2nd coldest place on the planet?

November 23, 2010

Which means a pretty definitive end to the Alberta fair weather cycling season, and is all the more reason to be really looking forward to hitting Arizona just after Christmas. Once, when I was a younger and tougher man, I rode on both the hottest and coldest days of the year – and made a point of doing that just ’cause. Today? Nu-uh. Not a chance. Walking the 1.6km to work was enough for me. Bikeridr and work peer KH might throw a leg over a top tube, but he’s got more flint in his veins than I do. When you check it out, Alberta had 6 out of 10 on this Coldest Places on Earth list this morning. Represent!

When this is what you get:

This is what you get:

And thanks to cyclingtorrents.nl, I can do this while watching the latest Superprestige from Europe – albeit in Dutch, German or Czech – or go for one of the latest USGP of cyclocross races with the www.cyclingdirt.com coverage. I recently downloaded one of the www.thesufferfest.com videos, a 60 min ride that puts you in the peloton, but haven’t tried it out yet. Think I will tonight. Yeah, it sucks, but it’s not that bad and at least its dry.

The work situation is another thing. The heating on the third floor is on the fritz, and has been for a few days. So when you get near the coldest place on the planet, with an inoperative heating system that actually seemed to be blowing cold air, you get some disgruntled people. But in true style our employer, Critical Mass, made the rounds up here the other day handing out hot water bottles, blankets, Baileys and hot chocolate or rum toddies, and Snuggies. There is a table of Snuggies right outside the elevator yesterday. You get out, you get one on, and you walk around looking like Obi Wan. Plus Von Sass is playing the new Walkmen album, which helps as it’s very, very good.

Way over there where the wind come from…

November 9, 2010

This is a powerful song. Wow.

Way over there where the wind come from
I swear i thought i was the only one
Each time i stop to get air well i’m still over there

The silhouette kid’s swinging on a swing
Scrapes his knee and blooded brains
He shows his friends he’s alive as he brags and he jives
Hey. He’s alright. Yeah

They say makin up for lost time
Ain’t makin up for much at all
Sometimes i think gettin older’s oh so last year, yeah

But other times i grab the bull by the horns
Rip em off with calloused hands
Sometimes you cry like a child still get up in the mornin
I was a geezer just last night
Watchin TV no not understandin anything
I scrape my face on the clouds every time i get out
But that’s day time

Some people they use up all their cash
Records and such just sit around but i don’t care about that
People say i’m to blame i guess i think it’s a shame
Oh, but I don’t care. Yeah

Titanium revolutions

November 5, 2010

Revolutions not just ’cause of the good sensations when you make the circles with the legs, but because I’ve seen at least as many Ti bikes out for ‘cross as I’ve seen carbon – and this bucks the trend on the road, where carbon is king. Ti gives you good stuff like lightweight, durability and comfort, with that bit of liveliness that everyone that owns one will tell you about. (and tell you, and tell you, and tell you. But I’d talk a lot about my Ti bike if I had a Ti bike. Unfortunately, I’m not really worth that grade of metal.)

James, over at Campione, is getting some pretty sweet whips in this week. An IF, which I can’t wait to go look at, and a couple of Moots, like this one below. Not sure what the builds will be, but I’m sure those guys will give these frames the 11 on the 10 dial, if you know what I mean. I’ll take some pics when they show up.

Me likey. Click for full size glory.

Joy Division, for All Souls Day

November 2, 2010

Dead Souls

The first of Nov, All Saints Day, is for the dearly departed in heaven, and the 2nd of Nov, All Souls Day, is for the dearly departed in purgatory. And the 31st of October is the time in the year when the fabric between those two places, and Earth, is at its flimsiest. So you get people wandering around dressed like slutty nurses and pimps for a night. According to the mythology of it all. The truth, however, is that it probably all relates to farming, the coming weather, and crops.

But let’s just talk music, now, shall we?

