Cyclocross Provincials 2010

Big ups to Mr. Dave Roberts for making the Masters A race so exciting to watch! I’ll admit that I probably would be thanking Devin if I raced for Deadgoat for making the Masters A race so exciting to watch… but I don’t race for Deadgoat so the congratulations are strictly for Dave. Ha! John Clarke hung in there like a tough nut and made his bid for the win which was exciting to see. Dave and Devin would have been pretty frustrated if he did indeed get them at the finish but he was too fried. There was also exciting racing going on throughout the field as a group of 5 guys (plus or minus depending on when you count) including Jan Plavec representing Fiera dueled it out for places 7-12. It was clear that they were all racing to their potential and many of them looked to be dieing a thousand deaths, so who cares if they weren’t going for the win, it was great to watch! A bit further back Joe and Darren from Fiera dueled head to head for much of the race, both challenging one another in just the latest match of a few head-to-heads over the past couple weeks. This time it was Darren out on top. The Master B guys raced at the same time and Mark Rumsey of Hardcore took the win. He likely would have been head to head with the lead trio in the Master A group if he didn’t start a minute back with the more seasoned racers. His finish time doesn’t reflect that but we should also consider that he did need to work his way through the vast majority of the younger category over the course of the race. Overall Master A&B was the race of the day to watch!

The women’s race was great as well but unfortunately we watched Katy fly off the front solo and not have Pepper Harlton there to defend her title and give her a run for the money. The race of the day was Bridget Linder vs. Marg Fedyna, for second, who went head to head for another edition of the season-long battle. A crash in the closing section of the final lap gave Bridget the opportunity to go past and hold on for the win. It wasn’t exactly how we wanted to see the race play out but I suppose it’s part of the game when you’re racing on the edge. If you go over the edge you make mistakes. A slip at the dismount into the sand cost Marg the second step on the podium (Who was racing up TWO categories among the elite women!).

The Elite race was also entertaining as we watched Aaron Schooler blow the doors off the competition. It’s nice to know that the guy is a class act, we discussed it on race day and if we had to watch races against someone who was that good all the time and they had a different demeanor we’re not sure how much we would appreciate the talent. Then there was the late charge by Mack Carson trying to tear the last podium spot away from Matt Krahn… which was indeed super exciting. Matt did hold on which is great to see. He has made huge progress since last season.

The two photos are hijacked from Bill Quinney’s Flickr page which has more great snaps of the other races of the day

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Icefields Parkway – the double traverse

This weekend trip has been in the planning for about 6 months. Not a lot of planning happens for sports 6 months in advance of the actual dates except for important things, signing up for races that tend to sell out, setting plans for biking across the entire continent of North America in 9 weeks, deciding to race the cyclocross season and starting to look for a bike… and planning the Icefields Parkway double traverse.

The plan was to ride the entire length of the Icefields parkway in a day, stay overnight at the other end, and then hop back on the bikes the next day and try to do the whole thing again. All total the distance for the weekend would be about 470 kilometers and the climbing would be around 12000 feet, split 5150-6850 between days 1 and 2. Neither day would break my personal records for single day total mileage nor elevation gained but placed back to back it was going to be a challenge. Scheduled at the end of my peaking for the season’s A race this would be a good way to put in some solid hours and good effort in time for the training effect of them to be absorbed in time for race day. It was also going to be an event unto itself, riding 235 kilometers through the mountains is no joke and then doing it all over again the second day made for a plan that was going to be fun. Three brave souls took the bait on this adventure, Ben Adam, Stefan Schreiber and myself. We would meet up overnight with some other friends staying in Jasper for a mountain biking weekend and they could shuttle some clean clothes and extra food for us to recharge and refresh at the halfway point of the adventure.

