Wednesday, 30 April 2014

On being well warned that there will be wear: gearing up for the new season.

The weekend before last looked a lot like this down in Richmond as I chased the guys on the Vet Ride:

Unbeknownst to me, they were actually all behind me at that very moment, but that sure didn't last. Once I did finally hook up with the group,  I only just managed to hang on for twenty minutes or so before I was back to riding lone-wolf-ish. And then once again my road ahead looked just like that. 

I'm not nearly as fast as I like to pretend. 

And evidently I have a very small brain. 

Worse yet, I am naive. 

Someone once said to me "Hey!  Did you know that the word naive isn't in the Oxford English Dictionary?" Believing him, I replied "Wow.  Really?"  Sigh.  I bought in to the slogan Campagnolo wears in, while Shimano wears out, too.  I believed that Campagnolo stands behind it's products no matter what, but don't worry. I learned the error of my ways on that count last year, when my derailleur exploded and took out a few very expensive spokes.

It was ugly.  I cried like a baby.  In public.

Why why why?!

You see? It was in the middle of the cluster when it just snapped!  Good thing I wasn't travelling woo hoo speed when it happened. Last year, that bike didn't have anywhere near the sort of mileage on it that it does now, and still. It was maintained, too, that derailleur. I had been in the shop with it only a few days before, having it adjusted, and even so it went boom. I was forced to swallow the cost.  It wasn't pretty.  Well, part of it was still pretty, at least for the moment. Look at how shiny the aluminum on those rims is! Nothing like they look now...  :S

Mmm Vittoria Corsa... forget the scored rims - those wheels will still go fast!
Fast forward a few months and several thousand kilometers, and there I was on the Vet ride last Sunday when the bottom bracket started making a racket the likes of which I've never ever heard before.  It was a crazy squeaking which bordered on a groan, accompanied by an intermittant tick, as if something was loose in there.  It got louder and worse the harder I pushed the bike, and it was consistent with the down stroke on my left pedal.  THAT's what told me that it was my bottom bracket, cause I have had to have it tightened and sealed with lock tight a few times already this winter.

I had just ordered a new drive train, minus the small ring, cause the big ring was looking pretty worn.

 I had taken the bike in for new cables and brake pads, and a general spring tune-up but they said I definitely needed a whole new drive chain.  And the sound of the bottom bracket really worried me, especially since I am never a stranger to catastrophic failure.  I am notoriously hard on things. My last name is Guerin, and it might come as no surprise to you that one wit who knows me well has determined that all things mechanical in my life ought to have a Guerin-tee.  

So it's not surprising, is it, that the inside of the crank looks like this. 
And again you'll find me wondering

Or more precicely it leaves me wondering how how how it happened.  These teeth seem to interlock with the teeth from the opposing crank, and yet there is absolutely no corresponding damage on the other side.

The bearings are hardly worn at all, and they should be the first thing to go!  They're fine.  You'd think that if the cranks were loose enough to cause wear and damage that the rest of the teeth would show evidence of the wear, but de nada.  It's very strange.  A mystery.

Sure Snobberdood might mock me, but that's just what he does. The crank is sort of the heart of the bike, and this one leaves me completely baffled. Yep.  It's a mystery.

On the bright side, it gave me a chance to change things up a bit.  I was thinking of getting a  big ring with more teeth, but you know me. I am so dense that hills hurt. Rob at my favourite LBS warned that I really should stick with a compact groupset, so I ordered another 50/34 crank, and a new cluster, too.  Then I took the old gear out for one more spin...

...down south to White Rock to see some of my favourite people, and to make this year's first contact with one of my favourite decks.  Mikeweb called this ride a border skirmish, cause that's Blaine, WA you see over across the drink there.

It was a gorgeous ride. 

I thought I was filming with the GoPro the whole way there, and I was stoked because we saw so many things I wanted  to share with you. The camera was on, the battery draining, but it wasn't filming. I saw the red light when I turned it on, but I didn't bother to check what was happening till we hit water in White Rock. We rode south through Vancouver along the Cypress bike route, then across the Canada Line bridge (my favourite) before we headed east along River Rd (as pictured at the top of the post) to the Alex Fraser bridge.  (That bit was brutal for a girl whose body has its own opinion about heights, btw, but let's not talk about that today, mmmkay?

