Wednesday, January 22, 2014

well onward and upward, one reason why i haven't updated this thing in forever is ive been working on getting my coaching stuff going in a more "legit" fashion.

I.e. a .com and .ca so head on over to www.awicoaching.com for the latest news.

This blog will probably live on for all time, but it safe to say its had its day in the sun.

think of it fondly


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

2 things I believe can make the difference between a great CX course and an OK course. (on a soapbox)

So lots of talk about course design and "what the amuricans do" with their CX courses and why there so much "better". I'm using quotes as better is a relative term, and its pretty subjective.

My experience with US courses is limited, there are lots of more experienced guys out there racing but I'll share what i've seen at a couple US events vs what I see here in Ontario sometimes and to an extent what I saw last year at Nats in Van.

** disclaimer I know that some venues are limited with what can be done, and I KNOW that all organizers and designers have the best of intentions. So don't take any offense to this,

Guideline 1: Stop using a maze of tight 180's and 90 degree corners. All they do is inhibit the racers ability to race each other since all it does is cause brake checking even if no one is actually trying to brake check. This destroys group racing, and promotes lots of lone riders on course. = less exciting = less fun = less racers and spectators.

Guideline 2: Find the natural features like hills, wide forested sections, off camber banks,  at a venue and guide the course to those, try to limit using stakes and tape to "make" features.

Really that's about it, those two things are what I believe separate what courses people love to do and what courses people just kinda do.

Monday, September 23, 2013

#chinacx - edited with pics

a trip worth blogging about

Well its been a trip, currently sitting in the Beijing airport way to early to check into my flight. Turns out this whole trip was legit.

Trip over went smooth, long flight but i was finally able to catch some shuteye for once, possibly my old man for a seatmate helped with that. We were all pretty zonked out by the time we got on the bus for our 2+ hour ride to Yanqing where we were staying with the race site a short 5km ride away from the hotel.

After solid meal and a good nights sleep we were able to jump into the great wall tour, the wall was impressive and had some serious pitches on it that would have pissed IMBA off, but what really blew me away was the sheer number of people there, they must put a half million people a day into that section of Wall. Apparently we are all hero's now for getting to the top and back down.

Before long we were back at our hotel getting ready to check out the course for the event, which also came along with getting to ride on the roads here. Not as bad as i was expecting, everyone is equally as crazy so it works out. After a little rain the course had some greasy spots but overall was pretty fast. Some called it a MTBer course, i still don't know what that means. It wasn't a typical grass field venue we were riding in a forest with trees for stakes and it was bumpy, but we were on CX bikes and we had three forced stair runups a lap so id call it a cx course.

After the first full day there I think most of us started to feel the jetlag, and were ready to get some shuteye.

Mealtime was always a nice way to meet riders from other countries and mingle, turns out i had breakfast with the Eliminator world champ and didn't even know it till after, nice fella.

Course training day 2 was pretty standard, it was nice to have the morning to just chill and relax. By the afternoon the course was bone dry and fast. Made the decision to just run my SB8 clinchers as lower pressure wasn't really a benefit and I do love my SB8's and i brought my mud tubs so they would have been squirly on the hardpacked surface. Also the nicest bike lanes i have ever seen


Pre-race meal was a big banquet with a bunch of local dignitaries and the sponsors of the race, and they know how to put on a banquet, a feast of epic proportions ensued. With some rider introductions of a bunch of euro's who won worlds and world cups etc, to me every cross racer is sven nys so whatever.

Race day arrived, race day boredom also arrived, but before long we were spinning to the course in time to catch the womens race which was over pretty quick 35 minutes.

Jumped on the course to get a final lap in to dial my lines and firgure out my race strategy, which was essentially to not get crashed out on the start and take it from there. I was a little nervous about how i was feeling up until my warmup when my legs finally started to kick in and I figured id be able to go the distance at a good clip.

Race start was kinda sketch with 65 guys on the line, but i made it through unscathed probably in the low 20's. I used a few matches to get up a bit into the teens, and before long i was soloing to a big group. Unfortunately as i approached the group guys would keep falling off, and i'd need to wait to get by and chase down the group again. Had to repeat that a few times. I got onto the back of a 4 man train and looked up the track to see McNeely up about 10 seconds with another rider. So I settled on behind the group and waited to see what would happen and if McSqueezy could ride away before I made a move on the group.

A lap or two later Evan had to pit for a repair and I moved to the front of the group and put down a solid couple laps to distance myself and get into the top 10. I got as far as the 5th place group when there was a split I was caught at the back by some teammates blocking and missed out on that train.

