Wednesday, March 31, 2010


For those of you who don’t necessarily follow my antics on a regular basis, let me take this opportunity to enlighten you as to what exactly I do here.

I sit currently on an Air Canada something or other plane, contemplating the good and bad things that have happened to me since starting this blog and subsequently, my adventure in becoming a pro cyclist. Let me tell you there has been a lot of each. To be fair and try to keep you reading a bit longer, I’ll start with all the amazing stuff that this trip has given me the opportunity to do.

Ask yourself these questions. What is your passion? If you could do anything in the world utilizing your skills as a human being, what would you do? Sky is the limit here people so don’t hesitate in your answer because of work obligations or money savings or material commitments, I didn’t. For me the answer is simple. Bicycles. I’m kind of nuts for them. The functionality, mechanical efficiency and finesse of riding a bike might as well be the peas to my carrot. Me of course being the carrot.

Sifting through my confusing analogy which I now regret using, what I mean to say is that on any given day, no matter what I’m doing, chances are, Ill be thinking about the next time I get to ride my bike.

Recently, in the past few years I have taken a huge interest in racing my bikes. Who doesn’t like to go fast? This interest, which started honestly with a friend saying “Hey, you should race Patty.” has exploded into well kind of what I do now...which brings me to the reason I’m sitting on this plane. People don’t really get the opportunity to say they ‘went for it’ in their lives. In the later months of last race season and the last year of my undergrad, I decided to do just that. I saved my ass off working 7 days a week, still found time to train a bit and hang out with my awesome, supportive girlfriend who doesn’t get my attention nearly as much as she deserves, and booked it down to Tucson to train for my first season as an elite level bike racer.

The three months are over, I rode (pardon my French) a fucking ton, and I did my first pro race in California just last weekend and still managed to finish with a smile on my face. Aside from needing a few minor tweaks here and there with my fitness, things are looking up towards fulfilling my goal of racing at the World Cup Finals in New York state this year. I had a total blast on top of that too.

There were a few minor hiccoughs along the way however. On January 20th, I crashed on my road bike in Tucson and broke my left clavicle, pretty bad I might add. It broke really close to my shoulder so simple surgery wasn’t an option as the bone on one side of the break wasn’t long enough to get screws drilled into. This resulted in a full week totally off the bike, cursing the beautiful weather and that I was alone for the whole thing. My week of bicycle abstinence was followed by a week on a trainer graciously sent down by the BEST STORE IN THE WORLD, which allowed me to train enough so that I didn’t completely lose the fitness I had gained previously. How many employers do you know would do that for an employee? That’s what I thought. Once I got the OK from my orthopaedic surgeon in the states to ride, It was back to longer rides pretty quick. I had company at this point so I didn’t just spend the whole ride focusing on my shoulder, which was nice. I cant say that this was entirely why my performance was so poor at Fontana but I don’t mind playing the blame game a tiny bit. That was the other thing I was sort of grumpy about. Granted, it was my first pro race and I had no idea what to expect, I really did think i was going to do better than I did. I thought my fitness was good at the very least but I guess I have a lot of work to do when I get home. This however, I am looking forward to...a lot. The race was the punch in the guts I needed to really realize what it takes to go fast. The sheer volume of riding that I did means that my fitness base is great and I felt that throughout the entirety of the race. I wasn’t going very fast, but my body was up for doing about 10 laps. The thing I need to work on is the punch that will get you into a good starting position off the back of a start line and keep you there for the rest of the two hours. This, I am excited to achieve.

To keep this short and sum up exactly what I have been trying to say this whole time, is that this was by far, the BEST experience I have ever had in terms of reaching goals. Despite those few problems, I can’t help but look on the bright side of this. I got to go ride my bikes in the sun for 3 months, I got to ride with and race against the best of the best in all of North America, and I even got the chance to explain to some curious people in waiting rooms why the Canadian health care system is pretty neat. Oh, and my tan totally kicks ass, you can ask Barry about that one.

I will surely keep blogging away with my learnings on and about the bike this summer and hopefully people stay interested in what I have to say. I know all my family only reads this for the recipes.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


That was one hell of an experience. We had done a small grocery shop Thursday and there was a small kitchen in the hotel room so Friday night before the race I treated myself to a tasty microwave sweet potato and a bit of pasta with black beans. Saturday morning, the big day, we all went downstairs to enjoy some coffee, juice and helpings of our tasty continental breakfast before quickly returning to our hotel rooms to prepare bottles and equipment. The women’s race was great to watch as it gave us a bit of an insight into how we were going to have to battle against the wind. Needless to say, it looked debilitating. Here is some insight into what we all raced in. (VIDEO) Congrats to all the women who did a great job yesterday.

