Sun’s Out, Guns Out

In hindsight, probably should’ve covered the ‘guns’ a bit more.

Share the Road / Partager La Route

Got home today and the sun was shining, it was a balmy 4ºC and the roads were clear so I jumped at the chance to get out for a bike ride and let the cold air clear out my head.

One of the ‘guns’. The right one, to be precise.

When my buddy Andrew and I plan our bike rides – we don’t call ’em rides as much as adventures. There’s bike riding involved, but we always hope for – and usually find – something more. Did you break the bike and have to fix it with a zip tie and some tape? Did you crash? Did you get lost? See a rainbow? See some new wild animal? Find some gas station coffee even worse than the last? You’re adventuring. Inevitably, ‘bike rides’ are better when adventure happens.

Today’s adventure meant getting home with all my toes and fingers intact. In my exuberance to get out I underdressed a tad and things quickly went from Type 1 to Type 2, or maybe even 2.5, fun. I should know better. Made it though and great to get out in the open space vs. riding the trainer in the basement. I’ve been in a bit of a slump/funk for the last week or two with regards to keeping the mojo tank topped off and I feel like today set things right.

Adventure will always do that.

My Summer Riding Season Opens with a Giant Bang

Managed to slam in 3 consecutive days of fantastic riding with great peeps to open the summer season.

Saturday I led my usual Radical Edge Donut Roll Beginner Road ride. I only had one rider this week, and Mike’s not exactly beginner, so heading out bright and early at 8, we beat the heat and had some great conditions. A tail wind heading out to Oromocto provided us with a pretty blistering pace that had us chuckling at ourselves at the turnaround knowing full well what we were in for on the way back. Taking turns with short pulls on the way back gave us a good workout into the headwind and we managed to get back pretty quick leaving the remainder of our day for adult boring stuff. The 50k-ish loop combined with my 15k rides to and from the ride start to home got me past the 75k mark on the day and there was still more in the tank.

Sunday was the Third Annual Radical Edge Gravel Grind in support of Special Olympics New Brunswick. I can claim original gangster status as having ridden since the first year, and hopefully it’s a streak I can keep alive, as the event keeps improving. A later start date this year meant no rain and no jackets/baselayers (!) for the first time! Full sun and soaring temps provided a great, if not even a bit warm ride, and the atmosphere and the post-ride feast and cool-down at the new Picaroons Roundhouse was well-appointed and most welcome after a morning baking on the gravel.

75K group getting ready to roll out.

I had planned to ride the 75k distance but at the last minute, they were short staffed, so I volunteered to sweep the 50k route with a backpack of tubes and tools to assist anyone that ran into problems out on course. It was a refreshing change to take it easy off the back, take in more scenery and chat more with folks along the way – a real fun experience and reminder of what cycling at it’s core is about as well as what a great riding community we have around New Brunswick and the Maritimes. Best part of all, I had to fix a grand total of ZERO flats! Kudos to everyone for being so prepared! I had wavered back and forth on which bike to take to this year’s ride, my ol’ trusty Surly Cross Check or the Giant Defy Advanced 1. In the end I went with the Defy and was super happy with the way it performed. Stayed comfy all day, and the D-Fuse seatpost in combination with the carbon frame really was great at smoothing out the rough stuff. As a bonus, turns out my Porcelain Rocket top-tube frame bag that I acquired for the Cross Check also fits the Defy. Good to know!

As mentioned in a previous post, I worked with Josh and Jane at Special Olympics New Brunswick this year on some branding and marketing materials for the event and they’ve taken done excellent work and really turned it into a top notch event. Over 160 riders from all over the Maritimes, showed up and were treated to a well-supported ride and atmosphere, locally sourced and catered food, local microbrews and a phat table of door prizes, including a Thule T2 hitch rack. This event has grown and improved every year and is fast becoming a ‘mark your calendar’ ride for the cycling community in our region. Of course the most important part is in the end, over $17,000 was raised to support Special Olympics New Brunswick!

Yours truly with a nice Giant TCX and some banners I designed for Special Olympics NB.

After baking in the sun all morning, Sunday evening I rolled out to Killarney Lake to lead a Rad Edge/Giant Sprockids Fredericton session teaching the next generation of shredders some MTB skills. It was super hot and the kids worked hard, had fun and hassled me the entire time to let them jump in the lake – which I regrettably couldn’t – though I kinda wished I could as well. They did manage to treat me to the ‘Gun Show’ however before the session was over.

