Tuesday, August 29, 2006

an evening of technical riding

this evenings tecnical riding with tom has generated a few observations.

- dusk is arriving much earlier.
- large rocks are not easily discerned from hard pack in that early dusk.
- when falling to the side of the trail recognize that even the safest looking patch of flora can harbour enough nettles to cover you from head to toe.
- my recovery from xc8 would have been aided by spinning these technical trails.
- the running i have been doing over the last couple days has made me sluggish and graceless cyclist.

Monday, August 28, 2006

xc8: side effects

the side effects, thus far, of saturday's 8 hr mtn bike race.

- the grin that came with finding out that i was fifth solo male is still on my face. [my cheeks are getting sore.]
- today's 1 and half hour run felt, spatially, emotionally and physically, like a skip around the block.
- i may be a few grams closer to my ideal race weight.
- i feel that my single speed bona fides are getting established.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

the sound of one gear spinning

naomi 1st women's solo

paddy and tom 1st and 2nd

home from xc8. what a crazy course. essentially all climbs and descents. round and around and around we went. we did, however, have some great results. paddy and naomi kicked butt and the uber-couple took first in their respective solo categories. paddy with 12 laps and naomi with 9. tomek took third in men's solo with 11 laps and your's truly took 5th with 10 laps. it was a great day for each of us.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

ok wasps, you win

in the first 40 years of my life i was bit once. this summer i've been bit 4 times. yesterday my forearm while riding at the dump, my belly on lap two at the provincials, my ear at grand beach early in a training ride. and the first bite of the summer elicited this great line from piper. "oh i saw that wasp crawl into your shirt a few minutes ago." ah thanks babe.

today paddy took one on the shoulder. ouch. soon we will all be covered in welts.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

in other news......

the man has got me working for carbon and ti baubles. that's right. drop into the shoppe and you may run into your's truly. ahh the life. selling quality goods that support quality living.

and i may never get out of indebtedness and the associated servitude. tom offered to retape the bars on my ss cx / commuter bike. by the time he and paddy were finished the bike was adorned with a pazazz carbon bar and new bontrager race lite stem. the pushers get you hooked. now with all that bling on front my brake levers are looking pretty dowdy. luckily tom's already got their replacement all mapped out.

well at least it will get raced.

tornado alley north

climate change. hmmm. i think so.

i'm driving home from the mtn bike provincial's on sunday, my spidey senses told me to not go to the beach but just go straight to the city. driving back the sky behind me was black, well kinda indigo, to my right [west] it was also getting very dark. it was clear that i was on the front edge of a serious storm. then, just outside of winnipeg, parallel to selkirk, i notice that cars are starting to pull over to the side of the road. so i casually look over my right shoulder to see what's up, and this huge funnel cloud is forming over st andrews and selkirk.

the first thing through my mind is that the tornado seemed to be forming right across the route that mawney, owen and piper were taking home from gimli that afternoon. i call mawney and ask her where she is and what she can see. still a good distance north of the tornado she was driving into the maw of this storm and getting some serious rain and hail. i could hear the hail and rain smacking her car. so i tell her that there is a tornado forming south of her and appears to be right on their path.

this was not cool news for her. the kids get panicked. mawney is cool, says some prayers [apparently only the second time in her life that she has done that.] over the phone we put together an alternate hwy route around the storm. mawney found all the signs and made all the turns in the low visibility conditions and got her and the kids out. apparently all manner of stuff was flying around out there.

it just so happens that the swath of destruction created by the tornado of a few weeks ago is just south of grand beach and is startlingly apparent from hwy 59.

two major tornadoes in under three weeks. atypical.

update coming

which will include a tornado story. whoa.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

wednesday night race

last night was my first single speed race and my first expert race.

first lap was jittery. the second lap was speed without grace - i crashed 4 times in four minutes early on in that lap. the third lap was smooth and as fast as the first.

good times were had by all.

expert feels right. i'm glad i made the switch. if i'm going to get my ass kicked it may as well be fully and completely.

single speed. what do i need to say. those who race single speed know.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

daredevil kid or bad parenting

maybe a bit of both.

so owen's first day without training wheels was yesterday. he wanted to go to the skate park. he wanted to ride in the skate park. i agreed to ride there which i thought would be a good challenging ride for him - good distance, some thrilling hills, light river path gravel etc.

we rode there. piper and i were chillin, watching the bmxers, in the bowl. and owen. his face is in mine." dad." "dad." "dad." "i wanna ride the skate park."

i look at the frenzy of bmx and skateboard action over in the park and i'm thinking, 'no good can come of this.'

but he is soo eager and enthusiastic.

"but dad its not the experts" - experts is what he calls the big bowl we are sitting and watching - "please".......

so over we go. he rides. he's good. he's watching what he's doing and others seem to see him. all is good. while i'm not watching he rides on one of the banked walls and rides back to me. "hey dad check out what i did."

he rides back over and hits the bank and does it. a nice easy arc with good control. but i'm thinking i don't want to see this again, i'm not so cool about the bank.

he comes back. i say "awesome, good work, but i'm not crazy about that bank....."

owen rides right back over to it. fast. gets height and well gravity takes over from his little legs and he tumbles down. i start moving towards him and he starts wailing. i run towards him and he is crying. he had come down and hit his eye on his handlebar end. what were the *^%ing odds. [turns out pretty good.]

couple of sratches on the top of eyelid, a good deal of swelling as of this morning, and a nice welt on his cheek.

ouch. he's seems ok but i've been a wreck pretty much all day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

scooters & bikes

team olympia: the future

scooters help riders. earlier this summer owen tried riding without training wheels. he was not so keen with it so they went back on. later, for his birthday, i got him a scooter which he has had under foot all summer. a parent at owen's birthday mentioned that the balance required for scooting had helped his son transition from training wheels to two wheels. this morning further evidence of the effect of scooting was gathered.

last night piper owen and i were at the skate park checking out the skaters and bmx'ers. owen was stoked to try two wheels again. this morning we headed out, me without my camera because i figured i would be running alongside.

owen rode from the mile from our door step to daycare unassisted! the smile on his face was priceless.

and piper. piper is pretty happy that her 20 inch wheeled ss trek mystic is roughly the size and dimensions of a bmx. she noted the lack of girls at the skate park and has voiced her interest in giving bmx a shot - as long as we repainted the mystic. it was one of the few times she has ridden that bike since she got her fave ride the christmas before last.

Monday, August 14, 2006

grand beach single speed

ok, look serious for the camera.
we had so much fun;
why are'nt we smiling

tomek, paddy and i out for a morning at grand beach. it was a great ride which also included trail clearance [big tree crossing path was made smaller with the 'big jim team tree stomp snap' and pushed out of the way with a misapplied 'big jim solo arm crusher' - sorry paddy.]

next week's provincials at grand beach will be good. my legs are sore, an unanticipated, but welcome thing at this time of the year.

oh yeah. a wasp flew into my ear, panicked and bit me. in response i shouted, panicked and endoed.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

the bad idea boys

looks like rich and josh of bad idea racing had an awesome day at trans rockies.

way to go guys! and looking great over all.

sweet. now i gotta ride before the sky dumps again.


the new ride

ohh man, super cool. i got the two to one last night and tom and i spent a couple of hours grinding uphill and bombing down at the dump. then after a brief drop into the shop we went to the monkey trails. dialed! this morning tom was at my place at 6:55. off we went for a 130 rpm spin with paddy and lindsay. tour de nicks. beat the rain back to the shop where i stocked up on fuel and waited out the downpour.

now a quick americano at my house, quick blog to show bike picks and i am off. spin to bird's hill, ride some laps and spin back. tomorrow paddy tom and i are going to grand beach.

with the little loves at m's till tomorrow afternoon it is ride, eat, sleep, ride, eat, sleep, ride, eat sleep.

see ya out on the trails!

60 minutes or so later.

and the sky opened and the torrents fell and the drought was over and the reading day had begun.

i rode from vantage point to vantage point trying to guage the rain. could it end? how bad will it get? and decided it was not the weather than needed to make up its mind but me.

thankfully i'm reading a couple good books right now. and i'm out of food. perfect day for grocery shopping and curling up with a good book.

see ya out in the aisles - chagrined.

3 hours later

bought groceries, put away groceries, looked at sky, found mud.

it's hard not to ride.

Friday, August 11, 2006

two to one

my two to one should be finished today. paddy's been slaving on this one. i'm getting giddy. if i get it today i'll try to post photos before it gets covered in dirt.

i should also get my car back but that does not excite me.

i'm glad my priorities are straight.

i've just realized that two to one will establish parity. geared road, geared mountain, ss cx, and now ss mountain.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

not as bad as the photo evidence; i hope

the wonder wagon getting its coolant topped up in neepawa: not as bad as it looks. on top the comfy couch can be seen. always a good idea to bring alternate transportation with you.

this is not a love story. its more complicated than that.

i came late to driving. i was 31 or 32, piper was just born and i thought it unfair that a family's worth of driving be done by one driver. m had alway's driven now i learned to drive. now my job requires that i drive.

today i was driving to swan river on business. [i sell books to librairies and i visit librairies throughout saskatchewan and manitoba.] i was also hoping to get back to thunder hill for a much needed ride. alas i had a great drive and an abbreviated trip.

my relationship with my car is ambivalent. i enjoy driving. i enjoyed today's drive. the sky was beautiful and the combines were out bringing in the harvest. it was a glorious day that included a side trip for a fantastic espresso at Poor Michaels Bookshop in Onanole. i chatted with lei anne and got some great books including fawn brodies 'The Devil Drives' a brooding psychological portrait of sir richard francis burton. classic. awesome day. i rediscoved the music of mirah on my ipod. listened to some great dharma podcasts. looked out the window. reflected etc.

in a world made warmer by these infernal machines. in a world that goes to war to fuel these infernal machines. in a world where cars are used as weapons. see below. i strap my wind-dam bike to my roof and head off. work, freedom, bliss. road trip. aaaaah.

at russell i discoved that my car was leaking coolant. i dropped in on a mechanic who was kind enough to have a quick look. he determined that it was probably a leaky water pump. not good but not an immediate disaster. i called ahead to roblin and discovered that parts would probably only be available in winnipeg. i resolved that i would turn around and head back to winnipeg. i did not want to have a problem even further from home.

but part of me mused. 'hmm, i've got extra coolant now and it is only a leak' so i listened to this voice, as i almost always do, and turned northward. i am comfortable pushing myself to extremes, i can hear myself whine long before i break and i am so accustomed to my whine i pretty much know real problems from lets say, discomfort. but mechanical things provide feedback that is often immediate, catastrophic and well too late. so my push further north was with trepidation and diligence. i decided roblin, a half hour north, would be my test. so there i stopped and found that the fluid was indeed leaking while under pressure and seemed to be somewhere between a trickle and a stream.

so back to winnipeg. all the while focused on the car which was now making a huffy, diesely sound when accelerating and or climbing. i was completely focused on the car. oh how we take their 'magical' operation for granted when mechanical problems are not immanent. no music and complete focus. mindfulness if you will. two hours later in neepawa i checked the resevoir. i had lost some fluid and needed to top it up. i did. the two remaining hours to winnipeg almost ran the resevoir dry. it was good that i turned around for the leak had been getting worse.

car 952 kms, bike 0 kms. not a calculation that gives me pleasure.

hey you.....

"dial that chill to nine, bro."

you driving the van.

you who assaulted my buddies tom and lindsay.

you assualted them verbally, with your fists, and your van. what could you have possibly been thinking. a van as a weapon. the police did us all a favour when they threw you into the back of the cruiser.

chill out and control your anger. cyclists are not ememies. cyclists are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, family and friends.

sending metta to you.

and as owen would say 'dial that chill to nine, bro'

please lemme ride, please

thunder hill last saturday. that smudge obscured by clouds. hopefully tonight it will be high and dry.

oh i'm feeling the need for a ride. too much time on the road. good news is that today's road trip leads back up to a night in swan river. i was there last week and thunderhill was socked in rain and a complete mud-fest. even then i felt that i was losing my edge so i pushed into the clay mire only to break my chain. no chain tool was seen as a sign that i was'nt riding that day. well the remainder of the weekend was spent in domestic bliss with piper and owen and i making a racket and having a blast. among other things; we perfected our rice krispie square recipe, walked miles and miles and miles, scootered, and laughed. but alas no riding. although i did get in 4 hours of bike maintainance while the kids and i had some needed down time.

registered for XC8 at buffalo pound, 26 August. [i've trail run there and it is awesome country.] looking forward to xc8 and the chance of a race road trip with paddy, naomi and tom. i believe i will ride my soon to be built ss. but i still have my first wed night race [next wed] and the mtn bk provincials on the 19th. both will be raced ss.

