My 50-K Day With The Big Kids

I did it. Finally after a year of training with Petrina Tulissi at I rode this morning with the big kids and (aside from a couple of small hills) I stayed with them for our 35-km training ride.

I am overjoyed.

Slimming what? This was last year’s look. Just wait another few weeks for a new muscle shot 🙂

This is a BF deal in my life. By the time I got back to Chez West I had done over 50-km this morning which is amazing. Plus I feel great.

Serious road cycling is a lot more about technique than it is about strength or even fitness (although you can’t discount either one). It’s about knowing how to reduce your output while increasing your speed. It’s about being unafraid.

Having said that I just rode through my first downpour and I was so scared and intent about keeping up I forgot to turn on the GoPro. Missed some pretty good shots of water flying up from the tires.

Cannot thank Petrina, her cycling classes and the riders from the enough for this stellar morning.

Billion-Dollar Bike Sharing In China

That’s right. The bike-sharing craze in China is estimated to be at $1-billion (US) and 4d2e11e29c935fb81f74bbe9f680ae2cshowing no sign of stopping. In today’s Globe and Mail the story Nothing ventured, nothing gained says at least 20 bike-sharing companies have started up to service the almost 20-million people who rented bikes (at $0.20/hour) in the last year.

So what does this mean for Oakville (and the rest of Canada)?

It means cycling isn’t going away. I’ve heard it called the new golf and it’s not just the spandex crowd that’s out there on our roads and trails. We’re talking about teens on trails, families on cycling paths, kids going to school and, of course, the road cyclists.

When you consider some of the cycling clubs in our area have from 500 to dscf17461,000 members and, for example, Petrina Tulissi’s CyclingCentre’s  (in photo) winter spinning/cycling training courses are already starting to fill up you know cycling is growing in popularity.

We need to reach out to Mayor Rob Burton and council and let them know cycling is not only here to stay but we need better and safer cycling routes, roadways and trails.

LivableOakvilleCycling is a grass-roots group of volunteers organizing area cyclists to work with the Mayor and council for more and safer cycling in Oakville.

Check them out. Join up. And get on your bike!

Real Safe Bike Lanes

Toronto has real safe bike lanes. 

In fact, Toronto enforces its “no parking in bike lane laws” with a $150 fine.DCHT91FXYAAyY84.jpg-large

Metro Morning on CBC featured a parking enforcement officer talking about how motorists in Toronto aren’t obeying the law and are parking in bike lanes. Of course, parking in bike lanes forces cyclists out into the main traffic lane.

Not only that, Toronto even has barriers that separate the cycling-motoring lanes with plant potters and plastic posts.

Why can’t we have separate safe bike lanes in Oakville?towards20w20parking202016092020v4

With Oakville’s Alternative Transportation Master Plan update being introduced to Town Council on June 30 and set for a vote on July 10 there’s still time to send an email to Mayor Rob Burton and the councillors.

Livable Oakville Cycling is organizing an opportunity for you to tell your council member what you think we need here in Oakville when it comes to safe cycling.

Naked Bike Day Toronto

How could I have missed Naked Bike Day in Toronto?

Well I was doing Petrina Tulissi’s Adventure Ride from Hamilton (Devil’s Punchbowl Park) to Dunnville a 110-km round trip. We rode all that way for lunch and then rode back. It was Marion and my first 100-km+ ride and we’re thrilled to have done it.gopr0702.jpgMeanwhile in Toronto, city cyclists were getting it on…or off as was the case.

wnbdP1110199Oh well…maybe next year. 🙂

Safer Cycling In Oakville

I’ve been working with Livable Oakville Cycling to bring awareness to cycling safety in The Town of Oakville and also to create an action group to help the Town with it’s transportation planning.

This initiative is prompted by the upcoming introduction of the Town of Oakville’s updated Alternative Transportation Master Plan (ATMP) coming June 30 and scheduled for a vote by Town council on July 10.sharrow-ramon-crop

This plan will help guide the Town in planning cycling infrastructure for the next five to 10 years and Livable Oakville Cycling thinks the council should take a second look at the ATMP before moving forward.

The main issue is one of sharrows which are the painted chevrons that are currently all over Oakville roads. The big issue with sharrows is new studies show not only do they not do what planners would hope they would do (keep cyclists safe) but the actually can contribute to creating unsafe situations for both motorists and cyclists alike.

Sharrows were introduced as a way of indicating to cyclists the safe distance to ride from parked vehicles to avoid being “doored” (where a parked motorist opens their car door without looking to see if a cyclist is likely to be struck…ask any urban cyclist and they’ll tell you this happens all the time and is very dangerous).images

Unfortunately many municipalities started using the painted sharrows as a cheap way of indicating a cycling route on all roads with and without parking.

However, unlike a marked cycling lane with its continuous painted line (or in some municipalities its actual physical divide of the cycling lane from the roadway) the sharrow, which is not a continuous separation only appearing every few hundred meters, does nothing more than suggest cyclists are safe riding on the “marked” roadway while confusing motorists.

Unfortunately so many accidents and even fatalities are showing how dangerous sharrows actually are to cyclists.

The Oakville ATMP promotes the use of sharrows in the mistaken belief that sharrows contribute to cycling safety.

