I started using Strava again …

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I started using Strava again.

It has been 2 years since I last used it. I didn’t like how it turned every ride into a competition. I subscribe to the polarized training model. Have you heard of it? If not, Road Cycling UK does an excellent job of explaining the method and benefits here. Basically, athletes spend 20% of their training doing intense training, and 80% doing easy, Zone 1 workouts. Many of the top endurance athletes train this way.

You can see the problem I had with Strava. I was working hard every ride, at least on some KOM segments.

Strava automatically allocates your time to any segment that you ride through and upload to its site. It then creates a league table of who is fastest, with the fastest being given a small yellow crown icon and the title of KOM (King of the Mountain) or QOM (Queen of the Mountain).

All of my regular routes include many KOM segments, and I was training hard every day whether I intended to or not. So, I stopped. Instead, I began relying on my heart rate monitor, recording the time spent in each of the training zones each day. This way I knew what route to ride, and how hard to train every day.

So why did I start using the app again, you ask?

Well, I have taken on this 10,000 km challenge – that’s right 10,000 km cycling in 2019 – and need to automatically record my annual distance and elevation gain. My cycle computer doesn’t maintain YTD stats or upload to an on-line site for analysis. Also, it only supports 2 different bikes. I regularly ride 3 different road bikes each with different tire sizes – 35 mm, 32 mm, and 28 mm – and subsequently different tire diameters. With Strava, I don’t have to worry about any of this. I simply have to load the app, press start, and stop when I finish.

I just hope I pay much less attention to the KOM segments his time, and continue with the polarized methods.

Do you use Strava?

Maybe you have other apps you prefer. I’d appreciate your input.

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Coffeenuring #2 – Steveston Coffee Co.

Date: Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cafe: Steveston Coffee Co.

Distance: 55 km

Drink: single-shot expresso

Notes: I know. I know.

I just posted yesterday. But here’s is the thing. One of my objectives when accepting the Coffeeneuring Challenge was to purchase a 1/2 pound of locally roasted coffee from roasters I have no previous experience with. Well, little did I know that La Musette do not roast their own coffee. So, since I was out of coffee for the week, I needed to coffeeneur again today.

I headed south to Steveston, a small working fishing village at the opening of the Fraser River as it finally reaches the Pacific Ocean. It is a scenic, tourist destination – lots of restaurants, shops, and coffee shops. I have been wanting to try the Steveston Coffee Co. for some time but, despite this being a regular winter ride for me, I have never stopped there. It’s a small shop with a menu for coffees and baked goods on a blackboard behind the counter. I enjoyed an expresso and a fresh muffin while sitting in the storefront window guarding my bike leaning against a power pole in front. Unlike La Musette, I could not bring the bike instead.

I can see why an espresso is a biker’s favourite. It’s a small, strong hit of caffeine that doesn’t fill the bladder. When I have a regular cup of coffee mid-ride, I often have to pee before getting back home. Not this time. The espresso may become my preferred mid-ride beverage from here on in 😂

It is a lovely, sometimes windy, ride along the river banks along the north and south ends of the river delta, passing marinas, yacht clubs, fishing boats, canneries, farmers fields, and even a few wineries. Today there was little wind, and a lot of sun. The ride was uneventful, except for a flat tire but more on that in a later post.

And now I have 1/2 pound of dark roast beans for the week.

Have you started coffeeneuring yet?

Coffeeneuring # 1 – La Musette

 

Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cafe: La Musette

Distance: 31.7 km

Drink: Black dark roast drip coffee

Notes: La Musette is a bike-friendly cafe conveniently located on a bike route adjacent to the downtown core and Stanley Park, easily accessed by both commuters and roadies. The cafe sponsors a road racing team and monthly cycling events for all abilities. There is even a bike rack inside 😀 I like that! And, all of the vintage bikes, and jerseys. I thought this would be an appropriate cafe to begin the Coffeeneuring Challenge. I dropped in after a lap around Stanley Park.

A perfect training route in my backyard …

My cousin is a professional figure skater. He was telling me recently about performing at a private function on a full sized rink built in someones backyard. Imagine having a fully lit hockey rink in your yard.

This got me thinking.

I often see tennis courts, swimming pools, even putting greens in peoples yards. Tiger Woods even has several championship holes in his yard. But we road cyclists need more space, and smooth, paved roads. A lot of them. And different terrain. Hills, Flats. Rollers. I realized I have the perfect training route right outside my back door.

Stanley Park.

I have known this for some time, and have written about it previously. But it just keeps getting better. And because of it, so do I. This past year, it has been completely resurfaced. It’s smooth, fast, and scenic with frequent views of Coal Harbour and English Bay.

