Cycling in a Toque

Cycling in a Toque: September 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Back with Team Exergy

After a hugely successful season for the team and myself, I'm happy to announce that I'm all signed up for next season. Although the official roster has yet to be released, there are some exciting changes in store for the team. I am very excited to share them with you when the time is right.

For now, thanks for reading and following along. You can see a collection of my favourite images here in the flickr gallery.

And to all my Whistler readers, thanks for the occasional honks when I am out there training. Pretty rad to hear you and it makes my training day a great one!


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Neverending Road

Living in Walla Walla for four years can make a cyclist a little spoiled. Void of cars, dogs, squirrels and snow, it's endless roadways carve through the rolling Palouse hills. Golden brown in the fall, the air is earthy, dry and hot, with the occasional whiff of smoke as farmers burn off harvested fields; riding on the surface of the moon. In the spring, blue meets green as the endless harvest sprouts and extends out to the horizon to touch the sky; floating.

The valley's web of paved rollercoasters can take you to a place, but it is only on the gravel mazes that interconnect these roadways that one can become lost.

"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves" Henry David Thoreau


Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Thin Blue Line

Why does my eye hurt from a bike ride?

Did I get a bug in my eye? No...I was riding inside today.

Did I only put in one contact this morning?

Was I squinting during my ride? No, at least I don't remember doing anything like that.

Do you think it could have been the whole

"sprinting in the saddle, head half-cocked, back twisted, searching for more power....searching for more speed... but no shifters, no more leg speed, no more oxygen, just two thin lines, one red, one black. Into the steep embankment, the wood surface lightly crackles underneath....go faster damn the black line gets bigger....everything is going black...."

Ya, I guess it could have been that track workout.

Here's to sore legs, dull headaches and G-forces at the velodrome. BAM!

Labels: ,

Monday, 19 September 2011

Routine? Ayurveda!

Over the past 12 months as a self-coached professional, I've focused the majority of my free time to learning different methods of training. I read a vast array of medical/physiological testing studies and memorized the lessons of such popular coaches as Friel & Carmichael (who have quite different perspectives). But as my off-season continued to develop and I learned more about bike training, I started to investigate the other 20 hours of my day with questions about body clocks, ancient medicine and the body's natural desire for routine. This meshed in with my teammate Sam Johnson's suggestion when I signed with Team Exergy in Oct.'10: "The riding is easy, the hardest part is not going need to find balance...find a passion".

So that is what I did. I dove into on the bike training and the off-the-bike lifestyle. One very fascinating lifestyle I discovered in my studies is the ancient East Indian practice of Ayurveda. Through a series of questions assessing your lifestyle and body type, you are slotted into 1 of 3 'types' (a mix between 2 types or all 3 types is also possible). These types provide insight into when you will perform the three fundamental tasks best throughout the year; these tasks include 1) physical strength, 2) digestion & recovery and 3) brain function. These tasks are also are used to break up the day.

Physical Strength: 6am-10am
Digestion: 10am-2pm
Brain Function: 2pm-6pm
Physical Strength: 6pm-10pm
Brain Function: 10pm-2am
Digestion & Recovery: 2am-6am

Have you ever worked past 10pm and then can't go to sleep for hours? Do you enjoy working out in the morning...what about that post-work group ride? Maybe you don't think well in the afternoon's, Ayurveda accuses a poor diet as the reason, suggesting you eat 80% of your daily calories in the middle of the day, followed by a 15 lie down on your left side (stomach on the left), then a 15-25 minute brisk walk.

Although I cannot really abide by these rules since I am training full time, they do offer an interesting insight into the importance of respecting and listening to our body clocks.

Learn more about Ayurveda here. In Sanskrit: Ayurveda literally means 'science of life and longevity'.

Thanks Tove!


Friday, 16 September 2011

Interbike 2011

WETBANDITS: “What Happens In Vegas ft. Gregor Salto” - Chuckie



Photo Courtesy of Conor Mullervy:
Kevin, Conor, Freddie, Carlos, Andres, Sebastian, and I received this message just a few days ago so we all hopped on flying machines from our respective countries and met up with the team management at one of the top, if not the best nightclub in Vegas for a mysterious special announcement that would "take the team through 2012 & beyond". So what was the news?

Highlights of the evening include:

- SUV Limo ride for warmup,
- 6 hour private event at The Marquee
- Elevator opens = fancy drink or exotic beer?
- Photo shoot prior to entry
- Open Bar and Free Food
- Go-go dancer in a giant bubble
- 400 guests: All the big wigs in the US racing scene
- Dave Towle on the mic
- James Carkulis speech w/ Paris Hilton quote: "I only need 4 things.....a tiger in my closet"

Announcement.....EXERGY TWENTY12, our new women's pro cycling team!