Saturday morning we set out at 8:25 am with blue skies and cruised up the beginning of the parkway towards Bow Summit, reaching the top with an average speed slightly below 30 kph, 1700 feet had already been gained and as it was still relatively early in the morning our slight headwind wasn’t much to be concerned with. After cresting the pass it was a straight shot down the north slopes of Bow Pass the wind had shifted and we enjoyed a tailwind down to Saskatchewan River crossing. The pass runs about 8% for the first 6 kilometers of descending and with the tailwind I was able to run my speedometer into the low eighties, 84 to be exact. No speed record yet. The tailwind continued along waterfowl lake and all the way down to the river, we averaged 45 kilometers per hour for the 35 kilometer descent. Continuing north our tailwind began to die down as we started the rolling climb towards Sunwapta Pass. The sky was blue and it was here that it really started to heat up. Climbing began well enough here as both Stefan and Ben escaped off ahead, the wind was picking up again as it flowed down the valley away from the glaciers like it normally does meaning that we were cruising straight into a headwind. Reaching the big bend Ben had gapped Stefan by 100m and both were beginning the climb as I was already about 800m back. Off up the second steeper pitch we turned briefly with the tailwind and I opted to pick up some speed to take into the hill. I must have shifted into my big ring here because 4 kilometers of 8% grade climbing later I looked down and noticed I had been running the big ring up the climb, all the lovely 53 teeth of it. A rather stupid mistake on my part but I still somehow managed to generate a climbing rhythm standing in my 53×23 ring and did ascend the hill. Ben and Stefan were literally lying in the ditch waiting for me, we were all pretty happy with having completed the challenge. Another 10 kilometers of riding through the rolling meadow up top to the visitor center and we took another break to recharge our water supplies while Stefan was fraternizing with the tourists.

Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

The descent away from the glaciers meant that the wind was again to our advantage and probably stronger than normal due to the hot day. The descent past Tangle falls is rather exposed to the valley meaning the wind could really blow right on the road. Off down the hill I went, gunning to put that speedometer above 90 kph for the first time. I hardly pedaled into the hill and soon enough was cruising along at 80 kph with a huge smile on. The road straightened out for a stretch and I let things fly and picked up speed quickly maxing out at 94 kph before shooting into the corners. I got up out of my aerobars through a few corners as I didn’t know what was up ahead and slowed back down to a relatively slow and safe 80 kph or so before getting back on the aerobars and scooting out the bottom stretch of the hill regaining speed up to 85 again. The wind continued across the gravel flats and rolling descent all the way to the Poboktan Ranger station. The wind stopped being strictly amazing and started to play games with us for the final 60 kilometers. The generally rolling descent was fun, Stefan and Ben would escape me on the uphills and I would catch them on the downhills and then drag them across the flats. Long stretches were ridden in excess of 40 kph and soon enough we were in Jasper, before 4pm!

We soon enough learned that our friends expected our haggard arrival around 7pm and had surprised them all, we had anticipated an average speed of 30 kph but with the stronger than anticipated tailwind on our two descents of the day we had made up quite a bit of time. I rolled in with an average speed of 33.5 kph, Stefan and Ben being closer to 34 with their earlier arrivals at the tops of some hills. We ate a pre-dinner meal at the local bakery and then a double meal at dinner along with some excellent beers at the Jasper Brewing Company. The rain poured down outside while we sat indoors and tried to consume as many calories as we could instead of burning any more.

Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

Sunday morning’s departure was at 8:00am sharp and while the rest of our friends were still asleep we cruised off to the south while the puddles from last night were drying out. The generally rolling descent to finish the day was a generally rolling ascent now and the balance of climbing to flats was tipped too far to Ben and Stefan’s advantage now. I couldn’t stay with them and needed to set my own pace. It was a frustrating one as I’d reel them in to within a few hundred meters on the flats, just in time to start another climb and then watch them slowly pull away. I was going to have to earn every kilometer of the climb. Again the early morning meant that the wind wasn’t really blowing that strong and as we cruised towards Sunwapta Pass. The views were spectacular and we passed a rather skinny looking black bear on the road. The guys waited for me near the Poboktan Ranger station and I stuck with them across the relative flats towards the base of the Tangle Falls climb. That was until Stefan decided he needed to freshen up his legs before the ascent and started a huge sprint leadout across the gravel flats by Beauty Creek. I was sure that effort would come back to kick him in the back of the head but it proved not to be so. I paused a the bottom of the climb to make sure that the other two got out of sight so I didn’t have to think about them and squeezed a bunch of water out of my camel back, I could refill up top and didn’t need to carry any extra weight. Off I went and the climb was quite enjoyable with the use of all of my gears. At about the halfway point a 10 passenger van was pulled off the road and the people were taking pictures down into the valley, when they saw me coming they all turned around and started taking pictures of me. “Allez Allez!” I had my own little cheering squad on the climb. Arriving to the Icefields Center Dad was on the side of the road, camera in hand to cheer and say hi and give us some food. Expecting him to meet us about 100 kilometers later at the top of Bow Pass, this was a welcome surprise.