I love and prefer the original, but I actually don’t hate the NIN version from the Crow soundtrack. Most cover songs are crap, but Reznor does a decent job of it and I’m not enough of a Joy Division purist to dis and dismiss. Which is better? Ian Curtis or Trent Reznor?

Someone take these dreams away,
That point me to another day,
A duel of personalities,
That stretch all true realities.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Where figures from the past stand tall,
And mocking voices ring the halls.
Imperialistic house of prayer,
Conquistadors who took their share.

That keep calling me,
They keep calling me,
Keep on calling me,
They keep calling me.

Beer, Chili, Robots, Crashes, Disqualifications Vol. 2

November 2, 2010

Beans and Barley – Calgary, Oct. 31

Beans and Barely, for me, anyway, is a way more appropriate name. This would’ve been a great race to ride in. Unfortunately, waking up ten minutes before your category starts makes it pretty difficult to get a good position and I didn’t feel that my pounding headache would be all that enjoyable elevated to around 170 beats per minute. Here’s a tip from a first year cyclocross participator – and I prefer that term as I can’t really consider, in all honesty, the tortoise like pace I drag my 200 pounds around the course to be ‘racing’ – don’t substitute water for vodka as a post event hydration supplement. Jesus. So I took my time getting out and showed up to cheer on some friends and colleagues.

This race had a stellar atmosphere. Many rolled in costume and there was both beer and chili onsite. The course looked great and the racing was fast. Synergist Richard McK raced the Sport event and represented while other Synergist Mark McConnell amped it up after a couple of laps, coming from behind to take the lead for the final half of the Expert race, taking the win by around 20 seconds. He seemed to be getting faster as time went on and I think he’ll be winning some more races in the future.

Second place in men’s Expert went to Katie Curtis who is easily one of the smoothest riders out there. She attacked from third position to nab the spot with about two hundred meters to go and rocked a Tim Horton’s costume while doing it. Nicely done. Edmonton’s Pepper Harlton also raced this category and took fourth place. We’ve got some damn fast women in Alberta. Shawn Bunnin won Men’s Elite on both days. It’s great to have such strong athletes to cheer for at nationals.

Fellow former 1401 Charleswood Dr. resident Dave Jetz had a good day in fifth, while Derek Chipping came in right behind him. Spokes and Attire alumni Rob Brandrick, the guy who told me what ‘cross was about twelve years ago, was immediately behind Derek. Those four or so names came in around that order the day before as well. Great to see those people ride so well consistently like that – inspiring stuff, folks.

However, the best performance for the entire day had to go to Synergy team leader Colin Patrick Walsh. CP showed up after playing a hockey game in the am and confided that he wasn’t really feeling like racing. He’d only been on a ‘cross bike two times this season, with the second one of them being just the day before. Walshy said his back was sore and he was just going to throw down a hot lap and pack it in. I suggested he get a head start on the group, take the DQ, and have some fun with it. He hummed and hawed about it, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to do it, but then, sure enough, just as the Commissaire called out ten seconds to start, CP slowly rolled off the line, yelled ‘Trick or treat!” and then pinned it. The spectacle was pretty funny. Everyone just watched him head off on his own. He pulled over at the top of the first steep climb and let the group past before following in behind.

While sitting off the back CP found a partner in crime in the form of Tim Breznyak, and the two proceeded to up the antics with a series of pre-planned, comedic barrier performances. The first time though they came in and did the set in slow motion – dismount, hurdles, remount, and sprint out. On the second lap they came to a complete stop, orchestrating some ro-sham-bo to see who would go first, and then carried on. The third lap was done backwards. Nice job, guys. That kind of stuff made for a great event. Walsh even had a post race beer – the third one I’ve seen him drink in nearly 12 years.

Another crowd favorite was Mr. Dylan Snowdon, Robot From the Future. There’s something pretty rad – and masochistic – about doing a ‘cross race in such a wack costume. Kudos to you and cheers to Terrascape for a really good event.

Beer, Chili, Robots, Crashes, Disqualifications.

