Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Longest ride?


Lots of people have been asking for a recap, and I laughed at Alex when he asked who was going to blog about this, but I figured this might be the easiest way to let people know what happened on our epic ride turned crazy adventure.

So here's what happened....

Clay, Parker, Jamie, Dan, Halldor and I met at the Switch Bridge at 9am Sunday morning. The plan was to ride out to Otter Point (just passed Sooke) then head north through a series of logging roads and climbs and skirt the boundary to the Sooke watershed. Going all the way around the watershed would have us pop out at Shawnigan Lake, when we'd have to ride home over the Malahat. Ten minutes down the Goose we see Alex ripping along the highway beside us trying to catch up...  so we started the ride with seven of us.

We made good time out to Sooke. Everyone was fresh and as the road narrowed passed Humpback road, we went single file and the pace picked up. The only place to fill bottles on the whole ride would be in Sooke, only 90 minutes in, so we stopped at a coffee shop and gas station, split two litres of coke, then headed up towards Otter Point.

Going north passed Boneyard Rd, the road turns to gravel and climbs up for about 30-40 minutes. The weather was nice. Hal and Alex were pushing big gears on their cross bikes, but the rest of us were on mountain bikes so we could still keep a decent cadence. About 45 min from Otter Point Rd we hit snow. We weren't sure what to do first, but when we started to ride on it we realized it was hard-packed and fast. Occasionally we would slip out or get pushed over by someone else into the snow, but we were seven dudes laughing and having a good time, so we continued on.

We climbed up and over through the snow. We crested a peak and started to descend. As we went down, the snow started to get patchy and it disappeared. We were stoked. We cruised on some open, muddy logging roads, and then got to more snow.

This second bit of snow was different from the first. You could ride it in spots, but it was an exercise in futility. We walked lots and appreciated any soggy ditches that we could ride along. It didn't make sense to turn around, because by this point we would have to climb up and over the snowy peak again; at least three hours back to the main road at Otter Point.

Evening came and most of us ran out of food. Hal and Chopper Dan filled their bottles up in a fast moving creek. Then a couple hours later Dan filled his bottle up with snow and put it in his back pocket so it would melt. I thought it was a good idea and did the same. Alex was really starting to fade on the cross bike, so the rest of us took turns walking his bike for him. We passed some amazing little lakes that looked like they should have a cabin on them or something, but then we realized that we were in the middle of nowhere. No one had cell coverage.

We kept walking with the help of Jamie's GPS, and bounced back and forth between swearing out loud, and joking that we should just turn around and make it a ten hour day. We talked about how keeping a positive attitude was the difference between our day becoming a horrible death march, and an epic adventure. We plodded on and used Jamie's only light on the red safety setting so we wouldn't waste the batteries.

At midnight Parker got cell coverage. He instantly got loads of text messages and missed calls. We phoned Jenny and instantly got her voicemail. Her phone had run out of batteries trying to call various people since she phoned Search and Rescue at 8pm. Parker called his girlfriend and Jamie called Danielle. We told them we were all safe and were still planning on walking out. The police phoned us and placed us in Sooke, as per the GPS coordinates that Jamie gave them, but we knew this was wrong. They told us to keep one cell phone on, and to turn the others off. They also said for us to stop and wait if we left cell phone service, which we didn't do because we knew exactly where we were. We descended down into the back of Koksilah Provincial Park, and had trouble connecting the road when it suddenly ended in a giant mound of dirt. After a little bit of scouting, we realized that we would have to cross a river by foot, then rejoin the road further up. Jamie lit the way while we all waded across, and on the other side we found tire tracks that we could ride in, opposite a large barricade. The snow disappeared quickly after that, and the six of us who were lightless, flanked Jamie on either side as we descended down along a steep fireroad towards Koksilah. We saw lights through trailer windows as we kept coasting down through the woods, and we knew we were close to the road. After one last junction we popped out on asphalt and I recognized the turnoff for the Kinsol Trestle. A car approached us and slowed, and it was Shawnigan Lake RCMP. We told them that Jenny and Noe were just up the road waiting to get us, as we finally made contact with them about an hour ago at 2am.

