Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

21 Days?

With the weather being as blah as it has, I haven't been getting in as much cycling as I'd like; four weeks from now I'll be riding over 200kms to raise money for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  And I'm not even slightly ready.  Ugh.   Was supposed to ride my first 100km in a MEC ride this weekend, but it got cancelled due to flooding.  An inauspicious beginning :(

So I've decided to up my general fitness so at least I have a chance.  So I went back to Beachbody, which is where I got P90X3 (that story began here) and Core de Force and figured I'd see what else was there.  I know from my Core de Force adventure that I really need something that sticks to 30 mins to be successful.   So I filtered on this, which is when I got my first hint as to how atrocious their website really is.  *sigh*.  Filter was useless, so I did some searching and found a few possibilities.   One I liked the idea of was the 21 Day Fix.  Simply because I had enough time to complete the program, add one extra week, and have a few recovery days before the ride.  Perfect.

Now there are two options -- 21 Day Fix, and 21 Day Fix Extreme.   They have almost identical descriptions, but the difficulty rating is significantly higher for the Extreme version.  To put in perspective, it's ranked harder than both of the other two programs I've done.  So of course, feeling particularly unfit, I went for that one ;).

I also decided to subscribe to their online membership rather than ordering videos.  Since I seem to be doing these a lot, it seemed the most cost effective method.  And while the videos all work (although there was a delay before I could use them) I have to say the website itself and the member's dashboard are sorely disappointing.   They have the potential to be amazing and yet fail time after time *sigh*. However, I really just wanted the exercise, and that I have.

This video series has a fairly defined diet associated with it; I'm not playing that game ;-P.  The videos themselves are all half hour, and follow a weekly schedule.  So it will get boring fast, but it's only meant to be done for 3 weeks, so fair enough.

As to the exercise program, I'm conflicted.  I really dislike the trainer.  Her "motivation" makes me angry, and the constant reference to "booty" would alone cause me to lose any respect I may have had for her.  Also, her background exercisers are all bikini competitors (I didn't even know this was a thing?), which means they have amazingly sculpted bodies.  I understand this is supposed to advertise for the program, but to me it's demotivating -- they're so much more fit than I, that just because they can do something, doesn't mean I have a hope at it.   As opposed to P90X3, which had all very fit people but both A - people who at times struggled with the exercises, and B - people who do not exercise for a living and who got fit through doing that particular program.   And Core de Force has some awesomely fit people but a couple more normal body types who are managing it as well.   Again inspiring the competitive "if they can do it, so can I".

I also (so far -- I've only done 4 videos) do not like the exercises.   I haven't done one video where I'd look forward to doing it again.   The only plus is that most of them use weights, which I quite enjoy :).  And they use the fitness bands in ways I haven't seen before which is interesting, although kinda requires shoes which I'm not thrilled about.

I'm not alone!
So with all the negatives, what's the conflict?   Well they work.   Except for pushups which have always been the bane of my existence, I can do all the exercises.   By half way through most of the videos, whichever area is being worked is fatigued enough to be shaking.   And I am so very sore.   I think I'm still recovering from the very first day (when I did two videos because the website listed both and missed the critical "or" that is specified in the program materials).   The videos are also in an appropriate order so different systems are worked each day (in as much as isolation is possible).   And they do stick to half an hour, which means I can fit it in and still have time to ride my bike.

Weather's supposed to be better this week.  Fingers crossed!

Horseback riding verses bicycle riding

So as anybody who's been reading this blog for any amount of time will know, horseback riding has been a big part of my life for a very long time.   However, almost TWO years ago (as of June -- can you believe it?  I'm fairly horrified myself), that became less of an option and I've been trying, and failing, to find something to fill the void.

With the latest attempt being cycling, I find myself drawing comparisons -- esp when I'm riding my bike on the same trails I used to ride my horse...

