[read to the end through some of the tech stuff to find out how to stream this to your TV in HD]

Unfortunately, the Eurosport Player doesn't work here in Canada. Unless you are lucky enough to be at home and have cable/sat. with a channel that carries the Tour, you are stuck watching it on the computer. If you are lazy, you can go to http://www.cyclingfans.com/ and there are links to watch the Tour in your browser. However, the quality is bad.

 

After watching the Real Deal team race down at Speedweek in April, winning preems, and such, I got kind of hooked on the notion of crit racing. One of the issues with which I struggle is getting enough racing time to work out all the details of how to race a bike. 7-8 OCUP races per season make it hard to learn to race. Further, I also have a hard time "racing" for 2 hours in a road race for one sprint at the finish line. Maybe racing up mountains in France would make it fun, but this is flat Ontario. I'd rather do the Toronto Donut Ride. It's more of a challenge. My "success" on the crit circuit has largely mirrored the efforts I had to make learning to race the track. It took two years to become competitent racing the track (noticed I didn't say good - the 14 year olds on the track know what I mean) and this is the first year taking crit racing seriously. I still have a lot of work to do. I have too many letters like DNF or DFL for results - but I recall that happened a lot on the track as well when I first started.

When I started racing, I found one of the issues I had was finding out about the races. The Ontario Cycling Association does publish races held in Ontario, but folks, the world is bigger than that. Certainly, anyone willing to do some driving can be racing all over every weekend and sometimes during the week. There are also a lot of good racing opportunities in the US in MI and NY and in Canada in Quebec. A lot of racers in Ontario seem to think the only things that matters is OCUP races. If you didn't know it, you can apply the results from races outside Ontario for upgrade points towards your license. Racing something other than the "usual" races also opens up training opportunities one would otherwise not have and sometimes can be fun racing against guys that have no idea who you are.

Today is Thursday, June 6. Last weekend the K/W Classic was held in Kitchener. The weekend before that was a road race in Frankenmooth, MI.

 

This weeks Midweek Crit in Mississuaga, ON is cancelled, folks. No racing in the rain practice tonight. I'm kind of miffed at having the night off because I was looking forward to practicing racing in the rain. I wanted to kill it this evening. I'm not blaming the Midweek CC staff; however, with last weeks poor turn out, I don't blame them.

Just as an FYI, last Thursday in Buffalo, the Buffalo CC had 30 racers out in the B race and 40 racers out in the A race racing in the POURING rain for the Larkinville Challenge. Yes, downpour. Everyone kept the rubber on the road. Breakaways happened in both races. These guys took advantage of the conditions and forced the pace to extreme proporitions on the first lap in the B race. Three guys got a 30 sec lead on the pack 10 laps into the race. 

At Midweek on Tuesday night, everyone ran for cover at the hint of rain and there ended up being only nine guys in the B race and 20 in the A race. While I was somewhat pleased to be in the top ten for a change, I was disappointed in the bad turn out. I saw too many guys return to their cars. WTF?

In my mind, you can't learn to race in the rain riding the trainer and watching it on TV. You have to do it. You have to experience the spray in your face, deal with getting soaked through, the brakes fading on the carbon rims, wonder if you'll slip out on a corner, feel the tires lose grip as you sprint out of corner a little too hard, etc.. I raced twice in the rain last week and once in April in Roswell, GA. Each time I got a bit more confident.

I guess, I am a bit peeved out American friends seem to fill the racing roster and we Canucks can not.

Comments?

Bike races go off rain or shine. But how often do we practice racing in the rain? Tuesday night is the Midweek Crit here in Toronto. It's a 1km loop in a industrial park on the edge of Toronto. I was watching the weather all day today. I was planning to race it regardless of the weather. In my mind, I knew we would be racing in the rain and I looked forward to the training opportunity. Part of my motivation/enthusiasm today was my lack of preparation and readiness when I raced in Roswell, GA some 2-3 weeks ago. It poured from the moment I arrived until the Pro race at the end of the day. As a result of my lack of training in the rain and general unpreparedness, I ended up not finishing. Today, I was set completing the race regardless of what the weather brought - redemption of sorts for the pathetic result on Roswell.