I actually somehow ended up getting a pretty sweet call up, about 4th or 5th row. I have no idea how that happened because I currently have no UCI points and did not compete here last year and haven’t raced at all this year. Ill take it though. The start loop was interesting to say the least, the ground was loose, it was twisty, tight and fast so 100 pros going through there at almost top speed meant a lot of people washing out/un-clipping and fighting for position. It was a pretty big shock to the system and my good call up got thrown out the window. Up the insanely steep climb I was probably in something like 60th position and at this point it was too tight for out section of the group to all be riding so off our bikes we got and up the hill we went. I had started to settle into a bit of a groove on the second lap but due to my own silliness, when I was coming through to get my feed on to start my third lap, I was looking down, frustrated with myself for being in the position I was in, subconsciously shook my head while I dropped my bottle, which signalled that I did not need a new one. Oops. Huge thanks to Cindy Batty though for feeding me, she is a feed zone guru and it was 100% my fault for shaking my head. Oh well! No bottle it is and I'm off on my third lap. To make up for the missing bottle in my bottle cage I had a gel, which was tasty for about 10 seconds until I had no water to wash it down and then became stale in my mouth and just tasted gross. It was much better than nothing though. I kept going and finished out my race in 73rd, out of about 90 something starters, losing a few positions on that lap.

I had no idea what to expect coming into this race but I’m not going to lie, I really did think I was going to do better than I did. I have a lot to do and even though this was a poor performance from me, I realize now what needs to be done for me to fulfill my goals for the season, which remain unchanged. I know my performance will improve now that I know the intensity that I have to train with. Overall however, It was a great experience on one of the toughest courses in the North American circuit and in some of the craziest weather. Im just satisfied I didn’t DNF like many other people.

Next on the chopping block is to get packed up and head home to Toronto. I am really looking forward to getting into my own bed and back to my old training grounds so I can improve for my next race which will probably be Le Bicicletta’s Hell of the North and then Paris-Ancaster for some more intensity before the Ontario and Canada Cups start. Mansfield is about a month away and Im still hoping for top 10 in that race.

See you in Canada!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

WInd, 2:30 start times, race days.

Its 9 am here in Fontana, made the beautiful drive here just fine on Thursday so we could ride the course a few times before the big day (today). Just had my tasty continental breakfast and am drinking a hotel room coffee, looking outside at the gale force winds that are literally bordering on uprooting some trees. Its pretty wild stuff. Luckily for us, we start our race at 2:30 and hopefully it will have died down by then.

The course is nuts, its the first bit of real mountain biking I've done in a while which is really nice. Tucson has some great trails but they are either straight up, straight down or totally flat and boring. Not going to lie, the nerves are starting to get to me, so I'm just ready to get this done with. Our 5th lap is going to suck big time.

On a lighter note, Barry, the owner of the Trek Store is in Fontana and might actually be racing right now. He brought me a brand spanking new kit to race in and like I've said before, if you look great you'll do well haha. Anyways, gonna go stretch some more before we head down to watch the pro women's race so wish me luck everyone and I will have a full race report ready tonight or tomorrow for everyone to read.

See ya!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

*thank you Emily for taking the pictures.

Great training up Lemmon today with some Ontario folk. Made some sweet videos. Here is shoddy self video of my daring attack of the easy paced group ride.

Two first names for a last name explaining the benefits of elliptical chain rings.

Friday, March 19, 2010

oh dear, this is really happening.

Up early, having a cup of coffee and making some black beans for breakfast. I have had a good last few weeks as far as training goes. When my mom was here I found a great new road that took me out for over 5 hours in the brilliant sunshine.
I have been loving the weather we have been having as of late but nicer weather also means that other things, aside from summertime are approaching. The first races of the season are right around the corner and I can't tell you how excited/supremely nervous I am to get out there and mix it up.

It all really started to soak in last weekend when the first US Triple Crown race went off. Aside from the brilliant performance of the other Trek Toronto infused athletes Adam Morka and Peter Glassford, I was finally coming to terms with the fact that I was going to lining up at Fontana with not only these guys, but Kabush, JHK, Plaxton, Taberlay and the list goes on. Luckily, due to my zero priority starting position that I will have, I'm pretty confident that I won't have to deal with following any one's wheel haha.

What are my expectations for this race? Do I have any? No, not really but let's be honest, considering the field, I would be happy with not coming dead last in my first pro race. I watched the footage of last years race on Cycling Dirt last night and made a few goals for myself that I think are going to be realistic for me.

I would absolutely love to be able to finish top 40. In a field of 120 men like last year, I would also be totally happy with my ride to finish in the top half. For the most part, I just don't want to make a fool of myself and see those horrible three letters next to my name at the end of the race. Unless there is some sort of catastrophic mechanical though, I can't see this happening. My full proof plan is to go out to the start line, rip it and see if I can't push my way overly aggressive tires I brought down with me up and down that hill as fast as the next guy.

