Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Mmmm... a taste of the Pacific Northwest.

Hello from the GVRD, the Greater Vancouver Regional District

First Lookout, Cypress Mountain
Have you ever found yourself pre-occupied with thoughts of food, or is it just me? The other day I was down in Steveston

when the thought of an egg with ham and melted cheese on toast suddenly appeared from out of nowhere, persistent as fuck. I couldn't think of anything else for almost thirty kilometers until finally I got home and satisfied my craving. A few weeks ago I stepped on the scale, and the damned thing announced that I weighed 163 lbs. Holy crap. I am seriously dense. At that weight I should be six feet tall but instead of growing up, I'm already shrinking. I was surprised to see the number, but not really shocked. The clothes speak truth. If you've already guessed that I don't use the scale much, you're right. It's ancient, and it probably doesn't even tell the truth. Sometimes it gets stuck at zero and you have to jump on it a few times to get it to tell you anything at all. It babbles not. The only reason I stepped on it in the first place is that my clothes were feeling uncomfortably snug and I wanted to quantify how snug. It's bad. The last time I weighed anywhere north of 160 I'd not long ago born a babe.

But my shoulder is stabilized, and I've been riding again, blessed be. And suddenly I am not quite so fat. Yesterday that scale read 156 when I (literally!!) jumped on it. I don't feel much different yet, but it's encouraging, in any event.

And everyone knows that getting rid of fat is to some extent a function of getting fit. For me the fitness is essential for all sorts of good reasons, and helping burn those pesky calories I so love to consume is just one of them. And I love to share my passion with other people. Road racing season is over. I miss riding with my fast friends. Many of them have switched to Cross Country, or CX. I would love to join in the fun, but it would probably take me about half an hour to dislocate or break something, so I'll have skip the whole cross thing. But damn. People are mad for the sport. Seriously. It does something to a person, something I would love to discover firsthand, but it isn't meant to be, not now, not ever. I intend to spend some time at the track this year, though it won't be a full training program, so you'll find me doing the #dawnpatrol,

and as often as not, looping Stanley Park first thing in the morning. Sometimes I even have company! There's a group of cyclists who meet weekday morningsfor a gentle SPloop or two before they stop at an interesting coffee shop or bakery. It's called IndieJavaFest, and if you're interested in joining, just shoot me an email and I will ask the administrator to add you to the mailing list. Ooooooor you can just come to Stanley Park at stoopid o'clock. Strava has a new feature that allows you to see where your friends are at the moment. I'll track my rides with my phone so you can find me. And please do, at least this month. Because company is good, and meeting other people who like to ride bikes always floats my boat.

Bikes and boats: an easy fit.
So food. Being fat sucks cause suddenly I start thinking about food at the strangest times. Does that ever happen to you? My little guy is always hungry, too, and sometimes it shocks me how much he can eat, but he's growing up leaps and bounds- he's a full six inches taller than he was a year ago!! He has an excuse, while I am just pre-occupied with food. I dunno about you, but I've noticed that when I eat too many carbs I put on weight. Sugar is especially bad, something to do with the insulin response. I need to eat more protein and fewer sugars and carbs in order to drop any weight. But sugar is an analgesic and I Love analgesics. Sugar makes babies feel better when given orally, and I can testify that it sure works a charm in prolotherapy injections. I love sugar, evil as it is to my waistline. But then I love all sorts of foods. The trick is to eat more of the good foods and fewer sugar infested treats. 'Cept when I'm riding hard. Then I do eat all of those yummy, sugary carbs and I enjoy them guilt free until my jeans get tight.

I credit having lost a few pounds this month to my renewed morning rides, and to enjoying more of my favourite savoury foods, and fewer sweet ones. Oh, and I also avoided alcohol quite adamantly when I was unwell, but less so as my health improved. I tried to quit, but damned it, quitting is for quitters. Summer is all about salads, right? I have a quest in life which I truly indulge during the hottest months of the year. One day, I will discover the ultimate seafood salad. But the year is most definitely on the wane now. Summer is over.

