“The Worst Retirement Ever” … 😂

I’m spending too much time on YouTube, but it has its benefits 😂

Phil Gaimon was a professional cyclist. He retired in 2016 to find a real job (he wasn’t that good apparently), and developed a YouTube channel called The Worst Retirement Ever, where he travels the world trying to earn KOMs on the worlds toughest climbs. A formidable task, and the worst ever retirement.

Or is it?

I learned of Phil when he visited my hometown to attempt the Triple Crown. We have 3 local mountains, and each year there is a race up each of them in succession. Phil attempted to KOM each of them. I don’t know if he was successful or not. I haven’t found the video yet but it got me thinking.

I identify with Phil.

I’m retired, and all I really want to do is train, and cycle. I’m nowhere as fit, or fast, but then again, I’m also a lot older. By a long shot. And, I never raced professionally. No, I’m a recreational cyclist with an obsession. Instead of chasing KOMs around the world, I chase local PRs. It’s encouraging to see that even at my age, I can improve.

So maybe my blog needs to be renamed from PedalWORKS to The Worst Retirement. Certainly most people my age are not interested in pushing themselves physically the way I do. But I look at it differently.

What is more important than your health? My health?


Cycling gets me out the door, challenging myself, and engaged. What more could I ask for?

There is something.

Warm weather all year round. When we are done with COVID-19, I hope to spend the summer months at Camp PedalWORKS, and the winters in Arizona 😃

Well, I finished the 2017 Pacific Populaire👏👏👏


Well, I finished safely 👏👏👏 This was the first group event I have completed since crashing last fall.

And, I posted the fastest time ever, despite batting a 15-20 kph headwind 50% of the time 👏👏👏

I have completed the Pacific Populaire 4 times now, and proudly display my event pins in my den. The Pacific Populaire is the first local century ride of the season, and I look forward to it each year because it keeps me motivated during the coldest, wettest months of the year in these parts. It is the same route each year, so riders learn where to safely attack, and where its better to hold back. The route is 100 km long with 17 km of climbing with grades averaging  3%, up to a maximum of 9%.

For most of the route, I rode with two other cyclists, each of us taking turns pulling, and averaging 25 kph for the entire course. It seemed faster than that. We were often travelling 30-40 kph, but had to battle a strong headwind half of the time, and because we cycle through the city, we must obey all traffic lights. You wouldn’t believe how much they can slow you down. There are ~ 25 km of the course where we were affected. We seemed to catch all the red lights 😠 So, a 25 kph average is not bad considering.

However, I feel I could have gone harder, and faster. I averaged ~ 80% of my maximum heart rate over the 4 hours, and yet had “gas left in the tank” at the end. I could have worked harder. Also, my cycling comrades pushed a more relaxed pace for 20 km, and then took a shortcut back to the finish with 20 km remaining. They tired.

In general, I was pleased with my result. I prepared differently this season, and it payed off. I felt strong, and confident on the bike, despite not having many hours in the saddle beforehand.

This is what I did differently.