Ben first
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Stefan second
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

Josh third
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

We loaded up on water and ate an entire box of oreos between the four of us and because it was chilly and windy up top we got out of there relatively quickly. A quick ride across the alpine meadow got us nicely warmed up before diving off the side of the mountain down the descent. The first half of the hill towards the big corner wasn’t super fast with a side wind and then headwind and I got trapped behind a minivan and then had to pass an RV. After the corner though the wind was with us as we crossed the bridge and shot off to the south. Stefan came by me and I latched on his draft falling through it and overtaking Stefan and then basically at the same time Ben came by. We were three wide screaming down the hill at 82 kph.

Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

The tailwind continued all the way to Saskatchewan river crossing and I towed the other two for a good portion of the trip down to the bridge. Average speed from the visitor Center to the Highway 11 turnoff: 41.3 kph! Our tailwind ended abruptly as we began the long approach to Bow Pass. I stuck with the guys for far more than I would have imagined possible on the long gentle climb. The day did finally start to get warm during this section just when the effort level was beginning to rise as well.

Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

The final assault on the pass’s summit sent off the lead breakaway of Ben and Stefan into the distance with a lone man in the peloton (I am not the groupetto, if they attack then I didn’t get dropped they just broke away) and I managed well enough on the 8% climb 3-4 cogs down in the back. I’m quite obviously stronger this year than last when you stick me on a hill. If you measure fitness by teeth, I’ve got 6 teeth better form this year than I did last year at about this time when we crossed the Colorado Rockies and I took in more than a few climbs at 8%. In terms of strength that’s a whole 20%. The results of the Polka Dot Jersey points on our 4th categorized climb of the weekend were distributed just the same as every other climb:

Ben first
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Stefan second
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

Josh third
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

Victory was celebrated at the top with a little feast from the cooler in the back of Dad’s car and I was getting excited for a bombing descent towards Lake Louise. With 40 kilometers of rolling descent to go we could probably do it in under an hour if we had it in us to keep the effort high, We’re nearly at 200 kilometers on the day and I’m setting out with hopes of cruising through that last hour in the 53×12. Can Ben stay in the draft? One group photo from the top and we’re off for a fun rolling descent. We had averaged more than 29 kph up the hill yesterday morning into the wind so it’s not unbelievably steep but it’s steep enough that having some mass is a huge advantage.

Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009
Photo from gallery: Icefields Parkway 2009

All told Day 2 would total about 20 minutes more riding than Day 1 (average speed 32.2 kph) but with a day of fatigue and a net gain of 1700 feet that was probably to be expected. The wind was probably more favorable both days than we should have anticipated and so if we were to try it again next weekend I’d probably still bet on riding around a 30 kph average speed and completing the ride in around 9 hours. It probably also helped that our group included some guys go quick on the uphills and give me motivation to climb the hills quickly and then someone (me) with more weight to push the big gears on the descents and provide a good draft for the climbers.

Complete photo gallery here

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Jersey City at last!

The tour wrapped up with a bang on Saturday. I’m going to just give an overview of the riding day itself and will write a bit more as far as reflections on the tour as a whole are concerned at a later date… probably within the week. I’ve switched time zones so it’s past midnight according to my internal clock and have to move my stacks of junk from Calgary to Edmonton tomorrow (Monday) so do hope to get to bed sometime soon.

Saturday we awoke to misty conditions and I headed out of camp with Eritia Smit expecting to be quickly caught by Nathan Beach and Josh Nyenhuis once again who were waiting up with Jim Amels who was joining us again for a final day of riding (he rode Denver to Grand Rapids on the Tour). Setting off in the mist wasn’t bad at all as it kept things cool once again and probably knocked down a bit of pollution from the air as well. True to the pattern of the tour Eritia suffered another flat tyre within the first bit of the ride. This one broke the nice even number of 25 for the summer as she padded her record (most flats by one rider) with yet another notch. While we sat at the side of the road and pumped it up again I fully expected the others to catch us… maybe we’re just too fast.

