A Better Bike Ride

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This week’s club ride featured a meandering ride through the Holland Marsh. I would characterize it as a bit of an unclear ride through farmland and some rural industrial areas.  In that way, it reminded me of some aspects of my tour of Vietnam.  Though, I have to say, I did not have to dodge stray livestock and herds of cattle.  We passed some canals, got several views of the 400 highway, passed a tractor, and met with many courteous drivers.

As for the ride, it was a beautiful day and my group was quite fun and friendly. The pace was good and the weather was beautiful; not too hot and not too cold, but bright and sunny.  Every rider in the group remarked on it at some point.

There was a new club member there and he had a bit of tough time with it. I tried to draft for him, but he was a bit nervous about being on my wheel.  I can’t say I blame him.  He had a nice new Trek bike and a whole pile of Trek gear on.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have clipless pedals and suffered for it.

The ride leader was lucky enough to be on an ebike. When I tried matching his cadence on an uphill section I found myself falling back terribly.  Lucky enough gravity was on my side on the downhill sections.  That is how I came to set my current speed record for this year that you can see in the picture above.  I did have a minor wobble and question whether the speed is worth it–but then I forgot my questions and enjoyed the speed again.

As a last word, this week was better than last week. All told, I rode about 76kms with an average speed of 24km/hr.  By the end, I was lagging, but doing okay.  My slightly altered cleat position meant that my cycling shoes and socks were no longer getting dirty from the chain.  My body is still sore, but not nearly as sore as it was last week.  I won’t call it Perfect, but I am satisfied.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, exercise | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silver Lining?

Even when you win, you lose. Sorry, but there is no way I can manipulate this into a Perfect Moment.  I could easily dub this a horrific moment.  If you can somehow find the silver lining in this, please let me know.

The other day, when I was so happily getting my pictures printed in large size, I also bought some other things at the store. Nothing out of the ordinary.  Just regular foodstuffs.  I bought some milk.  Plain, white, 2% milk (don’t judge).  The horrific thing is, when I got home I scanned the receipt to ensure that I got my bonus points–yeah, probably should have looked at it in the store.  Actually, based on what happened, I am very happy that I did not look at the receipt.  In fact, I wish I had never looked at the receipt.

You see, they gave me a senior’s discount. I was under the impression that seniors were people who were 65 and over.  I am only 47.  I am not even in my 50’s.  I am not a senior.  It’s fantastic to receive a discount, but I think my pride is worth more than 85 cents.  Was it just because I was there in the early afternoon when people are supposed to be working?  Did she just make a mistake on the cash register?  Does the scraggly staycation beard make me look old–I’ll never go without shaving again.  Argggggh!  Do I look so old?

I asked if there was a silver lining, fully aware that there was a horrible pun involved in that line, but I am too shaken to change it. I feel like Charlie Brown leaning against Lucy’s Psychiatry stand with no nickel in my pocket.

I don’t know if I ever want to shop there again.  I have a lot of Optimum Points though.

 

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More Pictures for my Walls

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I consider this a self-portrait

 

I wouldn’t call myself much of a photographer, but thanks to a decent amount of travel, I have taken a decent amount of photos. Thanks to inspiration and pure luck, I have also taken a few good photographs.  I want to say great, but that simply isn’t true.  If they are of my friends and family or if they reflect my life experiences and create a sense of nostalgia, then they’re probably great to me, but I can’t extend that label beyond my small circle.

After my Vietnam trip, I promised myself that I would blow up some of the photos and get them printed.  I considered getting a book made (and based on the number of photos I finally printed, this would have been a good idea), but opted for prints as I want to decorate some of the bare walls in my house.  Today was the day, I fulfilled that promise.  It required some fidgety time at the store computer, but I am quite happy.

Now I have to figure some frames. I don’t really want to blow the budget on the frames, but I don’t want complete crap either.  Also, I don’t know if I should go for some standard frames–like most of them the same, or if I should try to find individual frames.  I think I will have to consult my friend over at One Beautiful Thing (OBT), as she has excellent taste.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, decorating, photography, pictures | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life’s Classroom

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As the cycling season gets going, there are always things that need fixing, updating, replacing. This is probably true of every sport, activity, or pastime. So far this year, I have changed my bib shorts, the batteries in my cycling computer, the card in my wallet.  Today, I changed the cleats on my cycling shoes.  I noticed on last weekend’s ride that the left one was coming loose rather easily.  I considered this a safety issue and decided to replace them immediately.  I could have waited another ride (probably) but I thought better of it.  They look so shiny and new.  I wish I had taken a photo of the gnarly ones I took off, just for juxtaposition.

Now, let’s be honest. Buying cleats for my cycling shoes is not Today’s Perfect Moment.  Considering how much these pieces of plastic cost, it might be considered Today’s Worst Deal, or Today’s Worst Expenditure, but nothing close to perfect.

