Recovery Ride

Last Saturday’s Adventure Ride with coach Petrina from the CyclingCentre was a huge success. It’s funny how the pain of an 85 km ride can fade from memory. Unfortunately sometimes the body remembers all to well.

On Tuesday, feeling optimistic, I went out for a 50 km ride and by Thursday my hip flexor so we’re just screaming at me so much so that I went on an Advil and heating pad regime.

By Saturday life was liveable again and this morning Marion and I rode to Burlington and back a 30 km easy ride. Lakeshore Road was filled with cyclists including one guy on an aerobike and an older couple who rode through the red lights they hit. 

Not only is this dumb it’s also deadly dangerous as we learned earlier this month with the death of a 57-year-old cyclist who collided with a van on Third Line. Who cares who is at fault. We’re left with one cyclist dead and a van driver who will have to live with the fact he killed someone. 

Some drivers haven’t learned yet that it’s the law that they must share the road and if passing is unsafe then blowing the horn and racing by is not only illegal it’s deadly dangerous as well. 

My hip flexors tightened up but a good stretch on the stairs seems to have worked. Next assignment is get a new “male friendly”saddle this week.

The Day After The 85K

After yesterday’s epic 85 km ride I can’t believe how good I feel today.

For the most part all the aches and pains have dissolved overnight and aside from a slight swelling in my right knee all is very very well.28498212623_2aef3b80d8_z

Lunch at The Smokin BuddhaΒ in Port Colbourne was terrific. Here’s Petrina (on right) and Tanya (centre) checking out the fabulous Thai-based meals. Worth the drive (even by car) for a great meal.

BTW Tanya and Marion really hit it off as they were both new riders (Tanya was on a new road bike for the first time.) and kept each other company on the ride.

Getting to Port Colbourne saw us climb one big hill and then navigate down to Lake Erie for lunch. Thirty kilometres of the ride back was on a closed bike path that follows the Welland Canal and was both easy to ride and very scenic.Β 29084318806_39eb43eee8_z

Today is a day of rest and hydration and, let’s face it, celebration. We did good.

(Here’s what you want from your coach: It’s Petrina stretching out Marion’s shoulder muscles as we eat lunch.)

Yesterday was our Olympic moment and I was astounded to discover that hills that would have humbled me in the past were easily defeated. Concerns that I might have had in the past regarding my own health and ability to perform in the heat and humidity did not materialize.

I’ll let Marion speak for herself if she wishes but I am enormously proud of her. Yesterday was not easy for any of us and many of the riders had been training all summer while Marion has been out less than a couple of dozen times.

(That’s Rachel and Marion in photo waiting for a ship to pass on the Welland Canal. Rachel is a competitive and accomplished rider. She was part of my summer training group and while always supportive was one rider I could never catch let alone keep pace.)28498198953_d11ce5da03_z

We’ve got another 80 km ride scheduled for September (Halton Grand Fondo) so there is still some training to do but I am anticipating another great day of cycling.

For all of this I acknowledge my coach Petrina of The Cycling Centre. Nothing is more reassuring and inspiring to look way up the road and see your coach returning to guide her less experience riders toward the end of the ride.

Thank you Petrina and all The Cycling Centre athletes for an amazing day.

 

Crushing The Epic Ride

If somebody had said in March that by the end of the summer both Marion and I would join a group ride that went for 85 km from St. Catharines down the Welland Canal and back on one of the hottest days of the year I would have said they were insane. Well we’re back from our ride with coach Petrina and her last Adventure Ride of the summer. Of course we stopped for lunch at a great place and ended up in a bar in St. Catharines. What a wonderful day. One of the best days of my life. Thanks to my coach Petrina. I wouldn’t have accomplished this amazing feat without you and your amazing ability to see me how I could be and not just how I am. For more IPhone photos go here

I Got Carrots!

My cycling coach Petrina says I got carrots!Carrot1

Now I have no idea what that she means but I think it’s a good thing to have carrots.

