blogging · fitness

Top ten posts in February, #icymi

1. Women’s bodies, racism, football, and being a babe after 50

Sam’s post on J.Lo and Shakira and the wonder that was their halftime show. Also some stern words about all the criticism they received and continue to receive for it.

2. Turquoise, berry, and lime, oh my

Guest blogger Chloe Wall on the limited range of non-pink colours for women’s athletic wear.

3. Harley Quinn’s Fantabulously Emancipating Egg Sandwich

Quill Kukla guest blogs about their thoughts about women, agency, and eating delicious food in the movie “Birds of Prey.”

4. US report predicts 50% obesity rate by 2030: some takeaways

Catherine gives us her analysis of the report that’s in the news and gives her views about what the real take aways ought to be.

5. Walking 10,000 steps a day won’t help you lose weight, but who would have thought that it would?

A study showed that walking lots won’t help first year university students lose weight. Walking lots did help them with stress and emotional well-being. Guess which thing got reported about? Sam was not happy but also not surprised.

6. “Motion is lotion”: why you should move when you’re sore

Cate on why moving is better when you’re hurt or injured.

7. I’m 53 and a half and I’m still menstruating: is this a good thing?

Cate’s 2018 post keeps on trucking on.

8. Burpees are bad for you? Wait? What?

Fitness trends change. Sam reports that burpees, once hot, are now not.

9. Nevertheless, she deadlifted 200lb

Cate’s 55th birthday reflections.

10. Bike seats, speed, and sexual depravity

Sam’s 2013 (!) post made it into the top ten by attracting a bunch of guys from a sub-reddit who were discussing sexual satisfaction and women who spend too much (?) time riding horses. (Their comments here prompted us deciding to turn off comments on old posts.)

Fire in a heart
fitness

Marching Forth…Okay, Maybe Dancing Forth

You know I love a short challenge so I’m back with a new one!

In March, I am going to stick with the yoga and I will be working my way up to 30 minutes of daily cardio.*

I’ve chosen to dance because while I may get frustrated by other forms of cardio and feel all fumbly, any lack of coordination I feel while dancing just makes me laugh. Laughing while exercising feels like good motivation to me. 🙂

On days that dancing isn’t feasible, I’ll take the dog for a longer walk.

A dog with light brown hair with a few white patches walks happily down a snow-covered road. She is on a harness leash.
This was right after Snowmageddon. Khalee did NOT mind.

Thanks to reading the 100 Day Reclaim, I  have identified some of my obstacles to daily exercise and so I am setting a nice low bar for myself for this month. 

  1. I need to make my choices in advance so I have created a YouTube playlist of 30 minute dance workouts and I will work through them in order. I haven’t arranged them in any particular way but I need to prevent dithering so I am just going to do the next one in the list.
  2. I will schedule each day’s workout the night before. It will always happen before 6pm but the exact timing will depend on my commitments for that day.
  3. The dance workouts will be my default but I can choose to be the person who walks the dog on a given day and that will count as a session.
  4. I will add a tracker in my notebook to note my activity, how much I enjoyed it, and whether I met the requirements for my lightning bolt on my fitbit. I’m already monitoring my blood pressure and my resting heart rate but I don’t expect any changes there in just 30 days.
  5. I’ll post a weekly check-in just to keep myself accountable.
  6. As Nia Shanks advises, when I run into a snag, I am going to go easy on myself. I’ll review this list and see what piece isn’t working and I will recalibrate accordingly.
  7. My storytelling heart hates to have an even numbered list so I am adding this final point to say that you are welcome to join me, if you are so inclined.
a middle-aged white woman    wearing a black shirt dances in a  green space with trees and a fence in the background.
In warmer times, here I am dancing in my backyard last summer.

*I’m recovering from a very minor surgery. I’m working my way up to 30 minutes so I don’t overdo things.

fitness

All the Winter Loveliness

The small school I teach at has a midwinter break of two weeks. Given the intensity of the level of work both before and after that break, I have learned it’s a good idea to take full advantage of it and try to stop working as much as possible while I have a chance. The best place for me to hide from the world is in Ontario’s near north where there is a family cottage I can use. I determined that I would do everything delightful while I was there. Basically, I have spent this week pretending I am Scandinavian. What does this mean?

