Friday, May 20, 2011

A Bike Ride to the Watershed Park

There comes a time when your work day is tough, nothing is going your way, everything seems to be miserable, when you just have to say "Screw it, I'm going riding".
Today was one of those days.
Waking up on a Friday morning with the sun shining and the birds singing.  I was hoping for a good day.  That good day turned into headache-filled morning dealing with irate clients and stupid deadlines that simply can not be achieved.  And to add to the grief, my ankle was bothering me all morning due to the previous night's bike ride.  Looking out my window there is not a cloud in the sky and it was very warm out.  The mountains were beckoning and the birds seemed to be teasing that I am stuck inside working.  I finally had enough, bad ankle and all, I dropped everything I was doing and got on my bike and rode.  Destination,  the Delta Watershed Park.

First time with a mirror.  This is a must if you do a lot of street riding.

It was a great bike ride.  This was probably one of my best 'exploration' ride that I've done.  I had no idea where I was going, I had no set route, no clue how long it was gonna take, I just went for a ride.  It was also the first time that I was able to fully test the new drop bar setup on my Cannondale.  It is now a cross/touring setup and this bike ride was the perfect test for it.  (More on the cross bike/ touring bike conversion on a later blog)
amid the trees and sunshine
Ahh Sir Alex Fraser Bridge, you were a lot steeper and longer than I had expected.
On my way to the 'watershed', despite having a GPS on my iPhone, I really did not know how to get to the Alex Fraser Bridge from the Queensborough Bridge via bicycle. I had followed this older gentleman, probably in his 50's riding his bike going in the same direction and caught up to him to ask if he knew the way.   It turns out he was also riding towards the Watershed Park.  So I had a cycling buddy to show me the way.  I must say, this gentleman schooled me all the way up the bridge.  He was in such good shape that he showed me what's up..  then I noticed the cycling jersey he was wearing, all I could see is the word 'triathlon'!  LOL, that made me feel a little better knowing I could almost keep up to a triathlete no matter how old he was.  Another thing I noticed was his beautiful 80's Eddy Merckx road bike. This thing was beautiful and I could not stop telling him this during our ride.  A bit of a mishap happened along the way.  As we were riding on a flat road with no obstacles in sight, he suddenly loses his chain. So, we end up doing bike repairs on the side of the road.  He lost a quick release link and was lucky enough to be carrying a spare.  We parted ways after the bridge as I wanted to take the gravel trails and he stayed on the roads.  This is where my bike started to shine, I had cyclocross tires on and the bike was built specifically to be able to handle rough terrain, gravel and mud as well as be a great pavement bike.  I am now fully realizing that I am riding the perfect bike for my riding style and habits... long distances on and off road.

The Watershed Park had a great mix of gravel trails and wooden paths that ran alongside a creek and hwy 91 in Delta.  I would highly recommend off-road tires through these gravel roads as they are quite rough in some areas.  A mountain bike would be ideal if you are not travelling long distances on pavement to get to the park.  It was quite a relaxing ride if you don't mind the rough gravel.  Despite the little mishap of riding over dog crap with my front wheel and having the crap flick up to my face, I still enjoyed the ride.  But PLease all you dog owners out there, pick up after your dogs!!
On my way back I had the confidence in riding on the highway, Hwy 91 to be exact, something I had never done before.  This is a very heavily used highway with extremely high speeds.  It was a fear of mine for a long time.  Surprisingly, it was actually a very relaxing ride.  The cars and the big semi trucks were speeding beside me but the shoulder of the hwy was so big that the cars did not bother me one bit.  This is another first for me in cycling and I am glad that I did it. It's a good experience for the plans that I have in the future.

The above picture is the route I had taken and was tracked using the Everytrail app on my iPhone.  The full gps tracking can be seen here  Delta Watershed Park Trip on Everytrail . Here you will see the total distance, speed, elevation and time of the whole ride.  Click on 'slideshow' at the bottom of the map to see all the geo-tagged pictures I took during this trip.  This is a wonderful app and I use it constantly on most of my long rides.
On a last note, on my way home I passed by a small Bike Shop near my neighbourhood.  I only stopped in to ask a question whether they sold Brooks saddles (unfortunately they don't) when the shop owner had quite the interest in my bike.  He knew how old the bike was and he even knew the shifters I used (more on the shifters on a later blog).  He even asked if he could lift the bike to see how heavy or light it was.  The bike definitely no longer looked even remotely close to it's original beginnings and he called me on it.  I told him about the build and that I was trying to build the 'perfect' bike for me...  The best feeling was when he just smiled and said I did a great job. He loved my bike!  This coming from someone who has seen it all and sells thousands and thousands of dollars worth of bikes.  And he seemed genuinely sincere about it.  He was truly a bicycle fan.  This made my day, knowing that what you worked on to suit your own riding style is appreciated by someone more knowledgeable and more experienced than you.  I had a great day.

