2013 in a Nutshell!

Well 2013 was another great year.

Feel the pain in the thighs.

I trained hard with “Da Boyz” and raced a lot. I rode over 10,000 km’s and I also won 2 races. One of those races was by a lot!

That's Me at the Top.  Woot Woot

That’s Me at the Top. Woot Woot

I really love cycling in Japan especially where I live in Numata. The mountain roads around here are clean and hardly used. Some early morning rides it feels like the road was made just for me. I’m looking forward to next year already. I will upgrade my bicycle group set Dura-Ace to the 9000 mechanical and probably buy a new training wheel-set.

Financially things were great, too. My best friend Ward did wonders with his day trading bringing me in over 17% profit over the year. I could “almost” quit my day job but not just yet. Also, Capital Clean Seed stock which I have some big money tied up in has finally started to climb and I’m excited to where it’ll go this year. If things go as predicted my move back to Canada won’t be as scary as I think. I will pray to the money gods on that one! It would really give me a lot of options on how to take care of my family which is the main reason I’ve been working so hard in the first place.

My little girl Victoria is now almost 2 years 6 months and she just gets cuter to me every day. She’s talking and developing her own personality and fortunately she loves playing together with daddy. She starts my days off by saying “Good morning daddy” and she never shy’s away from saying “I love you daddy”. What more could a father ask for? People tell me it will one day change and if they’re right, I best absorb every moment I can right now. Nothing makes me feel like I have a purpose more than my daughter.

Let's rock 2014!In August, I took 2 weeks and headed to Nashville Tennessee to record my latest album. I called up Aussie Greg Arnold again to produce it and we met up in a hotel near downtown Nashville to bash out the songs in pre-production before heading over to Alex the Great studio to have Brad Jones engineer and co-produce. The recording went well and it was an incredible experience. Brad would drive us to a different restaurant ever day around 3 to experience Southern food. The cool thing about the studio was that it was attached to a guest house which was included in the studio fee. I slept in the big studio room every night trying to finish off lyrics.  It was so cool looking around the room at the double bass, the grand piano, the drums all mic-ed up, and the foam carefully placed for sound just before closing my eyes and dreaming.  A kid in a candy store! The album is finally out and in boxes but I don’t plan on releasing it until January 2014. It’s titled, “Every Sunrise”.

Newest album, "Every Sunrise"

Newest album, “Every Sunrise”

Recording

I also hooked up with my brother in Nashville. He flew in for 2 nights to see me. It was really great to spend quality time with him. We had no family distractions and it was the icing on the cake to make it a memory I will not forget.

My Bro and I in Nashville 2013

I had a good year of gigging too. I am very fortunate to have my job at Lockheart castle. Without that second income things would be a lot different for us. But I also landed a few new gigs that could promise to become a regular event.

The worst thing of 2013 was word that my father has cancer in his liver and lungs. He’s on chemo now as I write this but I should point out that he got a phone call 3 days ago saying his last CT scan showed “a significant decrease of cancer in his liver” which has a lot of us family members excited. I will pray that the drugs continue to work and that my father kicks cancer in 2014.

Love my dad

Love my dad

So 2014 is just around the corner and if there are no hick-ups along the way I expect I will continue to do all the things I love, like look after my family, train hard on the road bike, race hard, gig every weekend, save money, write songs, sell the new album, and do my best to stay healthy and happy. Thank you 2013 and hello 2014!

JCRC – Gunma Bicycle Race. July 14th, 2013. Winner!

Sunday July 14th I entered a race with JCRC (Japan Cycling Racing Club)  My first time to this event and I was a little nervous. There were heaps of intimidating riders who had come from all over Japan. It was as expected a well organized event.

One lap is 6 km.

One lap is 6 km.

We followed the pace motorbike for the first 2 km until we reached the first hill and then the race was on. I wanted to stay near the front of the pack because of all the dangerous corners, hairpins and bad road sections. I thought I might have an advantage on the hilly sections if I was close to the front because I live in the mountains and climb them every day, so that if a chance came – I might be able to break away. Well, in the very first loop as we were climbing the steepest section near the end I pulled away effortlessly. I didn’t know if they all were saving themselves or what? I thought about falling back into the pack and waiting until later in the ride to attack but it was only a 24 km race so I didn’t. I said good-bye and left them and rode behind the pace bike until the finish. I totally expected to be swallowed up by the group near the end but that never happened. I won by a good 1 minute and 20 seconds. I totally surprised myself. I wanted to finish in the top 5 but instead, left everyone behind.

That's Me at the Top.  Woot Woot

That’s Me at the Top. Woot Woot

A happy day pour moi.

It reminded me of my youth in Canada when I used to do well in the race circuit but never thought at this age I’d still have something to offer. This ain’t the Tour de France I know! But it was packed and riders came from all over Japan, booked hotels and probably set out to do well, too.  I’ll pat myself on the back, sleep well and then go about my daily life again tomorrow like it was dream!

Vitus frame, the first look clipless pedals and the first Oakley cycling glasses.  Cooooool

Vitus frame, the first look clipless pedals and the first Oakley cycling glasses. Cooooool

Sorry for the bragging here but hey… I don’t get a chance to do it so often!  And… this is my blog. hee-hee

Avg HR: 169 bpm   Avg Pace:  37 km/hr

I Lost the Fight with TREK – Part 3

The 3rd and final episode of the ongoing saga regarding my TREK replacement frame ended with the protagonist getting a pump shoved in his front wheel by TREK and sliding on pavement with road cherries.

The new Frame colors.  Not ugly at all.  But not what I wanted.

