Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Despite the fact that I have a PoliSci degree, I can't stand elections. I keep getting the urge to roar "MENDACITY!" like Burle Ives in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but know I just can't deliver the line like he did.

What makes elections bearable is the satire that they generate. It's been frustrating waiting for the Rick Mercer Report's season to begin, let me tell you!

Youtube is also a saviour. If you're bilingual, Michel Rivard's "Culture in Danger" is likely hysterical, I've only got a smidgen of high school french remaining and this had me howling.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mount Baker Ride

On Saturday morning I was one of four intrepid cyclists that set out from the Tim Hortons (where better to start an odessy into the US) to do the fabled Mt. Baker ride.
Why is the ride fabled? First off, it's a BIG mountain, resembling Mount Fuji in it's symetry and bigness, that on a clear day can be seen from most parts of the Lower Mainland. Secondly, it's a long ride, not quite epic (I've been reading too many of this guy's posts to think of anything under 300km as epic) but the entire expedition is a good day's work. Thirdly, because of the unbelievable SNAFU-fest that three of our club members experienced last year when, after getting separated, they took most of the day to find each other. The story is best heard over a glass of wine from someone who was there but, to give you the highlights, there was a miscommunicated meet up plan, a lack of cell phones and enough border crossings that the border agents on both sides were on a first name basis with at least one of the riders.

We left Timmie's at 8am with cell phones fully charged, meet up points well set out and lots of energy for the ride.

The border crossing was uneventful and the ride from Sumas to Glacier, about 40km, was mostly flat or false flat through scenic farms that gradually gave way to forest. I was glad that Joanne insisted I bring a jacket as with the jacket, arm warmers and gloves, I was still a bit chilly. When we reached Glacier to regroup the weather had warmed up and I tried to find room in my bike jersey pockets for my warm gear. This was an incentive to eat so I'd have less stuff trying to fall out of the pockets.

After Glacier the road started to undulate, with some longer hills, but nothing too difficult. We entered the park proper and rode alongside a river and through a forest with some truly huge trees. It was gorgeous and very quiet as there were few cars on the road.

About 20km after Glacier the real climb began. This wasn't as steep or as hard as either Cypress or Seymour but the fact that we'd already ridden 60km at this point made it a bit challenging. The road is quite narrow with lots of switchbacks and the occassional section with 3" of shoulder then a steep drop off down the mountain with no barrier to protect you from falling off the mountain. Joanne laughed at these spots as she watched me go from being a considerate cyclist giving the cars room to a road hog taking up the entire lane as I tried to put as much distance between myself and the edge as possible.

At this point there was more traffic, including lots of riders on speed bikes (the only descriptive term I know for the bikes is the rather vulgar "crotch rocket"). This disrupted the tranquility of the ride, especially the switchbacks on the road meant that they were directly below you and you could hear them coming for quite some time. Happily they passed us quickly and disappeared.

Joanne and I reached the first designated turn around spot and decided we had to make it to the top. Two or three km past that point I wasn't so sure I wanted to make it to the top. I also wasn't so sure I wanted to ride my bike anymore, or do much of anything other than lie down on something soft for a very long time. Just as I was seriously running out of steam we saw a chalet, which had to be a good sign that the end was near! Sure enough, we soon reached Picture Lake (that's either what it's called or it's a US National Park term for a scenic spot) and the road became a one way loop. After a few more minutes of riding we were at the chair lifts - we were at the top!

I immediately sat down and started to eat. I was on the road by a bunch of rocks, not really an ideal picnic spot, and people driving by seemed to be giving me odd looks. (I'm the tired yellow person in the above shot.) It may not look comfy, but at the time that asphalt felt as great as my couch!

While I was recovering, amusing motorists and inhaling my peanut butter and honey bagelwich, Joanne was taking pictures of the scenery (all the shots here are hers).

The view of the top of Mt. Baker.

Joanne in her victory shot.
Joanne and I doing the self portrait and totally missing getting the peak in the shot.

