Thursday, February 26, 2009


I'm am giving Twitter a bit of a test drive. It's been fun so far. I think that Twitter and the Livestrong organization must have some sort of deal as Lance Armstrong was one of the people that I was automatically "Following". Something must be going on as, Lance has, as of tonight 185,000 followers on Twitter.

Believe it or not their are Twitter rankings - who knew? See more here:

The cool thing is, when you set things up, your own posts or "Tweets" in Twitter parlance, can appear right next to Lance's on your home page - which is kinda neat.

Anyway, my Twitter up-dates, for what they are worth, can be found at:

I have a ways to go to catch up to Mr Armstrong on the Followers front.

We'll see how it goes. Hard to know how different this is from the "What Are You Doing Now" header on your Facebook page.

Great - more social networking web-2.0 stuff

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Spring Training

The snow is still piling up on our front lawn, but the days are getting longer and spring is hopefully not too far away. For those winter-bound cyclists and triathletes like us, it may still seem like a long way away. It's the time of year when many take a vacation or holiday or a dedicated training trip away from where they are, to some place warmer and nicer. This has become a very popular thing to do for both serious and recreational triathletes and cyclists. It follows the tradition of Professional cyclists who would travel from their Northern European homes to the south of Spain, France or Italy in later winter to put some early season miles in.

Many triathlon and cycling coaches offer fully supported training camps now in Southern Europe as well as southern parts of North America. In fact, we are about to head off for 10 days of riding in Tucson, AZ starting this weekend - although there is a bit of business side in for me with Trifest going on. Tucson has become a bit of a go-to place for this sort of thing at this time of year. It's long, been the winter home of top triathletes and cyclists, but now more and more recreational triathletes are starting to take a week or so and head to Tucson for some warm weather training and an escape from snow, cold and wet weather.

So, what to do on these weeks away from home? My general suggestion is that for most, if they are coming from a place where the outdoor riding has been limited to non-existent for the last 2 - 3 months, that the best use of a week or more, where you can ride outdoors in nice weather, is to . . . . . just ride. Many get all hung up on what to do and what about running and swimming, but a 7+ day block of just cycling can really jump-start things for the spring, and start to lay down a decent base of cycling miles. Don't worry so much about time and pace - just get out the door every day and ride. If their are groups of others so much the better. Part of the challenge for more than a few with this, is that they are on their own proprietary training program. Nothing wrong with this, and I am not advocating not doing what a coach has said to do, but that push-pull dynamic of a good group can be hugely beneficial. A good coach will know this and give you the green light to ride as much as you want, or as much as is realistic or reasonable during such a time period.

Cycling is good for this sort of thing - unlike swimming or riding where it is much harder to really ramp up the training in a very short period of time. It's a much more pleasant environment to spend a lot of hours doing something and the overuse injuries typically, are minimal. That's not to say that you are not supposed to pay attention to how you feel day to day and that you need to know what a serious ache or pain is vs. the good ache or pain from good training is. If you have been doing a decent amount of indoor riding - quality oriented sessions of about an hour 2 - 4 times a week, it's realistic to think that you could get out and ride about 2 -3 hours every day for a week at a decent pace and maybe throw in a few longer rides to.

Don't want to take the bike or you are going on a more family oriented vacation - then think about doing a run focus week. The great thing about running is it's portability. You can do it anywhere. Also a good run takes up far less time than a good ride. You can be up at sunrise run for an hour each day for a week and no one would know about it. For most, that would be a solid week of running!

Happy holidays!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lance Attacks

Wow! The racing has barely begun but the fireworks has already started. At the pre-race press conference for the Tour of California, their was an exchange between Paul Kimmage and Lance Armstrong that has to be seen to be believed.

Now to set this up properly, one needs to know that Kimmage is a former Professional cyclist himself and is an award winning sports journalist who currently writes for the London Times Sunday Magazine. He is perhaps best known for his book, Rough Ride, which was one of the first books ever written that really exposed the behind the scenes drug use in Professional cycling and the hard life and indeed rough ride, that is the life of a professional cyclist. Kimmage has been an outspoken critic of drug use in cycling and is a bit of an outlier in the sport since he retired from racing and wrote the book. But much of what he talked about in Rough Ride has proven to be true, as the years have gone by, and rider after rider either was caught using drugs, confessed or retired with controversey swirling around them.

