Spin class to road bike in 7 weeks!

“August 18th is months away!” Yes it was, in April. It’s now the end of June and I’m realizing that I’d better get on my bike. Not just my beach cruiser either. That’s not say that I don’t do any riding at all – I do – on a spin bike.

Most days I go to a spin class [at SPINCO in Victoria] and I do wind sprints and hill climbs, fast jogs and races. I leave the class soaked in sweat, a little high on endorphins and feeling like I really worked out, feeling like I am conditioned and feeling like I am a rider.

But reality always hits me in the summer when I hop on my bike up at Shawnigan Lake and go for a ride around the lake or a ride to Cowichan Bay and grasp the fact that my body speaks a different language: spin.

My first real bike riding experience was four years ago. I was booked on a vacation of scenic bike rides in the hills of Tuscany. We would be riding to beautiful wineries each day where we would be sample some of the world’s most delicious grapes. I packed a different sundress for each day and cute sneakers or sandals in which to ride. I pictured a basket with olives, cheeses and bread on the front of my bike and small rolling hills which would only challenge my hair product meant to tame my frizzy mop.

I could not have been more wrong.

I was the only rider who didn’t bring her own shoes. And I was so grateful to my husband for throwing in a pair of riding shorts that I insisted I would not wear.

Luckily, riding is part of Italian culture. Cars give riders wide berth. Other riders acknowledge one another. And helping someone new to riding, is a time for patience. Unfortunately, the hills are not gentle slopes, but long, steep, winding climbs. And the descent seemed less like a reward and more like a terrifying drop. But an experience I will never forget.

Sandi & Scott Piercy in Tuscany

With Scott Piercy in the hills of Tuscany somewhere!


Sandi & Scott Piercy in Tuscany

I am openly a fair weather participant – to almost everything. This is what makes spin class a way to stay in shape, on a bike, all year round. It’s a 50 minute workout and I don’t have to do any bike maintenance at all.

Remarkably, I have managed to fall off the stationary bike (leaving minor scrapes and bruises), so I can’t even say it’s so much safer.

But there is a definite sense of security in spin gym. No cars that speed by way too closely. No cyclists breathing down my neck, who I might injure by causing a crash.  No gravel or potholes. No puddles or water run-off to cross. No speed bumps. No traffic lights. No falling off a wobbling bike. No tipping over when you just can’t get unclipped. I have a “spin sister”, my exercise partner, who keeps me going and a crew of young fit, fun (mostly) females who inspire me daily.

SPINCO spin class riders

The group from Spinco including “spin sister” Jodi 3rd from right and Sandi, centre


Leaving the security of a gym is the biggest challenge for me in taking on the Tour de Victoria. And then there’s the helmet head…

7 weeks until the big day. This is the week I drag out the road bike and make sure it’s tuned up for the season. Unless I procrastinate a little longer.


-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.

Chris Margetts and Sandi Piercy of Engel & Volkers

With Chris Margetts (@chris82mm) and I in our new @engelvolkersvancouverisland Tour de Victoria riding gear!


Bike trip for 3 weeks in England adds training variety

Well …

We are back from 3 weeks in England including 9 days of cycling in the Lake District and the Cotswolds.  The bikes were not quite what we are accustomed to (hybrids mostly) and the roads and paths were definitely not what we usually ride but there was lots of challenging terrain, even by Munn Road and Esquimalt Lagoon standards.

Lake District and the Cotswolds

We were able to get in over 400 km’s of cycling both on and off road during our trip and while not adding to our training plan for the TDV, at least when combined with upwards of 25,000 “steps” during our typical sightseeing days, we maintained whatever fitness we had before the trip.

The roads in England were narrow, windy and definitely not flat, but on the whole the drivers were very courteous and gave us sufficient room on the road.  We tried to stay off the “A” roads as much as possible except when we traversed between Windermere and Keswick in the Lake District, and of course we avoided the Motorways.  The “B” roads were pretty good, but narrow, and the surface was typically rough with a lot of chip seal.  The “A” roads often had a bike path beside the road or allowed riding on the sidewalk to stay off the narrow (by our standards) roads.  The national bike path system also allowed us to rely on small local paths to a great extent.

