Friday, February 27, 2009

Track Clinic

I have organized a Learn to Ride Clinic at the Burnaby Velodrome.  This is all part of my master plan to have other people to ride with at the 'drome.

If you are interested in joining there are a handful of spots left....  Here are the details:

  • When:  Wednesday March 4th, 8:30pm - 10:00pm
  • Where:  Burnaby Velodrome (MAP)
  • What:  Learn to Ride 1 Certification course and open track time after until facility closes.
  • Who:  7 or 8 riders I have roped in (so far) as well as myself.  The course is taught by certified instructors.
  • Why:  Because the track is A LOT of fun and a great workout.  It's also a great way to get time on the bike in the winter.
  • How:  To register you need to click HERE and fill out the form, name, address, yada, yada, yada....  It costs $30 and includes:  Instruction, insurance, track bike rental, and track time.
So there you have it....  come one, come all - it is a lot of fun and it would be cool to see some MJR readers there.

You never know....  you might love it and before long you'll look like this:

If you do sign up let me know at:

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Great Photo Blog

If you like mountain biking, nature or photography, or better yet all three, you have GOT to check out this guy's blog.

***NOTE Update - Matt has informed me:  That is not just some "guy", that is the blog of the great Mike Curiak, Ultra Endurance Mountain Biker. In '05, he rode the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, setting the course record.***  Duly noted.  Thanks Matt!

I will freely admit that I "read" it for the pictures...  I don't think he'd mind because he seems to focus almost every post on about a dozen (usually amazing) shots.

I highly recommend it for your Google Reader....  takes a while to load because the photos are big - but they are worth it.  

In other news:  I have a few great developments to update you guys on - it will have to wait for later in the week though...  


A few more from MC:

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bicycle Tree Not Producing

Velodrome Wrap-Up

Last week's camp at the velodrome left me hungry for more.  It was a great intro to track riding and racing.  By Friday we were drafting, riding in a pace line and switching positions on each lap.  We also practiced starts and worked on strategy and technique...

Indoor tracks are a real rarity and I feel pretty lucky to have that facility just 30 minutes from my house.  I am planning on rounding up 5-8 of my cycling friends and arranging a Learn to Ride course for them so that I'll have friends to head out there with.  Friends.... consider yourself warned!

I want to get more into it but there is an investment required - the bicycle tree I planted in my back yard has yet to produce anything that looks like this:

Until that tree starts producing I suppose I'll have to rent...

Here are a few more pictures I took at the track.  Incidentally, as difficult as it looks to ride on the track, it is actually 50x MORE difficult to take a good picture there.  Low light + fast moving objects = hors categorie photography.

The Burnaby Velodrome...

Track close-up....  it kind of creaks and groans as you fly around it...  pretty cool.

Some of the bikes...  I was riding a Cannondale...

Mark (riding) and Stephen (timing/steadying).  Photography is a lot easier when objects don't move...

Mark sprinting at the start of his 3000m effort.  

Locked on the black line....  

I didn't get a single photo of myself during the whole camp.  I didn't want to trouble any of the other riders...  some other time....

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Burnaby Velodrome

Yesterday was my first day on the track at the Burnaby Velodrome.

My first impression was that the track was WAY steeper than I expected in the corners.  I guess the tracks I have seen before are 400m tracks and this is a 200m track.  That means the corners are a lot tighter and therefore a lot steeper.

We were told that in order to stay upright we had to maintain a minimum of 30km/h in the corner.  Any less and the tire would slip without warning and you tumble to the infield.  Ouch.

I didn't take this photo (and I have no idea who this guy is) but he is demonstrating the steepness of the corners quite nicely.

We were instructed on how to get going and how to stop....  in between you just ride (at >30km/h).

My first 7 or 8 minute stint went by in a flash - I was gripping the bars pretty tight.  I had very little in the way of thoughts as I was super-extra-overly focused.  My dismount began mentally about 6 or 7 laps before it happened physically.  I kept slowing down to get off the track then losing my nerve and sprinting to get back to 30+ for the corner.

The second stint was way more relaxed and I began to experiment with some harder efforts.  I tried sprinting out of the saddle, climbing the wall and shooting down to the sprinter's line (which is low down.)

