BC Bike Race – Day 5: Sechelt to Langdale

2 07 2010

Girl Power: You can’t help but notice that amongst the massive, ripped, pit-bull like warriors are some pretty fresh-faced, lithe, bike chix. This should not surprise anyone, but it is worth noting, that despite their smaller frames and muscles, they are just as strong, just as fast, and just as courageous as any of the men. And frankly, if you got in their way, they would not hesitate to eat you for breakfast. You go, Girls!

Duelling Doctors: Is it a co-incidence or is there a reason that I have now met about 15 other doctors on this trail? Type A, check. Over-acheiver, check. Reward Seeking Personality, check. Get distracted by shiny things, check. No, it’s no co-0incidence. This race was made for us.

The play-by play – The day started relatively well, breakfast was a bit late, so felt a little bloated to start. I had good legs up the first climb as usual, but started to weaken as the insulin surge of breakfast hit me early into the first single track.

I did not panic, took my time, ate and drank diligently and did the water-down-the pants-thing at the first aid station. The cold water lowered my core body temperature quickly and my energy returned. I headed back into the woods with conviction, but got stuck in traffic with some less experienced riders and could not get any momentum. Every time I had the juice to get ahead,  I had to brake to avoid a collision at the next climb or obstacle. The I had to use precious resources to wind it up again. With all the stops and starts, my legs eventually turned to mush and by the second aid station, I was circling the drain, again.

Auto-rescuscitation: By the time I reached the second aid station, things were looking pretty grim. As I got off my bike, I could barely see straight. My knees were weak and my gait was wobbly. I reached out to grab the handle on the back of the Aid Station truck like an air sick passenger reaches for the bathroom door. Then, I lost control of my bladder. I’m a bit embarrassed about it, but physiology can often trump even the best manners, so I let it go, much to the horror of the aid-crew who were watching me like hawks, but in a good way. Again, I did not panic, because I had read about this in a cycling magazine recently and I knew what I needed to do. So, I calmly took one bottle after another and slowly poured them over my head, down my neck, down my pants and I was quite amazed by how quickly I felt better.

Rain Forest Romp

Then I slowly drank and ate my way back into fighting shape in what seemed like a half hour but was probably only 29 minutes… and set off for the last 400 m climb through the forest, before the sweet descent to the Ferry terminal in Langdale. This all went relatively well, although I did have to walk a significant amount, but I had the nerve and the guts to ride most of the slippery bridges and ladders that surely would have been my nemesis had I not taken the time to refocus and refuel.

Finding the Groove Again: The final descent was a spectacular series of buffed berms and bends and I felt that I rode it competently. As the trail snaked down the hillside, and the Red Bull shot seared through my circuits I found the groove again. Like driving a car, I sent the front wheel wide, visualized the apex, and squared my shoulders to the exit and down the next straightaway. Someday, I will do this automatically and effortlessly, but right now it’s still a series of mechanical tasks that need to be strung together consciously. I avoided any major heroics as I was not feeling like falling 10 feet into a creek. Moreover, I was getting bounced around quite a bit towards the bottom as my two year old shocks were starting to fail. Never the less, I arrived safely at the bottom in 5:35.


BC Bike Race – Day 3: Powell River

29 06 2010

Finesse in the Forest

Day 3 – Fun in the Forest: OK I am caught up now and feel much better both physically and mentally… could it be a good night’s sleep?… All the great people, anti-inflammatories, Red Bull energy shot, a doule bowl of oatmeal… All of the above?

Race Relations… I’m not fond of people who bend the rules, in my business we call them boundary crossers…but… I guess I often find myself in that position where I would like someone to bend the rules for me. Anyway, here at BC bike Race, Michelle from Race Relations has made my day. We are only allowed one bag, our skookum new Dakine bag to be exact. I don’t really want to cram my new 17″ MacBook Pro into my race bag, so Michelle has been kind enough to carry my laptop with her, so I can blog while on the ferry. This precious time, usually in the morning, is the only time have energy and cognitive function to write anything, so I am very thankful.

Tent Mafia: It takes a special kind of person to yell at someone, first thing in the morning. I am not saying they are bad people… But only a special person can yell at the top of their lungs a t 6 am, “Anyone who is not out of their tent in 20 minutes does not get any coffee.” I don’t even drink coffee, but they sure had my attention. I suppose the ability to yell at people must have some surviuval value, because you find these special people everywhere: police officers, airport security people, nurses. I guess they are put on earth to help all us ADD survivors to get our shit together and stop procrastinating. Maybe their parents yelled at them. My parents never really did that, so I always find it somewhat abrasive (maybe I was just grumpy after having two shitty days). But, I guess that’s why it works.

Different Strokes: This is a long race.. 7 days and, to the trail designers credit, they have thrown in a wide variety of  geographical and technical elements to test both our fitness and bike handling skills. The first day was 67km and arduous. The second day was shorter but more brutish with a 10 km climb in the middle of the day and another nasty climb towards the end of the day. Today will shorter, only 53k, but it looks very choppy.

The Play by Play: We start the day with a long outbound double-track and I’m feeling strong…the local school kids have lined the trail and are cheering madly making me feel, for a minute, like I am Fabian Cancellara in the Tour de France. I am passing on the flat with confidence. I feel steady in the single track today… maintaining position behind my new friends, also riding under the Different Bikes banner, the husband and wife team of Marty and Frannie. It’s endearing listening to them chatter back and forth, supporting each other, making sure they are in sync. Now that’s attachment.

