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Angle Three – The Soundtrack 2 comments

Adding an iPod to the cycling experience is brilliant, for me anyway. I am prone to boredom, well, not boredom so much as irritation as I ask myself why the hell I'm doing something that hurts so much, or takes so long, or seems  repetitive and fruitless. Somehow, the music shuts down the Type A part of my brain that insists, always erroneously, that I should Be Somewhere Else, or Doing Something More Productive. Listening to music is, somehow, always productive and worthwhile for me.

A few highlights …

  • circling around the edge of a picturesque lake, with farms on my left and water to my right as the Puppini Sisters launched into a faithful rendition of Old Cape Cod
  • waving at cows who stared back, or ignore me entirely, as I stood on my pedals, grooving to the Scissor Sisters' I Don't Feel Like Dancing
  • laughing out loud while slogging up a long, slow hill as Julie Andrews camps up Alan Jay Lerner's My Love Is A Married Man

My love is a married man
I'm a marital also-ran
Tho I love him so, does he love me – no
I'll never enter his life, because he's true to his wife

My dreams abundant, are redundant
And they fall very short
The ship I hoped for, sat and moped for
Docked in someone else's port

The man who controls my heart
Has a conjugal counterpart
And her dinner meals are enough he feels
He'll never have to go a la carte

  • Sia's Day Too Soon (Mock & Toof Edit) … mmmm … not the original girl with guitar version but the funky one with the bass riff and the bongo drums. Can't find this on YouTube.
  • singing along with Jully Black on Seven Day Fool, scaring the creatures by the side of the road
  • Maroon 5, Figure It Out … Let's go!
  • Coldplay Viva La Vida (on repeat, thanks very much) … Strawberry Swing (it is such a perfect day, such a perfect day …) … Lost (no, really, I'm not, and boy it is hard to keep up with the hand claps AND keep the bike on the road) … Death and All His Friends (… so come over, just be patient and don't worry …try … ) … 42 (you didn't get to heaven, but you made it close … )
  • Puppini Sisters Walk Like An Egyptian

PS – Although I don't have this on my iPod, I just found this on YouTube … the Puppini Sisters ROCK!!!

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Angle Two – Camaraderie 1 comment

I don't think it would be possible to assemble a more disparate group of six people (five cyclists and guide). Granted, it was an all-woman adventure, and – to my knowledge – our group did not include any evangelical Christians or Buddhist monks. However, we had quite the mixture of sexual orientations, ages and life stages, relationship statuses, ethno-cultural backgrounds, belief systems and life philosophies. As it turns out, some of these perspectives eventually presented as being in direct opposition to each other. This is a polite way of saying that some of us rubbed the others the wrong way, from time to time.

However, in that interesting way that people who are thrown together over a short but intense periods of time have of making it work, it worked. We were in this thing together. My soliloquy on open relationships on Day 2 (rarely a popular topic) vs. deeply monogamous B's penchant for brandishing a Really Big Knife. M's need to needle and instigate, as well as her habit of moving on to the next song on the iPod before the current one was finished (argh!!) … T-1's concerns about keeping pace and staying connected to the group … T-2's slightly wide-eyed, positive spin on everything … exhausted K's struggle with maps, directions and her complete lack of attention to, and interest in, touristy sight-seeing … all of this notwithstanding – we laughed. Together. A lot. I had no trouble imagining that if I wound up bleeding by the side of the road, that B would show up with her Knife and a tourniquet. True, it might have resulted in an amputation of some sort … but still …

It became evident that a peculiar bonding between us had occurred over breakfast on the Friday morning, as we were preparing to go our separate ways. The "in jokes" that had sprung up between us over the short four days were recycled, over and over, resulting in helpless giggling amongst us each time. These jokes also completely baffled and excluded others who had not been part of the group for the past few days, as is the way with people who have just been through something together.

A few among the group are hesitant to have their photos online, for a variety of reasons, so I'm showing admirable restraint, really. In lieu of this, and for the posterity of a very small group of people, I shall try to capture some of the key phrases and concepts here.

  • dill pickle chips
  • "Is this the flat part?" You see, each of us had been assured that Manitoulin Island is very flat and perfect for inexperienced cyclists. Right.
  • "There is always another hill …" See above.
  • "Are we there yet?"
  • "… on yer bike …"
  • "My hoo ha (hoo hoo, who who, whatzit, bits ..) hurts"
  • "Ibuprofen, anyone?" See above.
  • "Where's the Knife?"
  • "As long as there aren't any of those f*cking poppydums …"
  • "Those deer? Thems in-breds."
  • "Is there toast with that?"