Every Day in Nature:

It isn’t hard to achieve this as the place is nestled in the forest and perched on a little lake like the dreamy thing you imagine it to be. I wake up and stare out the window at my tree friend. One time this tree was struck by lightening and given that it’s only about 25 meters away from the building, I thank it for saving the house. I like to gaze at the scar that streaks down it’s trunk, sometimes for almost an hour while drinking coffee. It’s much better than what’s on Instagram, I swear.

A very happy yellow lab running across a snow covered lake
Shelby is all outdoors all the time

After coffee there is dog walk. Sometimes, that is the main event and sometimes, that is the thing I need to do before the main event. We tromp up into the forest where there is a well packed path and I watch her roll down her favourite hills. I rarely capture this one video because it’s way better live.

Being Social:

On this one I fudge a little. Very special humans get to come up here with me sometimes. Fellow blogger, Cate, was able to find a few days between all her running around and deadlifting and hip mobilizing and saving the world in small ways to come be with me here. The other ways I remain social is by text with friends and, while this gets me sucked into my phone sometimes in ways I hate, being totally isolated isn’t good for me. I’m also tracking a kid in Australia so that’s fun. I think talking to your dog about life and future plans totally counts as socializing. I’m not sure about the cat but he’s a good listener when he feels like it.

Embracing The Winter Sports

I was deliberate about this intention this time. I brought my downhill skis and my skates. There are snowshoes here and there is a place to go x-country skiing. I decided I was going to do every winter sport that was reasonably accessible for me while I was here, even if that meant I was doing it myself. I have never gone downhill skiing alone and I wondered what that would feel like for me. It turns out that it’s a good time, good enough that I’d do it again. I’m a rather good skier, which I kind of forgot about and flying around on the hills with only my own choices to contend with was rather liberating. It’s still a much better sport done socially but alone skiing is not bad at all.

Alone snowshoeing is also totally delightful and to be fair, I’m never really alone because, dog. I was rather glad, however, that the episode of snowshoeing that involved following random paths in the woods heretofore unknown to me was not alone, and that Cate had her cellphone and that she was gentle in wondering if we were going the wrong way, and that she doesn’t get mad at me when I insist it’s right and then it isn’t. So, we weren’t exactly lost but it’s a good thing we have grit. That was a lot of wandering around in the forest.

I’m also glad that we chose to skate together. There is a skate trail through the forest only 20 minutes from here that is a little magical. I had grabbed the skates in from the basement that looked like they fit me. I have no idea where they came from or whose they actually are. This, I think, is one of the most Canadian things ever, “Just go down the basement and take a look, there should be a pair that fits.” Unfortunately, that was a poor choice because they were not at all a good fit and I was wobbly and off balance and a little terrified. Cate was in her glory, however, and I persisted. I learned another rule of life, “Let someone else tie your skates for you” and things got a little better. It was a good time but if I had been alone, I would have been sad. Next time, I will just rent the skates, they seem a lot more comfortable, even if other people that I don’t know’s feet have been in them.

Hiking without snowshoes is the other staple activity up here. The shorter hike/dog walk doesn’t require them but it has it’s delights and challenges. The last time Cate and I were here we went on an 8k walk without snowshoes and we were exhausted and sore from all the wobbly walking and balancing. Cate also wore Very Bad Socks that ate her heel (Have you thrown those out yet? Throw them out!).

I chose to x-country ski on a perfect day, sunshine and a high of 4 degrees. I chose an easy trail and classic skis. I sailed along, rhythmic and without strain or stress. I could ramp up the intensity if I wanted to but I didn’t have to and then I recognized the feeling I was having. It was like biking! I have found a winter sport that is the equivalent of road biking! I am seriously considering buying some of my own equipment at the end of the season because I really want to be able to noodle around the lake like the old days. (The x-country boots in the basement are literally turning to dust so I think it’s okay to buy a new pair).

Being Cozy

All the Scandinavian countries seem to have their own version of this idea of snuggling up in the dark and the cold. It’s seems like an appropriate cultural evolution. My first night here, it was too cold to sleep in the bedroom so I just drifted off to sleep on the couch by the wood stove. It was the ultimate in cozy. I continue to be intentionally cozy every day here, whether it is snuggling human, dog or reluctant cat.

