Saturday, September 3, 2011

250 lb man vs triathlon - Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Fast forward to race day.  The day dawned with drizzle and a single digit temperature.  Not the nicest way to start a race, at least the swim was going to be indoors in a heated pool.  By the time I get to the site, I'm feeling butterflies like I haven't felt in years.  Not since I used to do some X-Country Mountain bike racing had I felt like this.  I was by this point very worried, but it was too late for second though now.

The race was setup with a number of heats because the pool only had capacity for 5 at a time.  To keep the finishes relatively close, the slower swimmers such as myself and Rory were placed in the first heat.  As they count down to the start my nerves really start to get to me.  I'm vibrating in the water, I think I might puke, "please please please let me get through this swim in good shape".


We're off, I'm off on my first lap.  Feeling strong, but pushing much too hard too soon.  Pure adrenalin is charging through my veins.  3 laps later I'm gasping for air, my strokes are all out of rhythm, my technique is out the window and I'm worried.   "Just keep going.... don't stop, you can do this.  It's just like training, CALM DOWN!" I take an extra breath at the end of the pool while turning, then settle down into a proper pace and get my stroke bake in order.  I've long since lost track of how many laps I need to do, so I keep plodding along, they will let me know when I'm done.  I sneak a glance at the clock, "25 minutes in???  I better be done soon."  I start to worry that I won't make the 30 minute cut off time.  Then the most welcome site of the morning, a flutter board in the water at the end wall... My signal that I've made it through the swim.

Jump out of the pool, grab a towel and start to dry off as best I can while running out side to the transition zone where my bike is waiting for me.  Step out the door... "GASP, it's freezing out here!"  I get into my socks, bike shoes, jersey, jacket, helmet, and glasses.  Stick an energy gel and a banana into my pocket and head out.  "God it's cold...."  Out on the bike course I settle into a good comfortable pace.  I'm getting passed by several others on much faster bikes as I begin to regret using my mountain bike with off road tires for this, instead of borrowing my fathers road bike.  Rory rides by with road tires on his mountain bike...He's always been a stronger rider than me anyway.  "Oh well, I'm just here to finish, not win" I have to keep reminding myself.  If nothing else, my Mountain bike is comfortable with it's dual suspension, and familiar to me.  The ride is uneventful, but with a head wind on the outbound leg, it's a bit of a tough ride, but nothing I can't handle.  I use the "easier" time to get some nutrition, and hydration for the run ahead of me.

I arrive back at the transition zone to change to the run.  Park the bike, pop the bike shoes off, and slip on the runners.  Take one last gulp of Gatorade and head off!  "Gahhh!  I can't feel my feet!"  The combination of being wet from the pool and the tight bike shoes have completely numbed me from the waist down.  I hear my feet smacking the ground instead of taping it, I can't control them properly.  This style of running is starting to hurt my calf's, and I'm not even 1k into this thing!  I mentally put my head down, and just concentrate on my stride, as the feeling gradually returns to my feet.  As I approach the turnaround point on the run course, I see Rory heading back towards me at the same time as my father (who started in a much later heat) catches up to me.  We all exchange encouragements and then I'm all alone with my doubts again.  "This is too hard, I'm not even half way there and I'm dead.  How am I supposed to do another 3k of this???"   I hit the turnaround, the wind is now at my back, the road is down hill, and I start feeling strong.  "I can do this!  I am invincible!  Bring it on!"  The music from Rocky starts playing in the back of my mind.... Yes I know it's cheesy, but when you need encouragement, you'll take what you can get.  The next 2k pass in a blur, and I find myself on the final stretch back to the finish line.  The line is in sight!  I give it one last push and "sprint" across the line.

In the end, I made it out of the water before Rory, but he beat me badly in Bike and Run portions,
I finished dead last by about 10 seconds, I completed each of the 3 legs without taking a break, or even walking on the run portion, which in any case the my only real goal that I had set for myself.

Will I keep up the triathlons and work towards the big ones like my father and sister?  Probably not.  Will I do another sprint tri?  Definitively!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

250 lb man vs triathlon - Part 1

I've been debating about writing this story because I've never been big on self promotion but I think after a few months, I do have the right to be proud of this accomplishment.

The Plan

So here's the story.  My father has been one of the organizers for a small sprint triathlon held in late May.  He had suggested I try competing in it a few times but I never really felt the desire to do so.  I was not exactly triathlete material.  I was am overweight, couldn't run any distance, and didn't know how to distance swim.  Over the winter while talking with Rory (a riding buddy), we decided to give it a shot.  Neither one of us were runners, and neither one of us had any clue how to swim distance.  At this point, the only part of it that I had any confidence in was the bike ride.  I may not have been the fastest bike out there, but I knew finishing a 20k bike ride was not going to be an issue for me.  The swim and the run however had me quite worried.