Monday evening I put on my Giant Ambassador hat again and headed out to the Giant Bikes MTB Demo at MVP. I’ve been reading online from months about the Trance and Anthem and the differences between the two, trying to figure out which one I’d like – BUT JUST FOR RESEARCH’S SAKE BECAUSE OMG I’M NOT BUYING ANOTHER BIKE RIGHT NOW IN CASE MY WIFE IS READING THIS – HI DEAR. Sigh. If you’re ever in the market for a bike (of any brand really) and have the opportunity to get out and demo some, definitely make an effort. Even if you’re not in the market, riding different bikes over the same trails in the span of an hour or two will make glaringly obvious the differences and is a great way to learn about the features, geometry and handling of bikes. Of the two, I came to the conclusion that I’m an Anthem guy – though if I were to get one – which I’m not (see all caps above) – I’d go with the Anthem SX which is kind of a marriage of the two. I won’t bore everyone here with details of my experience and my reasons for choosing – if you’re interested, hit me up and I can talk/message your ear off. Everyone was having a lot of fun trying out the electric mountain bikes, the Dirt E+ and the Full E+. I wanted to make sure I got rides in on the Trance and Anthem so I ran out of time for that. Honestly, I need to keep burning as many cals as I can when I get out anyway. Rubs belly.

Super stoked that we have such a great riding community here in Fredericton and the surrounding area and a real treat to see it growing over the past few years. I have to give props to the Radical Edge, Giant Bikes and Special Olympics New Brunswick – particularly all the fine humans working hard with each of ’em – for definitely setting my summer riding season off on the best possible foot. Looking forward to many summer miles!

Pumpkin Cross Race Report: It’s All About the Lebuckskis.

Rode my first cyclocross race today and it was a blast. A quick recap.

I missed out on the holeshot at the start due to a huge group of riders in front of me at the start. I decided to start way at the back to make things more interesting. I enjoy the challenge of fighting up through the ranks and it makes things much more engaging for the fans at home watching on tv. ‘He came from the back of the pack’ has such a great ring to it and looks fabulous in print.

I stayed WELL back of the lead riders – in an attempt to lull them into a false sense of security. I kept a good pace and managed to stay just back enough that the people handing out Lebuckskis (handups of pieces of paper to be collected to win a prize at the end) took serious pity on me and were waving them at me at every turn. I even managed to pick up a few off the ground that I’m sure those speed demons up front had blown right over. Heh, their loss.

After the 2nd or 3rd lap (I’m not sure, it was getting hard to keep count there in my Pain Cave) I had to fight off the urge the next time we hit the paved downhill passing the parking lot to not just coast right over to the truck and curl into a ball on the floor in the backseat and rock/mumble myself to sleep. Instead, I was spurred on by the desire not to disappoint the legions of spectators that had shown up and were furiously ringing cowbells in my favor. I am – after all – all about the fans.

My fire reignited, I decided to attack the race leaders, which was convenient as they were just coming up behind me around that time. They passed me, and as I stared deep into their eyes (or maybe it was more the side of their helmets ’cause they were going so fast, but no matter) I could sense – one high-performance rider to another – that they were almost at their breaking point. I decided to wait for the most opportune moment to finish them. My first impulse was to taunt them to break their morale, but then, I spied several Lebuckskis on the ground and stopped to pick them up. There would be time to toy with their minds later.

Finally the bell rang. Last lap.  I had them right where I wanted them.

Several came up behind me again, which is odd, because I don’t remember seeing them drop back from the front – I must have been too focused on the Lebuckskis – and as they came by this time – oh vile misfortune!  The knibbler pin snapped in my cranks and I had to pull off to make repairs right there. I was able to fashion a new pin quickly out of a pine branch with my Swiss Army Knife, but by the time I got back on course I could see they’d managed to sieze the day. I took it easy the rest of the way, plucking a few more Lebuckskis and even stopped to sign an autograph for one fan who’d travelled all the way from Minto.

The day was not lost though, as I’d managed to accrue enough Lebuckskis (including some that I hustled in the parking lot during the BBQ – the rules seem to be a bit fuzzy on this) to land myself an nice wool jersey. I got a nice parting gift and the other 55 or so riders get to rest with the feeling of having bested me this day. So, win-win really.

What can I say, I’m a giver.

Things I learned today

  1. Carbon fiber knibbler pins aren’t worth the marginal weight savings for the strength to weight ratio. I’m going back to titanium.
  2. You don’t need to be able to actually feel your feet to use them.
  3. The floor on the backseat of my truck is really quite comfortable if you’re in a fatigue and cold-induced daze.

Things I’m Proud Of

  1. Didn’t die.
  2. Didn’t suffer any cardiac episodes or a schizoid embolism.
  3. Didn’t dab or take a spill at all. For reals.
  4. See #’s 1 and 2.
  5. Finished, without vomiting.

HUGE thanks to all the volunteers and peeps who donated, time, money or materials to make today happen. What a great crew. Except for the one kid who pretended to hand me a Lebuckski and then wouldn’t let go, forcing me to ride on without it. Wrong, just wrong.

Thanks to all the riders who offered encouraging words as you passed (sometimes rather frenetically). Why so rushed? Next time, do stop to chat a bit so we can get to know each other. I feel like you may have cheated yourselves out of what really was some lovely flora and fauna to be taken in out there today, simply because you were in too much of a hurry to notice. It’s these simple pleasures that make life – and cross racing – enjoyable. I myself spotted several birds to add to my species journal.