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Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts

Old School Cycling

You don't need fancy equipment or clothes to get really into cycling.

Especially in the summer.

You don't need a new bicycle.

You just need a bicycle that works and is in peak condition.

You do not need a super fast lightweight racing bicycle that costs thousands of dollars. That is just completely unnecessary.

But what you do need is...

#1. A bicycle with working brakes and gears, with full tubes and treads that aren't worn to shreds.

#2. A good thick U-lock (because those sneaky bicycle thieves can cut through a chain lock or a cable lock in two snips of a bolt cutter).

#3. Something to carry water / snacks with you. A water bottle holder or even a backpack with water in it. Or a basket on your bicycle. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of water bottle holders to suit your needs. Or if you have your heart set on a basket there is a variety of front and back loading baskets available.

#4. The actual snacks and water to carry with you. Don't leave home without them.

#5. A helmet couldn't hurt you. Sure, it takes awhile to find one that is fashionable (they're all rather ugly) but certainly you can find one that you like. It is better than wearing a funny looking hat.

#6. Take your friends with you. You will ride further, faster and have more fun with friends.

#7. Dress to Sweat. You know you are going to so you might as well be comfortable.

#8. If looking to buy a new bicycle try to buy one that is comfortable to ride. Racing bicycles may be fast, but they're annoying uncomfortable for you back because the posture of leaning forward constantly hurts your back. Try a Cruiser style bicycle like the one above instead. Easier on the arms and you get to enjoy the view more.

#9. Retro Bicycles are in baby! They may seem old fashioned, but they can still pass the other suckas in an hurry if you pump those legs harder. But if you are looking to buy a retro bicycle remember to check that everything works and the bike is fully restored. Don't worry about rust on the frame so much, so long as the chain and the gears are rust free.

#10. Learn how to raise / lower your seat, adjust your handlebars, etc. Easy to do and there are plenty of bicycle mechanic websites out there with free advice on how to do those things and other more complicated mechanical skills. Learning how to properly oil (do NOT use WD-40!) and clean your bicycle is good advice too!

Things to do in Toronto for the Bicycle Savvy

Looking for summer activities you can do on your bicycle in Toronto?

The Bicycle Mechanic (Online)
Its online, but it offers lots of free advice on how to fix your bicycle. Having a broken bicycle is no excuse to not be outside exercising.

Get Your Bicycle Fixed / Tuned Up (Various Locations)
Visit one of the locations nearest you and get a professional tune up. Cycle Solutions (Cabbagetown), Sweet Pete's (Brockton Village), Mike The Bike (Chinatown), Ride Away Bikes (Little Portugal) and many more. See a list of Bicycle Mechanics Shops in the GTA.

BIXI (Multiple Locations Downtown)
Bixi is Toronto's bicycle rental program that you have probably noticed all over town. Its a tad over priced, but the bicycles are well-maintained and kept in peak condition so even if you don't own a bicycle you can still easily rent one. (Just remember to return it ASAP because the fees are charged by the hour.)

Toronto Island Bicycle Rental (Toronto Island)
You haven't really cycled in Toronto until you've biked around on Toronto Island. You can either rent a bike or bring your own! For couples they also have tandem bicycles.

Sugar Beach (Jarvis & Queens Quay)
Located near the Redpath Sugar Mill, Sugar Beach is a bicycle friendly location to go and relax and stare out across the lake. The location is more chic and sophisticated and has less kids running around too if you are into that sort of thing.

High Park (High Park)
The park is huge and there is everything from a petting zoo, tennis courts, baseball fields, places to feed the ducks, swimming pools, beautiful gardens - and lots of places to ride your bicycle!

Rosedale Ravine / Don Valley (Don Valley)
There is a tonne of bicycle trails / hiking paths around Rosedale and located in the Don Valley. You can get lost out there easily, riding in circles and getting lots of exercise.

Critical Mass (Spadina and Bloor)
The last Friday of every month, at 6 PM  - not just in the Summer - over a hundred cyclists gather on the SE corner of Spadina and Bloor and then as a group ride through the city. The route varies each time and there is usually a police escort these days (they arrest cyclists who ride through the red lights). Its a good way to meet other people who are into cycling and you will see a huge variety of weird bicycles too.

Bored of exercising indoors? Time to find a friend and try something new!



I am bored of exercising indoors. I have been stuck inside most of the winter and Spring doesn't seem to be coming fast enough. However I hate exercising outside when its so cold outside. What can I be doing instead?

