42. Why YOU Need to Race a Weekly Series.

Wohoo. It’s The Middle of the Week!

team-colin-King-Weekly-Series.jpgWait, what?

I know what you’re thinking:

Ugh, it’s the middle of the week.

Last weekend was so long ago, and next weekend is sooooo far away.  Hump Day…the day before Hump Day…the day after Hump Day…

Ugh.

That’s not what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking:

Wohoo, it’s the MIDDLE of the week.

Because whichever day it is in the middle of the week, it’s a weekly series race day–and that’s awesome.

So very very awesome.

I’m tired, I have work legs, I’m behind on every chore that ever existed, and my back and shoulders are still a mess of aching tightness, but for about an hour this evening, NONE OF THAT will matter.

What will matter will be my legs and my lungs, the trail, and the trees, and an hour or so of white knuckle, kick-ass, fast-paced shredding, with a bunch of awesome bike minded people.

Weekly race series.  Boom.

A few weeks ago, I gave a complete list of other alternatives to a weekly series race.  They included

  • Laundry
  • Cutting the lawn
  • Washing the dishes
  • Doing homework (what, I’m a teacher, I call it homework too)
  • Watching tv
  • Cleaning your bike after racing the Epic 8 Hour or or other big boss awesome race (the only REAL acceptable option on this list)
  • Any other mundane daily task that flesh is heir to

To be clear, I just quoted part of a line from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.  He didn’t have a bike, but if he did, I’m pretty sure he would have said “To ride, or not to ride” instead of sulking about his castle wearing his little tights and taunting poor Ophelia.

For me, a weeknight ride is a stolen ride.  It’s stolen from all those things listed above. But all those things can wait.  It’s true.

Riding can not wait.  It’s more true.

The dishes will either grow legs and walk away, or somehow they’ll get done.  The grass will get longer, but you can cut it tomorrow.  The laundry isn’t an issue because we’ve all got something else in our closet to wear, and if we really want to wear last week’s dirty pants, we can just take them out of the hamper and put them on (really, they were okay when they hit the pile, and they’ll be okay if we put ’em back on for another day.

But a missed riding experience is something we can never get back.  The trail will never be the same as it is today…it could rain tomorrow…my bike might get stolen..there could be a zombie apocalypse…

Really, with those options, I think we’d all be fools if we DIDN’T race in the middle of the week.

It’s odd.  Riding has kind of (but not really) taken a back seat for me lately.  In the past month and a half, I did 4 big races, two weekly series races, a few little rides here and there, and 5 blog posts, but I  feel like I have to spend weekdays recovering from a weekend haul, and haven’t been riding as much as I should.

And that’s the great thing about a weekly series race.  I’m registered for a season, so the details (and even the decision) have already been established.  Having a definite date and time planned for a weekly ride is a great thing indeed.  Oh, and I get to play bikes with friends.

What?  You’re not a racer?

You feel intimidated?

You don’t think you can do it.

Well…

Yes you are a racer–everyone is a racer.

There’s no need to feel intimidated because weekly races are ALWAYS chill, casual, and relaxed.

And yes you can.  If I can race, ANYONE can race.

Here are five reasons why a weekly series is awesome:

  1. They’re less than an hour long
  2. The organizers will answer any email questions that you have, and help you through the whole process
  3. The people who race weekly series are the people you want to know (just trust me on this)
  4. They’re a great way to introduce yourself to a big race experience, and they’re not as tough as you’d think.
  5. While there are riders who are there to COMPETE, most are there just to ride hard. So, if you’re really worried about riding with a big mean group, seed yourself at the back of the pack, and within a few minutes, you’ll probably be riding alone.

Oh, and here are three simple rules to doing a weekly race:

  1. If you need to pass someone, ask, wait for a good spot, and announce which side you’re passing on.
  2. If someone asks to pass, pull aside when you can, and tell them to pass.
  3. Stick around after the race to chat with other riders.

By the way, I usually race the King Weekly series on Tuesday nights, but I’ve raced Durham too, and I plan to take a stab at each of the following this summer: Kelso; Coulson Hill; Durham; Hardwood Hills; and Albion Hills.  I’ve got links to each race after this post.

With all of the great weekly race series to choose from, and the now discredited list of alternatives, it isn’t a tough choice. Honestly, there is no better way to experience some great racing, some great camaraderie, and some of Southern Ontario’s awesomest trails.

