Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ottawa - Wakefield - Cascade Loop

I took yesterday off work to go to a couple medical appointments, but didn't let the day go to waste. Nothing like mid-week for a long ride.

Thanks to Rodd for putting me onto this new route. The loop that I usually do is on two busy, open and not very interesting roads. The back roads that he suggested I take were way, way nicer.

110+ kms route all said and done. Though according to Map My Ride it was 123 km.

With a new set of tires (700 x 30 c Grand Bois), the Fisti I were out the door and on the bike for 6:30 am. Beauty day - sunny, hardly a gust of wind. It was cool in the early hours. My toes and head were pretty cold for the first two hours. Riding in the sun gradually warmed them up.
I rode through the park. It was empty and had it all to myself.

Roads on the Quebec side can be a little rough - cobblestone rough.
Anyone recognize this stretch? Hint: it's near the park.
The Fisticuff with the Grand Bois took the sting out of the rough roads. The steel ride accompanied by the smooth, fat & fast tires made it a very enjoyable ride.

Covered bridge in Wakefield.

Lots of quiet (car free) roads that rolled and turned. Scenic and beautiful.
The Mt Cascade road gradually led you to the base of the ski hill.

Where there is a ski hill, there is climbing. The photo above doesn't do the wall justice.

From on top of the climb. An 18% grade. Steep.
There were two or three 11% grades that I got to go descend.

Stopped at the bakery in Chelsea on the way home to fill the bottles and get a little nutrition. Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with "C". That oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is almost as big as my head.

I cruised back home through the park. Giant was parked in the P8 parking lot set up to do demos. If I had more time I would have gone over to check things out and talk a bit to the mechanics, but I had to run.

Legs felt great. Bike road perfectly. So nice to ride some different routes. Looking forward to the Tall Tree ride on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


When I was a young punk going through post secondary schooling, get a few drinks into me, and like Forrest Gump's momma use to say, "You never know what you're going to get." Some nights/days I'd be a fun loving drunk, sometimes sloppy fall down drunk, sometimes I'd be the guy grinding away on your hip on the dance floor thinking you were my date, but most times I'd be a surly drunk looking to pick a fight.

I don't know why . . . I don't remember why . . . . I was stupid (some might say that I still am), young and I was drunk. But leave it to me to go find the biggest, meanest looking bastard in the bar and end up picking a fight with him (sometimes her). And nine times out of ten I'd end up on the floor getting the boots put to me. One time out of ten, I'd get the first shot in, miss, fall down, wet myself, and pass out. What can I say, I'm a lover, not a fighter.

I got to thinking about my drinking/fighting days on the way home from my ride yesterday. Not sure why. I was dead tired. Which, a little off topic . . . want to know a sure sign that you worked your arse off? How fast do you spin home? My cool down yesterday was pretty s-l-o-w . . . . as I was saying, I got to thinking about picking fights.

Well, I'm looking to pick a fight with the fastest, meanest bastard in the Ottawa area who will ride with me in the Gats. I'm convinced that I won't get much faster than I've been in earlier years on my own. It's easy to stop pushing yourself if you're hurting. I'm convinced that to become a better/faster rider, you need to ride with better and faster riders. [*disclaimer: that's not to say my old riding buddies are old & slow]
So, who wants to dance?

Go ahead, make my day.
Be aware, I tend to end up bringing a knife to a gun fight.

This is someone's chance to make me their beeatch. Not like in the prison sense (I don't float my boat that way sailor), but someone who regularly has a bad day and wants to kick the proverbial dog (please, kick my arse, not your dog's), someone who is into a little S&M, someone who enjoys watching someone else suffer.

I'd really rather prefer it that you're female if you are going to show for the ride dressed like this. And, I don't really want to be tied up - it's harder to pedal and breath.

I'm looking for someone who is going to push me to ride faster, work me to get up the hill, tell me what I am doing wrong, but also wait at the top. You can yell at me, you can spray me with water, you can call me names, taunt and tease.

I'm serious. Applicants please e-mail me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I managed to crawl out of my pit of despair and self loathing long enough to go for a ride today after work yesterday. The idea was to punish myself for not making the race Sunday and suffer a loop of the park going hard as I could. So that's what I did.

