Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Carlsbad to San Clemente in Flirtees!

Just got back from another glorious vacation in California. My fiancĂ© has the good sense to live there so I am down often, but this is the first time I've worked in a road ride.

Mainly this is due to my hatred of flying with bikes. So I was super glad to find Synaptic Cycle's Joe Bartoe who rented me a wonderful carbon steed for less than I would have paid to bring my bike on the plane one way.

The bike was a "Liscio" by American company Volagi, which is apparently the only one to include disc brakes as a standard feature on their road bikes. I was skeptical but won over in the end. I would almost say this bike was even better than having my own with me.

Here are the other big wins of my experience with Synaptic:
  • The bike was fitted against measurements from my road bike emailed in advance so it arrived ready to ride
  • It was delivered and picked up by the super affable Joe
  • It came with full Ultegra, and the saddle and pedals of my choice

Top marks for Synaptic Cycles, and I am sure I will be in touch again soon. 

So with my borrowed bicycle, Gerhard and I set out for his first "real" bike ride (i.e. I made him stop to buy bottle cages and H2O receptacles at the local REI before we set off). We went from his place near La Costa Ave all the way to Pedro's in San Clemente where we gobbled down ten tacos and a lot of pop before turning back for a glorious tailwind push home.

All told, we conquered about 115km together, and it was wonderful!! Highlights of the ride included:
  • Carlsbad Boulevard closed to cars for a triathalon course (which was nearly finished and didn't have any racers left on it) giving us a very large cycling lane for our personal use
  • The old highway 101 now closed to cars through Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, but is still open to bikes, making it the biggest rec path I have ever seen
  • Unusual road signs like "Tank Xing" as we rode through range after range *yikes* 
  • The sweet sweet taste of tacos to shut down a full-body bonk
  • A very welcome tailwind all the way home
  • The chance to show off my new Flirtees Kit (Thanks Casey!) [Find Flirtees on Twitter and Facebook]
  • The part where we were finally finished. ;) 
Now that I'm back in Toronto where it's hotter than Cairo, riding bikes seems less fun. In fact, anything but sitting motionless in my air-conditioned office seems less fun. Til the heat wave breaks, guess I'll continue California dreamin'.

Photos by Gerhard Gross 

Friday, June 29, 2012


Catharine Pendrel has made it through round after round and now it's down to two. Please vote for Catharine. No disrespect to Simon -- he's amazing too -- but let's have our world champion XC mountain bike racer get the nod!!!



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

REVIEW: Pearl Izumi Kit Goes From City to Singletrack

A few weeks ago, a special delivery arrived at my front door containing some items from Pearl Izumi. A discerning shopper, I have been carefully evaluating it all ever since. So if you're thinking about updating your cycling wardrobe, I can say with authority that Pearl Izumi is a great place to look. Here's why:

On the "Canyon" Shorts (pictured in "Silt")

Pearl Izumi calls these their "Go anywhere, do anything" shorts and it's true — they're flexible as all get out. On the outside, they look like a nicely fit short that casually goes from commute to trail ride. On the inside, there is a removable chamois-short that makes them oh-so-comfy (it's the same "3D" chamois technology as the Symphony shorts reviewed below, so read on!). But the best part? When it's time for the chamois to hit the laundry pile, I can easily just throw on my Symphony shorts or another chamois-short and keep the outside layer going. This is important stuff because I wear them almost every day, now that there are mountain bike trails between me and the office. I feel a lot better about showing up in this kit rather than full-on spandex. The one thing I would change? A little zipper or velcro on one of the pockets. Then again, the fabric is so soft and silky and hangs so nicely, I'd worry that bulking up the pockets would interfere with a really nice athletic fit. So jury's out on that. (Photo: amazing limited edition graphics on LTD MTB Jersey and adjustable waistband on the Canyon Shorts)

On the LTD MTB Jersey (pictured in "Peacock") 

Besides featuring limited edition graphics, this jersey has a lot going for it. First of all, full-zip. Yes. All jerseys should be full zip IMHO. Next it's got a great lightweight feel to it, and the waist is free-moving enough that it doesn't get bunched up around your middle. It looks great fully-zipped, which is a must during gnat season and hey, it even matches my backpack! (Photo, clockwise from top: Super comfy "3D" technology on the Canyon Shorts chamois liner; Me outside my office, going from singletrack to city ... and back again ... showing off my LTD MTB Jersey and Canyon Shorts; handy snaps to keep the liner and outer-shell of the Canyon shorts moving in sync.)

On the "Symphony" Shorts (in Black and Safety Orange)

The chamois and trim are bright orange, making them easy to spot in an overflowing cycling shorts drawer. Important, because if they're in the clean pile, they're the ones I'm reaching for. I've worn these shorts a lot in the month+ I've had them and the chamois is one of the best I've enjoyed, ever. It's as supple as they day I took them out of the box, and it wicks sweat away as promised so it's very comfortable to ride whether it's 30 minutes to work, or 3 hours out on the trails. The grips on the cuffs are great — I've had grips that actually cut into my leg (you know what i'm talking about) but these ones have nice round grippers (they remind me of the stoppers on cabinet doors to keep them from slamming) that I hardly notice at all while they keep my shorts firmly in place. Although not a functional feature in any way, I love that they're grey on the inside, while black on the outside ... attention to detail is always well-received, and a sign that Pearl Izumi is on it. Length is also good; not too short, not too long. There are a TON Of colourways available too which makes these fun to stock up on.