Windermere and Keswick in the Lake District

Some of the signage could be a bit confusing, though:

street signage

The Lake District had a lot of gravel paths and off-road excursions and the roads seemed to follow old sheep paths straight up some local “mountain” ranges (OK – hills).  Even with mountain bike gearing, we must admit to walking the final few feet over the 25% climb of the Newlands Pass between Keswick and Buttermere.  And the descent down the other side was quite entertaining – good test for our brakes!

Newlands Pass between Keswick and Buttermere

I was reminded however that I am not a fan of flat pedals and flat bars – a bit of a mishap while descending on loose gravel!

We also took one day to follow the Avon Canal tow path from Branford-on-Avon, near Bath, to the Caen Locks.  Luckily we had mountain bikes that day because the tow path was quite rough.  But a good day riding and the canal system is remarkable and surprising.  We also found a couple of very nice pubs alongside the canal (no surprise there).  The Caen  Locks are a continuous series of 16 manually controlled locks on the Avon Canal – it takes nearly 5 hours for a canal boat to traverse the locks!

The Caen  Locks

Lots of local pubs – it seemed that every village with more than a half-dozen houses had a pub as well, even if there was no other store.  The various market towns where we stayed had lots of good restaurants and eateries and we found the pub fare to be generally good and only around 50% more expensive than in Vancouver when exchange, VAT and service charges were taken into account.

local English pubs

No sooner than we returned from England, to help get over jet lag we joined a number of our Silver Wheels riders for a 3-day trip to Victoria to sample some of the roads featured during the TDV.  This included the Seaside route and Metchosin Road to Sooke – taking some refreshments (and having a post-libations bean bag toss) at 17 Mile Pub.

Silver Wheels riders for a 3-day trip to Victoria

So now back to our cycling routine –  two days with Silver Wheels (mainly social riding ) and one day with TAG (hill climbing and pacelining).  We will be adding some extra longer distance rides as the summer progresses to gauge our hydration and conditioning in preparation for the TDV.

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!

Own Munn Rd, don’t let it own you

We need to talk about the Munn Road hill climb.

Maybe you’ve ridden it before.

Maybe you haven’t.

If you don’t know Munn, it’s kind of a thing in Victoria.

Tour de Victoria cyclists either have a relationship with Munn, or they’re about to have one.

For starters, it’s serious enough that the fastest recorded times on record for the 3.6km, 4% climb are shared by Nathan Brown (just some guy that wore the polka dot jersey in the Tour de France) and local hero Rob Britton (just some guy who used to live in Victoria and who won the Tour of Utah, the second biggest annual U.S. race).

So, like, if these guys are burying themselves to make sure they have the Strava KOM, you know it’s a thing.

For the rest of us normals, I think we can agree when I say the problem with Munn is not us, it’s Munn.

I mean, seriously, how did Munn get so totally arrogant. It acts like it’s the most beautiful climb in Victoria. But it really needs to get over itself.

Or, wait, I need to get over Munn?

Okay it’s me. And you, if you’re doing this year’s Tour de Victoria 90km, 140km or 160km route.

I’m doing the Harbour Air 140km and I’m… well I’m freaking out.

To put it into context, my two biggest rides to date have been the 90km Legend routes at the 2016 and 2017 Tour de Victoria [this distance is now 100km for 2018].

Which is why I’ve already ridden Munn Road thrice this spring. And I plan to do it a few more times ahead of Aug. 18.

Travis at Royal Roads University

Finding time to ride as a masters student at Royal Roads ain’t easy. But it has to be done.

Munn is a jerk.

Along the TDV Munn Road Strava segment there are a series of flat sections and even descents. But it’s a gut check for joes like me.

I mean, Munn is just as rude as it is arrogant. It acts like it’s a big deal, but, like, there’s no view of the ocean. I mean, come on, it’s Vancouver Island, why would I bust my hump for 3.6km to hit a peak that has a view of nothing but boring cedars, as far as you can see. Just cedars. I mean, seriously, you’re sucking wind and all there is to see are thousands of massive air-cleaning cedars, filtering the purest air on Earth. What a drag.

Thing is, you don’t need to ride Munn more than once to build a relationship.

Munn knows I’ll be back. And even as I write this I wonder, maybe my next ride, if I just jump back into the big ring on those two descents, I can shave 30 seconds.

