building new castles every day

Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

Cycling again with Dad

In Doings on September 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Strait of Juan da Fuca / Salish Sea, September 2011

This time last year, I approached my dad about doing a multi-day bike trip together. The extent of my cycling experience until then was limited to daytime pedals across the city, or touring farms in the Fraser Valley. I wanted to test myself and see if I could handle (and enjoy) a few hundred kilometers with just a sleeping bag, a few clothes and unlimited hills.

I had previously considered joining a group cycling trip, like Ride to Break the Cycle, but I wasn’t keen to spend that much time (and money) on a journey with strangers.

I was also motivated to meet my dad as an adult. That is, I wanted to hear more of the underlying thoughts and values from the guy who raised me to calculate my own tax return and turn off the lights when I wasn’t in a room.

I also knew we had similarities: We both like to eat hot breakfasts, and we both like using bicycles to get places (me to work across town, and he to the Atlantic Ocean across Canada).

Dad became an obvious choice as a trip companion.

And after the first trip last September, we quickly agreed that cycling was a great conduit for each of us to get away from our daily lives while reflecting on the world around us. The silence we afford each other, and the conversation inspired by our journey, I believe keeps us grounded in what we value both individually and as family.

So I’m incredibly happy to be setting sail today on a ferry to meet my dad for another cycling escapade. We’ll be taking on the hills of Salt Spring Island followed by the Malahat from Victoria out to the beautiful logging community of Lake Cowichan. Dad has already tuned up my bike and fashioned a new rack to replace what was stolen this summer. We’ll stock up on groceries and batteries for the camera, I’ve packed my fleece for the chilly mornings, and there are only clear, sunny skies in the forecast.

Someone, at some point, likely said: Life is what you make of it. And I say, that’s pretty darn great.

Got a bike? Go on a tour. Make community.

In Doings on June 12, 2012 at 7:41 AM

“I think you should bring the mountain bike. We’ll be doing some off roading.”

This is my dad’ suggestion for our bike trip next week. He’s my cycling guru. Anything bike related, he’s my first point of reference. And since he’s planning the route for this trip, I’m going to believe him.

Sunday afternoon I prepared my mountain bike for the trip. With the help of my assistant (i.e. patient boyfriend), and with much grease on hands and scowling of face, I switched from nobby trail tires to city slicks. The bike is now a happy hybrid. My favourite type.

For the last few years I’ve been riding an old racing road bike. A Norco Fiori. She’s been modified to suit my preferences: higher head post, clunky carrying rack and, new since this photo, yellow handlebar tape. I love how quietly I sail through the streets on the Fiori. She was my machine for last September’s trip and we only suffered a single (though severe) flat. I thought it would feel weird leaving her behind for the next trip.

But riding a mountain bike — a downhill mountain bike, at that — is such a wicked change. I’m no longer sailing, I’m cruising and pumping. The whole machine is longer and my weight sits predominantly in the middle. So, yes, it does require more effort to pedal. But the stability! The control! The triple-ring in front!

I’m enjoying how wide my hands sit on the bars. Like I’m paragliding down 8th Ave into the city, with the ocean on my left. My boyfriend and I affectionately refer to her as Carmen. (As in Electra. She’s a green and yellow Brodie Electro with some shock-absorbing assets in the front. Hot hot.)

Yesterday was Carmen’s inaugural commute to work. And I can tell already that I’m going to enjoy cruising around town next Sunday for Vancouver’s fifth annual Car-Free Day.

The plan is to rally the troops for noon and tour around the block parties in Kits, over a bridge to the West End, on to Commercial Drive and finally to end up on Main Street. Each stop will likely involve food, beer, and bright colours. Want in?

Commercial Drive Festival:

  • Date: Sunday, June 17th, 2012 (Father’s Day)
  • Location: Enjoy the party from Venables St. to North Grandview Hwy/Central Valley Greenway Bike Lane
  • Time: Festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. and the streets are closed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

I’m most excited from OccuPIE Camp (not the movement, just free pie), Velopalooza, and West Meets West.

Main Street Festival:

  • Date: Sunday, June 17th, 2012 (Father’s Day)
  • Location: From 12th to 29th on Main St.
  • Time: Festival runs from noon to 8 p.m. and the street is closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Looking forward to: trying my hand at street hockey on 28th Ave?

West End Festival:

  • Date: Sunday, June 17th, 2012 (Father’s Day)
  • Location: We’ll be celebrating on Denman Street between Davie and Robson
  • Time: Festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. and the street is closed from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Looking forward to: Tango’s Gourmet Meats BBQ!

Kitsilano Block Parties:

  • Date: Saturday, June 16th and Sunday, June 17th, 2012 (Father’s Day)
  • Location: View our map to see the  2012 Kitsilano Block Party locations
  • Time: Block parties take place between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. depending on the block’s plans and interests

Looking forward to: Possibly hosting my own block party? Nah. Do you know how much work goes into organizing one of those? But kudos to those who are planning block parties. It takes some concerted (delegated) effort!

and the life-learning continues

In Doings, Thinkings on January 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Friends, forgive me. It has been two whole months since my last post. But I bet you were up to some good fun in that time too so hopefully I wasn’t the only one spending less time at the computer.