And if you choose not to ride in the middle of the week, just remember Hamlet.  He didn’t ride, and look at what happened to him.  It involved a sword, some poison, and a bit of agony…

Ride.

PS

A few lines that didn’t make the blog:

Hey Laertes, instead of a duel, let’s go for a rip?

Shall we ride a lap, lady?

Frailty, thy name is a cracked frame.

Neither a non-rider or a non-racer be…

This above all: to the ride be true.

Something is rotten in the state of my cycling shoes.  Methinks tis my socks.

Links to weekly series sites.  Click and race!

And here’s a link to a Race Calendar blog that I wrote a while back.  It’s got bigger races, bigger awesomeness, and a summer full of great riding!

39. King Race Series ’17

King-weekly-series-team-colin.jpgWhat are you doing when you get home from work on Tuesday night?

If you’re a rider, you have four choices:

  1. Go for a ride.
  2. Relax and watch tv.  Here’s Tuesday’s television schedule.  If you just clicked that link, you suck.
  3. Cut the lawn, do the laundry, or otherwise occupy yourself with household non-bike drudgery.
  4. Race!

Note the punctuation in the list above.  While “Ride” is a viable option, “Race!”, is the clear choice.

King-Weekly-Series-team-colin.jpg
King Weekly Series!

The Spring Season is in full bloom, and it’s time to start riding, racing, and riding some more, because even though the winter just ended, there are only 7 more months of guaranteed riding awesomeness before the Spring/Summer/Fall season is over and the snow starts to fall.

And there is no better way to enjoy a spring ride than to race the King Weekly Series. It’s happening every Tuesday night of the season, and here’s the thing:  It’s a race, but not really.  Sure, if you’re hungry and want to win, you can go out and give it your best shot–although be warned that some choice riders are going to be doing the same thing–but if you just want to get on your bike with a bunch of other bike minded people (I am so using this term more often), and push yourself harder than you do on a regular ride, a weekly series race is the way to go.

The course is different each week, the vibe is relaxed and communal, and Jamie and crew will walk you through whatever hesitations you have.

Here are the Top Eleven reasons why the King Weekly Series is for YOU.  Yeah, eleven reasons…because Team Colin goes to eleven.

  1. The series is a well kept secret, and that means small crowds.  Small crowds mean a better chance of snagging a door prize, and if you’ve got the lungs for it, fewer racers means a possible spot on the podium (Of course, there is no podium at the weekly races–just an announcement–but if you win the series, there is a podium ceremony at the end of the season).  Oh, and sometimes Team Colin Hats are a door prize.  Yeah, boom.
  2. Treats!  When it’s warm, someone usually brings frozen treats (HINT:  it’s Team Colin). FYI, watching a bunch of gnarly MTBers trying to look gnarly while eating a popsicle is awesome.  Spoiler alert:  they look the opposite of gnarly.  There is also a free pizza night, a free BBQ night, and sometimes even home baked goods!
  3. Jamie Davies.  I love this guy.  Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the boss MTB vibe, maybe it’s the AWESOME courses he creates.  Whatever it is, I just love him.  (Don’t worry Ryan and Tristan, I love you two too!).  By the way, if you haven’t seen Jamie grace a bike seat, you HAVE TO.  This guy is FAST.  Like, smoking fast.  Dude can ride.
  4. Centennial Park. It may not be big, but it’s filled with some great technical features, some grunty climbs, a few hairy descents, and lots of new stuff each year.  It’s a tiny mecca of MTB nirvana.
  5. 15/20.  It only costs 15 bucks to race (or $175 for the season), and there are 20 races. between April 25th and September somethingth.
  6. Here’s another name:  Tyler Clark.  Tyler is the 2016 U17 Canadian National MTB champ!  Two days after a winning run in Baie-Saint-Paul, he clocked a blistering time at the King Series.  How did he win a Canadian National Championship?  Surely, it was his time spent doing the King Weekly Series…  By the way, his siblings are pretty awesome too.  ALL of the Clarks race the King Series.
  7. The King Weekly Series has a Facebook page!
  8. Two words.  Drew.  Bezanson.  Drew and I are totally BFFs.  It’s true.  Here’s what I wrote about my bestie (he loves it when I call him that) after he raced the King Series last year.  Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson.
  9. The Bateman’s Bicycle Company team riders.  A bunch of them race the series.  Want to watch some hardcore MTB riders do their thing–these guys are awesome. Store owner, Robert Bateman sometimes rides too, and he just books it.  If you ride as slow as me, you can watch them shred the trail as they skim past you in the last lap.
  10. Laps.  Yeah, laps.  It’s usually a 3k to 4k lap.  That means you can easily book through a practice lap before the race starts and try to master some of the fun stuff. Also, with short laps, you can experiment with pacing and pretty much ride full out.
  11. Kids.  The course and vibe of a King Race is totally kid friendly.  It’s not Kid-Easy, because, you know, MTB, but it’s Kid-Doable.  Jamie has a kid, many racers bring their kids. There’s even a reduced kid price.  You should bring your kids. If you don’t have any, please think about your MTB responsibility.  The fruit of your loins is the next wave of MTBers.  Now get out there and make a kid!

