Monday Morning Coffee
By Billy Rainford
What is going on around here?!?! Seriously, we just had the hottest weekend we’ve had all summer here in southwestern Ontario. It was 34 Saturday and with the humidex they said it felt like 41 degrees Celsius. If you got out to the races over the past couple days, I hope you lived to tell about it!
We’ll start off this edition of Monday Morning Coffee with a little story because this is the place where I get to do it. Plus, I’m willing to bet most people reading this are either avid cyclists for cross-training or you’re about to be.
I remember when I was actually competing on road bikes (tri geek stuff, mostly) I had friends who were always asking me to go on gravel rides. It never appealed to me back then. All I could imagine was riding on loose gravel with skinny tires and just struggling to stay upright. Well, I was way off. Gravel or ‘cross’ bikes are special built to handle dirt roads. Plus, most are fairly well packed down so you aren’t actually struggling to ride on them. The benefit of these roads is their lack of vehicle traffic. That makes it very attractive.
So, only recently did it happen that I had a bike frame that was appropriate for the transition to ‘gravel grinder.’ You need some extra space for the wider off-road tires to clear your frame, so most road frames won’t work.
I also have a buddy who has been in the cycle biz for decades and so he has “an awesome set of tools” ~ Jeff Spicoli. Not only that, he has the knowledge to know what components will work with what, and that comes in handy when you’re putting together what he likes to call a “Frankenstein bike.”
So, he took my commuter bike and did all the switches necessary to get this thing out on the back roads and trails for some fun without the danger of cars, transports, and dump-trucks pushing you to your limits at the edge of the busier asphalt roads. Sounds great!
My buddy, Pete, is unable to ride right now, so he also lent Emily his Kona ‘Jake the Snake’ cross bike to use while he’s out of commission. Perfect, two people, two bikes for the gravel.
After taking my ‘new’ bike for a test ride around Springbank Park here in London, I made a bunch of fine tuning adjustments and got the bike to where it was very comfortable. OK, time to head out for our first real gravel ride.
London sits between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Huron is about 60k and Erie is about 40. I took a look on a map to find which one would be easiest to connect on dirt roads. Also, it was 33 degrees C out so I figured the closer the better.
After plotting a route to just southwest of Port Stanley on Lake Erie, Emily and I loaded the bikes into the DMX Van and picked a little park on the outskirts of the city to start our ride – Sharon Creek Park.
The first part of the ride was on one of our usual road routes on the rolling hills near Delaware; we knew these well, and it was just a short ride before we turned right and onto the ‘path less traveled.’ I’ve always considered myself a path less traveled kind of guy, so this felt right.
This was great, not a car for as far as we could see which meant it was perfectly safe to ride beside each other and shat as we rolled along toward the beach at Lake Erie. Sounds great, right?
We came to a T junction and saw a sign that read, “Welcome to Oneida.” Cool, we were on some native land and we were headed to the beach. On we pedaled.
Most houses in the country are set back a ways from the highways and bi-ways, but the houses on this reserve land were actually very close to the dirt road with much shorter driveways. As we road along, something popped into my mind that I really didn’t want to mention to Emily – “I wonder if they keep their dogs inside or at least on a leash around here?”
I didn’t want to alarm Emily, so I just kept my thoughts to myself and slowly inched our pace up a notch.
As we rolled along, I saw the first do off to our right. It was a large German Shepherd cross and it was patrolling its yard, but didn’t even look at us or make a sound. Better still, Em didn’t notice it.
The road turned very rough and it felt like we were riding where riding where a bulldozer had recently worn a rippled track in the dirt. It wasn’t fun riding…at all. It also meant our pace eased a tad.
Fortunately, most dogs make a lot of noise when they run at you. They’ aren’t like cats who are much more sneaky in their stalking. We heard a rather angry-sounding and deep growl/bark start up from our right. I looked over to see another Shepherd mix coming at us with some speed, obviously upset that we were on its turf.
Emily was on the ditch side and instantly picked up her pace as this 110-pound black dog came at us. We outran this one, but if you know how these things work, he basically sounded the alarm for every dog down the line. I knew this, but kept it to myself and just told Em to keep moving at a fast pace.
As we passed the next driveway, another muscular dog, this time with a cone on its head, cam tearing across its lawn and just missed our back wheels and chased us for about 20 seconds. I’ve been through this a lot over my long cycling life but this was new for Emily…and she didn’t like it, to say the very least.
All I could do is tell her to keep riding and promise her we’d turn left at our first possible opportunity. Unfortunately, that opportunity could be seen quite a ways in the distance, as we could see vehicle going from left and right at the horizon.
Now, I’m a dog person. I love dogs. We have 2. But what I don’t like are angry dogs that have free run to attack people as they try to enjoy a bit of exercise in the country. The third dog that came at us was the one you last want to see.
Yep, a 100-pound-plus black and white Pit Bull came at us at full clip, again from the right side. I stood up and started cranking the pedals and was easily going to outrun this beast…Uh oh, why isn’t Emily standing and cranking???
