Went from a 235lb guy to an Ironman, keeping the journey going to stay fit. Hope something here helps others!
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Garmin Problems - Again.
I want to love Garmin, I really do.
But their products are flaky. The hardware, the software, all of it. You might find the odd person who hasn't had trouble, but then there are dozens who have.
I've gone through two 305s, a 310XT, and finally I'm on the 910. When I say "gone through" I don't mean I upgraded on purpose, I mean they stopped working.
Lately it's been software, not hardware (although I did have trouble with the heart rate monitor previously, so let's not pretend the hardware is without it's flaws!).
I left my watch in my friend's car, so it wasn't anywhere near my PC. Yet Garmin Express happily told me it was "connected", and had a nice little green circle. That's irritating.
No, instead it told me "There was an error syncing with Garmin Connect".
Fine, misleading and dumb.
When I brought my watch back to within range - it wouldn't sync, giving me an error saying "There was an error syncing with Garmin Connect". Googled for it and found many, many threads with people having the same problem.
Through no help at all from the error message, I swapped the ant stick thing to a different USB port, removed and added the device. It worked.
So it had NOTHING to do with Garmin Connect. Thanks, Garmin, your product still sucks.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Road Bike, Disc Brakes? To Disc or Not To Disc?
The UCI has approved disc brakes for the pro peloton, which has caused a bit of debate and excitement... but the real question is should you or I upgrade?
|Shimano RS685 Road Disc - so very, very shiny|
As a mountain bike enthusiast I've used discs for years, and they make an enormous difference, especially when it gets mucky/wet. They don't get gunked up as easily and they retain their stopping power.
Oh and what stopping power - when you hit the brake you feel an immediate response, even with very little force. It actually takes a bit of time to get used to feathering your brakes without skidding!
The other difference is on the maintenance side - changing a pad is easy enough, but bleeding brakes is a bit of nastiness best left to bike shops. I've tried it myself with varying levels of success... and the odd brake fluid shower.
So they're great for mountain biking - great I'm in! Not so fast...
This will mostly come down to how you ride and where, but for me I rarely brake on my road bike - we're talking once every few minutes, and usually because I'm at a stop sign. I might feather them in between to stay off someone's wheel or what not (when I'm in a group ride, which isn't that often).
Contrast that with mountain biking where you speed to the corner, hammer the brake, speed to the next corner, hammer the brake... I'm on the brakes every few seconds!
The other major difference is those skinny little road tires - they only have so much grip, and you will reach their limit pretty darn quick no matter what kind of brake you use.
So as a value proposition it's pretty weak ... how much faster will your rides be with disc brakes? Safer? It's got to be pretty marginal, unless you live somewhere with a lot of long winding descents.
So if you're still in, now comes the sticker shock... you need a new frame.
Road bikes haven't traditionally come with the disc brake install holes. There's probably a better word for it, but if you want discs on the rear, you need a new frame. Oh sure, there are some conversion kits, but if you got this far you best be doing it right... I wouldn't risk my frame, that's for sure.
If you like going over the handlebars and on to your face, then you could just swap out the front fork and install discs in the front only. I don't.
There are also precious few frames available at the moment - I'm sure it's about to change with the disc brake tsunami that is coming, in a few years this might be as standard as it is on mountain bikes... but for now prepare for some sticker shock.
I certainly wouldn't upgrade just for discs, for the kind of riding I do it's not worth it.
But if I were in the market for a new ride anyway? I'd definitely be tempted... depending on how much it adds to the sticker. Or put off the purchase a year and see what's available in the fall, I get the sense this is about to be a mega trend.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Hail to the Off-season!
Workout Hours by Month
January - 7 (I was sick for most of t)
Feb - 13
March - 10
April - 27
May - 36
June - 38
July - 42
Aug - 22 (vacation)
Sept - 42
Oct - 25
Nov - 15...
... and in the last 2 weeks my grand total is ... 4! Over only 2 bike rides.
Partly due to not being able to run (stubbed my toe badly - first run since October was today).
Partly due to it being the off-season.
Partly due to a renovation project I'm working on. Which by the way is the ultimate core workout...
Going to start ramping up again, building up the running to the half marathon in February.
Also we've got a great "winter" so far, we've been able to mountain bike every single weekend. Keep 'er going!
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Norco Fixed It!
Thanks to Norco and Cycle Solutions in Toronto for getting me a warranty repair on my broken frame!
Good as new. And they covered all the rebuild/etc costs. Couldn't ask for much more than that!
They no longer make the Nitro aluminum 29'er frame, so I now have a frame normally sold on the 2016 Norco Charger 9.1. Feels identical to me when riding it, though, not sure if the geometry is much different.
One thing I noticed is they've added a new piece where the top tube meets the seat tube, right where mine cracked... presumably this is to strengthen it after having to do a bunch of warranty repairs. So this one should be bulletproof.
The other thing I noticed - most of the line-up is 27.5" now days... are the 29'er days numbered?? I love my 29'er, so I hope they stick around! Keep them popular!
Friday, October 30, 2015
My new old 2003 Norco Bush Pilot
With my regular bike in the shop, I managed to pick up something so I don't entirely miss the 2015 fall mountain biking season.
This bike is entry-level even by 2003 standards... it's heavy. Spring shocks (that don't seem to absorb all that much). 26'er. And rim brakes! Internal bottom bracket, that wiggles, ohhhh maaaaan.
What more do you want for $100?
Swapped on some Crank Brothers pedals from another bike, replaced the seat/seatpost with one I borrowed from my cyclocross bike. Replacing the bottom bracket ($15).
It's not bad! I took it out last week and it got the job done, had a really fun ride. Rocks, logs, everything, did OK. A little teeth chattery, heavy on the climbs, but not bad.
Once my regular wheels are back I just might hang on to this bad boy as a tooling around kind of bike, something I can lock up at the store without having it disappear on me... or hand down to my soon-to-be-quite-tall-kids.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Alcohol Free Beer
My struggles with weight are to some degree tied to my lack of judgment after a beer or two, so I decided to park the alcohol consumption for a few months.
(Ok "park" is a strong term ... "moderate"? I still allow myself 2 drinks a week.)
I still really like the taste of beer, though, so I decided to try to find a decent alcohol-free beer.
Decent Beer That's Alcohol Free - Mission Impossible?
I thought so at first, but that's mostly because the grocery store offerings are relatively terrible.
Then I found this website: PremiumNearBeer.com
I bought one of their mixed cases ("Ultimate Beer Mixed Case") just to try and see what I liked. $55 + shipping for 24 near bears seemed steep, but I thought it would be worth the plunge to check it out.
It's very hit and miss. Some of them just don't taste that good. I didn't like the Erdinger for example - which I expected to really enjoy since I love regular Erdinger. But it had a weird aftertaste.
On the other hand two really stuck out (so far):
1. Clauthaler Amber
This tastes so good, the most like a "real" complex beer of the ones I've had so far. To me it was indifferentiable from real beer, just solidly delicious.
2. Weihenstephaner Non-Alcoholic Wheat
This one tastes great, much like a real wheat bear would taste. 500mL is a little much for near beer in my opinion... I really just need a taste most of the time. But really delicious.