Livable Oakville Cycling is working with the Town to come up with a safer alternative as Oakville is a keystone municipality in the GTA cycling boom which is happening in municipalities across North America.

Livable Oakville Cycling estimates there maybe as many as 7,000 cyclists on Oakville roads daily. When you consider some of the larger local cycling clubs have upwards of 500 to 1,000 members each and then you add the number of grade and high school students who cycle to school here in Oakville and all the families who cycle on weekdays and weekends this number of 7,000 may not be so high after all.

The 50K Ride

Yup I just finished a 50k ride from Oakville to Burlington and back to Lakeshore Park east of Winston Churchill and then home again.

For the most part the ride was pretty easy. It was the sitting that was hard….and still is. I’m going to have to go into Gears and talk to them about their butt measuring device.

It was an adventure ride with the early in the ride fairly intense car crash just ahead of me as a women accelerated on Lakeshore to pass me (accelerating to pass a cyclist is so dumb) and ran into the back of the last car in a line of cars stopped as somebody made a right turn into their driveway.

Didn’t appear as if anyone was hurt but it was pretty good crash and fortunately didn’t involve me.

Riding 50k had me sitting way back on my saddle (I’ve switched back – for now – to the standard Fizik.) to avoid too much pain over bumps. The butt back position was a lot  more aerodynamic and for the most part my legs were fine it was just my butt that was holding me back…sort to speak.img_0944

BTW anyone who has access to my Strava stats can see early in the ride when I caught up to the very pretty 25-year-old who was passed by three big guys I was using to set a pace.

It was easier to stay with her than keep up with the boys (who were hitting over 30km/hr) but it’s early season and I’ll get better. BTW the telltale numbers are when I spiked at 150 bpm.

At my age happens all the time: I can catch’m I just can’t stay with them 🙂 I can still keep up to Marion…at least for now. She’s training with Petrina at The CyclingCentre.Ca this summer and should be in great shape by mid season.

Maybe the European bike tour isn’t out of the question?

The Cholesterol Myth

Don’t eat eggs. Avoid red meat. Switch to margarine.

Guess what? All of these beliefs long held by cardiologists and the rest of the mainstream medical world are proving false!eggs2

I’ve been reading reports for a long time now in the sporting news about how clogging of arteries isn’t so much a buildup of cholesterol deposits in the arteries (and thus wacky ideas like colation where chemicals are induced into the blood stream in a effort to scrub the arteries clean proliferate) but cholesterol issues are more like a pimple bursting.

In today’s National Post writer Colby Cosh writes about studies showing that a switch to margarine from butter did result in lower cholesterol levels but the patients in the study died sooner. In a study in Minnesota of 10,000 people living at old-age homes and mental hospitals (where investigators could control diets and  do autopsies on all who died) who had saturated fats replaced with corn oil died a little sooner than expected despite lowered cholesterol levels.fi004

Weird eh?

The new suggestion is to follow the Mediterranean diet (olive oil, fat-rich nuts and oily fish) plus go for brisk walks.

As Cosh writes: Just go for walks and eat real food.


The Man In The Mirror

When I started cycling early last spring I was shocked at how much better were the cyclists I was riding with out of the roadways of Halton.3098_10153538706381169_7552897096369745097_n

Sure some were younger and you can’t beat youth with a stick but some were older and a few were a lot older and yet a lot better.

So I joined Petrina Tulissi’s PT Cycling Centre on her Tuesday and Thursday morning rides on the country roads north of Oakville. It was tough but it was always fun.

Petrina is an enormously talented (and much loved by her clients and friends) cycling coach who for years was herself a racer and still competes as a pilot for sight-challenged youth at the Milton Velodrome. When Petrina tells you to do something, there’s no question of having a discussion. On the other hand when Petrina sees you’re struggling there’s no hesitation in telling you to rest and she means it!1

So last night we finished our winter spinning program at the Cycling Centre. Spinning all winter was hard and it was also a lot of fun. We used our own bicycles on rear trainers we rented and went spinning using our bike computers to determine speed and cadence as Petrina called out instructions.

The people we shared spinning classes were anywhere from their 20s to late 60s (maybe even early 70s).  As we got to know each other the tales of cycling adventures kept us going through the cold winter nights.

And now we’re approaching spring and back to road riding. As I look around the room I realized I still wasn’t as good as these riders. Younger, more experienced, even fitter these adult riders would leave me behind on the first climb.

But as I carried my bike downstairs to my car last night I realized I was having none of the issues I had six months ago when I clumsily hauled the bike upstairs. Over the months I had learned so much and grown so much stronger. It suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t the same man coming down the stairs as I was when I was the man who came up for the first time.13726644_1292487937429458_7137738430347162527_n

It will be the same situation out on the roads this year. I may never be able to catch up with the big kids on every hill but the only kid I need to beat is the man in my mirror and he’s the man I was yesterday when I was younger.

It’s the old me I need to beat.

Funny isn’t it? It’s the old man who will end up beating the younger man (at least for a little while).

Thanks Petrina and thanks to all my fellow cyclists at PT Cycling Centre for a super winter of training and great fun.HERO5_Black_45

BTW this year’s riding will feature videos on my blog and Facebook pages as I’ve invested in a GoPro Hero 5…4K video baby 🙂

“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.