Saturday, July 27, 2013

Women and Men

I came across the website of a high end cycling clothing company (Rapha) that not only sells it very expensive line of shorts, jerseys and gloves but has many videos and cycling related writing. When I first saw the picture and the huge gear I thought it was just a mock up for the sake of a few laughs. When I read the story and watched the video all I could think!

I took my tablet into the kitchen to share with Sal. She looked at it briefly and then simply asked, "Why?"

And there lies a difference between women and men. Had I shown this to any guy whether or not they ever climb onto a bike, they would have at least shown a few moments of interest in the mechanics of the one off bike. I don't know why this young Englishman got this idea into his head and felt he had to try to build and ride a bike 100 mph, I only wish it had been me. I wish I could weld up a frame to satisfy a whim. As I guy I would just ask, "Why not?"

Long story short he managed to get to 80 mph behind his 50 year old car but ran out of runway and car. He rode on rollers and got to 100 mph. The story is not quite finished as he has a friend building a car for racing that will serve as his next lead out.

Check out the video here

Friday, July 26, 2013

Not So Bad

The date had been lurking on my calendar for three months, July 23rd.  Memory flashes of a Robin Williams bit flickering in my head whenever I thought about it. [check it out here , caution adult language].  Dates like this sneak up on you, they seem so far away and then the dreaded day is tomorrow. Colonoscopy Tuesday, oh boy. When my doctor said I was at the age when he thought I should have one I was less than enthusiastic.

The process started three days before with a restricted diet which of course makes the best things for you a no no. No fresh fruits or veggies, the staples of my weight loss. And on top of that all the kids were over for a barbeque Sunday. Sal made me a couple of salads without the illegal ingredients so it wan't a huge issue.

Then the day before it comes down to gatorade, jello and clear broth. I have to say I enjoyed the beef and chicken broth, but the taste of orange jello will never again pass over my tongue.

Along with a minimalist diet comes a few packages of stomach roto-rooter which didn't taste as horrible as I was told. For the longest time nothing happened and I was re-reading all of the instructions thinking I had missed a step. Hours later, in the wee hours of the night I was wearing a path between the couch and the bathroom, I'll leave further details to your imagination.

We reported to the day surgery department promptly at 9:30 only to sit for an hour and a quarter before being called in to get started. It all got real in a hurry when the nurse started explaining about polyps, clipping, biopsies and other less pleasant things. I hadn't thought much about results, dreading the process seemed enough. When I heard I would probably fall asleep and the worst part was the previous night I wasn't convinced. 

Sal left after being told it would be a few hours. As other patients returned there was the continuous expulsion of gas and nurses telling the groggy source that it was good to get that out. I really didn't want to be lying there in the middle of who knows how many people sounding like a three cylinder motorboat with two spark plugs. After re-reading an old issue of Macleans I was finally on the way. I remember answering a few questions and asking one, then waking up back in my parking spot feeling ready to go. I had a few cookies and a drink. Sal showed up a few minutes later and I dressed. 

The doctor is supposed to come by and go over things. I had a vague memory of a nurse telling me all was good, no polyps and then zzzzzzz. I was still in dreamland when that happened. After sitting for an hour plus I went to the nurse's station. I had been up and around for nearly two hours. I was told there were four more procedures to go and then ignored. I just stood there until another nurse came along. She offered me the chart and showed me everything was clear. She wouldn't say go but said I had nothing to worry about and I have a follow up with my own gp anyway. Off we went. All in all nothing like I had feared but I'm glad it's off my calendar.

Monday, July 15, 2013

People Can't Be This Stupid

I rode over to the Westfort diamonds on Saturday to drop a cheque and take in a couple innings of the All-Star tournament. Our guys won with a grand slam in the top of the 6th, nice.

On the way back down Walsh I came across 6 cars parked all over the bike lane for what looked like a birthday party, 'no parking' signs all over them. Across the street there was parking available for almost all of them, which you can see in the picture below.

I don't think is stupidity, I think they all just said "bike lanes, who cares". I sent a picture to the guy at the city and he said to call the police next time and they would come and ticket them all, somehow I doubt that.