3. Beck's (Grocery Store)
I've managed to find the Non-alcohol Becks in my local stores, it's relatively cheap and pretty good. My go-to everyday kind of non-alochol beer.
Friday, October 23, 2015
My Broken Norco Nitro 9.3
I love this bike, so was very sad to find a crack in the frame!
This is no small crack, it goes allll the way around the back. This frame is done.
It sounds like the frame warranty will take care of it, but I will know for sure next week.
UPDATE: Warranty will cover it. Thanks Norco! Frame has been ordered, just waiting and riding a cheapo replacement bike I bought to get through the fall... more on that later!
For now I just want to complain about the design... it's not just this bike, it's a lot of mountain bikes these days. They have top tubes that slope down so far, and then a stubby little bit of seat tube above it. This results in a big long chunk of seat post sticking up beyond the frame.
Seat posts have a "minimum insertion point" to make sure there's a lot of seat post in the seat tube. I had more than the minimum inserted - well over an inch, probably more. So should have been fine.
But I'm fairly tall and not all that light (185lbs neighbourhood) so that's a lot of weight to have moving around on that seatpost. By it sticking out this far it creates leverage that presumably eventually caused the seat tube to fatigue. It shouldn't, as long as the "minimum insertion point" is met, but here we are.
Hopefully they do right by the warranty and I get a nice shiny new frame!
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Mountain Biking at Buckwallow (Gravenhurst, Ontario)
Buckwallow has a little of everything. All the singletrack is rated 1-5, with 5 being "you are batshit crazy"... and as the picture below shows, I was tempted and bit off more than I could chew.
The guy who runs the place was there to show me the map and give me some suggestions. Awesome!
His favourite is "Missing Link", and he said the crowd favourite is "Still Here". Loved both and for entirely different reasons.
Missing Link uses the natural terrain, like the exposed rock as banking... it was wonderful. Rooty near the end, but just very much in tune with the forest.
Still Here is the exact opposite - it's like a roller coaster, hard packed twisty speedy fun.
The two trails really sum up the place - everything is different and something for everyone. I checked out pretty much everything, which lead to this unfortunate incident...
I'm not a "rock guy" - just not used to riding over rock. I came up to a pretty significant rock drop, locked up to stop, then as I fell over slowly couldn't unclip from my pedal... roooookie stuff. Shin bashed against the rock, lucky not to break it! Oh well.
Other than that I spent over 2 hours there and loved it, lots of fun, lots of challenges, lots of beautiful terrain... fall colours....... wonderful.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
The Durham Hilly Hundred - 100km of hilly cycling pain and pleasure
What it Is
A 100km cycling route that features as many hills as could be found in Durham.
Where to Park
Captain Michael Vandenbos or All Saints High School in Whitby - both on Country Lane North of Rossland.
Here it is on Strava:
And my first crack at it:
Most of the time you're either going up or down, so I won't highlight every slope... but here are some of the key hills.
4km - short steep little hill, wake up the legs
10.5-12.5 - Ashburn hill. First test.
20-23.5 - Coates rollers. Big rollers.
25 - not a hill but careful on Simcoe and Shirley Road - best to do when not too busy (avoid rush hour)
30-32 - Purple Hill. Big. Higest point of the ride.
36-38 - Blackstock Pain. A couple very steep hills, 13-14% at times! Leg burners
39-41 - Long climb, not terribly steep
43-44.5 - Long, steep climb
48 - short steep climb
54.5 - steep climb, medium length, but by now your legs are feeling it, right?
56.5 - another climb, not quite as steep
61 - long climb, not terribly steep
68-71 - rollers - going west they're not that bad (try east sometime)
74-77 - Howden rollers - paaaain. Steep, up and down
79.5 - Up high again - short climb, but nice view at the top
81 - steep short hill!
96 - one last steep one... VERY steep. Short. But STEEP.
Enough? I hope so! Enjoy!
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Race Report: RBC Run for the Kids 15km
|Me ready to rock|
(and breaking the rule about
not wearing the race shirt
before you run the race)
Final result: 1:14:01 (4:57/km)
No pressure, maybe it helped. I felt my pacing was spot on - I was getting passed uphill near the start, but didn't panic and just let my pace drop. Made it up on the downhills, passed quite a few people that way.
The course was pretty hilly, we went down into a ravine and back up, then into a park and down into the same ravine, and back up! Pacing and patience, 15km is not so short that you can go balls-out and not pay for it later.
At the halfway point I was averaging about 5:01/km and was still feeling well within myself, so figured a sub-5:00/km was possible. Steadily increased the effort until the last kilometer, then let it all out. In the end I finished at 1:14:01 and a 4:57/km pace, which is really good for my current fitness.
People are so ridiculously impatient... one road crossing, there were people honking and honking, I could hear them from a kilometer away. When I finally got there I saw a lady almost drive over the cop signalling her to stop - he slammed his hands on her hood, presumably partially to get her to not run him over (although partially in frustration I'm sure!).
Just no love for events that close roads in our car city, even ones that raise millions of dollars for a good cause... ah well, that's life in the big city! It actually got my heart rate up and probably helped me finish off with a good kick, so thanks. :)
My overall impression was very good - lots of drink stations, fully stocked with water/Gatorade. Course was interesting and fun. Vibe was super positive.
The only thing I didn't love was joining up with the 7km folks for the last kilometer... the timing wasn't great, we joined the slower people in the 7km race (people who had taken 40 minutes to get to their 6km point...) so there was a lot of weaving around to keep up to pace. It was really wide, though, we had the entire southbound lanes of Yonge street (3 lanes?) so it wasn't that bad, but if they could push that 7km start back about 15 minutes it would have been perfect.
All in all a good time, will probably be back next year.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Lighting and Cycling In the Dark
It's that time of year again... the sun goes down a little earlier in Toronto. Gone are the hours and hours of evening sunlight, replaced with darkness.
|Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3|
Fine for being seen, not great for seeing...
The Darkness Experience
Motorists seem to give you a lot more room when you have lighting and it's dark. I guess they don't quite know what they're dealing with, and they definitely see you (LED lights!). I couldn't believe how much space I was afforded.
It's a bit spooky riding in the dark. Headlights do weird things when they're coming up from behind, pretty neat. You definitely focus on things that are closer since you can't see far down the road - that lends itself to a fantastic sensation of speed. At one point I felt like I was just flying, looked down and I was only going 26km/h!
All in all it went pretty well, except........ I couldn't see.
Planet Bike Beamer 1 and Blinky 3 LED Bicycle Lights
The rear blinking red light was great - piercing, even. Very easy to see from afar.
The front light... not so much. In fact I'd go as far as to say it's completely useless in lighting up what's on the road ahead. On their web site, the "Beamer 3" is rated at just 21 lumens (measure of light output) - I can't even guess how low the "Beamer 1" was. They don't seem to even make it anymore, possibly because it was completely useless.
OK not completely useless, I'm sure I could be seen, which was slightly less than completely terrifying when I was in the city with the street lighting.
