misslynx: (Photo - bicycle gears)
Today was a day of major cycling. I rode a grand total of 33km today, which I think may be an all-time record for me. That was a combination of five trips - three short ones earlier in the day (to a meeting with a client, then to an ill-fated coven meetup for potential new members, to which no potential new members showed up, then home), and then a longer trek in the evening - down to the Asian Night Market on Cherry Street, about 12.3 km by the route I took, and back again.

I now hurt in muscles I didn't even know I had. Usually long bike rides just leave my quads sore, but this time I think nearly everything from the waist down is sore, and my lower back more than anything. Going from sitting to standing or vice-versa currently involves stabby back pains, major leg soreness, and either whimpering or swearing. I did a whole bunch of stretches when I got home, so I'm hoping that will help some. Contemplating a hot bath, but I'm tired enough that I'm more inclined to just go to bed.

My bike is locked outside because carrying it up the stairs was already clearly NOT an option by the time I got home.

Ironically, I'd intended to not ride all the way back - I was going to just ride over to Shaw and take the Ossington bus back up, since the buses on that route have bike racks on the front. But I kind of started riding north, and kept telling myself "I'll just head over to Ossington once I reach Dundas... College... Harbord... Bloor..." and then not doing it. I did nearly cave and take the bus at a couple of points, but each time thought "I'll just go a little bit further first..." And eventually found myself walking the bike up the Davenport Hill, which is the main thing I would have taken the bus to avoid, so by that time there was really no point.

So I guess this is a small taste of the sort of thing I can expect as I start going on longer rides in order to gear up for doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer next summer... And really, despite the soreness, I really wants to do more rides like this. Especially the parts involving the Martin Goodman Trail. Riding along the waterfront is really wonderful, except for the nasty bit from Spadina to Yonge, where the trail disappears, and for much of that stretch there isn't even a bike lane on Queen's Quay the way there is west of Spadina and east of Yonge. Clearly the lesson in that is to plan longer lakeshore rides, so that the part I don't like will compose a smaller proportion of the overall distance. :-)

I have, in fact, a crazy idea in mind, to at some point ride from my dad's place, just north of High Park, down through the park and onto the waterfront trail, and then as far east as I can manage - possibly all the way to [livejournal.com profile] foxesdaughter's place. That would be a distance of 18.9 km, according to Ride the City. Definitely longer than I've ever ridden in a single stretch before, but nearly all of it either downhill or flat. The way back, not so much... I suspect I'd have to ride to Union Station and then take the subway, or something like that. But it would be a seriously cool ride.
misslynx: (Photo - bicycle gears)
Ah, me and my interesting routes to get places... (Some of you might remember this post on that topic.)

I think if I were a character in the RPG Changeling: the Dreaming, I would have to be an Eshu, because in addition to being big on storytelling, they have a gift for being able to find their way anywhere - but not by the most direct route, just the most interesting.

Today I had to go pick up a cheque from a client in Cabbagetown, and the last time I went there, I took Rosedale Valley Road, which may I say is the most kick-ass road in all of Toronto to ride a bike down. For non-locals, it's a long, winding road through a forested ravine, with no stop signs or other obstructions for a very long time -- and almost all downhill, so you pretty much just kick off at the top, and then brace yourself to go sailing downhill for a very, very long way, very fast, through all kinds of twists and turns, like a foresty roller-coaster ride.

And then it got REALLY interesting... )

So then all that remained was to figure out where the hell I was -- apparently, in a park I'd never been to, at the intersection of two streets I'd never heard of. My favourite! But in fact, it turned out to be only two blocks from my client's office, so all was good.

By the time I'd picked up and deposited the cheque, my bike was fine and so was I, and I was only slightly disappointed that I couldn't think of a handy ravine to ride through on the way back home. MOAR ADVENTURE PLZ.
misslynx: (Aidan & me - ravine)
Hope all the moms on my friends list had a good one today -- well, except for those of you who I know didn't (hope you feel better soon, [livejournal.com profile] tamago23!).

I had the Lynxcub for a visit, which included Vietnamese noodles; They Might Be Giants; dancing; strange improvised games involving renaming body parts and manic laughter; reading stories; phoning my mom, stepmother and grandmother so that both he and I could wish them a happy mother's day; and eventually the Cub falling asleep while cuddled up against me in the mei-tai on the way home while I sang to him. All in all, a very good way to spend the day.

Most sweet/entertaining moments:
  1. At the little Vietnamese restaurant we stopped at on the way to my place, when I told him we needed to pay before we could leave, he ran up to the waitress and tugged at the edge of her skirt, and solemnly told her he was going to pay.

  2. In a slightly similar vein:

    Lynxcub: "Can we ride your bike to your house?"
    Me: "No, honey, I don't have the right attachment to put your child seat on it yet."
    Lynxcub: "Can I help you get the attachment?"
    Me: "Well, it's mainly a matter of having the money to get the attachment, but hopefully I'll be able to get it soon."
    Lynxcub: "Can I help you get the money to get the attachment?"
    Me: "Well, um... That's very sweet, but I'm not sure how you could help with that. It's nice of you to offer, though."
    Lynxcub (excitedly): "Oh, I know how we can get the money for the attachment!"
    Me (surprised): "You do? How?"
    Lynxcub: "Well, we just... (trailing off thoughtfully) ride the bike all the way to your house, and... (suddenly distracted by some random object in a store window) What's that?"

I never did find out what his great fundraising idea was... Kid's got the attention span of a six-week-old kitten. Or, you know, a 2-3/4-year-old human. (BTW, to [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen and [livejournal.com profile] optimystik - this is the attachment I need, correct? Just want to be sure I get the right thing, once I can... I read somewhere they had two kinds of stingers but I've only been able to find one.)