As I finish up this post, I’m aware of needing to leave this place in a few hours. It has been a joyful gift to be able to spend this week here tromping around and eating well and watching two seasons of Peaky Blinders. I am sad to have to go but content in having done all the things, every one of them. I’m watching the snow fall like fine mist and aware of lengthening days. Perfect winter.

The chair will wait for me
cardio · fitness · injury

Cardio without knees that work

Last week I wrote about the wonders of walking lots, even if it won’t help you lose weight. At the end of the post I promised to talk about cardio exercises for those of us who can’t walk very much at all. I can manage a dog walk with my knee brace but I’m pretty slow moving and nervous with my seriously arthritic knees. Stairs are okay going up but impossible coming down.

I walk sometimes just for the joy of being outside but it’s not my go-to fitness activity.

A wooded walking trail packed with snow, sunbeams coming through, trees casting shadows. Also, the front end of my dog Cheddar.

But also it’s winter, in Canada, and some of my fitness time these days is in the gym.

My go fitness activities at the gym used to include running on a treadmill and that’s completely out of the question now. So with the help of a personal trainer (hi Meg!) I’ve been exploring some new cardio machines at the gym. Rowing was already on my hit list and I’ve left out cycling altogether. You’ve heard me talk lots about that. Yawn. Sometimes I go to the gym and just do 5 min of each of the following things and then repeat. It’s not a bad routine. Also, these machines are usually free even at the busiest of times. That’s one advantage of not using treadmills, elliptical machines, and the like.

These won’t work for everyone as some of them involve standing.

My gym, the campus fitness center, has all of the following machines:

Hand cycle: You can do both steady state and sprints with these. It’s more work than you might think.

Ski-erg: This was completely new to me and it feels like a pretty good full body workout.

Jacob’s Ladder: I’ve blogged about that before here.

Rope machine

Rowing machine: I’ve spent a lot of time erging, as rowers say. It’s a terrific workout. It’s the thing to me that feels most like the treadmill in that I can do it for awhile and listen to music. I often start my workouts with a 2k warm up and then try to do a speedier 2 k at the end.

There are also non-machine options, like aquafit and swimming, but I’ll leave those for another day.

How about you? What do you recommend for cardio that doesn’t involve knees very much?

cycling · fitness

Bike trips wish list

Not that I’m counting, but it’s only 795 days until my next sabbatical.

795!
795!

Oh, I just realized: by the time you read this, it will be 794 days until my next sabbatical.

794! Even better!
794! Even better!

One of my favorite things to do, especially in late winter, is vacation planning. Even more enticing is the idea of a nice long bike trip. Now, I should say that I’ve not taken many of these. I’ve done loads of cycling, but no actual bike touring.

I'm shocked-- shocked, I tell you!
I’m shocked– shocked, I tell you!

This summer I plan to do some shorter bike touring trips to central Massachusetts and/or Cape Cod; they’re easily doable in a weekend. I’ve taken my bike to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend and ridden in other coastal locales. But I’m yearning to explore some other parts of North America on two wheels, and so am starting to look at locations for longer trips. Here are a few on my list:

The Natchez Trace Parkway: this is a 444-mile roadway that runs from Alabama to Tennessee. It is designated as a bike route, which means car speeds are reduced. There are no stop signs or traffic lights– all traffic on and off is by entrance and exit ramps, so there’s no cross traffic to worry about. And the countryside is beautiful, with hills and forests and streams and farmland. There are even special cyclist-designated campgrounds. I’d love to do it in early May; it would be a hot ride in summer.

Cyclist descending down Natchez Trace parkway in Tennessee, redbuds blooming.
Cyclist descending down Natchez Trace parkway in Tennessee, redbuds blooming.

Idaho Coeur D’Alene and Hiawatha trails (and some others) in Idaho and Montana: these trails are thrilling and scenic in part because of the many tunnels and train bridges that you get to ride over or through. And of course there are those mountains and forests. This isn’t a part of the US I know well; all the more reason to experience some of it from the handlebars. These trails are about 110 miles in total, but you can put together a much longer trip (which I think I would do). This is definitely on my to-do list for sabbatical.

The Coeur D'Alene trail. Wow.
The Coeur D’Alene trail. Wow.

The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, from Key Largo to Key West: this 106-mile route is partly bike trail, partly riding on the road, over lots of bridges and often in full sun for long periods. But at one end is Key West, and the other end is Key Largo!

