Monday, June 29, 2009


I’m starting to think that I should have called my blog the “Monday Morning Cyclist”. Seems I can never get around to doing my post-ride write-up until I get to work and actually have some free time (Shhh! Let’s just keep that between you and me). Anyway, better late than never.

1200km and mission accomplished
A quick pause for a picture at the 1200k mark.


Celebrating 1200 kilometers
Post-ride, celebrating my 1200km.

This was a milestone weekend for me on the bike. If you’re one of the millions of faithful readers who’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I started this year with the target of riding at least 1200km in total in 2009. I’m happy to report that during my 105km ride on Saturday, I surpassed that goal, and finished out the day with a total of 1225km. Now I realize that a lot of you probably don’t consider 1200k a lot of mileage (in fact thanks to Twitter, I know of at least one person who doesn’t seem too impressed), but if I can put it in context, maybe it will make more sense.

Over the last number of years, I had kind of gotten away from my bike a bit due to various other personal commitments and priorities. While I always continued to ride, I wasn’t doing a whole lot of it. In more recent years however, I rediscovered my bike and the joy of cycling so I’ve been gradually riding more and more. Last summer, a friend and I each set a goal of riding 1000k. I achieved that goal of course, but I got off to a much later start at it than I did this year and I really spread the distance out over the summer. It wasn’t actually until mid-September that I surpassed the 1000k mark, and I finished out ’08 with a total of 1054k. Based on that, I decided this year to push the envelope and try for 1200k. After a much earlier start and a much greater commitment to riding, and here I am…end of June and already over the top. With a solid 3 months of good riding weather still to go my next step is to reset my goal and see what I can do for the rest of this year. More on that later.

Beyond reaching my goal, this Saturday’s ride was better than last weeks’ disaster, but I have to say that I still struggled a bit. My lungs are great, but I just can’t seem to find the right power in my legs. Now I realize that I am not training properly and I’m sure there are lots of people more than willing to point that out as the reason for my lack of power. I’m really not that concerned about proper training as I’m not really training for anything in particular. What I find frustrating though is that I seem to have so much less power now than I did when I had only 400k under my belt. A couple times on Saturday, I really had to yell at myself to push. Mind you, the first half of my ride was into a headwind, but even so, that’s nothing new.

The good news is that I didn’t bonk like last week. I took everyone’s advice and followed it as closely as I could. I drank…and drank…and drank through the entire ride, fired back a GU2O gel just before the halfway point, stopped for a quick PowerBar lunch at around 60k and even gulped back a half-liter of chocolate milk with about 25k to go. I felt a lot better and my legs didn’t tie up in knots, but I still only managed to average 26.2 kmh over the 105k. That’s not bad I guess, but it’s still only 2 kmh faster than last week when I was dying. I actually like to think I’m riding a bit faster than that anyway. A good 30k of my regular route involves a lot of red lights and stop signs as I try to get out of and get back into the city. Of course, coasting to a required stop slows things significantly.

The only two other noteworthy items are more mechanical in nature. Mid-ride, my cycling glasses more or less exploded. I took them off during my little lunch break and as I put them back on, one of the lenses dropped out. On closer inspection, the frame was broken, which was odd because there was certainly no impact that could have caused that. Fortunately, I was able to jury rig the lens back in place and it stayed put until I got home.

More annoying than that though is that my crank set seems to have developed a nasty clicking sound, which has been there really since I rode in the rain during the Ride for Heart. That’s the main reason I hate riding in rain. It’s not that I dislike getting wet. Just seems like every time I do, my bike develops some mechanical quirk that drives me crazy. The worst with this little tick is that I can’t pinpoint it because I can only hear it when I’m actually riding with real pressure on the pedals. It has to be in the bottom bracket though, as I’ve pretty much eliminated the crank, pedal or cleat. Problem is I don’t have the right tool on hand that I need to overhaul the BB. I soon will though, along with new glasses.

