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Spy vs. Spy
October 30, 2013

Dark Knight Throwdown!

Bikeridr is self-described as ‘the adventures, rants and ramblings of Ken & Sheldon, two guys who like to ride bikes.’ Truth be told though, we also really like to race bikes. Sadly we just don’t get to do this that often, especially not against each other. Being that as it may, we did manage to line up in Calgary at the 2013 Dark Knight for one all out, no holds barred, battle of the bleedin’ ages!

The Pre-Race: A lot was at stake this year. Not only was this the only chance we had to race against each other, but back at the 2012 Dark Knight we’d had a close one, resulting in Ken taking the win coming in 9th, while I rolled across the line just 2 positions back, in 11th. In reality, although we were close in standings, there wasn’t any true ‘battling’ going on. The whistle went. Ken surged off the line, and although I kept it close, he held his lead right to the end that year. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow, but he’d won handily, and all I could do was put it behind me and look to 2013, which was what I did… This year, waiting for the whistle, staged right on the front row, I was absolutely determined to beat Ken – or blow up tryin’! Some key factors were stacked in my favour. Firstly, I had been riding a bit more this year so my base fitness was better, plus I already had 5-6 2013 season CX races under my belt and felt like I was on form. Ken on the other hand, although he’d been getting his miles, only had 2 races in at that point, so I didn’t expect him to have much ‘punch’ and I assumed he’d be rusty in the turns. Secondly, I was on the much lighter bike. My bike comes in at a svelte 16lbs, while Ken’s is more like a boat anchor weighing about 21lbs. Hard to say exactly how much this impacts things, but it certainly does make a difference and I wasn’t about to ask him to trade whips for funzies.

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September 10, 2013

Cycling Stay-cation

Though the drama of the cobbles gets us through our wet and chilly springs and the pain and excitement of cyclocross carries us into winter, as cyclists we almost all yearn for the drama of June and July. But as the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta come to a close we’re often left with a certain feeling of emptiness.

How to fill this void? That’s the easy part – You ride.

Unfortunately, after the grandeur of the Alpes and the majesty of the Pyrenees oftentimes your regular routes may lose some of their lustre – The challenge then becomes where to ride…

But the search for endless climbs, smooth, gently sweeping tarmac and awe-inspiring vistas need not take you overseas, but rather into our backyard… The Alberta Rockies. - Read More -

Fat Tire Tuesday
May 30, 2013

Fat Tire Tuesdays

Bike racing can be a daunting world to get into. I should know. It wasn’t that many years ago that I finally warmed up to the idea, after breaking into the local MTB scene through Pedalhead group rides. As I met more and more people who rode, and found out that some of them actually raced, I realized that I might be able to do it as well. For me though, my first race was a full-on ABA event. I can’t say I was scared, but I’ll admit that I was definitely very nervous going in, so nervous in fact that I remember I almost pulled the chute! So, if you’re like I was, a rider, interested in racing but still standing on the edge of the pool scared to dive in, what do you do?

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Looking Back
May 22, 2013

Advanced Survival Tactics – The Safety Swerve

As part of a yearly tradition celebrating our births, Sheldon and I often exchange gifts. The past number of years, said gifts have been almost exclusively coffee, alcohol or cycling related – This isn’t something I really see changing – After all, what else does you really need?

Most recently, I received a book called “Just Ride” by Grant Petersen. The book is a collection of 89 ‘micro-essays’ on cycling – Easy to pick up, easy to read and each piece, a nice bite-sized thought on a particular aspect of riding. There are ideas that I can fully get behind, some that make me think, and some that I disagree with, but generally the book has been a fun read.

Though I haven’t finished, there was one nugget of brilliance that resonated so strongly with me I decided to field-test it and report back to you. The advice that caught my attention was what he called the “The Safety Swerve.”

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Earbuds Running
April 30, 2013

Dear Runner – Pay Attention!

Sunlight. Clouds. Wind. Flora. Fauna.

All lost on you.

You don’t notice any of it… You don’t appreciate it a lick.

Instead, your head is down, oblivious to everything, gearing up for your power song – Survivor, by Destiny’s Child.

Now, I get it. I really do. Despite my preference for two wheels, I still run. I understand and appreciate that zone of focus, concentration and oblivion. I too find that slipping in some earbuds and having the beat drop helps turn my feet over and keep me moving. The problem is that this isn’t a race and you’re not alone. So open your goddamned eyes and ears and pay attention.