I am really excited to race my new bike, with friends in a crazy huge race and just be toasted when I cross the line. I will have a brand spanking newly designed kit for the race too so I mean that's gotta move me up 5 or 6 places at least too. Looking good is half the battle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hey, it's something.

Not much of an update but here is me cruising through a street that takes me to my favourite place to do intervals. I promise my camera work will improve one day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bug Spring trail MTB ride

Fun stuff today on the MTB. Apologies for the ridiculous sudden tone drop in my voice. I also have no idea how to turn off my camera apparently.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What is it you want to hear?

Video update. Sorry for the shoddy camera work and the template changes. I have been experimenting.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Recipe! Vegan 'Neat'-Loaf

Okay, this actually turned out better than expected. Consistency was that of a rice bake more so than what I can remember from actual meatloaf but held together nicely was so good to have next morning as breakfast side dish. When and if you do make this, just keep in mind that it is not at all supposed to re-create the taste of meat loaf (it's better).

1 cup cooked basmati rice
2 cups chopped/peeled carrots
1 cup red lentils (I was out so I cooked up some black beans and that worked out just fine too)
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cup thick rolled oats
2 stalks of celery
8-10 ounces tomato sauce
2 teaspoons of sage
2 teaspoons curry powder.
1 egg (optional)


  • Start by making the basmati rice (it will be done when it's needed to complete the loaf).
  • Steam 2 cups of carrots until tender enough to mash and set aside.
  • Simmer 1 cup of lentils or beans in two cups of water until soft (15-20 minutes, note: dried beans take WAY longer), then put them in a strainer in the sink and drain excess water.
  • Use a potato masher to mash carrots, then combine the lentils and carrots in a bowl with onions, sage, curry powder, oats, celery, tomato sauce and cooked basmati rice.
  • *fun part* - mix all ingredients really well with your hands. This is where the optional egg comes in. If you are planning on using it as a next day sandwich filler or something similar then the egg would just hold everything together a bit better, so if so crack it in and start mooshing everything around.
  • Grease either 2 loaf pans or one casserole dish (i used casserole dish as you can see but once you get to this stage you can see how much filling you have to work with, its a lot) and bake in the oven at 375 for about 45 minutes. When finished it should be browned a bit on top and the middle shouldn't be too moist. Let cool for 15 minutes then serve.

Lots of good for you stuff in here but if you wanted to make it even tastier serving it with avocado is excellent (my breakfast this morning). Also, I'm sure there is a way of incorporating quinoa into this but will have to experiment next time. Cheese would probably make this tasty too but I'll leave that up to you.

If anyone tries this and likes it, or has any suggestions I'm all ears!

Monday, March 8, 2010

digging this band right now, great riding tune. They are playing in Tucson just before I leave...hmm

Don't be sad if you can't see the whole video.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dude, look to your right. Look at that guys shorts.

The past week has provided, with a few minor exceptions, hands down the most perfect riding weather ever. This is totally starting to make up for the rainy days that aren’t as much fun.

Good week of training. Some intensity, some mountain biking and some long rides. For the most part though, I have been feeling kind of like my body is lagging behind me a bit. Not that much, but enough for me to take notice. I made so much progress in the first three weeks that I was here it was crazy. In my head I had made fake plans to continue improving at this rate and by the end of my three months here be the fastest...person...ever. RIdiculous I know, but it sure felt that way for a while. Although after my collarbone break, improvement tapered off a little bit, I am now improving more and more and taking it day by day, the only thing I have to come to terms with is that it’s just not at the same rate as when I first arrived. No big deal.

Having a blast with some of the workouts that I have been given to do down here. Since we are closer to race season, my intensity has ramped up and my long easy rides are starting to get toned down to only about two days a week now, instead of 4 or even 5. As far as intensity, on Wednesday, Laura was leaving so I wanted to spend as much of the day as possible with her so I had 2.5 hours planned. Did quick rip around the Saguaro loop and then took the long way to Catalina Highway (the highway that goes up Lemmon). I have a love/hate relationship with this road now because it is perfect for doing intervals on but well...usually when I’m there, im killing myself doing intervals. My ride home from there is about 15-20 minutes of cruising so it’s perfect to finish off rides there and get the sensation of putting in strong efforts at the end of a race. Killed it with some 40/40’s for about 20 minutes, then 10 minutes of cruising up and down the road, then another 20 minutes of 40/40’s. That second set of efforts is the one that gets you making silly faces as you are cranking away at the pedals.