Then their is Lance Armstrong - his story is well known and his comeback out of retirement has many people again focussed on the seven time Tour de France Champion. In a radio interview last fall when he learned of Armstrong's return, this is what Kimmage had to say: "The Cancer of the peloton has returned. It has come out of remission". Have a look at the exchange between Kimmage and Armstrong:

Ironic that another big anti-Armstrong proponent, Greg Lemond introduces the news-clip on the VeloNews web site!

It's an extraordinary exchange. In particular, it shows Armstrong at his best, when the heat is on and backed into a corner, is when he takes his performance, be it on the race course or even in a press- conference, to another level. I am guessing that most other athletes under similar circumstance would be absolutly dumb-founded, but Armstromg takes it all in stride and does not miss a beat - even making the whole thing a bit of a joke. Indeed, the look on George Hincapie's face to Armstrong's right is telling - he doesn't know what to make of it all!

The season has barely started and already, the stakes and the excitment is at a high-level. Bring it on!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Paolina and I met on a bike ride - yes it's true. It's remarkable, beyond the fact that we are both keen triathletes( Well, has been a keen triathlete for me) and cyclists. Had I turned right on that road at HWY 9 and Dufferin, north of Toronto, we may have never met. But I went left and that's how it happened. I had seen Paolina coming along the road, so I did turn left. We rode together that summer day for about an hour. Truth be known, I was in dreadful shape at the time and was killing myself to keep up, while at the same time trying to look relaxed and carry on a conversation, as we rode over the roads of the Holland Marsh - a hard thing to do!

We parted ways and I went home and recovered( !!), but I was smitten. I followed up with her, did some telephone tag and then their was a first date - lunch at the Soho Bistro on Yonge St. And it grew from their. The timing was good but not great for the both of us. We had both been through a lot in the few previous years, and neither of us was looking for something else - just friendship. However it quickly went way beyond that and a love bloomed that I think caught both of us by surprise, but it was a powerful force that we came to realize was important to us. Together we were better!

I really do love her. Paolina has been such a wonderful and amazing influence in my life and I feel lucky and grateful every day that we are together.

Happy Valentine's Day Darling - I love you!

Today's "Training"

Forty-five minutes on the rollers this morning. Most of it, spinning in the 53/12 gear. Legs felt good. Then did the mini core routine afterwards.

I had been getting very excited about the prospects of some outdoor riding this weekend after a week of spring like weather here in Southern Ontario ( snow is almost completely gone), but we are back in the deep-freeze with a temp of -10C this morning and only slightly warmer weather forcast for the weekend. Maybe xc skiing. Have not been skiing in over a month now. Should be icey and fast at either Hardwood Hills or Horseshoe Valley

Call me a wimp but my lower threshold for outdoor riding is around 0C. If it's below that, I am indoors on the trainer or rollers - as boring as it is, it's a far better use of the time.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Back on the Train-er Gang!!

Did about an hour today on the Trainer. Warmed up for 15 - 20 minutes then, rode at about 40K TT effort for 20 minutes. Felt great until 3 - 4 minutes to go. Spin easy for 5 minutes then 5 X (1 min. all-out then 3 min easy) Tried to keep RPM's on the hard bits above 80. Spin easy for 10 minute warm down. Think that was actually more than an hour. Lost track of time - time flys when you are having fun!

Was getting those little twinges in the medial aspect of my calf muscles on the 1 min all-out sections that I sometimes get late in a road race when I am just maxed out and setting up for the sprint.

Monday, February 9, 2009


As noted, my health has taken a turn for the better. Still not sure what I had, and I am not back to 100%, but it's getting there. Whatever, I have been back on the bike for three days now. First two days was spent riding the rollers for 50 minutes each day, just working on keeping the spin smooth. The rollers bring back the smooth spin nicely after a bit of a lay-off.

