Ready Set Pedal

A charity bike ride has changed my life :)

Archive for the category “Training”

Be the BEST you can be! Always!

So I was speaking with someone recently and the topic of cycling came up… specifically how I  look for weekly group rides to  improve my technique, become a stronger & faster cyclist and meet fellow cyclists (of all levels)…. but that it is so challenging as I am a novice cyclist. I find it hard to keep up – so truth be told I need to psyche myself up in order to attend group rides with better riders.  

I was a little disappointed with this person’s opinion that I will never be as strong and fast as the guys (and girls!!) who lead these rides because I’ve started too late in life & I just don’t have the time necessary to dedicate myself to honing this skill.

Please bear in mind that I am in my late 20s!!

What kind of a reaction (be it verbal or non-verbal) would you walk away with after a comment like that? Anger? Defeat? Relief? Embarrassment? Of course, the person didn’t really mean this in a nasty way, it was just a (careless) comment, but still….

I don’t do well with being told that I cannot achieve something/ do something/ be something! Every time it happens, my instant reaction (in my head) is always – JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE!!

If you look around – there are COUNTLESS examples of people who have achieved the impossible, at any age.

One of my favourite all time athletes is the South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius.

Oscar Pistorius will become the FIRST amputee sprinter to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics after being selected for South Africa. The double amputee, nicknames ‘Blade Runner’ due to his prosthetic carbon fibre limbs will compete in both 400m and the 4x400m relay.

Who knows how many times he heard people telling him he’s never be able to run competitively… and later that he’d never in a million years qualify for the Olympics (rather than just the Paralympics).
But look at him now!
Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Miles Hilton-Barber when he gave a speech at a seminar I was attending.

Despite being blind for over 25 years, Miles lives passionately and goes after his dreams. He encourages attendees listening to his presentation that “the only limits in our lives are those we accept ourselves”. So powerful.

He’s truly led a remarkable life full of adventures. He’s even set numerous world records in the process. Some of his achievements include:

  • First blind person to do the solo kamikaze skeleton run down the 5G Olympic bob-sleigh track in Lillehammer, Norway.
  • Completing “The Toughest Foot-race on Earth” – 150 miles across the Sahara Desert.
  • Setting the Malaysian Grand Prix lap record for a blind driver in a 230kph Lotus.

The worst thing you can do in life is to give up on yourself, not believe in your capabilities, fail to take care of your mind, body and soul and lead a life full of regrets.  

So perhaps I will never compete in the Tour the France, or even win a bike race locally…. it won’t stop me from trying to keep up with those fast cyclists, or from tackling the craziest of inclines, or from signing up for BIGGER & BOLDER physical challenges than I have even done before.

If you’re reading this and aiming to accomplish the impossible – please share. 🙂 I’d love to hear about your goals, how you’re working on achieving them,and why you signed up for your latest adventure in the first place!  


5th Annual Cypress Challenge – Saturday 18, 2012

On a scale from 1 to 10… How crazy is it to do a 12km bike ride up a mountain and then fly to Asia on the same day I asked my colleague….

“Ummm…. I wouldn’t do that if I were you…. How long is your flight?? Do you really want to exert yourself that much, and have all that lactic acid built up in your legs when you are forced to sit down for so long?” she replid.

Oh rats… I didn’t think of that. So I guess the answer is 11. Bummer!! 😦

The 5th Annual Cypress Challenge will be held on Sat Aug 18th – and sadly I will have to give it a miss.

Participants will cycle 12km up Cypress Mountain to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Each year the challenge is dedictae to someone who pass passed, or is undergoing treatment for this type of Cancer. This year’s challenge is in memory of Bob Hager.

Who is Bob Hager??

Bob Hager was a prominent Vancouverite who was a driving force in building one of Canada’s most successful asset managers, Philips, Hager & North (PH&N). He was also a generous community contributor, enriching and improving the lives of the many people less fortunate than himself. He was quietly driven, humble and had a never ending dedication to his family, clients and community. Bob died of Pancreatic Cancer in October 2011.