I can roll out the back door, cycle a traffic-calmed bikeway to the park, complete a lap (sometimes more) around the park’s road, and return on the same bikeway. It’s a 30 km round trip (unless I do additional laps). It is short enough that I can do it every day, and long enough for a demanding workout. The route includes two 3 km climbs (I live atop a mountain) averaging a 5-7% grade, a 2Km descent, and the rest a rolling mixture of flats, short climbs, and gentle descents. It has a good mix of terrain for training, excellent surfaces, little traffic, and lots to look at.

I never tire of this ride. It enables me to practice climbing, descending, sprinting, and cadence variations, aerodynamic positions, nutrition, hydration, and kits. It’s perfect. I have other routes I enjoy out the back door, but this one has everything for working on my skills, and conditioning. And, my gym is on the route so that when I’m finished cycling, I can complete some wright training before heading home.

Perfect.

Today I completed the ride faster than ever. My average speed was faster, meaning I maintained a faster pace throughout. I summited all the climbs faster, and descended more quickly than ever before. There are several reasons for this. The sum of small marginal gains. A smoother surface. Faster tires. And, I have lost 30 pounds which makes the climbs easier. At 135 pounds, now I’m a climber 😂

Do you have training ride out your back door?

Living my dash …

 

Now that I’m retired, I spend more time at the cottage on the Trent-Severn Waterway. I love the hot, humid summers and plethora of quiet, scenic rural roads to cycle.

This summer, I was there from June through September. The Trent-Severn Waterway is a recreational waterway traversing southern Ontario joining the eastern end of Lake Ontario with Lake Huron to the north-west. It was originally built as a commercial route to transport logs, lumber, and farm produce to larger markets, but with the advent of railways, the system became obsolete. 

Today, it is a recreational waterway, a unique boating experience enjoyed by adventurers from around the world. It is almost 400 km long, connecting a series of lakes (the Kawartha Lakes), with over 40 locks, and 160 dams. It takes a week, or more, to travel depending on the size, and speed of your boat. People make the trip is all types of vessels including kayaks, canoes, row boats, cruisers, and larger trawlers.

There is a group of boaters that are more adventurous. They are known as “Loopers”, and the Trent-Severn Waterway is just part of a much larger adventure for them. A 10,000 km one. For example, they may begin in Florida, travel up the east coast inland waterway to the St. Laurence River and Lake Ontario, north-west through the Trent-Severn Waterway to Georgian Bay, across Lake Huron, down Lake Michigan to Chicago, into the Mississippi River, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and east back to Florida. 

One big loop.  The Great American Loop.

Most “loopers” take a year to complete the route, and some do it repeatedly.

This summer, I met a “looper” travelling alone on a 35’-40’ trawler while he was moored at the nearby lock. We chatted for awhile. I was interested in how he managed such a large vessel in the locks on his own. It usually requires a crew of least one, and frequently more, to keep the boat safely away from other craft and the lock’s concrete walls.

As I was paddling away, I noticed the name of his boat – Dash Away. I called back to him that I liked the name. He said it was named after the poem by Linda Ellis, and asked if I had ever read it. 

I said, no. 

He replied, Google it. 

I did 😂

The Dash

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend.  He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but said what mattered most of all was the dash between her years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars..the house…the cash.  What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?  For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

The man I met this summer is living his dash, doing what he enjoys most – being on his boat.

This got me thinking.

I have been imaging the changes I want to make. I’m not a boater. I’m a cyclist. There is nothing I enjoy more, and hope to continue cycling for years to come. I have just had a bespoke all road bike made. and am having another one of my custom steel bikes repaired, upgraded, and painted.

I want to name the bikes. Riding them is what I want to do most. I have begun thinking of them as Dash for the 1980 Roberts and Dash Too for the 2018 Mariposa. Dash represents 40 years of cycling pleasure – touring, commuting, and training. And Dash Too is my retirement ride taking me on more tours and more adventurous routes. They enable me to live my dash the way I want and enjoy most.

I began this year imagining the changes I wanted to make. Retirement does that. It makes you realize you are in the final act, and now is the time to make the changes you have imagined.

Are you living your dash?

My new all road bike … Dash Too

I had an all road bike made by Mariposa Bicycles of Toronto, Ontario this year. More about them later. It was, without question, the most enjoyable experience I have had. And now that I have been riding it for 4 months, I feel I can comment intelligently 😂

You can see a detailed parts specifications here. What I want to do is discuss the features that make the biggest difference to the ride, handling, and comfort.

