Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching- Up

Baseball sucks!

Top of the World - GOLDEN HINDE

Island Cross the Rock #1 Beban Park

Momar Cumberland Glory

Jump the Fire! Jump the Fire!

Since the BC Bike Race and my last paintball post my racing schedule have been pretty erratic and injury filled. A week after Paintball and with my sights set on some 100 milers in Oregon, I suffered a pretty serious knee injury playing booze baseball in a farmers field at my Dad's office party. My goals changed considerably as I went from racing to just being able to ride the bike. After dislocating my kneecap, and tearing the medial and lateral ligaments, I was unsure how stable the knee would heal. Fortunately things continued to steadily improve and I was running and riding again by the end of August

At the end of August, Jeff, Jay, my little brother James and I decided to tackle the Golden Hinde, Vancouver Island's tallest peak. It was a good test for the knee, and base training for the upcoming Momar Cumberland. Despite terrible weather the trip was a success and Jeff and I summitted successfully, Jay partially overcame his crippling fear of heights and James rekindled his love for the outdoors

September started like normal. With my knee back to normal, training commenced for Momar and Cross on The Rocks (Vancouver Island's Famous Cross Series) The Cumberland MOMAR
went fantastic. Kristenn and I, decided to challenge Jeff and Jay for Momar glory and we narrowly missed defeated the handsome Helly duo, crossing the line less than a minute behind them. Kristenn had a fantastic day as our team of two was less than 15 minutes
behind the overall leaders.

My Cross season started strong. Turning 35 this summer I thought I'd start my season in Masters and work my way back to the Expert category. My first race went really well and I felt strong finishing in 2nd place. The race was held at Beban Park in Nanaimo, and the course was fantastic, featuring the exciting BMX track section.
Following the first race of the cross season I was stoked and even started doing something I've never done in the past, cross specific training. That must have been my first mistake. On my way down to Norm Thibault's house for a 7am training session. I t-boned a deer riding upwards of 50km hour. Time seemed to freeze as my bike catapulted over the dumb little doe and I remember feeling its fur brush my cheek, right before I was pile drivered into the pavement. Totally in shock I jumped back on my bike and rolled down the rest of the 200m to Norm's. Norm thought it was completely hilarious that I had managed to completely tear out the left ass-cheek of my spandex and was quick to snap a photo before getting me to the hospital.

After spending most of the day in hospital with my Mom, thanks mom. The doctors informed me that although I had bruised my kidneys and damaged soft tissue in my back that my spine and pelvis were intact. Up until now, I've never had back issues. I don't recommend them. It's been a slow recovery and probably not helped by playing hockey in a mens league twice a week.

I made my return to the bike on October 31st for the NUTCASE INTERCONTINENTAL SINGLE SPEED CROSS CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE UNIVERSE Norm and Wendy's psychotic brain child. The race was a lot of fun, but I did not enjoy the the 500m Lemans start, too much jarring on my tender back. The highlight of the race was easily the random pyrotechnic show which consisted of the organizers throwing and shooting fireworks at the racers. Jumping the fire pit was also pretty cool.

Following the race, I suffered a bit of a setback with my back and stayed off the bike, missing the Duncan and Victoria cross races. I returned for the season finale at Shawnigan Lake School a.k.a. Hogwarts. The course was wet and muddy, but fantastic. If you've never raced cross on the Island you need to put it on your list. Norm and Wendy put together amazing events, and despite my stubborn misgivings about the sport, they have gradually transformed me into a devotee. My race went well, and after being shadowed by a persistent Victoria rider for the majority of the race, I was finally able to drop the hammer and gain a small gap that allowed me to finish in first place. Despite feeling like a bit of a sandbagger for racing masters and not expert, I was super happy with my race after only being on the bike 5 times since my accident. I was thankful for men's league hockey and the fitness I was able to salvage. With winter upon us I'm looking forward to playing in the snow. 1st race of the season Mount Washington Yeti Snowshoe Race. Can't wait. Cheers Justin

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Rock City Rumble: Carey and Norm's Paintball Party

The Girls and Birchy

Riemer blending into his surroundings

Norona "Stone Cold Killer"

"The Crew"

F@#%#ing Riemer

I won't lie. I haven't been all that motivated to train, or even ride my bike since the B.C. Bike Race. Instead I've focused my efforts on organizing the Rock City Rumble, a unique party to celebrate the birthdays of Carey and Norm. Carey's b-day is on June 30th and unfortunately I was stuck in Cumberland trying to drag my ass through a 7 day mountain bike race. Carey was so graceful and understanding in allowing me to defer her birthday to a later date. Prior to the race, Wendy Simms and I had brainstormed and idea to combine birthdays and go play some paintball. We split the duties according to our strengths, Wendy with her artistic talents took charge of t-shirt design, flag construction, arm-band creation and promotion. I was in charge of procuring the weapons, and course construction. My parents were kind enough to allow us to use their 18acre property in Linley Valley, a sacred green space nestled in the center of Nanaimo. The course itself consisted of two hilltop bases, a creek with a gully reminiscent of a WW1 trench, a fence line, an open well, an abandoned car, stinging nettles and lots of trees and rocks. Sunday the 12th unfolded perfectly, the guests arrived on time as requested and by 1:30 PM all 25 of us were taking a tour of the course. I assumed my P.E. teacher voice, with a few f-bombs thrown in to set a good drill seargent tone, as I explained the boundaries and rules of the game. Wendy and I had chosen the teams the night before, Carey the Crippler and the Blood Thugs wore red armbands and Norm's Nazi Nutbusters wore Yellow Armbands. By 2pm we were ready for the 1st game, capture the flag. Like a kid waiting for Christmas, the night before I remained awake into the wee hours, thinking up strategies to vanquish our opponents. As the first game began, I suggested we set up a defensive perimeter and slowly move outward. We dug in around our base and watched as Jeff Riemer , barely perceptible in full guilly suit and Jay Latiff came charging up the left flank right into range of our shooters. Not to brag but, Norm Nazi Nailers kicked ass in the 1st three games. We had scheduled a BBQ at 6 pm, but there was no stopping us and we played almost until dark. It was awesome, and not without some carnage. The biggest challenge was preventing the masks from fogging up. In one game, my mask fogged so badly that I could barely make out shapes. I was higher up on the slope and I was being shot at by Dave Norona from behind a tree near the creek. As I couldn't really see him, I decided to charge down the hill and get in real close for a kill. I started sprinting toward the tree where I thought he was, firing wildly in his direction. Then "WHAM", suddenly I felt like I had hit an invisible wall and I was thrown five feet back onto my backside. With my fogged mask, I missed the presence of the wire fence that separated me from Norona. The day was awesome, and my dad cooked up a feast, highlighted by his famous Mac and Cheese, as my mom dressed in leather chaps and motorcycle jacket amassed kill after kill on the course. Thanks to everyone for coming out and putting together such amazing costumes. Can't wait for next year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rock Steady: A summary of my 2009 BC BIKE RACE experience

Chase hanging out with the Boys at the start of Day 2

Riemer Ripping it! Day 6

The Steed Cycle Boys - Finish of Day 6

Day 2 - Suffering. I wish I hadn't played hockey last night.

Day 4 - Ferry Ride

Day 5: Wendy's Fisheye shot

Day 6: Squamish, Pushing hard

I just got home last night from my 3rd edition of the BC BIKE RACE. My race partner Jeff Riemer and I raced again as TEAM HELLY HANSEN VANCOUVER ISLAND, but we also rocked our bike sponsors colours from STEED CYCLES and ARROWSMITH BIKES. The course was amazing this year, and while it was shorter the added singletrack really took a toll on the riders. In the end we finished 8th overall, and while I felt we didn't have any spectacularly fast days, we didn't have any slow ones either, we were rock steady. As I did last year, I thought I would do a day by day summary of the event in point form.