Autumn heralds the beginning of soup season, and I have a definite favourite when it comes to making soup. We were at the Washington Avenue Grill the day after the memorial service for my uncle, and both my brother and I ordered the hot pots, he the vegetarian, and me the seafood version. After trying it, both my adult son and his girlfriend exclaimed that mine is much better. It probably speaks unsavoury things about my personality, but THAT bit was my favourite moment of the whole weekend. I keep meaning to record creating my favourite recipes for you, only damn!! It's complicated and time consuming creating those little YouTube movies, and time? Time is precious. Specially when I am riding enough to keep my serotonin levels where I need them.

But you really should try this. It's yummy.

Babble's Hot Pot

3-4 generous tbs butter or coconut oil
1 jumbo sweet onion diced
3 sticks of celery diced
4-6  med potatoes diced
3-4 large carrots, grated
2+ tbs cilantro (coriander) leaf paste - (Gormet Garden is great) or one bunch of fresh
2+ tbs lemon grass (Gormet Garden again) or a big handful of fresh, 1" pieces
juice of one lemon
1 can coconut milk
4 cubes organic chicken stock and water to taste
1-2 lbs protien of choice (I prefer a combination of prawns, scallops, and cod, but you can use any fish you like, or even chicken if you prefer)
* a few slices bacon (cut into small strips with kitchen scissors) is optional, especially if you are using chicken. If you choose this route, I recommend skipping the shredded carrots and adding sweetlet peas a few minutes before serving.
pinch of cayenne pepper

Sautee the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots, (and the bacon bits and chicken now if you are going that route) and add the herbs and spices, the lemon and finally, when it is hot hot hot, add the stock. Cook the soup till the potatoes are soft, and then add the fish and the coconut milk (and the peas if you are doing chicken) for the final few minutes, so that it is just gently cooked.

Sooooo good.  Mmmm. And good for you, too. Did you know that coconut oil is very good for your cardiovascular systems, despite its being a saturated fat? Very cool. And it tastes great, too.

Do you have a go-to recipe, a favourite food? I have a few. People tell me that they're yummy, so you should try them. I love love love an almond or cashew milk matcha latte in the morning, almost every morning. Again it's so good, and so good for you. McDonalds is damned, because the very best tasting foods are always full of tasty fresh ingredients. The fresher the better. Maybe one day soon I will turn my phone's camera on the proceedings so you can try it, too. Ha. Ok, so true confession time. The Sound Check video makes me cringe, so I am reluctant to capture anything else. Sigh. But then I used to be afraid to cross the Lions Gate Bridge, too, only I've done it so many times now that I don't even think about it, except to curse all of that damned fat as I crawl up the incline slow as molasses in a Moscow January. #Icandothis

It has been absolutely gorgeous here in Vancouver of late. Perfect riding weather, the best ever. Everything is quiet at the club for some reason. Used to be we had a Tuesday night ride and a Saturday ride, too. That, a stoopid o'clock or few and the Vets on Sunday and Bob's yer uncle. My #dailygrind sorted. I really should be at the track, working on my #legspeed. Oops. Sorry bout that. I get #carriedaway sometimes. I have a bad case of #hashtagitis.#Ihavespentwaytoomuchtimeonline  #OMG!!! #ohhelpIcan'tstop!!!

Oh thank God. I did it, #atleastfornow.We had a mini holiday on the Sunshine Coast last weekend, riding from Kits to Horseshoe Bay, and then ferrying to Langdale before finally stopping in Gibsons. We spent the night out on the water. The next morning we explored the town for a little while, too. We stopped at a few places, but my favourite was Gospel Rock.

There is nothing quite so deeply blue as the reflection of the sky in the waters of the mighty Pacific ocean. It was the perfect day to ride. So what do you think? Would you care to join me? I love that so many of you, my one hundred readers, are situated all over the planet. If ever you find yourself here in Vancouver, please do look me up, so that I can share with you the city I love so dearly.

