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Returning Dusty – cycling to California on a 20 year old MTB

5 July, 2012


The Ride: Dusty McLeod is a steel mountain bike, made by Marin back in the day when suspension meant installing balloon tires (presumably, I was still mostly puttering around suburban streets and paved, home county routes). Weighing 36lbs including racks (but not panniers).Image

Though I’ve only had this bike for perhaps a third of its life, it has had an interesting dotage these past five years. For one thing, it wasn’t always this sketchy dayglo orange and green with large patches of black, it had a rather convincing all black paint job when I first saw it. Who knows how that came to be? All I know is that I found her (yes, she is a mare) at Bikeworks, my favourite East Van bike shop — probably my favourite bike shop anywhere, for that matter.  Everything on this bike is from Bikeworks apart from the rear tyre,the front rack, and the bell. Having had two bikes stolen in two years, I wasn’t interested in owning the shiniest bike in the shop, just one that doesn’t stand out as the most valuable on most bike racks.

And so this trusty steed remains by my side, revealing her true colours as the dodgy paint job flakes off. Strangely enough, she was once stolen from me, outside my apartment while I slept. I reported her stolen and was incredibly surprised six weeks later to find her chained to the rail in front of Bikeworks, which happens to be next door to where I was working at the time. Still trying to  figure that one out, but perhaps we were just meant to be together! She had been abused and utterly neglected in that time, but the ever helpful Henry Hulbert (one of the least snobbish, yet most knowledgeable mechanics I’ve met) at Bikeworks tended her wounds.

Despite all of the above, I have more than once thought about selling her/giving away the frame, and using her parts. I’ve had this fling thing with a far younger singlespeed that’s lower maintenance, and a rather pretty ten speed ‘Ki — even older, but more stripped down and zippier around town. I almost gave her back to Bikeworks earlier in the year, before realizing that she’s really my only option when it comes to touring. Because I tend to travel solo (talking to my bike etc.), I really don’t want to be spending all the time that I’m not on it worrying about whether the $1500 wallet-muncher is still there. Indeed, this bike cost me all of $50 initially. I recently spent as much again on the rear tyre, after a spate of bad luck re:punctures, and perhaps another $50 on replacement parts and maintenance over the years.

The Rider:

What happened

12 December, 2011

I did not disappear, I did not make it to the starting line in Victoria. My family doc confirmed a grade 1 stress fracture in the same location as before at the end of September, and I’ve been very conservative with my running since then. Not a single track/speed session!

I also saw a sports medic about a month ago. I was told that I was doing everything right re:recovery, and that I could start wearing neutral shoes, which is going to mean saving some weight on the end of my leg (and money). There have been a handful of occasions when I felt some minor pain/discomfort and wasn’t sure if I was reinjuring it, so backed off immediately.

Anyway, so it was back to square one, though I’m building again and have reached the point where I need to start recording my runs to keep track of them. My approach, partly out of necessity, has been a high-monotony routine — easy running all the way, with some of it on soft surfaces, and with non-impact strength training thrown in on a regular basis (twice a week for the last month, more before).

Last week:

Monday: 30mins (~6km).

Tue: 45mins (~10km).

Wed: 45mins.

Thu: 45mins.

Fri: 30mins

Sat: rest.

Sun: 1hr35mins (20km).

Total: 62km.

Today: ~10km.

A Red Light

20 September, 2011

I’ve been hobbling a bit since Sunday. The good news is that I know exactly what it is and what I need to do. The bad news is that it’s the same injury that took me out for a few months earlier this year. It’s nowhere near as bad as it was when I was forced to stop running then, and I’m hoping that it will clear up in just a few days. But I’m also aware that the progression of what is, I believe, just a stress reaction (rather than fracture) at this stage, would be probably be precipitous if left unheeded.

I tell my myself that I should be thankful just to make it to the starting line!

Three weeks to go

18 September, 2011

Only three weeks till my goal race, and I’m pretty happy about where I find myself in training. Yesterday it rained and my legs felt very heavy (probably not just the extra weight of rainwater). But I was 7s per km faster on the previous night’s workout than I was on the previous attempt at 5x1k diminishing rest (July 31st), and with the weekend’s race still weighing on my legs perhaps it’s not surprising.

Mon: dip in the ocean

Tue: 14km.

Wed: 12km

Thu: AM – hip/core, PM – 5x1km with decreasing recovery (3:11, 3:02, 3:05, 3:09, 3:06).

Fri: 0.

Sat: 10km.

Today: 25km(Crab park – Convention Centre – Coal Harbour – Stanley Seawall – 2nd beach – Bridle/Rawlings – 2nd beach – Sunset beach – Burrard Bridge – Kits Beach – False Creek Seawall South etc.)

Coho Run 2011

11 September, 2011

50:28, 3rd overall.

I’m pretty happy with my race today. I didn’t really know what to expect – the training volume has been pretty good in the last few weeks, and I actually tapered a bit for this one. On the other hand, I’d been fighting off a cold earlier in the week and it’s a totally new distance and course for me. It was also sunny and on the warm side. For these reasons, and perhaps also for the received wisdom of it, I decided to run entirely by feel today, looking only at my watch at the 4km mark (the time seemed way off, so I left it behind).

Probably having bib #1 made a difference, too. There was a sense of trepidation to start with, as people were looking at me as though they expected me to win, or something. But it was made up for by loads of random people along the way yelling things like “Go on, you’re number one!”, and so on.

I don’t really know how to interpret the time/position, but I’m very pleased with the result of having run entirely by feel, while mostly alone after 1km or so (I caught one other runner around 4km, and another about 2km before the end). My pace probably didn’t tank (I wasn’t caught at all), and I didn’t seem to have much juice left at the end. The sense of accomplishment I have from being able to successfully gauge the internal perception of effort — as well as to trust that perception after having been dictated to by the clock for most of the last five years — is as much as any I had for the personal bests I ran last year.

Definitely this is a race I’d recommend, with a lot of variety – seawall, light trail, hills, bridges and views, and the organization was pretty good overall (free beer instead of coffee is a little quirky, but I agreed with the notion once I found myself with a pint in my hands and some company). A strong turnout from VFAC, including some cheering from the sidelines!

Monday: 10km.

Tuesday: 12km.

Wednesday: hip/core.

Thursday: 12km.

Friday: 12km.

Saturday: 0km.

5 September, 2011

Wed: rest/recovery

Thu: AM – easy core/upper body, PM – 2.5, 1.95, 1.3km(8:28, 6:22, 3:52). A repeat of 22/7, and slightly faster though missing the PM caffeine jolt, so perhaps not directly comparable. Happy that the hip isn’t complaining.

Fri: rest/recovery.

Sat: 12km

Sun: 24km (fuelled).

Frustration or Revelation?

30 August, 2011

I was hoping to do a 12km steady-state run today, but had to pull up at 8.5km. My pace and effort level was holding up, but the complaining from my left hip/glute was getting louder. It’s disappointing because, without those last few km of the workout, the effort I did make was a bit of a waste.


On the other hand, this is really the only injury/hotspot that’s been bugging me this season — it’s clearly the weak link — and so far I seem to have been on top of it. Of course, as the race looms on the horizon there is less time to “manage” the injury, while getting in big training weeks becomes more the point.


Yesterday: 12km easy.

Today: 8.5km at 3:42 per.