Review: c2 Cold Weather Wear

Baby, it’s Cold Outside

Last year, Jane Hayes, founder of c2 by Janeware asked if I wanted to review a few articles of her cold weather apparel.

“Sweet” I thought.

But then I said “Wait, what, me?  What do I know?  I don’t know anything?  Do you really want to send me some clothes?”.

And Jane said “Yes”.

So I said “Cool”.

I have to admit though, I was a little uncomfortable with the proposition.  Honestly, aside from what industry insiders call a “total lack of credibility” (yup, that’s me), I’m a pretty low-key rider.  I don’t really dial my bikes (if it’s a new part on my bike, it’s because the old one broke), I TRY to stay away from biking fads, and I have a philosophy that the best way to ruin a good ride is the feeling that you spent too much money on anything you’re riding or wearing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cheapo.  My feet buckle up in Sidi, my melon dons a Smith MIPS, and I’ve got some pretty sweet rides and togs, but I try to only buy the things I need.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I ALWAYS get a great price at my LBS (Cycle Solutions).

So who am I to tell anyone how to spend their hard earned money?

I’m a rider, that’s who.  I ride.   Like, a lot.

I’m partial to a sweet sunny ride, but where’s the fun in that?  Rain, snow, sleet, hail, whatever. If I can get out on my bike and Mother Nature happens to be angry that day, I’m going to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight (thank you Bruce Cockburn) and just GET OUT FOR A RIDE.  I’ve also done my share of early springANY-AND-ALL-WEATHER-POSSIBLE races, and the fatbiking, when there’s no choice except to gear up, and ride for 3 or 4 hours, regardless of the weather, so I need to be warm, dry, and comfortable.

I’m also kind of freaked out doing this because of the power of the internet.  I did a few fatbike reviews last year:  a Salsa Beargrease XO1, a Trek Farley 9.9. and a Norco Bigfoot 6.1  It was a privilege to even be able to ride the bikes, and I took the responsibility pretty seriously, but they were kind of a lark for me.  People actually LET me ride awesome bikes and I got to write about the buckets of awesomeness.  It was a total gas doing the reviews because each of the three bikes was totally and completely wicked, but now they have a life that’s larger than I thought, and almost a year later, I still get a few hits per day for EACH of them based on internet search engines.

But here’s the problem:  the Trek Farley comes stock WITH SWEET CARBON WHEELS, the Norco Bigfoot is a LITERAL BEHEMOTH OF A RIDE, and the Salsa Beargrease was THE NICEST ROLLING BIKE I’VE EVER RIDDEN!

…and this review is about long johns and a vest.

So even if they’re the sweetest long johns ever, and even if the vest was stitched by Donatella Versace, they’re still long johns and a vest.

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The back of the vest. Great looking, nicely designed, and well constructed.

Okay, before Jane reads this and her morning coffee shoots out of her ears, they were pretty sweet long johns and vest, and I honestly loved them–despite the fact that Donatella  didn’t hand stitch them for me–because getting cold and damp on a ride is awful, and the right clothes sometimes make the ride.

Anyway, this is a review, so here’s the reviewey stuff:

From the c2 website;

c2 was created by Jane Hayes, a New England native who wanted to design clothes she wished she had for herself when she was out on her bike long after everyone else had hung it up and headed to the gym. Her business was built on a core belief that whether you are cycling, hiking or running, the weather shouldn’t keep you from doing what you love. You just need clothes that can keep up. c2 gear is designed to keep you warm and performing at your personal peak, even when the mercury drops.

And that pretty much sums up the clothing line.  c2 is awesome, it looks and feels great, it wears well, it’s grass roots, and it works exactly the way it should.

Honestly, the review should end here–don’t worry Jane, there’s more–but if anyone is going to spend the time to read this, and possibly lay out some cash (and since Jane sent me a pretty sweet underthings) I think I should at least offer a few points about them, you know, seeing this is a cycling blog and all, and because as cyclists, we have specific needs. Oh, and (spoiler alert) there’s a coupon code at the end of this review.

For those of us in Southern Ontario (and many other areas north, south, east, and west), a good portion of our year takes place between the months of “Aw, c’mon, it’s already November” and “Ugh, thank god it’s finally March”, and during that time, we NEED to get outside.  We want to be warm, but not too warm, we need to be ready for changing conditions, and whatever we wear has to be comfortable because we not only spend our time in the cold, we spend it perched atop a teeny tiny bicycle seat.

So here’s what’s important to me in my cold weather wear:

  • Warmth and breathability
  • Fit
  • Construction and durability
  • Value
  • The c2 vibe

And because it’s my blog, I’m going to rate the articles on a “BOOM Scale”.

  • B = 1 (The lowest rating–think paper bag garments)
  • BO= 2 (The second lowest rating–a bag with a soft lining)
  • BOO= 3 (The mid rating–sweet and well made)
  • BOOM= 4 (Pretty awesome)
  • BOOM!= 5 (The perfectest)

Some would doubt the science of my rating scale.  Totally okay with that.  Also, since I’m me, and I gush over most things bike, bike-related, and bike-adjacent, it’s unlikely there will be any rating less than BOOM.

I tested a pair of Power Stretch Performance Tights ($99), and a sleeveless Power Stretch Base Top ($59).

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I hate this picture–if you had my body, you would too–but it gives a pretty good idea of the fit of the items.  All black.  High waist. Generous sizing. I felt like a cycling Johnny Cash.

As expected, both articles rated either BOOM or BOOM!.  They were comfortable, well fitting, breathable, good looking, and most important, WARM.

Warmth and breathability

The pants are WARM.  Disclaimer:  I just haven’t had the chance to test the garments in the freezing cold dead of winter, but I’ve donned them on plenty of temps in the range of 2-7 degrees, with a wicked wind each time.  Since it wasn’t freezing, and since they look so good on their own, I wore them without a second layer.  They were warm and wind resistant.

They also seem to have a pretty remarkable breathability.  I get lost in the technology of moisture wicking whosits and heat retaining whatsits, but they work.  The inside is constructed from some sort of space age softness, but they don’t get mushy and gross when I get hot, and trust me, at my size I sweat.  Buckets.

To recap.  We want to be warm enough that our bits don’t retreat inside our bodies, but not too warm that our clothes become water laden bundles of icy discomfort.  c2 does that.

Warmth and breathability Rating:  BOOM/BOOM! 

Fit

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Seriously, posting a picture like this on the internet is scary stuff, but they really do look great on their own.  Nice tan, Colin.

Okay, when I received the box in the mail and opened it, I was a bit disappointed.  The pants didn’t have a chamois, and they weren’t a bib.  The bib was most troubling because I’m 45, and very generously proportioned in the gut/side gut areas.  Also, at some point in the last decade, my arse crack grew in length, and subsequently, I always ride with a bib (out of respect for those who ride behind me). However, the fit (I wore an XXL) was terrific:  High waisted and well-fitting.  The legs didn’t scootch up, and the vest kept my back warm.  I didn’t need a bib because they fit so well.

Also, they’re not compression material, but they seem to do a good job of keeping my body where it should be.  I call it “Guttage Control” and the GC factor on the garments is pretty high.

Back to the lack of a chamois.  Honestly, it wasn’t even a problem.  If anything, it adds to the versatility of the pants.  With such a great fit, I wear cycling shorts under the pants and there’s no bunching.  This means that if I’m doing a different outdoor activity, I can wear them.  Also, with a cycling short instead of a chamois, some would argue that laundry is minimized because you don’t have to wash after every wear.  I’m not a fan of that though because sweat is icky and I like to smell nice instead of bathing in the sweat from my last ride.

Fit Rating:  BOOM!

Construction and Durability

These clothes are constructed beautifully.  Aside from the space age material, the seams, hems, and general finishing are awesome. I’m not a sewing-stitcher person, but the garments look and feel well-made, robust, and sleek. Better yet, the lines are kind of awesome.  They seem to accentuate the goodly body parts while decentuateing the less-goodly parts.

Regarding durability, I first wore my C2 last April, on an early spring ride.  Then it got warm, however, so instead of storing them, I just washed them with my summer stuff about a dozen times.  They don’t look any different than they did the first time.

Construction and Durability Rating:  BOOM!