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for. I’ve decided on going for another 900k for an even 2100, exactly double what I did in 2008.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Agony of Defeat

If you’re old enough to remember, back in the 70’s and early 80’s, the intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports included a clip of a ski jumper falling on his way down the take-off ramp and spilling over the side. That iconic clip of course became forever linked to what athletes know as “the agony of defeat”. For some reason, that clip popped into my mind while I was riding yesterday and I couldn’t help thinking that I wished I was that guy instead of being where I was. What’s my point? Simply put, my ride yesterday can only be described as a horrible train wreck. That ski guy had it good in comparison.

Sunday's TBN group heading north on Dufferin
Sunday's TBN group on the 116k route, heading
north on Dufferin
It all started out well enough. I showed up well in advance for the 10 am scheduled group ride with the TBN and opted to go with the group doing the 116k route. The weather was great, although the temperature was slowly climbing and it was somewhat humid. We started out at a very slow pace of only about 20kmh and stayed at that for the first 15k at least. On two occasions, I went to the front to do some pacing and turned it up a bit to about 25kmh. Each time I looked back though, no one had grabbed my wheel. I was alone off the front with the group intact about 500m behind. So both times I just sat up and drifted back to the group.

Then the first of my problems began. At about the 20k mark, I started to develop a stitch and that made it very difficult to find a good breathing rhythm. Unfortunately, the next 20k were pretty much uphill and into a pretty stiff headwind, so I couldn’t shake it. It wasn’t until a turn at the 40k mark and a slight downhill respite that the stitch finally dissipated and I got back into a comfortable cadence. Because of my stitch though, I didn’t feel like drinking a lot, which is where my real trouble began.

Over the next 15-20k, I finished off bottle #1 and was just starting bottle #2. I took one sip from #2, but as I went to put it back into its cage, it slipped from my fingers and starting skittering along the pavement. I glanced back just in time to see a guy about 5 lengths behind me go right over top of it. Fortunately for him, he hit it square and the pressure of his wheel popped the top allowing the bottle to collapse. It could have easily taken him down and that could have been messy. He actually apologized for crushing my bottle, but I told him I was just glad he didn’t take a spill. I couldn’t care less about the bottle.

The lower part of the Weston Wall
The lower part of the Weston Wall.
The upper part of the Weston Wall
The upper part of the Weston Wall.
It's as steep as it looks.
Unfortunately though, I lost a full bottle of Gatorade and now had nothing to drink with a good 20k still to go to the rest stop. Over that distance, the first real signs of dehydration started to show. Some minor leg cramps and the first sign that I was losing power. At this point, I decided to try a Powerbar Gel that I brought along, but I honestly have to say that I didn’t notice that being of any real benefit. Just a pile of goop in my mouth that I couldn’t wash down, and no noticeable increase in my energy level.

At the rest stop, I reloaded on liquids, had a bite to eat and drank as much as I could. After a good half hour break though, back on the bike I still had nothing. I stayed with a couple of other riders for a bit, but as soon as we hit the first real hill, I was done. They were gone and there was no way I could muster any kind of strength to stay in touch. And the worst was yet to come.

This particular route returns back south towards Toronto on Weston Road, which has a hill that is affectionately known as The Weston Wall. If I had to guess, I say this hill climbs about 9000ft in probably about a half a kilometer (OK…that’s a gross exaggeration, but you get my point). With nothing in the tank I had no choice but to stop halfway up and try to recover a bit. After a 10 minute break, I jumped back on and forced myself over the top, but that pretty much finished me off. The next 15k, it was all I could do to turn the pedals. I spotted a convenience store and running low on drink again, decided I better pull over and reload. As soon as I stepped off the bike, both of my legs completely knotted up. I managed to struggle myself to a sitting position on the sidewalk, and after about 10 minutes my legs had loosened enough that I could once again stand. I wobbled my way into the store and grabbed a Gatorade for the roughly 25k still to go. During my stop, another rider from our original group showed up at the store, so we finished out the ride together. The rest was pretty much all downhill and with the exception of a few minor cramps was relatively easy. I was indescribably glad to see the parking lot and the end of a 4h45 (riding time), 115.7k disaster.