Thursday, 15 September 2011


White beaches & umbrella drinks, green valleys & desolate trails, glassy lakes & the call of a loon; we all work so hard for so long to get to these places, a place where we can take in the beauty, feel alive, feel closer to nature and escape for a slice of silence from our busy world of alarm clocks, text messages and advertising, advertising and more advertising!

It is in these quiet, breath-taking moments that we can just sit; just sit and do nothing. Don't move, don't speak, don't even breathe in some cases....nothing, just be. Of course we do nothing a lot these days and sitting is often associated with tv watching, keyboard typing, neck-craning texting...mere visual distraction, not visual stimulus!

Finding a place where one can reflect often requires a quiet, invigorating space void of noise: practicing yoga amidst the morning dew (not yoga class), a long drive home with a broken radio (and no ipod), or an unstructured bike ride on familiar roads (without a training partner). It is in these moments when we usually come up with our best ideas. A time when we can zone off towards a some unknown destination, our mind wandering through a world of what-ifs, what-could've-beens and whats-nexts, tethered only by the most basic elements of the task at hand. A journey that perhaps, if lucky, may lead in just the right direction, to an original thought.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

2011 RBC Gran Fondo

This race was fabulous. Absolutely fantastic. 7,000 people, with the likes of Bob Roll and Alex Steida. They had the entire Lions Gate Bridge closed down and as we went over in the opening moments of the race... the sun rose. It was beautiful! The energy of the event proved just how big cycling is here in Southwestern British Columbia post-Olympics so I am stoked to experience the day after missing the energy of the Olympics with University.

The Giro field was not as deep as last year's race: three professional riders in a 75 man field compared to the 300 rider peloton seen in the inaugeral 2010 event. Sebastian joined me to represent Exergy (rocking quick legs after crushing the Tour of Colorado) & Nic Hamilton of Jelly Belly; Nic rode very well at both of the Tour of Utah and Colorado despite severe crashes, he also split Will Routley (Spidertech) and Sebastian (Exergy) at the historical Tour de White Rock hill climb earlier this summer, so he is a solid all rounder and a strong climber!

There was also a large stack of local riders who have been training for the race since early July, many of the local amateur teams started with solid teams of +5 riders so with team tactics coming into play, it would be a challenging day. Plus...there was of course a slew of international starters to fill the 100 rider peloton whom I have never heard of so some massive crank breakers could have shown up unbeknownst to me! We'd have to wait and find out!

The early move went early, after only five minutes of racing on the first climb of the day (total of 7000 feet of climbing on the schedule). The 2 minute opening punch up Taylor Way (9-12% grade) selected 2 H&R Block, 2 Trek Red Truck, 1 Glotman Simpson & 1 Team Exergy with Sebastian. A very good sneaky slip by the riders. I was covering Nic Hamilton in the peloton and felt good about having Sebastian up the road. The plan for the day included 1 chance for Sebastian to attack on one of the major climbs to try his hand, if unsuccessful, then he would help me bring it to a sprint finish (this would work well in a traditional tailwind ride); however this breakaway changed the plans and later in the day, a headwind picked up!

Along the upper levels highway (exiting Vancouver and approaching the Sea-to-Sea inlet highway), the break hovered 20-40 seconds up the road for the next 20 minutes. Once out on the coast line, the scenery was absolutely beautiful. By far one of the most beautiful races I have ever done. Hopefully in 10 years we can have our own Tour of Colorado-level race here in Southwestern British Columbia.

At this point some bridge attempts started so I my day started early in protecting the breakaway's advantage..."was it still 40 seconds? I can't see the break due to the twisting nature of the highway".

As we carved our way along the highway and up the inlet towards Squamish, I could see a group. We were catching them! Well I guess I now get ready for counterattacks. But once the gap fell to 15 seconds, I realized that it was in fact the women's field! AH! WHAT IS THE REAL GAP! 4 minutes? 2 minutes? 30 seconds?

I soon found out that the gap was 2.24 to five riders (apparently 1 had faded already), a nice gap that essentially didn't kill the race but also made the stress level fall a bit. At this point the riders settled in for accelerations on the main climbs and gap quickly rose to +4 minutes, essentially sealing the race for the breakaway unless there were some major strong guys hiding back in the peloton. It'll all come out in the wash though once we hit the climbs.

There were 3 major climbs on the schedule (3.5 minutes @ 9%, quickly followed by a 6 minute climb at 8%; then at half distance, a 10 minute @ 3% grade followed by two 3 minute bursts @ 8-10% (totaling a 20 minute climb). There were many more climbs of longer duration and easier grade but these three sections made up the most decisive tactical areas of the course.

On the first climb, the peloton caught the 1 rider dropped from the break and I could tell my climbing legs had indeed come around in the last four weeks. Staying close to the front in 4th wheel.