I'd pick the horse every time...
So let's see:

Bike wins:
  • The bike generally always goes exactly where I tell it at the pace in which I tell it to go.  This makes for an extremely predictable ride. 
  • Getting hit in the face by a tree branch hurts with either kind of riding, but I can duck a lot lower on the bike. Also, the bike has never intentionally attempted to close-line me.
  • I have yet to have a random stranger ask if they can pat my bike.
  • My bike has never decided it's afraid of other bikes, or run backwards into a ditch, or tried to attack a dog (see predictable ride above).
  • Before and after care of the bike is significantly easier than the horse.
  • If I fall off my bike, it stays within a foot or two of where I left it.  It is also a shorter drop to the ground.
  • It is significantly easier to navigate the end-of-trail barriers on a bike than a horse.
  • I do not need to worry about my bike's fitness.
  • I do not have to dismount to clean up after my bike.
  • No matter what mood I'm in when I get on the bike, it will respond in exactly the same way.
  • I can leave my bike for months, and when I get back on it will behave exactly as it would if I'd ridden it yesterday.
  • I am less concerned riding my bike on the road than riding my horse on the road.
  • The bike is significantly less bouncy than the horse.

  • Both require a degree of fitness that I do not currently possess.
  • Both can go lame mid-ride.
  • Small children on bikes are more erratic and out of control than small children on horses.   However, teenagers on horses are crazier than teenagers on bikes.   Having been a teenager on both horseback and bike, I can attest to this.
  • Wind, especially a cold wind, is evil no matter which form of riding.
  • Both have large communities of passionate enthusiasts.
  • Both can go fast enough I can't see.  Fast is fun :)

Horse wins:
  • The bike generally always goes exactly where I tell it at the pace in which I tell it to go.  This makes for an extremely boring ride.  
  • My horse has far more capability than my bike to handle things like curbs, ditches, fallen trees, water, mud...   The original ATV.
  • My horse is far more forgiving of balance shifts than my bike.
  • Horse saddles tend to be more padded than bike saddles.
  • On horseback I have very few concerns about passing other riders on horseback; on my bike I am definitely cautious about it.
  • I have had far more hardware failures on the bike than I have had in decades of horseback riding combined.  That being said, hardware failures on horseback tend to be more dramatic than on the bike.
  • A horrible horseback ride leads to a far more entertaining blog post than a horrible bike ride. 
  • After a good bike ride I feel tired and happy.   An average horseback ride will get the same results.   
  • Never has my bike made me feel the adrenaline of a cross country ride, the pride of a brilliant dressage test, the heartbreak of acknowledging the partner you love will never be capable of achieving your goals, the fear of a bad bout of colic or mystery lameness, the utter peace of grazing in the sunset, the child-like joy of riding bareback.   Never do I find myself at work daydreaming about riding my bike.  

And so while I enjoy riding my bike, and logic points out the bike win list is longer, horse people have never been accused of being logical ;) And that last point outweighs all the rest together. But this is the kind of thing that goes through my head while I'm peddling my way 50kms, especially when my bike is not concerned with something that would’ve been high drama on my horse ;)

1/2 way through my first 50km ride

My current view, turned around toward home...
I am writing this at the 25km mark of a 50km ride.   

Things I've learned:
- it's colder on a bike than sports I'm used to.  Almost every rid I've had, I've ended up freezing.
- I'd much rather be on a horse; although the bike is certainly easier in many ways ;)
- I'm significantly faster on the road than on the rail trail.  This is sad as I'm not terribly fast on the road.
- My shoulders still very sore but lasting much longer than they used to.
- There are only 2 weeks till my first 100km ride.  And my first ride with a large number of other people.  Slightly overwhelmed at the idea.
- Protein bars have a really gross texture to them.   Ugh.

Okay break taken, protein bar mostly eaten, water inhaled.  Time to head back!

Edited to add:  random other cyclists (autocorrect just updated that to characters ;) checked to see if I was okay while I was sitting on my break.  Certainly everyone I've met doing this has been incredibly supportive and friendly.

Edited again to add:  the second half of the ride was significantly easier than the first, presumably as it was mostly down hill ;).  After 50km though I am exhausted.  My legs are done and my seat...  My poor seat.  Ow.   200km in two days is going to be brutal!   If you're interested in supporting my endeavour to help conquer cancer in our life time, click here :). Huge thanks to all those who have already donated!!!

And the games continue...

So I went for another eye checkup this am.   I really should stop doing that ;-P

They told me my eye is looking significantly better!  Woohoo!!!

