As a vegetarian, the bacon wasn’t really doing it to keep me going, but I knew there would be breakfast potatoes available so that was enough for me!



The looped course, though not very scenic, was actually very motivating to run! I passed other members of my training group multiple times on the course, I high-fived my much faster friend as she flew by me twice, and I was able to run past my spectators four times. Plus, there’s nothing like a group of race marshalls watching at the corner, cheering you on to keep you running when you really want a walk break (thanks Tonya ;)). Overall, it was a really good first half marathon race!

While I didn’t beat my Goal A of under 2:30, I did achieve my Goal B of finishing upright and smiling. I’m already planning for my next race, knowing I will train a bit differently to surpass Goal A next time. My struggle now will be integrating cycling into this summer’s training schedule to be able to keep up with the rest of the Fiera Race Team. See you all on the trails! Results are here!

12733422_10153225436710807_970726274870943921_nPhoto of my fast friend, Katie, and I (2484) taken minutes after I crossed the finish line. Also a great photo of the on-site facilities…


Race Report: Fernie 3 all mountain stage race

By Duncan Purvis

A couple of friends and I decided that this year we would head to Fernie for the Fernie 3 All Mountain Stage Race. This is one of those decisions that sounds better in February than it does trying to drag oneself out of bed on the third day of the “race” (by “race”, I mean ride). The Fernie 3 was held on June 27, 28 and 29th. Since I signed up I think I was worried most about whether or not it would rain while we were there, which often happens in Fernie. What I did not worry about was record high temperatures in the +35 range. It hit 36 on Saturday, 37 on Sunday and “only” 30 on Monday.

Day 1

The first stage was a 28 km course with 1,300 metres of vertical. The start was a new subdivision just off the highway on the way to the ski hill. When we arrived at 8:45 for the briefing, it was already in the mid 20’s. The race (ride) started at 9:30 on a beautiful, newly paved road. For the first 5 minutes of my day I quite enjoyed myself.


The course quickly veered off to a fire road that I can only describe as being covered in about 3 inches of finely powdered dirt. 150 mountain bikers churning up the silt turned it very dusty, very quickly. As I was not winning the race (ride) at that point, I was behind a number of other dirt churning machines so as if the heat wasn’t enough, a few mouthfuls of dirt really added to ambience. After about 10 minutes in the dustbowl, the course mercifully veered off into some single track. For about 30 seconds, I was again somewhat happy. Then the trail started going up. Then it went up some more. Then a bit more. Then a few seconds of rooted, rocky downhill and then up again. I think there might have been an aid station and some watermelon. Then up, and up and up some more. At one point the climb broke out of the trees into the baking sun. I think I was suffering a little bit from the heat. (as well as suffering from the fact I had not mountain biked in the actual mountains since June of 2014). There was some point in time that I had just decided I was never going to be cold ever again in my life. That I had absorbed and created so much heat that I was just going to exude warmth for the next 40 years. Mercifully, my thoughts kept my mind from the pain my legs were suffering from, and after a few grueling hours I had reached peak elevation.


Nothing like a mountain bike race to get your fill of that clean mountain air! Breath deeply.

I thought to myself that I had made it. Just a nice downhill, and I could cruise across the finish line and drink some more . I was wrong. The next 20 minutes was a hair raising (if I had any) descent. Chock full of steep drops, roots, rocks and trees it was almost harder than the uphill. No rest for the arms, or braking fingers, my upper body was sore by the time I finished. So while it was a relief to hit level ground, it lasted about a minute because the course sent us back up a hill again. I think there might have been an aid station and some watermelon.I thought to myself that I had made it. Just a nice downhill, and I could cruise across the finish line and drink some more Slingshot IPA from FBC. I was wrong. The next 20 minutes was a hair raising (if I had any) descent. Chock full of steep drops, roots, rocks and trees it was almost harder than the uphill. No rest for the arms, or braking fingers, my upper body was sore by the time I finished. So while it was a relief to hit level ground, it lasted about a minute because the course sent us back up a hill again. I think there might have been an aid station and some watermelon.


Aid stations are crucial on hot race days, and here the author is captured by his own bike cam elbowing his way to the beer keg for some much needed mid race refreshment.