With the room left for parking on one side the lane on the left was not wide enough for a car and a bike to share. It is just after one of the hydro towers so a car coming around there would not see me in the middle of the lane until he was right on me.

parking is ok on the right side against the curb 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back to the Grind

After two weeks of eating pretty much whatever I wanted, it was back to the 'Lose It' diet plan Monday. I managed to gain only 3 lbs. in Calgary and have shed that and another 3 already with lots of riding and not much eating. I turned down the crazy this morning and had a big breakfast. It sure was good to go below 230lbs. for the first time in probably 20 years. If you're planning to start a diet here's a suggestion. Make your initial weight something like 255lbs.. When you lose that first 5lbs. it becomes 249lbs.. Then you are halfway to the first 10. You get two bits of motivation very quickly. Helped me immensely. Those middle numbers changing really spur me on to keep going. I hope to see that first number go down sometime in October. A party will follow.

Mike managed to get to Ikea and bring us the correct pieces for the bathroom cabinets. It turns out they messed up the order, not us. Does anyone need stainless steel legs for a double wide tall Lillangen cabinet? Didn't think so. And of course the cabinets are on sale this week.

Another series of flats has plagued Molly this week. Mike has Lisbeth while he's here so I had to get something back on the road. Bonnie's front wheel is at Petrie's and Eyowen is being welded. I finally got a good patch on Molly's front wheel at 10 last night and rode this morning with no issues. It's a good thing I have 4 bikes to choose from.

June saw another 711km on the bikes and I passed 2000km earlier this week. My legs feel very strong, I might just have to sign up for the Caribou Ride in September.

bike art at Cibo
the wall behind is made from various historical buildings

another shot from my turn
on Cullen watch at Cibo

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homeward Bound

I had teased Sal about an early start to the drive home all day Friday and she surprised me by being awake at 6:00 am. I downed a quick black coffee, we had goodbye hugs and we were ready to go. Everybody was up to see us off which made leaving a little easier. That and the fact that we would see them all again in less than a week.

We were on the road by 6:50 Calgary time under cloudy skies that would rain lightly most of the morning. The now familiar towns breezed by, Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Maple Creek, Regina. A perfect day for driving as it stayed cool until we got to Manitoba. The sun appeared as we approached the border and after the adventure with the lady in the tin foil hat I got to see the wind farm at Moosomin in daylight. It was much less eerie but there's still something about the size and the slow rotation of the arms that chills me.

We arrived in Brandon at about 5:30 local time after almost 11 hours on the road and just under 1100 kilometres. We went to Montana's after showering and shared a burger, a few appetizers and a dessert that was less than spectacular. Sleep came easy.

Sunday morning saw us up and gone by 7:00 again. We stopped for coffee, gas and breakfast sandwiches in Winnipeg but not for long. Timmy's might not be the best food but at least it is consistent across the country, except for Dryden. Traffic both days was very light. Even in Ontario we had very few tie ups that passing lanes didn't solve quickly. I have to say I would rather drive across Saskatchewan than Ontario any day.

Yes the prairies can be flat and boring. Around Winnipeg the complete lack of any hills is a bit tedious. But further west the rolling hills and big wide views are very calming especially on days like we witnessed. Saskatchewan calls it the 'living sky' and it truly is. With partial cloud and 180 degree views from the drivers seat, the landscape is dotted with sunny patches and shaded pastures, bright yellow of fields of canola shining in sunlight against a sky that is bruised with purple and blue. Look to the south and the sky is clear blue, to the east huge clouds with bright white candy floss tops and in the north clouds that are so close to the ground you could disappear into them dumping rain onto the hills that rise up to meet them. Herds of cattle dot the hills and there's always the question "what did that lone cow over there do to be shunned by the rest of the herd?" Small stands of trees protecting farms big and small. There's always something to look at even if its is 20 kilometers away on the horizon. As a bonus the highway is 100% divided from the Manitoba border to the Pacific. Ontario should have taken care of this long before it became a have not province.

It was good to get home but the trip was more than worth the driving time which I kind of look forward to. Getting to spend two weeks with Mike and his family will never be boring, riding in Banff was exhilarating and hugging Sal after 6 weeks apart was the best.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Day in Cowtown

Friday, Mike and Mel treated us to lunch at Cibo, a great modern Italian restaurant. It took nearly an hour to get there with the traffic on 17th Street. Once we were seated Cullen was looking around and behaving very well. After another half hour there he got restless and we took turns walking him around and letting him explore.

Mike and I went for a last bike ride to the Bow River Pathway to check on the level of the river. About 10 minutes from home I heard a 'pop' and stopped to check it out. It sounded like another flat but both tires were still hard. I spun the front wheel and the rim was hitting the brake pad on one side. Broken spoke, something I could fix if not for the timing. I released the brake and we started back but then decided that even with the rim wobbling a bit I could ride so we continued. The level of the water was down a bit more, but more heavy rain hit later in the weekend and closed some roads again. We did about 20 km and limped home. At least it didn't happen in Banff.

