Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last ride in the Sun

We leave for our vacation this weekend, and today is the last day with a sun icon on it in the weather forecast this week.  Judging by past years, we are not expecting Vancouver to see the sun again until the New Year.




Easy spin around the UBC loop on the way home today.  Not a bad last ride, if it turns out that way.  Speaking of vacation, we decided we had better get planning.  Tentative route is as follows:

View Larger Map

Most of those pins are rides that we want to go on.  The hit list so far is:

Leadville, CO - the Columbine Mine climb if it isn't snowed in
Aspen, CO - not sure yet, but I suspect there are tons to choose from
Moab, UT - self explanatory
Bonneville Salt Flats, UT - I am actually most excited about this out of all the rides so far.  I hope it lives up to expectations.

Hopefully the plans are a little more firmed up by the end of the week.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week -53

We're going to call this last one a rest week.

But at least we swam.

(T-53 weeks and counting until New Zealand)
Matt Caroline
Swim
Sessions
1
1
Distance (m)
500
1000
Bike
Distance (km)
54
75
Elevation (m)
200
200
Run
Sessions
0
1
Distance (km)
0
3
Backcountry
Distance (km)
0
0
Elevation (m)
0
0

Friday, October 21, 2011

Week -54: or, HTML is difficult

As I write, we are actually nearing the end of week -53.  Delayed on the stats again.  But this time, I have a good excuse.

I have just spent the past hour and a half teaching myself HTML in order that I can insert a good-enough looking table into these weekly posts.  We are keeping our stats on a Google spreadsheet, and the idea was to develop the spreadsheet so I/we could just copy and paste into a post every week.  Triathlon training, especially when you have a day job, is all about time management.  Prioritizing and working in efficiencies wherever you can.

So I spent an hour or two (maybe three) on the first attempt to integrate a Google spreadsheet.  I finally gave that up and realized I would have to do it in HTML.  So then add the hour and a half I just mentioned.  I now have 107 lines of HTML code to create this table.  And get this: I have an Excel document to generate that code. Which I had to create.  That took a little bit of time too.  But pretty sweet, right?  So here it is, for all of your viewing enjoyment:

(T-54 weeks and counting until New Zealand)
Matt Caroline
Swim
Sessions
0
0
Distance (m)
0
0
Bike
Distance (km)
103
114
Elevation (m)
547
547
Run
Sessions
2
2
Distance (km)
9
9
Backcountry
Distance (km)
0
0
Elevation (m)
0
0

After I finished, I started thinking about how much time it would have taken to just type in the data for every week.  There's only 54 more times I would have to do it.  That wouldn't take too long to calculate, I bet...

Trouble in Paradise

This has been quite the roller coaster week...

It started out with an awesome weekend - riding bikes both days.  I got an awesome new mountain bike on Friday afternoon.  To make a long story short, Matt let me ride his full suspension bike the weekend before and I decided I wasn't giving it back until I had one of my own!  I scoured the local bike stores and walked out of Simon's Bike Shop on Robson with a smoking hot deal on a 2009 Specialized Era Expert.    And thus we went back to Elfin (on a perfect sunny, crisp day) to test it out on some familiar trails.  Love!

Specialized Era

She climbs like a mountain goat (I made one section that Matt didn't, and that just doesn't happen!) and descends plush enough to give me some much needed confidence.  For the first time I was happy to go down everything I went up.  Silly, I know, but it's true.  I'm getting super stoked about our trip to Moab - this is going to be such a fun bike to ride.  I am already scoping out the guide book for all the killer climbs and fun, swoopy singletrack descents.

DSC_0096

And maybe a little less snow... but oh it was beautiful!

DSC_0092

The only one who isn't happy in this equation is my poor Gary Fisher Tassajara hardtail.  She is going to have to find a new home when we get home from Moab.  Anyone for a new bike?

On Sunday morning we woke up to another perfect sunny day.  Probably the last day this season will will get out on our good bikes.  And it felt so good!  There really is a good reason to ride carbon.  It's, just, so, smooooooth.  We didn't have any big objectives for the day, just to enjoy the weather and the last good ride.  We headed down to Richmond and spent some time time-trialing at Iona Beach.  Iona is about the only place anywhere close to Vancouver where you can ride 10km without lights or stopping so it makes a perfect test.  It also sits right next to the airport.  When I finished up my 10km, I watched a KLM flight side slip in for an AWESOME crosswind landing.