Iona Beach
I can't wait to show you my favourite rides. I am going to push the lot of you to come here next August for sure, but really I would love to see you any time. Oh here we go. Oh Help... I can't ... stop... #cometovancouver! #joinme  #babblerides #friendsdontletfriendsgetfat #ridewithme #rideyourworriesaway #letsplay

Friday, 11 September 2015

Babblelogue... a work in progress.

Hello from Vancouver, home of the happy palm tree.

If you were a duck or a fish this summer might not have been one of your top ten, but if you're a palm tree? You're in luck.

Headed to Keats #pinkgoesfastser #cyclelikeagirl
How does it happen? Has it been a week already??? Big week. My bike and I went from Kits to Keats and back again, and then down to White Rock to say goodbye to a man who was once an integral part of my life. The final goodbye.

A big, stubborn part of me just wants to go away, ride my bike and heal quietly, but there's so much to post about!! Some of these things are very extremely exceptionally cool, and you should be in the know. The first item is very exciting. It's something which will happen in the dog days of summer, 2016.

This is important, especially if you are over thirty, so listen up. The inaugural Americas Masters Games will be held in Vancouver in August, 2016. It will be fashioned after the European Master's Games now in their second decade. This will be a similar World Masters Event, held in the tradition of the Olympic games, with opening and closing ceremonies, along with a series of cultural events designed to entertain and delight as they showcase the many diverse and beautiful aspects of this city. Cycling BC and the BC Masters Cycling Association are both on board and working hard to ensure that our province is well represented, so you can expect to see some of our biggest and brightest elite athletes at the games.

The thing which makes the World Masters events so well loved and attended is that they allow anybody to test their mettle.  Anybody - from anywhere - is welcome to compete. Yes, that means you. Are you an athlete? Are you over thirty, or will you be over thirty by the 26th of July, 2016? Sweet! Sign up! There are dozens of different sports, but in terms of cycling, it's the same as any race held today, from the local crits to the provincial and national championships: the only barrier to entry is to prove that you're licensed to race. So book your holidays! Come to Vancouver in August to compete in the Americas Masters Games! 

The prettiest place to come and play
Are you a runner? Lucky you. You don't need a license to run. You don't need one for volleyball or baseball, either. All you need is a few co-ordinated friends. Don't call on me for your baseball team, though. I don't qualify, and besides. I am going to be busy riding my bike. :)

I think that's it for the first item on today's agenda. Any questions? Yeah? You can try me, (though as usual, I know very little) or you can improve your odds. Go to the BC Masters' Facebook page, and ask Bill. He's the guy at the helm of the BC Masters' Cycling Association. Oh yeah, and he said "We need to appeal to women above all." Did you hear that? He's right, of course. There aren't nearly enough women on bikes, though certainly there are more today than there used to be. K.  So grab your wife, your sister, your wife's sister's friends, and her friends and the whole lot of you should come to Vancouver next summer. And then we can all play to win.

This is gonna be huge, and you really should be a part of it. It's like the Olympics for the rest of us. C'mon! Train up! Let's make this the best World Masters event yet.

I am still quite fat and out of shape, but I will do absolutely everything in my power to peak at my utmost personal best for next year's Masters Games. You are free to join me in training over the next eleven and a half months. Starting tomorrow morning, with a practice run of the Vancouver Fondon't.

This won't be me tomorrow morning
As you may or may not already know, I have ridden the Whistler Gran Fondo a couple of times. It is a fairly expensive bike ride, all things considered, but I would consider doing it again in any event for a few good reasons. 1) The cars are all diverted to the other side of the highway. It's the one and only day of the year when for a few brief hours in the morning the Sea to Sky highway (northbound) is cleared of motor vehicle traffic. This is huge, because there are sections along the way where a cyclist must normally stick to a path between the rumble strips and the drainage gates. Usually that's alright, but there are places where the way is worryingly narrow. No cars equals beaucoup peace of mind. Big. Huge. Relief. This alone is almost worth the price of entry. Sigh... I wish there were more car-free moments the world over. B) It's clean, and I am not talking about the improved air quality, either. As a club we at Escape Velocity rode from Squamish to Whistler and back one day this summer, and the number of flats we suffered was outrageous, thanks to all of the detritus on the roads. iii) It's HUGE! This matters. No matter what you might think of being part of a big athletic event, it is a powerfully, overwhelmingly positive experience. You are probably already aware that as a cyclist we definitely enjoy safety in numbers, but you might not understand how much joy and empowerment such and event incurs. Happiness is priceless.

