Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Goals for 2019

Posted: April 21, 2019 in Motivation, The Plan
Tags: ,

Recently, I have fending off lots questions from my friends and peers (least of all my wife) about what events or competitions I am thinking of participating in this summer, and while I was all gung-ho even just four months ago to get back at it training-wise towards something, anything, well, let’s just say that I am currently looking at things a bit differently these days.

Initially, I thought I’d go back to short course racing this year; sprints and Olympic distance. I’m confident now that I could “train” fairly easily for distances without having to make many sacrifices physically, personally, or of the vastly underappreciated commodity in triathlon (especially long distance) … TIME.

As it turns out though, my motivation this year has become something much different and therefore, taking my “training” in a very different direction.

In fact, I’m hesitant to use the word “training” at all.

The New Year started pretty well with me getting back into a regular swim, bike and run program.  I even started attending some cross-training classes, and lifting weights.  Hell, I even invited a newly certified personal trainer friend of mine to totally rip out my asshole and rearrange my innards on Tuesday nights over the course of 60 minutes of intense circuit-training.  I’m not even exaggerating.

I will admit that my third round of early morning core workouts (click HERE) pretty much fell off the radar but, hey … sue me.

I think 243 days of self-inflicted core workouts over three years so far, isn’t bad.

About a month ago, however, I noticed that my usual “go forth and get it done” hutzpah was somewhat lacking, preferring instead to roll over at 4:15am and opt for another 90 minutes of sleep before work.  I had lost that spring in my step, so to speak.  There was always a reason or an excuse; I wasn’t “feeling well”; I was “listening to my body”; it’s a “recovery week”.  The list went on and on but, truthfully, there was nothing wrong with me.

I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

First, however, it’s important to state for the record that I have NOT stopped working out.  I am still swimming, running, cycling, lifting weights, and doing lazy yoga in my underwear on the weekends in lieu of a disciplined daily core strengthening program.  I’m still doing it all; I’m just not doing it as intensely or for as long a time and, true, sometimes I just roll over and sleep in instead.

So what I am contemplating on doing, you ask?

What crazy adventure or insanely stupid challenge am I going to take on to punishment myself over?

Nothing …

Absolutely buckus!

Instead, I’m going to be a dad and a husband again … albeit, a very active one.

A few things have occurred to me over the past few weeks.  My past three years of Ironman training have taken me away from my family for hours and, quite often, days at a time; they don’t call it an “Iron Widow” for nothing.  It was a simple necessity of the process:  swim, bike, run … a lot!  I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s trained for a long distance triathlon that will tell you there is an expected amount of stress that goes along with it; and not just the workouts themselves, I’m talking about the normal daily stresses that go along with trying to accomplish everything around everything else – namely your family and friends.

Let’s not even mention the stress involved if a workout is cancelled or doesn’t go as planned.

Did I go far enough?  Did I go hard enough?  Do I need to do more?

Me?

I’m kind of done with that shit for a while.

Presently, I’m planning on being around a lot more this summer to ride bikes with my step-daughter, as well as other great people that I just never get a chance to ride with because I was always out “training”.   I also wanted to organize group rides from the local Brimstone Brewery (and my sponsor – click HERE) to show off the amazing area I which I am fortunate to live and (*ahem*) train, help a few participants from my Monday night Master’s spin class get out on the road on their own bikes, I wanted to be available to help new swimmers get in the open water confidently, I wanted to support fledgling triathletes learn the basic “in’s and  out’s” of the sport without immediately feeling obligated to drop big money with the first “Iron Guru” that convinces them they need their astute guidance and about six kabillon dollars of unnecessary equipment.  Most importantly, I want to spend time with my family.

Oh, one more thing … I also wanted to be able to do a full squat.

Without the pressures of “training”, especially that required for Ironman, I’m feeling liberated to do more of things that I couldn’t before … the fun things.

One could argue the important things.

(Right, Steve?)

Oh yes, I’d also like to be able to have the time to update this blog more as well.

Anyway, so what does this mean for my summer plans and goals then?

Well, regardless of not having to be defined by a specific training schedule per se, I still have this intrinsic need to somewhat structure my weekly activities to ensure I am still on the righteous path of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, keeping my triathlon-specific skills somewhat in check and, well, not turn into a total blimp for all the guilt-free craft beer I’ll inevitably drink this summer.

With all that in mind, priority no.1 is supporting HRH in her quests to be active this summer and among her chosen healthy lifestyle passions is swimming and cycling.  Beginning with swimming, my goal is continue developing my stroke instead of going right for the distance and long swim sets.  Instead, I’ll remain focus on developing my catch and adding some short speed sets to mix things up from the usual program.

This, however, will inevitably means that for a while in comparison to my peers who follow a disciplined training program, where once I entered the pool deck like this …

w1ejwkg

It’s, sadly, now going to be more like this:

Graceful isn’t it?

But I don’t care.

The idea is that I’m going to continue spending that quality active time with my step-daughter and once the water decides to rise to a reasonable temperature that isn’t like diving into a minus-zero Arctic temp ice bath, we’ll hopefully transition into cooling off together in the humid summer evenings by swimming in the open waters of Lake Erie a whopping two minutes away, or at the International Flatwater Center in Welland.

Ideally, I’d like to continue swimming 2-3 times a week, albeit not necessarily long or intensely.

One of Hailey’s goals this summer besides her third crack at the Big Move this year, is another big “Daddy-Daughter Bike Adventure” together in the fall.

Leading up to that, I’d like to be able to use some of this extra time and organize more destination rides around the area so can better appreciate some of the amazing countryside and communities we have here in the Niagara Region; horses and endless pastureland; sweet-smelling vineyards; “Pick Your Own” fruit farms and roadside stands; small town cafes and bakeries; fragrant orchards overladen with ripening (and rotting) apples, pears and peaches; long rolling descents along the Niagara escarpment; the gradual sloping climbs back up again; I would like her to experience all of it.

As much as we can anyways.

As far as running goes, well, I’m going to continue to allow myself to fail in some regards.

My current plan is to continue keeping the runs short and infrequent with one longer run on the weekends somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-50 minutes, perhaps getting up to approximately an hour.  This is going to be more in the hopes that I can maintain some of my run specific strength I developed the past three years while not having to endure endless fartlek runs in the extreme heat and humidity of summer … something I have always struggled with during the summer months.  After all, nobody likes a fat, sweaty runner wrapped in Lyrca (least of all me) so aside from the “long” weekend jaunts outside, a good portion of my runs this summer might be accomplished on the treadmill in the mornings as either a warm-up or supplement cardio workout after a strength workout at the gym in the early mornings.

