Saturday, June 30, 2012


As some of you may know the Morning Glory Cycling Club was pulled over on a group ride recently and told that they were in violation of the Toronto by-law stating that cyclists must ride single file. The MGCC was told that if they were found riding 2 or more abreast in the future, the riders would be fined.
The MGCC and I have been doing some digging: While there is nothing in the Highway Traffic Act stopping cyclists from riding side-by-side, it is against city bylaws.
Since that incident, I’ve been working with Dan Egan and Christina Bouchard (both of whom work for the city in Cycling Infrastructure and Programs Transportation Services on the best way of getting this bylaw dropped from the books.
Dan and I worked together on the recent Coroner's panel on Cycling death in Ontario. He’s a very good guy. Dan thinks our best bet on getting this law changed is to email the City’s by-law working group. As Dan pointed out to me "The Coroner has sent a letter to the City identifying Recommendation 9 as something the City should address”. Coroner’s recommendation 9 suggests the City do a “comprehensive review of ... City by-laws... to ensure they are consistent and understandable with respect to cycling and cyclists and therefore easier to promote and enforce."
The city now has now formed a working group to review the city's cycling-related by-laws. Several of the panel members in this working group are very sympathetic to this issue. Christina Bouchard (one of the members of this working group) has kindly offered to collect any letters sent on this issue and bring the letters to the group’s attention.
Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Ms. Bouchard (
Dear Ms. Bouchard,
I would very much appreciate it if you would pass on the concerns outlined below to the cycling bylaw working group.
I have reviewed Toronto’s cycling bylaws (as found at: and several of the existing bylaws are of particular concern to those of us who use our bikes for training and competition as well as commuting. As you are probably aware, there has been a marked increase in recent years in the number of road cyclists and triathletes who use City roads not only for commuting, but also for training. This is consistent with the general growth in popularity of road cycling across Canada. Indeed, a recent article in the Globe and Mail (reported reports that the growth rate is in the 10% range and commented that Canadian road cyclist Ryder Hesjedal’s recent victory in the Giro d’Italia is likely to contribute to the continued popularity and growth of this sport:
In particular, I would like to draw the working group’s attention to the following 2 by-laws:
1) No person shall operate a bicycle upon a roadway other than by riding in single file except when overtaking another vehicle.
2) No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebars
As any cycling club will tell you- riding single file increases (not decreases) the risk to cyclists. A group of cyclists needs more room on the road than an individual cyclists in order to avoid the usual road hazards as well as the cyclists in front or behind them. For this reason- The only safe way for a car to pass a large group of cyclists is to switch lanes. Riding single file adds to the temptation of car drivers to attempt to pass the group without changing lanes, which is not a safe way to pass a larger group of cyclists.
When a group of cyclists claim the lane and ride two or more abreast- it increases their safety in several ways:
1) It sends a clear message to drivers that they must switch to another lane in order to safely pass the group
2) By riding 2 or 3 abreast, the length of the group is shortened by ½ to 2/3, making it far quicker and easier for motorists to pass the group.
As any experienced group cyclist will tell you, Riding in formation with 2 or more cyclists abreast is a standard safety procedure performed by any large group of cyclists. This procedure is so well established that the various formations cyclists use (which are dependent on the wind direction and the speed of the group) have a universally used set of names and the same formations are used by cycling clubs throughout the world (see the following websites for some examples of the formations use):
I should also add that group cycling is supported by the cycling safety research, which shows that increasing the density of cyclists improves their overall safety. Researchers refer to this as the “safety in numbers effect” (
I am also concerned about the bylaw preventing cyclists from carrying any “article” that prevents them from keeping both hands on the handlebars at all times. Presumably, this means it is against the law for cyclists to remove a hand from their handlebar to eat and drink while on their bikes. There is no evidence that eating and drinking while riding is unsafe and as someone who drives a car and rides a bike. I can say that it is at least as safe for me to eat and drink on my bike as it is in my car.
For these reasons, I believe the bylaws noted above should be dropped.
Chris Cavacuiti
Staff Physician, Department of Family and Community Medicine
St Michael's Hospital
Toronto, ON
M4X 1K2

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Welland Half Race Report: another half iron beats me up!

