A long road back…

Written by Andrew Ryan, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team Member

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to participate in the Opus Spring Epic 8 hour relay race as a member of a four man team. I say fortunate as unlike the other members of the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Mountain Bike Race Team, I ride with a disability. Being able to ride in the 8 Hour relay is kind of a big deal as I have not been able to participate in cycling events for half a decade.

A little background regarding to my situation. Five years ago I was a very promising member of the LapDogs race team and was leading my category in the Ontario Cup Mountain Bike series when things took a sudden turn. I was commuting home from work by bike when I was struck by a driver who ran a red light, dragging and then throwing me headfirst into a curb with considerable force. My bike racing career ended right there.

I sustained a traumatic brain injury, nerve damage to my right side as well as plenty bruises and road rash. My helmet was severely damaged and my bike was destroyed. At the time I was unaware of just how badly I had been injured and a few weeks later attempted to return to work and riding. I very quickly realized all was not well and things were not improving both physically and cognitively as I had been told they should. I was told to stop exercise and work and to just focus on my rehabilitation program as the severe fatigue, inability to concentrate, speech and memory difficulties among other issues I was experiencing was a result of a serious brain injury. It was at this time I started a cognitive and physical rehabilitation program through the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and other medical practitioners that still continues to this day.

Unable to ride and having invested so much time and energy into the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team I still wanted to give back and stay a part of the team so I caught a ride to some of the remaining events and took pictures of the racers. In the state I was in that alone was very demanding and exhausting, it took me days to recover from such outings and I remembered little of what I did those days. Being forced to be sedentary I got out of shape and put on a great deal weight within a year despite watching what I ate. I was not a fan of that and once I got medical clearance to exercise I set a goal to get back into “race shape”. That took a while.

Fast forward four years to Fall 2013 and I set a goal to return to the Duke’s/ Lapdogs Race Team in whatever capacity my health would allow. I made some changes to my bikes to accommodate some of my physical limitations and discomfort issues. A Pro bike fit at Duke’s Cycle is a must for anyone experiencing discomfort on the bike. I also participated in the LapDogs Boot Camp (aka: the spin class from hell) to get as strong as possible for what lay ahead and dropped forty pounds along the way. It was here that race team member Dan Bandurka suggested that I join him and register a team for the Spring 8 hour race. I was cautious and made Dan aware of my limitations, he was very understanding and let me know that all that was expected of me was to have fun. We registered a four man team for the event with myself, Dan, Adam Zietara, and David Biancolin.

Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs team members Lenka Branichova and Alex Sanchez gave me a ride to the event as I am only able to drive short distances. We ended up getting stuck on highway 400 for an hour due to an accident ahead of us, this almost caused us not to arrive in time for the start of the relay. Luckily Adam took a different route to Mansfield, picked up our team’s registration and took care of the first two laps allowing myself, Dan and David to arrive and get ready. I was the last rider on our rotation allowing the field to be spread out so that I would not have to deal with any crowded trails or aggressive riders.

I ran into a great number of racers from other teams who had not seen me in years but know of my situation, all were very glad to see me and I think I got more hugs than another day on record. The cycling community in Ontario is a great thing filled with many thoughtful people.

I actually have very little memory of my first lap, I know I rode very carefully and was courteous to everyone I came across as that is what I do. My primary concern was to be safe, and upon completing the lap with safety in mind I learned that we were in first place. And I was not as slow as I had anticipated, in fact I was not too far off of my teammate’s times. I completed a second lap and then needed a nap back at the team tent. Due to fatigue issues I rely on medication and nap nearly every afternoon and had been making sure to get extra sleep for several days prior to the relay. The relay format works well for me as I am able to stop and rest as needed.

By the time I got up to do my third lap we were firmly entrenched in first place with a considerable lead over everyone else in our category. Again and Adam repeated it that I “just take it easy and be safe out there”, and that is what I did and cheered on the solo riders as I made my way around the course. At the end of the day we had time for one final lap and I finished it just a few minutes before the 6:30pm deadline allowing us to complete an impressive 16 laps in 08:26:27.

My first mountain bike race back after years of rehabilitation ended with a win for our team. I am very thankful to have ridden with my teammates both for their understanding and for their speed of course. At the awards ceremony afterwards Sean Ruppel of Chico Racing gave me a big hug and told me how “damn happy” he was to see me back and winning again, that meant a lot. I am looking forward to future events and hopefully I get a chance to race with the same guys again as we made a solid team.

I then spent the next three days in a “sleep-coma” recovering but it was certainly worth all of the effort. I want to make sure I get a big thank you out to my amazing and supportive wife Jennifer and our kids, everyone on the LapDogs Cycling Club, at Duke’s Cycle, and of course Toronto Rehab for all of their support and help over years as I could not do this alone.

It is good to be back racing with the pack even if a little slower than before.

A.F. Ryan

A Cycling Coach? …For Me? …Really?

Written by Barry Cox, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team Member

My third season on the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs mountain bike race team is starting to kick into high gear.  I’ve mountain biked for over a decade and for much of that time have been seen near the back of the field in weekly race series and the occasional citizen event.  However, as anyone who has read my previous pieces on this blog may recall, I took being invited to join the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs in 2012 as an opportunity to start a structured training plan and improve my fitness generally.

