Posts Tagged ‘Ridgeway’

I’ve been holding off on this writing this post for a while now because, well, I still can hardly believe it.  But I’ve got the confirmations, did the leg work and I suppose it’s safe to finally accept it as well as put it out there publicly that:

I AM A SPONSORED TRIATHLETE!

Yup.

I shit you not.

That’s pretty exciting, right?

Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little…

(Inside I’m screaming like a tweener at a Bieber concert)

But before I divulge the particulars, let me first comment that I am no rock star triathlete nor do I possess anything resembling a “God-gifted skill”, or even somewhat “pro” qualities and/or status.  I’m just an average guy who works his ass off to be the best that he can be come race day, with what little there is to work with of course.  Or, maybe it’s that there is actually a lot to work with given the current size of my ass, I’m not sure how you want to spin it.  However, what definitely holds true is that I work hard and try my best.

The idea came to me a few years ago to approach a few local businesses of which I am both a supporter and frequent customer, with the request to sponsor me as a local athlete.  I didn’t of course because, well, I’m a schmuck.  I figured that no business owner in their right mind would ever want to endorse a “nobody” which, in the greater scheme of things, I am.  After all, sponsorship’s typically go to athletes who win events and thereby promoting their said sponsors through the act of standing on the podium for all to behold and revel in.  And while I have been on the podium once or twice, it’s certainly not a regular occasion.  Besides, finishing first in the “Clydesdale” age group category isn’t exactly the “Big Time”, so I let the idea slip away like so many lost dreams.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

But this year, I need a new race suit.  And that means a pretty big expense seeing as how I only need the one.  The thought then of spending serious cash on a race suit that calls attention to brands such as Sugoi, Zoot, 2XU, Orca, Pearl Izumi or Louis Garneau who, really, don’t give two shits about me beyond the fact that I just handed over my hard earned bucks to wear their outfit, wasn’t very palatable.  Besides, I’d inevitably be just another faceless lamb in the flock along the race course seeing as how it’s very possible that quite a few other participants would also be wearing the exact same thing.

Boooooor-ing.

So I reconsidered the option of asking for a local sponsorship.  I figured, hey, you could probably see my ass from orbit as it is, so what better billboard for getting ones brand name seen and advertised is there?  Those skinny little pro assholes just don’t have this kind of girth on which to show off their sponsors, do they?

Hells-to-the-NO!

Now I’ve mentioned it before in other posts that I’m fiercely loyal to the area in which I live and train (Ridgeway, Ontario), and I practice “think Global, act local” as often as possible.  I also do my very best to support all our local businesses whenever I dine out, or go to shows and events, or just shop.  Maybe – just maybe – one of these businesses would be interested in returning the favor by making a small investment in supporting one of their own.

Now, let’s be clear.  I wasn’t asking for money to buy (or be provided with) expensive equipment, performance supplements, or even to cover the entry fees for my events.  I just wanted something spiffy to race in that has logos and the brand names of companies and businesses that I believe in, support and endorse; things that inspire me.

That’s not asking a lot is it?

I swallowed my pride then and approached three local businesses that I would love to represent and as fortunate would have it – they all agreed.  I guess that makes this my triathlon equivalent of “Say Yes to the Dress!”

So without any further ado, here they are:

Brimstone Brewing Co.

brimstone

CRAVE LOCAL FRESH

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The Unroyal Ride Ambassadors

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It goes without saying that I am HUGE fan of all these businesses, and not just because they’re local and they’ve agreed to give me money.

I love everything they stand for:

  1. Fresh local food
  2. Great local beer
  3. Awesome local riding

Three of my favorite things in life I might add.

Of course, the bragging rights that go along with showing up to an Ironman triathlon in part sponsored by a brewery also definitely ups the “cool factor” just a bit too.

Take that Clif bar!

“Recharge with Milk”, my ass.

