Thursday 31 January 2019

The Yellowhead Loppet, Part 2

 Continued from yesterday:
 It was a sparkling clear and sunny winter's day. I was dazzled by the strikingly brilliant rainbow of colored clothing worn by the skiers as they practiced their stride in the field out in front of the Ranch of the Viking Lodge. Then I was struck by a thought: these skiers are all wearing skin-tight Spandex racing clothes, and there are a lot more skiers here than Fern had led me to believe. A mild tremor, (3.0 on the Richter Scale) rumbled through my self confidence. 
       That was followed by a Richter Scale 4.3 after-shock, when I took notice of all the skiers in the parking lot with torches and little irons, applying different colors of wax to different sections of the base of their skis. I found this quite interesting, since I had never seen ski wax before. I thought it curious that a person would spend so much effort putting wax on the bottom of a ski, when they could easily buy a pair of  "no wax" skis, and just be able to "Snap them on and go.” 
        I found Fern, who once again said, "Good for you, Dave", and added that they would be starting racers "one at a time, with a 10 second interval in between each racer”. She had already registered me in the Adult Male Category, and all I had to do was check in.
         An announcer called out that all racers should get into line according to their category. The Adult Males were to be started after the Teenage Males and they were to be followed by the Jack Rabbits, which was a club of little kids that were just learning to ski. I took my place in the line and was surprised to discover that there were at least 10 other Adult Males, all of which were wearing colorful aerodynamic body suits. My confidence continued to implode.
        The moment of truth was rapidly approaching as the Adult Males slowly inched nearer to Al, the local pharmacist, whose job it was to start each racer. I thought that maybe I should come up with some kind of race strategy, and this is the strategy that I came up with: I would ski as fast as I could around the field in front of the Ranch of the Vikings Lodge, and then once the trail entered the bush, out of sight of the spectators, I could slow down to my normal ski pace and enjoy the race.
        Before I had a chance to critique my strategy, Al yelled, "GO!", brought down his hand, and I shuffled off down the track, as fast as I could, along the edge of the field. I hadn't gone more than 75 metres when I heard a voice behind me yell, "Track", I wondered what he meant, then he shouted louder, "TRACK". I got the distinct feeling that he was upset with my speed and wanted to go pass me, but he didn't seem to want to get out of the set track himself to go around me, so I stepped off the track to let him by.
        "Get off the track when some yells,'Track'," he told me as he whisked by me. I am a quick learner, and by the time the remaining Adult Males had passed me, I was reacting to the "Track" signal, like a veteran skier. I was beginning, however, to suspect a flaw in my race strategy. I was only halfway across the field, and my body was already sending me signals of an eminent collapse.
         My heart was pounding, my legs were screaming, and my throat felt raw from the rapid breathing. I couldn't maintain this “sprint-like” pace too much longer. It was better that I gear down a bit and endure some ridicule rather than to expire in the middle of the field, so I slowed my shuffle, and after what seemed like a week and a half, I finally made it to the cover of the willows and alder. 
       I immediately reduced my speed again and continued along the twists and turns of the trail through the brush. At least now, I could nurse my ego back to health and enjoy the race. Then, once again from behind me, came the "track" command, this time in a higher octave. I instinctively stepped aside, and let the diminutive gang of child “Jackrabbit” skiers zoom by. I took solace in the thought that at least there was no “Infant” Category in the race.
       The race will continue on tomorrow's blog.

