Saturday, January 31, 2009

Java waxy birth ride

Skate skiing tomorrow in warm temperatures.
Glide should be awesome compared to last weekend's sandy beach like ski.

Started the morning off with a coffee (with my favourite mug) and a wax job.

Then spent the day at our last prenatal class . . . . next step, birth. I can't believe eight months have gone by so fast.

Returned home for a threshold interval ride.

Note the two plateaus: 2 x 20 minutes in low end threshold

Friday, January 30, 2009

What's in a name?

Yesterday's blog post got me thinking a bit . . . . what's in a name or where does a name come from or why do we have a certain name?

Take my blog for example, the original big ring. It started off as "Craig Barlow: Enurdance Mountain Bike Racer" - but who is going to remember that?! Generic and kind of lame. Then it morphed into, "big ring" (notice the smaller case lettering? Psychologists and headshrinks everywhere take note: is this self loathing or demented narcissism?) mostly out of a need to have a catchy, memorable blog title to keep the masses coming back for more. Finally, it turned into the present blog title, "the original big ring" (still small letters). This came after the formation of the team I helped form, manage, find sponsors for and ride for, Big Ring Racing.

Now I know what you are thinking, "You formed a team based on your self imposed nick name?!" No, or at least that's what I told the team and everyone else. That, and "Big Ring Racing" sounds like a team that can push the big ring and is fast! The real truth, in my warped little pea brain, is that the team is all about me - it's always about me. I changed my blog to "the original big ring" to distance my blog from the team . . . . and ensuring members it really wasn't "Craig Barlow Racing", which if I do say so myself, has a nice ring to it.

But I digress from what I meant to blog about. Maybe someone reading my blog for the first time yesterday might think to themselves, "Man, this guy thinks he's a powerful rider, bragging about breaking his big ring and calling himself big ring! I've looked at his photos and he's a big fatty McFats-Alot. And his race results are sub par, middle of the pack. What gives with the sponsorship and stuff?! He's a putz!"

And I would agree with someone saying all of that, especially the last part . . . I am a putz. But, in my defense, let me explain . . . .

Have you ever known someone, or known of someone, who was rather large in stature? A rather hefty bloke - big and tall? For example,

Derived from the persons physical attributes we can use the poetic device "juxtaposition" to come up with a name for the fella above, i.e. 'Tiny'. By placing the name Tiny to the obviously HUGE dude on the scooter, we can illustrate contrast.

Another example,

We might call this guy, 'Arnie', after Arnold Schwarzenegger. Two contrasting things: skinny dude and name associated with famous strong guy.

One more,

Maybe you remember this from 2007, Miss South Carolina. We might give her the nickname, 'Einstein', or perhaps 'Rocket Scientist'. Again, opposites.

My point is, my blog name (self imposed nickname) is "big ring" due to the fact that I am not a powerful rider and have great difficulty pushing the big ring. One might associate and be mislead by the name, thinking anybody with a name like "big ring" must be fast and/or powerful. This couldn't be further from the truth.

So to all of you who I have mislead in thinking you were reading the ramblings and going-ons of a fast and/or powerful cyclist, I apologize.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Feats of Strength

I must be doing something right in my training because I exhibited two extradorinary, beyond human, feats of strength today. First, on the way to work I snapped my large chain ring in half.

I was crossing a busy street, stood up to pedal and SNAP!
I've never seen that happen before.
You can see in the photo below that the head on the chain ring bolt broke off, probably causing the ring to bend away from the crank, weaken and break. The daily freezing temperatures probably didn't help either.

They don't call me big ring for nothing!

Then, on returning home from work I open my backpack and the zipper tears out and splits.
I've had this bag for the past 12 years and it has served me very well all over the world and at home - it will be missed. But the timing couldn't be better with the luck we had the other night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prenatal, skiing on a beach, intervals and Banff

Two days without a post. Yes, things have been busy to say the least. Well, a combination of things being busy and me being lazy. I will admit though it's more of the former than the latter.

Be thankful it's only a cartoon. You wouldn't believe the shit that's on the interweb on labour and birth!

