Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The times they are a changin'

It's getting cold here in Vancouver and this morning there was snow on the Lions. I went up onto the roof and took photo. If I had thought of it a couple of hours earlier (when I walked back from collecting my mail) it had that beautiful orangey morning light and less clouds. Ah well...

Snowlions, hiding in the clouds.

It was Lina's birthday at the weekend, so of course we needed to do some celebrating. We managed a good variety of celebrating, starting with a trip across the border to ride at Galbraith with Paul and Angie where there was sunshine and dry (in places) trails.

A bike, at Galbraith

Post-riding we had dinner in Bellingham and then went to see the Fleet Foxes... a local(ish) band who have found found fame and fortune recently. Their fortune didn't show in their clothing, hair, or beard choices, and they played really well. The venue was a lecture theater with a pipe-organ in the background, which was really quite odd. Vocal harmony is the new rock and roll, apparently.

On Sunday (Lina' s actual birthday) we ran/hiked up Lynn Peak on the North Shore. The climb was mostly in the clouds, but at the summit we found ourselves above it all. Not a bad place to be on Sunday morning...

On Sunday night we explored a new (to me) pot-luck dinner idea... make your own pizza. We had sourdough bases made by Margaret and Kala (thanks!) and some more dough from the fantastic Italian bakery near my place. Some very fine toppings were brought along and I of course ate too much. Although we ended up with fewer vegans than expected, we made vegan-carrot-birthday-cake which turned out to be really, really good. Here's there recipe if you fancy a go at it. Really, it's great!

Paul's got some very nice fall leaf photos and some from the ride on his blog entry here. Lina has more photos and words here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Giving thanks for mountains, friends, and bikes.

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving, which for some reason is a different weekend to Thanksgiving in the US. However, we went to the US and celebrated Thanksgiving anyway. Confusing.

Paul, Jacek, Angie, Lina, and I drove across the border and across to Mazama, near Winthrop WA. We met up with Chris, who Jacek and I met on TransRockies and who's parents happen to have built a very nice house out there. The trails and dry climate of the Okanogan didn't disappoint and we had sunshine, clear skies, and fast, dusty trails. Summer is definitely losing its grip even in the interior and the ground was a beautiful carpet of leaves in places, with a little snow high up too. As usual I was amazed how a few (well, 6) hours drive from home can change the landscape so much.

Lina in full Steed Cycles regalia.

After a short, but fun, ride around Buck Mountain on Saturday we spent the evening cooking a massive Thanksgiving dinner and playing on Lina's slackline. Paul too photos of all that stuff, which are on his blog here. Sunday we were due for our epic ride... which is why we went all the way to Winthrop after all. Starvation Mountain didn't disappoint. A huge climb, followed by a huge traversing descent, views, lots of broken bike parts, crashes, ice, sand, mud... we had it all. Jacek put in a heroic effort running the uphills and scooting the downhills after his freewheel exploded. Amazingly Jacek still seems to be quite fast even when his bike won't pedal...
On Monday we went back to Buck Mountain to do a variation of Saturday's route so we could ride down the trail we came up before. Jacek and Paul's bikes had been combined into one working bike and Paul ride a fine vintage Klein from Chris's garage. 
Paul on the vintage Klein.

The Thanksgiving collective, in some bushes.

We made it back to the border (via some very tasty Thai food) with my car pouring smoke... which upset the border guard a little. Thankfully we got home and my car is now fixed (again). Thank you everyone for a great weekend... let's do it again next year!

My photos are here, Paul has a blog entry here, Lina has one here, and Jacek has photos here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Today, I start a new job. This job is doing much the same thing I've been doing for a while... for people I have worked for before, but it is new none the less. In the calm before the storm I've been up to some of the usual fun, and some unusual fun too.

Last week I finally rode my bike out on the long causeway from Iona Beach Park. This is one of those "things to do in Vancouver" that I had never done... so I did. It was strange looking back at Vancouver from what was apparently the middle of the sea, and being quite close to some big ships. After that I went and joined the monthly civil disobedience of Critical Mass... where cyclists "Don't stop traffic, they are traffic". It's all a lot of fun, riding through town with a huge group of bikes and maybe even adds weight to the argument for improving and building new bike lanes. Who knows.

My bike, at sea.

A boat, quite close.

Vancouver is over there.

This (slightly extended) weekend I mountain biked in the rain in Squamish with Lina... then paddled some whitewater on the Cheakamus with Kala and Lina, raced in a cyclocross race, and ran around Buntzen Lake. I'm pretty happy with all that for one weekend. 

Paul and I flew the Fig Rolls flag at New Brighton Park, which is conveniently right down the road from my house. Lina battled the 'cross bikes on her mountain bike and is pretty keen to get a more appropriate machine for next time. I loved the whole comedy experience that is cyclocross... riding road bikes on slippery grass around 180 degree switchbacks as fast as you can. Who invented this silly sport? I think it might have been the Dutch. The race went pretty well, though we're not very sure of the results yet. The venue was really great, a bizarre mixture of the industrial side of Vancouver with the backdrop of the ocean and the North Shore mountains. Angie was on photography duty and took some great pictures... some are on Paul's blog.

Spot the Fig Rolls.

Jumping over planks with a bike... what else?

After the race, Lina and I went over to Port Moody and ran around Buntzen Lake on the Diez Vistas trail. The views back towards North Vancouver were really beautiful and the forest was full of fallen leaves and autumn foresty smells. Then to finish off a great day we cooked dinner with Paul and Angie, including flambĂ© banana... which only resulted in minor burns to my arm. 

Now to get back to work!