This summer has been the most fun and the most productive summer I’ve had in 67 years. I learned how to ride (even race a little) on a carbon-fibre road bike. I made new friends. Plus I lost 20 pounds. I can catch fast riders. I can even draft in a group ride.

Plus now I seem to have carrots LOL.

I’m coming to the conclusion after hours and hours of reading that all my health issues are connected and all have inflammation at the core.

Reduce inflammation and increase both aerobic capacity by cycling and physical strength through resistance training and who knows where all this may end?

But the coolest thing of all is I got carrots.

What a summer!

The 4 am Icing

Here’s a lesson in self-reliance: A simple conflict in a newly prescribed medicine and my existing condition of being susceptible to gout collided big time last night. So I spent from 2 am to 4 pm icing my right foot in the kitchen while I waited for the painkilling pharmaceuticals I ingested to take affect.

Gout is an extremely painful (8.5-9 out of 10) inflammation of the joints usually in the big toes that is caused by the body’s own immune system misfiring when purines are introduced into the body. Usually associated with some red meats, alcohol (especially beer sniff sniff) and a bunch of other stuff (like tuna) this time it was a prescribed medicine that my doctor should have known better than to prescribe. 

She will be getting educated this week by me πŸ‘Ί and the toe is rapidly improving. 

This should not have happened and I am as much to blame as I am responsible for knowing what I am taking and, as best as possible, knowing whether or not I should be taking something or not.

Honestly a cursory glance at the legitimate medical websites could have saved me a sleepless and painful night. 

On the other hand I am very happy with what I am seeing reflected in the mirror and on the scale these days. 

 Let’s just say I am highly motivated. 

Watching the Olympic athletes on TV with their picture perfect bodies doesn’t hurt either. πŸš£πŸ»β›ΉπŸ»πŸŠπŸ»πŸš΅πŸ»πŸ‹πŸΌβ›ΉπŸ»πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

Stop chasing fast women on hot nights

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That’s the message I’m getting from FitBit, the watch that tracks your fitness levels. The screen shot above is of my heart rate during my 50 km ride last night.

You’ll notice I hit 140 beats per minute at the 30-minute mark. It was just around then that a young woman passed me on Lakeshore Road west of town doing about 35 kph. Aside from giving away about 40 years or so, this rider was very smooth (but did miss her position on the roadway) and made for a good target for me to chase.

(A dedicated right turn lane leads to northbound Mississauga Road from Lakeshore and cyclists intending on cycling west should position their bike on the right side of the through lane and not pedal through the middle of the right turn lane where it becomes very difficult for car drivers to figure out your intention.

Chasing fast women (or fast men for that matter) for most men has a lot in common with why dogs chase cars. The dog chases the passing car knowing it can’t catch it and wouldn’t know what to do with it if it did catch it. The dog is all bark and no bite (usually).

Men are much the same.

I was chasing this rider solely for scientific reasons. As you can see my heart rate prior to getting passed was a leisurely 125 bpm which means I was loafing along not exerting myself much in the 30+ degree heat and humidity. At 30 minutes I’d been cycling for about 10 km which is my standard warmup time.

My desired heart rate range starts at 60 bpm which is my new resting heart beat (thanks to cycling) up to 120 when I’m loafing along Β on the bike and 145 when I am outputting sufficient power. At 145 I can still talk to a rider next to me but not in complete sentences. That’s my limit.

Anything over 145 is in my red zone and I have seen bpm as high as 160 in my early days of training. I’ve obviously strengthened my heart but it’s important to train within my safer range.

Blood pressure is actually the major issue as like many men my age I have heart disease. Heart disease doesn’t mean disabled and exercise is usually recommended but race cycling training isn’t likely on the list.

Higher blood pressure can cause pieces of arterial plaque to break loose and then you may experience a heart attack or stroke.

Of course the first response by some is why would you risk this outcome? Well-meaning but overly cautious comments are the norm in today’s overly protective society. The rates of obesity and diabetes likely kill more people more slowly and it’s an end I’d like to avoid.

Maybe on my tombstone I’ll have carved “Pedal On” πŸ™‚

Falling For You

So how do you fall off a bicycle for goodness sake?

First, and I’ve said this a lot in previous posts, the new carbon-fibre road bikes aren’t your father’s 10-speeds. (In photo: That’s a 2016 Scott Foil as reviewed by roadbikereview.com. This is one fast pro-level bike.)Foil_Launch_2016_Action_Image_SCOTT_Sports_23

First of all your shoes are clipped into the pedals.

Yes you can unclip but that’s a learned skill and you’re going to fall over, albeit at very low speeds, but it’s a fall non the less until you learn better. This is especially embarrassing if you manage to do it in a busy intersection. Don’t ask me how I know this to be true.

Second, depending your own personal body type, your saddle maybe way higher off the ground than you expected. Properly setup road bikes can cruise along flat roads at much higher speeds than say more sturdy mountain or urban bike which have different geometry. This means your butt is going to be way up there and your legs are going to be almost straightening out at the bottom of your pedal stroke.12424933_1527909087511372_726503622_n

Guess what?

This means even if you unclip your foot isn’t going to reach the ground unless you dismount from the saddle. Even if you unclip both feet you still aren’t going to reach the ground and you’re going to fall over on the lawn …if you’re lucky. Don’t ask me how I know this is true.

Clipping in and unclipping is an art unto itself.

Done the same way every time it becomes routine over time but finding out you’re in the big chain ring by mistake half way up a steep hill means either you’re going to have to figure out how to unclip which is just about impossible if you’re still applying pressure to the pedals so you don’t tip over and so you uh tip over. Don’t ask me how I know this to be true.Bicycle-Race-Accident_Small

It’s even more embarrassing and potentially dangerous when you do it on a blind corner with a car coming up behind you and your coach yelling instructions you can’t hear over your own screaming. Don’t ask me…you know the routine by now. Even the pros crash. (see photo)

I will say at first I was embarrassed to have fallen beside my coach but then I realized I hadn’t fallen beside her. She had ridden to where I had fallen to protect me from the advancing vehicle traffic.

The significance of what happened that day hasn’t fully sunk in yet but I am enormously grateful to have found such a person to be my coach. And I don’t think I’m making too much of this event: It could have gone south in a very very bad way.

But a funny thing happens on the way to the forum to paraphrase an old movie line. I got better. I learned to clip in and out with ease. I discovered there’s a tension control so you can loosen your clips. I also learn that for $35 you can replace your worn cleats on your shoes. (Have your bike shop do this for you.)bicycle-crash

Best thing you can do is realize that people have been falling off bicycles since the beginning of cycling.

Remember it’s not how many times you fall off the bike that counts.

It’s how many times you get back on.

 

 

You Got To Know When…

Kenny Rogers said it best: You got to know when to hold them. You got to know when to fold them. When to wak away and when to run.

So yesterday a summer cold woke me Β up at 4am. I joined the cat on the downstairs couch and we made it through to morning. I was hoping that this was the famous 24-hour head cold as I really was looking forward to my last training session with Petrina and the training group of cyclists I’ve been riding with all summer.

Wonder of wonders I woke up this morning to feeling fine. Glory be I thought now I can go riding. Chores first including moving a bag of cat litter and all was well until I took a step out of the shower and my right hip flexor went into spasm. Painful! Two Tylenols and alternating heat and cold plus an emergency run to Dynamic Health and Perfotmance and I can walk again sort of.

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My mood is pretty ugly so sitting at home on the Muskoka chair in the sun is helping but I missed my morning ride…a lot. (That’s me in the photo getting one of Petrina’s famous stickers because I was one of the few riders who showed up on a rainy morning.)

As readers here know I found Petrina thanks to a runner in my Toastmaster club and I was scared to even call. I had no idea what to expect but I had bought a very expensive carbon-fibre road bike and my first ride out with the Oakville Cycling Club had been a crushing disaster.

So now with Petrina I went out twice a week for two hours of instruction on the back roads of Milton. My riding companion students were almost all women (A couple of husbands and one young son showed sporadically.) and everyone of them could out ride, out power and out last me.

Petrina asked me what my goals were and I told her about my Oakville club ride humiliation so I said I had two goals: First I wanted to be able to ride with the big kids and; Two I wanted to be able to ride 50 to 60 kilometres at a time.

Let me tell you the training was hard somedays and somedays it was exhilarating. Somedays I almost stayed up with the other students many of who participate in amateur races here and in other countries. I’m 67 1/2 and I’m guessing at least two other riders were at least my age. And then there was this skinny 13-year-old wonder kid and we won’t even talk about him. (Michael if you keep riding you’re going to be amazing…Olympics in 2020?)

A couple of times I was let’s say a little overly enthusiastic and somedays I just fell off the damn bike. But over the weeks I started riding up hills that had defeated me. I learned to conserve my energy early in the ride so I’d have enough to get home. I learned how to shift so I could power up and over hills. I leaned what foot goes up and what foot goes down when making high-speed turns. (I may never get Petrina’s voice out of my head.)

I learned you are not to argue with the coach and when Petrina says to do it again then you don’t make a face. LOL but there aren’t too many men or women who I would allow to speak to me like this and I loved it.

We had a lot of great rides. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been riding 50 to 60 kilometres nonstop and, for the most part, (with big hills still causing my heart rate to exceed my limit) I can keep up with the big kids.

I can do this because Petrina taught me how to draft. One of my best and most memorable training mornings happened while the big kids were ripping up and down Bell School Road and Petrina told me to draft her and to yell “off” every time I lost contact.

As you can imagine Petrina is a beautiful rider. She’s fast but she’s also able to maintain an exact cadence. This makes her easy to draft and easy to predict her tempo. All you have to do is watch her feet at the same time you keep looking down the road. It’s tricky.

Drafting is magical. It reduces energy output by 30 per cent. You can feel it. Tucked under Petrina’s draft and making absolutely certain I wouldn’t hit her I got within inches of her back tire. We started our run at around 24 kph and as the road rose and fell Petrina kept spinning up our speed. When we hit 34 kph or so we were flying and Β a long way down the road. It had been an amazing run.

The next time we were back on Bell School Road all I did was chase and draft the other riders. When I felt myself slip into the draft I said to myself now relax…relax..relax…and the effort fell away. As I reported here in another post one of my favourite riders who trains on a super fast aero bike and is lot younger than me was going in the opposite direction and I turned and with 110% effort I chased her and drafted her until my heart rate pinned itself in the red zone and I was forced to disengage. I was overjoyed.

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It will come as no surprise if I say this was one of the best summers I’ve had in my entire life and I’m not going to let a little thing like a spasm in my hip flexor keep me off the bike for long. Should be riding by the weekend.

Also got my blood work results today Β and all is terrific:) Just got to run my cardiologist’s treadmill into the ground later this month and I should be good to go for another 10,000 kilometres or so πŸ˜…

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Tuesdays With PetrinaΒ 

Today was my last Tuesday morning with Petrina from The CyclingCentre here in Oakville and the group of riders I trained with this summer. This race-oriented group of women and the occasional guy and one super talented kid allowed me to tag along trying to catch up. I am enormously grateful to them all. 

Coach Petrina

When I started training I told Petrina I had two goals. First I wanted to be able to keep up with the “big kids”. Most of the riders in the Tuesday morning group are talented and muscular riders. They can ride fast and they can ride all day long.  A couple of the riders are certified racers who race almost ever weekend. Without going too far let’s also admit some of these men and women despite the advances of age look fantastic. Muscled, lean and with tons of bike savvy they’ve ridden the hardest rides in the world. 

Goal two was I wanted to be able to ride 50-60 km at a time. 


To say I have been intimidated riding with this group doesn’t come close but here’s the secret to Tuesday’s with Petrina: 

I showed up and despite numerous falls off the bike (this isn’t your dad’s 10-speed), several times when I lost sight of the training group and days when I threw my chain I persisted. 

