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Life is not a journey to the grave...

"'Life is not a journey to the grave with the
intention of arriving safely in a pretty
and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside,
thoroughly used up,
totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming,

"WOW! What a ride!"'

That's how I'd like to close 2006 - what a fantastic quote. That just says it all doesn't it? Thanks to Roz Savage for that.

And I feel like the way I lived in 2006 brought me one step closer to sliding in broadside. What a year it has been, and what a wild ride!

the Kolodziejzyk family

2006 started out with some difficulty - the winter months of January to April was spent making modifications to my human powered vehicle - Critical Power for a second attempt at the 24 hour human powered distance record that I had scheduled for some time in the summer. I had just returned from a November failed attempt in Alabama completely motivated to fix our problems and attack the record again.

The first item on the agenda was to repair the cracks in the fairing shell caused from my many crashes at the NCAT test track in Alabama. Those were patched with carbon and we added some ribs to prevent the shell from caving in again in case of another crash. Then I had it professionally painted sexy silver metallic with a new CP skull logo advertising that I meant business this time around!

Other mods included adding proper chain guides to prevent another chain derailment which derailed the last attempt, a new, smoother canopy bubble, and a quick-access food/hydration compartment.

The winter months were also spent training for Ironman Arizona. Getting ready for an Ironman in the middle of a Canadian winter is brutal! all my runs were circular loops around the track at the Talisman Center and all my rides were inside on the mag trainer. Needless to say, I was concerned about my lack of any serious distance on the bike as the April Ironman date approached. My longest ride was only 4 hours inside on the trainer. The plan, according to my coach Jason Yanota, was to seriously ramp up the intensity to increase my power. And that we did. My training started with a couple of months suffering through brutal Lactate threshold intervals, then got worse with 4 weeks of MAP intervals (maximum aerobic power - grueling sets of all-out maximum effort lasting a few minutes and repeating until vomit is imminent.

The work paid-off. Ironman Arizona turned out to be the race of my dreams. I missed 3rd place by 2 seconds and easily nabbed a qualifying slot for world championships in Hawaii finishing in 10 hours, 15 minutes. For the last 4 years, it has been a goal of mine to break into the top 5 in my division and qualify for Ironman World Championships in Kona, and I had finally done it - I was ecstatic!

After a post Ironman recovery holiday in Florida with my family, the next item on the agenda was a new training program for another crack at the 24 hour distance record. I would have to say, in looking back, that my fondest memories of the entire HPV distance record project - both attempts actually, were my ultra long training rides. These rides were the back bone of my training program - every week I alternated a super long training ride with a 100 miler fast time trial. The goal of the 100 miler time trials was to hammer as hard as possible and try to maintain 230+ watts for about 4.5 to 5 hours on the M5 lowracer. My course was typically a 50 mile out and back flat and fast section of highway south of Calgary. Those days were tough, but rewarding.

The main focus of my training was the ultra rides. I started out at 8 hours and upped the duration by 2 hours every 2 weeks. These rides were unforgettable mini-expeditions that typically took a few days worth of planning in advance. My choice of route was always important because if you are spending 16 hours out on the road by yourself, you need to stay stimulated. My route of choice was the Highwood Pass - a 320 km circular route that took me up to the top of the highest paved road in Canada and through 2 provincial parks. I saw bears, Mountain goats, a Moose, and many elk. My ultra rides peaked at a 400 km day where I started out at sunrise from my home in Calgary and ended as the sun set in Jasper, about 16 hours later. What a day that was!

And then, in the second week of July, my crew and I flew off to Eureka, CA for my second shot at the 24 hour HPV record. Man, what a special moment that was for me. I have many vivid memories of that entire trip - from preparing Critical Power in the days leading up to the record attempt and the record itself, to all of the celebrations after. On July 19th at 9:00 am, after 23 hours of circling the 1/2 mile Redwood Acres race track over 1000 times, I had tears in my eyes as I realized that I had finally done it - I had broken the existing record of 1021 km and had another hour to add distance to it. It's always nice when a plan works out, and extra sweet when you can say you are the best in the world at something.

Soon after the 24 hour record my family and I flew off to France for a cycling vacation through the Loire Valley. That trip definitely goes down as one of our all-time favorite vacations. When I returned to Calgary, I started back at Ironman training to get ready for Ironman in Kona, Hawaii - another dream that was finally going to come true for me.

