Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just 'cause it's November...

...doesn't mean we can't get out triking.

In fact, that's just what we did on Monday, November 12th. Yes, it's Ottawa. Yes, it's November. Yes, it had been cold but just not yesterday. So, we decided to do a quick run through the local area. We had a cold front sliding our way but we knew the day's high of 20C (that's plus 20 Celsius) wouldn't last long.

At this time of year, such warmth can't last long.

In the accompanying photo, you can see what few autumn leaves are left on our neighbour's yard.

As this would very likely be our last day out for this season, we thought it best to go for a really good ride. So, we left our place and headed for the "Deer Run" subdivision a few kilometres away. Typical for many newer subdivisions, there is a small but very useful multipurpose recreational/cycling pathway that surrounds the houses. It's where people go to walk their dogs (ON leash please), take their babies out in the strollers and we take our trikes.

The pathway cuts through a fairly thick forested area, too, so that only adds to its charm. Except for very early spring where it would be a cold a sticky muck infused place, the "Deer Run" pathway is a pretty place to visit and we were there. Travelling around, the leaves there crunched under our tires and I saw a male cardinal zoom through the forest. At this time of year, you can't miss 'em in their hurts-the-eyes bright red plumage.

From there, and still feeling both energetic and ambitious, we decided to continue east towards yet another subdivision. So, we sailed along Queensdale and crossed Bank Street. It was still early afternoon so there wasn't much automobile traffic which made things easier, of course.

We swung onto 6th avenue, which is a small and very suburban street despite its more "downtown sounding name". Cycling past the elementary school nearby, we could see, and hear, that it was afternoon recess. Homeowners we passed were mostly outside washing their cars in this unusually warm afternoon, knowing that this would be the one and only day for the foreseeable future to do this.

Of course, we connected from that suburban neighbourhood to another one via a simple little pathway - a tiny little downhill venture - and found ourselves deposited onto Carriage Hill Place. A quick zoom down Carriage Hill, onto Sable Ridge and towards Hunt Club Road, we would cross onto Lorry Greenberg. The pathway network encapsulating the library would be our next area.

The pathway system around the library was an easy go for us and even the off-leash dogs there didn't bother us. Alas the pathway system ended for us on Cahill and it was a matter of a few more quick kilometres before we got home.

Our total distance for this, our likely last trip of the season before the snow flies, was 10.7 kilometres. Oh, I might head out a couple of more times this season but probably not. If I do head out, I will make another blog post here. If I don't, well, see you in '13!

Now, I'm thinking about cross-country skiing and hoping like mad we get a good season.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Topic of Cancer - shameless self promotion with apologies to Henry Miller

I wrote a book. Actually, it's my second book but I thought I'd mention it here anyway since it's triking season.

I spent a good chunk of this catriking season undergoing cancer treatment, which is why there weren't as many entries as there were nice days.

So, read it, okay? Thanks.

The Topic of Cancer

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fuelling the Engine...

Yes, I did 6.4 some odd kilometres yesterday and it was around the local neighbourhood. At this time of year in particular, the weather can pack it in and render any outdoor activity impossible. So, I went because it was nice, warm and not too windy.

That's not the subject of this blog posting. Instead, I'm going to touch on fuelling the engine which, in this case, means me, or whomever is riding any kind of trike or other human powered vehicle.

We've all heard the adage of eating a balanced diet. Who would argue against that? However, it isn't always so simple a matter of following a balanced diet. There are some times when riders have to focus on certain nutrients for high output activity.

As much as I enjoy a hot bowl of cream of brown rice cereal for breakfast, a good sized serving just doesn't have the necessary calories I need if I'm also about to churn out a good 45 kilometre trek. It also doesn't really have the good proteins I need to help build and strengthen muscle tissue. On those occasions, it's okay to have an omelette for breakfast...but do yourself a favour by adding some fresh vegetables, too, like some chopped green pepper (YUMMY!). I tend to eschew adding cheese as I find it makes the omelette too heavy for my tastes. But, that's just me.

I've taken to adding fresh fruit to my breakfast, rather than have it as a snack later in the day. At this time of year, apples are de riguere and, for me, the crispier the better. What I sometimes do is pack a couple of royal gala apples and munch on them during a water break along the way, too.

Protein, as I said, is an important macronutrient. As about 2/3 of my diet is plant based, the protein I consume is small and not always meat in nature. No, I am not a vegetarian...anymore...but I do make it a point to eat a small amount of meat about once or twice a week.

I have a chicken vegetable soup that I just made earlier today and it turned out wonderfully. It's so easy to make, too, and like almost all soups, stores well in the fridge.

To make chicken vegetable soup, I took two stalks of celery, scrubbed of any dirt there (there's always some dirt), and one medium sized carrot (peeled of course). I chopped them up finely and added about 1/4 cup of finely chopped onion (any kind will do). I then added this collection of vegetables, known as mirepoix, to my large stockpot and put in some vegetable oil and a bit of margarine. On low-medium heat, I "sweated" and softened the mirepoix which took about 4 minutes. Then, I added a little under 2 cups (400g) of frozen corn niblets, 1/2 tsp thyme powder and stirred that around until it was all well incorporated.

After that, I added about 1 litre (about 4 cups) of hot water into which a few teaspoons of powdered vegetable stock had been added. I stirred that in, turned the heat up a bit and then added two tins of "chunks of chicken", juice and all. It was only a matter of simmering the soup for about another 5-10 minutes.

I had originally intended on making a chicken corn chowder but, after tasting the soup to ensure it was properly seasoned, decided it was good as it was.

In fact, it was really good as it was.

So, I now have some really great chicken vegetable soup that is rich in nutrients, like beta carotene, some fibre from the corn and celery, some salt from the stock powder and some protein from the chicken.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Picnic time notes and a little more!

I have nothing against geese. As summer trickles towards an end, I have seen small flocks of them flying and honking and otherwise gearing up for their annual migration south. What I do object to, however, is how colossally stupid and inconsiderate they are when it comes to approaching cycles...including mine.

Here we were, on a beautiful but breezy and quite chilly morning, heading up to the ByTown museum and Rideau Canal locks for a planned picnic. We had taken our usual route to the Hog's Back area via Mooney's Bay and saw about two dozen geese ambling about on the ground. They didn't seem to notice that there were a few other cyclists on the pathway including ours. They certainly didn't seem to care one way or the other even as I tried to hasten their forward movement by repeatedly ringing my little bell. Adam, who was behind me, joined in the chorus of bell ringing but it was to no avail. In the end, I took advantage of both the cut grass at the side of the pathway and my relatively high ground clearance to just divert around the oblivious birds.

Cheez, I hope they aren't as unaware of things when they fly!

Past these geese, we continued along the pathway. We rounded the corner, followed the trail down, around and under the little bridge on Hog's Back road and found ourselves riding comfortably along the bike path paralleling Colonel By road. With it not being Sunday and that the Sunday bike program is done for the year, we were relegated to the bike path only. No matter, the day was warming up nicely and the path wasn't too crowded.

In short order we found ourselves at the Corkstown Pedestrian Bridge right across from the University of Ottawa Campus transit station. I saw quite a number of tourists there. Well, at least I thought they were tourists judging by the number of suitcases I saw and the frenetic picture taking that was happening as well. A lot of people travel to Ottawa after the Labour Day long weekend to take advantage of the lower number of other tourists. We would see more of these people in short order.

We got to the end of the Rideau Canal locks right at the Bytown Museum by about 11:30am. The grass was still quite wet from both the chilled previous night and the recent rainshowers we had had so it would be the bench for us to enjoy our lunch.

One of the many things Adam and I enjoy doing when we go on these kinds of outdoor urban adventures is people watching. There we saw all manner of people cycling, walking, ambling about etc. We even saw a young teenage couple (shouldn't they have been in school?) dragging themselves up the slope of the canal itself. We saw other tourists, armed with cameras and conversing with each other in accented English about what a beautifully charming place Ottawa is.

