2021 Tour de Victoria

We’re back at Dad’s place right now. Ian’s nearly comatose and I’m not much better. 😊 We managed to be organized enough to successfully participate in the ride (much anticipated, delayed from 2020).

I was up at 5 and got ready for the start of the 140 km distance at 7:30 am. To my extreme disappointment, when I got outside with my gear and my bike, it was raining. I looked at the forecast and nothing was indicating rain, so I girded my loins and drove down to the start. By the time I got there, the rain had stopped and I didn’t see any more rain for the day. The weather got better as the day wore on.

My ride was uneventful. I kept with the leaders up to Wale Road on the Old Island Highway but then dropped back along the Lagoon and out into Metchosin. I was mostly solo once I started climbing Humpback Road so I took my time and stopped to give Stephanie a hug in Langford and stopped in at aid stations. It’s so hard to rein in the tendency to go hard when I’m on my own. I finished in five hours and 13 minutes.

Taking off again after saying hi to Stephanie

Ian rode the 45 km route for the first time, and Dad dropped him off at the start. Ian had time to take some nice photos of the scenery as he was waiting for the start.

He killed it, doing the 45 km in less than two hours. He had lots to say about it in the car on the way home, from the older man in front of him yelling at some oblivious pedestrians to the extra hills he had to climb to the 45 turnaround not being what he expected. He also didn’t think much of the meal afterwards.

Having lunch by the fountain

Here is some video of Ian crossing the line.

Day of Rest and Prep

After our long, long day in the car yesterday, Ian and I got a chance to decompress a bit today. We managed to get some good sleep on the air mattress (despite Ian being a bed hog 🐷). We cleaned and lubed the bike chains first. Then while Dad went to have coffee, Ian and I got haircuts at Danny’s and then stopped by Jackson’s new store just down the road from Dad’s.

A lunch with Dad and then Ian and I headed downtown. We parked near the Harbour Air docks and then went to Murchies and walked over to the registration check in at the Trek bike store. It’s a lovely day in Victoria today. Let’s hope it’s as nice tomorrow.

When we were back, we pinned the numbers on our jerseys and bikes and then checked them out in the parking lot. We’re pretty much ready to go for tomorrow’s ride.

Tonight we are going over to Jasmine’s restaurant for dins with Steph and the gang.

Updated

Here’s a picture of the group at the restaurant.

But even better was the van outside decorated with Totoro.

Fun with Tubeless Tires

Tubeless bike tires are an innovation in cycling that started in mountain biking and has percolated towards higher-pressure road tires. Right now, most road cyclists still use a traditional inner tube to hold in the air inside the tire that provides structure and tread. Myself, I mostly use tubes, but when I needed to replace my Roubaix’s tires before the Badlands Gran Fondo, I elected to try tubeless again. Tubeless promises:

  • Fewer flats since the sealant inside will fill small punctures,
  • Eliminating “pinch flats” caused by hitting a sharp edge and pinching the inner tube, and
  • Being able to run at lower pressures which is more comfortable on the road.

The start of the 2021 season was full of punctures for me. I think I had 5 or 6 over the first month of the season. And it was even worse, thanks to the bike parts shortage from COVID. I found myself patching tubes instead of replacing them. But since late July, I’ve been riding a set of Specialized 2Bliss tires and I’ve not had any punctures.

That’s the good part. The bad part is that my tires have been going flat overnight. They leak enough air slowly that they go softer over the course of a ride and are down to about 10 PSI in the morning. It seemed like it was getting worse, too. I went for a 4-hour ride to Bragg Creek yesterday. I started at 95 PSI and ended at 50 PSI. With the Tour de Victoria coming up, I am worried that my tires might be effectively flat before I finish the ride.

I am in the middle of trying to solve the problem right now. The short version: I don’t think I added enough sealant to my tires the first time around, and the sealant dries out over time (making the problem worse, as observed). I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I only put 20 mL of sealant in each tire originally. I added 20 mL more last night, inflated to 80 PSI and then left them for 2 hours. After 2 hours, they were down to 40 PSI. 😭 I did some research and I did a “bubble-test” in the bathtub this morning. To my surprise, it looked like the bubbles were forming on the sidewalls. I expected them along the bead or maybe at the spokes or valve. A little more research found that some tubeless tires have a thin sidewall and air can escape. The solution: more sealant, applied properly.

