Training for the Spring Classics: Whatever it Takes

My box of Vega magic powders that arrived on Friday couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming to the close of February, it would be vital to put in some solid hours outside to prepare for April’s races. Undeterred by the weather forecast, Marc Hunt and I formed a mutual support group of two, and locked in a ride plan for Saturday on the road. Sunday would bring as much as 20cm of snow, so I was happy with my plan to race fat bikes at Jacques Cartier Parc, Gatineau, rather than the usual snirt fiesta.


At just below freezing, and no snow on the menu dressing right wouldn’t be a big challenge. Despite the strong gusts of wind, we agreed to do the classic Wakefield out and back (80k), and see whether we wanted to tack on an extra climb up Kingsmere at the end.


Mutual support in the context of foul weather riding that involves wet roads means frienders. Simply, a ‘friender’ is born when one takes their normal rear fender, and extends it’s length all the way to the ground with whatever scraps of durable material kicking around the house. I’ve got some old floor matting I’ve used for years for this purpose, which works great. In this case, I’ve extended my flap’s width at the bottom with a weird coaster thing from work. The flexible materials get pushed back a bit by the wind, and completely protect riders behind me from my spray. That means they can draft properly without paying for it.

Up front I’ve got an extension too, which keeps my lower legs and feet somewhat spray-free, but more importantly, keeps the spray off my drivetrain.

Hot tip: you can use Shoo Goo to paste bits of rubbery stuff together, or you can burn nice slots through the rubber with a hot flathead screwdriver and use zip-ties to connect them to fenders. Aluminum fenders tend to like the flaps more than plastic, which can crack when frozen, but they are more prone to loosening from vibration and thus require more careful set-up and maintenance. The ones pictured are from Velo Orange, in 45mm width.

After a solid 40k blending blocks of tempo and hammering, Marc and I enjoyed a lovely 45 minutes of coffee and snacks at Pipolinka. Try their vegan chocolate energy bar next time you’re there, it’s great!   FullSizeRender (4) Fuelled, and warmed by the excitement of the ice covering River Road on the return, Marc and I rounded out the ride at about 80km, a solid Saturday in February. Road conditions were overall very good, with very little ice to contend with aside from River Road, which all but the most brash should avoid. For this time of year 28 – 35mm tires are ideal, and always make sure to try to drink water and eat enough, as it’s easy to get this wrong when it’s cold and wet.

Sunday’s focus was on fat bike intervals! I arrived at Jacques Cartier Parc just across from the National Gallery of Canada around 3PM to the sight of PRO xc ski racers inspecting their sprint course for Tuesday’s World Cup race, and a few tents at the fat bike zone where Velofix Ottawa was getting the public onto bikes provided by Rebec and Kroes and La Shop. They’d created a short singletrack loop, complete with drop-off, rutted turns, and a nice little climb. It was fun to ride, but how would it race?

HARD! As you can see above, the racing was action-packed and absolutely lung searing! I truly didn’t want to race again after the first heat, particularly because I felt like vomiting, so was more than happy to dictate the pace in the final, which was way more fun! Congrats to Derrick for taking the win, and Andrew Olive for coming in third behind me.

CBC Ottawa was onsite to do a story on the event, and the show’s host even raced! I’m looking forward to seeing their piece; it was obvious that they had lots of fun, and it’s great to see the discipline get more mainstream attention.

Many thanks to the organizers of the race weekend and Velofix for hosting the event, and to the NCC for allowing such a huge spectacle take place in the Parc!

If you’d like to check out the best in the world battle it out over a challenging, speactator-friendly course, get over to Jacques Cartier Parc in Gatineau on Tuesday for all the action! You can find all the info here.

Here’s the CBC piece:

If you missed it on CBC Ottawa News, here's the full item. Thanks to Michel Aspirot for putting in so much effort to run through the trees and shoot this thing for us! You're a champ.

Posted by Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco on Thursday, March 3, 2016