Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good Training Weekend

This past weekend, I hooked up with my racing partner Gary Robbins for some good times on the road bike and on the trails. As Friday was a holiday, I headed up to the ferry on the road bike, took the ferry across, and then headed up to North Van from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. It's a good thing I checked out my route beforehand as I found out the day before I left that you cannot go through the George-Massey tunnel. There is a free shuttle that does transport cyclists from one side to the other but.... it doesn't operate until April. My other option at this crossing was to pay a two zone fare and take the bus. I just couldn't do it so opted for the longer route over the Alex-Fraser bridge and eventually the Second Narrows bridge into North Van. Everything looked so easy on the map...

Leaving the terminal, I was ahead of all the ferry traffic (cyclists are the first ones off :) ) when not two kilometers from the boat... pppffftttttt. I flatted on one of the many sharp pieces of gravel littering the shoulder. The wind was blowing hard so I layered up, fixed the flat, and was off again in no time. Then came the wind again. It was one of those days where you just can't seem to find the right balance in the layers either. One minute it was cold with a blistering wind, and the next it was calm with a hot sun. After a couple of stops to change up the layers, I eventually settled on a minimal layer and endured the wind when it hit me.

The ride was going well until I got on the Alex Fraser bridge. Because you can't ride on the road, you have to find your way onto the side bike path and then continue on the other side through a convoluted network of turns to navigate your way to the next bridge to get off Annacis Island. Then there were no signs. I even had a map but if your not driving a car and need to find the next bike route, sometimes you were just screwed if you hadn't done it before. It didn't take that long to figure things out but it did get frustating.

I think I started cursing how much I hate Vancouver pretty early in the ride when I was almost run off the road by a big Ford F150. Then came many more incidents where if I wasn't cautious in my riding, I might be typing this from a hospital bed.

In 2 1/2 hours of riding, I had more close calls with cars then I have had living in Victoria for the last 3 1/2 years! Yeah Vancouver!

I did arrive at North Shore Athletics in one piece and then headed up to Squamish with Gary. The next day, after procrastinating leaving on our bikes and where to go, I made the call that I wanted to go up to Whistler. It had been a route that I have wanted to do for a long time and even though the weather was not the greatest, we decided to give it a go and turn back if things turned sour. We had some full on headwind almost the whole way up to Whistler but knew that the way back would be worth it (mostly downhill with the wind at our backs!). It was also much better having someone to ride with as we traded off pulling frequently which made the wind more bareable. The ride up was scenic, not too busy, and quite enjoyable. Lots of climbs but none of them too steep that would make you curse. :)

After a good stop in Whistler for some sushi, we headed back at a much faster pace and pushed each other much harder. It was a sweet return and a great day on the bike!

That night, we went to 'The Best of the Vancouver Mountain Film Festival' which had some good videos but was a little too much climbing focused for my taste. Enjoyable nonetheless.

The next day, we hooked up with some of the Montrail Trail Running Team, did a 2 1/2 run in the Lynn Valley, and then I hopped back on the road bike to return home. Here I learned to not bike on the Trans Canada highway on the North Shore (at least the section I was on anyway). I got on (no warning signs for bikes), had no shoulder to ride on and thus had to impede on the right lane, and shortly therafter I'm screeming down a steep section of road hitting 70km/hour into a strong headwind that starts shaking my bike as traffic speeds by in the fast lane at 120km/hour and I have a bus on my ass that's getting pissed. Not the best way to start out my ride.

Navigating the return trip on the bike was much better as I now knew the route and didn't end up cursing Vancouver as much. Of course, once I got to River Road, now I had a full South wind in my face! Strong too. I was cruising along at 32-35 km/hour and suddenly I'm doing 24 km/hour for the same effort. It was definitely a weekend of wind. Getting off the ferry was the worst of all. It was blowing so hard that I was being moved all around the shoulder of the road while I was being pounded by sleet! Some crazy weather but well worth putting up with it.
Hope you enjoyed the long weekend.


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