As far as distances and run goals are concerned, ideally, I have none.  If I can manage to keep myself within being able to accomplish, say, a 10k run without killing myself I’d be very happy indeed.  Perhaps this then provides more opportunities to try this whole “trail running” thing and see what all the bearded hippie runners are blogging and podcasting about.  I have tried a few “off roads” runs recently and, surprisingly, they were pretty cool so, yeah, maybe I’d like to do more a bit more of those too.

One thing that is important for me to maintain is my strength and flexibility.

I’d love to join a yoga studio again but, really, that works against the whole plan of freeing up more time to spend with the family.  However, these two things are both fundamental in maintaining both my “triathlon specific skills” as well and being able to continue working long, hot, hard days and still being able to come home and ride my bike and swim in the canal so, essentially, I’m going to begin using my morning out of the pool to focus on the heavy iron and developing better core strength; of which, is typically much less than where it currently is and should be at this point in the training season.

To this regard, I’m succeeding as the slower, more methodical session with the weights have proven to be a rather good start to the morning for me in the way that swimming is and not, say, running* – I just plug in my Yurbuds, set the meter to “kick ass” and go all Schwarzenegger  with the heavy iron.

Well, in my mind anyway.

Yoga has been reserved for free mornings in my underwear in the basement, with Toby the Cat and a cup of coffee just it has been for the past few months; perhaps in the future, but for now, this desire to re-establish a regular “practice” will just have to remain on the back burner.

Having said that, I still do get to practice a very undisciplined variety of yoga each and every day when I get out of my work truck and enter the work site where my inability to either do a very low crawl, hold a plank, perform and hold a squat, and maneuver into tight and confined spaces more or less means that my body is getting a variety of workouts and “poses” over the ordinary workday.  Essentially, it’s a continuation of the “On-the-Job Training” mindset I was attempting to put myself into last year exactly one year ago.

There is one thing however that will inevitably pre-empt a few of these plans eventually as I am expecting the call to come from the good people at the Brock University Kinesiology Department headed by Dr. Stephen Cheung to return to the “torture chamber” for God knows what kind of testing.

Whatever it is, I’ll be ready … mentally and physically.

It likely will not be my finest moment fitness-wise, but it will also give me that same adrenaline rush through suffering and sense of accomplishment that I have gotten before, and would ordinarily get from competition otherwise.  What it says about me that I like to be experimented on and tortured by guys in lab coats as a way of developing and learning about myself, who the fuck knows — but I will do it happily once that call comes.

What it all comes down to in regards to “training” this year if you really need to put a fine point on it, is that I’m training to be a dad, a husband and all round swell guy this year.

Full stop.

This is going to be the relatively stress-free year of fun.

By the way … I can now successfully do a full squat despite my burgeoning beer gut.

Easily.

See?

I’m already killing it.

*Morning warm-ups and supplemental cardio workouts excluded.

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The Big Move 2018

Posted: September 15, 2018 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

It’s been a while since I’ve made a post – two months actually – but, honestly, not a whole lot has happened since my July 7th Ironman (click HERE).  Really, it’s been two months of drinking craft beer, going back for seconds (and thirds), sleeping in, and riding my bike with Hailey, my 13-year-old step-daughter.

In other words, things have been just …

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It was with much excitement and anticipation then that I hopped out of bed at the ass-crack of dawn, ready to roll as the official “Sweep Rider” for The Big Move, for the 10th consecutive season.

Yay me!

Here’s a little recap of last year’s ride:

(That’s Hailey’s bib @ 0:32 with my parents’ names on it – how sweet, right?)

Truth is, Hailey and I achieved minor celebrity status a while ago when my (our) story was published in both The Standard newspaper, as well as the official Big Move website (click HERE).

Actually, it was the first time my picture has been taken in, say, a decade or so where I don’t look like a total and complete doofus.

Seriously, look!

IMG_9578

Aren’t we gorgeous?

Well … she  is anyway.

Me?

I’m not quite as photogenic.

So, yeah, anyway, after such an amazing write up, how do you say “No thanks, not this year”?

(Not that I would EVER consider such foolishness, mind you)

The Big Move is as much part of my typical summer competition calendar as, well, all my competitions and I take it just as seriously.  In other words – rain or shine – my buns will be sitting in the saddle at the very back end of the large group of riders all waiting to begin at the Starting line outside of Club Roma every second Sunday of September and, of that, you can be most assured.

And the best part?

I’m not suffering from a fractured hand (last year), or with a severed nerve (the year before that) through torrential downpours (same year), and it’s not even ridiculously hot like it has been lately so, really, there was no reason for it to not be anything short of a spectacular day of riding, so, hey, time to …

Similar to last year, Hailey was riding on her own in the 50k event which started 90 minutes later (9:30am), so I arrived all on my lonesome at 7:15am, parked, fussed around with my bike a bit, made about a zillion trips to the bathroom to whiz, and walked around to visit and talk with some of the amazing riders and volunteers that I have the privilege too get to know over the past decade or so of doing this event.

As always, there is lots going on prior to the 8:00am start and I enjoy simply standing around with my warm caffeinated beverage and witnessing it all go down before the official start when I actually have to get down to business.

Here’s my (our) motivation for this year’s ride:

And, just because I have them, here are some other photos from the starting line just prior to 8:00am (and, in Hailey’s case, 9:30am):

For the second time, I was partnered with Kathleen to ride as the official “Tail End Charlie’s” of the 100k ride.

You can see how cute she is:

IMG_2607

Seriously, how can you not be excited to ride with someone like this?

Karen (see last years post) also joined us for a good spell as well before having to circle back to sweep the 25k route later on.

Now, I’ve mentioned in the posts from previous years about how inspiring and motivational it is to stand at the back of 400 or so dedicated riders (actual number was 468), all preparing to kick them some cancer ass and the few moments before the official horn sound to start the ride is very powerful indeed.  Spirits are high, there are smiles abound, and just enough nervous anxiety among the riders (many of them novice) to be palpable and I absolutely feed on all this as it wasn’t so very long ago that I, myself, would look at something like a 100k ride and break out into a cold sweat.

For most, it’s not an easy task but one they have all taken up either to honor a lost loved one or family member, or maybe to show the world that they themselves – a survivor – can’t be taken down by the Big C.

Whatever their motivation is, it’s a genuine privilege to play a small part in making sure that that happens.

In fact, in the 10 years I have been sweeping this event, I have never – not once – ever had a single rider in my care not make it back to the finish safely.  Take that as more of a perfect example of how inspired these riders are – novice or not – as opposed to my own cycling.

It’s also a statistic I am extremely proud of.

“WE ALL GET BACK.  EVERYONE.  NO EXCEPTIONS.”

That’s our job and I do not take it lightly.

