Saturday, June 29, 2013

End of Week One

Friday was the last day of work for Mike and Mel. They decided on a day home for Cullen in the fall, a place where they both had great first impressions and where Cullen seemed to feel at home right away. While they were at work, and in Mike's case I use the term work to describe where he was rather than what he was doing, we took Cullen to one of the nearby parks. He had fun climbing around the equipment, swinging and playing in the rocks.

I went for a ride as Cullen napped and wound up with a flat about 2 km from home. For some unknown reason I had brought my mini pump and was able to pump for 5 minutes in exchange for about 5 minutes of riding. The flat was on the front wheel so I sat way back and nursed Bonnie home, pulled the tube and found a straight puncture. I had it changed and ready to go in about 15 minutes and then did a bit of work on all the bikes. Mike and I did another ride after supper.

I have to say I could see myself living here. It's not just the cycling, the proximity of Banff, or the availability of so much more entertainment. It's the whole vibe of the city. It's a young city, a positive city. Civic ingenuity seems to have it's Canadian headquarters in Calgary. There are too many progressive ideas being employed here to write about. Rather than complain about the innovations the citizens take hold and get with the program. An example, every home has a city issued garbage bin and a recycling bin. Soon they will have a composting bin. And they use them.

Flood update. People affected here will have money from the province in hand by the end of next week. Alberta put aside one billion dollars last week. Those out of their homes have already receive prepaid debit cards with $1200/adult and $500/child. More significant funds can be applied for Tuesday and will be out by Friday. I'm not even going to comment on how Ontario handled the Thunder Bay flood. Wait, did they ever handle it?

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, June 28, 2013

Time with Cullen

The weather continues to hold sunny, breezy and comfortably warm. I've gotten at least one ride in every day while Cullen has his morning nap. Today I did 32km in a long loop.

Cullen is a real entertainer. Most of the time he's happy, smiling and laughing. But then every once in a while he gets mad and his little temper flares. It's hard not to laugh. His vocabulary is growing by the hour. Tonight Mike went through an app with pictures and he tried to repeat many of the words, most he had never tried before. He is the house security guard. Don't leave any of the baby gates open or he's on your case right away, pointing at the gate. Leave a light on and he'll point that out too. Ask him if he wants a cookie and he races to the pantry door where the cookie jar is hiding. Ask him if he wants a bottle and seconds later he's tugging on the fridge door. He seems to understand everything we say to him. When he goes down to bed he rolls around singing happily to himself.

I had a training session online for the new website this afternoon and then Sal and I went to the farmer's market. There were very few people there so we were able to wander around at our leisure. Brandyn called and we Skyped with him about his report card. Once Cullen was in bed we enjoyed cherry pie from the market and played dominoes.

Last night Sal and I went to dinner at Milestones. We made our way to bed bath and beyond after a great meal and then home. With GPS we're game to go just about anywhere.

The big news around Calgary today was that a CPR bridge failed and 5 cars loaded with flammables were in danger of falling into the Bow River. Mel had to detour around the mess and her last commute to her old school was a 2 hour ordeal. It sounds like they have things under control now. The good news is that the highway to Banff is open again.

Cullen cleans up his 'milk art' with the help of Ollie.
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Best Part of the Ride

One of those things that make a ride is that you can eat pretty much anything if you go hard. Cullen has latched on to this concept. First some ice cream, then some of Nanny's cookies fresh out of the oven. Doesn't get much better, at least until you have a bike with pedals.

posted from Bloggeroid

They're Still There

The Rockies are still there just over my shoulder, teasing me with how close they are. As of this morning the Trans Canada is still closed.

posted from Bloggeroid

Feel Like a King

Riding on the streets here is sweet. There's almost no traffic here in the 'burbs and most of the roads are double wide and so smooth. Bonnie is much more suited to the streets than the bike paths. She is great on the open road but a bit of a chore on some of the twisty tight spots you have to maneuver to ride the paths. I've been getting out for an hour every morning and exploring the various neighborhoods. I'm adding a new area or two every day to expand where I can go without checking the map. I always have my phone in my jersey pocket tracking me so I can refer to it if I get anywhere you far off line.
Calgary is dealing with the flooding superbly. From their very progressive mayor on down they are keeping people informed and you don't get the feeling that they are BS'ing at all. The people are helping each other out and little things like kids on street corners selling lemonade or grocery stores asking you to round up your purchase to the next dollar for flood relief are positive signs that they will recover just fine. One thing I haven't witnessed is any negativity or complaining. People are doing what they are asked to do.
One item that might have caused some controversy was the Stampede planning to go ahead. Talk of folks not having power for a few weeks but the party going on had some questioning. But the Stampede committee had its own treasure chest and volunteer base, so as the slogan for this year goes, "come hell or high water" the show will go on. You can get a t-shirt with the slogan in support of flood relief, about 10,000 sold in the first few hours.
After supper last night Sal and I made another trip to IKEA to pickup the things we want for the house. The bathroom cabinets are a very tight fit in the car but they are in there. We're both looking forward to getting it all in and the new look.
I'm really enjoying hanging out with Cullen, he is a super kid. He even had the t-shirt to prove it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relaxing Day

