He’s lean. He’s fast. He’s fun! | 5 Day Story Challenge


He’s lean. He’s fast. And, he’s fun.

Why would I want a full-carbon road bike? My racing days are long past. That’s what I kept telling myself. After all, I have several very nice road and mountain bikes. Why would I want a light weight racing bike?

Six years ago, my son got serious about road cycling. At the time, he had a client, a Cat 1 racer, who at the end of each season, sells his bikes at a considerable discount. My son thought this would be a relatively inexpensive way to get started. So, that is how he acquired his first of several full carbon bikes.

He had the bike fitted and made several upgrades. A shorter stem, narrower carbon bars, and a new chain. One day, he asked if I would like to try it. Reluctantly, I took it for a spin around the neighbourhood. After all, why would I want a carbon bike? Well, I’m told I had a smile on my face the whole time. I could not get over how quickly the bike accelerated, how easily it climbed, how fast it went, and how confident I felt. I hadn’t had so much fun on a bike since I was a kid.

I wanted one 😉

That’s how it began. The next season, I asked my son if his client had another bike he wanted to sell. He did. I knew he would. A 2011 full-carbon R2 model with a Dura-Ace group, and an older set of training wheels that had seen several seasons.

I bought it 😀

IMG_3830Since then, I have made several upgrades – a shorter stem, new saddle, carbon bars, compact cranks, carbon Dura-Ace pedals, carbon cages, 23 mm tires, and Dura-Ace C24 wheels. Some of these components were gifts. Everyone knew what to get me for birthdays and Christmas. And, they were all purchased on-line. I was surprised how easily and inexpensively you can purchase components on-line but that’s a topic for another post.

Lou: “I’m lighter and faster than ever.”

IMG_3832Right from the start, the bike had a name.

Lou O_o

Lou means famous warrior. And, 18 kings of France had this name. How appropriate. A battler. A fighter. A leader. He was going to help me battle long steep climbs, keep pace with fast paced groups, and lead the way for years to come.

Lou: “I’m the head guy, right?”

I’ve learned a lot from Lou. I’ve learned I’m not done. There is a lot of cycling left in me. I’ve learned you’re never too old to have fun on a bike. I’ve learned I’m faster, and fitter than I realized. I’ve learned there is always room for improvement. And, I’ve learned fast is fun.

Lou: “I told you so.”

It’s good to hang out with a younger crowd. Chas and Thatch are great rides but they are different. Slower. Heavier. Lou is young. More up to date. Lighter. And, faster. He makes me feel half my age 😀

Chas: “You’re ungrateful. If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be cycling today, wouldn’t even be able to ride a bike like Lou. You seem to have forgotten that cyclists have won the TDF on bikes just like me. Give me some credit.”

Lou and I have shared some great times. We ride several organized centuries each year, and many “recreational” long rides. We never do less than 50 km together, and frequently enjoy 100-150 km scenic rides with like minded friends and family.

Today, Lou and I did a solo ride along the river road – my usual early Sunday morning 50 km ride. It was wet. Rain was not forecast until later in the day, and I didn’t wear my rain gear. Grrrrrr ….

No matter. We had a great ride 😎

Lou: “I look good wet!”

IMG_3833 IMG_3835 IMG_3839 IMG_3843


Becky of Restart Urgently Needed nominated me for this challenge. She wanted to hear more about my bikes she said. Thank you Becky 🙂 I have to write 5 posts about my bikes and, with each post, nominate another blogger to accept the challenge.


With the first post, I nominate Ellie (A Writer’s Caravan) for the 5 day story challenge because I would love to read how music has shaped her life. And, I want to hear more of her music.


With the second post, I nominate Bri (Bike Like Crazy) for the 5 day story challenge because I would love to read more about cycling in cold, and snow. Bri is an inspiration to all cyclists.


My cycling buddies …


These are the boys I cycle with in all of their carbon glory; the bikes I ride with regularly. They are seldom in one place at once, but gathered last evening to celebrate a birthday. There is a Scott, a Cervelo, a BMC, and two Louis Garneau’s. All fine, fast rides, each with a different engine. My ride is on the far right.


My bikes …


I have challenged myself to cycle each and every day during the month of April. Actually, the challenge is broader than that. In addition to cycling every day, I am committed to not using the SUV this month, not even to transport the bikes.

My intent is not to cycle more, although I am certain I will. No, my intent is to inspire others to get on their bikes. So far, no one has taken up my challenge, at least not openly. Not even interested family and friends. Sometimes, all that is needed to change behaviour is a little push. That’s what I am doing. Encouraging people to cycle sooner than they might otherwise.

