Monday, August 17, 2015

Finally Underway

It's 4:15am Friday, the first day of our trip to Calgary, and I'm not the first one out of bed. Sal is up and I'm guessing she's heading to the bathroom and then back to bed, but she gets dressed. Ok. Here we go. After loading the car I come in and find Brandyn sitting on the couch ready to go. These two are serious.

Temperatures in Brandon were supposed to be heading for the mid thirties and that usually means late day thunder storms. We've seen a few dark windy days there so I had hoped to get away by 7. We hit the road before 5:30.

It was a fairly uneventful day, the roads were nearly empty early in the day and only got busy around the major cities. The temperature started off at 14 and slowly rose as the day went on. We stopped for lunch at the Manitoba border and it was 28. Too hot for me in the sun already.

Once we passed Winnipeg it quickly got worse. I had the weather radar pages saved to my phone along with weather alerts and there was nothing posted worth worrying over. We pulled into a gas station in Brandon at about 5 our time as the gas light came on. We only used a tank and a half but I should have filled in Winnipeg just to be safe. As I got out of the car the temperature hit me, a sweltering 37 but breezy and dry. The lack of high humidity we normally experience made it bearable.

We checked in. Brandyn and I hit he pool which we had to ourselves. The water was cool enough to feel good. Supper at Montana's followed and then we just relaxed and enjoyed the air in the room. Sleep came quick and easy.

Saturday saw a repeat and we were up early, packed up and stopped at Tim's as the free breakfast wasn't even started. On the road by 6:15 our time.

We drove in and out of rain and sun all day. Some may find driving the prairies a bore but I find it relaxing. The mixed weather provided some great views as dark purple sky joined sunny fields on the horizon, or rays of sun streamed through the clouds. You can see so far into the distance, from a downpour and back into the sun.

The drive felt long only once, when I saw Calgary 374 in Maple Ridge. We pulled up at about 3:30 Calgary time and slowly approached the open front door. Cullen was standing in the window after opening the door. I poked my head in and around the corner and there they were. It was a strange feeling to see them in person, video chatting is a lifesaver but being here is so much better.

Monday, August 10, 2015

One Brush

He came flying off a side street in Parkdale, blowing through the stop sign after barely even glancing in the direction I was coming from. Had I been a pickup truck going the speed limit he might have been in trouble. He was mid 30's pedaling a mountain bike full gas, no helmet, no worries. He pulled way to the left before cutting back right to hit the start of the bike path without slowing. I was about 30 yards behind him as he took the blind 90 degree corner without slowing. The path is shared by any number of families with wobbly little kids on training wheels, bikes, walkers, strollers, roller blades and other odds and ends of personally powered modes of transport, he was lucky again that none of them were on the other side.

Immediately after this blind turn is the steepest downhill section of  the path, I was sure he was gone. I was about 12 km into an afternoon ride on the most neglected of  my bikes, a singlespeed road bike geared to cruise at about 25 kph but not a great bike for going uphill. Seeing no one on the lower section and knowing there is a short hill at the other end I let Molly go down the hill and gather enough speed to make getting up the other end easier. As I approached there he was, chugging up the hill like it was a mile long. I backed off and let him finish since the top has another blind corner. Away he went again zipping past people with no regard. I started raining lightly as I slowly picked my way around people wandering around looking skyward as if they were puzzled by the source of the raindrops. I caught sight of him pushing down the next hill that passes under the expressway with yet another blind bend at the bottom before a short climb. I could hear him shifting from 50 feet back and coasted up the hill to within 25 feet. Now he knew I was back there and he mashed the pedals. His wild pedaling would open up a gap since I was really not trying to chase him down.

One more little gulley before a flat stretch where just cruising along would put me right on his tail. The rain was getting a bit harder so I decided to go past, letting him know I was 'on your left' as I pushed harder to get around him and then really stepped on the gas, hopefully crushing his ego when he saw one little sprocket and no gears. I rode out of the rain and ended up riding another hour thinking about why some guys on bikes have to act like jerks. Truth is if he gets hit by a truck that's tough, but in his case most likely his doing. If he hits a little kid on a bike that's on him. But drivers and even people walking see every cyclist as unpredictable trouble. We're all painted with the same brush. In this case flying down the path is just plain dumb, I get enough glares even when being considerate of others. Yes there are lots of walkers etc. that are not considerate, don't get me started on the golfers. But that's no excuse to ride like you're in a race using kids as pylons.

I took a day off the bikes yesterday, my first since June 22, and tore Lael apart to prep for leaving Friday. Rotated the tires, pulled the crank, cleaned and lubed the chain, adjusted the brakes, trued the rear wheel and gave her a good overall cleaning. We're both ready. I made contact with my web friend in Banff this morning and if he's free he's going to join me for part of the day. I confirmed my route with him and he agrees, it's all beautiful.