Shut up legs

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This summer I went a bit bike crazy. As I mentioned earlier in the season, Isabel and I picked up vintage Raleigh cruisers to commute and get around the city. We quickly learned that with a bike, Toronto is so much smaller, and ripe for exploring. I was hooked, but soon had to come to terms with the limit on speed and distance  a 40 year-old cruiser could manage.

So I bought a road bike.

From there, it’s been a steady progression towards further, faster, and longer. It meant waking up early most days to go for a ride – even when the weather dictates you should stay in bed. It meant obsessively tracking my goals and achievements on Strava. It meant renting and borrowing bikes while on vacation just to get the fix. It meant falling off and fracturing my elbow. And it meant getting back on two weeks before my doctor said it was wise to do so.

In the short time that I’ve been riding, I have noticed a big difference. My average speeds on the bike has increased. And my weight off the bike has decreased (not by design, but appreciated nonetheless). Because I came to it so late in the season, I have become obsessed with making the most of the few mild days we have left. Which has meant lots of layers and frozen toes. But along the way, I have loved (mostly) every minute of it.

As I write, I’m coming up on 2,000km traveled, in about 10 weeks of riding. Which I’m pretty happy about. But I’ll be happier if the season can extend just a few more weeks, before I have to start looking at indoor training, as to not undo all the good work done so far.

Keep Austin Weird

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I enjoy traveling more than most, but that’s not to say I fall in love with every city I visit. I’ll gladly tell you why I’m over London, and will happily state that the appeal of Vancouver is mostly lost on me. So I’m not an easy mark.

With that said, Austin was everything everyone says it is.

Having never been to Texas before, Austin was probably not the most typical introduction to the state, but what we were greeted with was a vibrant and interesting, young and unique city. The food and bar scene was great. The people were friendly. And our four days there left me already itching to go back. Maybe some future posts will go into more detail on why that’s the case, but I’ll leave that for “Future David” to bore you with.

Tweed Ride 2014

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In what’s proving to be a bit of an Indian Summer, this weekend saw the 2014 version of the Tweed Ride – a fashionable fundraiser / bike ride through Toronto. Participants are encouraged to sport traditional British cycling attire (think tweed jackets and knee socks as far as the eye can see) and ride handsome vintage bikes. Since Isabel and I both got vintage Raleighs this summer – and I happened to be sporting quite a distinguished mustache – we decided to take part.

The ride itself was relaxed. A lot of ringing bells, waving crowds and “pip pip cheerios!” Wrapping up in Trinity Bellwoods Park, all participants were treated to a delightful tea party. Prizes were awarded for a variety of categories, including “Most Awe-inspiring Mustache” which I just happened to win.

Blue Star Donuts

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When telling people that you’re headed to Portland, the word “donuts” is generally said within a few sentences of their response. Or at least when you talk to the kind of people I do.

“Skip Voodoo Doughnut. It’s for tourists. The real winner is Blue Star.”

Be it through word of mouth or word of mouse, the general consensus is nothing but praise for Blue Star Donuts – the trendy shop (of course it’s trendy, it’s in PDX)  slinging inventive and delicious donuts. So naturally, it was Isabel and I’s first stop when we rolled into the city. And it did not disappoint.

I typically favour a cake-type donut (with a sour cream old fashioned being my absolute favourite) but Blue Star’s brioche-based dough gave even the best donuts I’ve ever had a run for their money. Between the two of us we sampled three delicious varieties, but the undisputed champion was the lemon poppyseed. Paired with Portland’s finest brew and what you’re left with is a breakfast fit for a big ol’ fat king.

Hiking Mount Si

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Ever since last year’s remarkable trek to Machu Picchu, Isabel and I have tried to fit hiking into our vacation plans whenever possible. With that in mind, our trip to Washington State provided the perfect opportunity to stretch our climbing legs, and treat ourselves to some fresh, Pacific Northwestern air.

Mount Si – a 40 minute drive from downtown Seattle was the perfect daytrip. Located about 35 miles southeast of the city, Mount Si lies on the western edge of the Cascade Range, with its highest point reaching 4,167 feet. Getting to Si was not a problem, but finding the trailhead (and a place to park once we arrived) proved a bit trickier. But the extent of our confusion was not made apparent until we reached what we thought was the peak – where we learned we’d been actually climbing Little Si, the smaller, cuter neighbour of Mount Si. We had a good laugh at this fact, and took a group shot at the top, with the actual peak of Mount Si looming in the background.

Still a nice day out, though.

Let’s go for a ride

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It seems like the warm weather has finally arrived. And after what was as a particularly bitter winter in Toronto, this is very good news. This prompted Isabel and I to go a bit bike crazy this week. Which is a problem when you don’t actually own a bike to ride.

So after doing a fair share of research and checking Kijiji and Craigslist compulsively, Isabel and I jumped into bike ownership, buying a pair of Raleigh cruisers from a seller in Scarborough. Mine is a chocolate-brown Raleigh Sprite 27 5-speed, made “sometime in the 70s” (according to the seller) in England.

A quick test drive revealed a shockingly smooth ride and, much lighter than I imagined a bike of this vintage. I’m not going to break any land speed records on it, but it will be fun to go for rides on this summer.