Yes, I know they look the same. I don’t have a problem with that. Do you?

There is, I have to mention, a 7-mile bridge section that I hear is not so fun to ride; there’s a narrow shoulder, and cars are driving 60mph. But hey, it’s only 7 miles. I still want to do this ride, and maybe connect it to other Florida cycling. Or take this ferry from Key West to Fort Myers or Marco Island, and then cycling across the Everglades back to Miami. I want to convince some of my cycling friends to do this, as there are many features of Florida that are really enjoyable if you slow down to the pace of a bike.

So, cycling readers, what are some of the locations on your must-ride lists? I love doing advance planning for potential bike trips (almost as much as actually going… 😉

fitness

Is Age-Appropriate Dressing still a thing? I Hope Not.

One of the articles in my feed, recently, was titled “Age-Appropriate Dressing: How French First Lady Brigitte Macron, 66, Breaks the Rules. I won’t link to the article (in Zoomer Magazine), because it’s full of tired clichés. It compares the style of First Lady Brigitte Macron, 66, to Queen Mathilde, 46. It talks about the way First Lady Macron manages to look stylish and younger (imagine that with all of the resources at her disposal!) by “breaking the age-related dressing rules” compared to Queen Mathilde who must adhere to more rules expected of her station. My main thought was, “Is age-appropriate dressing still a thing?” I hope not.

I have heard all about the rules growing up:

  • women shouldn’t wear a mini skirt over the age of 35(at 47, 35 sounds so young for any such thought!)
  • for goodness sake, cut your hair short after 40
  • don’t be too trendy
  • don’t get a tattoo that you will regret when you get older (I am fairly certain that if I regret anything when I am older, it will have nothing to do with my tattoos!)

However, in 2020, aren’t we past such restrictive thoughts and opinions? What do these rules say anyway? Don’t embarrass yourself, don’t wear things that don’t “flatter” you, don’t wear something that shows too much, or too little skin, wear what society tells you is appropriate for your size. All to which I say, everyone should just mind their own business.

I admit, decades ago, I watched the likes of Stacey London tell women (men too, but mostly women from what I remember) “What Not to Wear”. Part of her schtick was “tough love” and “she wanted them to bring out their best selves.” A lot of her rules had to do with age. She even had a thing about the appropriate amount of metallic for your age.

I have known many women who have flouted these types of rules. Perhaps, that’s why I tend not to take them too seriously. But I wish I wasn’t the only one. I have nothing against a person feeling better about themselves. Feeling comfortable in their clothes, as though they are portraying the image they wish to portray. But it shouldn’t be based on your age, anymore than it should be about your size, gender or any other outwardly imposed factor.

Other than the realities of our mortality, can we all agree that age is just a number? How someone feels at any given age, is personal. How they wish to express that age, is personal. Similarly a body is perfect at any size for any fashion that feels right for the wearer.

I still hear people, sometimes friends, critique others for what they are wearing. “What was she thinking”, wearing something that short, low-cut, baggy, unflattering, etc. I find myself taken aback that they are concerned with what others choose to wear. Why would anyone care what someone else is wearing? Does it come from a place of the critic’s own insecurities, rather than a real concern for the choices of others?

I prefer to support people expressing themselves however they wish. How someone adorns their body doesn’t impress or offend me. What comes out of their mouth, their thoughts and feelings on life, how they treat people, that is where I prefer to direct my internal critic.

This topic, of course, got me thinking about “age-appropriate” dressing for working out.

Should there be rules when it comes to gym clothes? Running clothes? Again, no. I love working out at a gym where women of all ages workout. I love that women at this gym feel free to wear whatever makes them feel good, while exercising. Some wear baggy t-shirts or layers of sweatshirts (I sweat, just looking at them). Some wear a sports bra and shorts. Some women workout in a hijab. And what they wear is not related to their age.

There are practical considerations about what to wear while exercising. What will wick sweat away from my body, so I don’t get a rash, how hot am I going to get, and therefore, how many layers can I remove if necessary. I admit, I don’t feel totally comfortable working out in a sports bra, but that’s on me and my own insecurities. I usually have a tank top and leggings on (or tank top and shorts if running outside in summer).  But what anyone else thinks of my outfit at the gym or anywhere else, should be irrelevant. I would suggest that if anyone works out at a gym that has silly rules (such as women cannot workout in their sports bra, if they choose – and in peace), then they should find another gym.

