Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh, and by the way ...

Countdown to Le Tour!

Just under five more days to go until my annual interest in road cycling is sparked. Running from Saturday July 3rd to Sunday July 25th 2010, the 97th Tour de France will be made up of 1 prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,642 kilometres.

Stage Profiles:
  • 1 prologue
  • 9 flat stages
  • 6 mountain stages and 3 summit finishes
  • 4 medium mountain stages
  • 1 individual time-trial stage (52 km)

By the way, the Prologue is in the Netherlands! Format? Individual Time Trial.

Rotterdam is an awesome Dutch city, although when you go there, you feel like you've been beamed out of Europe. Since it suffered so much damage during the war, it had to be rebuilt and hence feels much more modern than the cobblestones and steeple-centric layouts of its neighbouring cities.

The Dutch have hosted Le Grand Depart more times than any of France's other neighbouring countries. If you want to know why, read these few lines, written in L’Équipe in 1954, when the Grande Boucle decided to start outside French borders for the very first time: “All of the Netherlands seemed to have gathered on the roads of Wassenaar, Delft, Rotterdam… Tens of thousands of spectators in closed ranks, uninterrupted, for kilometres and kilometres, clapping, cheering for everything that had to do with the Tour, the cyclists, the motorcyclists, the cars that followed or that led… [In this way] they made a triumph of the first stage!”

Yep, that sounds like the Netherlands to me.

When the Tour gets rolling, I'll be at home in Port Elgin, so I will hopefully get to see the opening stages on a real TV instead of following the live updates from a computer screen. The one month of the year I wish I had cable!

Vive le tour!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Do you know what to do?

If you're a cyclist in Toronto (or anywhere you share the roads with automobiles), odds are that you'll be involved in some sort of car/bike conflict -- whether it's a near miss, or heaven forbid, you have to use the hood of the offending vehicle to break your fall (or worse).

But if it happens to you ... or in front of you ... do you know what to do? Here's some helpful tips.

1.) Assess. Are you hurt? Is your bicycle? Are you standing in the road? If you're able, move to the curb/shoulder and recruit someone nearby to help you (even if you think you don't need it).

2.) Information. As soon as possible, take down as much information as you can. If you have your cell phone, leave yourself a voicemail. If it's a blackberry, email it to yourself.
  • Location, date and exact time

  • Vehicle license plate, make, model, and colour

  • Driver's name, address, dated of birth and licnese number directly from the driver's licence. (Don't take a business card as a substitute!)
Then, take down as much of what happened as possible: weather, road conditions, direction of travel, visibility, lighting, speeds, what you're wearing, what your bike looks like, a description of the driver.

3.) Witnesses. Look for drivers, passengers, passersby. Get names and numbers and ask them to wait for the police.

4.) If police attend, get a copy of the accident report or case number. Take down the name and badge number of the officer and if appropriate, politely ask the officer to issue a ticket to the driver.

If you don't know whether or not you should call the police, call the police and ask them.

Since there are still a number of officers hanging around Queen's Park post-G20, I quizzed them on my way home. They said if you're injured at all, even if you just skin your elbow, call the cops.

**Okay. At this point, you should probably just start reading this post again. The rest of this you can look up again if you need it but the first four points, as simple as they may seem to you from the safety of your computertron, are extremely difficult to remember at the scene. So internalize, internalize, internalize and then when you need it, it will be automatic.**

When you get home ...

5.) See a doctor immediately, even for minor injuries. Some injuries take a while to surface, especially because you'll be all adrenalinized for a few hours -- possibly all day -- afterwards.

6.) If you haven't had contact with police yet, you have 24 hours in which to do so. Have all the information you collected available and file a report.

7.) If there are damages, call your insurance company and have all the information ready for them as well.

8.) Document and save the evidence. Photograph your mangled bike, and your injuries. Save receipts for anything you have to replace. Hold on to the helmet or accessories that were involved in the accident. Keep a detailed diary about injuries, pain, time taken off work and all other costs related to the collision.

9.) Lawyer. Consider one if you need legal backing to get compensation. In traffic accidents, the insurance companies battle it out. But when a bike is involved, you might have to sue.