Behind Munn Road: The TDV 140km and 160km have big climbs before Munn, but if you’re doing the 140km, you won’t hit Munn until you’ve done 90, which is a significant marker.

Munn carries an average of 4% grade over 3.6 kilometres. Beware, Munn sucks you in on winding ramps that you don’t realize are coming around the next corner.


-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.


Finding a training incentive can make all the difference

In my first blog last month I introduced myself as a beer writer and event producer who loves to go on bike rides for exercise. After completing the Tour de Victoria’s 45-km ride for the past few years, I am making the jump to the new Christie-Phoenix 60-km ride this summer — a challenge for me since the longest ride I’ve done in recent memory is 50 km.

I find it’s good to have incentive when I go on a training ride. Sometimes it’s as easy as setting myself a challenge or designing a new route I’ve never done before. I don’t like to double back so usually I try to do a loop of some sort. Here in Victoria, the geography naturally leads to some great circle routes. One ride I often do follows the waterfront from downtown around James Bay, along Dallas Road, through Oak Bay and Cadboro Bay and then up to Mount Douglas. From there, I take the Lochside Trail to the Galloping Goose Trail, which returns me downtown. All told, it is a 30- to 35-km ride depending on the route I take.

During May, my Strava app tells me I rode about 170 km, which works out to about 42 km per week, including two rides longer than 30 km. (I would have done more, but I was out of town for a week over the May long weekend.)

Strave Victoria ride plus Johnson St Bridge

This route from May 12 is a good example of the circle route I described above. A highlight was the forced break I had to take when the new Johnson Street Bridge went up as I arrived there. I was impressed by how silent its mechanism was as it went up and down (watch my video here) — and by how pleasant and safe it is to cross compared to the old Blue Bridge with no bike lanes and its not-very-bike-friendly steel grating. I jokingly titled this ride “Long way round to Vessel” because I finished up at my local liquor store, Vessel, to buy myself a post-ride reward.

May 12 route around Victoria

Speaking of rewarding oneself on a longer ride, my other long ride in May was a new route I tried with the goal of riding past as many of Victoria’s brewpubs and breweries as possible. I rode out to Esquimalt past Swans and Spinnakers. I could have gone past Lighthouse Brewing using the E&N Rail Trail, but since that bike trail isn’t complete yet, I chose to stay on the roads. When Lighthouse opens its new tasting room later this summer, however, that trail will definitely be a more attractive option. Then I took the Old Island Highway through View Royal. It was my first time cycling on that road — although busy with car traffic, it does have a painted bike lane so I felt safe enough.

4 Mile Pub

One potential stop for refreshment was the Four Mile Brewpub about 10 km into my ride. As it is situated on a relatively steep hill it would have been nice to stop there, but apart from pausing to take a photo, I wanted to keep riding. At the Trans-Canada Highway I joined the Galloping Goose and continued along it to Colwood. At that point, I decided not to try to make it all the way to the Axe & Barrel Brewhouse in Langford since that would have added another 8 km round trip to my total ride and also would have involved some non-bike-friendly road travel.

Phillips Beer Glasses

So I returned along the Galloping Goose and detoured into Rock Bay past Hoyne Brewing, Driftwood Brewery and the Moon Under Water Brewpub. I rode past Vancouver Island Brewing and finally stopped for refreshment at the 28-km mark of my ride at Phillips Brewing’s new tasting room. There I rewarded myself with a glass of Phillips’ delicious Tiger Shark Citra Pale Ale — okay, actually two glasses of it — the first one disappeared very quickly!

Looking ahead to June I plan on ramping up my training considerably including some longer rides in the 40- to 50-km range. Since I definitely like to include a reward (i.e. craft beer), one ride I am considering is a visit to Category 12 Brewing in Saanichton, which is a 44-km round trip along the Lochside Trail for me. I’ll report back in a month’s time. Cheers!

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.

Sandy & Kim Fleming part of 100 club riders coming from the North Shore

Sandy and Kim Fleming

Sandy & Kim Fleming

My name is Sandy Fleming and my wife Kim and I are from North Vancouver – both of us have ties to Vancouver Island.  Kim was born and raised in Duncan and my family was Navy –  growing up in Esquimalt.  So, returning to Victoria for Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria is a bit of a homecoming for both of us.

