Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Imagine if as voters we had as many good choices in any level of government that Steve Yzerman and his crew had when selecting Team Canada.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Source of Energy

I witnessed the exchange of at least a dozen Snuggies (4 million sold in 3 months) or their clones the Slanket, the Nuddle, the Cozies, the Cuddlies (who knows how many more!) over the holidays. Across North America there is a new, cheap source of electric power. Just hook up a battery and every time grandma heads off to the kitchen or bathroom the static discharged by the removal of the 'blanket with sleeves' could power a tv through the next commercial break. Better yet, we could power up all those Slap Chops into Zap Chops. The next twist in the viral blanket market is expected to be 'team' Snuggies, I can't wait for the Bears version. When the Leafs Snuggie comes out they'll have to open a new factory solely to produce enough cheap blue fabric to keep up, we can just forget about wind, solar and hydro-electric power. Save the Norwesters, buy your neighbour a Snuggie and a case of beer.

I went to Petrie's early this morning and assisted in the making of two new wheels for Molly. Gone are the rusting, heavy, steel rimmed originals. Now with aluminum rims, new hubs and spokes she'll be more reliable, lighter and have brakes that work. Time to strip off all the components and give her some new paint.

Had a nice dinner with Mike, Mel and the Merciers last night. Then went back to their place to witness the miracle in Chicago on the high-def big screen. Me in my Payton jersey amongst a family of Viking fans. It worked, guess I'll have to wear one for every game.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas '09

Another Christmas is upon us, complete with snow, rain and wind. Sal is busy making cabbage rolls for supper tonight. No not the M&M heat 'em ups, the boiling and rolling real deal. There's even a special batch with caraway seeds for me. I think I'm going to keep that girl.

Our Christmas Eve plans were altered slightly by the weather. Instead of making the trek to Blake Hall (the big gym as Ginko calls it) we all rerouted to my sister's place. Everyone had a great time, especially all the little kids who just don't get together often enough. Thanks for saving Christmas sis! The two hams in the pic were inseparable all night.

Fingers and toes are crossed around town hoping that flights will come in today as Mike & Mel are scheduled to arrive this afternoon. Spending the day in an airport would really be a downer.

I'm all set for cold weather walking or riding, Sal got me a sweet hat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Honey, It's Mr. Ballard

A 15km ride on Ethel tonight got my total for 2009 to 6000km, nowhere near where I wanted to be. Lots of excuses but none that are really valid. I'm not going to set any wild goals for 2010, just keep riding and see where I end up.

At the next LMHL meeting I'm going to make a motion that referees pay per game is cut in half. Hell they get so much help from the parents and coaches I'm not sure why they get paid at all. I witnessed a Novice coach on Monday that was unbelievable. Referees call a game that turns into a circus a 'gong show'. This guy was a one man gong show, bellowing from the drop of the opening faceoff to the end, at the refs, his kids and nearly at the opposing fans. His team won 4-0 and I swear the kids on the other team were afraid to score. They probably had friends on his team and didn't want them to get yelled at. I wouldn't be comfortable with him coaching a  teenager nevermind a seven year old. At the end of the game I looked over at a grandfather I recognized and we both mouthed the word, "WOW". Yes the Leafs brass is watching your every move and the phone call is going to come, just make sure you are the loudest thing in the arena.

Brandyn was here last night and he read me a story before bed. He needs some help on new words and rushes through but he is reading extremely well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Party

The annual Northwood Christmas Family Skate was a huge hit with the kids and parents. Three hours of skating, lots of baking and munchies, prizes, music and no injuries. And to top it off the raffles for Crosby jerseys and signed t-shirts raised $400 which is being donated to the George Jeffrey Children's Centre.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Long Christmas Break

After a hectic day trying to tie up lots of loose ends I'm of until January 5th. This will be my longest break from work in years. Today I was doing deliveries, relining some shoes for a ship that has to sail, packing 3 skids of returns along with normal phone calls. It's not busy but I was. The day went by fast, just what you want on the last one before a long stretch of time off. Since I don't have to run around trying to find last minute Christmas gifts it will be a real relaxing couple of weeks.

I got an extra couple of games in at Neebing last night, young timekeepers are bailing on assignments at the last minute. AJ and Sal had a little miscommunication so we ended up running out of time. AJ had to be at Norwester school by 5:45 (we were just getting to the airport at 5:35) and I had to be at Neebing for 6:30. I hiked in from Highway 61 in lots of time but sweaty from my partial walk home from work and then the 3.5 km to the rink. I took off my inner layer and wind breaker, and then froze for 3 hours. Shivering keeps you awake on the clock. Had a great night without any problems and even helped a former Northwood coach avoid some serious suspension trouble.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RC Hockey

I often wonder as coaches and parents try to direct their players or children on the ice or diamond, whether A: the kids even hear them or B: if they have any clue what it all means when they do hear it. "You're too high", "push it up", "bring it home", you're too deep", "move into the hole". All terms that have been around the game forever but the kids haven't. Instead of letting them learn to play by making decisions they often spend too much time trying to figure out what dad/mom or coach is yelling about. They're not remote control toys.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Impreza Puts Fun Back Into Driving

I guess too many years with vans, suvs and trucks had made driving a chore. The Dakota went back today so the Impreza becomes the number one ride. (Easy girls we're talking cars here). I've always liked smaller cars and most specifically the imports. It handles like it's on rails, has a very peppy 2.5 engine and best of all during the cold snap, warms up rapidly. It's a blast to drive around town getting things done, small enough to park quickly and easily.

We have almost everything ready for Christmas. The tree is up but not yet adorned with lights or baubles, guess I'll tackle that tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a good long break.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Putting on the Layers

I started walking to work as soon as the snow fell. The last few mornings have been pretty cool but I just keep adding layers as the mercury disappears in the bottom of the thermometer. I got called in to do a couple of bantam games on Wednesday. The older divisions get two man timekeeping crews so the pace is pretty relaxed, at least until the ref starts doling out misconducts like Santa hands out candy canes. Met and worked with a very nice young LU student who plays junior hockey and timekeeps for some extra cash. Got to work at the Gardens so it was even warm.

Got up at 6:15 this morning and AJ was studying. Looked like he had been at it a while, empty mug beside the desk and instant coffee jar on the counter. He's getting serious and what I've seen of his marks it's paying off.

A combination of stat days, holiday remains and workshare days leaves me with just 3 more days of work before the New Year. Hopefully it warms up a touch.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The New Ride

With the lease on the Dakota running out (finally) next month we started seriously looking for a new vehicle. I wandered across the street last Thursday to the Subaru dealer and ran into one of the mechanics who is a really good customer. He towed me through the shop and located a salesman, before I knew it I had an overnight test drive. The '07 Impreza 2.5 Wagon is the perfect size for me but I wan't sure about Sal who is accustomed to riding higher since all we've had in recent decades has been a van or truck. I went for a long test ride before she came home from work and found the newport blue pearl all wheel drive had everything we need. Better gas mileage, super reliable, fun to drive and not bad looking (even if AJ doesn't agree). Once Sal got home we took it out and to my surprise she seemed to like it. I did some online research and was impressed by everything I read. I took it back Friday and made arrangements for Saturday morning and we finished up the deal. The car was traded for another bigger Subaru the day I first walked over, has only 32000km and we got a bumper to bumper warranty through 2014 so we'll know our vehicle costs every month.

The Northwood kids and parents (210) all took in the Thunderwolves game last night and they had a blast. The game was lost in a shootout but by then they were all ready for bed anyway. I talked the team's management into a moment of silence before the game for the player that passed away last month and every kid is now wearing a decal with her number on their helmets. We found one good picture and a dvd of one of her games after the family requested a picture of her in her hockey gear. The team pictures were taken 2 weeks too late.

Rather than posting hundreds of pictures here I opened another blog called Travels with a Tailwind for rambling about flight simulator.

No I haven't posted my food intake, that just didn't keep me out of the fridge. But I have tapered it and started walking and riding Ethel just about daily. Control seems to be returning.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Goosenecks State Park

Oh Ethel... I haven't missed you. I'm determined to ride 20km every day in December and like someone hit the big switch in the sky, snow. I bolted a saddle to Ethel and hopped on for another 5 km to make my daily quota. Listening to an MP3 book that makes walking a breeze but just doesn't cut it when pedaling somehow. It's going to be a long winter.

