Recently in Bike Report Category

Vacation TT 2

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Windier today. Was something like 45 seconds behind at the far corner.

The upside was the wind was at my back coming home. I thought I'd be too tired for it to matter, but the wind gave me just enough impetus to fly up the last hill - generally at 32-34km/h. Nice.

It was still too much time to makeup, but I was under 25 minutes, which wasn't bad.

Vacation TT 1

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My lungs are better, but my cough can still be devastating. Still, I felt good enough to try a ride around the block.

A few weeks ago, I set a time to beat of 24:18. It's on a chalkboard at home.

I had my first coughing fit a couple of minutes in, but I was able to keep my breath and keep going. I felt ok all the way around, though I battled up the last hill. Was very surprised to see the time be 24:26 - only 8 seconds off my PB.

Of course, if I keep at this for any length of time, I should be able to destroy that PB.

Mooseman Report: Bike

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As Bill said in an email, if I'd spent any more time in T1, I would have had to apply for residency. (We all shoot for world records in our own ways, I guess.)

It didn't help that I'd spent the pre-race time chasing pedals, rather than setting up T1. Still, despite the fact that I spent more than 8 minutes in T1, I didn't start on the power bar I'd intended to eat there until I was out on the road.

Of course, to get out on the road, I had to clip into my pedals. Turns out it was much tougher than to do for these pedals - they really were a tight fit. I wasn't going to be casually clipping in and out in this race, that's for sure!

So I clipped in, with some ungentlemanly grunting and cursing, and immediately pulled the power bar out of my bike jersey and chowed down. Probably looked ridiculous with all these fit triathletes blowing by me in their aero bars. Suckers. They were missing out on the surprisingly decent taste (but still bleh texture) of oatmeal raisin power bar.

I was done the bar by the time we started hitting the rolling hills. I kept telling myself not to push, to take it easy. I was surprised that Bill hadn't blown by me yet, but focused on my own race - or lack thereof.

Around the first corner, and I started preparing myself for Devil's Hill. Unfortunately, when I got there, I realized I needed to go into the granny gear (smallest front ring). Quite often my bike chain falls off when I try to do this, and this was no exception. This, of course, happened halfway up the hill.

Unclipping was fun, too. So was reclipping into these new pedals on a steep uphill. Whee.

Bill blew by me here, as did about 40 other people. There was just no way about it, I couldn't wait for a gap in the traffic, I just had to cut in front of people and go.

Devil's hill put me far into the red zone. Actually, it put me there for far too long. I was huffing and puffing like an asthmatic when I crested. Not good. Ok, so on the downside I hit 61km/hr without pedalling AT ALL. Not adequate compensation. A few minutes later, I was in the red zone on another hill. On the detour onto the point, with all its false summits, I was in the red zone again.

In short, I was not well prepared for the rolling hills of Newfound Lake.

What didn't help was that I refused to go into the granny gear again, so I was grinding the heck out of my legs - making them put out more raw strength than they normally would have had to. When I finally came off the point, I was going backwards quickly, out of breath, and behind on my nutrition ('cause it's hard to drink when you're climbing).

Eventually, I got my legs back, as we left the lake and descended into Bristol. I reminded myself that my goal was to take it easy the whole first loop. I was now very leery of hills, knowing that I might have missed some on the Saturday drive-around. I wanted to make sure I had enough in my legs for whatever was around the next corner on my first loop. On the second loop, memory would help me plan.

Jeff and Bill had remarked that there was lots of climbing on the 104 out of Bristol. I'd missed it, but that's because rather than rollers we faces long slow inclines. This was more like what I was used to, and it didn't bother me at all. In fact, it was quite welcome.

Off the 104, there was a quick hill, then an aid station. I almost missed the port-a-potties, and had to brake quickly. Of course, in the middle of braking quickly, I remembered the new pedals, and nearly had a comical "fall over at a dead stop" moment. Fortunately, I got one foot down in time, and I stopped for my first pee break.

After this aid station was, by far, the best part of the bike. The rolling hills were more gentle, and they gave way to a bit of open farmland before we descended back to the lake. There was much happiness to be found here.

Suddenly, we were back at the lake, and done the first loop.

By now, I'd probably been passed by at least 350 of the 650 participants. (Which was fine.)

I made two big changes on my second loop. One was that I revisited the granny gear whenever I could. Yes, it was taking a chance, but my chain never dropped again, so it was a huge net plus. Also, I spent a lot more time on the tachometer of my computer, trying to keep myself at 90 rpm whenever I could. I especially tried to keep my cadence high AFTER hills, trying to let my legs recover actively, rather than passively. I never really pushed the pace, but tried to keep my legs active and loose.

Because of this, the second loop felt faster, and more cohesive than the first. When I got back to the 104 (seemingly much more quickly), I was on my third Gatorade bottle, and had eaten 2 power gels already. My gut, however, was starting to complain.

Remembering the aid station, I made plans to stop there again. Of course, it was about 5 curves further away than I remembered it being, but I did get there safely. When I did, I spent AT LEAST 5 quality (ugh) minutes there. This was kind of a no-brainer. I knew I had something like 3 hours left to my day, and I needed to get everything out that I possibly could NOW.

