Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Incredibly Realistic Strategy for Biking 285km in One Day

I mentioned in a previous post that I signed up for the Biking for Breakfast Challenge, a one-day bike ride across all of this glorious province with all its rolling hills, potholes, and roadkill. I signed up for this with the intention of perhaps doing a relay with a couple of other people or just doing 150-200km. Although, once you already do 200km, what's another 85km? Now I feel pressure to do the whole thing. Pressure from no one in particular, perhaps just the altitude from being waaaay up on the third floor at work.

How to Bike Really Far in One Day
- Weather: Pray to the weather Gods and Goddesses everyday until the event occurs. Such prayers include humidity levels, precipitation amounts, UV index, and, most critically wind direction and speed. In this case, I *think* but have not decided for certain, that winds from the southwest are best. That way the headwinds are done with early in the day.

- Conveyor belt: I will spend the next 1.5 months constructing a conveyor belt in key locations. The belt with go from Borden to Clyde River area. Since round-abouts seem to be "in" this season, in Crapaud I will design a complicated round-about and sell doughnuts to commemorate the event.

- Attachable child's wagon: I will arrange for a fellow rider to attach one of the kiddie-pull wagons to his/her bike. When I tire or wish to take a nap, I will go in the wagon and let the other cyclist pull me along.

- Motor: Some kids passed me on his bike the other day because it had a loud motor that sounded like a motorcycle. I will borrow his bike. for the interior 220km. The first 35km I will do on my own bike, along with the last 30km. No one will ever suspect.

- Hydration: I will link my bike up with a complicated hydration system. It will be linked through a CamelBack/Pack/whatever they are called and offer a variety of drinks. Critical will be: cherry slushy, Coke Light (not Diet Coke - entirely different), a lighter beer - preferably Brahma, water (I guess...), and jagerbombs. It will be heavy to lug this around on my back all day, but it will be worth it.

- Entertainment/Safety: Ideally, children will follow me the whole way blowing bubbles at me and singing songs of encouragement. Two of the children would be riding llamas. One will be crying from having recently been stung by a bee. This child works to attract the bees to herself, instead of me.

- Clothing: I will cleverly arrange in advance for someone to have dry clothing for me at the halfway point. Depending on the temperature, I tend to get a little cold when I take breaks but am in sweaty clothes. Possible solution is to bike in bathing suit, but then threats of chaffing loom.

- Time machine: This may not work as well as I originally thought, as based on the time travel concepts displayed in Back to the Future, you will move through time, but remain in the same locations. X and Y coordinates of displacement = 0. Only 4th dimension coordinates change. In this scenario...

- Displacement machine/Matter transporter: This would take care of the actual changing of location. I would use it to cheat the whole way... just a few select hills or roads with a crappy shoulder would be skipped.

- Protective bubble: this protective bubble would be weightless, extremely aerodynamic, waterproof, windproof, AND a beautiful colour. It would also protect from road debris and the threat of being wiped off the road by a wavering car.

These, and more finely crafted plans, should ensure I don't die.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh, that juice is actually wine.

Bonsoir mes amis.

A friend requested a blog update. Here we go my Darlin' Charlin'!

How to tell if your good friend, Jen Maki, has indulged in an adult beverage or two.

- French flows from the mouth like water from the tap.

- "Let's go on an adventure!" - or, in warmer months - "We should go swimming!"

- Why take a cab when you can walk? "Jen, it's snowing with 50 km/hr winds."

- "Wouldn't pizza rock the body that rocks the party?!"

- One eye appears smaller than the other in photos.

- I will tell you within ten minutes of meeting you that, yes, I used to work at Disney World and it was amazing.

- You'll get to hear all about how much I love my new bike and how it's like attaching wings to your feet.

- "We should go somewhere fun! Not Baba's. I don't want to stare at bands and sway."

- Devilish gleam in the eye.

Four more works til the weekend!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Heeeey, Varanasi! *wink*

Ahh, India. I have a deep connection with you; I did a presentation on India in grade 5. We discussed very basic things, ("This is what the flag looks like and the country is very big, but not nearly as big as Canada, but very hot.") but I think you have developed a crush on me! Since the beginning of May this blog has received almost 500 hits from Varanasi, a city sort of north-eastish. Most of he visitors from that city get to this blog by using the link at the upper left "Next blog". Since there is no "Previous Blog" option, I don't know exactly what site they are coming from, but I would like to see it. It know gives me a huge percentage of my traffic. Such a change from the days when Googling random French phrases brought you here. On the plus side, last week I spent some time learning about this previously unknown city in India. Though I must wonder why the sudden traffic... Internet service improved? Google Analytics didn't previously recognize the location? I'm a demi-Goddess?

I signed up for the Biking for Breakfast Challenge. I don't know why. I blame "The Biggest Loser" in which a bunch of overweight people exercise excessively and then vomit. I want to see if biking 285 km in one day will make me vomit, go crazy, and then stumble a la Will Ferrel in Old School after being hit by a tranquilizer dart. I'll ponder this some more as I drift into sleep.