Also, two recent instances of his peculiar over-articulateness:
  1. After almost-but-not-quite falling asleep during a thunderstorm on Friday: "I was awakened by the thunder."

  2. When asked what he was doing wriggling around on my office chair today: "I'm situating myself." He pronounced "situating" very carefully, one syllable at a time.

Seriously, how many kids use words like "awakened" and "situating" before age 3? At this rate, he'll be talking like China Miéville by the time he's in middle school. Except hopefully with fewer really disturbing metaphors.

Speaking of mothers and grandmothers (and bears, oh my), I am really hoping to be able to take him to visit my grandmother sometime this year, because she's never met him, and she's in her 90s so I don't know how much longer she'll be with us. Also, up north to visit my mother and stepfather - there's less time pressure on that one, but it would probably be the easier of the two visits to arrange. My grandmother's in the US and I'm not sure what sort of documentation I'd need to cross the border with the Cub, particularly given the whole not-actually-a-legal-parent thing.

I've talked to him about both ideas, and he seems to be all in favour, but given that he's never yet had even an overnight visit away from home, I don't know how well he'd handle it in practice. Well, chances are he'll have his first overnight visit with me soon, while his new sibling's being born, so I'll guess we'll see how that goes first.
misslynx: (Default)
Update to yesterday's door prize post:

Good: got a phone message from the investigating officer, who had already paid a visit to the guy, and I think actually took him down the station even. Quicker response than I'd expected.

Bad: he said in the message that he'd only be at the station for another hour and a half, after which he would be off for six days, and it was more than an hour and a half later by the time I got the message.

Also bad: the driver denied everything, and the cop apparently couldn't make out the name and number of the witness in his notes, and needed me to supply it again. Except that he's going to be away from work for six days.

Potentially bad: the witness lives up near North Bay, and was only in Toronto for the day. I really hope they're OK with getting just a phone statement from her or something, because I have no idea whether she'd be willing or able to come back to Toronto to ID the guy in person.

Good: I went and got my bike and it was still there, and still had all its parts. And I got a chance to try it out for more than just a couple of blocks, and it still seems to be in more or less rideable condition.

Bad: note the "more or less" in the above statement. It is not exactly undamaged. I was able to ride it all the way home from College & University, but it felt a tad bit wonky, made a variety of odd sounds it didn't used to make, and the rear brake seems kind of messed up (unsurprisingly, as that's the one on the right handlebar, which smacked directly into the car door). Not messed up as in doesn't work - it's more like it works excessively, and drags on the rear wheel a bit even when I'm not applying the brakes at all. Taking it to my local bike repair place tomorrow to get it checked out.

Potentially bad: I should add, taking it to the bike shop if I'm able to get paid by anyone tomorrow, as I am pretty much flat broke. However, one cheque may be in the mail, and another client I e-mailed this morning asking if I could perchance meet up with her to pick up a cheque, so I'm hoping maybe one of those will work out.

Mixed good and bad
: bruising on right shoulder and leg doesn't look too awful today, though everything's still sore.

The shoulder in particular is a whole lot more sore than it looks like it should be for the amount of bruising visible. Possibly I wrenched a muscle or something. I can use my arm fine for undemanding stuff (typing, cooking, eating, etc.), but anything requiring much effort or moving from the shoulder hurts like whoa. And I occasionally get random aches radiating down my whole right arm. Something more than just the bruise and scrape I can see is going on there. And while the right shoulder's the worst, my whole back and both shoulders feel kind of as if I'd been moving furniture all day yesterday or something.

The really deep bruise on my left thigh is Cut for possibly squicky details )

Also bad: have not yet succeeded in getting through to my doctor's office - got home too late yesterday, and stupidly waited until too late in the afternoon today (due to sleeping for a long time and still feeling kind of dopey and tired once I got up), only to discover the office closed earlier than I thought. Will try again tomorrow.

All in all, not feeling overly optimistic any more about anything coming of the attempt to press charges. Between the guy denying it, the cop going away, only having gotten one witness's contact info, and that witness being non-local, I am starting to think the odds of any good resolution to this are not in my favour. :-/ Well, if nothing else, maybe at least the fact that he got dragged down to the cop station and had to answer questions may make Mr. Lexus Guy think twice before doing that sort of thing again...
misslynx: (Me - w/ Kiska (on couch))
I so don't feel like going all the way back downtown to retrieve my bike right now. I only have one TTC token, so I'd be riding it back (unless I want to spend my last $10 on more tokens instead of on groceries like I'd intended to), and I don't really feel up to that at the moment.

So instead I think I am going to attempt to have faith in human nature, plus the fact that it's locked with a U-bar lock that goes through one wheel as well as the frame, on a fairly busy street, plus the fact that it's not a particularly valuable-looking bike (it's from Canadian Tire, so not exactly high end), and hope that it will be OK overnight, and that I will be feeling better tomorrow.

Tonight: hot bath, cold stout, Supernatural, and early bedtime. And maybe sending out a few invoices to clients so that I eventually can get more tokens, and also cover any repair work that might be needed for the bike, and maybe pick up some arnica or something for my bruises.

Please don't get stolen, bike.
misslynx: (Quote - good day)
Memo to: the driver of the silver Lexus at Bay and College.

Accidents happen. I get that. Yes, people should really look to see if anything is coming before opening their car door on the traffic-facing side, but sometimes people forget to do that. With unpleasant results for all involved.

But you know, a little bit of courtesy in such situations goes a long way. Such as, say, asking the cyclist who is trying to disentangle herself from her bike and pick herself and it up from the road before getting run over whether she's OK. And providing your contact info like you're supposed to in the event of accidents. Or, just maybe, apologizing. Or expressing any trace of concern whatsoever over anything apart from whether your fucking Lexus got a scratch or dent.