The difficulty was, however, that I had never trained for a sport before and frankly had no idea what I was doing.   I read a couple of books on training, put together a half-assed workout schedule and went at it.   And it was pretty much an unmitigated disaster.   I didn’t know about the importance of taking it easy every few weeks, did too much tempo riding, and not enough high-end workouts.   As a result, my fitness peaked in mid-April and began a low, slow downhill slide for the rest of the season.   I remember speaking to one of my more experienced team-mates, a veteran Expert-level rider about this.   His response really surprised me.  “Barry”, head said, “you seem really motivated to train hard and do well.  You should seriously consider working with a coach”.

My reaction:   A coach?  For me?   Really?

I had always considered coaches as a resource for pro and elite-level riders, not slightly flabby 40-something weekend warriors like me.  It was just something I had not considered.   But it got me thinking.   Mountain biking (and cycling in general) is a huge part of who I am.  It is how I stay in some semblance of shape, how I de-stress, and basically the activity that a large part. Of my social life revolves around.  And now I am showing up to O’CUPs with the logo of one of the city’s most established bicycle stores on my jersey.   Don’t I owe it to myself, the team and my sponsors to be the best rider I can be?

I asked around a bit and learned that many of my team mates and competitors were working with coaches too.   I spoke to a number of them and found out what they liked, and didn’t like, and how it had helped them.  I made a short list of front runners, picked up the phone, and made some calls.   About a week later, I became a client of Smart Athlete, run by pro-level mountainbiker, certified kinesiologist and all around good guy Peter Glassford.   That was 18 months ago and I have not looked back.

The first thing Peter and I did was went on a ride.   No one had ever told me how to ride a mountain bike – I just figured it out on my own.  In an hour, Peter was able to identify three or four things I could tweak in my riding style to get me going faster in the Single-track without improving my fitness.   Win!

The way things work is that I give Peter a list of the races I want to do, I prioritize them in how important they are to me, and I log onto a website which gives me a calendar of workouts.   I do the workouts (it’s not hard for me – I commute on my bike from Oakville to Toronto 2-3 days a week so I do my intervals or whatever has been cooked up for me on the way to or from work).     I upload the data from my Garmin, along with any feedback I have from the workout, to the website and Peter can see whether I am doing things right, and can make suggestions.  I have a busy week at work and can’t fit all my workouts in?   No problem.  I tell Peter and the schedule gets adjusted….it’s not like I’m training for the Olympics here, folks.   Every few weeks, I do a 20 minute threshold test on my trainer and upload the data to the website, and we can see whether I am improving and adjust my workout schedule accordingly.   If I have questions, I email and generally have a response within the hour.  Data from races also gets uploaded, studied by “Coach Peter” ( as my 7 year old son calls him) and feedback/encouragement is provided.

And you know what?  It works.   As I am paying good money (more on that in a second) for a coach, I obviously follow his workouts or suggestions.   And Peter is aware of the constraints on my schedule (I am a litigation lawyer and occasionally, just occasionally, work gets in the way of riding).   My fitness has improved by leaps and bounds, I am 20lb lighter, I can ride my bike faster, and have even landed on the podium at a couple of smaller races.

But it’s not just my fitness that has improved.   Peter has also provided me, like all his clients, with a host of information on nutrition, bike skills, mental preparation and race strategy.   To be honest, I have not adopted absolutely all of his suggestions (no, Peter, I am not giving up beer any time soon) but have incorporated a good many into my lifestyle (ie a really tasty craft beer after a tough race rather than several mediocre beers before) and have found that I sleep better, have more energy, am leaner and most importantly, feel physically better and stronger than I ever have in my life.

And the cost of this?   Well, about what a membership at a decent health club would cost.   And I get so much more benefit out of this.   Having a cycling coach is definitely a luxury and I am fortunate enough that it is one within my means.   But it has benefited me in so many ways… both on the trail and off it.

If you want to see what I am talking about, on May 8 at 7:30pm, Duke’s Cycle is hosting a session at the store on endurance training for busy people, which Coach Peter is presenting.   If you are a racer, considering becoming one, or just want to improve your fitness, I strongly recommend you check it out.

For more information about Peter Glassford, please check out his website: www.trainwithpeter.com

A LapDog does 24hour Event in the Old Pueblo

Written by Miro Zgavc, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDog Race Team Member.

2014 is a strange brew for me. I’m not necessarily you’re typical rider. In fact you could make an argument that a guy my size shouldn’t be on a bike at all, let alone be an endurance rider. Yet I found myself on a race team at the invitation of Barry Cox and other Lapdogs after riding 2013 flying the Orange and Black. You probably passed me while I was chugging along to my own beat somewhere in 8h solo single speed bliss… or hell, depends on the angle of the grade you caught me on.

One thing is for certain. I’ve always wanted to ride in Arizona. I’ve always enjoyed the heat, and something about riding in the desert appealed to so much. With my wanderlust in full force it lead to a Google search for “24h race Arizona” turning up Old Pueblo and the video’s that everyone seems to enjoy making about it.