Some info about this Event:

The event was created by Geoffrey and Myriam Glotman in 2008 after they lost Myriam’s mother Betty Ergas to pancreatic cancer. In 2010 the event hosted by Paul Carson, who was being treated for the disease at the time, raised $50,000 for pancreatic cancer research. Paul passed away from the disease in January 2011. In 2011 the event, dedicated to the memory of Jack Poole, raised over $125,000 for pancreatic cancer research.

Some REALLY scary facts about Pancreatic Cancer:

  • Nearly 600 British Columbians will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012
  • 75% of patients do not survive a full year post-diagnosis
  • Only 5% survive after five years
  • Across Canada, pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer deaths.

Would have SERIOUSLY loved to do this ride but I guess I will have to wait for next year…. Passed it on to my cycling friends in the meantime.

Check out this cool video from last year’s ride: Cypress Challenge 2011

My first Group Ride with Comor Sports Bike Store

Since I am not a solo-cycling fan, ‘Group Rides’ provided by various bike outlets (cafes, groups, associations and stores) are fast becoming a saving grace for me. I cycle,  meet new friends, enjoy the great B.C. outdoors, pick up new cycling technique tips and clear my head after a long day at work…. so much multi-tasking going on and most importantly TIME FLIES because I always have fun.

Last week I went on my first EVER group ride with the  Musette Caffe cyclists. The people I met on that ride really motivated & encouraged me to continue to attend their rides and NOT feel intimidated. It can be quite scary joining a new group ride – (what if they’re too fast? what if I can’t keep up? what if they tackle crazy-steep hills?) but that is how you grow in life! By taking chances, doing stuff that scares you and just going for it!

Yesterday (June 26) I eagerly watched the grey skies and the Comor Sports Facebook Page  throughout the day. Watching for signs of torrential downpours and ride cancellations notices – but the weather decided to give us all a break & the ride was given the green light.

The meet-up location for this group ride is at the Comor Sports  parking lot on Burrard & 4th Avenue.

I have to say – one of the nice things about riding with a bike shop group ride is that if you need to quickly fix anything, buy anything, check anything – you’re covered. Comor Sports is super kitted out with anything you might need – helmets, lights, leg warmers, locks, etc. In my case the helpful staff quickly reattached my monitor to my bike (faulty zap strap) & pumped up my tires! Thanks guys!

One thing I should mention is that Comor were the ones to organize the brilliant VanFondo. Wicked Event!!

I think we were around 10/12 cyclists for this particular ride – in the above image we’re just waiting & getting to know one another in the parking lot. I cycled with Blair and John from Comor Sports – who are so nice and gave me a lot of helpful advice on how to become a better cyclist.

In the above image Blair (L) is giving the group a run through of what we were to work on as we did loops around Stanley Park. During yesterday’s ride, we cycled in pairs and worked on drafting, and taking turns to lead the pack. You can save a lot of energy by drafting – but you need to cycle really close to other cyclists and it really takes some getting used to.

The above image is of Blair (L) and John (R) at the top of Prospect Point – the very tip of Stanley Park that one reaches after a good hill climb. It’s a killer hill for me  – I attempt it on the easiest gear possible. But I see progress already – I don’t need to stop half way through for water anymore. “You destroyed that hill!!” Blair hollered at me as soon as I reached the top! Woo hoo! Hill-climbing satisfaction. 🙂

If you want to join the Comor Sports Group Rides – they meet up every Tuesday at 6:30pm(provided it ain’t pouring!!)… Oh and they also head to a local pub after a ride – so there is the option for some socializing over a cold beer afterwards.


My first Group Ride with Musette Caffe

Part of the reason why I would hate to leave my apartment, beyond the fact that I have an amazing sea view, is because I love having Vancouver ‘s only cycling-themed coffee shop nearby. I’m of course referring to Musette Caffe – located in the alley b/w Burrard & Hornby off of Drake Street.

