Wednesday, June 18, 2008

2008 Mountain Bike Season Update # 7 - Kelso DH # 2

Well it’s been a few weeks since the last update after the two Quebec races. I must say I miss the bigger hills and technical terrain coming back to Ontario. Quickly bringing you up to date the last two weeks still saw me as involved as ever in the MTB scene, even without the racing. I completed the NCCP Level 1 Technical program (now I have to do the Theory so I can get certified), participation in the Kelso build day, and a weekend with some social rides as a little break from racing with the next few weeks going to be jammed with Racing. As we just finished Kelso DH # 2, next weekend is the 24 Hrs Summer Solstice, followed by the Horseshoe DH Race before the little mid-summer 2 week lull in my race season hits.

Last weekend the Ontario Cup Downhill racing returned to Kelso for race # 2 over the weekend on a brand new course, and the consensus is it was the best Kelso DH course yet, with a great mix of a flowing top section, into a wide open section with a nice step down, and then a small gap, into a fun tight section that some last minute rain as the race runs started made an interesting area with a lot carnage going on. As always A great job was done by Pete and his crew once again. Now if we can only find a way to double Kelso’s vertical we’d be golden. Maybe we could do a new all mountain race, starting at the top of the extreme trail ending with that new DH run step down and all. It would be a lot of fun to compete in an race format that would let Ontario’s DH and XC riders go head to head. Hhmm or cmaybe a collaboration between Pete and Chico and we could throw a challenge out to find the best overall mountain biker with a 20ish KM XC race on Saturday followed by a DH race Sunday, and the winner could be determined by a scoring system based on points assigned on your time spread from the first place rider in both races to find out who’s Ontario’s best overall mountain biker. I personally think a few DH Riders may just come out on top.

Enough with all that how was the racing? Well Great! Practice saw some great weather, not to much trail congestion and a lot of fun riding. For myself some good practice runs and things where looking good. I couldn’t wait to get going down the course on my race run hoping for an improvement on the last race. But a little twist was thrown in as Mother Nature dropped a 15 minute Thunderstorm down on us, to make things a little more interesting. My race run was a little disappointing however. After the start I came into the first berm funny ending up with my feet backwards, not a big time killer but awkward, the rest of the top section went smooth, the fire road and gaps golden, then coming into the tight wood sections still solid a little dab as I sciked myself out worrying it maybe be slippery from the rain, then coming into the next section I unclipped a pedal somehow dogging the trees at the top and did the steep and the drop with one foot unclipped, resulting in a little bobble at the bottom, slipping out a little. Determined to keep a good run tried to clip back in on time while getting and get in a couple pedal strokes as I commited to try and clear the double over the log in hopes of salvaging my run, but no luck clipping in under pressure forcing me to roll threw the sections terribly with no flow coming essentially to a stop and totally losing it mentally threw till the end. If I only took the time to clip in instead of scramble after the drop and I easily would have shaved 5 + seconds off my time. The up side is I know if I tie together a good run I can hit the top ten. I still finished 18 out of a field of 35 riders and it was a fun weekend regardless. The rest of the poisonfrog boys did well with a few personal best and almost everyone else finishing in the top 10.

The other sport class riders Grant and Trevor finished top 5 and top 10 respectively putting Grant in # 1 overall in Senior Sport with a 4th and 5th places (while fighting through a shoulder injury), look for him on a few podiums in the near future. Ben ripped it up in Junior Sport with his best finish ever at 5th. JP bailed and still only finished about a second out of 1st taking second place. Watch for JP and Rob to be chasing each other for the top spot on the rest of the Jr. Ex. podiums this year. Jeremy ripped it up, with a time of 1:17 getting a solid third in Masters discovering bronze medals serve as good beer bottle openers, Kristen was one step off the podium, Chad ripped a good run, and Moose well?? Whatever did happen to mosse no one saw him after his run as he disappeared quickly? Well, that’s it for now and I’m looking forward to Horseshoe!

Once again thanks to Intense from, Rick Loftus, and JuanTV from for the awesome pics.

User Groups and Sustainability?

The topic of trail users damaging the ecosystem seems to keep coming up in discussions around me lately. Some discussions positive and some negative. Groups like Sirbikealot Racing, Kelso, the Ontario Fereration of Snowmobile Clubs, and IMBA - Internation Mountain Bike Association (I'm still not convinced that all their re-routes are necessary but they are doing the right thing as a whole) etc. have been putting in a lot of effort into sustainable low impact trails over recent years. However, our public image isn’t necessary improving by leaps and bounds. After being asked the other day how can you call yourself environmentally responsible while participating in hobbies such as Motorcycling, Snowmobiling, Quading and Mountain Biking without feeling guilty? I figured I should say something. ?????? How do you address this question! Lets look at it through two points.

Firstly I'd ask what is the true impact of these groups. Our core environmental problem do not result from the recreational users. I’d be surprised if recreational activities even make up 1% of the overall environmental problem/impact after you take into consideration the footprint left by corporations miss-use of our resources such as non-sustainable logging practices, oil extraction and processing, mining, steel production, etc., then add the environmental impacts of transporting goods in our current global economy by boat, planes and trucks, wait now don’t forget all the commuters. I think you’ll find the recreational impact becomes a minute point. Ultimately I think their interest in protecting these areas benifit the protection of the environement which is where I'll go with point#2.