Third and fourth stints were just messing around and getting a feel for the bike and the track...  a couple of timed efforts.  We did a few "Flying 500s" - 500m is two-and-a-half laps of the track.  My fastest lap was 16.something - not bad, but leaving lots of room for improvement.

Jeremy Storie and Stephen Burke did a great job of teaching us the etiquette, skills and tricks of the track....  I am looking forward to more of the same today.

My pictures were pretty bad - the lighting is dodgy....  but here are a couple I took of Darren late in yesterday's session.  I'll hopefully get some better ones and maybe a bit of video today.

Darren chilling on the "Côte D'Azur"....  The mellow blue zone where you can go sub 30km/h without eating it...

Darren laying down a "Flying 500"....  The best line is the black line (shortest route around the track) but generally if you are between black and red you are in the right area for sprinting.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Helping - How?

A true story (but not a short one - my apologies!):

A few years after my accident in SF, the one where I "lost" my leg (still hoping it might turn up...) I heard about a kid that lost his leg in a boating accident.  Then, not long after that, I heard about an RCMP officer that lost hers while on duty due to a shotgun wound.

Both of those times (and several others) I went down to Vancouver General Hospital and dropped off a note to be given to the patient.  They weren't taking visitors.  In the note I would usually include a picture (they were paper in those days...) I remember the one I gave to the RCMP officer was of me hiking in the Grand Canyon.  I'd labour over just the right encouraging words, and I'd include my phone number/email address.

I really wanted to help.  It didn't work though....  Talk about an awkward situation I put them in - calling some guy out of the blue to talk about this terrible chapter in your life.  Not surprisingly neither one called.  It definitely wasn't effective.  I sort of knew it was the wrong approach but I had no better ideas.

I knew it wouldn't really work because a guy had done the exact same thing with me in San Francisco.  He spoke to my parents, they decided to let him come in and talk to me.  I HATED IT.  I didn't want him welcoming me to some lame club I wasn't ready to join.  I didn't want to see his leg, hear him talk, or anything....  but I was in no mood to disagree with anyone (and was as high as a kite on morphine) so in he came.  I don't remember a word he said but I do recall he walked quite well.  That was encouraging even if I didn't mention it to anyone at the time.

Fast forward more than a decade......  Helping people is still one of the major goals in my life - but it isn't always easy to figure out how.  I've tried a lot of things but nothing has been as successful as simply talking about life in my blog.

One example:  I ran the Haney to Harrison Race in November with the IF team.  At the finish line an older gentleman came up to me and told me about his son who was about to have an elective amputation.  He was about my age, living in Australia.  We chatted and I gave him my website url:

A few months later his son sent me an e-mail - he and his wife had been reading my blog and enjoying it.  We have been communicating regularly ever since.  I have been downloading a lot of information to him about his new scenario.  It feels GREAT to help someone navigate uncharted waters...  save them some time, some confusion, some pain, some irritation - whatever.  

It's not a one-way street though - before long Mike will be doing all kinds of crazy things and sharing his knowledge with me too...  Many of my readers are just like Mike and I...  many are not, but they know people who are.  Word gets out and it is GREAT!  

Mike recently e-mailed me some questions about swimming - I gave him a few tips - he posted the text of our exchange.  It was rewarding for both of us, but now it exists for others to read and learn from - so they know that their concerns are normal and know how to overcome problems in the water.  That is valuable.  I wish that had existed when I was a new amputee.

Maybe there is an opportunity for you?  (...who me?...) Yes, you.  I know you may not be missing a leg, and you probably don't think your life is 'blogworthy' - I didn't either.  

You probably have one of the following (all of which you could blog about and make a difference):  
a serious interest
a hobby
an addiction
a dysfunctional family
a great skill
no skill
difficult children
no children
a history of violence in the family
a history of peace in the family
an important cause
a lack of an important cause
a disease
perfect health
a creative mind
no creativity at all
a great job
no job
a terrible job
a great sense of humour
a very technical mind
an eye for fashion
no eye for fashion
....  and a zillion other things.

I only write that because I know that most people WANT to make a difference - but wanting to and knowing how are not the same.  I stumbled onto this - maybe it could work for you too...  

P.S.  Even if your efforts only make a positive "difference" for one person (yourself) they will likely be worth the effort you put into your actions.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Rough Weekend - but it's a New Week!

