I’ve never exactly been Mr. Supplements. I’ll take multi-vitamins, but I’m pretty unreliable at taking them regularly. Other than that, I started doing an occasional smoothie during the Doctor’s Diet at the beginning of the year. I knew though, that the coming year of Half-Iron training would require some changes. I need protein to build muscle and recover from harder workouts, but most of all, I need it to feel full during the day and help me steer clear of sugary carbohydrate loaded snacks that are too easy to come by around the office and in my life in general. I’d also need to replace electrolytes lost in sweat on longer efforts; simply putting water back into my body wasn’t going to be enough. So I’m glad I’m an Ambassador for Everlast Nutrition which has put me in a position to access both Everlast VP Vegan Protein, and Ever last Fuel.
VP Vegan Protein
I’ve already reviewed the VP Vegan Protein here, but since then, I’ve gotten better at mixing it into smoothies and other products. I’ve mixed it into our pancake mix which I’ll call a success. I’ve used a VP smoothie (just water and the powder) instead of milk on my cereal with fruit. It was a sweeter treat than the usual, but something I could definitely get used to.
I thought that Vanilla/Sea Salt flavour might go well in my coffee, but that mixture was not a success; somehow it just didn’t work taste-wise. I might try again with some coconut oil to make it creamier and add some healthy fat, like a bulletproof coffee.
This is my favourite. Do you remember creamsicles? Orange popsicles with a vanilla creamy filling? Putting FUEL into water makes a sports drink that tastes like that. I’ve noticed a lot of performance nutrition breaks down into pre-workout, during the workout or post-workout categories, but it all gets a little confusing and inconvenient for me. FUEL acts as all three (without too many calories) and I’ve been using it on all my longer runs and bike rides.
I’ve never really gotten to liking the taste of coconut water, but adding a little FUEL mix makes a supercharged source of electrolytes with a much better taste.
Mixing into my coffee might be a little too crazy, plus the diuretic effect of the coffee would probably cancel any good the FUEL might be doing me…
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I think I’ve hit the big times. This weekend (according to my training plan) called for 2 hours of running, 1 of swimming on Saturday as well as a 5 hour ride on Sunday. I woke up at 5:00 AM on Saturday with running gear laid out in advance in the basement. I even remembered hydration for myself.
Ready to roll… before sunrise.
My weather app said the sun wouldn’t rise until 6:30, so I had over an hour to make up my own course that would keep me under street lights. I went towards my office and ran through the industrial areas there. Seeing a truck yard at sunrise isn’t really my cup of tea, but if you want to fit your run in and be available for your family, you have to make some sacrifices. I had a few peaks at a map and I felt 99% sure I could connect back to the Etobicoke Creek Trail once the sun was up. The problem was I would be running beside the airport runways. I got to a point of no return on one of the airport service roads where there were signs saying that you couldn’t go any further… then I saw two cyclists go exactly where I wanted to run. I followed. It was nerve-racking, as I knew there were plenty of police cars patrolling the area; I’d been seeing them all morning. As I envisioned explaining myself to a police officer, my confidence in knowing my local geography dropped from 99 to somewhere in the 80s… Suddenly I recognized a familiar rolling in the landscape and some of the runway lights, and hopped onto the trail for the run home. I thought I’d be over 19 km and find myself trying to go around the block to get 20, but I only clocked 19 once I was already near home.
On my calves, I was wearing lavender calf sleeves by Legend Compression (Disclaimer: I was given a pair of Legend Compression calf sleeves for review purposes, all opinions are my own). I wear compression sleeves while running (and sometimes cycling) mostly to combat Achilles tendinitis and any other calf tightness/injury. What I noticed about the Legend compression sleeves it that the fabric felt very natural and breathable on my skin, like regular socks, and quite unlike most compression wear I’ve tried. That morning was quite cold and though I don’t regret wearing shorts and short sleeves, having a little extra insulation for my lower legs was nice. I could still feel some twinging in the lowest parts of my calf (which don’t get covered by sleeves – which I prefer to socks for the sake of wearing them in a triathlon where my feet get wet from swimming), but I think I weathered my 19 km run better for having worn them.
I was a lucky man that morning, as the kids had slept in, and I found them and my wife cuddled up together. I snuck in a few cuddles of my own and made pancakes (with extra protein from both Manitoba Harvest and Everlast Nutrition). We had a busy afternoon planned, and to make sure it happened, my wife ran errands while I took the kids to L.A. Fitness. The Lightning Kid has been to their Kids Klub daycare a few times, but it was Shark Boy’s first time; I tried to couch it as less than a play centre, but more than a daycare (which he kind of equates with ‘school’), while I quickly got 1150 m (a.k.a 1.15 km) of swimming in to round out the day’s mileage at 20 km.
I got your Fitspo right here..
That busy afternoon, I mentioned? Two birthday parties. The first was a classmate of Shark Boy’s and they went to Air Riderz trampoline park, which also had some climbing features (complete with safety harnesses and helmets). I took the Lightning Kid down the road to a favourite play centre called ‘Balls of Fun‘ where we goofed off and recreated a scene from the old 90s video game Street Fighter II: the Hadouken ‘Fireball’ technique (minus actual fireball).