But in the country? Riding blind. I could see maybe 10 feet immediately ahead, if that... and when you get up over 30km/h that is terrifying. Good thing I knew the roads!
MEC Zinger 480
I went out and bought this light, based largely on the reviews. 480 lumens! That's a lot of lumens.
$49 is a bit steep for a light, but being able to see the road will be wonderful. I'll post a full review once I get a chance to try it.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Race Preview: RBC Run For The Kids 2015
This is a fundraiser for Youth Mental Health initiatives at Sunnybrook Hospital.
There are three options: 5k, 7k, or 15k.
Registration is free! Yay. Well... except you need to raise $100 to participate for the hospital ($40 for youth, $20 for kids). If you hit up a few friends/family $100 isn't really that much. And it's for a good cause, right? RBC generously matched employee contributions, so $50 could get you into the show. Good deal.
I'll be doing the 15km.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Rollerblading (a.k.a. In-line Skating)
Thanks to my kids finding my wife's old blades, I got back on mine for the first time in ohhhh a decade. I used to love blading! Even played a bit of roller hockey back in the day.
I made it about 50 feet before *snap* ... broke the strap. Guess the old plastic didn't hold up.
After some debate with myself about whether to fix them, I landed on buying a new pair.
|K2 Power 90|
New In-line Skates
They have really changed a lot since "my day". The wheels have grown to up to 100mm... these are 90mm, feel huge! The larger wheels really speed, and they can bump over lots of bigger stuff (curbing, etc) that my old blades wouldn't have done as well at.
The boot is also a lot more comfortable, they've managed to get more air into them rather than the originals (which were more like a ski boot).
Lots of straps, etc... just a really nice feel out there.
No. No it's not.
The clerks at the store almost seemed shocked someone was buying them. Lots of previous model years on sale. But hey, I'm not about being on trend, I'm about having fun and staying in shape - and they're just as fun as I remember.
You bet! I found one in Quebec, anyway. They seem to be off-shoots of speed skating clubs. This didn't exist (to my knowledge!) all those years ago, blading was more about hockey and/or beaches.
I might go just to be among my people, see who the heck blades anymore! Did a trial 30km yesterday, not flat, included sidewalks and stuff, but it went pretty well so figure 42.2km isn't that hard.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
2015 Weight Loss Goal Check
|Et tu, scale?|
So instead... I actually managed to gain even more weight and was over 200lbs by spring. A very food-intensive vacation and a string of illnesses tripped me up, big-time! Had to totally scrap my plan and start over.
Since then, I've managed to bring my weight down to the high 180's (with a minor blip on my summer vacation a few weeks ago to over 190 gain - yeesh).
I am currently on an 11 day stretch where I'm holding myself to 2200 calories per day combined with 11 hours of exercise, Intermittent Fasting, and no alcohol. So far so good.
Should work out to about 5lbs of weight loss.
175lbs seems like it's going to be tough, but I can get there, as long as I have the willpower!
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Paddling the Grand River: Cambridge through Paris to Brantford
My buddy and I took a trip out to the Grand River today. It was wonderful!
|Paris - portage around the dam|
Useful Resource #1: the book "Paddling the Grand River" from the Grand River Conservation Authority. Excellent, had the portages and such all mapped out, as well as descriptions of the various portions of the river.
Useful Resource #2: this web site, lists the various launch points along the river. We had some trouble finding a suitable place at Gilkison Flats in Brantford, but the Ballantyne Drive access point was perfect, as was the one in Paris at the rail trail parking lot.
|Railway Bridge Remnants between Cambridge & Paris|
Logistical Advice: if you have your own boat, probably best to do what we did... park a car at the finish, then drive another car up to the start. There are tour companies that drive people's cars up, but if you're a pretty good paddler then you'll probably want to do a longer trip than what they offer. It took us 4h30 to go Paris to Brantford, we were full steam by any stretch.
About Those Tour Companies... we saw a lot of people out there, in rafts, tubes, canoes, kayaks, many from the tour companies. Let's just say the paddles and equipment are very "recreational". If you're out to goof around and splash and barely paddle, go for it, but anyone who is even moderately familiar with paddling will probably not be hugely happy with what they get. I really didn't get the rafting/tubing - the rapids were very mild, certainly nothing that would give anyone a particularly big thrill. More of a sightseeing floating down the river kind of thing.
Rapids and Rocks - There are some rapids all the way through - some are a bit freaky, but really nothing dangerous. We banged the bottom of the canoe a lot, you really need to read the water and when you see disturbed water be careful, rocks are almost always right before it. It would probably be better in the spring, or generally when water levels are higher.
|Dam in Brantford|
Dams - these are dangerous, so make sure you know where they are! There were signs but I was expecting buoys and a marked off area - none of that was there, so it's possible to not notice and get one's self in serious trouble. Be very alert!
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Northumberland County Forest
For a change, we decided to drive a little further out to the amazing Northumberland County Forest. It was about an hour drive from Whitby, and well worth it.
|Start of the Northumblerland Humbler|
I had been out here once before for a 30km race I did called the Northumberland Humbler, and I had always meant to return. Finally made it back.
What a blast! The singletrack in here is so much fun. Lots of fast, flowy trails.
Link to a high res version here.
Stuff we did:
Red Loop - this was a really fun flowy section near the parking lot, a good loop to do a the end to get the juices flowing before you go to the car
Green Loop... kind of - it's less of a loop and more of bunch of trails. We started by going to the far south, climbing the really challenging "Hog's Back" climb, then going to the north sections to play around a bit. Lots of great trails. Did I mention singletrack?
Dragonfly and Elderberry - Dragonfly was my favourite part - really great singletrack, totally designed for mountain biking. Lots of banking, flowy stuff, some challenging climbs, just awesome. Elderberry was much rougher - lots of sticks and leaves on the ground, still fun but more wild. Lots of poison ivy - we wore long socks, I wouldn't go up that far without them! In fact I'd stay out of this forest period, it was everywhere, bring socks.
Motorized Singletrack - south of Dunbar, east of Beagle is a chunk of singletrack that dirt bikes can use. It's really hilly, which wouldn't be so bad but the dirt bikes beat the hell out of the trails... it's all very loose. It's cool they have an area to go, but I'd generally avoid it while mountain biking. Oh and they're terrifying when they fly up, even though you hear them coming the speed is something else.
We managed all of that in 2 1/2 hours, despite my buddy being restricted to single speed after a rear derailleur got funky on him - so it's not the hugest property, but definitely enough to keep a person busy for a solid day.
They knocked it out of the park on a few fronts:
- Fast flowy trails
- Awesome marking on-trail and maps everywhere
- Pretty minor sand, considering where we were (compare to Ganaraska for example!)
- Single-direction trails - so much less stopping, and there's less people in there to begin with
- Separate area for motorized vehicles (other than having to cross those trails - you could avoid them entirely)
And most of all everyone was super friendly - it was amazing, even when we first pulled in a guy came up and asked us if it was our first time there and started giving us advice about which trails to check out! That doesn't happen closer to the city, very nice.
Well done, Northumberland, thanks for the great day!
Well done, Northumberland, thanks for the great day!