Thursday was a bit of a bust because of how sleep deprived I was after Laura left. Her flight was leaving at 6:50 in the morning and because she was traveling internationally, it was recommended that she arrive nice and early for her flight. Needless to say, the shuttle came to pick her up at 3:15...EUGH. Even though it was a beautiful day I did two easy hours and then called it quits to come home and stretch and relax. Friday however, was awesome. I got a decent nights sleep and had some tempo intervals to do so up the mountain I went. 3x20 minute efforts were good. There was a bit of wind so it was hard to tell how I was improving because even though I felt great, my speed seemed slow for how hard i was pushing. The next thing I have to sort out when I get home is some sort of power meter. The more I’m training now the more I can appreciate the benefit of having that as an objective way of determining progress. It can get pretty windy down here and that can screw with your head a lot. A super windy day can completely destroy you emotionally even if you are pushing hard or make you think you are having a great day when you aren’t doing anything special. But either way, After doing my tempo workout up to mile 15 I came down, grabbed an Iced tea at the coffee shop and kept onwards to do another lap of the ‘east end’ finishing with a 74 mile day with lots of climbing and what seemed like a billion kcalories burned. I felt wiped but my legs felt great all day and this morning when I woke up at 5:20 to get my ass to the shootout, they still felt good. It takes me a long time to get to the university starting spot where the ride leaves from, about an hour or so. So theoretically, riding there, doing the whole ride to Madera and then riding home from the university would be a 7 hour day with tons and tons of intensity. Eff that. I have found an excellent formula of meeting up, pushing myself in the lead group till my heart feels like its going to explode, then riding home, usually taking a few detours along the way. Today was no different, except my legs exploded a bit earlier than I had hoped. Oh well, still got 4.5 hours in with what felt like a 40 minute sprint.

Tomorrow Im going mountain biking again. This time heading to what seems to be Tucson’s answer to the Don Valley trails. It’s called “Fantasy Island” and is something like 4 square miles of land but has 28 miles of flatish singletrack packed into it. Excited.

Oh forgot to mention that there was a guy at the shootout this morning who had old school Sport Swap shorts on. CJ, two first names for a last name and I were flabbergasted. New goal is to find out who that is.

Here are some pictures of the last little while.

Laura and I ate at this place near the Trek Store here in Tucson called the Guadalajara Grille. Holy smokes it was amazing. Here is Laura's meal.

On my first mountain bike ride.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It doesn't get easier, you just get faster.

All by my lonesome again. For a little while at least. Laura M left on the 27th, was great having her. Laura B left this morning. Sad goodbye at 3 am when the shuttle came to pick her up. In retrospect though, It is only 27 more days until I am caching my own flight home so I'll survive. Can't believe it's gone by so fast.

I tried to get out and do a proper ride this afternoon and actually thought my body was feeling good after a small core workout but even the sunniest of days couldn't keep me out for longer than 2 hours. I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep right now after waiting up with Laura and did not feel good on the bike so going to take it easy today to prepare for 5 hour day with tempo tomorrow. Going to try to get up early enough to do the shootout on Saturday, maybe I will see some Canadians?

Yesterday, today were amazing weather-wise and it looks like the rest of the week are going to be stellar as well, so looking forward to working on my silly tan. Had lots of arm warmer days in February so it's not as bad as some might think. In about a day I will be done my book so if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears. So far this trip I have read:

"What is the what" by Dave Eggers (I actually had started this book about a year ago but it got put on the backburner and then I finally finished it when I got here. Despite my procrastination, it is actually a super interesting and intense read about a refugee who makes his way across the better part of Africa during the height of civil war.)

"The Cyclists Manifesto" by Robert Hurst. (About bicycle advocacy. I like it a lot actually, lots of interesting history about the bicycle and not preachy as one would expect)

"World War Z" by Max Brooks. (An oral history of the zombie war. Sound stupid? read the reviews, its incredible, super fast read and super interesting)

"Let the Right One In" by John Lindqvist (Great book, If you liked the movie, which was hard not to, then you will love the book. Lots of great back story to the characters that you didn't get in the movie.)

Good news though is that mother bear is coming to visit soon so another Costco trip is in order!

Now that it's March, my training has cut down slightly on hours but has definitely increased intensity. A lot less long easy rides and now more long-ish super intense rides. I like it though, structure and me work well together and I like the progress that I'm seeing so far. In a way I'm looking forward to getting back to Ontario to get back on my old road ride stomping grounds and see if some of those hills still hurt like they used to. probably.

I went mountain biking on Tuesday. Managed about 4 hours all together and had a blast. Took it nice and easy on one or two of the descents (reallllllllly don't want to crash again for a bit) but ended up climbing up Lemmon on the road part to mile marker 7 or 8, went in the Bug Springs trail and climbed, climbed, and then climbed some more. Its pretty steep and doesn't really let up but is one hell of a way to get your heart rate up. Had a total blast on the way down, took me about 10 seconds to get used to my bike again. It's so awesome. Anyone who has been apprehensive of the whole 29er thing - THINK AGAIN. Go HERE and try one out, they are wicked fast. I recommend the Superfly ;)