Thunder Bay in Flight Simulator with the Tile Proxy utility running from Yahoo Maps

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Late Nights

It was 2:15 am when I posted the pic below so I wasn't up to telling the story. After 3 hours of tweaking and testing I have the satellite mapping scenery linked into flite sim. The pic below is somewhere over the Grand Canyon and pretty spectacular, at least I think so. There are still some bugs to work out. The shot was taken at 23,000 feet which is about 20,000 feet higher than I normally cruise, but everything is smooth and the displayed framerate is high enough to feel like I'm moving. Next will be some low and slow tests to see how far I can take it. There are two more levels of graphic quality but I'm not sure the dell can handle much more. I have another gig of memory coming and that may make it as real as it's going to get until Microsoft gets on the ball and links their mapping and flight sim software together.

I attended the first meeting for the Active Transportation committee I'm sitting on. Our role will be education and marketing the new bike lanes, sharrows and active transportation in general. Yesterday was a meet and greet, some review of the structure of the 3 committees, the parent committee and who reports to who etc. The hour spent brainstorming was very productive and lots of ideas were tossed around. The first bike lanes and sharrows are due for spring of 2010 so that should be interesting. It was nice to meet some other bikers who are into it enough to get involved.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Missing Days

Day 7-09
Apple cider, kolache and banana. Cheese & crackers. Pot roast, mashed potatoes, corn, garlic buns.
Day 8-09
Apple cider, oatmeal and banana. Fries and chili. Sushi at Wasabi (caterpillar roll, crunchy roll, spicy tuna roll, teriyaki chicken stir fry, tempura sampler, gyoza, miso soup and coffee. No I didn't order all that myself.
Day 9-09
Oatmeal, banana and apple cider. Cheese and triscuits. Tacos. 13 km on Eyowen.

First Monday weigh-in shows 1 pound loss. Have to start on Ethel I guess.

My cross Canada is stalled in Winnipeg. I tried a new free program that is supposed to let you fly over online map services, putting the satellite images onto the 3d mesh in FS but it's far too blurry, nothing like the advertised pix, look here. I wish! Still trying to find the answers, at least I got it working, many don't.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 6-09

Oatmeal, 2 bananas and apple cider. Hot chocolate. Cheese, crackers & water. Corn bread, triscuits, salmon, rice and d7up. 8km on Bridget.

What a long day. 4 games on the clock this morning and 3 more at the Gardens with Northwood this afternoon. totally rinked out. 3 more tomorrow then a meeting. Having Monday off is going to be a blessing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 5-09

Poppy seed bread (told it's called kolache and very good for the heart!), banana and coffee. Cheese, triscuits, granola bar and water. Chicken taco soup, rice corn bread and water. Cereal mix, beef jerkey. 8km on Bridget.

It's been a weird day. I put out an email asking for administrative help with Northwood along with a request from the mother of the player who passed away for pictures of her daughter. I got back some video and a couple of shots. The dad works for the sponsor so they really want a picture of her in the uniform, it was her first year of hockey and she played just 3 games. I also got back some positive results from people who may actually want to get involved. Tomorrow I have 4 hours of timekeeping then another at the Gardens for Northwood games. Going to be a popsicle by the end of the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 4-09

Oatmeal, banana and apple cider. Cheese, triscuits, pickles and water. Granola bar. Chicken taco soup, rice, corn bread and water. Diet 7up and soda crackers. 16 km on Bridget.

Saw an interesting plan from the UK today. The government encourages employers to join a program that allows employees to buy a bike to ride to work worth up to 1000 pounds (about $1770 Canadian) with a voucher, then have deductions from their check BEFORE taxes to pay it off. It saves them up to 50%. It's called the Cyclescheme. Very modern thinking from an old country.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 3-09

Apple cider and oatmeal. Triscuits, cheese, pickles and water. Cheese, pickles, popcorn and poppy seed bread. Salmon, potatoes, corn and water. 6.5km walking

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 2-09

Coffee and toast. Cheese, bread, granola bar and water. Pasta, bread and water. 13 km on Bridget.

I picked up 2 gigs of ram for the Dell today only to find that the 4 slots were filled with 1/2 gig boards so my net gain was only 1 gig. Instead of installing 2x1 gig boards at the factory they cheaped out and used  4x1/2 boards so upgrading means replacing all instead of just adding two. Confused? So was the Dell tech. Their website leads you to believe that you will end up with the max memory that XP can handle. Took a quick flight in the Tailwind over Vancouver and the performance increase with even half of the ram I thought I was getting is visible.

The 10 year-old girl that was killed on Sunday in the ATV accident is one of our Northwood players. Can't imagine how the parents are handling that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 1-09

Coffee & toast, turkey sandwich & water, poppy seed bread, beef, potatoes, salad, 1 pickled beet, cooler, ice cream and rhubarb crumble, bowl of special K. Very short walk. Not a great start.

Here We Go Again

Sometimes you just have to go back to what worked so I'm going to be posting it all again. Whatever passes the lips on the way in will be back here. I'm tired of slipping, sort of like having two paths of thought. One says eat right, the other says eat right now.

The Northwood season is under way and things are going well. In 9 games played to date there have been 5 tied. It looks like the teams are fairly even. Our Breast Cancer Foundation pins and t-shirt program is going well. Sal sold 108 pins yesterday and 27 kids got free t-shirts. I ordered 300 so more than 30% are gone in a day which paid for all the t-shirts, so it should get us back to even with a $900 donation and lots of kids happily in new NHL t-shirts.

I picked up a new plane over the weekend. It's a little homebuilt rocket that can get up to 200mph and cruises comfortably at 160. It's pretty easy to fly and has only the bare essentials for navigation. No GPS so radio navigation is a must. The Wittman Tailwind has acres of window so looking around is easy and makes the trip more enjoyable. I'm in Marathon and heading for Thunder Bay next time up.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Can't Beat Lance

He may not win another Tour but nobody can beat Lance at raising $ for cancer. His 7 custom painted bikes from this year's tour were auctioned off for 1.3 million with the bike shown here going for $500,000.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


When to give it, when to question it, how much to offer, how to test it without destroying it, when to end it. I've asked myself all of these questions with recent Northwood hockey developments I won't go further into here. I had that little voice in my head telling me something was wrong but I didn't listen until it was too late. There are so few people willing to lend a hand outside of coaching that any help is welcomed. But I guess I have to learn to be more suspicious of 'volunteers' with motives other than the kids well being.

I thought up a new fundraiser which will help offset some of my darker thoughts about packing it in. Ford has a promotion where they supply pink hockey pins to The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  The league buys them for $3, sells them for $5 and keeps the $2 profit. I decided to order some t-shirts for any kid who sells 4 pins. I've already had people anxious to buy them so it looks like it should work well.

I managed something in Flight Sim on Tuesday that I've never been able to do prior, land a jet manually. The de Havilland Beaver is a pretty easy bird to land because you can slow her down to about 50 knots and float in, a Lear jet is another story as at 100 knots it starts to stall and fall out of the sky. I've done ILS landings a few times but this time I just lined up and used the landing lights to bring it in. My next big flight (around the world?) might be a whole lot faster.

A cold has kept Sal at home for 2 days and shes taking 1 more tomorrow because they have a busy weekend coming up. If you know her you know it's pretty bad if shes not at work. I've had the same but really no where near as bad. My ears are really plugged but otherwise I'm ok.

I've only riden back and forth to work a few times in the last few days, picking up groceries tonight and being off 2 other days. We're trying to find a hub for Molly so I can get her back on the road. The last time out I stood to cross Fort William Road and broke another spoke, just getting too old (the spokes not me). I'm going to try and make her fixed if we can find a hub, not too easy for 27" wheels but I want to keep the rim size because of the new tires that just went on. Fixed will mean no coasting, if the wheels are turning the pedals are going around too. Old school but something I want to try.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Live Blog

With the weather and the illness it looks like a slow night for Trick or Treaters. Ginko is down with the flu.
6:00pm - 3 kids so far
6:15pm - 5 more
6:30pm - wow 9
6:45pm - 6 in a spurt
7:00pm - 8, wind is down, had time to make coffee
7:15pm - another 9
7:30pm - 5, gonna be looking at tootsie rolls and doritos for ever
7:45pm - 8 again, Habs are dressed up for the occasion
8:00pm - omg 13, finally broke 10 in 15 min., big ones are out now
8:15pm - 0, I guess it's over
8:30pm - 6 more and I'm closing up shop
72 kids in total

Best costume, I was going to say Leafs as an NHL hockey team or  Toskala as a goalie but I have to give it to the young guys dressed in the old sky blue Hockey Night In Canada blazers. Habs do look ridiculous in the jailbreak unis though, and they have a maple leaf on them?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Goodnight Coach

Just finished talking on the phone with Mom and landed in Peterborough. One more hop and I'll be in Toronto. This was a long week or so it seemed. Inventory is all but done and seems so anti-climatic as compared to the stress filled days we used to spend getting ready. Now things are much quicker and logical. We don't take everything out of the computer, count and put it back in. It always seemed to me that more mistakes went back in than were there in the first place.Why not just fix what was wrong?