  1. For 3 months, I trained 6 days a week including a modified cardio program, strength training, particularly for the cycling muscles, the legs and core.
  2. Most of the cardio workouts were completed on a Keiser spinning bike. It was too cold, icy, and wet from January – March to train regularly outside on the road bikes.
  3. I used the built in power meter on the Keiser to regulate the workouts instead of my heart rate monitor. It is a more accurate measure of effort.
  4. The cardio workouts were varied, including endurance, lactate threshold, VO2 max, and recovery rides lasting 45-60 minutes.
  5. I had specific FPT and strength goals, and retested at the beginning of each month so that I could revise my training zones (both heart rate and watts) accordingly, gradually increasing my training load.
  6. Leg workouts included leg press, hamstring curls, and leg extension exercises twice weekly. And, I lifted differently than I have in the past, lifting one-legged, and until failure, for 6-8 sets. I have lifted “heavy” for several years but this time I made an effort to balance my leg strength by doing each of the exercised one leg at a time.
  7. Core workouts included crunches, planks, pallof presses, core twists using the cable machine, and leg raises three times a week. Again, I workout “heavy”, and the pallof press was new to me.
  8. Using the Garmin activity tracker, I tracked and recorded my resting heart rate, and sleep quality every day. I had never done this consistently before and was surprised to learn that my RHR on average is in the mid forties, and that I average 9+ hours of sleep a night, including ~ 5 hours of “deep” sleep.
  9. I maintained a detailed daily log tracking every workout. I did this so that I have a guide for the next 3 months, and for next year when I plan to start the process over again.
  10. I tapered for 3 weeks prior to the event, maintaining training intensity while reducing the duration of the workouts – 30% the first week, 20% the following week, and an additional 10% the final week. I had never tapered “gradually” before, and never for 3 weeks. It worked. I felt refreshed, and eager to race by the end of it.
  11. I only managed to complete 5 road rides before the event because of the weather, gradually increasing the distance over a 2 week period, never riding more than 65 km. This was a concern but I learned you can train effectively inside.
  12. I stretched regularly, particularly on rest days. I seldom does this in the warmer months when I’m on the bikes more. I need to change this up. Stretching aids with recovery, particularly when training hard.
  13. I rested 1 day each week, and 2 days at the end of each month. This was difficult. I’m not accustomed to rest days.
  14. I paid better attention to my diet and nutrition, adding more protein, and making certain I ate within 60 minutes of every workout.

This schedule and training technique seemed to agree with me. I improved my strength, VO2 max, flexibility, and endurance.

So, what is next … 🤔

Well, I have things to work on.

For starters, I didn’t lose as much weight as I hoped. A reduction of 5-10 pounds will improve both my speed and climbing ability. Once I am at the cottage, cycling longer distances, and eating my own cooking for a few months, I will shed 10 pounds quickly.

Also, I need to cycle on the roads more frequently. Now that the weather is improving, I can switch from the spinning bike to the road bikes. I plan to ride 250-300 km every week while I’m at the cottage.

And, I had better hydrate better. I left with two full bottles, one with electrolytes, and the other plain water. I returned 4 hours later with only half a bottle gone.  I didn’t seem thirsty at the time but quickly downed 2 beer when I settled in to watch the back nine finish at the Masters. I need to do a better job of this.

Oh yeah. I need to cycle with a team of 3-4 other cyclists prepared to work as hard, and long as me. I’m going to call it Team PedalWORKS 😂

Interested … 🤔

I have registered for another century ride (MEC (Toronto) – Horseshoe Valley Century Ride) on July 15 while I’m at the cottage. That gives me another 3 months to lose the weight, accumulate more road miles, and learn to hydrate better.

I’m also going to experiment with a more polarized training schedule, but let’s leave that for a subsequent post.

Are you planning to complete a century ride soon?

All set to ride … 😂

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 3.22.38 PM

The weather looks good. It’s going to be dry, somewhat warm, and windy. The bike is cleaned and lubricated. My cycling clothes are clean. The gels made. I’m all set to go.

The first century of the season, the Pacific Populaire, is tomorrow. I feel like one of the golfers awaiting a late afternoon, weekend start time at the Masters.

I have 2 goals for the day. First, finish strong and safely. This will be my first event since the high-speed crash last September. And secondly, I want to finish, and be home, to watch back nine play at the 2017 Masters. The ride begins at 9:00 AM, and is 100 km in length. That means I need to average 25 kph to be home in time 😂

How to roll your IT Bands and Quads … 🤔

I had a leg massage today.

This is the first massage I have had in years. I want to see if massage can aid with recovery. Many professional cyclist swear by them. I have been training hard for the past 3 months, and despite an increased focus on rest days, quality sleep and restorative nutrition, I have noticed increased muscle soreness, particularly in the legs.

Will massage help?

