Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Longest Ride

Yesterday, along with my girlfriend, I rode just over 100k on a training ride.  My previous long ride was about 75k, so I extended that by 25. It felt like an accomplishment, I am pretty proud of that mileage.

We left Merville and took the Old Island Highway into Willow Point, then took Dogwood Ave into Merecroft Village. The head wind was quite strong, especially along the ocean. It was a beautiful day. It was supposed to rain this weekend, but the Good Mother was nice to us, and brought the sun. It was about 45k to Merecroft Village, where we got take out food from Baba Gannouj. I had never eaten much Middle Eastern food, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had tried falafel before, and I really enjoyed theirs. I had a Donair and a falafel sandwich. The Donair was wrapped in there house made flat bread, and the falafel sandwich was wrapped in a pita, and stuffed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickles and secret sauce that reminded me of tzatziki. It was all really tasty, and I will go back for sure. My girlfriend had the vegetarian platter, which had three different salads, three sauces and a big pile of falafel. I had to help her out with that after I finished my two wraps. I was stuffed, I probably didn't need the liter of chocolate milk. I love to eat and cycling allows me to put it down without feeling guilty, I need the calories.

We had a nice stop for lunch at some hidden picnic tables, in the hot sun, with a great view of the mountains. We took a back way out to the Campbell River bypass and after a quick stop at the Shell station, we hit the Inland Island Highway, for the trip back to Cumberland. The ride was at a mellow pace, we never raced and didn't have to sweat too much. It was what I can assume will be more of a touring pace. I carried two panniers yesterday, so I had some weight on. It was nothing like I will be carrying on our tour, it was good to have some extra weight. By the time we were getting close to Cumberland, after about 80k, my hands were getting really sore. I don't know what I could do to make it better, I believe that is just going to happen unless I change my handle bars. Maybe after consecutive days it won't be so bad.

I was getting frustrated of the motorists on the Inland Highway. The road between Campbell River and Cumberland isn't very busy, especially on weekend afternoons. I would suggest that motorist on that road who see cyclist, please move over into the left hand lane when passing us two wheelers. Of course only when it is safe. It would make us really happy, and those who are considerate, I commend you. Good Karma to you all.

Bike to Work week is starting tomorrow. I hope many of my readers are getting out at least a couple of days this week coming up. I haven't checked the weather forecast for this week, hopefully it will be good for one and all. Enjoy it.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Wood stove

My family heated with wood growing up in our house. The first thing my dad did upon moving into the house was to have a chimney built and hook a Fisher stove to it. I spent many days out with him cutting firewood. I loved it. Sure I didn't like the hard work when I was younger, but I loved being outside, playing with my hatchet, shooting my sling shot, drinking pop and eating chips.We would drive around listening to oldies music, talking, looking for some wood to cut. It was awesome.

My first house had a wood furnace. It was great. The house had minimal insulation and single pane windows. Its heat loss was huge. That wood furnace would keep us warm all winter. I loved getting up every morning and filling it with wood to get the place warmed up. My next place was baseboard heat, and the current house also heats with electric baseboard. The worst kind of heat. It only took me a few months of living here alone that I put in a wood stove. It was the best thing I could have done. My hydro bills have gone down about $20 a month average, I am warmer, the house is cozier, it smells better, there is less condensation in the windows and I am not contributing green house gases.

Burning wood doesn't increase the amount of green house gases in the atmosphere. Burning coal, oil and natural gas release carbon that has been stored in the planet for millions of years, and adding it at such an accelerated rate that the planet can't keep up by re-capturing it and storing it again. Burning wood is only adding carbon that has only been stored for a relatively short period of time, and that carbon will be absorbed by new trees that are growing in place of the ones that being burned. It is a recycling of sorts. When the waste wood from forestry is burned in a modern wood burning appliance, it is used most efficiently. The smoke is "re-burned" reducing particulates in the flue gases. Burning it dry is a must to reduce these harmful, polluting particles. My stove, even on the coldest nights, has a slight whisper of smoke coming out of the chimney. That makes me happy. If you have ever seen a bee-hive burn that the forest companies use to dispose of waste wood, you would be appalled. The nasty, thick, smelly smoke that comes from these fires is terrible, plus the heat is just wasted. It could be used to create electricity or heat homes. Whole neighborhoods could be heated by wood waste plants, like Dockside Green in Victoria. This is the forward thinking that we need, especially in a province with as much wood available as we have. At a bare minimum all forestry companies should include in their harvesting plans how they will clean up the site and make the waste usable for using the wood waste to create energy, rather than having wasteful fires.