I had three game on the clock at Grandview last night and the first two went pretty well, a great Atom AA contest with one of Northwood's stars of last year putting on a good show. Next up was a PeeWee AA game that was good and close without any real silliness. And then came the NorthEnd PeeWee AA's. The same team that had the box full last week and with DW wearing the bands again. Coach started off yapping with the first penalty and never stopped even as he made his way out of the rink with just over 10 minutes left in the game. While some guys try to have their team learn when a penalty is called he insists on saying "that's not a penalty that's hockey" and of course the kids keep doing the same thing and then coming to visit me. His team played better without him as they tied the game with about 3 minutes to go but ended up losing with just 3 ticks left on the clock. Thanks again for new timekeeping experiences, never had misconducts before and definitely never two at the same time with a few other minors added in. And he said he was going to give me an easier game.

And what a lovely day for a bike ride. I never got caught in any real downpour but Eyowen is covered in sand and mud from the construction around the shop. At least I broke 300km for the month.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Better sleep

I got some paperwork and cleaning done this morning and headed out for a longish ride this afternoon. Bridget and I went out Mountain Road, 61, Riverdale and then in on Hanna, 130 and Broadway. Bridget likes to roll around in the leaves after a long ride.

The Northwood schedule is done and posted to the website so I have a few days off there but inventory is coming up Friday so work will be a bit hectic. Tonight is going to be a nice peaceful evening, I hope.

I tried tightening the straps on my CPAP mask last night as it has been comfortable but leaking around the seals and possibly not working 100%. I felt great this morning with just over 6 hours sleep so maybe there's something to it.

Fingers Crossed

On Monday I was off so I spent the morning putting together the teams for Northwood. After four hours I had six teams and one big headache. I emailed a pdf file to each coach and a note to all the parents and went up to lie down. Now I just hope that the effort will result in fairly equal teams. We have one very young goalie that everyone was worried about. I knew I could beef up a team around him but how much? On Saturday we had scrimmages for final evaluation and he looked shaky against the youngest line and I was dreaming up combinations that would give the team a chance. On Sunday he faced the two older groups and held his own against the older kids and goalies. Now I just hope that if he continues to improve rapidly that I didn't make the team around him too strong. That's why I get the big buck I guess. Keep those fingers crossed everybody.

I couldn't sleep so I watched a Discovery Channel program about a British Airways flight the nearly ended in disaster. On the way from England to Australia the 747 passed over Indonesia and as it crossed the southern coast the pilots saw what looked like an electric snowstorm through the windshield. The wings were glowing and the engines looked to be covered in electric energy. The engines began trailing about 30 feet of flames. They lost one and then all four engines at 37,000 feet and started gliding. They could not restart the engines and began losing altitude, one mile for every 15 traveled. They determined they could not reach Australia so turned back for Jacarta. Air traffic control had trouble receiving their Mayday calls. The cabin began filling with smoke and they could not find any source. As the cabin lost air pressure the oxygen masks dropped into the laps of the passengers. The mask for the co-pilot was broken so the pilot dove the huge plane to keep his partner conscious. The strange effects they had seen stopped. As they neared the Indonesian coast the engines finally responded to their attempts to restart. They lost one again but had enough power to land in Jacarta. As they approached they went through more of the weird lights and electrically charged air and lost one engine. On final approach they found they could not see through the windshield and to top it the ILS was down at the airport. As the co-pilot read out the glide slope the pilot brought the plane in safely. The nose, windshield and leading edges looked as if they were sandblasted. Rolls Royce did a complete forensic teardown of the engines and found the problem. They had flown through volcanic ash from Mount Galunggung. Clouds of ash have no moisture so they don't appear on radar and at night are virtually invisible. The ash is basically a very fine sand that caused the 'St. Elmo's Fire' effect they saw, resulted in the smoke in the cabin and also caked the inside of the engines in a layer of molten soot that clogged them enough to flame out. Turning back actually put them through the cloud a second time. Once it cooled during the glide the material hardened and enough dropped off the engines to allow restart. The passengers had resigned themselves to certain death but instead they gather as the Galunggung Gliding Club on the anniversary of the memorable flight.

In the evening I headed out to the First Nations Rink #2 for a few games. I should have brought a parka and an ice scraper. The midget Kings practiced prior to the games and they gather around the timekeepers box to talk and sweat. The glass was totally frosted over and I had to use a puck to scrape it off so I could see even the lights of the clock. They sure have let the rink get run down.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reader Locations

mouse over the stars for location names

Call Me

I came home from the rink after 3 1/2 hours and was tired. Every player's parent was given a personalized schedule for this weekend last Saturday. Those missing were all contacted. I must have had 1/3 call or email wondering when they practiced next. Everything fell into place as we secured a 6th goalie and the last player that had to be moved up did so without a fuss. I had a long time coach storm out because there's no team for him as he refuses to work with anyone else. The flu has about 10% of the kids at home so evaluating is difficult.

I put a pan on the stove with some olive oil to brown Italian sausage for sauce to go with pasta. As the element heated up I checked my email. We all know what happened next. I went back to a room full of smoke. I opened the windows and then grabbed a chair as the smoke detector went off. I was surprised that the ADT fire alarm didn't make any noise, "have to get that tested," I thought. I put a fan in the kitchen window and got back to supper and then the fire alarm went off. I hit 'silence' and put in the bypass key. Minutes later a fire crew was at the door. My neighbour from across the street came next as Sal had called there. ADT had called her sister at the club who called her at work and she called the neighbours thinking I wasn't home. Then Jen called because her friend who lives across the street had seen the pumper's light show.

I get so many phone calls that I don't want, why couldn't they just have called here instead of letting the world know I was having a bad day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Now Thats' a Jersey

The Kingston Frontenacs junior team recently wore these jerseys in support of Soldier On. Don Cherry made an appearance and the game-worn jerseys autographed by Grapes are being auctioned off on E-Bay in support of our troops. I looked at a few of the auctions and they were all in the $500 range. The players would probably pay that much not to have to wear them again. You can hate Donald S. and his many opinions but you can't deny his support of the troops and their families.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Rambling

Walked over to the library as the last book I picked up had me snoozing in a couple of pages. It was an attempt to explain Stonehenge. I grabbed a National Geographic video on the same subject and even that was good for a nap. The mysterious rocks weren't dropped by aliens, just stoneage man making a house for his gods. Quite an engineering accomplishment but no where near as exciting.

I found a nice addition to windows that can minimize your windows and keep them visible but smaller. Just drag them to the edge of the screen and the scale themselves. Scalable Fabric is a free download from the good folks at Microsoft (How often do you see those words in the same sentence?), give it a look if minimizing windows confuses you. 

I finally got the developer version of the Google Chrome browser running and got back the ability to run user scripts. They allow modifications to Gmail and other parts of the browser which are very useful. I had them running under firefox and missed some of them.

The weekend sees the last of evaluation for Northwood players. This has been a tough year for getting things finalized. A shortage of ice, kids not wanting to be moved from group to group and an older coach who doesn't have the drive to fit in anymore still hanging around and a shortage of goalies are making life interesting.