So, we sat there next to our Catrikes and ate our lunches and otherwise just took in the scenery.

The trip back to Hog's Back was fairly uneventful though the day was warming up considerably and enough that we decided to stop at the one and, it seemed, only concession stand that was still open to the public. I bought an ice cream drumstick for us both and we managed to gnaw at it. The freezer that these ice cream treats were in was set too low, we both thought, as in liquid nitrogen low. We were afraid to drop the chilled treat lest it shatter like the proverbial rose from a grade 10 science class (anyone else remember those?). It was also at that time when we both realized that the day was still young enough to venture somewhere else. So, we altered our plans and decided that, rather than go straight home, that we would take another trip.

So, we left Hog's Back and headed down to Vincent Massey Park, along the pathway that travels along the Rideau, past Carleton University, under the O-Train bridge and eventually comes up along Riverside. The pathway is one of those winding, hilly prospects that's a favourite for picnickers, dog walkers and joggers alike and we did pass a few of those. Eventually, though, we found ourselves on the bike path right at the corner of Riverside and Bank Street. With the green light we pressed on and headed towards Hurdman.

The bike paths in that area are numerous and lined with thick clumps of butter daisies, violet coloured mini asters and, yesterday, changing leaf coloured trees. The number of other cyclists, joggers and pedestrians was steady though not too many in number.

Unlike many of the streets here in Ottawa, the network of bike paths is very well signposted and it was a simple matter of following the signs to Hurdman to prevent anyone getting lost. We continued even past Hurdman before I felt that it was time we should head back.

One of the more critical issues with people who have MS is energy management. This means, for me at least, that I really need to listen for signs from my body that I'm getting tired and that I need to think about getting some rest. When I'm out and about that also means knowing when it's time to head back home.

We reversed our track and began the journey home. The winds, now from the southwest, had picked up somewhat so it was a bit of a headwind we were beating into. However, the catrike is such a fun and low-drag vehicle to ride that I'm sure the headwinds didn't cause nearly as much of a hassle as it did for people on upright bicycles.

In short order, we found ourselves back at Vincent Massey park, then the climb uphill on a switchback portion of the bike path to Hog's Back and then into Mooney's Bay where the geese weren't.

The afternoon was wearing on by the time we were out of the bike path network and onto suburban streets. We saw a few schoolbuses driving around the streets. We wound our way along well travelled roads, successfully negotiated the traffic on Hunt Club Road (it really isn't that difficult) and rounded our way back home.

Since I met my goal of cycling no fewer than 300 kilometres this season, I'm no longer keeping track of my progress but I am happy to note that I did 45 kilometres yesterday. At this time of year, you take advantage of the good weather since autumn can be a cold, rainy and windy time.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's all gravy...

I can tell it's the Labour Day long weekend here in Ottawa because today is the last of the Sunday Bike Days. I had done two trips since my last entry but those were pretty much the same trips I had written about previously so I didn't see much point in writing more of the same.

I might as well have written "ibid".

What I decided to do instead was collect my trips into one blog posting that would feature me achieving my goal for the year - to trike no fewer than 300 kilometres in a triking season.

The triking season here is quite long, often well into October, so the fact that I met and actually exceeded my goal by the end of the Sunday Bike Day season is just an interesting coincidence. I will still be triking next week and, indeed, for as long as the good weather holds out.

Our original plan was to simply do the regular route up to where Hog's Back meets Colonel By, zoom the 15 kilometres to the end of the route, turn around and then head back. I actually only needed to do precisely 30.0 kilometres today in order to meet my goal. However, when we got to the far end of the route, a quick check on my trip odometer showed only 14.6 kilometres. The last thing I wanted for me today was to pull back into our driveway only to be 800 metres short of my goal. That would have annoyed me to no end. So, we decided to "purchase a little insurance" by adding a side junket along the Laurier Avenue dedicated bike lane. It would prove to be a very good idea.

It's not difficult to connect to the Laurier Avenue bike lane - at least, not from Colonel By. It was a simple matter of starting our trek back from where the original route ends and then hopping onto the Corkstown bike/pedestrian bridge. Crossing the Rideau River, we found ourselves deposited onto the west side of the bike path that runs along the side of the river itself. A few hundred metres later and a quick left put us right onto Laurier Avenue and the dedicated bike lane.

We sailed along the bike lane getting all the green lights for the first half of our "side junket". Once at the end and just shy of where Laurier Avenue meets Bronson Avenue, we quickly turned around and headed back to re-intercept the west side of the bike-path-along-the-Rideau. Another quick left put us back onto the Corkstown bike/pedestrian bridge and then a smooth slide back onto Colonel By.

By this time, the road was noticeably busier, but then, it was later in the morning so I expected to see more cyclists, roller bladers, strollers, joggers and dog walkers. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful...until...

I needed for my trip odometer to get to precisely 30.0 and I reached that point on the corner of Southmore and Rankin, well past Mooney's Bay.

The picture with this blog was taken where Colonel By meets the Convention Centre (what Adam calls the dead mackerel and what Rachael calls the pineapple grenade). Yet, I made that very same gesture when I met my goal.

Tally for all three days was 59.7 kilometres done.That's 3.4 kilometres of gravy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Take 30...I did! :D

I hadn't had an omelette in ages so the one I ate this morning (Sunday, August 26th) to fuel me for the day's planned excursion was especially good.

I also hadn't done our usual Sunday bike day trip since early June. The summer was just wretchedly hot and stiflingly humid. I wouldn't have made it - well, not the whole 30 kilometres. So, today's trek would be particularly good given the less hellish conditions.

The morning air was perfectly clear and had that lovely haze so often seen here in late August. The light breeze was from the southwest (by my reckoning). We left early, in fact quite early, and took our usual route along Hunt Club Road, up McCarthy and along Southmore. We wound our way through familiar neighbourhoods, greening up once more from the recent showery weather that brought relief to us all. We safely crossed Walkley Road, meandered through a few more streets and then found ourselves at Mooney's Bay Park.

We cycled past people who were playing tennis at the enclosed courts and who were clearly enjoying themselves. It took us little time to get through the park and it was at that time we realized that motorized traffic was still permitted on Colonel By Drive. Therefore, it wasn't quite 9:00am (told you we left early). Having a few minutes to ourselves, we decided to just park our trikes under the shade of a tree and take a bit of a break. After a few minutes, my impatience grew too much and decided that we can risk riding our trikes on roads occupied by cars. It would only be for a few minutes anyway.

Colonel By was very very lightly travelled by the time we swung onto the road itself. This is pretty typical for the Sunday Bike Days here in Ottawa, I feel. My experience has been that most people don't venture onto the closed-to-cars roads until closer to 10:30 - and here it was not even 9:00. There were a couple of cars driving on the road, hoping to get past the barrier At Colonel By and Hog's Back Road before it closes at 9:00am (the barrier is moved to allow cars off the road, just not back on). The fresh air felt great, especially as the day was already starting to warm up. I didn't feel too tired and actually managed to get some good speeds on my trike.

We passed the usual groups of cyclists, joggers, roller bladers and dog walkers. Some were on the actual cycle path that runs along Colonel By and some were on the road itself but all seemed to be having a good time of things.

Admittedly, I was getting tired (MS does that to me, especially when it's warm) and I mentioned to Adam that I might want to turn around and start the return trip around the Campus area. "Campus" refers to that part of Colonel By that abuts the Campus transit stop at the University of Ottawa. However, when Adam replied that the end of the line is only another 2 or 3 kilometres beyond the Campus area, I saw his point and agreed to finish the whole trip.

We made it to the exit barrier, pulled over, took a few minutes break, sipped some water and then turned to head back home. By that time, the light southwesterly breeze had picked up - I believe the term is "freshened" - so it would take a bit more energy to get home. Yet, I didn't care. I was feeling good having made it all the way out. I would have to make it all the way back and I did.

