Burlington…and back

Two hours to Burlington and back despite the cold at 5 degrees C and a headwind on the return trip along Lakeshore Road.

I might get gloves with fingers 🙂

Average speed was just 16 km/hr but the wind and the rise in elevation near the end of the ride was all apart of this.

I had watch a British cycling video this morning during guitar practice and marvelled at the stamina of the young men and women who race in the cold and wet of Britain during early season racing.

Some of them aren’t all that young but maybe that’s just the wear and tear of bicycle racing showing. Some of them are physically perfect able to rise out of their saddles and climb the highest hills. Fortunately the video showed the back of the peloton where young, new riders struggled to keep pedalling. I can so related.

Several of the young fit ones road with me today as thought of them as I pedalled alone into the wind and cold. I stopped only once for a few moments as the part of me that sits on the bike isn’t quite up to the challenge yet.

I am enormously pleased with myself and can’t wait to get to hot yoga tonight to iron out some of the aches and pains.

This just might work 🙂

It Doesn’t Get Faster

Managed to get the Scott CR1 Pro out for a short run yesterday. Despite the six degree C temperature I bundled up, clipped in and pedalled down to my LBS in downtown Oakville.

I need an adjustment on my wireless Cat’sEye bike computer and within minutes I was back on the road.3098_10153538706381169_7552897096369745097_nDue to my own nervousness and some road work my average speed was 18 km/hour (which was my normal high speed on my converted Marin mountain bike with road tires) and I did hit a high on the flats of 32 km/hr. Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!

And here’s a revelation: Once you’ve bought a decent bike it’s not the bike that’s going to make the major difference in your speed, it’s the rider 🙂

Yes it’s important to buy a bike with a light frame but light frames can be had in titanium, steel, aluminum and carbon fibre. Anything over $1200 or so is going to go fast. You’re not going to go faster on a $5,000 bike.

Better frames do have some advantages but if you’re my age you’re not likely to benefit from less flexibility (puts more power into the pedals which is important if you’re a real racer) or more racer-like geometry (harder on the less flexible and older body) which puts you lower on the bike this lowering wind resistance.

Most of the rest of the money you spend is spent on upgrading components.

I was lucky to get upgraded rims which cost over $500 a pair on their own. They were thrown into the deal for the PRO-1 and this bike has near top of the line Ultegra components which, while they do cost more, sure shift smoothly. There’s not much to upgrade on this bike which would make any major difference to my style of riding.

Here’s how I ride right now:

I am adjusting to the bike by tilting my pelvis so I’ve got a bend in my lower back and as I lower myself a little on the drops on the handlebars the bike goes faster. This is because as I use more of my gluts than my quadriceps I get more efficient and powerful.

So when they say you should pedal your ass all around town, they’re not kidding.

It Fits

Racer Sportif had my Scott CR1 Pro ready for my fitting yesterday morning. We started by picking out a pair of Giro cycling shoes and adding cleats. Then I got on the bike and snapped myself in.ScottCR110

Well I snapped myself in on the fifth attempt and getting snapped out was a challenge but like all things bio-mechanical it will just take time to get better at this simple movement.

I won’t be taking the bike out on the road until I can do this with ease as I don’t need another fall. (Fell down the stairs two months ago and tore my supraspinatus muscle. Hurts like heck and stiffens up. Been doing physic and shouldn’t affect my riding too much.)ro_c_tea

If I’m lucky I might get out next week as it’s 1 degree C right now with snow in the Toronto forecast for later.

Back to the fitting as Frank Mizerski did the fitting starting with the saddle height and then saddle position as measured by the angle of my knee (usually around 40 degrees).

Everything felt pretty good and despite the stiffness in my right shoulder I thought we’d got the setup just about right but Frank was not satisfied with how I was seated.

I was rounding my back too much and not creating a pelvic tilt. Part of that was the soreness in my shoulder and I said to Frank to leave the setting if he thought it was just the shoulder injury that was creating my position but he wanted to shorten the distance of my reach to the handlebars.

A quick swap of the stem to a slightly shorter one and I immediately felt better. I could tell the weight distribution from my butt to my hands had neutralized a lot more.53a98ceb6d096

The original very narrow tires on the 700c wheels were swapped out for Continental Ultra Race 700X23c. These wider tires have about the same rolling resistance as the original tires but provide a much more comfortable ride.

And BTW don’t Google tire reviews as they’re all over the map. Some folks love the Continentals and others had issues right away. You can’t predict when you’re going to run over some debris and the weight and aggressiveness of the rider has a lot to do with how the tires perform. Besides if you don’t like the tires you have, replacements are relatively cheap.