I collected them from those two venues and shuttled them to another birthday party, with a Frozen (Lighting Kid favourite) theme and bouncy castle. I don’t need to tell you how well they slept that night. As for myself, I had some nerves before the longest bike ride of my life. I had signed up for the Burlington Mountain Equipment Co-opCentury Ride; 100 km in Niagara Escarpment country. I had put out my gear the night before, and I woke up before everyone else. I dressed in my new gear from RODS Racing. If you don’t know, RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome) helps get children with Down syndrome who are currently being housed in orphanages around the world into the loving arms of families who would like to adopt them; the families are ready, the kids are great, all it takes is cash to get around the bureaucracy and logistics. If you would like to help, my donation page is here.
I drove to Burlington’s Hidden Valley Park to find things in full swing; although I was there before 8:30, which I considered early for the 9:00 start, I had just enough time to switch shoes and put the bike together, pick up my numbered bib and take a bathroom break before they wanted us to start lining up on the road to head out; this was around 8:45.
I asked someone in the crowd what their estimate of the number of participants was, and they figured 250. I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only one with a triathlon bike there; I did see one girl with aero-bars on a road bike (much how I used to ride), but I still felt like a freak among what seemed to be a hard-core cycling crowd. The large numbers did make it seem like it would be safer out on any heavily driven roads. The marshals emphasized this was a ride, not a race, and the roads were open to all traffic, so safety first!
The ride started uphill, of course. For the first 5 km or so, I was happy to take an easy meandering pace, but soon it felt too slow. I needed to pace myself to last for 100 km – I knew this, but if the pace felt unnatural, and maintaining it was going to mean taking longer to finish than I was ready to spend on this event, that meant I would have to pass. This is where I seem to have a bit of a disconnect with pure cyclists. They like to ride at least 2 abreast and occupy the whole lane. This is considered the safest practice, I know, because it forces cars to acknowledge that the bicycle is entitled to the entire lane under the highway traffic act. When cars pass, they go around the group in a separate lane. As a triathlete, though, I have an aversion to crossing the centre line, even when there is not oncoming traffic, just because the rules so strictly prohibit it – it can mean disqualification. Plus, it seems dangerous. So I found myself sometimes waiting for opportunities to pass; I don’t think “on your left” is as much of a thing in straight-up cycling.
After some climbing to get over the Niagara Escarpment, there was plenty of flat land to really see what kind of speed you could build up to on flat land. It was a beautiful day, with perfect weather. The first rest stop came at 23 km, and they had bananas, Clif Bars, Pro Bar Base protein bars and Nuun hydration tablets. No porta-potties though; that might have been a little prohibitive for such a small support crew to transport, but I could have used one. From that point, the century (100 km) and 50 k routes split up. That was also the point where I separated from the crowd. Sometimes I rode behind a pair of riders or so, but for the bulk of the ride I was on my own. The course maps they had provided us had a list of ‘cues’ on the back that told you when your next turn would come in terms of total mileage. That came in handy for reassurance, but for the most part I could see the little white arrows painted on the road because they came as such logical junctures. The route was so rural and abandoned that I often forgot that cars could come by. At the second rest stop (48 km) my drink mix (Everlast FUEL with BCAAs and electrolytes, use the code IRONROGUE for a discount), was getting weak from being diluted with the water I had added, so I popped in a NUUN tablets. I have many blogger friends who rave about NUUN, and now I get it. It gave me some nice pep for the remainder of my ride. I didn’t see any of the Pro Bar Cookie Dough flavour that I had promised myself at the second rest stop, and the third rest stop (same location as the first) had run out by the time I got there.
The ride went through so many small villages that I can’t remember the names of them all, but one location I did recognize was African Lion Safari. One of the riders jokingly suggested a detour through there; “What could possibly go wrong?” I asked. Overall on the ride, I had my chain pop off way too much. Other riders suggested replacing the chain, but the bike is still too new. I think the front derailleur needs an adjustment – this is something I have to take up with my bike shop, as it costs me way too much time, and trying to put the chain back on while balancing the bike at the side of the road seems to get a lot harder as my legs get tired. The last 25 km were a bit of a struggle. I can remember thinking at 82 km “I don’t want to do this anymore.” It wasn’t so much that I wanted to quit, but the aero position was hurting my neck and shoulders quite a bit, and to not ride in aero was making the ride slower and ultimately take longer. Still that part of the ride was a net downhill, and all familiar from the ride out, so the kilometres clicked by fairly quickly.
I rolled into Hidden Valley Park after nearly 4 hours of time in the saddle (I paused Garmin tracking during the rest stops) with a big smile of accomplishment on my face. While I was tired, I think my legs would still have responded to the command to run, if I had to, so things are looking up for Barrelman. The local Rotary club was grilling burgers for free and a bike shop had put up a beer tent with a local brew; sadly they only took cash so I have a future date with Cause and Effect by Nickelbrook Brewery.
