Cycling in a Toque

Cycling in a Toque: December 2011

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Rad Wanderung

For some of us, it's skiing. For some of us it's cycling. Whatever you do, do it with passion, exuberance and panache. Grab life by the horns and live! Move!

This one goes out to Duncan Mackenzie, a ski patrol from Whistler who lost his life doing that which he loved so much. I was fortunate enough to play soccer with Duncan for two seasons in the Whistler Summer Soccer League. He was always a fierce competitor on the pitch and brought life to the after parties. Thank you Duncan for sharing your passion. You will be missed.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

La Stelvio

This week the gladiators of winter descended upon the north-facing Stelvio slope in Bormio, Italy. Known as one the most dangerous courses on the circuit. Racers complete the 3.1km (2 mile) course in just 120 seconds, dropping 1000 metres (3000 feet) to reach the highest average speeds in the entire World Cup calendar of approximately 100kph (70mph). "With nearly two thousand years of history and a thousand years of welcoming visitors, thanks mainly to the thermal springs where the Romans used to unwind, Bormio is...firmly set in alpine folklore" (FISSKI).

Helmet Cam

Full Race HD


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Surviving the Holidays

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Stars fade. A faint ridge of black emerges against the dark blue abyss. As breakfast arrives, the details of the alpine become clear, white against warming blue.

The sun's rays pop into sight, just over the snake of red tail lights. The valley's overnight chill valiantly clings to life as the air vents clear the car windscreen. The mountain, once as cold and as dark as the valley, now awakens with the promise of warm and light.

Finally at the peak, the mountain is quiet; no wind wisks or clouds cover. The runs are vacant, except for only the early risers to which there are fortunately few. Horizontal patterns of groomed trails lie underfoot.

Short and crisp arcs.

Dynamic Standing.





Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas Trees

"If it's under the power lines, it's far game", at least that's what they say. Of course in order to justify any cut, tree density, age and projected lifespan all must be considered.

Armed with old ski clothing (to fend off sap and pitch), some bungie cords and a saw, we head off into the bush for the tree. A pine will do in a pinch but a Douglas Fir is much preferred.

Sifting through the waist-deep drifts, one leg powers in front of the other as the steep hillside disappears underneath and the roar of the highway fades. The late afternoon sun squints out from the horizon; the time pressure of its inevitable sunset couples with the desire to sneak away from the highway as quickly as possible, so as to keep our favourite tree spot hidden from those traveling below.

Failure is unexceptable. If unlucky, one must continue to search. Good Hunting this holiday season!

Darren with Ace


Saturday, 17 December 2011


Been reading again...this time on Coyle's Talent Code. Interesting insight from this associated NY Times article on the power of failure in the pursuit of success. Enjoy!

Also, the video below is a great way to enjoy your day.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Cyclocross Winter Camp

One of the big talking points of the US cyclocross scene this year is the move of the National Championships to early January. I was fortunate to participate in the 2007 and 2009 Championships as a collegiate rider and by moving the race 3 weeks later there have been some major implications. I'm opening up a forum here if you would like to comment, here is a list of some of the pros and cons that I can see by this move.


1) Help the US's top CX stars better prepare for the World Championships (late January).
2) Help the US's top CX stars better prepare for the 2013 World Championships scheduled for Louisville, Kentucky.


1) Members of the Junior Cyclocross Christmas Camp will have to decide between attending the camp, flying home halfway through for Nationals or staying in the states to race 1 event.
2) Collegiate riders are on winter break and will not attend at regular levels
3) The season for amateur riders is now too long...extending into usual resting time before road season. Proof? Registration is down from 2,000 to 400 from December 2010 to January 2012.

Please discuss!

Here is the link for the absolutely fantastic photo essay of the December 2010 Belgian Cross Camp.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Fjord

A breath-taking film of backcountry skiing on Baffin Island with Marcus Waring, one of my friends from the ski racing days.

Super stoked for ya Marcus!


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Team Roster

On Monday, USA CYCLING finally announced the teams and rosters for the 2012 North Amercian professional circuit. Although we announced our roster a few weeks ago via Peloton Magazine with this classy article, I never introduced the new riders. But since I haven't meet them yet, it would be a bit short sighted for me to try!

But come the end of January, the whole team will be meeting up in Boise, Idaho once again as we conduct the team's 2nd annual sponsor camp so I'll have a better grips on my new teammates. Instead of saying the same old same old...that I'm super excited about the season and all, instead I'll just leave you with some super wicked team banners. You can download these on the team website here. In other team news, the jerseys and undergoing some small changes but no knows what they'll look like. I'll guess we'll have to wait for Monovich to unveil the goods at camp in Boise.

Kai launches at the US Pro Challenge
Carlos wins in Manhatten Beach

Gallery of Team Exergy's Development: Scroll forward for a review of 2011 OR Scroll backwards to watch the team's development since 2010!


Monday, 12 December 2011


Although I did get my fix of Walla Walla's gravel roads and endless wheat fields these past few weeks, I didn't arrive quite soon enough. I missed out on the best time of the year...October. Why? Because that is the month that Charles Stanger finishes up his annual modifications to his infamous cyclocross courses.

This year the rider-tall wheat field maze was hardly a standout feature as Charles re-sculpted the hill-climb as the exit of the 2nd river crossing (that's right, I said cross the river twice every 8 minutes!) and finally constructed his long-planned triple overpass! Tailored with perfect angles, riders never touched the brakes and finished the obstacle with a healthy amount of airtime after emerging from the depths of the final under section.

But over the past five years Charles has done more than create one of wicked cyclocross courses in the Northwest US. He has created a legacy in Walla Walla by welcoming new people into the sport of cycling through the muddy and relaxed atmosphere of cyclocross. His own passion for the sport is hard to match whether he is out there crushing it on a vintage bike that doesn't want to stay together...or making noise on the sidelines. he is making his own bike frames! Build your own legacy in your town! And if you need a kickstart, maybe you should just buy one of his frames instead!

But don't take it from is a real publication's insight!

And now for something totally different...speaking of legacies....

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Saturday, 10 December 2011


Some people say we're crazy...we take so much risk. Whether it be in training or in racing, bicycle racing is nuts. We push our bodies and more importantly our minds to new limits everyday in the hopes and blind faith that we will grow and improve as a result of those specific training stresses. But why do we do it? Did some of us just jump out of the womb fighting? Well maybe! And if not then it must have taken one hell of a moment, person or event to inspire us to take upon the challenge of a cycling lifestyle.

I was always inspired to keep pushing because of the support of my family and today I've arrived home after my six week "dry-roads" training tour. The trip was a great success but it wouldn't have been without the support of my family. I do not mean just Mom, Dad and Darren, who I am very excited to spend time with over the next 3 weeks, but everyone I stayed with, rode alongside and reconnected with during my travels.

In order to succeed, you must create a group that will help push you to the next level everyday. And so I finished my tour with a visit to Kay Barga's Grade 2 class in Walla Walla. Four years ago, Kay and I started the Edison Bike Safety Rodeos so it was very special for me to spend a few moments of Friday afternoon with her class answering the questions of the excited, inquisitive and extremely attentive students.

If you can dream, you can do it! Dream Big Edison Elementary!

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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ski Well Simply

Dad has been working hard these past three seasons and has quietly started a little revolution on the slopes. By focusing on basic motor movements and concepts that skiers of all ability levels can grasp, he has had great success as both a mountain guide and a ski instructor.

Now in it's third edition with referrals from all of the biggest names in Whistler's rich ski history, be sure to pick up your own copy of Dad's short but indepth look at how to Ski Well Simply! Available at the Armchair Books (Whistler Village), Whistler Blackcomb Can Ski Outlets or online here.

Watch this short video to learn more about Dad's simply techniques to helping you towards more efficient skiing = more energy through the entire day and better value for your lift ticket!


Monday, 5 December 2011

Couse Creek

Mud-smeared bartape offers the final layer of protection for the rigid, aluminum handlebar but provides little in the way of damping as the washboard and stone-littered service road descends out beyond my front wheel into oblivion. Extending away at now 15%, the opposing valley of Walla Walla floods my view, despite the setting sun's best efforts to curb my sight with deceiving shadows, flying out laterally like a bat spreading its wings before flight, and the sting of its red brilliance, creeping into between my cheek bones and the end of my sunglasses.

The night is coming and the snow-lined gravel trail is far from over, in fact I still cannot see the palousian hill which comes before that other palousian hill which leads to the paved road home. Suddenly my rear wheel grinds to a halt. Broken spoke? Flat tire? I am not far from sunset but still 2000 ft above home and 20 kilometres. I quickly but carefully dismount and flip my winter steed on its end. Mud fills the braking mechanism and makes removing the wheel an arduousness chore my thin cyclist's arms trouble with. Bike vacant of one leg, nothing seems the matter but upon close inspection the fender has become caked with mud. Yet at first sight, it seemed inmplausible as the color of the mud had stolen that of my tire, black as the approaching night.

Removing my glove I scrap my finger along the inside of the plastic full-rear fender. Whenever I think I am done and that the rest of the surface is merely more fender, I double check and find that it is in fact more hardened Earth. Fingers stained, white bibs stained, white frame stained, I cleanse my machine of such retched Earth, alien and unappreciated when layered upon my model of efficiency and progress. Upon its careful re-install, my iron-horse is once again fitted with its two legs and I continue down the mountain, leaving only a small stain of 2 thin indented lines amidst an otherwise hardened landscape.

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Friday, 2 December 2011

Holiday Wish List

Before the 2011 year comes to an end, I wanted to pass along this first-class look at the Williams Wheel system that Team Exergy used in 2011. These wheels never let us down and Keith worked tirelessly to provide us with the best product. My wheels were stiff, responsive and durable without ever compensating safety.

These should be at the top of the holiday wish list! Thanks Keith!

.Looking for more cool gifts for your cycling loved ones? Here's a keeper!