I would like to see BC getting away from using natural gas as a fuel for heating and energy generation and get back to the oldest fuel we have, wood.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vegetables are good

I was raised a meat eater. We ate it with every meal. All sorts, lots of ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and beef. It was a staple of the diet. My mom had ideas of eating less of it, and we called her a hippie. I kept with a meat rich diet for years. I thought that I couldn't do with out it. It seemed like the right thing to do. Men ate meat. Then I watched "Supersize Me". Morgan Spurlock's movie about eating at McDonalds, every meal, for a month.

What an eye opener. I had not thought about feed lots, animal cruelty, antibiotics, and the dirty conditions of packing plants. I was hooked on learning more about this subject. I read Spurlock's book based on the movie. From there I began reading Micheal Pollan's "Omnivores Dilemma", and "In Defense of Food". I found more and more material on the subject, and I ate it up (pun intended). I was opened up to a world of Big Food, corporate greed, genetic modification of plants to make them resistant to herbicides and pesticided, the role corn plays in (almost) every processed food we eat, how Big Oil and Big Food work together, how cows are fed corn, and also stuffed with antibiotics to make there stomachs able to digest corn. The gigantic lakes of waste from the feed lots. The migrant Mexican workers who are treated like slaves in the processing plants. I was appalled. How could this happen. This knowledge was the start of my changing of ideas for the way I was going to live my life. Quickly I stopped eating meat from stores when I couldn't tell where it came from, and would only eat it from local sustainable sources. I planted a garden. I began to incorporate more organic food into my diet. I can't say I am a total convert. Financial restrictions has not allowed me to make the jump to full organic eating. I have basically taken all meat out of my diet, except for fish. I try to find fish that has been line caught, versus net caught, and I don't buy fish processed outside of Canada. I also avoid farmed salmon as best as I can. To me those are feed lots that are just as polluting as the ones on land for livestock, and they are destroying fish species in other parts of the world creating an inefficient food source for something that mother nature could do for us. I have heard that cows are the biggest contributer to methane, a GHG, on the planet. The cows digestive process creates a lot of the gas, the breaking down of grasses, and other plant matter.

Not eating animals is good for the planet. Meat is heavier to transport, it is unsustainable, the calorie in to calorie out ratio is poor, and is the cause of many food borne illnesses. I am not saying don't eat meat, just eat less of it, and be choosy where is comes from. Ask questions where it comes from, and if they don't know, then don't buy is there. Buying meat from a box store is probably not a good choice.


Monday, May 23, 2011


Hello. I woke up feeling inspired to write today. It could have been the Grizzly Claw coffee I had this morning or the time I spent reading the Rowdy Kittens blog this morning. I started to think about the different ways I have simplified and how I could improve somethings.

My values have changed dramatically in the past few years. I was married young, had a child, bought a house, living the dream, doing a job I really couldn't stand( I use hate sparingly, it is a very strong word, and I find it offensive, more than the other four letter words. Hitler hated Jews, and to me that makes nothing worth "hating". Strongly disliking, despising, abhorring, these are much better terms for something you really don't like.) I had to drive 70k round trip, sometimes twice a day, doing a job that gave me little satisfaction, no chance of promotion, little acknowledgement, and sub-par wages. The local economy was in the dumper so I took what I could get. I had many occasions where I wished my vehicle would break down on route so I wouldn't have to go to work. We were constantly in debt with credit cards, vehicle loans, house repairs, and spending unnecessarily to to try to create happiness. I was obsessive about hobbies to try to escape my reality. I was constantly on edge. I hadn't found myself yet. I was a man without a soul. One day, a friend offered to lend me his mountain bike. I had ridden a bike since I was 5, but like so many, I lost the desire once I had gotten a vehicle. When I was 16, and without a car, I would commute to work on my mountain bike when I couldn't get a ride. It was about 20k each way, and I loved it. This offer of a bike changed me. I started to ride when ever I could. I would get up early a ride before I drove to work, enjoying the peace and quiet of summer mornings. I was hooked it. Eventually I had to return the bike, and I was without for sometime.

Life changes, and I separated from my wife. I had a bike again, a department store set of wheels. It was crappy, but the wheels turned, as a bike should, and I rode it. I was also spending much time drinking and partying, grieving the change in my life, and at the same time living without anyone to answer to. I had bought the big tv, I had two vehicles, I had stuff I thought would make me happy. I never did. It left me with a pile of debt that will follow me around for a long time. The cycle of debt, unhappiness, emptiness, and no path to enlightenment. I was still an empty soul. Eventually this had to stop and I began to thing about how things should be, and how I wanted to live. What kind of example I wanted to set for my daughter.