I have a lot of bikes. “Too many”, some say. In my mind, I can never have too many bikes. They serve different purposes. The more I have, the more opportunity I have to ride.

I pulled all the bikes out today, making certain they are all in good working order. I plan to ride all of them this month – the commuter, the road bikes and, the mountain bikes. Today, I rode 2 of them. I did a 90 minute hilly, training ride on the Roberts and, after cleaning up, rode to a local cafe for lunch on my Kuwahara. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I am planning a 2.5 hour tempo, flat ride on the Roberts.

My bikes don’t have names. I envy those of you that have chosen endearing names for your rides. Instead, I refer to mine by the manufacture’s name – Roberts, Garneau, Cervelo, Kuwahara, Rocky Mountain, “Goose”. Boring! And, believe me, I have tried.

The mountain bikes won’t get much ice time. I enjoy trail riding but transport them to find suitable terrain and, I am committed to not driving. That’s alright. I prefer the road bikes anyway.

So, if you are on the couch, get up. Commit. Get going. Get onto your bike. The weather is warm. The days are longer. You have no excuse.

Too old to improve?

New shoes. Fi’zi:k R5. A Christmas present from myself. Found them in a local shop at a clearance price.

New cleats. A Christmas gift from another.

Finally installed the cleats last evening ready for the next ride. Surprisingly, the setup is lighter than my Shimano SH-R240 shoes.

I purchased the Fi’zi:k shoes because I liked them, I needed a new shoe for commuting, they were a good price and, I wanted to reduce the wear on the Shimano’s. Now, I am not certain which I will prefer to wear. The Fi’zi:k’s are sweet.

Fitting the cleats last night got me thinking. Are you ever too old to improve?

I like to think I am older but better. I am a better cyclist today than I was 25 years ago. I’m in better condition. Have better technique. And, I cycle more than ever. Can I get better at my age?

One of my sons is a personal trainer. And, an accomplished road cyclist. I asked him if he thought I could continue to improve. Asked him how to get stronger. I asked, “Son, if I were to do just 3 strengthening exercises to improve my cycling power and endurance, what would you recommend?”. Without hesitation, he said “single-leg squats, dead lifts and hamstring curls!”.

The squats develop the quads and buttocks. The dead lift the lower back and hamstrings. And, the curls focus on the hamstrings. These are the key muscles used when pedalling.

So, in addition to my “coach-on-the-wrist” workouts, I have introduced these exercises into my weekly routine. Even without weight, they were difficult in the beginning, particularly the squats.

I do the dead lifts with an empty bar at the moment just to ensure I have the right technique but am ready to add weight. I do the squats without weight as well. Just my weight. Already I notice a difference. I can do more repetitions, more easily and with good form. More importantly, I notice a difference cycling. Stronger for sure. But I am spinning more in circles. At first, I thought I was simply concentrating on circles more. But no. I am spinning with better form as well.

I have only been doing these additional exercises for a few weeks but already notice a difference. So, if you want to become a stronger cyclist this season, take my son’s advice.

Single-leg squats. Dead lifts. And, hamstring curls.

I need to fit cleats on my new shoes …

I purchased a new set of fi’zi:k road shoes a month ago. They were an early Christmas present to myself and are waiting patiently on my bookshelf.  They need cleats. They are on my Christmas list.

In the past, I have had a professional fit. This time, I am going to fit them myself. This GCN video explains how it is done. It’s not difficult but, then again, I don’t want to have knee or ankle problems.

The last time I had a fit, I did have a right knee problem. After a 50 km ride, I could hardly move. The fitter advised me not to make any adjustments just yet. It was early in the season. He was confident they were properly fitted and that I had over taxed myself on the ride.

He was right.

I have been cycling with these shoes and cleats for 2 years now without any difficulty. Long rides. Steep climbs. You name it. All types of conditions.

I can use the positioning of the cleats on my Shimano shoes as a starting point for the fi’zi:k shoes. And, while I am at it, the cleats on the Shimano shoes need to be replaced as well. And, for that matter, so do the cleats on my commuting/spinning shoes.

Santa, if you are listening, I need 3 pair of cleats.

Shimano make 2 types of cleats. The SPD models which use a 2-screw mount and are used mostly on mountain bikes. And, the SPD-SL models which use a 3-screw mount and are used on road pedals. This is the type I use on my commuter, the Kuwahara.