November 1, 2010

BK Memorial CX – Oct 30, Calgary

A pretty interesting two days of ‘cross up here in Cowgary, Oilberta. This was the first weekend since Sept that saw back to back racing, at home, over both days of the weekend and it was nice to not have to drive to Edmonton again. There’s a heck of a lot to be said about rolling out of your own bed and not some hostel, putting on some tunes, opening your fridge and deciding what to eat, then driving familiar roads to go check out the course. Getting kitted up at home is also nice, as opposed to that awkward changing-out-of-the-hatchback-with-a-towel-around-you routine that usually always sees someone get flashed.

Saturday’s race was the BK Memorial, in honor of Brian Kullman, who was a Synergy Racing club member and an avid ‘cross racer. Tragically, BK was murdered about four years ago. I didn’t know Brian really well but he always had a smile and a hello and seemed like a pretty cool guy. I thought of him, wherever he is, washing some frites and mayo down with a cold Duvel and ringing a cowbell for the racers. It was a beautiful, sunny day for it and a great crowd of happy people turned up to race in his name and honor. Bravo.

I started out pretty well in this one. Not ‘pretty well’ in the big picture, but ‘pretty well’ for myself. I settled into the middle of the group and was riding my own race, just looking to ride with skillz and be clean. To finish and to not crash. (That’s foreshadowing, by the way.) It was all going according to plan. Right until midway through lap 2. Just as we hit the asphalt section – which was, luckily, both the fastest and hardest surface on the circuit – and some guy got himself completely off course and thought we were turning right. We weren’t. We were going straight. But he turned right anyway and cruise missiled his Kona Jake the Snake right through my front wheel. Almost like I wasn’t even there. I was on my ass and sliding before I could blink. He apologized, said it was his mistake, all his fault, that kind of thing, but in the end I was the guy picking himself up from the ground, bleeding, and trying to ride three more laps with some new found road rash, soreness, and a discombobulated bike. Total accident though and what can ya do, y’know? Choke a guy? That’s racing and no hard feelings. All good.

I hung in for 2 more laps and around 4 more crashes before I pulled the plug and DNF’d myself. A hard crash early on can really mess with your ability to ride smooth and I sure felt it. I’ve sworn to not DNF, but this was different – I wasn’t pulling out ’cause it was hard – I was pulling out ’cause my bike was rebelling from me after I had augured it into the ground something like a million times. I had pulled the stem back into alignment and reseated the dropped chain twice, but the brake levers were both pushed inward about 4 inches, and I’d almost rolled the front clincher off the rim. It had little tufts of grass under the bead and the tire was no longer seated correctly. It made it damn hard to navigate and nerve wracking to do it at speed with rattled nerves and low confidence. Ah well. There was always Sunday’s race.

Except, for me, there wasn’t any racing Sunday, unfortunately…but that’s my own fault. And vodka can share some blame.

That’s me, top right corner, right before I got passed by 6 dudes. Richard McKenty is flying Synergy colours, second from left, in his 2nd ‘cross showing. Well done, sir! Also in appearance was Alex Kay, who hails from the Ship and Anchor, or the Calgary Velodrome, depending on whether it’s Thursday at 7:00 or Thursday at 9:00.

Richard’s very cool girlfriend, Sanghamitra, showed up with some support and was rad to take photos of other Synergists racing. Cheers! Here I am running the barriers and looking like I want to puke. One thing I’ll say is that I’ve eradicated that little extra hop I used to take before remounting. It’s full on two footed, flying commitment the last 3 or 4 races. Unless I’m cross eyed and have no co-ordination.

These stairs were hard. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Jesus. I just couldn’t do them 2 at a time after the first lap. There was about forty and they came right after a hard left turn so you couldn’t carrying any momentum unless you swung really wide, which was hard to do while clipping out and preparing to dismount and hit the ground running. Keith Bayley designed the course and he’s a devious genius. Super hard. Super fun. So many cool little features kept you on your toes.