But the efforts early in the race started to come through with some heavy legs on the false flat sections and the rough course rendered my hands two blistered hunks of meat so I was pretty much just hanging on the last two laps.

I was able to keep the pressure on and finished 8th, happy with that, I was in the UCI points and cash. Once again good to feel good racing on a bike again.

Back to the hotel and we got all prettied up for the celebratory banquet, where the beer flowed like wine and so did the rice wine.

Overall probably the most well organized bike race I've ever been too, and the hospitality we received was second to none. At most UCI races there's a VIP tent and area for “special” people to get feed and have a drink. Difference with this race was the Athletes were the VIP's. Obviously economically a much different situation but I think all race organizers could have learned a thing or two from these folks.

So yes I'm completely spoiled and will compare all races henceforth to this one.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Enduro'ing

Not my first Enduro actually Enduro's used to be pretty big in the Province but since their decline the name seems to have been pillaged by the Gravity crowd and is now used o describe this new kind of hybrid event.

What is DH Enduro: well put simply your Dh's are timed top to bottom and hopefully these runs also have some pedalling sections to help even it out for the xc'ers. In between these DH stages you need to then climb back to the next start area. These are timed in some way and aren't meant to reward a fast climber but penalize a slow one. If you go over a set time then that time gets added to your DH time.  Essentially a great way to keep the DH'ers from bringing their DH bikes and full gear to then shred the DH's.

Horseshoe hosted the first Enduro(on a weeknd) in Ontario put on the by the DH O-cup organizer Tuf Rack. The format seemed to be very fluid as the days ticked down and actually was finalized on the start line by a show of hands. With dissenters getting a kick in the shins, at 1:15 we started, the Expert wave had a lot of the xc'ers in in and of course we don't know how to not go hard off the start even though the first climb didn't count for anything.

First Dh stage is actually the same as the last DH in the XC provincials course, a fun bermed dh with two rocky features which on a AM bike are nothing but on a 20 lbs xc HT could be exciting. Second climb was hot and steep, the folks on the lighter xc bikes easily pedaled away. Arrived at DH 2 had a little break at the top, yes you can stop and just chill out if you want.

DH 2 is an O-cup DH run, a few steep sections and rock gardens,  nothing crazy but im glad i was on the Norco Sight. I can see the thrill of DH racing, having a bunch of people standing beside a fast berm or after a huck to rock garden at speed is kinda fun, usually in xc were going so slow you can wave and smile at spectators if you want too. Sprinting over a little kicker and peddling hard to a finish line, kinda fun.

Uphill 3 was the same as the first climb, which is also the last XC climb in the provincials course, a nasty sandy steep climb, which to ride "easily" is the same as riding at race pace.

DH 3, runs parallel to 1 but a less bermy more rutted run, had a "oh S$%t" moment when the Sight got going a little faster then my brain could process the info (not enough Ram) but kept it upright and hit the line to go up hill 4...which is the same as Climb 2.

Got to the top of DH 4, and realized it was almost over, a bit sad, but I enjoyed the last DH, the most "airy" run, im sure my wheels were very close to the ground but in my head I was sending it huge. 2 wooden launches and few fast drops, this also had the most amount of pedalling at the bottom which i hit hard,

all said and done it was a little over 30 minutes, not epic by any means but a lot of fun and something that could evolve a lot here. Al had his hands full timing and results are still pending but everyone had a great time and really the results don't matter (just saying that cause i know i got worked by the DH'ers)

overall tons of fun, thanks to Norco for the loaner 2014 Sight, I looked the part of enduro rider at least. And Tuf Rack for putting in a ton of work on the course and of course Al for timing,



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Past few

After a not so good Sudbury/Nationals week which concluded with a pretty sore left knee after some non-crash- crashes that I tried my best to ignore and just get through it, I was finally able to give it some needed rest the following week.

By midweek the knee was feeling a lot better and I signed up for Road Provincials in the cookstown marsh north of Bradford. Which was a blast in a painful road racing type of way, after 2 hours of some good efforts  I could start to feel some cramping in my left hamstring, probably a little left over strain from the weeks before, so I backed off and followed wheels till the last lap when essentially all heck broke loose and sure enough full leg cramp in the crosswind section with about 10 to go. Not the 4th I had a few years ago but made it to the finish.

Long weekend ended up not racing Vermont and took some folks out on a Big Chute ride on the Sunday, beauty day for it, (pic is of another ride but basically the same folks...)