This time, the climb took us up some singletrack to meet up with a fire road that came out of the trees at the bottom of the cedar bowl at the ski hill. By now it was about 12:30. It was hotter than it was when we came out of the trees the last time. I cursed the fast riders who were probably done by now and drinking all the cold beer. I again contemplated my fate as the human furnace. I finally came around the corner of the climb and saw the trail disappear into the darkness of the trees (Shade!), a fittingly named downhill called “Dark Forest”. While it was somewhat cooler in the trees, this trail was another steep downhill in soft black dirt that I can only assume came from the burning fires of Mordor. Or perhaps I was in a heat induced hallucination. I really was suffering from the heat. A bit dizzy… I remember thinking that I was probably a bit of a danger to any other riders around me, but luckily I remembered everyone was probably already finished by now and they had likely packed up and gone home. I was only a danger to myself. Only a small spill in sooty black soot of the dark forest, and I was back out on “powdered dust road”, headed for the finish. That’s when the muscles in my right quad seized up in a gnarled spasm. Sigh. A few stops to stretch it out and I was back on the glorious new asphalt, headed for the finish.

dark forest

Shade, thank Shimano! Welcome to the Dark Forest!

If I’ve had a harder day on the mountain bike I’d have to think back to day 3 of the transrockies where I had walk most of the way up Cox hill in the pouring rain. But hey, at least that day I was cool. Of course Im referring to the “temperature” sense, as I never, ever feel like I’m “cool” in the I’m awesome sense, in a race like this.

Obviously, my greatest fear was that the free keg of beer donated by the FBC at the finish was gone, or worse yet, warm. Happily there was some nice cold stuff still left when I got there.slingshot_with_glass_small

Day 2

You know that feeling when your friend books the accommodation (for 3 people) and it turns out to NOT be three bedrooms, but two bedrooms and one crappy short leather couch on the top floor of an non-air conditioned apartment complex that was built as close to the railroad tracks as any building code would possibly allow?

I wouldn’t call “sleep” what I did that night. More like a series of short naps in a sauna with a train.


Planes Trains and Automobiles….. and mountain bikes.

Just to make sure my worst fears from the day before did not come true, I decided to make sure I had my free beer BEFORE the race started, and before those fast guys got it. I showed them. Hiccup.

Day 2 was a 32 km course with 1225 of vertical. After the horror show of the day before, this day was almost pleasant. Maybe it was the pre race beers. Or maybe I had recognized that I needed some electrolytes in my water to stave off any leg crampsIt started out in town with a km or so of pavement. The group hit the trail, but thankfully it wasn’t as dusty. As usual, it just went up and up. I think the first climb was about 500 m over 5 km. I kept telling myself it was just like all the hills in the River Valley back in Edmonton. The corresponding first downhill was a really nice piece of trail nice flowing, fast turns and not too steep. This downhill led into a nice section of smaller up hills and smaller down hills, faster sections of up down, versus big climbs and big descents. It was fun…

oom sign

That way?!!? Are you serious? According to my GPS the beer is just over there! What’s your volunteer badge number? I am going to need to speak to your manager!

As the course turned and started heading back into town, my garmin was reading about 30 km. the single track gave way to a gravel path which appeared to me to lead us straight back to the finish line. I felt good. I forgot that apparently this weekend was about suffering, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I came around a corner and instead of course markings pointing straight down the gravel path to the beer, they pointed up a steep hill into the trees. I thought about stopping and arguing with the course marshall that my garmin said I had gone 32 km, and that’s what the course was supposed to be, but if I was honest with myself, I did demonstrate some willfull blindness as the elevation gain was on my garmin was only reading about 1000 m. Cursing the organizers I headed up the hill. Maybe it was the power of negative thinking, but my leg cramps came back again despite my electrolyte precautions. Another few breaks with precious seconds between me and cold beer ticking away, I eventually hit the top. Again, not sure if it was my bad attitude but I managed to slide out on the gravel road going down the hill. Just to add a little road rash to my hip in case I was feeling too good about myself. Finally, the finish line came into view some 35 (an extra 3!!) km into the day.

