Monday, July 27, 2009

24 Hours of Fun

I saw my first 24 Hours of Adrenaline race last year on my way back from my Arctic/Pacific expedition. Erik's firm had entered a corporate team and the two of us knew a number of other people out there.

It rained almost the entire time and I was left wondering why people would subject themselves to such an ordeal. Mountain biking at night? In the rain? In the cold?

Not to be discouraged by the elements, Erik's firm (FirstEnergy) signed up a corporate team again this year. Since it was my second last weekend here, I elected to spend the weekend in Canmore hanging out with him. Unfortunately, work prevented Erik from making it out in the end. But, by that time I was committed to be there and it turned out to be a pretty fine way to spend a weekend.

Each team is required to have someone 'volunteer' for a few hours of the race (is it still volunteering if it's involuntary?). I agreed to put in a shift for FirstEnergy and for one of the Deadgoat teams. As a tribute to the riders that have to struggle through a restless 24 hours, I put in my 'volunteer' shifts during the dark hours (11:30am-8:00am). Turned out to be a good choice - there's a lot of action at night.

The FirstEnergy crew put in a solid performance among the corporate competition. Looked like they had some fun doing it too. Deadgoats rocked the race in several categories. Gerry, Trish, Gary, Steve and Geoff took first in the mixed field, while Tim, Pat, Gabor, Tom and Ed took second in the 200+ category...on singlespeeds! Josh, Lyndon, Linda, John and Steve flew the Deadgoat colours on their respective teams. Kelly Matheson represented us well in the solo female category. Carena Dean took 3rd in the solo female. And then there was Dallas, who took 5th in the men's solo. Shameless name dropping, I know. I'm just so proud to know all of these awesome cyclists!

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Have Fun in Your Spare Time: Lesson 2

Spend some quality time at the zoo with your sister and nephews.I'm a bit embarrassed to say that my two and a half year old nephew knew the names of more animals than me. But that didn't stop me from having a good time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to Have Fun in Your Spare Time: Lesson 1

Since I am no longer in a position to continue the 'How to Have a Successful Career in Your Spare Time' series, I've decided to start up a new series. The first feature: Search Engines!

Search engines have changed the way I learn about and enjoy the world. And, they are a wonderful way to have fun in your spare time. What could be better than having at your fingertips a resource to answer just about anything my heart desires?

Sidenote: my favorite place to execute a search is when I desperately need to settle an argument with friends.

But, aside from their obvious utility, search engines offer a handy window into the minds of the rest of the world. Take, for example, the following search:
I'm just going to let you think about that one for a moment.

How about this one:


And have you checked out Wolfram Alpha yet? If not, watch the demo. You might want to call in sick for work right now, cause you're going to be distracted for a while.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three Weeks Later

It's been three weeks since I finished work and I haven't yet woken up desperately searching for purpose. It might have something to do with my days being filled with french classes my evenings being filled with moving out of the house. Next week will be marked by a break in both of those activities, so we'll see if I discover boredom then. To be honest, though, I think I'll always be busy. I was born busy.

I had hoped to put my alarm clock up for sale on ebay by now, but, alas, it is still getting a lot of action. That will probably continue to be the case for the forseeable future. My blowdryer and flat iron, on the other hand, are enjoying retirement.

I'm adjusting to a life without an income. Making my own coffee and lunches. Washing my tupperware and thermos at night. I think this is what normal people do.

I walk to my french classes away from the flow of the downtown pedestrian traffic. The abundance of furrowed brows heading to the core makes me conscious of the absence of stress from my life, and I know that I'm moving in the right direction.

I eat my lunch outside. And slowly. Even when it rains.

I've made a game out of seeing how long the $20 bill in my pocket can last. I'm learning which little indulgences that I can go without and I'm rediscovering the joy of free stuff. I'm going for coffee with someone on friday and I'm looking forward to the 'free' coffee. I might even order a mocha!

I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family before I go. Moving in with my parents next week should help facilitate this. My schedule, so far, has not. The challenge, then, will be to find ways to hang out with Erik. Oh, these days are too short.

Less than three weeks now until I leave for Singapore.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

There's no I in Quit

My primary purpose in signing up for BCBR was to legitimize spending a week in BC hanging out and biking with Erik and our friends. But, as it turns out, I got a lot out of it.

As far as performance expectations went, its safe to say that I had none. Everyone has a desire to do well but, as I discovered, there is an enormous difference between a desire and an expectation. By some stroke of chance, I ended up in a position to podium in a major race, without having to do the training/preparation/sacrifice that would normally be required to arrive there. These opportunities don't come along often. Suddenly, how I placed really mattered to me.

On Day 1, there was only a 2 minute gap between retaining that podium spot and disappearing into irrelevance. The thought that I would have to race six more stages with such a thin margin was daunting. What was the girl behind me good at? What were her weaknesses? Which one of us would tomorrows stage favour? With every day that passed, my invested effort compounded and there was more on the line. .

Although I was able to build the gap over the first few days, I could never shake the feeling that I might lose that spot on the podium. When I was feeling horrible on Day 6 (in its entirety), it was not an option to dial it down. No time to waste. It took the fun out of a stage that should have been a blast. But I wasn't going to give this up without a fight. There's no I in quit.

In the end, I was able to hold my spot on the podium. But, I came away with something better than a trophy. You see, I have a number of friends that regularly do well at races. I've always had immense respect for their physical capabilities, and I naively thought that I had an appreciation for what they do because I participate in races. What I couldn't appreciate is what it feels like when it really matters how you finish (Mical, I don't know how you do it. You are one strong woman). Thanks to BC Bike Race, I have a little sense for that now.