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Redbull Hill Chasers
April 3, 2013

King of the Hill

A couple of years ago, I took part in a sort of ‘cycling scavenger hunt’ across Calgary. It was fun day, with lots of hard, fast riding through the city from location to location. One of the stages was a King of the hill Challenge – a race up the road to the top of C.O.P. Somehow I won this. Likely due to some timing error, but, hey… it was a fun – pain and suffering filled fun.

After that event, I filed the concept in the back of my mind for future reference. There is an entire discipline of cycling dedicated to downhill and yes, there is more than a fair share of climbing in road and XC MTB racing, but why not have a hill climbing event? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some else already thought of this…

Enter the Redbull Hill Chasers!

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Death of MTB
March 6, 2013

Death of XC MTB Racing

With racer registration numbers struggling, and races seemingly dropping off the ABA XC MTB calander, are we seeing the slow death of the traditional 90 min XC MTB race here in Alberta?

When I first started racing, there was only one kind I wanted to do – cross country mountain bike. The problem was, I wasn’t really in good enough shape to do it. I was your typical ‘weekend warrior’, spending a couple hours per week bombing around on the single-track trails with my pals. After a while, we got bold and signed up for a few bike shop-led group rides. In that context I thought I was pretty good, and with some encouragement decided to go out for an actual race, only to have my ego shattered! The 90 mins of max effort riding required in a typical ABA MTB XC race was so far beyond me, I was shocked. I finished the race, but it damn near killed me. Afterwards, I thought long and hard about if I wanted to do another one…

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Smoking
January 30, 2013

The Beard

At Christmas, Ken showed up at my place with a truly horrendous beard. Naturally, I thought it was awesome, and figured I should grow an even worse one.

4 weeks later, I sent Ken a text message to find out the state of his beard, and discovered that he didn’t enjoy looking like a lunatic who’d wondered off from the nearby hospital, so he’d buckled and trimmed it. This however confirmed to me, that with some willpower, I stood chance at beating him. When I let him know my plan, he scoffed – called me a ‘copy-cat’, among other things and demanded an immediate photo. So, fueled by his displeasure, obviously I forged on. At first I was just going to take the photo right away, but being aware of the photo of him sporting his ridiculous beard and that even more ridiculous fur hat, which he posted on Facebook, I knew I needed to ponder my photo carefully – it needed to be epic.

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Fait du Ski
December 28, 2012

Winter Training: XC Skiing

Before I had kids, I got out for winter rides pretty regularly. In particular, there were two years in a row when I got out there a lot. I had a good mtb bike for it, outfitted with fat, knobby tires, and tons of warm riding gear to keep the chill out. That said, I don’t want to make myself sound like I was set to run the Iditarod, cause I’d really only go out if it was -15 or warmer.

In general, I enjoyed it. I’d connect with other winter riders – we’d hop on the snowy trailers for 2 hours or so and then converge back on DaCapo for coffee and pizza. In many ways I miss it. But now, with less free time on my hands I just don’t get out there anymore. I’ve deferred back to the indoor trainer in the basement. Such is life. The pain cave in the basement isn’t so bad though, as long as you set yourself up properly with a fan, a TV, and a good menu of training videos and movies to watch or music to listen to. The other key I’ve found is to keep the sessions short. No more 2-3 hour spins in on the stationary bike for me – just honest, hard, short efforts for no longer than an hour. I’ll even jump on for as little as 30 mins, if I feel up to really hammering. It hurts like hell, but it’s the kind of hurt we cyclist crave.

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Bike Shop
November 28, 2012

Bike Shop Community

Edmonton is pretty fortunate to have the bike community we do. After all, we live in the midst of the Canadian prairies, where we’re blasted by winter-like conditions nearly 9 months of the year. Even after living here most of my life, I’m still surprised by the number of independent bike shops we have – and somehow they all find a way to co-exist in the face of competition with each other and with big retail. You might not think Canadian Tire, or Walmart bikes are direct competition to a small local bike shop, but they definitely are, especially in the ‘bikes for kids and families’ category, which is a huge percentage of annual bike sales across the country. So with all that in mind, I have to wonder, how do so many independent Edmonton bike shops manage to co-exist in a small city of just over a million people?

Other than observing the basic business savvy-ness needed to operate a business on thin margins, with a need to carry big inventory, in an industry with extreme seasonal highs and lows, there are a few other key things I think bike shops need to do:

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