I'm really shaving off what kilometres I need to meet my goal of no fewer than 300 this cycle season. Next weekend, Labour Day, will be the last weekend of the Sunday Bike Day so any trips after that day will be limited to the bike paths only. I don't care. At this rate, I may actually complete my goal. Stay tuned. I will.

Tally for all three days was 30.0 kilometres done. That leaves me 56.3 to go as of today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three nice days...three awesome trips!

I should add, though, not in a row. Nevertheless, I did do three trips, two of which were the get-out-while-you-can kind. Still, those count, don't they? ;P

The routes were all the same although today's included the Blohm-Karsh circle just east of Conroy and Lorry Greenberg. At least we didn't run into any suicidal squirrels. We also didn't encounter much in the way of traffic. At this time of year, when the mornings have just a hint of cool to them but heat up very quickly, it's important for comfort's sake to head out early in the day. This often results in having to contend with rush hour, lots of city buses and - soon - school buses. But, like my last trip, there were precious few cars. That works for both of us as I'm sure it works for car drivers, too. Having to negotiate around each other can be a little tricky, given that trikes are just not as fast as Toyotas so not having to do that kind of thing today only added to the pleasure.

I trike to get exercise and to relax. That doesn't mean I set no goals just that I don't get too antsy about achieving those goals. To that end...

Tally for all three days was 30.5 kilometres done. That leaves me 86.3 to go as of today.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another two trips to add

It seems this year that I write new Catrike entries for every two trips done. I'm not sure why that is but it doesn't seem to matter much.

The first trip was one Adam and I did this past Saturday. The weather has been marvellously unstable. The rains we were finally experiencing and soaking the ground resulted in moments of blue skies and bright sunshine followed by dark grey clouds and lashing warm rains. Without delving too deeply into a meteorology lesson here, the cycle can be summarized like this:

  1. the sun comes out, heats the moist air and the air rises into cooler air above
  2. the air hits the cooler air, condenses and releases its moisture only to fall as rain
  3. the rainshower passes and the sun comes out
  4. go to 1.

At any rate, wanting to take advantage of the mostly blue sky, we left and headed east towards the library. Yes, we both saw the dark grey rolling mass approaching but we also thought it would just pass us to the east as so many of these rainshowers do.

We were wrong.

By the time we got to about 1 or 2 kilometres from our house, the few telltale drops had multiplied into a light drizzle. By the time we exited the road and onto the bike path near the library, the light drizzle had - um - matured into a drenching rain. We wound up taking shelter at the library drive-through book drop off (yes, those exist) and just waited the storm out. Soaked to the skin, we decided to just head back home but we didn't go directly home. Instead, we took a roundabout way to get there. We also noticed that the streets were bone dry - as though the rainstorm we had been caught in hadn't even touched the place a mere few blocks away.

No matter, I had a lot of fun and, besides, what gets wet will dry.

The second trip was one I took myself. It was the trip we had originally planned to take on the Saturday. As Adam had other things to get done, and before the day warmed up too much, I decided to head out on my own. Once again, I rode towards the library, dodging puddles and some amazing frost heaves and other potholes. This time, I zoomed beyond the drive-through book drop off and continued onto Lorry Greenberg. It was mid-morning so there were no cars around in any great numbers. There was, however, a squirrel who seemed bound and determined to get hit by a vehicle no matter what. That vehicle would turn out to be mine.

Squirrels aren't known for their intelligence but I like to think that they, like all animals, have a natural tendency to avoid getting injured or killed...not so with this squirrel. I saw him well back and I had assumed he saw me as well. I approached. He stood on someone's front lawn and seemed to be watching me, timing things as to maximize his chances of getting hit. Sure enough, as I cycled along, he darted out in front of me only to get his furry tail just lightly nicked by my front left wheel. There's no point in slowing down or speeding up as they can adjust their leap to accommodate your speed. The squirrel was okay as he just tripped a bit and then ran off. Maybe he was heading to the nearest major road so he could play dodge ball with the cars there.

Squirrels are just phenomenally stupid.

Nevertheless, no one was the worse for wear and I successfully did my run along Lorry Greenberg, past Conroy and onto Blohm and around that suburban area before reversing my tracks. Like Saturday's extra venture, I turned onto Albion Road and rode up there to get home - just to get some extra distance there.

Tally for both days was 19.1 kilometres done. That leaves me 116.8 to go as of today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The trend goes on...

As mentioned earlier, we've been mired in a summer of high heat, wildly swinging humidity and utter drought conditions. People's lawns are predominantly brown (well, except for those who ripped out their dormant lawns and replaced them with fresh sod) and, overall, the population has become rather cranky.

This is what climate change looks like - increasingly unpredictable weather where places that don't normally get drenched year round are dealing with endless floods and places where rainy periods are reduced to parched landscapes.

This has translated into a really good season for triking, though. The days, though getting noticeably shorter, remain sunny, windless and inviting. So, I went out accompanied by both Adam and Rachael.

This morning's venture had us heading east toward the Greenboro branch of the library but then continuing along the neighbourhood streets towards Conroy and to points beyond. It was a lovely journey out this morning and, best of all, before the real grit of the day's heat could settle onto an increasingly weary city.

This was a quick out and back returning the same way we went out but, as always, it was really good to get out.

Tally for today was 9.8 kilometres done. That leaves me 135.9 to go as of today.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

5.4 and 6.1 - this kind of triking is lots of fun!

OMG I am so sorry for that awful title. I really have drifted into the horrible world of really bad rhyming couplets, haven't I?

Anyway, the first trip saw me heading out on my own and, essentially, following the same route we did last time. The day was hot, dry and with very little wind. I was glad I wore my shorts in the +30C weather.

My venture also had me taking note of the number of people who seemed to have replaced their sun scorched drought stricken brown lawns with much lusher and much newer sod. I'm never sure why people do that kind of thing since brown grass isn't dead but just dormant. Once it rains again the grass will soften once more and become the vibrant emerald green we are so used to seeing...and expecting. However, thanks to the spectre of climate change, what would ordinarily be a summer of sunshine and rainy periods has, instead, just been a summer of desiccating, parched landscapes reminiscent of places like Arizona and not Canada's capital city.

The second trip I took, a couple of days later, had me following the streets and intercepting the bike paths towards the Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. As with my earlier trip, the day was hot, sunny, dry and with no wind to speak of. I set out, not having any particular goal in mind but to exceed the 5.4 kilometre trips I had been taking. The pathways encircling the library are very well travelled by cyclist, jogger and stroller alike but what really got my attention was the condition the pathways were in.

If you think that it's fun cycling along pathways that are not much more than a collection of frost heaves, potholes and cracks the size of the San Andreas fault lines then you would be mistaken. I found myself weaving around the worst of the potholes, cracks and other nasties as though I were a downhill skier. It got to the point, though, where my eyeballs just couldn't handle the relentless bumping and bouncing around so I switched to the side streets around the library - at least just until my eyeballs could stop bouncing around and my vision was restored to something useful.

No matter, though, I had a lot of fun and my ever trusty catrike survived the whole thing...my eyes, however, took a little longer.

Tally for both trips was 11.5 kilometres done. That leaves me 145.7 to go as of today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5.8 and feeling great!!

Okay, I admit that was a terrible rhyme but it is accurate. I did 5.8 kilometres today and I'm feeling great about it.

The weather here in Ottawa has been grim. Wilting under major drought conditions, it's been too dreadfully hot and humid to really go anywhere. So, we were very happy when, yesterday, we had some thundershowers drift through here. Yes, it actually rained yesterday bringing much relief to homeowners and outdoor plants alike. Now, today, it's still cloudy and quite warm - but it's not nearly as blisteringly hot, humid and even the north breezes make being outside a very pleasant venture. It's typical post cold front weather which, given the summer we've been having, is a very welcome thing.