I found it a difficult task managing my efforts on such a hilly route. You don't want to blow your load on every climb and have nothing for the downs and lead-ups. The idea was to keep a steady and consistent pace throughout, working harder than I normally do, but saving enough to complete the loop. I would redline it as I approached the crest of every climb, just enough to make me foam at the mouth and have snot running down my nose. Isn't that a sign you're working hard?

Things were going well, hurting, suffering in the hot, hot sun (29 degrees Celcius today / 84.2 F!) when I was spinning down a descent at about 43km/hr when BANG! Blew my front tire. Didn't hit a hole, didn't tear a side-wall, nadda. Just fatigue I guess. A wee bit scary, but I managed to steer to the grassy shoulder. Quick tube change and it was back to the suffering. Lots of carrots in the park to chase down - so many people out - nice to see.

Didn't take the camera, so here are a few shots (from my recovery ride on Friday) of Spring springing up in Ottawa:

<----- Experimental Farm and the Arboretum ------> tree in blossom

<------ one set of locks on the Rideau Cannal

------> tip toe through the tullips

Stopped by Curvy Butt's place. This is the closet thing to him riding in a while. Get off your curvaceous, bodaceous booty Curvy Butt and come riding.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Eat Worms

I didn't ride my bike yesterday. I was bummed out for missing the race yesterday morning. Instead of riding I thought I'd make use of a cool, grey day - opting to ride Monday in the hot, sunny weather forecast. So, I wallowed in misery while working on a flagstone path that I've been putting down on the side of my house. Pretty mindless, monotonous work - plenty of time to think. And in the mood that I was in, a black cloud hung around my head.

Stupid dumbass. Why didn't you wake up? Should have set two alarms. Should have gotten a ride with someone. Should have gone for a ride this morning to make up for missing the race. Should-a, should-a, should-a. Then I took the boxing gloves out and began to really work myself over - you would have sucked arse at the race anyway, you're fat, you're slow, why do you even bother. And what's up with the blog?! Fugg it. I'm quiting it, erasing the blog and throwing in the towel. No body loves me, everybody hates me, let's eat worms.

Yes, my mind sometimes works like that.

Then I got to thinking . . . . if I quit the blog, quit riding (and thus not having anything to blog about) and racing, what would my *huge* fan base do?! Then I got to thinking about some of the lovely fan e-mail and comments I have received over the past couple of years. Here are a few:

Dear Big Ring,

I just wanted to write to tell you how your blog has given me a reason to get up each and every morning. Before coming across your blog I was seriously considering saying goodbye to this cruel, cruel world. Now, I can live vicariously through your experiences.
Thank you so much for giving me hope.

Joe Blog Reader

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Dear Craig,

Long time reader, first time e-mail sender.
I was browsing over on the Vassago Team Blog News and noticed that your recent race results were not listed alongside of all the other Vassago Team riders. That's a shame. What's up with that? From what I understand, you were included on the team basically out of pity. They saw a fat, slow, untalented bicycle driver, which no bike company would touch with a ten foot pole, and gave you a spot (again, out of pity) on the team. I'm guessing that their only hope of getting anything out of you worthwhile was your Naked Gear Reviews (which as of late have been lacking - how about getting on that fatty!). Besides that . . . . I think you're swell.



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How could I not begin to feel all tingly and good all over thinking about the above
fan mail that I receive?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Start time of the race, which I didn't make.

This year's OBC Almost 'Paris - Roubaix' was a sleeper for me. Meaning I was asleep when I should have been lining up to ride. I should be out there riding in this event as I type. Shit.

I don't know what happened. I guess I must have switched off the alarm clock after hitting snooze or something. I don't even remember it going off. Damn it! I've been having really bad sleeps lately, restless sleeps. I get jimmy legs bad at night, especially when I'm riding lots, so I kick like I'm in a bad 80's kung fu movie. The combination of staying up late watching the playoffs, a hot upstairs bedroom (yesterday was the first time we had the windows open this Spring - it was so nice out yesterday, and warm!), jimmy legs and having a difficult time falling asleep . . . . recipe for not waking up on time. Shit.

