Tzouhalem Stages

On Sunday I was up in Duncan and rode in the first ever Tzouhalem enduro. One thing I learned is that I am terrible with trail names. I’ve ridden at Tzouhalem a number of times before but really only knew a couple trail names. The Island Cup Series team posted the Trail Forks listing of the stages but I couldn’t tell if I had been on the trails before or not.

The event itself was a lot of fun. It turned out I had ridden pretty much all of the trails before, but I still felt like I was racing some of the stages ‘blind’. Some of the trails I had only been on once before so didn’t really know what was around each corner. Other trails I was familiar enough with but didn’t know where the end of the stage was.

Overall I was pretty happy with how the race went. No crashes, one close call with the front starting to wash out. I knew I was pushing on some corners. I think I could have pushed harder through some of the earlier stages, but I was having some wrist issues during the week and wanted to last all five stages.

According to Strava I set quite a few PRs on the trails. I really felt like I was flying down Double D, which is always a fun trail to blast down. Add in a closed course and it is easy to say that Double D was my favourite stage. I think I also did great with the chip sensors this race. I actually got a comment from the volunteers at the end of stage 2 on how well I was able to tap and get the beep.

After the last stage it was back to the parking lot for some recovery food and drink.

Results were posted later and I placed 29/61 in Intermediate Male. Tzouhalem Race Placement

This has left me in 18/72 for the series. Series Placement (4 races)

One of the things I really liked about this race was that the intermediates raced the exact same course as the experts. I’ve always been curious about how well I stack up against the experts but have never been able to really compare times. Well, my total time was 14:58.0. The last placed expert had a time of 14:41 😂 I would have been DFL in expert. Maybe I am in the corret category after all.

Gnarnaimo Blind

A couple weekends ago I rode in the Gnarnaimo Enduro. It was part of an all mountain championship where racers did the enduro on a Saturday, then an XC race the following day using the exact same equipment. Logistics only really allowed me to do the enduro race, so I signed up for that. All the other enduro races I’ve done this year I’ve had the opportunity to preride the course. This was not the case with this race though; I rode it completely blind, never having ridden in the area.

The race went pretty well. The trails were very dry and loose. During the pre-race briefing we were warned about how loose they were. The first stage was a blast. Long downhill, very flowy, good jumps. I wish I could get a second run down those trails they were so fun. I skipped a couple jumps not knowing what was behind them.

I headed up for stage 2 and got set. Dropping in was pretty steep and I started in on the switchbacks pretty quickly. They were pretty loose. Coming up to one right hander I could see the trail dropped away pretty steeply. That was when disaster struck. My front tire washed out, the bike dropped away and I was launched down the trail. It felt like I flew quite a distance and all I could see were all the rocks in the dust. Amazingly I managed to land on my hands and slide, absorbing the worst of the impact. I had to run back up the hill to retrieve my bike. A quick lookover to ensure there was no damage, a quick check up the hill for the next rider, then I was off again. A couple turns down the trail I went to slow down and the lever for my rear brake went to the bar. I almost panicked thinking I was in big trouble. A couple pumps though and the brake came back. At the end of the stage I tapped the receiver and took a seat to recover a bit.

I headed up for stage three. I could feel some scrapes and some possible bruises forming. I was covered in dust too.

Stage three felt like it was a long way up the hill. I was starting to feel tire so I walked more and rode slowly. At the top I took my time recovering and drinking some water. I got myself settled, went to the start tent and got set. I headed off for my final stage. I sure got beat up on this one. It was really long and very bumpy. Lots of roots, dips, and a few drops. I had no idea where the finish was so I had to keep pushing. My arms were getting fatigued though and I couldn’t hold on to the bars very well. I had to either slow down, or death grip the bars (death grip being all fingers on the bar and none on brakes). I tried a little of each until I couldn’t take it any longer. I grabbed the brakes and slowed down. Crossing the line I was grateful I had completed the race.

Gnarnaimo Enduro

I’m happy to say that I placed 27th out of 46 racers. Pretty decent. This also leaves me in 16th overall having done 3 of the 4 races so far.

