Friday, June 30, 2017

2017 Paris to Ancaster 70K

P2A is like forget the pain. 

Then, you think you should do it all over again; as it truly was a beautiful thing.  However, I really
didn't recall all those hills from the year previous.  Albeit, last year was my first attempt at this race, so, I may have been in a slightly altered state.   Nonetheless, in my mind, it was now doable on a single speed-like deciding to go with natural childbirth, the second time around.  Okay, for you gentlemen, I'll cease using this metaphor.  

I first woke in the morning around 6 am to thunder and lightning, not by choice, but, by shear volume.  I had been dreading the weather report for the past few days and it proved not to disappoint, which is rather an oddity by all accounts.   I fell back asleep to the lull of the rain and awoke a short time afterward by the pleasantry of my alarm. I sprung to the window, to check on the weather status and still, it continued to rain.  Yet, it was set in my mind; I was doing this race.  Sure, I had done many running events in these conditions and it always seemed refreshing, but, today, I was thinking it would be otherwise, especially in combination with the cold and wind.

Wave 4 was a bit of a blessing.  By the time I was ready to wheel the line, the rain had ceased and it only seemed cold when I was moving.  The gun went off and I was ready to go.  And move I did.  To be honest, I had only had one other ride on my single speed as it was newly acquired. The test ride was along the rail trail, so it was flat.  As I started to pedal, I looked at the slight incline and wondered how it might go.  I know, its like running a marathon in a new pair of shoes that you just hauled out of the box.  Not!  Well, that seemed easy enough and I was vehemently committed to seeing this through.  The initial climb, as small as it was, was a saving grace as I never allowed myself to visualize defeat.  Dreaming was achieving.  I knew I was going to finish this thing and that was the only plan.  Okay, just 69 km to go.

I spoke to some fellow riders and there were quite a few new riders.  I was quick to point out, that once we got off the rail trail, there was a quick right and it was a steep uphill. The lack of momentum in the turn, makes it difficult to ascend the hill, so, I had already made the plan to walk this one and if need be, the final Martin Road climb.  I began to relish the hills.  Yeah, those ones that I had totally deleted from the memory banks.  I even began to think they had changed the course from last year.

There was definitely more mud to contend with this year and the wind started to become atrocious as the trail opened up to roads.  The section of bush behind the first private property we cross, was a mud pit and I knew that I had to keep the momentum going.  I met up with a cyclist from the Pickering area that did this race with his son each year.  Today, he was told by his son to embrace the wind and that he did.  Until his front wheel hit a rock in the mud and over the handlebars he went.  Foremost, he was okay and once that was clear, I inquired about his bike and all appeared good, except for his pride he confessed.  Once we hit the road, I offered to pull and we continued to share each others company for a good portion of the route.  Good thing, as I happily let him pull on the rail trail as pushing into the wind had reduced us to a pace of around 12 km per hour.  At one point, I was almost blown off the trail by the wind.  There was an embankment at that point and it may have been interesting had I not recovered.

Just past the half way point, I was getting ready to pull out of the water stop and heard the announcement that the sweepers were only 15 minutes away.  How is that possible?  I checked my Garmin and although I had started off with an average pace of 23-25, I was now in the position of being just above 16.  I must admit, the wind was tough, but, this is not where I had visualized myself at this point.  I departed the station with an appetite for vengeance in making up for lost time.  All seemed to be going to plan, until we got back into the headwind.  It was a hard push at every point now, yet, I forged on.  I still felt good and I seemed to have lots of juice in the tank.  Soon thereafter, I hit the section of trail that had been sabotaged last year.  Mature trees had been cut to block the trail and created a backlog.  The community and race organizers had ensured that the course was clear from any obstructions. With the proceeds going to St. Joseph's Hospital, I'm still perplexed as to why someone would have done this.

I hit the last rest area and decided to keep going as there was only about 20km to go.  There were still 2 sections of mud chutes to get through and I was ready for them.  No grocery bags to cover my shoes this year as I was going to attempt to push through them.  Oh, the beauty of a single speed. There will be no expensive repairs to my derailleur.  Mud is such a bike killer.  I came across the first chute and it was okay.  They even had someone there hosing down your bikes to prevent from such disasters.  Such a nice touch.  The last chute didn't go as well.  I had picked my line and all was good until two other cyclists had moved right and occupied the same line I had set out upon.  I had to slow and then stop to prevent a collision.  I didn't get clipped out in time and down I went.  At least I was now looking the part.  What would Cornel say?  He is always telling me, it needs to be instinctual.  I was like a wild animal being fed at the zoo.  The instincts were not defined.  As I went down, the pedal hit my calf and I winced in pain.  I got up and was worried from what I was experiencing in that muscle.  I was so close now.  Surely, this would not be it.  I had to saddle up and keep moving and once I did, the calf started to feel much better.

I maneuvered my way over to the final ascent at Martin's Road and I have to say, I was happy with my performance through this section.  Now the climb, that was a different story.  Just like last year, I hit the beginning of the apex and had to get off and push my bike until it leveled out.  There I was able to get back in the saddle and finish the ride to the finish line.  I was beaming.  I had done it.

