Wanna go for a ride?
No its too cold.
A common response to seeing if someone wants to go for a late winter or early spring ride. And hey everyone has their comfort zone and I'm not here to judge that, but the saying there is no bad weather just bad clothing rings true here.
It also surprises me sometimes that people will spend over $5000 on a bike but not a few hundred dollars more on clothing to enjoy that bike more throughout the year. When you can nail your clothing a 5 degree sunny late October or early November day is Beautiful. Spring and Fall are almost my favourite times to ride as there is next to no traffic. I avoid places like Wasaga beach and certain roads in the summer like the plague but in the “off season” its great to visit those places.
First thing to realize about the gear you wear when its +30, is that its designed by brilliant engineers to keep you cool. Helmets, jerseys, shoes etc. So we need to modify or change stuff out when the mercury drops.
Starting from the bottom up at below zero you NEED either winter cycling shoes, or insulated windstopper booties. 0-10 You can switch to lighter windstopper or wool overshoes, 10-15 a lightweight shoecover should do you. And thin wool socks are also a great addition below 10 degrees.
Moving up the money makers you gotta keep those joints warm, talking ankles, knees, and hips. So again below zero, ditch the leg warmers and get a pair of insulated tights. Drop your saddle a mm or two as you'll wear them over your shorts. 0-5 Insulated, fleece lined leg warmers and maybe some embrocation. 5-10 lighter leg warmers, 10-15 I like to let my shins breath a bit and switch to a knee warmer.
PARENTS of young riders: The most common people I see under dressing are the youngest people in our sport. Watch the elite riders warming up for an event, even at 20 degrees you'll see them wearing vests, long sleeve jerseys, if its cloudy and windy knee warmers.
Torso: Two best items you can get are a good windstopper jacket and a vest. Underneath that experiment with wool undershirts, long sleeve jerseys. As it warms up you can ditch the windstopper and just wear the long sleeve jersey and vest, then jersey, arm warmers, vest, then jersey arms etc etc.
Head, below zero and Id almost say 3 degrees, a cycling cap with ear protection, and a buff around your neck that you can pull up over your nose and cheeks as you hit the head winds. Also dermatone is a great product for sun and wind protection. Helmet covers like what Lazer has for their helmets are also great. As it warms up a cap is always a great thing to start a ride with, and they are easy to take off.
Gloves: Build an arsenal of gloves, From insulated lobster mitts for winter, insulated windstopper full finger for 0-5 degrees. Windstopper full finger, even lighter full finger, all the way up to road gloves. I have about 6 different glove types I wear depending on weather.
Start a clothing diary, before and after each ride, log what you wear and the weather. And how it went, did your feet get cold, did your hands get cold? Did you eyeballs freeze? After a while it will become second nature but you need to experiment a little bit.
Build that arsenal of clothing and you'll never regret it. We live in the great white north but even with the harshest winters lately,(global warming??) The roads are still clear enough to ride 8-9 months out of the year. That's where I hit my limit its usually not weather but when the roads ice over and cars are sliding into ditches every couple hundred meters.
If you simply don't enjoy riding when its cold out that's A- OK no judgement here, just sayin its possible to be comfortable with some smart gear choices
Next blog- How to build the ultimate kick ass winter riding machine. You know your doing it right when it looks like something out of Mad Max.
What “success” means is open to one’s own interpretation, but hopefully it means you will love to ride your bike for the rest of your life. We gotta set one thing straight right off the bat, bike racing is HARD and becoming a professional bike racer is even HARDER. I've heard bike racing compared to slamming your hand in a car door for “x” amount of time. And as Greg Lemond said, “it never gets any easier you just get faster”.(hopefully)
When it comes to being a professional bike racer (on the MTB side in Canada and at any point in time), there have been more people walk on the moon than spots on teams that will allow you to race and have something in your pocket when you finish the season. Being a professional rider means way more than just riding and racing your bike and could be whole other blog post but in short you are a salesman/woman.
Not sure why but there is just something I love about the Sudbury race weekend. Its really nice to get up to race in some of that terrain again that feels a little like the glory days of Elliot lake and Calabogie but with a bonus of having lots of accommodation options.
They changed up the course a fair bit this year, it used to feature one big climb and one big decent this year it was a little more broken up, they also filled in a couple rough spots and smoothed it out a bit. But its still a very rough course.
Weather was threatening all day for the race but the rain held off for a fast race. Had a good start for once just missed the traditional Sudbury start crash. I was in a fine position heading into the climbing but the legs just didn't back that up and I fell back a few spots. Mainly to my teammates Guthrie and McNeely so it wasn't all bad.
Ended up in a bit of no mans land between two groups as we hit the long flatish start straight. Just rode a high “tempo” and didn't fight the inevitble catch from an aggressive group behind. The pace eased a bit after and the group in front was still in sight so I went out again to try and bridge up to Guthrie and Mitch. The legs were coming around and I felt a little more confident riding on my own. Traffic was playing a bit of a factor and timing was key. But can sometimes come out in a wash.
