Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don Ride With Dave

We set out unsure how much of the Don would be rideable. I made the bonehead move of saying that things looked perfect in the 1st 30 seconds of riding after which we were greeted with one kilo of treacherous, but mostly rollabe ice. Trails were mostly rideable though and we made the most of it, getting a solid 2 hours in. Including some excellent goofing off in front of my excellent new Powershot.







Thanks for the videography Dave! Hope the winter stays this nice because today was perfect.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Back in the day.....



Can you please retro these Nike? Maybe with soles that don't crack monthly?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Less than a dream

This winter I decided I was going to get semi-serious about racing mountain bikes. So much so that I decided to read Joe Friel's Mountain Bike Training Bible. So I hammered through it, and completely ignored the huge training grids he had created for the reader to fill out so that they would have an idea of the course of the upcoming season. The blanks to fill in consisted of things like ride lengths and intensities, weekly hours alotted to training, and races prioritized by letter grades.

Sorry, Mr. Friel, but I just don't roll like that. I work in a bike shop and those weeks you want me on the bike for 20 hours, I am going to be working 50. I know from previous experience that more than a couple of consecutive weeks of that will lead to burnout and/or illness, both of which I wanted terribly to avoid this summer. This is not to say that the book was a let down by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, one paragraph in particular set the tone for my entire season. At the beginning of 2008, a few weeks into a tobacco detox, I was all too happy to talk about my plans to destroy the expert field, but even I wasn't sure whether or not I was joking. I was confident in my potential but not my abilities. I did a couple of races and then flamed out, getting sick a month into the season and essentially shutting it down in early June. But I did a few cyclocross races in the fall and a late season MTB event that had me feeling good about my riding and reading this book feeling introspective when I came upon this:

"It's good to think big at this stage, but don't confuse goals with dreams. Athletes often dream about what they want to accomplish-a win at nationals, turning pro or some other lofty vision. That's good for your future in the sport. Tall dreams keep us going and help give all the hours spent riding a greater meaning. Everyone needs dreams, and they can become realities given enough smart and hard training. But dreams aren't goals. Dreams are so big that they take longer than one season to accomplish. If it's far fetched to believe your wish can be achieved this season, it's not a goal but rather a dream." (pg 86)


It really struck me at this point, that I had never really been sure enough of my abilities (in either a positive or negative way) to try to set REASONABLE and ATTAINABLE racing goals. I would always think of where I could or should be in the standings, literally visualizing my name at the top of the expert results (often times while smoking cigarettes on my porch) without having any concept of how fast I would need to ride to win a race, let alone how long it would take me to get that fast. So my dreams remained dreams, and every race result was a relative success and failure. Until I took Friel's advice, and carefully set goals and put them in writing. The following is from an email dated Jan. 7 and was preceded by the paragraph I just quoted above:

Mr. Friel calls for a few major goals to be set according to the following principles:
1)The goal must be measurable
2)The goal must be under your control
3)The goal must stretch you
4)The goal should be stated in the positive

At this point I should probably set a few goals for you now, according to these principles, and in order of my biggest races, as the author suggests.

1) Crank the Sheild. If all goes to plan, and I race the Two Person category with Matt Prosser on a singlespeed my goals are as follows:
(Assuming a similar level of competition in 09 all the following statements should be true)
-Have a time faster than any SS solo competitor
-Have a time competitive with winner in 2-person under 80
-Have a time within the top 10 solo male
-All of the above equate to under a 20% time gap on the leaders, but I would be ecstatic with under 15%
-Understand that either myself or my partner WILL be a limiting factor for some or all of the race, and realize that racing within those constraints will probably be our greatest challenge/victory. Exploit the other's strengths and camouflage their weaknesses.

2) Ontario cup overall. Last season I had a serious truancy problem. I would like to rectify that, but especially after 2008 I feel like attending all 7 may be a stretch. So I would like to attend 5 ocup races, and (finally) race both SS and expert in 2 of those races. I will not upgrade to Elite unless forced. I would like to receive at least 95 upgrade points at three Ocups (SS or Expert) that I finish, and over 90 at the rest. Without any races to drop I would like to end up with >80 ocup points by the end of the season assuming 5 finishes.

3) There is not one race to me that stands out as an important third, not enough to set a goal, so I will choose the HH Canada Cup. I will commit NOW to racing SS and Expert at this specific event (and Buckwallow too, I guess, nothing else really makes sense). This race also provides a great opportunity as a "peak", to have myself race through the first two Ocups without expecting a top result, and seeing what effect this may have on my psyche/fitness. Hopefully my overall feeling/fatigue levels should give me an idea of how hard to go before CTS.


Well, off the bat, forget about #3. I realized pretty quickly after 2 expert races that I was in no shape or position to race 2 Ontario Cup races within hours of each other. This was reinforced at Hardwood (where I planned to do it) when Peter Glassford, the only other guy to ever attempt the feat (and WAY fitter than myself) talked about puking his guts out when he attempted the double header in 2007. (as an aside, right after he related this story to me, I retorted with "Yeah, I know Glassford did both races a couple of years ago" to which he responded "I am Peter Glassford", causing some moderate embarassment to myself)

But let me break down #1, Crank the Shield here, because it is pretty freaky:
-Have a time faster than any SS solo competitor
Matt and I were 1m35s (over 12.5 hours) ahead of SS winner Jamie Davies at the end of CTS. He had some bike trouble day 1 that cost him time but I will take it!
-Have a time competitive with winner in 2-person under 80
Was an hour back competitive? I don't know, but we were in close range on day 3 so I will give us a conditional pass.
-Have a time within the top 10 solo male
There were precisely 9 solo men with a time faster than ours.
-All of the above equate to under a 20% time gap on the leaders, but I would be ecstatic with under 15%
We actually made it within 10%, but the level of competition, no offense to the winners, was not as fast as the previous year. That being said, I still think we would have been close to the 15% mark had the top guns showed up.
-Understand that either myself or my partner may WILL be a limiting factor for some or all of the race, and realize that racing within those constraints will probably be our greatest challenge/victory. Exploit the other's strengths and camouflage their weaknesses.
This one we played perfectly. We never lost patience with each other, always tried to keep the other calm, and knew when to work and when to rest, and managed to use a course over unknown terrain to our advantage. This race went exactly as scripted.

As for #2, the Ontario Cup season:

-I would like to attend 5 ocup races
I actually made it to 6!
-race both SS and expert in 2 of those races
Fail, but I already justified that one
-I will not upgrade to Elite unless forced
That wasn't hard
-I would like to receive at least 95 upgrade points at three Ocups (SS or Expert) that I finish, and over 90 at the rest
I never hit 95, but was over 90 at 4 of the 6 races, and I believe that even the expert race winner only broke 95 at 2 of the 7 races. Semi-pass.
-Without any races to drop I would like to end up with over 80 ocup points by the end of the season assuming 5 finishes
This is my favourite. With a drop (best 5/6) I had 97 points. Assuming I only had 5 races and omitting one of my two 2nd place results, I have 90 points. It would appear that I exceeded my goal. BUT, if you adjust for the 3 racers who upgraded mid-season (i.e. assume they would have beat me in expert class, because they would have) those 90 points turn to 79, and the 97 points turn into 83. Right on the money.

