When the going gets tough, the tough go bike shopping

When I originally got injured back in January, my doctor and physiotherapist thought I’d be back to training in six weeks.

Two months later, I am still trying not to limp, and to straighten my leg. Matt (the Physiotherapist) delivered the bad news a few weeks ago: “You’re going to have to re-evaluate your races this season. Maybe do some relays. Maybe a Gran Fondo, but not until Fall, depending on the MRI and surgical consult.”

So – yeah – it is probably a meniscus tear. I just have to accept it and work around it best I can.

Team Fitness Collective rocks the Comox Half Marathon 2014

Team Fitness Collective rocks the Comox Half Marathon 2014

I’ve been attending a lot of the Vancouver Island Race Series events, cheering on Riaz, his friends Anup, Pratibha, Sandeep, and Sunny, and my friends Delani, Mandy, Damien, Brenda, Torunn and Bart (and others).

I’ve been swimming three times a week and I’ve really improved my form in the last two months. And now, I’m back on my bike. In fact, it’s easier to bike than to walk anywhere. During the time I could neither walk nor bike, I drove my car more than I had in the previous six months put together. I felt like an enemy of the environment every time I got in my car (twice a day sometimes!) .

Happy on the trainer at last

Happy on the trainer at last

As soon as I got clearance to try biking, I had my trainer set up. After three successful trainer sessions, I got clearance to ride outside. That was a week and a half ago. You can guess what happened next.

Yep. Saddle sore! But I don’t care, I’ll toughen up! I ride every day. Nothing more than 36 km so far, but it’s all coming back to me. Slowly.

Taking the sting out of it all: I bought myself a Brodie Once (that’s ON-say, as in the number 11 in Spanish). My triathlon season is limited to relays, and I can’t go whole-hog on road biking yet, so now’s not the year to get a full-carbon roadie with aerobars.

Now I have no excuse not to commute by bike for any trip less than 15 km one way. I’m incorporating exercise into my daily errands and trips to the pool.

The Brodie is an amazing ride; I don’t WANT to take a car when I could bike. It’s an 11-speed (you can turn it all the way up to 11!), which doesn’t make it faster necessarily, just makes it easier to climb hills. One bike guy I talked to said the extra gearing (over the Oche, or 8 speed I was considering) will give 20% extra gearing on the low end, for spinning uphill.

It goes all the way up to 11

It goes all the way up to 11

Internal gearing means less maintenance, as the drive train is protected from the wet and mud. It also allows for shifting while standing still. On my first ride I learned to stop at a light, click down three clicks, then start out in the right gear. Automagical! I don’t know why more commuters on the Wet Coast don’t have internal hubs. Also: hydraulic disc brakes. They work much better in the rain.

Because changing a flat on an internal gear hub is a royal PITA, and I never want to change a flat anyway, especially when I’m commuting and I have somewhere to be by a certain time, I changed out the tires to Gatorskins: durable, almost puncture-proof tires.

To offset the cost of this sweet Brodie ride I’m forced to sell my beloved Audrey. Any takers?

Bonus gift if you come up with a great name for my new Brodie.

The cold, the dark, and the silence

Tights over booties. Rain hood pulled over helmet. Reflective vest on. Two headlights, two rear lights, one blinking. The trees on either side recede into the evening and the scant remaining light reflects off puddles, which I avoid. Two bunny rabbits dash under brush, trying to stay out of range of my lights.

The only sounds are the wind in my face and gentle microsplashes on my waterproof jacket. I shift gears on a slight incline and delight in the silence. Despite the rain and wind, my wool base layer keeps me warm enough.

I am riding my new Brodie Once, an internally-geared commuter bike, along the Lochside Trail to meet up with my triathlon team at the pool for our evening swim workout. I am late, but I don’t care. I am grooving on my new bike.

Once I get to Royal Oak drive and head down the homestretch of my journey, contending with the rain, the dark, the cold, the traffic, the hill, and my lack of fitness has tired me out. Only then do I realize I have a swim workout to do, then I have to get back into my wet gear and ride back home.

I can probably (most definitely) find a team mate with room for me and the Brodie in their vehicle for a warm, dry ride home. The only sacrifice will be a foreshortened swim, as everyone else has started the hour-long workout already.

A change of clothes would have been nice, then I could stay longer and get in a full swim session.

Oh well. I am on my bike, and that’s all that matters. I will swim, and ride, again tomorrow, and the next day.


(Yes, I did find a ride home with one of my amazing teammates.)



Doing the right thing

I’ve been doing a lot of swimming these days.

Last week I was in the market for new swim goggles and silicon earplugs. I had lost my goggles somewhere, and they were the best ones I had ever used, so I needed to replace that exact brand and model.

Triathlon Swim Start by GasMunkySaanich Commonwealth Place (where I do most of my swimming) has a good swim shop. I selected a set of earplugs, but was having trouble finding the right goggles. There I was, peering at their selection, then digging in my swim bag to find the case for the old ones, just to make sure I got the exact same model. (Yes, they are that good. They are seriously comfortable, leak-free, fog-free goggles: AquaSphere Kaiman. Try them out if you’re in the market for swim gear.)

I asked the staff person for help. She couldn’t find that model either, so she offered to go look in the back. No luck. So I said thanks and left the store, on my way to the other really good swim shop downtown: HTO. There I found the goggles I wanted.

In among all this searching I forgot all about earplugs, but when I got home I discovered a new set in my bag. OMIGOSH I had taken earplugs form SCP without paying! Guilt! Shame! However, rather than drive all the way back to SCP, I decided to pay the next time I was there and the shop was open.

So today after swim practice I went to the shop and explained what had happened, and handed over my $5.50 for the purloined plugs. Transaction done, the staff member disappeared into a back office and I paused in the hallway looking at my phone. Presently there was a tap on my shoulder; it was the staff member.

“Thanks for doing that. You didn’t have to. Here, have two free passes for the facility,” she said, pressing two passes into my hand.

Photo: “What a Swim” by GasMunky, used with permission via Creative Commons license.