Monday, July 30, 2012



Idahoes, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shootin' Hoops

My life is slowly gathering fragments of normality since I've been back in Vancouver. Mountain bike rides, dinner with friends, decent night's sleep, cheese, the resurrection my car, and an emotional reunion with my toolbox. The toolbox and pile of on-sale bike parts I ordered while we were away in China came together yesterday into what I hope to be my finest wheel build to date. 

Silver Hope Pro 2 Evo, DT Swiss Comp DB spokes, and a lettuce.
Some nice cale, and a Hope Pro 2 Evo.
Carbon-based lifeforms in the garden.
Brass monkeys... no wait, I mean nipples. 

The fun part of these wheels is clearly the Chinese carbon rims that I brought back from, surprise, China. The factory make the rims to order so I chose a unidirectional carbon top layer and matte finish. They don't have that "HELLO, DID YOU NOTICE I HAVE CARBON FIBER ON MY BICYCLE? No? Well, check it out, ok? LOOK, I'M WAVING IT RIGHT IN YOUR FACE! Oh please look at me. You're not looking at me are you? You're looking at that other titanium bike now. Oh, I feel so ugly and alone." factor of glossy weave finish, which I am pleased about. They're almost exactly the dimensions of Stan's Flow rims, so nice and wide. The rear weighs 886g and the front 743g with a wrap of electrical tape around the rim. I make that 1629g for the pair. The price worked out almost exactly the same as Hope Hoops wheels with the same hubs, spokes, and Flow rims which weigh 1886g. I'm pretty happy that such a conventional looking pair of wheels with non-exotic components can work out reasonably priced and a nice weight. We'll see how they hold up to riding.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


We did a five day canoe (and SUP) circuit in Algonquin Park. The local outfitters thought Lina was the first person to do this route on a SUP... but I doubt she will be the last. I paddled a solo canoe for the first time which is something I would definitely like to do again. The canoe was much more fun to paddle and more comfortable than a sea kayak for this kind of trip.

Opeongo Point to the squaw Bay (West shore of Opeongo Lake).
5.14km, 1h26m moving time.

Squaw Bay to Proulx Lake
15.0km, 3h24m moving time.
175m and 965m portages. We took two trips for each, carrying the board on top of the canoe.
Camped on a rocky headland on the west shore of the lake.

The start of Crow River
Proulx  Lake to Big Crow Lake
14.4km, 3h30m moving time.
Crow River into Little Crow Lake was weedy, but passable. Moderate headwind toards the end of the day.
Lots of wind-damaged trees in the first camp we looked at on Big Crow Lake so we moved onto a beach site at the south-east end near the mouth of the Crow River.

Crow River joining Little Crow Lake

Big Crow Lake to Lake Lavielle
23.7km, 6h15m moving time.
Shallow and weedy river was slow going. Seven short portages plus some sections of wading and lifting the boat over rocks and beaver dams.
Frustrating and slow progress, but a beautiful campsite on a rocky outcrop at the entrance of Lake Lavielle.

Lake Lavielle
Happy camper
Lake Lavielle to Opeongo East Arm
23.7km, 5h50m moving time.
Long Portage (Dickson-Bonfield - 5.3km) was tough going, but worked well with Lina carrying all the gear in two packs while I carried the canoe on the yoke and paddleboard deflated in the pack.
We camped at the end of the last portage on the end of Opeongo East Arm.

5.3km of this was slow going
Opeongo East Arm to Opeongo Point
15.7km, 2h 52m moving time.
6.30am start to beat the winds with mist rising off the water. A fast paddle back to our starting point on Opeongo Point.

Monday, July 16, 2012

That's All Folks

Though we only returned from China a few weeks ago, it already seems as though we were never there at all. We were showing Lina's family a few (well, a lot to be honest) photos of Yongchuan living and it was already hard to really put myself back into the life we lived for ten months. I took a lot away with me from our experiences in China and feel I gained a much greater understanding of the Chinese born or Chinese raised people I meet in my life in Canada. The way of life in Yongchuan revolved around work and family, with little or no time for the kind of recreation we recognise in the West. One thing I had never really understood was the proliferation of huge Chinese resteraunts in Vancouver. Now I know that eating is a huge part of socializing in China and most meals are eaten with a group. Whether you're eating on the street or in a restaraunt, it was always a group activity. 

Another difference I have found striking between bustling, noisy China and Canada which is essentially empty in comparison is the amount of space we take up in living. Practically all the accomodation we saw in Chinese cities was appartments. In the evening families come out to public squares and parks to relax, play, and meet. The idea of having your own private garden or enough indoor space that you just stay at home in the evening seems ver strange in comparison. Life is Canada is certainly much calmer, though part of me does miss being constantly surrounded by "life".

Our re-entry to Canadian life was to join a faithful gang of mountain biking friends for a long Canada Day weekend in Squamish and Whistler. The weather turned up a special BC treat of rain and chilly temperatures, though after the heat and humidity of China I really didn't mind. We rode some great trails, got covered in mud, and I particularly enjoyed the mountain-fresh water running all over the place.

Muddy ladies
With barely enough time to adjust, we headed off for Ontario and an Augaitis family visit. With more than usual time available, we planned an accessory to our trip in the form of a canoe and SUP camping circuit in Algonquin Park. It's been a long ambition of mine to see some of the outdoors in Ontario, despite the assertions from BC-fans that Ontario doesn't have anything worth doing outside. Unsurprisingly, this isn't true.

Derek, in the crow's nest
Lina, going the distance on Lake Ontario
Kiefer and Derek enjoying the post race facilities
A few days in Toronto, babysitting, going out on the town, a SUP race for Lina in Port Credit, paddling in Algonquin Park, and finally a few days at the Augaitis former-farmhouse on Crow Lake rounded out our trip. 

My next stop will be Vancouer where I have a pile of tasks to complete to hopefully allow us to leave for a few weeks travelling around the US of A with our mountain bikes. After a year struggling with the trials of teaching, I felt it was fair that I take a teacher-length summer holiday. Once we settle back into Vancouver life the realities of getting a new job, paying the mortgage, and other such mundane things will bite. I don't mind putting that off for a another month...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The land of milk and honey (and cheese)

We've been back in Canada for almost a week and enjoying the abundance of coffee, cheese, burritos, and things we understand. I do miss the simplicity of drifting through life understanding very little and hence not worrying about it, but on balance I am glad to be back in the country I have chosen as my home.

To mark the end of the Chinese era in our lives, I found a few photos of memorable moments from the past year.

Lovin' some "enhanced coffee" after the Chonqing marathon

Whipped cream in my face at the end of year pie-throwing contest

My moment of stardom in university students' short film in Yongchuan

Good bye to Chongqing with Kevin and Katherine from my Grade 9 class