If you look carefully, this road drops off rather steeply, about half a kilometre ahead, where one is greeted by a stop sign. And loose gravel.

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Angle One – Nostalgia Click Here To Comment!

There are a number of different angles from which I can speak about the Manitoulin Bike Tour last week. I'm going to start with nostalgia.

How is it possible for a trip through a part of the province that I've only visited once, briefly, 20 years ago, to trigger nostalgia? Well … the nostalgia is more for the atmosphere, ambiance, and activity. Last year, when I bought my bike, I posted about how riding it made me feel like I was a kid again. I still get that feeling every time I get on it, even if I am on my way to a meeting or to do adult things like errands. I feel like I'm about 10-12, a little bit giddy and unpredictable.

However, most of my biking, in the past year, has happened in the Big City, amidst cars and pedestrians and noise and concrete towers. It kinda dampens the nostalgia, really. For example, when I was a kid, I would bike up this road, often, to buy pop and chips, or to play softball.

My first photo above is NOT from Manitoulin Island – it is the Kerwood Road, southwest of Strathroy, Southern Ontario. This is what it would look like on a late summer day heading to Fred Woods' store, one of those old-fashioned country stores that combined hardware with canned soup. Fred Woods' store also possessed a pop cooler that opened from the top and you pulled your glass bottle of pop from the water and dried it off with a towel, or on your shirt. (Glossary for Americans and Europeans: pop = soda, carbonated beverage.)

So, put me on a bike and point me down a country road surrounded by cows, hay bales, the scent of sweetgrass, the occasional pick-up truck roaring by, farms in various states of repair and disrepair … and I am suddenly, instantly, no longer truly adult.

We non-biologist cyclists decided this is peregrine falcon nest. We are completely making this up, but it sounds good. And a fun discovery to make along the way.

When I was 10, I didn't "need" the following items:

  • helmet
  • gloves
  • odometer / bike computer
  • iPod
  • totally dorky but totally awesome orange vest
  • padded bike pants
  • padded gel seat
  • shock absorbers under my ass
  • shock absorbers under the front handlebars

But now, apparently, these items are essential parts of the experience.

Some of the buildings on Manitoulin are aging more gracefully than others.

I love living in downtown Toronto. In so many ways, it is perfect for me. Lots to do, easy to get to everything. What one might hear me mumble about, from time to time, is the absence of a country vista – that need that I have to sort of stretch my eyes across a horizon, to see long distances with very little impediment.

Here is something you don't see often in downtown Toronto …

My diet took a real beating this trip. As has been pointed out to me, cycling 35-40 KM a day isn't all that much. Three – four hours of steady effort. But, I ate as though I'd been running a marathon each day. Mistake. There were too many carb temptations (brownies, potatos, french fries) and too much exposure to the peanut butter / chocolate ice cream @ Farquhar's Dairy. THE BEST peanut butter ice cream EVER!  Too little protein.  Upping the protein in my diet tends to keep me away from the carb temptations, so the lack of serious protein (eggs in the morning, tuna or chicken @ lunch, red meat every few days … ) was A Problem. I was really feeling it at the end of day three when I ordered this.  This is seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had. Granted, I was really really hungry …

However, I'm back on track now … I hope … 🙂

This was a terrific way to begin the wind-down of both my summer, and my year away from faculty work. True, the summer is not yet over and there is lots yet to come.  But what a wonderful transition time … more on this to come …

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Summer of 08 2 comments

This entire year that I've been romping around in the real world, as opposed to being tied to an academic desk of sorts, has been transformative. The summer, in particular, has put some fabulous flourishes on the canvas.

I'm still processing it all, still putting pieces together, finding the connective tissue. What an amazing year. How lucky I have been, how blessed. How humbled I feel, to be so enriched by life at the moment.

I'm actively working on several posts that start to put shape to what I'm going on about here, but they are unlikely to hit a monitor near you for at least a week, maybe more. See, the Summer of 08 is not yet over, and I'm heading north to explore Manitoulin Island on my bicycle, along with a bevy of lovely women on an adventure tour. Do stay tuned.

The Summer of 08 … not over yet … maybe Bryan Adams will write a song …

PS … total weight loss = 61 lbs. Over 48 inches down, across 15 measuring spots, head to toe. I'm melting! Must be all the rain.

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