We are both retired so have more time now to cycle in general and to prepare for the TDV.  We ride with the Silver Wheels, a cycle club registered with the West Vancouver Senior’s Activity Centre and we also train and ride with the TaG Ride Club, located in North Vancouver.

The Silver Wheels is mainly a social ride club but of course when you have a group of cyclists, the pace to the mid-ride coffee stop often becomes more competitive than “social”.  Silver Wheels has 80 members and 35 of us are registered for the TDV this year, up from 20 last year (I’m the team captain).  TaG is a training and competitive cycling club originally formed by Leslie Thomlison and Gina Gran with a focus on training, skill development, and competition for both road and mountain bike.  TaG has a great indoor studio and started an outdoor ride club just last year, with well over 100 members now.  TaG expects to have over 50 riders at the TDV as this will be the primary club event for outdoor training this year.  So nearly 100 North Shore riders are coming to Victoria for the TDV!  I’m torn which club jersey to wear – last year I rode wearing my TaG jersey and switched to Silver Wheels for the beer garden.

I have participated in the TDV for the past 6 years, only missing out on the inaugural event in 2011 and riding the 140km route every year.  Somehow I’ve improved my time each year, including the very wet and cold event in 2013, but not sure if that record will continue.  Kim accompanied me every year and was my cheering section the first two years, but then decided that riding would be more fun than watching, so she has ridden the past 4 years, including the 90 km route the past two years – 100 km this year.

Our club rides are typically 50 to 80 kms, 3 times per week weather permitting, so we get in around 200 kms of riding per week with a bit more when we get closer to the TDV.  We expect to be doing lots of north shore rides over the summer plus some endurance rides with TaG to get ready, and maybe some extra long rides on the weekends.

I have ridden in other Gran Fondo’s and similar cycling events, but have found the community spirit, organization (beer garden!), and great routes makes the TDV the most enjoyable one we have participated in – especially the families who sit at the side of the road cheering you on.  We have encouraged other cyclists we ride with to try the TDV, especially for their first mass cycling event, and many of them have also returned for subsequent years.

So we’re off to England for a vacation now – with some easy rides in the countryside planned.  We will have some conditioning catch-up to do when we get back!

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!


Travis Paterson gets serious with the Harbour Air 140km

If you visit my street on a Saturday morning in May, you’re likely to find a four-year-old boy chasing a seven-year-old boy on their bikes screaming obscure references only a cycling fan would know.

“It’s a breakaway, Nibali wins!,” “No I’m Nibali, your Froome.” “No, I don’t want to be Froome.” “Fine, you can be Nibali, I’m Quintana.” “Wait, can I be Quintana?”

I had the same conversation with my brother when I was a kid except it was Gretzky and Lemieux, and not European bike racers. That’s not to say we’re a bike racing family. We’re not (at least not yet). But we love riding for recreation, and we love following the sport’s big races via the internet, which are mostly in Europe and finish during breakfast time here in Victoria.

And if it sounds abnormal, it’s my fault. Well actually, it’s Ryder Hesjedal’s fault. He is probably… wait, Ryder is totally the reason I’m training for my fourth straight Tour de Victoria.

A few years before I got into cycling, it was 2010, and I was sitting at the Victoria News sports reporting desk. I took a call from Seamus McGrath, the director of Tour de Victoria and who I knew of as a two-time Olympic mountain biker. He phoned to tell me about this new mass participation cycling event he wanted to create across Greater Victoria. I remember he had to visit all 13 councils from Sidney, to Oak Bay to Sooke.

I said, “So you’re saying, you know this Ryder Hesjedal guy riding to fourth place in the Tour de France?”

That summer I started watching and reporting on Hesjedal each day. My wife and I fell in love with the morning routine of watching Hesjedal and the peloton ride through the French countryside before heading off to work.

But it still took me a five years before I joined the Tour de Victoria on its fifth edition in 2015.

Travis Paterson Tour de Victoria 2016

Here I am at the start of the 2016 Tour de Victoria Legend distance of 90km. I’m just a “little over-confident” with the Rock and Roll pose. By the 80km mark the wind had stopped me in my tracks along Dallas Road. I could barely pedal forward and I nearly fell off my bike. (Arnold Lim Photography)

This summer I’m excited to share my journey in the build-up to the 2018 Tour de Victoria. I started in with the 45km from Sidney. I learned I really didn’t know much about cycling or how to train for it, except that I was scared enough to know I needed to get in a lot of rides.  