What was Perfect, was spending time in the bicycle shop getting some more knowledge. The attendant, Nigel, gave me lots of good advice about riding, pedal floating, seat height, tire wear, and the advantages of 25mm tires over 23mm tires.  This may mean nothing to you, but I am sure you can apply it to something in your life.  Think about learning about one of your interests.  Thing about seeing someone perform the way you aspire to.  Think about someone so sincere and infectious answering all your questions without judgement.

I am a teacher, but I am always fascinated by life’s classroom. When I get to hear from someone who has knowledge (as opposed to blowhards that don’t and only want to dominate a conversation–yes, I work with a few of those) I really enjoy it.  When I get to talk to someone who really loves what they do, I really take it all in.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, bike shop, cycling, cycling gear, knowledge, shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Back in the Saddle

After weeks of procrastination, valid and less than valid excuses, and an east coast trip, I finally made it out with the cycling club. Like all first rides of the season, it wasn’t worth writing home about.  It is worth writing a blog about, however.

Pre-Ride

Like every first ride, I forget how long I take to get ready.

I have to:

  • make sure the tires are fully inflated. Doing that the night before is never good enough.
  • put on my sunblock. There’s no point in getting all lobster on the first ride.  It’s bad enough that I will have arm and leg tans that heavily reflect my cycling.  Actually, this is pretty cool to me, but it requires explaining, and special to my students. It also requires the teaching of some specific vocabulary.
  • make sure I have my membership card, ID, and some money. I think that is pretty self explanatory.
  • make sure I have my spare tube, tire levers and a couple of tools.
  • check that the bike is working properly and worry about it being lubed up
  • stash a cliff bar and maybe a gel in the back of my jersey.
  • put my phone in a waterproof bag.
  • make sure my jersey still fits after a winter of gaining weight (it did….barely)
  • leave on time.

This all sound routine, but really isn’t on the first ride.

The Ride

Well, I wanted to join the slowest group which were taking the shortest route. I managed to do the first one (and trailed in the rear for most of the ride), but failed on the second.  It seems I missed the opportunity to shorten the ride because I saw a strong rider turn off alone and just thought they were going for a “hammer” ride.  Oooops.  I ended up doing an 78km ride to the lake, instead of short turning it and heading home.  Luckily for me, the group leader took pity on me and made sure I didn’t have to ride it alone.  She even picked out a less hilly route–seeing as I was able to make up the hill, but at a pace that made the tortoise laugh.  On the hills, as my friend Craig would say, I was rubbish.  The last twenty kilometres were rather painful.

Post Ride

I am sore. Really sore.  I am going to have to up my fitness a lot this year.  This is especially true if I want to go on another cycling trip this year–and I do. (Sri Lanka, Cambodia or Chile)

Despite the struggle, I had a great time on the bike and enjoyed the ride (except the last twenty kilometres) and will be out there again next Saturday….and hopefully Sunday.

My Stats

My non staggering stats are as follows.

  • Distance: 90kms (including home and back)
  • Average speed: 23.31 (I dogged it on the way back–most of the trip were cruising in the 30’s)
  • Max speed 51.9 KM/hr. (down hill)

 

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, cycling gear, exercise, fitness, group rides, Newmarket Eagles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Again

I was inspired to write this post because I caught a bit of St. Elmo’s Fire on TV the other day, and wanted to watch the whole thing.  I had already seen the movie, but it was so long ago that it called for a  repeat.  After an enjoyable viewing, I started to think….

Entertainment is a funny thing with me. I don’t often read a book more than once and I don’t watch the same movies over and over again.  Maybe it is part of my desire to always be searching for something new.  Maybe, after subconsciously doing the math, I have realized that if I want to see all of it (or more of it than average) there really isn’t time to see some things twice.

That is not to say that I don’t watch some movies more than once or read some books more than once. Some books and movies become touchstones.  Some have some built in comfort while some others benefit from repeat visits.  Below is my list.

Movies I watch regularly

Lost in Translation–It might be because it is about Japan.  It might me be because it is one of the few movies that really “gets” Japan and doesn’t reduce Japan to too much of a stereotype.  Everyone I know who has been there loves the movie.  I wish I could thank Sofia Coppola personally.

The Breakfast Club–I love this movie. I laugh, I sympathize, I wonder.  I get to replay the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate in the form of Claire vs. Allison.  Thank you Mr. Hughes.  You did a very good job.

Books I read regularly

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance–As I commented to someone just the other day (on a blog on WordPress) you have to read this book more than once. Not because you will have missed something, but because you will have found something.

The Sun Also Rises–I could talk this book into the ground and maybe some of you won’t agree. I don’t care.  Every couple of years I read this book and each time it is like the first time.  Each time, I wonder if we have lost something.  I wonder if I was born in the wrong time.  I also wonder why no one can write a book like this one about Japan–then I remember that it should be me.

