What a Ride It Was!

Prelude – The Flat Tire

One week before the Tour de Victoria I headed out on my last major training session with the intention of riding one section of the new 60 km route that I didn’t know — the second quarter that runs from Victoria General Hospital up to Elk Lake. I’d heard rumours of killer hills there so I figured it would be good to ride it at least once before the day of the ride.

I rode out along the E&N Rail Trail to where it meets the Galloping Goose and soon found myself coasting down a curving hill on Burnside Rd West. I was admiring the pretty agricultural land when I felt a weird wobbling sensation from my rear wheel. Oh no — a flat tire!

Bike riders often get flats so many carry pumps and patch kits or even spare tubes with them. Well, I didn’t have anything with me on that day. After cursing my poor preparation for a minute or so, I checked my phone and learned that the nearest bike shop was a 45-minute walk away. The nearest gas station was 20 minutes away, but there was no guarantee that I could fix a flat there so I decided to walk 25 minutes to a bus stop where I caught the #14 to downtown (another 25 minutes). There, I walked my bike to MEC with the plan of buying a new tube and getting back on my training ride.

MEC has a great setup where you can either pay them to work on your bike or use their tools to fix your own. I popped my bike up on a stand and took off my rear wheel. As I pried off the tire I noticed some green stripes on the rubber of the tire. At first I thought maybe it was paint, but then I realized it was a sign that the tire had worn right through. No surprise I got a flat — the tire was completely bald! Guess that’s a sign of just how much riding I’ve been doing.

So I bought a new tire and a new tube, got them on the rim, and was back rolling on my bike within two hours of when the flat occurred. At that point, however, my window of time was running out so I couldn’t take the time to ride back out and continue from where I left off. Still, I was so glad I wore out the tire then or it might have happened on the day of the ride!

Of course, this also meant that on ride day, I still wouldn’t know what to expect from that part of the course. Oh well, I had to hope that all my training throughout the summer would be enough to deal with whatever I encountered.

Mike Hessler and me ready to go at the starting line

Mike Hessler and me ready to go at the starting line

 

The Day of the Ride

My buddy Mike came down from Nanaimo to join me on the ride as he has in the past. He arrived later on Friday evening and we stayed up till midnight catching up. But then, even though I was exhausted, I endured a very poor sleep. When 6:30am rolled around and my alarm woke me up, I’d only enjoyed a few hours of solid sleep — not ideal for a big ride day. Luckily, the start time for the 60km ride was 8:30am, not 7:00am like the 140km and 160km rides. As I chugged my first coffee and tried to clear my bleary head, I texted my friend and fellow blogger Travis Paterson just before 7:00am to wish him luck as he set off on his first-ever 140km ride. He told me he hoped to arrive at the finish line by 1:30pm. My own expectation for the 60km ride was that it would take me at least 3 hours, maybe 3 and a half. My plan was to take it relatively easy at first and then push harder later if I had the energy.

It was a beautiful day for a ride — a little on the cool side, but the skies were smoke-free, which was a relief, especially considering the solid week of choking smoke we endured immediately afterwards. After breakfast and more coffee, Mike and I rode downtown to the Legislature to join the big herd of riders departing on the 60 km and 100 km rides. It was a nice change from past years when we had to take the shuttle bus up to Sidney for the 45 km ride. But it also meant that we were part of a very large group of riders all departing at the same time.

The first quarter of the ride out to View Royal was nice — there were a couple hills along Craigflower Road and the Island Highway that tested me, but I was feeling good, and I ended up pushing a little harder than I had planned.

Soon enough, we were in the second quarter of the ride. I pointed out the very spot where I got my flat to Mike, and from there on I was in unknown territory for the next 10 km. This was where the 100-km riders split off from us to get in their extra distance, which loosened up the congestion of riders a bit. There was an aid station there, too, where we took a short break to recharge our water bottles and have a quick energy-boosting snack.

So far so good, but right after this break there was a nasty hill. I remember thinking it was the steepest hill I’d ever climbed, and according to Strava it’s one of the highest elevations (105 m) on the route. But I just dropped down into my lowest Granny gear and made it all the way up without getting off my bike. That small success buoyed me as we continued on towards the west side of Elk Lake where I knew some more hills awaited us. Indeed, on Old West Saanich Rd we climbed steadily for a long time (up to 124 m, the highest point on the route according to Strava). The steep, winding downhill that followed was fun but a little harrowing, especially since the road was not entirely blocked off to cars so we had to be careful.

And then we were zooming along the north side of Elk Lake. This is one of the nicest pieces of pavement I’ve encountered in Greater Victoria. The recently poured asphalt was smooth and clean, and just a joy to ride on. When we passed Hamsterly Beach at the top of the lake, a spot where my family often goes swimming in the summer, I was sorely tempted to take a slight detour for a quick cooling dunk.

We were now about halfway done the ride. Once we crossed the Swartz Bay Highway we were back on familiar roads. We felt the air cool considerably as we got closer to Cordova Bay and made another pit stop for fluids and snacks at an aid station, but we were both keen to get back in the saddle and ride now that we were past the halfway point.