(bitches)

Both Brimstone Brewing Co. and CRAVE LOCAL FRESH operate out of The Sanctuary – Center for the Arts, a converted church 30 seconds from my front door.  My family and I love this place and frequent it often on evenings out for dinner, concerts, or just quiet pints of delicious craft beer (which aren’t exactly part of an “Ironman Diet” but, hey, “all work and no play…”, right?).  I will stop in on weekends for a bowl of homemade “recovery soup” on weekends after long winter rides and runs, and this is also my go-to place on “Daddy-Daughter Date Night” for a few rounds of Exploding Kittens while mommy is at work as well.  Chef Matt and staff certainly take care of us.

I am also particularly excited to represent The Unroyal Ride Ambassadors started by local in.cep.tion cyclery bike shop owner Brandon McGuire.  Essentially, they’re a “group of everyday riders, a few racers, all with no glorious ambitions of World Cup domination; rather to support, love and grow our sport”.

In other words, we’re ordinary dads on a mission.

Kind of like this:

But with bikes.

So what will I be wearing this season?

Well, just check out this bad ass race suit:

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How.  Cool.  Is.  That?

This is certainly going to turn some heads.

I just can’t wait for the season to get here already and I’m sincerely looking forward to racing for and supporting my new sponsors this spring/summer – hell, all year – by leading more group bike rides to and from The Sanctuary (rumor has it they have good beer and food) in order to explore the amazing area that I am so fortunate to train and live in.  How lucky am I?  Of course, it goes without saying that I will do my absolutely very best  to make them all proud come race time as well.

And, hey, even if I don’t get to stand on the podium this year, I’m pretty sure I still know a good place where I can get a decent victory dinner and drink and maybe even a congratulatory pat on the back and a “good job!“.  Whatever it happens to be, at the end of the day there will always be good soup and beer.

What else can I ever ask for?

“Fabia’s Big Ride”

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Bike
Tags: , ,

So this past holiday weekend (yesterday) I got to do something very special of which I am immensely proud.  And not necessarily for myself either.  No, yesterday marked HRH‘s epic bike ride from our home here in Ridgeway to Lock 3 in St. Catharines and onward to the grandparents’ house.  This is what the last 3-4 weeks of cycling with the kiddo have all been leading up to…her own Ironman journey, so to speak.

I don’t have a lot to say that I haven’t already posted HERE so, instead, here’s a record of the trip in pictures:

We left at 10:15am after a big breakfast, a coffee and a poop.  Well, I did anyway.

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We first rode along the Friendship Trail from here in Ridgeway for approximately 14 kilometers passing through Sherkston to Port Colborne.

We arrived just in time to make it across the Lock 7 bridge before a boat passed through on it’s way to Lake Erie.

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We then joined up with the Canal Trail beginning at the Robin Hood plant and, from there, we simply pedaled northbound towards St. Catharines stopping briefly at the Flatwater Center in Dain City for a picture in the grandstand.

The autumn colors were in full bloom along the entire pathway. This is one of the reasons why I consider myself so lucky to live and ride where I do.

Absolutely gorgeous.

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As we had planned, we stopped for a brief lunch of peanut butter and jelly and a few apple slices at the Flatwater Center in Welland before continuing on again.

It wasn’t long afterwards that HRH  learned another valuable lesson about riding:  always spit out and to the side…not directly ahead into the wind.  Hey, some lessons you just have to learn the hard way.

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We continued pedaling on through Allanburg towards Thorold for another 20k or so.  Fortunately at this point, the majority of the ride was on a gradual downhill as we were heading north down the Niagara Escarpment but there was still the odd small hill every so often to conquer just to remind her that this was meant to be something of a challenge.

After all, anything that matters take a little work right?

After another hour or so we popped out at the tippy-top of the Flight Locks in Thorold to begin our big decent down to our finish destination at the Lock 3 Viewing Complex.

Oh, we stopped for these candid shots with the amazing murals in Thorold as well.

It was only another 10-15 minutes from there before we arrived at our intended “finish line” after 53 kilometers of cycling.  Of course, we had to take the obligatory victory photos.

