Bikeman: The unexpected virtues of cycling

16 02 2015

Cycling comes with surprises.

A new discovery on a familiar route.

A lousy weather forecast that turns into sunshine.

A sunny day that turns into a cloud burst.

New vigour from leaden legs. Or vigorous legs that turn leaden.

Strava trophies.

Friday’s ride surprised in many ways. With a busy schedule of things to do and places to go, the ride itself was a surprise, made possible by an unexpected bonus morning of daycare for Little Ring.

The ride started in sunshine, but, unexpectedly, it started to rain as I ascended Burnaby Mountain.

My legs that felt good at departure, turned to stone on that climb. It was laborious.

But the best surprise came near the summit, when I passed a family of deer nibbling on early spring shoots right beside the separated bike path. They paid me no heed as I rolled by. Probably because by that point I was so slow, they knew they’d easily outsprint me if I turned out to be a wolf in bib tights.

A family of deer could care less as I ride by on my way up Burnaby Mountain.

A family of deer could care less as I ride by on my way up Burnaby Mountain.

Not that I’m complaining…

7 02 2015

I’ve got some bones to pick.

Dear Weather:

Why do you insist on raining my ENTIRE week off? This little bonus of vacation time left over from last year was supposed to be a nice chance to build some pre-season kilometres into my legs.

Instead, it rained EVERY DAY. Even on Wednesday, when the day started sunny, by the time I got half way through my 65 km ride, the clouds had rolled in and the showers started anew. The Lapierre and I were a gritty, soggy mess by the time we got home.

The nice thing about midweek mid-winter rides is the quiet solitude of usually busy pitstops. The down side is the rainy weather.

The nice thing about midweek mid-winter rides is the quiet solitude of usually busy pitstops. The down side is the rainy weather.

Thanks for nothing, Weather.

Dear Strava:

Why do you build us up, then bash us down? Surely you know by now we’re all addicted to those little badges and trophies of achievement?

Of course you do, that’s exactly why you decided to reset the clock at the beginning of 2015 so we could all rebuild those PB’s and overall records anew. That made for some pretty heady early-season rides; a leisurely flat jaunt on boggy winter legs would still achieve 20 or 30 icons of achievement as segments had been ridden so infrequently.

We all like that little ego stroke.

So imagine my disappointment when Wednesday’s ride (half of it in the rain; see above) realized exactly ZERO badges or trophies. Especially as my legs felt pretty good. Not July good. But good enough to chase down a “rabbit” at the tail end of my day out, and then elicit a “thanks for the pull” after I passed and dragged him along for a four or five km stretch. Surely there was an early-season badge or two buried somewhere in that effort? Nope. Bupkuss.

Thanks for nothing, Strava.


3 02 2015

I’m snakebit.

Of the five rides I was able to achieve in January, two of them were stalled by flats. Friday’s ride up Burnaby Mountain included TWO flats.

There’s a lot of crud on the roads.

Even though we’ve had a relatively mild, snowless winter so far, the grit and grunge still builds up along the shoulders and bike lanes.

Friday, a day so mild I wore knickers, I knew I was in trouble when I spied the small chunk of jagged plastic or ceramic that shot out into the roadway as my rear tire rolled over it. Sure enough, 100 meters along I could feel the tire softening. Deflate-gate this was not.

I pulled off and gave it a pip with a CO canister, hoping I just had a very slow leak. A second pip and a quick inspection revealed the leak’s source, a cut in the sidewall, likely from that earlier shard.

Too cheap to want to replace a new tube I’d just installed after my previous flat, and too stubborn to admit defeat, I rode on in hopes the tire would hold up until I got home.

It didn’t.

I pulled off the road again and resigned myself to swapping out yet another tube.

Another winter ride, another flat.

Another winter ride, another flat.

Now I’ll admit I’m not the quickest tire changer in the world, and my fingers aren’t always strong enough to manually run the bead into the rim without a little help form my plastic levers.

And that’s where I got into trouble this time.

I took care to ensure the tube was properly seated in the tire and managed to get most of the tire into place. But a little tweak with the lever must have nicked the tube. By the time I got home, it too was softening. Snakebite.