cycling · winter

Snow commuting, still faster than driving

This story has been in the news a lot this week : Data From Millions Of Smartphone Journeys Proves Cyclists Faster

According to all of the data on our smartphones–here’s looking at you Google Fit!–in urban environments biking time beats car travel time hands down

(There’s been a lot of analysis of the data, from smart phones and from Strava. For the big picture look here: Strava’s 2018 Fascinating Year In Review Stats)

I had my own version of the “biking is faster the driving” phenomena last night when someone saw me on my bike and offered me a drive to a meeting. I calculated the time to lock up the bike and get back to it after the meeting and quickly declined. I wanted the ease of having the bike near me for getting home after the meeting. The driving colleagues offered to let the others know that I’d be late. I didn’t think I’d be late. But whatever.

I was waiting for the elevator when the driving colleagues arrived. “Huh, you beat us.” 

They thought about it and noted that I got to park closer. They parked in a lot a ways a way but I locked up my bike in covered bike parking just outside the building.  But truth be told, I was ahead of them all the way. 

At the first light they were stopped behind a line of cars but I was the only bike in the bike lane.  Between traffic lights I’m not that much different than a car in terms of speed.

Last night, after the meeting, I had a magical ride home in the snow. I took a quiet route with almost no cars. The snow was falling pretty heavily and the plow hadn’t been by yet. I was curious to see how my “adventure road bike” would do. My fat bike is better suited to real snow but this bike did just fine.

What’s an adventure road bike? It’s not a cx bike, not designed for cyclocross bike. It’s not a technical mountain bike designed for mud and rocks. And it’s not a pavement only road bike either.

Here’s one description from Evans Cycle in the UK:

“Different brands have different takes on what adventure road geometry should be, in general they sit much closer to road bikes, but with a more relaxed geometry, a higher stack height for a more heads up riding position and sometimes longer chain stays for stability when carrying a load. The tyres will generally be fatter than road tyres, but with a semi-slick rubber that won’t hold you back on the road, so you’ll be comfortable switching between disciplines with ease.

Because Adventure Road bikes aren’t designed for technical, wooded areas and muddy racing, the bottom bracket stays in a position more akin to that of a road bike, and tyre clearance does not need to be as great. Since it’s unlikely you will need to hop off the bike, and run over obstacles or up banks, disc brakes are common place as low weight is less crucial.What are adventure road bikes good for?

Adventure Road bikes make fantastic steeds for commuting or touring duties – comfortable geometry, shorter reach and robust wheels and tyres mean they can cope with hefty mileage over rough terrain. Therefore, the bikes often have racks for panniers, mudguards and drinks bottles, so you can load them up should you need to.

Adventure Road bikes are super versatile and with one bike you can cover a huge range of riding styles but there are subtle differences and it is a broad spectrum. Before you start browsing think about what you are likely to use the bike for and which features will be most key to your buying choice.”

Guest Post · weight loss · winter

Baby, it’s cold outside (Guest post)

By Eleanor Brown

It was a quite chilly minus 12, so I popped outside yesterday, without a coat, and stood in the driveway for a good 10 minutes, shivering. All in all, I’d call that a good day of exercise.

There was an unseasonable cold snap, you see. It was too icy for a bicycle ride, and too cold this early in the season for my as-yet non-acclimatized body to cope with its usual meandrey hour-long walk. Ah, but a good shiver… that’s some good calorie-killing time well spent.

Why? I was following advice, of course. I found it on the internet. Even better, I found it on a media website. Of a sort, anyway. The write-up is all about the horrors of winter weight gain. Ten pounds, on average!

To wit: « The shift to colder, winter weather often makes us feel lethargic and deters our motivation to go outside.

« But before you pull over the blankets or curl up by the fire to watch your favorite show, you should consider the potential benefits of cold-weather workouts.

« Exercising outdoors in colder weather has numerous health benefits. The average winter weight gain ranges from 5-10 pounds, Senior Director of Clinical Nutrition at Mt. Sinai Rebecca Blake told Accuweather. » That’s a weather website that makes money money as an app on my phone (and perhaps, on yours , too.)