Most recreational users implement practices such as bring out what you bring in (many bring out more then they bring in, and sustainable trail usage i.e. not to mountain bike in a sensitive area after rain for example). Many also argue that simply using the land damages the natural habitats and vegetation. I also think this is often blown out of proportion. Find a mountain bike trail that has seen 10 years of traffic but has been closed for about 2 or 3 seasons and you will most likely see that the vegitation has taken over the trail in most cases. However, we do realize that sensitive ares need to be protected and the trends in trail building are towards building “sustainable” trails that minimize the environmental impacts. Involvement from Environental Scientist or Biologist in reviewing plans and evaluating areas for new trails is quickly becoming the norm. Many leaders in trail building now even come from an environmental background. I believe both of Ontario’s principle race promoter come with educational backgrounds in environmental science for example. The majority of those large beaten paths through the woods you find unsightly and damaging are generally from old logging operations, farming and back roads traveled by heavy vehicles. Also agruments are often heard that motorized recreational products simply cause polution with no real need. However, this is being minimized with motor sports users making purchases based on cleaner product with this trend being reflected in the sales of Yamaha Canada’s nearly exclusive use of cleaner running 4 Strokes and BRP/Envinrudes Ecotec 2 Strokes engines running cleaner, quiter and more efficiently.

Secondly I actually think recreational users may be part of the solution. We have a vested interested in protecting green areas and the environment because without them our hobbies would no longer be accessible. Quite often you will find that the majority of people who participate in these types of activities are the primary advocate groups for environmental protection and are often leading the clean up initiatives, protection and lobying. I don't think many will argue that the majority of the spring cleanup in Toronto’s Don Valley due to the garbage from the surrounding apartments are done by the mountain bikers who use the area. To expand on being a primary advocate group when it comes to protecting these areas. We have a strong interest in protecting the areas we use as escapes into mother natures heart because we’d all mostly be admit into insane asylums if we where all left living in the hustle and bustles of North America’s cities without our escapes.

That's all for my thinking aloud (I'll have to re-read this later, I doubt this article will stand on its on two feet with the little thought or research I put in, but hopefully it may make you think a little). However, next time you think of trying to ban a user group or attack them because of your perception that they are the cause of our environmental problems, or deterioration of your favourite park or conservation area why not try working with them and hopefully you will find 1) they are on the same side you are and 2) the extra impact you have due to the increased number of supporters will fast track your efforts to stop the true villains.

Oh and a quick thanks Dave Stone as I stole the pictures from him (sshhh don't tell him)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kiss the Flag

Bellow you'll find the lyrics to Kiss the Flag by Evans Blue which I think does a great job at capturing the situation many soldiers and their families are going through. I thought I'd share them with you after reading an article in the Toronto Sun about approximately 200 US Iraq war registers who have fled to Canada to avoid being sent to the War in Iraq. I generally keep my thoughts on the war fairly quiet because I'm slightly embarrassed to say I feel that I'm not educated enough on the subject to really make an informed decisions on what's necessarily right or wrong, true or false. I definitely have a lot of respect for our troops in Afghanistan who are oversees trying to help rebuild and provide stability to an area that most of them had never been too, did not know anyone from, and ultimately addressing problems that did not directly affect them, their friends or their families. On the other hand of the Iraq war, I can say I did not approve of Saddam Hussein and his regime. I'll ultimately admit they scared me a little. However I don't think any of us can argue the against the fact the US had some ulterior motives to go into Iraq that they weren’t up front about, and should have waited for a mission approved by the United Nations if their weren't any other motives.

The article in the Sun definitely brings an interesting topic for debate. They use the example of Phil McDowell who after 9/11 enrolled in the military to defend his country. However, after serving in Iraq from March 2004 to March 2005 says "I trusted my government that we were going to enter a justified war". ... "I felt betrayed". After being ordered back for a second tour of Duty he sought asylum in Canada, similar to nearly 50,000 US citizens during the vietnam war. Now with a motion in parliament which has the support of the three opposition parties’ to stop the removal orders of those who have refused or left military service related to a war not sanctioned by the United Nations a decision will be made if they have to return to the US or not. I think this definitely puts Canada in an interesting position as a country who’s citizens on average do not support the war in Iraq would lend to the majority of Canadians supporting their residency in Canada. However, from an international relations point of view it is difficult for us as a nation to not support the US. ( for some more info on the issue)

Anyways enough of that finally I'll mention the other reason I chose to post this, which is to support a great Canadian group that has a lot of talent with a vocalist who does an amazing job at capturing emotion in his lyrics and singing. I highlighted a few of the lines I think are more powerful. You can listen to the song here. (a video the singer put together.)

Don't shoot, until you see
The red and white
And blue in my eyes
They say were straddling fences
And it's not so comfortable

He thinks he grew up to be boring
And so he goes to change his life
I saw you get up on your toes
But don't step back too fast
Or you'll cut yourself in half

I wanted,
All I wanted was to find
Something here inside of me they couldn't keep
They woke up to hear me screaming

Just shoot until you see
The red on white
And blue in my sky
The proof is in the pictures
And it's not so comforting

He knows that one day they'll ignore him
And push him to the side
He said he kissed the flag before he died
He took one for his country
She said i'd do anything to have him back

I wanted,
All I wanted was to find
Something here inside of me they couldn't keep
They woke up to hear me screaming

God help us Can we really win this fight
Cause no one knows which side you're on
Anymore, anymore
I'm lost and by myself

When this ends
Will freedom be the casualty
Or will it only
Will it be, only me
Will it be, only me
Will it be, only me

I wanted,
All I wanted was to find
Something here inside of me they couldn't keep
They woke up to hear me screaming

God help us
Can we really win this fight
Cause no one knows which side you're on
Anymore, anymore
You're not lost or by yourself

If you like this song a couple more you can check out
Beg -
Pin Up -
Quote -