Monday 23 March 2009

Roller Racing in Ottawa!

West Quebec Wheelers Retro Flyer

Another weekend has passed quickly and still no sign of warmer weather, although Spring is officially here. Suffering from a lousy cold on Friday, I felt much better on Saturday. Not only did I do an hour of spinning at the athletic club and an additional hour of weight training, but I got back on the Ancient but Honourable Bianchi and went out on the Eastern Parkway for some more on-the-road training. Compared to my last ride there this was actually pretty unpleasant as the claimed 6C (42F) was nowhere near that and the wind was gusting at around 30 km/h (18.6 mph). I did manage two circuits but that was quite enough for me and I was happy to at least have an extra hour of training to my credit. In spite of shoe covers (admittedly the lightweight aero versions and not the neoprene Frankenboots), my feet were pretty cold as I pulled into the driveway at the end.

The final missing element in my Official Training Room was obtained when I went to buy some bolts ($3) at a local store to replace the one that broke on Friday as I was riding home, leaving BlackAdder momentarily seatless, and discovered weight training benches on sale for half price. Now I can do the full range of strength training exercises at home, between my chin-up bar, dumbbells, skipping rope, tension bands and Swiss ball. I will no longer be weak and puny, my friends.

On Saturday night I went with my friends Pat and Barry to, of all places, the Candian Legion Hall on Kent Street for Round 3 of the West Quebec Wheelers Roller Races. This is an indoor racing event that pits four sprinters against each other on bikes fixed to rollers. A big clock-like sign shows the standing of each contestant as they spin like mad to get to 500 m. This takes around 23 seconds, so the races are pretty fast.

I think Roller Races began in the UK in the late 1940s to make up for the shortish outdoor season and I first heard about them on "the Bike Show" podcast as the Rapha clothing people are sponsoring these now. It is great fun to watch and nobody was holding back in their pursuit of medals and a very fancy trophy. There was an excellent turnout of noisy fans and we were impressed with the number of participants and the presence of some very high-quality bicycles. 28 cyclists signed up for the 500 m heats, with wide age (and fitness) range. From having only one female contest in Round 1, this Roller Race saw enough women to run two heats of four.

The 500 m races used the fixed version, but for the 1000 m event the racers used their own bikes on rollers without being attached. This looked pretty scary as some of the riders were not used to roller riding but there was a spotter standing next to them to prevent anyone from flying off too far.

In addition to these races, there was a match-up between Warren MacDonald and Michael Nash, who have ridden the 15 km (9.32 miles) OBC time trial in times of 18:32 and 18:39 respectively. My best time was 22:43, so I am happy neither is in my age group or I would be depressed. I only have to beat the guy who is doing it in 19:25. Only.

We drank Legion beer and cheered lustily but left before the final event, which was a 5 km free-for-all challenge. And who says nothing ever happens in Ottawa?

Sunday was cold again but I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer before a 90 minute spinning class. There was a stand-in instructor who could yell above the sound of the machines and the music, amazingly. Her program was pretty brutal and by the end of the class the original 16 or so participants had melted down into 5 remaining hardy souls. I was certainly in no condition to go for a training ride afterwards, but with freezing temperatures this was not a very appealing idea anyway.

In the afternoon a very tall person came and bought my old time trial frame and headset. I was delighted to sell it as it was too big for me, and he was having trouble finding a frame big enough for triathlons so we were both happy. He was Austrian in origin so I had the chance to practice my German and even used all those cool technical terms, like "Sattelstutz."

The final great accomplishment for the weekend was to read and review a beautiful new book from Australia on custom bicycles. The review should go on shortly. So riding in to work I felt on top of things today and for a brief time I was able to ignore the fact that the windchill made it feel like -19C (-2F).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really enjoy your blog! See you touring ...