Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 Kingston Trophy Half Marathon

Labour Day weekend came fast and with it came the Substance Projects Kingston Trophy. And in past years this was the last event prior to Paul's Dirty Enduro. However with that no longer in existence and no races at all this year as life happened.

So there was no expectations for this edition. But you know...just to make it interesting let's do some pre race course work the day before. You know because resting is for the weak.

Race morning awoke and ended up running a wee bit later than planned as didn't exactly feel a rush. Hey, I readily admit I slacked off and simply did this novel thing called riding because Tom Warren was right.

The half marathon started in the same spot and on the same farm track as last year. And with the usual hammer like it is a 2k courier sprint at the go siren. This year had a better start and was further up the back half of the field when we made it through the gate and on to the singletrack of the Collins Lake system. Careful not to get sucked into go hard now like everyone else.  Passed 4 racers at a log when the took the easy route while I went over the straighter line....score for skill.

After the Collins Bay singletrack it was the long ride of grass beaten by horses...aka the filling test section. Which brought us back to Unity which in my mind is the important point of this race. I say this because after crossing Unity the race truly begins. When I say begin I mean it starts to become technical.

After crossing Unity the course made a right to round the field into a section of old farm road. The night before some would say foolishly rode this section with a bike light but this was to prove to be smart. As at a certain point I knew there would be a long gradual descent I could use to my advantage. On the gradual uphill to that point bided my time and when it was at that point upped the pace to pass 4 more riders.  And then it was a traverse from there to go up the sand track...where local knowledge would be important.

 Then through part of the sand box into the Soybean field where the next important decision to be made....take the straighter rock line through the copse of trees or increase pace slightly and beat everyone taking the non rock line. And the end result was the non rock line was faster as the 4 riders ahead took the line and had to dismount. Yep, sometimes racing is about being smart. A head of 4 more riders back to the barn for the first feed zone. Quick shot of coke and into the DH flow track.

Got a head of one rider as they agreed that I was faster on the track and didn't want to be making them nervous. Thanks for that. After the flow track it was into the first half of home loop where it began the exercise in  smooth and flow. Past a few riders in here while trying to keep riding smooth. And had a reminder in this section of why it is important for a racer to not only call out their pass but more importantly which side..

Off to the lower ridge and then part of Route 66 in reverse. Route 66 was in part an exercise in knowing when to hoof it instead of riding. I had been carrying water, bottle on bike and a hydration bladder. Turns out this year had more water than I needed. It seems my week of cellular hydration had worked as no cramps on race day. It was the next day that got that fun when the back cramp came by to go for a ride. So maybe will have to consider revisiting the moto/enduro style tool pack method I used  20 years ago. You know before it was cool.

After ride, hike, ride, hike, brake, repetitively. It was back on Burbrook and up the hill to Pete's Loop. Another test of flow and smoothness.  Going well till racing hard as came out into a field when a racer re entered the course without waiting to check it was clear. Yes, thank you discs for preventing clydesdale from crushing tiny woman. After about 8 minutes of racing in the turns and rocks biding my time...waiting for the rider a head to screw up to make a pass. Log hop they got nervous on and with a "On your right"   I was off.  Then through the soy fields of Pete's land to the aid station. Coming up to the aid station could see 4 riders stopped. Drawing on my old school tri skills called out" Coke" and got it from Dan. Slammed it back and off to the DH run passing 4 more riders.

After the DH it was the gravel grind down Burbrook to the entrance for the final singletrack of Home Loop. Sadly got passed by 3 riders part way through this last bit of singletrack, oh well. Through the pine and down a DH with some pumps and as usual rail it a little close to the tree at the bottom. Soon it was to the climb up onto the grass to the finish. Didn't feel like sprinting so let a rider catch me.

2016 Kingston Trophy Results

 Rode better than expected and improved over last years time by 20 minutes. Not bad considering I didn't actually train this year.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Boarding School and Mental Health- 25 years later

In the past years this time of year I have been focused on Paul's Dirty Enduro and it has not been about myself. But last year I mentioned I would be stepping back from what I had been doing but never said exactly why. At the time I was beginning to deal with issues and mental health stuff that began over 30 years ago.

