Went out on a road ride with @spoke_n_words because apparently these are still a thing. In typical form we managed to still ride some ‘non-road’ sections. I believe now that #gravel is a thing you can’t call them sectiONS, you have to call the sectORS, so we done rode some of those. I somehow managed even on my ‘road’ bike – #rollinon28s – which I think makes me an underbike commando. We also covered some bridges, seened some scenery and @spoke_n_words took some calls to do some day trading. Overall we rode some roads on the road bikes, but off-road as well. Some that might be considered #dirt or #gravel roads. We rode all the roads. We rode roads.
In just over a week I will try, along with some other crazy mofos, to ride my bike across Prince Edward Island, along the Confederation Trail. 297kms. In one day. It will be both the farthest I’ve ever ridden in one ride and the longest I’ve ever been on a bike. The trail itself is not that long and doesn’t run the full island, so we’ve tacked on 2 road sections at the beginning and end to make it a true ‘tip-to-tip’ ride. If you’re so inclined, you can view the route here.
I’m not sure I can do it, but that’s probably not the point.
A year or so ago, my buddy Andrew Titus had this crazy idea, that somehow became a plan. Initially the idea was to do a big bike ride the day before the Brookvale Ultra, and then do the run the next day. Sort of a crazy man’s duathlon type thing. I’m not the ultra runner he is so I would have done, like the 10k. Somewhere along the line when looking for the ride portion, it occurred to someone to just ride across the whole island.
Over the span of the year there have been many people who signed on for the endeavor but for various reasons (injury, time commitment, schedule) have opted out. Indeed, even Fearless Leader Andrew, who was initially going to do the ride and run can no longer do the run portion due to injury/timing. So it’s become mostly about the ride. As it stands we’ve got +/- 5 riders slated to go, with a few still to confirm for sure. What started out as a ride/run has become mostly just a ride. I think there’s currently 1 rider who anticipates also doing the run the following day. We’ll see what happens next year if it becomes an annual thing.
To say I have ‘trained’ for this would be a lie. I have ridden my bike when and as far as I can. The general consensus I’ve always heard from more experienced riders than I is that anyone can pretty much do 2x what their longest ride has been. I’ve done 160k.
More importantly I have tried to get my head straight approaching the whole thing which I think is probably more important when you’re looking at spending 12-14 hours on the bike. I think a huge chunk of the work will be mental.
It’s not that long really. Tour riders do 300k in a day. And do it in 4 hours. They average 50k an hour though. We’re looking to average 20k. Not that long. Ha.
From the recon we have, the trail is predominately the hard, packed red clay PEI is known for (hence the ‘Red Island’ moniker) and crusher dust trail, relatively flat and rolling. I’m thinking that my Giant Defy Advanced will be the perfect bike for the ride with the inclusion of some puncture-resistant 28mm file-tread tires on it. (Bontrager AW3s). I’ve spent the past few months riding it and trying to focus on and really dial in the fit for a long day in the saddle.
We’ve got a good buddy, Matt Tibbits, a distance runner himself and crew veteran to several other local ultra runners, who’s volunteered to step up and drive our SAG Wagon and meet us with food, water and kicks in the ass at various pre-planned points along the route.
I don’t know what I will get out of it. What I hope to get out of it. I hope it’s a beginning. A beginning of something that remains yet unclear. I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to change the way I approached life and the living of it. Last year I tried the Elgin 120 MTB race, and failed. It was still a massive learning experience, and positive overall. Though initially hesitant I finally decided to try this. See what happens. I’ve resolved to start doing things with unsure outcomes – something that was previously foreign to me. For many years I thought to be extreme meant I had to do so in far less healthy and beneficial ways.
The experience is much clearer now. That word extreme has an entirely new meaning.
My wife, though tacitly supportive, doesn’t get it I don’t think – and I don’t blame her. Pursuits of this kind are a relatively new interest for me. I think she sees it as selfish, and in some respects, she’s right. I try to walk the line between being a good, present Dad but also trying to be an example of how to live your life – to pursue the things that are important to you and make you happy, because ultimately that makes you a better person for those close to you. It’s still hard. It’s cliché, but it is a balance thing as a million internet posts attribute – and I know sometimes I don’t always get it right.
I don’t think my kids get it – but I haven’t really talked to them about it yet either. ‘Dad’s going to ride his bike.’ They can’t come this time. That bums them out. I hope that when I come back I’ll have better insight and a story to tell them that may make more sense, even if it’s not until they’re older and facing their own challenges.
Andrew recently sent me a relevant quote from a book he’s reading, Simon Donato’s The Boundless Life: 13 Lessons Learned the Hard Way:
…sometimes what lifts us up and allows us to be our best is not going it alone for glory, but sharing the experience with people who matter to you.”
Let’s see who comes out the other side.
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.
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!
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!
Over the past several years through various channels I’ve been fortunate enough to become a part of a great cross-section of people in the Fredericton area dedicated to healthy lifestyles and the pursuit of adventure. This is in no small part due to The Radical Edge and the community they foster in an effort to get people outside, living actively through their mission, events and attitudes. Their staff and customers are some of the best folks around and I’m proud to now call many of them good friends.
Which is why I’m super stoked to announce that I’m now their Giant Bikes Brand Ambassador. I’ve always hoped that by sharing my runs, rides and adventures that it might in some small way inspire others to get out and enrich their lives. Now, along with The Radical Edge and Giant, I hope to inspire even more of you to get out there. If you see me out riding my killer Defy Advanced around, don’t hesitate to say hi and maybe let me bend your ear a bit about how well it rides. Better yet, get yourself into the Rad Edge Westmorland shop and take a Giant, or any other bike they sell, for a spin – they’d love to help you out, make sure and tell ‘em I sent you.
I’ll also be leading a beginner road ride this spring/summer out of the shop, called the Donut Roll, which I’m pretty excited about. Our goal is to give beginning and less-seasoned road riders a ride where they can gain more experience and confidence. We may even get some donuts as well! Further details will be coming on the ride in the near future.
It’s easy these days to get caught up in the push-button ease with which you can get pretty much everything you need online, but there’s always going to be something missing. By supporting local businesses, you not only have an opportunity to get first rate service, but you can build quality relationships with like-minded folks while at the same time helping build and support a community you are actively part of.
Thanks again to Mike, Brian, Cam, Keenan, the other Brian, and all the other great staff at Radical Edge who’ve patiently helped me and also inspired me over the years. Now, LET’S GET OUTSIDE – I hope to see you out there!