The Wahoo KickR Core … 😃

During the cold, wet winter months, I usually train at a public gym making regular use of the spinning bikes. I would use all of the equipment – free weights, cable systems, the landmine, and squat rack – but mostly I enjoyed the social aspect. I like meeting people, and learning from them. But because of COVID, I’m not anxious to return. They are open, with limitations, but I’ve decided not to go back for at least another year, maybe never.

Instead, I purchased a smart trainer, a Wahoo KickR Core, and setup a corner of my room for it, and one of the bikes.

I’m a big Wahoo fan. I train with the Wahoo Bolt computer and can’t say enough about it. It provides all the stats I need, and then some. It has a long battery life. The setup is on my iPhone which makes it much easier and more convenient. And, it integrates seamlessly with STRAVA. So, when I was considering a smart trainer, the KickR line had to be a consideration.

I spoke with a lot of people, and even reached to STRAVA followers using SWIFT regularly to ask what setups they preferred. Three trainers were mentioned most often – the Tacx Neo, CycleOps H3 (Solaris), and Wahoo KickR Core.

I would have been happy with any one of them. But supply was an issue. They are a hot commodity as the winter months approach. Only one shop in town had any, and fortunately it was the KickR Core. Because of my experience with the Bolt, it was the one I preferred. Within a few days I had it setup, and paired with the Bolt.

I’m working my way through all of the options – Bolt workouts, FTP tests, GCN YouTube spinning classes, virtual rides, and lastly SWIFT. Like the BOLT, I can’t say enough. It’s quiet, feels like a real outdoor ride, and feature rich.

In posts to come, I’ll share the experiences.

New Strava PRs & #1 rankings 👏

At the end of each month, I rest for 2-3 days, and then re-test myself. When the gyms were open, I’d complete an FTP test on a spinning bike. These days, I time myself up the steepest, most challenging, local hills. I’m fortunate to have 4 right out my back door. They are not long (1.5 km), but have grades ranging from 5-13%. These are my new monthly test.

Yesterday I climbed them all in succession. My objective was to set a PR on each, and claim the #1 ranking for my age group if possible. Surprisingly, I did both 😃

I have been climbing more this past month, and have been feeling stronger, but I didn’t really expect to claim all of the top rankings.

I’m ready for the local mountain climbs next 😂

“On the road again … “ ☺️

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We are on the roads again.

Lou and I have been cycling the quiet, rural roads that surround the cottage. There are no stop lights, the occasional stop sign, and very little traffic. A few cars. The cottagers. A few pick up trucks. The locals. And, the occasional tractor heading to the next field.

These roads are different than cycling in the city. I use the bikeways and bike paths at home. The traffic on them is more relaxed but there are still a lot of cars, commercial trucks, and pedestrians to circumvent all times of the day. And, there is a lot of stopping, and starting.

Cycling here is safer, faster, and more enjoyable. Today, Lou and I did a 40 km loop, west to the big lake and back. I do this ride frequently. Sometimes clockwise. Other times anti-clockwise. It depends on the wind. There is always wind here. No big hills. But wind. A lot of wind. I usually head into the wind on the way out so that I have its help on the leg home. Sometimes, I never figure it out. Sometimes it feels as if it is hurting no matter what direction I’m heading. Those rides are the most taxing. Two hours of fighting a 15-20 kph headwind is exhausting, and at the same time, exhilarating.

I am here at the cottage for 6 weeks on my own. I love it. I think of my visits here as training camps. A time to build my base, lose some weight, get stronger, and faster. My solo time here is focused on cycling. I do a lot of other things. Clean. Shop. Renovate. Repair. Swim. Fish. But my days are centred around my bike rides. I train in the mornings, and if I have energy left, I’ll take on the household chores. I keep the place spotless. It’s easy. It’s just me to clean up after. I cook. A lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Salads. Wraps. Sandwiches. Pasta. Frittatas. Veggie burgers. No sweets. No alcohol. By the end of my visits here, I’m an expert in the kitchen, more confident on the bike, and lighter.

I am usually here in the summer and fall months. This is the first time I can remember being here during the spring. It’s fascinating watching the place awaken. Leaves beginning to form on the tree branches. Geese teaching their infants to swim. And, the weather is different. Colder and wetter. On the wet days, I weight train, or take a rest day. On the cold days, the fire is on.

This is a different experience. Spring also means more pot holes. The winter months plays havoc with these rural roads. I cycle with my head down just in case. Because there is so little traffic, the pot holes are easy to avoid. Thank goodness.

Warmer, drier weather is on the way within the week. Then, I will cycle more, and take on the outdoor projects. A canoe than needs repair and fresh paint. A floating dock that needs to be repositioned. Unusually high water has moved it away from the connecting dock by several feet. An out building that needs a coat of stain. Eaves that need to be cleaned. There is no end to them.

These projects take longer than normal to complete. There isn’t much time left following our rides. 😉

We made it safely … ☺️

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Well, we made it.

Lou and I arrived safely at the cottage. I spent a month plotting how I could safely transport him in my over-used, battered TC-1 travel case. You see, the case is broken. The 2 clasps that safely secure each side are missing. They have been since I acquired the used case several years ago.

