Monday, 1 August 2016

Kingston Long Course Triathlon: 2'nd OA 2:50:19

The Kingston triathlon is a long running, pretty much historical, race on the Ontario triathlon circuit.  I raced the long course for my first time last year, but unfortunately the day ended with a DQ.  Myself and Jordan Monnink (who were sitting 1'st and 2'nd at the time) missed a turn on the bike course on the way back into town, (cutting the course), which resulted in a DQ for both of us.  The infamous missed turn was relatively unclear compared to other course markings, causing some frustration from both Jordan and I.  You can read more about my thoughts after last years DQ here.

I traveled to the race this year with fellow pro Mikael Staer Nathan.  His girlfriend joined us, graciously driving us both ways, and his mom and dog (pancake) also came to cheer us on.
Pancake likes bananas

Race Summary 

The field was quite competitive on the mens side, with fellow pros Jordan, Mikael, and Alex VanderLinden mixing it up at this years race (along with a few other local fast guys).  We all started the swim together, and kept together for about the first half.  The pack blew apart when the women's race favourite Angela Quick made an attack at the turnaround.  I didn't end up making the break, and was left to swim solo for the rest (which ended up being pretty good, because the lead pack went off course).  Angela beat us all out of the water.
I started the bike a bit down from Jordan and Alex, but ahead of Mikael.  I caught Alex maybe 15km into the bike (he ended up pulling out of the race) but never caught Jordan.  I came off the bike in 2'nd, and was feeling good even after dropping a full bottle of eLoad.  Heading into the run, I was about 1.5 minutes down from Jordan, and 1.5 minute ahead on Mikael.  
I ran well in my Skechers Go Run4's for the whole 15km (albeit no socks, so there was some blood post race).  My pace stayed strong and consistent, and although I couldn't catch Jordan, I held off a hard chasing Mikael to claim second.  
Jordan would have won last year (with me a likely second), so it was nice to see that play out this year (and count).

The overall finishers

Overall

Jordan and I both made the correct turn this year and finished 1/2.  Multisport Canada did a standup job of making sure this corner was better marked this year.  Instead of a single/small obscure sign (with no volunteers) marking the turn like last year, this year there were 3 big signs, a row of pylons, and two volunteers at the corner.  Much appreciated!

Thanks to all who were cheering from back home and for all the cheers/support from Mettle Multisport.  By the way, Mettle Multisport is hosting a transition clinic in a couple weeks...click here for more details!  Up next is Timberman 70.3 down in New Hampshire.  

Monday, 18 July 2016

Gravenhurst Olympic-2'nd OA 1:59:57

The Gravenhurst triathlon is one of the more unique races in Ontario.  The race starts with a steamship ride to the middle of the lake, where you are dropped, lined up, and then required to swim back to land.

Loading the boats


I had the pleasure of staying over with the McCoy family at their cottage for the weekend.  They were extremely hospitable, and it made for a very nice weekend up in Muskoka.

Race Summary

The long run up to transition

The swim segment was pretty typical with no real surprises.  Jackson Laundry and I headed onto the bikes about the same time, and headed onto the hilly/winding bike course.

video

The bike course proved to be much more eventful, with a lot of fast, tight turns, small/steep hills, and a fair amount of loose gravel.  I saw one of the women favourites Emma Plater (her race report here) got an untimely flat midway on the course.
Out on the bike

I was back from Jackson the whole bike, but near the end, I lost sight of him completely. I thought he just hammered out a big lead, but it turns out he got hit by a car!  There is much more detail to the story, and you can find his report here.

I didn't see the incident, so when I headed out onto the run, I thought I was in second.  It was only at the halfway point when Jackson went by me that I found out what happened.
I guess I was too fast on the bike, so the camera man wasn't in position and only got my back
He didn't seem significantly hurt, and must have had a huge adrenaline surge, because he ran by me fast.  It was good to see he was ok and was able to claim his rightful win.  I finished a bit of a ways back of him in second (where I got tripped up on the finish banner).

video

I was good to see Jackson was alright.  Huge props to him for such a strong finish!
The race went well and issue free, which is good for this point in the season.  Up next I'll be racing in Kingston for the long course race, and then looking to give another 70.3 a go.