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Reflective accents.  Green stitching and logo.  Sweet.

Value

This is a tough one.  There are a billion alternatives on the market.  Between bike shops, outdoor shops, and the bottomless online options, you could throw a dart and probably hit a cold weather riding kit.  Bicycling.com and Outsideonline.com both have reviews that pitch Rapha apparel as an alternative, but be warned, they cost big bucks. Garneau, Castelli, Giro, MEC…  The list is endless.  Investigate to see which brand, fit, style, and look are right for you.

c2 seem to be priced just above the low end of the price spectrum, which makes their items a compelling purchase.  With Garneau and Rapha, the quality is there, but you also pay for the name as well.

There is a link to the c2 website.  Here’s another:  Buy c2

Value Rating:  BOOM!

The c2 Vibe

I like the c2 vibe.  Jane is the real deal.  I trolled her facebook page, and she is a true outdoors person.  She talks the talk, and more important, she walks (and rides and hikes and runs) the walk. And, she does so in New England, where winters last from late August to early July (or something like that).   Also, Jane makes her clothes in the US.  It’s great to have a social conscience, and be against sweatshops in principle, but it can be tough to shop by that conscience, so when a company promotes socially responsible practices, it’s great to patronize them.  If you check the tags on the big players, they’re all made somewhere else.  c2 is made in North America by North Americans. I like that–not in a chest beating sense, but in a “locally grown” sense.

Jane now divides her time between Toronto and New England, which makes her ours too.

If you need to know one thing about Jane and her clothing line, know this:  Jane started making her clothes, one article at a time, in her living room, in 1995.  You can’t get more grassroots, and I really dig that.

C2 Vibe Rating:  BOOM! (times 2)

Conclusion

You don’t have to listen to me.  I’m just a guy who rides a bike and writes a blog.  Take a look at the c2 website, read a few online reviews from reputable sources, talk to the folks at your bike shop, and buy what’s right for you.  The c2 items that I wore were awesome, and I love them.

And here’s the magic of a blog:  If you want to try them, Jane is offering first time customers a sweet coupon code for 25% off your order.  For those of us north of the border, shipping isn’t cheap, and the exchange rate is somewhere around 200%, so that’s pretty sweet.  For my American friends, that’s a pretty sweet deal, eh?

So, until Monday, December 11th, 2017, take 25% off your order of $100 or more with the coupon code TEAM COLIN.  You can enter it at checkout.

Oh, and I know a few bike shops read my blog.  c2 is a great option.  You can get in touch with Jane at:  jane@buyc2.com

So, after a summer that wasn’t, it’s no longer wet and warm season, it’s wet and cold season.

But that doesn’t have to mean chunky sweaters and sipping hot cocoa by the fire–don’t get me wrong, I like a good chunk of sweater.  When it’s cold outside, we just need the right gear to stay warm…but of course, not too warm.

Winter is cold, and it consumes way too much of our year, so we might as well get outside, embrace it, and be boss.

Ride

 

Disclaimers:

First, Jane Hayes contacted me last year about reviewing her clothes.  I agreed and offered the provision that she could read my review and say either yay or nay to me publishing the entire review, but could not edit it.  She agreed sent the items to me free of charge.

Second, I am totally and utterly independent.  I’m not an ambassador for anyone or anything, I don’t often get free stuff, and if I talk about a bike shop, or a bike, or anything else, it’s because I love it/them/the stuff.

Third, as I’ve already said, I love everything about everything (especially when it’s about bikes), but, when I gush about things, it’s sincere affection.

Fourth, while I gave the articles as thorough a testing as I could, I didn’t wear them in the cold dead of winter.  I wanted to post this review before the winter punches us in the throat with an icy fist.

Finally, I do my homework when I’m reviewing something, however, if you’re reading this, take everything I say with a bag of salt, because it’s only my opinion, and based solely on MY observations, MY thoughts, MY needs, and MY biases.

End of disclaimers.

 

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News: The Team Colin Really Big Giant Giveaway!

The Team Colin Really Big Giant Giveaway!

Once again, Team Colin is holding a super sweet, totally awesome, massively huge, REALLY BIG GIANT GIVEAWAY.

It’s FUNTACULAR!

It’s BOOMTASTIC!

It’s a FUNDEMIC!

My son suggested the first two names.

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Are you kidding me?  All of this stuff is free?  Yup, totally free.  No guff.

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

So here’s the thing:  I have no ties to anyone, anything, or any shop.  I’m not an ambassador, and I don’t get free swag.  However, I write a blog, and my blog sometimes has a massive audience.  So I reached out to a few super awesome people that I ride with/race with/like/whatever, AND THEY RESPONDED WITH AWESOMELY GENEROUS GIFTS THAT I CAN NOW BESTOW ON THE BIKING COMMUNITY!

No kidding.  Here’s the list of goodies.

THE PRIZE DEETS:

My bike shop, Cycle Solutions, has authorized the bestowment of a FULL February Tune-Up.  Yeah, a full tune-up that can be scheduled for any time during the month of February. Wicked.

Joyride 150, the hosts of Team Colin Day (um, Night) have authorized the bestowment of a free Day Pass.  Very boss.

Dan Marshall from Substance Projects has authorized the bestowment of a free registration to not one, but TWO of his supremely cool races:  A free XCM race reg, AND a free 45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Series (p/b Cannondale) race reg.  So excellent!

Glenn at Pulse Racing has authorized the bestowment of a free reg to this Spring’s Singletrack Classic at Hardwood Hills.  25 or 50k of sweet Southern Ontario singletrack that hits all the best bits of Hardwood Hills.  Teamm Colinn approved!

Apex Race Photography has authorized the bestowment of not one, but TWO different race picture downloads:  a personalized magazine cover AND a digital download.  Ted and his photography artists always capture the best race shots.  Cool beans.

Adam at Chico Racing has authorized the bestowment of a few “24 Hours of Summer Solstice” jerseys, and is putting together a sweet package of MTB swaggy goodness. BTW, Adam is also providing a “24 Hours of Summer Solstice” shirt for EVERYONE who rides at Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150 on November 11th.  Outstanding!

Evolution Cycles has authorized the bestowment of a $20 Gift Card.  They’re are also chipping in a $20 Gift Card for EVERYONE who rides at Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150 on November 11th.  Exceptional!

Jamie Davies, the same guy from Evolution Cycles has also authorized the bestowment of a free registration to a King Weekly Series race.  Pick a Tuesday night from May to September, and kill it at Centennial Park in King City!  So rad!

And finally, Sean from Superfly Racing has authorized the bestowment of a PAIR of passes to his Polar Rush Winter Obstacle Race.  Yup, a PAIR of passes.  Bring a friend and be SNOW HEROES on February 24th, at Horseshoe Valley! Brrrrrrrawesome!

How many times did I say “bestowment” in the preceding paragraphs?  Lots and lots–because it’s a veritable gift bestowment fiesta!

Honestly, I’m going to have to cut the gift bestowment into two draws.

Wait a sec, I forgot the best part.  Team Colin (hey, that’s me) is even kicking in a limited edition, very chic, Team Colin hat. Ka-BOOM.

THE DRAWS:

The Big Giant Grand Prize

  • Team Colin special edition, free range, artisanal, comemorative hat
  • Registration to a Substance Projects XCM race
  • Joyride 150 day pass
  • 2 passes to Superfly’s Polar Rush Winter Obstacle Race
  • FULL February Tune-Up at Cycle Solutions
  • 20 buck gift card from Evolution Cycles
  • Apex Race Photography personalized magazine cover
  • Registration to a King Weekly Series (p/b Evolution Cycles) race
  • 24 Hours of Summer Solstice jersey (which may or may not fit), courtesy of Chico Racing
  • Chico Racing Swag Bag

The Big Giant Second Prize

  • Registration to a Substance Projects/45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Series (p/b Cannondale) race
  • Registration to the Pulse Racing Singletrack Classic (at Hardwood Hills)
  • 24 Hours of Summer Solstice jersey (which may or may not fit), courtesy of Chico Racing
  • Apex Photography digital download
  • Registration to a King Weekly Series (p/b Evolution Cycles) race
  • 20 buck gift card from Evolution Cycles

Honestly, I’m in awe of the super massive generosity.