I had every intention on going and was looking forward to riding the Fisti. I had everything packed and by the door, registration form filled out, bottles ready to go. All I had to do was wake up, get dressed, pack the car, stop at Tim Horton's for coffee and a bagel, and a short 40 minute car ride to Almonte. Fugg!

The rain has even held off (for now) and it's not as cold as I expected. This is going to be one of those times that I am going to regret. Shit.

Ever sleep in and miss a race?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

OBC Almont 'Paris-Roubaix'

This is where I'll be racing/riding tomorrow. Riding - slash - racing because "this is not a race". Not a race my ass. You line up some serious riders next to each other, whether it's a club or group ride, riding with your buddies, or a "tour" and it becomes a hammer fest. And the fact that the "tour" lists results no longer makes it a tour, but rather a race.

Either way, another event that I am looking forward to. Looking forward to it except that it's going to be a little chilly (especially after today's 29 degree temperatures), and wet, and an early start, and that it's my fourth day of riding in a row.

Hitting the snooze button is looking like a good alternative.

Stay tuned for the post race report.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Hills are Clear (almost)

Today was my first ride in three days. Life has gotten busy this week and the weather wasn't cooperating on Monday and Tuesday. So, I headed to the hills to rip my legs off.

Champlain Look-off - Gatineau Park

I rode from my place all the way to Champlain Look-off without having to step off the bike and walk through any snow. Still a few snowy spots on the roads, but there are paths through them all.

Fortune Parkway still covered in snow. I was able to get down just past Fortune Lake
- couldn't be bothered hiking through the snow.

I rode the Gatineau Parkway to the Champlain turn off and up Blacks. After going up to the look-off I headed back and rode down the Fortune Parkway to check it out. I suspected that it would still have snow on it and I was right. I reckon with the warm temperatures this weekend (30 degrees!) that it will knock the shit out of the snow and Fortune will open right up.

Bumpy, lumpy and cracked.

I found that the Fortune Parkway to be quite rough. Maybe all the frost isn't out of the ground yet . . . don't know. It's got lots of new cracks in it and a few sections you really need to hold on to the bars cause it's like the rodeo - buckin' bronkin' fun!

Stopped at Bate Island coming home across the Champlain Bridge to have a look see at the kaykers playing. Ottawa is kind of a mecca for paddlers. Lots of big water on the Ottawa River.

Guys to the right were waiting in queue to ride one of the waves that buddy above was carving on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Looks like I'll be finally touching down on dirt and some sweet, sweet single track on Saturday. So, in preparation for it I decided to mount up a new pair of tires on my Stans rims.

From my experience and things I've read, there are a few different ways of going tubeless and mounting your tires. Here are the steps I took and worked for me:

One: Stan's Tire Sealant

Two: favourite rims - taped and all ready to go.

Three: I sprinkle a very generous amount of pepper into my tire. I've read a number of 'how to' and reviews from guys using pepper and even arts & crafts sparkly glitter with their homemade solution and even with the commercial stuff to create more 'chunks' to seal the tiny holes in the tire. If I had glitter I would have used it, cause glittery sparkles would be fun and pretty. Plus when/if you flat you'd have something to talk about and cheer you up . . . . cause everyone loves glitter.
I'm using a Kenda 2.1 29'er Nevegal. They are very new, used only once or twice (with tubes) prior to setting them up tubeless. I've found that Kenda tires seal up and mount very easily. It helps if the tire has been mounted previously on the rim - this helps it take shape and seat better when you do finally add air. New tires can be difficult to mount and there are a few tricks to getting them to. My previously run Nevegals didn't have an issue seating.

Four: shake, shake, shake that bottle and make sure it's inverted - you want the chunky bits that tend to sink to the bottom of the container in your tire. I shake it upside down with my finger over the nozzle, and pour it while inverted. This ensures getting lots of chunky bits instead of mostly liquid.

Five: while the wheel is hanging (I use the handlebar of a bike while it's in the stand) I pour in the sealant (two scoops for a 2.1), then slowly work my way around the tire seating the bead over the rim. With the sealant at the bottom of the hanging wheel, I pat the tire into place trying to get the bead to seat before adding air.

