Tag Archives: fun

White Knuckling it to Quebec City

Stylish Skate

Howdy folks! Well, as we hurtle towards the inevitable spring time change, and the warming temperatures, I’m going to take us back in time to just over a week ago, where we got that sudden dramatic snowstorm. You know. The one that dumped buckets of snow all over the area? Oh yes, the one and same that I had to drive through to get to Quebec City for the Pentahlon des Neiges. There is a well-known adage that goes ‘getting to the start line is the biggest challenge’. Well, it would certainly appear that was the case for this race. In fact, I’d probably rate this drive the worst in my life! The normally 4.5 hour drive took over 9 hours, and that was with only 2 short stops. One for a sandwich, and one for a washroom / nerve break. It was absolutely atrocious, with blowing heavy snow, uncleared roads, and darkness the entire way. Did that affect the race? The rest of the weekend? My sanity? Well, read on through my little post to get the answers to all those, and a few other questions. This’ll be the last race report for a while, so enjoy it my friends! As always, pictures have been posted, and I did a video review as well.

Pictures from Race

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to make the journey all on my own. As the race was so far away, Deanna and I had decided to make a fun weekend of it. We chose to book at the race venue hotel, which was literally 30 seconds from the start and finish of the race, and also located on the beautiful Plains of Abraham. Yes, THE Plains of Abraham that you may or may not recall from high school Canadian history. This also happens to be only a kilometer or so from the beautiful and historic old Quebec area. Our tentative plans for the Saturday included touring the city a bit, hitting up a maple syrup museum, a chocolate museum, and at least one brewery. This was all possible because my actual race wasn’t until Sunday morning. That being said, there WAS a race on Saturday morning too, and I actually got up after only 5 or so hours of sleep to go watch a bit of it and do some filming for my race review. It was a great chance to get familiar with the race site and how my own race would work the next day, so it was time well spent.

You might think that after our horrible drive on Friday night that the weather would clear up nicely and leave us with an excellent rest of the weekend. Sadly, the weather decided not to co-operate, and most of Saturday was overcast, and brought with it slush, periods of rain and very wet snow. Temperatures were fine, but everywhere we wandered, we were getting wet. Apart from that, it was still really nice to take a walk around the citadel on the Governor General’s promenade, which takes you into the heart of Old Quebec, to the foot of the luge (toboggan) track, and spectacular vistas of the mighty Saint Lawrence River. We paid our fees and rode that fun little luge, which had no line-ups whatsoever on account of the weather. From there, we made our way to the tourist info building to figure out where the maple syrup museum was. Another wet stroll, and we were rewarded with tasty maple treats. And from there? Yup, the chocolate museum, rumoured to have the best hot chocolate in all Quebec. Unfortunately, we were stuffed, so we by-passed that treat and headed back towards the hotel, and ultimately, a brewery called INOX just down the street. I ordered samples of all their wares and had a half pint of my favourite. It was tasty, but pretty quiet at that time of day. Our Saturday culminated in a failed attempt at finding a fancy restaurant we both were keen on, and instead ended up in a gluttonous feast at St. Hubert! Stuffed, and happy, we retired for the night to rest up for the race.

Race Stats

So how about that race you’re asking at this point, right? Well, it was really really fun. I love trying new races and events, and this was a format I hadn’t been exposed to before. Mind you, it was not unlike any other triathlon. In that sense, we each had a transition area, and you completed each event back to back, returning to your transition area between each leg. The best part of the race was the fact that each participant had their own numbered transition spot, complete with 6 or so feet of rack space for all the gear. The five events of this Pentathlon, in order, were cycling, running, skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. I entered the race with fairly high expectations, given that I’m fairly proficient at each event, and kinda hoped maybe many other weren’t. Boy was I mistaken! There was a TON of really excellent competitors. I was able to tell pretty much right off the bat that I would NOT be placing highly in this race.

That being said, I felt like I had a decent race, was able to push a bit, get some good footage, and be exposed to great sights and witness a very-well run race. This event is now apparently the largest outdoor winter event in Canada now (when you add ALL the various race events that form the series). They had an army of volunteers, and a very well laid out series of courses with excellent opportunities for spectators as well. Provided you are not too uncomfortable being immersed in French (all instruction was in French, with no translation), I would highly recommend this race. The only thing I was surprised and sad about is that there was absolutely no souvenir for completing. No medal, no toque, mitts, anything. Mind you, I’m not for wanting any of those things, but it still would have been nice. Of course, if you were willing to pony up cash, they did have plenty of stuff for sale there! Now on to a quick synopsis of my own race event by event.

Bike: 5 laps of 3km each. Any bike accepted as long as you had ‘studded’ tires. However, by studded, knobby rubber was fine. This The course was on pavement for 95% of the course, and the only snow section was in the transition area, where you had to run with the bike anyway. The start was LeMans style, which meant we parked our bikes first, then had to run back to them from the start line, in order to spread out the field. I unfortunately got a pretty late start, getting stuck in ‘traffic’ and starting towards the back. On the plus, it meant that I spent most of the 15km passing other people and trying to make up ground. In spite of not having biked much lately, my climbing legs seemed intact, and I did most of my passing on the climbs. I came off the bike feeling pretty good, but a little wistful. As it turns out, this would be the last race I would use my beloved blue Epic bike. I have since bought a new ride, and knew that would probably be our last race together. Definitely a little bittersweet.

Run: 3 laps of 2km each. I put on my running gear and headed out as quick as I could I haven’t been running much on flat pavement, so I felt a bit out of my element of twists, turns, and hills, but I still managed to keep the speed up. I wasn’t blazing fast, but managed to keep a 4:30/km pace including the snowy patches which inevitably slow you down. Again, the running was mainly on pavement, and took me through the side streets, and through the plains.

Ski: 3 laps of 3km each. Still new to the skills needed for skate skiing, I was nonetheless going to be trying the skate skis once again. If nothing else, this was an excellent little 3k loop to race on. It was surprisingly challenging for a relative novice like me. Lots of little twists and turns, many of which would occur on steep downhills. There was also a great lung-busting climb taking us back up to the transition area. With so many racers, there was a lot of crowding to get out of the way of speedy skiers, as well as making some quick passes. I witnessed more than a few wipe-outs, but luckily managed to avoid any spills of my own. By the 3rd lap, I finally felt like I had the hang of it, but then it was time to switch again!