Contender for my next profile pic?
So pics on the left are last checkup, pics on the right is this one.  I honestly have no idea what the coloured ones are indicating.   But in the black and white -- notice how much smoother the shading in the right one is?  Apparently this is the goal ;)   When it comes to eye-pics, colouring in the lines is good.

I explained about the fairly funky intermittent vision I have and asked “is this normal”?   The doctor just laughed and said he thought at this point my eye would never be considered normal.  Sheesh.  Okay fine, but what I really should have asked was “is this something you’ve seen before and is there any chance my vision will improve?”  Right – I don’t actually know if they’ve seen it before, they definitely seemed bemused by my description.   Did say though that there’s still hope for improvement over the next few months.

Okay great, thanks.  I can go back to work.

Yeah, it’s never that easy.

So while the back of my eye is doing much better (see above beautiful picture) apparently the front is having some challenges.  The iris has fused to … something?   I didn’t catch what – my grasp of eye anatomy is way better than I ever wanted it to be, but still lacking some key details.   Anyways, this essentially is impacting the eye pressure which can cause other issues.   As he put it – “the eye plumbing is blocked”.


The result?  Laser surgery – today.  Oh goody.

So I fill out the consent form.  This always amuses me – they bring it to you in the waiting room and tell you to read it, then come to the front desk to sign.  Fair enough, signature needs to be witnessed, and they make a point of asking again at that time if you know and understand all the risks etc etc…   But I read really fast and usually end up back at the desk a few seconds after they do.   Now to be fair, most of their clientele move at a significantly slower pace than I do, and for many English isn’t a first language (common enough there’s a spot for the translator’s signature as well).   So that alone probably takes more time.   But I always get the oddest look when I get there.

Back to the waiting room for me.  Now I had laser surgery after the very first operation – and it hurt.  Everything I’d read and seen had said it wouldn’t, but it did and I was not thrilled about doing it again.  Especially as this doc had told me straight out it might hurt, but would be very short.   However, I’m even less thrilled about being blind so…    At least no anesthetic required – anesthetic does fairly awful things to me.

So my turn comes and the setup is very much like every other exam room.  He froze my eyeball (that had already been frozen once that day) and then went to stick something in my eye – it looked like a small but thick plastic ring.  My assumption is that it is to hold the eye open.  But as soon as it touched me I shot backwards.  Seriously dramatic reaction – I was slightly appalled.  But ow.   And said ring was covered in goop, so when I shot backwards this was now all over.  Ugh.  So cleaned up and he froze the eye again ;)   This time when he did it it felt slightly uncomfortable and there were moments I could see some fun flashing lights (fyi – if you ever see flashing lights, esp in a circle, and it’s NOT because a doctor is poking around at your eye, get it checked out by a specialist.  Even if it’s just a few seconds.  Trust me on this one.) but otherwise it was no big deal.  

Then you put your chin on the stabilizing bar and they shine a ridiculously bright light and everything looks and feels very much like a checkup except you know they’re going to laser you.  And he warns me that “It might hurt, don’t flinch away.”

I just about laughed – not sure how I’d control an involuntary reaction, but sure.

And then…

Wait.  What?   Was that it?   The tiniest little zap.  Complete with cool sound.  And I felt it in my jaw and my head, not my eye at all.   For the farm kids out there – you know the feeling when you touch the electric fence?   Like that, but 1/1000000 of the intensity ;)  Honestly just a slightly odd feeling, and so minor I almost didn’t know anything had happened.   So he zapped about half dozen times, sometimes with moderately long pauses between.    And then “that worked really well.”  Excellent.  Takes all the gear away and I wipe the goop off and I’m done.  New script for more drops and “come back in two weeks.”

Perfect – I’ll be back at work by lunch.

Except no.  Within a few minutes I had a blinding headache, and then nausea.  And then booked it to the washroom because of said nausea.  Lovely.   Had put it out of my mind that every time they use those freezing drops I feel ill afterwards – apparently I’m the only one (lucky me!) and they need to use them, so I just suck it up.  But evidently three times in an hour is a little more than my body was okay with *sigh*

So I got to hang out a while longer till my body decided to behave itself, and then it was suggested that maybe returning to the office wasn’t the best idea for the day and since thankfully my work is incredibly supportive, I took that advice and went home.   It’s been several hours now and I’m feeling significantly better – disproportionately tired for some reason and my head is still unimpressed, but otherwise all good.

