Sunday, August 29, 2010

Everything after Kleefeld was a Bonus

The thing about being separated with kids under the age of 12 and being a fitness endurance obsessive is that on the weekends you don't have the kids you tend to cram it all in. About the only thing I can do that resembles training with my kids around is run on the treadmill or run around the park outside the front of my house.  Usually I allow myself to just veg.

So this weekend I had three rides planned. The Randonneur 200 was on the agenda for a few months. But not having the kids this weekend I ended up also planning to meet my old friend Dean in Kenora while he was home visiting his parents and fishing and we decided to go for an easy ride on Friday morning. I've also been planning on joining my favorite local bike shop, Alter Ego Sports for one of their group rides all spring and summer and this weekend looked like it was going to be it.

Here's how they all panned out:

A Cat 1 Racer 20 years later on the Road Again

It doesn't take long for former provincial cyclists to get their cycling legs back even if it has been over 8 years since they did any real riding. It may be even longer. Dean lives in Dundas Ontario with his wife and two kids. He works in IT and is the middle of renovating his house. He worked as a bike messenger for quite a few years in Toronto but cycling went by the wayside not long after that.

I knew Dean could only rent a mountain bike when he arrived in Kenora but I brought my road bike anyway because I figured he could be "sharking" me about his ride strengh. I also figured that I would rather ride easy on my road bike than ride hard on a mountain bike with the 200km being the very next day. I also thought we'd end up doing about 50km. Well we did do about 50km. I just didn't take into consideration the distance from the cottage to Rabbit Lake, so my total distance was closer to 70km.

Here's the story of Dean. It is a cute little teen romance, sad at moments because it was destined to never be. He lived in Kenora and I lived in Winnipeg and the summer we worked together at the Huskey station on Highway 17 East, I wasn't even old enough to drive a car. We didn't even have a phone at the cabin back then. This was 1986.  He teased me mercilessly. And everyone knew I had a crush on him. Fortunately he had a crush on me too..... except well..... teenage boy issues. That's all I'll say.

But regardless we kept in touch for about 3 years after that summer. I saw him periodically even though I never worked in Kenora again. We even saw each other in Winnipeg once, as I recall. Then he moved to St. Catherine's, Ontario to train. Dean tells me he was a Cat 1 and 2 racer (as a junior).

The last time I saw Dean, I was 18 years old and I came to Kenora for a weekend and he took me to a party out on Airport Rd. He had long curly hair past his shoulders (which I never liked) and he'd just broke up with his girlfriend and was not having a good time of it. He tells me he was moody and miserable that night (but I don't remember). I had a boyfriend at the time and I was miserable too, no doubt. But that's another story.

Then Facebook happened and Dean and I saw each other for the first time in 21 years and went for this ride. We did 70km and he was on a beautiful dual suspension Norco Mountain bike and we still, somehow managed to average 24 km per hour. We did most of the Redditt Route which I've written about before and as seems to be the trend, the wind was killer on the return trip.

And next year, if we get the chance to do this again when Dean is fit. He's gonna smoke my ass.

Hangin' on for Dear Life: Or how to Pull off 203 km with Under 6 Hours of Ride Time

Following Chris and Ben. It appears Michael and Brian are pulling and the two of them together at the front was always a moment of fear for me...

And the sad thing is, it took me less time to do this ride than I spent waiting for a stupid cell phone in the mall. Here's the dirty Garmin details.

After being in the Mountains for 2 weeks, I now have BIG lungs. The Randonneur 200 worried me a lot in the last week. Last year I thought we did this fast but last year a lot of us were doing our first 200 ever or were doing our first 200 of the year. Of the people I typically group ride with, everyone has been riding a lot and everyone's fitness levels are outstanding this year. I've been training primarily endurance so I know I can hold a fairly high pace for a long time. I'm so endurance paced that in my races, my 40km pace was the same as my 94km pace in Calgary.  My riding is stronger this year but so is everyone else's. And who was showing up on this ride?  Michael, Ben, Brian, Chris (and then the Randonneur regulars). A bunch of hammerheads and me, the lone chick. In fact I really was the lone chick. There were no other women on this ride, Randonneur regulars included.

It is a frustrating thing to have moved ahead a couple of steps in your fitness and hit the road and find out everyone else has moved ahead 3 steps. Ben and I talked about this on the ride. These folks (and occasionally myself) ride every Tuesday Morning at a Red-Eye hour and at the end of each ride they sprint for the bridge back into the city. Last year I could stay on someone's wheel for a short time and then be a reasonable and expected distance behind them once we hit the bridge. This year, I get dropped flat and they are easily 400m ahead of me when they get to the bridge. It is a humbling experience to say the least.

So I had conservative goals. I had done 70km the day before. I didn't want to TELL anyone that I did 70km the day before lest it encouraged them to find a way to take advantage of me in my weakness. I figured if I could hang on till half way in the draft, this would be a good thing. Half way is in Richer where we usually have breakfast at a Restaurant on Highway #1. This year, the restaurant was closed. This meant, No Egg sandwiches, something I had been dreaming about for 95 km. We were going to eat at the restaurant across the street but the truth of the matter is that I really think the guys saw some promise in the day. It wasn't too hot; there was very little wind; and it was overcast. Near perfect conditions to have a fast ride. Let's get going and see how fast we can really go.

Chris, Michael and Brian at the end of the ride

There were mumblings about hammering even before the rest stop. Someone (I won't point fingers) suggested that Michael the tank (they blamed him entirely, it was all his fault) was just waiting for the opportunity to go and see who could hang on. After all, he did just freshly shave his legs. And I figured it wouldn't be me hanging-on. My thought at this point was that if I could make it to Kleefeld in draft that would be good. Anything after that would be bonus. But I was still doing OK after Kleefeld other than some minor gas pain. I was hanging in their draft. I hadn't done a pull in about 30km at that point, partially because Michael and Ben and Brian and Chris too still at this point, were taking huge ones so some of my lack of pulling was purely luck. And I didn't pull for more than 30 seconds maybe for the rest of the ride (maybe a whole minute, I didn't time it and the speed dropped dramatically with me in the front). It seemed that every time I landed in that second position we ended up at a stop sign or a turn and some more eager beaver (ahem...Michael or Brian) inevitably passed me and I wound up further back in the line. One other time I was behind Ben for one of his massive pulls and he was redlining me (and by redlining, I mean my heart rate is sitting around 170 or higher). Ben is about my height and he was down on his aerobars so the draft was poor even when I was in my drops. I learnt after that to make sure I stayed behind Brian or Michael because they are both over 6 feet tall.

But I wasn't the only one fatiguing. Everyone was fading in equal measure. And the gazillion pee breaks saved me at moments.

We realized somewhere on the highway from St. Adolfe that we had pulled off 200km in under 6 hours (202.6 in 5:57:30 -- 34 km/hr average). It was a pretty exciting moment. Our total time on the road was about 6:37 -- were were back in the city by 1:37 p.m after leaving at 7:00. And here are the 5 survivors of the sub 6:00 200... we look like crap but we are happy.

I don't think we were quite ready for this picture: Brian, Michael, moi, Chris, Ben

Alter Boys Rule

Blake front and centre. Dan's at the front on the right. And a sliver of Phil's right arm with the "Olympia" jersey. They should have given him a hard time about that jersey.