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Race Report: Rockstar Adventure Race (4 hour)
My buddy and I did the 4 hour version of the Rockstar Adventure Race.
Great race, lots of fun.
Edit: We Won! Top team of 2 male! Results
Stage 1: Short Run + Mountain Bike
The race started with about a 1.5km run, before heading out on bikes. This was presumably to spread out the bikes before hitting the trails - very good idea indeed!
By the time we got biking the skies had really opened up. I was quickly into the red, badly... just the heat, humidity, and fast start really kicked me in the nuts. I pushed to keep up with my buddy but a few times had to slow us down.
Stage 2: Running and canoeing and random weird stuff
After this point we had over 3 hours left to visit as many checkpoints as possible. We were given a map of all the checkpoints with brief descriptions of each. You could paddle (canoe) or run to all of them, your choice.
A few of them were goofy challenge things - like you had to go out on a rubber inner tube to a flag in the middle of a pond, or dive to the bottom of the lake to retrieve a CD, or use a slingshot...
Each was worth a certain amount of points (30/40/50/60/80).
The first problem was our plan had been to canoe first - but because of the storm we weren't allowed on the water. Instead we did one of the running loops to pick up two 50 and two 40 point checkpoints. That went pretty well and fast.
After that we did the canoe to the paddleboard station, where we had to use the stand-up paddle board to retrieve a flag from a buoy. My buddy did that one, went well.
Next we paddled to everything we had intended to paddle to. Our big mistake was in our planning we thought we could hit them all, so we didn't spend a whole lot of time strategizing on which to put the highest priority on. Sometimes you could nail off a bunch of 30/40 pointers in quick succession (ie. on the boat) but other ones like the inner tube just took way too much time. We had to run about a kilometer each way, carrying an inner tube, plus the time to swim out - it took way too long for 60 points!
As a result we missed out on the 80 point one, just ran out of time.
At the end we had a choice to nail off a 30 and 40 point one one by running or to canoe back to the finish and try the goofy ones near there. We chose to do the run - which I think was the right choice! Except the skis opened up - massive terrifying lightning and thunder. Some of the flashes were so close, there was nothing between the flash and the thunder. Freaky!
Because of the storm we were stuck out in the middle of nowhere and couldn't paddle back to the finish in time. It's supposed to be a 10 point penalty every minute you're late, we were very very late. But they stayed true to not penalizing people for being stuck off the lake, so what would have been a 290 point penalty was reversed.
We won! I know we weren't the fastest team, but I think we made best of our 4 hours. Maybe not perfectly, but well enough to win.
It was a really good time. The format was cool, lots of thinking and even the navigation was pretty darn cool. Other than my being in the red for half the race I thought we did really well, learned a few things for next time.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Race Preview: RockstAR Adventure Race
Marked mountain bike course, then run/canoe through woods and water to as many checkpoints as possible before 4 hours is up. 8 hours for the brave!
This race is put on by the same folks who run Storm the Trent. We had a great time, it was well run, so why not try another one?
I've heard rumours of having to dive to the bottom of lakes, paddle inner tubes... and other nonsense. OK calling it nonsense is a little strong - I'm sure it's "fun" but I like racing more than fooling around! Hopefully that goofy stuff doesn't take up too much of the 4 hours and the rest will be more of an endurance and orienteering test.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Rail Trails: Uxbridge to Lindsay, Beaver River Wetland Trail
Had a great ride today!
This is the route: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6664138
Uxbridge to Blackwater Junction: 0km-15km
Kilometers 1-15 were on the Uxbridge-Lindsay rail trail. This section followed the Beaver River Wetlands, very pretty and natural.
Blackwater Junction to Sunderland/Cannington/Woodville: 15km - 32km
Blackwater used to be a real railway junction - at this point you can either travel north up to Cannington/Woodville or east toward Lindsay.
We followed the Beaver River Wetland Trail north first. This trail has been massively improved since I last rode it - all but about 5km is nice hardpacked small gravel, very well groomed and flat. The other 5km is the old rail bed, which has suffered from some serious frost heave... we were on mountain bikes so no trouble at all, really not that bad.
Sunderland is the only tricky part - the trail sends you off onto Highway 7 and you have to go through the Esso/Co-op parking lot to get back on it. Poor sign-age to tell you how to do this, so bring Google or just poke around...
The other somewhat annoying thing is the north end of the trail ends abruptly before you get to Woodville... you're punted out to roads as the trail is fenced off (private property apparently). You can choose to go north Woodville to refuel, or skip it like we did. Sorry Woodville, fix your trail.
Woodville area to Oakwood (road): 32km-52km
This isn't trail, it's just a road link we made to get to the other rail trail... but gave the opportunity to restock on Gatorade and ice cream at the corner store in Oakwood. Mmm, Kawartha ice cream! Roads were generally not too busy and nice country (if you like farms).
Oakwood to Uxbridge: 52km-84km
This stretch of rail trail runs all the way to Lindsay, but we picked it up mid-route just south of Oakwood.
Back to very well groomed rail trail, really nice. I thought this part was just going to be us out in the open surrounded by farmland - I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of variety. Farms gave way to forest which eventually turned back to the marsh, as we returned to the Blackwater-to-Uxbridge section we had started on.
Review and Unsolicited Advice
The trails were mostly really good. We rode mountain bikes this time, but a cyclocross or hybrid would be more than capable.
I was struck by how removed all of these rail corridors are from humanity. You pass the odd house or farm and cross roads here and there, but there are very long stretches when it was just us, the bikes, and nature. Serene!
They do slow you down more than you might expect. I can usually keep around 30km/h on the road bike solo over a long ride, but we averaged just 22km/h. We weren't hammering it, but I honestly don't think we'd have gone that much faster - the trails are sometimes a bit soft and it really slows things down. Not to mention mountain bikes aren't that fast to begin with!
I'd say the Blackwater up to Woodville part was probably the most interesting, followed by Uxbridge to Blackwater. The Blackwater-Lindsay stretch was better than expected but nothing too exciting.
Finally if you like rail trails I would highly recommend the Victoria Rail Trail, especially starting up in Fenlon Falls and heading to Kinmount - that is even better IMO! And if I ever get the time I really want to follow it up to Haliburton. Next adventure, maybe.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Cycling - Headwind in Every Direction! Here's why.
I came up with the simple explanation.
And that is why you feel a headwind on the bike.
If the air is completely still and you are moving 30km/h through it - the amount of air hitting you is exactly what it would be if you were standing around in a 30km/h wind!
So really, next time you feel the headwind where you don't think it should be, just remember it's your reward for going so darn fast. Congrats!
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Breaking the Stupid 10% Running Rule
There's this old adage in running that says never increase your mileage more than 10% in a week. EVER.
She even refers to it as "one of the most important and time-proven principles in running"
Wow. Serious business. Surely that 10% must come from some very rigorous science to be so strongly entrenched!
Nope. Someone pulled it out of their butt, other people repeated it, and it became running gospel.
This kind of anti-scientific stuff drives me crazy. I've frequently broken this so-called rule - in fact this year I've run once a week as many times as I've managed twice a week. And guess what...
... nothing bad happened. I got to run more. It was great.