To that point, after a brief delay at the beginning waiting on some stragglers to show up, our first official issues occurs exactly 2 minutes into the ride, a mere 600m from the start, when one of the riders’ (Mary Jane) front break seized up, forcing us to return to the mechanic’s tent at the start to get it taken care of, after which, the chase was on back to the rest of the group already making their way up Pelham Rd. to the dreaded Rockway climb.

Maybe not the ideal way to start a 100k ride but, hey, what’ya gonna do?

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“Shit happens”, as they say.

As we approached the bottom of Rockway, I offered Mary Jane a quick tutorial on gearing and, low and behold, she made her way up to the top as they all do.

Remember, Rockway is one tough sumbitch for the uninitiated and can kind of feel like this:

steep_road

No kidding!

This is always the first hurdle we sweepers face in getting up and over the summit to the first rest station at Rockway Glen where the volunteer support is absolutely tremendous; pom-pom’s, cheering, clapping, costumes, et al.

Did I mention how amazing the volunteers are?

There was no stopping for Mary Jane, however, as she was eager to catch up to her friends who were still up the road so onward we pushed.

As anyone who has ever ridden with me will tell you, I like to talk.

A lot.

I can’t remember exactly what we talked about but before we had completed the first loop around 21st, 17th and 7th Ave’s and onto Center St., we had reunited her with her two friends, for whom I can’t remember their names (sorry, ladies).

It was pleasant enough conversation and the Rest Stop volunteers were all amazing as they are every year.  Our little gaggle of riders was always greeted warmly, had our bikes taken and held while we loaded up on Power bars, two-bite brownie’s, muffins, bananas (my own preferred type of “working” fuel) and other treats.

Surely, this is what it must have felt like for Alexander when he first entered Babylon:

One can get used to being greeted in such exquisite fashion.

Just sayin’ …

Having said that, it’s also nice to be remembered by the volunteers at these stations (the Rockway Glen parking lot at the top of the Rockway climb, the Pelham Fire Station on Cream Str., the Pelham Old Town Hall on Canboro Rd., and the First Incounters along River Rd.), many of whom have been working at these Rest Stops for equally long amounts of time.  And, believe me, they are all about as passionate about what they are doing in supporting the riders on their quest as we are about pedaling and I enjoy these brief re-acquaintances as much as I do the actual cookies, believe me.

I love you guys.

Not long after the second Rest Station, part of our little gaggle decided to bid us adieu and instead take a right instead of a left Tice Rd., and thereby follow the 50k route back to Club Roma again.

Now we were but a small group of three; Kathleen, Mary Jane and I.

Onward we pedaled in a loose formation into the wind, up and over the short and steep climb along Tice Rd., down the long decent along Canboro Rd. and into our second amazing Rest Stop experience at the Old Town Hall.

These quick stops might not be long but they are eagerly anticipated by us riders, believe me.  What you receive in encouragement here (not to mention the necessary fuel) is enough to keep the spirits high and the legs a-pumping in order to make it to the next Rest Stop and, eventually, the finish.

As a prime example, this is how you are greeted when you arrive at First Incounters:

IMG_2608Awesome, right?

How can you not be inspired?

Eventually at some point along the scenic River Rd., our little group of three caught up with another group of five, all employees of the St. Catharines Hospital.  Having “found her stroke” as they say, Mary Jane continued to ride ahead and, like that, our group of three had turned into a group of seven.

That’s how quickly the dynamic can change at the back.

Making things particularly challenging this year was the ever-present headwind and by this point in the ride 50-60k), new riders will begin to experience the first signs of true muscular fatigue; especially when cycling directly into a constant headwind.

It’s as these points, I will start to genuinely “go to work” at the front and afford the other riders a change to benefit of drafting behind and thereby minimize the amount of resistance they feel on their legs in order to continue moving forward.  It sometimes takes a bit of coaching in order to get new riders to “draft” safely and confidently behind me but, when they do, they instantly feel the difference and, hopefully, begin to feel like they “could ride forever”.

At least that’s what my step-daughter says whenever she drafts behind me.

I guess I block “a lot of wind”.

Hopefully, that isn’t a hint that I also need to lose a few pounds, but I digress …

“Leading” is a skill I hone regularly twice a week at the front of my own group rides up and down the often windy Niagara Parkway through the summer because, believe me, when you’re “sweeping”, you can expect to do a lot of work at the front “pulling”, and today was proving to be just that.

Eventually, when your group of cyclists starts to ride effectively in what’s call a “pace line”, all functioning together as self-sustaining moveable unit, it’s an extremely beautiful thing.  For my part, I will ride in this position at the front and into the wind all day in order to provide that little extra shelter from the unrelenting wind for the other riders because, trust me, it’s these moments like these in the saddle, that are among my favorite all year.

Inspiring?

And then some!

However, shortly after turning west on River Rd. we had our first serious official snafu of the day, a rider went down.  Somehow, one of the rider’s wheels had slipped off the pavement and into the loose gravel on the shoulder of the road and went down in a heap.

giphy1

Okay, maybe not exactly like that.

Anyway, “Shit happens”, sure … but I still hate riding up on situations like this.

Fortunately, the good thing about riding along with hospital employees is that there is a good chance that one of them is a nurse, as was Ben.  Kathleen herself is also a nurse herself so, yeah, if you’re going to go down on a bike and injure yourself this was absolutely the best case scenario.

But the time Kathleen and I arrived on seen (only moments afterwards, I’m sure) Ben was already mid-triage and the downed rider – Julie, his friend – seemed to be okay with no major injuries beyond a bruised pride I’m sure.

Hey, I’ve been there myself.

Seeing that things were well under control, I figured I could be serve by riding up to the First Incounters Rest Stop a short ways up the road and alert the sweep van to come back to assist.  Sure, we have a cell phone for such emergencies but, hey, here’s also a chance to ride up the road a bit and really open up ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning.

A few minutes into the ride to the Rest Stop, I noticed an ambulance coming up the road so I slowed my pace a bit and sat up to get their attention.

As it moved closed I waved at them nicely and …

… it continued to ride right past, with both attendants completely engaged in conversation with each other.

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I hoped that they would at least notice the downed rider up the road (thankfully, they did) but I continued cycling onto the Rest Stop in order to arrange for a van to be sent to pick up the potentially damaged bike.

Once we were all back at the Rest Stop together, a quick inspection of the bike revealed that while a bit banged up, it was still functioning properly and Julie herself, a little shaken up as she was, was determined to continue.

As I’ve mentioned on numerous other occasions, lots of amazing things happen at the back.

Oh, and I would remiss here to fail to mention that it here where I was also on the receiving end of the best surprise Bear hug from Steven Rivers (and his wife Janet), friend and long-time Big Move volunteer.

