A New Spin on Things

This weekend, apart from successfully posting on the weekend, at a time in which I wasn’t even near an internet connection, my computer, my house, or any way in which to reach out and click ‘publish’, I actually got out and biked. 

I know… you’re shocked.  And I don’t blame you – I haven’t been very good at the focusing on the goal part of things the past week or so… my poor bike has been sitting sadly in my garage, rather like the bike in those bran cereal commercials.  However, this weekend, I did more than just stare at my bike.  I started off staring at it and the bike-rack that worked so very well on my van, but that looked kind of ridiculous and unsafe when we finally adjusted it so that it fit on my car.  The only way we could adjust it left the things you hang your bike on hovering right about palm-height… when I have my arms straight up over my head.  The tops of the bikes would have been about two feet above the roof of my car.  I might have to buy a bike-rack in the near future.  We packed the bikes in the car instead.

A quick note on taking the front wheel off your bike:  This isn’t something I thought was necessary to clarify, but I was proven wrong this weekend.  The thing you need to know about taking your front wheel off your bike is this:  Deflating the tire to get it out from between the brakes is never the solution!  Bikes are designed so that you don’t need additional tools (like a bike pump) when you go to put the wheel back on.  Google how to do it for your particular type of brakes, or check out bicycletutor.com for some good videos and explanations. 

We spent the weekend biking between wineries in the Niagara on the Lake wine region.  They had an event set up in which you bought a ticket and went to the 26 wineries of Niagara on the Lake, and they gave you a sample of wine and a food that they’d created to go with it.  We did all 26 wineries in two days, though we didn’t bike to all of them on the second day, for reasons that I will explain further on. 

Biking was glorious – and definitely what I needed to remind me that biking outdoors is a thousand times better/more fun/less sauna-like than doing a spin class.  That is one of the things I struggle with the most – I love biking, really, I do.  But, after a whole winter of walking-as-my-primary-exercise, the idea of getting on my bike is hugely intimidating.  I have trouble thinking of it as anything other than a ‘do exercise’ type device until I’m actually on it and remember how very NOT like running or doing a spin-class it is.  The major advantage that being on a bike outdoors has, compared to being on a stationary bike or running:  you can glide!  On downhills or flat places, when you want to just watch the scenery, when you want to grab a sip of water, whenever!  You can glide … and you can go really really fast without expending a huge amount of energy.  And it is glorious.

The first day, M, A, B and I made it to 14 wineries – we got to try an assortment of reds whites and ice wines, with an assortment of chicken, beef, pork,  shrimp and vegetarian appetisers to go along with them. 

This was M’s first time riding a bike for at least four years – she hadn’t even been sure where it was stored before this weekend.  She is, however, very hardcore into exercising and does a lot of running, so I wasn’t at all worried about bringing her along for an epic biking trip.  After all – none of us had ridden since the fall.

For that reason, I wasn’t terribly concerned when, while M was leading the pack on the way home, she slowed down a bit – it’s been a long day of riding, no worries, everyone’s tired.  And then she slowed down some more.  And then slowed down again.  Um… k… we’re going less than 15 kph at this point, this is kind of slow, but I figured, no-one else was commenting on this, so maybe they were more tired than me.  She pulled over, then, and announced that she absolutely had to stop. 

Note about biking in general: If it hurts so much that it is causing uncontrollable tears to stream down your face… you should have stopped a while ago!  In fact, if it hurts a lot, you should stop… or slow down… or modify what you are doing… regardless of the sport you are participating in!  “No Pain, No Gain” = LIES.

Yup… M biked for about half an hour (with all the rest of us unaware of it) with a steady stream of tears falling down her face.  Was it because she wasn’t as fit as us?  Nope… it was because she has knee damage from her soccer-playing youth that meant that one of her knee caps is sitting a bit off, and was grinding against her leg bones.  And so, somewhere around the 40 km mark, her knee started to hurt more than a general mild-discomfort, and it started hurting so much that she was crying.  And then she kept pedalling anyways.  Why?  Because she didn’t want to ruin the ride back for the rest of us, and she didn’t want to appear wimpy.

For all future exercise-ey plans I have with her, I will be checking in more regularly with her health status, because she is clearly not competent to make the ‘stop before you hurt yourself’ judgement call.

B and A biked back to the hotel, picked up a car, and came back to pick up M and her bike.  In the time it took them to do all that, we continued towards the hotel, walking, as it wasn’t something that caused M’s knee to shoot pain.  Impressively, we walked about 5 km like this, including a fairly steep hill.  That’d be the pink part on the map. 

The map:  the route that starts at the SW corner of the map (at our hotel) is our Saturday route.  dotted lines are just dotted so that you can still see the ‘going there’ line that is underneath it.

I biked from M’s pickup point back to the hotel, partly because I’d been enjoying biking so much, and partly because I felt like I was copping out on the whole bike plan, if I were to get into the car and go home as well.  I might be stubborn, but know this: I will stop doing ANY activity looooong before the pain brings me to tears.

On the second day, we started off driving to some of the wineries where we’d liked the wine a lot, to pick up a bottle or two.  We also stopped at the Ice house in order to get ice wine slushies… because ice wine slushies just sound too amazing to miss out on, and they ran out on Saturday. 

We drove some of the wineries with a longer distance between them, and then parked one car and B, A and I rode the remaining wineries from there.  M drove and met us at the wineries, taking the extra time she had to tour about and see a bit more of the countryside. 


