accessibility · fitness · inclusiveness

Moving back into the world but who are we leaving behind?

Today I posted on Twitter.

And then Pandemic Dark Dance posted to Facebook, “Tomorrow Night… Hopefully the last online Pandemidarkdance for a long while. I fully expect all 600-some members to login for it. We can’t take 600 requests, but we can take a few. You got any? Next Thursday (17th) we’ll be back in the Owls club, like olden times… Like nothing had ever happened… save for the vax check, tea-light squares, and the entry and exit wearing of masks…”

So we’re moving our fitness lives back into the world and the online options are closing down. Mostly (see above) I’m thrilled about that. I’m back at the gym I’m doing in person yoga again.

But who is being left behind?

I’m struggling with this in the university context too, trying to balance accessibility concerns, with wanting to be back on campus for in person learning.

It’s not just about being high risk for covid, or having perfectly reasonable concerns about social gathering when the pandemic isn’t over. There are also disability access needs that have been met during the pandemic. In addition, there’s the rural/small town/big city divide. I remember, in the early days of social media, when online friends in big cities would talk about getting off LiveJournal or Friendster or Facebook in favour of in person friends in the real world. I’d point out that their real world looked different than mine. I didn’t have the same access to in person events that they did.

So too with Dark Dancing.

What is Dark Dancing anyway?

Elan blogged about it here.

From the No Lights, No Lycra page:

“WE DANCE IN THE DARK IN MORE THAN 75 LOCATIONS AROUND THE WORLD AND WE’VE BEEN DOING IT SINCE 2009! We turn off the lights and crank up the tunes to release our inhibitions, move our moods and work up a wild sweat – all completely sober. We are mums, dads, students, lawyers and baristas, from 12 to 100 years old. We all have one thing in common; in the dark we come alive, shake the blues away and get lost in the music….We grew from a small gathering in Melbourne into a global community, simply because joy is contagious, and people love to dance. Lights Out, Let’s Dance – there’s room for you on our dance floor. 

When the pandemic hit, dark dancing took off in peoples’ homes. If you use Spotify there are more than 300 No Lights No Lyrca playlists. I can’t dance due to my knees but these playlists have saved my life on the bike these past two years.

So as Dancing in the Dark returns to clubs, that’s great I guess. But what about those of us who don’t live in Toronto, New York, or London or who are choosing to stay out night clubs until the pandemic is gone for good? Or what about those people who dance in bed, or in their wheelchairs, for whom the night club, even sober, might never have been a real option?

I was happy to see that some dark dancing groups are running hybrid dance parties, in the club in whatever city they are in and on Zoom and or YouTube as well.

And I’ll be curious to see where we land in terms of hybrid forms of participation.

Dancing gif

How is this working out in your online fitness world? Are you losing online fitness options? What do you think we ought to do to keep online and in person fitness communities going? How is hybrid working out, if your communities are going that route?

body image · fitness · inclusiveness · strength training · weight lifting

Inclusion in Bodybuilding and Gym Culture: An Interview with Michael Collins

In this interview (part 1 of 2), Michael Collins compares bodybuilding competitions to Kiwanis music festivals, and describes his desire to be the “Julia Child of weightlifting.” Find Michael on Twitter: https://twitter.com/erlking.

How did you get into bodybuilding and gym culture?

I formerly worked in the academic field, but I left because of a combination of burnout, poor career prospects, and a feeling that my passions had shifted. I have always had a passion for bodybuilding and muscular physiques, which I felt I had to hide when I was in academia. I actually felt more shame and anxiety about being into muscles in the university setting than I felt about being gay! 

I’m 38, and I only became serious about bodybuilding when I was 31. Today I am a personal trainer and bodybuilding coach, but in terms of my own physique I am an amateur / passionate bodybuilding hobbyist. Like most sports, professional success requires a blend of genetic predisposition and starting young; what slim hopes I might have had of becoming a pro, or even a prominent amateur competitor, would have required me to start a dozen years sooner than I did. However, there are many reasons why someone would pursue bodybuilding beyond professional success!

Is bodybuilding culture welcoming of gay folks like yourself?