Prenatal Nervousness
Chris and I spent all day Saturday at a prenatal class. I was certainly dreading the day. I have ZERO experience with birth of any kind and a weak stomach for any kind of discharge, human or not, below the female equator. It was certainly an eye opening experience and very humbling. Throughout the day I had a nervous giddy laughter that I had to keep in check for fear of bursting out in chuckles during class with ten other couples present. I felt like a carbonated drink that's been shaken, waiting to explode, while witnessing videos and hearing what's inevitably going to happen. It has made this whole baby thing very real and with five weeks to go (maybe sooner, maybe later) it's getting real-er by the moment.

Skiing on the Beach
Sunday I hooked up with Zamboni, Mason and PapaG for a skate ski in the park. From the onset I had a number of things working against my favour for a favourable ski: one, I suck; two, I haven't been doing a lot of skate skiing this winter; three, the fellas are all faster and more consistent than I am; four, the snow was very cold and thus slow; and five, I suck. I have two speeds for skate skiing: stopped and redline. Unfortunately for me, in order to actually ski, I had to go redline pretty much the entire outing. My only consolation was that the boys suffered a little bit too with the cold snow temperatures made skate skiing comparable to skiing on a beach.

I'm really digging the power tap and actually, somewhat look forward to my training rides (talk to me again about this in another month). The little yellow box on my bars keep my little grey coloured brain occupied with numbers and info making the time tick away that much faster. Thanks to 'coach' for helping me find my zones, I'm working on some lower end threshold intervals which beats sitting at the same wattage for an entire workout. There's no guessing or estimating involved, and as Warren puts it, "It's a no bullshit meter."

Analysis from one 20 minute interval session at 70% of my MAP. Not sure if I should show this as my competition for this upcoming race season is most likely scouting my every training move.

Yesterday right after work I shot home on the commuter pig bike and jumped on the trainer - weird, I rode home outside to ride inside. Anyway, I got a good ride in yesterday (see above interval for part of it) then got ready so Chris and I could head out to hook up with some friends for dinner and take in the Banff Film Festival. The Bytowne was a full house with the healthy outdoorsie types eager to see this year's presentation of climbing, base jumping, skiing, kayaking, etc. At in the intermission the film presenters had a door prize draw of items from the sponsors of the film festival. Chris and I scored this little baby(did I say 'baby'? man, what's on my brain?!?!):

I was looking at replacing an older pack that has done it's tour of duty over the past ten or so years.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Young Grasshopper

King came over last night to learn the art of waxing. Be patient young grasshopper.
I'm no waxing master (more like a waxing fool), but was happy to pass on what I know.
King's got a race coming up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hey Mr. Dejay

While racing out at the BC Bike Race last July, I had the good fortune to meet Dejay, hang out with him for a bit and ride with him (actually he rode past me . . . a few times) during the race. A lot of fast guys got chips on their shoulders with even bigger egos to boot. Not Dejay. Very down to earth, funny and super friendly.

Check out the interview with him and teammate, Fuzzy, over on Bike Rumor.
You can also check their links here: Dejay & Fuzzy

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today's four minute MAP test was redemption for Saturday's time trial explosion.

Careful what you talk about. Via e-mail today I was chatting to 'the coach' about my testing with the PowerTap and trying to find my power zones. He suggested I do a four minute MAP test. Basically, it tests your Maximum Aerobic Power, needless to say it hurt like hell. By the end of it my lungs and throat felt like a noobie ganja smoker at a reggae concert, and I was as dizzy. It took me a good while to recover from it before I was able to push my lungs back into my body through my nose with a pencil.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Mo

Don't know why, but I've been suffering from lack of motivation for the past two days. Feeling fat and slow will do that to you. And the best yet, while trying to get motivated I decided to review my training schedule . . . and realized that I'm two weeks behind schedule. D'oh.

**late edit: had to change the 'motivation' poster, some reason the other one disappeared

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kaaa - Booooom

Warming up, getting ready to TT while watching stage 14 of the '07 Tour. Dig the double chin at the end . . . . Fatty-McFats-Alot. Tis the season to be losing weight - it's coming off surely, but slowly.

