Archive for the Cycling Bloggers Category

Where have you been?

Posted in Cycling Bloggers on December 10, 2011 by bikealberta

To start: an apology…well sort of.

Bike Alberta has been a one man show ever since it was created, and 2011 was a very busy year for me and unfortunately, Bike Alberta was neglected like the ugly duckling.  But I think this is a great blog that deserves to keep going, so I’m going to try my best to recruit some help to keep Bike Alberta alive and well.

Anyone interested in coming along for the ride?

-Mike Sarnecki


Mike & Mike Do TransRockies 2010

Posted in Cycling Bloggers, MTB, Racing on August 7, 2010 by bikealberta

BikeAlberta’s own Mike Sarnecki (yup that’s me) has teamed up with Mike Blennerhassett of Hardcore Racing to compete at Team Pedal at the 2010 TransRockies.  (Okay, no more referring to myself in the third person – I’m not Jimmy!)

So Mike & I are officially covering the TR by racing and writing as Team Pedal.  The official Pedal coverage website is [here]. We will be reporting on each day’s stage and you need to follow along for all of our in depth, behind the scenes, investigative reporting.

For the unofficial report, well to read more about how Mike & I are doing specifically, well, you can check it out here on BikeAlberta.

Here’s our bios:

TR 10 – Team Pedal

Mike Blennerhassett
Home: Edmonton, AB
Occupation: High School Woodworking Teacher
Specialties: Climbing, looking good, being fast, smelling niceThis is Mike’s first TransRockies and boy is he pumped. With a successful XC racing season almost drawing to a close the TransRockies is the perfect finish. As part of Team Pedal with Mike Sarnecki, Mike B looks to have a consistent race a finish strong. The duo will be racing on the laser like Titus Xs and will be looking to make some heads turn especially when the going gets tough. Blennerhassett has been racing for about six years and has competed in national and provincial events for road, cyclocross with his focus being the mountain bike. Mike is also the club president of Hardcore Cycling and he organizes races locally in Edmonton.

When Blennerhassett is not out riding the awesome Edmonton single track he can be found honing his woodworking skills, cooking on the BBQ (year round) or deciding which bike to get next.

Mike Sarnecki
AKA: Sarns
Home: Champion City, Alberta
Occupation: Insurance by day, crime fighter by night
Specialties: Shredding singletrack, busting kneecap, finding an app for that.This is the first entry into MTB epic stage racing for Sarnecki after racing competitively for the last 10 years focusing on provincial MTB and cyclocross events. Coming off a serious injury in early 2009 where Mike shattered his kneecap playing hockey, he is now back to 100% and is ready for the challenge ahead.

Not only does Sarnecki work full time and train for racing, but he is heavily involved in the Alberta and Canadian cycling scenes. Mike is a major part of the club which organizes the Edmonton Canada Cup and as a board member of the Canadian Cycling Association, Sarnecki has spearheaded the Race Clean Own Your Victory anti-doping campaign, while at the same time, assisted in managing the insurance needs of the CCA.

The TransRockies is returning to its origins in 2010 with a brand new route from Fernie to Canmore via the most spectacular scenery and single track in the west. “With the TransRockies returning to Alberta I figured I had no excuse not to race this year as I’m super excited to tear it up on these sweet trails in my home province of Alberta. That, and I hear the riding in Fernie isn’t too shabby either”.

When not on the bike or doing something related to cycling, Mike spends his time hanging out with his wife Liesje and two little white dogs Berkley and Bella.

Day zero and we’re bunker’d down in the Raging Elk Hostel w/ buddies Josh & Todd (Team 1ohr Battery) getting ready for the big bang of tomorrow’s Time Trial stage.  Due to the nature of the sweet singletrack, teams and TR3 soloists will go off in one minute intervals in order to avoid any bottlenecking.  Should be good.  Solid 500m climb greats us only a few clicks into the stage.
Thanks to my excellent co-worker Scotty Mac for shuttling us down to Fernie for our start.  Hopefully he made it back to Edmont0n in one piece.  It’s a lot of driving and we all (Mike, Josh, Todd & I) appreciate his help.
Now the stress of packing the single duffel bag is gone now that the great boys at United Cycle are helping me out with my packing problem and are willing to transport around an extra bag or two for me.
Weather is good.  Course is good.  We are good to go.
Later Skaters,
P.S. Brad Chisholm needs to buy dog food for his dog so someone please by his XTR’d Norco.

