fitness · monthly check in

Sam is checking in for March (late, because sad)

This post is delayed due to bad knee news and sadness writing about it. I seriously couldn’t even face thinking about it and I certainly didn’t want to write about it. But the news has kind of settled now and I’m doing okay.

Regular readers will know that these monthly check in posts have focused on my knee and getting ready for total knee replacement surgery.

In general, I’m a big fan of Canadian healthcare. I don’t mind waiting for non-urgent care. I’m pretty stoical about most things. But it no longer feels okay to be waiting for knee surgery.

Here’s Sam and her knees and her bike before all the talk of surgery even began. Photo by Ruthless Images.

I saw the sports medicine doctor who first referred me for surgery the other day, for the first time since June 2019. I saw the surgeon in person in August 2019 and we made plans. We talked about December 2020. That was a long time away then but I figured it would give me time to lose weight (recommended for easier recovery) and I could plan to take time off and have an acting dean in place for my medical leave.

Since then, August 2019, radio silence. Nothing. Nada. I emailed a few times. I phoned a few times. I read articles about the hospital in question putting all non-urgent surgery due to Covid. There were, for a time, weekly headlines about the hospital having covid outbreaks on surgical floors and about surgery cancellations.

So just a few weeks ago I gave in and reached out to the referring doctor. They took what seemed like dozens of x-rays of both knees. The diagnosis is unchanged–end stage osteoarthritis in both knees. There’s nothing there–no cartilage–just bone grinding on bone in both knees which feels about as good as that sounds.

The sports medicine doctor asked me what’s changed since we talked about my knees almost two years ago now. Well, the big bad news is that it’s now both knees. It’s no longer clear on some days which is the bad knee. They’re both bad. I used to tag blog posts about this issue Sam’s left knee. Sadly I need a new tag, simply Sam’s knees.

Better is that I’m walking okay. Not very far and not very fast. But I’m walking. I take Cheddar out two or three days a week and we can toddle around for 2 to 3 km without too much pain and suffering. (Don’t worry. He gets lots of walks. Other people walk him too.) And of course, I’m riding my bike lots.

The doctor said I could start again and get on a waitlist somewhere else. But I’m loathe to do that.

He said that the student athletes have been able to get surgeries right through covid. Seniors, however, were put off and now they have a backlog of frail, elderly patients who can’t walk around their house or get groceries. I’m in the middle. I’m not a 19 year old varsity athlete needing ACL reconstruction after injury. I’m not an 80 year old who can’t walk either. I’m just a 56 year old recreational athlete who wants to be able to go on longer walks (and snowshoe, and cross country ski, and skate) and not be in pain everyday.

I want to be able to go and do some of New Zealand’s Great Walks. More urgently, I’d like to be able to walk to work sometimes. I’d like to sleep through the night without knee pain. I’d like to take less ibuprofen.

In the meantime, I’ll be here, doing endless knee physio exercises and riding my bike. There are worse things than delayed surgery that have happened as a result of covid. No one in my house is sick. No one died. Some of us are even partially vaccinated now. As bad as things are in Ontario right now, I see the finish line and even though I’ll be limping over it, I’m excited to have the pandemic’s end in sight.

fitness

Body image, aging and the need for recognition (#reblog, #bloglove)

This week I turned 59. At another time in history I might find myself fretting over the fact that I’m nearly 60, hitting another decade, feeling the need to reassess or reconfirm my identity as still firmly connected to younger me.

This year, though, at this time in history, my feelings on turning 59 are different. They are gratitude that this body made it through an awful year of loss; hope, now that we have a vaccine (I got a J&J shot Friday!); and love for all the people and places that I’m connected to.

In this blog post from 2019, I wrote about some studies on self-image, bodies, and the experiences of aging. Take a look. I still believe what I wrote then. Two years and one pandemic later, though, I’m rethinking what it means to be seen as I age. I’m now including being seen as both vulnerable and valuable—yeah, I want people to see those things in me, too, as well as my contributions to the world.

I hope you all enjoy taking a moment to think about yourselves, your bodies, and what the past two years has meant for you in terms of what you want for yourselves.

-catherine

FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

Content warning: This post mentions studies on negative body image, suicidal ideation, self harm, and negative self-esteem.

Now to the post proper:

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland released a report recently about body image, which included a poll about how Scots feel about their bodies. It was covered in the news here.