We had our first of four noteworthy climbs for the day and cruised along a beautifully paved road on the downhill before meeting our first locals out with snacks and drinks for us. It was here that Josh, Nathan and Jim caught up and we climbed “climb #2″ and began the long descent towards the Stumblers Inn. It was curvy, lined with trees and went awfully quick. If you know me or have gotten to know me via my writing this summer you’ll know those are synonyms for fun, fun and fun. From there on out we were basically in one city or another one for the rest of the day. Another church had refreshments halfway down a really steep hill and after stopping for watermelon and cookies we opted to climb back up and do the whole hill in one shot. The cheers were great when we went by as they all knew what we were doing. I once again didn’t have my speedometer but Eritia clocked mid seventies on hers as she followed me down the hill. Now that’s not all that impressive considering the pitch of the hill but consider first that this is in town on a small street so the speed limit was 30 miles per hour. We were speeding by nearly 25 kph or 50% over the speed limit!

The houses proceeded to grow in size as we climbed the last hill of the day and up top there were some fantastic mansions that must have overlooked something, but I didn’t see it. More city riding and another stop for refreshments were crammed in there before we were to approach the “staging ground” for the day where our police escort would start. Having 2 hours of time to cover the next 3 miles we stopped for pizza as was pretty much commanded by one of the locals when he said “New Jersey’s Pizza is way better than Chicago’s Pizza”. I have to admit it was pretty fantastic pizza for 11 o’clock in the morning and did actually compare quite closely with the deep dish pizza we had in Palos Heights Illinois.

After gathering all the cyclists together in a parking lot in an industrial park on the outskirts of Jersey City we were to be police escorted for the final 10 miles to the beach at Liberty State Park. I filmed this video of the mass while waiting to get going; there are a lot of us there in case you forgot how many 200 is.

The ride into the State Park and the beach was great fun and while we weren’t rolling at a very quick pace it wasn’t painfully slow either and the 10 miles seemed to be over in a flash. I filmed 4 videos over the course of the ride. One part as we made our way out of the industrial area. One part as we entered town and all ran a red light with the Policeman’s permission. Another video as we entered the park and I pulled off the path and filmed almost all of the cyclists roll past. The final video is of us at the beach gathered together before hitting the water. Len made a few remarks and we said the Lord’s Prayer together just as we did on the shore of the Pacific 9 weeks prior.

That’s it for tonight. I also stocked up the final photo gallery with shots from the final ride as well as added a couple more photos here and there throughout other albums from the summer. Here are a couple highlights from the beach:

beach
beach
beach
beach
beach

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The final morning…

I stopped by the computer this morning to check if those 2 videos I began uploading to Youtube last night actually ended up online. I guess “eventually yes” is the answer so here they are: #1 is coming down a big hill out of Canaan PA. #2 is a time lapse of us unloading the gear truck upon arrival in Sussex NJ.



This morning is quite exciting… everyone semed a bit nervous as I made my way through the gear truck to grab my bike shorts etc etc. Packing up my stuff was rather easy this morning as my tattered ground sheet from my tent went to the garbage and not to the bag. Also the broken chair I’ve been sitting on since Boise Idaho ended up with a same final fate. That makes for a bag that’s much easier to do up the zipper! Last night was wet and pretty much everything is soaked but there is no rain falling at the moment and the prognosis is for a final day with little rain.

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The short one

Today is the day that many have been looking forward to since rear-ends got sore earlier on this week with a bunch of longs days in a row. We had only 55 kms to cover between Kremmling and Winter Park. Ed mandated that the morning wasn’t allowed to start until 6:30 with breakfast. Many of us rejoiced prematurely expecting to get that extra half hour of sleep which wasn’t to be, clanging of tent poles began as usual around quarter past 5 am. Some said it was below 10 degrees this morning when they woke up. By the time I was on the road it was plenty warm enough for just a jersey and shorts though. There really is a difference between 5:00 am and 8:30 am, and one is certainly better than the other in my opinion.

I did my best during breakfast to recruit a few other riders to come with me for a climb up to the local ski hill before getting to camp. I figure that I’ll likely not have the opportunity to train at altitude again for at least a couple years so should soak up the opportunity while possible. That argument didn’t convince very many people, it was only Eritia and myself who were headed for Sol-Vista today.


Before reaching our little detour we passed through sulphur springs canyon just north of the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. It was amazingly beautiful, so beautiful in fact that we decided to do it twice just to make sure it was also amazing in the other direction. Here’s the video:

I have a good internet connection so I got another video online from Monday it’s posted along with it’s corresponding blog entry

We did indeed then make the climb up to the ski hill which was pretty interesting. I’d guess that three or so years ago plans were made for a massive resort expansion surrounding the village, the roads were paved and the lots went up for sale. The bad news is that most of the lots are still up for sale. The good news for us was that there was nice pavement weaving all over the mountain side. Eritia set a personal best for top speed on the way down by drafting off me but the same cannot be said for myself. I cracked 80 kph but what once was a huge milestone isn’t quite as special anymore unfortunately.

