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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle’

Monday Morning and the Return of the Iron Pig

April 21, 2014 4 comments

ride alarm

I love long weekends.  Do you love long weekends!  I love long weekends – especially long weekends with very little in the calendar.  My long weekend this past weekend was PERFECT!  3 amazing dinner gatherings, great times with family and friends, some lovely beers (really quickly becoming a fan of the new Block 3 Brewery that recently opened in the tourist town of St. Jacobs, just outside of Waterloo), some SUNSHINE!!!, the Easter Bunny, and a great long run on Saturday!

What a great weekend!

But the weekend is over, and it’s back to the grind.  Back to the office, and back to the training plan!  And I actually feel really good about both of these things.

This spring hasn’t been the model of consistent training for me.  Maybe it’s the Winter Blahs.  Maybe I came down with a case of Laziness.  Who knows.  Who cares.  We can only go forward from here!

This week marks a new phase in my training plan.  Today was the arbitrary day when the combination of warm (and dry) weather aligned with morning energy and enthusiasm: Today I busted out The Iron Pig for my first bike commute to work of 2014!

My bike commute is 12.5km each way – a handy 25km round trip, mostly through parks and along trails, and away from traffic.  What a good extra boost to my training this will be once I start bike commuting 4-5 days a week (and where the alternate option is the bus – not a car – I’ll be biking as often as I can).

I struggle though with how to define this riding – is this “training”?  Does work commuting count as “training”?  On the Pro side: Time in the saddle is time in the saddle, and I realized this morning how much commuter training really is just as good a workout as any exercise bike (which is how I “trained” all winter).  On the Con side: My hybrid isn’t my road bike – it’s a very different riding position, I’m riding in sneakers on flat pedals (not clipped in, and thus all the work I’m doing is pedal mashing), I’m not following a training plan but rather just trying to get from A to B, and I’m much more restricted by traffic and traffic lights riding through town than I would be on the country roads.  Waiting at a red light doesn’t feel much like training.

So at the end of this week, when I look back at my ‘volume’ of training, the picture could be remarkably different if I include the 100km and ~4hrs of commute bike riding (assuming 4 out of 5 days) than if I exclude it.  By the end of the summer, this could have a huge impact on my training volume, which I guess really only matters if I look back on it in future years by comparison.  And for pride points.  It matters there too.

I’m honestly on the fence on this one, so I’d love your input:

Would you count bicycle commuting as bike training?

Happy Birthday To Me

March 21, 2014 3 comments

RedshiftParts

No, it’s not my birthday.  My birthday is in June.  But last year’s birthday gift to myself finally arrived last night.  I’m not used to celebrating my birthday in March (I should have baked a cake)!

Last June I penned my name to a Kickstarter Project – a company named Redshift Sports had a great idea: Clip on aero bars that were quick and easy to… clip on (or off, or on again). Their website describes it better than I do:

If you’re going out for a group ride, you can leave the aerobars at home and ride a pure road bike. But if you’re racing in a triathlon or doing a charity ride, you can throw the aerobars on and choose the best position for every climb, flat, and descent.

RedshiftBars

They also concurrently designed a seat post on a pivot point that allows for different positions between riding in the aero bars vs riding as a normal road bike.  Again, their website describes it better than I do (it’s like they have a vested interest in marketing their product, or something):

The Switch Dual-Position Seatpost lets you replicate the steeper seat tube angle of a tri bike. The steeper geometry opens up your hip angle and maintains proper leg extension, letting you ride more comfortably and efficiently in the aero position.

RedshiftSeat

All the pics above are of the bike in my basement – indoors.  The new parts are installed, and they look mighty bad ass, but I haven’t given them a test drive yet. I’m happy to report that everything came as advertised, installed crazy-easy, and looks really professional.  Even the instructions were clear.  For a Kickstarter project, I’m really happy.

Unfortunately, I haven’t given it a test ride yet.  It’s still cold and ice and crap outside here, and looks to be that way for a few more weeks still.  I always think of the first week in April being when the bike first comes out of the garage.  I’m guessing this year is going to be a bit later than usual.  And since I don’t have a bike trainer at home yet (maybe I should start dropping hints for this year’s birthday gift… which is only 3 months away), I’m relegated to the stationary bikes at the gym for a few more weeks.  But once I do get out on the roads, I’ll be sure to give a proper product review.

For now, they make my bike look distinctly more like a triathlon bike, and that’s birthday gift enough for me!!

Spring is coming, and I’m ready to get out there!

Moving and The Iron Pig

September 4, 2013 1 comment

Moving Boxes

I’ve been off the grid for nearly the past week as we moved from Toronto ON to Kitchener-Waterloo ON.  It feels like a home coming – my job is in KW, my wife and I met and went to school here.  My life is here.  But that doesn’t make moving any less of a beast of a job!

I haven’t had a lot of time for training in the past few days.  I suppose I could have prioritized it more, but that would have taken time away from packing and unpacking.  And I really just want to get the house settled.  Thank goodness for our MacGyver friends who were able to get our box springs (and our couch) up to the upper floors through the windows!

MovingBoxSpringWhile not getting out much for ladder swim sets or brick runs, I have been reunited with my Hybrid bicycle, which has been in storage (or disuse) for nearly 2 years.  My wife gets primary use of the car for her program, and we’re trying to avoid becoming a 2-car family, so I want to bike commute as much as I can.  And I dislike commuting on my road bike – they’re great for racing, but I worry it’ll be damaged or stolen when locked up, or that my route might end up off of well paved roads.  And cycling shoes are a pain when running errands.  So the Hybrid and I are becoming reacquainted.