Massage is as integral to a professional cyclist’s daily routine as riding the bike is. What does massage do for a cyclist?  First and foremost massage promotes recovery by flushing the toxins up to the heart so that new oxygenated blood can circulate. If you notice, the massage therapist will always rub the muscles upwards towards the heart. The massage is actually pushing out the muscle’s carbon dioxide rich blood to the lungs and heart which is then filtered to come out as oxygen rich blood that goes back into the muscles.  The body will do this naturally but massage drastically speeds up the process.

It’s too early to tell. I just had the massage today. I’ll have to wait several days to know. But I can say that the massage made me more aware of which muscles need attention. I learned that my IT bands and quads are tight, and sore, probably the result of overuse. Could this be the reason my right knee and hip hurt at times?  It’s possible 🤔

The masseuse suggested I begin using a roller regularly to self-massage these muscles  following every workout, and long ride.

IT Band – The illiotibial band (ITB) is a thick strap of soft tissue that extends down the outside of your leg. It’s notoriously hard to work on using traditional stretching movements but, if allowed to become overly tight, can be at the root of a number of common and painful knee problems. The best method for keeping your ITB functioning optimally is to use a foam roller.

Quads – This muscle group at the front of your thighs consists of four muscles, the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and sartorius. The rectus femoris especially is responsible for driving your pedals around but, if allowed to become too tight, can have an adverse effect on both posture and biomechanics, resulting in lower back pain and potentially hip and knee problems.

I see people in the gym using rollers, and noticed we have several. Some harder than others. The masseuse suggested using one after every workout when the muscles are warm, gradually building up the number of rolling repetitions over several weeks..

This is not the first time rollers have been recommended to me. My son, who is a personal trainer, even made me one with a re-cycled cardboard tube and inner tube. It’s around somewhere, but I found it too hard, and short to use effectively. The masseuse suggested beginning with a softer version that is 2-3 feet in length.

Knowing these muscles are tight, and that they may be causing discomfort, or possibly injury, I’ll try using a roller for the next month, and then book another massage. I’m not ready to begin to taper for the Pacific Populaire but will treat this rolling regimen as part of the tampering process. I want to be rested, and injury free for the event.

If you have had experience with a roller, I’d like to hear about it.


Cycling efficiency …🤔

I’m a deep thinker 😂

I have been thinking about this for awhile now.

I am preparing for several long, challenging events this year ranging in length from 100-150 kms. It’s important to pace myself, conserve energy whenever possible, and cycle efficiently.

What does that mean? Cycle efficiently 🤔

The French have a word for beautiful pedalling: souplesse. And it’s not just elegant, it’s usually more efficient too. However, it’s not the only consideration and pedalling efficiency is often guided by personal and physiological preference – what feels right is probably the most efficient.

Over the years, it has meant different things to me. I frequently train in Stanley Park, completing several laps around the road. Each lap is approximately 10 km and includes a 2 km climb, a 2 km descent, and 6 km of flat, and rolling terrain. Each lap provides an opportunity to practice climbing, descending, and sprinting skills.

This is what I think about, and work on, while circling the park with the goal of maintaining a consistent pace, and reducing lap times.

  • Pedal in circles. What does that mean? Well, it means engaging all legs muscles throughout the entire pedal stroke – quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.  This sounds easy enough but requires concerted practice. Even after decades of cycling, I continue to practice, making the movement from the the top and back a powerful, seamless motion.

Best done on an indoor trainer for obvious safety reasons, single-legged drills are one of the most effective ways of improving your pedalling. After a warm-up, select a medium gear/resistance that is easy to turn smoothly at 90-100rpm without causing muscle fatigue.

  • Maintain a high cadence. There was a time when I thought I needed to push large gears to go fast, and have some of the largest chainrings ever made to prove it. Boy, was I wrong. It took me a long time to realize that if I pedal faster in a lower gear I not only go faster, but with less effort.

Higher cadences often yield better efficiency – look at Chris Froome’s unnaturally high looking cadence and it does no harm to practice riding at a higher RPM.