It was one of those days that I just couldn’t wait to get off the bike, and it’s clear that I bit off more than I could chew. I hadn’t been on my bike in 8 days and I obviously wasn’t ready for the distance. And once you start to get dehydrated, it’s pretty much all over, at least for me. The only good news is that I’m now just over 80k from my goal for year.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How I earned $4.77 with Google Adsense in only 2 months!

Yes, you read that correctly! I earned an incredible $4.77 with Google Adsense in only 2 months, and you can too just by following my easy 3 step program.

Earn Big Money with Google Adsense Today
I know what you’re thinking. “But that’s a lot of money. It can’t be that easy.” Well, believe me when I say “Yes, it is!” In fact, it’s so simple you’ll wish you didn’t wait this long to get in on the action. So what is my easy-to-follow program? Just follow these steps and you’ll soon be on your way to earning big money…just like me.

Step 1 Start a blog!

“Start a what?” you ask? A blog is a basically an online personal diary, a website that lets you write and share your thoughts, experience and expertise with the rest of the world. Now I hear you saying “But when it comes to computers, I’m a moron”. Well, maybe you are a moron, but that doesn’t matter. The best part about starting a blog is that you don’t have to have any background in creating Internet websites. Just go to a site like, sign-up, pick the blog design you like and start writing.

“But what would I write about?” I knew you were going to ask that. You can write about anything you like. It doesn’t even have to be interesting. For example, I write about the ins-and-outs of my year as an amateur cyclist. All you have to do is pick a topic that you know something about and off you go.

Step 2 Sign up for Google Adsense

Google Adsense?!? What the…?” Yeah, I know. You don’t even know what Google is, let alone Adsense, right? Google Adsense is a free program that enables website publishers (like you) to display relevant Google advertising right on your blog and earn revenue from those ads. All you have to do is create a Google Adsense account and follow their easy step-by-step instructions for creating Google Ads. They’ll provide you all of the HTML code you’ll need to place the ads on your site.

Step 3 Wait for the cheques to start rolling in

Yes, you heard that right too. Once you’re up and running, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your Google Adsense cheques to start rolling in. In just a couple of months time, you could be as much as $5 richer as well, at least on paper. You don’t actually get a cheque from Google until you’ve earned something like a minimum of $100, but if you earn $4.77 in only 2 months just like me, do the math. It’s only a matter of time before the cheques start filling your mailbox.

“But I want to earn Google money even faster!” I know you do. Afterall, who doesn’t? Basically, you earn revenue 2 ways...through ad impressions and ad click-throughs. While you can earn as much as 1 whole cent if you get 50-100 ad impressions, the trick is to get your site visitors to actually click on the Google Ads that are on your blog. That’s how I’ve earned so much. Of the now 1,168 impressions I’ve had, I’ve had 9 click-throughs for an incredible click-rate of 0.77%. “Whoa, that’s a pretty big number and you’re an Internets expert”. Actually, no I’m not. I’m just a regular person like you. If I can do it, so can you.

So what are you waiting for? Start my program and start earning today.

Stay tuned for my next article when I take an in-depth look at the greatest invention of the last half-century…The ShamWow.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Two behind the dugout

This was a different kind of weekend for me for cycling. For starters, because of family considerations I didn't get to do any rides on the actual weekend. Unfortunately my wife has been away on business and that left me on daddy duty. Regardless of that, I suppose I could have done some riding as my daughter is plenty old enough now to stay on her own, but I chose to spend my time with her instead of on the bike.

There are really two main reasons for that decision. First of all, she'd prefer I stick around when her mom is away and I'm perfectly OK with that. Secondly, cycling being inherently risky, I would prefer that she not be alone at home if I was to, God forbid, get creamed by a car 50 kilometers from home. Now that probably sounds silly to some people, but to be honest, cautious is my middle name. A gambler I am not and chances are you'll never bump into me in Las Vegas.

