These days I get asked how I’m feeling a moderate amount, most likely because some folks know about my health challenges I faced earlier in the year. I’m actually feeling quite well physically as well as most “other” ways, but this is about my current physical status.
The way I’m judging my physical status is basically two ways. The first is just how I’m thinking about my physical status. Are things working OK? Do I have adequate energy? Sleeping well? How am I feeling compared to a prior timeframe like last year or the year before or some other timeframe when I thought things were really, really good. Basically it’s just some sort of overall internal evaluation of how I think I’m doing and generally the answer is “good’.
The other primary way is by my cycling capabilities some of which is how I feel about the various rides and the other measure is the analysis provided by the various bits of technology that I use while riding like a heart rate monitor and a power meter.
Today, I had an experience with both on my ride.
While doing the ride I noticed that I was able to hold 225-250 watts with a moderate amount of effort. Only a very short time ago this was not possible. Granted, I’ve been riding more frequently to improve my fitness, and it seems to be paying off. While riding I was thinking this was the kind of pace I could hold a couple of years ago while cycling around the Kenora area on the Bypass loop. Feels good to be getting back into better shape. Hopefully, in the summer of 2019 I won’t be hanging on for dear life to the back of the pack on group rides and back into taking my full turns pulling on the front like the “old” days. This internal personal assessment was backed up by the Strava stats. This was one of my better rides in quite some time.
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.
I join ed up with about 12 other folks including Doug L. and Dave M. for this inaugural ride out to Minaki and back for just over 100km. This was my fastest 100km ride ever, thanks to some young guys setting a blazing pace on the way out, and dropping us on the way back. Coming home it was just Doug & I and I struggled to keep up with him, but we kept a pretty good pace going.
The ride was virtually non-stop. A brief break for about 1-2 minutes at Minaki and another 2 minutes when we got stopped by a train on the way back. Had to fight off cramps in both calves on the way out and some serious leg fatigue and stomach muscle aches on the way back, but still a great ride.
On a related note, I’ve noticed a difference in distances being reported by Strava and the Wahoo Fitness iPhone app. The app is using the speed/cadence sensor data and Strava is using the GPS data. Not much I can do about the GPS data, but after checking the app configuration for the speed/cadence sensor, I had the wrong wheel size circumference. So, all this time I’m actually riding farther and faster that I though, well at least a little bit.
Exactly one year ago today I voluntarily gave up my vehicle and committed to a year of cycle commuting to work and living as a single car family.
The Honda Ridgeline was coming off lease and I just decided not to replace it. This saved quite a bit of money not keeping a 2nd vehicle on the road considering insurance, gas, and downtown parking not to mention the cost of the vehicle.
The downside is I miss my truck and every time I see a Ridgeline on the road I think whistfully about the one I had for four years. The up side is probably the great cycling conditioning I get with a mandatory twice daily 30-40 minute workout. With just cycle commuting I’ve logged over 4,000km in the year.
Despite today’s -22°C temperature, winter is winding down and the riding is easier with less snow on the route. I’m looking forward to the mornings where you can just throw on a jersey and pair if shorts and go.
Is there a vehicle in my future? We’ll see. Is there more cycling? For sure!
It’s been cold over the last couple of weeks, colder that it’s been all winter so far with temperatures in the mid -20°C and windchill putting it in the mid -30°C. These lower temperatures have brought some stress and challenges to cycle commuting both for me and the bike.
One of the first mornings where there as some nasty windchill I got a little frost bite on some exposed skin on my cheek. I tried a couple of different balaclavas but nothing was really working for me. The ones that covered everything also covered my mouth, making it hard to breath. Then I read a blog post about layering. I knew about layering for jerseys and pants etc. but this blog post described how the rider layered various bits of headgear to meet the demands of colder temperatures. The next day I teamed up my heavy balaclava with a headband, positioning the headband just below my eyes, over the nose and down to the top of the lip. That, in combination with ski googles, resulted in no more exposed skin and some comfortable riding in the wicked temperatures.
With the rider part of the equation fixed up another problem came to the forefront. One morning, about 5 minutes into the ride, the chain seems to fall off and get stuck between the tire and the rear chain stay. I put it back on and we’re under way for a few minutes, and then it happens again. Now I’m paying attention. It seems that the rear freewheel cassette is not spinning freely enough and when I stop pedeling the cassette keeps rotating and forcing he chain forward against the now stopped big ring, causing it to get all caught up between the tire & chain stay. For the next few days I ride without stopping peddling to keep tension on the chain. It’s a little weird peddling and braking at the same time and every once in a while I’d forget and get the quick reminder with the clatter of the chain dangling down.
Being big on looking after the bike myself I decide after a little shop work that I need to get the freewheel off and clean is up. Problem #1 is that it has not been off the wheel in 30 years and is frozen on and the penetrating oil doesn’t seem to be helping. Problem #2 is that I don’t have the proper removal tool. So, it’s off to my favourite LBS, Woodcock Cycleworks to get a tool, some advise and possible some parts. It’s Saturday and about -30°C so there are not too many people at the shop and the mechanic offers to remove the freewheel while I wait. Once he discovers it’s really stuck on there, we agree I’ll come back in an hour or so.