On that 2015 ride I had to stop about 10 minutes in and borrow a friend’s multitool to tighten a broken crank, and then I repeated this act the whole ride (he let me take the tool). The next year I took the bike in for a pre-ride tune up at (the wrong) local bike shop in anticipation of jumping up to the 90km ride and, once again, I had to stop and tighten the crank about five times throughout the ride.

Travis Paterson Tour de Victoria 2016

– Again, over-confident pose alert! Coming up the short but steep ramp of Hastings Street in Saanich, towards the aid station in Strawberry Vale. I scarfed a pack of complimentary Stingers cherry flavoured chews. Little did I know, imminent pain and suffering awaited. (Arnold Lim Photography)

I got the bike fixed, finally, and had a much more enjoyable 90km ride in 2017.

To challenge myself again this year, I am making make the jump to the Harbour Air Seaplanes 140km. I’ve never biked beyond 100km, and only hit that mark once, so I’m serious when I say this will be a big jump for me. I am a full time parent, reporter, and masters student, so finding time to bike is not easy.

Finally, I’m proud to say the amount of cycling I watch is starting to be outmatched by the amount of cycling I actually do!

Look for my upcoming blogs about my painful but rewarding first experiences accomplishing popular local rides that are part of the Tour de Victoria, including the legendary Munn Road hill climb, riding in headwinds, and sneaking on the back of group rides.


-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.


Joe Wiebe tackles the Christie Phoenix 60km

I am the author of the book, Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries. I am also the Producer of Victoria Beer Week, which takes place annually in early March, and the Director of Content for the BC Ale Trail. You might hear me talk about craft beer on CBC Radio or CFAX 1070 from time to time, and I write the occasional article on beer for magazines like WestJet and British Columbia.


Finish line 2016 Tour de Victoria

Mike Hessler, Travis Paterson and me, 2016

Cycling has been a big part of my life since I was a kid growing up in the countryside in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. I had to ride my bike to get anywhere so I guess I was a cycle commuter long before such a thing was considered cool. As an adult, cycling has become a pleasure pursuit and a source of exercise. I am a fair-weather cyclist — I have trouble motivating myself to ride in winter months or on a rainy day. I only own one bike — an 8-year-old Trek 7.2 FX that is a hybrid commuter/mountain bike. I picked it because I needed a bike with a big frame and I feel like it fits me well. Also, it has 24 gears so there are plenty of options for me to choose, and I definitely use them all!


As a beer writer, I drink beer on a regular basis so exercise is important to me. For the past several years, I have been riding the Tour de Victoria’s 45km Christie Phoenix Challenge. That is generally the longest ride I do every year, but when the organizers announced new distances this year, I decided to up my game and signed up for the Christie Phoenix 60km ride. I plan on working my way up to it over the next few months — I don’t want August 18 to be the first time I try to ride 60km.


Start line 2017 Tour de Victoria

Mike Hessler and me, 2017

A good workout ride for me is about 25-30 km long; I often ride a loop around Victoria using the Lochside Trail and Galloping Goose as much as possible. I can go for a long time on flat stretches, and I really try to push myself to get a good workout every time I ride. I tend to avoid hills as much as possible because they really sap my stamina (I am a big guy so it takes a lot of energy to get my body up a hill). The first couple of years I did the Tour de Victoria, I had to walk myself up part of the big Ash Road hill and that other nasty one at King George Terrace. It’s so unfair that King George Terrace comes so close to the end of the ride when I’m usually so tired!


But more and more during my training this spring and summer I intend to challenge myself on hills to build up some endurance (I hope!). I also intend to ride the route of the Christie Phoenix 60km at least once before the day of the ride, just to prove to myself that I can do it. 


So far this year I’ve only gone out on a few rides, but as the weather warms up I plan on getting out more and more often. I have a couple of longer rides planned, including a ride to Swartz Bay to meet a friend who is coming over to visit from Vancouver (that is a 70-km round trip for me so I might have to take my bike on the bus up there).


Next month, I’ll provide an update on how my training is going, and maybe I’ll recommend a post-ride beer, too. Cheers!


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.