But before that happened, I used to have a Kona Big Unit. Truth be told, I liked my Big Unit but never really did like the way it rode, so I bought myself a new frame and hung my Big Unit on a wall mount and posted the frame up on Pinkbike for what was possibly, 7-8 months till I got a random email asking me about the frame. To shorten the story, I ended up meeting a group of people in Las Vegas after a somewhat comedic attempt to ship the frame for about 2 months. It started with a Facebook invite, followed by Strava stalking, followed by pictures in my feed about riding in the desert. I ended up sending a message to my new Pinkbike buddy as a joke. “Hey you interested in doing Old Pueblo?” which turned into “If you put together a 4 man single speed team, I’ll be your 4th”. I believe it only took him 2 days to hold up that end of the agreement. I then went and spent all of my brownie points pleading my case to my incredibly understanding, beautiful, intelligent, and loving wife about going to a race on Valentine’s day weekend, who then allowed me to purchase the ticket and head to Las Vegas for the race.

… and off I went.

After a warm up session just outside Vegas and some amazing burritos, the 4 of us and our 1 support crew packed up into a 15 person van along with bikes, gear, food, and set off for Arizona to become a part of 24h Town.

We arrived late Thursday night. Arrived is a loose term but to sum it up, we slept out in the middle of nowhere in the Arizona desert because we got lost on our way to Willow Spring Ranch. Once the sun came up we corrected and arrived in an already packed 24h Town.

We unpacked and toured around for a bit, then put together the bikes for a relaxed recon lap to see what we were up against for the next 24h. Also being on a Singlespeed and only knowing what I saw in videos I needed a gear check to make sure I was in something I could ride for the duration of the event. I went with 34:18, seemed to work well. It also worked well because I didn’t have to change anything out from the gearing I run up here.

After a beer recon lap that included a grave site, an abandoned ranch, A-10s flying low altitude, cacti that looked like they had been spawned from hell, and warnings that because it’s been so warm rattle snakes would be out on the course… I knew this was going to be an interesting 24h regardless of how well I rode.

A little about the course:

The start of the course has what’s affectionately known as “The Bitches”. They’re a series of 5 gully dip and climbs that are not aerobically hard, and you get a huge amount of speed heading into them. What makes them difficult is the complete randomness of the ruts, wash berms, and soft gravel that greet you when you get to speed on the uphill. It is treacherous at speed, and at around 2am it claimed one poor soul that had to be airlifted out by helicopter.

Each one has its own distinctive signature with the 4th and 5th being the worst. On both of these there is a berm that you will cross. At speed this will launch you into the air and put you nose first into the hillside, at night they’re marked off with flashing lights to allow people to avoid them. There is also a ride around this section which I did take twice. It adds about 5 minutes to your overall time, but is quite possibly one of the most fun and flowing single track sections that I’ve ridden.

The rest of the course is a mix of small climbs with absolutely stunning views, amazing single track. Lots of rocks and sudden 1m elevation changes will keep you busy during your time out on the course. The final grind out of the course is a 5km steady uphill through single track. Look for the graveyard to let you know you’re almost done.

The final section gives you an option of the rock drop, or the ride around. The rock drop is the fastest option. The ride around is almost 5 minutes of extra time tacked onto your lap for no reason.

The rock drop on the other hand looks fairly simple from the ground or anywhere you look at it, till you’re on a bike at the top. Its deceptively steep and fast, but anyone should be able to ride it. If you’ve ridden at Joyride, this is a piece of cake and a quick sprint to the finish. After the overnight drive and beer lap in the afternoon we recovered on steak tip sandwiches and unlimited Skratch refills to hydrate. The majority of us crashed out under the clear skies and full moon in the middle of the Arizona desert as the sun went down at around 5pm leaving us plenty of night to sleep.

Morning comes, bikes prepped, gear on… 400m LeMans start to the race along with 500 riders. Team captain takes first lap, I decide 3rd is where I want to ride.

Let’s Do This:

Lap 1 felt really good. Bike was in great condition, and I was keeping up with a pack of geared riders on the flats, and I had a fairly strong showing through the hills and single track leaving the majority of them behind. This was until my front tire washed out before a small jump throwing my seat into my arse. I rode the last 10k out of my seat refusing to let my problem have any mental effect on me. On my way through 24h town someone tossed me a beer and congratulated me on finishing the lap seatless, though without a seat I didn’t attempt the rockwall drop on this lap, last thing I needed was an incident there in front of a huge crowd that gathers there practically for the entire event. Seatless and already spending quite a bit on a new helmet light, I was stuck between buying a seat, or borrowing one. I remembered that Cannondale was here so I donned my LapDogs chapeau and made my way to the tent to ask for help. Cannondale came through for me by offering me a new seat to borrow along with some swag. Their mechanic (Demo Bike Guy and all-round Super Hero, Brian Davies – guy in the yellow t-shirt, pictured above) offered to fit me on the seat and install it for me while I rested, but I figured with the warm welcome I didn’t want to take more then I felt obligated for, and thanked them for saving my night.

Lap 2 saw the ride around open up. With my lights on, I left camp and started out on my lap taking the ride around. With the vast horizon being so low you can see lights everywhere. Even though you may be riding alone, you always feel you’re on one big group ride. There’s always a rider that you catch, or that catches you at night, but I never ran into anyone who wasn’t a courteous passer, or allowed for a safe and quick pass on the left.

