Racing

Who is Hot Sauce?!
October 20, 2014

Who is Hot Sauce?!

If you’ve been to an Alberta CX race this season, you’ve probably seen the boldly branded Shepard Fairey inspired Hot Sauce t-shirts and cycling caps around. It was the caps that I noticed first, poking out from under more and more helmets at each start-line as the season progressed. Then, at the Dark Knight I saw a booth, and I walked up and asked, ‘So… what is Hot Sauce’, to which the fellow behind the merch table replied, ‘the question is, who is Hot Sauce…?’

Meet Mark McConnell.

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Drie Zussen - Hardcore
October 15, 2014

The 5 Stages of a DNF

Did… Not… Finish…

There’s nothing more humiliating than seeing a DNF next to your name on a results sheet. There’s no space for excuses there… Just three letters, staring back at you – and everyone else, for that matter.

Sure, if you taco your wheel, shred your derailleur, or snap your femur, it’s pretty legit. But what about that feeling of complete helplessness mid-race… When you’re out of breath, miserable, aching… Isn’t that what cross is all about?

Sure you could tough it out to the finish, “but why?” asks the little voice inside your head… Or at least that’s what it said to me.
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October 6, 2014

Dark Knight – CX Nirvana

I’m not joking when I say that the highlight of my entire cycling season, is hands down the Dark Knight Cross Race.

This year reassured me of that fact, without question.

It wasn’t that many years ago now. Well, okay, it was probably 5-6 years ago… Dang. Anyway, I remember my focus was still on MTB, fully. To me MTB was all there was. I didn’t do road or want to, and I’d never even heard of CX really. I was out for a trail ride on my own in the valley, and I ran into Pepper. I didn’t know her, but I recognized her. I said ‘Hey…’. She said ‘Hey’. I asked if she was going to Canmore for what I think was the Iron Lung. She said ‘No. I’m already in cross mode.’ I didn’t know what that meant, but I said something like ‘Oh yeah’, and nodded knowingly. Then she added, ‘It’s all about cross’ and then smirked… I didn’t get it, but I never forgot it, and I still remember it today because I’ve caught myself saying it more and more the last few seasons. For me, when it comes to racing, it really is ‘all about cross’ for many reasons – and the Dark Knight is the Acme of cross races.

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Spy vs. Spy
October 30, 2013

Dark Knight Throwdown!

Bikeridr is self-described as ‘the adventures, rants and ramblings of Ken & Sheldon, two guys who like to ride bikes.’ Truth be told though, we also really like to race bikes. Sadly we just don’t get to do this that often, especially not against each other. Being that as it may, we did manage to line up in Calgary at the 2013 Dark Knight for one all out, no holds barred, battle of the bleedin’ ages!

The Pre-Race: A lot was at stake this year. Not only was this the only chance we had to race against each other, but back at the 2012 Dark Knight we’d had a close one, resulting in Ken taking the win coming in 9th, while I rolled across the line just 2 positions back, in 11th. In reality, although we were close in standings, there wasn’t any true ‘battling’ going on. The whistle went. Ken surged off the line, and although I kept it close, he held his lead right to the end that year. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but he’d won handily, and all I could do was put it behind me and look to 2013, which was what I did… This year, waiting for the whistle, staged right on the front row, I was absolutely determined to beat Ken – or blow up tryin’! Some key factors were stacked in my favour. Firstly, I had been riding a bit more this year so my base fitness was better, plus I already had 5-6 2013 season CX races under my belt and felt like I was on form. Ken on the other hand, although he’d been getting his miles, only had 2 races in at that point, so I didn’t expect him to have much ‘punch’ and I assumed he’d be rusty in the turns. Secondly, I was on the much lighter bike. My bike comes in at a svelte 16lbs, while Ken’s is more like a boat anchor weighing about 21lbs. Hard to say exactly how much this impacts things, but it certainly does make a difference and I wasn’t about to ask him to trade whips for funzies.

