CHEO Ride 2016

WARNING: As of next month I will put password on the blog. The password will be the name you get from first letters in our kids names.

The weather forecast was a bit iffy so we were not sure if we were doing the CHEO ride this year until the last minute. As you can see, we did end up at the event.

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Because the adults were outnumbered, we did the 15km ride that took us along the river and back.

The weather started out fine enough, but drizzle caught us half way through and combined with cold made it a bit hard for the little bike ornaments that were not pedalling.

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Don’t worry, they cheered up as soon as food arrived.

At the way back we got to enjoy the benefits of the minivan – out whole family including bikes still fits!

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Final thoughts from the boys:

T: If it was a nice day I would have done 40km.
O: If it was a hot day I would do 70!
M: If it was a really hot day I would wear shorts!!!

Negotiations

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Some days the kids come back from school with bad notes and we have to figure out how to deal with it best. The easiest thing to do is to take away screens or the night light for a week, but sometimes we get bored with that. When Owen gets in trouble, I prefer to have him have to help me in the kitchen for a week. Trevor has mostly figured out how to stay out of trouble and is getting really good at negotiating his rewards. I have to be careful about what I promise, a problem I did not have before. Markus hates losing his light and he is mostly good anyway. The trouble with Markus is that negotiating him out of his decisions is like ending the Cold War. No-one can win but no-one can look like they lost either.

We are at the point where parenting becomes more about making the right choices and saying the right things than brute force. I can’t easily lift my kids any more and 123 magic has the tendency to wear off. Fortunately, the kids have been wonderful and parenting is more fun now than ever before.

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Snow and Ice Month

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Parenting has been feeling like an Olympic sport lately. One in which you are pretty much guaranteed to not get a medal. Lucky our kids are so cute. The other day instead of arguing with them about something like not misbehaving after screen time, I decided to read the 2015 archive of Fowl Language with them. Owen really connected with this one. Trevor had to admit that this one is pretty much true.

So yes, ten points for us for allowing kids access to full English language.

We take them skiing too. Markus loves skiing but can’t do anything than sort of stand on skis. No turning, no snow plow. I have to put him inside of my snow plow, and let him hold on to the poles that are folded under his armpits. I managed to ski for about two hours like that. Think I can do six next time?

What I definitely can’t do is write coherent blog posts. I used all of my mental powers teaching half a dozen grade schoolers how to use Dewey Decimal System today. I think they got it too, I am so proud.

Film: The Martian

I’ve come up with a million different blog post topics. Should I write about how hectic life is? Or sing praises to the hiking knickers? Maybe actually review The Maritan? No! I will review my last years’ goals. My success is “achieved goal, but…”. It was nice to spend more time on actual vacations, but I ended up struggling to get things done without any free time by the end of the year. I learned a heap of delicious new recipes, but my kids will not touch the stews with a ten foot fork. I grew beautiful berries, but I ate them all on the way back from the garden to the kitchen. Watched a couple of good films, but then fell down a rabbit hole of depressing sic-fi and had to take a break.

So forget resolutions. Back to knickers… I believe similar were used for x-country skiing around these parts.

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You can’t really walk into a sports store and buy corduroy knickers any more, you’d have to go on Etsy. Come to think of it, you probably could not buy them in the late 80’s when this photo was taken either (go hand-me-downs!). I’ll tell you a secret though – 3/4 yoga pants will do.

We wish you a wonderful winter solstice time and may the ever increasing daylight bring many knicker-worthy adventures!

Big Opera is dead, long live the … Small Opera?

For the second time in just the few years the Ottawa Opera Lyra cancelled the season. We managed to get full refunds so phew!

Part of me is sad about demise of opera company in a city that has too few already. Part of me is “well duh!” indifferent. Looking back at the last decade of my experience with this company, my favourite productions were the children’s version of The Magic Flute followed by the concert version of Thomas’ Hamlet. Therefore I will posit the following:

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Waiting for Tsars’ Bride at the ROC

– I like opera but I do not like large productions in large halls

We were dozing off for the last act of Carmen at the Met and the only thing I remember from the Royal Opera is the gorgeous sets. I am sure that the cast was top notch, but I don’t really _remember_ it at all. Maybe if I wasn’t such a cheapskate and got front row tickets my experience would be different, but from where I usually sit, being able to hear anything is more of a feat of engineering on the part of the architect and the sound analyzing CAD software than the ability of the artist. Furthermore, the singers are chosen for their above average musical abilities leaving us with mismatch of their physical presence and the character they are trying to evoke. If I could tell the difference between a Diva and an average singer from where I am sitting, I might forgive this, but so far I have not been able to.

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Waiting for Against the Grain’s production of Don Giovanni at University of Ottawa

– I like opera and I especially like small productions

Actually, I am lying, I can tell the difference between Ok singer and amazing singer, but for me that only really matters to a point. From theatre point of view I have had much better record of enjoying small productions with scaled down orchestra and supporting cast that is less than stellar if the storytelling and music “pull me in”. The two operas I’ve seen this year at the Chamber Music Festival knocked my socks off – for just $20!!!. When you consider the that you can watch the shows from the Met or ROC at the movies, I think the lesser cities can survive without the Opera Lyra style companies as long as they have a good serving of “budget” productions. What remains to be seen is whether the void left by Opera Lyra will be filled.