We wanted to avoid any kind of rush hour so we didn't head out until around 8:30 or so. Plus, our trip today would only be around the neighbourhood and avoiding any kind of major road. We went down Bridlepath and towards the nearby suburban streets. There were a few cars but nothing too challenging and, better yet, drivers were actually paying attention to the road and not sending text messages. So, we rode around, essentially, very quiet streets. The cardinals and chickadees were out and making the only real noise we could hear although the persistent hum of traffic on Albion Road was also audible.

Our ventures continued around the streets where we could take in everyone's brown lawns in all their glory. I'm sure yesterday's deluge (13.0mm - a little more than half an inch) was cause to celebrate (it was) so the dormant lawns may actually revive a little bit. Indeed, I saw a few lawns whose general brown had just the slightest tinge of light green. We really do need the rain and, hopefully, we will get more. I don't trike in the rain but I can manage to sneak out in between showers/deluges.

We did get home without any problems and are now just enjoying the rest of the morning.

Today's tally was 5.8 kilometres done. That leaves me 157.2 to go as of today.

Monday, June 4, 2012

First 30 of the season!

Despite it having been quite cool and damp yesterday, we decided to do the Colonel By Sunday bike day anyway. Actually, yesterday's venture was that much more special because my daughter, Rachael, was with us. Our good friends had a bicycle they loaned to us for the season specifically for her use and as she really wanted to get out before the forecast rainshowers we thought it best to head out early.

So, after a good breakfast we got ourselves ready to take on the much beloved Colonel By bike day. Rachael is familiar with the program but hadn't actually experienced it herself. Her keenness to get going was palpable and so we headed out right at 8:30. The sun was very weak, a sort of yellow-ish grey-brown ball peering through thickening clouds and the day wasn't all that warm. But, it wasn't miserable either so happily we headed out.

Rachael wasn't too familiar with the route so Adam and I took turns just hanging back with her as we guided her along Hunt Club Road which had been swept clear of the broken glass and various car parts so commonly experienced. Luckily, it was early enough that there weren't too many other cars on the road so that made things easier to negotiate. The last thing anyone wanted for Rachael (or anyone else for that matter) was to have a bad experience dealing with inattentive car drivers - especially on the first day out of the season.

The three of us wound our way up McCarthy and headed north towards the more suburban quiet of the area. Our goal was to get to Mooney's Bay park as, from there, it's a very simple matter of hooking onto the bike paths and, eventually, the closed-to-motor-vehicles Colonel By. We try to time our departure so that we get to the barrier by around 9:00 am when the road is closed to cars and this morning would prove to be no exception to that rule.

The clouds were jumbly and tumbly as they bounced along in the brisk upper winds but it was neither very cold nor was the sky immediately threatening. What Rachael noticed was just how much quieter Colonel By is without any motor vehicles driving alongside - as in noticeably quieter. She really seemed to like that (which we knew she would) and the three of us kept going, cycling and zooming along and into town. There weren't nearly as many others on the road as there could have been and I attribute that to the fact that it was quite cool, overcast and just not that lovely sunny warmth that so inspires cycling.

Admittedly, the trip into town was fairly nondescript although it was very nice to see clusters of some wild looking flowers providing some badly needed colour in an otherwise monochromatic world.

Finally, we got to the very end of the Colonel By portion of the journey. Next to us was the Convention Centre (the "dead mackerel" we call it and which Rachael calls the "pineapple grenade") so we stopped for about ten minutes or so to just rest and re-group. The skies were starting to grow even more ominous and the first of a few spits of rain had begun to dance around us. Isn't that always the way it is? If it's going to rain, it'll start as soon as we are at the farthest point in our journeys - it almost always works out that way.

So, we turned around and, essentially, re-traced our route back along Colonel By to Hog's Back and into Mooney's Bay park. At that point, a genuine shower settled onto us for a good ten minutes so we three sought shelter around the closed concession stands to wait out the weather. At least we knew it was coming so we weren't too surprised.

Eventually, the rain had let up to merely a thick-ish drizzle and so we left the park and headed back home. We encountered our friends who loaned us the bicycle for Rachael for the summer and so we spent a few minutes talking and catching up and making plans to maybe head out one day all together. However, it was getting late and the skies were getting dark once more so we all grudgingly parted ways with our friends heading off in one direction while we three merely came home.

By the time we got back, we all needed some towels to mop up the good soaking we had had. It sure felt nice to head out but a lot nicer to get back home, warm and dry and enjoying the afterglow of an awesome run.

Today's tally was 30.0 kilometres done. That leaves me 163.0 to go as of today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another gorgeous day, so why waste it?

After yesterday's thorough drenching from the numerous showers, this morning's bright sunlight brought a sudden riot of light green. It also brought with it the promise of a great day to head out triking. With climate change, the seasons become somewhat less predictable so now, more than ever, am I reminded to head out when I can.

I had my usual breakfast of rice and awesome java. Then, once all that was digested, I showered, dressed, put on sunscreen (a must for all days of the year - even winter) and got ready to zip out for a "quick 10 k run". As the day was mine to do with what I wished, I decided to go for a good run along the numerous pathways that lace throughout the city, including here. I didn't so much have a destination in mind as a minimum number of kilometres I wanted to ride and today's was 10 kilometres, no less than 5 out and 5 back.

So, I checked my trike tires for proper inflation and otherwise suited up (meaning helmet, pant straps and sunglasses). I left and immediately found myself immersed in the tail-end of what passes for rush hour here. My trip took me up Bridlepath, crossing Hunt Club and continuing in a generally easterly direction on Daze. I crossed Bank Street, continued onto Cahill and sought the earliest exit onto the pathways, right by a bus stop. Once on the pathways, I encountered very well behaved dog owners who kept their pets on leashes and even picked up after them. Thank you guys.

What struck me was just how many joggers and other cyclists were out there on the path too and that filled me with a sense of expanded safety. It's not that Ottawa is a dangerous city (it's no more or less dangerous than most other Canadian cities) but the bike paths in suburbia can get rather sparsely used so if there is some psycho lurking in the bushes...then I can outrun 'em even though I'd rather not see one in the first place.

The other thing I noticed was that, despite the sunshine and lack of any discernible wind, it was actually quite chilly - and here it is the end of May. The day would warm up substantially later on but I wasn't there yet.

In no time did I find myself leaving the bike pathway right at the library. Sidling through the parking lot edge, it was a matter of a quick left turn onto Lorry Greenberg before I could resume my happy jaunt through suburbia once more. School was on and there were many parents or caretakers dropping kids off on the side of the road so that made for a busy portion of the day's trip. Finally, I got to the corner of Lorry Greenberg and Conroy where there was virtually no traffic to speak of. I guess rush hour ended.

I went straight through the intersection and arrived at Lorry Greenberg and Blohm. A quick right turn and the silence of the street played nicely into the stillness of the growing morning. I kept going, feeling energized by the now warming (but not too warm) air until I got to Karsh Drive. I slid around the corner, taking somewhat of a wide sweep and noticed that my trip odometer read 4.8 kilometres. Close enough, I thought and then kept curving gently around the road until I got back to Lorry Greenberg and Blohm. I turned onto Lorry Greenberg and then kept going straight through, happy that I didn't have to wait long before getting a green light.

It was only a matter of a very short while that I re-acquired the pathways around the library. I hopped onto the pathways and followed them back to Cahill. A right turn onto Cahill and I continued until I got to Albion. I decided then that rather than risk life and limb going straight through Bank and Cahill and onto Daze (I got my reasons), that I would turn left onto Albion and make up the remaining 200 metres I was short when wanting a minimum of 5 kilometres going one way. Besides, I felt energized, and both the trike and the conditions were perfect. I practically flew up Albion until I got to the top of the hill where it meets up at Bridlepath. The rest of the journey home was a speedy trip where everyone I saw smiled at me and me at them. It was truly a lovely and magnificent morning's trip. Best of all, I'm more than 1/3 of my way towards meeting my goal of 300 kilometres - and it's still just May.