We took the new Perimeter Rd (hwy 17) from the bridge west-ish to just past where it crosses the 99. I was excited about riding next to Burns Bog dosn there in Delta. It's a good stretch for a hard ride, and I really gave it all I had.  Unfortunately, the segment didn't match, because the dimwit who laid it down meandered all over the place!

I tried to obey all of the posted signage, but damned.  There sure were a lot of them!

From the 99 we headed east on the Ladner Trunk Rd, which parallels the 99.  I wish I had a photo of what we saw along here.  We were riding through farmland and on our left saw a number of birds on the ground all around.  This is one of the best places anywhere around for birding if you're any kind of fan of raptors, because Vancouver's dump is nestled in burns bog up there, in that crook of land between the Perimiter Rd and Hwy 99.  You'll find all SORTS of birds round there, for all sorts of good reasons.  This field was a bit wetish and lots of birds were mulling about.  As they do.  And we stopped briefly to point the GoPro at these birds because at first a few of them looked like massive turkeys or something amongst the lot, but they were eagles, just hanging around in a field looking massive.  They were gorgeous.  I wish I could share them with you.


On the way back we took a shortcut across the delta and shaved a solid ten kilometers off our journey. Better yet, it wasn't a road.  It was a hardpack gravel trail, which means we didn't have to deal with any traffic whatsoever for that leg of the journey, and it was significant.  I loved it.  It looked like that photo up there much of the way through.  And it looked like this, too:

It was a great way to say goodbye to my drive train. I had originally ordered a more compact cluster, in the hopes that I'd have more high end on a descent, but I lost out on my best hill climbing ability with that cluster, so I went back to the original 12/25, only we switched out the smallest two bits so that they're 11 and 12 instead of 12 and 13.  This way I have a little more top end, and that makes me happy, but I can still make it up those hills behind Jericho beach.  Having the ability to customise my cluster definitely made me love those Campy parts all over again.  I am trying to work on my spinning, cause I'm a masher by nature, so with any luck I will wear this set of rings out more evenly.  If I am still using the big ring more than the small one as the season progresses, and if I still need more top end, I might just switch the 50 out for a 52.  We'll see.

Oh ho!  And it looks like my first race will be on the island in a week and a bit. Till then, here's to red nipples and pretty pussies!

Ride on! 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Who knew photography could have such a negative aspect?

Ha.  The strangest thing happened yesterday.  I found out that there is still a tiny segment left of the original Georgia St viaduct.  You remember, the one which crossed Main St waaaaay back when Main St was still well under water?

 I wanted to discreetly add a photograph of it to the blasting past into the present post. I was in the back alley taking photographs of the original structure embedded in Georgia St.

due west of Main.

Now, I was just going to quietly drop the photo into the original post with a line or two of context and leave it at that.  You and I would not be sharing this communication at all, except that a Paladin security guard came along just as I was taking those photos and told me to cease and desist.  He told me that it was illegal for me to take a photograph of that site, because it is private property. He said that it belongs to BC Hydro, which is of course ridiculous since it's a City of Vancouver  ROAD, and not private property at all. Being the know-it-all that I am, I was instantly and deeply convinced that  HERE IN CANADA people have the right to stand in a city lane and take photographs of anything they see. He said "No. You can't do that."

I let him know he'd drunk some funny Kool Aid and said "Now I am going ride around to Main St to see the other side of this old piece of Vancouver.  I am going to take photographs of the tram tracks, too."  He called his bosses back - again - and followed me.  He arrived just after I took this photo of the tram tracks.

He promptly took a photograph of me.  So I took one of him.

This one.
He insisted I had to stop taking photos. I insisted he was starkers. He said "I am afraid you will have to stop taking pictures and leave immediately, or I will call the police."  I already had all of the photographs I needed, but I invited him to do just that.  So he did. 