The rest of the day was spent packing and playing with Cullen. We're sure going to miss seeing him every day.

Cullen checking out the waitress
Nanny making Cullen laugh
or is it the other way around?

Cullen and me hamming it up
last ride with Bonnie, over the Bow River

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bizarre With a Capital B

So we're driving along the Trans Canada just minding our own business, cruise set for 10kmph over the limit as is my habit. We come up behind a small Honda Fit that is parked behind a tractor trailer and Sal asks why is that car staying behind the truck, it's not like it's hard to pass out here. The Trans Canada in every other province out west is twinned you see, hard to imagine for those of you from northern Ontario. So I move to the left lane and we slowly pass both the truck and the Honda. Seconds later here comes the Honda to pass me and then park behind the next rig in the line. This was repeated a few times. But, this is not the bizarre part!

As we pass the woman we see she has a silver babushka on her head. Like a scarf tied on but it looks like it's made of tin foil. On the second pass I snap three pictures with my phone. As she passes us we can see the foil extends all the way to the back hatch. It was one of those emergency blankets.

Please comment if you can explain. I had few ideas but none of them are right, at least I hope not.

Her head was cold and the sun hitting the back window warmed the blanket and then her head. It was 27 at the time.

Better reception from the mother ship.

She's a trucker groupie and wanted them to know she brought her own blanket.

Really had a good laugh but can't figure this one out at all.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, July 5, 2013

Back To Calgary

After showering we walked over to Lynx St. and Melissa's Missteak for breakfast. It may have been the 'pickle barrel' syndrome ( see but my huervos rancheros with chorizo was amazing. Some toast and lots of black coffee and I was ready to roll. We walked along Banff Avenue but didn't really feel much like shopping so we went back to the hotel, checked out and started back to Calgary.

The whole gang went to Costco for groceries later in the afternoon. Cullen had fun in the playhouses and at checkout time I took him back for another try to keep him occupied. After amazing steaks we played with Cullen and then some dominoes. I stayed up until about 1:00am writing the post about my ride in Banff.

On Thursday Sal and I went out to finish our shopping. First stop was the Farmer's Market for some pies from Simon's. We planned our supper and picked up veggies to go with some scallops to make kabobs. Off to downtown and Wai's Barbeque Shop in China town for pork and duck. Next stop the T and T Market, a mall but more like an indoor China town. The grocery store is stocked with an incredible array of food and ingredients, many I've never even heard of. Who knew a grocery store could be a tourist attraction. We could have spent a day here just looking but we wanted to beat the traffic. We had trouble getting tilapia that wasn't frozen at other stores, here they had about 100 of them swimming in a tank next to live crab and lobster. We did have time to try the dim sum and it was good but a bit hurried looking. It was a busy place and although it tasted great it wasn't as appealing to the eye as the restaurant in China town we visited earlier.

In the parking lot we came across a small Honda with its entire bumper sitting on the pavement in front of it. As I drove by I took a quick picture and you can see the broken amber of the turn signal and a note under the wiper.

We beat the traffic and were back across town in less than 30 minutes. The kabobs turned out really well. Another evening of playing with Cullen and more dominoes. Mike picked up some Black Amber beer that went down very nicely.

One more day before we hit the road back to Thunder Bay. I'm not sure where we're going to put everything in the Subaru. Speaking of the Subaru it sure smells good after transporting two barbeque ducks and barbeque pork around for the day.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, July 4, 2013

One Off the Bucket List

After having nothing but good luck all day Tuesday I almost expected thunder storms. I woke up at 5:30 but it was a bit dark. I could feel that it had cooled off over night. At 6:15 I couldn't wait any longer. I took another look out the window and dressed in my bib shorts and new Canada jersey. I decided against taking the camera and loaded my pockets with the bare essentials, phone, mini pump, glasses and change to buy a water. I had an extra tube but had forgot the tire irons, a flat today could mean a very long walk in cycling shoes. And then the pop machine was out of water. Had my luck changed over night too?

I took the elevator down to the parking garage, unlocked Bonnie and put on the rest of my gear. I was as nervous as I was before the first Conquer Cancer. So many unknowns. The waiter at Grizzly House had said something about more uphill than down because the loop to the lake was only open one way. Would I be able to climb the hills or would I be walking? Would there be traffic? Would the road be wide enough at this early hour? Would I flat and spend the morning slogging along in cycling shoes? Would I meet a bear?

