Friday, 27 September 2013

Trolling for comments and babbling on anon.

It's pretty tricky trolling the comment section these days.

 Storm season has arrived. photo
Did you hear?  Popular Science shut off its comment section because a few nasty old trolls were so intent on spreading their own special brand of hatred that they ruined it for everyone.  Imagine that. Of course Popular Science attracts the dregs of humanity, what online content director Suzanne LaBarre so eloquently terms "shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla."  It's the nature of science itself, isn't it? The function of science is to challenge the very ideas people hold as "truth," and that always evokes passion.  Plus  Popular Science is massive.  It's an institution.  All the big sites draw their fair share of trolls.

Trolls are the internet arm of the zombie apocalypse, and they're ubiquitous.

Nobody loves a troll.
Random unrelated really bad photo of the winds in front of our first pineapple express this season.

There are an awful lot of them out there, too, spreading darkness and sowing animosity, waaaaaaay more than there are people willing to actually say that kind of thing to your face. I wasn't surprised that BikeSnob had trolls, cause he's a blogger who actually sort of makes a living from the avails of blogging and everything, and that means he's almost an institution, too.  I was surprised, however, to discover I've actually attracted my very own troll (s?)!!  While it's true they are technically trolling on Snob's blog, it's me 'they' hate.

Would you look at that! They've awarded me the Lantern Rouge for worst commenter ever. My hero Svein took home the coveted red jersey this year, and he still  kicked ass, so I can rock that.  I like red, remember?

A younger me would have felt upset or intimidated upon reading this first comment:

but my grade seven teacher, Mr Cej always said "Don't believe everything you read.  Consider the source," and as got older I grew to love him for that.  This is the same commenter who, when I mentioned the small boy's enthusiasm for his new road bike, warned me sternly and in no uncertain terms that if I allowed my son to pursue his dream of road racing, I would cause irreparable harm to my son, and to his ability to reproduce.  And he always speaks with the voice of absolute authority, of course, since he is always always right about everything.  I didn't have time to reply to his ridiculous assertions at the time, however, because I was about to head out the door to meet with my lovely friend Lido Crema, son of a professional cyclist, life-long  road racer and father of three.

Besides.  You shouldn't feed the trolls.

 There's a light at the end of the tunnel, anyway, an end to the storm in sight.

I'm trying to be the change I want to see, to create a little corner of the planet where people have a healthy relationship with themselves, each other and Spaceship Earth as a whole. If I'm attracting my very own trolls, it means my message is touching nerves, waking people up, and that makes me happy.  The best words ever uttered are "You inspire me..."  but this is good, too. If the trolls are a-hating me, it can only mean one thing.

Obviously I've arrived!  Next thing you know, I'll be an institution, too.  I choose Pope, please.  When I grow up, I wanna be the Holey C.

Please and thank you.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

I'm a digital girl in a digital world.

I'm very lucky, you know. My girlfriend and I argue over which of us is the luckiest girl in the world.  It's me, because somehow I always have everything I need, even when I can't actually see it at the time.  For the last few years I was convinced I was enjoying the only love relationship I would ever desire. I was very happy, happier than ever befpre.  He found me on Plenty of Fish, and he went out of his way to win my love.  I mean, come on. He cycled a solid two and a half hours from his place near False Creek to my place in White Rock every single chance I gave him.  How romantic is THAT?  Over time he became a dear and trusted friend and when we became lovers it turned into something wonderful, something rare and beautiful. Or so I thought. 

His plan worked, anyway. I fell for him hook, line, and sinker. I was surprised- shocked- to discover a few months ago that we are in fact walking separate paths, with each of us wanting different things from our partners and our lives, and in the end I had no choice but to draw a line in the sand,

and then release him, to return us both to that great big sea of single fish. 

No, that's not the lucky bit, though luck is very tricky in that sense.  Sometimes it seems terrible when it first hits you, but then looking back on it later, what started out feeling terrible is often, in fact, the key to a great stroke of good fortune.

That's my operating theory, anyway, because it feels better than sinking into a pit of despair.

I set up a new PoF account because I want to meet new friends and have some fun... 

and because a wise man once told me that the best way to get over a broken heart
 is the company of someone new.

Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, seek and ye shall find. When the student is ready the teacher will appear, etcetera. Earlier this spring, I also put it out there that I want to be a better cyclist than I am, and what do you know? I've made a few awesome friends through PoF, great guys like Lido Crema.

That's him on the left, in 2009

Lido is an unfailingly kind, professional cyclist who displays a remarkable degree of tolerance and open-mindedness, bless him, and patience, too.  Especially patience. I still suck at hills. He's an icing-on-the-cake kind of guy, cause he's got it all going on, and the cherry on top is his willingness to share his expertise.