Also, currently reading Text from last in preparation for Friday's wine festival. If the wine gets tricky and makes my brain a little woozy, at least I'll never be as bad as those (highly entertaining) whack jobs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Good morning, World!!

Dear PEI motorists:

Sorry I flashed you the other day, but I was in a pickle. I know you expected your drive to work to be free of nudity and all things evil, but I have yet to put curtains over my window, despite my window looking over one of the busiest roads in our wee city. But that's okay, I'll assume you're modest and looked away.

You see, I was about to be attacked. I was laying in bed enjoying the last moments of rest before the workday when I noticed a large wasp buzzing close to my window. I felt confident in my safety knowing the screen would keep Wee Waspy out. However, the smile on my face faded when I realised the screen had unattached from the window frame close to wear the wasp was hovering. I didn't have much time to react, but I had to do so quickly as the wasp appeared to be slowly discovering the entry into this new world.

If you know me well you will recall that I'm terrified of bees, wasps, and general stinging things. We shall put the blame on the writers of My Girl. Though, to be fair, the movie was released when I was 8, so obviously something else triggered this deep fear pre-1991. Regardless, if Macaulay Culkin/"Thomas" can't survive a few bee stings, what chance do I have?

I hopped from my bed and quickly made great efforts to fix the screen to keep out the murderer. Standing on my bed, in front of my large window. It occurred to me that perhaps I was giving the sleepy motorists a bit of a show, but my safety was worth it. And I was lucky not to reveal all. Those with foot fetishes would had been disappointed. I was well blocked from the knees down.

In a way, not having my curtains up (they are still in their plastic wrapping from when I bought them ages ago) saved my life. Had the curtains been shielding me from the sun I wouldn't had noticed the Wee Wasp trying to plow into my room. He would have come in, buzzed around a bunch, and then killed me.

In closing, I hope I have not offended you.

Many thanks,
Jen Mac

Conversation from earlier that week about jellyfish stings -
Roommate One from Ontario: I mean, you must have been stung by a jellyfish, right? Does it hurt? Like a bee sting?
Jen: I dunno. I've never been stung by anything.
Roommate One: What? That's impossible? Roommate Two, you've been stung by a bee, right? How have you never been stung by a bee?
Roommate Two: No, actually.
Jen: I'm observant and good at running away from stinging things.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Please let me give you my money!

Today I bought a new bike from MacQueens. I have yet to take a photo of the bike, seeing as it has been in my possession for about five hours. However, I am eager to share with you what my bike looks like. I could show you the stock photo from Specialized's website, but that's too easy. Instead, I present to you my artist's rendition of what my bike would look like under water.

You will note that there is a mermaid riding the bike. Trying actually. She's actually on an invisible trainer because she has no legs to straddle the bike with and no feet to pedal with. Poor Ariel. She is also holding two candy canes, because it's Christmas (symbolic: today was like Christmas for me!), and she's distributing the candy canes to the fish.


Alors, now I'm a thrilled owner of a Specialized Dolce Elite. I decided the price tag was justified as it was about the same price (before tax) of a scholarship I received in first year university. I won't tell you how much the scholarship was, we will say it was somewhere between $100 - $4000.

My new Lady Friend and I went for a ride this evening, and it was darling fun. Kind of have to get used to the vibrations on the hands though. The first time I rode a road bike in Feb 2009 I wasn't wearing gloves and could hardly stand to touch the lovely thing the next morning my hands were so wonky.

There are two bike shops in my city. The one where I bought my new bike (also where I bought my hybrid a couple of years ago), and the other one. Many people love the other one, but every time I go in there looking to buy something they are just ridiculously unhelpful. It's like I have to pull information from their brains, beg them to tell me more and try to actually sell me the bike. I don't know if they assume I won't buy something because 1) they don't recognize me, 2) I'm a girl, 3) I sound a bit confused, or 4) because I'm not wearing lycra and fancy shoes. I went to both bike shops for both bike purchases. I can't even be bothered going to shop no. 2 anymore. It's also the super simple things that matter, such as at preferred bike shop they hold the door open for customers when they are taking their bikes in and out. Shop no. 2 doesn't, and then I somehow foolishly managed to cut my leg on their door last Friday.

Housemate no. 3 said I should write about our shared crappy customer service experience at Captain Sub from last Sunday. I said I would! I'm pretty sure the girl working there hated us for buying subs. HATED US. Jared asked for sub sauce, some sort of weird Upper Canada thing. The chick basically starred at him and said no. But she didn't bother asking, "What type of sauce is it?" and looking for something similar. Then he asked for his big sub to be cut in three pieces instead of two, and I'm convinced she had flashes of cutting Jared into three pieces (instead of the two she was originally planning!) It was hard to tell whether she hated us (pfft, fooish, everyone LOVES US), hated her job, or just hated everything in the entire world and has a massive chip on her shoulder. I would go with the last option.

On a much more positive note, the people who work at my preferred bike shop are awesome. They note if the bike I'm about to test ride will fit, or if the seat was too high. Kid at the other shop didn't clue in at all.

Maybe he just does too many drugs?

Ahh, bicycle. You and I will be having a very enjoyable summer together. I'm sorry I didn't like your colour scheme at first, but I don't consider black or white to be real colours. I wanted you to be teal and red - like Superman. But now I see your thin strip of purple and approve, and think I should put star stickers on the fork, and maybe some ribbon on the handle bars to give some more splashes of colour. I also find your sexy factor to rise to alarming levels once I actually sit on you. I am also sorry that I had so many thoughts, wondering if you were worth the extra $400 over the lower model. Obviously you were, because I, umm, couldn't reach the brakes very well on the other one.

Yes, mon amie, we will have a good summer together. Now we just need to work some voodoo magic to keep the rain drops to seasonal levels.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Go Maki, Go!

This past Saturday I was one half of a two-person team for the Red Island Relay. Overall, it was tonnes of fun and I'm so glad that I got to go in last minute. The Relay is in five parts: 1) run 7.5 km, 2) road bike 27 km, 3) run 10 km, 4) trail bike 19 km, and 5) two-person canoe or kayak for 6km. I did legs 2, 4, and 5. After a panicked Thursday night, I arranged to borrow a road bike for the road portion (THANK GOD) and would use my usual happy-commuter hybrid on the trail. They said "mountain bike portion", but there is absolutely no need for a mountain bike when the trail is dry - which is was. It was actually probably some of the best portion of the Confederation Trail that I have biked on recently.

Here is how my road bike started:

Excellent. Remember to wear helmet and sport huge, unsporty sunglasses. The ride went very well, and there was a nice tailwind going down a huge hill. The wind also did not seem as bad as originally forecasted to be.

However, this is how my ride ended:

Nice one, Jen Mac. At about kilometre 22 (I'm not completely sure, but I was pretty close to the end) I suffered from a race-ending flat in my back tire. So I walked back down the giant hill I was conquering to some people directing cyclists. We shuffled awkwardly.

"Umm, I have a flat and no spare tube or pump. I usually would bring a tube and pump... but just not today, I guess."
"Huh. Well, that's too bad."
"It is. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do now."
"I suppose I could give you and your bike a lift in my truck? Where do you want to go?"
"I guess to the finish line/transition area."
"Okay - off we go!"

We load the bike into the truck and drive off, passing a few cyclists going up the big hill. I wave. Then I note a car ahead of me that looks familiar. My parents' car - they were going to snap some pictures and say hello. They pulled over to let us pass, thinking we were part of some race convoy. We pull up next to them and I knock on the window, smile, and wave.

Mother waves back, also with a big smile, thinking, "That is my daughter, it is nice to see her smiling in that truck with the stranger man!"

Papa looks at me, looks absolutely disgusted, likely thinking, "HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO SCREW UP ALL THE TIME?" or perhaps, "Of course, she crashed, and now she is excited because she hurt her ankle and is secretly thrilled that she'll get to use crutches and have something to laugh about."

The Kind Stranger drove me back close to the transition area and I wheeled/walked across the timer mat. We took a weird route back, I actually probably have a recorded time pretty similar to what my actual time would be.

I stand in the transition area awkwardly, basically saying over and over and over again and again, "I have a flat tire!!!" and was unable to find my team mate. A delightfully eager volunteer sprints over, concerned that I can find my team mate. She asks who he is, and I reply, "He's tall with curly hair and we call him Mike!" and she takes off. Mike comes running over a few moments later, surprised to see me so soon. And off he goes!

I take the hour to do healthy athlete type things: eat chocolate, put on my fleece to keep warm, use the washroom, guzzle some gatorade (red, please), fiddle with my front wheel, and pat a dog I see on the way to the toilet.

Mike comes back from a triumphant run, and I take off for Leg 4. The trail ride went very well, and I think took me about 48 mins. High five for fantastic trail conditions! I even passed a few people, which made me feel smug, particularly as one was decked in hardcore geeky bike gear. Mind you this person was probably doing the whole thing on his own... but anyway.

Coming back down into the transition area was awesome, and you have pedalled hard you could easily hit 45km/hr, even on a hybrid. My nose was getting curiously runny, and it turned out I had what I like to call a "fake" nose bleed. It dripped, like, five drops on my arm, then I rubbed my nose a few times, and it appeared to end.

I sprinted off to the boat area, while Devin captured a wonderful photo of me basically yelping, "I think I have a nose bleed!" to which he responded by looking at me bizarrely. Likely because what I yelped probably sounded like, "I klhejlon mweeeee!"

I hopped into the canoe with Mike and off we went! I would like to say we raced off and won the whole thing, but the wee cyclist of the team had one large drawback: she had never paddled a canoe. She got the hang of it, but didn't want to push too hard for the first bit in fear of burning out for the last bit.

Cyclist = me

Also, something about being in a canoe makes me think "relax!" A kayak I tend to think GO GO GOOOOOOO! So I realised towards the end that I wasn't really trying that hard. I think Mike fell into the same groove a wee bit. Had we both tried harder (particularly the cyclist) I'm sure we could have shaved ten minutes off our time. Alas, perhaps next year. Overall time was 4 hours, twenty-four minutes.