Last night Dave Geerlings suggested that we try riding with only one gear on our bikes today. It would give us the opportunity to meditate a bit on what it means to be stuck in poverty. The focus of the effort supported by our fundraising is to try and break those cycles of poverty. After riding 100 miles on Wednesday with only 2 gears and knowing that my knees wouldn’t be pleased with another round of it I didn’t stop shifting gears just made a point of thinking about the luxury each time I had to. What begins as the obvious limitation is selecting a gear that is easy enough. In so many ways many individuals wind up in poverty due to being dealt tough cards. Their place of birth, their family, their acquired skillset, their vulnerability to addiction. What Dave’s exercise with shifting gears did for me though was teach a lesson about the other end of the spectrum. When the gear isn’t hard enough, when there’s no way for me to spin my legs fast enough to make any progress with the pedals. When situations are subject to massive inefficiencies it’s just as difficult to make much progress. When there are loops to jump through to ensure that welfare cheques arrive the focus can wind up on maintaining rather than escaping the situation. When farmers in the third world sell their crops into multinationals corporations for unfair prices their inefficiency in lifting their standard of living is too big an obstacle to overcome alone. It’s here that I feel like I’d like to make a comment about the need for co-operation, about looking out for the bigger picture, Maybe relate the experience with one gear to drafting in one another’s slipstream. Unfortunately the metaphor breaks down about 2 sentences ago so I won’t try to continue.

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One of the best days

Today was no doubt one of the best days thus far on the trip. Our route was long, challenging, beautiful and rather rewarding. The people on the road alongside me were full of hilarious conversation. The weather was splendid, overcast and mid-twenties. I got to sleep in all the way until 6 am.

I’ll make an attempt to give a brief overview of the day because these broad sweeping strokes don’t paint a terribly beautiful picture for everyone who couldn’t ride a bike today.

I have to start out by saying that there was no elevation profile given for the ride today, a blessing and a curse. We knew there was a pass to cross but didn’t know how steep or how high it would be. We didn’t know how soon the climbing started once we left camp and didn’t really know if it was downhill or rolling after that. We set out on our bikes soon after 7 am knowing there were about 150 kms to travel and not a whole lot else.

I teamed up with 5 others while leaving camp, Jeff Schoon, Jenna Zee, Jessica Fox, Julia Wissink and Hilena Zylstra who was quickly re-named Jelena for the day so that she’d fit the mold with the others on the J-team.

We started by loosing around 500 feet of elevation within the first 5 miles. It was downright cold to be blasting along at 60 kph without getting warmed up first but there wasn’t much complaining about that. After a quick left we proceeded to gain that 500 feet back and another 300 within 2.5 miles of highway. If we could coast along at 60 stretched out over 5 miles you can imagine that all that elevation squeezed into a 2.5 mile stretch meant for a bit of a steep “Welcome to Monday Morning!” kind of climb.

When we reached anoverlook and turned around we saw that the downhill grade had a warning for an 8% grade. Serious stuff to accomplish before 7:30 in the morning.

We proceeded to cross a few rolling hills before Hilena… sorry… Jelena got a flat tyre and insisted on changing it herself. 36 minutes later we were rolling along again and that was going to be the flavour of the day, lots of breaks, lots of long breaks, and not a lot of reason for them to be so frequent or so long except that we were in no rush. Jessica and Jeff were long gone, 36 minutes long gone by then and our riding group was whittled down to 4.

The climb to the pass started without much of an announcement, we were following the bank of a small river up the valley and were distracted by the water so didn’t pay much attention to the fact that we were crawling along at 26 kph. 26 soon became 24 and soon became 22, We rolled up to Walter Vink’s support vehicle and filled up our water around the 50 km mark of the day. Everyone felt like our tyres were low on air, that our hubs were full of glue and that our legs were out of practice from taking Sunday off. That lack of elevation profile was probably a good thing, no reason to take on the hill climbing mentality, we just pretended we were slow and needed to rest more than normal.