Unfortunately, professional bodybuilding can still be a homophobic space, but at the amateur level this has never been an issue for me, and in fact I’m a member of a large, robust, and mutually supportive community of gay and queer amateur bodybuilders. I definitely feel more comfortable being myself where I am right now than I did previously.

Can you explain what training and being a trainer in a gym is like?

Photo provided by Michael Collins

I consider bodybuilding competitions to be an artistic practice and a form of body modification, less a professional sport and more like the Kiwanus Music Festivals I would compete in as a youth. You labour in solitude for months to produce an aesthetic object that exists in time, then you produce that aesthetic object for a panel of judges alongside peers who have done the same, and then you are ranked according to a fairly strict and narrow sense of what determines worth in this specific arena. I think bodybuilders have more in common with concert pianists than they do with football players.

Before the pandemic, I wanted to be the Julia Child of lifting weights, helping people who are anxious about it and ignorant of it because of that anxiety, showing them this is their space too, and they have a right to learn how their body works and how to make it stronger. 

I trained in-person, mostly people I would call “beginners.” In the gym I taught basic fundamentals like how to deadlift and squat properly, how to make it so your back hurts less and you don’t get winded going up three flights of stairs, and so on. I had prediabetic clients who used weight training as a way of managing that condition.

How did your training practice change once the pandemic took hold?

Gyms in Toronto were closed for almost nine months straight. It’s important to tutor beginners in basic physical movements to avoid injury, so it was difficult to train my clients virtually. Also, beginners don’t have access to their own power rack, olympic barbells, and collection of plates! 

So, during the pandemic, I shifted more to coaching people who are already well-versed in lifting and who want to further a physical transformation, often who want to compete as amateur bodybuilders (something I’m thankful I got to do myself for the first time in 2019). I shifted to work that can be done virtually, like programming people’s workout plans, diet plans, etc.

What is the best part of your craft?

Photo provided by Michael Collins

Some of my clients tell me they have had very troubled or even hateful relationships with their bodies. I find it very fulfilling when someone has discovered the pleasure of how strong their body actually can be, of how good it can feel to regularly test your limits and feel them gradually expand. It’s lovely to help someone transform in a way they long desired but felt was impossible. The sense of pride and pleasure that can awaken is very rewarding to see.

What advice do you have for folks who want to get more involved with bodybuilding and gym culture?

Find your people. They’re unlikely to be the influencers on Instagram who dominate the field (although I know of a few who really warm my heart with good, well-considered, intelligent feminist or generally progressive insights). Instead, find people who are working for a similar goal and who have similar values as you. People who are on a similar path, but who may be a step or two ahead. They’ll be a great resource for learning (and there’s so much to learn if you’re new) and for mutual support. For me, Twitter has been good for this.

Also, think about what kind of gym that’s available to you and what kind of community there is. The communities in smaller, independent gyms are normally male-dominated, but they are often supportive and focused on teaching, learning, and mutual support. And, if you have the money and you know someone who is a good fit for you, hiring a knowledgeable trainer is my best advice. 

Additional video interview

Hear personal trainer Michael Collins describe more about his journey to bodybuilding, his vision of the inclusiveness of gym culture, and how gym communities are shifting to support all types of bodybuilding enthusiasts.

Interview with Michael Collins [19:04]
inclusiveness · nature · self care · yoga

Yoga Outside

When it’s cold outside, and I’m lying on my couch in a Wordsworthian mood, I think about my summer fitness activities. Doing yoga outside for the first time was one!

Over the years I’ve done yoga almost exclusively inside (including stretching in my bathroom). What I remember about inside yoga:

  • Get there early to get a spot where you want to be–the mirrors or the walls, the back or the front, near or away from the door.
  • Can be a tight fit. Tape on the floors so you know where to park your mat.
  • People half ignoring you, half checking you out.
  • Water bottles, quick dry towels, and stretchy outfits outside of my price range.
  • Bells and bowls and Buddha statues and instrumental flute playlists.

This is a broad brush. I am certain yoga studios have a range of vibes. But the juiced-up versions of inside yoga seem to encourage focusing on all the wrong things about yoga. When Sam sent around this link, US-based yoga studio popular with celebrities opening first Toronto location, I could only imagine this chain’s next level of bougie. (As the lead image suggests, it’s teal-only yoga wear there).