What a pig it is!  Okay – context matters here: it’s a pig in comparison to my fast, light, fitted road bike – which I’ve gotten quite used to in the two years my Hybrid has been in storage.  And that’s not what this bike is designed to be – it’s designed to get you around town for a lot less money than a racing bike.  It’s actually really good for what it’s designed for – I’d recommend it for anyone looking for something a little nicer than a Walmart bike.  But my legs have become accustomed to my road bike – and comparatively, this thing is a slow, heavy pig.

In fact this morning, during my first 13.2km (per direction) bike commute to work, while struggling to hammer my heavy Hybrid up a hill, I decided it needs a name:  It’s now The Iron Pig.

I think I’m going to enjoy commuting on The Iron Pig.  It sure beats the 70+km commute I did from Hamilton, or the congestion of downtown Toronto.  And while I wouldn’t call it training in the purest definition – more like cardio cross training – it’s a bit of extra time on the bike every day.  And will continue to be time on the bike every day after the race season is over.  26km/day is nothing to sneeze at – especially when that’s on top of your daily training plans (or lack thereof).  Plus, there’s something really satisfying about riding a bike to work – I’ll take the morning air over a seat in a car any day.

Do you commute to work?  Could/Would you commute to work?  Why or Why not?

Race Recap: Tour de Waterloo

June 23, 2013 3 comments

tdw_icon

I think, before a recap of this morning’s Tour de Waterloo bike ride race, a bit of my weekend’s back story is in order…

It all started Friday night, when one of my closest university buddies came to town after work for a night of drinking-like-our-university-days.  Amazing visit with a great friend.  Amazing tasty beers.  It’s been a long time since I’ve closed out the bar, leading to very little sleep that night.  Had a blast – wouldn’t trade it for the world… but shouldn’t have done that 36hrs before a race.  Strike #1

Saturday I drove out of town to the wedding of one of my high school friends.  Lovely wedding – such happy people, and great to see old friends I see too infrequently.  We danced, we drank, we survived the lack of air conditioning (though it was dicey for a while).  Such a fantastic night – so glad I was there.  Drinking and dancing the evening before a race is rarely a recipe for success.  Strike #2

After the wedding Saturday night I drove to Waterloo and crashed at my sister’s apartment.  I enjoyed getting to visit my sister – I see her too rarely.  But getting in late and sleeping in a home you’re not used to (again with no a/c – seriously, where did this weekend’s heat and humidity come from?!?) before a race is also not the best strategy!.  Strike #3.

Yep – I was in trouble…

The pre race festivities were simple enough.  Not a lot of vendors – not a lot of loud music or activities.  But there was coffee, and bagels.  And that made for a happy Dave!

That's about as excited as I get in the mornings...

That’s about as excited as I get in the mornings…

The starting area reminded me of a charity bike ride I did a few years ago – probably because it’s the only other time I’ve started an event on the bike.  I’m used to starting my races with a bunch of runners, or swimmers.  Bikes take up a surprising amount of space, and make for an interesting stop/start dynamic when the pack takes off.

Startline

They corralled us by distance – the 130km racers went first (crazy fools), then us 70km racers, and finally the 40km racers (where I really should have been).  It seemed to work well enough.  How else to do you reasonably release 550+ bicycles into the city streets at once?

The gun went off and out we were – and like most races, as the pack leaves together I get swept up in keeping with the pack instead of racing my own race.  I managed to stick with a group of riders for only the first 5km, by which point some of the early hills had left me very winded and gasping for air… and I had lost my pack.  It occurred to me that training in downtown Toronto leads to very little hill riding.  One can ride for dozens of miles on perfectly flat urban terrain.  The farm country NW of Waterloo is not like that – it has some BIG hills – and they thoroughly kicked my ass!

Hypothetically… if I were to get to move back home to Waterloo sometime in the foreseeable future, I would love to get to do more training on these hills… if only that could happen… <COUGH/> foreshadowing <COUGH/>

TdW70kRoute

This weekend was really hot and wet – heat and rain can lead to some wicked humidity here in SW Ontario.  I was anxious of the weather for this race.  I woke up to a pleasantly cool morning and was optimistic.  It didn’t last… It was hot – easily the hottest day of the year so far (in my unscientific opinion, since I didn’t bother to actually check the temperature this morning).  Here’s what it is right now though, at 6:30pm – I’m guessing it was a bit higher near mid day…

That's 86F, feels like 99F

That’s 86F, feels like 99F with the humidity

Sun: 1.  Dave’s skin: 0

Seriously!  Way too many sunburns already this summer!!!

Seriously! Way too many sunburns already this summer!!!

Heat + Humidity + A few drinks and late nights before the race = not a great performance.  Though I actually didn’t do too poorly: 73km in 2:50:28, for an average speed of 24.6kph.  Good enough for 20/24 in my age group.  I was hoping for <2:30:00, but didn’t factor in the hills that I wasn’t used to, or the shenanigans I would get up to in the preceding evenings.  It did give me a realistic baseline of my current fitness over a longer distance (and a less flat one at that), which is what I was ultimately looking for.  It’s given me confidence for the bike portion of my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of this summer.

The Tour de Waterloo does pride itself on food.  And they didn’t disappoint!  A big plate of pulled pork AND butter chicken post race, hosted by McCabes Irish Pub, is easily the best race eats I’ve ever had (go figure – a blogger who didn’t take a picture of their plate of food!).

Next up next is the Cincinnati Triathlon in only 4 weeks.  Looking forward to getting back into a training routine!

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