We then headed out to the beach and hung out in the sun for a while - we made friends with a crow.  He came over making this super strange, soft garbling noise, almost acting like he was sick.  We finally realized the crow was BEGGING!  We had quite the conversation with him before he headed off to harass some newcomers.  Unfortunately we didn't get his picture but it reminded me of the little birds from Elfin, you know, the ones that can hear a granola bar wrapper 15 miles away and will do just about anything to steal it?

DSC_0090

Ya, one of those birds...

Our good fortune in weather kept up and we were able to ride in Stanley Park on Tuesday after work - again probably one of the last times we will be able to do so this season.  As soon as the time changes there will not be enough light in the evenings :(

Then came Wednesday.  Matt was away in Prince George for a few days so I was on my own for our Wednesday night run clinic.  The weather had been pretty decent all day, but as soon as I arrived at the track, it started raining.  We started our warm-up - a super intense, more than I have ever done for warm-up before, warm-up.  I had been really tired all day (probably having something to do with not taking a day off the bike in, oh, 10 days), but I really picked up once I got outside with a group of people.  We got into drills and on the first "stride" (basically accelerate for 30m, sprint for 30m decelerate for 30m for the non-runners).  And BAM, strained my left quad.  It had been feeling a little funny the week before but since it didn't hurt at all through warm-up I wasn't even thinking about it.  So that was the end of my track workout.

Thursday I spend my day with ice packs and ace bandages.  Marginal improvement.  People tell me three days... well I'm at one and counting and I'm already bored...

So that leads to Friday.  Quad again feeling a little better, starting to believe in the three day thing.  Then I happened to look up the website for the ITU World Age Group Championships.  Matt and I are fortunate to be racing in two separate events.  In every schedule for previous years I could find, the two races were held on different days (usually one on Saturday and one on Sunday).  We thought this was perfect - we would be able to support and crew each other, and we'd even be able to share race wheels (a huge bonus as they are stupidly expensive).  However, in New Zealand, they apparently have decided to run the races back to back.  Matt's race starts at 6:55am and mine starts at 8:30am on the last day.  I will BARELY even have time to see Matt finish.  There is no way I can watch as much of his race as I want to, and he will have almost no time to relax after his race before I have to get started.  As you can well imagine, we are super disappointed.  I had so been looking forward to spend his race completely focused on him and have him be able to do the same thing for me.

Anyways, I am still sitting here with ice and ace bandages, thinking about poor timing and injuries, sad to have missed my track workout and my long bike ride, and the mountain bike ride for tomorrow morning, and having to cancel going to yoga this weekend.  So it started as a fantasic week but it ended with trouble in paradise.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Biking in Mountainous Terrain

One of the last things on our "must do before this summer is over" list was to go back to the Elfin Lakes shelter, to see what it was like without 15 feet of snowcover.   The last time we visited, the hut seemed to be missing the bottom story. This was it in winter:

2011.04.08 Neve (25)

Obviously we approached on skis, dragging a sled.  But now, since it was summer, this time we would roll.

Much better option.  And the sun came out just as we hit the ridgeline.

2011.10.09 Elfin (11)


Things have changed a little since April.

2011.10.09 Elfin (12)

So that's checked off.  I'm ready for the snow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Snow levels: 1800 m in the Whistler Backcountry

This was one of those trips that you plan out a few months in advance.  Figure out the route, where you'll be staying, what you'll do, everything right down to the fine details.

And then months pass when you don't find time to do the trip.  Finally, the opportunity presents itself (i.e. this is the last day of the season for the Gondola up).  So you check the weather forecast and head out.

You get to the mountains, get up to the start of the hike, and at this point you realize: the weather report said "snow and rain".  But since you planned this trip months ago, you have been imagining sun and clear skies this whole time.  You saw "snow and rain", but read "should be fine".

Not the trip we were expecting, but pretty amazing anyways.  The snow was definitely there, but the rain held off and the clouds only seemed to make everything look better:

2011.10.08 Whistler (12)

(As always, clicking on the picture will take you to Flickr for more)

It's amazing how much bigger ski resorts seem when you are on foot.  Our route is below.  This basically amounts to two or three smallish runs at whistler, but took us about 5 hours on foot.

route

Week -55

Missed an update, didn't I?  It's been a busy week.  Stats for week -55 (ending Sunday the 9th):

(T-55 weeks and counting until New Zealand)
Matt Caroline
Swim
Sessions
0
0
Distance (m)
0
0
Bike
Distance (km)
130
105
Elevation (m)
785
785
Run
Sessions
1
2
Distance (km)
4
7
Backcountry
Distance (km)
10
9
Elevation (m)
830
750

We were able to add in another sport this week.  Slow progress, but in the right direction.  Now all we have to do is get back into the water.