Full Pension @31

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


   Bonked is the biker's technical term for what I did on Sunday, rhymes with and basically means zonked. I had only planned on about 40km or 2 hours. I had eaten a couple pieces of toast and coffee. I took one water bottle, a granola bar and some cough candies. I ran out of gas plain and simple. It was really weird to have my legs still spinning but not really feeling anything but a sore butt. Note to self: you can't starve yourself when riding for 3 1/2 hours.
   I did another couple of AA games tonight, I sure am disappointed in the level of play. I think some of our old Pee Wee A teams could have given the teams that I saw tonight a good game. And thanks to DW for filling the penalty box up for me. 3 on one side and another pair on the other. It's a good thing there's no hair left to pull out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long Cool Ride

With everything from a touch of rain and snow, sunshine and strong winds I managed a good long ride this afternoon. Jill and I headed out Oliver Road and went as far as Murillo before heading back through Kakabeka. We rolled down the hill into Stanley and up River Road and then back in on 130 and Broadway. It's been over a month since Jill has been out and I haven't put on my riding gear in that time either so 70km was pushing it a bit. I was done as I approached the Neebing Arena. My legs kept going but they were on their own. My mind was on nothing but getting home. Sal had a good hearty meal ready about an hour later and it was devoured.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Time for a Change

   After months with the orange theme I've gotten a bit bored with the whole blogging thing as I guess you could tell from the limited posts. I decided after coming across an article from 'Make Use Of' that it was time to update not only the look but the content of my blog. Things are very strange between my ears lately.
   I know I'm putting on weight and seem helpless to do anything. I've started more than a few times to get back on the smarter eating path and quickly gotten off track. I lie in bed at night and tell myself "tomorrow I'll start" and I can be good all day and then throw the day away by snacking in the evening. I know that once winter gets here and I start walking to work it will help but with just three days a week I need more than that. For the last two years I knew to finish the cancer ride I would need to stay in better shape. Maybe I just need a goal. For now my goal is the picture on the left, when I fit that Swobo jersey and am able to wear it on a ride I'll have achieved my goal. I'm not going to worry as much about numbers or kilometers and just try to get into that jersey. I've had it for over a year and put it on briefly but never left the house in it.
   While we seem to be keeping things together financially even with my reduced work schedule, I still worry about the future. Payments are supposed to start coming in next week from UI and I'll see a bit at month's end from timekeeping. Once we're done with the truck lease that will be the last of the big monthly payment but there's still tuition to work on. These were supposed to be the years to save for that future now that the mortgage is finally paid off. Neither of us need anything extravagant but it would be great to be able to look forward to retiring, right now it scares me.
   And who the hell is that guy I see in the mirror every morning. I don't feel like it's me. I don't feel that old or that fat. But it is and I am, I can't do anything about the old but I am going to do something about the fat. Today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Just landed in Montreal. Made my way from Quebec City with just the radios, VFR and no GPS. Speaking of frogs I picked up a pair of lights on the weekend as riding in the dark has become the norm. They're called frogs and made by an Australian company, Knog. Yes Knog Frogs. Just a simple led in a rubbery body that can wrap around any part of the bike or helmet. Easily transferable from one bike to another, cheap and very bright. One red on the back and a white on the bars and I'm blinking along.

Liberal GPS

Friday, October 9, 2009

J'ai juste débarqué à Québec

   For those of you that don't parlez, I just landed in Quebec City and am heading for a bike shop to check out the new Lapierres. Not really but then what is real? It was a long bumpy flight again and the roughest landing to date. One big bounce after nearly getting lost in the low cloud. Almost zero visibility until I got under 500 feet.
   Timekeeping last night was good, three AA games with one of the old hands and he shared plenty of tricks. There is alot going on and the games move quickly. No time to stumble around looking things up. By the middle of the second game I was comfortable, except for being frozen. Lesson 1: dress like you are walking to work, (except for the ski mask.)
   Off for another 4 days now but have to remember to stay more active. A few of the endless things around the house, a ride or 2, read (Emperor series (Julius Caeser) book 3), design a rack for Eyowen and a few hours at the rink. Supper with the kids on Sunday and maybe with mom and dad on Monday.
   And if you want to look like you speak another language, give Google translate a try. 它确实有效, Funziona davvero. Paste that in and see what it says. Pick chinese or italian to english.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Wouldn't Have Believed This One

The Heart Does Grow Fonder

After 5 days off and feeling like c**p for the most part I was back at work this morning. I only got out for a spin around the school parking lot with Ginko and a short trip to the library in the 5 days. Bridget felt like a million bucks this morning. As the day went on the pain in my hips and lower back went away so I guess the lost 5 days were my own fault, and Boston Pizza's for whatever ailed my stomach. I did manage a lot of reading.

Last night was Ginko's last here and we spent it playing cards by candlelight. What can you do with a 5 year old when the power goes? I was up reading this morning and the juice went again, he came down for a bathroom run and then headed up in the dark. After getting Bridget out of the basement I came through the living room and was just pulling on my jacket when I saw him sitting there in a chair. The lights were back on by this time but it still scared me silly. And he giggled.

Made my way from Fredricton to St. Leonard Quebec in a rainy, windy flight in the Beaver. Maybe I should stop using the real weather feature. Lord knows how I'll manage to fly into Thunder Bay.

I get my first taste of timekeeping tomorrow night with a 4 hour training session at Grandview. Should not to be too tough as I've done it before just never with the added pressure of a pay check down the road. Just like the refs, once there is money being made you are supposed to be perfect.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to Moncton

After work this morning I headed over to our storage locker to sort sweaters for the first skates Sunday and to meet the goalies for fitting equipment. I hauled 10 set of pads and 6 chest protectors out last week and brought them to Petrie's for shipping north. They were all teen sizes that we haven't used for years and old school, brown leather and filled with horsehair. Great workout when they get wet from the ice. That's why the old goalies were stand up, once they got down it was so hard to get themselves off the ice.

Sal hasn't gotten over her untip last night, 11 people with a bill of $250 and they tipped $4 on a debit transaction. Last thing she said last night was "4 dollars", and first thing this morning, "4 dollars". Hopefully tonight went a bit better. We think they might have meant $40 but missed the button.

Made two flights in the Beaver today, Port Hawksbury, Nova Scotia to Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island and then on to Moncton, New Brunswick. Brushed up on my ILS landings and just about have the nav radios figured out again. Now I'm looking online for charts and approach plates. The GPS works like magic but there's not much of a challenge in that.

Bridget got hooked up to the Vado camera for a spin through Kam River Park. I haven't done any editing yet so nothing to show. I found a great new way to treadmill, reading a book. It's not easy but at 3mph I can hold the book and manage to read. Felt like 5 minutes instead of the 20 it takes for a mile.

Song of the day, Simple Man by Paul Rogers.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is It Really Thursday Again?

I guess that's about the longest period without a post in some time. Time is flying by with my new work schedule, hockey meetings, phone calls and e-mails.

I decided I was slipping in the diet and exercise department so early Monday morning I was up for a 1 mile walk on the treadmill and then did 50 pushups and 50 situps. Felt great. There's something about the buzz after working up a sweat and feeling the slight ache in the muscles. Tuesday morning was another story as the aches were deep and painful. I managed the walk but there was no way this old body was doing ups of any kind. The plan is to start up again next Monday and work up to 50. Walking feels good. Been cutting down the intake and grabbing more water and fruit again.

My flight across Canada has advanced to Sydney Nova Scotia after a 155 mile hop across from Newfoundland. It was an interesting flight featuring fog, wind and engine trouble. You can set variable levels of trouble for increased reality but I have my hands full now that I have quit using the autopilot, so I was surprised by the stumbling of the engine. I tried a few solutions but it ended up being too rich a fuel mixture. My first landing attempt had me coming in sideways with a severe crosswind so I pulled out and circled around to the other runway and got down fine. I'm enjoying the flying much more now that I'm not doing it every day for hours at a time.

Lots of preparation for the weekend as Northwood hits the ice. Everything seems to be ready to go, up until the city cancelled one of the most important session we have. Can't move it up a weekend because of the turkey day long weekend and the next was supposed to be the opening of the regular season. That's the downside of being in the Gardens I guess.

We're waiting for the season premier of Grey's Anatomy. We started watching the dvds of the first 4 seasons in the spring and have seen 100 episodes. I had planned on recording it with Media Center but something in the tuner is not working. It took a Dell tech almost 2 hours to determine that the software was fine but the hardware needs replacing. So we missed the 9-11 and are sitting up til midnight. George dies, a real downer.

Just reading this over and wow, no mention of a bike anywhere. Yes I'm still riding but just taking it easy. Nothing epic, nowhere near my goal and no excuses.

Song of the day, 'Hold Your Head Up' a classic from the 70's by Argent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tailwind Thursday

Not much of a tailwind today but since I'm off til Tuesday I guess I might as well enjoy it. Looks like the pattern will be work Tues-Wed-Thurs, off Mondays and Fridays since my sidekick hates long weekends, bonus I guess. We got a few shop jobs in this week so the time flew by.

I cranked up Flight Sim the other day and cruised around a bit for the first time in about 8 months. I've started a cross Canada flight with stops every 60 miles or so, depending on airport availability. My first landing was a bit of a dodgy one. Came in way too fast and pulled out just in time for a go round and then took my time. I've made four short hops from St. John's Newfoundland heading east, hoping for at least one landing in every province. Not much to see on the big island, not in flight sim anyway. Landings have improved greatly since the first.

