Archive | June 2013

M.I.A

For those following my blog, I wanted to let everyone know that I am still around.

Been a crazy busy couple of weeks between the move to the new house, working with clients and running around getting stuff for the new house.

Tomorrow we are off to Toronto to pick-up Renee’s new car. Next week we have the Bell Fibe phone/Internet/tv installed, gas appliances installed and Urbandale will be by to take care of a few items for In the house for us. With any luck by the end of next week, life will return to normal.

I will return to regular blogging next week with a number if blogs on what has been happening since I lasted posted. I also look forward to catching up with those of you that I have been following.

For my Canadian friends and followers, have a safe and enjoyable Canada Day long weekend.

Until next time…..Keep your stick on the ice.

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It’s All About the Fit

When I purchased Bonnie (Cervelo S2) in September 2012 the bike shop performed a rudimentary bike fit for seat position, seat height and cleat position. The whole process start to finish took about 20 minutes. Being new to a road bike, I was impressed with the service and did not know how much went into setting up a road bike. I thought I would just go into the store, pick up the bike and ride away, just like when I was a kid.

While reading one of the many triathlone or cycling magazines, I came across an article about getting a proper bike fit. I found the article very interesting but did not pay much more attention to it as I thought that this was something that pros just had done. Then a couple of months later, there was yet another article about bike fit and what you should be looking for in a bike fitting professional. This got me thinking that maybe there might such professionals in the Ottawa area and that I should have a look at maybe getting a bike fit done. A quick google search showed that there were several professional bike fitters in the area with varying degrees of qualifications.

I made contact with four to five bike fitters to get a sense of their qualifications and the costs associated with getting a fit done. Just to cover my bases, I posted on Facebook and a couple of triathlone message boards to see if anyone had a recommendation for a bike fit professional. Time and time again the name of Mary Paterson from Bike2Body came up as the go to person for a bike fit in Ottawa. I had hoped to get the bike fit done prior to doing the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour but her services were so much in demand that I had to wait 3 weeks to get an appointment. Just so happens that it was a week after the RLCT, but better later than never.

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My appointment was set for 7:00 am on Friday morning which is great for me as I am an early riser and like to get the importants in the day done early. From the moment I met Mary, I could tell she was someone who really enjoys what she does as well as a true professional. Mary walked me through how the process was going to work and what the intended out come should look like.

The first thing Mary did was to take a number of body measurements and I was surprise to learn that my arm span was longer than my height and that I have very long femurs. Both of these measurements will have a big impact on how I was to be set up on the bike. Now it was time to jump on the bike for the first of many videos to see how I looked on my bike. Mary uses a software called Dartfish. It is pretty darn cool seeing her connect the dots to get the angles she needed to assist in making adjustments on me and the bike. The first adjustment we made was on my cycling shoes where it was discovered that I need new cleats as the one I currently have do not have enough float in them to allow my legs to move as freely as they need to. I need cleats that have 9 degrees of float or “red” cleats, so it will be off to the  bike store sometime this week.

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Next we worked on seat post height. As I had thought prior to going to see Mary, that my seat post was a little low and that it did not allow for full leg extention. It is amazing how a small adjustment of 2-4mm on a seat post could make such a difference. Even with these first two adjustments I could already feel a difference on the bike. Due to the long fermurs that I have, my seat was set back at its’ furtherest position available but a one degree nose down adjustment was required to sit on the saddle properly. Once I hopped back on the saddle I could tell right away that this adjustment was going to make for more pleasurable rides in the future.

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It was now time to work on the front end of the bike. We went through a number of position of the handle bars before deciding on one that was both comfortable and that allowed me to operate the brakes and gear levers with ease. Not only did Mary make adjustments on the handle bars up and down but also made adjustments in and out on the “hoods”.  Hopefully this will help stop the numbing in the hands that I get from time to time.

