Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Training Statistics!

Steve's blog is full of impressive facts and figures about his training. I'm nowhere near as meticulous, it turns out, but I did note my odometer readings at the beginning of the year.

So far, since January 1, 2010, I've put 1,874 km on my old mountain bike, and since I got my road bike in early May, I've put 586 km on it, for a total of 2460 km. That means I've been doing an average of nearly 500 km per month, which includes rainy old January, sunny February, so-so March, wedding-month April and honeymoon-at-the-start-drowning-in-rain-for-the-rest May.

My longest ride to date was about a week ago, when I did 135 km. Most of the ride was on the table-flat alluvial plains of Richmond and Delta, and I still felt like I was going to die by the end of the ride. The following day I was in no condition to get back on my bike.

We don't have much time to train. We've only got about a week and a half to really ride, because we're planning to avoid long rides for the last week before the ride to Seattle.

I am going to make it to Seattle for sure. I've decided that's the case. I just might not feel that awesome when I get there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Bike!

I haven't been posting much and unfortunately, that's a pretty accurate reflection of my training routine lately. Erin and I went on our honeymoon, which was a nice, long visit to New York City. It was amazing, but there wasn't a lot of training happening there. We did rent bikes there one day, but the other ten days involved no cycling. They involved a lot of walking, and even more drinking beer, going to jazz shows, and eating American food. It's the only nation in the world that thinks that a sandwich with an inch of meat in it is a normal lunch, not a novelty.

On the bright side, I got a new bike! She's so beautiful! I can't wait for you to see her. Unfortunately, I still haven't taken a proper picture of her, but I will.

The story of my new bike goes all the way back to February, when I ordered her. Labour shortages at Chinese frame factories were blamed. Several other things happened. In the end, I waited three months and got her in early May. The whole time I was like a kid waiting for Christmas, except that I kept receiving false information and I always thought that Christmas was somewhere between a week and a month away. You can imagine my agony. And then I get the bike and it rains, and I ride her in the rain, and then I have to go on a stupid honeymoon with my stupid new wife.

But now I'm back! And the sun shone for a few hours yesterday and a few more today and I now know I've met the second true love of my life. It's a shame that Erin had me for so few days before I became a bigamist, but sometimes that just how the cookie crumbles.

How do I describe my new bike? She's magical. Riding her is like riding no bike at all, she's so light and the road friction from her skinny tires is so low.

She's a beautiful road bike, with a steel frame, awesome Shimano STI shifters, derailleurs like swiss watches, and a beautiful, welcoming leather saddle. Riding downhill is like flying two feet above the ground. Riding uphill makes me feel like I've got a rocket tied to my ass. Plus, she's beautiful.

She's really wonderful. She's enough to make God himself jealous.

Part of my new hill climbing ability comes from my clip-in pedals. I've got special shoes that clip into my pedals, so I can pull up on my pedals as well as push down. I've never had these things before. I've got more torque on my pedals than I ever imagined possible.

The trick is, you've got to remember to unclip your feet from your pedals when you stop.

Tracy, the nice lady who built my bike, told me that everyone falls over once when they're getting used to their pedals. I chose to believe her, and yesterday I was nearing the end of my first longish (75km) ride on my bike and I started to wonder if I'd dodged the bullet. I had 140km on my odometer and I hadn't fallen over with my feet clipped to my pedals.

Then I reached an intersection and slowed down to look for cars. I started to go and noticed a car at the last minute and slammed on my breaks, and sure enough, I tipped over and fell on the street.

That's not the worst of it. While I was falling, the horn of my saddle banged into my back and snagged the waist of my cycling tights, breaking the drawstring and pulling them halfway down my ass.

So I hit the street, hard enough to hurt, but not hard enough to damage anything, and I lay there with half of my ass sticking out of my pants and both of my feet still clipped to my pedals. It was pretty embarrassing.

Then two people across the street who'd seen me fall yelled and asked if I was alright. Then it got really embarrassing.

So I yelled back, "yeah, I'm okay. I just have new pedals."

Erin got new pedals for her old bike, too. To make a long story short, halfway through our ride today she told me that she wasn't going to have her one requisite fall. Then exactly 9 blocks away from where I fell, on the very same bike route, Erin was about to cross the street and we saw a car and Erin unclipped her right foot. Unfortunately for her, she fell to the left.

She's got an awesome bruise on her ass now. Nothing else was hurt, except maybe her pride a bit.

So we've both fallen once. I'm now practicing emergency unclipping procedures.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Last weekend, Erin and I got married, which turned out to be great for fundraising. Man, can you make people donate when you ask for it as a wedding present.

Between the stag and the wedding and all the preparations, neither Erin nor I have done much in the way of riding lately, but yesterday I had a nice, long ride. I rode my bike 95 km and I ended up back home with Erin. I guess I still like her.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steve's Blog

Our good friend, neighbour and teammate Steve Holmes has finally got his own blog online.

It turns out that Steve has a lot more to say about cancer than I do.

You should check out Steve's blog:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Photo of Victory!

I found a photo online of Erin and I riding during the Pacific Populaire.