Hockey is going pretty well so far. Got through another AA draft on Tuesday. I sure hope these coaches get that call from Brian Burke soon. As for Northwood we don't hit the ice until the 27th but are meeting to plan things for the early sessions.

I just realized this week that throughout Conquer the Caribou neither my butt nor my hands hurt. Both have been sort of nagging me, especially my hands. After day 2 of Conquer Cancer they were still buzzing back at the hotel, hours after the ride had ended. Last Sunday, nothing. Maybe because my legs were the focus of my attention. Not really sure.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From the Headlines

From today's Chronicle-Journal, "Crime Stats Continue to Drop" Apparently even the bad guys have moved out of town since there are no more rich people to steal from.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not So Bad

The First Caribou Charity Ride went better than expected. 256 riders came out for either 50 or 100km on the country roads west of TBay. I finished the 100km (actually 105) in 4 hours and 45 minutes. I went out nice and slow letting just about everybody zip on by. I made an early stop at the first aid station for a bathroom break and then got back on the nearly deserted road. I didn't see anyone close until almost Hymers as I starting catching up in the hills. Next up was the 9 km to Nolalu that was a twisty hilly section that put up a pretty good fight. Got by a few more here. Sal and I had a plan where I would call her from Nolalu and then we would meet at the next corner where 590 and 595 meet. My cell had 'no service' so that plan went out the window, the same place my Rogers plan is going when my contract is up. I came upon another rider on the side of 590 and stopped to see if he was ok. He was patching a tube and had 2 others on the shoulder beside him. He had crashed earlier, his derailleur was acting up, someone had given him a tube with a hole in it and he had attempted 2 previous patches without success. I offered him my spare tube and luckily it was the right size. This left me with no way to fix a flat but I'm pretty confident in Jill's tires. I borrowed his TBay Tel cell phone and called Sal to let her know the change in plans. He finished the patch as I was pulling away and it seemed to be holding so he will return the tube to Petrie's as long as the patch held. There were a few steep little devils on the rolling road back down to Hymer's. One just before the stop sign had me down to about 9km per hour and my legs were cramping in all new locations. I really thought I had been hydrating enough but apparently not. Once back on 61 I stood to get up a bit of speed and both legs cramped so badly I almost lost it. Sat down and let things cool, shifted to a more friendly gear and kept a nice easy pace to the finish. I was banking on about 6 hours so I'm pretty happy with less than 5. Pretty sore too but it never hurts as much when you exceed your expectations.

Friday, September 11, 2009


My head is still spinning from a week of weird. Being off work for 4 days last weekend seemed like forever. Then only being in every other day had me sort of off balance both at home and on the job. It will take some getting used to I guess. I've already secured some 'cash' work timekeeping hockey for the winter, which will help some.

I came to the conclusion tonight that no matter what happens in the Caribou ride on Sunday I'm going to be happy just to get out and try to climb all those hills. I've been stressing over it all week but not going or doing just the 50km would be failing. If I go out and don't finish it won't be failing, not trying would be failing. Sounds like I'm making compromises but that's not it at all. Neither of the Conquer Rides really felt 'epic', the actual effort wasn't as big as I had anticipated. They didn't feel real, like I left something on the table. This ride will definitely clear the table of all the ride I have in me. And if it clears the table and puts me on the floor, fine. I'm not going to worry about it any more.

Northwood registration is 100% full with a waiting list. We're in demand but I refuse to expand, keep it small and manageable. The debates over at Lakehead Minor have already heated up as the first draft with mixed AA age groups approaches. Coaches are already testing the new rules and it should be an interesting evening.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oh Boy

Sal and I just came back from driving the 100+km route for next weekend's Caribou Charity Ride. It is going to be a long day in the saddle. The first 10km is flat along highways 61 and 130 but then things get increasingly hilly. And the hills just keep on coming. There was plenty of traffic on the narrow roads but that was mostly due to the Hymer's Fall Fair. We passed right through Hymer's on the way in and covered just about every route to the grounds so I don't expect the traffic to be any where near as heavy next weekend. Unfortunately I don't think the hills will flatten much at all. Same distance as the Conquer Cancer ride but I can see an extra 2 hours or so.

We decided to stop at Stanley to share one of the famous burgers. Another item off the bucket list as neither of us had been there before but neither of us could taste what all the hype was about.

Sunday we went out to mom and dad's for a relaxing afternoon and supper. After cutting 2 inches from Jill's handlebars I was a bit more comfortable during the 41km ride to the Sturgeon Bay Road but continue to get 'bees in the hands'. Not sure what else to try at this point.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Disgusted in August

August was an all round bad month. I'm not going to blame everything on the weather or the constant mechanical problems with the girls. I got a bit lazy and maybe just tired of riding alone. I skipped three days during my holidays plus the two when we were away. I got out with Molly the day we returned and she added a broken spoke to the 2 flats sitting in the basement. My heart was just not into riding for a bit. Sunday I got out for 40km on Jill after wrestling the Schwalbe Marathon+ tire and a new tube onto the rim Saturday night. I fixed the flat on Eyowen and retrofitted an old crankset so I have a bad weather singlespeed bike ready to go again, should have had one ready all summer(?) I guess.

Hockey is just around the corner and I've been busy fielding calls and handling the online registrations which are high this year. Northwood will take 96 players for 6 teams again and 65 spots are already gone without an official registration. I'm on for the Lakehead Minor AA registration for the next two nights and then Northwood's next week.

AJ's Dodgers have won 2 games in a row in the semis to take a 3-2 lead in the sries. Sure gets cool at the ball park when the sun goes down.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catching Up

Sunday was #52 and I spent an hour and a half riding Jill to the Sturgeon Bay turnoff on our way to supper. A nasty headwind and a totally wrong notion that this would be an easy ride made for one of the toughest of the year. Jill had been hanging on a basement wall since our Toronto trip so we were eager to get out. Supper was great as we sat around laughing, talking and catching up with family that we just don't get to see enough. Got home and pulled Jill off the truck and onto the street and found another flat. Two this week on separate bikes.

Late Sunday night I launched my plan on Sal, a 3 day trip to Minneapolis. We made some quick reservations and noted some places we wanted to see, e-mailed those we needed to and hit the road at 8am Monday. Our trip down was uneventful. One of the spots we (I'll explain the we part later) wanted to hit was the Bikery in Stillwater, a bike shop and a bakery run by a Belgian mechanic-baker. Just before the east-west split of I-35, Gloria our GPS had us heading into rural Minnesota bound for buns and bikes. The quiet country roads through rolling farmland were a welcome change from the 4 lane madness. The roads were smooth and hilly and the shoulders were nice and wide. I wished I was riding rather than driving. We got to the shop and it was closed (Mondays), at least the drive there was a treat. The drive back into rush hour traffic wasn't. It was only 2:30 and it had already started.

After checking in we headed for Mall of America in a bumper to bumper race a snail could have won. The drivers are pretty courteous letting each other merge. We did a lap of each of the 3 levels and actually went into about 3 stores. Most of our time and our only dollars were spent in a kitchen store, Le Gourmet Chef that has tons of gadgets and ingredients. We finished our hike and had the feast for 2 at Famous Dave's BBQ. Both the food and the music were great. We headed back to the hotel and our 6 hour bed, any more than 6 hours in it and you're ready for traction.

Tuesday morning began with rain and thunder. I was awake at about 5:30 reading as my back decided a chair was more desirable than the bed. It poured for quite a while but by time we were heading out things were starting to break up. We jumped head first into the morning traffic and headed downtown to One On One, a trendy bike shop in the warehouse district. They have a coffee bar, some bike history and art, new and used parts and of course bikes. We looked around a bit and it didn't seem to match the hype until I was told that everything happens in the basement, or didn't happen. Not sure what that exactly meant I headed down the old stairs past the guard cat and Sal decided to skip the best part and promised to send a search party if need be. A few unclaimed bikes crowded around the bottom of the wooden stairs and then as I rounded a corner I saw a massive collection of used bikes, frames and categorized parts in plastic bins. At a rough guess I would say there were as many as 1,00o bikes literally piled in the basement. I emerged about 30 minutes later. With a flashlight and time you could probably find just the part you were looking for but I had neither. We gps'd our way to another shop and found a second next door but nothing like One On One. Eric's was very clean and new but had none of the atmosphere, they didn't even have coffee. Next door at Varsity Bike & Transport they had some great prices on single speeds and lots of colorful parts, a bit more of an edge and more piercings and tattoos than a Satan's Choice convention.

