The Infamous Tucson Saturday Morning Shoot-Out

I’ve been anticipating this all year, ever since I got to ride in it last year at Tucson Training Camp. It’s held a small dark corner of my thoughts, slowly building excitement as the trip down here to Tucson approached. Ever since I rode in the Shoot Out last year, and missed the front pack due to getting trapped in the gutter (along the edge of the road, boxed in by other riders,) I’ve needed a touch of redemption. Now that I’m here in Tucson, it was paramount that I got to engage in the excitement of bike racing, not only in a warm climate, surrounded by strong riders, but also aboard my triathlon bike.

Yup, the Quintana Roo TT bike, with aero extensions and everything.

Sounds somewhat out-of-place, or perhaps a bit offside, but I’ve discovered that as long as you’re able to hold a straight line, stay away from the aero bars, and don’t perform any nerdy triathlete shenanigans, you’re more than welcome to participate. It’s essentially a free impromptu race, every saturday morning ranging from a 7:30am-6:00am start, depending on what time of year (check out the little breakdown of the ride HERE and a map/elevation description HERE.) It’s exciting and fast paced, and today’s ride was no exception!

It started with about a 20 minute roll-out through town; I noticed a lot of chatty banter, with far too many serious faces. I think roadies need to smile more.

Rolling through town, lots of smiles from team Canada

As we neared Valencia, the road that is essentially the ‘Start Line,’ there was a lot of silence, and riders shedding layers as they prepared for the beginning of the Saturday morning excitement. I’m sure many riders prepare for this ride all week, with carbon race wheels and bikes worth almost as much as my house surrounding me, to be ready to try and take that final sprint, along with the Shoot Out glory and bragging rights. I’m pretty sure having that win on a resume is a pretty big deal, far more lucrative than winning the Velo Vets Iona sprint. Even though we were at a pedestrian pace rolling out, my legs were practically bouncing and I’m pretty sure my heart rate was in zone 4.5, anticipating crossing over that starting line. We hit Valencia, and all of a sudden a rider came by the outside lane and said “let’s get this party started!”


It was action pretty much from the gun, no real breaks forming until a few miles down the road, but a hard and fast pace was set immediately. There’s no fooling about at the shoot out; if you want to stay with the front group, you’re going to have to suffer for it. Luckily for me, I not only brought my best suffer face, but I also loaded up on my favourite pre-‘race’ octane beverage: beet juice. Essentially, I felt like I brought a gun to a knife-fight.

There was no looking backwards today, I was focused on one thing, and one thing only: make the front break, and hold on for dear life. It took a turn for the hurt at 13 miles to go, or ‘The Bridge,’ where the pace gets really cranked and I definitely felt the burn for a few pedal strokes. I managed to hang on, and even to move myself through the field nearer the front of the pack. As we neared the Sprint Hill ‘Finish,’ just after mile marker 5, the main group I was in made a big effort to pull back the breakaway, which I’m fairly sure the bacon-powered Triathlete Ben Hoffman was a part of. Myself, my buddy Jesse Vondracek, and a new friend I’ve made here, Maik Twelsiek (another professional triathlete with some big wins to his name,) were all in that main group, and it strung out pretty long near the end. I managed to get myself into a good spot and finished close to the front, somewhere in the top 15(ish), a respectable spot for a triathlon nerd like me.

Jesse V, rolling on his Litespeed, during a brief recovery zone.

The ride back included some exciting pace-line work, something you don’t get many chances to do when you’re a triathlete. It was a hard effort, really fast too, as we rode back towards town.

It was an exciting ride, the closest thing to actually racing, and I would highly encourage anyone with pack-riding ability to ride the Shoot Out if they come down to Tucson. An awesome thing to note, was seeing so many Canadian kits in the Peleton, even some local kits from the Vancouver area, including team Coastal Ride (based out of the city I work in, Delta.) There was a noticeable amount of pretty serious riders, including many members of the Smart Stop Cycling Team, plus a TON of sweet looking Champion System kits, which are hard to miss.

Immediately post shootout, with the front pack.

So far the camp has been excellent, my energy is higher than ever, and the body is back into high-mileage mode. The mileage as of 11 days of training:

Swimming: 30kms
Bike: 1050kms
Run: 92kms

Total Hrs: 55hrs

Time to go hit the hills with Jesse and the super-dog Addy for a few hrs of trail running. Then, my favourite, costco trip!

Happy training everyone!!


Tucson Training Camp Round Très


Sorry, I just had to. For all you poor folk stuck in the big city of Raincouver, I’ve completely succumbed to the urge to get overly excited about the nice weather here in Tucson. I feel like I’m on a different planet; just waking up to that inexplicably bright orb in the sky that generally seems so vacant during a Vancouver February works wonders for a person’s mental fettle! It seems to be able to cure any dark or depressed grey matter with it’s warm bright rays and Vitamin D enhancing effects. I urge anyone living in the GVRD to escape for a warm excursion during this time of year, even if only for a weekend! (Vegas anyone?!?)

Just pack your bike and ESCAPE the winter blues!!

Enough of that (not exactly uplifting Valentines Day chatter eh?) now that everyone’s cursing my overt enthusiasm and excitement for the weather, here’s a quick update on training camp activities:

I’ve made even more friends, including Tricia Shadell, a budding up-and-coming pro Enduro Mountain Biker. It was great to meet Tricia (a friend of Jesse V and Amy,) who was here to race a 24hr MTB race as a relay team member, but unfortunately managed to break her collarbone (not a little crack either, a rather legit FULL BREAK,) before the race, after she biffed it HARD chasing pro downhill mountain biker buddies on the trails. But to make her feel better, I made her my staple breakfast favourite of oatmeal pancakes (recipe coming soon to a blog near you,) and Canada’s finest pure maple syrup (for which there is no equal. Period.) I also tied my first ever ponytail, as she was rendered single-armed due to the break. Actually, I didn’t just adequately perform the tie, I freakin nailed it. And it was a double-bobble, which in my eye deserves some kind of trophy or plaque, or at least a sweet-ass medal.

