Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The End

As I rode by Charry Park on Sunday, a wave of emotions came rushing in. Earlier in the day I had penned a letter that will go to the 50 kids that played in the league last season informing them that they will have to register with a long time rival league if they wish to continue playing Little League baseball. The long time volunteer that has run things almost single handed has had enough and I will end my involvement as well.

It was a tough letter to write. Our family has been involved with the league since 1993. Both boys played under the Americans banner, as All Stars, in numerous provincial playdowns and a couple of Canadian championships.  It was hard to see the field, still covered in snow, and realize that there may never be another game played on the most intimate diamond in Thunder Bay. It made me want to rush home and give it one more try, one more push to get kids to try a great game.

Memories of the good old days flooded back. Days when we had ten teams in the younger divisions alone, when the kids in red were feared all over town as a powerhouse. When Saturday meant a day at the tree lined park, watching, umping or coaching, having a burger or flipping them. It was tough to get a seat on the bleachers as people came out in droves, many just walking or biking to the games from the surrounding neighbourhood. Honestly I would rather watch a couple teams of 12 year olds battle it out at Charry Park than any hockey game.

But the game changed and so has the world. Rules that tried to attract players pushed the more skilled kids away to summer hockey and other sports where they were allowed to be better than the other kids. Take out the skilled pitchers and the game falls apart. No one wants to watch kids walk on 4 pitches all afternoon. Throw in some parent-friendly sports like soccer and the writing was on the wall for a slow paced sport like kids baseball. Not to mention x-box, play station and other digital distractions.

I was proud to be the president and we did some great things in those years. We went from a league that struggled with decisions over which bills could be paid, to one rich with bingo money. We ran baseball all summer and into September instead of stopping just as the weather got warm enough to enjoy. We even commandeered a set of lights from an abandoned diamond and had them put up in the hopes of playing longer into the cool summer nights. We joined with another league to form a competitive all star team that traveled south to the provincials, a first in Thunder Bay. I took a lot of heat over that decision but the kids proved us right by finishing as runners up in Windsor.

I loved watching both of our boys pitch, hit home runs and win championships at Charry Park and I hope that somewhere down the road kids will find the love for the game that our family had.

All Star brothers, 1994

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Hate Cars

No, not for the reasons that probably came quickly to mind, that would be a hate of drivers. Just as guns don't kill anyone without being aimed by the human eye, cars don't knock cyclists into the weeds without the distracted texting while steering with his knees idiot behind the wheel.

 I hate the physical four wheeled money sucking beasts that we are all so dependent upon. We just spent a little over $2000 for a head job on the Subaru, a car that in the 6 years we have had it has been super reliable. the dealer gave us a good deal on the repairs but still...

If it was just me, I would probably go without a car altogether and just rent one when I had to. Save all that insurance and maintenance cost towards the rentals and come out way ahead. But the reality is that we still need it.

Work on the head is well above my mechanical skills, tools and knowledge. Plus I have no garage to work from.  $2000 would have gone a long way towards so many things. A new fence, new countertops, new furniture and the list goes on without even conferring with the main driver of our abode.

And even more depressing, it could have been...
the Van Dessell 'Whisky Tango Foxtrot'
The Surly 'Moonlander'

or most depressing, this with lots of change
the Marinoni 'Retro SL' 4oth anniversary frame

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sneak Peek

posted from Bloggeroid

Life's Little Moments

Pascal Campion's Bright, Sharp Cold
I initially found Pascal Campion's drawings on a cycling website. He releases a daily on Facebook or you can check out his blog. As I went through his work I found that although it has some cycling related subjects, it is most often centered on family and the little moments that may seem insignificant when they happen but form deep memories. Many of my own memories are brought back through his work.

Pascal Campion's King of the Hill

Monday, March 16, 2015

Time for Skinny Tires

Poking around on a singlespeed setup for winter's snow and ice is better than walking, barely. I started riding to work and back last week and doing laps at the golf course at lunch, but with a maximum speed of about 15kmph the singlespeed can be...yawn...a bit on the boring side.

All week long I was thinking of getting out on something a little more fun. Saturday the forecast called for a high of 6 but the rain/hail/snow squall that hit briefly Friday evening took nearly half a day to melt. I decided to try going for a ride with some skinny tires and gears at about 2:30. That felt very strange for the first 15 minutes. I went out again Sunday for a break from working on Sophia, but the sun never appeared and it was cool and windy. It's early in the year but the laps and kms are slowly accumulating.

I  made my first attempt at gumbo for Saturday's supper. I stopped in the parking lot of the Super Store, read a recipe that I never ended up following, and headed in for ingredients. I took everything home to cut up and then started assembling it all in the slow cooker. As I poured in the litre of chicken stock it appeared that I would need another, but I improvised and used some Clamato which may have been the secret. That and 6 hours in the cooker. I laid off the heavy heat so that Sal would try it, but I have to say it was really tasty and we both enjoyed it. Topped off with a salad and quick bruschetta appetizer, it was one of  my better efforts in the kitchen.