WOW, that was super fun, then sucked really bad, then was fun again.....!

That is how I would describe my Welland Half Iron Experience this past weekend. I was gun shy coming into the event because I have never really been able to nail a half iron distance event before. For some reason the wheels (or sneakers) fall off every time I do one. Given I have done about 20 of these that speaks to how much I just can't figure it out!

Race morning I ate my oatmeal, banana, maple syrup and coffee and then hit the road sipping my bottle of Powerbar Perform. More on this later....

As I arrived the sun was shining, the wind was calm, and some familiar faces abound. Nigel Gray's formative NRGPT crew were there and I teased my old coach about my goal for the day: arrive within 30 minutes of his finish-:) My more serious race plan was to:
  1. test my race day nutrition
  2. get out of swim in good shape up front
  3. ride conservative until Jim Sunners caught me
  4. ride with Jim (LEGALLY!) 
  5. Run hard and fast
Checking previous races I figured a PB was a real possibility given the flat course and shaded run. I was looking at 4:20 to 4:23 as a really good goal to hit.

Swim: I parked myself beside Nigel as in other races we have exited together. Behind me was Andrew Boldon whom I exited with in Woodstock and Binbrook triathlons. The gun went off and Nigel was gone. Humbling moment #1! Then I felt water all in my arms and across my back inside my wetsuit. I was concerned there was a hole, or the zipper wasn't done up correctly. I was making calls in my head "do i hit the shore and take this off and jump back in or will it drain with my lightning speed!?" As we hit the first bouy and turned I felt the water draining. Not sure what it was all about but I will test the good 'ol HWY 19 suit this coming weekend in Lake Placid camp for sure. After my head cleared of all the doubts of sinking with water in my suit, I found a great pair of feet to draft from the remainder of the swim. Sure enough as I exited Andrew was on my feet. It looked like Jakub Macel, me, and Andrew plus a top female swimmer made a good group and my marker man Nigel was 30 seconds out already. Overall I was quite pleased with my swim and felt generally comfortable throughout.

T1: My goal was to be quick and for me I was! Most of my competitors were only a few seconds faster vs. the usual 30 to 45. I felt good and things were thus far on track. Once I hopped onto my bike and tried to get into my bike shoes a gap to Jakub and Andrew occured. I was watching how good they get into their shoes and how absolute crap I get into mine! Humbling moment #2!

Bike: I tricked out my Cervelo P3 for speed and therefore had no power meter or HR monitor to measure the effort. I was racing *naked* for the first time in years. I had the Zipp 808 front wheel and Mavic Disc on the back. No spare tube or extra weight. Just flat out speed. Once I gathered myself and got going I ate 1/4 a powerbar at the 5,10,15, and 20KM marker and by 30K had drank a bottle of Powerbar Perform. At 35, 55, 75, and the end of the bike leg 90K markers I took a Powergel. Overall on the bike I drank 3 bottles and took an extra 2 Salt Stick tablets to top up electrolyte reserves plus the 4 gels, and 1 bar. I felt good about my nutritional plan but looking back that is probably too much. That is about a 10% carb to fluid concentration and simply too high.

At about 10K I caught back up to Andrew and we rode legally (no drafting) together for 20K. I let up to have him pass and said we should trade leads every few KMs and keep the tempo high. For a young kid he was pretty impressive to hear out the tactic and play along. I'm impressed with this young guy, he has talent and smarts about him. I was also thinking how long until Jim comes through. My plan was not to push pace till he caught us, assess how hard he was riding and decide if I should tag on or not. Jim caught the two of us just before the 35K marker and it wasn't hard to stay close. I drifted to the back of he and Andrew and assessed how hard the riding was and can I sustain for 60K. It didn't feel that bad so I laid back there (LEGAL) for quite a while. Lets face it, even if we ride legal in triathlons it is still easier than up front so I let Jim take lead!