Bikeridr’s 2010 Edmonton Canada Cup

Posted in Cycling Bloggers, MTB, Racing on July 13, 2010 by bikealberta

Provided by Ken Hurd

Canada Cup race weekend began rather ominously… Driving up to Edmonton we ran through one of the worst rainstorms I’ve ever had the displeasure of traveling through. The effects of the storm on my mood were amplified even more by my apprehension of what all this rain was doing to the course!!

Sadly, my fears were realized Saturday morning when I met up with Sheldon and Gord, to pre-ride the course. I would say optimistically that 1/3 of the course was ‘walkable,’ another 1/3 was super greasy and sketchy, and the last 1/3 of the course was ‘manageable.’

Needless to say we weren’t exactly feeling ‘race ready’ after our pre-ride. Amongst the riders we ran into speculation was flying as to whether or not the course would dry up, or whether it would be a mud-ridden suffer fest.

Come race day, however, I would say the conditions were damn near perfect, with upwards of 85% of the course being nice and tacky, and the rest either requiring a very careful line selection, or a quick muddy run. To be honest, I couldn’t believe the course dried up as well as it did.

Despite what great shape the course was in, I was in for a slightly ominous start to my race as well… Not used to the clockwork-like organization of Mike and Evan, when I finally decided to grace the start line with my presence (15min prior to the start) I found that everybody had already assembled and that names had already been called… Gulp!

I found myself on the ass-end of by far the biggest racing category of the day (59 riders) and could hardly see Smart and the rest of the boys up there in the front row!

…read more [here]

Edmonton Canada Cup Husky Featured Riders: Gabor Csonka & Bogi Gyorfi

Posted in Cycling Bloggers, MTB, Racing on July 8, 2010 by bikealberta

Our Husky Feature racers of the month for July are the husband/wife duo of Team Bow Cycle Gabor Csonka and Team Spin Sisters Boglarka (Bogi) Gyorfi. Outside of Gabor’s iconic hot-pink, rigid single speed, the couple is probably best known (and admired) for pulling the whole family together for most of their races. From serious racing roots in Hungary and the Midwest to training, racing, working full time and managing two energetic young kids – we get a brief glimpse into the controlled chaos of their lives!

Gabor Csonka

You’ve been racing for a number of years (including at a professional level in Hungary) – When did you first start racing, and how did you get started?

I started in 1992. I picked up a 12 month loan to pay for my first MTB, (an orange Scott Peak with Shimano 200GS!). The guys in the shop convinced me to try this weird muddy bike race on the weekend. They even give me some VHS tapes with Overend and Tomac and others racing the world cup. So I did try the race, crashed hard many times and finished 2nd behind the series leader back then. Later I joined the local MTB club and started to race the national series.

I notice that you’ve raced road, triathlons, duathlons, mountain bike races and running races. I would imagine that mountain biking is your focus?

MTB is definitely my love. All other races I did for training, or just to try it out. The MTB training/racing is way more fun (for me) than running, or even road riding. Icing on the cake is the people; I find the MTB racer community a lot friendlier and laid back than competitors in other endurance sporting events. The best place to find good friends.

You have a family, you have a job, you have two kids… What’s the secret? How do you find time to balance these with training and racing?

Oh man… I think I am still looking for the balance there… Last year was the first year when I raced while having two kids. It was kind of fun as I was getting faster each race, without much training. This year I tried to follow my old training plan, but in about 3 weeks into it I realized I cannot devote that much regularity to training. My training is rather ad-hoc, whenever I have and hour I go out and try to hammer. It got me where I am, but it will be hard to get significantly faster. Next year my kids will be bigger and if work permits I will be able to train more. I also commute 50k / day since October. I think it helps a lot to get some basic miles in.