I took a bottle of Gatorade and 2 power gels from the volunteers on my way out, and started out again. One gel was eaten as soon as I hit a farm flat. It tasted awful, but went down in one swallow. Bleh.

By now I was largely on my own on the road. The entire field had gone off in front of me. I rode the last lonely miles, and rolled into T2 a very happy man.

All along, I'd told myself that I wouldn't know how the half marathon would be until I came off the bike. Coming off the bike, I felt surprisingly good.

On the bike, I ate: 1 power bar, 3 gels. I drank 4 full bottles of gatorade.

Consistency

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I made all 3 swims last week. The gauntlet has been thrown down with my wife, and we're both hoping to make 3/week a habit.

I also got on the bike 3 times last week, including a 40 minute "race" with Robbie Ventura. The volume was down just far enough that I could tune him out, but truth be told he was safe from my fists this time.

In fact, there was a brief moment in the DVD where he made me bury the needle. After that, my 10s were more like 7s and my 7s were more like 3s, but I'll get there in time.

The Question on Everyone's Minds

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Was back on the trainer today. Threw the training video that came with it into the laptop, to watch as I rode along.

Ended up doing the warmup that came on the DVD.

I also learned that it only takes 6.5 minutes for me to want to punch Robbie Ventura in the face.

Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour

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Or, Misfortune and Wisdom.

At the end of April, I was very focused on getting in my 1000km of riding in preparation for Rideau Lakes. There was a sense of apprehension, though, as at the time everyone in the house was sick.

On the day after my 80km Tour Nortel ride, I went for my morning swim. Uncharacteristically, I left the pool early, feeling totally beat.

When I got home from work that day, my temperature was over 100.

So began two very uncomfortable weeks. What started as an upper respiratory infection moved to be a lower resperatory infection. I did not swim, I did not bike. When I wasn't at home in bed, I was working long hours at work, trying to meet a deadline that my health was expediting.

In short, putting in 1000km was suddenly very fall down the totem pole.

Towards the end of May, I started riding again. I was able to get my total mileage up over 500km, and put in another 70+ km ride. Would it be enough? I would have to see.

Saturday morning, I made it to Carleton University for 6:30, registered, and found my group. We made some plans, and joined the mass exodus.

The first leg was a 40km ride though Ottawa, out to the countryside, to Ashton. The roads were very crowded, and I had a lot of trouble staying with my group in the crowds, and found the whole thing rather frustrating. Eventually I found myself an empty bit of road, and settled down into my own rhythm. Before I knew it, there was shade and water and a Mars bar at Ashton.

The group reorganized, and we left together, and settled into a paceline. The headwind was rather stiff, and the paceline helped take the bite out of the headwind. That said, I was very nervous in the paceline, and had trouble staying as close to the bike in front of me as I needed to to gain full effect from drafting. Some of the more experienced riders noticed, and tried to encourage me.

While this stage was very smooth, and the experience of riding in a paceline was amazing, it was also mentally demanding and stressful.

We arrived in Perth before 11am, having covered 40km in fairly quick time, and settled down under a tree for lunch of sandwiches, juice, bananas and baked goodies. We discussed the ride so far, and the fact that we'd dropped a couple of pickups who hadn't been able to keep up. I confided that I would probably be the next to be dropped. The group had agreed to lower the pace, but I just wasn't as used to the pace line as everyone else, and the mental and physical stresses of riding in a group, including not feeling comfortable taking a drink unless I was at the back of the line, were worries for me.

We started the next stage, a 45km ride to Westport. Once we were out of Perth, the pace line started again. We took shorter turns at the front, which was nice. At about the 90-95km mark, we started to hit some rolling hills, signs of things to come. One of my single biggest weaknesses on the ride was the uphills - I hadn't trained on many hills at all, and I was finding them much harder than everyone else. When more experienced riders were on the front, they attacked the rollers, trying to carry momentum from one hill to the next. This was technically correct, but was very difficult on me. I struggled to keep up, but was noticing that the midday heat was really starting to get to me. Finally, I decided that I needed to sit in the shade far more than I needed the paceline. I called out that I was dropping, pulled off to the side, and did so.

Interestingly, I did not drop back immediately. I was close to the group for several minutes, but was able to ride at my own pace. Eventually, I spied a bit of grass at the side of the road under a shady tree, and practially dove for it.

There, I was able to take some time and reflect. I was feeling ok, I was reasonably happy with my hydration and nutrition. I wondered if I would be able to do the return ride on Sunday. I realized that, if after a night's sleep and breakfast, if I felt I wasn't ready, I would be able to pull out and call for a ride home.

After giving two passing police officers on motorbikes the thumbs up (to let them know that I was resting, not injured), I got back on the road. I made decent time through the hills, eventually arrving in Westport in time to see my group resting in the shade of the gas station.

And what a sight the gas station was. There were 70-100 cyclists there, buying Gatorade, water and ice cream in large amounts. Every bit of available shade was taken. I bought two gatorades and a bag of salty chips, and sat down to refuel. The group asked if I wanted to join them, but I assured them that I wanted to rest long, and sent them on ahead. And I did rest - for much longer. I downed one full Gatorade and half a bag of chips. I used the facilities. I sat some more. Finally, I headed out.

