2015 Cycling Summary

I think the cycling season is over.

We’ve had a few days in the last month where it seemed that we should get out, but, all the factors (temperature, wind speed, precipitation, sunlight, time to get out, motivation) didn’t line up to make it happen. I did get out a couple of weeks ago for a short ride in our new neighbourhood, but since then the bikes have done little more than collect dust.

Today we have a snow fall warning. It has started to come down and the world is turning white.  It just seems like the right day to declare the 2015 riding season over.

J and I started cycling somewhat seriously, in a fair weather way, in 2008. Since then we have done a number of long trips. This year crowned them all with our plan to cross the continent. Circumstances did not allow us to finish that trip, but the accumulated kilometers make 2015 our biggest riding year yet. The tandem has become our bike of choice which really shows up in this year’s numbers.


Here they are:

Tandem: 6091

Road bike:119

Touring bike:189

Hotel Courtesy bike: 35

2015 Total: 6434 km

Next year, if the stars line up properly, we hope to finish the cross continent trip


A Disjointed Time

Its now more than a month since we loaded our bike in Thessalon and came home to walk mom’s last days with her. If we had finished our ride we would have returned to Ontario last Tuesday, but those plans were just not to be.

The unplanned month at home has left us feeling a little disjointed, a little lost. We are people who work closely with our calendar and are likely most comfortable with a rather full one. For the past month, the calendar has been empty. There have been lots of things to do, a funeral to plan, visitors to entertain, invitations for meals and fires, a dog to baby sit, coffee to drink. J has done a couple of days in her pottery. I’ve built a new work bench for her and installed a kitchen sink for washing up her clay spattered tools. I’ve picked up a bit of consulting work, visited some farms, balanced some rations. A quite a number of books have been read and some naps taken.  But until this past weekend the calendar was pretty much empty.

Its a weird place to be, to get up in the morning with nothing scheduled, the day ahead with no firm plan, no commitments, no deadlines. Almost like we are still on some sort of pilgrimage, in a liminal place, neither here nor there, an in between time.

11907367_10153537011289464_4163995848782596250_nThis past weekend I officiated at a wedding on Saturday and preached at a church looking for an interim on Sunday. It was good to preach again, good to feel like there was some purpose in life, something to rush about for.

I don’t think I’m ready to retire yet.

We’re on a Youtube Video

Back in the spring, a friend heard about our biking adventures and suggested we should be part of a video series the local health unit was doing on active living. We agreed, and, what seemed like a very long time later were contacted to do an interview.

At the time, we just happened to be on a three day ride that covered theater in two nearby (100km away) towns. The video is taken on the afternoon of the 2nd day.

The other cyclists are our regular Friday morning cycling group. We meet with them year round for coffee and when the weather is favourable we ride together too.

So far, it doesn’t appear that our video is going viral.

The Year End Wrap-up 2014

2014 is rapidly slipping behind us. Its been a year of change, a year of some uncertainty,  in many ways, a year we will look back on with mixed feelings.

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One of many beautiful pieces coming from the shop

J and I have both seen the direction of our lives change this year. J’s maybe more than mine. In April, after a really bad season of winter driving, she left her job at the YMCA. It just wasn’t fun anymore and the pay didn’t cover the aggravation. She’s not one to sit quietly though. She had been taking some pottery classes from a local potter and her creative side was tickled. The workshop in our drive-in shed was commandeered and renovated, equipment and supplies purchased, and now there is a steady flow (trickle?) of wonderful pottery coming out of it (there are a few things going into the scrap bucket as well). She’s even had a few people wanting to buy what she makes, which wasn’t the intention at all.

20141127_090230While it may seem like we should call J’s year the Year of the Pot, we could also call it the Year of the Sock. She had been an avid knitter before, but this year it seems to have become a passion with 26 pairs of socks completed along with a number of sweaters, shawls and other pieces. Her hands are never idle.

I started the year with three hats to wear and ended it with only two.

In October, I graduated from the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary with a Master of Christian Studies to go along with the Master of Divinity I completed last year. For a while anyway I will no longer be able to call myself a student, at least in the “enrolled somewhere” sense.

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

In February, after having been called by my local church, I was examined by my denomination and ordained as a Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church. We had a wonderful ordination service and  party afterward. I’m apparently a Reverend now, but I don’t really like the title and I feel no more reverend than I did before. My work at the church has been fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot. Since it is an interim position, I know I will be replaced; there is always a feeling of uncertainty about what the future will hold.