I had even brought along my dad for the ride seeing as how I was using his bike (click HERE) and I like to think he was looking down on us from somewhere smiling.

This one however I think is the real winner on the day:

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Of course, it took her a moment to get it up there in the first place.

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So a celebratory hot chocolate was definitely in order.

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Lastly, we tackled the final 2 kilometers to grandma and grandpa’s house and a well-deserved treat.

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So what does an 11-year-old cyclist do to warm down after a long, chilly, autumn ride?

Why, this little ensemble of course:

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I’m sure all the greats had one:  Eddy Merckz, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Induráin, Greg LeMonde…shit, I hear Chris Froome even warms down in a fuzzy Kermit the Frog suit.

Me?

I’ll stick to the essentials.

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Anyway, this was just about the best way to begin winding down the riding season if you ask me.  I know I’m currently getting in the mindset to renew my Ironman training so I figure having a little fun before that hammer drops would be a good idea.

Besides, if you can’t enjoy your passions with the ones you love…what’s the point?

“Riding with Fabia”

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Bike
Tags: , ,

Summer is finally over, meaning that I have to begin focusing on the upcoming Ironman re-do in July; let’s just say that I have unfinished business there (click HERE).  Therefore, the “training plan” is about to change to be more run and swim focused through the autumn and winter months as biking season begins to wind down.  I’m already in the pool twice a week building a solid base of 6000-7000m weekly, and I’m now running shorter interval runs (3x a week) anticipating a return to my regular fartlek and long progression runs in another month or so.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m giving up the bike just yet, no.  It’s just that I’m not really “training” on the bike at the moment by involving myself in weekly “Hammerfest” rides anymore.  Instead, I’ve been doing some sweep riding for charity (click HERE) and soon I’d like to begin breaking out Snowflake more regularly and actually learn how to mountain bike properly.

However, there is another type of riding that I’ve been enjoying more frequently as well – cycling with the kiddo.

14480671_10154396707870977_384844982912467854_oJust recently, we introduced HRH  to a proper women’s road bike (thanks Colette!).  We replaced the clip pedals with normal pedals, gave it a decent tune up and, Bob’s your uncle, we’re now riding together – regularly – 2 to 3 times a week.

It’s a whole new world for her.

On these rides, I’ve been giving her the crash course on how to use her gears effectively so she can manage a decent pace (for an 11-year-old anyway), otherwise known as the delicate art of “cadence”.  She’s no lover of hills (yet) – like her mom – but we’ve practiced how to get up and over them anyway.  We’ve practiced how to draft properly and she has become rather proficient at riding on my wheel.  We’ve even practiced the dynamics of riding in a group (communicating, hand signals, clearing intersections, etc.) on the occasions we have invited another cycling buddy along for the ride.  We’ve practiced how to drink on the bike as well as how to ride safely in traffic.

And, yes, we’ve even practiced how to spit and wipe your nose whilst riding too.

You know: the fundamentals.

And I admit, she even has her own Strava account as well as her own special sprint segment of which she is now gunning to be the KOM.

img_0856In other words, we haven’t just been going around the block any more like we did last summer during our ‘Tour de Ridgeway’ outings, no sir.  This year, now that she has the proper tools, “Fabia van Hall unt Hauser” has reinvented herself as a serious Grand Tour rider, so to speak.

Meaning, we’ve been doing some decent distance.

So far, we have managed to complete a whopping 45k ride as our longest ride to date, and then we also complete a few other shorter, fun rides (weather permitting) that more or less explore all the back country roads in and around our area that she has never had a reason to go down before and, likely, never would have been able to get to on her own pedal power.

Remember, after 10-11k last year on her little kid’s bike – her legs were toast.

I think the most fun part of it (for me anyway) is getting to witness that sense of accomplishment and, ultimately, that “freedom” that comes from the accomplishment of completing some serious distance, especially after she realizes that she has ridden out to Port Colborne, Stevensville or Fort Erie…all by herself.

