Category Archives: biking

Shifting gears

I woke up with a terrible cough–the same one from last week, but worse–and decided not to inflict it on my office-mates, so I worked from home. After a few hiccups regarding network access, I finally got things sorted out.

I thought about staying indoors all day. I didn’t feel particularly social and the cough made it more comfortable to stay silent. But my manager had organized a meeting for our extended group, and I wanted to go. So I grabbed a bag of cough lozenges and I rode my bicycle (in office clothes!) all the way to the office. I wasn’t running a fever anyway, so my cough was probably not infectious.

Results: I enjoyed a few hours of great conversation, learning a lot about IBM and my coworkers’ lives. I helped another new hire figure something out. I consumed seven cough lozenges, which was probably above the recommended dosage. I had a good bike ride: 8.4 km one way, around 40 minutes because I was taking it really easy so that I wouldn’t have to change my shirt on arrival. It was also a good opportunity to test my commute route, which turned out to be okay. Davenport has bicycle lanes pretty much all the way I needed to go.

I really appreciated how my manager and service delivery manager shared the big picture with us. It was interesting to see the numbers they were measured against, and to hear about the trends in the workplace. I also appreciated getting to know the other team members over dinner, and I look forward to learning more about them as I get the hang of inviting people out for a coffee or lunch break.

I’m back at home now, still nursing the cough, still going through my stash of lozenges. I’m glad I went to that, even though I didn’t feel particularly social when I headed out the door. I figured that opportunities like that shouldn’t be passed up, and the bike ride helped me shift gears and get ready to interact.

So that’s the fifth straight day I’ve found an excuse to ride my bicycle, and life is good. I’m looking forward to biking to work tomorrow. Musn’t forget my sewing kit for classes in the afternoon! I’m temporarily swapping my writing-in-the-subway time for exercising-for-half-an-hour-each-way time, but there are other times to write, and exercise is good.

Also, I like the people I get to work with. They’re awesome, and I’m glad to be part of this team.

Riding on my bicycle

– Friday –

I rode the subway instead of bicycling to work. It took me the same amount of time, which I used to draft some blog posts and respond to mail. I thought I’d take the subway so that I could bring my rolling case and take my work laptop home.

I missed the exercise already, missed the steady progression of streets, missed the strange combination of relaxation and tension (mm, trees; are there any car doors about to kill me?).

The weather’s getting cooler. It’s officially autumn now. Aside from gloves, what else do people use to make their cool-weather bike rides better?

I’m a little worried about handling snow and ice on my Manhattan Smoothie. I wonder if I’ll have to learn how to ride a real bike, and whether I’m up to that just yet. Maybe someday…

– Sunday –

W- helped me install a bicycle computer, which tracks total distance, trip time (only the time spent cycling), and a bunch of other useful things. I’m pleased to report that we biked 34km today, for a total trip time of two and a half hours. That involved some errands and a wonderful excursion to the Don Valley trails. The leafy canopy let filtered sunlight through, and it was beautiful.

I think I kinda like this biking thing.

It’s Bike Month in Toronto!

imageWhile we don’t have anything like the awesome biking infrastructure of the Netherlands (oh, and all that flat land – envy!) or the widespread bikes-on-every-bus mixed commutes of Boulder, Toronto is still pretty decent when it comes to biking. June is Bike Month here, so there’ll be plenty of events coming up! It’s a good time to take to the road and explore routes I don’t normally pass. Here’s what I’m thinking of:

  • June 3: Friday Night Ride: starts near work, ends up near home, going all along the waterfront. Biking from work on a Friday may be tough (I’ll be bringing a laptop, maybe two) so I may skip this
  • June 4: Saturday Morning Easy Roller Ride: starts near our place, goes to Port Credit in Mississauga, and I can always stop if I get tired along the way
  • June 18: Bells on Bloor: also starts near High Park (I love being near a common bike starting point!), goes to Queen’s Park

Not biking-related, but may still get me out of the house:

  • June 5: Catch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on the IMAX 3D screen downtown – maybe the 12:15PM showing, or the 3:30 one?
  • June 12: Toronto Raw/Vegan Festival at 918 Bathurst Street

Anyone want to come along?