Finally I just said "hell Ron it's just a bike ride, in Banff, relax and enjoy it".

I left the parking garage and out Banff Ave. towards the Trans Canada. I tried one gas station for water but it wasn't open. Nevermind, I wasn't thirsty anyway. It was cool and breezy, the mountains looked crisp with some clouds hanging at the peaks. Cascade Mountain which overlooks the town, filled my view. The road to Lake Minnewonka goes around the base so it grew until I couldn't see anything else. I could smell elk but never did see anything larger than a woodchuck. I rode the shoulder of the deserted road with a surface that was smoother than just about anything in Thunder Bay. Just before I crossed the highway I came to the first Texas gate designed to keep the wildlife off the road. Not thinking I crossed it doing about 20kmph. This was the only time I would ride across as I nearly got shaken from the saddle and Bonnie was rattled. When I stopped at the gate on the far side I saw why. They are made of tubes about 5 inches in diameter with 4 inch spaces between them. Enough room for a hoof to fall between which deters the wildlife. Enough room for a wheel to easily slide between and become a taco shaped recyclable and throw a clueless rider's ass over his red handle bars. I stopped and walked across the rest of these obstacles.

The road climbed slowly although I really didn't feel I was climbing. My legs felt a bit sluggish but slowly warmed up. I stopped and took a few pictures as the cool air and early morning sun made for some amazing views across the valley. About half way to the lake the grade got steeper and I geared down. Normally standing to climb is not an option as I tend to suffer calf cramps if I push too hard. Not today. I bounced up the last half, a little winded but feeling strong. The lunch time workouts paid off.

The road dropped now and as I coasted along at 40kmph the mountain air cooled my sweat, another sweet pay off. At the bottom of the hill a reduced speed limit of 30 had me thinking I had arrived. Instead I came to sheets of water flowing across the road. Another ten minutes and I was in the parking lot. There were only a couple of cars to be seen. I went to the lake, took a few pictures and then started back. As I passed the water again I had a strange sensation. It felt like I was going downhill but the water on the side of the road was flowing in the opposite direction. Banff is a special place but even here the water flows downhill. Very odd.

As I continued back to town I realized why my legs had felt a bit heavy. I didn't have to pedal much at all. The ride in had been mostly uphill and I guess I spent so much time soaking in the views and Bonnie is so easy to move that I didn't realize I was climbing. I got back to town and then decided to take the ride on Tunnel Mountain which I had planned to do before talking to the waiter the night before. A long climb started right away. I was able to ride this one quickly and was soon treated to some wide views high over the valley. The ride down was steep and long with Bonnie touching 54kmph with the brakes on just enough to stay in control. I just don't trust her or the road enough to let her go. I had read someone say they reached 90 going down this hill and found that hard to believe. I'm a believer now.

I had about 20km behind me and time for more so I just meandered around Banff Ave. for a while and then decided to take the short ride to Bow Falls. As I took the left the road dropped quickly in a half km spiral. The falls were more of a rapids in my book even with the river being as high as it is. I took a picture and clipped in dreading the steep climb out. I guess my legs were just warming up as I easily pedaled up. Another 20 minutes exploring around town and my time was up. I entered the underground parking lot, put Bonnie in the rack and took the elevator back to the room.

Sal was reading by the open window and asked how it was, "good" I answered. She was surprised. "Just good?"

Yes, just good. Great would be to go for a whole day. Fantastic would be to live here and ride amidst this beauty every day. Good will have to do, this time.

From the GPS tracking:
Date: July 3, 2013 6:40am
Total distance: 31.69km
Time: 1:40
Average Speed: 18.98kmph
Max speed: 54kmph
Max elevation: 4834 ft.
Min elevation: 4249 ft.
Elevation gain: 1248 ft.
Max grade: 10%
Min grade: -8%

posted from Bloggeroid

Banff, the Details

We left at 8:30 and after a small snarl in traffic made great time. Not that we were in a hurry, but I guess I was just to get there. The highway was clear and four lanes clipping along at 110 except the area around Canmore. Debris and logs were piled up and some new pavement had been laid down. The damage was at a point where a ravine crossed the highway but seemed to be at the top of a hill.

