Ian’s First Ride up COP

As is our usual, when Tammy and Miranda went for their Thursday night ladies’ ride with the Bow Cyclist Club, Ian and I went for a ride of our own. This night was a special one, because Ian had been bugging me for a long time that he wanted to try to ride up the hill at Canada Olympic Park. COP is a bit of a byword around Calgary as one of the world-class local hills for cycling. It’s not long at 1.3 km, but it is steep. It averages 8%.

COP hill

To put that in perspective, that’s in the same ballpark as famous hills in Europe such as Alpe d’Huez.

On this night, Ian and I rode up it. He stopped only once, but he made it!

Ian just before the last hairpin

When I posted the ride on Strava, Ian got lots of support.

  • Adam Clark Was that Ian’s first time up COP?
  • Simon Biickert yep!
  • Adam Clark Well he must be getting ready for A group rides then.
  • Tammy Biickert Way to go Ian!
  • Phil Arsenault Great job Ian. COP is tough!
  • Karyn Silenzi Nice – that hill is my nemesis!


Gran Fondo Badlands 2018

I’m home, tired and sore after a long day. It was the Gran Fondo Badlands, in Drumheller, AB.

It’s really hard to summarize the day, because it was so eventful. There were ups and downs, pain and joy. To set the stage, though, the weather around here turned horrible yesterday. The forecast was nothing but high percentage chances of rain and thunderstorms. And we were planning on spending more than six hours out on bicycles in it. Keith had made the trip from Vancouver to be here. He is staying with us until tomorrow. His take on the situation was: “Think of the stories we’ll have to tell.” Mine was: “Don’t trust the weather forecasts around here.”

It was looking like he was going to be right on the way there. It was intermittent, but there were downpours. The kind where you have to kick your wipers on high speed. It was still raining lightly in Drumheller when we arrived and had some breakfast. We were ready to go.

Keith and I, ready for the weather

The roads were wet. But the rain disappeared.

The starting line

That’s when our plans started going astray. Eleven kilometres in, we were in the bunch when Keith got a flat rear tire. I stopped to help him change it.

Keith changing his tire

We said that we’d used up our bad luck, and the rest of the day would be better. The truth, however, was different. After the second climb of the day, I got a flat in my front tire.

Flattering picture…

We made it partway to Wayne when my tire went soft again. Then when we were at the aid station in Wayne, Keith’s front tire went flat. That was four flats in sixty kilometres. We were having to borrow inner tubes, because even though we came prepared, our reserve supplies were already used up.

We rolled out of Wayne and going southeast, until the turnaround for the 100 km route. Keith and I had both signed up for the 160 km distance, but we were so far behind schedule. We were more than four hours into the ride and we were only at 75 km. I was starting to feel more positive (no flats in 15 km and the weather was perking up), but Keith was starting to wear out chasing me. We agreed that he was going to turn back, and I was going to go at least as far as Dorothy, and maybe climb the last hill of the ride.

I set off, and immediately appreciated a tailwind. I was feeling good, and pushed over 40 km/h for almost 20 km to Dorothy. I was feeling so good that I went straight on and climbed the hill. Then I thought I could go as far as the 140 km turnaround. When I got there, I reasoned it was mostly flat to the 160 km turnaround…

As I was heading towards the 160 turnaround (straight, rolling road to the east), I was staring at a HUGE thunderstorm. It was getting closer, but I could see it was drifting left to right, so it wouldn’t hit me. I saw a number of lightning strikes in the distance.

So I did the whole distance. After such a rotten start, it felt good, despite the fact that I rode solo into a headwind for the last 52 km. I stopped to take a picture in the hamlet of East Coulee, and texted Keith to let him know where I was… it was 2.5 hours since we’d parted ways.