I was still feeling good at this point, but I knew a couple of challenging hills awaited me, and I wasn’t 100% how my body would react. At the Ash Road Hill just south of Mount Douglas, an old nemesis of mine, I was encouraged by the sight of my brother and sister-in-law cheering me on. That was all I needed to push myself up that brutal climb. Soon enough we were rounding the corner in Cadboro Bay and beginning the run through the Uplands and into Oak Bay.

The long, slow climb up from Cadboro Bay was especially tough for me, but when we turned into the Uplands, I decided to skip the aid station there — I just wanted to keep riding to the finish. Perhaps that was a mistake because pretty soon I began to feel a sense of exhaustion invading my body. I think it had more to do with the poor sleep I’d had the night before than anything else, but whatever it was, I was really struggling. I’m not much of a conversationalist while I ride at any time, but from here on I pretty much stopped talking entirely. Mike chatted away, trying to keep my spirits up (I could tell), while I occasionally growled a curt response back if I even said anything at all. I was grumpy for sure. I wanted the ride to be over right then and there! But the good friend that he is, Mike stayed with me and encouraged me when he could have easily gone ahead and hung out with some friendlier riders.

All through Oak Bay I envisioned the last nasty hill of the ride waiting for me at Gonzales Point. It’s one I never enjoy, but I had purposefully pushed myself to ride it a few times in the summer to bolster my confidence, so even though I was exhausted and grouchy, I still knew I could handle it. And I more than just handled it – I conquered it!

From there on, it should have been easy, but I still had this overwhelming feeling of exhaustion — so I just couldn’t seem to get my energy up to enjoy the last 5 km of the ride. I was mad at myself for it, too. Why couldn’t I push harder? Where was my finish line surge?

Finally, as we turned the corner by the Cruise Ship Terminal in James Bay, an older gentleman passed us. This silver-haired fellow was also riding the 60-km route, but I didn’t recognize him, which meant he had probably been behind us for most of the ride and now had caught up and passed us. For some reason, this turned the key inside me that unlocked my last bit of reserve energy. I looked at Mike and said “Let’s go!” and started pushing. We kept pace with the senior citizen a few bike lengths ahead of us and then as we rounded the final few corners heading towards the finish stretch we caught up to him. And at the finish line, Mike and I were ahead of him by a nose!

We did it!

We did it!

Overall, I did better than I expected. According to Strava, I completed the ride in 2:51:59, which doesn’t count the rest breaks. My official Tour de Victoria time was 3:01:16. Interestingly, Strava tells me I broke my personal record for that final stretch from the cruise ship terminal to the Legislature — which I had previously set at last year’s Tour de Vic! So obviously I did have something left in the tank for that final sprint.

Thanks to Brynn Feather for this great picture she snapped of me enjoying one of my post-ride beers from Spinnakers.

Mike and I celebrated our strong finish with a beer (OK a couple!) at the finish line while we waited for Travis to finish the 140. We were there with our beer glasses held high to cheer him as he rolled through the finish line about an hour after us. I was awed by the thought that he had just rode his bike more than twice as far as we had!

Mike Hessler, Joe Wiebe and Travis Paterson - the Thirsty Riders!

Mike Hessler, Joe Wiebe and Travis Paterson – the Thirsty Riders!

Thanks to everyone involved with the Tour de Victoria for organizing such an amazing event. And now the question is: will I make the leap to the 100 km ride next summer?!

 

Joe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.

 

It’s a ride, not a race!

“It’s a ride, not a race”.  We took that approach this year and had a great day along with the rest of the Silver Wheels team, including many who took part in a pre-race photo-op:

Pre-race Silver Wheels team photo

Pre-race Silver Wheels team photo

and warm-up ride on Friday:

Di and Ed, Kim and Sandy

Di and Ed, Kim and Sandy

On ride day, though, the adrenalin was in evidence and everyone was pretty keen as we lined up for the start of the 100 and 60 km event.

The Start

The ride was wonderful.  We had a visitor from Scotland riding with us and she was overjoyed with the scenery and community spirit evident throughout the day.  We had several riders who had never participated in a large group event before and they were all impressed with the organization and atmosphere on the day.

Thankfully, the weather cooperated with the calmest conditions we can recall from the TdV events we have ridden, perfect temperature and, with nearly 100 riders from Silver Wheels and TaG, seeing riders we recognized everywhere during the day.

Kim, Di and John at the Start 1

Kim, Di and John at the Start 1

Kim and I rode the entire route with Di and Ed Bryant – Di and Ed were our friends with whom we toured England in May.

The Munn Road climb was a challenge as we expected, unfortunately we came upon the vehicle-cyclist crash just after it happened.  Getting passed by the 160 km peleton “freight train” was eventful – between the very fast, double line group and our riders we took up the entire road.  Thankfully no cars in evidence at that point.

Up and down, up and down, eventually on the final stretch and headed home:

Silver Wheels and TaG riders did very well in the ride results – a number of them finishing in the top 3 in their age/gender.  Especially good to see Mark finish well and he was very pleased to participate in the event – I hope I can do as well in the 80-99 age category when I qualify for that group!

