Wednesday, December 30, 2009

'Twas the week after Christmas

"A picture speaks 1000 words". So, prepare yourself for a 14,000 word epic. That's lucky, as I need to go and clean some bikes...

Christmas started for us in Toronto and Ottawa. Here's a majestic looking Ottawa building in the evening light.

Here are some tourists warming their hands.

The Christmas Finale, Augaitis-style.

We returned to BC for some slippery mountain biking on the Island with Marc and Nikki

Sykes' Bridge

Pippa is growing and has matured into an effective sock-thief and work-distractor

Not content with biking, we got on skinny skis for the Lake Loop at Mt Washington

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leaving, on a jet plane.

We managed to scrape the last of the decent skiing on the old snow last weekend, before a fresh batch of rain/snow etc. hit us today. It was last chance saloon for Lina and I as we head over to Ontario tomorrow for Christmas. Once again, we had a great weekend off the Duffey Lake road, this time at Cerise Creek.

Lina and a cool cloud/shadow thing

Paul's great photo of me about to explore the snow with my face.

New skis!

We're off to enjoy a last run/ride in the rain before we head east tomorrow. Paul's stuff from the weekend is here, and my photos here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What the heck... let's go anyway.

There has been skiing going on. I also managed 3 night-rides on my bike last week, which was great. One of them was quite foul in wet snow and 5 feet visibility, but you've got to get out there just in case... right?

We've been lucky lately with things turning out better than expected because we went... "just in case". A week ago we were skiing with Jacek on Paul Ridge (without Paul) which despite a dubious forecast of rain and general ming turned out to be great skiing, though we couldn't see much.

Lina in the murk at Paul Ridge

This weekend Lina, Kala, and I braved another dubious forecast (cold, no new snow... but sunshine) and headed in to Steep Creek for the weekend. It turned out so much better than expected! The snow was great, the sun shone, and it was only -20 degrees (?). It was pretty freezing. We bumped into the Traslin brothers, who I had heard of through friends due to their excellent exploits in our local mountains. They were a great pair to spend the evening with. I managed to take my hand out of my glove for long enough to get a couple of photos...

Kala and her tele-track

Kala disturbing some powder

My favorite shot of Lina on her Christmas skis

Lina's favorite shot of Lina on her Christmas skis

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's snowtime

Hello Winter. This weekend I made two firsts. First ski with chairlifts, and first cross-country ski of the season. I'm pretty happy about that.

On Saturday an impressive crown of 13 (mostly Irish) people headed down to Mt Baker in Washington State. It was Lina's first day as Telemarker, which went very well... though it's going to take a while to get out of that alpine skier stance. There was great snow, and general good time. I broke one of my bindings but managed to run back to the car and borrow one of Paul's spares for the last run of the day. Phew!

Lina in proto-Telemark mode

Paul, and a view emerging from the murk


Today Lina and I headed up to Cypress on the North Shore to skate ski. There's loads of snow up there... though the usual warm Cypress conditions made things a bit squishy for XC skiing. Still, I started to remember how to skate by the end of the morning and we got home in time to make yam enchiladas and learn about astronomy. What a combination (?)

Monday, November 16, 2009

5th Annual Comox Mud Ride

It really is 5 years that we've been heading over to Marc and Nikki's place in Comox each October or November to ride around in foul weather, drink hot chocolate, eat food... and often celebrate a birthday. Usually my birthday.

This year we were missing some old friends, but brought along some new faces, including our first "International" participants... TransRockies Chris and Kathleen. We also had Me, Lina, Paul, Angie, Jacek, Sarah, and Kala from Vancouver plus Marc and Nikki, Joan, and a good handful of other locals. Mathilda was the only canine member of the group this time, but a new addition to the Marc and Nikki household (Pippa) will be out on the trails as soon as her legs grow long enough.

Saturday was a fantastic rip around the Cumberland trails is pretty nice conditions. A little slippery, but fast and fun. We finished the day with chili hot chocolate from Darkside in Cumberland. Oh, that stuff was good.

Sunday was a different story. We pedaled up Forbidden, getting deeper and deeper into the snow. We met with the shuttlers and started our descent. Ice-cold water half way up your shins... lovely.

Marc in the right kind of clothes

The start

It was just as cold as it looked

There was a lot of snow, a lot of water... and a lot of "Type 2" fun. However, there was also some amazing/ridiculous descending through the forest, snow and mud flying... careering down a trail that was running in ankle-deep water, and eventually making it out to Nymph Falls and the cars.

To finish off a great weekend we were the second-to-last car to get on the ferry home. Phew!

Here is the traditional link to Paul's version of events. It's worth it just for the cute puppy photos...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I can feel it coming through the air...

No, not this. Snow! Yes, the snow has come. Yesterday was Labor Day, so off we went to Needle Peak on the Coquihalla. We failed to meet up with our Irish friends due to a lot of trucks getting stuck in the snow, but Paul, Dan, Lina, Jacek and I made it up the chosen hill... and down again. The Irish we over at Mt Zoa we learned later.

Photo-fest here, here, and here.

Stop summer, it's snowtime.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The search for Daisy Duck (and a wedding venue)

This weekend Lina and I had the task of finding ourselves a place to get married next summer. This may not sound like a promising start for a tale of adventure... but don't worry, we managed to turn it into one.

We've been in touch with Cheyenne from Strongwater in the village of Egmont on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver. The reason I knew about Egmont is that it's the place you go if you want to paddle your kayak at Skookumchuck. The last time I paddled there was ages ago, but it's a memorable place. We had intended to ride our bikes to Egmont, but the BC weather did it's worst and treated us to torrential rain, wind, and falling temperatures. We were weak and decided to drive over. We did take our running stuff and mountain bikes though. As soon as we got off the ferry the sun peaked out, so we went for a couple of hours ride in the rainforest. The Sunshine Coast trails are still fantastic, even when there's no sunshine.

