Thursday, 30 January 2014

Josh Ritter, Knox church

We did a double date night at Knox church a block from my work which I've not been in despite 13 downtown years of walking by it. Nice venue for a good performance by Josh Ritter. 

Monday, 27 January 2014


Nice weekend all in up at Sunshine Village.  Nice weather, warm and about -1C Saturday, little cooler (like -6, -7C Sunday).  I’d heard lots of people complaining about snow - it’s thin in trouble spots, but fine for blue groomers all day.  Hasn’t been warm enough for ice.  After a decade of Nakiska, not much to complain about in my view.  Great couple skiing weather with Cindy, then also Shawn and Ashley.  Refurbished hotel up on the hill was nice.  Certain signs of “this place is run by 20 year old Australian kids” always crops up, but not enough to ruin a weekend.  Healthy menu is available beyond the beer, nachos and burgers of old, which I appreciated given my preference for responsible eating before the Yak Attack.  Cindy is pulling off some carves very well, and dabbling with air.  She may have married into a ski jumper family, and we’ll get her there, but she’s not quite getting hang time yet ; )  Fit in a small amount of hiking, but we'll just say the 7,000ft lodge and the 9,000ft top of divide chair was counting as altitude training.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Cool cutting board

A very special, and very nice little birdie offered this up as a wedding present.  Thanks so much!

Cindy, Marvin and I love the coolest cutting board we've ever seen!

Yak Attack - altitude

I know acclimation will be an issue.  Between fitness, weight, food qualities, and then alititude strategies I'm trying to get everything in line.

I found this graphic and appended the red lines/text for my own knowledge and context. 

Long term Lake Winter Cycling Shoe review - MXZ302

I'm now 6 seasons into the Lake winter cycling shoes model MXZ302.  That's long enough to say long term.

And what do I have update?  Not much.  Prior comments stand.  What can one expect for maintenance over that period?  Last summer I had new BOA ratchets installed, and now I've just done new velco via a day visit to my local cobbler.  Impressive.  They still feel great.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Yak Attack training #5

I missed morning spin class for work.  Probably in retrospect a good thing.  I did an hour of cross trainer machine while watching world cup 'cross on my iPad at lunch.  Then the real workout hit this evening.

After a nice commute over, calibrate the CompuTrainer, then a 15 minute warmup, we were presented with: alternating 90 second and 2 minute intervals at 150% of threshold* with 4 minutes rest between.  Instructions were "you will fail, question is how long can you hold out".  Queue Metallica and start.

Cumulatively I got 10 minutes in, but failed at about 90 seconds into one of the two minute ones in the middle, I think I made 4 before failure. Who knows it was all pretty blurry then.  Nowhere to hide in that class.  Admittedly this is probably more spring road race training than the type of efforts I'm going to deploy at the Yak (unless I'm trying to yak…), but ostensibly it's forcing V02 optimization by maximal exertion to failure.

* this class uses threshold as ~90% of a 20 minute TT to approximate what one would sustain if pushed for an hour, as no really sane class can do an entry to the spin sessions TT at a 60 minute length; today's intervals were therefore 430W.  That would move me along decently well on a bike if I could trim down.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Cindy's home!

Someone's very eager to help unpack!

Yak Attack training #4

Im doing some lunch training these days.  Mild dedication, but also just a really good excuse to not sit at desk through lunch and to actually take a break.

15 degree incline on treadmill is all it'll do. Backpack with 25lbs which is bike and such simulator. Hour up. Idea is to help legs get ready, but also torso. Is rather have nights of recovery there applied to other areas of body than a back in shock and sore from load bearing. 

Why does 25lbs feel so heavy in a backpack context?!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Yak Attack training #3

You know what they say, stretch your rubber band till it breaks and you'll surprise yourself what you can do.  It's not like you get stronger by half assing it all the time.

So apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.  After a day of rest up at the ABA board meeting, Pat Dodge, Kate and I met at Cadence.  Great, that'll make an easy ride!

