Back To School

The Oakville Cycling Club held a beginner rider training session on Sunday and it was terrific.IMG_0811

Everyone thinks they know how to ride a two-wheeler right? I mean I’ve been riding a two-wheeler for 50 years now so what’s to know?

Well I learned a ton of stuff thanks to our instructors (whose names I didn’t get…sorry ladies) who were patient and thorough and very helpful.

One of the best lessons of the day was how to survive bumping into a fellow rider when riding in a group. Without training most riders will suddenly turn in the opposite direction when bumped and often fly off their bike.

What you should do is lean in toward each other until such time as you can reestablish stability and separate safely. We practiced by riding two across and reaching out touching elbows and then lightly bouncing against each other. IMG_0812-Exposure

The session was broken down into two with the early part of the morning devoted to the bike and its parts and how they work and the second part which was practical riding.

I’d guess there were 50 to 60 participants and if the Oakville Cycling Club is wondering whether or not to hold this workshop again next year I’d say absolutely.

It was a terrific workshop and anyone contemplating going out on the road or going on a group ride should take this course.

BTW MEC in Burlington has a “how to change your flat tire” workshop this Friday.


In case my last post earlier today didn’t give it away I wasn’t much motivated this morning.

I had originally written “I was having a hard time getting motivated this morning” but I struck that out in favour of the above.

Motivation isn’t something you bestow on yourself. You don’t get it. It’s not something you can drink out of a bottle (although this method has been tried by millions over the years) nor is it something someone else can give you (although a pretty girl can sure motivate me to suck in my gut for 30 seconds or until I can’t hold my breath any longer) but it comes mostly from one place.

Motivation comes mostly from action (movement will do).

So considering my intention not to whine I pulled up my big boy cycling pants, put on an extra warm sports shirt, zipped up my bicycling windbreaker and ended up doing 26.28 km at an average speed of 20 kph.drivetrain

This is 3 kph better than my previous average as I was practicing running on the big chain wheel as much as possible. Seems (according to one of the wonderful ladies who guided me back to the start on my first outing with the Oakville Cycling Club) I was exhausting myself spinning way to much on the small chain wheel.

My major problem today was my from my fingers going so numb I couldn’t feel the gear changers. May have to adjust my saddle height a couple of cm one way or the other as I think this numbness is starting in my shoulders.

BTW I record every ride in a Moleskin notebook used solely for this purpose. I record my bike computer information using a very expensive fountain pen which was a present from Marion many years ago. There is some ritual to what I am doing.

I am blessed man indeed. Now I think I’ll go lie down somewhere for a few minutes.


What Next?

I read something about how much stress there is in our lives these days (People have been complaining about the increasing levels of stress since the days of the steam engine.) and how freaked out people are about their lives.

They going around saying in frustration “What Now!”

I used to do that. If you think about it when we say “what now” there’s a suggestion that whatever is happening is somehow tied into what went on before and what went on before wasn’t all that great either.

“What now” to my ears has the ring of a victim lamenting their awful and fated lives. It’s like saying “why me” or “why now”?

And, of course, the classical answer is “why not” you and “why not” now? The non-classical response is: What are you some kind of special snowflake? Of course it’s going to be you and your life. You aren’t living anybody else’s life are you? (There’s a medical term for that!)

When I wake up in the morning I don’t leap out of bed and put on my SuperBoy outfit and fly out the door for another day of crimefighting. No it’s a lot slower process these days. I peel off my bunny pjs with the feet in them and, after scooping the cat litter, I hit the showers, eat a bowl of cereal, drink a pot of coffee while reading two newspapers, replying to emails and wait for my day to kick in around 9 am or so. Somewhere in there I get dressed and I ask myself a question.

And the question is “what next”? What is the next thing in front of me?

As I like to write I often use one of my many blogs (I used to have seven but now mainly consolidated down to this one) to help clear my head and set a direction (and intention) for the day.

What next can be something as simple as take some time to read a book but lately almost everything I do is about getting faster, stronger, more resilient, way less whiny, more caring, more communicative and more open to others and their ideas.

And so my day begins….



Dead F****** Last

Yes that’s where I ended up last night on my first ride with the Oakville Cycling Club. The good news is I finished (thanks to the efforts of two OCC members) and aside from being really really sore last night and this morning (thanks medical science I have it under control) the night was a success.1a3aa03a76afa9d2b2e8d717494d3fbf

We went 23.82 kms in one hour and 20 minutes starting from the public parking lot on Appleby Line. Going downhill we went so fast that my bike computer read 127 kph which I don’t think I hit (more like 40 kph) and uphill I never needed to unclip (which was a good thing as I doubt I could have unclipped going so slow. Falling over is very embarrassing.)

On the Oakville Cycling Club there’s a slogan “A Group For Every Skill Level” which presupposes you’ve got some skill level. Apparently I don’t 🙂

Last night I’d guess around 120 riders left the parking lot in six groups ranging from Recreational (which due to numbers was split into two groups) and five levels of more experienced and aggressive riders.