Mark at the Finish - 80 and going strong 1

Mark at the Finish – 80 and going strong 1

As a bonus, on Sunday morning we left our Silver Wheels kit in the laundry and put on our TaG kit for a team social ride with Ryder, Seamus and Hugo.  It was a rather quick out and back on the 30 km route with a very nice coffee stop afterwards.

A great way to finish off a most enjoyable weekend of cycling.

TaG Cycling with Ryder Hesjedal, Seamus McGrath and Hugo Donais

TaG Cycling with Ryder Hesjedal, Seamus McGrath and Hugo Donais

So, see your next year!

Kim and Sandy

Sandy and Kim Fleming will be blogging for the Tour de Victoria as they train for this August. Amazing advocates for the Tour de Victoria, they always bring a large group with them!

Why the Tour de Victoria really is a ride for everyone!

Lets just say procrastination might be human nature, but it is definitely my nature.  The intention to train a little or even to ride a little before the Tour de Victoria went out the window when lake season arrived.

I pulled my bike out of the garage at 9:00 am on August 18. Two very flat tires and no convenient pump to sort that out. My car was loaded with friends and gear to head up to Tofino for a week (without me) and it was just about to pull out of the driveway when I threw my bike on the roof and had them drop me off at Oak Bay Bikes where the staff kindly pumped up the tires and had a quick look at the brakes, gears and chain and sent me on my way.  I rode my bike home. That was my road training.

I got home, answered a few work emails to take my mind off the inevitable ride ahead and then put on my riding kit and rode to the starting line: my warm up.

At the start of the 30km ride.

At the start of the 30km ride.

Aware that I had done no road training at all, I only signed up for the 30 km bike ride. And I was still painfully nervous about it all. Thank you to Tami Tate who reminded me at the start line that this is a ride and not a race. And 30 seconds into the ride, I couldn’t have been more glad that I signed up for the ride.

The weather was perfect. The riders were so kind and friendly. The roads were safe and the route was beautiful. I chatted with parents of children who were riding and was amazed at the effort and ability of the young riders. I rode alongside riders of all ages who were completing all different lengths of the Tour de Victoria in various states of exhaustion and euphoria.

The start

The start! photo credit: Brynn Feather Visuals

I loved every minute of it!

The tour was organized so well. There were so many volunteers helping and traffic control creating the most amazing riding experience. The 30 km route was beautiful, but not a riding challenge. I enjoyed the ride and to my husband’s chagrin, didn’t make it a race. My enthusiasm for the ride has spread and I have been collecting new riders at each and every bbq, gathering and relaxing afternoon on the dock at the lake. Next year it will be the 60 km ride or maybe even the 100km.

Sandi Piercy at finish line

The finish line. I’ll be back!

 

-Sandi Piercy is a Real Estate Advisor with Engel & Volkers Vancouver Island.  She is a member of SPINCO Victoria and is looking forward to seeing if her hours on the spin bike translate well to the road bike in August.

 

 

For the love of big rides, grateful on my first Tour de Victoria 140km

It was the boost I needed, a massive boost.

Five days later and I was still recovering physically from the Tour de Victoria’s Harbour Air 140km route. But holy pumpernickels, I now know I love big rides!!!!

Of course I’m still wiped, what with the smoke in the air, and with a Saturday afternoon of pints-instead-of-naps, I had been dead to the world until today (Thursday). It was my first continuous ride over 90km and first time this year over 70km.

Mentally, it was far more than a ride, it was an overdue lurch forward in the life of a dad who was threateningly lame as he encroaches his 40th birthday (in a month, I’m not scared, bring it).

As my wife put it, when I got back after the ride on Saturday I was in the best mood she’d seen me in for years. Still am.

Bloody good ride it was. It’s all the work you put into it, the rides, after rides, and those nights not drinking from a growler.

Started alone at the back of the pack amongst something like 800 or 1,000 cyclists, and I wasn’t social. I love the energy, I love being with the pack. I was present, I was brimming with excitement, ready for the unexpected, ready for cyclists to do things I’m not used to being around. And I was real quiet. I wasn’t spending a lick of energy I didn’t need to.

Travis Paterson ride start

From the back of the starting pack of the 140 & 160km. (Selfie)

Mental health was good. Inspiration, full check.

The first 20 kilometres was adrenaline-fuelled and I didn’t really feel anything until Colwood.

Wow. Lagoon Road, the Hatley Castle and ocean views, changed everything. It had all the beauty, and far more, than the two previous 90km TdV I had participated in.

I’m currently an unabashed masters student at Royal Roads and it was a huge fist pump as I used the descent of Fort Rodd Hill to bridge the gap to a group along windy Lagoon Road. Just two months I ago in June I was living at Royal Roads for an intense three weeks (there is a cool KOM there on the campus’ Serpentine Road, really fun). I see now how crucial my time was there in June. Instead of making dinner, many days I jumped on my bike at 4:45 p.m. and rode out to Metchosin, or up to Munn Road, and then got back around 7 p.m. and studied for the rest of the night.

