Double agent

28 01 2015

I lead a not-so-secret double life.

For 23 years I’ve played out my hockey dreams every Sunday morning, from early October through to early May or late April. On the road, not the ice.

It’s an adult continuation of the game I played on the street as a kid. Same hodgepodge of ratty equipment, same plastic orange ball from Canadian Tire that stings like the dickens when it gets cold.

October to the end of April is road hockey time. The season culminates with the Stanley Stick championship.

October to the end of April is road hockey time. The season culminates with the Stanley Stick championship.

The weekly games last a couple of hours and take a physical toll. Especially as my legs get older.

So Sunday afternoons are usually spent relaxing, or enjoying some family time.

But this past Sunday, after I lamented my sub-par performance that morning, Princess of Pavement suggested I take advantage of the spring-like weather and hop on my bike and ride the morning’s demons away.

It was a bold idea; I’d never before done the “double.” Never thought I had it in me.

But with Little Ring soundly napping, and P of P giving me her blessing, the opportunity to get in a Sunday ride was too good to pass up.

I didn’t push it, kept to a flat route of about 35 kms. And once I found my rhythm, the legs remarkably good.

A little afternoon delight of the cycling kind on an unseasonably warm Sunday.

A little afternoon delight of the cycling kind on an unseasonably warm Sunday.

Not sure if I could have gone dancing that night though. That would have been the “triple.”





What goes in, must go up

12 01 2015

Slow cooker, where have you been all my life?

At the risk of treading the same ground forged a couple of years ago by the Princess of Pavement and her monthly recipe challenge, it’s time for the Big Ring to turn its attention to food.

This Christmas I was gifted a small slow cooker by my mother-in-law. It’s an appliance that had never before been on my culinary radar.

It just seems so old school.

We’re more for grilling our meats. There’s no off-season for our BBQ.

But this slow cooker posed new culinary challenges. And opportunities.

So I typed “slow cooker recipes” in the Google.

In the first two weeks we’ve cooked jambalaya (a little too much cayenne pepper), pulled pork and a pulled chicken/lime/cilantro¬† concoction.

Two tasty achievements in the slow cooker, jambalaya and pulled pork.

Two tasty achievements in the slow cooker, jambalaya and pulled pork.

The convenience is amazing. A little work in advance pays off when I turn on the slow cooker in the morning and then don’t have to think again about dinner until it’s time to eat, eight or ten hours later.

Next up? Turkey chilli, brisket and some sort of cinnamon apple oatmeal that’s been requested by PofP.

Of course, all that comfort food has to get burned off.

So with the roads and weather dry on Friday, the Lapierre rolled out into the fresh air for the second time this year.

PofP’s new school schedule for this semester necessitates Friday rides happening in the afternoon. Which, in the foreshortened daylight hours of winter, means a short, sharp ride.

There’s none sharper than Burnaby Mountain. Especially in January, when climbing legs are anything but.

What's wrong with this picture? It's nice there's now a separated Multi-user path on the top stretch of Burnaby Mountain; but parts of it are steeper than the road!

What’s wrong with this picture? It’s nice there’s now a separated Multi-user path on the top stretch of Burnaby Mountain; but parts of it are steeper than the road!

Tackling the 3km ascent this early in the season is also a bit of an act of defiance, a shout out that the winter sloth hasn’t been that bad.

But watching the Garmin speedo barely click into double digits is humbling. So is getting passed by the dude in shorts doing hill repeats. In January!

At least I’ve now got a baseline. It can only get better as the cycling gets more frequent.





Around and around and around…

5 01 2015

I want to love track racing. I really do.

It’s fast.

It’s a spectacle, with so many riders racing around and around on the high-banked boards, often only inches away from each other.

But it’s also confusing as hell.

On the last Monday of the year, FRF represented at the 4 Day races at the Burnaby Velodrome. Not as racers; as spectators.

It’s a pretty good night out. Cheap too.

Five bucks gets you an evening choc-a-bloc with races, live entertainment between those races, and access to a beer garden in the infield where some quality draughts were on tap for $4.

It’s a fun, festive atmosphere. Hardcore trackies mix with curious roadies and fixie hipsters.

And there’s some star power on the track, as accomplished road racers like Zach Bell and Tyler Farrar, get in some pre-season training and their competitive juices flowing against top national and international track racers.

Around and around and around at the 200-metre Burnaby Velodrome.

Around and around and around at the 200-metre Burnaby Velodrome.

But deciphering the program is as dizzying as following the pack around the 200 metre banked plywood track.

There’s Scratch races, Dutch Win & Out, Belgian Win & Out, Progressive Elimination, Elimination, Madison, Flying Madison, Chase, Match Sprint, Point-a-Lap and something called a “Derny” where the racers are paced by a small motorbike.

(Alas, the latter was on the schedule for the night we attended but for some reason it didn’t happen).

Trying to discern the sometimes subtle differences between all these disparate races is a mysterious science I’ve yet to decode.

All I know is once those men and women cranked it up, they were travelling really fast. And the beer was tasty.





Starve a fever, ride through a cold

3 01 2015

The New Year’s Day ride has become an FRF tradition.

Well, if two consecutive years counts as tradition.

I almost didn’t make this year’s ride.

The weather was perfect; sunny but cold. And just like last year, the minimal snow we’ve seen so far meant the roads were mostly clean and dry.

The clear, cold weather made for some spectacular vistas from the rural flats south of Vancouver.

The clear, cold weather made for some spectacular vistas from the rural flats south of Vancouver.

But until an hour before our scheduled noon departure I remained uncertain.

I’d gone to bed the night before with a sore throat. My energy was low. As was my desire to leave the comfort of the condo. I could feel a cold coming on.

Now there’s two schools of thought about exercise and imminent colds. The “mom” side says hunker down, heat up the soup and put some movies in the Blu-Ray player. The defiant side says “screw it,” kit up and get out there, the fresh air is a balm, the exercise will burn the cold germs away.

Mom is 3,000 miles away and doesn’t have Internet.

So I layered up and joined the crew at our rendezvous.

The ride, my second of the week, felt good.

The summer fitness is definitely lacking in all of us, as nobody wanted to tackle any inclines steeper or longer than a highway overpass.

Dirt trails are quickly becoming an FRF staple.

Dirt trails are quickly becoming an FRF staple.

But the cold air in the lungs felt good, cleared the head. The sunshine warmed our faces. The camaraderie filled us with optimism for the year’s rides still to come.

Some riders brought their own warmth. In a flask!

Some riders brought their own warmth. In a flask!

Alas, it didn’t cure my cold.