Five minutes later a car blasted up the road and I recognized the lights of the Corolla. Jenny ran out of the car and hugged each of the seven sweaty dudes, and I was actually amused by the fact that everyone wanted to chat about the ride and hang out behind the car and not get going. Once we got in the car we all proceeded to wolf down any and all of the food that Jenny and Noe had brought for us, and I pulled off my shoes to reveal some very cold, clammy and bloody feet.

Now that it's over it was a cool adventure. At about 6pm I was ready for it to be over, and at 3am I was glad that it was. The one thing that I learned from the day was not something about preparedness or paying attention to the weather, but that the attitude of a group of people can be the biggest determining factor in whether something is a success or not. On the whole, everyone in the group was very positive, helpful, and optimistic, which for me made it a day that I won't forget.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Only Reason I Hate Sport


In 2004 when I was 22 I came 76th at the sixth round of the mountain bike World Cup in Calgary Alberta. UCI points were awarded to riders who came in the top 75 and my goal for the race was to earn at least one UCI point so that I could race a World Cup again the following season. I missed out on my goal by one placing. The guy who won crushed the field by more than three minutes, and after making the trip to Canada from Europe he admitted it was a bad decision. Not because the flight was long or anything, but because drug testing was more stringent in North America and he got busted for doping after the race.

Obviously this guy could have beaten me down into 76th without dope and I'm not saying that I would have placed 75th had he been clean, but hearing that I raced against a doper made me feel disappointed. Doping in mountain biking is much less common than in road racing, in fact that's one of the last doping stories I think I can recall from mountain biking, but it still left a sour taste in my mouth.

I think something that most people don't realize is how doping in sport doesn't affect the top ten riders as much as it affects the riders who are trying to break into the sport. The rider who came second in Calgary was probably super pissed off that the guy who beat him was cheating, but he was also probably being paid $500k/yr to race his bike. Doping cases in the media also deter sponsors from wanting to contribute to the sport, so lesser riders suffer again at the expense of one cheater.

I don't see how dopers or cheaters can be given second chances in the sport as well. Once someone has cheated and used drugs to make their body stronger, how are they not stronger when they compete six months or a year or two years later? With EPO their blood obviously doesn't have the same ability to carry oxygen, but they are used to faster speeds; they are capable of pushing their body further; their heart and muscles are stronger from having been able to train at a much higher volume and intensity than someone who didn't cheat. As far as I'm concerned, Basso, Millar, Mancebo, Zabriskie, Barry, Hincapie, Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton, Filip Mierhaeger or anyone who has been caught cheating in sport should be stripped of all their accomplishments, all of their money, and never be allowed to participate in a race ever again.

If someone gets caught cheating in a casino, trying to take money from some wealthy billionaire, they are hauled away and thrown in jail. They'll never be allowed in another casino again.

How is doping any different? Doped riders are cheating and taking money away from other dirt-poor riders who are trying to gain sponsorship and progress in the sport; people who are super motivated and sacrificing possible careers for hard-fought athletic success.

I currently compete in National and Provincial level races, with an occasional international race thrown into my schedule, and I know that I have raced against riders in the past year who have taken substances to help them race faster. It's sad, but there are riders who have nothing to fall back on if their bike racing doesn't go to plan. I know with Armstrong being caught and with the sport 'cleaning up' it looks like things are changing for the better, but considering the fact that riders are only admitting guilt when caught and returning to the sport six months after getting busted, I think penalties should be much harsher. Dopers should be ousted. They should be boo'd loudly. They should bring shame to the country that they were born in. If it were up to me I'd suggest that stealing from a casino would be put on par with stealing from fellow athletes, and the old adage 'cheaters never prosper' would always hold true. This is how I think we can change the reputation of our sport.