The first big jolt on the 140KM was when we joined the 100KM riders. I had nothing but respect for them, but also, even as many of them shot past me, I felt the boost knowing I already had 40km on them

Then, a profound moment. My life ticked over a new chapter when I turned off the hills of Munn/Millstream and onto Willis Point Road. It was only the halfway point, about 72 km to go, but the mental battle was won.

The rolling hills of Prospect Lake were coming, didn’t matter. That Hastings ramp? Yeah, I heard people complaining about it, but the irony is that was no different than three or four of the same ramps on Millstream. Wasn’t a thing.

For me, the loop through West Saanich was harder than it should have been, and not coincidentally, I cracked on the same hills along Old West Saanich that I cracked on during the bike course of the Aug. 5 triathlon.

After that came Prospect Lake, which I rode pretty easy as I realized that yes, indeed, I had rode the Metchosin leg of the route too fast.

Of course I did.

But the rest of the way, after crossing the Pat Bay Highway into Cordova Bay, I was able to really enjoy it while pedalling at a decent clip (for me). I skipped the Cordova Bay aid station (in all I hit about half of the aid stations) and clung to a couple (really nice riders) wearing matching Velo Vets kit. I owe them one, they pulled me through, off-and-on, all the way to Cadboro Bay before we split, I believe.

Even if I had wanted to bury myself for the Happy Endings time trial section from Uplands to the finish, I couldn’t have.

Instead, at Gonzalez, I stopped to say hi to my dad who was cheering on the sidewalk. He took a photo of me. That was awesome.

Travis Paterson

A surprise visit with dad along Gonzalez Beach. (Photo Ken Paterson)

Then, after a good rip along Dallas Road working with a guy in a Tripleshot kit, and fighting through a leg cramp, I pulled off to join a different crowd at Ogden Point. Down on the beach I got a massive welcome, and hug, from ultra marathon swimmer Susan Simmons. I couldn’t believe how great she made me feel, she always does. There she is, about to do a TV hit, sitting relaxed on a driftwood log among dozens of supporters, mentally prepared to do a 24-hour Juan de Fuca double crossing (with no wetsuit) and she made ME feel special. What a person!

I got back on the bike, finished strong. Five hours and 34 minutes, about 30 minutes faster than I thought I’d be.

At this point I am so grateful to my wife @dralexisblanks for running the household (and her practise) while I was basically in training camp at Royal Roads, both for the mind, and the body. She’s an amazing partner.

I’m awestruck that I accomplished 1,885 metres climbed on one ride.

(One thing to add, the fanboy in me truly enjoyed being passed by the 160km elites, who added an extra 20km loop out in Metchosin and Sooke. A breakaway of two riders first caught me right on the top of Munn, their conversation was so intense but casual, I was inspired. Then a peloton of 160km riders caught me on Millstream, on the downhill. It was intense to be passed by them in the S-curve descents. Really cool.)

Travis Paterson, Mike Hassler and Joe Wiebe

With Mike Hassler & Joe Wiebe, the lieutenant and captain of our team The Thirsty Riders.

It’s a toss-up now as to whether I go for the 140km again next year, consider the 100km to see if I can speed up my pace, or if I go for broke and bump up to the 160km.

Guess we’ll just have to see what distances the Tour de Victoria offers.

Travis Paterson celebratory drink

Forgot my key (locked out of the house), so had another celebratory beverage in my new kit. (Selfie)

 

-Travis Paterson is a community reporter for the Saanich News and local Black Press papers. At night and on the weekend, he is a spandex-loving poser on a bike.

To my riding buddies, thanks for getting me here

Travis riding in a triathlon

Travis Paterson (left) rides the bike course of a triathlon, part of his build up to riding 140km in the Tour de Victoria. Photo Joel Rushworth

 

To my riding buddies, thanks for getting me here

For those unaware, I’m doing the 140km Harbour Air Seaplanes course. It’s my first time exceeding 100km. I mostly train alone but I am grateful for a few rides with others this year, and of course, each had its own story.  

Thanks Robbie for putting up with my bad jokes when I should have been dropping my shoulders and leading you through the Cordova Bay section after you pulled me the first 45km of Victoria and Saanich.
Thanks for taking pictures of me on Bear Mountain… wait, thanks for dragging me up Bear Mountain… next year we’ll figure out that gas cap on your boat.

See you at the finish.

Thanks Joe for introducing me to the Tour de Victoria in 2015 and inspiring me with your massive progress this year. (Joe is kickass. He blew a tire training for the 60km riding in View Royal on Sunday, took the bus to MEC, got a new tube/tire, and finished his ride.)

See you at the finish Joey.

And thanks to the Johns.

Triathlon John, I’ve known you for a decade. We did that cold October ride that I wore all neoprene and was still colder than you, and you had no neoprene. And John, we all know having that third kid of yours was a blessing. I gotta tell you, it was a blessing for me that she killed your training schedule and brought you back to Earth so I could keep up with you. (John’s a former marathoner who now has three kids and now trains with me, lol. He finally came back to Earth.)