Here’s a bonus.  If you’ve read to the bottom of this list, and if you comment on this blog, YOU are entered into a draw to race for free one Tuesday this summer.  Jamie Davies has authorized Team Colin to grant the awardment (totally a real word) of one race each month.  That’s one draw in April, one draw in May, one draw in June, one draw in July, one draw in August, and one draw in September.  The best thing is that if you win, you don’t have to race in that month.  Contest Rules:  1.) If you haven’t raced in the series before, I’m going to put your name in twice.  2.) There are no other rules.

I wrote about the King Series a few times last summer.  If you want to get a feel for the course, click one of these:

Can I talk about Evolution Cycles for a sec?  They run the series.  They are awesome. Like any great bike shop, they are everything bikes! Whether you are a beginner or a pro, road, fatbike, or MTB, or anything in between, they will nurture and support you.  If your current bike shop doesn’t make you feel like a pro, find a new bike shop.  If you’re close to Yonge and Major Mackenzie, it should be Evolution Cycles.   When you walk out of Evolution Cycles, you feel like a team rider.  If you can’t find parking right in front of the store on Yonge Street, park in the back and use the back door.  There’s a sign.

When I get home from work on Tuesdays this summer, I’m going to have a few choices. I will be tired.  I may want to have a dirt nap.  I may want to just bake my brain in front of the TV.  There will be buckets of laundry.  There will be grass that needs to be cut.  There will be chores and homework and errands and all sorts of life that need tending.

There will also be the King Weekly Series.  Everything else will just have to wait.

Ride.

 

PS.  Hey, do you have a question about the series? Do you want to try a race, but think it may not be for you, or have questions?  Comment below, or send an email to me at: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

By the way, if you want to try a weekly series, they are all awesome.  I like King on Tuesdays, but check out these other races too.  You won’t regret it.

 

News: It’s A Fundemic!

UPDATE:  April 10, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS TO CASS K., WINNER OF THE GRAND PRIZE (XCM RACE REGISTRATION, JOYRIDE 150 PASS, RYDERS SUNGLASSES–COURTESY OF CYCLE SOLUTIONS–FREE REGISTRATION TO A KING WEEKLY SERIES RACE, 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL–ON MAY 6th–AND A TEAM COLIN HAT.  BOOM.

CONGRATULATIONS ALSO TO JEFF S., WINNER OF A KING SERIES RACE REGISTRATION, AND 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL.  SMALLER BOOM.

Thanks to Dan Marshall and Substance Projects, Cycle Solutions, Joyride 150, Evolution Cycles, and DMBA.  So fun.

The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic

Yep, a Mountain Bike Fundemic!  AND IT JUST GOT BIGGER!!!

Once again, mountain biking is about to get a wee bit awesomer, with the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic (not to be confused with last Fall’s Team Colin Epic Boom Giveaway Spectacular).

What exactly is the Team Colin Epic Prize Boom Fundemic?  It’s a boatload of prizes, that’s what.

UPDATE    Not only is it all of the cool stuff listed below, but it now includes a PAIR of passes to the Durham Mountain Bike Demo Festival on May 6.  Wickedly rad.  

Dan Marshall from Substance Projects has authorized the Team Colin Blog to give away a free registration to one of his XC Marathon races this season.  Sweet.

The good folks at Joyride 150 want to help you get in shape for the race season–or maybe just have some fun going for a sweet rip on their new FLOW TRAIL–and have authorized Team Colin to include a day pass to the park.  Boom.