On the 5th lap called a “on your right” and sure enough the rider veered to the right and put us both into a pile of sharp rocks. And ppsssssssttttttt right away I knew Havy wasn't gonna be stoked with that.
I didn't loose too much time riding and the wheel change was quick but its tough to make it back. Did a little battling with Antoine he was crushing the DH's but i was able to edge out a lead on the final climb to hold onto 10th.
3 for 3 for something at this race but again with some awesome teammates and support from Paige I had nothing to be upset about.
Its nice to be healthy again, racing somewhat consistently and the knee hasn't felt this good in years. Its weird but without last years tangle at Sudbury and Nationals to really knock it out maybe I wouldn't have got on a path to figuring out what it was that has been causing the problem for so many years.
We'll its been a peach, the past few weeks has been great thanks to a long break in the calender. That all wrapped up today with a nice group ride over to Creemore to the coffee shop which I have little doubt cyclists help keep in business.
Paige pipped us on her home town sign, I'm very disappointed in myself for not seeing that one coming. We rolled in after her with our heads low. The coffee was great I had an Americano in Gainers honour as he had to call for a pickup outside Angus after rolling over some tornado debris. #topgearrules
Of course the biggest climb of the day is right after the coffee shop, up fairgrounds road not sure if T Glass still has that segment but it wasn't in any danger today as we stopped for pics and I took the opportunity to photo bomb not one but two selfies. Your welcome guys for you making your pics awesome.
We finished the ride with a strong tailwind back through Phelpston and into the big C. But not before a wee bit of a close call on flos 4, genius driving a black 4 door decided it was a wise decision to pass on a blind downhill corner? Would have been fine if a 2 door coupe wasn't coming up said blind hill. Some screeching tires and “oh shit oh shit” later and somehow everyone rode/drove away intact. You win sedan its your road from shoulder to shoulder we'll just get out of your way.
A great couple weeks of riding, BBQ's, friends and a few beers
On deck for the week is bringing down the mileage a bit to get ready for the next few weeks of racing.
Sudbury Canada Cup July 13th
National Championships Eliminator July 17th – XCO July 19th – Team Relay July 20th
Ontario Road Provincials July 26th
And a river runs down it
The weather held up its end of the bargain this past weekend here in Tremblant, they had been calling for some rain for a while and it came down nice and steady for about 24 hours. Pre-riding was a little moist but small blocks seemed to still be a good tire for the course.
Fast forward to the morning of the race and one look at the bikes and overhearing the stories from the the earlier races it seemed obvious a tire change was in order. A new addition for the race this year was some new routing in the village as well. With the start located at the bottom near the cabriolet and some new roll overs and a stair set to spice up the village section for spectators and racers. Tremblant is a rarity in that the race is brought to the general public and is highly spectator friendly with the sections through town.
Start was what was to be expected on paved windy course, lots of pinching, shifting and locked wheels but i think most people made it through. Had to get off a couple times and hoof it before joining the course at the old start and got into a chase group that was trailing off by about 50 feet going up the long gravel access road to the first single track.
With a gap to the group in front it didn't bottleneck as bad actually but we soon got our first look at the “course” which had a few little streams and rivers running down some sections. Which created a couple hike a bike sections/try not to step in a deep puddle.
I was feeling good but not great and closing down gaps was a challenge but I was able to pick off a few racers and also try to ride smooth and keep it upright on the big decent. I had young Disera in my sights and was thinking if we could get together we could shake and bake pretty good. But he had other plans and on lap 3 decided it was time to crank it to 11. And he says its my fault we never ride together back home.
Squeezed into the top 15 for a UCI point or two and a couple bucks, tough race but a clean race. Baie st Paul is another good course next weekend so we'll see what I can manage to do there.
Well there's nothing quite like a good kick in the teeth like Sea Otter to jump start the race season. I've done this race after a couple races and like this year a first race of the season. Both are hard but oh boy the legs like to be warmed up first.
Smooth travel down and got reunited with the Norco Factory team in Monterey. Been a while since most of the team had been together so it was nice to get right into the team bonding rituals like trying to outdo everyone else's meals and outlining our many first world problems.
I was also happy to just be riding a MTB outside on trail even if the race course consisted of paved road descents and singletrack climbs. It was still nice to get aboard the new revolver, the biggest change this year has been the full parts swap out to Sram XX1. Not to shabby I love single rings and riding a groupo designed to be run as one is a nice treat.
Day 1 of racing was the short track, an even better way to start the season. Got an good callup to be 2nd row for the start which is always nice. Guthrie got into the lead group off the start so i hung back in the 2nd chase group (thats my story) it was good I rode smart and clean. And ended up in a sprint with MA Nadon. Probably my best sea otter short track to date so ill take it.
