what to wear for spring riding

what to wear for spring riding

Riding in Vancouver, we plan for the worst and hope for the best.

The most difficult part of spring riding is dressing appropriately. Every day it’s a bit of a gamble. Will you wear too much and have to carry it? Or will you not bring enough and feel chilled all the way to Steveston? Even when you do dress well and appropriately for the weather, it can change quickly, even within one ride.

If you are new to riding or new to riding in Vancouver, please take a moment to watch this short 4 minute video, outlining the clothing and layering you need to stay warm. In this scenario, the temperature is 6 degrees celsius or warmer, and as usual, we expect it to be wet. 

With the exception of a waterproof jacket, the Kits Energy store has all of the items you need to stay warm this spring. Please watch your inbox as the store will open the first week of April, with discounts from April 3rd to April 15th. Kits Energy clothing can only be ordered online.

Base Layer

  • long dry-fit or merino wool socks 
  • dry-fit undershirt – tank top, tee shirt, or long sleeve
  • padded cycling shorts or padded long bib pants

Second Layer

  • long tights over padded shorts if not wearing padded long pants
  • short sleeve or long sleeve jersey or dry-fit shirt

Outer Layer

  • waterproof rain jacket (if not raining, carry it with you)
  • long finger light gloves
  • small beanie or headband to keep your ears warm
  • helmet
  • glasses with clear or light coloured lenses (or dark if sunny)
  • Gortex booties over shoes 

streak challenges can be a recipe for injury

streak challenges can be a recipe for injury

I understand the allure of joining a streak challenge as simple as doing one activity every day for one month, several months, or even years. And I’m all for any gimmick or trick we can use to entice ourselves to exercise more.

However, some of these challenges are not always healthy and often lead to injury.

The most dangerous streaks involve a repetitive activity or sport done every day for a total number of repetitions, distance, or time. Such as completing X number of pushups or running a certain distance or time daily. 

Pushing yourself to participate in an activity every day, no matter how tired, injured, or ill you may feel, goes against all training advice. Many athletes ignore the body’s signals telling them they need a day or two off, and even more so when they have committed to a streak challenge. The constant repetition often leads to burnout, overtraining, and repetitive strain injuries. Common injuries suffered from athletes participating in a daily running streak challenge are achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or worse yet, a stress fracture in the leg or foot. 

But, not all streaks are bad. 

Healthy or “good” streaks are those that allow for flexibility and encourage rest days. These challenges usually require you to complete a total distance within a specific time frame. Even better are streaks that include a variety of activities or allow you to choose for yourself, as in the case of a yoga or weight training challenge; the classes are different every day, and vary in intensity and volume.

If you are choosing a streak to help motivate you to exercise, try to pick one that allows for flexibility in how often you need to do it, and ideally some flexibility in what activities you are doing. Not only will you be healthier overall, but it will also make you faster in your preferred sport and help prevent injury. 

If you want to use the challenge to get you riding more, the Strava streaks sampled in this article are good examples. However, it will still require some planning to make sure you give yourself enough recovery days throughout. As well, the challenge you chose needs to be appropriately placed within your overall yearly training program. Don’t get coerced into signing up for a challenge just because your friends are.

Take an Epson salt bath for recovery

Take an Epson salt bath for recovery

The more you train, the more you need to recover.

Many athletes get so caught up closing activity rings, counting steps, competing in Strava challenges, or reaching a distance goal, that they forget to make recovery a priority. 

One form of recovery, that often gets overlooked is an Epson Salt Bath.

Especially in the cold winter months, a hot sudsy bath does sound pretty inviting. But, besides being relaxing, how else does it help you recover?

We don’t have many concrete scientific studies that support how an Epson Salt Bath helps recovery, but we do know that it works. On the most basic level, taking a warm bath helps calm the nervous system which has a ripple affect, allowing your body to direct it’s energy into repair mode.

If you want to take it a step further, if the athlete also uses this time to focus on breathing, or follows another form of relaxation technique such as listening to music or reading a novel, your brain has time to shut off and recharge. Think of your body like your iphone; it has a long battery life, but the more you use it, the longer you need to stop to recharge.

So what is it about the Epson Salts?

Dissolving epson salts in water releases magnesium and sulfate ions, which can be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium plays many crucial roles in the body and is required in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions in the body. Some of the most important roles for an athlete are:

regulates energy production aka improves performance

regulates muscle and nerve function

regulates blood sugar levels

regulates blood pressure

reduces inflammation

strengthens bones

reduces depression

improves digestion

helps release melatonin which helps you sleep

So, instead of thinking of your bath as a guilty pleasure, you can add it to your arsenal of recovery tools to make you faster, stronger, fitter, and healthier overall.

In the summer, we will talk about ice baths and contrast baths, which also have amazing benefits in aiding recovery, but much harder to convince when it is already cold outside.

Become a “pro” and achieve your goals

Become a “pro” and achieve your goals

Want to achieve your goals this year? 

Stop acting like an amateur and start acting like a pro.

An amateur is a person who engages in a pursuit on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.

Think about your current mode of employment, or job that you must do because someone else’s life depends on it. 

You show up every day.

When it is cold, wet, and raining, you show up.

When you are tired and would rather watch Netflix, you show up.

When your best friend is in town for just one day, or it is your partner’s birthday, you may leave early, but you still show up.

Every morning you don’t wake up and contemplate whether or not you will decide to fulfill your responsibilities today. 

You just do it.

In addition, while working you don’t typically suffer from feelings of guilt, laziness, or think you are wasting time as often happens when an amateur attempts to take an hour away from “their job” to paint, run, cook, bike, write, or play their instrument.