I also continue to work as a sheep and goat nutrition consultant. This work, for a number of reason has slowed somewhat this year but still manages to fill in the cracks with interesting work outside of the theological world.

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

The tamdem along the Natchez Trace Parkway

With all of these part-time things going on, J and I are able to enjoy a lot of flexibility in our lives. We need it because we love to travel. In February we went with our entire family to Nevada and Arizona. While Las Vegas was part of the trip, the highlight was the three days we spent at the Grand Canyon. In May J and I rode the entire Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee on our tandem. Later in the summer we did a three day trip in southern Ontario. We spent more nights in our trailer than we have any year in the past, catching long weekends and a full week in early September.

Of course, our litany of travel wouldn’t be complete without those trips to see our family. In August we made our last trip to Edmonton to see our daughter R defend her PhD thesis. They have since moved to Ottawa (we can drive there!!) where R is working at the University of Ottawa on a Post Doctoral Fellowship and JW is working for a company that makes software for accounting firms. Their son, D, will be getting used to going to a daycare in the new year.

In late November we traveled to San Francisco where our son, J, continues as a Software Engineer at Google, and his wife, L, is working as the producer of an independent film coming out in the new year. The sights and sounds of this city are always exciting. This year we had a new experience there, crabbing. It was cool, but we only caught a shoe and ended the day with a big feast of crab from the Whole Foods grocery store down the street.


I’s baptism

J and M, still living in Toronto, are close enough to drive to for a visit. In June, little I was born, healthy and happy. By September J was enrolled and busy with classes as she starts working toward a Master in Information Science. M works as an engineer during the day, but is increasingly busy with independent engineering work in the evenings. He completed his real estate licence this year as well.

With only a few days left in the year we are looking forward to 2015. We know there will be uncertainty, but we already have some pretty major plans for the year (more on this later) and are looking forward to what God has in store for us.

My Bike is Lighter

Yesterday, J rode her bike to work. Since her shift is not over until 9:00 pm, riding home again would not work. I took the truck, my bike, and supper into Clinton, had supper with her, loaded her bike into the truck, and rode my bike back home. Its 28.5 km of hills. I got home in 54 minutes with an average speed of 31.5 km/hour. I’ve never ridden so far so fast.

Part of this accomplishment is due to the gentle breeze that was coming from the south, pushing on my back. Part of it is due to riding over 1000 km on a heavy tandem bike pulling a trailer a couple of weeks ago. A significant portion is due to the fact that my bike has become a lot lighter.

I did not get a new bike. It’s the load on the bike that has become smaller. In the last two years, since quitting my job and becoming a full time student, I’ve avoided the first year spread and instead lost 23 pounds. Most of this loss has been because I no longer have many “business lunches”. Many of the interactions that I would have with my team were be over a meal in a restaurant with portions that were too large and too greasy. That part of my life has changed and meals are now much more modest and usually taken at home.

The last 10 pounds has fallen off following the tandem bike trip (not during) and I’m sure by next February, most of that weight will be back on, but for now I’m lighter than I have been in thirty years. Today, my BMI went from “overweight” to “normal”.

They say the cheapest way to get a lighter, faster bike is to lose weight. Well, my bike is now lighter and faster and sadly, I’m still riding the same one.

Cycling Trip 2012

We’ve been planning another long distance bike trip for this spring. Those who follow this blog will remember that in 2010 we did a couple of trips, one to Pelee Island and one around Lake Ontario. Last year, our cycling took a hit from walking, both on the Camino and on the Bruce Trail, so apart from a number of shorter local trips, the bikes did not get much of a workout.

This spring, in fact, about a month from now, we hope to spend most of two weeks in eastern Ontario and Quebec. We’ve mapped our tentative route which includes stops in Ottawa and a visit with friends in Montreal. This trip also includes the piece of the waterfront trail that we did not do two years ago when we turned right and followed Lake Ontario at Kingston.

There is a small debate that needs to be cleared yet. Two years ago, in the spring, we bought a pair of Opus Legato touring bikes which we used for the previous long treks. Later that year we bought a Miyata tandem which we have put a few hundred kilometers on. The debate is: do we take the touring bikes with pannier bags or pull a trailer with the tandem? We know that we can move faster with the tandem, but it is less maneuverable in urban areas. J and I do like each other, but can we stand being so close together for 950 km? The tandem does mean that no one gets left behind, and we can talk to eachother more easily. Going with the tandem also means buying more stuff, we don’t currently own the trailer, so this is a concern as well.

The debate continues, but one way or the other, we will ride.

Stay tuned for the  end of the story……