Off the race course Sea Otter is its own trade show with all the big companies coming out to unveil their latest and greatest bikes, gear, gizmos etc. 2014 also marks Norco's 50 year anniversary which they celebrated with a display of bikes over the years. My personal fave is the 3 speed cruiser with the shifter on the top tube.
Always a pleasure to spend time in the Norco pit with some of our Gravity brothers and sisters. Learning we aren't that different afterall.
Day 2 of racing was back to the old school 2 lap XC, though on a shorter course than "back in the day" either way the 2+ hours caused quiet a stir and riders organizing picket lines and sit ins on the start line.
Actually this turned out to be a blessing for me as the start did not go as to planned and before we hit the third turn on the race track i found myself with my rear wheel locked alongside 3 other guys doing the same thing not sure how but none of us went down but this shot us right to the back of the 70+ field of riders before exiting the race track onto the course. I put down some hard efforts but barely managed to get back into the low 60's before the first singletrack climb where naturally everyone decided that climbs aren't a place to go hard or race but to relax and cruise till the next open paved descent.
Eventually we hit the open climbs at the end of the lap and I was able to start picking of groups of riders. By the end I managed to gather in a few numbers but finished up wishing for more time.
Sunday was a day off for us XC'ers but the Dher's had a go of their course while we had a little fun. I finally after 6 years a factory Teamates got to meet a legend Ryan Leech. Not sure if i was more impressed with is skills on the bike or the super dialed custom show pieces that all fit into a 8x10 trailer.
A composite Nortrekluna team got challenged to a game of hockey, they had some skills but i have a feeling our Dh'ers hit harder. We'll say it was a draw.
Weekend was capped off with a sand bag highland games, not gonna lie i felt like a bit of a target but thanks to my cat like reflexes i avoided any direct hits.
Heading back to the great white north, heard there was some snow or something?? naaaaa im sure people are just joshing me.
There is no doubt my annual trip to South Carolina is mainly to escape the doldrums of March, but this year it was especially pleasant to escape the never-ending polar vortex of 2014. Once again we loaded up at 4:30 AM to head down to a little nook in the South Carolina mountains for 9 days of riding with Ontario's finest young cyclists.
This years camp would have the youngest group down by far, but as we have seen these younger riders are being schooled and have some great support structures that foster them quicker than in the past. The idea of a 14 year going to SC for a training camp 10 years ago was a laughable notion now its accepted and a great tool for exposure to older riders and coaches alike.
It was also my first time taking a Norco Tactic down into the hills of the area, there is probably no better place to push a road bike to its limits and see what it has than in the twisty climbs and descents in the area.
The first four days of the camp were better than expected with beautiful sunny days and high temps. Our weather reports from back home reinforced how lucky we were to be down there.
After a rainy rest day we had clear blue bird days but the temps were a little lower. Still a beautiful way to finish off the camp.
The Tactic Di2 didn't disappoint the feature i noticed most was the confidence inspiring front end stiffness. There was never a doubt it was going to hold a line when needed.
Back onto the trainer for a bit, in preparation for Sea Otter in a few weeks. Hopefully we'll get a few trail days before heading down.
Well its winter and as an old training partner once said you win races in the winter. So I thought my first Coaches Corner post should be about the importance of endurance training for peak performance when it comes time to put the hammer down in July.
Aerobic endurance is extremely important to any athlete wanting to have consistent performances week in and week out throughout their season. Without that solid base the highs and lows of fitness and race results can be greatly exaggerated. Yes you can get away with that one awesome race without much attention to your base, but what happens when you need that 2nd or 3rd great performance in a season.
A strong endurance base takes years and years to develop its the one area of training that should always be present. And its the easiest area of an athletes training to overlook or even skip. The reason its easy to skip is well cause its easy. Some athletes think if they aren't breathing hard or sweating up a storm they aren't training. The old saying 'no pain no gain” really strikes true with some people. And trust me there is a time that all cyclists and athletes will feel some pain. But the truth is if your “endurance” miles are hard or your sore after you probably are hitting all kinds of different zones and using a lot more than just your aerobic system to train.
Back to winter how the heck do we go out and do LSD miles, as they are often called, when there's six inches of snow on the ground? Option A) sit on your trainer/rollers for hours on end or B) X-train, get out on the snowshoes, xc skis, run, row anything that gets your heart and your lungs working at a steady consistent aerobic pace. My old coach put it best, your heart and lungs don't know what your legs and arms are doing.
There is a muscular component to endurance training, but as long as your on the trainer a couple times a week, its totally OK to keep the brain fresh and get most of your endurance hours down outside any way you can.
There are ways to test your aerobic base, these tests are great to use before beginning to add a lot of intensity into your training program. Remember without that solid base for your intensity to sit on then your intensity may work, or may work for a short peak but it may not be sustainable throughout a full season.
Three keys to a big base,
1 - Lots of miles/hours in YOUR proper endurance zone
2- Mix it up with X-training AKA the original cross fit
3- Test your aerobic endurance system before adding too much intensity to ensure your ready for it