So it was with well rejuvenated spirits and, of course, more than a few mouthfuls of these:

cookies2

… that we all rolled out together again to begin (approximately) the second back half of the ride back to Club Roma for our awaiting hot lunch, beer, and a desperately needed sweater.

Did I mention that it was getting chillier?

It was, so keeping everybody moving and thereby working and “warm” became the new priority as we were definitely moving a bit slowly (largely because of the wind) thanks to “Tropical Depression Gordon” that was also moving in from the southeast.

Having said that, there was no fear of anyone needing to cut the route short as we have in other years as everyone was positively committed to the task at hand and, so, over the course of the next two hours or so, everyone more or less just did their own thing at their own pace.

Keep …

Moving …

Forward.

While Kathleen tagged herself onto the tail end, I toke a few opportunities to ride up the road to each rider in order to briefly check in, offer a Power bar or a little encouragement, or maybe some tips on how to stay comfortable in the saddle.

All was all good and cheerful.

Essentially, everyone was just kind of lost in their own blissful cycling Nirvana.

Albeit, with a lot of wind …

This is what we sweepers call “The Perfect Ride”.

As we continued to weave our way through Pelham and Fonthill, we passed by the road marshals proudly announcing ourselves as the “End of the 100k ride” and jokingly asked them to save us some pasta.

There was always a kind response offered in return.

Eventually, we ran into the second big snafu of the day at the Pelham Fire Station when one of the rider’s seats fell off.

Yes, his bike seat actually fell off.

Now, in my 10+ years of sweep riding, this is a totally new one for me.

Wheels, chains, tires, derailleurs, sure … but seats?

Seriously?

But, somehow, we managed to acquire some twine and this happened:

Yes, folks … we attempted to “tie” the seat back onto the seat post.

Only on The Big Move!

This is usually a very easy repair I’m sure but, for whatever reason, this damn seat simply did not want to stay put.

Where’s a good roll of duct tape when you need one?

We had to stop a few more times to readjust the seat, and it was decided that the other riders would keep going while we sorted out the issue.  By this stage, along with our own support van, we had also picked up two police cruisers who were trailing along behind us and reopening the roads.

We needed to keep moving but if they say they want to finish we’ll get them there!, right Steven?

It’s pretty much “The Sweeper’s Credo” if you ask me.

Finally, I’m not sure from where or how, but a roll of duct tape miraculously showed up at the corner of Roland Rd. and Maple St., or basically, the middle of nowhere.

Hallelujah!

The “Cycle Gods” were definitely smiling down on us.

2i0izt

Now, I don’t claim to be any real mechanical guru or skilled handy man, but dammit I am Canadian, and if there’s two things any good, self-respecting Canadian knows how to inherently fix provided with a decent roll of duct tape it’s, 1) a leaky canoe, and 2) a broken bike seat.

A quick wrap and a mere seconds later, we were back in business and the three of us set off again at a good pace in order to catch up with the rest of the riders now well ahead of us.

IMG_2604It was back to the front and into the wind for me.

Together we rolled down Sawmill Rd. which brought back lots of memories of riding with my old triathlon buddies years ago when I first started riding.

I am still riding that exact same bike 10 years later.

Later, as a reward for all those kilometers cycling into the wind, there’s the long decent back down Rockway Glen and – get this – after over 6 hours of cycling, the cheerleaders and volunteers at Rockway Rest Station were still there in force and as enthusiastic as when we first rolled by six hours previous.

Over the last few kilometers along Pelham Rd. we managed to gather together again into a small group of four riders and that’s how we eventually rolled across the finish line to a warm reception of family and friends.

Mission accomplished.

As they do every year, Kelly and Hailey were there at the finish to see me cross in last position for the 10th time.

That’s TEN YEARS of being last.

How awesome is it then that it is also something of which I am very, very proud.

Hailey was still pretty jazzed and feeling very pleased with herself in having managed to get around the 50k course rather easily for the second year, and even having made a new friend in the process.

(Note:  That morning, I sent her a text stating:  “Be tough, be strong when other riders need you to be, and have fun”.  I know, I’m pretty much 2018’s guaranteed ‘Step-Dad of the Year’)

As it always is, Club Roma is a bustle with all the volunteers coming in from the course and sitting down to their well-deserved meals and a cold beer.  Here we can all finally sit back together and reminisce, laugh, catch up on other summer activities and, in some cases, actually see what we all really look like under our helmets.

Over the course of the day, I rode for a total distance of 135k, burning nearly 2400 calories (not to mention eating another 4800 calories) in the process, averaging a speed of 22.2kph over almost 6 and a half of tough, windy cycling.

And, just as quickly as it all started ten years ago, my reign as the official “Tail End Charlie” came to another successful close with everyone back safe and accounted for and, most importantly, with big smiles.

As always, happy riding and see you all again next year!

It’s now officially February, so where I have been doing a lot of strength training with the heavy iron, the time has come to switch into a more focused swim/run/bike routine.  Meaning, of course, especially given that I have also started a new job two weeks ago, I have to now figure out how to keep this acquired physical strength while strategically transitioning into this next phase of longer Ironman-specific training.

Losing a few pounds also wouldn’t be the end of the world either.

So this regard, I tried something new this past Friday:  a “Boot Camp”.

This all came about last week when I approached Tamara, the wife of my long time go-to bike guy, about getting some assistance to take my strength training to the next level.  That’s when she mentioned that she leads an early “boot camp” on Friday morning that would be perfect for me.

I will admit here I was a bit trepidatious as I have always thought of “Boot Camps” as those trendy fitness classes more aimed at single moms to help shape their derriere’s; hence the other popular name for these classes being “Booty Camps”.

But knowing Tamara as I do, I figured I’d give it a shot thinking that a workout more aimed at plyometric jumping and leaping would be the perfect accompaniment to my newly acquired He-man muscles – ideal even.

But then, the night before, Tamara posts this picture (and caption) to her Facebook page:

Tamara

“Come check out my fancy toe undies and get a great workout in flexibility, stretching and strength.”

That’s when the panic hit me:

OMG.

“Toe Undies”?

What the fuck have I gotten myself into?

After all, nobody needs to see my toenails, believe me.

She then mentioned having extra “tu-tu’s” for the class and I was almost:

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Still, having made the commitment I decided to show up anyway.

After all, how hard can a “Booty Camp” be?

Then again, you might also remember this shit show from three years ago (click HERE).

Only one way to tell, I guess.

So far, I have only attended two classes but they are exactly the kinds of workouts I still need to be doing providing I can drag my lazy ass out of bed at 4:30am to make the 40 minute drive into St. Catharines.

This is the nicest way possible to say that I did enjoy it.