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Wednesday 30 January 2019

The Yellowhead Loppet, Part 1

        In 1978 on the morning of the ski race, I awoke without a trace of nervousness or  worry. It was Sunday, no reason for panic. I lingered under the warm blankets enjoying the sleepy peacefulness of the morning. I don't know if professional athletes spend much time lying in bed worrying about their upcoming games,  but my lack of concern for the ski race didn't stem from self confidence, it stemmed from the fact that I did not even suspect that I was going to be in a cross country ski race.
         The February sun was just beginning to streak through the tops of the cottonwood trees which grow on the lower slopes of the mountain, east of our place. The house was cold.  I got up, while my wife lingered in bed, so it was up to me to opened the vent at the front of the wood stove, stir up the slumbering ashes, and then carefully place a log into the firebox. I was just closing the cast iron door of the stove when the phone rang.
         It was Fern.
         "I hope I didn't wake you up," she said.
        "No," I tried to make my voice sound like I had been up for a couple of hours. Since we had just bought the small farm in this rural community, I thought it would sound better if I came across like an early riser. "I was just putting more wood on the fire," I croaked.
        "Today is the Yellowhead Loppet," Fern began.
        "Yes, I know.   We were planning to come and watch." I said.
        "I was calling to see if I could get you to be in the race," Fern continued, "You do cross country ski don't you?
        "Well, I'm really not very good."       
         This was not false modesty. I wasn't a very good skier. We had bought a cross country ski "package" the previous year in an attempt to make the long Canadian winters a bit more enjoyable by getting some physical exercise out in the crisp mountain air. The equipment package included a pair of "no wax" skis, (“Just snap them on and go”), bamboo ski poles, and a pair of high cut boots with padding around the ankles.
       In our old community, we would sometimes spend Sunday afternoons on the skis, shuffling and pushing our way along one of the many abandoned logging roads paralleling the North Thompson River. It was scenic and enjoyable, speed never entered into the equation.  The small rises and dips in the road which gave brief periods of acceleration and a little wind in the face, did not provide anything that could be considered the kind of experience that I could cling to in a cross-country ski race.
        "l'm sure you would do fine," Fern added.
        I was flattered. No doubt Fern had recognized the innate coordination and speed I had demonstrated on Wednesday nights in the high school gymnasium at the square dancing club my wife and I had joined in an attempt to meet people and establish ourselves in this small isolated community. Fern obviously had been impressed by my prowess as I "dos-a'-dosed" my partner, weaving, spinning, turning, before running head-on into the oncoming lady.
          I tried to decline again, but Fern was determined she was going to get me into the race and so she began to deploy her heavy artillery.
          "I sure wish you could help us out, Dave. We really need some participants in the Adult Male Category. You really don't have to race, just ski for the fun of it. Do it for the community.
         Bang, she got me. We wanted desperately to become part of the community. We had just bought the house and moved to this area five months earlier. I wanted to establish roots here. I didn't want to be in a ski race, but I heard my voice tell Fern over the phone, "Okay, I'II be in the race. How long is it?'
         "The Adult Male race is just seven kilometers?"
         "Oh," I replied, without really knowing what seven kilometers related to in understandable terms. It couldn't be too far, I thought.  I remembered reading in the little glossy “How to Cross Country Ski” booklet we had purchased along with our skis, that in Norway, seventy year old men win 50 kilometer races all the time. Surely, a thirty year old could ski seven kilometers without too much effort.
         Before my brain had any time to reconsider what my voice had just committed my body to, Fern said, "Good for you, Dave. The race starts at 10:00,  See you there." and then quickly hung up. 
        "Honey, wake up, I guess I'm going to be in the ski race.”
         My mind was already racing; I pictured myself skiing along with members of the community lined up along the track, all nodding in appreciation at what a good sport I was to enter the race so that there would be at least one local participant in the Adult Male Category. Who knows, I might even do well in the race. I still had an athletic body, despite my indifference to sports. As far as I knew, I still held the decathlon record at my high school back in Indiana. Maybe this was going to turn out all right!
        In the two hours that remained before the start of the race, I ate a bowl of cereal, went out to the wood shed to gather up the skis and poles.  I leaned against the leaned the skis and poles on side of the house beside the door, and brought the boots inside to warm up.
I gathered up my ski clothes: thick red wool knee socks, my heavy beige woolen ski knickers, a red woolen turtle-neck sweater, and the burgundy nylon windbreaker splattered with the odd drop of brown paint. All dressed up in my skiing clothes, I put the skis into the car, and off we drove to the Ranch of the Vikings where the race was being held.

The story continues tomorrow.

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Tuesday 29 January 2019

Popular Bird Feeder

    I fill our bird feeder every morning with sunflower seeds.  However, birds are not the only animals that like it.  Yesterday afternoon when I was outside, I saw the neighbor’s cat sitting inside of the feeder, waiting for an non-observant bird to fly in, and an hour later I caught this deer about to treat itself.  The other non-bird attendees at the feeder are all of the neighborhood squirrels.  It’s a wonder the birds get a chance to feed.

