2014: Year of the JellyFish

IMG_6685.JPG

The weather has been so warm this Christmas that the Rotters have been joking about doing one final JellyFish for a few a few days. On Boxing Day, Woody and I were talking to JubJub at his famous annual party and taunting each other to go out this weekend. So when I woke up this morning and the sun was shining, it didn’t really matter that the wind was blowing 30-40KPH easterly I was going out for a ride. ONE LAST LOOP! Took the bike off the trainer, put the saddle bag back on and made sure the Garmin was fully charged, this one was definitely going in the books and on Strava.

IMG_0896.PNG
And let me just say that after the loop was done and I had 55KM done, I was ready to brag. Usually by this time of year, none of the paths would be open, the hard shoulders would all be snow banks and there would be so much sand and salt on the dry roads that the Shimano gear would commit Seppuku. But this year the roads where so nice and despite the wind, the car drivers had also remembered a few manners so when you got pushed into the middle of the road, there was some extra wiggle room.

The odd thing is that I was far from the only one out there, JubJub finally made it out and I even past more than a familiar runners like Etienne, Marc, and a neighbour from up the street. Despite then wind, more than a few braved the Abbott Hills and the l’Anse a L’Orme TT. The one thing that did seem to unite everyone was the clothing. I basically wore XC ski gear, with a nylon biking wind breaker and some boot covers. Last year, my cousin gave a skull-cap that is meant to be work under a helmet… Awesome buy! As were the knee-high compression socks for alpine skiing. The only I would have done differently is some lobster miss instead of running gloves… And that is only because on the wind. Of course most of the gear I own in MEC and it served me well. Right now they are having a huge clearance on cycle gear which always doubles up well and Xc ski gear so head on over and add to cart.

IMG_6553.JPG
As the title says, this year has mostly been the year of the JellyFish (see above) a modified Rotters loop that usually turns out to be a pretty good 40KM time trial. A few windy bits, a couple of hills but when ridden with the Rotters on your wheel, it’s a few hours well spent at a decent heart rate. No insane distances this year and only one crazy imperial century though southern Maine. In fact only 6,300KM compared to last year’s 8,000KM, but at least 78 commuting days. Sure I have added in 800KM of running and few events this year like my second RTCC (RIP Kat & Greg), my first sprint triathlon with Edno, a sub two-hour half marathon with my sister and a couple of 10k’s under 50 minutes. It’s been a good year, the boys pushed me hard and they rib me about never letting up the front but I think most of them enjoy riding behind the tank. 😉

It’s been another great year Rotters and thanks for all the JellyFish!

IMG_6151.JPG

IMG_0709.JPG

IMG_6138.JPG

IMG_6302.JPG

IMG_6231.JPG

IMG_6232.JPG

 

IMG_6230.JPG

IMG_6234.JPG

IMG_6159.JPG

 

 

 

IMG_6393.JPG

Today’s Riding Lesson: Commit to the Cattle Grid

20130720-120823.jpg

This morning I set out for ride through the New Forest which straddles the Hampshire and Dorset county line. I left Bournemouth just before 6AM and headed up towards Cranborne for some lovely climbs past Gaunts Common, Holt and our old cottage near Horton. After an brilliant descent into Cranborne, I spent the next 25KM climbing towards Fordingbridge and then up aptly named Godshill before another awesome descent into Cadnam, hitting 66kph before tucking in and hoping to stick the roundabout. It was on this descent that I learned a vital riding lesson:

Commit to the cattle grids!

When you approach six horizontal bars anchored into the pavement at 40 to 50 kph, the worst thing you could ever do is slam on the breaks or try and change directions. I have no idea if any cycling club would ever recommend this, but here is what I did: stood up with feet at 3 and 9 O’clock, hands on the hoods with arms bent and two fingers gently covering the brakes; with my knees bent I squeezed the saddle with my thighs and lined myself up to cross the grid panel head on and right in the middle. You want to stay away from the edge that get butted together, those look far too inviting for 23mm wheels. I hesitated between a bunny hop and just lightly lifting the pressure off the wheels. To be honest I was concentrating so hard on NOT letting any poo come out that I can’t remember which technique I actually used. The first grid scared me silly, especially since there was no warning that I was approaching it until it was far too late. By the time I had crossed my third grid, I was actually welcoming them. Now granted it was a very dry day and my tires and rock hard at 120psi, I’m not all sure this technique would work in the wet or in a curve (if you’re the guy zoning a cattle grid in a curve then f&$@ you). Also if you’re riding a MTB you are probably well versed in stupid road hazards, so your thoughts on this are welcome in the comments.

20130720-124030.jpg

The Pack Mentality, Re-Learning to Ride Safely

In light of this weekend’s tragic accident during BC’s Ride to Conquer Cancer where a young cyclist aged 16 lost his lost after clipping another rider’s wheel and falling into oncoming traffic. I think it’s important that we all remember and in some cases learn some of the basic rules for riding in a pack.

We share the road with cars who despite our numbers, loud jerseys, reflectors and lights will always claim they did not see us. Therefore it’s always a good rule to assume that you ARE invisible to them and try to ride in a way that is akin to the way motorcyclist call defensive driving, anticipate the road and the others around you. If you don’t make eye contact with the driver, then assume they have no clue you are on the road.

I stumbled upon this piece from the MEC Ride don’t Hide blog and had to share it. Please click on through and the read the great tips from Jess Hainstock and Allan Prazsky.

“Fluidity and subtlety are key whenever you’re in a pack, because an element of risk comes with group riding. Etiquette within the pack is important for several reasons, most notably safety for you and those around you,” Allan responds, when I explained the code of conduct I’d observed on the group ride. “There is something called ‘the accordion effect,’ where the action of the front rider gets magnified as you travel to the back of the group. A sudden acceleration, deceleration, or swerve becomes exaggerated as it moves through the pack, ultimately leading to frustration, a crash, or worst case, a frustrated crash.”

As my buddy Alister mentioned this morning when he forwarded the CBC news clipping: Safe Riding People

via Ride Don’t Hide – The Pack Mentality | MEC Blog.

Century Uno: The RTCC Training Continues

SafariScreenSnapz006It’s Victoria Day Bank Holiday in The Great White North and after a weekend of staining the deck and pergola, I just couldn’t take it anymore and had to get out on the Red Rocket. What started off as a simple Ile Perrot loop turned into my first metric century of the year. The wind was pretty forgiving and the carbon fibre K-Factor made all of the West Island roads feel pretty decent. Although I will admit that Ile Bizzard and Ile Perrot roads are pretty bad.

It felt pretty good to finally get a real 100KM ride in under my belt this year, especially after last week’s pretty abysmal commuting schedule. For some reason May always seems to just kick my ass, last year the weather and travel schedule didn’t help and year it’s been high winds and illness.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is just over a month a way and if things keep going at this pace, I should be fine. It’s never too late to make a donation, just use the link above.  And if you’re keen on joining me in my training rides, just send me a note. I always welcome the company.