In the last two months much has happened. I lost two of my jobs based in windowless offices and gained a wicked fun job on a mountain. Turns out I’m a better person, mentally and physically, when I get to hike around in the fresh air with a team of people on a daily basis. So what felt originally like a blow to my confidence was actually a blessing. I’ve been given the chance for a career change; a change I’m not sure I would have taken on my own accord. (Because a job is a job, right? Mmm, not.)

at work in my festive kitchen

Christmas and New Years celebrations provided a dusting of happiness and love over the last two months. My family gathered in early December and I spent the actual holidays with my dear friends and lovely guy here in Vancouver. I hope, wherever y’all were, you were surrounded by love and delicious food too.

linocut wrapping paper

family feeding

faux fire on Christmas day

For 2011, self-education is my personal phrase. Having never been an outdoor education guide, my learning curve has been as tall as the mountain I work upon. From determining Amabilis Firs from Mountain Hemlocks, to leading power hikes, to informing Brownies about the adaptations of snow fleas, snowshoe hares and red-breasted sapsuckers, my mind is exploding [gleefully] with new content! Not only are my co-workers supportive and eager to help me learn, they are just my kinda people: quirky and keen. And we’re all foodies! Work is good on a mountain.


Oh, and I built my very first website!

obligatory cat photo included

I’ve registered myself in an Introduction to Web Development and Design course at the downtown campus of a local technical institution, BCIT. I just finished my second week and all I want to do is code. Like a maze, you can get lost in the opening and closing of tags, but boy is it fun problem solving how to display content by XHTML rules. (You have my permission to call me a nerd.)


New years also coincided with some personal decisions.

  1. I’m moving.
  2. I’m going to do a big bike trip this year. At least one will be with my dad.

The first decision came down to timing. And the opportunity for cheaper rent (an offer one cannot refuse when one has recently lost work). My OBSV pal, Natalie, has been living with a few friends in a Kitsilano townhouse for a few years and six months ago there was talk of me filling the room of one departing friend. That departure didn’t actually materialize back then but on January 2, 2011 I got an inquiry text from Miss Natalie asking about my living situation.

Was I happy where I was?

Meh, I’m ok here in my converted attic. I love the view of the mountains and the large, well-lit kitchen. But it’s been getting lonely living alone. And the heat is next to nothing up here. Oh, and it’s 700 bones a month.

Being in Mount Pleasant has been, well, pleasant, and I admit, the rent is a sweet deal for this highly-demanded hipsterville. Yet I’ve been here a year and I like to keep things different. The townhouse friend is moving out so I’m moving in. To save $200 a month, to live with friends, to have ensuite laundry, and to enjoy co-loving a chihuahua (you’ll hear more about Riley in the future).

The second major decision represents a change in my personal outlook. I announced to myself (and to those who care to listen to me) that I was not going to focus on a career. That is, a path of employment that seems to follow one industry, or one area of expertise. It’s just not for me. I love too many things and enjoy learning too much to stick with just one profession.

With that quiet announcement came a wave of relief. No more stress. Just the need to make money by doing anything I enjoy. And not even needing to make a lot of money. Just enough to live. To enjoy living. In relative comfort.

Sure, this choice comes with compromises, but everything does. It has not only reduced my stress but has freed up my time. And time savings, I find, are just as valuable as money savings.

So, with time opening up, I want to materialize the ideas I’ve been stacking up in my mind for ages. One of those is doing a big bike trip.

Originally I was gung-ho to join Global Agents for Change on their group ride down the Pacific coast of North America, from Vancouver to Tijuana, Mexico. A couple friends have done it over the past few years and I’ve been thinking about doing it myself ever since I once volunteered with the non-profit back in university.

But after doing what I do best — thinking, a lot — I realized a big group ride wasn’t for me. (Also, and no offense to GAFC, I don’t agree with fund raising $2000 for a cause I am not personally connected with by virtue of geographic displacement. How can I pitch to you, my friends and family, to throw $20 each at a Kenyan youth poverty alleviation organization that I know little about but that my bike ride organizers have decided is the place our funds will go? Nah. I’m into local community building. I can speak passionately and act fervently for my immediate community and country, but not so easily for another. I will contribute to the global citizenship in other ways.)

Plus, there’s this guy in my life who I’ve known since birth and although we have a pretty good relationship, I’d like to know him more. And cycling is kind of his thing.

You see, my dad has already cycled across this vast country — solo. He’s done ‘credit card’ tours with his buddies where all they pack is their plastic monies, some snacks and water, and take off from from their families to the Rockies for a couple days. He’s completed an Ironman. He’s run The Death Race across three mountain summits. He broke his foot recently taking on a new sport, Cyclo-cross. He taught my sisters and I how to cross-country ski. He helped my ex-boyfriend try adapted skiing, no questions asked. He’s won multiple races, all various versions of 24-hours of adrenaline, mountain biking, intense nonsense. My dad loves to be outside, being active, and eating.

Sound familiar?

A couple years ago I logged away the dream of doing a bike trip with my pa. In that time he’s supplied me with two bicycles and been quick to help answer any of my maintenance questions or curiosities. I started commuting by bike to work last summer and have always enjoyed going home to visit my parents for a bike ride and some communal cooking.

This year, with time allowance for enjoying life, I asked my dad if he’d do a trip with me this spring or summer. His reaction was so positive, he’s already drafted some routes around BC for us!

So that’s me, relatively, to date. How about you? Did you make resolutions or decisions intentionally or just by chance this new years? How is your January starting off? I hope you’re keeping life interesting too. And I hope you’re ridding yourself of stress. That stuff’s no fun.