Saturday, June 27, 2015

In Good Shape

This past week has been a good one... my friends and acquaintances have come through in a big way, so far. I am at about $4,000 raised, toward the $6,000 I have as a goal. This commitment is important for me, haven't missed it in any of my G2L rides, and don't want to this year. I hope my emails to folks will pull in the next $2,000 before we leave for Halifax.

On the riding front ... my weight has stabilized at 153 pounds (just about 69kg) with three weeks to go before the ride. That was one of my concerns... being too heavy for good riding... should be fine. 

I have been working hard on my core with planking exercises... will never have a six-pack, but it is stabilizing and should allow me to have a better alignment for the duration of the long ride. I am hoping that that will allow my left knee to be in good shape. It is the weakest link that will limit my distance and power.

I have not been able to ride the road bike much this week. The night rains have come and leave a lot of debris on the paved paths and highways... I have flatted too many times in these conditions... and of course had a blow out... read, danger signs from tyre problems. So I have been going to our club and working on the spin-bike... I actually get more climbing time there... and I get to do some urgently needed reading time... if one hasn't read The Cannibal about Eddie Merckx cycling in the 60's and 70's and what the guys on the tour go through to stay in shape, one doesn't realize how easy we have it today just getting ready for a single ride.

Have been also reading a lot about these new companies like Google and AirBnB that do strategic planning soooo differently than we did it just 10 year ago... it is mind boggling! But the time on the spin bike gets me back into the mode of business... need that! Boredom with retirement has set in!

Back to the ride... I mapped out the Cabot Trail ride this week. I have it in my bike computer and have calculated calories to make up... planning on 10,000 kcal burned and making up about 8,000 during the ride to keep my metabolism supporting my energy needs. I understand there will be personal food drops around the course, so I will prep several drops. I plan on using easy to carry, natural foods like dried blueberries, raisins and nuts augmented with some prepared foods that come from nutrition companies.

There is no telling what the temperature will be, so I don't know what the hydration needs will be... will take electrolyte supplements with me. Also, if it is hot, I will take my camel back and use it to supplement the two bottles I will carry. At this stage, I am a little concerned about adding too much weight. Given that we will start at 0530 when it will be very cool in Cape Breton, and ride through the day into the cool of the evening it is also a big challenge for clothing. 

Will plan to start with a riding, high visibility jacket and leg warmers... and then peeling. Hoping that the support vehicles will be able to carry some of that with them so we can put them back on in the evening... depending on how many of the available 15 riding hours, I will need to finish. Have been averaging around 24 kph for 100 km rides... but plan to back that down given the climbs of Smokey, North and MacKenzie mountains.

Have to wait till the riders meeting to understand the amount and availability of support on the road to know whether to take my full riding tool kit and pump... another weight issue. If there is enough support I will leave tubes, tools and air in a support vehicle. Have been considering having a friend do single support for the tour... no decision yet, depends on what G2L will provide. But that weight, along with the necessary water, food, clothing and so on can make the difference for speed and strength.

Have decided to ride on 25mm rain tyres for this ride. Have bought them... can't remember what is on my bike now (it has been in Halifax since the end of the Ottawa - Halifax ride last fall)... but I think I will put the new rubber on no matter what is there. Have decided on rain rubber because there is a good chance of rain in July. This will also make some significant differences in the ride itself... with rain, I plan to only do the first 100km... descents are too dangerous in wet conditions, doing Smokey in the wet... done that before... is one thing... but the other ones are too much to try.

Lots to think about before packing up. I leave Guadalajara on the morning of the 15th with a series of flights through Atlanta (a red eye), LaGuardia and then into Halifax. Getting to the Belgravia will be a welcome respite after a long trip.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Half way to target weight and readyness...

There is one month left to get ready for the Cabot Trail, 300 kilometer, one-day, dawn-to-dusk ride. About six months ago I started riding again after a knee injury in October took me out of long distance riding, I thought, for-ever. Turned out, for-ever wasn't as long as I thought!

In January I was up to about 172 pounds, still not confident in being able to ride my bike, let alone for 30 kilometers. But I owed it to myself to try... so I got on Lynnda's road bike (I had given mine away)... and rode 16 kilometers to Jocotepec's best coffee bar... I call it JocoJo. I made it, sloppy in all ways, but pain free.

So, I started riding to Jocotepec every second day, for coffee. Most of the guys that I would meet on the road were on Mountain bikes. During the spring, I bought a mountain bike (one built here in Mexico by the Alubike company)... it is a KRBO all carbon fiber model seen elsewhere in this blog. I rode it, and crashed it and went back to Lynnda's aluminum Trek 2.1. It is smaller than I am used to riding (52cm) but I really like the aluminum frame... less stiff than my carbon bikes.