Day 3

Train,Sauna, sticky leather couch etc. And honestly, if all that wasn’t bad enough, the building fire alarm decided that it needed to go off at 3 am. I was merrily sleeping right through it before one of my friends woke me up to tell me they were going downstairs until the fire dept. came. I told him I felt safe in my bed and to text me if there actually was a fire. I tried to go back to sleep but the fireman came barging in to the apartment looking for the fire. He didnt find it, and he also didnt tell me to get out, so I went back to bed.7GoJtUzaA0UrXOh9utQKqJUmnyR

We awoke, (or were still awake) for day three to some overcast skies! It only hit 31 that day. This day was a 30 km course with about 1100 meters of climbing. We rode a lot of the trails we did on day 2, but in reverse direction. They were fun, but served to simply show me that anything I was going fast on the day before was in fact a net downhill. Another excellent blow to the ego. On the plus side, there were some times when I was actually pushing it, as opposed to just surviving. felt good enough to try and chase some people as opposed to hating the world and everything in it. For brief moments it was “race” not a “ride”.


I finished, no significant injuries or bike damage. Day 1 gets more and more enjoyable in my memory, the further back in time it goes. We stuck around for the banquet on Monday night and sure enough, the FBC had some more cold beer.  All in all, fun weekend. Already thinking about registering for next year! Have to say I was impressed with Fernie and the number of trails they have. Its obvious they have done a lot of work on trail maintenance and have built the requisite structures to ensure smooth riding. Obviously they need to work on filling the valley floor or shaving the tops off the mountains so their climbs are more like the Edmonton River Valley, but I’ll give them some time for that.
In summary, Fernie Brewing Company makes good beer.


A lot of work has gone into the trail system at Fernie. Features like this boardwalk are not uncommon, and super fun.

Race Report: Perogy XC — the long road to an Expert upgrade!

For those that may not know, in Alberta, mountain bike racers are divided into ability categories.  Everyone begins in Novice (unskilled or unproven), and they upgrade through Sport (skilled but undisciplined), and then through Expert (motivated, disciplined, on-their-way or out-of-their league), to ultimately peak at Elite (sponsored, professional, live on their bike).  Essentially, racers earn points by placing in the top 8 of selected racing events. First-place earns a racer 20 points, while 8th place earns only 2 points.  It takes 40 points to upgrade from Sport to Expert, and they must be earned in the current season or the previous season.  In other words, the points from three seasons ago do not count, only this year and last year.

I began aspiring to upgrade to the Expert ability category in mountain bike racing after my first Sport Race in 1999. Yes, that’s correct; I have been trapped here in Sport for 13 years in a kind of fat-tire purgatory beset upon me as punishment for not training during the winter, and not finding time in the summer to race frequently.  I came in to 2012 season with zero points, having had an unmotivated training and racing year in 2011.  I was starting from scratch.  Now maybe you are thinking that someone with 13 years of racing experience should have learned enough tricks and techniques to give him a racing advantage. Well, sure, I have learned a few things…..for instance I have become more aware that bones break, and more and more I concern myself with the fact that men in their 40s have heart attacks; I have learned that when part of a race course is technical enough that the organizer provides a go-around option, I should probably take the go-around; and I have learned that heavy bikes don’t break as frequently as light bikes, and cost less to repair. Believe me; this knowledge has not made me faster—at least not relative to the youthful daredevil competition riding five thousand dollar bikes.  Whatever I have learned that might be a racing advantage is certainly cancelled out by my relative age. Even 13 years ago, I was older than most of the young cyclists I line up with now in the Sport category.  Many are recent upgrades from Novice.  Twenty-somethings that attack the downhills as if, in fact, bones don’t break, and bikes don’t crash. And they attack right off starting line, as if taking their heart rate from 60 to 215 beats per minute (bpm) in less than 60 seconds poses no risk or discomfort what so ever.

I am pretty sure that if my heart rate has ever gone to 215 bpm, that it was only once, and it was during a foot race against my best friend and rival, Richie Fairholm, in grade 2.  The girls in our grade had just voted Richie both the cutest boy in our grade, and also the fastest.  I was quick to protest the validity of this declaration, and since I couldn’t think of a more objective way to measure cuteness than to put it to a vote, I focused my arguments on speed, and quickly organized a foot race between Richie Fairholm and myself to objectively measure who was the fastest. I ran like I had never run before. I trounced him irrefutably with the whole class assembled to witness it.  “Fine” said the girls of grade two, “but Richie is still the cutest”. That was ok with me, and I went home that afternoon proud of my accomplishment, and quite satisfied that some small wrong had been corrected.  The next day, the girls of grade two voted Richie Fairholm to be the fastest boy in our grade, again. I was a big fan of The Peanuts cartoon specials in those days, and it struck me then how much the life of Charlie Brown and my own life had in common.  “GOOD GRIEF!” I thought to myself, helplessly.  Ever since then, being fast has been important to me, while my faith in democracy and my tolerance of 8-year-old school girls, has remained somewhat strained.