Trying Yoga Outside

This past summer, when the studios were closed due to COVID, a few friends and I signed up for a morning outside yoga class. And when I say outside I mean we were on the grass next to the parking lot of a local craft brewpub.

A woman is meditating in a half-nose pose with her arms above her head - Sanjali padmasana. Back view
“A woman is meditating in a half-nose pose with her arms above her head – Sanjali padmasana. Back view” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0. So, not me.

Yoga outside immediately felt different from yoga inside. Sunshine, grass, trees, sky, breeze. A smallish group, there was friendly eye contact and slightly sheepish smiles. No floor tape–my choice of mat placement was shade or sun. Folks brought water, but registration also came with a beer, which you could drink after the session–or during, as our yoga instructor did.

When I stretched to the sky, I reached for tree branches. When I rolled a bit off my mat, soft grass cushioned my body. When I relaxed in savasana pose, the sun warmed my face. The traffic, bugs, and uneven ground were all noticeable, but they somehow made me feel more connected to my place and space. I didn’t need or want bells or a flute playlist.

Yoga in North America

I am far from the first to note that North Americans culturally appropriate yoga. As Yoga International’s Arundhati Baitmangalkar says, “Yoga is a spiritual practice. It is a way of living. It’s a practice of self-study and mind management. It is a way of thinking, speaking, being—and more. Yoga is a part of Indian culture and heritage.”

Doing what I will call “middle-class white person yoga at 11 in the morning, beer in hand” was definitely NOT reflecting the culture and heritage of India.

But being outside meant no appropriated or commercialized artefacts or symbols. The instructor was inclusive and supportive in her instructions. She was not South Asian, but her shape and size was that of a regular person, not someone who stepped out of a Lululemon yoga ad. No teal.

Baitmangalkar goes on to note that in many studios the goal is a workout, not yoga. I fully accept that the outside yoga was more of a workout. But my friends and I were also looking for some mind management and self-care after having struggled with supporting others during the COVID pandemic. We wanted to reconnect with our spirits and the world that day.

I am not recusing myself of participating in cultural appropriation by doing craft beer yoga, but being outside the inside studio made me consider how I might further educate myself and engage with yoga living. I’m going to start with some of the recommendations in Baitmangalkar’s article.

For those who practice outside yoga regularly, please share your experiences in the comments!

diversity · fitness · inclusiveness · team sports

Pickleball

Two women in green shirts smiling and posing with racquets and a silver cup
Team Racquet Ralph (Grace-Ann and Elan) posing with the league cup we certainly did not win, but took a photo with it anyways.

Know someone playing pickleball right now? If you do, they will likely tell you it is a great sport–easy to play and growing widely in popularity.

As a newbie to pickleball (just finished my first half-season this fall), I would like to share some early reflections (and random internet searches) to consider why pickleball is gaining popularity, and for whom.

A Fun Sport for Seniors, and Others

Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Seattle by three men: two are described by this article as a congressman and a “successful businessman” who thought up the sport to entertain their bored children.

Today, pickleball is often regarded as a retirement (or near retirement) sport. This 50 Plus Today website article describes the key benefits of pickleball as:

  • Healthy (and easy on joints)
  • Easy to learn
  • Social
  • Space friendly
  • Playable at various ages
  • Playable at various skill levels
  • Affordable
  • A year-round sport

As a tennis-style game, but played with a wiffle ball and on a slightly smaller court, it can be played singles or doubles. Because the point count ends at 11 points (with a 2-point difference), a round of pickleball can be played in as little as 10-15 minutes.

Where I live, in Ontario, Canada, the province’s Pickleball Ontario association has a publicly available policy statement on diversity and inclusion. The document describes the board’s commitments to increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups in pickleball, and includes a long list of inclusive key terms. The rec league I have played on is “open,” so no gender specific teams.

Paying to Play

The above suggests to me that the sport is aspiring to keep its barriers to entry low by encouraging players of different ages and abilities.

Pickleball isn’t an expensive sport compared to some others, but it still requires equipment (paddles, nets, court shoes) and sufficient indoor or outdoor space. Although you can make an available tennis court work for free, sports clubs organize leagues so charge individuals and teams to play.