I apologize if this posting seems like a rant, and I realize that I might look like an unsympathetic jerk by writing this, but I'm disappointed that more non-doped pros haven't expressed their disappointment in having their results compromised because of cheaters. Obviously this blog posting read daily by over twelve people (eight of them being my mom) isn't going to be the start of this change, but I feel that voicing my opinion can be a good example for others, no matter how few.

I consider myself a positive person and absolutely love bike racing, but for the sport of cycling to really change I think that penalties need to be harsher. I don't ever want to race against a cheater again, and although I want to beat everyone I race against, I respect my competitors enough to want them to never race against a cheater either.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Cross Time!


It's still summer! After being busy for most of the summer in school at UBC it's been nice that the summer weather has been sticking around a little longer than usual. I banged out a few good adventures in Vancouver before I left, including the Lions hike and some good rides up Seymour, Cypress and Fromme.

I'm back in Vic now having some fun with cross, and I think the Cross on the Rock race series could quite possibly be the funnest racing I've ever done. Beer primes, awesome courses, amazing atmosphere, lots of people out cheering...  it's amazing and I have so much fun at these events. I've been racing the mountain bike in them so far because the new cross bikes haven't arrived, but racing on a mountain bike is kind of interesting, because you can see where cross bikes are faster and where their weaknesses are. Overall a mountain bike is definitely slower, but it's still awesome to come out and race.

Here are a few pictures from the races so far. I'm currently sitting 2nd overall in the series, but hopefully that will change when I get my new bike!

 Reppin' the 80's skinsuit with OBB on the front

 Post-race bro/sis beers

Snapping pics of Alex getting too sideways 

Making good use of the MTB in singletrack

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Test of Metal

Boom! A couple pictures from the Test of Metal a week ago. It was a mudder. The last week of school was hectic, but now it's a week off, ending with the Furious 3 stage race in Fernie. I'm excited for some Rocky Mountain Biking!





Thursday, 24 May 2012

April and May

Wow. You'd think that I would be more anxious to update my blog and brag to the internet after winning a race, but nah. Once again with all my homework and stuff to do I left this boring un-read pot on the backburner where only my mom will read it now.

Anyways, lots of happened in the last bit. I won Hammerfest in Nanaimo, on a wicked course in super nice conditions; I finished my practicum which was one of the hardest things I've done in my life, and I negotiated my third move of the year back to Vancouver, so this is where I'll be spending my summer. This past weekend I did a local crit back in Victoria in the rain... yes a bit sketchy at first, but I realized rainy crits can be good because it's only nervous for the first 5-6 laps while the sketchy riders crash out, then after that it's down to only the decent riders. Anyways, I tried attacking back and forth with Craig a little before we realized that nothing was getting away due to the pancake flat course, so I ended up giving him a lead out for the sprint which wasn't fast enough. Both Jeff Sparling and Curtis Dearden came around him to take first and second, but not being taken down in a crit is a victory for me. Those things sketch me out.

Between doing Hammerfest and the Windsor crit I did lots of fun training rides. Craig and I did an epic I've always wanted to do; 270km from Vic to Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan to Duncan and home. It was a tough one alright, but it was lots of fun. I had the best muffin I've ever had in my life, and Noe invited us over for a BBQ after which was right on the money. Love that gal.

Anyways, now it's back into the homework/reading routine, followed by some evening rides and new races. I'm doing the Nimby 50 on my new Norco 29'er this weekend, then the weekend after I'm borrowing my brother's nice Easton wheels to race Bastion Square and road provincials. It should be hard and I will probably crack, but it will be good training. Stay tuned for more procrastination followed by multiple race reports in one blog post!

http://oakbaybikes.com/hammerfest-race-report-tom-skinner/

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/177549790

http://duanebc.smugmug.com/Sports/Victoria-Cycling-League-2012/Windsor-Park-A-May-20-2012/23088944_SxcvQQ#!i=1858528071&k=PVKc2H6