I’ve seen you at marathon/enduro events as well as shorter sprint races; what is your preference? Why?

My preference used to be the shorter XC races. Recently I have done some marathons, and I am learning that my body is reacting better in the longer/slower races. It is probably the result of daily commute (slow) and lack of quality high intensity work in my training. The goal for the next few years is to get faster in the XC races.

You’re probably most recognized for not only your iconic pink bike, but also for the fact that it’s both a single speed and a rigid set up. I’m sure many of our readers (and those watching you race) will simply ask… Why?

Who’s got time to clean those cassettes, derailleurs and suspensions?

For the long answer I give you my history of single speeding:

Single speeders are nuts – this is what I thought 7 years ago. Later I raced against our single speed world champion Jesse Lalonde, who almost always beaten us (midwest elites) on his rigid, SS. Then I built up a rigid SS for winter riding ONLY(because single speed racers are still nuts). Then I started enjoying it. Then I figured it makes me train harder on the hills, so I used it for training in the summer as well. Then I started comparing my speed on SS vs my speed on my geared hard tail. I was not much slower on my SS and had way more fun. Then I was converted. Fun takes priority over results – with some exceptions.

How has this season been going so far?

Pretty good. I am faster than then last year and slower then next year I hope.

I notice that you’re in the process of overcoming a slight knee injury – Any advice you can give other racers in staying healthy and injury free on the bike?

NEVER ignore it. My problem is minor, but it started about 10 years ago. I ignored it and my body did the best to adjust to the problem so I kept riding and running with fairly small pain. As a result my bio mechanics are quite screwed now. One of my legs are way weaker than the other and some muscles are way too tight or weak. Good news I can fix it, the bad news I should have done it 10 years ago. I would be faster and healthier. The other advice is to find the right doctor. Someone who works with athletes. They will understand your goals, where general practitioners or most chiropractors will not. I used to see a chiro – not much help, they kept telling me to rest and ice. Now I am visiting the Chiropractic Performance & Sports Therapy Centre in Calgary and it makes a lot of difference. These guys work with Olympians, they understand training and racing and they will want to make you stronger – not just cure your pain. And at last: just don’t get injured.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bogi Gyorfi

A competitive downhill skier, kayaker, orienteering runner, mountain biker, triathlete and mother! Is there anything you don’t do?

Yeah, i do not work 🙂

I am so fortunate to stay home with my kids. I think this is the only way we can keep up this active lifestyle. If I stayed at my profession, I was a gymnastics coach, we could not arrange riding , racing times for sure.

I know that a family can have a profound impact on a persons athletic endeavours (especially a woman’s), what advice would you give to other women wanting to keep their interest in sports, but also interested in starting a family?

After many years of training and racing there is time to try different things, like raising kids… Which is the most challenging thing i have tried so far. After I have reached some of my athletic goals and was not going to go to Olympics… 🙂 I was ready to have family.

It was a totally different life for the first year, a nice change from the athletic scene. It is interesting how our perspective has changed after having kid… Life just got real and full. We both became whole persons as parents.

After the baby years off course the desire to get back in racing is natural for both of us. I think everyone who loves competitive sports understand the craving for that adrenalin rush. Life is different now but during a race I feel the same…. Of course before and after is a gang show with kids.

I think everyone can do it just matter of willingness. It is hard to drag out the whole family… Packing snacks, diapers, bike tools…. Oh I forgot to eat before the race, almost late for the start… Going hard… Race is over, kids eating my after race meal, let’s cheer for daddy, go for a nap…

But everyone loves it even the kids seem to enjoy it and hopefully grow up wanting to do something similar.

Outside of a few races last year this appears to be your first year back racing seriously, how are you finding the return to racing?

Seriously? There is no such a thing any more… Still no training just riding… No training plan, just trying to do whatever fits in the week… No race preparation, just barely making it to the start line.