The poll – which was published as part of a report “Body Image: How we think and feel about our bodies” – also found that just over on third of all adults said they have felt anxious because of their body image. 

And a quarter adults have felt “disgusted” because of their body image in the last year, while nearly a quarter said they had felt “shame”. 

The poll found that body image issues affected women more than men, with 11 per cent saying they have “deliberately hurt themselves” because of their body image, compared to 4…

View original post 423 more words

fashion · fitness · inclusiveness · link round up

Fit is a Feminist Issue, Friday Link Round Up #95, Inclusive Fitness Fashion

Today’s link round up focusses on fitness, fashion, and inclusivity.

Athleta’s Latest Launch Is The Inclusivity Push In The Fitness Industry I’ve Been Waiting For

“Those of us trying to be more active who don’t fit society’s image of what “health and wellness” looks like can often feel excluded. While the fitness industry has made strides in recent years, shopping for activewear can still prove challenging at times. I mean really, how can any of us be expected to start hitting the gym when it’s a challenge to even find workout gear that fits us? The double standard has been weighing on a lot of us for a really long time. But Athleta’s latest push for inclusivity is moving the needle forward.”

6 Women And Brands That Are Making Fitness More Size-Inclusive

“There’s no denying that a lot of work needs to be done to make fitness a happier, more fulfilling relationship for women everywhere, of any size. For so many women, diet culture has morphed movement from a joyful activity to an unsatisfying means to an end. Not only can this rob exercise of fun, but it also continues to make women (myself, included) feel pulled to move for the sake of shrinking ourselves. Luckily, there’s a growing movement of incredible women and initiatives leading the charge towards change. Through their own journeys of rejecting diet culture’s influence over fitness and embracing their bodies, they’ve nurtured a healthier relationship with movement that’s inclusive of all shapes and (finally) filled with fun.”

Sure they’re comfortable, but those leggings and sports bras are also redefining modern femininity

“In our own research, we argue that wearing activewear in public is a way of saying “I am in charge of my health” and conforming to socially acceptable understandings of femininity. In this sense, activewear (not to be confused with its less sporty “athleisure” offshoot) has become the uniform of what we might term the “socially responsible 21st-century woman.” Part of the appeal of activewear is that it is comfortable and functional. But it has also been designed to physically shape the body into a socially desirable hourglass female form.”

Attention Plus-Size Athletes: Superfit Hero Extends Their Size Run To 7X

“This week activewear brand, Superfit Hero, announced that they will phase out their smallest sizes – extra-small, small and medium – in favor of extending their size run through 7X permanently. The change starts with their newest collection, also released this week, which includes sports bras, leggings, and shorts in sizes 12 through 42.  CEO Micki Krimmel said in a statement that this decision came after extensive research that focused on the unique needs of plus-size athletes. During interviews, customers described many of their shopping experiences as “traumatic,” stating that “lack of access, inconsistent sizing, and ill-fitting, low-quality garments” led to a feeling of disenfranchisement. She says Superfit Hero wants to solve this problem.”

Can evil companies change their ways? Yes, that’s you we’re talking about Lululemon

“Me, I like their yoga pants and I guess I hope companies can change. We’re all works in progress, even Lululemon. And yes, capitalism and yes, co-opting. But there’s no pure path. This is the world we live and work in.”

I know it’s an ad but I like it, thanks Under Armour

“This looks, to me, like an inclusive ad done right. It’s not thin white women. They don’t have perfect bodies. They’re working hard and having fun. Count me in.”


fitness

Happy National Unicorn Day!, #NationalUnicornDay

Really!

A bright inflatable unicorn on a bright blue body of water. Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

How to observe National Unicorn Day? I know you’re wondering.

“There are several ways to celebrate this fun day. Try these fun ideas:

  • Make some brightly colored pancakes or cupcakes.  Decorate them with multicolored sprinkles or glitter.
  • Bake cookies in the shape of unicorns.
  • Watch a favorite movie including unicorns.
  • Draw a picture of a unicorn or write a story about one.
  • Read your favorite fantasy novel featuring unicorns.

We’ve also created a coloring page and a picture puzzle. Can you find the differences? Use the key to see if you find them all. Post photos on social media using #NationalUnicornDay”

Or, you can read old Fit is a Feminist Issue posts (below) with “unicorn” in the title!