But wait, there’s more.  Evolution Cycles run the King Weekly Race Series every Tuesday night, from May to September, and Jamie Davies doesn’t want you to feel left out, so he is giving away a free registration to one of their weekly rips.  Pick a Tuesday night from May to September, bring your A-Game, and bust a lung at Centennial Park.  Kapow!

And there’s even more!  Matt Morrish and Cycle Solutions  have Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, and the want you to look cool.  Bam!

And to top it all off–literally–how about a Team Colin hat?  Team Colin hats are the perfect way to celebrate the Team Colin Experience.  Kaboom.

To recap:

  • Free registration for an XCM race this season.
  • Free Joyride 150 day pass
  • Free pair of sweet Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, courtesy of Cycle Solutions
  • Free registration to a King Weekly Series race
  • 2 passes to the DMBA Demo Festival on May 6
  • Free special edition, artisanal cotton, blue camo Team Colin hat

It’s a Fundemic!

Entering is easy.  If you already follow the Team Colin blog, or if you already follow the Team Colin Facebook page, just type a sentence with the word “Fundemic” on the blog or the Team Colin Facebook page (yeah, it’s that easy).  However, if you aren’t part of the team, all you have to do is one of the following things:

OPTION 1:  Follow the Team Colin Blog.  It’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it at any time after the draw.

OPTION 2:  Follow the Team Colin Facebook Page.  Once again, it’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it any time after the draw.

The draw will be held live on Facebook, on April 10, at 5:57 PM.  Yes, Team Colin’s kids can’t eat supper until they make the draw.

THE SMALL PRINT:
Total value of “The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic” is, like a billion dollars*
The draw will be held LIVE ON FACEBOOK, on April 7, 2017, at 8PM.  Enter before that date to be eligible.
A full list of contest rules can be found at: http://www.there_are_no_rules.com
Unfortunately, if you can’t meet Team Colin at one of the XCM races, the hat and sunglasses cannot be mailed–but you still get your free registration to the races, the DMBA Demo Festival passes, and the Joyride 150 park pass,
Finally, the terms, conditions, and prizes in the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic may change because you know, Team Colin makes mistakes and forgets lots of things.
*estimated value

22. Drew Bezanson

Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson.

Yup, THAT Drew Bezanson.  THE Drew Bezanson.

I went riding with my pal Drew Bezanson, and my pal Mark Summers, and my pal Noah Summers, and my pal John (and his pal from work), and my pal Ty, and my pal Erin, and all my pals from Joyride 150.

Team Colin rode in Durham Forest yesterday morning, with the Joyride 150 staff ride. Everyone from Joyride 150 was there (except Leslie and Matt, who stayed at the park): 18 riders in total. Sweet.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I’d like to paint a picture of this. In the lead, there was Mark Summers, a cycling legend: strong, powerful, agile, and graceful. Close behind Mark was either his son, Noah, or Drew Bezanson. Noah is like a power jack rabbit. Strong pedal strokes, sailing over every feature with ease and grace. Drew is, well, he’s a pro BMX rider, and rides like it’s an X-Games session. Pro athletes bring an A-game that is hard to describe. Then came Ty, who is a cross between Mark and Noah. Strong, graceful, and super jumpy. And then the rest of the group—a bunch of BMXers, riding a bunch of borrowed bikes, on awesome XC trails, like they were back at Joyride. If you rode at the back of the pack and looked toward the lead, you would have seen a head or two bopping up every second to jump something. 18 riders, but there were never more than 14 sets of wheels on the ground. Somewhere in that mix was me, smiling from ear to ear, whooping every time I hit a sweet feature, sometimes getting hung up (so embarrassing, so deeply embarrassing—especially in front of the guys…) wearing a full spandex kit in a sea of Fox baggies and general coolness, but fitting in nonetheless, because part of their coolness was the fact that they knew they were in riding in my world (and still accepting me, even when there were better than me).

If I sound like a fanboy, it’s because I am. Watching these athletes do what they do best was humbling, awe inspiring, and just plain fun.

Fun to be part of a group. Fun to ride with friends. Fun to watch a bunch of BMXers, who were way out of their element (even though an observer would have never guessed). There was a great rivalry and camaraderie, and they just wanted to rip. One of the younger guys rode so hard that he barfed, and it was awesome. It’s never cool to yak on a trail, but he did it, waited for a minute, wiped his chin, and got right back on his bike to let it fly. Actually, it was my bike that he was riding—I have to remember to clean my grips… It was just like the Blog #3 (JOYride 150) that I wrote earlier this year, after a school trip to Joyride. He was riding for the joy if it, and loving every adrenaline filled, barf spewing, sweet single track, minute of it. All of us were.