I’m not sure I’ll look any different in my cycling tights come Springtime but having someone push you through those difficult sets of plyometric-based exercises sure is the kind of strength-building program that I like to endorse not because they don’t require a lot of tools that can’t be recreated at home with simple every day households items, but because it targets all those useful functional muscles you tend to use and abuse in long distance triathlon training.

And, hey, if at the end of the day this “booty” looks a little better in my daily work khakis’, well, I’m okay with that too.

Turning this Frankenstein into “Franken Fine” wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.

Just sayin’…

Be all that it may, for the next 50 minutes I handed my fat ass literally handed to me by a toe-undied She-Devil adorned in a tutu through sets of sled pushes, crunches, push-ups, lunges, and, oh sweet Jesus, every movement and exercise known to mankind to absolutely suck, particularly these vile things called “Man Maker’s”, which have made perfectly clear to me that I am apparently not  a man.

The shame of which, I doubt I will ever get over.

Throw one of those fucking ‘Burpees’ into the mix and you have the perfect mix of Punky Brewster-like cuteness and enthusiasm with a gruesome Rob Zombie-esque nightmare of a workout…creepy clowns n’ all.  It was the kind of hellish workout from which my testicles instantly retreated back into my abdomen to hide in fear once Tamara started to walk us through the class plan which included seven separate “stations”, each consisting of two each torturous exercises each.

be5

But then again, they say that whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, so Friday mornings 6:00am(providing my work schedule will allow it), my sorry self is starting off the weekend of long haul swim, bike and run workouts with one kick ass of a Booty Camp.

Judge me as you see fit.

But when this winter finally goes away, even if I haven’t managed some of the incalculable hours battled away in front of Zwift on the home trainer as some of my peers will no doubt have, or perhaps pursuing a “February Running Distance Challenge” bullshit thing on Strava, I’ll be counting on these types of simpler (but no less grueling) workouts to allow me the maximum brute strength necessary and when it needs to be called upon while on the bike, in the pool or out pounding pavement on the road later on.

This is going to be my total Rocky IV approach to training this year.

(Albeit  in a gym and not a barn)

While the wily opponent is relying on all the new fancy muscle juices and state-of-the-art training equipment, I’ll be out chopping logs, hauling around sacks of rocks, and dragging my ass through mountains of snow.

And I will leave you with this:

If this class leaves me with even half  of the physical functional strength as I think it will, then I will happily adorn myself with a pair of these “Toe Undie” whatchamacallit’s  and a full French Maid’s tu-tu because, well, laugh while you can because come the inevitable Race Day, that’s likely the last you will see of me when I take off leaving you dumbfounded, gasping for air and swimming upstream through a river of my piss (triathletes will understand that reference).

Or so it plays out in my visions anyway…

So continue on with your empty laps, your virtual races through the night-time streets of Paris, and whatever the newest piece of fancy “GUARANTEED TO PRODUCE RESULTS OR YOUR MONEY BACK!” equipment you found on Ebay during a “Box Day Blowout”, I’ll be taking the old-fashioned route; an honest effort, a desire to success and a well-fitted and stylish tu-tu.

I’m still not sold on the Toe Undies though.

Introducing: Romeo

Posted: January 13, 2018 in Bike, Equipment
Tags: , ,

It has become of a bit of joke with my wife these days regarding the amount of bikes I now own and, yes, I do ride them all.

Honestly.

What can I say?

Guilty.

And in case any one doubts that one only needs a single bike to ride, I will argue that there is a very simple mathematical formal that addresses this very question:

N+1

And you simply can’t argue with math.

It’s the universal language after all.

Anyway, back in October I lead a group ride out of Brimstone Brewing; the weather was extremely cold and wet and only two other riders (beside me that is) actually showed up.

However, before we actually got started a neighbour next door to the brewery came running over and asked:

“Hey, do you guys like bikes?”

Umm…

duh

He then proceeded to mention that he was moving and had a bunch of old bikes he wanted to get rid of because he was moving.

At the time I didn’t give it much thought as we eager to get going since our nutsacks were beginning to freeze to our bike seats, but I agreed to drop by when we got back to take a little looksee.

The ride went pretty much how you might guess p – we froze.

However, upon our return I kept my promise and walked over to see these “old bikes”; more to get out of the cold and thaw off than anything else.

Much to my surprise, this is what he showed me:

modena

I was a little dryer in this picture…

An Italian Fiori Modena, circa late 1980’s.

As far as classic steel bikes go, the Modena model wasn’t exactly a top of the line model and, clearly, it needed a little love, but the guy was motivated to get rid of it.

“How about twenty bucks?”

I didn’t even bat an eyelash.

SOLD!

When I came home and told the wife, I got that classic non-believer’s line:

“Don’t you have enough bikes already?”, to which I responded:

henrylaugh

Remember…

It’s math.

You can’t argue the numbers.

I took it to Brandon at Inception Cyclery, my trusted bike guy, for some simple restoration.

Now, already having a) a regular road bike (Daisy), b) a time trial racing bike (Lucille), c) my dad’s classic steel that I ride with HRH, and c) a mountain bike (Snowflake) for winter training, so he suggested that we do a little something different with it.

“How about a ‘grocery getter’? 

After all, it’s not often that I take any of my other bikes to do local errands as that’d be like taking a Rolls Royce to the Avondale for Lotto tickets.

Not a bad idea actually.

“Yeah, sure.  Let’s do it.”

Who couldn’t use another custom bike, amiright?

What this meant then is that what came back to me after four months of planning, tuning, and remodelling was something completely unexpected, awesome and beautiful:

Now I have something fun I can take to the weekend market for fresh produce, to the grocery store for all those forgotten items Kelly will periodically ask me to go fetch for dinner, or maybe even to the brewery to refill my growler.

Welcome to the fleet Romeo.

2017: What I Learned

Posted: November 4, 2017 in In Transition
Tags: , ,

My competitive season is all over.  Actually, in truth, it was over a long time ago but it hasn’t been until now that I’ve sat down to reflect on it all.  What I do know for certain is that there were certainly a lot of big successes, as well as a lot of even bigger failures and now is probably the time I should try to make some sense of it all regarding what I learned before I try to get back into any disciplined and structured training program.

This is no easy task I assure you, considering that I started the year injured (click HERE) and, of course, there was the whole ultimate bullshit enchilada that went down this past June (click HERE).  But having said that, there were definitely successes in these setbacks and I feel it’s important to know what they are so a) hopefully, I don’t repeat them again, or b) if they do happen, I will know how to deal with the situation.  This information is essential as far as I’m concerned if I’m going to continue growing as an athlete and, really, as a person.