The next stage was 30 km to another rest stop. This stage featured the worst of the hills, and progress was slow. I stopped in the shade more than once. The fact that I was dead slow on hills did not bother me, but the heat was really starting to get to me. I hydrated as much as I could, but I was getting a slight headache, and was starting to worry about body temperature. Progress was very slow here, mostly because of the hills, but also because of the heat.

I saw an ambulance go by me at one point, going the other way. Yes, this was serious business.

The rest stop was a disappointment. They had bananas (yay!) and water on ice, but they had very little shade. I took a long break, ate the banana (a godsend, for sure), and drank a lot of water. Still, even with a fair amount of rest, I felt no cooler.

I thought, and thought, and decided that I wanted nothing to do with the heat on Sunday. To put it in perspective, Friday was the hottest day of the year by a fair margin. Saturday was much hotter, and Sunday was supposed to be the same as Saturday, with maybe more of a chance of a rain or thundershower. At that point, 150km into my ride, I had learned SO SO much about myself and about distance riding. Riding 180km the next day intimitdated me, but I realized that sitting out in the sun for 8-10 hours, just doing NOTHING, was more than I would have wanted. Adding riding to that would be just too much.

I tried to call for a ride, but we were out of cell phone service. So, with nothing else to do, I got on my bike and started riding.

The break hadn't done a thing for my comfort level, but my strength was much better after the restart. I started making decent time, especially once the hills levelled out. At a small town at around the 160km mark, I found some shade on the sidewalk and made my call. Please, come pick me up in Kingston.

As I made my call, a gentleman in red pulled in beside me to cool off in the shade. We talked a bit about how we were both struggling. He generously offered to pull me for a bit. I told him that I was a bit uncomfortable following, but I nonetheless accepted his offer, telling him not to worry if I dropped.

For a few kilometers, my eyes were on the red shirt in front of me, as we rolled along the flat road. Eventually, we hit a hill, and he dropped me, but I was nonetheless grateful. A short ways up the road, he was off to the side. I asked if he was ok, but he said he was waiting for the line to pass. When the line passed, he overtook me, and settled back in in front of me!

He dropped me later, on a downhill, and I never saw him again, but wherever he is, he deserves my thanks.

I stopped at least once more in the shade, but now Kingston was in sight. Once we hit the city, it was stop and go with traffic lights and awful road conditions all the way to Queens University.

Interestingly, about half a kilometer from Queens, the temperature dropped abruptly as we approached Lake Ontario. It felt wonderful, but I ended up needing to pull a t-shirt on after sitting around for a few minutes. How quickly things can change!

I saw my group, and let them know that I was dropping out. At least one person agreed that my choice was probably for the best.

Sitting here, on Saturday morning, not riding the hills into Westport, I'm very happy with my decision. I learned so much yesterday, had an amazing time, and fulfilled a childhood dream. I was not ready for the ride, but the truth is that I don't think that I knew enough to properly prepare. All my training was solo, due to time, opportunity and personality. If I'd been comfortable in a paceline, and with riding with groups in general, AND had more distance in my legs, I know that the ride would have been very different. With the heat, I might still have dropped out, but riding solo and riding in a group are very, very different experiences.

As much as I hate to quit, I feel no remorse for dropping out. If anything, after 2 marathons in the sudden heat of late May, I'm surprised I didn't see this coming. It's so very very hard to be ready for the heat at this time of year, and I've never handled the heat well.

Rideau Lakes, well half of it, is an experience I won't soon forget.

Tour Nortel

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It was a bit of a last minute decision, but I ended up signing up this week to do the 80k ride at the Tour Nortel on Sunday.

The weather was less than ideal. It was raining at dawn, and continued through the 8:30am start. It finally stopped raining towards 9:30. The temperature wasn't too bad, starting out at 9 and warming up a bit. Still, I wore long running pants under my bike shorts, and a long sleeve shirt, cycling short-sleeve, and windbreaker. Some people wore far, far less.

I met up with a group, some of whom were from the swim club, on the morning of the event. I started out with them, but they proved to be just a little too fast for me. We hit some rolling hills about 7km in, and I decided then and there that I should just let myself be dropped, and set my own pace. This proved to be a good decision.

At about 8km we did the Richardson Side Road hill out of Kanata. This hill isn't very big, but it is steep. In the rain, i was happy to ride my brakes as much as I could going down. Some people tucked and went all out. Scary.

After that, except for a brief drive-by of the Senate, we were out in the country. Within a few kilometers, we reclimbed the ridge we'd descended on Richardson Side Road. I had to drop all the way down to the granny gear, but I managed to keep a good cadence all the way up.

I found myself wishing I had brought a camera. I would have, in all likelihood, if the weather had been drier. The fields are all green now, finally, and the deciduous trees are just starting to bud. It was all springtime and clean, an impression no doubt amplified by the fact that everything, including my feet, was very wet.

I had packed 2 Gatorades and 2 chocolate bars for the trip. I planned on having the first chocolate bar at 40km, and opportunity arose in an unpleasant fashion. We passed through the village of Dunrobin just past 35km, and we descended into a lowland swamp, complete with an osprey nest. Ahead of us, though, was a hill that dwarfed Richardson Side Road. In the distance I could see bikes compressed together on the climb, a sure sign that it was as long and tough as it looked.