I was in the first Recreational group but I soon found myself riding alone until the second Recreational group caught up to me and I was now in the second group. After a few more kms and a few stop signs I looked back to discover I was now a third group of my own with two OCC members keeping me company.

Bless these two ladies for their encouragement and suggestions. I can’t say enough about how well I was looked after even though I was trailing.

Thanks to years of yoga I had almost instant recovery whenever we slowed or stopped but pulling myself up steep hills was torturous and I was never in the right gear on the flats. Seems I was overly spinning and should have unshifted to my largest chainwheel.

For the most part I kept the main group in sight. By the time we arrived back in the parking lot I was pretty done. Even had to ask a really pretty girl to help me snap my bike into my carrier…  🙂 And last night I was very sore and had some problems sleeping but I learned something really important.

This morning when I recorded in my riding journal my stats from last night I discovered my numbers for kms ridden, time taken, average and maximum speeds were virtually identical to my regular ride numbers.

So what does this mean?

Here’s what I think: I must have been riding much faster than normal on the flats and downhills to compensate for the many very slow uphill grinds I went through last night.

It also means that I need to improve technique (spinning in the right gear) and endurance (especially aerobic ability and leg muscles).

There’s Strava stats on all the weekly rides by OCC members on the club site and I need some time to go through the database but it appears that the super riders are averaging 30+ kph and the average riders are averaging 25+ kph and most are riding 40 to 50 km weekly.

I’m nowhere near those average speed numbers…yet but I am over the average weekly as I get out every sunny day I can.

I must take a day or so to recover (yoga tonight!) and then I must go out again to ride the course and see if I can’t improve the average speed number.

The war is not won in one single battle. It is not how many times the warrior falls down but how many times he gets up. When you’re going through hell – keep going.

And finally “finished dead fucking last” is not the same as “did not finish” or much worse “did not show up.”


He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.     — Confucius

Showing Up In Life

Why is it that when we say we’re going to do something new or different, the universe steps in and throws us a challenge to test our resolve?

Don’t believe in this woo woo stuff? Me either. There are way too many special snowflakes out there who profess to have special powers of insight or wisdom. The gang that produced “The Secret” video which was so popular some years back is a case in point. To quote MASH’s Sherman Potter “horse hockey”.

And yet I am aware that whenever I make a commitment to doing something challenging or different somehow the ante gets upped in some mysterious way.

(Nietzsche said “if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.” His context was be careful not to become that which you despise (or fear) but his quote speaks to the mysterious way the Universe actually works.)insult-quotes-pictures-2-b40ebf8e


So here’s what got me today:

I joined the Oakville Cycling Club so I can go out on club rides last week. There’s one tonight and it’s my intention to show up with bike and helmet and great intent. I hope it goes well (there’s some element of the fear of the unknown and making myself look like an idiot…which isn’t hard to do on any given in less than 150 km I’ve fallen off the bike, got stranded at roadside after flattening two inner tubes and I’m still a danger to myself and others while on the public roadways).

It looks like this ride is within my limited capabilities so wish me luck.

And then I saw a reference to another group ride offered by the Morning Glory Cycling Club.  The “Morning” part of the name should have been a giveaway. These folks ride at 5:30 A.M. There’s three separate riding groups and one is located here in Oakville.

Oh dear! 5:30 a.m. So how committed are you Peter?

My membership was accepted online. Now all I have to do is show up. I can hear the Universe faintly laughing at my so human folly. 5:30 a.m. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I Hate Flats

Reviews of my current tires have not been positive and I think I know why now. Today I got a flat tire likely caused by hitting a pothole pretty hard. Then as I installed my spare tube I think I may have pinched it and caused it also to leak

Fortunately I was a block away from the Appleby GO station and I got a $30 taxi cab ride home.

This after a lovely 24 km ride that included getting a free Starbuck’s coffee from the newly renovated and just reopened store in Burlington.

I didn’t have my cellphone as it was so warm I was wearing a t-shirt and bike shorts. Won’t do that again.

Can’t say I’m not having an adventure when it comes to bicycle riding.

I pick up my new rims with tougher treads installed tomorrow around noon. Think I’ll also pack a patch kit.

I Hate Seniors

Sunday I’m blasting across Lakeshore Road east of Oakville where the road rises and rolls and smartly attired road bicycle riders like myself can hit 20 maybe 22 kph with ease. Suddenly my revelry is broken by a cheery “hello” as one senior citizen rips past me at warp speed (26 kph).

Gnarly, grey. tall and ripped senior citizen riding something  insanely expensive (no doubt imported from Italy) blasts past me almost blowing me to the curb in the backwash of his passing. He was wearing his club jersey but I couldn’t read the lettering with the wind making my eyes tear up at this speed.FullSizeRender

Okay steady now, the old boy has been doing this for awhile no doubt. One old fart in tights isn’t going to pass me like that so I pickup the speed.

Then his equally elderly girlfriend and a couple more of their friends do a high-speed flypast dropping “good day”, “on your right”, “nice day” and a bunch of other niceties I couldn’t hear due to the blood pulsing in my ears as I pedalled like mad trying to keep up.