On the "Transfer Lite Racer-Back Baselayer" (in the picture above ... but you can't see it)

I also picked up a great racer back undershirt for these early season rides that has already come in handy more than once. Sometimes you need that "just enough" layer to keep you going and Pearl's is the most comfy I've tried. The neck even comes up high enough to keep those spring gnats out of your sports bra. And that's a huge plus. (gross. gnats.) And the tail is long enough you don't get mid-section bunching. Very sleek.

So ... if like me, you find yourself in a cycling wardrobe update year, I highly recommend the offerings from Pearl Izumi. You can get it at many fine Toronto retailers or enter your postal code to find a shop near you.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Cycling Blogs for 2012!

Unfortunately, Racer Diaries didn't make the cut for the 2012 Cycling Blog Top Dogs -- but I'm super stoked to see that the top mountain biking blog belongs to a woman! So three cheers for MTB and extra fist pumps for girls who ride.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!!

And this Friday is extra good ... May The 4th Be With You!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Race Track: Santigold - Disparate Youth

Put this in your playlist. Santigold's new album, Master of My Make Believe is out NOW! Another reason May is a merry month. Stoked.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May: A "Challenging" Month

I pulled off a personal best 5K at lunch today ... running ... and am now sitting here wondering where the heck that came from. It's my first run in my second week on Nike Women's Half Marathon program, which I started with no particular half marathon in mind, but for which I will be ready sometime in July. So that's challenge one: maintaining a regular running schedule because, turns out, I enjoy it.

So every day I'm up running around at the crack of dawn, and as luck would have it, the new neighbourhood features rec trails almost as close to home as the Humber trails were to the old apartment. Meanwhile, while running I can't help but notice all the bits of mountain bike trail I recognize, which means in theory, every time I ride my mtb home from work, I could add in a Don Loop + Taylor Creek and probably accomplish 50% of the ride off-road. Wow! More investigation required, possibly tonight.

Challenge two: push ups. I'm helping out with a girls' soccer team -- the Wildcats! -- and they are the stars of my Saturday mornings. At 12-13 years old, they are just a great group of young ladies and I'm glad to be "part of the team" for the next six weeks. To keep them in touch with their training between Saturdays, I've issued the "Push Up Challenge" and today, we're up to 19! We started at one, and we add one every day. On our last session, we'll reach our goal of 50. I like to lead by example, so I'm determined to share the glory with my young champions.

For the next seven weeks I'm also "Living My Moksha" through the local hot yoga studio and their healthy challenge. Every week we focus on one of the "seven pillars" -- this week is "Be Healthy", so the challenge is to practice yoga every day, and also to cut out processed foods from our diets and our cupboards. So far so good (she said, on day two.)

And my spin class has embraced the famous cycling workout, 30/30s, aiming to complete an entire class's worth of the agonizing intervals. That challenge is nearing its conclusion, with the big day coming on Monday, so wish them luck, or better yet, join us! It will be my first class teaching at RPM's brand new location! Double exciting!!

That leaves only one more challenge, but since it's still under consideration, I'll just go ahead and leave you hanging.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Goodie Box

*knock knock knock* Who's There? Goodies!! 

I was very excited to come home Thursday night to this innocent looking package outside my door. Hmmm, what could it be?

So of course I brought it in and immediately ripped it open to see what was inside: Bike clothes!!

And none too soon either because I was just the other morning having one of those embarrssing moments that happen in private when you realize there was a moment that happened in public in which you should have been embarrassed, but that has passed you by.

Yup, the seats in some of my "A-shorts" have become indecently threadbare. Thankfully, I can convincingly tell myself that no one has really noticed, since most of my riding has been done indoors lately, and I'm the instuctor, so no one is looking at my bum. Butt (ha!) I digress.

Speaking of free shows, hopefully my new neighbours weren't paying close attention because I was so excited by the contents of said box I decided to try on everything immediately. In my dining room.

The good news is it all fits, and it's all awesome, and it's coming to this blog in much more detail in the coming weeks as I properly try it out. So stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vancouver By Bike

Photo ProjectBlack Cod (Sablefish) at the SandBarSashimi at SandbarMyro's CrabChillinLog benches
Vancouver's "Flower Pot Island"Biking the Sea WallBiking the Sea WallBiking the Sea WallBiking the Sea WallBiking the Sea Wall
Myro's GirlfriendAdviceEnglish Bay Drinks at Go FishFish Marketour rides
Jimi Hendrix ShrinePush the buttonChinatown Experience ButtonturtlesDucks
Vancouver By Bike, a set on Flickr.

Still recovering from an awesome weekend that included a [really] quick trip out to Vancouver to see Gerhard and some friends on the west coast. We had such a good time -- maybe because we knew we didn't have a long time -- so I submit to you our adventures by bike in Vancouver in photo-essay form. The weather was supposed to be rainy, but ended up sunny, so when Myrosha offered up cruisers and himself as a tour-guide extraordinaire, we were helpless to resist.