1We have even set our own goal now to “train” towards to be tackled in the next 2-3 weeks or so, in that we’re going to ride from our home here in Ridgeway to her grandparent’s place in St. Catharines – a total of approximately 57-60k which, for her, will be quite the epic journey.

Stay tuned, folks.

What this all means for me besides being a fun way to wind down my riding season knowing that early morning trainer rides are likely in my near future (never say never, honey), is that I get to share my love of riding with my daughter and spend some quality time in the saddle together. And, believe you me; our conversations have about as many boundaries are our chosen cycle routes these days.

This is definitely something I can see us doing a lot more of and bonding over in the future and as she grows older and more capable, I may even have myself my new riding/training partner in the making.

Clara Hughes – watch out!

The Roadrunner

Posted: August 17, 2016 in In Transition
Tags: , ,

When I was growing up in St. Catharines, Ontario, we lived fairly close to the Welland Canal.  For those you not in the know, the Welland Canal is a ship canal which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie., traversing the Niagara Peninsula from Port Weller to Port Colborne.  The canal forms a key section of the St. Lawrence Seaway, enabling ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment and bypass Niagara Falls.

So, yeah, it’s kind of a thing in this area.

Anyway, the canal played a major role in my life as a kid as we would take many a family picnic on the weekends to the Lock 3 Viewing Complex (now called the Welland Canal Center) to watch the ships pass.  When foreign vessels passed through we could toss coins out onto the ships deck and the deck hands would often toss back their own foreign currency (I still have these coins in an old tin on our mantelpiece at home – click HERE).  As a kid, this was my first exposure to the outside world.  Other times, we would walk our dogs down to the canal and play along the many footpaths that existed between the current canal and the old (3rd) canal which ran more or less perpendicular to the modern one.

On some occasions, my buddies and I would ride our bikes along the Canal Rd. which ran alongside the entire length of the canal in St. Catharines down to Lock One where my dad worked nearby at a factory.  I remember these bike rides as being long, arduous trips that took most of the day.  I now know, of course, that the total round trip distance was only around 25 to 30 kilometers or so but, still, when you were riding an orange Schwinn bike with a banana seat and ape handle bars, it may as well been a stage of the Tour de France.

I bring this all up now, because one of the features I remember well from the Welland Canal, as popular as any of the ships we saw regularly, was a guy named Dennis, or as my dad had nicknamed him, “The Roadrunner”.

On any given day, most days usually, you’d see Dennis running along Canal Rd. down to Lock One and then back again.  He’d be lumbering along the side of the road (this was long before there was a convenient footpath), topless, with a steely look on his face.  Now, knowing how far that distance seemed on my bike, I thought Dennis must be certifiably superhuman.

In essence, Dennis was my earliest recollection of long distance running.  I wondered what would drive someone to run such long distances.  Did he do it voluntarily?  Did he actually enjoy  it?

Judging by the expressionless look on his face, I couldn’t tell for sure.

God only knows.

Now, contemplating both the distance and time it must have taken him to run that distance, never mind the frequency in which he did it, well, let’s just say that my tiny little lizard brain just couldn’t conceive why anyone would do such a thing.  Not knowing anything about marathons or endurance sports, I just figured he was crazy.

Why am I bringing this all up now?

Well, let’s fast forward nearly 25 years to 2012.

This was the year I first really got acquainted with long distances as I was preparing for my Ironman.  My weekly mileage on the road that year averaged somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-70 kilometers a week depending on the schedule.  Often, I used the same Canal Rd. route for these runs.  Needless to say, I had lots of time to think and reflect and, of course, some of those random thought processes have already been recorded here in these blog posts.

One of the things I sometimes found myself thinking back to (especially when running Canal Rd.) was ‘ol Dennis and how incredibly superhuman he seemed to me in accomplishing what I had originally thought to be the impossible.  I often used that memory to keep me going, knowing that, yeah, it is possible.  I mean, never in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought that I’d ever be that crazy to run those kinds of distances regularly but, hey, here I was…doing  it.

It was  possible.

Motivation sometimes comes from strange places, what can I say?