Emily is pretty new to road cycling and so isn’t quite as comfortable moving around on the bike. She accelerated but not nearly as quickly as I would have liked. The massive dog was literally 10-feet off her rear wheel and legs. Was I actually going to have to turn around and fight a pit bull? Pedal Emily, pedal!!!
She upped her speed and the dog stayed the same distance off her rear wheel. She was going to make, or more to the point, I wasn’t going to have to slow down and fight this damn thing!
I was impressed with how long this muscular dog could run at this pace. I knew we were no longer in danger of it catching us, but the spike in Em’s heart rate was probably not going to help with the rest of this ride.
We made it to the paved crossroad we’d seen in the distance without seeing another dog, but that was it for our gravel ride for that day. We didn’t care if it meant riding alongside the 401, we weren’t going to have any more dog issues.
We gathered our composure at the side of the road, nervously laughed a little, and then headed down the pavement on our new gravel bikes. Gravel grind #1 had not been a success.
After we were safely back at the van, I told Emily of a bunch of rides in my past where the dogs would chase you down the road, barking loudly. After you’d outrun those ones, you just knew they’d sounded the alarm for the other dogs ahead and they would be waiting for you, sometimes in the middle of the road. What do you do? You can’t turn around and you can’t go forward. You had to assess the breed of the dogs and make your best choice. It ruined a lot or otherwise perfect cycling routes.
So, we’ve decided we’ll try the dirt roads north of London on our next ride.
Gravel roads: 1 – Us: zero.
Shelby Turner Wins Endurocross Round 2 in Reno
Congratulations to Canadian Shelby Turner for winning round 2 of the Endurocross series in Reno, Nevada. She got into the lead early and didn’t look back. Well, as she had to wait for a clear path through lappers, she definitely looked back to see how much of a lead she had, but that was about it. The defending champ dominated the main event.
Check out some of the Canadian finishes:
|Women – Overall Finish Positions|
|Amateur Open – Overall Finish Positions|
|Super EnduroCross – Overall Finish Positions|
|Super Endurocross B Main – Overall Finish Positions|
- Las Vegas – August 19th
- Reno – September 23rd
- Denver – September 30th
- Everett – October 14th
- Phoenix – October 28th
- Boise – November 4th
- Ontario – Nov 18th
Team Canada MXON
So, it’s almost that time again. Team Canada MXON has arrived in England in style! Check out how they made it from Gatwick Airport south of London to their rather nice digs on the Isle of Portland in the south.
And now look at eh literal castle they get to call home for this week!
This place is called Pennsylvania Castle. Give that a click and check it out. Crazy!
And before you get your proverbial knickers in a knot, the price of doing it this way is actually a LOT cheaper than getting hotels for everyone for the week. Team Manager Kourtney Lloyd has done her homework and saved the team a pile of cash all the while allowing them to live like kings for a week in England.
Good luck next week, team, and save a couple spots at the fancy table for Emily and I! We leave for England on the red-eye Tuesday night and will be there to capture the whole adventure in photos and video. We will keep you updated daily, so be sure to check in often.
Follow us on Twitter @DirectMX, Instagram @DirectMotocross, and on Facebook @Direct Motocross.
Colton Facciotti’s MXON Fox Helmet
One thing is for sure…our guys are going to look amazing at Matterley Basin next week! Check out Colton Facciotti‘s Fox helmet for the MXON.
Photos supplied by Jason Moore at Fox.
Get Your Shawn Maffenbeier Replica FXR Gear and Support Team Canada
FXR Racing is proud to be supporting Team Canada’s Shawn Maffenbeier in his effort at the 2017 Motocross of Nations event being held in the U.K. next weekend. As a Canadian company FXR is honoured to design a custom kit for Shawn to compete in on the world stage.
As an added bonus we plan to offer a special limited edition Canada jersey to the public. We will custom build 10 more jerseys that will be available on our website shortly at fxrracing.com/moto.html. All proceeds will be donated to Team Canada.
Let’s go Canada!
Madi Watt Update
Madi Watt raced for Team Canada at the ISDE but crashed early in the competition. She has remained in France at a hospital ever since. Trevor Watt has been posting updates on his Instagram page @wattmoto439. Here is his latest from a couple days ago:
- wattmoto439#flashbackfriday to nationals road trips.this road trip taken much to long. What I’d give to turn back the clocks to June!!Last 48 hrs been the same old roller coaster of a bumpy ride from suppose to be ok to fly today back to Canada hospital, then 8 hrs later try find a bleed in a artery and had a surgury to fix it before it burst to back waiting and now fingers crossed clear to fly to Canadian hospital again Monday if all goes well. Just waiting on insurance to find flights/Alberta bed/and shit on there end sounds like that that can take a week maybe, cause our Canadian status, is not as important as other in Canada Canadians for a bed… thanks again Canadian healthcare system! Ffs
Even tho it means missing a very big day to us my boys birthday😢and the family missing #lucasbachmanmemorialride , which is dear to us and a lot of people! The 2 go hand in hand every year.
So fingers crossed @10madi498 doesn’t find another reason to stay longer🙄hahaha
Future West Arenacross Schedule
OK, have a great week. We’ve got a lot of stuff to get ready before we head over to Matterley Basin for the MXON. It’s going to be a great week!