Pat Dodge "leads us out" at tempo around 60k, on the roads up north.  We cover upcoming racing and riding plans and life on the bike, new toys being assembled, etc. while nuggets of wisdom slip out like "if you want to be fit don't eat on rides under 4h".  He rides out to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park with us then departs for his own way home, favouring pedalling.

Kate and I venture into the park and are able to ride the well packed first kilometre.  After that, it's a variety of ride, carry bike, push bike, ankle deep, post holing to the knee deep, frozen river riding, animal track riding, more carrying, and some single track.  I'm invariably 2 to 5 bike lengths behind and every time I look up there's a gap unless Kate is taking a picture or pointing out animals.  I'm trying to keep up, but at times I'm like WTF?  Am I following an arctic born viking queen of winter or something?  Oh right.  That's precisely it.  Eventually after what feels like hours (let's just say the 4km/h of trudging is good Yak training, poor for average speed) we get to civilization.  It took about 10 minutes shy of 5h to get to Cochrane, I've had one water bottle and one banana.  Time to hit the soup.

In an attempt to not let my memories of the ride be contributed to only by others, I pick a couple of spots to hit some good intervals on the way home - gravel by Airport Road and the Old Banff Coach Road climb.  The gravel section Kate tails me then pulls up on the road, and without any outward signs of effort offers "that was hard".  I'm gonna take that as a success.  We take it easy then make an effort on the last climb up Old Banff Coach road.  Or should I say I made an effort?  I put in what I'm labelling a reasonably solid interval complete with standing for that last spike in grade up to the sign.  Kate sits on my wheel and let's me take the sign, then pulls around on the flat, without any outward sign of effort again and says "that wasn't what I'd call spinning it home" then leaves me to dig in and get in her draft on the flat.  Youch!  As evidence it was the 4th fastest female time up that pitch with a) a 100km ride yesterday, b) 6h in today, c) on cross bikes and full winter gear.

Riding with awesome people is… well… awesome!  6h moving, I think a little over 4 riding, 7h out from home.  Data and route here.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Yak Attack training #2

Kate, Shawn and a surprise Devin visit occurred at Cadence.  We headed west out airport road, toward Cochrane, a fantastic lunch and home.  That's a brief description, and the accompanying stats.  About 100k, probably riding/walking/moving for 5, out for 6h.  I felt notably stronger today, yesterday was a bit of labour.

But that all misses what the real story of this weekend is.  I'm not empowered to be a king maker, but let me at least nominate one.

We rode two days with Kate.  Or should I say, Kate is genteel enough to wait up for the boys 2 days in a row.  Jeff, Thomas and I yesterday, Shawn, Devin and I today.  Every time we'd look up, come up a rise, come around a corner, how was it that Kate was 5m ahead?  She'd just easily move forward all the time.  We'd bust it, catch up, and expect to see her perhaps showing indications of effort.  She'd smile and say hi and pick up whatever conversation was left off, without displaying laboured breathing.  Shawn and I today were both impressed and dejected all in one how easy she was doing it.  Very impressive!

Alpha is often used with male or female.  Forget that.  Kate's just the winter riding Alpha these days.  My winter Queen nomination.

So I've named my training plan the Kate plan.  Or even the double Kate.  I'm eating like Kate Moss, perhaps though without the cocaine and cigarettes, and I'm riding with Kate Aardal, or at least somewhere behind her, hopefully in a draft.  Maybe these two will merge and my power to weight ratio will hit an acceptable level in the next few months.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Yak Attack training ride #1

Today was a #5 ride.

After dropping Cindy off at SpeedTheory for her morning spin class, I made my way over to meet Jeff at Cadence.  Kate surprised us by being there too, great!

Off we go in -9C.  Felt a little cooler than we thought or than forecast was.  Out through Tuscany ravine which was packed nicely, and finally a bit of warmth by the top of 12 mile coulee road.  Jeff and I chatted most of the way out to Cochrane while Kate was up the road; Jeff hadn't ridden more than 2:45 all of 2013, so he was feeling out of endurance.  I have no doubt he'll come around fast.  Kate showed us a new way to get some additional single track in the Cochrane Ranch historic park, so we did that on empty stomachs, then emerged out into the parking lot where the chill of the valley gave way to warmth.  New route on paths all the way to the coffee stop…

Although I'm trying to trim down, I can always make room for the soup stop as they make a terrific thai chicken out there.  As we were relaxing, with Jeff needing a gel on the couch to even be able to place his order, Thomas Yip walks in.  Perfect.

