Camp PedalWORKS … 🤔

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When I was a young boy, before mom and dad purchased their own place, we spent numerous summer weekends at my uncles cottage on Balsam Lake. I swam, fished, fetched water at the community water pump, and walked the forested lakeside roads careful to avoid any poison ivy. I had fun but was always alone. I have no siblings, and there were no other children my age staying at the nearby cottages. I often sat on the dock peering at the children’s camp across the lake, watching them play, swim, learn to canoe and sail, and sing songs every night in front of a large bonfire. I always wanted to go to camp, but never did.

I still spend a lot of time alone. As an only child you quickly learn to amuse yourself. I never get bored, or have enough time in the day to do all I want. I spend a lot of time at the cottage alone. I prefer it. There is always something to do. Swim. Kayak. Fish. Read. And cycle of course. I love the quiet, scenic, rural roads.

I think of my time at the cottage as a training camp. When I am here, I am usually training for an upcoming cycling event. And, because I have no distractions, I can focus on training. I cycle a lot. Eat better. Simple, wholesome meals. Eat less, usually losing 10 pounds when I am here. And, I sleep better. All of the activity, and the fresh air tires me out, making me rise and fall with the sun.

I have been doing this for a decade now, so often in fact, that I have begun to call the place Camp PedalWORKS. I am going to have a sign made, mount it on an old painted bicycle, and place it at the entrance by the road. That way people can find me more easily. Next season I’m going to organize weekly rides for other road cyclists in the area interested in training for one of the local century rides.

We will begin and end every ride at Camp PedalWORKS followed with a cold beer and swim 😂

Do you want to sign up?

Remember me … 🤔

Remember me?

I have been remiss. For the past few weeks I have had family visiting at the cottage, and little time to post. They left at the beginning of the week, so I’m back 😂

A lot has happened in the past 3 weeks. We caught a lot of fish. Northern Pike and Smallmouth bass mostly. We paddled and explored the water in the canoe and kayak. We enjoyed shoreline fires in the evening watching the sunset glisten off the water. I read several murder mysteries. The perfect cottage read. And, we swam continually. Summer finally arrived in these parts.

I cycled most days, 35-75 kilometres, visited the gym at least once a week to do squats, and lunges, in preparation for the Horseshoe Valley Century ride. I completed the century ride last weekend, and was pleased with my result, but was surprised with all of the climbing, 1,200 metres of it throughout the entire course. I finished in 4 hours, averaging just under 25 kph, and felt good afterward. My goal this summer was to complete the century in good time (I was happy with it), and get down to 160 pounds. I tipped 161 on the scales today, so not far off, with a week left. My optimum cycling weight is 155-160 pounds. All of this is in preparation for the Whistler GranFondo in September. It is a 122 km course with 1,900 metres of climbing. Longer, and more climbing.

And, I buzzed my beard off, the day after saying how much I liked it. I was by myself, got the buzzer out, and decided I needed a change. I liked it but have to admit it was a food magnet. I no longer have any grey 😂 and am told I look younger. That’s a good thing. Right? I thought I might lose all my strength, but completed this morning’s ride in record time with less effort. Maybe the beard was slowing me down.

I track a lot of numbers. I’m a slave to them. But they keep my training focused. Among other things, I record my resting heart rate (RHR) first thing every morning. I use it to determine if I am adequately recovered for another workout. 2 months ago when I first arrived at the cottage to train (Camp PedalWORKS), I was pleased if I recorded a RHR in the mid forties. 42 was unusual. After 2 months of “polarized” training and regular gym visits, my RHR is often in the 30’s. I have seen it as low as 34 bpm. This morning it was 37. The new normal. This tells me that regular cycling, cottage life, and being alone more frequently agrees with me.

It has been a good visit this year.

 

No bike should look like this … 🤔

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No bike should look like this.

This bike looks like it is ignored. Like no-one cares.

Well, it’s not. It’s my good carbon bike. I simply can’t keep it clean for very long. Every ride it gets like this. There is so much dirt and moisture on the roads, it looks like this every time, no matter how frequently I wash it.

You have to understand. This is not me. Not my bike. I am fastidious about keeping all of the bikes spotless, and in good working order. I wash and tune them, even when they don’t need it. Some say I’m obsessed. I can’t help it. I like to look at, and ride, a clean, well tuned bike.

My road bikes don’t usually see wet weather. They stay inside where it is dry, and warm unless the weather is sunny, and dry. Here at the cottage, I have no choice. I just have the one bike. My good carbon bike. So, I either sit inside, or get it dirty. I choose to ride, and deal with the dirt and grime afterward.