Century Ride Finisher (minus beer) selfie
I drove home and tried to clean myself up – I had chain grease everywhere: my hands, my face, my legs, the insides of my arms. Then I took the boys to the splash pad; they rode their bikes, showing me maybe someday they’ll be up for long rides too. Trips to the splash pad, long bike rides, birthday parties, swimming, running… I wish the summer didn’t have to end.
What’s the longest bike ride you’ve ever done? How are you consoling yourself over the end of summer?
Bracebridge is a great race; I thought so when I did it 2 years ago, and this year confirmed it. In fact, I’m now wondering what was wrong with me that I didn’t do it last year – what probably seemed like a good reason at the time wasn’t.
I went to bed the night before with pain in my right shoulder, and I woke up with a tightness in my right hamstring, but luckily both were long gone by the time I had breakfast (bagel with peanut butter, apple, and 2 cups of coffee) and hit the road.
Due to logistical concerns that I won’t bore you with, I was travelling to the race solo. Though I love having a cheering section, and there were lonely parts of the day, I did appreciate being able to focus like a laser on being organized before the race. Having gotten to the site with a little under an hour to spare, I still didn’t get everything perfect.
From the “Don’t Do Anything New on Race Day”
Somehow, I had left my Saucony Triumphs in the gym locker room at work, and I couldn’t access it on a Saturday while packing. Luckily, I keep a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders with other running gear in my desk for emergencies (like, I forget to pack running gear) and I’ve used them mostly for treadmill runs. So they were my shoes for race day.
I dropped a lot of cash on aerodynamic hydration accessories. While I also got a double bottle cage for my seat-post, I focused on a hydration system that would let me drink while riding. I’m pretty proud that I got it installed correctly, as I’ve seen pics of some jury-rigged setups in some triathlon Facebook groups that would make MacGyver puke. At least, I thought I had it correct; can you see what I did wrong?
I won’t tell you yet, you’ll find out around the same time I did if you keep reading.
I did do a small swim warm-up to make sure the wet-suit was on properly, but ideally I would have done even more swimming before the race. I crossed the river and back, that’s it.
I hadn’t cleaned and oiled my chain the day before, but I had inflated my tires.
I packed both gels I planned to have on the race course in my race belt, and set up my running shoes in transition with laces untied, but the silly part is that I thought I hadn’t, and ended up fretting over it a little during the race.
Besides actually having a swim warm-up, which never happens to me, the other big hit for me was being able to make two trips to the port-a-potty before the race, and not over-hydrating, which meant not having to take any pit stops during the entire race. Let’s break down the legs:
A view looking toward the Swim Exit
Bracebridge maintained its usual format of having a seeded swim start. You simply line up by bib number. Marshals got everyone organized in batches of about 50 people at a time, and it looked like everybody tried to find people close to them in number so it made things really straightforward. Everyone wore red bathing caps, so there was no identifying your age group by colour, but I still like the format, and I think having different colour bathing caps might confuse people into trying to get into waves. When you reach the front of the line (the end of the dock – you are already in the water), the final marshal calls out your number to confirm (I was 107), and finishes the countdown which is 5 seconds from the previous swimmer and you’re off!
The first part of the swim is with the current. I honestly think the current was negligible; someone had commented that they’d seen leaves on the surface that “weren’t in any hurry”, and I couldn’t see much difference in pace from the downriver part to the upriver part. There was no line of sight between the start and the turn-around, so sighting to the next buoy was important, and also was a great way to prevent collisions, but you didn’t have to sight too often. I had the sinking feeling that I wasn’t pacing myself well, and I had to make a persistent effort to calm myself down and not swim too excitedly, so that I’d have a good pace on the second part of the swim.
On the way back, sighting became nigh impossible. The sun was reflecting off the water and directly into our eyes. Sticking close to the shoreline seemed like a good idea because the current would be weaker, and it would keep me on the right side of the buoys, so as long as I was seeing dazzling sunlit water ahead of me, I figured I was doing fine. Besides a minor bump or two with other swimmers, the rest of the swim was uneventful. I could swear I saw some bikes whizzing by along the river, but when I look at the maps, the bike course did not go past the North shore of the river. I still have issues with the seam of the wet-suit bunching up by my neck as I swim, which causes a lot of irritation and makes me lose time when I stop to re-adjust it. I need to find a fix for that which won’t stop me from being able to open the zipper and take off the wet-suit when I hit transition. I finished in 28:12, and that gives me an official pace of 1:52/100m which I’m pretty happy about. The thing is, that’s based on 1500m exactly; my measurements show 1575m in 27:42 which gives me a crazy pace of 1:46/100m!
Courtesy of MultiSport Canada
My biggest challenge in transition seems to be getting the Garmin off my wrist before pulling off my wet-suit, only to put the Garmin back on again. I just don’t like the idea of the wet-suit getting damaged by me trying to fit the watch in under the sleeve. Other than that, I think it went pretty well, as 2:35 is actually a pretty good T1 time (in fact, it’s a personal best!). I tried to take a sip from the straw of my aero-bottle while running the bike out to the mount line and nearly knocked a tooth out… I won’t try that again.
