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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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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November 21, 2012

Kitsbow Mountainbike Wear

Upon evaluation, the landscape for road bike clothing provides offerings for nearly every conceivable style, size and budget – From bargain-basement multicoloured neon discount kits, to the finery of brands like Rapha or Assos. Unfortunately a more refined offering has been long lacking for the road cyclist’s fat-tired brethren (at least to my knowledge)… Until now.

Described as “impeccable mountain bike wear for obsessives,” Kitsbow appears to be striving for the best fit and finish with little compromise. From tailoring to materials, every detail has been cared for… Or at least that’s what their marketing wants me to think ;-)

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November 7, 2012

Cycling vs. Driving

Most days I ride to work. I enjoy it. And while it’s true that I gently guide and help coworkers and friends who want to cycle more or commute, I’m by no means a ‘cycle-nazi’ – I still drive. Be it looming deadlines and late nights at the office, cross-city running around, or simple apathy, there are times I’ll trade two wheels for four.

Case in point – As my recent schedule became increasingly overwhelming I begrudgingly put the bike in the garage and grabbed the keys. However, rather than mindlessly meandering between locations I was keen to get something more out of my time behind the wheel – I decided to carefully monitor my mood, feelings and actions on my drive as well as my observations of others.

While perhaps not shocking, and definitely not scientific, here what I found:
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October 30, 2012

PUNCHEUR

Well, the fat lady has sung! Even though there are still a few more races left on the calendar, I’ve raced my last CX race of the 2012 season – work and life are playing the trump card. It was a really good run this year, though. I moved up the field, going from near the back of the pack Sport finishes in 2011, to some solid top 15 Sport finishes in 2012. I guess not having a new-born baby on hand clearly helped this year’s ‘racing campaign’.

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October 24, 2012

Tom Ritchey’s 40-Year Ride

A great snapshot looking back at the racing, frame building and innovations that Tom Ritchey has contributed over the last 40 years. Not to mention his pivotal contributions to the invention of mountain biking.

And besides… Any man with a moustache like that deserves to be taken seriously.

October 17, 2012

People Speed Don’t They?

Doping is wrong. Cheating is wrong, period. Let’s start with that, and all agree with that.

Here’s a totally made-up and theoretical conversation I did not just have recently:
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October 10, 2012

Grass Roots Racing

If you’re a serious racer, someone who wants to compete, diligently track your progress and continually improve, the casual nature of grass-roots racing might not be what you’re looking for, but I’d argue that’s kind of the point. For me, gross-roots races turn out to be some of the best races I go to all season, but there are lots of pros and cons to grass-roots racing, for sure. Starting with some of the cons:
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October 2, 2012

T’was a Dark Knight CX Race

For a long time, I’ve wondered what it would be like to go to one of the big USGP CX races down in Bend, Oregon, or even over in Europe – the epic courses, the big heckling crowds, the festival atmosphere with music, costumes, signs and beer! I want to experience that one day – it’s officially on my Bucket List.

So, what’s the next best thing if you’re living here in Alberta? Gotta be the Dark Knight!

Set up inside the bobsleigh/luge run up at COP in Calgary, this race has all the core aspects of a great event, not to mention a race. It’s located within the city, making it easy to get to, especially for those of us travelling there, staying in hotels, etc… There’s lots of parking right at the site, and room for big crowds of cowbell ringing spectators and you can crank the music without waking up the neighbours!

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September 26, 2012

EuroCross – The rider vs. The racer

The old adage “It’s like riding a bike” applies to many scenarios — riding an actual bicycle likely among them — unfortunately for me however, I don’t think it can be readily applied to racing your bike.

Racing is a delicate art of conservation, recovery, technique, timing and mental fortitude. Although these are all things your mind is intrinsically aware of, they are also things that an untrained body forgets. What was once instinct, now unfolds in front of you — you slowly realize what’s happening only to react much to late.

Somebody makes the jump, and suddenly the wheel you were sucking is gone. You desperately try to cover the gap but either you can’t, or you burn an ever-precious match that you were hoping to save for later. Building this innate ability to react is much akin to a sword you can only sharpen through use.

And though it was painfully evident that my ‘sword’ was dull and rusty, that didn’t stop me from having a blast at this past weekend’s Bicisport/Synergy EuroCross Weekend.

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