Kayaking with Unicorns (and Children)

I’m no weightloss unicorn

When it comes to weight loss, aim to be an alpaca not a unicorn

What are the habits of weight loss unicorns?

fitness

Small steps, big gains

Last week I made a quilt. It wasn’t a quilt with a fitness theme, but I did get my fit on. I deliberately set up my cutting mat on a table quite far away from my sewing machine, and I positioned my ironing board equally far from both the mat and the machine.

The end result, I easily got my 10K steps in. I had previously noticed that when I spend time on housework, I get my 10K steps in be it going up and down stairs, carrying baskets or vacuum cleaners, cleaning, sweeping and the like. I tend to think of sewing as sedentary, but last weekend I realized the only sitting I did was when I bound the quilt.

The next day I felt in my shoulders the effort required to push three layers of a 70 inch by 50 inch lapquilt through the sewing machine. Upper body workout for the win!

I work as a writer so I am often at my laptop for long stretches. Generally though, I try to move around in between those stretches. I’m glad to find out that even without my regular workouts (suspended during this winter’s lock down), I’m reasonably active.

Now that the weather is better, I aim to get outside more frequently as a walk outside beats housework any day!

Luckily for us, lockdown has been lifted and I’ll be back training with my socially distant, but no less enthusiastic trainer this week.

fitness

Wear a mask, get a vax, part 2

This is part two of the FIFI blogger group’s current dialogue about anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers in the fitness community. Part 1 was Cate’s rant, published this morning.

So this happened: Quebec city gym linked to more than 400 cases of COVID-19, with one death possibly coming out of that cluster.

This comes just as we as a blog community are exploring anti-mask and anti-vax stances within the fitness community. I captured my own perspective about it this morning; here I’m sharing the voices of some of the rest of the FIFI bloggers.

Diane set the tone by reminding us that collective and communal action is a natural instinct, not confined to humans:

I listened to an interesting piece this weekend on gorillas caring for orphaned babies. If an 800 lb silverback male can care lovingly for a toddler gorilla, surely humans can do the same to ensure survival of the community. Because most individual humans don’t survive without their community.

Christine added to this:

There’s a great anecdote about anthropologist Margaret Mead that really reflects my feelings on how to be part of a community.

When asked about the first signs of civilization, Mead didn’t reference leaps in technology, she said that the first sign of civilization was a well-healed femur (thigh bone) because it was an indication that someone took care of an injured member of their group and helped them survive until they could take care of themselves. She went on to say that we are at our best when we help others.

I’m determined to be part of that kind of civilization, that kind of community. I’m not here to prove my individuality, I’m part of a team of people trying to make sure we’re all okay.

Being part of that community, for us, is about actually soldiering on through our own discomfort to protect both ourselves and others. Martha said:

I’m claustrophobic and do not like masks (can’t even bear facials) but I wear mine regardless because the science is there to support mask wearing along with social distancing, handwashing/sanitizing, and short interactions. I am tired of anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers riding on the coattails of people like myself who assume the small risk vaccines may pose for small groups of the population but do it anyway to create herd immunity. It’s not a personal choice.

Christine added:

I understand that there are people with allergies or trauma that can’t wear masks or get vaccinated and I’m not trying to make them feel bad. I consider my mask and vaccination part of the overall plan to keep those people safe.

Nicole said the same thing: Short answer: I’ll wear a mask and I’ll get vaccinated because I think we are all in this together and I’m not willing to risk someone else’s life because something is slightly inconvenient for me.

That short answer for Nicole came from a longer, thoughtful analysis of the relationship between fitness, fitness communities, science and her recognition of her own role.

I believe in fitness. I believe it makes me significantly more mentally and physically healthy in important ways.

I also believe that I improve my overall well-being by being conscious of the food I eat.

I believe in the community I’ve been part of over the years, working out in small gyms. We may have different backgrounds, different sizes, different political beliefs. But, we generally see the best in each other through shared movement combined with sweat.

I really feel for the small business owners who have been most affected by the pandemic. Gyms have been especially hard hit. It hurts to see people I care about struggling and filled with anxiety about their passion and livelihoods.

But, seeing some of these people fall prey to the conspiracy theorists and “wellness truthers” is more upsetting. I can’t feel anything but anger when I see some people share memes about taking Zinc over vaccines, or suggesting that the pandemic has been made up, when I can also see 47 year old teachers dying from Covid-19. When health professionals are crying out of exhaustion and frustration at the reactionary tactics used by our government.