Goalie John. I love your self-deprecating approach. But shut up. You’re in your 20s and you don’t have kids so, seriously, zip it. Thanks for letting me drag you up to Munn last week. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep up. Ironically, I plan to pip you on Munn this weekend. (Goalie John takes our beer league hockey team deep into the playoffs every year but on a bike, I just can’t stay on his wheel. So he just waits for me. What a great guy.)

See you at the finish line Johnny.

It’s funny how things change once you find a new toy.

All my eight year old son cares about is Minecraft. To him kids who don’t like Minecraft, well, they’re just kids and to me people who don’t like pro cycling, well, they’re just people. (I jest, but if the world was perfect, I would only care about pro cycling.)

This is a big journey for me. I bought a bike trainer, and I actually use it. A lot.

I started with triathlon, but it’s not swimming, it’s not running, that gets me pumped.

It’s watching (online) the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta A Espana.

It’s riding, and it’s knowing that I’m riding the Tour de Victoria.

I’ll be there throwing out high-fives on Saturday. Hit me.

  • Travis Paterson is grateful for everything

 

 

-Travis Paterson is a community reporter for the Saanich News and local Black Press papers. At night and on the weekend, he is a spandex-loving poser on a bike.

The Tour de Victoria is here, no turning back now

Deadlines approach, no turning back now.

The last month has been interesting, not a recipe for event training but it is what it was.

One month to go:

After some extended rest periods, courtesy of Hannah, my physiotherapist, and some common sense, I got the green light to get back on my bike for some easy, “relaxed” rides.  Along with my weekly physio session and daily stretching and exercise routines, I got in a couple of easy rides around North Vancouver and one Silver Wheels ride from Peace Portal around Birch Bay in Washington State.  These were a bit longer than suggested but by the end of July my knee was feeling a bit better (not nearly up to snuff but …) with less stiffening and post-ride pain.

Mt. Baker

My original plan had included three rides per week with a couple of serious TaG endurance rides including West Vancouver to Squamish and from Sumas to the top of Mount Baker ski area which was also my test ride last year to check fitness and endurance in advance of the TdV.

But I had to cancel both events this year and so my training program was essentially going from 4 weeks off the bike, to a couple of 40-50 km rides to possibly a couple of 100 km rides – I don’t think that would be Ryder’s suggested training build-up but I think (hope) it will work for me – but then I’m not looking to set any records or tear up the TDV course, just survive and finish in a respectable time

However, my physio (she’s the boss) generously allowed me to try a week of 3-50 km rides (easy).  To quote “you can probably do the 140 but might blow up your knee and put yourself back where we started a couple of months ago”.  So, for the long weekend I ended up riding with Kim to UBC, followed up the next day with a Silver Wheels 60km ride from West Vancouver to Ioco via the Barnet Highway with some extended climbing, but not anywhere near my planned program distance.

TaG Team

A large group from TaG has been training for hilly riding every week in preparation for the TDV.

Two Weeks to go:

After the long weekend, my ride plan was to be a bit more consistent with a couple of relatively easy rides with the Silver Wheels and one more strenuous ride with TaG.  I had planned to participate in the Glotman Simpson Cypress Challenge, a cancer fundraiser involving climbing to the top of Cypress Mountain ski area., but Hannah nixed that idea pretty fast when I described it.

Sandy and his new bikeAnd some good news – since I have obviously not reached N+1 yet (cycling joke), a new bike!!!  A Cervelo S5 with disc brakes and electric shifting – more competent bike than rider (for now).

One week to go:

My plan pretty well went out the window – more knee pain after riding on the long weekend so I’m heading to Victoria with much fewer kms in the bank than hoped for.  Most of the Silver Wheels team will be arriving a couple of days before the TDV and as captain, I plan to lead them on an easy “leg loosener” ride on the Friday before the event.  Probably 20 kms around Victoria.  We have done this every year and I have found it is good to keep turning the legs over the day before a long event rather than resting up.  Keeps reminding the body that there is work to be done.

I know I have the option to change my ride from the Harbour Air 140 km event to the TREK 100 km  event or the Christie Phoenix 60 km event when I register, but since my knee has responded slowly to exercise and treatment, I plan to make the distance decision at the last minute (Hannah says 60 max!).  Unfortunately, after a short, steep test ride around North Vancouver yesterday with Kim, including some climbs in the 15% range, my knee objected, so it might even be 0 kms for me this year – very disappointing but we’ll make the decision Friday.

Good luck to everyone riding in the Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria this year – no matter the distance or pace or whatever your personal goals are.  Keep safe and have fun – see you at the beer garden!

 Sandy

 

While Sandy’s been sidelined rehabbing his knee I’ve spent the last three weeks limiting myself to cycling with the more social Silver Wheelers.  After starting our season last spring in fairly wet conditions it was nice to finally have mostly dry days but lately the heat has just gotten too much for me. On today’s ride we travelled just under 60 kms in the smoke-filled air from all the wild fires happening around us.  Mind you I started off the morning quite tired after tackling some of North Vancouver’s hills yesterday, approximately 500 meters vertical, and found my throat and eyes were quite irritated from the poor air quality.