Oh, there’s a lot of good stuff in the story. Winter exercise offers a bit of vitamin D via the faint sunlight exposure. It helps keep your body stronger in terms of immunity from colds, etc. The chill keeps you awake and cool, helping with temperature regulation. I buy all that.

But in the end it’s all about the thin : Winter exercise helps « ease fears of potential winter weight gain.»

It turns out that being outside in the winter can switch that terrible, horrible no good white belly and thigh fat into the Best. Fat. Ever. Yes, behind door number two you’ll find a transmogrification of the nasty bad stuff into the fantabulous calorie-burning brown fat. (Don’t ask me, it’s some miraculous sciencey thing.)

But when it’s very, very cold, I often just say no.

Thank goodness there’s this short-term option.

« Shivering, a mechanism to produce heat, also burns a significant amount of calories. Studies have shown that people expend five times more energy when shivering, compared to when they are resting. »

Now if I could just convince myself to stand outside every horrifically frigid winter day in shorts… why then, life would be perfect. Sadly, I am walking outside while wearing an undershirt today, and am therefore much fatter than I should be.

Damn.

Eleanor Brown lives in Quebec, and as the Gilles Vigneault song goes, « Mon pays, c’est l’hiver » (my country, ‘tis winter).

cycling · fitness · winter

Streak interrupted but still going strong

My bike streak was interrupted this weekend when travel to London to see a concert and help my daughter move made cycling impossible but I’m back at it. Yesterday was warm, grey and snowy and today was bright and cold. Both have their charms but after the greyest November on record  I’ll take the cold and the sun.

I am not the sort of person who thinks after breaking my streak “that’s it, it’s over.” I’m more a “back at it” kind of person. I wasn’t not going to go see Mallory’s Christmas concert. And I’ve got a bunch of streak days ahead. I’ve got spinning classes on campus, my bike on a trainer in my home office, and my bike commute. 

I love riding at this time of year. It feels so good to be moving outside. I used to love winter running for the same reason.

How’s your running/cycling/whatever streak going? Let me know in the comments!

fitness · running · tbt · winter

Bracing myself for winter running…again #tbt

As I brace myself again for winter running, this post from last year seems a propos. Why does winter running always feel SO HARD at the beginning, when it’s not even as cold or icy or windy as it’s going to get?

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

winter runningEvery year it seems as if, despite the inevitability of winter, the running outside in winter thing comes as a sudden shock. I had to laugh when I sat down to write this post because I did a little search of the blog for past posts on winter running. That yielded not one, not two, not three, but four posts of my own on running in winter, plus posts by Susan and Sam.

The annual winter running post idea (brilliant and original, I know!) came to me because Sunday was my first real winter run of the season. The kind with snow and wind and cold. And it wasn’t even a lot of any of them. But still, brrrrrr. Because even as a Canadian I have to acclimatize every single winter.

Once I do, it’s brilliant really. I mean, you can dress for most winter running conditions and be quite…

View original post 219 more words

fitness · skiing · winter

Jennifer’s Pro-tip: Find a thing you love! (Guest post)

by Jennifer Tamse

Jennifer cross country skiing

Canadian Protip #1: Find a winter sport that you love, and each snowfall will be met with a renewed sense of fervor and spirit. And if you’re still looking for that special something, go into the attic, dust the dirt and cobwebs off grandma’s skis, and join me. 

#canadianwinters#xcountry#xcountryski#touring#adventure#warmupwithastout#canadian#winterwonderland 

Jennifer is an amateur philosopher, self-described Trekkie and craft beer aficionado, Jennifer has close to a decade of experience driving innovation and change in the hospitality sector and beverage industries. In her spare time, she enjoys x-country skiing, hiking, antiquing and progressive rock music.

fall · Seasonal sadness · winter

November is Sam’s toughest fitness month: Here’s why, what’s yours?