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Monday 28 January 2019

Starting The Fire Every Morning

    Normally this time of winter, we load the wood stove up to burn throughout the night, then in the morning, there are still glowing coals left, and all we have to do is add some more firewood, and off it goes.  As I have been saying this has been an unusually mild winter here in the Robson Valley, and so we have been just letting the fire go out overnight.  This means that I have to start a new one every morning.  
    Doing this daily has really diminished our supply of newspapers and kindling--the things we use to start the fire.  
    Last night our temperature did get down to our normal winter range (-15C, 5F) so tonight I will load the wood stove to keep it burning through the night.  Then tomorrow, I won’t have to start from scratch, and can just regenerate the fire.

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Sunday 27 January 2019

Sharing a Sunset with Vancouver

    Last night before I fell asleep, I was perusing the news on my iPad.  On the CBC website in the BC section, there was an article and several photos of the spectacular sunset that they had had in Vancouver.  I found that really interesting, because we also had a fairly spectacular sunset yesterday. 
    McBride is about 320 miles (510 km) from Vancouver as the crow flies, so I guess everyone in between us also shared in the colorful sunset.

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Saturday 26 January 2019

Balcony Shots

    We got some fresh snow overnight.  This morning I cleared the driveway with the snowblower before I came in to paint.  As I was painting, I glanced outside through the balcony door and noticed that the sunlight was highlighting some of the snow covered trees, so I grabbed the camera, walked out on the balcony, and took a couple of shots before finishing painting my square for the day.

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Friday 25 January 2019

The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault

The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
       This was a strange tale of a postman in Montreal who began following the relationships of some of his mail recipients by steaming open their letters, reading them, then re-sealing them before he delivered them.   He became especially enamored with the letters of a pretty young school teacher who was writing to an strange unkept man. 
       The more letters he read of this young woman, the more he fell in love with her. The correspondence of the woman and man was largely an exchange of Haiku poetry, that they both wrote. The postman who was unfamiliar with Haiku, soon came to appreciate the form, love it, and even write it. 
       When the postman saw the man who was running across the street to post a letter get hit by a car, and killed, he decided to secretly take his place, by writing his own Haiku to the woman.  He did this so he could continue reading the letters and Haiku from her.  In his desperate attempt to keep the death of her pen pal secret, he toils at writing Haiku, until he becomes proficient in producing the Japanese poetry.
        He succeeds, and he takes over the long-range relationship, which intensifies in both of them.   As you might guess, just as things are going so well for the postman, something occurs that threatens it all. 
    This strange tale concludes with an even stranger ending. 
     The novel is very short and full of interesting Haiku. It was a nice change from the books I normally read. 

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Thursday 24 January 2019

A Little Clump of Color

    For me, there is a drought of color during our many months of winter, and every time I come upon a little bit of color, I can’t help but take a photo.  That is what happened when I came across this little clump of bright green moss growing beside the outflow from my pond.  
    Granted, it is not a spectacular splash of color, but I am pretty color-thirsty.

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Wednesday 23 January 2019


    It’s treacherous out there.
    Our mild winter has coated our somewhat sloping driveway with sections of glare ice, hidden under a light covering of snow.  Last night when I headed up the drive to go to our music jam, my All Wheel Drive vehicle came to a standstill midway up the slope.  The wheels were going, but the car was not.  Then suddenly my car started sliding uncontrollably backwards.  
    Nothing helped, the breaks did nothing--gravity was in control.  As I slid down the slope, all I could do was cross my fingers, and hope that the car wouldn’t slide into anything.  Luckily the car stayed in the middle of the driveway until it finally came to a complete stop on a level section.
    Not wanting to miss the jam, I again started up the drive, this time with more speed, and although the momentum began to slow again when I hit the steep bit of the drive, the car continued forward, and made it to the road, which was ice-free.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief and I headed into the town.
    Remembering the trouble I had coming up the drive, when I returned home after the music, I carefully drove the car on the extreme left edge of the driveway, putting the passenger wheel in the middle of the driveway where there was grass under the snow, and more traction.  I made it down to the carport without incident.