At this time, I’d like to thank the Tour de Victoria organizers for developing the Ride Training Programs. Although I haven’t followed it completely it was nice to see I had already incorporated most of their suggestions into my own plan. Both Sandy and I have been attending Pilates classes for a number of years and have found the core work to be very beneficial for our cycling.

Peace Arch

I’d also like to thank the TaG Ride Club for offering their Sunday Club training rides and the cycling related seminars. Hopefully I’ll be well fuelled and hydrated on August 18th and if I get a flat during the event I might even be able to fix it on my own! Tonight, Leslie Thomlison hosted a Race/Ride/Event Strategy Seminar to help prep us for TdV. Although I’ve been diligently training and listening to the advice of more experienced riders I still have ‘butterflies in my tummy’ even though this will be my fifth year riding the TdV.  Maybe it’s just excitement. See you on Saturday….

Kim

Sandy and Kim Fleming will be blogging for the Tour de Victoria as they train for this August. Amazing advocates for the Tour de Victoria, they always bring a large group with them!

New 60-km Ride Seems Less Daunting After Longer Training Rides

Happy (almost) BC Day! If you’re like me, the arrival of August is especially exciting because it means the Tour de Victoria is finally here. August 18 is the big day.

I’ve spent the past few months getting on my bike as often as I can to help prepare for the jump from the 45-km distance I’ve completed in past years to the new 60-km ride the Tour de Victoria is launching this year. With the amazing weather we’ve enjoyed, it was easy to avoid using the car to run errands, and I managed to really rack up some miles!

The Strava app on my iPhone, which I use to keep track of all my rides, tells me I rode 154 km in May, followed by 268 km in June, and then 350 km in July. That included my so-called “training regimen” — i.e. long rides involving stops at breweries. (Rewards work well for me!) For instance, in last month’s blog I described an epic weekend trip I did out to Sooke with some buddies where we stopped at several breweries on the way there and back, totalling nearly 110 km in two days.

Strava training ride

Not all of my longer rides in July actually involved beer. Midway through the month I met up with my friend and fellow blogger Travis Paterson. We started riding the Tour de Victoria together several years ago, but he quickly moved up to longer distances. This year he is attempting the 140-km ride. I wrote “attempting” even though I know he will conquer it no problem. Check out his July blog about climbing the Observatory Hill three times in a row — something I don’t think I could even do once!

Travis Paterson training ride

On our ride, we stopped halfway for lunch at Charlotte and the Quail, the comfy restaurant at the Gardens at HCP. It was a delicious meal, and rather than weighing ourselves down with beer, we got jacked up on coffee. All in all, it was a 32-km ride, not particularly long, but Travis pushed the pace above my normal cruising speed so it was definitely a good workout for me.

Strava training ride map

Later in July, I invited my brother Ed and a couple of friends, Chris and Mark, to join me on a ride up to North Saanich to check out a new brewery, Howl Brewing, that opened recently. A round trip of more than 60 km, this would be my longest single-day ride in recent memory, and it would definitely prove that I can complete the Tour de Victoria on August 18.

Joe Wiebe and friends training ride

It was a gorgeous, hot Sunday, and we made quick time getting to our first “hydration stop,” Category 12 Brewing, conveniently located on Keating X Rd about halfway up the Saanich Peninsula. We made such good time that we were actually early and had to wait 10 minutes for the brewery to open its tasting room at noon. Although we didn’t eat, C12 does serve pizza cooked on site by Pizzeria Prima Strada so it is a great destination on any cycling trip.

Howl Brewery

From there we rode up to the airport and then followed the “Flight Path,” a 9.3-km walking/cycling trail that encircles the airport. Next to the Fickle Fig Farm Market we spotted a sign advertising Howl Brewing and happily parked our bikes outside. This was the 37-km mark of our journey — and we still had to make our way home yet.

Danny Van Netten Howl Brewery

Howl Brewing is a tiny “nanobrewery” started by Danny Van Netten, a longtime bartender at Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. Over the past several years he has bought and stockpiled used brewing equipment in his garage until he was finally ready to open Howl.

Howl Brewery sign

The beers were tasty — my favourite was the Blueberry Hefeweizen, and he also had an ESB and an IPA on tap for samples and growler fills. Eventually, Howl hopes to get a picnic licence so that people can enjoy food from the Fickle Fig next door along with a beer from the brewery, but for now you have to stand in the small “tasting room” area just inside the front door.

Joe Wiebe

After fuelling up we climbed back on our bikes and began the long ride home. First, we crossed over the highway to Sidney so we could ride along the coast (just like the beginning of the 45-km ride from past years). At Royal Oak some of us chose to go back over the highway so we could visit Victoria Caledonian Brewery & Distillery.

By the time I got home, I’d cycled 72.7 km, a new record for me. I felt surprisingly good, and was able to get back on my bike immediately the next day without too much soreness. All in all, this bodes well for the 60-km ride facing me on August 18. Nonetheless, I still intend to ride the route once before the big day just to make sure I know what to expect. After all, I hear there are a couple of killer hills on the route…

All I know for sure is that the reward at the end of the ride will be an ice cold Tour de Victoria Kolsch from Spinnakers, which is served at the finish line to all of those (of legal age) who want one, along with a hearty meal.