Hope this helps, and that you never need these tips!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Johan Bruyneel is offering cool wallpapers for those of us who wish we were riding but have to sit at a computer instead. Here's his original tweet:

For those who want to ride, but instead need to work on the computer. Here is something to put on your background: http://bit.ly/a0DCDI

This one is my fav, since I get to said computer by bike, on crazy Toronto streets ...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer

It rained. For once, the weather man got it right much to our chagrin. Even more annoying, apparently our route was the only wet one, as the 200K riders stayed dry all day. Anyway, I don't want to get all Eyeore on it, but the rain made a challenging weekend that much more difficult. I was going to write a long winded report, but in hopes that you might actually read on, I've decided to go with point form:


- Mom came too, and we four (mom, dad, G and me) went to a Happiest on my Bike teammate's house for eats and greets -- amazing spread, thank you Larry!

- Late packing, got me to bed past midnight. Stayed up long enough to experience the torrential downpour that made it difficult to sleep well, envisioning a wet ride in the morning

Day 1:

- All that was left of the rain (sounded like pebbles pelted at our windows!) was the humidity; G drove me to the CNE with 4000 other cyclists. I ended up walking in so we didn't have to sit in the traffic

- Opening Ceremonies wrapped up and we slowly moved out of the CNE. Ten minutes in spot the first crash victim; ambulance was cleaning up ... sucky way to start and end the weekend. Good reminder to keep wits about us!

- Not very long before 200M riders split from 200K riders. Varying levels of experience with group riding in our posse of 6 Team Happiest riders, but managed to stay mostly together

- Rain started just before halfway, with full downpour at the 100K mark. Oh yeah, if we'd signed up for the other route, we'd be drinking beers now!!

- Near the end, dad's knee began to give him some grief ... hrmmm

- Finished the ride up the big escarpment climb, and rolled into camp where the party was in full swing

- Ryan Leech peformed, two free drinks for everyone, good eats of turkey sausage and salads with veggies

- Stats: 4,108 riders, $16.1 million dollars raised, 35.5 million calories burned, 45,000L of sweat, enough kilometres to circle the world 23 times, 1,000 volunteers. Oldest rider? 82

Day 2:

- Weatherman promised better weather, but he was wrong and we began in the rain again

- Dad's knee bothered him from the start and so the ride had a strange tension for us ... knew he could complete it, but should he? Each rest stop we talked about packing it in, and each one, he decided to go "one more". He showed the kind of determination Cancer demands and I'm so happy we finished together to show Cancer what's what. Way to go DAD!!!

- Mom, G and the Gledhills met us in Port Colborne at the cheering station!! Woo hoo!! It was so awesome to see them there, let me tell you.

- More drama: apparently a rider before us fell on the bridge over the canal in Port Colborne (one of those metal grid type surfaces) and lost her finger!!! We walked across that one.

- After the cheering section, we didn't see anymore rain, so we finished in relative peace

- Final 18km section was all along the Niagara River, on smooth flat road. Ahhhhhh.

- We made it!! Beers and burgers were our reward, but then we upped the ante back in Toronto at "My Place" (Jane and Bloor, great pub) where I had a steak dinner, and dad opted for pulled pork. Only, for some reason we were the ones who had trouble finishing while G and mom demolished their trout dinner and portabello burger.


- 340km, ~13hours ride time, 10,000 calories burned

- Took yesterday off training. It was glorious. Made G a nice dinner to thank him for being such a good fan this weekend, driving all over southern Ontario, taking photos, getting up early on a Saturday and everything. Thank you Gerhard!

- Thank you mom for coming, cheering, taking photos, and all your help leading up to the ride!

- Thank you Aunt Mindy for coming out and cheering!! (... and with a sign too!!)

- Thank you Donors for making it all possible and standing up to Cancer with us

- Thank you Dad, for starting, for finishing, and for an awesome weekend (minus the farts in the tent. not cool.)

- Legs held up great, happy about that. A little knee pain (sports med on Thursday) and of course my "rib-out" is totally enraged at the moment (chiro on Monday)

- Dad's got his knee in a brace and he's icing and elevating (or else he'd better be!)

- Already signed up for 2011. Who's coming with us?

In case you didn't follow the "live updates", here they are:

Terrible night's sleep ... but woke up to birds, not raindrops. fingers crossed.

good news! T-storms out of the forecast!! On with the show ...

Having breakfast. smoothie. cereal. rain.

Dropped off my bag, now just need to find my team. Thanks G for battling the event traffic! (@ Opening Ceremonies w/ 24 others)

Looking for team "Happiest on my Bike"! (@ Opening Ceremonies w/ 27 others) http://4sq.com/boRcoC

Found the team! Found dad, found mom, and hear aunt mindy's going to be cheering at a zone in mississauga. Woo hoo! (@ Opening Ceremonies)

We're ready! @ the opening ceremonies! http://tweetphoto.com/26835790

Here we are!! The "before" shot. Gonna have a great ride! http://tweetphoto.com/26835964

Finally on our way. Back of the pack, tailwind! (@ Opening Ceremonies w/ 41 others) http://4sq.com/boRcoC

De-layering! Split from the 200k riders now

Is it really that hard to pee in a hole!? C'mon! (@ Pit stop #1!)