We entered the town of Banff to try and get a supper reservation but Grizzly House was closed so we left headed for Lake Louise. Initially I planned to just have a quick lunch and then go to the Ice Fields Parkway but we decided to go to the lake for a quick look. I dropped Sal at the head of the path from the parking lot and went to park the car. The temperature was about 29. I found a parking spot close by. In the shadows of the tall pines with their amazing scent we strolled down the path. There it was, that creamy blue-green against the dark green of the surrounding pines and dark blue of the mountains. There were plenty of people but nothing like the last time we were there. We walked around the shoreline amidst a dozen languages. Sal dipped her toes and was surprised that the water was not that cold. There were families actually swimming, something that seemed almost sacrilegious to me.

We left and climbed the 14 km of 75% grade to Moraine Lake, by far my favorite place on earth. There were cars parked along the side of the road at least a kilometer from the parking lot but I was sure my luck would hold. After the four cars in front of us passed, a set of backup lights came on and we had a good spot just a short walk from the lake. To me the color of the water in Moraine is more amazing, a deep sapphire blue that looks almost unnatural.  We walked along the shoreline in shade and a cool breeze which was a welcome break from the 32 degree day. Sal dipped her toes and this time the glacier fed water was as cold as expected. We returned and I climbed the steps to the top of the rock pile. The sun was in a bad spot for pictures but I snapped away.

It was too late for the Ice Fields Parkway so we tried the Bow Valley Parkway but it was closed so we drove back to Banff. We checked in at 4pm and took the elevator to our room. On entering there were three bad signs, an open window with southern exposure, a ceiling fan and a wave of heat. The room had no a.c., surprise surprise. I guess they rarely need it but it was 33. We cranked the fan to high and closed the curtains on the sun. I looked back to the website and sure enough no mention of a.c., I just assumed I guess. There was a.c. in the hallway, no idea how that makes sense.

We watched the pictures on the memory card through the tv and I was disappointed in the shots I had taken with the new dlsr. At least I have some decent pictures of Cullen.

We walked a couple of blocks to Grizzly House and got the last of eight outside tables, luck still holding. Ahhh. Shade and a cool breeze. First course was French onion soup for me and a house salad for Sal. I tried a Big Rock Black Amber ale, brewed right here in Calgary, a great dark ale. Next up a fondue with wine, garlic, bruyere cheese and bread. Our waiter scraped the bottom of the cheese pot for a nugget of crispy cheese that ended the course. Next up a hot rock grill on the table with beef, shrimp and scallops in garlic butter. Finally fruit with a Toblerone chocolate fondue. I was wearing a livestrong shirt and our waiter asked if I was a Lance fan, not anymore I told him. He asked if I was riding and then checked on what was open. First choice would have been the Bow Valley Parkway which wasn't an option so he said to try Lake Minnewanka.

We walked back to the hotel in a light rain that felt very good after a long hot day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Great Day in Banff

Hot, but sunny and not too crowded.
Better pictures will follow when I get back to Calgary. We're a bit surprised that our hotel room has no a.c., probably don't need it often but it's 33 here today.

Live From Banff

The Bow and every little stream are still swollen. We're in Lake Louise heading for the Ice field Parkway.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Poolside with Cullen

On Saturday we went to the Saskatoon Farm just outside Okotoks, about 30 minutes south. The restaurant there was packed and the heat and lack of ac meant trying another spot in Okotoks. Cullen was fun throughout lunch and we kept him amused on the drive home.

When we got home Cullen took a nap and then Mike pumped up his pool and he went for a dip. He was shaking a bit after half an hour but didn't want to come inside. Check Sal's Facebook page for a video.

This morning I went on a long ride. Along the way I zipped by a couple of kids and three adults on the side of the road selling lemonade, cookies and some yard sale type goods in support of flood relief. I did a slow u-turn and gave the little boy the change I had. I talked to them a bit as I enjoyed some overly sweet $6 lemonade. They had collected $800 on Saturday and had three pickup trucks with of goods donated. Wow.

Sal and I went downtown this afternoon and both found cycling shirts. I found an aero press coffee maker and we had an amazing dim sum feast. The dumplings and other goodies were easily double the size of those we see at home and the price was slightly less. Much of China town is still closed but all of the roads are now open in Calgary.

Supper tonight was some very good chicken sausage. Cullen went for another swim and then we retired to the cool basement to relax. We decided to go to Banff on Tuesday and booked a room for a night. I hope to get to ride somewhere out there. Many of the trails are closed but the road rides should be good. For June I topped 700 km and now have to face the decision whether to leave Bonnie in Calgary as planned. I have enjoyed riding her quite a bit.

posted from Bloggeroid