And thus ends the latest chapter of “eye surgeries I used to be happily ignorant about”.  Sheesh.

A little bit of paradise

Had an amazing time in Grenada -- a tiny island at the south end of the Caribbean.   Temp was 30 degrees and sunny every day.  We had about 1h of rain one day (nap time!) and other than that it was perfection.  The beach was flagged green every day except the last and the resort was half empty, meaning we always got ideal beach seats :)
Notice how few people were on this gorgeous beach...
The country is very hilly with steep twisty roads.  Even our resort -- to get from the main area to our room involved going up a flight of stairs or two, down a hill, and up another hill.  And then up the three flights of stairs to our room ;).  It's the first beach vacation I've ever come back in better shape than I left.  And since it we had perfect weather, I actually kinda loved it.  Would not have enjoyed it in inclement weather though.
Loved the waterfall :).  And the swim was fun too!
We did a day trip that covered the whole island.  I learned really fast to take ALL the anti-nausea meds before getting in any vehicle!   Island trip started off with a waterfall, which I loved, and included stops at a nutmeg co-op (interesting, labor intensive, process.  Learned a lot though -- not hard given that I was starting with absolutely zero knowledge.).

I never knew mace grew on nutmeg...
We also hit up a chocolate shop (less interested in this process, but I loved the fact that when the coco tree is going to die, it sprouts new limbs/tree in its place), and a rum factory (this was interesting in that they were trying to be historically accurate in their processes -- but oh so labor intensive).  All of these had high potential for interest, but while all the presenters were knowledgeable, none were particularly good story tellers.   I had more fun wandering around the other areas than on the actual tours.  
The rum factory is powered by a water wheel...
We stopped briefly at some crashed airplanes...

Interesting, but an unusual tourist attraction.

We went to see monkeys, but the monkeys didn't want to come see us.  Can't blame them really, but still sad :(.  The goats weren't too thrilled either.
Not as cool as a monkey, but still was highly amused by the expression ;)
And we went to Carib's leap -- where the last of the native people threw themselves off a cliff rather than submit to French rule.   The country has a fairly violent history for such a small island (~340 square kms, and 100,000 people).   Even in recent history -- the US put an end to a war in the 80s.   Anyways -- was a long day, but lots of pretty scenery.  I did feel it could've been a better tour though.

I loved the colours everywhere!
Another day we went to St Georges -- the closest city.  Played in the fort for a while -- I love that they've repurposed the few usable rooms; one is a gym for the police who's HQ is attached to the fort.  Was also highly amused by running around to create Chris' 360 image; it's on Facebook for the curious - sadly I don't seem to be able to steal it for here...
We went through the tiny tunnel -- very cool.
Then wandered around town for a while before catching the bus back to the resort and beaching all afternoon :)
Again, the colours!
One day we went on a catamaran snorkelling tour.
Just keep swimming...
This went to the underwater sculpture park, which was created to encourage coral to regrow after the hurricane Ivan destroyed significant amounts of the island.  
I found this *really* creepy...
Trip also went to do some normal snorkelling too, and then a lovely sunset sail...

Not a bad place to spend an evening
Other than that, we mostly hung out on the beach.  Relaxing and lovely.   The resort itself was tired and mostly empty.  Apparently they're putting lots of money into renos, but there wasn't a ton of evidence of it.  Food was good, but very limited selection and times.  Most of our trips we booked through Dexter, random dude Chris met within about 30 seconds of being there.  Dexter had been recommended on trip advisor so figured we'd give it a go.  He was not welcome on the actual resort though, which I found fairly amusing.  Also had a massage on the beach one day from one of the local women and bought a few things from the tiny market at the end of the beach.  Pedlars here were way more respectful of "no thank you" than any other resort I've been at.