Skate: 12 laps of 500m each. Round and round we go. Racers were responsible for counting their own laps for all 12. If you missed one, you got a 5 minute penalty. With a time of under 20 minutes, you can see that a 5 minute penalty is huge. Probably for that reason, I actually ended up doing 13 laps. You see, even though we counted our own laps, there was an electronic system keeping tabs on us for the final results. Looking through results, you can see that many people messed up. One speedy guy I know ended up doing 15 laps! Others 14. I’m okay with one bonus lap. The first lap is wasted anyway, as your legs aren’t quite working 🙂

Snowshoe: 3 laps of 2km each. To wrap up the race, it was time to strap on the snowshoes and run our way to the finish. This course was almost the same as the ski portion, only cut through the middle of the Plains instead of doing a full loop. Unfortunately for me, what seemed challenging on the skis was anything but on snowshoes. Wide flat trails, with no tree cover, no tricky trail twists or anything. In that way, it reminded me of the Dion snowshoes race in Kingston, where I was throttled by the fast runners, as it favours the speedy racers over the technical racers. In spite of that, it was a fun course, and the last bit was cool because we ran over a man-made overpass of scaffolding and snow to run to the finish line. I will at least say that in comparison to the other legs, this was my fastest in comparison to the rest of the field.

If you’ve done your math, you’ll note the total race distance was a tidy 42km, or exactly the distance of a marathon. Luckily though, it didn’t hurt nearly as much, and I finished in 1:50, which I’ll never see in a running race of 42k! The hardest part of the race I think was coming out of the transition and starting a new leg of the race. As an endurance athlete, I’m just starting to fall into the groove of the event when I had to switch sports and engage new muscles. The first 1 or 2 laps of each leg I felt very sloppy. All told though, I was very happy and would definitely do the event again. Kinda wish they’d host something like that here though so I wouldn’t have to make another super-long trip in the winter. To wrap up the day, all participants got to head to the hotel for a great buffet lunch in the ballroom. At the same time, the organization was giving out the prizing, and you could chat with fellow racers. All in all, a top notch event, and I have no bad memories resulting from the drive. Just trauma 🙂 So, that’s it for my winter race season. Time to move back into training mode and get ready for another busy summer. Till then, keep active my friends!

Video Review

Fencing and ‘Festing for Fun

Darcy supervising

Good day friends. I bet you all thought you wouldn’t hear from me again until the winter race season started, right? Well, I’d hate to leave you all wondering just what it is that ActiveSteve does when he isn’t racing or training ;-). Hence this short little post to keep you all well informed. It’s not secret that I’m not really one to sit around eating bon-bons. If I’m not doing something, I get bored. So I guess it’s a good thing that I’m a homeowner, because there’s ALWAYS something to do when you own a house, even if it is a new house, as I’m learning. Also, given that my training and racing takes me away from home a lot, it also means that I don’t get to see some of my friends as much as I’d like, so this is also a chance to do a bit of catching up with some of my good friends, as well as spend more quality time with my best gal Deanna! This certainly won’t be a long post, so you should have no problem getting through the whole thing, as well as checking out my two sets of pictures, first being my fence re-building project, and the second being some pictures from this year’s Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill.

As I’m sure you’ve already pieced together from my intro, the house project that has most recently kept me a little busy was the rebuilding of my fence. One of the reasons I had chosen this house was that it was already completely enclosed by a wood fence, meaning that Mr. Jonah could have the run of the backyard to play. Well, before the winter was even in full swing last year, I noticed that the fence was starting to lean. In the dead cold of winter, I attempted to straighten it temporarily with some metal spikes, but that was a band-aid solution. Truth be told, I agonized somewhat over what I’d have to do to fix it. Fences can be pretty finicky things, and I wasn’t looking forward to doing the work, so in my mind, I thought I’d just hire someone to deal with it in the spring. Well, spring became summer, and summer was winding down, and I still hadn’t dealt with it. Those contractors I did contact all seemed to want to charge a bucketload of money for the work. Essentially, I was going to take down the fence, and was looking for someone to just dig the post holes and set the posts for me, and the prices didn’t seem reasonable.

In fact, it got to the point that I decided I might as well do it myself. After all, I’m pretty handy with stuff like that, and it was just a matter of time and sweat to get it done. I pinpointed basically the one weekend where I could do the ‘heavy work’ of digging the holes and setting the posts, and set to work researching how to do it. I settled on this: Dig a 4 foot hole. Bottom 6 inches line with gravel, then sink the posts and level them with concrete footings (inside a sonotube). Plan seemed fair. Also decided to rent a hydraulic auger rather than the hard-to-handle two-man rigs. I enlisted a few friends to come over on the Saturday and Sunday, plus Deanna’s dad, although reluctant to help, was unable to stand idly by while we worked, as predicted by Deanna :-).

I learned some new skills that weekend. And learned about soil types. My soil, clay. HEAVY, HARD, CLAY! The 4 foot holes became 3 foot holes, and the 6″ gravel eliminated, but sonotubes kept. The gravel was for drainage, but given that there was so much clay, we were more worried it would serve as a place for water to pool, freeze, and heave (since it would be much more porous than the actual soil. Once convinced to dig shallower holes, I toiled 11 hours on Saturday to get most of the holes dug. I got 9 of 11 done. It was hard work. Darcy and Matt came out to help as well, thanks guys! The next day, up early again to finish the holes and get to work on setting posts. This was a less physical task, but required a bit of finesse and thinking. After all, my panels were all pre-made, so I had to get the spacing exactly right on the posts, which was a bit tricky. Luckily, for Sunday, I had the ever-precise Dave out to help Deanna’s dad and I out. We made excellent progress, and managed to get all the posts plumb and set by the end of the day, which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Over the next week and a bit, I added back all the hardware using a water level to make sure they’d line up. Deanna gave me a hand whenever I needed it to put up the panels. Most of them went in perfectly, with a nice snug fit. I had to trim two of them, and then completely re-bulid a couple of them. I had expected that though, since I also moved my fence line along the back to line up with my actual property line. Lastly, I cut the tops off the posts and capped them. It was awesome to be done and look out into the back to see a nice strong, straight fence that I’m confident will last for years to come. Hard work, but totally worth it!

