Monthly Archives: July 2011

Nothing if not consistent

So I received something pretty darn exciting in the mail yesterday.  Yup!  My new Garmin Edge 800.  What a machine.  This thing can do laundry and cook you dinner, all while computing your rides to a ridiculous level of accuracy.  Now, while I am really looking forward to getting out there and testing it on a good long road ride, I did strap it onto the fixie this morning and record my commute, both the out journey and the return some eight hours later.

Well, hats off to me!  Check this out.

Two different rides, 8 hours apart. Almost identical.

I know.  You can’t believe it either can you?  Remarkable really, but let’s do a little analysis to understand what makes this even cooler.  (Oh, don’t hesitate to click on the image to view the full resolution and then click the back button once you’re done).

On the ride in (right hand column) I benefitted from a 15 km/h tailwind.  Nice easy ride, spinning the legs continuously and not exerting myself too much.  This is evidenced by the average HR of 148 and a relatively low caloric burn.  The landscape changed quite dramatically for the return trip.  For the 45 minutes prior to me leaving the campus, I stared out of the massive windows and watched the rain smash into them, the trees lean dramatically in the wind and even the birds being tossed about somewhat.  I knew it was going to be a rough one.

Fortunately the rain stopped by the time I got onto the bike, but there was still a headwind / head-cross wind for the full 25 km back, but I was determined to put in a good show.  Elevated HR as compared to the morning clearly demonstrates that I did have to put in substantially more effort, but here is the fun part: my average speed both on the way out and on the way back was almost identical-  30.3 km/h vs. 30.2 km/h.  Naturally a lot of the other stats were almost identical as well, with the time it took me to come home being only 6 seconds slower than going to work.  To do that, however, my average HR coming home was 87% of max, which coincidentally enough was my maximum HR from the morning.  My max in the afternoon was 94% of max.  I also burned 100 more calories as a result.  Extra pie for me tonight.

I think this is a lot more interesting to me than to most of you, but if you’re a bit of a dork when it comes to these types of stats then I am sure you’ll get a kick out of it.  So stay tuned for some analysis on a real road ride soon.  Got to get some climbing in to really see the HR go up!

Ride safe.

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Wasp attack

I think it was a wasp.  It certainly felt like a wasp.  I was bombing along, minding my own business on the return commute along the water, when all of a sudden there was a stabbing pain on the underneath of my thigh.  It felt like someone had inserted a needle into the flesh and was in the process of injecting some hot oil into the muscle.

Paddywagon cleaned up and ready for riding

Dramatic?  I think not!  That bloody hurt.  I also suffer from the nervous disposition that puts one on high alert when you think you may still have a stinging insect flying around in your shorts.  I slowed down as rapidly as possible and pulled over, somehow not coming to grief on the grass.  After dismounting I proceeded to dance about like a complete twit (echoes of Monty Python in my head) and eventually saw no option but to pull down my shorts, relieved that I had decided that going commando was not an option on the bike, and check every crevasse carefully incase the wasp in question was only injured and bent on revenge.

I found nothing, and for a second I wondered whether I had imagined the whole experience.  Fortunately the discovery of a red dot surrounded by some mild swelling confirmed the presence of the attacker and I felt a little less stupid.  The lesson from today?  When riding with seriously baggy shorts, be prepared to get stung, or tie the ends up with gaffer tape!

Ride safe.

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Riding tall

I went out for some morning intervals in Parc Levesque, as I am want to do, and was horrified to see what had happened to the grounds of the park.  The City of Lachine has sold out.  Big time.  I arrived at the park around 6.30 a.m. having warmed up nicely on the 10 km journey outbound.  The 750 metre ‘entrance’ to the park is brilliant in the early morning as you have the sun directly behind you.

Riding tall into Parc Levesque

All seemed normal at this stage in the proceedings.  But as I neared the park gates I could sense that something was up.  I am not sure if it was the fifty ATVs that were parker neatly on a 45 degree angle that gave it away, or the glimpse of steel fence that seemed to surround the middle ‘island’ of the park, that tipped me off first, but this was going to be different.

Indeed, what I saw as I rode through the main entrance gates made me almost come right off the bike.  The beautiful central island of Parc Levesque had been totally cordoned off with industrial grade 8′ high steel fencing.  Inside the perimeter was a new landscape that included 18-wheeler trucks, tents of all shapes and sizes, and many more ATV-type vehicles on display stands.  The grass leading through the temporary gates in the new fence was missing, replaced instead with the worn through muddy tracks that hundreds of repeat visits with a heavy vehicle will produce.

Now if this was not bad enough, as I rode down the north side of the loop and stared with utter disbelief at the mayhem on the inside, my eyes were treated to yet more shocking discoveries.  A dirt track had been built through the arboretum and through the park, complete with mud hills, sharp corners and advertising hoardings and billboards.  Where was the lush green grass that was here only a few days ago?  Where was my park?