Gradually things would seep in. I bought another bike, a new mountain bike. I rode that like a mad man that first summer, and I loved it. I have a more full filling job working with my second family and best friends. I experimented with vegetarian cooking. I installed a woodstove. I built garden beds. I started using bio-degradable soaps. I was conscious about how much I was driving. I sold both my vehicles(I still have use of one, and I do use it a couple of times a week), and took up bicycle commuting full time. I got rid of my microwave and coffee maker. I was using the library instead of Amazon. I purchased a push mower. I was introduced to merino wool clothes by my girlfriend. I bake my own goodies and cook most of my own meals. Recently, because my dishwasher doesn't work very well, I decided to start hand washing all my dishes. I go to bed early and get up early. I sleep with the windows open and don't draw the curtains. My tv viewing has reduced to maybe an hour a day. I have a bread maker and use it often. I listen to podcasts instead of buying new music from itunes. I have stopped drinking alcohol, reduce eating fast food to about once a month. I have become a happier, healthier, friendlier, more considerate and more loving because of all my changes. Life is more organized, calm and quiet. Now I believe I am living the dream.

My daughter is seeing the results of these changes. She talks less about buying things. She is reading more. She talks about being green and good to the earth. She asked me to go on a field trip with her this week, and I had to say no because I have to work. That hurts. I would like to get myself in a position to avoid having to work everyday to make ends meet, and take an extra day off so I can spend more time doing neat things with her. She is growing so fast and she loves to do things with me. I will use this as a motivator to get out of debt and to lower my monthly expenditures to make it work.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Long weekend

It was a good week. The weather was super, and I actually rode down in the morning just wearing shorts. That is nice. May is such a great month. I could do May all year. Garden is planted now, with peas, carrots, and swiss chard. I also have broccoli, kale and dill started, that I will plant in a couple of weeks.

Less than a month until we leave on our trip up north. The weeks are going to go by fast. I will have to spend sometime getting the last minute things done. I need the bike shop to help get my Pletscher kickstand on my Devinchi. I hope they can make it work. If not, maybe they will buy it from me. I also need to find two hockey bags for us to pack out panniers in, so they stay together on the plane. If you can help with donating an old hockey bag that would be much appreciated.

I am feeling pretty good fitness wise. I did have a knee issue(again). I rode through it until yesterday morning. I had to drive in to work. I couldn't bend it. I was so mad. It was uncomfortable all week, I even did 45k after work on Wednesday. So I called around, my doctor and physio couldn't fit me in, and finally got in to see Dr. Colin Wilson at Cumberland Chiropractic. He did an adjustment on my lower back, and he wrapped my knee in Rock Tape. So far today it feels much better. I am so happy. I had visions of doing nothing all weekend. He explained that my injury was over use. Not in mileage, but I was riding to hard, to high of gears, and I needed to spin more. I guess that comes from commuting home, up hill, and trying to go as fast as possible, always. I need to reassess and slow down. I don't like hurting. He also talked about form, and I will be going in for a bike fit soon and see how I can make changes there.

Changing topics, I need to vent about something. First is drivers who pull over to talk on there cell phones. Turn off you ignitions. I get terribly frustrated about people idling their vehicles, drives me absolutely bananas. BC is supposed to be idle free. I am just saying, flick you keys off. It doesn't harm you vehicle, you will save some gas, and you will stop a little unnecessary carbon from entering the atmosphere. Thank you for not driving and talking, because as a cyclist that scares the heck out to me, if your that conscientious please turn off you car. Another thing that kills me is the police idling their cars while they are doing road checks, and speed traps. What is that all about. I wrote something about this to the editor of the newspaper a while back, I saw police vehicles idling on the side of the road for four hours. That is brutal. Way to set an example. I have been told it is run the electronics. I think they need to put more batteries in these vehicle, or start using cars with smaller engines. Running a V-8 to run electronics is just a little overkill. I wonder who buys the police their gas.....Oh yeah, I remember its me and you. RCMP single handedly keeping the tar sands in operation. C'mon get with the times.

I am going out to ride some new traisl today. I will try to get some pics. Thanks for stopping by. Re-Happy.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

first week back to work

It was a busy and productive week. Enough hours of work. It is good to be busy. Nights included dog lessons, a  training ride and a music show last night. I saw Old Man Luedecke last night at Joe's Garage. It was cool. He is a Canadian folk singer, storyteller and banjo plucker. I enjoyed his tunes a lot.