The SPD pedals come in 2 flavours. Silver cleats (SH56) which have a multi-directional release and are preferred by beginners. And, Black cleats (SH51) which only release when twisted (not lifted) and are preferred by road cyclists because they do not release as easily and deliver more power to the pedal. This is the type I use on the Garneau and Roberts.

The Shimano SPD-SL cleats come in 3 flavours – yellow, blue and black – supporting different amounts of lateral movement of float. The Yellow cleats have 6 degrees of float and are generally recommended for most road cyclists. The blue have 2 degrees of float and, the red are fixed (no float).

So, Santa if you are still listening, I need 1 pair of the SPD Black (SH51) and 2 pair of the SPD-SL Yellow cleats.

New road shoes …

Every now and again, a guy has to treat himself.

While looking online for a new pair of waterproof booties, look what I found on sale – Fi’zi:k R5 Uomo performance road cycling shoes. This is not their top of the line shoe but still a finely crafted Italian masterpiece. I have had my eye on them for a year now. Ever since I rebuilt the Roberts, I wanted another pair of road shoes, something to match the bike better and reduce the wear on my good Shimano shoes.

I probably won’t pull them out until the better weather in the Spring. They will be a Christmas gift from an anonymous admirer. The black and white matches the theme I have going on the bike. The Roberts logo is black and white. I have black tires with white lettering, a black Fi’zi:k saddle, a black and grey Fi’zi:k saddle bag and black Fi’zi:k handlebar tape with white lettering.

Now I just need the Fi’zi:k shoe covers.

Saturday’s ride …

Saturday’ ride.  Where to begin?  There is so much to say.

Epic.  That is the only superlative that comes to mind.  The weather was perfect.  Sunny and warm with little wind.  The roads were the best I have ridden.  Scenic.  Undulating.  Quiet.  And, smooth with no potholes or cracks to be wary of.

My son and I rode the Sunshine Coast.  120 km of road that I can only describe as epic, beautiful, safe, fast, amazing, inspiring …  We left the house at 6:30 am to catch a 7:20 am ferry to the Sunshine Coast and were on our bikes by 8:00 am.  There are 2 ways of travelling the coast.  Highway 101 that connects the Langdale ferry terminal on the south end with the Earl’s Cove terminal in the north.  This is a major route with considerable traffic, particularly in the summer months but it has wide shoulders.  And then there are the lower roads, roads that service the shoreline properties.  These are the roads we cycled.  They are scenic, undulating and in excellent shape.

We completed 120 km maintaining a 25-40 kph pace most of the time.  There were a lot of climbs.  Some long and difficult.  And, there were numerous descents where we reached speeds of 65 kph or more on the wide, safe roads.

The best part of the ride is that I shared the experience with my son.  He is half my age and much stronger.  I can keep up with him on the flats and descents but he is a natural climber where he can easily leave me behind.  But he didn’t.  He stayed with me or, at least within sight, so I wouldn’t get discouraged.

My son and I have shared several epic rides together.  The West Maui Loop.  The Sea To Sky highway.  The local mountain climbs, Marine Drive and now, the Sunshine Coast.  It’s special for a father to share moments like this with his son.  Cycling has been an integral part of my life since before he was born and, to be able to share a ride like this with him at this stage, is remarkable.

We were home by 7:00 pm and my son (did you hear that) prepared dinner – fresh sole, prawns and a green salad with a beer.  It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Preparing for Saturday’s ride …

I was preparing the bike for tomorrow’s ride up the Sunshine Coast when I realized how all the parts match.  It is not that I didn’t notice before.  I did.  Each time I added a component, I was careful to match what was already on the bike.  It just I never saw the bike in this light before.

It didn’t start out that way 3 years ago when I purchased the bike.  Over the years, I have changed the saddle, handle bars, wheels and tires.  Each time, I was careful to match the frame and other components as much as possible.  But this is ridiculous.  Don’t you think?  The red on the tires, seat post, handlebars and computer match the Garneau graphics.  Not too much red.  Just enough to tie everything together.  There is even red writing on the computer and, the spoke nipples are red too.

Everything matches.  Fi’zi:k saddle and bag.  FSA SL-K seat post and stem.  Dura-Ace cranks, chainrings, cassette, chain, derailleurs, pedals and wheels.

This is what happens when you pay too much attention to your bike.