This cafe opened just a few months ago and I LOVE it! They have great coffee and treats, the place is totally decked out in cycling paraphernalia and they offer me a. great advice about cycling, b. a location to meet & hang out with other cyclists, c. an opportunity to ride on a weekly basis as part of a group.

The last time I swung by for some cycling advice, Thomas (the owner) encouraged me to try out their Group Ride sessions… so today after work I decided to give it a go. 🙂

Since the Ride to Conquer Cancer last weekend, I’ve been eager to get back on my bike, and I am hoping to do A LOT of cycling as the weather warms up. This evening was a fantastic time for a ride – slightly cloudy and balmy. I hardly ever feel warmth in the evening air in Vancouver – it’s one of those sensations I really miss about Malta!!


I was the only girl during this ride, so I was a wee bit nervous that I would be the laggard at the back, holding everyone else back. Well I was… haha But I didn’t feel pressure to keep up , they waited for me at numerous points and they never left me alone. Thomas also gave me a drafting lesson. I’m not too confident with drafting – i.e. when you are riding super close to the rider in front of you to save energy, but I’d like to master it. Practise makes perfect I guess.

We’re so lucky to live and work so close to Stanley Park – the location where we did several laps (Boys did 4 + and I did 3). It’s one of the most beautiful parks in Vancouver and I saw multiple raccoons. A family with 3 baby raccoons and feisty racoon who walked right up to me and stretched out his hands for food. So cute!!! I wish I had a granola bar or something to give him!




Taking Chances – Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012 is complete!

I love this image. The line is attributed to Wayne Gretzky  – the famous CAD hockey player who every kid admired in the 80s/ early 90s.

I survived the Ride to Conquer Cancer this past weekend and I am feeling this slight ‘void’ feeling post-event. You know when you achieve a MASSIVE goal and suddenly you are feeling suspended/ in limbo and think NOW WHAT??

The first time I heard about this ride was in 2008 and I remember thinking how badly I wanted to take part in this event – but I couldn’t. I didn’t think I would be able to raise the $2500, since I had just moved to Vancouver and knew no one. I also didn’t think I’d be able to train my body to be fit enough to ride that long of a distance.

Later on I came across people who were doing it – and I always thought of them as these super-cool, super-human, super-achievers…. I WISHED I could be like them and do it too. But it was too scary. I wasn’t ready.

When I FINALLY decided (and shook hands on it) to do the ride with my friend Jason in Fall 2011, I was at the same time seriously doubting whether this was even possible. It was a little terrifying and there were moments throughout the months of training and fundraising when I thought I wouldn’t/ couldn’t/ shouldn’t make it.

But I did. I was part of the amazing group of 3,011 riders who cycled to Seattle in the name of Cancer Research.

I am so happy & proud of myself for doing the RTCC 2012 this year – IT WAS SO WORTH IT!!

After all that adrenaline, endorphins, nerves, relief, pain, exhilaration, fatigue, amazement, etc…. I feel as though I am going through an emotional withdrawal right now! I need to find a new challenge!! hehe

So my take-away thought for anyone reading this is: NEVER DOUBT WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF!

Rain Gear for the Ride – Check!

Yesterday I popped into MEC after work  to do some rain-gear shopping ahead of my EPIC Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012 event.

As mentioned in an earlier post – I have been keeping a close eye on the weather and I am sad to say dreadful June-uary has struck again. It will be raining on both days! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

But seriously…. it always rains a lot in June. It’s to be expected. I’d HIGHLY reccomend the RTCC organizers to consider moving the BC ride to July in upcoming years.  

So this is what I bought!

Castelli Leggera Jacket $69

From all the water resistant (NOT 100% proof!) jackets I tried on – this one was the clear winner. The material felt the best. It has a little pouch to stuff the jacket into – so  it folds down into nothing.

