Monday 25 March 2013


Roads less traveled, new-ish spots, or at least getting to them new ways. A little hardship (temps, headwinds), some reward (bald eagle swooping by, hot mirco wave pizza sub). 7h of adventure, 7h not under fluorescent lights at 21C.

South Calgary

I had an early Easter dinner date, but got out for a few hours riding south of Calgary, went on a nice gravel township road connector I hadn't been on in quite a while. Saw a side tangent for future exploration, shade had it looking rather glaze snow and icy still.

Celtic Crossroads

Se started this weekend with a BD&P World Music concert at the Epcor center - Celtic Crossroads.  That kind of music is always quite uplifting and was fun way to kick off the weekend.  When the Irish left home, they brough music, beer and fun!

Friday 15 March 2013

Dinner and fun

Tonight we did our client group dinner in NY. Gustavino's under the 59th street/Queensboro bridge. Cool spot. Bridge was built right when cars were invented, so they had to guess at future sizes and volumes of traffic, and as such it is impressively over engineered.  After, we start an email thread of where we're taking clients who still want to party. A guy says with conviction a particular bar... And as it happens, the 6 people I'm with end up there first. Rarely can I lead a peloton... but maybe here it works. Two couples, couple of us. For clarity this group strictly adheres to the middle aged oil and gas office people in suits look.

We get to the place, and the bouncers are all big brothers. We have a quick look and wonder if this is right - "I'm not really sure if this is our thing". Guy replies come on in and have a drink, and if it ain't yo thing, you can leave, but it's totally fine. Client guy says yeah let's go.

So we walk downstairs, it's jam packed with 400 homies in hip hop glory party, and us. I start a tab at the bar and get our group some drinks. Girl says "we only do the tab for you" implying I have to be the one coming back to order (this is great so it doesn't get abused) but I say "we've got clients so let anyone order". She says "ok, so who's on your tab". I kind of pause, point my thumb over my shoulder, and say "umm, the white people...".

The vodka sodas they poured for the ladies weren't inclusive of much soda... more the NY pour.

There's two girls at the bar next to me, they're nice. They ask "what up with you guys" - I just say we're down with clients from Canada and got recommended to come here. She loosens up my tie for me. There weren't a lot of ties... one was from Buffalo and asked if I'd been to Missisauga (yes, briefly, and Buffalo). Ice broken...

I email the rest (we have like 15 partners and 200 people in total here) and advise that this might not be the place to bring everyone... then fast forward an hour: my email never went out, as we're in a basement with no service. Another 50 show up. The wives start shaking booty (or what 40 year old white girls have anyway, which isn't really booty on the standard in this place) on the dance floor. Everyone warms up, great times had. I settle a pretty inexpensive tab. Everyone was nice. So funny overall.

The attached photo is from another place, which someone wanted to go to on last minute. Ingenuity trumped the giant lineup as someone contacted "their guy" in Vegas who contacted "their guy" here, so in turn it was walk up to the front door and in. It's like a boat - I don't need one (or one of these networks), I just want to know people that have them!

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Financiers for dessert?

Odd menu item. I'm missing if there's a typo, a translation I'm missing, or if this is just humor that's beyond me.

Secondly, after 10,000 layoffs, UBS offices don't seem to hum late into the night.

Lincoln tunnel torture

I spent some time yesterday craving a bike, fresh air, and nature. After waking up at 4 to start a two flight journey to NY, we arrived. Almost.

We arrived in Newark, and did what we shouldn't have done: 3 of us got into the back of an overused, bordering on derelict taxi that needed the entire trunk, front seat, and 3 of us squeezed like sardines in the back to make it work.

That's tolerable... until we came to a halt at the Lincoln tunnel. It was so slow, the taxi driver would intermittently shut off the car. So we spent 70 minutes crawling through a tunnel, with busses and fumes and two tight lanes and noise of idling bouncing off tiled walls.

I felt gross after - no space to move, no quiet, no clean air, and no choice. I tried so hard to keep my mind in a zen place. One companion actually was near a claustrophobia phase.

Wide open nature to bike through - I will always love you.

Monday 11 March 2013

Surf and Turf

When the lobster is 5.5lbs, the turf doesn't have much time on the palate. I've never seen a lobster like that before!

Softness of the modern age, Mongolia

"A couple hundred years of velvet cushions have rendered our reflexes obsolete, but haven't wiped them out."

I came across that line today. It's been on my mind a bunch the last half year. Humans have great mental capacity, but frail physical capacity relative to much of the animal kingdom. I can sit in a car, shiver, and turn on a heated seat on the way to the mountains, where outside a wolf or fox or bear or wolverine is wandering about just fine. Even though I try, I'm coddled, and coddle myself, way too much. We need Gore tex, wool and down to even give us a chance. But with that available, so few even do. That's part of why I slept outside for a winter, although that was over 10 years ago Even Andalucia people complained about moderate weather, and even at home so few get outdoors in the winter when in reality a 5h ride in -5C takes just a couple smart layers.

I'm trying to find adventures that can fit into my fluorescent lights and climate controlled office schedule, ones that reduce coddle, not enhance it.

Iwona spent a bunch of time at Andalucia telling me about Mongolia. 5am starts, cold rain, trucks struggling to cross swollen rivers, vastness upon vastness, and friendly people. I was sold. I think in reality you're taken care of quite well, but just surrounded by vastness and simplicity.