The new Frame colors. Not ugly at all. But not what I wanted.

Goes so well with my gear.

This is the paint job I was hoping for but lost.

The non Hollywood story is much more anticlimactic with a simple email from TREK Japan that reads:

Hello Kelly,

We are sorry to keep you waiting.

This past week the US customer service manager, APAC customer service manager, sales rep and I discussed and concluded that we cannot replace this frame.

The reason is that the store sold the custom painted frame, and then it was taken home.

However, we are working with the shop on options to help you on their behalf.

The store mentioned that they would like to contact you but have had difficulty contacted your cell phone.

Could we tell them your email address?

We appreciate your patience in working through this!

Regards,

XXXX

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

Forced to use my winter bike for races since my Madone surrendered to the cycling Gods.

So I talked to the store out of curiosity what those “options” could be and unfortunately they didn’t lead to a discount.  The store owner just said he looked into finding someone who privately re-paints frames but came up with no one who will do carbon frames. 

So the story ends there.  No riding off into the sunset with a gold medal around my neck on my dream bike.  But, at the end of the day this story is still pretty good.  I love the frame, like the colors and am fortunate to be able to enjoy riding a very, very nice bike.

Read Part Two

Read Part One

Utsukushigahara Hill Climb Bike Race 2012

It'd be better in English I'm sure!

The Distance:  21.6 KM.   My Time:  01:22.54   Average speed:  15.6%

21.60km | 13.42mi

Starting Altitude:
680m | 2,231ft

Finishing Altitude:
1,980m | 6,496ft

Average Gradient: 7.5%

Elevation Gain:
1,300m | 4,265ft

Surface Type:
Paved

Difficulty: High

It's like the start of a roller coaster ride.

I expected to see a lot more foreigners at this race as it’s very popular. I guess it meets its 2500 rider quota in half a day when registering and maybe many of them couldn’t get in? I’ve been to a dozen races in the last year and usually there are some very strong foreign cyclists at the events.

This is a short steep hill climb to the top of Utsukushigahara. It’s a very tough race with the first 4 km at a grade of over 18% (20% depending who you talk to)! The riders leaving in groups at 1 minute intervals. The pro riders left first. It decided to rain hard the whole day making it even harder to climb. Standing was tough as the back wheel slipped quite easily. When you reached the top it was foggy with blasting high winds and extremely cold. Fortunately the event it was well organized and we were able to send up a bag full of descending colder weather wear and what-have-you for when you finished the race.

After the race returning to the base.

I felt strong, passed a lot of people and never got passed once (mind you, I wasn’t racing with the pros and I was one of the later groups to leave)! I had no idea how I did over all when I was climbing but I was certain there is a lot of room for improvement. Hill climbs are races that give advantage to tiny light weight riders which I am not. As my DM friend  says “no point buying lighter wheels etc when the body itself could be lighter”.

All in all a fun event and now I have a time I will aim to beat next year. Hopefully the sun will be out by then. :))

First Group Ride of the Year.

It’s been a long winter.  There hasn’t been a lot of snow this year but the winds and the temperature have made it exceptionally cold.  Yesterday was Tuesday but it was a national holiday here in Japan and for a rare occasion it was sunny, calm and warm (8 degrees Celsius).  I met up with two Japanese friends at a local 7-11 and headed out for our 60 km ride.

Start of the season is always painful on the pride.

I could tell we were all a little less fit than we were before winter kicked in.  I can usually ride 60 km with juice left over but today I was happy it was finished.  One of the guys bonked about 40 km in and so the other friend and I spent a lot of time at the top of hills waiting for him.  I guess all my indoor stationary cycling wasn’t in vain after all.

This was only the 2nd time I got to try out my Garmin 500 with heart rate monitor and cadence.  It was great to see all the details of the ride later on my computer and I’m looking forward to comparing my fitness down the road.

First race of the year is just a month away on April 22nd.  It’s only a short 13 km hill climb but I better get some more interval training in if I’m going to have a time I’ll be happy with.

My Knee Has Me Worried

Riding in Japan.

I’m probably a rare breed of cyclist that deals with knee pain. I believe the injuries are mostly ice hockey related from the old days of playing semi-pro. I had complex knee surgery last January to ‘save’ my meniscus from being removed. The procedure is new and only one doctor at this famous knee and shoulder hospital had studied how to do it in the USA. There were no guarantees but after it was done and 6 weeks in a leg cast, I worked my ass off to rehabilitate it. I got on the bicycle for the first time this year in mid May. The knee hurt at first but gradually felt stronger and better. Come August I was pain free and feeling like a million dollars.

Then, like a light switch, a week ago, in the exact same spot but on the other knee, really bad pains started to stab me. On today’s ride, I couldn’t even stand up on climbs. I’ve been limping around like an old man for a week but I’m praying and hoping that it’s not the same problem I had with the other knee. Being 42 years old doesn’t help matters but I’ve kept myself in good shape my whole life and am frustrated by this.

Sorry for the rant but I am quite bummed out. I have always loved cycling and I don’t want to lose it. Plus, I’m spent with surgery (I’ve had a total of 7 in my life time – most injury related).

Anyone else dealing with pains or injuries that affect their cycling or daily life?

Oh, on a lighter note (if you’ve made it this far), I saw the strangest thing today. I saw a middle age heavy set woman walking along the side of the road carrying on her front a HUGE LIVE turtle! I’m talking the shell was the size of a car tire! It was hugging her as she struggled to carry it. Where they were going I have no idea! English school maybe?

Today I took my video camera with me to try to take some footage of my route. It was more of a pain than anything (except my knee – lol )