Man's Greatest Invention

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. - Elizabeth West

Purpose and Mission

To share our experience and to encourage and inspire others to use a bicycle as a form of year round recreation and transportation. To be an example of living car-free and to help others to make the transition to having a car-light or car-free life style.

Our bodies is the engine that moves us.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again: Charity Ride Training Part 2

In part one, I spoke about being prepared for the embarkment of your charity ride.   Now I want to talk about the actual training component.  If you are actively training and preparing for your ride, it shows commitment on your behalf, not only for yourself, but also to those in support of you.  Your sponsors want to know you will succeed in raising funds.  They also want to know you will be able to complete the ride.  Sponsors will feel confident in you and may be inclined to give more as a result.

Now that the days are getting longer and warmer, there are more hours available for riding your bike.  A 220 km bike ride is like running a marathon.  The best way to succeed is to start NOW, one baby step at a time.  You could attempt riding it all at once, in two days, but it will be challenging, especially if you haven't trained at all.  And believe me, I met many people along the way who didn't prepare and train.

Whether it's a 20, 50 or 220 km ride, the key to training is moderation.  You want to be able to gradually work yourself up to be able to do 220 km in a weekend, not only physically but mentally as well.  It takes 2 days to ride the 220 km for the RCC ride.  We need to get you in the saddle now, so that when the day comes to do your charity ride, it's just another ride in the country for you. 

No matter what your current level of fitness is, we can assist you in preparing for your charity ride experience.  If your desire is to be physically prepared for your ride, the sooner you start, the better prepared you will be.  You can try to do it alone or you can work with someone who will support you in your goals and in accomplishing them.  Why do it alone?  Unfortunately, very few people have enough self-discipline to make sure they get out on their bikes everyday. What if you had someone coaching you along and keeping you to your commitments?  Wouldn't that be exciting?  What if, as a result, you started to really love cycling too?

We have teamed up with a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer who can provide you with a fitness assessment and develop a personalized program just for you.  This will ensure you get the most out of your ride and that you train in a safe manner.  We will ride along with you as you increasingly go on longer and longer rides.  You can look forward to the day of the ride because you are prepared and you will have some fun along the way!!

Enjoy the Calgary and Alberta countryside as you train and prepare for the big event.  You will be part of a group training towards the same goal.

Start today!  If you are ready to commit to the physical component of your charity ride and wish to get some exercise while enjoying the many health benefits, contact us and we will get you started today. 

We will systematically get you into the physical condition you need to be in order to comfortably and securely do your charity ride.  Our goal is for you to enjoy your experience.

Let's talk about the three packages available:  All packages include a bike fit session and a physical fitness assessment.  Please read this article on proper bike fit.

1.  "The Virgin Rider":  You have your first "real" bike and have somehow found yourself signed up for a charity ride.  Yikes!  What do I do now?

Maybe you are completely new to the world of cycling and you don't know where or how to start.  You need guidance on a training program; a definite road map for you to follow.  We will design a map and a gameplan and then ride along with you.  We provide you with a coach to guide and keep you motivated.  We will start where you are at and gradually assist and support you in increasing your abilities week to week.  For some riders, we will have to start right at the beginning: bike fit and set up, proper gear shifting technique for mechanical advantage, nutrition and diet, to name a few.  Remember:  you are the engine and you must be properly fueled.  We will custom design a training program based on your current level of fitness and experience.  We will start on the local bike path system.  Then gradually take you to the street and out on the open road.

2. "The Hobby Rider":  The somewhat experienced rider who goes out from time to time but really hasn't done any type of long distance riding before. 

You are a "recreational cyclist" that goes for casual rides in the evening or on weekends but have never done any formal type of training.  You ride around in areas you are "familiar" with and at much shorter distances than what it requires to ride daily on a charity ride.  You're concerned or may doubt if you can go on a long distance ride.  We will take you to the next level by leading you on longer and longer rides until you can comfortably go on rides of a 100kms a day or more.  We will show you how to fuel your body for long rides and how to get the most from your bike with proper bike fit and riding technique.

3.  "The Experienced Rider":  You cycle regularly but would enjoy cycling with someone or a small group of other experienced riders.  You are able to go fairly long distances.

You are a recreational rider that already has the ability to go the distance but would like to go out on training rides and get additional instruction so that you get the best from your machine (your bike) and your engine (your body).  We will do a bike fit session to ensure you are getting the most from your bike.  We will teach you how to fuel your body correctly to maximize your time spent training on your bike and riding long distances.  Come on rides with other experienced riders that are at your more advanced level.

Whether you are completely new to cycling, are intermediate or are a seasoned veteran cyclist, we will custom design a training package specific to your needs and abilities.  We will ride right along with you to ensure that when the day comes for you to embark on your charity ride, you will be fully prepared and looking forward to what could be a life changing experience.  After all, the reason for charity rides is to have a positive impact on peoples lives.

Contact us via email by clicking on "View my complete profile" at the top left of this page, write "charity ride training" in the subject line.  Look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mobile Bike Fit Studio and Laboratory

I received a phone call at the shop from a gentleman that wanted to buy his wife a road bike. He informed me that he needed a 54cm bike with a 70mm stem.  When I asked him why he needed those exact dimensions, he told me he paid for his wife to have a bike fit.  He paid $300 to have his wife fit to a bike with "imaginary measurements" that don't exist. 