Day 0 - Registration
- 8:30 AM - Ferry, travelling in the Frontrunners van with Norm, Pete, Wendy and Marty
- Fighting Vancouver traffic always reminds me why I left the mainland.
- Spent the day looking for parking and waiting in lines 1 though 16B to complete the sign in.
- Pre-ride of the Pipeline - Jeff takes an epic bail - Norm shatters his headset - I've forgotten how burly the shore is, but I still love it.
- Dinner with Dave Norona, Kim and Jason Sandquist at the Cactus Club
- Thanks for the hospitality Dave, your couch rocks and "OLD SCHOOL" is the best pre-race movie ever.

Stage 1 - The North Shore

- Can't believe how many big name pros are out.
- Competition is pretty intimidating
- Kim Steed looks stoked, but nervous
- Learning from last year's mistake we sign in early and we seed in the front row for the start.
- Race starts hard - I always hate the 1st half hour of these races
- The trail "Severed Dick" is super fun - I take the hard line down the chute and almost crash - lovin it.
- Hook up with Kim Steed, for the middle part of the race. The dude is a rock star on the shore, tons of people cheering.
- Have an awesome ride down "Pipeline" with Kim, he rips it.
- Solid finish - nothing special - finish @ 1hr 52 minutes - around 10th spot
- Catch the 3pm boat back to Nanaimo
- Play ice hockey - get to meet Kyla's brother Scott Hartnell - he watches our game and babysits Chase with Carey
- Have an awesome game and score a great goal, diving through the crease.
- Not sure playing hockey was a good idea.

Stage 2: Nanaimo to Parksville
- Wake up in my own bed - relaxed morning
- Ride down to the ferry from my house
- Roll out from the ferry, very sketchy riding on the road, worried about crashing
- Hit the trails of the Abyss, it's a beautiful sunny day, and the trails are in amazing shape, really enjoy this part of the ride. Jeff gets ahead and rides behind Geoff Kabush for a while, pretty cool.
- Start to fall apart a little bit after the NAD trail, get caught by the Luna girls and I'm holding Jeff back.
- My energy returns by aid 2, our good buddy Big Jay follows us to Parksville and we start to rip again, awesome to have his company and moral support.
- Finish strong in Parksville. 3hrs 54 minutes
- Back home, to get ready for stage 3.
- Big Jay cleans and works on my bike, freehub is toast - Wendy and Norm graciously bail me out again.
- Thanks guys - I have the best friends.

Stage 3: Cumberland
- All packed up and ready to join the race, felt a little weird staying at home, almost more stressful
- Feeling pretty tired - average start - work my way back up to Norm and Pete. Ride in a group with Robbin Dutton and his partner Andy.
- Steady work on the climb - but good rip on the descent , and we pick up a bunch of teams.
- Solid transition back to the Cumberland trails, starting to feel pretty shattered but happy to be ripping down Cumberland's amazing trail network.
- Horrible crash at the end of "Short and Curly" - Catch my pedal, over the bars on a downhill corner and headfirst into a fresh cut log.
- Smash my helmet and face. Super hard impact, felt like I lost my teeth. Riemer yells at me "Can you still see?" I reply "yeah, but it hurts" He responds "Then get on your bike and quit being a f@#$ing pussy" I comply.
- Good finish - 3hrs 24 minutes
- Good dinner at "Carmies" - Home cooked buffet
- Thanks Carey for bringing me a new helmet from home and happy birthday.
- My head and neck hurt, I go to sleep feeling dizzy.
- Thanks Lisa and Curtis for letting me sleep on your couch

