Sunday, January 12, 2014
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Or.. Do one thing per year that scares the shit out of you. 2013: check!
After a really crappy 1:45 hrs treadmill run, some rest, and a pastrami sandwich lunch, it was time for some cross training. Toronto style!
The Edge Walk at the CN Tower sounds just like the perfect thing for that. Especially since we have perfect weather for that today!
Walking some 350 meters above ground with no railing or anything like that. Well, a safety harness to be fair. But since we already have to wear the harness, might as well have some fun with it. Leaning out on your tippy toes and leaning backwards over the edge and shenanigans of that sort.
After being suited up, harnessed, triple checked (they do take safety very serious!), shuttled up, and given some final dos and don'ts, Elina, Rodrigo, and I stepped out on the ledge - err edge, whatever.
Out of our little group of three (not counting our guide Aussie Joanne) Elina, hailing from Israel and living in Toronto for 11 years now, was by far the most courageous. I bet she was some sort of Israeli special forces commando or shit like that. When Joanne told us about the first activity - Toes over Toronto - she was first and almost ran to the edge. I thought she was going to jump! (Which would have been pointless given the harness.) Rodrigo, Elina's just boyfriend, part-time boyfriend, or soon to be boyfriend, or something like that, hailing from Brazil and living in Amsterdam, was actually kind of chicken. At first anyway. He soon got the hang of it and was fine. Really nice guy in any case.
So... Toes over Toronto, eh? Pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Walk to the edge, put the toes of one foot over the edge and then the toes of the other foot. Then remove your hands from the rope of the safety harness. Easy right? Fuck no!
As endurance athletes we are quite used to the concept of "mind over body". This was more of a case of "body over mind". Certainly not a strenuous task. Just two tiny, short steps. Except my mind was screaming "NO! WTF?! DO NOT DO THAT! ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?" It took all I had to put one foot forward. It was just like my other foot was paralyzed. Eventually I managed to have both set of toes over the edge - sort of - and very briefly let go of the rope. After a split second that felt like an eternity I nearly jumped back.
The next activity was "Lean Backwards". Sit down in the harness, walk backwards until heels are well over the edge, straighten legs, lean fully backwards, let go of rope, and enjoy. Strangely though this is much easier than toes over. Probably you don't look down. This was fun from the start.
For the record, I did 'toes over' several more times when the opportunity allowed for it. Just to prove I could do it. It really does take some time to get used to height. Even Joanne who has been a guide for over a year at one point went 'uhhh' as she was pointing out the sights and mentioned that every now and so often she gets caught of guard by the height. And she was standing and walking right on the edge all the time.
Speaking of sights... The weather today was sunny and crisp and almost no wind. Absolutely perfect conditions. The ticket includes a video of the whole walk which we have on DVD and I will post later. It also includes two pictures in printed format of which I took a picture (I know, very analog) and attached to this post. I also got the USB key with all the pictures Joanne took and some of which I'll post later as well.
Other activities were "Edge Walk" were we were literally walking right on the edge - hands off the rope! (yeah, not for long) - and walking backwards which was kinda lame.
In the end it was a totally awesome and kind of unnatural experience. Now I am chilling with a local (the other attached picture).
Saturday, April 20, 2013
This weekend I have to stay in Toronto for work. No big deal in general, except that I cannot afford to lose anymore key training sessions since the first 3 months of 2013 were something of a write off training wise because of project demands.
Since I don't actually have to work on the weekend and really have no other distractions I was (am) hell bend to get all my training in - at least on the weekend! Including a 5.5 hours bike ride.
I didn't come to Toronto directly but had to go to Chicago for 2 days first. This would have made shipping my own bike challenging and I doubt that I would have done it even with a direct flight.