So what does it all mean? It means that because I was for once totally honest with myself about what I really wanted out of this race season in terms of results, I can look back and consider it a success, rather than wondering what could have been. And I have another 3 months before considering my goals for next season, when I'll be aiming my sights a little higher and hoping for a similar level of accuracy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A perfect storm

I have been putting a fair amount of effort into avoiding the news for the past few days. I was moderately interested in the facts emerging in the Sheppard case that I will henceforth refer to as "The Shitstorm". But halfway through the day on Tuesday, when a reporter called my work looking for my coworker who had written something on facebook to the effect of "RIP Al", I realized that the media circus was just that, and that nothing good was going to come of reading any articles whose contents were researched with only slightly more diligence than the ignorant reader comments that inevitably follow.

The courier was drunk.

Bryant is an asshole.

I couldn't really give a fuck.

God damn it, why couldn't it have been a 60 year-old commuter and a middle aged woman who killed him? You know, like that guy who was doored into traffic last year with little or no fanfare? Or a 15 year-old kid and an old chinese lady, like the woman killed by the sidewalk cyclist? Why couldn't both parties involved just be non-descript residents of the city of Toronto, so that The Shitstorm could remain in some way, shape or form about the events that transpired instead of sensationalized headlines to sell papers and polarize the community?

Could The Shitstorm be any more perfect, really? Rich, powerful, public figure driving a car vs. broke, marginalized, slave-wage-earner riding a bike, and for this reason we will forever more be arguing who the real victim was. This is not about cyclists and drivers. This is not about the proletariat and the bourgoisie. This is not about the celebrity and the anonymous. This is about the rules of engagement.

And unlike fight club, there is only one rule. There are no rules.

Urban cyclists, especially courier types (I include myself under this umbrella), seem to pride themselves on their ability to ride defensively and expect the unexpected, because cars do not behave in a predictable manner. However the last statement is not entirely accurate because cars do not behave in any manner at all, it is their human pilots that are unpredictable. And to think that a driver (or cyclist for that matter) will behave any more predictably or rationally when engaged in an argument is a dangerous proposition indeed.

Perhaps I have less sympathy for Sheppard than the average cyclist, having found myself being beaten by a group of five or so men two months ago, half a block from the spot where he was killed, as a result of my own need to escalate an argument with a jaywalking pedestrian. I fucked with the wrong guy, and I paid for it.

And I cannot help but think that Sheppard's last thought, having no idea who Michael Bryant was, the position of power he held, or the ease with which he will likely escape any consequence for his actions, was much the same: I fucked with the wrong guy.

So please, let's just not fuck with each other at all. It isn't worth it. That Michael Douglas Falling Down glamourized hollywood confrontation you have in your head where you show the motorist who's boss isn't going to happen (in real life fights are a lot less noisy and a lot more painful). And if it does, and ends in your favour, you are probably going to jail.

So let it go.

Please just let it go.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bruno: feminine or feminist?

Sometime around 1994 a movie called Pulp Fiction came out. My friend told me all about it. His dad said it was one of the best films he'd ever seen, but yet would not let his son, my friend, see the movie. Now, I am not arguing that Pulp Fiction is appropriate for an 11 year old, what with all the violence and drug use. But oddly enough, I do remember this friend talking about watching and loving 'True Romance', which is arguably even more violent than Pulp Fiction. So what gives? After seeing the movie a year or so later, and pondering the double standard for the past 15 years, I am pretty sure that a certain scene involving a psycopathic, S&M loving antique store owner, a couple of ball-gags, and gay-rape was probably what swung the balance.

I reference this now, because we seem to have come a LONG way in those past 15 years, when it comes to accepting graphic images and ideas in mainstream media. And if you can't find anything shocking (which is still a constantly changing variable) on TV or in the movies, well, they are just a google search away. Which is why I was kind of surprised that I was genuinely shocked by what I saw Sacha Baron Cohen get away with on the big screen yesterday. I was not totally sure what to expect going in, as I had heard it mostly referred to as worse than Borat (which I wasn't a huge fan of), but far more explicit.....which I found hard to believe. (but which was proven very much correct within the opening minutes of the film) This is not supposed to be a conventional review, but I will say that I laughed quite a bit, was happily aghast when I wasn't laughing, but would not necessarily recommend anyone else go see this film, even though I didn't regret spending my $10 on it.

However, the most important thing that I took from the film was not the shock-value of the images, or the prevalence of homophobia in middle America, or its culture of celebrity worship; we didn't need Cohen to bring any of that to our attention. Instead, I think that Bruno bends gender roles in a very clever way, and I think it is as much a commentary of the treatment of women in the media and in general, than it is about homophobia or gay culture. I had an inkling of this before I even saw the movie, when discussing the gigantic Bruno billboard at Yonge and Davenport (gone now) with my girlfriend and sister. Michelle said it was disturbing, and while I think that's a strong word I kinda had to agree. When I saw it for the first time I did a bit of a double-take.....but why? Because it is so engrained in collective (media) consciousness by now that the person in that image, dressed, styled and airbrushed that way, should be a woman. I mean, if Bruno was a woman, could the image be considered shocking or provocative? Yeah, maybe. 50 years ago.

WARNING SPOILERS (not spoiling much)

I found that a similar vein did run through the movie, with a number of scenes seeming totally absurd, not because Bruno is a flaming homosexual, but because he is a man (not a woman). The self-defence class was an excellent example. Enrolling because it seemed a straight thing to do (be tough), it is immediately given a gay sexual context. "What happens if a man runs at me with a dildo? 2 dildos? 3 dildos?" And we watch on as this grey haired caucasian martial arts instructor disarms Bruno of his ridiculous array of sex toys, and laugh because it is so outlandish. But isn't the biggest, if not only, reason that women take self-defense classes to protect themselves from sexual predators? The concept seems perverse only because it is a male figure that is expecting or anticipating a sexual assault, an entirely normal risk for a woman.

As Bruno is accosted by a naked blond woman attempting to fuck him and whipping him violently with his belt at a swingers party, gender conventions are again tipped on their sides as he resists, "Can't we do this properly, I'll sit down and talk to your father?" before escaping through the window and running into the darkness. Again the situation seems ludicrous, even humorous, but if we were to reverse the male and female roles the behavior would be viewed as appalling and even criminal. And while there are other examples of this in the film, none bears mentioning moreso than the final cage match scene ending in a near naked gay make out session and a near riot. The true shock and emotion on the faces of the drunken redneck audience are priceless as the grappling male wrestlers suddenly kiss. Need I say more?