Lap 3 started having me prep a bit for the longer climb so instead of adding 5 minutes on the go around I decided before hand to do the Bitches at night and use the flat after to recover. The bitches at this point were heavily marked off with lights and tape to avoid the more brutal areas so I was able to get through them without issue and the recovery proved to be a smart choice. The rest of the lap I had someone who just pace lined behind me. Not sure who it was, but once we got to the grind out, I heard a few shifts and then never heard from him again, I was glad he was there, the added light made my lap much easier it sucked to lose my extra light source!

It was my sleep between the 3rd and 4th lap that the helicopter showed up for the air lift out of the race. Unfortunate for the rider, I hope they were okay. The noise from the copter along with the rest of 24h town never sleeping lead to me getting minimal rest but at least I was off my feet.

Lap 4 my legs felt tired and sluggish as I rolled out of the tent. I’m not sure what happened but my 4th lap ended up being my fastest. I rode smooth, quiet, and just grit my teeth through the end climb and sailed down the rock drop at the end to the timing tent and cold beer.

Overall our team placed in 99th out of 500+ teams and 8th out of 15 teams in 4 man Single Speed division with a best held rank of 6th place at 3am. We packed up, and drove back to Vegas stopping at all the terrible places to eat (excellent recovery food providers) we could fine. Along the way home I realized that this has to be on my list of races to do every year. In my mind, it’s worth it to have a race like this under your belt before the spring season shows up.

Simply put, it reminds you to have fun, and ultimately that’s what I’m here for and why I took up cycling as a sport.

Sometimes amid the hours on the trainer, HIIT sessions, and core workouts, I remind myself, you’re doing this so you can have more fun in the summer. It’s nice to have a small bit of summer in the middle of winter just to remind you that the fun is coming and enough of a push to hang on through those Zone 5 nights, and Zone 2 days till it gets here.

On Winter Riding and The Frostbike

Written by Barry Cox, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Team Racer.

Photo: Philip de Vries 

Since December I have been going slowly stir crazy.

Let me explain: 2013 was my second year on the Dukes/Cannondale Race Team, and after some disappointing results in my first season of serious racing, I felt the need to up my game. And up it I did! I lost 25lb, started working with a coach, got an awesome Cannondale F29 hardtail (thanks Dukes and Cannondale), did interval workouts and generally got serious about training and racing. It paid off – despite a small hiccup at the Nationals and a broken hand which kept me off the bike for a couple of weeks in the fall, I found myself steadily improving (hey, from DFL to mid-pack still counts as improvement) and even stepped onto a podium for the first time ( during the actual awards ceremony, that is).

So after taking November to ride for fun, it was time to get back to training again. Unfortunately, this coincided with the largest December snowfall since my arrival in Toronto back in 1985. Not to be deterred, I put my cyclocross bike on the trainer and put in a lot of time pedalling nowhere fast while staring at my basement wall. Hence my going stir crazy.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel – the Frostbike Winter Mountainbike Race. This is an event put on by the Shorthills Cycling Club over Family Day Weekend. The race is run in Port Colborne on a network of trails known as the Hood, which is basically where the folks digging out the Welland Canal put all the dirt they excavated from the canal. It’s twisty, roots, rocky and technical. And when it’s covered under a foot of snow…well, it’s a hoot to ride! I have participated in the Frostbike for the past 3 years, and SHCC runs the event like clockwork.

The race itself is run in a modified time trial format, with registration capped at 100 riders. Riders go off in waves of six, and have the opportunity to ride 2 laps of an approx 10km course. Your fastest lap counts towards your result. So basically, it is like two races at once – the race against the five buddies in your start wave, for bragging rights, and the actual time trial race itself. For me, there was a third race, as Adrian, a friend of mine who has spent the past 5 years mocking me for riding a singlespeed, got his hands on a singlespeed of his own (ok, I loaned him my spare bike) so he could put his money where his mouth is and compete against me head to head.

So many of you reading this may think that doing a mountainbike race in the middle of February is, well, insane. To those people I say that there are 100 riders who showed up in Port Colborne on February 16 who would beg to differ. Sure, it’s cold outside, but you can dress for cycling in the winter just like you can for running, cross country skiing or snowshoeing. All you really need is a jacket, tights, a toque that will fit under your helmet and some shoe covers and toe warmers. And if you don’t have that, our friends at Dukes can hook you up. And yes, the trail is covered in snow, but it is packed down and if you drop your tire pressure a little, it’s pretty much like riding on damp trails in the summertime. You have to pay a little more attention to your lines while cornering, and pedal a little more smoothly through the loose snow, but these are skills that will stand you in good stead all year round. And besides, if you do take a spill, you generally end up landing in soft, puffy snow, which, as every 8 year old kid knows, is a heck of a lot of fun. So for those of you also going stir crazy in your basement pain cave, bundle up, go find a rail trail or conservation area with mixed use trails, and ride!

So about my race…the first lap was great. I felt really strong, didn’t make any big mistakes and mostly stayed on the bike. The second lap was a bit of a gong show as the trails were pretty chewed up, but the fact the sun was shining and I was on my bike in the middle of winter made up for it. Although I finished in the bottom half of the singlespeed open category (9th of 13) I was only about 4 minutes off the podium in a super-competitive field, and would have been top 5 in my age category. I’ll take that as a good start to my season.