Walter then told us that we were going to be going up, and that there were about 7.5 miles of it before the peak. That’s a big climb and the mentality changed. We were now climbing a hill. The sluggish legs were traded in for climbing legs and the dawdling minds were traded in for the focused ones. Those 7.5 miles were tough, the climb was steep and the lungs burned more than the legs. We were reaching the level at which elevation would begin to influence the riding, not by much, maybe only 1% but enough to notice and that was exciting in and of itself.

The second to last mile was a real kicker, I was out of the seat in my second to easiest gear (that’s about 2 gears easier than my easiest gear while sitting) and really going at it. The final mile gave a bit of reprieve and soon enough the summit sign was in sight. 9485 feet above sea level to boot.

After taking a much longer than necessary break at the summit and shooting photos with the sign we saw a semi-trailer go past and bemoaned the fact that we weren’t ready to try and draft it down the hill. Just then a second semi trailer came around the bend and John Vanderveen, Alex VanGeest and myself lept into action. We worked harder for the first 2 kilometers of the descent than the entire ascent trying to catch up to the semi trailer on the downhill and finally caught it’s draft. The driver was taking it easy and we could see that the semi trailer ahead of it was going a bit faster. Out of the draft we went, into the passing lane and passed the semi trailer on the downhill at around 75 kph. We worked hard again and I managed to catch the draft of the semi trailer ahead. John also caught on for a stretch but fell off. I was all by myself behind that semi trailer and I had high hopes of breaking 80 kph. Indeed we had a straightaway and the semi trailer let off the brakes a bit and got up to 81.6 kph a new personal record top speed! The semi trailer honked, I backed off and he turned off into a neighbouring farm. I then proceeded to set another record of my own and crossed a cattle grate at 71 kph. I waited up for John and Alex to catch me and together we cruised into the town of Hanna.

I waited up for the J-team at the local cafe and we got some coffee and pie. Everyone else hd the same bright idea and the cafe was standing room only, we ate all of their apple and blueberry pies. Their cherry and peach pies were almost running out by the time we left as well. We guessed that they were supposed to be the entire week’s supply. Leaving town the gradual downhill continued and we cruised along into a moderate headwind for another 20 miles. At this point Jenna decided to have a flat tyre and changed it herself in only 5 minutes much to Jelena’s dismay. It was done 98% correctly but Lawrence and myself needed to get in there and reposition the tube so it wasn’t pinched under the bead because there was no way this was going to turn into another 36 minute tyre changing game.

The ride from there into Duchesne was more downhill and between Jelena and myself we managed to suck John Vanderveen along at 25 miles an hour for almost the entire 18 remaining miles into the headwind without him pedaling at all.

Arriving in camp we had spent 10 hours on the road and ridden for 5 hours and 26 minutes. We had ascended 4700 vertical feet and covered 149 kilometers. Arrangements had been made to use the local pool for showers and a quick swim. The lifeguards there were amazing and didn’t care what kind of stunts we tried on the diving boards, quite opposite to our experiences in La-Grande and Ellensburg. That’s all for now though, I’m off to bed. We’ve got another relatively long day ahead with a moderate amount of climbing, it’s split up though so shouldn’t be too tricky. Rumour is that we’ve got to build a tent shower tomorrow for our stay in Dinosaur, that announcement tonight was greeted with 50% cheers and 50% groans. Read back to the account from Snowville last Thursday if you missed it, I suppose it was a polarizing experience.

A couple of items for prayer:

  • Arnie Isset ruptured his achilles tendon last thursday and has returned to Michigan for medical attention. Pray for complete healing and that he would be at peace with the fact that he likely won’t be able to rejoin the tour this summer.
  • Art Smit (whom I’ve done a lot of riding with this summer) who had a sprained ankle in week one has had knee trouble recently which may or may not be related to a modified riding style trying to keep stress off that ankle. He’s had to take a few days off even though the rest of his body would love to get out and ride. Pray for quick recovery.
  • Stephanie Webb (whom I have ridden with a bit this summer) arrived with knee trouble but has been able to ride each day thus far. Today was too much and she had to pack it in before getting to camp. The decision to take a ride in a vehicle ‘is a very tough one and I couldn’t imagine having to make it for myself. Pray for peace with her decision, that there would be no regrets about having to miss a piece of one day. Pray that she would reap the rewards of not pushing it too far today and that she would be able to successfully ride many more days this week and the rest of the summer.

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The Night Before…

The night before the big day (155 kms and 5700 feet of climbing) I decided to film camp.

