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Discovering Lance Armstrong

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

My heyday, such as it was, in cycling was from about 1984 to around 1989. For a number of reasons I simply stopped most riding after that and stopped paying attention to the sport. Big part of that was work, marriage and kids which I have talked about in the past but in general it meant that I didn’t follow cycling at all from 1990 to 2009, and in that time a certain Lance Armstrong came to prominence. So it has been weird to miss all of this, then get back into it as hard as I have and basically go from Greg Lemond to Alberto Contador and miss the whole Lance thing. So it’s time to discover just what all the fuss was (and is) about.

In my day it was all Greg Lemond, and he battled back from his shooting and rose once more to the top. I am a big Greg Lemond fan and I had the chance to hear him talk about 3 years ago, I still find him passionate about the sport. Lance had a similar story but one I only knew from afar as a casual follower of sport in general. I wanted to understand this personality who has defined cycling for the past ten years and then some.

I started with some youtube, and you can get some sense of the man. I found this classic. This was the Bermuda Tri in 1987 and clearly Lance was an athlete who brought a level much higher than anybody had seen before. Go to 3:11, he rockets by the older guard (he is 15 in this video). This kid had a future.

With winter here now and a dungeon set up in the basement (trainer and my brother’s old Fiori mounted on it) decided to add some video naturally to the festivities. I usually do a hard 45 minute or hour set more or less daily and that means I can go thru a lot of DVDs. I actually have a lot of VHS tapes of the tour de france and Paris-Roubaix from the mid 80s and started to convert some of those to DVDs so I can review them.

But want some new cycling DVDs too and recently I started to use zip.ca. This is the same, more or less, as NetFlix in the states. Our local DVD rental shop went belly up recently and we were looking for an alternative. Jury is still out on zip.ca (they don’t send you the DVDs as you want them, but as they have them) but at least should allow me to get some DVDs I would otherwise not buy.

Zip has the 2001, 02, 03, 04 and 05 Tour De France. I started with the 2004 version (which I hope isn’t the most interesting of them, Lance just blew everyone away, yawn), but am now working in the proper sequence (realized this isn’t Star Wars!). They also have a few of the Giro’s and a Lance Armstrong biography. Starting with disk1 of the 2001 tour right now.

So I hear this guy was good, I’ll let you know come March!

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Categories: bicycling, Triathlon Tags:

Being a Winter Warrior on my Devinci

December 8, 2010 1 comment

Now that the snow is here (and then some!!) still not at all ready to stop riding through the tough Canadian winter. So decided that my Devinci would be sacrifaced (in a sense, all that salt can’t be good for it) and winterized it.

First up was to upgrade the tires. Bike paths, even the ones next to the main streets are ice covered by a thin (or not so thin) layer of snow. Definitely a winter tire was required. Was surprised to find out that studded tires are easy to get from my LBS and wasn’t too expensive ($59 each from the shop) from innova which is available at a number of shops online as well for a bit less.

Next up lighting. It gets dark pretty early here, around 4pm throughout December, so good lights both front and rear are worthwhile (and reflective clothing too!) For the front installed a Planet Bike two watt blaze light and in the rear a simple red LED flicker. Hopefully this will be enough. I am mostly off the main roads so should be fine.

Finally it’s messy out there, wanted a simple rear fender that I could detract quickly if needed. This one from Pollisport does the job nicely.

Naturally a lot also has to go into all the clothing and in that department I have long insulated pants, winter jacket and windbreaker, boralis mitts and other bits to ward off the chills of winter.

Today it was -10 and snowy and my first real winter riding day. In the end not too bad. Commute is only 20 minutes so even frostbite isn’t too bad on the few bits of exposed flesh. My hands got a bit cold and certainly parts of my face. A balakava will be a near future acquistion. Traffic was even slower today due to snow and was giddy as I passed them by!! Of course they were warmer but I think I was having more fun. Not sure what my temperature cut off will be (and taking into account the wind) but at least its doable. We’ll see how it works through the long winter!

Still to come: Santa is said to be bringing me a MTB specific rack and pannier. Can’t wait! I’ve been good this year so hope I get it.

Categories: bicycling Tags: ,

There will be Blood or the 2010 Reading Triathlon

December 3, 2010 1 comment

When I first starting going abroad in 1998 as part of my current job (I have been in the same high-tech job and company for 14 years! Isn’t that not supposed to happen?) I simply wanted to take it all in. A decade or so on it has just become another way to keep me from my family.

This year I decided, as part of the overall 100tofit program, that if I was going to be stuck somewhere, might as well get involved in something. First is was finding public pools to get longer swims in but in September of 2010 I realized that I was going to be stuck in London for the weekend. This happens a lot. London is a natural hub for travelling in Europe. I can base myself there and when I need to visit a customer anywhere in Europe I jump on a Ryanair or EasyJet flight and off I go, often to return the same day.

So there I was, with a whole weekend ahead of me. I started to browse the web for Tri events. As usual there are lots of resources to find such events and soon I discovered that there was a Triathlon in Reading, which is just up the road from our European HQ in Maidenhead. This was one short week since I did the Ottawa Tri so was starting to feel like a pro!