My first full day in Calgary was a relaxing one. I read for a bit and then went for coffee and to watch Cullen have breakfast. Mike went to help a teacher at his school with flood damage so I went for a ride. With most of the trail system either under water or too close to it. So I mapped out a quick route through 5 of the small communities close by. My first lap was exploratory and once that was done I did another, Bonnie is fun to ride only when I can let her go a bit and not stopping and starting. Riding here makes you feel like a king as drivers are almost over cautious with bikes and pedestrians. They give you time and room like nowhere else, for an Ontario boy it is an adjustment to trust them.
After a shower Sal and I went to Ikea for some ideas to complete the work at home. I took pictures to relate back to when we return before heading home. We did get Cullen a little Poang chair to match the others in the  living room. We shared a huge burrito and then went for groceries.
Cullen loved the chair and smiles whenever he sits in it. We made salad, burgers and corn on the cob for supper and then just watched some hockey and relaxed.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, June 24, 2013

Prairie Dark

There's dark and then there's prairie dark. Add in a thunderstorm and you have my morning. It started more at night  than morning. I woke up to a google alert on the Trans-Canada at 2:30. I got another half hour of sleep before a thunderstorm woke me. I shaved and packed and as I finished it started to pour. I checked the radar map and saw that the worst would move north in a few minutes. So I read for 10 minutes and then loaded the car in light rain. I checked out at 3:30 Brandon time and headed straight for the highway. I was quickly passed by a transport going at least 110 so I let him go and flipped on the high beams. The rain was reflecting the light back and I was uncomfortable at anything over 80 as I couldn't see much except during the frequent flashes of lightning. Like driving in a tunnel of light.

Another transport appeared in the rear view mirror and I watched him go by in a massive spray. I accelerated and got on his tail just behind the wave of spray. I was to stay on his back bumper for 300 km. The night slowly began to peel back and I could make out a horizon faintly. The rain weakened and we continued speeding through the dark with the transport leading the way. About an hour later I came across an eerie scene. I could make out a dozen red lights on the north side of the road flashing in unison. The a slowly rotating blade appeared on the closest object, a wind  farm. More and more turbines continued to show themselves as I drove at least another 20 km with them in view. With the minimal ambient light they were somehow spooky. I found out later it was the Red Lily wind farm in Mooosomin.

At 6:24 Calgary time I texted Sal that I was at a Timmy's outside Regina having already covered nearly 400km. She was shocked. I got another google alert that the bridge at Medicine Hat might close even though the highest levels were not expected until Monday. With a speed limit of 110kmph I was doing 120 but kicked it up another 5. There were still people passing me moving away at least another 20kmph faster. I just hoped to get across in time. I crossed the crowded bridge at 11 Calgary time and then stopped for black coffee with a shot of espresso and some cookies for Cullen.

I arrived at the house 3 hours later and got a big hug from Sal. It's been a long 6 weeks. Cullen and I have hit it off. He ate from my fork and gave me a kiss good night so it was all worth it. Mike and I rode over to take a look at the Bow River from the bike path but it's mostly under water so we only got a brief peek. Mosquitoes were ravenous as I imagine they will be all summer with the water around here.  I'll post some pictures and video tomorrow but for now it's time to get some sleep.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day One