HOW TO ENTER:

It’s easy. All you have to do is follow my blog.  No, this isn’t a “follow my blog type of contest”.  You can unfollow the blog after the contest (and I really, honestly, might not be totally hurt), but it’s the only way for me to easily generate a printable list of contest entrants.

If you already follow the Team Colin blog (not the Facebook page), you’re in.

But if you don’t click, FOLLOW THIS BLOG somewhere on this page.

THE DRAW:

The draw will be held live on Facebook, at Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150, which is Saturday, November 11.   Enter before that date to be eligible.

That’s it.

How about some small print.

THE SMALL PRINT:
Total value of “The Team Colin Really Big Giant Giveaway” is a kazillion dollars*
The draw will be held live on Facebook, at Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150, on Saturday, November 11.  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 don’t come to Joyride on the 11th, or if you can’t meet Team Colin at a race, the hat,  jersey, and Evolution Cycles gift card cannot be mailed–-but you still get everything else!
Prizes are NON-TRANSFERRABLE.  All the sponsors are hard working businesses, and they just want to give back to the cycling community.  To ask them to transfer your prize to someone else would be very not cool.  I’ll email the winners names to each sponsor for prize redeem-ment.
Finally, the terms, conditions, and prizes in the Team Colin Really Big Giant Giveaway may change because, well, you know.
*estimated value
PS
Don’t forget to come to Team Colin Day (um, Night) on Saturday, November 11th.  Half price (that’s 9 bucks) admission, and rentals after 7PM. Just say “Team Colin” when you get there.  Check out my blog post for details.

58. The South Scarborough Loop

WHATTARIDE!

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The gate to East Point Park, a broiling Lake Ontario, and a waning autumn sun.  Breathtaking.   

Ugh.  I’ve been AWOL from my bike seat for a few weeks.

September may have been the epicest month ever on a bike, but and with report cards due, two kids, a tired body, Halloween, and a crazy schedule, it’s been almost impossible get on my bike lately.

Although I found time last week for a quick rip at Joyride 150, and renewed my yearly membership.

But yesterday, I was on MPM:  Military Precision Mode.  That’s what I call it when my days are scheduled with the precision of a military exercise.  I got up early, had a morning pee, and then went right back to bed for a scheduled nap.  Okay, so it wasn’t exactly precise, but it was precisely what I needed, and my napping exercise was so so so so very awesome.  Then I got up and flew through some household chores, dropped my car at the mechanic and walked home, worked on the upcoming “Team Colin Big Giant Contest” (seriously, it is going to be EPIC this year), fought weekend traffic to drive across the city and then across the city again to test drive a car, test drove two different cars, and fought weekend traffic to get back home so I could ride with Colin C. (who I met through my blog), rode the South Scarborough Loop, got home, showered the road grime off my cold and tired body, showed a lovely family the car that I want to sell so that I can buy the new car I test drove, replied to some awesome people about prizes for the upcoming Team Colin Really Big Contest (seriously, it’s going to be EPIC this year) and Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150, ate supper, negotiated a satisfactory deal for the car via email (thank you e-transfer), and then entertained my nephews–I mean a ninja and a Storm Trooper, who were making a late Halloween visit, and then I wrote a this blog.

So not a bad Saturday.

But a horrible blog. I’m trying to write a shorter and snappier blog today instead of my usual gigantically long epic blog posts.

Seriously though, who cares about everything I just wrote that doesn’t have to do with bikes?

As it happened, Colin C. and I made a last minute plan to to the South Scarborough Loop.

The South Scarborough Loop:  Saturday, November 4, 2017

What a great ride.

Click this for a link to see what I wrote about the South Scarborough Loop in the past.

The South Scarborough Loop is a now legendary jaunt through a whole bunch of the cool bike stuff that exists south and east of Thompson Park, where it starts.  With minimal interference from the road, the Loop travels bike trails from Thompson Park, through Cedarbrook Park, and into Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, where it finds it’s way behind the Carriage House, for a raw, switch-backed descent into the ravine, and through Morningside park (just after where the trail starts off Galloway Road).  It goes through Morningside park, through U of T, past Miller Lash House, and into Colonel Danforth Park.  The trail hits a few off-road and grassy stretches before making a final push toward the lake, where it turns left and rips along the shore of Lake Ontario to Rouge Beach.  It’s a 20k zip, and it’s awesome.

Gravel, grass, trail, road, and paved path.  Everything you need for an awesome Saturday afternoon ride.

However, the return route is a bit different BECAUSE IT’S A LOOP.  When returning from Rouge Beach, instead of heading north into Colonel Danforth Park, it heads west towards the sewage treatment plant, and crests a hill to a beautiful lookout.  It’s a nasty, rutted climb but it’s the highest point for miles, and the view is spectacular.  Even the mist rolling off the leeching ponds of raw sewage were pretty.  Here’s a hint:  when you’re atop that hill, look south over the lake instead of north over the sewage treatment plant.  It’s a less crappy view.  See what I did there.

From the sewage treatment plant, the Loop travels west on East Point Drive (oh the irony), and through Grey Abbey Park, before dipping down to the lake.

Geez, did I say this post was going to be short and snappy?

Once at the lake, the Loop follows what will one day become the Waterfront Trail, but is currently a 4k haul along the shore of Lake Ontario.  The wind was whipping the waves into a froth today, and the water sprayed above the breakwall, spilling onto the gnarly mixed surface of gravel and building detritus.  It was beautiful, spectacular, and awe inspiring.

And cold.

Nature rocks, and at the heart of a good ride is a strong connection to the planet.  Today the connection was stunning.  Mother Nature wanted to play bikes too, and aside from the cold, she threw some back breaking wind our way.  The combination of the horrendous wind, with a waning autumn sun, and the stunning scenery was gravel biking perfection.

After 4k along the shore, the Loop zips back to the reality of the city, but not before throat punching us with a 1k grunt up Bellamy Ravine, which leads to Ravine Drive and Kingston Road.  The climb is about as much fun as you can have while swearing on a bike.

From there, Colin and I parted our ways and I found my way though a few side streets back into Thompson Park, and then home.

Let me say it again, WHATTARIDE!

It was great to chill with a new buddy, and I mean literally.  Aside from the wind, it was a chilly one, but it was also great to get to meet a fellow rider, and share a sweet ride. It was a last minute plan that put Colin and I together for the ride, and totally worth it.  I know, TWO Colins, on TWO bikes, riding TWOGETHER, at the same time…  It almost tore a hole in the space time continuum.

23376911_10213635038006110_1640276704_oThe weather was tough to define.  It wasn’t January cold, but was my first cold ride of the year, so it felt colder.  It didn’t matter though, because I was wearing my new C2 pants and vest.  I’m still working on a review of the clothes, but I can say this right now, the clothes are terrific.

They may have insulated me from the wind, but they didn’t help riding through the wall that was the wind.  It was so windy, we actually rode backwards a few times.  It was so windy, I saw an actual house with two red and white striped legs wearing ruby red slippers poking from underneath.  It was so windy that I never had to blow my nose because the zephyr literally blew the snot off my face.  It was so windy, I had to find a synonym for wind.

At one point, Colin remarked, “The Gales of November…”.

It was poetic, apropos, and very funny.  I mean, when was the last time anyone made an Edmund Fitzgerald joke.  When was the last time anyone EVER made an Edmund Fitzgerald joke?

Two bikes, two almost complete strangers, Lake Ontario, a bunch of sweet climbs, one heck of a wind, a Gordon Lightfoot joke, and every conceivable surface…

Boom.

We may have started as strangers, but after two hours on the South Scarborough Loop, I’m pretty sure we’re now BFFs.  I mean, how can you share the splendor of a sewage treatment plant on a windy day and NOT bond in some way.  It was a Colin one-two punch (because there were two Colins) on the South Scarborough Loop, and the space time continuum didn’t burst–even though the wind gave it an honest shot.

End of blog.

Ride.