Sampling Cask Stouts

So now we get to the second part of my post, the ‘festing! Of course I’m talking about Oktoberfest here. Deanna and I were a little sad that we wouldn’t be able to make it to Kitchener for this year’s bit Oktoberfest, but it turns out there are some good options right in our own backyards now. I’m referring in this instance to the Beau’s Brewery Oktoberfest celebrations that they just held at the Vankleek Hills fairground. They’ve held it a few years now, and it appears to just keep growing each year, and getting better and better organized. They go out of their way to make this event a true Oktoberfest party. Not only do we have the many delicious beers to enjoy under authentic large beer tents, but the whole grounds are teeming with activity. There was live oompah music throughout the afternoon. There was also more modern music in the evening courtesy of The Peelers, Cuff the Duke, and the Lowest of the Low. There was also a plethora of great food on offer from many local vendors. I stuck to mainly traditional; sausages, pretzels, and strudel, all of which was awesome!

They also had a lot of games on site, including keg tosses, stein holding, malt sack races, and a spouse carrying contest. To see some of that on video, you’ll have to check it out on flickr here and here. It was a hoot. There was lot of room under the tents, which was pretty critical, given that it ended up being rather cold and rainy while we were there. Deanna and I were joined by Dave and Meghan as well as Andy and Irene-Anne, but once on site, I couldn’t believe how many people I ran into that I hadn’t seen in a long time, including both of my bandmates from Comfort Station that still live around here. Of course there was much talk of music and reunions, and hopefully that’ll materialize at least in the form of a nice jam session over the colder months!

As far as the beer selection went, it was top notch. The only problem was that they eventually started running out of all the unique brews that they had on tap, leaving us only with their best seller, the Lug Tread Ale, not that there was anything wrong with that. There was also a whole separate area for ‘cask beer’ samples. Here, there was an entire showcase of different beers available for microbreweries in Ontario and Quebec. I sampled a couple really tasty stouts while in that tent. Beaus also arranged for bus shuttles to/from downtown for those that wanted to avoid driving, which we all took advantage of. All told, it took Deanna and I about 2 hours to get from our house to the fest, between the STO bus, and OC transpo bus, and the Beau’s shuttle 🙂 Oh well, still beats driving ourselves, and we didn’t mind at all.

I must say that after attending many Oktoberfest parties in K-W, and now attending Beau’s Oktoberfest twice, I’m rather fond of the Beau’s version. The all-day fun activities really fulfilled my Oktoberfest desires, and at the end of the day, I lay my head down in my own bed, rather than facing the prospect of a hung-over 6 hour drive home. I love them both dearly, but it’s great that we do have the option of doing something locally now.

I’ll end my stories there for now, as I have to get back to other little chores and projects. Exciting stuff happening in the next few weeks, but you’ll have to wait to hear and read all about it 🙂 I promise it’ll be fun (more so for me than you my dear readers, but I hope to share it with you in some way. Cheers!

All Roads Lead to Relaxing

Mmmm beer

Good day my friends. I thought I’d take a quick moment and write a blog post where the subject wasn’t purely about racing or training. I say not purely because I just couldn’t help myself from at least a little training on the one weekend that I had more or less free all summer. However, in true ActiveSteve style, I managed to combine my relaxing with the training for a truly spectacular weekend out on the Madawaska River at Jim’s property near Calabogie. Of course, I’m talking about his annual Mad River Float, in which he invites a whole crew of friends out for the flotilla on the river. Everyone brings a floaty thing, and we put in 3-4 km upriver of his cabin and leisurely float back, with the aid of tasty beverages. Afterwards, there is a super-tasty barbecue put on by he and Ali, then a roaring fire to finish things off. As per usual, I took pictures of the whole event, and you can check them out on the folder on flickr. Click on to read the rest of my little story, which won’t be too long, I promise!

The weekend of the float was one of the few this summer / fall that I truly had nothing going on. The following weekend would be the 30 hour Wilderness Traverse, and after that, a whole string of other races. Also, we didn’t have the dog for the weekend, so we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. Jim had let me know well in advance that this would be the weekend of the float, so we’d kept things free that weekend. At one point, Deanna and I had talked about making a cycle touring trip of it, using both bikes, and me using a trailer to haul our stuff out there. However, when the time finally rolled around, we realized that it probably wouldn’t work with all our stuff and the fact that the float would start around 12:30. The ride from home would probably take 3.5 hours or more. However, seeing as I had several big races coming up, I wanted to get in a good bike training session. The plan was to ride both to and from the float. I only made it one way, for reasons that you can probably guess 😉

Biking out there, I had planned a pretty straightforward route that took only back roads and should only be about 100km. I memorized all my turns in advance, and hit the road from home around 8am, leaving me seemingly plenty of time. Well, I didn’t plan on new roads and a bit of a route fail on my part. I ended up doing a huge extra loop in one section, adding at least 15km to my trip. Plus, the undulating terrain and winds also slowed me a bit. In the end, I rolled into the cabin area pretty much right at the deadline! So much for lunch! Oh well, the beer would fill me up, right? Yup, obviously I should have eaten something after a 115km ride, before hitting the beer. But what’s the fun in that?

Shortly after I got there, we loaded up a few cars in order to carpool to the put-in. Deanna and I hopped in a truck with our drinks and floaty things. Once at the boat launch, the entire flotilla crew set about inflating their hardware and prepping for the float. Deanna and I had chosen the Ahh-qua Bar this year, and it was a solid choice. Of course, I modified it before we arrived, by adding grommets to each of the 4 floating chairs, and attaching docking ropes to the middle section. That way, you could float free, or tether yourself to the bar and float with that. Having the attachment points, and wearing flippers made this actually work pretty good. The chairs were pretty comfy, and allowed us to sit in the water and stay cool while the sun beat down on us. Oh yeah, and did I mention there were 12 cup/can holders PLUS a central cooler area? Yup, lots of room for suds!

We had a decent tailwind, so our group, which was probably around 20 or more people, actually made pretty decent time. In the past floats, when there is no wind, it takes FOREVER to actually float the river, due to the lack of current. Not so this year. With a little paddling, it took less than 3 hours total, and just about the right amount of time to work through my stash of beers and catch up with everyone on the float I hadn’t seen in a while. Deanna, for the most part, just paddled around on her chair, while I stayed at the bar and let people join me there. Good times.