East Coulee and Hoo Doos. Storms to the left of me, blue sky to the right…

It started to get a bit painful in the last 20 km, particularly due to my left foot. I was riding my Roubaix, which has Speedplay clipless pedals. At the first stop, I had to use the portajohn and needed to cross some muddy ground to get to it. From that point on, my cleats on my shoes were muddy, and so were my pedals. It was harder to clip in, but still workable. When I clipped in at Dorothy, little did I know that my left wasn’t going to come out again. When I stopped the last couple of times and at the finish, I couldn’t get my foot out. I literally had to get a friend to help me get my shoe off (still stuck to the pedal) so that I could get off of my bike! I left it there until I got home.

I was the last of the Bow Cyclists to finish. I saw and waved to almost all of them as they were on the return leg when I was still heading outwards. And most of them were there at the finish to cheer me as I arrived. It was a great feeling. I was 132nd out of 147 finishers of the 160 distance. 7 hours and 17 minutes, but only 5:59 of that was in motion. When I set out on my own I thought I might be the last overall, and I was fine with that.

Considering the weather forecast, the day was beautiful. Considering the flats, the ride was great. Both Keith and I were right: there were lots of stories, and you can’t trust the forecast. 🚴‍♂️

MEC Century Ride, and Five Years in Calgary

For five months, I’d had today circled in the calendar: Mountain Equipment Coop Spring Century Ride. I’d talked about it with the club members, made plans, etc. Then it occurred to me on Friday that I hadn’t gotten the usual email from the organizer on the week of, telling me to pick up my bib number at MEC on Thursday night. I wondered if there was some new privacy restriction where I needed to check a particular box to get emails from them. But when I went through my email and our financials I realized that I’d never actually registered. I had registered for the Gran Fondo Badlands and for the Tour de Victoria, but not the MEC rides. So, I registered last night and drove the 130 kilometres to the event start this morning.

Clouds, fields and mountains

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Ladies’ Bike Ride, Rollin’ With Ian

It was the first Thursday night Ladies’ Ride with the Bow Cyclist Club, and Tammy was there, representing! Considering she re-jiggered her work schedule to make it to the Thursday rides, that’s awesome! There were ten ladies in total, with Liz, Alice and Susan leading over 37 km of in-city riding.

Tammy with the group. Susan’s taking the picture.

There was a nasty headwind on the last 10 km back and Tammy was pretty darn tired at the end of it.

Meanwhile, Ian and I covered our own ground, riding from Bowness to downtown and back. Ian wanted to see the construction state of the Telus Sky building. He also got to show off his new cycling jersey!

Ian and Daddy

He did great! We rode 27 flat kilometres over about 2 hours. The low point was him having a little crash. He cut a corner at one point, and his handlebar clipped a pole. He fell over at really low speed. He was okay, but shaken.

Across the river from St. Patrick’s Island Park

Only in Calgary

Riding home from work this afternoon, I had to stop and try to capture the strangeness. It was twenty-two degrees and sunny, but there was still ice along the river.

Sun and Ice

Today marks a week since I started my commuting season. Still nippy in the mornings.

I’ve got mad decaling skills, bro.

As documented here, I was waiting for my second set of decals to arrive from Hungary, and they came yesterday! Of course, that meant a door knocker and Tammy picking them up today. She teased me at work with this:

A Hungarian Package

I got home and opened the package up. Here’s what I got for $71… or $142 if you count the lost one that probably is in the landfill in Victoria.

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Let the 2018 BCC season begin!

The weather this weekend managed to be nice enough for me to ride not once, but twice! Yesterday, I went for a 31 km ride into the Church Ranches area to scout the road conditions. And today, the Bow Cyclists headed out for the first time in 2018.

Selfie on Meadow Lane

That’s a duck pond in the background. Let’s just say that winter has not released its grip yet.

There was an amazing turnout this morning. The count was somewhat vague, but it was approximately thirty riders who set out this morning. That was the largest number that I have ever seen. We had six ride leaders out: myself, Tommy, Wing, Rebecca, Kurt and Mark, so we split into an A and B group. I led the B group for what ended up a 42 km ride.