 

Team Colin Update

Here’s what I’m working on RIGHT NOW:

  • Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150 (November 11th)
  • The Team Colin Big Giant Contest (to be drawn on the 11th–blog post to follow ASAP)
  • A new fatbike?
  • A review of some sweet cold weather wear (I just want to ride with it, and then wash it one more time before giving it a Team Colin Stamp of approval).
  • Finding a storage place for the awesomest Halloween costume ever.
  • Another article on why YOU need a fatbike, that I am going to shill all over the internet because fatbiking is awesome and everyone should have a fatbike and I can’t wait to get my new fatbike.

By the way, the Team Colin Really Big Giant Contest, which will be drawn at Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150 now has the following prize donees:

  • Joyride 150
  • Cycle Solutions
  • Apex Race Photography download
  • Another Apex Race Photography download
  • Substance Projects and the XCM (yeah, a free reg)
  • Substance Projects and a fatbike race (yeah, another free reg)
  • Evolution Cycles gift cards (for the draw, and for EVERYONE who comes to Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150
  • Pulse Racing and the SingleTrack Classic (what, another free reg)
  • King Weekly Series (seriously, another free reg)
  • Superfly Racing and Polar Rush Obstacle Race (you’ve got to be kidding me, not another free reg)
  • Chico Racing and 24 Hour Race (not a free race, but a few jerseys, maybe some cool swag, and 24 Hour t-shirs for EVERYONE who comes to Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150

Um, heck yeah.  It’s going to be off the charts awesome.  Can’t wait.  If you missed it, here’s the post with all the details.

Oh, and one more thing–seriously, this was supposed to be short and snappy–Team Colin hit an awesome critical mass this last week.  First, my Team Colin Facebook page hit 100 followers and likes.  Then, my post about Team Colin Day (um, Night) reached almost 5,000 people on Facebook.  They may not be huge numbers, but they’re huge for me, and I am loving every second of it.

Damn, 1,682 words.

Now, to get back to my damn report cards…

But first, one last look at the awesomest Halloween costume ever.

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My dirtjumper, a wicked cool ET puppet, and a red hoodie…  A cool costume AND I spent the day riding my bike at school.  Awesome.

 

News: Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150

It’s Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150

Yup, you read that right.  It’s Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150, and that means HALF PRICE admission at Canada’s biggest and baddest indoor bike park, Joyride 150.

No guff, no strings, no foolin’.

team-colin.jpgHere’s the thing:  Joyride isn’t just a BMX park, and it’s not just for kids.  Sure, if you want to ride a giant vert park and do a back flip, half cab 360, that’s cool, but if you want to ride the LONGEST INDOOR XC TRAIL IN CANADA, or maybe play around on the wickedly cool sport skinnies, or try to gap the beginner (or advanced, or…) jumplines and BE A BETTER RIDER, Joyride 150 is THE place to go.

The trail conditions are ALWAYS perfect, the weather is ALWAYS awesome, and you don’t need to charge your lights if you want to ride after 6PM (like you do once October starts).

It’s Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150, and it’s going to be AWESOME.

Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150

Saturday, November 11

7:00PM

Half price admission and rentals

Yeah, BOOM.  That’s only 9 bucks!  What else can you buy for 9 bucks?   Here is an exhaustive of every item that you can purchase for 9 bucks:

  • a Whopper value meal with a poutine (and a little dessert action)
  • a water bottle for your bike
  • almost a pair of ODI grips
  • a 12″ Canadian Club at Mr. Sub (make it a combo!)
  • any small sized beverage at Starbucks
  • 7 items at the dollar store (and some spare change to boot)
  • a carbon bike frame on Amazon (and some spare change to boot)
  • 2 mystery lego figures
  • a pair socks (or 6 pairs of polyester socks)
  • a Team Colin hat
  • a bag of oranges
  • 6 (or so) iTunes songs
  • 7 American dollars (or so)
  • a tube OR some chain lube OR tire levers (because you always need spare tubes, more lube, and an extra 2 or 10 tire levers)
  • an amaryllis plant for your mom for Christmas
  • Netflix for 24 days
  • a bag of Hickory Sticks and two Slurpees from 7-11 (just don’t buy a Coke Slurpee–ew, gross)
  • this book that comes highly recommended by my son:  The One and Only Ivan
  • admission to Joyride 150 on Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150

That’s pretty much it.  There is literally nothing else in this world you can buy for 9 bucks.

Have you been thinking about going to Joyride 150, but never seem to make it?

Have you been to Joyride 150, but haven’t ridden there in a while?

Have you heard about the park’s epic XC Loop upgrade and want to try it for yourself? Hint:  it’s now an 800 metre flow trail and it is AWESOME.  Check out the new climb.

Well, here’s your chance to do it FOR HALF OF THE REGULAR NIGHTTIME PRICE.

That’s right, it’s Team Colin Day (um, night) at Joyride 150, and park owners, Mark and Leslie Summers are offering half price admission and rentals.

How do you partake in this sweet deal?   Easy.  On Saturday, November 11, after 7:00PM, go to Joyride 150 and say “Team Colin”.  Boom.  Half price admission (that’s only $9.00).

Bring your MTB.  Bring your fatbike.  Bring your CX bike (yeah, seriously).  Bring your BMX.

Need a rental bike and gear?  No problem. Say “Team Colin”.  Boom.  Half price.

Seriously, what’s your excuse?  The regular nighttime price is already almost half of the regular daytime price.  When you cut that price in half, the park is basically paying you to ride (or at least paying for your gas).  All you have to do is get there.

Bring your friends.  Say “Team Colin”. Boom.  Half price.

Bring your family.  Say “Team Colin”. Boom.  Half price.

Bring your dog.  Say “Team Colin”…really, you want to bring your dog. Why would you want to bring your dog?

If you didn’t make it to the first Team Colin Day, Um, Night @ Joyride 150, you missed out. Red Bull rider Drew Bezanson even made it!  Yeah, THAT Drew Bezanson.  Red Bull, DK Bikes…  Dude is even in the Canadian Tire Flyer.

If you didn’t make it to the second Team Colin Day, Um, Night @ Joyride 150, you missed out even bigger.  Dan Marshall was there.  Jamie Davies and Evolutions Cycles were there.  Carl, Cass, Raf, Fatbikes in Ontario, and a bunch of other cool kids were there.  Even my wife and kids were there.

I often hear XC riders talking about Joyride 150.  They say “Oh yeah, I’ve been trying to go” or “I’ve heard about the place, but…” or “Isn’t that place for kids”.  So I figured it would be cool to expose and encourage more XC riders to the park.  For those who don’t know, Joyride 150 is a cycling mecca, and an homage to all things bike.  With over 100,000 square feet of cycling nirvana.  It.  Is.  Awesome.

Just ask Steve Shikaze.  I met him and his family there last year.

And now you can see for yourself–for half price.

While you’re there, you can check out the coolest BMX (and BMX apparel) store this side of anywhere.  The Boiler Room.  Awesome BMX-ey stuff, and super cool bike clothes.

So, on Saturday, November 11, you pretty much HAVE to come to Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150.  There might only be four of us (like there were the first time), but we’ll be playing bikes, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

Oh, and as an added bonus, my students will be spinning some sweet DJ sounds for us to get our groove on while we ride.

You can check the Team Colin Facebook page for updates and special surprises the evening might have in store.  Here’s a link: Team Colin Facebook page.  I’ve also posted a few FAQs, and the address.

Team Colin Day (um, Night) at Joyride 150!

Oh, if you’re new, don’t forget to complete the online waiver before you go.  It’ll speed up the process.

Write it on your calendar, send yourself a reminder text, do whatever you have to do to make it to Team Colin Day (um, Night) @ Joyride 150.

Ride.

 

 

PS.  If you follow my blog, you might remember the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic from last year.  It’s back again in 2017, it’ll be bigger and better than last year, and it might even be ready for Team Colin Day (um, Night).  The total amount of cycling swag won last year was approximately a billion dollars (give or take).

 

57. Sausage Suit 2017

Did somebody say “Sausage Suit Fest”?

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Socks!

What can I say about the Sausage Suit ITT that I didn’t say last year?  It was the same awesome course; pretty much the same awesome people; and the same awesome Team Van Go..rilla.

It was:  Dufferin County Forest, Substance Projects, Dan Marshall and his crew, and some of the best MTB riders around.

What a great day on a bike!

The 2017 Sausage Suit ITT was so very, um, what’s that word…awesome.