We went to our first run clinic on Wednesday night, which was a cool experience.  I think we will both make some significant gains with that.

And lot of "cross training" on the weekend...more on that later.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Scrambling on the Coast: A Success Story

Coming back from our latest attempt on the Black Tusk, Caroline and I started thinking about our other hikes and scrambles that have or have not been entirely successful in terms of summitting, and what our success rate was.  Here is the list:

April 2009       The Chief                 Success!
May 2009       The Black Tusk        Fail - too much snow, not enough time  
June 2009       Mount Webb            Fail - too much snow, hail and misery
July 2009        Ashlu Mountain        Fail - not enough time
July 2009        Tricouni Mountain     Success!
August 2009    Tricouni Mountain     Success!
Sept. 2009      Sky Pilot Group        Fail - too much rain, fog and misery
Nov. 2009       Singing Pass             Success!
April 2010       Garibaldi Neve          Fail - too much rain, injury and misery
June 2010       Lady Peak               Fail - too much snow, rain and misery
July 2010        Ashlu Mountain        Fail - too much snow
July 2010        Tricouni Mountain     Fail - too much snow
August 2010    Tantalus Range        Fail - too much rain, fog and misery
Sept. 2010      E.C. Manning           Fail - snowstorm
Jan 2011         Rainbow Mountain    Fail - not enough time
Feb 2011        Needle Peak            Fail - blizzard
March 2011     Zoa Peak                 Success!
April 2011       Garibaldi Neve          Success! (injury notwithstanding)
July 2011        Castle Towers          Fail - too much rain, snow, hail, and fog
August 2011   Sky Pilot Group        Fail - too much snow
Sept. 2011     The Lions                  Fail - too much rain, fog and misery
Oct. 2011       The Black Tusk         Fail - too much snow, not enough time

....27%.

Maybe we should try getting up earlier?

CG

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Black Tusk via Microwave Towers

The Black Tusk is one of the more prominent peaks in the Sea to Sky Corridor.  We attempted this scramble two years ago via the traditional route, which is a very well maintained track up from Rubble Creek.  The path is 7.5 or so kilometers to Taylor Meadows, and then an additional 7 from the there to the Tusk.  This makes for a 29 kilometer day (about 20 of which are in the trees).

We didn't get the earliest start, the hike is a little boring/grueling, and when we got to the lake it looked like this:

Black Tusk 2009


That was about as close as we got.  You can see the tusk in the background.  It's the thing that looks like a big, black...tusk.

But our appetites were whetted.  And then last year we acquired some mountain bikes. And learned that there is in fact a microwave tower station located close to the tusk.  And that this station is in fact accessed by a service road.  So a plan was laid.

This route is also described in our favourite scrambling guidebook (although he assumes you will be driving up the access road instead of riding).  The description also mentions a locked gate at 14.8km up the road from the highway. 

Well, it turns out that they installed a new gate.  At about 1.0 km in from the highway (and ~1300m below the old gate).  So the route still works, but only as a cycling approach route.  And only if you are a little depraved. 

Anyways, the plan worked out fairly well.  It turns out they also built an Olympic Village where the old access road used to start, but a few minutes driving had us at the right entrance.  After that, we rode up.  And up some more.  Then there was a little bit of flat:

Black Tusk


And then up some more.

Black Tusk


Finally, we got to the Microwave towers.  At which point it started snowing.  We were also hitting our turnaround time on the day, so decided on a short ridgewalk towards the tusk for some pictures.  Not so climbable today.  Maybe next season.

Black Tusk

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week -56 Summary

...and, we're back.  Move successful and internet-ing abilities reestablished.


It is now official. 56 weeks to go until the race.  This past week we finished (almost) unpacking, and started getting back into the training thing.  One of the good parts about moving farther out of the city is that it gets us both on our bikes for close to 20km each day, almost every day.  Stats for the week:

 
SwimBikeRun
WeekSessionsDistance(m)Distance(km)Elevation (m)Distance(km)
-560012016000