The view from behind the Bullpen
The view of the Jays-Marlins game on Saturday
from behind the "Dugout"...aka the Bullpen.
Instead of riding on the weekend, I took my daughter to a Blue Jays game on Saturday, which is something she's been asking me to do for a little while now. The Florida Marlins were in town for an afternoon game, so we jumped on the subway and headed downtown to the Rogers Centre. On our way to the box office, we of course were accosted by more than one scalper with a handful of tickets to unload, so I figured I try one and see if I could get a deal. At first he offered me up a couple at $60 a piece, but that was way more than I wanted to spend. As soon as I nixed those however, he offered me another pair for $40 a piece in the first row behind the "dugout", even though the face value said $31. He gave me some song and dance about that being the season ticket price and I figured that that was at least pre-tax anyway so $40 was probably about right. I paused for a minute and then offered him $60 for the pair to which he immediately agreed. Transaction completed, we headed inside with me thinking I did a pretty good job of knocking the guy down.

Inside though, it turned out our seats weren't behind the dugout, but behind the bullpen beyond the right field wall. At first I felt a bit burned, but in retrospect he may have said "bullpen" and I just got mixed up.'s pretty much all the same to me, not being a big baseball fan and all. Still, the seats were pretty good and I could've paid $80 for them instead of $60. And believe me, that extra $20 came in handy when it came to buying a couple of hotdogs and some Cokes. It actually turned out to be a pretty good game (even though the Jays lost again) on a great day for baseball.

I daughter ride horses.
I daughter ride horses.
Sunday meant taking my daughter to her equestrian lesson up north, so a ride was out of the question for this morning as well. And for the afternoon, some household chores were on the agenda. In addition to missing my regular Sunday ride, I also missed my scheduled Tour de Grand down around Cambridge which I signed up for a number of weeks ago. Unfortunately I signed up for it before I knew my wife's travel schedule, but it was only $15 for a good cause so no big deal there.

The good thing was that I did know my wife's travel schedule early enough to foresee that I wasn't going to get any riding in on the weekend. So my only option was to take advantage of the fantastic weather we had on Friday and blow off work for the afternoon in favour of a ride. Now if you recall, I mentioned in my last post about how I felt my ride last Saturday was my worst ride of the year. What a difference a week makes. This Friday's 83.4 km in just over 3 hours may have been my best of the year. I felt great from start to finish and even had reserves in the tank when I got home that could have carried me another 30-40k easily. I just ran out of time and had to get home. The other great thing about this ride was that just before the corner back onto my street, my odometer clicked over to the 1000k mark for the year. I didn't see that happen last year until sometime in mid-September, so I'm way ahead of schedule for my goal...which now looks to have been set a little low.

Better to aim low and succeed than aim high and fail I guess.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

..99..100..Ready or not, here I come.

This is an entirely new concept to me so let's hope I'm doing it correctly. Looks like I've been tagged by Weiland, which means I'm it and must now tag someone else. Groover... you're it!

This particular meme was started by Fat Lad, and the idea is based on the “my old mother went to the market and bought” memory game. Only in this case, each blogger in the thread lists something that was bought at the LBS in June. Here’s the list thus far, with my addition at the bottom:

  1. Fat Lad went to the bike shop in June and all he bought was: A new PC971 Sram Chain and a Cassette Spanner and a chain wear tool.
  2. TOB went to the bike shop in June and all she bought was: a new pair of ruby red Sidis and some X-Series Cleats (but it’s only the 4th!). (Editors Note: Surprise, Surprise…a lady cyclist bought shoes…Ruby Red no less…LOL!).
  3. Mike J went to the bike shop in June and he bought two Gel Flasks and some Handle Bar Grips.
  4. 331 Miles went to the bike shop in June and he bought a pair of Performance Ultra II Bib Shorts.
  5. Biking To Live went to the bike shop in June and picked up a new tube and CO2 cartridge.
  6. Weiland went to the bike shop in June and looked at clip on aero bars. However, I bought a dozen CamelBak Podium water bottles from Bonktown.
  7. Roadrash went to 2 bike shops in June and, in preparation for the Ride for Heart bought 2 new 700 x 23 Bontrager RaceXlite folding tires (Trek Toronto) and a new tube to replace one I popped while inflating (Spokes and Sports).

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Ride for Heart and other weekend cycling

It seemed like a long time coming, but yesterday finally marked the running of the Becel Ride for Heart in Toronto. I say it was a long time coming because if I recall, I registered for this event back in February when I hadn’t so much as turned a single pedal for the year. In that time, I managed to raise $355 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. That might not seem like a lot but it’s probably about $330 more than I’ve ever fundraised before. Unfortunately, separating people from their money is not something that I’m particularly good at. Compare my total to that of the top individual fundraiser who, according to the Ride for Heart website, raised over $29,000. Regardless, I’m more than pleased that I managed to come up with my amount and big thanks go out to all of those who supported me.

Ride for Heart 75K Route Start Line
The 75k route riders gather at the start line of the 2009 Becel Ride for Heart.
Ride for Heart 75K Route Start Line
Looking back at the rest of 75k route riders.
Ride for Heart on the Gardiner Expressway
About 8 km in, no real groups had formed yet under the
gray skies of downtown Toronto
Now before I go into the details of the ride itself, I’ll start with a recap of my lead-up. The week leading up to the event started of course with my semi-crappy riding weekend last week, when I only managed to squeeze in 66km, due mostly to the semi-crappy weather that has gripped southern Ontario this spring. Then when the early forecasts for yesterday came out last Monday, the call was for more of the same... wet and cool. I kept an eye on it hoping it would change as the week went by, but nothing doing. With rain apparently a lock for yesterday, I thought it might be time to pick up a couple of new tires. After 3000+ km over the last 3-4 years, my tires were wearing thin and I didn’t relish the thought of riding in the rain without any real tread to speak of. So off I went to the local Trek store and picked up a couple of 700 x 23 Bontrager Race X Lites.

I switched out my tires and decided my bike needed a tune, so I cleaned and re-lubed my drive train and repacked my bearings as well. Unfortunately, it took quite a bit of fine tuning to get things back to normal, and I actually put about 4k on the bike just going back and forth in front of my house trying to get it just right. Finally though the bike was ready for the road again and come Saturday, I decided to go for a little shake-out ride in prep for Sunday. It was relatively warm and sunny and I looked forward to a solid ride. Now if you read my post-ride twitter tweets, you already know that didn’t work out so well. I managed to do 70k, but I have to say of the now 900+ km this year, those 70 may have been my toughest. For some reason, the bike just didn’t seem to want to go. I did a full 40k before I started to feel good, and that only lasted for 20k. For the last 10, I was back to feeling like crap and I struggled home as best I could. I felt like I was carrying a gorilla on my back. At first I thought maybe the new tires, with new tread, were causing increased road friction, forcing me to work harder but that was really just grasping at straws. Whatever the reason, it just seemed like I was rolling through mud. Worst of all, it didn’t make me feel great about what was to come on Sunday.

With a scheduled 6:45 a.m. start time for the Ride for Heart, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:00 and had my pre-ride breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, OJ and coffee. It wasn’t raining yet, but the sky was pretty gray, so it looked as if the forecast was dead-on. I gathered up all my gear and headed off to the start line in downtown Toronto. The 6:45 start was for riders doing the 75k route and quite a few had gathered. Right on time, off we went. Of course, a lot of riders look at events like these as informal races, so they shot off right from the get-go. I was a bit surprised though that the rest of the pack didn’t immediately form into groups. It was a good 10k before I managed to find a group of 10-12 riders doing a pace I was comfortable with. We stuck together until a rest stop at the top of the course at about 30k where the group split up. By this time though, the rain had started and conditions were a bit messy. The rain itself wasn’t bad, but the wet roads made for some tough group riding with blinding rooster tails coming off the wheels up ahead. The run back down without a group wasn’t too bad as the rain had started to subside, but the temperatures had dropped noticeably which made being soaking wet all that much more uncomfortable.