The first thing I immediately noticed was how much more comfortable the bike is. In part, it is because of the steel frame. But I have other steel frames, and this is noticeably more forgiving. The difference is the tires – Compass 700C x 35 Bon Jon Pass TC. I haven’t experienced anything like them. They absorb road roughness, bumps, and cracks like nothing I have experienced, and at the same time are remarkably fast, Yes. Fast 35 mm tires. In particular, I notice a difference on descents. The wider tire grips better, and I feel more confident cornering. I am so impressed with this brand, I have ordered a set of 32 mm and 28 mm ties for my other road bikes.

The second thing thing that immediately impressed me is the 1x SRAM FORCE drive train. I wasn’t sure when I configured the bike, rationalizing that I didn’t own a 1x and it would be a new experience. Well after using it for 4 months on all types of terrain, I actually prefer it over my compact setups. It’s simpler. No front derailleur. More efficient. There is no cross chaining. Apparently this results in a 4-5 watt power gain. And, quieter because of the unique clutch system used on the rear derailleur. At the low end, I have the same gearing as my other road bikes, so climbing is just as efficient. At the top end, I do not have quite as large a gear. However, I seldom spin out, only on long, fast descents. And, I always seem to find my sweat spot, that gear where my cadence is natural and powerful. On my compact setups there are duplicate, or very similar gears, and frequently the gearing is too hard, or easy.

The third thing that I was quick to notice is the hydraulic disc brakes. They are so much better in the wet weather, more positive under a heavy load, and easy to feather when cornering. I simply feel more confident.

In summary, this bike is more comfortable, just as fast despite being marginally heavier, and gets me on gravel roads and paths with ease. There are other commendable features – the Fi’z:k cockpit, H PLU SON rims, Paul thru axles, Ritchey carbon fork, White Industries hubs and headset – but I am particularly pleased with the paint job. This was the most difficult decision. I was all over the place on this. I kept changing my mind until the very end. But in the end, it was simple. My daughter had just completed her masters degree, and as a graduation present, I gave her my car, a car I was driving very little, if at all. And yet, I have many fond memories of the road trips we shared. So, I painted the bike frame the same silver blue.

I traded four wheels for two.

I’m carless, and like it.

I can’t discuss my new all road bike without a shoutout to Mariposa. Without question, they are the most knowledgable, and gifted bicycle shop I have ever known. It is a family business, started by the father in 1969, and subsequently restarted by his son, a former professional cyclist and his wife, also an accomplished professional. I am so impressed with their service that I have made them my only bike shop even though they are 3,500 km away. If you do not know this business, I recommend you visit their website here. I have nothing but superlatives to describe their level of service, understanding of the business, and commitment to cycling.

In case you are wondering, I named the new bike “Dash Too” after the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. You can read it here. I’ll explain this name further in a subsequent post.

Imagine change. A 10,000 km year …

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I cycle a lot during the warmer, drier spring, summer, and fall months. Come winter, I generally head indoors to train on a spinning bike. I can easily cycle 1,000 km / month when the weather is good, but have trouble maintaining the mileage when the days get shorter, colder, and wetter. Well, I want to change that. I want to cycle 10,000 kilometres in 2019.

To cycle 10,000 km / year means cycling ~30 km each and every day, ~210 km per week, or ~840 km a month. This doesn’t include days off for rest, or considers longer rides. I like to ride 30-40 km a day through the week, and complete a 75-100 km ride on the weekend with at least 1 day off. So, it should be easy to ride 10,000 km provided I can maintain the pace during the shorter, colder, wetter months – November through February.

That’s the challenge.

I really don’t have any excuses. I’m retired, so have all the time in the world. I have a well equipped, winter road bike – an older full carbon steed with a DuraAce Group and wheel set 😀 And, I have wet and cold weather kits; waterproof rain jacket, booties, and gloves; flannel lined arm and leg warmers; woollen jerseys and cap with integrated ear warmer; a variety of base layers; and soft shell jackets for the cooler but drier weather.

No excuses.

So, instead of heading indoors like I normally do, I’m going to continue cycling outdoors averaging ~800 km per month throughout the winter. It will be a challenge. I have commuted through the winters before but not this distance.

I have a strategy.

I have noticed throughout the years on the the Pacific West Coast at some point on most days there is a dry spell. It usually rains in the morning, and then as the day warms up, the rain subsides, often stopping all together. I’ll wait for these times to minimize the time I actually cycle in the rain. My preferred weather app forecasts the precipitation % throughout the day –

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This is the first thing I check while sipping my morning coffee.

And, I’m planning a winter holiday somewhere sunny and warm. A month in the sun. Maybe Arizona or Maui again. This will give me something to look forward to, and keep me motivated during those cold, wet rides.

You my ask why I would want to do this – ride in the Pacific North West winter months. Well, I feel better, both physically and mentally, when I ride every day. I prefer being outside, challenging myself on the hills, and discovering new routes. It sure beats the spinning bike. So, why would I not want to do this?

Join me 😂