Yes, yes, I'm sure you were in a hurry, and found the whole thing terribly inconvenient. Which is why your sum total response was to glare at me as I was still trying to sit up and figure out whether I'd broken anything and snarl "This is a new car!" as if I'd hit it on purpose just to ruin your day. As opposed to because you flung the door open directly in front of me so that I didn't have a hope in hell of stopping even though I (thankfully) wasn't going that fast. And then, as I was still picking myself up, to jump back in your car and drive off.

News flash: sticking around to handle your part in an accident like a grown-up might have seemed like an intolerable imposition to you, but I think you're going to find the visit you'll soon be receiving from the nice officer who came to take down my information after I reported you a bigger nuisance.

Did you know that failing to remain at the scene of an accident, especially when someone's been injured and/or appears to require assistance, is an offense not just under the Highway Traffic Act, but also the Criminal Code of Canada? And can get you a hefty fine, your driver's license suspended, and even potentially six months in jail? I didn't know that either, but I do now, and you're about to find out. Because thanks to the fact that you pulled this crap in front of several witnesses, I have your license plate number. And the officer said he'd give you a choice between apologizing and offering compensation, or being charged. Unless you're as much of a douchebag to him as you were to me, in which case he'll just go ahead and charge you (well, OK, he didn't use the word "douchebag" as such, but that seemed to be the general drift).

Would it really have been that big a problem to have just taken some kind of responsibility for your actions at the time instead of being a complete dick about it? I would not have reported you if you had, and you wouldn't be looking at a possible license suspension and other unpleasantness. Karma, honey.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to attend to my various scrapes and bruises, retrieve my bike from downtown (since all of this delayed me enough that I had to take a taxi to pick up Aidan), and write a statement. Oh, and call my doctor tomorrow morning to see about getting my (thankfully fairly minor) injuries* documented.

* For the curious: a big scrape over a nasty bruise on my right shin - not sure if that was from the pavement or the door; various smaller bruises above and below it in the same area; a really deep, wickedly painful bruise on upper left thigh which is already turning black and blue with big streaks of dark red in it - I think that was maybe from the corner of the seat? - and another nasty scrape/bruise combo on my right shoulder, which was probably from the door. Also, a bit of neck, shoulder and lower back muscle soreness. Epsom salts bath required tonight, I think. Also, beer.
misslynx: (Default)
  1. To the cyclist riding directly ahead of me on Bay street:

    You are the reason everyone hates us )

  2. To the little old lady cyclist who turned onto Bay in front of me right after death-wish cyclist #1 turned off:

    I think YOUR life just flashed before my eyes )

  3. To more car drivers than I can count offhand:

    Stop it. STOP IT NOW. )

But hey, apart from all that, it was a lovely day for cycling. Rode downtown and back twice, the second time to go to Neutral and dance for about three hours. Did not make it to the gym, but I'm pretty sure I got my exercise anyway.

Today was more an upper-body and core muscles sort of day, in that it involved carrying little A halfway to Hillcrest Park (about 9-10 blocks from AA&N's place) and all the way back, because he was tired from walking a lot earlier in the day, and did not feel inclined toward any unnecessary walking.

A good time was had by all apart from that, though, and the boy got to try Vietnamese noodles for the first time, which he seemed to very much like (not pho, I figured that would have been a recipe for epic mess). He also determinedly tried to use the adult-sized, non-hinged chopsticks, being perhaps a touch overconfident from his mastery of the hinged kind Japanese restaurants give to kids. That did not work so well, and he ended up deciding to use two ceramic pho spoons at once instead, which worked -- well, not exactly perfectly, but better than you might think.

Also, his new favourite sport is pine cone tennis.
misslynx: (Aidan - w/stick)
These are all from today:
  1. Fishing for sushi )

  2. Urban planning, toddler-style )

  3. Lynxcub, junior Cthulhu cultist )
misslynx: (Default)
14 degrees out today. 14 degrees. In Canada. In March.

Lest the Americans on my flist think that my rhapsodizing over this is yet one more indication that we are all crazy up here, that is Celsius. Translates to somewhere around 60 Fahrenheit, I think. As in, seriously springlike.

Now, I have been riding my bike on and off this winter, so it's not like cycling has been totally on hold for the cold weather. But still... There is something glorious about the first ride of the year without having to keep one's face covered, wear heavy gloves, etc. Sunlight + exquisitely mild temperatures = cycling love.

I had been for the most part avoiding biking to my dad's place on my editing days during the winter - I did do it a few times, but it's a longish trek (6km each way), and while I happily did it twice a week during warmer weather, rides that long are not always fun in cold weather, as that is easily far enough to result in numb hands and feet (particularly with the whole Raynaud's thing). But today there was no way I was not going to - even though I also had to go downtown to go the bank first. So... all the way downtown, and then out to High Park. And back, later, though we'll see how well I do at that.

So now I am at my dad's, with muscle-sore legs and sweat-soaked hair and clothing, and yet still feeling massively exhilarated. I don't know, maybe it's endorphins. I am tad bit worried that when the time comes to go home, I will find that my quadruceps have dissolved into aching jelly, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime, I am absurdly pleased with myself for having just ridden something like 15km with just a short break in the middle at the bank...

Though I do have to add: Bike, I love you dearly, but WTF is it with you and the fifth gear on the middle range these days? Yes, it's a nice gear, and I ride in it a fair bit. BUT. That does not mean I want to be stuck in it FOREVER. I do not appreciate having to try at least half a dozen times to shift to fourth when riding into a headwind or trying to go uphill, and, even less, finally managing to downshift only to feel you clunk back into fifth two minutes later. Which happened at lest three times today. Methinks your derailleurs need looking at or something...

ETA: Back home. Ride home was surprisingly not too bad. A little soreness, had to go a little slower than usual, and ended up walking just the last couple of blocks, but otherwise, surprisingly painless. Total distance ridden today: a little over 20km. Not bad for having ridden only sporadically through most of the winter and not going the gym as regularly as I should this past while...