So payment was made and I was entered into the Sprint Tri.

1st, where to get the bike? That was resolved via triuk.com, and I rented a Giant Defy for the weekend. Bit of a low end Tri bike but you know what it worked great for the short 23k bike leg.

Then I got the Email..WETSUITS MANDATORY. I am a good swimmer, it’s probably my strongest leg, and I don’t like wetsuits, or at least haven’t come to the point where I felt I needed one. Why they were mandatory I am not sure. If its due to the coldness of the water, the local lake where I swim here in Canada is rarely over 15c, so the 19c of the Reading “lake” was tropical.

So I contacted triuk.com again and yes, a wetsuit could be rented out. So when I picked up my bike I got a wetsuit as well.

So how do you put one of these things on? Youtube helped as per the video below, and I spent a lovely Saturday evening grunting and wheezing in the hotel room to make sure I didn’t look like a dork come Sunday morning. It only dawned on my after my escapades that any guests in adjoining rooms probably wondered what I was doing!

 

The Race

The Reading Tri is a rebirth I guess of an original tri of many years back. They call it the “Mother of all Triathlons..” for some reason, maybe because it was popular in the past? It is a bit unique (to me anyways) in that the swim is in an artificial lake. The sign in was the usual affair. I had neglected to bring my number belt and none could be bought so I knew I was in for a bit of a challenge at the transition. Start times had been forwarded before the start. Another well run event!  Time up so off to the quick pre chat and get set for the race.

Swim

As stated this was in an artificial “lake” and I guess part of a swim club or other water related activities.  With the instructions over we were instructed to either wade or jump into the water. I wanted to get in and warm up a bit so I walked to the end of the wharf and jumped in.

FRACK!!!

Something sliced through my toe like a knife thru butter. I managed to get my foot out of the water and took a look. A very deep, very sharp cut was visible across the knuckle of the toe and blood was streaming out. Had very little time to think about this before the start horn and off we went.

Here is a video of the start I was involved in.  As you can see it’s a natural setting, a narrow lake but was great to swim in.

 

The swim went well, and my foot didn’t bug me. The wetsuit worked it’s magic and soon it was time to get out. In the end my time was 15 minutes flat (plus a second!) which was fairly competitive (37th out of 158 competitors). 

readingswim1

Then it all started to fall apart a bit.  First I dropped my goggles and didn’t realize until I was about 1/2 way to the Transition, started to go back, then decided against it then continued on. Then had to get my wetsuit off and was feeling quite woozy. Soon after getting the wetsuit off noticed my foot. There was blood everywhere. I paused and then asked in a loud voice if anybody had a bandaid (which I now doubt would have really helped). A volunteer came up immediately and mentioned I needed to do to the ambulance. Ok, this wasn’t going to work. Time to grin and bear it so put on my socks, shoes etc and off I go. In the end the entire transition was an agonizing 3 minutes 40 sec, which is towards the bottom of the pile. Anyways to the bike mount area and off we go.

Bike

The bike portion was for me great. Winded it’s way through some typical English towns. We weren’t in Ontario anymore!  Also the military was out to keep eye on us and the traffic away. Some of the roads seemed fairly major. The route was ever changing, up and down a bit, over highways, through towns. There was one long downhill section which was a hoot. The Giant was fine. I didn’t have a bike computer and didn’t seem to suffer any for it. Despite my blood loss felt good and really enjoyed this ride!  Seem to pass a lot more folks than those who passed me.

readingbike1

I noticed right away that my foot was bleeding badly.  These were some new shoes so that pissed me off a bit, but the setting and the race propelled me forward!

Soon enough (45 minutes and 26 seconds to be exact) I was back at the transition, dismounted and started changing again. When I removed my shoe I was amazed by the amount of blood!  And I had new running shoes too. Damn. Still had to race on. My transition time was ok at 1:40.

Run

Don’t have a picture of the run but again this one was unique. In was through the woods around the swimming venue. It had been wet recently (really, rain in England?) and some straw had been put down to keep the mud dry but still it was very much a cross county run.  Which was cool!  Had to do two laps then sprint finish. Running continues to be my weak spot. Next year’s New Year’s resolution #1 is “Run Doug Run”. I ended up with a 27:47. Yikes. When all said and done my overall was 1:33:33 which was good for 77th overall. Not bad and throughout the year I have gone up the leader board so to speak.

Aftermath

My event complete I had to get my foot looked at. The ambulance was like a war zone, I certainly wasn’t the only person who got sliced up. People had cuts on their feet, hands, even their face. The attendants I think were loving it. So much blood, actual triage (“Those who are only oozing out over here, if you are gushing come in!”) When I was getting bandaged up my attendant gleefully said it was the best event he had ever been at. Nothing serious but lots to do.

In the follow-up email from the event the organizers apologized for the fresh water mussels that were the culprits. I wasn’t too pissed at them, adversity can be fun and my scar seems to be fading.  So there it was, last tri and of the year and now on to 2011!! Not sure if travel will bring me to the UK next year over the same weekend but if it does I am doing this again

I wonder, can I now say I am an International tri athlete?

Categories: bicycling, Medical, Triathlon