And now the 'we' explained. I thought it was time for some 'normal' shopping but Sal said we should return to the Bikery so we entered the address and followed Gloria again. The bike part of the business is very small, the bakery is the draw. The owner does both the mechanic and baker duties with a staff of 2. We had tomato and basil soup with fresh bread and coffee, all of which were very good.

We headed back towards the Twin cities and stopped at a Target for our normal shopping. We picked up quite a few things, mostly excellent deals. The weather was now warm and sunny so we decided to visit the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory which was close by. The zoo is an old style, small enclosure collection of primates, big cats, a few African hoofed (we only saw giraffes) and a couple of seals and sea lions. Watching the gorillas, tigers, cougar and lions reminded me of the bears in the old Chippewa Park. The enclosures were bigger but the result was the same. Drowsy looking animals either sleeping or walking in their sleep in endless circles. The silver-back gorilla looked so much like a little old man it made me want to leave. Not my cup of tea I guess. The conservatory was more lively with a collection of vegetation that was extensive. We both enjoyed the small collection of bonsai.

We got back into traffic later in the afternoon but the flow was a bit better and we crossed town quickly. I made one wrong lane choice but Gloria came to the rescue again. Having one of these units allows you to explore a city to your heart's content. We hit the Olive Garden for supper, gassed up and back to the room for the night. I slept until about 4:30 again, thank God I brought a good book. We were up and in the truck at 6:15 (5:15 their time) and there was still too much traffic to really feel comfortable. A short but fun few days exploring, next time I'm bringing a bike.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday and a Tailwind

I came ever so close to driving to work this morning but at the last second decided I'd be mad at myself later. The head wind and cool temp made the short ride feel long. By lunch the rain had stopped so I lost the rain gear and took a medium route back. Got all my projects tied up so next week I can enjoy the time off. As I cruised down Carrick I could feel a tailwind pushing me and realized I was glad I was on a bike on a Friday before holidays with the wind at my back. Can it get much better?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


! To Go

One more day of work and then a week of holidays. This morning started off...interesting. I pulled Eyowen out of her hiding place in the basement since she was as excited about going out in the rain as I was. Threw on the full wet suit since it was so cool even overheating in the plastic cocoon would not be a problem. Just around the corner from the shop I heard a strange noise but didn't get it. After unlocking the door and dragging her inside I saw the cause of the noise, flat. Not just low but riding the rim for a block flat.

Sal, Ginko and Susan picked us at lunch, my first ride to or from work in months. Brandyn and I were invited to the NorWester for swimming but Ginko says "I'm not really a fan of swimming". Almost drowning will do that to a guy, even if he's only 5.

With no other bikes ready to go Molly was back on duty for the return to work. It was raining lightly so the short trip back was no big sweat. The trip home was another story. Heavy rain for an hour left the roads covered. I had the suit on so I was fine but Molly's brakes are suspect in the sunshine, in the rain they are convicted felons. They can slow us down but stopping is not something to count on. A nice slow ride home in the rain. Had to mention holidays.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Start of Another Season

I attended my first meeting as the new (returning) secretary for Lakehead Minor tonight. I decided I missed working with the exec so I threw my hat in the ring and won back my old spot. They made lots of progress last season and seem to be on the right track. The Key hit most of town late last week so the phone should start ringing for newbies to the Northwood rosters.

Molly got another makeover on the weekend, and she's the velo du jour right now. She's totally smooth and silent with her new Continental Gatorback tires. When I get a free night I'll put up some pictures. Very retro and very quick and her chain has stayed very on for weeks now, the bruises have finally faded and I've started leaving the saddle to accelerate again. Oldest bike of the lot but has the best balance, I can ride her no-hands forever. One more part to swap and she'll hit the scales at less than 18 pounds.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another Dog Conquered

Saturday was my third Conquer the Dog. Our team came 2nd in the relay for 3 with kayak, though I don't think there were many teams in that bracket. We were third last year and every team member knocked off some time and we picked up one spot. I managed to trim 40 seconds from my time so I was ok with that (18km in 38:13). Should have had more water as I started leg cramps on the way in. Couldn't pedal hard so I pedaled higher cadence, drank and kept the cramps just on the edge and then was able to sprint the last half km and pass one more rider. Nobody got past me so I at least held our spot in the intense competition.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Big Three Oh

30 years ago today my first child was born, seems much less than that and at the same time seems so long ago. I remember the nervousness, the excitement, the pride, the joy, the fears and the tears. I remember holding her for the first time and then telling anyone who would listen all about it. A lot of time has passed and the only thing close was the birth of her son, our first grandchild. Happy Birthday Jen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Make the Most Of It

The long weekend weather wasn't exactly summer-like but at least the weatherman was off and it didn't rain every day. Sal and I did dimsum on Saturday and I cleaned a room in the basement when she went to work. I can just about locate all of my tools again.

Sunday I headed out to Sleeping Giant Provincial for a hike with brother Brian and some of his family. I had to be at the trailhead at 8:30 so I was up at 5:45, read a bi5 and then loaded Bridget onto the Dakota, gassed up and headed into the early morning sun on 11/17. I arrived just as Brian and the gang did so timing was perfect. We unloaded the bikes and decided to bike to Sawyer Bay and then climb the head of the Sleeping Giant. The trail was in decent shape but there was a ton of climbing and descending. The roughest part of the trail seemed to be when we were going up or down. Small boulders littered the way and even the decscents were done at about 10kmph as the rock was just too loose to let go of the brakes for any fast fun. The climbs were another matter altogether. I stopped to wait for a minute at the top of one hill and thought I could hear a partridge thumping in the bush. I realized the thumping was far too regular and that it was my pulse making all the racket in the stillness of the great Canadian outback. Keeping my butt in the saddle and leaning forward to hold down the front wheel was the only way that worked for me. I walked more than a few of the longer hills. My pedals and shoes would really have helped towards the top as the added set of leg muscles can really save you when you can't push anymore. It took us nearly 90 minutes to cover the 6.5km to Sawyer Bay.

We had a drink and locked up the bikes, shouldered our packs and headed off along the bay for about 1/2km then headed towards the back of the head. It looked impossibly high as we caught glimpses through the thick trees. Our sherpa guide Brian had made the climb once before and confirmed that it was a pretty steep trail. Soon the slope began to tilt and we were stepping from rock to rock and root to root, grabbing at small trees for support. The trail was trickier than usual as the heavy rain from last week left it wet in the shadows. Brian, Jennifer Kimberly and I reached the top at about 11am and were in for a treat. We looked back over to the east and could make out Silver Islet, Lake Marie Louise, several smaller lakes and with binoculars even picked out the Sea Lion. On the west side was Thunder Bay, Pie Island and I swear I could see as far as Pigeon River to the south. We arrived sweaty and warm but the westerly wind cooled us quickly and we scrambled for jackets. After numerous pictures and lunch we headed back down the goat path. We all found the descent tougher on the legs but easier overall. We had to be extremely careful not to fall. Kimberly had Chris' pup Shadow who tended to pull on the way up but even the pup was carefull on the way down.

Back at Sawyer Bay we had a few snacks and drinks before grabbing the bikes and heading to the steepest climbs we would face on two wheels. Everyone managed to get back safely and then we headed to the campground to sit around for a bit. Brian and I did another short level bike ride around the campgrounds. Alot of things have changed at the park that used to be Sibley Provincial when we went as kids, but much is still the same. The deer have replaced the moose, everything is more expensive but seems better cared for.

We had supper and then sat by a fire for a bit before it was time to head for town. It was a great day, a worthwhile climb and fun spending time with Brian in 'his' world. He literally could be a guide on the trails and even without the trails.

When I got home Sal hadn't eaten so we drove over to Festa Italiano and wandered around a bit, had some pasta and took a few canolies to go.

On Monday Sal, Jen, the Ginko and I went to pick strawberries at Belluz's Farm on Candy Mountain Road. We came back to town, dropped off Jen, then the Dakota and walked over to the cineplex to catch the latest Ice Age movie. I admit to dozing a bit during the movie but hey, it was a long weekend.

Friday, July 31, 2009

July Wrap

Almost made it. I started out like gangbusters as they say but a baseball comittment and some horrible weather this week cut me a few km short. I guess it could have been worse, like 0 km this week and in a cast or something. Farz looked over the chain and said it just let go. So I know it wasn't my mechanical skills, just super powerful legs...and about 240 lbs pouncing on the pedals.

