“But I’ve Got Two Kids!”

That’s the excuse I got today when I asked one of my fellow yoga students to leave her cellphone outside the yoga studio.  My answer to her declaration was, of course, “I don’t care.”

What was my mother thinking when she would send me out into the world in the morning as a child and not expect me to return until dinner time? And don’t tell me that Oakville isn’t as safe as back then. It’s actually safer. 

How special these two children must be that their mother remains in constant touch with them or their babysitter. I mean it’s a whole hour. 

I know the yoga studio has a no cellphone policy that even extends into the change rooms. Maureen who owns IGita (which is one of the best yoga studios I’ve seen in over 30 years of practice) would have said something if she’d seen the phone but my guess is Mom hid it under her towel during the class.

How disrespectful of her fellow students. How arrogant. How unconscious. 

Mom if you can’t leave your kids for an hour without having your cellphone with you then stay home. Get a yoga DVD. Take up knitting but don’t bring your cellphone into the meditation hall and pretend that it’s alright. It isn’t!

Butt Talk

We’ve got a lively discussion going on about the pain in my butt on Twitter and Facebook. One of the other riders in my riding group uploaded a video on the subject from the very excellent GCN site.

This is so exciting and why I join a cycling club and cycling school. I’ve never had so much attention focused on my butt since I was a teenager. It’s quite a moment.keep-calm-and-don-t-get-a-sore-butt.jpg

But (no pun intended) getting help when things don’t work out is one of the reasons for joining a club or school of instruction.

At Toastmasters last night, for example, I heard one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard in 22 years of weekly attendance at meetings and coincidentally I heard one of the best evaluations (given on this speech) I’ve ever heard as well. The speech was on the consequences of 9/11 and the evaluation was about how this very excellent speech could have been crafted even better. It takes an amazing evaluator for find ways to improve such an excellent speech and an even more amazing evaluator to put the information to the speaker in a manner which is both complementary but also instructional.

This is how we learn to get better. We expose ourselves (sometimes quite literally) to new ideas and new people. I can’t thank my coach Petrina enough and same goes for the excellent and talented riders who train with her.

I’m very lucky they let my tag along sore butt and all.

Spinning Can Be A Pain In the Butt

After careful consideration my coach (and one of the other cyclists who is a doctor and who was also suffering greatly last night from lower back pain just proving that none of us are immune…I prescribed an Advil and hot bath before bed. I’m not sure my colleague concurred.) concluded my hamstrings are the problem when it comes to my sore butt.hamstrings8

Petrina had a good look around (figuratively not literally although I offered) my butt as I was spinning and complaining and I think she’s right on when it comes to the soreness in my butt. It doesn’t seem that any muscles are sore and I can walk fine, even stretch without pain or effort but when I sit straight down on a chair or saddle I’m really sore. If I lean forward on the saddle reaching for the handlebars it’s not so bad and after warming up for half an hour the pain decreases.

Now how did I inflame my hamstrings where they connect to the pelvic structure?

There are a couple of suspects. Last few weeks I’ve been working on standing while pedalling in a harder gear. Also last few weeks I’ve discovered how to spin up my cadence to over 180 rpms which is terrific. Also I’ve been going to four plus yoga classes per week which has had the miraculous effect of eliminating the daily ongoing pain I was having in my quadriceps.

Of course the cue for all pain is rest immediately followed by gentle stretching and increased use until repaired.

I guess the best thing to do is give my butt a rest. I think I can do that.

The Day After

Today is the day after the night I had my best session at The CyclingCentre.Ca.

Charts and statistics don’t tell last night’s story well enough. What happened was after 10 months of intensive road and indoor training with Coach Petrina Tulissi I had my first session were I came out feeling better than when I went in.

Slimming what?

When I say feeling better I don’t mean that gasping, red faced, fist-pumping moment when after two hours of crazy cycling the night ends and I realize I’ve lived through it.

No I mean I got off the bike and I felt perfectly calm. I wasn’t sweaty. My heart wasn’t racing. I wasn’t even breathing hard. Even the persistent soreness in my quads was gone.

Yes the night was what Petrina calls a recovery ride and I skipped my noon hour yoga class but we worked hard enough and harder than a newcomer would have liked.

So why all the self-congratulatory comments? It’s because I could never have done this on my own.

I have to thank the coaches (Petrina and Tracey) at The CyclingCentre.Ca who kept telling me to slow up. You see most newcomers to a sport like cycling start off exercising way too hard and end up burnt out, discouraged and so sore that they often are never to be seen again.

No the secret is to train within your own wheelhouse. Think of your level of fitness as a plateau (even if it’s a plateau that’s actually just level ground but it’s a starting place). Your coach will assess where you are on your fitness trail and design a fitness regime that will move you slowly from your present plateau to your next plateau. Aiming for the top of the mountain too soon is deadly.

So where am I now? (In photo: Petrina and the summer morning weekly training group.)DSCF1745

I’m on a plateau.

I can now pedal with reasonable efficiency at a cadence of 90 to 100 rpm and my average speed is rising to the point that there is some hope I can at least keep the summer riding group in sight. Last summer Petrina would tell me the location of the designated training area and after 10 kilometres of pedalling I’d ride in about five minutes after everyone else 🙂

If you’ve ever wanted to join a cycling club (Oakville Cycling Club‘s open membership period is coming up in a few days) and go on a group recreational ride or even participate in the many races and serious long group rides that take place in Ontario all summer long then you’ll want to take lessons on how to ride faster, stronger and harder.

Three Signs You’ll Be Fine

I suspect a lot of riders enjoy cycling because it makes them feel better. And I’m not talking about just physically feeling better.

One of my best friends (who lives in Bogata and whom I’ve only met in person once…it’s an interesting story) sent me this article this morning and I thought it worth sharing.