20160830_115305(0)

Joy. Ride. It’s no coincidence that this was a Joyride 150 staff ride. Mark and Leslie have built cycling nirvana, and their staff embody everything that’s great about the sport. It’s hard to imagine they knew what they were creating a few years ago, or that they ever guessed it would become such a draw for cyclists in the area, but Tuesday was the direct offspring of the magic seeds they sowed—the owner, with his staff and one of his boys, the pro that trains at the park, and the middle aged guy who found his passion for riding at the park, all riding together.

Ride Report: Joyride 150 Staff Ride at Durham Forest. August 30, 2016.
The trails at Durham are so much fin, and were that much better with such an awesome crew. There was lots of good natured hassling and equal amounts of encouragement, but this report is going to focus on my pal Drew. Why? For the same reason that I titled this post “Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson (Full Disclosure: I’m not really Drew’s pal, unless the fact that he knows my name and I love him counts as pals). You see, Drew thought it would be fun to spend the day chirping me and teasing me. “Mark, Drew’s bugging me again” was my soundtrack for the day. He chirped me for standing on my bike to grind up a big climb (while he sailed past me, sitting, like he was actually descending). He ripped past me, doing a little tail whip that placed the perfect amount of sand, in the perfect location, directly on my shoes. He just kept razzing me. Well, who has the last laugh now Mr. Drew Bezanson Pro BMX, Red Bull guy? Yup, for the rest of eternity, whenever someone Googles “Drew Bezanson”, somewhere under the X-Games championship videos, the “Uncontainable” videos, the Red Bull videos, the Joyride 150, Crankworx, and “Learning Curve” videos, there’ll be the Team Colin Blog, and a big picture of Drew and his pal, me.

Epic boom.

By the way, if I wasn’t being clear, ITWASAWESOME to be teased by Drew. He’s not just one of the best BMXers in the world, he has the good looks of an entire boy band, charm to match, and an honest niceness about him that is disarming, welcoming, and genuinely cool.

Oh yeah, the ride report. It was a sweet ride, and after the ride, I joined the staff back at the bike park for pizza. When my face was fully stuffed, they rode at the park, and I went home to nap. I think Drew went back to Olympus…

End of ride report.

And even though some of us have a family to think about, or a bike park to run, or sponsors to maintain, or a heavy weight on their shoulders (a burden that each of us would have gladly shared if it would have made the load a bit lighter); and even though we were a middle aged XC racer, or a slightly older bike park owner, or a Red Bull pro, a 20 something guy who’s about to start college next week, or an almost 30 something who is about to start a corporate job the week after, or a millwright, or just a guy who likes to thrash on his BMX (who brought his younger brother), for a few hours on a late summer day, we played on our bikes.

We were out for a rip, and nothing else mattered. You can’t beat that.

Ride.

 

PS

Tuesday morning was awesome. But then, by some the grace of the Cycling Gods, the day got better. A whole lott better. The final King Weekly Series race of the season.

Here’s my Facebook post that night:

WHAT A GREAT DAY OF PLAYING BIKES! First, I got to rip the trails at Durham Forest with these happy riders (even though Drew kept making fun of me) at the Joyride150 Indoor Bike Park staff ride. Then, I got to race the final King Weekly Series of the summer with this guy. Note: I’m pretty sure Drew Bezanson and I are now best friends. It’s totally true.

Under the post was the sweet shot of me and Drew.

Yeah, my pal Drew came to the King Weekly Series. In the last lap, he passed me (and let me tell you, it took him long enough to finally lap me—honestly Drew, I expected more from you…), and let me tell you, if the events of the day were awesome, the moment that he sailed past me was the highlight. It was like I was in “BMX: The Movie”. He RIPPED a berm that wasn’t even there, cornering like the BMX pro that he is. He was an absolute boss; low to the ground, bars counter steering, dirt flying. It was like watching an artist create a masterpiece. IT WAS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!

My family was there too, and they got to see their dad casually chatting with a pro athlete after the race. Pretty sweet.