Which books can you read more than once? Which movies are good for multiple viewings?

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, movies, reading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vacation Beer

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Why is it that vacation beer tastes so good?

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Lexical Combat

There is nothing wrong with a little competitive spark. At least that is how I feel today.  I am not writing this to get into a debate about whether kids should just play for fun (and everyone gets a trophy) or kids should play in competitive games where there are winners and losers, and losing is part of the lesson.  It’s a fun topic, but not really where I am going, and definitely something I haven’t made up my mind about.

What I am talking about is healthy family competition. Okay, perhaps it isn’t exactly healthy, but familial competition is probably our earliest exposure to competition.  Yes, I could go all psychological and talk about sibling jealousy and other stuff, but I was really thinking of who gets the toy from the cereal box or who gets to ride shotgun.  Since most people plug in their own music, radio control is now out of the equation.  I might as well sit in the back.

So, what spurred this little rambling? I’ll tell you.  Words With Friends.  Yes, that’s right.  I am engaged in lexical combat with my mother and my siblings.  I am proud to say I am crushing them without having to resort to the dictionary function.  They are going to read this (maybe) and they might be furious, but that is how the cookie crumbles–or should I say, that is how the tiles lay.

I am not always competitive.  I joined a cycling club, but have never been to one of their race events, not even as a spectator.  I rarely feel the need to speed off when the light turns green.  I was pretty content to be the lowest ranked member of the dart team.

Why am I being so ultracompetitive now? I am not sure.  It could be that because it is a word based game that I feel compelled to defend my education.  I was an English Lit major and I am always going on about how large my vocabulary is.  I also feel quite accomplished at the jumble puzzle. I want to show how fast I can solve the thing.  I do crosswords in pen.

Growing up, I played a lot of board games with my family and friends. I seem to remember Careers, Who’s it, Life, and a few others being popular.  For my sister who is reading this, I know, I left out Tension–but really, that was less of a game than an appeasement.

I don’t remember any of these games being very cutthroat–though I have been involved in some full contact Monopoly games. I would have to guess that card games were more highly contested in my family.  We played a lot of them, including some that came with mild consequences.  It’s a good thing Texas No Limit Hold’em wasn’t the juggernaut it is today–if it existed at all.  As it was, War, Old Maid, Gin, Rummy and concentration were tense enough.

The tide turned when Trivial Pursuit was invented and that became the standard game at home. That opened up a whole new door of grief as to how close you could be to the answer or how exact your answer should be.

As for today, I am locked in some tough word battles, but I might yet prevail.  I am playing while writing this and as a result, this post is taking a long time to compose.  Competing isn’t Today’s Perfect Moment, but recognizing the competitor within certainly is.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, competitions, education, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Direct from Switzerland

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As a teacher in a private English school, in no way associated with a school board or university, it is okay to receive gifts from students. What I mean is, these gifts are not meant to influence student placement, acceptance, or any kind of academic standing.  I wouldn’t want you to think we had a mini corruption thing going on.

In the past I have gotten coffee mugs, cards, shells, sand art, stones, magnets, mini licence plates and a variety of things. Lately, I have shared some of them with you.  Most recently I was fortunate enough to have been given the object pictured above.

Obviously, it came from Switzerland.

Less obviously..

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Yes, it is made entirely out of chocolate. Kitsch perhaps, but cool nonetheless.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Canada, chocolate, ESL, gifts, students, Swiss, Swiss Army, teaching, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Brazilian, Anyone?

It is the end of my current teaching session. My students will take their big test next week (CAE) and I will be keeping my fingers crossed that they are all successful.  Seeing as it was the last day, tradition dictated that we go out for lunch.

In years past, I have been to a couple of Mexican restaurants, but mostly we’ve gone to an all you can eat Chinese food place, which had a lot of food that I really thought had no connection to China. I’m not going to lie, some of it is very delicious, even though so little of it belongs in a Chinese restaurant (pizza, roast beef, french fries….you get the idea).  Today, the students opted for something totally different.

We had lunch at a Brazilian restaurant. This is not uncommon for students at my school, as we have a large, proud and vocal about their food, Brazilian population, it seemed an odd choice for my class which had no Brazilians.

Nonetheless, the food was delicious and plentiful. I had the chance to order and eat outside my comfort zone.  I finally got to understand what my students were talking about.

After that, we went for a delicious Italian coffee at an Italian coffee bar –sorry I didn’t take any photos.  Unlike the tale above, we did have an Italian student with us.  He was from Rome, so he spent a lot of time talking about Totti’s retirement.  I couldn’t quite follow, but he seemed quite passionate about it.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Brazil, ESL, ethnic food, food, food shopping, restaurant, students | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment