camping · canoe · charity · covid19 · cycling · fitness · fun

Plans? Do we even get to have plans? Sam nervously makes some anyway

A friend posted asking about 2021 plans and then said, “Joking. It’s 2021. Do we even get to make plans?”

To do list: Nothing

And I agree plans feel a lot more tentative this year. In the third week of January last year and the year before that, I was riding my bike in the Clermont area of Florida. This January there’ll be no travel.

It’s been a long blurry year of cancelled travel plans starting with, for me, the cancelled Pacific APA in San Francisco and attached vacation. Followed by a big trip to Melbourne cancelled. All of my summer bike holidays and charity rides were likewise cancelled. I did four charity rides, all either solo, with Sarah, or on Zwift. Two weddings, cancelled. You get the idea.

And in light of all the illness, unemployment, loneliness, overwhelmed hospitals, and death it feels a bit off to complain about not being able to make 2021 cycling plans.

I’m grateful for Zwift, don’t get me wrong. But still, I’m making some plans. They’re just more local and much more tentative. What makes them plans and not mere hopes? They involve things like registration forms and reservations, time booked off work.

We know there are vaccines, and that’s good, even if the timeline for things like races, group bike rides, and travel are still uncertain.

In January in addition to TFC team time trials and our Monday and Friday races I’ve agreed to take part in series hosted, on Zwift, by Team Vegan. You don’t need to be a vegan to take part. They’re hosting the series in the same way that TFC hosts a series. They’re the organizers.

Team Vegan racing

I’m also committed to Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day yoga journey Breath.

In February, Sarah and I have booked yurts in a provincial park to go cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and fat biking. Some adult kids might come along and winter camp. We’ll see. I’ve committed to taking vacation even if I can’t travel very far away.

In March and April, in early spring, before it gets busy, I’d like to finish the Guelph to Goderich rail trail.

In later spring, we’ll be back out Snipe racing on Guelph Lake. Whee!

Come summer we’ve also committed to spending more time at Sarah’s farm in Prince Edward County. What’s perfect is that there are two houses on the property, loads of lovely biking nearby, and a swimming pool. Even if close up visits with friends are still restricted we can host people in the other house and socialize outside. BBQ time!

We’ll also book some Algonquin canoe camping trips. Again, they’ll likely go ahead even if travel in general isn’t recommended. We do back country camping and there aren’t too many other people around.

I’m really hoping that the Friends for Life bike rally goes ahead in person this year. You can sponsor me here.

Jeff is also heading east on his new boat Escapade to Nova Scotia and there’s some talk of visiting there once he’s settled with the boat. That crosses the line from “plan” to “hope” for me since it relies on not having to self isolate after traveling east, assuming we’re even allowed into Atlantic Canada’s bubble. You can follow his boating adventures here.

Oh and for added uncertainty that’s not pandemic related, all of this is dependent on the date for my knee surgery. I’ll need recovery time after. I was hoping for December 2020 but that didn’t happen. With the hospital it was to take place in cutting back on non-essential surgeries due to covid, it might be awhile.

I’m trying to be flexible and not too nervous.

Wish me luck!

He he he he he

How about you? Are you making any fitness related plans for 2021? Plans in general still on hold?

birthday · charity · cycling

Some days even I’m a completist…

Three years ago I wrote about not being a completist and about blogger Cate and accountant/duathlete Cathy who are. See Are you a completist? If so, you’ll wonder why Sam didn’t go for a short Sunday night bike ride!

Yes, this Sunday night, just home from the farm and a long drive from Prince Edward County, here I am just getting off my bike having ridden an oddball number of kilometres on the trainer. Why, you ask? It’s a reasonable question.

Again, weekly distance goals on Zwift that were almost, but not quite, met. My goal is to ride 100 km a week on Zwift. This week, I had done almost that (94 km or so) plus 50 km in Prince Edward County, the last of my summer charity rides, Pedal for Parkinson’s. But those were outdoor kms and they don’t count on Zwift.

You can sponsor me here by the way. I’m still a few hundred dollars away from my goal.

But likely the weekly Zwift distance goal wouldn’t have gotten me back on the bike.

However, tomorrow is also my birthday and I have a tradition of riding my age in kilometres on the weekend nearest my birthday. I’d ridden 50 but I am turning 56.

Back on the bike!

I chose to ride in virtual France. I kept going after 6 km had passed, just because. It’s very pretty virtual scenery.

Now I can call it a week. I’ve ridden more than 100 km on Zwift and my age in kilometres.

Night night!

Person standing by a bike at sunset. Photo by Robert V. Ruggiero on Unsplash.
charity · cycling

Sam, Sarah, and Susan are Pedaling for Parkinson’s

You can sponsor me here.

