Category Archives: Fitness

Physical activity and goals

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Conquering the Ride

We did it! My Dad and I cycled from Vancouver to Seattle over 2 days for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.   I am still recovering, and it was definitely worth it.

"Team Ward"
“Team Ward”

The weather was more or less bad, but it was a beautiful ride in spite of that.  We rode along gorgeous coastlines and through quaint, country fields.  We saw roosters and alpacas and goats and horses and cows (I love farm animals).  We got rained on (drenched, more like it) and covered in mud.  Dad had some clip issues starting out because of the mud in his shoes, and went through 2 tubes on day 2 – but we still loved it.

Our own two lanes at the border crossing!
Our own two lanes at the border crossing!

Coastline south of Blaine, Washington
Coastline south of Blaine, Washington

I didn’t think I’d like cycling with such a large amount of other cyclists.  We started out late-ish both days, which I feel was a good choice as we didn’t get passed so often, and by the time we got to camp we didn’t have to deal with line ups for bike park or showers.  Having some other cyclists and support vehicles around was actually really nice.  It kept our spirits up for the most part, and when Dad got flat tires, there were people there to help right away.  (Big thank-you to Team Finn and Dizzy Cycles!) Camp was also full of great energy, and their was a solid cover band playing til about 10pm.

Team Finn to the rescue
Team Finn to the rescue
Dizzy Cycles to the rescue! These guys know their bikes!
Dizzy Cycles to the rescue! These guys know their bikes!

The biggest mistake we made was not training enough.  Both of us were cycling 20-30km once or twice a week for the six weeks leading up to the event, but we needed to have gone out on a few very long rides leading up to the event.  Day one was 125km, day two was 114.  A piece of cake for the hardcore cyclist, but No easy feat for a casual rider.  Our bums and legs were made very sore, and yet we signed up for next year after day one.

dad ali rtcc

Can’t wait for 2015!

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Three BC Bike Rides

N. Saanich off Lochside Dr.
N. Saanich off Lochside Dr.

The Ride to Conquer Cancer is coming up fast, and my training plan got delayed as I was sick for the entire month of March. I’ve gotten back on the horse (or should I say, bike?) the last few weeks, and put in 3 different 20Km + rides.

Start at Brentwood BAy
Start at Brentwood Bay

Ride #1: The first was while visiting Vancouver Island for Easter weekend.  I was staying with in-laws, and took a late morning ride on the Sunday.  It was on the verge of rain, but stunning none the less.  Starting point was Brentwood Bay (gorgeous view), end was a park in North Saanich (also not a bad view).  Most of the ride was not a bike route – Mt. Newton Cross Rd. – but is a quiet (beautiful!!) road through rolling fields so traffic was not a problem.  I then linked up to the Lochside Drive bike route which, if it was not my first ride out and I had more time, I would have just kept on going and going.  The route stretches all the way from Victoria to Swartz Bay.  I will absolutely revisit this route during my next family visit.

Driveway off Mt. Newton Cross Rd.
Driveway off Mt. Newton Cross Rd.
Mt. Newton Cross Rd looking toward Brentwood Bay
Mt. Newton Cross Rd looking toward Brentwood Bay

Ride #2: The second was a local Vancouver ride.  I decided to visit my sister, brother in law and nephews in Richmond.  My ride-mapping app unfortunately didn’t record my ride (annoying!) but judging from time and Google maps, the distance from my place near Commercial Drive to their door  is about 20km.  The Vancouver portion was straight forward, taking 10th to Ontario and following it all the way up to 63rd.  It was a beautiful Sunny day, and the blossoms were still out.  I enjoyed the Cambie bike lane under the Skytrain, although finding my way to the bridge and then to my chosen bike route in Richmond was not familiar, and quite industrial.  On my way back I shortened my trip by hopping on the Skytrain from Brighouse to Broadway, which cut about 20 minutes off my trip home.  I had to teach that eve, so didn’t have the luxury of time.

Cambie Skytrain Bike Bridge
Cambie Skytrain Bike Bridge

Ride #3: My 3rd ride was with my friend who is also doing the RTCC in June.  We took it easy, as my legs and shoulders were feeling pretty tight.  It was a relaxed ride from East Van out to Jericho Beach and back.  We chatted and stopped a couple times along the way, and of course took advantage of sitting out at Jericho Beach for a snack break.  The 10th ave bike route is one of my favorites – the tall trees creating a leafy canopy for the entire East portion of the route. We lost track of our route just before Alma, so on the way back we took Seaside and hopped up to 7th for the West portion of our trip.  Vancouver lacks consistent signage on it’s routes, and construction can be a pain.  For the most part it’s great, but as soon as you want to skip from one route to the next, it can get a bit confusing the first time around.

Jericho Beach
Jericho Beach
East 10th Ave Bikeway
East 10th Ave Bikeway

Next on the menu will likely be Wall Street in East Van, one of my favorites, then finding our way out towards S.F.U.