I, on the other hand, was a shade less than awesome.  In fact, I was so very UNawesome. It was the same story that I experience all too often: I felt strong, I pushed hard, I rode well, and my results were, um, what’s that word…crappy.

Even though I rode my bike so much over the summer…

And even though I raced five straight weekends in September–almost 350k of race pace ripping…

And even though I did about a billion races this season–including seven marathon distance races…

My time was…wait for it…five minutes faster than last year. Five lousy minutes. Honestly, I think I spent five minutes last year peeing in the middle of the race (What?  I drink a lot of water), so after all my hard work this year, my results for the race were pretty much the same.

To make the sting worse, instead of my single speed, I rode my geared Norco Revolver hardtail.  Yeah, I had gears.

Five stinking minutes (read that like a quick grumble, through gritted teeth, while you’re kicking a pop can).

But enough of that.  It’s not new, it’s not news, and it really doesn’t matter because it was a Saturday, there was a race, and I raced.  Also, I think I wrote the same thing for my last few races.  For some reason, I’m just not performing as well as I’d like to on my bike this season.

Seriously though, what a great day on a bike.

Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook after the race:

It’s a wrap!
The 2017 MTB race season is officially finished, with yesterday’s rip through Dufferin County Forest, at the Substance projects Sausage Suit ITT. 30k of sublime single track, in one heck of an awesome place to ride. I placed, um that’s not important, and had an absolute blast. What a great way to end a terrific race season…

Sublime indeed.  Dufferin County Forest is single track nirvana:  awesomely technical, wickedly rocky and rooty, spectacularly climby, and scattered with absolutely boss log overs.  Last year, I said “When a tree falls in Dufferin Forest, and nobody’s there, does it make a sound?  You bet.  ‘LOGOVER!!!'”.  The log overs were awesome last year.  This year, I think they were even better….

…and terrifying.  I’m 250 pounds, and I ride in the big ring.  So, aside from the terrifying prospect of a giant endo on the downward side of the logover, every time I tracked over the logs and bashed my chain ring, I winced and waited for the horrifying “TINK!” of my chain exploding under the horrific pressure.

I’ve only ever truly ridden Dufferin Forest on my single speed, and it has a much smaller ring that doesn’t hit the logs. Plus it has a sort-of chain guard, and a big burly chain.  My Revolver?  Not so much, and with my constant cross chaining, my chain is a ticking time bomb that really doesn’t need an excuse to snap.

It was so nerve wracking.  I rode a 15k lap, with a billion log overs–twice.  By the end of the race, my shoulders ached from all of the worried tensing after I lifted my front wheel, bashed the log, and waited…

My chain didn’t break!

Seriously, what a great day on a bike!

Even the weather cooperated.  For a mid-October race with a mean forecast, I was expecting a mixed bag of lousy rain, biting wind, crappy course conditions, and plenty of “Ugh”, but the weather and the trail conditions were perfect.  Sure, compared to riding on the surface on the sun like I did in the Epic 8 Hour a few weeks ago, it was about a billion degrees cooler, but it was still bare legs and arms weather.

Wait, can I talk about Team Van Go for a minute?  Man, I love these people.  Amazing energy, terrific attitude, and super chill vibe.  They’re like the Fonz of the MTB world. Seriously, when they bump the side of their fist on a tree, the jukebox starts.  No joke. I’ve actually seen Johnny do it.  Here’s a link to their blog about the race.  I can’t say more about the course that they didn’t.

And I can’t talk about Team Van Go without talking about the awesome things they do in Dufferin County Forest.  Without their hard work and stewardship, the trails at Dufferin Forest would be half of what they are.  The forest would likely be a tangled mess of B-Lines, and the Nirvana that is would likely be more like Nickleback.  Yeah, I just ripped on Chad Kroeger (I tried to think of a lame 90’s band to counter Nirvana, but it’s a proven fact there are no lame 90s bands.  Well, NSYNC and Backstreet Boys are from the 90s, but they’re just a bunch of pretty boys and not actual bands).

And just like that, I just nailed a Chad Kroeger rip AND a Backstreet Boys/NSYNC slag.

Seriously though, I get the sense that some of the stakeholders in Dufferin County aren’t playing well in the sandbox, and it sounds like there’s a bit of a mess lately.  It’s great to know that Team Van Go and Johnny are at the helm of an effort to work together not only to maintain the status quo, but to move forward in the spirit of collaboration. Thanks Team Van Go, and keep up the great work!  I can’t wait for next year.

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Johnny, Tyler, Johnny’s dog, and me.  From this perspective, they kinda look like my kids.

Looking back, I can’t believe the SSIT was the race that almost wasn’t.

When I was packing my bike to leave for the race, I did a little bunny hop on my front lawn (because when you move your bike five feet from your garage to your vehicle, you ride it, and when you ride it, you ride it like a kid) and snapped two spokes.

It sounded something like this:  “Get rad.  Wohoo!  (plink-thunk) Aw, c’mon”

It was 10:32 AM, the race was starting at 1:00, and it was an hour and a half away from my home.  That left me with two and a half hours to finish packing, shower, get to my bike shop (Cycle Solutions, which is about 30 minutes away from my house in the wrong direction), and make it to the race.

It was what I can only call a half-ass shower.  Literally.  That’s an uncharacteristic cuss from Team Colin, but entirely accurate.  I dried myself, finished packing, and flew to my bike shop. Fortunately, Mike Delat (totally my guy) pulled the quickest spoke change/rim true/cassette overhaul (because my cassette is ALWAYS a mess) ever.  I felt like an indy car racer–a half showered, Formula 1 racer.

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Under the not-so-watchful eye of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Mike makes my bike sing in record time.  So great to have you back at the shop buddy.

He finished and I looked at the time.  It was 11:20.  Traffic would have to cooperate with me if I was going to make it to the race on time.

I made it with 20 minutes to spare.

I changed into my kit, and, since it was that kind of day, I forgot to close the curtains of my RV while I was changing.  To that end, I’m deeply sorry to my fellow racers for the horrific experience of seeing me change into into my kit (okay, squeeze, writhe, and jam into my kit).  It ain’t called the Sausage Suit for nothing…

Nonetheless, what a great day on a bike!

And what a sweet way to end the 2017 Spring/Summer/Fall race season.  I stepped so far out of my comfort zone, and absolutely shredded a bucket of milestones:

I rode hard this season (although I never rode as hard as I know I could), and I rode lots this season (although not as often as I wanted), but I finished every race with a smile and tale to tell.  

And the 2017 Substance Projects Sausage Suit ITT, regardless of my sub-par performance, was a tale indeed. 

After a very wet, and time consuming pack-up with Substance Projects and his parents (man, these folks work tirelessly to make these events happen) I even hit a burrito stand on the way back home with Dan.  Okay, it wasn’t a burrito stand, it was the Bar Burrito in the Tanger Outlets at Cookstown, but whatever.  We even took a selfie.  Dan hates pictures.  I love pictures.  I won.

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Um, I think I’m looking more and more like Tin Tin.

What a terrific way to end a great day on a bike!

Let me say it loud and let me say it clear: BOOM.

I can’t wait to see what the 2018 season has in store for Team Colin…

Ride.

 

 

PS.  Thanks to Dan Marshall, Substance Projects, Team Van Go, Dan’s mom and dad, the staff and volunteers at Substance, and the unbelievably generous sponsors.

Also, the 2017 season isn’t really over.  I’m planning on a few more CX races, I’m organizing Team Colin Day, Um, Night @ Joyride 150 (Tentatively November 11.  Wait for details), I’ve got a sweet review of some winter apparel (courtesy of C2 Apparel), and hopefully a winter full of fatbike awesomeness.

Always great to see the Emsleys.  Nick shredded the course while dad, and a slightly maimed mom, cheered.

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From L to R:  Angie, Me, Dan, my arm, Nick

56. Dirty Enduro 2017

Ganaraska Forest, (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro, 60k, and Me

team-colin-dirty-enduro.jpg5 years ago, at the end of my first year racing, I did my first Paul’s Dirty Enduro, 30k distance. When I got to the race, a friend was standing outside of the Ganaraska Forest Centre Quonset hut.  He was doing the 60k.  I couldn’t believe it–he was going to actually ride 60k.  On a mountain bike!  The very idea was as foreign to me as flying to the moon.