Once we had checked in our bikes at the wash station, we changed and made our way into the gymnasium for some lunch.  That is when I noticed, I had placed 2nd in the single speed category for women.  I'm told that I should neglect to mention that there was only the two of us, but, I think it matters in this regard as it means there was only two of us that were willing to try it with one gear.  I'm already looking forward to next years race and I'm hoping to shave at least a half hour or more off my time.  The weather is unpredictable for this race and that's what makes it so appealing.  Well, at least, once you're done.

Happy Trails My Friends


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Burn

Another year and another first.  The Tillsonburn, aka, The Burn, set in Tillsonburg, Ontario on Good Friday each year.  A distance of 50, 100 or 160km. I of course, took the middle ground and did the 100k.  I thought this would also give me the last little push in my training for P2A.

This is a race/ride put on by Jeff and his wife (owner of Indigo Lounge) and there is no fee. Bring a donation and money for chili and you'll be doing your part in helping some well deserving teen with a new bike.  What a great concept.  And, the day was absolutely perfect for it.

On the way there, I'm thinking, this will just be like the D2R2 except on flat; well, everything appeared to be flat leading into Tillsonburg. Gone are the distant memories of randonneuring some 2000m in elevation with some of the hardest roads I had ever climbed.  And just like the D2R2, you cover the course in a self-sufficient manner.  Similarly, it's a mixture of paved, gravel, dirt roads, along with some rail trail and single track.  It didn't take me long to figure out why they call it the Burn.  In full, its not a misprint and to abbreviate it, is not to save room on paper.  My legs were on literally on fire and everyone just kept saying, including the event t-shirts "just one more hill".  Did I mention, I'm slow on hills?  I always get left behind. Definitely, a skill I need to improve.  Back to speaking of hills, haven't we heard that a million times and each time, we know its just plain BS.  There is always another one.  In this case, there was plenty more. 

One section of road, between two paved roads, was this muddy sandy mixture that really kept my focus.  I was being overly cautious not to get dragged into the soft spots.   Now, had it been
quicksand, it may have been a blessing for me, well, as long as no one came along to haul me out.  However, I thought to myself, if I'm going down, as least this seems like a pretty soft landing.  Also, I may get dirty, but, at least I won't be all scraped up.  I usually save my war wounds for mountain biking.  Still go down at least once with every time I go out. 

At 50k, there was a descent down to the lake and there was a public restroom, which would have been ideal had it been open. This is where I found Cornel  He decided to wait for me after losing me some time ago on one of those hills.  To be honest, I had gone down after hitting some loose gravel after turning to talk to someone ascending the hill. I don't think he was impressed that I had a lack of focus.  Okay, so, I like to talk?  I can be very social, especially if it takes my mind off the task at hand.  That was a bitch of a hill anyway.  Its was a good tactic to earn the right to walk the rest.

We hit the 70k mark on the rail trail and although I may have slowed my pace, I still had energy.  At this moment, I felt good about where I was at for the P2A.  This year will be my second attempt at racing that.  I guess for me, its more like a ride as I only averaged 20km per hour.

Soon after, we hit some single track and I lost some time there as I was a little gun shy after my wipe out at Hardwood Hills last year during the Epic 8 hour relay race.  I need to find my confidence again.  Its out on the trail somewhere.  The mixture of the terrain on the course was incredible though.  A good mix and well designed course. Kudos to Jeff on all his efforts in bringing it together. 

Although, I was happy when it was done, I am looking forward to doing this one again next year.  One last note of mention, when the flyer has a caption at the bottom, that declares, "this is no sissy ride", pay heed.

Happy Trails My Friends


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Winter Blahs and Injuries

Its Canada and it's mid March and we just had another dumping of snow.  Actually, the white, fluffly, full of grace stuff is still coming down right now (that was not so obvious sarcasm).  It all started with Wiarton Willy seeing his shadow and then came the bleak anticipation that we would be able to get outside and start training for the Paris to Ancaster that is a mere 6 weeks away.  I had a missed opportunity on one of the nicer Saturdays, but, life gets in the way.  Cornel made it out and came back with both him and his bike covered in mud, so, I was okay with my schedule.  I'm guess I'm a fair weather rider unless I'm forced to do otherwise.

I should be out there running and prepping for my 100 Miler at Sulphur Springs but since my six hour race in January, I have been recovering from a stress fracture and a diagnosis of Morton's Neuroma on my right foot.  It took weeks before even being able to walk on it.  The silver lining in all of this, is that I went looking for a new pair of shoes that would offer roominess and comfort to my foot.  I found a single pair of Altras at my local Running Room, which just happened to be my size and I absolutely love them.  With my falling arch, the toe box has continued to be a bone of contention.  It's confirmed, I have now crossed over the boundary of youth, looking for comfort rather than style, but, I am okay with it.   Just this past weekend, I had a 4 km trial run and all seems good.  The numbness and tingling were still present, but no pain.  Now to start ramping up the mileage.    