Parking lot is our 2nd pit stop! 70km down. Six in our pack, working on road skills. A little mist ... But will it rain?

Lunch!! My shoes are wet (my everything's wet), it's pouring rain and we *could* be done if we'd just opted for the 200K. Doh.

Space man, oh space man, come rescue me! Brrrrrr http://tweetphoto.com/26890249

Approaching the hammer!! Almost done day 1. Still raining ... http://tweetphoto.com/26905433

Just heard some thunder .... Stay back!! Stay back, thunderstorm!

Hardly any riding between us and a wet tent. Awesome (@ Ride to conquer cancer last pit stop)

Done! Day one in the bag. Time for beers!! (@ Camp w/ 37 others) http://4sq.com/9xoyZ5

Set up camp, had a shower, and now, time to eat. And long-awaited beers, of course.

4108 riders, 16.1 million dollars, 35.5 million calories, enough kilometres to circle the world 23 times. Oldest rider? 82.

We sweat 45,000 litres of sweat, collectively.

1,000 volunteers put on this event! THANK YOU volunteers!! 400 of those also added their fundraising to the cause!

By the way, the 82 year old gentleman lost his sight in both eyes in 1990. He's run the Toronto half marathon, and now the RTCC ... Twice.

Breakfast of champions! A lot of sore people around, but we're stoked. http://tweetphoto.com/27019715

I thought I was deaf in one ear. Then I remembered to take out my ear plug.

I just got asked if I am an Olympian. Now that's some morning sunshine! *flattered*

We're off! In the rain ... Please clear off, brrrr

38.75km first break. One crash on wet pavement by barb. She's ok. Joined a triathlon and felt like the race horse scene in mary poppins.

Pit stop #2. Dad's knees are hurting him ... I have faith. C'mon dad! (@ Grand island bar- b- q) http://4sq.com/aahKYi

74.76km down!

Lunch! About 95km down. And finally, the rain seems to be on its way out. Dry roads at last. (@ Wainfleet Beach) http://4sq.com/ddb5ZM

Last pit stop! 40 more km. Saw mom, g and the gledhills cheering! Wooooo!!!

We did it!! We didn't know if we could, but gramma helped us. Celebrating now! Thanks for tuning in. Full blog soon xoxo

Post-ride steak dinner. Check. (@ My Place - a Canadian Pub) http://4sq.com/aKeaN

Friday, June 11, 2010

Um ... no comment.

One more sleep!

At last, the long-awaited weekend is here. Between the training, the spaghetti dinner, and bothering everybody I knew for donations the past seven months, somehow it's all come together and it's going off tomorrow!!

I want to thank my donors and supporters once more for all their help -- thanks to you, I've raised nearly $4000, and dad's gone past $5000! It's great to think what kind of difference that will make for people fighting cancer, and researchers working for a cure.

Now all that's left to do is the ride! 200 miles is serious business; lightening is also serious business, and both are on our agenda for this weekend. Don't worry, we'll be riding with a "safety-first" mentality, but rain or shine, hell or high water, we're going to make it to Niagara Falls (by bike ;) ).

If you would like to watch our progress, I'll be sending live updates via Twitter (assuming my phone doesn't get too wet). My twitter feed can be found at www.twitter.com/kristenmlake and the feed is also available on the side-bar to the right of this post.

Finally, I also want to thank team "Happiest On My Bike" for having Dad and I join as late additions. We're looking forward to a little get together tonight, and sharing the pulls tomorrow. Already stoked for the beer tent.

Wish Dad, me and our team good luck, and good weather! We're off!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bear charges woman north of Orillia

Hey, watch out all you northern and near-northern riders!! Carry bear spray! Your bears seem to be hungry ...

ORILLIA, ONT.—A woman riding her bike near the woods northwest of Orillia, Ont., is the latest person in that part of the province to be chased by a bear.

Police say the woman dialed 911 on a cellphone while still riding as the bear weighing about 135 kilograms — or 300 pounds — charged toward her from the tree line.

She flagged down a passing motorist, ditched her bike, and climbed inside the car as the bear ran off.