And I filmed him doing so.


We waited. He talked to his boss a lot.  

Eventually, the police showed up. They talked to the security guard for a while. 


Then they talked to their bosses on the phone for a while.  

Funny, cause when my friend mentioned how we might not be allowed into the US after this, I was literally shaking, shaken, and upset, despite the obvious ridiculousness of the situation. I would have loved to have a chat with the big guy in charge of the rest of the big guys up there where divinity hangs out, because really.  That's enough of being the butt of so many of their silly jokes already.

After what felt like an interminable time, the detectives came over to have a chat with me.  They said that there is in fact a rarely invoked federal law which the security guard was trying to call upon, a felony offense which allows the police to arrest me for taking photographs of certain federal and provincial sites - places like the substation beside the road I was photographing.  Sooooo... I was informed that technically speaking, my photograph of  the security guard up there, the one taken in front of the substation falls under that particular classification and therefore the company technically has the right to insist I not photograph it. There's the value of vengeance for you in a nutshell!

OK.  So in the first place, I had no idea that building was a substation.  And yes of couse ignorance of a law is no excuse for breaking it, but how on EARTH is anybody supposed  to guess that it's illegal to take a photograph of a plain old brick building?!  It's not like it's second nature to assume that you might be breaking the law by standing on a public sidewalk and snapping a photograph of a non-descript building amidst a very public scene. I wasn't even photographing the bloody substation, anyway, until the zealot security guard started taking photographs of me and threatening me with arrest for doing something I was convinced was pefectly legal. I figured if he was going to take one of me I sure as hell was going to take one of him right back, dagnabit.

For goodness sake, if it's so all-important that nobody take photographs of that old piece of infrastructure embedded in a PUBLIC THOROUGHFARE, well then they should have put up a solid fence instead of the SEE-THROUGH wire fences they went with.


Please note that despite being proven wrong, and although I do not, in fact, have the legal right to take photographs of anything I choose in the public domain, I rode away from the situation with my sense of righteousness intact.  I remained one with my inner know-it-all. Why? Because in the end, the police did let me keep my awful photographs of an old piece of Vancouver, and they said that the people at BC Hydro/Paladin were pushing their luck. All's well that ends well.

That means I can keep prowling this town,

 taking as many terrible shots of this beautiful place as possible in pursuit of those ever elusive ones that almost capture how lovely Vancouver really is

... when viewed through a velo perspective.

 It's almost perfect, this place. 
You've gotta love it

 even if it IS inhabited by a strong-like-bull-smart-like-fridge know it all, or two.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Blasting past into the present.

Hello from Vancouver...  happy holidays!  :)

This is what I saw when I rode by the CBC building on Hamilton St. The sight of that particular place started me thinking of the ever-changing, always evolving nature of a vibrant, healthy city-scape.  I love the CBC and everything it is supposed to stand for.  It was gutted by govenment cut-backs last week, right in line with Mr Harper's agenda.  The very next day, the website was sporting banner ads.  It was a sad sign of the times, really. Thankfully, I haven't noticed the ads much the last few days. I did, however, notice the incredibly cool photo on the side of the building.

Course I always figure I know everything, but I had no idea where this was at first. Turns out the bridge in the picture is the original Georgia St viaduct.  The photograph was taken from a spot near what is Keefer St today, right where Columbia turns into Quebec St. Man oh man has the neighbourhood changed since then! A few times.  The original structure was torn down in the early seventies to make way for the new viaducts, which are today potentially slated for demolition.  Progress has it's own cycle of life.

That's a zoomed in perspective of the photograph, and if you stand in the same spot today and take the same photograph, this is what you'll see:

The original bridge in the picture is just at the end of that building.  The viaduct today stretches out over quite a few city blocks.  What good fortune that the city planners never went ahead with the original free-way plans at the heart of that viaduct incarnation. Can you imagine needing to rebuild that kind of infrastructure now?  Well, I guess in a way, we do, in that really, it might do us some good to take it out and make better use of the space. No matter how you look at it, the place is different than it was to begin with!  What would the city be like today if the original planners had instead chosen to carry on with the waterway nature had begun to create and instead built a canal straight through to the Burrard Inlet?