I was so excited to take Sable (see here for the bike name explanation) out for the first race? Are there words sweeter to say than “on your left”? Again I think race excitement was making me a little aggressive with my pace at first, but I think I brought the pace/effort down well enough without slacking either. As I passed some athletes, I looked at their gear and their muscles and began to doubt whether passing them was the right thing to do. Still, if the speed I wanted to go at was faster than I needed to go to stay safely behind them without drafting, I really did need to pass, didn’t I?
One notable… observation, shall we say? I passed a female racer who’s tri outfit left something to be desired in the opacity department. Remember that Lululemon controversy? They were like that. Now this was a custom kit with a team name or something on them, but I felt bad about the view I had, and again, she wasn’t really going at a speed I wanted to match, so I passed her. Guilt absolved… until I hit a hill and my chain popped off. While I was replacing it she passed me and I went through the whole scenario again. Twice this happened.
See how the front comes into a point?
Sometime in the last 15 km or so, I looked down at my aero-bottle and noticed that the front had a flat surface facing into the wind. That’s not aero-dynamic! I do believe that I mounted it backwards, although I thought I’d prefer having the main chamber closer to me (there are two different chambers which can be used for different liquids, or the inner chamber can be used to store ice to cool the outer chamber… that’s what I did on race day).
My overall goal, one I’ve been chasing my entire triathlon career, is to average speed over 30 km/h. In spite of some tough hills and stopping to place the chain back on the ring twice, I achieved that goal… as long as you count the course as 42 km which it was (thanks to a last minute course alteration that was made for racer safety). In the books (i.e. Sportstats Website) doing a 40 km course in 1:23:09 makes for 28.9 km/h. Drat.
I noticed heavy legs as soon as I dismounted. With my cleats in a new position on the sole of my feet, I was a little unsteady heading back to my space on the racks.
This is where I got two pleasant surprises: my running shoe laces were untied so I could do them up right and quickly, and I had packed the second carb gel into the same pocket as the first (instead of on the opposite side, as I intended), but I still had it on me and wouldn’t waste time going to my tri-bag (which was off to the side, as Triathlon Ontario rules dictate, which I found out at Lakeside last year). I forgot to wear my visor, but ate the carb gel on the way out of transition. Time elapsed: 2:13. I should have gotten that under 2 minutes.
My legs were still heavy as I headed out of transition, but I knew that would pass, more or less. I was 3 for 3 on being a little aggressive with pace at the start; I could see my heart rate was too high, and I wanted to finish strong. The run course was quite enjoyable as it followed the river and trees provided plenty of shade. There were plenty of aid stations with water or HEED available every 1.5 km or so. By the time I was 3 km in, I felt quite settled; my pace seemed to be hovering close to 5:30/km, which was better than I expected. My legs were hurting, but I noticed that they were still responsive – when I told them to move, they moved and I kept good form.
As I closed in the last few kilometres, I saw the promise of a 55 minute finish, but again, the course was a little long, and I completed 10.43 km in nearly 56 minutes. I had thought about doing a cartwheel or something goofy across the finish line, but when you’re chasing a time goal, there’s no room for fooling around.
Courtesy of MultiSport Canada
I had two goals for this race overall going in, and beforehand I thought they might be at odds with each other:
Use it as a ‘B’ race to work on transitions and other race-day logistics
Beat my previous time at this race, and maybe, thanks to a heavy training load this season, achieve a Personal Best for the Olympic Distance.
I’m really happy to have achieved both of those things. While the new PB makes me happy, I needed the confidence that I know what I’m doing in terms of technique and strategy to carry me forward to the Barrelman Triathlon.
I’ve been wanting to write up about my experience getting an aero-fit at BikeZone Mississauga with Coach (Kris) Kurzawinski for some time now. When I finally had some blog post writing time available, it was shortly before the Bracebridge Olympic Tri weekend, and I wanted to get my announcement about RODS Racing out there first. The next thing I’m going to spend time on writing will be my Bracebridge Race Recap, but fear not! As usual, I have a cunning plan to provide you with the relevant info, without spending time churning out text and photos. I’ve been playing around with Periscope, and though I’ve made some fairly bad (e.g. a live broadcast of a bike ride where you couldn’t hear a word I was saying thanks to wind and vibration), I think this one turned out OK. I think only a few people saw it live, but I figured out how to edit the video so everything is right side up, and put it on YouTube (My Channel – Please Subscribe!). Here it is.
I’m racing in the Bracebridge Olympic Triathlon on Sunday… but that’s not the announcement. A charity I’ve been following (and supporting) for the past year or two, has opened up applications to their team, and on the spur of the moment, I’ve joined the RODS Racing Team.
Donation link below.