Over the last 2 years, in the winter to try and keep some fitness when the snow kept me off my bike, I had been doing some light running.  Unfortunately I had never worked my way up to the 5k required for the tri.  My outlook for swimming was even worse.  I have never done lane swimming in my entire life.  I knew how to swim, or rather not drown, but actually making any kind of time or distance was a foreign concept to me.

The training

So over the winter I start working on my running, doing 2-3 runs per week, staring with a mix of run and walk, gradually increasing the running until I was doing very little walking.  Unfortunately as May approached, I was still only able to do around 4k at a time, but figured I could grind out the last 1k if it came down to it.

At the same time I started hitting the pool.  My wife is a swimmer so she came along to show me how to do it.   My first lap I realized I might be in trouble.  I didn't know how to breath properly, kick properly, or even stroke properly.  But after a few trips to the pool I was able to start doing some distance comfortably.  Before I knew it I was able to do the required 750m in under the required 30 minutes.  Not by much, but under the limit.  I was feeling pretty good about the swim portion, confident about the bike, and only mildly nervous about the run.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but tracks...

Ok... time for me to climb back up on my soapbox for a new rant.

Today I'm going off about riders who leave their energy bar and gel wrappers on the trails when riding.  Why would you do such a thing?  You obviously had some place to store the food on the way into the trail, how hard is it to stick the wrapper back into that same spot?  A great part of cycling, especially mountain biking is to get out into the woods and appreciate nature.  Then you go and drop a bar wrapper on the ground like it's your own private waste bin.

Every time I ride, I come home with more trash than I brought in because I pick up this crap.  I can only assume I'm not the only one who does this, which means there are wayyyyyyy too many people who think this is acceptable behavior.   Would it be acceptable if I dumped by garbage in your yard on my way to work some morning?

I see this happening and I think of the old hiking adage

"Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints"


Friday, May 20, 2011

HOW-TO: 6 Tips for riding in traffic...and not getting hit

I've posted in the past on what drivers need to do to stop endangering cyclists.  This time I'm going to write about what us cyclist need to do to avoid getting hurt in traffic.  As a cyclist I'm probably more annoyed by seeing somebody doing something dumb in traffic on a bike than most motorist.  Cyclist doing stupid things only angers drivers and makes them that little bit less likely to care about my right to bike in traffic.  This is not going to cover the basic bike safety thoughts like helmets and a properly functioning bike, rather to cover behavior in traffic.

Lets start with the basics....

1.  Be visible.
This has some rather broad implications when it comes down to it.  It's about a lot more than just wearing a bright color.  While high visibility colors help, it's not the most important piece of this.  When I say be visible, I mean put yourself in a place were a driver is going to see you.  If you ride on the sidewalks you will get hurt eventually.  On the surface it might seem safe but consider this.  When a driver approaches an intersection they are not expecting to find something faster than a pedestrian coming out at the crosswalk and in many cases will pull across the crosswalk to see around the corner before turning.  Now if a rider is heading across the crosswalk they are most likely going to be moving much faster than a pedestrian and can find themselves in a rather risky place.  However if the cyclist is riding on the road with traffic they will be in a position the driver will naturally be checking and is much more likely to be seen.

Another important part of being visible has to do with low light conditions.  If you are riding in anything other than broad daylight, particularly dusk/dawn, you are very hard to see from a car.  Make sure you are aware of this fact and take extra precaution, as well as ensure you have reflectors and flashing lights on your bike.  I say flashing lights because, these will catch the drivers attention much better than a steady light.

2.  Be predictable.
This is probably the most important bit of advice I can give you as a cyclist.  If you are predicable, the drivers will know where you are going, and will be able to adjust accordingly.  Don't dodge in and out of a lane, if you are riding down a road with street side parking, don't move into the parking spaces only to dart back out around a parked car.  Rather hold your line on the edge of the traffic lane and ride straight.  It might slow the cars down a bit, but you won't be swerving in front of a Buick that way.

3.  Signal your intentions.
This ties in with predictability, but always let traffic know what you are about to do.  Signalling that you are about to turn or make a lane change will avoid surprising the driver behind you.

4.  Follow traffic laws.
When riding in traffic, always follow the same laws the cars do.  If you are turning left, safely get into the left turn lane.  If you come to a red light, Stop.  Don't go the wrong way down a one way,  don't blow a stop sign, don't make an illegal left turn.  If it's illegal for a car to do it, it's illegal for you to do it and it will add to your risk as a cyclist.

5.  Know when to take over a traffic lane.
When riding in an urban environment there will be times when it is critical to your safety to take over a traffic lane (ride down the middle of it).  In general if possible you should always stick as far to the right as is possible when riding.  This allows cars to get around you safely.  However there are times when it's safer to take up a spot in traffic.  If I need to make a left turn I will usually take the left turn lane to prevent cars from pulling up beside me.  When approaching a stop sign, it is often safer to occupy the lane to help prevent the cars behind you from making a turn across you.  That being said, as soon as is practical, get back to the right so allow the cars that are probably now behind you to pass.  Avoiding road rage incidents is always in your favor.