As the marshals came by they gave me the thumbs up then went forward and handed Andrew a drafting penalty. I have to say, it was the right call BUT he was caught in a time when he was drafting. He was, for most part, quite legal all day. That's racing, I felt bad for him.  As the KMs passed by and the only hill all day reared its head I made the call the spin past Andrew through the hill and bullet down the other side. As that happened Jim gapped us so I had to chase really hard to get up to him. Once I did I looked back and Andrew was dropped. We now had 25K to go and it was Jim and I rolling along at a really, really good clip. With 10K to go I passed Jim. He must have been resting a bit because I was not changing effort and a few K later he passed me and that is how we rolled into to T2. I was feeling really, really confident as the ride was up tempo and I put hard efforts in. My legs felt great, my mind was fresh. It was game on! I came off the bike 6th overall.

Run: I was running without a watch and had no idea what my pace was. I was keeping Jim's gap steady and could see Jakub up ahead as well. I was loving my New Balance 1440s courtesy of New Balance Toronto and feeling confident in the progress being made.  My diaphram started to cramp so I stopped to pee at 2K and things really felt great after that. The next few aid stations I jammed back some coke and water and was feeling controlled. I wasn't gaining but I wasn't losing either. I knew a few folks were flying behind and I would get caught but was feeling good. I was passed by one racer at 7K, another at 10K but then I could see Jakub walking and was like "right, catch him and were back in this". I pushed a bit and that is when the wheels (ur, sneaks!) fell right off. My stomach locked right up and my ab muscle went into spasm just like Hawaii last year. I was really bloated and started the run/walk approach. I tried a Salt Stick to get electrolytes into me but that just made it worse. I tried gulping fluids but that made it worse! Soon I was from 8th place to 12th. I battled and hoped I could come around and knock out a solid final 5K to hold onto to top 10. As I hit 15K I was definitely in trouble. My run walk went like this:
  • run 90 strides; walk 20
  • then run 65 strides; walk 15
  • then run 50 strides; walk 15
Finally after I dropped out of top 20 I mailed it in at a pace that kept the cramping bearable. Probably 10 minute mile pace at best.

Finish: 4:38 and change with a 1:51 run. I was hoping to run 1:30-1:32 and get that 4:20 barrier. That's racing.

Congrat's to Nigel on his 4:01 finish and win. He makes it look so easy!! Congrat's to all the racers, Andrew Boldon for jumping into the half iron distance at 20 and really gutting it out. Jim Sunners for his fast 3rd place overall finish, and of course thanks to all the volounteers and organizers and community of Welland.  Last, again major thanks to John Salt and his team. They put on AMAZING races and by FAR, have the BEST apres race buffet with Recharge with Chocolate Milk, and HERO BURGER!

After thought: Complete overhaul of my nutrition plan is already in play. Steps to include:
  1. gluten free again into my next race and test how that works out
  2. no oatmeal breakfasts. Works for cycling yes, not for running off the bike
  3. at Lake Placid camp this weekend I will test run two different breakfast plans that consist of breakfast and racing mostly on fluids.
The one consistent to all my stomach issues is my breakfast. I always have an oatmeal breakfast. I really hope it is that simple!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Words of thanks for Binbrook Tri and Ride for Ilijia


I've too damn tired to post. Yes, that is how I know I am doing the work for Ironman! Today's post has two updates.