 Lido's dad, Franco Crema, raced for the Italian national team before he emigrated to Vancouver, and he raised his boy to race, too, so Lido has literally been racing for forty years. His last name, Crema, means soft.  He is a softy, it's true, 

(that's my tire he's changing)

but he's seriously fit, he knows what he's doing, and when he feels like pushing me, it takes everything I have to hold his wheel.  And sometimes I just can't.  What's worse, I love it. When I ride with him I ride harder, farther, and faster than I do alone.  I should be singing hallelujah, because again I have exactly what I need, but it scares me a little. Why?  Because it brings to light yet another character flaw of mine: masochism. 

Who else but a masochist would love nothing more than a punishing ride?

Life is all about the experience.  That's why it's so important to do the things you love. Until August, when Lido had to go back to work, we rode together several times a week, but these days that only happens occasionally.  I'm always happy to ride alone, but when I do, it's never as hard, far or fast as I ride with Lido.  He won't even put his kit on for a ride shorter than 100 km, but I need to ride almost every day, whether or not I have a few hours to spare.  I like to hop on my bike whenever I can grab an hour of time any time a sucker-hole appears in the clouds. It always helps me feel better, whatever is on my mind.

That's why it's my happy place.

Sometimes when I'm cruising along and my cadence is at that sweet spot where you can spin a heavy gear fast and not feel it, and when I can sustain it for a while I find my mind enters into a peculiar state of clarity which is hard to find any other way, and when I get to that place, everything is better, brighter somehow, and often answers appear then, and truths.  I love that magical feeling of flying through space and time,  riding as fast as I can.  It's home to my soul.  
That's why I want to be the best possible me.

And speaking of the best,
there is one man here in Vancouver, a man named Paul Cross, who is renowned for improving endurance athletes' performance.  A woman I know scrubbed an hour and a half off her Gran Fondo time after training with him for one season, and I fully intend to make use of his services over the winter, but I'm a social creature, and I ride much better when I have a strong rider to help me set a faster pace.  I do sometimes find other cyclists to ride with when I'm on the road, but there are fewer and fewer die-hards like me out there now as the days get progressively shorter, wetter and colder.

So what's a girl to do?

I thought about PoF, and how I've met so many cool guys there over the years, and I thought about blogging and Twitter and Linked In and Facebook and how so much of my life is online, and how well it works sometimes, and then it struck me.


It's perfect.  I have inspiration to do my best, and it's a social network where I can get to know people cycling here in my city.  Now I'm that girl, the Strava-douche doing her best to beat her own personal record, and maybe win a stupid little Queen of the Mountain emblem on my profile.

And I'm not even a little bit sorry.   

So you see what I mean about being the luckiest girl in the world now, right?  Somehow I always have absolutely everything I need, even though I may not be aware of it at the time.  Maybe I needed a bit of heartbreak to make me a better, more empathetic person in the long run, who knows?  The fish I threw back in the pond is absolutely the best ex-man a girl could hope for.  He generously offered up his time to help with photos for this blog all summer long, but love is a drug and I need to kick the habit of him somehow, so to heal my heart I'm going cold turkey for a bit.

Spokenscene needs a better photographer than me, though, and so I also hope to find a new friend and photographer who likes to ride bikes. Till then, you'll be seeing a lot of nasty selfies, like this:

River Rd, Richmond- the ride that wasn't
I am sorry 'bout your luck.  
If you know anyone who is passionate about the bike path to world peace,
someone with an eye for a good photograph who might be inclined to help with the mission,
 please send them my way, mmmkay?


Oh yeah, and one more thing.

  Don't you love that it's a digital world? I do. Seriously.  It works for me. And I am the luckiest girl ever, cause I always have everything I need right here with me, myself, and these here happy digits.  As much as I have a strong and healthy sex drive, I do not need casual hook-ups, and as much as I love well-written eroticism, I don't actually need endless e-mails detailing all the ways you are planning to pleasure me.  Penthouse's Forum might like them, though, so if writing that kind of thing is your cup of tea, then by all means knock your socks off.   Personally, I'm happy in my own skin, left to my own devices. I would rather let my fingers do the walking any day than kiss and cuddle someone I don't love at least a little.

Just sayin', is all.

Thank you for reading!
xo xo

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Killer painkillers.

So the other day I was showing Vancouver to a friend of mine.  He's a scientist and a professional bike blogger and a man on a mission I admire, and I wanted to show him this pretty little jewel of a city from it's bicycle-friendly seawall. We stopped a couple of times to enjoy a beverage and chat, and at the end of one such pause, he very sarcastically complimented me on being a great safety role model, always wearing a helmet, and I laughed cause there was a little grain of truth in his barb. I first started wearing helmets when my eldest son was born, for sure, but over the years they've saved me enough headache that I don't even debate the issue any more.  I patiently explained to him how many times mum told me that special people like me should always wear a helmet.  He shrugged, and we went along our way. It was late at night, or early in the morning, depending on your perspective, so the path was wide open, and we were moving pretty fast, as you do.  That's when I ran kerSPLATski into a curb and demonstrated the infinite wisdom in mama's words.

