Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green Beer for Everyone!

The day is almost done so I better hurry up and post this. It's Saint Pat's day afterall. Last night I left the office rather late as we were working to release some new software (it's what we do, really.) As I got out at the Burrard Street station I happened to notice this sculpture of a painted eagle that I had never taken notice of before then.

The city is filled with these little 'green pockets' for people to relax in, especially downtown. It makes for a much nicer environment, in my mind.

I went for another spin around Stanley Park again this morning (speaking of green pockets) and happened to leave earlier than previous times. It was very dark - at some points I found myself wishing for some lights to see where to go, or at least when to steer to avoid the potholes. Also, my legs felt like lead today, with all the strength gone from them. I guess things are slowly starting to take their toll. My plan for tonight is to have some green beer and get to bed earlier than most nights to see if that helps.

One thing that has seemed to be helping is the energy bars that Holly has been making for me. Not only do they taste great, they have been a reliable source of energy while riding. Just like the store bought stuff without the packaging, preservatives and sugars. Thanks hon!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A toast to those who will be moving on

I have been riding for a week or two now and still find myself thinking of something else I need to get for this activity, be it cycling shorts, safety lights or in today's case, a battery for my cycling computer. You just don't appreciate these things until they are gone.

Well that was the case for me today - when I went downstairs to grab my bike from the locker, I noticed that the display wasn't on. This was unusual so I tinkered with it for a minute or two until I confirmed that it was in fact dead, Jim. The problem there is that I have grown accustomed to knowing how fast I am going (do I need to speed up?) and how far I have gone (can I go home now without feeling guilty?) Riding without this information available is somehow different. Sure I know that if I circle Stanley Park enough times I will get in the required amount of distance and I can time myself to see how long it takes but that requires math skills, time and mental effort. At least two of those things are usually in short supply after I am done riding.

Saturday's ride was also a little more difficult because Friday marked the last day for the team members who got laid off from the office. We are a team that works closely together, so it wasn't easy saying goodbye to them. In honour of Greg's blog, I caught him in the act as he photographed his breakfast. He stopped by the Swiss Bakery almost every day and always got the same thing - they were so used to him that they would have it packaged and ready when he arrived.

This might still leave you wondering why my ride would be more difficult the next day. Well in typical company fashion, we ended work on Friday a little early so that we could have some drinks with everyone. I'm proud to say that I didn't go overboard but even so I am finding that all this exercise has really sapped my tolerance for the occasional beer. At least I wasn't hung over the next morning.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Weekend Ride

I ended my first week of training by doubling the distance this morning. Sounds impressive, doesn't it? Might not seem so great once you realize that my normal routine this past week was riding a mere 13 km before going into work. Today's ride, at 27 km start to finish, is roughly the distance to the first DRINK STATION. There will be about four of those along the ride for each day.

One thing I noticed after this ride was that I felt I could easily have continued. I have been riding at a comfortable pace, averaging just under 20 kph. As time goes on, I hope to push that up to at least 25 kph for an average. Any slower and it will just take too long to complete this ride. This is a lesson I learned when I was biking years ago: slower may seem easier, but it takes a toll in how much longer it requires to get where you are going. If this is an endurance ride, the best strategy is to complete it as quickly as you can without pushing yourself beyond what you are comfortable doing. Emphasis on 'quickly'.

I have been peppering shots of Vancouver in this post - they are all taken while out riding. I admit it, the photo taking is a great little way to take a mini-break when needed and I do use it as such at times. But I also fully intend to take lots of photos during this ride to Seattle. So I figure it's in line with how I will be riding anyhow.

Oh yeah, there was a wind warning today. I was pretty lucky in that the weather was at least sunny and warmer in the morning as compared to later in the afternoon (when we actually saw flurries for a brief minute). But even then, the wind was pretty strong. It all balanced out though - it was hard against me at times, while at other periods it pushed me up to 47 kph. Not bad for a mountain bike.

This last picture was taken a block from our place as I was ending my ride. This is the first blooming of Vancouver's cherry trees that I have noticed and has always been my informal signal that spring is here.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A visit to the library

It had been a while since my wife and I had been to the library and for good reason: we both owed a fair bit in late fees. So this weekend we went to make amends and settle our debts - only my debt was higher than the amount of cash I had on me so instead I just put down $20, bringing my total to under $10. You can't use the card if you owe more than that. (I did not know that until the librarian told me.)

I really like going to the main branch in Vancouver. It's such a nice building and there is always something going on. On this visit there were a bunch of engineers from the University of British Columbia and they were showing off the fun things they get to do in the name of research. There were all sorts of prototypes, each of which basically spoke to me saying: 'you missed your calling.'

Which is not entirely true. I do love cool boats, cars, planes - basically all of the forms of transportation. But I don't think I 'missed' anything by choosing the path I have. I have a lot going on right now and if I had chosen a different path, who's to say what I would be missing out on that I have right here? But it does shed light on the possibility of what direction my next career might take. One day I likely will return to university and if I do, it will be to learn something in a completely different.

All I know for sure is that I won't be testing software my entire life. Not when I find myself so taken with these other possibilities. But if I start building something, having a background in testing will probably be helpful.