Mind you, I'm really feeling it now. I suspect tomorrow will involve absolutely nothing that puts any strain on my quads, and even walking up and down stairs will probably be be challenging. Ah well...
misslynx: (Me - w/ Kiska (on couch))
OK, while the winter biking them has mostly been pretty happy-making so far, today was an object lesson in why it is perhaps not always a good idea. I am not sure exactly what temperature it was in the late afternoon on the way back from the meeting I had with a client earlier today, but it is, at the moment, -12°C with a wind child of -22°.

On the way to said meeting was fine - it was mostly downhill (when you live on St. Clair, damn near everything is downhill - well, all right, theoretically most of the city is not, but the entire downtown core is), and while it was a little windy, the wind was at my back.

Do the math on that, and you will observe that these circumstances made for a return trip that was uphill into a headwind. Even with heavy-duty mittens and wool socks (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lgbtech's practical approach to Giftmas), I could not feel my fingers and toes after a certain point (though ironically, the rest of me was still pretty warm from bike-generated body heat). Also, riding into a strong wind is kind of like riding uphill to start with. Combine that with the fact that one actually is riding uphill and it makes for much unhappiness. Quads are massively sore.

I had intended, upon my return, to lock my bike outside, based on the theory that I would want to ride it to the gym later this evening. Once I had gotten my breath back, after getting inside, and could feel my various appendages again, I carted the bike upstairs, because I was quite certain by that point that if I did somehow make it to the gym after Aidan-visit-time, it would not be on the bike.

Am currently trying to decide whether I am going to the gym tonight at all - my branch is now open until midnight most nights, so it's not too late to go, and I really wanted to go today because I missed Tuesday, but I am tired, and my legs are still sore enough that even going up and down stairs sounds daunting to me right now. Maybe I will decide after I walk Kiska.

. . .

Actually, I now see that Environment Canada's weather site lets you see hourly temperature readings for the past 24 hours. Apparently during my ride back, it was -9, with a wind chill of -19, with winds of 37 km/h, gusting to 52, coming from the WNW (north and west being exactly the directions I had to ride in). So if I'm trying to figure out some kind of limit as to when it makes sense to ride or not to, maybe "not when there will be winds of greater than 30 km/h blasting directly into my face" would be a good start.
misslynx: (Default)
So I have now twice biked to a client's place near Pape & Gerrard, which is the longest distance I've done in a single stretch, apart from (I think) that one time I biked from [livejournal.com profile] foxesdaughter's place to Union Station along the waterfront trail late at night. And I've actually found it a pretty decent and enjoyable trek both times.

Although perhaps doing it today, after having had no sleep whatsoever the previous night, was unwise. Stayed up all night working on stuff, most notably finishing scanning a huge stack of portfolio samples for said client's web site (she's a copywriter), that I had to return to her today. Did briefly consider before departing that maybe major sleep deprivation and long bike rides on busy streets do not mix well. Discarded that notion as for the weak. :-) Still, no mishaps. There is nothing like the adrenaline of riding in traffic to make one feel much more awake than one otherwise might.

But contemplating the distance after the fact, it occurred to me to compare via Mapquest how far it was from my place to said client's place, and how far it would be to ride from my place all the way to Foxesdaughter's, as opposed to riding down to Christie station, taking the subway across to the east end, and then riding down from Main station.

Result: distance to client's place, 9.98 km
Distance to chez Foxes, 14.22 to 16.88 km, depending on route taken

That's not that much further... (she says thoughtfully, eying her bike)

Why yes, yes I am completely insane. Thank you for asking.

However, I think I am going to attempt to go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour tonight for a change. Despite having a big project due tomorrow. There is a level of tiredness beyond which you are good for nothing but playing Nethack and correcting people's English submissions on Livemocha, both of which are good low-stress brain candy, but neither of which pay the bills.

. . .

And in a random, semi-related note, I am so, so very happy that the Akiwenzies have returned to the farmers market near me. They are a small family-run fishing business from a Chippewa reserve on Georgian Bay, and they sell both fresh-caught and traditionally smoked fish from there, which is about as local fish as you will ever find in Toronto (I'm not sure I'd want to eat fish caught directly in the Toronto harbour, after all, what with the pollution levels there). They had been away all summer due to building a new smokehouse & fish-processing centre on their land, and last Saturday was their first day back.

I bought a big whitefish fillet from them on Saturday, and had then managed to almost forget it was there, until earlier this evening when I was really feeling the lack of sleep, with a combination of spaciness and unsettled tummy that made me feel like I really needed to eat something super-nutritious, but wasn't sure what, due to lack of being able to think. Then I remembered it, and it was like my whole brain just jumped tracks to "OMG fish fish fish fish FISH NOW FISH PLZ FISH FISH FISH!!!"I had originally thought that piece would do for three meals, but I baked the whole thing and ate a little over half of it in a single sitting, with some bulgur wheat and sauteed spinach (because dark leafy greens are the other thing I crave when tired or stressed).

So, so very good. And not just taste-wise, but in the way that feels like every cell in my body is turning little cartwheels of happiness from being inundated with a tidal wave of nutrients. I can seriously get very euphoric from eating things like that, especially when I was feeling tired or out of sorts before it.

And this is why despite being somewhat vegan-leaning in other respects, I have no desire to give up fish. My body just likes it entirely too much, and nothing else is quite the same. I don't know if it's the omega 3's, or B-12, or whether, as someone in [livejournal.com profile] necronomiphiles once claimed, I am secretly a Deep One. :-) I do dislike the excesses of commercial fisheries, though, and even when buying stuff that makes the sustainable seafood list, there's the whole carbon footprint thing to think about with having it flown in from somewhere near an actual ocean. So being able to actually buy lake fish caught somewhere nearby is incredibly happy-making.

