Oct 31, 2011

Bixi Bicycle Riding in Toronto Ontario

A view of Downtown Toronto from the Toronto Island. -Max Albrecht
Over the summer of 2011, Toronto, Ontario integrated the Bixi Bicycle System that first appeared in Montreal, Quebec.  My best brother Max, who lives in the T-dawt, and I pulled out our credit cards and started cruising.  It took me a few pedal strokes, and stops-and-starts at intersections to remember that I was no longer riding a fixed gear (direct drive) bike like I had been on all weekend at the Forest City Velodrome.

We took the ferry over to the Toronto Island and pedaled around.  It was freezing cold, and I took it as a good character training for cross country skiing.  (I have a feeling that I'll be pulling my red Pelotonens out sooner than expected this year.)

Lex Albrecht at Far Enough Farm, Centerville Island, Toronto Ontario.  -Max Albrecht

One of our destinations was the Far Enough Farm where we saw pigs, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, a peacock, horses, swans, and tons and tons of ducks.  I'd never seen so many ducks in my life.  I almost ran over a Canadian Goose.

We had coffee while watching a horrible outdoor karaoke show (there should probably be a bylaw against those), checked out a movie, learned all about Smart TVs from a guy named Jack, walked through a public labyrinth (Which is not a maze: a maze has many possible paths and lots of dead ends whereas a labyrinth only has one possible path and no dead ends.  Walking it is supposed to be meditative.  We didn't meditate.) and Max introduced me to a new kind of apple : HONEY CRISP.  They're twice the price of a Granny Smith, less tart, even crunchier, and very satisfying.

I'm on my way back to Montreal now where I'll be reacquainted with my Specialized S-Works Amira.  I've got my DeFeet compression socks on for the flight.  See you later, Ontario!

Oct 30, 2011

Forest City Velodrome

I spent the weekend at The Forest City Vélodrome, in London Ontario.  Rob Good was leading the Canadian National Team Junior Camp, and I jumped in on the track...when I could.  I looked like a bit of a dufus at times, but I took it all in stride and had an excellent time.  I was vocal.  First it was positive self talk : ''youcandoit youcandoit youcandoit'' as I was spinning around the track the first few laps.  Then it was ''blackline blackline blackline'' or ''blueline blueline blueline'' ...just to remind myself where I was supposed to ride.  Haha.  It was either that or sit around on a plastic chair all day long.  So, let's be honest, which one is more stupid?  I made the right choice.

Rob had a lot of tricks and drills up his sleeve to teach me as much as possible over the weekend that I was there.  The juniors were nice to me, and were also pretty darn impressive.  They've got some incredible piston power!
Claude Pinard
Check out how steep the track is.  When I first saw it, a group of masters were flying around.  Some were on the apron (the blue strip around the base of the track) others were on the bottom black line (the line that you're supposed to try to stick to in races because it's the shortest and fastest way around the track) others on the stayer (the blue line in the middle of the track) and sometimes guys would go up to the top yellow line (holy shit was that ever high on the steep, steep track).

One thing that I was really surprised about was how easy it is for anybody to start track riding.  At the Forest City Velodrome there are beginner courses (Track 1 and Track 2) that teach the basics of track riding at a really fair price.  There are bikes for rent, and a lot of very friendly people with a lot of patience and passion for cycling ready to help anybody learn.  Check it out at www.forestcityvelodrome.ca

I had a lot of fun at the track.  I learned a lot...and I've got to say that I'm proud of myself that I had the guts to try it out, and dare myself to ride on what my teammate Anne Guzman lovingly refers to as the ''Toilet Bowl'', because it's so darn steep. Hopefully some of what I learned will be carried out onto the road next year!  I'm going to keep it up...

Oct 27, 2011

Je n'ai aucune intention de devenir pistarde

J'avais mis mes bas de compression DeFeet pour le voyage.  Peu de temps après avoir décollé de Montréal, je check par la fenêtre et par hasard je vois le bloc appartement où je reste.  Je vois mes balcons.  Ma voiture.  C'était quand même cool.

