Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Vuelta a Espana

The last grand tour of the cycling season has come to an end marking the finish of the road racing season for many professional cyclists.  The Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) is the last of the three grand tours of the season, the other two being the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.  This year's Vuelta a Espana was won by an American rider named Chris Horner.  This is the first ever win for an American in the Vuelta, and maybe more importantly, Chris Horner is the oldest rider to ever win any grand tour.  He is 41 years old just a few weeks shy of his 42nd birthday.  The next oldest grand tour winner was Fermin Lambot, who won the 1922 Tour de France at the age of 36.  This gives hope to the older riders in the peleton, that there can be success on the bike after your mid 30's.

Monday, 9 September 2013

The first Tour of Alberta is over.

The inaugural Tour of Alberta has come to an end.  It started on Tuesday September 3rd in Edmonton and ended yesterday Sunday the 8th in Calgary.  The 115 bike racers on 16 elite cycling teams from around the world.  The Tour of Alberta (TOA) was the first time a race like this has been held in Canada.  Its UCI (International Cycling Union) sanctioning was what attracted the high caliber of global competition.  Even with the Tour of Spain happening at the same time the TOA managed the draw popular pro cyclists like Peter Sagan, Cadel Evans, and Ryder Hesjedal.
In the end the overall title was one by Australian youngster Rohan Dennis.  He was in a break away group on stage 3 where he finished over 10 minutes ahead of Peter Sagan and secured his lead.  The rest of the tour was spent protecting his lead by staying out of harm's way while trying not to lose time to his closest competitors.

Peter Sagan put on a show as he won the final stage yesterday in Calgary.  He is known for his finish line celebrations and yesterday's was no exception.  I think it's great that he incorporated the local cowboy culture at the end.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Technology and Cycling

In the past decade there have been huge advances in on-the-bike technology.  In addition to GPS capable bike computers, there are now bike-based power meters.  These power meters measure the power (in watts) the rider is putting out at any given moment.  Simply put, the rider who can put out the most watts per unit body weight will be the fastest.  This is reffered to as the rider's power-to-weight ratio, expressed in watts/kg.
The greatest advantage to power meters versus older training methods (ie. heart rate) is that there is no lag between your effort and the power shown.  Also, power output is independent of rider fatigue, and weather conditions, where as these variables effect the riders heart rate.
The benefits are well explained in this short video:

There are three main types of bike based power meters on the market today.  
1)  Rear wheel hub by Powertap
2)  Crank based power meter by Quarq
3)  Pedal based power meter by Garmin

All three of these power meters will pair to most wireless enabled bike computers.  The data measured by these meters is then displayed for the rider to view while riding.  Having power data while riding allows the rider to accurately pace themselves and make sure they are riding at a sustainable level.  As the prices of power meters come down I expect to see them more and more as riders realise the importance of training with power.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Social Media and Cycling

I am not a huge fan of social media.  I do enjoy seeing what others are up to via Facebook and Twitter but I an not much of a "poster" on either of these sites.  There is one social media site that I am a big fan of and it is called Strava.  Strava is a social media site for athletes, specifically cyclist and runners.  Strava allows the athlete to go for a workout either with a GPS enabled computer like the Garmin Edge 500 or a by using a free app on your GPS smartphone and then share their workout data with their friends when they are done.  
This ability to see others rides is a great motivational tool to get me out on the bike.  I get a daily email from Strava telling which of my friends have been out riding and how they performed.  The site allows me to compare my performance to that of my friends on sections of the ride called "segments".  For each segment there is a leader board of names of everyone who has ridden that particular section of road.  From the leader board you can see where you fit it as far as your speed and fitness go.  If you are the fastest rider in a segment you get the coveted "KOM" title, standing for King of the Mountain.

Below is a YouTube video explaining strava.



Thursday, 15 August 2013

A Brief Backround

Before I get to writing about cycling, I thought I'd give my readers some background as to why I have chosen to write about cycling.
I have ridden a bike since I can remember.  My mom tells me that i was around the age of three when my training wheels came off.  I remember building wooden jumps in the cul-de-sac with the other kids from the block.  My bike was my freedom and would take me to far away places as fast as I could pedal.
When I was in my teens I was fairly successful in local mountain bike races, eventually working my way into the "junior expert" category where I raced with the likes of Ryder Hesjedal and Geoff Kabush.  As I moved up the ranks, the results became harder to come by.  As a result, my interest started to fade and by the time i was in my early twenties I was not riding at all.
When I was 23 I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune liver disease call Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.  I became sicker over the next few years and it became apparent that I was going to need a liver transplant if I was going to live much longer.
On December 4th 2010 I received a liver transplant.  I spent 19 days in hospital and was home for Christmas.  As a part of my recovery I thought it would be a good idea to do some cycling.  Little did I know that this would re-ignite the love I had for cycling when I was younger.
Over the next few months I will be making regular additions to my blog to share my love for cycling with others.  Thanks for reading.
Clarke.

Below is a photo of my wife and I shortly after my transplant.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Provincial Instructor Diploma 3240 Blog

I started this blog earlier this year as I raised money for GearUp4CF.  A 1200km bike ride from Vancouver to Banff from June 22nd to 30th.  Now that the ride is over I have started working towards my Provincial Instructor Diploma.  I am an Electrical Instructor at BCIT and am hoping to become better at what I do through taking this diploma program.  Part of the requirements for the course I am taking now (3240 Media Enhanced Learning) is to keep up a blog that "reflects both social media and resources that reflect your subject matter of expertise".  I consider myself somewhat of a cycling expert (in knowledge not ability) so I thought I would continue my GearUp4CF blog and make it a general cycling blog for the course I am taking.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Made it to Banff

Well, it's all over and what a great experience it was. We finished GearUp4CF with a 150km ride from Invermere BC to Banff AB.  We couldn't have asked for a better way to end the trip; the weather was perfect and the vistas were incredible.  We were greeted at the "Welcome to Banff" sign by our friends, family and supporters.  I was thankful to have my wife, daughter, mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law and niece cheering me along the whole way.  They had been tirelessly following the ride along for seven of the nine days, shouting words of encouragement from the car window every time they passed us.
GearUp4CF was definitely the trip of a lifetime and much more that I expected.  I went into it thinking it would be a great excuse to raise money for a great cause while spending time doing what I love.  In the end it was the off bike time that made the trip what it was.  The friends that I have made and the fun that I have had over the past nine days will stay with me for a long time to come.
Thanks you once more for all of your support.
Clarke.