A Better Rule
What rule do I follow instead? It's the "listen to your body" rule. If something doesn't feel right, give it attention. If everything feels fine, give 'er. It's worked way better than arbitrary percentages pulled out of people's butts.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Paddling Conditions - Wind and Water Flow (Canada)
As I do more paddling, I've found it increasingly important to know the conditions. This is especially true on large bodies of water (wind!) and up/down rivers and creeks (water flow).
Water Flow (Hydrometric Data)
This is an invaluable resource. Live updated water flow data from stations across Canada, telling you in very near real time just what rivers/creeks are doing.
The water levels and discharge usually track each other pretty closely, but if you're going into a river/creek that has shallow areas it's good to know when the levels are high enough for you to have clearance.
This weekend I paddled the Big East River as part of a race - I had heard the currents can be very strong, so I compared last year's data to this year's and realized the flow was about 50% of what it had been, so it was going to be fine.
|Screenshot from Windfinder |
Android App (Pro)
There is also a WindFinder phone app - I bought the Android version, it's handy, lets you save favourite locations and such.
My wisdom about wind on a large body of water: the more water the wind travels over to get to you, the bigger the waves. So if you have a wind out of the north but you also have shore to your north, you'll have protection... if you are on the south shore and have an entire lake to your north, look out!
Also wind can really impact the boat's handling, tends to spin you ways you're not trying to go. You often end up paddling on one side what seems to be forever just to go straight...
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Race Report: Big East River X (40km solo)
40km of paddling, starting in Huntsville (Ontario). Mostly river paddling, first up-river, then down-river... with small lake thrown in.
Really well run event - great people, and how can you beat a $12 pub voucher for the post-race meal? You can't!
I used my Wenonah Wilderness canoe, which is not a racing boat really... so this was more just about racing myself than everyone else. I ended up 4th in category, which was a little disappointing... I didn't see any other boats out there ahead of me that looked like C1 "stock" - turns out it includes some really narrow fancy boats! Mine's almost 30" at the waterline, some of the other stock C1s are 22"... I thought they were proboats but guess not!
Things I Found Out
- 5 hours and 25 minutes of paddling is hell on the butt. Why the butt!? I don't completely know. It's almost like the bending over stretches out the muscles that connect through it, combined with sitting for that long... I mean it seriously hurts, like can't sit on uncushioned chair hurts!
- 5 hours and 25 minute s of paddling is blister inducing. Both hands, blisters everywhere, 8 in all. One popped near the end, that hurt until it was over
- I can maintain a pretty steady pace for 5 hours and 25 minutes! Other than the aforementioned butt/blisters, I actually felt remarkably good through the whole thing.
On to My Race In More Detail Than You Probably Care About... Feel Free to Skip!
The Start and Up the Muskoka River
It was a mass start, not sure how many boats but 50 or more.
Given my lack of competitive ambition and knowledge that my solo stock canoe would be slow, I lingered a bit farther back at the start.
Gun went off, I started in clean water, and just looked for boats that were about my speed. All in all it was a pretty clean start (although one kayaker managed to find his way into the drink - oops!)
After awhile I managed to tag onto the back of a C2 (2-person) canoe paddled by two rather exceptional teenage girls. I bit awkward being a 40 year old dude drafting off teenagers, but I got over it when I felt that headwind - yikes!
The Lake Part 1
About 3.5km in you stop going up the Muskoka River and dump into a lake. This was a little choppy, but nothing compared to the way back... I'll get to that though! My speed to this point was pretty good, wind was at our backs, felt great.
Big East River - Upstream With a Paddle
The river started out quite wide and with a slow current, so at first I figured this was a piece of cake! I was holding my own against a few of the C2s anyway, live was good.
As we went further and further the current got trickier and trickier. At times it was quite strong, and lots of corners.
My boat corners really well, and doing all the time I do in Duffins Creek in Ajax I'm pretty good at knowing where to stick the boat. Passed a few floundering C2's on the way up, and generally felt OK... although I was very ready to turn around by the turn-around point! That was almost 3 hours into my race, more than I'd ever paddled, and it was only halfway.
Big East River - Downstream
At first the river was fast, and again my ability to read currents and get my boat in the right places had me keeping up with the boats around me. But as it slowed down and the currents eased off, it got harder and harder... I didn't really run out of energy, but my advantages slipped away and I got passed by two of the C2s that I'd passed going the other way (including those teenage girls - the horror!)
The Lake Part 2
The wind had really picked up, so there was a fair bit of chop on the lake. I had kind of hoped this would work to my favour but I watched as the C2 teams pulled away, and one from behind caught up (to the point I could hear them doing their "huts"). This was my toughest section, my little boat got tossed around pretty good, hard to keep momentum.
Muskoka River and Finish Line!
Finally we turned back onto the Muskoka River. The 3.5km that had gone by so quickly on the way up felt like forever, even with the nice tailwind...
Midway back I felt a blister in my hand pop. Between that pain and my butt pain I was really ready to be done!
I hustled to make sure I stayed ahead of the aforementioned C2, and finished just shy of my 7km/h goal (6.9km/h... so close!)
All in all a good day, did about as well as I'd expected I could. Not sure how eager I am to do another solo canoe race, having a partner is a nice advantage!
Friday, June 19, 2015
Race Preview: Big East River X
I'm doing the 40km solo in my Wenonah Wilderness... it's in the "stock C1" class.
|My Boat... so pretty|
I have recently found a great site for river flows, it's the Canada Water Office.
We haven't had massive rain this week, and the flow has reduced since the rain last week... looking good for the up-river portions.
I recently bought the WindFinder Android app, which includes what they call a "Superforecast". It is pretty super, reasonably accurate from my experience! It's predicting winds out of the south, which is OK news for the lake portion (headwind on the way back, though).
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Race Report: Moraine Relay 2015
Great race, great weather!
First off I just want to thank Mazda for letting me be part of their corporate team, but more importantly for their sponsorship of the Moraine Relay. It's huge for this organization to have that kind of support, does a lot to make sure the trails stay amazing.
We didn't form our own team this year, so I was a refugee and joined Mazda for a single stage (stage 8).
I parked at the stage finish, then biked back to the start. During that journey I encountered these guys... pretty sure they have the right of way? Best to stop and take a picture either way.
It was much better. Wind was out of the south, stage goes west/north, so little bits of tailwind and some very tolerable cross-wind.
I hammered it right from the start - only doing one short stage means you can go all out! I don't need these legs again, so kill it!
In the end I finished in just over 31 minutes, so killed my 2015 time. I might win the stage - should be in the running anyway! Their timing isn't very sophisticated (rounded to the minute) so a bit of a coin toss if it's close.
Edit: I had the fastest time of the day for Stage 8! Who00t!
In any case it was nice to be a part of a really great event and a great organization that does great work. Hope to be back in 2016!
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Race Preview: Moraine Adventure Relay 2015
My History At the Moraine Relay
This race is a 14 stage relay, starting with a canoe stage, then a series of mountain bike and trail running stages across the top of Toronto. You can have teams of 15 or fewer (depending on how many stages each team member is willing to take on!).
