Thursday, February 26, 2015

Destination Icebike.

The race route in the centre of Winnipeg; marked in red.
____"It's all about the journey and not the destination" is an often heard phrase and one that I agree with. It is what roadtrips are all about. But as I started my journey back to physical fitness; I badly needed a destination, something to aim at and make all the effort worthwhile. Entering a bicycle race that has part of the course on a frozen river and part through snowy woodland might not be everybody's idea of a fitness test but it was all I could find. The last week in February seemed a perfect time, two months after starting physiotherapy and the road back to a fully functioning left arm.

____Icebike 2015 is the fifteenth edition of the race, put on by local bikeshop; Woodcock Cycle Works. It raises funds for the Lung Association; through entry fees and sale of tee-shirts. There are seven race categories; ranging from a short course for 7 year-olds, up to the 18 kilometre race for adult cyclo-crossers and fat-bikers. The event is based at the Forks in Winnipeg, the place where the Assiniboine River joins the Red River of the North. A meeting place for centuries and a popular first date rendezvous for Internet dating couples. But on a freezing Saturday morning in February; it is over-run by cyclists dressed as Darth Vader.

Norco Bigfoot Fatbike.

____Christmas dinner was about as bad as it could be for my left arm. I could hold a fork but not get it up to my mouth. Physiotherapy started with the new year; three sessions a week and they gave me a pulley to fit over the bedroom door, so I could exercise everyday. I joined the "Snap Fitness" gym as well. This gave me much needed cardio-vascular exercise; spinning on the stationary bike, walking on the treadmill and striding on the elliptical trainer. With nothing else to do; I went every day and concentrated on getting fit and getting movement back in the arm.

____The Steinbach Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic proved to be very good for my arm. Ken knows shoulders and slowly, bit by bit, he has got more movement out of my shoulder. Sometimes with ultra-sonic waves, sometimes with acupuncture needles but mostly with brute force and considerable pain. I started to notice little improvements; I could reach the seat-belt in the car, I could stick my left-hand pinky in my ear again, I could do Village People karaoke songs. I didn't tell Ken about the bike race.


____Icebike was a good excuse to buy a fat bike. Four-inch wide tyres are not essential for the race but they do make riding on snow and ice a whole lot easier and much more fun. I bought a Canadian-built Norco Bigfoot, disc-brakes, aluminium frame and those wide wheels that allow you to ride on snow, sand and anything soft. Daily trips to the coffee-shop helped with fitness and acclimatisation to riding in temperatures of minus 20 degrees centigrade. "What to wear?" was the biggest problem. Enough stuff to keep warm needs to be balanced with the prospect of over-heating with all the physical exertion. I never managed to get it right and eventually resigned myself to the fact that I would come home soaked in sweat. Several layers of clothing was the best option; technical t-shirt, cycling jersey, fleece and a wind-proof jacket with the pit-zips open for ventilation. Thick Merino-rich woolen socks, insulated boots. A Ninja-style micro-fleece balaclava under my cycle helmet. I would have liked to have worn sunglasses but found no way of stopping my heavy breathing from fogging them.

Icebike 2015 Fatbike Class.

____It was minus 23 on race-day with plenty of ice-skaters out on the prepared trails that run from the Forks; along the Assiniboine and the Red. Crossing the polished ice-trials was the trickiest part of the race. Riding on the snow-covered ice of the river was not too bad. The cycle-tracks on the river banks was hard-packed snow and no problem for the Bigfoot. On the other hand; the deep snow on the narrow track in the woods was very difficult and tiring. It was three laps of six kilometres; doesn't sound a lot, but it took a lot longer than what I had trained for. I finished eleventh out of 14 in the fatbike class and fell off once. Really enjoyed it, glad I made the effort. A big "Thank-you" to all those that made it possible. Thanks to Cougar my pit-crew and photographer. A mention for fellow Brit, Amy Cooper, who won the woman's race. Well done Amy!


Icebike 2015, The Forks, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Number 111, a good trucking number.

1 comment:

  1. So glad I got to stay warm in the truck until you passed by again!