The Powerline-Highline Whammy

James Kendal:

This is a great run!

Originally posted on Canmore Runner:

This is the second trail running route post. It’s a variation on the previous one described in Hello Highline, a speedy, undulating and relatively short 6.5km round trip starting and ending at Quarry Lake, just outside of town. The Powerline-Highline Whammy also starts and ends in Quarry Lake. However, it covers an altogether more challenging 18.5km with 600m plus of elevation which looks like this on Garmin Connect:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 19.57.29

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 19.58.04On the bright side, it has a more gentle beginning than Hello Highline. The first five kilometres along the Powerline Trail and on to Three Sisters Village are relatively gentle and offer spectacular views of the Three Sisters and Mount Lawrence Grassi. After that, it all becomes a little more challenging with a roughly (and at times rough) 2km climb up through the trees and the lower portion of the Highline.

But it’s well worth it because before long you’ll be tearing along…

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Yesterday our family spent the afternoon at the Canmore Nordic Center doing some cross country ski practice with Alison.


My wife Misty is going to be a group leader / coach for the Jackrabbits program and Alison is in her class. Athletes don’t always make the best coaches (which I can attest to) but Misty has a good grasp of pedagogy and that, combined with being a great mother and a gentle touch, has made the learning curve less steep for Alison. Alison is a thrill-seeker but she has been a bit timid on the snow and the toboggan hill.


 On of the tricks Misty is using is having “Stuffies” on the skis and having the kids slide on the skis like snakes.

Later that day we split up and Alison and I went do some sledding down by the Biathlon range. Now most kids in Canmore are naturals on the snow and have mad skills but up until this point most of our sledding had been a two person affair with Alison hanging on pretty tight. Today a switch went off and as a Parent I felt blessed to see it happen. Alison was on the edge when we were skiing but a good hour with Mom directing and Dad participating in the coaching lesson that Misty was testing on us improved Alison’s confidence. As Alison and I were walking down with sled in tow Alison turned to me and said “Daddy, I’m going to go one time by myself.” Ok? I said. Not wanting to push Alison after a few times down the hill she said “I want to go by myself this time.” And she did, again, and again and again. After six times I was asking if I could go too as we only had one sled. Our last sled of the day was together with Alison saying “Giddy up, giddy up!”


 Alison proudly wearing her “Fast and Female” buffs.

The following morning Alison came in to our room as she does every morning and she jumped up on our bed and said “Dad, yesterday I wanted to make you proud and show you that I could go all by myself.” I can not full express how that made me feel other than to say that if you know what the concept of “filling your bucket is” well Alison filled my bucket. As a parent I was given one of those rewards that you could never buy and you will never forget. On reflection I saw the magic of growing, becoming strong and finding form.


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Finding Form

This blog was a way for me to record a journey that I have stepped in and out of for many years, that being, finding form. I have equated form in the past with performance, prestige and position while all that time I failed to think about happiness. A lack of personal happiness and a loss of position brought me to this place of searching.

Marriage has been a journey and it has had ups and downs. Being a father is a journey ,again, it has ups and downs. Needless to say, accepting happiness is the missing piece to truly feeling form. The selflessness needed to be a family will make you happy in the end.

I am grateful for what I have and being content is a nice place to be. My wife has been a great friend and mentor on this subject. She brought me to this very special place.



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Keith G. Kendal 7 July 1929 – 9 August 2014

“Oh great ocean
Oh great sea
Run to the ocean
Run to the sea”

One Tree Hill, U2

Today my Father passed away. I have not written much in the past year but the news of his passing was expected as he had been fighting illness for the last decade. I am grateful that my brother Keith was able to take care of my Dad and that he had him close over the past few years. The song “One Tree Hill” is a beautiful song and I thought of it this morning when I learned about my father.

Reflecting on my Dad’s life and our relationship reminds me again that family defines us. We were not a perfect family but time spent together was always special. My father never got hung up on the past and over these last few years he was very dear and he was happy to be with his sons.