And he looked so damn cool.  He DRESSED the part, he was PART of the cycling establishment, and he had a strong cyclists’ PHYSIQUE.  In a word, he was BOSS.

And I knew I could never be like him.  Like, ever.

On Saturday morning, as I was getting ready to leave for the Dirty Enduro (the new and rebooted Paul’s), I was walking past my hallway mirror and saw my reflection.  I was wearing a hip cycling shirt (last year’s O-Cup shirt, and cool cycling baggies.  “Hmm”, I thought.

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Team Colin (post race).

Then I NOTICED something.

“Um, am I seeing things, or is that someone else looking back at me?”.  I was looking at a cyclist. The cyclist in the reflection had calves that belonged to someone who spends a LOT of time pedaling up and over logs, roots, and rocks, and clawing up nasty hills (and as a bonus they were pockmarked with bruises, cuts, poison ivy scars, and chain grease that never seems to wash away), his forearms belonged to someone who regularly grips handlebars for hours and hours trying to stay on his bike, and his upper body was that of a speed rider.

The cyclist in the mirror was me.

I DRESSED like a cyclist, and I LOOKED like a cyclist.

And then I REALIZED something.  I was going to (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro TO RIDE THE 60K DISTANCE.  I was the a guy who could race 60k on my mountain bike.  I WAS a cyclist.

But it didn’t stop there.  It got even better.

I FELT something: I felt awful.  I had tired legs, a still sore shoulderneck (yes, an actual body part), and numb wrists.

Okay, that’s not the great part, but the reason for feeling awful was pretty great. My body was tired, sore, and numb because I hadn’t recovered from last weekend’s 90k at the Epic 8 Hour

…or from the Great Albion Enduro 40k the week before that…

…or from the two cyclocross races I did the week before that…

…or from 80k at the Kingston XCM the weekend before that.

…or from the three weekly series rips in between.

All told, in the last five consecutive weekends, I booked close to 350k of race pace pounding.

Awesome.

Let me just say, I do not have the training or physical condition to do 5 big races back to back to back to back to back, and I’m never going to win races or stand on the podium of a race (unless there is a Clydesdale category and only two other Clydesdales show up).

Let me also say the cyclist in the mirror also had side gut flaps (because you really can’t hide 250 pounds), but that just didn’t matter on Saturday morning.

It never really matters. Who cares what I weigh, which part of my body oozes out of my waistband, and whether I win or not. I’m only ever racing myself, and in the month of September, I raced against Team Colin a whole lot.  I WANTED to do 5 consecutive races, I had the ABILITY to do 5 consecutive races, I had the DRIVE to to 5 consecutive races, and I DID 5 consecutive races.  I feel like I popped this September (and this race season). I did my first marathon distance race in the spring (and my second, and third…), I rode as hard as I could as often as I could for the rest of the season, and I kept jumping headfirst into new and awesome bike things (the 24 Hour and my first night ride, soloing the 8 Hour, racing with the worst cold ever experienced by modern human…).

And that gets a giant BOOM.  Yup, Team Colin is feeling pretty groovy, which is kind of a nice departure from my usual “Team Colin sucks, boo hoo, I’m such a bad rider” posts.

It’s time for a Race Report.

Race Report: (Paul’s) Dirty Enduro.  Ganaraska Forest (September 28, 2017)

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Team Colin and Simon.

I met a friend, Simon (and his friend Mike) before the race.  Great to see a familiar face. After a few words from the organizers, and a note about our purpose for the day–to raise money for CMHA (more on that later)–the race was on.  The long sweeps of double track at the start served as a neutral start.  There was no bunching, and it was easy to seed ourselves.  I zipped up to about mid place in the pack, and stayed there pretty much for the duration.

I wanted to ride with Simon. He pulled far ahead (I thought) so I worked hard to maintain his pace.  A few km in, I realized he was actually a bit behind me.  I figured he’d catch me when I faded later in the race, but it never happened.  It would have been our third race to finish together, but instead I got to watch him cross the line just after me.

The first 30k were uneventful.  Despite a busy and sleepless week that lacked any real recovery from the Epic 8 Hour last weekend, I felt strong and confident. It was a beautiful day, the crowd was awesome, and I was riding my bike at one of Ontario’s biggest and awesomest trail network.  Plus, because of the epic summer of racing I had, I wasn’t simply riding to finish.  I was riding to race, and I was riding hard.

At some point, I was even riding with Lenka!  I came upon her, in the distance, bridged the gap, and actually passed her.  If you know who Lenka is, you know that I am NOT in the same league (or anything) as her, and something was definitely wrong with the picture.  After a few km in front of her, I missed a turn, she passed, and order was restored in the galaxy.  She took a lead and kept building it.

And I was still riding hard.

Then, at pretty much the halfway point of the race, when I would have usually finished the race, and after a staggeringly fast, intricately technical, and really really hard double track descent (that was probably the longest and gnarliest I’ve ever done in a MTB race, and really really took a lot out of me), we hit a WALL: a long, mean, nasty, hill on top of a hill on top of a hill.  Yeah, a three part hill.  It was the race equivalent of a billboard that says “If you lived here, you’d be home by now”.  Pretty sure the organizers were reminding us we could have done the 30k…

And the Ganny was reminding us we were IN THE GANNY.  I hatelove (also a real word) the Ganny.  It always pummels me. Tight and twisty single track, challenging and technical double track, gruelling climbs (and even more gruelling descents), and the strange ability to occasionally lull riders with some sweetly flowing sections, only to punch us in the throat with an unexpected corner, log over, or something else that hurts.

The trails in the Ganny are no apologies, Rule 5, MTB.  And if you don’t like it, there’s a kid’s race at 3:00.  Really, there was a kid’s race that started at 3PM.

The course was tough and unforgiving, and by 40k, I had enough.

I was no longer riding hard, I was riding a really hard race.

The course also had some marking challenges.  With such a huge event, and two years of growth since the last one, the organizers had their work cut out in order to make the race a reality, and more than a few of us stood on course, in the middle of the race, scratching our heads and wondering where to turn after a long shot in the wrong direction.  It was frustrating, but only mildly so.

By the 45k aid station, I was kind of cooked.  My pace was a mess, I wasn’t confident, and I was making silly mistakes.  I rallied a bit in the last 5 or 7k, and even nailed the last jump at the FINISH, but it was far from a strong ending.

  • 60k.
  • 4:45.
  • 1200m of climbing.
  • 26/54 overall.
  • 14/34 in the 40+ age category.
  • Lenka beat me by 16 minutes.

End of Race Report.

So the race was pretty great, and who cares about whatever small challenges we faced trying to find the course.  This is MTB.  We didn’t register for a quilting bee, and the challenges just added to the awesomeness.  I think the organizers did an amazing job with the resources they had.

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The legendary Bob Ramsay.  100k.  No gears.  Awesome.

In fact, after the race, I was talking to my friend, Bob Ramsay (a literal Single Speed legend, who at 50 something, placed second in the 100k with a time of 5:40).  He told me there were problems accessing volunteers, and by race day there just wasn’t enough time to finish.

I can only imagine the time, energy, and money that goes into a giant race, so thanks to Ben and Ashleigh Logan of Fontaine Source for Sports (in Peterborough–for a job well done.  So awesome.

Oh, and can I talk about the post race meal for a sec?  The chilli was spectacular.  And the peanut butter and bread at the aid stations?  Awesome.  And the spectators, and the jump at the end, and the organizers, and the registration table, and the map…  Honestly, the volunteers made the day a pretty awesome experience.  Thanks.

Before I finish, I want to talk about Paul Rush.  We rode the Dirty Enduro for a reason. Well, two reasons.  First, to be boss on our bikes. Second, and more important, to raise money for CMHA.  The second reason was probably stuck somewhere in the background for most racers, including me, but make no mistake, we were raising money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

For those who don’t know, the Dirty Enduro was formerly known as Paul’s Dirty Enduro. It ceased being Paul’s two years ago, on the 20th anniversary, and took a year off.  Over the years, Paul’s has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for mental health education and suicide prevention.  The ride is named after Paul Rush, who faced mental health issues, and secretly kicked at depression for years. Here’s a great article from the Globe & Mail about Paul.  Paul was a fan of long rides, and he loved the Ganny. He was a big boss cyclist, a friendly giant, and from what I’ve read, one heck of a guy.  I can’t think if a better reason to get on a bike, than to support his memory–especially since we so often don’t talk openly about mental health and suicide.