And, so, to the point of this report, I did it.  After thirteen years in Sport, I have upgraded to Expert. No, the ABA did not assemble a bunch of 8-year-old girls to put it to a vote; I earned my final 10 points in Sport this weekend, to total 40.  It was at the Perogy  XC mountain bike race put on by Pedalhead Bicycleworks in Edmonton, and to get my 10 points I had to finish no worst than 4th place against some of the fastest mediocre mountain bikers in Alberta.  Those of you who follow my blogs (Mom) may remember that I had a particularly rough day at this race last year.  It was hot, and I suffered and came close to quitting.  So when the long-range forecast predicted plus 30 °C temperatures for race-day this year, I started drinking (water this time, not beer).  I got some advice from Coach Stefan (from Next Stop Kona) who encouraged me to include complex carbohydrates in my waterbottles during the race; and to be double-sure, I also included some orange juice, a spoon full of sugar, and a quarter teaspoon of salt.  I coaxed Shari to work for me in the feed zone where she managed two coolers; one full of ice and bottles of my elixir concoction, and the other full of ice and bottles of pure refreshing water for dumping on my head and down my back to keep me cool. I was ready for the heat.

I had a great start, and was the third rider into the single track off the start.  I was quickly passed in the feed zone and relegated to fourth.  I attacked on the series of three big climbs and regained third, only to be passed at the bottom of the decent by a slew of riders, and relegated down to 8th by about half way through the first lap.  There was still some climbing left in the lap though, and by the time I was back through start finish to begin my second lap, I had moved back up to 7th.  My first feed came early in the second lap where Shari was vigilant in the feed zone, holding up a choice of my miracle elixir or water.  I had not had much time to drink, so my bottle of elixir was still full, I called for the water, but with only one bottle cage, what to do? The feed zone ended with a steep drop where I needed both hands, so I quickly tucked the bottle down the front of my jersey like a busty waitress might do with a 5-dollar tip.  Sexy, I know! Then, when I could manage some one-handed cycling, I dumped the sweet cool essence of life over my head, and felt immediately refreshed.  Again I attacked on the series of three big climbs, and worked my way into 5th; with 4th (Jason Redfern, Pedalhead) in sight, and 6th place (Brendan Romano, Mud Sweat and Gears) gaining on me.

Back through start/finish and the feed zone for the last time with 6th place about 5 bike-lengths back, Shari was ready with two more bottles but I could see right away that they were both my elixir.  I have a water bottle system, mixed liquids in clear bottles, and water in opaque (problem is I never told Shari about the system). As I called for water, she dropped one of the elixir bottles, and picked up a bottle of water—perfect. When I reached her, I dropped the spent bottle from by bottle cage at her feet and in one smooth and practiced motion grabbed the bottle of water from her hand and placed it securely in the cage. Now this is where things became less smooth, and less practiced; as I raised my head to look her in the eyes and smile gratefully, she took the remaining bottle of elixir she was holding, which she thought was water, and sprayed me right in the face.  Still pedaling forward, I was momentarily blinded (although gratefully refreshed), I reached up to grab the elixir bottle from her.  Intent on her plan to spray me, she was reluctant to let go, and the ensuing brief wrestling match caused me to nearly take out most of the feed zone.  By the time I had relived Shari of the bottle and stuffed it down my low-cut cycling blouse to get two hands back on my handlebar, 6th was a half wheel behind me. “Good Grief!”  Luckily, the elixir in the face worked to refresh me, and I rode the tight singletrack that came after the feed zone with some enthusiasm, and managed to put a nice 50-meter gap into 6th before the trail widened again.  This was to no avail however, because I took the widening trail as an opportunity to dump my bottle of water over my head, discard the empty bottle, and fish out the bottle of elixir that was working its way down out the bottom of my jersey; and though I negotiated this task to completion without loosing any speed, just before my right hand returned to its prudent position on my handlebar, the end of my handlebar caught a small shrub and turned my front wheel sharply 90 degrees to my direction of travel.  The laws of physics (objects in motion and that sort of thing) took control immediately and I launched headlong over the handlebars. I managed to get to my feet in time to pull my bike off the trail and let 6th place go by, now 5th.  “Good Grief!” This was not going to get me the points I needed to upgrade! Nothing short of a 4th place finish would suffice.

