Heading South…

March 13, 2010

Since winter is hanging on in Alberta:

We’ve headed south for a weeks vacation.  Utah weather may not be as warm as other years, but its still warm to us.  The thrill of actually going forward on our bikes, after a winter of spinning in one spot in our living rooms is exciting as always.

By the end of the day we had our sleeves off, and I’ve got a bit of a sunburn on my face.  I’ve even got my bike tan started on my arms.  Tonight it may snow a little bit!  But most importantly, a week of not working is always something to enjoy.


The fun of riding my bike home from work on a beautiful sunny day is that I can take side streets, and find new ways home.  My new favorite way takes me through a pretty section of Bowness by the river, and over the pedestrian Bowmont bridge.  In many cultures, crossing over running water is a way to shake off evil spirits, even in the Lord of the Rings the bad guys can’t follow the good guys into running water.  Standing over  the Bow River, which is still running glacier clear, but getting more full each day, as the spring run off approaches, for me is almost therapeutic.  The sound of the river, the smell of it, all that water rushing by washing all the evil spirits away.

Taken on this bridge, last night, as I leisurely pedalled my way home.

May 28 002

Which is today!  And I did!  I have to mention first off, that yesterday I proclaimed it the first day with no snow in five days, and it promptly snowed on me most of the way home last night.  It literally started 3 seconds after I got on my bike and headed out.  In two blocks I had to pull over and layer up, and was still pretty chilly by the time I got home and hopped in my beloved bathtub. 

The joys of riding a bike to work are many, but there are logistical problems to overcome.  I thought as part of my little promotion of biking to work I would explain a few of the things I do to enable me to choose this mode of transportation!  Much of this is directly specifically to the conditions we have here in Calgary.  This city has wonderful bike paths, and my route takes me from the T-hood in the west of the city, down the Bow River, and into downtown.  It is estimated that around 5000 bike to work here in the summer months.  I am on the road a very short distance, most of my way is right by the river on the bike path, it takes me one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes.  My views look like this:


Which to me is much preferrable to the views from the bus!  I ride my old hard tail mountain bike, as parts of the bike trail are a bit broken up, and every once in awhile I need to hop a curb.  This bike is around 8 years old now, and for a cost of $600 originally, it has taken me very far.  I took off the bigger tires and put skinnier ones on, but they still have a bit of tread for traction.  I’ve got a platform on the back of the bike over my tire, to which I strap my backpack.  Its nice to ride without having to carry it on your back, but to have the bike take the load. 

Proper clothing is really important here, as even in the summer it is chilly.  I have a wind breaker jacket which keeps a lot of chill out, arm warmers, leg warmers and some great tights that are windproof.  On cold days like this morning I wore two layers of tights and leg warmers.  I have a fleece headband to keep my ears warm, and a wonderful face mask with holes for my nose and mouth to make breathing easy.  Also important are booties to keep the feet warm, and a good pair of gloves.  As the temperature can literally go up 10-15 degrees celcius during the day here, I ride home with just a base layer of bike shorts, jersey, arm warmers and my thin gloves. 

I have long hair which I braid, and then comb out once I get to work, I’ve never been much of a hair do person.  At work I have deodorant, make up, and spare underwear in case I forget to pack it!  I ride in with my work clothes in my backpack,  I’ve got a few pairs of shoes that I leave in the office year round.  As its cooler in the morning, and I’m riding to a moderate heart rate (slow enough to elevate the heart rate, but low enough that I can easily talk) I don’t tend to get too sweaty, and it hasn’t been a problem.  Wrinkle free office clothes are a necessity however as I tend to just stuff them in my backpack. 

I always have a pump, spare tube, lights, cell phone, water, all the good stuff.  I’m usually riding during daylight hours, and I feel my route is very safe (Hi Dad!).  I’ll probably stop riding to work this year when it gets too dark in the morning again.  I also have a lovely bell on my commuter bike as per by-law regulations. Ting, ting, ting!

After a winter of sitting on the bus, and waiting for them when they don’t bother to show up, the freedom of just hopping on the bike again is wonderful.  I’d like to ride every day of the week, but that is a lot of wear and tear on the body, which means I need to work slowly up to that, adding a bit each week.  My new diet is helping me give the energy I need to do this however, I already feel much better and its only Day #5. 

Happy Riding everyone!

Catching Up!

September 29, 2008

Don’t you hate hotels that don’t have WIFI, or charge you $12.99 a day for it, or they have ethernet and forgot to bring your cable, cause you are used to WIFI, and then you are too busy smoozing it up at the conference to even have time to check e-mail, much less communicate your exciting adventures to your friends and family?  A quick sum-up is that I finished one sock, and started on the next in the car, read one chapter of my book I’m supposed to have been done already for my exam next week, and didn’t take many photos.  Conferences always tire me out terribly with all the standing around and being nice to everyone.  I did however get to spend an evening working the charity booth of Water for People.  This charity was started by water professionals, and completely supported by them.  They choose specific water projects in needy places and donate money, knowledge, and time.  We raised money for a community in India, and I had a great time encouraging people to get involved, buy tickets, and bid on the silent auction items. 

Fall is progressing here in Alberta, and it is beautiful with cold nights just above freezing, and warm days.  The trees are yellow, and the grasslands are a beautiful golden colour rich with various hues.  The weekend before last saw me up in the mountains for a looong bike ride up two good hills.  I made it up the first one, and was pointed out the next hill by my faithful companions:

Waay over there.  But I made it, and passed a hiking group filled with many people who appeared to be senior citizens.  Did you hear that?  Yup, I passed them!!  Woohoo!  If they were moving at a crawl, I was going at a crawl plus 1, which is all that matters isn’t it?  And the view from the top, once my heart found its way back into my chest, was divine!

This weekend saw me attend a friends Bellydancing Gala in Red Deer, which was a hoot.  She is always the best dancer, and gets to wear lots of sparkly costumes.  Unfortunately there was some drama among the dancers, and I’m thinking they should have a bellydance off to decide who’s right, but somehow I don’t think they will like that suggestion!  I got to hang out with the kids, 5 and 3.  They are adorable, adorable times a million.  Sunday morning we watched the Food Channel (that’s right they love cooking shows) and chatted about “stuff”.  A political attack ad came on which attacked (hence the name eh?) the current Prime Minister.  I then explained “voting”, “Prime Minister” and “You don’t have to worry about it until you are 18” to a five year old.  This kid is really cool however, as he listens closely to what you are saying and seems to digest it.  Try explaining that just because the other guy says the PM is a bad guy, doesn’t necessarily mean he is, because its just the other guys opinion and he’s trying to win the election.  Whew.  We moved onto “You are a vegetarian and we’re omnivores” a much safer subject.

All for now, tons of stuff to show you this week however, I’ve been on a hat knitting kick with almost two done now in addition to the Brudha hat!  Then I believe I’ll become a mitten factory…

Off to RegIna…

September 22, 2008

Rhymes with v*g*n*!  Not Regeena!!  After a very exciting weekend (post to follow sometime later as I forgot my camera at home today oops) I am busy packing up for an all expense paid 3 day vacation in Regina, in the lovely province of Saskatchewan.  Myself and two co-workers are driving out, six hours each way, so I have packed an activity package for myself containing study material, 2 pairs of soon to be socks, and my Blue Hoodie.  That should do me!!  I’m also planning on starting a new book as well, Anna Karenina. 

I am attending a trade show/conference for water and wastewater, which I really enjoy.  I love learning about water technology, and even some of the wastewater stuff.  I love getting out and meeting people in the profession, seeing old friends, making new ones, chatting about the business and getting face time with people who I talk to on the phone.  Since I went to my first conference in San Francisco years ago I’ve always had a good time, especially the big international shows.  At my last company in Utah it was de rigeur to hate trade shows, because, gasp, you had to talk to strangers!  Now I’ve had some great conversations with strangers, the one that stands out most in my mind was chatting for awhile with a member of a commune in Montana.  He was not Mennonite, not Quaker, not Mormon, but another type of religion that I can never remember.  He wore hand made black clothing, but drove a truck, talked on a cell phone, and drank beer.  They were businessmen after all!  However to my old co-workers talking to strangers was bad, and doubly bad in my case I’m afraid.  Now most of the people I talk to at these things are men (unfortunate side effect of the mostly engineer population), and married.  They saw me chatting with these guys as “husband hunting” or “husband stealing” as these guys were married, and viewed it with great suspicion, and disapproval.  Of course I never saw it that way, as I’m simply trying to build relationships with clients, customers, peers, friends, and to date have stolen 0 husbands in 10 years of “trying”.  Maybe I just wasn’t doing it right huh? 