Monday, 11 July 2016

Toronto Triathlon Festival- 1'st OA, 1:55:19 Olympic

I always like racing at the Toronto Triathlon Festival.  The venue is one of the best around, and the bike course is especially nice with closed highways to ride on.  I won this race last year and became the provincial champ in the distance, so it was only natural that I wanted to be back this year and defend my title.

After a difficult race in Mont Tremblant a few weekends ago where I had muscle tightness problems on the bike, I was hoping for a better race this weekend.  I was able to see Scott at Fitt 1'st during the week leading into the race (and we were able to make some good changes to my bike), so I was feeling much more confident in my bike/aero position.

Race Summary

Unlike last year where I started in the fourth wave, at this years race I started in the first "elite" wave.  The elite wave consisted of three people...one who swam faster than me, and one who swam slower, so I pretty much just had a solo swim.  Kirk Hopkins beat me out of the water by around 3 minutes, so I had a lot of time to make up on the bike, but it was nice to have someone to chase.
I caught up to Kirk about 25km in, but just as I was about to pass him, he started swerving back and forth on the road, and I nearly crashed into him.  Turns out he got a flat right as I went by (I didn't know this until after), and it was fortunate that there were no injuries.
I had no one else even close to me off the bike, so I had a solo run too.  On the back portion of the run course, I saw Daniel Clarke chasing from a ways back (he had started in a later wave, so there was a time gap).  When I crossed the line first, I was unsure if I had actually won.  I waited for Daniel to cross the line, and after the math was done, it was announced I had won by 25 seconds (results say 37).

Overall

It was a pretty awesome event in downtown Toronto.  There were a bunch of athletes from Mettle Multisport racing this weekend, as well as a large group from Harvest Bible Chapel (doing the sprint relay), so I was surrounded by great people.  My family also came to watch, and it was my Dads birthday, so it was great to get a win for him!

My next race is Multisport Canada Gravenhurst this upcoming weekend, so its a pretty short turnaround! Check out some pictures from the race below:

It was an early morning race start.  6:50am gun went off

When there are only 3 people in your wave, its pretty chill

Heading up the DVP...my parents got this shot from an overhead bridge

Coming in off the bike.  My eLoad didn't fall off my bike this year
Running into the finish in my Skechers Go Run 4's

Successfully defended my provincial title!
On the podium in my Skechers

Some of the relay members from HBCYR.  Great job everyone!

With fellow Mettle coach Christine who also won her AG!


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Rough Day At the Races-Mont Tremblant 70.3

I didn't have a great race in Mont. Tremblant...in fact my race itself was quite dreadful in regards to performance.  My body tightened up about 65km into the bike, and I had a real battle just to finish the rest of the ride.  Then I had to decide if I call it a day, or run a half marathon.  I decided I was going to make it to the finish, which I did, but it was at an embarrassingly slow pace.  There was quite the battle going on in my head during the run, and my thought process was going something like this:  

"Why am I still running"...(then I motivate myself to keep going)"you can do it Andy...keep going"...(run for 100m then)..."why am I still running"  and repeat for 21.1km.

I did eventually finish, and I think I'm better off for it (opposed to calling it quits).  I'm not a fan of dropping out of races, and if I can still move forward without injuring myself (or causing further damage to my body), I'll keep fighting and get it done.

There is a definite need to evaluate my bike ride in the coming weeks...why did I tighten up and what can be done to help with this.  I'll likely be tinkering with my aero position, bike training, and apparel selection in the coming weeks to better prepare myself for 90km in aero position.

Overall however, I had a great weekend.  This race was without a doubt the best race I have ever attended, and I had a ton of fun.  The organization of the event, the venue, and the overall atmosphere were absolutely amazing.  There was so much awesomeness going on at this race, that even though I had a rough day on the race course, I still had a great time and am feeling positive going forward.

Some Photos from the race:

Pre-race photo shoot with Skechers!  I'm third from the left

My setup in transition race morning.  All loaded up with eLoad for what would be a hot race.


Swim start (I am third swimmer from the left).  The plane is approaching

Fighter jet flyover...I really like jets, so this was awesome

We had camera guys on motorbikes snapping photos of us on course!  I was still feeling good at this point.

Mikael, Kristen and I went on the luge after...no problem going fast there!








