Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quiet Time

Mike and Mel have gone shopping and the boys are napping. The house is quiet which is rare. It's a very active gang that lives here. Here in the basement every footstep can be heard from Mike's to Campbell's. Even after an 80km ride no alarm clock is required, no complaint here as I can't wait to get up and see the boys every morning but don't want to be the reason they wake.

I finished up the Cycling Challenge yesterday with 80km. I'm pretty sure that is my longest ride of the year. Normally I don't stop. Yesterday I rode 35km and stopped for about 20 minutes fro coffee and a brownie in the middle of Fish Creek Park. Rejuvenated I did another 25km before stopping for a banana and the last of one water bottle. I switched out my bottles and headed for home.

As I crossed the floor of the valley for the third time I suddenly felt stronger as I thought of the long ride not only this day but the whole month. 1000km may not seem like much, I've done more in a month before, but work, weather, and two days driving sucked up a lot of time. For something that started as just "well I ride anyway I might as well throw my name in the hat too" it became a focus. I'm glad to be done and can ride without having to worry about keeping up an average of 35km a day. My appreciation for better tires has never been higher. I remember back to the Conquer Cancer rides and hearing of people that flatted four times in a day over 100km so I guess 4 flats in 1000km is not all that bad and I can now say I've added changing out a flat on the side of the trail to my list of cycling resume.

After all the talk of a grizzly blocking the trail, riding the Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff and back was a highlight. I don't think I could ever get used to the closeness of the mountains in Canmore. No matter the direction you look, they are right there. My simple five minute trip to pick up pizza was amazing. I had to cross the Trans Canada to the north side of town and saw an amazing light show as the sun set between the peaks and through the clouds. I pulled up in front of the pizza place and stepped out into the street and the Three Sisters were right there just over the crest of the road.

Moraine Lake was busy as usual. The Rockpile was crowded and I've never seen more selfie sticks. Another fellow and I traded cameras and took pictures of each other but they aren't much to look at. You wait about 5 minutes for your turn and then somebody climbs into your shot from the restricted area below the rock wall. I tried to load the Nikon on my tripod but the wind was fierce and everything was shaking so my planned longer exposure shots were ditched. I always feel rushed. Next time I think the camera will stay in the car and I'll just sit there and let it all soak in.

Jess was still under the weather so we headed down the Bow Valley Parkway and managed to see a small black bear rooting around in a field just off the road. He was totally oblivious to the half dozen cars that stopped to rubber neck.

It's been a hectic ten days.
rest stop on the Legacy Trail
Lael in Canmore
Moraine Lake
Three Sisters overlooking Canmore
setting sun in Canmore, good thing I only had my phone
or there would have been some hungry folks waiting for supper

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Day Two

My second day on the road started so early I won't even share the time. I arrived at Mike's door at 12:30pm. It was a perfect day, uneventful and clear weather all the way.

I pulled up and could hear both Cullen and Campbell yelling Papa, Papa! Nothing else will erase the weariness of a long drive so quickly. The last item unloaded out of the car was the bike I had picked up for Cullen, a 12" Norco Ninja. He was very excited for his new bike. Minutes later had pedalled about 12 feet with just a push to get moving. Then a little farther and faster so we headed for the open space that a nearby park provided.

In no time he was doing laps around the entire park. You can see a short video here. After supper Uncle AJ and Aunt Jess came to the park to check it out and he proceeded to learn how to get rolling from a standing start.

This morning Mike and I took him over to Fish Creek Provincial Park about ten minutes from the front door. There are miles and miles of paved and gravel paths to ride. He managed a 5.1 km ride and then another which included stopping for a drink and a brownie. He got tired on the return and walked his bike in. But he learned how to work the coaster brake (pedalling backwards) and soon created his first skidmark. He picked up coasting downhill easily and only gets mad if he doesn't beat you to the end of the section. He loves ringing he bell when approaching anyone walking on the path. It was probably one of the slowest rides I've ever been on but one I'll never forget.