After a quick check to make sure there was no damage to the bike (borrowed from Shari), I jumped back on and got to work. I descended to the foot of the first big climb of the lap taking a few more risks than the previous lap, hoping to catch site of the racer in front of me.  At the foot of the climb I could see he was close, and that he was passing the 4th place rider.  Again I attacked on the climbs, and emerged at the top in 4th place.  The final climbs to finish the last lap were hard, but I knew they would be hard for the racers behind me as well.  As the course opened up and flattened out near the start finish, I hammered hard for the line, glancing back over my shoulder to ensure that glory could not be snatched from me.  As I crossed the line, I was not raised aloft on the wings of glory or swept away in a wave of pride at my achievement.  Instead, I felt the heaviness of well-earned fatigue, and heard a quiet, apathetic voice in my head speak clearly, providing perspective; “Today you set out to reach for the height of your cycling achievement and you did it, you actually did it Charlie Brown…….. you finished fourth.

So what was the big difference between this year and last year? Well, I trained pretty hard last winter, so I might be in better shape, though mostly I have not trained since early May, so maybe not.  The big difference was probably having Shari in the feed zone, encouraging me, letting me know where I was at in the race, and hosing me down with a solution of salty fruit juice and complex carbohydrates. I highly recommend it.  Full results can be inspected here.

Race Report: Devon Grand Prix – Lesley makes her road race debut!

By Lesley Baldwin

After a taste of road racing during the Spring Series, I was keen to try out the real deal, and on Sunday June 24th I rode in my first ABA sanctioned road race. Actually, it felt like less of a race and more of a nice hard ride on a beautiful morning with some kindred-spirited cyclists, but that’s okay.  There were 7 women on the cat 3-4-5 start list when I signed up, but when I arrived at the line, there were only 5, including myself.  Within minutes of our very casual roll out, we were down to 4.  We had a nice 2-by-2 ride with some introductions and friendly chit- chat.  Around the 15k mark, my bladder was ready to burst (bad timing with the pre-race coffee) and I proposed a pee break.  Although I’d *heard* this wasn’t uncommon in large pelotons during lengthy races, no one else had ever heard of such a thing and some where a bit skeptical…”is this a trick?” Trina asked.  Finally, everyone was on board and we waved the commissaires past.  So much better!  And what a civilized way to ride a “race”!

Once we started up again, we continued on our fairly leisurely pace – to be fair, I sat in second wheel the whole time and it was fairly windy so perhaps it was not so leisurely for the girls at the front!  Once we turned onto Hwy 770 things picked up a little and the group reorganized (not that there are many ways to organize a group of 4, but whatever…).  We got to the hill and all stayed together on the down hill.  Trina led the uphill and I just tried to keep pace; when I looked back, I realized we’d gapped the other two.  Hooray!  I was glad it happened without really having to launch any kind of attack because it felt like too friendly a group for that!  Once we realized we had a good lead, Trina and I decided to work together to try and double the gap on the second uphill after the turn around.  It worked.  Again, she set the pace on the uphill and I followed suit.  This time it was considerably harder and if I’d been in the lead, I’d definitely have let up a bit, but I wasn’t going to let her gap me too!

At the top of the hill we started alternately pulling and taking turns breaking the pretty serious wind we were riding into.  The effort was considerably harder on the way home, but we were going much more slowly!  We kept checking to see if the other girls were on our heals, but all we could see was the commissaires car.  We hated to have them catch us after the big gap we’d made so we decided to ride a little harder.  When I thought we had about 8km left, I started to hammer it a little knowing I’d have a better chance at a long hard finish than at a short super-hard finish.  Then I had second thoughts and backed off….  Lame, I know, but after her performance on the hill, I was pretty sure she was quite a bit stronger than me.  Plus, we were just having a nice Sunday ride, right?  Just after that, we saw the “1000m” sign, but weren’t sure we’d read it right.  “Was that 10000m or 1000m?”  Neither of us knew!  I think she spotted the finish tent first and she started to turn things on.  I responded but couldn’t go as hard.  She flew over the finish line a few seconds before and we made a 1-2 finish.  Fun, but hardly as exciting as a cyclocross race.  Hopefully there will be more ladies and more action in the next race!