Now, fast forward again to just these past few years.

Often my runs will take me along the Friendship Trail which runs near my house in Ridgeway (where I live now), which spans between Fort Erie and Port Colborne.  When I’m not running along it I might cycle it as a convenient thoroughfare to either end in order to begin my long bike rides out to Niagara Falls, St. Catharines or out to Dunnville and Nanticoke, or simply (as it was today) to get to the YMCA’s that are also conveniently located at either end.  The trail is also popular with other local runners, dog walkers, recreational cyclists, hikers, etc.

Periodically, I’d see this other runner out on the trail, usually in the sections that were the most remote and removed from the other nearby townships which the trail runs through.  For whatever reason, this runner intrigued me as he seemed so….familiar, for whatever reason.

Then it hit me:  Dennis?

Now, bearing in mind that this was approximately 25 to 30 years later, how odd would it be that this same guy would suddenly appear in my area…much less running!  Doubtful he would remember who I was anyway.  I mean, I was just a kid then.  Sure I used to deliver the newspaper to his mom and periodically, he’d be there and say ‘hi’; he was a friendly enough guy, of course.  But, still, 25 to 30 years is a very long time.

Anyway, on Monday I was riding the trail to the Port Colborne YMCA to teach my spin class and, low and beyond, there’s this guy….topless, lumbering along with that oh, so familiar steely glare on his face.

I decided to take a chance.

“Excuse me, are you Dennis (last name withheld)?”

The reaction I got was priceless.

I mean, really, when a weirdo dressed in a Lyrca cycling kit stops you in the middle of nowhere, and identifies you by name…well, just imagine the look of surprise you might have on your face.

That was exactly the look I got just then.

Long story short:  it was him.

The Roadrunner!

Small world, eh?

I rode alongside him for a brief spell and explained who I was and, yes, he even remembered me (or, at least he was polite enough to fake it anyway).  I told him of my own long distance experiences over the past few years and how I had often thought back to him running along Canal Rd. as a kid, and how much motivation those memories had provided me in those dark moments that will inevitably come at certain points during long runs.

Then I told him how crazy I thought he was and he laughed (thankfully).

It turns out that Dennis now runs “Pony Paradise” at Saddlebrook Farms in Sherkston where, as it just so happens, is where I tend to see him running the trail.  Obviously, Dennis still runs, albeit not the long hauls he used to.  He keeps his distances short (approximately 5 or 6 kilometers) and regular and prefers the trail because it’s “peaceful”.

I guess that answers my question from way back when: yes, he must really  enjoy it.

Now I’m not going to wager how old Dennis is these days but, let me put it this way:  if I’m still running 5 or 6 kilometers with any regularity in, say, another 10 to 15 years or so – and enjoying  it – I will be very pleased with myself indeed.

Again, motivation comes from funny places.

It does bother me a bit though that Dennis, at whatever age he is now, still looks better with his top off than I ever have or, likely, ever will.

Good on ya, Dennis!

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.

Lord knows that I have my road rage moments as cyclist, specifically now that the mindless hordes of tourists have invaded my otherwise quiet rural paradise (click HERE), and would LOVE to get off my bike and make with the roundhouse kicks.  Of course, that doesn’t typically happen. In the past have dealt with dogs, idiot drivers, scooters and e-bikes, crazy ass chipmunks, rutting animals and other hazards unique to living in the country (click HERE) but yesterday I faced another different challenge: the idiot pedestrian.

There I was, joyfully zipping through town during one of my weekly bike rides.  Despite the new bi-laws that have been passed recently (click HERE) in regards to motor vehicles giving cyclists a wide birth, I still choose to sometimes ride in the middle of the road (as long as I’m not holding up traffic), particularly when passing through town where there are lots of parked cars, etc.  I mean, why tempt fate right?

So such was the case yesterday.