The other half of the equation is Bruno making hetero males uncomfortable using his own overbearing gay sexuality, and it is interesting that most of these scenes did not draw laughs, but produced totally awkward silences (on screen and in the theater). Here now we have not gay man as woman (funny), but straight man as woman, and neither the subjects in the film nor audience knew quite how to react to it. And I feel like this is sort of the root of it all, the ground zero of homophobia; if we as men can keep down gays, we will never have to worry like a woman worries. Even if that worry does not extend so far as rape or assault, even if it remains at the level of leers or catcalls from unwanted suitors, it is something that we are not equipped to deal with systemically, and I think that is why this movie has alienated much of its audience. It was a lot easier to deal with "the other" in Borat when the caricature was one of a far away land. It is a different story when the caricature could very well be one of the repressed sexuality of both the subjects in the film and its viewers.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I smoked a cigarette last night

His name was Ian McLean. I have no idea what the infraction was anymore, as I was 10 years old at the time, but I was determined to fight him. The fact that he was a year older than me, and one of the larger kids at my elementary school didn't really seem to phase me at the time. When I told my dad about the plan, rather than trying to stop me explicitly, he simply stated the obvious: "Andrew, if you are going to get into a fight, you better be sure you are going to win. And if you aren't, be prepared to deal with the consequences."

Based on his sage advice, I never did fight Ian McLean. And though I am not usually full of machismo, the few times I had come close to any physical confrontation I have invoked his logic and come to the conclusion that it is probably not worth it. So it was with that mindset that I managed to go through almost 27 years on this planet without having the shit kicked out of me.

I didn't really expect it to happen the way it did. Michelle and I were riding home from a movie last night on Bloor by the ROM, when some guy stepped way out onto the road directly in my path. I passed by him pretty close, so close in fact that he chose to hit me in the face with the water gun he was holding. (For clarification, he did not squirt me with it, he hit me with the actual gun) I stopped, and he told me to watch where I was going, which I found slightly ludicrous given the scenario. Things get a little bit blurry at this point, but when I actually got off of my bike he bolted down an alleyway. I gave chase for a few steps. This was probably my first mistake, as it got my adrenaline pumping which led directly to mistake number two.

Mistake number two happened after realizing that I was probably not going to catch the guy as he ran down the alley. I did, however, have my heavy steel U-lock in my hand that I figured I could propel faster than my legs could propel my body. So I let it fly, and despite evasive tactics by the perpetrator, it hit him in the middle of the back. I was totally satisfied by my aim and arm at this point, but it was short lived as I realized that the group of 3 or 4 guys he was running by were his friends. And they were not impressed.

Mistake number three, was the assumption that when this guy's friends started walking/running toward me, it was because they wanted to discuss the matter. There was unfortunately no discussion, simply a unilateral decision by the group to take me down and start punching and kicking my face as my girlfriend attempted to separate us screaming and horrified. This was actually good, because I couldn't get a word in edgewise (what with all the face shots and everything), and she drew attention and witnesses to the scene which probably shortened the duration of my ordeal. Once the group realized there was a crowd watching they took off down the alleyway running, and I got up, swaying and wondering quite justifiably what the fuck just happened. The whole scenario, start to finish, probably didn't take more than 60 seconds.

One of the bystanders went into a restaurant to get me some ice, and despite my protestations that I was fine (undermined by the gigantic goose egg on my left orbital) Michelle made me lock up our bikes and we hopped into a cab and went to Mt. Sinai. I was still a little dazed, couldn't remember the date or the events that just transpired very clearly, but my memory started coming back pretty quickly leading me to believe this was minor compared to the last time I concussed myself 13 years ago. Called the police, called my parents, called some co-workers to let them know that I would be in the next morning. Talked to the police, who told me that I probably shouldn't file a report as I could be charged with assault for hurling my lock at the guy. Which was just as well, because I could not remember what any of them looked like anyway, and I was just happy to escape with the same number of teeth I went in with. Nonetheless the cops were helpful, and soon my poor parents showed up as well. [I wonder which phone call they preferred, this one "I'm at Sinai I just had the shit kicked out of me" or the previous concussion "I'm at Shaun's I don't know what happened but you should probably take me to a hospital")

So, we all hung out in the hospital for a couple of hours. The doctor came, basically told me I was fine, saw the scrapes on my knee and suggested a tetanus shot. Got my shot and the concussion info sheet and that was it. At a little after 3 in the morning, my parents drove us to our locked bikes, then followed us (Tour de France support car style) on our short ride to Mich's house. When we got back we were hungry, so we went to the 24 hr supermarket by her house to get some food. I also confided in her that I really wanted a cigarette. Well, I didn't really want it so much as I felt the situation warranted her understanding of my smoking a cigarette, and I wasn't sure how long it would be until another such situation would present itself (hopefully a very long time). So I managed to bum one off of the very drunk girl at Food Depot, and we commiserated for a moment (she had been accidentally locked out of her house), she called Michelle sweet for standing by me with a swollen face, and we soon hit the hay (at 4am) after I ate half a sandwich with much jaw pain.

When we were in the ER waiting room earlier I told Michelle that I was kind of relieved to have got that over with; I believe getting the shit kicked out of me was/is valuable life experience. I know it happened to my roommate a few years ago and it was definitely catalyst for changes in his own life. Mich sorta looked at me like I was a concussed idiot (which I was), but even now, the next day with a stiff jaw and headache I still see value in last night's events. I remember probably 10 years ago reading an interview in Strength magazine with skateboarder Stevie Williams who hailed from a rough area of Philadelphia, and they asked him what it meant to be tough. I am paraphrasing, but his answer was along the lines of "If you want to be tough you have to get beat the fuck up". I know random skateboard pros are not necessarily a fountain of wisdom, but I gave that statement a lot of weight. (Note that he did not say you have to FIGHT to be tough, rather you have to LOSE a fight to be tough) I was afraid that I would never be tough by Stevie's definition, and I still don't know that I am. But I know now what it is like, to feel pain and be powerless, at the mercy of the merciless. And I know that I only know it on a very small scale, that what I went through was probably a cakewalk compared to what happens to a lot of people systemically.

I have also now felt the consequences that my dad referred to 17-odd years ago. And the consequence of those consequences? I'll never be sure I can win a fight again.

Thanks Mom, Dad and Michelle for being with me last night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Did that just happen?

When I was 17, my friend and I went to a concert. We were waiting in line, and may or may not have ingested hallucinogenic fungus earlier. Either way we felt kinda funny.

So anyway, we are waiting in line forever, because that is just how things go down at the Reverb, and we are feelin' kinda funny, and we hear this kinda crazy dull roar. We were BOTH hearing it, and we figured it was odd that we would both be hallucinating the same thing. So this dull roar gets a little louder, and suddenly a half dozen cop cars pull out of nowhere and shut down the intersection. WHOA! "WTF is going on?" we are asking ourselves/each other verbally/telepathically (in hindsight I cannot be quite sure which). Within minutes, a 'Take back the night' rally marches through, replete with women wielding megaphones dancing on the bed of a slow moving pick-up truck. Before we knew it the march was past us, the cop cars pulled away, and it was business as usual. We looked at each other, and whether or not we actually verbalized it, we definitely asked, "Did that just happen?"