After about three hours of making adjustments and taking videos, it was time to see what the final product looked like. Seeing the before and after videos was enough to make me a believer in the benefits of a proper bike fit. I also went for a spin around the block and right away I felt so much more comfortable in the saddle. It is going to be a pleasure to go on long rides again.

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When you leave Marys’ clinic you just do not leave with your bike adjusted, but you get a diagram showing all the measurements so you can set up future bikes as well she sends you the video clips with attached notes of the fit process. If you are serious about cycling then a proper bike fit is a must and if you are in Ottawa, then I can highly recommend the services of Mary Paterson. So let’s hope for a long riding season this year!

Until next time…………When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.~Arthur Conan Doyle

Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour 2013 Part 2

Day two of the Rideau Lake Cycle Tour saw us awaken to sunny skies and calm winds which was great compared to the day before. I was up and about at 5:00 a.m as I was meeting a number of my fellow riders for breakfast at 5:30 a.m. I did not get a great nights sleep, not because of the injuries but due to the bed matres being so hard. I have slept on some hard mattresses in my time but this one certainly takes the cake. Before I went to bed on Saturday night  I made myself a promise that if my hip and shoulder were too painful to ride, that I would take the train or rent a car to get home. Luckily when I awoke I felt pretty darn good, just the normal post 177Km ride soreness.

At 5:30 a.m, I met Pita(Laura) and Darren in the lobby of our dorm to head over to the dining hall for breakfast and make our plans for the day. It was the usual breakfast fare to eat but I can tell you the table with the boxes and boxes of banana took a beating. After 30 years of organizing this event, the Ottawa Bicycle Club know what the riders would eat the most. I say that the food served at Queens was hot, plentiful and more or less tasty. Bellies full it was back to the dorm to pack the bag and head to the rallying point for our return trip. We met at the same place where we ended the before trip the day before. The area was a beehive of activity from people pumping up tires to doing minor repairs on their bikes and a lot of people walking around like lost sheep trying to find friends.

993087_10201445586486794_578222755_nOur group getting ready for the return trip to Ottawa. Photo courtesy Alastair Warwick

With the gang already to go we struck out for another long day on the bike. We started out as a group but it sure did not take long to get separated. The reason for this was that so many groups left at the same time that groups were mixing into one another at stop lights and major intersections. The group tried to get back together again just outside of Kingston, but again due to the high volume of riders, I got separated from our main riding group. The route from Kingston to Westpost is a challenge even for the most seasoned rider as we hit hills right away. The hill climbs certainly tested my hip right away and it did not take too long before I started to feel the effects of my injuries but I soldiered on.

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Our first stop of the day was 28k from Kingston at the Perth Road Store, an unofficial rest stop for many years, for a short break, a few pictures and to get some liquids into the system which was going to be very important on this day.

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The Perth Road Store

From this point, it would be another 29Km to Westport and the dreaded Westport Hill. Before getting to the Westport hill though, there are more hills and  it was over these hills that I started to feel a good amount of pain in my hip. While cycling on the flats, my hip gave me very little problem, but on the hill I guess due to the added effort needed to climb the hills, I was putting more pressure on the hip-joint. For the most part now, I was totally separated from the group as I could not maintain the pace going up the hills so where I could, I joined other groups to help me make my way to Westport.

The first official rest stop was at a community centre just a few kms from Westport and I managed to reconnect with the group for a little bit. The heat of the day was starting to build so given my track record with dehydration I took the opportunity to drink as much fluid as possible and then refill my bottles for the next leg of the journey. Again, I started out with my group but it did not take long for them to lose me on the hills which I fully expected to happen. Then we hit the Westport hill!! I am not sure if it was just me but this hill was brutal and I thought some of the hills in the Gatineaus were tough. As I was making the climb I kept telling myself, “after this hill, it is all down hill from there, after this hill, it is all down hill from there”, I am good at lying to myself. It was more or less downhill from there other than the a number of rolling hills leading into Perth. I found myself riding alone for a long period of time, other than when a large group of fast bikers flew by me, which meant I was working harder than when I was in a group so I going through my liquids pretty fast. About 10km out of Perth, a lovely couple allowed me to draft them all the way into Perth.