The only downer is that Adrian beat me after sneaking past me while I was stopped to put more air in a back tire that inexplicably decided not to seal.

But there’s always next year. I know I’ll be back….

 

Continental Tires, keeping the rubber side down

Written by Dan Bandurka, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Racer

What a year! 2013 was only my second year on a mountain bike after a decade long hiatus, and did it feel great! I wanted to make the most of it, so I made a point of scheduling rides on trails I hadn’t visited before, of working to improve my fitness, and of making a few key component upgrades to my bike while staying within a limited budget.

One of the component upgrades I made this year was by necessity – tires. Like so many aspects of bikes today, tires have improved dramatically by incorporating a range of technologies that weren’t readily available a decade or two ago. For example, the ability to run your tires without tubes and rubber compounds designed specifically for the terrain you ride. Having now put about 1000kms on these tires, I thought it would be helpful sharing my experience.

Most of my riding is done on cross-country trails in Southern Ontario, which for those unfamiliar readers, is generally composed of hard-packed soils, exposed tree roots and small rocks. Accordingly, I purchased a set of Continental Race Kings 29 x 2.2 Protection. These tires feature a puncture protection layer in the casing both to prevent pinch flats if you run tubes and to make the tire tubeless ready. They also feature Continental’s BlackChili Compound rubber, which improves grip while reducing rolling resistance. The tread pattern is a directional, tightly arranged set of triangular shaped blocks with a low and round profile. For most Ontario trails, this tire appeared to offer everything I needed.

Yet, I also knew that I would occasionally encounter mud and wet weather, loose rocky conditions, and simply more aggressive trails. Therefore, I decided I would also purchase a secondary tire – the Continental X-Kings 29 x 2.2 Protection. Like the Race Kings, the X-Kings feature the Protection casing, the BlackChili Compound rubber, a directional tread and a round profile. The primary difference is that the X-Kings have medium spaced square block treads with a moderate height, which enables the X-Kings to succeed in a wide range of trail conditions.

Now, with the technical information out of the way, let me share my thoughts on these tires. The Race Kings are fast! I have been regularly impressed how much faster my bike will roll versus similar bikes with different tires. The moment I first noticed this was on a mid-season club ride when I was coasting on a double track trail with a slight downward elevation. Side-by-side with other riders, my bike would seemingly gain speed and hold momentum whereas others required rider effort. Yet, they’re also fast because they offer predictable traction. In the corners, I found I could lean as aggressively as I needed they would hold the line. And, if I pushed too hard and they started to slide, they would drift slowly and reconnect without any surprises. I found myself cornering with more confidence as a result. Climbing and descending, the Race Kings always seemed to find grip.

Yet, as great as the Race Kings are in my opinion, they aren’t perfect. In particular, their performance in mud can be a little like trying to ride on ice. Although this surprised me at first, it really shouldn’t have. Consider the tires on your vehicle and the performance improvement a winter tire can make in the winter compared to a summer or an all season tire. Analogously, the Race Kings are great in dry conditions, but are rarely the best tire when conditions are wet. Continental doesn’t hide this fact and, after I tried pushing these limits, I was glad I picked up the X-Kings as my secondary tire.

I had the chance to ride the X-Kings on a very wide range of conditions recently, and they excel where the Race Kings suffer. I participated in the cross-country race at the Bells Beer Copper Harbor Trails Festival this year, which unfortunately coincided with a substantial rain storm. The trail conditions were muddy, rocky, slippery, fast and generally dangerous. In this context, you’d expect most tires to struggle a little, but not the X-Kings. Muddy off-camber single track with exposed roots: the X-Kings didn’t miss a beat. Enduro descents with sharp rocks, large drop-offs and skinny wooden bridges: I had to push very hard before I came close to reaching the limits of the X-Kings. In fact, they saved me from more than one mistake. I also rode the X-Kings in moderately dry conditions and, although they didn’t roll as quickly as the Race Kings, were still very smooth and fast in the dry.

In summary, my upgrade to the Continental Race Kings and X-Kings was one of the best setup decisions I made this year. I’d recommend most Ontario riders maintain two sets of tires – in the same way I recommend two sets of tires for your car, summer and winter. If you prefer the simplicity of a single tire setup, the Race Kings will likely be the better tire in most trail conditions, while the X-Kings will be a good tire on your average ride and a great tire when you need it most.

See you on the trails!
Dan

LapDog Podiums @ Green MTN Stage Race

Written by Mark Van Doormaal, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Racer.

This was my first year doing GMSR and I don’t think it will be my last. The race is great, in a great location. I rode in the 4/5 Open field

Stage 1: TT, uphill start, downhill finish with the “dip” inside the last km. I was pretty happy with my pacing but probably could have gone harder on the uphill portion. Even with perfect pacing I think top 10 would have been as good as I could have possibly done. Dave lent me an aero helmet which must have helped on the downhill portion. The uphill part of the dip doesn’t look like much on paper but after 10 km made for a hard finish. 12th overall, 59 seconds out of first (a very fast TT field this year)

Stage 2: Circuit Race 80km, with one good sized hill. I flatted during the neutral rollout up the hill the first time. Luckily we had SRAM neutral support and I had a new front wheel in seconds and had no problem getting back into the group. I tested myself and checked out the GC field by keeping up with the KOM attacks and made sure a break didn’t go without me on the hill. On the last lap I bridged up to a solo break and we worked well together for about 5 km before the group finally caught up. I had put in some big efforts during the break but had enough time to recover for the finale. I followed some wheels and ended up 7th on the stage after the bunch sprint. Still 12th in GC.