I believe in good science. I believe in supporting health professionals working their asses off to get us to the other side of the pandemic. I don’t support suggestions that fitness is a substitution for vaccines or that closing a business is as bad as losing your loved one to this virus.

An immunologist friend of mine emphasized this point even further today:

There’s a commercial machine linked to fitness that promulgates a slew of untrue beliefs about the immune system, how it works, and how best to help it along. As an immunologist, this specific kind of nonsense particularly irks me. Not long ago I read the medical literature on the topic of yoga and the immune system; I found only a handful of papers that had measured immunity in any meaningful way after people had devoted time to yoga, the outcomes were contradictory, and the measures employed easy to do but only tangentially linked to real immunity. So when a newly qualified yoga teacher boldly asserted that yoga “boosts the immune system”, and when I raised a question was told that “studies have shown”, I actually read the studies. Studies have not, in fact, shown.

Sam reminded us that this kind of faux science has a huge price on the most vulnerable people in our communities:

I’m getting super frustrated by a line of argument that I keep hearing during the pandemic, sometimes in the context of masks, sometimes in the context of vaccination, and sometimes in the context of opposition to closing gyms. It’s that fitness is more protective than any of the other measures–masks, vaccination, closures–and that fit healthy people shouldn’t pay the price that the old, the obese, and those with underlying health commissions are imposing on society.

First it’s just false! Lots of healthy fit people end up in hospital sometimes with long lasting post covid effects. Second, disability and age aren’t matters of personal responsibility. We’ll all age no matter how many push ups we can do. But third, it doesn’t matter. This is a matter of collective responsibility. Even if you’re not at risk, others are and you ought to care about that!

How are you navigating this tension in the fitness world?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is also very tired of lockdown, but is doing her part.

fitness

Where does anti-vax/anti-mask rhetoric fit into the fitness community?

(This is part one of a discussion about vaccines and masks and personal choice and the fitness community; part two, voices from all of the FIFI bloggers, will be published this afternoon).

I got my first covid vaccine jab last weekend. It came on top of a week — a month? a year? — of massive fatigue. That fatigue hasn’t gone away — as my colleague said, “rest, and give your body a chance to adjust to its fancy new medicine.”

I don’t know if my fatigue is vaccine-related, or seasonal allergies or just the culmination of the crush of the pandemic, increasingly burnt out clients, another full provincial lockdown just announced today. But what I do know is that my vaccine wasn’t “a personal choice” – and neither was it some moral failing because I haven’t worked out enough.

Catherine wrote a post last week that alluded to Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ridiculous assertion that crossfit will protect her from covid. There is persistent, rising buzz of moralistic discourse within the fitness and wellness community that if we “eat clean,” take supplements, work out and otherwise “keep our immune systems functioning,” we don’t need vaccines.

This perspective is everywhere, nudging its way to the surface. My chiropractor told my friend, who is also her client, that she’s not planning to get vaccinated “unless they require it for me to travel somewhere.” People I like regularly post comments about vaccines being “a personal choice.” This perspective — which I’ve heard in many places — piggybacks on the notion that masks are a “personal choice” — and which then falls into the incendiary rhetoric that anyone who follows a mask mandate is a “sheeple.” (Which people flew onto our facebook page to post after Catherine’s post last week).

The anti-mask/anti-vax discourse tends to fall into four interconnected categories:

  1. “I’m not scared, YOU are, I shouldn’t have to adjust my life based on your fear”
  2. “I take care of my body, if you don’t that’s not my problem”
  3. “You’re not the boss of me”
  4. “Science is just one of many belief systems, and I trust a different belief system more.”

There is a fifth zone, more in the vaccine hesitancy realm, that I have a lot more patience with: “I’m not opposed on principle to vaccines, but I am uncertain about this one because of the speed /I have X condition and I’m not sure if this will make it worse.” That is a different animal, from my point of view. But the more overt anti-vax, anti-mask perspectives engender some serious impatience in me.

It’s true, I’m not the boss of you. And science IS imperfect. And I don’t like being bossed around either. But all of this comes down to the notion that something that has a profound collective impact — herd immunity, protecting people from random illness and maybe death — is an individual choice.

I wonder how all of those nose-dick maskers reconcile the fact that the covid test is LITERALLY A SWAB UP YOUR NOSE

My mother always said “my right to swing my arm stops where your face begins.” And I think we are in a space where many people literally don’t understand where each other’s face begins. We are literally in a place where we cannot control the swing of a potential virus flying out of our mouths (and noses, all you nose-dick maskers). If you aren’t managing that virus flying out of your face, it’s going to hit me in the face. And much as I WISH I could sheer will-away or hug-away or cross-fit away or vitamin-D and zinc-away the impact that virus is going to have on me, I cannot. I work out every day, I’m a fit person, I eat well, I take vitamin D and probiotics, I’m the person who insists on taking the stairs whenever I can — but I also have asthma, and every year for the past decade, except for this past year of isolation and harm reduction, I’ve had at least one virus that made me so ill I couldn’t function, and then lingered in the form of a cough for weeks and weeks.

I don’t think I have to talk about how ableist the notion is that if you’re just “fit enough” (i.e., moral enough, work hard enough), you don’t have to “choose” a vaccine. It’s ableist, it’s privileged, and it’s profoundly selfish. When I have to interact with the property manager of my building who refuses to wear a mask at all in his office, I don’t see a brave, independent man, I see a selfish, badly informed person I don’t trust to make decisions about the safety of our community. When I hear my chiropractor say she would only get vaccinated for her convenience of travel, I see someone I can’t trust to understand science. And who isn’t interested in protecting me as her client.

Basically, this is nonsense.

A fitness coach I used to take classes from posted this image about “the collective is not owed safety or protection at the expense of the individual” on her IG feed. I suspect the people who ascribe to this kind of nonsense don’t think their way through it. Do they believe that the individual desire to drive on any part of the road supercedes the collective decision that roads go in agreed-upon directions? To drive 200 km an hour on the city streets, regardless of how many little collectives of children there are trying to cross? To not expect the collective health and knowledge system to scrape them up and put them back together when they crash? Do they believe that the collective norms about defecating in the street are just individual choices, and it’s a matter of free will whether or not to just poop on the sidewalk in front of their houses?

Understanding anti-masking and anti-vaxxing is complex. The Lancet published an excellent piece recently suggesting that there is a lot to learn from cults about creating dialogue with anti-vaxxers. They encourage us to approach what feels like irrational faith with understanding. When I do that, what I hear is fear. Anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are afraid for their health, like everyone, and they’re afraid of the unknown. My perception is that if they frame masks or vaccines as a choice, they don’t have to acknowledge how little personal agency we truly have when faced with biology, with viruses. With death. And with our own mortality.

I’m old enough that my covid vaccine went into my arm just underneath the faint scar I still have from the smallpox jab I had when I was 3 or 4. I’m among the last cohort who had to get a smallpox vaccine. Because vaccination eradicated it, through individual recognition of collective responsibility and social accountability.

Where we are right now is a hard, fatiguing, tiring place. There are reasons why some people can’t wear masks, and why some people can’t get vaccines. This current round of vaccines is an evidence-based experiment that does carry some risk. I’m not denying that. But we are a community. A fitness community, a community of citizens, a community of fragile, vulnerable and brave humans. Wherever we can, we have to take on some risk for the benefit of the whole.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who had a lot to say on this topic. This is her vaccine selfie. Stayed tuned for more on this topic in many voices this afternoon.

fitness · health

Pushing for Equality on World Health Day

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated April 7 as World Health Day and calls for us all to reflect on health, the conditions need for good health, health care, and access to that care.

The theme for 2021 – Building a fairer, healthier world – is about recognizing that good health and good health care is something that everyone deserves, not just some people in some places.

This is, obviously, a complex issue. We could (and do!) have a lot of discussions about what ‘health’ means and we could (and do!) discuss the myriad of ways that bias and prejudice affect access to health and health care, even in the wealthiest parts of the world. But the complexity of the issue doesn’t mean that we cannot begin to address it.

I like how the World Health Organization has structured this year’s campaign to both acknowledge the inequalities and to call on the world’s leaders to improve access to health care.

Their phrasing about the unequal access to the conditions for good health applies just as much to changes needed for health care in remote villages as it does those needed to assist a marginalized person seeking health care in a wealthy city:

This [inequality] is not only unfair: it is preventable. That’s why we are calling on leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions that are conducive to good health.  At the same time we urge leaders to monitor health inequities, and to ensure that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them. from the World Health Day website

Image description: a poster with a light blue background featuring a  sketch of an exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads "hello world.  we agree that health is a right, not a privilege. it's time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere." The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image.
Image description: a poster with a light blue background featuring a sketch of an exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads “hello world. we agree that health is a right, not a privilege. it’s time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere.” The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image. Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

While their campaign extends to equity in health care of all kinds, there is also a special focus on access to resources and treatments to fight COVID-19.

From their website: “COVID-19 has hit all countries hard, but its impact has been harshest on those communities which were already vulnerable, who are more exposed to the disease, less likely to have access to quality health care services and more likely to experience adverse consequences as a result of measures implemented to contain the pandemic.

Image description: a black background featuring a  sketch of a blue exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads "hello world.  we must make covid-19 vaccines tests and treatments available to all. it's time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere." The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image.
Image description: a black background featuring a sketch of a blue exclamation mark enclosed in a circle. The black and white text reads “hello world. we must make covid-19 vaccine tests and treatments available to all. it’s time to build a fairer and healthier world for everyone everywhere.” The World Health Organization logo is in the bottom right corner of the image. Source: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

There are lots of groups and activists who have been raising awareness and taking action on these issues throughout the world. Still, the general perception is that health (and access to proper health care) is an individual issue/problem or accomplishment. In that system of thinking, individuals are blamed or judged for their health status.

I hope that this campaign and others like it helps more people to see the systemic issues and misguided policies that fuel the inequalities in health and health care around the world.

Since this issue is so complex, and since the call is to world leaders rather than to individuals, it seems difficult for one person (especially those of us with little political clout) to take any action to make a difference.

But, just like with any change, we have to start small.

If you know of a resource, a petition, or an organization that is seeking change in access to healthy living or working conditions for people anywhere in the world, or if you know of one that is working for change in health care access, please share it in the comments so others can find out about it and take whatever action they can.

feminism · fit at mid-life · fitness

Moving for Me, #podcast

It feels like months ago. Maybe it was. I’ve lost all sense of time in the pandemic. I was interviewed for a new podcast, Peace by Piece.

What’s Peace by Piece all about? “While we don’t always see it, gender-based violence is all around us. At Anova, we believe in a future without violence. But what does a future without violence look like? How do we get there? Peace by Piece is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Dr. AnnaLise Trudell. In this podcast, we have meaningful and educational conversations with experts and innovators about what makes a world without violence.

In each episode of Peace by Piece, we identify tools and approaches that breakdown gender-based violence, unpack the systems that perpetuate violence, and piece together how we can confront and stop gender-based violence all together.

Episodes range between 45 minutes and an hour and are available on all major podcast listening platforms.”

Here’s their blurb about the episode I’m in,” Tune in to our chat with @SamJaneB, co-founder of @FitFeminists about feminism & how fitness can & should be for everyone, no matter their age, size, gender, or ability! Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or visit: http://anovafuture.org/podcast/

camping · cycling · fitness

Planning our bike packing trip with the bob trailer

Bob trailer

Bike packing is all the rage these days. In part, because in pandemic times, it’s a completely independent outdoors thing we can do. It also follows on the heels of the gravel bike trend since those bikes are perfect for mixed surface roads, camping, and carrying stuff.

I’ve done it in the past on rail trails, camping along the way, but it’s been a few years.

This summer we’re trying it again. To help with back country camping trips with our canoe and my bad knees we bought some lightweight camping gear that will also work well for bike packing.

Come June Sarah and I are heading out on the Simcoe Loop Trail: “The Simcoe County Loop Trail is a 160-kilometer loop that travels through nine municipalities, reaches three major bodies of water, including Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe, and Lake Couchiching. And, it is primarily on off-road, multi-use rail-trails! The route is flat, scenic and available as a multi-day tour.”

The plan is to park in Barrie and bike 40 km to Mara Park where we have a camping reservation

On Day 2 we’ll ride from Mara Park to Midland, 60 km ish where we’ve booked a bunkie.

And then on Day 3 it’s back to Barrie, 60 km.

On our gravel bikes with stuff we’re not that speedy–covering about 15-20 km/hr.

Long time readers will remember an earlier appearance of the bob trailer. Jeff and I used it with our road bikes on our biking holiday on Manitoulin Island. That time we didn’t camp and it was just used for clothes etc. This time we’ll be taking tent and sleeping bags etc. I’ll carry clothes etc in my bike panniers.

Do you do any bike packing? Any hints for us? Tell us your bike packing stories in the comments below.

Simcoe Trail booklet