Monday, February 28, 2011

A group ski and a nearly frozen pecker

Saturday, group skate ski with Curvy Butt, Zamboni, Dr. Kim and You-Know-My-Name-Is-Simon. Conditions on the parkway were primo. Finely chewed up granular sand like snow made for beautiful glide and control.  It was the most funnest ski I've had this season for a few reasons: 1) good group of fellas, 2) skiing in a group pushes you to keep up, 3) lots of laughs.

Ski Club.  The first rule of Ski Club is you must not talk about Ski Club.  BUT, you can rap about it . . . as Simon appears to be doing in the above photo.
Best line of the day:  "Hey Zamboni, Mario Cipollini called.  He wants his glasses back."

Champlain Look-off.  With the warmer temps over the past week or so, the exposure at the top lends itself to melting away down to the pavement.
From P9 we skied =>  P10=>  Fortune Parkway=> Champlain Parkway=>  to the lookout=>  to Ridge=>  Burma=>  Fortune Parkway=>  back to P10=>  P9.  Burma was in the worst shape I've ever seen it.  It was a roller coaster horror show; from start to end no grooming, frozen post holes from hikers, frozen ski ruts & ridges, and lots of debris.  It was, however, an excellent opportunity to work on balance and keeping yourself upright.

Dr. Kim, the best'est ski instructor ever, put on a little clinic at the end of our ski giving us a few pointers.  Skate skiing is all about technique.  I've said it before, it is the most difficult sport I've ever done.  Thanks Dr. Kim for all the great advice - anything that's going to get me up the hill a little easier is always appreciated.  

Sunday Curvy Butt and I got out for a small skate loop.  With the new snow down it was somewhat slow going.  It didn't help that Demise hadn't gotten out to groom in the morning.  I was totally gazed-to-the-tits climbing Fortune.  Maybe it was the new snow, maybe it was the lack of grooming, maybe it was because I hadn't recovered well enough from Saturday's ski.  What I think the problem was the fact that I didn't eat pizza the night before.  More on my scientific study later in the week. 

At Wattford (is it Wattford or Watchford?) Look-out CB had to stop for a minute because his pecker nearly froze off.  That's the price you pay for not wearing wind-front underoos.  He had to double himself up to get some warmth on Mr Happy, who now was Mr Frozen. 

 P9=> P10=> Fortune Parkway=> hung left on Ridge Rd=> out to Wattford=> down Penguin=> Gatineau Parkway=> P8=> P9.  Lots and lots of people out yesterday enjoying the sun and snow.

'It' was only going to get more cold bombing down Penguin to the parkway. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jonesing for outside

Fender time of year.  If I had the $$ I'd stroll/ride down to Tall Tree Cycles and pick me up a set of these beauties.
 The car in the shop Wednesday prompted me to ride to work.  My 'official' first outside-ride-of-the-year.  If you can call it a ride.  About 25 minutes to work.  Just enough time for me feet to being to start feeling the cold.  It was only - 5 (23 F).  I was toasty warm everywhere else, but my feet. 
Nice face.  Want a banana?
The short ride to & from work had me jones'ing (do the hip kids still say that?  I know that Charlie does) to get out and ride. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

14 Minutes

I made the decision a few months back not to register, schedule, announce, sing from the top of a mountain any races that I 'planned' on this season.  Last season was a total bust as far as racing goes,  as Deter pointed out in one of his recent posts, but not so greatest, post.  Illness, injury and bad timing kept me off the start line for all but two races last season.  If I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't of had any luck at all last year. 

Taking on a laissez-faire attitude towards racing I decided to register for races/events as they popped up on the radar.  I also decided not to 'race' . . . cause really, do I look like the racer-boy type?!? Pffft.  
196 lbs of chubby, hairy, pudgy big-bone'ness doesn't get you across the line anywhere near the top of the pack.  I was going to go to events to RIDE, see new trails, meet new people, see old friends, push myself a little, and generally have fun times (cause if you're not having fun, what's the point?).  

Alas, the race bug caught me when the Lumberjack 100 blipped on the radar.  I decided the night before registration opened that I was going to do it this year.  I had the opportunity to do this last year and ended up passing on it . . . which in the long run I probably couldn't have done anyway due to illness/injury.