Stage 3: The Queen Stage, 110 km road race finishing with the Baby Gap, App Gap mountain top finish. Fairly easy ride keeping near the front but out of the wind, saving myself for the finale. Unfortunately I flatted at the base of Baby Gap. Luckily I had CO2 with me and the leak was slow. I was able to get some more pressure in my tire and start the climb, but 2 minutes back of the leaders. I was able to pass a bunch of racers on the ride to the finish but didn’t get any help from them. I ended up 22nd overall and 22nd in the GC, 7 minutes down. Very disappointed but the climb was epic even if I was trailing off the back!

Stage 4: 1 km, 6 turn crit in downtown Burlington. It was wet and the course was quite technical. I knew that the first 5+ laps would be killer with the leaders trying to get some splits in the field. Despite starting relatively close to the front a bunch of gaps opened up in front of me and I spent the first 5 laps doing lots of work to connect with the front of the race. I eventually did catch up and the pace went down a bit. It took me a long time to recover and by the time I did, two strong riders were off the front. During the last lap, with the break still away, another rider attacked and I saw a good opportunity to get the jump on the sprinters so I bridged up and sat on his wheel until the last corner when I began my very long uphill sprint. I was able to hold off the sprinters for 3rd! Only 12 riders finished on the lead lap with every one else being pulled and so losing time. As a result of this and a time bonus for 3rd I ended up 12th in the GC. Very happy with this performance. I raced very well tactically and got a great result despite not being a good crit racer.

Stage racing is lots of fun and the Mad River Valley is lots of fun for racing as well as for supporters of racers. I will encourage Lapdog racers of all abilities to give GMSR a try next year. It has something for everyone and provides great focus for the end of the year given the front end loaded nature of the OCUP calendar this year.

From Spreadsheet to Trail… to Race Course!

Written by Larry Woo, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Racer, MTB Squad.

Firstly, let’s get the confessions out of the way… I, Larry Woo, am a cycling gearhead junky, always have been always will be. I love the mechanics of how a bicycle works and especially the sum of the parts that make it up. Along those lines, I find myself never staying satisfied too long bike before I start looking at removing parts that I felt should’ve been there in the first place.

So over the years I have put together many bikes, seen many trends, and experienced bad purchasing decisions that didn’t translate well when ridden. So my goal for my latest build was a mountain bike (singlespeed and/or geared) that would be showroom quality and perform brilliantly on the trail and race course. The voyage of completing my spreadsheet build was just as entertaining with great debates and suggestions from friends and staff at Duke’s Cycle.

With their help, here’s highlights of the build.

  • Frameset: Kona Raijin Titanium Frameset (made by Lynskey Performance)
  • Fork: Cannondale Carbon Lefty XLR (using Cannondale’s LeftyforAll kit)
  • Crankset: Cannondale Hollowgram SiSL
  • Chain: SRAM XX1
  • Wheels: Stan’s ZTR Race Gold 29er
  • Pedals: Crankbrothers Eggbeater 11’s
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Handlebar: Enve Carbon Sweep Bar
  • Stem: Enve Carbon Stem
  • Saddle: Fizik Tundra
  • Seatpost: Cannondale Carbon SAVE seatpost

The result…?

Woohoo! This bike build is fast, comfortable, and responsive. The sum of the, best of breed, parts did indeed deliver. The bike is light, rolls fast, and eats roots and rocks without sending soul destroying shockwaves to the rider. I look at it as the allstar team of mountain bike gear all on my new ride. I look forward to completing the race season on my new steed, turning heads, and having indepth discussions in the parking lot about the build with the other gearheads.

Editor’s Note: In the debut race of the new “KonaLinksyDale,” Larry ended up with an impressive third place finish at the Sudbury Canada Cup, Ontario Cup #4. Proof positive that this is one fast ride.

Photo Credit: Stuart Murray (stumurray.com)

Cannondale F29 Carbon 3 – First Impressions

Written by Bevin Reith, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team.

A 2013 Lefty equipped Cannondale F29 Carbon 3 joined my family of bikes this spring just in time for the riding and racing season to start. After a week on the bike and 4 fun trail rides here are my first impressions.

The greater stability and traction inherent in 29er wheels is the most significant change from the 26 inch platform I was riding last year. Combined with the small bump compliance and steering precision for which the Lefty fork has received accolades since its introduction, this is a platform which absolutely rails corners. Get over the front wheel in attack position and the bike goes exactly where you’re looking. Confidence inspiring and fun for fast flowing singletrack.