I'm officially certifiably crazy. It was bad enough that I did 200km yesterday after doing a gentle 70k (in hills) the day before, but to go out with a group I have never ridden with before the day after all that and, at the split off point, decide to join the fast group instead of the social group..... it is fair to say I've lost it. And as I stood there in the store before the ride watching people show up (I only knew a couple of them and basically from watching Andrea do crits) it was guy after guy after guy..... for the longest time I was the only woman. I suppose I'm getting used to that though. And I was the only woman in the fast group.

And my favorite Alter Boy, Dave wasn't there to see any of it. Shame on him. He had to go to the Mountain bike Provincials instead.

Dan, the staff leader, did say they were going to do 35 km/hr which immediately turned into 39. I would say we hovered at a pull pace of about 38 more than anything. And I was very conservative with the length of my pulls and thankfully, I was able to recover at the back of the group even at that pace.

The ride went South, through St. Norbert, up River Road and then back onto Highway 75. The turn around was at some research station......??? ......

Like all groups they have their little nuances. The only instructions I got was, "the only thing you need to know is that we always put a foot down at every stop sign." Alrighty, after that I'll just wing it.

A rider caught up to me as I rode to the store and said, I bet we are going to the same place, and it turned out to be Phil who I only was able to do a name and face match via a picture from Andrea's blog. The only other rider in the fast group that I knew was Blake, who's claim to fame is he was the other rider involved in Andrea's most recent crash. Super nice guy. He's getting married  next weekend AND -- he told me today that this is his first year riding........UNBELIEVABLE. He's awesome. But he's a young fit guy.

Organizing for the rotating eschelon

So they do a sprint at the turn around point but I didn't know this so they were long gone by the time I got across the highway. Thankfully I wasn't alone. I caught the guy next closest to me and hung in his draft until I recovered and then I took over leading and he hung in my draft and in my aerobars I was able to pull us both back up to Phil who was the next guy up. Then the three of us worked to catch Dan who, I thought, had dropped back to help us catch the group but I discovered later via a conversation with Phil that Dan is a workhorse kind of rider. He can hold a strong pace for a long time but he has absolutely no sprint.  Hmmmm... kinda like me.

Dan is my other favorite Alter bike mechanic, by the way, but he's been gone most of the summer.

We did a rotating eschelon formation all the way down River Road and then they did another sprint to the hill by the Courchain Bridge and then it was leisure pace back into the city. But  not before yet another sprint through Crescent Park. I survived the latter two sprints with my Ego intact (haha get it?). Not bad for a chick with over 300 ride km under my belt for the weekend by this point.

So after all that I've been watching ironman results as Ironman Canada and Ironman Louisville are updating results live on the net and I've got tabs on 11 people's bib numbers. I've basically being eating myself out of house and home at the same time. I deserve it. The only thing that worries me after the adventures of the weekend is that the bar has now been raised. Tell me folks. What next?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures on the BIG Wait: Or How to Turn 6.5 Hours into an iPhone 4

Easily recognizable by its logo. Even the STORE has no name on it.

OK. My last couple of posts have been kinda heavy. Sorry. Just to show you that I don't always wallow in my own self pity and because I am avoiding reading (or rather, re-reading) three chapters of a Research Methods text that I have been asked to review. (Yes, I do have a real job). They are paying me $150 to do this. I need this money. Especially after today.

As you may or may not recall, I drown my barely year-old iPhone 3GS in a flash hail storm somewhere past Field, BC on my way to Golden on Day 1 of the Golden Triangle. This is how I think it happened. I had been listening to the iPod from about Lake Louise on and I was enjoying the tunes even though the battery was nearly dead on my phone. (This is an important detail, not to go unnoticed).
And then it started to rain, so I decided to stop and put on my rain jacket. I madly stuffed my phone and my camera into the (theoretically) water proof side pocket of my panniers because they were both in my little top tube box for easy access while riding. Ultimately, I now believe they would suffered less damage to stay where they were. And then we ran for cover of the bushes as the hail pinged off our helmets and stung at any exposed bare skin like wasp bites. And then I thought it might be a good idea to take a picture because "the blog" needed a picture of the hail. So I took the picture quickly and as I slipped the camera back into the pocket I saw water run off the top of the pannier into the pocket and I betcha anything that water poured directly into the charger hole on the phone. I thought nothing of the phone not turning on when I got to Golden. I figured the battery was dead. So I plugged it in, and tried to turn it on and......... probably in that nano-second fried the electrical.

So, indirectly, I have this blog to blame for the death of my phone. Maybe it is time to sign up for ads to be placed on my blog so I can make some extra cash. Every penny counts, you know.

I'm addicted to my phone. I have several friends who make fun of me for this. I don't care. Gimme my phone. Dammit. It's been a couple of weeks of jitters and withdrawal symptoms. Ask my buddy George. I've been crying on his shoulder since I arrived back in town because I KNOW he understands my pain. He's even been the perfect co-dependent enabler (is that redundant?) calling the Apple store for me every day checking for shipments of iPhone 4s.... nothing. The damn things have been sold out everywhere since they first went on the market over a month ago. Last week, a guy at a store actually LAUGHED at me when I asked if they had any.

Till yesterday that is. My piece of crap loaner flip phone rings and there is George telling me that they got a shipment that they are going to start selling as of 0900 on Wednesday morning and I need to get down there early and expect a line-up.

But... I had the kids. This could be nasty. And I hate being one of those keeners that stand in line for things. It has been the rare in-demand object in my life that I've chased after. The Cabbage Patch Doll when I was 12 being the one exception. (And never being a doll kind of girl, this is a bizarre kind of exception, indeed). I don't think I even ever camped out for concert tickets which is like the right of passage of all coming-of-age-in-the-80s children.

The cutest ugliest things you've ever seen.

My daughter cut all the hair off that Cabbage Patch Doll when she was about 4. I was mad. I'm still mad.

And they were telling everyone who phoned, in advance, to come down for store opening. I figured this could be really really nasty (George was prepping me for a 3 hour wait). Or, on the contrary, over hyped and not too bad at all.

Given I had the kids I planned to get there just before 9. I figured, six of one half dozen of the other, if I'm gonna wait three hours anyway, I could get there at 7 and wait two hours with the store closed and an unmoving line and one hour with it open (there were bound to be nerds who got there at 6 or earlier). Or I could get there at 9 and wait the full 3 hours with the mall open and a moving line.

So I got there at about 8:45, went in the mall entrance closest to the Apple store (the one directly off Ness Ave.). I could see there was a line up that went straight out from the Apple doors itself and security guards were present. (Riot potential not withstanding). Not so bad.

Then I turned the corner.......... And walked... and walked and walked. Yeah it was nearly down to the centre court elevator. So I got at the back of the line and thought what the hell am I doing here. I haven't even had my coffee yet. There was a more "mature" gentleman who got there just before me and he immediately got on his cell and said to whoever he was talking to, "Yeah, there's like 300 people in line here. I'm not staying." (SMART alert.)