I am inspired by people being themselves. And that includes how they choose to dress. In their teens, in their 80s, and every age in between. How do you feel readers? Do you think age-appropriate dressing should still be a thing?

Nicole Plotkin is a law clerk who loves to run, lift weights, snuggle with her husband and two dogs, and wears what she wants. She wants you to wear what you want too.

fitness

The satisfying skriitch of blades on ice

Susan and I went skating outside on Sunday, on a track at a provincial park that has caught my fancy ever since I first heard about it a few years ago:

Zipping around this track turned me into a joyful 10 year old. The ice was a little mushy in the unnaturally warm February day, the track only took about five minutes to skate completely around, and I was wearing clunky, too-big rented skates — but I was deeply joyful.

Two weeks ago, I skated on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa with my family, all of us delighting that my 15 year old niece’s first real job is as a maker of Beavertails in the iconic hut right on the canal. My youngest sister pushed my 3 year old nephew in his stroller — being a Canadian, he CAN skate, but he was tired. The rest of us just tootled along, cold air fresh on our faces.

I am trying to understand what it is about skating outside that gives me so much joy — especially when I never make any attempt to skate in my own city. Going around a rink, inside or out, doesn’t hold a lot of appeal — it just makes me imagine cold and sore feet. And I don’t really have the perfect skating clothes. (And my skates live in Ottawa, at my sister’s, along with my cross country skis. Although it’s a very Canadian thing to say “hey there are some skates in the basement that may fit you — try those.”)

So why is skating around outside so appealing? Well, first, I’m a pretty strong skater, and a speed skater in my fantasy life, and it’s fun to do things that I feel good at.

Skating under the trees, in the sun, is elemental — look at me being at one with the wilderness!

Skating is unstructured movement, with no time goals, or strava segments, or requirements — you skate to the point where you are kind of tired, and then you stop.

Even though my figure skating days were pretty rudimentary, skating has that flow of movement that feels like dancing, and that’s a very joyful sensation.

But more than any of this — I realized — I love the *sound* of skating. I absolutely love the scratch of blades on ice, the skritch of a sudden stop, the whoosh of the soft wind, the flow. Blades on ice is one of my most satisfying ASMR-like sounds — followed quickly by the sound of an ambient hockey game, with the sounds of wood striking the puck, puck thwacking the boards added to the scratching of blades.

(It turns out I’m not alone in this — you can find several ASMR channels devoted to blades on ice — skating inside, skating outside with wind, hockey with and without words).

All of this made me wonder about the sensory aspects of physical movement that we don’t pay a lot of attention to. I have written a lot about the pleasure I take in music while running, spinning or doing cross-fit — but I don’t think I’ve really gone deep into the role of the sensory pleasure I take in doing these things.

But when I pause and immerse myself in sense memory? I feel the CLICK that happens when bike shoe goes into pedal and I fuse into my bike frame.

I shudder at the silken second skin of my favourite lululemon workout tights fabric as they smooth over my calves.

I feel the secure sensation of tucking my boobs into a perfectly fitting, smooth-fabric workout bra.

I can conjure up the softness of the pale warmth of sun on my skin on a winter day, the pure flame of summer sun promising eternal warmth to my bare shoulders.

I can sense the knobby texture of an unpaved running path under perfectly fitting shoes, and the smoothness of my favourite yoga mat under my bare feet.

I hear the flick sound of a perfectly dipped canoe paddle as it tangoes with the water, the cinnamon lemon smell of a killaloe sunrise beavertail on the Canal.

Sensory aspects of moving my body that have nothing to do with performance, exertion or outcomes. Just the joy of being with the incidental things that come along with moving. The things we don’t notice that shape presence in our bodies.

What about you? What are the incidental sensory aspects of moving your body that give you delight?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives in Toronto and should apparently skate more.

walking · weight loss

Walking 10,000 steps a day won’t help you lose weight, but who would have thought that it would?

From the Independent: “Over the last few years, the theory that walking 10,000 steps a day has become popularised as the key to health and weight loss. However, according to a new study, walking 10,000 steps a day won’t actually prevent weight gain, or lead to weight loss.”

I don’t have a lot to say about this start to the story, except….

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THERE WAS A CONNECTION BETWEEN WALKING LOTS AND LOSING WEIGHT?

More on the study: The study took 120 first year university students, all women, and had them walk either 10, 12 or 15,000 steps a day, 6 days a week, for 24 weeks. They also tracked their weights and their calories consumed. On average, no matter what group they were in, the students had all gained 3.5 lbs which is the average amount of weight students typically gain during their first semester of school.

Again, my reaction….

Let me act shocked.

But here is the bit they don’t mention until the end of the story.

“However, the researchers did note that the increased steps meant an overall positive impact on students’ “physical activity patterns,” which they stated “may have other emotional and health benefits””

Why isn’t that the headline? It’s good news. Students struggle with stress and anxiety and all sorts of emotional and mental health issues when beginning university. Why isn’t that the focus rather than the 3.5 lbs they typically gain when confronted with stress and cafeteria style eating?

Probably my biggest complaint about health and exercise reporting is the emphasis on weight loss. If people do it for reasons of weight loss and then don’t lose weight, they quit. And then they miss out on all the real health benefits of physical activity.

I’m with Yoni Freedhoff (again): Exercise is the world’s best drug. It’s just not a weight-loss drug.

Let’s talk about the other benefits of walking lots. I’ve got a post in our drafts folder about the wonders of walking.

It starts like this: “Walking is obviously wonderful. You can’t blink an eye these days without some news about the wonders of walking flash by. It’s a radical act in fast paced world. Walking makes us wiser. It makes us healthier, happier, and brainier. Even philosophers are in on the act. Here’s five philosophers on walking and wisdom. Yet more, why walking helps us think. A few years ago Adam Gopnick penned, Heaven’s Gait: What We Do When We Walk which covers both contemplative walking and walking as a sport.”

So walking is wonderful. It’s not about weight loss. And that’s just fine.

More later about walking and my reflections on walking for those of us who can’t.

fitness · monthly check in

Sam’s monthly check-in: February’s ups and downs

First, the February good news. I’m counting down the days to spring. I’m loving the added evening light. There are days when it’s clear spring is happening soon.

It’s 23 days to spring and this is a photo of pink buds with green grass and a bright blue sky.

Also, February contains Valentine’s Day. And that’s a good thing.

Happy Valentine’s bitmoji

The rest of February is a mixed bag of feelings.

With my knee surgery within the year, I’ve been trying to push myself. I want to be in the best shape possible before it’s all knee rehab all the time. I’ve been watching another athletic friend go through the work that’s required in recovery and that was her goal. Go into surgery in fighting form. (Go Patty!) That’s my focus for the year.

My knee and knee surgery isn’t really bad or good. It just is.

But it’s also a challenge in that there a lot of things I just can’t do. Have I mentioned how much I miss running? Aikido? Soccer? CrossFit? Blerg. Yawn.

Here’s a green belt Aikido selfie from four years ago.

Aikido Sam selfie in dojo washroom mirror

But focusing on what I can do…

Mostly it’s strength training, yoga, and Zwift these days with the odd dog walk thrown in for good measure. There’s also a lot of tedious knee physio. That’s not a bad combo but by temperament I’m a Jill of All Sports.

Home yoga with Cheddar

It’s also a lot of balancing. Workout hard, let my knee recover. Gentle exercise, hard thing, rest. Repeat. I’m edgy about it. I want to bite peoples’ heads off when they say, listen to your body. (Sorry friends!) Our bodies don’t have singular messages. They don’t speak with one voice. My heart and lungs want to push harder. My knee says slow down. My strong core is ready for anything but again the knee doesn’t like quick, unexpected movements on unstable ground. Okay, so maybe I should just listen to my knee since that’s my focus for the year. But my knee isn’t always the most helpful voice. My knee says, nothing hurts on the sofa. Grab a book! We can wait for surgery with a backlog of unread fiction and pots of tea. Lots of Netflix to catch up on.

But I’m with Cate about the importance of movement. I’ve written before about life as a shark. Keep moving. Keep quiet knee. My brain knows what’s best.

Also, for the first time since this whole knee falling apart thing began I’m self conscious exercising in public. I’m noticing my incapacity more and feeling embarrassed. I shouldn’t have that attitude. I wouldn’t have it if others had the same disability. And then I get angry at myself for being so self-judgey. That’s not a very good mood cycle.