As Team Pink didn't show up we decided to head down. I haven't got back to my downhill kamakaze mindset that I had last year so Joanne disappeared in front of me pretty quickly. About five minutes down the road I saw Team Pink heading up and Joanne following them as she wanted to go up again (crazy lady!). I figured I'd be the slowest one down, plus I wanted coffee NOW, so I left them and kept descending.
The ride down was a beautiful as the ride up, it just went by a little faster. I enjoyed riding alone, I took it slow and appreciated the view. Just before Glacier Joanne and Brian whizzed past me and I went from my slowpoke reverie to thinking "gotta catch them" and just barely managed to catch up for the draft into Glacier. We stopped for coffee and snacks and enjoyed the luxurious softness of the picnic bench (if you're spent four hours in the saddle you understand!).
I felt surprisingly good after the coffee break and enjoyed the mostly flat ride back. At one point I got into aero position and took off, loving the feeling of the flat road, only to be abruptly brought back to reality by a short hill. My legs didn't feel so hot after all.
We were careful to stop at the two stop signs as we'd been warned others have been ticketed there. Another uneventful border crossing then a feast at Wendy's.
After the ride we headed over to Chez Pink for a Raclette feast, accompanied by appropriate amounts of wine.
A great finish to a great day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ride to Mt. Baker

Yesterday Joanne, Team Pink and I did the ride to Mt. Baker. It was fantastic, long, and beautiful. And very, very tiring.

I'll write up a ride report, just not today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Follow Through

My goal for 2008 was to qualify for 2009 Short Course Worlds in Australia, or to rank high enough to get a roll-down spot. Having set that goal and worked towards it for the whole year, you know that I'd send in my Team application right away and diligently follow up to make sure it had been received.

Or not.

I faxed in my application on the last possible day and only today (three [?] weeks later) did I get in touch with Triathlon Canada to see if they'd received it. Nope, they had nothing from me. However, if I got my forms in immediately they'd see what they can do.

Dumbass is the word that comes to mind. Or maybe lucky. Perhaps both as this lucky dumbass now officially has a spot on the 2009 Age Group Olympic Distance Triathlon team.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Past Week and a Bit

For the long weekend I went on a nice little walk the some friends - gaining 1050m in elevation over 6.5 km of trail described as "mostly well blazed but at times can resemble little more than a route and is often no more than 2 boots wide. Often, you're left balancing yourself precariously to get up a section with a large drop on one side of you. Its prudent to exercise caution." Yeah, a bit of a scramble, made more challenging by the two days worth of food and booze I had packed poorly in my backpack (note to self, next time don't put the wine, eggs, and other heavy stuff at the top of the pack).

Turns out that triathlon training does not prepare you for hiking, especially four hours of hiking downhill. Three days after hiking down I was still hobbling and hurting.

The upside of the crazy hike is it keeps most people away from a truly beautiful spot. No, wait, we don't want any more people up there. Lake Lovely Water is ugly and smells like poo - don't go!!

Masters swimming is back on after a two week break. The YWCA pool was closed so I've been taking a break from swimming, unless you count my hurried dip into a glacial lake on the long weekend. Paul was away on Wednesday so Peter, who teaches the TI method, took his place. It was an awesome session, the technique work was great and I have a totally new understanding of the body roll. You use the hip roll to drive your arm into the water and instead of going faster by speeding up your arms, you speed up your hips and let your stroke catch up. Very different way of thinking of things. Now we just have to see if it'll make me faster.

This weekend I have a very leisurely ride with the ladies, then a leisurely coffee, a nap and a movie with a friend. A nice mellow day.

Today I played my first game with my fall ultimate team. Yes, I played ultimate. After saying I'm done, retired, etc. for the past few years, I somehow ended up on a team this fall. I did swim beforehand as 1) I was excited about the new techniques Peter taught and wanted to try them out and 2) I was scared I'd forgotten everything I knew about ulti so I wanted to do one sport today that I'm reasonably competent at. Turns out I haven't forgotten everything about ulti, although it helped to have some seriously kick ass teammates!

What else? Oh yeah, Team Pink got me drunk on Friday and conned me into signing up for a race.