  • Pedal while descending. I used to stop pedalling, and rest when descending. Why not? I had worked hard getting to the top, and deserved a break. Right? Wrong! I learned if I shifted into a higher gear, and continued pedalling, even with modest effort, I descended faster, and still recovered.
  • Get on the handlebar drops while descending. Get out of the wind. Get more aerodynamic. Get on the drops, tuck elbows in, and lower the chest.

The rider’s body accounts for 70 to 80 percent of drag while cycling; the bike, clothing and helmet the remainder. So getting aero on the bike will dramatically improve efficiency.

  • Select the straightest line on the descent. The straighter the line, the faster the descent. When there is no traffic, I have the full width of the 2-lane road, so that I can pick a straighter line, and descend faster with less effort.

Though you may not get a chance for some really great descending too often, chances are your regular riding gives you an opportunity to practice the basics on familiar roads.  Simple things like disciplining yourself to descend on the drops and focus on control and body position should be well drilled on the small stuff before you hit the bigger challenges.

  • Get on the handlebar tops while climbing. When climbing, position hands on the handlebar tops. This opens the chest allowing me to breath more deeply, and positions me back on the saddle which engages the glutes more.

This position can allow you to ride a bit more upright taking more pressure off your back as well as hands. This position should only be used when you are on a straight, open stretch of road, or climb, where you most definitely won’t have to use the brakes quickly as your hands will be further from them. Also, never ride the tops in a group as again your hands are too far from the brake levers.

  • Shift early. Don’t wait until it is too late. Get in a lower gear before the climb begins, not when I’m when already on the hill.
  • Hydrate regularly. Take in fluid, once every lap, and usually before the start of the climb.

That’s what I think about.

Deep eh 😂

So now what?


Look what I found during yesterday’s ride. Creatures in the park.

Last week I completed an 8 week cardiovascular training program prescribed by the American College of Sports Medicine. It was a focused and intense effort. Clearly, my fitness level has improved. So, what is next? What do I do to maintain, or even improve,  this fitness level? What new goals do I have?

I believe in having short term goals. New goals every 1-2 months. They keep me focused and motivated. Without them, I am too easily distracted. This month, I plan to complete the Pacific Populaire, the first century ride of the season in these parts. My heart, lungs and legs are ready. My butt, not so much. I have not completed enough longer rides to think I am ready. This month, I need to complete several long rides to toughen my butt. Each weekend, I plan to ride progressively longer distances – 50, 65, and 75 km rides. I’ll keep up the spinning workouts several times a week. I can get a lot done in a relatively short period of time. And, I’ll keep up with strengthening routine several times a week as well. The squats and planks have made a significant difference. This weekend I added a few more core exercises and, once I week, I do a session of core only exercises for 30-45 minutes.

So that’s the plan. More of the same, except with more time outside on the road bikes.

So, what do these creatures have to do with March’s training plan? Well, training is my  antidote. The way I fight off the perils of a sedentary, urban life. The way I quell those self destructive thoughts. The way I silence self-talk. The way I find answers. And, the way I quiet those creatures within.

I am “Excellent” !!!


I am “excellent”!

Yesterday, following a spinning workout, my Suunto M5 wrist-coach advised “Fitness level ‘excellent’ reached”.

I have just completed an 8 week conditioning program prescribed by the American College of Sports Medicine. The workouts are integrated with my Suunto M5 Heart Rate Monitor which tells me when and how hard to workout. Suunto also provides an on-line workout tracker (Movescount) that seamlessly uploads workouts from the M5 and summarizes the workouts graphically. This is a nice touch providing monthly summaries by duration, average heart rate and calories burned.

The program identifies six (6) fitness levels – very poor, poor, fair, good, very good and, excellent. You place yourself into one of these categories based on your activity level. At Christmas, I estimated I was “very good” for my age and began an 8 week program to become “excellent”. During this period, the workouts gradually became longer, more difficult and more frequent. They varied in length between 60-90 minutes including a warm-up, cool-down and post-ride stretching.

It has been an intense, highly-focused 8 weeks. I have completed 43 workouts, burned 17,000 calories and, pedalled for over 54 hours. Most of this time was on a spinning bike at the club although, I was able to get out on the road bike 5 times and recorded these rides as a workout.

