Monday, July 28, 2014

Yellow shorts and backwards goggles

These days, mountain biking is all about Enduro, oh... oops, I mean ENDURO. It's taken me a while to fully appreciate what ENDURO is, but thanks to the internet I've been able to determine that the concept of is to ride mountain bikes whilst wearing your choice of colours shown in the ENDURO World Series logo. Riders are judged on color matching, tonal range, and juxtaposition of bicycle and clothing colour combinations. Bonus points may be awarded for wearing goggles on the back of your head, carrying a water bottle, and duct-taping tools to your bike. Simple really.

Jerome Clementz - EWS champion of ENDURO fashions
I've enjoyed observing the development of the ENDURO scene here in BC, but not felt ready to step up with my own contribution... until now. The tipping point was either getting my entry to Trans Provence accepted, or when a bike industry friend told me: "You can't mock ENDURO, it's putting food on my table". Either way, it's serious business and I'm all about serious when it comes to riding bikes.

Given that I still have a while before launching my attack on the heart of ENDURO in its spiritual home (Euro-ENDURO), I have been able to find some local events in which to establish my dominance of the middle-regions of the results sheet. First was Round 7 of the NSMBA Toonie Races last Thursday. I probably should have gone to some of the previous six, but I was too busy riding my bike. This turned out to be a lot of fun, and I got the hang of the timing system, which any experienced ENDUROist will have ridden past, crashed into, or fallen off their bike trying to operate. I'm not sure why they time the stages, I guess it's something for anyone who forgot their goggles or brought a shirt that clashes with their frame to console themselves with. In truth, it's a pretty amazing system as all the data show up on the race organizer's laptop in real time, allowing the post-race "I knew riding off the trail into that ditch was going to cost me at least two seconds" analysis to begin immediately. The first stage was an old favorite, the second fast and slippery, and the third fast and rough. Overall... a lot of fun. Results-wise, my bike was orange, so I definitely got some points there, and my socks matched my shoes.

Next up on my "race calendar" was the Sunshine Coast round of the BC Enduro Series this weekend. I like the SSC trails, and it's a bit of a fashion backwater so I thought I was in with a chance. The first day went well. I wore the same socks as Thursday (playing it safe) but took a risk on wearing a shirt with a big lightening bolt on it like David Bowie's make-up during his Aladdin Sane period. I couldn't get my goggles to stay on the back of my helmet properly, so gave up on those... it's good to have goals for the remaining season after all. Unfortunately my shirt got dirty on day one so I had to wear a blue one on day two - a disappointing tactical error. My biggest failure however was probably my bike, which was mostly grey and black. It does have some small blue and red parts, but they didn't really co-ordinate with my outfit and I don't think anyone noticed them. Really, not a satisfying performance. Just when I was feeling pretty bleak about my my fashion shortfall I found a new source of ENDURO-points! It turns out that analyzing the course with your bike computer or phone is a big part of Enduroing, so I seized some valuable post-race points by analyzing my stage times. I knew those timers had a purpose. Check out my ENDURO spreadsheet.

Time /s
Fastest Time /s
% Slower
Stage 3: New No Mods
Stage 8: 102
Stage 4: VFR and Addernack
Stage 6: Charlie Brown and Pumpkin Patch
Stage 2: Sniper and Dogtown
Stage 1: Brokebac and 4D
Stage 9: Pressure Drop into Sprokids
Stage 7: Viper
Stage 5: Built to Spill, 103, 2001, Packeko, Janet's Jungle, DNZ

Stay tuned for the next thrilling episode in my relentless pursuit of ENDURO.

Update: Photos have emerged from the Sunshine Coast, courtesy of Scott Robarts photography on Pinkbike.

Day 1: I'm giving myself a 7/10 for ENDURO here, the colour variation and intensity is good in the clothing, though the lack of bike co-ordination and perplexed expression take away from the overall look.

Here's the high point of the weekend... socks visible, plenty of colours (some of which match), you can't see my face, and it looks like I might be about to do something exciting. The black shorts are letting me down here though. I think something in mustard yellow would work well in this setting.


Day 2: Yes, I really let things slip here. The socks are about the only positive in this ensemble, I'm not making any sort of radical facial expression, and I have mud on my face. I promise to do better next time.


Friday, July 18, 2014


It turns out I had a blog, where I used to write about fun things and sometimes not fun things (but who really wants to read about those anyway). 

It turns out I still do have that blog. Who knew? In my defense, spring arrived in Vancouver which has resulted in me spending even more time than usual playing on bicycles and not writing about it on the internet. Compromises must be made.

Other than playing on bicycles, I've finally started the Rapid Visualization course at Emily Carr that was the main reason I started the Industrial Design certificate program there almost two years ago. Along the way I've done four other classes which all turned out to be quite illuminating... especially the "Contemporary Issues in Design" one which I decided I would hate because it has a pretentious name. It turned out to be really good, and not what I was expecting at all... or perhaps I am just far more pretentious that I gave myself credit for. Other than that, the usual goings-on of life, and idly considering changing the town we live in and my entire career, I've mostly just been riding bicycles.

I did also take some photos from our balcony... look:

I call this composition: "Catwalk specter rampant upon gravel pile"

This one is: "Metallic serpent of decay through the blurred eyes of nature".
An exciting thing for me this year is that I entered Trans Provence. There's a bit of history to that, but the important thing is that I'm going to do it and it should be several kinds of fun. As it's supposed to be quite hard, I thought I'd use it as an excuse to "train" for bicycle racing this year. This involved buying a road bike, buying various new tires, buying a new helmet, some shoes, some socks, having my suspension expensively tuned, and spending money entering other bicycle races before the bicycle race. After spending all of that money I was a bit tired, so decided to take the rest of the year off biking and loaf around eating cake.

Just kidding. I have in fact employed a suspicious Italian doctor and started out on an ambitious program of performance-enhancing drug use and blood doping inspired by my idol, Lance Armstrong. It worked out well for him, right?

Well, that's not true either. My real training plan is to think of things I would like to do better, and find ways of being better at them. Stage 1 was to ride up hills faster. My solution here has been to ride my new road bike up a hill near home (and down again), when I feel like it. I've also been riding Kermit to work and other places every day... but I was doing that anyway so maybe it doesn't count. Stage 2 is to ride down hills faster. I think you'll agree that this training plan is absolutely comprehensive. This part is much more fun than the riding up hills part, so a bit more effort has gone into it. Along with the usual riding on the Shore (which I was doing anyway, so doesn't count)... I rode at the new and exciting Coast Gravity Park, entered an on-trend ENDURO race, entered a painful-sounding event on hardtails, and bought myself a day of coaching with Darren from Endless Biking where he'll teach me how to make corners explode, or at least ride around them fast. That's tomorrow, which is exciting. I am optimistic that this plan will prepare me with the form required to dominate the bottom half of the results sheet at T-P.

Finally, here's a picture that I like... and wanted to put somewhere I would remember it.