I attempted another 4.8km TT yesterday morning to help nail down my power profile. I suck at time trialing. Suck in a big way. One reason, I never do it. I have no idea how to pace myself. I guess this is something that you learn to do and having a power profile that lets you know what kind of wattage that you can push for certain amounts of time would help.

Training with the PowerTap takes all of the guess work out of how hard I should be training. I'm pretty certain I've got my endurance zone dialed in. Heavy & hard intervals are not in the plans for a little while, so I've got some time to find my high end zones. Good thing too because I blew up, in a big way, during the TT with only a km to go.

Big ring everywhere. Will have to do another test later in the week, which I am not looking forward to . . . I don't like hurting this early in the year.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Velo Vogue - Tall Tree Cycles

Get your urban bike fashion on at the new Tall Tree store in Westboro tonight. Word has it that it's sold out, so you may need to sneak in.
Here's an article in the Ottawa Citizen about the event.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Moasty Toasty

I figured if I'm man enough to bike to work in this weather during the day, I could be more of a man if I skied at night. Hence, making me "the man".

To be honest, my commute to work ain't that long - but it beats driving. And despite not being that long, this past week I have still managed to feel pretty bloody cold by the time I get to work regardless of distance.

So, not being the only one feeling the need to prove his manhood last night, Curvy Butt joined me. Why would we test out 'manhood' by skiing at night, on back country trails, in minus thirty degree temperatures risking freezing off our dangling manhood parts? What else are you going to do on a Thursday night? I've been sitting on the trainer the past two nights and needed a break. Besides, the wind was calm and it was a starry night - perfect for a bromantic back country xc ski romp in the woods.

My eyes nearly frozen shut. My camera died right after this photo as the temperature sucked all the juice out of it.

It's all about dressing for the conditions. Despite being all frosty in the photo above, I was actually nice and moasty toasty. You didn't want to stop too long though - thankfully waxing wasn't an issue last night. Fun ski. Lots of darkened ups and downs. Curvy Butt took a wicked header near the end of along twisty run out. I laughed so hard snot came out my nose and then froze before I had stopped laughing. Good fun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bundle Up

Bundle up kiddies - it's cold out there.
Had to really bundle up yesterday morning (and will have to do so all this week) due to the wicked cold temperatures - you'd think I lived in Alaska or something. Yesterday morning it was minus twenty six with a wind chill of minus 39 degrees Celsius (that's -38.2 Fahrenheit for you Yanks). Exposed skin can freeze within a couple of minutes. My tongue was actually getting a little wind burned from the cold air I was breathing in; it felt all buzzy and numb. Yes, I am wearing a toque, or touque or tuque, under my helmet.
Still, it was better riding the bike than sitting in a car, in heavy traffic,
during a bus strike - suckas!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The African Cyclist

This is just awesome to read about.

Papa G sent me this article on an African cycling project. You should read it. It is very interesting, I found it inspiring, it made me hopeful to see in the future and curious as to why this hasn't happened sooner.

You can also check out more about their journey on their blog The African Cyclist.

Some of you know that I do some volunteer work with Bicycles for Humanity. This wonderful organization ships bicycles to Namibia for kids to get to school on, nurses & doctors to make visits and enabling families to survive. On our last 'bike drive' we set aside a half a dozen or so better quality bikes for a developing race team to use. How cool is that!?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chain me to the wall

LinkTorture dungeon . . . . is riding the trainer really that bad?

'Tis the season to be riding on the trainer in the basement.
Torture? Perhaps.
A necessary evil? Yes, in my opinion, if you want to be fit for the season.
I am not quite as fortunate as riders further south who can ride all year long.

The PowerTap is helping the time go by faster and adds something to focus on. I am looking forward to finally getting my power zones dialed in. Once that happens there will be no guess work and no wasted time on how hard I should be pedaling.

Today's workout. I think I need to change the battery in the heart rate strap - it seemed to be all over the place (the red line) and at times it didn't seem to be picking up a reading.

After work I jumped right on the trainer. The goal was to keep a steady, one hour endurance paced ride with watts plugged in at just a wee bit above 200. I'm still running tests to find my ideal power levels, so 200 watts might be too high or too low. I'm finding that one test is not enough and am doing a few tests at different intervals to find an average. But sitting at just above 200 watts felt fine today.