First off, let’s just get it out there.  I haven’t competed in a triathlon – of any distance – in two years.  Now, this doesn’t mean that I have in any way not done anything.  In fact, I have trained very hard at being Ironman ready for two years, but I just haven’t been successful at actually being able to test this fitness on the field of battle, per se.  That’s right, for two years I have trained up to 20 hours a week and endured all the pavement pounding, the wear and tear, the mental and physical fatigue and what have you, for TWO-FUCKING-YEARS.

You could say that in the past two years I have become somewhat of an authority on how to train for an Ironman without actually having to race one.

Not that I’m bragging, mind you.

Sure, one year the event was cancelled last minute (click HERE) and the next, well, I ended up running my body over an industrial cheese grater seven days from the big event but, still, it’s frustrating.  But I’m choosing here to look at the positives and use it to fuel me into the 2018 season.

So what did I learn?

  1. Less is more

Especially in 2017, I trained actually less hours than I have previously and ended up in probably the best shape I have been in since Ironman Wales.  Sure, I still had some long days but those didn’t really come until just over a month out from my “Go date” (July 8th).  Of course, I had a lot of help thanks to an amazing coach and a great support team but previously, I would be running and spinning ridiculous mileage by the time the New Year rolled over and would maintain that right up until my taper.  I was more often than not exhausted, fatigued, grumpy, and not loving the process.

This was though was the year that I forgot about distance and time and, instead, focused on quality and form.  In other words, I trained smarter.  Each session had a point, a focus and a goal and none of those were time or distance related.  Over the winter months, I was only cycling one hour sessions twice a week and then riding my mountain bike on the weekend to and from the pool.  I ran only three times a week and the same with swimming.

During this indoor period, I focused on anaerobic and strength conditioning on all my swim, bike and run workouts, as well as improving my overall mental toughness; things that would serve me well come April when I began to transition outside and into my longer, suckier training sessions.  Instead of saying I swam for two hours, or ran 25 kilometers, I would say that I swam, biked or ran until I had achieved my intended goal for that workout – whatever that was at the time.

That’s a huge paradigm shift in thinking for someone who was used to measuring their success in kilometers or hours.  However, success is not measured in time or distance, it is measured in your ability to achieve the focus or goal of the workout.

Therefore, he (or she) who accomplishes the goal most often on a regular basis- wins.

  1. Core

This is likely the smartest thing I did all year.  In lieu of being sidelined from my running in January, I embarked on a 28 Day Challenge, which ended being stretched out to 100 days.  In doing so, I immediately noticed that I was swimming, biking and running (once I started) significantly better because my overall core strength had improved drastically.

Essentially, any forward momentum starts and ends in the core and the stronger my core, the longer it could hold its form while going forward be it swimming, biking or running, meaning the longer I continue with unnecessary wasted effort.  This means longer hours, longer distances, with less wear and tear.

How awesome is that?

This realization is pretty much the foundation that I preach to anyone and everyone who will listen these days.

Basically, do your core workout EVERY day – without fail.

  1. Learn the difference between “Fitness” and “Training”

Yes, there is a difference.

A big one.

Largely this discrepancy occurs now thanks to Garmin and other workout tracking applications that ask you to classify your activity under one of these two banners, or something entirely difference.  Usually, the weekly workouts I do will fall under one of these two main categories.  Previously, I would classify everything I did as “training” since it was part of my weekly plan, and I believe that most triathletes make this same assumption.  However, I have now come to recognize that the two are not the same thing, like, at all; apples and oranges actually.

There are things you do for the purpose of being fun, active and being involved in a healthy lifestyle (fitness) and then there are things you do to best simulate the conditions you can expect come race day (training).  While the two are definitely symbiotic of one another, not being able to distinguish the difference between the two can be completely counter-productive to your training program.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that my inability to know the difference between the two is what led me to my first injury this past January.

First, however, let’s discuss the difference.

“Fitness” workouts are the things you do to maintain your physical and aerobic abilities, as well as burn some calories.  Things such as yoga, core, anything regarded as “recovery” or “easy”, and maybe weights.  The aim and focus here is to take things easy, and just enjoy the process and not psyche yourself out that you didn’t go hard enough or long enough and therefore the workout didn’t accomplish anything, or it was a failure all together.

Total bullshit.

“Training” workouts simulate race day conditions, be it anaerobic capacity, muscular endurance, etc.  They are definitely not the workouts you look forward to but definitely they make you better at coping with the physical and mental stresses you can expect to endure on race day.

Here’s an example:  my typical Saturday workout will see me riding out to the local Port Colbourne pool 20 kilometers away – fitness.  When I get there, I will complete a structured long swim of 3000-5000mtraining.  Afterwards, I ride home again – fitness.

So why is this difference important?

Well, the main goal of the day is to complete my long swim that simulates race day conditions.  The rides out and back (be it on my classic steel or mountain bike) are simply for fun and all at an “easy-does-it” pace.  Consider it my warm-up and warn-down if you will.  Having said all that, anyone who has ever ridden 20 kilometers in -20° weather through snow will immediately know that this it is not necessarily “easy-does-it”.  So, yes, there is something beneficial to be gained like bonus strength conditioning in the legs and an immediate development of one’s mental toughness of riding in less than ideal conditions.  But it was not the immediate focus of the day; it was an accompaniment.  Not everything needs to be balls-to-the-wall.  In this case, it was just a bonus to be out and moving the legs, but it was not necessarily “training”.

Adopting the mindset that everything is “training”, inevitably leads one to think that everything has to be hard, long and/or difficult and that will also inevitably lead one to needlessly over-taxing the body and one’s stress (Cortisol) levels, and injury will inevitably be the result.  Take my word for it.  So learn to accept that some things are for fitness only and don’t necessarily have to be performed at 100%.  For anything less that race day simulation, just enjoy the experience, give yourself some credit for simply doing it, and give your body and brain a break.

In actuality, all my bike riding since mid-August when I finally returned to riding have been done on my steel bike at an easy pace – and I love it.  LOVE.  IT.

  1. The Double Run

This was a new tactic I employed this year.  When my coach first introduced this into my training program come May I think I had an immediate heart attack.

You mean, you want me to run twice…in a single day?

Excuse me?

Surely you jest.

But she wasn’t kidding.

The goal here was to a) train the legs to perform fatigued, and b) get in some added mileage on the day while minimizing your chances of getting injured.

The premise goes like this:  head out early in the day for a long run; long being the length of time you can hold your ideal race pace.  Once your body begins to shut down and your pace goes to shit, call the workout off.  On some days this will be either longer or shorter than the previous week but distance isn’t necessarily the focus here.  Later in the day, once you have recovered head out a second time and do a second, shorter run, again at pace and again until your form collapses.  This process begins to build muscle memory (and the necessary strength conditioning) on how to hold your form while fatigued and, eventually, those second runs begin to feel better than the initial long run in the morning.

Word.