Then, Give to Live announced their 2015 ride... around the Cabot Trail... one of my favorite places to bike... big mountains with great descents. At first I registered for a 100 kilometer leg of the Trail. After I got information that Ron Allen, a friend with whom I had ridden on several grand tours, was planning to ride the 300 kilometers in the allotted dawn-to-dusk time frame. I re-evaluated my ability to take on the task... with 60 days left to train, and my weight at 168. I decided I needed to be at 150 pounds and in much better power shape. With that, I could ride the trail in one day... a Bucket List level challenge.

I took it on and researched fast-track training for power and weight-loss. I started first on the weight loss... stopped all alcohol intake. Stopped snacking... especially the cup or two of mixed nuts I was eating a day, and ice cream bars. Started a protein shake replacement therapy after riding each day. Then I found a strength and core stabilization program. I was on my way. The weight was coming off slowly, but my cycling was not improving.

The rainy season started... it isn't the rain that bothers me, it is the debris that ends up on the roads... I couldn't get a 70km ride in without a flat, no matter how careful I was in picking my lines. So, I started going to our club at La Reserva. They have two spinning bikes. I read about how to train better with them. Added more strength sessions to the planking exercises I was using for core stabilization... protein and carb shakes in the morning, supplements and so on.

Long story of hours on the bike, the spinners, in the weight room and I am now at 155 pounds, and riding 20% better times on selected 5 - 6% climbs. But really, it is about trying to be comfortable on the bike for 15 hours... I have scheduled a 150 and a 200 kilometer ride coming up to let my body know what to expect. there are four weeks left and the body will have a 300 km ride to deal with in Nova Scotia... surprise! 

That's my update to myself... stay the course!

The rest of this update is about the fund-raising. I started with letters to friends early this week. We are now over $3,000 donated to the ride. My goal is $6,000 and I have some work to get there... looking forward to the challenge.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cyclists, DON'T BE STUPID, like I was...

This has been an eventful week in my training for the Cabot Trail ride. I feel like I am making very good progress toward being capable of riding the 300 kilometer loop, as intended. I am still wary about promising success… actually wary about just getting through the training. As I get older it is clear that I am susceptible to injuries that may take me out of training or the ride itself. 

More importantly though, I am susceptible to over-confidence on the bike… not paying attention to details such as maintenance, safety and just plain “paying attention” ... to what I'm doing on the bike; even when something happens that should have me focused.

When I was an executive in business I would occasionally notice a detail in our process oriented business practices… particularly in the selling process. Someone might have lost a high value customer (typically our hospital customers were worth millions of dollars at start up, and subsequent years), and when we did a post mortem, we might find that a routine detail was missed, and it cost us a customer. I found this would happen with our senior sales people as well as the newbies. I think they got so over-confident in their skills that they just missed details, or felt they could take short cuts.

When I was working underground in the mines, for INCO, the nickel mining company in Thompson, Manitoba, in the late sixties, we also learned a lot about process… and the consequences of not paying attention or taking short cuts. It was likely to cause a catastrophic accident, and in that case, either the miner or his stope-mate might actually be in the path of death.

So, it shouldn’t surprise me that as an experienced cyclist, I might start unconsciously taking short cuts, or missing details of appropriate processes. In skill development models, a theorist named Abraham Maslow (of Maslow’s Theory of Needs fame) detailed the Four Stages of Competence… they are glued into my memory from memorizing them in Continuing Ed School… conscious incompetence, unconscious incompetence, conscious competence and unconscious competence. Much has been written about these four stages, and perhaps a fifth where we believe it necessary to have continuous learning and re-learning. Myself, I believe it is human nature to get to the Stage Four level and then unconsciously ‘fall off the wagon’.

This is what happened to me this week, see what you think… I have been riding a bike for 60 years...

a)      I was 30+ kilometers into a 100 km training ride.
b)      Some cattle were grazing close to the highway, and I was keeping an eye on them, even though there was a good barb-wire fence between me and them
c)       I unconsciously ran over a reflective lane marker
d)      A sudden, loud bang occurred, my front tire went flat immediately
e)       I stopped before wheel damage occurred; I turned off my recording GPS; I stabilized the bike; I quickly (I time my tube changes) removed the front wheel; I checked the tyre for outside damage
f)       I found a wire stuck in the tyre rubber. I wasn’t surprised by this, on highways it is common to flat because of these shards of wire that are from truck tyres that have blown out on the busy roads
g)       I immediately removed my tyre tools (tyre levers, spare tube, CO2 pressure container, CO2 valve); levered my tyre off the wheel; pulled out the wire from the outer tyre; removed the inner tube; checked the inside of the tyre to make sure I had removed the wire completely; replaced the tube, making sure there were no twists or pinches; replaced the tyre on the wheel; applied the CO2 and hardened the tyre; replaced the wheel on the bike’s forks; checked the brake and freedom of the wheel; started my GPS (eight minutes had passed, not my best, but I was happy); checked my helmet, bottles, glasses and so on, that all was secure
h)       I got on the bike, cognizant of the fact that this was my one chance to fix a flat, since I had used up my spare tube and CO2 (while I had a patch kit, I had stopped carrying my hand pump when I started riding long training days)
i)        A sudden, loud bang occurred! It was like being shot!!!
j)       My heart sank… having instantly re-read line “h” above in my mind