Even it is not serious I found myself getting back to my racing shape and enjoying my racing a lot. I think I would not even like to train more or race harder, I am just happy to have fun and be around other bikers.

I just wish some more families would come to the races.

How does the racing and racers in Canada compare to the Midwest, or Hungary?

Back in Hungary I was just getting introduced to the sport following Gabor and only 2-3 other girls had MTB back than

In the Midwest we were part of the WORS (Wisconsin Off Road Series), which is the best organized 12 races in one season. With average 800 people it was super fun and verycompetitive. In a good way of course, our biggest rivals became our best friends after camping with them at the races every other weekend.

We were surprised that the MTB races are so small on numbers in Alberta. We think it is because there are so many fun trails and riding, hiking, scrambling, etc. that the people find more fun playing out there than racing. In the midwest there is nothing to do just racing… 🙂

You don’t share your husbands love for rigid pink bikes? I half expected you to be rocking a blue fixed hard-tail this year 😉

Unfortunately i am not strong enough to pedal in one gear… I have a SS bike and tried at the muddy Giver8er course since I did not wanted to wreck my nice bike.

Actually it was the first time I understand why Gabor does it. It is pure, and fun in a way. I was really proud that I could do it. I will do it again if it is muddy!

I’ve noticed both your children on bikes at many of the races, is it a forgone conclusion that they will one day join the race scene?

That be great to be able to bike with them when they get older. If i had a bike dream that would be that we could do TransRockies as a family. But off course it will be their choice. I just like them to do something what they enjoy and will keep them out of trouble…

Husky Featured Rider: Bridget Linder

Posted in Cycling Bloggers, MTB, Racing on July 1, 2010 by bikealberta

Leading up to the 2010 Edmonton Canada Cup, each month from April on, we’re going to be highlighting one feature racer, getting their thoughts on the upcoming 2010 Edmonton Canada Cup, plus any insights they have in general on riding and racing in Edmonton, Alberta and across Canada. No matter if you’re a seasoned vet, or new to the mtb scene, these Husky Feature Racer articles will worth checkin’ out!

Our Husky Feature racer of the month for June, is none other than team Hardcore Bikes, Bridget Linder. If you’re from Edmonton, you’ll likely recognize Bridget as she’s been sporting that iconic Hardcore green for number a years now in the women’s elite category. In this article she talks about her very first race, what’s so great about riding in Edmonton and balancing her racing goals with ‘real life’. Here we go:

Let’s start out with a little history on how you got into riding and racing. What’s the Bridget Linder Story?

I dabbled with mountain biking when I was in high school growing up in Kamloops. Unfortunately, sometimes I feel like my time in Kamloops was wasted. Maybe not wasted, but it was definitely spent doing other things like basketball and volleyball. I rode a bit, but my friends that rode were spread out across the city and I really didn’t get out much. Prior to Uni, I sold my bike, bought a cheap four-wheeled vehicle complete with a combustion engine and moved to Calgary. My passion for cycling remained but I didn’t own a bike or have any friends that rode. After a year or two without a bike I caved and bought a sweet used Rocky Vertex with a Mag 21R and Kooka cranks. I credit any of my technical descending skills to using this oversized (19”, I ride a 17”), under suspensioned bike as a shuttle bike during my summers home in Kamloops. Unfortunately, this didn’t help my climbing!

Fast forward to the day I met my husband… I think Dave fell in love with my Kooka cranks before he fell in love with me. Dave loved cycling and had been mountain bike racing for a few years before we met. Dave was my “in” to mountain bike racing, which was something I’d only dreamed about before meeting him. With a new riding partner/racer (and much more) I had finally found my way into the sport.

Do you remember your first race?

My first race was the 2002 CAUSE Canada Race for Human Rights. This seemed like an ironic first race. It was snowing, muddy, freezing and the most painful racing experience of my life. My V brakes lasted one lap and I broke my rear shifter while trying to shift with my fist because my fingers had literally frozen solid. I would say I’ve never been happier to finish a race, but it was my first, so all I can say is that I was ecstatic to finish, and only mildly hypothermic.