I had another one of those experiences on Tuesday. I was going for a ride, but had to fuel up first so I hit my favourite spot on the way to the trails, a Timmy's walk up window at the Danforth/Coxwell Shoppers. I like it mostly because I don't have to lock or fret over my bike, nor do I have to walk around a "normal" establishment in spandex (not that it really bothers me, it is more for the consideration of others). Also, for whatever reason, consuming a single cinammon raisin bagel with butter seems to give me boundless energy, not bad for $1.05.

So I place my order with what must be "the new girl". I have to repeat what I want a bunch of times, and she still gets it wrong, and her co-workers are kinda snickering and enjoying the show. I didn't really mind, as I have gotten far worse service where the employee decides to complete several non-time-sensitive tasks before taking the 4 seconds required to pour my coffee. So I was calmly walking her through her own incompetence with a smile, when one of the senior staff there, a middle aged south-Asian lady, came up to the window and took a glance downward.

"Cute bike"

"Oh, thanks" It is good to know that even middle-aged female timmy's employees can appreciate the beauty of the singlespeed Superfly I was still straddling, although I probably would have called it more "stealth" or maybe "trick".

Then, with another long downward leer "Looks yummy" Ummmmmmmm, I can see how it might be cute, but I wouldn't consider it edible.......

"Very yummy"

HOLY FUCK THE TIMMY'S LADY IS BLATANTLY SEXUALLY HARASSING ME........AWESOME!

And just like that my bagel was ready and the next customer was being served incompetently.

I rode away with a huge grin and could not help but wonder, once again, "Did that just happen?"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fun Fact

Between post ride rehydration/Indian buffet, I put on 6.5lbs in ~3hrs on Friday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jitters

Coffee,
Oatmeal,
Washing dishes,
Blogging,
Checking and
Rechecking things
That never needed checking
In the 1st place,
Are some of the things I am doing
To kill time right now

Thursday, April 30, 2009

PAIN BY NUMBERS

I remember an episode of the X-Files long ago where Mulder is poring over an old baseball box score. Scully walks in and asks him what he is doing, and he waxes poetic about his ability to visualize the entire game purely through the information drawn from the numbers on the paper, and feel the energy and excitement of the action. While probably exaggerated, and likely derivative of some other baseball cliche I am unaware of, the basic tenet of his talk with Scully probably holds true for most MTB racers checking their results. Knowing only that I placed 4th at Mansfield is like knowing only the outcome of a baseball game; it does not account for the score or the people behind the home-runs and no-hitters. It lacks specific information, which bicycle racers, probably far more so than baseball fans, desperately crave. Which is why I checked the OCA website at 5 minute intervals for the 18 hours it took them to post the results. I need the context and the raw data so that I can (over)analyze every single facet of my riding that day, even though virtually none of it has any value moving into the future.

I entered my first ever bike race at the age of 13 (about the same time that X-Files episode aired). It was late April 1996, and I was recovering from a case of strep throat at the time. My mom did not want me to race but I would not be deterred! (The same way I wasn`t deterred at the end of that season wanting to race a week after concussing myself, but that is another story all together) What I found after competing in this event was that there were seven people faster than me in the 13-14 age category that day. They were (and I swear I am doing this from memory, though I have looked back at those results in the past year): 1. Michael Hendricken 2. Sean Thrush 3. Derek Thomas 4. Tristan Galbraith 5. Ryan Schonauer 6. Taylor Martin 7. Shaun something (?) (may be reversed with #6). The point of this exercise is not only to display my memory's incredible capacity for entirely useless knowledge (which is pretty intense) but to illustrate a greater point about the racer's tendency to STUDY and OBSESS over their results and those of their competition. Had you asked me a week after the race exactly what the time gaps were that day I probably could have told you to the second. I thought I was alone in this phenomenon, having always been a pretty big nerd who likes to lose myself in insignificant thought. And though I may obsess harder than everybody else, I am fairly certain all of these years later that everybody else has been obsessing. This point was hit home today when my co-worker Simon (who hasn't raced at all in some time, but was my competitor in 96) said he was checking my Mansfield results. "What hapenned on your last lap? Looks like you really lost it....."

YES! I totally lost it. But I was so overcome with joy that all of these years later Simon still has the knack of STUDYING results, that I didn't mind explaining once again that my endurance sucks and I didn't even really put up a fight for a podium position. But I really needn't have explained myself in the first place, because Simon had already figured it out, plain as day: Lap1 25m, Lap4 29m. And in hindsight, it is very easy to look back and say "Dammit! Why did I not go faster on lap 4? Am I some kind of apathetic loser or something?" And the guys who I beat who had consistent 28m laps are thinking to themselves the same thing about lap 1. But is it really so easy to dissect our own performances and those of our competitors simply by looking at lap times and splits?

Probably not. (This is why Garmin and Powertap are in business) But the results allow us to relive the race, and eagerly anticipate the next one with even greater fervor, because the numbers in the results do not account for PAIN. There is an excellent chance that the last place beginner racer hurt as much or moreso than the top pro for their time between the tape. I know that I certainly FELT like I was literally killing myself in my first couple of years racing as a 14/15 year old (concepts like 'pacing' and 'riding smart' do not appeal to competitive adolescent boys), and even in my first sport class races in my early 20s. (Sport class behavior approximates that of adolescent boys pretty closely) And since time and distance cannot in themselves tell the story of each individual's suffering, we can always comfort ourselves with the possibility that, in spite of our results, we went out there and TRIED harder than everybody else. Because all those other suckers in front of you (or me), they probably have years more experience, or superior genetics, or a more expensive bike, or a cheaper bike and better mechanic, or time to train, or pre-rode the course, or any other variable that would allow them to out perform us. But dammit, there is no goddam way that they went out and raced as HARD as we did! Their legs and lungs didn't BURN like ours. If they had any idea what it felt like to SUFFER like we did surely they would tuck their tails between their legs and shamefully walk away from the sport for good. And maybe, just maybe, if we stare at that matrix of lap times hard enough, we will some how find the wherewithal to suffer just a bit harder next weekend and reel that sandbagger in.

That is why I compulsively check for results.

And that is why I'll be back next weekend.

Andrew

"I've been first, and I've been last,
Look at how the time goes past,
Now I'm all alone at last,
Rolling home to you"
-Neil Young

Saturday, April 25, 2009

COINCIDENCE?!?

So the first big race of the season is coming up tomorrow, which being almost midnight, is pretty much today, and I should be asleep. BUT....the race is at MANSFIELD

The brand of toilet at the restaurant I took my girlfriend to for her birthday on weds......MANSFIELD

The town where my roommate's new shoes were shipped from? (I just saw the box in our recycle pile)........MANSFIELD, Ohio.

Now, when unbridled irrational superstition is applied to these two incredibly pedestrian happenstances they can only lead me to one SHOCKING final conclusion........

The first big race of the season.........


Will STILL be held at MANSFIELD!

See y'all tomorrow.