Once back at the cabin, more fun awaited as we played at the high-jump diving into the river. It wasn’t super deep, so I managed to bash up my foot a little bit, but nothing too serious. And certainly nothing that I was really feeling. Meanwhile, Jim was busy sparking up the BBQ and cooking up an insane feast of ribs, burgers, hot-dogs, etc.! We were definitely not wanting for food after the meal was done! The fire was also going strong as well, and even though the weather did eventually turn sour by pouring rain on us for a bit, nobody really minded. Luckily, the rain passed, and we were able to head back out around the fire. And that’s when I busted out my Jiffy Pop! Yes, I’m mildly famous at the cabin, and for a while had the nickname ‘Jiffy Pop’ from a past poker night, but I was determined. By using a cooking grill, and wearing heavy-duty gloves to prevent burns, I patiently worked my Jiffy Pop until I got the perfect pop. It seemed to take forever, but it was totally worth it!

Eventually, many people left, and the 10 or so people that stayed moved into the screened porch to have a few more bevvies and play some cards. We played well into the night, until eventually, it occurred to me that I should really go to sleep. Although Deanna and I had brought Big Agnes, we instead opted to just sleep in the screen room. Deanna was on a couch, and I just laid on the floor on a thermarest. By that point, I don’t even thing the thermarest was needed ;-). We had a few solid hours of sleep before morning found us again. I felt pretty crappy upon waking up, but luckily, I had nuun to drink, and Ali actually had bacon, eggs, cheese, and english muffins, and was able to make us some kick-ass Egg McMuffins to eat for breakfast. It was heavenly. Once fully awake, I assessed my state, and determined that biking 3.5 hours wasn’t in the cards for me. After all, I rarely just chill out and do nothing, so I decided a hungover relaxed day would work out just fine!

After hanging out a bit longer, we packed up, and headed home. It was another super-fun Mad River Float, and I’d like to say thanks once again to our amazing hosts, Jim, Ali, Tristan, and Xavier! We’ll definitely try to make it again next year. After all, the bar worked perfectly, and needs to come out at least once a year! So that’s it for my relaxed post. As I finish this post, I’m about 33 hours away from tackling my 2nd ever Iron-distance tri, so as you might guess, the next post will be back to a race report! Till then, squeeze out the most you can out of our remaining summer!!

Triathlon Tune-Up in Nation’s Capital

Happy at Finish

Welcome to another race report from me in this glorious summer weather that we’re having. As is often the case during the summer months, it becomes a bit challenging to keep things current on my website. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, it’s summer! I’d rather be outside doing stuff than trying to write great prose on my keyboard. Second, being summer, I have a lot of races and ‘stuff’ going on. Again, this limits my time to get things documented. And finally, this year, some of my races also have me acting as a race reporter, which adds to my post-race duties by producing and editing videos of the events. Getting tons of footage down to a 2 minute clip is actually quite challenging I’ve found, and takes a fair bit of time! At any rate, enough whining. I’m trying to catch up by writing up my race report for this year’s National Capital Triathlon that I just competed in. It was my 6th time competing in this event, and 4th doing the Olympic Tri distance (the other two times I did the Kayak Tri). Looking back, it turns out I haven’t done a proper Tri in almost 2 years, and it sort of showed in my results. I’ve swam about 3 times in that time, so I didn’t have very high hopes. However, with a looming Iron-distance triathlon, I knew I needed a little tune-up, so this event, a month before the Iron, seemed a good idea! Read on for a bit more on my race, and don’t forget to check out some pictures Deanna snapped!

Going into this one, I really had no pre-determined goals or time ideas. In fact, I didn’t even look at my past results or anything. I had no clue how my swimming speed would be, or whether I’d be able to push super-hard in all the disciplines. What’s even more refreshing, I didn’t care! I wore no heart rate monitor, and just wanted to go out, race hard, and have a fun time. My current trend in racing now is more about realizing that I will not improve without a lot more training, and I simply don’t want to commit to that much training for the improvements. Life has a lot more to offer me than training and the sacrifices that go with it. I have a motorbike now! Ha ha. I also have a new kayak that I like to paddle. But more specifically, I’m helping someone else grow their abilities on the bike and in the boats. Yup, I’m just enjoying spending time doing those things with Deanna. As a result, something had to give, and for me, that was podium dreams in most races. I’ll still go for it, but the obsession is just a little less these days. As long as I’m keeping fit and staying healthy and having fun, that’s good enough for me. After all, the pro sponsorship opportunities just never seemed to materialize. Guess I’ll be a working sucker till retirement!

Anywho, on with the actual race report. Luck was with us all once again on the weather front. It was an absolutely stunningly gorgeous day for a race. I was glad that the gun was going off at 8:30am, as a later start would have just been painful in the heat and sun. So, as groggy as I was getting up (and slightly resentful), it was for the best. Also, the early start meant we had the rest of the day ahead of us, and plans had already shaped up insofar as after the race, we’d be loading up the kayaks and heading to Meech Lake for some awesome Kayaking. I got to the site a little late, and had to rush to get my T-zone set up, as well as get my timing chip and body marking done. Along the way, I bumped into my friends Nicholas and Christine Allen, who were doing the Olympic and Sprint Triathlon respectively. I seem to see them at all the events I do, like ARs, Spartan race, and now this! Too funny. Great to see them though, and Nicholas and I ended up sort of racing each other within the race, which was fun. After getting my final checks done, I headed to the beach to zip up the wetsuit and await the start of the race.

To refresh everyone’s memories, in an olympic tri, you first swim 1.5km, then hop on bikes for a 40km time trial, and cap it off with a 10km road run. Taken individually, those are all relatively straightforward races, but string them together in one race, and you can have a lot of fun and challenges on any single leg. For the swim, as mentioned, I haven’t swam in a long time. However, I always say swimming is more art than strength. If you have a good stroke, you’ll always finish strong. Although I’ve not swam much, the overall time wasn’t too bad. I finished the swim in 30:46, which is about 2 mins. slower than the last 2 times I raced, and 2 minutes faster than the first time ever I’ve swam it. In other words, it was average for me. I was 41st out of the water to head to the bikes. The actual swim? Well, boring I suppose. As usual, the excitement at the start is when all the people are clamouring to get their space, with arms and legs flailing, you unavoidably get hit. Nothing new there. I focused on keeping my pace and swimming straight. Had I done a better job, I would have been faster. However, I felt good at the exit, and was ready to tear it up on the bike course.