While doing so, I noticed an older lady up ahead waiting by the side of the road with her dog looking to cross the road.  She wasn’t at an intersection or any of the numerous pedestrian crosswalks that are in town, no, she was just there on the sidewalk waiting to cross to the other side.  She looked right me (several times as a matter of fact) so I know she saw me coming.  She never moved and continued to keep her gaze on me so I figured I was safe to keep going and she’d continue crossing safely after I had passed.  After all, I had the right of way right?

Wrong.

Then it happened.

Just as I approached within a couple of feet she decides to step out directly…in…front…of…me.

The fuck?!

I immediately swerved out of her way, narrowly missing both her and the oncoming car in the opposite lane.

What the hell?

Concerned, I circled back to make sure everything was okay.  I don’t know why exactly, but I felt obligated to do so seeing as she was older.  When I reached her she immediately took on an immediate heir of exasperated indignance like it was *I*  that had done something wrong.

“You really need to watch where you’re going!”, she loudly proclaimed so that the whole street could hear.

I was flabbergasted.

“You walked right out in front of me!  Didn’t you see me coming?”

I was trying to be nice.

Then she added:

“Yes, but you were going too fast!”

I’m pretty sure at this point that steam started spewing from my ears and I briefly considered hopping off the bike to dropkick her right in the cooter, but other pedestrians had started to gather after her first loud proclamation and, hey, when people who haven’t really seen what happened what happened, witness a cyclist losing his shit on old lady and her little rat fuck of a dog, well, who are you going to assume is the bad guy?  There was simply not going to be any winning of this situation so I retreated on down the road fuming.

Of course, social media being the wonderful platform it is now enables me to give her (you) the response I would have loved to have given her in the moment had others not been around.

First off, in regard to her first comment: “You really need to watch where you’re going”,  the pure fact that you’re now on the opposite side of the road uninjured lends proof that I WAS paying attention you old biddy.  What’s your excuse exactly?  You watched me coming.  I know this because you took a tentative step out into the road when I was still a ways off and when you turned that empty melon you call a head to look in my direction, you hesitated and remained on the sidewalk because you saw me coming.  You then proceeded to track my progress as I got closer and closer until I was about 10-15 ft away. It was then you decided that it was safe to start your crossing.  How stupid are you anyway?

Did you think that you were impervious to being hit, or that life was giving you the immediate right of way?  What?   Help me understand.  By the way, there was a pedestrian crosswalk not far up the road where you could have crossed safely having the right of way and I would have stopped happily to let you do so.

Just sayin’…

Secondly, as far as “you were going too fast” goes, I was holding a 34km/h pace in a 50km/h zone in the MIDDLE of the road so, no, I was not in fact going too fast. Maybe you ride at a snails’ pace when you ride your bike to market or, say, during tornadoes, but I “cycle” meaning that I keep a fairly steady pace.  So stepping out in front of me while I’m hauling ass means I’m going to hit you if you’re not lucky. I can’t stop on a dime any more than any other vehicle on the road at the time can.

In fact,  had I been driving a car you and your pooch would be dead right now.

Chew on that.

And on that point, while I definitely believe that my (or anyone else for that matter) running you over would have significantly contributed to the enrichment of the gene pool and advancement of the human species – I am a big believer in Darwinism in its most basic of forms – I do feel sorry for your dog that you inevitably walked directly into harm’s way. I mean, what was your thought process exactly?

I can’t help but wonder what else you coax this poor mutt into doing?

“C’mon poochy, lets jump into this erupting volcano, it’ll be okay.”

“C’mon poochy, let’s drink this battery acid, nothing bad will happen.”

“C’mon poochy, don’t worry about that oncoming transport truck, I’m sure it’ll stop.”

Run dog, run.

Sometimes there’s just no helping stupid.

I love where I live.

There’s a nice ebb and flow to it in that it’s busier and more lively in the summer season and then quiet and peaceful again during the winter months.  After my long run this morning I can definitely say without any uncertainly whatsoever, that we are definitely ebbing.

Gawd.

Is it October already?

Seriously?