The no-Sunshine Coast

Riding in the clouds

After that we made a few essential coffee and cake stops on our way to Egmont. Just outside Egmont we spotted a little swimming lake with a series of huge logs tied together with rope. The log contraption led out to a swimming platform. Of course I needed to try walking out to it. This turned out to be a bad idea and I gave up half way... though only got slightly wet.

Contemplating doing something silly.

We got to Egmont, and to cut along story short... Strongwater is fantastic. Exactly the place for us. We had a cosy little cabin for the weekend and chatted to some miners staying there who are building a hydro-electric plant underneath a lake up the valley. I suspect an evil villain's secret underground lair is actually what they're building... but you wouldn't admit that, would you.

On Sunday morning we ran through the forest to catch the (in)famous Skookumchuck wave doing its thing. There were a crew of paddlers dishing out the goods on the wave as it roared away. I need to get back on that monster some day.

Skookum indeed

After a chat with Cheyenne about wedding stuff and some fantastic tea, we set out on our final mission of the day... to feed Daisy the Duck. Daisy is the only duck on Klein Lake, and Cheyenne has been making sure she's doing ok. So, we set off in Cheyenne's canoe to find Daisy and deliver some bread. We paddled the length of the lake, and the breadth... and saw, not much. Not a duck in sight. Feeling a little guilty, we gave up and paddled back to the dock.

Paddling for Miss Daisy

There she was... like, err, a sitting duck! All the time we had been paddling all over the lake, Daisy was sitting waiting for us. Bah. There was some more sketchy walking along wet floating logs (no, I never learn) to get out to daisy's roost... be we made our bread delivery.

Hello ducky

Here she is

So, a successful weekend. We rode bikes, we ran, we paddled, and we found a duck. We also found a place that should be just right for us to get married. Exciting stuff.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vampire pumpkin cyclocross

Wooooooo, wooooooo, WOOOOOOOOOOOOO. It's was Halloween. To celebrate, we had "scary movie night" where a few friends came around and we watched Fido and Shaun of the Dead. Neither turned out to be all the scary, but there were lots of zombies... so that was good.

Before we left on a mini party-crawl between CrossFit (yes, that was the party Lina got invited to) and Our Community Bikes (yes, that was the party I got invited to) we carved a pumpkin. Spooky stuff.

Fear the vegetable

Mainly as an excuse to wear my ladies PVC coat again we dressed up as vampire and victim. It seemed my costume worked out pretty well as no-one at OCB recognised me until I spoke. Creepy. After quite a lot of fun with glue and fake blood we got Lina suitably "distressed" looking to be my bite-victim. The fake blood started flowing more freely after we took the photo, and Lina lost her (vampire) teeth. The good side of that was that she could talk and eat. I wasn't so lucky...

Today (still with my black nail varnish) we went out to Aldergrove to race some Cyclocross. There was still no mud, and the course was a bit flat for my mountain-biker tendencies... but I had a good race all the same. Lina had a really good race. So good she won the "Prime" for being in the lead on the 2nd lap... and won overall in her category. The prizes included real cash-money and a voucher for Steed cycles. Good stuff Lina!

There were 2 others in the race, but we had to stage the podium shot without them so we could run off and get stuff done. Honest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sheffield Thursday

On Thursday I got the train up to Sheffield. I like the train. Sheffield gets more interesting new buildings and sculptures every time I visit. Right outside the station there's the "Cutting Edge", which Richard Hawley described as the world's most expensive urinal. He has a point... but I like it anyway.

The Cutting Edge. Urinal, or not?

Then I spotted this beauty hiding behind some more traditional Sheffield architecture. It turned out to be a multi-story car park. I think. It was great for photos though.

Sci-fi parking
I walked up past the legendarily defunct "National Center for Popular Music", or "Teapots" as most people know it.


Finally as I made my way up to the university to meet Duncan, I went past the temporary "Sheffield Wheel".

Thursday night had a traditional Sheffield beer in the Cobden, followed by curry, and then some more beer and a cup of tea. Excellent stuff, and it was great to see all of you who made it out. I miss Sheffield and you lot!

After quite a lot of procrastination, Duncan and I made it out on a Peak District classic mountain bike ride. Thank you Splev for the loan of the Kona... it was ace. Things were all very familiar, apart from the nice addition of the coffee and cake van at Stanedge and the not so nice addition of thousands of tonnes of gravel to some of the trails that used to be fun and rocky. Oh well. The sun shone a bit and we ended up out there for a good 5 hours or so. It was great.

Stanedge Pole

Friday night had us back in the Cobden for more fine beer... then after very little sleep I started a 22 hour journey back to Vancouver. Here I am. The laundry is done, the bags are unpacked, and I'm back to work tomorrow. It was a fantastic trip, and I almost didn't want to come back. The sight of the North Shore mountains did made me feel like I had come home... but I'm already looking forward to my next trip back to Sheffield. Hopefully next summer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Andrew in BC UK

I am in the UK. Mostly I have been back in the place I grew up, the New Forest. Lina got a quick tour or my childhood places, running in the forest, a trip on the ferry to Southampton, a night in the pub, and a trip to the beach.

Re-creating one of my childhood activities at Lepe beach.

A foreigner being refused entry to Southampton at the Bargate.

On Sunday we got to the main event... my mum and Peter's wedding. This meant wearing nice clothes, seeing my whole family in one place, and eating a lot of great food. It was a fantastic day and the sun even shone... in the UK. Amazing.

The reason we were here.

The happy couple.

Lina is back in Vancouver, and I will be heading up to Sheffield for a couple of days... then back across the Atlantic. Phew.