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Advice for Bike Commuting

I don't know how to say it: commuting by bike in North America is taking your life in your own hands. The car culture is the problem and regardless of how many bike lanes are installed in the downtown core of cities, the problem is not going to get any better.

I read an article recently that blamed the culture shift on the auto companies back in the early days of the car when people/bikes/horses rules the roads and cars were the new thing. Back then (1920's), any auto crash was assumed to be the fault of the driver. Now, you can almost commit murder with a car and get away with it. Back then, auto companies saw this bad press as bad for business and setup marketing to change the blame to the pedistrian/cyclist/etc.. It worked all to well. Stories are abound with car/cyclist crashes where the driver kills or injuries a cyclist (or pedistrian), and gets away with it. It was the auto companies, apparently, that framed car crashes as accidents. They are crashes. Nothing is accidental about it.

That said, commuting to work can be fun...most of the time. One just has to understand a few "rules". Most of these items are common sense but it is worth repeating.

 

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The Purpose of Training Camp

With the end of the road cycling season, everyone is thinking of moving training indoors as the weather starts to becoming variable and colder. While training can happen in the cold in the winter, training at -10C is much harder that at 20C. Nevermind the difficulty of getting movitated, but getting up to threshold in the cold  is just plain harder. Some are starting to think ahead and get set for the training camp in February and/or March. This fact reminds me of my experience of the last two seasons and the real purpose of the training camp.

For some reason, people think training camp is about riding hills, drinking beer, and have a good time. I find that hard to believe because it doesn't - or shouldn't - be the way one trains normally. Is it really supposed to be a vacation? I think most forget that training camp about bring back the form you had the year prior. So, to that end, what do climbing 20km climbs have to do with it? What part of climbing for over a hour resembles the type of training and racing one does here in Ontario? I can ride up Grey Rd #19 in Collingwood,ON in 16 mins and do Scenic Caves Rd is 11 mins. Effingham Rd in St. Catherines, ON on the Niagara Classic Road Race is what a 3min climb? Where is there an hour climb? For the most part, racing in Ontario is flat with some bumps in them. In my mind, it would be far better to train in a location that better simulars the normal racing environment - and I do mean train. What does everyone do the first ride in North Carolina? Drop the hammer and try prove themselves. We shoot for strava segments, etc.. Why? What part of this strategy is about training? I have always wondered what the point of training camp was when there wasn't really any training.

 

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Cable Locks are Worthless: Almost had a bike stolen

After my experience, yesterday, I have wonder why $10,000 bikes left unlocked outside of coffee shops never seem to go missing, yet locked up commuter bikes do.

Yesterday, I took a different route home. I rode my bike from the office to downtown Toronto, as I have done in the past, to MEC to pickup some bike related items. Whether it was a wise thing to be riding my spare track bike with the carbon wheelset as a commuter is another matter, but I brought my spare lock with me. This is a heavy duty cable with a combination lock. You can buy them almost anywhere. I locked the bike outside of MEC. This is usually odd for me, because I usual stop at Urbane Cycle where I can bring the bike inside. I intend to be inside for some 10-15mins, so I thought it would be safe. Normally, locking a bike up anywhere is something I don't do: I usually bring the bike inside (i.e. Tim Hortins) where it is less likely to get pinched.

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So, you want to race the track?

UPDATE: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014

I had a conversation with Steve Bauer, Head Coach at the Milton Velodrome Monday to clarify some of the programming available at Milton. I have updated this document to reflect the changes; however, the views described here are my own based on my experience riding and racing at the Forest City Velodrome, the International Velodrome at Bloomer Park, and the Clevelend Velodrome and do not neccessarily reflect the views of any of these organizations. For full programming details at Milton, please refer to the mattamynationalcyclingcentre.ca website. They have also posted their own Pathway to Track Cycling chart HERE. For programming at the Forest City Velodrome, see HERE.

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With the advent of the Town of Milton posting the programs available at the soon to be open Milton Velodrome, I've received a few queries wherever I go asking about buying a track bike and how to get into racing the track. The cycling commuting is all abuzz with the new track set to open in November, and the Ontario Cycling Association set to run it's first OCUP series at the new velodrome.

I've held caution optimism over the entire process. While Milton will be one of two 250m UCI registered tracks in North American, I think the local cycling commutee needs to keep the process of moving to track racing into perspective. Picking up track racing is something that, for most people, takes time to become competitive regardless of road racing experience. That said, for those looking for a new recreational activity - riding a real bike instead of the trainer for fitness, getting into riding the track is a simple process.

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Dr. Sueus Canada Day Donut Ride

A group of 40 or so hardy soles showed up for the Canada Donut Ride even though it was threating thunderstorms. While it did rain part way into the ride, we missed it for the most part and only had wet roads for part of the ride. The smaller group today led to a faster pace ride - faster than normal. At one point Lori and Fudge Koffman got annoyed and attacked to get the pace up.

Here is a shot from my Fly6Cam showing the water on the roads at the Keele St. sprint:

vlcsnap-00112

I got home to find this rhymne in my inbox which seemed appropriate. Thanks to Steve Svensson from the D'Ornellas Club for sending this off.

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