2019 Tour de Victoria

Our trip to Victoria wouldn’t be complete without taking part in Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria. For me, it was my fifth participation (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). For Tammy and Miranda, it was number three, and Ian’s second! I can’t type that without smiling. Everybody did an amazing job and made it safely around the 140, 60 and 30 km courses.

It was almost perfect weather: there had been a few showers overnight, but the morning was dry with a mix of sun and cloud and temperatures climbing to only about 21. No wind. No smoke. It might not have been as picturesque as a brilliant sunny day, but it was great for riding, especially when yours truly forgot to put sunblock on. 🙈

It was an early morning. The 140 km distance started at 7:00, so we were up at 5:30 and down at the parliament buildings by 6:30. We ran into my friend Keith, who I have ridden with many times. I didn’t ride with him today: he was “resting” in preparation for a 26 km run the next day, and I was planning to test myself.

Simon, Tammy, Keith and Miranda before 7:00 am

As usual, there was a big crowd of riders. There were two groups: the 160 and the 160 distance, but you line up based on how long you think you will take to finish. I placed myself right at the tail end of 4-5 hours. In previous years, I’ve taken about 5:45 to finish but today I was going to see how quickly I could do it. Not racing, just working hard.

The crowd gathering

Where’s Simon????

As you can see, I still started pretty far back. I held my position until the 4 Mile Pub hill and the Colwood Crawl, where I moved forward. I was even close enough to the front that I saw the blue and red lights of the lead police motorcycle when I turned off of Ocean Boulevard and onto Lagoon Drive! (tiny cheer) I was committed to giving it an effort, but when I reached the top of Kangaroo Road, I realized that I was ahead of schedule by a fair bit. Stephanie had said that she and the family would be on the course near her house to cheer me on, but at this pace I was going to get there faster than usual. So while climbing Lindholm Road, I texted Stephanie to let her know. But as you can see: it wasn’t enough. I missed them. 😢

The rest of the day went well for me. I ended up riding most of the way with a fellow from Vancouver named John, until my legs fell off in the Uplands area. Because I was so far ahead of my usual schedule, three unusual things happened:

  1. The lead group of the 160 km riders didn’t pass me on Munn Road. They only caught me at the aid station on Hastings Street, 90 km in.
  2. The climb up into the Highlands was very peaceful. I beat the leading 100 km riders to it (they started at 9:00) so it was only a handful of 140 riders around me and not a traffic jam.
  3. I caught Tammy and Miranda at the aid station at Cordova Bay Elementary, where last year they finished before I did.

But as I mentioned above, my legs fell off not long after passing Tammy and Miranda. I was already tired, and the hills in the Queenswood area finished me off. By the time I got to Uplands my thighs felt like cooked pasta. I still managed a reasonable ride to the finish, largely thanks to the lack of a headwind this year. I finished in 5:09, much faster than my previous best.

Dad was still there after seeing Ian start, and I got to watch Tammy and Miranda cross the line!

Dad putting up with my moaning after the ride

Tammy and Miranda started at 9:00 and rode together.

Girls ready to go!

Tammy said that she was proud of how she’d done. She felt stronger on the steep hills and didn’t have to walk up any of them this year. (The hills on the course are much sharper and steeper than we have around Calgary)

Tired but smiling

Dad brought Ian down for the start of the 30 km ride at noon. His biggest problem was finding a place to park. Everywhere was full. He ended up parking under the Empress Hotel and walking over with Ian. They made it on time, but we definitely were not as organized this year. We neglected to put Miranda’s SIM card in his phone, so we couldn’t track him, and we didn’t leave him any nutrition bars to put in his pocket for the outbound ride. It was 15 km to the aid station at the turnaround for him, so he was fine but it would have been better to be prepared.

Ian ready for the start

He did great. He says he pushed hard this year, and he was back in 1:33, eleven minutes faster than last year. Who knows, maybe he’ll be ready for the 60 next year?

Tired and sweaty at the end

Here are links to all of our rides on Strava: Simon, Tammy, Miranda and Ian.


Cycling from Banff

I’m not sure where to start with this one. On one hand, we had a great day out: we got to see Banff (the town), Tammy and the kids rode the Legacy Trail to Canmore and got to see more of that town, too. I got to ride Highway 1A to Lake Louse and got to see Moraine Lake.

Then on the other hand, Miranda got sick on the way back from Canmore, leaving Tammy to nurse them the 25 km back to Banff and making her do most of the work with the headwind that wanted them to not make it back.

I think I’ll focus on the good parts, okay? I mean, check this out:

Color is not doctored. Moraine Lake is that color.

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Mid-Season BCC Update

Today’s the first day of August. There’s about a month of summer riding left before the weather will start getting more unpredictable. It’s Calgary, so we’re talking snow as a possibility.