Folks with philanthropic and economic interests are tapping into the growing popularity of pickleball. On one webpage I found that pickleball was being used as a charity fundraiser event. On another page, an investment company provides advice to retirees by comparing wise investing with pickleball strategy. To understand and play pickleball today is to have some social and cultural capital.

For some, the sport itself may represent affluence. This Wall Street Journal article from 2018 highlights tensions in an American retirement community after some residents proposed installing a pickleball court, while others disagreed due to the high cost. The article’s author describes the disagreement among these residents as a symbol of the growing wealth gap in America.

An “International” Sport

Pickleball has been described as a sport as growing in popularity around the world. This site lists over 2 dozen national pickleball associations. I do notice that mostly Western and middle- and high-income countries are on the list. 

On the web I found evidence of pickleball being played in some countries not on the above international associations list–but the players are vacationers, not residents. Examples below describe all-inclusive pickleball getaways, featuring special training and tournaments:

At the time of writing, there are only a few web articles I could find that consider the racial and ethnic diversity in pickleball, but both articles I found were behind paywalls.

The Future of Pickleball

The folks I’ve met in our fall pickleball league at the YMCA gym are a friendly and fun group, mostly couples or buds in their 40s to 60s. I expect most of them only wish they were retired.

Next season, the league moves to a venue across town with indoor courts that are dedicated for pickleball. The cost to play will double.

Pickleball evolved from other racquet sports. It will be interesting to see how this game continues to grow and evolve, depending on who plays it, and where.

cycling · fitness · inclusiveness

All Bodies on Bikes in Bicycling Magazine!

Inside Knowledge column in Bicycling Magazine

You might see Bicycling magazine and think it’s all impossibly thin, impossibly young, men, the greyhounds of the cycling world, but these days you’d be wrong. This month’s issue features Marley Blonsky of All Bodies on Bikes. Nice!

What is All Bodies on Bikes all about? Their slogan is, “All Bodies are Good Bodies. All Bikes are Good Bikes. All rides are to be celebrated.” I like it.

All Bodies on Bikes is a movement to create and foster a size inclusive bike community. All Bodies on Bikes hosts social bike rides where everyone is welcome to move their bodies joyfully at a pace that is comfortable and safe for them.

If you use Facebook, their Facebook community is pretty active and incredibly supportive. 10/10 recommend.

Here’s a trailer for the film, All Bodies on Bikes:

camping · cycling · fitness · inclusiveness

49 Nights in a Hammock: 17 Lessons (Guest post, #bikepacking)

Sorry to leave you all hanging for so long! When I wasn’t hanging in my hammock, I was catching up on school and much needed rest! As fun as adventuring is, it’s also tiring. I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a while to dig into exciting research projects, focus on my course work, and start drafting ideas for a book. My posts will be sporadic until I have a lighter course load in the spring. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @JoyBringingHope.

Image Description: In the top right corner of the photo is a background with grey and white clouds with a tiny bit of blue peaking through, below it but still in the background are brightly coloured trees in red, orange, and yellow. In the foreground, surrounded by first tall grass and then a neatly manicured clearing of grass, is another group of trees that are yellow-green and in the centre of those is a forest green hammock covered by a rain fly.
  1. Give yourself time to adjust to a hammock and ask for comfort tips. Initially I found my comfort was inconsistent, so Hennessy suggested positioning my head at the (slightly) lower end of the hammock. It worked! Now beds annoy me. 😂 A quick pre-purchase web search revealed that many North Americans are surprised that they prefer the comfort of a hammock over the comfort of a mattress. (Don’t tell Sleep Country or hammocks will start costing thousands of dollars!)
  2. Pillows are unnecessary (and uncomfortable) while on your back, but useful when sleeping on your side – a sweatshirt works too. 
  3. Practice setting up before you actually need it — or at least leave plenty of time to set up before dark.
  4. Falling asleep staring up at the stars is epic… I will never tire of that.
  5. Be prepared for sudden rain even if it isn’t in the forecast.
  6. As the nights start cooling down dew makes the rain fly necessary even when rain isn’t forecast.
  7. Waking up to chirping birds or chittering squirrels can be fun… and rain flies provide poop protection!