Now on to the 4-lap, 40km individual time trial bike portion. When I hit the road, there weren’t too many other souls out there yet. I managed a pretty quick transition, and passed a couple folks while in the transition. Good start. Hopped on the bike, tucked into my aero position, and started mashing the pedals. As usual, the bike was super-comfortable, and I got into a nice groove. I expected to be able to maintain a pretty decent clip, and sort of hoped my time would compare to other tris I’ve done. Turns out my legs were a bit slower though. Perhaps it was the hard 50k I’d logged 2 days before with Kev in Gatineau Park, or perhaps I’m just too used to my leisurely commute riding rather than hard racing. Either way, my average speed was around 33km/h for the 40k course. That’s about 2km/h slower than my best, but faster than the other two attempts. However, it was good enough to have the 32nd fastest bike split of the race. So again, I’d call that a solid performance, perhaps slightly better than average for me. That only leaves the run course.

Ahhh running, how I love to hate thee :-). My transition from biking to running seemed even smoother than the swim to bike. I racked my bike, threw on my running gear, and was back out on the course with a very quick turnaround. Again, I noted that I passed a couple folks that had come off the bike at about the same time as me. I settled pretty quickly into a steady pace, once again paying no attention to what my watch might tell me about pacing, and rather, just focusing on my stride and how I felt. I got down to the business of picking people out ahead of me, targeting, and ultimately passing them. After a little bit I saw my friend Nick up ahead. We had been pretty close through the whole race, but he had said the run would be his undoing. I resisted the urge to sprint towards him, and instead just kept my pace. There was a woman with me keeping me at a pretty good pace. I found out at the finish that she was actually the 1st female overall (due to my help, stay tuned!). Working together, we got closer and closer to Nick. He glanced back a few times, seeming to be just waiting for the pass. He said he could hear my breath getting closer. I finally passed him on the first half of the 2nd 5k loop.

Once I had passed him, I kept my pace steady, running along with Michelle and chatting a little with her. At a few hundred meters to go, she said “We have to catch her”. This was in reference to a tall figure up ahead of us. Seeing as I liked targets, I said “sure thing” and gradually picked up my pace, dragging Michelle along with me. The gap was getting closed painfully slowly, and I finally caught up to the other woman on the final climb into the finishing chute. I picked up my pace slightly at the finish, crossing the line just ahead of them, unsure which of the two crossed first. If you look at the results, you’ll see all 3 of us had a time of 2:29:34, but Michelle was just after me, than the other woman. She credited me for the win, as I had paced her perfectly in order to get the pass at the finish. I felt a bit bad for the other woman, but was also kinda happy to be part of a rivalry out there :-). My time of 46:09 for the run was good enough for 14th overall in the run, and sewed up 22nd overall for me in the race. Best I can recall is that at the end of the bike, I had been sitting at 40th overall, so I made up 18 spots on the run. Very respectable. I’m pretty sure I’ll be counting on a strong run at the Iron distance tri to make up for shortcomings in the water and possibly on the bike!

All in all, it was a good day out on the race course, and I felt great for the whole event. So good in fact, that after eating and cleaning up a bit, we loaded up the kayaks and went paddling for over 3 hours on Meech Lake. Our reward for the day? Well, from our kayaks, we spent 20 minutes at one point watching a mama bear and her two cubs from about 10m from the shore. It was pretty incredible. They were foraging, playing and just generally wandering around near the water. At one point, mama let me know I was getting too close by standing up and snorting and huffing a bit. That was enough to convince me to back off a bit. She looked surprisingly large when standing up! Luckily, we were pretty sure we could out-paddle a swimming bear. Best I can tell is that a black bear can swim up to 8km/hr, whereas in my boat, I can easily manage 10+ km/hr (faster if being chased by a bear I’m sure!). So to summarize the whole day: perfect! Great race, great paddle with Deanna, and great relaxing once all was said and done. Next up: a short adventure race with Deanna, including a video review for Get Out There.

A Little Urban Adventuring

Team on Boats

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard of the Amazing Race, and that most of your are familiar with adventure racing, and that you’ve perhaps also heard of City Chase, a race series that sort of (loosely) combines elements of both AR and the Amazing Race. In a word, they call City Chase an urban adventure challenge. Well this post will give you a taste of how the City Chase actually works, as Deanna and I recently competed in the Ottawa installment. Like the Spartan Race a few weeks back, I was taking part in the race to provide a video race review for Get Out There Magazine. If you’d like to see the video I put together (it’s kind of frantic), have a look at the YouTube video. I actually had no idea how the race would actually play out, as I only knew roughly what it was about, which is that you race around the city using public transit to complete ‘Chase Points’. First team of 2 that does 10 of them and returns to the finish wins. Plain and simple. Well, as we learned, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. For our first time, we were actually pretty happy to finish in 172nd place in a time of 5hrs 26mins out of over 500 teams that started out. Besides the little video review I put together, you can also check out the photos that I snapped and posted on flickr. As I was focused on the video and racing, there aren’t too many I liked. When you’ve had a peek at those, pop on back and read about the race!

Okay, so we’ve established that in City Chase, there are Chase Points and you race around the city. You can only go by foot or public transit, which in the case of Ottawa means the O-Train or buses. Every participant was given a 1-day bus pass to use for that purpose. Being a Saturday though, I knew a lot of the routes would have limited bus runs, so Deanna and I did a lot of walking instead of waiting. Lucky for us, the weather on race day was absolutely gorgeous. Sunny skies and temps that would eventually climb to around 30 degrees. Hydration would be important over the course of the 6 hours. I should point out that the race has a hard cap. All teams must have crossed the finish line by the 6 hour mark to officially finish. This can be tricky with the public transit equation, and plays into strategy. Given that 40 or so teams ‘tied’ for 384th with a time of 6 hours even, I’m guessing they let that slide a bit. Amazingly, the top team finished in just over 3 hours! Preparation is the key, which leads me to the explanation of Chase Points.

After a group warm-up at city hall, and a race briefing, the Chase was on. We were told the Official Clue Sheet was available at Lisgar Field, meaning all 1100 racers would be bolting over there to get the information. The clue sheet outlines the Chase Points, and lays out the rules. In total, there were 31 possible Chase Points set in 4 groups. In the first 3 groups, you HAD to complete at least 2 of the chase points (these groups had 3, 4, and 4 CPs respectively), then choose 4 from the 4th group. I expected each clue would just tell you where to go and the nature of the challenge. Nope! It is actually a list of different puzzles, like cryptograms, plays on words, cryptic clues, etc. For example, our first CP we went to was called “Tinkle Toes” and the clue read: Bih-kuhm uh pruh-fesh-un-nl bawl-room dahn-ser aht wuhn uhv thee lee-ding dahns stoo-dee-ohs in ot-uh-wuh. Meet uhs aht wuhn huhn-drid and fif-tee-wuhn Chap-uhl Street. Obviously it was just a phonetic clue, so I got it quickly, but there were all sorts of other puzzles to unscramble.