(As for the title of this post, Pat Doyle came up with this quote at the start of one of the stages. It still makes me laugh out loud and this seemed like a decent opportunity to use it).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

BCBR 09 - Day 7

Today's stage took us around Whistler Creekside. We started hot, with a big climb / hike a bike to a run called See Colours and Puke. I struggled a bit with the first few bits, but loved that trail. Not sure what the other trails were, but it was all great riding today. I was happy to find myself rolling comfortably over terrain that I previously would have walked. This has been mountain biking boot camp, and I was so jazzed up to see how far I have come in just a week.

Gerry was riding solo on account of Tom's unfortunate crash on day 6, which left him in a sling. Gerry stayed back to ride with me for the day to offer moral support. What a difference that made. What a massive contrast from yesterday.

In the end, I was third on the day but kept my second place standing overall. Yay! Pat and Geoff also held on to their second place standing, as did Mical and Jeff. Shawn and Craig finished strong in 7th and Erik and Devin in 12th. Nic and Deanne finished strong. A lot to celebrate.

Since the race organizers cut out the final banquet/party, we took matters into our own hands. When I saw Tom swingin his sling around his head, I could tell that it was going to be a good night. No evening is complete without a dance off, some Irish car bombs, some cage dancing, a Chris Sheppard impression, a ride on a luggage trolley, an early morning wake up (harassment) of people that packed it in too early, a close call with an exposed fan, and a run in with the police. Off the hook.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

BCBR 09 - Day 6

Wow. Tough day. Squamish to Squamish. Probably the nicest trails so far. It was a hot one though, with some hot and exposed climbing. And my body was not cooperating. I just felt crappy from almost the very start. Adding to the misery was the fact that I was focused on ensuring that the girl positioned behind me didn't gain too much time on me.

The girl passed me before we hit the first feed station. Then we leapfrogged for the next 15km until she finally stormed passed on a descent, not to be seen again by me.

After I finished, we headed to Whistler, where tomorrow's stage will start. The rest of the racers will stay in Squamish tonight and come to Whistler in the morning. So, we missed seeing results.

I'm glad to put this day behind me.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

BCBR 09 - Day 5

Today's stage took us from Sechelt to the Langdale ferry terminal. Trails were great. Fast. Smooth. A lot of beautiful shady forest. Variable technically, with a common thread being bridges, some of which I surprised myself by riding. I tried to take it a bit easier on myself today, riding hard, but trying to avoid burying myself. Still, my pace didn't seem to change significantly - I was still able to see Tom and Gerry a couple of times (as well as a number of familiar faces, including Nic and Deanne).

I was feeling pretty good. Enjoying the scenery. I hit the final descent - Highway 102 (which Erik had raved about) and was trying a few new things on my bike. And then, the 4th place girl blasted past me. She was descending so fast that I didn't have a hope of catching her - though I dialed it up as much as I could. It's stupid to be bothered by this, because I came out here just to hang out with friends and maybe ride a bit. But it took a dent out of what was otherwise probably the best day yet.

So, the girl behind me beat me by 7 minutes. Not enough to overtake me, but enough to make me worried that she could overtake me in the next two days. Anything can happen. In fact, the girl that was in second place broke her frame today and was not able to finish. That means that I'm in second place no. No pressure.

I don't know the full details on everyone's results, but I do know that Erik and Devin are still rockin in 12th. Seems like they get some sort of challenge every day, but still end up in 12th. Craig and Shawn were in good spirits, suggesting they enjoyed the day. Judging by the smile on Roy's face, he and Steve had a good one too. Mical and Jeff are hanging on to 2nd overall, as are Pat and Geoff.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BCBR 09 - Day 4

Our 400am wake up was actually 430am. My bad. Two bus rides and two ferries later, we were at our starting point of Earl's Cove. With the passage of time, it felt like another day already and I had practically forgotten about the early rise. Not really, actually.

Nice fast start. Saw Steve and Roy and Tom and Gerry as they blasted past me. By the time that we got to the tighter singletrack, the riders were spread out enough that it didn't feel crowded, like it did during the first three stages. I think that it was because this stage had a fair bit of doubletrack. Which I love. Is that blasphemous?

Legs were tired, but I was feeling pretty good. Especially when I got to the first food station and Tom and Gerry were there - I knew that something was going well. When I saw them again at the second food station, I could hardly believe my eyes. Apparently, I was rockin this stage.

My odometer busted somewhere on the first stage, so I had no way to measure my progress except by time. Based on the estimated arrival time for the lead group, I figured I had about 60 or 90 minutes remaining from the last feed station. I laid the hammer down for what I thought was the home stretch. By now, energy food makes me ill, so, I foolishly thought that I might stretch my reserve to the finish, rather than unnecessarily force feed. Turned out to be almost 150 minutes for me to get from the last feed station to the finish. My body was forced to metabolize my happiness. I should know better than this by now.

Erik got me a yummy sandwich and a smoothie for a pre-dinner snack, which saved my evening. This stuff is so much more enjoyable in the company of friends.

Erik and Devin had a very good day, despite two flats. 11th for the day, 12th on a cumulative basis. Sounds like they are dialing it up for the back nine. Pat and Geoff further solidified their 2nd place standing. Craig and Shawn laid down the law and assumed 7th. Sounds like Mical and Jeff had a hard day, but their grip on 2nd place was strong enough to keep them there on a cumulative basis. Tom and Ger hangin tough in 4th. And I am still in 3rd.

We will spend the night here in Sechelt and then start here tomorrow. Heading south toward Squamish.
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