Of course, it was only a hill, and folks in other parts of the country would probably laugh. Still, this early in the season, it was very tough. Even worse, it featured a false summit. I would say that I did at least a kilometer of climbing on that hill alone. When I finally made it to the top, I was at 40.5km. Time for a Mars bar.

We finally hit the asymetrical turnaround at 50km, on a beach on the Ottawa River. There was the opportunity to get off our bikes, have some orange slices and some bottled water, and even use the portable facilities.

When I resumed, I found myself riding into the wind. We also had a long slow climb to Mars hill. By the 60km mark, I was starting to feel a bit tired. I was looking forward to being back in the city, with some small shelter from the wind.

The nice part is that this was a charity ride, not a race. I was content to do whatever speed the wind would let me, and just keep moving. The wind was drying the roads, and probably drying me out too. I worked on my second bottle of Gatorade and pondered my second chocolate bar, but overall I was in decent spirits.

Right on the 70km mark, we turned back into Kanata. As we wove our way through the subdivision, my spirits rose. Before I knew it, I was at the finish line, being offered bottled water and chocolate chip muffins.

Nine Minute Negative Split

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After a rest day on Saturday, I knew I had to get out and do something on Sunday. I didn't have a lot of time, but managed to fit in an hour ride before dinner.

The wind was strong and steady from the southwest, bringing the last of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having. I rode south of the city, deciding to make for the rugby park.

It didnt' take long for me to decide to get down into the drops, and stay there as long as I could. I didn't carry much speed into the wind, but I did my best to keep grinding. It quickly became a weird kind of sub-20km/h speed set. I grinded away, and only really got a respite in a wooded section towards the end. I made it the almost 15 kilometers in 38 minutes exactly.

After a quick break to catch my breath, I turned around and made my way home. The difference was unbelievable. It's probably a fair statment that the wind is always in your face. At the speed I was going with the wind at my back, I'm sure the air was slowing me down rather than pushing me along. Still, it felt good to be able to sit up and just fly along.

The return trip felt stronger and faster, and was done in 28:22. Crazy.

Back to Commuting

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I rode to work on Tuesday. It felt a bit better than it had last week. Consequently, I felt much better about the prospect of riding home. The weather was perfect, too - 10 degrees on the way in, around 20 on the way home.

Once I got home, of course, it all hit me. I had a double course of dinner and went straight to bed.

Thursday was cooler and windier. I struggled with a headwind the whole way in. The upside was the return trip, where I felt strangely strong. The 5 minute negative split was not the result of excellent conditioning, I can tell you that!

I was apprehensive about today's swim, but I felt surprisingly good. I even put up a PB on my 50 breast - 41.5. Still not as fast as I'd like to be, but I definitely benefitted from the extra turn.

I was briefly really impressed with how many miles I'd put in on the bike this week, until I did the math and realized I wasn't really ahead of pace to put in 1000km before Rideau Lakes. If anything, I need to maintain this pace for the next month and a half.

Well, that will come. For now, I'm taking a couple of days of well-deserved rest!

Group Ride

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The initial group ride of the season was Sunday. The group is organized by a triathlete in the masters swim club. I was a bit nervous, despite assurances via email that it would be an easy 60-90 minute ride.

I thought about running this weekend, but I wanted to get another warmup ride in on Saturday. Ergo, I decided to skip the run, and just focus on getting used to the bike again.

Saturday I just rode around the neighbourhood. I was aiming for 15-20, and wound up with.

I rode the 5k to the meeting point on Sunday. There were about a dozen people there, including one who was riding with clips for the first time. The pace wasn't too bad, though obviously there was a range of abilities and fitness there. The organizer did a good job trying to keep everyone together. After about 45 minutes, the group split in two - one group heading straight back to town, the other riding a bit further. I surprised myself a bit by joining the group that continued on.

Two things did get to me. One, I generally tried to hand back a bit. At times, I found myself in a tight group, and I was nervous - either about someone braking in front of me, forgetting someone was behind me and braking/moving, or forgetting to signal a bump or pothole. The other problem happened later, when I was outside and noticed my arms were red. Oops. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about the sun thing.

The summer-like weather is supposed to persist for at least the early part of the week. Hopefully I'll be able to get some more distance in before the temperatures return to seasonal.

The Return of the Yellow Beast

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Yes, the yellow beast is back from the basement.

I went out for a brief ride on Tuesday. I just wanted to take it around the neighbourhood, see if everything was working. It probably needs a tune-up, but the tires still hold air, so that's good.

This morning I bit the bullet and rode in to work. Whether or not I ride home will depend on how I'm feeling, but right now, it seems like I might not. That was tough - especially on the body parts that don't take well to the first few rides of the year.

I read over the Rideau Lakes literature this morning. I more or less have 50 days left to do the 1000km cycling they recommend to prepare. That's 20km a day. Well, whatever happens, I've hit my quota for today. :)

I'm very, very happy to be back into this. Spring is finally truly here, and now I can start spending more time outdoors again!

Ladybug Power

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Well, for the first week in forever, I'm committed. swim, run, swim, and now bike commute.

I got the wife and kids up and moving this morning, then sat down to breakfast and a tall glass of water. I caught up on my morning reading, and chatted briefly with an old friend while sitting at the computer. After a while, my youngest drifted into the room, and 7 colourful ladybug stickers appeared mysteriously on the back of my hands.

By 8:30, my stomach had settled, and I was off. It was barely over 10 celcius (50 F) out, so the first kilometer was somewhat chilly. When I turned west, I guessed that the wind was behind me, because I started just flying along. When I climbed the overpass over the highway and barely dropped below 25km/h, I was sure of it.

Alas, eventually, I had to turn north. I still felt pretty good, and the nice part about this road is the smooth pavement and either wide paved shoulder or outright bike lane along the entire length. I held 32km/hr into the subdivision, and along a slight downhill. As I reached the point where the slight downhill becomes a slight uphill, I (for reasons unknown) switched to a tougher gear. Suddenly, my legs were working a fair bit harder, but I tried to get my cadence up to something reasonable. The result was a surge up to ~38km/hr. Even once the hill got going, I only dipped down to 35km/h.

It was as though I had suddenly found a tool - something I can use in pursuing all those things I talked about after the marathon. It became a mantra in my head - the courage to attack. I attacked the rest of the way to work, to the point where my quads were aching. The net result was that I was fast, and fairly winded when I got there.

My bike computer reports an average speed of 30.0 km/h over the commute, which might just be a seasonal record. As I headed for the shower, I congratulated myself for riding aggressively, and felt a small sense of accomplishment.

As I took my biking gloves off, what did I see? Ladybug stickers. Hmm... Maybe there's something to them.

Cheating in Cycling

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I confess, I cheated.

Owning 1 vehicle becomes an exercise in compromise. This week, my wife needed the car all week, so I brashly proclaimed that I would commute by bike. All week.

So I stockpiled food at my desk, and brought in some clothes last Friday.

Monday, I got up early for the meteor shower, and was tired all day. Tuesday, I found myself getting tired of a steady diet of granola bars, rice cakes, trail mix and V8. When I woke up from a thunderstorm Tuesday night and couldn't get back to sleep, I overslept my alarm. An opportunity to have my bike and I shuttled to work came up, and I accepted.

Cheater.

So now it's Thursday, and it's raining. Time will tell if I cheat again tonight.

It's been a tough week. I haven't ridden hard, and I've been 16 different forms of hungry. Time and energy seem to be leeching out of me.

Then again, I'm training, albeit somewhat casually. All this suffering has to pay off at some point.

I just want the weekend to come.

I've Been Shot!

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Surprisingly, my legs and butt weren't too sore from Sunday's ride. I was surprised, however, by what did hurt: my neck. Monday morning, I woke up to find that I could barely move my neck. I I was uncomfortable pretty much all day.

I skipped the run I'd been hoping to do Tuesday, mainly because I wanted to sleep in. I blamed my sore neck, though.

Wednesday, I rode to work. Rather than take the long way like last time, I took the short, somewhat trafficy way. I didn't really push the pace, opting mostly to take it easy and enjoy the ride.

At one point, I was riding past a city worker on a riding lawnmower. He was mowing the ditch beside me. Just as I went past, I heard the crunching sound of him kicking up some gravel. Pow! Suddenly, my left index finger felt like it had been shot.

I slammed on the brakes and took a look. I'd been riding in the brake hoods, with my fingers pointed forward. Despite the fact that my index finger was only barely sticking out, a rock had managed to find a way to it, and had hit it just below the first knuckle. I swore a few times, trying to shake out the sting. Looking behind me, the mower was now on the sidewalk, driving away from me. I wondered if he's seen what had happened, and was fleeing the scene. I wasn't really worried - it wasn't really his fault (I'd come up behind him). It was just one of those things. I got (un)lucky.

Neck and finger pains aside, I'm loving riding these days. The weather has been mild, I'm feeling strong, and the summer feels like it will never end.

Altitude

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Overheard on this morning's group ride:

Frank Shorter once said - people seem to think training is like having a plug in your big toe. As soon as you stop training, all the muscle and conditioning just rush out of your body."

It's true, I suppose. I'm guilty of it myself. It's not like I didn't train on vacation, either. But right now, for whatever reason, I have very little expectation when it comes to my level of fitness.

This morning, the tri group was doing a hilly 85km ride. It being the last day of my vacation, I wasn't up for that, but I offered to tag along, and turn back when I needed to. I got all the way to the parking lot at the base of the Gats before turning back, which essentially gave me only 2 hills. The pace was pretty easy on the way out, and after the turnaround, I tried to keep up a steady pace. It helped that the Ottawa River Parkway was closed to cars for the morning, but I found myself flying. It wasn't really comfortable or easy, but I felt strong enough to push myself all the way home.

I ended up riding 48km today, which I'm sure I'll pay for later. Still, it felt very, very good to be out riding.

Early Morning Commute

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Well, I've had a tiny measure of consistency this week. Tuesday's run was nestled betwen morning pushups, situps Monday and Wednesday. To continue my fragile chain of actually doing something, I rode the bike to work today.

I opted to get up at 5am, and leave as soon as possible. The rationale was that I wanted my first real ride of the year (I've done a few short family rides, but they don't count) to avoid busy roads as much as possible. Since the route didn't really allow it, I had to adjust the time.