Spinnakers beer

Joe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.

When injury slows down your training

(Sandy) I’m going to have to leave the interesting part of this blog to Kim.  Last year I was not in top condition to ride the TDV due to a major coming together with a concrete highway barrier during a spring group ride (injury included broken ribs, orbital bone, stitches etc.) and I had to compress my training period over the summer.  So that year I emphasized hill climbing rather than distance and recovered enough conditioning for the TDV event to finish with my best time to date but didn’t have enough left in the tank for the final push along Dallas Road to break the 5 hour barrier.

Since last fall, I’ve had some knee problems – stiffness and discomfort after rides.  This has gotten much worse since our trip to England and my physiotherapist has benched me over most of the last month – so I’m short of training time again this year.  Even worse than last year.

Sandy with knee injuryI’m OK when riding but my knee swells and stiffens up after the ride – very painful until I get moving again – so I’ve clearly got some healing to do.  I’ve not ridden much over the last month but have the green light to start up again, but at a very easy pace and only for short rides.  Not conducive to training for the TDV.  Nothing like a cold therapy machine when the body is hurting!

If I can keep up some riding, 2 or 3 times a week and starting 30 to 40 kms, I am confident I can “get through” either the 100 or 140 km ride but won’t plan to set any records on the way.

Last year I did a readiness “test” ride with TaG up Mt Baker– the climb to the top makes Munn Road seem a bit pedestrian!

Mt Baker ride

But that ride and other endurance training rides of 100 kms or more won’t happen this year.  I am pretty sure I can manage my pace and fueling strategy, based on past experience (I rode with the BC Randonneurs for a few years) and as long as I get on the bike a couple times a week.  I will have to see how my knee responds over the next month, and maybe trim my TDV distance back a bit this year to make sure I finish well, or finish at all.  Won’t target breaking 5 hours though!

(Kim): No such issues for me, though.  While Sandy has been resting and rehabbing his knee, I’ve been training 3 times per week with Silver Wheels and TaG, riding between 50 and 80 kms each outing.

The TaG rides include serious hill climbing in West Vancouver – around 1000 meters vertical

Sandy on West Vancouver hill climb

ride mapas well as paceline work with TaG out to Richmond (pushing through the wind – I want to be ready because I remember the TDV a couple of years ago!)

 

TaG team ride

And regular rides with Silver Wheels such as the Sunshine Coast from West Vancouver to Sechelt with lunch at the pub.

Silver Strides team ride

Or a fast paced group ride to Port Moody along the Barnet Highway with the Silver Wheels.

Silver Wheels team ride

Or a quick ride around UBC and SW Marine with coffee at Jericho Beach.

Silver Wheels team ride

My weekly average has been near 200 kms and I hope to keep this up in preparation for the TDV.  With conditioning from the climbing rides led by TaG and longer rides with Silver Wheels, I should be ready for the TREK 100 km ride on my new TREK Domaine bike, including Munn Road.

We found a good home for my old bike last week.

Sandy and Kim Fleming will be blogging for the Tour de Victoria as they train for this August. Amazing advocates for the Tour de Victoria, they always bring a large group with them!

Getting ready for the 140km with Observatory Hill Climb repeats

It’s not part of the Tour de Victoria, but it’s a pretty sweet view. And it’s a great way to pack in a lot of climbing in a short time frame.

On Tuesday night I headed up to West Saanich to attack the Observatory Hill Climb on Little Saanich Mountain.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m Travis Paterson, new to long distance cycling, formerly of long days drinking in the sun, not long days on a bike. Training time is starting to run out and if I’m going to be able to finish the Harbour Air Seaplanes 140km route on Aug. 18 without suffering greatly, I need to get my legs under me. Again, 140km is 40km longer than any ride I’ve done and is twice as long as my biggest ride so far in 2018.

Hence the Observatory Hill Climb.

It’s about 2.2 kilometres up with an average of about six per cent grade (sometimes a bit steeper but not much). It’s also great as the road is often closed to drivers, including nights and weekends.

As an up-and-back, the Observatory doesn’t quite fit into the Tour de Victoria route criteria but as a training ride it falls smack in between Prospect Lake and Elk Lake which are both major parts of the TdV 90, 140 and 160 km rides.

A couple of local hotshots made the Observatory Hill Climb kinda famous in 2015 when they climbed it 68 times in one day. And while that’s just ridiculous, one of them almost finished first on the Tour de Victoria 140km Epic that year (even though it’s not a race) and I’ve been inspired ever since.

Every time I hit it the last few years to prepare for the Tour de Victoria there’s always been some other cyclists there. This time there was a few people and there was this kid in yellow.

It’s common among the more ambitious cyclists in town to do hill repeats on the Observatory. I attempted what’s known as the Observatory Hat Trick.   

The kid in yellow did five repeats while I did three, and he did six in total. Honestly, I was a bit slower than normal because I was trying to be cool and shoot video of my evening at various stages. Either way the kid in yellow was going to slay me, and he did, but he was very nice.