“This summer I am taking part in Pedaling for Parkinson’s – a cycling event that was created to raise awareness about Parkinson’s and raise funds for research. Your donations support the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Research Grant and the Parkinson Canada Research Program.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. Currently, there is no cure. The need is only increasing. More than 25 Canadians are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every day; more than one person every hour. By 2031, the number of people living with Parkinson’s in Canada will more than double. Your support fuels the increasing need for research to improve quality of life and ultimately find a cure.

With your support we can help Parkinson Canada realize their vision of a better life today for Canadians living with Parkinson’s; a world without Parkinson’s tomorrow.”

To hear about the blog’s connection to Parkinson’s and raising money for Parkinson’s research, you can read Susan’s 2019 post on pedaling for Parkinson’s and her 2017 post on embracing life on a bike as someone with a diagnosis of Parkinson‘s.

charity · cycling · fitness

The year the bike rally went virtual and Sam and Sarah rode 600 km mostly on the trainer

The Friends for Life Bike Rally is a very big thing around the blog. Lots of us have done it in one version or another! Me, frequent guest Sarah, sometimes blogger Joh, Susan, Cate, Catherine, Natalie…

For me it all began in 2014 when I rode the 600 + km to Montreal with David (and a few hundred other riders.) You can read an accounting of the rally over the years here.

But this year? The bike rally, like lots of other charity rides, was forced to move to a virtual format. It’s not just a ride of course. It’s first and foremost a fundraising event for a very important cause. Here’s their description, “The Rally is the only volunteer-led, week-long ride that brings people together for an inclusive, supportive, and life-changing challenge that inspires much-needed help for people living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto, Kingston and Montréal.”

According to this CBC story charities that rely on sporting activities stand to raise a lot less money.

What it was: 6 day, 660 km ride from Toronto to Montreal (with 1 day and 3 day options)

What is now? 90 day challenge to ride for either 600 minutes or 600 kms.

I did it mostly indoors on my trainer. And while I love Zwift, indoor riding just didn’t compare to the comradery that is the bike rally. We used an app that tracked our miles. I’m the pink unicorn below. Go me!

How to sponsor me: Here!

Sarah got home from our canoe camping trip last night only to notice it was the last of the 90 days and she was a few kilometers short of the goal. A lesser person would have done it in the morning but not Sarah.

She posted to Facebook, “Okay friends. I just got back from 6 days canoe camping in Algonquin Park. When I got back, before I even showered, I set up my bike on the trainer and rode the remaining 2.8 km of the 600.3 km Friends for Life Bike rally as today was the last day to complete the virtual version.

Here’s a link to my fundraising page if you’d like to send a few bucks my way in support of the wonderful work of Toronto PWA :

http://pwaevents.org/SarahRides

accessibility · charity · cycling

The power of bicycles in changing the world for girls and women

See Wheels of Change: The Impact of Bicycle Access on Girls’ Education and Empowerment Outcomes in Rural Zambia.

“Previous evidence suggests that providing bicycles to school girls reduced the gender gap in school enrollment in India, but little has been known about the impact of bicycle distribution programs in sub-Saharan Africa and whether such programs can increase girls’ empowerment. In rural Zambia, researchers partnered with World Bicycle Relief (WBR) to evaluate the impact of bicycle access on girls’ educational and empowerment outcomes. The study found that the bicycles reduced commute time, increased punctuality to school, and reduced the number of days girls were absent from school by 28 percent in the previous week. The program also improved measures of empowerment, including girls’ sense of control over the decisions affecting their lives (i.e., their “locus of control” increased). Researchers did not find evidence that the program impacted school dropout or grade transition. “

Everyone loves this Susan B. Anthony quote: “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Here on the blog we tend to think of the connection between bicycles and feminism as a historical thing. I’ve written lots about that and I’ve given quite a few academic talks on the connection between the history of feminist activism in the west and the history of bicycles. See my post about the anti-bike backlash of the late 1800s here:  Bicycles: Making good women go bad since the 1800s.

However, bicycles are still playing a role in improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. In many parts of the world, the choice is between biking and getting a drive from parents. But in many other parts of the world it’s the possession of a bicycle that makes getting to school possible at all. Often girls don’t have access to bicycles (and as a result, schooling).

Related posts:

Wadja: A girl, her bike, and her dreams

Will bike riding in Saudi Arabia change the way women dress?

Give the girl a bike!

As an orphan living with her grandmother in Zambia, 12-year-old Tamara has a simple life, but not an easy one. See how her story changes with the power of a bicycle. http://worldbicyclerelief.org/power
charity · cycling · fitness

Sam’s summer schedule of charity bike rides

Ride for Heart

What it was: I signed up for the June 7th, 75 km, ride in Toronto. A highlight is Don Valley Parkway closed to traffic. Riding with Sarah and Joh.

What it was given covid-19?: Sarah and I rode on our own and posted photos, #virtualrideforheart

Sam and Sarah stopped beside the road

How to sponsor me: Here

Manulife Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart

Tour de Guelph

What it was: I was going to do the 100 km route, touring Guelph countryside with food and road support.

What is now?: You choose your route and ride either alone or with someone you live with, share photos online.

#TdG2020

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and in adherence with current physical distancing recommendations, Tour de Guelph 2020 will not be held in its usual single-day event format. Instead, we welcome all new and past riders to register, fundraise, and complete one of our Tour de Guelph routes on your own, making sure you are physically distanced from other riders, any time on or between the fourth Sunday of June, 2020 and the fourth Sunday of July, 2020, (Sunday June 28th, 2020 to Sunday July 26th, 2020). Take a photo of yourself on your ride and email it to us, we’ll post it in a special online photo album. Please also share your pictures on social media using #TdG2020.”

How to sponsor me: Here

Tour de Guelph June 28 - July 26

Friends for Life Bike Rally

What it was: 6 day, 660 km ride from Toronto to Montreal (with 1 day and 3 day options)

What is now? 90 day challenge to ride for either 600 minutes or 600 kms

How to sponsor me: Here!

Pedal for Parkinsons

What it was: July 10-12, riding in Prince Edward County

What is now? We might still be riding! The new date is August 28-30, 2020.
Milford Fairgrounds

Join us one, two or all three days as part of a community bound by cycling and a commitment to support everyone impacted by Parkinson’s.

P4PinPEC is a three day Charity Bike Ride. 100% of donations raised will go towards Parkinson’s Disease research. Riders can choose to ride 1, 2, or all 3 days. Each day there will be different route lengths available. Along each route there will be Rest Stations stocked with amazing goodies.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/PedforParkinsonsinPEC/

How to sponsor me: details to come

Pedaling for Parkinson's in PEC - Prince Edward County Guide
charity · cycling

Riding lots in May, venturing outside in June. Wish me luck!

You can see from the pictures above–screenshots of my various bike tracking devices–that I’ve been riding lots indoors. If you’re a Strava person, you can follow me here. I’m on Zwift here.

Samantha Brennan (TFC)

In May I wrote about my decision to keep riding inside. See Why Sam is still riding inside even though the sun is shining. But in June I’m venturing outside!

Sarah and I are riding the the Ride for Heart, 75 km. It was supposed to be 75 km with a thousand or so other riders and runners on closed downtown Toronto streets including the Don Valley Parkway. Instead, we’ll be riding here in Guelph and taking photos and posting them to Twitter and Instagram, #rideforheart. I suppose the upside is that it was supposed to be at 7 am. Instead, we’ll likely leave at at a leisurely 10 or so.

I’ve been thinking lots about how to do it safely. Here’s a guide to re-opening bike rides with some tips. We’ll bring our own stuff–food, drink, and things to fix flats. We won’t be reckless speed demons. I’m saving that for Zwift! We have someone at home to call for a ride in case something worse than a flat befalls our bikes. Hi Mom! I’m bring a mask in case something unexpected happens. All of that said, I’m still a bit anxious about it. I have re-entry nerves, I guess.

So far I’ve raised $399 and I’m aiming to raise $1000. You can sponsor me here.

I’m hoping I still feel like this when I ride off on my bike on Sunday. Wish me luck!

charity · cycling

Sam is riding virtually, please sponsor her generously!

Unsplash | Heart iphone wallpaper, Neon wallpaper, Neon light ...
Neon red heart from Unsplash

“This year, I am fundraising for the Manulife Heart & Stroke Virtual Ride for Heart, in support of heart disease and stroke research. That research is more critical than ever right now, as emerging data confirms that people with heart disease and stroke are at a great risk for developing serious conditions if infected with COVID‑19. Heart & Stroke estimates that people with heart conditions are four times more likely to die from COVID‑19 than patients with no underlying conditions.

I’m pleased to learn that Manulife is TRIPLING donations during the month of May*. It’s a tremendous opportunity to TRIPLE your impact and make a difference when it’s needed most. Every donation counts and will be TRIPLED to help those who are especially vulnerable right now.”