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Utah

I set out today at the same time as Johnny Pierce, Marc VanOtteren (Michigan) and John Vanderveen (AB) around 7:30. We took our time across the first 20 flat kilometers and when another crew including Manley Barda, Tyler Buitenwerf and Nathan Beach cruised by and invited me to join them I stepped up the pace. They however stopped to wait at the first water stop halfway up the hill and I had no interest in waiting with them so kept pedalling and completed the hill on my own. I caught Eritia and Brian Garrit at the top of the climb and descended with them. Brian and I headed into Malta together, he let me know that he’s got some of his family reading my blog, Hi!

After chatting with some locals in Malta I picked up a cup of coffee for 50 cents at the gas station and then headed south. There was a huge pack of riders all pointed in the same direction, the largest I’ve seen yet on the tour. Video of the momentous occasion below:

After topping off water bottles the pack broke into half dozen subsets and Eritia and myself were both feeling rather fresh and didn’t bother trying to join any pace-lines. We ascended the next climb which was rather gradual but just seemed to go on and on forever. The headwind picked up towards the end and we were really working to hold 25 kph. The road was dead straight for many miles at a time and we had a heat mirage to watch as we rode.

heat mirage

After reaching the summit at around 100 kms we entered Utah. That’s a first time for me. To be honest it looks a lot like southern Idaho so far. Beautiful plains of sagebrush stretching off into the distance and medium sized mountains with patches of trees off in the distance. I quite enjoyed the scenery today, some are getting sick of the desert, I’m still happy to continue enjoying it at least until Saturday when we start into the Rockies.

We peeled off down the gentle decline for the next 25 miles into Snowville and I held a pace of 38 kph through a stiff sidewind. Eritia parked right in the draft over my left shoulder and for the next hour we watched as our destination grew slowly closer and closer. It’s not often that you can see where you’re going for a whole hour at once. I enjoyed it.

We had beat the gear truck into camp and arrived 2 minutes after Hans Doef and Aaron Carpenter (who we could see for about half an hour but couldn’t seem to catch. We pulled into the local cafe, dumped half a salt shaker into our glasses of water and ordered some fries. When the truck showed up we unloaded and got to work setting up. The shower we built here consists of one of our dinner tents shrouded in a tarp with a hose hanging from the roof. The temperature of the hose water is manageable but still garnered a few “Oh shit this is cold” comments from some of the more elderly men. Considering the fact that early on this summer some of the women were commenting on the “learning curve” about the communal showers in the change rooms today’s takes the cake. A dozen naked guys lined up in a hundred square foot tent to take their turn under the hose moves beyond learning to just plain laughing. I think we’ll only have potentially two more such shower situations.

The forecast said 94 degrees, and when you’re not travelling very quickly the breeze doesn’t cool you down as nicely as when you’re cruising along. I could really tell the difference between our pace of 38 kph and the 25 we did while taking in a bit of food. I can imagine that the 15-20 kph pace would be sweltering. I’ve overheard some comments while sitting here and typing that the support crew has had a rough day. That basically means that some of the weaker riders are having a tough go of it today and many are still out there as of 5pm while I’m writing this. Others have arrived and are pretty beat from the day. Len Riersma (Ohio) was rather tired at the end of the day and didn’t make it very far past setting up his tent before crashing, his feet still protruding from the tent. (photo below)

len

P.S. Thanks for the notes of encouragement via email.They’re… well… encouraging… you can also say hi by posting a comment on the website here.

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Vlog – A random selection of videos

Vlog – I’ve given up on uploading videos in any chronological order and am going to make attempts in order of potential entertainment value. Here goes:

Ertia Smit and myself headed down towards La Grande together on Tuesday of Week 2.

Sweep Team rolling from Zillah into Sunnyside, sorry about the camera orientation at the end. I don’t have infinite flexibilty to keep it upright when behind my back.

Heading downhill with a tailwind from Baker City to Huntington through sagebrush and rattlesnake country.

Rolling into Yakima from Selah Washington down the bike path.

Setting off from Golden Gardens Beach in Seattle, to get going for the first day of our 9 week journey.

I also got a whole bunch of photos online from Week 2 which can be found in the Week 2 Gallery

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VLog – Day 1

Vlog 10 – Filmed at Golden Gardens Beach

That’s all for now, I have another video but am having trouble getting it online. Hang tight, it’ll happen at some point in the next couple days or weeks.

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