It was cool out, only 10C (50F). I shivered a bit at first, but warmed up fairly quickly. I completely wasn't in a hurry, opting instead to relax and enjoy the ride. There was very little traffic, especially long the roads that I was a bit nervous about. The drivers that I did encounter were very courteous, giving me a wide berth when they passed me.

I'll definitely need to be a bit better prepared in future weeks, with foot stored at my desk ahead of time. Still, it feels good to finally be commuting responsibly.

I can only hope that I"m more consistent with it this year than I was last year.

NOT a Training Ride

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My plan for today was to ride the bike paths around the city. In places, the traffic is almost exclusively bikes, but along the waterways there are a lot of runners, bladers, and walkers. I'd been meaning to ride from home to the river for a while, but so far I'd always gone south, away from the city. Today, it was time to head for the city. As a result, rather than aiming for a tempo ride, I'd be taking it leisurely.

I also brought my camera. If people thought south of the city was nice, wait til they saw what happened as I went north.

(Warning, long load ahead.)

What Racing Teaches

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My wife needs the vehicle pretty much all this week, so Monday I brought a couple of changes of clothes in to work. The plan was to try to bike commute to work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The advantages to the plan were less gas, less inconvenience for my wife and family, and the training the commutes would provide. The drawbacks....

The forecast called for rain yesterday and today. I shrugged it off, the way I shrug off running in winter. When I woke up on Tuesday, it wasn't raining. The forecasts predicted no rain until 8am, so I wolfed down my breakfast, and was out the door just before 6am.

By 6:05, it had started lightly raining.

By 6:08, the rain was moderate.

So there I was, already wet from the spray from my tires, thinking that I really didn't want to be there. It occurred to me, though, that there woud be no hiding from the rain. I was already a few kilometers out, and the forecast called for the rain to increase, not decrease. There would be no waiting out the rain. There was no shelter, only my destination. It became my mantra - no shelter, just my destination. I had no choice but to go forwards.

In a way, I reflected, it was just another tough training run. You're uncomfortable, you need to run to the end, but then you're done.

By around 6:20, the rain was back to light rain, and I wasn't noticing it anymore. By around 7:00, I was at work, and ready to reward myself with a hot shower and change of clothes.

Though it was sunny by the time I was ready to leave work, I wasn't looking forward to the ride. I was tired, in an "I've exercised enough" way. I got on my bike, took it easy, and made it home. No sprints, no attacking the hills, just a commute. Then I showered, ate dinner, and went to bed. Didn't even have dessert.

I woke up before my alarm this morning. I had a leisurely (read: lazy) breakfast, and finally got rolling around 7am. I was still feeling bleh, but could not find a reasonable way out of what I had to do.

Since the rain was forecast for this afternoon, and since I need more clothes and food at work anyways, I convinced myself that I'd get my wife to pick me up, bike and all, after work. Then, since I knew I needed to break my habit of only riding 20km at a time, I took the long way back into work.

I started slowly, hands on the tops of the handlebars, meandering through the neighbourhood. When I finally got to the country roads, I set a decent, but in no way fast, pace. Somehow, I just kept rolling, until I cadenced myself up the hill on Richmond, and flew down Hope Side road. If the ride was 50% longer than usual, there was no mental shuffling of feet once I got going. I did what I had to do.

So that's it. Three not-fast rides in two days. Yet, somehow, I'm getting a pretty strong feeling of accomplishment from them.

The Long Way Home

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Who's to care if you're feeling good?

My haphazard training continues. Rather than have my triathlon training dictate my schedule, I'm trying to fit it in around the actually important stuff.

Somehow, I talked myself out of swimming this week. Monday I woke up with my back hurting a bit. It occurred to me that I'd swam the day before, so I could probably be excused if I skipped. Wednesday, I had been up late watching the tour. I told myself I could sleep in a bit, go for a run, then swim Thursday. I was only ever planning on swimming twice a week anyways, right?

Thursday had never been an option all along, though, because I was taking a half day off work, and hoping to leave by 11am. Ergo, I had to get up and get to work early. Ergo, no swim. How convenient that I forgot about this until I'd stepped out for my run Wednesday morning.

The good news is that my running and cycling have compensated nicely. I commuted by bike Tuesday and today (Friday), and ran on Wednesday and Thursday. I can't remember the last time I ran two days in a row. Weird.

Today was one of those classic "I don't feel like riding to work" days. I slept in, dallied around the house, then finally, resigned to the fact that my wife needed the car anyways, off I went. I aimed to take it easy on the ride in, just like I had on Tuesday (total leisure ride, and it showed in my times), but I cheated once or twice when the pavement was smooth and I felt good. Oh well.

At work, a plot occurred to me. I opened gmap pedometer and did some quick calculations. Then I quickly closed it and went back to work.

When I finally left work, the wind positioned itself solidly at my back. I flew down Terry Fox, which is never difficult. The pavement is smooth, and while it undulates a bit, it starts with a downhill. The uphill on Hope Side Road was a pain, but the reward, as always, was the downhill on Richmond Road, though Fallowfield village. There's something awesome about having a nice wide, smooth paved shoulder, a downhill, and the wind at your back. I was comfortably into the 40s (km/h) the whole way down. At the bottom, where the slight uphill starts, I checked the lights. When they turned green, I picked it up a bit, and went through just as they turned yellow. Home, and my usual route, lay to my left.

