The only local store that carries the concussion-stopping helmet in stock is in Guelph. And what better way to get to Guelph than to cycle! Yesterday (Saturday) was a gloriously sunny day. It was a bit on the chilly side when I started out (around -2°C), but I was undeterred. If I plan on cycling through the Rockies, I can’t be a fair-weather cyclist anymore!
I was super excited. It was going to be my first long ride of the spring…and the first ride on my touring bike since the weather turned dark last fall. The first 45 minutes of the ride were absolutely spectacular. Traffic was quiet, the roads were clear of ice and crud, and the sun was warming my back as I wheeled east. And then the following inner dialogue took place:
Me: I’m going to have to stop at Maryhill and buy some nutrition.
Me: (pause) I wonder how I’m going to do that, since I don’t have my wallet with me.
Me: (long pause) Wait!!!!…I don’t have my wallet with Me?!
I pulled to the side of the road and pondered my options. I turned my bike around to head back home…but then took pause and called the bike shop to ask if they would accept an e-transfer. They would. So back up in the saddle I went and enjoyed the rest of the way to Guelph. Though I couldn’t stop in Maryhill to buy food.
The first thing I did when I got to the bike shop was grab a bunch of nutrition from the shelves and hungrily put it on the counter, much to the amusement of the shop owner.
I paid for the helmet and nutrition and headed back to Kitchener, which was an absolute slog. The headwinds were something else. And since this was my first long ride of the season, I’m not in very good ride-shape yet. My average speed to Guelph was respectable; my average speed back home was laughable.
I was fading fast when I hit the city limits of Kitchener. I slogged my way through the city to my apartment. When I was 500 meters from my building, I couldn’t coax my legs any further. 500 meters from home and I was done! So into a parking lot I pulled and stood there gobbling down whatever I had left by way of nutrition. Waited about 10 minutes and painfully pedalled the last few blocks to home.
After a cup of coffee and some sugary treats I felt like a million bucks, and had a huge stupid smile on my face for the rest of the day.
…I cycled to Guelph to buy a new helmet…only to realize that I had forgotten my wallet at home!!!!!!
Okay…there’s more to the story. Last Tuesday (March 19) Trek Bontrager announced a revolutionary new cycling helmet: “WaveCel: the biggest advancement in the protection against cycling concussions.” That is a really bold claim! And if true…it would be amazing! I’ve had two serious head injuries in my life. The first one was back in 1992 in Estonia when three guys took exception to me being in the country. The second one was during the cycling part of a Half-Ironman race…I went ass-over-handlebar and smashed up my helmet real good. I never want to be in that concussed state ever again.
Needless to say, the announcement of this revolutionary new helmet that helps protect against the forces of a rotational impact caught my immediate attention. I started doing some research and asking my cycling friends if they were doing the same. It quickly became apparent that Trek’s claims were being challenged by competitors. According to the challengers, they have not been able to independently replicate the results claimed by Trek-Bontrager. Though they do acknowledge that…
…there is still a lack of an industry-wide standard from third party testing organizations to ensure accurate information for consumers…
So I dithered for a time wondering if the helmet was worth the money. I reasoned thusly. If Trek’s claims are borne out to be true, then the helmet is totally worth it! If the claims are a bit exaggerated and the helmet does not perform as claimed…I still have a helmet that is just as good as my current helmet. In that case, I would have just paid a lot more than I would normally pay for the colour. You gotta admit the “radio-active yellow” is amazing!!!!!
In any case…I did have an amazing training ride to Guelph!
Let’s hope I’m never in a position where I test the claims made about the helmet.
Okay…so I’m looking for songs to listen to on my cross-country tour. Here are the criteria: (1) The song references a province/specific Canadian location, (2) The artist is from the general location I’m travelling through. Since you don’t know my route…just throw all the songs at me, and I’ll choose which ones are most relevant to my route.
Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below…or use this form from my Contact page.
In 90 days (May 31) I get on a plane and fly my bike and all my gear to Vancouver. One of the things I will be doing in Vancouver is presenting a paper with a colleague at the Canadian Society for the Study of Practical Ethics. The paper is a justification for using game theory to teach business ethics. My colleague and I think game theory is an indispensable tool in teaching business ethics. But others disagree. I hope the paper generates a lot of fruitful discussion.
In 95 days (June 5) I get on my bike and start pedalling east. I’ve refined my gear for the trip; I’ve packed and unpacked my gear (ad nauseam) to make sure it all fits on my bike; I’ve researched the best tires for touring; I’ve obsessed over my route and have found target camping sites for the whole trip; I’ve also become obsessed with buying maps; I’ve made business cards to hand out to people curious as to what I’m doing (with the emoji above front and centre on the card); I’ve created a spreadsheet of everything; and I’ve downloaded a trucker app that provides information about every truck stop along my route!