I knew that everything would be easier compared to this first race experience. I continued to recreational racing over the next couple of years until I found myself unexpectedly upgraded to Elite and completely out of my league. I retired. Saying “I retired” makes it sound like I gave up, what I did was recognize that I needed to ride more to compete at that level.

Dave and I moved to Edmonton almost three years ago. We hooked up with Hardcore our first summer here. I went out to volunteer for the Hardcore Devon Dust Up and ended up racing on Karen Martins hardtail. After my two years off I was hooked again and decided it was time to put in a solid training effort. Living in Edmonton and riding with Hardcore enabled me to bring my cycling to a new level. Before, I had no idea that it was possible to live in a city AND have wicked singletrack minutes from your doorstep. I used to be a weekend warrior and now I’m out at least four times a week, work and weather permitting. I credit Edmonton, its amazing cycling community and the passionate cyclists at Hardcore with any improvements I’ve made over the last couple years.

Sounds like you ride and train quite a bit, so how does it fit into your life? How do you manage your racing goals?

I love riding. I would love to quite my job and train and race. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, reality bites sometimes. Currently (as if that will someday change), I train around my full time job as an environmental planner. This is a really busy year for me and I don’t have the time to get as many training hours as I did last year. Then again, last year I was training for triathlon, which required a lot more time. I had a plan for this year that seems to be crumbling but I’m trying not to stress about it because that will just bring me down. You have to be flexible and adjust your goals as the season and life progresses. I was hoping for top 10 at Edmonton Canada Cup and top 15 at Nationals but it all depends on who shows up. In my dream world I wouldn’t be more than 10 minutes back of the leaders in Canmore but right now, with my slack training, it seems like a far off dream. The Edmonton Canada Cup course was so great last year that I think it will attract more competition so top 10 may be a stretch.

I have to ask here, what’s it like racing against Pepper, and that cyclo-cross bike of hers?

Haha. You’ll have to ask Pepper about her CX love affair. For me, I love my CX bike and I love CX racing. I really love it. However, when it comes time to mountain bike race I like to use the right tool for the job.

You mentioned the Canada Cup course, so what was your experience at last year’s Edmonton Canada Cup?

Last year it was HOT, I mean it must have been over 30C! I was there way too early cheering and felt drained before the race even started. It was the first time I had ever trained and peaked for a race so I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the end I was satisfied with how the race played out but it left me pumped to go at it again in Canmore. It was a surprisingly small field last year, but as I said before, I think that’s going to change this year.

My absolute favourite part of the race was passing men on the 2pm drop. Oh sure, they passed me again soon afterwards, but passing men at all, let alone a technical section, doesn’t happen very often for us women, so I basked in the ‘glory,’ albeit briefly. I have to admit, I’ve only looked at the 2pm drop this year, I’m not sure I feel as confident as I did last year (i.e., it makes me nervous).

My least favourite part of the race was when a back-of-the-packer from the men’s race thought that his race was more important than mine and ran me off the trail in a narrow section. One of the realities of women’s racing is that it is always second string to men’s.

I think it is fantastic that any city can hold a mountain bike race in its core. It is even more fantastic that it is the city in which I live. It’s unbelievable and I think that it is easy for alocal to take it for granted. I admit that I was skeptical about river valley riding before I moved here from Calgary. This skepticism is prevalent among non-Edmontonians and I think that’s why there was a lower turnout for the Edmonton CC than the Canmore CC. Canmore is associated with the outdoors and mountain biking and Edmonton is a city with river valley paths, at least that’s what people think. After last year’s race people’s perceptions will have changed. I’m optimistic, I think this is going to be a bigger turnout and hopefully will bring in more local spectators to come see what this sport is all about. Having an easily accessible race enables all types of people – including youth and families – to spectate and potentially recruit new racers for the future.

Keeping on the topic of women’s racing then, what’s your opinion on the local Women’s MTB scene?

