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March 6, 2013

Death of XC MTB Racing

With racer registration numbers struggling, and races seemingly dropping off the ABA XC MTB calander, are we seeing the slow death of the traditional 90 min XC MTB race here in Alberta?

When I first started racing, there was only one kind I wanted to do – cross country mountain bike. The problem was, I wasn’t really in good enough shape to do it. I was your typical ‘weekend warrior’, spending a couple hours per week bombing around on the single-track trails with my pals. After a while, we got bold and signed up for a few bike shop-led group rides. In that context I thought I was pretty good, and with some encouragement decided to go out for an actual race, only to have my ego shattered! The 90 mins of max effort riding required in a typical ABA MTB XC race was so far beyond me, I was shocked. I finished the race, but it damn near killed me. Afterwards, I thought long and hard about if I wanted to do another one…

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January 30, 2013

The Beard

At Christmas, Ken showed up at my place with a truly horrendous beard. Naturally, I thought it was awesome, and figured I should grow an even worse one.

4 weeks later, I sent Ken a text message to find out the state of his beard, and discovered that he didn’t enjoy looking like a lunatic who’d wondered off from the nearby hospital, so he’d buckled and trimmed it. This however confirmed to me, that with some willpower, I stood chance at beating him. When I let him know my plan, he scoffed – called me a ‘copy-cat’, among other things and demanded an immediate photo. So, fueled by his displeasure, obviously I forged on. At first I was just going to take the photo right away, but being aware of the photo of him sporting his ridiculous beard and that even more ridiculous fur hat, which he posted on Facebook, I knew I needed to ponder my photo carefully – it needed to be epic.

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December 28, 2012

Winter Training: XC Skiing

Before I had kids, I got out for winter rides pretty regularly. In particular, there were two years in a row when I got out there a lot. I had a good mtb bike for it, outfitted with fat, knobby tires, and tons of warm riding gear to keep the chill out. That said, I don’t want to make myself sound like I was set to run the Iditarod, cause I’d really only go out if it was -15 or warmer.

In general, I enjoyed it. I’d connect with other winter riders – we’d hop on the snowy trailers for 2 hours or so and then converge back on DaCapo for coffee and pizza. In many ways I miss it. But now, with less free time on my hands I just don’t get out there anymore. I’ve deferred back to the indoor trainer in the basement. Such is life. The pain cave in the basement isn’t so bad though, as long as you set yourself up properly with a fan, a TV, and a good menu of training videos and movies to watch or music to listen to. The other key I’ve found is to keep the sessions short. No more 2-3 hour spins in on the stationary bike for me – just honest, hard, short efforts for no longer than an hour. I’ll even jump on for as little as 30 mins, if I feel up to really hammering. It hurts like hell, but it’s the kind of hurt we cyclist crave.

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November 28, 2012

Bike Shop Community

Edmonton is pretty fortunate to have the bike community we do. After all, we live in the midst of the Canadian prairies, where we’re blasted by winter-like conditions nearly 9 months of the year. Even after living here most of my life, I’m still surprised by the number of independent bike shops we have – and somehow they all find a way to co-exist in the face of competition with each other and with big retail. You might not think Canadian Tire, or Walmart bikes are direct competition to a small local bike shop, but they definitely are, especially in the ‘bikes for kids and families’ category, which is a huge percentage of annual bike sales across the country. So with all that in mind, I have to wonder, how do so many independent Edmonton bike shops manage to co-exist in a small city of just over a million people?

Other than observing the basic business savvy-ness needed to operate a business on thin margins, with a need to carry big inventory, in an industry with extreme seasonal highs and lows, there are a few other key things I think bike shops need to do:

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October 30, 2012

PUNCHEUR

Well, the fat lady has sung! Even though there are still a few more races left on the calendar, I’ve raced my last CX race of the 2012 season – work and life are playing the trump card. It was a really good run this year, though. I moved up the field, going from near the back of the pack Sport finishes in 2011, to some solid top 15 Sport finishes in 2012. I guess not having a new-born baby on hand clearly helped this year’s ‘racing campaign’.

