Ode to a winter’s ride

13 01 2012

O Lapierre, how I’ve missed you so.

It’s been more than two months since last I stood astride your lithe silhouette.

And though it was cold enough to glaze the streams and sloughs, the sun’s glow and the thought of mounting you warmed me

Preparing for our rendezvous was no small task

A cacaphony of layers pulled from the closet and drawers

Each warmer than the last

First one shirt, then two than three

The booties pulled tightly over my shoes

The flaps of the cap beneath my helmet pulled down over my ears

Heavy gloves formed snugly over my fingers

We clip-clopped to the elevator for our date with destiny

O how I’ve longed for this reunion

however brief it may turn out to be

And so we set out on our sojourn

Legs pumping, out united selves thrusting forward along the chipped and gritty pavement

It’s been dry lo the past three days, but still there is grime and cinder

Lapierre, soiled by the winter's grit

The occasional patch of frost of which to be wary

Nostrils burn

Chest heaves

Eyes tear

Leaden clouds slide in from the western horizon

Could they be bringing snow?

We press on

past familiar shoreline and brush, the leaves brown in their winter crispness

Ducks huddle together

Crows converge of road kill rats

The passing trucks give us wide berth, surprised to see us perhaps?

I can feel you beneath me, yearning to go faster, farther

as we had so often in the blush of summer’s warmth

But the hiatus has not been kind to my thighs

And the cold air is beginning to penetrate my layers

Just shy of 20 kilometres, it’s time to turn around you and I, to retrace the steps of our flirtation

This is how it had started many months ago when first we met

This is how it starts again, our second season together

Who knows where the road will take us…

The envelope please

9 01 2012

I saw War Horse the other day, officially bringing to a close my 2011 movie-going season. And while there’s still some 2011 films to be seen, either at the theatre or on blu-ray, I’ve seen enough to compose my annual Top 10 list. For the record, War Horse is not on it; in fact, it would be somewhere near the Bottom 10.

In no particular order, of 51 films seen, here’s The Big Ring’s Top 10:
Martin Scorcese does a kid’s movie; who’d have thunk? And he does it so very very well, creating a film that bewonders children and the child in all of us while crafting a wonderful journey to the earliest days of film history. Scorcese has the utmost respect for his craft’s origins and his love for film’s forefathers oozes through every frame of this beautiful, magical movie.





Win Win

Paul Giamaitti excels at playing the everyday schlub who ambles through life often in spite of himself. Here he’s a small-town lawyer who volunteers as a coach with the high school wrestling team. Of course, his team is terrible. Until the grandson of one of his clients shows up on his doorstep looking to escape his wigged-out mom; he happens to be a champion wrestler. Giamatti’s inner conflict as to how to help the kid while exploiting his wrestling talent plays out perfectly, with touching and comic moments along the way.





Since losing my own father almost eight years ago, i’ve become a bit of a sucker for movies about sons “discovering” their fathers. First it was Big Fish, and now it’s Beginners, in which Ewan McGregor recalls his final years with his late father who came out of the closet when he was 75 years old. Sentimental, funny, irreverent and joyful.



The Devil’s Double

Dominic Cooper is incredible in the dual role of Saddam Hussein’s crazed and misogynistic playboy son Uday, and as the everyday soldier who is recruited to play his body double. A brash, audacious and frightening film.




The Debt

An entertaining espionage thriller that reminded me in tone and execution of Munich, another face from a few years ago.






Midnight in Paris

I do not like Woody Allen films. Full stop. And it’s a tragedy that the beguiling concept of Midnight in Paris in which a Hollywood screenwriter on vacation with his high-maintenance wife in Paris finds himself magically transported to the 1920s when the city was awash with the artistic and literary hoi polo. But it works because all the actors playing roles like Hemmingway, Picasso, Dali, Monet, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, fill their parts with such gusto and verve.


A story about a young man afflicted with cancer in the prime of his life could easily swamp into Movie-of-the-Week swill, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan keep it afloat with just the right amount of dark humor, cynicism, and pathos.





 Pearl Jam 20
One of my favourite movies of all time is Cameron Crowe’s Singles, set in Seattle during the early days of its grunge music renaissance. Besides having a great soundtrack that turned me on to Paul Westerberg’s band The Replacements, Singles captured perfectly the zeitgeist of that time and place. In Twenty, Crowe recounts the history of one of that era’s most enduring bands, Pearl Jam, with humor, affection, respect, and a whole lot of previously unseen footage.

The Company Men
Unemployment statistics and corporate downsizings are usually little more than numbers until they touch us directly. The Company Men puts faces and lives to the numbers as a formerly vital shipping company diminishes in a contracting economy, pushing out some of the very men who built it.
Dark, sinister with a brooding performance by Ryan Gosling that propels this story about a Hollywood stunt driver who makes ends meet by hiring himself out as a getaway driver for criminals.

Lights, camera, action

3 01 2012

Oh bike, how I’ve so missed you.

December was a bad month for riding. Not that it’s ever really a good month; but in 2010 I did manage three decent road rides and a couple of evening trail rides.

This December, the Lapierre stayed warm and dry inside, while the Kona did get a couple of opportunities to ride the mud and fallen leaves.

Instead, runs were my exercise salvation, including a spirited sprint of 5.6 ams as plotted by the Princess of Pavement on New Year’s Day. Not a bad way for this non-runner to start the new year, with my longest run ever!

Grimly en route to the longest mile, er 5.6 kms

Oh woh, we're halfway there...

But with this last holiday morning dry and the temperature not too inhospitable, it was time to ride again. And play around with my new toy, a Contour GPS HD video camera, one of those micro units that can be attached to pretty much anything anywhere.

The Big Ring's hi-tech cockpit

As if being a cyclist and photographer at the same time isn’t complicated enough, being a videographer while trying to get in a good ride is truly a multitasking challenge. I’m guessing it will get smoother and quicker as I become more familiar with the equipment and more confident in my storytelling abilities. So here, in all its widescreen glory is my first Big Ring video production, albeit it a little truncated as overestimated the capacity of my memory card:

First ride: 2012