Last standing was 203.5 kilometres
Today's tally was 10.5 kilometres done
That leaves me 193.0 to go as of today.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Quiet trip on a gorgeous day

It's as though someone flipped a switch and the perpetual chill of a cooler-than-we'd-like-to-see-May became instant summer. It was hot yesterday and it's still hot today. As today's high is forecast to reach 30°C (85°F), we felt it best to head out this morning.

We left and had smooth sailing throughout the whole nearly 14 kilometre trip as much because we were out fairly early in the day as that there were almost no cars on the roads. This is the May 2-4 weekend (aka Victoria Day long weekend) and with awesome weather today's trip was nothing less than gorgeous.

When we were out, the temperature was that exquisite warm where sitting outside wearing only a housecoat and nursing a hot cuppa coffee (or an iced tea) would have been so wonderful. Instead, our trek through numerous neighbourhoods revealed just how richly green all the leaves on all the trees, bushes and gardens are now. Garden plots were a hazy display of multicoloured flowers among that bright green. The very air was infused with that lightly sweet scent of lavender and the warm bright sunshine almost completely washed away that powdery blue sky of almost-late May.

Even though we knew the daytime breezes would start soon, we had no headwinds or gusts to deal with and so our journey all the way home was done fairly easily. What really helped, too, was the relative absence of cars.

Perhaps everyone is out of town for the May-2-4-time-to-open-up-and-air-out-that-musty-cottage weekend.


Last standing was 217.3 kilometres
Today's tally was 13.8 kilometres done
That leaves me 203.5 to go as of today.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Picnics, triking and the quadracycle

Yesterday, May 13th, was Mother's Day. As my 21 year old daughter is in town to visit for awhile, AND the weather was really nice, we decided to pack a picnic lunch and head out. Adam and I have not only catrikes but we also have what seems to be Ottawa's one and only quadracycle. With the three of us heading out, and our quadracycle could only carry two people, we all agreed that Adam and my daughter, would take the quadracycle and I would take my catrike.

So, after packing a good lunch, we headed out. Driving down Bridlepath towards Trapper's the riding was easy. The roads were surprisingly quiet considering it was just around noon on Mother's Day. Perhaps everyone else had already brought their mothers to the restaurant for the requisite brunch and we were the only ones on the road.

It didn't take us long to get to the park. Called Fawn Meadow Park, it's one of those quaint neighbourhood parks with swings, a large jungle gym for the wee ones and, in this case, a large plastic sea monster. Presumably we could climb on it just like small kids. Hmm...

Anyway, we arrived at the covered pavilion, parked the quadracycle and my catrike and proceeded to enjoy our lunches. Admittedly, the breeze was kinda chilly but we had a good time anyway. This is what life is all about, at least to me it is.

Once lunch had settled, my daughter and I decided to go "play on the swings" while Adam took a video of us horsing around in the park in general. After that was done, the three of us decided to play frisbee on the mostly dry grassy field. Like my daughter, I have no talent for frisbee playing but that didn't stop us from having a really good time. After about twenty minutes of that, it was time to go - but we weren't going home just yet. The day was still too good to pack it in.

We then drove east along Queensdale, crossed Bank Street and found ourselves in that small area of Blossom Park we often trek through. We went north on 6th street, to Athans, Levadia and then down that little connecting pathway that joins Levadia to Carriage Hill. Carriage Hill to Sable Ridge and then a quick run down to Hunt Club had us all getting there while the light was still green. We all zoomed through until we got to the library and then intercepted the pathways there. A quick saunter through there and we wound up back on Cahill to Bank Street. Once we crossed Bank Street it was a simple trip up the slight hill that is Daze (pronounced DAH-zay and not DAYS), to cross Hunt Club once again and then onward. The streets remained light for traffic overall and the skies remained that gorgeous blue so typical of May.

The weather is supposed to stay nice for most of this week (plus or minus the odd shower) so I fully expect to head out a few more times. Stay tuned, right?

Last standing was 227.6 kilometres
Today's tally was 10.3 kilometres done
That leaves me 217.3 to go as of today.


Monday, April 16, 2012

foray through Vincent Massey

Well, by Vincent Massey is meant that gorgeous valley-like park that lies just north of Hog's Back park/beach and sits just across the Rideau River from Carleton University. It's a gorgeous park, thick with trees, concession stands (not open yet but pretty to behold anyway) and a few dips into tall deciduous forests. It's one of the most gorgeous cycle paths to take during the annual colour change of autumn - but it's only April and the branches on the trees have only just the tiniest tinge of green.

The morning was spent doing domestic chores. I planted some Physalis (aka Chinese lanterns) seeds in our back yard along with some Aquilegia (Columbine) seeds in our two large beige barrels. Another sign that spring is truly here...so were the winds we faced when we left after lunch to head out on a trike trip.

The spring weather this year has been chilly-bordering-on-cold, dry and exceptionally windy..as in gusts up to 50 km/hr. But this day, the temperature was a decent 17C and the winds were not too brisk although they seemed to switch randomly throughout our trip so that we were always into the wind. The sun made a few feeble attempts to finish burning off the last of the fog/mist we had had so conditions were actually quite good.

No, seriously, they were good. Too hot is unbearable as is too cold - these conditions were good.

Luckily for us, car traffic wasn't too bad. I like to think that people around here are actually considering such realities as rising gas prices ($1.33/litre at last check) before mindlessly jumping into their cars and zooming off to somewhere but I'm probably wrong. Yet, our foray up Hunt Club and heading west to McCarthy Road was one of ease. I am not in the least bit afraid of sharing the road with any number of vehicles but I also admit that it is nice when there aren't too many other cars. I don't have a hate-on for cars but any car/cycle accident is always bad for the cyclist so the fewer chances of any collisions, the better it works for me.

Once heading north on McCarthy, it was smooth sailing up to Southmore, a genuinely suburban street. There, we passed a lot of homeowners raking up the thatch from their lawns and quite a lot of early season flowers were blooming nicely despite the fairly chilly and dry conditions we have had lately.

We followed our usual route along Otterson to Walkley where Otterson changes name (a common feature here in Ottawa) to become Springland to Mooney's Bay Place. It was there where a woman and a young child on bicycles thought it would be okay to run the stop sign and I found I had to veer quite far out to avoid hitting the little girl. A few stern words from Adam to the effect that cyclists cannot just run stop signs and, a few minutes later, we had safely (and properly) crossed Riverside and got right into Mooney's Bay Park. If I sound too edgy about cyclists running stop signs, I am. It's bad enough that car drivers hate having to share the roads with cyclists because they think we're too unpredictable without having cyclists act too unpredictably.

Typically, we would trickle north through the park and exit onto Hog's Back Road turning left to curl around and go under the bridge and onto the bike path that parallels Colonel By Drive. This time, we turned right and meandered under the bridge to find ourselves right at Hog's Back Falls. The bike path continued until we got to the switchback heading down and riding along Heron Rd. Another few turns and we found ourselves neatly deposited into Vincent Massey Park - one of the city of Ottawa's most beautiful places, in my humble opinion. Although it wasn't freezing cold, it wasn't really picnic weather either but that didn't seem to stop some people from coming out and kicking a ball around or otherwise enjoying the greening ground.

We kept going on the bike path (this was almost all done on bike paths, by the way) and found ourselves ducking under the Bronson Avenue bridge. We were heading towards Billings Bridge and having a great ride at the same time. We got to the corner of Riverside Drive and Bank Street. We were still on the bike path but it was also a sidewalk so we did have to keep that in mind in case there were some people pushing strollers or walking with canes.

Further we continued until the Ottawa Hospital Riverside campus was visible and getting bigger as we approached. Finally, we pulled over at a park bench, took a break, revelled in the gorgeous scenery and then turned around and headed back.

We retraced our route and pulled into our driveway eagerly anticipating a smoothie. We had some bananas and some strawberries along with some vanilla yogurt so we wanted to replenish ourselves with a smoothie of those ingredients. Okay, Adam added some skim milk, ice cubes and some hot chocolate powder but the result was amazing.