. . .

Oh, and speaking of Deep Ones and related topics, [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen sent me the following link today: Miskatonic Valley Fine Art. All Lovecraft geeks must immediately check it out. Only two statues thus far, but they're really cool. I especially like the one of Shub-Niggurath.

. . .

I think I would like to go to bed NOW, actually. Though realistically I should at least answer a couple more e-mails...
misslynx: (Default)
Still need to do a Real Update[TM] covering assorted events of the past month like Maíre & Deb's wedding and [livejournal.com profile] lgbtech's visit, but this is not it. For the time being, I just need to announce a few small things:
  1. This recipe is awesomely delicious. But should not be made if you are in a hurry, as it takes time. It's easy, but it takes time. Especially if you use the beet greens (which I very much recommend), as they tend to need a lot of washing. But OMG is it worth it. It's impressive-looking, as well as tasty - the pasta turns neon fuschia and looks amazing mixed in with bright green beet tops and dark red beets. I think I used a higher veggies-to-pasta ratio than the recipe calls for, and a little more garlic (two large cloves to one bunch of beets and a small amount of whole wheat pasta), and added a squirt of lemon juice to tone down the sweetness. But so, so very good. Will definitely make again.

  2. My Deliria game seems to be getting off to a good start despite having thus far never had the same group of players show up twice. Best quote of the evening: "You guys are pretty nice for a bunch of Satan-worshippers." [livejournal.com profile] the_moogie is an excellent hostess, as always. Yummy mushroom thingies and pistachio nuts and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Yes, she got an extra experience point.

  3. Last but definitely not least, on the way back, I did something that I not only have never done before, but that until recently I had considered impossible, or at least highly improbably that I would do any time in the foreseeable future.

    I suppose the story really begins the previous night, where I briefly attempted what I ended up doing tonight, because suddenly it just didn't look quite so impossible as it always had before, but didn't quite feel up to it then. Or maybe it begins last week with [livejournal.com profile] optimystik giving my bike a mini-tune-up which included raising the seat a bit higher, which I've found has made a huge difference in how easy it is to ride, particularly up hills. Small hills that used to be daunting to me I can now ride up relatively easily. But still, I hadn't quite expected to be able to do this.

    Tonight, when riding along Davenport, I got to Christie, where I usually get off my bike and walk it up the killer hill of doom. And I did not get off my bike. I did not walk my bike. I just turned right and rode straight up the hill.

    Let me repeat that: I RODE UP THE DAVENPORT HILL. On my bike. Me. 46 Years old. Arthritis in knees and ankles. Massively out of shape until relatively recently. I. RODE. UP. THE. DAVENPORT. HILL.

    It was not easy. I downshifted all the way to 1 (well, 1 on the middle gear - my bike has 18 speeds but in practice I only ever use the middle 6 because the left shifter scares me), at times was going so slowly I almost thought my bike would topple over, and at several points seriously considered giving up. But I did not give up. I didn't even stop for a breather after I got to the top, though I desperately wanted to. Ironically, the very slight incline of the first couple of blocks after the crest of the hill was almost harder than the hill itself, because my leg muscles were so fried by that point. But I kept going, even though I had to stay in really low gear at first. By St. Clair I was back up to 4, and by the time I got home a minute or two later, my legs didn't hurt any more, though I was still a bit out of breath and soaked with sweat. I don't know what kind of shape I'm going to be in tomorrow...

    But I did it.
misslynx: (Is it can be hugs tiem now plees?)
Today's project: ride my newly tuned-up bike to the Leslie Street Spit. A small group of friends was gathering there to learn about identifying edible wild plants and such, and given my recent stress levels, a long bike ride and an outdoor excursion seemed very appealing.

I did not, however, end up riding the whole way, because I wound up leaving late and needed to save time, so I rode to St. Clair West station, wrestled my bike down into the subway, came up at Union, and rode from there to the spit, having spent the subway ride wondering whether, given what a headache it was getting the bike onto and off of the subway, I'd actually saved any appreciable amount of time at all.

But once I set off riding along the lakeshore, all worries slipped away, because it was by far the finest place to ride a bike that I have yet experienced. Nice, smooth, flat trails, the lake to one side, a warm summery day, fresh breeze off the like and a nice wind from behind me cooling what might have otherwise been a too-hot ride, lots of other cyclists, and interesting scenery ranging from parks and beaches to intriguing urban decay. I was almost disappointed when I finally got to my destination, because I wanted to just keep going. Maybe sometime I will go on my own and ride all the way out to the end of the spit.

But the walk with friends, some of whom I had not seen in far too long, was nice, and I did learn some things. And then eventually it was time to head back.

And that was when things got... interesting.

As I mentioned, it was a blazingly sunny, unseasonably warm, very summery day, though out on the spit the wind was a bit chilly at times. But by the time I began the ride back, it was getting a little overcast, and the wind, which I was now riding into rather than having behind me, was picking up a bit. Still, didn't seem to be much of a problem at first.

But as I continued west, the wind got stronger, and was making riding a lot more challenging. It felt like I was going uphill even though the ground was completely level, just because of the force of the wind.

And then it seemed to be getting dark, and it took me a minute to realize that it shouldn't be doing that for another few hours yet. I looked up, and there was a bank of really, really dark clouds heading in from the west at a disturbingly rapid speed. I think that was when the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" popped into my head.

I think it was somewhere around Cherry Beach that the wind began to really go crazy -- I looked ahead and could see clouds of dust and debris flying around, and picnickers scrambling to pack up all their stuff and get back to their vehicles, in between worried looks at the sky and bouts of trying to fan dustclouds away from their faces. As I rode into what looked like a mini-sandstorm, all I could do was try to keep my eyes as nearly closed as I could and still see the trail. As it was, I still got a bunch of dust and grit in my eyes (and under my contacts!), not to mention nearly hit in the face by someone's umbrella abruptly blowing inside out. Oh yes, and the first raindrops were beginning to fall then too.