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Fat Tire Tuesday
May 30, 2013

Fat Tire Tuesdays

Bike racing can be a daunting world to get into. I should know. It wasn’t that many years ago that I finally warmed up to the idea, after breaking into the local MTB scene through Pedalhead group rides. As I met more and more people who rode, and found out that some of them actually raced, I realized that I might be able to do it as well. For me though, my first race was a full-on ABA event. I can’t say I was scared, but I’ll admit that I was definitely very nervous going in, so nervous in fact that I remember I almost pulled the chute! So, if you’re like I was, a rider, interested in racing but still standing on the edge of the pool scared to dive in, what do you do?

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Suffer Face
May 8, 2013

Power Drain

I’ve only got two races in the bag so far this year. The first was the Blizzard winter race and the second was a spring series road race. All in, I’d say I felt pretty happy with my performance in both, taking the bottom step of the podium in the Blizzard race, and managing to run with some of the big dogs for ‘most’ of the road race last weekend, before getting shot out the back of the lead group on the 4th lap. What was really interesting about this race to me though, was my power data and being able to see the sequential drops in power, lap by lap…

When I popped, my power literally dropped off a cliff on lap 4/5 – it was pretty astounding… I went from an average power of 229watts on lap 3, to an average of 196w on lap 4. Then it dropped off another cliff on lap 5, practically flat-lining like a patient suffering cardiac arrest at 172w… I was cooked! And it didn’t matter how hard I pushed, or how big of a suffer-face I made because I was done and done.

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Redbull Hill Chasers
April 3, 2013

King of the Hill

A couple of years ago, I took part in a sort of ‘cycling scavenger hunt’ across Calgary. It was fun day, with lots of hard, fast riding through the city from location to location. One of the stages was a King of the hill Challenge – a race up the road to the top of C.O.P. Somehow I won this. Likely due to some timing error, but, hey… it was a fun – pain and suffering filled fun.

After that event, I filed the concept in the back of my mind for future reference. There is an entire discipline of cycling dedicated to downhill and yes, there is more than a fair share of climbing in road and XC MTB racing, but why not have a hill climbing event? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some else already thought of this…

Enter the Redbull Hill Chasers!

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Tour of Qatar (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
March 26, 2013

Team vs. Indy Racing

In the sad wake of my home bike shop and team closing down, last year I raced as an ‘independent’ for the entire season. Overall it was fine for the time being, as I didn’t want to rush my decision to join with this team or that team right away… I just wanted to take the season and race on my own and ponder what was most important to me about riding, and racing.

For me, racing as an independent was pretty painless, due to the relationships I had built over the years here locally. I could usually find a group ride to join in on, or a deal on parts & service somewhere. I also had no obligations to take all my business to one bike shop (I could spread the love a bit), or feel the need to get involved with organizing club events and activities. It was essentially a situation where I could just ride and race for me. This provided valuable flexibility and freedom that I enjoyed, especially given my busier home and work life last year. But the obvious downside was not ‘really’ belonging to any one group – always feeling a little bit disconnected. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to this, but as the season went on I started to take stock and realize I was missing out on one of the most important aspects of riding and racing – feeling like you’re part of the community and helping to sustain and grow it, essentially the very reason Bikeridr exists in the first place.

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Death of MTB
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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Fatbike
February 27, 2013

Fatbike: Fad or Revolution?

Is the Fatbike revolution here? I’ve been hearing the term for a few seasons now and I remember seeing one for the first time back in 2010. In a word, although I thought they were interesting with their giant clown-like tires, I also thought they were ‘ridiculous’. I wondered why anyone would want to ride a bike so cumbersome and heavy? Through my ‘racing’ lens, the bikes made about as much sense to me as a unicycle or a Penny Farthing – sure they might be unique and fun to mess around on, but really, what’s the point beyond that? I was perfectly happy to leave what I considered the Fatbike fad, to others. - Read More -

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