There was a certain joy to continuing down Richmond road. The pavement was smooth and well maintained. There was little traffic, and it generally had the room and courtesy to swing into the oncoming lane. Even the city bus moved completely into the oncoming lane as it went by me. The road was a slight uphill, or so it looked, as it closed in on the Jock river. I held very steady at 37-38km/hr. All I could think was "so this is cycling. This is what it's supposed to feel like. Not that start, stop, clip, unclip, is that truck behind me going to blow me off the road?" Over and over. Awesome.

When I finally made the bridge, I felt like stopping. I felt like celebrating what I'd just done. But, of course, I wasn't home yet. Back on Twin Elm, I tried to recapture my pace, this time without the hill to kickstart me. I got back up to 37, but it wasn't quite the same. Close, though.

When I found my turn, I lost the tailwind. The wind was now a crosswind, but I was now truly on my own. The rare car passed me in the oncoming lane, having plenty of time to move out and back. I rode first past cornfields taller than my head, then a wheat field, then a cattle pasture. The slightly rolling hills hurt me. This is hard, I reminded myself. With no tailwind, I was less exultant, but the ride was no less fun. I was still a domestique in the Tour. I was still a Joe in my own personal time trial.

When I hit Greenback (sooner than expected), I turned north, and into the wind. It hammered my chest, demanding that I pay the toll for my speed on Richmond. It invoked the laws of physics, demanding its due. I was slower, but still I worked with that constant determination. The world was reduced to wind in my ears, and a constant effort. Why was I working so hard? That was a question, and questions (and thoughts) had no place in the roar of the wind. I did, I was. Thought was for Descartes.

Finally, I hit my neighbourhood, and turned onto a busy street. As I pedalled up the hill, with its bumpy pavement, wondering when the first car would blow by me, it occurred to me to wonder why I was doing this. Surely there was a back way home that would have more smooth pavement, and less cars? And so it was.

It took me quite a while to recover, once I got home. I huffed, puffed, showered, ate, and sat down to blog. I put the jukebox on, and Hurt gave way to Matthew Sweet, Marathon, Today and Couldn't Stand the Weather, as I looked for my uplifted mood to be reflected in song.

It's Friday, and I'm in a happy place. Life is good.

Impromptu Sunday

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I didn't lift a, er, leg, all last week. Coudln't for a while, then revelled in not doing it even if I could for a bit longer.

Sunday morning, I slept in too late to meet up with anyone at the Running Room. Oh well. I got up, settled in in front of the computer, and schemed about getting my family out for a bike ride. Once everyone was up, I suggested to my wife that we bring the bikes down to one of the parkways, which are closed to car traffic Sunday mornings. Alas, she wasn't interested.

Determined to get out, I decided to ask my son if he wanted to tag along. He had his nose in a game, and declined. Surprising. I thought about talking him into it, but decided I'd let him decide his own path. So upstairs I went, and got changed into my spiffy new cycling gear.

In walks my wife. "I don't really want to go downtown, but I could do a short bike ride around here."

"Great!" I think, despite a slight lack of enthusiasm. I inform both kids we're going, bring my bike to the garage, and start inflating tires. I'm on my last tire when my wife finally comes out. Off we go!

We follow Forest Gate out to Leikin, and stop at the reservoir. After a short break to look at the water, we head back out. The wind from the east was pretty nasty, so my wife decides we're turning around. We duck into the JDS parking lot to do so, and I take the opportunity, since nobody is around, to stretch my legs. I leave my position as rearguard, and put on a burst of speed, just for fun.

Around the corner, we find huge, huge, empty parking lots. This appeals to my son (game long forgotten) immensely, and he starts riding around at top speed, aiming for the puddles, yelling "I'm soaked, and I don't care!" My wife gets into it, pulling the bike trailing with my youngest through puddles, until he decides that he does care. Me? I alternated sprinting in huge circles and riding alongside the one or the other. Suddenly, our voyage had turned into play, and everyone was happy.

Eventually, my wife and I took a break, sitting on the curb under some trees, while the kids ran around. The eldest, already soaked up and down his back, danced and hopped through as many puddles he could find, while the youngest just ran.

Eventually, we packed up and made our way home. My wife thanked me for "dragging" or "guilting" her into riding. My son's laughter every time we mentioned how wet or muddy he was was its own reward. Being flexible and playing by ear had led us to a better ride than any of us had expected.

We all ended up doing between 8 and 10km, too. Not bad, especially considering that it wasn't very long ago that the kids complained that a 5km ride was way too far.

Sightseeing Commute

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My plan all week was to bike commute to work on Wednesday. I checked the weather on Tuesday morning, and everything looked good. When I told a colleague about my plans later in the day, he asked if I'd checked the weather. According to him, it was supposed to rain.

I finally checked early Wednesday. The forecast? 30% chance of rain in the morning, clearing and warming up. Well, that I could live with.

I work my running pants and jacket over a running tee and tri shorts, and set out around 10 after 6. I was only a few km in when it started to drizzle. Figures! Still, I thought, if that was as hard as it rained, it would probably be fine. Which, for the most part, it was.