Yesterday, I rode the trainer for an hour with 40 minutes of 2 min. on and 2 min. off. Was surprised with how good I felt on the hard bits and was pushing a decent gear for most of it. The goal between now and the trip to Tucson is to be on the bike 5 - 6 days/week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lance 2.0

Lance Armstrong is back! This is old news now, but this seemed to sneak-up on everyone - maybe even Lance himself. After being on the sidelines for three years the seven-time Tour de France Champion, thought that he could and should get back into top level professional road racing. Like most of what Lance does, once the commitment was made - he and everyone else around him in his entourage of supporters, sponsors and handlers was full-on, into it. How else to explain Trek re-firing up the whole division of the bike company, devoted solely to Lance's needs. This division had gone dormant after Lance's departure from Professional racing in 2006. Ditto for Nike. They announced several years ago that the company was getting out of cycling - now, they have jumped back in.

Even Lance himself, never one to leave any stone of physical and organizational prep unturned, has whipped himself into amazing shape in a very short period of time to take on the rigors of a Pro Road Race season. His long time coach, Chris Carmichael, claims that Lance is in the best shape that he has ever seen him in, this early in the year even at age 37. And the fitness numbers bore this out at the recently completed Tour Down Under in Australia. Lance acquitted himself very well - was always in the race. Never seemed to be struggling. Even was away in some key break-aways and played an animated role in those breaks. "Just testing the legs", said Lance. His legs looked very good.

Of course, this being Lance Armstrong there is bound to be controversy. One would think that a Seven Time winner of the worlds greatest bike race would be unanimously embraced and hailed as the world's best cyclist - but this is not the case with Lance. His dominance of the Grand Boucle has had somewhat of a polarizing impact on followers and fans of professional bike racing. True, a majority, think that he is the greatest, but there is a minority who think that Lance's obsession with the the Tour de France leaves him as a one-trick-pony in the ranks of the great cyclists of all time. Then there is the fact that an American kept winning, year, after year after year . . France's National Tour, at a time when U.S. and French relations were perhaps at an all-time low. Finally, there is the dark and sinister world of Performance Enhancing Drugs(PEDs). The naysayers argue, "How is it, that one cyclist could have such an absolute and complete domination in the World's most competitive bike race beating all other cyclists, many of whom, after the fact, have been found to be using PED's". It's a good question and Armstrong has been adamant that he has never taken anything. It's true that no one was tested more in competition and out, than when Armstrong was at his best. There are no positive tests, and while there is a whirl-wind of accusations, it's all based on, at best, very circumstantial evidence. This time around Lance is going the extra mile on this and employing a third party testing regime that will go even beyond that of the UCI, WADA and the individual races that he will contest.

There is also the melodrama of Lance's new team - Astana. He comes back to the Pro road ranks and into the team of his former team manager for all his past Tour de France wins, Johan Bruyneel. Lance, claims, "There is only one manager that I could ever ride for and that's Johan." Fair enough, but Lance is injecting himself into, perhaps the strongest stage-racing Pro Road team on the planet with huge Stars such as Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer - Contador won the Tour de France in 2007 and won the Tours of Italy and Spain last year. Leipheimer finished 3rd in the Tour de France in 2007 behind Contador and has legitimate claims and possible aspirations of winning The Tour de France himself. This all sounds good - a strong stage-racing team. Lance should fit right in. His experience could play a valuable role. However, Lance has hinted that he wants to take a run at the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France victories himself. This is a bit of a different dynamic than when Lance raced for the US Postal service and Discovery teams. Those teams were built completely, and absolutely around Armstrong. No one, on any of those teams had aspirations beyond 100% support of Lance and securing the Tour de France Yellow Jersey for him. The Astana situation is very different. Something that Lance has never really had to contend with since his early, pre-cancer days in the sport - open competition within the team and the team will then support the best rider. This is the other classic model of Pro Team, stage-race strategy. Sometimes it works, and other times it does not! Bernard Hinault had a change of heart mid-way through the Tour de France one year. At the outset, he said he was riding for Greg Lemond. However, at some point he started riding for himself, and took some of the team's riders with him. Now Lemond had enemies within his own team!! Last year at the Tour de France, the support-the-best-rider strategy worked for CSC and Carlos Sastre won the Tour de France.