    Our jam session is always a bit of a surprise, because I never know who will show up.  Last night was memorable because we had 3 bass players, all of whom were named “Len”.

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Tuesday 22 January 2019

Digging Out The Car

    In 1975 I was a teacher in an isolated one-room school that was located in a lumber camp on Takla Lake, with no roads into the place.  In September of that year in order to get to the school we drove to Fort St. James to the offices of Northern Thunderbird Airlines (NT Air) for a flight into the camp.  I asked them if I could park my International Scout somewhere until Christmas, when we would be flying back out of the camp for our Christmas Break.  
    They gave their consent and directed me over to an area where our car would be out of the way.  I parked it, we unloaded our possessions, got on the plane, and off we flew for the next 4 months.
    When Christmas finally came, we were eager to get out of camp and be back to civilization.  We caught the “Sched” (the nickname given to the daily flight NT Air made to the camp) and flew back to Fort St. James to get our car for our drive back to Indiana for Christmas.
    We were a bit shocked when we saw our car.  The snow had been piling up around it for months.  The people at NT Air were nice enough to load us some shovels so we could dig the Scout out.  After a vigorous workout with the shovels, we finally managed to clear enough snow out from around the car so that we could drive out.
    I ended up having to pull out the spark plugs and clean them before the car started, but once the car was running we packed it with our supplies, and we began the long winter drive to Indiana.

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Monday 21 January 2019

Komodo Dragon

    I was in a conversation last week and somehow the topic of Komodo Dragons came up.  Like a bullet, my brain lasered onto one of my favorite comedy dialogues- Bob and Ray’s “Komodo Dragon”.  Even though they were comedians from the US during the late 50’s and 60’s, I had never heard of them until I moved to Canada.  I have been listening to CBC radio pretty much daily for forty years, and every few years I hear the Komodo Dragon sketch, and still laugh every time.
    I also think of it every time I hear a bad interview on TV or radio.  
    If you are unfamiliar with it, below is a link.  The sketch starts about 30 seconds in and lasts for about 4 minutes.  Since January 21st has been designated the “Bluest Day of the Year” you might need a laugh. 
     Here is the link:

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Sunday 20 January 2019

Feels More Like Spring

    This has really been an unusually mild winter for the Robson Valley in the Interior of BC.  First we failed to have our usual “White” Christmas, something I have never experienced in my 40 years of living here.  Since then we did get snow, but the temperatures have remained abnormally mild.   The photo which I took yesterday shows some standing water on top of the ice on my pond, a result of our above freezing temperatures.
    Today’s forecast calls for a high of 0 Celsius (32F) and a low tonight of -5C (23F).  The temperatures we experience are usually warmer than what is in the forecast, so I suspect it will climb above freezing during the day. The normal temperatures for this day are a high of -5C (23F) and a low of -15C (5F).  
    An article I read said that the mid-section of North America is about to experience a “Polar Vortex” producing  very cold temperatures as we move into February.  It does not sadden me that we are supposed to remain mild and miss it here.
     Note: Now at midday the temperature outside is +6C (42F) 

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Saturday 19 January 2019

Diary: Living in an Isolated Lumber Camp

    In 1978 we were living in a lumber camp at Takla Lake BC.  At the time there were no roads into the place; access was by plane or train.  I had a job teaching at Silvacan Elementary, a one-room school (tan building on the left.)  The camp had to generate it’s own power and supply its own water.  It was not unusual to have problems with both of these utilities.   In my diary I noted the problems we experienced on three consecutive days in January, 1978.

Jan. 12, 1978
The water went off in camp starting at 11:15 this morning.  This afternoon after school, the power went off for about an hour in the houses.  Then in came back on, then went off again, then on again, repeating the cycle about five times, 15 minutes each.  We ate in semi-candlelight.  When it was time to do the dishes, we discovered our hot water heater wasn't functioning, I guess all the power and water problems has caused it's heating element to burn out.  As I write, our lights are flickering again.