Sunday, 5 June 2016

Coming Full Circle-Milton Triathlon 1'st Overall

I didn’t grow up racing triathlon.  In fact, I grew up with a particular dislike of swimming, biking, and running.  When my mom suggested I enter a local triathlon race in my early teens, I respectfully declined (which in teen translates to a plain “no”).  A few inspirational teachers in high school gradually changed my perspective on the sport, and on June 5, 2011 (exactly 5 years ago), I headed out to Milton with my family to see what this triathlon thing was all about.  I didn't have a huge breakthrough win in my first race (I was 27'th overall), but I definitely caught the triathlon bug, and have been racing ever since.

My first race...mummy in the background

Coincidently (it really is a coincidence...I didn't plan this out), today is also June 5'th, and I was back racing in Milton for my first time since 2011.  Today also marked a new page in my triathlon career as it was my first official race racing as a pro.
Pre-Race with some of my Mettle athletes (who did great today)


A Quick Race Re-cap 

There wasn't a stacked field at todays event, but there were certainly some fast guys that could contend for the win, namely Mikael Staer Nathan and Jessey the Elf...the Tri-Elf-lete (who I have previously known as Ben Sayles).  

Ben had his usual fast swim and put around a minute and a bit on Mikael and I.  It was my first time in open water this year, and I was just happy the water wasn't freezing cold.  
Mikael and I started the bike together, but he soon dropped back (due to shoe issues) and I started to put time into him.  I took the lead in the race about 10km into the bike (after a missed turn which cost me some time...I could have sworn that arrow was pointing straight).  
Ben stuck with me for the rest of the bike, and actually surged at the end to go into T2 first.  I quickly regained the lead on the run, and never gave it up.  I crossed the line feeling strong and captured the win in my season opener.



The 2016 Season

This year will be my first year racing as a pro, and I will be focusing primarily on the half iron distance.  I've had a ton of help getting to where I am today (5 years after my first race), and I have some awesome people around me supporting me as I go forward.  This year, I have the privilege of being supported by: Mettle MultisportMultisport CanadaSkechers Performance Canada, and eLoad Sport Nutrition (watch my video by following the link).  My coach Derek has been instrumental in my development as an athlete, and my family, friends/training partners all deserve a huge thank you.

As fellow athlete Sjaan Gerth put it to me last year, hopefully my first win (as a pro) is a harbinger of good things to come.



Friday, 27 May 2016

Saying No

Sometimes it is better to say No than it is to say Yes.  More often than not, it is also much harder to say No than to say Yes.  This isn't the simple No we are talking about.  It is the hard No.  It is the No  that forfeits the immediate gain.  It is the No that puts others first and yourself second.  This No does not seem convenient nor does it seem better, but this is only an illusion.  In reality, this No is liberating and full of hope...it is better than saying yes.  This is the No that we need to have the courage to say.

What can this No look like?  It can take its form in many places.  Saying No to a race that conflicts with a family event.  Saying No to a phone call during dinner.  Saying No to a lucrative job offer that will conflict with your family responsibilities.  You take a hit when you say No to these things.  You miss out on that race, you miss out on that phone call, you miss out on that job.

And why do you say No?  Has someone told you this is just the way it is and this is the decision that you must make?  Are you too lazy to contemplate these decisions and just default to saying No?  Saying No with either of these mindsets forfeits all the benefit of saying No in the first place.  You must know why you are saying No.  I will say No to the race because this is an important family event and racing would become a self centered logistical nightmare.  I will say No to picking up the phone during dinner because I value the time to develop true authentic relationships.  I will say No to the lucrative job offer, because time with my family is more important than money.

The important thing to realize is that you are saying No to something good.  The race is good, the phone call is good, the job is good.  But the thing with something good is that it is only something good.  Something good is not the best.  Choosing to settle with good will tie you up so when something truly amazing comes along, you won't have the freedom to say Yes.

Good is good, but it is not the best.  Saying No to the good (and knowing why) puts you at an immediate loss, but in time, something better will come along...something better than the original.

Sometimes you must say the hard No to the good to leave yourself open for the best.


    


  

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Removing an Aluminum Seatpost From a Steel Framed Bicycle: The Hardest DIY Repair You Will Ever Do!