Lesley takes second in her debut road race. Next time, with a little killer instinct, we’ll see her on the top step!

Race Report: Lake Summerside Triathlon

Posted by Jan

Lenka signed me up for a sprint triathlon race and left Canada. It seems that she finally got the idea how an ideal family weekend looks like. For me it was a perfect opportunity to dust off my wetsuit and other triathlon gear for the Great White North and to try transitions for real. I was also testing my new waterproof Garmin 310XT so I got for the first time data from my swimming.

How the author carb-loads while his wife is away.

It was one of the most relaxed race days I’ve ever experienced as the race took place close to my place, there were no big line-ups for signing up and the transition zone was open all the time. As a result, there was a lot of time to get ready not to mention that it was a short race. Also thanks to Anthony who keep me a company the whole day. The weather wasn’t bad (it stopped raining 2 hours before the race and started again 1 hour after the race), but there was a strong wind that made the biking and also the running more challenging than I expected. Especially for the bike I was looking forward to the flattest time-trial ever but the wind changed it into something like a mountain bike effort. Also they had to change the route due to construction so the longest straight part was about 300 meters and the rest was a criterium-like cornering.

I was happy about my swim time under 12 minutes on a reasonable effort. As I said the bike was not so pleasant for me. On a positive note, it kept me from going crazy as usual and as a result I had a nice run afterwards. In the run I missed my goal pace 4min/km just by a couple seconds. Oh well, I will get it in the Great White North J I just have to keep my heart rate on that average 205bpm for a little longer (that what my Garmin showed me but I think my monitor slipped from my chest and took some beats from my stomach too. Or I should go easy on coffee…)

Anyway, the race reminded me how much fun triathlon is and I am looking forward to the next weekend.

Results here:

Race Report: Devon Grand Prix of Cycling – according to Duncan

It was a rough weekend for me, but a great weekend for the team! Both days had great weather, Saturday was hot and sunny, while Sunday was sunny but cool and windy. Keegan won the bronze cupcake in the crit on Saturday. He was a monster! In the top 5 for just about every lap that I could see. Picked up a point on the first intermediate sprint, was just out of the points on the second, and was second overall on the last lap, pulling a controlled powerslide on the last corner to avoid crashing with the two guys in front of him who went down hard. It was an impressive performance. Jan was there taking pictures and getting psyched for Summerside, so you should get some pics from him. No lie, Keegan actually got a bronze cupcake. It looked delicious. I think a bronze cupcake is my goal for next year.

Keegan Machine Brooks

Podium, Oh Yeah!

Bronze Cupcake!

I on the other hand did not have such an impressive day. After the first lap with the pace car, I felt like I was in great position in the pack, fairly near the front. Kept with it for about 3/4 of the next lap and some guys made a move just before the last corner. I stood up on the cranks to go and felt my right pedal collapse under me. I slowed up immediately and figuratively limped into the start area. From the looks of it, my pedal had somehow loosened itself to the point where only half of the threads were still in the cranks, and when I put significant pressure on it, the threads sheared. I couldn’t even loosen it with my hand so I knew I was out. Really bummed out about it, especially so early in the race. I was itching to still be involved.

Jan says the fact that Keegan finished a race without a mechanical means that he has transferred his bad luck. Unfortunately, my bike was close to his for a good portion of the day and Jan thinks my bike now has Keegan’s bad luck. Great.

So off I went home to see if I could fix the bike for the road race on Sunday. On hindsight I should have stopped to watch the bike biathlon. It sounds like Lesley is a sharpshooter!

I used some WD40 to and a wrench to loosen the pedal, but the threads were shot. I couldn’t get the pedal threads started at all. I ended up taking an old pedal and removing the axle. I ground off the part that you would normally tighten against the crank so that it was narrower than the threads. Then I was able to insert it from the back of the crank and tighten it right through the wrecked threads from the other side. Luckily it worked, it seemed to clean out the wonky threads and I was able to insert the pedal back in. I used a bit of plumbing tape this time to make sure it wouldn’t come loose again.

