Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas to you...and me!

We're in that magical time between Christmas and the dawn on a new year, so I'm just going to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holiday season from Tanker the Wonder Sherpa and myself.

Not your traditional elves.

You even got me a present, too - some time in the past couple of days, while I've been immersed in good times with family and some nice, rummy eggnog, you wonderful folks graced my little blog with its twenty-five thousandth hit! You're all awesome!

Even the reindeer are stoked!

So have yourselves a safe, happy and wonderful new year and I'll be back with more of my blitherings in 2014.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snaking out of training

I'll confess. I haven't really trained at all this week. Not a bike ride taken, not a yard swum, not a single kilometer run. I have done my morning weight training, but it's been scaled back a bit. I will admit I did go for one walk.

Am I quitting tri? Am I turning to CrossFit? Have I lost my mind?

None of the above.


Warning: bewbs.

What you see above is the state of my Massassauga rattlesnake from approximately early 2003 until last Saturday. The linework was mostly there and the shading had mostly been done around the back of my neck, but there was a lot of blank space. The amazing Heather Myles of Inksmith Tattoos in Guelph agreed to take on the task of bringing my snake to life more than 10 years after the original artist had disappeared. Seriously - I'd been waiting to get this finished longer than I've been married!

It was certainly no walk in the park having my sternum poked repeatedly with needles, but Heather made it as pleasant as possible and it was incredible to watch the design unfold under her talented hand.

She laid in heavy lines first, then brought out the shader and filled the design with soft greys. His one visible eye turned shades of vivid green, with a cheeky gleam in the pupil. After 3 hours of work, I was absolutely delighted with the outcome!

Since then, I've been sore. Oddly enough, your chest is pretty good at telling you when it's sustained some damage, and that this is NOT A GOOD THING from a survival standpoint. I've been caring diligently for the tattoo, but since soaking it for long periods in water or exposure to bacteria could damage the work (and/or me), training has been put on hiatus. I've been spending as much time as possible topless and haven't even been able to contemplate wearing a bra to the office, let alone having a sports bra rubbing on the new ink during a run. I finally got in for my first real shower last night (relax: I've been having a good wash every day, but spongebath-style), and am very happy not to have needed to wash of days worth of sweat. It was bad enough I ended up having to shovel out our driveway on Sunday afternoon - moving 5+" of snow by hand with a sore chest wasn't much fun!

The second flake is now finished and I "graduated" this morning from using vitamin E ointment on the new ink to a good slathering of hand lotion - he's nearly healed! I'd actually contemplate training this evening, but apart from it being date night (every Friday without fail) it's also my office Christmas dinner. So, I'll wait until tomorrow to see how snakey feels about going out for a bit of a run. Hoping that the freezing rain won't kill off all the snow that we got from last weekend - I'm itching to crack out the cross-country skis!

There's still more work to be done - the original linework needs to be freshened up, and I'd like to fill in the design with some soft brown & white highlights. That, however, is going to have to wait until I get some training done - Around the Bay is only 100 days away!

Friday, December 13, 2013

I love a parade!

So last Saturday was the Hespeler Santa Claus Parade, in which Tanker and I had been invited to cycle to represent The Hub, an awesome local bike shop. Despite a chilly temperature of -5c/23f brought down to a positively frosty -12c/10f by the howling wind and intermittent flurries, we loaded up our mountain bikes on the rack and headed across town to have some fun.

Dorking it up on the way over.

Tanker elected to wear his enormous down coat for the ride.

I dressed in my Hub kit to represent, but it sure was chilly!

Huddling for warmth.

The parade itself had almost 50 floats this year - bands, a "Polar Express" train made up of a decorated ATV pulling wagons full of kids, and a few other neat sights.

Like this glorious old Packard race car.

And J5 pulling his own little train of elves. Wee Jessie in the trailer fell asleep!

It was heartwarming to see the huge crowds lining Queen Street through downtown Hespeler, waving and clapping for all of the floats as we cycled our way along. Too bad it wasn't finger- or toe-warming, too!

Merry Christmas!

What's a Santa Claus parade without a visit from the big guy himself?

We finished up at a parking lot off the main drag, and managed to get most of the crew together for a photo.

That's right - we had out own cyclist Santa!

Then it was off to The Hub for hot chocolate and snacks provided by Cliff and Meredith for all who came out. Either they spiked the hot choccy with something or I froze my brain solid, because when it came time to get going I decided that Tanker could take the nice, warm car home...I was going to ride!

How bad could it be?

I ripped along the Mill Run Trail as the snow fell around me, pumping the pedals hard to try to keep the blood flowing and warm myself up in the relentless wind.

Blurred by speed, or just shivering?

Through the woods.


I arrived home just a few minutes after Tanker did, with a half-frozen bottle and a huge grin on my face - you only live once, right?

No problem with the water getting warm today..

Still got all my bits!

The Hespeler Santa Claus Parade is just one of the awesome Christmas in Cambridge events, and we're proud to be able to represent both The Hub and the local cycling community by taking part! It also seems somehow fitting that the last cycling event of 2013 be an extremity-numbing trail ride, as the first cycling event of the year was my hypothermic experience at Steaming Nostril. Hopefully 2014 will hold more warmth, but just as much fun!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Riding out November

When it's November the 30th and above the freezing mark, you seize any opportunity you can to flee from the trainer dungeon and hit the trails!

Of course I was tied up for most of the day, but finally managed to get out around 3:45pm...with an hour before sunset. Still some beautiful sunshine out in the woods!

I checked out some new-to-me trail along the West bank of the Grand River, and most of it was in pretty good shape...but I totally failed to stop and take photos of the bits where the river had washed out the trail and left frozen puddles. It's quite the experience to ride a bike over glare ice with a skiff of snow on top, hearing it groaning and cracking under your wheels!

I made it through ok, just taking it slow and concentrating on keeping the pedals turning over smoothly. My awesome bike responded perfectly, as though I hadn't shamefully left him sitting in the livingroom for almost the entire summer & fall. Sorry Arven!

Next up was exploring the Trans Canada Trail through Homer Watson Park, which turns out to still be a work in progress. The above photo shows where the beautiful, fresh-laid pavement ends and they've set in what appear to be supports for a footbridge over the little streambed.

I could clearly see that the other side was in fine shape, though, and some people had laid down branches in the mud to form a passable section through the ice and mud. A little bit of hike-o-bike-o and I was on my way again.

I emerged from a very unfinished-looking trailhead on Manitou Drive, near Fairview Park Mall right at the time given for sunset that day, so took the well-lit road route to get back home. I was treated to the incredible display of colour on the cirrus clouds above as I pedaled home to get ready to head to the pool.

Seize your chances to make some memories, and winter training doesn't have to be a drudge! Just remember to bundle up tight, and use a big light to keep yourself safe.

I'll see you out there - look for Tanker and I to be pedaling with The Hub's float in the Hespeler Santa Claus Parade on Saturday!