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October 10, 2012

Grass Roots Racing

If you’re a serious racer, someone who wants to compete, diligently track your progress and continually improve, the casual nature of grass-roots racing might not be what you’re looking for, but I’d argue that’s kind of the point. For me, gross-roots races turn out to be some of the best races I go to all season, but there are lots of pros and cons to grass-roots racing, for sure. Starting with some of the cons:
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October 2, 2012

T’was a Dark Knight CX Race

For a long time, I’ve wondered what it would be like to go to one of the big USGP CX races down in Bend, Oregon, or even over in Europe – the epic courses, the big heckling crowds, the festival atmosphere with music, costumes, signs and beer! I want to experience that one day – it’s officially on my Bucket List.

So, what’s the next best thing if you’re living here in Alberta? Gotta be the Dark Knight!

Set up inside the bobsleigh/luge run up at COP in Calgary, this race has all the core aspects of a great event, not to mention a race. It’s located within the city, making it easy to get to, especially for those of us travelling there, staying in hotels, etc… There’s lots of parking right at the site, and room for big crowds of cowbell ringing spectators and you can crank the music without waking up the neighbours!

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September 5, 2012

Rapha Rides YEG

It’s not unknown, that I’m a big Rapha fan. I eat up the site, the blog posts and the films – I also spend a healthy amount on the gear. What can I say, it’s nice. For a rider like me, who is in to ‘nice’ stuff, not to mention, photography and film, what could be better than Rapha… So, when I found out they were coming to my home town of Edmonton, I of course, left town to ride in Kananaskis. Yes, that’s right, I went riding elsewhere… See, the way it all went down, I didn’t know about the Rapha YEG ride, when I committed to my carefully laid plans to get away to Calgary and go riding with my pal, Ken, in Kananaskis – there was no changing plans, given a multitude of schedules, family obligations and so forth. So, I went off on our own Bikeridr ride, and our pal, Jason Redfern tossed his chapeau in the ring to go on the Rapha ride. In talking with Ferno after, the thing I remember him saying most was, ‘there sure was a lot of merino wool…’ Here’s the scoop from our ‘inside man’:


The Rapha Continental crew came to Alberta at the bequest of Alex Steida, the first North American to hold the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

An invite to the group ride was forwarded to me by the purveyor of this fine website. Driven by curiosity I found myself at Da Capo with about thirty Rapha fans ready to uneasily stampede through the Edmonton River Valley like a Running Room ‘Learn to Run’ clinic.  “They can’t actually be serious leading a group road ride through trails?” was murmured more than once. I didn’t know what to expect.

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August 22, 2012

Invisible Bike Helmet

Remember the last time you rode without a helmet? I do. At least the last time I went on a ‘real’ ride without one. My pal, Ken and I were headed to Kananaskis country. At that point, we hadn’t done much riding in the mountains at all – we were still pretty green on the mtb scene. Ken had researched a trail called Jumpingpound, that sounded pretty good. We drove along, bikes on the roof of Ken’s red, VW Golf, a couple of Edmonton river valley riders, excited about the K-Country adventure ahead. We found the trail parking lot, got out of the car and started to get geared up. Then I heard Ken say, ‘Oh f*@k! I think I forgot my helmet.’ This, of course meant that yes, he had forgotten his helmet.

Faced with the dismal prospect of driving back to Calgary to get it, and losing valuable ride time, you guessed it – we opted to ride anyway, sans Ken’s helmet. Stupid? No, not at all, or at least this was our thinking, because we had a strategy, deciding to share my helmet, switching back and forth allowing one of us to rip while the other held back and took it a bit easy. Needless to say, until that day, neither of us truly realized the impact not wearing a helmet has on you once you’re used to wearing one, especially when riding on the rocky, rooted terrain of Jumpingpound with danger at every turn! Without the helmet, I rode like an old granny on the descents – so cautious in fact, I was probably putting myself more at risk than if I had just let it flow. Bottom line, riding without a helmet is scary and a bonehead move – not wearing one, to me now, is like driving without a seatbelt.

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August 8, 2012

CLIF Bar – Meet the moment

Not every ride can be classified as truly memorable. But these moments do happen, we’ve all experienced it… Rarely planned, instances that always stick with you. It’s to honour these moments in time that CLIF Bar has pulled together Meet the Moment.

The idea is shockingly simple – Share your moment and CLIF Bar will give money to some great outdoor non-profit organizations. Non-profits that we can pretty easily get behind – Like these:
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