My favorite memories will be our Sunday road trips as a child, his support when I was racing my bike as a teenager and eating ice cream cones with him in Penticton during my brother’s Iron Man attempt. My Dad was a tough man and never shared many emotions but with age he showed grace and he loved us.

My father always had that hero status for me and I was quick to tell new friends growing up about his stint as a pro football player. He played in the Grey Cup in 1950. Player #71.


I will miss you Dad and with you gone I will stand up for you and be a great father, I will stay close with my brothers and I will take care of my family.


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Reflecting on 2013

Looking back on this past  year has been top of mind moving towards winter. I’ve always found the Autumn transition to be a natural time of reflection. I was born in November and with the days greyer than most throughout the year it is generally a time to look back and assess events, experience and growth.

Finding form is about growth; personal, spiritual, physical and family. That said, where do we start? What changes do we need to make going forward? What did we do right and what did we do wrong? What and how can we be better? This past year was a good year for humility and patience.

On the cycling front I achieved a mid-life goal; Category 2 status. In the first race of the year I placed well enough to get the required points for an upgrade from Cat 3 to Cat 2. After that upgrade happened racing became more about “how long can I hang on” from how can I get to the podium. A challenge to say the least. The differences in the races from Cat 3 to Cat 2 really come from the surges in pace and trying to anticipate them. You become a lot more conservative in the peleton when you feel that you are riding to survive. Nevertheless, I found satisfaction from the Time Trial events where I could make direct comparisons to my own fitness and to other competitors. Time Trial (TT) goals are measurable. If I stay in Cat 2 in the future I will have to train more and that is really what it comes down to. How much time you have to train will directly convert to the category you are riding in. The best summary I have of racing this year would be a quick synopsis of the Banff Bike Fest criterium. From the gun the pace was in excess of 48 km/hour for the first 10 laps, I didn’t even have time to start my garmin with the pace and subsequently spent the rest of the race “chewing my handle bars.” There were some big guns at the Banff Bike Fest this year with H&R Block and Trek Red Truck driving some serious pace at the front trying to get their top under 23 rider on the podium which would then get that rider a pro contract and a ride in the Tour of Alberta. Taking the good with the bad I did break the 30 minute barrier (goal) in the Time Trial stage and had a personal best.


Riding the Lake Minnewanka Loop at the Banff Bike Fest.

One of the  highlights of the 2013 cycling season was helping out our cycling club with the youth road program that we started. Being able to ride with the kids taught me to be more patient and to appreciate the love of the bike. The results our kids posted this season was a great testament to what the RMCC group has done with the “rider to racer” and “rampage” programs. That said, I was able to take it one step further on occasion and would visit my daughter’s daycare on “Bike Day” to ride with the kids. So much fun and not quite as hard as “chewing my bars” with the cat 2s.


My daughter Alison is #396 and she loves to race

My best race came at the end of the season with the Provincial TT championships. Nothing brilliant but I rode a good program and managed to be the top placed rider from RMCC. Time Trials are an incredible event in that you are lucid, alone with your thoughts and riding completely on your limit. You occupy yourself with deeper questions as a way to work your way through and incredible amount of pain. I always love to look at the stats from the ride after the event and then compare them to previous rides. I guess its about the progress and as I get older TTs are going to be my main focus. I love getting the old diesel engine warm and once its moving its a beautiful feeling.

