Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Race Schedule

I had heard there was going to be some changes to the 2011 Alberta Bicycle Association Mountain Bike schedule from the previous two seasons so I was quite excited when I saw the new schedule for the first time last week.  You can find the complete schedule here, but the following are the events I will most likely participate in.

     Date     /     Name     /     Organizer     /     Location     

Sun 05/22     /     Hardcore XC     /     Hardcore     /     Edmonton

Mon 05/23   /   Hardcore/Redbike   /Edmonton

Sat 05/28     /     Calgary XC     /     Dead Goat     /     Calgary

Sat 06/04 / Kananaskiker MTB Stage Race / Café Racers / Canmore

Sun 06/05 / Kananaskiker MTB Stage Race / Café Racers / Canmore

Sat 06/11   /   Iron Lung XC    /   CMC/Bow Cycle   /   Canmore

Sat 07/09   /    Perogy XC      /      RVC    /    Edmonton

Sun 07/10   /    Perogy XC     /      RVC     /    Edmonton

Sun 07/17   /   Mountain Bike Nationals   /   CMC/Bow Cycle   /   Canmore

Sun 07/24 / Edmonton Canada Cup / Alberta MTB Racing / Edmonton

Sat 08/27   /    XC Provincials    /    Freewheel   /   Hinton

I took a few marathon races off my list as they have not been my focus previously.   I did leave one marathon race on my list with hope that it will kick start my season.  With my goals this season being less aggressive from last year, I feel I can relax my training to allow some longer races.   Also, with this only being my 4th year riding, I finally feel like I actually have the fitness to complete an endurance race.

There will be one or two out of town races on here that I won't be able to make but at this point I haven't made a final decision which event I won't be attending.  What I do know is that a personal schedule with races 4 weeks in a row (and 3 weeks straight in Calgary/Kananaskis/Canmore) will not be wife approved.  With Lachlan's birthday falling in mid-June, the Iron Lung is most likely the one that will have to suffer for the third straight year. 

As for local races, my two previous best performances have been at the Edmonton Canada Cup so I am hoping that I can have similar results in 2011.  I think has mostly due to that the course suits my strengths; lots of roots and power climbs keep me out of the saddle for most of the race. 

As for the remaining Edmonton races, I am not too sure where in the city these will be held.  I assume that at least one will be held at Terwillegar Park but it is possible that both will be held there.  I would like to see one of these races held in Strathcona Science Park.  The Science Park was the home of the MTB race for the 2007 Western Canada Summer games so there is a suitable track available.  In addition, there is ample room for parking and compared to Terwillegar, users at the Science Park are almost non-existent. 

Finally, I was happy to see provincials at Hinton again this year.  I had a great time last year as the course was a real test of mettle.  The climbs were long and grueling but they weren't the hardest part.  The descents were punishing enough on a hard tail that I was begging to climb.  My arms and legs felt like I was riding a jackhammer as I tried to absorb the relentless terrain as we worked to the bottom of the hill.  I can't wait to try it again in 2011!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What is the craziest trail you have ever ridden?  Most of us instantly think of that one trail when after we got finished we said "WOW - that was the scariest thing I have ever done on my bike!"  If you haven't been on a trail that has scared you half-to-death, I would like to introduce you to Mishugina.  This trail consists of a series of skinnies, gaps and drops located on Bowen Island, just North of Vancouver.  You may have seen this video before as it has been around for a few years but seeing it again can't be a bad thing.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Add-ons for GoPro

It wasn't too long ago that I posted my Christmas Wish List and I noted that I would like to have a GoPro 1080p HD Camera.  I noted that because I am cheap, the 960p would be what I would get myself if I was shelling out the cash to purchase one of these as the features on the 1080p were more than what I required.  Other than the 1080p recording capability, the biggest difference was the expansion capability of the 1080p model.  Thankfully, my wife is amazing and decided to get me something I wouldn't buy myself.  At the time I told her it was too much but now I am glad she did get me the top model because there was a recent sneak peak of some of the expansion packs that will soon be available. 