August is another tough goal but with a week off maybe I can hit the mark this month.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Right as Rain

On the way back to work at lunch it had begun to rain. Do you want me to drive you back she said, no thanks. Do you want your rain gear, no I'll be ok. Do you at least want your light rain jacket, nope it'll be fine. As I sat waiting for a change of the lights at the Harbour Expressway during the noon monsoon I knew I had been right, wouldn't have mattered if I had worn the rain gear, I'd still be soaked to the skin.
Hi, when you go out could you drop me off a t-shirt, I said.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Crash

I've spent most of the weekend scoring and announcing a Little League Tournament but took time out to have my first crash. I left the diamond to go home for a bit between games and while climbing up the East End bridge Molly's chain broke as I was standing to push her up. I went down over the bars and held her up for a bit. Wasn't going too fast when I hit the pavement and other than a sore knee and some minor road rash everything seems fine. I got over the bridge and then paddled with one leg and the chain in my hand to get home, ate, changed bikes and went back. I'll probably be stiff in the morning but it could have been a whole lot worse I guess. Have to take the chain into Farzum and get his opinion as to why it let go. It's a heavy single speed chain so that really should not happen, or maybe these old legs just have so much power that something had to give.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tour on the Brain

Sunday was another ride out to Mom & Dad's. A new record as I covered the 56 km in 2 hours and 12 minutes thanks to some roadie's on 61 and having the tour on the brain. One passed me and commented "you're really moving on that thing". That 'thing' being Bridget. If not for the gravel of Sturgeon Bay Road I'd have taken Jill and maybe Mr. Arrogant wouldn't have had the chance to pass at all as even with the extra weight and heavy tires of a mountain bike I was on his tail for quite a while. Then he decided to take a drink of water and spit it out over his shoulder splashing my knees in the process. I guess he figured he had left me far behind. When he started clearing his nose I decided to quit pushing to hold onto his wake.

On the road in I kept naming the climbs a la Tour de France. Col du Carroll, Col de Beaver Pond, Col du Beaver Pond deux, Col du Walker Road, Col du Gravel Pit. I crested Col du Gravel Pit doing 14kmh where normally I'm struggling with granny at about 4kmh. It sure made the climbs easier, that and finally having the extra muscles to pull up on the pedals with my shoes. We all had a great day and my big salad with maple mustard dressing seemed to be a hit (credit for the dressing to the Angry Trout in Grand Marais).

The only disappointment of the day was seeing Tom Watson let the Open slip through his grasp. Sure would have been nice to watch. My best tv golf memory is Jack Nichlaus winning the Masters at 46 in 1986, Tom might have topped it. Maybe next year.

Friday, July 17, 2009


It was a long week at work so let's just say thank God it's Friday. I cracked 700km for July with a long ride after work meandering through Westfort. The good 'ole weatherman was right again, it did rain this week. I like when he's right and it rains just enough so he can say "See I told you it was going to rain". It only rains when I bring the rainsuit. Guess what hasn't been in the packsack all week?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


For the second time all summer? the weatherman was right. It was 4 degrees this morning when I hit the road for work. Our furnace was on to prove it. Back in the groove km-wise today. Hopefully Mr. Meterologist will be batting his usual .100 and be wrong about the rain.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day Off

I took a bit of a breather today putting in just 14km. Sunday's ride to Kakbeka was a quick one. After a slow start I flew down Oliver Road on the way in averaging nearly 30 kmh and that was before the big winds that blew later in the day. Sal and I pedalled over to George Burke Park for some Little League games so 84 km in total for the day. Too much time in the sun for me as I felt a bit out of sorts today.

Life changes again tomorrow as she heads back to work in the evenings.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Little Closer To Home

The Caribou Restaurant is sponsoring a 100km ride in September in support of the Northern Cancer Fund. No fundraising just an entry fee and go. I'm looking forward to that as it will be great to have a ride for a good cause in our backyard.

I'm heading out for a quick ride to Kakabeka and back Sunday morning and will pass the 4000km mark for '09 about 10 minutes in. The early morning rides are great as I get 20km in before work every day when it's cool and traffic is minimal.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

But You Still Have to Push It

A few years ago we needed a new lawn mower and I got an old-school push mower. Everybody complained that it didn't work and that it was too hard to use so I broke down and got an electric mower so that they could help out. I grew up with gas mowers (my dad is thinking how I grew up watching gas mowers, not necessarily using them) and despise dragging cords around the yard. The funny part? is I'm still using the push mower. Anyone want to buy an electric mower?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Maybe It Is the Bike

One week into July and I'm alost halfway to my mileage for all of June which included 200km in Toronto. (note:I'm sure glad I'm not down there breathing heavily right now, pu) Dragging Bridget out of the basement was one of the best things I could have done motivationally. She really wants to go and I'm just along for the ride.

It didn't take Lance long to make an impact at the Tour as he managed to put himself into a virtual tie for the overall lead. Won't be surprised if he's wearing the maillot jaune very soon.

Fellow biker and blogger Jill Homer set a record to be proud of in the Tour Divide, a 2740 mile mountain bike race from Banff to the Mexican border. She shattered the female record by 4 days! Way to go Jill.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4 Sprinklers, NO Waiting

On Saturday Sal, Ginko and I headed to camp for the day. I rode out on Bridget at 8:07 under clear skies and a bit of a chill in the air. I headed out through Westfort and then decided on the Rosslyn Road/130 stretch to get to 61. I hit the gravel of Sturgeon Bay Road at about 9:55 and arrived in 2 hours and 27 minutes including a 5 minute delay for a train and a few stops to smack the computer. Got to get a gps!
Sal and Ginko arrived about an hour later. We practiced some hitting, played bocce and Ginko ran around under 4 sprinklers pumping water onto the front lawn. We had lunch and Sal made supper, I stirred the wild rice, don't ridicule me I'm only the shoe chef! It was a beautiful day and everyone was whipped by the end.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Good Morning Deer

On my way through Boulevard Park this morning a young deer came bouncing up towards me along the pathway. We both slowed and she turned and took off in the opposite direction in a hop-hop-leap stride. She paralleled the pathway for 50 yards or so at about the same speed I was going. It was a great start to the day. That more than made up for the lack of deer at Mission Marsh this week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Monday Blues Roll In Again

There's only one thing good about a week with two Mondays, the two Fridays that follow. Today definitely felt like another Monday, so much so that I left without putting out the garbage. Got in a 20km ride before work today and another 18km after so we're ahead of schedule even if it's just 2 days in. I fixed the computer problem so I won't have to fiddle with Google maps to figure distances. I even got the nerve to wear bike shoes and shorts to and from work, I hate riding in anything else if it's more than half an hour or so. Hopefully David didn't hurt himself laughing at the sight of me in the shorts. I'm looking forward to second Friday and another weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day Ride

I planned to take a longish ride today but the weather forecast was somewhat gloomy so I didn't get my hopes up. As the morning went on the sun made an appearance and the temperature climbed enough to get me moving. I pulled the clipless pedals from Jill and put them on Bridget, removed the front wheel and computer she shares with Eyowen, put her outside and lubed the chain. I wore long sleeves and something over my shorts since it really wasn't that warm. Before I even left the yard the speedometer wasn't reading and the clock was off. Rather than wasting more time I decided to just go without. I realized a few minutes later that I had no phone, no pump, no emergency goodies, just a bottle of water. Really not planning on leaving civilization I decided to go on without. I headed out through Westfort and down Rosslyn Road. Bridget's nice big tires and front shock smooth the ride nicely. I had always noticed Rosslyn Road continued right into Stanley but was gravel so I had never risked taking a skinny wheeler out there but had no excuses today. A few km past Rosslyn Village the road turns narrower and to gravel. Best of all there are zero cars. For more than 30 minutes I heard nothing but the tires crunching on dirt, the wind and a few birds. With a dead computer I wasn't worrying about average speed or how fast I was going I just enjoyed the ride. I love the farms along the Kam River and this trip I got to see them from both sides as I crossed over to River Road to start heading back to town. I decided to try another gravel road and came in on Candy Mountain Road and then Riverside Drive. The gravel didn't last long and a few turns had me wondering if I was heading the right way but since I was still going in the general direction I just plugged along and soon emerged on 61 and came in on Chipewa Road and then back through Westfort. 62 km in just under three hours so July is off to a good start. June was another failed month as fars as goals went and July will be tough to hit but we'll see. Birdget confirmed her place and now I need to fix a few things to get her into shape.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Can't Do It?