Each time I travel with a bike, I have the same discussion.

“Should I purchase a new case. A case more worthy of my bikes. It’s time, and it really isn’t that expensive when you consider how often I use it.”

“No. They are expensive. Why do you need to spend $500 when all you need to do is to attach 2 additional tie down straps. That’s all it needs.”

This discussion goes on and on. And, each time I travel, I do my best to make certain it will not pop open during transit spilling my bike, and at its parts, on the tarmac somewhere.

You see, the problem is I have to re-open the case every time it is checked at the airport. It seems non of the airport scanners are not large enough for over-sized baggage. Once I have it secured, the last thing I want to do is re-open it. It is not easy to close again. The straps fall off. The combination lock is finicky, not wanting to close. And, because I have to remove parts to be scanned, I am never really sure if all the parts, and tools, are back in the case. I once arrived home without the wheel quick release skewers. They were probably left on the examination table in my hast. That’s the other thing. I am always in a such a hurry to catch my flight. The last thing I want to do is re-open that case.

I had a new strategy this trip.

Thanks to a quick witted, generous sole working at Home Depot, I figured out how to keep the additional straps on the box. Double-sided velcro.

Why didn’t I think of that?

The velcro keeps the straps in place when I re-open the case for inspection, and making it easier to cinch down again. And, I packed fewer items, making it much easier to re-close the box. It seems I was stuffing way to much inside. Instead, I packed my shoes, cleats, helmet, and all my kits in either my carry on knapsack or other checked bag.

Voila! Problem solved. $500 saved.

And not only that, I was able to better protect the carbon frame, forks, and seat post. Again, my new found Home Depot friend suggested insulation wrap used to cover pipes.

Foam, self seal pipe insulation!

It’s easy to install. Easy to remove. And, re-usable.

See, you can teach an old dog new tricks 😆

 

Sharing the road …

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Again, the weatherman forecast rain and high winds. Instead, I basked in the sun with no wind. Go figure.

Lou and I did laps on the Stanly Park road. This is one of my favourite workouts. It has everything. Flats. Rollers. A 2 km climb, followed by a 3 km, fast descent. During the summer months, there is a lot of tourist traffic. This time of year, particularly weekdays, I almost have the road to myself.

Except today.

Lou: “Boy that was fun.”

Today I shared the road with 6 colourful Lamborghinis and a black Bentley. They were a little faster, and a lot noisier but I didn’t mind. They had to stop before slowly rolling over speed bumps, so I got a good look.

I never figured it out. I could have asked. I suspect they were part of a wedding party. Then again, mid-afternoon on a Friday is an unusual time for a wedding. And, no one was dressed up.

I should have stopped.

Lou: “We were having too much fun.”

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New fenders …

It’s that time of year again. The rainy season. It is clear and cold right now, but that won’t last for long.

My commuter has a set of full length fenders, and I don’t mind riding her (Thatch) in the rain. As I have said many times, I enjoy it and view it as more of an adventure than anything else. The key is to stay dry and warm. Once I figured that out, my life changed. I generally don’t ride the road bikes, particularly the Garneau (Lou), in the rain. But I do go out when the roads are still wet after a rainfall, usually taking the Roberts (Chas). When the roads are dry, all of the bikes get a turn, but I digress.

I need fenders for the weekend club rides. When you are tight on someones’ wheel, you don’t want to wear wheel splatter on your face. And, you don’t want the dirt and wet to spray up your back. Do you?

I wanted a pair of fenders that were easy to install without bolts and wrenches that I could, when necessary, quickly switch between the Roberts and the Garneau, between Chas and Lou. I came across the SpeedEZ Road fenders from Planet Bike in my local bike shop. They mount on any bike with 700C tires up to 25 mm in just minutes. No bolts. No wrenches. Just a little patience. More than I had initially 🙂

I have them on the Roberts right now. It took a ride or two to get them properly centred over the tires without rubbing. There is a trick. There always is a trick. But once I understood symmetry, and put my glasses on, it was easy 🙂

Cold but clear …

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A strong, arctic, high pressure system is hovering over the south coast, and is expected to last for another week. It’s cold. And clear. Highs of no more than 7C during the day. And below freezing overnight. When I awake there is frost on the roofs, and some of the roads.

Some of you will say, “So what”. You are used to the cold and snow but you have to understand it is unusual for these parts. There is actually more snow on the slopes of the local mountains than last year, and the ski facilities haven’t even opened for the season.

The cold hasn’t stopped me from cycling. In fact, I enjoy it.

Did you hear that Bri?

I find if I layer up, wear neoprene booties, a toque, and a helmet cover, I put in the same mileage. I may go a little slower – the faster I go the colder it gets – but it’s actually enjoyable. It sure beats the spinning bike!

This weather won’t last, I’m sure. The warmer, wetter weather is certain to return. In the meantime, I’m going to get out on the bikes as often as possible.

Chas: “I’m glad to hear that. I’ve been hanging, staring at this wall for a week now.”