After less than an hour of fitting we had the bike right and then Frank let me in on a little secret.LightSkewers_1024x1024

My wife, Marion, had dropped by the shop and bought a set of lights for the new bike. The Real Speed USB charger Skewer Lite System puts LED lights on your front and rear axles. Pretty cool and an really nice gesture of support from my wife who intends on getting a whole new man out of this riding bike thing 🙂

Before we were finished Frank fired off an email to a local guy who organizes group rides in the Oakville/Burlington area. By the time I got home I was invited to join a Grupetto ride of 30-40km (at 25-28 km/hr) likely to start in April.

Now I don’t know whether I can ride at 25-28 km/hr let alone keep it up for 30 to 40 km but I guess as soon as it warms up a little and the snow melts I’ll find out especially if I can get in and out of my cleated pedals.

Getting Fitted

Today’s the day I get fitted on my new bike.

Gone are the days your Dad would go to Canadian Tire and come back wth a steel-framed bike for you that was likely a little too big (and way too heavy) as you’d grow into it in time. Of course, this bike was pretty much indestructible so long as you oiled the chain every year or so.

When it comes to road bikes that you might take out for a 20 km ride or maybe a 200 km epic tour you want you bike to be fitted to your body.bike-fitting2

Yes you can do this yourself but if you’ve bought a half decent road bike from your local bike shop (LBS) then check if your shop adds a fitting to your purchase. This is one option that you shouldn’t pass on. Your LBS not only has the expertise to do a proper fit but they also have the tools and parts to make your bike fit your body. This BTW is a one really good reason not to buy a bike online but go to your LBS. While you might save a buck or two online there’s nothing like a local shop if you need help or if something breaks.

I did my own fit on my 15-year-old Marin mountain bike and it took me an entire summer to get the bike feeling right and now that I’ve done a lot of research on fitting I am thinking the Marin needs a second look especially as I changed out the tires from mountain to road tires. I can do 30-40 km on it pretty easily but who knows what damage I might be doing if the dimensions I dialled in are off a could of centimetres or so. It’s also a pretty heavy bike and it’s tough to get it rolling faster than 20 kms/hr or so. It’s a terrific setup for rough or off road travel but it sucks on pavement.

So a standard fitting which takes about an hour is usually around $75 and a dynamite buy if you can get it with the bike purchase.09_Guru_VidStill_6193merge

Some LBS have invested in computer-assisted fitting machines and programs which are of importance to very serious amateur (and pro) racers. Rates for this kind of fitting which can take several hours can hit $300 and are worth every penny if you’re riding three or four times a week, exercising and lifting weights and putting yourself on a special diet just to get a few seconds faster in your next race.

You and I don’t need this level of fitting but the basic fit is critical.

One thing to consider: As you get better you’re going to need to check how your bike is fitting. I’m working on setting some pretty aggressive goals for myself this summer (more to come later) and I’m thinking I might need to go back for a second fitting at the end of this season.


Your New Bike

If you’re in reasonable shape* and you’re considering buying a bicycle, you’re going to need some help as the choices out there are many and they are confusing.

If you’re brand new to cycling you might want to consider something that you can pedal to the grocery store and back with relative ease.urban

Don’t be tempted to buy your new bike at discount store or hardware store. Our parents bought us our first bikes that way but you’re not a kid anymore and bikes have changed.

Consider buying from a local bike shop (LBS). They can show you bikes that will be just right for you and, even better, most will fit the bike to you before you drive off the lot. Expect to pay somewhere from $500 to $1500 for a bike that will last you the rest of your life and will be a pleasure to pedal.

Buying anything cheaper will likely end up badly with a bike that’s hard to ride and rider who ends up not riding at all. These are not your father’s prices but the times have changed.pinarello_rokh_105_road_bike_-_651_2012

If you’re considering joining a bicycling club you’re going to need a road bike. Road bikes come in steel, aluminum and carbon-fibre and cost from $1000 up into the stratosphere ($10,000 is what the pros pay for their bikes.). More about these choices later.

Modern road bikes are seriously light and seriously fast. If you’re considering going on the weekend 50km group rides this is the bike you’ll both need and want. It will take some weeks of riding to get used to riding it safely especially as pedals with cleats are mandatory for maximum efficiency.


* Reasonable shape means you’ve got your doctor’s okay to be cycling and, while you might be heavier than you’d like, you’re not in the obese category. In my case, I’m 5′ 10′ and at 200 pounds (my 911 weight) I’m 20-25 pounds over a healthy weight and thus the urge to buy a bicycle as I’ve tried gyms and walking and I had to do something dramatic right now.

If you’re seriously overweigh consider a year of more relaxed bicycling with friends and family or join a recreational community riding group that welcomes riders like yourself.