Now to ice up my once again swelling ankle.  ugh.  Oh well, it was worth it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ankle Injury Progress and Update

It has been 6 weeks since I injured my ankle while skiing.  In that time I have been doing the usual rehab exercises for badly sprained ankles.  In my stubbornness I did not go see a doctor to have it checked out.  I have been here before, I knew what to do, they can't tell me more than I already know blah, blah blah..
Well,..  after 6 weeks, the ankle did not seem to be getting any better.  Every night the ankle would be swollen and I am forced to keep icing it.  I am still unable to run or make strong motions.  The ankle feels really weak and it seemed as if any wrong move I make I would easily re-injure it.  This has concerned me. So, sucking it up, I forced myself into a walk-in clinic to have it assessed.  All I wanted was to have it x-rayed just to make sure I haven't broken anything.  The good thing is if it is indeed broken, I have been doing the right things treating it as if it was a broken bone, wearing an ankle brace etc.. (except for riding my bike,  but shush, no one needs to know that).
Good news!  Nothing's broken!  Not-so-good news, there's ligament damage.  Oh well, that explains it.  I could treat this as devastating news as it would limit most of my cycling plans for the summer, the long planned trips, the bike rides up mountains etc.  but I will look at it on a positive note; I have no torn ligaments!  Woohoo!  Torn ligaments could easily take up to 6 months to heal, whereas my minor ligament damage can only take a small amount of time.  They say it could take between 6 weeks to 6 months to heal and I am already on my 6th week; nothing's torn, so I am hoping it won't be much longer.  My job is to make sure it heals fully before I start pushing myself and go on strenuous and long rides.  Maybe that 70k bike ride a few weeks ago was not such a good idea?

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Big Dilemma - Car or Bike?

Ahh, the good 'ol Cars versus Bikes debate.. I knew that I would have to write about this topic one day..
For nearly 13 years and before all this 'born-again' cyclist came about, I was all about cars, a mad passionate love affair with 'The Car'.  I guess many may consider that one of the greatest and most memorable moment in a young man 's life is finally getting his driver's licence and being able to drive a car.  Being able to take full control of the Big Machine that you've watched your father drive your whole life is a big stepping stone.  You are finally amongst the adults in their superhighway world, something forbidden from you as a child.  Your whole world all of a sudden became so much bigger and the distances you travel have become much farther.  You are now a full-blown independent motorized vehicle operator.  It is no coincidence that we have this huge following and dependency on the almighty chariot that we call car.
Now having labelled myself as the Born-Again Cyclist, I am finding myself stuck in this dilemma of choosing one over the other.  Car vs. Bike?  This is something that I am not ready to answer.  I am neither pro nor against 'the car'.  Some of the hardcore cyclists that may have found this blog are probably looking down on me right now.  Yes, I get it, cars are bad for the environment, cars are responsible for the major congestions in our cities, cars cause road rage, deaths, etc.  cars suck this cars suck that.. blah blah blah..  Trust me, I see your point and it would be difficult to argue with you.  I love cycling, I love everything good that it brings about.  In this stage of my life, I would rather be cycling than be stuck inside a car commuting from job to job.  Being inside a car gives me nothing but grief having to fight traffic and stupid drivers, finding and paying for parking and becoming the zombie that we all have become behind our steering wheels.
Having said that, I still love my cars.  I simply can not see myself not having one.  As a matter of fact, I have 4 cars...   Did I just openly admit that on a public cycling blog??  I hear hundreds of hate mails being typed up now.  Yes it's true, I have 4 cars, just as I have 4 bikes.  But not to worry, these cars will be sold eventually and only keeping the ones that I truly can not let go.  I did mention that I had a 15yr mad passionate love-affair with cars right?  In that time, I've learned how to build cars, how to make them as fast as possible, I've raced and participated on different levels in the motorsport community, I have broken and made track records.  There is no bigger rush than making 10second 1/4mile passes and hoping your car stays together, or taking a sweeper turn at 100kms/hr.  I have come to truly appreciate everything good about the car.  All my friends are gearheads, we all love the smell of race gas on a track night. I am or was THE car guy.
So what's with the 180 degree complete turnaround?  I am still unclear of the answer.  Maybe it's just a phase that I am going through, maybe it's age, who knows..  I still see myself being old and grey taking my car out to the track many years from now and making some passes, just as I see old guys now with their classic cars having fun during streetlegal nights.

On the other hand, I see my cycling as a life-long thing.  I am healthier, stronger and feel so much better when I am on a bike.  Everything about cycling is good, (except for the mass that want to completely take over the roads. more hatemails I foresee) .  I can only hope that I will still be riding til the day I can no longer walk.

This will be an ongoing dilemma for years to come.