It would be one thing if you could just buy the phone and walk out of the store but, you have to activate it and connect it to your cell plan and..... that is a minimum 10 minute process per person. But I NEED my phone (the need and the want line has been significantly blurred here... I do know that). I immediately start chatting with the guy behind me. He and I are an oddity among the crowd in this line in that we are over 30. I tell him the story of my phone drowning. He says that I at least have a legitimate reason for being here for an upgrade. His reasons are purely selfish. 

Soon my line-up friend (his name, I find out, is Lee) has another friend show up. This friend turns out to be "the boss" and he has to be there as he has the signing authority over the phone contracts for the company he and Lee work for. And then a 3rd guy shows up who works for the company who is younger. Body builder type.

And this was my posse for the next 6 hours. The "boss" and the bodybuilder, Brian, came and went but Lee and I were in it for the long haul. (Plus the two munchkins... you know which ones. The ones that kinda look like me. Well one looks a lot like me, the other looks much like his father -- except for the eyes.).

It is amazing how you bond with people standing in line. Within about 10 minutes the "boss" announces he's going for coffee. Can you get me one too??? I pull out my wallet to dig for change.

Ah, it's just coffee. I'll get it. Lee says he takes lots of cream and lots of sugar. What do you take? asks the "boss."

Uh, lots of cream and lots of sugar.

The "boss" shakes his head. What are you, his mother?

Hey, I don't look that old. Geeze.... I must look like crap this morning. No shower. No coffee. Sunglasses on my bed-head hair. Two kids in tow (who are presently on a mall bench playing Nintendo DS may I add. Oh the WONDERS of the Nintendo DS). I look at Lee..... (I didn't know his name yet at this point). No, he is DEFINITELY, very close to the same age as me. The "boss" however, I would gauge to be a few years younger. But then again. I'm only 22 so, what would I know. But, on the bright side, within about 10 minutes I did get some guy to buy me coffee.

Security crunches the line into an accordion and it actually moves pretty quickly. Within about an hour we have moved forward three rows. This is not so bad. This could go good. I doubt that I was taking into consideration all the people who figured they got there and would be in and out by 9:30 and went, OH F$%^k... I gotta get to WORK.  Yeah, suckers! Get out of this line-up!

It doesn't take long for the competitive mob mentality to take over.

The line pretty much grinds to a slow halt after that opening quickness. George and I are texting back and forth and I'm updating him. My 3 line-up boys are laughing at my texting skills on the loaner archaic flip phone. Are you STILL writing that message? Hahahaha. Yeah, lemme guess, you guys work in IT, don't you? (Yeah). Damn, I picked up on that quick.

There were many other clues to their job status other than the texting comment. Half the people in the line here probably work in IT though. The "boss" points out that guessing that someone works in IT these days is like the equivalent of 100 years ago guessing that someone was a farmer.

True. True.

By the way, where is the beer cart during these events? I'm just saying, someone could be making a killing. Just what they need, a drunk bunch of iPhone, geeks on a rampage.

Global TV shows up. The reporter hones in on me and my kids. Of course. Notice I am not saying much about my kids. They are being complete Angels. Angels.  It is unbelievable. I am meant to be here today. I've had a bazillion compliments on how well behaved they are. For that, I thank, Nintendo DS, and my willingness to let go of the overprotectiveness. I did let them run the mall a bit. Go to a store and come back. Ride the escalator but only once each please. Don't get me in trouble, I don't want to get kicked out. Yes you can go to the bathroom. And then I stood there and fretted with Lee the whole time they were gone (he has twin 12 year old boys and a 6 year old daughter) as I was obviously subjecting my children to the risks of the mall bathroom molester. Parent of the year award, HERE I COME.

Anyways, back to Global TV. They were doing a segment on technology in the classrooms as part of their back to school season. Could they shoot some video of the kids playing their games? (Sure why not). The reporter comments on our family and the expense of technology, gesturing at me and the kids and Lee. Oh no, they are just mine. 

She says, Oh, I though you were all together. She's obviously been eyeing up her reporter prey for a while.

No, after 3 hours in line together you tend to bond a little.

The camera guy films the kids and she chats with me. She's asking questions like it is an interview. I talk. She's casually holding her microphone in her hand in my general direction. It is horizontal and she holds it like she's gathered up a bunch of her stuff and is just carrying it around waiting to put it to use. It isn't anywhere near my mouth but I can see she has a finger on a button on the device attached to the microphone by a cord. She is recording what I am saying and she hasn't even asked. My words immediately turn to idiotic blabber. She eventually does ask if she can put me on camera. I am not going on camera with my bed head and my unshowered self. I don't say this. I just say I don't want to be on camera. She asks if she can use my words; she's liked what I said... fine. I know they will pull some fragment of a sentence I've said and use it completely out of context. Whatever.

As an aside, and only because to tell the rest of this story fits here. There was a segment on Global news. Nolan was soooooooo excited about seeing himself on TV. Emma was indifferent. I probably wouldn't even have gone looking for the segment but he couldn't stop talking about it and every 5 minutes he was asking if it was 6:00 yet. Sigh. And he watched the entire news and probably some inappropriate death and dismemberment to boot and he finally calls to me: "They said something about the school division." So I stop what I am doing (which was probably writing some email) and I go out and look and the segment is about a minute and a half long and the first 5 seconds of it is a close up of Emma's face playing her DS and she is full of concentration. But NO Nolan. Nothing of him at all. He was crushed. He cried for an hour. I wanna cry just thinking about his poor little heart broken face. What is gonna happen the first time that boy gets rejected by some girl he likes? It is going to be hell in this house.

It took an hour to get through the first 3 rows of the line up and about 5 hours to get through the last 3 rows. There were moments when they took in one person in 45 minutes. There were 70 people ahead of me in line when George showed up at 11:30 for a lunch time visit. There were 30 people ahead of me in line at 2:00 and 10 people ahead of me at 3:00. I think I got taken at sometime just shortly after 3 p.m. They had a big enough shipment to do this all over again tomorrow.

As I said to Lee sometime around hour 4 of the big wait, waiting in line is kinda like marriage. At a certain point you just accept you are committed for the long haul no matter what the length is.

Yeah, I should have been so lucky as to be committed.

And it really does have that watermark screen as background when you first turn it on. It freaked me out a bit.

So I have a phone. Finally. It is lovely. The video and screen is crystal clear and miles ahead of the 3GS. George and I tested out the video calling which works great. It would work better if your "Angelic" kids weren't chasing each other and screaming in the background. Oh, well, after all things epic, at least somethings in life will return to normal.

I said goodbye to Lee and "the boss" as if I would see them tomorrow. It is funny how you connect with people like that under heroic circumstances. We suffered a trauma together. Lee and his family live about 5 blocks from me. Crazy. And the stupid thing is that I will probably never see him again even around the area.

And the kids got ice cream on the way home from the mall.  Very much earned.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What does it mean to Regret?

I used to be a Girl Guide. I could produce photos but, in this case I choose not to. To be perfectly honest I didn't really like being a Girl Guide. We will ignore the fact that I tried to get every badge in the book. I was (OK, am) also an overachiever. Not really liking Girl Guides would not have affected my badge attainment rate as this was a goal I could accomplish from the comforts of my bedroom. It is possible that my distaste for Girl Guides was foreshadowing of opinions to come. Obviously Girl Guides was overrun with Girls. I don't really get girls. I've discussed this elsewhere.