So from that point on, I couldn't see very well and my eyes were stinging, in addition to everything else that followed. The wind got stronger and stronger -- it seemed like the Great Lakes were jealous of the hurricanes the oceans get to have and trying to do their best to replicate one. There were times when I had to get off and walk my bike because the wind was so strong I couldn't ride into it, or when it was coming from the side and felt like it was going to push me right off the trail or off my bike entirely.

Partway up Cherry Street, the floodgates really opened, and suddenly I was being bombarded with torrential rain and fucking HAIL, as well as gale-force winds. I alternated riding and walking depending on how hard the wind was blowing and how tired my legs were. I nearly got hit by other cyclists at least three times while walking my bike, because pretty much anyone who still could was riding like a bat out of hell and visibility was minimal, especially for anyone who'd ridden through the dust clouds before the rain kicked in.

The lightning started while I was walking my bike over a large metal bridge in a really open area. On a scale of all places you really don't want to be in a lightning storm, that ranks pretty damn high, I would say.

Oh, and did I mention that this whole area, apart from the park at Cherry Beach, is pretty much an industrial wasteland, with no coffee shops, stores or even so much as a gas station or bus shelter where one might be able to take shelter from a storm? There was absolutely nowhere to go except onward, and I was still about 2.5km or thereabouts from Union Station when the rain hit. I was also, at some points, totally unsure of where I was, because I the trail markings seemed to have disappeared and I couldn't see well enough any more to read any street signs.

Eventually, I saw a wondrous site up ahead of me -- a TTC bus! I had no idea what bus it was or where it was going; the only thing that mattered to me was that it was going somewhere and that it would not be raining inside the bus. I didn't know if I'd be able to catch up to it, though, or if they'd let me on with my bike if I did. But then I was passed by two other cyclists, who headed straight for the bus, and as I slogged forward as best I could (this was during a walking phase, not a riding phase), I saw them get on the bus with their bikes! So I hurried forward hoping to join them -- only to have the bus take off just before I got to the door. I think that was the point where I actually lost it and started crying. But not for too long, as my desire to get the hell out of the storm somehow, somewhere was stronger than my desire to just have a nice satisfying emotional meltdown.

I finally made it onto Queen's Quay, the second-last leg of the route back to Union Station, which was how I figured out that I had pretty much stuck to the correct route on the way back despite being half-blind and not knowing where the hell I was. When I spotted the legendary Queen's Quay LCBO store, it took me all of about 5 seconds to decide to cut in, lock up my bike, and go inside -- mainly for a respite from the rain, but also partly because I'd been hearing for years that it was one of the largest LCBO stores (note to non-Ontarians: that would be liquor store) in Toronto and had an awesome selection, and particularly because I had by this point a strong desire to have something alcoholic waiting for me after I got home and into a hot shower. I took about as long as I thought I could reasonably get away with making a selection (Young's Double Chocolate Stout, for the record), and then reluctantly went back out to continue on.

By the time I finally got to Union, the storm was actually easing up a bit, but I was so exhausted I couldn't even think straight, and ended up going back and forth several times between two sets of turnstyles trying to figure out how to get my bike through (and nearly having another emotional meltdown) before I finally remembered how I'd gotten it out earlier. Also, carrying a bike up and down various stairs and escalators is much harder when you and the bike are soaking wet and plastered with mud and dirt.

Finally I made it home, where a very long, very hot shower, the aforementioned chocolate stout (which was phenomenally good, by the way), and dog cuddles made everything better.

Well, I wanted a serious bike workout today, and I got one -- rather more of one than I'd counted on! I have aching muscles everywhere, plus many little bruises and abrasions of unknown origin. A combination of random bike parts, flying debris and being hammered with ice pellets during the hail phase of the storm, I suppose. I think I should get some kind of special award for cycling endurance or something. But I would settle for another chocolate stout. If only I had bought more than one...
misslynx: (Good Day)
Side streets. SideWALK. Not the same thing. )

. . .

Oh, and just to be even-handed about things:

Memo to: drivers )

Memo to: pedestrians )

. . .

Really, I like cycling. Also, walking. Just not some of the things I encounter when doing either of the above.
misslynx: (little help)
So, spring has sprung and that means cycling again (for those of us not hardcore enough to do it straight through the winter). And I've enjoyed a few rides already, including to my dad's place on Friday, which is a fair bit farther than anything I'd attempted since last fall. However...

Said ride to my dad's on Friday was not an entirely enjoyable experience. For some time now (as in, not just this spring, but last fall as well), my bike's been getting a little wonky when it comes to shifting gears. Sometimes it doesn't shift when I want it to, sometimes it does shift when I don't want it to, and sometimes it seems to be in a different gear than the shifters on the handlebars would seem to indicate. In particular, it seems to like to downshift by itself -- at least, I think that's the term -- with the chain tending to jump periodically down to the next smaller gear on the rear wheel.

And partway to my dad's on Friday, the chain slipped right off, meaning that pedalling suddenly did nothing at all (very glad I was on a street with bike lanes when it happened, and not in the middle of an intersection or something. I made it to the sidewalk, and with a bit of fiddling was able to get the chain back onto the gears, but all the way there it kept sliding down to the smallest one -- I could try and shift to a higher gear, but it wouldn't stay. And by the time I was heading home later, things had progressed to the point where shifting just did absolutely nothing, and the bike was permanently stuck on the lowest gear (well, the lowest on the rear wheel -- it's on the middle gear on the front wheel, and I don't tend to change that one).

At first I thought maybe the chain was too loose, but it doesn't look particularly saggy, so maybe the problem is with the rear derailleur or something? I've been meaning to take a bike maintenance and repair course, but haven't had a chance yet, so my knowledge of these things is pretty minimal, as is my cash on hand right now, so I won't be able to take it to a bike repair place for a while. I tried googling various related terms, but the info I was able to find online mostly seemed to assume a higher degree of bike repair knowledge/experience than I have (e.g. "Check to see if the derailleur looks like it's bent out of shape" -- that would be fine I knew what shape it was supposed to be to start with, but sadly I don't).

So I was wondering, in the meantime, is there anyone on my friends list who might be able to give me some pointers on how to fix this, or better yet, if local, take a look at it and help me get it sorted out? I can't offer to pay anyone yet, but I can offer you (home-cooked) dinner or something... Any takers?

BTW, I apologize if any part of this description doesn't make sense or is using the wrong terms or whatever -- like I said, I'm not very familiar with bike parts and terminology yet.
misslynx: (Default)
  1. Pedal the Don - free group bike trip through the Don Valley, Sunday May 3, 1pm. I want to go to this - anyone else?

    It's longer than I've ever biked before, but it sounds so cool! And going from north to south, it would be mostly downhill.

  2. $25 bike tune ups at U of T Apr 6-9. It's a fundraiser for the U of T mountain bike team, but it doesn't sound like you need to be an actual U of T student to take advantage of it. And it's about half the price most stores seem to charge for that sort of thing.
In other news, tonight was Unexpected Coyote Puppet Theatre at Wolf Moon. And I have pipe cleaner spiders now.

Also, I have no idea what I'm doing still awake. I should probably remedy that.
misslynx: (Default)
Well, it is now officially spring, because today I finally took my bike out for the first time this year!

There were a number of days in March when I wanted to, but either circumstances prevented me, or I wasn't sure how long a ride I should attempt given that all my hard-won cycling muscles had probably atrophied over the winter and I might be basically starting from scratch. But Tuesday I went on one of the stationary bikes at GoodLife as a sort of trial run, and was able to do two miles on it without too much trouble, so I figured that meant I could probably try riding my bike to GoodLife today, since that's only a little over a mile.

I was equal parts excited and apprehensive, because I've really missed cycling, but I wasn't sure how hard it would be. But really, the only down side turned out to be the discovery that my tires had gone flat over the winter. Once that was remedied, I was off, and quickly found that riding was no problem at all...

Hell, I ended up riding up a hill on Heath Street that last fall I would end up walking up half the time. And I didn't even downshift. Mind you, I think I was in somewhat of an altered state of consciousness at the time: bike intoxication, defined as having all rational thought replaced with an endless stream of "BIKE BIKE FREEDOM YAY WHEE FRESH AIR SUNSHINE WIND SPEED WHEE BIKE BIKE BIKE <3 <3 <3 !!!" :-)

I hit Yonge Street before I knew it, and was only the very tiniest bit wobbly in the legs after getting off the bike. I did find that some of the weight machines that I suppose must work the same muscles one uses in cycling were a little harder to do than usual, though. But that was the only ill effect, and even the way back was easy, though I really have to say that Heath Street is a much less desirable cycling route during rush hour than at other times.

Note to self: time gym visits better in the future. Yes, Heath is a nice long relatively quiet street paralleling St. Clair that is usually great to bike on. But it is also narrower than one realizes until one finds oneself on there with wall-to-wall cars in both directions and about six inches of space to ride in (OK, slight exaggeration, but really, not by much).

Anyway, very pleased to find that I didn't lose my cycling ability over the winter after all. Unless a mere two weeks of working out brought it back?

. . .

One thing that I really did not enjoy, though was carting the bike up and down stairs again. I remember now that that was why I didn't always ride it as often as I otherwise might have, because sometimes I could easily see riding someplace, but couldn't quite bring myself to wrestle the bike down the stairs (a somewhat cramped staircase with several bends in it, at that).

I know keeping bikes outside is generally regarded as Not Safe, but I'm really tempted to try and find some semi-secure way of doing it anyway, just because this is going to drive me crazy. Also, I've had several near-accidents on the stairs with the bike, and sooner or later the "near-" part of that phrase is probably going to slip. I don't want my bike to get stolen, but I really don't want to fall down the stairs with it on top of me, either.

Any ideas?

Catching up

Sep. 4th, 2008 11:50 pm
misslynx: (With Kiska (on couch))
Overdue for an update, so I'll try and keep this -- well, maybe not brief as such, but at least a list of things each one of which is brief. Or something like that.
  1. My trip up north was surprisingly un-traumatic. Aidan slept through almost the entire car ride -- clearly, the night-driving approach was a good one. And [livejournal.com profile] kettunainen and I got along pretty well for the most part. She and [livejournal.com profile] optimystik retrieved the kayaks, and then left the next night, and I stayed through until Monday to have some more time with my parents and away from the city, both of which are important to me. I've really, really missed being up north -- it had been two years!

  2. I am also going to miss the kayaks. My one regret about this weekend was that I didn't have the chance to have one last kayak outing before they went away. I had discovered on the trip we initially took them up north on, a few years back, that I love kayaking. But I know there are places where kayaks can be rented, even in the city. Someone mentioned one on the Humber River a while back. I think I need to do that -- anyone else interested?

  3. Big surprise when I got back -- my apartment was almost unrecognizable! Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it had been considerably tidied and organized by [livejournal.com profile] the_moogie, who as far as I knw had only been going to stop by Saturday morning to walk Kiska and feed all the animals, since [livejournal.com profile] forestweaver would be house-sitting the rest of the time. But apparently she got inspired while she was there, and an inspired Virgo can be a frightening thing. She even started in on staining the wooden shelves I had gotten from [livejournal.com profile] nocturnalia et al. I am in awe. Also, very grateful.