It wasn't that big a stretch, you know.I can think of a few sailors who might relish the thought, but that would also require more bridges in a place well defined by it's many  and varied bridges.  If you stood on the dock by that spot on Keefer St, you would see a steeple on a clear day.

You can still see it if you walk a block or so further south, but you'll find cars, pedestrians, and high-rises between you and it, instead of boats, docks, and water.  Is it any wonder I didn't recognise the scene in that photograph?

 What a blast!  I love to imagine how things might have been in days gone by, don't you? It seems a lot of people do. Is there a word for people with retro-itis?  One guy has it so bad he went and created an app so you can check out a 3D rendering of historic Vancouver. I know about this, because one really cool reader (Thank you!!) sent me this great little link to a Time article about one retronut's dream come true

So I can share it with you.  It's very touchy feely, and you know how much I love that kind of thing.

You will also find a few stories embedded in the app, and you wander though town, through roads, lanes and alleys, in and out of gardens

and even through landmarks

till you've heard them all.  But take it from a know-it-all.  Don't get cocky.  Just cause you've heard it all, doesn't mean you've seen it all.

Speaking of which, you haven't seen my red nipples yet.

Oh wait a minute.  I guess you have..! :)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

A quick spin round the feedback loop...

Thank you for all of your comments and messages, and please pardon my unexplained absence.  My computer went away for service and repair for a few days.

Someone near and dear to my heart expressed grave concerns about the sudden turn in direction which this blog has taken.  He misses the old posts.  He loves the photos in and around Vancouver, and he asked me very kindly to lighten up a little and get back to the things he loves most about spokeNscene.  He doesn't want it to change, bless him.  Don't worry.  SpokeNscene will always be about cycling, and I promise we will return to regular programming soon.

I just beg your indulgence one more time, please. It will be easier if you simply accept my apology in advance for the rambling babblelog I am about to unleash upon you.  The friend who asked me to lighten up is in good company, truth be told.  A few of you have spoken out.  Thank you, btw, for caring enough to say.  One kind reader took the time to write an insightful message which made me stop and think. I hope he doesn't mind if I share part of it with you here:

Your energy comes across loud and clear in your posts. Your message is more elusive. If there were a hierarchy maintained where the sexuality is always below the health in order of importance, your message would reach more people...If you wish to market your health ideas.

The letter in its entirety was kind and intelligent and thought provoking.  After reading it, I had an epiphany of sorts. It was very enlightening.

Someone on Reddit took offence, to the sexual selfies and a moderator who doesn't think much of me anyway used it as an opportunity to have my posts automatically deleted as spam.  You see?  My lovely reader's concern for my message being lost in the sexual content was right on the money. And I have thought long and hard about where sexuality fits into my message, though perhaps it doesn't look it. I once posted an onanastic photo early on in this blog, and quickly deleted the image from the post because of my professional standing and the fear that I would become "That Girl."  

And THAT is the thing.  As a woman I am judged upon my looks, even as I'm reminded that my worth will never equal that of a man's.  Especially not one of the Sirs of this world. Why?  I don't know. You'd think that as the sex which can gives birth, we females should be more highly valued, more precious, not less. There is no relief in God, either, with religion underscoring the devaluing of the feminine. Worse, religions all tell us that masturbation is a sin.  Why do you suppose it IS that devoutly fundamentalist societies have the highest rates of rape?  Hmmmm?  Oh never mind.  The long and the short of it is that I try to do my part to express a healthy feminine sexuality in the face of our collective madness.  And yet it's important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. 

The message matters.  The KISS list delivers health and happiness.  Guaranteed. 