Nobody ever made fun of me. They were always supportive and encouraging. They let me practice with them even on those days I was a danger to myself and others on the road. 

Petrina was exceptional patient even on those frightening downhills were I got my foot in the wrong place and the bike got loose. I always felt that Petrina was looking after just me even when she was yelling at me to change my foot position. 

By the end of training I could keep up with the riding group. Some days I’d drop off to stave off immediate catastrophic heart failure but for the most part I could ride with the big kids and I could ride fast. Real fast !  So that was goal one. Last week we road a lot and on the Thursday I rode 60 km before the day was done. Goal two reached! 

I am going to miss these Tuesday mornings but I’ve signed up for 23 weeks of spinning twice a week with Petrina and the CcylingCentre riders this winter..

Can’t wait for winter 🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻🚡🏻 

Thank you Petrina and thank you to the Tuesday riding group of excellent cyclists. 

Photography Basics

Standing in front of one of the first-class photography tents at Bronte’s Art In The Park I got into a conversation with a couple of novice photographers who wanted more information about the basics of what camera to buy. 

(That’s Marion BTW in front of some fence art. It was a hot day and the exhibits were nice to see.)

In order to help them I’ve provided a link to my old teaching blog at www.peterwestphoto.com where there is a ton of information going back years that should be helpful.
My first bit of advice is go join a local camera club and attend the meetings. Here in Oakville it’s the Oakville Camera Club and it’s one of the best places to get help and hear and see some amazing professional photographers. 

Number two is buy a decent DSLR camera in either DX format or if you can afford it full frame. Go to your local Henry’s Camera store and let them help you. If you’re smart you’ll not buy your new camera on the first or even second visit and you’ll ask a ton of questions and do a lot of online research. Finally go hold your candidate cameras. One will say to you take me home πŸ˜‰

In general for mainly still photography I’d stick to Nikon or Canon. (For video plus stills consider the new Sony cameras.) I’d get a kit lense (18-55 or 18-120 or the closest equivalent) plus a fast f/2 or better cheap 50mm lense for shooting portraits and shots in low light. You can get more lenses later when you know more. 

You’re going to need a computer with enough grunt to run Lightroom (and if you’re really enthusiastic Photoshop) which you can get for $15 or so per month as a subscription for both. This is a good deal as Photoshop runs $1000 and you have to pay for upgrades. You can get away with Photoshop Elements for $100 or so but you’re likely to outgrow it. For computers for photography I’ve always used MacBook Pro laptops. I run an external big screen and two multi-terabyte external hard drives. A decent I5 quad care PC works just fine. 

For video editing you need as much computer and horsepower as you can afford if you want to edit movies of weddings or other commercial jobs. I never had a good enough setup to do video properly. 

To learn photography you need a tripod to shoot landscapes, fireworks or portraits. There’s two ways to buy a tripod: the expensive way and the really expensive way.

The expensive way has you buy a $1000 tripod and a $500 head where you mount your camera. And, you’re done for life. The really expensive way is to go to Henrys and let them talk you into a $100 tripod. As you buy heavier cameras and longer, heavier lenses you’ll need a $500 tripod with head. Then in time you’ll realize you need a lighter carbon-fibre tripod and that’ll cost around $700 plus a $500 head.

Honestly you can get away with a decent Manfrotto tripod for $500 plus a $250 head but don’t say you weren’t warned. 

Again you’ll need two external hard drives of a couple terabytes each but they’re cheap. I also store my images on two online galleries and my Mac setup has a back up hard drive that stores everything automatically on a continuous basis. If the images are precious family stuff I burn them to a DVD. Laugh but I’ve never lost an image. 

Sooner or later you start accumulating camera bags, light meters, Color calibration devices and more and more lenses. Then you’ll want to do your own printing and I’d recommend a pro-level Epson or Canon printer that’s capable of printing 11″X17″ print or larger. 

And that’s it until you figure out you need a second camera body and a flash unit and a portrait studio and the game goes on…

Most of all have fun and you can do that with a $150 point and shoot which is what I used to shoot the photo at today’s art in the park πŸ˜€