Then it was off to St Anne, for my 10th run at it. No matter how much they change it around its always going to be a tough race, steep climbs, rooty rocky singletrack, and this year a killer headwind to deal with. The trip out was great with Josh our super Soigneur ...minus the massages. It was a odd weekend weather wise, chilly and rainy one minute then chilly and humid yet still kinda warm the next. The track was shortened in dramatic fashion with the removal of the gravel climb and Beatrice descent.


Race was good, got caught in traffic(not sure its possible not to) and missed out on some of the groups, and ended up in no mans land for 6 laps, which isn't always a bad thing but that wind was killer riding solo. Rode well and consistently no real mistakes or crashes just didn't have that final gear to make it on the final lap. Rolled in for 41st(ish)  huge thanks to Kevin, Jonathan and Josh for all their help this weekend.
*action shots by the Bailey Clan

up next Duntroon, always awesome riding, then the Horseshoe Enduro... then we'll see

Monday, July 22, 2013

National championships extravaganza

Sitting on the couch with this weird feeling that I should be driving back to Hardwood today, thankfully as awesome as Hardwood is im happy to be just chilling out after a long week.

Wednesday morning after a couple days of unwinding and icing my knee after Sudbury I headed over to the venue to ride with the Ontario Team on the course with Pete G and Amanda Sin. I was surprised by how blown out the course was since the week before but the young riders had that course dialed and not going to lie Pete D was the one showing me the lines #localhardwoodkidproblems

Thursday was XCE we had two riders in there Bretton Matthews and Lespy who put down some solid heats but missed out on the finals, i think all the spectators were impressed and stoked on the event, probably why its likely to be renamed XCO.

Friday I rode with some of the athletes I coach, they raced the longer course which was a classic hardwood course, super fast yet not wide bar friendly. got out of there before the storm hit.

Saturday, not sure ive ever been so relaxed going into a Nationals, only goal was to make it to the first piece of singletrack without crashing or almost crashing. I did and had a solid start, just missing out on the front group which to be honest i probably wouldn't have held onto for very long. Still don't quite get the fight someone for a wheel then immediately watch that wheel ride away technique to racing, but I'm still learning i guess.

I'm going to refrain from commenting on my tangle
with Pete G other than to post this video,



Once I gathered myself off the ground I settled into a nice chase mode, made easier by the Mitch B riding by and allowing me to get a little draftage off him, and not long before Mcsqueezy coming by on his last lap. That last lap was tough knowing the u-23's were rolling across the finish line, and yes I said to myself "when i was a U23....."

rolled in for 7th, my best nationals in recent years and after Sudbury I was just happy to feel like I was in the race.

Sunday morning I headed over to Hardwood early to watch the athletes I coach race, they threw down pretty good, with a Gold and Bronze in Junior and Cole getting a taste of Quebec speed legs.

 Post AM races we gathered up two  Norco A teams, for the Relay both teams rode strong with one team being the First Trade Team in the relay. #attaboys

So a great week, another couple days of RICE for the knee and we'll see if Road Provincials is a possibility






Monday, July 15, 2013

Naughton Re-cap

What an awesome weekend, although this race has epitomised the definition of gong show for me the past two years. I can't help but to walk away smiling.

Started off heading to North Bay for a Demo with Cheapskates and had some good conversations with the locals and was able to share some of the experiences I've had with the newly formed SCMBC and how something up there could help with some of their land access issues.

Arrived late into Lively our base camp for the weekend close to the race in Naughton. Friday and Saturday were spent in the sun on the course shredding the DH with Brett and also got some good laps in with the Two Wheel  boys(and girls) also hit the local swimming hole a couple times to try and stay cool.

Our hotel staff were the best we made friends pretty quick and felt at home whenever we sat down in the morning to eat.

Races in the AM i got to watch two athletes I coach score some podiums and PB's on a super hot and hard course. Really happy for Cole and Adam Pugsley for their performances.

I had a lot of pressure on me for the race, with a callout to win the second row callup, didn't workout in the mayhem off the start, i came away not bad with a sore leg/knee/hamstring, but others got it worse, my friend Matt F has some good battle wounds. 

Learning: my leg can bend a really long way without breaking, guess its all the yoga I've been doing.

The Norco Revolver HT was awesome on course, had a lot of fun on the descents, the HT was a little rough but the Kenda Karma's were supple enough to take a lot of the edge off.

Up next Nationals,

oh yeah, and I'm of the opinion Froome is clean, yes hes climbing as fast as Dopestrong but he looks like hes actually working for it.