Move Bounce Purify Breathe Love a Lot Laugh and Sleep

Healthy sexuality is an important aspect of health and wellness, and yet in our mad, mad world it is tied to sin and shame and thus condemned to a pervasive and lasting legacy of violence, abuse, darkness, and fear.There was a feature on domestic violence this week, following a dramatic news story.  A man was charged with attempted murder. What is wrong with our world that most women will experience some form of sexual abuse or assault over the course of their lifetimes?! Sigh... What I have learned is that what you resist, persists. The world has long been busy condemning us women for expressing our sexuality openly and  honestly, but we're not going to go away. Sexual women are here to stay.

Oh!  I've ALSO learned that it's very easy to attract the things you fear.  

So now I am 'That Girl,"  the one peddling her ass on the internet, but its all good. 

I own it.

I am putting together a separate website for peddling babblebutt.  SpokeNscene will return to business as usual whilst I work on that, which means these posts will probably remain just slightly scarce, despite my best, most babbliscious intention to bring you news of the cycling scene here in Vancouver.

Last week Snobberdooders wrote about The Indignity of Not Commuting by Bicycle and Instead Just Going For A Ride: None, I Regret Nothing. He talked about responsibilities and noted how lucky he is to be able to squeeze in a few recreational bike rides here and there.  Just a day or so later, a girlfriend of mine mentioned how it looks like I'm living the life of Riley, what with all of the time I spend on a bike. She asked whether maybe I might have too much time on my hands.  I had to laugh, because  COME.  ON. Everybody is too busy. Right?  Everybody. Time is the one thing none of us ever has quite enough of.

I like to ride at least two hours a day, but I am literally riding for my life. Yes, that sounds super-melodramatic, for sure, but please hear me out. You know how sick and twisted I am.   This disorder is progressive and degenerative, and THAT means that its expression is intrinsically linked to the process of ageing.  That's why I study the art, magic and science of longevity, and why I am trying so hard to find the key to quantum healing.  Because even when it really hurts, I love my life.  I want to get to know my future great grandchildren and I have big plans for my 100th birthday party, so I am well motivated to find a solution to my connective tissue issues.

Last week someone said:

Great posterior -- er, post! 

The only problem is that you're preaching to the choir. This article needs to be published in one of those supermarket mags/rags that proclaim "Lose 8 lbs. in two weeks" or the like. With an emphasis on your earlier smokin' hot, er, smoking, overweight life, and how KISS made you the physical goddess you are now!

Thanks for this blog!


A.  Thank you, NHcycler.  Thank you for reading, and thank you for your two cents, too.  Very kind of you.
2.  Right?! But that's the scary thing! I am both the preacher and a singer in that very same choir and STILL I was headed for trouble!!  I've cycled as a way of life since I was a teenager, even though I have had my fat times and my super-stupid times, I was definitely in the habit of taking pretty damned good care of myself last October when Dr Brown had me chart my acidity, I took stock of my physical situation, and discovered that despite my healthy lifestyle, my disease was progressing rapidly. Painfully quickly.  I was still not seeing any real results.

I had an unhealthy blood chemistry, with respect to my cholesterol levels and my risk ratio of healthy vs unhealthy fats. Cholesterol is to some extent determined by your genetics, so a couple of years ago, when my doctor told me I had high blood cholesterol despite my fit, active lifestyle, I wasn't entirely surprised. A serious clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden runs in the family, along with high cholesterol. Dad had undergone quadruple bypass surgery when he was five years younger than I am now.  The deck is stacked against me, and yet this is what my blood looks like now:

needless to say, the doctors are dead chuffed with my results.  The risk ratio is well below the recommended guidelines, and my triglyceride levels have left my physicians tickled pink.

I told you I am the anti-scientist.  I love, adore and respect science.  Absolutely.  It's just that I am way too slow and backward to be a scientist.  When it comes to the battle against the progression of my disease, I consult science.  I read as much as I can and talk to doctors, specialists, healers and friends, but in the end the decision is organic. I place my trust in the "yes" and "no" signals I get from my body, rather than the latest lab results, fashions, or trends. 