Andrew

Friday, April 17, 2009

Century Sam

I had been eye-balling the route for well over a month. I hadn't done any big long rides in about that time, either. So with my day-off corresponding with predicted 20 degree temps, it seemed only natural. I was chatting with Zef last night and he indicated interest in a long road ride, too. I decided to spare him though, as his "I should be good for 100km" did not inspire my confidence. I wasn't planning on riding a century in metric form.

Even though I slept in a little (to a blissful 9:30, instead of this recent 6:30 nonsense) I had pretty much made up my mind I was going to do it. I ate my big-ride-breakfast; two eggs, two hash browns, two pieces toast w/jam, and two cups of coffee. I scoured satellite maps trying to determine the best route, then memorizing, "gore-oldchurch-airport-walker-mountainview-grange-mclaughlin-forks-miss-steeles-heritage-creditview-bristol-queen-lakeshore". I figured out how to 'pack light', knowing my back would not take well to excess weight (read: courier bag) for 100 miles. End list: 3 bottles (2 sports drink 1 water), 2 bananas, gel in flask, 2 tubes, 1 tire, multitool, chain tool, wallet, camera, and house keys only. Managed to fit all of it on the bike and in my jersey pockets (without too much sagging). Got on the road at 11:32. Stopped at Yonge/Belmont about 15 mins in as my spare tire needed to be restrapped to my seat, and I took the opportunity to raise my seat a little as well. Then back on the road to escape the city.

I wanted to be at Albion and Steeles in an hour, but I fell a little short taking about 1:15 including my break. I blame traffic lights and wind. After getting on to sweet country roads though, my list of excuses was cut in half, but god was the wind ever awful. I had checked the weather and I was supposed to be getting a 20km/h W wind. This however, was blowing right in my face at what felt like a far more offensive speed. I will probably never know how fast it was actually blowing, but I got to turn off after 23k of that crap (55 in total) at 2 hours total ride time.

This is when the ride got amazing. Yes I was gassed from fighting wind for over an hour and still maintaining a, hmmmm, not decent, but not embarassing speed. But I turned on to Old Church road and realized that I was on pretty much the prototypical amazing road to ride on, the type that they shoot bike catalog pictures on. There were even signs imploring drivers to share the road with cyclists. The terrain was rolling and occassionally twisty, there were more motorbikes on the road than cars, the temperature was perfect and, HEY! Is that a turtle? Yes there was even a turtle crossing the road, so I stopped, took a picture, and safely deposited him on the other side. (Note after relating this story to my GF she quite reasonably asks "where the hell were you riding that there were turtles crossing the road?")

After turning north off of OC I started to feel some lactic twinges in my legs, probably not a good thing with the steepest hill yet coming up shortly, but I was looking forward to a break at the top and the ensuing ride down Mississauga Rd with a headwind. Turns out the switchbacks were managable without dropping to my lowest gear, which was a nice surprise. Also, the little town at the top of the hill was jam packed with motorcyclists, which was also a bit of a surprise. Rather than sticking around and tainting the leather festival with lycra, I just kept on riding right down the road, with about one bottle left and knowing it would be about 40km to any semblance of civilization. I was also pretty sure it was generally downhill and there was the tailwind.

I got going, with the three hour mark of the ride passing with Grange Sideroad. I was a little disappointed, actually, feeling quite a bit of wind in my face. Where was the tailwind that I had worked so hard for on the way up? I got the answer on a bit of steep-ish downhill when I went for a harder gear and my shifter was broken. Wait, the shifter was fine, I had just run out of gears! This does not normally happen. That "headwind" was actually just me outriding the tailwind and man did it feel good! Even after stopping for a light or two and eating a banana on the fly, after doing some math (no bike computer, only google maps, watch, and landmarks) it would appear I was averaging about 50km/h for over 20 mins.

Of course it had to end sometime, and some construction forshadowed re-entry to suburban-industrial hell. Which actually wasn't that bad, as I had planned the route to avoid freeway interchanges and use some (judging from the map) quieter streets. The detour was actually really nice, all (marked) bike friendly, and spitting me back out on Mississauga Rd. for a tour of the high-rent district. I was really feeling blown at this point so I had the other banana and tried rationing the remaining bottle the best I could. Got down to Lakeshore and ground across, feeling on edge but still unable to resist challenging the pedestrian signal countdowns. I was planning on taking the bike path, but realized it would be more of an obstacle-course than thoroughfare after crossing the Humber, so I hopped on the Queensway and took the most direct route home. Getting to Parliament I started feeling really happy to know it was ALMOST over, and that even a catastrophic mechanical now would be no worse than a $10 cab ride home.

I headed up Broadview to KaKa Lucky, for the most food you could ever hope to buy for $4.50, then to the Better Price Food Market (yes, two Chinese establishments with incredibly entertaining names) for some chocolate milk and then home. Rolled up at 5:10pm, 5:38 ride time including stops. That is pretty much what I was hoping for. Moreover, 5h10m in the saddle without stopping (except for lights and turtle), which was from my seat adjustment to Chinatown dinner. It was definitely the furthest I had ever ridden in one shot and I am ecstatic that I pushed myself to do it, and have pushed myself hard enough this year to be in shape to ride that long at that pace without exploding on the side of the road.

-After mapping it, I realized that I was actually 600 metres short of 160km (100miles)! Oh well there is always next time.

-Also, for those interested in that kinda thing, after consuming the food and liquid I had with me (~4-5lbs), and drinking 2 cups of water after getting home, I had still lost 6lbs during the ride.

-Courtesy from pretty much everyone on the road. It is amazing how much space cars give you when you don't ride unnecessarily far from the edge of the road!

MAP

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I have come so far

I remember being 12-13 years old and going to the Beaches Cyclery at Queen and Woodbine with my friend Mike. We were both total newbs at the time, but loved riding and as race results would show over the next few years, we were also pretty quick for our age.

I guess we went in one time with muddy bikes or something, and the mechanic/only guy working there at the time just went off on us, repeatedly referring to us as "mudsuckers" and telling us how he would drop us on the trails on his fixed gear bike. As a matter of fact, this was the 1st instance of contemptuous FG rider behavior I ever experienced (this guy was well over a decade ahead of the curve).

Well, grumpy Beaches Cyclery mechanic from 1995, I can totally see where you were coming from now. Except now the equipment obsessed culture of mountain biking (and cycling in general) has even more useless gadgetry with which to enthrall misled youth (and adults for that matter). Hell, even fixed gears are on the bleeding edge of bike-lust right now, instead of being a reaction against it. Assuming your rant was catalyzed by some sort of strong anti-consumerist ethos, then it took a while, but I have come around and can see your point of view. Even while still spending a huge percentage of my take home pay on unnecessary bike related nonsense.

On the other hand, if you were just calling out a couple of 13 year olds for not being as fast as you, then I am calling you out right now. If you are reading this (which you aren't, but if anybody knows the guy wrenching at BC in 1995....) then please accept my challenge to a head-to-head fixed gear race in the Don. I was just in there yesterday on my fixed CX bike killing it, and I am reasonably certain I could drop you, even if your 30s were kind to you and you did not stop riding your bike and gain a few dozen pounds.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thought of the day

Neil Young's 'Old Man' is just as much about the young man realizing he will one day be an old bitter fuck as much as the old man accepting he was once a young idealistic twit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No Such Thing.....