But I have one very strong memory of Girl Guides. One of our Girl Guide-y activities was to spend time visiting with the elders in a nursing home. We were each assigned a resident and we were to spend time doing something that they enjoyed and, I suppose, learn about who they were. Myself and one other girl were assigned to an old gentlemen who liked to play cards. I can't remember what game he liked to play, but I was bored. I didn't want to play cards. [This too could be foreshadowing. I still don't much care for sitting around and playing cards.] But I humored him and I played and he was a funny old man and he enjoyed our company but as soon as I saw my escape, I made it and asked to be placed elsewhere.

But the other girls adored my little old man. They all clamoured to be the one to play cards with him in my place and I hovered from a distance with whoever I was assigned to next and watched him charm them and tease them and they giggled and soon he had about six little girls crowding around him and giving him attention and I wanted that attention too.

And I regretted that I'd asked to be placed elsewhere. I remember nothing about the resident I sat with next but I remember wishing that I was back with my little old card-playing man. I even asked one of our leaders if I could go back with him and I was told no. And I was sad. And I was angry -- probably at myself. It was my choice to leave his side and go to someone else. So I stayed far away and avoided being near what I regretted. I don't remember how old I was (9 or 10) but this was a valuable lesson.

You can do nothing about regret but learn from it. I can think of little else in my life that I have regretted since. I tend to make my choices and I live with them. I regret none of my teenage antics, but I got lucky a few times and none of them caused me or anyone else harm. I wish I had made more efforts to be more athletic in my youth (especially post high school and into my 20s) but I also didn't really have any friends or role models to influence those decisions. Maybe I was too much of a follower? I regret the years I didn't write a stitch but I had other goals then and I was satisfied. The writing came back.

I regret that I didn't travel more before I was married and had kids when I lived at home and had a sizable bank account that I was afraid to nip from the surface of (and GOD I regret not knowing I would never have a sizable bank account like that again). But, there was no one to travel with. And I was a different, less adventurous person then. And I was pretty into school and that cost money. I did apply to go to France and take a course in the summer of 91, but as you might recall, that previous fall was when the Gulf War started, so in the name of my own safety, I never went through with my plans.

I regret none of my past relationships or friendships (including my marriage). Things turn out the way they do for a reason (again, I've written about this before). If I was the one to leave a relationship, I've never looked back or wished I'd made a different call. If someone has called the ending on me, after sometimes very long periods of mourning during which I knew I would have taken them back if they'd asked, I eventually always knew I would never want to start over.

I can only remember one guy wanting to get back together and he had wisely left me because he wasn't ready. He was still in mourning from someone before me but he had already taken things a shade too far with me by the time he realized this. He'd tossed out too many complements. Touched my feelings. Fawned over me and told me how amazing I was. Showered me with attention I'd never seen before. This guy also has the dubious honour of doing the most romantic thing a guy has ever done for me. He played his guitar and sang me a song to tell me how important I was despite the fact that he couldn't have a relationship with me, not then. I shed a lot of tears over that one. Four years later when we ran into each other at a friend's wedding and we went out on a date again, he told me of his regrets about me and I gently turned him down. I forgave him for his past choice despite the hurt I'd felt but, I had no feelings towards him anymore. I was numb. 

I am a different person now, I said.

I don't know what you mean, he said, you seem like the same person to me. But the difference was that I had moved on. I had loved other people after him. Or I was already interested in someone else. Or I was scared of letting my heart go after the past hurt. Or maybe all of the above. Regardless, I didn't go back and that was the last I heard from him.

I remember one other guy who I thought was trying to get back together with me and when I told him I wasn't really sure I wanted that (before he even brought it up) he squirmed with incredulous indignation because that wasn't what he was trying to do. Set aside the obvious wounding to the male ego I had delivered, I walked away from that encounter humiliated for even bringing it up.

Today I found some old emails, both ones I sent and ones I received, that I didn't know I had and they made me cringe and ache. The sender/recipient of these emails recently told me that they regret me. And I don't know how to take that because, in my world, there is nothing to regret.

So in trying to understand this regret I found this:

Know exactly what you regret.
Take responsibility, don't blame.
Be kind, always.
Apologize where necessary.
Grieve openly.
Learn lessons.
Forgive yourself.

Don't forget, I've had to do the same.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How do you Explain?

The things that cross my path and inspire me in strange and unexpected ways are frequent these days. Yesterday it was my friend Greg, the "Tri Guy" writing about the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death that brought on that domino effect of linked thoughts that eventually lead to one of these more serious posts of mine.

I remember Elvis dying too. I especially remember it because my mother was a big fan. I was 6 years old; old enough to understand that my mother was in love with Elvis Presley (along with my father, I hoped), but not old enough to understand that Dead meant Gone. I remember Elvis's death being a turning point in understanding my own mortality. "Where did he go?" "Why didn't the doctor's fix him?" I do remember being told sometime before this momentous event that if I died that the doctors would bring me back to life so how come they didn't bring back Elvis?

I remember nothing of the answers given to me. But I DO clearly remember understanding that dying meant no longer living and no longer living meant not seeing my mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and my little brother and our dog Lady (who died about a year later) and it meant not having my favorite toys and it meant, for all intents and purposes (and religious beliefs not withstanding), NOT existing.

I have a 6 year old right now. He is just slightly older than I was when Elvis died. (But really eons older in kid-sense as he is 5 months older than I was when Elvis died).

He was 3 and a half when his father and I separated, what does he remember of that? Nothing, I suppose. I remember I used to break into tears whenever I mentioned the thought that he would likely not remember his mother and his father ever living together. His sister was, ironically enough, 6 when this event occurred. She will remember more.

But it was my son who looked at us sitting in the bleachers at the pool this past April who overheard his Mom and Dad talking about his father looking for a house, who so logically looked at us and in a tone of voice wise beyond his years said, Why can't you just live together already? Geez.

Made lots of sense to him. Simple.

Because we fight all the time, his Dad said.

But that wasn't really true. We didn't fight all the time and we still don't fight all the time. We just have nothing to say to each other and we aren't interested in one another. That is a whole other way to not be able to live together and is far more complicated to explain than the gigantic screaming matches that permeate other irreconcilable marriages. Although we did have some of those too at moments when the tension was impossible to contain. But marriages are supposed to have some overwhelming disastrous circumstance that brings it to an end -- so goes the cliche. There is nothing dramatic about a quiet petering out of an unnourished flame. Or the fade-out at the end of a song that was once one of your favorites and now you don't remember what made you like it so much.

I've been in two relationships that involved my kids since the end of my marriage and that is a hard one to explain to a 9 and a 6.5 year old in their egocentric little worlds. They don't get relationships. And even though their parent's relationship ended, they don't get the end of relationships.

One of my most heartbreaking moments of late was being at a BBQ with my kids when one of these past relationships turned up unexpectedly. I was helping set up the food table when I heard my kids in unison say, Hey Mom! Look what we found!

I turned to find one kid on each hand of the first of the two gentlemen who've been involved with my kids, who sheepishly allowed himself to be dragged along. It was like being stabbed in the chest. I'm sure it was hard for him too. And I thank him for being a good sport about that in that moment.