We have done it as:
- 2010 - Trail Pythons
- 2011 and 2012 - Blood of the Ridge
- 2013 - Ridge Racers (joined existing team)
- 2014 - Four Guys Walk Into A Bar
Last year was really great, with only 4 of us it came together really easily, minimal logistics.
This year we couldn't pull the same people together, so it was a choice of actively recruiting or just letting it go for the year. So we decided to take 2015 off.
... until a few days ago, when a team looking for a cyclist reached out and I signed up! So I'll be doing Stage 8 again this year, a short fast bike stage. I have done it a few times, it's mostly roads and fast, the only difficulty being the wind if it's from the West (it almost always is!). As well there's one rocky/sandy off-road section near the end, but it's short.
Still also have feelers out to see if anyone needs a canoe team, just to make a full day of it. Probably not by this point, but who knows!
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Race Report: Canoe the Nonquon 2015
Started with a leisurely paddle through the twisting bends of the Nonquon River.
Sidebar: Talked to a local chap near the start, he remembered back 20 years when they started quite a bit further upstream - even further up than the first time we did it. Really would like to see that restored someday! Although I've read some race reports of water too shallow and mucking through so maybe not.
We did OK, got the hang of the sharp turns pretty quick this time. In the 18' flat-bottom no-rocker canoe those turns are tricky, but a little rudder'ing helped get it through.
The wind was pretty strong, mostly in our face on the way down the river (although a lot of protection from trees and such).
I still have nightmares about 2013, when we came out on Lake Scugog and were rocked and rolled... then spent the next hour and change paddling straight into a headwind at our slowest ever pace.
2015 was much kinder - we had a stiff wind, but it was at our backs. At first that was great, but as we went on a few kilometers from the mouth of the Nonquon it got fairly choppy. Not as bad as 2013, but enough to distract us from moving the boat forward. Hard to get a nice solid paddle stroke when the water is up and down below you!
We managed, though. In the end we averaged 8.4km/h (compared to 8.1km/h last year in low wind conditions). It isn't wonderful (thought the tail wind would help more!) but still not bad, considering we haven't put in a huge amount of time in the boat so far this year.
I'm toying with doing the Big East River X race up in Huntsville, Ontario. My partner is on vacation so this would be solo, and it's a whopping 40km... so could make for a pretty long day, 5 hours plus. I haven't spent that much time in the boat, but I can't get it out of my head that it would be interesting to do... we'll see!
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Race Preview: Canoe The Nonquon 2015
Historical! 47th annual running. No portaging, all different ability levels, it's a lot of fun. Starts in a twisty river, becomes a slightly less twisty river, and ends with a soul-destroying paddle across Lake Scugog.
Our History at Nonquon
2014 was a bit of an anomaly - due to low water, the race started 5km downstream from the normal start. Fewer twisty bits plus favourable lake winds mad it easier for us, and we actually won our division!
2013 was the full length and we really suffered into a brutal brutal headwind on the lake. Our average speed dropped to like 5-6km/h, although it felt a lot like 0km/h. Rough conditions, too, which given our relative inexperience at the time was distracting and slowed us down further! Not much fun.
This year the weather is looking promising so far. Possibly a tail-wind on the lake? Or is that too much to ask for! Not entirely sure on the water levels, it rained a lot this past weekend but it was very dry before that, might not translate into much higher river levels.
Looking forward to it!
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Ontario Highway Traffic Act - New Laws Effecting Cyclists!
- "Dooring" a cyclist will be a $1000 fine. Still a good idea to stay out of the door zone, but at least there is a recognition about how seriously dangerous this can be.
- Failure to have proper lighting - fines increased (as high as $500!), and the red light in the back may now flash (previously only solid red was allowed). Front light must still be white and non-flashing. Also note that reflective strips on the forks and seat-stays are mandatory. (Note: all of this lighting business applies from the 1/2 hour prior to sunset through to the 1/2 hour after sunrise)
- 1 meter clearance while passing cyclists - this one is long overdue - motorists will have to leave 1 meter of space between their vehicle and a cyclist, or face a whopping fine.
- Legal to ride on paved shoulders - previously it was illegal, although common practice. The law is now changing to allow us to ride on paved shoulders.
This article from the National Post runs down the rest of the law changes (they aren't all about cyclists!).
This is the actual act.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Paddling Duffins Creek - Updated!
I originally wrote about Paddling Duffins Creek in Ajax, Ontario a while ago, but figured I'd post some updates.
New Boat Launch
They've added a canoe/kayak boat launch and dock at Rotary Park in Ajax. Used to be a bit dicey to launch there, but now it's wonderful.
Shallow Water and Rapids...
No rain for a few weeks, so the creek was quite low.
I still made it up to the 401, but it was really shallow and not very fun for paddling up-stream from about Bailey up. Downstream was mostly fine, but there were also a few small rapids sections that were quicker and trickier than I remembered.
South of Bailey, everything was still nice. So if you're not the greatest paddler, dropping in at Rotary Park and going up to Bailey and back is a good day out (about 4km each way, 8km total). Mostly away from civilization, other than fishermen.
A few weeks ago we launched at Rotary Park, but then found the lake was completely placid... low wind, mostly from the north.
I'd just caution that the lake can bite you if you're not careful... so watch the wind forecast. But lots of nice areas around Ajax.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Paddling the Pigeon River (Kawartha Lakes, Ontario)
First point of clarification: this is the Pigeon River in Kawartha Lakes (near Peterborough) not the one near Thunder Bay, or any of the other Pigeon Rivers out there!
Google Maps link
We parked where the Victoria Rail Trail crosses Mt Horeb Road. There's a little path on the southeast side of the bridge that other people have used to launch boats - it got the job done.
First we tried going upstream. It was passable but not by much, and got very shallow at spots.
Downstream was quite a bit better, especially once we passed the junction with the other arm of the river. We saw a much better launching point on Hogsback Road - if we go back, that's the one to use.
Scenery was beautiful - lots of points where you are well away from most of civilization. Nature, birds, the odd fisherman.
Then we got to the flooded area with old tree stumps and logs everywhere. This goes on for quite some time, it's like a tree graveyard. Shallow at times, loggy and stumpy other times, really hard to find a clear path through. We figure this is the flooded area behind the dam at Omemee, but that was built so long ago it's hard to believe the stumps and logs have survived this long!
After passing under Ski Hill Road, it was a bit better - at least on the north side of the island. South side, still shallow and not great.
All in all I wouldn't really recommend paddling here. It was fun to check out, but in a few weeks the weeds will really take over, it was pretty shallow for paddling in a lot of places, and the logs/stumps were really annoying.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Race Report: Storm the Trent - Part 2 - Timing and Navel-Gazing
They posted the results, so I took it and being the Excel Wizard that I am parsed and chunked the data.
Most I was curious how the H-E-double-hockeystick we managed to finish 3rd overall among teams when it felt like such a bad day almost end to end!
Trek #1: 27th of 75 teams!
We knew this went terribly. Getting lost really hurt us, when I compare us to the #1 team we spotted them over 10 minutes to the first checkpoint. Note to self: next year follow those guys!!!