I have added 40 mL more to each tire and made sure to coat the insides well. In an hour and a half, we’ll see if I was successful. 🤞

Updated

I think that was successful. I’m doing a longer test now, but the pressure in the tires was much higher after 2 hours than it was previously. My way to measure isn’t very accurate, but I think it was only a drop from 80 to 70 PSI. I’m doing a five-hour test now.

Busy Sunday

Talk about a day that was full. Too full. Now we have to go back to work!

The most important thing happened early: Tammy found out how to get access to our immunization cards from the AHS. All of our cards, including Ian! That is the best news, because we didn’t know if/how we would get his. Miranda has a learner’s license and so has a verified My Alberta Digital ID like Tammy and I do, but Ian doesn’t. But when Tammy showed me her phone triumphantly this morning showing Ian’s card, I yelled “Print it! Print it!” 😁

The next step was ordering a laminating machine, of course. And thanks to our modern world, it arrived just after dinner. Now I have Ian’s card and my card in my wallet, all ready for our trip to BC.

Tammy laminating our set of cards

Paling beside that is the fact that I had a great club ride this morning. The only complication there was that it was the Calgary Marathon today, and the route went through Bowness, right in front of Bow Cycle. It made it a little tricky for our groups to get in and out, but we managed.

Me with my “biker” buddies: Ignacio, Phil, Liz, me, Todd, Hannah and Lee. Wing took the picture.

And lastly, another Amazon package arrived tonight: a set of wireless microphones. Yes, we have reached the “karaoke” point of the pandemic, folks. It’s a sad state of affairs. 😂

New wireless mics, plugged into my Roland keyboard amp and fed by the Apple TV

Tammy, Ian and I had some fun with that this evening. Well, Tammy and I had more fun, I think. Ian’s voice kept breaking. It was funny.

Alongside all of that,

  • Tammy went grocery shopping
  • Tammy did some preparation for a talk she will be giving next month for ATESL
  • I did some programming on my “BookFramer” app (more on that later).
  • And Miranda’s at work. That’s why she missed out on karaoke.

Ride with Ian

We’re only two weeks away from the Tour de Victoria (assuming all goes well with COVID) and Ian’s been good about ramping up his riding. He’s been riding with me and also on Zwift once or twice per week.

Today was a test: he and I rode to downtown and back: 43 km. He did great, so he should be fine for the 45 km Tour de Victoria distance. We took time to go and look up at the Suncor and Bow buildings.

Last Ice Cream Ride of the Season

And it was a special one: Miranda was at the ice cream shop.

I led out the “Spicy B” group and warned them there would be lots of hills. 😈 I had ridden parts of the route before, but never the whole thing so it was new to me too.

Yours truly and my group: Mark, Ron, Lee, Brenda, Rick, Richard, Phil and Jarek

We got to Abbey’s just before 8. We were the first group to arrive. I was surprised that Miranda was the only one behind the counter, but another girl (Sienna?) showed up. She was on break. As more and more groups of cyclists showed up, the line grew out the door. Eventually Abbey herself and another fellow showed up so that there were four working and then the line moved well.

Miranda holding the fort

We ended up being quite a crowd.

And earlier in the evening, Tammy and Ian went to Abbey’s and got some milkshakes. Tammy took this picture as Miranda made their shakes.

First Fondo in Almost Two Years

Is summer 2021 a step on the way back to “normal”, or just a false hope? Only time will tell, but something “normal” happened today for the first time in almost two years: I rode the Gran Fondo Badlands in Drumheller.

It was a good day. The event organizers had moved the date from June to August in the hopes that COVID restrictions would be lifted enough to run. As it turns out, with vaccination rates being what they are, Alberta is reopened and the event went on. We all were worried that the weather would be 36 degrees and windy but the weather has changed and it got up to about 25 degrees with light winds, which was almost perfect.

The baconsaurus station in Wayne

There were a dozen Bow Cyclists taking part, and I had agreed to ride with Phil, and he’d arranged to ride with Derek and his wife Sandy. And then we met up with Moe and Jason and we became a group of six riders working together. I was a little apprehensive about riding with Phil and Derek, as they are very strong this year, and the pace was high: I finished in 5:15, which was 25 minutes faster than my previous fastest time. I was strong enough to keep up, at least until the last aid station. The group had only stopped at the Wayne station and Dorothy station and the 160 km turnaround. From the turnaround it was 51 km to the end, and the last aid station was only 11 km from the end. The group wanted to push on, but I wanted a break and a stretch so I let them go and I stopped and filled my bottles and had a cookie before riding solo to the end.