2011-05-31 Tue 17:53

Bike ride in the rain

I’ve just come back from a bike ride organized by the Toronto Bicycling Network. The ride was supposed to go from High Park to Port Credit, but we stopped at the Tim Hortons near Alexandra Avenue and Lakeshore Road because it was raining so hard. The Tim Hortons we stopped at was just 3.5km from the destination, though, so I’d count that as mostly there. =) In total, I biked 33.7km in about two hours of constant rain, although part of that time was spent rather comfortably sipping hot chocolate inside the cafe.

This is where we ended up:


I’d never been that far west on my bicycle, and I haven’t biked in the rain for such a distance or length of item. It’s not that scary after all, although I wish I’d worn my rain pants and my gloves!

Kaizen in the little things: The way the door opens

One of my principles is kaizen: continuous improvement. If you can make your life 1% better every day, you’ll double your life’s awesomeness in less than three months. Even if you improve life by 0.01%, you’ll still do pretty darn well over time. Today was one of those 0.01% days. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.

You see, I often ride my bicycle to work. This means maneuvering my long-framed bicycle through the mudroom, out the door, and down the porch stairs. The door has two parts: the actual door, which opens inward, and the screen door, which opens outward. If I roll my bicycle near the door, then open it, the door often gets stuck in front of my bicycle. If I open both the door and the screen door, one of our cats usually slips out and starts exploring the porch. (I’m looking at you, Luke.)

Today I had an epiphany. If I open the house door but not the screen door, then I can get out more easily and I don’t have to worry about the cats slipping past. This is what it looks like:


Yes, I know, obvious, but I managed to get through one whole year with this bicycle without having that aha! moment, because I always thought of door-opening as an integral operation: open the house door, then open the screen door. Close the house door, close the screen door. Even though we sometimes leave the house door open and the screen door closed to let in summer breezes, it didn’t click until I stopped and thought about why I was getting stuck in the bike room.

Little things like that are the cruft of un-consciously moving through life, and it’s so much fun to fix them. So many opportunities for improvement everyday!

Fifty kilometers on my bicycle

Maira and Scott suggested biking along the Humber river trail, which stretches north-southish all the way up to Steeles. I’d never been along the north part of the trail, and it sounded like a great way to spend the Sunday afternoon. They originally wanted to meet up at 12. It was 11:30 by the time I left. It would’ve taken me too much time to get there through public transit, so I arranged to bike up and meet them at some point along the trail.

The Humber trail is an easy ride with the occasional hill. The only tough parts are that you sometimes need to find the trail again. I got a little lost along the way, but GPS and other people helped me get back on track.

My friends were running quite late, so I ended up leisurely pedaling all the way to the beginning of the Humber trail near Kipling and Steeles. I had my Kindle with me, so I passed the time reading. After we met up, we took the trail south. We overshot Bloor and circled back, emerging at Royal York and Bloor. We headed our separate ways at Bloor, and I made it back home by 4:30pm.

I covered 50km, finished two bottles of water (and wished I’d brought a third), and snacked on one granola bar. When I got home, I had a refreshing shower, then read two books and took a short nap.

So. Biking a long way. I think it’s the longest and farthest I’ve biked semi-continuously. I wasn’t winded afterwards, just a tad wobbly, and W- and I still got plenty of things done the rest of the day. I think it’s more like plugging away at this exercise thing, like perhaps you might on a stationary bike, except that the scenery changes, there’s the occasional breeze, and you really should put on sunblock (which I did). It’s not hard. It’s just being present and keeping your legs moving, and maybe not getting run over by cars on the stretches between the proper trails.

I think it’s amazing being able to bike on a small paved trail clearly in much use – we saw lots of pedestrians and other cyclists – far away from the sights and sounds of the city, yet in the heart of it, and never too far away from help or the rest of the world. There are many other things I can do in five hours, sure, but this is pretty good too.

2011-07-03 Sun 20:25