Loved watching the waves on the rocks the one day the ocean was awake.
The hotel was all of about a km from the airport.  Awesome for not having to leave early :). And no issue with plane noise -- at least in part because there are so few flights.  People coming to this resort appear on Monday and Thursday only.
Upstairs has the real pool and lunch area
Overall, wasn't my favourite trip in the world and I'm not in any hurry to go back, but I did really enjoy it.  I certainly would go again eventually -- but I think only when I want a vacation that is literally just beach -- maybe 20 or 30 years from now ;).  Cause there's really not much else to do.  And well, no food or drinks I enjoyed.  First beach vacation where I've ever lost weight!   But the people were lovely, and - at least at the moment - it's not nearly as touristy as many of the other islands are.  It's also not a third world country which is nice.  And English is the first language, which logically I should like, but I actually found took away from the fun of vacation.  I have a strong suspicion that's just me though ;)

And still more colour :)

#FridayFlash 68: Returning

This one is for Catherine, who asked "but what happened before?"
Annie -- your "what happened after?" is a much longer story ;)

For the curious -- this is a prequel to my Jezina story Beyond the Wall.

Thanks for reading!


"You have to take her," the frantic whisper commanded.  Leesha grabbed the brown bundle of fabric as it was shoved at her, before realizing what it held.  Who it held.

"What?  No.  Your highness, I can't..."

"She is not safe here," the voice less frantic, more commanding.  The queen speaking rather than the mother.  "My husband will kill her.  You must take her, and I cannot know where she's gone.  Keep her safe.  Keep her secret.  Until the time is right for her to return.  You will know when the time is right to tell her."

The queen handed Leesha a small sack.  Its contents jingled as she grasped it, letting her know exactly what it contained.  Its weight suggested there was enough money to last a lifetime.  

The queen's face softened as she looked at her first-born daughter, cursed with hair pure white, as her own had been.  The baby gurgled in her sleep and the queen reached for her, but as Leesha moved to hand the child back, the queen quickly stepped aside, straightening away from the child and glancing quickly over her shoulder.

"You must go now!"  The lines deepened on her forehead, but the tension evident did not disguise the pain in her eyes.  

Leesha gave a small curtsey and backed away from her queen's haunted gaze.  What did she know was coming?  Why would she fear the king?   What could possibly be bad enough that she would send her beloved daughter away with a maid?   And why her? 

Leesha's mind whirled with questions as she returned to her chamber to gather her meager belongings.  She made her way through the castle sticking to shadows and rarely used passageways, grateful for the princess's silence.  She looked longingly at the route to the kitchen, but didn't dare visit there with the child.  She didn't know how long she'd have before someone missed the girl, or if the queen would protect her if she were caught.

She thought wistfully of the friends she'd miss and hoped one day she'd be able to return.  Leesha had no family to miss her, she was sure that was a large part of why she was chosen.   What the queen didn't know, what nobody knew, was that she did have family.  The question was whether that family would take her back in.

She glanced at the baby's face – only her eyes visible through the blankets, and those mostly hidden by shadow.  Her white hair was covered – an oddity here, Leesha would take her where she would fit in, a place where Leesha never had.

She scanned the field and saw nobody before leaving the shelter of the wall and walking calmly but quickly toward the northern gate.  She'd picked a side exit, off the normal guard route, where she knew there'd only be one guard.  She hoped it might be a friend, someone she could convince she was never there.  Or, failing that, someone who could be paid to forget -- at least for a little while.

Leesha heard sounds up ahead.  Two people?  There were never two guards here.  And then her eyes widened and a smile touched the corner of her lips as she realized what she was hearing.  The guard, being less than diligent, had found himself some company to occupy his long shift.   Leesha's luck held as the baby slept while they slipped out the little-used exit.   

She hurried across the field, trying to hold the child in such a way as to not jostle her.  The steady rhythm kept her sleeping, and her silence was necessary to their escape.  She reached the forest but found the trees too think to cut through, so stuck to the edge, hiding in the shadows.   She shortly found a path -- one of the smaller ones she knew lead to town.  

Never before had the dark seemed so complete, the night so overwhelming.  But still she walked even as adrenaline began to give way to fatigue.  By the time she got to town, shed concluded she couldn't seek help; not with the princess in her arms.   To do so would be to risk not only herself and the child, but also any who helped her.