Je suis arrivée à London aujourd'hui.  Qui l'aurait cru: le nom de la ville de London ON, on ne le traduit pas.  Pourtant, London, Angleterre, ça devient "Londres" en français...

C'est demain que je suis censée embarquer sur la piste au vélodrome "Forest City".  Je n'ai aucune intention de devenir pistarde.  Je le fais pour un peu la même raison que j'ai fait ma première course de bike, ma première course de vélo de montagne, ma première course de cyclocross... Car j'ai la chienne, et c'est drole oser faire de quoi quand on en a peur.  C'est encore plus hot quand on réussit.  Je voulais essayer à pédaler sur la piste aussi parce que apparement que ça m'aidera à être moins intimidée par les Hollondaises.  Je ne veux pas être comme elles, puis je ne veux pas oser l'essayer non plus.  Je veux juste être capable de me faufiller entre-elles à des vitesses extraordinaires dans les pelotons de course.

Oct 26, 2011

Faking it for 10 km.

I got a text message inviting me to go out for a ride this morning.  My night had been choppy and I felt like a royal chunk of dirt when I woke up.  Was I sick!?  I hardly ever get sick.  I filled my bottles with eload and stuck them onto the my Specialized S-Works Amira bike.  I figured, at the worst, I would turn around after 15 minutes and soft-pedal back home.  I wasn't feeling great, but I wasn't dying either. 

It passed.  The sun was out full force, the winds weren't gusty like they have been for the last few weeks, and Montréal looked beautiful.  Whatever struck me through the night was gone.  I had a great ride, and loved every minute of it, like I usually do when I'm on my Specialized bike.

This evening I stirred things up.  I grabbed my HeadSweats Podium Cap, and went for a run in the dark. I'm not a runner, so I faked it, and it worked.  I did my 10km loop and my knees held up the whole way, which is rare for the beginning of the fall.  I'll tell you what my trick was.  This past summer on a group sponsor ride I spoke with a gentleman who runs marathons.  He explained to me that real runners take smaller steps and run at a higher cadence than a lot of 'beginners'.  So, this evening, I faked being a real runner.  His advice worked wonders.  I'm off to a great start!

Oct 21, 2011

Practicing Barista Skills Instead.

I was in Trois-Rivières yesterday, my 'hometown'. 

I lived there for around 4.5 years before moving to Laval, Québec for work.  I didn't go to kindergarten in Trois-Rivières, I didn't go on my first bike ride there either.  My family doesn't live there, and I can't say that I was there to witness the amalgamation of the 6 municipalities in 2001 that make up TR today.  I have a thick accent and bad grammar when I speak French, but I'm still Trifluvienne (that means: from Trois-Rivières) in my heart.  I'm not sure, but it might be like a transgender or phantom limb phenomenon: it's hard to understand...but it's the way it is.  I'm just convinced that I'm Trifluvienne.

Anyways, I took advantage of being 'home' yesterday to go to my old favorite gym in Trois-Rivières.  Today I'm stiff and sore as was expected.  The plan was to go on a really long easy-spin in the Montréal region today.  It only lasted 3 hours before I went home.  I didn't feel like riding.  It happens sometimes.  It's the off season...and in the off-season especially, when you don't want to ride- you just don't.

So, I came home, and made a coffee.  I'm getting really good at it.  You've got to pack the grinds just enough so the coffee doesn't get burnt from the hot water pushing its way through for too too long, reject the first bit of black coffee that comes through, and don't steam the milk for too long or it too will get burnt.  Put the milk in the fridge for a few seconds to let the foam set.  Pour it all like a pro...et voilà. 

I'll be on the trainer tomorrow in the living room.

Oct 18, 2011

Strength Building on The Bike

It's a little bit cold out and still very windy, but dressed properly, I can still ride very comfortably outside.  I don't like having cold feet, so I put on some wool DeFeet socks, and two layers of Hincapie shoe covers over my Specialized S-Works shoes to make sure they wouldn't be numb once I got back home.