In a few short weeks, I went from running 15-20 kilometers in the morning with another 2-3 kilometers in the evening, to running 25 kilometers in the morning and another 10 kilometers later on for a larger daily mileage and – here’s the thing – the second run even felt good.

Imagine that!

Was it fun in the beginning?  Fuck no.  But after the initial shock of the first 2-3 weeks wore off, those double runs begin to feel – dare I say it – awesome.  And that translated to immediate confidence that I could manage the entire marathon at the end of the day without having to needlessly suffer.

  1. Mental toughness – it’ a thing

I’ve preached about mental toughness before (click HERE) so if you’re still not doing it, well, that’s your loss.  You need to train your brain to cope with the stress the same way you train your body.

All those motivational videos you see on YouTube will likely not be of any use out on the road, or during your event.  Instead, you should have a mental strategy of what provides you mental strength in the moment that you have already tested in battle (ie. your daily workouts) that you can then draw on when the shit begins to hit the fan.

The last thing you want going through your head at the end of the day is how much something sucks. There is nothing productive in that.

  1. Get in the pool.

Now.  Go do it.

You can pound out another long run (if that’s your thing) or spin for four hours (because it’s warm and convenient) and deal with the wear and tear afterwards, or you can wake up early, drag your butt in the pool to develop your form and technique (because it’s  hard), and reap the low-impact cardio and strength benefits by learning how to get out of the water feeling good, strong and confident.

Remember, if you don’t get out of the water – you never get to the bike, the run or the rest of the race.

Period.

  1. Shit happens.

More than anything, this was my single most learning opportunity this year.

I fractured my hand seven days from my Ironman.  I was in the best shape of my life and in the blink of an eye, it was over.  My realization now though now that the frustration and disappointment was worn off is that I had a great plan, a great coach and, ultimately, a recipe that works.

To quote from a cheesy Rocky film, “life will beat you down and keep you there.  It’s about taking the punch and keep moving forward”, and that’s what I’m trying doing baby.

I will rise again.  I will tackle this Ironman again sooner than later.  I will persevere.

God willing, of course.

16681781_1605888902760929_1085829283789604340_nThis has not exactly been a banner year.  As far as I’m concerned, 2017 can bite me and 2018 can’t come quick enough.

The real capper came late last week with the heartbreaking news that a dear friend, a training partner, and a personal inspiration of mine passed away tragically.

Steve Apps will be sorely missed.

It was on an early Sunday morning eons ago when Coach Bill asked me to move over into the next lane with Saskia, Devin, and a guy named Steve.  I’m pretty sure they closed the pool later that morning due to a sudden “pool fouling”.

I was that nervous.

Saskia was all business and Devin just talked endlessly.  Seriously, Devin would practically swim beside you during fast intervals and yap on endlessly about the night before, String Theory, or his take on lactate threshold training in spinning, or simply whatever it was that happened to occupy his mind at that precise moment.

Steve was different.

He laughed.

A lot.

In between sets, lengths, drills, whatever.  There was always some zinger being thrown around the pool in someone’s direction (often mine).  It made the fact that I was practically drowning at the time seem like it was even fun.

That was Steve’s Modus Operandi to a tee:

“Have fun in all things you do”.

 

I barely kept up through those early days but Steve was encouraging, in between well placed ribbing and teasing.

Steve was different  than these other A-type personalities.

He was fun.

(Even if I did want to kill him sometimes for making swimming look so damn easy.)

If we were really lucky, we’d also get a chance to hear Steve single along to George Thurogood in the spin class later that same morning.  Coach Bill would have us spinning our bollocks off at a ridiculous pace when there would inevitably come from the back of the room:

“And then she was so nice,
Lord, she was lovey-dovey.”

And then there would be that contagious laugh.

When we took to the road later that Spring, I learned how to ride my bike (gears, braking, etc.) on group rides that Steve helped to organize and lead as one of the founders of the original TryForce group.  Afterwards, there was always Starbucks, laughter and lots of healthy, good natured ribbing.

Have fun in all things you do.

Steve was more or less the reason why I took my first crack at a half Ironman distance triathlon.  He went into it of course to have fun, while I was bit more methodical and demanding of myself in terms of finishing.  In short, I managed to complete the event in a not-so-stellar time but he definitely had more fun.  Truth, I more or less fell apart during and directly afterwards while Steve finished with a big smile on his face so, yeah, he had it right all along.

Have fun in all things you do.

Fast forward a few years and Steve isn’t racing much thanks to a busy work travel schedule.  Our relationship had more or less evolved into making regular recommendations through Facebook regarding local craft brews, and then again in our kitchen for our annual Christmas Open House.  It was through these idle kitchen chats that ended up with us partnering together this past April to complete the Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids (click HERE).

Steve was looking for a challenge while I was looking for company.

A perfect match, right?

It was.

In the lead up, as always, Steve had his own unique approach to training (click HERE) but when it was all said and done, dare I say it, it was as much fun as you’d expect anything you did with Steve would inevitably be.  It was certainly the most fun I’ve ever had swimming 400 long, boring laps in a pool anyway.

Steve just had that effect.

Of course, we celebrated with a few pints and good food.

Have fun in all things you do.

Besides his laugh and tips on tasty beverages, it will be these type of reminders that Steve offered and  completely embodied that there is more to triathlon than just swimming, biking and running.

There is Life.

Triathlon is not solely Life itself, but only a means with which to better enjoy and celebrate it.  That’s a difficult concept to grasp and I know that I, as with others I suspect, have struggled with comprehending that in the beginning when we were first initiated into this crazy sport; particularly given our often rigorous personal training regimens.

It was always about the training.

Steve was a powerful reminder that Life came first, as well as all the fun things that will inevitably come along with it.  Understanding this principle of “triathlon as fun”, something with which to embrace and enjoy life, was an important epoch in my own development into a triathlete and future family man; one which I am trying hard to follow now and apply on a daily basis.

Moving on without Steve to constantly remind me to focus on the fun and thereby enjoying the process as a whole, is going to be hard.

I’m going to miss doing laps with the guy.

I’m going to miss his early morning zingers.

I will miss his addressing me as “Nasher”.

I’m going to miss his great beer recommendations.

Mostly, I’m going to miss that laugh.

R.I.P.

The Big Move 2017

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

After a more than disappointing end to this competitive season, I’m just beginning to feel a little semblance to how I was back fitness-wise in June before my wee accident (click HERE).

Throughout this two month period of adjustment, knowing that this year’s ride was going to be my 9th consecutive year volunteering as the “Tail End Charlie” for the Big Move Cancer Ride 100k event, well, let’s just say that it has kept me inspired to get back in the saddle as soon as possible.  And I have.  Where I’ve definitely cycled in some tough situations before – both physical and environmental (lest we forget 2015’s challenging ride click HERE) – I feel good, this morning’s weather looks good, Daisy’s been oiled and the tires are pumped up, and ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning are rarin’ to get under way as I’m excited to see what this year’s event has in store for me.