Once in Perth, I thanked them and met up with most of my group who were by this time getting ready to head out. Luckily, three people from my group had only arrived a short time before I did and decided to stay a little longer. Again I had  what tasted like the best PB&J sandwich ever and a lot of juice to refill the energy stores. Finding a place to rest and kicking off the bike shoes felt so good that I did not want to get up but I had a goal to complete so I did not rest too long or I would not start again.

Rested and refueled, I headed out with Amira, Andree-Anne and Marc for the last 75kms to home. As we started out, I mentioned to the group that if it was ok with them, that I would stay at the back of the pack as I would be slow and have to stand a lot stretch out my hip. They were ok with that and I was much appreciative to them for that. We were not long out of Perth and Amira noticed that Marc’s’ back wheel was wobbling pretty darn bad so we all pulled over to have a look. Well the wheel was missing a spoke so the tire was no longer true. Marc decided to return to Perth to see if he could get fixed , then catch up with us and if not, he would catch a ride home with someone. So the three of us continued onto the next rest stop in Ashton. The route to Ashston was a very long gradual down grade with a few rolling hills thrown in for good measure. The heat of the day was really starting to build and along with it, the wind. Sometimes the wind was in our face and other times at our back which was great to help the kms fly by. The last 5km into Ashton seemed to take forever, especially with a long hill to climb before getting into Ashton.

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Enjoying a Mr.Freeze in Ashton  Picture courtesy of Alastair Warwick.

By the time we got to Ashton, I was good and ready for a nice long rest as well as to cool down. Marc got in touch with Andree-Anne to let her know that he was on his way to Ashton. This worked out great as it meant that we would have an extra long break while waiting for Marc. I drank a lot of water as I felt like I was over heating and even took the hose to pour water over my head and neck. I found a nice piece of soft grass under a shade tree to lie down and relax for a bit. The little store at the rest stop was making a small fortune on selling Mr.Freezes to all the tired and hot bikers. From the time we got to Ashton and Marc’s arrival, about 30 minutes had elapsed. Once Marc felt rested, we were off for the final 35km to Ottawa.

The last 35km to Ottawa was very uneventful though very hot. The rest did me well as we were able to maintain about a 30km pace most of the way back into Ottawa. The last few kms seemed to take forever as we did not catch one traffic light. It was great to see the Algonquin College sign as that meant the end of the journey. I dropped my bike at the Venza, headed in to sign out and collect my bag. This marked the end of my first but not last RLCT.

I made my way home to get a shower and then a soak in the tub to help relax my body. Once cleaned off, it was time to inspect my injuries again to see how nasty they were. The hip pained the most on the ride so I was going be most interested to see that injury the most.

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Hip bruise 1 day after the crash about the size of a 5 pin bowling ball (it is only getting uglier)

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A little bit of road rash. Sign of a true cyclist

I was not able to get a good picture of my shoulder but there is a nice bruise there as well. Even with all the bumps and bruises, I was surprised at how well I felt after doing 350km in the saddle.

So what was my overall impressions of the RLCT:

Good

1. Riding with great friends and making some new friends

2. Learning how to ride in a large pack from the experienced people

3. Seeing some great country

4. Food along the route and at Queens

5. Cold beer at the end of each day

6. The support along the route

Not So Good

1. Accommodations at Queens (hard beds)

2. The registration process at Algonquin (could not see which line I need to be in)

3. Signage (could have been a little better for the cyclist and letting motorist know that there were a lot of cyclist on the road)

Bad

1. Attitude of some of the cyclist that think they own the road

2. Attitude of some of the motorist that think they own the road

3. Lack of courtesy of some cyclists

I look forward to doing this tour again next year as well as doing others this year.