I’m an avid runner/cyclist – anything outdoors - but only when it is warm enough to be doing so. How do I stay motivated to train despite the cold?

- Angela W."


Hello Angela!

I empathize with you. I don't even bother to bicycle during the winter and I do cycling outdoors (those people who take spin classes and cycle at gyms are crazy in my opinion). However never fear! I have a couple of tricks that I use to motivate myself to train during the winter. You are welcome to use these ideas to help you train during the winter.

#1. It is always more fun to train with a friend, regardless of the season. It will help keep you motivated even when it is freezing cold outside. Try enlisting an exercise buddy or hiring a personal trainer here in Toronto (hint hint). If you can find a friend the two of you can motivate each other - plus twice the brain power means you will come with extra exercise ideas together - like going dancing or taking dance lessons together. It gets you out of the house, it is still technically indoors, but at least you are out trying something new as a cardio exercise.

Even if you don't have a friend to go with you dance classes can be a great way to exercise as a group and meet new friends.

#2. I like to remind myself of how great I feel after a workout. I know that any workout, even an indoor workout, will make me feel better than no workout. Relish in that feeling. It doesn't matter whether the workout is cardio, yoga, weightlifting or even a series of stretches. The more wonderful I feel after I have a workout the more likely I am to stick with it and keep exercising.

#3. Schedule it. I find this helps regardless of what the weather is doing. By having a specific spot in my schedule where I know I have to do something - even if its laundry or washing the dishes - any kind of chore, exercise, task, etc should be scheduled to make sure you do it. I personally have multiple alarms during the day reminding me to do every thing from get up, go jogging, do my daily exercise routine, go to events with friends. Each alarm on my phone has a different song that plays for each task. That way I know what it is and it reminds that it is time to do that task.

#4. I also like to remind myself that having a break between my work periods is beneficial. Sometimes I even have afternoon naps (siestas) to replenish my energy.

#5. Next I challenge myself to do activities that I am not as familiar with - such as trying new exercises that I find online. YouTube is a great source for new exercises, but I also have a lot listed here on CardioTrek for you to browse.

#6. Set a goal. It will help motivate you to stay active so make it a good goal worth aiming for - and make it realistic over the long term so you know you have to stick with it to achieve it. It might be as simple as a big number like aiming to do 10,000 push-ups in 3 months (roughly 112 push-ups per day). That is a completely realistic goal - but imagine how much more fit you will be after completing 10,000 pushups over a 3 month period. Other goals might include 100 yoga classes, running in a marathon, competing in a bicycle race (you don't need to win, you just need to show up and complete the race), trying a new sport like speed skating. Lots of options out there.

Speaking for myself my current goal is to strengthen all the muscles I need for my new 45 lb recurve bow for archery. It is 11 lbs harder to pull than my old 34 lb recurve bow.

If you can't stay away from cycling and running completely, then go ahead and do indoor versions of each. Run on a treadmill, take spin classes or use a bike trainer. I may personally think those things are ridiculous, but for the people who can't stand the cold weather they are certainly an option.

The bike trainer is a fantastic route, because it allows you to put your actual road bike on a stand and cycle. Whenever we get nice weather then you can cycle and run outside when possible (March is sketchy at times that you will sometimes have a hot day when you can do that.

So far the weather in Toronto has been pretty horrible, but cheer up. I am sure the weather will start to get better soon!

How to Bicycle in the Winter without getting Cold

I admit cycling indoors in the winter is pretty boring compared to the scenery and the constant threat of being run over by a car...

But on the plus side you can listen to music or watch a movie while you bicycle.

"Bike Trainers" as they are called are basically gadgets you can attach to your bicycle in the safety of your living room and then cycle to your heart's content.

If you are still feeling guilty about all the food you ate during the Holiday Season and want to burn some off via some heavy duty cardio exercise, a Bike Trainer might be just the thing you are looking for because they are a great way for people struggling to regain their fitness to do just that.

And the beauty of them is that it doesn't matter how much rain and snow is outside because attaching one of these things to your bicycle is so easy a 10 year old can do it.

Here is a short primer on bicycle trainers so you can stop sitting on the fence undecided and add it to your exercise routine.

Learn About Them First

People looking to buy cycling trainer should learn a few basics before they spend their hard earned cash on a bike trainer that might not meet their specific needs for winter exercising. They may choose a product that isn't 'enough' trainer for them, or on the other hand, they may waste money getting something that they don't have the power or resolve to make adequate use of. So try and find one that is right for you, not just the most expensive one you can afford.

