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.


A ride on the flats …


After all of the climbing yesterday, I wanted a flatter, easier ride today. After stopping at the club to fill my bottles, I headed south to the river delta, and west along the north arm of the Fraser River. It is a 20 km ride out, and 20 km back hugging the scenic shoreline. Flat, yes. Easy, no. Why is it when I have a headwind going out, I also have one coming back? Aren’t there tailwinds any more? The ride was a grind like a 40 km climb. But this post is not about the flat terrain. It is about the flat sections on the top of my carbon handlebars.


This style of bar has 3 purposes:

  1. They are designed to be more aerodynamic. If this is the case, it is minimal because the rider’s body is immediately behind the bars.
  2. The oval like cross section strengthens the carbon composite. This makes sense. You may gain a little weight with the larger cross section but the bar can withstand more force, particularly when sprinting.
  3. The flat sections are more comfortable when holding onto the tops of the bars. This is particularly helpful during long climbs as it opens the chest making it easier to breath rhythmically and deeply.

I had forgotten how much I like riding with my hands on the tops of these bars. They fit into my palms like a glove, and are the perfect width for me. I rode on the tops most of yesterday, and today. Even when I am not climbing, it is more comfortable than being on the hoods, or on the drops. When I’m battling a wind, or want speed, I’ll get on the drops trying to become more aerodynamic. When I’m negotiating tight, fast turns, I prefer to be on the hoods so that I can quickly brake if necessary. In fact, I like the variety these three positions provide, but I prefer the tops and had forgotten how comfortable it was.

You can tell I ride on the tops a lot. You can see the bar tape is dirtier there than on the drops. Some would say I need to replace the bar tape, or at least clean it. I keep this bike pristine. I clean the chain before most every ride, and wash the bike weekly. More frequently when necessary. But I never touch the tape.  It’s like a right of passage. It’s confirmation that I work hard on the bike, and I’m proud of that.

Call me daft 🙂

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.

Flat Top Handlebars

My son gave me FSA SL-K, carbon, flat top handlebars last year.  I didn’t think I needed them.  Or, more to the point, would appreciate them.  After all, many of the pros still prefer less expensive aluminum bars despite the added weight.  I don’t race and am long past my athletic prime.  Why would I need them?  Was I ever wrong!  I love these bars and would recommend them to anyone wanting a more comfortable ride.

These bars boast a long list of features but three make a notable difference for me.

  1. The multi-directional carbon mould dampens small bumps on the road.  This makes a difference on longer rides.  There is less jarring and, as a consequence, you are less tired at the end of the ride.
  2. The short drops makes it easy to adjust hand positions while maintaining a relatively consitent aggressive back position.  In addition, the drops are slightly angled inward supporting a more neutral wrist position when on the drops.
  3. And, most importantly for me, the tops are slightly flattened and tilted to fit a neutral position for the palms.  I didn’t use this hand position initially.  I didn’t feel as much in control with such a narrow hand placement.  One day, while out on a training ride with my son, he asked how the I liked the flat tops.  I told him I didn’t because I felt I could not control the bike as well.  He said, “you are not climbing enough”.  Say what?  Not climbing enough?  He was right.  I began incorporating more climbs into my workouts and realized this is a perfect position for climbing.  It opens up the chest making it easier to breath during exertion.  The more I climbed, the more I like the position.  Now, I frequently position my hands on the bar tops even when on the flats.

If you want a more comfortable ride and can afford it, I would recommend carbon, flat top bars to any cyclist that enjoys long road rides.