The  helmet prevented a nasty bump on my head, but it did nothing good for my neck and shoulders, so this week has been notable for time spent having chiropractic adjustments, and yes, you guessed it: more prolotherapy.  This time I had neural prolo on the nerves running along the top of my shoulders, and joint prolo on several of my ribs... it looked something like this, and believe me, you don't want to know what it felt like.

 And what do YOU do for fun?
Not all pain is created equal, you know.  
Sometimes pain teaches you things like how not to be such a show-off, 
and sometimes it's just a gentle reminder that you're still alive.

Like that tingle turned to burn in your thighs after a climb...

 This was on the way back down after we climbed to the top of Mountain Highway,

and stopped to check out the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge.  

There was a whole bunch of GoPro footage of this ride, but in my great genius I unwittingly managed to erase almost all of it before I got home to download it.  Pretty impressive, don't you think?  THAT's whatchacall the Homer Simpson "DOH" pain.

Sometimes pain is a little reminder that you have new shoes,

 sometimes it means you've had too much sun where maybe you shouldn't.

And sometimes pain has a face.  Then it's a whole 'nother kind of message...
the kind of pain in the butt you'd do best to avoid altogether.  
In that case, I recommend taking a long walk in the park on two wheels...

It's the best thing for whatever ails you.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Grand Fondle, 2013

The Grand Fondle
The Saturday after Labour Day is usually one of my favourite days of the year.  It's right in there with Christmas, Thanksgiving, and my birthday, and do you know why?  Because it's the day of the Grand Fondle Whistler. You might wonder what makes it worth the fredly sum of three hundred dollars to ride a paltry 122 km (75 m), and that's a fair question.  Half of the Sea to Sky highway is closed to cars for the Fondle so legions of Freds can get a feel for the group grope ride while they pretend to race like the pros.

It's marvellous.  Life is a hands-on event, you know.  It's all about the experience.

I love to Fondle, but even so, I almost didn't get to first base this year. I registered at seven pm the night before the ride, registration closed at eight, and then sods law ensured I was overcome with some back-to-school-bug the boy dragged home and was nauseous by ten.  In the morning I gagged on an egg, but managed to keep it down, and was still totally stoked for the ride.  I mean, come on. That little space in the shoulder of the road between the rumble strip and the drainage grates gets mighty small when there's any kind of debris on the road, which there almost always is.  It will be another 365 days before the Sea to Sky highway is swept, cleared of cars and becomes a Mecca for all things fred-tastic once again.  Can you blame me for my excitement?

It was raining a little at the start corral, and a quick check on the smartphone weather app indicated it could rain all morning,

so I dithered till the very last moment about whether to carry a jacket with me or not. 


Sooooo... to sum it up:
 I spent a lot of money to ride my bike on a rainy Saturday morning in September
 and I liked it. 
To be fair, the rain stopped once we left Horseshoe bay, and 122 km and 1700 meters of climbing after it all  began, I arrived in Whistler Village, where I promptly threw up. It was sometime around noon-ish, though we'll never know for sure, since my times are not posted on the results.  
Apparently $300 doesn't ensure that you receive a working timing chip.

Now here's the thing.

This is the little picture of the ride designed to put fear in the heart of the Fondler.  You see how it's an up and down kind of ride for the first half?  Well, that little bit is deceptively hilly. There are a few going-down-at-woo-hoo-speeds bits to give your legs a bit of a rest and your heart a bit of a thrill, but once you pass Squamish, those woo-hoo moments are all but overwhelmed by the sheer climbing-ness of it all.  In the past, I've stayed the night in Whistler and had a lift home the next day, but that just seems all wrong, somehow.  If you're going to haul your ass up that big-ass hill, then you should definitely woo-hoo it all the way back down again, don't you think?

I think so.  So that's what I did.  I forced some food down and climbed back on my bike for the return trip to Squamish.  It went by much faster than the ride up, and when I got to town, the loveliest of women had a delicious dinner and a cold glass of wine ready and waiting.  It was heavenly.  Plus, I got to sleep in a princess bed, which by that time was truly divine.

It just doesn't get any better than that.

The next morning I set out to finish the journey home.  I took it pretty easy cause my legs were tired, but it was absolutely gorgeous... food for the soul.  It looked something like this:

You see how I'm smiling?  That's cause I love my life and all of the amazing places these two wheels take me. Try it for yourself. Give it a go, and then you'll know. 
Life is better on a bike. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Hobbit nobbing it up the way past Fanny Bay.