Image Description: the background fills the left half of the photo with green grass, it is lush towards the top of the photo, but sparse and interspersed with dirt towards the bottom. The right half of the photo shows a close up of part of a tree trunk in the foreground. In the centre of the photo peaking around the tree and looking directly at the camera is a brown squirrel with a cluster of seeds from a cedar tree in it’s mouth.

  1. Apple trees smell nice, but you’d better have a strong rain fly! 😆Hennessy’s held up well. 🙃
  2. Position your hammock so that the zippered side of the bug net opens towards the easiest exit… which conveniently also allows easy sunrise photos from your cozy sleeping bag.
  3. If you’re hammocking between posts be aware of joints where your rope can get jammed. Always use tree straps since they are easier to get out of a jam or replace if necessary.

Transcript: “I definitely just used my bicycle as a stool so I could get up here [onto the top of a pavilion beam] because my hammock rope was wedged into there [between the joints] and it required hacking with a tent peg in order to get it free. So this was an adventure for the morning. Problem solving while hammock camping.”
Image description: A caucasian woman with rosy cheeks wearing glasses, a red rain coat, black gloves, and a blue helmet over a thin grey hat. I am perched atop a wooden beam at the edge of a pavilion, holding my hammock rope and a tent peg in one hand while videotaping myself with the other.
  1. Water bottles in plastic bags are great for keeping the fly taught by weighing it down. 
  2. Watch the forecast and find covered shelter if it’s likely to be rainy *and* windy. Pavilions, bridges, and Kingdom Hall overhangs are prime possibilities. School entrances could work in a pinch, but would definitely be a privileged mea culpa option which likely has a relatively high risk of police being called. Huge thanks to my friend Eric Todd for brainstorming with me when buckets of rain were expected and the only pavilion in Espanola was unavailable!
Image Description: In the background is a grey sky, with a forest of trees. In the mid-ground is highway 6 leading out of Espanola. In the foreground is the distinct architectural design of a Kingdom Hall: a red brick building with a wide and long overhang that is big enough to fit a large SUV underneath, the ground beneath is red cobblestone. Underneath the overhang is a blue winter shovel, beside a yellow bin (presumably holding sand), beside my bicycle which is covered in a camoflage bike parka. Beside all that, just in front of the main doors to the building the edge of a blue tarp can be seen on the ground blowing slightly in the wind. On top of this is my hammock with bug net (to protect against the few remaining mosquitoes), then inside that is my sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and an emergency blanket.
  1. Better yet, buy a big rain fly. The one mine came with was perfect most nights… but nowhere near sufficient during windy storms. 
  2. If lightning is expected look for a shelter with electricity (eg. fancy picnic pavilions and Kingdom Halls). At the very least avoid tying to the tallest trees… maybe also avoid close proximity to large bodies of water. Stay off the ground though… it’s a conduit. Shoes don’t have enough rubber for lightning protection. (Don’t ask me why. I read this somewhere online while freaking out at my nightmare stealth site.)
  3. Bring a sleeping mat for insulation; it’s also useful if you need to wait out a storm on the ground of a pavilion or simply can’t find suitable trees.
  4. Bring a balaclava to keep your nose and ears warm.
  5. Bring a spare dry bag to store your dirty shoes beside your hammock. 

cycling · fitness · inclusiveness · weight loss

What’s an argument you’re sick of having?

One of mine is the link between bike riding and weight loss.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE BIKES.

Painting on a building of a stick figure person painted in black lines hanging from a heart painted in red.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I think our cities need more cycling infrastructure. I think safe cycling is a disability rights issue. I think low car cities are feminist cities.

For me, the best holidays involve bikes.

Riding my bike puts a smile on my face.

And I think cycling is good for the planet. Cars are dangerous and polluting the planet. We’d all be better off if people rode and walked more and drove less.

But one of these things is not like the other…

Fewer cars won’t make people lose weight. In fact, what we need to get more people on bikes is a more inclusionary cycling culture. It’s not all thin men in lycra. Sometimes it’s chubby middle aged women in lycra. And sometimes there’s no lycra at all.