According to, GoPro has introduced a clip-on LCD screen that not only shows what you are viewing but displays battery life as well as an external speaker.  There is also a battery bacpac that will allow you to carry two batteries.  They have also created a new back cover for the housing if you are intending to get an add-on to accommodate the additional bulk.

Then, there is the new GoPro 3D offering.   According to the article, the quality is quite amazing considering how compact the camera is.  To upgrade your current 1080p camera to 3D would require you to purchase an additional 1080p camera and a 3D housing designed to fit both cameras.   

I have only had the opportunity to put together two videos to date but I suspect these new expansions will be worthwhile improvements to the capabilities of the GoPro camera.  The battery expansion like would seem like the most useful as you could film a great deal longer and not have to worry about your battery running out or switching batteries during your ride.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ride Before the Storm

There was a huge winter storm that hit Edmonton on January 7th, 2011 and continues to dump snow on us.  In just over a week we have seen almost 2 feet of snow and deep freeze conditions with temperatures colder than -30 degrees Celsius when factoring in the wind chill.  What do you  do when the weather is like that?  Well, there is a lot of shoveling, but I also had some spare time on my hands to edit some video.

This video was shot on January 3rd, 2011, my last ride before the storm.  It was my last day off during the Christmas break and the weather was beautiful.  I headed out solo from DaCapo Cafe then rode along the south side of the North Saskatchewan River to the Dawson bridge and back.  It wasn't a long ride, but definitely good to get out for a spin.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stairway to Health

My employer has issued a Workplace Wellness Challenge to all employees.  The challenge, called Stairway to Health, is to take the stairs more often.  To complete the challenge, each participant must use take stairs (up and down) from the 10th floor at least 10 times between January 14th and February 14th. 

Each participant is required to log the number of trips they make as well as the days in which they take the stairs.  There will be a draw prize for each person who completes the challenge as well as a prize for the person who does the most amount of trips.  Most of you know how competitive I am, so I have decided that I will be aiming for top prize.  I figure if I take the stairs up and down from the 10th floor two or three times each work day I have a great shot at taking home top prize.  If I hear rumblings that I am not in the lead I will use my lunch breaks to top up my totals.

Unlike my regular motivation to simply do what it takes to win, I see this stair challenge as a great off season training tool to improve my cycling.  I have found that it is getting more difficult to fit my required training into my day as my little guy gets older.  Because Lachlan is much more active than when he was a baby or toddler, he now takes up a lot more of my spare time in the evenings.  I used to be able to sneak down and do a workout in my basement in the evenings but now I find myself busy playing goalie in my living room or setting up Hot Wheels race tracks.  Please don't think that I am complaining as I love spending time with him; what I am getting at is when priorities take up more of your free time, you find less time to dedicate to your hobbies.  Fitting my fitness into my work hours has now become a necessity with how much of my time is required at home.

I will update this page with my number of trips and how my perceived fitness is improving.  I challenge you to start a similar competition in your workplace.     

January 14th to 24rd

I wasn't sure how I would do in this challenge.  I know I am stubborn enough to do what ever it takes to complete my goal so I thought there was a chance I would be in for a lot of pain; after my first attempt it was much easier than I originally anticipated.  I was able to run down all 10 flights and run back up the first six flights and walk the remaining four in 2 minutes and 20 seconds.  Not too shabby.  My next timed attempt was 2:15 and by the end of the week I was consistently coming in at 2:05.  Unfortunately, I was also becoming more and more fatigued as I was running the stairs 3 times a day.  I was looking forward to getting some recovery time in over the weekend and see how I was able to hit the stairs with fresh legs. 

The weekend didn't provide me any recovery as I ended up playing hockey on Saturday and went for a 4 hour ride on Sunday.  I bonked after about 2 hours and 45 minutes (had no idea we would be out that long so I was very under prepared) and still had over 15 kms to ride back to my vehicle.  I knew I would be a bit sore the next day but I was going to attempt to keep up with taking the stairs.  As I climbed the stairs from the ground floor to the Mezzanine I felt a shooting pain in my left knee.  I know I am stubborn, but I also know when my body is telling me to stop.  I jumped on the elevator as I didn't want to risk causing further pain and discomfort.  I suspect this is an over use injury so hopefully if I dial things back for a couple days the pain will go away.