Stage 4: Earl's Cove - Sechelt
- Hump day
- 4:30 AM - Start - 2 busses and 2 ferries later - we arrive at the start line - good breakfast - thanks BC FERRIES
- 11 AM - Start - Thanks again Wendy for the bottle of purple gatorade - I'm determined not to cramp or dehydrate today.
- Good start - hard as always - ride with Geogia Gould and Ryan Trebon -
- Trebon - makes fun of me for not riding the steep climbs
- Feeling really good and start to pick off teams. Lots of teams seem to be suffering mechanicals.
- Dre Hestler graciously stops to help his Rocky Mountain teammates who broke a pedal.
- Stage seems to drag on forever.
- Ride last half with Jeremy Grasby, who is killing us riding a singlespeed.
- Jeremy asks if Jeff is riding the downhill with his brakes on, Jeff responds by crashing into a tree. Thanks Jeremy!
- Good solid finish - 4hrs 4minutes
- First night camping in tent city - don't sleep very well, miss Carey and Chase

Stage 5: Sechelt-Langdale
- Muffin and Burrito for breakfast - burrito sits heavy in my stomach, but tastes good
- Solid start - wind up through a gravel pit, pretty cool to see the co-operation between industry and sport/recreation.
- Hang in there, not feeling great.
- Forest singletrack climb, forever, thankful for the forest cover, nice and cool. I melt in the sun.
- Start to feel stronger, picking up teams.
- Downhill comes faster than I remembered, this might have something to do with the shortened course.
- Amazing descent to the ferry, a little thinly flagged so we take a few wrong turns which adds to the stress level.
- Good finish - probably our strongest day - 2hrs 59 minutes
- Catch the 1:30 boat to Horseshoe Bay- Catch the bus to Squamish
- Hook up with Chris Birch and go do laundry and get a sandwich at Tim Horton's
- Pasta dinner - hang out in the rec center -
- Another terrible sleep in tent city - keep having to get up to piss.

Stage 6: Squamish
- Big breakfast - hanging out with good friends, Lisa and Dawn, Birchy, Bart and Simon.
- Carey and Chase arrive just before the start, so good to see them, can't wait to be done.
- Hard start up to Perth -
- Trebon mocks me again, this time for using my small ring on the Rock and Roll hill bypass
- Climbs feel super hard today - rip the downhill
- Solid ride of the "Plunge" ,but put my foot down for a second, very unlike me.
- The climb up to "Hoods in the Woods" hurts me, and I turn it down a notch.
- Catch up to Jeff at the end of the rocking descent.
- Familiar singletrack to the finish - loving it and I keep thinking that I'm so happy I finally finished the TEST OF METAL under 3hrs this year.
- Another good strong finish, but nothing spectacular today. 3hrs 11 minutes.
- Another great day of spectacular singletrack, but my legs are feeling tired.
- Pack up into Jeff's Subaru, and Kristenn, Jeff, Carey, Chase and I head to our hotel room in Whistler
- Avalanche Pizza for dinner.
- Awesome evening, relaxing by the pool with Pete, Norm and Wendy

Stage 7: Whistler
- Final day, looking forward to being done.
- Hard start - straight up - downhill not very inspiring
- Beautiful fast open singletrack along the river. Great cheering by Kristenn, Carey, Chase and Wendy.
- Trying hard to hold on to Jeff's wheel and being pushed by the talented Jeremy Grasby, who seems way to relaxed and happy, for someone who has raced his bike hard for 4 days and is riding a singlespeed.
- Amazing singletrack downhill to finish back at Creekside.
- Cool belt buckle, presented by race organizer Dean Payne
- Lots of smiles, great to congratulate and catch up with everyone.
- Feels good to be done, but it always seems a little anti-climatic.
- Chase gets lots of attention from Grasby's adorable daughters Ella and Chloe.
- Tasty burger at Dusty's pub on the patio with Bart, plans are made for a winter back country ski trip in Revelstoke
- Back to the hotel for beers and a swim.
- Miss having the banquet, but awesome dinner with Pete, Norm and Wendy in the Village at "21"
- Go to the movies - "Transformers 2" - felt like watching somebody play a video game for 2 and half hours.
- Midnight 7-11 icecream run and then introduced Norm and Wendy to "Kenny Powers"