The switch from a full squish 26″ trailbike to a 29er hardtail had me worried about my ability to handle rougher terrain. I was shown some new trails in the Don Valley network consisting of rough trail with lots of climbing, descending and tight switchbacks. The larger wheels allowed me to maintain momentum over the rough stuff and the tight wheelbase tracked the switchbacks just as effectively as the smaller wheeled bike. The rear wheel tracked terrain and found traction well enough that I didn’t miss the mountain goat climbing of the dwlink equipped bike and I appreciated the greater power transfer efficiency of the hardtail when the climbs opened up.

For the vast majority of Ontario terrain that I have sampled over the years Cannondale appears to have the perfect recipe. I’ll be taking the Mojo to BCBR in July but for the rest of my trail riding and racing this year I anticipate I’ll be having fun on the Flash.

Calabogus…?

Written By Dave Hamel, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Road Team.

Calabogie was the second “O” Cup in the Ontario road race season, and it was supposed to be my race. I came in 12th there last year (my best result to date) and I expected to do as well this year. Things got a little muddled up, partly because of a lack of attention on my part and partly because of poor race management. I will do my best to explain.

Calabogie is West outside of Ottawa, and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. What they have is a private racetrack where you can learn to drive and it is busy every weekend during the summer. However, in the early spring it plays host to hundreds of cyclists. It is a great place to ride and if you are thinking of getting into racing it is a good first race. Unlike Ancaster, there is no yellow line rule in effect; so there is lots of room to move around. And because it is a race track the road is smooth, well maintained and wide. The course turns left and right and in a car would probably seem like hairpin corners but on a bike are very manageable. What makes Calabogie so good for me is there isn’t much in the way of hills. I’m not much of a climber so races like the Niagara Classic and even KW tax me severely for my love of sweets.

There were five LapDogs in the M3 category but poor race team director Roderick was on his own in M2. The five of us were Dave Chong, Colin, Mark, Wallace and I. The race started smooth enough no crashes or anything and my plan had been to just hang in the middle for most of the race. I hadn’t been on the bike for two weeks since I was away on vacation and I didn’t want to bonk or anything. The race proceeded with it’s usual ebb and flow, racers moving around jockeying for position which is really unnecessary the course is so open you can just wait until the end. In the M3 classification no one ever breaks away it just ends up being a massive sprint anyway.

The laps go by quickly, the course is only about 5.5km long so it is easy to lose track of what lap you’re on. About 8 laps in, I moved my way to the very front of the pelaton. Nose in the wind, feeling good I began to move into the big gears and start pushing a little. This only lasted for a kilometre or two because there in the middle of the road were two bodies, with one on the side! It seems the ladies race had a bad crash and the ambulance hadn’t been able to respond yet. One girl was on the side of the road crying and one was out cold. A volunteer was in the middle of the road waving at us to stop. Being the responsible racer that I am I raised my hand and slowed the pelaton down.

There isn’t much prize money in M3 racing, not a lot of glory either so there was no point in trying to race away. Plus I would be really upset if someone bombed past one of my teammates when they were injured. Now here is where the poor race management comes in. When a race is neutralized, no one is supposed to gain position, like in a neutral start no one tries to move up. I was the leader, no one was supposed to pass me. About a dozen racers came by saying “keep it easy, guys” while pedaling forward. As the guy in front, when a race is neutralized I set the pace, not them. If this was a pro-race all of them would have been called out for it, and booed should any of them get to the podium. Just think of Contador when he attacked after Schleck’s chain malfunctioned, he got booed when he put on the yellow jersey. The two incidents are not exactly comparable but there is an etiquette to cycling and as far as I am concerned, they broke that etiquette. When we came around for the 9th lap the ambulance was there so again the same slowing and jockeying.

On the 10th lap the pace really picked up, and this is where I got confused. With all the excitement I forgot what lap I was on and looking at the counter it read “2.” After we came around again it read “1″ and the pace slowed again for some reason. I took this to mean I had one more after this one, like there was one lap remaining. As a result I was hanging out near the back waiting for the last half lap to make my push again. You can imagine my disappointment when we crossed the line and everyone stopped. There is nothing worse than finishing feeling like you still had gas in the tank. At least at Ancaster I had done all I could but here I hadn’t even made my move! Thankfully Colin and Dave had good races with Colin finishing 8th and Dave finishing 19th. I ended up in 62nd, kicking myself for getting distracted. This was supposed to be my race and I blew it.

Roderick and the M2 racers had a similar situation only for them the accident was on the start of the straight-away to the finish, and the accident was on the second to last lap. When the riders came around for the last lap the ambulance was in the road, as they came into the last “S” turn before the straight away there was a commissionaire yelling that the ambulance was still there . That should have neutralized the race but when they got there the ambulance had just left and so some guys punched it and took advantage of the situation. That should have never been allowed to happen. The race should have been neutralized and then an additional “race” lap added. As it happened Roderick finished in a similar fashion with still some energy left.

Calabogie wasn’t a total loss though. I learn every time I race. I learn to handle the bike better, how to position myself better. I learn that I can hang out at the front and push the pace. The next race is Springbank, which will be my first criterium. I can’t wait to see what I learn there!

Cold Day… Hot Race!

