Should Cyclists Wear Jerseys to Spin Class, and other Polls

I have decided to try conducting a poll. I am hoping to get as many responses as possible for my first fun forray (how’s THAT for alliteration) into the sampling, collection, and sharing of largely unnecessary information. Why? Partly because it’s fun, but also because these are burning questions for me. I’m genuinely interested in the responses, and one way or another, I will be acting on the results of these questions.

If everyone who reads this responds, then that will mean two things:

  1. I will get at least five responses (***numbers based on current readership), which I consider ABSOLUTELY enough to be representative of the population as a whole; and,
  2. You will make my day and I will likely giggle with glee. Like a school child.

January Update

I started this blog to 1) share some stories, 2) improve my writing, and 3) help keep myself accountable when it comes to staying in shape and not putting on any more weight than absolutely necessary to survive the juggernauts that are Christmas and winter. As to my progress in these departments, this will be my tenth post (I don’t count Your Story Ideas are Welcome – that would be cheating), and at the relentless nagging of the WordPress editor, I’m finally starting to learn what “passive voice” means in writing, but looking at my weight and mileage tracker widgets on my home page, well…..let’s just agree that two out of three ain’t bad!

Like a lot of people, I fell off the exercise and healthy-eating wagon sometime just before Christmas. But I tend not to just fall off the wagon in these situations. Oh no. With me, it’s more like the wagon gets hit by a willpower-seeking missile and is subsequently consumed in a massive furious ball of flames while I run in the opposite direction; me laughing deliriously with the inside knowledge that this wagon disaster will license my guilt free eating of monkey bread on Christmas morn.

And now its the end of January, and that willpower wagon remains a dark, blackened, smoldering pile of soot.

I did ride my bike on the trainer a few times (a few means twice, right?) and made it to a handful of spin classes (a handful means four, that one I know), but that certainly doesn’t make up for my extended binge of Christmas debauchery, henceforth to be known as January. But I have had a good time, it is still early in the year, and I have plenty of time to sort these things out. Provided, that is, that I start right………now!

Thankfully I can at least report that I got out for my first outside road ride of the year last Sunday. For a January day in Calgary, it was quite nice, with an average temperature around 8-degrees C.

My sister and I agreed on New Years that we were each going to get out for rides in every month of 2012. It’s not that riding outside each month of the year will  earn either of us any bragging rights or entitlements – there are PLENTY of people who ride their bikes outside every day of the year in Calgary – but it is far from the norm for us fair-weather road riders. I had missed several prime opportunities (including the much sought-after January 1 ride) and left it to the last possible moment, so I was very pleased to have a warm opportunity to get out on the last day of the month.

My legs were tired, having ridden my indoor trainer for an hour the night before, but I was keen to get back at it outside, and I decided that I was going to target 75 km. I planned to drive to my work in SE Calgary, leave my truck there, ride to Chestermere and back along the canal, and then ride home. This would also set me up nicely to ride the 30 km to work the next morning with my truck already there, should I need it for work.

I ventured out and was soon greeted with these uniquely wintery scenes:

What I saw on my January ride – perhaps a better mode of transportation for this time of year?

and then I rounded the corner from Optimism Road to Dose of Reality Avenue:

I’ve barely begun my ride and I’m faced with this slippery energy-sapping mess of snow and ice, making me look down at my skinny slick road tires and audibly whimper

I decided to give it a go and although it was intensely bumpy – like a sort of cattleguard treadmill – it wasn’t too loose or slippery, and after a kilometre or so the snow petered out. I had the path completely to myself, it was a beautiful day, and for at least this one day in January, I was not stuck spinning my wheels and going nowhere in my basement.

Giddy as I was, I became trigger happy with my camera. Here are just some of the many pictures highlighting what I saw on my January ride….

….an excavator with a magnetic attachment loading scrap metal into a train. In the middle of nowhere, nobody around, and I couldn’t see the operator . Total Maximum Overdrive.

….a bunch of guys racing their motorbikes on a frozen pond

….a loud and unruly passenger clinging between my tire and frame. When I think of tumbleweeds I tend to think more of an arid desert in the summer time.

….wide open expanses of solitude

…this tall drink of water didn’t even have a coat on!

….and I left my ice axe and crampons at home!

….the scene of a terribly heinous crime committed against a poor helpless bike.

….and my lesson for the day. It is very hard to get a good ring out of that teeny tiny bell dinger with these big old gloves on.

I made it to Chestermere but the wind really sapped my spirits on the way back, so instead of biking the extra leg home, I packed everything back into my work truck and called it a day.

I may not have ridden 75 km, and I didn’t show up to work the next day on two wheels, but I had most certainly completed my January ride.

How (I think) This is Going to Work

Full Disclosure. Hi. I am a brand spanking shiny new blogger. I have no experience at this end of blogging – on the keyboard that is – and have really only dabbled as a reader too. I suspect that the focus of most blogs is on current goings ons, but my ambitions centre as much on sharing my bike related stories of the past as the new stuff, so I intend to include both. After all, it was upon reflecting on just how many of my favorite stories from the past thirty-six years include bikes, that I decided to do this in the first place.

Shaking Hands. This will most certainly be an evolving entity, but I thought I would start with an introduction and at least a loose framework. I am not going to take this thing public until I have at least some basic content on here so you can read a few posts and pages and decide very early on if this might be of interest to you. If it won’t be, I am absolutely okay with that. I am writing it as much for me as for anyone, so if my readership quickly becomes limited to me, I’ll still think that’s okay. That said, I do sincerely hope that someone will read it, and that at some point I will be able to bring at least a hint of a smile to at least one corner of their mouth. In the worst case, maybe I’ll help someone kill some time during the odd Friday afternoon, with an activity that is at least slightly more palatable than the job they are being paid to supposedly do. I plan to have three posts (not including this one) and a functional site by Christmas time, at which time I will pull the plug, and let these words slowly drain out into the public space. I will wait until the New Year to actually inform those around me, however, as I’d like to have a fighting chance they will read it at least once, and Christmas is not a good time for that. So, if you are reading this, then I am off to a good start. Feel free to poke around and I hope you like what you find.

Frequency. I am more excited about doing this than I get about most things. I am, as they say, all abuzz. As a matter of fact, I am entering my third hour of fiddling with this, despite having a ton of other stuff I should be doing. But I have the bug, and for now, I just can’t stop. I imagine at this point it would be very easy for me to spew forward in ten different directions, get overcooked, distracted, and then fizzle out in quiet shame. I intend for this to be fun for me, though, and I want to give it a good shot, so instead I will try to take it slow. I am thinking a couple blogs a month or so. Maybe a weekly vignette. Short, simple, and hopefully easy and fun to read. Accompanied by a photo or ten when possible.

Past Stories. I am quickly falling in love with this WordPress blogging platform. It is free, intuitive, and fun. One of the many features that caught my interest is the ability to back date posts, because a lot of mine will be old stories only published for the first time now. But I don’t want my new-old stories to get lost in the archives, so I have opted to just give some clear indication in each blog about when it really happened, and label it with the “new-old” category. This will keep my newest content up front and accessible.

Format. More static information that is not really a story, such as my biking bucket list, will be found in “pages”. Stories, musings, vignettes, and updates will be found in “posts”. The items along the right side are “widgets”. Among them I have decided to post my biking stats and my weight, which I will update manually when I see fit, and which brings me to the next point.

Motivation. As I hope I have made clear, I am doing this for fun, and I will only continue to do so as long as it remains fun. I hope it will also entertain you in some fashion. But I also mean to use it as an extra motivational tool to seek good story-begetting biking adventure, and to get, and stay, in good biking shape. Weight is an important consideration in cycling, for even a recreational weekend warrior like me. I have come to love climbing hills and I have noticed that each pound I drop adds incredibly to the ease and enjoyment with which I can cycle. So hopefully publishing my weight and stats will help keep me on the straight and narrow and progressing towards my goals. Not to worry though, I am fairly comfortable in my own skin (or spandex, as it were) and if I didn’t lose any weight I would still bike and I would still be happy. I promise.

Style. I use a lot of punctuation. I throw hyphens, commas, parentheses, brackets and the like around with great and reckless abandon. Like most aspects of my life I prefer comfy to formal, and I feel the use of these handy little tools allows me to write in a more relaxed and conversational style. I am trying to share a story, not author a scientific paper. I also tend towards some run-on sentences, which I will try to keep in check. I will endeavour to keep my posts to less than 1200 words so as to not lose focus and wander too far off into the forest. Clear, concise, and correct; just like my technical writing instructor at college fantasized about. And finally, you will see that I often start my sentences with words that I suspect I shouldn’t, or at least at times that I shouldn’t. Maybe it is right, maybe it is not, but it is most certainly going to happen.

My Polite Appeal. I believe that blogging is not only entertainment, but a very legitimate form of communication and writing. And I hope to get better at it. I am absolutely open to constructive criticism and any sort of well-intentioned feedback on my writing skills or content. I will welcome it with grace, consider it, and thank you for taking the time to help me improve. But I am doing this for fun so no unnecessary bashing please. I bruise easily.