Thursday, March 25, 2010

Workout motivation

Now that the biking season is upon us (hooray!) I am ramping up my training in particular my weight training. Weight training has numerous benefits especially for women. My weight training in the past has paid off handsomely when I ride my bike, as I have both strength and endurance.

The problem with weight training was motivation. I was a member of Goodlife fitness. Originally, it was a lot of fun with a hot sauna and room. Gradually, the showers became filthy and the sauna rarely if ever worked. Eventually, they simply turned down the temperature so that the sauna was lukewarm. The classes became so crowded that they were dangerous and there was simply no room to do anything. As if that was not bad enough, there was almost always blaring rap music.

I found it harder and harder to motivate myself to go and made almost any excuse not to go. What a change when I went to a private gym where I used to be a member called New Body Dimension! Here are the advantages of a small private gym. The first is it is clean. They do not allow street shoes into the gym and thus the floors are clean. The showers are immaculate and well lit. The lockers are large enough to fit your gear. In the women's washroom there are even shampoos and conditioners for the clients to use. The lighting is soft and the dryers actually work, unlike Goodlife. At New Body in addition they have trainers who know what they are doing and the whole atmosphere is one of professionalism. It is a great inspiration for training and the time just seems to fly.

Sometimes motivation can be renewed simply by moving to a gym that is clean, bright, friendly and professional.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The wonders of wool

It was March 7th, snow on the ground and I went for my first semi serious bike ride of over 65km. I wore a wool cycling jersey but also a hi tech soft shell jacket with illuminite and pockets. The jacket is guaranteed windproof, breathable and is a nice red.

On the way back from lunch, I felt hot and removed the jacket and re discovered why wool made England wealthy, saved many fur traders from freezing to death, and for many years was hailed as the miracle fiber. Wool is breathable and retains warmth even when it is wet. After I removed my so called breathable jacket, I felt a rush of cold but then my wool jersey made all of the sheep proud. Wool jerseys, or sweaters when you are riding actually regulate your temperature. They cool you and keep you warm and, you don't get clammy or wet. Wool really cannot be beat.

My bike is also equipped with a leather tensioned brooks saddle. I have yet to find an artificial fibre or material that can even come close to the properties of wool and leather.

I think that sometimes in our rush to get the latest in technology, and my red jacket is very snazzy and lightweight ...we sometimes forget that the older natural materials that do not use oil to produce and are better for the environment are in fact, superior.

The latest edition of bicycle times even advertises wool knickers. They look pretty nice with satin inserts at the knee....lycra knickers and leggings look out!

Biking in EARLY MARCH..only in Canada you say!

It is hard to believe that six of us were biking in early March, yet here we were. The roads were clear, the sun was shining...all of this in early March in Canada.

It was thrilling to get back on my bike and pedal and watch the speedometer climb 32km/hr, 38km/hr and to see the sunlight snow covering the fields slowly dissolve. It was beautiful to see the farmyard laneways appear and hitherto buried machinery emerge from the snow. It was so much fun to get back on my bike, albeit not my racing bike as it is March after all.

Our lunch stop was the Ashton pub. There is nothing like cider and soup to revive ones soul. Oddly, despite the early start to my cycling season and the 6 degree temperature, it felt much warmer than many of my fall rides where my toes, fingers and knees would freeze. My last ride, in December had to be called because I honestly believed my feet would fall off in frozen slabs from my pedals. This ride was different, I could hear the cardinals calling for mates, I could hear the melting of the snowbanks and the dripping of water from the roofs. The pub is an English pub imitation, but the soup was terrific. I ordered the French onion soup and it was excellent with a hint of sherry. There is nothing quite as wonderful as warming your toes in front of a fireplace (even though it was a gas fireplace) and talking away to like minded people who took the plunge with Dave Audette.

In all, the 6 of us, Eileen, Dave, Cynthia, Michael, Steph and me rode some 68km. On the way there we battled headwinds and it was clear that my spin classes and weight lifting following my new Bible weight training for cyclists really paid off. I was stronger and faster, or at least I felt I was!

On the way back we were blessed with a glorious tailwind and I watched with delight as my speedometer rarely went below Tailwinds are God's way of encouraging us to cycle in March.

Vive le Velo!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring is here...let the bike tours begin!

Now that the snow is melting and the sun is warm and the birds are in full breeding plumage, my thoughts have turned to bike touring.

