Friday, February 25, 2011

Logistics are not my thing!

I am going for one week to Cuba in a bike training camp this Sunday. I have been to Cuba dozens of times before but because I have to bring my bike, this trip has been a logistical headache.

The initial problem arose with finding a bike box for my bike. Thankfully Kunstadts came to the rescue with a hard sided box. After much deliberation, I decided to take my heavier steel bike with the triple cranks. The shoes are more comfortable and I can get a lot of power out of it. It is not a formal race but training.

The next headache was transporting myself and the bike. I was pretty sure the bike and my luggage, which I have pared down to the bare essentials, would not fit in my car, and I was correct. The box is huge and takes a truck or a large van without seats. Taxi service to the rescue!

The flight leaves from Montreal. Greyhound to the rescue! Greyhound will take me to the airport...which is great, no driving, no parking, no headaches.

In Cuba we will stay at one resort. The training is pretty intense so I am not sure how much down time I will have but I have packed my snorkeling gear in case. There are snorkeling kits available at the resort, but to me, using someone elses mask and snorkel would be akin to borrowing their toothbrush. No thanks!

When the training is over, I will leave my luggage at the airport (Greyhound station) and stay at a B and B in Montreal, have brunch with my niece, come back, board the bus and go home. I will sleep for a few days!

BUT...how to get that large box back to Kunstandts. There is the rub. Perhaps they will stay open just long enough for me to call a taxi to take me there and drop it off.

In days of old, they had sherpas to carry all their goods. The bike box included. Or large trucks, donkeys or something. Today, with a very small car and a circle of friends who also have tiny cars, transporting is not the easiest matter.

The training, some 130 km a day up hills at speed, will be the easy part. The tough part is getting it all there in one piece without breaking the bank!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who says older= wiser, lessons from trip preparations

When I was a child, taking a trip to the beach was so easy. I would throw a towel in a bag put on my bathing suit and go with my parents to one of the many lovely beaches in Prince Edward County. I was unencumbered and gloriously free to enjoy the day! I did not worry how far I could swim or what colour my bathing suit was. I did not worry if I had sandals or enough "out of water snacks", I enjoyed my time on the sand dunes making castles and using sticks for flags or even better using bird feathers. I enjoyed battling the waves and riding on my heavy blue and red air mattress like a wobbly surfboard as I waved to my mother and father.

Today I am preparing for a one week long cycling race camp in Cuba. The things that are mandatory for this tour are my bike, spare inner tubes, water bottles and in ride snacks. I have been preparing for this ride for 2 months on my bike trainer and doing intensive yoga, I have lost weight and am fitter than ever but the problem is with packing. I may as well be preparing for a mountain climbing trip to Everest given the amount of preparation.

I have a different cycling kit for each day, all packed in freezer bags with the air pumped out. I have my sunglasses, my repair kit (recommended) and a first aid kit (also recommended but I brought an expedition size),I have packed three pair of shorts, five T shirts and plenty of items to give away including a clarinet and a box of toothpaste from my dentist. To cut down on weight I have packed my electronic reader rather than books. I also packed my snorkeling gear, a thin jacket and three baseball hats, two of which are giveaways. When you add my cycling shoes, helmet and the 'in ride snacks and protein powders' I now have two bags and one is heavy.

This is a mystery to me. My bike clothes are all made of lycra. To understand this I have produced a diary

Two Weeks before trip
Day One: Get large bag out of basement, open bag and look for flippers and snorkelling gear

Day Two :Repair snorkel, test and pack

Day Three: Find 7 cycling kits with matching socks, pack each individually
Find summer shorts and sandals, pack along with T shirts and cycling jacket

Day Three PM: Change mind about cycling kits, repack and change mind about cycling jacket. Repack

Day Four:
Pack repair kit and put in ride snacks in individual packets...pack

Day Four pm
Decide that first aid kit needs to be packed and repack ride snacks adding gels

Day five am
Change mind about bike. Decide to take the touring bike, advise bike shop, pack correct shoes
Decide to take bus to Montreal

Day Five pm: decide a sweater is a good idea, pack a sweater. Decide I need to expand the items I will give away and so include a clarinet, two harmonicas and a case of toothpaste.
Find B and B in Montreal
Endure phone call from my mother who thinks I should just hop on a bus at 2am from Montreal to Ottawa. Was unaware I will have bags and a bicycle.

Day Six; augment items to give away and pack more T shirts and hats

Day Seven: Unpack snorkel and dive gear and add one piece lycra skin suit. Realize that some form of sunscreen is a good idea
Buy sunscreen and zinc and repack first aid kit accordingly

Day Seven pm:
Pack arnica massage oil, pain pills, and ear plugs. Decide that the massage bar is not necessary. Take out massage bar, put in elastic stretch bands instead.

Day eight
Find that when my bag is packed I can't lift it. Separate items into two bags, one for sports the other for clothes and give away items. Go to bus depot to buy tickets. Find line up too long go home

Day eight pm
Find bag with sports items still very heavy and wonder about the weight of cycling clothing, worry about not having a bus ticket

Day nine
worry about decision not to take racing bike, call bike mechanic to confirm my choice
Call Velo Quebec about daily distances
Pack scuba gear
Unpack scuba gear

Day ten
Pack art supplies, drawing pencils and pastels. Change mind and unpack art supplies leaving only a journal and a few drawing pencils

Day 11
Will try again to get a bus ticket


I am tired just writing it out!!

There was a time when I would enjoy events unencumbered, when I would relish the event and not worry about what I would do, what I would wear, how I would perform, I was content to be.

Supposedly you wiser as you get older but I am not so sure of that.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines day...

Ahh Valentine's day, a day of lovely velvet boxes, great chocolates and flowers. The day after Valentine's day chocolate lovers will flock to the stores to buy those beautiful boxes at half price!

As a child growing up on the base, we all bought valentines cards for our classmates. They came in a book. Some were large with pictures of Superman..you are a SUPER valentine, they would read (my favourite) some were just small hearts. The night before Valentine's day at home, I would take out all the valentine cards and decide who to give them too. At school, we had time to distribute the cards. I tried to give one to everyone in the class.

My desk was never overflowing with valentines. I got the small ones, the leftovers that you could not decide who to give to. I think I may have gotten one SUPERMAN valentine. It was always a disappointing time.

My mother would buy me a small box of chocolates. I would save the boxes and store treasures in them long after the caramel chocolates were consumed. Gradually I had no more room to store them and the practice died out.

Years later, after I married and moved to Elmvale Acres I decided to change Valentine's day and used my now deceased cat Felix to be a 'secret valentine'. Felix would purchase small boxes of chocolates, not the velvet box but paper boxes with flowers on them and with a small card, deposit them in the mailboxes of the many isolated senior citizens on my street. I never told anyone what Felix was doing and it delighted me to think of the surprise. One woman, Mrs. Noble caught me and could not believe what I was doing.

I no longer look in my mailbox or on my desk for those little cards, and my mother has long ceased getting me small boxes for my treasures. Felix no longer distributes chocolates and it seems that Valentine's day has disappeared into the dreariness of an Ottawa February day.

There is always tomorrow, when I will line up to buy a huge velvet box of truffles at half price!

The Bicycle-a love affair

I still remember my first 'real' bicycle. It was an electric blue Supercycle with white walled tires, chrome fenders, a large chrome light and white hand grips for the 3 speed. We lived on the base in Ottawa and I rode my bike everywhere. It even had a white saddle and a fake leather bag for your tools. I even had a pump! I could patch a tire but my fix knowledge was very basic.

I remember my pride with that bike as I polished and kept it clean. I would ride up the hill in the hardest gear as I would go faster and ride it to Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School on Codds Road.

I was 15 when I saw my bike being wheeled away by a would be thief. I chased him and he dropped my bike!

That bike lasted a few years and when I worked at a bakery (at 19 years of age) from 3am onwards I rode that bike, with its light on to work at the then Dominion Bakery in St. Laurent Shopping centre every day for one entire exhausting summer.

I never lost my fascination with bicycles or my love of riding. Today that bike has long since vanished, although I have a gold 3 speed in my shed! The simple bike has been replaced by a racing bike, a touring bike and a beautiful steel commuter bike with a big light. I still polish the bikes and even after all these years, seminars and books, my fix knowledge is still basic although I can fix a flat.

Vive le velo!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scent Free???

I have been noticing a huge increase in signs in doctors offices, clinics etc saying "SCENT FREE ZONE". This is in an attempt to protect people who may be sensitive to scents. They advocate unscented deodorants, soaps etc.

When I enter a scent free zone, my senses are assaulted by the acrid unmistakable reek of stale tobacco smoke on some client's person. The reek lingers and is almost choking.

If they are so worried about someone using scented deodorant or soap...why not make a note to the cigarette smokers out there who stink from a considerable distance.

It seems unfair to require those of us who enjoy scented products to have to forgo using our clairol herbal essence shampoo while the tobacco offenders have no such restriction

Scent free is scent free that that means tobacco!

Karine's Blog

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