Six: a bucket of soapy, sudsy water and brush.

Seven: I brush on the soap suds (you don't need tons) all around the bead/rim of the tire on both sides. This helps the bead slide into place once I add air. There are various ways and times to do this step, but I find this works best for me.

Eight: with my air compressor (you can also use air cartridges) I fill the tire to about 40psi. Notice the shrader/presta valve adapter? I have a shitty tire air filler dealie that came with the air compressor that doesn't work very well at all. I find the adapter and air gun nozzle do the trick perfectly. You should hear the bead snap/pop into place.

Nine: once the tire is filled up I shake the wheel back and fourth away from me (thumbs away, thumbs towards, thumbs away, thumbs towards, etc.) with the wheel in front of me. I start with the valve on the bottom and slowly work my way around the wheel until I get back to where I started. I shake the wheel for about 15 seconds per section.

Ten: put on some soapy suds around the bead/rim area to see where air is leaking. If you see a spot leaking air, orient the wheel in such a way that the sealant can pool in that area and shake the wheel back and fourth making sure that sealant is being covered in that problem spot.

Eleven: sorry no photo (forgot to take one) - I will lay the wheel down on the bucket, parallel to the floor (ie. brake rotor facing down, spokes resting on the lip of the bucket) to allow the sealant to cover one entire side of the tire. I'll let it sit like that for 15 - 3o minutes, go back, do the shaking thing all over again, then flip the wheel so that the other side is facing down (ie. cassette side facing down).

Save me Jebus!
Twelve: apply your favourite Deity to your valve to protect you and your ride.

If anything I've written is unclear, you can visit the Stans No Tubes site and get all this info in a more articulate and precise written, photo and/or video format.

I was able to mount a set of tires, on rims, with sealant and full of air in about half an hour. Both tires went on very easily and are holding air - I have not added any since and it's been two days.

I've only been running Stan's tubeless rims for the last quarter of last season, so I don't have a lot of time on them. And to be honest, I don't know how I completely feel about them. Last Fall I had two bad rides due to the tubeless set-up, which in hindsight may have had more to do with wrong tire choice (ie. thin side walls in rocky single track) and a ripped sidewall. However, the rides where things went smoothly were incredible - extra suspension due to low air pressure and unbelievable traction. This by no means is a review of the rim or system itself, but rather a hacker job 's step-by-step how to mount a tubeless system. Mid season I should do a review of my experiences once I have had more time on them and with various tire choices.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shortest Trip South Ever

Leonard and I headed to the south of the border right after work today to pick up a team order at the Corporate Centre. In the past we've had UPS deliver the team's sponsorship packages, but get nailed in brokerage fees, taxes, duty, and so on. You hope that each time you go through the experience it won't be like the last one . . . . . kind of like going to the doctors for a rectal exam. You know it's necessary, hope for the best and wish for the best outcome. However, it usually ends in realizing his hands are on both of your shoulders while the exam is going on. Eeeiiyiiiiyeeee!

From Ottawa to the border crossing in Ogdensburg, NY is only about 45 minutes. A quick trip, well worth the drive to avoid the cost involved with shipping.

As soon as we crossed the border we saw this parked at the US customs office.

Camo and big ass vee-hic-cils.
What?! No roof mounted machine gun.

From the time we cleared customs, heading into the the US, to the time we picked up our goodies and crossed back into Canada was approximately 11 minutes. No lie. Lenny was expecting, er . . . . hoping for, a cavity search - but to his disappointment things went smoothly. Not only is getting things shipped there way cheaper, it's way faster. UPS and guaranteed three day delivery my ass! I've never gotten anything from UPS in a timely manner.

Bridge out of the US into the True North Strong and Free.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm out of line?! You're out of line!

Sitting in front of the computer can't help.

Actually, I am out of line . . . . alignment that is.

Ever since the BC race I've had a nagging painful hamstring issue. Over the winter it seemed to get worse. I was getting massage therapy and A.R.T. back in January and February, which I thought was helping, but the problem kept persisting. I finally got my family doctor to refer me to a sports specialist doctor.