Crispy-edged goodness…..
Pancakes to make a sad day happier, easy to eat with one hand!

I’ve come across roadkill wild hogs while riding that would most certainly have caused my untimely demise if I came across them alive (big, MEAN looking fellas, gnarly teeth all over the place!)

I’ve had a pleasant conversation with a Harley rider while stopped at an intersection (while ogling his ride, he claimed my bike looked damn light. I replied with, “Yeah, but it doesn’t sound as awesome as yours,” (after which, he gave a good solid revving, which I returned fire with an awesome sign of the horn, leading to even more eardrum-shattering revving and laughing.) After our shenanigans, I discovered his son raced BMX’s.

Amazing what you can learn at a stoplight.

It’s been glorious here so far, swimming with Jesse V and the Ford Aquatics Masters at the Hillenbrand Aquatic centre, a phenomenal place of high performance that really shows how serious they are about athletics at USA universities! All outdoor, all the time, and the short course yards makes you feel like an absolute stud!

Logging some hilly, twisty desert miles on the new QR

After 3 days of training, I’m already getting a tad tired, having logged 10km of swimming (including this AM’s swim, but not tonight’s swim,) 430km of riding, and 12km of running (number will most likely triple before today’s end.)

It’s only beginning, and I can’t wait to log some more miles on the new Quintana Roo CD0.1. Since I’ve been powering through so many of my Powerbars, I’ve started making some whole food training fare, based on some of the concepts and recipes of The Feed Zone: Portables, including leftovers from the above mentioned oatmeal pancakes (PB&J sammy’s anyone?) as well as some Salted Dark Chocolate Sticky Bites that are currently cooling, that I’ll post about sometime soon.

PB&J Pancakewich is uplifting during a LONG ride

Besides the beautiful weather training and being joyously reunited with Trader Joe’s, everything is doing slick here at camp. I hope everyone is enjoying their early season training, have a fantastic weekend and go have some fun!

With that, I leave you a short clip on how to be a mountain biker:


Stuck on the Road Side at Challenge Penticton

Having my favourite bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, pondering how many pairs of gloves I’ll need to wear to survive a few hours of riding in -4 weather (that feels like -8,) I came across a hilarious photo that reminded me of the crap luck I ran in to at Challenge Penticton last year. Some of you may know I had a ‘little’ mechanical trouble on course, with the end result being my first ever DNF. You can read my 2013 Challenge Penticton Race Report if you’d like to find out the details to that catastrophe. Ironically, finding this photo is perfect timing as I’ve just joined the Team at Quintana Roo and Litespeed, so my needs in this photo have been filled! Big thanks to my teammate Chris Young for the photo.

That’s me in the background, standing on the side of the road. Pretty much sums up my feelings at that moment!

Speaking of a new whip, it’s time to go saddle up and ride out! I think I’ll leave you with a little video to create a smile, and possibly brighten up a possibly dark, cold, snowy winter day. Happy training!



As I sit here, grazing away on my PB celery stick and bowl of trail mix, I eagerly await my ride tomorrow morning. Not because it’s going to be -6 out, although that IS quite appealing (not); my excitement is because I get my maiden voyage on my brand spankin new race whip! That’s right:

The incredible mechanics at Speed Theory Vancouver stayed up late last night to get it all built up, and they did a phenomenal job too! I’m blessed to have a great shop to work with, these guys help me out huge all the time, and seem to be able to fix everything (except a failing relationship due to spending too much time out training than with your partner. Apparently you’re on your own with that.)
Along with exciting New Bike Day, I’m ecstatic to announce my new bike sponsor for the next few seasons! I’ve decided to partner up with the awesome team at Quintana Roo and Litespeed; the weapon of choice for 2014 will be the Quintana Roo CD0.1, built up with Shimano Ultegra components, Rotor Cranks, Power2Max power meter, PRO Missile bars, a Cobb saddle, and the lightning-fast Gray 9.5 carbon tubulars. It’s a rig I’m excited to train and race on for 2014, and a partnership that I’m pumped to have moving forward in my career as a professional athlete. 
Some Simple Math:


Always remember: keep your mechanics happy!
They worked late to finish it, homeward bound!

A bike fit with Coach Björn Ossenbrink tomorrow will be JUST in the nick of time, as I fly out to Tucson on monday for a 3 week training camp with my good buddies Jesse and Amy, where I’m sure there will be many miles shared, and even more monster cookies abolished to depths of my bottomless appetite. 
Remember Jesse and Amy?

….How about these cookies?!?!?
said, the race rig from last year needs to find a new, loving home. You can find the ad HERE. It served me well, I hope to find it a great new home to get ridden fast!
My trusty roadie is also looking for a new home, a complete bike that will guarantee some fun on the flats and especially on the hills. That ad can be found HERE.
Even more exciting news: I’ve been informed that the awesome folks at Speed Theory Vancouver can order ANY of the Quintana Roo bikes in to their shop, so if you want to rip it on a QR too, they’re the ones to see!
The rest of my awesome support network will be announced very shortly, as I finalize everything and sign in blood on the dotted line (well, not really, but that sounds way more official than digital signatures.)
Happy training everyone, stay safe and work hard!