I completed these workouts without the benefit of drafting, music or a spinning class leader to motivate me. These were 30 hours on the spinning bike facing a floor-to-ceiling mirror with only the Keiser computer and my M5 Suunto watch for company. I purposely decided to train this way thinking, if I could do this alone without external motivation of any kind, it would make me mentally stronger.

I am excellent!

This past week, I have been giving thought to what “excellent” feels like. It does feel different. I have experienced physical changes and, psychological ones as well.

My body has changed. It is firmer. Everywhere. My legs are more toned with noticeable muscular definition. My butt is smaller (I suspect the squats had a lot to do with that). My core, arms and shoulders are leaner. Even my face has a different look. I have not lost weight but it appears to have been redistributed leaving me with a slightly more athletic look.

I bound effortlessly up 5 flights of stairs two at a time every day. I climb 5% grades faster and more easily. I maintain a consistent pace on 3 hour rides without tiring. I walk taller with my shoulders back and stride more freely.  And, I sleep more soundly for 8 hours on most nights.

My clothes fit differently. The pant legs are looser, the waist hasn’t changed and, my shirt buttons pull a little. This is not what I expected. After burning 17,000 calories I expected to lose some weight, particularly around the waist. I am disappointed and remain 3-5 pounds heavier than my ideal weight.

My mental outlook has changed as well. I am more positive, more confident. My thoughts are clearly focused on the now and the inner chatter has lessened leaving me with fewer questions and more answers.

Excellent feels good.

But “excellent” does not mean perfect. There is room for improvement. There always is. Excellent, at least in this context, simply means I have above average cardiovascular health for my age.

Can I continue to improve? Can I get stronger? More flexible? Lose weight? Cycle faster? No doubt.

So, what’s next? Well, my wrist-caoch is not letting up. I checked the prescribed 7-day training schedule and it has me continuing to train at the same intensity 5 days out of the next 7. Also, the first century ride of the season, the Pacific Populaire, is March 29. I have completed this ride for the past several years and would like to do it again but beat last year’s time.

That’s the new goal.





For my efforts …

This is what you receive for all your effort.  A pin.  A highly coveted pin.  Six or more hours on the road, countless hours of training and what do you get in return?  A pin.  And, of course the satisfaction of completing a magnificent ride with people of like mind.  There are no t-shirts, water bottles or cycling jerseys given away.  There are no winners and, no losers.  There are no podium presentations, no yellow jersey to slip on and no media coverage.  Finishing is reward enough.

Randonneuring is a long-distance cycling sport with its origins in audax cycling where riders complete 200+ km courses, passing through control points strategically located along the route.  Every year, the BC Randonneuring Cycling Club organizes the Pacific Populaire (100 km) and Canada Day Populaire (147 km), in an attempt to grow the sport in the province.  Throughout the year, they also schedule a number of regular audax events of various lengths – 200, 300, 400, 600 and 1,000 km.

I have yet to attempt a longer event but am considering one later in the year.  In September there is a 200 km ride called the “Fall Flatlander”.  If I can complete 147 km in the heat, I think I can finish 200 km in the cooler fall weather.

I am recruiting team members now.  Interested?

Well, I finished!

I finished the 2014 Pacific Populaire, beating last year’s time by almost 30 minutes and finishing strong.

This was for you Dad

I did this ride for my father.  He would have celebrated his 98th birthday on ride day were it not for experiencing poor health in his later years.  His experience motivated me to live a healthier, more active life and, cycling has been an integral part of that.  So Dad, this ride was for you.

I have been fighting a cold this past week.  When I awoke, I had a sore throat and congestion in my lungs.  I wasn’t certain if I should even attempt the ride.  I decided to give it a try.  I could always return home, albeit with my tail between my legs.

Thirty minutes into the ride there is a 4-5% grade, 10 minute climb.  I figured if I could do the climb, I could complete the ride.  As I neared the bottom of the climb, I was feeling strong.  No one passed me on the way up and, in fact, I passed many other riders during the climb, finishing strong at the top.  I was ready.