You see, I live in Ridgeway, Ontario and I feel very fortunate to be able to train here.  There is ample room to roam on my bike and enough country roads to keep my running route options plentiful.  There is a nicely paved ‘Friendship Trail’ that runs the entire span from Port Colborne to Fort Erie and then the Niagara Parkway itself, one of the most scenic roadways anywhere, which follows the Niagara River past Niagara Falls and then along the Niagara Gorge all the way into the historic townships of Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Other times I can ride to Port Colborne along the trail and then follow Lakeshore Rd., through cottage country all along the edge of Lake Erie through Long Beach, Low Banks and Rock Point.  For the 50 or so kilometers between Port Colborne to Dunnville it’ all beaches, embankments and huge spinning windmills – it’s awesome! It’s just too bad there are too many drunken boaters otherwise there would be lots of good swimming opportunities as well.  So I have it pretty good if I do say so myself (and I do).

Ridgeway stands alongside Crystal Beach on its eastern side; a single street (Ridge Rd.) separates the two.  I literally can run an entire marathon distance completely contained within, say, a 2 kilometer square area between Erie Rd. in the south and Michener in the north, and between Gorham Rd. on the east and Schooley on the west; the very heart and epic center of Canadian cottage country.  Think endless streets and lane ways all lined with quaint beach homes and outdoor patios – each one of which will inevitably have a BBQ.  Ridgeway itself has its own elaborate network of sleepy streets and neighborhoods that spread out between Highway 3 and Thunder Bay Rd. which runs along the lake.  There there’s MacDonald Drive that picks up after Thunder Bay and twists and winds along the Erie lakeshore past vast private properties, meticulously manicured lawns and more tennis courts than you could shake a racquet at.  So, yeah, there’s a lot of space and I know pretty much all of it by this point.  Shit, I could run some of my more popular running routes blindfolded.  Once you get out Ridgeway a little further to the north it’s out and into proper southern Ontario farmland; cows; horses; sheep; and bees…lots and lots of apiaries.

There is also a lot of history in this area (click HERE for a small sample from of my favorite running routes) as well and for all directions there’s practically an unlimited number of cool old rickety barns, school houses, farms, historical brick manors, stone silos and abandoned and dilapidated stone walls.

Another feature to the area is that it is practically pancake flat.  I’m not sure where the “ridge” is that Ridgeway is officially named after, but it can’t be much of a drop.  Sure, we have some rolling hills and little incline that rises off the lake but, really, it’s pretty much flat ground.  This is good if you’re not a particular fan of hilly workouts meaning that if you’re serious you have to take matters into your own hands (click HERE).  But, hey, you can’t have everything I guess.  I still think of this as a good thing though.

When you talk about ebb and flow, you typically begin with the ebb.  Well, I’m going to buck popular convention and start with the flow instead.

Beach season begins to wind down in October when the water starts to cool a bit more and the days get shorter.  It’s still incredibly beautiful in the area with the changing autumn colors, but nobody goes to the beach to look at the trees am I right?  By November, 70% of the cottages in the Crystal Beach area are boarded up shut.  The traffic begins to wind down, restaurants shorten their hours or close up altogether, and the prices return to normal at the local grocers.  By December, its eerie quiet and the locals get to return to their favorite café’s and haunts.  Suddenly everybody is doing the speed limit again. On some days I can run down the middle of Ridge Road through town and not have to worry about traffic.  I can run through Crystal Beach and not see a single person; in fact, it’s uncommon if I ever do.

But after a while all this quiet gets kind of lonely, ya know?  You can only run so many country roads in the middle of winter through polar vortex temperatures and 3″ snow drifts before you begin to think to yourself, “Hey, this kinda sucks.  I wish there was more people around”.

Queue the ebb.

On Memorial Day (May 25th), the day I will forever recognize as the official opening of “The Season”, every street in almost every neighborhood will play host to dozens of bonfires and backyard parties, the like of which even Nero himself would be ashamed to attend.  Suddenly I don’t have the place to myself anymore as the place literally goes ape shit.