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See that tagline “For Mental Health”?

Like a hidden trail feature that jerks your handlebars off course, or an inescapable rut that swallows your wheel at high speed, mental health issues and suicide are always around us, and always a part of life.  In the world of MTB, in our personal and professional lives, and in our families.

My father killed himself.  He battled quiet demons and addiction for most of his life, right in front of our eyes.  We never knew.  If CMHA can continue to do their work, and if we can be a small part of helping people overcome and/or deal with their demons, that’s awesome.  And if it’s on a bike, even better.

I didn’t intentionally race for my dad, or Paul, or the CMHA.  I rode because it was a Saturday, and there was a race.  But whether we were actively aware of the importance of the day or not, together, we rode for an awesome cause.

Ride.

 

Thanks again to the amazing volunteers, Kerri Davies, CHMA, and the amazing Dirty Enduro sponsors:

  • Fontaine’s Source for Sports
  • Bob’s Watch Repair
  • Ganaraska Forest Centre
  • Laser Helmets
  • Norco
  • OCA
  • Outdoor Gear Canada
  • Shimano
  • Tree Top Trekking
  • Wolf 101.5

 

Congratulations to the Overall winners of the 2017 Dirty Enduro:

  • 100k Overall:  Paul Cooney
  • 60k Overall:  Jamie Burr
  • 30k Overall:  Brendan Jeffery
  • 15k Overall:  Cole Zufelt

Congratulations also to Facebook’s Mountain Bikers Ontario guy, Steve Bator for a win in his age category for th3 15k.  Boom.

A complete list of category winners is on the OCA website.

 

PS. It was great to see so many of Dan’s people at the race.  Simon and Mike, Peter and Donna, Chris, Lenka, David, Bob, Guy, Will, and so many more.  I took a selfie with a few of them, but for some reason, it didn’t capture.

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Lenka and Donna.  Two fassssst racers.
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Dirty Enduro 2.0 Podium crowd.
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Team Colin closes the race.  Nice hat.

Something to say about this post, my blog, mountain biking, or just bikes?  Something to share about bikes?  Comment on this post, or send a message to teamcolinblog@yahoo.com. And if you want, follow this blog, or like the Team Colin Facebook page. That’d be pretty cool.

55. The Epic 8 Hour

What.

The hell.

Was that?

The Epic 8 Hour, presented by Pulse Racing, at Hardwood Hills was an absolute killer.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

I thought I was registering for a bike race.

I thought I was going to ride a little 10k lap, on a few sweet trails at Hardwood Hills.

I thought it would be challenging, and fun, and awesome, and EPIC.

I didn’t think I’d be riding my bike on the surface of the sun.

Holy crap, it was a scorcher.  Like, face melting, core draining, electrolyte zapping, take-off-your-jersey, scorching hot.

“How hot was it?”

It was so hot, three of my water bottles spontaneously combusted.

It was so hot, a rider in front of me spontaneously combusted.

It was so hot, by the end of the day all the sand on the “Lookout” had melted into glass.

It was so hot, that when I rode to my pit area, it was an actual Dali painting.  Aww, I really needed that clock…

Dayam, it was H. O. T.

Race Report.  Fall Epic 8 Hour:  Hardwood Hills.  September 20, 2017 The race started at 10 AM, and my first few laps were strong and consistent.  I held back and did three laps in an hour and 58 minutes.Noon.  The sun rose in the sky, and my lap times dipped, but I still felt okay.2 PM.  The sun hit full force, and I slowed to a crawl.4 PM.  The sun actually got hotter, and I’m pretty sure I crawled with my bike strapped on my back for a few laps.I WANTED 10 laps.  I NEEDED 10 laps.  I could TASTE 10 laps.  I was READY for 10 laps.  I was primed, and fit, and had been looking forward to my first 100k MTB ride for a while.In the end I rode…I’ll get to that after the Race Report.The course was a mix of long and sinister double track climbs, a few harrowing and rocky double track descents, some nastily awesome rooty bits, some awesomely nasty dusty bits, a bunch of sweet technical trail features, and plenty of tight but flowy single track.  The course ended with a shot on the Joyride 150 wall, a zip through the solo pits, a crunchy grind up a hill that was more wall than hill, and through some sweet BMX track with sweet jumps, rollers, and berms, before the START/FINISH/TIMING area. In truth, it was pretty much a perfect 10k of riding.End of Race Report.

So, how many laps did I do…

The day before the race, I was dialled:

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Andrew making my bike sing.

My bike was freshly tuned (Thanks Andrew Maemura of Cycle Solutions); my kit was washed; my alternate kit washed; I had 20 litres of water and a bunch of pre race, race, and post race food (pasta, chicken, fruit and vegetables); I packed my cycling shoes, my other cycling shoes, a helmet, my other helmet, gloves, more gloves and LOTS of chamois cream; I had electrolyte this and energy gel that; a tent, a zero gravity chair, and my tool (and other stuff) table; I even packed extra non-spandex clothing.  I.  Was.  Ready.

Mother Nature:  “Let me just see if I can turn the heat up a wee bit…”.  It was the planetary version of “Hold my drink”, but nobody, not even Mother Nature, was going to put down their drink because it would have either evaporated in a flash, or be drained by a thirsty rider.

It was like Mother Nature wanted to see what I look like poached.

“How hot was it?”

It was so hot, and I lost so much sweat, my pee was the consistency of salt.

I have a saying.  “If you’re going to be, just be epic”.  And as much as I try to live with that mantra in mind, really, I don’t mean truly EPIC.  Usually, I just refer to the fact that if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your abilities.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

For example, if you’re going for a ride, and it’s going to rain, don’t cancel.  Ride in the rain and be epic.

If you’re riding and you see a sweet trail feature, but there’s also a B Line without a feature, ride the heck out of the feature (Unless it’s a race.  Or if you’re tired.  Or if it’s really big).

If there’s a race, do it.

If you want to take a picture, lay in the dirt for the best shot possible.  Wait a sec, that’s Ted Anderton from Apex Race Photography.  AWESOMELY EPIC SHOTS APEX!

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If there’s a jump in a race, jump it! (Photo courtesy Apex Photography)

If there’s a glass of water, drink it.

If poutine is on the menu, order it.

If there’s a book, read it.

Okay, so clearly, there’s a sliding scale when referring to the word EPIC.  However, whether it’s work, family life, or on a bike, really, I just want to be or do the best I can.

And so, it was a Saturday and there was a race, so I raced.

I could have registered as a team of 4 or 6…

Or, I could have registered as a tag team…

Or, I could have registered as a solo rider.

Yeah, right.  Why on earth would anyone register to do an 8 hour race solo?  Like 8 hours on a bike.  Who do I think I am?  I’m not ready for an 8 hour race.  There’s no way on earth I could do an 8 hour race.  Ride for 8 continuous hours?  Like, be on a bike, without a real break, for 8 hours?

That’s nuts.

So…I registered as a solo rider.

Um, what?

Yeah, I registered as a solo because it’s EPIC.  Really, it’s a no-brainer.  The word EPIC is even in the title of the race.  Sliding scale? Pfft.  Epic is epic.

I knew it would be hard, and I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it, and I knew I would drag my body through a the wringer. However, looking back, I had no idea it would be as hard as it was.

Even though the course was easy enough (despite a few nasty climbs)…

And even though my bike co-operated like a seasoned champ…

And even though the crowd, and the organizers, and most of the riders, were awesome…

That heat.  It slaughtered me.

I know we all have something that drives us or holds us back, but I have to wonder about the biology involved in propelling my 250 pound body up, over, and through a tough MTB course.  Compared to a lighter rider my power to weight ratio falls short.  Maybe that’s what keeps me slow.  Maybe it’s a matter of one too many bags of savory sweet potato chips (and dip!).  Maybe it’s a lack of physical conditioning.  Whatever it is, it’s a thing, and it slowed me down.  For a full read of how slow I’ve been lately, here’s my report of the Kingston XCM on September 2.

