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.


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.


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

Montreal c’est toi ma ville

After agreeing to accompany Chris to Montreal for the weekend I was perplexed about what to do with kids in this place. We had some kid friendly plans but it all came to a naught. It took kids s whole hour and half to go through Biodome. The Science centre and most of the Old Port were on strike and the Redpath Museum was open any day other than the day we were there. So we did what one always does in Montreal. Walked forever, bought treats and revelled in the odd.

Why not on Ontario Street

Traffic gets refreshed on Sherbrooke

Visiting La Fontaine Park by rail

Upside down at La Fontaine


Not another shoe store!

I desperately need this artisan leather wallet to keep my one bill and the library card

Coupe Bizarre moved a few blocks further north. This is what is in their St Laurent location now

No comment

Lemonade on St Laurent

Getting around

Film: Love and Friendship (sp)

After some thought I decided to put password on the kids blog but not mine. In their age of literacy, or near literacy, I want to be able to write cute stories without worrying if I am embarrassing them. As I only tangentially talk about my family here, there is little need to password it.

After three years of training, I have participated in the Rideau Lakes Tour. This is one of those quintessential Ottawa things. Instead of boring you about it, I’ll let the T-shirt convey the salient details:


Despite the head wind that some will tell you went up to 40km/h, this turned out to be a great girls’ weekend getaway. We kept a nice pace, had the best bike snacks I have ever imagined, got comfortable with clippy shoes and, for the first time ever, biked 200km in just 30 hours.




I am still putting my thoughts together about the weekend. More than anything it was fun. Though we never passed anyone that was not stopped and had the support van “chase” us from Narrows Lock to the finish, neither of us had done this kind mileage before which made our success sweet. Luisa pushed her bike to the limit and then a bit further. Though her derailleur was trashed before the last 20 kilometres were out, it was somewhat gratifying to know that we can complete the route as the support cars with bikes of people who had abandoned the ride passed by. It was fun to bomb down the hills we had climbed the day before. What a great weekend!

Laibach: The Next Generation

After ten years, I saw Laibach live again on my last day in Zagreb. Part of the performance included a set they were taking to North Korea.


Here is the review from T-Portal.

So how is Laibach doing in 2015? At first I was sceptical since half of the performers were younger than me, but then again, Laibach was always more of a collective. Though the last founding member left about ten years ago, the machine itself is still marching on across absurdity with aplomb.

Grieg’s unfinished opera

Hello Zagreb!

Whenever we go to Zagreb, there are a set of places we always visit. The lions at the Zoo are a perennial favourite.


Then there are numerous places that we have not been to before (or if we have been there, it has changed since). This year we had a good choice of new things.


Museum of Illusions was fun. We got caught on camera and were on the evening news.


We also checked out the Car Museum. I have actually been to that building, back when it was a bottle cap factory! I remember taking a few photos of kids squished together in BMW Isetta, but I can’t find them on my phone now.

My dad tried to capture a good picture of all three boys at the model railway exhibit. As if they could pose for a split second!


We checked out Da Vinci exhibit at the Velesajam (Fairgrounds). I have been to Velesajam many times over the years but it is the kind of place where you can’t see the forest for the trees. During the fair the place is teeming with people and goods and balloon stands and kitsch and pretty much anything that is flashy and loud.

This time the Velesajam was almost abandoned. There is only one obvious entrance and the Chinese Pavilion with the Da Vinci exhibition is almost on the other side of the complex. We wondered through the empty streets littered with fine attempts at large scale architecture from the second part of the 20th Century. And no, despite whimsical, or even stylish designs, concrete does not age well.


After seeing the exhibit, we decided to look for another entrance and effectively got lost in this proto big box mall. Here is a photo of my grandmother and my dad at the beginning of Velesajam some sixty years ago. Obviously, my kids did not invent utter indifference to looking at the camera while being photographed.

1952 scan0010

Eventually we ran into what looked like a Goth paintball field but turned out to be a movie set about war-torn Sarajevo (as we concluded when we saw a battered road sign pointing to Sljeme but calling it Jahorina). At this point I had to explain to Trevor why they are building a movie set instead of using computer graphics. Sigh.

Finally, another place we got to check out this year is the administrative side of the Zoo when we would drop off Trevor for his summer camp.


The Zoo has been well taken care of and the new additions are quite effective.

New Hampshire 2014

Because we take our summer vacations in early in the summer, by the time our Thanksgiving mountain getaway comes along, we are more than ready for a break. This year, as always, was lovely.


Maybe one day we will rent a lonely mountain hut away from it all and hike for days, but for now ski resorts are the place to be. Our condo included lift tickets, bike rentals and access to the skating rink. Combined with a train ride on the Hobo Railroad and the visit to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Centre our stay was just what the doctor ordered.

This is the first year that Markus was expected to walk all the hikes by himself.


How did he do? Not too bad. By the third day he was pretty exhausted and Chris carried him for a while, but otherwise we were good to our word to not pick him up if he complains. He was busy enough picking up sticks to not ask more often than that.


Trevor and Owen really got into hiking and had a great time.


Though I am sure this is always true, this year in particular I feel that I have so many things on the go I can barely get the minimum done. I was reluctant to be away from the work and house for the four days but I was so glad to be able to spend this time with just my guys and none of the other tasks that I usually run mad with.