“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?

Nothing.

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 😃

Rest days … 😠

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Rest Days.

They are the hardest. Harder than repeat hill climbs. Harder than all out sprints. Harder than a century ride. Resting when the weather is sunny and warm is difficult. I don’t mind taking a day off when it is raining or cold, but when the weather is nice, I’d rather be cycling.

This time of year, I have to force myself to rest. I know I must. I know that rest is as important as working out. I know that if I don’t rest, my workouts will suffer. I know that without sufficient rest, I am more prone to injury. I know that as I age, it is even more important. I know that full recovery takes longer now. As carefully as I manage my sleep and diet, I must still rest. I am careful to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. At Camp PedalWORKS, I go to bed when the sun sets, and rise when it comes up the next morning. And, my meal plans include a 4-1 ratio of carbohydrates to proteins, proportions recommended by many coaches.

So, at least once a week (sometimes more frequently), I take a day off. No cycling. No gym workouts. A day to putter, do household chores, food shop, clean and tune the bike, and these days, sit in the sun.

When I was younger, it didn’t seem to matter as much. I recovered more easily. Or, thought did. I was invincible. I also suffered a number of injuries that I still suffer from today. I wonder why 🤔

So, today is a rest day. I drove to the dump to discard some “hazardous materials”, old paint cans, and met up with a local cycling legend for coffee. Like me, he is a “senior”, and organizes weekly, Sunday morning group rides in the lake region ranging from 30-100 km. I have decided to join them for the summer while I’m at Camp PedalWORKS to help prepare for the 2017 Whistler Gran Fondo, meet other road cyclists in the area, and learn new cycling routes.

Last week, I discovered a gym that I didn’t know existed. And today, I discovered a cycling group, some of who are also training for the 2017 Whistler Gran Fondo.

It is a small world.

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 😂