I am still not sure how many races I am going to be able to do this year, but these three have been a blast.

Signed Exploring

Sue and I signed up for the Chafe 150 a while ago, so we’ve been doing quite a bit of training for it. The plan was for us to do some rides together, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened very often.

With all the training I did last year, I got a little bored of riding all the same awesome roads over and over again. With this training I’ve concentrated on some hills and on exploring new roads. Victoria has a lot to offer for cycling, and I have taken it for granted in the past.

Tacky Compare

Back to back riding days is pretty awesome. I am in between jobs right now so I can get out mid week for some rides. For these two rides I lucked out in the weather department, but also on the trail conditions. Super tacky right now, and with the rocks drying out, there seems to be traction everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

 

I still notice how much fitness I have lost since the BCBR though. I was looking back through Strava though and realized I was doing some long rides by this point in 2017, but they weren’t as big as I recall.

In Feb, I see the above rides, and that is it. I really shouldn’t compare myself to last year’s self since I was in a very different place a year ago. I need to look back at last years riding with fondness, and not try to outdo last year.

Weather Avoiding

I knew today was going to be a wet ride. After I got up I could hear the rain pounding on the roof. I grabbed most of my wet weather gear and headed out any way. I was meeting some people over at Partridge and I decided to do some trails at the dump first.

As I started out, I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going to ride before getting to Partridge, so I headed out Shock Treatment. Puddles everywhere. I meandered a bit, thinking I had lots of time. With 20 minutes until I was supposed to meet up, I realized I was waaay behind. I just don’t have the same fitness I had in the summer. Imagine that.

I took a couple shortcuts before hitting Trillium, then down to Partridge. I arrived thoroughly wet and muddy.

We roamed around Partridge hitting a fun loop, but avoiding some of the larger lakes that dot the area. My hands were cold and wet, but not too bad off. My feet were aching though. Normally they warm up and are fine but I couldn’t keep moving enough to get the blood flowing to keep them warm. The descents were fun and messy. There were more than a few two wheel drifts through the sloppy mud.

Exiting Partridge, one of my riding buddies gave me a ride back to Hartland where we all got changed.

Mud everywhere. Caked onto my knee pads, shorts and shoes. Anything that wasn’t muddy, was soaked. Getting into dry clothes was nice, but without a towel, I also transferred a bunch of mud. We stopped for coffee and a bite to eat. Felt great to get something warm on the inside. Back home I filled up on some soup and tea.

Then it was off for a shower to clean myself up.

Rides like that remind me of when I first got into mountain biking. We’d ride in any weather, get messy, and have a blast.

Motivation Hills


Since the BCBR I’ve been struggling with motivation to get out and ride. I may have turned a corner though. The annual guys trip is coming up and I better make sure I can hang with everyone for the few days of riding. 

To that end I decided to get out for a ride today and try my legs on some hills. I was going to do Munns but remembered I have blood a few days ago and that might not sit well. Instead I hit up a few other hills. 

Didn’t feel great, and my heart rate was sure jacked up, but it was a gorgeous day to be out on the bike. It hurt, but I loved it. More please 😄

Endurance Blown

Saturday I got out on my MTB for an endurance ride. The goal was 4 hours, and I got pretty close. I rode out to the dump and took Executive into the trail system. That took less time that I expected, so I had quite a bit of time to explore the trails at the dump.

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Too much choice is sometimes a bad thing, so I was stopping too often to figure out my next trail. I eventually decided on Bubble Wrap as my destination, and only got turned around once while getting there 🙂

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It was an absolutely stunning day, and I had a great time on Bubble Wrap, a fairly technical trail. Once I was done that though, I then had to figure out how to spend another 1.5 hours before I could start heading home.

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I meandered through the park, getting back to the Switchback and ascending it a second time for the day. That trail is always tricky, so on tired legs I wasn’t expecting much, which may be why I was so surprised that I cleaned it for only the second or third time in my life.

After exhausting myself on the trails I zipped over to the parking lot to refill my Camelbak, then started heading home. I took the longer way home, stopping by the bike shop to book my machine in for servicing before the race.

