As Seen On My Ride

Yesterday's ride was the first really tough one since Ironman training last fall.  In fact, it felt more like IM training than half training... over 4.5 hours of slugging it out in some pretty brutal winds.  Lucky I had a good friend to share the no-fun fun with!

Field full of tiny daisies!

Trying to stay on Coco's wheel.

Gas station junk food tastes soooo good in
the middle of a long ride!

Low tide.

Lots of hills.

Victoria 70.3 New Bike Course

A couple of weeks ago I decided to ride the new Victoria 70.3 bike course.  I had ridden, driven, swept, delivered flyers & info, and more all along the old course back in the days my friend Norm & I ran the race.  This year, WTC (who runs it now) changed the course to one loop and I wanted to check it out.  It wasn't exactly new for me, but stringing the roads together in that order was.  It was a fun ride, and the "Coles Notes" version is that I think it is faster than the old course.  Read on for details.

Instead of two loops through Central & North Saanich, the new bike course winds through Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, and Sidney - I can't imagine what a permitting nightmare it was to deal with all those municipalities.  It was hard enough for us dealing with only a couple!   Another note from my race director brain... there are some left-hand turns and crossings of West Saanich Road, and a couple of major intersections - I wish the traffic crew all the best of luck managing those!  That would be a major headache from an organization point of view.  Anyway, I guess that's not important to the athlete experience.   So as far as actually riding the course - here goes.

The swim is now in Beaver Lake (which remains to be seen how that goes - it's fairly gross, but word on the street is that they will be working on removing the weeds), so the transition will be at the other end of Elk/Beaver than in the past.  It's a good spot for transition, there's a large, flat area, more parking, and easier access.  The bike heads out onto West Saanich Road where it turns left, then another left onto Royal Oak.  After that, it's fairly flat for the first 10km until the left onto Mount Doug X Rd.  The climb up Mt. Doug is pretty gradual, and early enough in the race that everyone will blast up it, no problem.  

After that, it rolls a bit, but mainly a net downhill to Sidney.  Hopefully because it's early Sunday morning, traffic on Cordova Bay Rd will be light, as it's narrow and the drivers can be kind of oblivious to cyclists there.  Lochside Rd is one of my favourite spots to spin along, flat, with nice views of the ocean.  Cyclists will wind through Sidney, and then at about 40km some more rollers, but they're pretty gradual.

View of the ocean next to Lochside Rd.  You can
kind of see Mt. Baker on the mainland in the distance.

The course heads farther north on the peninsula than it used to, and goes along Lands End Rd, which has virtually no traffic, ever, and rolls in a pretty fun way.  After about the halfway mark, the rollers pick up a bit, and the last half of the course is definitely harder than the first.  This bike course will reward the patient rider who doesn't go out too hard (the net downhill for the first 35km will make that hard to do!) and leaves a lot in the tank for later in the ride.  The terrain gets harder as the mileage adds up.

Heading south on West Saanich Rd is pretty similar to heading north, which the old course used to do.  It's rolling, but the rollers are long so it's not exactly coast up after spinning down.  You will be on the gas a lot.  There will be a bit of a reprieve for a few kms once you turn onto Wallace, but not long after you'll hit the toughest climb of the day - up Willis Point Rd (and then back down for an out-and-back, I'm guessing to make up the needed mileage).

Still lots of rural roads like the old course.  So pretty.

Then it's back onto West Saanich Rd, but northwards this time, basically following the old course.  Right turn onto Keating X Rd, then a right onto Oldfield which everyone will recognize as the end of the old loop.  The last 20 km will be hard!  Pace appropriately!

My advice for riding the course: enjoy some of the nicest views on the peninsula.  But be careful... you will pay if you go out too hard, as all the difficulty is in the last 50km, and in particular the final 20.  Be smart with your pacing!

(If you got here from a link on the post about the whole Victoria 70.3 race, click HERE to go back!)

Spring Training: The Run

I don't spend nearly as much time seeking out cool places to run as I do to ride.  We usually just run from wherever we are staying, but if I hear of a nice route I'll try to check it out.  I also don't run as often as I swim and ride, so don't necessarily have that much to report.  But while we were in Vegas I did hear about the tunnel run - an old rail route near Lake Mead that goes through six tunnels.  It was only 6 kms long so I was in.  The day we ran there, it was crazy windy so the sand blowing sideways felt like we got exfoliated, and the tunnels were a nice reprieve.  The run ends at the Hoover Dam, and you can turn around and run the 6 km back, or run one way and get Jason to pick you up.  He's a lot faster than I am (understatement of the year) so I wasn't waiting too long for my pick-up as he did the return trip.