In fact, I have become less fastidious. Less obsessive. I don’t always wash it after every ride. I know it will only get dirty tomorrow. So, I only wash it a few times a week, usually waiting for a hot, sunny afternoon when I can put my bathing suit on, and luxuriate in the sun at the same time. At first, I felt guilty. No bike deserves to rest dirty. But then I realized it didn’t really matter. A little dirt isn’t going to hurt for a day, maybe two. If the dirt affected braking or gearing, I would certainly clean it. But otherwise, I relax.

What’s happening?

Am I becoming less obsessive? Am I relaxing a little? Is this what cottage time does?

OMG. What’s next 😂

A 4-week training schedule … 🤔

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I am on a 4 week training schedule. I begin the month with a week with more rest, and less intensity. As the weeks progress, I gradually increase the duration, and intensity of the workouts, building on the previous month’s efforts.

I have just completed week 4. This week will see more rest, and less intensity. I will still cycle, but will reduce the mileage, ride 4 days instead of 5 or 6. And, I’ll still visit the gym, but do fewer reps. This is a recovery week.  A week enabling the body to fully recover from the stresses of the past four weeks.

This is also a time to reflect on the past 4 week cycle. I track a lot of numbers. Too many numbers some think. I track my weekly sleep patterns, RHRs, average speed, and time spent in each heart rate training zone. I do this to see if my fitness is improving, or not. This way I can adjust my workout schedule accordingly.

This is what I discovered.

  1. I lost 6 pounds. One of my objectives was to get to my optimum weight by the end of July which means I need to lose 4 more pounds.
  2. My average resting heart rate (RHR) went down by 6 beats, from 47 to 41. I use my RHR to monitor recovery. I know when it is lower, I am fully recovered. And, when it is higher, I need to schedule a rest day, or lower the intensity of workouts. Last week, my RHR was a low as 34 beats / minute, the lowest I have ever recorded.
  3. Despite the unusually wet weather, I averaged 200 km / week on the bike. When it rains, I normally do not ride. And, these 800 km are training km, not recreational rides.
  4. I spent 72% of ride time in Heart Rate Training Zone 1, and 15% in the higher, more intense zones. The goal with Polarized training is to spend 80% in Zone 1, and 20% in higher zones.
  5. I averaged over 5 hours of “deep” sleep every night. This is the sleep needed to fully recover.
  6. My average cycling speed was 24 kph. Given the high winds throughout the month, this is relatively fast. Every ride I battled a westerly headwind that would reduce my speed to 15-20 kph. Otherwise, I recorded 25-35 kph speeds, sometimes higher.
  7. My average cadence was 86 rpm. I spent most of the 800 km on the small chainring, trying to maintain a cadence of 90-100. Apart from the headwinds and a few climbs, I was able to do that.
  8. And, I learned that high repetition body weight exercises has strengthened my legs and core. I wasn’t sure. I am accustomed to lifting weights in the gym. High rep squats, lunges, hamstring curls using an exercise ball, windshield wipers, sit-ups, and leg lifts have strengthened my legs and core.

So, what is next? More of the same. More distance. Higher intensity. And, more reps.

I have a century ride schedule in 3 weeks. I plan a 75-80 km this weekend to get used to the distance. And, the week before the century, I’ll taper by reducing the volume, but keeping the intensity high.

And, I’ll maintain the same low fat, vegetarian diet of cereal with unsweetened almond milk, stir fry vegetables, vegetable and tofu wraps, vegetable frittatas, veggie burgers, homemade energy gels made with dates, raisins, lemon and lime juice, and peanut butter, and homemade post-ride smoothies made with berries, banana, peanut butter, and almond milk.

The perfect motivator … 🤔

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If you are like me, you sometimes need motivation. Motivation to get outside on your bike. Motivation to work hard, harder than you usually do. Motivation to push a little harder, beyond where it is comfortable, where it hurts. It hurts your legs, when they feel they can’t continue. It hurts your lungs, when they are gasping for breath. And, it hurts your heart, when it is working as hard as it can to pump oxygen enriched blood to your needy muscles. This is the kind of motivation I’m talking about.

Group rides can get you to this level of exertion. Sometimes. It depends on how well matched you are with the other members of the group in terms of fitness, and motivation. For me, this seldom works. There are always stronger, and weaker cyclists in the group. If it is a no-drop group, you will always slow down for the slower riders. If it is a drop group, when you are left behind if you can’t keep up, you are left on your own, or with slower cyclists. The value of group rides for me is the social aspect. It is fun to ride with other like-minded cyclists. It’s not the place to test your metal.