When we talk about  mental health there is frequently the mention of triggers. In my case it occurred in a class room last summer taking the mandatory training to foster and adopt.  Watching and listening to what they described affected the foster kids. The descriptions of loneliness, neglect lack of family, to name a few. All the anger and bad blood re-opened....more than once I was in the hallway trying to get it together.

 I won't elaborate too much on the early history but it began in the Vancouver School System where I was labelled ADD and a hyperactive problem child. Because I was considered odd I was ostracized to the point where I was kicked out of school and required to spend 3 weeks in the Children's Psychiatric Ward at BC's Children's Hospital you know to make sure there wasn't 9 voices in my head. Understand that back then mental health was not something discussed at all. And medication was pretty much the only solution offered. There was no internet so parents who loved their children had no internet to help research into what they where hearing. Everyone was doing it the best they could.

It was 30 years ago that things rapidly changed and in some ways for the better and a lot not so good. I had an interest in the military since 82-84 and being a naive 12 year old  kid agreed to go to a boarding school with a military theme. How does one explain to others what I entered at 12 years old? The closest I know of would be Royal Military College of Canada to describe the Robert Land Academy aka RLA experience. I say that because of what I have learned about RMCC and what I see going on. RLA is as far as I know the only school of it's kind in Canada which is a boy's boarding school that is military. Which only has 80-100 students per school year from Grade 6 to OAC when I was there.

Robert Land Academy

 With the exceptions of 2 months during summer, Christmas, March and  Easter breaks and 4 days in November for me life was RLA. I didn't have my own clothes as they where issued. We wore the schools cadet uniform with boots for the majority of the day. Every moment of my life was scheduled from wake up till bed. Let's not forget drill twice a day during the week, within 3 weeks I knew how to do open order march, slow march, and so on at the age of 12. I could do it to Reg Force drill levels....guess it helps when the Academy Sergeant Major is ex RCR. Might explain why I cringe when ever I see cadets doing a parade.And yes, if one whistles the Surf theme from the command quick march in advance in review order it ends exactly at 15 paces.

To put it simply I had very little individual control over stuff that most normal high school students did. Discipline came in the form of laps that came in multiples of 5 with the option of 40 pound pack if you warranted it. And of course everyone's favourite push ups. In the mess hall discipline came in the form of public shaming in the form of  stand up at attention and don't move for a period of time or in an upping of the anti - face the wall at attention style punishment. If you swore or deemed to have done so congratulations you get to chew soap. While it worked for some looking back it did more to my already damaged mental health but I didn't know it at the time.

And while I compare RLA to RMCC there is one huge difference that being the ages. I mean there is a level of maturity and experience most 18 year old's have going in that a 12 year old doesn't. 

Sure there are some positives, learned mental toughness, was pretty good at endurance sport, and gotta say doing a forced march from Queenston Heights via the Bruce Trail to Stony Creek then straight inland through Smithville to the school near Canborough. With a 50 pound pack at 12 years old in 2 and a half days.

Yes while I was interested in the military and initially things where okay. It was as the 5 years progressed it began over time to go downhill mentally. Not one big thing but little bits at a time. Being the only kid from BC with no family in Ontario nearby looking back fueled this. The harassment and bullying about being the only BC kid was wonderful for my self esteem.Even was told by one staff that I was there because my parents didn't love me. I didn't know at the time I was beginning the feelings that it turns out are what kids in Ontario's Foster system feel. Loneliness, feeling of neglect, lack of family, and so on. And let us not forget the anger. This added on top of all the crap the Vancouver School Board put me through would looking back lead to my downfall.

And as the pic at the top states I developed wonderful mental coping mechanisms., built up mental walls, interacted with less people which is real easy to do when you have lost contact with others at home, locked down all emotions, trusted no one, and ultimately developed an unhealthy involvement in endurance sport. The endurance sport part will come up again in a bit. I also need to add that after 5 years of a view of the world being black and white. I developed a serious lack of trust in others, if I felt you let me down you where gone and never interacted with again. Add into this a environment that does nothing to help one's social skills.