Until next time…………“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them”.?–Ernest Hemingway

Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour 2013 Part 1

995807_10201445589766876_873804722_nSometime in late 2012 after one of our long slow distance runs for the Around the Bay run, someone mentioned a cycle tour that happens each June that goes from Ottawa to Kingston. Having just bought a serious road bike and renewing my passion for cycling, this sounded like a great goal for 2013. I am truly lucky to find two great friends through my running group at the Running Room that share the same passion for cycling as much as I do. Laura, or Pita as she is called by a number of people now because of my other friend Darren, started riding together late in the fall of 2012. We managed to get in some excellent riding before the snow ended our season and we could not wait to get back out on the road again in the spring of 2013.

It was through Laura that I came to learn about another group from the Running Room that go out for group rides each Saturday or during the week when schedules permit. This group is headed up by Alistair who plans a route that for some strange reason always seems to find a pub to stop at on the ride or end at one. A great planner is Alastair. Alastair took the lead in planning a training schedule that would prepare riders for the 350KM journey from Ottawa to Kingston and back over two days. Unfortunately for me, my schedule got super busy with the spring housing market and I could only get out for a couple of rides. The Ottawa Bicycle Club that organizes this tour suggests that you have completed at least 1000km in the spring before attempting to complete this tour. Well, I came up really short on the distance, only getting 550km but I did manage to get in a couple of good long rides in so I am sure that helped.

On Thursday I headed off to my favorite bike shop to load up on some goodies for the trip and when I got home, it was time to put Bonnie in the stand for a little cleaning and tune up. She was in good shape so not a lot to do other than make sure the chain was lube and the brakes in good working order. Friday came and I am sure that I must have check the weather forecast a hundred times during the day. Now, I cannot change the weather but I certainly can be prepared for it so I laid out clothes that would suit different weather conditions. The forecast was calling for temperatures in the 17-21C range with rain. Depending on which forecast you looked at, it was either going to be a lot of rain or drizzle. As the evening approached, my excitement built as I packed my bag and loaded Bonnie in the Venza for an early morning commute over to Algonquin College.

At 5:00 a.m, the alarm sounded but I was already wide awake and ready to go. As I looked out the window, I was glad to see that the rain had stopped and the wind was next to nothing. Having had breakfast, I made one last check to make sure I had everything that I needed for the trip and made my way to Algonquin. On the trip over to Algonquin I encountered a very heavy mist and I started my internal debate of whether to wear a jacket or not as the temperature was warm at 18C. Upon arriving at Algonquin and unpacking the Venza, I made the decision not to wear a jacket but to go with a bike jersey, arm warmers and bike shorts. It was the right call as I would have been too warm had I worn the jacket. Our group of 30 +/- a couple slowly trickled into the parking lot and the staging area where there was great debate about what to wear. Everyone made the best decision for them and it was time to get to the registration desk to pick up the tour bibs.

Registration all completed we gathered our group to hit the open road for what was going to be the beginning of two great days of riding (mostly). The first leg of the day would be 35km from Ottawa out to the small community of Ashton and it was mostly flat. This first leg allowed us to break up into smaller manageable groups so that we could get use to riding in a group. The group managed to set a good pace of around 30Km/h even with the rain/mist and having to pick our way through some of the slower groups. By the time we got into Ashton it seemed as though everyone got comfortable with riding in a group and people started to get to know one another. We made our stop in Ashton just long enough to get all the groups together again before heading out to Perth.