After the race, the organizers from Evolution Cycles, and some of the racers, went to a pub for wings and talk. Jamie Davies, the owner of Evolution Cycles, and organizer fo the race said “How’d you get Drew to come?”. That’s the magic of Team Colin, baby. Plus, Drew’s totally my BFF.

Tuesday was everything I love about the word of bikes.  I’m not sure if it was wise to ride twice on Tuesday, especially with the Substance Poojects XC Marathon Championship coming up this Saturday, but a chance to ride is a chance to ride.  Two chances are just awesome.

 

 

14. Angry Face Bike

My Revolver has been pretty angry with me these days.

After a lousy performance at the Single Track Classic a few weeks ago due to a worn cassette (yeah, that was the ONLY problem), I needed a repair. So, I replaced the rear cassette and chain. Unfortunately, I also needed the chain rings replaced, which I didn’t do, so I went to Tuesday night’s race a few weeks ago without working gears, and lacking the ability to crank the one gear that I had.

It’s okay bike, I forgive you. Because I learned something.

I learned that if I can’t book it at a race pace, I can just ride. And that’s okay. It was nice to just get out and pedal through the forest. No burning lungs. No wobbly legs afterwards. No cramps. No sore wrists and throbbing back. Good lesson.

And my placing wasn’t horrible either. Really, I was just a few spots behind my usual standing. It made me think. If I can just ride at a normal pace in races, I’ll still do okay, and I might not be so zonked after the race. So there really isn’t a need to give 200% of myself in a race. Not just a good lesson; a good lesson with a handy outcome.

Thankfully, that half-baked, idiot-moron-dumbass reasoning lasted about as long as a tub of my hair product. Which is to say, it didn’t last long. What? Don’t touch my hair.

If I’m not riding in a race at race pace, it’s not a race.  Race pace shouldn’t be easy. Or fun. Or relaxing. It should be nasty and gritty, and involve lots of aching, cramping, and wobbliness.

I feel alive when my lungs are on fire. My body likes wobbly legs (because it makes me appreciate when they aren’t). And when I’m not cramping, it’s because I’m not moving, which is a giant waste of time.

And even though racing isn’t fun, and it comes with lots and lots of cussing, mixed with copious bouts of “Why am I putting myself through this?” the feeling afterward is always worth it.

On the other hand though, it would be nice to get a bit better.

So, after the moronic notion to “just ride” in races dissipated, I started thinking about a nagging idea I’ve had for a while: Pace. Pace? It’s been dogging me for some time, but I can’t seem to nail it down. I start a race and give it everything I have for every second until I have nothing left to give, and then I keep giving a very diminished everything until the finish.

But I have to reexamine that approach, because I am a mess at the end of a race. I don’t want to start lollygagging in a race like I’m in a parade. I’m talking about a calculated pace that will enable me to perform better, and ride across the finish line instead of scamper across it. In his blog “Riot On Racing”, Michael Tourond calls us zombies.

But I don’t want to be a zombie… What’s the emoji for petulance?

Pacing. I know it sounds pretty obvious to experienced riders, but it’s a huge challenge for those of us just starting—yes I still feel like I’m just starting even though I’ve been racing for four years—and when race starts, I immediately struggle to keep up with the pace because I don’t want to be stuck behind a slower rider. Survival takes over, and pace takes a backseat. And that’s stupid, because I’m not racing them.

I’m racing me.

So I’ve been investigating on the Google.

And on the Google I found a few things.  Unfortunately, my investigation raised a bunch of new questions. First, what on earth is Functional Threshold Power? Second, VO2? Seriously? Third, J-Shaped what now? Finally, huh? Just plain huh?

And to make matters worse, everything seems to be written for elite racers, and riders with a normal body type. However, when you’re like me–anything but average–the game is entirely different. I get it, we all have different body types and physiologies, and a multitude of other challenges, but I just can’t believe that the pacing and output considerations for a 150 pound rider are the same for a 250 pound rider. If they were, and I could match my power-to-weight ratio to other riders, I’d melt the rubber off my wheels.

Sonic Boom.

So if pacing and output are very precise considerations, and small changes make a huge difference for everyone else, where does that leave me, the husky rider–Hey, that would have been a great name for this blog: The Husky Rider.

And while I was thinking about all of this, I realized that it was Tuesday again, and Tuesday means King Weekly Series. Why think about pacing in a race, when I can actually pace in a race. So I experimented with pacing on Tuesday night.

