Friday, January 27, 2012

Will the rubber hit the road . . . again?

I'll admit that I could turn a mean crank back in the day, i.e., the 1980s and 90's. I started off as a road racer and raced both provincially and nationally. The culmination of my road career was competing in the 1985 Canada Summer Games. But I must admit that one of my best bragging stories was, that for over 20 years, I held the third fastest time up Signal Hill - a mere three seconds off the overall record.  I then moved onto mountain bike racing and competed and placed second in the first organized race here in St. John's. It took place just around present-day Stavanger Drive. The area is now completely built up so it's hard to even discern the approximate location of the old course. That was in the late 1980s.

In the mid 1990's the ol' bike basically went into retirement. Cycling, by nature, is a time consuming endeavour. In 1997 I fell off the roof and broke my neck and elbow. Two weeks later my son was born. A double whammy to take me out of the cycling scene altogether. And I never really got back into it. Even when my young son expressed a great interest in riding, I could not get excited. My broken elbow can not straighten out and it really makes my pedaling awkward and often painful!!

Fast forward to Sunday January 22, 2012. My activities have been languishing due to a persistent knee problem. Even walking was getting hard. It was beginning to get a bit depressing as it was making me miss out on a lot of things I really enjoy - like competitive basketball, for instance. On Sunday I decided to throw the old road bike on the ancient mag trainer and see how the knees felt. I only did a 30 minute spin but afterwards my knees felt freakin' great. I tried this for a few days with lots of stretching throughout the day and I'm noticing an incredible difference in my knee mobility and pain. The decision was made. Purchase a better trainer and set my bike up better to accommodate my "afflictions"

Today I did just that. I bought a new fluid trainer - CycleOps Fluid 2 - and a set of aero bars to help support my bad elbow. Tonight I dragged the bike down from the attic to do a bit of work on it and to get it set up for some spinning.

I'm still using my circa 1987 Miele Beta. It's a handbuilt steel (Columbus) frame with Shimano 600EX all 'round. Yep, I'm still a sucker for the classic look of the old steel bikes. The new carbon fibre, aluminum and titanium are fine but the steel frame reminds me of the days when I started racing - when Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, the mighty Irishman Kelly and the upstart American, Lemond where the kings of the road.  There's a certain mystique surrounding the beauty of a handbuilt steel Colnago, Pinarello or Ciocc. Or is it just me?

The unmistakable simplicity of the steel framed bike and the La Vie Claire water bottle belonging to Gervais Rioux that was "borrowed" while at the Nationals in Hamilton!!

The new fluid trainer. Smooth and quiet.

Fluid 2 by CycleOps. Yep, she's a six speed hub. Can't find them anymore - not even at Walmart!!

Starboard quarter

Starboard bow
Where's this all going, you might ask? I have no idea. My only hope is that I don't "blow a knee" and make it so that I never hit the road again. Racing is out of the question - but that's not to say I won't make up for lost time riding with my son. I can't wait to give this new setup a whir, that's for sure!! Maybe even relive those days long ago when all I did was eat, sleep, breathe, work in a bike shop and RIDE!!!

Thanks for dropping by and feel free to post any cycling memories - I'd be happy to hear them!!


  1. that's all great Sean, and interesting, it really is... I knew you did some peddling back when, but did not realize you had achieved such levels... But on behalf of paddlers everywhere I have to ask - how's the Black Pearl coming along???

  2. Awesome stuff Sean. You are braver than I..I rode to work twice in this city and vowed to never do it again. Something about the drivers in this province and not having a metal barrier between me and them that was just wrong!

    I know how you fell though. I've been away from marathon running for near 4 years and I would love to get back to it. Alas I don't see that happening!

  3. Dean: When I was into bike racing it, was well beyond any level I've been at with kayaking. I was training daily, week in, week out. My level of fitness was incredible - man, how I miss those days!!!

    Lee: I was riding back in the 80's when the sight of a guy in skin tight lycra shorts and walking like a duck, a la cycling cleats, would throw all but the most liberal minded of motorists into a fit of laughter!! If I had a dollar for every pickup truck driver that ran me off the road, I'd be doing quite all right!! Great training, nonetheless!!

    As for the Black Pearl - my Paypal account shows that payment was taken out a few days ago, so the plans should be on the way soon.

    In the meantime, I'll be plugging away on the bike. Sweatin' and reliving past glories!!

  4. Ya, getting a free trip somewhere else to go to the Canada Games is pretty sweet, except maybe Saskatoon in the dead of winter. The cycling will probably help you knee by building strength around the joint.

    Tony :-)