 

This is a project I started back in September. With the annoucement of the six day race last summer at the Forest City Velodrome, I decided it was time to upgrade the track bike. I originally bought my Fuji Track 2 with the idea of saving using the rental bikes at the track. I had no idea it would be almost three years later and I would be racing the track and loving it. So, I set out on a quest for a carbon track bike with a powertap. Today, I have almost completed the build with the arrival of the carbon frame from Hong Fu Bikes in China on Monday. The only thing currently missing from the build is the FSA Carbon Track cranks. I will get them next month.

carbontrack

The bike has the following components:

- 54cm Hong Fu FM126 12K Gloss finish track frame and fork ($500US)

- Chinese rims (I forget from who), 28 spoke, external nipples, 3K weeve, matt finish, tubulars ($280US)

- Phil Wood Hi Flange 28 spoke front hub ($200US)

- PowerTap Pro 28 spoke rear hub ($1000CAN)

- Adomo Road Seat ($150CAN)

- 3T Sphinx Ltd Carbon Track Bars (unfortunately, these are not legal for UCI sanctioned races) ($225CAN)

- FSA Cranks (from the old track bike)

- Speedplay Pedals (from old track bike)

- Vittoria Pista EVO CS track tubulars ($110CAN ea)

So, for around $2500, I have a carbon track bike. Add the FSA carbon cranks for $300US and a new BB ($40) and it's around $2800. The best track bikes made by Look start at $12K just for the frame.

 

 

Today is going to be a fun day. I am driving out to the track to try out the bike.

 

I fully intended to blog about my experiences while traveling around the southern US, but given the opportunity to sit on the patio in the sun relaxing, or sitting in front of the computer, I choose relaxing.

In case you were not aware, I left on Friday, April 19 for Brevard, NC to join the Real Deal training camp to ride the mountains in the area. On Thursday, April 25, I traveled with the Real Deal Elite team to Athens, GA to watch them race the Terrapin Twilight Crit and the Roswell Crit - both of which I raced in the amateur categories while they raced with the Pros. Since I was 1.5 hrs away from Atlanta, I left them on Monday, April 29 to travel to Atlanta, GA to race and train on the Dick Lane Velodrome. I was one spot of the podium on the Omnium for the Working Man's Two Day race. For me, other than watching the Real Deal guys race with the pros in the Terrapin Twilight, this probably was the highlight of the trip. I got to ride/race on a big track for the first time. On Thursday, May 2, I packed up the car, and headed to Cleveland, OH where I did some 54km on the Cleveland Velodrome. That was a treat because it's five hours from Toronto, and somewhere I intend to return to often. I got home late Friday, May 3, only to leave for London, ON on Saturday, May 4 to be there early for the Springbank Crit on Sunday, May 5. So, It's been a whirlwind trip over the last two weeks driving from here to there, parking in a hotel, getting the bikes ready, and repeat. I am happy to be home...but that has lead to a bit of a delima.

Last year, I did a lot of racing. April was a busy month. I did the Heck of the North ride, Paris/Ancaster, the last Track Race night, Calabogie, and something else I am sure I am forgetting. I was gone every weekend. I also raced most, if not all, the OCUP races all summer. I did the weekly time thursday time trial. I did the weekly Midweek Crit. I rode in France. I did a lot. Probably too much. By the time the Tour of Terra Cotta rolled around in August, I was raced out. I was done. But did that race anyways. I remember praying for race so I didn't have to show up. The result was getting caught up in a crash, breaking my collar bone, and being forced to rest for at least 3-4 weeks. The best day of the summer I recall, was actually the day after the crash when I slept the afternoon away in the back yard under the afternoon sun. I hadn't taken time to relax in so long. So, this year, I decided to be a lot more conservative when it came to racing, and remember why I got starting riding in the first place: to get/stay fit, and to have some fun. In fact, the first goal this year is to have fun. I think I succeeded at that goal today.

Today, I completedly my first official commissaire duty. I worked at the finish line for the Tour of Bronte which is a local citizen's race that runs through Bronte Provincial Park. It features closed roads with 50% road/50% gravel to simulate the Paris/Roubais style race.

As a racer, one never really appreciates the importants of race numbers. Today, I saw the other side of the equation. The race numbers are the only thing that identifies you, the rider, to the race officials and they are used much more than track when you cross the finish line. The race numbers are used in the following manner:

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