It wasn’t a race, but there was timing. I finished 52nd out of 127 doing the full 162 km, and 16th in my category. If I’d really cared, I wouldn’t have stopped for the cookie. 🍪

It felt good to take part in a ride like that. Assuming all goes well, Ian and I should be in Victoria for the Tour de Victoria the first weekend of October. 🤞

First Gravel Ride

Tonight was my first time out with the club for a gravel ride. First off: what is gravel riding? It’s basically going and riding the unpaved roads. There are a lot of unpaved secondary roads in Alberta, so much so that if you want to see anything away from the highways, you’ll want knobby tires to do so. If you want to know more, this Bike Radar article will fill in the gaps.

The ride was a tough one by club standards, and for it to be my first ride was… challenging. I did okay. Wasn’t too brave on the downhill sections with loose gravel. I was plenty dusty by the time 50 km was up and we rolled back into the parking lot at the Golden Rod community hall.

The group. Chris Roy took the picture and Brett was beside him, so not visible. I’m 2nd from right

The sun was setting in the smoke by the time we were done. Tammy met me outside with the hose (at my request) to spray me down, because I was dirt from tip to toe.

Try again next week.

https://www.strava.com/activities/5709028482

Updated

Adding a picture of my bike after the ride to show how dirty it was.

For the record, the people in the photo are, from left to right: Luke, Dave D., Warren, Liz, Liz’ hubby, Justin, Peter, Mark, Todd, Dave R., Christine, John, Simon and Richard.

New Bike: Gravel Edition

My Norco Search XR S2 arrived at the shop yesterday, but I was too tired after the Road to Nepal club ride. I went down to the shop with Ian this afternoon and brought it home.

It’s a novel experience: 42mm wide tires and a steel frame. My first steel framed bike since my Kona Hahanna and first road-ish steel bike since I was a teenager. I think I’ll take it on the ice cream ride tonight. 🍦 It’s the last Monday of the month.

Updated

Here are some photos from the ride tonight.

As I thought: it was a novel experience. It’s heavier than my road bikes and the tires are harder to push. I worked reasonably hard tonight, but for the riders with me on road bikes, it was a chill ride. But this bike rolls over everything. I found myself not caring if there was gravel on the road or cracks in the pavement. And I found excuses to dart off onto dirt paths or just about anywhere I wanted to go.

The other ride ambassadors have dubbed the bike “Blue Steel” already.

Moraine Lake Ride

Today was the Bow Cyclist Club ride from Banff up the Bow Valley Parkway. I did this ride in 2019 as an unofficial ride with some cycling friends from the club. Last year the club made it an official “event ride”, but I couldn’t make it because I had that weird chest pain. This year, I was good to go. The only problem was the air quality: the forest fire smoke had rolled in from BC in the last few days. In fact, this morning, the air quality was a 9 in Calgary, after being better yesterday. But I drove through fog, smog and low cloud this morning and wonder of wonders it was clear and sunny in Banff.

There were three ride distances but that expanded to four: 60 km to Castle Junction and back, 120 km to Lake Louise (town) and back, and 144 km to Moraine Lake and back. An additional route was pushed for: 130 km to Lake Louise ski area for a free beer. Turned out that was a popular option. 😁

I joined in with a group heading to Moraine Lake. We started out quickly and stopped in Johnston Canyon. Tammy had texted me to see how it was going and I surprised her by letting her know how nice it was.

Look! Very little smoke!

The weather stayed nice and it was a good ride. We stopped for water and washroom break in the town before starting our climb up. Unfortunately, my front shifter chose that moment to break. I couldn’t shift onto the small ring on the front. I was facing a climb up to the lake without being able to use my lower gear ratios. I was not sure I could do that, but I made it.

Here’s some video that Rob took as we rode along the Parkway back to Banff. In order of appearance: Amy, Rick, Richard, Eric, Colette, Lee, me, Brenda and Bob. Brenda is 99 pounds soaking wet and about 4′ 10″. Amazing that we can take part in the same sport, eh?

We made it back to Banff around 3:30. Other groups (like those that went to the ski lodge for beer) got back before we did.

I drove back to Calgary and plowed back into the horrible air quality. I was sure glad it wasn’t like that when we were riding.

Going to have to get that shifter fixed!