....as a victimless crime.

After working a ridiculously long (but par for the course) 14 hour day setting up for the bike show yesterday, and then enjoying a couple of adult beverages that my boss was kind enough to bring us at the end of the day, I set about riding home. It is about a 10km commute from the Exhibition grounds where the show is held. Not surprisingly, about 15-20 minutes into the ride, nature called. What followed is pretty good empirical evidence that pride cometh before the fall.

I was still far enough away from home, and the emergency dire enough that I sought out a decent place to relieve myself. I soon found a schoolyard, and a suitably dark corner within it to let nature run its course. I frantically removed my gloves and freed my junk from my jeans, long-johns and boxers. About 70% of the way through said pee, a wave of euphoria washed over me, and maybe it was the beer talking, but I specifically thought to myself: "Man, pissing outside is great. I don't even care if somebody walks up behind me right now, this is totally natural and I ain't hurting nobody". This train of thought took me up to about 95% completion. I finished, zipped up, and put my glove back on for the rest of the ride home.


But where was my other glove?

Oh shit.

On the ground. Soaked.

Moral of the story? Always carry around a spare set of gloves and a plastic bag. (Yes I had both on me)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rap and Cycling

My roommate Ace has had a fair amount of influence on my musical tastes in the 9 or so years we have known each other. He has stated unequivocally that Mobb Deep's 'The Infamous' is his favourite rap album of ever, and I would have to agree that is is one of the best. Not only is the production throughout the album top notch, but the lyrics are incredibly eloquent for a bunch of 20 year olds talking mostly about stealing shit, selling drugs and killing people. I had previously had conversations equating the song 'Right Back At You' with the cold war concept of mutually assured destruction. But listening to 'Up North Trip' after work yesterday, I could only think of doping in cycling when listening to Prodigy's final verse. Here it is (transcript from sing365.com):

I got the power, combine wit the powder, and water, it oughtta
Drop in a half an hour, in the, form of oil, watch the cocaine boil
Keep my eye on it so the shit won't spoil, then I pause
And ask God why, did he put me on this earth, just so I could die
I sit back and build on, all the things I did wrong, why I'm still breathing
And all my friends gone, I try not to dwell on the subject for a while
Cause I might get stuck in this corrupt lifestyle, but my
Heart pumps foul blood through my arteries, and I can't turn it back
It's a part of me
, too late for cryin, I'm a grown man struggling
To reach the next level of life, without fumbling, down to folding
I got no shoulder to lean on but my own, all alone in this danger zone
Time waits for no man, the streets grow worse, fuck the whole world kid
My money comes first, cause I'm out for the gusto, and trust nobody

If you're not family, then you die by me, cause niggas will have you
locked up
The snitch, be a man, givin police the run down on your plans
We're never goin down like that, so I, shut my mouth and hold my words back

Illegal business, forever mine, fuck payin taxes, the last kid that shitted
And gave police access, to my blueprints, used names as evidence
Skipped town and I haven't seen the snitch nigga ever since
The moral of the story is easy to figure out, a lesson that you can't
live without

Chorus:

Livin' the high life
Makin' moves at night
Packin' heat in this war zone
Niggas is trife
Runnin' from one time*
Ain't no time to slip
Make one false move and it's an up north trip

*Police, for those without a slang enabled browser

Friday, March 6, 2009

Maiden Voyage

So I finished building a fancy carbon road bike yesterday, after getting a sweet deal on my boss' barely used SRAM Force group. (Yes I know I am supposed to hate SRAM, but I will give them a chance when/if the price is right). The build took place at the shop with said boss drinking beer until almost 2am. I was a little worried that the late night would put a damper on my ride, that I was claiming yesterday would be 200km (knowing full well that wasn't going to happen).

So after my bedtime of almost 3 in the morning, I miraculously awoke just after 8 itching to go. Step 1: coffee. Step 2: food. Step 3: getting all my stuff together because I was NOT gonna bring my bag (yeah I know what have you done with the real Andrew you fancy road bike riding HRM wearing imposter). Yes that is right I even wore my heart rate monitor because I am totally cereal, baby!

Out the door around 10:15. Saw my friend/neighbour Adi on the street right by my house and we rode downtown together. He peeled off and I kept riding, stopping to buy some bananas and fix a loose stem clamp about 15km out from home. Took a pee break at exactly 20km and 1hr after leaving my house at Scarlett and Eglinton. I had a general plan to get to King St. (the one north of the city) and ride it west almost to Georgetown, then cut back down to the lakeshore and back home. This was taking into consideration the SW-erly wind, so that I wasn't going to have to fight it too hard on the home stretch.

I rode up Islington out if the city in Zone Chill, with occasional zone "blinky HRM" tempo thrown in to mix things up. Peeled off in Kleinburg, headed a little east then north again on Kipling. Turned into a dirt road after a few km. Then that other road I had planned on turning off on, was also a dirt road. Good thing I got the new bike cheap enough not to covet it.

So after the northbound haul, it was time to turn west, which I knew was going to hurt....but wow. After heading through Bolton, all I could do was turn back south after a couple of clicks because redlining at 20km/h (on 80km/h roads) is neither safe nor fun. The headwind was equally menacing as a crosswind, but at least I could ride at a respectable speed. As I approached Steeles, I remembered the dirt road I had ridden through Claireville Conservation Area this past summer, and figure since the bike was already dirty, I'd give it a shot. Big mistake.

The road was fine for a while, a little soft with some puddles here and there.....but then I hit the ice flows. Some low land by the river that had flooded, froze, and then heaved apart into thousands of chunks of ice that obscured a few hundred meters of the road. Had it still been cold it would have been okay, but the chunks were small enough that many would break or slip as soon as I set foot on them. 15 minutes and a half kilometre later, I cursed the mud clinging to my bike, ate a banana and hit the road once more. The ride home from there was rather uneventful, all on familiar city roads. I was looking at my watch the whole time and hoping that the ride would tally at least 120km since ride time was over 5 hours door to door. Just barely made it! Taking moving time into account I would say avg speed was about the same as my 4 corners fixy ride but a much windier and slightly hillier route.

OBLIGATORY MAP

Can't wait to hammer the bike again, but without fighting wind, ice or gravel.

And for those who care, my avg HR was probably about 145-150 (my cheap ass HRM might give me that info, but I only got a french owners manual so we will never know).

Also, my camera is still busted. If anybody has an old digi camera (even of dubious quality) they want to sell me real cheap lemme know. Then I can enhance entries like these with blurry pictures of boring inanimate objects.

Friday, February 27, 2009

MAKI HEARTS (all) BIKES

I was checking out Paul Parker's Hello VĂ©lo (http://www.hellovelo.ca/) blog the other day and noticed he had all sorts of pics and videos up of the bikes he is works on. It was all pretty nice stuff. I thought "Hey! Maybe I should document some of what I do on a daily basis and throw it up on the interwebz". But I do not always work on nice stuff. And to be honest working on nice stuff can be kinda boring, sterile, predictable, or incredibly frustrating when its 2nd rate performance belies its astronomical price tag.