I’ve seen first hand how a child with Down syndrome can flourish and thrive with a loving family’s support. I’ve seen it in my own child and in the children belonging to the community I’ve joined. Sadly, in other countries, whether because of cultural bias, bureaucracy, or simply lack of resources, children not unlike the Lightning Kid end up in orphanages, where they won’t know the kind of love that every child deserves, and you can imagine how their development wilts, as they are left in society’s furthest margins. There are sad problems in this world that don’t have easy solutions. This is not one of them; you see, there are parents out there just desperate to adopt these children – but the path to international adoption is not a cheap one. The good news is that this is a problem that money can solve. That’s where RODS Racing comes in. Donations go to helping achieve an adoption for a child with Down syndrome from an orphanage, one child at a time. When an adoption is successful, the next child’s adoption campaign starts. As a member of the racing team, I’m looking to raise at least $2500 for Laura’s adoption. I’ll be racing Bracebridge for Laura, and Barrelman too (probably while sporting RODS Racing Team apparel). Please consider visiting my team page and making a donation. RODS Racing is a registered charity and donations are tax deductible. In addition to this campaign, I’ll also have other news for really cool events from RODS Racing in the near future, so stay tuned here, follow their social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and spread the word for this wonderful cause.
You might say I crossed an item off my bucket list this weekend – the odd part is that I forgot that it was on my bucket list (insofar as I have one). You see, when I was little, my father and a friend rode their bicycles around Lake of Bays over the course of a day. He’d repeated the feat with my mother a few years later, though I had forgotten that little factoid. At any rate, he told me that it was a challenge worth taking on, and I always thought I would do it one day “when I was grown up”.
I was trying to come up with a good long, training ride to do at the cottage when I remembered all this, so it fell to me and Sable to get the job done. I called it “Tour De Lake of Bays” #TourDeLakeOfBays.
The first 24-25 km of the route were very familiar to me, as I had rode them last week. It was a lot hotter and sunnier this time, though. There is bridge construction in Dorset, which made for a good time to text a status update and take a CLIF Shot (chocolate flavour) gel.
After Dorset came the Highway 117 leg, which probably caused me more suffering than any other part. It was very long and unfamiliar, and though I hoped that it would be flatter thanks to how it hewed close to the lakeshore, I was confronted with the same kind of hills I’d been climbing the whole time in my own backyard parts of Muskoka. It must have gotten monotonous and seemed worse than it was, because the Garmin analysis shows I kept up a speed average of over 25 km/h for over an hour.
When I rolled into Baysville, I was seeing familiar sites. I’ve heard stories of people on long bike rides stopping for Starbucks, or Tim Horton’s or whatnot, but stopping at a brewery would take the cake. I didn’t though, since I knew I wasn’t going to be keeping to my projected 3 hour schedule, and I didn’t want to shirk child-minding duties entirely. I doubt the alcohol would have done much for my safety or performance, but it would have tasted SOOOO good.
While being familar ground, the final stretch of Brunel Road followed by South Portage were the toughest. For starters, there was construction on Brunel Road for the first 3-4 km. I had been forewarned about it, but I figured it would be a closed lane or some narrowing; the road was as good as gone!
I didn’t like taking my brand new bike over that gravelly road, but I didn’t have much choice, and taking it easy for safety was a good excuse to take it easy, and give my legs a rest. When I reached the end of the construction zone, I saw a sign that put me a little on the defensive…
The last part of the ride along Brunel takes you by some very pretty lakes; there’s Shewfelt – which is nearly a pond, and Axel Lake (!) which isn’t too visible from the road. I stopped to take a pic of North Tooke Lake (I think) and it’s one of the nicer landscape pictures I’ve ever taken (at least with the help of an Instagram filter).
I finished the ride back at my starting point with a time of 3:17 and texted for a pick-up. I was pretty spent, and even laid down in the dirt for a bit. Being attacked by bugs made me realize that at least I’m in good enough shape to recovery quickly from when I think I’m all tapped out.
Disclaimer: I am an Everlast Nutrition Ambassador and earn commission on sales made with my discount code.
The origin of the term ‘Brick’ for a bike-run workout has somewhat disputed origins, but I’ve always believed that it comes from the heavy feeling in your legs after you get off the bike and try to run – the legs feel like they’re made out of brick. You know what’s been giving me the brick feeling in my legs lately?
Waking up in the morning. The last week I’ve woken up with legs that just don’t want to move, and it’s been disconcerting. I’ve known soreness in my time, but this seemed worse. I didn’t panic about it, since my legs seemed to work fine once I got moving, and by the time I was dressed each morning, I felt fine except for a bit of a tired feeling in the legs.
Even though I got to bed late after a long drive up to the cottage, I felt great the next morning and totally rocked a brick workout on Muskoka’s hills, first thing in the morning! In addition to feeling validated about my recovery strategy, it was my first time taking Sable out on the road.
I rode 30 km with an average speed of 25.9 km/h, which I never thought I’d manage on those Muskoka hills, and I still had enough gas in my tank to run 6 km with a 6:05 min/km pace after that.
Now in addition to being recovered well, I had another weapon. Since I wanted to get a 3 hour ride in on Sunday, I knew I had to start playing around with taking in calories while on the bike. Sable isn’t kitted out with many accessories yet, so I don’t have any bottle cages or fuel boxes (aero or otherwise) attached to it. Instead I wore my hydration pack, and loaded it with Everlast FUEL. I’m a big fan of all-in-one solutions, and though you can take care of hydration, calorie intake and electrolyte balance with combination of drinks and/or gels, this product has BCAAs for the protein to start rebuilding muscle right away as well as vitamins to pre-charge the workout. So if I start sipping it before the ride, or as I’m putting the bike away, I’m doing myself good just as much as when I’m drinking during the workout.