I don’t know how much money the City of Lachine sold out for, but I am hoping that part of the cost of this enterprise includes returning the park to its original state.  I would hate to think that once the ATV circus has left we are going to have to stare at this mud bath for the next several months.  Although I can’t imagine what it is going to take to return the lawn to its former lushness.

I can’t believe that I don’t have a picture of this madness to share with you all.  I was so stunned that I didn’t think to take one, but I’ll be heading back there probably tomorrow morning and so if the madness is still in town I’ll document it.

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A vote for independence

Yesterday we celebrated July 4 with our American friends.  Having just experienced Canada Day on July 1 in Montreal is was fun to experience the US equivalent in the small town of Westbrook, CT.  We were not disappointed.  You’d be hard pressed to find a nation who takes pride in their country more than the Americans.  I toyed with the idea of prancing down the beach in my Union Jack swimming trunks chanting ‘God Save the Queen‘, but the respect I have for their patriotism prevented me from undoubtedly making a fool of myself.

Grove Beach at dusk, July 4.

The real fun begins as the sun starts to fade.  Everyone gathers on the beach and starts to dig the holes that will become a fire pit.  Most people are moving lethargically having just stepped away from the table, but as the ‘moment’ draws near there is a heightened sense of anticipation and energy that starts to be felt from everywhere, especially from the younger participants!

Our resident fire-maker and host, Brendan, got the fire going and it wasn’t long before the children were all crouched around roasting their marshmallows in earnest.  Marie had Smore making duty and was busy prepping the Graham crackers and Hershey’s chocolate.  The production line seemed endless with one child after another running up with the marshmallows in varying states of doneness, ranging from a light golden colour to a deep black crusty hue.

Roasting marshmallows.

The magic is in watching the kids though.  Put children, a beach, a fire, marshmallows, a pink sky and then fireworks and you’ve got yourself an incredible evening.  Lest we not forget the two dogs, the awesome Primo and Rio, an ultra laid back pro basketball player who goes by the name ‘Q‘ and glow-sticks galore and you’ve got all the makings for an evening that will not ever be forgotten.  Incidentally, Q played for the Montreal basket ball team for a couple of years and so it was like meeting an old friend!

Ollie making the leap during the 'Hole Jumping' Olympics

Just prior to settling in to watching the fireworks, we had an impromptu ‘Hole Jumping’ competition.  Ollie had started digging at about 2.00 p.m. that afternoon and he had kept digging right through to supper time.  The result was a hole that was at least 8′ across and probably 3′ deep.  Talk about an invitation to jump right across it!

The variety of looks that were captured during the glow stick portion of the evening provided for much amusement from all corners.

Happy 4th of July

Finally, the fireworks started popping and banging at around 9.00 p.m. and we were treated to the display that was taking place in Clinton to the right and, hold on, can’t remember the name of the town to the left, but we got to share in their display as well.

The festivities, and by that I mean the fireworks, continued late into the night.  Just when you thought they were done and you started drifting off to sleep a loud BANG! shocked you out of your slumber and brought your heart rate right up.  Eventually I managed to somehow tune them out and fall to sleep.

Thank you America for sharing your Independence Day celebrations with this Canadian family and thank you Karen and Brendan for having us as your guests once again!

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Westbrook, CT

It’s finally that time of year again. Our annual trip down to the beach house in Westbrook, CT. A more perfect location is hard to find.

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That’s not to say that the drive down was not without it’s challenges. The rain, falling for at least 80% of the trip, was torrential at times. There was one spot in the middle of Massachusetts where a series of cars were pulling off dramatically to the side and parking there with their hazards blinking gloomily in the semi-dark. We elected to continue, slowly, my thought process being that sitting motionless on the hard shoulder did not appeal to me when visibility was so low. I had a better chance of avoiding any mishaps if I was already moving. We had also passed a very unpleasant looking crash about twenty minutes prior so that was very much on my mind as well. Got to keep moving.

We made awesome time. Arriving at the beach house we were thrilled and excited to see Karen and Brendan and it really felt like coming home. This is the fifth year that we come down here for a week and it always feels as if we’re just continuing off from the previous trip. We’re spending the next few days with some new friends which is brilliant. For dinner this evening we were seventeen and not a single glass or plate was broken. Burgers, salmon, baby bok choy and banana chocolate chip sour cream cake. An eclectic mix for sure, but then so are all the house guests. Just as with the dinner, it all works well together.

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As I lie here in this enormous water bed it sounds like the Battle of the Somme outside. It is July 3rd but by the sounds of things they are in full dress rehearsal for tomorrow. If what we’ve been fortunate enough to see tonight is anything to go by, then the display tomorrow is going to be phenomenal.

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