Cullen on 'Jillian', Fish Creek Provincial

Friday, June 17, 2016

Anything But

After making this drive 5? times I was expecting just another boring two days on the road. I was up at 3:15 and on the road by 4:30. Not to self: check the loading of the bikes to be transported in the light of day. First time in the dark is not all that easy.

The last forecast I checked said sun across the prairies for both Friday and Saturday. Well that was 100% correct until I got to Dryden and saw nothing but purple in the western sky. The first drops hit the windshield just outside Vermillion Bay. It continued to get more intense as I moved west. Shortly after crossing into Manitoba the clouds were literally on the road in the distance and I was alone on the highway thinking I should have checked the radio for warnings instead of toe tapping to my playlist. It poured cats, dogs and a few small ponies. Even at 70 kmph and the wipers flapping away like hummingbird wings, it was tough to see. If not on a divided highway I would have been waiting it out on the shoulder. I had passed all my normal lunch spots and finally stopped at a rest stop about 75km from Winnipeg. I checked the radar pages and saw the purple mass of clouds I had just driven through. Parts of Winnipeg saw 41mm of rain in a less than an hour.

As I moved around Winnipeg on the Perimeter highway I got in the middle of a traffic jam. 100 yards to a set of traffic lights saw three cycles pass before I even moved and then another three to get through only to find I had a few intersections to get through before I would clear the logjam. An accident involving a pickup pulling a horse trailer collided with something carrying bags of white powder. I was thinking of the poor horses when I saw the trailer and then the cab of the truck came into view. I'm not sure there were horses in the trailer but there was definitely someone in the driver's and he just has to be hurt. There were a dozen people from an environmental cleanup crew brushing up the powder but they had nothing but orange jump suits as safety gear so the powder must not have been harmful. A good kilometre of the opposing two lanes were blocked off. The entire 4 lane road had been closed earlier so I was lucky to hit the sang when I did.

The only other high/low lights were a scrawny young moose and about 75 kilometres of construction on the divided highway between Brandon and Winnipeg. Surprisingly other than the construction zones time went by very quickly and even those were mostly at 90kmph without any actual stops so not all that bad.

I'm showered and fed, all set to catch as much of the Jays game as I can before getting some sleep. Another full day on the road tomorrow, one entry in the pool in Calgary says I'll be there at noon. Not likely. I'm guessing 3pm Calgary time but we'll see what the day brings, I'm hoping for a little less excitement.

Monday, May 23, 2016

First Long Ride

Lael trailside near White Waters Golf Course 
Sunday was a perfect day for a long ride. I managed 67 km including the short offroad excursion near White Waters seen above. Lael passed all tests and though not all that fast the ride is comfortable, at least for the first couple hours. Today all my contact points plus neck and shoulders are feeling the effects. I went out for a quick ride today and 13 km felt long. Gusting wind didn't help.

Some excellent news on the computer horizon. Chromebooks will soon have access and compatibility with all Android apps. This month with that rumour floating around they outsold Mac laptops. Now that Google has made it official things should really get interesting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Back to Basics on a Chromebook

Our aging desktop pc nagged me to upgrade to Windows 10 for months. When hockey was done, at least as far as computing schedules, emails and scores go, I finally let it do it's thing. And then it failed to complete the upgrade, three times. It also failed to inform me as to why it failed.

I was already researching a another tablet or laptop. I decided on a Chromebook, basically a browser in a laptop chassis. Much cheaper, leaner, quicker and safer than a traditional windoze laptop. While tablets can do anything a Chromebook can they are a bit tougher to work with as far as keyboarding, plus nearly triple the cost of what I eventually spent on the Chromebook.