Total count for the first week: 17

January 25th to 31st

I did the stairs on the 25th at noon and felt okay, but spin class that night confirmed my suspicion that I was dealing with an over use injury and it was time to back the effort off.  I was having issues keeping it correctly aligned and although I was able to realign it several times, it didn't hold for more than a couple minutes at the longest so I pulled the plug and packed up my gear half way through the session.  Anyone who knows me is aware that for me to give in would require a significant amount of pain and discomfort, which was definitely the case in this instance.  I was able to spin lightly but as soon as I tried to apply power I would get a sharp pain in the back of my knee as if a large needle was being inserted over and over again.  Unfortunately I am calling it quits for the week and feel quite disappointed about it.  However, long term health is much more important that winning a stair challenge or training for a race season.  A week off would probably be good for me anyway.  I did the stairs on Friday to check how things felt and the knee felt better but by no means was it back to normal  .I did the stairs Monday morning and the knee was definitely.  My heart rate was high when I reached the top, but that is normal and expected. 

Total count for the second week: 3

February 1st to 7th

More issues this week.  My knee was feeling normal again but what wasn't normal was the feeling I got Monday night/Tuesday morning that made me shoot out of bed to the bathroom.  Let's just say I was 'firing on all cylinders' and I was back and forth numerous times over the next 6 hours.  I was feeling a bit better on Wednesday morning but there was no way I was about to do stairs with no food in my system since Monday.  Thursday came and I was feeling considerably better than the previous morning but I was late so again, an elevator ride for Gord.  Wow – the excuses are really starting to pile up.  This is what lack of motivation looks like, kids!  Friday I was feeling better so I trudged up the stairs a few times and I felt good.  Monday came around and I was able to knock off a few more sets of stairs.     

Total count for the third week: 4
February 8th to 14th

Last week!  I was able to get up the stairs every day this week except for 1 day.  The final two days I managed to get up and down twice.  I need to make sure I don't put myself into an overuse situation as I was after week 1, but I need to keep up with it at least once a day. 

Total count for the forth week: 8

I have to say I have definitely noticed a change from week 1 to completion.  My legs have a bit more 'snap' and I even noticed I have a bit more definition in my quads.  Don't laugh - for someone who looks like they are riding a chicken, that's a big deal!!  I am not really tiring by the time I reach the 10th floor and my heart rate is much lower by the time I get to the top than it was when I started.  I am looking forward to continuing to take the stairs after this challenge is complete.  For any of you who are stuck at a desk for the majority of the day, I highly suggest you get out get some exercise while at work.  Whether it is taking the stairs rather than riding the elevator or going for a walk during your lunch break, every little bit counts.
Grand Total: 32

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sean Burns - Anthem II

My friend Jason linked this video on his facebook page.  This is Sean Burns' portion of Anthem II - a street BMX movie.  Enjoy!
Warning - this video contains explicit language. 

If YouTube pulls this video, you can also find it on

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Starting Your Child in Cycling

There are a few new parents out there who have asked me about how I got my little guy on the bike so quickly. First off, I only got into cycling just after Lachlan was born.  This was mostly because my older son, Kevin, thought it would be a good idea for me to get a mountain bike so that we would have some additional activities to do together, but I also wanted to stay in shape so that I could keep up with Lachlan as he got older and cycling would be a great opportunity to do that. 

When Lachlan turned one, I got a helmet for him and I pulled him around in a Chariot behind my bike. It was a great experience to get him out behind the bike, getting fresh air and enjoying nature. Lachlan quite enjoyed riding in the Chariot and there were a few instances by the end of the year (when he didn't fall asleep) where he would yell "faster Daddy, faster!"

That fall I figured that Lachlan would be ready for his own bike the following spring.  I did some research over the winter to see what would be the best option that he would enjoy and what would help him transition to a two wheel bike the easiest.  As we all know, there are several options you can choose when introducing your child to cycling. I'm sure most of you have similar memories that I do of riding around on either a tricycle or a bicycle with training wheels as a child.  But transitioning your child to a two wheel bicycle can be a difficult experience as neither the tricycle or bicycle with training wheels develop balance.