My climb is here on Strava for anyone to see.

I always entertain the idea that at the end of the summer, after I’ve completed the Tour de Victoria and I’m in my best cycling shape of the year, I’ll go back and attack the Observatory for a personal best.

 

-Travis Paterson is a community reporter for the Saanich News and local Black Press papers. At night and on the weekend, he is a spandex-loving poser on a bike.

Training rides making TdV seem less daunting

Happy Summer! I hope you’ve been enjoying the warmer summer weather as much as I have. It certainly has inspired me to get out on my bike more often.

Over my previous two blogs, I outlined how I was looking ahead to the Tour de Victoria with an eye to training for the new 60-km ride this year. I mentioned that I was a little nervous about it because I haven’t completed a ride of that length before — at least not since my early 20s, and that doesn’t count since that was a long time ago now…

As the weather warmed up in June, I was on my bike nearly every day, often just to run errands or attend a business meeting. Any excuse was good enough for me to jump on my bike. I did squeeze in some training rides in the 20-km range, and then on Father’s Day weekend I asked my family if I could take half of Saturday to myself for a longer ride.

training - strava route map

That ride turned out to be a 55-km trip up to Island View Beach along the Lochside Trail. I didn’t plan on going that far, but the day was so beautiful I just kept riding, and when I found myself at Michell’s Farm Market I realized how close the beach was and thought that would be a nice place to stop for a rest before heading home. Well, one thing I didn’t really consider was the steep hill between the farm and the beach. It was fairly tough to complete heading towards the beach, and then as I coasted down the slope on the other side I realized it goes down a lot further towards the beach, which would mean a pretty nasty climb on my way back out.

Island View Beach

After relaxing at the beach and munching an energy bar, I scouted around a bit to see if there was another way back to the Lochside Trail that avoided that big hill. No luck. Oh well, hill climbing is an important part of cycle training, right? (My buddy Travis Paterson certainly thinks so.) I’ll admit right here and now that I walked up most of that hill. It was just too steep and long, especially after riding about 30km already that day. But I enjoyed the glide down the other side and then rode hard all the way home, proud of breaking my previous record distance of 50 km.

A few days later, I got an email inviting me to join some friends on a weekend ride out to Sooke. The plan was to stop at breweries along the way, stay overnight, and then return home the next day. Pretty much my perfect weekend! Although I was intimidated by the prospect of riding about 100 km in two days, I felt like my experience riding to Island View Beach had proven I could handle it.

Training - Strava 60km

The weekend weather turned out to be perfect for the ride — sunny but not blazing hot, just warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket. I met 5 friends at Spinnakers on Saturday morning. Following brunch and a beer, we rode along the E&N Rail Trail to Lighthouse Brewing, where we checked out the new tasting room under construction there. From there we continued on the E&N Rail Trail out to where it joins the Galloping Goose in Colwood.

We ventured off the Galloping Goose to get to the Axe & Barrel Brewhouse, which is located on the north side of the highway in Langford. We relaxed on the patio at the brewery, enjoying flights of beers and some snacks from the pub’s kitchen.

training group ride

Then we were back on our bikes for the next leg out to Sooke. This part of the trail is quiet and secluded, travelling through some beautiful forests and along gorgeous coastlines — first Matheson Lake and then the Sooke Basin itself. Once in Sooke, we celebrated our ride at the Sooke Oceanside Brewery, conveniently located next to the Shell Station on the highway just outside of the town centre.

Training ride - Sooke

After a while we continued on to Sooke Brewing, a custom-built facility right in the heart of Sooke’s central “downtown.” A highlight there was a charcuterie tray we ordered from Black Market Meats, which is right next to the brewery. They even delivered the tray right to our patio table! We stayed in an AirBNB rental near Sooke Harbour House. Total riding on Day 1 was 58.5km. And don’t worry — we weren’t riding inebriated. We only had sample flights or a glass of beer at each “hydration stop” and we also drank plenty of water.

Training ride Strava

After dinner and some board games we all crashed. In the morning we fuelled up with coffee and breakfast scones before getting back on our bikes for the ride home. I was surprised at how good I felt following such a long ride the day before, and once we got going I felt like I could ride all day. We stopped for brunch about an hour later at the beautiful Glenrosa Farm restaurant, and then continued our ride from there to the Four Mile Brewpub in Colwood where we enjoyed one final beer before heading for home. Total riding on Day 2 was 51.4 km, making for an overall weekend total of nearly 110km.

Following those long rides I certainly feel less daunted by the prospect of completing the 60km ride at the Tour de Victoria in August. That said, I still haven’t gone 60km in one day, let along in one ride without breaks. But I recently heard about a new brewery called Howl Brewing that has opened up by the airport, which is apparently 33km from my house. Riding there and back seems like the perfect way to break the 60km barrier! Wish me luck…

 

Joe WiebeJoe Wiebe, the “Thirsty Writer,” is the author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries, the definitive guidebook to British Columbia’s burgeoning craft beer industry, currently in its second edition. Joe has ridden in all of the Tour de Victoria rides and will be challenging himself with the Christie Phoenix 60km this August.