I used the brick to test it out before the long ride. I mixed two packets in about 24 ounces of cold water (measured with the free shaker I got when I ordered two boxes worth of Everlast FUEL). The taste reminded me of a milkshake I had the weekend before from Kawartha Dairy, obviously less creamy and not quite as tasty given that FUEL is not a milkshake made with real ice cream, but reminiscent of a Creamsicle – does anyone else remember those from when you were a kid? Anyway, it was tasty and no problem to digest.
While my long ride (and Half-Iron race) nutrition strategy is a work in progress, I’m planning on drinking FUEL and some water, packing along some gels, and maybe a nutrition bar or two (lead contenders are CLIF and Go Macro).
Getting that 3 hour ride on Sunday proved more challenging. There were threats of thunderstorms that seemed to be zeroing in on the time and place that I was planning to ride. We were going to go visit another cottage on the way home, and I opted to ride ahead on my bike. Altogether it was a good plan that let me get more riding in than one might expect, since with my wife and kids coming along the same route while having left an hour later, I was in perfect position for a rescue when the weather did turn nasty. In fact, I heard the first lightning strike just as the car pulled to a stop in front of me; it was a little shy of 2 hours on the road, and again I averaged close to 25 km/h. My neck was starting to wear down from aero position a little, and I’m looking forward to getting a proper fit in the near future, but again, I felt pretty strong and solid for the duration of the ride. I wish it was longer, but you can’t control the weather.
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In my post announcing my new bike, Sable, I mentioned I had Shimano SPD pedals installed. My rationale was that I wanted to be able to use my existing shoes in a Spin class, as spin bikes tend to have SPD compatible pedals. I had been initially disappointed that I didn’t have such pedals on my original bike as I had been sold a set of Shimano 105 pedals.
The Shimano 105 pedal
The problem was that the bottoms of my shoes had three holes, which would make them compatible with a variety of road cleats, but not the SPDs. There did seem to be some kinds of adapters in existence, but I was never able to find any at local stores (in the very short amount of time I had to drive to stores and shop around).
One option would have been to buy new shoes, but a slightly cheaper one was to re-install the Shimano 105 pedals and buy new 105 cleats to install on my old shoes (the old ones were pretty worn out). I hadn’t had much luck taking my 105 pedals off my old bike with my own tools, so I also purchased a 15 mm pedal wrench; I consider that one of the smarter moves I’ve made when it comes to buying cycling accessories.
The Shimano 105 pedals on the left have some little pads that are better for walking on if you dismount your bike on a long ride. At the bottom left you can see my old cleat. The SPD equipment, you can see is much smaller and doesn’t fit the 3 holes you can just make out on the bottom of my shoe.
For removing the SPD pedals and installing the 105s, I followed this video:
Then I used an Allen Key to screw the cleats to the bottom of the shoes; there was still an outline from where the old ones were, so alignment didn’t seem to be an issue.
I’ll keep the SPD accessories and eventually install them on my mountain bike and buy new shoes for them too – apparently SPDs are intended almost solely for mountain biking. So I don’t meet my goal of having one pair of shoes for both road riding (and triathlon races) and spin class, but the good news is that Sable is finally ride-ready.
I celebrated with a 2 hours 15 minute ride on the trainer while I watched the movie Man of Steel – I think the recent trailers for the sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have gotten into my head. Superman makes for surprisingly good training inspiration, considering he never had to work for his superpowers…
I used to break down these trips into multiple parts, thanks to extensive journals I kept, but I think I’d just prefer to do a single round-up and not just because I didn’t keep a journal this time. I think I’m just going to do a summary by category.
Climb UP! Climbing Forest.
This was one of the cooler adventures we got up to. For adults, there are various challenges to climb up into the treetops, and of course, some zip lines. We didn’t do the adult challenges in favour of accompanying the kids. They each wore safety harnesses with 2 carabiners that got hooked into safety lines that ran alongside each climbing challenge. The challenges were strung together to form an entire course to traverse. At the end of one challenge, you’d unhook a carabiner from the completed challenge’s safety line and hook it into the new, then you’d repeat for the second carabiner, so that in principle, you were always tethered. The kids never got any higher than around 5 feet off the ground, but I guess it’s the principle that’s important. Shark Boy loved it and managed his own safety harness, and while the Lightning Kid seems to be a born climber, he got a little tired about halfway through the course so I let him bail.
Germendorf Zoo/Theme Park
We’ve visited this place annually for at least 3 years now. When we got in, Shark Boy found a dead snake beneath a statue of an elephant, and by the time we were done, he still considered it a highlight. This year I had us navigate toward the ‘Dinosaur’ section before we got too close to the carnival rides and playgrounds that always seem to high-jack the kids’ interest in the animals there. I think I only saw one dinosaur (statue) but we got to see some animals we haven’t seen in prior visits. For me the highlight was a puma, which is not only one of my favourite animals, but this one actually got up and walked around, which is kind of rare for big cats in captivity (in my experience). He did seem to take an unhealthy interest in Shark Boy; at least, unhealthy for the boy – his ears pricked up, he stared, licked his chops, you name it.