With some research I found Exclusive Sports Rentals a couple of dozen miles north of Toronto. They were the only ones who seemed to be able to rent me a reasonably proper road bike including SPD-SL pedals and all the stuff one needs for a long ride (helmet, tools, pump, spare tube). Since I didn't have time or the means to pick up the bike and bring it back, Alex from ESR (he must be the owner) offered to drop it off at the hotel on Friday and pick it up on Sunday. Still as a 1-day rental but I have to pay a fee for the dropping off /picking up. Fair enough. I *really* want to do the ride!
I get myself some chocolate bars and Gatorade for ride at the convenience store and am all set.
Now I consider myself extremely privileged to be staying at the Shangri-La hotel! It is super nice and the staff really treats you like royalty. That said, they clearly don't have a microwave oven in the rooms :-) And the various food service they offer is qualitative outstanding, but, well, not exactly inexpensive.
This morning I figured 'what the heck' and decided to get room service for breakfast. I really didn't want to get dressed for the restaurant and then change for the ride. I ordered the steel cut oatmeal with stewed apples and brown sugar ($11), the Bircher Müsli with honey roasted almonds and orange segments ($9 and kick ass good!), and a French pre coffee ($7). I ordered it via the iPad in the room. (the same fucking iPad that told me for days that today will be 14°C and sunny... but that's a different story.) As I am completing my order I realize that (roughly) $5 delivery charge, $5 gratuity, and $5 tax is added to my bill. Fuck! This is now a $42 breakfast!! Are you kidding me?! Oh crap, let's go for it anyway.
The earliest I was able to order for at 6:25 AM was 6:55 AM. OK, good things take time. Plenty of time to get ready ready and just as I am sitting on the potty, the door bell rings! (yes, they actually have a pleasant door bell) Damn! They are 15 min early!! Scrambling to get into some decent shape to open the door. Guy rolls in the cart and asks me if I want the (hot) oatmeal first or later. So he gets that there is only one diner - as I had also indicated during the ordering process. So he sets me up and gives me the check to sign which had prominently a space for tip. Errr, sorry buddy, but this is not going to happen!
Once he's gone and I sit down to eat, I noticed a few odd things...
1. There are 2 place settings
2. They are set up with knife, butter knife, and fork
3. Both my dishes are "spoon" dishes and there is no spoon to be found. Well, except for the coffee spoon.
Ah, who cares? Definitely first world problems and the Bircher Müsli was still ridiculously good. And the breakfast was so filling and lasting that aside from 2+ Gatorade bottles I needed nothing else on the ride.
I rode along the famous Waterfront Trail west towards Niagara Falls and made it to past Burlington in howling head winds, freezing cold, flurries, and for about 10 min an actual snow storm. I am neither kidding nor exaggerating! Because of the head winds I decided to go out a little longer - 2:55 instead of the exact half 2:45. The ride back was much more fun :-) And I made it back to the hotel in just under 5:30 total.
All in all an expensive ride but totally awesome! Happy to have done it. Just to round out the story, the bike rental was $60 as was the transportation fee. Plus add on some smaller fees and taxes and the total came to $155-ish. Add to that the event super expensive breakfast and we have a $200 training ride.
Time for a light lunch now and some more rest before an easy 20 min treadmill run.
Update: attached the only picture from the ride when I was not completely frozen yet and only had light flurries to deal with.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Bullet-point version of the big day:
- Getting up at shortly after 2:00 AM we were on the road by 3:30 AM.
- Some really nice weather along the way and some spectacularly crap weather too.
- The day spent surrounded by totally amazing volunteers and fantastic co-riders.
- We covered a total of 392.5 km in 15:40 over a total elapsed time of 18:50.
- In the process we managed a total elevation gain of more than 4,200 meters.
- The Ride2Survive collectively raised a total of nearly $420,000 this year with over $3,800 from my wonderful supporters.