Once again, the route from Ashton to Perth was relatively flat traveling through farm land and cottage country. For the most part the weather was holding and we only encountered just a few lite showers and the winds were non-exsistant. Coming out of Ashton, a group of nine of us got into a formation of 4×2 with a trailer at the back. This was an awesome group as we were all in sync rotating to the front to take our turn as the lead riders. Before we knew it, we were in Perth which marked the half way point and time for lunch. A local service group had sandwiches, cookies and fruit for sale. For me, there is nothing better than a good ole PB&J sandwich to help restore the energy reserves which will be much-needed in the last 95km. I also made sure to drink some fruit juice, water and ate a banana as well. The group decided that a 30 minute break in Perth was long enough to refuel and let the legs relax before hitting the hills ahead.

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Ashton Rest Stop

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Rest and Lunch Stop in Perth

Coming out of Perth we tried to get back into the same groups as when we arrived but a bunch of us got caught up in groups of other riders. It took a little bit but we did manage to regroup. The road for Perth to Westport is twisty and narrow which really does not allow for two abreast riding with comfort, for that reason we went single file for a good distance. Once we thought it was safe to return to two abreast riding, we got back in our group about 15Km from Westport. It was shortly after reforming into side by side riding that it happened!! I clipped the back wheel of the rider in front of me and I was not able to maintain control so down I went. It happened so fast I could not remember if there was anyone behind me or not so I was expecting to get hit or have another biker on top of me in any second, luckily that did not happen. I got up pretty quickly to inspect myself and Bonnie for damage. Well it would appear that Bonnie fared far better than I did. All Bonnie needed was an adjustment of the left brake handle, where as I had one painful left hip, road rash on my left leg and shoulder. Though I was a little hurt, I felt good enough to continue onto Kingston. The accident was 100% my fault as I stayed into too big of a gear going up the hill. What I should have done was follow the rider in front of me and when she down shifted, I should have down shifted so that I did not power up into the back of her bike like I did.

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Rest Stop in Westport

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The visible injury

I had to put the accident out of my mind and get back into the saddle to climb the big hills that were just ahead in Westport. The climb up the hill was uneventful but it sure was hard. But as the saying goes, what goes up must come down so coming down the back side of the Westport hill was fast and exciting. At the bottom of the hill, most of the riders stop at the local gas station for a break and a little something to eat. I took the opportunity to check myself out again to see if any of my injuries had gotten any worse but from what I could tell all was ok.  With the break over, it was time to get back on the road for the final push up the hills into Kingston.

The Westport to Kingston section of the route is marked by a number of hills and this was the only section so far in the ride that I found the riders to not be riding responsibly. Going up the hills I could see riders spread out three and four wide not allowing cars to pass by easily. I could understand why some of the drivers were a little pissed off getting stuck behind riders, this happened time and time again. The reason for this could have been due to the fact it was late in the day and the weaker riders were clogging up the hills so the stronger riders needed to get by. Still not an excuse for dangerous riding. I am surprised that there was not more accidents on some of the hills given the congestion.

About 10km out I was starting to feel the effects of my accidents and I was getting very tired as well. All I could think about at this point was a nice cold beer that was now about 20-25 minutes away. Little did I know that there was going to be one more nasty hill to climb to test my resolve before I got to that beer. Getting to the top of that hill and seeing Queens University in the distance was one welcoming site. Knowing that there was a beer with my name on it, I got a little extra peep in my legs and powered into Queens. What a sense of accomplishment knowing I had completed my longest one day bike ride ever.

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A well deserved beer

After having a cold beer, it was now time for a very hot shower to get rid of the three inches of road grime off of my skin. The hot water felt so good that I stayed in the shower for a good 20 minutes. Feeling half human again, it was off to have something to eat at the Queens dining hall. There was the usually food to choose from plus a lot of goodies to carb load for the next day as well. After dinner, most of the group gathered in one of the dorms common room to enjoy a glass of wine and chat about the day that was. I was so exhausted  I decided to call it a night at 8:30 and head to my dorm room for the night. The dorm room was far from what I would call deluxe accommodations, more like an upgraded jail cell but it was for one night so what the heck. Given how tired I was, I could have slept on a park bench.

Stayed tuned for the second part tomorrow about the return trip.