Category Archives: Cycling

Cottage Opening 2016

Opened the cottage a little early this year, the Thursday before the traditional May long weekend. I took a few days off and came down Wednesday evening. Part of the early opening was a group ride that was taking place in the Kenora area, billed as a “Spring Training Camp” which seemed like a lot of fun, and it would be nice to have the water running for a hot shower after the rides.  Plus, Gail & Gord are coming down on Friday and staying at the lake until they take possession of their new house in Saskatoon sometime in June. 

After last years pump problem where it wouldn’t prime, but in the end noting seemed to be wrong with it after I dragged it into town for servicing, I was a little apprehensive about this years startup. But, no problems! It started up just fine on the first attempt and after starting at about 6:30am I had the bulk of the cottage opening chores done by 8:30 and was sitting down with a cup of coffee and waiting for the hot water tank to do it’s thing.

 Being pretty lazy and enjoying the quiet. After a trip to town to look for an Apple power adapter for the laptop (unsuccessful) and enjoying the first Chip Truck of the year, it was time for a nap. Life roles at a different pace at the lake, well, at least for me. 

I’m thinking there are not too many people around right now as Netflix ran fine all evening without buffering. Normally, on a summer weekend, the wireless bandwidth is getting sucked up by all the neighbours and the Internet slows to a crawl, making Netflix almost unwatchable. 

The weather is cool at 0°C and drizzling, in fact right now it’s snowing kind of hard . HArd to see in the photo, but it’s like a micro blizzard which I’m sure will disappear momentarily, right?

The planned big group rides for the weekend have been cancelled because so many guys bailed because of the weather forecast. I guess I’m on my own. If there is a break in the weather I’ll take a spin over to Rushing River and if things really turn around perhaps a longer spin out to Minaki and back.

First Group ride on Zwift

Over the Christmas holidays I said goodbye to TrainerRoad and hello to Zwift. TrainerRoad is awesome and I enjoyed pairing it with The Sufferfest videos, but Zwift with it’s interactive and social riding,   workout plans similar to TrainerRoad, and integration with my Wahoo Kickr takes indoor riding out of the Pain Cave of solitude into a shared suffering experience of the most engaging kind.

The first few rides were a learning experience as I got used to the controls, routes, graphics and the immersive experience. I’d been used to the TrainRoad training plans, so it seemed natural to latch onto the Zwift Workouts. Even an interval workout is fun when you’re watching other riders around you and watching the ride chatter as people text & ride at the same time.

It’s surprising how engaging the ride experience is. If I’m just casually riding along and someone passes me, the competitive nature kicks in and the next thing I know I’m accelerating hard to see if I can catch a wheel or blow by the other rider.

Today was the 1st attempt at a group ride. I selected the Saturday Sit-in group as it fit my schedule and seemed like a group I might be able to hang with. I “arrive” at the start/finish line to join the group about 10 minutes before the start. Actually, I go by the start/finish a bit and try to turn around and back up a bit (down arrow for a U turn) but it’s not working for me. I switch my view to the ride leader so I can watch for the start and I’m tracking the text messaging countdown.

The ride starts and I start peddling but my display is still locked on the ride leader and he goes by me and now I’m a little lost and confused as to where I am in the group. I can’t get the display to show my avatar (figured this out post-ride) so I opt for restarting the Zwift app and now I’m back and the group is nowhere in sight. With virtually know warmup I’m now hammering to try and chase back, scanning the rider list looking for other SSI riders.  After a lap of hard riding and noting from the test messages how far ahead the ride leader is I realize that while I’m gaining a bit, I’m never going to catch up.  I slow up a bit but still have some delusions of joining up and sprint away from time to time. Here I am sloughing  up a grade on the 2nd lap somewhere trying to catch those guys in the distance.

Chasing the pack
Chasing the pack

Not the best 1st experience, but I’ll get the hand of it yet and I’ll probably look for another group ride later in the week.

And of course, Strava says…

I’m a winter cyclist

That’s right, I cycle commute to work year round and this is the 4th winter for riding in the snow & cold.

Some think I’m a little crazy, perhaps.

Some think it’s too dangerous, perhaps.

Car drivers dislike cyclists, and especially winter cyclists, perhaps.

So far this winter the riding has been going well, and I’m very impressed with the motorists that I encounter on my route. They have been very considerate, giving me lots of space as they pass and no honking or rude gestures. I can’t say the same for some pedestrians.

Actually, most pedestrians are just fine, but so far this year I’ve received the most “comments” from those on two feet. Perhaps that’s just because you typically can’t hear what the people in the vehicles are saying or thinking, which might be a good thing. Ignorance is bliss.


About a week ago, after the 1st big snowfall, I’m cycling along on a path that parallels Fermor along side Windsor Park, near my home. A gentleman is our shoveling his sidewalk. He sees me coming down the path, and it starts.

“You’ve got to be kidding” – repeatedly in an unfriendly tone.

“Take a bus!” – louder

“Are you crazy!” – really getting agitated now

I wave to him in a friendly manner.

“Do you have no consideration for others!?!”

“Are you trying to get yourself killed? Do you have a death wish?!?” – hitting a crescendo now. I’m thinking he’s expecting me to turn around and go home.

I wave to him again, in a less friendly manner, my bad, I should have just let the whole thing slide.