Here’s our posts about the lack of a connection between bike riding and weight loss:

Reasons to Ride a Bike (That Don’t Include Weight Loss)

The benefits of exercise are many, but long term weight loss isn’t (necessarily) one of them

“On yer bike” for oh so many reasons, but weight loss isn’t one of them

Big Women on Bikes

“Pretty fast for a big girl”: Notes from the road, #2

(Updated) Plus sized endurance athletes, we exist!

camping · cycling · fitness · inclusiveness

Nightmare Stealth Spot (Guest Post)

In the space of a few days, I had both the worst and the best campsites. 

I was in Thessalon on September 14th, when I had an utterly nightmarish campsite. Hopefully this gives you a laugh without giving my mom nightmares! It began with an electric storm that kept me up terrified I’d be struck and with no idea what to do to protect myself… something I didn’t research before leaving home! I tried googling this info, but my internet connection was the speed of dial up… so while I waited, I continued freaking out about the possibility of being struck by lightning. Eventually I managed to read a few articles that were only marginally helpful and then climbed out of my hammock to begin looking for a safer space to wait out the storm. Since I found nothing within close proximity, I figured curling up in my hammock on a thermarest was probably safer than being a tall thing seeking shelter in a fairly open area. 

As I returned to my hammock, I noticed a small plant in the middle of my “campsite.” Not knowing how to identify poison ivy, I freaked out… another thing I didn’t research before leaving home! After yet another extensive and painstakingly slow Google search, I concluded that it was in fact poison ivy. If I’d stepped in it while setting up camp, I’d long since spread it all over my clothes. In the morning I would need to figure out a place to wash my clothes and shower carefully just in case I’d stepped in it… something fraught with other risks since I don’t do well with many types of laundry detergents and artificial fragrances… both of which laundromats are full of.

Finally the lightning ceased and I fell into an exhausted but fitful sleep. I woke up to my 7am alarm, but I desperately needed more sleep so decided it was worth the risk of someone finding me there. By this time I’d been discovered stealth camping a few times and it had always ended in a great convo and laughter, so I wasn’t concerned. I figured the worst that would happen is they would tell me to leave… and I would leave… no big deal. 

Around 8am, I awoke to trucks sawing down trees on the next lot and approaching my “campsite” …which was also a construction site.* I have never scrambled out of my hammock and packed up camp as quickly as I did that day! Don’t worry though, I paused to snap a photo before tearing down and did a quick vlog before racing out of there. I did not look back. Really wish I’d left behind a note for the unsuspecting construction workers: “Thanks for the campsite… and not felling a tree on me! My day would have been soooo much worse if you weren’t skillful at guiding the trees as they fell!” (Note to those absolutely horrified by this story: I would not have stopped to video or even packed up if I didn’t think it was safe to do so.)

Idyllic spot on the beach? Maybe not…

Even with anxiety a trip like this can be fun… and vlogging my mishaps has been a great way to gain perspective and find humour in the challenging aspects of my adventure. Don’t worry… most sites are nowhere near as dramatic as this one!

Down the street, I paused to pick up my bear bag from the portapotty at the nearby park and to rearrange my load which was very higgilty piggilty. For some time I stood in the wind beside the playground alternating between feeling amused at the absurdity of the story and anxious about poison ivy. I was grateful that the rain held off until I could assemble myself and plan my next steps. 

It took a few hours, but eventually my day began to turn around, thanks in large part to another visitor to Thessalon who asked if I was biking across Canada, was empathetic when I immediately burst into tears, looked at the “poison ivy” photos I had taken and confidently told me it was not poison ivy. Thank you environmental guide turned musician visiting from the states for the first time in two years! We ran into each other a few times during the next few days and both appreciated the company of a new friend in the midst of our solo travels.

What I thought was poison ivy…
My second night in Thessalon I slept peacefully at the city run campground across from this beach.

Delightfully, a few days later I was gifted with the best campsite imaginable… a much needed reprieve! More on that another time!

*Yes, it was a bold stealth spot that likely only felt like a reasonable risk because of my social location as a white thin female. I can get away with things many others could not.

fitness · inclusiveness

Happy Bi/M-Spec Visibility Day!

Bipride coloured heart, September 23

Happy Bi/M-Spec Pride From the bloggers at Fit is a Feminist Issue. I don’t exactly how many other of the FIFI bloggers fall into these categories besides me, but let me say it’s a good chunk of us.