So what do you think would happen if you applied that same philosophy to your next goal? 

With every goal comes massive resistance. Even if it is something that we desperately want, we will find every excuse to procrastinate, delay, or self-sabotage. By eliminating the choice of whether or not you will show up, you also remove the opportunity for that resistance (in whatever form of excuse it looks like) to stop you from doing the work required to achieve your goal.

Treat your goals as if your profession depended on achieving them.

Don’t think about whether you want to do it; just do it. 

BUT, there is one caveat that you need to consider.

Many people already have more jobs than they can handle. 

Think about which responsibilities in your life are non-negotiable. 

Beyond the employment that makes you money, your list of non-negotiable responsibilities, jobs, or goals may include:

  • raising children
  • attending to elderly parents
  • starting a new exercise program
  • volunteering in the community
  • serving as a board member
  • pursuing your love for music or art
  • learning a new skill 
  • engaging in a sport or several sports
  • playing on a team
  • learning to become the next Top Chef
  • losing weight
  • renovating your home
  • dealing with an illness or injury
  • traveling for work or pleasure

It is impossible to continue adding more jobs to the list without getting burnt out and ultimately failing at all of them. 

If you are someone who overextends themselves, you will need to review your current list and evaluate which responsibilities can be put on hold or delegated, while you work on achieving your new goal. 

Once you have narrowed down the list into something that is both manageable and realistic, add your new goal to the top of the list and the rest will fall into place.

If your “profession” is to become a 50+ road cyclist and finish a fondo before x amount of time, then you will need to do what a professional 50+ rider would do. You need to sleep, eat, rest, recover, and train like a cyclist. Every day you need to do something that gets you closer to your goal of becoming a professional 50+ fondo rider.

Remember, this is your job. It is non-negotiable. Now stop thinking about it and go and do it.

Chain love

Chain love

The availability of both bike parts and bike mechanics are still feeling the squeeze of covid. Which means that doing some minor bike maintenance is necessary if you want to keep your bike on the road this summer. 

Since your chain is your bike’s most “at-risk” part and an essential component, I feel that it deserves an entire newsletter on how to care for it..

In general, you should lubricate your chain whenever it squeaks or appears “dry.” But taking the extra time to clean and lube after wet rides will help keep your chain from rusting. It is a simple task but often gets forgotten, especially when we are cold and wet and just want to get into the shower.

To clean a chain that doesn’t have too much built-up grime, simply use a rag and degreaser. For really dirty chains, you may need to use a chain cleaning device that is more thorough and a lot less messy. Once you have cleaned the chain, you also need to clean the bike parts it comes in contact with, the front chainrings, rear cassette, and rear derailleur. See photo above if you are unsure of which parts I’m talking about. Scrub the front chainrings and rear derailleur with a brush and degreaser while turning the pedals (moving the chain). For the rear cassette, take off the rear wheel and wipe away any remaining dirt by flossing between the gears/cogs.

After the degreaser has dried, apply drops of lube slowly onto the chain, getting some on each link. Run the chain through all the cogs. Let the lube dry, then wipe off any excess lubricant, so it doesn’t attract more dirt. .

Cleaning and lubricating your chain frequently will help slow down the rate of chain wear. But even the most meticulous rider will need to replace their chain eventually. The more you ride, the sooner you will need to replace it. This bit of maintenance may seem costly, but it is much cheaper than the damage it could cause if you don’t. If you can get your hands on a spare chain now, take it! At some point, you will need it.

What happens if you don’t change your chain when you should?

If you continue to ride with an old chain, even if it is clean, it will start to grind away at the metal on your front chainrings and rear cassette. Over time, the chain and gears will grind out new grooves that a new chain won’t be able to match. This is not a good thing. You are now beyond the point of no return, and you will need to replace all three together. Your cheap $60-$150 replacement chain may cost you $500 or more, depending on what you parts you need to replace. 

If you want to avoid this mistake, ask your bike shop to measure the chain to see how much wear it has left. When you bring your bike in for a tune-up, they should do this for you. They will let you know how much life you have left in your chain. If they don’t say anything – don’t assume that it is OK – ASK! 

Triple Crown for heart 2022

Triple Crown for heart 2022

Every event is tough when you are pushing yourself to achieve a personal best. But when the weather turns sour and never lets up, it adds one more element of pain to the day. These are the days that build resiliency and character as an athlete. These are the days that you will never forget. Saturday July 16th 2022 was one of those days. I am so proud of all the riders, and especially the Kits Energy riders, who remained positive and smiling despite how cold they were. They rode 75km and climbed 2300m up into the wet and cold clouds. We had a large group of Kits Energy riders in the Triple Crown for Heart event and we were also among some of the fastest riders!! No matter what time you finished in, everyone should be proud of themselves for completing such a big event, on a mentally and physically challenging day.

Connie, Jack, Kristina, and Matthew starting our climb up Cypress Mountain

A huge thank you to Dominik Szopa, Marie Campbell, Fiezel Babul, and all of the other board members and volunteers who helped put this event together.  The emergency blankets at the end were a very smart idea! In total, the event raised $30,000 for BC Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Cardiac Care.

Triple Crown Volunteers
Setting up the post ride snack table at the top of Cypress Mountain
Dominik Szopa (helped organize and also rode the event!!) and Facundo Chernikoff

Congratulations to Paul Towgood and Grant Bullington (who is also our KE sponsor from StretchLabs) who both finished first, along with two other riders, in a time of 3:09!!!! That’s crazy fast!

Grant and Paul at the starting line

Lynda McCue finished in the second fastest group, in a total time of 3:53 and won the prize of a stuffed lion for first female finisher. Another crazy fast time.

Lynda McCue all smiles at the starting line