Experienced teams took clue sheets and basically sat down with a map and smartphone. They worked at unscrambling the clues and trying to figure out where each of the challenges was, and tried to plot an efficient route between them that they could complete as quickly as possible in order to get back to the finish line quickly. Also, those keen on winning probably did CP #1, which was done in advance by raising at least $50 for Right to Play. Deanna and I were not quite as experienced, instead trying to figure out a nearby one we could start with. However, there were also 3 CPs which were awarding VIP line passes to the first 25 teams through, allowing teams to skip to the front of the line if they got to busy CP. I thought that might be a good idea, so with that in mind, we bee-lined for the dance studio to do Twinkle Toes. This was a matter of a jog through downtown to get to Rideau and Chapel. Luckily, we were amongst those first 25 teams, and the challenge, which had us do a dance routine, wasn’t too hard, and we were awarded our VIP pass. Happy with this, we set back out into the sun to get to our next CP, which we hadn’t decided on yet. We’d already burned up about 45 minutes for 1 CP!

To solve a couple of the clues, we had to get creative, first calling on Kevin to try and work on a crossword puzzle for us, then rummaging in a store recycle bin to get a Friday newspaper, which had a clue buried within it. While working on the puzzles, we headed back to the Ottawa U campus on foot, where one of the CPs was, and it was right up my alley! Put on by the Ottawa Orienteering Club, you were given a map of the campus indicating the location of 10 control points that you had to punch. I got to work on it right away, running from point to point with Deanna on my heels. We got all 10 controls in about 17 minutes, one of the fastest times of all the racers. Having completed only 2 CPs, we were starting to get nervous already, as we had 8 to go! We decided we’d need to actually do a little planning and strategizing. We now had 2 ‘optional’ CPs done, and needed all our mandatory ones. With that in mind, we solved a bunch of the clues and made a rough plan. We would head downtown where we could pick up 1 CP on Queen Street, 2 CPs on Bank Street, then head out to LeBreton for another CP. Grab a bus towards Westboro where we’d pick up 2 more CPs, then take a bus to the O-Train. From there, take train to Mooney’s Bay for our final 2 CPs before transiting back to the finish line. With a freshly-minted plan, we headed out on foot with purpose.

Our next CP had us at the Royal Oak at 188 Bank, where we had to each prepare a drink and serve to the judge. There was a huge line-up, but our VIP pass was used for maximum benefit here, allowing us to skip the line. Perfect! Sadly, there was no real alcohol in the drinks, and they weren’t something you’d want to sample, as it was dirty glasses and questionable ingredients. Too bad, as it was getting pretty darn hot. Deanna had one slight problem with her drink. Rather than reading ‘1/2 oz’ of Vodka, she tried pouring a 1/2 glass of vodka! The judges admired her strong drink mixing skills, but decided it might be best to try again :-). In spite of that, we were in and out quickly.

Further down the street at Bank and Gilmour, we grabbed a Blackberry from Rogers for the next challenge, which was to take 4 pictures (out of 6 possible clues) within 30 minutes and bring them back to the judges. This was another pretty quick task, which we completed lickety-split. We were now getting a bit more confident and had found our groove. There were lots of other teams out and about, all having a great time and shouting out to each other all through downtown. We now headed up to Queen Street to find the GoodLIfe fitness. Once there, we had to spend 7 minutes on spin bikes sweating it out as an instructor shouted instructions. If we weren’t totally hot from the sun, this workout put us WAY over the top. We finished the challenge and stepped back out totally drenched and looking for some relief.

Lucky for us, our next CP was just the ticket. We now made our way to the west end of downtown to find the whitewater practice area around LeBreton Flats, where inflatable kayaks awaited us. For this challenge, we had to grab a boat, and navigate the whitewater gates down the river for a bit before pulling out and carrying the boat back to the start. The water was a nice refreshing treat, even though we didn’t get to stay or swim for very long. However, the rocks and sand were absolutely scorching, causing both of us to burn our feet! Once again, we had a great run there, and were back on our way soon, this time heading for the transitway to grab a bus to Westboro. Destination? The Ottawa Gymnastics Centre for a super-fun CP where we got to do trampoline work, climb ropes, play on the rings, the pommel horse, balance beam, and the rings. The piece de resistance for us here was doing 5 cartwheels in a row, which anyone who knows Deanna might realize she wasn’t particularly good at those. However, under pressure, she nailed it!

Our reward for a job well done awaited just down the street at the CP called ‘The Mask’. This CP was located at a spa, and entailed me giving Deanna a lovely cucumber and peppermint facial. She had to wear the mask for 3 minutes. Once the time was up, I cleaned her up, and we had to take a ‘mystery shot’, which ended up being apple cider vinegar. YUCK! Luckily, it was watered down by the time we got to it, thanks to the many teams before us. With this CP done, we were left with only 2 more CPs, both of which were at Mooney’s Bay. A bus and the O-Train later, we were jogging to the site. First up was a puzzle CP where we had to assemble 6 puzzles of places in the world, and match the name of the place to each one after making the puzzle. The puzzles were pretty straightforward, and we quickly worked through them, also correctly matching the place names since I knew most of them from sight. Our only problem was the wind which had picked up and kept blowing our puzzle pieces away. Kind of frustrating, but what can you do?

Our very last CP was right up my alley as well. It involved paddling a kayak out to a buoy and back. However, it wasn’t THAT easy. The real challenge was that your teammate had to be seated on the front of the boat as you paddled. If you flipped, you had to start again. There were a range of boats, and one caught my eye. Fat and wide. Ultra stable. I told Deanna to just hop on the front and we’d get ‘er done quick. Sure enough, no problems. As we were out there, we saw another team trying the same, but they had picked a sleeker kayak, and didn’t fare well. In other words, they flipped! On our return I suggested they take our kayak. After all, we were all done and only had to get to the finish line now. Wrapping up was quick and painless, as we just had to take transport back to the Rideau Centre and walk over to City Hall. We’d had a great day and were plenty hot, so we were looking forward to finishing up. Hand in hand, we ran to the finish to complete the Challenge. Once there, they told us we were among the first 180 teams to finish, and directed to get a goodie bag.