This is a bike repair situation that you will hopefully never find yourself in...removing an aluminum or alloy seatpost from an old steel framed bicycle.  The steel and aluminum form a chemical bond over time (that cannot be loosened with penetrating oil), which makes the removal or adjustment of the seatpost nearly impossible.  Somehow, I have found myself in this situation twice, and both times I have needed to put in a huge amount of effort to remove the post.  Mostly as a result of my pure determination, I am 2/2 for getting these posts out, so I wanted to share what I found to be effective, and what was a waste of time.  I'll start with the least extreme approaches first (which in some cases may be enough) and finish with the most extreme (when there is no hope left, you try this).

Start With These: Not Extreme Approaches

Twisting With the Seat

The simplest approach is just to loosen the seat post binder bolt, and then twist the post using the seat.  You will likely have to twist very hard, so temporarily installing an older seat is advisable.  Don't be surprised if the post doesn't move.
Use a screwdriver to open the seatpost collar more

Using a Vice  

To get more leverage, you can put the top of the post in a vice.  This will give you a lot more leverage on the post, and can be very effective.  Unfortunately in my experience, the top of the post has just separated from the tube section of the post, making twisting impossible.


Using a Pipe Wrench

At this point, it becomes very difficult to salvage the old post.  Using a pipe wrench directly on the tube section of the post will give you a lot of leverage, but it will likely wreck the post.  This will be the last thing you can try to remove the post before having to move on the more extreme measures.  Hopefully for you, it moves...watch a successful removal with this method HERE  

When All Else Has Failed: The Most Extreme Approaches

Hacksaw Blade Trick

In both of my aluminum seatpost removal experiences, I have needed to use this approach.  Once you have decided to pursue this method of removal, there is no going back...you're all in.  
The first thing you need to do is cut the post horizontally (about an inch from the top of the seat tube) to allow you access into the hollow opening of the seatpost.

At this point, you now need to start cutting vertical groves in the seatpost.  The aim is to make 2 vertical cuts 90 degrees apart down the length of the post.  A few notes on this approach.  Making the vertical cuts takes a lot of time and patience.  You need a good hacksaw blade and you need to make sure you cut all the way through the post.


video

It should look like this

Once these cuts are complete, you should then be able to remove a quarter section of the post (I usually try hitting it with a screwdriver to break it free).  Pliers or vice grips can then be used to first squeeze (crush), and then remove the remaining three quarters of the post.

video


This approach worked for me in my first seatpost removal, but proved ineffective in my second (the post was really long and the blade couldn't reach the bottom).   I then had to move to the most extreme method of removal..chemically dissolving the post.

Chemically Dissolving the Post (Using LYE)

This really is the last resort.  If this doesn't work for you, then your post is never coming out.
Start by removing as many (if not all) of the components from the frame, and put protective covering on the paint (unless you are planning on re-painting too).  You then need to put some kind of a plug at the bottom of the seat tube so the chemical will not just run out the bottom bracket.

So, to start things off, you first need to get yourself some 100% lye crystals.  Most stores don't carry them, and online purchasing can be tricky, but I was able to locate them at Home Hardware (Link to product here).

Be very careful with this stuff


The way this works is that the lye will dissolve the aluminum (the seatpost), but will not damage the steel (the frame).  

So here is where it gets a bit dangerous.  Lye is very toxic stuff, and the chemical reaction it makes is also very toxic.  It is recommended that you wear chemical proof gloves and a respirator at all times.  If any gets on your skin, go rinse it off right away.

To start the process, dissolve some of the lye crystals in water (maybe around 2:1 water to crystals ratio).  You are now ready to start dissolving the post.  

Carefully fill the seat tube with the lye and water solution (if sealed well, it will fill quite fast).  As soon as the solution hits the aluminum, it should start making a hissing noise.  Soon after, white gas (actually Hydrogen gas) will start coming out of the tube.  The liquid inside the tube will probably start bubbling soon after.


Now, you just need to let the lye do its work.  The post will start bubbling and hissing quite violently, and you will see the aluminum bubbling out as a grey goo.  Let the post bubble away for maybe 30-60 minutes and then go back and top up the tube with fresh lye/water.

video


After a couple hours of this, the post should be ready to remove.  I literally took a pair of pliers and pulled it out like a tissue out of the box...it was that easy.
Right is before, left is after
So, there ends my adventure for removing this seatpost.  As I said at the beginning of this seatpost (oh wait blog post), hopefully you never actually have to do this....but if you do, I'm hoping this was of help.