View from inside a rainy window. Photo from Unsplash.

“The noons are more laconic and the sundowns sterner. November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.” Emily Dickinson

Christine’s post this morning reminded me that I need a plan for November. November looms.

Regular readers of the blog know how much I hate late fall. I won’t even link to all my dark and fall hating posts. There’s too many. But here’s one that rolls them all together.

In 2016 here’s how I described November, “November kind of just pounced on me, tackled me to the ground, and pinned me before I even had a chance to tap the mat.” Each year, I struggle with November. In 2014, I set specific November goals. In 2016, I gave in and set my sights on December.

What’s wrong with November exactly?

Brief recap: It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s wet. And there’s no snow yet to play in.

That’s my annual seasonally affected whine. It’s saved by Christmas (bright lights) and then by the new year (increasing light, bigger plans and ambitions) but November often feels to me like one long, slow, dark miserable month.

It’s best when I ride anyway and get tough but I don’t always have the stamina for that.

It’s also, just in terms of training, a weird time. Back before the fittest by fifty challenge with Tracy, I just tended to go into the fall as long as I could and then give up completely until after the new year. November was my annual fitness dark valley.

During the challenge I moved my serious bike training indoors come end of October and stuck with a plan.

Now I’m not quite sure where I am here in 2018. My evenings are often busy with work commitments so I can’t sign up for regular indoor bike training. Training on my bike at home on the trainer happens later, when I’m keen, but I’m not there yet.

This year I made a plan for the early fall and pledged to tell new stories. I took swimming lessons and that helped. But they’ve ended. It’s darker and colder and my resolve is wearing thin.

So I need a plan for November and biking. Might be indoor spin classes at lunch a couple of times a week. Might be adding a 10-20 km loop to my morning commute or riding at lunch hour. Might be doing more consistent lower body strength training that’s not just rehab of my miserable left knee.

I don’t know yet what my plan will be. There’s a few days left in October yet. But I know I need a plan. And I’m working on it.

Is there a month you hate the most from a fitness point of view? What’s the challenge? How do you cope?

dogs · hiking · walking · winter

Winter Camping with a Beast (Guest Post)

by Mallory Brennan

A few weeks ago, during March Break, I went winter camping! It was a short 24-hour trip due to an extremely busy life and getting our house ready to sell.

It was me, my younger brother, and our dog Cheddar. It was Cheddar’s first time camping and he was the best-behaved camping beast you could expect! We were the only people I saw in tents, everyone else was in a yurt or a trailer. When we first arrived we set up our tent and put Cheddar on a long leash to explore our campsite. We put a tarp on the ground for him to lay down on during the afternoon (he slept in the tent with us at night).

Then we went hiking. It’s always interesting to see what the parks look like in winter- frozen ponds and lakes, snow, ski tracks.

After hiking, we had a campfire and cooked our dinner. All our normal camping dishes were in storage so we cooked using no dishes- we roasted veggie skewers with vegetables, smoked tofu, halloumi cheese (which has a higher melting point so it doesn’t melt when you toast it). Then, of course, s’mores for dessert! As soon as it got dark (~8:30pm), Cheddar decided it was bedtime. He started circling us, going into the tent and looking at us (“Are you coming?”), coming back out to get us. We gave in after about ten minutes of this and curled up in the tent with him. It is very helpful to have a warm, furry beast in your tent. Especially a Cheddar-beast who loves to be as close to his people as possible and loves sleeping under the covers with you.

When we woke up in the morning and got up (12 hours later), he was still sound asleep in the tent and even looked at us as if to say “Do we have to get up yet?”. But he cheerfully got up once we got his leash out for a W-A-L-K (if you have a dog you know why we need to spell that word!). A couple hours more of hiking and we headed home. A successful 24-hour camping trip with a beast.

Mallory Brennan is many things. She’s the daughter of Samantha (and Jeff!), part-owner of Cheddar the dog, lover of the outdoors, hater of shoes, singer, conductor, and traveler.