How did I attain the cholesterol levels I needed?  I just listened to my body's signals. I eat a lot of fats, in fact.  They're soooo tasty, and I like yummy food. When I cook, it's always coconut or grapeseed oil, and of course I love olives, too.  I do use dairy, though it's really best if it's organic.  I use liberal amounts of butter, and 11% bf yogurt, and OMG I love the macedonian feta from the Parthenon. (It's the best kept secret in Kits, that place:) I love love love fatty foods of all sorts! I eat plenty of avocados, eggs,seeds, and tree nuts.  All in all I have a fairly high-fat diet, and the genetic cards are stacked against me, too.  And EVEN SO!! Heh heh.  Even so, I listened to my body's signals and here we are...  
Well, I'm here. Ish.  Spanish Banks. Dunno where you are.
I'm sitting pretty damned pretty, considering what a genetic mess I am. I don't know much, but what I DO  know is that listening to my body's signals always pays off.

You saw how my body's ph balance is in a place which pleases my naturopath.  My doctor, and the son who is studying to be a doctor both say that they can see no clearly proven link between having an acidic bio-chemistry, and the ageing and degenerative processes of oxidation, but my body is abundantly clear on the subject, and that's good enough for me.  Have you tested yourself yet?  

This body has undergone some pretty dramatic changes in the last few months. I hadn't been able to run for a few years.  My knees would blow up into water-balloons  if I so much as thought about going for a run. My unstable knees were the reason I adapted the babblebounce, the lymphatic clearing exercise I will show you on video.  Every time I went out dancing I would suffer with swollen, aching knees for a week.  But not any more. Suddenly I can join the boy on runs without suffering anymore.  It's incredible, really.

What's changed?  Well, since October I have made three distinct changes to my life, each of which may well have something to do with these results.  If I were  a proper scientist, I would of course do a controlled experiment to decipher which factor affected what, but I am just so happy with the overall results (even while I battle daily to keep the disease at bay) that I am simply going to keep on keeping on.

These are the three changes I made:

1. Juicing. If you do use a pyramid to describe the best diet, the bottom bit is meant to be green. Plants should be the bulk of your diet. Here's the thing. Dr Hal said that the only people who come into his office with healthy alkalinity are the people who juice.  He said that it takes about three months of regular juicing to change your bio-chemistry.  And what do you know?  He was absolutely spot on. Some of you scientists out there may say that a body's alkalinity isn't a true indication of your body's state of resistance or receptivity to disease, but I think the naturopaths have something figured out. Do your own research and make your own decisions.  All I know is my body says yes yes yes to green juice. Kale, grapefruit, apple, and ginger is tried trusted and true, but I like to mix it up, be creative, and have fun. In the summer you can use frozen veggies and  make smoothies that taste even better than ice cream. SUPER. YUM.

2. I bumped up my daily grind from one to two hours daily, and I make a point of stimulating my lymph system whenever I am sitting for more than half an hour at a time.  I'm guessing that this is the biggest reason my cholesterol levels are so good, since triglycerides are sort of an indication that you're not burning up all of the energy you're consuming.  Also, it's important to note that the body switches from burning glucose to burning fat once you've been active for an hour and a half, so that might explain the change in my blood chemistry. I am so inspired by Olga the Magnificent and her incredible anti-ageing lifestyle, that for the first time ever, I have purchased a UCI racing  license in my efforts to make the most of this mortal coil.

3. Protandim.  I used to need between two and three hundred dollars worth of supplements each month, and now I spend less than seventy-five dollars.  And I am running again, and riding faster than I used to, and that's good enough for me.  A couple of my friends have noticed an improvement in my health and wellness since I started taking it, and have inquired about it, so racing wasn't the only type of licence I bought this month. I also bought a Protandim distributor's license, even though I lack a killer sales instinct.  It's a powerfully effective supplement. I encourage you to give it a try.

The KISS list is just a simple way to stay healthy and happy,  and you know you'll see and hear all about it once I finish my website.  Till then, you can expect somewhat regular updates here.... I promise.

See ya again soon!  :D

ps.  a couple of people asked where we were riding in that video. That was the Vet ride in Richmond a few weeks ago... et voila: