Blog reflection: Sandra Juto

Sandra takes long walks and beautiful photos. There are a lot of blogs out there with beautiful photos but I find these to be particularly good at capturing the beauty in everyday objects. 

I am at a loss to do a proper blog reflection here as I rarely take photos because my experience of an image is rarely matched in a capture I make. This makes me reluctant to stop and take the camera out when I see something beautiful because I don’t want to distract my attention only to not even get a good photo of whatever I was enjoying. Fortunately, Chris is the family photographer so we have a record of beautiful long walks. Here is a series from our hikes from Crikvenica to Drivenik and from Drivenik to the nearest peak a few days later.

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Crikva!

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From the first hill above Crikvenica you can see Island Krk and Cres behind it.

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Looking towards the interior.

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I have never seen cyclamen in the wild.

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Descending toward Tribalj in the dusk.

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Drivenik Tower seen from the house we were staying at.

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Climbing to the nearest peak. Brushes were exactly Owen’s height – he did not appreciate it.

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Trevor’s favourite rock face.

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View from the top.

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Same but towards the interior.

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Yay us!

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Velebit in the distance.

Blog reflection: Fit is a feminist issue

There are a couple of blogs I follow and instead of just listing them and saying boring stuff like “this is a cool blog” I thought it would be a good exercise to explain why I like it and then give a personal take on one of the issue discussed in the said blog.

Fit is a feminist issue is run by two philosophy professors from Toronto. There are a number of contributors, mostly friends and colleagues. Topics range from personal fitness endeavours, health studies reported in media, body image, accessibility, aging etc all seen thought feminist lens. I like it because it touches on many interesting subjects without being tedious. A number of other feminist publications I followed were either not very relevant to me personally or very angry. There is certainly a need for these in the World, but I want to read something I can enjoy or learn from. This blog is pretty good that way. The latest topic was tracking fitness, particularly with fitbits, garmins, and similar gadgets. Shall I wade into it?

I track my weight using The Hacker’s Diet spreadsheet. I use a basic bike computer on my touring bike only. I used to, but no longer, record my rides with Endomondo or Strava. I think that’s about it.

The Hacker’s Diet worked well for me in losing the baby weight and I find that it still gives me a good insight into what is going on with my metabolism. I tend to go for a big bike ride every few weeks in the summer and the spreadsheet allows me to make educated guess about the effects. If I am eating like horse for a week after a challenging ride and losing weight anyway I am probably still recovering. I have learned that on long bike rides the heat will stress me much more than wind or distance (horizontal or vertical). I have also realized that I lose weight on vacation because I only stress snack while working.

While the bike computer does keep track of cumulative distance, I don’t remember when I last reset it or why which makes otherwise rather impressive mileage meaningless. The bike computer readings are only useful to me while on the road. I do make a point of checking the trip stats when I get home but they get erased the next time I set out.

The most obvious reason I no longer record GPS signal of my bike rides is that my cellphone is getting old and can no longer keep charge for long enough. Also, I don’t care as much which makes me forget to turn the tracking off at the end of the ride so I end up with the data about my trip inside Costco or a car ride somewhere (breaking all kinds of speed records! Whee!). Three years ago when my phone was new and my cargo bike was new and I started getting into longer distances I found Endomondo app really useful. For one thing, I wanted to justify buying the cargo bike by proving that I am using it a lot. It also gave me a good idea how long it takes me to get places. I could look at my last three trips to Farm Boy and get a good sense how long the next trip would take. After a year I had as much data as I need. These days I appreciate checking out the trip reports my friends collected but I prefer the untethered feeling of having the phone off. I enjoy the ride in the moment and then confine it to the mercy of my deliciously selective and subjective memory.

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It took us well over an hour to get the eggs.

Film: Dual

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At the beginning of the year the one intersection that Trev has to cross on his way to school got a crossing guard. For those of you not living in Canada, a crossing guard is an adult with a stop sign that helps kids cross the street on their way to school. As an extra bonus, the crossing guard is a friend of mine and I always enjoy chatting with her as I walk Trev to school. It had been my plan to start sending him to school by himself, but he still prefers to walk with me. We always have really nice conversations in the morning and, as it is on my way to the office anyway, I take the extra ten minutes and spend it with him.

At the beginning of the school year there were a lot of kids, with and without parents, crossing the intersection, but as the weather got colder the numbers dropped. On a nice day you still might get two or three families, though most of the time it is just us. At first I was wondering why people are freaked out by weather. Now I am worried that I am not.

October getaway

This October we spent five days at Mont-Tremblant. We rented a gorgeous log cabin overlooking Lac Mercier.

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Over the years we have developed a number of traditions to do with this short but sweet holiday. A gondola ride and a hike down the mountain is pretty much a standard now.

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We opted for the most direct route down the black diamond.