Zwift North American Tour - La Bicicletta, TO
But now, comes my night in shining armor,  Zwift!  I had not even used an indoor trainer until last year and then was introduced to the magnificent known as Zwift.  A digital destination for the global cyling community that alleviates the boredom associated to getting on a trainer.  It offers a variety of courses in a variety of settings: training sessions, social rides, races and just time on your own.  I think my second or third trial in this environment, I did 118 km as a training ride for last years Paris to Ancaster. It must have helped as I was able to hit my time goal on race day, minus the time spent waiting to clear the course sabotage of mature trees being cut down.  Who does that?  Certainly not someone that cares about the environment or someone that cares about the charitable needs of others that these races support.  So, I digress.  But really?  Okay, so you can customize your avatar and win achievements where you get to switch up your jersey for the fashion conscientious or tires and bikes for those that are the fanatical aero geeks.   

If you're a woman and have some free weekend time, try the ladies only social rides (you may even see the odd man joining in) that are offered by clubs like ODZ.  The group leaders offer helpful tips to assist in cadence and interval training.   Its such a great community and watching the screen lets you become absorbed into a virtual reality setting.  It even allows for a supertuck if you hit the right conditions; just make sure you don't get dropped while resting if you're in a race situation. Plus, all your efforts can be manually uploaded to Strava, proving to friends when you dominated the sprint sections of QOM.  It also offers a variety of challenges where you accumulate your distance and ride California or Italy to unlock presents which are presented as bikes (Pinarello Dogma F8 or Tron).

Well, I'm going to close off and do a quick Zwift session prior to heading to work.

Happy Trails my Friends and Ride On!  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

On the Wagon

For those in Nashville, this is for real!
Well, its the start of another year and as I consistently attempt with each new year and this year is no different;   I elect to embark on a sudden withdrawal of sugar.  Yup, that's right, I get off the Sugar Wagon or on as it goes.
Let me tell you, sugar addiction is real.  The more you have, the more your body craves it and the more you want.  The month of December was horribly bad though.  I was not able to put the brakes on as I normally do.  I gained 5 lbs, but, it was more like 20 when I was getting dressed.  It's not a comfortable feeling.

So for anyone else trying this, start at the beginning of the week and be sure to check your calendar as you'll need a clean brake from functions, if you're going to be successful.  The first 3 days will be the most difficult as you skip carbs, wheat and other grains.  You'll also temporarily cut out fruits and dairy.  Yes, even cheese.  And wine, which is a whole other food group.  I feel pretty passionate about it getting a piece of pie on the Canadian Food Guide.  The premise of cutting dairy and fruit is to eliminate those sugars as well.  The lactose and fructose.  Pretty much anything that ends in "ose" can be translated to sugar.  Except for grandi"ose" which is the magnificent training plan and race plan we have all put together already.  I still have a few to decide on, but, I have committed to the major ones.  And, without the hangovers and sugar crashes you'll have more time and energy, so you can focus on your workouts.  Also, sweating during exercise encourages toxins to leave your body at a faster rate.  It is a trace amount as only the liver and kidneys can detoxify at any significant rate.  Milk Thistle tea is a good product to detoxify for the liver if interested.

So, that means a diet full of protein and vegetables.  Utilize fat to fight sugar, so eat nuts and avocados.  Now you can have fruit, but, limit it to just lemons and limes for the first 3 days.  Add them to your water as you'll want to focus on hydrating well during this time as well.  You can gradually add fruit, like an apple a day and add 1 serving of dairy a day as well.  The fructose will raise your blood sugar levels quite rapidly, so be prepared for the sudden spike.  Hold off on the wine for another week or so, unless you are so stressed that you may murder your husband or children.  Then, by all means, have the wine.  Have the bottle if it will calm you down.  In all seriousness, you may suffer from mood swings and headaches during the detox, so be ready for it and warn your friends and loved ones.

After a week, you may find that you are more focused and even happier.  The biggest take home for me was that I was suddenly sleeping through the night.  I read an article that suggested this may happen, but, I was doubtful.  So, plan those intense workouts as you will have increased energy. Usually, if I can maintain the absence of sugar in my diet for just 2-4 weeks and keep my regular running routing, I can usually drop 5-10 lbs.

So, leave the sweet cravings behind and ramp up the routine in the gym or outside if you're able to.  I'll be turning to by other addiction, albeit a much healthier one, running the trails or climbing on the trainer.  I've given a couple of options to ramp up your running program or just switch it up with some extra Tempo or Fartlek runs.  Be wary of ice if you're doing these outside.  Tis the season, but, at least we're burning up to 30% more calories by keeping core temperature being outside.

Option #1Option #2
Run 1 mile warm up Repeat 8 times Run 1/4 at goal pace rest with 10 squats and 10 lunges per leg. Run 1 mile cool down / stretchRun 1 mile at goal pace Repeat 4 times Run 1/2 mile at goal pace rest with 20 squats 10 / lunges per leg.Run 1 mile cool down/stretch

Happy Trails my Friends