I researched and found the minimum specs I thought would work for my needs, 16 gig ssd, 4 gig ram. There are plenty of $200 versions with 2 gigs of ram but reviews pointed me at the higher memory models. I came across an 99% Ebay seller in Quebec with a returned school order of Dells matching the specs and selling for $229 Canadian, shipping free. I bookmarked the page and waited for a weekend. I was 95% through the purchase when I noticed that a) the price had dropped and b) the unit was now only 2 gig. Cancelled.

I had emailed the seller for a few pictures earlier. I sent them another saying I wasn't interested as I was looking for a 4 gig model. They replied that they had changed the auction to show the lower priced model and sent a link back to the one I wanted. A week later a rather beat up Dell box landed via Purolator. If the contents at all resembled the box it would be making a return trip.

But the unit inside was perfect, not a scratch and all the specs matched. A new unit on the Dell site currently sells for just under $350 so $229 tax in was a deal.

I started logging into my google accounts and setting things up. For some reason I touched the screen and it seemed to move. I feared the display was loose in the frame but discovered that rather than a problem I had fallen into a bonus feature. The screen is a touch screen. That model is selling at the Dell site for $550. Somebody made a booboo somewhere.

It boots in about 10 seconds. Google has a $100,000 bounty out to anyone that can crack the software so viruses and constantly updating to have a chance in the defence of viruses is not an issue. No I can't load in photoshop to edit pictures or play games. Yes the web is necessary to accomplish just about anything. But there are work arounds for many things. I can edit the basics of an image. I can work on google docs and email offline.

I use the google environment for just about everything, but with this I can do it when I need to, not when the pc is booted and (finally) ready to. So far I'm loving the simpler, mobile setup.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

This Week on My 3 Grandsons (vol.2)

Brandyn tries to leap back in time to find some spring weather. Campbell and Cullen don the shorts and chill under the sprinkler. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Real Weekend

With temperatures soaring on Saturday, Northwood games complete and even Lakehead Minor on March Break it was finally time to enjoy a full weekend.

I stripped Lael of all the parts that would be replaced and found a few things I needed. I drove Sal to work, grabbed the few items at Petries and picked up my package. I thought it would be a slow day at Petries but the skates just kept coming in for sharpening so I cut my visit short and went home to get started.

Everything went well. The mini-V brakes are simple to adjust but on this setup they require such tight tolerances between the wheel and pads that I decided to pull them and put the Avid Shorty 6s back on. Keeping the wheels 100% true is always a constant maintenance requirement and the cantilevers are much more forgiving.

Cabling the bar end shifters was a snap and shifting worked immediately for the rear derailleur. The front required some major adjustments to the position and limits screws to stop the chain from dropping from the big ring and to get any shifting to the small ring. I had to review some Youtube videos to get the various settings straight in my head. Once I put all the knowledge to work she shifted on the stand but will probably need some more fine tuning after more test rides. Only job left is taping the bars.

We (along with a long line of others with  the same idea) picked up some steaks to barbeque for Saturday's supper. While I worked the grill Sal prepared asparagus, mushrooms and perogies. She even had a drink with supper, a rare occurrence. Sunday we took Brandyn for breakfast and heard all about his adventures in Mexico and then had a video visit with Cullen and Campbell. It was a full couple of days and I didn't want to ask "where id the weekend go?"

frame stripped and cleaned
Ultegra bar end shifter installed
crank installed
mini-V brakes installed but later removed
Saint pedals installed
Lael ready for a test ride

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This Week on My 3 Grandsons

Brandyn visits some friends in Mexico...

Cullen learns to print his name and lots of others

and Campbell learns to eat with his toes, just kidding


About this time every year the North American Handmade Bicycle Show is held in various locations across the U.S.. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that some time in the next few years Minneapolis, ranked as one of the best cities for cycling, gets a shot at hosting. If they do I'll be there.

NAHBS Gallery

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Plans for Lael

With some timekeeping cash firmly in hand I placed an order for some parts to upgrade the bike I ride most often, Lael. I've broken several spokes on the rear wheel so first off I went back to the wheel that came on the bike when it was given to me. It still has 7 speeds but the range is wider, she's always felt a bit slow in the smaller gears and the original wheel will address both problems. Not a match to the front but hopefully the benefits will make up for any cosmetic loss.