The article is the essence of what I used to coach in our men’s groups a long, long time ago.

It comes down to this:

  • Things change
  • You can change things (including your thoughts)
  • You do this by considering what is the smallest possible thing you can do to feel better
  • On a scale of one to 10 what can you do right now to move up one-half point
  • Do it
  • Repeat as needed 🙂

So today, I’m feeling pretty good.

My mind is clear and my body isn’t aching too much from cycling classes (Can’t recommend Coaches Petrina and Tracey too highly. If you want to learn how to cycle this is the place in the GTA) and daily strenuous yoga at Gita (really strong yoga and excellent teachers).

But I can do a little more to feel even better. The sun is rising outside my window. I can take a moment to reflect on my day, breath deeply – repeat and bask in the light.



Texting For Serenity

So I’ve returned to yoga after a three-month hiatus to fix some minor medical stuff that needed time.

In the rest period my old yoga studio merged with another yoga studio so I’ve been attending classes in a new place with new teachers. This is my third yoga studio in the last six or seven years and to my great disappointment it’s merely a good studio (very clean…not all are…with great teachers so far with one caveat…see below) but not a great studio.

So why is it only merely good and not great? Management or lack thereof.

Case in point: I walk into the noon hour yoga class today about 20 minutes early to start my mediation and there are already half a dozen students in various stages of meditation or stretching and one women madly texting on her cellphone.

In this studio the yoga rooms are kept quite dark so her cellphone shines out like a beacon. I trust I made a suitable enough impression that she won’t do this again.

Five minutes later two 20-ish girls show up (might have been in their teens as it is March break) and carry on like their in the school cafeteria. After a few sharp looks they figure out that no one else is talking in the room so they start to whisper which is even more annoying.

Why do these things happen?

IMHO bad management. You inspect what you expect. The woman texting likely didn’t know nor had she ever been told that yoga studios are commonly treated as meditation halls and cellphones are to be left in the car.

If the excuse is I can’t be out of touch with my children for an hour then stay at home with your children and don’t inflict your bad behaviour on the rest of us.81948

Now the studio owner has admitted that they had issues with cellphones being stolen out of locker rooms and that’s no surprise. This is a busy studio with full classes (40+) most days. Thefts are going to happen no matter what you do. (Even the YMCA has had problems over the years with thefts from lockers.)

When you’re dealing with these sort of numbers you’ve got to post signs and be vigilant and act when you see people breaking your rules. And one of the signs should say “No bags (people keep their cellphones there) and no cellphones in the studios (or better no cellphones period).

In my experience over 35 years of yoga I’ve concluded that there are a lot of people who are pretty good yoga teachers (and a few I wouldn’t let cut my grass) but there are few (I’m tempted to say if any) yoga teachers who know how to run a business.

That’s one of the reasons there is such a turnover of yoga studios. None of them have read Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited because if they had they wouldn’t allow mismanagement to kill their businesses.

Oh and one new teacher went from “namaste” directly into selling her flaky pain-relief workshops that mix a cross of Chinese medicine and electro-shock therapy during one of my classes this week. I talked to the owners and if it happens again I’ll talk to her.

The ending of a yoga class has always been for me a special moment of mediation and peacefulness and to have a quack therapy pitched at me while I’m still lying down breathing was, to say the least, deeply offensive….and, again is a result of bad or lazy management.

When my annual pass runs out, if we haven’t fixed these issues, I’ll be looking for another yoga studio in the Oakville area which actively discourages (better yet bans) cellphones and teachers who are more interested in making a buck than giving a f***.


It’s all power to weight ratio and the ability to recover.

I ripped that statement off a cycling online forum talking about who had the perfect body for cycling.

The topic came up last night with my coach Petrina Tulissi  as we were doing our time trials workout. The time trial is to determine our functional threshold power which is one of the main ways of determining just how good you’re getting on your cycle.

My question to Petrina was about the physical size of pro-level racers. Most of the guys on the professional tour are actually pretty small men in comparison to the general population. They are lighter, stronger (at least in the legs), have better aerobic capacity (bigger chests) and can develop an amazing amount of power (calculated in watts) per kilogram and physiologically will push themselves into painful places most of us can’t imagine.

This is why bigger, stronger men (and I’m not considering women racers as their numbers might be very different) are not necessarily winners of multi-stage races like the Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France. In these races our power to weight ratio comes into play.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 8.57.55 AM

Now I don’t pretend to understand all the nuances here but Petrina, who is an active racer, said one of her 12-year-old racer students had a one second better time per lap on the velodrome than she did. She attributed this difference to the boy’s better power to weight ratio. While Petrina used her own numbers to explain this difference let’s be kind and just say a 12-year-old boy is going to weigh a lot less than a strong, fit 40-year-old woman racer and can develop a better power to weight ratio.

As for me I had a rough night despite eating properly all day and resting up for the eight-minute attacks.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 8.56.26 AM

I felt so off that I went downstairs at Gears to get a couple of energy bars which I gobbled down (and I shared a third one with my fellow riders). My first time trial at 40 minutes in wasn’t great. My second was worse for some reason but I threw in a third in a desperate attempt to develop some meaningful numbers for Petrina to use in determining my time trial speed. I’m a little tired this morning 🙂

I was having some mechanical issues with my cadence sensor too but overall you can see that on the top time trial my heart rate hit 149 bpm and pretty much stayed there until the eight minutes were up. This is a function of my not being sufficiently warmed up which takes an hour these days.

The second chart shows my entire evening (If I reading this right as I didn’t think the Garmin would do two separate readouts.) where my overall heart rate follows my cadence and speed pretty closely.

The absolute best thing I can do (control the controllable) is drop 20 pounds as soon as possible. Nothing else will change until I drop more weight and I can’t be 12 again.