Honestly a couple of this old folks could do with losing a few pounds so it must have been their lighter bicycles that made all the difference cause I tried to keep up. I really did.

I figured the grey gang was doing 26-27 kph and I hit 34 kph on a downhill as I attempted to close the gap. A traffic light helped get me closer and then we hit one of those mountainous hills approaching Royal Windsor (Okay I lied. The road is pretty flat but there are rises!) and I dropped down a gear or two.

It looked good for a few hundred meters and then I realized that like a train pulling away from the station the geriatric gear-grinders were pulling away with every revolution of the pedals.

Me, on the backend, well I was done for. I couldn’t breath any harder and while I had not caromed off a lamppost I wasn’t too steady anymore.

I was all so humiliating. They were such showoffs!

Might not have been so bad if it had been the lanky teenager who passed me earlier with his tiny iron butt and huge thighs and an ability to stand up on the pedals and disappear as fast as fighter jet kicking in the afterburners.

I guess for now I’m just I’m chasing the ghosts of my youth but the good news is I am catching glimpses of riders my own age pedalling just ahead of me a little further down the roadway.

NOTE: Thanks to my buddy Gerry for the tip of spraying WD-40 on my cleats. Made getting clipped in and out a breeze. Didn’t fall today but did manage to scrape myself on the chainring. I don’t remember bicycling being this dangerous?



Fall of the Titan

Yes I fell off the bike today. Couldn’t get unclipped at an intersection and lost forward momentum and ended up on the sidewalk.2A47C74200000578-3151121-image-a-13_1436210690044

That’s not me in the photo (from last year’s Tour de France) but it serves to illustrate the point.

Fortunately the bike is okay but I scrapped up a couple of finger tips pretty good. I’ll spare you the photos but let’s just say I’m leaving little bloody fingerprints as I type.

My concert piano days maybe over.  Hope I can still play the guitar.

Anyway I got myself up and sat down on a bench and reviewed the clip in – clip out sequence. Didn’t know these were toe-in clip-ons. That’s to say you get the toe piece in and the back of the cleat snaps into the pedal. My guess all clip-ons are the same…dangerous!

I’m much better at it now 🙂

I biked to Burlington and back for 30 km which aside from the blood dripping on the pavement went pretty well until I hit the turnaround point and realized there was a gusty headwind now for the trip home.

It was…ah…challenging. But no more so than when I first started yoga seriously about six years ago. That was rough especially after having open-heart surgery. I think for the first year I just lay on the mat looking at the ceiling.

Once I got home I washed the hand to find I had the sort of scrape a four year old might get in a fall in the schoolyard playground. You know the sort where you wash it up and kiss it better and the kid goes skipping off.

So tonight at Toastmasters if anybody wants to kiss me better I’m open to it. Just be happy I didn’t fall on my butt.

Clean Bill of Health

There’s nothing like a clean annual checkup from your cardiologist. I got an echo at the hospital this afternoon and it along with my blood pressure and an electrocardiogram were excellent.ScottCR110

This means I can head out on my new road bike with confidence 🙂

I will be passing on a group ride this Saturday which is going 75 km at an average rate of around 25 kph. Since my longest ride so far is about half that difference and my average speed is only approaching this speed.

More good news as it was a Scott frame that won the Paris – Roubaix 2016 race and it’s pretty much the same frame I’m riding with some subtle modifications to make it a bit more comfortable.

I have not issues with the frame but the saddle and I aren’t friends yet.

What I Learned From My Mountain Bike

There was rain in the forecast today so I thought it prudent to take my Marin mountain bike out.

The Marin has been outfitted with road tires and it drives like a truck.

But it also rides like a truck… which isn’t such a bad thing. IMG_0772

Okay it’s not fast but it sure is comfortable. Steel frames soak up a lot of the road. So do carbon fibre bikes but the feel is a lot like the difference between digital music compared to analogue. Sure vinyl records have snap, crackle and pop but the music itself sure is sweet. It’s not perfect but it’s warm. It’s like home. Digital is perfect and in itself that’s not necessarily a compliment.

The Marin is soft when it comes to bumps in the road and very predictable while the Scott is forgiving (carbon fibre does flex) but more aggressive.  It has a lot more snap.

So today as I pedalled the mountain bike something wasn’t right and I could feel it right away. My new Scott road bike, which was setup by my local bike shop, may not be as comfortable as the Marin but it’s so much more efficient because the saddle is way up higher and farther back. This equals more speed and speed means you’re covering more miles with more efficiency.

So I pulled the Marin over and I raised the saddle. Then I raised it again. And I raised it again. By the time I got finished my 15 km ride I had raised the saddle about two inches and when I got home I moved it back an inch on its rails.

It still rides like a truck but a truck with a much better engine. My legs are peddling in a much more efficient pattern. Yes the Scott is way faster but there’s life in the old Marin yet.

…I still might change the Scott saddle 🙂