Ottawa Granfondo: that was a ride

Granfondo Ottawa selfie
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Two hours in. Still quite composed
Well that was quite a day. I rode the Granfondo Ottawa’s Suprfondo route today. At 240km, it was the longest I’ve ever ridden in a day. I still feel like I’m wearing my helmet and sunglasses. My heart rate is still at 67bpm (normal is 47). Yep. That was quite a ride.

I got to the start early and was waiting around for 8am to happen. I should have waited some more for the ‘B’ group of Suprfondo riders. The ‘A’ group was way too strong for me. But I wanted to get going. I figured the fast ones would leave me eating dust and I’d be on my own. But the ride marshals, of which there were several in our group, kept us together, organizing pelotons and putting the strongest riders at the front. I couldn’t help but notice that I was one of only two in the group that didn’t shave my legs. Points against me for sure.

I stayed with them for a while, even doing the odd turn at the front, but at a certain point I looked at my head unit to see that my Intensity Factor (the ratio of normalized power – aka how much power you’re putting out – to your functional power threshold – how much power you can put out before you start to seriously fatigue) was at 1.3 where the plan had been to stay at 0.8, and I realized I needed an exit strategy.

I found one crossing Highway 17 when I jumped a stop sign, figuring that an eastbound pickup truck would pass us by and we could proceed. It didn’t. It stopped. And I got us yelled at by a group of motorcyclists coming the other way. There was confusion and fear in the group. I apologized to everyone who I rode near but no one accepted. It was clear I was going to be voted off the island. It was indeed a drop-worthy move on my part. And at Burnstown they dropped me. I don’t blame them. And in fact it was probably the best thing that happened to me because after that I could ride my own ride.

I had got a flat just before Burnstown. One of the ride marshals happened by and helped me change it. I love C02 cartridges. I was on my way with a properly inflated wheel in a few minutes.

However the upside to riding in a group is speed. You can keep your speed up with much less effort. And wind is much less of a factor. So long as you ‘grab a wheel’. On your own, you bear the full burden of all that effort. So that was today after Burnstown. A headwind. Bad one. Not deadly, but enough to kill my numbers and sap my spirit a little, especially after I passed 180km. I knew from an earlier long ride that I had at least six hours in the saddle before I’d start to unravel. I’d based my target time on an extrapolation of how I’d done on Rideau Lakes, dialling it back a bit because one is seldom so lucky with the wind as were riders of this year’s tour.

I’d hoped for 7:20 because this route had less elevation gain. I rolled in just over 8 hours after I started, including 7:36 of moving time.

Oh well. I did it. And I finished eighth in a field of 16. Update: Apparently some of the riders in the unofficial listing “shortened their route”. Can you guess which ones? Anyway, I might well have finished higher than shown. I will have to wait for the official results.

Base layers: the old man and the undershirt

Detail, Rapha base layer
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Rapha base layer: makes a huge difference on hot days.

An undershirt. Either to insulate (in cold) or keep air between skin and jersey (in hot). I never used to wear one of these things. Why, I reckoned, would you add a layer to your kit on a hot day? And why not just use a thicker jersey in the cold? Two words, comrade riders. Nipple chafing.

I’ve arrived at the end of a couple of Rideau Lakes Cycle Tours with red dots on my jersey, positioned over raw, sore nipples. Typically when it’s been raining. Typically if my jersey is a bit loose and flappy. You can still wear flappy jerseys if they’re flapping against some sort of taught base layer that isn’t moving. Continue reading Base layers: the old man and the undershirt

Between a sofa and a plank: the search for the bike saddle of my dreams

Selle Italia SLR Max Gel Flow
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When riding long distances any point of contact between you and the bike can cause grief. I think the most difficult to sort out is the saddle. Unlike shoes, pedals and gloves there’s no easy answer. Everything I’ve ever read about choosing a saddle has the phrase “it’s personal” in the first 30 words or so.

Well, it is personal. You’re talking about a part of the body that we don’t (generally) show in public and we don’t talk about with strangers. In the hope of making the search easier for you dear reader, I’m going to overshare.

I have been road biking since 2000 and I’ve been through three saddles on one road bike, two on my commuter, and three on my winter bike. None has ever worn out. In all cases I’ve gotten frustrated with discomfort of some kind and gone out and bought a new one.

My philosophy had been “buy the most expensive one you can find that looks like it might work.” Because a lot of times in cycling kit and components, you get what you pay for.

In last year though, I’ve come to question that assumption. Saddles are expensive for a number of reasons. And that reason might not be “because it’s the perfect one for you.” You need to find the right saddle for your body and for the riding you’re planning to do. You could be in luck. That might not be the $600 sliver of vinyl-covered carbon fibre on titanium rails.
Continue reading Between a sofa and a plank: the search for the bike saddle of my dreams

Trans-Outaouais Terror

I have no idea what's waiting for me
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I have no idea what’s waiting for me

Sure the maps all say there’s a road there. And so what if there’s no Google Street View? How bad could it be? I’ve got wide tires and disc brakes. That should be fine, right? Right.

So off I went.
Continue reading Trans-Outaouais Terror

Numbers or it didn’t happen: measuring success on the internet

Live tweets plus deck from a 90 minute presentation I gave to union communicators at the Canadian Association of Labour Media conference in Victoria June 18-20.
Continue reading Numbers or it didn’t happen: measuring success on the internet

Cut Paste and Post: using open source content management systems

Live tweet of a 90 minute workshop I gave at the 2015 CALM Conference in Victoria about using open source content management systems for union communicators. Continue reading Cut Paste and Post: using open source content management systems