But. Despite the benefits of riding from Vancouver to Whistler for the Fondo, it IS a painful amount of money to drop for a few hours of bike riding. And one of the things I love about riding a bike is that it is not a snob sport, even though we sport the best Snob. See... there is also a lot of great riding right here in the lower mainland, and it doesn't even cost any dollars to ride it, much less two or three hundred, with one exception. If you want to cross the mighty Fraser River at the George Massey Tunnel, then you will have to either pay a bus driver or swim. I recommend a bus, as the shuttle doesn't run very often. It doesn't cost anything other than what you might spend on food and drinks. And spare inner tubes should you try riding on a road that sees a lot of traffic, like we did on our way to Whistler this summer.

So... following in Bike Snob's footsteps, I am going to ride a Fondon't. Shoulda probably planned this months ago, but that's not how I roll. Besides. Months ago, I didn't know that I was going to be competing in the World Masters first Americas Games as I embarked upon my second half century. Suddenly the pressure is on!!

So. Tomorrow morning, I am going to ride around like somebody on The Wednesday Weed. I am going to try all of the best bike routes, racking up a few km and thinking of ways to connect my favourite rides together in an event a few folks might want to try. The Whistler Gran Fondo is tomorrow, and also the Masters Championship, rescheduled to run concurrently with the Fondo because of issues in August. So everybody I know will be busy during the fondo, and also: planning. Most people plan things and won't be able to drop everything to show up for a ride at nine am Saturday morning. So consider this your warning: The full-on you've got warning Fondon't proper will be coming soon, weather permitting. Fondon'ts haven't the rules a sanctioned race has, so we can be fairweather Freds, and we shall. Nevertheless there will in fact BE a Fondon't of sorts tomorrow morning. Beginning at Musette at nine in the morning, and likely headed somewhere toward Belcarra ... or Richmond... or Burnaby, or (and if you can believe it, at this point it actually appears to be this option) all three of the above. Or something. We'll see how it goes. There's a lake up there which might make a great Fondon't destination, come to think of it. Only this particular ride has a few beer stops thrown in, or so I've been told.

Sounds suitably crazy? This reconnaissance Fondon't will happen in the guise of a club ride, but you are still welcome to join us. Just go to the Escape Velocity site, print out and sign the waiver. And then join us on a mission. There might just possibly be only you and me on this ride, in which case I won't insist on your waiver. Like I said, almost everybody I know is riding to Whistler that morning, and those that aren't riding there will in all likelyhood avoid our typical starting spot, Musette Cafe, because it is a stone's throw from the staging area. The fondo is so big that the downtown core is innundated with bikes. It's actually quite awesome to see, but by the time we are setting out, the best riders will be two thirds of the way to Whistler, so that the only cyclists left on those downtown streets will be the fatties like me who stayed in bed till ten past seven!

I wonder what would be the best way to introduce a visitor to the city from the perspective of a cyclist, and how best to take them away from it all... tomorrow will tell. Speaking of getting away from it all, it really is time for the annual pilgrmage to Hornby Island, though as my uncle just passed on, I will have to pass this time.

K. I will probably add more photos later on, but for now, it is what it is. Hopefully we'll see you at Musette tomorrow morning at nine am!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Winding down: the dog days of summer.

Waiting out the storm. As these guys were taking shelter by False Creek a waterspout was spotted off Point Grey.
Hello peeps!
We have had quite a week. I can't wait to tell you all about it, but first I need to go and ride my bike for a bit. Back in a flash...