I have really loving kids. I had put him out of my life, but also theirs too. 

Just this evening my kids have been complaining about how sharp our cat's nails are and can't we ask (name of the second gentleman) to come over and cut them? They've also been asking to go to Fun Mountain all summer and they want this second gentleman to come along. He hasn't been to our house in nearly 3 months. Haven't they noticed? 

But what have I done to explain?  Honestly, not much. I told the kids that gentleman #1 was not going to live with us after all, and I hoped for questions that never really came. I've said little about gentleman #2's disappearance other than I told my daughter, and I don't think she really asked anything specific to make me say this, that he was busy with other things in his life right now. Again, my explanation failed to bring on more questions.

I have a belief about honesty with kids. Honesty is ALWAYS best. And if they are old enough to ask the question they are old enough to hear the answer. Either they understand more than they let on or what I've said is enough for their understanding. At least for now.

But it breaks my heart.

How do you time introducing kids into relationships? The first time it happened before I was comfortable with it but I let it happen because I didn't know what was right and he seemed comfortable and he had his own kids and had been dating for a while and had been here before. I considered him more of an expert and his judgement HAD to be more right than my gut which told me, "not yet."

With guy #2, it just felt right -- so I thought -- he felt right. I didn't count on the end coming when it did. And my kids knew him more as my "friend" than anything else. There were never any "sleepovers" although every time he came over they asked if he was going to "sleepover."

I've heard people say, not for a year. I've heard of people who set strict rules around such things. I don't know. I prefer to go with my gut. But the truth of the matter is that I'm not even sure how trustworthy my gut is? I don't appear to have very good sense when it comes to relationship choices. I tend to be one of those blessed with the curse of believing that every guy is THE ONE.

The first relationship happened before I was ready -- and I KNEW I wasn't ready, but he was ready enough for the both of us so it was hard to resist. His readiness and attention were infectious. Until my lack of readiness made me sullen and miserable and the things that made me not ready started spilling out of my mouth quite beyond my judgement and my control.

Before the second relationship started it was already marred with a gigantic complication (perhaps more than one actually) which gnawed at both our senses of security which I think we both naively thought could be overcome.

And I blinded myself to the potential for disaster that was set from the beginning in both these relationships. I blocked it out because I didn't want to face reality. But then again, hindsight is 20-20. .

And as much as I fear introducing my children into a relationship, I equally fear being rejected because I have children. But then again, any man who would do that to me is not the one. They are part of the wonderful package that is me. And as I have learned, you cannot mold someone into fitting the bill of the perfect guy if there is something huge about him that makes him imperfect.

I don't know. I don't have the answers. I do sense it is something that will make me hesitate in future relationships -- I don't want to let it hold me back but I don't want to hurt my kids too. And I'm not one to avoid taking risks. So I would appreciate if you would weigh in and share your thoughts ... from both sides.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Golden Triangle: Day 3 Radium to Canmore

Up, up, up, up, up..... dooooownn......up, up, ....up, up.... up, up..... down, down, down, down, down. 

When you ride a bike that isn't really meant for speed and you are one of those that really enjoys speed, at some point you have to just accept the fact that 20 km/hr really is fast enough. The likelihood that you will be willing to accept this fact, increases exponentially on Day 3 of the Golden Triangle after 270 km of highway slogging with fat tires and panniers. You will be able to gain further degrees of acceptance when the opening 12.5 km of your ride topographically maps out like this:

You  may recall that back in March, I climbed the 25 mile ascent up Mount Lemmon in Tucson. There isn't a hill that scares me anymore after that. But today's hill of all hills, for us, starts at the Melting Pot Restaurant which was about 2-300 m down the hill from the Misty River Lodge which is about a kilometer and half before the Kooteny National Park gates which is the 11km mark on the above map. It is shorter than Mt. Lemmon, it is steeper, and there are no moments of recovery the entire way to the peak. It is unrelenting. I'm glad I didn't see this map until I was finished the climb. The gradients are there for truckers and other large vehicle drivers to prepare for the descent.

Keep in mind that I NOW know how long the climb is but when I start pedalling from the restaurant, I have NO idea how far it is to the top. All I know about the climb is that Geoff of Misty River told us that the 11% grade just outside the Hot Springs is the most steep section but it is short and there is a lovely picnic area at the top of the climb but a mother and two cubs have been spotted up there so keep an eye out. Geoff, by the way, IS the bike shop in Radium. There is no other. He is an avid cyclist himself and when travellers stop at the information on the way into town with bike mechanicals, it is him they are sent to.

I begin the climb doing what I do best. Spin and try not to let the heart rate get too high. The map start (at the base, not the peak) is at the Kooteny National Park gates. We start about a kilometer or two below that. According to Garmin we started at 900m elevation and rode to about 1500m in this section. I get out of my saddle to climb the 11% section and my heart rate jumps to 160-ish. Most of the climb is in single digit speeds. It is amazing how fast 12 km/hr feels after you have been riding 8 km per hour for kilometer long stretches. At about the 12 km mark up the highway I am sitting more at 6 km/hr. It is hard to stay upright at 6 km per hour. I take a little break to reorient my system because I figured I could have another 5 km to go, but it turned out I only had about 300 m to the top. I turned a corner and saw this:

If I had known, I wouldn't have stopped. It was an 1:15 minute climb approximately for me. 12.5km. It was going to be a lonnng day.

I wait about 13 minutes for Guy and we wait another 5 or so for Wayne and then came the much overdue commemorative photo for surviving the climb. It is the only photo we have with the three of us all in one picture. And that was the worst climb of the whole day, although there were many many more to come and many many of those highway passing lanes that warned us they were coming, each of which made my stomach flip because, again, you know they will be long climbs but you don't really know how long. There was another one later that was about 5 km long but even that is decieving because we had been gently climbing for about 5 km before that too.  And 5 km before that. ...... And 5 km before that.....

Then we contemplate the down map.

It is funny because this ride was kind of a "smell the roses" kind of day regardless of the raw spots on my butt. My legs felt better than they did the two days before. But it is sort of depressing knowing you have an approximately 160 km day and you are at 50 km and you've already been on the road for over 4 hours. There were many moments when we looked at each other and said, Gee, I hope we get back before dark. It took the majority of the ride to get my average speed for the day to read over 20 km per hour. Of the first 97 km, probably 80 of them were uphill. (As an aside, there is no such thing as a true flat in the mountains, it is always either up or down. sometimes gently so, but up or down, always.)  And you know I'm not making this up. I've linked the Garmin data already.

So take a look at some of our sight seeing instead; all taken on the primarily uphill portion:

Guy at one of the view points on the downhill. They stopped and I didn't, I suppose. And in case you are wondering, yes, we are all wearing the same clothes for 3 days. We did wash though... I promise.

I'll take this over Muddy Waters any day. This picture doesn't even come close to capturing how blue/green the waters of the Kooteny are.

This was the first day I saw any real wildlife. There were two elk on the side of the road and then about 5km later we saw a bear too.

Did somebody paint this??!!

