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?
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.”
I’ve only got two races in the bag so far this year. The first was the Blizzard winter race and the second was a spring series road race. All in, I’d say I felt pretty happy with my performance in both, taking the bottom step of the podium in the Blizzard race, and managing to run with some of the big dogs for ‘most’ of the road race last weekend, before getting shot out the back of the lead group on the 4th lap. What was really interesting about this race to me though, was my power data and being able to see the sequential drops in power, lap by lap…
When I popped, my power literally dropped off a cliff on lap 4/5 – it was pretty astounding… I went from an average power of 229watts on lap 3, to an average of 196w on lap 4. Then it dropped off another cliff on lap 5, practically flat-lining like a patient suffering cardiac arrest at 172w… I was cooked! And it didn’t matter how hard I pushed, or how big of a suffer-face I made because I was done and done.
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.
It’s hard to believe that after originally launching in 2011, the Levi’s Commuter Jean has been around for almost three years.
Having lovingly clad hipsters in cycle-worthy denim for years now, it’s safe to say the Levi’s Commuter Jean has come into it’s own. There aren’t many brands that can drive mainstream adoption of a niche market like this, but Levi’s has proven to be one of them. Perhaps the ‘hipster-esque’ culture was seeking skinny jeans with function, or perhaps existing riders were looking for viable alternatives to cladding themselves in lycra. Regardless, it appears that the Levi’s Commuter Jean is here to stay.
Being recently in the market for some form fitting denim to properly hug my curves, I sought out a freshly cut pair for myself. After a few weeks of field testing, I’ve concluded that generally, I’m impressed — though room for improvement exists.
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!
In the sad wake of my home bike shop and team closing down, last year I raced as an ‘independent’ for the entire season. Overall it was fine for the time being, as I didn’t want to rush my decision to join with this team or that team right away… I just wanted to take the season and race on my own and ponder what was most important to me about riding, and racing.
For me, racing as an independent was pretty painless, due to the relationships I had built over the years here locally. I could usually find a group ride to join in on, or a deal on parts & service somewhere. I also had no obligations to take all my business to one bike shop (I could spread the love a bit), or feel the need to get involved with organizing club events and activities. It was essentially a situation where I could just ride and race for me. This provided valuable flexibility and freedom that I enjoyed, especially given my busier home and work life last year. But the obvious downside was not ‘really’ belonging to any one group – always feeling a little bit disconnected. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to this, but as the season went on I started to take stock and realize I was missing out on one of the most important aspects of riding and racing – feeling like you’re part of the community and helping to sustain and grow it, essentially the very reason Bikeridr exists in the first place.
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…
Is the Fatbike revolution here? I’ve been hearing the term for a few seasons now and I remember seeing one for the first time back in 2010. In a word, although I thought they were interesting with their giant clown-like tires, I also thought they were ‘ridiculous’. I wondered why anyone would want to ride a bike so cumbersome and heavy? Through my ‘racing’ lens, the bikes made about as much sense to me as a unicycle or a Penny Farthing – sure they might be unique and fun to mess around on, but really, what’s the point beyond that? I was perfectly happy to leave what I considered the Fatbike fad, to others. - Read More -
Like many cyclists, I own a car. Truth be told, I own two.
Despite the fact that it’s rarely driven and sits mostly idle in my driveway there are times when the convenience of a car is tough to ignore – especially if your car is paid off, cheap on gas, and the insurance costs aren’t crippling (as mine is).
With that said, I still have trouble justifying the cost of gas, parking and the time spent sitting in traffic just to have a car available whenever I’d like, especially when I generally have more attractive means of transportation at my disposal. But there sure are times a car would be nice to have around…