  Lovely Accomodations

The week of October 20th 1990,  looking back at the time was the final nudge of mental health damage and when the realization of how alone one could feel.  Got the news that Dave Murray a ski hero had died and while I wasn't aware of it at the time. Part of me realized how alone I was at RLA and sad, that I had to that point been able to keep it going. But that was the week that I mentally pretty much cut my emotions and such. And the anger came out....too bad back then punching out 3 double pane windows wasn't deemed a mental health concern. Back then it was the usual lack of self control, discipline, and you need to work harder verbal bullshit. Yeah like I wasn't working hard enough.  And that year a buried myself in running and endurance which turns out allowed me to somewhat manage things .

While I have mentioned RMCC there is one huge difference between the two and that is socially within the facility. Part of RMCC is team work which is a part of military culture. The students at RMCC are required to work together in various areas to get through. And when they leave they have relationships. RLA did none of that, it was every student for themselves with minimal to no team work, making the situation even more isolating.

While that was bad little did I know the worst was yet to come in 1991. When I say that it was the transition in June 1991 from RLA to the rest of Canada. When I left RLA there was no job, no guidance of how to interact with society, no friends and so on. One of the most painful was trying to socially interact with normal people in a normal setting. What the fuck? I step off a plane into a world with 100's of people to interact with who have social skills that I don't have. I was expected to walk away from interacting with maybe 120 people for 5 years to everyone. How many times was I treated like shit because of this transition? Too many. Was told all the crap that was still spewed today, work hard and you will get over it. Bitch Please. If feeling isolated at RLA was bad try interacting with people who have never been through this. And don't care to accept me with no social skills for me.

And this situation was made even worse when I wanted to talk to women and ask them out. You know, like everyone else around you. But I was  to afraid because of all the worthless crap bouncing around in my head.

I buried myself in Triathlon and riding bikes because it was easier than people. Bikes don't judge and are always there for me. And meanwhile I felt lonelier. And knowing what I know now, if it wasn't for bikes and endurance sport I more than likely would not be where I am now. Because there was no such thing as counseling like there is now. And this is where the bikes came in. As riding bikes and the stuff I did tinkering with them allowed me to manage my mental health issues just enough to keep it under control. Because there was no help or guidance coming back then. Back then it was how I wasn't trying hard enough that was the problem. But it didn't matter how hard I worked I know now that I was and am broken. But the problem on top of this is no one wanted a broken person around. And no girlfriend I had lasted long because no one wants to see past the broken guy after 6 months with no social skills. So it was pretty much me against the world. And with all this damage employment habits would best be called a joke.

Fortunately a series of decisions the fall of 2005 led me to meeting Rick Finlayson and working at Fitness Quest. Thanks to  this I met the right people who gave me some of the guidance I needed. Basically took me under their wing and treated me like I mattered. One of the things I keep saying when it comes to mental health is part of the equation is finding the right people to be around. This group allowed me to socially dig myself out of the hole I was in because contrary to all the talking Jack Asses I wasn't going to able to do this by myself and yes I still fucked up and burnt many a bridge trying. And thanks to Rick and the guys this led me to eventually meet the woman who I married. This woman did many things but there is one thing she did give me the one thing I needed. Looking back now it was the one thing that no other woman I had a relationship ever said. "We will do it together", she somehow could see more than the broken me.

"We will do it together" 4 words that had the greatest impact. But how do you explain what that means to me? I can't

Which brings us back to the children's Services building and me trying not to cry and say the wrong things as it is starting to boil up inside me. I mean come on, it's been 24 years and I am supposed to have walked this off. I am an adult now and not supposed to be broken now. Right?  There are two 2 couples with husbands from the near by base in the class who went to Afghanistan. And they have seen shit and are the one's supposed to be broken. So on top of all the anger, hate, resentment, and so on that I am reliving I am now angry because I feel weak and can't stop all the emotions from coming back. I feel anger of course because being broken is bad in our Canadian society. Anger because I know how mentally tough I can be and here I am cracking.

But it turns out....being broken is ok.  Because of last August I went the next step because my bike riding  reached the point where it couldn't manage what was coming out. Because for years our society didn't want to talk about stuff like this. So why would I? Because as I found out from the counselor I have been talking with since New Years. Many of the mental health issues I have are identical to what many of the kids in the Foster system have.