Shifting will move from the downtube where I had McGyvered a $15 set of shifters to the frame. The new ones will go in the end of the handle bars and be a higher quality Shimano set. A new crankset and pedals will also be mounted.

Lastly the ever so noisy and b***h to adjust cantilever brakes will be removed in favour of Tektro mini-v brakes. I prefer the looks of the cantis but they are just too much trouble to keep quiet and really only go to the head of the class when mud is an issue. Since I'm not racing offroad (or anywhere else) my preference will be the simpler setup.

The other half of the plan is to get her back to Calgary and actually ride in Banff this summer. I'm trying to focus on getting her ready and not previewing all the trails and measuring distances. Lots of time for that later.

I got out for two decent rides on the weekend and even though my arm was uncomfortable on the bikes it felt much better after both rides. I have no idea why but I'm not complaining. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's That Time of Year

The scheduling gig over at Lakehead Minor has me in end of the season hockey mood a month early. It is very frustrating dealing with 6 leagues and 65 teams. Nobody wants to play when they are scheduled. Nobody wants to do 5 minutes work to save me an hour. My arm hurts all the way from my shoulder blade to my finger tips from too much keyboard time and my chiropractor loves it, actually he loves the part where he gets to torture me.

Sal is booked for a flight to Calgary in late May and I'm getting the bug to make plans. I haven't been on a bike since the arm started and that bug is like a mosquito in the night, just keeps buzzing around my head.

I'm aching for Banff, the long peaceful drive across the prairies, a bike ride in the Rockies and of course time with Cullen and Campbell.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Now I've Gone and Done It

When I accepted the president's position at Northwood hockey in 1996 I had no idea. No idea what I had gotten myself into, no idea I'd be doing it 20 years later. After expanding from six to eight teams in the last two seasons I've put my foot in it again.

At a meeting this week the main topic of discussion was another expansion, to an older division. For much of the 20 years I was running things on my own for the most part. Putting my foot down two seasons ago gained the league an executive but the majority of that group is in the twilight of their kids time in the league. Not only that group but HNO and Thunder Bay Minor are pushing for someone to offer an alternative program for the next age group. Tuesday night we decided to pick up that ball and run with it.

As much as I tried to remind folks that I'm not intending to spend more time at a rink every weekend I'm not sure they got it. It's not that I have to police parents or coaches very much or very often. Just being there seems to do the trick. But if there's no one keeping an eye on things especially with older kids, things are bound to happen that don't keep with the league's philosophy. It doesn't have to be me but there has to be a league presence at games.

My first major undertaking in 1996 was to end the 'senior' program we had running and get Mike's age group into pee wee with the Elks, Neebing KC and the rest of the Lakehead South teams. It worked very well and Northwood teams always held their own until politics got in the way.

With enough planning and preparation, which is already underway, it should work well. Getting players won't be a problem, there's enough disgust with the current programs out there in both both and girls leagues. We have the funds to spare, ice has been promised and several coaches are ready to graduate with older players. If we do it, it will be with a buzzer for line changes exactly as we do for the younger group. It may turn some away but it solves the biggest complaint, unfair ice time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

How Smokey Was It?

Castle Mountain July 2010/August 2015
Bow Valley Parkway July 2010/August 2015
I was flipping through some old pictures and came across a few from our recent visits to Banff. These two were taken at virtually the same spot on the side of the Bow Valley Parkway looking back towards Lake Louise over the Bow River, and over to Castle Mountain.
I did some quick cutting and here's the result. Cough cough. Hard to believe the actual fires were hundreds of miles away. No wonder Brandyn is wearing that face, I'm sure I'm making the same one right now.

