November 17, 2013

Bike building with the 49ers

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to build bikes with the San Francisco 49ers down in sunny California. It was a very fun event, and a nice break from training. For the event, Optum partnered with both the 49ers, and Turning Wheels for Kids, an organization that build and provides bikes to under served children.

The first day, we actually built the bikes at the 49ers training facility in San Jose. Various alumni and current players dropped by through out the day to help out. It was pretty funny to compare the size of these guys to the cyclists in the crowd!

The next day was even more fun, when we got to surprise 49 kids with their new rides! The kids were all part of a group called EHC Lifebuilders that helps out families in the Silicon valley. There were some incredibly excited faces in the crowd when the surprise was announced.

We set up various stations set up for kids to get accustomed to their new bikes. They practiced hand signals and stopping, decorated their new helmets with stickers, practiced using their new bike lock, answered some cycling and football Q and A, and even played a bit of football!

It caught me off guard that some of the kids didn't actually know how to ride a bike. I had never taught anyone before, and found it rewarding to witness the transition from frustration to joy with more practice. I hope these bikes can offer the kids the same feelings of freedom and empowerment that I get from my own bike.

Bicycling magazine wrote an excellent story on the whole event that you should check out:
Hilarious to compare cyclists to football players Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe

Sourdough Sam was a BIG hit with all the kids Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
Built up this bike with 49ers alumni, Guy McIntyre  Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe 

Getting the helmets all sized up Photo Credit: Sam Wiebe
The whole Optum gang photo credit: Sam Wiebe
Another blog post is coming soon as I just finished up two awesome days at the Clif athlete summit in San Francisco!


November 4, 2013

Cyclocross Provincials at The Forks

Yesterday was one of the most exciting Manitoba cycling events of the year, Cyclocross Provincials at the Forks! Nearly 200 cyclists of all ages and categories showed up to race. There were 80 people in my race start alone! The Forks made for a perfect venue, and attracted many non cyclist spectators that just happened to be walking by. I'm sure the miles of winding tape and poles must have confused a few people until they saw the bikes.

The event was especially exciting because Winnipeg was most recently awarded Cyclocross nationals for both 2014 and 2015, so provincials was held as a test event. Here are some photos to give you a preview of next year's course and venue:

Not too many straight sections on this 3 km course..

A crowd favourite was "The Beach", a long sandy section that a talented few could ride clean. There were many spectacular crashes as many tried to avoid the leg draining jaunt through the section.

My favourite section wound through this central bowl, so fast and flowing! 

 Lots of twisty, tight turns through the start of each lap.. can't imagine how long it took to put up all that tape!

The new, nearly completed Human's Rights Museum made for a spectacular backdrop near the pit area.

Here is a short clip of the racing action:

And some news coverage with some race action photos (kind of awesome that cycling made it onto the front page):

Another advantage of the Forks is there is lots of yummy recovery food available on course in the market terminal. I recommend grabbing some chocolate milk and some cinnamon mini donuts, or a Tall Grass Prairie cinnamon bun to replenish those glycogen stores post race :).

Huge thanks to Dark Red Racing, Olympia, and all the volunteers that made this event a success, hope to see lots of people out at nationals next year!