The fulfillment of a 5 year quest to make it to world championships was finally realized on Oct 21, 2006 in Kona as I completed my 10th Ironman distance triathlon, the world championships. It was a very challenging day and I learned some important lessons. We had a very relaxing vacation and I am motivated to make it back to Kona for 2007 to see if I can improve my finish there.

We returned to Calgary and I realized that I was in an enviable, exciting situation - one that doesn't come around all that often - what to do next? I don't ever look at these cross roads moments as doors closing on previous goals, but doors opening for new ones. An optimist stays up until midnight to welcome the New Year, a pessimist stays up to make sure the old one goes away. I was faced with a choice of embarking on a new adventure! New challenges that I can leverage what I learned and what I was able to accomplish from previous challenges. This was truly exciting! I made a list of all the things that I've always thought about doing, and talked them over with my wife Helen. When I nervously told Helen that I was thinking of pedaling a human powered boat across the Atlantic, she said “oh, I hope you don't mind that I don't want to go with you!" Man - she is awesome! She is so supportive. If I told her I wanted to build a human powered rocket and go to the moon, she would start packing the TANG. Wait a sec... You don't think she wants to get rid of me do you? Hmm.... Seriously, Helen is incredible. There is no way I could do any of the crazy things I do if not for her unconditional support.

And so it was decided - I was going to cross the Atlantic Ocean by human power. Immediately, I got in touch with the real experts - members of the human powered boats group, and instantly made friends with Rick Willoughby who had some very interesting ideas about exactly what that kind of boat should be about. Together, we came up with a design, and now I have a partially finished fiberglass and Kevlar pedal boat in my shop!

So - what is in store for 2007? Well, I have Ironman Arizona again in April where I would really like to repeat my performance of last year and place in the top 5 in my division and nab my 2nd Kona slot. In fact, my goal is to place top 3. After that, I will have most of the summer to gain experience in Within - my human powered boat. I am planning on some ocean trips off Vancouver Island, and possibly some more aggressive sea-testing in rougher ocean conditions. Helen and I are both doing Ironman Canada in August - so if I do not qualify for Kona in Arizona, then I will have a second chance in Penticton.

As far as what the new year holds in store for the Human Powered Trans Atlantic expedition, it will be an adventure for sure! - Probably some difficult moments, surely some excitement, hopefully some fun along the way and certainly plenty of learning. I am looking forward to making some new friends and strengthening some old relationships. It will be quite a journey for everyone involved. My goals for the year are:

1. To solidify my mission statement - am I going for a crossing record, or going for a solo, unsupported first of some sort?

2. To secure a Charity to work with

3. To secure a major corporate sponsor for the expedition

4. To find supplies and equipment sponsors for the expedition

5. To finish fabrication and testing of Within - the human powered ocean boat to my satisfaction

6. To collect some awesome footage for the TV / documentary series. Building, pool testing, ocean testing, training, etc - should be pretty interesting!

7. To make an attempt at the 24 hour human powered boat distance record. I may use Within for this, or may have to use something specially built for a record attempt.

8. To solidify a schedule of exactly when the ocean crossing will take place

On top of all of this, I vow to resume my drums music lessons, support Helen with her new business venture, and help my kids accomplish their goals.

But what I hope the most for in 2007, is to see that YOU accomplish your goals! You can accomplish what ever you set your mind to - But first, you need a plan because how will you know when you arrive if you don't know where you are going? A plan starts with listing your goals, so let’s start there. If it helps you, feel free to email me with a list of your goals for 2007. I can help with advice and motivation, so use me!

I BLOG because I like to entertain, to inspire, to motivate, to show what's possible, and occasionally to show that even the impossible is possible. But the main reason I blog is for me. It's a great way to solidify what my goals are and to record my trials, tribulations, successes, failures and lessons learned. I'm getting older and I forget stuff all the time. I am finding it increasingly difficult to learn anything if I forget my mistakes, because you don't learn from your successes, you learn from your failures. If you write it down, and tell it to the world, then you have to do it. And if you do it wrong, then it's there in pixels forever so you will never forget - and won't make the same mistake twice. Or at least, won't make the same mistake any more than a dozen or so times...

So hey - I wish you and your family all the best for 2007. And remember to enjoy the ride!

Greg Kolodziejzyk

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