On the second climb I was again feeling marvelous despite some asthma tightness from the first climb (only five minutes rest).

At this point, unknown to the peloton and I, Sebastian flatted. The headwind (exact opposite of traditional wind) really started to blow at this time as well. The breakaway used Sebastian's flat to make his legs tired and upped the pace. So despite a quick change, Sebastian had to fight hard for 30 minutes to make up the ground. He caught the breakaway in the early sections of the third climb (out of Squamish, a false flat 3% grade into a block headwind) and then made a selection on the steepest sections of the climb, dropping the breakaway to 3 riders, 2 off the back.

Once the peloton reached this point, the gap was still +5 minutes so if anyone was going to go it was going to be now because 40km, over 1 hour & 3,000 feet of climbing remained into a block headwind. Nic surged again, taking two riders and myself clear over the summit of Brohm hill. Although mom woke up early and drove all the way down to hand out a musette bag at the Tantalus Lookout, we were going over 50km/hr so I couldn't get any water. Perhaps we can get that 2nd feed zone positioned in a different spot for next year's event. Nevertheless, the cool temperatures made the trip comfortable on only two bottles so it worked out.

With one more notable climb (10 minutes at 5-10%) Nic drove the pace and tried 1 attack, but ultimately our small chase group proved unsuccessful (3 of the 4 riders were already represented in the leading break). Hovering 30 seconds behind, the small 20 rider peloton re-connected with our chase @ 20km to go. This left 4 Trek Red Truck riders in the peloton, Louis Garneau 3, HR 1, Exergy 1, Jelly Belly 1 plus 20 other strong riders looking to escape. Coming into the final kilometres, multiple solo moves tried their hand.

At this point I was told there was a group of 3 with 2 riders popped, but they were still 4 minutes clear so the race for the money was over ($6000 available for Top 3 places). We caught 1 rider at 2km to go and in the sprint, despite riding in 3rd wheel around the final corner at 250 metres to go, my legs went square and I hobbled over the line somewhere around 10-12th. But I did a perfect job in the race so I was not disappointed about my sprint; I thought I raced exceptionally well considering my travel and racing earlier in the week.

Unfortunately Sebastian's earlier efforts caught up with him and he finished 4th, just out of the money. He was gutted. So he decided to travel to Washington state for Sunday's historical Mt. Baker Hill Climb...which he prompted crushed! YA BUDDY!

I was super stoked to have a good day of climbing on the bike and racing in my home town was a great way to finish up the season.

Off to Interbike next week for a short trip....then its back to enjoy the last few days of this Indian Summer before I launch my new spin classes at Whistler's premier gym facility, the Whistler Core.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!


Friday, 9 September 2011

2011 Sprint Challenge

I just got back from a quick visit to Quebec City. It was fabulous! Highlights of the event included enjoying buffet meals at the Chateau Frontenac in old town Quebec City, enjoying these meals in the midst of the best riders in the world, racing in a four up sprint competition in front of a very appreciative and enthusiastic crowd, great treatment and support from Canadian Cycling and the GPCQCM, narrowly missing the win in the Canadian Sprint Challenge, (faded in the final 10 metres) but still advancing to the widely televised Pro Tour Sprint Challenge in which Gerald Ciolek (QuickStep) and Fabian Wegmann (Leopard Trek) threw down some serious watts to eliminate my tired legs.

Mathieu Boucher (Canadian Cycling) made the trip a great experience and I even got a chance to meet Canadian legend Steve Bauer (Team Spidertech powered by C10) on the podium.

It was a great day for my track racing bud Remi Pelletier-Roy. In the final of three sprints (12 Canadian riders, with top two advancing each heat, with top two of final advancing to ProTour sprint challenge immediately following), the four of us played cat and mouse. Out of the start ramp, I led for the first 200 metres (pulled the short straw). Screaming down the 6% grade witha 25km/hr wind at our backs, I grabbed a first full of brake as soon as could and topgunned to the back of the group. Once around the cones at the bottom, a 430 metre slog to the line, $1000 dollars and a spot in the ProTour race hovered up the road under the colorful array of finish banners. Cat and mouse ensued. None of us wanted to lead out the sprint considering the strong headwind.

After a few false accelerations and more jockeying, I finally launched my move at 230 metres to go from the back of the 4 man group. I almost established a gap off the start but then just looked to the line. I thought I was cleared but as I looked back under my bike at 30 metres to go, I saw Remi coming by. I didn't hear him at all, I thought I had had it wrapped up! Damn!