I've been avoiding the gym so far this off season but will probably re-introduce it to my training shortly.  I've been doing some on-the-bike (Specialized S-Works Amira, of course) strength building exercises.  This approach has been pretty efficient for satisfying my desire to pedal, while getting the whole strength building job accomplished at the same time.  Today for instance, I climbed the Mont-Royal on my bike in a very, very big gear.  It took me nearly 7 or 8 minutes to get to the top every time.  I wasn't going fast but it was hurting!   I drank mandarin eload to keep the muscle cramps at bay and to keep myself well hydrated.

Don't you love bike riding! YEEHAW!

Oct 17, 2011

(S-Works Amira FOR SALE!) The Leaves are Yellow and the Wind is Strong!

The winds of change...are bringing on the real fall weather!  And it's windy alright.

I thought that the trees in the yard were going to come crashing down on my car, but they've proven to be well rooted, and tough.  If I was a tree, I bet I'd like to be bashed around by the wind every once in a while.  It must be boring to live an otherwise exclusively static life.

Regardless of the weather, I still got out to play on the Mont Royal, cranking it up the hill a few times in a big gear, and a really low cadence.  I've never gone up that hill so slowly, and with so much resistance; my legs are going to thank me for it.  I experienced more cyclocross, this time from a spectator's point of view, and rode a new course in the Cantons de l'Est, a destination that I rarely choose because it's a small trot from where I live (by car), but in the end, well worth it!

I sold my mountain bike to a very, very lucky girl- she got a good deal.  I hope she'll love that bike as much as I did.  I feel like there's a little empty space in my bike family now, and a little nostalgic feeling comes over me every time I go past its old place on the bike rack. 

I still have a road bike for sale.  Who wants to break my heart again?  It's a 48cm Specialized S-Works Amira...I love it.  Contact me by Facebook if you're interested!

Oct 12, 2011

Providence Cyclocross Festival Changed my Life

Last Saturday in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, I tackled my first weekend of cyclocross racing ever. I registered in the "Elite/Pro" category, simply for start time convenience. To be quite frank, I hope that there weren't too many people looking at me on the start line because I looked like a dork with a huge grin on my face. (Of all things, my FACE hurt that night from smiling so hard on the line). I felt like I did when I did the Montreal World Cup Race in 2008: "I don't know what the heck I'm getting myself into, but this is flipping COOL!". I had an awesome time and stayed up the entire race. That evening in the hotel lobby, a guy named Ferg told me that meant I didn't try hard enough.

I remediated the issue in Sunday's race. In my practice laps, I bowled into one barrier, and in the race I skidded out in a dirt corner...and later crashed into that same darn barrier. I pitted (or did my best, at least- I still have a bit to learn there) for the mens race still grimy and sweaty.

I slipped on my Defeet compression socks for recovery. I headed to the Boston Airport where I tended to my black and blue finger, and cleaned myself the best I could in the washroom. I ended up looking half presentable. I spent the night at the airport waiting for my flight to EWR (Newark) the next morning. I felt like a scuzzball, but was still having fun...and still running off the high of knowing that I did it, I did a cyclocross race, and I loved it. I think my life has been changed.

I'm in New York now, getting a great taste of the city with some new friends, and of course, with my Specialized Amira. In two more days I'll be back sweating up a storm in Montreal again...

Oct 6, 2011


I just thought I'd say...

I, Lex Albrecht, am registered for two cyclocross races in Providence, RI, U.S.A. this upcoming weekend.  I have never done cyclocross before in my life.  I didn't plan on doing cyclocross this year.  But I'm going to do it this weekend.  And, I'm going to have fun.  And, I'll probably get my keister kicked and look like a fooligan to anyone on the sidelines, and heck, anyone on the course, but that's A-okay. Yipeee-aye-oh! Woot, woot! :)