If you have any suggested Vancouver routes, let me know in the comment section!

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If you want to donate to the RTCC, CLICK HERE for my personal page.

 

 

Low Maintenance Whistler Afternoon

This weekend Jeff and I stayed a couple nights at the Executive Suites in Squamish for the sake of getting out of our apartment and avoiding the temptation to work, clean and/or watch way too much Netflix.  We were mostly successful…. well… partially successful.

Sunday we slept in, lazily made our way up to Whistler with the thought of ice skating and/or cross country skiing.  Both of us were uninterested in having an itinerary filled weekend, so taking it an hour at a time seemed to work.  We stopped into La Brasserie for lunch (super cozy and kitchy), then, thanks to a very helpful Info booth woman, were directed toward Green Lake for some pristine oh-so-Canadian ice skating.

Green Lake was the highlight of our non-action packed weekend.  We put on our snow pants and bad-ass ice skates we got for Christmas, and enjoyed the perfectly clear lake, sunshine and mountains.  This experience actually topped skating at Idabel Lake (in the Okanagan) which is always a highlight to my winter.  I don’t know if I can handle skating on an indoor rink ever again.

green lake

Inspirational Bike Routes Here and There

bikes kelowna

I have put much thought into The Ride to Conquer Cancer next June and training routes.  The RTCC route from Vancouver to Seattle is about 120km each way, which I’m estimating will take me about 6 hours.  The last time I did a ride of this length was the Kettle Valley Railway in 2010 and 2009.  I did minimal training for the KVR ride, and definitely felt pretty achy during and after.   This time around, I plan to work on a slow build of distance rides.  If I can set a long ride once a month, with shorter rides in between, I think I’ll be in better condition come June.  I have 8 months to prepare, and have already done a couple 20km rides, so the next step will be a 30 – 40km route.  I’m thinking of joining the celebration ride on October 26th as a way to get accustomed to riding along-side do many other cyclists. I then may need to take it indoors for winter, and step into some spinning classes if the roads get too slippery.

Although most of my training will take place at home, I’ve made a list of my favourite routes in five of the cities I’ve cycled in or around for inspiration.  I am planning to revisit all but one of these cities before next June – so I am now making a pact with myself to make these routes a priority as a way to motivate myself as the big ride approaches.

1. McCulloch Road/Spears Road Route: Kelowna, BC

The fall is probably the best time to explore this route as you can see and smell the apples during harvesting season.  Not to mention the colours of fall are beautiful in the valley at this time of year.  This can be a long or medium ride depending on where you begin and end.  For me I’ll start near downtown, make my way to K.L.O road for a nice long warm up on the flat valley bottom, then make the climb up to the top of McCulloch road, where I get a spectacular view of the Harvest Golf Course and the valley before making my descent.

       2. Don Valley/ Lakeshore Route: Toronto, ON

When I lived in Toronto, this was my favourite option for a long ride.  This route is great because the only stops are when the Don Valley pathway intersects the Lakeshore bike path.   I tend to favour the east route, as it takes you to The Beaches, which has a long history of recreation that seems to hang in the air as you cycle through.  It’s also a route you can manage without too much meandering or tourist-in-your-own-town-ing which tends to happen to me on other bike routes in the city.

beaches toronto

  • 3. Seawall/ Stanley Park: Vancouver, BC

This is a route that requires either a hybrid or mountain bike.  Best to try this route during the week, as it’s also a top meandering destination for tourists and locals. Be sure to start out on the Coal Harbour side, or you’ll be going against traffic – it’s a one-way route!  The ride around Stanley Park is one of a kind, and you can then make your way along English Bay and around False Creek. Spectacular.

seawall english bay

4. Point Pleasant Park: Halifax

This is the one route I will not get a chance to visit this year, but I thought I’d mention it as it had an impact.  Also a great route to visit in autumn, although you’ll have to dodge all the leaf-watchers. The park has all sorts of paths throughout and is hilly, so good for pushing those leg muscles.  If you’re lucky, you might even see or hear a whale on its way to or from the Bedford Basin.

point pleasant park

5. Parque Aztlan eco-reserve / Playa Linda: Ixtapa Mexico

This is route takes you through a little bit of jungle and ends with spectacular pay-off of a gorgeous palm-tree lined beach. I have made the mistake in the past of starting out to late in the day, and end up speed cycling back at dusk as large unidentified insects smash into my face and my imagination runs wild with crocodile attacks.  It’s best to hit this fantastic route up first thing in the morning, which means limiting your tequila intake the night before.

playa linda

If I’ve sparked your interest in cycling, why not check out the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  It’s always great to have a goal to motivate yourself to get out and be active.

For More information on the RTCC Vancouver, Click Here.