6.  Watch for blind spots.
Every car has blind spots.  Be aware that when approaching a car from the rear, they most likely won't be able to see you.  If you are pulling up to the right of a car, be prepared to take evasive action if they make a sudden right turn in front of you.  Similarly parked cars might suddenly pull out or open their doors not realizing you are there.  You can minimize the risk of doors by leaving enough space for a door to open without taking you out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EVENTS: Ride of Silence


Great turnout, 85 riders for a nice peaceful cruise around town!

DATE: May 18, 2011 (always the 3rd Wednesday of May)

TIME: 7:00 pm

WHERE: Hundreds of locations world wide

Join cyclists worldwide in a silent slow-paced ride (max. 12 mph/20 kph) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways.


  • To HONOR those who have been injured or killed
  • To RAISE AWARENESS that we are here
  • To ask that we all SHARE THE ROAD



On May 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM, the Ride of Silence will begin in North America and roll across the globe. Cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves.
In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. (Read full story at
The Ride of Silence is a free ride that asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during National Bike Month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured.

Host:Cycling PEI
Type:Recreational — Road
Location:Provincial Government Offices Parking Lot (Adjacent the Victoria Park Bike Lane)
Registration:No cost everyone welcome
Start Time:7pm

Friday, May 13, 2011

EVENTS: Ride your Bike to Work Day - May 16th

Do your part to help promote healthy lifestyles, greener transportation, and cyclist awareness!  

On Monday May 16th, 

Ride Your Bike to Work

May 16th is Ride your bike to work day so leave car in the driveway, get on your helmet and enjoy a better way to commute.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NEWS: Save our bike lanes

It was with dismay that I read the morning news to find out that the city of Charlottetown is considering removing one of the only bike lanes in the city. It would seem that there have been some complaints that the bike lane through Victoria Park is causing confusion and inconvenience for motorist who now have to drive around the back side of the park before driving through the one open lane and this is preventing people from enjoying the park.

While city council has not yet decided to to bow down to a frivolous complaint, they are looking into the issue. It is of utmost importance that we do not set a terrible precedent by removing one of the very few bike lanes available in this city.

While the bike lane through Victoria park was not an especially effective commuting route, it is very essential to generating the critical mass we need to gain acceptance in this very cyclist-unfriendly city. Just last summer the city announced that they were planning on expanding bike lanes to various routes around the city. Rather than remove bike lanes, we need to be expanding them further. The more safer lanes available to cyclist, the more cyclists will be willing to leave the car at home and ride. More bikes will make it safer for all of us as it becomes more common place to see a bike on the roads, drivers will eventually begin to see us as a part of traffic rather than a nuisance.

We cannot allow the city to take this step backwards. We instead need to be pushing to expand the system of lanes we do have, not removing them. Everybody who lives in this city needs to let city council know that it is completely unacceptable to remove this bike lane.

To contact the mayor, send an email to

Monday, April 4, 2011

MISC: Audi and Renovo get together and create art that rides..

This thing looks pretty sweet, there is no denying that.  They say that the wood frames are more supple than metal ones and are lighter than aluminum.

Obviously these are being built for road use only, I'm not sure how well a hollow wooden frame would hold up to some serious off road use, but hey if you break your frame you can always glue it back together!  :)  Beats using the draw string from your shorts to fix it.

Now the fun part... the price.  The one pictured above and the city/cruiser models are said to retail for $7,460 and $6530 respectively.

You can find more details along with some more pictures of the other models here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

HOW-TO: Great bike maintenance guide

I was pointed to this gem last week.

It's a great guide on how to keep your bike in top condition and is a great resource for anybody who wants to do some work typically done by your LBS.

Bicycle Maintenance Manual

Monday, March 21, 2011

MISC: The sounds of riding

(Sung to The Sound of Silence by Simon And Garfunkel)

Hello pedal, my old friend,
I've come to ride with you again,
Because a trail softly rolling,
Left it's seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sounds of riding.
In restless dreams I ride alone
Narrow trails of mud and stone,
'neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the gust of a head wind
That made me suck wind
And touched the sounds of riding.

And in the wooded light I saw
Ten thousand riders, maybe more.
People spinning without speaking,
People climbing without listening,
People sprinting speeds that hikers never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sounds of riding.