Each day is amazing.


Last standing was 248 kilometres
Today's tally was 21.0 kilometres done
That leaves me 227.6 kilometres to go as of today.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My timing was good...

I couldn't have asked for a better day than today. By mid-morning, the temperature was a balmy 13C and, best of all, no howling winds and especially not from the north. North winds really belong in the winter and not in nearly-mid-April.

Today's trip was not an especially long one nor did I try to break any kind of speed record. I was by myself with Adam having been at his volunteer stint at our local ISP, National Capital Freenet (NCF). They needed him in for the whole day on Friday so that left me the whole day here...and not all that willing to stay indoors on such a nice day either.

So, around 10:30 or so, I left to go on a lovely solo trip around the neighbourhood. This time, I decided to head south and so rode down Bridlepath to Trappers. Along that lovely and very quiet street, I had the whole lane to myself. In fact, I had the whole road to myself and so took in the lovely sunshine and soft blue skies. Meandering around the streets, I eventually found myself at Albion. A right turn onto a virtually empty street (rare for Albion), I sailed along until I got to Queensdale. Then, a left turn and I was able to gun it all the way to Queensdale and Bank Street. I crossed the intersection (the light was green just as I came to a tentative stop in anticipation of the green light) and continued into that cute little neighbourhood that always smells like woodsmoke and looks more like a little woodland summer village than the 'burbs.

Before long, I found myself passing schools and then onto Levadia. There is a little pathway (fenced on either side I might add). Trickling down got me to the Quail Ridge neighbourhood of interlocking crescents bounded by obscenely large (imho) homes. A quick zoom through there and I was at the corner of Lorry Greenberg and Hunt Club. Again, there was little to no traffic so my stop at the red light left me enough time to note the real dearth of cars. I am sure an hour earlier would have presented a different story but not at this point.

A quick clip across Hunt Club one the light turned green and I rode along until I got to where the bike paths form tributaries around the library. I turned onto the pathways and it was a matter of a short jaunt before coming out onto Cahill. There were a few light industrial vehicles (as I've said before, Cahill is almost always being torn up at this time of year for no discernible reason) and a few people were waiting at the few bus stops on Cahill. Once I got to Albion again, I decided to take it.

I turned left and rode along in awesome comfort. Even the trek up the hill to Bridlepath was but nothing today. The rest of my journey home was a period of quiet happiness and utter comfort.

All in all, a neat day. So far, my goal of riding 300 kilometres (or more) this season is working out well...so far...

Last standing was 257.2 kilometres
Today's tally was 8.6 kilometres done
That leaves me 248.6 kilometres to go as of today.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another sign of spring

Ottawa's National Capital Commission (aka NCC) is set to launch the Bixi bike share program today. The bikes themselves aren't set for release to users until Sunday but the CBC news item does provide some interesting stats from 2011 which I think bears sharing here.

There were roughly 22,000 trips last year with a little under 175 subscribers, both monthly subscribers and year-long. There were a reported 7,400 users of the Bixi bikes as well and I certainly remember seeing a few of them on the bike paths, most notably the one on Colonel By Drive.

I am assuming that the NCC is hoping for a larger uptake of the Bixi bikes this cycling season which lasted 6 months last year.

This is, in my view, one of the most socially responsible ventures the city of Ottawa has ever undertaken and I suspect a part of the reason for the relatively weak (in my view) uptake last year is that the program itself is so new. A lot of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec residents already own bikes, recumbent trikes and other human-powered devices. That, in combination with the single-gear Bixi bikes, probably accounted for the modest uptake.

Weather plays a HUGE role in how these kinds of programs fare and with the very long and warm summer we had last year, that would have helped to increase ridership. Summers in Ottawa are quite variable and though almost always warm, can also be perpetually wet...as in the summer (?) of 2008 kind of wet. So, it is my deepest hope that the Bixi bike season will be a good and long one and that many more subscribers and casual users will take advantage of this incredibly great program.

So, if you are reading this and you want to learn more about the Bixi bike rental program, here is the link and, no, I do not work for them.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mooney's Bay and slightly beyond

To describe the past couple of weeks as windy would be like describing the ocean as damp. It hasn't been that warm either so triking hasn't really been much on our minds. Adam went out on foot this morning to buy milk and came home declaring that he should have worn gloves. It was only +7C but with a stream of winds from the north, it felt more like just above freezing.

I understood.

We were originally going to head out earlier this morning but chose to head out after lunch instead. The winds were still brisk but the sun was shining and it was warm enough that we didn't have to worry about freezing. Remember that catriking is supposed to be fun, not something to endure, right?

So, we headed out, up Bridlepath, onto Hunt Club heading west and then up MacCarthy. It was like so many other trips we had taken before. It felt good just being out and about and heading up to Mooney's Bay. We arrived there and noticed that there were a lot of people there playing and having fun and even barbecuing. Mooney's Bay, or the park therein, is relatively well sheltered from the winds so we stopped there and felt the warmth of an early spring afternoon. It's Easter Sunday for Christians, Passover for Jews and just a plain ol' Sunday in the park for us.

I wasn't too tired yet but didn't want to go too much further. It's always a debate within myself as to whether I should head out earlier in the day when I have the energy to do so and can go further - but in generally colder and windier conditions or else wait until later in the day when it's warmer but where my stamina is just not as good as I would like. I opted for the latter and Adam didn't seem to mind.

We snaked along the pathway, passing rollerbladers, under-dressed adults with equally under-dressed children and clusters of kids playing with those bright large rubber balls whose emergence after winter was nice to see.

We exited Mooney's Bay and turned left onto the bike path on Hog's Back Road only to re-intercept the pathway going around the corner and under Hog's Back Road itself. It was really nice to see other people out and about but, alas, I was getting tired enough that I felt we should stop. I pulled over to a little bench and trash can (aka typical picnic stop). We took a break and then turned around and retraced our steps back home.

Once home, I made the most awesome smoothie this side of the solar system. I made a chocolate smoothie for Adam and I added some coffee powder into mine. It was the first time I had made a smoothie without using any fruit but that was only because we didn't have any fruit to put in a smoothie in the first place.

Today's total is 13.7 kilometres which means:

Last standing was 270.9 kilometres
Today's tally was 13.7 done
That leaves me 257.2 to go as of today.

Now, go kite flying!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A too quick jaunt and a way too sticky front shifter

The sun almost fooled me. This morning dawned very bright and the sun a most welcome diamond brightness in the sky. The winds weren't too busy, unlike yesterday, and there was no short term risk of any precipitation.

To me, that spelled a perfect opportunity for a quick trip by myself as Adam had to stay home to take care of some other tasks.

After a breakfast of rice (I am very gluten sensitive so don't eat the typical toast for breakfast) and my usual lethal java, I put on my windbreaker, my running shoes and otherwise got ready to head out. I would only be about a half hour, I reassured Adam, so I had no concerns. It was mid-morning so car traffic would be light which was a bonus as far as I was concerned.

So, I put on my helmet, deposited my pouch (I am not really a "purse" kinda gal) in one of my side panniers, wrapped my pant straps around my ankles, checked my trike over visually, concluded all was well and then plunked myself onto my seat. I didn't have a specific plan for my morning's journey per se but thought I would just head off in a sort of easterly direction.

I glided ahead and then took off down the street. All was well and I found myself travelling smoothly along the street. By the time I turned left (north) onto Bridlepath, however, I noticed that the very slight breeze had evolved into a fairly gusty and brisk wind. Moreover IT WAS COLD so I was relieved for the windbreaker and the thin gloves too. At this time of year, having cold hands is common and very uncomfortable for triking. I have seen bicyclists with red, raw looking frozen hands so all of you bicyclists will know what I mean. It's not the ambient, sensible temperature but the relative airflow that seems to act like a high velocity frozen windtunnel. Not the least bit enjoyable unless you're wearing gloves. They don't have to be heavy mitts like astronauts wear but they should be at least relatively windproof and comfortable.