We got to see monkeys playing, meerkats, parrots and even pet and feed a deer.
Then it was time for lunch and rides. We shelled out for them to ride these electrically powered motorcycles (they move fairly slowly), which not only gave us a sweet moment of the two brothers riding together, but we actually got the Lightning Kid to ride his own. He did a great job of steering until he’d get distracted by what his brother was up to, and then he’d crash – which didn’t hurt him but resulted in tears from the sudden shock. There was an indoor play area which used to house a ball pit and a few bouncy castles, but they’ve expanded it into a much more extensive play area with all kinds of climbing structures.
I don’t like to make fun of personal appearances, but I have to tell this story. My wife and I were sitting near the ball pit which was intended (according to the signs) for kids aged 0-5. There were kids much older in there, and they were throwing the balls out of the pit and generally making a nuisance of themselves. The supervisor turned up and told them off – and they got off light, because the supervisor was a witch from a storybook, I kid you not. Hook nose, wild and wiry hair, crazy eyes… all that was missing was a wart. I know we weren’t all created to have movie star good looks, but maybe using a brush once in a while… on the other hand, maybe it helps with her job. My wife and I have read a lot of German children’s literature (as children ourselves, we don’t like it too much for our kids) where there is often some kind of boogeyman who comes and gets you when you don’t follow the rules (see here for an example) – so we couldn’t help but laugh to see one of these scenarios brought to life.
Another annual mandatory outing. We had lovely weather, but this year they stopped making a stop near where we were staying, so we had to make a round trip. The food menu seemed reduced too, but at least it’s getting easier to keep the kids safe while they roam the decks.
We rode our bikes through the local forest into the town of Tegel to find a playground. This day was particularly hot, so the shade provided by the trees was very welcome. Shark Boy had been getting over a flu, and I think we overestimated his recovery, because he simply quit well before we could get home, in spite of covering a much bigger distance last year. Still, taken as a whole, I have to call it a successful outing, and hopefully a precursor to future family bike trips.
There’s a Simpsons episode where Germany is referred to as the land of chocolate, so we had plenty of that. I honestly don’t quite understand how Germans stay thin (my observations of people make me think that they’re thinner on average, though I found this on Wikipedia – Canadian men are 2 kg lighter than Germans [who are 6 kg lighter than Americans] on average). They have some good habits like more walking and biking as transportation, not to mention that the evening meal is generally quite light, with lunch being the big hot meal, but still! The bread is made with white flour, the meat is often red; I have a hard enough time eating fruit at home, but with fresh cold cuts and cheeses bought on a daily basis, they really get pushed to the side.
And then there’s my fetish for ice cream made in the image of pasta… I try to eat Spaghetti Ice Cream as often as I can get my hands on it while I’m in Germany since I can’t get it back home. The ice cream is pushed through a press to make noodles, the tomato sauce is actually strawberry sauce, and the grated cheese is either grated coconut, or grated white chocolate. I didn’t get to try any new places this year, but I got enough samples to keep me happy.
My wife and I had two date nights: once at our favourite little Italian place, where they always treat us like royalty and once at Alten Fritz (which has been open, in some capacity or another, since 1410!). We actually went to this restaurant twice: once with a larger group, and once with just the two of us. The first time I had a Goulash made with Wild Boar, and the second time a platter with 3 kinds of dumpling; it was really an eye-opener to how fine traditional German cuisine can be. There’s outdoor seating and even a little forested area with pond that really adds to the ambience.
I used our proximity to the Havel River to my full advantage and I’d packed my wetsuit. I got in 3 open water swims, and since I’ve been doing a lot more than usual pool training, the difference that the open water makes was a bit of a surprise to me. I’m not sure of my technique in open water, but I’ve got the rest of the summer to figure it out. I got 3 different swims in, and one was 1800m, close to a half-iron distance swim. I think I’ll be putting together a post about swimming in an unfamiliar river.
In addition to the family bike ride mentioned above, I got in 3 rides. I knew my cycling training would suffer the most for not having access to a road or tri bike, but two of my rides were with the Lightning Kid, including one that had us out for about 3 hours (2 hours of actual riding) – it was great bonding time for us, and he liked seeing the sights and sounds including visiting a pens where boars and deer are kept. My third ride got cut short by a flat tire.
Running is the easiest form of training to accomplish on vacation. Running with my brother on the day we arrived with jet lag (after an overnight flight) was pretty challenging; I expected to feel tired, but I had this dead feeling in my legs that I wasn’t prepared for. For the first few days in Berlin we had a lot of cold weather and rain so my first solo run was not enjoyable, but I also had nice runs in sunnier weather, alternating between going along the Havel River (and trying, unsuccessfully, to race one of the Steamboat cruises) and through the forest.