I must admit, it ain't much. It's blurry, and Erin is mostly obscured. For what it's worth, here it is, republished without the permission of the photographer.

I'm the guy in the red jacket with the awesome white sneakers. Erin is the guy in purple, peeking out from behind the yellow helmet to the right of me.

Still, pretty cool riding in a big pack of bikes like that, right?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Erin and I finished the race! We won!

Of course we didn't beat the other cyclists. We came in 189th place. But we won the race against our not finishing the race.

Our official time was 4 hours, 54 minutes. Before the race, my stated goals were:

1. Finish the race
2. Don't come in last
3. It'd be nice to do it in less than 5 hours

So we were three for three! We won!

I should really stop calling it a race. The Pacific Populaire isn't a race. There's no prize for being first and most people are just out to have a good time. But still, they do keep track of your time, so it's pretty hard not to race.

And even though we were pretty much racing, Erin and I finished in a four-way tie for 189th place in a field of 275 riders who did the 100k ride. We are in no way ashamed of that fact. You should have seen some of the other riders' legs! And their awesome gear!

I'll admit that when it comes to bikes, I am a covetous person. I wanted to steal almost every bike I saw. Including the people who rode the 25km and 50km distances, there were 369 cyclists there at the starting line. There was well over half a million dollars worth of bikes present, and about 90% of them were better than mine.

The ride was super fun, particularly the beginning. It's an amazing feeling to be in a pack of 275 riders clogging a street together. It wasn't long before the pack stretched out and finally dispersed as all the people who looked like they had grapefruits stuffed under their skin of their calves, riding carbon fibre bikes worth more than my truck went whizzing past us and vanished into the distance, never to be seen by us again.

The fastest time this year was 3:07, which is an average speed of 32.7 km/h for 102 consecutive kilometers, in spite of the ferocious headwinds we faced all the way across Richmond. That's plain crazy. By the time we finished, that guy had collected his finisher's pin, gone home, had a shower and a snack, taken a short nap, and read the first two-thirds of the Sunday edition of the Vancouver Sun.

Whatever. Erin and I are proud of ourselves. We were strong. We made it the whole way without bursting into tears once. We established a pace and kept up with the other riders who were going as slow as we were. What else can you ask from us?

And on the other hand, the slowest time was 6 hours 41 minutes -- by the time that guy finished, Erin and I had collected our finisher's pins, devoured half of the oranges the organizers had laid out, gone home, whimpered pathetically while unloading the bikes, devoured an entire loaf of bread, devoured all of the leftover lasagna, drank water until the pressure in our taps had noticeably diminished, moaned pathetically while climbing the stairs, half-heartedly bathed ourselves, and then collapsed on the couch, unable to muster the energy to turn the pages of the books we were pretending to read.

This is a huge step in our training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in June, obviously. On that ride, we'll have to do two consecutive days of about 130 km each. Here it is, the beginning of April, and Erin and I are already capable of doing 100 km. What's more, in June nobody will be timing us, so we'll be able to take all day to do the ride if we feel like it.

Our early success can only mean one thing: it's time to get complacent. It's time to rest on our laurels. We're so good at cycling that we can happily dedicate the next two months to sitting on our duffs and eating chips.

Or perhaps not.

For proof that Erin and I finished the race, check out the standings here:

And for photos of what this crazy thing looked like, check out the galleries here:

There is precious little Ben-related content in any of the photos, but on the far right-hand side of the 10th photo on the first gallery, you can make out a partially-obscured Erin in her purple fleece.

Lessons I learned from the Pacific Populaire:
1. Carbo-loading and a couple of days of laziness before a ride really work. I felt great -- better than I can remember ever feeling during a ride, actually.
2. My ass-to-seat interface will continue to be my weakest point, but with the help of padded shorts and obscenity-laden prayers offered to the unhearing, unfeeling universe, I will make it to Seattle.
3. Drafting can be a huge help, particularly if you're riding into a headwind. Drafting behind a large pack of cyclists helps even more than drafting behind one person.
4. Guys with grapefruit-like bulges in their calves and awesome bikes with skinny tires go much faster than dumpling-shaped men with potato-sack-like bulges around their middles, riding converted mountain bikes with wind-catching fenders and 1.5-inch wide tires.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Carbo loading

Erin and I are doing the Pacific Populaire on Sunday, which is a 100 km race that we have no intention of winning.

It turns out the funnest part of cycling is carbo-loading. The weather has been terrible lately, and I haven't even touched my bike in a couple of days. We've basically just been sitting indoors and eating, which my sketchy research of internet resources indicates might not actually be a bad idea. Other people call it overeating, but we call it carbo-loading.

It's odd how the intention to do a sport in the future can turn a fat man into an athlete.

Contrary to all logic and reason, I do believe we will actually finish the race. Erin's neck may be a concern, and there's always the chance of some random new debilitating pain cropping up in me, but we've got the legs and lungs to do it, and with our modest ambition to place in the top 80% of a pack that includes septuagenarians and sufferers of chronic inner ear infections, we have the time to work through it.

(To be clear, I fully expect to be beaten by the majority of the septuagenarians in the pack -- but not all of them.)