When I do Modo Yoga in the studio now I’m very conscious of my limitations. There are things I just can’t do no matter how modified. That’s you, hero pose. I can manage tree and eagle with my right leg as the sole leg but not the left. I imagine I can see people looking and wondering what’s up.

This month I went to my favorite lunch hour fitness class at work, the full hour TRX class plus a “playground” add on that’s like calisthenics. The regular instructor was away and instead we did a Tabata style thing with circuits and partners and there were a couple of things–like sprinting for 40 seconds and jumping jacks for 40 seconds–that I just couldn’t do. I felt rotten and I nearly left the class. Instead, I told the instructor about my knee and I did planks instead. I’m glad I stayed even though my abs are sore.

As you can tell even my mood has taken a hit. I’ve become crankypants Sam. This is not normal for me. My mellow disposition is somewhat legendary. It’s part of what makes me a good academic leader. I’m hard to ruffle and cheerful and generous by nature. I don’t work at it. It’s how I wake up. It’s who I am. But I’ve been realizing lately that it takes a certain amount of exercise to keep me that way. As other people have been counting up to some really big numbers in the 220 in 2020 group, I’m having to workout less than usual to keep up with knee issues and recovery.

Also, it’s been extra busy at work. If January feels like it lasted forever, February is the month that flew by.

Also, unlike January when I did a lot of riding, February has been all indoor riding. I think that’s been part of the mood issue. My plan is to get back on my bike and make some plans for summer riding.

So Sarah and I got out for some fat bike riding on the weekend. That was fun!

Fat biking in six photos

Sarah, Joh, and I have registered for the Ride for Heart. It’s 75 km pretty early in the season. We’re really looking forward to it.

You can cheer me up by sponsoring me here.

cycling · winter

Fat Biking: A Photo Essay (February 2020)

February hasn’t been an easy month. Check out this morning’s post for details. So when the weekend was sunny, warm, and snowy our thoughts turned to fat biking on local trails. Thanks Sarah for the nudge! It’s a thing lots of people are curious about. People love to ask questions about our bikes. And it’s not often a thing you get to do in warm-ish weather. I think it was -2 when we set out.

We started out on the trails that run along the river by the golf course near our house. We ran into a guy on a mountain bike who was just coming home from a 50 km ride in the snow. We chatted bikes for a bit and he took our photo. Thanks cyclist stranger!

The trails where there was a lot of traffic were wide and flat and the snow was pretty packed. We could ride along and easily get out of the way for the occasional dog walker we ran into.

But our first obstacle wasn’t far away. The bridge was out at our usual storm drain crossing.

Where’s our bridge?

We considered crossing by carrying the bikes–despite their size they’re pretty light–but we were both worried about the ice on the rocks. It looked slippy, also cold and wet if you fell. So instead we went up and over above the drain. That was an adventure. We both fell but no one got hurt. Just then two cyclists arrived from the other direction. One of them went across–he had a mountain bike–and the other fat biker rider like us went up and over.

That’s part of the fun of riding these bikes, figuring out what you can and can’t do. Also, ducking for tree branches.

Me riding away!

Here’s a skinny bridge we could have ridden over I suspect. But we both got off and walked our bikes across.

Here’s another bridge we didn’t ride over!

It’s after this stretch that things got interesting. Off the well trodden path, we were riding in some pretty narrow single track. And these bikes have pretty wide tires. More problematically if you stop at all it’s hard to get started again.

The snow off to the sides was soft and very deep. I think we each fell a couple of times into the deep stuff and then settled into walking our bikes for a bit. Eventually the path widened and there was more hard packed snow to ride on.

After a couple of hours of snowy trail riding, we exited the path and rode home on the roads. Last night we were both feeling a little worse for wear. The bikes are fun to ride but it’s very much a full body workout. We agreed that we need to work on not stopping! Also, less falling! And we need to practice starting again when we do stop. Also, less tire pressure would have been good for the softer sections.

It’s a ton of fun. If you want to give it a try and you’re near us they rent them in Horseshoe Valley. That’s where Sarah and I rented them for the first time. We blogged about it here. Later we went with Susan as a social outing for our bike rally team. Susan blogged about that trip. We’ve rented them at Tremblant and blogged it here. I’ve also rented a fat bike at Wildwood Conservation area and blogged about that too.

Got any questions? Send them out way!