I like the super shiny interior that leads me to believe it is the most resistant to penetrating water from the jackets I tried. I also like the Italian- tailoring. Molto bello!  

What I wasn’t super keen on was that it is BLACK – and kinda reminded me of a garbage bag. Having said that – when I was trying it on my pink tutu later that evening, I have to say they looked pretty good together!! The black & pink colour combo always works well on me…. am a girly rocker-chick at heart.

MEC Cycling Shoe Covers $22

These are some decidedly unsexy shoe covers but they are CHEAP and that makes me happy because I doubt I will use them very often. In the future, if it is raining hard enough for me to need them I likely will do a rain check on outdoor cycling for the day!

Since the flap that comes down under the toe is partially hiding my cleat I will need to snip a U shaped hole in them so that I can clip in and out of my pedals with ease. All in all though – I am happy to have found these AND in my size. There were hordes of ppl looking at shoe covers at MEC when I was there – buying them for the RTCC 2012 no doubt!!

MEC Mont Royal Pants $65

So originally I wasn’t thinking of getting pants as well….

BUT when I peeled off my Castelli Cycling Pants on Monday evening after a good soaking from Dragon Boating practise,  I realised how water absorbent those pants really are, and decided some waterproof bottoms are a non-negotiable for me!

These pants are AWESOME. I put them on and decided I wanted them within 2 seconds. Great buy!

2 x MEC Mountain Logo Scotchlite Leg Bands $3.75 each

I bought two of these to firmly hold down my water resistant pants so that they do not snag on the chain (as has happened in the past with another pair of pants I own). I like their funky late 80s/ early 90s lightening bolt design.

SWAG Water Bottle $3

Sadly I destroyed my VanFondo bottle in the dishwasher…. so I bought a cheap and cheerful bright blue one to go with my super-blue bike. Perfect match!

So that is my shopping haul from MEC ahead of the big weekend. If you are doing the ride and do not have any rain-gear… YOU”RE A FOOL!!!

Ride to Conquer Cancer Training – Vancouver to White Rock

On Saturday June 2, 2012 my friends and I went for a cycling trip down to White Rock – a city literally a stone’s throw from the US border.

We prayed AND prayed for a clear day all week – and our prayers were answered! Although the skies were heavy with rain when we started – the clouds held out for as long as they could as we escaped Vancouver and Richmond to reach our sunny destination. 🙂

Some facts:

Local pilots refer to White Rocks as ‘the hole in the sky’ – since the city is often bright and sunny while the rest of the Lower Mainland is covered by a thick blanket of grey clouds.

The city is named for a distinctive large white boulder on its beach near the promenade, a glacial erratic that migrated south during the last glaciation. 19th-century sailors used it as a beacon.

One Native Indian legend claims that the gigantic rock marks the landing spot of a stone that was thrown across Georgia Straight  (i.e. the area with the killer whale fin)  by a young Indian chief in order to determine where his bride & he would move from Vancouver Island. Isn’t that cute? I like it!

Below is a play-by-play outline of the route we took…

By the time we reached Delta (which is beautiful BTW)… we felt like this trip was NEVER ENDING!! haha Man is White Rock ever far!

I’d love to explore more of the Southern Lower Mainland… one of my favourite parts of this trip was the Mud Bay area between Delta and White Rock.

That’s Jason panting… he was so tired from keeping us with us girls!!! ;p

There is nothing better than an ice-cold beer after a lonnnnng bike ride!!

And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… here’s the video I did about this ride. I was inspired by the vintage 1974 bike ride I had seen earlier that week – so I decided to give this video a vintage-feel. Hope you like it!

Painful Right Hip Flexor

I went on a long ride out to White Rock yesterday and I did a number on my right hip flexor.

That hip joint likes to pop when I do yoga so I know it’s a bit of a tender/ problematic area… but I can’t really pinpoint what I did wrong yesterday to cause all that pain.