Today I added in two 30 second tests to check the power I could throw down. A little disappointing in the power department, but then again I've barely been on the bike since November (this was like my seventh trainer ride), so lots of room for improvement.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bike Plow

My back hurts and I am sick of shoveling snow this winter. Maybe will have to try this instead:

- looks like a piece of stove pipe cut open to create a plow-of-sorts.

Or this:

- yeah, he's really getting the job done; much faster than shoveling! At least the guy is actually moving some snow around instead of driving over it like the dude above.

Both are pretty lame when it comes down to it and don't seem to work too well at all. On the other hand, I bet a lot of inventions came out of people doing stuff like this.


Second ski of the weekend yesterday - little bit of back county and a little bit of track set made for a good ski.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I was feeling down yesterday and really didn't feel like doing anything. It's been one week since we said good-bye to Jacks. It's been a long, quiet week in the house. Everywhere I look there are memories of him. I come into a room and my eyes, out of habit, look for him expecting to see him laying in one of his favourite spots.

I knew that sitting around the house is no good for me, physically or mentally, so I forced myself to hook up with a group skiing yesterday. Tobin, Rick, Tanya and Al were all heading out for a long day of skiing in preparation of the Canadian Ski Marathon in February. 80km of skiing, back-to-back days for a total of 160km AND spending the night under the stars . . . . hardcore.

Tobin, Rick (both shooting for their Coureur des Bois Gold), Tanya (skiing for her first CSM and Coureur des Bois Bronze) and Al (who has done this many time will be helping out race staff by skiing as a sweep both days).

The trails were in pristine condition yesterday. Demsis is finally starting to learn how to groom properly. I didn't complete their 5+ hour ski, and opted to turn back after a little over an hour into the trails = just over two hours of skiing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Anonymously Famous

After the last day of work, before Christmas break, we were heading out the door when the mailman arrived with a big envelope. Inside it was this . . . .

Remember The Goat? Well, he up and left North Carolina for the high mountains of Colorado. One day back in late Summer/early Fall he was flipping through Mountain Flyer Magazine (Number 10) - a Colorado specific mtn bike magazine which is published quarterly - and came across a report on The BC Bike Race and this photo.

He instantly recognized me and Curvy Butt's ugly mugs.
This photo was taken during stage six - it was a wicked fun stage: Squamish.

Despite not stopping us for an interview and taking our names (and I probably would have stopped) we made our way into a cycling magazine. Personally, I figured I would have stood a better chance of making it into a different magazine.

". . . . two riders enjoy another stage of the BC Bike Race."

I'm not sure how much 'enjoying' we were doing after five previous days of racing . . . . but it really was a wicked day.

Thanks Jeremy for sending up the magazine!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I made a few cosmetic changes to the blog last night. Nothing too drastic: font change, '09 race schedule, new sponsorship links, etc. Just trying to keep busy this week.

After catching up on some of the blogs I follow, I realized that I have not done a 'year in review' or 'best of' type post yet. I believe last year I did it one year from the start date of my blog. So, that's what I am going to do this year too. I'm not really there yet in terms of feeling the 'best of' anything after the past week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Exercise is supposed to release endorphins that make you feel better, so this is what I did today after work for an hour. I also got out for a skate ski last night. Anything to occupy the mind and keep me busy right now is good.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thank You

The past few days have been pretty difficult to get through, but have been made a little easier by all the e-mails, blog comments, phone calls and people dropping by the house to let us know how sorry they are for our loss. Chris and I very much appreciate the thoughts and prayers sent our way.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


December 1, 2000 - January 3, 2008

Today Chrissie and I said good bye to our Jacks. He passed away this morning with his head in my hand, rubbing his ear, telling him he was a good boy, surrounded by love. We spent the last four days of his life constantly by his side, taking him for short walks, rubbing his belly and playing with him and all of his toys. We are so full of sorrow, with heavy hearts and tears in our eyes, but are managing to get through this very sad time with all the happy memories we have of him. Our home will be a little quieter, a little emptier and not quite ever the same.

We love you very much Jackie Boy and will miss you forever.