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.


The Shimano RS61 Wheelset

What a birthday present!  The kind of present you want to both give and receive.  The kind that makes you better.  Makes you faster.  And, makes you feel younger.

I installed the new wheel set on the Roberts this morning.  It was quick and easy.  I transferred the tires and tubes from my old set of wheels.  The rims are tubeless but accept tubes as well.  I removed, cleaned and installed the old cassette remembering to use the 10-speed spacer provided with the wheels.  This wheel set supports both 11 and 10-speed systems.  I installed a new set of Kool-Stop Dura Road brake pads both front and back.  These pads are made with a softer compound, break quickly and wear well.  There is a lot of life left on my old Shimano pads but I wanted a new set for the new rims.

I was ready to roll.  Anxious to try the new wheels.  I decided to do a 45 km lap around the Stanley Park road.  The ride includes a combination of several good climbs, a fast descent and rolling sections.  A route I am very familiar with.

The wheels were brilliant.  Quiet.  Sturdy.  Fast.  And, they look really good.  I was a little surprised how positive they felt.  It may be the larger, wider hubs.  I climbed the Prospect Point Hill faster than I ever have spinning a larger gear.  I descended faster down the hill than I ever have reaching speeds of 55 kph on the relatively short descent.  On the flats, I was rolling at 30-35 kph, several kph faster than I usually spin on these sections.

I am in better shape after spending a month on the bike in Bolsover.  I am certain that is part of the reason for the increase in speed.  But the wheels made a difference.  They felt smooth, solid and fast.  I had confidence in them taking corners more quickly than usual and descending fearlessly.

What a great present.  The wheels made me feel younger.  That’s the kind of birthday present you want to give to your aging parents.



Prepping the bike (and me) …


Today, I spent time with final preparations for Tuesday’s Canada Day Populaire (147 km). I am busy tomorrow and may not have the time.  Besides, I like to check things carefully and early, just in case I need to visit the bike shop.

This is the checklist –

  1. Cleaned and Pledged frame and components.
  2. Cleaned the tires, rims and brake pads.  I actually use car tire cleaner and polish on the tires.
  3. Check bag for flat tire repair making certain I have a spare tube, tire irons, an H2O cartridge (2) and, a multi-tool.  I am using the largest bad I have.  It has extra room for my wallet, Cliff Bars and Gel tubes so I don’t need to stuff everything in the jersey pockets at the start.
  4. Apply leather guard to the saddle.  It protects from the rain, keeps the leather soft and puts a shine on it.
  5. Cleaned and lubricated the chain.  This is a weekly ritual, regardless of the mileage or weather conditions.
  6. Tightened all bolts and screws – stem, bars, derailleurs, brakes, seat post , saddle mount and cable fasteners.  I hate rattles.
  7. Inflated the tires (100 psi for this set).  I usually inflate the front 5 psi less for better traction on descents.
  8. Adjusted brake cables making certain there is the same tension in each.
  9. Reset the wheel diameter on the computer.  Gotta get that speed and distance correct.

This didn’t take long.  And, it is nothing unusual.  I do this every week or two with each of the bikes.  The Roberts was already in excellent condition.  45 minutes at most.  And then, I did a 35 km ride to test the bike and, my legs.  The ride included two 2 km climbs and a mixture of flat and rolling sections.  Despite the long hike yesterday, my legs felt fresh as I sprinted up the hills maintaining a consistence, easy cadence throughout.

The bike is ready.  I am ready.  I just have to make 3 endurance gels, pack a few Cliff Bars and fill my water bottle.  And, oh ya, select a kit to wear.  I’ll leave that until tomorrow once I have a better understanding of the weather.  Red and white would be appropriate for Canada Day.

It’s ride time.

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.

More on fitting a (tight) tire

P1060720Fitting my new Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires has been the talk of the house for the past several days. And, the local bike shops I frequent as well.  It seems I am not the only one to experience this problem.  I am just fortunate it has not happened sooner.

Rims and tires are manufactured to within specific tolerances.  A rim diameter vary +/- 0.5 mm from the specification.  And, a tire +/- 1 mm.  This means if you are trying to fit a tire that is at the minimum tolerance on a rim that is at the maximum tolerance, it will be more difficult.  Not impossible, but certainly more of a challenge.

There are 2 additional tricks I have learned from recent discussions:

  1. apply a small amount of liquid soap on the rims enabling the tire to move with less friction; and,
  2. kneel on the floor, place the wheel between your legs facing forward, grip the tire with both hands and twist the tire using not only your hands but arms, shoulders and  torso to apply more torque.

My tire is on.  Let’s hope I don’t get a flat.

Fitting a (tight) tire

Have you ever had difficulty fitting a tire on a wheel?

Last summer I had a flat on the return leg of a very enjoyable, lengthy ride.  The first flat in over a year.  Lucky, I thought.  After removing the tire and replacing the tube, I could not get the tire back on.  A novice, you think.  Not really.  I have been installing tires, and patching flats, for over 30 years.  I laboured at the side of the road, in the heat of a hot summer day, for an hour.  Fortunately, there was a bike shop near by and, for $15, the mechanic quickly, and easily, replaced it.  I paid careful attention and thought I had learned my lesson.

It seems I did not ask the right questions.

Yesterday, I recommissioned my new Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires (part of my Roberts rebuild project) from my training wheels to my lighter carbon wheels.  Well, that’s not quite right.  I could not get the new tire on the front rim.  It was too tight.  And, I wasn’t alone.  My son, who is much more experienced (if that is possible) and stronger, had the same difficulty.  We left it while I researched the problem.

What would I do without YouTube?

I found this video that explains the problem and, more importantly, how to resolve it.  It takes the right technique, patience, hand strength and perseverance.  The key, it seems, is to make certain the tire bead is as low as possible within the rim for the portion of the tire already on so that there is additional circumference available for the unseated portion.

The tires fitted the training rims fine.  It would appear the Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 C24 rims are a touch larger making the installation a little more difficult.  And, frustrating.

Watch the video and practice before you get stuck on the road as i did.

What is the ideal tire pressure?

New Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires,

New Michelin Pro 4 Endurance tires

I inflate my tires before every training ride.  I want to be as comfortable, fast and safe as possible.  Too little pressure I slow down, run the risk of unseating a tire on a hard turn or pinching a tube.  Too much pressure the ride is uncomfortable and unforgiving.  So what is the ideal tire pressure?
There are many considerations – your weight, riding style, road surface, tires, weather … You need to experiment and find the best combination of tires and pressure that works best for you.  Here are some basic guidelines for your road bike –
  • inflate your tires before every ride
  • smaller riders (120 lbs or less) inflate between 90-110 psi
  • larger riders (170+ lbs) inflate between 100-130psi
  • include the weight of your bike and any load your are carrying
  • inflate the front tire 5 psi less than the rear
  • if the road is exceptionally smooth, increase the pressure 10 psi
  • if the road is wet, reduce pressures 5-10 psi
  • if you will be doing hard cornering or long descents drop pressure 5-10 psi
  • never inflate your tires over the manufactures maximum recommended tire pressure

Find the intersection of your weight, tire diameter and cross section on the table below and then take your riding style and road surface into consideration.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.23.14 PM

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?