Rest and Relaxation

Today was the first day of summer holidays for me.  It was also a rest day, thanks Coach Kiki!  Couldn't have come at a better time, as I am always really tired at the end of a school year.

I slept in, and was in my pjs all morning.  Yes!  I watched the Tour prologue this morning (Go Ryder!), bought some new running shoes this afternoon, then spent pretty much all evening on the couch watch a myriad of Olympic trials: Canadian track & field - how much drama could there have been in the women's 100m hurdles final?  The answer: none more drama! - US gymnastics, US track & field, and US swimming.

A glass of wine and a couple of homemade cookies (thanks Coco!) capped off the day after a soak in the hot tub.  I love rest days!

Humu is a rest day champion!

Tour de Victoria

This past weekend was the second annual Ryder Hesjedal's Tour de Victoria.  Last year I was one of the organizers, but this year I actually got to experience it first-hand and participate in the event.  Way more fun riding compared to behind the scenes!  It was an absolutely first-class ride and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Jason & I convinced Catherine and her husband Jeff to sign up along with us.  There are three different distances - 140, 100 and 50 km - and between the four of us we signed up for them all.  Jason did the 140km, arriving at our start with a couple of minutes to spare.  Last year he rode with the lead group until Ryder dropped the hammer at about 10 km to go and blew it apart.  This year he said he wasn't going to ride with the lead group because he was tired from racing the Victoria Half Iron the weekend before.  But sure enough, he was among one of the first through to the 100 km start line, where he joined Catherine and I.

The route is absolutely stunning and showcases all of Victoria's best riding.  It starts out in the inner harbour downtown, winds through town (along the ocean in parts) to the westshore, where the 100 km riders started.  After that it gets kind of nasty, with Munn Road and some other climbs that are legendary here.  Munn Rd is actually my nemesis, and the last time I rode it I cried.  Yeah, it's that hard, or... yeah, I'm that much of a pansy.  Both, actually.  But I didn't cry this time, and even kind of enjoyed it.  It's much more fun with hundreds of people around you to experience a shared suffering.

While I suck at climbing, I really enjoy descending and thought I'd let it all go on the way down Munn. It's a pretty technical descent, with narrow winding roads, but I kept my head up, stayed low, picked good lines and screamed downhill.  I'm pretty sure I passed everyone back who passed me on the way up.  Jason says I get the Queen of the Mountain descending award for the day (if only there was one) and he asked me if I used my brakes at all.  Um yes I did, those corners are tricky!

After the brutal but fun fiesta of climbing and descending, we popped out onto the Saanich Peninsula where the route wound along the ocean on its way north.  One thing I love about living on southern Vancouver Island (besides the natural beauty all around us): we turned into an aid station to grab some food, and before we'd barely even stopped the volunteers assured us that all the fruit was organic!  It's so Portlandia here!  Later Jason thought he was in an actual Portlandia episode when getting his salmon burger at the finish.  He was assured that it was line-caught sockeye by Captain So-and-so from Sooke, but apologies as they weren't sure what specific run it was from.

Our timing was perfect (we were actually faster than we thought we'd be) and we arrived at Jeff's 50 km start to stuff our faces at the aid station for a few minutes before his start.  It was exciting riding with Jeff, as this was his first cycling event and I was happy to be a part of it!  From Sidney where the 50 km  starts, the route winds past the ocean (again) then through some lovely farms, fields and vineyards for finally some flat riding.  There were some more hills to keep us honest though.  The smile on Jeff's face definitely made up for any pain in the legs as I'd done a long run the day before and was feeling it on some of the last climbs.

Jeff, Catherine and I rolling through some Saanich farmlands.
I wore my super-cool Betty Designs kit and got tonnes of comments on it!

Jason's self portrait.  Doesn't the huge smile on Jeff's face
behind him say it all?!

We rode back into Victoria, through the neighbourhoods of Cadboro Bay and Oak Bay - along the ocean again (one never tires of the ocean views here, especially on a perfect & sunny day) - and back to the inner harbour for the finish.  What a treat to ride in such a well-organized, scenic, and 5-star event... I can't wait until next year!

(I'll update with more photos when the TdV photographers post theirs - they had what seemed like 100's of photographers all over the route so there has to be some of us!)

Wet Run in the Sun

It was one of those summer storms.  Violent and fast, came out of nowhere and came quickly.  Friday afternoon, just when I was about to leave work, so I busied myself with a half-hour of crossing things off my to-do list, rather than risk being pelted by hail while sprinting through the parking lot to my car.  Rain was hitting the ground so hard it was bouncing up again.

Once the fury had been unleashed, the skies cleared as fast as they darkened and the sun shone once more.  Fine time for a run, so I headed home, changed, loaded up The Hound and headed to one of our favourite trails.  A half hour later, we were rightly soaked, despite the blue sky overhead.

We splashed through puddles, deep and cold from the afternoon downpour.  My shoes were soaked through, and my calves smeared with mud and spattered with pine needles.  We brushed by trees, heavy from rain which doused the leaves and hung low over the trail.  The path had been narrowed by the drooping branches, and each stride I took smeared me with water until I was drenched.  

Humu turned to me, smiling through her droopy jowls as her belly was covered with mud.  I smiled back, and we continued our wet run in the sun.

Retul Fit

I did a Retul fit on my Specialized Transition today.  When you think of all the hours spent on the bike, all the millions of revolutions of the pedals, and the conformation of bodies to saddles, pedals and bars... well, even the tiniest of adjustments can translate into huge differences on the bike.

I went to see Noa Deutsch at PT Performance Training.  Noa is a former ITU speedster who now coaches, works with the Canadian National Team and local pros, lectures at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE) at Camosun College in Victoria, etc etc.  She has done lots of bike fits for Olympians, pros, elites, and regular athletes like myself.  She's also super nice and incredibly knowledgeable.

The Retul system is pretty cool.  It uses a camera and a series of sensors that feed into some software.  It analyzes the dynamic motion of a cyclist through a 3D sensor (rather than static positions that most fitters use) so you get a super-realistic picture of the cyclist, their motion, and most importantly any imbalances and their actual pedal stroke.  You can also get a digital measurement of your complete bike, so you can replicate your position if anything changes or you get a new bike.

Noa hooking me up to the 3D motion sensor. 
The LED markers and wiring harness.
After being hooked up and being monitored spinning on a trainer, Noa first raised my saddle a bit and moved it forward.  She also lowered my bars a tiny bit (seemed like a tiny adjustment but I really noticed the lower position when riding with Jason later - my neck really noticed it I should say).  She leveled my forearms through that adjustment as well.

Computer screen of me turned into a stick figure.
She says the "gold standard" for hip angles is 90 degrees, and she got me to 92 which she was really happy with.  Keeping your hips open allows no loss of power in the TT position - so it's not about simply getting low, but not pinching your hips to do so.  

I have been having some problems with my left knee lately, so I was really interested in what she would say about my knees.  My right knee tracks straight with a couple of adjustments - moved my cleats a bit, but my left knee is at an angle.  This could be part of my knee issue.  So she put different insoles in my shoes, and I'm supposed to get a new spindle for my left pedal which will move my knee out a bit, she thinks that will help.

Differences in my knee tracking.

Data generated after the fit.
At the end of the fit, you get printouts with a bunch of information about your position, fit, geometry, and anatomy.  It was fun to compare bike set up with Jason - my saddle is a bit higher, his bars are a bit lower, he has more reach, and his effective seattube angle is a bit steeper.  Cool to be so individualized!  I'm really looking forward to riding my bike customized to fit exactly me.