Let’s get this party started.

As per usual, I was up early and making a breakfast of eggs and toast and washed it all down with one too many cups of Joe.  What’s different this year is that instead of volunteering, Hailey and Kelly are riding the 50k event and seeing as how their ride doesn’t begin until later in the day, I’ll be arriving on my own and starting my ride before they even show up so no family selfie this year.

Sorry.

As per usual, by 7:30am the grounds around Club Roma is a hive of activity with everything in the process of setting something up, securing something down, moving something over there, then moving it right back again and, well, let’s  just say that there is butt ton of stuff going on.

As per usual, pedaling is my jam so I just stand around drinking coffee.

I kind of feel like the grasshopper among the ants but, hey, once that ride starts at 8:30am sharp, my work officially begins and doesn’t let up for the next six to seven hours, so this relax time with a warm beverage helps to get me mentally and physically prepped as well as providing an opportunity to get myself and my bike all squared away and ready to go.  And then, of course, with just mere minutes to the start I will inevitably have to go to the bathroom one last time forcing me to take off my entire kit one more time and put it all back on again but, I digress…

https9tzwrpys5naxboes5jb20vbwvkawevmjzcune4nhjosvnsy0zwvvevz2lwahkuz2lm

Such is the routine.

There are some really cool parts that I love about being the “Tail End Charlie” as these rides.  For starters, it’s a very powerful feeling to be situated out at the very back of the pack for the opening speeches before the ride even gets going.  From this vantage point, you can see everyone’s motivation pinned to on their backs; bibs listing all the names of those for whom the cyclists are riding in memory of.

Think about that.

Cancer sucks and it’s just plain stupid how many names there are.  It’s an overwhelming feeling.  I can’t even fit all those who have been affected in my own life on my bib now, so I just go with this nowadays:

IMG_2023

So, really, you’re not just riding with the cyclists themselves but each and every one of those people with whom they are carrying along for the journey as represented by the names written in black magic marker.

How can that not both upset and  inspire you?

This year I was very lucky to be partnered with a friend, Karen Natho whom I first back in the early TryForce days and have since maintained a friendship with since then.  Let me tell you this about Karen: not only is she the nicest person you’re ever going to meet, but she’s also among the toughest triathletes I know so having an opportunity to ride alongside her and pick her brain was inspiring in and of itself.

It also bodes well that Karen can also keep up her end of a conversation over a 100 kilometer bike route as well.

Here we are at the beginning almost looking like a Before and After pic:

IMG_1214

It’s a bit of a different route this year but it’s the same monster climb up to Rockway Glen that starts it all off.  The climb up the escarpment is the first and most significant challenge faced by the riders.   That typically means there is a lot of coaching and encouraging up this segment of roadway.

Being a decent climber myself I am usually able to do all that but seeing how my legs currently may or may not be up to their usual strength yet, this morning I’m even kind of looking at this hill myself like:

EPSON MFP image

I did manage to get up it however, as did everyone else.

Check #1 off my sweeper’s “To Do” list.

It’s also usually around this point that the little “Lantern Rouge” group of riders, begins to form at the very back.  This is another terrific aspect of being the “Tail End Charlie”, in that you typically get to meet a new group of people each year very, very well, as you will inevitably get to spend 5-6 hours getting to know them as you are riding together.

This year I was fortunate to be riding with not one, but 6 riders belonging to the same family; 4 year old Nova was riding along with her mother and dad was riding with the two boys in tow.

Here’s they are:

IMG_2029

Here’s why they ride:

IMG_2028

Talk about parenting being done right.

Shortly thereafter, Karen and I met up with Maggie and Kelly, a Niagara teacher and banker, and it was with these two girls that Karen and I would end up riding with for the remaining 70-75 kilometers – not that needed us mind you.

I wish here now that I had some interesting stories about all the difficult trials and travails  we had to endure together over this years 100 kilometers in order to get our little Lantern Rouge  back to the finish line safely and successfully, but I don’t.  Sometimes Karen and I rode with the girls, sometimes ahead of the girls and sometimes behind, all depending on who wanted to chat with who.   Of course, as is tradition about being at the tail end of the ride with me, you also have to endure 5 hours of my endless stories and Maggie and Kelly definitely weathered the storm admirably.

Karen didn’t have a choice.

Dare I say it, however, that the going was easy-peasy and before we knew it we were more than halfway around the course and rolling into the ‘First Incounters’   Rest Stop in Welland, and you know what that means:

Honestly, if the Big Move ride wasn’t what it was, the bib on the back my vest might have well read: “I Brake for Cookies”.

Truth!

God bless the long standing volunteer Martyk family for making their rest stop along River Road at Becketts Bridge what it is, something to be enjoyed.  Many hugs were passed, good cheer was spread and, tragically, many cookies met their fateful end, but soon we were a-rollin’ on.

Heading back into Pelham and St. Catharines, Maggie and Kelly wanted to commemorate their longest ride at the 88k mark along Maple Street.   Balloons were even procured for the occasion out of the sweep van riding behind us.

“Always ready” we are at the end.

Here’s the big moment:

And, again, we continued on with high spirits.

Only another short 12 kilometers to go.

Here’s a few more photos of the day:

I’m going to change the story a bit drastically here, as there wasn’t really much left to tell of my own.  The girls made it back, Karen and I rolled over the finish line in last place (my 9th), a delicious pasta and meat ball lunch provided by Club Roma was crushed, and our day officially ended on the same high note that it started.

Here’s the proof:

20170910_160355

DisclaimerThe pasta lunch didn’t last long enough for a photo.

The other story unfolding today involves Hailey, my 12 year old step-daughter who had managed to complete the entire 50k ride on her own, including riding to the top of Rockway Glen on her own thanks to a little encouragement provided by the 50k sweep team.

Thanks Nicole, Christina, and Paule!).

Here’s some pictures of my step-daughter’s own Big Move experience:

This was a huge milestone to cap off her Summer with and I’m thrilled that she was able to do that as a part of the same incredible event that I am also very passionate about.  We have one last big ride to look forward to together later in the Autumn, so she is currently very jazzed about it as she is extremely confident to take it on.

Great job, sweeps!

And a very sincere and heartfelt “Thank you”  as well.

Maybe in the future, Hailey and I will evolve into a “Father and Daughter” sweep team on future Big Move rides.

Who knows?

Definitely something to look forward to in the coming years though.

See you all next year and until then:

Happy Riding!!

Note:  For a little more insight into this years event, please check out this video HERE.