And then the next thing we knew it was all downhill. We saw Castle Mountain off in the distance. We stopped at one scenic point. I eyed the map and tried to name all the mountains surrounding us. I wasn't hungry but I was feeling pretty crappy at this stop. I'd been struggling for chunks of this ride with gas and stomach pains. I had bought Gatorade in Radium but made the mistake of buying the reduced sugar kind. I made a calculation that it had been 3 hours since I'd had anything to eat -- again, it was another day without a proper restaurant stop on the road. The Restaurant at the Kooteny Park Lodge where we had lunch was closed for lunch. So I downed another granola bar and that made all the difference.

Leaving the last rest stop, we could see yet another passing lane sign off in the distance. And it turned out to be the last. There was a steep stretch of downhill after that (oh the sweet sweet sight of the truck mandatory break check stops) that brought us down to the TC turnoff and we took the TC all the way back to Canmore.

And that is where Guy took off. And he flew. He went by me like I was standing still. I could see him off in the distance most of the way but he was a speck. We were all a little determined to be done at this point. It may have been mostly downhill but it wasn't downhill enough to allow Wayne to do his thing and tuck and stay with us. It was Guy's kinda downhill. And we had the wind with us too for probably the first time in 3 days. I was doing probably 35km per hour on average the whole way back to Canmore. Not too shabby for a mountain bike with slicks. As we approached Banff, I could see Guy deaking in and out of view points and I couldn't figure out what he was doing. Eventually I saw him take a turn off ramp to Banff and I wasn't as far behind at this point. I was close enough to call out to him. He was out of water and in search of an oasis. So I gave him the mouth piece to my Camelback and he drank.

Then back onto the TC, 22 km to go. And feeling pretty desperate to be done. Guy's back wheel was scenery enough.

There was nothing more beautiful than seeing the sign guiding us to the information center in Canmore. It was about 5:45 at night. We'd been on the road since 8:45 approximately. The first thing Guy and I did was pool our coins and guzzle a Pepsi each. A REAL Pepsi. None of this diet crap. We sat on the steps of the Rocky Mountain Ski Lodge and drank. Wayne was about 30 minutes behind.

My original plan was to get in my car and start driving back to Winnipeg after this. I am glad the guys talked me out of it before we even left. I couldn't even talk clearly. We hit the new Mexican Restaurant in town (FANTASTIC!). They were playing some cool music. I had to ask the waitress three times who the band was for it to stick in my memory (John Butler Trio...... they are in iTunes.)

We slept well. Even Guy "slept in."  (Remember his 5:30 internal alarm meant 4:30 in Alberta). We drove the entire 14 hour drive the next day. I was tired. Four days later, I'm still tired. It was amazing.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Golden Triangle: Day 2 Golden to Radium

I go into the Husky station next door to our hotel in Golden to see if you can still buy disposable cameras. I could buy an entire satellite radio system or have my pick of one of any of about 40 different types of beef jerky on the entire isle dedicated to displaying beef jerky but I can't find anything that will take pictures.

After the rain and grit and dirt of yesterday, we decide we need to get our bikes checked. We ride through Golden in search of a bike shop and we find one, coincidentally enough, right next door to a Mexican latte shop. There sure are an interesting mix of folk in these mountain towns. The guy cleans up our chains for $10 bucks each. Unbelievable. My and Guy's bike wins for dirtiest. Must be the big tires creating more spray wake.

The guy in the shop tells us our ride today will be flat. Yeah right. He doesn't know what flat is. But, I am sure by his standards it is flat. The ride from Golden to Radium is along the Columbia River Valley and it reminds me of riding Kenora. It is rolling and there is no elevation gain and if you check out the Garmin data it is that section of the trip that is relatively flat along the graph. Until the end of course. Naturally.

My legs are toast, Guys' legs are toast and Wayne, he's just not complaining. I am feeling that mountain climbing expedition from two days ago especially the quad muscles above my knees which I used to descend. They are likely the same muscles I use to climb hills on a bike. We are not at a very high altitude today but my lungs feel pretty small too. My heart rate isn't happy over 150. To be honest, my body isn't really happy with any heart rate higher than 132 but I'm sucking it up. There are a lot of little hills to climb. Normally I can sit happily with a heart rate of high 160s for a fairly long time but these are different conditions and this is a pretty physically taxing ride. We are used to wind in Manitoba and I would describe riding hills in the mountains with panniers on a fat tired mountain bike with no aerodynamics to be the equivalent of riding into 30 km per hour headwinds the entire way. And the entire way today turns out to be 107.1 km (that includes the little jaunt into downtown Golden to find a bike shop).

With the frequent hills Guy and I lose Wayne quickly and find we end up stopping to wait for him about every 12 km. Wayne is the only one with a camera but it is one of those gigantic SLR ones that requires a complete stop to use so we have few pictures from this day. 

But there are lots of interesting things on this road. Finding a place to eat proves to be a challenge. There is a restaurant in Parson's which is at about 37 km in. Too soon. By 64 km we are really hungry and want a lunch stop. I've been dreaming and talking about cheeseburgers for several kms now. We arrive in a little town with a fantastic name and should be the name of some creepy town in a horror novel or the name of a rock band. Spillimacheen. And now I want to make you say it again because it is too cool. Spillimacheen. But Spillimacheen has no restaurant.

We haven't seen Wayne for a long time at this point. We had made one stop about 12 km back to wait and after 10 minutes of lingering on the side of the road with logging trucks that smell like pine roaring by, we decide to move on. Other than the logging trucks the road isn't half bad for traffic. And the shoulder is decent. But, again, for the many times that I wished I was on my skinny-tired road bike, I have an equal number of times that I am thankful for my thick tires so I can plow over cracks and uneven road without a second thought.

Guy assures me that, as a guy, Wayne would not expect to be waited for. Neither would I, I say, but I am not sure if this is true or not. I am out here in the mountains and I can't geographically place myself on a map and I have no phone. It occurs to me that even if everything in my body at this moment tells me that I need to get off my bike and stop this craziness, that I couldn't.

Day 2 was a hard day. It was topographically the easiest day and the shortest distance, but it was a hard day psychologically and physically just from the physical difficulty of the day before.

We call Wayne from the porch of the General Store in Spillimachine (Again!) and estimate we are about 12 km ahead of him. It is the bee keepers shop. I really wish I had a camera in this place. They sell organic honey right from the hive, jams and preserves, wax candles and candle holders and homemade honey mustard and in the winter it is heated by a wood stove. If I could have carried it, I would have taken home several jars. Even at $9 a shot.

We ask the lady at the shop where is a good place to eat and establish that it is about 20km down the road at a Golf Course (Spurr Valley). We decide to ride on and wait for Wayne there while eating lunch.

One guarantee I caught onto quickly on this ride is that if you see a sign that passing lanes will start in 1 km, you know what is coming. A big, f'ing, long, uphill stretch. We hit one of these about 14 kms later. The other thing you can guarantee under these circumstances is that as soon as you start to pull away from your riding partner, he will flat, and you will be too far out of vocal range to call you to stop. 

I arrive at the road for the Spurr Valley Golf course and I am totally alone. After about 5 minutes of waiting I conclude what must have happened. Guy doesn't climb as fast as me but every time there has been a fairly big climb I have usually turned around at the top and at least been able to see him. I have about a km of visual from the Golf Course Road and there is no Guy.