I woke up quickly at 4:30, no rolling over wishing I didn't have to move. My alarm was set 45 minutes in the future. I rarely need help to wake up. I checked the scale one more time and came fully awake as the 3 digits I have been looking for since January popped up, 230. No extra numbers, somehow exactly my target weight. I'm going with this being a good omen for the rest of the trip. Coffee brewing I downed a banana, supplies were right down the the bare minimum but I had a big bunch of my yellow friends for the trip. Almost everything was at the front door ready to be loaded.
A half dozen trips to the car and everything was in, then the rack and Bonnie. I started the Impreza at 5:23 and after a relatively fast stop at Timmy's I was on my way. More on that stop later. It was cool and foggy but not dense blinding fog, just the overnight ground varity.
I made good time arriving in Dryden at 9:48 so I went in to Timmy's, more to use the facilities than anything. I ordered a coffee and breakfast sandwich combo after the woman in front of me special ordered a dozen things from a girl in the third hour of her first shift. More of this, none of that, double the bacon and on she went. When I got my coffee there was a donut added, I have no idea why since I hadn't ordered one. Then off to the line to wait for the sandwich. "We're out of eggs," I overheard, the woman from earlier changed her already confusing order a little more. My turn and the sandwich maker apologizes they are out of English muffins and eggs because "everyone is ordering". Oh Oh time to close up until they stop I guess. I took mine on whatever kind of bun she had left and without the egg because "we don't know how long it will be".
Finally thrilled to make it out without melting down or having someone go postal while waiting to get their caffeine fix, I look out to the parking lot to see the drive through line wrapping around the building and blocking all of the parked cars in, mine included. After a nifty 59 point turn and waiting for a good samaritan to allow me five seconds to get through the line I was home free. So the award for most promising restaurant goes to Timmy's of Dryden, hey it can only get better.
I gassed up and hit the road making great time. I had some fruit, gatorade and cheese at the Manitoba border. Traffic was light until Kenora and then again around Falcon Lake. I bypassed Winnipeg and stopped for gas about 100km from Brandon, didn't need the gas but there were no other places with facilities.
I got to Brandon at 4:15 so 950 km in just under 11 hours. I had a great shower and a better steak and came back to my room to relax. Hopefully tomorrow goes as well. The Saskatchewan River is due to crest in Medicine Hat sometime tonight or tomorrow morning, or  maybe Monday. Reports vary but it will be the critical point of the day. I just hope I can get through without delay or major detours.

Friday, June 21, 2013

This Could Be Interesting

New from the west has the Trans-Canada closed at Canmore which fortunately is on the other side of Calgary so I should still be able to get there, unless the forecasted 100mm of rain materializes. I'm really not looking forward to sitting somewhere in the middle of Saskatchewan waiting for water to recede or bridge repairs. 

I was hoping to hit my target weight this morning but came up less than 1/2 lb shy. Maybe tomorrow. I think the scale is messing with me as I was well under last night. Regardless almost 65 lbs. shed since January 1, another day can't change that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Almost Packed, Ready to Go

I don't leave for Calgary until Saturday but have almost completed packing. This is going to be a long week as I try to get everything tied up with the house, hockey registrations and so on. I have enough music on the xoom (318 albums) to drive to the moon and back without listening to the same thing twice.

Brandyn and I went for another ride on Sunday over to Mission Marsh. He handled the bridges with no effort at all. I'm nervous with him at times but he has great control of the bike so I'm learning to trust his skills. We rode up on several deer as they aren't really afraid of human visitors over there and the bikes are quiet enough not to spook them. On the way back we stopped in at Charry Park where there is a small bike and skate board park. He had been trying to hit every puddle all morning and here he found a nice big one and rode through it over and over. He was very proud of the mess he made of his t-shirt. We stopped at his house for a change of clothes and then back to our place where we made salad to go with our scampi pizza. He helped cut up the salad and enjoyed it along with the pizza and cucumbers in vinegar. We started an online book for Cullen and then he messed around on the computer while the thunder boomed overhead. Back to his place for supper to wrap up another great day. Funny how one thing in common can change the vibe between us so quickly.

link to video

Mr. Cool, mountain biker

Having a blast

the mud makes it official

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Good Flat

A flat tire is not often seen as a good thing. Tuesday morning I headed down the basement to grab Lisbeth for the ride to work, saw the totally flat rear tire and uttered a few words of frustration. My only other geared option is Bonnie and she had my clipless pedals on and they are not handy for work as they require lugging another pair of shoes to change into. So out went Molly my skinny tire singlespeed.

The roads from home to the far west end of Victoria Avenue are not what I would call smooth. Parts of Victoria's bike lanes appear to have been mined for some rare surface material. Potholes abound. Molly is not a cushy ride, her frame is stiff and the tires carry 100 psi of air. Not great when dodging potholes. So I wasn't looking forward to an hour of pounding.

But I forgot how she feels. Speed is addictive. At lunch I have been riding out to Park Dale and back instead of eating, about 15km. I got back to Chapples golf course and checked the time, I had another 10 minutes to spare so I added a few laps. Today I added a lap to my morning ride and another at lunch. I just can't get enough of the speed even with just one gear to mash.

I came up behind a fully decked out rider just as I started my return from Park Dale. Let's just say his shoes and pedals are probably worth more than I have invested in Molly. I stayed with him for a bit fully expecting him to pull away slowly. Well if he was a car there would be four doors lying on the path under the expressway. On the slight climb from the underpass I had had enough of the view of his expensive Castelli shorts so I said "on your left" and zipped by. I was sure he'd be pushing me the rest of the way but that's the last I saw of him.