Late last month, a man was sent to hospital after being mauled by a bear north of Orillia.

And another man was able to speed off on his ATV when a bear charged him in the same area.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh to be a cyclist again!

Doing actual work again now that the June "break" is on and I can't hide behind any "I'm still recovering from that race" excuses. Feels good to be back in the saddle, getting some real work done.

Last night I headed down to the CNE to ride around in circles for a bit. It was a perfect evening -- not too much wind, nice temperature and even a couple riders who I treated as "carrots" when it was time to hit the gas. I can't imagine what it's going to be like there with 4000+ riders on Saturday morning for the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Who can believe it's already here?? Hope I'm ready to sit on my bike for six hours at a time.

This morning, it was up early again to head out for our weekly early-morning don ride. Still lots of room for joiners! That frees up the evening for a girls' night at SATC2. I'm trying to leave all standards and expectations at the door and just enjoy a few laughs. We'll see how it goes -- I know the critics aren't going overboard with the praise.

So other upcoming events:

Wednesday -- the return to the trainer ... ??!! Unless someone knows of a place where I can do 18 minutes of work as fast as I can without being interrupted by traffic, stop signs or lights. Caveat: need to be able to ride to it because I'm not sitting in rush hour traffic for the sake of a workout.

Friday -- the allergist. Woo hoo for scratch tests. Finally going to find out why my lips get itchy when I eat carrots (and some other strange phenomenon.) I'm very curious about this one.

Weekend -- the Ride to Conquer Cancer: my first true century. Twice in a row (aaargh). Dad's coming up too and I've just reminded myself to pick up ear plugs so I can hopefully get some rest in Snoresville tent city. I should get an air mattress too, but maybe I'll be so tired it won't matter and I can just spare myself the expense. Last chance to donate if you'd still like to support the ride!

Next thursday -- the sports medicine doctor. Ah yes. The great return to physio therapy looms. I never stay fixed for long *sigh*. This time, we shall see about knees and my personal favourite, the old "rib out", which is now two years old, first acquired on the 2008 Ride to Conquer Cancer.

First cottage weekend also coming up. Expect to get some great road riding in around Charleston Lake, plus relaxing and swimming of course. Can't wait.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Top Ten Reasons To Skip Mountainview

1.) Never got a chance to preride

2.) Would have interfered with satisfying every junk food craving imaginable this weekend

3.) I would have got my bike dirty.

4.) Even worse, I would have got my shoes dirty.

5.) I saved money on gas!

6.) My house wouldn't look as good as it does now, thanks to an IKEA excursion (G and I now actually LIVE here, without any boxes!)

7.) I'm saving my back and my knees for the epic Ride to Conquer Cancer 200 mile adventure

8.) I'll have time this afternoon for a road ride in the sun (apparently it's on its way)

9.) I'm using my rainy Sunday to do some writing on the raw food book (at our new desk!) instead of sitting in the mall parking lot in Midland

10.) Weekends feel so much longer when there's no race to cater to.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cake-loving cyclist starts a cupcake tour of Toronto

OMG, wish I'd thought of this!!! My two favourite things: cupcakes and cycling, together at last! I'm joining their facebook page tonight and you can bet I'll be on the next ride. Can't wait.

By Chantal Braganza
Toronto Star

Hyedie Hashimoto’s idea of a sweet ride is hopping on her black road bike and zipping across Toronto from bakery to bakery, sampling cupcakes.

Call it a kind of culinary biking tour. There are definitely enough cupcake shops across town to support one.

“I just have a sweet tooth,” says Hashimoto, a 32-year-old graphic designer. “Tying in cupcakes was tying something fun into biking.”

Having seen similar rides take place in Nashville, Tenn., Washington, D.C. and Paris, she decided to start one here last April. She drew up a logo, created a website and posted notices on city biking boards asking interested cyclists to join in. The only catch? It’s a girls-only event.

“I heard last year about a report that said less women were riding bikes than men,” she says, referring to studies published by Rutgers University in New Jersey and Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Both noted that in North American and Australian core cities, more men than women were riding bikes. The key to improving cycling infrastructure, they suggested, was to close the cycling gender gap.

“I wanted to do something to help promote girls on bikes,” says Hashimoto. Here in Toronto, only a little more than 30 per cent of cyclists are women.

This isn’t to say cupcakes are female-exclusive. But it doesn’t hurt that they fit sweetly into a bike basket and travel well. And from Yorkville to Dundas West, there’s no shortage of bakeries, or route ideas.

