Am I becoming a minimalist … 👀

I started this year imagining the changes necessary to become a leaner, faster, and more adventuresome cyclist. I adopted an intermittent fasting regime, improved my sleeping patterns and recovery methods, trained regularly and hard, and purchased a bespoke all road bike. You can read about these, and other changes in previous posts, but what I didn’t expect were other, more profound changes to the way I was living.

It began with my car. I gifted it to my daughter as a graduation present. I hadn’t really driven it for several years. For all intents and purposes, it was hers but now she pays the the operating costs. It was a symbolic step, but an important one.

I was at the cottage for three months this year. Instead of renting a car for the entire time, which I normally do, I rented one when I first arrived. I need one to travel to the cottage, a 2 hour drive from the airport, and to food shop, but most of the time is just sits. So, once I had stocked up, I returned the car, and only rented one again when family visited. The rest of the time I cycled, managing to pickup fresh fruit and vegetables every few days on my bike as needed.

I learned I didn’t need a car, even at the cottage. I cycled, walked, and kayaked more discovering new roads, and meeting people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I also became more acutely aware of all of the plastic packaging in use today. When I’m at home, there is just as much, but it is easily disposed of. The city regularly picks up garbage, garden cuttings, paper, and plastic materials. At the cottage, I have to take it to the dump. And, on a bike, that is difficult to do. Instead, it piled up until I had a car again. This led me to explore bulk food sources, and fresh produce from the local farmers. But purchasing bulk items on the bike was not the easiest. I was limited in how much I could carry, and had to cycle 50 km each way to the nearest store. This had a profound effect upon me. Next year, I will source closer bulk sources, and grow more food 😉

And, while at the cottage, the weather was warm, and I needed very little clothing. Two cycling kits. Two pair of swim trunks, two t-shirts, and, a pair of PJ’s. When I returned home, I couldn’t get over all of the clothes I had in the closet, most of which no longer fit the leaner me. It was stuffed! So, I began a complete closet purge, only replacing articles needed to stay warm, and dry. Now, my closet is half empty, and it’s not large. I have all I need – 3 pairs of jeans, 3 pair of shorts, 4 short sleeve t-shirts, 2 long sleeve t-shirts, 1 buttoned shirt, 2 pairs of runners, a down jacket, a waterproof shell, half the socks I had before, and some underwear.

That’s all I need. Actually, more then I really need. (I won’t discuss my cycling kits. They are not minimal. Or, inexpensive 😂)

And, when I am at the cottage, I do not have TV, or the internet. And, I don’t miss them. I read a lot. A novel a week on average. My days start with a coffee and book, and end with the book in hand. When I returned home, I have TV and the internet but deliberately use them sparingly. I only watch the CBC Morning News, the occasional Netflix movie, and several cycling YouTube channels. Instead, I start and end my days with a good book.

By imagining changes to improve my cycling experiences, I changed more profound aspects of my life. I’m carless, cycling and walking everywhere. I eat a simpler, cleaner, more natural vegan diet. I have been vegetarian/vegan for a very long time but now I am even more particular. My clothes closet only contains what I need to stay warm, and dry. I’m no longer a clothes horse (except on my bike 😂). And, there is always a novel at my bedside.

Am I becoming a minimalist?

I believe global warming is real, and want to set a good example. I’m no longer a clothes horse. I don’t eat meat or dairy for both moral and economic reasons. I am fascinated with the “tiny house” movement, and those living off-the-grid. I don’t believe in monotheism. And, I’d rather be out on my bike exploring new roads and steeper climbs than doing anything else.

I wasn’t raised this way.

Which came first?

The bike?

Or, the philosophical shift?


Coffeeneuring # 4 – Elysian Coffee Roasters


Date: October 23, 2018

Cafe: Elysian Coffee Roasters

Distance: 36 km

Drink: Black drip coffee

Notes: Elysian is a local coffee roaster with 4 locations in town, one on the bike route I take most days to and from Stanley Park. I have never stopped before. It is at the foot the the climb back home, and I just never wanted to stop. That was a mistake. The 7th & Ontario St. location is where the coffee is roasted, and surprisingly, is a very comfortable place. I sat at the window, facing my bike and the Ontario bike route, enjoying a black coffee and a savoury scone.

I biked a different route today. Stanley Park actually has 3 different cycling routes; the interior road that I speak of here (great for road cyclists); the Seawall that circumnavigates the park on the water; and a network of gravel trails (good for MTB and all road bikes) that crisscross the park. Today I devised a route that included sections of each route.

I am often asked, “Don’t you ever tire of riding the same route most days?”.

Well, no. Never.

In the first place, as I mention above, there are 3 different routes. Secondly, I ride on 3 different bikes; a full carbon road bike with a Shimano Dura-Ace group; a steel frame touring bike equipped with an Shimano Ultegra group; and, an all road bike with 35 mm tires, hydraulic disc brakes and a 1x SRAM drive train. Each bike performs differently.

Three different routes, and three different bikes.

Depending on the bike and route, I can work on climbing, descending, sprinting, pacing, and a myriad of other skills. And when you consider I ride in both good (warm and dry) and bad (cold and wet) weather conditions, I have a lot of different rides at my doorstep.

Think about this.

3 routes x 3 bikes x 3 workouts x 2 weather conditions = 54 different rides

No. I never tire of this route. And, when you consider that I can combine sections of each route to make up numerous other routes, there is no reason to get bored.

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.

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?