It was a pretty rough weekend around here.  There is a gnarly wave of sickness running through this peaceful hamlet....  It had Mattias, then Aia and finally Sacha down for the count this weekend.  Viggo and I are holding strong though...  *knocking on wood*

Actually Mattias was a victim late last week and was actually fully recovered in time for the weekend and so we were training buddies on Saturday (him = Otters, me = Masters) + a Lighthouse Park trail run.

The trail run was so awesome on Saturday we decided to repeat it on Sunday with full camera support.  Mattias is a super fast trail runner - there were several times I thought to myself "I wouldn't actually be going any faster by myself."  He is a descending maniac.

I even shot a video... unfortunately, Welcome to the Jungle (Mattias' favourite song) didn't make it by the YouTube copyright police... so it's a silent film.

I am gearing up for an exciting week.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I will be taking part in a track cycling camp organized by CCA.  Two hours of track time per day and probably a few road rides with the fellas.  It should be pretty awesome.

I actually have that "butterflies" feeling - like the one you get before your first triathlon - I have never ridden on a track, add in a single speed track bike with no brakes and no free wheel - it could get ugly.  (Hopefully it will go better than that first open water swim start though...)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 Plan

OK.  After a lot of thought I have decided the following:

1.  I have invested too much time, energy, money etc. into cross country skiing to drop it without seeing it through to the "end".  Thus I plan to take my final shot at getting on track for 2010 at the beginning of next season.

2.  There are a lot of other things I am just as (if not more) interested in - if one of them steals my heart in the meantime I won't fight it.  Skiing and I are not exclusive anymore - we are dating (and there are trust issues.)

3.  My number 1 competitive goal remains the Paralympics.  If not 2010 then 2012, heck maybe both.  As much as I love triathlon and want to do Ironman it will be there for me when I am finished chasing this goal.

4.  Triathlons (with the exception of Ironman) fit in nicely as training and fun amongst my more serious efforts at competitive sports such as cycling and skiing.  Also, triathlon may debut as an exhibition sport at the 2012 Paralympics.

5.  Whatever crazy things I get up to have to fit into my life - with 3 kids and a beautiful and supportive wife I am super-lucky....  need to keep them all happy!

So with those decisions in mind I got down to business.  When it comes to planning out a season I like to sit back with my calendar and a few different websites:

By the end of the process I have usually "short"listed about 38 events, every Saturday and Sunday from about mid-March to mid-September.  That's about the same time reality hits and I start to consider "real" life and its pesky habit of cramping my racing calendar.  (Thank goodness for "real" life though, or I'd probably be permanently injured.)

Through a time-honoured process of deleting events one by one, I end up with a plan.  2009's looks like this:

March 8 - UBC Triathlon (Olympic)
March 15 - St. Paddy's Day Dash 5km (Port Moody)

April 19 - Sun Run 2009
April 29-May 3 - Défi Sportif (Montreal)

June 14 - ESCAPE from Alcatraz Triathlon (San Francisco, CA)

July 05 - Cycling National Championships (St. Georges, QC)

August 24 - Canadian Track Nationals - Cycling (Burnaby, BC)

September 3-13 - Paracycling World Championships (Seville, Spain)
September 13 - Triathlon World Championships (Gold Coast, Aus.)

October - dryland/roller-ski (training)
November - dryland/roller-ski (training)

December - Nor-Ams - Nordic Racing (one last try to get back on track for 2010) ...this is the Hail Mary.

The St.Paddy's Day Dash, Sun Run, and 5 Peaks races are great participation events - I will likely be bringing my family to them.  I'd love to see you there.  Let me know if you can do one of them and we can meet up!


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meyrick Jones Racing launches YouTube Channel

I'd like to introduce you all to the home of Meyrick Jones Racing on YouTube!

I know many of you may be thinking, 

"Is he trying to become the most famous person in the world?"

The answer is "no".  Although, if I was close this channel would probably be the clincher ;)

The channel will help me reach a wide audience of viewers and hopefully many will convert into readers for this blog.  For instance, the Zion video (which wasn't even very good) has already been viewed 400+times - once there are a few dozen videos up there it will result in a lot of eyeballs.

Since most people search YouTube using keywords and phrases I think it will be a great and easy way to reach amputees and hopefully to inform, inspire, educate and entertain them (and perhaps others).  I got the idea recently after Loren Schubert, a BCIT Prosthetics Student used me as the subject of his school project.  He created a DVD that focused on me and my prosthetics - it features 3 sports (running, cycling and roller skiing), lots of tips, tricks and educational stuff.  