Written by Dave Hamil, Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs Race Team, Road Squad

The first race of the season is always a gong show. After a long winter riders are eager to get back on the road; and those who have put in countless hours on a trainer are keen to show off their new legs. Most riders show up with their winter gear on, leg warmers and caps a since the weather is still just a few degrees above freezing, although you do see a few nutters wearing just their kit. Regardless of what they’re wearing everyone is keen for the starting whistle.

The problem with the M3 class is that you get a real mish-mash of skill levels and bike handling. If you look at the M1 class, most of the riders are svelte, and have excellent handling skills. They don’t get excited or make sudden, rash movements. With M3 you have beginner racers (everyone has to start somewhere) as well as experienced riders who don’t have the legs to advance to the upper levels or are just not interested in those longer, faster races. The combination makes for a fast, sketchy ride.

This was my second Good Friday race and considering the Hamilton Cycling Club had moved the race from Flamborough to Ancaster, I thought I would have a good shot at finishing with the peloton. The new course was flatter, very little in the way of inclines and the rollers weren’t anything to be concerned about. What I hadn’t counted on was the number of riders. The M3 class had something like 107 people in it. With the yellow line rule in effect, it meant that you only had one country lane within which to maneuver. The road was only wide enough to fit 3 people shoulder to shoulder meaning you could effectively have one rider break away and three teammates shut down the peloton.

The race started from the Ancaster fairgrounds with a neutral start. Despite this a rider crashed right in front of me within the first minute of the race. Not a good way to start. The issue was the first stretch of road was gravel. So now we have mixed skills, first race, and dodgy roads. Once we got onto the main road it was clear this race was going to go quickly. I was riding with race team director Dave Chong, as well as Wallace and Tim, and while we started together we were soon separated. Dave had moved somewhere towards the front and Tim and Wallace were behind me.

There is a phenomenon in a peloton where it moves like an elastic band. It stretches out and then snaps back together. This is caused by the riders at the front encountering something, like a hill, which causes them to slow down and the riders behind them bunch up. The leaders then accelerate when they reach the crest of the hill and the group stretches out again. This effect gets worse the farther back in the peloton you go, so it pays to be near the front. Every time the group bunches up however it is accompanied by shouting, squealing rubber and the smell of burning carbon. I guess some guys with new wheels didn’t realize you shouldn’t lock up your carbon rims.

As we rounded the corner to go back towards the fairground the commissares brought the group to a standstill. As we slowly navigated into the oncoming lane I could see a guy lying in the middle of the road, wrapped in a yellow emergency blanket in obvious pain. A sobering reminder what can happen if you let your attention slip. Lap 2 saw us also slowly navigate around the fallen rider who by this point had been accompanied by an ambulance. This scene was still present as we started the third lap; a testament to how severe the crash must have been.
By the third lap things had begun to pick up; it always does by this point. Another crash (again right in front of me), more snaps of the elastic peloton, a few flats… Anticipating the stretch and snap of the group I was able to slowly make my way up the peloton towards Dave who I could see about 10 guys in front of me. The peloton is probably moving around 40kms an hour which is fast, but not anything unusual. If you are on the leaward side from the wind it is actually not that much effort. If you’re the poor sap upfront however, you’re working like a dog.

One of the problems with the course this year was the gravel section I mentioned in the beginning every time we came around to the finish line there was a mad sprint as riders jockeyed for position (since this was really the only time to move up) followed by a 90 degree left onto gravel. Forty kilometers an hour on gravel is no laughing matter when you have two inches of rubber as the contact between you and the ground and that ground isn’t exactly stable.

Once we got on the road again for the last lap things really exploded. The leaders had really put down the hurt and anyone who wasn’t with the main group would struggle to bridge the gap or get left behind. I was one of those strugglers, luckily for me Tim came riding up from out of nowhere. It was a small relief to see the flash of the orange and green Lapdogs kit. I was able to catch his back wheel and let him pull me back towards the main group. With the help of another rider from Dark Horse I was able to get back into the peloton, but the speed was now in the upper 40′s so there wasn’t much in the way of recovery. Glancing at my Garmin I could see my heart rate was maxed out. I reminded myself that in boot camp we did a 20 minute all-out and I only had about 10 minutes left in this race, so I could hang on.

At this point I saw Dave sliding back from the group. I shouted something encouraging like “Keep going Dave!” But it probably just sounded incoherent. When it is all you can do to stay upright and moving you don’t really have much time or breath for chit-chat.
One of the issues I have with races like Good Friday is that they’re not closed course. First the yellow line rule makes it hard to move around but also cars get in the way. On the second to last turn towards the finish, police had stopped three motorists from proceeding. As a result the peloton had to slow down to pick it’s way around them and then start up again. This gave the leaders another opportunity to snap that elastic band and despite my best efforts I was not able to close the gap a second time.

It is bitter sweet to finish like that. I had nothing left, there was nothing else I could have done in terms of effort, I was spent. But if I had been smarter, more aggressive earlier in the race I might have been in a better position to finish. As it stands I ended the race in 50th place, half a wheel in front of Tim who had saved my goose earlier in the race, and just 28 seconds off the leader.

I learn something new every time I race. I learn about where to position myself, which riders to follow (and which to avoid), how the peloton is going to move…most importantly I learn to push myself. All in all I can’t complain too much. None of us crashed, none of us got hurt and this is after all only the first race.

Just wait until Calabogie!