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VCB eNews, Vol 13, #18 - Everything Comes in Three




Volume 13, #18  -  Everything Comes in Three




Editorial: Everything Comes in Three

Clip or Clipless Pedals

Across the Highlands MTB Challenge

Loose Chain Links

About That Funny



“I've never come back from a winter biking outing and said "I'm sorry I went". It always turns out to be a good part of the day. ” 

~ Audrey Murphey, VCB 454





Already in the third week on February.  As the days get a little longer and thoughts turn to spring, come on out and start planning your 2016 cycling season. 


  1. Cycling Information Session on March 3rd from 7 - 9 pm at the Cape Breton Regional Library on Bentick St. in Sydney.  Three awesome subjects by the VCB founding President Chris Milburn:
    1. what is the optimal amount and speed of cycling for health benefits? (and how significant is exercise to health in general)
    2. how can you set up your bike to improve comfort and speed?
    3. some common cycling injuries and how to deal with them


Cycling is a great form of exercise.  Come on out to mingle with members of the local cycling community and get advice from a local physician and experienced cyclist.  Chris has been cycling serious distances for about 30 years, recreationally, competitively, and for transportation.  He is a local ER and family doctor with a focus on injury rehabilitation and sports medicine.  



  1. Ride Right.   During 3 x 3-hr outdoors sessions covering equipment, practical riding skills and defensive maneuvers to further enhance your cycling skills, your confidence and your fun to ride.  Sessions available FREE to Velo Cape Breton Members only, will be held from mid-April to mid-June.
    More information at:



  1. Lobster Roll Ride 2016.   Edition #5 of this highly popular event open to all cyclists from 3 to 103.  Three rides to suit your level of cycling.  Take one, take two or take all three and make this event your highlight of the season.
    Lobster Roll Ride will be based at the North Sydney Fire Station, 17 Pierce Street.  More information and registration coming shortly.








Question - I have recently started using clips. Would you recommend that I use them on the Cabot Trail tour or should I go without? 






Dear Emily,


Toe clips & straps, clipless pedals, cleats, etc,  this language is confusing.


Toe clips are these metal or plastic jigmajig that go over your foot; some are fitted with a strap to secure your foot on the pedal to allow a pull on the pedal from the bottom part of the rotation to the top.  Back then racing cyclists were bolting a grooved piece of metal or plastic to lock on the pedal body making pedaling more efficient.  Pedals with toe-clips are less and less used but there are people still using toe-clips (without the strap) to properly position the foot pedal.


By “clips” I believe you mean shoes with cleats that attach on clipless pedals.   Shimano SPDs is the most popular type for touring.   


If the cleats are adjusted for a natural position of the foot on the pedal, this will allow a most efficient position to pedal “round” or apply power over the full 360° of pedal rotation. 



Beginner cyclists naturally apply power on the pedal during the downstroke only, say from 1 to 5 ’o-clock or for about 120° of rotation.  This is a powerful stroke accompanied most times with an upper body up-&-down motion which is a waste of energy.  Pedal power can be applied during the remaining 240° using several other leg muscles to spread the effort and be more efficient.  


Emily, the tour starts in four months.  Here’s what you will do to train your legs to pedal “round”.  Important:  this can best be accomplished on your road/mountain bike or a stationary bike which allow you to momentarily stop pedaling while the wheel keeps turning; direct drive stationary bikes moving a flywheel will not work. 


Warm up at a comfortable speed and with a smooth pedaling cadence of between 80-85 rpm.  After 4 or 5 minutes, shift down to a harder gear to reduce your cadence to around 60 rpm.  Continue pedaling at the same speed and concentrate on the right leg for now.

  1. Pressing down from 1 to 5 o’clock is easy, it is your natural stroke.
  2. Now pull back at the bottom of the stroke as if you are scraping mud off your shoes.   Only this...  Scrape!… Scrape!… Scrape!… Scrape!…   If done properly, your cadence/speed will accelerate slightly.  after 5 to 8 pedal strokes, get back to 60 rpm, then...
  3. for 5 to 8 pedals strokes, think about kicking something up with your knee; this movement will bring your rotation from 7 to 11 o’clock.  Mentally say:  Up!... Up!... Up!... Up!…  You will see your cadence accelerate and your speed as well.  Slow your cadence back to 60 then...
  4. work on the 11 - 1 o’clock section by kicking your foot forward when passing the top of the stroke.  Kick!… Kick!… Kick!… Kick!….
  5. Continue pedaling now calling:  scrape - up - kick...  scrape - up - kick… scrape - up - kick...


Now shift to the other leg and do the same routine.


When you feel confident that you can do the full circle with power on the pedal, unclip one foot, take if off the pedal and continue pedaling with the other.  It need practice to do a smooth 360: stroke with no gap. 


This is a routine you should practice a lot…  I mean a lot.  A lot so that your leg muscles will develop that memory to do it all the time.  


What to do on a training ride?  Improve your leg work, think efficiency going uphill, riding with a headwind, keep a smooth pedal stroke on high gears on a down hill or with a tailwind   Only your legs should work, your upper body should be relaxed and focus at a straight line riding.  Striving to achieve the perfect pedaling technique is worth the time and energy, I promise! 


At the end of your training session, slow down to cool off.  As you prepare to stop, unclip your feet and roll down safely and use your brakes to a full stop.  You may have forgotten to unclip before stopping a couple of times already.  It is absolutely normal to hit the ground... and blush... while adopting the new routine of disconnecting the foot of feet off the pedals before coming to a full stop.


Yes, to answer your question, bring your new gear on the tour.  With the proper pedaling technique, your pedaling efficiency will bring you up the hills of the Cabot Trails with ease and fun. 


Does that answer your question?









In January, VCB divested the assets of AHC to Velo Club Cheticamp who are right in the middle of where the action is.  

To keep the tradition alive, this year’s event will be held on Saturday July 16th. 

Circle the date on your calendar.  Enter it on your Agenda.  

To quote my friend Tammy who was at the front end of the line, while I was at the back end sweeping…  “This is the most amazing and true mountain biking event in the Maritimes!”

More details coming soon.







After a hiatus of about 10 years working up my career, I got back to cycling on a real cheap bike keeping up with my friends on their custom made steed signed by Giuseppe Marinoni.  One day in April, I drove to Montreal and went to his shop to get one of these.  Peppe took my measurements and put my name on the production schedule.  $1900. delivery in mid-October….  ooops!  Drove back home in Quebec City with a bit of sadness as you can imagine.  One week later, I called Peppe to cancel my order.  Something I regret to this day.  That was in 1976.


That didn’t stop Peppe to develop his art at building custom bikes for the best cyclists in Canada and in the world.  An awesome story of a passionate legend of cycling that was put on film.  Marinoni, the fire in the frame will be presented at the Highlands Art Theatre this Saturday February 20th.   A must see!












Condoms don't guarantee safe sex anymore.

A friend of mine was wearing one when he was shot dead by the woman's husband.




February 18th,  2016



Velo Cape Breton is the island-wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great island. Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any question(s) or suggestion(s), please contact us

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