Go to MJR on YouTube and check them out - there are 13 because Loren had to divide the DVD up into smaller sections to make them more digestable. 

Here is a sample:

OK.  Hope you guys will enjoy the videos I am going to be putting up in the near future...

Next post will be an update on my plan for 2009.  I have it pretty much dialed in and I am pumped!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas depending on how fast you like to drive.  Don't count on getting an early start as Las Vegas is not conducive to early starts. 

I had done some research about my hiking options at Zion, but most of the info was geared toward summer hiking.  The conditions in February were significantly different than I had expected.  I instantly put on every piece of clothing I had and wished I had more...  It was cold, foggy, raining a bit and snowing higher up.

I told the ranger (a cute girl outfitted in a Smokey the Bear hat = odd) that I wanted awesome scenery and a great workout.  She recommended the Angel's Landing Hike and mentioned that if I went fast I could fit in another shorter route before dark.

I drove to the trailhead, loaded my backpack and headed out.  The trail starts out mostly flat along the canyon floor.  The scenery is amazing from the moment you enter the park but to truly appreciate it you have to hike... in my opinion any view you have to work to get beats one you can see from inside the car.

The incline of the trail picks up significantly as you head toward a slot in the monolith above.  The steep portions of the trail are paved with a rough surface that is obviously designed for traction.  As I navigated the hairpins, of which there were dozens, I could definitely feel my heart rate jumping and I was working pretty hard.  I had intended for this to be a workout - at a slower pace I don't think it would be that challenging.  That's the great thing about a steep hike - you can chill out and relax or get an awesome workout without as much impact as running - it is pretty easy to crank it up if the trail is challenging enough.

After a couple of outstandingly beautiful miles, heading straight up, you reach Scout Lookout.  As it's name suggests, the lookout provides an amazing view of the canyon and the various rock formations.  You can also appreciate the vertical ascent because there are several cliffs that are about 1500ft high.  If you are afraid of heights this is NOT the hike for you.

Angel's Landing is only half-a-mile beyond Scout Lookout.  The trail takes a fairly massive jump in complexity as it climbs straight up over red rock formations in search of the summit.  I was relying heavily on the chains (installed to keep hikers from falling to their certain death.) 

The trail from Scout Lookout to Angel's Landing is absolutely incredible.  It could accurately be described as a "knife-edge", as the drop on one side is 1,500' and on the other 800', in between is a chain and about 18 inches of rock.  It's cool. 

Check out the video I shot:

1500 feet on one side and 800' on the other.

By this point it was snowing quite heavily and I was beginning to worry that I would become a headline in tomorrow's newspaper.  The snow was making the miniature rock steps very slippery and I still had to come back down which would be even more treacherous.  I was also getting pretty cold - the slower pace had me cooling down rapidly and my bare hands on the freezing chain were going numb.  I wasn't dressed properly for these conditions.  Since I had already gotten a pretty awesome adrenaline rush from the first two or three chain sections, I decided that "Discretion is the better part of valour."

I probably had a quarter of a mile to go - not far, but it was very slow going with the slippery surface and vertical nature of the trail.  I thought a lot about the decision to turn back...  this is definitely not Everest, and there is a 99.9% chance that nothing would have happened.  I could understand the motivation that pushes climbers to make the wrong decision.  To disregard the "return" portion of the journey in favour of the summit...  It just feels wrong not to summit.  However, it does feel particularly right to be alive and well back at my hotel.

The descent was uneventful apart from the temperature continuing to drop.  I had to blast the heat in the car until my face was burning - it was that cold.

The hike was kind of surreal at times.  The fog gently wafting between monolithic towers, snow flakes drifting and sometimes driving in my face, and only 1 other person on the trail.  I had looked forward to getting some thinking done...  instead I "worked" - I was concentrating on speed, cold, self-preservation and the amazing scenery.

I would LOVE to come back to Zion with more time and in the summer.  The Narrows is the signature hike but it is essentially wading in the river - not a good winter activity.

yes...  I had two cameras with me.  Yes, I know that's nerdy.

The trail was very steep in parts

...and even steeper in others.

This was as close as I got to a slot canyon.  I will definitely come back for the Narrows hike one day.

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