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cobble Hill MTB

 The second Island Cup of 2012 was held this past weekend in Cobble Hill, which is just 40 min north of Victoria on the other side of the Malahat highway. The weather was beauty, and after doing a warmup lap/pre-ride, I realized just how much climbing the lap had! In under 20k of racing, there was just about 1000m of climbing...  good for those fit guys.
I wasn't sure if I was one of those fit guys yet, because the race last weekend at the dump had only small climbs, with most of the course being flatter technical trail. I felt good there, but I know my way around the dump better than Derek Kidd knows how to get himself free personalized business cards, so I still wasn't too sure how I'd do.
The race didn't start where I thought it was going to start, so I just followed wheels for the first few km's. I got blocked pretty hard by some guys going out a little harder than they should have, but half way around the first lap I got some open space and settled into a good rhythm. Problem was, while I was following twitchy wheels for the first half lap, Steve Noble was up the trail cracking the whip like Scottie on a Saturday afternoon at the shop. Towards the end of the first lap, Steve had about 40 seconds on me, so I tried turning on the jets to catch up. At the start of the second lap I brought the gap back down to around 15 seconds, but when I tried closing even more I started riding like a spastic child and lost my rhythm a bit. I faded on the last lap, but I had enough of a lead over the group behind me to lock up second place, and thoroughly enjoyed ripping the last smooth burmed descent to the finish line.
Lots of other riders had good climbing legs, including Dawn Anderson who took down the rest of the Women's Expert field, Jason Binab who won his second race in a row in Intermediate Men, and Geoff Homer, Halldor Gunnarson, Regan Pringle and Jon Benskin, who all had solid rides in the Men's Expert category.
Sorry there aren't any pictures up quite yet, but if you want to check the course, or my heart rate details, or how many calories I burned at my threshold power while in zone 4 on a climb, my Garmin file from the race is below:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/159418294
Thanks for reading!
COBBLE HILL CLASSIC (Crippler)
MARCH 18TH,2012

Beginner Men
Darryl WOODLEY 53:0 Caleb LIGGETT 53:08
Nic BOKROSSY 55:26
Nathen KREIN 1:00:06
Duncan MAFFIA DNF
Patrick TROTTIER DNF

Beginner WOMEN
Shannon COUTTS 53:50
Sarah MITCHELL 55:00
Holly HENRY 59:36
Abby LIGGETT 1:08:00
Jenni FUNK DNF
Sabrina MACLEOD DNF

Intermediate Women
Maya MUNZAR 1:39:32
Jennie AITKEN 1:40:07
Sandra HARDY 1:41:48
Karen FEDORUK 1:48:27
Heather TADDY 1:49:31
Marion LANG 1:54:57
Kim HART DNF

Intermediate Men
Jason BINAB 1:19:55
Pelle GUSTAUS 1:19:59
Rob SKELLY 1:23:41
Mark WALLACE 1:23:43
Guy GENSEY 1:23:59
Shayne ALEXANDER 1:24:59
Grant LESTOCK-KAY 1:25:03
Joseph McMAHEN 1:27:45
Colin RENNIE 1:28:19
Dave SHISKOFF 1:29:40
Jeffrey COLEMAN 1:31:04
Steve PILCHER 1:32:18
Don COBURN 1:32:51
Sandor BOROS 1:32:54
Jason NICKELS 1:33:09
Rick HART 1:35:33
Brad NIXON 1:36:10
Derek STEEL 1:38:20
Brad SINCLAIR 1:40:11
Daid WARBECK 1:43:26
Steven OLSEN 1:44:11
Mike RUSSEL 1:46:14
Ted STALLARD 1:48:36
Byran ROZON 1:50:44
Jason NIELSON 1:53:25
Corey WICKHEIM 1:53:29
Doug TREIT 1:54:06
Al VANDERLEE 1:54:09
David LESTOK-KAY 1:58:23
Tim GRIFFIN 2:06:15
Colin WILSON 2:08:26
Arran SPENCER DNF
Sean GIBSON DNF

