Cycling Newbie… And I thought I knew how to ride!

By Lisette Leveille, Toronto
In 2015, I went on a cycling vacation, spending 3 days riding in the Magdalen Island. This provided us with a different vacation experience and an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, other than the inline skating that we’ve been very fond of. The guided tour allowed us to enjoy the island, with the majority of the time with the winds in our back. Now, I’m looking forward to the next cycling trip.
In late 2015, I joined the Green Dot Riders at Deloitte, to cycle 200+ km fundraising for the Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. This is a personal challenge to both push my physical abilities and raise a minimum of $2500. Even though I’ve ridden a bike since I was a little girl, my biggest fear is to ride in a peloton of more than 2 people, keeping up the riding pace with so many cyclists of all ages and riding abilities. Certain days, I feel like thirty years old, but my body tells me otherwise.
Being part of the Green Dot Riders, we joined TD and RBC, as corporate guests in a private community called VitessX. The first riding information session with VitessX Founder Julien Papon and Cycling Professional Deidre Casey was an eye opener… They guided us on how important it is to be fitted on a bike to maximize the enjoyment of a ride, and reduce aches and pains. Leg extensions, pedaling cadence, position of arms and wrists on the handlebar, all kind of general information that at first sight might appear to be basic, but in fact there is much science behind it all. My initial thought was to have strong legs and everything should flow. How wrong was I! And so I chose to maximize the usage of VitessX, and truly expand my knowledge and riding skills abilities.
I booked my first clinical session assessment to be fitted for cycling shoes on my existing bike and also to better understand how much I don’t know about riding a bike. I owned a hybrid bike, well maintained, only 6 years old. I should be fine…right!! This is when I learned that I need to focus a lot more on the placement of my feet on the pedals to maximize my cadence energy, re-position myself on the saddle and build my core strength, and correct the position of my hands/wrists on the handlebar to minimize finger numbness and remove pain from my wrists and elbows. This has impressed my husband Ray, who, at time, is not easy to convince!
Fast forward a short time and my shoes arrived from Italy, dusting off the original pedal, and off I went to test the new shoes on my hybrid bike. I was warned… you will fall when you ride with cyclist shoes…and I did… several bruises to add under my belt! However I didn’t give up and I pursued in riding my bike, a great difference when I went riding 80km, just East of Toronto… But I had 2nd thought in changing my hybrid for a true road bike.
Which I did. Here I go to my 3rd visit at the Club House and proceeded with a VitessX Fit-to-Order bike. A first for VitessX at the time… a bike that is not a Vitess!!…I’m such a newbie! Measurement completed, fitted on the fit-cycle bike, VitessX ordered the bike. A brand new monocoque carbon fibre frame from DeVinci arrived 5 days later, and I picked it up just in time for the VitessX Riding Event on April 30th. I can’t talk enough of the amount of details and attention that Julien and his team put into the assessment to make sure that the products will benefit and improve MY riding experience. This, in my opinion, is an extreme value that is difficult to find in a regular shop. That one discomfort that you believe is normal can be all the difference in truly enjoying your ride. I recommend this service to anyone.
The April 30th ride was a great difference from the previous week’s ride. OK, I may not have been in the first rows of the peloton, nor was I the last. That was not the intent. It gave me an opportunity to test and play with a new gear system, and to push myself in pursuing my riding colleagues. No tingling in my fingers, no elbow joint discomfort… Now I just need to concentrate in building my core strength, and to improve and maximize my cadence. One pedal push at a time, I will be ready for the Ride to Conquer in June.
VitessX provided me with other workshops that I attended in the past few months, and will continue to do so in the future. This is a great Club to not only expand my knowledge on cycling performance, but also to meet other riders who have all the same passion. Who’s coming for a ride!!
[editor’s update: Lisette (and her husband Ray) have not only become full-fledged VitessX members, but they are also now the proud owners of Vitess Made-to-Order bikes. A very special his&hers combo equipped with electrical shifting and carbon fibre wheels, all wrapped up in bespoke colours (metallic green for Ray, high-gloss orange for Lisette), and of course complemented by matching helmets: the perfect rides!]


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