Watching surfers when I should
have been running in Oceanside.

Spring Training: The Bike

We only had a few days in California so didn't end up riding some of my favourite routes.  However, we did roll down the coast a few times - early one morning and it was pretty foggy.  We also rode through the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, a nice ride as it comes out on a bike path passing through San Onofre State Beach.  Unusual for there, that day we didn't see many surfers.  I can't remember if it was a weekday or what, but often we're weaving between people carrying boards through the parking lot.  #classicSoCal  

Rolling out along the coast in the
morning meant riding through the fog!

The sun is trying to make an appearance.
Jason ride selfie

San Onofre State Beach

I was pretty surprised at how awesome the riding was when we got to Nevada.  Big shoulders, nice pavements, lots of variety - flat, rolling, long climbs - we'd definitely come back there before going back to Palm Springs or Tucson for training, for sure.  Jason met up with some Team Every Man Jack buds for a couple of rides as well, which makes it extra fun for him.  I opted out of one of their routes: 90 miles including a 20 mile climb to the top of Mt. Charleston.  I was out for the following reasons: Tom said it would take them 6+ hours, 20 mile climb, snow at the top.  I'm not doing an Ironman this year so I just wanted to do fun rides, and figured that one would involve some tears for sure!

Desert riding in Nevada

Jason and Tom at the Mt. Charleston summit (8800 ft),
taken by some snowboarders surprised to see them!

I rode to where the road ends (literally)
in the mountains west of Vegas... 
... and turned around for a view of the city.

Spring Training - The Swim

My job has a built-in holiday at the perfect time of year... exactly the time I'm about to crack from all the rain and need some sunshine, stat.  We always include a lot of training in our spring break, as well as a sunny destination.  This year, spring break took us to SoCal and Nevada, and in addition to some great training we also had some fantastic visits with friends (old and new), a rock concert, live comedy, and an incredible Cirque du Soleil show - MJ One, which I highly recommend!

If you know anything about me, it's that I love outdoor pools.  This trip allowed me to swim in two pools that are in my top-5 of pools I've swam in:  Alga Norte in Carlsbad, CA, and the Multigenerational Centre in Henderson, NV.  (Other top-5 pools include - in no particular order - Kitsilano Beach pool in Vancouver BC, Palm Desert Aquatic Centre in CA, and the Kihei Aquatic Centre in HI).

Alga Norte. The bonus of being on vacation is that
you can hit pools on their non-peak times!

Henderson Multigen. 
We decided we could squeeze in one last
swim before our flight home.

El Nino

It hasn't been cold this winter, but it has been wet.  Capital W Wet.  W-E-T.  One of the all-time largest El Nino systems is to blame... and here in the PNW we are getting soaked.  It seems like the entire island is a swamp right now, and I'm looking forward to escaping to SoCal and Nevada for a couple of weeks of riding in the sun.

Still - at least it's not snow like the rest of the country gets.  "Liquid sunshine".  We have also had some gorgeous days as well, and I try to make a point of getting outside to enjoy them.  Life here on the west coast best coast!

Dry, warm day for a ride last weekend...

... followed the next day but a wet, muddy run!

Rode in a monsoon today, but my team jacket
kept me dry and warm inside - best jacket ever!

Got trapped by heavy rain in the hot tub, but at least I had company!

Float Plane Fun

Every so often, I get the chance to take a float plane over to the mainland.  Usually when I'm going to a meeting on someone else's dime.  It's a great way to travel, and there's a float plane "terminal" (as in a dock) only 10 minutes from our house.  While it can be a bit bumpy in the winter, it's always a great experience and even better when the sun is out.  Here are some pics I took during my most recent trip.

Our local departure spot: the Shipyard Marina in Maple Bay.
Friday's conditions weren't ideal, but we made it over
(lots of rocking & rolling the whole way).

Leaving Richmond ("the river") to fly back home yesterday.
A view from the air of some of the southern Gulf Islands.
Absolutely gorgeous - love where you live!

Back home at the Shipyard.