Last week I went to see Dr. Frankovich. I've seen her before for a problem left knee and she put me in the right direction, so I was sure she'd get to the root of the problem. And she did.

Apparently my left hip and leg are out of alignment. It's cause is from muscle, tendon and ligament imbalance. Also, despite stretching regularly, my left hamstring is super tight. What's more is because of the imbalance I am also experiencing localized sciatica from the left glute to the back of my left knee. As a result of this mis-alignment (is that a word?), my left leg and hip is slightly turned in and the leg is a wee bit shorter.

So it's off to physiotherapy I go later this week. The good news is she wants me to keep riding, since I experience no pain while on the bike.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Road Loopity Loop

Sunny skies, warm'ish temperatures, and little wind - a perfect day for a long ride.

Lenny & I sitting and waiting for Gilles at Champlain Bridge, it's 12:30 pm and no Gilles. Not a surprise. Gilles has a time management problem. What was a surprise is that two minutes later he showed up. Yay!

On our route to do the Ottawa-Wakefield -Cantley Loop, we rode . . . and walked . . . . through Gatineau Park. All the snow that I came across on Wednesday was melted. I wasn't expecting to find more, but found it we did. This long patch was on the hill just before the Kingsmere overpass.

OBR and sunny blue skies.

More blue skies as the fellas climb away from Wakefield. Gilles should have been flying up this with heaps of energy after stuffing his face at the bakery in town. Coke and sugar, sticky buns - lunch of champions.

Lenny and Gilles on the climb just pass Edelweiss. But wait, where is Stefano?

Peek-a-boo! There he is. There he is.

Map from a previous loop I did back on March 29th. Slightly different route today cutting through the park.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Road Loop with the VV

Usually on Firday's I am spent. No matter how hard I try or what ride I plan, I'm never able to carry through with it because by the end of the week I am spent mentally and physically from work. I usually come home, crash and have a little nap. However, this past week being a short work-week, I must have found some energy in reserve and managed to get out for a ride before being overcome with the temptation of falling asleep on the couch.

With a ride planned with The Vegan Vagabond, I was committed to getting ready and my arse out the door. Little does she know, cause I never told her, that when she came by the house to get going, I was actually laying down on the couch and very close to sticking a note on the door for her to go on without me. What can I say, I am a creature of habit.

After getting changed quickly we were rolling out the door by 3:30 pm. It was nice and warm out, but the wind was howling for the entire ride. Nice on our arses, but slow going into the wind (most of the return trip). Tanya being a slight wee thing is useless to me to draft off of, so I pulled pretty much the entire way. I on the other hand act like a barn door for her. It actually worked out for the both of us cause I wanted to do some tempo and LT interval stuff and she wanted to stay in her zone one - just the right combination for sitting on my wheel.

Our South Ottawa/Manotick tour was quite nice and we stuck to the quieter roads, avoiding as much traffic as we could. During the ride I had been thinking that this could quite possibly be my last ride out this way until next spring with the roads opening in the Gats. The straight stretches and flatter lands are boring to ride in comparison to the hilly and scenic routes across the river into Quebec. However, the flatter roads on the Ottawa side of the river are perfect for training rides when trying to control how long and how intense you stay in your power zones. That's much more difficult in Gatineau Park with it's constant fluctuations in terrain and many hills. So, looks like I'll be out this way lots over the season.

The Vegan Vagabond's take on the ride.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gats is sinking babe and I don't want to swim

Took a ride yesterday after work up into the Gats to have look see at how the snow is regressing. Looking pretty good.

First snow section between Hickory Trail and the bottom of Pinks.

Bottom of Pinks
The hill itself is open, a couple narrow spots, but totally ridable - great for hill repeats! Be prepared to get wet from all the water on the road from melting snow. It was coming down in waves yesterday.

Just before the Champlain turn off.

Conditions are better than last year, but not as good as the year before. Warm temperatures the rest of the week should knock the crap out of the snow. Locals, ever check out Jo-Ann Holden's page (Musicians on Skis)? If you ever want to see the conditions of the park, she posts photos daily.