The stage is set for an interesting year of Professional Bike Racing. Personally, I'll admit to being a long-time fan of Lance Armstrong. Like many others I had a Lance Moment years ago, when by sheer chance, I ended up seated beside him at a triathlon race reception and prize ceremony back in his triathlon days, of the late 80's. We shared a beer and chatted briefly. I am sure that he has absolutely no recollection of the encounter! However, triathletes around the world have duly taken notice that Lance has made some hints that after this cycling comeback is done, perhaps as soon as 2010, he may make a return to the sport that first gained him notoreity - triathlon. He picked a rather interesting private training camp location, just prior to going to the Tour Down Under - the Kona coast, home of the legendary Ironman Hawii - and Lance spent a fair amount of time riding along the Ironman Hawaii bike route on the Queen K Highway.

Whatever happens this year, his return to racing will be good for the sport. Already, there are way more people paying attention to the sport this year, then in the previous few years, indeed, since Lance first retired. With the recent drug scandals in the Pro Cycling, sponsors had been backing away and teams had been cutting budgets. With more eyeballs on the cycling events, be it on the course or on the TV, that will be good for the sport as that's what attracts sponsors. I know that I am not alone in saying that I have a renewed level of interest in watching the Tour of Italy, the Tour de France and the other races that Lance will be contesting this year.

Finally, to borrow from the title of his first book, Lance himself says that, this is not about the bike! This is about raising awareness for the scourge of Cancer around the world. He says, that is his ultimate goal here - get people to donate more and governments to put more money into cancer research. Addressing the the naysayers and the Livestrong cancer initiative all in one fell swoop, this is what Armstrong had to say in a recent interview in Outside Magazine:

"some of these people are so immature. I've got bad news for them: I'm coming. I'm coming [back] on behalf of eight million people who are going to die around the world this year, and I think that's a noble reason to get back on my bike. The people that bitch about it and say all these bad things, they view the Lance Armstrong Foundation as a sham, and pardon my French, but f*#@ them. I've got no time for that. My intentions are pure, and, as I said, it's not stopping."

Say what you want about the man. He's always been an outstanding and forth-right interview! Bottom line, he has probably done more for fund raising in the area of cancer research and awareness than anyone else. Lance has revolutionized the world of non-profit fund raising. And that's a good thing. Indeed, it would appear that it's not so much about the bike this time around!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cold/Sickness - 1, Fleck - 0

Finally, whatever, I have is loosening it's grip on me. Just in the last 48 hours - I have started to say, for the first time in over three weeks that I am feeling close to "Normal".

I would have to go back to the time I had pneumonia back about 8 years ago to say that I have had something that has lasted as long as this. This was nowhere near as bad as the pneumonia - that left me in bed for well over a week and off work for over three weeks. That was real bad. For this, I was functional, for all the day-to-day things that needed to get done, but I was feeling lousy and lethargic all the Time.

Having a good ride at the World Championship Hill/Mountain Climb on the big group ride at TriFest in is now officially off. I had grand plans for a big push to get ready for that, but now I am back at ground zero, in terms of fitness. Still a month to go, so never say never, but you can only do so much in a month. Two full months would have been better.

I did some more asking around and found out that I was not alone in suffering with this cold-but-not-a-cold thing for such a long time. A number of other folks mentioned to me that they had a similar bug and could not really put a finger on it or describe what it was. Personally, I would have preferred to have my garden variety head-cold which typically runs it's course in 7 - 8 days if I take care of myself. It's really bad for about 3 - 4 of those days, but it then goes away - it does not grind on at a low level for 3+ weeks!!

Anyway, enough of this. There are people who are suffering with far worse than what I have and the good news is that I feel pretty good today and tomorrow hopefully even better.

Onwards and upwards.

More news oriented and interesting content coming shortly.