During my research I came across something I had never seen before - a run bike.  A run bike (or balance bicycle) is a training bicycle that helps your child learn balance and steering. It is built without pedals, crankset and chain, and no training wheels. You can also use a normal bicycle by removing the pedals and related parts, but the frame typically doesn't come as small as a run bike.

With a run bike, the rider learns balance first, pedal last.  Although opinions differ regarding which learning sequence is easier for most riders, it is generally agreed that a bicycle with pedals is too difficult for most very young children and that training wheels may encourage the rider to learn some behaviors which later must be unlearned.

A run bike must be small enough that the rider can put both feet flat on the ground and walk the bicycle while sitting comfortably on the saddle. Eventually, the rider feels comfortable enough to run and "scoot" while riding the bicycle, then to lift both feet off the ground and cruise while balancing on the two wheels. Children as young as 18 months can learn to cruise a balance bicycle within a few hours' practice.

Lachlan turned two in 2009 and I got him an Adams Run Bike for his birthday.  It didn't take him more than a couple tries to go from walking tentatively to a full run and lifting his feet and gliding.  He rode it all over the neighborhood and wanted to ride every day.  That basically ended him travelling in the Chariot as he now had his own wheels. 

There were a couple of instances that stood out for me the first year Lachlan was on his run bike.  The absence of fear when we were camping that summer was a sign of things to come.  Lachlan started by going down some short (2-3 feet), steep hills for the first time.  He couldn't even get to the top by himself but once he got his bike up there he would count out '1, 2, 3!' and push off, lift his feet and down the hill he went.  Once we got home I took him to the little jump/pump area at Capilano.  Lachlan was a bit tentative at first but he quickly got the hang of what he needed to do and soon he was going down the hills and up the other side.  I have to say, there are few prouder moments in a father's life.

That winter, Lachlan's Grandpa got him a Smart Cycle for Christmas.  A Smart Cycle is like a stationary bike for kids that interfaces with the television as a video game.  Lachlan struggled quite a bit with the mechanics of pedalling but after a few tries he got the hang of it. He still didn't understand the control interface but as long as he was on the games he only had to pedal and steer he was okay.  Now he can play all of the games on the cartridge that comes with the system and he is on it about 2 or 3 times a week.  There was a new Super Friends cartridge under the tree for him this year that lets him drive the batmobile and shoot Lex Luthor's evil robots so he has been on his Smart Cycle even more.

 In 2010, Lachlan turned three and he wanted to ride his bike to the playground on one of his first rides of the year.  It is about 3.5 km to the playground he prefers and to my surprise, he rode his run bike the whole way!  He didn't quite have it in him to make it all the way back, but he rode the better part of 6 kms on his own.  It was only big trip he made that year though as he really isn't interested in going that far at this stage.  Lachlan is so much more interested in going down hills and rolling over some small teeter-totters and jumping off some small ramps we made.  In fact, he rides all winter long as we back the car out of the garage and he rides around in there over the jumps and teeter-totters.  Keeping it fun is the key as any riding that kids do at this age is building skills and confidence. 

We did take his bike camping again last summer and it seems he gets more adventurous away from home, trying things he won't try at home.  It seemed to renew his enjoyment for his bike and he wanted to ride his bike anywhere we went.  There aren't too many moments that stick out in my mind (compared to his first year) but the most memorable bike moment of 2010 would have to be at the last Spring Series race at Terwillegar.  There were no racers in sight so the volunteer staff said it was okay for him to ride his bike across the finish line.  With everyone cheering for him and ringing their cow bells, Lachlan's face lit up as he rode across the line.