First the Binbrook triathlon 2 weeks ago. Rain greeted us in the morning but the temperatures were warm so for me, I was happy. I could care less if it rains so long as it is warm, it is the cold I can't stand! Familiar faces greeted me again in Eon Dornellas and Steve Fleck over the PA and I got down to thinking of the task at hand.  I wrote down learnings from the Woodstock triathlon and pulled them out for one last read through. Things like "better transition" and "read course map" were very clear in my mind but other more subtle changes were in the mix to. At Woodstock I could not get over my gear and I felt like I was leaning into something on my seat vs. on top of my seat on the bike. I adjusted the saddle for/aft position over a few interval rides (for/aft = angle of saddle) in between the two races and felt dialed in. Come race day it made a big difference. I also wrote down "surge" in my race notes. By that I meant to put in some surges on the run to test my speed. Otherwise the game plan was the same; swim hard, bike hard, and try to run sub 30 minutes for 7.5K.

Swim and bike: Andrew Bolton and I again exited the swim together after I had an awful start (again) and a choppy swim across the top of the reservoir. For the first time in 14 years at this sport I stepped on a large rock as I stood up in the water! That bloody hurt!! Andrew pipped me out of transition but I was still on much better footing than Woodstock with my in & out of T1. Out onto the bike Andrew proceeded to ride a minute into me out on the road. Jim Sunners, Francois Cote, and Andrew Buzzell passed me on the bike so I was in 5th coming into T2. I did keep them within 20 seconds throughout the final 10K and felt pretty good coming into transition. Andrew Buzzell in particular was very impressive on the bike and watching Francois run out of transition I realized his 30 years was going to trump my 41. So I focused on Andrew to start.

Run: I hopped out of T2 in my New Balance 1440s (which I LOVE!) and felt far more snap in my legs than I did in Woodstock. The run was a mix of winding grass trail and an out and back road section. Catching Buzzell was a morale boost and closing in on Jim gave me hope for a podium. I decided to put in a surge to pass Jim on an uphill and was feeling pretty good. My diaphragm cramps were lingering and while I felt I could run faster, I had to keep that in check. At the turn around I saw a fast, fast flying Brandon Habermehl charging toward me. I did math and thought to stay with him when he comes. Not a chance!! He flew by me! I tried a surge at the next hill and my side stitch that had been lingering below my diagram decided it was time to say HI! I tried the breathing techniques and slowed down, finally stopping a top the reservoir dam with about 750M to go. Suddenly I was worried about Jim catching me! Finally the stitch passed and I was able to run home for a 4th overall finish. Immediately I took off my shoes as the rock I stood on was now a swollen contusion on the arch of my foot! It was quite painful I have to admit and didn't really subside for 5 days after.

Overall Binbrook has a great race vibe and again the Multisport Canada team put on a safe race with a real community vibe to it. I really love this series. It feels more home than others and the people seem far more friendly and outgoing.

Binbrook Results:

The second update is the Ride for Ilijia Petrovski. Ilijia was a main stay on the Ontario Master riding circuit. A multiple provincial Time Trail champion, great patron of the Ontario Peleton, and deep family man.  I always respected how Ilijia carried himself in the group. I talked a lot more with his team mates in the group, Kevin Davis, Brian Kelly etc. just out of where we usually are in the peleton but Ilijia was always there smiling and passionate about our great sport. Unfortunately he crashed this past winter. His injuries severe from head trauma. So, his friends and family put on a charity 100K ride to raise funds for his health care that OHIP does not cover to the tune of $75/day*365= $27,375 a year.  Ilijia was the family bread winner and recently left his TSN job to be a full time cycling coach so money was needed to keep him in good hands, and his family in decent financial position.

My team mate Cary volounteers with the Share the Road campaign and called Brian Kelly up to offer their services in putting the ride on. What went from a small charity ride and BBQ turned into a LARGE ride and BBQ! What transpired last week exemplified everything that is right about cycling. 300 people turned up and raised close to $50,000. Then 3 anonymous donors matched that and over $100,000 was raised for Ilijia's family. Some days I am really proud to call myself a cyclist. This was one of those days. The riding was hard, driving fast stuff that Ilijia would be proud of. Thanks to all that volounteered, participated, and shared the road to make it possible.

Tomorrow is the Welland Half Iron-distance event. I absolutely suck at this distance. I hope to pull one out of the hat and right some more next week!

Till then, ride safe my friends.