We left Delta by bus on Friday morning at 10:00 AM and arrived at the Kelowna Free Methodist Church by 3:00 PM. There we fixed up the bikes that came up in a separate trailer and when I pumped up my flat front tire, it almost immediately blew up again. Turns out my rim tape was worn out and so a kind volunteer drove me to the Fresh Air Experience in Kelowna where they fixed it up in a jiffy. Bikes all sorted we had dinner at the church at around 5:30 PM followed by a summary of the Ride2Survive history slideshow supported by Megan McNeil's song "The Will To Survive". After this we had the traditional rider and volunteer get-together where everyone had the opportunity to get up and give their reasons for doing this. Some spoke for just a minute and others for much longer but everyone's story was very emotional and often heart wrenching. In the end one thing became abundantly clear: research works! It saves lives and makes live more enjoyable for this affected by cancer!
After the meeting Devlin and I went for a bit of a walk as sleep would not come easy anyway. Sleep would be in the basement of the church with about a dozen or so other riders and volunteers. In the hot, muggy, and slightly smelly church basement that is. By 11:00 PM or so I finally got in my sleeping bag and tried to sleep for a few hours but there wasn't much of that... I may have dozed off a bit but sleep? No such luck! At around 2:00 AM the noise from all sorts of activities from above started as breakfast was prepared and everyone was getting ready. At 2:10 AM I decided to get up, get ready and start getting fuelled for the day.
It was still pitch black at 3:30 AM when we started the ride and made our way from Kelowna to Westbank. I think the organizers keep the first segment intentionally short as a lot of us are not quite as ready as we'd like to be. So the first stop at the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in Westbank is quite the hive of activity.
In total the ride is broken up into 12 segments:
|Westbank||Chainup Area to Penask||
|Chainup Area to Penask||Penask Summit||
|Penask Summit||Brake check||
|Merritt||Base of Larson Hill||
|Base of Larson Hill||Britton Creek Rest Stop||
|Britton Creek Rest Stop||Hope||
|DeRoche||Mission Info Center||
|Mission Info Center||Planet Ice - Maple Ridge||
|Planet Ice - Maple Ridge||South Shore Cycle in Delta||
#1 - Kelowna to Westbank
Just get the legs moving and enjoy the fact that it is super quiet and beautiful.
#2 and 3 - Westbank to the Penask Summit
Without a doubt the toughest part of the ride. A solid climb - especially in segment #3 - and still very early in the day. But as it is still early it also means that we are still fresh and not really awake enough to notice. This year we rode most of it in solid fog so we were spared to see how much more climbing we had to do. One of the riders in my group kept calling out numbers like 400 meters... and I kept wondering what the heck he is talking about as we surely have much more than that to go to the next rest stop. It took me a while to realize that he was calling out the elevation we still have to cover until the Penask Summit...
#4 - Penask Summit to Break Check
Don't remember much of this segment other than that I must have liked it as it was all downhill.
#5 - Break Check to Merritt
I got my top speed of 79.7 km/h in this segment and it still irks me that I didn't manage to get 0.3 km/h faster to get to 80 ;-) Overall this is a great segment as it has a bit of everything and ends in the first longer break of the day: 40 min rest at the Merritt Visitor Info Centre.
#6 - Merritt to Base of Larson Hill, aka "Coldwater Road"
The pure mention of "Coldwater Road" makes most riders (myself included!) nervous! Not a super long segment and no big hills -- just a whole lot of up and down and up and down... In the end, the scenery is so nice and the terrain so varied that it turns out to be one of the nicest segments that is over rather quickly.
#7 - Larson Hill
Well, Larson Hill... say no more. I obviously too much climbing for my liking!
But the rest stop at Britton Creek more than made up for it. First thing this nice Ambulance lady asked me if I am OK and although I said "yes" she quickly felt my lower back and decided that I need to be warmer and shoved a heating pad in my jersey pocket. OMG! That did feel good. Next the awesome volunteers had prepared small tomatoes with bocconcini, basil, and balsamic reduction. Oh yea... yummy!