I rode everyday this week, including a 40k ride on Wednesday night. I managed to avoid rain all but one trip into work. That was cool. Anytime I can cruise without rain gear I am a happy cyclist. I am glad I have it, its just much nice not to need it. The training ride felt great. The wind really took the heat out of us. Good thing for the hot shower once at home. I got my Marin all tuned up. I had a new chain, sprocket, cassette, and rear brake pads put on it. It rides great now. I am so amazed how inexpensive bikes are to fix compared to cars. It is really great not owning a car. I have access to one whenever I need it, it makes not using one all the time easier. Gas prices barely affect me. No paying for expensive insurance. Bikes rule!

I am trying to wrap my head around simplifying more. I decided to stop using my dishwasher. While not giving me more time, it does use less energy, and water by hand washing. I gave up my microwave a couple of years ago, using the counter space for a bread maker. Having fresh warm bread every other day is sweet. My garden will be planted this weekend. I am going to start minimizing stuff tomorrow. I will be taking a couple of bags of things to the Salvation Army, and recycling some old magazines that are taking up space. It is so easy to collect things, and so hard to get rid of them. Do you have any ideas on how to minimize and simplify? I am interested in what you have to say.

Bike to Work week is May 30th until June 5th. I have my team of one, and I am looking for new members. I will be out there everyday like always, I hope some of you will get out there and feel the freedom of getting out of your dinosaur burning vehicles, get some exercise and see how easy it is. I have one of the more difficult commutes in the Comox Valley and I find it very liberating to climb the hill everyday, free of the burdens of the corporations. Life is great, get out of the steel and plastic, onto some aluminum and rubber, and feel like you are a part of the natural world. If you have any questions about bike commuting, or any thing related to cycling, send me an email.

Re-Happy and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New government, new thinking

I should be studying for my final exam tomorrow. I have spent all week going over things and I am tired of it. I am ready to do this and be finished school. I want to get home. I have enjoyed my time down here, but my daughter needs me, I miss her, my girlfriend, dog, bikes, and home. It will be over in two more days.

So the right won the election.Good job by the N.D.P. to change the political landscape of the country. I believe that the younger generation made a difference, especially in Quebec. The Bloq Quebecois are done, and I couldn't have been happier. I am pissed that the Separatists who have been MP's for years, are collecting huge pensions from Canadian taxpayers. That is bush. If our country isn't good enough, why is our money. Hypocrites. They should be shut down on that. Its the biggest rip off of taxpayer money going. Huge dollars for six years work. Sick. Good job to Elizabeth May on winning her seat, first Green party candidate to win a seat in North America. This is a good sign, and the left gaining so many seats, this country could be turning that direction for the next election in 2015. If we still have anything left. Harper will let the corporations rape this country of all its resources for free, leave when they are done, and not reclaim anything. And they will have burned off much of our natural gas to create the dirtiest, most energy negative fuel going. Bitumen. I shudder to think what will happen to the central coast if Enbridge gets it's way and builds that pipeline into Kitimat and The Great Bear rainforest. As my friend said,"What will happen if a leak occurs on the pipe, when it is covered in 16 feet of snow in the middle of know where. The oil will run everywhere in the freshets of spring melt." This will be a massive disaster. I shudder at this thought.

I am thinking more and more about simplifying my life. I am wondering if having a large home, big tv, a nice car, all the other bells and whistles, are worth it. I feel like I am hooked into consumerism, and I need to break the cycle. I was listening to the sprocket podcast today and I listened to a couple who are living this way.( They have a 400 square foot apartment, no car, no tv, no fridge, very few things. Its a situation they worked into over several years. It is inspiring to me. Living simply could make life cheaper, richer, and less complicated. I will be making small steps in this direction. I already don't technically own a car at the moment, but I am thinking about it soon, I will have to make some decisions before I go and get locked into paying for something for five or more years. I would love to be able to have more time to spend with my daughter, gardening, riding, visiting, volunteering, writing. Maybe I will buy a tandem bike instead, then I can take daughter around with me. I am sad that a great friend of mine has to be working out of town, in a camp, working to keep a roof over there head, and having to make tons of money to make a future for his family, while having to be away for two weeks at a time. I am inspired to make change, and I hope to inspire others. Reuse, recycle, repair, regift, restore, and re-happy:)