“The sheer number of bakeries that sell cupcakes in the city is amazing — it’s a great way to see the city.”

Her first ride, from OMG Baked Goods on Dundas St. W. at Dufferin St. for chocolate vegan cupcakes to Icing on the Cake on Queen St. E. via the Martin Goodman Trail, took place April 3. Only one other rider showed up, she laughs. However, last Saturday’s sophomore ride down Bloor St. fared better. Four women met up at Hot Oven Bakery on Bloor St. W. at Runnymede Rd. before cycling west to High Park to take part in Bells on Bloor, a cycle parade to support bike safety in the city. Within minutes, baked treats and cycling stories of first bikes — and first accidents — were being swapped.

Malena Andrade, a web designer, experienced her first “door prize” one night a couple of years ago, in the club district at Adelaide and John Sts., when a group of girls exiting a cab opened the door without looking. The door banged her wheel so hard, the wheel warped.

Andrade had never been in an accident before. Standing amid the crowd of hollering club-goers and noisy cars, she brushed herself off and cycled home. It was only when she took her wheel to get fixed, that she learn about her rights as a rider in such a situation.
“I just wanted to get out of there,” she says, peeling the paper off a fat, pink cupcake.

But that incident isn’t likely to change her, or any of the cupcake riders’ penchant for biking in Toronto.

“It’s not that scary, once you learn how to bike defensively,” says Hashimoto.

“For me the benefits outweigh the cons,” says Amelia Velasco, an administrative assistant who started cycling while living in Paris for two years, before moving back home in 2009. “It’s just the most efficient way to get around . . . most places are a 30-minute radius away from me. I get exercise, get to work and help the environment: I can’t lose.”

The next sweet ride is in the planning stage. If you want to get in on it, visit http://www.cupcakeride.com/.

PS -- all the cupcakes pictured in this blog post are from "For the Love of Cake" in Liberty Village. I was lucky enough to grab a Groupon that gets me 6 of these babies for only $7 (regularly more than twice that!). Click here to join Groupon yourself!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Family Riding to the End of the World!

Every month I get the Women's Cycling Newsletter which often has amazing little stories, and this issue is no different.

Check out the Vogel Family's epic quest to make their twin boys the youngest to cycle the Pan-American Highway. They've been on the road for 2 years now, beginning in Alaska, and are only 5000 miles from reaching their goal: Tierra del Fuego. The boys are reportedly loving every minute. Chyea, no doubt!

It's a pretty inspiring tale that's got me thinking about what sorts of things I'll put any future offspring through in the name of higher-learning, travel, bonding, and FUN.

Here's the link to the article:

And here's a link to their website:

Glorious Morning Ride!

Thanks to Randall for the great ride this morning. Only sorry if you have as many bug bites as me! I take full responsibility, since I was the piano tied to your ankles this morning.

I was having "one of those rides." Things were going great for our first leg -- a rocket mission across the Ridge, completed in a cool 18 minutes without even trying. Finally, I'd found the rythym I'd misplaced at the Canada Cup. Needed a ride like that. Randall even commented, "I was just thinking you could teach a clinic on flow!" Now that's what I like to hear!

But then we rolled into the Upper Don, covering such favourites as Catalyst, Rim Job and a newly cut trail called "Aerodrome" — thanks to its running behind what used to be an airplane hangar from the 1920s, or so I was told — before cutting back into the valley for new singletrack. Randall and I have agreed to rename the trail "Bent Hangar" so that it retains its aviation roots, but also carries a mountain biking connotation. Respectfully submitted.

Bent Hangar has got a lot of potential, but it was about this time that the full extent of my klutziness caught up with me and I was riding like a mess. This was poor timing since the trail is still very new, and not exactly "smoothed out" yet. I was catching body parts on protruding sticks, washing out my wheels, and once, I even did a summersault, careening into one of the ravines. No major damage but I was definitely getting frustrated. The cure for riding like crap? Have a snack. Once my gel kicked in, I was back on track (and on trail).

We finished our Upper Don Loop, exiting the way we came in and although I was feeling better, I was still feeling a little shell-shocked, so we grabbed the Fast Track back to the Trailhead.

A few nips of smoothie before heading to the office and I call that a dandy morning. Thanks again Randall for the get-out-of-bed-ridiculously-early incentive.

If you would also like to start your day off right, let Randall or I know and we'll be sure to include you on the next week's communications. We usually try to meet on either Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, 6:45am at the trailhead.

Let me tell you, it feels good to roll into work at 8:30 and already have a 2+ hour workout under your belt.