Marinoni Monday for this week is a shot of Giuesspe training for the Hour Record attempt. I'd love to find one of those jerseys.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sophia e Finito

This morning it was time to put the final pieces together. Farzam guided me through assembling the front wheel and then I came home to install the tire, finish cabling the brakes and wrapping the bar tape. She looks pretty sweet. Sorry. No pictures until I can take her somewhere nice when the weather dries.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bike Drool

I've been surfing various sites to check out the bikes of the recent National Handmade Bike Show. While many have been commenting how they would love to be able to afford to have a custom frame made for them, I find myself wishing for the opposite. I wish I could learn to create a bike from raw steel tubes by measuring, cutting, welding and filing steel. There are schools, even one at Fraser Valley BC, run by Paul Brodie who won an award for best city bike. The picture below is from Mark DiNucci's frame that won best lugged frame . They are required to be unpainted for judging. Below that is Brodie's winner. Follow the link from his name to see some of the process I wish I had $2800 for tuition and time to take in.

5 pieces beautifully shaped and welded together

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Has Sprung?

Let's hope so. With the sidewalks under water I decided to bike to work. I took the studded tires off last night, most of the paths and roads are clear of ice and pavement is tough on the studs. Just have to go easy. I took a quick ride around the golf course at lunch and have never seen such a dirty bike. It started to rain as I left but it held off for the most part, might as well have poured.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, March 9, 2015

Quick and Green

A quick post for Marinoni Monday. A lovely green 2011 Marinoni Pista (Italian for 'track') from the philg flickr page. I'm not crazy about the new style decals but love that colour.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Most Important Bike Ever

Scrolling through my dropbox this morning I came across the bike that was probably the most important one I have purchased. Yes it was a piece of crap, yes it weighed more than 3 of my current rides. But it was also the bike that I took the plunge with, finding the one thing that would help me change.

From my first 'long' ride of a whopping 12km to the marina to my test run of 20km to see if I could make the ride all the way to camp. I managed that ride totally unaware of how bad that bike was. A few weeks later I was in the Conquer the Dog and it's true colours came shining through when parts literally started falling off. But I had dropped more than 50 lbs.

Later that same day old crappy was back at Canadian Tire, I had a real bike and a new friend in Farzam. Had I never taken the plunge and bought that tank, I'd probably still be 330lbs. plus, or worse.

ol' crappy...decorated for my birthday
don't try that with any of the current fleet please

Friday, March 6, 2015

Last Game

My last game behind the bench for the IG Leafs was a 4-0 win for the trophy with my name on it. The Flyers were down 4 players and we were missing 2 (little guy without a helmet was too tired to play but not to eat a cupcake or get in the picture).  I'm glad it's over, it was a strange group of kids, they just never seemed to gel. One game they would dominate and the next they would look totally lost. Practices were never very well attended so it was tough to work on any structure. 

I made three trips around the rink during the game, one for a forgotten neck guard and two potty runs. Guess the kids were nervous.

It was tough to go behind the bench and be president. At one point I had to correct a ref, taking one of the first place team's players out of the penalty box and putting ours in. We would play 5-3 when we were short and people wondered what the heck we were doing. Just playing fair. If we are missing our youngest and weakest is it fair to replace him with a kid 4 years older even if the rules allow? Playing it straight never cost us. I'll stick to the other side of the rink from now on.

February saw me get to 10 lbs. lost, 130 km on the trainer and 73 walking. Hopefully the weather will allow some riding off the trainer, and soon.

I'm wishing I was in Louisville Kentucky this weekend for the North American Handmade Bike Show. The bike websites will be full of galleries of all the custom built beauties but one of these years I'd love to see them in person.

On Your Left...

note: for the non-cyclists out there, 'on your left' is what you are supposed to yell as you pass someone, as in I'm passing on your left.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Another One in the Books

Sunday saw another Northwood season come to an end, save one consolation game Thursday that Brandyn will play in unfortunately. We had hopes of making one of the trophy games but our last round robin game saw us struggle and the puck just didn't bounce our way. He has really stepped up his game of late, skating harder to back check and taking the puck to the net when he gets a chance.

Sunday's games were surprising as two team that played close games all season resulted in a 5-1 blowout where I expected overtime. In the Championship a team that finished 6th in the regular season took down a team that had not lost in the playoffs and was 2nd overall in the season. The Gardens was electrified and loud as the game went on. Many of the parents and players from the first game along with a bigger than normal contingent of family and friends watched and cheered on the underdogs. A 2-1 game is always exciting but this one was a real nailbiter for the fans of the team that no one picked to take the title.

A just when I think I can relax I get email from a parent whose child was punched during the handshake after a Saturday game. No penalty called of course and now it ends up a major incident and the team I helped coach was on the delivery end of the alleged punches.

This week's Marinoni Monday features Richard Lee's repainted 1987 beauty. He sent his frame back to the factory for a fresh coat of paint and updated many of the components. Sound familiar? I'm still mulling it over.