This year, I will organize and lead a bike tour to Picton during the May long weekend. Picton is a pictoral and gastronomic gem with lovely farmlands, and numerous vineyards. They even have a cheese factory that produces goat and sheep milk ice cream and is LEED certified.

After Picton in May, (Twice as I shall lead a tour and go on an organized one), there is the Breast Cancer weekend where I will volunteer as a cyclist to support the walkers. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I am proud to inspire and encourage the brave walkers, each of whom have raised a considerable amount of money with fundraising. During the walk last year, we walked (They walked, I rode) throughout numerous neighborhoods in Ottawa. The most touching were the poorer neighborhoods. As we passed tenements and row houses, people had kool aid, or chocolate bars or popsicles. There were chalk drawings cheering on the walkers on Cummings Avenue and our walkers were treated like Olympians. We were greeted with children who danced. In contrast, when we walked through a wealthy neighborhood in Rockcliff, we were met, by a rather stern woman watering her garden who complained to me that the walkers likely scared her cat and she hoped no one walked on her lawn. I hope the walkers trampled her lawn into mud!

Mid June will have our Bike team riding to Cobden for a bike/whitewater rafting trip.

In July I will lead a tour to Montreal during the Canada day weekend. This is a very easy cycle but it should be fun just the same. The best tour in July will be the Bon Ton Roulet. This is a 6 day tour run by volunteers in the finger lakes of New York I shall ride about 75 miles a day, and camp at night. The money raised helps support YMCA programs for youth. What a lot of fun that will be.

In August there is the two day MS ride. I have worked diligently to secure about 15 sponsors for our team. Our team of 20 will wear specially made uniforms festooned with the logos of our sponsors. Our sponsors (most of them) will also have booths in Kemptville where they will speak of their trade. I will have chiropractors, physiotherapists, white water rafting and a bike shop. The MS ride is from Ottawa to Kemptville and is a fun ride. This year, I don't have the stress of raising the minimum $250.00 required to ride, as this has been achieved through my sponsors.

August will also have one of Barrie Kirks famous NY pannier trips!

Hopefully there will be more in September but so far, none that I have planned.

This leaves March and April for me to burn the rubber in spin classes and lifting weights! There is nothing like a bike season to inspire me!

Biking and bike touring in particular is a zen like experience where you are alone with your bike. Your transportation is entirely in your hands, there is no gas, no GPS (well some do have it). It is you, with your bike, your bags and maps and friends. There is nothing quite like the feel of the sun on your face and watching the scenery roll by. On a bike, you are able to participate in the scenery, you can stop anywhere, go anywhere. Your transportation can be carried up stairs, locked against trees, or lifted on your car's bike rack.

Some say that biking and bike touring is an addiction, but that is not correct. Biking is more like a love affair, passionate, encouraging, and most of is an affirmation of life and physicality.

Vive le velo!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Vancouver 2010

I have read numerous commentaries, editorials, and columns about the Olympics and what is clear is that these Olympics allowed Canadians to feel a sense of national pride and unity. Despite the lack of French at the Olympics, the mangled national anthem at the opening ceremonies, the rain and fog and lineups, there was something about these Olympics that prompted the average person to take pride in being Canadian. We sang the national anthem, we cheered as our athletes excelled, we agonized with them, we rejoiced with them. We were united as a country for those 17 days when it seemed that time was suspended.

This sense of unity and pride is, I think especially important at a time when the country is not united, when we have become disillusioned by a government that we see as detached, distant or dictatorial. The pride and unity is also important in a country that often defines itself as French, English, East or West, North or South. Who among us did not cheer when Sidney Crosby scored the golden goal? Who among us were not thrilled when Alexandre Bilodeau thanked his brother Patrick and claimed he was his inspiration. Despite all the commercialization, the endorsement by Coca Cola, the hype, the music, the endless commentaries, there is something about the Olympics that transcends it all.

I have a friend who said the Olympics should be like the ancient Olympics. The ancient Olympians competed in the nude, something that would be impossible in winter and moreover no married women were allowed to watch, let alone participate. No, the modern Olympics are much more accessible.

I found myself enjoying women's hockey immensely. Although I was thrilled with the fact that the men's hockey team won gold, they were all drawn from different professional teams and thus Team Canada vs Team Russia, was no more than the same players with a different lineup or shuffling of the deck. The women's team was real. They held their small children in their arms, they are mothers, they have jobs, they embody the spirit of the amateur athlete and for their struggles and victory we all salute them.

Vive le Canada, Vive les jeux Olympique!

Karine's Blog

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