So here is the Heap. This bike is probably 25 years old. The frame has already broken once and been rewelded because it has a lot of sentimental value to its owner. It gets ridden every goddamn day. Other wrenches at the shop see this bike and shudder, and to be fair I used to do the same when dealing with this velocipede and others of its ilk. But no more. These daily-drivers and their workhorses share a sacred bond like pets and their owners, and too many bike shops and employees are willing to piss all over that bond in the name of progress.

I called a lady yesterday because she needed a new set of pedals on her bike (which was in similar condition). When I told her I was from the bike shop the first thing she said was "I'm sorry!". Why? Why are you apologizing, I asked. Because over the years she had so many different people at the shop berate her for riding a piece of shit, she was expecting the same treatment. But it is HER piece of shit and she loves it, and she spent the last 14 years slowly and artfully turning it into a piece of shit. I respect that love and I respect that process. So if anybody is willing to put a few hundred bucks into their old klunker, I am no longer going to question it, so long as they know what the limitations of their bike are. Would you tell Lassie's owner to put her down because a new pup is significantly cheaper than surgery, and the dog is 15 years old? No, that is the owner's decision to make, and a difficult one at that.

So have some respect, fellow wrenches.















WINTER HATES BIKES















Thought of the Day

As industrial loft space in large urban centres (pop. >1000000) becomes increasingly unaffordable and less "authentic", hipster decentralization occurs as industrial decay in small cities (pop. 100000-500000) is revamped for mass consumption and sold for prices resembling reasonable.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Snowflake becomes blizzard




I was all set to blog about my experience yesterday at the iCycle race on the ice rink at Dufferin Grove park last night. It was my first time racing in such an event, and I managed to claw my way on to the podium (only because of my fellow competitors got a flat and dropped out after he had lapped me). But then something happened; the after-party which featured a ton of cheap/free beer.

Now, I am no stranger to drinking excessively. It has been over a decade since experiencing my first terrible hangover, courtesy of Goldschlager nicked from my friend's parents' liquor cabinet when the party ran dry. One would think that as a 15 year old, bringing up bile flecked with bits of gold, in terrible pain, unable to eat, drink or hide the obvious root of the problem from my own parents, that I would have learned my lesson. Fire hot, no touch. Pretty simple stuff.

So how is it then, that 11 years and countless hangovers later, I found myself getting out of bed at 10am, praying that my roomie had not yet gotten up to discover the puke on the floor of the dining room that I was fairly certain I had left there the night before? (Luckily he had not, and I did a fantastic job cleaning it up, splitting headache and all, fitting pennance for the excesses of the previous night) What the hell is wrong with me? And why are there so many others like me?

These are all, of course, rhetorical questions. I drank too much after eating too little and exerting myself; had that ratio been tweaked slightly things would have likely played out differently. Putting myself into such a situation was a bad judgement call, but sometime between lying on a piece of cardboard with a bubble wrap pillow at work and writing this much of the blog entry it hit me; I got hungover because I drank too much, but I did not drink too much because I wanted to be drunker. There were no self-esteem issues at play here as there were in the past. The beer was not being consumed to facilitate overtures to members of the opposite sex. I was not attempting to keep up to my friends in a blind attempt to assert my masculinity through alcohol consumption. No, I straight up just had a few too many. And I can remember the last time that I was this hungover about 4 months ago, and I was actually taking it easy that night. (no, really!)

It used to be that I would find myself staring at the ceiling with every cell in my body screaming for help, but unable to oblige, because I had made the conscious decision that I was gonna get wasted. And I would make that decision because of some lack or want or void that I could not define, so I decided to fill it with alcohol because it was the easiest thing to do at the time. I am glad to say that now with an amazing girlfriend, steady job doing what I love, stable family situation, and a renewed commitment to riding my bike, that void has shrunk to the point that it is imperceivable. So much so that I am not even going to say "never again", as I have uttered those words too many times before and not meant them. Instead I will say "hopefully not anytime soon" and I won't tempt fate in the mean time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stroke of Genius

I was talking to a friend the other day and she made a comment about attempting to work on her pedal stroke. While most people would find this comment entirely reasonable, innocuous and even commendable, it immediately sent me into a frenzied tirade, as if I was on a mission to keep an innocent pawn from an unspeakably terrible fate. My efforts doubled when she contended that she "had to pull up more" with one of her two legs. Unfortunately I do not think any of the hours I spent putting together tenuous empirical arguments on facebook chat had their intended effect. Not even the logically infallible "I have a perfect pedal stroke. OK well probably pretty close to perfect". That just made me sound like a pompous asshole. (the argument can be made that I am probably pretty close to that as well)

So yesterday, while riding up Gerrard on my fixed CX I felt a sensation while pedalling. I had been riding the whole day clipped in on the same bike (~75km) but decided to wear sneakers on the SPDs for the last errand. On the last stretch of uphill I decided to stand up to pedal my moderate 44/17 gear ratio, and I noticed that on the back-end of my pedal stroke I was lifting my foot gently off of the pedal, having it hover at close range from 7-10 o'clock, and making contact again at the top. "A-ha!" my friend is thinking, "you do pull up on the backside of your stroke" which I had vehemently denied earlier. And I would still disagree as a matter of semantics. I lift up my foot. This can be physically conceived as the difference between running up stairs and running on level ground with 30lb weights strapped to your feet.

Why does this even matter when you are riding? How could it possibly be a bad thing to add more force/energy to the pedal stroke anyway? Well, young grasshopper, first let me explain why I think my pedal stroke is pretty close to perfect, even though I have never had any sort of power testing done; I can climb things. Steep ridiculous things. On a SS. In fact the justification I used for my own perfection was climbing a steep muddy hill at Provincial championships 5/6 laps on my SS while at least half the (geared) competition was bailing to run. In truth this says nothing directly about my pedal stroke. What it does say though is that power was being transferred extremely smoothly and efficiently to the ground, allowing the thin tire to stay tractive even on slick muddy grass.

SO? What does any of my braggary have to do with YOUR pedal stroke? Well is optimally efficient power transfer and smoothness the end to which pedal stroke is a means? I feel like to the majority of people that want to improve their pedal stroke, it probably is. So here is why 'pulling up' on the pedals is a waste of time and energy:

-The definition of a smooth pedal stroke is one with minimal fluctuation of power output at the rear wheel
-Power is transferred via chain and cogs from the crank to the rear wheels
-The crank is driven by your legs
-Constant energy output in the direction of the circles traced by the pedal spindles will lead to constant energy output at the wheel
-Energy output at the crank is obtained by adding the simultaneous vectors of the right and left crankarms
-Generally, the vector of each individual crankarm is strongest on the front/downstroke
-The corresponding simultaneous vector on the opposite crankarm is the back/upstroke
-The hardest part of the pedal stroke at which to tramsmit force from legs to cranks is when one side is at 6 and the other at 12 o'clock

So, add it all up and what do you get? If you are actively pulling up on the back side of your pedal stroke, you are adding energy at a point where it is likely already at its peak, therefore exacerbating any fluctuation in power at the wheel that may already exist. All that is necessary is to lift that foot in the same direction you would be pulling, so that it does not exert a negative force against the powerful downstroke of the opposite foot. The most important part of the pedal stroke to focus on is at the top/bottom of the stroke, where the upstroke becomes down and vice-versa. Developing the ability to smoothly transfer power here will translate most easily into improved speed and smoothness on the bike, especially for mountain biking and CX where traction is a big concern.

