Monday, May 31, 2010

Not In My Back Yard

The past couple of weeks have been eventful. There was some great weather, and some great rides on the North Shore. I managed to put a stick though my hand on one ride, then the rains came and I managed a spectacular crash on one of our evening rides. As a t-shirt I saw at the weekend said... "Confidence: the feeling you get before you fully understand the situation". I limped home after the ride, and that weekend we headed up to Pemberton to ride more. My damaged wrist and ribs were not at all happy and I crawled my way back down the climb were due to race in the NIMBY50 the next week. Perhaps in sympathy for my creaking body, the fork on my favorite bike wheezed its way back to the camp. How long has my fork been that bad?  I don't know... but my wrist was not enjoying it.

After one frantic week of work, my Canadian citizenship test, and trying to figure out a working bike to ride in the NIMBY, Friday was upon us. I had got the new bearings for my Iron Horse and fixed that up... but a 43 pound bike didn't seem the right tool for a long cross-country race. The orange bike was still sick (though I bit the bullet and ordered a new fork) so... I dusted off "old faithful", a 10-year-old Santa Cruz I bought for $800 to do BC Bike Race and Trans-Rockies on 2 years ago. That would be fine. As we got ourselves ready in the pouring rain at the NIMBY start line, things were not fine. The rear shock released any air I put in over a few bounces, leaving the bike sad a droopy. It was too late to rush around and borrow a bike... so I came up with a new plan. I found the volunteers and asked if I could sweep the course by running it (yes, on foot). They thought I was crazy, but agreed that I could be useful.

I waved Ned, Tom, Megan, and Lina off on the start line, then short-cut the first few km of the course to start my run at Happy Trail with Nathalie the 2-wheeled sweeper.

A damp start in Pemberton

They're off...

The race course was fantastic... even on foot. The volunteer crew made me very welcome and I loved being part of the race, despite my lack of wheels. I managed to make myself useful by fixing a chain (thanks for the beer whoever you were!), and encouraging the tail-enders.  One racer made the choice to pull out after the first (massive) climb and descent, so I ran to to catch the next rider. With some encouragement we made it to the finish in time for the barbecue and beer. I've no idea how far I ran, but I was on my feet for about 5 hours in total. I was pretty happy with that.

The party after the race was perfect. Hay-bales, beer, a fire, music. Awesome. Tom, Ned, visitor Holly, Meagan, Lina, and I managed to do a good job of drinking beer and ended up closing down the party and sleeping in the forest. It would have been the perfect bike race, if I had raced a bike. I will be back next year!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Things to make and do

Discussing our weekend activities in the pub last night we came to the conclusion that this must be the first weekend of spring in Vancouver. The sun is shining, people are cleaning, gardening, and enjoying the slower pace of life that seems to come with longer daylight hours and warm weather. I've done my bit for the spring nesting efforts too.

But first... after work on Friday night I made my first step along the road to running in the Knee Knacker in July. I started off as usual running along the trail by the water to Burnaby. It was a perfect evening, sunny and not too warm, so I thought I'd do a loop on a few trails in Confederation Park... up to Hastings St, then go back home. I got to Hastings and I could see Burnaby Mountain. There's a really nice trail that goes up there,  so up I went. The result of all this was me arriving home 2½ hours later, quite hungry... but feeling optimistic about running. If I can get out for runs like that every couple of weeks I should survive. Maybe.

My legs weren't exactly fresh on Saturday morning, but good enough to propel me around to buy a new bathroom door. We decided our closet-sized bathroom wasn't improved by being painted beige, so about 6 months ago we bought two shades of lime-green paint. Last week the paint finally made it out of the hole behind the washing machine and onto the walls. We cleaned up all the old shelves and other bathroom paraphernalia and bought a new shower curtain... and are very pleased with the results.  The last problem was the door. A full-size door made actually getting in and out of the tiny place quite challenging, and it was beige... so out it went. I bought a folding door and after a few hours of experimentation I got it to open and close. Finishing this project means we can move to phase two of the war on beige, which will also be beige's last stand. Will a rusty-red colour conquer the kitchen wall? I think so.

Home improvement

Thanks to Marc for this!

Full of confidence from my door-attachment success, I tackled another task that I bought the parts for about 6 months ago. A kayak cart. These things are great, you strap it under your boat and they allow you to wheel it around like a wheelbarrow. You can wheel it onto the ferry, wheel it to your car, wheel it around Canadian Superstore and load up for your expedition if you want... except you'll probably get thrown out. I had found a really fantastic pair of wheels, complete with rainbow tires and just needed to to the chopping, drilling, and gluing of the ABS drain pipe to get the thing rolling. I went for the simplest design I could come up with and am pretty pleased with it. Hopefully it works.

Roll, roll, roll your boat

It doesn't end there. Oh no. I went up to Commercial Drive to check out the Stone Soup Festival which it turns out is named after a myth that I'm sure I was taught in school. It was a good place for a hungry person to be. I came back home, full of food, and ready to tackle my own bit of urban farming. Our balcony isn't spacious enough for raising chickens, keeping bees, sowing oats... or any of that, but after some experiments last year I know I can grow tomatoes and a few herbs.

I love the smell of tomato plants in the morning

After all that excitement I was ready to relax by riding my bike down Fromme as fast as possible with Krista. We'd not been biking together for ages and it was great to catch up... and had a great run down damp, grippy trails in the cool forest. Today I'm off to Squamish with Paul and Angie for an XC ride in the sunshine. Spring is here. It's great.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Row, row, row, your boat

Over the last week I had the pleasure of being out on the water quite a bit, in some wildly different conditions. Last week's Tuesday Night Race was really quite epic (or as epic as one hour can be in a kayak). Lina and I were paddling Ben's double surf-ski for the first time this year, a boat which always presents the possibility of falling out. I cheerfully ignored the weather forecast and we loaded up the twitchy boat and headed out. Waiting for the starting horn we were entertained by intermittent torrential rain, rainbows, and dramatic shafts of sunlight streaming through the clouds... pretty, but not so warm. Finally we were off and straight into a raging hailstorm. To our left was a spectacular rainbow and marble-sized hailstones were ricocheting off my paddle, stinging my ears, and exploding on the water all around us. The weather eased up as we rounded the island the was the turning point in our course and hung on (keeping the boat the right way up) all the way to the finish line. Success! Photos of that are here, and there was a video that I'm looking forward to seeing when it appears here.

This weekend we went over to Saltspring Island for the sea kayak "guide exchange" put on by SKGABC. I'm not a sea kayak guide, but Lina is... and I winged it. There was an eclectic group of fun people, who were pleased to see us turn up on our bikes and provide us with some paddling gear to get on the water to Samsun Narrows on Saturday. It was the maiden voyage (appropriate as it involved a ferry) for our new touring bikes. Mine is a mysterious Devinci of Our Community Bikes origins... and Lina has a spangly new Brodie Elan. Both bikes need a few things worked out... before we need them for a ambitious/foolish/fun trip we have planned later this year. To say we "have it planned" is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's coming along. More on that later.

Lina on the way out

The guide exchange was fantastically well organised, with food, a place to gather in the evening, demo boats, skills clinics, and classes. I am filling in the gaps between what I know from sailing, whitewater kayaking, and paddling surfskis... and will hopefully become a competent sea kayaker. I got a lot out of the weekend and it was great to catch up with our friend Jas who is off on a big solo adventure up the West Coast in his kayak this summer. Inspiring stuff!

Our lunch spot

A colourful bunch