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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snowdust - Thanksgiving mountain biking in the wild west

This weekend was Canadian thanksgiving, and just like last year we went to Chris' place near Winthrop. Winthrop is like something out of a cowboy movie... I keep expecting to see tumbleweed blow down the main street. We got 3 rides in 3 days: a "warm-up" 4 hour ride up and down to Cutthroat Pass, an 8 hour monster ride on the Angel's Staircase loop, and a "warm down" spin around the singletrack of Sun Mountain. Fantastic.

So... after the usual epic drive to Winthrop, having a beer, and falling asleep in the car... we met up with Chris and Kathleen and went back to sleep again. Bright (definitely) and early (not so much) on Saturday we headed west again to ride up to Cutthroat Pass. It was -6 degrees. Chilly. We climbed up through the forest on dusty singletrack, toes and fingers freezing. It was strange being in intense sunshine, with bone-dry dusty trails, but so cold! We took in the view... and made a quick exit back down the fantastic trail to the car.

Lina switching back on the climb to Cutthroat Pass

Lina and Megan climbing to the Pass

Saturday night we had a pre-Thanksgiving feast of salmon, chicken, veggies, and Angie's dubious "Tofurkey". I thought is was ok... though the other's weren't so sure. It did squeak when you bit it. Strange.

Sunday was to be our big ride. Two years ago (before we knew Chris) Tracy, Paul, Jacek, Suzanne, and I rode up Foggydew Creek to the Angel's Staircase. It was one of the worst climbs I have ever done on a bike, followed by one of the best descents. I was keen to get back up there. With some tips from the bike shop we headed out on a true circular route, going up the way we came down last time and then down the other side. No surprise that climbing to 8000 feet got a bit chilly... though the sun kept us warm when we were in the open. I've never ridden through alternating patches of dust and snow on the same trail. Everything was so dry, either scorched from the summer sun, or frozen. All our water kept freezing too, so it was pretty chilly.

Lina in the snowdust


The last climb had us hiking up a scree slope to avoid a stand-off between a huge group of horses and some motocross bikes, we were glad to be able to bypass that whole situation. Near the final summit I managed to eject myself down a very steep rocky slope, slide to a halt and watch my bike sail overhead. It went a long way... but came to rest in some trees. After checking all my limbs still moved I hiked down, pulled my bike out of the tree, and scrambled back up. A close call, but everything survived! Then came the descent. Wow. A little different to last time, but with a bit of everything. Steep, steep, technical rocky stuff... rooty, dusty stuff, and fast, fast, fast twisty forest singletrack.

Jacek descending the Angel's Staircase

Megan on a switchback

Paul and Angie made a swift exit to get back to Vancouver and catch a 'plane while the rest of us dug into Thanksgiving dinner. YUM.

There was a whole lot of photography going on, so there will be more photos, and even video.
Thank you for a great weekend Chris! My photos are here. Paul's are here. Jacek's photos are here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Like a monkey, ready to be shot into space.

Last night we watched Fight Club. Only only have about 4 movies on DVD... and I think this is the only one I actually bought. This might be because it contains my favourite movie ending.

But, I digress.

On Saturday Lina and I raced in the New Brighton Park cyclocross. Cyclocross is ridiculous. Riding around on a road bike, off road, not knowing how long the race is until halfway through, on a course made intentionally unrideable, in the winter, with a load of ultra-competitive road bike types. I love it. I had a great race, finding a couple of guys to have a little race of my own with (as usual). I beat the guy in black, but the guy with the orange bar tape got well away from me on the last lap. When the results come out we'll see how I did in the more traditional sense. Lina finally got to race her new CX bike and got 2nd place in her category. Not bad for a first attempt, I suppose (!) Paul was out with his camera... photos are here.

Yesterday we had too many options of things to do, but after a bit of a late night out at Dave and Geraldine's place (which was great) we opted for a hike up Colosseum and Burwell on the the North Shore with Paul and Angie. Paul wrote all about that here. My photos from Colosseum are here.

Burwell summit and some snowy Coast Mountains. Winter is coming!

That's Vancouver in the background