Let's take a moment and imagine going to the website of your favourite bike manufacturer and looking at the geometry of any 54cm road bike.  You won't find one that comes with a 70mm stem. Most of them will come with a stem of 100mm long. 

Let's do some math for a moment.  A 54cm bike could typically have a top tube length of 550mm, plus 100mm for the stem, for a total of 650mm.  If we go back to the guy on the phone and we build the bike that he wanted, it would be 550mm top tube plus 70mm stem for a total of 620mm. 

If we go back to our manufacturer's catalogue and looked at 51-52cm bikes, we would find top tube lengths closer to 530mm and they mostly come with stems 90mm long for a total of 620mm.  The bike he was looking does not exist.  One that requires no modification and has the same final measurements actually does. 

Be careful when choosing a person to do your bike fit and make sure he or she has some credentials, training and integrity.  This gentleman could have saved himself $300 had he gone bicycle shopping first.  I can't imagine someone looking to purchase an automobile without trying it out first.  You need to sit in the driver's seat to make sure the car "fits" you and feels good.

It's the same when shopping for a production line bicycle.  It makes no sense to be paying for a bike fit when there isn't actually a bike at this point.  This guy was telling me what his wife needed without her actually trying the bike first.  This is really a case of putting the cart before the horse.  He prepaid $300 for a fit service for a bike that doesn't exist. 

People think they need to get custom fit first (or get told they are supposed to) and then go shopping for a production version of a bike expecting custom fitting.  Find the right size of bike first and then get  custom fit to it.  Finding the right size of bike is not a mystery. Actually, it's a really simple process.  There are general guidelines based on the rider's height which is a good place to start.  Bike sizing is beyond the scope of this article, but there are many sources on the Internet that can assist you.  Developing a relationship with your local bike shop would be my first recommendation.

Once the proper size of bicycle is selected, a bike fit should serve to fine tune the bike to your body.  "Make the bike fit your body, don't make your body fit the bike", is a quote I first heard from Dr Andy Pruitt.  It seems so logical yet is often ignored.  I am often confronted by riders that purchased an ill fitting bike because it was on sale and now expect a bike fitter to make the bike actually fit them.  A bike on sale is only a good deal if it fits you.

The relationship between your saddle/sit bones, your knees and your feet is one of science and can be measured.  The relationship between your saddle and handlebar location is one of art but also personal preference, flexibilty and core strength.  Proper road bike fit strikes a balance between arm extension, reach and core strength.     

There are as many opinions on what constitutes proper fit as there are bike fitters.  Some make more sense than others.  The formula we subscribe to is one practiced by Dr Andy Pruitt, Director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.  Dr Pruitt first became involved with bicycle fit by treating injured cyclists.  Some of Dr Pruitt's well known clients include: Lance Armstrong, Lance's personal coach Chris Carmichael and Axel Merckx, son of Eddy Merckx (both known in the cycling world).  It's safe to say that Dr Pruitt is one of the world's leading authorities on bicycle fit. I recommend to anyone that chooses to live a long and injury free life in cycling, that they read his book "Andy Pruitt's Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists".  The methods that Saddle Up utilizes for bike fit are based on Dr Pruitt's experience and expertise.

Now that you have a road bike in the proper size, a bike fit will assist you in getting the most from your machine and it's engine, namely you.  We feel that it is our responsibility as bike fitters to fit you in a manner that helps to ensure that you do not suffer from physical injury as a result of riding your bike.  A "century" ride (100 miles) at a cadence of 90 revolutions per minute, requires that each leg pedals through more than 32,000 revolutions.  If improperly fitted to your bike, you could cause injury and unnecessary wear or damage in a very short period of time.

The Bike Fit Lab that comes to you.  Seen here is our mobile studio with all of the necessary equipment to do a proper bike fit on your bicycle.

All of the needed gear:  stationary roller trainer and front fork support.

Tools of the trade.

Good leg extension to ensure maximum power output with less stress on the knees.

A plumb bob is used to line the knee with the front of the crank arm.

A slight bend in the elbow without overextending or rolling the shoulders forward to reach the handlebar.

The final result is a neutral riding position allowing the rider to spend long days in the saddle without pain or discomfort.

Saddle Up offers different fit packages based on your needs and objectives.  Our goal is to make your bike fit you.   

Contact us via email by clicking the "View My Complete Profile" at the top left of the page to discuss which bike fit package best suits your needs.  Please write 'bike fit' in the subject line.  Look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Calgary Charity Ride Training and Preparedness Part 1

A sea of riders ready to start their 220 km journey for the 2009 Calgary fundraising event:  "The Ride To Conquer Cancer".  The starting line is full of energy as the riders get fueled and charged up.  Excitement is in the air.  What lies ahead is unknown at this point.

Some fine machinery built for a fast ride in the Alberta countryside.

Below is a snapshot of myself (I'm second from the left) with a few friends on the 2009 RCC Ride. 