Physics Power: Meanwhile, I am adapting to the geometry of my new bike. It’s actually an old bike, but since I had my bike re-fit by my cycling coach, the indomitable, Larry Zimich, things are a bit different and I’m still getting used to it. Larry measured and tweaked my position in climbing, time trial and sprinting positions. He shortened my stem, trimmed my handle-bars, lowered my seat and moved it forward a smidge. The goal here is to be able to get as aerodynamic as possible, maintain power and optimize traction. The principle is that as you lower your torso, you decrease angle between you chest and your quad. That decreases wind resistance, which is 95% of what you are pushing against, but it also decreases power. So, by moving the seat a bit forward you open the angle and restore the power. Now, it’s time to use all this science to optimize energy transfer from mitochondria to pedal to where the rubber hits the loam. Sit back, pull back and scrape mud.

I also dropped the psi in my back tire to 30 from 45 and switched from Schwalbe Racing Rons to Nobby Nicks, which increases traction and allows me to roll over wet roots rather than spinning out or getting bounced around.

Colin Kerr of Bowen Island

There were Lots of stops and starts today, so I was trying to focus on consistency… Winding up my wheels, rather than pounding away at them. There’s more to this than meets the eye. After wind resistance and rolling resistance, there is rotational resistance. That is the force required to push the rotating parts through one revolution. As it turns out, the force is proportional to the weight of the rotating parts. So that is why weight weenies first obsession is the heft of their hoops. The lighter the wheels, tires, pedals and cranks, the less force required to push them around. The next factor is the friction at the level of the hub. The smoother the bearings, the less force it takes to push them around. So, as the sweetness of light wheels meets the blessing of smooth bearings you have a dream which gets better with each  revolution. Now, if you can increase the force on the cranks slow and smoothly, rather than fast and furiously, you expend less energy; And, if you can optimize your pedal stroke to deliver power evenly over the entire 360 revolution, you’re even more efficient. And, if you can maximize the transfer of power from your body to the bike by stabilizing your bum on the seat; And, if you can distribute the power output to a broader selection of fast twitch muscles by pulling back on the handle bars while pulling forward with your core; And you can optimize the oxygen transfer to your muscles by taking slow deep breaths; And you can make sure there is enough glucose going to your muscles to fuel aerobic metabolism… then you can really fly.

Very few open climbs today so just trying to maintain my position in the forest and pass on the double track. The open descent with wide turns and long straightaways played to my strength. So whenever I could, I tucked into TT position and cheated the wind… I had my best day yet. I took another 15 spots: 4:05 today, WOW… Now I’m 51st, vs.84th yesterday in Solo Masters Men . Beware the tortoise!

BC Bike Race – Day 2: Cumberland

29 06 2010

Day 2: I am determined to catch up on my blogging. A promise is a promise. And today I have decided to forego the usual waiting. So doing things in reverse order from everyone else means not standing in line to do what everyione else is doing.

OK, Day 2 was a bit more fun… I didn’t race out of the gate like usual, but then got stuck in traffic. I guess you can’t get around it. 500 mountainbikers is a lot of peple. The first part of the ride was the old kind of single track. Nothing too scary, actually it was what you would call flowy… That dumped us at the bottom of a long 10k climb. Like I said, I like climbing, so before I even started to climb, I tucked into my chocolate rice pudding concoction and had a smile on my face. Slowly, slowly I made my way up the hill. Happily passing people by using the European technique of cycle climbing. Focus on keeping your pedal cycle smooth.  Rather than just pushing the pedal down with your quad on every stroke.  You are scraping mud. Pulling back with your hamstring and up with your core hip flexor with each stroke saves your quads for power moves and means that you have a higher cadence and you are not losing energy by bobbing up and down. For a change, now and then I will click into a higher gear and stand on the pedals, using my core muscles to drive my knees forward while pulling back on the bars. That stretches the back and quads, allowing blood in and lactate to be cleared out.

The big climb

the nasty down hill

the bump and grind

Anthony Ocana

Bike Mechanical: Unfortunately, about 3 hours into the race, I heard an awful sound, the sound that every biker dreads. Looking down I saw my derailleur hanging upside down from my chain. Fortunately, I had an extra derailleur hanger in my bag, thanks to Cynthia from Different Bikes. Unfortunately, I could not get the old one off without a crescent wrench. Luckily, every person who passed me asked me what I needed. Unfortunatly, no one had a crescent wrench. Fortunately, the motorcycle guy, Stewart came along and he had one. Unfortunately, it took 30 minutes for him to show up. Fortunately, we got the new one on in a jizzy. Unfortunately, just as we were about to wrap up, he noticed that my chain was about to break. Fortunately, I had a extra chain link, that I got at Mountain Co-op for $3.50. Unfortunately, in all the commotion we seemed to have dropped the bushing that goes on the end of the skewer that locks the back wheel on. Fortunately, Stewart has better eyes than I do and we found it and I was on my way. Unfortunately, 50 m later on a steep, narrow, curving sandy track… I did an endo into the bushes. Fortunately, no one saw.

finding the line – At the second aid station… I got a bit more to eat and drink… I tried a HONEY STINGER from EN-R-G Foods…while it is basically just honey… it really hit the spot. I also took a couple of those RED BULL shots and put them in my water-bottle. Then for some reason, my biking started to improve, my speed increased, I stopped hearing the sound of the bike behind me. I compressed into my turns, I looked down the trial more, I started to see the line… and the corners of my mouth started turned up for the first time in this race. The line I’m talking about is the line between the rocks, over the roots, down the shoot and around the tree. That’s the difference between the beer and sausage riders and the good guys (and gals). Once you see the line, you lay off the brakes, allowing you to carry momentum that into the flatter sections… OK, now this is fun.

So, I was an hour slower than I should have been, but I finished.

the massage in the storm

finally found my appetite

still not in the flow

never say die

everything worth having is work

a lovely dinner

winners are something else

avoiding the tent mafia