It wasn't until I crossed Hunt Club heading towards Bank Street that I noticed a little smidgy problem with the trike. Adam had recently adjusted my left brake so it wouldn't sound like a smoke detector going off for no reason and that worked very well I am pleased to report at this time. What I did notice, however, was that my front set of sprockets was in the smallest, lowest setting when I normally keep it in the middle (second) setting. Here I was at top gear for the sprocket and just not hitting those speeds I have become totally accustomed to.

"No problem," I thought grasping the left shifter and assuming it would turn and that I could re-set my front sprocket to the middle ring.

No such luck.

Try as I might - and I did try - that left shifter just would not move. I crossed Bank Street with no problems and found myself deposited onto Cahill. I moved ahead and then decided to pull into someone's driveway to try and see if I could unstick this left shifter. The smallest ring, gears 1-9, is just too slow for me. This isn't me bragging - it's just a simple fact. I use the smallest sprocket ring only when climbing really steep hills (think bike path coming around and towards Vincent Massey Park) and almost never the 3rd sprocket (light speed). For me the second sprocket works best and I just couldn't get the chain back onto it. So, At the corner of Albion Road and Cahill, I called it quits, turned right (south mostly) and headed to Hunt Club Road.

There, I turned right again and headed back along the almost completely empty road until I reintercepted Bridlepath. I got into the left lane at Hunt Club and Bridlepath, waited about a minute (maybe) before the left turn signal came on and then eased around and cycled the last few hundred metres to our driveway.

I was not impressed. I had only managed to put 3.0 kilometres on my trike today. Yes, it was cold and windy but I was dressed for conditions so that shouldn't have mattered. I was mentally and physically prepared to put on at least 8 to 10 kilometres and here I barely did a third of that.

Next time, I intend on doing more than a mere 3.0 kilometres. Maybe later 3.0 will seem like an amazing accomplishment but not today. Still, I can say,

Last standing was 273.9 kilometres to go
Today's tally was 3.0 done
That leaves me 270.9 to go as of today.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday, March 31

It's cold today - compared to the summer-like weather we had had a little over a week ago. It was pretty breezy, too, for going out triking so light jackets and gloves were called for. At least it was sunny and the breezes were settling down enough so that it shouldn't be too grim heading out.

The route we picked out was one I had suggested. I had us going up Bridlepath to Hunt Club, crossing Hunt Club to Daze and then on past Bank Street and on Cahill. It's a Saturday so there were no road works vehicles out there. The street sweepers were supposedly out there but we hadn't seen any of them at that point. Cahill hadn't been swept yet so we really had to straddle the line of finely crushed gravel and the road itself ever wary of cars and buses that were also out there.

Rounding Cahill and turning left quickly found us on the recreational pathway that meanders its way to the Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Familiar with that path, we zoomed through there passing a few pedestrians who were also out there. There were even a few dog owners out there but, thankfully (very thankfully) their dogs were all on leashes and otherwise everyone was well behaved.

It was a matter of a few minutes before we found ourselves at the corner of the turn-in to the library parking lot and Lorry Greenberg. We turned left onto Lorry Greenberg, noticed that it hadn't been swept either, and otherwise continued our way. By then the winds had really dropped off so that helped to keep us comfortable. No matter how much heat one generates pedalling, there is something about beating into the wind that makes for a less pleasant trip. Thankfully, not only had the wind dropped but the bright sunshine just made for a much nicer trip.

We crossed Conroy at Lorry Greenberg and triked to Blohm, a meandering circle of a street riddled with houses, parks and all manner of townhouses and other typical suburban buildings. We followed Blohm all the way to Karsh, turned down it and followed that street around until we met up once again with Lorry Greenberg. Turning down Karsh Adam and I both immediately noticed that what slight breeze was out there was now at our back so both building up speed and doing so in comfort would be easier. Car traffic was light so that was a bonus.

We crossed Conroy again and stayed on Lorry Greenberg until we got to Hunt Club Road. We saw our first street sweeper chugging along Sable Ridge Drive, which is right across from the Lorry Greenberg/Hunt Club intersection. Ottawa has a number of streets which change name at seemingly random locations. Russell Road going north from Russell, for instance, becomes Hawthorne for a short bit and then Saint Laurent even though it's the same stretch of pavement. I realize it's because a given road can join up with another given road and assume that name but without street signs telling you this, you'd never know where you are.

Sable Ridge Drive is a street in an area that is a bit of an uphill climb but, with 27 gears at my disposal, heading up that road (instead of the more usual down) is just not an issue. At the top there is a tiny fenced pathway that spits one out onto Levadia. Then, we followed that to Athans Avenue. A left turn onto Athans followed by a quick right onto 6th and down quite a bit brought us to Queensdale, that lonnnnng stretch of almost perfectly straight road I so enjoy. We got to the end at Albion, turned right and then a quick left onto Emerald Gate Avenue. We were close to home by then and I was still feeling quite energetic - which is odd considering the time of day.

From Emerald Gate to Autumnwood, we followed our way to the little recreational pathway cutting around Trapper's Park. Onto Trapper's Road itself, we cycled to the end and found ourselves at Bridlepath. Trapper's and Bridlepath form a 3-way stop. By the time I got to the intersection, the pick-up truck on my left tried to wave me through and I really REALLY wish drivers wouldn't do that. If I don't have the right of way, then I do not go. There were other vehicles any one of which could have chosen to go or to otherwise cause problems. I waved the pick-up truck driver through and then took my turn. I turned left and headed home.

It was a good trip and I got home still feeling energized. Maybe it was the really good lunch I had had, maybe it was the pretty good weather, maybe it was just that I wanted to go out for a trike trip. No matter - it was a good trip and I can now say that I have shaved another 12.9 kilometres from my stated goal.

The forecast for this week is calling for some rain and cold showers tomorrow but a return to sunshine and half-way-decent temperatures for the early part of next week. I hope I will get another chance to keep shaving more kilometres from my goal.

Last standing was 286.8 kilometres to go
Today's tally was 12.9 done
That leaves me 273.9 to go as of today.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

catriking day 2

With the prospect of a cold front bringing with it cooler temperatures and the risk of a few showers, we decided to do a catrike trip early this morning. The weather was lovely (it still is as I sit and write this) and, best of all, traffic was light.

I am perpetually amazed at just how careless a lot of drivers and cyclists alike are. Stop signs seem to be cute but otherwise ignored by cars and bikes, along with signalling one's turn and for cyclists to indicate that they're slowing down and/or stopping.

'Nuff said on that.

Our trip this morning had us travel down Bridlepath towards Trapper's, around the streets there and then onto Albion. From there, we continued to Queensdale and then headed east towards Bank Street and suburbia beyond.

Once more we found ourselves travelling around neighbourhoods that feature large homes and lots of trash emerging from the last of winter's retreat. But, other than having to maneuver here and there to avoid frost heaves, piles of gravel and potholes today's venture was fairly uneventful. We were serenaded along our way by the chirping of chickadees, the do-weep do weep chyurp chyurp chyurp of cardinals (vocal cords with wings I call 'em) and the quiet cooing of mourning doves. Spring is definitely here.

From suburbia, we wound our way through the Carriage Hill area before finding ourselves neatly deposited right at Hunt Club and Lorry Greenberg. The library was only a block or two from there and so we kept going until we got to the pathway that meanders around this part of the city, with the library being merely a concrete blip in the way.

We took that, wound our way through and got to Cahill. Another way I can tell it's spring is the presence of road works crews on Cahill. It just seems to me that Cahill is always being torn up and reassembled in the spring. Then, we got to Cahill and Bank Street, ambled our way through the intersection. Our light turns green a few blessed seconds before the opposite side does to allow buses and/or cycles to go straight through an otherwise turn-only intersection. The (very) slight uphill along now Daze got us to Hunt Club and Bridlepath and we were a mere few hundred metres from our driveway.