This afternoon I finally decided to clean up Bridget (Marin Bolinas Ridge -hardtail mountain bike) and bring her to Petrie's to possibly sell or trade in. She hasn't been out of the basement all year so I thought why not get something I can use. I spent the better part of an hour pulling her apart and taking off mud and grease. When I hopped on for a trip to the video store and then to see Farzum I did not have the mind-changing ride I thought I might have. She seems so big in relation to my other bikes, the frame is in fact a bit too big. The problem is how do you get rid of a bike that you have named? The ride home just may have changed my mind. I still want to spend a weekend at Sleeping Giant riding the trails, sleeping in a tent, cooking over a campfire and none of the other girls are going to fit that plan. From now on, no more names on the frames.

Conquer Cancer '09

Sal and I headed for Toronto just after 7am on Thursday the 11th. It was a typical TBay spring morning, cool with the added challenges of fog along the lake. The temperature reading in the Dakota would swing wildly all day. We saw a low of 5 and a high of about 19 once we left the shores of the big lake. At one point we had struggled to 14, entered another fog bank and saw 7 just minutes later. Traffic and construction was minimal so the 10 hour drive to Espanola was a good one. We found a roadside motel last year that is cheap and right on the highway so we stayed there again. We also found a good restaurant in the town and headed there for supper but this time around things weren't what we remembered. We brought sandwiches for lunch so a good meal was in the budget, we both ordered the house specialty, prime rib. You know you are in trouble when the prime rib has grill marks, not a bad steak but not as advertised.

We hit the nearby Timmy's at 7 on Friday for coffee to go with blueberry muffins Sal made and headed on to Toronto. At 1:00 we got on the 400 and into traffic with our gps 'Gloria' leading the way. By 2:30 we were at our hotel and after negotiating a parking spot we were ready for some rest and then down to the Direct Energy Center for Sal's Crew meeting. She volunteered for bike parking again. I took Jill out for a 20km ride along the lake shore and up the Humber River. I have as many miles this year as last but not as many long rides. My longest to date was 80km a month or so ago but I had done that with just an apple and one bottle of water so I was confident that I was up to the challenge of a couple of days in the saddle. 'Just another bike ride', I kept telling myself.

Jill had a slight ticking sound as I put weight on the handlebars and I spent some time trying to get it solved. I was finally satisfied that all was good so I turned her over to bike parking for the night, met Sal after her meeting and we headed back to the hotel and then walked to supper at Red Lobster. The new menu is really good as they have moved away from the fast food path they seemed to be heading down for a few years. We went back to our room and watched the Penguins shock the Wings and then it was lights out.

Our weekend began at 4:30am Saturday. Sal was required to be at her post by 5:30 so we were up and out by 5:10. I dropped off our gear and Sal then headed for overnight parking. Everything was moved around the grounds from last year. Bike parking was outside, overnight parking was outside and even the entrance to the grounds was not the same. There was little advantage to having been in the Ride last year as everything I thought was a known was just as much a mystery as it had been a year before. I checked out Jill and then rode over for breakfast, filled my bottles and then headed for the start line. I ran into a rider I had met a few times last year and we talked for a bit, took each other's pictures and waited for the 8am opening ceremonies.

The most disappointing thing happened at the opening ceremonies. The organizers chose not to announce the total raised. Last year when they announced the $14 million the crowd of riders roared and everyone hid their tears behind their sunglasses. The announcement was made at supper in Hamilton this time around but the effect was just not the same. In any case $14.5 million was raised this year and with the economy as it is the number is still staggering.

The time came to hit the road and the mass of 3530 cyclists surged toward the gate of the grounds and slowly moved onto Lakeshore Boulevard. The 4 lane street had one lane dedicated to bikes and things opened up quickly. Within a kilometer of the start people began having flats. I thanked Farzum in my head one more time for suggesting the Schwalbe Marathon tires. I have gone two years and never had a flat. We moved quickly up Lakeshore and then headed away from the lake towards the country roads. A map of the routes was uploaded from a gps and day one can be found here and day two here.

My first day was uneventful. I rode and talked with a few people along the way. As you move through slower riders you lose the people you are talking to, some are slower on hills, some are bolder at passing. Ten minutes may pass and the conversation continues as you settle into traffic again. The route was the same as last year as was the weather, cool and overcast with sunny breaks, perfect for a long ride. I maintained 22 kph over the 106km and came into Hamilton in 4 hours and 45 minutes. The hills didn't seem as tough so maybe my training was going to prove to be enough.

Our gear was unloaded at camp so I grabbed it and claimed a tent, showered and went to the main dining tent to listen to the bands. Sal took a break so we had supper together. We went back to bike parking and the other couple working there took their supper break so I helped out a bit. Things were definitely tight in the compound as there were very few parking spots left. One of the racks had collapsed during the afternoon and the bike shop that was on hand to make repairs had to haul a few out for wheel straightening. A few people rode in and looked like they had been through battle. Whether they had been on the road for 11 hours or spent time waiting for repairs I couldn't tell, but they looked pale and exhausted. One commented "bike for sale".

Once bike parking was closed we headed over to the main tent to relax. Sal and the other 300 crew members were asked to march through the tent and the riders showed them their appreciation with a round of standing applause. Things began to wind down so we headed for the comfort of our tent and new air mattress. Sal didn't forget our long night of 'sleeping' on the ground last year so the air mattress was a necessity. It made all the difference in the world. The camp was very quiet save a bit of whispering, giggling and snoring. We got a good sleep in before rising at 4:30 again for another day.

Sunday dawned clear and cool. I packed our gear once Sal went to breakfast and the parking lot. I checked in our gear and had breakfast before grabbing Jill and making my way to the start for the 7am launch. The route was the same for the most part but we had been warned about a short steep climb that was added as many riders felt the second 100km was too easy in 2008. As we rode along the escarpment the day was clear enough to see across the lake and make out the CN tower.

I arrived at the lunch stop (50km) at 9am so I was very happy with my pace but not so thrilled to learn that lunch had not arrived. I grabbed a granola bar and refilled my bottles and left, it was too early for lunch anyway. We were rolling along downhill at about 40kmh when I heard the gunshot sound of a tire blowing behind me. I never heard a crash so whoever it was must have kept the bike up but I don't know how. Shortly after we headed down and around a sharp 120 degree right and then a very steep hill where Jill topped out at 63kmh with the brakes on occasionally. As we slowed I looked up and knew this was a new stretch, a new steep stretch. In the distance the road made another sharp turn and continued to climb. About half way up my calves started to feel like they would cramp so I decided to stop and push for a minute or the rest of the day would be a mess. I walked for about 3 minutes along with a few others and then had a long drink and climbed back on and finished the hill. I wasn't proud of that few minutes but cramping for another hour and a half would be a lot less fun. The rider that posted the gps maps had the steepest part of the hill at a 17% grade.

I reached the last pit stop of the day at the 82km point and called Sal so she could get to the finish line. We were both happy that she got there this year. I told her I would be about 45 minutes as I had 20 km to go. As we rode closer to Niagara I started pushing Jill in the high gears holding onto about 30kmh. We had a lane to ourselves for the last 5 km or so and I got to an intersection with another rider just across from the finish line. We were held for about 5 minutes to let traffic clear and then got the signal to head in. I anticipated the nod from the policeman and led a pack down the narrow path and through the finish line. Sal saw me but I never found her in the crowd but I knew she was there and that felt good. I finished the second day's 102 km in 4 hours and 16 minutes and am very happy with that even though it's not a race, not officially anyway.

We took some pictures including the money shot with Jill held overhead, I had a rushed lunch (Sal had none) and then dropped off Jill, picked up our gear and boarded a bus that took us to the train station. The train ride back to Toronto took nearly 3 hours but was relaxing. We checked back into our hotel and walked over to the Pickle Barrel for supper. I ordered a half yard of Steamwhistle (the beer that was free in camp), Sal had a huge strawberry daiquiri and since we were both starving we started with a plate of nachos which without a doubt was the best thing we ate during the entire trip. We strolled back to the hotel and were asleep shortly after. On Monday we went to China town and Kensington Market before hitting the road back to Espanola. We arrived home on Tuesday at about 5pm and I still don't know why I wasn't tired for the rest of the week.

I want to thank everyone for the generous support, in two years we sent $10,515 to help with cancer research. I know that it is a small part of the $28.5 million but we can all be proud to have been a part of it. I wish everyone could be at the start line and feel the energy as 3500+ nervously await the start. It is a great feeling and I want to thank you all for your generosity and for allowing me to have that feeling, one that I'll always remember. As for the finish, the fight is far from over so who knows, maybe next year, maybe a new way to join in the fight.