PTSD and Foster Care

 The problem is when I came through all this no one was there to tell me that you know is okay to be the way I am. Being broken doesn't make me a bad guy it just makes me human. For years I have been told I needed Ritalin or something because compared to everyone else I was considered odd. When in reality what I needed was someone to talk with who had been to where I went. But how can you talk with anyone when such a small percent of students went to RLA?  As my counsellor pointed out, somehow I connected to the right people to make my life better. I am fortunate. And that it is okay.

As I have learned in the last few months I will never be rid of the bad times and believe me there have been very dark days. And even now there are and will be those days when it all comes out to visit. I can never erase it nor having the bad dreams periodically years later. But as I have learned everyone of us is a little broken. And that is okay. And yet during all this I learned a few things that most will never learn the greatest toughness. And when I say toughness I don't mean let's do a half IM toughness. I mean the kind where when everything has gone south, body is not co-operating will not drop out keep fighting. This was seen in July 1993 when I made it through the last 2 weeks of my infantry course puking fluid out of my lungs and should have been in the hospital, no way I was going to quit. And it was seen in 2003 by Barry Shepley during the C3 big training days when there was like 5 hour trainer session followed by the swim. And he shook his head when I was the only one who kept riding with no break. I mean really...after all the shit I have been mentally through doing that shit for 5 hours was going to break me? And thus is where Shepley began the Endurimil. I may not be the fastest but you pretty much are going to have to do a lot to make me quit an endurance event.

In the last few months have learned that there is no right way to deal with this. That some of it is trial and error in learning to manage it. For me it was and still will be riding bikes and endurance sport. 

 There always will be bad parts. I have no grey areas, everything is black and white. Absolutely no tolerance to bull shit and it doesn't take much to make me angry. While better I still don't have the right filters for social situations and get shit from the woman I married for it. While it doesn't happen as often I sometimes still want to sit in places where I want to see everything. Being in large public social gatherings is hard.  And when it is those days when it sucks sure I wish I could go back in time and pull me out of it.

But as my counsellor told me I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't been down this path. I wouldn't have the people and family I know now. Yes I am broken. But I am more okay with that now.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ottawa Seek and Find

 Was in Ottawa a week and a half ago for a few days. While there was looking for a place to ride near the place I was staying at. I keeping hearing there is nothing in Ottawa to ride but like anything I am always resourceful.

After checking Google Earth Satellite view found a hydro line with a area beside that looked promising.

Work road access

And turns out found something off to the side heading into the trees...Singletrack.


While it wasn't a technical singletrack oasis it still gave an hour of riding. This little trail find even gave a nice setting sun moment.

A doe in a field near some barely maintained trail. A unexpected thing to see on some unknown to me trail area.


Nothing like finding some new unexpected singletrack of any kind to add to the trail knowledge.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kemptville Revisited 2016

A year ago was in Kemptville and did a 2 hour Monstercros ride around on the less busy roads. not having much knowledge of the area didn't know there was singletrack which i found out at the ride end.

Kemptville Exploration

Unfortunately had no time in 2015 as well as the wrong bike to wander through the trails. And I filed away this new info for the next visit to Kemptville which fortunately happened this year. And for this I used the Mistress V2.

Ferguson Forest Centre

It had been over a year since I had been in Kemptville and couldn't recall exactly where the entrance was. So followed the gravel road through the forest centre.  Unfortunately the road I followed out to near the Rideau River called Honour Way dead ended at someones drive way.

So had to back track to a section of what turned out to be a snowmobile trail and took me into a different section of the woods. Which finally lead to some singletrack which I knew was there having spotted it at the side of County Road 44 last year.

So after the short snowmobile bit it was into the woods for singletrack minimal maintenance trail.  fun. No it will never be like Albion or MTB Kingston trails as simply there aren't enough riders.So if you are one who wants trails that are golf course level manicured this is not the place for you.

And while it isn't hours of riding. It is a nice spot to go for a spin and take a break from dealing with the 416 highway.  Looking at this map,

Marlborough Forest

Shows that one could do a Gravel Grind ride starting from Kemptville itself going up County Road 44 till it crosses the Rideau. Potential future ride maybe.