I was really hoping for better things in the road race on Sunday. Again, bad day for me, but a good day for the team! Lesley pulled out a second place in the woman’s category. (see pic).  I didn’t see much of Stefan, the only time I saw him, he was leading the charge in the cat 1/2 group when I was on my way back.

I really don’t know what happened in the road race, but the end result was me getting dropped very early and (not) enjoying and very lengthy, lonely ride complete with headwind. I got dropped so early that I was out of the race before I had even gone to bed the night before.

Ah, It all happened so fast…. I was mid pack for the first couple of km, then the group hit the first corner and everybody took off. I pulled back to the peloton and was probably one of the last 4 or 5 riders. We hit another corner and again, everybody took off. I think I hesitated a bit, and before I knew it, I found myself back from the group. I knew if I fell off, I would never get back on again so I pushed as hard as I could and it seemed like I was 10 feet behind the last wheel forever. I wasn’t getting any further away, but I wasn’t getting any closer either. All the while I knew I couldn’t sustain the pace I was at and I just blew up. Looking back at my stats, I actually hit 197 on the HRM, so at least I can tell myself I tried, I just didn’t have it that day. I was very frustrated and disappointed. We weren’t even 10 km into the race and I was already done. Especially after my early exit from the race the day before. I thought about just heading back actually. But it was a nice day for a ride so off I went on my own, sadly watching the peloton get further and further away. It was pretty uneventful for the rest of the way. I really didn’t see anyone until close to the turnaround when I saw the guys heading back. Keegan was awesome enough to shout some encouragement. It looked like the main group blew up pretty good on the big hill just before the turnaround.

Coming back, I came across another Cat 5 rider, about 25 km from the finish. As I approached him I had visions of me trying to pass him and him latching on to my wheel resulting in a cat and mouse game of chase all the way to the finish line where we would have a sprint for last place glory in front of hundreds of cheering fans. But as I went by, I could tell he was as po’d about being at the back more than I was and he was in no mood for fun and games. So off I went by myself into the loneliness and crossed the finish line by myself and there were no fans, cheering, booing or otherwise. In fact, I think the finish line monitors had gone for coffee. I stopped to wave at the camera and held up my race number and UCI licence just to make sure they saw that I finished and so they wouldn’t have to send a search party out looking for me.

I keep replaying the day and wondering what I could have done differently. One, um, train harder this winter? Two, from a strategy perspective, probably a good lesson to try and keep in the middle or front of the pack to provide some buffer. After the first corner I worked really hard to get back on the next wheel and pulled a bunch of people along with me. If I had let up a bit and let a couple go by, I might have had a bit of break to recover. But as it stood, by the time I had to chase after the second corner I was already in need of some recovery and couldn’t sustain it.

Was very disappointed with road race as well, and the weekend in general. Those are the breaks I guess! Learn and move on. Still nice to be on a bike in the sun with some good people. All in fun.

Race Report: Devon Grand Prix of Cycling – according to Stefan

This weekend the City of Devon was again host of a fantastic bicycle spectacle, the Devon Grand Prix of Cycling 2012. I participated on Saturday in the United Cycle Downtown Criterium Provincials and on Sunday the Juventus Genessee Hills Road Race. It was my first Criterium in Category 2 and I was pretty nervous since these crits are a sink or swim. You’ve got to be 100% committed if you want to finish with the main pack and you have to stay always alert as crashes happen often due to the speed and the exhaustion of the riders. In our category we had to cover 40 laps of approximately 900 metres. And man, this race was fast! We averaged 45 km/h and I had an average heart rate of 163 and a maximum heart rate of 185! I cannot remember when I had 185 bpm on a bike! It was crazy! Also from a power perspective this race was quite interesting. I spent 48 % in “active recovery” (24:06 min), i.e. from 0-195 watts due to coasting, and 23 % in the neuromascular zone (11:15 min), i.e. from 534-MAX. The remaining 29 % were evenly distributed over the remaining zones in between these two extremes. Here is a nice visualization of the work done:

The winner of the race Dan Wood (ERTC), actually crashed and had some intense road rash on his right thigh and shoulder. After he crashed (~6 laps to go), he managed to get back and win the race! This was pretty impressive!