#8 - Britton Creek to Hope
The best way to describe this segment is... 30 min climbing, 60 min descending, and 20 min cruising. Sounds fair on paper. Except I wasn't keen on the climbing and on top of that the weather turned to, well, shit! What should have been an awesome descent turned into a white-knuckle break fest for me as we rode inside a rain cloud. Water Everywhere! I don't think I got much above 50 or so km/h on what I was hoping to be a blazing fast downhill. By the time we reached Hope the weather turned really nice but I was cooked. Maybe Coldwater Road did take it out of me more than I was admitting? Thankfully Hope is our second longer rest stop where most of us change into our R2S gear and since it was so nice, sunny, and warm we all got into lighter gear.
Also at the Hope rest stop we traditionally shoot the group picture
#9 - Hope to De Roche
Leaving Hope in beautiful and sunny weather it was a bit of a shock when shortly thereafter it completely turned with heavy rain and winds and tree-bits flying everywhere! Obviously everyone got rather cold as we weren't really dressed for this. Also, the crew didn't really find a good place to safely set up a temporary rest stop and so we plowed forward until we reached the next scheduled stop at De Roche.
In all honesty... (a) I appreciate all that the crew did for us and their call to be safe rather than comfortable was clearly the right one! And (b), this ride shouldn't be all about comfort and having to tough out a section like this is quite suitable and fitting to the general idea of the ride representing what cancer patients must go through. Tough sections are part of it - period.
Once we reached the De Roche rest stop the amazing volunteers had propane heaters set up and loads of chicken noodle soup prepared and everyone had the opportunity to change and put warmer gear on. Or, for those who really were too cold and depleted, to skip the next segment and the infamous "De Roche Hill" - an 11% climb over something like 2km on very tired legs - by taking the SAG to Mission.
#10 - De Roche to Mission
Really, the hill sucks but is not that bad after all... I just wish that I would have known how long this segment was as I skipped to go pee at the last stop due to all the hubbub going on. By the time we reached Mission I as actually kind of rude (or maybe very rude...) and cut into the bathroom line. Women and children be damned - I gotta go and go now!
One other thing on the way to Mission that happened is that I heard some rubbing noise and smelled a bit of rubber. Turns out my back fender came lose and rubbed against the tire. No big deal (I thought at the time) as I had it fixed within seconds and was back on my way.
#11 - Mission to Maple Ridge
The 24.5 km of this segment were just slightly undulating and generally as straight as an arrow - or at least all on one road. This is notable for me as I at one point I felt my rear tire being a bit soft and sort of... bumpy. I asked the one Ride Captain if I would stop to get the tire exchanged, would I have to SAG it to the next stop? He assured me that I wouldn't and so he radioed to the SAG to get a "Shimano 10-speed wheel" ready. Since I have my PowerTap in my wheel I wouldn't have any power data from here on in but that was the least of my worries. Exchanging the wheel took a bit longer than I was hoping partly because of me forgetting to put it into the smallest cog. By the time I was on the bike again the peleton and all support vehicles (except the SAG) were well up ahead on the road. I really (*!*) did not want to have to SAG it and so I gave it all I had and started riding like a mad man. After some 330km of riding I averaged well in excess of 35 km/h for some 15 min to catch up with the group. By the time I caught up I was done like dinner and grateful I could draft again.
#12 - Maple Ridge to Delta
Not having done enough sprints for the day I had my chain come off and lost connection with the group again. Fortunately not as far as last time and so I was back in the fold quickly. As per tradition we quickly regrouped and re-organized the group at the gas station on 64 Ave and Scott Road so that the cancer survivors wearing yellow can lead the group in. Now we only have a bit over 15 blocks to go with the Fire Trucks and Police Helicopter leading us in it is quite a show! But more than that, it is very emotional!
My butt was very glad to be done and I was tired as hell. But none of that mattered as Esther was there to cheer us in, as was Leeanne who volunteered to drive the second car back to Vancouver and Grahme who came out just because he is awesome! Needless to say I started falling asleep in the car home again.
