This one goes to 11.

Every once in a while, I get to haul my butt out of bed while it's still dark, load up the car, and head off into the unknown on an adventure that will, more likely than not, involve questionable decision making. Sadly, the relative lack of entries on this blog this summer can attest to, the lower frequency of these adventures compared to seasons past. In my desperation to enjoy what's left of summer, I was eager to latch onto any adventure, no matter how ill-conceived.

Enter Grungefundo. The full route runs 140km from Squamish to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Trail with somewhere between somewhere around 1900m of vertical. With the ongoing forest fires ravaging BC and the resultant smoke being blown down into the Lower Mainland, a bunch of us opted for the "mudio" route, or about half the distance of the full starting from Chance Creek.

With full bottles AND hydration packs, six of us set off through a mix of double-track forest service road, gravel and loam singletrack, and some disgustingly steep and twisty switchback climbing with the plan to meet the full grunge riders in Whistler for lunch before turning around and doubling back. The combination of the heat and the smog made things more challenging than they normally would be, but not as much as we had all feared. I think most of us would agree that we arrived in Whistler feeling the effort, but were not completely cracked. Yet.

After being saved by Coca-Cola and pickles (among other foods) and refilling all of our assorted liquid-carrying vessels, we turned around as one large group. The grunge riders led the way back down the Sea to Sky highway before departing at the head of the trail section to hammer their way back. We decided to keep things decidedly less spicy. Quite by accident, we discovered a section of trail that we had missed in the morning when we opted to take the paved option (aka, missing a trail sign). Even though we were bummed that didn't get to shred it twice, our little discovery and the resultant adrenaline from the mostly downhill section was a nice little pick-me-up for everyone and made the return trip feel a lot less grind-y.

Overall, I think the greatest challenge was having to run a high enough pressure to avoid pinch flatting on all of the rocky sections. Personally, I was aired up to 40psi front and 50psi in the rear. The good news is that nobody from either group flatted (apparently a first in fundo history), but the downside was some less-than-ideal handling on what was mostly loose-over-hard terrain, but it made for some exhilarating moments.

In summary, this was ride where everything goes to 11: the company, the scenery, the trails, and the air quality advisory.

Don't forget to have fun.

As we head into what many consider to be the late road season, many folks (myself included) are battling fatigue, over-training, and various forms of lack of motivation. It's an important time to remind myself that it's not all about TSS or NP or any number of stupid acronyms that sometimes dictate where and how I ride on a given day.

I was asked to do some promo shooting for Jakroo Canada with the crews from Toronto Hustle Cycling Syndicate and Rise Racing during BC Superweek's rest day. Look: see the smiles, and the camaraderie, and the horseplay, and the laughing? Fun.

Not pictured: me dangling halfway out the back of an Prius, which was also fun, though of a different, more dangerous sort. Totally worth it.

Canada Masters National Championships Crit (and TT!)

It's been a while since I've done a full day's shooting at a race and I'd forgotten how tiring it is. So many things to juggle: getting to the venue ahead of time to scout (didn't happen for this one), picking out the key spots both from the shooter's and the racer's perspectives, hauling around the gig bag, trying to remember to eat and drink, regretting wearing pants instead of shorts, finding the nearest port-o-potties, constantly rotating around the course, trying not to get in front of other photogs, managing battery life, chatting with all the cool people I know, running back to the finish line, going home and dumping the memory card, putting the batteries back in their chargers, sorting, culling, editing, uploading, posting, writing in run-on sentences.

And finally, cracking open a beer.

Click to enlarge/view in lightbox. You can also view the Master's Nats TT gallery here.

Oregon Gravel Epic Fail

The gloomiest/wettest/coldest spring in my four years in the PNW continues. Although it's been a week since the trip down to Oregon with some fantastically sunny/dry/warm-ish days in between, I'm currently sitting here listening to the sound of raindrops pattering against my living room window while I type this. 

I'll warn you now that there aren't that many photos of the ride itself. Constant driving rain has a way of encouraging me to keep my camera safely stowed away, especially when the roads are loose and bumpy. The Oregon Gravel Epic has been on the plans for the better part of a year and was meant to be one of the highlight rides of this season. With that in mind, you'd think that somebody that plans as meticulously as I do and has as much clothing for various conditions would be prepared for pretty much anything Mother Nature threw at us, but we'd both be mistaken. I was a victim of my own over-confidence in the forecast for shorts weather. Don't be like me; pack EVERYTHING.


We woke up on Saturday morning to strong coastal winds, and though it was overcast and dry. That lasted for all of about 30 minutes or so because as soon as we left paved roads and hit the first dirt section, the sky sprung a leak and continued to empty itself for the entire morning. Long story short, Alex and I bailed out at the first aid station and took the option to do the short course instead of the full monty. When the organizer tells you that first aid will be at least an hour away if things go sideways and you're soaked to the bone with not enough foul weather gear, common sense and self-preservation should probably triumph over ego. It's a shame because despite the wet spring hampering my ability to get regular training in, my body felt fine and wouldn't have struggled with the terrain or ride profile at all. I had a handlebar bag full of om nom nom and with three total aid stations, it wouldn't have been a problem keeping up with caloric intake. There's always next year.

The good news is that we had plenty of fun off the bike hanging out with Alex's college roommate and his family and running into the usual spots in Portland. One of the highlights was Alex running into a former riding buddy who knows the owner of VeloCult and getting to venture down into the basement. If you've been there and seen the stuff that's hanging in the rafters on the main level, just imagine the cool shit that's packed away downstairs.


This year, on my annual trip home to see my parents, I decided it would be a better idea to bring my bike with me instead of spending a week letting my brain rot on daytime TV. I'll admit that I was pretty paranoid about having my bike crushed by careless baggage handlers, but in the end, everything survived without incident in an EVOC soft case I was able to borrow from a good friend. I had actually booked the flight long before I decided I was going to bring it with me and if I was going to do it again, I'd fly with WestJet due to their much more lenient checked bag policy.

My parents weren't due to come pick me up until later the evening, so I set about finding enough caffeine to keep me going after only 4 hours of fitful dozing on the flight and wandering around downtown Toronto. By wandering, I really mean exploring Graffiti Alley to feast upon the smorgasboard of bike-against-a-wall opportunities. The level of graffiti art in Toronto is off the charts compared to Vancouver. The gallery below represents about 3 blocks or 1km worth of art in the Fashion District with a few others that I spotted on the way to grabbing coffee. It doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the tagging and painting in all of the city's little back alleys.

I haven't ridden a bike in Kitchener since I was in high school. A lot has changed in the last twenty years and it was a novel experience to ride a modern bike on roads I'd only ever travelled by car. What I'd forgotten about was how windy Southern Ontario was. Many thanks to the Waterloo Cycling Club for letting me drop in on their Thursday threshold ride.