Amongst the goodies? Two free beer tickets to use at the Hard Rock for the post-race party! Awesome! What a great way to finish the race. After hanging around for a little bit, we hit the market and the bar for beers. We sat with a few other racers and swapped stories. It was fun to hear about some of the other CPs that we didn’t get to try, including one where you had to let a tarantula or snake crawl all over you! The bar was totally full now, as more and more teams finished off and made their way here. We only stayed a little bit, as we’d also decided to head over to Zak’s for milkshakes, then join Dave and Meghan at Hintonburger for some delicious supper. All in all, a really fun way to spend a summer day with Deanna, and getting to show her a bit more about the city she now calls home. Can’t say for certain, but I can see us doing it again next year as well. Next time I’m sure we’ll approach it even more strategically and try to better our last time :-). Till that time, have fun, and hope you’re all enjoying the fine weather as well! Ciao.

Excellent Out-East Adventures

Windblown cute couple 2

Hello all! It’s been quite some time since I took a trip out East to where I grew up, and I recently had the perfect excuse(s) to do so. Firstly, my dad was celebrating his 70th birthday this year, and my sister and I decided that we wanted to throw a little celebration in his honour and invite friends and family from around the world to attend. Secondly, Deanna has never been further east than Quebec City, and it was high time that she experience a little Maritime hospitality and meet some more of the family. As a result, we booked a week off work in July and made our plans for a whirlwind driving tour of the area. Over 4,000km of driving in about 9 days! Lots of time sitting in the car, but also some quality time with friends and family. Check out a whole pile of pictures then head on back for a taste of what we did and what the highlights of each day was for us! We definitely wished we’d had more time down there, but with another vacation already booked in October, we just couldn’t spare the time.

Now, this isn’t the first time I drive back home, and it probably won’t be the last, but every time I make the drive, I realize just what a big country we actually live in. Luckily, for this trip, there were two of us ready to do the driving. However, apart from the ’empty corridor’, which in my mind is the 1000 or so kms between Ottawa and Fredericton, I would be doing most of the driving so that Deanna could just take in the scenery. Once the trip was all said and done we both agreed that making the trip was totally worth it, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves, but it really would have been nice to do a bit more actual relaxing. You know, sit at the beach and read a book, spend an extra 2 hours at the pub listening to locals and their stories, take that harbour cruise and go whale watching, hike that great trail in Cape Breton Highlands, etc. This was definitely the ‘Taste of the Maritimes’ tour, which doesn’t quite to justice to all there is to do.

that being said, we hit a lot of great places, and Deanna was most impressed with our trees, rocks, and water :-). For a general sense of our tour, you can have a look at a google maps representation of the route that we drove. You’ll see there was very little overlap. We hit Fredericton, Moncton, Pictou County, Cape Breton Highlands, the East Coast of Nova Scotia, tour of central PEI, and finally, the run back up via the north shore of New Brunswick, and heading back via the Gaspesie. Plenty of great sights. For accomodations, we had a combination of staying with friends, hotels, and even some camping.

For starters, we made a straight shot through to Fredericton, leaving Ottawa around 3:30pm, and hitting Fredericton around 3am local time. While there, we stayed with Trevor and Julie and their uber-cute kids. Highlights of that part of the trip includes the market, touring all my old University haunts, bbq meal of lamb, and some declicious Piccaroons beers. A lot remains the same in Fredericton, but there were some changes. including new buildings as part of the engineering building, and the loss of my beloved ‘Pillar Pub’ room, which is now a lab! While there, Deanna and I also wandered around downtown in the sunshine.

On Sunday morning, it was off to Moncton to stay with Troy and Tanya and the dogs for a night. Upon arrival, Troy joined us for a side trip to Hopewell Rocks so that we could all walk on the ocean floor at low tide. Our timing was absolutely perfect, and we had a great time wandering around there, again with brilliant weather accompanying us. After that, we headed back to the Stokes-Jones casa for some beers in the backyard, with Troy and i attempting to jam with a guitar and a banjo while we decided on supper, which was at the Pump House downtown, where Megan also joined for a bit! Included in this was an ill-fated attempt at catching the tidal bore as it came in. Good times were had, and we even popped into another place for some live jazz. To cap off the night, Troy and I retired to the basement once the ladies headed off to bed, so that we could jam into the wee hours of the morning. It was a long time coming and quite… umm… familiar!

Monday morning had us ducking out early for breakfast, then hitting the road to Pictou County to stay with dad. However, we couldn’t leave without a visit to Magnetic Hill, which was very magical to Deanna who still can’t quite believe it, and insists she will return with a level. We took the scenic route to Pictou, stopping at Jost Winery to sample and purchase some awesome NS wines to bring back. Once at dad’s, we had a quick visit with he and my aunt and uncle before I dragged Deanna out to see all the places I remembered as a kid, including schools, buildings, etc. It was a whirlwind tour of memory lane. For supper, it was back to dad’s, where we had a great meal with family and with wine. After eating, the highlight for me was drinking another glass of wine and all of us sitting in the solarium outside sharing stories of our various adventure throughout the world. Dad’s story about stolen pajamas in St. Petersburg probably takes the prize for best-told story. Eventually, it was off to bed to get set for Cape Breton.

Tuesday morning we awoke unfortunately to some rain falling. Not a great sight to see given that we were about to head off to the most scenic part of our entire trip, the Cape Breton Highlands. 🙁 However, there was nothing we could do, so after a hearty breakfast made by Nicole, we piled back in the car and started out, once again following the scenic routes. They aren’t the quickest, but they were virtually free of traffic, which was nice for driving. Along the road we noticed a lot of cyclists. Turns out it was the Heartland Tour, a big cycle tour around Nova Scotia. The poor buggers were in the thick of the heacvy rains! By the time we hit Cape Breton, the rain had all but petered out, and we were treated to grey skies, but almost no fog, which are good conditions for viewing the scenery. The first glimpses of the hills left Deanna with a good impression and the rest of our tour around the Cabot Trail only reinforced that. we finished our day off by camping at the Ingonish Beach campground in the Highlands National Park, risking the weather. We also popped into the ‘Thirsty Hiker’ pub down the road for beers and food. Before finally turning in, we managed to go for a nice sunset hike to the beach, to walk along the shore and to give Deanna her first chance to dip her toes in the Atlantic Ocean. We had the beach almost to ourselves, so it was pretty special. We got some great shots on the day, and crawled into the tent thoroughly pleased.