Let me finish off by saying that to quote Doom, there are "many ways to fillet feline in these days". Proper care must be taken to develop your stroke in many different positions on the bike; seated balanced, seated forward, standing forward, standing balanced, etc. Depending on fatigue and conditions we tend to alter our pedalling quite a bit, but these same principles can and should be applied throughout most of these circumstances.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Subway Challenge

I leaned my bike up against the glass exterior of the wheelchair elevator at Kennedy station around 11:56am. I ditched the long sleeve jersey underneath my jacket, switched out to my thinner gloves and got out my camera so I could duplicate the time and location pics from the four corners ride. But instead of the bike appearing on the LCD display, I got a much more sinister "SYSTEM ERROR". 5 minutes of battery removal and on/off switch flicking had little effect, so I stashed it back in my pocket and tried to get on to Eglinton but went the wrong way. I considered making a mad dash across the road to get to the westbound lanes but common sense prevailed. I backtracked to use the underpass and at 12:03 pm the subway challenge was on.

Being a full time (and then some) bike commuter, I have often marvelled at my own time efficiency in getting from point A to B in the city. Downtown rush-hour is generally a no-brainer as neither cars nor public transit stand a chance against two wheels backed by my legs, lungs, and willingness to bend the Highway Traffic Act to my own advantage. But out in the suburbs, land of big box and 6 lane roads with defacto speed limits of 70km/h, the rules change. How effective would my trifecta of bicycle, body and loose morals be in competition with the TTC out here?

To be honest, I still do not have an answer to that question, because I cannot find anywhere online how long it takes the subway to get from Kennedy Station to Kipling, end-to-end on the Bloor-Danforth line. But determined to embark on a blog-worthy ride on my first day off since my last epic ride, I decided to see how long the journey would take me on the Rossin, my new favourite ride.

So after warming up on the way to Kennedy, I blasted off along Eglinton, the first leg of my strategically planned cross-town time trial route. Directness and efficiency were my main concerns here, so sticking to Eglinton as far as possible where lights are few and far between made a lot of sense. I saw Warden fly by after 4 minutes and Vic Park well under 10. Some nice downhill rollers followed and I found myself spun out and pulling up to Don Mills (lines up around Greenwood) under 15. I was still flying past Leslie, but traffic congestion started taking its toll around Laird. No worries though as I had planned on getting myself on to St. Clair anyway, so I did it through quiet sidestreets in Leaside.

I cannot recall exactly when I crossed Yonge St. but I think it was around 24/25min. 30 mins saw me cruising up to Bathurst, and shortly thereafter I was cursing my judgement as I hit the massive clusterfuck of construction that is currently Corso Italia. I made the most of it, navigating the poorly cordoned-off outer lanes and trying to avoid potholes. I hopped on to the streetcar right-of-way where it was freshly completed and followed it to Caledonia where I got back on the road. Construction soon ended, and I picked up the pace again, crossing Keele at about 41mins. St. Clair ends at Scarlett Rd, where I turned on to Dundas West for the remainder of the ride to Kipling. A wrong turn at the highly confusing Dundas/Bloor interchange set me back a minute, but I rolled up to the Kipling Kiss'n'Ride at 1pm exactly, 57mins an 30km after leaving Kennedy.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2558058

How I know it was really windy yesterday

The large green plastic table that was on my deck is now in the backyard upside down.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WATCH OUT BIC!



With ergonomic shaping and innovative graphics DUCO is set to take over.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On my porch @ -1min

Wow, it has been almost a year since my last (and only) blog update! Lots of new and exciting things have happened in that time, but we can get to that later, because I WENT ON A BIG RIDE.

I have ridden outside of the Metropolitan Toronto city limits at numerous different junctures in time and space. But I have had this idea of doing a single ride that would touch every border. These rides would be near infinitely variable as any street could be taken in any direction for any duration, so long as each limit got hit once. As well, since the distances between the limits are constant, the distance of any such ride would be approximately equal to double the width of the city plus the length of the city......so long as it begins and ends in the same spot (which could be ANYWHERE in Toronto).


Etobicoke Creek/Lake Ontario @ 55mins



So, I had this idea in my head I have been incubating for like four or five years, and Sunday night I compulsively g-mapped it out (as I have been known to do), but a slight variation where the ride hits the four corners of the city. It measured out to about 120km. I woke up the next morning still determined to ride that route but realizing that I would have a hard time completing it in much less than 6 hours if I took out the MTB as I had been lately. SS cross? Still has knobby tires on it and geared a little low. I considered slapping SPDs on the beater (50/17 fixed), but I was still not sure I would get the speed I was looking for. Hmmmmmm........



Albion and Steeles @ 1h47m


Well, why not Andrew? Why not just take out the Rossin track bike that you have owned for about a year, and ridden a bunch on the rollers (once at the track) and swore you would never ride in the city because of its lack of handbrake and handbrake compatibility? You won't even have to switch pedals!

So it was, and I geared up ready to push 48/15 to the furthest reaches of my town as fast as I could. I was fueled by a massive Dorito binge the night before, and 2 eggs, 2 hashbrowns, a small piece of bread and cup of coffee. Got out the door at 11:30.


Steeles and Scar./Pickering Townline @ 3h16m

Started out along the Martin Goodman a few clicks from my house. Pretty much smooth going except for some icy patches in the shade of the Gardiner. Got out on the Lakeshore @ Humber and kept a pretty steady pace out to the creek. Headed down some sidestreet to snap my picture and boogied back up to Browns Line.

From here up to Albion and Steeles, puddle was the name of the game. My feet were soaked through but luckily it was warm enough to be extremely uncomfortable but not dangerous. And believe it or not it was also the name of the game for the next 35km on Steeles. The last 5km on Steeles was all about riding on the furthest right 6" of the road, and trying to avoid the soft dirt shoulder.


Rouge River/Lake Ontario @ 3h50m


I was feeling a little weak heading back down south to the lake, so I stopped in at a convenience store as soon as I made contact with civilization. To whatever extent Altona and Kingston Rd can be considered civilization. I wolfed down a king sized Snickers while loitering in the store then set about the final jaunt down to the Rouge. At this point I was seriously considering hopping on the GO Train at Rouge Hill, but after crossing the river and getting on to Lawrence the sugar-high kicked in and I made a decent pace back to Chalet Crunk.


Door to door @ 4h45m

I got home, glad I finally made it happen. My average moving speed was probably between 28-29km/h which I am satisfied with. Happier still that it got my ass in gear to blog about it.