Terrified, Leesha hid the girl in a hollow of a tree off the poorly used path and hoped she'd make it to town and back quickly enough.   She quickly bought travel necessities and foods she could make into a gruel for both of them before visiting the docks.  A reasonably safe place, Leesha affected a bored countenance while negotiating travel for herself and her daughter up the river.   Her heart beat wildly from the lie, but the weathered boatman didn't even look at her, just agreed to a price and told her to return before his crew finished loading.

Leesha hurried back, fear making it hard to swallow, but the baby was still there and fine, just starting to fuss and wave her tiny fists in the air.  She fed her quickly before rebundling her, careful to ensure her hair was entirely covered.

Only once the boat was on its way with Leesha on it, did the reality of what she was doing sink in.  As she dozed on the gently rocking ship, she remembered the village shed left as a girl.  A small village it was bound by stricter rules than most.  She recalled as a young child, visitors had been encouraged, but by the time she was a teen and ready to explore herself, things had changed.   A wall had been built that few were allowed to cross.  For the good of the village, the elders said.   They knew what was out there and had to protect against it.  Those who wished to leave could, but they were not guaranteed to be welcomed back.  Leesha was afraid the hard words she had exchanged with her mother before leaving would ensure she would not be permitted to return.

The journey took several weeks, and while there were some challenges, they made their way there together and unharmed.  The wall was much smaller than Leesha remembered, and the gate stood open.

A keelah!” Leesha heard a childs excited shout and the nostalgia it brought helped calm her nerves.

The baby whimpered and Leesha softened her hold.  She focused on calming the girl as she entered the village shed sworn never to return to.  As she looked up a woman stepped out of the crowd, her face pale but proud.   Not a welcome, but more encouragement than Leesha had expected.

She held the bundle out and uttered the lie that would change lives. Mom, Id like to introduce you to your granddaughter.  Jezina.

This is not how Sunday mornings are meant to be spent...

Went to an interesting spin class today - the focus was on spinning as training to ride as opposed to spinning as its own fitness activity.  This may seem a minor differentiation but in reality it was a completely different experience.

This class was all people who are participating in Ride to Conquer Cancer of varying skill levels.  Focus was on maintaining the same level of energy output throughout.  The bike's computer showed watts, revolutions, and a few other random details.   We were to adjust the tension so that we were hitting a certain number of watts at a particular number of revolutions.   (Eg - get to 85 revolutions and set tension so end result is 100 watts...  then reduce to 65 revs and still maintain 100 - meaning tension has to go way up).   Premise being while riding outside regardless of hills, wind, etc focus should be on maintaining a consistent energy usage.   With a secondary focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm.

At first I was all over the place but by the end I had managed to at least be within five of wherever I was supposed to be consistently - I'm going to deem that a win :)   Down side -- my actual bike computer doesn't give me all the same information the spin bike does; revs yes, energy no...

Less of a win is that my hind muscles are already screaming and I have to sit on them for several hours tomorrow.  Fail.   But hopefully the beach will help them relax ;)

For those just dropping into the story - this early morning class is to help me prep for the Ride to Conquer Cancer.  Your support by clicking this link and donating would be greatly welcomed!


So while Wednesday’s bike ride was a challenge, I was feeling pretty good on Thursday.   Both excited and dismayed that I apparently didn’t get a workout out of the brutality that was Wednesday’s conflict with the wind.  
It was late by the time I had time to exercise so the bike was out (I’m not riding in the dark!) but Core de Force still exists.   Lol I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to that as I’d like to be – unlike P90X3, this one has a pretty serious time commitment and, well, that time is not always there.  But I am loving the results it gets even with less than ideal commitment so I picked the most intense video and away I went.
But while I felt I wasn’t tired, something was clearly nqr…   Each of my “roundhouse” kicks sent me spinning in a circle (this was really quite comical I must admit, but disconcerting as it wasn’t on purpose!)  And I quickly noticed that any jumps that involved moving forward were not, in fact, propelling me particularly far forward.
It only got worse…   When she asked “is your guard up?”  No, no its not.  And trying to put it there resulted in tapping myself in the face (I say ‘tap’ because there was so little power it doesn’t count as a punch!)   And “are you retracting your kick?”   No.  If I ever have to actually fight someone, they’re just going to grab my ankle or my wrist and I’ll be done.   
Lol I got through the program, but while I didn’t feel muscle sore going in, I have to acknowledge my poor body was very definitely tired.   So today, instead of exercise, I’m going out for dinner ;)   This seems an entirely reasonable deviation from all current goals.