I had wanted to do a good 8.0 kilometres but when I pulled into the driveway, saw that I was off by about 70 metres. I rolled my eyes, announced to Adam that I'd be back in a few seconds and then did a quick buzz through the north end of the cul-de-sac on our street. I got back in the few seconds I said it would take and can now say I did another 8.0 kilometres today.

Yesterday's standing was 294.8kilometres to go
Today's tally was 8.0 done
That leaves me 286.8 to go as of today.

Now the cold front can some sailing through. I'm home safe'n'sound and enjoying a cuppa cocoa in the back yard while writing this blog entry.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

First trip of 2012...early at that!

Despite the ridiculous myth that Canada is a frozen wasteland between September and June, our recent heat wave has brought people out in shorts and t-shirts. It also brought out our catrikes and we took our first trip of the (hopefully lengthy) season.

A posting or two back, I indicated that my goal for this year is to cycle a minimum of 300 kilometres in one season. If the rest of the year is anything like what we've been experiencing weather-wise, I am sure I will easily meet that goal.

One of the more unpleasant side-effects to the Gilenya I take daily for my MS is hip and leg pain and sometimes that pain is excruciating and disabling. One of my worries had been whether or not I would even be able to trike this year as activity sometimes brings relief...and sometimes activity makes the pain worse. Well, I am pleased to report that after this first jaunt around the neighbourhood, I haven't felt any worsening of any pain though I haven't felt any less of it either. No matter, the day was perfect and we had absolutely no reason to not head out for even a short trip.

I did 5.2 kilometres so, out of 300, that leaves me 294.8 kilometres to go until the snow flies once again at the end of this year.

There was one small sticky point that I feel I should mention here. Even though we didn't have nearly as much snow, or even as much winter overall, this year, the city still managed to generously sprinkle many layers of gravel all over the road. So, while the snow and ice are gone, the gravel remains in thick piles and streaks on the streets. We really need to have the street sweepers out. Those little tiny bits of gravel may not be too harmful in general, but some of those little stones have very sharp points on them any one of which can latch onto a tire and deflate it in short order. I still remember what happened last year. (yes, this is a link)

But, today's little trip went very well despite having to do a slalom sort of triking on some roads. What I spent a fair amount of time thinking about, though, wasn't just that it is a beautiful, perfect day but just how early in the year the warm-bordering-on-really-hot weather has moved in. Barely had I put our skis away for the season when we were back out on our trikes. Climate change, something I firmly believe in, has really made the weather unpredictable. It's also given me the chance to not take things for granted. So, my intention is to head out when the weather allows for it - just as long as I can do my 300+ kilometres then that'll be just fine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My goal is S.M.A.R.T.

I wrote yesterday about the definite end of winter, a process which continues this morning in the persistent drumming rain. I also mentioned the setting of goals and the five principles I employ in goal setting. They're the same 5 principles I used to teach when I was running a counselling practice so I am very familiar with them.

So, here is my catriking goal for this year. I will trike no fewer than 300 kilometres this season. Now, bear in mind that the catriking season is a lot longer than the x-c ski season so this goal should be an easy one to attain. However, in keeping with the S.M.A.R.T. principles, I'd thought I'd analyze my goal.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for "Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely" and the correct application of this acronym depends entirely on being perfectly honest with oneself. This process is often used for goals like weight loss or for quitting smoking but it can be used in any life goal. Sure it can. We start by asking questions and then giving HONEST answers.

S= Is my goal specific? Yes it is. I have set a specific goal of no fewer than 300 kilometres in a triking season. I can go higher but my dead minimum goal is 300 so let's just stick with that here.
M= Can my goal be measured? You bet it can! My catrike has a little speedometer which also includes a trip odometer and total odometer. This is a neat little device we got for our trikes from Mountain Equipment Co-op. A lot of cyclists use these little devices so they're not all that strange. I can and have used my trip odometer to keep a running total throughout the season. So, every trip I take I will include that information so you, my dear reader (all 4 of you), can also keep track.

A= Can I attain my goal? Well, that depends on things like the weather, the condition of my trike and my own health. The weather I can't control, especially as we are in the midst of climate change. Who knows how decent this season will be? However, I can still take advantage of those good days and, perhaps, go a little further. The fitness of my trike is a known quantity. We take such good care to maintain our trikes by checking them regularly, cleaning them, oiling the chain and doing many inspections before and after a trip that I have no concerns there. Remember that Adam and I both used to fly airplanes so we're used to this kind of mechanical awareness. As for my health, well, like the weather, I cannot predict how that will all go. However, I can take advantage of good days and also remember that the triking season, typically 9 months, is long enough that 300 kilometres shouldn't be that difficult.

R= Is my goal realistic? Sure it is. I'm not going to try and cycle 300 kilometres in a weekend. I am quite sure (at this point in time) that I can reach my goal.

T= Is this the right time to try? When I graduated from university, one of the remarks the dean had said during the ceremony was a quote from, yes, Yoda. "Do, or do not. There is no try." I have no clue how the weather, my trike or, more critically, my health will go. So, if I don't try this year, I may never have another chance. So, yes, this is as good a time as any.

Stay tuned, right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What winter was that and setting S.M.A.R.T. goals?

Winter, such as it was (or wasn't) is done. It's a warm 13C...that's '+13C' and even the breezes no longer have that shredding icy chill to them.

I had hoped to supplement my Catriking diary with tales from our cross-country ski ventures...but there just wasn't anything to report.

We had a winter punctuated by a very warm January and only one or two so-called "cold snaps" that never seemed to go much beyond two or three days. Any snow we did get, and we did get some, was almost always followed by several hours of freezing rain. As any skier will tell you, freezing rain puts a swift and annoying end to any skiing plans. Freezing rain wrecks trails - it just does.

However, we did manage to get out a few times. Adam made 8 trips while I did a mere 5. The reason we didn't always head out together is partly from adapting to the new medication I'm taking for MS and partly because I just didn't want to. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I did not want to enjoy skiing along the disused rail line about 400 metres behind our house; it's just that seeing the feeble view of some snow but mostly ice just didn't really put me in the mood to head out.

Now, approaching the ides of March, and with temperatures forecast to touch +20C by this Sunday, my thoughts turn to catriking. As the catriking season is longer than the ski season, increasingly so over time I notice, I will have a lot of time to head out. That I am looking forward to doing.

As with each season, I normally set goals for myself in my hobbies. For instance, the winter of 2010-2011, I had set a ski goal of doing 100 kilometres in a season and wound up doing roughly 67 kilometres over a short and not-all-that-great season. I didn't set any ski goals for the winter of 2011-2012 because it just didn't look as though it would be a particularly snowy one...and, sadly, I was right.

The catriking season 2011, I had set a goal of triking 100 kilometres in one day but just couldn't do it. The progression of my MS, though still subtle, still made it impossible for me to trike more than about 55 kilometres in a day.

So, I now ask myself whether it is desirable or even necessary to set a specific catriking goal for me for 2012. What would be the point to setting any goal when I'm not always sure I will be mobile at all? Well, the answer to the first question is a definite "yes". It is necessary (for me anyway) to set some kind of goal. The trick, of course, would be to determine what that goal would be, whether it's a distance or time goal. I'm more inclined to try to set a distance goal so I'll see what I'm feeling once we free our beloved trikes from their winter-cave (aka garage). As for what the point is in setting goals, that, too, is important.

It's important to set goals so that we feel motivated to make them come to pass. Otherwise, we may find ourselves feeling poorly at the end and that isn't good for one's psychological or spiritual health. It's probably not good for one's physical health either. The setting of a goal ought to incorporate the 5 principles I use and used to teach.


Yes, it spells the word 'SMART'. As that is how we like to perceive ourselves to be it would certainly make sense to keep these 5 principles in mind. I will do so and then write more about this