Saturday – glorious sun the entire time we were biking, and some spectacular sun-burns on half our group.

Distance Biked: 50 km

Distance Walked with bike: 5 km

Sunday – briefly threatened to rain, but never acted on it – kind of nice to bike with cloudy/chill weather.

Distance Biked: 27 km

Distance Walked with Bike: only a few walks across roads that were crazy-busy.

Pictures will come sometime tonight or tomorrow – I got back home after dinner in NOTL at about 8:30, and was in bed before 10pm… my camera is somewhere in the things I unloaded from my car, but certainly hasn’t been emptied yet.  My legs feel surprisingly well, considering all the biking we did – apparently all the walking I’ve done this winter has helped maintain some kind of leg muscle!  No cycling tonight, but tomorrow will happen, either spin class or actual biking.



  1. Very proud of you! Sounds like fun.

  2. It sounds like a beautiful route! I wish I had wineries on my book route. But then that would be trouble…I might not be able to get back on my bike 🙂

    • that was the advantage of the wine-and-food thing… they gave you a sample of wine (or more than one), but they also gave you something to soak up the alcohol. I also definitely drank more water than I usually would for that length of ride. I filled up my waterbottle at alot of the wineries. Some of the wineries gave us recipes as well, so i’m really looking forward to trying the recipes and serving a wine or two that I picked up!

  3. I’d hop on a bike if wineries were the destination – sounds like fun. You get exercise AND you get to sample good wines and food. Win/win!

    • It was definitely a great motivator to get out on our bikes! And it had the advantage of giving us lots of breaks, since it was our first big ride in quite some time.

  4. Sounds quite fun! I love riding my bike and an avid spinner. We just purchased a refurbished spinning gym bike. The Star Trac Spinner NXT and I love it because I can ride at night and I don’t have to worry about the kids (5 & 7) on the road. Besides, you need to be a kick butt cyclist to ride around our neighborhood, it’s nothing but crazy/long hills. I need to build up before attemtping the road. We have crazy cycling teams/groups that will run you down…

    I would find sampling wine would make me too drowsy on a bike ride and dehydrated. We did see others doing this when we camped near Sonoma (big wine area in California) it was too HOT! I thought they were crazy! Hopefully, the weather was perfect for you! You mentioned clouds and cooler weather. Perfect!

    Lake Forest, CA USA

    • it was nice – pretty warm, but not warm enough that biking became a hassle. And then cloudy and cool on teh second day, which was even more ideal, since the others had failed in the sunscreen process on saturday, and were sporting some pretty interestingly patterned burns.
      My area is pretty flat, which is great for biking, but not so great for training to do hills and things. You’d be surprised at how quickly you’d get into the swing of things biking all the hills in your area – with gear-changing, you can get most of the way up a hill (depending on its’ size) before you’re really straining and fighting.
      I love the idea of doing a biking wine tour in california – though maybe really early spring or late fall, to avoid being broiled to death in the heat! I’ve heard that the wineries there are much more spread out, though, which would definitely add to the challenge. Many of the wineries that we went to, we could see the next winery as we were pulling out of the driveway of the previous one, or it was a less than a half-hour ride between the wineries. It made for a nice pace with lots of breaks 🙂

  5. Glad you were able to get out for a bike ride. I did a 20-mile mountain bike leg of a relay race this weekend.

    Deflating your front tire to get it past the brake? No offense, but people actually do that?? If you have cable-pull/v-brakes you should easily be able to release them. They should splay wide open and give you plenty of room to clear the tire. Road bikes usually have a release lever on the side of the compact brake mechanisim that will do the same. Disk need to adjustment to the brakes but don’t squeeze the brake lever while the tire is off or the brake pads will move too close together to get the disk back in…unless you have the special wedge-tool handy to get them spaced apart again. Easy peesey. Beats having to have to put air back in that tire once it is back on.

    • I was pretty shocked when my very-intelligent-and-handy friend explained how she’d gotten her front wheel off to fit it in her car. Even if you aren’t sure how to do it… google and youtube videos will help you to avoid deflating your tire! I especially like the release on some of the road bikes – you just twist a catch and the entire system loosens off – you don’t even have to re-clip anything, just twist the catch back to ‘closed’.
      a mountain biking relay race would be really fun! I’m going to have to check in my area and see if there’s anything like that to do 🙂 I have a mountain bike and just have two sets of tires – a heavy-duty mountain biking set and then a set that works on roads (and doesn’t make the awful angry wasp noise that heavy mountainbiking tires make on asphalt).

  6. Good for you! This sounds like so much fun. The Niagara region of Ontario is just gorgeous. I haven’t been there since I was a teenager and I’d love to go back. A bike tour would be the best way to explore as well. I don’t know that I am quite up to 50 km yet!

    Sadly, I admit I haven’t pulled out my bike in years. I had these plans to take it out with my dog but it hasn’t happened yet. At first I had the excuse that she was too wild to trust on leash. That doesn’t really hold up anymore. You have inspired me to want to dust it off this year! That is, if summer ever comes.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures!

    • It’s hard to do the first ride… and hten you get back on your bike and remember how fun it is! But i’ll likely still feel guilty about going for a bike ride instead of doing something that Gwynn could join in on (not for long bikerides anyways!), since I’m already away at work during the day.

  7. TheIdiotSpeaketh

     /  June 1, 2011

    I want a real bike! I wanna glide!! 🙂

    • You should definitely give real-biking a go – just don’t try gliding with the stationary, it won’t be a smooth ride down the stairs!

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