"fools" said i, "you do not know
Cars like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take your bike that I might show you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the trails of riding

And the people pedaled and shifted,
To the top of the hill they climbed.
And the sun flashed out it's warning,
In the dusk that it was forming.
And the rider said, "the words of the prophets
Are written on the bike shop walls
And trail head falls."
And whisper'd in the sounds of riding.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

HOW-TO: Adjusting your bike to fit you

When you ride, particularly over long distances, a properly fitted and adjusted bike is critical. It will no only help maintain efficiency and comfort. It is also a very important in preventing injuries.

I'm not going to get into much detail regarding fit here, this is something your local bike shop should assist you with when you purchase the bike. If they don't help you find the right fit and are more interested in just selling you any bike, find another shop. An incorrectly sized bike will cause you nothing but pain.

Lets start with the basics (assuming you have a properly sized bike). Always keep in mind that as you make one change, it can and will affect other things, so everything needs to be approached as a whole.

Seat Height:
Your seat should be set high enough that at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your knee has a very slight bend. You should be able to lock your knee if you push your heel down.

Notice the slight bend to the knee.  If the rider pushes his heel down, his knee will lock.

Seat Position:
To adjust the forward/backward position of your seat on the rails you will want to sit on the bike normally and try removing your hands from the bar without sitting up. If you find your back is supporting the weight, you should move it back a bit. The goal is to have it just far enough back that it helps take some of the weight off your arms. The bar is there for steering, not to hold you up. There is a catch with this one, if you push the seat forward, closer to in line with the bottom bracket, you will give your self the ability to pedal more powerfully at the expense of comfort. The trick is fining a balance between the two.

Seat Angle:
This one will be different for men and women. For men, the seat tends to be tilted back more than womens seats. What you are going for here is comfort. Start with the seat roughly level and then sit on the bike in your normal riding position. If you find you are falling forward and putting a lot of pressure on the handle bars, then tilt it up a bit. If you find that the nose of the seat is causing too much pressure in sensitive areas and is not comfortable, bring it down a bit. Again, the goal is to find the happy medium in between the two.

This one is not as easy to adjust as the seat height/position/tilt as it generally requires replacing of the stem to make adjustments. The lower and further forward you end up with you will get more power and aerodynamics again at the cost of comfort. You will want to find a rise that matches the style of riding you do. For touring, you will be best suited with something roughly level with the seat. For a mountain or road bike, a few inches below the seat is more suitable. The important thing here is to find something that feels natural to you.

The position of brakes and shifters on your bars are also important. However these are affected greatly by your riding position. As such, you should save this step for last. Since these vary so greatly from flat bars to drop bars I'll cover them separately.

Flat Bar:
Sit on the bike in a natural riding position. Now lift your fingers as if you were to put on the brakes but do not rotate your wrist. (In most cases you will find they are pointing somewhat downwards, it is a pet peeve of mine when I see bikes with them set flat). Once you have an idea of where a natural location for your fingers to be without rotating your wrist, set the brakes at that angle. Take the bike for a quick ride and see if you find you are having trouble getting your fingers up from under then on to the levers, or if you have to reach up to catch them. If so adjust accordingly until the brake leavers are naturally where your fingers want to go.

Drop Bar:
Since the brake hoods will double as a place to rest your hands you will want to place them in a position where it is comfortable for your hands to sit on the top. Once this is done, put your hands in the drops and check that the brakes and shifters are still easy to operate, if not you might have to sacrifice some of the comfort while riding on the hoods in order to maintain usability.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CPEI: Upcoming Courses

From Cycling P.E.I.

Let's Ride Community Initiation Cycling Coaching Course will take place Sat-Sun, March 12-13 in Summerside. Location TBD.

We would like to hold a commissaires course for officials for either MTB or Road. We have a few people interested but not enough to hold a course. If you are interested please contact the Cycling PEI office at or 368-4985.

Level 1&2 triathlon officials course will be held April 2-3, 2011 at Sport PEI. Free for triathlon PEI members and $10 for non-members.

Triathlon level 1 coaching course Fri-Sat, May 6-7 at Sport PEI. Free for members and $30 for non-members.

Cycling & Traithlon calendar of events will be posted soon on the Cycling PEI website.

There is a 5km St. Patrick's Day run at Sport PEI Sunday, March 13th at 9am with all proceeds going to Cycling PEI. $10 per person with kids under 15 $5. Lots of prizes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

RACING: P.E.I. Ultraman is in select company

ST. EDWARD - Paul Dalton had this to say after a 30-kilometre bike ride and a seven-kilometre run on Sunday, "I felt really good!"

Compared to what he was doing just a week earlier, that's a leisurely jog.
Upon crossing the finish line of the Ultraman world championship triathlon in Hawaii on Nov. 28, Dalton became one of only 495 athletes in the world to complete the demanding race in the event's 26-year history. He is also one of only 39 athletes from around the world to complete both the Ultraman Canada race and the Hawaiian race, and one of only a handful to complete both Ultraman races in the same year....

Read the rest of the story at the Journal Pioneer.