I'm going in September. I was reminded by guys at work that "you know you can afford hotels, right?". Sure. But sometimes, less is more. Often times less is more. Especially after reading the Steve Jobs biography.

And I think still we're well taken care of there - tents and food all easy peasy. It's just really a string of 120km days with what you can fit in a jersey pocket that strip away and simplify.

Pinkbike guys took some great photos.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Chinook Centre Calgary Experience

This is a mall, on a weekend, with me in it. Not a normal occurrence. I'm still a bit sick, we did some family stuff today, and needed to go to the Apple store for a car charger adapter.

A half hour trip reminded me why I shouldn't spend time at malls. Traffic and parking. Crowds. Smokers. Vapid souls and temporary fashions of questionable merit. Excessive tattoos. Out of shape people, muffin tops galore, and crappy processed unhealthy food. All of the prior also in kids that don't look like they're done junior high school yet.

I'll take Cadence Cafe and a 4h ride any weekend over this.

Alfa Romeo 4C

Thank you Alfa for advancing this beautiful, light, fast and oh so Italian piece of machinery to North America over the next year.

Sunday 3 March 2013


Seville is beautiful architecturally. After our bus transfer from Jaen, we decided to rent a car instead of getting a taxi in to town, for some more flexible exploration (plus the size of the bike bags). The girl who checked us into the hotel was surprised we drove here. I suspect others who had GPS update delay and low tolerance for small streets don't elect to drive. You know how you can tell the street is narrow? When we have to fold in the mirrors on a little VW Golf to make it through. I wish I could have taken a picture, but at that point we couldn't get out of the car without breaking out the front window (hatchback was packed with bikes).

Seville is serviced direct from London. This means there's lots of English spoken... like the Queen's English. It also means there's a lot of Brits. I suspect we're seeing people go to weddings, as there's a bunch of women all dolled up, with "fascinators" in their hair - those ridiculous hats. I'd more properly call them "distractors", as in "I know my face looks like I have the lineage of a british bulldog, and my figure says I've drank 2,000 pints of beer this year, but here, look at this thing on my head and try not to notice anything below my hairline".

Seville's architecture is spectacular, but it's touristy. There's awful street performers, and too many of them. If you can play a guitar, foot drum, and sing, that's great. That displays some talent. Especially if you can do a few languages of pop songs and sound like you know what the words actually mean. If you're looking stoned and blowing giant bubbles, sitting under a baby carriage and sucking a pacifier so it looks like your adult head is on a baby, or dancing with some sticks, you need to think about how many drugs you use and where you'll be in 5 years. Then there's those who don't even bother street performing. I don't have actual evidence, but to me it looked like kids with parents were doing pickpocket operations in the squares. The kids chase each other and "obliviously" crash into people while chasing each other with kids toys in hands, but looked to me like they were using the distraction to grab stuff then take it back to their parents (or exploiters).

We gorged on tapas and rioja. We were in a place with lots of old Spanish people and giant bull's heads on the wall. It was festive and happy.

We were recommended to stay at place - the two service girls on staff were so incredibly nice, like beyond what you'd expect in a hotel industry even. And it's such a nice place, and we had a nice little room with a courtyard. It's probably 100m from the big main cathedral, but tucked away. It's as old as Canada (politically of course, not geologically). Win!

I got up at 3:45 to walk and get our car from parking. Mostly drunk British teens out and about. After paying for parking, I couldn't get to the hotel, as the one ways are blocked with city workers spraying the streets. Shoot. Put it back, got a taxi to jam our stuff in, and we doubled up in the front seat. Scuffed the car on the way out of that parking spot on a street, a little Golf wasn't able to make the angle that two corners of cars presented. Airport was quiet, except for people sleeping on benches. Looked mostly like Brits who didn't chose to afford hotels and slept looking pretty derelict on airport benches. A couple teenage girls in front of me were picking muffins, pound cake, oh yeah, and throw a Mars bar in at the checkout before 6am for breakfast. Good luck not being a blob by the time you're 25. Poor choices.

I'd guess Seville is at least partially on the Colombia/Venezuela --> West African "countries" --> Europe drug trade route given the level of sketchyness around. It's no Ibiza, but it's no Jaen either (which seemed to have olive farmers and the services they need).

Seville is nice, I'm glad I came. I'd prefer more rural areas where "less is happening" than cities served direcly by RyanAir and the detritus they bring.

Friday 1 March 2013

Andalucia Bike Race day 6

Today was a bit short for us. Seemed to be warming up nicely for today's 50k stage. A seized derailleur jockey wheel caused a wrap around and mangle of an XTR Shadow derailleur, not the cheapest thing. Makes me wish I could have known and put in a cheap replacement one. We pushed back to start. Had it been 20k later, we could have climbed the last bit and rolled back to finish. Pushing a rider who isn't able to pedal at all is so hard it's pretty impractical.

The aftermath: no flats, lots of good riding. Warm but not hot. Little wet.

Cindy has a left scuffed knee, I sewed her knickers back up. Right knee has some stitches. Her right achilles is aching and swollen. One broken derailleur. I'm taking the jump and setting up her bike with SRAM 1x11 when home as front ring shifts aren't something she uses much, and it tended just to cause chainsuck issues. Simple is often better.