Rather than my usual country roads commute, I opted to cut through Steeple Hill. Mostly, I was after a change of scenery, and maybe avoiding some traffic. Although the path looked hillier, it occurred to me that it might follow the crest of the hill (it didn't). It also occurred to me that that path might be a bit shorter (it was, maybe as much as 800m shorter).

I got to see a nice mix of estate houses, nice houses (an old style stone house which I think was actually new, with black shutters, stole my heart) and churches (3 in one town!) was much better eye candy than open fields of tilled earth.

All in all, the ride was pretty slow, but I was amazed at how good I felt when I arrived. Plus, someone commented on how nice my bike was when I got to work.

The ride home was less positive. My left knee started bothering me, on the outside behind the ITB. No idea why. Also, all those nice right hand turns on the Steeple Hill ride became an annoying number of left hand turns.

All in all, though, I was pretty happy to have gotten to ride. Hopefully, once the marathon is past, I'll commute often and regularly on the bike.

Cycling in New England

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In some circles, it's considered wimping out to drive to a location just to bike there. The theory is that you should ride from home, ride the location, then ride home. I think that in this case, I can be excused for wimping out.

I was out the door at 5:30, and headed east. There's an old adage about never living east of where you want to go for the day, because you'll always have the sun in your eyes. Yeah, it happened, but I also got to see some pretty nice morning skies.

DrivingToNE1.jpg

After a while, the words turned funny, then the numbers did. But nothing told me that I was in a strange new world quite like the scenery. They don't have hills like this in southern Ontario.

DrivingToNE2.jpg

Saddle

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Sunday, the family went for a bike ride together. We hooked up the trailer to my as yet unnamed bike, and the whole family went for a quick spin around the neighbourhood. We ended up going 6km, which felt short to me but long to everyone else. It was a reasonable 10 degrees outside, though I still dressed warmly.

Yesterday, I was admiring the 18 degree weather from my office, and seriously thinking about trying to fit in a ride before dinner. On the drive home, I passed my family out running errands on the bike. I really didn't need any more incentive than that. I put on my tri shorts and Around the Bay tee, and off I went. After an around-the-block with the family, I took off for a short ride of my own. (I was already feeling the saddle, and didn't want to go too far too soon.)

I opted for a modified version of my usual 5km running loop. I tried to keep my speed up, and was able to hold ~35 km/hr for a bit. Once I turned around, I was lucky to hold 30 km/h into the breeze. I was gasping for air, and tiring quickly, but loving it.

Oh, this is going to be a fun summer.

Biking to Work

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Ok, now I know why the out-of-town route felt so much faster than the in-town route. The in-town route is almost 4km longer.

I'm super-happy with this morning's swim. 6x100 freestyle on 2:15, and all repetitions were within 3-4 seconds of 1:45. Yay me!

Long Ride

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I was determined to get in a long ride while I was on vacation. I didn't really come up with much of a route in advance, so I ended up just winging it.

The computer cheats!

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It took me a day or two, but I figured it out. My ride times were suspiciously fast, and I knew it wasn't the new route.

The computer only counts time when the bike is moving.

Computer

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I picked up my bike on Monday, all nicely tuned up, and with a new toy installed. I bought a computer - a Cateye Velo 8 (similar to this one). It's a tiny little thing, I could probably cover it completely with two thumbs. It's basically a fancy spedometer, giving current, average and max speed, as well as trip distance and time.

The Long Way Home

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I left work Thursday night, on my bike. On a whim, I decided to try an alternate way home. Rather than winding through the recreational paths through the city, I decided to take the country roads home.

Tales of a Cycling N00b

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After work yesterday, I headed downtown to check out a bike shop. I was in the market for triathlon shorts. Having only recently discovered why cycling shorts are different from running shorts (why, oh why, didn't I know this 20 years ago?), I felt a little overwhelmed walking in the door.

I told my brother-in-law the other day that I'm convinced that high-end riders are technophiles - living and breathing for the latest technology or material breakthrough. I'm not going to tell you that I'm immune from this phenomenon in general (computers), but I think I'm still grounded enough to see multi-thousand dollar bikes as excessive, if not ridiculous.

To Work!

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I biked to work this morning. I felt much better than my first attempt a few weeks back. I was over 10 minutes quicker, too. The new tires were great, and the new water bottle holder was handy, too.

I feel like a million bucks right now! (Well, maybe not my quads, but in general.)

Getting My Hands Dirty

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On the way home from work, I stopped in at a local bike shop. Thanks to some advice from Jank, I was in the market for some slick tires, to replace my knobby tires.

Old tires:
100_0066.JPG

Yes, they're different treads. One was a temporary fix a while back.

New tires:
100_0072.JPG

The Ride Home

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Rabbits: 1
Groundhogs: A dozen or so
Deer: 6
Saddle-sore butt: 1
Sore knees: 1
Early bedtime: Yes

Brick (sort of)

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Two signs you're in for a tough swim. One, the warmup is "choice". Two, you finish the first set, and the board says "Sissies go home now".

Yikes!

Taming the Beast

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I took the beast off the rack tonight.

100_0049.JPG

I put air in the tires, and gave it a wipedown. Assuming the air stays in the tires, I'll probably ride it sometime this week, likely to work and back.

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