We've had absolutely fabulous summer weather in BC this year.  It has been gorgeous for months on end, all except for that week at the very end of August, the week we booked to visit some remarkably tolerant, kind, open-minded people who invited us to stay with them on Hornby Island for a spell.  There were more bodies than seatbelts for the drive up, so I pulled out the ol' Pamela-Anderson-approved, silicone-augmented Straight of Georgia crossing bike and took to two wheels.

As you do, right?
  It's a gorgeous ride up the east side of Vancouver Island.  You can take either the new, upper level, twinned highway with generous shoulders, or you can take the old, winding Island Highway that follows the coast.

Once I broke free of the trap called the Nanaimo Parkway Trail which is actually a cleverly designed entrance to the twilight zone, I chose the coast. Next time I will skip the trail and stick to my chosen road from the beginning. The trip up the coast was unfuckingbelievably beautiful.
It always is.

Here's the view of Denman Island as seen from Qualicum Beach, 

which is between Parksville and (you guys in the UK will love this) Fanny Bay. Yes, Fanny Bay. Stop laughing, it gets better.  Guess what makes Fanny Bay famous? 

Yes.  Oysters.

Mmm, Oysters... I love oysters.  Don't you love oysters?
Fanny Bay oysters are amazing, especially with prosecco.... mmm.

 Where were we?  Oh! Just little way past Fanny Bay is a wee spot named Buckley Bay,
and that's where you'll find the ferry to Denman Island.  

It has a distinct profile, Denman.  I could see it, and the ferry, too, from a rise just south of here

as I approached Buckley Bay.  The ferry was on its way so I gunned it in an effort to make it there, and when I did I passed a lovely girl on a bicycle. She hung on to my wheel, and as luck would have it, we made the ferry with time to spare. Better yet I made a new friend!  I hadn't met another cyclist on the road all day long, and here I'd found a kindred spirit.  She had ridden from the city, and was on her way to the very same part of Hornby Island as was I.

That's Anna. :) This is me on the ferry.  Goofy, but bike-happy.

It's about ten minutes from Buckley Bay to Denman Island, and then that distinctive profile makes for the most challenging hill since Taylor Way in Vancouver. It's shorter, but steeper.  Then a simple cruise through quiet rural roads winding through luscious temperate rainforest, before another little blip of a ferry ride brings you to Hobbiton Hornby Island.  

When people say they want to get away from it all, this is where my mind goes.

Tribune Bay on a typical summer's day. 2013 has been anything but run of the mill, though, hasn't it? And so in the spirit of the year, our beach days were a little different than they normally are.

There are tons of critters on Hornby, rain or shine, and no predators, save the raptors,
 and of course the ubiquitous domestic cat.

On Hornby you'll often witness a convocation of Eagles surfing the up-drafts, which is enough to make even the boldest cat a little nervous.

 Every island has its own flavour, it's own distinct character and features, but wherever you go, one thing is constant, universal.  All across the islands, gardeners battle the deer for each and every year's harvest. You simply cannot have a vegetable garden without an eight foot fence anywhere that side of the Straight of Georgia.  On Haida Gwaii, where till recently there were always waaaay more bear than people, the dear were are small enough to easily navigate dense rainforest, and fast enough to outfox your average bear, who happens to be enormous in that neck of the woods.

Hornby island is the opposite. The dear are big, sweet and rather daft. 
You can reach out and touch tons of them, but you mustn't make friends or they will eat you out of house and home and carrots.

But don't be fooled by the Disney factor.
It isn't always idyllic.  In Canada you grow up understanding that the weather can be dangerous any time of year. (Do you think they learn the same thing in Saudi Arabia for different reasons?) There was one cool little creature who used live on the grassy roof bit outside the triangle window, tucked riiiiiiight in there...

He was so cute, that little gecko-guy.

He always came out at night, until one day a big storm blew away the piece of wood he lived underneath, 
and then he was never seen, nor heard from, again.

We found this fellow slithering around the town graveyard.

It's an incredible place, Hornby Island.  It is so far removed from society in some senses, and yet at the same time the soul of the community is undeniably creative and artistic and in some ways representative of the very pinnacle of civilization.  It's a magical, delightful contradiction. 

We were staying in a house built right into the land by the very hand of a respected and somewhat renowned artist.  It's old-ish, and it's in a constant cycle of decay and renewal, but it works beautifully.  And every year it is host to a surprising number of friends, family, and others.  It becomes a summer sanctuary, a retreat away from the density of souls in the heart of our city to something else entirely. 

Something charming and simple

honest, rustic and bold.

Any which way you look at it,

the entire place is a delight to behold.

And lest you be left thinking this remarkable place is a one-off, an exception to the rule,
consider the town hall. 

Hornby is precious.  It's perfect.  It's just what I needed.  Check it out!  You won't be disappointed.