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Check them out on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/BCRide

Burnaby Heights Bike Ride

View from Burnaby Heights neighborhood park
View from Burnaby Heights neighborhood park

Every Monday I take the Adanac Bikeway from Vancouver  out to Burnaby Heights.  I’ve recently signed up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer 2014 and so this weekly ride is something of a baby step towards my training.    Last week I decided to make a mini-adventure of it and explore the neighborhood a little.

The ride out on Adanac is great.  It’s hilly, but there’s enough up and down that momentum helps you half way up most of the steep climbs.  My first stop was Burnaby Heights Park.  It wasn’t really what I’d expected, but it was still a lovely spot.   I was thinking it would be a nature-y, hilly park with trails, trees and benches.  Something a little more poetic.  The park in reality is very much a ‘neighborhood’ park complete with playground and sports field.  It does, however, have an amazing North/East view.  Sports fields with mountain views aren’t too hard to come across in the lower mainland, but this one has a ‘top-of-the-world’ feeling about it.

After the park I wandered around Burnaby Heights on Hastings and grabbed an early lunch before heading back.  There are some great murals on the sides of commercial spaces all along  the strip, and the neighborhood has retained little pieces of its history.  My favourite thing was the ‘girl on a swing’ below the “Heights” sign outside the Meat Market (photo below).

The view of the city on the return ride is great – dipping in and out of view as you climb and descend- although early morning or early evening is definitely the best time if the view is your number 1 priority.  If you want to get a glimpse of the PNE on the ride back – complete with screams from the roller coaster – take Pandora Street down to Cassiar and then cross Hastings to get to Adanac.  (Watch that you don’t take the wrong side of the street and end up on the freeway.  This happened to me once and was rather terrifying!)


Mural on the old Regent Theatre
Mural on the old Regent Theatre
West facing view on East Hastings St.
West facing view on East Hastings St.

Bheights view

Next time I want to ride all the way out to SFU – it’s a good ‘next-step’.  I think I need to properly learn how to change a bike tire first though (which I’ll need for my big ride next summer), or just go with enough change to take the bus home in case of an emergency!

For more information on the Ride to Conquer Cancer, or to sign up for the Vancouver Ride  – Click Here.

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Salt Spring Stopover

This weekend my bf and I went to Ganges on Salt Spring Island to crash my parents camping trip.  (Note: for a low-maintenance gettaway – crashing someone else’s vacation is a great ‘no-fuss’ option).  We thought we had brought all we needed, but realized on the way to the ferry that we had forgotten the tent (borrowed from my sister).  Oops! Only a slight oversight!  No worries though, we were able to pick one up at Mouat’s for $70.  Now we have our very own tent – not a bad deal!  It’s pretty basic, but did the trick for the 2 night stay.

We stayed at Garden Faire campground – a sweet little spot just a 10 minute walk from town in Ganges.  One of the highlights of Garden Faire is the in-garden outdoor shower and bathroom – a very Zen washroom experience – I really should have taken a photo!

My parents were there to kayak, Jeff and I were there to hang out and do a little cycling – so this was a super conveinient place for some low-key camping.

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We spent our first half-day checking out the Saturday market (an obvious draw on the island) and turning into our campsite fairly early in the evening to set up, make dinner and indulge in good red wine and conversation.  Can’t beat a selection of Burrowing Owl and Quails Gate when ‘roughing it’ in the great outdoors.

On Day Two – our only full day there – Jeff and I took the bikes out to St. Mary’s Lake for some fresh water swimming.  At first we could only find a small public access beach crowded with young families (somewhat entertaining, but not really our scene).  We hung around there for a bit, but didn’t feel right about swimming, as we were relying on underwear as suits.   Plus we figured the pee levels in the water would be fairly high – considering the ratio of 3 year olds to adults.   Luckily, as we were heading back along the lake, we noticed a rough pathway down to the water, and found a perfect spot off of some flat rocks for swimming and sunning.  It was the perfect little watering hole, and highly satisfying after our family beach experience.  After our swim, I lay on the rock along the water with my arm dangling in like it was an all-natural swimming pool.

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On the way back from our swim, I had to take a photo of the Salt Spring Island Cinema – How cute is this?!  Jeff thought it would be a perfect spot to premier an indie horror flick – complete with little old graveyard in the back.

Salt Spring Cinema
Salt Spring Cinema

That evening we opted to go for dinner in town – not exactly rustic living!  I’m normally a fan of full-on cook-your-own-food campfire style camping – but since we only had a day and a half, this was perfect.  We hit up Moby’s on the water for a full face-stuffing.  The entrees were good, the appy’s and desert were awesome – and friendly service.   I was a little disappointed that it was no longer an oyster bar, I think they recently changed ownership.  In any case, I’d recommend it for a casual dinner.

We left the Island the next morning on the 10:35am ferry.  This one had two stops along the way and took twice as long as the trip there.  In the future I’d try to plan that part a little better.   Can’t complain too much – I did see a super cute seal swimming by on our return trip – so I suppose that makes up for it.  Next time round, we may attempt a full cycling/camping adventure – all we need is the right gear.