For a last couple of years I was looking for a spectator sport for myself. I don’t “get” hockey and, while I enjoy skiing, watching it just makes me sad I am not out skiing myself. I tried getting into biathlon but I find the coverage to be disconnected as they are trying to cover too many people doing too many things at the same time. I love watching Winter Olympics but that is only every four years. Finally this summer I found it – dotwatching!
Dotwatching is following ultra distance self supported bike races through interactive maps and social media. The two races that I followed this summer were the Transcontinental Race (this year the control points were in Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, Bosnia And Greece) and Silk Road Mountain Race through Kyrgyzstan. I kind of missed the boat on TransAm Race, but I will try and follow it next summer. These races are on the low budget side which means that there isn’t a lot of media coverage. All you get is a map with GPS signals from the riders and some pretty photographs. These races last for about two or three weeks non stop and much of the media content is generated by contestants themselves.
Apart from the athletic aspect, the racers need to figure out how to get places, where to eat and sleep and how to solve problems along the way. What I like most of all is that women compete in the same category as men. Sure, there is a prize for the first woman but the challenge is the same and everyone is competing for the same spots on the rating list. If you are interested, 2015 film, “Inspired to Ride” is a good introduction to the sport.
You know what else I have been doing? Listening to music. I am really enjoying Arctic Monkeys’ latest album. I even found a photo from this summer that goes very well with one of the songs.
“Maybe I was a little too wild in the ’70s
Rocket-ship grease down the cracks of my knuckles
Karate bandana, warp speed chic
Hair down to there, impressive moustache”
Star Treatment by Arctic Monkeys
Trev is now old enough to babysit, so I can go to movies again!!! We actually went to see “Sorry to Bother You” a couple of months ago and I have been thinking about updating the blog since but could not think of profound thoughts or intriguing pictures to put up. You know what? This blog is not about that. I will go back to irreverent thoughts about life, sometimes without points or illustrations but always about something on my mind. For example, parenting!
My goal this summer was to spend quality time with the kids and to get them to start doing life chores (cooking, cleaning, getting places on time) without losing my mind. I think I did ok!
Just to prove it, here is a photo of the boys on one of our mandatory fun outings.
My first 200 brevet of 2018 was a beautiful ride through Lanark Highlands cottage country. Because there are no supplies along most of the route, this ride is supported by a randonneur driving to control points with food etc. The controls were not dictated by corner store and restaurant locations so the route was absolutely gorgeous with minimal “transit” stages.
I had been training for this ride since February having missed it last year due to some newbie mistakes (not training enough…). It was early May and we showed up at the start wrapped up in winter gear. There is no spring or fall in this part of Canada. It is really cold until it gets really hot. We met summer at the second control.
I scrapped the winter wool off, got sunscreen out and continued the ride in shorts and t-shirt. There was significant debris on the road from the winter road maintenance and April wind storms. Most of the climbing was contained between 40th and 90th kilometre. This is also the most beautiful part with rolling hills and pine forests.
The perfect quiet was interrupted by cheerfully painted souped up Subarus (and occasionally equally funnily painted non-Subaru) every few minutes. I noticed that the drivers were wearing helmets. Then a Gothbaru labeled “Rally medic” passed by, then a car with flashing orange lights and CB antenna. Finally a souped up minivan labeled “SWEEP”. They did not appear to be driving dangerously or even speeding, but when I later mentioned this to Chris he said that what I saw was probably an illegal rally. It looked a bit too expensive to risk detection to me so we looked it up and it was organized, publicly advertised and completely legal and family friendly. You could meet the drivers and check out the cars as part of the event. The area is apparently filled with snowmobile trails and what I saw was the transport stage between two different racing areas. Having ridden the public roads around there, with all the hills and forests and lakes, I can only imagine that the snowmobile trails must be just perfect for rally racing.
The controls were at highest peaks and perfectly spaced. Anytime I got tired and started wondering why I am doing this, I would look at my cue sheet and realize the control is just a few doable kilometres up from there. After a lovely picnic lunch on a lake in South Lavant, much of the route was downhill.
There was more farms and “permanent residences” as we approached Perth. I took a quick break when the road was blocked by a couple of people trying to get a runaway cow back inside the fence. I passed by a snapping turtle. Those guys make other turtles look modern! In Perth I needed a big break and a full dinner. We stopped at the pub for this purpose. I hemmed and hawed for a moment and then ordered a beer also. We had a flat and familiar 45km left. I knew I could finish the ride but I was doubtful that I will enjoy it (in the end it was fine). I figured I had an amazing time up until this point and might as well pat myself on the back and enjoy the meal.