MTB #1: 3rd fastest, 18th overall by end
It's funny, because I didn't feel like we were all that fast... I really held us back, struggling up the first hill especially. Yet this was our best leg on land... wild.
Trek #2: 6th fastest, 8th overall by end
Using the time from the checkpoint where we got off the bike to the last checkpoint on this trek (so it excludes a tiny bit). I thought we had really rocked this, so 6th fastest is actually a tiny bit disappointing. I don't think we could have gone much more directly through the checkpoints, just down to slower running I guess. I was super cooked with the heat by this point.
MTB #2: 5th fastest, 6th overall by end
This includes the run from the last checkpoint of Trek #2 to the end of the mountain bike.
Nothing about this bike felt good. I can't even remember passing people, but we must have at some point. I'm so much better of a cyclist than this, but the heat and accumulated being-in-the-red just got to me, I definitely was the weak link on land for our team.
Canoe: 1st fastest! 3rd overall by end
Fastest team! Beat the winning team by only 30 seconds. My partner was pretty gassed and we weren't being pressured from behind, nor did we have anyone to chase, so we actually had taken this pretty easy... it's funny how this went from our absolute weakest leg just a few years ago to far and away our strongest.
We finished 3rd best of the 75 teams, 2nd best of the teams of two men, and smiling like we'd stole something!
What Went Right?
When I look at other teams I can tell a bunch of them had navigational issues during Trek #2. Also everyone was pretty slow in the canoe - most people don't put any kind of priority on it, show up with a rental boat and slog through it.
What Went Wrong?
Humidity, heat - that seems to have really effected everyone though. We were perfect on navigation after the very first checkpoint, but unfortunately the first one had the biggest penalty for getting it wrong (having to stand in a very long line!).
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Race Report: Storm the Trent (Hike)
2nd place team of 2 men, 4th overall! (Spoiler alert?)
The format is quite a bit different from anything we've done before.
Mostly we've done triathlon-style races, where you canoe, then mountain bike, then run, all on a marked course.
This race you knew there would be canoe'ing, mountain biking and running - but ahead of time we didn't know what order or what the course would be like.
The day of the race we headed up and received maps on check-in. There was:
1) A running section - this one you had to visit 4 checkpoints in a conservation area before heading to a bike transition (unmarked!)
2) Biking on-road (marked course)
3) A running section - 4 more checkpoints on a farm/wooded property (unmarked!)
4) Biking on road and trails (marked)
5) Canoe to visit 3 checkpoints
The surprise was that despite the race website suggesting there was very little orienteering... there was actually a fair bit in the running sections! Probably nothing compared to "real" adventure racing (mostly there were trails that could be followed), but for us it was a whole new challenge.
We had heard horror stories about people in long lines waiting to punch in at the first checkpoint, so we were really ready to let fly at the start to avoid that fate.
The map showed a small connector trail that would take us to the trail we wanted to be on, eventually leading to the checkpoint.
Great. We found the small connector trail ... which lead nowhere. It didn't go up the hill we needed to, and it wasn't much of a trail... so we bushwacked up a hill, which seemed to be great when we found a trail at the top of the hill. I thought we were on our target trail... nope, we ended up back at the road we'd started on!!! Slightly closer to our destination.
We ran along the road, bush-wacked some more, and finally found the checkpoint... and a line of about 50 people waiting to check in.
Horrible. Couldn't have been a worse start. We were behind everyone (or at least it felt like it) - even the walkers. Looking back it cost us over 5 minutes, which at the time felt like a lifetime.
The other 3 checkpoints went perfect - we took direct routes, not following others on wild goose chases... but we were too fast, by this time my heart rate was way way way up there. Did I mention it was humid and about 30 degrees? I was baking and in the red, big-time.
This was all road, starting with a huge hill.
I don't hate hills - but already being in the red and overheating this just cooked me that much further. I had to ask for my team-mate to slow down (something I would repeat throughout the bike, sadly!).
After the hill life got better - finally some fast sections where I could get some air and cool down, find a steady pace.
Then we pulled off toward Run #2, but first we had a long rocky climb ... once again I was into the red and overheating! This would be the story of most of my race.
We nailed this one. We weren't running as fast at this point, more of a light jog, but we purposefully went almost directly to every checkpoint. I don't think we could have followed a more direct route - the exact plan we had cooked up before the race for this section is what we executed.
At this point we had no idea where we were in the race. People were doing checkpoints in random order, you'd pass people but then they'd go another way, it was pandemonium!
This one started out on the road, which was great. Soon after it turned into a smaller private road, which eventually devolved into an ATV trail at best. Really deep water/mud pits in a few small sections, but other than that very rideable. Hilly and bumpy, but nothing technical or serious.
After that back on roads. By this point we were both hurting. It's hard to deal with searing heat in May - all the training you get in Ontario before May is in single-digit Celcius kind of temperatures! Just not acclimated to this kind of heat, really took its toll.
We arrived at the bike drop to a total shock - there were almost no bikes there. Somehow, despite our catastrophic start, we were one of the top teams out there.
I actually asked the race organizer who was standing there "where are all the bikes?"... I was in a bit of disbelief.
1) Navigation was harder than we expected, but after our first snafu we nailed it. Maybe others didn't nail it
2) The heat that made us feel like we weren't doing great impacted everyone ...
When full splits are posted it'll be a little more apparent where we made up time on other teams, but at the time it was just a really nice shot in the arm.
The canoe is really our strength. I get the impression in general most teams don't focus on it, they just kind of wing it. Lots of other quicker teams were using rental boats, which were stubby and not the right tool for the job. Don't tell them, though, or they might find themselves a nice Jensen like we rock!
We hit all the checkpoints in very close to the straightest possible route, it went great. Lake was perfectly calm. In the process we passed two other teams, one all-male and the other a co-ed team.
Still. we didn't quite know for sure where we were in the standings...
By the last bit of the canoe, we were on our own - no teams we could see in front to catch, no teams behind that would catch us. We pulled in, ran to the finish ... and wow was I glad to be done.
4th overall, 2nd two-person male... really exciting for sure, especially on our first crack at this style of race!
The Race - Reviewed
All in all this was just a really well run race, lots of fun. There were people really racing it, there were others just out for the adventure, and I would say everyone left happy. We will definitely be back (possibly/probably for one of the longer distances)
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Race Preview: Storm the Trent (Hike)
I will be doing the "hike" version with my buddy, which despite it's unassuming name features:
- 25km of mountain biking
- 6km of "trekking" (running?)
- 9km of paddling
This will be our first time at this race, so there's going to be a learning/discovery curve... and I don't have a lot to say just yet! I know there will be more map-reading than we're normally used to (since we're used to none!) and we'll switch disciplines more often.
Other than that I'm just ready for anything, looking forward to getting out there.
Monday, May 4, 2015
Three Cheers for Sucralose (Splenda) ... Diet Pepsi in the U.S. Switches!
Aspartame (Nutrasweet) gets a lot of negative press. There is a perception that "natural" is good, "artificial" is bad... although I would point out that "natural" arsenic is no picnic! Most studies tend to back up the claims that it is harmless, but regardless, the perception is everything in marketing.