I’m also looking forward to meeting a new co-worker from Saskatchewan for the first time, who is super special as she has already spun some yarn for me.  We are now calling her boss “super smart” as he hired a knitter, as is my boss, and are asking da bosses to ask prospective employees if they knit.  Which my boss did actually, and flabbergasted the interviewee.  Tee Hee!! 

So posting may be erratic this week, but here is a little teaser from the weekend:

Now I’m not going to say I rode up both of the two huge climbs, but I will say I made it to the top.  And that’s what counts isn’t it…  And I almost landed an axle on Sunday!  Progress….

Welcome to the T-Hood!

August 28, 2008

Where sometimes people mispronounce words, use slang on purpose, and every once in awhile, do not use proper grammar!  Oh yeah baby, my T-hood is a rough place, where sometimes your BMW doesn’t start when you want it to, and every woman is pregnant and raging with hormones.  You have to watch your back out here!!  Its a dangerous place to be, especially when they get your drink order wrong at Starbucks, and you lay down some woop ass on that barista!!  Take that!! 

After dinner last night Bella and I suited up, and went out cruising in the T-hood.  As I was planning to hit some bike paths I strapped a bell onto her, one that I received as a gift years and years ago, and always kept for the day I would have a rockin cruiser to put it on.  With an extra pair of gloves in case my hands got cold, and my camera in the basket off we went!  First we cruised up north to visit Bob the Deer, who was in a good mood:

I have a feeling Bob’s modeling career is only beginning, and that certain knitted items will look lovely draped in his antlers. 

Then we swung by to see what was shaking with Horatio/Benecio the Buffalo.  I’m still going back and forth on his name a bit.  He was a bit down as a bird had crapped on him recently:

Poor Benecio/Horatio.  I’m not sure about his modeling future, he is not so convenient for draping knitted items over.  He is very nice however.

Next I tried out my movie-making skills.  Which aren’t very good, but I promise to work on them.  It is a bit difficult to ride a bike and take a movie at the same time.  I was wearing my helmet however, which is good with my track record of crashing.  The bell is a bit loud, but was fun to ring, as you can hear in the movie, I tend to giggle every time I ring it.  I first show you downtown Calgary in the distance, which you can barely make out, then the ski jump at Calgary Olympic Park, and then we go around the corner.  Just at the very end the mountains come into focus.  I wish I had kept rolling for a little while longer so that you can get a good view of them!  They have snow now.  For a cruiser bike, I can get going pretty fast!

Bella and I survived our cruise around the T-hood with no problems from local hoodlums, and next we plan on visiting the “estate” area to see if we get kicked out.

Today’s post is brought to you by Angst.  As in, there are a incredible number of things I want to do, and think I should be doing, but can’t and for some things I don’t feel like doing.  The upcoming winter is leaving me with a lot of “I must finish all my woolly projects now” angst.  Already its chilly in the mornings, and I saw the sunrise on the bus on the way to work!!  Oh sweet mornings of summer when I would wake up to a light sky!!  How I miss you!  But obviously I cannot simultaneously make 3 hats, 3 sweaters, 3 scarves, and 3 pairs of mittens, along with 3 pairs of knee high socks that I would like to, I must concentrate on the few projects I can work on without my head exploding.  On Sunday morning I began attempt #3 to make the Brudha toque, using Plan D; a brioche and mock cable from Vogue Stitchionary #2.  So far I do like it, after vowing to continue now matter how it turned out just to get the dern thing done!  I think it looks like a brioche stitch and a bobble however, due to the translation of flat knitting to round:

I could have used it this morning in the office as I was freezing cold.  As in ice cube cold.  As in sneaking into my bosses office and turning up the thermometer when he wasn’t looking cold.  However I still have this much left, so it would not have been much use:

Please ignore what appears to be a grey/white hair on my head.  It is definitely an extremely blonde hair. 

I have however already taken an extremely mature decision over a caramel macciato coffee.  Instead of doing all the things I’m supposed to be doing tonight, I am instead going to go home and ride Bella The Happiness Maker instead.  I’ve discovered at least two animal statues in my ‘hood, so we’re going to visit Bob the Deer and Horatio the Buffalo instead.  Who knows what other new friends we may make?

Ciao ya’ll!!