Jan. 13, 1978
The electricity went off about five times this morning at school.  It has been fluctuating all day and night.  The water has also been sporadic.  The electrician that came to the teacherage told us that the element in our hot water tank has burnt out, and another one will have to be ordered.  Today was our coldest so far this winter,  -36F.  

Jan. 14, 1978
School went okay today, although the power was off again for a while this morning.  Today at recess we played soccer in the cold.  It was the school vs. Mr. Marchant.  The school won.  This evening we discovered that now the electric oven isn't working.

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Friday 18 January 2019

All The Light We Cannot See

    Here is a well-written, sensitive, and powerful novel, recommended to me by a friend, that I really enjoyed reading.  The storyline interweaves the lives two unrelated children, one a blind French girl, and the other a scientifically gifted German orphan boy, through the experiences forced upon them by World War II.  
         Marie-Laure, struck blind as a 6 year old child, lives with her father, a single parent, employed as a locksmith and skilled woodworker by a huge natural history museum in Paris.  She struggles to understand the world of darkness she suddenly lives in, and spends her days in the museum with her father and the museum’s other employees.  There she begins to develop an interest in snails and mollusks from one of the museum’s scientists.
        Young Werner and his younger sister Jutta, both with unusually white hair, grow up living in a small orphanage in a coal mining town in industrial Nazi Germany.  Finding the broken remains of a radio, sparks Werner’s intellect and he is able to figure out how it works and fixes it. His extraordinary abilities with electronics eventually enable him to be chosen and sent to a special Nazi school for gifted children.  There, while he is reveling in his growing knowledge of radio technology, he slowly begins to see the cruelty of the Nazi government. 
    Amidst the chaos created when Paris was about to be invaded by Germany, her father and  Marie-Laure escape to St Malo on the coast of France, to live with an aging uncle, who still suffers from shell-shock from his First World War experiences. This unexpected move to St. Malo is a disorienting change in Marie-Laure’s life, and the precursor of more negative changes in her life. 
      From the beginning, the reader cannot help but assume that the lives of these two completely different young people will somehow cross paths.  The author skillfully constructs the novel with each very short chapter, slowly developing the characters and the events taking place in their lives because of the war.  Doerr, little by little, in each chapter, shows how the war is slowly engulfing their lives. 
       All the Light We Cannot See was an extremely engulfing novel. It touched all the bases for me and had me fully involved with the characters and their situations.

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Thursday 17 January 2019

Moon, Mountain, and Blue Sky

    We’ve just experienced a couple of very clear days and we took full advantage of them by going for afternoon walks.  This is what I saw on one of those walks; the moon hanging in a very blue sky, and a mountain in the foreground.  The scene reminded me of Trevor Jones, an artist friend, who often painted landscapes which often included these three elements.

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Wednesday 16 January 2019

Another Slim Creek Shot

    Here is another photo I took near the Slim Creek Rest Area on Hwy. 16 on Monday morning.  This one also has some nice light, but I also thought it was fascinating because of the trees.  Slim Creek is in a valley bottom, so it doesn’t get much wind or direct sunlight and they are colder.  The slope you see in the background with the bare trees is in a more open area that gets more direct sunshine and wind and is warmer.
    The trees on the valley bottom are heavily laden with snow.  I assume that as much snow probably fell on the background trees, but is gone because of the its physical situation, unlike the more sheltered trees in the foreground.

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Tuesday 15 January 2019

Unexpected Colors and Light

    The name of my website is “Color and Light” because those are the things I generally look for when I choose an image to paint.  Yesterday we did one of our early morning expeditions up to Prince George to buy supplies.  We were traveling west with the sun coming up behind us in the east.  When we made a stop at  the Slim Creek Rest Area, I noticed the unusual lighting in front of us.  
    Slim Creek is situated in a valley bottom, and was sheltered from direct sunlight, the trees were just getting indirect ambient light from the sky.  The slope to the west however was reflecting the orangish light from the sunrise, the contrasting results of these two light sources made an unreal sort of feeling in my mind that I had to capture.
    I’ve mentioned before in this blog about how often you really have to narrow your attention when you are photographing.  In the image above, I just wanted to emphasis the contrasting colors of the foreground and the slope, so I zoomed in to eliminate most of the sky.  Had I taken the normal kind of landscape shots that people usually do, I would have had a lot of the sky, and the interesting contrast of colors would have been lost.