This year I made a major change: I shifted my ride leadership from Wednesday+Sunday to Wednesday+Saturday. This was major because it forced me into riding long rides (80-110 km) every weekend and riding with the “A” riders every week. It has had the result I expected: I’m a lot stronger than I was at this point last year (2018). I would say this has been my most ambitious riding season, maybe even besting 2017, the year of five gran fondos (MEC x 2, Cycle of Life, Badlands, Tour de Victoria).

The best part has been that the feedback has been very positive. I was worried about how  I would be accepted by the Saturday ride regulars, considering that they had a reputation as being take-no-prisoner all-out rides and I like to make things more inclusive. But for the first time ever, I’m getting regular kudos in the form of comments directly from riders, notes on Strava and even emails to myself and the director complimenting me on the way I’m running the rides. It’s really put a shine on this year for me.

This Saturday will be a special Saturday ride: we’ll be starting in Banff and riding to Moraine Lake. That’s a ride I’ve never done before. Looking forward to it.

Here are a couple of photos from last night’s Wednesday night ride. We stopped on one of the lookouts over the Bow River and took a group photo.

Summer’s Here

Okay, so the last two days have been super-windy, but it seems as though summer has finally arrived here in Calgary. I’ve been able to commute without extra layers, anyways.

The kids are well into their vacation now. I’m glad to say that both of them are getting out and “playing” more than last summer. It helps that Ian is spending time with Joey and Ilia, who like riding bikes. Miranda is riding with the club, but her favorite rides are the Thursday night ladies’ rides, especially when they end up being an ice cream ride to Village Ice Cream to celebrate Alice’s birthday.

Miranda next to Alice, salted caramel ice cream cone in hand

Not to be outdone, Ian and I also went out for ice cream before meeting up with Miranda at the end of the ride and coming home together. We didn’t go as far for ours, but we enjoyed our DQ dipped cones a lot!

Tammy was teaching her last evening class of the term, or she would have been with us, I’m sure. She’s been riding on Tuesdays pretty regularly and making time for her own rides to the shops and other things.

Without the wind it would have been a perfect evening. You can’t see the wind in this photo of the river and a train, so enjoy!

Looking across the Bow River to a CP Rail train

Hello from Vernon

It’s late in the evening on Wednesday night. I flew into Kelowna at 10 this morning, and Steve drove me to Vernon to meet with the folks from Tolko Industries. There was a short pre-lunch meeting, then lunch at Station BBQ, then a few hours of pre-workshop meetings in the afternoon. There is always so much to talk about at these workshops, and it made sense to do a little extra.

From the highway between Kelowna and Vernon

The weather was nicest when I arrived, but slowly clouded over. After the meeting was done, five of us arranged to go mountain biking. Dan, a consultant from our Kelowna office, was the instigator and had mentioned this before I came. I brought a helmet, gloves, water bottle, shorts, jersey and shoes for the trip. He got Thomas, Leon and Greg from Tolko to come as well, and we spent over an hour riding up and back down again in the Vernon woods.

Heading out

I rode Dan’s old bike for most of it, but partway down, Leon took pity on me and lent me his bike. There was a fair bit of difference between them in ride quality and forgiveness.

The views were great, when we weren’t surrounded by woods.

Lake Okanagan from the summit

We regrouped afterwards for dinner at the Outboard Waterfront Pub. The sky was grey but the temperature was warm. We sat out on the patio. It was a good time, but then I was super late checking into the hotel and needed to shower and iron my shirt for tomorrow. Sleepy time now. 🌙

Ian’s Longest, Toughest Ride Yet

I think the title says it all, don’t you? 35 km, and 477 metres of elevation gain.

Starting in the lower right (Tammy’s work) and ending at home.

When I got home off the train this evening, I had an urge to go for a ride. I’d missed out on commuting today due to a forecast that said rain, but then didn’t really materialize. It was a beautiful evening, and Tammy hadn’t left for work yet. The plan was to put the bike on the car and ride with her to work, then start home along a loop around the north end of Calgary. I originally thought about just doing this myself: I’ve never done this route before. But then I thought Ian would like to do it and offered to Miranda too, but she declined. So off Ian and I went. It took almost 2.5 hours and was a lot of climbing when I wasn’t stopping to check the GPS.

Definitely longer and more climbing than the 30 km distance of the Tour de Victoria, so he’s ready for our trip!

Looks like some down, then a lot of up.

First Husband-Wife Ride

I’ve been in the club since 2013 and Tammy joined in 2018, but until now we’ve never been on a Bow Cyclist ride together.

Pat, Ian, Simon, Susan, Nora and Tammy (Susan P. took the picture)

I worked from home today in part because I had a light workload of meetings today and partly because while the weather was nice in the morning, it was supposed to be rain and thunder in the afternoon. When I was delaying putting on my cycling gear to ride to the office, Tammy suggested that I could go for the 10 am Tuesday ride with her. It’s no longer a “ladies ride”, even if it is predominantly women. I booked the time off work and joined in.