Having more than one bike may seem frivolous to some but for me having another ride that can totally motivate me all over again makes it all worth it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Epic Day

As bike rides go today wasn't long, it wasn't grueling, it wasn't even enough to break a sweat but it will probably mean more than any ride since Conquer Cancer. Brandyn and I set out for a day long adventure based around riding.

I set off at 8:45 with Lisbeth on the rack to park the car at the end of the bike path in Park Dale. I rode back to Curtis and Jen's to pick him up.We headed out and at first he was hesitant to leave the sidewalk but I convinced him he would be fine if he just stayed on the side of the deserted Sunday morning roads. We crossed a walk bridge by the CLE and he let me know that was his first bridge. I told him there would be lots of firsts today. We went through the parking lot and then walked across May St. and crossed another bridge to get to the bike path behind the McIntyre Center. From there it was bike path all the way to our destination 8.17 km later. At one point when he was coasting along and standing he said it felt like flying, "he gets it", I thought to myself.

We packed Sharon and Lisbeth and stopped at Timmy's for a coffee and muffin/lemonade and chocolate chunk cookie. A quick trip out Arthur Street and we were at the the Pennock Creek Trail in the 25th Side Road Tree Farm. We searched around for a bit riding on the pine needle covered trail and then took a few steep hills via push-a-bike across a pair of bridges into the main farm.

After a half hour he was tiring so we headed back to the 25th and rode out of one parking lot and back to the other, avoiding the steep trail. We drove to Mom and Dad's where lunch was waiting. He ate the biggest meal any of us had witnessed and then we were back on the bikes up and down the camp road. He loved climbing the short hill and then gliding all the way back down. He has little fear and I had to remind him to stay on the brakes. He did very well at every new obstacle other than pushing Sharon up one of the hills. It was short but mountain goat steep so I did it twice.

We went down to the lake, I walked and he rolled down the grass hills. He threw the required rocks in to Superior and then was back on his bike doing circles in the driveway. He slept most of the way home but was awake for a second deer sighting of the day.The bear cub we had seen on the way in was nowhere to be found.

I dropped him off thinking he's had enough but he put on his helmet and rode off down the sidewalk with a "thanks poppa". No, thank you Brandyn.

at Pennock Creek Trail

around and around
time to get dizzy

the wind up

Friday, June 7, 2013

People of the Path

I guess I must be tired because I know I'm grouchy, I should be wearing my SURLY hat today. It's really the brand name of my #1 bike but that's how I feel.

My day started at 6:10 with my alarm. I dragged myself out of bed, made a big breakfast, made 1/2 cup of coffee. The other half went into the base of the machine as the cup was still in the cupboard. I left at the usual time but my legs felt heavy. I got to Victoria and Balmoral and waited for a red light. And then another. And finally got a green after three opposing advanced greens. Bike friendly Thunder Bay my ass. On I went and the rest of the 10km was uneventful.

Work is work, never really thrilled to be there, and that's all I'm saying right now on that subject.

At lunch I take a 15km ride through the paths to Parkdale and back. Riding without a jacket felt fantastic. "just what I need", I thought as I pedaled steadily in the sunshine. And then the string of path people began to emerge. Two city workers bombing along in a wide bodied quad taking up both lanes. Two mommies deep in discussion about the benefits of nursing over bottle feeding with their strollers taking up both lanes. A guy standing in one lane reading his phone while his dogs extend their leashes across the other. I finally got clear of the traffic at James Street and enjoyed the rest of the way out.

I didn't think the way back could be worse, wrong again. Kids at Churchill High use the pathway for their lunchtime picnics, often taking a lane and a half and sometimes both. Today was no exception. Then as I hit the Edward Street underpass I ran into about 100 kids returning to school from their track meet. I cleared the first herd and then decided to go to the street leaving them to wander both sides of the path.

I don't want more than about 12 inches of the right lane. I don't expect people to jump out of the way and I don't go past at full speed. I try to be considerate, but they are just trying.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May Miles and Renovations

Despite the snow and torrential rain I put 687 km on the girls in May. It would just be nice to ride and not always be cool but at least the snow is finally gone, he said looking skyward with fingers and toes crossed. I've been piling on the miles during work days and it is helping shed weight, 59 lbs this morning. Only 5 pounds to my first goal weight of 230.

The bathroom and kitchen floors are done after a crazy day where the plan changed three or four times. I was alone at work with all kinds of obstacles including no phones, orders, warranties and shipments piling up around me as I'm trying to talk to the heavily accented installer. Leveling cement won't work we need to put down some plywood, or you could take up old tile. Not right now I can't just do what you have to do. I'll fight it out with Sears when the bill comes in. The painting is ongoing. Hopefully the bathroom will be done by Thursday and the vanity in Friday. Saturday is booked for HNO meetings and Sunday is going to be a much needed day off.