Now I’m just waiting for winter to break so that I can get out on my bike and start putting on some miles before I head west. My taxi driver the other day said that winter will break in mid-march. I choose to believe this, on the assumption that taxi drivers are a wealth of information.
So I’ve been trying to do some planning for nutrition on my trip. As in…how much food will I need to consume a day? Here are some rough calculations.
Let’s assume I average 6.5 hours in the saddle a day.
And let’s assume that I am able to maintain an average speed of 18 km/hr.
Given my age and weight, I’ll be burning around 5500 calories just on my bike for that duration at that speed.
Now…how can I possibly consume 5500 calories in a day?! Let’s try and put that into perspective. This can of Stagg Chili (Vegetable Garden) contains 361 calories. So, to make up a deficit of 5500 calories, I would need to eat over 15 cans of chili a day. Now clearly I’m not going to do that. That would be disgusting and unhealthy. Besides, I wouldn’t have enough room to cary 15 cans of chilli in my panniers.
My concern isn’t so much about how to carry that much food. My concern, rather, is with how to actually consume 5500 calories in a day. I’ll want a wide mix of different types of food. But I don’t think my stomach can actually hold as much food as I’ll need to maintain a healthy weight during my journey. Sure, I can stand to lose some weight…but that is a dangerous game to play during endurance activities.
So apart from just eating sticks of butter, I’ll need to do some serious thinking about nutrition on my trip. Which I begin in 4 days.
I have one month to go before my tour around southwestern Ontario. As part of my training, I cycled to the Pinery this past weekend (July long weekend). It was a thing. It was intensely hot…30 something plus the humidex. And I was fighting a headwind the whole way—which slowed me down and dehydrated me. So that was nice. I made the 130 km journey in just under seven hours of peddling. It was definitely a mental game, but I prevailed. Taking a dip in Lake Huron was definitely a refreshing reward.
Cycling back to KW from the Pinery didn’t go so well, though. It was hot again and I was fighting an even stronger headwind. It was so demoralizing. And traffic was intense. I made it half-way then called it quits. A very kind and generous friend I was camping with picked me up and drove me the rest of the way back to KW. I’m chalking this up as just a bad training day.
I learned some things on this trip:
Hydration isn’t as simple as just drinking water. There’s a balance between drinking sports drinks and water. The received wisdom is that drinking too much
water during intense exercise can mess with your body’s chemistry in a bad way. So drinking liquids with electrolytes is crucial…but there’s only so much Gatorade that my stomach can handle.
Also…buying a lot of Gatorade at service stations will break the bank fairly quickly. So I think I’m going to carry Gatorade powder with me and just buy water from now on…and mix my own drinks.
I will need to be much more dynamic in my planning and goal setting. I must be prepared for bad days of touring. And I must learn not to beat myself up over them. Cycling conditions won’t always be ideal. I won’t always be at the top of my game. Bad days will happen, and I will need to be dynamic in my goals and planning when those days come. Maybe this means cycling 50 km instead of 120. Maybe this means taking an unscheduled day off. Maybe it means hitching a ride to avoid a thunderstorm. Whatever it looks like, I must be willing to adjust my goals and change my plans accordingly.
Training for a tour is very different from training for an Ironman race. I’ve been training…but I feel out of my depths. It was easy to train for the Ironman: I downloaded a training program from some website, and then just followed it. Easy as that. But it’s one thing to train for a really intense day of physical exertion…it’s quite another thing to train for days and days of physical exertion.
I sold my car just over 2 months ago. Previously I had had a car since I was 19. I’ve got to say…I don’t miss it at all. Here are some thoughts:
I have to be much more intentional in the planning of my week. Mostly this has to do with how, when, and where to buy groceries. But this is far from being a hardship…being intentional has helped me focus on what is important to me. Do I really need that 5 kg tub of Nutella from Costco? No. No I do not. I can be happy with what I can fit in my panniers.
I really, really enjoy living life at 17.3 km/hr. Well, that’s the average Strava tells me I travel at. Yes, I live life much more slowly now…but so far I’ve have adapted to it quite nicely. I’m less stressed. I’m less frustrated. And I’m less frazzled.
I am much more in tune with other drivers. My main form of transportation is my bike. So getting around the city means interacting with motor vehicles on narrow streets. I am so much more aware of what other drivers are doing than I ever was as a driver myself. I guess the life-or-death aspect of going up against 5 thousand pound vehicles has a way of focussing one’s attention.
Most drivers are decent, careful folk. Yes there are the exceptions…the ones who are too busy texting to care about the red lights that they run…and yes there is the occasional asshole who screams profanities from their truck as they drive past me…but for the most part drivers in KW are respectful of my space.
I don’t miss the expense of having a car.
I feel great! The 30 minutes of cardio I get cycling to and from work on a daily basis has left me feeling great.
Maybe my tune will change come December and January…but so far I’ve enjoyed life without a car.