First and foremost a huge thank you to my lovely wife Esther who puts up with me being away on weekends so often to train for an event like this! I really know what you put up with and cannot say how much this means to me.
Also a massive thanks to all the donors... over $3,800! WOW - you are incredible. Whether your donation was through an event or straight up or both. Also including Jimmy's Taphouse and Rasoee for their great support of the Butter Chicken Cook-Off. Your gift will have a huge positive impact on those affected by cancer. And every penny will go directly to research! Thank you!
Of course I also owe a debt of gratitude to all my training and riding buddies who helped me get ready for this. Whether they are from The Right Shoe, Speed Theory, Ride2Survive, or just friend coming out for a ride or run and put up with me. A big thanks to all of you as well!
Last but not least a warm and heartfelt thank you to the Ride2Survive organizers, Kerry and Vicky Kunzli, the many ride captains, and of course all those selfless volunteers without whom all of this would not be possible!
As I am sitting here, typing is uncomfortable in my right hand. Well, fingers really. Or to be precise, mostly the index and middle finger and bit of the thumb and the ring finger too. On The Ride my right hand went numb a few times -- nothing to worry about as having the hands on the handlebar for that long a time (about 16 hours) is sort of excepted to cause some discomfort. But it always went away as soon as I moved hand and arm around a bit and there was no numbness or tingling in the evening after the ride. The next morning though I woke up with a completely numb and tingly right hand. At first I thought I slept funny and maybe pinched a nerve and all will be well by well by the end of the day... it wasn't and isn't even more than a week later. Thankfully I have a physio appointment on Wednesday and hope that we'll be able to shed some light on it. If you happen to know about something like this... please let me know how to fix it.
I'll add more pictures to this blog over time.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
With now only 3 weeks to go until we are riding our bicycles 380 kilometers from Kelowna to Delta in one day, I just wanted to post a brief status update on my progress with the Ride2Survive.
Training has been very good overall and in many ways has been given us glimpses in what the actual ride day might be like. We had many very nice weather days and also some real brutal ones. Just two weeks ago we rode some 150k in Burnaby and the North Shore, capping it of with a climb up Cypress Mountain. All day the weather was kind of iffy and when we started Cypress it started to rain. On the top we had something like 3*C and sideways rain. But the next week we rode 250k to Whistler and back in beautiful sunshine.
So whether it be a long day in the saddle or the harsh elements or just having a rough day or a little bit of all, every pedal stroke is a reminder of why we are doing this in the first place: to raise funds for much needed cancer research and prevention through one of the worldwide leading organizations in this field, the Canadian Cancer Society.
If you have meant to sponsor me but haven't gotten around to it yet, or are simply looking for a great cause to support, please go to http://ride2survive.kintera.org/2012/klaus/ to donate securely online. And remember: 100% of your donation goes directly to cancer research! All donations from the Ride2Survive are not used for administration or putting on the event. The costs and efforts for organizing the Ride2Survive are covered by the riders, the volunteers, and some wonderful organizations supporting us.
Thank you so much for your compassion and generosity!
I'll make sure to let you all know how the ride on 23-June went.
Monday, May 28, 2012
You see, no official ride was scheduled for this weekend and the last fully organized long group ride is a 200 km ride next weekend. Unfortunately some of us cannot make it next weekend and so we decided to organize a small group to ride up to Whistler from downtown Vancouver and back after a short lunch stop.
The small group turned out to be 11 and the weather gods liked our endeavor and graced us with a spectacular sunny and nice day. So we set off at just after 5:00 AM from downtown, went straight up the Stanley Park Causeway and over the Lions Gate Bridge into West Vancouver. With virtually no traffic at that time taking Marine Drive to Horseshoe Bay was already an incredibly uplifting start of what promised to become a wonderful day of riding and training.
Most of us had at this time some good amount of training - including hills - in out legs but going a total of 250km was still quite a bit more than any of us had done this season yet. So we went at a steady but quite manageable pace along the Sea-to-Sky Highway until our first planned stop at the Porteau Cove Campground.