Yes, The tourists are back en force.  They begin rolling in on weekends through April and early May to open up their summer homes and cottages for the season.  Suddenly, you can’t get a parking spot outside your favorite breakfast nook for all the out of town license place; much less a seat inside.  The traffic returns with a vengeance and suddenly everybody is in just a little bit more of a hurry to get everywhere and, consequentially, a little less willing to move over and give some safe distance to the runner on the side of the road as they pass; there is definitely a lot more raised index fingers than waving hands.

Signals?  Who needs ‘em?

And then there’s all the rental scooters and e-bikes to contend with and everyone suddenly feels obliged to occupy what few bike lanes we actually have. Just heading out of town on your bike and you’ll inevitably end up sprinting with some douche canoe on a mobility scooter who thinks he can make the next right hand turn before you get there.  And then there’s the moolyak who’s more focused on searching out “Beach” on his GPS while driving and just about runs you over as you try to attempt to navigate a busy intersection safely.  It never stops.

I once had a tourist pull his car over into the driveway directly ahead of me completely blocking my way. He wanted to know where the lake was.  Are you shitting me?  My heart is about to explode, I’m leaking from every pour in this God forsaken heat and you stop me to ask directions?  I just told him to keep driving south until his ankles got wet.

I don’t simply run/bike the first 10-15 minutes (depending on which I choose to go) of my workouts anymore just to get out of town and into the countryside, away from the steady congestion of rude ass tourists; I am running/riding for my life.  Tempers will flare and I have been known to pitch the “double finger salute” in inattentive tourist’s rearview windows.  Inevitably I also have to spend this time getting out of town to the chants of “Run Forest Run!”, or the ever popular “Run Fatboy Run!”  tossed out by the odd drunken beach goer driving past in a Jeep, who resembles some reject from the cast of ‘Entourage’.

Try much, buddy?

Mostly it’s the looks they give me.  I could be running down Erie Rd. past all the public beaches (one of my usual routes out of town) and people will look at me in complete bewilderment, as if thinking to themselves: “what the fuck is that?”   You’d think they’d never seen a runner before.  I get that I’m not all that attractive at the best of times and I’m sure I’m quite the spectacle when I’m an absolute hot and nasty mess and there’s about an inch of bug carcasses stuck to my sweaty skin and matted into my arm and leg hair but, still, those looks can hurt.

I like to pretend that they’re just 100% mesmerized at just having witnessed some incredibly sturdy and impressive go by, as if Godzilla had successfully mated with a Panzer tank and it was jogging past at just that very second.

Of course, I know whats really going through their minds: “Eww”.

People – tourists – are absolutely everywhere.  As I ran by the only local grocer in town on my long run today I couldn’t help but notice that the parking lot now had 3 Mercedes, 2 Humvee’s and a Porche; just the kind of rugged vehicles necessary for rural life.  There was a lady standing at her car complaining to her Rico Suave boyfriend that they didn’t have any cold vitamin water inside.

Gawd x 2.

It’s like in that vampire movie ’30 Days of Night’, only the tourists are the vampires who have come to prey on the unsuspecting locals, except during the daytime where they run rampant through the streets devouring everything and anybody in their path while we locals hide under buildings and front porches waiting for them to leave.  Come June (i.e. now) it’s kind of annoying but livable, by July I’m hitting the brink of insanity and by August I don’t even want to leave the house.  If I make it through to late September I consider it a good training season.

I rest.

I recover.

I can begin returning to the local restaurants and cafes.

I get anxious for the inevitable flow of people back out of Ridgeway and for the peace and quiet of the winter months to arrive again and rescue us all; when I can run and roam pretty much unchallenged through my rural paradise once again.  That’s where my head space was today anyway, as a steady stream of tourists narrowly zoomed by me by the side of the road with merely inches to spare.

I’m glad you’re all back, but fucking move over already!

So while my social self is happy that life has once again returned to the area, the triathlete in me is already counting down the months until I can have my community back with which to train again normally…safely.  Only three more months to go.

Such is life and training in Ridgeway.