“What does your kit look like?”, you ask.  Red, black and white of course.  And, made by Garneau.  What else?  I look like a Louis Garneau billboard.  I can’t help it.  The Garneau jerseys and bibs fit better than any others I have tried and they are remarkably comfortable.  And as for the bike, I have never ridden anything better.  I have tried Trek, Specialized, Cervelo and a host of others.  The Gennix R2 frame just suits me and my riding style.

There you have it.  If you see Team Garneau on the road tomorrow, stop and say hello.

The Roberts completed …

The Roberts rebuild has been a labour of love.

I purchased this Roberts bespoke touring frame in 1980 when I first got serious about cycling.  I have toured with it in Ontario, Quebec, Maine, England and British Columbia.  Later I built a set of wheels with tubular rims and trained on it for years on many of the same routes I frequent today.  This frame has been an integral part of my cycling experience.

This bike is the most comfortable ride I know.  The longer wheel base and steel frame absorbs the road bumps.  My son wanted to convert this to a fixie.  I wouldn’t let him.  I still want to ride it and leave it to him in better shape then ever.

There is a lot to consider when rebuilding an older bike.  Is it a restoration or updating project?  How will the bike be used?  Touring?  Training?  Commuting?  I chose to update this bike as a short trip touring and supplementary training bike.

  1. I decided to use 700 c wheels. They have become the standard and it lets me easily interchange wheels with my other bikes.  27″ wheels are much less popular today.  And, although 26″ wheels may be stronger they are heavier and slower.
  2. The 700 c wheel set required long reach brakes.  The frame was made for 27″ wheels and standard brakes would not fit the rims on a 700 c wheel.
  3. I wanted an indexed 10 speed with integrated shifters.  A 10-speed hub meant the frame had to be cold set to the correct width.
  4. I chose to use a compact chainring rather than a triple.  It is a little lighter and with an 11-25 tooth cassette, I have a wide range of gears.
  5. I chose the Shimano Ultegra group set for 2 reasons.  My other road bike has a Dura-Ace Group and I wanted similar capability and feel.  And, since all of my other bikes have Shimano parts, I have all the necessary tools and am familiar with the installation and maintenance procedures.
  6.  I chose not to repaint the frame.  I love the original colour and, although there is some wear and a few scratches, I was concerned I would not be able to match the colour well enough.  Besides, it adds character and I remember the occurrence of each and every nick.  I did wash it carefully and apply several coats of wax for protection.

Although this project took several months, most of the time was think time.  Once I had all of the parts, my son and I assembled and tuned the bike over a couple of days.  I hesitated initially because I was not familiar with the cold setting process (it was easy and inexpensive) or the installation of the newer style brakes (it required enlarging the bolt hole on the forks).  These were not difficult problems.

There are several original parts in addition to the Roberts frame.  I kept the Campagnolo headset.  There was little or no wear on the races but I did replace the bearings.  I also kept the Weinmann housing guides on the top tube.  I preferred these to any new ones I found.  I am also using a Shimano training wheel set and Fi’zi:k saddle I have had for several years.  In time, I may replace the wheels with an Ultegra set.

I will ride this bike a lot (again).  It will not replace the carbon Garneau but I will train on it, tackle longer, steeper climbs and travel with it on holidays.  Now I have 3 very serviceable bikes – a commuter, a fast, carbon road bike and a touring bike for longer rides and short trips.

Do you have an old bike worthy of a retrofit?

Here are my other posts on this project –

  1. More parts arrive – https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/parts-for-the-roberts-2/
  2. Bars, stem and seatport – https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/parts-for-the-roberts-1/
  3. Possible parts to consider –https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/selecting-components-for-my-c-1980-roberts/
  4. Options considered – https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/selecting-components-for-the-roberts/
  5. Cold setting the Roberts frame –https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/cold-setting-the-roberts-frame/
  6. The Roberts frame stripped down –https://pedalworks.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/c-1980-roberts-handbuilt-frame/

My ride has a new look

My ride has a new look.

It is the rainy season, time to put the training wheels on.  They needed a new set of tires.  I shop for bargains at http://www.probikekit.com so when they put the Michelin PRO 4 Endurance tires on sale, I couldn’t resist.  I have heard good things about the tire and wanted to introduce more red to the bike.  The red on the tire walls picks up the bits of red on the frame.

The Fi’zi:k Arione saddle was also on sale.  I have been riding with the black version and really like it but when I put white bar tape on the bike last summer, I didn’t like the combination.  So now the bar tape and saddle match – a look I seem to prefer.

What do you think?  Do you like this look?