We’re pretty thin on women’s mtb racers. The trick is hooking them young. It’s great to get into it later in life, but I think to really develop the sport and competition it helps to at least be exposed to it at a younger age, for instance, in high school. The Catch-22 is that to attract youth we need more women mountain biker role models.

The other problem is that mountain bike racing is expensive. I’m not even talking about the bike and equipment – I’m talking about licensing, race registration, and travel. I think local grassroots events like Hardcore’s Fat Tire Tuesdays are fantastic for the sport, for women and men. It’s a low-key, inexpensive ($5) way to try out racing. The only problem is that you still need ABA insurance so people, even the newbies, need to plan ahead and join a club.

Edmonton’s Matt Decore is Featured in Today’s Edmonton Journal

Posted in Bicycle Commuting, Cycling Bloggers on June 4, 2010 by bikealberta

The Day of the Bike is at hand — on Sunday, June 27 Super cyclist Matty Decore mapping out 180-km race in Big E

Check out the article by Journal writer Nic Lees [here]


Cody Cannings Excellent MTB Adventures (Part 2)

Posted in Cycling Bloggers, MTB, Racing on May 18, 2010 by bikealberta

Euro P2 (don’t mind the bum shot)

O Hey there Gang!

Welcome to the second half of the European update I promised. Now that i’ve sold out and gone mainstream on Bike Alberta I expect my reader count to skyrocket from 3 hits per day to somewhere around 7 (mom, just hit refresh or something to make me feel better). I dedicate the following few paragraphs to Belgian Beer and Waffles so chip chip cheroo, this ones for you.

Arrival at our Belgian Farm House, about a 30 minute ride from Houffilize nestled in the rolling Ardennes hills brought an amount of relief. Finally a chance to live the good life with plenty of time for sleep and riding. The focus of the week was mostly spent following Doc Watson’s All Gluten Diet which guarantees increased awesomeness on race day. An unsettling part of the Farm House was the fact you could hear a bunch of rodents running around above your head all night in the attic. River based ice baths, baked goods and Mystery PI were the highlight happenings.

Houfilize Game Day:

As I cross the start/finish line after the 4km start loop and having burnt 15 out of my 20 available power matches I end up being 6.5 minutes off the leaders pace. Welcome to the highest level of off road bike racing I guess… If I were asked to put a start lap of a World Cup into a worded description it would resemble the following:

Ride for you life from a cheetah for 5 minutes. STOP!! Rock a crying baby to sleep while pounding Red Bulls for the next 30 seconds. Ride as fast as you can from a rabid Polar Bear for another 2 minutes and then compete in a jackass style slip in slide contest. Now its time to run from a fire breathing dragon for 2 more minutes up a slippery slope while jumping hurdles (bodies and bikes). Then you get tossed into the octagon for a short UFC match with some euro dude who just T-Boned you into a fence. Add in some more hardcore sprints for corners and some time spent waiting to get into a piece of singletrack while listening to elevator music. Wallah you’ve just experienced the first 15 minutes of a European World Cup.

Once the traffic cleared and when I had open track to work with I actually felt pretty decent and was happy with the power I was able to climb with. The race was a true mudder which am always up for…good times. I managed to ride with Liam Killeen for the whole 3rd lap which was a good learning experience in passing and a departure from my less than aggressive Canadian style. Ended up doing 5 of 6 laps and was about 1.5 minutes off being able to finish the race which was my ultimate goal. Its good to do these races to find your weaknesses and learn what level you have to reach to compete with the best in the world.

On the way home I managed to dodge a $160 euro bike charge and saw Alexander Vinokourov at the airport. I would rate the European World Cup Extravaganza as 11 Magical Elephant Eggs out of 11.5. Big thanks to Dan Proulx and Scott Kelly who put in a TON of work making this trip happen. Thanks to Kyle Douglas for fixing my brakes on 3 separate occasions and Shimano for the new brake caliper. Also I would like to thank everyone else on the trip for putting up with me for 2 whole weeks…