Early 2016

Northwood hockey playoffs kicked off last Sunday with a pair of games after Saturday's four game wrap of the regular season that saw all eight teams hit the Gardens ice. A scheduling miracle pitted the teams in first and second place in a head to head game for the regular season title. In a tight 2-1 contest the second place Kings jumped into first.

We have a new format for playoffs this season with the eight teams being split into odds and evens. The standings were close enough that all teams wanted a shot at the big prize. They'll play 6 games in a double round robin and then the top team in each division will face off for the championship. Even the fourth place odds will play the fourth place evens in a trophy game at the end.

On other hockey fronts my quickly cobbled together schedule for Lakehead Minor is up and running. There have been lots of changes as teams work their way around travel that I wasn't aware of. So far everything seems to be working. On to the least I won't be stepping into the middle of a 600 game schedule with nothing more than a single spreadsheet and good intentions.

The music streaming service and app Rdio that I had been using for music shut down after being bought out by Pandora in December, leaving me looking for an alternative. Paying $10 a month for access to just about any music has allowed lots of exploring so I wanted to find another similar service. I decided on Google Music since the app was on my phone and it offered just about everything I was looking for. It connects to Chromecast much better and the app runs far faster. Other than the pain of having to reestablish my huge library, the transition has been positive.

I have to say I'm liking this cold turn in the weather. Rain in January is not normal and makes walking treacherous. With cold mornings I just add a few items of clothing and head out. The frozen slush was tough to walk on without slipping and even when I catch myself from falling my back takes the brunt.

I've missed riding outside, in fact I haven't been out on a bike yet this year. I have some 70 km on the trainer but it's a chore. The hour grinds by even with a movie playing.

I've opened a new site for writing and pictures. Not much to see or read yet but I'm trying over here.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Hundred Lessons, One Learned

My first foray with a camera was less than stellar. The day turned overcast as my time window opened. I headed to Mission Marsh hoping the sun might reappear.

I quickly learned that my knowledge of the Nikon's endless settings are lacking. Once I turned the dial from automatic I was lost. My reading from the week prior reminded me of studying the golf swing. There are so many hints, tips and top ten lists of things to remember that my head was flooded. Just as I could never hit a golf ball with a multitude of tips swirling around in my head, I couldn't take a decent picture. I missed my simple old Pentax, and the sun.

Just less than a month ago the new scheduler for Lakehead Minor resigned with the schedule in limbo and only complete to January 5th. With limited information to work with and for reasons I can't begin to recall or understand I jumped in to help with both feet. It's been a learning experience. I've picked up a lot of spreadsheet knowledge. I know that the woman volunteer who managed the schedule for 15? years and was voted out last year, did an incredible job. The league should crawl on its collective knees back to her asking that she return next season. I've learned that tournaments are the evil behind many of the issues in hockey.

I can't seem to sleep any longer than 5 or 6 hours. This pattern has been with me for at least a month. It's 8 am as I write this and I've done 3 hours work at the computer already. Maybe that's why I took on the schedule, too tired to think straight?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

On To the New Year

Another year come and gone. It's cliche to say that they fly by, but they do. Some days seem to last forever and then it's Christmas.

The holiday season was mostly quiet for us, a few meals with the kids and lots of quiet evenings. It's never the same when the little ones aren't around. Hopefully we can get to Calgary for Christmas before the magic is gone for Cullen and Campbell.

I've decided to try and throw some effort into writing and photography in the coming year. I haven't given up riding my bikes, they will take me to places where I can explore the other hobbies. For 2015 I finished with a lazy December and came up short of my 6000 km goal at 5931. Not bad but I just didn't find the energy to ride the trainer late in the month. I started the new year with 11 km yesterday. I added a chromecast to the mix so I can watch Netflix on a full sized tv while I pedal. Nothing replaces riding outside, but it's much safer.

My desk is a cluttered mess of 50-50 tickets, receipts, game sheets and other odds and ends. Time to clean up a bit.