The 75k route meant a second trip up to the top of the course and by this time, all of the novice and ultra-novice riders doing the shorter 25 and 50k routes were on the course. That of course meant having to navigate around a lot of slower riders inexperienced at holding a line, but that didn’t bother me. It was all for charity and not a race so I paced myself going back to the top. I have to say though that it is a tough course for a charity ride. The route back to the top is pretty much 10k all uphill which I would imagine is pretty tough for novice riders. I found the second go pretty tough actually and managed only a pace of about 17-18 kmh. Organizers would probably do well to flatten the course out a bit for inexperienced riders I think. After my second climb, my legs were pretty tight and I struggled a bit on a short but stiff incline with about 20k to go. Once past that though, my form came back and I latched on to the wheel of a couple of guys who paced me the last 10k or so at about 35 kmh. Wet, cold, hungry and mission accomplished, I loaded up my bike and headed home to spend the rest of the day recouping on the couch watching a Band of Brothers marathon.

Much like Saturday, my bike still seemed slower than normal, but I did complete a total of 77.5 k in 2h42, which is better than my average, so it must be just me. Maybe just an off week for my legs and lungs. Who knows? We’ll see what happens next week.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A cycling FAIL… of sorts

I didn’t make an official plan for this past weekend, but I’d have to classify my unofficial plan as an unquestionable FAIL, at least in terms of cycling. It all started I suppose Friday morning during breakfast. I mentioned to my wife that the Toronto Criterium was scheduled for that evening around Lawrence Market in the downtown core and that I was thinking of going down after work to watch. It was a beautiful sunny day and I thought it would be ideal to join in the festivities and snap a few nice pictures. I had planned to go to it last year, but rainy weather made me think better of that.

After getting to work, I sent around an email to a few of my friends to gauge their interest in joining me. I figured we could head down, grab a bit to eat and a beer or two at one of the bazillion pubs that litter downtown Toronto, and take in the race. Due to various commitments, I only had one taker but that was plenty. The plan was sealed. Soon after though, my one cohort told me that his cousin was coming in from Waterloo (an hour outside of Toronto) with tickets for that evenings Blue Jays-Red Sox game. Since he decided to take advantage of that, I decided join in on the game as well. So, the Criterium was out and the Jays game was in.

Great seats at the Jays-Red Sox game
Not the Toronto Criterium but great seats at the ball game.
Boston's Big Poppy gets ready to fly-out again.
This was probably a dubious decision as I’m really not much of a baseball fan. I more or less consider baseball the athletic equivalent of watching paint dry. Mostly overpaid, and from what I can tell, over-weight guys whose maximum athletic expectation is to sprint 90 feet….or 180 if they’re lucky. If they’re really lucky, they get to run 360 feet, but they are only expected to do that at a jogging pace. Regardless of that, baseball has beer, hot dogs, and all the rest of the essential food groups, so it’s good for a chuckle if nothing else, especially when the drunken guy behind you starts yelling slurred obscenities at the poor players. Anyway, in the end the Jays won 6-3 and the Toronto Criterium was missed 2 years running.

Saturday was sunny and warm and my plan for that day was to do a short warm-up ride in preparation for a longer group ride on Sunday morning. I was thinking maybe only an easy 40km, but that quickly turned into a fairly fast paced 66km. It was largely uneventful, except for the fact that Toronto’s drivers seemed to pick this day to reach for a new height of idiocy. Over 66k, I had 4 separate run-ins with drivers doing either stupid or outright dangerous maneuvers. I won’t go into all of them but suffice to say I will be doing everything I can to avoid cycling within the city from now on. Normally I don’t anyway, but I had to ride downtown to retrieve my car from my office, which I left there overnight.

Sunday’s forecast wasn’t promising, but I figured it was good enough at least to get my group ride in. When I got up however, not only was it cold, but the wind was howling again. Like I said before…cold I can deal with, wind I can’t. I could have forced myself out there, but since it wasn’t ideal, I had other things to do including taking my daughter to her equestrian lesson so that my wife could catch up on some work. Besides, I figured I could get in an afternoon ride when it warmed up a bit. By mid-afternoon though, it was even windier and thus colder than the morning, so I opted out altogether. Instead, I stained my deck, a job overdue now for a little while.

So in the end, my weekend of cycling and cycling related events turned into nothing more than a mere 66km solo ride. A great little ride, but a far cry from what I set out to do. My next stop is next Sunday’s Becel Ride for Heart charity ride. And the early forecast calls for rain. *Sigh* The deck looks good now though.