Why is this relevant to a fitness blog? Well, we’ve written a fair bit about the need for inclusive fitness spaces. So there’s that. But it’s also the case that invisibility broadly has health costs. While there’s been considerable work on health care for gay and lesbian people, bisexual health issues have been largely ignored. And this is particularly true for bisexual women.

I know some readers will ask why not just “bisexual visibility”? What’s this “M-Spec” add-on all about anyway?

What’s M-spec? See here for some definitions.

“A short term for the “multisexual spectrum” aka the spectrum of people who’re attracted to multiple genders. It’s an umbrella term that can include bisexual people, pansexual people, omnisexual people, etc. or even people who don’t use a label at all. It simply means someone who can experience attraction to multiple genders, even if they’re attracted to one particular gender more than any other (for instance, liking only girls most of the time but having the occasional crush on a nonbinary person). It also fits for people who experience split attraction such as a bisexual homoromantic person. Similar to aspec but for multisexuality. It’s primarily an umbrella term.”

It’s time to broaden the tent.

Thanks Alice for this one

I told you, September 23, the bisexuals all uncloak
accessibility · camping · cycling · fitness · inclusiveness

Rest and Spoons


By the time I reached Whitefish Falls on September 7th, I was tired. More tired than I realized at the time. 

An incredible view of the escarpment as I left Whitefish Falls en route to Espanola.

I called my cousins who recently moved to Iron Bridge to let them know that I was heading their way. They asked if it would be cheating for them to pick me up. I was *relieved* at the offer. My body needed a break. I told them I wanted to bike one direction, but didn’t need to bike both ways. Miles are fun to celebrate, but for me it’s about the adventure far more than kilometres ridden.

The next day I biked to Espanola, had a delightful visit with Ben & Hector (en route to Victoria), bought a few necessities for the cooler weather, and then loaded my bike into my cousin’s car. In the next couple days, I was surprised at how frequently I conked out on the couch in the middle of an admin task, too tired to even bother moving to my hammock. 

Inside my cousin’s car trunk with my bike and bags loaded for a lift to their farm.

People who have chronic health conditions marked by fatigue often call ourselves “spoonies” or make comments like “I’m low on spoons today.” I’m a spoonie, so in contrast to the average person with a full set of spoons it’s easier to overdo it (even when I’m *not* on a bike tour!) and more challenging to return to my baseline after overdoing it. On the Patients Rising blog, John provides a great overview of what Christine Miserandino‘s Spoon Theory means to so many of us with invisible chronic health conditions.

I’d always planned to prioritize pacing and sufficient rest, but this is easier said than done. Sometimes it feels like I’m playing tug of war with myself… trying to find the ever elusive line between challenging myself *just enough*, but not so much that I push into a crash. 

Ableism makes this more challenging as well. People who have never done bike camping generally think that 30-60km in a day (my original goal) is an astonishing amount to aim for, while many (most?) people who have done bike camping think it’s a really slow pace. These opposing perspectives on what constitutes a great accomplishment mean I must pay close attention to my own goals and not allow my sense of success to be swayed by how others view me or my abilities. As far as spoonie life goes, paying attention to my physical and mental health needs are key, which subsequently means that flexibility is key… so focusing on numeric based goals feels like asking for disappointment. 

Freeze dried chicken stir-fry while watching a spectacular sunset from the dock at Roe Park.

After four days of rest, on Sunday evening I rolled onward with strategies for a slower pace including: scheduling rest days, scouring Google Maps in advance for mid-ride rest spots (which could double as an early overnight spot), and ordering freeze dried meals so that running out of food doesn’t force me to ride further than I have energy for. Sunday evening I employed many of these tactics after leaving later than I’d planned. I rode 10km before enjoying a freeze dried chicken stir-fry while watching a beautiful sunset at Roe Park (aka Sunset Beach). It was perfect. 

For those of you who are wondering, I’m writing this from the cute city of Thessalon after a very eventful night… but that’s a story for another time!

I couldn’t resist adding one more photo from Sunset Beach (Roe Park)… this one looking out at the dock and lake was taken during sunrise.