Expert Women
Dawn ANDERSON 1:59:52
Karen TRUEMAN 2:00:37
Joele GUYNUP 2:04:01
Kate SCALLION 2:15:42
Adrienne MILLER 2:37:15
Cathy GRAHAM 2:39:25
Tanya BERG DNF

Expert Men
Steven NOBLE 1:35:04
Thomas SKINNER 1:37:43
Carter HOVEY 1:39:47
Geoffrey HOMER 1:42:49
Daniel VARGA 1:43:40
James CAMERON 1:43:53
Justin MARK 1:47:22
Trevor JONES 1:48:40
Jay LATIFF 1:48:54
Jeff BLAIR 1:50:02
David HUNTLEY 1:50:49
Regan PRINGLE 1:52:15
Jonathon BENSON 1:52:27
Dan SMITH 1:53:33
David HILHORST 1:53:42
Chris BIRCH 1:54:49
Ken OLSEN 1:55:04
Tom GARROW 1:56:24
Todd NOWAK 1:57:41
Haldok GUNNARSEN 1:58:09
Mike POLLOCK 1:58:32
Ron HEWITSON 1:59:12
Spencer SKERGET 2:00:13
Sean HENRY 2:00:42
Steven LAN 2:01:43
Bill MACMILLAN 2:02:11
David CARLSON 2:03:00
Menno JONGSMA 2:03:08
Nick GOTTFRIED 2:04:52
Daryl CHASE 2:06:58
Alex BROTHERS 2:08:36
Mark WEILER 2:10:29
Les BRONEE 2:11:04
Geoff LARGE 2:12:32
Devin FIGHER 2:42:50
Robin DUTTON DNF
Russell ANDERSON DNF
Kirby VILLENEUVE DNF
Drew McKENZIE DNF
Roland RABIEN DNF

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Island Cup #1

Second race of the year was Island Cup #1 at the Dump in Victoria... and I wasn't really sure what my goal was. I should have been more confident like Mike Tyson and told everyone on the start line that I wanted to eat their children, but instead I just kept quiet like a little wuss and pulled up to the start line in the third row. (Thanks to Shanks who pushed me up to the second row just before the start). I was already making excuses and telling myself that I was tired from a 3h MTB ride the day before, and a 2h ride out to the race, but I need to tell myself to toughen up more.

I knew there would be lots of people flying (like Carter who's been crushing everyone on the local rides, Trace who manhandles everyone on a weekly basis (figuratively, not literally) and Cory who just won a 24 hour race in the states), but I thought I might have a chance to be up in the mix. I waited a minute or so after the start to move up, and slowly worked my way to the front. I got on Trace's wheel through the first singletrack section, and we were riding in second and third. I had a chance to go by him on a tricky rocky climb, and I led the chase for the lead about 5-10 min into the race.

Steve Noble had a decent little gap on Trace and myself, but when I led Tyler through the singletrack I was able to close most of it before a longer section of fireroad. Just as I was closing the gap to ten or twenty meters, Steve's chain broke, and I was left in the lead with 2.5 laps to go.

Photo credits to Brad Head
I wasn't sure if I wanted the lead. An hour TT by myself? With my wuss brain always thinking that I would be caught, or that someone would close the gap to me. But I just kept riding steady and tried not to push too hard so I could save something for the last lap. It turned out that I was fine riding solo. I built up a solid lead of around 3 min, but then with half a lap to go I saw that my front tire was going soft, and my tire sealant was spurting out trying to fill the hole. It sealed it a little, so then I stopped to add some air and the whole thing went flat. I didn't think I was that far from the finish so I started running. What usually is fast on a bike though, is very slow by foot. I got close to the finish and thought I could still win, but then three riders passed me with a few hundred meters to go. I didn't even make the podium.

I guess it could have been worse; I could have been riding slow and had no mechanical problems. Or I could have been bouncing off trees in the singletrack instead of riding like a boss, which I think I was. Anyways, there's lots of racing to go, and now I'm stoked to get out on the new Norco and carve up the trails like a piece of celebratory pie that I'll crush at the finish.