The adventure begins

Every good quest must have a nemesis.  Sometimes it’s physical ability, sometimes it’s a competitor, sometimes it’s an angry wizard…  You never know quite what you might encounter.   While I was really hoping not to have to take on the angry wizard, I had figured I might have to tackle such obstacles as lack of time, lack of fundraising skills, and of course, lack of fitness.   I was prepared to tackle two of the three and a little bit counting on the kindness of friends and strangers for the third (HUGE thanks once again to those who have already donated to support my effort to help the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre).

But no, my nemesis was more sneaky than that.  Should, perhaps, have been obvious.  Would have been obvious were I a trained cyclist.  Alas I am not.  And so on my first real training ride, I met my nemesis: The Wind.

Okay now I can accept the knowing laughter from the cyclists in the group.  But those of you rolling your eyes – let me tell you, that’s what I thought too!

So, to set the stage, because I’m told that’s what you have to do, the day I decided to take on this challenge, I dusted my bike off (literally!) and rode it around the block.  Now this block is a large block and it does involve a bit of a valley that lets me get some serious (to me) speed – about 60km on a good day – and then ALL the peddling on the easiest of gears to get back up the other side.   But even still, we’re talking less than 3km all in, and I was all kinds of puffing by the end.  Now to be fair to me, part of this was undoubtedly due to my well known and dreaded habit of holding my breath.  Lol – the first cross-country round of every eventing season usually sees me just about pass out after the fourth fence before I remember to breath.   And generally I do showjumping without ever bothering to waste time on such an unimportant function.  But even still, I took this as a pretty serious sign that if I wanted to ride two HUNDRED kms, I’d better give my fitness level some intense attention.

Acknowledging that, along with my complete dislike of anything that resembles winter weather, I hit up the spin bikes at the gym.  Now these have the advantage of being an intense workout in a short period of time (there’s no cruising or downhill!) but I know fully well that it’s not really the same.  So I had determined that on Wednesday (when I don’t have to commute and save myself 3h of daylight) that I would go for ride after work.   I have an “easy” 10km route that I used to do on the cross-training days from my running (which was last year’s adventure).

Right, Mother Nature was in one of those moods where she wasn’t going to outright say “no”, but she definitely wasn’t supportive of the idea either.  “Wind warning” – right.   Well what’s the worst that can happen?   I honestly thought it’d just be really hard to push into and it’d take me a long time in an easy gear.   Optimistic me put it as a good workout.  Right.  Hindsight’s a nasty little beast.

First of all, I would like to know how I could be riding into the wind BOTH directions.   I was doing a loop – logically one direction of the loop should be *with* the wind – super zoomy and all kinds of fun.  While the other would be the unpleasantness I had mentally prepped for.   Right?  Doesn’t this seem logical?   Well evidently Ms Nature and Logic were not on speaking terms.   I had about one block where I felt a significant boost.  The rest of the time it was just varying degrees of how hard the ride was.  And that was the easy part!

I’m not even kidding – I seriously thought the hard part would be riding into the wind.  No my friend, that it is not.   What I had failed to consider was what happens when the wind is coming at you on a ninety degree angle.  This, this is what nightmares are made of.   To put in perspective, earlier in the day this same wind blew a semi-truck over on the skyway (not far away).  It too had problems with the sideways gust.   I was SO very lucky there was zero traffic where I was riding, because when it hit I was instantly on the other side of the road and fighting for control.

And *then* when I thought I had figured out how to counter balance against said wind, it got angry at me and started THROWING THINGS.   I couldn’t even make this up.   Branches.  Leaves.  Garbage – ugh, so much garbage.

I never realized how grateful I’d be to turn a corner and *only* be riding into the insane wind.   Yet still it happened.

I did, in fact, make it home, uninjured, and in one piece.   The luck of small children and idiots was with me that ride – I’ll let you ascertain for yourself which one was protecting me ;-P   And all I can think is when I ride TWENTY times as far, I really hope Mother Nature can convince my nemesis The Wind to back off a little.  Or better yet, support the cause and give us all a push!