Thanks again to all the people who made 2010 version of BC BIKE RACE possible:

- The amazing volunteers who worked tirelessly day after day.
- The race directors and their crews, who prepared day after day of amazing singletrack courses
- Marc Campbell and Helly Hansen - for their amazing support
- Kim Steed and Steed Cycles - for keeping me in bikes and gear
- Norm and Wendy - for all their support - rides, feeds, xtr wheels
- My race partner Jeff Riemer "The T800" - for his steady no bullshit approach to racing and life
- Carey and Chase - for always being there when I needed them the most.

Cheers Justin

Thursday, June 25, 2009

MONKEY OFF MY BACK: Breaking 3hrs at the TEST

Always suffering!

Maybe this watermelon will make my legs stop cramping.

I've raced the Test of Metal so many times I've lost count, and barring the first two years in which my goal was to simply finish, I can remember wanting to finish under 3hrs. The Test, in my opinion is one of the best organized and community supported races on the planet. What makes it unique in B.C. is the consistency of the course allowing, racers to match and compare their times year after year. In all honesty while I love the race, it has not been good to me. Over the years I've suffered 2 broken chains, 6 flat tires, 2 torn sidewalls, 1 front brake failure, 1 bout of diarrhea, 2 dehydrations, 4 bonks and a separated shoulder. One memorable year, having a fantastic race, I finished 9th in elite, won $150 in cash, but still only posted a time 3:02. Last year, when the course was running extremely fast, I clocked a 3:01 and change. It was a heartbreaker, having to wait an entire year just for another chance to check off another box on the bucket list. Lining up at the start this year, I was confident in my fitness, but fearful of the countless things that could go wrong: flat tire, broken chain, cougar attack. The race went great, with the exception of the lid of my water bottle popping off, expelling half a bottle of orange gatorade on my jersey and not into my thirsty body. My water bottle fiasco may have contributed to some cramping at the end of the race, but I suppose it wouldn't feel like the Test if you didn't cramp in Crumpit woods. In any case that's all done with now and my usual feelings of regret and despair associated with the TEST have now been replaced with a deep sense of personal satisfaction. Thanks to the organizers and amazing volunteers who continue to make the Test of Metal one of the most consistent and best races in the world.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Favorite Peru Pics

This spring I was fortunate to travel to Peru for a bike adventure of a lifetime, with a fantastic group of people. The trip was simply amazing. Here are a few of my favorite pics.

Jeff and Justin in Peru 2009 - Unbelievable!

IceMan - riding with aviators

Pre-Inca tombs

Ride at your own risk!

104 year old woman - direct ancestor of the Incas

Rider up! You're blocking the trail

Rammer at 14,000 + feet

Riemer (T800) Clearly not impressed with the pre-inca ruins

The boys - hanging out in the Andes

El Parro

Machu Pichu - Sacrificial table

Chris - feeling a little green

El Jefe and the Giant Reign - Amazing bike for the trip

Sick as dog, being cured by Coca Tea


Finger Puppets

Finishing the ride

The Horseman

Sacred Valley

Indiana Jeff and the Raiders of the lost bike

Who are you?

Terrifying view from the bus window - Scariest ride of my life

We drove up that!

Stuck in the mud!

Norona making friends

Artsy shot

Ridin it! Canadian!

Cusco - back alley

Lunch break - mid ride

The locals

Fuelled by Pisco Sours

Dave trying to rip off the money exchange man

Big Mountain Adventures

Inca Kola - outsells Coke in Peru - tastes like cream soda

Lovin Lima

Fish, calamari, beans and rice - I love the food in Peru

Robots in Disguise

Heading for the Pacific

Doc Andrew

Whatever was in that bottle almost killed me

Me, almost dead!

So sick - note the chalky/green complexion

Ventana del Diablo - A hidden pre-inca Cave

Another artsy shot