It was a nice ride and the weather cooperated. It was a pretty slow pace, but sometimes you have to slow down and chill. I had a lot of fun and didn’t get in trouble once saying something to Tammy that I’d regret. That’s a victory right there. 😄

Tammy’s in the green helmet

2019 Gran Fondo Badlands

Today was the first of the two gran fondo rides I have registered for this year. This was the third time I have entered the Gran Fondo Badlands, the previous times were last year and the year before. It’s a great ride: completely different from the sorts of rides I do normally and also very different from the Tour de Victoria, which we will be doing as a family again this year in August.

The weather this week has been ranging from miserable to horrible, so it was a stroke of luck that the weather cleared up this morning. The day was dry, with a mix of cloudy and sunny periods. I drove with Adam to Drumheller, and he, Hannah, Wing and I were a team for the day.

Me, Adam, Wing and Hannah

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New Wheels for the Roubaix

Two weeks ago, I was leading out the Wednesday night Bow Cyclist Club ride. Once on the way back and once when we got back to the shop, some of the riders mentioned to me that my rear wheel was not true. It had a slight wobble to it.

Paul having fun on the ride.

Mark (club president and the Parts Manager at Bow Cycle) was there and I mentioned it to him. So he pulled the wheel off and put it on the truing stand. He used the spoke wrench to work most of the wobble out, but couldn’t get it perfect. He was looking closely at the wheel and noticed this:

A two-inch crack in my rim

These are the stock alloy rims that came with the bike in 2016. I don’t know what cracked the rim, but it marked the end of its life. I limped home from the shop and started working out what to replace the rim with. It’s been a couple of weeks of sporadic emails with Mark, but today all was ready and I picked up my bike with its new Mavic Cosmic Pro UST wheels.

Look really close and you can read the name on the spoke

Right now my thumbs are in so much pain. The wheels came with some free tires, while I had bought some much better tires late last year. I intended to simply take the cheap tires off and put the better tires on the new wheels, but the new wheels are really, really tight. It was so much work to get the cheap tires off and then even more work to get the good tires on. I expect to not be able to grip anything tomorrow.

But it’s done now. Tomorrow’s forecast isn’t too promising, but I might get a chance to go for a ride. I’d better not get a flat. I doubt I would be able to fix it roadside. It took two hours to change these tires tonight.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that they cost more than our house insurance, a fact that Tammy keeps reminding me about. 😘

Updated Saturday

I went for a 110 km ride with the Bow Cyclists today on the new wheels and they worked great. The only hiccup was the long, fast downhill into Cochrane. These wheels have a deeper cross-section and more prone to get caught by gusts of wind. I had a couple of wobbles on the downhill, but nothing too dramatic. I slowed down and took it easy.

They sure look nice.

Parked in the sun in Bragg Creek

Since my Norco Valence is now back on “rollers duty”, I took the carbon fibre wheels off and put the heavier alloy ones back on. I made an offer to Miranda that she could try the good wheels on her bike, but she declined when I told her that they would be more difficult to brake with.

So I put $1600 wheels on Ian’s $300 road bike. Ridiculous, you say? Mais oui!.

Better than just hanging them on the wall

The May Long Weekend and Beyond…

2019’s May Long Weekend will not go down in the annals of history as a great one. The day with the best weather was Victoria Day, but that was a cool day with a high of 8 and a wind that cut. A number of my cycling club friends went for rides, but they all reported that they were damn cold. Sunday I went for the ride with the club, and realized when I started riding that it was colder and nastier than I thought it was. Still ended up with a 54 km ride and some good memories, though. Tammy and the kids felt guilted into going for a ride of their own, and my group passed them on 12 Mile Coulee Road just as we had crossed Highway 1A, and didn’t let me forget it for the rest of the day. It was windy and cold and the rest of the day was spent inside. 😀

We did barbecue hamburgers on Victoria Day, but there was no chance of being out on the deck.

I think the neatest thing to happen this weekend was Ian and I playing some music together. Twice over the weekend he sat down at the drum set and I grabbed a guitar and we played some rock music. It was a lot of fun. Makes me want to get my guitar chops back up to speed.

I bought Halo 5 with some birthday money from Dad, and it’s fun to play, but last night when Ian and I sat down to play some Co-op mode, we realized that it didn’t have a Co-op mode. !?!? It’s the only Halo game that doesn’t.

It’s a four-day week this week with two workshops with the National Energy Board (one down, one to go as I write). Then it’s off to Ontario next week for Tech Trek. Then it will be off to Edmonton the following week.

No rest for the wicked. 👿