The next guarantee in situations like this, is that when you decide to sit and wait, it will start to rain. I put on my jacket an sit myself on top of the road barricade at the corner. I decide that since I am alone that this is a good time to pee. So I climb over the barricade (which blocks a steep slope) and decided I am sufficiently shielded from the highway to squat right here. Road guarantee number 4 in these situations is that when you decide to pee in a semi sheltered area but are visible to those coming down the road from the golf course, that even on a quiet rainy day where there have been no cars on the road for at least 15 minutes, the cars will drive by as soon as you have your pants down. In this case, two cars. In a row. I could have made eye contact with the drivers and waved if I hadn't been hanging my head in shame.

Why are you waiting at the bottom of the hill? asks Wayne when they roll up about 30 minutes later. He had caught up while Guy changed his tire. I'm grouchy at this point because I am starving. I wish I had gone up to the restaurant to eat on my own while I waited but I didn't because I had no way of contacting them to let them know where I was. We (or shall I say, THEY) decide we are just going to carry on and eat in Radium. We've had nothing but road food till this point but we only have 20 km left in the ride. Time to carry on.

My legs are dead and I feel like I physically have nothing in me (not to mention the saddle discomfort, but that is a whole other story) but somehow I pedal on. Figuring I will arrive in the town before the guys, I ask Wayne the name of our hotel while at the Golf Course Road. He gives me directions and tells me the name. I recite the name in my head for the first km or so but within about 3 km, I can no longer remember. I know it starts with an M. Magic Lodge. Marboro. Mystic. Damn the bonking brain. I probably couldn't tell you my own name at this point. I hope I can at least recognize the hotel when I ride past it.

I arrive in Radium with enough time to inhale a power bar and relax on the steps of the Misty River Lodge. It is a two km ascent into the town and to the hotel. I can see the highway that Guy and Wayne (and I) rode in on from the parking area of the lodge. Just as I see Guy coming up the highway, I am found by the proprietor and he gets me a key and shows me where we will store our bikes. I am in our room changing my shoes when the guys pull up.

We quickly gather our stuff and Geoff the Aussie who, with his German wife Gaby, runs the lodge gives us a drive to the Radium Hot Springs about 2 km up the highway. We get a preview of the opening km's of tomorrow's ride including the 11% grade in one short section. Brilliant. I'm drinking tonight. After the hot springs we find dinner at a very trashy, nondescript looking restaurant called The Melting Pot which has the most fabulous food ever. We went back for breakfast the next morning. I got my cheeseburger. I got my 2 pints of excellent Okanogan brewed local amber beer. I got cheesecake too and I am a happy woman. In my semi-drunken state I quiz Wayne about his life story.

Later, I pass out in bed on the top bunk in our hotel room before the guys have even finished puttering around the room. And we wake up to this:

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Golden Triangle: Day 1 Canmore to Golden

The hardest ride I have ever done to date. Hands down. All the training I did for my half ironman in Calgary. FORGET IT. That training was for this. I was far more bagged at the end of one day of this ride series than I was after the race. Maybe it was good that I didn't know in advance what I was getting into. And I will say now that if I was to do it again I would do it like this, supported on a proper road bike with someone else carrying my gear. We did a longer ride than this organized version because we left from Canmore which adds about 50-60 km to the ride advertised in the link. And if you want a sneak peak of the outcome look here NOW. This is our version of the ride.

Two Centuries and a Metric

Days: 3
Total Distance: 427.0 km (162.7, 107.1, 157.2)
Hours in the saddle: 19:09:25

The Players:

Guy: 58 year old (but looks much younger), Chair of Business Admin with an IT and Education background and my friend Lisa's boss. Arguably a workaholic (I doubt he would refute that). Travel junkie and happily married to a spouse (luckily) who is an AC employee. Coincidence? I think not. Internal alarm clock firmly set at 5:30 a.m. Francophone by culture so that is the French "Guy" (hard "G" -- ee) as opposed to the English "Guy" (hard "G" eye) -- Rides very very heavy touring hybrid bike by Mikoura (or something like that). Strengths: the long gentle downhill for which a young punk chick like myself riding an unfriendly converted mountain bike much enjoyed sitting on his back wheel for these sections. Although, there is a downside to sitting in anyone's draft in the mountains. Sometimes it was preferable to sit back and just look around and you can't do that if you are staring at a rear wheel.

Wayne: 71 year old, once-retired-but-back-again, business communications instructor who's lived in every major city in the entire West of Canada and beyond. Connoisseur of the non-alcoholic beer. Born in Banff (people are actually BORN in BANFF??) his first love for speed came on the downhill slopes and he still downhill ski races. Rides: an old-style steel-framed Marinoni road bike with modern components. Strengths: the tucking downhill. He drives his car similar to how he downhills on a bike and skis. He may have had to haul his CPAP machine for 427 km but when I am 71 years old, I can only dream that I will still have the balls and the gumption to ride the Golden Triangle. He rode the route 15 years ago in the reverse direction and this left the memory a bit fuzzy of some route details but the fuzziness kept it interesting. There is truth to the "Ignorance is Bliss" adage.

Kim: Our well-loved narrator, 39 year old (really for truly) nursing instructor, triathlete and separated mother of 2 and an inclination towards the carpe diem lifestyle. Arguably a computer addict (but I deny it). Youth and beauty packaged together -- (please, now, time to get back on your chairs) -- rides converted Specialized Hard Rock Pro with disc brakes and industrial strength slick tires and locked out front suspension. Strengths, the long steep (and/or gentle) uphill -- the secret: spin and ride light, my friends, spin and ride light -- or at the very least, be lighter than your riding companions. Dreamed at least 427 times during this ride that she was on the prized even lighter Madone.

In a Nutshell Day 1:

sun, hill, drizzle, rain, cold, hill, sun, overcast, black, rain, hail, bigger hill, construction, huge trucks, rain rain rain.......

It started with flat tires. Wayne had been out in the Okanogan and had flat after unexplainable flat. He woke up the morning of the ride to yet another flat. And within 14km of Day 1 he had flatted the same tire again. And I thought: if this is an omen of what is to come, we are in big big BIG trouble. Guy found his flat right after lunch in Lake Louise. This allowed me to go shopping but as with my experience in Canmore, everything I loved cost too much.

I changed clothes so many times on this ride I coulda been in a cycling fashion show. Sleeves, no sleeves, jacket, no jacket, no sleeves, rain gear.

We rode west for the most part a little on the Trans Canada (TC), a little on the old highway 1 that turned a 2 km trip between Banff and Lake Louise into a 60 km trip. Who knew this was even geographically possible? And then back on the TC after Lake Louise. Most of the TC was under construction past Lake Louise. There were some awesome downhills that stretched out for 5 km or more. There was debris on the shoulder that made me thankful at moments for my fat tires. They have those nets up in places on this section that stop rock from falling off the mountain onto the highway. A lot had fallen through the net and was on the shoulder. I would ride just outside the white line to avoid the rock chunks and still have semis who had the option of 2 other lanes, brush past me six inches from my shoulder in my lane (bunch of Hill Billie red-necks  -- to quote Wayne). We stuck together for the most part which sometimes meant waits at the top of the hills for me.