In addition to the usual suspects I also got to try the original Budweiser. This Czech lager is nothing like the American brew and I really enjoyed it. There was also Altenmuenster, which I gave 3.25 stars out of 5 and my wife and I both had a Kronbacher Radler. If you haven’t heard of a Radler (Moosehead is making one, for example), it’s a little like a shandy or other beer based beverage. A mix of sparkling lemonade and beer, the story goes that a bar owner was getting cleaned out of stock by thirsty cyclists stopping in, so he found a way to stretch his inventory while still quenching his customers’ thirst – Radler translates to ‘Cyclist’ as it turns out. So of course we had one while on the family bike ride mentioned above.
I’m back from our annual trip to Germany and while I should be typing up a recap of it, or attending to other important (at least, important to this blog) topics, I thought I’d use a Thinking Out Loud Thursday Link-up as a way to clear some of the junk that’s been rattling around my brain lately.
Robots is Good People
Far too many people are still talking about the Zombie Apocalypse and not enough are worried about the Robot Uprising. Not me, I’m going to work on making friends with our future overlords – I’m a survivor like that. The Lily Camera has been getting some attention from outdoor and extreme sports enthusiasts for being able to intelligently follow its user that is wearing a small tracking device.
I had fantasies of making cool videos featuring me swimming, biking and running (not to mention *Burbathlon*, cross-country skiing, maybe mountain biking ) with chase cam footage. A couple of days after I came across the video, I started seeing it everywhere – Facebook friends shared it with me having similar ideas to mine, and I even saw a couple of co-workers watching the video too. Apparently one of the gotchas of drones is how much skill it takes to fly them, so this one having automatic ‘Follow Me’ modes (among others) is something of a breakthrough. I also like how it’s waterproof and portable.
The thing is, with the autopilot feature being so desirable, they can’t be the only ones who have come up with a potential solution. I also wondered if I might want a GoPro or other action cam to do First Person video too, and then have a drone that can mount the camera for the chase cam stuff. I found the Iris, the Hexo+ as well as some highly experimental smaller drones like the Extreme MicroDrone 3.0 and the Nixie.
Of course, these are the serious thoughts of someone richer than me – I need to stay focused on getting my bike up to snuff for Barrelman.
Video Killed The Blogging Star
In a fit of Shiny Object Syndrome/Me Too Disorder (a.k.a Blogger Peer Pressure), I started using Periscope, an app for doing live broadcasts from your mobile device. Tamara from Fit Knit Chick did a great little beginner’s tutorial and you can see it here. I guess I thought I’d do similar content to what I had in mind for the drones and action cam; walking an audience through what I consider to be a fun workout or something.
I started with trying to incorporate a Bike Hill Training/Strength #WorkoutHack, previously seen here. I don’t think the broadcast was terribly good or successful, though people were kind and generous with their ‘hearts’ (which are like ‘Likes’ on Periscope). I didn’t enable a tweet share, and I haven’t found a way to share it now; even by uploading the MP4 file to YouTube (and the file doesn’t seem to be able to play natively on my phone either). You may be able to see the replay if you find me on Periscope (in app, search for apkussma). Based on that initial experience, here are my thoughts on Periscope (and yes, I’m aware of Meerkat, which is pretty similar).
You have to have something to say or show. Either you have a prepared presentation/speech/lecture or tutorial, or your location is interesting enough to provide the scenery giving your audience a show and a way to virtually join in your experience, (for example, a concert or show).
You have to have a good network connection; this rules out doing any kind of swim or underwater video, and if you’re outside your home network (and are unwilling to pay roaming charges), there’s no chance to do a live broadcast. This kept me from doing some Periscope video while in Germany… I could have shown you guys around.
If you want to broadcast action, be prepared for technical hiccups. My broadcast ended accidentally and an error popped up. I’m not sure if it was because the phone was being manhandled by me while trying to ride my bike, or if the phone ran out of memory while recording (you can enable the video to store a local copy) or if it was just a bug. I’m glad I didn’t put too much thought or preparation into it.
With those caveats, I’m probably not done with Periscope, but I think I prefer doing video with Instagram; 15 seconds is enough for a lot of the messages I’m trying to send, and I’m not limited to a character count for when I want to add some extra hashtags (unlike Vine). Here’s an example:
Last but not least on the Video Star front, here’s the official video recap of Spring Into Action 2015.
Mo’ Media, Mo’ Problems (Mo’ Money?)
Both of the aforementioned feelings (desire for a little cash to spend on gear and tech abd Blogger Peer Pressure) have coupled which has me looking at expanding some of the ‘business’ aspects of the blog. I’ve already joined some affiliate programs, you may have noticed some of the links in previous posts. Affiliate programs, Ambassadorships and Partnerships, better advertising are all potentially on the horizon, and yet I constantly remind myself that this blog is a hobby… about my hobbies. I do this mostly to go through the practice of writing, and share my experiences like some kind of glorified post-card. I train, I get outside, and I try to develop my writing ‘voice’ by describing those adventures. I do like to try new things, obviously, so I’m willing to put some effort into the kinds of things more professional bloggers spend time on, but I need to balance that with my sanity, and not make blogging yet another chore. Ahhh… that feels better. See you next time with something more triathlon/family/something related, OK?