Provincial IIT 2013 Miquelon

The end of my cycling season came with a bit of a bang, crash and boom. Some of my colleagues have been pushing to me to take up cyclo-cross for a while and I finally bit the bullet and picked up a used Ridley X-Fire. With three rides under my belt on my new machine I thought I would head out and race my first cross race. Confident in my aerobic and anearobic strengths I thought for sure I would do OK. Wow, thirty seconds in to my first race I realized that you shouldn’t sit on someone’s wheel like you would in a crit. I usually see crashes coming but this was my first hard fall in some time. Straight over the bars and down on my ribs in an instant after the rider in front of my got cut off and crashed. I could feel the hit on my ribs and then I couldn’t breathe to save my life. I had the wind knocked out of me and I did some serious damage. After screaming for about a minute and realizing that I was hurt but not going to die I got up and kept racing. My new goal was not to get lapped but my real goal was to finish. With my family watching me race I knew I had to complete the circuit. There was much humor to be found from the hecklers (who didn’t know I crashed) as I gingerly walked over barriers and gritted my teeth running up hills. For the record, I crashed three times inside of one week on a cross bike. So humbling yet still fun. The best part of the race was stopping every lap to kiss my daughter and wife. That got some funny looks and made for some good comic relief.


Gritting my teeth at the Canmore Cross Race.

Every year we need to try something new and push ourselves. Never be content to stay where you are.

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee

Cyclocross will be a bigger part of my program as it lends itself well to a busy schedule and is a lot of fun. Having the family come out to watch is a highlight and was probably my favorite event for the year. More so because I am not very good at it which means that I can only get better.

Lets move,


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How do you keep joy in your life? Think and act like a kid.

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a new season

Anyone looking out the window these days in Alberta is probably finding it just a little bit hard to even think about getting out to train on the bike. With just over a week from the first race and just under a month to the first stage race it has definitely been a difficult year to find a consistent training regime. One week hot and then one week cold, it is a cruel thing to do to a cyclist but that is the nature of living in Alberta. As an athlete, albeit, a mature one, finding the extra spark to get out training in trying conditions is no easy feat but our community is pretty good at motivating each other with indoor group rides and training sessions as well as giving friends an extra nudge to ride outdoors when it’s just above freezing.  Strava has also come in handy at motivating ourselves as we are able to see what our peers are doing… or not doing. Nevertheless, those first few rides of the year always (re)sparks the love of cycling and reminds us of why we enjoy the freedom to escape down the road. Independence, fresh air, meditation, anticipation, pain and suffering (think Silvertip climbs) and camaraderie with friends and team mates that is cycling.

This year I have a taken a slightly different approach as my goals are a little further out in the season and training has started late. I’ve jumped in to some extra volunteer work with the club and with the upcoming Tour of Alberta. The Tour of Alberta will be an awesome event and we have put together a strong group of committee leaders here in Canmore. Even the Town of Canmore has put their weight and support behind an event that will blow through downtown in less than 60 seconds. Perhaps we could name the downtown portion “gone in 60 seconds” but that is the nature of the sport. Lots of anticipation then fleeting moments. Our Town goes to great lengths to make things happen.

Cycling is more than just a sport, it’s a passionate group  of encouraging people. As I’m reminded that the sport has given me back my fitness and new friendships I am feeling the need to reciprocate a little bit more to the community. As for passion I must admit that with my daughter getting bigger, older and more able (independent)  I had secretly hoped that she too might become a bike racer (which she just well may in ten years) but at this point she is teaching us some great lessons about passion and anticipation, something I wish I could distill and put in my water bottle. Alison likes to ride her bike but she absolutely loves dancing and yesterday was her first ever ballet lesson. Now, she has participated in a few little critter bike races and has been pretty excited about them and the attention she gets but her excitement at those events was relative to the external experience.  Taking her to her first lesson gave me one of those opportunities that makes being a parent a blessing. Watching her having a profoundly internal experience that she was in love with the freedom of dance will never be lost on me. I guess we could say it was her new found experience of movement which is such a key element of development and personal growth.


She will experience this in other ways and in other sports but the only thing that matters is that look on her face and her unbridled enthusiasm. It was special, it was magical and I feel blessed to have been there to see it. Moving on I am reminded that I must always try to find that sense of enthusiasm and make the world around us as awesome as possible or as Jeff from the Yoga Lounge likes to say… “Super Awesome.”

Lets move!

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