Camp Fortune 2016

It was two years ago since I last had the chance to ride Camp Fortune. This yeargot to do so again but unfortunately only had a limited time one evening to ride it. With limited time was only able to get a couple of pics as was trying to get in as much riding as possible.

I think not

 Unfortunately my goal of getting to the top for a setting sun peak shot didn't happen as made a mistake at the CBC tower and followed trail #22 and turned back later than I should have.

Having ridden recently in BC it was interesting to note the difference that a skills refreshed on Upper Oilcan and Espresso makes. Though it was noticeable how with less time to go back during the week like my first time effects one's comfort level.

By Dusk's Fading Light

Racing down the last light added a wee bit more excitement than planned by deciding to try and T Bone a Deer. Despite the short ride time was still fun to hit it again. And adds to the desire to have a bike like the stolen Stylus for rides like this with a bit more gravity.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bruce Pit Exploration

Few years ago rode some trails north of Hunt Club Road along the west side of highway 416. And has been a few years since had the oppurtunity to ride here again.

The section I rode previously is called the Stony Swamp Conservation Area trails which back then I had no idea there name or what maps where available.

Stony Swamp Conservation Area Trails

When I rode those trails noticed an area across highway 416. But never had a further look as I ran out of time. Revisited it today.

Bruce Pit Trails

It is not Route 66 or BC XC level of technical. But when ridden at speed you can miss stuff like the turns or in some spots play smash your hands off trees. But let's face reality one could complain but it is still better than pea gravel poodle path. Another nice thing I noticed that there was a alot of sand here so it will drain well.

One thing of note at Bruce Pit is the huge fenced off dog walking area. Very very nice to fence them off from the rest of us.

Did find a map of the system and discovered that this is part of the Ottawa Western Greenbelt section. And one can have a longer ride when you add in Stony Swamp and not shown on the map Lime Kiln trails.

In general a good quick rip.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rouge to Seaton To Rouge

July 7th was a hot and humid day...perfect day to torture one self by riding for 4-5 hours in it. The last time I did at least the out and back part was 10 and a half months ago.

Rouge to Seaton

The first requirement of this ride was the climb of Ben Trash, the highest point on Scarborough. I say requirement as for me at least every ride in the Rouge has a mandatory without exception go to the top of Ben Trash. Plus most rides it\s a nice beer with a view spot. But not today as lots of work to do.

I Go Thatta Away

After descending Ben Trash it was off to eating salad taking the CP connector to the Seaton. Which of course can't be complete without a side of European Fire Ants...Bloody bastards.


After crossing the rail bridge headed north aiming for Taunton  Rd .

This Is Why

While I had at the start considered trying to go further north of Taunton the heat and humidity factors. Well, it would have taken more pr planning than i had been able to do. As not having access to a refuelling point could have some serious repercussions if things went south. Running out of water could not be a good thing.

So with that in mind looped round and started heading back south from Taunton. Which required a wee bit of relocating and exploring.

Where's The Beer?

Rock crossing

After a rock crossing of Seaton it was along the creek side via some narrow single track. Which in one spot if one isn't paying attention would be a dip in the creek.

More Beaver

After another stop at the view point to take stock of my water supplies and eat some patatoes as was feeling a little run down. Then resumed heading towards the CP rail bridge to cross over again.

From the bridge looking south could see the other lookout further down that had more shade . And since I had a beer in my pack this was where it would be drunk.


At this point enjoyed the beer and the last of my food as it was 3.5 hours in on a hot day. And after some quick mental calculations figured had just enough water to get back. So headed backtowards Scarborough. It was from this point the same route back to the Rouge. Once back at the Rouge there was the mandatory second climb up Ben Trash.

Better than  a view from a desk

After descending Ben Trash again it was down to Sheppard via Meadowvale. And just as I turned onto Sheppard drank the last bit of water. SO nearing my Mother in Laws grabbed a Slurppee which was enjoyed while dripping on her front porch.


After 4 hours of riding had gone through a large Camelbak bottle, 2L hydration bladder, and 2 Back bottles. So the decision at Taunton to not try to go further north was the correct one. And while I want to go further it will take proper planning for this in 2017. It was a good ride which gave me more thoughts of what to plan for in 2017.