I haven’t posted in almost 2 months.
I was focused on training for the 2017 Whistler GranFondo, and didn’t want to turn the site into a fitness blog. If you have been following, you know that I crashed at high speed during the race last year, and was unable to finish. It was a huge disappointment but spurred me on to train harder this year, and ride even more.
The Whistler GranFondo is scenic, challenging, and empowering. It’s a 122 km ride from Vancouver to Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky highway with over 1,900 meters of climbing, and long, fast descents. I questioned whether I could even complete the ride, let alone post a reasonable time.
Well, I did!
Even in the unseasonable cold, wet weather. And now that I have done it, I want to do it again next year.
This has been a 2 year endeavour. Two years of training in the gym, and on the road. I have learned a lot about how to train effectively, and about myself. I’m not a novice cyclist. I have been riding for regularly for 4 decades. Maybe longer. But at 70 years of age, I questioned whether I could complete such a demanding race.
Well, I did!
And now, I need another challenge. Something more challenging. I’d like to complete several century rides (again), and do more touring.
Maybe a trip back to the cottage 🤔
It’s a 4,500 km ride across the Rocky Mountains and windy prairies that would take me across Canada and into parts of the US 🤔
Well, I’m packed.
It’s a bitter sweet moment. I’m sad to leave, yet pleased to go home.
I have been at the cottage for 2 1/2 months, mostly on my own, without TV or internet. Few would think this would be much of a holiday. No amenities. A lot of cycling. 200-250 km a week. A lot of reading. 10 eBooks – biographies, historical and mystery novels. And, simple, wholesome meals.
Time alone helps me focus. I train better. I’m more sensitive to what needs the most attention. Cycling is different in these parts. The terrain is flatter but there is a relentless north-westerly wind almost every day. I ride on the drops mostly, and stay on the small ring when fighting a headwind. I eat better. I prepare simple vegetarian meals – vegetable wraps, frittatas, salads, sandwiches. No desserts. No sweets. And, I sleep better. To bed at dusk and at sunrise. This is the recipe for successful training, and why I have begun to refer to the cottage as Camp PedalWORKS.
On the side of my bike travel case, I have an oval sticker of a cyclist heading down a windy road. What do you think? Would this make a good tattoo? And, if so, where would you put it? On the forearm where it can be readily seen and enjoyed? On the back of the calve so those in hot pursuit know you will not be easily passed?
What are your thoughts?
I’m serious about this. I figure it’s about time. While I was packing my bike this afternoon I began looking more carefully at this sticker, and thought, it is me. It is how I enjoy cycling most. Alone on quiet, rural roads. It would make the perfect tattoo for a cycling enthusiast like me.
How appropriate! The perfect tattoo 😏
I said previously, I am a slave to numbers. Here are some of the stats I have accumulated while at Camp PedalWORKS. The RED highlights indicate new lows. My goals for the past 2 1/2 months while at the cottage were:
- Cycle more frequently getting my weekly average up to 250 km;
- Get down to 160 pounds, an optimal cycling weight for me;
- Adopt a “polarized” training schedule, spending ~ 80% of the time in Zone 1, and ~ 20% in Zones 3&4; and,
- Complete the Horseshoe Valley Century ride in reasonable time.
Well, I accomplished all 4 of these items, and in so doing, also increased my daily average speeds, and morning resting heart rate. I’m leaner and fitter. And, I feel more confident on the bike, frequently positioned on the drops, even while climbing, and effortlessly switching between chainrings maintaining consistent power to the pedals. I even got in several fast-paced groups rides, working on my pace-line and drafting skills.
Average speed doesn’t mean much. On every ride the conditions are different. Hills. Flat terrain. Headwinds. Helping winds. But I noticed my average speeds were increasing to ~ 25 kph. That’s an average. Often I was doing 25-35 kph. Sometimes faster, particularly on descents.
I have 6 weeks to prepare for the Whistler GranFondo, a 122 ride with 1,900 meters of climbing. This week I am heading to the West Coast to cycle the mountains in preparation.
So, what have I learned from these past 10 weeks at the cottage, at Camp PedalWORKS?
- I have been without TV and regular internet all of this time. And do you know what? I don’t miss them at all. I’m behind with the news, but does it matter? I have missed a few yearly sporting events like Wimbledon, the Tour de France, and the Open, but does it matter? Not really. I get the headlines on the radio news, if I choose. What did I get in return? I read a lot. I have finished 10 books so far – biographies, mysteries, and historical novels. I trained a lot. More than I would otherwise. And, I had time to prepare better, simpler foods, and as a consequence, lost 10 pounds.
- I have not ridden in traffic. No stop lights. No stop signs. Just quiet, scenic, rural roads connecting the farms and nearby lakes. It was continuous cycling out the back door. I had 3 routes. West to the big lake. East to the small lake. And, north to another small lake. Each route is a 35-50 km loop. And, on the weekends, I might connect the loops together for a longer ride. Cycling in the city can’t compare. Although we have well developed dedicated cycle paths, traffic calm streets, separate bike lanes, some with dividers, it is not the same. It’s not continuous cycling. It’s not as safe. And, it’s not as enjoyable.
- I learned I don’t have to always work hard. Rest is good. You need to recover. Particularly when you get to be my age. I gradually increased my training load by riding longer distances, and increasing the intensity (i.e. hill repeats, sprints) but made certain to take rest days, and alternate hard and easy rides.
- I learned I was not the best house keeper. I vacuumed the pine floors for the first time in 50 years, and was devastated by the amount of dirt and dust dislodged from between the boards. I cleaned the oven for the first time in 25 years. I am (was) a stove top chef. Now I bake and roast! And, I cleaned the eaves for the first time in at least 25 years, maybe longer. They had things growing in them. The cottage has never looked, or felt, so good.
- And, I learned that time alone is cleansing, empowering, and cathartic. I need it more often than I am accustomed. Or, maybe it’s the company I keep. Anyway, it’s always an adjustment at first, but once settled in, everything opens up. I have more energy. I sleep better. The creative juices flow. I write. Poems even. I cook, and enjoy it immensely. I am more sensitive to the the world around me, particularly the wildlife. The osprey, loons, herons, blue jays, chickadees, wood peckers, robins, geese, ducks, beaver, pike, bass, and deer. And, time flies. I’m never bored, and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
So, Camp PedalWORKS has been good. The cottage and I are better for it. Cleaner. Fitter. Slimmer. Faster. Stronger. More confident. And, more relaxed.
I return to the city in a few days. Back to city traffic. Congestion. TV. The internet. And, people. I’m not used to having people around. Not used to making idle conversation. Any conversation. Back to hills. And mountains. The cycling will be different. Harder. More climbing. And the weather will be different too. No humidity. But warm.
I return with mixed emotions. It will be as big an adjustment as coming here.
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?
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.
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.
Am I becoming less obsessive? Am I relaxing a little? Is this what cottage time does?
OMG. What’s next 😂