I may even take Lou out for some repeat hill climbs tomorrow.

Lou: “Yikes. I’ll need a coat. Layers like you. Right?”

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Bike Etiquette | Quick Releases

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Did you know the renowned Italian bike racer Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release skewer in 1927.

In Tullio’s day, racing bikes had 2 gears and no derailleurs. Instead, there were gears on either side of the rear wheel – one for climbing and one for all other terrain. To change gears, the cyclist had to dismount, loosen the bolts on the rear wheel axle, turn the wheel around, re-titghten the bolts, and remount the bike. One time, at the summit of a long climb, Tullio wasn’t able to loosen the nuts on the rear axle with his cold hands. And, that’s how the idea for a quick release mechanism was born.

Chas: “Wow! We have 20 gears and even that isn’t enough sometimes.”

Today, quick releases are commonplace on the more expensive bikes. They make it easier to fix a flat tire, load a bike into cramped spaces (like the back of a compact car), thoroughly clean the bike, and complete other regular maintenance items.

There is a right and wrong way to tighten a quick release. If they are incorrectly fastened, you run the risk of a wheel actually coming off during a ride. If fastened correctly, they are as safe as any other fastening method.

And, there is a right and wrong way to position a quick release. Do it right, and you will look like a pro. Do it wrong, and you run the risk of the lever opening during a ride, find it more difficult to close, and look like a newbie.

IMG_3912You might think I’m being trite.

Why does it matter how the quick release is positioned as long as it is closed properly? To some extent, this is true. However, if the lever is facing forward instead of parallel with the front fork or rear chain stay as illustrated, there is a chance it may be inadvertently opened by trail side brush (if you are on a MTB), clothing, or something else. So, it is safer to close the skewers in line with the fork and chain stays. It’s also easier to close them in this position because you can clasp the fork (or stay) with your fingers and squeeze the lever closed. And, at least to my mind, they look better in this position. The bikes lines remain consistent and cleaner. It looks like you care. And, you want to care about your bike 🙂

Just before heading out on a ride with either Chas or Lou, I straddle the top tube, lean over the bars, unlock the quick release on the front wheel, tap the top of the tire to make certain the axle is properly seated in the drop outs, and re-lock the skewer, making certain it is parallel with the fork. I do this to make certain the axle is properly seated and the skewer is closed. I will be cycling quickly, and I don’t want any mishaps. With the quick release lever parallel with the fork, it is easy to close. I place the lever in the palm of my left hand, curl my fingers around the fork, and carefully squeeze the skewer closed.

Lou: “I always wondered why you did that.”

Chas: “Me too. That makes sense.”

 

 

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

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There is no one perfect fit …

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Lou at rest mid-climb overlooking the bay

I have come to realize there is no one perfect bike fit.

This past weekend, I cycled 120+ km with Lou.

Chas: “What’s with that? We rode all week. Did the most difficult climbs over and over again. Then you do the easy ride with him.”

On Saturday we did a 40+ km solo ride with a lot of hard climbing and fast decants. All the while I kept thinking of how comfortable my son’s Cervelo felt the previous weekend; and, how far I was reaching on Lou.

On Sunday, we did an 80+ km group ride hammering around the river delta. Apart from the climb home, the ride was flat and fast. I was on the drops most of the time, and all the while I kept thinking how comfortably the bike fit.

Lou: “You felt just fine. Not uncomfortably stretched. You see. We are a pair.”

Two different rides, two different feelings. You see, when I’m on the drops hammering or battling a wind, I benefit from the more aggressive setup, and it feels comfortable. On the other hand, when I’m climbing long hills, I prefer a more relaxed fit because I’m on the tops most of the time.

I understand why the tour riders have different bikes for different stages; even different bikes for parts of the same stage; different gearing, and, different positioning.

Maybe that’s the answer. I need more bikes 🙂

One for each of the different rides I enjoy. One for long, difficult climbs with lower gearing and a stiff, light frame; one for the flats with higher gearing and more aerodynamic fit; and, one for rolling terrain with …

Exactly. What do I need for rollers? Something in between 🙂

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Lou at rest in a cabbage patch in the river delta

Chas: “I don’t like the sound of this. You think I’m old, heavy, and slow. Well, you are older and heavier than me you know.”

In my world, there is a lot of climbing. A lot of hills, mountains, and rollers. Occasionally, I do a long, flat ride around the river delta, the only place to find flat in these parts.

Is there an in-between setup? A compromise? Perhaps? I’ll try a shorter stem, but after this past weekend, I’ll keep the longer ones on-hand.

Maybe, just maybe, I have the perfect compromise already. Chas is perfect for the long, flat and rolling rides. His longer wheel base, larger section tires, and steel frame quiet the ride, and once rolling, inertia takes over. He rolls effortlessly. And, Lou, with a shorter stem, lighter, stiffer frame, and lower gearing is ideal for long, difficult climbs.

Maybe I don’t need another bike after all 🙂

Chas: “Now you’re talking!”

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Chas at rest at the “big lake” this past summer

But it would be nice 🙂

Chas: “Be careful what you wish for.”