Race Report:  King Weekly Series (June 14, 2016)  

Pacing For The Husky Rider (Hey, I knew that term would come in handy):

First, I did half of a warm-up lap, and it felt great. Ding. One point for my pacing experiment.

Then, because I was out on the trail warming up, I got to the starting line a bit late. No worries. I was two minutes behind the pack, and that meant I wouldn’t be relying on their pace. So I rode hard, at my pace. Not a killer race pace, but a very strong pace (which felt great because of the warm up). Ding. Another point for my pacing experiment.

After the first lap, I felt strong, so I rode a bit harder. And the funny thing is that I had matches to burn. Usually it takes me a long time to warm up in a race, but by the time I’m warmed up, I’m spent because I burned through all of my matches.

But I hadn’t burned any matches, so I still had a full pack. Ding.  A third point for my pacing experiment.

It all worked. My body was primed for a ride, I felt power as I rode, not struggle, and by the third lap (and the fourth lap that I did just because) I was able to amp-up my output a bit–because I could. I started a bit slower, I attacked the climbs, and reassessed my output as I rode (instead of my usual coping with my lack of power).

So I rode.

And my results for the night? Crap. None of it worked. If I had booked it at race pace, I probably would have been about a minute (or even two) faster per lap.

End of Race Report.

But thanks to my moody bike, I at least have a benchmark. I’m going to look into four areas:

  1. Warming-Up. This one is obvious.
  2. Neutral Starting. But I’m going to call it “Team Colin Starting” and try to ride my pace at the beginning. My races are long. If I get stuck behind someone, I’ll find time to pass them, which leads me to the next point.
  3. Power to Attack: If I have matches to burn, I’ll burn them when I need to pass, or when I need to climb.
  4. Reevaluating My Output: If I have more to give during a race, I’ll give a bit more. If I don’t, I’ll pull back a little.

And I’ll have plenty of time to put these things into practice this weekend at Dan Marshall’s “Northumberland Humbler” (A Substance Projects race), which is one of my favourite races of the year (although I think they’re all my favourites). I pre-rode much of the course twice on the weekend: Saturday and Sunday. It was a killer both days. I saw another single speed racer, Bob Ramsey, on both days. He’s awesome. He smokes me. How on earth am I supposed to beat a guy like him when he’s already way better than me, and training at least as much as me—and probably more? The answer is easy. I’m not. Because I’m not racing Bob. Or anyone else. I never was, and I likely never will be. I’m racing me.

And I’ve won every race I’ve ever done.

Ride.

 

PS.  It’s all better with my bike now.  We had a talk and worked things out.

11. It’s Tuesday Night!

It’s Tuesday, and that means one thing.  King Weekly Series race.  I know I already wrote about the King Weekly Series a few weeks ago, but I want to write about it again because something really awesome happened in the last week.  Ted Anderton (King of Photography, and the man who is responsible for most of the awesome shots on this blog) and Dan Marshall (King of Substance Projects and General Coolness) shared my blog on their Facebook pages.

BOOM!

Aside from being awesome and cool that people (okay, only two people) liked my writing enough to share it with other people, it was sweet to watch the power of the internet take over.  Within a few hours of sharing the Team Colin Blog (hey, that’s me), traffic to the blog went from the usual 2 or 3 visitors a day, to about a hundred visitors.

WordPress even sent me a message saying that my page was “Booming”.  Honest, they totally used that word.

I don’t know if people will return to the blog, but for anyone who does, I’m going to give some advice. Many riders already know it, but if I can encourage just one person, I’ll feel even more chuffed than I usually do (which is a lot because I am always chuffed).   My advice is this:  DO A WEEKLY SERIES.  Holycowtheyareawesome.  Like I said a few weeks ago, and like anybody who works regular day hours knows, a weeknight ride is a stolen ride.  It’s stolen from laundry time, watching tv time, cleaning time, errand time, and the list goes on.  But all those things can wait.

Riding cannot wait.  And weekly series races are so much fun.  Great people, relaxed and chill atmosphere, fast and furious courses, and soooo good for the body.  I did a bunch of King Series races last summer, and one Thursday night race in Durham Forest, and each time, I felt invigorated and renewed for the work week.  This summer, I’m going to try to make it to the other two series:  Coulson Hill on Wednesday, and Hardwood Hills on Thursday night.  I might even bust out three the same week.

Honestly, with three weeknight of races to choose from, there is never an excuse to be tired and cranky after work.