Some causes are – overworking, not stretching, jumping into strenuous activity too quickly without proper warm up, aggressive kicking motion, hill training, stopping and starting physical activity abruptly, etc, etc.

The pain was enough for me to go to Shopper’s Drugmart at 12:45am to buy this KT Tape that I had read helps with sports injuries. I also iced it, and applied ICY HOT on it.

The instructional video I found:

I was so happy to find a blog post on their site – dated 2 weeks ago – that said the tape is available in Shopper’s Canada-wide.

Since the Shopper’s next to my place is open 24/7 I hobbled over there pronto!

It’s been less than 24 hours since I applied the tape and I can feel the pain going away slowly, slowly.

I’m bringing my KT tape roll with me on the Ride to Conquer Cancer for sure!




VanFondo 2012 & Iona Beach (Richmond) – 90km Training Ride

On Saturday, May 12th, 2012 Comor held the 1st Annual VanFondo. The leisure-style bike ride was a HUGE success with over 1200 cyclists participating in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. The registration fee of $10 went towards this charity (2 thumbs up!)….. so that’s a donation of  $12,000 towards Canuck Place!

According to this Georgia Straight article  “It may have been the largest gathering of cyclists in Vancouver history”. The fact that the weather was just OUTSTANDING surely helped too! 🙂

When I signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2012 – my first ever bike ride for charity –  I knew I would be training a lot, but I didn’t anticipate that I’d get to experience another, smaller charity bike ride to serve as a teaser! 🙂

It was a great way to get a feel for what riding in a large group is like. I was so nervous as I was leaving the house – it was my first-ever “on the road” clipless cycling experience. So naturally, I crashed on my left side literally 5 secs after leaving my house. Terrible chain scratches along my ride leg… but I was kinda glad I didn’t wipe out during the actual ride before oncoming traffic!

My guard was definitely up to ensure I rode safely and unclipped well before the red lights!

The route was fantastic and there were a lot of volunteers (and policemen on motorcycles) to ensure we had safe passage through the many intersections.

Some of those hills in Kits really killed me though!

Comor,  a well-known Winter Sports store based in Kits,  recently ventured into the cycling/ bikes business (it seems to be booming in Vancouver) and they launched this new event to raise awareness among the cycling community, rather than spend money on advertising, sales promotions etc. Pretty smart!

When I stepped into the store on the Friday before the event to pick up my event registration pack and I was taken aback by how different the store looked without the racks and racks of ski gear!

The VanFondo 2012 route was circa 45km long – Since Kath and I factored in the extra cycling we did in Vancouver to go to the venue and to go to Kath’s house afterwards before we continued to Richmond – and had a 50km distance stamp on our monitors.

Riding out to Iona beach was lovely – it’s totally level so you can really pick up some speed, and by the time you reach the beach it is just so peaceful and relaxing. For those who don’t know – the long jetty that extends into the water is actually a sewage pipeline… so I’m guessing no one actually swims there, because that thought is kind of gross.

I ended up getting a major sunburn that day – mostly because I was having so much fun and with the breeze whipping on my exposed skin I didn’t realize I was burning up!

The 2013 VanFondo will be held on Saturday, May 11th, 2013. Unless I am out of town – I will definitely be signing up again for this event!!

So here’s my video of the day (check it out for more photos!): 

And here are some more vids – by other people….

An AWESOME video with cool info-graphics (I have to find out how to make those!!): 

A time lapse video of the VanFondo 2012 Route: 

An interview with Comor’s Paul Player: 

Bike to Work Week Video Contest

TravelSmart and Hub (previously VACC) are organizing a 2012 Bike to Work Week Video Contest.

Participants are asked to share a cycling tip for a chance to win a  $500 MEC gift card!

YES PLEASE!!!! I need to buy a bunch of stuff – tires, rain gear, etc before the ride and I would love a gift card!

So here’s my video entry…. talking about snacks!! haha

It’s a random draw, so no brownie points for originality…. but I figured it would be different to all the other entries… or at least I hope it will!

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