These past two weeks have been kinda crazy...in a good way. We've resurrected weekly after work MTB rides after years of dormancy. Okay, more like "We're old and tired, we can't possibly drive ALL the way out to Bragg Creek to ride some gorgeous trail when Jeopardy's on!" Now that we've started the rides again, we're all having a blast. Although, last weeks Big Powderface Loop ride was cutting it close. After 3 flats and 3 crashes, we barely got back to the parking lot before full-blown darkness.
In between those rides have been several bike repairing evenings. I seem to have found myself in the perfect confluence of "every bike has something seriously wrong with it". I've repacked two hubs, worked a rusted freewheel back into freewheeling order, trued a gazillion wheels (I still have three more) and replaced some brake pads. I'm still not done!
I've mainly been riding the Flying Machine to work as I'm addicted to the laid-back feel of the ride. Seems like every other day some dude remarks "cool bike" as he whizzes by me. Strangely enough, no women have commented on my awesome bike, leading me to believe women just don't understand cool bikes. Last week I thought I was going to get my first female complement. While waiting at a downtown light last week there's a hot girl staring at me so I tried to look extra cool on the Flying Machine by striking my best James Dean-0n-a-motorcycle-except-its-a-bicycle-pose. My ego was quickly deflated when I realized she was actually staring at the dude in the other lane in his BMW M5. Oh well, my wife says I'm cool.
Yesterday, Maria and I did our annual Banff to Lake Louise and back again ride. The weather was threatening the entire day. As we got close to Lake Louise, this is what was coming over the continental divide:
Shortly after this photo was shot, hurricane-like winds came from behind us. The winds were so strong that trees were being blown down in the woods next to us. We must of stayed right ahead of the storm front all the way back to the car because just as we got into the car the sky opened up and it poured the rest of the afternoon.
Finally, one last parting shot of Maria high over Barrier Lake while we were riding Jewel Pass:
5 years ago I was camped on the side of Alpe d'Huez getting drunk with (former) east Germans cheering on Jens Heppner. I watched as Lance Armstrong obliterated the field and rode past me on the final switchback on the way to winning the stage.
While waiting for the riders to come, I chatted with an elderly frenchman who had rode up the Alpe for the day. He showed me pictures of him with Sean Kelly on ride in the alps in the early 80's.
Last year, at Pla d'Adet, I got my own chance to meet Sean Kelly. He walked past me on his way to the Eurosport broadcast booth while I was waiting for the john to free-up. Needless to say I was in awe, but I was blown away by his easy going manner as we chatted for a few minutes about our predictions for the stage.
I'm not big on hero-worship, but I have to admit I believe pro-cyclists are the toughest athletes (in major sports) and for that I have an immense respect. Especially, for guys like Matthias Kessler. He's the one in pink and he got up and finished the stage and is still in the tour.
For those who have lost interest in the Tour this year because Armstrong, Basso and Ulrich aren't there, you're missing the point; the stars don't make the tour, the tour makes the stars.
And with that here's a great video with some sweet vintage tour footage. Can you spot Fausto Coppi?
2: Canada is freakin' huge. 3 days of driving and that's just half of it.
3: Two weeks of little riding has made it really hard to ride the flying machine up hill.
4: Maria actually believed the lines to the Clash song were "Rock the Cash Bar" and not "Rock the Casbah".
and in honour of that, here's the Maria-revised lyrics to the song:
Now the king told the boogie men You have to let that raga drop The oil down the desert way Has been shakin' to the top They shake it for his Cadillac He went a' cruisin' down the ville The muezzin was a' standing On the radiator grille
CHORUS The shareef don't like it Rockin' the Cash Bar Rock the Cash Bar The shareef dont like it Rockin' the Cash Bar Rock the Cash Bar
By order of the prophet We ban that boogie sound Degenerate the faithful With that crazy Cash Bar sound But the Bedouin they brought out The electric kettle drum The local guitar picker Got his guitar picking thumb As soon as the sherif Had cleared the square They began to wail
Now over at the temple Oh! They really pack 'em in The in crowd say it's cool To dig this chanting thing But as the wind changed direction The temple band took five The crowd caught a wiff Of that crazy Cash Bar jive
The king called up his jet fighters He said you better earn your pay Drop your bombs between the minarets Down the Cash Bar way
As soon as Sharif was Chauffeured outta there The jet pilots tuned to The cockpit radio blare
As soon as Shareef was Outta their hair The jet pilots wailed
He thinks it's not kosher Fundamentally he can't take it. You know he really hates it.
Interesting little event today. Maria and I drove up to Oliphant where we could take the dogs for a swim. There's quite a wide beach there and it takes a while to wade out to your waist. While we were coming back to shore, Rawley decides he's gotta go and lifts his leg and pees in the lake. Now, I wasn't thrilled with this, but I also understand that a dog,s a dog, and when he's gotta go, he's gonna go and given Lake Huron is freakin huge and there were less than ten people for a huge stretch of beach, we weren't too concerned.
Dude in a canoe wasn't to impressed with Rawley's choice of territory markings and he lets out a loud "Hey!!" at us to point out his disgust with our dog. He might have had a leg to stand on if he hadn't moments before just waved cheerily at his neighbour as said neighbour drove his SUV across the shallow water from the mainland to the nearby island. So in his mind, a little dog pee is worth yelling at us for, but oil and grease undoubtly being released into the lake by the aqua-SUV is perfectly fine, in fact worthy of a happy wave.
Maria, myself, two dogs and two bikes drove from Calgary to Sauble Beach, Ontario.
3200 km, 3 days, 4 provinces, numerous fill-ups, more than a few doggy stops, 1 missed ferry, and a gazillion Manitoban mosquitos later, we arrived to an angry thunderstorm.
Since then, we've ridden our bikes a bit, swam daily, drank lots of coffee, drank even more beer, ate lots, kayaked Georgian Bay against what felt like gale-force winds, been devoured by deer flies, read books, watched dogs watch chipmunks, and have not thought about work.
Actually, I did think about work once, when my boss called to give me a raise. Could this be a better vacation?
Now all we have to is drive 3200 km back through 4 provinces where we won't stop in Manitoba.