A week or two goes by and we get another big snowfall. Of course this is when the riding is the most challenging for a couple of days until all the ploughing gets completed. My next encounter with a pedestrian is riding into work right after the snowfall. A lady is walking two dogs down on the Assiniboine River Walkway. As I approach from behind I slow down and wait for her to notice me. I cough a couple of times just for good measure. She is walking right up the middle. The dogs are on both sides of her at full leash extension so the 8′ path is totally blocked.

When she notices me I hear “Sorry” and she reels in one of the dogs so I can pass. No problem I think, I’m not in a rush and this is fine. Just as I pass I hear “You should get a bell”, in the kind of tone that implied I’ve done something wrong. I say nothing, and ride off.

I’ve had a bell on the bike and in my 14+ years of cycle commuting, the bell is no better that not having a bell. Here is what typically happens with “the bell”.  You ring from a ways back, they don’t hear it, you ring again at a closer range and then they do hear it and things typically get worse. They get startled and either jump right in front of you, or swear at you for scaring them, or both. So, you really can’t win.


In over 200 days of cycling a year people and cars are generally very good but you always need to be ready for the exceptions. Typically, once a year, I have a close encounter with a vehicle, thankfully never a full contact kind. I find that as long as you’re aware of your surrounding and make plans to get out of the way, things go well.

Safe cycling everyone.


Commuter bike repair

So this week I had a problem with the rear bike rack. On Thursday the bolt attaching the rack to the lower chain stay snapped off. Now the rack is saying side and the fender is rubbing the tire. An quick zip tie fix didn’t make it through the Friday commute. Time for a more serious repair. 

I pick up a couple of drill bits and a couple of sizes of bolt extractors at Princess Auto.  Step 1, drill out the centre of the bolt. I manage to snap one of two drill bits and I’m a lot more careful with the second bit. Step 2, use the extractor to remove the snapped off bolt. Well, the bolt is stubborn and the extractor snaps off on the drilled out hole. Now this is a real problem. The extractor is hardened steel and the drill bit can’t touch it. Time for Plan B. 

After some thinking I resort to a little MacGuyver move. 

A 1/2 pipe clamp with a bolt inserted into the band and we’re back in business. 


It appears that I’m a winer in the Tour of Sufferlandria! My prize? Well, interesting that you should ask. The prize is Taylor Phinney signed pair of Giro Empire shoes (Collectible – size 45)




And sure enough he wears them!

At first I was thinking what will I do with a pair of his shoes? I wonder if they are used or new? I might be able to fit into size 45 (11 1/2). Turns out these are north of $400 at the LBS.  I just might need to step up my gear to go along with these bad boys.

IceBike 2015

I rode the IceBike today, probably my 10th or more, I’ve lost track, but I’ve got quite a few T-shirts from the events at home.

Ready to go and it's only -20°C
Ready to go and it’s only -20°C

For me, this year was one of the worst. Within the first couple of minutes I had a mechanical issue with chain suck that had me stopped and off the bike for 2-3 minutes. After that I probably went out too hard trying to make up time. The bulk of the course was flat (well this is Winnipeg) and on well shovelled  paths of on the river trail. That made the bulk of the course quite fast, which was nice.

IceBike 2015 Abominable
IceBike 2015 Abominable

However, at the far end of the loop there was a fairly big single track section which was very challenging to ride. A small center track was hard packed and on each side, deep loose snow. If you slipped off the straight and narrow, your were in the rough, and for that meant off the bike.  I’d say on the 1st lap I was able to ride 50% of this section, the 2nd lap 25%, and on the 3rd lap I walked or jogged the entire thing.  This was the first IceBike where I had not been able to ride the full course. Even the last downhill onto the river gave me trouble and I should have been able to handle that section.

Passed quite a few phat bikes and after riding one a few weeks ago, I know why. Those thinks are a bear to ride fast with the fat tires and low pressure. The cross and road bikes ruled the day as the bulk of the course was built for speed. Not even very much ice!

Crossing the finish line at IceBike 2015
Crossing the finish line at IceBike 2015

Having pre & post race activities at Muddy Waters Smokehouse was excellent! I really enjoyed siting at a table and having a cool one with Smothered Poutine covered in pulled pork and chili while they announced the race winners and gave our door prizes.

Update: the results are in. 16 (72:08) out of 24. Achieved my goal, to have a good time, finish, and not be last. Winning time was 53:31, so I’ve got lots of room for improvement.

Details on Strava:

Tour of Sufferlandria – Stage 3

I… am… so… out… of… my… league… at… 308.


Today’s Fight Club just killed me. Had to stop multiple times in the last two intervals to recover. I’m going to have to dial down my FTP from 308 to something like 290 in order to survive the next 6 days. Last year I tested a 311FTP shortly before the Tour in 2014, and got about this far before I had to turn it down. With no rest days, the legs just can’t handle multiple days with this load.

My standing:

What’s this all about?


A Perfect Day

First off, I’m at the lake, so how sweet is that! Next, it’s not raining and I got in a ride with Arthur Fast instead of the usual solo effort.  I did flat on the way out to our 9am rendezvous at Tim’s East in Kenora but still made it on time after donating a pint to the mosquitos on the side of the road. We did an all over the place route that was lots of fun.

After we split up in downtown Kenora it was the traditional stop at Starbucks Safeway for a beverage. Then it was an attempt to improve on the Starbucks to Storm Bay Road Strava segment. I gave it a good shot, but there was a strong head wind all the way. Once at the cottage a dip in the lake to cool off, a nice chicken sandwich made by Shirley and a beverage all while soaking up some beautiful sunshine. Then a “nap” followed by steak, baked potato, mushrooms, Caesar salad and likely a movie. Awesome longest day of the year.