Highlights of the Ride

A few things stand out about the ride.

First, I tried to ride with other groups as much as possible taking turns at the front pulling.  There was a 25 km stretch that I shared with four other riders, four strong road riders half my age. We shared time pulling as we battled a slight headwind, averaging a respectable 30 km/hour pace.

Second, I was noticeably stronger on the climbs this year.  I attribute this to a better off-season training program, spinning classes, a compact chainring and a peanut butter & banana sandwich at the mid-point of the ride.

And lastly, I finished much stronger than last year.  15 km from the finish there is a short, but steep, climb.  The group I was with struggled.  I was able to find a lower gear and spin easily up the climb leaving the rest of the group behind.  I had energy in reserve.  5 km from the finish, there was another short, but very steep (8-9% grade), climb.  Again, I found a low gear and accelerated to the summit.  The rest of the ride was relatively flat and I was able to average a 30-40 km/hour pace to the finish.

Credit the Roberts, Tylenol and Spinning Classes

I have to credit the rebuilt Roberts, Tylenol and spinning classes for this ride.

The Roberts performed flawlessly.  Shifting was effortless and the compact chainring made easier work of both the climbs and flats.

And, my doctor gave me some good advice regarding my cold.  There is not much you can do for a cold other than to let it run its course, rest and drink a lot of fluids.  He advised me to take Tylenol every 4 hours for the 2 days leading up to the ride.  He said the Tylenol wouldn’t cure the cold but lessen the symptoms and make me feel better.  I usually don’t do anything for a cold except perhaps a hot toddy before bed.  The Tylenol seemed to make a difference.

And, spinning classes taught me that I can work harder than I realized, be mentally strong and that when I feel tired, I still have gas in the tank.  So here is a shout out to my 30 year old son for helping me rebuild the Roberts (he is an excellent bicycle mechanic), my doctor for not letting me give up because of a cold and my spinning instructor for showing me there is always gas in the tank.

Bucket Llist Time

The ride has given me the confidence to ride more and explore new routes.  It is time to tackle some of those Cycling Bucket List items in earnest.

Training for the 2014 Pacific Populaire

2014 Pacific Populaire

Three weeks until the Pacific Pupulaire, a 100 km group ride around parts of Vancouver and Richmond.  I have been training in the gym and on the spinning bike all winter but I am certainly not saddle ready.  The first long ride of the season is a challenge.  The legs and butt are not accustomed to 4-5 hours on the road.

200 KM/Week

I have 3 weeks left to prepare.  I am planning a 60-65 km ride this weekend and a 75-80 km ride the following weekend.  I will also commute to work 3 days a week and put on extra kilometres on the way home, completing laps around Stanley Park and repeat climbs up the Prospect Point Hill.  That’s 175-200 km a week on the road.  I will also continue with the 75 minute spinning class that I am enjoying so much, probably on Thursday evening instead of Sunday, keeping the day open for longer rides.

I am also going to lose a few pounds following the tips from the video in my previous post.  The less weight I carry, the easier the ride will be.  In particular, I plan to postpone breakfast until after a morning ride, eat a larger breakfast and smaller portion dinner.

Inaugural Roberts Ride

And, I plan to ride the rebuilt Roberts.  Although the bike is heavier than the Garneau, it will be more comfortable, if a little slower.  I have a few items to fine tune on the bike (still working on the fit) but expect to have them done within a few days.  I intend to train on it over the next several weeks so that I am confident it is setup and tuned optimally for the ride.

In Memory

The ride is scheduled for Sunday, April 6, my father’s birthday.  He would have been 98 this year.  I’ll think of him the whole ride.  The health problems he experienced late in life motivated me to cycle more, strengthen my heart, reduce my weight and eat a more balanced diet.  This ride is for you Dad.

Are you planning a century this Spring?  It is an excellent way to begin the season.  It motivates you to get our on the road early and builds enthusiasm for the rest of the season.