TC-1 Hard Shell Case … 🤔

I have been travelling with the TC-1 Hard Shell Case for several years now, and have written about it several times in the past. In fact, it is one of the mostly read posts on this blog, with over 800 view in 3 years. Go figure.

What its it about this case?

Other cyclists must like to travel with their bikes 😀

The case was used when I got it. It originally belonged to one of my son’s clients. He disposed of it because the side clamps that secure the box together had been damaged, and removed. There is a small combination lock at the top, and a wide velco strap that keep the box closed but I have been increasingly more nervous travelling with it. I’m frightened it will open up in transit, and I will loose everything.

I have considered purchasing a new box but this one is a good size and weight, and apart from the missing side clasps, it is in excellent shape. So, I decided to fashion additional, high-tech closures.

So, off I went to Home Depot, returning with two additional tie-down straps, and double-sided, stick-on telco strips to secure the straps to the box. Now it can’t break apart in transit.

I’m ready to go 😂

Cadence Kit … 😂

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I have written about my new cycling computer before. The VDO M6. It has functions I never had previously. Heart rate. Gradient. Elevation gain. Time spent in each of 4 pre-defined training zones. Temperature. Stopwatch. And, with the optional Cadence Kit, current, average, and maximum cadence.

Well, this week I purchased the Cadence Kit. It’s optional, and I wasn’t sure I needed it. Then, while training on the spinning bike, I noticed how much attention I pay to the cadence display. A lot. I have learned that by increasing my cadence while in a lower gear, I actually increase my wattage output. This is a lot easier than pushing a higher gear. I’m using my cardiovascular system to generate the power, rather than my leg muscles which tires more quickly.

For the most part, the higher the intensity, the higher your cadence should be. The reason for this higher cadence is that it stresses the aerobic component more. A higher cadence engages slow twitch (Type I) muscle fibers, which are the oxidative fibers, thus saving your powerful and fast twitch (Type II) muscle fibers for when you need them – sprinting, attacking, climbing, surging. Pedaling with a higher cadence also generates decreased muscle tension and blood vessel compression. This allows blood to flow to the muscles with O2 and carry waste products away easier.

On the spinning bike, I average 90-110 rpm, sometimes higher, during my workouts. Can I do the same on the road? I have no idea, but I’m about to find out.

Most social cyclists sit on a cadence between 75-85rpm. They’ll plod along at one tempo for hours, regardless of changing terrain. What we suggest you learn is increase your cadence to between 90-100rpm regardless how flat or hilly the route is. – BikeRoar

Well, I’ll try.

I installed the kit on the Roberts frame for now. I’ll be training on this bike mostly for the next 2 months while I’m back at the cottage, cycling the quiet, rural roads. By the time I return, I will have a better understanding of what cadence I maintain on the flats, and while climbing.

How will I train differently, you ask.

I’ll try riding at 90-100rpm most of the time, and increase my cadence on small grades, remembering to control my cadence through gear choice, and not by increasing my physical effort. Once I have this down pat, I’ll increase my physical effort and pedal a faster cadence in a higher gear, which means I’ll go faster uphill 😂

Sounds easy enough. Right?

Stay tuned 😀

I have a new helmet … 😂

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I have a new helmet. And beard.

Did you notice they match 😂

I smashed the back of my previous helmet during a high-speed crash last year, and needed to replace it. I have two other helmets but they are 3 and 5 years old respectively. Manufacturers recommended not wearing a helmet longer than 3-5 years. Apparently they disintegrate over time, and gradually become ineffective.

So, I began looking for a new helmet. I frequented all of the local cycling shops to try on every model I could find looking for the safest, and best fit. In the past, I was more concerned with the look and price of a helmet, careful to chose one that matched both my bikes and kits. This time, I was less concerned about these things. Safety, and fit were foremost in my mind.

I tried on everything ranging in price from $65 – $400 CAD. Not once. Several times over the span of a month or more. I would even take selfies of myself with the helmets on and share them with others who I thought could help me make a decision. That was a mistake. Everyone had a different opinion, and they were subjective having nothing to do with my priorities. So, I turned to the internet, carefully reading consumer reviews, and manufacturers’ specifications.