I was chatting with one fo the employees about how I wasn’t too happy with how the rear shock was performing. He fiddled with it a bit and declared that it had likely blown. There was no rebound damping and the compression damping adjuster didn’t seem to be doing much either.

*sigh*

I was hoping to spend more time on my MTB before the race, but for the foreseeable future I will be on my road bike until my Transition is up and running again. Glad it was caught now before it was too late to do anything about it.

Coaching Effects

One of my goals for the BC Bike Race is to not die. That is a bit dramatic, but I really just don’t want to suffer all day every day. One of my struggles with training is knowing when and how much to do. I know I’m going to have to train several days in a row, but when do I start that, how many days, how long for each ride? Lots of questions.

To help me answer answer these questions I have enlisted the services of b78 coaching. I’ve been placed with a coach who does a lot of cyclocross and mountain biking, and who has done the BC Bike Race twice before, as well as competed in other multi day stage races. For me this is the perfect fit.

They use a service called Training Peaks that allows them to map out my weeks of activities, and I enter them in the system as I do them. Harmon Connect also has hooks into Training Peaks so that as long as I use my Garmin, the workouts get entered automatically into Training Peaks. Very handy.

I’ve only been on the program a couple weeks, but so far so good. I’m finding that having a coach layout my workouts helps me stay motivated and accountable, which are both very good things. I am quickly realizing how much effort and time I’m going to need to put into this though. My upcoming week has a run on Sunday, a spin class on a Monday and Wednesday, a 2 hour easy spin on Thursday, then a 3 hour or longer ride on Saturday. Also sprinkled in there are some core workouts which are killer, but essential for proper pedalling technique.

My coach mentioned the other day that there are only 4 months to go until the race. That is a bit scary to think about, and makes me nervous. Since I signed up, I’ve tried to make each ride count. Do an extra loop, learn to love hills, ride to the trails instead of drive, etc. In spin class I’ve tried to put in extra effort with higher cadence than called for, pushing right until the rest, putting in as much effort as I can. The net result is that I feel great while riding these days. I’m feeling very strong and fit. I’m nervous about the race, but still looking forward to it.

There are some side effects of the training that I have noticed so far. 

The first, which is no big surprise, is increased food consumption. I am hungry throughout the day and all it takes to make my tummy grumble is seeing someone else eating something, or hearing someone talk about food.

The next side effect is the amount of time needed to prep for and clean up after riding. After I get back from a ride I typically need to eat and shower; sometimes I will have a nap. I still have to clean the bike though and get it prepped for the next ride. 

Bike upkeep is an expensive proposition too. I had to replace the drivetrain on my mountain bike this year. Thinks break or get tweaked and need replacing. Batteries need replacing, fenders need to be purchased and installed, lights are needed, etc.

The final side effect is increased laundry. Again, not a surprise, just something I hadn’t counted on. I have a few sets of riding gear, but when I am riding 4 times a week, I generate a lot of laundry. It also means I need to consider wants I wear for each workout, so that the kit I want to wear for long rides is clean and dry for me.

So far this has been quite an adventure getting ready for this race. I am loving how much riding is m doing, but this does mean less family time, which I am missing. Only a few more months to go until life returns to normal 🙂

Race Vacation

This past summer we were on a road trip when I did something I had been dreaming about for a very long time. I signed up for the BC Bike Race! I first became interested in the concept of this race when I heard about them putting on their first race.

Every year when the race began I would read the writeups on Pinkbike and get even more stoked. Their coverage is pretty amazing with lots of photos to really drive home how awesome the event is.

Signing up was a nerve wracking experience. There were some credit card issues, but more importantly this has been a dream of mine for over 10 years and taking that step to realize the dream was very intimidating. My heart was racing, and it almost felt like I was already at the start line.

After the signup, the vacation continued, but in my mind I started developing a training plan. From that point on I convinced myself that I loved hills and would hit as many as I could. I’d push myself harder and ride longer than I normally would. Spin classes started and I would put all my effort into those.

Yesterday I met with a coach and started talking about setting up a training plan.

Today I am feeling pretty good about where I am, but still nervous about where I need to get to. There is still lots of time to prepare though, and I am grateful for that.