Vive le tour!

26 06 2013

Little Ring is about to experience his first Tour de France.

I think he’s ready for it.

Since the little guy joined us almost 10 months ago, he’s been getting subtle, and not so subtle, exposure to cycling.

When he was just a sleeping, eating, pooping ball of baby, we watched the Vuelta together. Well, I watched while he slept, ate and pooped.

We looked all around the internet for a selection of infant cycling-related wear, including stylish caps and bibs. We took him to the Vancouver Bike Show.

One of his favourite stories, when I read it to him, is Go the Fabian Cancellara to Sleep.

I showed him the Spring Classics and he had moments of pure delight during the Giro.

He’s watched with rapt attention as I leave for and then return from rides. If the bike is downstairs as I gather my items, he makes a beeline for it (then again, he also does that for the bathroom door it if happens to be open).

I think he’s starting to make the connection between those cycling races daddy watches on TV and what he’s doing when he straps that funny plastic bucket onto his head and disappears for a few or more hours. When we give him choice between one of his cycling bibs and another, nine times out of ten he chooses the one with bikes.

Rockin one of his stylish bike bibs that LIttle Ring picked out all by himself. Honest.

Rockin one of his stylish bike bibs that LIttle Ring picked out all by himself. Honest.

Little does he know his fun is just beginning. He’s got a Fisher-Price trikebike awaiting him under his crib. And as soon as he’s got the whole balance and walking thing sorted, he’ll be graduating to a proper run bike.

Where he takes it from there will be entirely up to him.

But if Little Ring goes on to become Tour de France champion in 2039, you read it here first.

Hmmm, who will LIttle Ring be rooting for at this year's Tour de France?

Hmmm, who will LIttle Ring be rooting for at this year’s Tour de France?

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Memories of dad, past and future

16 06 2013

For the past nine years Father’s Day has been about memories.

No phone calls home. No surprise visits. No little packages of some sort of meaningful surprise sent cross country.

Nine years ago, just a couple of weeks before Father’s Day, my dad succumbed to the scourge that is pancreatic cancer.

It wasn’t a very pleasant end for him; not that these things ever are.

From diagnosis to the end was about eight months, some of them good that filled us with hope he’d beat the odds. But most were bad, punctuated with discomfort and frustration.

As the end neared we gathered at the hospice that was his home, and our refuge, for his final week, said our good byes and assured him we would be alright, we would carry on and carry him forever in our hearts. His breathing became more shallow, and then it stopped.

In many ways our father-son relationship was pretty typical; there were times I thought he could do more, like get us better seats at the Maple Leaf game that was my annual birthday present. But mostly there was his quiet guidance, support and steadying hand that steered me into responsible adulthood.

Long after birthday and Christmas presents are discarded and forgotten, it’s that gift that endures. It’s that example that shapes us, helps get us through the daily challenges of life.

And as LIttle Ring and I celebrate our very first Father’s Day together, I can only hope that someday he’ll look back on our time and say what’s on my mind right now, Thanks Dad.

Big and Little Ring celebrate their first Father's Day!

Big and Little Ring celebrate their first Father’s Day!





Breaking out of the route rut

12 06 2013

It’s amazing how quickly tried and true routes become ruts.

When I joined the FR Fuggitivi group ride last spring, it was to become a more social cyclist and also to learn about and explore new routes.

As we’re well into our second season, the group is growing, the camaraderie is enlivening and the new routes are, well, becoming ruts.

So it was with a pioneering spirit we embarked in a new direction on Sunday. East.

For the most part rides from New West head west because going east involves crossing sketchy bridges or a long detour through the un bike-friendly environs of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam where motorists are always in a hurry to return to their suburban hovels and bike lanes inexplicably disappear.

Before long, though,  all those westbound routes become variations of each other.

So with the recent opening of a new perimeter road skirting the opposite shore of the Fraser River and promising quick access to the rural routes of the Fraser Valley, we decided to brave the perilous sidewalk of the creaky Pattullo Bridge to check it out.

As the highway is still incomplete in sections, accessing it was a bit of a circuitous adventure past dilapidated scrapyards and new industrial parks. But once we hit the meat of the road, the shoulder is wide, if in need of a good sweep, and on a Sunday morning traffic is light. Passing beneath the hulking expanse of the new Port Mann bridge was a surreal experience, and the climb to the outskirts of Langley was tougher than it looked.

The new South Fraser Perimeter Road is wide, smooth, quiet on a Sunday morning and offers a unique view of the hulking new Port Mann bridge.

The new South Fraser Perimeter Road is wide, smooth, quiet on a Sunday morning and offers a unique view of the hulking new Port Mann bridge.

An unexpected surprise was a section of wide multi-user path through a corridor of tall grasses and trees that felt for a few moments like it could have been in rural France.

Wait a minute, have we been magically transported to rural France.

Wait a minute, have we been magically transported to rural France.

Round trip to our snack stop in Fort Langley was almost 72 kms. But more importantly it’s opened new possibilities¬† for even more new routes into the countryside.

New routes mean an opportunity to check out new snack stops.

New routes mean an opportunity to check out new snack stops.





May showers

2 06 2013

I humbly apologize for the white flash that may have ended your Sunday morning slumber.

That wasn’t the sun exploding into super nova. That was my legs.

It’s June. Time to put on the proper cycling shorts.

Shield your eyes or you might be blinded by the whiteness of my legs.

Shield your eyes or you might be blinded by the whiteness of my legs.

May used to be spring’s finest month.

Many years ago I learned never to take spring vacation in June. It rains a lot, and it can be cool I discovered from one ill-timed June camping excursion too many.

May’s sunny days can be glorious and numerous, warming the lingering memories of the long, wet winter.

But the last three years May’s been anything but fine.

If it's May, it must be overcast and cool.

If it’s May, it must be overcast and cool.

Rain. Cold. Even a few flakes of snow.

Skirting the showers, and baring our teeth into a cold wind, Princess of Pavement and I were able to do a 60km ride together.

Skirting the showers, and baring our teeth into a cold wind, Princess of Pavement and I were able to do a 60km ride together.

Friday, the last gasp of May blew steely clouds across the sky. But the weather forecast said it would stay dry. So I kitted up, stoked for a mid-ride lunch rendezvous with Princess of Pavement and Little Ring.

But just as I was ready to pull on my cycling shoes, the clouds unleashed a steady rain. I was crestfallen, dismayed.

Alas, this has become the norm in May, rather than the exception.

Alas, this has become the norm in May, rather than the exception.

I trudged around the condo, watching my ride window wash away.

“Just go,” urged Princess of Pavement.

But it’s one thing to get caught in the rain mid-ride. It’s quite another to head out into the teeth of the storm.

“Go,” said P of P. Again.

So I pulled on my rain cape and headed out.

By the time the elevator door opened into our building’s lobby, the sun was shining in the courtyard. Two kilometres into the ride, the roads were dry.

And just as we’d originally planned, halfway through my ride, there were P of P and LIttle Ring’s smiling faces to greet me at our lunch stop.

Little Ring seems happy to see Big Ring at his ride's lunch stop.

Little Ring seems happy to see Big Ring at his ride’s lunch stop.

A good day to end May.

The first ride of June. Blue skies and a veritable peloton for the FRF Sunday morning group ride.

The first ride of June. Blue skies and a veritable peloton for the FRF Sunday morning group ride.