So, there I was in front of the computer not more than six hours after registration opened and then discovered that the race was sold out in 14 minutes.   14 freak'in minutes.  Booooooo.

If anyone has any contacts, friends, leads, or influence of a mtn bike worldly nature and could possibly pull some strings to get me into this race I would gladly do whatever it takes to get an entry.  Whatever it takes.  Whatever it takes. WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Steel vs Carbon vs Squishy

Carbon . . . so many to choose from.
Is it time for a change? 
Seems the internet, especially Bike Rumor, has been saturated with new carbon 29'er hardtails.  Are the interweb Gwads trying to tell me to switch from my favourite metal (steel) to man-made lightness?  If I can't get below my Jebus pre-described/pre-determined weight maybe I need to drop the weight other places?!? 

Or . . . .

Maybe I accept my manly girth and look to make the ride that much smoother (you know, so all the fat don't jiggle so much) and go to full squishy. 

If I was to leave the world of rigid, hardtail single speed bikes what should I ride? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Secret Lies Lay in the Rubbish Bin

Pretty innocent looking photo.  My workshop garbage can on the floor beneath the end of my waxing bench to catch all the scrapped off wax.  What lurks inside of the rubbish bin are secrets.  Secrets of nutritional infidelity.
Since October/November'ish I've been gradually getting my weight down from an all time high of 211 lbs.  Over the past couple of weeks it seems that I've plateaued at about 196 lbs.  Or at least that's what I've been telling myself.  15 lbs is a good chunk of chunkiness to drop, if I do say so myself.  It's about the weight of a bike! 
I've even begun to accept the fact that this may be my predetermined and natural weight that Jebus feels is correct for ME.  And who am I to argue with Jebus.  I feel healthy even though I don't look 'cycling fit & healthy'

However, I think that I've been lying to myself a little and have been in denial.

A. Bits & Bites  B. my daughter's Goldfish snacks  C. Valentine's Day Hershey's Kisses  D.  Cliff Bar wrapper.

Whether it's been late nights getting off work and caving in to cravings on the drive home or falsley justifying a hard ski or trainer ride with "I really burnt more calories than there are in this bag of salty goodness . . . so I'm actually ahead!" . . . . either way, I've been indulging a bit too much.

My rubbish bin is evidence of that.  My late night snacking empty wrappers never make it into the kitchen garbage can, but instead get buried deep inside the workshop bin full of wax scrappings and workshop throw-out-ted'ness.  It's my secret place where I stash proof of my dietary infidelity.  Perhaps hiding it means it never happened.  Maybe I have deep psychological problems. Yes, yes I must.

Plateau because Jebus feels it's my fate to weigh 196lbs my arse.  Time to put down my pudgy foot and get back to what was working for me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Early Thursday Morning Ski

Fortune Parkway 0830 Hrs
Huron Shelter

Burma (a.k.a. #3)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Donating blood is good for you (and others).
Cross country skiing is good for you.
Donating blood and then cross country skiing isn't good for you.  In fact I have first hand experience it will leave you like a deflated balloon on the side of the trail if you try it.

Friday I donated blood. I try to do so every 56 or so days.
It's my attempt to drop weight. 
No, seriously. 
No, seriously it's good to donate your blood.  You should do it too.

The entire process doesn't take that long.  I'm usually in and out within 45 minutes or so, with most of the time going through procedural stuff: paper work, check your iron levels, personal info, have you been sick recently, dental work in the past week or so, tattoos in the past six months, had sex with someone who has lived in Africa and worked with feces throwing monkeys, etc.  Pretty standard stuff.

I can fill the 450 ml (1 pint) bag in under 4.5 minutes.   The bag always looks bigger - like the size of a milk bag (do the Yanks buy their milk in bags?).  They pulled the needle out of my arm at 5:55 PM. "Plenty of fluids, rest and no heavy lifting or exercise." Sure, sure - no problem.