i know rest is good, even when it has the attendant stress of being unplanned, but i fear that i may be veering to too much rest. i know that is almost certainly not the case. oh yeah it does'nt help when paddy drops by, as yesterday, and i see that he is on an epic training ride. or seeing lindsay pushing his ss into a headwind the day prior.

oh well, tonight i ride. hope it ain't mud. but if it is so be it.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

landscape and memory

there was a time when i taught in northern manitoba. at that time i was a phd candidate in history [u of manitoba] and was teaching for brandon university. when i go into northern manitoba, as i did this past week, it brings back memories. many of the memories evoked, however, are not situated in that northern landscape. often i recall most vividly my life outside of that lanscape but within the time frame of that landscape. i think that the reason is simple. i am distracted or preoccupied with my present and draw understanding of it from my past and the issues which resonate with me at this time are not placed there so any memory i have becomes referenced to where i am now. my life is also very much about personal relationships the land is therefore a template for meanings sometimes independant of it. or something like that.

it is a beautiful land. austere and sublime; this land has a scale that is unimaginable. i present the above picture as example. i am not bemoaning the view but offering for scale the fact that that view was unchanged - "endless" forest on either side of highway - for 360 km as i drove north through a channel of land known here as the interlake. the interlake begins as a stony landscape of marginal agricultural use. as the fields give way to forest it slowly, almost impreceptibly, across vast low lying parkland, yeilds to the boreal forests of the 'further' north. the soil of this forest in sandy and thin.

so back to scale. after 4 hrs of north driving you, if going to Thompson, hang a right and drive north-east for another hour and a bit. Thompson is at an ecological hub of sorts. North and North-west are thin soiled, pre-cambrian rock substrate, boreal forests which stretch for 300 km to the border of nunavut. to the east are the great rivers leading to Hudson's Bay. This land is rocky at time but trends to a low point along the coast. this is also the northern terminus of the parkland, an exceptionaly diverse forest which occupies all of central manitoba.

this view is from the top of long point, land that juts into lake winnipeg just on the south of it's massive north basin.

memory resonates in a unique pattern. there are the memories of place. on my fist day teaching in nelson house i ran into a friend who i did not know was teaching there. she and her partner were living in thompson at the time. this was a time of re-connection to these friends and in many ways the time of our real connection for i would see them each week as i flew into thompson and we would share the drive into neslon house.

and there are momories of time. ie: 'the last time i was on this stretch of road was here was two years ago. at that time my life was......' here i think landscape is evocative because it draws us into a time that we had 'forgotten.' over the last two years these thoughts have been drawn to my separation and eventual divorce. this is inevitabe, i think becuase of my pre-occupation with personal relationships and their unfolding. the landscape is peopled, as it were, by memories of friends and family. when i am somewhere i have not been in sometime i can not help but relate that previous time to the present.

my life is not aimless. i am, however, continually startled by the fact that i cannot predict where i will be in 5 years. when i was teaching in the north i would not have guessed five years previous to that time that my life would have unfolded that way. i grew up with a passion for the north and i did not forsee the good fortune of teaching in the 'mid-north' enjoying the hospitality of its people and the beauty of the land.

when i was teaching i would not have forseen the reasons for my present visit nor would i have forseen the unfolding of my marriage into a wonderful friendship bonded by the shared up-bringing and loving of two amazing children.

as i drove south on friday evening i entered the magnificent swan river valley. here deep rich soils yeild a bounty. the forests of this region have been protected in their highlands. the porcupine hills, duck mountain and riding mountian all stand out in stark relief against the prairies. the forest cover is diverse parkland with a smattering of a carolinian forest in the south-east of riding mountian.

this was part of the landscape of my never completed [now there is a rich memory] dissertation which was to be 'an environmental history of western manitoba.'

i entered the swan river area from the pas and flin flon to the north. flin flon is magnificent and is a city plunked down on a locally bleak stretch of ancient pre-cambrian rock. the land around flin flon - bakers narrows, cranberry portage - is a magnificent as its place names are evocative.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

mini prayer flags

while in toronto a couple months ago i came across a small tibetan buddhist shop on the north side of queen st west. i purchased mini prayer flags that i had never seen before. they fit perfectly into a dormer window just across from where i sit when i meditate. they don't flutter or weather like the ones outside. but they serve as a reminder, each time i ascend or descend my stairs, of the energies and blessings that flow through this world.