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