Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Team Profile: Meet Staying Alive Fitness!

A partnership between a fitness club and the RONA MS Bike Tours seemed like the perfect fit to Ray Vander Kooij, a longtime member of Staying Alive Fitness in Acton, Ontario.

Staying Alive had pledged Ray, Senior Pastor at Bethel Christian Reformed Church, in his fundraising efforts for the past two years. For 2010, he approached the club about the possibility of a greater partnership. With the support and enthusiasm of club manager Leanne, the gym used its member email list to promote the RONA MS Bike Tours, provided cycling jerseys to team members, and held special extended spinning classes to help cyclists prepare for the ride.

The Staying Alive Fitness team, which raised an incredible $10,391 in 2010, is now made up of a mixture of church and gym members. Awarded the title of Best New Team in 2010, they were also recognized for recruiting the most event volunteers.

"The support of Staying Alive Fitness has been a great way to connect people in the community together for a very worthwhile cause," says Ray. "It’s developed into a true partnership to end MS."

Want to share your experience? Leave us a ‘wall post’ on Facebook or a ‘tweet’ on Twitter! Your story could be featured in our next blog post!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Maintenance Tip: Tires and Air Pressure Basics

This article was written by Amanda Beattie and originally published on January 27, 2011 at Photo by Derek Frankowski.

They’re one of the most important pieces of your bike: your tires. When they work as they’re supposed to, they can make your ride feel like a dream. But when they fail, tires can become a nightmare.

Back to basics

There are three basic types of tires. The most common is the clincher, a tire that uses an inner tube and has a Kevlar or wire bead that hooks into the rim when inflated. The second type of tire is a tubular. Used on road and cyclocross bikes, these tires are literally glued to the tubular-specific rim and then inflated. Finally, there are tubeless tires which are most commonly found on mountain bikes, but are gaining popularity on the road. These are tires that run without a tube or glue, instead, working in tandem with the purpose-built rims to create a seal. Tubeless tires also are coated with a sealant to decrease chances of punctures.

Weigh(t) your options

All three come with pros and cons. Clinchers are the most commonly used because of their simplicity and low cost. The downside is more rotational weight and the likelihood of pinch flats.

Tubulars shave weight by not requiring a tube, tire bead or lip on the rim. They have better traction since the tire and rim are completely sealed and therefore more efficient as you never have the tire slipping on the rim while braking or accelerating. On the downside, unless you have a team car behind you, you’ll have to carry an entire spare tire with you at all times rather than a lightweight inner tube. Chances are, a flat while riding a tubular means walking home or calling for a ride.

Tubeless tires have the ability to be run with very low tire pressures, allowing for excellent traction and very low risk of pinch flats. The downside to a tubeless tires is setup. It takes time to ensure that tires are properly seated and the necessary sealant can be messy to work with. But tubeless tires can also take an inner tube. So if you do flat in the woods or on the back roads, it’s relatively simple to get up and running.

Feeling the pressure

The most important piece of day to day maintenance on your bike is tire pressure. Nearly every manufacturer prints a recommended tire pressure range on the sidewall of the tire for easy reference. Generally, on every high pressure clincher, tubeless or tubular tire, you want to check your air pressure every other day depending on how often you ride. On a low pressure clincher tire, such as what you have on your mountain bike, you can usually get away with checking a little less often - once a week is a good place to start.

On the road, a higher pressure is a benefit as the firmer the tire, the less rolling resistance you get. On rough terrain, higher pressure can actually be a detriment as you bounce over obstacles rather than rolling, but running tires too low can greatly increase your risk of getting a flat.

If you’re riding just for pleasure, stick to a clincher tire. For ease of use and affordability, they can’t be beat. If you’re racing, look at what your priorities are. Do you want reliability or performance? How technical are you? What is your budget? If in doubt, ask your local bike shop. They’ll be familiar with where you’re riding and can make recommendations based on the type of riding you do.

Not handy when it comes to bike maintenance? Don’t worry! MS Friendly Bike Shops offer free inspections to all participants of the RONA MS Bike Tour.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fundraising Tip: Be Creative!

A couple of weeks ago we encouraged you to get your fundraising started early. Have you?

Excellent, that’s exactly what we like to hear. You’re probably on your way to becoming a Top Fundraiser already!

But just in case a couple of you haven’t started or need a little extra help, here are a five more tips to help you meet your fundraising goal:

Be excited and positive about your involvement. Create an online fundraising page with pictures and your updated training progress.

Follow-up with the people you ask. With our Online Fundraising System you can easily send out a reminder email to donors who have not yet pledged.

Take advantage of company matching programs. Talk to your boss or HR department to find out if your company has a matching program and remind your donors to do this too. It could double your fundraising total!

Be creative with your fundraising. You could have a draw at work for donations of over $20 or invite people to a fundraising dinner at your home. Contact the MS Society office if you need more ideas or help with your own.

Let your donors know where their money is going and that they are making a difference. Three people in Canada are diagnosed with MS every day. Funds raised from the Tours go toward supporting research and client services. Visit for the latest research news.

Procrastination may seem like the easiest next step. But trust us, participants who start fundraising early raise more money overall and get more out of the tours!

Have another great tip to share? Leave us a ‘wall post’ on Facebook or a ‘tweet’ on Twitter! You never know, your tip might even be included in our next blog post!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Maintenance Tip: Show Your Bike Some TLC

This article was written by Amanda Beattie and originally published on November 17, 2010 at Photo by David McLain.

There is nothing worse than getting a random beautiful day at the end of the winter that feels like spring, but your bike is in too rough of shape to ride. At that moment you realize you should have taken some time to show it some TLC. Instead, you end up kicking yourself as you clean your bike while all your buddies go out for a spin.

Keep in mind that the winter is the slow season at a bike shop. If your bike needs an overhaul, now is the perfect time to bring it in. If you’re riding full suspension and your shock or fork needs work, most shops will have to send them back to the manufacturer for cleaning and to install new seals in order to maintain your warranty. During the spring, that wait can be upwards of a couple months, but in the winter, your bike should be ready in a few weeks.

If you prefer to do the maintenance yourself, now is a good time to pull the bike apart for a solid scrub down. Pull off your chain and cassette and give them a good soak. Remember, replace your chain on a regular basis to extend the life of your cassette.

Check your brake pads for wear because running them down to the nubs could damage your rims or your rotors. Pull off your cranks and bottom bracket and give them a thorough inspection. If you’re noticing wear, now is a good time to reorder the part you really want, not the one you settle for because it’s in stock. Pull out all of your cables and housing. Check for any corrosion on the cables. If you see any, replace them now before they start to get sticky. When you reinstall, make sure everything is dry. Even a bit of moisture could cause rust to form within the housing, making the entire bike feel gummed up.

Put a drop of lube on the cable right where it enters the housing. As you engage the brakes and gears, the lube will work its way through the housing and coat the cables for a bit of added protection against moisture.

Finally, give the whole bike a nice wipe down and polish. It’s a good opportunity to check for cracks in the frame. If you find any, winter is the best time to shop for a bike since the stores are fairly quiet and the new inventory is coming in for the spring season. If not, now your bike is beautiful and shiny and ready for you to sit and look at on those cold winter days. Plus, now it’s waiting for a clear day that’s perfect for a ride. Just check your air pressure and go.

Not handy when it comes to bike maintenance? Don’t worry! MS Friendly Bike Shops offer free inspections to all participants of the RONA MS Bike Tour.
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