Stupid is as Stupid does” according to Forrest Gump. There I was, 30 km from home, near to a village that had no taxi service, no English speaking people, and my wife (read, emergency taxi) was  in Colorado Springs. I had told no one where I was headed, even though I would be as much as 50 km from home, with many alternative routes. I had LOOK style riding shoes/clips, so I would not be able to walk more than a kilometer without removing my shoes. It was early in the ride, but I had already used 40% of my electrolyte/water. It was getting warmer, my GPS later said it was 81F and I had no cover-up or sun protection other than my holey helmet, short sleeved cycling shirt and shorts.

But I did have my phone, and money. That was the only part of my process that I had followed properly that would help me now that I had messed up. Somehow, my ears heard that first, sudden, loud bang… but it hadn’t registered in my brain! Clearly, in retrospect, the loud bang should have told me to look at the sidewalls of the tyre for a “blow-out”. Normally it would have… except that my cursory look at the tyre, starting at the air nipple, found the wire just an inch or so into the inspection. My eyes over-rode my ears in the pathways through the brain, and my unconscious competence over-rode my conscious competence (proving some of Maslow’s Learning stages lacking).

The wire set me on a course that ended with a highly embarrassed, experienced cyclist, who had made a raft-load of mistakes to have to ‘call a friend’ for help. In fairness, several Mexican cars and trucks, driven by nice people, stopped to lend me a hand. By then I had made the call to my friend Ron Starr, and he had launched his rescue mission… so I respectfully said “Gracias” and they drove on.

This was a lesson that will help me in the future, I only post it to perhaps save someone else from a dangerous situation on their bike. Here are some thoughts as a result of this experience…

a)       I should make my safety check list in writing and post it on a wall near my bikes so that I have only one thing to remember before going for a ride… READ and HEED the SAFETY CHECK-LIST, STUPID
 b)  Stay alert on the bike… at 35 to 40 km/hr, things happen quickly (in this case I was on the open road, light wind at my back, nothing around me except the light traffic and I was in a clearly marked bike or parking lane)
c)      When I ride alone (most of the time) take my CO2 cartridge and spare tube for speedier changes… but carry my patch kit and mini-pump for emergencies
d)       Never ride absent a cell phone, repair tools, adequate money and hydration for the entire ride
e)       Know the route and let someone know where it is, and when to expect the return
f)       Keep all medical and personal information clearly marked in the repain kit… or wear an ALERT similar to RoadID (
g)       Know how to change or repair a flat and how to boot a blown-out tyre/tube using the folding cash/stash you have with you

h)       Don’t be STUPID…

Monday, June 8, 2015


  A few days ago my friend Todd MacDonald who was one of the founders of “Give to Live”, an organization dedicated to raising money to provide innovative care and caring to people with cancer and their families, wrote about how important it is to “have tried” and possibly failed, than to never have tried at all. It was an article that I read and took to heart!

Another friend, Ron Allen who in recent years has had a big impact on me because he tries many things… and he succeeds at most… marathons, long swims, long bike rides and triathlons for example… He and I had a good conversation about trying to ride 300 kilometers around Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail, in one go. While we discussed potential strategies. he reminded me of how important it is to make the attempt, and to cherish the accomplishment, no matter how small, of taking the first step and then the many. I got it!

Today, another friend, Jeff Bird posted this quote attributed to Zig Ziglar and others… “the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”. It was like a message from elsewhere that reminded me that we all have to train to be good at whatever-we-aspire-to in life. Then there are other motivational phrases like “the longest journey begins with the first step” that in combination with the many others, we can use to help us strive to new accomplishments. I try to live in them!

But it seems that new motivation is needed at almost every challenging turn of our lives... we can get discouraged, and fail to remember that 'turn of a word' that motivated us last week or last year... or yesterday. 