The B group. I don’t know all of their names, but left to right there’s Wing, Kevin, three unknowns, Adam, Susan, Allan, another unknown, Mary, Rebecca and Nora.

The A group got back a few minutes after us, and only went 6 more kilometres. They had to deal with a flat tire at some point.

I guess there were a lot of people like me who were sick of riding the trainer indoors. Feels good to kick off the riding season. It will only get better from here on out.

MAMIL (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra)

Tonight was a date night. Tammy took the train downtown and met me at the Esri office at the end of day. We walked from there to the Barley Mill Pub in Eau Claire. There was a big pro-Trans-Mountain Pipeline rally at the old courthouse on the way. We walked by just as it was breaking up. I muttered to her a quote from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown:

Sally: “I wouldn’t want to be accused of taking part in a rumble.”

We had a nice dinner. She had the fish and chips, and I had a buffalo chicken burger. A half pint of Guinness for her and a couple glasses of Tool Shed Red Rage.

But all of that was a pretext to go and see MAMIL.

It is a documentary that has an interesting distribution method: they advertise a showing in a city at a particular theatre on a particular date and time, and if they pre-sell enough tickets, then the showing happens (you don’t get charged until the reservation is confirmed). It had come to Calgary in October and I’d missed it then.

There were a fair number of Bow Cyclists there, so it was a bit of an event. There were a lot of chuckles and outright laughter from the audience. I guess there was a lot of truths up there on the screen. It was a study of why specifically there is a demographic of middle-aged, mostly white, mostly male cyclists who insist on wearing lycra (not flattering) and buying expensive bikes and riding in clubs. Sound like anyone you know? 😳

I could see myself in some of the stories. There were a lot of other ones that were not exactly me: I’m not trying to race or compete in any sort of official way. There also was a real focus on the maleness of the phenomenon, which also was a little off from my experience. I have done my best to encourage women in the club, but there’s no denying that most of the riders are men. I’m glad of our female membership and will continue to work for it.

Tammy could also relate to the suffering looks on the faces of the wives being interviewed. 😆

Some very inspiring stories. Some cringe-worthy embarrassing truths. But overall a very entertaining film.

Yes, I’m almost forty-five. Yes, I weigh over 200 pounds and I put on lycra (or as I call it, my super-suit). And I’m also damn healthy and having fun.

Back In Black

The winter refuses to let up. It’s -12 on April 7th and snowing lightly. I understand that snow in April in Calgary is a normal event, but it’s supposed to be “Victoria-style”: snow squalls that melt again. This is frigid.

So, I’m still riding Zwift indoors, but starting to prep for the season. I have stripped my red/silver decals off of my Roubaix in preparation for a new set which are on their way.

Back to being the bat bike

I am going to apply them as soon as they arrive.

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First Ride, Kids’ Walk

I actually got outside on my bike today! The weather was brisk, but sunny. It looked nice outside. About seven degrees or so. After lunch, the kids decided that they were going to go for a walk to the Library. I think they are a bit stir crazy waiting for spring to come, too. They left and I started getting my bike ready. I headed out and met them when they were just leaving the Crowfoot Library and on their way to Petsmart and then Chapters. They like to look at the kittens and the creepy-crawlies (like tarantulas). Eventually they called home and asked for a ride. I was home by that time and didn’t mind at all. I was very impressed that they went for the walk on their own initiative.

My ride was good. It was about 19 kilometres, and not particularly fast. All of the roads were either wet or covered with gravel or both. Some parts were still snow and ice and I either detoured around or walked across.

It was the first time I had ridden my commuting bike since tearing it apart at the bike maintenance course in January. I had replaced my derailleurs with a 1X system (1 gear in the front, 11 in the rear) and it worked really well. So simple.

There’s no way I would commute tomorrow if I was going to work, though. So much meltwater across the roads. It will all turn to ice tonight.