(Note:  You might remember when I alluded to another experiment in order to test the results that we determined during the fight-fighting testing I was a part of (click HERE).  The premise being that if overall improvement in extremely hot and shitty environments is more a mental thing than it is physical, how do you improve someone’s mental ability exactly?  This is that experiment.)

For the past two years, I’ve had the fortunate – or ‘unfortunate’, depending on how you want to look at it – opportunity to participate as a research volunteer at the Brock University Kinesiology Department.  This department, headed by Dr. Stephen Cheung, also just happens to be on the cutting edge of sporting science, so getting to be a test monkey as part of something with that scope of importance is a real privilege in my opinion.

Anyway, as such, I’ve undergone some pretty intense experiments in the past, both physically and mentally, in order to improve our understanding of human performance and the limits of our endurance.  I’ve had various sharp pointy things inserted into my arm, had my body scrutinized and measured for all posterity, seen my precious life fluids including blood and sweat (and tears for that matter) vacated forcibly from my body, and been subjected to insane heat and humidity in that god forsaken oven during the tests themselves (click HERE  for a lengthy recap).  Basically I’ve stoically suffered whatever tortures and indignities that were deemed as either important or necessary to the project, and probably some that weren’t but only served to further humor my tormentors.

Just kidding, of course, they’re really nice guys…I think.

Oh, and let’s not forget the probe.

So when I got the message from Phil, the Principle Student Investigator (PSI), asking me to undergo yet another run of the gauntlet, it was with mixed emotions that I accepted the invite.  Shit, after that last firefighters test, surely, I can endure anything  (nearly a year later, it’s not uncommon to wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares of being cooked alive).  I’m not really sure what it says about me as a person that I like, no love, being a part of scientific testing that is in part geared towards breaking you down physically and mentally in order to see what makes you tick.  Truthfully, I think I may be developing some bizarre case of sado-masochistic pleasure from performing as a lab rat and I’m sure there will be some professional counseling in my near future.

All that aside, I agreed to participate in the latest (and greatest) ‘Effects of Mental Skills Training on Endurance Performance and Cognitive Function in the Heat’  study.

Doesn’t that sound like a real page turner?

In a nutshell, the test is designed to determine whether or not a psychological intervention can improve endurance performance and cognitive function in the heat.  Oh goodie.  I’m good with my limited athletic prowess being exposed but, well, let’s just say that what lies between these two ears may not exactly paint a pretty picture.  In other words, I’m hoping that this research doesn’t also expose me as being a total and complete moron.

What have I gotten myself into?

Day 1: Anthropometric Measurements, Cognitive Tests and Maximal Aerobic Capacity Testing

This is sure going to suck to get off

This is sure going to suck to get off

Similar to the other studies I’ve been part of, it’s necessary to get a baseline of my physiology and athletic ability.  What this really means is that they’re going to poke and prod my body fat and then subject me to approximately 15 minutes of torture on a bike.


The differences this time around is that 1) there were no cute female PhD students to do the actual poking and prodding of fat folds (thank GOD!), and 2) I also had to complete an initial assessment of my cognitive abilities by answering a questionnaire and then work on what’s known as a “Purdue Pegboard”.

Sadly, it has nothing to do with pirates.

The first “anthropometric measurements” step is no big deal as this certainly isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to having my fat marked up with a Crayola marker and then being pinched with cold metal instruments; no sweat.  The second step with the “Purdue Pegboard” was certainly more entertaining though.

Now, if you consult the Interweb thingee you will learn:

“The Purdue Pegboard is a neuropsychological test of manual dexterity and bimanual coordination created by Dr. Joseph Tiffin, an Industrial Psychologist at Purdue University, designed the test in 1948.”

Now that’s all well and good but, really, what it is?  Well, what it really means is that I have to build little “castles” out of little metal pieces (“pins”, “collars” and “washers”) to test the gross movements of my arms, hands, and fingers, and my fine motor extremity, also called “fingerprint” dexterity.”  Poor Pegboard performance is a sign of deficits in complex, visually guided, or coordinated movements that are likely mediated by circuits involving the basal ganglia.  Yeah, yeah, I already hear you: “What’s ‘basal ganglia’ Terry”?

It sounds dirty, I know.

It’s not.

Basal ganglia are little nuclei in the brain that are strongly associated with a variety of functions including: control of voluntary motor movements, procedural learning, routine behaviors or “habits” such as bruxism (excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw), eye movements, cognition and emotion.

To start, I was given three attempts to build as many little metallic castles as I could within a 60 second period.  A castle consists of 4 parts, 1 pin, 1 collar, 2 washers for a total score of 4 points if completed successfully.  So, say, if six complete assemblies are made then your total score would be 24.  But if a castle is incomplete, then you only score 1 point for each part that was properly assembled.  If, say, only the 1 washer and pin on a seventh castle are properly placed you add each part separately (i.e. 24 plus 2, or 26 total); something like that anyway, I dunno. I’m no rocket scientist – clearly.  If you really want more information on how to score this damn thing click HERE, but all you really need to know is that in three attempts my best score on the pegboard was 34, which probably puts me somewhere between a coconut and a chimpanzee.


Pass the banana.

Anyway, time for the main attraction.

Bring on the oven.

I’ve been through this same test once before coming off my Ironman peak in 2013, and given (I feel) that my fitness hasn’t been particularly on point since that time, I was little apprehensive about what today’s results were going to say about my current fitness.  I’ve spent considerable time in the pool in the past six months and my run fitness is just  beginning to come back after last year’s total and complete breakdown at the Incredoubleman Triathlon but I haven’t really spent any considerable time on the bike.  I spin 2-3 times a week with one session being a tough 90 minute Master’s class but, aside from that that, I haven’t focused too much on it instead preferring to wait for the nicer weather before amping up my cycling program.  So, yeah, what my fitness level is going to be as a result of being on the Velotron bike is anybody’s guess.

Remember then that the entire point of this test is to have my level of aerobic fitness determined through an actual scientific means.  To do that I am fixed with a soft silicone face mask to breathe through to the point of exhaustion in order to obtain my peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) and maximum heart rate.   The improvement this time around is that the lab has been reequipped with a fancier and better fitting mask that wasn’t quite so uncomfortable or difficult to breathe in.

Check it out.


Am I beautiful or what?

Once the test began, I was required to warm up at 100 watts on the Velotron for 3 minutes before 25 watts were added each minute until the point of total burnout.  Everything felt pretty good for the first 11 or 12 minutes or so, as what time I do spend on the bike I train at my 75-80% threshold level.  But by the 13 minute mark (350 watts) I was clearly suffering and shortly after passing the 14 minute mark (375 watts), I tapped out.

Here are the results:

V02-Max Results

This result is, well, as odd as it was unexpected.  After analyzing the data, it was determined that my Absolute VO2 equated to 3.10 l/min, which represents a HUGE improvement of 0.93 l/min  over my last test. My relative VO2peak , however, only improved by a minimal amount to 41.9 ml/kg/min (rounded to 42.0 ml/kg/min).

Why you ask?

The short answer is because I’m fat; nearly 22 lbs worth.

Now, had I maintained my Ironman weight from just over three years ago, theoretically speaking, my VO2peak  would have been approximately 46 ml/kg/min, or in the “Superior” classification as opposed to today’s meager “Good” effort.  Or would it?

There is also the theory that by losing too much weight I will also lose some of the strength I’ve acquired; what to do…what to do.

So, yeah, basically, the official result is that I’m fatter but fitter.  Go figure.  This is definitely going to factor in later this year when I begin to strategize about what my “ideal” race weight should be.  Do I focus on dropping weight and therefore roll the dice in regards to maintaining my current level of fitness, or do I focus more on improving my fitness at (or around) my current level of fatness?

Decisions, decisions…

To summarize, I now have lots of motivation to improve this result through the quickly approaching coming season as I start to build into more speed/pace based workouts.  I may never be up there with the greats (click HERE), but in my own mind I’m already becoming a legend.

Chimps beware!

Day 2: Familiarization Testing

Its one week later and I’m back in the lab ready for the first familiarization session.  The thing is that this time around I’m also playing Dad as I have HRH  in tow because, hey, what 10-year-old girl doesn’t love watching her half naked step dad being fixed up with wires and electrodes prior to being tortured in a meat locker?   It may not exactly be a picnic lunch at the zoo but, still, good times.

The real crazy thing is that she was actually looking forward to seeing me “suffer” and had been talking about for days in advance.  I’m not sure what I’ve done as a parent to warrant this kind of excitement but, whatever, she’s along for the ride today.

According to the Consent Form:

“A familiarization trial will be scheduled prior to the commencement of the two experimental sessions to ensure that you are able to fulfill the requirements of the exercise protocol.”

It get's a wee bit humid.

It get’s a wee bit humid.

You can basically interpret this as a “Hey, this is how bad it’s going to suck. Think you can handle it tough guy?”  type of statement.

The session is intended to be identical to the actual experimental session to follow in a few weeks.  The environmental chamber (aka “the oven”) will be set to 35°C with 50% relative humidity, which may not seem like a lot but, believe me, it is.

To begin with, there’s the usual “preparation” routine that I’ve been through before on the other two testing sessions.  This process involves having all my baseline measurements done and providing a urine sample to record my over all body euhydration (normal state of body water content), not to mention getting all fixed up to a bevy of instruments including skin temperature/heat flow censors and, yes, there is that rectal probe to deal with as well (Oh, and for the record I didn’t exactly let HRH  in on the probe thing as, well, it didn’t seem like it was something appropriate to “bond” over).  Fortunately though, this whole probe business is old hat by this point.