Pffffttt . . . they only mean that for the weak and crippled. Surely an exquisite athletic specimen such as myself should have no problem going for a 2 hour night ski.
  • 8:00 PM - Curvy Butt and I are on the way into the Gats.
  • 8:30 PM'ish - skis on, at the trailhead, we begin
  • 8:35 PM - "Why the f*ck is Mark going sooo f*cking fast!?! F*cker!" I feel like I'm dying.
  • 8:50 PM - I need to lay down on the trail in the snow. Head spinning.
  • 8:55 PM - My second lay down.  Head feels like it's fallen off my body and rolling down the hill I just slowly skied up.
  • 9:05 PM - I pull the plug and begin heading back to the car alone, sure that the coyotes will sense that there's prey close-at-paw, wounded - an easy and rather large all you can eat buffet.  Curvy Butt plods along without me.
 I've don't think I've ever *really* exercised after donating before.  I've been donating since my mid-20's and have never felt weak, ill or nauseous.  But man-o-man . . . this time left me completely wiped out.

I know how having 450 ml taken out affects you.  I wonder how having 450 ml of oxygen enriched blood put back in affects you

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Team Spider Tech

'Member when I was wondering what happened to Svein Tuft?

Team SpiderTech, Canada’s first professional cycling team to achieve UCI Professional Continental status introduces
Canadian Squad

-  Team sets off for 2011 inaugural racing season powered by C10 a unique alliance of leading Canadian companies -

TORONTO, February 4, 2011 – Team SpiderTech today unveiled Canada’s first ever professional cycling team to achieve UCI Professional Continental status, one level before the Tour de France.   Never before has a Canadian team been in pursuit of the Tour de France, considered the highest level in pro cycling in the world.

According to Team SpiderTech founder Steve Bauer, Olympic silver medalist and fourth place finisher at the 1988 Tour De France and one of only two Canadians ever to wear the coveted yellow jersey, this team has what it takes to compete against the best in the world.

“Each year since 2008, we have climbed successively to the next level of professional cycling in our pursuit of the Tour,” said Bauer.  “For the first time in Canadian sports history, a Canadian professional cycling team achieved Division 2 status, a Professional Continental license, which means we will race at events across Europe and in North America that will host many of the top professional cycling teams on the Tour.  We will get experience, we will challenge and by 2013 we hope to reach World Tour status and be invited to race at the Tour de France,” he added.
That's Svein on the left.
A Canadian team to root for in the Tour!?!  Whaa Hoo!  What'd be even more wicked is if we brought fighting to cycling (like hockey).  A bunch of skinny, toothless Canucks with shaved legs on bikes dropping the cycling gloves on a climb up some French mountainside to duke it out with some European rider.  Whaa hoooo!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pristine skate lane, Simon and my sore arse

Pristine, untouched beautiful grooming . . . finally.
Got out for a skate ski on Monday while the temperatures were still warm and the snow was reasonably fast.  I must have just missed the groomer leaving Gameline because I had some fresh skate lanes for my entire ski up to the turn off to Champlain.

I doctored this photo so you could see my skate stride.  A flat ski is a fast ski.

Simon says, "See Simon go, go!" Yes, you are seeing double.
I met up with Simon near the base of Pinks.  Simon is very new to skate skiing.  In fact he's been on the boards for less than a dozen skis, including three days of lessons.  Not only is he taking to skate skiing like a duck to water, his height and leverage naturally help his stride and he's got some supremo fitness to boot.  Despite having somewhat better skate skiing technique (only based on the fact that I've been doing it longer - it certainly isn't a natural skill for me!) Simon still managed to drop me on the Pink climb as I had to stop to catch my breath.   What's more is the fact that he's signed up for the 29  Gatineau Loppet later this month . . . this English limy is a nutter for sure.