Film: The Intern

I am declaring 2015 a good year for sporty biking.

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Getting better at this

Chris and I talk about biking for hundreds of kilometres at a time, but but we do only as much as we can given our fitness and opportunity to get out and ride. Last year I completed my first 100km ride; this year I did three 100km events. I can’t really get out there and do longer stretches, but I have been able to ride the 100km with increased ease and comfort.

Ralpha Ride

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Nobody is going to notice I am not on a road bike…

The first of these events I did by myself, or really with a bunch of strangers. I would classify the experience as a pretty good disaster. It was billed as a friendly women’s only ride with groups delineated by their speed. I lined up with the 20-25km/h group and mentioned that I should be just peachy at that speed though I might fall out starting from stops or at longer hills due to heavier bike. The group consisted of the leader, two women in their late fifties who kept to themselves looked like they biked across the continent once or twice and another woman in roughly my shape that had just returned from cycling holiday in Majorca. Easy peasy.

Here is a good illustration of the ride:
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The first twenty kilometres is just me riding to the event, I was on the paths so I kept to the speed limit (yes, I am that geeky). The next twenty kilometres were fine, all chit-chat and flat roads back to Kanata. At this point we were joined by a guy and a woman who (as I found out the following week) was familiar to my road racing friend. I am going to make an educated guess that they did the Grand Fondo the day before and were looking for an easy ride. I kept up for another twenty kilometres while the pace slowly increased and I kept falling off the back of the peloton and having to rush to catch up more and more. For goodness sake, I signed up for 25km/h max and we were going 28km/h up a hill. I bonked around kilometre 65 .

Now, I never thought that I would be inconvenienced by “we don’t drop anyone” policy or the existence of the broom car, but I was. The leader stayed with me and tried to coach me to catch up to the group – yah right, we were on the Galetta “And Up And Down” Side Road – I am not catching up to anyone, lady. And while the broom car was nice to have it was at the same time embarrassing. We made it to Fitzroy snack break (and caught up to everyone) at which point I told them that Chris was coming to get me and to head out without me. I waved them go and as soon as they were out of sight, headed home on my own terms.

Lessons learned:

– Despite the drama, at the end of the day I rode about 110km without too much discomfort
– I am not a roadie – don’t mix with roadies
– Don’t do group rides unless you are riding with friends you know are going to ride at your pace, and not just say they will
– I can ride 28km/h uphill – whoa!

MEC Century

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Ready to roll

MEC ride was everything opposite of Ralpha. Chris and I started at the lovely Carp Fairgrounds and Luisa joined us in Appleton for the second 50km.

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The weather was nice, the route easy, many other riders were at the same or slower pace than us so it was never just us on the road (though it was not crowded either). We even had enough energy to bike back to Kanata after the lovely dinner.

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At the finish line

Lessons learned:

– Long bike rides are great, long bike rides with friends are AMAZING!!!
– When doing an organized ride, stick with the route they’ve chosen. Prior to the day I had seriously considered returning by a different path. Indeed, Stitsville and Huntmar were blah (though not trafficy as I expected), but if we had avoided them we would have missed much of the pretty countryside.

Perth Cyclosportif

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The day of the Perth Cyclosportif was a beautiful day, I did not even bother bringing my jacket, but I was working harder than usual to move the bike. I had come to expect this in the fall. The route took us through pretty cottage country with a bigger share of hills than we are used to. In retrospect, I am glad I did not look at the ride profile because I would have expected the last 20km to be easy-peasy downslope, yet this is where the head-wind hit us and Luisa and I had to switch the lead every few minutes to give us a break.

Even though this was the most difficult 100km I did this year it was also my favourite. Luisa and I were pleased that we were able to do 100km a whole hour faster than last year, even with more climbing and later on in the season. I don’t even think there were any new lessons learned except that while I am now unquestionably able to complete a 100km event, it can still give me a good run for my money.

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At the rest point in Westport

Grandparents have been especially kind this year in babysitting department and I was not only able to get out and do these three events, but also a number of shorter coffee runs with friends. The outings with kids, though shorter and slower, aren’t anything to sneeze at either as Owen and Markus are getting heavy. Hauling them up the hill to the Wesley Clover Forest School off of Corkstown twice this weekend was a fun challenge.

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Trip to Quitters in Stitsville earlier this summer

To close up this great season, Chris and I will, for the first time, attempt the coffeeneuring challenge. You can follow Chris’ twitter feed to check out all the great coffee places you can bike out to from Kanata.

As for next year, I would like to do the MEC Century and Perth Cyclosportif again. I would also like to attempt a longer distance, but in what form this will happen, I don’t know yet. We have been tossing around the idea of the Rideau Lakes Tour for a couple of years now, but even though I am fairly certain I can complete it now, I am not so sure I could do it without being completely miserable. In a couple of years it should be a no-brainer, right?