Our roles for this ride was the caboose.  Riding with the caboose means being the last riders on the journey.  The job is to make sure that no one gets left behind.  We are the motivators and inspiration for the people having a hard time or struggling with the ride.  Being at the start of the line can be exciting, but being at the back can have its own challenges, rewards and lessons.

Although we are a nice bunch of people, you may not like riding with the caboose.  We are there to assist and nudge you along in making it to the end.  For some people, this ride can prove to be extremely physically and mentally challenging, so lots of encouragement and coaching is needed.  There are some riders that simply have bigger hearts than physical fitness capabilities.  Many people don't realize how difficult the length of this ride can be and are simply not prepared for it like they need to be.  Unfortunately, they find out  how challenging the ride is while they are doing it. 

When it comes to training for charity rides, participants have the best intentions but circumstances can sometimes prevent them from being able to fully prepare for this event.  It's really important to take the time to be as prepared as you can for a ride such as this as it can help to create an easier experience.  Remember:  people don't run marathons in a day, they prepare weeks and months in advance.  Sometimes willpower can help you along in the meantime.  Below is an example of someone I met along the way who had a strong will.

We met a gal on this ride with a will like no other.  Her longest ride previous to the RCC was 14kms.  This ride was 110 kms a day for two days.  To say that she struggled would be an understatement.  A large majority of people that participate in charity rides do it because they know someone that has or is suffering from cancer or some other disease.  Charity riders don't need to suffer if they are better prepared.   Considering the bike she was riding, she accomplished an incredibly difficult goal.  She made it because she was determined and it was a great honour to be able to support her in reaching her goal of finishing. 

In this photo, we caught up to one of the participants that was having challenges part way into day one and day two, who is mentioned in the story below.  She is on the far right in the photo.

"When the defining moment comes, either you define the moment, or the moment defines you."  Tin Cup

I will never forget the moment I had with this woman (above) in my lifetime.  On day two, we met with her again 25kms into the ride.  We were at the side of the road and she started to apologize to me for slowing the caboose down because she was the last rider.  It was in that moment that I was able to put things into perspective for her.  It was one of the warmest days of the summer.  We were 125 kms from Calgary in some of Alberta's most beautiful countryside, riding our bikes.  I told her it took real courage on her part to do the ride and that most people wouldn't even attempt a ride such as this.  She had already accomplished much.  Her bike did not make it an easy ride for her.  Plus, she was not a cyclist and her lack of physical training for the ride was challenging in itself.  This is where it could prevent people from doing the ride again in the future.  Having a strong will is definitely an asset, but also being physically prepared will make the journey less painful and difficult.  Success does comes easier when a person is prepared. 

Like a lot of people that do charity rides, she was doing this because her life was directly affected by cancer, myself included.  I suppose we all have varying views on the politics of disease and their causes and effects, but at the end of the day, these charity rides are about the people affected by disease.  People that are giving it everything they've got to carry on because they are fighting for their lives.

This wall played a key role in another unforgettable moment from last year's ride.  It's quite amazing that I have a photo of this spot considering I was not there when the photo was taken.

I remember this wall from lunch break on the first day.   When I finally arrived here, there were only a few participants with their bikes left as most participants had eaten their lunch and were back on the road riding.  I sent the other caboose members ahead while I waited for the last participant to start on his ride. 

He was sitting on the grass chatting to one of the lunch crew.  After ten minutes, I started to grow impatient.  I approached him and asked if he was ready to start riding again.  It was in this moment that he totally amazed me.  He grabbed his bike, which lay right beside him, and used it to leverage his body up, inch by inch until he was standing upright.  It was in this moment I realized he had two prosthetic legs.  He used his bike to support himself while he walked over to the wall.  Then he put his bike along the wall so he could use it again as support while he mounted his bike.  I stood in awe of him and the strength and courage it took to do what he did.  I felt ridiculous for feeling impatient. 

When he turned out of the parking lot, he was immediately faced with the biggest hill to climb of the day.  For him to be able to maintain motion, he needed to ride at a very high cadence.  I waited at the bottom of the hill for him because I could not pedal slowly enough on my fixed gear bike and maintain enough momentum to remain staying upright.  I sat at the bottom of the hill waiting for him and watching as this man rode up while I literally wept.  I was in awe and filled with compassion of being in the presence of someone that had far more strength and courage that I could imagine.  It was a moment I would never forget.

These moments and many others, were for me, an unforgettable experience. We met many wonderful people along the way.  Each had their own reasons for doing the charity ride.  Each had their own stories.  But in each of those stories and reasons there was a common bond, wanting to be a part of making a difference and helping those we love.  This was an incredibly humbling and life changing experience and I look forward to doing this journey again with you.  

Photos courtesy of:  Ryan Meyers

Stayed tuned for Part 2:  Training for Charity Rides

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why We Ride Bikes

I saw this video over at Soma Blog .  It's from People For Bikes whose goal is to gather millions of names of support to speak with one powerful voice, to let policy makers, the media and the public know that cycling is of importance and can make a real difference in our society and should be promoted as such.  Sign the pledge here .  Share this video with your friends.  Double click the video to see it full size.