Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's a biker's world

Despite my sprained ankle, the world hasn't stopped moving. In fact, in Victoria the biking community has kicked it into high gear!

Here are some shots of just a few of the biking events that have taken place over the past week in Victoria, BC. (And it's just the start. The Victoria International Cycling Festival kicked off with the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria - other events will continue through the month of June.)

Bike to Work Week starts in June. To get some news coverage and cyclists in the area hyped, they had a big launch at a local Starbucks. (Yes, I just happened to walk by as I was walking to work!)
The Harbour Sprint Series will go for the next few Fridays. It's put on by a local bike shop - you can see one of the event organizers with his megaphone getting ready to clear the streets.
Three sprinters race by toward the finish line. The races are described by the Harbour Sprint organizers as "1/4 mile drag races"... it was fun to watch, especially to see what the racers were wearing. Who knew cut-off jean shorts were the new look for male bike racers?!

These cyclists have just started a 140km bike ride. Word on the street is that Tour de France cyclist Ryder Hesjedal is one of the cyclists in the blue shirts at the front of the pack.
Happy, laughing cyclists... and just under 140km to bike.

Monday, May 23, 2011

True Confession Time

It's true confession time. After starting this fitness challenge I did not stop playing soccer. As soon as my knees were strong enough, I was back out on the field. Honestly, the boxing and rock climbing really prepared me to go back on the pitch... and then I stopped those activities and just kept playing soccer. Bad idea.

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle. In the photo you can see me doing all the right things as soon as I got injured. RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Plus one of the other players had ibuprofen to help ease the swelling and the pain.

Urgh! It's a frustrating cycle.

If you've been injured you know what I'm going through. You're injured, so you can't play the games you love because you're not at your optimum fit level. And it's a challenge to get fit, because you're injured and can't do your regular routine.

As I was slamming my fists in frustration (and yes, a bit of pain too), my teammates rushed over because they were worried it was my knee again. Thank goodness it wasn't. Instead, it was a new and equally annoying injury. And my first two thoughts were - "There goes my soccer career (again & forever!)", and then... "s@#*! There goes my summer of outdoor activity."

Luckily it was just a sprain. However, it has made biking difficult. And I'm at a crossroad again trying to decide if it's time to give up on the game I love the most.

Upon taking my doctor's advice, I didn't go overboard, but I didn't stop moving.

Last weekend I went out for a fairly stunted bike ride. I know I'm supposed to write about the good stuff, but can I complain about the challenges of cycling through traffic for a moment? I'm not on a road bike and I'm glad; the smooth wheels and high speed scare me when I know I'm driving on a road shared with cars much larger than me. It's one thing to be a commuter cyclist (p.s. Bike to Work Week is coming up soon:, but it's another when you're trying to outpace the cars and go for gold.

I'm fortunate to live in a city that is set up for all kinds of activity. We have a beautiful trail called the Galloping Goose. Although it's not perfect - there are wooden bridges that hurt to cycle over and there are a lot of pedestrians - you don't have to compete against cars and it's pretty scenic.

We'll see what the next week brings. Hopefully sunshine, a healed ankle, and more excitement on the road!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike gear and "stuff"

After my first week back on a bike in more than a few years, a few things are clear. There is a lot of gear with this sport!

Maybe it seems like there is more equipment than other sports because I'm coming off a month of running; all you need are your clothes, some decent shoes, and you're off. It's not so with cycling.

First, of course, you need a bike. Depending on how into the sport you plan to get, the price of a bike can go as low as around $100 for a used bike and as high as $500,000 for a custom bike. (Interested in what a bike that expensive looks like? Read about the Trek "Butterfly" Madone bike designed by Damien Hirst here.)

So why are bikes so expensive?

One word: components. You can add that word into your cocktail party dictionary for when it's time to wax poetic about your new love for that sweet ride you're about to buy!
Pausing on Dallas Road - gorgeous spot to cycle

Components, the parts that make up a bike, can change the price of a bike substantially. You want it light? You'll get carbon fiber, which is expensive. Don't care about weight? You can go to Canadian Tire and pick up what they've got on sale. Jim Langley, a cycling enthusiast and writer, put together a great image showing the names of all a bike's components; check it out here.

The other thing that affects the price of your bike is the brand and size. Um hmm: Bikes come in more than kid's, women's, and men's sizing.

If you plan on getting into proper road biking you will need to get sized. A few weeks ago in preparation for this month's sport challenge, I stopped by a cycling store and got sized. I'm fairly short and we decided a 48" bike would be suitable. If I had to jump from the pedals in a panic, I would be able to touch ground without landing with the "top tube" between my legs and getting hurt.

Quiet streets are fun to explore from a bike
Then of course, there's the helmet. In six Canadian provinces the law requires cyclists to wear a cycling helmet. (It's required in 22 states for you Americans reading!) British Columbia is one of those provinces, and I have to admit that when I moved from Ontario (one of the six provinces) to Victoria, BC, I noticed that people actually follow the law here. I feel like much less of a dork with my helmet on here than I did biking around Ottawa.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, "Common sense tells you to avoid a helmet with snag points sticking out, a squared-off shell, inadequate vents, excessive vents, an extreme "aero" shape, dark colors, thin straps, complicated adjustments or a rigid visor that could snag in a fall." (I was surprised that there's an institute focused solely on bike helmet safety; I guess I shouldn't be...)

If you know of a women's size 48" used bike for sale - please let me know.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm gonna be a biker...

It's a new month, which means time to try a new sport. What says spring more than the month of May? Maybe getting on a bike and peddling around? That's right. I'm gonna be a biker. At least for a month anyway!

Time and again I've mentioned that I live in Victoria, BC. Not only is it beautiful, but it's also a prime spot for athletes of all abilities. In the past few months the city has been buzzing with one subject - cycling.

Sometimes the chatter is controversial (i.e. will the Johnson Street bridge be able to accommodate the hundreds of cycling commuters?), but more often it's about the thrill of competition and the love of the sport of cycling.

Only a few months ago, the first ever Victoria International Cycling Festival was announced. And it's big people!

For those of you who aren't avid cycling enthusiasts, I'm going to bet you've heard of the Tour de France. Victoria's own Ryder Hesjedal is one of only a handful of Canadians to have competed in this world class event and done well. Given his love of the sport, Ryder came home and decided it was time to launch something here - so this May Victoria will host the first Tour de Victoria and kick of its first cycling festival. (Can I just use this opportunity to point out the obvious? How perfect is it that the Hesjedal's named their son after the activity he would eventually take to new levels in Canada?!)

So, it's in the stars that this month be about cycling.

I'm going to borrow a friend's road bike. But for now, I thought I'd take out my old bike - neither road bike nor mountain bike - and get a feel for being on two wheels again.

People always say, "It's like riding a bike: you never forget!" I'm going to put that old adage to the test. The first step was for me to dust off the ol' bike and pump up the tires. Find out more later this week...

And, if you're interested in participating in the activities associated with the festival, details are on the festival's site:

For those wanting some pictures from my TC10K experience, here you go!

The road ahead, mid race
Helping the Victoria Foundation mark its 75th anniversary supporting our community!
My friend Liz and I... finally done!