There are three types of Bike Trainers: Wind, Mag and Fluid.

Wind Trainers

If you're a casual rider, a wind trainer may be enough for you. These are the simplest trainers with the least number of things that can go wrong. With a minimal number of parts, high quality (good metals and bearings) wind trainers from companies like Kurt Kinetic, CycleOps, Minoura, or Blackburn will last forever... and never need replacement parts

However wind trainers can be loud. Loud enough that some cyclists wear earplugs when using a wind trainer. Enough to annoy the neighbours.

But there's another downside to wind trainers (or upside if you are new to this). They don't produce enough resistance, even at high speeds, to provide a good workout for strong cyclists. They're great for beginners, but professional cyclists will want something with a lot more resistance to make them really strain their leg muscles.

Most people use their bike trainer for mild to moderate steady state workouts so a wind trainer may be all you'll need to burn fat. You aren't training for the Olympics so you don't need anything more than that, right?

Magnetic Trainers

Magnetic (mag) trainers have a bad reputation thanks to the internet being littered with old complaints from mag trainer owners who didn't appreciate their trainers clattering their way to the scrapyard. The newer Mag Trainers don't have this problem, but the old complaints are still there.

This class of bike trainer develops resistance by rotating repelling magnets past each other. Most Mag Trainers provide the ability to be adjusted through multiple levels of resistance.

The most common method of 'switching gears' is to dismount and change the resistance level at the trainer unit itself. But if you spend a few extra bucks you can get a Mag Trainer that has a lever which attaches to the handlebars, enabling you to increase or decrease the resistance while riding.

The latest innovation is the CycleOps Magneto, which is designed to 'progressively' increase resistance the harder the cyclist pedals. Using centrifugal force, the Magneto changes the configuration of its magnets without any input from the rider.

Mag Trainers are appropriate for moderately serious cyclists who want more resistance than a wind trainer can provide.

Fluid Trainers

Fluid trainers are the quietest and most expensive of the three types.

Fluid trainers are willing to motor along at low intensities, but are ready and able to fight back no matter how hard the cyclist wants to work them. Thus this category of bike trainer provides what could be termed an 'exponential' increase in resistance - the harder you cycle the more difficult it gets.

A chart of the type of resistance that fluid trainers provide, you'll see an ever increasing slope that gets steeper and steeper the more the speed increases. So if you want to burn calories hardcore, a fluid trainer will give you that challenge.

Fluid trainers are really only for serious cyclists who aren't afraid to spend lots of money on cycling equipment and who know they will be using their trainers for high intensity workouts.


So there you go! A complete guide to how you can bicycle in the winter without leaving the safety and warmth of your home, and a guide to what kind of bike trainer is right for you!

Happy Cycling!

Critical Mass in Toronto

Want to socialize with other cyclists in Toronto and get exercise while doing it?

Go to the Critical Mass gatherings on the last Friday of every month. They meet at the corner of Bloor and Spadina and then bike around Toronto as one big group.

Check out the photos below of some past Critical Mass rides.

Bicycling your Way to Fitness

6 Minutes on your Bicycle per Day...

If you weigh between 160 to 170 lbs 6 minutes on a bicycle (cycling as fast as you can) burns 120 calories.

You are only cycling 20 mph (32 kmph), but in 6 minutes you've burned 120 calories... And when you realize you are only supposed to eat approx 2000 calories per day then that is 16.7% of your daily calories in JUST 6 MINUTES.

Now of course you don't need to be racing / going that fast. You could go at a more leisurely pace.

At 10 mph you burn 47 calories.

At 12 mph you burn 62 calories.

At 14 mph you burn 79 calories.

At 16 mph you burn 95 calories.

And this is just for someone who weighs 165 lbs. The more you weigh the more you burn when doing cardio because it takes more effort.

If you weigh 220 pounds the numbers go up dramatically!

10 mph for 6 minutes = 62 calories.
12 mph for 6 minutes = 84 calories.
14 mph for 6 minutes = 104 calories.
16 mph for 6 minutes = 126 calories.
20 mph for 6 minutes = 168 calories.

And its just for 6 minutes! Imagine if you bicycled at a leisurely 10 mph pace for 1 hour (bicycling 10 miles)... the total is 630 calories.

Go weigh yourself, visit the free calorie calculator at and then calculate how many calories you can lose just by cycling daily...

And then go bicycle every day for a month and see how much you lose.

For fun you can also take up fixing bicycles. Lose weight, fix bicycles, bicycle, save money on transportation, have fun!
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!


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