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It was fun, but next time I would like to take a more meandering path.

The next day we biked on La-Boucle-des-Chutes-Croches at the Mont-Tremblant Parc. Waterfalls are definitely a tradition with us.

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We mostly hid indoors on a rainy Saturday but came out to check out Le P’tit Train Du Nord path on Sunday.

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It has been a long time since I have been to Mont-Tremblant, and even then I was there for a very short time. I was surprised at how much there is to do in the area. I would definitely like to visit again.

No droughts here!

Dan’s annual family backcountry trip is becoming one of my favourite events of the summer. I haven’t been away from the house since the Beaverbrook camping trip earlier this summer and despite the rain in the forecast I was not willing to miss it. We had said that we would not go if there was a lot of rain, but how do you determine what “a lot of rain” means? My final deciding point was “If Dan is going, we are going”. We’ve had a drought all summer in Ottawa and I was looking forward to rain.

I got soaked through on my way back from work so the little evening drizzle we encountered once we reached the lake was pleasant. How I missed the grays and the dark greens of an overcast evening!

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We booked off a cluster of sites on Lac La Peche. The remaining camp clusters were so far away it felt like we were alone on the lake.

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Saturday had huge rainfalls in the morning and in the late afternoon. Our tarps held up quite nicely and as the weather was warm and the fire sustained through the downpour, the time passed pleasantly.

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The older kids pretty much entertained themselves, but the families with younger kids ended up calling it quits half way through Saturday.

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They could not leave before playing The Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

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Sitting in the middle of canoe and not paddling is called “princessing”.

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It was time for me to improve my steering skills. That is me doing a tack in the background.

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The kids were fishing like crazy.

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A really cool thing about tarps in rain is that they are a constant source of water. Markus went a bit too far…

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Sunday morning was absolutely gorgeous!

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We were sad to pack up, but it was time to get back to civilization.

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Getting ready to show off the paddling skills…

There was a bit of a worry that the rain would make us miserable. I found that it was not so much the rain itself that was the problem as it was warm and hence not actually unpleasant. The worst, for me, was worrying if it would get colder, or if the kids would get sick or if our clothes or equipment would start leaking. None of this happened and the worry was moot. The lovely company more than made up for any worries, but the best part was how happy and engaged the kids were.

Randonneuse

For about half a dozen years or so I have been planning to take up randonneuring. There are many sports I find fascinating, like water polo and biathlon, but I would not try them if you paid me. Randonneuring, I can do, nay, I want to do.

I had put a few local events on my calendar this spring without any particular intention and even as far back as three weeks ago, considered them outside of my abilities. However, I have ridden over 1500 km so far this year including four 100+ km rides (in bad and worse weather). On paper at least, I was prepared for a 200 km brevet.

At Britannia Park I knew I was in the right place when I saw a titanium Marinoni with an extra large Carradice saddle bag and fenders. Our group consisted of three bona-fide randonneurs and me. The club policy is for at least one randonneur to accompany newbs as long as they can keep a pace that will allow them to finish within the 13.5 hours time limit. Unfortunately for him, though fortunately for me, one of the guys had injured his knee earlier in the season and was significantly slower than me on the hills. Though there was no way I could keep up with them on downhill or even flats, I was able to stay ahead on the hills. On a different course, this might have not made enough difference for me to keep up, but the route we had taken had 3500 m of climbing which meant that I did not have to put in more effort than I was comfortable with to keep pace and I was almost never the last.

We reconvened every so often at depanneurs, gas stations, pretty beaches or bakeries. The conversation was sparse but interesting. All of my companions had a few Paris-Brest-Parises under their belts and had been randonneuring for a while being some decades older than me. We tended to stick together on busier roads but spread out in the quiet countryside. One of the guys mentioned that randonneurs like solitude and as I zipped though the country road behind Mont Cascades I was glad to be able to gasp at the pretty scenery and sing through the rolling hills without an audience.

We rolled over the finish line within five minutes of each other, a few minutes short of 13 hours running time. I really enjoyed this brevet. I enjoyed the calm and determination that I did not experience to such an extent when I was doing Ottawa Bicycle Club rides a few years ago. I like that there exists an organised sport which I can actually enjoy. Whether I keep doing these events remains to be seen. I don’t see myself doing much beyond 200km rides and it is questionable whether I can keep depending on other randonneur’s injuries to keep me in the running.

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This is the only picture I took. I was hoping to take a picture of my brevet card but the team lead spirited it away before I got my phone out. As I was not dealing with the Twitter generation, I did not feel it appropriate to protest. Yes, my max speed topped at 65.5 km/h. Weeeee!

The next day I got to do another first. I was not up to biking so I got to sit on the back of my cargo bike for the first (and probably last) time ever.

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My legs are still kind of sore a week and a half later. It is a good sore though.