Later in the day I’m back at the shop, and the news is not too good, they can’t get if off either. Best recommendation is to buy a new wheel and new freewheel cassette. I go with that option, plus a new chain knowing that the old chain and new cassette won’t get along well (more on that later). Back home I re-assemble the bike, get everything adjusted and I’m good for monday morning.
The first 5 minutes of the ride on Monday is going well. It’s still very cold, but I’m rolling along fine, until the 1st stop. I step on the pedals and nothing, just spin, the freewheel is not re-engaging with the wheel. This is a problem. It does re-engage, after some amount of time, but the slightest loss of tension, and I’m spinning. I’m forced to turn back home. Fortunately, I don’t have to walk all the way and nurse the crippled bike back to base.
After some thinking, I decide to put the old wheel back on ad try again. I’m counting on the old freewheel spinning better after being filled with penetrating oil. After switching over the studded tire and re-adjusting the brakes the bike is ready for round #2. However, I’ve left the new chain on and sure enough, the new chain and old cassette fight it out and I’m reduced to 2 or 3 gears that work somewhat reliably without the chain skipping over the cassette. Later that night I’m putting on the old chain, re-inserting a pin from an old link and once again adjusting the brakes and rear derailleur. It’s about 10 pm as I’m tightening he bolt that hold the shifter cable on the read derailleur and the bolt strips. I’m hooped, my inner MacGyver has reached the limit, I’m out of ideas to get the bike on the road for the next morning.
I resort to the car the next day and once again stop by Woodcock for some advice & parts. I’ve surmised that the new wheel & freewheel cassette is too loaded up with grease and in the low temperatures the grease is just not letting the unit re-engage. The shop confirms my diagnosis and says they can force in some oil with compressed air to thin out the grease. That and a new derailleur and it’s back to the basement shop to re-assemble the beast one more time.
This time I do a test ride late in the evening to confirm that all is good. That and the next day’s ride confirms that the drive train is functioning well and the shifting is sweeter than it’s been in a long time.
Lesson Learned: Stress brings out the weakness. Perseverance, patience and help from friends gets you through.
On the weekend club ride, we had a couple of “special” guests.
The other special guests were the Woodcock Race team that joined up with us at Lockport. The FOG fast group went off with them to Selkirk, and then from Selkirk to “The Big Bridge” Tim & Don pulled the train at 46-48km/h and most of us just hung on for the ride, it was a good time. Then, after the sprint to the top of the bridge, the Woodcock team went on a head as we stopped to re-group. The ride boss was pushing for some extra mileage and the group was willing, so it was off to Cooks Creek and then a stop at the beach in Birds Hill Park for water. With riding from home to the Legion and all the way back to the house it racked up 145 km for the day.
Good preparation for the Muddy Waters 100 (160km) coming up on August 12, 2012. This year the route is a little different with the start from Kildonan Park. The 1st loop is out to Lockport and back via Henderson and Highway 202, and then ti’s the standard FOG route, including Cooks Creek and 1 1/2 laps of Birds Hill Park to round out the 100 mile course.
Habitat for Humanity is sponsoring the ride and it’s a fund raising event. If you’d like to support them, and me, a tax-deductible donation can be made here, or by using the form in the sidebar.
This is the first week without the truck and a full 5 days of bicycle commuting. So far I’m not missing the truck too much and with the unusually warm weather it’s not been much of a hardship. In fact, last night I biked home in shorts! Not all the days were easy. On Tuesday, the melt from Monday coated the streets with ice and it was quite tense trying to stay upright while listening to car spin their tires and sliding all around me.
The Sasquatch got another commuter upgrade last night as well with a set of new Specialized tires. They are much quieter and probably a fair bit faster with less rolling resistance.
The new cycle commuting routine is getting down to a science and snow, ice and cold are no problem. We’ll see how it goes in the rain, that will be the next challenge.
The day started off clear and sunny at 7am, but by the time I was picking up the Starbucks at 8:30 on the way to the ride it had clouded over with a nice flat layer of grey. Not particularly threatening but keeping the temperature down at 14°C. The normal 9am sharp start time was delayed by a few minutes as on of the guys repaired a flat. This turned out to be the only mechanical difficulty of the ride as approximately 25 rides headed out.
A couple of route changes from the standard ride took place. Due to a race on a section of River Road, we went up Henderson Hwy and cut over the bridge to Lockport and resumed the normal route, until we hit Birds Hill Park. Once in the Park one of the ride leaders proposed cutting over to Garvin Rd via a path and the road that goes between Elmhurst and Pine Ridge golf courses. There was much objection about going thru this path. Many felt that it would be too muddy and heaped much durision on the person proposing the route change. We did it anyway. These roadies are a little too pristine. The path was a perfectly good single track and any mountain bike rider would think nothing of it. Sure there was a little mud, but nothing of concern even to a road bike.
Overall, the ride was quite relaxed by FOG ride standards, and there was just one group for the entire ride. The typical speed was kept under 35km and the only hard haul was up 206 where of course all the boys had to hammer up the hill to the Park entrance, into the wind of course. I think it was this relaxed because the racers were busy elsewhere.
By this time the clouds were darker and signs of rain were all around us, but we escaped getting caught in any serious rain. However, on the way home, minutes after getting back to the starting point, there was a heavy downpour that temporarily flooded the streets. I appreciated not getting soaked out on the ride! As always, a good ride and with the more relaxed pace, I’m not feeling totally wasted!