Upon waking up, the skies were still grey, but at least it wasn’t raining. We packed up the tent and gear, and headed off to find Deanna a coffee as quick as we could. We decided to drive to Baddeck for breakfast, stopping at ‘The Yellow Cello’, a great little spot near the wharf. Bellies full, it was time to head to Liscomb Lodge to meet up with all the family for dad’s 70th birthday celebrations. Once again, we took the scenic routes, stopping from time to time for pictures, snacks and/or geocaching. We arrived at the Lodge in the late afternoon, but still beat my sister’s family. As a result, I took advantage of the time to hop on the bike for a good one hour ride along the coast, my only ride of the trip unfortunately. It was nice to get out of the car and stretch the legs a bit, and also helped me gather my thoughts on what to say at dad’s supper the next night. For me, that was the highlight of the day. Upon returning, other family had arrived, and we had all arranged to meet up for supper as a group. It was great to hang out with cousins, my aunt and uncle, nieces and nephews, dad and Nicole, Andrea, Patrick, and friends for a nice meal. After eating, the socializing picked back up in our 4-room cabin which also had a nice common room. Even though things were still rolling on, Deanna and I ducked out to take advantage of the hot tub. After all, we were paying a fair bit of coin on this place, so wanted to maximize the facilities 🙂

Thursday morning saw me ambitiously getting up early to go for a trail run early in the morning before we were meeting everyone for breakfast. There is a cool trail, the Liscomb River Trail nearby. This 10k trail was rated as pretty tough and claimed to take 3-4 hrs. However, I managed to do it in under an hour, and even did some geocaching and sight-seeing on it. Quick shower, and met everyone for yummy breakfast, after which we were almost all heading to Sherbrooke Village. This was a great little visit to a living museum town which was literally fun for the whole family! Between me riding an olde tyme bicycle, and Deanna and I getting an ambrotype photograph done, it was a hoot! And a great way to spend several hours on a dreary day. Later in the afternoon, many of the others opted to do a pontoon boat cruise from the lodge, but since it was pretty full, Deanna and I instead went out for a quick 1 hour paddle. After all, Deanna really wanted to do some paddling while out east. It was short, but still worth it. We would have gone longer, but I had some family duties to attend to as well, getting set for the evening festivities. As it was, I ended up being the host for the pre-meal get-together, acting as bartender, nametag guy, and all around social butterfly. Even more people had arrived so we had a great group of assemble guests from far-flung reaches of Canada and the world, all there to share in the special celebration for my dad. He was pretty nonchalant, but I’m pretty sure he was having a good time as well.

The meal itself was well prepared, with a variety of options for each course. There were a myriad of speeches, some of which (okay, most of which), were bordering on roasting rather than just toasting. We were all laughing together though, so that was a good thing. The meal went well into the evening, and culminated in yet more celebrating back at the Meyer cabin. There was some bassoon playing by one of my nieces, and lots of flowing bubbly and rambling stories being told by all those who knew my dad the best. Some were about young Hans in Switzerland, while others were from antics in Canada. It was a great night, and I’m sure we’ll all remember it for years to come. The entire day was a great highlight in my mind, and probably the best of the vacation (and not just because we didn’t have to drive anywhere!)

Of course, the next day, it was back into the car to continue the journey. On the schedule for Friday was the super-tour of PEI. We were awfully thankful that it was a small province. We did our best to start early, but between breakfast with the whole family, and then the inevitable wait for a ferry in Pictou, we really didn’t get to PEI till the mid-afternoon! To make things easy, we booked a bed and breakfast as soon as we got on the island, so we wouldn’t be rushed. Next stop was Charlottetown where we squeezed in a visit to Confederation House before hitting Gahan House, a brewery nearby. It was absolutely delicious! A little more wandering, and it was off to visit the famous beaches (Brackley and Cavendish), Green Gables, and Cows Ice Cream (yes, it was a destination for us!). I will say this. I have been unkind to PEI in the past, but after actually spending more time around the beaches and seeing the views, I’m actually thinking I’d like to do some cycle touring out there. Flat, well-connected, and great scenery on the coast. Two thumbs up. Highlight of the day was probably seeing how happy Deanna was to have her picture taken at Green Gables (and the tasty Ice Creams that followed!). It was a quick trip for sure, but still glad we did it.

For the final day of our tour, it was back to New Brunswick, and a visit to some of the places I spent a lot of time at as a child. My mother was born in the Acadian region in a town called Petit Rocher (near Bathurst). It was where my parents met and got married as well. As a result, I spent many a summer playing by the ocean there. It was pretty cool to go back, and even swim in the same spot I did as a kid. We spent over an hour there. When we realized we had to keep moving, we sort of lamented that it was too bad we had to rush so much during the trip to make it to our next sleeping spot. Unfortunately that’s just the way we had to do things. This was, after all, just a taste of the maritimes. Before leaving NB, we hit the liquor store in Campbellton to grab some Picaroons Beer to bring back with us. Our cooler was over-flowing with beer! Yum! It was then over the border and back into Quebec for our final night of the trip. We ended up finding a pretty awesome campground near a ‘National Park’ (Quebec version) called Le Bic. For $23, we had a totally private site, complete with a 12×12 raised wooden platform for tent, and great shower facilities. Deanna and I took the car down to the beach to enjoy a sunset supper of cheese, crackers, veggies, and coolers while taking in the sights of the Gaspesie. Again, this WILL be a region we’ll visit properly some time. Probably on the motorbikes!

Although the weather had called for sunny skies, the next morning we were awoked rather early with the early sounds of rain! We scrambled to pack everything up even as the drops started coming down. Luckily it was pretty light, and didn’t ‘dampen’ our spirits. However, we looked at the clock and realized it was only 7am when we were already on the road! Craziness. That was okay by us, since we had some things to get sorted at home before heading to work the next morning, PLUS poor Deanna had picked up a cold somewhere along the way and really wasn’t feeling too well. As a result, we pretty much drove straight back to Gatineau from our campsite. The drive was pretty uneventful, giving us some time to reflect on the great week we’d had and the future adventures we’re planning to do together. When stuck in a car almost all day every day for a week with someone, you’d think there would be some tension, but yet again, we proved to ourselves just how well we get along. We had an absolutely amazing time, and all week, we’ve been bemoaning the fact that we need to spend so much time apart now that we’re back to the grind. I’ll take that as a good thing! If you’ve hung in this long, congratulations! I know a lot of this wasn’t too exciting, but how do you summarize a whole week? That was my best try, and if nothing else, I’ll be able to re-read this years down the road and remember all the great highlights of the week! That’s it until my next race post, on City Chase.