But it was good anyway because it was his home town race, he went on to advance all the way to the semi-finals in the ProTour event and with my second place I would still get to participate in the big show. We were quickly whisked off for television interviews, podium ceremonies and then promptly tossed into the ProTour opening rounds. Facing off against the extremely experience Fabian Wegmann (Leopard-Trek) and the German phenom Gerald Ciolek (QuickStep), my tired legs had their work cut out for them. Wagmann attacked very early and I didn't know what to make of it. I was told originally that only 1 rider would advance in the ProTour event (because of the increased number of heats) so I was confused why Ciolek let him go, of course I quickly figured out that I must have been mistaken however it was too late and Ciolek was already stuck to my rear wheel. It was fascinating to compare my power files between the efforts, perhaps if my legs were fresher I would have been able to avoid opening a gap in the earliest parts of the sprint.

All in all, uphill sprints make sure the strongest rider wins but they do take a toll on the body. My back went out later that night and it was a bit of a difficult travel home in time for the RBC Whistler Gran Fondo on Saturday morning.

A bit shout out to Westjet stewards Marilyn, Sharon, Erica and Kendo! We flew to and from Quebec City together on Wednesday and Friday and they were super awesome, with extra cookies, plane-wide announcements about Team Exergy and helping me find extra space on the place to rest my tired legs.

ProTour Sprint Challenge:

Brian from Veloimages keeping it real (can you find the Exergy?)

Canadian Cyclist: With some Exergy love

Front Cover of Quebec City's biggest newspaper: La Soliel


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Rise of the Road Warrior @Whistler Pique

Great article on the battle between mountain biking and road cycling in Whistler, tips on riding safety and insight into professional racing.

Thanks Vince!


Monday, 5 September 2011

Indian Summer

Riding bikes with Mom & Dad


Friday, 2 September 2011

Bike Chatter

I got a chance to ride with my new teammate Sebastian Selas today for the first time since he joined the team for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (in which he of course rode exceptionally well). We ventured through downtown Vancouver and out Marine drive to Horseshoe Bay, a route I have never ridden, under glorious skies and a cool breeze. It looked and felt kind of like this....
As we ducked and dove through traffic, pedaled and coasted between lights, took in the sights of the big city and the nearly complete BC Place renovation (I think it looks cool, whereas others may disagree) we chatted about his August, riding as a professional, training in Vancouver and of course the future. These small gaps in the conversation were ideal though as it gave us time to figure out what next to discuss...they are always more questions and stories than your ride has time for so you might as well talk about the fun stuff. It's a great way to keep the conversation moving smoothly. Try to stop talking mid sentence at a coffee shop...kind of weird.

Another reason why riding bikes is all about people.

I leave you with Team Exergy's brand new commercial supporting our FANTASTIC wheel sponsor for 2011...WILLIAMS WHEELS. By now I don't even need to tell you how fast these things are...because you should have figured it out by now.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Routine? Or Not?

Since I polished up the bike and revved up the old training machine these last few days, I've been focusing hard of re-establishing my routine. I feel it is important to establish a daily rhythm; when I stress my body with new stimuli on the bike, at least it has a routine off the bike it can relate to.

One such example is breakfast. After a vacation of tasty cereal and homemade muffins, I'm back on the oatmeal program. I used oatmeal to prepare for every day of training over the winter and it provides a flavourful option rich in fibre. Of course I use yogurt, flax meal, flax seed oil, raisins (can you believe that raisins are actually just dried grapes! who would thought?) and honey to spice it up.

Why? To start with, I can't stress enough how important it is to eat breakfast. Second, that your breakfast choices leave you prepared for the day ahead. Minimizing the glycemic index swing of each meal is an important trick to maintaining a consistent metabolism and controlling your hunger meter. Oatmeal with flax seed oil is a great way to do this. Eat healthy fats = body will burn fat.


New and exciting coaching program overhaul coming very soon! I'm looking forward to helping you find a routine that works for you.

Here are Molly Blust's thoughts from last season. Molly improved from a rider with 1 year experience to a Collegiate podium finisher in the Women's D2 Team Time Trial.

"I also wanted to thank you again for all your training, help, and support last year. You have totally changed the way I think about riding and training. When I first started working with you I would often ask myself while I was out riding, "What would Ben do?" This could have been if I didn't feel like doing one of my intervals or didn't quite wear enough clothes, etc... And while I would usually come up with an answer that would keep me healthy and safe, it was still the answer that I thought you would come up with. As I continued to use your training program I got to know my body and how far I could push myself as well as what I needed to be healthy and rested. I stopped asking myself what Ben would do and started asking myself "What should I to do keep MYSELF healthy and safe?" I started making decisions based on what I had learned about myself and my body from your training program and this has definitely made me a much stronger and more confident rider. You were always there when I had a question or a problem. You helped me get through the stress of thinking I had broken my wrist, supported me when I got back on the bike, and helped rebuild my confidence in the corners. You gave me confidence in going to nationals even though I had a couple rough weeks leading up to it and the email you sent me about what I should do/think about the day of the TTT was one that I read multiple times because it both inspired and pumped me up."