Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Riding in the Great White North

I'm up at my parent's, just outside Vancouver for Christmas and New Years. The way that the holidays lined up this year it seemed like stupidity to not take advantage. By taking only 6 days off work, I could get 16 away from the office, so I'm up here for what is probably my longest visit since moving down south.

A part of the decision to head up here for two weeks, was an agreement with myself that I'd bring my bike up here with me and continue to pound out the miles. At first I was thinking that maybe I'd just buy a bike up here, one that could remain up here for whenever I visit. By the time I looked into what it would cost to get a bike that was anywhere descent put together I realized that I'd be better off to just bring my bike up here with me. Wells, one of the guys in my club suggested that I check out Allegiant Air because they charge very little to ship over sized items. $50 each way! Can't beat that when most airlines are charging $30 just for a normal suitcase. Especially when Allegiant only charges around $100 return for airfare direct from San Diego to Bellingham, WA. Closer to my parents than Vancouver at a fraction of the cost of United, Air Canada or US Airways.

I was also lucky that a few guys on my team were willing to lend me their travel cases, so the transport side of things has worked out really well. I borrowed a Serfas case, threw my bike and my clothing inside and it got here in perfect condition.

The final piece of the setup was a few items from Mission's own Wenting's Cycle. I want to give a big thanks to Bruce Wenting who gave me a discount on a set of rollers, bottles, and a pump. He also passed along some good ideas for routes in and around good old Mission. The first bike that I ever bought with my own money, I bought from Bruce about 20 years ago. It's great to see that his shop is still going strong.

So, on to the riding right? I flew up on Sunday night, so I got my Sunday ride done in San Diego. Monday is my usual day off. So, Tuesday was my first chance to venture out into the cold. Fortunately for me, I only had 30 minutes of tempo riding to get done, so I kept it in the garage and rode the rollers. The garage isn't heated, so it was something like 5C when I started. Luckily it's a single car garage, so my body heat and breathing got it warmed up pretty quick.

Today's ride was a bit of a different story. I had a couple hours of endurance riding to get in. It was 1C (that's 34 degree Fahrenheit for those scoring in the world's last bastion of non-metric measurement) when I got started. Supposedly it cracked 2C by the time I got home. The first hour and fifteen minutes were spent riding into the wind, so things were damned cold. For folks like me who are spoiled by San Diego's near permanent 70F coastal temperatures, that's pretty tough to handle, especially when you're passing frozen puddles and ponds as you ride. I did manage to get the full two hours in though.

It won't be until Christmas Day that I get back out into the outdoors again. Hopefully it will have warmed up to at least 5C by then!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Three Hours on the Rollers

It's been a rainy past few days down here in San Diego. So much so that I was left with a simple choice on Saturday, ride in the wet stuff or ride the rollers. I had three hours of endurance riding to get done, which I hate doing on the rollers. Yes I love the rollers, but no I don't like riding a bike in one place for 3 hours at a time.

I do have to say that if you don't have a set of rollers, you really have no idea what you're missing. Rollers make a trainer look like a child's toy. They improve your balance, they make your legs work together, they get your pedaling more round, they require you to stay mentally engaged while training, they improve your leg speed without doing anything out of the ordinary, etc. All things that a trainer most definitely can't do.

As much as I didn't enjoy three hours on the rollers, I definitely noticed a difference on my two hour ride today. In the end it'll turn out to be time well spent.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boss Bib Shorts

A month or so ago I broke down and bought a new pair of bib shorts. It's that dreaded time of year where you find yourself trying to stretch what's left of last year's club clothing through to the next year's first delivery in January. Over the past couple months I've had to retire a couple pairs of shorts and was really starting to run on threads.

Rather than proving my insanity and spending $400 on a pair of Assos bib shorts, I figured I'd give my fellow Canadian Louis Garneau a shot. I've never had a pair of Garneau shorts, but I figured it was worth a shot. I bought a pair of Carbon T-Ion Bibs, and I have to say these are probably the best shorts I've ever owned. The power band leg gripper is particularly nice. $200 bucks or so when you include tax and shipment. Can't beat that.

Fun factoid - Louis Garneau is one of the only people on earth to have put his arm around the Queen

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


"Winter" has officially arrived in San Diego. Monday night we got 3 inches of rain and some marginally strong winds. Enough to nearly blow San Diego right off the map!? Power was out, lights at major intersections were down and chaos ensued.

It's now getting down to the low 50s in the mornings and that can only mean one thing; it's time for the claw gloves to come out of the closet and hit the roads once again. If you don't own a pair of these babies, you have no idea what you're missing. I have a nice set of Pearl Izumi full fingered gloves for colder mornings, but when the temperature heads towards freezing there's only one glove for the job (and no I don't have only two fingers on each hand):

Stay warm my friends!

Monday, December 7, 2009

World Bicyle Relief - Great Cause

The Jan-Feb 2010 issue of Road Magazine has a really great write-up on the World Bicycle Relief project (thanks again to my sister who provided me with my Road subscription as a Christmas present last year). Neil Shirley, a San Diego resident who rides for the Kelly Benefit Strategies Pro Team, wrote the article based upon his personal experience of visiting Zambia and being involved in the work of the charity.

What I really like about charities like World Bicycle Relief is that they provide people with a hand-up, enabling those who want to improve their lives with a means to do it. They've designed a $134 rugged bike that they can either give away, or in many cases sell through some creative financing, to folks who in turn can use the bike to grow their local economy. For example, now a farmer can transport more goods faster to market, thus increasing his productivity and cash flow. Kids can afford the time to ride to school, rather than having to stop going because the time required to walk 10 miles each way eats into time they need to work to support their family.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find a link to the Road Magazine content, but you can find more info on World Bicycle Relief here:
Kelly Benefits Zambia Experience
World Bicycle Relief

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Momentum is Building

I'm up to two weeks of solid riding. It doesn't sound like much, but it's actually been a big turn around from where things were. Especially when you consider that it's winter and all the week-day riding is happening in the mornings before work. I'm outta my 12am-ish bedtime habit and getting to bed at 9 or 10 and I'm getting up around 6am and hitting the streets.

I got in a nice three hour ride up the coast today. The weather was absolutely beautiful. Today was the sort of day that you don't want to miss if you're a photographer. Lots of dark clouds in a bright sky, plenty of wind to blow away any haze, and an abundance of colour.

I also happened to run into Joel Price along the way, which was nice. I haven't seen him in 6 months or so. He's looking plenty fit. This is the year that he needs to finally come out and race. If you run into him on the roads, make sure you bug him about it.

Next week will be the final big week of my first base phase. My fitness is really coming around. I'm easily keeping it aerobic up Torrey Pines, which is a pretty good measuring stick for me. I'm starting to feel a bit worn down, but nothing too serious, I just need to manage things closely and hold on for the ensuing recovery week.