As a result, Pepsi recently announced they will be switching from Aspartame to Sucralose in their Diet Pepsi product. (Bad news Canadians: not in Canada, despite this being the birthplace of Sucralose - boooo!)
The most interesting thing about sucralose is that it is made from sugar. It is treated with tiny amounts of chlorine, which results in "sugar" that is 600 times sweeter.
Splenda you buy in the store actually has filler added so you can use it without needing micro-measurements to add it to your coffee...
There are very few brands of softdrink in Canada that already use Splenda:
- Diet Crush (Orange, Grape, Cream Soda, etc)
- Kirkland diet cola (Costco) - I haven't seen this in awhile, might be discontinued
There may be others, but those are the ones I've found.
They taste far more like actual sugar pop, and don't have that weird Aspartame bitter after-taste people talk about.
I personally hope the Diet Pepsi move is the thin edge of the wedge, and others follow their lead. I'm not massively concerned about Aspartame, but Sucralose simply tastes better.
Is Sucralose Safe?
Every study to date has shown Sucralose to be very safe, no ill effects reported.
That probably won't satisfy the anti-artificial-sweetener crowd, but what would?
Do Diet Softdrinks Help Weight Loss?
Not on their own, obviously. But if you're like me and count calories, they can help reduce the calories you take in from beverages, and create a caloric deficit.
Example: if I find myself at McDonald's (not often but it happens!) - a 1/4 pounder (520 calories) and medium fries (340 calories) only adds up to 860 calories. With a Coke Zero, it stays 860 calories, which isn't atrocious for a cheat lunch or dinner. A Medium Coke adds 200 calories, suddenly you're in for 1060 calories... 25% increase.
Same applies for an 850 calorie burrito or sub, before someone lectures me about McDonald's! :)
So I find them useful. Also with Intermittent Fasting, they help in the evenings to keep satisfied rather than snacking.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Garmin 910xt vs 310xt
I have had my troubles with Garmin.
Two separate Forerunner 305's have died on me. I finally upgraded to the 310XT - which after just over a year of use has decided its power button should work only intermittently.
Needless to say, it was time to shop around. So I did, but the reviews on alternatives weren't always glowing either, and they mostly cost several times what a Garmin that meets my needs costs.
Enter the Garmin 910XT. Best Buy Canada had them on for $149 CDN, which compared to the initial price tag was stellar. At that price, I can throw Garmins away every few years and still be ahead of the alternatives!
The 910XT is their multisport watch, the next evolution of the 310XT (and the 305 before it). Most of the features cater to swimming, cycling, and running. Swimmers will enjoy the automatic lap detection in the pool, for cyclists it supports cadence meters and indoor trainer speed sensors, and it's small enough to not feel ridiculous on a run. It's also really quick to switch between sports.
Feature-wise it's hard to beat.
Differences from the 310XT
What makes this worth the money? Well if you have a 310XT already that works, you can probably pass on the 910XT, unless you really want those swimming features. For running/cycling it's nearly identical.
Screens are nearly identical in size, functions are pretty much the same. The form factor is nicer, so it's a little smaller and feels better on the wrist. It found satellites much faster (even indoors) which was nice.
It's supposed to have some barometric altimeter to give better altitude readings, not sure how you'd test that (and most sites you upload to already adjust that data). Might result in better speed and distance readings? I never found the 310XT to be all that wildly off anyway, though.
All in all I'm happy with the purchase. For now... I'll let you know in a year if it still works.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Race Report: Paris to Ancaster 2015
They have been trying to add sections to this race for a few years, and this year it finally dried out enough to do it. 70km instead of the old 60km... and I felt ever millimetre.
The usual mad rush to the rail trail. We were seeded pretty far back, so took a little to get around some of the people who shouldn't have been in Wave 2. I managed to hold wheels for most of the rail trail section, never going too far into the red, so it was a good start.
First Farmer's Field
This one is always tough, first real test of the legs. My legs were OK... I didn't power up the hills, but I didn't get completely owned either.
To The Highway and Second Off-road / Farm
Crossed the highway, did the usual hike over the burm/ditch thing. The off-road was much drier than it has been in the last few years, was easily ridable. Across the farmer's field was a bit spongey, but after the last few years I wasn't complaining!
Around the Orchard
Big gravel/dirt road loop around an Orchard. Conditions were fine, just sketchy enough for me to have an edge over some of the people around me.
Long, long road and NEW FARM!
This is new... instead of going directly to the second rail trail, we instead did a big square north to another farm, with another dirt trail type thing around it. Very neat section, actually quite flowy and fast. I got sick of the road pretty fast, though, especially into the headwind!
Second Rail Trail
Unlike the first rail trail, this is a poorly/non-maintained mud path.
This is where my race ended last year with a broken dérailleur hanger - this year, no problems. It was still mushy and wild, but I kept out of the sticks and crap that hurt me the previous year.
Through Another Farm, Into Town... Third Rail Trail..... More Road......
Pretty uneventful, although by now I was feeling a bit of fatigue. Which was unfortunate as this is barely halfway.
There's one horse farm we used to do, but we skipped it this year. It was a muddy spongey mess previous times, so I didn't miss it...
Cut-road through the bush
I don't even know what this is - just a long laneway type thing, almost looks like a road but it's really muddy and messy.
Fourth Rail Trail - part 1... another farm
This farm is really nice, but very energy-zapping... slows you right down as you sink into mud. Oh and there are pretty rolling hills! Of energy-zapping squishy turf. Tough stuff.
Fourth Rail Trail - part 2... another farm
Back onto the same rail trail, then ... another farm. I had no lucky this year hitching a ride and getting a draft, others seemed to get onto my wheel more than I was able to return the favour.
Farm was fine this year - again, drier than usual.
Fourth Rail Trail - part 3...
This felt like it went on forever. All alone for most of it, and by now my energy just wasn't there.
Final Farm Type Thing
Rutted gravel road through a farm... uphill. Felt rough, but everyone around me looked rough. Misery loves company!
Mud Chute #1!
There are two of these, both usually nasty. Not this year! This one was totally ridable, top to bottom. Well, not for a lot of people I blew past, but a few of us did it.
Mud Chute #2
This one wasn't ridable... usual muddy soupy mess, walked/ran down. Lots of branches and logs and stuff too, pretty hazardous.
The Final Climb
By now my legs were really protesting. I could feel the early signs of cramps, but I was managing that well. Super low cadence, toughed it out up the hill, and most importantly I stayed on my bike and didn't walk. Result!
Crossed the finish line and... someone's toddler comes toddling out in front of me! I smoked by brakes, and did a last minute evasive manoeuvre that thankfully manoeuvred around the kid - very close. In my foggy haze I unleashed a tiny bit of profanity that I'm regretful of, but geez lady, watch your damn kids if you want them to, you know, live.
I am provisionally 637 of 1298 riders. So slightly better than mid-pack. Kind of what I expected, haven't had a great off-season and I'm behind (and fat).
It's actually my worst placing since my first P2A (not counting the last two seasons where I had mechanicals). So that's not great, but oh well, I had fun and didn't completely embarrass myself, so it's a win.
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