Nice paths out of town, in the sun, across the old bridge and up out of the river valley. We checked right (west) as we shed a layer and saw nothing but purple clouds on the horizon. We hoped we could make it most of the way back before the front blew through.

OK, so don't underestimate the speed at which storms blow through the prairies.  Not 10 minutes later before we even got off highway 22 we were riding out bikes at what felt like 15 degree angles hoping we weren't going to get blown into traffic in massive crosswinds.  Got off onto the gravel for a straight west shot for a few minutes which felt amazing, we all spun out right away.  Turned back south on the gravel to work toward airport road and the sidewinds brought a rain squall so we were soaked.  By the time we got to airport road it was snow, now sticking to us.  Airport road was a coast, then Thomas and I elected to go up Old Banff Coach Road (massive side or headwind, either felt like a hero or thought we'd be pushed into traffic randomly).  Snowed the rest of the way into town. showed 60km/h winds and weather Canada labelled it an "abnormal weather pattern".

To be honest, I wasn't super uncomfortable, but had I not had Gore tex winter boots, helmet cover, gloves, jacket and pretty good pants, it would have been very uncomfortable.  That stuff is amazing from -9 to rain to snow I was actually comfortable all day.

Great ride, great company!

Friday, 10 January 2014

It's all uphill from here buddy

Marvin is teething, got neutered, a microchip, and declawed all at once. That's tough. The vet told us to keep the cone on for 10 days to two weeks. He had it off in his kennel before we pulled out of the parking lot. No running at home? Uhh, we're gonna need sedatives if that's going to happen. At least he calmed down for a nap eventually.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Istanbul is big and busy. Choked with traffic. Friendly once ice is broken, but with so many people in one place, people mind their own business more. 

My guess is 300,000,000 cigarettes are smoked each day (18m people, 75% smokers, pack a day ballpark). No bike lanes. It's noisy with rushed traffic. We like coming back to our hotel for solace after pounding the pavement. Cities like this would benefit so much from millions of cars with enough battery range to be taxis and take millions of decibels collectively out of the city, and more bikes.  Bike share, electrified bikes, car2go and or electrics would take the deafening roar down - it's loud as streets have either stone walls or buildings on each side.  Even diesel electric hybrids as so much idle traffic time is just sitting. 

I've never been around such a shipping centric trade area. Apparently 120 vessels a day outside of all the little boats go through the Bosohorous. It's like watching a ticker tape and seeing hundreds of millions of seaborne capital and goods go by. 

The history is fascinating and completely beyond grasping in a short trip. The points I get are it's been a key area due to geography and warring religions for thousands of years. Reading about the successful Ottoman Sultans though usually stresses as well that beyond conquering, they derived power from having a strong base. The farmers and peasants were left to their thing, the trade merchants were too, etc. and live as they wanted as long as they paid tax. Might be revisionist history but makes sense. They seem to have the underlying life of citizens doing reasonably well, despite some freedoms, free speech, women's rights issues. 

I'm glad we came in winter. It's cool but comfortable. Being here in summer with the masses they say arrive and dealing with sweltering heat wouldn't appeal nearly as much. 

Very few touts other than at the most obvious tourist places. We took an exact retrace taxi back from the Sultanhamet area and his meter said 3x what it cost to go down there earlier, traffic and duration were the same.  I told him that, at which point his English magically dried up, but the bilingual doormen at the hotel said just give him my amount, they try to do it all the time and somehow jerry rig/hack their standard meters. 

It's very cosmopolitan. Dress was reflective of a fashion sense.  Not much head covering in town. Turkish genes seem to generate a lot of women over 6' tall, it surprised us. There's drinking in bars and restaurants, but no public drunkenness.  It all seems very refined. 

Dinner and surprise

We walked through nice neighbourhoods for a dinner at a euro style jammed into a small space restaurant that was lovely.

Hotel staff had asked is about our stay, and we said honeymoon. They surprised us with this, which I commend as going the extra mile with service. It went over quite well with the intended audience. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia

We visited the blue mosque. Somehow we got in the locals line vs the other entrance for tourists, someone ushered us in there and we were in in 20 seconds. Amazing what the mastery of constructing arches did for early construction. The tiles inside are blue and ornate. It's huge, and it's proportions work - just feels proper and symmetric. 

The hanging lights are too bad that they can't be suspended different as there's so many cables that detract a little from looking up. The windows are nice, I'm sure they'd be even better at the angle/on a day with full sun blazing in.

Outside was rows of tour busses with visitors from Asia. The boat tour/rug guys/trinket sellers really work them over. That touristy square between the two buildings is the only place we really saw pesky touts; where there's busses of prey they'll gather.  Although the underground cisterns looked cool, we elected to forgo the lineup and passed. 

We only viewed the Haghia Sofia from the outside as the lineup was huge. 

We had tea and Turkish delights to recharge for the Grand Bazaar. 

Walked a few blocks to where old and new mix. 

Grand Bazaar

We visited the bustling Grand Bazaar. I had enough energy from an earlier Turkish delight break to make it through one pass. My shopping was humble. 

Evil eye which wards off the evil in some people who have the evil in them, old wives tale and/or tradition thing from the Aegan coast. A dollar. 

Turkish delights. Pomegranate flavour with pistachio was the pick of the day. 

I got out without buying a rug. Everyone wants to sell you rugs. If I wanted a Turkish rug, the prices and selection seem great. But they don't seem to get that I don't want to go home with lots of rugs. 

The tea section could have doubled as the aroma therapy section. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Turkish spa

While not the classic Turkish baths, we took advantage of what was on offer as nobody likes cooking themselves in hot water more than Cindy. 

Istanbul morning

We had tea and Turkish delights.

Walked through the hotel area. 

The surrounding shops. 

Breakfast at a nice place. 

Checked out the Bosphorus full of jellies. Apparently lower layers flow to Black Sea and upper to Marmara. Depth ranges from 34m to 120m, width from 750m to 3.7km. Sewage is treated then put to lower levels as Black Sea has more robust capacity. 

Visited the nearby park and played on the exercise machines. 

Checked out the wildlife. 

These guys are tagged and seem to hang around, looked like the park fed them too. They're 20 feet from a coffee shop terrace taking a break from sniffing people. 

Got to the top of the hill for a view. 

Turkish hair cut

The Turkish breeze hairdo was a bit shaggy in the cosmopolitan vibe of an 18m person city. Why not kill some time here with a haircut vs do it at home?  It was an experience like no other haircut I've ever had.

The guy asked what I wanted I said shorter and "Istanbul style". He used the back of his fingers along my head to feel it's shape and suggested "balance up". 

He called over the assistant who had a quad folding stainless steel case of combs, knives and scissors. I got misted down, combed into sections, then the art began. Half was scissors, half was knife. It took shape. We made small chitchat about how it was living in such an enormous city with predictable output - culture and options great and wide open, commuting is a chore that is awful and time consuming. I'll vouch for that just from our airport trip. 

He proclaims finished and calls over the assistant who moves me to washing. This is intense shampooing with a head massage of great force that went on for quite some time. My folio les have never experienced such force. 

After drying I got back to the barber chair. Assistant put cotton balls in both ears, then tucked my collar in and re-wrapped me.  A bottle of yellow stuff came out and got squeezed onto the top of my head. I was again soaked, and it was something reminiscent of citronella, very lightly oily. He proceeded to vigorously send the oil flying with grazing slapping motions that barely touched my skin but flew through my hair to dry it. His eyes were closed, it was flying all over the mirror, but he was sending it flying faster than it could run down to my ears or eyes. Unreal. I was in a vigorous lemony haze. 

This left my hair dry, with body, and scented. He then pulled pasted out of an unmarked tub and did the finishing touches. 

Voila. Cindy immediately said I smelled tantalizingly complex, fresh and citrusy.