One of Lachlan's favorite things to do is visit the local bike stores.  Whenever we go to River Valley Cycle the first thing he does is head to the run bikes and terrorize the store at mach speeds.  He weaves through the bike and clothing racks and shows off for the staff.  We commute past RVC every day and he asks if we can go to the bike store every time we drive past.  We went to United Cycle a couple weeks before Christmas to see Santa and since we got there a bit before Santa was ready, we went to check out the bikes they had upstairs.  He went straight to the run bikes and rode them around the store for a bit but then decided that he wanted to try a bike with pedals.  He jumped on a little bike with training wheels and he was off like a shot!  But with his feet on the pedals he didn't know how to stop.  As he came into the spot where he needed to park the bike, he crashed into the wall.  Once I explained to him that he has to pedal backwards to stop (and after trying it a few times at slow speeds,) Lachlan figured he needed to try it while going fast.  He got a bit of speed going and slammed on the brakes - weeee!  I remember burning a few rear tires off doing the exact same thing on my driveway as a youngster so seeing my little guy do it with a grin from ear to ear didn't surprise me in the least.

Looking ahead to next season, I can't help to think that Lachlan should be able to ride a two wheeler before his birthday in June with no training wheels.  My cousin was kind enough to give Lachlan a hand-me-down bike which fits him nicely.  It needs a bit of TLC along with a new rear tire, but in general, it is in decent shape for seeing two boys prior to being handed down to us.  Santa brought Lachlan a set of training wheels for the transition, but I suspect he won't need more than a couple weeks, at the most, before he is down to two wheels.  I'm sure he'll still get on his run bike from time to time as his confidence on that is what started his love for the sport at such a young age.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Goals for 2011

Now that the calendar has closed on 2010, it is time for cliché New Year’s resolutions.  Statistics show that less than eight percent of people actually achieve their goals they set out to accomplish to start the year.  The flaw that most people encounter is that the only set these goals at the beginning of the year with no real bench marks to track their progress.

To be successful in achieving your resolutions you will require a realistic goal with measurable targets, a time table as to when you want to complete each target (and ultimately your final goal,) and of course, a reward for your hard work when you accomplish your goal.  You will have a better chance at being successful if you keep your goals in a visible location such as on your refrigerator or post it on your office door.  Having a visual of your goals will keep it fresh on your mind and if your goals are visible by others it will bring additional encouragement.  It will also engage conversations on your progress and makes it easier to talk to others if you find yourself hitting a wall.

I don't necessarily set my goals to start on January 1, rather when I complete a previous goal.  For example, after completing my first season of XC racing in 2009, my off season goals last year were to 1) increase my bike fitness, 2) finish in the top 10 in the majority of my races, 3) podium in a race, 4) win a race and 5) move from Novice to Sport.  I worked diligently on goal 1 during the off season by going to spin class twice a week, riding outdoors once a week and using the MTB Strength Training System.  With all of the work put into goal 1, I was able to accomplish all of my other goals.  Goal 4 is debatable as I didn't win an ABA race (only won a $5 Tuesday race) but considering how much I was able to improve from 2009 to 2010, I am very satisfied with my results.

After a disappointing performance in my only Sport race (I was upgraded with 1 race remaining in the season) I immediately decided that I would need to put in as much effort this off season as I did last year if I had similar aspirations in Sport for 2011.  That really isn't something that I would be able to accomplish this year with other commitments, I decided that I would have to set some less ambitious goals that are attainable yet still challenging. 

After reviewing my 2010 race results and comparing average lap times with the Sport field I came up with some targets for 2011.  If I can finish in the top 10 in the local races and be mid pack for the remainder of the schedule, I think I would be doing well.  Once again this year I will be trying to peak for the Edmonton Canada Cup, my favourite race on the ABA schedule.  This race suits my strengths and my course knowledge gives me a considerable advantage over the out of town racers. 

To achieve these results I will need to go to spin class at least once a week, ride outdoors once a week and get back on the MTB Strength Training System.  I will try to get some other activities in for some cross training this season such as XC skiing and hockey when my schedule permits.  I was a bit burned out by the close of the 2010 XC race season so hopefully being on the bike twice a week rather than three days a week over the winter will reduce that feeling for 2011.

I would like to wish all of my readers the best of luck in achieving your goals in 2011 and I encourage you to share your goals to help improve your chances of success.