Yes, its true, I’m officially a bad a*s!  This morning, as I was innocently biking into work, trying to preserve the peace, quiet and tranquil beauty of the bike path by not ringing my bell as I passed two pleasure strollers, I got pulled over by the cops!  At first I thought I might have been going too fast, which would have been cool!  But no, the clever cops had set up an elaborate sting operation: two “pleasure strollers” radioed ahead to the uniformed cops which bikers went by without ringing their bells.  It turns out there is actually a law!  Who knew?  I had thought it a courtesy not to ruin the peace and quiet of the morning by scaring the crap out of people by “dinging” my way along, but it turns out now I have to!  I tried to explain my theory to the lovely lady cop, but she wrote me out a warning anyways.  Next week they will give out the $100 tickets for real.  The nice thing about Canadians is we were all pretty happy, the cops and those bikers getting pulled over, talking and laughing.  No one was getting all upset, or pissy.  I guess at 8 am there isn’t much high crime going on in Cowtown. 

But the best part?  I was late for work due to an unfortunate ability to get out of bed (gravity force field on high) on time this morning.  But then I had the best excuse ever, a warning from the police!  That had to have taken at least a half hour to work through right?  I totally would have been into work on time except for that.  Plus I get to pretend I’m a bad a*s!

50 Bums on Bikes!

August 5, 2008

And a good weekend of biking it was.  It was sunny and warm, but not too warm, perfect weather for my bike riding, and all the races in town.  On Monday I went down to see the local “Crit” race or criterium.  The basic premise is that a bunch of crazy people speed around a short track through the city streets for approximately an hour, and the first one over the finish line wins.  The loop took the Elite men exactly 1 minute and 20 seconds, it took Bella and I considerably longer.  Some bums:

And from the front as well:

From where I was sitting the racers had to slow down to go around a sharp turn, which meant the speeds were lower than in other parts of the course.  Thankfully there was only 1 crash that I saw, and the two riders involved got up with only scrapes and bruises.  A short video to show the drama, and excitement, and speed of the race.  Yeah, you may have had to be there, but it was still fun!

No Spills, just fun!

July 28, 2008

As Mum as already been duly informed, I had a great weekend that did not involve any spills off my bike, and no blood.  The boys on our team, being boys, did have a spill or two, but nothing too critical.  And I did get to meet up with Heather from Salt Lake, who got to take in the start of the race.  So where to start?  Picture hundreds of riders, over 150 soloists (who rode mostly non-stop for 24 hours), and 1400 people on teams.  Hundreds of bikes on the course, hundreds of people camping, cooking, partying, having a grand old time.  Picture kids running around on their tiny bikes, helmets bigger than the rest of their bodies competing in the 24 minutes of Adrenaline.  At night, lines of lights going up, and up, and up the trails, snaking through the woods, racing by on the course.  Seeing the soloists in the morning on the trail, in a coma-daze, not responding, not even there really.  Falling over, getting back on, and pedaling, pedaling, pedaling.  Covered in mud, blood, sweat, and more mud. 

I wasn’t worried about Phil the bear (I named him to make him less scary) as he was seen quite close in to our campsite.  So I slept with him only 100 ft away, but I knew on the trail he was far away.  Make sense?  Plus it was difficult enough at night to keep my bike upright, going forwards, without worrying about anything else.  You couldn’t do anything but concentrate on what was coming up.  At night your world is reduced to a small spot of light, only 4 ft ahead of you, and you have to react instantly to dips, rocks, roots, and whatever is there.  You can’t lose focus for an instant.  It started to rain heavily around 6 pm, stopped, and started again a few times.  I did my first lap just after 9 pm, and the course was already a mud pit.  Most of the trail I had to walk over, it was unridable for me.  My calves cramped from pushing the bike uphill.  Here is the before shot:

Unfortunately my light went out just before Checkpoint #2, so I rode quickly to where my teammates were waiting on the course and got new ones put on.  You can ride so much faster when you can see!  Here is the after shot:

I kinda felt a bit like this as well, but no nearly as muddy as other people.  Like Mike here:

Mike should be a mud poster boy!  Here are some more photos on Flickr if you are interested!  I got to do a second lap in the morning, which was much better as the trail had dried out a bit.  Instead of giant bog mud pits, there was a hard packed trail through it instead.  It was still wet roots that are so slick to navigate, but wonderful daylight to see them in!  I’m signing up for next year!