Thursday, March 31, 2011


We have one more indoor class at the Cycling Centre and, as many of you know, riding inside is much different then riding outside.  Expect 2 weeks to pass before you really start to feel the effects of the winter training; this is roughly the amount of time it takes to get used to riding in wind again, the resistance provided by the road, the ups and downs that roads naturally take, and getting used to choosing your gears for the new rider that you have developed in to over the winter.  Changing gears effectively will result in riding more efficiently, staying stronger at later stages of the ride, and being able to better react to changes in speed by your riding mates ... but I'll touch on gear changing in another post.

Since many of the riders in the Cycling Centre have not been outside since before Christmas I wanted to remind you about the importance of tire pressure and using the floor pump on a regular basis.  There are many factors that affect the amount of air that should go in to your tube and I am going to touch on a few of them.

Written on the side of your tire will be the maximum and minimum amount of PSI (pounds per square inch).  If you go below the minimum then you risk a flat tire as the tube does not have enough air/shape to hold it in place and when you go over a bump it can squish between the tire and the rim and result in a pinch flat.  The tube can also burst if the maximum PSI is exceeded as it is already completely stretched and has no give that may be asked of it on a ride.  Flexibility can be a good thing as it will deflect potential particles that will cause a flat, such as a pebble.

Many people think that riding at the maximum PSI is going to result in less resistance and a faster ride, but research has shown that this is not necessarily the case.  

Not only does riding at maximum pressure create a harsher ride as the tire offers less give, but traction is also reduced.  If it is wet outside, or if you will be riding on gravely roads, then reduce the tire pressure to improve traction.  For example, if you are riding a road tire that has a maximum psi of 120 and a minimum of 85, then consider riding around 90 psi for maximum traction; however, take in to account your body weight, ride with more air if you are on the heavier side as your body weight will also increase the surface area of the tire.

Tires should be inflated every time you ride to ensure that they are at the correct psi for the road/weather conditions that you will be riding in/on.  At the very least, check the tire pressure every 3-4 days.  If you use latex tubes you will need to inflate every ride as they loose air quickly.

As I often say to my athletes when faced with different ways of doing things, then try them all and see what works best for you.  Start somewhere in the middle of the recommended range and if it feels too harsh then try a little less air the next time, feel to soft, then add air.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Best Cycling Routes on Earth

Spring is in the air, warm winds are kissing our faces, and the sun is embracing us, so what is it that fills our heads?  Well, riding outside of course!  The Cycling Centre has a variety of riders in it's program, triathletes who will be racing Lake Placid and Wisconsin Ironmen this year, World long course and short course triathlons, road races, centurions, newbies to the racing scene, and adventurers.

Before race season though, many athletes are away in warm climates to get in some outdoor milage and it has gotten me thinking about the best cycling routes in the World.  A quick google search pulls up exotic locales such as Isle of Wight in England, Tasmania, La Farola in Cuba, and of course the epic climbs we see on TV in the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta.  Although I've ridden in many places across North America, this year will be the first time my bike travels across an ocean; however, I have done some spectacular rides on this continent and thought I would share my top 5.

5. Las Vegas, Nevada
Riding may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Las Vegas, but the riding around the city is spectacular.  Lake Mead National Park takes you either up or down and there is a smoothly paved bike path that meanders through the park offering breathtaking views.  Mount Charlestown, on the other side of the city offers completely different vegetation and temperatures as you ride up to a ski hill where the smell at the top reminds you that you have moved from the dessert to the forest.

4. Waterfront Trail, Ontario
The Waterfront Trail is a signed recreational route from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border that is 730 km long and travels through 41 communities.  It is the communities that put this route on the list for me.  The variety of views, rural and urban amenities, and maybe that you don't have to go much more than 25 km before coming across a delicious coffee shop or pub that make it an enjoyable ride.  Best way to travel the whole route is to register for the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure.

3. Silver City, New Mexico
At 6000 feet in elevation and with climbs that are 10 km at 12%, I've always thought this is the perfect place to go for training - if only they didn't get winter!  Riding the forests around Silver City has always kicked my butt, which is probably why it's on the list, I find it challenging.  Mount Mogollon and the ride up to the Cliff Dwellings are musts if you go.  If you like being around other cyclists and have the chance to see some of North Americas best pro road racers, then travel at the end of April and early May to see the Tour of the Gila.

2. Redwood Forest, California
Every been told to close your eyes, take a deep breath and go to your "happy place"?  Redwood Forest happens to be mine.  I didn't find the riding to be all that challenging, and the scenery doesn't change like the other rides mentioned; however, there is something cool about riding at the base of these massive trees, very neat.

1. Bow Valley Parkway, Alberta
I've ridden all over Canada and the States and done some amazing rides; however, this one is still my favourite.  Maybe it's because it was in my backyard and I have many different memories of this route; maybe it's because I've done it in snow, sleet, rain, and sun and survived; maybe it's because I've seen a Bear almost every time I've ridden it, along with Elk, Moose, sheep, and other wildlife; but whatever the reason, this ride is spectacular and everyone should plan a trip to ride in the Canadian Rockies.  This year Calgary will have a Granfondo, though routes aren't posted yet, I'm sure they will go through the rockies and fingers crossed they include the Bow Valley Parkway.