While reviewing the sources of the Zig Ziglar quote above, I saw this one from Michael Jordan … “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over, and over, and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed”.  In between the failures, I would be willing to bet that MJ practiced his shots millions of times to get the hundreds of winners... In this case it reminds me that you have to take the shot, to make the shot… like the miles we put on our saddles in order to ride even more...

In 2010 I chose to ride with ‘Give to Live’ from Vancouver to Austin, Texas. I had not ridden over 25 kilometers since my recovery started from my cancer. I started training with 69 days to go before leaving Vancouver on the first of 17 near centuries… in a row! I rode every day, all of my designated distances, on the way to Austin… save one!

I could not will myself up Douglas Pass in Western Colorado… it was a huge climb… I started up and soon gave-up! Did it ruin my complete trip of thousands of kilometers ridden… naaaa, it gave me a goal for 'some day' to climb that thing… doing the Cabot Trail is a step toward getting over Douglas Pass before I rest… that's motivation!

Douglas Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 8,268 ft (2,520 m) above the sea level, located in the Bookcliff Mountains, in Garfield County, Colorado, United States. On my bucket list...

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Update to Cabot Trail Ride

A couple of weeks have gone bye since I updated this blog… what's been happening on the Fundraising and Cycling side of life… and my commitment to keeping up-to-date with my plans and processes?

Perhaps the biggest change is that I went from not using my GPS and other ride monitoring capability… to using it! I had quit riding following an injury to my knee on the Ottawa-Halifax ride last October. I didn’t ride again until January 1st… and at that time I decided I just wanted to ride… enjoy the views, the coffees and friends... never mind speed, distance, saddle time and so on… and until this week, it worked well for me.

I've been riding progressively better since January. My natural tendency is to push a little, but there is no question that measuring my riding allows me to understand, adjust and improve. So, I started checking my weight; logging my daily blood pressure and resting heart rate during the relaxing and reading-time before bed… and my daily journal that I have been keeping for two years, keeps these records.

Clearly, with the riding, my resting heart rate was going down… it had gotten above 60 beats per minute during that sedentary period last fall. By May/June it was down below 50 again. My family physician here in Mexico took my pressure one morning and just looked at me and said “just like a teenager”. High praise for a 67 year old.

Then during last week I had a conversation with Ron Allen, my friend in Nova Scotia, who at 70 years old will not only ride the Cabot Trail, but attempt the 17 kilometer open ocean swim to Prince Edward Island in August. With his philosophy (if you don't try, you will never know) I decided to attempt to ride the full 300 kilometer course for the Give to Live fundraiser. 
Hoping Winter on North Mountain
 will be gone by July 18th

The four big climbs (a few pics here) gave me pause as I was considering the attempt… about 15 hours was what Ron and I were calculating for the complete ride… 20 km/hr average… I would need to be in better shape than ever before. This changed everything about the ride... going from a planned 100km to 300km is one thing... but Holy Crap, these climbs are big
Mount Smokey in the First 100

Soooo, I decided to go for it, but that meant getting out my gear… heart rate and cadence monitor, Garmin GPS and so on. And it meant ramping up the training… so I have… this week I rode three times for training… 68, 72 and 94 kilometers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 
MacKenzie Mountain in the 2nd 100km

I got around to joining strava .com to begin not only monitoring my training performance, but to compare it to others so I would know how to push myself. Strava also has a conditioning app that I am using so my legs don't leave my back behind somewhere.

I have also gotten my weight down to 156 pounds and have had only two “half-ounce” rums in five weeks… naaaa, just one glass of wine and two beers… but I have promised myself a little Don Julio Anjeo Tequila at the end of the Cabot Trail ride... time will tell whether it will be to celebrate finishing it all in time... or celebrate being able to start it, at all! maybe two shots... one for starting, one for the Big Baddeck Finish.

I am in the grove now… and plan to ride at 150 pounds... down from 173 in January! I'm training on my Trek Aluminum 2.1 with a 52 frame. I have secured my Trek Domane 54 for the Cabot Trail ride thanx to my friend Peter Korecki taking care of it in Halifax for me… this carbon bike has a much better gear ratio (12/32) for this ride, so I expect to be feeling my oats on the climbs.

I am not limiting my heart rate to 140 like I used to… I have passed a full physical and feel like punching it a little… so my climbing and speed are coming back… the three rides, with some good elevation and strong head winds were all around 24.5 km/hr. That will put me in range to tag along with Ron Allen on the Cabot Trail… but I still plan on 20km/hr for the total ride.

This is going to be a major bucket list accomplishment if I can do it. I plan on starting my fundraising drive this week… I am so stoked that I am in better shape at this time than I have been for any cycling I have ever done… so I will attempt the Cabot Trail, in one bite.

Here is the map of the Cabot Trail ... come visit some time...


My photo

Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!