What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Goes Racing: “Go Go Daddy!”

Sweeter words can not be spoken, especially by your 19 month old daughter, seeing you race for the first time. It’s funny how the sound of one tiny voice can make the pain and suffering of a 40 minute, 12 km climb disappear …however briefly.

This is a story about a moment in my evolution as a father, brought on by my participation in a ride/ race this weekend up one of our local mountains.

The event was billed as “The Cypress Challenge” a fundraiser for the upcoming Tour of Courage September 22-23 in Vancouver, the event made famous by Lance Armstrong’s enthusiastic support, and one which I was lucky enough to attend ’04 & ’05. (Read about my ride with Lance here.)

‘Please stay seated until the vehicle has come to a complete stop!’ I was hoping to sprint to the line, but my legs had other ideas.

With only a couple weeks notice and a flurry of emails in the days leading up, 80 riders showed up to offer support to a good cause – all the money raised from the $20 entry fee will be donated to the Tour of Courage.

Organized by local-men Dan Scholten, Allan Prazsky, and Dave MacDonald, the ‘ride’ was a climb up local Cypress Mountain, one of two 10km+ climbs we’re blessed with just minutes from downtown Vancouver.

The event email’s listed “The average grade of the climb is 5.6%, with a ride length of approximately 12.3km and close to 700m in elevation gain.” – but locals know the last 1500meters or so are basically flat, making the real climb around 6.4% average, with some pitches closer to 8%. It’s not the world’s most exciting climb, with only 4 switchbacks – but given the length, altitude, and proximity to my house (about 35 minutes pedalling to the base) – it’s pretty darn nice. Add in the fact that the base is located about 200m above sea level, and you can log some pretty good climbing here.

Just after the finish line – no faking here – I’d blown the wad to impress my loved ones.

Not being much of a racer these days, I was there for a few reasons:
1. Support a good cause.
2. Add some intensity to my Saturday ride.
3. Show off for my family- wife and daughter – neither of whom have seen me race on the road before.

And let’s face it – when you’re plunking along mid-pack, there’s nothing better than the cheers of your loved ones.

I’d started my daughter’s cycling program back in July, when she was old enough to ‘get’ the Tour de France – er, better make that old enough to ‘get’ TV. So instead of her usual early AM cartoons, I’d coerced her into watching le Tour with me each day, and began to teach her about bikes and cheering – you gotta make it fun, right?

Who says you all have to ride for cyling to be a great family activity?

Smart chip off the ol’ block that she is – she soon began to recognize bikes everwhere, and took great joy in pointing them out to me – even the two sitting in my workshop.

At 9:00 AM sharp the mass start rolled out and we were off. In winter the area is busy with skiers – both downhill and cross-country (the 2010 Winter Olympic moguls competitions will be held here), but the summer roads are relatively quiet – mostly hikers and cyclists. This played into my strategy perfectly as it allowed multiple cheering locations for Mrs. Pez and daughter Alessa to leap-frog me on the climb up.

I’d been saving up my baby-sized PEZ jersey since before Alessa was born, and today she finally got to fly daddy’s colors for the world to see. For me the best part came at the first lookout about 12 minutes into the climb – .

Just a few minutes in and the race had pretty much strung out as most of us were time-trialling to the top. As I crested the first pitch and the lookout came into view – there was my own personal PEZ-Crew waiting roadside to cheer me on – .

“Look Alessa, here comes daddy”, I heard my wife say excitedly.

I slowed down to savour the moment as I approached my partisan cheering section.

“Go Go Daddy! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” squealed my daughter.

Ah yes. That is the best. I could still hear her cheering as more riders came by behind me.

A few seconds later I was onto the next slope and back to 170+bpm, which continued for the next 30 minutes. I crossed the finish line 39:57 minutes after I started, logging a super-solid midpack finish in 32nd (the winner was 30:53). The PowerTap 2.4 Wireless I’ve been riding on the Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 carbon clinchers (yup – that’s a sponsor plug) reported my average power was 245 for the race – about 10 higher than my previous best recorded output on this climb, I ran a 5 minute average of 278w, and 10 minute section of 269w, and a 30 minute peak of 255 average watts.

What does that mean… well, not much compared to the squeals of delight I have burned into my brain as my daughter cheered me on… that was pretty cool. And as much of a change as becoming a responsible parent is, and as many of you will know, those few seconds of “Go Go Daddy!” will last me a lifetime.

• Get more info on the September Tour of Courage at the website.

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