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Sunday 13 January 2019

Shooting Toward the Sun

    Here is a shot I took a couple of days ago as we were doing our walk and the Sun was just beginning to slip behind the Cariboo Range of mountains.  It was about 3:00 in the afternoon.  Shooting toward the Sun can sometimes make your camera’s automatic adjustments go a bit crazy, but you can often wind up with some pretty nice photos.  You will get some flairs from the light striking the camera lens, but that can give a burst of excitement to the picture.

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Saturday 12 January 2019

Fuzzy Mountain

    I really liked the effect the snow has made on this slope of Beaver Mountain.  This area was burned by a wildfire way back in 1961, and re-grew with Lodgepole Pine.  Pine tends to grow back very evenly and close together, which from the air makes it look smooth like a carpet.

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Friday 11 January 2019

The Great Rocky Mountain Bicycle Race, Part 2

    Continued from yesterday’s blog:

As I approached Dunster and glanced at my watch, it gave me no solace when I realized that the hardcore racers were probably already crossing the finish line in McBride 24 km ahead of me. One year, a grizzly bear crossed the highway in front of one of the racers. I had no such luck, but I did see some sheep and I mooed at some cows. 
     Finally, I was on the flat stretch beside the rock bluffs; no more hills!  Just when I started to feel like there was hope of survival, my legs started to cramp up on me. I was scared. How could they fail me now after 47 miles with just 5 to go. I was afraid to stop because I knew I wouldn't be able to start again. I tried shifting my rump around on the seat, thinking that if I pedaled at a different angle maybe I would use different muscles in my legs and could keep going.
    At this point, with no other racers in sight, I began thinking about the time I got suckered into the 7 km cross country ski race. That time, when I finally got to the finish line I discovered all the officials had given up and gone home. But the sound of the "follow-up" truck behind me reassured me that this time at least someone would be at the finish line to record my number and time . 
    I was warmly surprised to find a small crowd at the finish line cheering me on. It was almost like winning. They were waving and yelling encouragements, but the only thing I could hear was my own brain saying, "I DID IT! I FINISHED THE GREAT ROCKY MOUNTAIN BICYCLE RACE! 
    I somehow managed to get off the bicycle only to discover I could no longer walk. John held me up and walked me around until I could do it on my own again. The rest of the day was easy; the race picnic, the band concert in the park and all the stories everyone had to tell about their adventures on the race. 
    At the award ceremony they gave out the trophy and prizes. Some hot shot from Prince George had won the race with a time of just under 2 hours The girl with the tight black pants had won the women’s division -but had unfortunately already returned to Jasper.  Racers had come from Ft. St. John, Victoria, Calgary, as well as one guy from England and another from Germany.  A seventy year old guy picked up a prize for the oldest participant.
      I graciously accepted the prIze for last place. As I received the odometer ("because I had been so painfully aware of each inch along the way"), I tried to stress to the audience how it pays to stick to your race strategy. My time was just under 4 hours. 
    Strangely enough after all the misery I experienced last year, my masochistic streak has surfaced again. I. know I will be in the race again this Canada Day, but I am a little older and wiser this year. I have started to ride my 10 speed to work. This year my goal is to not win any prizes! 

    The photo shows my old friend John Bird walking me around after the race, so I could get my legs working right again.

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Thursday 10 January 2019

The Great Rocky Mountain Bicycle Race

The other day Joan was handed an old newspaper from 1985 that featured a photo of me and an article about the Great Rocky Mountain Bicycle Race that used to be a local event.  The photo reminded me of a story I had written about the time I participated in the big race.  Here it is:

    I am not a jock, I am not even close. I am a middle-aged civil servant who hasn't been on a bicycle two times all year, so what was I doing on my wife's 3-speed, 50 miles from the finish line?
      I can offer 3 possible explanations:
1. Some of the things I do make me think I must be a masochist.   2. I really wanted one of those Great Rocky Mountain Bicycle Race T-shirts and I didn't really feel right about wearing one if I hadn't been in the race.   3. I'm a sucker for lush mountain landscapes, and how better to experience the Robson Valley than on a bicycle. 
    On the bus that took the participants from McBride, B.C to the starting line in Mt. Robson Provincial Park, I made a mental note of every river valley we crossed, and wondered what it was going to feel like to pedal up each one. Even though I had seen Mt. Robson many times, I couldn't help being impressed again, watching it as I gave my wife's 3-speed a last minute road test before the start of the race. 
     I noticed that the individuals preparing their bikes could be divided up into 2 distinct groups. First, there were the hardcore racers. They had the sleek l0-speeds with those little metal cages on the pedals so they could pull the pedals up with their toes. They were wearing the gloves, helmets and colourful skin tight clothes. One of member of this group which caught my eye, was girl from Jasper in tight black racing pants. It would be nice to keep up with her! 
     I will call other group of participants “tourists”. I was a tourist. There was nothing extraordinary about our clothes, and most of us were happy just to push our pedals down and let them come up by themselves. Tourists weren't there to win the race, just to finish. We were there to partake of the fields, mountains, and the experience.
     The gun went off. There was a flash of spokes and the whirr of changing gears. The mass of bicycles and humanity that had surrounded me quickly metamorphosed into a single thread of colour, stringing its way up Highway 16 toward the Mt. Terry Fox viewpoint. I never saw the girl in the tight black racing pants again.
      As the horizontal pavement became more vertical I  shifted down into low gear and began to contemplate the reality of 80 km on a bicycle. Before I had finished this contemplation, l found myself on top of the  viewpoint with the highway snaking downward past Rearguard Falls and along the Fraser River, and I was alone. 
     If I couldn't win this race with my muscles I would  have to use my brains. I shifted into normal gear. I was going to take full advantage of this down slope. I bent as low to the bicycle frame as I could to cut down on the wind resistance. I shifted into high. I was going to push this 3-speed to the hilt.
       To my dismay, I discovered that I was going down hill at such a high speed, that my legs couldn't pedal fast enough to catch up with the gears. After the struggle I had to gain every inch coming up the hill, I certainly wasn't going to give up an inch going down, so despite the speed, I refused to put on the brakes. I just aimed the bicycle downhill and enjoyed the wind in my face.
       My hard work and keen strategy did enable me to catch up with 2 other "tourists". Several times I nonchalantly quickened my speed in a sly effort to overtake them, but they always nonchalantly quickened their speed and managed to keep me in my place. 
   I felt like a real racer each time I approached a refreshment station and grasped a carton of apple juice from a helper as I streaked by; Both refreshment stations and landmarks were flying by me now: Tete Jaune, apple juice, Small River, orange juice. Horsey Creek, a cup of water, on & on. I had the Cariboo Mountains on my left and the Rocky Mountains on my right, McBride and the finish line 35km in front of me and the official race "follow-up" truck crawling in 2nd gear immediately behind me.  What a feeling of security.

The story continues in tomorrow’s blog.

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Wednesday 9 January 2019

Gutter Covers-Not Labor Savers

    About five years ago, I saw that Costco had a sale on covers for gutters.  I was tired of always cleaning all the leaves out of my gutters, and the covers seemed like they would be a real labor saver, so I bought them.  They haven’t really worked out as planned.  
    They do prevent leaves and debris from clogging the flow of water to the downspouts, but a lot of leaves now pile up on top of the covers, so I still have to get up there and scrape them off.  It is easier and not as messy as it would be without the covers, but lately there has been another problem.
    For the first couple of winters, as the build-up of snow on the roof slowly glaciers down over the edge, it moved above the covers and they remained in place, but during the last couple of winters, the slowly sliding snow has caught the gutter covers pushing and twisting them out of place. 
     Now every spring I have to collect them all off of the ground, bend them straight, and then put them back over the gutters.  I am wondering if every autumn after the leaves fall, whether I should just take the covers off for the winter, then put them back on in the spring.  If that is the case, it doesn’t seem like I am saving a lot of labor, and it might be easier just to take them off permanently, and just clean out the gutters every year like I used to.

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