The Gatineau Loppet

Yes, I know.  This IS a bike blog of sorts.  I was on the trainer yesterday.  My mind hates the trainer.  My arse hates it more.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Two days, one shoe - one ski

Last Friday: short Gatineau Park skate ski around noon from Gameline.
Last Thursday afternoon 2.5 hour snowshoe out in South March Highlands in Kanata.
I had a few, "Where the f*ck am I?!?!" moments.  Getting off the beaten trail and with all the snow down it can be easy to get turned around.  Thankfully South March Highlands is not that big of a place and there are enough trails you could find your way back.  Those unfamiliar could easily spend a cold night in the woods.
Deep lake snow, Oh dear me a deer, bullrush, lonely dead tree.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ambassador Awesome and Chasing Gwadzilla

**My internet service crashed for two and 1/2 days last week, hence this post is a little long as I am playing catch up**

I recieved an e-mail back around Christmas time from Richard at Backcountry Research saying things like, "We like what you are doing on your blog . . . Dicky is dead to us . . . glad we've found such talent up North.  Can you make me a cheeseburger?" I figured he must be drunk, because anyone who's sole purpose in life is to make Awesome Straps must be on the sauce. But to my surprise, a few weeks later I recieve this in the mail:

That's right bitches, "Ambassador Craig Barlow" . . . I would have preferred "Ambassador big ring" but who's going to look a gift horse in the mouth (what the fugg does that expression mean anyway?)?
I'm not a sponsored rider, racer (pfffft) or bike review writer guy and I didn't even ask anyone for nothing. I figured by listing some of the nice things I use under my "Nice Things" sidebar would just be my way of saying kudos to some of the bike products/companies that I use and think maybe you should use too. I guess my unsolicited advertising was appreciated.
(Maybe should have advertised for a Ferrari or woman's lingerie?!)
I've always thought of myself more as a dictator or king . . . not an ambassador, especially not this one.
So, with the schwaggedy-schwag sent my way I thought I'd show my appreciation by having a little contest last week to spread the Awesome love, cause really - how many straps does one guy need?  Got lots of e-mails for answers to my Pandora's Cookie Box Contest - the question being:  
How many "Healthy Cookies" I ate between last Friday 7:30 PM and Saturday 11 AM.  

The answer being 17.  Yes, 17.  I am not ashamed.
In fact, I am down to 196 lbs.  So suck it.

Regardless, there were three lucky winners who will receive one form or another of an awesome Awesome Strap.  Sad you missed out?  Kicking yourself because you didn't think I was serious and that I would in fact send you one on my dime?  Rest easy chum and stay tuned in the future because there may be more goodies headed north for another Awesome Strap Awesome Contest Give-Away.

I finally got to see Chasing Legends last week.  Can't understand why it's taken so long to hit the screens up here in Canada.  It was a one night showing here in Ottawa at Cineplex Theatres.  All four threatres in Ottawa were sold out, so Curvy Butt and myself ventured over the Ottawa River into Quebec to watch it.  I've got to say, I really enjoyed it.  So much so that I almost got on the trainer when I returned home.  And so much so that I've decided to ride in the 2011 Tour de France.  Now I just need a team to ride for. 

While watching the opening sequence I spotted my blogging friend Gwadzilla.  I had forgotten that he was involved with the Washington portion of the film and it was a cool surprise to see him on the big screen.
Recognize the beard in the opening black and white part of the movie?

And what must have been cooler for Gwadzilla was his young fella, Grant, having a part in such an amazing film documenting the Tour.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


From top left: 0 km mark near Chateau Laurier and Parilament, Pretoria Bridge, Bank St bridge near Landsdown.  Bottom left: stone bride, skate, art on ice.
 Got out for my first skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway this season before work Tuesday afternoon.  The snow would have been pretty slow for skiing, not enough for snowshoeing, and I didn't feel like sitting on the trainer.  Opted for some crosstraing.

It was a frigg'n cold day, but the ice was in good shape.  Skated the full length, out and back - 15km or so.  Got to the gym and hit the weights afterwards to warm up after getting pretty cold in the windchill.

Potty on ice.  Really?!?  Is a sign really necessary?
Skating can work up an appetite.  Beavers . . . that intrusive pest of a rodent which can cause extensive damages.  In destroying the pesky animals we Canadians have come up with an ingenious way to take advantage of the yummiest part of the beaver, it's tail . . . mmmm, Beaver Tails. You'd think that they'd be all leathery and tough, when actually they melt in your mouth.
Mmmmm . . . Poutine.
End of the canal - 7.8 km worth of ice.