After a short rest we continued on with what we knew was going to be a shorter segment to the next stop at the Starbucks in Squamish. Another water refill, pee break, and leg stretch here and off we were again. While the 70 km until here were somewhat undulating, we all knew that the next 55 km to Whistler is where the hills are! Also along that stretch are not that many places to refill water bottles so we were settling in for a good workout.
|Squamish Morning Stop|
At the next stop at the Brandywine Falls rest we knew we had most of the "big hills" behind us and are less than an hour away from Whistler and our - well deserved! - lunch stop. Turns out that there is no readily available water available at Brandywine Falls so being close to Whistler was a good thing. With some sharing of spare water around the group we all managed to have enough though.
Lunch in Whistler was lovely and the rest quite welcome. In the end we stayed for an hour which was probably longer than we planned but the patio was soo nice and sunny!
From Squamish we decided to stay a bit more together, or rather to wait-up and re-group more often as some separation was inevitable. The next "planned" rest stop was the Gleneagles Community Centre in West Vancouver - near Horseshoe Bay.
At a re-group stop near Shannon Falls, just as we were soaking in the rays, I made the cardinal mistake... I wondered aloud if the other group may have had a... and here I used the "m"-word we so carefully avoided the entire ride until now. "Do you think they had a mechanical?" I asked. OH CURSE ME! No sooner had I said this... BOOM! I know my front tube just blew. Still I had to look around in the hope that it was someone else's. No? Oh damn! But hey, I am a triathlete and changing a tire is not going to take much time. The others came around just as I was fitting the new tube and they decided to keep going as we probably are going to catch up with them anyway.
Tube in and CO2 attached and phhuuuuuuuuuu - half the CO2 goes into the air. Dang. OK, let;s try Steve's inflator. Works well and another CO2 canister goes into the tube. Now just quickly cleaning up and off we are. BOOM! OH COME ON! "Did you check the tire?" Steve asks. "Err, no...." But it wasn't the tire, it was the extra air I am sure. OK-let's-do-this-again-and-hurry-as-we-are-now-way-behind! Hurry I did and as soon as I let the CO2 inflate the tire.... you guessed it: BOOM! This time I rushed and didn't check that the tube was properly set. Now it's just a gong-show. Thankfully I brought 3 (three!) spare tubes! I am now on the last one... Now Steve is showing merci and is actually changing the tube for me. But-no-CO2-thank-you-very-much! Someone give me a pump please. Finally after about 25 min we were riding again. Catching up with the other group is now all but impossible. But look there... just before Furry Creek we see a stopped group with Denise changing her tire. She is now on her second one as she had a similar episode as I just had. Wanting to repay the kindness of those that just helped me, I helped Denise and we were quickly on out way.
Devlin was now so far ahead that there was no catching him. At the Patco Road turn off to Horseshoe Bay we made the mistake of staying on the Upper Levels Highway and thus wouldn't meet up with Devlin at Gleneagles. Rochelle managed to contact him and we decided to meet instead at Marine Drive and 22nd Street at the Chevron gas station.
That then was also our last stop before the end of the ride. All in all a great ride with a great bunch of people despite the little hiccups near the end. Thank you Denise, Devlin, Keith, Rochelle, Steve (+ friend), Shane, Mike, Paul, and Kacem for a great experience!
Here are some stats from the ride:
Epic Day Indeed!
Needless to say I was slightly useless on Sunday ;-)
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Sunday, March 4th at 2:00 PM at Jimmy's Taphouse in Vancouver (783 Homer St at Robson) 3 chefs will go head-to-head to determine who really does make the best Butter Chicken.
Tasting and voting is by minimum $10 donation to the Ride2Survive benefiting the Canadian Cancer Society. 100% of your donation to the Ride2survive will go to The Canadian Cancer Society for Cancer Research.