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Century

The weather having been nice on Saturday, I sat down with John Crouch's cycling book and planned a Sunday ride. I wasn't sure I was up to a century ride, so I did not plan a pure out and back. I joined some loops that might add up about 80-90 k with the option of cutting the loop and coming back straight down the Lochside or the Interurban Road, and the option of a loop around James Bay or along Dallas towards Ross Bay to top it up. I made the century. Use it or lose it.

Back in the Saddle

After several initial rides after I arrived in Victoria in March my cycling dropped off. I got involved in outfitting the house the weekend that I got it, (April 1 and 2) and then to unpacking and fixing things around the house. I think it has been only two rides in the last three or four weeks.

A Cycling City

In my first three weeks in Victoria - it will be three weeks on Friday - I have been out riding about 8 times including one leisurely Sunday when I rode down to James Bay to see some houses for rent, and a couple of mail runs. I have had a couple of 30 k+ rides and a 51 k ride too.

Diamond Lanes & Hills

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Yesterday Colleen called. She was about the only person I knew in Victoria before I moved and she had agreed to take my forwarded mail. Canada Post wouldn't let me rent a Victoria box from Winnipeg. She lives near Oak Bay, she had to leave for a squash game by 6:15. She gave me directions involving riding downtown on Douglas or Blanshard, then riding on Fort and turning on Oak Bay Road.

I road on Blanshard - a major arterial road, in a diamond lane for cyclists. On Fort, another major artery, the diamond lane is actually between the curb lane - which is for parking - and the 2 middle lanes. I was able to ride major routes without getting pinched by traffic.

The hills in the east end of Victoria are murder though. I am spending a lot of time on the middle ring, and shifting a lot. I think the rear shift cable was pinched on the trip because the shifts at 3-4-5 on the back cassette sometimes just hang. But I got another 15 k and my third ride in 4 days.

The next few days are forecast for rain and I should start looking at houses for rent.

First Rides in Victoria

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It's Sunday night. I arrived in Victoria Friday night and I have managed to clean up my bike and to ride Saturday and today. The weather was good - sunny and 10 degrees. I didn't find my odometer/computer yesterday, and I didn't get a precise record of my distance. I found it today and to my relief it worked after the sending unit and wires had been exposed to wind and spray for 2,500 kilometers.

Fenders

Really, I still have better things to do. Yesterday I accomplished quite a bit toward packing and cleaning up. Today I put fenders on my bike - my Giant Yukon- , to anticipate riding in the rain and on wet roads.

I'll still get wet, but I won't be spraying my crotch and my face with my front tire and my neck and back with my rear tire. It was originally a hard frame mountain bike and over the last three years has been transformed, by tires, gears and other adaptations into a hardy urban cruiser. One of the benefits of my new job in Victoria is that the employer has a bike lockup, showers and change rooms to accommodate people who want to cycle to work. Victoria has dedicated trails including the Galloping Goose, and I should be able to cycle to work without having to travel on major roads. The Yukon is going to become my commuter bike.

Alpe d'Huez

Sports fans - the 2006 Tour de France route is set. News at BBC Sports, Bicycling and the Tour site.

Into the Fall

Mike and I rode Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Friday afternoon last week. We noticed that the sun sets around 8:00 and that it is pretty well dark by 8:30. The weather was good though, still shirt-sleeve warm. I used my urban bike - a Giant Yukon, hardframe with wide, treaded tires. I put some miles on the new saddle, hoping to retrain my right hip after riding on a canted saddle most of the summer.

On Sunday, Mike Steve and I rode to St. Adolphe, about a 70 k ride. It was a warm day, with the forecast for 30 degrees. We rode into a south wind, and back with the wind at our back. We were able to ride at about 25 into the wind except for some open spots where we got hit hard, and slowed down to 20, 15 on gravel. I used the Giant and was getting a bit tired by the end. I had been leary of switching back to my road bike after last Sunday, and I hadn't wanted to ride it on gravel. I still managed to wipe out in soft gravel on the inside of curve near the bridge to St. Adolphe (minor rash, right elbow). We had a strong thunderstorm last night - broken branches, power lines down, some old elm trees knocked down. It had cleared by morning, and Mike and I rode to St. Francois Xavier. It was a pretty nice morning, light winds, which started to pick up near noon. We could really notice the variations in the storm's impact as we rode, from the number and size of the broken branches on the road. The storm seems to have struck hard across parts of River Heights, Wolseley and the West End, with less impact further west, past Omand's Creek. I rode my road bike today, and I didn't have any more of that unpleasant tingling in my leg and side. I had raised the seat before the ride and raised it a touch more a few k into the ride, for a smoother feeling on the downstroke. I am pleased to say that I have managed to ride 70 k on each of two consecutive days. Mike was trying out aero bars on his bike. He rides in an upright position and has been pounded by winds. It seemed to let him tuck and ride much more efficiently into the wind.

We have a plan, involving a visit to my sister Joyce, in Portage la Prairie, in a couple of weeks. Portage la Prairie is 90 k from my house, riding straight out of Winnipeg on Portage Avenue to Headingley, and then switching to Highway 26 at the White Horse near St. Francois. We ride, there, have dinner, visit, sleep over, and ride back. We haven't been sure how centuries on consecutive days will work. I am getting more confident.

Four Centuries

So far this year I have made a 100 k + ride 4 times - as have Mike and Steve. St. Francois Xavier and Highway 26 on Canada Day, Niverville on July 31, the Muddy Waters Ride through East Selkirk and Bird's Hill Park on August 14, and East Selkirk last Sunday August 28. In spite of rain, I have kept up with the distances I rode last year.

There have been some complications. I had an odd feeling in my right hip and a little pain in my right knee most of the year. I tinkered with my seat height and seat alignment on both bikes, and with cleat position before finally noticing that the seat on my heavier urban bike had actually worn out and canted down on the right. I realized that I had not been having those problems when I rode my road bike. I replaced the seat on the urban bike last week. I suspect I had mild bursitis in my right hip, from the uneven position of my hips on the saddle. Having fixed that - but not recoverd or healed yet - I ran into a new problem. I changed the stem on my road bike from a 70 mm extension to 90 mm. The next time I rode that bike - last Sunday, I had intermittent tingling in my right leg, radiating into my right arm. That seems to be a stretching issue, getting loose before getting on the bike, watching my posture, getting accustomed to the changes in my body position. I did a hard sprint up the Arlington Bridge, twisting my neck to look for overtaking traffic, early in the ride. That may have aggravated my sore hip enough to set off the tingling.

Live and learn.

Summer?

It hasn't been a good summer for bike rides. Through most of June and early July, it has rained on Sunday. Some weekends we have managed to ride on Saturday afternoon or managed a shorter ride in the 35 k range on Sunday, but we have missed our longer rides. We did a metric century past St. Francis on Canada Day. Mike and I rode to St. Adolphe with Clint on a muggy hot Sunday morning July 10. We finally had a dry day and Mike, Steve and I rode to Lockport yesterday (Sunday July 24).

We have managed to get 2 or 3 evening rides during the week, and we are pushing those into the 35-40 k range, so we are actually getting decent distances and maintaining our fitness, slowly improving our peak and average speeds, riding longer and faster into adverse winds.

I have been concentrating on small adjustments. I change the cleat position in my shoe, raise or lower the seat by half a centimeter. Yesterday I changed the alignment of the seat and the seat angle on my road bike during the ride, and when I was finished I changed the position of the brake levers for a better riding position when I ride with my hands over the levers - a good position for harder riding without going down on the drops. I have been learning what feels right, checking against stress and joint pain, changing things when knees or hips hurt. So far, so good.

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