Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Ride with the BCC

This year in an attempt to take my biking to the next level, I joined the Beaches Cycling Club.
(picture courtesy of DY BCC)
I thought it would be a great way to improve my biking skills, learn to ride in a large group and to meet other people interested in road biking. The Beaches Cycling Club has been around for about five years and started out with 5 members. Today it is quite large with membership well over a 100 riders and has an organized ride of some sort almost every day of the week. My vet I take my dogs to, James Young, is a member and has been trying to get me to join for the last couple of years. The deal maker for me was taking Spin classes at the gym this year. One of my spin instructors, Dan Y, is the founder of BCC and when he heard I knew James, I found myself out of excuses of why I couldn't join. So I joined.
For those of you who may be interested in joining, you can check them out here.
Since I'm new to the whole bike club and group riding thing, I thought it would be best if I started with the Saturday ride which is a more casual ride.
The ride consists of three distances, 45kms, 53 kms and 70+ for the more ambitious. On Saturdays they also offer training sessions on group riding, pace lines and general safety tips for those new to the whole group ride thing. Naturally I choose the ride with the training session.
Everyone meets up at the designated start point and then the riders set out in different groups based on distance.
What a great experience it was for my first club ride. It started off with a quick training session on bike control and pace riding in the community centre parking lot and then it was off on my first group ride of the season. We all rode together for the first 20kms working on our bike skills in traffic and then the group broke up into 2 groups, the faster more experienced guys and the newbies.
Up until the 27km mark I did OK keeping pace with the lead group and then we got to the long hill at the zoo and I was quickly dropped on the climb. At the top of the hill we waited for the second group to catch up and then we turned for home. I stayed with the break away group long enough to get separated from the rest of the pack, but at the 37 km mark as we came to the Morningside hill I was dropped from the main group for good. At this point we had gotten so far ahead of the main group that we missed the turn at Military Trail, and ended up going to Kingston road instead. I was on my own from that point on.
53 kms from start to finish. Not too bad for my first club ride.
(picture courtesy of DY BCC)
Some things I learnt. Riding in a big group is pretty cool, but it was way harder then I thought it would be. The style of riding required for this will take some getting used to. I'm not as fit as I thought I was. It was humbling, being dropped on the climbs, but also rewarding to make it to the top without blowing up.
But the best part is you can always do better on the next ride.
(picture courtesy of DY BCC)
To see the stats for my first ride, click here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Race Day: St. George to Ancaster

On Sunday my buddy Tony and I participated in our second St George to Ancaster 35 kms bike race, which is the half distance to the 65 km Paris to Ancaster race.
Up until 5 minutes before the race I was having a blast.
Then it started snowing and I started to get cold and the fun stopped.
Ten minutes into the race I couldn't feel my fingers anymore and I was wearing full fingered gloves. The wind was blowing, it was cold and the snow was falling encasing everything in a fine layer of ice. At this point the race became and exercise in pain and endurance and I am not a big fan of pain.
I think it was at this point that I started whining like a little girl.
Fitness wise, this race was not a problem, even with the strong winds. But I still couldn't keep up with Tony and I blame my bike for part of this. My bike is a tank, and it literally weighs as much, and my tires are almost twice the size of his. Excuses I've come up with after the fact, but the truth was Tony was just faster then me.
But my fat tires did play a big part in my ultimate downfall.
About 25kms into the race, we hit a mud patch about 1km long, where we had to dismount and push our bikes through. My tires kept getting bogged down with mud to the point where they would no longer roll. I tired to carry the tank, but with the added weight of the mud it was next to impossible. So I would have to stop every few metres and pull out the mud from around my tires to get moving again. It took forever to clear the mud field and by the time I had made it to solid pavement again both my bike and I were totally caked in mud.
I cleaned it off as best I could, and we set off again. No more then 10 pedal strokes after we started I heard a crack and my chain popped off. I looked down and thought, no problem, just pop it back on and away we go. But no such luck, all the mud had apparently put a tremendous amount of strain onto my rear de-railer and snapped it right off.
My race was done, 10kms from the finish line.
I told Tony to keep going and finish the race, which he did in a time of 2:54:00.
You would think a race like this would have a sweep-up crew to follow behind and pick up any stragglers or break downs, and maybe they did, but I never saw them.
I ended up walking a km or so out to a main road where I met another guy with a broken de-railer sitting in a cop car for warmth and a girl who had hurt her back pushing her bike through the mud field. She was waiting for her boy friend to come rescue her and when he arrived she offered to give me and the other guy a ride back to the finish line with our bikes and us covered in mud. Thanks to Eric and sweet girl who's name I forget. You saved my bacon and I appreciate it.
It was a tough race this year and I hated every minute of it. I was cold and wet and totally ill prepared for the weather conditions I faced. I whined like a little girl and may of cried like one too, but would I do this again next year?

You bet I would.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Now I Understand...

PT Works Some Last Minute Magic

The Thrill from West Hill pulls a 5-ride INDYCAR deal from out of his helmet.AUTO RACING - INDYCAR: Tracy To Lead Restructured Dragon Racing:
"Penske and Tracy are back together again in Indy car racing, just not in the original configuration. can report that Jay Penske, whose famous father plucked Paul Tracy out of Indy Lights and launched his CART career exactly 20 years ago, is keeping his INDYCAR team alive and signed the popular 42-year-old Canadian to a five-race deal"

Love him or hate him, Tracy will bring some sorely needed excitement to a series that desperately needs it. Here's hoping this can lead to a full season ride.

Red Bull in South Africa

Red Bull Racing was in Cape Town, South Africa, recently to promote F1 racing. To learn more about this program click here. Whats really cool about the whole thing was that they actually closed some roads and let the car go. Check out these awesome shots.

Progress Report

Hobbes was checked out by the vet last week and is well on the way to recovery. His cut on his back paw is healing nicely and he no longer needs to wear the radar dish. One more check up next week before he will be cleared to play ball again. Here's a funny shot of Hobbes in the waiting-room, mesmerized by the vet cat.The cat of course, couldn't care less.

Good-Bye Winter

Winter "officially" ends March 31st in the beach. That is the last day you can let your dogs run free along the beach. From April 1st to November 1st, the storm fencing is removed and the beach reverts back to people only. We don't mind though, because it means we are that much closer to summer and morning swims in the leash-free area.