The night before we had an amazing dinner up in Squamish. A couple of little tykes have been added to the group so they provided the night's entertainment while we all talked about how old we're getting. Oh Time, you devil, you.

Anyway, nothing fixes up my soul better than a drive through Sea to Sky country ... besides maybe a day on bikes so I was pretty pumped by the time I red-eyed home Sunday night. Hope you enjoy the photos, and if you're in Vancouver, make sure you do the same.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To Catch A Bike Thief: Episode 1 Now Online!

My old rowing-friend Ingo has gone all the way to Vancouver, where he's swapped boats for bikes (it happens to the best of us.) Another happenstance we have in common is bike theft. I admit, I don't know any of Ingo's [many] bike theft stories, but I do have one of my own.

It was a Raleigh Tarantula. Purple. Grip shifts. I used to ride it to the beach for a day of swimming and frisbee. I rode it to my summer-job picking berries at Hi-Berry Farm. I rode it to music camp, racing along the rail trail with friends pretending we'd be the next Olympic mouintain bikers.

One day shortly after beginning my second year at U of T, I'd just spent a boat-load of money on new gears, rings and the like so it would be all the more fit to carry me to and from rowing practice. I lived in a high rise at the time, and bringing the bike up was sort of a nuisance, so one night I left it locked to the rack downstairs at Yonge and Bloor. My roommate (and mutual rowing friend of Ingo and mine), Ross, said someone would steal that bike in two seconds flat. I didn't believe him but the next morning the joke was on me. Even as I approached the empty bike rack, I refused to believe my eyes. I thought maybe I'd brought it up afterall ... or this wasn't the right rack. But eventually, as all of us who have lost a bike know, that heavy, sick feeling settled into my gut telling me I'd never see that beauty again. And also now getting to rowing practice was going to cost $20 in cabs.

If you know that shitty feeling, check out Ingo's new web-series, "To Catch A Bike Thief" in which he and his merry men (and women) chase down those lowly criminal-types who prey on the two-wheeled joy machines to find the answers to burning questions like:

- Why did you steal my bike?
- What are you going to do with it now that you've stolen it?
- How could I have prevented this whole thing?

And if you like what you see, help these guys out on their mission by visiting their indiegogo site and dropping a donation in the hat: http://www.indiegogo.com/To-Catch-a-Bike-Thief. The very first episode has dropped and you can watch it there as well, free of charge.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Live Your Moksha" 7 Week Challenge

I just spent a few days in California and while I had a good time surfing, relaxing and spending time with G, even the palm trees and sunny weather couldn't penetrate my cloudy attitude.

That just won't do -- life's too short to get stuck in "broody Kristen" mode.

So perhaps as an answer to my new-found awareness, the universe plopped this in my lap. And I'm looking for some moral support. I'm calling it "Spring Cleaning" but for the soul. The yoga studio hosting the challenge is calling it "Living Your Moksha."

It's seven weeks long, and focused on "yoga off the mat" — one week for each of the seven pillars. In their intro they say, "Yoga is not just something you do, but something you are. It’s in the way we talk to people, wait in long line ups, how we eat, even how we argue." I'm hoping to add a bit of that yogi peace to my day-to-day — because goodness knows I am not talking, waiting, eating or arguing with any kind of grace or eloquence lately. And hey, they're even promising some magic.

We get our challenges delivered to our inboxes and then it's up to us to put our minds to completing them. Stuff like:

  • Be Healthy Challenge: No processed foods/toxins in the home

  • Live Green Challenge: 7 days of vegetarian/vegan eating

  • Be Peace Challenge: 1 hour of silence daily

I am really hoping I can convince one of you out there to join me in this — it starts May 1 and it's only $10 to sign up, plus whatever costs you need to cover for yoga classes (though that's not the focus of the challenge). Some Moksha studios are apparently even offering a discount. If you want to know more about the challenge, check out their website, or the facebook community.

Hope you'll think about joining me!

Namaste, Bitches.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Close Friend Turns Ten

It's 2012, and that means my old friend, Road Bike, is now a healthy ten years old. If I had my way, I'd never get a new one -- but that's not how aluminium works.

So I started mucking around on the Trek site and have now wasted a couple glorious hours in the Project One area specifically. I've been there before trying to see just how boss a price tag I could rack up on a bicycle (I think I broke $20,000 one day ... probably even easier to do now) but never with the intention of shopping.

Til now!

Here's what I came up with for a first draft -- Waaay more bike than I need for my purposes, but just enough to get me through another ten years. Suggestions welcome! Or if you'd like to customize one of these beauties for yourself, go to http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/collections/custom_project_one.

Drivetrain Gruppo: SRAM Force Compact PG-1070
Wheels: Race X Lite Clincher (tires: Bontrager R3, white)
Stem: Race X Lite
Headset: Cane Creek IS2 Carbon
Handlebar: Race X Lite Blade Isozone
... and most important: it's PURPLE (to match my mountainbike, of course).