Honestly, my last few laps were embarrassing.  I was literally gasping for air and pedalling in slow motion.  Note that I didn’t say I “felt” like I was pedaling in slow motion. I was actually pedaling IN SLOW MOTION.  I was like a mime on an escalator.

And this is where things took a turn.  While I’m disappointed with my results, I know this:  I didn’t stop.  When I wanted to retreat into the Team Colin support vehicle and nurse a cold popsicle instead of ride, I kept riding.  When I wanted to “be happy with 50k” and call it a day, I kept riding.  When my back was on fire, and my lungs were bursting, and my wrists were like stone, and my back and shoulders were a clump of pain, I just kept riding.  Sure, I stopped each lap for a 2 minute break, and sure, I stopped on course a few times in the last few laps to catch my breath, but each time, before I got too comfortable, I swung a leg over my bike, clipped in, clenched my teeth, and kept going, defiant and resolved.

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Yes, that’s a grimace.  (Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography)

Truthfully, the race wasn’t an epic life or death journey across a desert to escape a prison camp, but at the time, It sure felt tough.

And here’s where things  took an even better turn.  I call it the Matt Factor.

The Matt Factor is as follows:  Throughout the day, even from the first lap, there was a tremendous amount of respect and encouragement from other riders.

“Nice work Solo!”, “Keep it up Solo”, “You got this Solo”.  It was heartening and moving. So many riders, solo and otherwise, kept encouraging and pushing me (and everyone else).

“But why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

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Team Colin and Riot together…for the first time.  By the way, Riot and FIg are ripped.

And then, somewhere in the middle of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), something happened.  I was refilling my bottle inside my RV.  I was tired, and hot, and I wanted to quit, and my pit neighbour, Mike Tourond (yeah, that guy) came around for a lap.  He hammered on the side of the vehicle “C’mon, get out here and ride”, and he gave me a little push when I really needed it.

“Yeah yeah, but why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

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Jenn, Raf, and Me.  Nice hats!

And then, somewhere after the middle of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again. I was riding, I was in pain, I wanted to quit, and I felt a hand on my back.  The hand was pushing me.  Guiding me.  My buddy Raf, even though he was probably struggling too (although I’m not sure he ever struggles on a bike–dude is made of steel), spent some of his much needed energy to give me a little push when I really really needed it.

“Okay, fine, but WHY DO YOU ALL IT THE MATT FACTOR?”

And then, somewhere near the end of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again.  I was struggling, I was baking, I was EXHAUSTED, I wanted to quit, and Miro (who I only know in a periphery way through friends and Facebook comments), did the same thing.  As he was passing, he put a hand on my back, and gave me a push when I really really really needed it.  “You got this, Colin.  You’re almost there”.

“Seriously though, enough of this, why do you call it the Matt Factor?”

Whether passing the starting pits, where Jenn Kennedy screamed “Wohoo, Team Colin! Solo!”, or being handed a wet towel by organizer Glenn, or on the BMX track and hearing Stuart screaming encouragement, or passing the volunteers in the forest who were hoarse from screaming, or passing the kids in the solo pit who were singing for EVERY rider, or the guy in the solo pit who rang his bell for EVERY rider, or passing Dan Emsley and exchanging a brief word, the crowd was totally and utterly invested in every riders’ success.  It was remarkable.

“Blah blah blah, remarkable support, hand on a back…but that doesn’t explain the Matt Factor!”

And then, somewhere almost at the end of the race (honestly, much of the day is a blur to me), it happened again.  I was spent.  I was spent.  I was literally limping along on my bike.  It was somewhere mid lap, on the last lap, I was willing the race to be over, and I felt a hand on my back.  I thought it was Raf again.  It wasn’t.  It was Matt.  I had never met Matt before.  He put his hand on my back to give me a push.  He held it there, warm and comforting, and the race disappeared for just a moment.  “You’re almost there Solo, just keep pedaling.  The race will be finished before you know it.”.  The support, encouragement, and and genuine sincerity of the gesture gave me a push when I really really really REALLY NEEDED IT.

THAT’S the Matt Factor.  Yeah, the Matt Factor.

It was 5:30.  I was almost there.  It was almost over.  “Yeah, I’ve got this”, I thought. “Yeah, I can finish this” I said to myself.  “Keep it up Solo”.

It was my 9th lap.

I finished at 5:43. It was 7 hours and 43 minutes after starting.  The sun was perched in the sky above, taunting, and as bright and hot as ever.

I didn’t hit 10 laps.

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I’m pretty sure this was early in the race (hence a smile) and I was screaming “Love you, Ted!” or something like that.   (Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography)

It was disappointing.

Sort of.

Honestly, I waver from feeling good about my result (19/31), and feeling like I somehow failed myself (and my team).  I wanted to ride 10 laps.  I wanted to ride 100k on a MTB, and I didn’t.  I couldn’t.

Aargh.  What if I hadn’t stopped for so long?  What if I just rode a bit harder up this hill, or smarter over that trail feature?  What if I had trained just a bit (or a lot) harder?

What if?  So many what ifs.  But only one pure and simple fact.  I did it.

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Post race.  I could not move for a while.

It may only be a bunch of people playing bikes in a race, but I rode for 8 hours.  I rode as fast, and as hard, and as best as I could.  I left NOTHING on the course.  So what if the leader did 16 laps, and so what if my pit mates, Riot and Fig, finished 12 and 13 laps respectively.  I did 9 laps, and that ain’t so bad.

Next year I’ll try again, and maybe I’ll hit 10 laps.  100k on a MTB.  Now that’d be pretty Epic.  I just hope we’re not riding on the surface of the sun.

Ride.

 

PS.  I started to think “Yeah, so maybe I can be a bit less epic, but still be epic…”.  After all, I raced the marathon distance in the Kingston XCM on September 2, two CX races the next weekend, the 40k distance in the Great Albion Enduro the following weekend, 90k at the Epic Hour the week after that, and three weekly races in between.  I don’t have to do it all.  I mean…

…wait, the Dirty Enduro is this weekend, and they have a 60k distance…

Yeah, epic.

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Teamm Collinn and Glenn Meeuwisse.  We’ll be BFFs soon, he just doesn’t know it yet.

By the way, thanks again to Pulse Racing and Glenn Meeuwisse (so many pairs of consonants), Hardwood Hills, the staff and volunteers, the amazing sponsors, the outstanding spectators (literally, they were out standing all day), the awesome sponsors, the wickedly fast and talented race teams, the epic solo riders, and Mother Nature for coming along for the ride and making the day that much more epic.  Thanks also to the members of Team Colin for fielding so many needy questions from me in the days–and minutes–leading up to the race.

The results are posted here:  Epic 8 Hour Results.

Epic indeed.

 

 

And another.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

And another.

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Photo courtesy Apex Race Photography

Thanks again to Apex for making me look waaaaaay better than I am.

By the way, HUGE shout out to some of the awesome people I knew at the race:

  • Rafrider and Jenn.  You are just too cool.
  • Monika and Ironman Jack.  Dude is an Ironman, and Dudette is awesome)
  • The Bentleys (Hey Coach!)
  • Nick and Dan Emsley (Um, 14 laps Nick? Awesome)
  • Tom Beck (Are you kidding me?  13 laps on a singlespeed!  Weapon.)
  • Flat Pedal Chachies (Love the name, love the inspiration to do it solo–Rob–and love the push–Miro)
  • Backflips and Tailwhips (Thanks for the cheer at the end)
  • Brendan Arnold (Where’s that selfie we took?)
  • Christian (Always a pleasure Christian)
  • Heather (8 laps, and 3 of them were under 50 minutes…kaBOOM)
  • …and Brent (first race)
  • SupPups (2nd place.  Wohoo)
  • My frequent riding buddy throughout the day, Trevor (Great talking to you on the course)
  • Mike Tourond (12 laps?  With a broken finger something?  No way.)
  • Oh, and a GIANT thanks to my wife and kids for not forgetting who I am this month.

I’m sure I missed a few people, but you know, it really wasn’t my day.