I was about a half km ahead when the rain really started to come down somewhere just outside of Field. The skies had been black off to the West for sometime and it started to come down in droves. I stopped a the next side road and pulled out my rain jacket and quickly put away my phone and my camera. The hail started about 20 seconds after Guy and Wayne caught up and pulled over with me and we all dove for the cover of trees. This picture of Guy in the hail was the last I snapped with my camera for the rest of the ride. When we arrived in Golden, my camera battery was dead (who can explain why) and my phone was not functioning. I guess the zipper of the waterproof panniers leaks a little because the pocket I used to store away and protect both, was soaked with water.

The evening in Golden was spent on laundry, finding the shortest distance to dinner, 200 metres to the Timbermill Family (thankfully licenced) Restaurant, crying over my phone and the dead battery in my camera, and watching Dr. Who and Halloween II. It was a stunningly intellectual evening for three overachieving individuals.

Things I learned on Day 1:

1. Most of the first 40 km was uphill. At least Gently but I didn't realize this until Day 3 when we covered some of the same road in reverse and that road was definitely mostly downhill.
2. My saddle is really really uncomfortable and moving your "comfortable" road saddle to your mountain bike does not work or spare your bruised sit-bones.
3. Mountain weather changes in the blink of an eye.
4. Zippered pockets on water proof panniers are not so waterproof.
5. Mountain bike shorts on a road ride are NOT a good idea.
6. When the one guy who has done the ride before but 15 years ago, estimates that the ride distance for the day will be 150 km, immediately add 15 km in your head to easy the psychological pain when the 150 km mark comes and goes with no end in sight.
7. The bigger the vehicle, the STUPID-er the driver.
8. When one of you forgets the camera and another forgets the camera battery charger, it does not help the situation  if the two pieces of the remaining puzzle are not compatible with one another.
9. It doesn't matter how much weight you carry. Aerodynamics wins the downhill race every time.
10. On day one, before you blow your metabolism out of the water, you will still feel hungry before you bonk.
11. One of you  may be dancing to the Beatles and one of you may be dancing to Alanis Morisette, but you are both dancing and feeling no pain after 80 km.
12. There are not many secrets left between people once you've washed their underwear for them.
13. It is fun to be the fastest uphiller when you can catch your friends panting at the top of the hill on video.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some Random Meanderings

It's been a little hazy here in Canmore the last few days due to fires burning in BC so this is not a bad shot considering. Somewhere near the Nordic Centre in Canmore.

It is really unfortunate that I had to travel alone this week. I had plenty of opportunities to NOT be alone but it seemed like the race in Calgary fell at a time that didn't work out for other people's vacation schedules and I couldn't afford to make two jaunts away. I could barely afford the one and at the moment I am trying not to think about the gigantic MasterCard bill I am going to get in a month when I know it was already gigantic at the end of last month. I've developed some bad habits in terms of my carpe diem life..... the only way to cope is to just ... not.... look.

So tomorrow starts the ride of the summer: The GOLDEN TRIANGLE. This is apparently an organized ride if you hit it at the right time of the year but I was unable to find any specific information. The ride starts in Banff (although, I believe we are going to start in Canmore) and then we ride to Golden, then to Radium and then back to Banff/Canmore. It will take three days and it will be over 100 km of riding each day...

Yes, Ouch, even I am saying OUCH and, as you all know, I am CRAZY.

And may I add.... on not-a-very-happy-to-ride bike. The Madone will not take panniers not to mention the sacrilege of even thinking of putting panniers on the piece of art that is the Madone, so I rigged up my mountain bike and it is already heavy as hell without all my gear and tomorrow is going to be one massive grind of 150 km. I took it out for a spin in Canmore the other night and climbing hills is going to be painful.

But I thought I would do a quick photographic post in the meantime and let you know what I've been up to for the last week. The Calgary 70.3 race was last Sunday and I had a week to kill out here in Alberta before meeting up with Wayne and Guy, my riding companions of the next three days. Some of that week was spent mooching as much as I could from my kind friends and friends of friends. You already know I spent a little bit of time just outside of Calgary with Maura and her lovely family. I left there on Wednesday and drove out to Drumheller and visited the dinosaurs and a little bit of the true badlands of Alberta.

Nice shadow effect

The Badlands

I then ventured into the city again and spent two nights with a friend/business acquaintance of my friend Mich. It was an interesting two days to say the least. Troy and Candace lead a lifestyle that I could not handle for much more than two days. Think back to the best party you ever went to in your teenage life and then imagine living it every single day. Very good people. Very exhausting. I discovered that it is still possible for me to tire of drinking alcohol. I also discovered that I am a good listener and a good therapist. I can't solve my own bloody problems but toss anyone else's my way and I am a genius. It just requires a little emotional distancing. Candace's family could be a reality TV show.  It was nice to be able to forget about my own issues for a while. Troy and Candace, however, DO have an amazing view from the balcony of their condo.


Then off to Canmore where I wandered the town and tried not to spend money. It wasn't hard. Every time I looked at a price tag on something I liked, it read over $150..... sigh. After the aerobars for the bike, nothing of that expense was going to happen. I puttered around on my bike looking for some steep hills to climb yesterday (very much found... 17% grade as a matter of fact) and then popped over to the rec centre to hit the pool (mostly because I needed a shower and the campground had no showers but, YES, I did swim during this period of time of NO-TRAINING-only FUN).

Today I went for a nice "warm-up" hike to prep myself for my big ride tomorrow.

Yeah right.... some warm up. I tell ya, I've never worked so hard on a warm-up in my life. I climbed a mountain.

I did the Lady Macdonald Hike. I didn't quite hike to the peak, mostly because the hike took longer and was far steeper than I expected. It was a challenge that I hope I don't pay for tomorrow. But I'm glad I did it. Now I can say I've climbed a mountain. The view was gorgeous but the day was overcast and there was a bit of rain when I got to the top. And by top, I mean to the "helipad" which was someone's bright idea to begin building a restaurant or a bar and a helicopter pad on the top of the mountain, and then never finished it. OR... as would not be surprising or unlikely, decided the whole venture would not be cost effective. I chose this trail because there was a designated turn around point at this helipad area or "gazebo." There was not a moment of breathing easy the whole way up -- I was huffing and puffing the whole time. I met and passed probably a dozen people on the trail. I guess I was motoring up there faster than I thought. I ended up being the first to arrive at the top. It took me about 1 hour and 50 minutes to climb up and about 1:20 to come down.

Yes, "I am here" The little metal dot on the right is the start. The was the only signage on the whole trail.

Looking down at Canmore, about half way up.

As the trail got more treacherous, these little dudes saved me from wandering astray as they marked the path when none was clear. Inukshuk.

The "gazebo/helipad" area near the top. I literally thought I would never get there. And then all of a sudden there it was.

The view from the top. After walking through the rain for the last half hour, (questioning if I was going to have to SLIDE back down the mountain to get there), off in the Western distance, there is faint hope of the weather clearing.

A nice view on the trail -- nearer to the top as I was on the way down. I thought this was a cool shot.

Me all rained on and sweaty.