You can sponsor me here. I had registered for the 75 km bike ride, Sunday, June 7th. My new goal is to ride 75 km that weekend, either indoors on my trainer or outdoors on the road, weather and life depending.


advertising · body image · charity · fitness · kids and exercise · Martha's Musings · trackers

Kids and fitness trackers: the holiday edition (not)

 

TW: weightloss mentioned; negative self talk examples included.

By MarthaFitat55

Almost two years ago this March coming, I wrote about targetting kids for weight loss campaigns and fitness trackers. The nutshell: not a great idea because kids are vulnerable.

I was reminded of that piece when this article came across my feed describing how UNICEF, the United Nations children’s fund has developed a tracker that allows kids to feed other children when they reach certain step goals.

I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.

North American kids — largely affluent, well fed, and probably mostly white — are being told use this tracker and you will feed the poor somewhere else.

You can’t escape the irony here; the colonialist, patriarchally coated irony of having privileged kids walking their walk to good works.

danielle-macinnes-d9IFdsA1HIA-unsplash
Images shows young white female-presenting child looking at a quarter cupcake on a plate.  Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Article author Angela Lashbrooks says this about the idea: A punitive or even rewards-based system to encourage young people to move more won’t be effective in the mid or long term, and could cause or worsen obsessive thoughts and behaviors in some kids.

That’s because there isn’t a lot of good evidence showing trackers work with kids and teens:

One 2019 study found that teenage subjects actually became less likely to engage in moderate or vigorous physical activity after five weeks of wearing a Fitbit. It suggested that the tracker appeared to weaken the inherent motivation and self-determination needed to compel kids to be active. Another study, from 2017, saw similar results: After an initial surge in interest in exercise spanning a few weeks, the kids mostly stopped engaging with the trackers and actively resisted them, claiming that they were inaccurate and therefore not trustworthy.

While our kids on this continent are mostly sedentary and we should be concerned with the amount of screen time they engage in, getting kids to wear trackers and get their fitness on by appealing to an altruistic goal is problematic.

Kids follow what they see. Kids also know when they are being gamed. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up on Christmas morning and discover a tracker under the tree. Given all the negative messages we send out about size and what fitness looks like, I can see the thought processes now:

Parental units gave me a tracker! Trackers are used by people who want to lose weight. Parents must think I need to lose weight. Parents must think I am fat. Fat people are ugly. Parents must think I am ugly. Parents won’t love me if I’m fat. Parents won’t love me anymore if I don’t lose weight. …

Unless a tracker is something the child has spontaneously on their own expressed an interest in, there are better ways to get your kid engaged in fitness than planting this kind of non-gift under the tree.

If you want to focus on a healthier, more active lifestyle, buy swim passes for everyone. Or sign them up for that bike repair workshop so they can fix their bikes on their own. Or plot walking routes in your community and track the steps as a world wide adventure.

If social action is on your list of things, then talk as a family about supporting community agencies who help vulnerable kids and families throughout the year and not just in holiday season. This article offers some great insights into why giving should be a daily thing and not a holiday one-off.

Gifts that focus on self-improvement aren’t really gifts in my opinion. They are projections of your own desires. How about you? What do you think would be more appropriate for gift giving?

MarthaFitat55 is not a fan of self-improvement gifts for any occasion. She gets her fit on through walking, swimming, yoga and powerlifting. But not all at once.

body image · charity · men

Would a mom bod + rescue dogs calendar sell? Why not?

Image credits: Lucky Bulldogs Rescue

Dad bods and rescue dogs! I love this calendar so much. You can read more about it here. You can order your calendar here. I’m tempted.

But still I wonder, why not a mom bod calendar? (I’ve wondered about this before. See The dad bod? Fine. But what about the mom bod? )

The calendar was shot by the shelter’s volunteer and board member, Lyndsey Wright. And she’s commented on the ‘mom bod question.’

Here’s a quote from the interview in Bored Panda.

Says Wright: “Some have made comments about why we don’t include “Mom Bods,” but that answer is pretty simple in my opinion… This calendar is about the dogs; the Dad Bods are just included to make it comical and unique. I can’t imagine a Mom Bods & Rescue Dogs calendar would be very well received by the public. This was just a bunch of regular guys who are friends or clients of mine who were up for poking a little fun at themselves and helping me out for a good cause. It wasn’t meant to be a body positivity thing, it was meant to be a dog thing with a funny twist,” the photographer explains.

So her answer is that it wouldn’t be seen as gentle or funny. Instead, it would be seen as political, as a body positivity thing. I’m not so sure. And why would a body positivity/mom bod calendar be a bad thing? I’m still mulling.

What do you think?

It’s like I love this ad for Southern Comfort but when I wrote about it here I wondered if we could even imagine a version with an older woman with a non-normative body.