Wash the clothes on Monday night.  Pick up some groceries on the way home from work on Friday.  Clean under the fridge on Sunday evening.

Do a weekly series race on one of the other nights.  Or maybe even two or three of the other nights…

You’ll feel better, connect with other riders, and support a local bike shop or race organizer.

That is all.

Ride.

9. King Weekly Series

When I got home from work this evening, my feet were sore from a savage day.  In fact, I was so spent from the day, I left work earlier than usual and got home before my kids so that I could have a ten minute dirt nap.

The all-too-brief nap did nothing to soothe my sore, throbbing, swollen feet.

But tonight was the second race in the King Weekly Series.

Sore feet, aching back…bike race on a Tuesday night…

Sooo tired, just want another nap…bike race on a Tuesday night…

Swollen feet from standing all day…bike race…

Tired…bike race…

Bike race!

And so, I wolfed down dinner with my kids, ignored their pleas to “play with me”, changed the tires on my bike, showered off the funk of the day (well, I tried to), and got in my van for the wretched 45 minute drive to the far west, far north, end of the city for a, wait for it, bike race.

Toronto had other plans.  Those plans included: traffic jams; some traffic; a bit of traffic; and traffic.  Good times.

All was well though, because I was going to a ride my bike.

And so, at the end of a gong-show of a work day, and after the drive to the race when it seemed like I was actually driving in reverse, and with two clumps of feet at the bottom of pasty white spring legs, I made it to the race.

And it was awesome.

Riding a bike on a weekday, when you have a job and a family, always feels like a stolen piece of time.  I feel like someone is going to tell my mom, and she’ll call me inside to finish my homework.

To make it even better, Jamie, Ryan ,and the guys at Evolution Cycles are such a cool part of the cycling community.  They make great courses, put on a great event every Tuesday of the summer, and welcome and encourage everybody who comes out.  Each time I see them, at every race, and on every lap, they are shouting words of encouragement, ringing a bell, or just being cool.  They are awesome.  In short, they embody exactly what I love about racing and the cycling:  They make it fun for everyone.

What can I say, it was a tough day at work, but here’s my race report:

Race Report:  King Weekly Series Race 2 (Tuesday, May 3, 2016)

I RACED A BIKE ON A WEEKDAY!

I always have trouble finding the time to stretch before  a race, and it’s something I’m working on.  Tonight was no different.  I was a bit late so there wasn’t much time for a proper warm up.  After a quick zip around the first part of the course, I made it the starting line just in time for the race to start.  I was stuck at the back of the tail end of the pack.  So I tried to pass, and I did.  But the course is so tight, and I saw the lead riders slowly getting farther and farther ahead.

Worse, there was an 11 year old ahead of me, and I just couldn’t catch up.  It’s kind of demoralizing when you can’t keep up with a rider that young, but she just had the legs and lungs, and I didn’t.  Good on her.  I saw her up ahead throughout the race, and I kept on thinking “Man, how is that kid so fast”.  And then I realized that I was thinking about the person on the bike in front of me, when I should have been thinking about the person on MY bike.

But here’s the thing: after the race, I discovered my results weren’t horrible.  I placed 20th out of 29 racers.  That means, 9 riders behind me could have been thinking “Man, how is that big guy so fast”.

We all have someone faster than us.  Tonight, it was an eleven year old, and 19 other riders.  Maybe some other night it’ll be an eleven year old and 18 other riders.  Or maybe it’ll be an eleven year old, her younger brother, and a hundred other riders.Whatever it is, I can live with any result as long as I’m on a bike, trying my best, and RIDING.

When I say to myself that it’s not about the results, it’s about the ride.  They aren’t empty words.  Really, at my size, it’s a good thing I feel that way, otherwise I’d have quit a long time ago.  However, as tough as it is sometimes to separate the results from the ride, tonight was a good chance to practice it.  I knew I rode well.  That’s enough for me.

Oh, and it was Norco demo night.  I already have 5 Norco bikes, so there was no need to test ride another, but when the Norco van was packing up, I asked the rep if I could buy a shirt.  “Nope” he said.  “Damnit” I thought.  “But…” he continued “…you can have one”.  Sweet.

And my tired, swollen feet?  No worries.  There is nothing like a 60 minute, white knuckle mountain bike race, to invigorate and un-swell your extremities.

One savage work day tamed.  Boom.

Ride.