The next morning at 9 am we started for our 127 km ride and the weather was quite windy but beautiful. At about 10 km into the race there was an attack, initiated by Josh I believe, and a few other riders and me followed. This was when I felt that my legs were still torched up from the crit the night before. We eventually got caught and I was afraid I won’t play a big role today since my legs felt pretty empty. After about 10 more kilometres, Josh launched another attack while we were having cross-winds. The attack was perfectly set and again, a few other riders and me were back in the break. We really were working very hard together for the first kilometres and then managed to find a rhythm that worked for everyone in the break. It was great riding with these guys and we were increasing our lead. At some point we also collected a Velocity guy, who took off sometime after our first attack and stayed away till then. He managed to hang on when we were passing him and also started working with us. At the turnaround we could see our gap and it was quite impressive! Our group got motivated right away and sped up again. With about 30 km to go, quite a few hard attacks were launched just for 100 metres or so to shake off people. And guess what, Dan Wood, the guy who left quite some skin on Athabasca Ave in Devon was attacking and eventually made it first into the finish! What a performance! When he was off the front, more short attacks were launched and we kept on losing people until it was only Josh, me and Brian from Velocity. At that point my tank was pretty empty and I switched into damage control mode. During the last 2 km we were going quite slow since no one wanted to start sprinting too early. I took a look behind me and could see the pack was getting closer. This time though, they wouldn’t get us. In the end Brian had the best legs of the three of us, and Josh and I tied for 3rd place (on the results), although he actually won (see picture below).

In case you are interested here is another picture below of how different a criterium looks like when compared to a road race:

 In conclusion an amazing weekend of road racing!!



P.S. Thanks to Sanja for feeding me, and to Corey from ERTC for giving Sanja a ride to the feed zones and back since the feed zone were 35 km away from the start!

Race Report: Clarence Rockland Classic 2012

Report by: John

The first real bike race of the season for the FRT out here in Ontario took place last Sunday, April 15th, with the 3rd annual running of the Clarence Rockland Classic, put on by the Ride with Rendall cycling club.

One of several gravel sections

The race (along with the Ottawa Valley “Paris-Roubaix” which takes place in about a week) plays homage to the northern classics of Europe, with the parcours serving up equal doses of pavement and nasty gravel sections.  And for you Albertans reading this… I don’t mean nice, cuddly smoothed-by-the-passage-of-glaciers Alberta style gravel .. I mean big, sharp and nasty crushed-rock gravel.

About 150 racers lined up Sunday morning for the 86-odd km loop.  I got off to a decent start, comfortably in the main group… Much better than last year when I was chasing the back of the peleton within the first 5 or 10 km.

A couple of attacks went off the front in the first half of the race, but no real breaks managed to get away for long.  The group seemed to slowly thin through a slow war of attrition, with riders either falling off the back through rough gravel sections, or by virtue of one (or more) flat tires.

Alas, this was to be my fate at around the 45 km mark or so, when my front tire punctured.  My time at the front of the race was over, and I rushed to replace the tube and hopefully hook-up with someone (and not be forced to solo the rest of the race).

The FRT colours hanging near the back of the front group

About 6 or 7 minutes later (I really gotta practice changing a tube) I was back on the road, by my estimate about a minute behind a fairly sizable group.  I hooked up with a couple of other guys who had also flatted, and we worked to hard to make contact with the group ahead.  Unluckily for one of the guys, he flatted again just as we reached them.

After the hard effort of chasing, I hung in the group to recover for quiet a while.  With about 15 km to go, I took my turn on the front, and was surprised that I had opened a bit of a gap on the group, which has thinned by about half.  I decided what the hell, and decided to soilder on.

After a couple of minutes, 4 guys came past at speed, chasing back from, I am sure, flats of their own.  I managed to get on a wheel, and hammered to keep pace.  It was all I could do to keep up, and with less than 5 km to go I slipped off the pace, leaving me to solo in the last bit.

All in all, I was really happy with the race.  This was the first time I had really spent any sizable amount of time at the front of the race.  I guess we will see in another week whether this was a fluke… or if ever other racer in Ottawa somehow got fat and slow over the winter (cause I am pretty sure I haven’t gotten any faster).

I can’t figure out how to make the Strava plugin work on the blog (yet) so click here if you want to see geeky details.