In the end, I selected the MET Rivale helmet. Without question, it is the most comfortable helmet I found. It is rounder than most other models, and seems to fit my head better. It also has high safety ratings, is well vented, and considered aerodynamic. You may even see it on TDF riders, including Mark Cavendish.

This is what MET themselves say about the helmet.

The specific shape of the Rivale enables a rider to save up to 3 watts at 50km/h: this translates to a 1 second time advantage compared to other similar road helmets.

The Venturi effect allows the maximum air intake with the lowest drag possible. Through air channels inside the helmet hot air is pulled to the rear exhausting vents producing a great cooling effect.

The Rivale is the new standard of aero.

Interesting 🤔 And I have been training to improve my power. All I needed was this helmet 😂

BikeRadar have a more impartial view. I selected the helmet because of the fit, and they seem to agree.

The Rivale’s shape is more rounded than most aero helmets, which met with approval from most of our testers. The internal padding is minimal yet well placed, and the retention system is impressive, combining lightweight soft-touch straps and a new version of MET’s Safe-T retention system. The micro-adjust dial offers plenty of circumference tensioning, and we loved the 4cm vertical adjustment on offer, which enables you to sit the cradle in just the right spot. The straps can occasionally tangle and twist due to their thin material, but that’s the slightest of niggles. – BikeRadar May 21, 2016

The helmet doesn’t move on my head. It tightens snuggly, and sits a little lower on my head where a helmet is supposed to sit. I didn’t know that. Did you?

The fact that it is more aerodynamic, cooler, and matches my beard  😂 had little to do with the purchase. It’s a good fit, and safe. That’s all that mattered this time around.

Oh yeah, it looks good, and does match my bikes and kits 😂

 

Is there a safer colour … 🤔

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Since my high-speed crash, I have been thinking a lot about cycling safety – the confidence fostered by dedicated bike paths, separated bike lanes, traffic-calmed streets, and, the increased visibility of florescent, reflective clothing popular these days.

I walked to the gym for a spinning workout yesterday. Without much thought, I placed my new runners and cycling shoes beside one another as I was packing up. They both feature florescent yellow-green markings.

Why is that? What is there about this colour?

Well, it has been proven to be the most noticeable colour, standing out from all backgrounds, and thereby making it safer for cyclists (and runners) to share the road with motorists. In that moment, I realized I frequently wear the most dangerous kit colours of all. Black. Black shoes, tights, bibs, jerseys, and jackets. I do wear some colour but no florescent yellow-green. None.

So, I had a quick look on-line at one of my favourite cycling apparel shops. Guess what? They feature numerous jackets, and jerseys that are florescent yellow-green.

Is it time for a new cycling kit 🤔

You guessed it.

I purchased a florescent long-sleeve, cycling jersey, and wind jacket. If nothing else, I am going to be seen on the road this spring.

 

He finished!

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Well, he finished. No mishaps. He even beat last year’s time. BUT. There is always a but. He was disappointed. Thinks he sould have placed higher. Perfectionists. They’re never satisfied.

He went out early with two “older guys”. For 100 km they took turns pulling every 30-60 seconds, maintaining a high pace, never allowing themselves time to rest and recover. At the 100 km mark, he was broken by the two “older guys”. “Older guys” are not supposed to break a young guy like him. He struggled alone for several km until joined by a larger but slower group. He finished with them but the 2 “older guys” weakened his legs, and broke his spirit.

“Older guys” aren’t supposed to do that. It was an important life lesson. They may have been older but more experienced. They had years of miles on their legs and knew exactly what they were doing. They knew the young legs would fade.

We spent the rest of the day talking about his race, different tactics he might have used, and plans for next year’s race. We talked about the benefits of racing with a team, a group that can support and challenge one another the entire race.

Lou: “Let’s do it next year. You can do it. I know you can. You’re an old guy.”

Chas: “You’re not doing it without me! I’m old too!”

Thatch: “Let’s pack the camping gear. We can make it into a 2 day adventure.”

Unexpectedly, we were joined by my other son, his partner, and my grandson. We all went to a local, glacier fed lake for a cold, very cold, swim. And, to relax in the sun for several hours before sharing a dinner, a few beers, and a spirited discussion.

It was a good day. A relaxing, family day. And, another day without a bike ride. That’s two days in a row.

I’m ready for a bike ride 🙂

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I was “chic(ed)” on Mother’s Day

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I was chic(ed) on Mother’s Day. How appropriate.

I lost my Mom 15 years ago. Well, I didn’t misplace her. I know where she is. That’s her lying in the grass with my Dad’s head in her lap while he was waiting to be shipped overseas in 1944.

To commemorate my mother, and all of the other mother’s in my life, I did what all avid cyclists would do, I registered for a 100 km bike race. I never cycled with my mother. It wasn’t her sport. She was a competitive swimmer in her day. But yesterday, I shared a ride with her.

This race turned out very differently than I expected, and it was because of 5 wonderful women, some of whom were also mothers.

I don’t usually race 100 km rides. I am more accustomed to brevet style events which tend to be more casual, and more relaxed. We put in a good effort, but I would not call it a race. Yesterday was different. I didn’t plan it that way, but these women took me to a new level.

I started the race at the head of the pack. I didn’t expect to keep pace for the entire 100 km. I simply wanted to get off the line early so as not to be slowed down by the mass of riders at the start. And, I did well. I kept pace for the first 10 km until a couple of red lights broke up the group and I lagged behind.

I was alone riding through very scenic rural countryside with a view of the mountains to the north. I thought, if nothing else this ride will be enjoyable. Shortly thereafter a woman got on my wheel, and began talking about all of her touring expeditions to Europe, Vietnam and the US. Again, I thought this won’t be fast but a pleasant ride in the country.

We were keeping a decent pace, each taking a turn pulling. At one point she cranked the pace up to 30 kph, and turning her head, asked “Is this pace OK?”. She was 20 years younger than me, and must have thought I was too old for this.

A few kilometres later we were joined by another 2 women. They were experienced racers, and were training for an upcoming ironman. We got on their wheel, wondering if we could keep up. No problem. We each took turns at the front, and we began averaging 35+ kph.

A few kilometres later, another 2 young women hopped on the train. One was a PhD student training for a half-triathelon, and the other was a middle-aged, powerfully built mother of 2. Now we were 6. Me, and 5 much younger women. We didn’t know one another, and yet we gelled as a group immediately, each taking turns at the front, staying tight on one another’s wheel while maintaining that 35+ kph pace for 50 km.

I felt like I could go faster, but I wasn’t certain if I could maintain the pace for 100 km. At the 50 km mark we hit the hills. For almost 20 kilometres we had climb after climb, one at a 19% grade. You can imagine what that did to our little group. But at the the 75 km mark, we were back together, sharing the load once again.

Women are different. I am not used to cycling with them often, but after yesterday’s experience, I hope to do it more often. First, I was surprised to see how competitive, and strong they were. Then I noticed how supportive they were to one another. If someone fell off the back, another would yell out “Soft pedal”, and we would slow down enabling her to get back on the train. When a rider would peel off the front, as she passed each of us behind, we would all thank her for her hard work pulling. This was a no-drop, supportive group that was having fun pushing one another to another level.

These women made me think of my mother, and how supportive she was throughout my life. She never left me behind, and was always there for me. And, more than anyone, she pushed me to be better, to be all I could be. These women did the same. Some of them were young enough to be my daughter, and yet they made me feel part of the group, encouraged me, never letting me drop off, and one in particular pushed me to my limit only leaving me behind on the very last climb of the day.

We finished the race in 4 hours averaging 25 kph. We would have been a lot faster had it not been for 20 km of climbing, our no-drop attitude, and the fact we got lost once.

So Mom, this race was for you, and all of the other mother’s out there.