Okay, maybe not quite like that.

No, I won’t say it’s like being reunited with an old friend but, well, let’s just say that if this whole lab rat thing doesn’t work out I definitely have a promising future as a drug mule.

Once I was all connected up, I also needed to establish a baseline for my overall mood using a Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS) Questionnaire.  The BRUMS is a 24-item questionnaire of simple mood descriptors such as angry, nervous, unhappy, and energetic.  It has six subscales, with each of the subscales containing four mood descriptors including anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, tension, and vigor.  For the record, my mood was pretty good. Again what this says about me as a person in that I enjoy being experimented on I’m not really sure.  But I digress.

Groton maze testing

Groton maze testing

Following the questionnaire, I was required to work through a Cognitive Test Battery (CTB) on a computer tablet to assess my cognitive abilities.  These tests (designed by Cogstate Research) consist of what’s known as a ‘Groton Maze Learning Task’, a ‘Detection Task’,  and a ‘Two Back Task’.

The ‘Groton Maze Learning Task’ (actually a series of two tests, ‘Maze Learning’ and ‘Set Shifting Task’) tests my executive functions which include working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, and problem solving abilities.  The ‘Detection Task’ which, easily enough, required me to hit a single key on the keyboard whenever the Joker on a deck of cards appears on the desktop (Disclaimer: it appears every time), tests my reaction time, while the ‘Two Back Task’ tests my working memory and attention skills.

Now, given my current lacking of technical prowess given I don’t owe a cell phone so I don’t text or play video games, etc., these tablet tests – while still basic – took some time general getting used to. I’m sure for HRH  it must have been like watching the monkey’s with the obelisk in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.   Basically, I felt like whatever banana I had earned with the Purdue Pegboard on my last visit to the lab was just taken away from me.  I hate computers and computer testing at the best of times and I wasn’t terribly confident in how I performed and, in my mind, I think I might have even heard monkeys laughing at me.

Purdue Peg Board

Purdue Peg Board

Computers just arn’t my jam.

Anyway, after the cognitive tests were complete (20 minutes or so) it was time to get in the oven; time to suffer.

Suffer I can do.

The trial protocol consisted of two exercise bouts, and two identical rest periods during which I would do more cognitive testing.  Throughout the protocol I had to wear the same soft-silicon mask that I wore during the V02-Max test to continue to monitor my ventilation and metabolic data throughout the two exercise rounds.  And, not to jump too far ahead, but this would inevitably be the worst part when the heat and humidity began to kick in.

The first exercise protocol consisted of a 5 minute cycling warm up at 100 watts followed by 25 minutes set to 60% of my “Peak Performance Output” (PPO) that we determined during the VO2-Max test last week (210 watts). Compared to my past runs in the oven, this particular session didn’t hold a candle “suffer-wise”.  That’s not to say however that is was “easy” either. No, spinning in that kind of hot and humid environment while wearing and breathing through a silicon tube is never fun and soon enough the sweat began to pour.

And let me tell you when all you have it this to focus on:


Time grinds down to an absolute haul, let me tell you.  My only reprieve from the whole thing was seeing HRH’s face appear periodically in the oven’s window as she peeked in to monitor my “suffering”.  So after 30 minutes of spinning, sweating and playing peek-a-boo, I was removed from the bike, weighed, and draped in a bright yellow rain poncho to preserve my core temperature as much as possible.


If I wasn’t sweating before, I sure as shit was now!

I felt like a BBQ-ed steak that had been left out to rest.

Oven selfie

Oven selfie

During this rest period (30 minutes) I wasn’t allowed to leave the oven, but asked to perform the same mood (BRUMS) and cognitive (CTB) tests as before.  From what I recall, neither my mood or cognitive abilities with the tests changed much; I was still happy and dumb as mud.

Yay me!

The second exercise bout was intended to be a “Time to Exhaustion (TTE)” test performed at 80% of my PPO (280 watts) after an initial 5 minute warm up at 125 watts.  The premise is very easy: cycle your ass off until you drop.  Yup, this was definitely going to suck.

Basically, it works like this: exercise (i.e. my suffering) would only stop due to volitional fatigue, if my cadence should drop below 60 rpm  for more than 5 seconds, or my core temperature reaches 40°C for 1 minute (talk about “hot shit”!), or my heart rate exceeded 95% of my maximum for 3 minutes.  So basically, anything that indicates you’re mere seconds away from death itself would count as viable grounds for stoppage.  Awesome!  Furthermore, there was to be no motivation queues provided aside from being asked for my RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) on the Borg Scale (taped to the wall in front of me) every 2 minutes.

Making matters worse, is that the whole thing was being filmed.

But that will have to wait for another post.




I had assumed at the time that the best strategy was to begin spinning slowly at approximately 65-70 rpm  figuring that I could maintain that particular cadence for a while.  The problem being (or so I learned anyway), was that once I began to fade there really wasn’t much wiggle room in regards to lowering my cadence any, which is exactly what happened.

Everything went fine initially and I felt pretty good, despite the conditions and mask and stuff, but when I began to struggle cardio-wise, it was quick, slippery slope into painful torment.  Part of the problem is that as a requirement of the test, I wasn’t able to stand up at any point.  Usually, on the road when you climb in a heavy gear you can give yourself a quick break by shifting the primary working muscle group by standing up and then being seated again.  Here, there was none of that; it was ass in the saddle all the way.  So when my working muscles started to go, they went…fast.

Now I have no idea how long I lasted, but I’m estimating approximately 10-12 minutes including the warm up based on how many times my RPE were requested.  Of course, it might have been 30 seconds…who knows.  In essence, though, it went something like this:





Tap Out.

Just like that.

Die I did, much to HRH’s enjoyment.

I will admit, I was a bit disappointed with myself and I made a mental plan to last longer by incorporating a quicker cadence to start off with and then gradually wind ‘er down when the legs begin to fail afterwards; more on that strategy to come.

Anyway, immediately following this, it was time to don the poncho and complete another round of mood and cognitive testing.  This time, however, it was significantly more difficult I can assure you. In fact, the ‘Two Back Test’  pretty much kicked my ass and I was more or less just tapping at the keyboard with reckless abandon.  I was hot, uncomfortable, and didn’t really give a shit if the card was a Queen, Jack, or 10 of Spades.  I simply didn’t give a shit, nor could I if I wanted to.  However, I think I did make the ‘Groton Maze Learning Test’ my bitch.  Again…go figure.

Only time will tell I suppose.

Day 3: Experimental Session #1

Now that the preliminary VO2peak  and familiarization sessions are over with, it’s time to get on with the real festivities; the actual exercise protocols themselves.   Yup, it’s time to get medieval, time to officially put my suffering in the books, it’s go time, or whatever other popular euphemism you wish to use to associate with the underlying message of “time to put or shut up”.

Needless to say, everything else up to this point was just for shits n’ giggles.

Anyway, by now the whole pee, probe and final shuffle of shame are just part of the ordinary “business as usual” drill, every bit as routine as brushing your teeth in the morning.  Of course, I’m not shoving flexible core thermometers up my ass most mornings, but I digress.


All bid’ness.

There is very little else to describe at this point that I haven’t already haven’t discussed in the previous familiarization session; 30 minutes set to 60% of my “Peak Performance Output” (210 watts) and a balls-to-the-wall “Time to Exhaustion (TTE)” test performed at 80% of my PPO (280 watts). Before, between and after each exercise protocol there is also the series of cognitive tests that I’ve described already as well.  Oh, and let’s not forget the yellow poncho to keep me as uncomfortable as possible – you know, just because.  Seriously, you’d think these lab nerds lay awake at night under their Star Wars bed sheets conjuring up ways to torture me.  Sometimes, I think this is all part of some elaborate ruse and at the bottom of some resume somewhere, there’s “making Terry suffer”  listed underneath the heading ‘Interests and Hobbies’.  Of course, I still willfully participate as a volunteer and no one is holding a gun to my head but when the going certainly turns shitty, well, let’s just say that sometimes I wonder.

As per usual, the only stimulus I am ever afforded are the three charts in front of me with which to gauge my RPE and overall discomfort.  There’s no encouragement (visual or otherwise), no chuckles, no giggles…no nothing.

It’s all bid’ness.

How’s that for “comforting”, right?

move over chimps

Move over chimps.

Same as the previous familiarization session, the first 30 minutes are boring as all fuck; total bag of dicks where I sit pedaling aimlessly, breathing into my mask in the hot and humid environment and trying not to think about how incredibly boring and shitty it is.  Basically, I just try to visualize my inner happy place from underneath my silicon mask which, for the record, just happens to be a nice pub in a remote countryside somewhere that serves decent beer, a complimentary bowl of nuts and an amazing cheeseburger.   Just sayin’.  Then I do some more cognitive testing on the tablet, sit around for a bit in the heat n’ shit and, finally, jump back on the bike for the eventual opening of the Gates of Hell.

Good times indeed.

I’d like to think I did a bit better this time around then I did in my familiarization session, but I had no real way to know for sure. All I know is that it sucked equally and unequivocally; ‘suck’ is the only constant variable in these types of tests.  In fact, I tried a bit of a different approach to my TTE in that I periodically spun my cadence up a bit from time to time to try and take advantage of the momentum generated in the pedals (not that there’s much momentum on a Velotron bike, mind you) to rest a bit but, honestly, what little rest there was inconsequential to the constant punishment being inflicted on my quads and I eventually tapped out – as I do – thoroughly broken and exhausted.

Yay me!

Mental note to self: the worst part of the testing (inserting the probe) also turns out to be the best part when you get to remove it later. The lesson here though is to avoid any bowel movements prior to inserting for at least an hour or so before testing, otherwise you end up extracting something from your ass that looks like this:Sorry…I couldn’t resist.

So here’s where the interesting part comes in.

Following this first exercise protocol, participants are then randomly divided into two categories.  For the Control group, nothing changes and in two weeks’ time they return to the oven to complete their second protocol just as before.  The second Test group, of which I was selected, will have some additional homework to do in the days (week) before showing up to complete the second protocol.

That’s right – homework.

The premise goes along the lines that scientific studies have already proven that individuals tend to perform better when they feel confident and motivated during high-energy activity.  They feel better about themselves and consequentially try harder and keep going when that going gets difficult.

I know, I know…”but everyone knows that already, Terry”.  And I agree.  But I think most often, people will tend to associate this type of motivational affirmation in this kind of light:

I know I did, or used to anyway.

But, in reality, it’s much more challenging than that.

Thinking happy thoughts

Thinking happy thoughts

For me, this whole “positive self-talk” has proven to be a very difficult, particularly given some of the setbacks I’ve experienced lately.  By comparison, I used to be able to tackle extremely difficult workouts prior to Ironman Wales simply by positively willing myself through them, but since then, I tend to beat myself up more with negativity; negativity regarding my not being able to perform at the same level, for not being in the same peak fitness, etc.  You could say that my confidence has been rattled and while I accept that as part of the current path I’m on and, hopefully, my confidence will return at some point, in the meantime…I continue to struggle.  I still persevere and do my best through all my prescribed workouts, but I’m not rocking them as I used to.  I suspect that this negativity has a lot to do with it.

Lest we forget: click HERE.

So, consequentially, these negative thoughts are really doing me no favors…and Lord knows I have a lot of them.  I am my own worst enemy in this regard.  In fact, any negative thought I might have associated with the difficulty of the task, any unpleasant sensation that I might be experiencing or the level of effort and motivation towards the end goal during any moderate and high-intensity activities tend only to interfere with the optimal performance of the task.  And God knows that cycling in that god forsaken oven would definitely qualify in all those categories.

So, I have now been officially tasked in identifying these negative thoughts and record them in what I am now referring to as my ‘Big Book of Suck’, and then counteract them with more beneficial motivational “self-talk” statements that will ultimately help maintain or improve my level of effort and coordinate my performance towards achieving the best possible performance; namely, surviving a single minute (or more) longer in the oven when the Gates of Hell are opened and the Suck begins to pile up.

On a personal note, the implications of this study are huge, as if I can determine what my “limiters” are motivation-wise through this exercise and then be able to counteract them with more positive inspirational self-talk, then I might be able to get myself back on my way to acquiring that same level of confidence that I had once before.

In this ‘Big Book of Suck’ there are some activities to help me craft my own unique motivation self-talk statements to use in the oven during both my exercise protocols, as well as my cognitive testing, when those other nasty negative comments begin to rear their ugly head and bubble to the surface.

The first thing to do is to identify examples of negative comments that cross my mind while I’m in the oven.  Now, I told you before that when it comes to elf-depreciation, I am an absolutely black belt, so listing every negative thought that goes through my head during those 45 minutes or so in the oven was fairly easy.  Likewise, there’s not enough bandwidth on these blog pages to list them all so I’ve captured a few of the more popular one’s for you:

  1. You’re out of shape
  2. What’s wrong with you?
  3. This sucks.
  4. I’m not good enough to be here.
  5. You’re a loser.

And the ever popular…

  1. I bet I look fat in these bib shorts.

When it came to the cognitive testing, the negativity was condensed into a single phrase: “You’re an idiot.”

It’s true.  When it comes to beating myself up I’m a true artist; I’m the Rembrandt of self-depreciation.  Negative commentary is just the primary tool with which I paint the wretched canvass of my soul.

Too much?

You get the idea though right?

Anyway, the next activity in the booklet challenged me to come up with some more positive phrases that I could use instead of those common negative statements, like “hang in there”, “dig deep”, or “you’re a winner!”   Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, as it turns out, it’s not as easy as you might think given I am not accustomed to pumping myself up regularly with “you’re a winner”, so I found coming up with statements particularly tailored to my own motivational drive challenging indeed.  But after considerable thought I came up with a few statements that I felt would be positive motivational when the wheels inevitably start to fall off.

The challenge now is to use, assess and then retool my suggested statements over the following week during 3 workouts, and then practice them to be as beneficial as possible come time to get back in the oven.

Here’s what I came up with for the exercise protocols:

  1. You can do this!
  2. Relax, focus and breathe
  3. Get tough!
  4. Just be calm and push on

Not exactly Shakespeare I agree, but they’ll do.

For the cognitive testing, I have two other statements:

  1. Just relax and focus
  2. Pass the banana

Okay, I’m totally kidding on the last one but, again, you get the idea.

Positive Phrasing Test #1:

Four days later I had my first trial of my motivational self-talk statements during a long 90 minute interval run.  I haven’t really acquired my running legs yet so these long runs tend to be an exercise in pain and total self-depreciation which, fortunately, gives me the perfect chance to practice my positive phrasing.

The idea is to also detail when these negative statements begin to occur in the workout which, in this case, was about 30 nanoseconds into the run immediately following my stepping off the front porch:

“Oh God, this is going to suck”.


Okay, think positive statements:

“Just be calm and push on”.

It totally worked and I felt better.


Then another negative comment hit me again a minute later:

“Shit, that was only 5 minutes and you’re already winded? What the fuck?”


“Relax, focus and breathe”.

Okay, good.

Then again:

“You’re so slow you fat fuck”.

Jesus. Again?

Okay, “Just be calm and push on…relax, focus and breathe….”

And so the internal dialogue went for the next 85 minutes.  I know I’m a glutton for punishment, but I’m actually amazed at how often my thoughts turned negative during the 90 minute period.  I figure I was probably beating myself up with negativity approximately 8,897,798,990 times.  Wow.  It was being riddled with bullets from a Tommy gun.

The good news was that each time I became aware of that negativity, either of those planned motivational statements ended up bringing me back down to earth so that I was able to push through some intervals at both my half-marathon pace (5:30min/km) as well as my 5k pace (sub 5:00min/km).  Truth be told, the positive “self-talk” seemed to be helping.

Positive Phrasing Test #2:

The next morning I was in the pool for a muscular endurance workout which involved some faster sprint pace intervals which, given I am currently building for a 10k swim in two more weeks, is not a regular feature of my swim workouts.

I’m a little more confident in my abilities in the pool so I wasn’t hit quite as soon or as often with the negativity as I was the day before on my long run, but when I started sprinting they sure started up in earnest. Two or three intervals in the first negative comment reared its ugly head:

“You’re tired. Maybe you should use the pull buoy instead”.

Ah ha!

I see you, you sneaker fucker!

“Just be calm and push on….”


“Relax, focus, and……”


Shit, I couldn’t even remember what my second positive motivational phrase even given as I was too busy, you know, breathing.  After all, staying alive is my top priority in the pool.

Neither statement seemed to be working. So I had to switch gears a bit and went with “You can do this!”, and “Just keep going!”   These statements seemed to work a little better as they were more direct and easy to recall once my mind began to race and the negative commentary started to bombard my lizard brain.

Positive Phrasing Test #3:

Two days later and I’m in San Antonio, Texas and it’s hot as all fuck outside meaning my speed workout around Woodlawn Lake wasn’t going to be much more fun than the oven itself.  Perfect testing ground for my next exercise protocol, wouldn’t you say?

Once I started off it was a bit difficult going in the early stages as I warmed up – literally and figuratively – as my lungs took some time to adjust to the heat and humidity and, for whatever reason, my legs felt weary after 48 hours of traveling. However, when the negativity started to hit I was well prepared:

“Just be calm and push on”.

“Relax, focus and breathe.”



Gettin er done.

Gettin er done.

Once I started with the actual speed intervals (8 x 400m), however, not so much.  I ended up having to revert back to using the more direct statements just as I had in the pool.  “You can do this!”  still worked like a charm but, “Just keep going”, however, did not.  It only made me want to check out my Garmin to see how far I’d gone and then when I realized I had only gone a certain distance, the negative commentary started back up with a vengeance.  Instead, I retooled this last statement into “Get tough!”  as I began each interval and that seemed to work a bit better.  I continued to use “You can do this!”  to see each interval through to the end.

An honorary mention also has to be made for: “Just get through this and you can have a cheeseburger”, but I decided that that’s probably not going to fly in the oven next week so it was left off the list.

So, in short, my plan of action come next Wednesday during my last exercise protocol is to use “Just be calm and push on”  and “Relax, focus and breathe”  to push through the first 30 minutes of the warm up to cope with the boredom and tediousness, then revert to the more direct and engaging “You can do this!”  and “Get tough!”  when my heart rate begins to elevate and the imminent shittiness begins to mount up during the last TTE.

As far as the cognitive testing goes, I am sticking with “Just relax and focus”; simple and elegant as it is.

Wish me luck.

God help me.

Day 3: Experimental Session #4

Not much about the whole lead into and set up for my second (and last) exercise protocol is different from the others with one notable exception: I brought the wrong cycling shoes.


Yup, upon pulling out of my parking lot at work, I realized that I had mistakenly brought the wrong cleats meaning I couldn’t use them with the pedals on the Velotron.  In short, I was fucked and I started panic as I hated the thought of letting down the lab gurus by not being able to complete my second test protocol as planned; especially given all the work I’d done in crafting out my motivational statements.

But after a second or so of “oh shit!”, “how could you have fucked up like this?”  and, of course, the ever popular “you’re a fucking idiot”  running through my mind, I decided to take a different approach.

“Relax, focus and breathe”

Seconds later, I had pulled a U-turn into the parking lot of In.Cep.tion cycles, picked up an extra set of SPD pedal clips to match my misbegotten cleats and, Bob’s your uncle!, we’re back in business; In.Cep.tion with the save.

Thanks Brandon!

Hey, maybe this whole motivation self-talk might actually work.


Upon arriving, I ran the pee, probe and shuffle gauntlet, got weighed, got affixed with the usual heat sensors and electrode thingee’s, completed both my BRUMS questionnaire and base cognitive testing on the tablet (which, I am fairly confident went very well when I applied my positive self-talk statements) and minutes later I was in the oven ready to go.

I’m also noting here for the record that I was adequately hydrated for this session as two weeks before, for whatever reason, by hydration was pretty poor.  In fact, my piss sample resembled the liquid version of Charlie’s Golden Ticket, so I was conscientious to hydrate today like a mofo to avoid that from happening again.


Gettin’ sweaty…

The goal today was to be cognizant of all my negative thoughts and, instead, use the motivational selftalk phrases I’ve been working on for the past week.  The idea is to see what difference (if any) that provides to both my exercise sessions as well as my cognitive testing immediately following them.  In other words, shit was about to get real and I was focused on proving that they worked as I generally believe they would.

It has to be said that the first 30 minutes at 60% (210 watts) of my PPO is the most tedious.   I can deal with the 35°C temperature and 50% relative humidity, but it’s boring as all get out and very shortly into it the negativity started to creep in.

“This sucks”, “this is boring”, and “How much longer?”

No problem, I was prepared.

“Just relax, focus and breathe…just keep calm and push on…”

Worked like a charm.

One problem though.  A piece of surgical tape used to secure my probe to the sumo sling I use to keep it, well, wedged up in my ass, had begun to rub under my Charlie Brown’s.  Not pleasant.  So with every pedal stroke there was this uncomfortable scratching going on under my nut sack.  Yeah.

And let me tell you, trying to stay positive and think happy thoughts while your choda is being treated like a Lotto scratch ticket is not easy, like, at all.  Lord knows I tried.  Ultimately, I knew, boring as it was, I could do the first 30 minutes fairly easily so all I had to do was make it through that and then I could try and “readjust” myself afterwards prior to having to get back on the bike.


This is the face one makes when their scrotum is being rubbed raw.

However, despite my attempt to exist in my “happy place”, it was all pretty much in vain.  After all, my happy place in that country pub does not include something coarse and scratchy down my pants.  But I made the first 30 minutes successfully and, yes, I used my self-talk statements as much as possible.

When I dismounted the bike to don my rain poncho and complete my cognitive testing I tried my best to fix the issue.  In the rare few moments I am actually alone in the oven I had both hands burrowed deep into my bib shorts and ferreting around like a squirrel digging for acorns, but to no avail.


The first round of cognitive testing I think went very, very well.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I made the tests my bitch, particularly the “Two Back”  and “Groton Maze Learning”  tasks.  I’m not surprised really as I was very dialed in and focused using my “Just relax and focus”  statement.  For the rest of the 30 minute cool down (and I use that term loosely), I put my feet up and tried not to focus on the chafing beginning to happen under my balls.

I figured I could manage one last TTE but, then again, what choice did I really have?

Eventually, I mounted the bike for the last time and had the mask affixed to my head and I braced myself for the eventual suck to follow.  I immediately reverted to my more calming and passive motivational statements to “get in the zone”, per se. I knew it was going to difficult (isn’t it always?) but I really wanted to do better and by “better”, that inevitably means “suffer”.  It’s just the nature of the beast I’m afraid.

Finally the first 5 minute warm up at 125 watts began, and as soon as it did it started:

“God, my balls on fire!”

“Just relax, breathe and focus…”


“Just be calm and push on…”

Nope.  Still on fire.

“Get tough.”

Okay, that worked…a bit.

Finally, the official TTE at 80% (280 watts) began in earnest and it was on.

Again with the negativity.

Ho-lee shit”, “My legs hurt”, “My balls are burning” (not to be confused with the popular 80’s song ‘Beds Are Burning’ by Australian rockers Midnight Oil)…it was a total cacophony of self pity, remorse and intense bitchiness.

Fueled by “Get tough”  and “You can do this!”, I did my best to block it all out and started with my first spin-up and then remained focused on holding that cadence for as long as it felt “comfortable” to do so.  It hurt, but I did it.

“Well, that sucked”, was the immediate response in my brain.

Fuck you negativity, “You can do this!”…and I did it again…and again…

…and again.

I concentrated on putting power into the pedals more than I have ever done before, even when it felt like my lungs were going to explode and my nuts were going to rupture.  In fact, I became a bit worried at one point that I might have some unfortunate scaring going on in places I didn’t even want to think about but, still, I focused on power.

“More power!”, actually became a new motivation self-talk statement at one point.  I know it wasn’t part of the original plan but I was certainly willing to go with whatever it was that worked in the moment, and in that precise moment, “More power!”  is exactly  what I needed to hear.

I continued to spin up an hold as best as I could and the last 2 or 3 “sprints” were every bit as agonizing as the sensations going on in my shorts, let me tell you.

I had no concept of time.  I know that the research guy in the oven with me (Phil) comes around every two minutes to get my RPE and Thermal Sensation and Discomfort readings so I should be able to keep an approximate track of how much time has passed but, truthfully, after the first two or so and it’s really beginning to get shitty, they all feel like the first.

Eventually, I couldn’t take any more and immediately following my last spin up I quit.  Now, whether I 100% gave up or whether my cadence dropped below the pre-established 60rpm for 5 seconds signaling the finish, I’m not really sure.  What I do know is that I was 100% spent and feeling rather disappointed with myself (as I’m sure was reflected in the subsequent BRUMS scale I completing immediately after getting off the bike).

A picture is worth a thousand words:


I figured that while I had put more effort into the pedals, the eventual cost was in not being able to go for as long as I would have liked.  Plus, I hated the feeling of having to “quit” (whether or not that actually happened, is moot).  On the plus side, I think my cognitive testing afterwards (once my heart rate came back down of course) went very well, just as it had the first time.  In that regard I was definitely happy.

In the first exercise protocol I managed to last 12 whole minutes at my 80% and today, using motivational self-talk, I was able to last 13 minutes representing an improvement of 9% overall.  So, despite how I felt about the second TTE, that positive phrasing definitely seemed to work.  But here’s the part I’m really pleased with:

During the first session, I managed 10 or so spin up’s to approximately 90 rpm before dropping back down to an average of approximately 77 rpm.  This time around, I managed 12 spin up’s overall at over 100 rpm  which I was able to sustain for up to 40-45 seconds at a time before returning to an approximate average of 80 rpm.  That means that my ride on that particular day was a lot less variable in my being able to maintain a steady cadence and power outage.

I guess I can live with that.

Where positive self-talking definitely helps with athletic performance (which is awesome), even in extreme hot and humid conditions (even more awesome), it also works very well in positively improving cognitive ability as well and that’s particularly some pretty awesome shit.

I will include all the actual results in the follow-up Part 2 to this post in the near future so, until then, hang tight, for that awesome shit is about to get real.

(Author’s Note: I might suggest playing this video in the background as you read because it’s what’s currently going through my head right now as I write this.  It might be a bit dramatic, sure, but it does accurately reflect the mood I’m trying to aspire to here.)

Well, it wasn’t the start I was initially hoping for.  A little more than one week after I took my “first steps” (click HERE) back towards this next Ironman challenge and my workout consists of walking to the corner store to check a lottery ticket and buy a bag of Ruffles; ‘Loaded Potato Skin’ flavor.

The ticket was a loser and the chips were…meh.

I’m trying to tell myself that this is “normal” and just a part of the routine as it seems I always start my off-season training with an unanticipated injury.  This time last year I was dealing with Morton’s Neuroma, a sore Achilles tendon, and emotional trauma (click HERE) following my parents deaths, the year before that a strained muscle in my left shin (click HERE), and this year it’s an acute case of ‘Dorsal Scapular Nerve Syndrome’ (click HERE).


I’m trying to tell myself that there’s no better way to start a new beginning than with the tail end of an epic finish so that it can only get better from here.

I hope.

But part of me is still all like WHY ME?’ 

Needless to say that I’ve had lots of time to ponder my pathetic situation this past week while lying around on my back trying to be as motionless as possible. I have watched one friend tackle an epic 100 kilometer trail race (click HERE), two friends complete an Ironman (click HERE), and two other friends are now completing their final workouts before competing in the Kona World Ironman Championships in three short weeks.  One friend posted about his awesome 30k training run recently for the Boston Marathon while another friend frequently updates her progress over Facebook regarding her steady and successful weight loss over the past month.  Other friends still ran the Terry Fox 5k charity run or some other type of endurance feat on their own, to support a great cause in St. Catharines this weekend. Greatness is everywhere.


I walked to the store for chips (click HERE).

I’m trying however not to let this get me down, which is definitely harder than it appears. In the company of so much greatness it’s definitely hard not to be frustrated at being temporarily laid up.  Even though I plan to get back in the pool this week and start running and cycling easy again, my confidence has certainly taken a blow for the worse.  I haven’t been able to keep up with the circuit training I started two weeks ago and I am horrified to discover that I’ve ballooned out to 225lbs since mid-August.

Not. Good.

Regardless, I’m trying to remain positive and console myself that this will just inevitably add to the total epicness of the challenge that I’ve laid out for myself this year, so if I did have  to get injured, than this is the perfect time to do so rather than sacrifice weeks or months of hard work and fall behind.  As it is now, I can’t fall behind in what I haven’t started.

So I tell myself anyway.

Hopefully this is all just temporary and in no time, I’ll be right as rain again and able to get back to the task of reestablishing my healthy base of fitness and monitoring my diet more closely; the pieces will fall together and I’ll be on my way with all guns a-blazin’, chasing down chickens and leaping over park benches with throngs of kids chasing behind me…the whole bit.

In the meantime I’m trying to remain patient, keep doing my exercises, and aspiring to the greatness going on around me.  Good things have got to come…


Exactly seven days ago (as of this writing anyway) I came down with a stabbing pain in the middle of my back. It was (is) absolute agony.  I have no idea from whence it came.  Did it come as the result of my first easy drill run that afternoon, or is it the residual effect of lugging around heavy tents and wet floor mats on and off a truck for the SunRype Tri-KiDS days earlier?  I dunno.  All I do know is that it feels like somebody is repetitively plunging a carving knife into my back.  It totally blows.

I initially thought it was a knot or some sort of muscle spasm and tried to treat it with a topical pain relief lotion but that only ended up with my nearly getting third degree burns (click HERE).  I then dosed myself up on ibuprofen to no avail. I even went so far as to have a co-worker at the office walk on my back.  Nada.  Although I might have developed a new fetish for Geisha girls.

Nothing worked.  The pain just got increasingly worse and worse and for five days I barely slept and I pretty much existed in a constant state of agony and while things have improved marginally since then, I am still in lots of discomfort and I’m popping Tylenols like Pez.  Likewise, I’m now constantly walking around slouched over like a vampire cowering away from the sun.


This was supposed to be my big week back to Ironman training and here I am barely able to make it up the stairs without crying out in pain.  Needless to say I’m pretty frustrated.

Eventually I figured that I had had enough and decided to call in the Big Guns, namely the good people at Legacy Health & Performance, my go-to peeps for all things ouchie.  I booked a massage appointment with Nicole and also received an initial adjustment and assessment by Dr. Burr.  Neither really seemed to know what the issue was as it’s very difficult to treat something so completely systemic.

FML x 2.

I went to my family doctor and was told it was a simple muscle spasm (it wasn’t) and that I should just try and relax and wait for it to pass.  Oh, and she prescribed me some anti-inflammatories which were rather like throwing water balloons at a twelve alarm fire.  Fuckers!  Relax?  Yeah, right!  Ever try to relax  with an ice pick constantly being twisted between your shoulder blades?

Good luck with that.

Since then we have made some progress (at Legacy, not the doctor) in that we now realize that my symptoms (as they’ve changed somewhat since the first few days) indicate something known as ‘Dorsal Scapular Nerve Syndrome’ (click HERE).

Sounds catchy, eh?

Hey, wait, I thought it was dolphins and whales that had dorsals?


Basically, DSNS is characterized by symptoms of a generalized dull ache along the medial border of the scapula, radiating into the lateral surface of the arm and forearm (which has only started to occur recently).  Now, when you read “Dull” here, think “OMFG that’s torture!”  because, baby, it was.  “Dull” just doesn’t do it justice at all.

So what’s the plan of attack?


FML x 3.

I’ve actually had acupuncture before years ago when I was suffering from plantar fasciitis.  At the time I was seeing some quack chiropractor who was more interested in hooking me up to his TENS unit which, I’m sure, was a relic of the Cold War.  Afterwards he would jab a few needles into the souls of my feet and then fuck off for an hour or so leaving me alone in the darkened room to contemplate by pathetic circumstance.

I still remember my first appointment. When I entered the examining room he immediately lowered the lights, closed the blinds and switched on some soothing muzac.  I recall thinking: “is he going to treat me or fuck me?”

Now, if you’ve never had needles plunged into the souls of your feet before it’s really no different than what you’re probably thinking already:  it sucks.  An action you would expect to be preceded by the statement “we ‘av vays of making you talk”.  Anyway, this process repeated itself a few times a week for over a year with no improvement whatsoever.  I realize now being a bit older and wiser, that he was just milking my benefits until they ultimately ran out and I was cast aside like a discarded coffee cup.

That was seven years ago and my feelings about acupuncture are largely connected to that experience.  A barbaric practice geared more towards satisfying the sadistic impulses of the administrator than for the benefit and ultimate relief of the patient.The whole thing kinda made me feel like this:

Or, maybe this guy:

I wasn’t a fan.

So when Dr. Burr suggested we also try acupuncture I was all like:

However, in an effort to make peace with this whole acupuncture thing I decided to do a little research on why so many people seem to accept and appreciate it as a viable treatment practice.  After all, how can 1.3 billions Chinese people be wrong?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving inserting thin needles into the body at acupuncture points.  Most commonly, it is associated with pain relief. Acupuncture as a practice can be traced back at least 2,500 years.  The general theory is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health.  Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease.  Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.

The practice of acupuncture to treat identifiable pathophysiological (disease) conditions in American medicine was rare until the visit of President Richard M. Nixon to China in 1972.  Since that time, there has been an explosion of interest in the United States and Europe in the application of the technique of acupuncture to Western medicine.

Now, does any of this help my feelings towards acupuncture?

Not one bit.

So Tricky Dick liked him some acupuncture.

Whoopee shit.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, plus I trust Dr. Burr implicitly (she did successfully lay out the foundation for the whole “We Can Rebuild Him” plan two years ago).  So if acupuncture is what she recommends, acupuncture is what I will do.  I made another appointment then with Nicole who also doubles as the clinics acupuncture specialist.

At my appointment I was invited to lie face down on the massage table which, it has to be said, is my favorite thing about the Legacy Health & Performance clinic as this table and I have really bonded over the past two years. This made sense given that I wouldn’t be getting needles into my feet today but, rather, my back and neck.  This was fine by me as I’d rather not watch the entire process as I had before, thank you very much.  Nicole asked me try and relax which, again, I find to be pretty impossible given the situation.  I did my best however.

For the next 5-10 minutes or so, she popped these needles into specific spots in the back of my neck, my back and along my left arm and hand since I have been experiencing numbness and a tingling sensation down my left side.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the one that she stuck directly into the top of my head.

Ever had a needle shoved into the top of your head?


Once they were all in and I adequately resembled a human pin cushion I was left to “relax” (there’s that word again) for 15 minutes or so before they were then extracted which, I must say, was less harrowing then the whole inserting them thing.

Did I notice any improvement afterwards?

Maybe a little.

Did I find it relaxing?

Shit no.

Will I go again?

If it’s suggested, sure.

Will I enjoy it anymore?


But if it’s a means to an end to get over this damnable pain in my back once and for all so I get on with my Ironman training (nevermind just being able to sleep normally again), I will do whatever it takes.


Needles in the head and all.

The Big Move 2015

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

One of my staple events every year is The Big Move Ride for Cancer in support of the Walker Family Cancer Center at the St. Catharines hospital.  I’ve been the last person to cross the starting line and last to cross the finishing line for the past seven years; ensuring that everyone…EVERYONE…gets to the end of the 100k route successfully and safely.  However, given my recent back issues I’ve been coping with this week plus the fact that it was cold and rainy, I was rather apprehensive about the ride this year.

Usually, when I spring out of bed the morning of the Big Move I’m all like:

This year, it was more like this:


Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t even have been riding but this ride is very meaningful to me and I believe that there are people genuinely counting on me for support so, come Hell or high water (we actually got a bit of both), I was determined to show up and make it around; albeit painfully.

This year was also particularly significant as this was the first year we’ve all volunteered at the Big Move as a family unit.  I would continue on as a sweep rider while Kelly and HRH  would work in one of the sweep vans helping to support the riders, aid stations, marshals along the route as well as keep track of all the signage, etc.

Here’s our family selfie:


We arrived early at 7:00am to get all set up which, for the most part, meant sitting inside the car with the seat warmers on keeping dry and drinking coffee.  Many of the event volunteers were already out in force setting up the starting/finishing line, registration tables, vendor tents, barricades, etc.  Basically, I just sat in the car and stressed about my sore back and the weather. Eventually, it was time to get suited up for the ride itself and start preparing for a long haul into the wind and rain set to begin at 8:30am.

Here is my inspiration this year:


The whole process went kind of like this:


After a brief delay though, our ride was out and underway heading out from Club Roma and directly up the escarpment at Rockway.

The climb up to Rockway Glen comes pretty early in the ride representing my first opportunity to begin providing real encouragement and support for some of the less experienced riders; never mind it’s already wet and slick out. I’ve done the climb up Rockway billions of times but for the uninitiated, it’s definitely a formidable obstacle.

Like this:

What they see

I trudged up the steep incline with Bonnie, a lady riding in memory of her husband and sister (judging by the ‘In Memory of…’ sign on her own back).  With some coaxing and encouragement and constant reminders to remember to breathe, she made it to the top to the first rest station.  She left pretty quickly afterwards though and I never saw her again (which, in the sweep business, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Around this time, my sweep partner declared that she was going to ride up ahead a bit and that she’d see me later.  I never did. So for the next 30-40 kilometers through Silverdale and down Silver Creek Rd., I rode with Lisa, a local tax accountant, who was braving the elements with a head cold.

There is a bit of a negative stigmatism about being at “the end” and Lisa was bit conscientious about it at first but we filled the next 90 minutes or so with fun, motivational conversation and whatnot and before I knew it she had become my “adopted sweeper” and was happily informing the marshals we passed that we were the tail end of the ride (one of the roles of sweeping).  What this really means is that I probably blabbed on endlessly about all the minute banal trivialities of my day-to-day life while she smiled and sniffed politely and then speaking to the marshals as a way of interrupting the full-blown conversational diarrhea from the crazy person riding beside her.

Like this:


A short while later, I happened across what would, inevitably become the first of my many mechanical issues (another inevitable duty of the sweep rider) of the day.

“Duckie” and her friend had been abandoned by the roadside and were quite distraught that she may not be able to finish the ride due to a flat back tire. Changing tires has never been my specialty, but after 10 minutes or so of gentle reassurance and a lot of pulling, prodding and swearing as the result of a stubborn rear wheel, we had her back on her way and en route. I continued along with Duckie & co. for a while longer until she reunited with her group at the next aid station at the Old Pelham Town Hall.

Now, I have to say, one of the best parts of sweep riding is the hero’s welcome we typically receive at each of the aid stations from the volunteers. They really are amazing in the positive encouragement they provide the riders, especially given the harsh conditions they were enduring on this day. The real awesome thing about this particular rest stop was the fresh, home baked muffins available.

Like this:


Not long afterwards, I happened across my 2nd, 3rd and 4th flats of the day.  Each rider was in varying states of panic and I’m happy to report that each rider was very quickly gotten back on track with a fresh tire and all made it back to the finish safe and sound.  Yay me!  I was definitely, getting lots of practice changing tires.  At one point, I was introduced to this incredible gizmo (click HERE), the ‘Crank Brothers Extendable Speed Lever‘ and I was all like:


I need to get me one of these.

The problem now though, is that after tending to so many other riders mechanical issues I was well and truly behind the other 100k riders.  In the sweep world this is akin to being separated from your flock.  Not good.  So after that last flat, I peeled out on my own with the intent of making up some time, turned onto Wellandport Rd. and, BAM!, directly into a strong headwind.  Crap!  Fortunately, my sweep van pulled in ahead of me and I was able to draft behind to the next aid station in time to catch the other riders.  It was a real ‘Tour de France’ moment and over the next 7 or 8 kilometers it went something like this:

34 km/h…


This is awesome.

36 km/h …

Okay, this sucks.

Stupid headwind!

38 km/h …

My back was starting to scream.

40 km/h …

Beginning to bury myself now…

42 km/h…

I was almost in tears.

44 km/h…

Fully in tears.

I think for some strange reason, I don’t know why, I felt the urge to suffer for a little bit.

Call it old habit I suppose.

Thankfully, I made it to the ‘First In Counters’ rest station moments before everyone else was set to head back out.  I had definitely burned a few matches in getting back to the group but, once again, fate intervened in the way of some incredible home-baked cookies which were more than enough to keep me fueled and going to the end.

The last 30km was pretty uneventful and lonely to be honest.  By now, my back was in full on complain mode and I was completely sore and uncomfortable as all my pre-ride pain meds were wearing off.  Plus, we were now riding directly back into the shitty weather again that seemed to continue hovering directly over St. Catharines.  I admit here that I had some dark moments along River Rd. as I trailed silently behind the last two riders in the group.  I thought about my mom and dad and just otherwise tried my best to stoically deal with it all in stride.  I summoned a smile and a sincere ‘thank you’ at each turning point to the marshals as my passing would inevitably mean they could now head back to Club Roma for their hot pasta lunch which, hopefully, would also be waiting for me.

My small group of stragglers eventually met up with Duckie and her gang at the last rest stop and together we all plowed onward to the end finishing in just over 5 hours of very challenging riding (6 hours in total) in the midst of a total deluge of cold, drizzly rain…just as we had started it (click HERE). It was all smiles at the end for the accomplished riders as I anonymously crossed the finishing line behind them…in last…and sought out my own cuddles and congratulations along the sidelines from Kelly and HRH  who were there waiting faithfully for me. My back was well and truly spent by this point.

Here’s the big finish photo:


Thankfully, a pasta lunch had been set aside for me (complete with a much-needed alcoholic beverage) and not long afterwards we pulled out in anticipation of a hot shower and coffee.  Likewise, Daisy had more than earned herself a good cleaning and toweling down as well.

Just another day/year in the life of the ‘Tail End Charlie’ I suppose, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Everyone gets little niggles from time to time.  In my case, lately, it’s been this nagging knot right between my shoulder blades.

I woke up with it this past Sunday morning but at the time it was no big deal and I wasn’t worried about it, like, at all.  I just chalked it up to sleeping wrong, or maybe twisting the wrong way in the shower, or whatever, and I simply went about my business.  I barely even noticed it for the remainder of the day. On Monday morning, there it was again, only a little worse this time.  I went for a fun swim in the canal with the Coach and kids and it seemed to work itself out.  But that night, ouchie, the small niggle had worked itself up into a bigger niggle and suddenly going to sleep wasn’t quite so easy as I couldn’t get comfortable enough.  Instead, I lied awake, tossing and turning and readjusting the pillow over and over again hoping to find a position that allowed me to lie more comfortably and fall asleep.  It didn’t happen.

By yesterday I was more than annoyed and even straightening up to walk around the house was a chore.  I felt like some decrepit old man, which, HRH  was kind enough to keep pointing out; ever my biggest fan.

Anyway, by yesterday evening I had had enough and decided that I had to do something.  I went routing through my gym bag looking for my trusty tube of A5-35 but, when I fished it out, I was disheartened to see that it was all caked with crude and mold.  Clearly, I haven’t used this thing since the early 90’s judging by the green ring of crust around the cap.


I scoured the cabinets, my shaving kits, the cupboards and turned up nothing.


Then I came across this:


A little sample packet of ‘Lakota Topical Pain Reliever’ with the words “MUSCLE PAIN” emblazoned in green across its front.  It was like a gift from God sent directly down from the Heavens for my benefit.  I think I might have even given a little prayer of thanks.

Anyway, they used to hand these things out in the schwag bags at local running races and triathlons and, usually, they just ended up in the garbage.  But, hey, desperate times call for desperate measures, amiright?

I quickly browsed the back of the packet and was pleased to read:

“For temporary relief of aches and pain of muscles. Relieves muscle pain associated with overuse, intense exercise, sprains and injury.”


Sign me up.

So after dinner I cracked open the packet and had the kid liberally apply the rather odd smelling goo to my back. “It looks like snot”, she told me.  It was a real bonding moment, let me tell you.  Afterwards we went down to watch some television.

At first, it kind of tingled and I figured, ‘Great! It’s working.’  But then the tingle turned to heat.  ‘Okay, this is a bit intense, but I can manage’  I thought.  Then the heat turned to REAL heat and I started to worry.  In fact, calling it ‘heat’ at this point would be like describing molten lava as simply ‘tepid’.  And even then, there’s “hot”, and then there’s HOT.  And this was definitely HOT.  I started to stress as sweat began to pour off my forehead.  Surely this weird devil’s concoction would reach its critical mass, boiling point, or whatever, and begin to subside, right?


It just kept escalating, like, seriously escalating.  It was like a hot plate had been applied directly to my back.  What the fuck are the Lakota’s putting in this shit anyway?  Napalm?

After 20 minutes or so, it was like somebody had poured gasoline over my back and lit it on fire and I was concerned I was blistering…it was that bad.  Furthermore, HRH’s little pinkies were also beginning to burn as well.

Oh crap.

What have I done?

I scanned the packet again and was dismayed to see further down, ‘Risk Information’.

“Transient irritation, burning, stinging, or redness are normal, expected actions and usually diminish after repeated application.”


They’re fucking with me, right?

Being on fire is not normal.

Warm and tingly, surely…hot, maybe…on fire, shit no!

By this time I was in a full blown panic and went to the bathroom to take full stock of the situation.  Upon doing so I hear, “Terry! Oh my god! Your back!”

Oh shit.

And don’t just take my word for it, check this out:



Here’s a closer look:


Not good.

In short, I freaked.  I jumped into the shower and blasted the cold water over my back.  Except in its current angry state this wasn’t exactly as relieving as I had hoped it would be.  Every single drop of water that spit out of the shower facet felt like a little razor slicing into my sensitive skin.  It was painful and I could only stand a minute or so before I hopped out and sprinted upstairs to find the cold, soothing sunburn cream which I then had HRH  rub into my back as well.  I’m sure I’ve probably left some sort of mental scar on her at having to rub lotion into the back of her half naked stepfather but, at this point, I was in absolute agony.

I shit you not.

The only thing that would ease the burning scalding sensation was applying an ice pack directly to my back.  Afterwards, I had to wrap myself in a towel soaked in cold water so that I was now walking around like a genuinely injured man.

Not unlike this:

Except with less dancing, of course.

After an hour or so the burning finally started to subside a bit and my back slowly returned to normal.

Thank Christ!

The knot, however?  Absolutely no difference; it was still right there between my shoulder blades where it had always been.  I guess my suffering had been in vane.

So, this begs the question: what in the sweet Sam Hell is in that Lakota crap anyway?

Reviewing the packet once more I note the ingredients include: Canada Balsam, Birch Oil, Juniper Berry, Yarrow and Capsaicin. Sound innocent enough, right?  Well, I went looking on Google this morning and discovered that Capsaicin is actually a by-product of chili peppers.


So, basically, it’s pepper spray for your skin.


I also noted that that the Lakota website suggested that I might have to apply it 3 or 4 times daily during the “initial stages of use”.  Umm, yeah, no.

Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

Personally, I’d rather dive into an active volcano than ever apply this stuff again.   I mean, seriously, you’d have to be a complete and utter sadist to ever rub this shit into your skin more than once.

So, what do I think of this Lakota product in general?


Note the ice pack still on my back.

I think I’ll just carve out the knot myself with a soup spoon as that would be infinitely less painful.

After a long weekend and an even longer night on Sunday thanks to a whiney, grumpy 10-year-old with a bellyache that may or may not have been a real issue, I was feeling the need to burn off a little anxiety yesterday.  I decided then that I’d test the waters a little and try out the Circuit training class that runs for 45 minutes before my own Masters Spin class that I teach on Monday nights.  After all, I’m starting to gear up for the “big burn” which I know has to happen shortly so I’m exploring new options to add to the routine as per my 2016 goals (click HERE).

My only familiarity with this class for the past year or so, has been sitting on the bench waiting for the ladies to finish up so I can begin rolling out the spin bikes for class.  By the looks of things they were working pretty hard but it didn’t look too  challenging.  After all, I’m a triathlete and past Ironman right?  What real benefit could I gain from a 45 minute workout when my own “easy” workouts typically last nothing less than an hour?  Besides, it’s all girls. It can’t be that  hard.

What an idiot I can be.

I remembered way back when I tried “Crossfit” (click HERE) a few years ago but I realize now that what I was doing then wasn’t really crossfit (which was still relatively new and not as hugely popular as it is now), it was Circuit training.  This became all too aware to me about 5 minutes into yesterday’s workout, but I’ll get there.

The workout, lead by Andi, was designed to be 12 different plyometric exercises (click HERE) to be run for 1 minute at a time with a 15 second break in order to rest and move onto the next “station”.  I opted to start with the jumping jacks.  Yes, they were the easiest as Andi was quick to point out jokingly, but I figured I’d start easy and then build myself into the harder and more intense exercises I figured were to follow and end with the sprinting exercise at the end.  That’s my story anyway.

Remember, I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, 1 minute of jumping jacks was no big deal, but I did begin to sweat a bit.

Good start.

Next, I moved to the V-sit station, otherwise known as “Boat Pose” for all you yogi’s out there.  I have included boat pose into my usual off season core routine for years so I felt I was in a good position (no pun intended) to rock this shit out just as I had done with the jumping jacks.  However, 20 seconds into my V-sit and I was like, “hey, this is pretty fucking hard” as my core muscles began to bitch and complain.  Then it hit me: I haven’t really done any core or upper body strength conditioning since April/May when I switched my training to a more outdoor orientated endurance focused program.

Shit, this might really suck after all and the sweat just definitely beginning to flow.

The next circuit was side-planks which I can do fairly well, not that this prevented any of the sweat from flowing, that’s for sure.

Next up was Burpees.  Oh sweat Jesus, no.  Not the burpees!


If you remember anything about my ranting about burpees before (see link above), I hate fucking burpees.  I even hate Royal H. Burpee for conjuring up this god forsaken exercise.  Couple that with the fact that Andi added this new little kick out with the legs at the end and, yeah, it totally sucked balls.  After the 30 seconds or so, I was sweating like the pig who knows he’s dinner and my bandana was producing a slow and steady stream of sweat down my face.  By the 1 minute mark I felt 100% spent and was wondering how I was ever going to complete the rest of this circuit.  Making matters worse, the other 3 ladies in the class looked like this was just another day at the office and making it all look so simple.

My motivation was definitely beginning to wane some.

After those stupid burpees, it was skipping.  Now I can’t skip to save my life but, actually, it wasn’t so bad and I was able to more or less keep a decent skip going without too much interruption.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Take THAT you Grade 3 playground bitches!  FINALLY!  Something that was better suited to my preference for cardio-related exercise; a singular repetitive action held for a specific duration of time.

By this time the sweat was now volleying off my brow with every hop, skip and jump as my bandana had reached its maximum saturation point.

Next on the Devil’s circuit was push-ups.  Thank Christ!  Something I can do to show off my imminent manliness.

I assumed the position and on the final count of 15 seconds, started to put on what I figured was going to be a total display of upper body uber-awesomeness. “Hey ladies, check this shit out”, I thought.  After all, I like to rock out the medicine ball push-ups in my workout warm-ups, so normal push-ups would be easy right?


I got to about 18 and my arms and shoulders started to give out.  Ho-lee shit.  By this point, a pool of bodily fluid had formed under my forehead where the sweat was now cascading off in a complete Angel Falls-esque deluge.  After 22 push-ups (about 45 seconds into the circuit), I had to take a break.

Not. Good.

Next up was the “Up and Down Plank”; rising and lowering yourself up and down on your forearms which, after all those push-ups ranked up there with dipping my forearms in battery acid.  I think I managed for the whole minute but, truthfully, I also think I was hallucinating by this point so I may not have.  I don’t rightly remember.  What I do remember is that the mat underneath me was a total lake of sweat and tears meaning, of course, that all the other ladies coming into the station after me would now have to do their own routine in a pool of my rankness.

Sorry girls.

The side-to-side bench jump was next; hopping back and forth over a bench.  As much as this sucked, I know from my limited experience with plyometrics that this is an ideal exercise for runners so I tried my best to cinch up the ‘ol apple sack and get ‘em done.  I think I managed about a dozen or so before having to take a quick break lest I suffer a total cardiac arrest and end up doing a face plant into the bench.  By now, I was dripping fluids from just about everywhere and my shirt, shorts and bandanas was now carrying about 10 extra lbs of moisture.  I swear, I think even my eyeballs were sweating.

The other ladies though were still smiling, joking, and chatting amongst themselves.  Me?  I had forgotten what my name was and my motivation was somewhere between “fuck this shit”  and non-existent, particularly since I realized that only 10 minutes had passed.  So much for being an Ironman, ha!

The next 15 second transition couldn’t come soon enough.

Mountain Climbers” were next.   Now, it has to be said, I like my mountain climbers like I like my burpees like I like hot lead being poured down my pants. “Andi, you suck”, I thought to myself.  Luckily (or ‘unluckily’, depending on what side of the tipping point you prefer to look at it), my Morton’s Neuroma didn’t bother me so bad and I was able to do about a dozen without much pain or discomfort.  I confess though, I did cheat a bit when Andi’s back was turned and I assumed the child’s pose for a few seconds.

I was dying.

After what seemed like an hour, she blew the whistle signaling us to move on.

The wide grip “lat pull down” with bungee strap was next on her hit list.  Any thoughts I had of this being easy were immediately shot down when my chest muscles were aching after about 20 seconds.


Stop the madness.

“Bent over row” with 15 lbs weights were immediately afterwards and, while not torturous thanks to my swim conditioning, they certainly weren’t “easy” after two minutes of lighting my chest muscles on fire with that damned bungee strap.  A lake of pain and disappointment was now forming on the floor underneath my brow while I struggled through this second to last exercise.

The whistle blew again and I moved to the last exercise to complete the circuit: sprints.

Well, they weren’t sprints so much as they were a slow, painful shuffle between gym walls.  However, I gritted through it as, like the skipping, this was within my endurance-based wheelhouse.  I will admit though, I’ve never been happy to hear that final whistle blow completing…the first  circuit.

Fuck. Wait.

You mean I have to do this all over UH-again?

For the past 15 minutes, a not-so-small snail trail of sweat and tears was being left behind me in a grosser, moister breadcrumb trail from station to station.  How in the Sam hell was I ever going to do this one more time?  Maybe I would be lucky and Andi would offer us a 13th exercise, a Colt 45 to the temple in order to put me out of my misery (I’d say “We” here, but the other ladies looked perfectly fine).  So much for my thinking that this wouldn’t be “too  challenging” and I made a mental note to never believe myself again.

My realization here is that endurance training is fine and dandy, and I have taught myself to endure long sustained painful efforts, but this short and fast circuit shit really fucking sucks.  Meaning, it’s perfect for what I believe I need right now in order to begin rebuilding my fitness base, lose weight and start preparing for more the focused strength training to come.  I wasn’t terribly happy with this realization at this particular point in time, mind you, but there it was.

Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to persevere through another round of torture, being mindful to flip the mats after me for the ladies since I was by now leaking profusely from every pour.  So much so, it was hard to not slip and slide all over the place during some of my exercises (again, that’s my story).  As a warm down we had to do 5 minutes of abdominal exercises including reverse and bicycle crunches.  Basically, this was just adding insult to injury by this point as I could barely hold my legs in the air and lied there like a bloated beached whale.

Finally, the 45 minutes passed.

The bad news: I need work…LOTS of work.  The good news: I now have my inspiration to get back at it if any of this Ironman business is ever going to happen in July.  My goal now (as much as I am loathe to say it), is to join this class each week for the next few months to begin burning off all the craft beer and tapas plates I’ve indulging in lately and build back my core strength that, somewhere down the road, I’ve managed to lose altogether.

Yup.  One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a long, upward (not to mention wet) struggle this winter.

God help me.

Tour de Ridgeway

Posted: August 27, 2015 in Lifestyle
Tags: ,

Tragedy befell our office recently when a colleague of mine had her husband up and pass away very suddenly leaving her and three girls behind. He was 46 years old.  And being through more funerals than I care to mention in the past year this, well, struck home with me quite significantly.  More than I had initially thought it would.  I know all too well the challenges that my colleague is facing and this got me to thinking recently: “what if?”

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser

What if it was me?

What if during a hot long run, or bike ride or whatever, I just up and keeled over?  What would I regret the most?  What could I have done better?  Did I spend enough time with those that matter?

You get the gist anyway.

It’s become pretty important lately then to spend some quality time with HRH  in what remains of our summer.  Up to this point in the summer season we’ve pretty much booked our calendar 100% with all my events and commitments.  Oh, and we even got married in there somewhere too.  Anyway, needless to say we haven’t spend much time riding our bikes together now that every available minute of home life revolves around my getting to slip in a workout amongst everything else.  Really, our daddy-daughter bonding time has been spent in the car to and from day camp, so I’ve decided to rectify that.

Effective one month ago.

To that regard, HRH (Fabia van Hall unt Hauser) and I (Pino Grigio ) decided to plan out our own “Grand Tour” of the neighborhood, a seven stage race around the Ridgeway and Crystal Beach area.  We were still coming off our ‘Tour de France’ high (she watched approximately three stages with me this year) so while we joy ride around the neighborhood we mocked up the events of each “stage” as it transpired between us – the riders – and this commentary was then included on my Strava feed once I uploaded all the “race data” onto my computer afterwards.  There, the friends and training peers I’m connected with could follow along, provide some ‘Like’s and maybe even add some commentary of their own.  Whatever it was they did contribute, HRH  loved seeing it all.

Pino Grigio

Pino Grigio

“We’re celebrities”, she once informed me.

Other times, I included a short solo ride as the ‘time trial’ stage, as well as a fun ride that I did with Kelly (Mona de la Crème Brule) one weekend.

In it’s totality, it was a simple fun family project of mine aimed at passing some active quality time together in the saddle, being active and generating some fun dialogue; the perfect excuse to simply get on our bikes and ride.

The following then is the stage-by-stage account of our ‘Tour de Ridgeway’ as it unfolded for those of you who couldn’t follow along on Strava which, probably, is most of you.

Stage 1 (click HERE)

Long, arduous climbs were the order of the day for today’s grueling 10k mountain stage; climbs along Mt. Schooley and the Col De Derby.  Attacks were fast and furious and it was only through the gutsy determination on part of this years’ new comer, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser of the iPad-iPoop  team, who, having successfully defended against all attacks, completely ruled the day and emerged as the new White Jersey holder in the Peloton; the undisputed Queen of the Mountain for Stage 1 of the Tour de Ridgeway.

Likewise, her ‘No retreat; No surrender’  attitude has also earned her second place overall in the General Classification just 47 seconds down from the current tour favorite Pino Grigio of the ProWaffles  squad.

Stage 2 (click HERE)

Where all the climbers came out to play during yesterday’s steep mountain stages, today’s stage of the Tour de Ridgeway has been labeled as a “Sprinters Stage” given the relatively flat terrain and long gradual descents perfect for high speeds, big gears, big quads and ultimate glory.  Much to everyone’s surprise, and owing largely to her own versatility as a serious rider, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser managed to mix it up with other top sprinters and extended her rankings in the battle for the Green Jersey into second place, only 20 points behind current leader Georgio d’Thundercalves.

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser of the iPad-iPoop  team was also able to successfully defended her White Jersey early on with the one and only day’s climb up Mt. Pleasant.  Even the fast urban straightaways afterwards through the township of Ridgeway d’Lesser proved to be no match for her quick accelerations and cunning reflexes at the finishing line.  Pino Grigio should be a little nervous now about the maillot jaune  and his dwindling lead over the White Jersey holder, now only 23 seconds behind him.

Stage 3 (click HERE)

There would be need to fend off attacks, no mountain summits to traverse, nor any checkered lines to sprint for in today’s Stage 3 of the Tour de Ridgeway; the individual time trial. Today’s challenge was only one thing: the clock.

Not to be outdone by his narrowing lead over the fierce rivals in the general classification, current tour leader and owner of the maillot jaune, Pino Grigio, opted not to play it safe today and instead chose to bury himself in record time around the 27 kilometer route of rolling heads, long straightaway’s and a lot of headwind.  While some might now question his ability to handle himself over the next few stages of the tour after a performance like, Grigio did successfully extend his lead by another minute and 32 seconds over Fabia van Hall unt Hauser, increasing his overall lead to 2 minute and 19 seconds. And with only a few stages left, it will be hard to catch Pino now.

Stage 4 (click HERE)

If the goal yesterday was to make the point to the other riders that he’s nowhere near fighting then today was the day that Pino Grigio put an absolute stranglehold on his maillot jaune  in this year’s Tour of RidgewayIn a suicide attack immediately off the front upon exiting the neutral zone, Grigio broke away from the pack with ex-teammate from the Bitch-n-Moan  team, Mona de la Crème Brule, and proceeded to drive a blistering pace through the 35k stretch of roadway winding through the rural townships of Ridgeway, Crystal Beach, Sherkston, and Port Colborne; often in excess of speeds of up to 21 km/hr.

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser was nowhere to be seen during today’s stage and her 2nd place time evaporates to 3 minutes and 4 seconds behind current tour leader Pino Grigio.  De la Crème Brule climbs the rankings of the general classification, however, into 3rd position overall, only 1 minute behind van Hall unt Hauser.

Stage 5 (click HERE)

After two rest days the peloton was prepared for an inevitable tough day in the saddle and while the overall lead in the general classification has been all but sown up, the battle for both the Queen of the Mountain and Sprinter’s jerseys are still very much in play.

Today’s route had the cyclists returning to cottage country deep in the heard of the Crystal Beach valley.  That means there would definitely be lots of opportunities for both the sprinters and climbers to chip away at the overall leader’s board. Right out the gates the two big dogs in contention for the sprinters Green jersey went at one another down the first “Brunswick Bomber” with newcomer Fabia van Hall unt Hauser and Georgio d’Thundercalves, finishing 1 and 2 and catapulting van Hall unt Hasuer into the Green jersey by 10 points.

While Grigio continued to relax in the Peloton, van Hall unt Hasuer continued her all-out assault on today’s stage by then out-climbing the climbers up the Col de Shannon in record time as well as up the dreaded “Elmwood Wall” and thereby solidifying herself as the wearer of the tour’s White jersey as well.  Gaining only 30 seconds over Grigio by the stages finish, van Hall unt Hauser is making quite a mark for herself as the  person to beat in this tour for all contentions.

Stage 6 (click HERE)

Fabia van Hall unt Hauser continued her all-out assault on both the Sprinters and Queen of the Mountain jerseys in today’s Stage 6 of the Tour de Ridgeway.  However, Pino Grigio was unwilling to allow her to make up any more time on his 3 minute lead over van Hall unt Hauser.  Rolling eastward down the Friendship Trail at a staggering 14 kph, both Grigio and van Hall unt Hauser broke away from the rest of the Peloton in an early breakaway, only seconds after leaving the neutral area.

The two leader breakaway would then continue to stretch their lead over the rest of the peloton in all but a single kilometer of today’s entire 10k route; longest of the tour so far.  van Hall unt Hauser valiantly fought off Grigio to win vital sprinter points along both the ‘Burleigh to St. Bernard’ causeway and the ‘Jewell Avenue Bomber’, but it was Grigio who would not relent with the sadistic pace over the rest of the stage.   Neither warrior was willing to concede to the other.  Not even angry bees could slow down their full on attack on the rest of the peloton.

Ultimately it was the tour leader, Grigio who would pull out all the stops to beat van Hall unt Hauser in a wheel-to-wheel sprint for the finish by a mere split second and all but sealing his claim to the maillot jaune  and as this years’ Champion of the Tour de Ridgeway.

Stage 7 (click HERE)

After more than a few days off for recovery, the Tour de Ridgeway is set to complete the final seventh stage of this years’ tour.  While, Fabia van Hall unt Hauser has used the opportunity to rest up and, save, one impressive outing at the SunRype TRi-KiDS triathlon in Niagara one week ago and is now more than ready to defend her Sprinters and Climbers jerseys, Tour leader, Pino Grigio, has remained active by participating in the La Bici Classica, the Pedal 100 and the Tour de Rochester in past weeks so it will interesting to see how he will perform on tired legs in today’s final stage in defense of his maillot jaune.

All questions were soon answer, however, as both van Hall unt Hauser and Grigio decided to cross swords once again and form another two man breakaway from the rest of the Peloton early in the stage over the challenging 10k course, with neither racer willing to relent their stranglehold on the rest of the 2015 participants.  While van Hall unt Hauser laid claim to her white jersey by set ting another blistering pace up the grueling double Level 1 category climb up the Col de Point Prospect, not to mention collecting even more points along the ‘Beachwood Bomber’ towards securing her green jersey as well, Grigio was content to sit on her wheel and protect his 3+ minute overall lead over van Hall unt Hauser.

At the last sprint, however, it was Grigio once again proving to van Hall unt Hauser and the rest of the Peloton who has been the dominant force in this years Tour de Ridgeway by inching ahead of van Hall unt Hauser at the finishing line and thereby proclaiming himself as the overall winner of what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the most memorable tours in recent history.