Younger cyclists, particularly women, that pass me on the road are also a motivation. I don’t intend to sound sexist, but I hate being dropped. I work to catch up and stay on their wheel, if I can. But again, they made be too strong, or too weak, to give me the motivation I’m talking about.

Today, I discovered the perfect motivator.

Today was supposed to be a relaxed, Zone 1 ride. I had already put in over 200 training kms this week, and simply wanted to spin lightly to work out some leg muscle soreness. The first 25 kms were just that. I battled a 20 km headwind going out but I simply geared down, maintaining a high cadence. I decided mid-ride to stop for a coffee and sit in the sun. As I was finishing up, I noticed the sky to my right, the direction I was heading, was blue with numerous billowy white clouds. Perfect I thought. However, the sky to my left grew increasingly dark grey, even black. A severe thunderstorm was heading my way, and quickly. That’s what can happen in these parts.

I gulped down the remainder of my coffee, hopped on my bike, thinking I could out run this imminent storm. I was 25 km from the cottage, on quiet, smooth roads. Once I got onto the road, I realized the storm was gaining on me. I felt the wind strengthen, and a few drops of rain. I got onto the drops and large chainring, put my head down, and hammered as quickly as I could hitting speeds of 45-50 kph for 10 km before turning south. As I rounded the corner, the wind picked up, and it began to rain heavily. I dug in, lowered myself on the bars, and pushed harder. But the harder I worked, the worse the condition became. I was battling a 50 kph sidewind, and then hail. Large pieces of ice were pelting my face and bare arms.

I could barely see, but continued. There was no point stopping. I was already soaked, and cold. And, I was frightened of possible lightening strikes. They are normal for these storms. The sooner I got back to the cottage, the sooner I could dry off, and warm up. The sooner I would be safe.

My heart rate was high. My legs burning. And, my lungs aching. I was at my limit. Beyond my lactate threshold. This was a 25 km sprint. A 25 km time trial. No stops. No stop signs. No stop lights. No traffic. Just me, my bike, and the road, in the eye of a thunderstorm.

Fear is what motivated me. Fear of the storm. Fear of possible lightening strikes. This storm taught me that I could work harder, and longer, than I thought possible.

I got home in record time. I cycled faster than I ever have for 25 km. It was a sprint on relatively level ground. No drafting. No descents. Just me motivated like never before.

This storm has changed my training goals … 😂

A 17 year project … 😎

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My mother passed away 17 years ago, and left me the family cottage. A cottage that my father built when I was a youngster. A cottage where we spent summer weekends, and holidays.

When my mother passed, I thought I would sell the place. I live on the west coast now, and seldom visit. My kids are grown, and although they love the place, it is difficult for them to spend much time here. So, several years after her passing, I arranged to meet a realtor at the cottage. When I arrived, I was horrified to discover significant water damage in one of the bedrooms and the bathroom. The rood had been leaking for who knows how long. I couldn’t sell it like that. My parents would have never forgiven me. I can hear them now.

So began a 17 year project to restore, repair, and renovate the family cottage. I would steal long weekends when working in the area, and spend a week or two whenever I could. Over the course of the past 17 years, I have put on a new roof, restored the water-soaked bedroom, replaced the bathroom floor, built new decks, installed a floating dock for swimming and moorage, reupholstered an old sectional couch and chairs that belonged to my mother, installed double-paned, picture windows, replaced the Franklin wood burning stove with a propane one that is more convenient and easier to use, and had an arborist trim the numerous pine, red maple, silver birch, oak, and cedar trees that populate the property. There is always something to do it seems.

When my mother passed, her girl friends brought a poem my mother had written in 1988 about the cottage, and placed it on the chapel stage during the service. I copied the poem and several of the pictures, had them framed, and mounted it on one of the cottage walls. In 2008, I wrote a similar poem highlighting the changes that had been made to the cottage. Again, I had the poem and several more current photographs framed, and hung it on the wall beneath my mother’s poem.

This summer, 2017, I wrote another poem called “I have seen it all”, attached several current photographs, and will have it framed and hang it on the same wall with the other poems. These poems, and I use the term loosely, have recorded the transition of the cottage, and its meaning to us, over the span of 30 years.

When my son visits, I encourage him to pen a poem about the cottage, but he refuses. He doesn’t think he can do it. Write a poem. I tell him I didn’t think it was in me either. And I’m not suggesting that I have a talent for it, but when I am here alone, the words come more easily.

He’s visiting next week. It’s time he continues the tradition.