  4. Bike stuff )

  5. On the greatness of farmer's markets )

  6. Die mosquitoes die, or, the necessity of a flock of trained bats )

  7. One more thing everyone should check out if they haven't already: [livejournal.com profile] thrifthorror Really, where else are you going to read comments like "Nauseous bondage ghost for the win!"? I don't think any other community on LJ has ever made me both laugh out loud and recoil in terror quite as often as that one.

  8. I am sure there are more things I was intending to write here, but I can't remember them now. Possibly this means I should go to bed soon.

Sick

Aug. 12th, 2008 01:19 pm
misslynx: (With Kiska (in chair))
So on Sunday when I went for my visit with Aidan, he had a bad cold and was extremely cranky. But in between the bouts of cranky he was his usual cute self, and at one point very intent on playing one of his favourite games, which involves him picking up a wooden block by one corner with his teeth, then leaning over to me and expecting me to take it from him by biting the opposite corner of it, then pass it back to him likewise, and so on.

And it occurred to me even at the time that this was probably not the optimal thing to be doing with a child who has a cold. Even though theoretically we're only mouthing opposite ends of the block, not the same part, I have no doubt that at one time or another the entire block has probably been in Aidan's mouth. He's a year old; everything goes in his mouth.

Thus, predictably enough (particularly considering that I have lately worn down my immune system via too much work and not enough sleep), last night I started getting that scratchy, tickly feeling in the back of my throat, and by this morning was thoroughly sniffly and fuzzy-headed, with a mega post-nasal drip making my throat sore, and a bit of a cough starting as well, and generally feeling kind of like death warmed over.

I have two client meetings today -- one of them I've already had, the other's in about half an hour. I suppose I just have to try not to breathe on anyone.

Well, at least my business meetings do not typically involve passing the clients wooden blocks with my teeth.

. . .

In other news, I was all set to take my bike out for its maiden voyage yesterday to [livejournal.com profile] neeuqdrazil and [livejournal.com profile] curgoth's Stitch and Bitch, which is just about the perfect distance away for bike riding. But at the last moment I checked the weather report, only to see that thunderstorms were predicted. So I reluctantly left the bike at home -- and then the predicted thunderstorms never materialized. Poo.

Now the weather report is predicting a substantial chance of rain every day from now through Friday. Oh well, I guess I just have to watch the actual weather outside, and take the bike out for a spin at some point when, forecast or no forecast, it is clearly not actually raining.

Though possibly I should wait until I'm feeling a bit better...
misslynx: (Can't brain)
OK, not to keep harping endless on the new bike, but since it's been raining for most of the day, the only thing I can really do with it right now is attach the various accessories I got for it. Thus far, bell and lights have been successfully attached, though in the case of the rear light it was a little tricky as they tell you not to remove the original reflectors, and with the reflector on there there was not much room for the light, but I managed to squeeze it in.

However, I have been defeated by the hardware for the U-bar lock, or more specifically the bracket thingie with which one is supposed to attach it to the bike. Also the complete lack of instructions it came with. I was initially pleased to see a little folded up piece of paper wedged inside the bracket, but when I unfolded it, it was just the warranty, plus instructions on how to lock your bike -- uh, I think I knew that part, thanks.

Here is what it came with:
  • The main bracket thingie. I think I can tell which side is supposed to go on the bike and which on the lock, because one of them has little rubber things inside it to adjust for different frame sizes and the other does not.
  • Two nut-and-bolt combos. I think these are supposed to go on what I think is probably the lock side of the bracket, as it has two holes in it. Of course, it may be that that is actually the bike side and I was supposed to put the little rubber things in there, even though they were initially in the other one.
  • Two little washers. Since there are two, I am guessing they probably go somewhere in with the nuts and bolts, but I don't know exactly where. On the nut side? The bolt side? In the middle?
  • A little square piece of metal with a round hole in it.
  • A strange contraption I can't make head nor tail of, which has a sort of nut and bolt arrangement with a pin through the head of the bolt attaching it to a sort of rectangular thing that wraps around it and has a round bit on the end. I assume this goes with what is probably the bike side, i.e. the side that has not got two holes in it. That side has one hole, and then below the hole it sort of flares out a bit for no apparent reason that I can tell.
Does that description make any sense to anyone?

BTW, googling "attaching bracket for U-bar bike lock" turns up one set of detailed instructions for a completely different sort of bracket with no parts in common with this one, and a bunch of irrelevant stuff having to do with car racks, motorcycles and wheelchairs. Googling "attaching bracket for SuperCycle U-bar bike lock" in hopes of getting more specific results turns up... absolutely nothing.

I also have a rear carrier to attach, but given that it comes with even more hardware (specifically, two short bolts, one medium one, one long one, a whole bunch of nuts and washers, two flexible clear plastic bits, and three unidentifiable metal things of various random shapes and numbers of holes), and likewise no instructions, I'm thinking I may need to enlist an expert on that one. Anyone feel like an expert?

Oh, one more question: apparently one is supposed to register one's bike with the police in order to enhance the near-zero chances of recovering it if it's stolen to something a little less near zero. This entails finding a serial number on it somewhere. The web page for this helpfully says that it should be "somewhere on the frame". Anyone have any more specific info than that on where I might find this number?

Really wondering why bikes don't come with instruction manuals...

Also, note to Claribell: STOP HELPING!

Imagined rejoinder from Claribell: "Oh, don't be silly. It's not like you're managing well on your own, and I keep trying to show you that the correct place for all those little bits of hardware is all over the floor under various pieces furniture, or possibly in my mouth, but you're just not paying attention. No wonder you humans get so frustrated with this stuff. You're just not smart enough to throw it all on the floor and bat it around randomly like we cats are, are you?"

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